March 2008

Sweet Honeydew

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The thing about Shawn Mullins is that his voice is so big it fills the room all by itself - he doesn't need a full band behind him for a full performance.

So two or three songs in during his acoustic show at the Troubadour last night, you forgot he was the only person on stage.

Shawn's currently promoting his new album Honeydew, and this show at the Troubadour was sparsely filled, mostly with industry folks - and I understand this was by design. The Troubadour had set up chairs on the main floor, in addition to their balcony, and nearly everyone had a seat. And the audience felt comfortable enough to ask Shawn questions in between songs, like whether or not he would collaborate again with the Thorns, to which Shawn said it was a possibility, and then jokingly asked if this was a press conference.

Shawn gained national attention some years ago when "Lullaby" became a #1 pop hit, followed by another minor hit, "Shimmer," from his Soul's Core album, which I hear as an Americana album, not a pop album. If you need further proof, you should have been at the show when I started bawling when he sang, "I'd drink a whole bottle of my pride," from "Shimmer." That's some good songwriting.

Shawn also told my favorite story about "Blue As You," from 9th Ward Pickin' Parlor, in which he was writing with Matthew Sweet and Pete Droge (the three of them round out the supergroup The Thorns), and Matthew was a little hung over from the night before and was napping in the other room. But they needed him to contribute the third verse to the song so they could properly share writing credits, so they carefully woke up him, and Matthew mumbled, "Interstellar rainbow on its cosmic wheel; rollin' where the wind blows, never standing still," while Shawn and Pete hastily wrote it down. And Matthew promptly went back to sleep.

THAT's great songwriting.

And there's more where that came from on Honeydew, as evidenced by "For America," "Cabbagetown," "All In My Head," and especially in the tragic "The Ballad of Kathryn Johnston," all from the new album. Shawn also covered James McMurtry's "Where's Johnny," and came back for TWO encores (even the Chris Thile Fan Club didn't get TWO encores!), which included two Kris Kristofferson songs.

An awesome show, and a sweet new album.

Still Punk?

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Slim Cessna's Auto Club tried to save me last Monday night, so I had to let Bad Religion lead me astray again last night. They do good work.

My knowledge of Bad Religion is peripheral at best, but it appears that I'm even more indie than I thought - because I thought the songs that weren't their radio hits were their least interesting songs (except for "The Hills of Los Angeles." That song kicks ass.). However, are they still a punk band? 'Cause I went to this show to see a subculture that seemed to be absent...Can the punk experts elaborate? I need to know!

(And if you want to take me to one of their sold-out shows in Anaheim this week, I love you.)

History Repeats

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This weekend, my dad made my mom and I watch PBS's documentary about Pete Seeger (such a thing is to be expected when your mom is a former hippie and your dad is an aspiring banjo player), and what I learned is how grateful I am to be living in a society that doesn't ban artists from the radio or blacklist them from TV shows because of their political views. Oh, wait....

It’s a rarity that I find a band I am truly fond of, but when I found Shane Tutmarc & The Traveling Mercies I got lucky! And, now the time has come for me to share them with you too. How did I get so lucky? Well, it’s a well known secret that a friend of mine, whose name goes unmentioned, is to be attributed with blessing me. Have Mercy!

Shane Tutmarc hails from Seattle, WA and is best known as lead man for the now defunct band, Dolour. A very bright and ingenious songwriter, Shane, his brother, Brandon, and their cousin Ryan have formed a tight family band, and the Mercies are just oozing with talent. It’s like a fresh breath of air to hear them play. And, the topics that Shane Tutmarc writes about have certainly hit home with me as I’m sure they will with music lovers all over. They pull sounds from many different music genres to keep it fresh and progressive. The instrumentations only add more color to songs about life and love. It’s the "next best thing in rock and roll", and I know you won’t be disappointed.

With their recent release "Hey Lazarus!", Shane Tutmarc & The Traveling Mercies are a band to keep your eye on!

Shane Tutmarc & The Traveling Mercies

You can check out Shane Tutmarc and the Traveling Mercies at:

Also check out Dolour at

And Now for Something Completely Different

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I went to the Foo Fighters show Wednesday night.

Yes, I said the Foo Fighters.

"You mean you know who the Foo Fighters are?" asked my 22 year-old sister, who apparently thinks I live in a cave.

(Okay, the only reason I know who the Foo Fighters and Serj Tankian are is because they've been featured on Loveline. And they sounded pretty smart when they were on that show - especially Serj Tankian - so I figured I'd be interested to explore their music a little. I realize that that's kind of the opposite of what Loveline's goal is - what they really want to do is draw in listeners with the bands, in hopes that the listeners will learn something. Instead, I listen to Loveline in hopes of laughing at their stupid callers, and end up learning about music, too.)

Not realizing that I'd accidentally be seeing Mike Stinson at the Gaysian bar last Saturday, I was afraid of having live music withdrawals, so at the last minute, I scored a pair of "obstructed view" seats in the rafters of the Forum - which is a nightmare venue to try to park at (the freaking House of Blues is easier than this joint), little did I know....So we missed all of Against Me! and most of Serj Tankian, but saw enough of him to realize that he is the brother from another mother of Big & Rich's Big Kenny. And when Dave Grohl announced that this was the show at which, "Everyone who has to work tomorrow is fucked!", he wasn't kidding (I was useless at work on Thursday). The Foos went on at 9:30p, and didn't stop until shortly before midnight. They're a band who is clearly proud to consider L.A. their hometown, and thrilled to have sold-out the Forum for two nights in a row.

