February 2008

RIP Freddie Bell

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In 1955, Freddie Bell and the Bellboys recorded a song called "Hound Dog." While performing in Las Vegas that year, a young up-and-coming singer named Elvis Presley caught their act, liked the song, and decided he would record the song too.
Presley's record was a hit and he became a huge star. Bell's record was not a hit and he continued playing casino lounges.
Sometime around 1990, I witnessed Freddie Bell's act in a casino lounge in Reno. He did some of the expected lounge standards and told raunchy, stale jokes like this one:
"While the astronauts were up in space drinking Tang, I was down in New Orleans getting some poon!" While half the audience groaned and the other half struggled to do the math, he punctuated his point with "Poon!" (rimshot) "Tang!" (rimshot).
He preceded his version of "Just A Gigolo/Ain't Got Noboby" with an angry diatribe against David Lee Roth, who he accused of stealing "his" song.

Freddie Bell died on February 11, 2008. He may have been the last of the old-school Vegas lounge singers. He was certainly the last of something.

The Really and Truly Absolute BEST Thing About PRB...

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...that I can't believe Tink and the Occulator forgot was THE MAN CHANGING HIS PANTS IN FRONT OF THE OPEN HOTEL ROOM WINDOW.

What else needs to be said?

Following the Lead of Garth Brooks

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I've only seen Kelly Willis - one of my all-time favorites - play live once, and hardly even that. It was about a 20-minute Rykodisc showcase at SXSW (Yes! Only twenty minutes - not even the "full" 40-minute set that comprises a normal SXSW showcase!) some years ago, so you can only imagine the panic I felt when I read on her website that she was taking an indefinite hiatus from touring to focus on being a mom and raising her children (by the way, it's not like Kelly tours all that much to begin with - so when she says she's not touring any more - I kinda take that seriously!). I called my friend Pam and begged her (okay, she's a Kelly Willis fan, too, so it wasn't like I was pulling her arm or anything) to go with me to Santa Barbara last weekend to see her show at the Lobero Theatre. She agreed, and off we went, Thelma and Louise style, to Santa Barbara.

I should back-up a bit, before I get too carried away, and mention the prelude to our evening in Santa Barbara. The previous evening, a Friday night, I went (yet again) to The Mint to see Hayes Carll and Chuck Prophet (Chuck produced Kelly's latest record, Translated from Love, and was also playing in Santa Barbara the next evening). I've seen Hayes in better form - I imagine that because this was his first trip to Los Angeles, he wasn't as surrounded by as many people who were familiar with his music as he's used to. The band scheduled between Hayes and Chuck was the Carnival Dogs, but it seems that most of the band was unable to make it, so as filler, they got some terribly boring coffee-house singer to perform for a half-hour, and then two members of the Carnival Dogs joined the founder of the Mint (I found this a little confusing, 'cause I thought the Mint was founded in the '30s, but it seems that this was really the guy who refurbished it a few years ago) for three or four really boring songs that made me seriously consider leaving. I stuck around, though, and got to see Chuck play for about 30 minutes before I had to go back to work. Chuck was so-oo good, and it was really hard to leave early.

I wish I could say that Pam and I headed up the coast to Santa Barbara early enough on Saturday to do some wine tasting and sit down to a nice dinner, but c'mon, we don't have our shit together THAT much. We made it in time to walk up and down State Street a bit, and have Ben & Jerry's ice cream (Brownie Cheesecake is DELICIOUS!) before heading back over to the Lobero. Outside, we marveled at how cool it was that so many people knew who Kelly Willis was, and then we realized that her show was part of a subscription series called "Sings Like Hell." It was a very different setting and crowd than we're used to at the smoky bar joints - a sit-down theatre with no alcohol allowed inside. We worried that people would complain if we tapped our feet too loudly, and backstage, even Kelly admitted that shows like that are terrifying - because those people are actually listening! Kelly played a fantastic set accompanied by only a couple of guitars (and Chuck and a drummer at one point for "The More That I'm Around You"). I also learned at the show that the Dixie Chicks had requested to record Kelly's "Not Forgotten You" for their debut album, which Kelly denied them, saying, "That's MY song!", not realizing that they'd go on to sell a gazillion copies of that album. Now, of course, she's a sister-in-law to one of them, and the song they recorded by Kelly's husband, Bruce Robison, "Travelin' Soldier," became "the fastest descending #1" in the history of the Billboard charts. I would have loved to hear Natalie Maines singing that, and it seems like it would have been such a great inclusion on their Wide Open Spaces record, but I'd take Kelly Willis singing her own song over that any day.

This show has definitely left me yearning for the day when Kelly returns to touring again.

