This is my 1,709th post. To celebrate, please accept this photograph of my basement ceiling.
Thank you for stopping by.
This is my 1,709th post. To celebrate, please accept this photograph of my basement ceiling.
Thank you for stopping by.
Last night I went to see Nick Lowe and Josh Rouse at the 20th Century Theatre. Both musicians performed solo acoustic sets; Josh served as the opening act.
I’ve been a fan of Josh Rouse’s music since I first heard “Suburban Sweetheart” on the Sounds of the New West compilation in 1998. I saw him open for the Cowboy Junkies a couple years after that, and then lost track of him as a live performer. I still bought each of his new studio albums, but didn’t manage to catch up with him again for 16 years. What I mostly remember about Josh’s live show back then was how dull it was. If you’re less interesting than the Cowboy Junkies, then there’s definitely something wrong.
Well, I’m happy to report that Josh Rouse has made great strides as a live performer. He’s quite engaging now. He seems comfortable up there, tells stories, and blows a mean harmonica. It also helps that he’s got so many more quality songs to choose from (originally recorded in different styles). Josh mixed it up and played a selection from his entire career. He performed the title track off his debut album, a few songs off the incredibly poppy 1972, an assortment of songs from his Yep Roc years, and even a new tune called “Sad MF”. I’ll let you figure that one out for yourself. Here’s the setlist:
Setlist: It’s the Nighttime / JR Worried Blues / A Lot Like Magic / New Young / 1972 / Time / Sad MF / Dressed Up Like Nebraska / Comeback (Light Therapy) / Crystal Falls / Love Vibration / The Ocean
Josh Rouse closed out his set with a version of “The Ocean” that had the audience singing the “sinking down slow, sinking down slowly” line over and over again as he walked off stage. I’m usually not into audience participation, but it was quite lovely.
Nick Lowe is my second favorite 67-year-old British musician and he hardly ever makes it out to Cincinnati. This was actually my first time seeing him live. It was perfect timing, too. I found a used copy of his 1999 box set, The Doings: The Solo Years, a few months ago and have been playing it in my car non-stop since then. I’ve heard “American Squirm” about 40 times. I can honestly say that I’m more of a Nick Lowe fan in October of 2016 than I’ve ever been before. I consider myself lucky that he scheduled a show a mile from my house right in the middle of my Nick Lowe Phase. That kind of timing rarely happens.
Want to know what I think? Nick Lowe is a brilliant performer and you should check him out if he ever comes anywhere near where you live. Even if you only know the hits like “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding?” and “Cruel to Be Kind”, it would definitely be worth the money. He’s charming and dapper and has so many good songs beyond the famous ones. I was just as happy to hear songs from 2011’s The Old Magic like “House For Sale” and “Stoplight Roses” as I was to hear the classics. I don’t even own The Old Magic. Never heard those songs before in my life.
Here’s Nick Lowe’s setlist:
Main set: People Change / Stoplight Roses / Long Limbed Girl / Ragin’ Eyes / What’s Shakin’ on the Hill / “Crying Inside” / ‘Til the Real Thing Comes Along / “The Shoes I Used to Wear” / Has She Got a Friend? / I Trained Her to Love Me / I Live on a Battlefield / Failed Christian (Henry McCullough) / Cruel to Be Kind / Sensitive Man / Somebody Cares For Me / House For Sale / Lonely Just Like Me (Arthur Alexander) / (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding? / I Knew the Bride (When She Used to Rock ‘n’ Roll)
Encore: When I Write the Book (Rockpile) / Knock Knock Rattle (Rex Allen) / Alison (Elvis Costello)
Finally, here are a few of my usual concert-related scans and photos. In addition to the setlist notes and marquee shot, I’ve included a picture of my copy of Josh Rouse’s Bedroom Classics, Vol. 4. I picked it up at the merch table on my way out. I didn’t even know it had been released.
One last thing. I should probably mention that this show took place at the exact same time as the third presidential debate. I would’ve watched that train wreck if it hadn’t been for the concert. My life is better for choosing the music. It almost always is.