But what I was most proud of is that I anticipated an unheard of level of debauchery, being in the "Cheap Seats." I expected to see fights, pot smoking, many overserved patrons...But what I witnessed in Collonade 24 at the Forum was nothing, NOTHING compared to the debauchery that went on in the lawn section of KZLA's Country Bashes at Verizon Wireless in Irvine. We had people puking on other people, enough weed to make Willie Nelson feel at home, men fighting, babies crying, and security guards having sex with female concert goers (we made the venue hire a different group of security guards the next year). The worst thing I saw at the Foo Fighters' show was a guy who'd lit up a joint, only to obey when security told him he had to put it out. WTF? Oh, and the drunk guy who got his leg stuck in a chair while trying to climb into another row was pretty funny, too.

But overall, compared to the country fans, you rock fans have NO IDEA how to party. Once again, the country fans have made me proud.

Now I Know

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A friend thought it would be funny to take me to his favorite Gaysian (get it? Gay + Asian = Gaysian) bar for their country night, which happens the first Saturday of the month, and to be honest, I thought it would be funny, too. I was really looking forward to having my picture taken with a bunch of Gaysian Cowboys, but I guess there's not really a big draw for that, because the crowd was (disappointingly) much more straight than that. However, I was happily surprised that Mike Stinson was playing that night (we were standing outside so my friend could have a cigarette before we went in. We could hear the band playing, and my friend saw a look of recognition pass over my face. "You know this song?" "No, I think I know the singer!" And I was right. I'm that damn good, people).

The only way you really know the Stone Bar is an Asian bar is it's a) in the middle of Thai Town, and b) there's a very large Buddha on the counter). So no pics of me with Gaysian Cowboys (but can someone arrange that?!), but I did have a great time. And I learned that I don't like duck. We went to eat at a Thai restaurant afterward, and in my drunken stupor, all I could remember was that my friend Britta (who is much more cosmopolitan than I am) loves duck. So I thought I'd order it. About half-way through, I realized I was eating duck, and couldn't eat any more. And when I got home, and was still thinking about having eaten duck, I threw up. Not from drinking. From duck.

But at least now I know.

Disco Party!

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Every year at the Country Radio Seminar in Nashville, the show I work for, After MidNite, hosts a Disco Party on the last night of the seminar. From what I hear, that is THE event to go to. I've always wanted to attend CRS, but the one year I thought that maybe I could actually save up enough money to go, my boss at the time talked me out of it, saying, "It's kind of just a big drinking party," (Hel-loo?!?! Isn't that right up my allegy?!), and in the years after that, I became important enough to run the station and shows while everyone else went to CRS, but not important enough to get to go.

THIS year, a trouble-making colleague suggested that I take one measly day off of work to fly out to Nashville and make a one-night-only appearance at the Disco Party. I found a cheap flight, my boss excitedly agreed (she's thinking, "Ha! Now I'll have someone else to help me work this thing!"), and plans were made. Except the most important question...What am I going to wear?!

I didn't want to spend a bunch of money on an outfit that I'd only wear once, so my initial reaction was to create some sort of "My Little Pony" '80s look (the host of our show is going as Gene Simmons, so I didn't think MLP would be too out of place at a disco party), but that turned out to take too much preparation for lazy little ol' me. Instead, I found a bargain at the vintage clothing store called Someone Else's, within walking distance of my apartment. Here's the outfit:


(Yes, these pics were taken in my fine My Little Pony bathroom.)

Dress: $27.
Platform shoes: $28
Pink Peace Sign Necklace: $5
Assorted other bracelets: Free.

Did I mention that Someone Else's is going out of business, so everything was 30% off? I got the whole thing for less than $50.

Here's a close-up of the dress:


And the shoes:


The dress I can pair with cowboy boots and wear to shows (in fact, I already have: at the Kelly Willis show. And I totally plan on wearing those shoes over the summer. But not in front of my mom. She thinks I'm too clumsy to wear crazy shoes like that. She's probably right, but that doesn't stop me.

Pics from the actual party forthcoming!

Two Nights at the Troubadour

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Sometimes I think I say I'm a bigger Jay Farrar fan than I really am. I guess he's someone I think I should worship, but in reality, don't.

I went to the Troubadour with high hopes on Tuesday, and for the first fifteen minutes of his set, was really impressed but after that, all of his songs kinda started to sounded the same, as I frequently find is the case with shoe-gazers. Since his opener was Anders Parker, also a talented musician, but also a little boring, I was hoping for there to be maybe a little something from their Gob Iron collaboration, and yet...nothing. Having said all that, Jay totally redeemed himself with his encore, a cover of "Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way" Jay Farrar-style. BAD. ASSSSSSSSSSS. Maybe I do worship him. A little.

The Punch Brothers were playing Thursday night, but silly me - I didn't realize until I got there that this was a show to be attended almost entirely by the Chris Thile Fan Club. Seriously. With a name like "The Punch Brothers," one would think that this would be more of a collective band unit - no, this show should have been marketed as Chris Thile and Everyone Else - okay, that's unnecessarily mean - Chris Thile and the Punch Brothers, instead of The Punch Brothers featuring Chris Thile, as it was marketed. I don't mean to say that it's a bad thing that Chris is the star, because he clearly is - and while the rest of the brothers are also clearly talented (No way is the former member of Nickel Creek going to associate musically with anyone who's not a virtuoso), I'm just saying let's call it like it is. Especially if Chris is going to keep referring to Punch, the new record by the Punch Brothers, as his second solo album....I mean, come on.

But yeah, I'd go see them again, too. In a heartbeat. Even with the Chris Thile Fan Club.