Bootleg Yeti and the State of Things

2017 is over.  It’ll go down in my history as being the year I forgot to get any haircuts at all, and for that time I mucked up my knee in the Lego Store while trying to make a Darren Hanlon minifigure out of spare parts.  It was also the year Beth made me a Bootleg Yeti Uglydoll.  It took six months, but we’re both quite happy with the results.  Here it is:

2018 is here.  So far, it’s the year everything with a battery–phone, garage door opener, car–konks out all at once.  It’s a good thing Bootleg Yeti is full of fluff.

That’s all I have to say about the past or the present.  I’m here to talk about the future…specifically the future of this website.  I’m going to start a new series of posts in the upcoming weeks called The Forgotten Concerts of 2017.  The series is going to deal with the shows I attended last year that I never got around to writing about.  There should be six or seven of them (some of which might actually be of interest to a couple of you).  I’ve got the marquees, setlists, ticket scans, and blurry stage shots ready; I’ve just got to come up with the blathering.  The concert write-ups were always some of my favorite posts, so I want to fill in the gaps in the history and concentrate on those going forward.  I wouldn’t expect much else to happen around here.

I’ll add the forgotten concerts down here as I write and post them:


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Teenage Fanclub @ the Neptune Theatre (3/24/17)

[NOTE: This is the first post in my new Forgotten Concerts of 2017 series.  As the show took place last March, I have relied heavily on the handwritten journal entry I wrote back then.  In fact, I have pretty much copied it word-for-word.]

Tonight’s the night Teenage Fanclub plays at the Neptune Theatre.  It’s a rainy morning and I’ve been up for about an hour.  Coffee, madeleines, puffins, etc.  I’m listening to Patty Duke.  Nothing gets me ready for a rock concert like Patty Duke.  It’s 8:32.

Beth got home at around 6:00.  We ate junk food for dinner and got ready for the show.  We headed off at 7:30, but stopped to get some cough drops on the way.  The Neptune’s doors opened at 8:00 and we arrived ten or fifteen minutes after that.  We still got front row balcony seats, though.

The opening act was Britta Phillips of the groups Dean & Britta and Luna.  She played a 9-song set mixing covers with original songs from her new solo album, Luck or Magic.  I thought she sounded a bit like Susanna Hoffs fronting the Velvet Underground.  Her husband Dean Wareham played guitar in her 3-piece band.  He helped out with some vocals, too.  They’re a very attractive older rock-n-roll couple.  I don’t know who I had a bigger crush on.  Probably Dean…he’s got amazing hair.  Either way, here’s the setlist:

Britta Phillips setlist: One Fine Summer Morning (Evie Sands) / Daydream / Fallin’ in Love (Dennis Wilson) / Million Dollar Doll / Ingrid Superstar / Night Nurse (Dean & Britta) / Tugboat (Galaxie 500) / I’ll Keep It With Mine (Bob Dylan) / Drive (the Cars)

The whole set was good.  I was especially happy to hear Dean Wareham sing my favorite Galaxie 500 song.  I also like how Britta Phillips started and ended her set with a ba-ba song.  That’s how you do it.

While I’m here writing out song titles, I guess I’ll write out Teenage Fanclub’s setlist.  Here it is:

Teenage Fanclub setlist: Start Again / Don’t Look Back / Hold On / I Don’t Want Control of You / Thin Air / Verisimilitude / It’s All in My Mind / The First Sight / About You / I Need Direction / The Darkest Part of the Night / Can’t Feel My Soul / Ain’t That Enough / I’m in Love / Sparky’s Dream / The Concept

Teenage Fanclub encore: I Was Beautiful When I Was Alive / Star Sign / Everything Flows

I’ll just get this out of the way: although Britta Phillips and her band sounded terrific, Teenage Fanclub’s sound was a bit murky in places with the vocals kind of overwhelmed by the guitars.  Still, this didn’t detract too much from my enjoyment.  Even with the sound issue, this was a great rock show.  It combined many of Teenage Fanclub’s biggest songs with a half dozen tunes from their latest release, last year’s Here.  It’s a tribute to the band’s consistency and the high quality of their songs that I really couldn’t tell what was new and what was old.  And Beth seemed to like it a lot, too.

The highlight for me, of course, was “I Need Direction”.  It’s my favorite Teenage Fanclub song and one of the quintessential ba-ba songs.  It was great to hear it live.  I was so jealous of the drummer who got to sing the ba-ba chorus.  I wanted to be that guy for those four minutes.  Other highlights included “The Concept”, “Start Again”, “Sparky’s Dream”, and “Star Sign”.  I’d never really noticed until tonight, but most of my favorite Teenage Fanclub songs are sung by the bassist, Gerard Love.  I always think of Norman Blake as the singer, but the songs are pretty evenly split between the three songwriters.

