Archive for July, 2009
Friday, July 10th, 2009
Aspen, CO (July 9, 2009)
We have been to Aspen four times in the last four years, which is way too often to play any market, no matter how “transient” the population is suppose to be, which might explain the very small turnout at The Belly Up. We were on first tonight and when we started there might have been thirty people in the audience, which has to be the smallest audience that we have perfomed to in years. By the end of the set the number was edging closer to two hundred, but it made for a very interesting show. The Belly Up isn’t our favourite room. It is a tiered club which is great for sightlines and great for those who are really into the music, because they can get up close to the stage, but the back tier is where the bar is and attracts geese in great numbers. The low ceiling projects their honking to the stage and throughout the club which can be very disruptive. Since there wasn’t anyone there at the beginning of the set we didn’t have to compete with the chatter and were able to settle in to our own groove. We had a very good night of music. Too bad there weren’t more there to enjoy it.
This isn’t my favourite town, as I’ve mentioned in past diaries. It’s hard to not enjoy being in the mountains, but the town is awash in wealth, dripping with rubies and pearls….in a decadent kind of way. It’s just a tad overwhelming. I enjoy watching all of the hyper-fit women (of all ages) sashay around town in their latest Lululemon apparel, it’s great to see such healthy, blond, blue-eyed, white-teethed children enjoying their summer vacations, I like that all of the Range Rovers slow to a crawl when you enter a crosswalk, but it’s all a little too much. Nevertheless, it’s always a welcome stop. After four years I know where to find the best coffee (Ink), the best bookstore (Explore), the best sandwich shop (The Butcher Block) and if I want to go for a hike I know where to find the trail head. All in all a very pleasant day.
I also got a chance to catch Son Volts set. They seemed to be firing on all cylinders as well. They’ve got a great sonic roar going on, which envelopes Jay Farrar’s voice and smacks you in the face, in a most entertaining way. I’m looking forward to hearing more.
Thursday, July 9th, 2009
Denver, CO (July 7 and 8, 2009)
We had the misfortune of travelling on Michael Jackson Memorial day. If I was at home I would have been able to avoid the TV coverage, but sitting in terminals and bars and hotel rooms it was kind of hard to not see some of it. Is there anyone else out there that was disturbed by the fact that the family trotted up Michael’s grieving eleven year old daughter in front of millions of people? Is there anyone else out there that thought the family members hovering around her look like a pack of predatory animals smelling fresh meat? Is there anyone else out there that doubts that right now, in some opulent office in LA, there is a meeting going on of the Jackson Family brain trust, who are trying to figure out how to best exploit this beautiful little girls pain, who in the last couple of days has had more face time on TV, the internet, print media than anyone since…well….Michael Jackson (I could write the premise for the reality TV show)? Wasn’t Michael eleven years old when he burst on the scene? Didn’t Michael go out of his way to keep his children out of the public eye, even covering their faces with towels whenever they were in public (even while dangling them from hotel balconies)? Does anyone see the irony, the tragedy the hypocrisy in all of this? Repugnant, salacious, hypocritical, decadent, distasteful, unsavoury..…I don’t know which word best describes the whole event and the media coverage. Watching it made me feel complicit and dirty….the sloooow decline. Rest in peace Michael, you supremely talented fish-faced freak. I’m not sure where you are, but it’s got to be a better place than the cesspool you escaped. May your children escape your fate.
We always seem to start our west coast tours in Denver. It’s the most obvious jumping off point. We fly in from Toronto are greeted by a bus and off we go. It’s a great place to begin: as you drive in to the city from the airport you see the Rocky Mountains looming up from the horizon, much like those original rock bands must have seen when they first crossed the country in covered wagons. We landed as the sun was setting and were treated to a spectacular sunset as the sun and the plains and the mountains all did their part, as if to say, “welcome to the West, it aint like the East”.
This is a start of a two and a half week tour with Son Volt. It’s a co-headlining bill where we will be swapping opening and closing positions each night. We are doing sixteen shows in eighteen nights, so it will be a brutal pace. Co-bills are interesting animals, especially if the two acts have never worked together or don’t even know each other (like the two of us). For the artists they can be fun, exciting, inspiring events or nasty, petty affairs….The goal is to turn a co-bill into a great night of music, despite any drama that may be happening behind the scenes. Stay tuned.
Opening night was at the Ogden Theater. Opening nights are always difficult no matter how many opening nights one has had in a career. In a co-bill situation there are all sorts of logistical issues that need to be ironed out, so that adds to the stress. The Ogden Theater is a theater in name only. It’s one of those venues that was once a movie theater but has long ago been gutted, had a bar put in to the back of the room, outfitted with a shitty soundsystems and had a couple of storage closets turned into dressing rooms; voila, a music club. These types of venues are all over the country and we usually try and avoid them. They are uncomfortable for the audience, uncomfortable for the band and crew and don’t usually inspire the most memorable night of music: tonight held true to form. We had a tough time with our sound on stage, fought it throughout the show and never really settled in to a groove. Despite the venue and despite our troubles, the audience seemed happy enough and they maintained a generous energy level throughout the show. Sometimes the gulf between what is happening on stage and what is happening in the audience is huge: it seemed that most people were having a good time and in the end that is what really matters. I didn’t catch any of Son Volts set….it was just one of those days.
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Wednesday, July 8th, 2009
We’ve added three new cover songs to ‘neath your covers, part 2 in the Exclusive section of the site. Just click and scroll down until you find the section or you can access them directly through the players located at the bottom of this blog entry. You can listen for free and hopefully that will inspire you to throw a few bucks into our hat by downloading a song or two.
The songs we’ve added are two Neil Young songs, Don’t Let It Bring You Down and Love In Mind, which we performed at the Massey Hall tribute show. We recorded these during rehearsals for the show so we caught them in their early phase. We have been performing Don’t Let It Bring You Down at pretty much every concert over the past couple of months so it has already begun to spin in a different direction and it is quickly becoming one of our favourite live “moments” each night. I think Love In Mind is one of Neil’s hidden gems. It’s a very quirky song which he composed on piano and, as far as I know, played it exclusively as a solo piano piece, so we had to do a bit of re-arranging to transform it into a guitar based, band song. It’ one of those pining love songs inspired by the road (our contribution to that genre is At The End Of The Rainbow from the Miles From Our Home album. Its a hidden track…remember that craze….so you have to play Those Final Feet and use the player to advance forward) The third song that we’ve added is a cover of the Rolling Stones No Expectations. We were asked to contribute a song to an alt-country tribute to the Rolling Stones. We recorded Moonlight Mile for the album, but while we were at it we decided to also take a crack at No Expectations for the sheer fun of it (and also so that I could fool around with my newly purchased National Resolectric guitar). Once the tribute album is released (there is no fixed release date just yet but it will probably be this Fall) you will be able to listen to and purchase Moonlight Mile from this site as well, but in the meantime …there is No Expectations. Enjoy.
Monday, July 6th, 2009
If you live west of the Mississippi (or are planning to be in the West in the coming few weeks) make sure that you check out our tour schedule. We are doing a bunch of dates with Son Volt as a co-bill. It should make for an excellent night of music. If you can’t be there in person then follow along by checking back to this page every few days. I’ll try and keep it updated with photos and incoherent ramblings.