PRB '08 Top '10

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1. Even if as The Unknown Bowler (aka, TUB. What, no Crocket?), just pleased I got to bowl this year.
2. More pix of Justin, sans pants.
3. Dude-shopping w/ Justin. Or should I say, Pardner shopping, since it was for Western wear.
4. Being in the girls room as they tried on their new get-ups.
5. Joe Dana's reaction to my accordion shirt. I thought PRB stood for Polka Rock Bowling.
6. I didn't distinctly hear a "no" from Julie Wanda. I think we're engaged.
7. Though it wasn't PRB-related, seeing my long lost crush from 17 years ago who now lives in Vegas and has a family w/ 2 kids. Being thankful for not having any kids that I know about.
8. New cocktail: double espresso vodka + Coke. Think Coke Blak with booze.
9. Ruining the singer from American Steel's near-300 by foisting my bucket o' beer on him. Those guys were cool.
10. All that stuff that Vicky Pepper and I did in the room while Ms. Jen & Tink went to fetch something and came back half-expecting to catch Vicky Pepper and I in the act of doing something, but instead found us chatting all nonchalantly. Mmmmaybe.

Tink's Best of PRB 08

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My highlights were:
Laser show in the atrium. Proud to be an American!
Captain for Bad News Bowlers
Dancing at the Roxy Club at Sam's Town
Shoe shopping with the girls @ the Zappos outlet. Where ugly shoes go to die! (sorry girls).
Manic Hispanic
Finally getting to see the Adolescents play. (I know. I admit it. Not worthy!)
Wearing our cute vintage cowgirl outfits!
Seeing and spending time with good people (Al, Tammy, Wanda, Jen, Brian, Sandra, Justin and Vicki) and meeting new people (Ruth and her fam!)!

Jane is my middle name!

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I have a guilty pleasure. Well it's not really guilty because I'm not ashamed of it but I love Jane Austen's novels. And for the next couple of months they are showing all the PBS's Masterpiece productions of her novels. It started back in January with Persuasion, then Mansfield Park, now showing is Pride and Prejudice. AWESOME! I love my Sunday nights now.

Tink's Best of 2007

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Camping up in Idaho's Sawtooth's with the family! Stanley, Idaho was the coolest spot in America that summer, if you can believe it.
And that was my year!

"Dalí is immortal and will not die"

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Instead of an actual definition of Surreal, it should just read one person's name and that is Salvador Dali. The dude was Surreal in all aspects of his life.

End of 07, beginning of 08, LACMA hosted a show of Salvador Dali's work. It was extensive from early art, to set designs for the movie Alfred Hitchcock's Spellbound to the ccollaboration with Walt Disney called Destino, which was truly amazing.

For some reason the project was scraped, either from budget issues or personality issues or a bit of both. In 2003, Disney opened the archives and finally completed the animation.
I was surprised how small the painting The Persistence of Memory was. When you see it in books or in photos, it seems so larger than life but it's only 8x10, if that.
Dali loved Hollywood. He is quoted by saying . . ."I'm in Hollywood, where I've made contact with the three American Surrealists, Harpo Marx, Disney and Cecil B. DeMille."

I like how LACMA used large screens and video to capture Dali's work and yet traditional display of his work. One room had one end of the room screening Dali's screen test that he did for Andy Warhol and then at the other end was the same screening but upside down. There was no sound and it didn't show much. In fact it didn't make sense but I guess that was the point. There was a lot of work to view. To much in fact that it became overwhelming and that they were letting in a lot of people at one time, so things were bottlenecked at certain points.

A Peaceful Solution . . .

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is Willie Nelson. Went to his show at the new Nokia Theatre in Downtown L.A. Across the street from the Staples Center.
First of all the Nokia Theatre is a decent venue for once. Not to big and not a bad seat in the house.
This was my first time seeing Willie Nelson perform live. I missed Johnny, Roy and Jerry Lee is unreliable (sorry Killa) and well Willie is one of the last "outlaws". Highlights was nod to Crazy and then a triple treat of Hank Williams, plus a few hits.
He has a couple of his sons perform with him. One of his sons is awesome blues guitarist but when he sang I was a bit thrown off. I thought it would be deeper but it wasn't. Just didn't mix. Both sons are into Bob (Marley, that is) which I think brings musically a even more laid back/relax vibe to the night.
At the beginning of the show he played this mini movie/video of him kicking back in Lucky, Texas for the annual lawnmower race. Stars like Luke (I heart) and Owen Wilson, Woody Harrelson, who I thought was awesome in The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio by the way, and unfortunately Jessica Simpson were featured. It was very cute and had a few laughs.
Willie played his anti war song A Peaceful Solution which got everyone on their feet. It has great lyrics. I really do think we need to take back America.
I was disappointed that he didn't perform Hello Walls, one of my faves!