I should also mention “Can’t Feel My Soul” as a highlight.  I’m not all that familiar with the song, but the fifth guy, the keyboardist, took a break on that song and that really helped the sound issues I mentioned earlier.  The band sounded much better as a 4-piece.

The only song I didn’t care for was “I Was Beautiful When I Was Alive”.  It was the first song Teenage Fanclub played during the encore and it was a complete mood killer.  The song livened up at the end with the repeated “what are you gonna do about it?” part, but I noticed a lot of people checking their phones during the first few minutes of the song.  Not a good choice for an encore.

[NOTE: My journal entry ends rather abruptly with a mangled sentence that I’m not going to include here.  Instead, I’ll just say that this was a great show even if I did have a couple minor issues with the sound and song selection.  I consider myself lucky any time I’m able to catch up with one of my Scottish bands.  I never thought I’d get to see Teenage Fanclub in concert and I’m happy to be able to mark them off my list.  I was also impressed with Britta Phillips and need to track down that album of hers.]

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Hoo hoo hoo, hee hee hee!

I heard Nat King Cole’s “The Happiest Christmas Tree” this morning and decided it was time to decorate my own tree.  Here’s how it turned out:I used big multi-colored lights for the first time ever.  I’m not sure I like them, but I suspect I’ll get used to the look (especially when I put more presents under there).  The tree was supposed to go in front of the window so it would be visible from outside, but I didn’t buy enough strands.  I kind of like it in the corner.

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Mark Pickerel @ Sea-Tac Airport (11/22/17)

Sometimes it occurs to me that I’m a lucky man.  I suppose there are many reasons why I could say that, but the one that sticks out in my mind today is that I keep running into Mark Pickerel at the airport.  As long-time readers may recall, Mark Pickerel is one of my favorite Seattle-area musicians; he occasionally performs at Sea-Tac as part of the airport’s Experience the City of Music program.  I don’t know how often he participates in the program, but last Wednesday was the third time our airport schedules have overlapped.  As far as I’m concerned, walking around the terminal and suddenly hearing Mark Pickerel singing to passersby is pretty much the best thing that can happen at an airport.

Here he is out in front of the Sub Pop store on the day before Thanksgiving:

Although I missed the beginning and end of Mark’s performance, I was there for an hour and 15 minutes and got to hear over a dozen songs.  Here’s what he played while I was there:

Setlist: … / Be Here to Love Me (Townes Van Zandt) / Chim Chim Cher-ee (from Mary Poppins) / Forest Fire / Let Me Down Easy / She’s Got Wheels / Man Overboard / Dance Me to the End of Love (Leonard Cohen) / Graffiti Girl / Your Avenue / I’ll Wait / Essence (Lucinda Williams) / Don’t Look Back / This Strange Effect (Ray Davies)–>Back to Black (Amy Winehouse) / House of the Rising Sun (trad.) / …

Much like the other times I saw him, Mark played a mix of original material and cover songs.  Highlights for me included “Graffiti Girl” from his first solo album on Bloodshot, a brand new story song called “She’s Got Wheels”, and a two song medley of “This Strange Effect” and “Back to Black”.  The Ray Davies’ song was basically a request after I’d seen the title on the big setlist sheet sitting by the microphone stand and asked Mark about it.

As always, Mark was very approachable and willing to chat in between songs.  We briefly talked about the new song, what it’s like to perform at an airport, and I even made a joke about $5 hugs that initially went over well…until we thought about it and realized that I was sort of calling him a prostitute.  I tried to make up for it by giving him a bag of quarters as I was leaving.  I’m not sure that really helped.

[The first two write-ups can be found here: 4/7/16, 7/21/16]

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(Photo of) Vintage Photo(s) of the Day #4

Please accept the fourth and final post in my (Po)VPotD series.  This last batch is my old stand-by theme.  I’m particularly fond of the shot on the left.  The image itself is a fine one, but what I like the most is the elaborate design of the photo paper itself.  It says the year–1935–right there on it.  The back of that one says “Eagle River, Wisc”; the others have blank backs.

I’ve now shared all nine photographs I picked up during my recent trip to Fairlook Antiques.  Thank you for your interest.