Probably the less said about last night’s Richard Buckner show down in Over-the-Rhine the better. I arrived late to find him playing to a decent-sized crowd of people, but I soon realized that only about a dozen of them were paying any attention to what he was doing onstage. The rest were drinking and chatting and ignoring him. They were loud and disrespectful. The situation made me grumpy and embarrassed for my town. It made Richard Buckner angry.
Richard had just finished “When You Tell Me How It Is” and was starting in on “Before” when I guess he reached his limit. He stopped the song a few lines in, stood up, and began packing his equipment. He looked furious. An oblivious man from the audience made the mistake of going up on stage to talk to him. Richard yelled at him to “get off the fucking stage.” I believe that may have been the last thing he said in MOTR Pub. He packed his minivan in a barely-contained rage and was gone five minutes later.
This was a rough concert to witness. I don’t blame Richard Buckner at all, though. I’m actually surprised he lasted as long as he did. The audience was obnoxious and showed a complete lack of respect. Still, I’m glad I went. If nothing else, it’ll explain why Richard skips over Cincinnati the next time he tours the Midwest.
Here’s to happier times and better audiences:
Although I’m always looking for an excuse to come out to Seattle, I usually plan my trips around a specific event like a concert or music festival. I planned this trip around Richard Buckner’s show at the Columbia City Theater. Not only is the theater one of my favorite local venues, but Richard Buckner is one of my favorite musicians (and has been for 19 years). So it seemed like a good excuse for a visit.
Beth and I were the first people through the theater doors, so we ended up snagging two seats right in the middle of the front row. That gave me an even better view than I’d had when Richard played a show in my house a couple years ago. We listened to Hayden over the sound system while we waited for the concert to begin; I drank a beer and Beth drew a drawing of the stage. I’d post it here, but it’s not mine to share.
The show eventually started at a little after 8:00. Richard was great as usual, but I’m not going to go into the specific details as I’ve already done that three times in the Vox/WP era. You should probably just go back and read those. Sorry, I’m lazy.
Although I make setlist notes in a pocket-sized Moleskine during shows, I always clean them up and write them in the back pages of my proper journal. I recently ran out of those pages for this year, so I had to write the corrected setlist in the rarely-used calendar at the front of the book. I like the way it looks, so I’ve taken a picture and am posting it here instead of typing it all out as I usually do. Here’s the setlist:
I did a bit of investigating and noticed that Richard Buckner played at least one song from each of his nine solo albums…going all the way back to 1994’s Bloomed.
I swear I don’t plan my trips to and from Seattle around Mark Pickerel’s appearances at the airport, but I ran into the man there again yesterday. He was performing as part of Sea-Tac’s City of Music program which features local musicians playing live music throughout the airport. This was the second time that our schedules have overlapped. This time I found him singing in the middle of the Central Terminal food court to an audience of travelers eating Qdoba burritos and something that might’ve been Chinese food. I pulled up a chair and watched the rest of his set.
Here he is:
And here are the songs he played while I was there:
Setlist: … / Sway (Dean Martin) / Waiting on a Friend (Rolling Stones) / Solitary Man (Neil Diamond) / Forest Fire / Your Avenue / You’ll Be Mine / Mother of Earth (Gun Club) / One More Cup of Coffee (Bob Dylan) / Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone (Willie Nelson & others)
Much like last time, he played an interesting mix of covers and originals. The highlights for me included a song I associate with Dean Martin called “Sway” and a cover of Neil Diamond’s “Solitary Man.” As far as the original songs go, I particularly enjoyed “Forest Fire” and “You’ll Be Mine.” I was happy to find both of these songs on the Snake in the Radio CD I bought as Mark was packing up after the show. It’s an album Beth tried to give me years ago. I refused the offer back then by saying,
I don’t want a CD by some guy you gotta crush on!
As you can see, I eventually came around.
After three days of searching, I finally found my Paul McCartney ticket just 21⁄2 hours before the doors opened. It turned out that one of my cousins had an extra and was willing to sell it to me for face value. Once I knew I had a ticket, I felt a great relief at no longer having to deal with the scalpers on StubHub or the psychopaths on Craigslist. I started geeking out. I went so far as to dig out my old red JOHN PAUL GEORGE RINGO t-shirt. Yes, I decided to dismiss concert etiquette and wear a Paul McCartney shirt to a Paul McCartney show.