A New Day for the Duhks

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There are only three of the original five members of The Duhks (pronounced "Ducks") left, and it was with much curiosity that I went to see them at the Knitting Factory last night. Much of the Duhks former appeal, I believe had to do with the look of former lead singer Jessee Havey - a girl who's arms and upper chest are covered in tattoos - singing old timey music. Certainly not the norm.

However, as much as I love Jessee, I found myself a quick fan of the new lead singer, Sarah Dugas, and thought her introduction was a perfect one - just enough fan favorite songs, plus plenty of songs from their forthcoming album, which they just recorded in Nashville. Sarah's voice is similar, albeit not identical, to Jessee's, but Sarah sang even the "old" songs with as much sass and confidence as if she was the one who had performed the songs on the record, too.

Appropriately, fiddler Tania Elizabeth and banjoist Leonard Podolak took over introductions on a few songs that had a place in the band's history prior to Sarah's inclusion, but in such a seemless way that one never knew she hadn't always been part of the band. Guitarist Jordan McConnell is still with the band, but percussionist Scott Senior has been replaced by Sarah's brother, the understated but very talented Christian Dugas (Scott has chosen to remain off the road, due to the birth of his second child, and ironically, Christian and Leonard also played together in a band called Scruj MacDuhk - from which Leonard came up with the current band name).

So, yeah, I'm anxiously awaiting the new album from the Duhks, and the next ripple in their pond.

My Grammy Weekend

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For someone who didn't watch the Grammys on TV, I sure did go to a lot of Grammy-related events this weekend.

I take that back. I caught a glimpse of I think Kanye West singing something while waiting for my friend Pam to get ready (she had the Grammys on TV when I came over Sunday night). Unmistakeable? Irreplaceable? Something like that? I was clearly impressed.

Several co-workers playfully accused me of being a "show whore" when I told them that prior to the private Dierks Bentley show I was scheduled to attend on Friday night, I would also be attending Yep Roc's Grammy Showcase at the Mint, thanks to Wanda and her college radio magic. We were mainly there to see Jim Lauderdale, who was nominated for (and later won!) Best Bluegrass Album for The Bluegrass Diaries. Jim's Friday night bluegrass set was pleasant but quiet, and a couple of times I wanted to punch the ass holes standing in front of us for talking so damn loud.

You'll have to ask Wanda about Peter Case and Doyle Bramhall, who followed Lauderdale, because after Jim, who was our priority, I went over to the Knitting Factory. I'm not embarrassed to admit that I'm a Dierks Bentley fan mainly because the very first time I saw him perform live, he did a really, really great job - and the merits of that one show (although I've seen him several times since then) have made me forgive him for not having a personality. Anyway, when I learned that Miranda Lambert and Dwight Yoakam were scheduled to make appearances, the value of this show skyrocketed for me.

And the show did not disappoint. I've seen Dierks enough times to kind of know his formula - I know that he's going to play the "hits," as well as "can't-miss" album cuts like "Domestic, Light, and Cold," "Cab of My Truck," "Wish It Would Break," etc. However, Dierks strayed from the norm with this show: instead playing album cuts like "Can't Live It Down," and introducing a new song, "Life on the Run." Miranda Lambert was the first guest to join Dierks for a duet of "Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way," which as you may recall, she performed with Jack Ingram on CMT Cross Country, and at this show, name-checked Jack - Nothin' wrong with that! (If you get that reference, know that I love you.) Following Miranda was Brad Paisley, who performed "Folsom Prison" and "Act Naturally" with Dierks. Next up - Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, who played guitar for another of Dierks' album cuts, "Distant Shore." The kids from Paramore were up next, and who knew Hayley could do "Jackson" so well?! They also performed the Foo Fighters' "My Hero," in honor of Chris Shiflett, who was scheduled but couldn't be there. The quote of the night belongs to my boss, who was in the restroom when Dwight Yoakam came out for the encore, to perform "Close Up the Honkytonks" and "Love's Gonna Live Here." "Wow, Dwight can really clear a bathroom!" was her comment upon returning to our post.