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(Photo of) Vintage Photo(s) of the Day #3

Oops.  I was so busy trying to untangle the plot of Justice League that I almost forgot to do today’s post.  I remembered just in time.  So please accept this photo of two photos:

I give official names to all of my vintage photographs.  Although I haven’t scanned these two yet, I’m going to call them “girl and her cat in a tree.jpg” and “very stylish woman in a cool dress sitting on a bench in front of building that might be a barn but is probably just a boring house.jpg”.  Sometimes my titles get rather lengthy.

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(Photo of) Vintage Photo(s) of the Day #2

Did you see yesterday’s post?  If so, you might be interested in the second post in my (Po)VPotD series.  It’s this one right here.

I’ve always had a fondness for vintage photographs showing people playing (or at least posing with) stringed instruments.  Although I don’t have a specific stringed instrument tag to use as a link, I think I’ve shared six or seven of them here over the years.  I remember a few girls playing ukuleles and at least one guy who looked like Emmet Ray from Sweet and Lowdown.

Dang, it just occurred to me that I should’ve called this post “Dueling Banjos” instead of that wordy title with the unsightly pound sign and all those unnecessary parentheses.  But is Winnie even playing a banjo?  It has the right shape but looks awfully small.  Is there such thing as a mini banjo?  I don’t know the answer to that question.  I could look it up online and know in 20 seconds, but I think I’d rather just leave it.  I think I’ll wait until I meet someone who plays the banjo and ask them.

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(Photo of) Vintage Photo(s) of the Day #1

Due to the fact that I don’t currently have access to a scanner, I’ve been forced to take photos of the vintage photos I recently purchased at Fairlook Antiques out here in Seattle.  I didn’t think I’d like the way they’d turn out, but they look pretty good on the hardwood floor and the iPad takes surprisingly clear shots.  I like the results so much that I’ve decided to do a series of posts this week highlighting my nine recent acquisitions.  This is the first one:

Mr. Fairlook sometimes sorts his snapshots into boxes by subject matter. For example, he’s got sections labeled “Unusual” and “Cats” and “Military.” Although I found these two shots in a new, unsorted box, I suspect these photos would’ve ended up in the “Women, Affectionate” section.

I’m sorry to report that the football team the girls were rooting for (in the photo on the left) lost their game 6-0.  On the bright side, it appears that Nancy ended up with a cookie.

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Two kids fought over the glow-in-the-dark rat.

Here are two pictures of this year’s Halloween set-up:

The Ghost Piñata made an appearance for the third straight year.  I’m sure he would be a big hit with the younger trick-or-treaters if any of them ever bothered to look up.

This year I supplemented my traditional popcorn bowl of Kit-Kats with a bowl of Halloween-themed goodies.  I put all my finger puppet monsters and parachute witches in there along with a pumpkin necklace, a wind-up Dracula, and a trick-or-treating Snoopy figurine I’ve had since about 1981.  The goodie bowl was a big hit and led to my official Halloween Highlight.

Yes, a brother and sister fought over the big glow-in-the dark rat (as seen next to Dracula in the goodie bowl).  The boy had the rat at first, but the girl yanked it out of his hand and ran away while he was distracted by the Kit-Kats.  The girl was younger but much quicker.  She made it out to their parents on the sidewalk and began making her case for rat ownership. The boy whined while the parents raved about how cool the rat was.

They went on and on about it as they made their way to the next house.  The last I heard, rat sharing was being suggested.

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Grooming the Stars of Tomorrow

I miss writing about music, so I’ve decided to do a quick post in which I rank the top 5 releases put out by Sub Pop Records so far this year.  Here they are all arranged neatly on my front room rug:

It’s kind of difficult to read the title of that LP, so I’ll spell out everything for you.

  1. B-Sides and Rarities by Beach House – As the title would suggest, this is a collection of rare non-album tracks that originally appeared on compilations and 7″ records.  In addition, there are two previously unreleased songs.  Strangely enough, I find that this collection works almost as well as the band’s three preceding albums.  B-Sides and Rarities is definitely the best Sub Pop release of 2017.
  2. Red Comb – I purchased this comb at the Sub Pop store in Sea-Tac Airport.  I keep this comb in my gym backpack and occasionally use it to comb my hair after a workout.
  3. Green Comb – I carry this one in the bag I take with me on walks.  This green comb came in handy once at a coffee shop.
  4. Blue Comb – Some people rate the blue comb higher than the green one, but those people are wrong.
  5. Other Red Comb – I thought about going with Father John Misty’s Pure Comedy, but that record gets kind of samey after about twenty minutes.  The other red comb is definitely better.
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