My parents and I went downtown and met up with my cousin. I gave her a check in exchange for the ticket. It was the most expensive concert ticket I’ve ever purchased, even more expensive than the prime seat I accidentally bought for the Eagles’ Hell Freezes Over tour back in 1994. (I’m not kidding. It really was an accident.) Here’s the Paul McCartney ticket:
There was no time for small talk. I gave my cousin a hug and headed for one of the metal detector lines. “I’ll see you at Christmas,” I said over my shoulder. My parents and I split up on the other side of security, and I went off to find my seat. It was a surprisingly excellent seat…far away from the stage, but with good sight-lines and a metal bar between me and the section in front. The people on either side were nice, as well. Here’s a pre-show shot:
The next two hours and 45 minutes were probably the most joyous and magical two hours and 45 minutes I’ve ever spent in my life. Or at least the most joyous and magical two hours and 45 minutes I’ve ever spent at a concert. I had a big grin on for most of the show and even got a bit teary-eyed once.
Main set: A Hard Day’s Night / Save Us / Can’t Buy Me Love / Letting Go / Temporary Secretary / Let Me Roll It / Foxy Lady (instrumental Jimi Hendrix cover) / I’ve Got a Feeling / My Valentine / Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five / Here, There and Everywhere / Maybe I’m Amazed / We Can Work It Out / In Spite of All the Danger (early McCartney/Harrison composition recorded by the Quarry Men in 1958) / You Won’t See Me / Love Me Do / And I Love Her / Blackbird / Here Today / Queenie Eye / New / The Fool on the Hill / Lady Madonna / FourFive Seconds (recent song recorded with Kanye West and Rihanna)/ Eleanor Rigby / Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite! / Something / Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da / Band on the Run / Back in the U.S.S.R. / Let It Be / Live and Let Die / Hey Jude
Encore: Yesterday / Hi Hi Hi / Birthday / Golden Slumbers–>Carry That Weight–>The End
For those of you keeping track, that’s 23 Beatles songs (if you count the Abbey Road medley that closed the show as three), 7 solo Paul McCartney songs, 6 Wings-related songs, and 3 other songs that don’t quite fit into one of those categories. It was all great. The only song that came anywhere near being a dud was “Temporary Secretary.” It’s a slightly-annoying, completely weird song that Paul has, for some reason, plucked off McCartney II and started playing at shows. The funny thing is that I was totally singing along about halfway through. I’ve still got it in my head as I’m writing this.
What we really should be talking about here are the highlights. There were so many. The biggest highlight of a night full of them was a surprise performance of George Harrison’s “Something.” I call it a surprise because it’s a song that’s so clearly associated with George. Sure, it’s a Beatles song, but George wrote it and George sang it. I’m still kind of shocked that I got to hear it–played on a ukulele nonetheless. It was beautiful and I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried like a big, stupid baby.
Other highlights include “Here, There and Everywhere” and “Maybe I’m Amazed” played back-to-back, a mini Grand Old Opry-style set featuring acoustic versions of early Beatles classics, a boisterous “Live and Let Die” with explosions and fire shooting everywhere, “Ob-La-De, Ob-La-Da” and “Hey Jude” sing-alongs that I actually participated in, an unexpected ba-ba appearance in “Lady Madonna”, and the magnificent “Golden Slumbers–>Carry That Weight–>The End” medley that closed the show.
By the time we got to “The End,” I was happier than I’ve been in a while. I felt light and clean and had to fight the urge to high-five complete strangers. I would’ve been willing to spend a lot more money than I did to feel that way. The way I look at it, I got a bargain. I met up with my parents outside the venue, high-fived both of them, and then listened to my mom talk about how “awesome” Paul McCartney is, how great he looks for 74, and how she no longer regrets that my grandmother wouldn’t let her go see the Beatles when she was a little girl in 1964. All is forgiven.
And my dad looked around all sneaky-like and told me he’d secretly recorded a dozen songs on his iPhone. That pirate!
Sailor Babo went for a stroll a few months ago and found some bright red flowers. I took a picture of him in front of them. Then we got it into our heads that we should try to get pictures with flowers of every color. It took us over an hour, but we eventually got the entire rainbow…and then some.