I took a breather from all-things Grammy on Saturday, before heading back over the Mint for the Americana Music Association's Grammy party, hosted by Sin City (I have now been to the Mint so many times in the past month, the girl at the door knows my last name). Pam and I are so cool that we said we'd be there at 9p, but we wound up leaving her place on the West Side at 9:30p. Fortunately, nothing really got underway until 10:30p, when the Sin-City All-Stars started their set. They're mostly a jam band, but guest appearances from Travis Howard (who performed "Famous In a Small Town," the song he co-wrote with Miranda Lambert, and which was nominated for a Grammy - but lost to Carrie Underwood) and Aaron from Shurman were much appreciated. Ted Russell Kamp was also in the audience, and if it was up to me, he'd have played, too. Jim Lauderdale was the well-deserved prince of the evening with his Grammy-win, and his hour-long set would have been awesome, enough....even if Lucinda Williams and Charlie Louvin hadn't come up on stage to sing with him! (Lucinda was standing right next to me for a little while - and I can honestly say I have never, ever been more nervous in MY LIFE).

People started clearing out around 1a, but they should have stuck around, because shortly afterward, Jim Lauderdale and Randy Kohrs started an impromptu acoustic performance by the bar. After two songs, it was suggested that the party be moved upstairs (I didn't even know the Mint had an upstairs!), but it was now 1:30a, and people, I had to be at work at 10a the next morning...and I don't like Monday mornings to begin with.

And now, I am Grammied out.

The Beatles Across the Universe?

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The Beatles make it (literally) across the Universe!

The Beatles have yet again, made music history, but this time in a bit of a different way...okay, a real different way. Last week, The Beatles song "Across The Universe" was literally catapult across the the Universe by NASA!

Scientists are continuously discovering things about the Universe they didn't know before. I will never say that there is not life on another planet, because there is too much we don't know. Every time I truly think of our "big" blue planet floating out there in space, it blows me away. We don't stop often enough to think about how miraculous that is. We're too busy trying to earn a living, take care of our families, etc. But, thought is infinite and the imagination can take us far in our journey. Who knows, maybe someone, somewhere far, far away will be listening and trying to make sense.

To read more (click on the link below):


Engineers at JPL's mission control initiated a signal telling the NASA's Deep Space Network to send the song into space. Image credit: NASA/JPL.

Pack Your Parachute!

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Well, so here I am arriving at Safari Sam's for the Hot Club of Cowtown show and looking for a parking space when I'm accosted by a security guard. He motions with his arm, and I think he's just being nice and pointing out an available parking spot for me, but when I start to back up, he comes around to my passenger door and says that what he was really doing was asking if he could ride with me. Goodness. I politely laugh, and he makes some comment about how pretty my eyes are, do I have a boyfriend, and actually, he does have a spot for me - he'll just go move a shopping cart out of the way. Lovely. I pull the truck around to the next row of parking spaces, he moves the shopping cart, I turn off the engine, and because I'm not responsible enough to have all of my crap together the MOMENT I park, I reach into my purse to gather ID, cash, debit card, chapstick, etc. There's also a good song on the radio, and I'd really like to also run a hairbrush through my hair before I go into the venue, and I'm hoping that this security guard will leave me the hell alone JUST LONG ENOUGH for me to gather everything up and make sure I look okay. No such luck. Here comes the tap on the window. Inwardly groaning, I turn the battery back on, and roll the window down. While I'm still trying to put all my stuff together, he asks me why I didn't just valet park, and I think, "Because you didn't give me a chance to!", but I say, truthfully, "I don't like other people driving my truck." "Well, you're in the valet area, so they'll make you pay anyway." "This is supposed to be a free lot." "It's okay. If they ask, I'll tell them you're okay to park here. Let me see your left hand?" I'm now super-annoyed, but I'm not willing to risk having my truck be fucked with, so I'm still smiling and trying to be polite, without being encouraging. While I'm walking to the venue, he continues his pursuit and we have a conversation about how small my feet are, and although I try to convince him that it's an optical illusion, I really have some pretty wide feet, he's not buying it.

I manage to make it into the venue without further incident, but now I have to figure out an escape plan - because if he's still out there when I leave, he's going to ask me for my number. Now, I can already tell there's no future with this guy, because a) he's clearly not very smart, b0 as a security guard, he more than likely does not meet the criteria established in the Fully Employed M-A-N program Wanda has enrolled me in, and c) he does not seem like the kind of guy who would want to go to a lot of country shows. He seems more like the type to want to see Snoop Dog or Kanye West. Clearly not a match made in heaven. So my options are:

a) Be a grown-up and upon leaving, gently tell him I'm flattered but not interested.

b) Meet someone else inside and have him walk me out at the end of the evening.

c) Give him KROQ's Loser Line.

d) Give him my ex-boyfriend's home phone number and use the name of said ex's female sometimes-roommate.

If you guessed "A", you should know I'm not that mature. Puh-lease. I actually lucked out and went with option "B" - and that way I didn't have to lie. But man, I'm so glad I had options "C" and "D" in my pocket. You should always have a back-up plan.