It turns out that the hardest flowers to find are the green ones. We almost gave up on them.
Here’s a list of completely imaginary titles to go with the seven brand new Flight of the Conchords songs Flight of the Conchords played during their recent “Flight of the Conchords Sing Flight of the Conchords” concert at the Palace Theatre up in Columbus. I have made up alternate titles for each song and will probably continue to call the songs by these fake titles even after they’ve been given proper ones by the band (just as I still refer to Wilco’s “A Shot in the Arm” as “Ashtray Sez”).
In addition to these seven new songs, Bret and Jemaine played nine old songs (and parts of two more). I’m not going to bother writing them out. Frankly, I’m tired of that Belgian clown swiping the setlists and sticking them up elsewhere all out of order. This one’s staying in my little black setlist book.
Hey look, pictures!
The concert was hilarious. I got facial cramps from smiling so much.
I went downtown on Tuesday night and saw Alejandro Escovedo perform a concert at the Taft Theatre Ballroom. It was a great show, but a strange one for me. You see, the concert marked the first time I’ve seen the singer in a venue that wasn’t the Southgate House. I spent much of Wednesday night digging around in my black trunk in an attempt to determine how many times I actually saw him at my old haunt. It took me hours of sorting through ticket stubs, scribbled setlists, and journal entries, but I eventually confirmed that I saw Alejandro Escovedo at the Southgate House seven different times going back to 1999. I made a chart to help keep track of the dates and am including it in this post so I won’t have to redo my research the next time he comes to town.
Not only was this the first time I’ve seen Alejandro Escovedo in a place that wasn’t the Southgate House, but it was the first time I’ve ever seen a show at the Taft Theatre Ballroom (or “The Ballroom at the Taft Theatre”, as it says on the ticket).
I think the fact that I was seeing Alejandro Escovedo in a new venue made this show unlike any of the others I’ve seen. It was still a great performance, but it felt different. Have you ever seen a person somewhere far away from the place you usually associate with them? Like seeing your yoga instructor at the flea market? Or catching sight of the librarian picking out a cantaloupe at the grocery? It’s weird. There’s a disconnect. Most of this concert felt like that.
I did my best to get over the weirdness by doing what I always do at concerts: take notes in a Moleskine with a red pen. Here’s what I came away with:
The words in parentheses are just reminders of the stories Alejandro Escovedo told in between the songs. As you can see, he was quite talkative. I usually find this annoying, but the man is a talented storyteller and I never drifted or wished he’d shut up and get on with it. Did you know his band the Nuns opened up for the final Sex Pistols concert? Did you know he wears Nudie brand jeans? Did you know his niece was engaged to Prince? All of this is true.
Here’s that setlist cleaned up with the story bits taken out:
Main set: Five Hearts Breaking / Bottom of the World / Sally Was a Cop / Rosalie / San Antonio Rain / Chelsea Hotel ’78 / Down in the Bowery / Arizona / Velvet Guitar / Always a Friend (contained a few lines of the Miracles’ “The Tracks of My Tears”)
Encore: Sister Lost Soul / Castanets
This show was officially billed as the Alejandro Escovedo Trio and featured cello, keys, and guitar. Alejandro played an acoustic guitar on all the songs except for one, “Chelsea Hotel ’78”. This song was definitely the low point of the evening, but it had little to do with the electric guitar. It had more to do with the fact that he sang it with a strange microphone that muffled the words and made them sound like they were coming from a bullhorn. That mic had been put to good use on parts of “Sally Was a Cop”, but I didn’t care to hear it for an entire song.
Fortunately, there were plenty of highlights. The lovely version of “Five Hearts Breaking” that opened the show comes to mind. I was also fond of “Rosalie”, “Velvet Guitar”, and the last song of the main set, “Always a Friend”. That one featured a portion of “The Tracks of My Tears” near the end. It was quite touching. Strangely enough, it was as close as we came to a cover song during this entire show. I guess that’s another way this concert was different from the ones I saw at the Southgate House; there were usually two or three covers at each of those. Over the years I heard Alejandro Escovedo cover the Velvet Underground, David Bowie, the Gun Club, Mott the Hoople, and the Rolling Stones. Those covers were always among the highlights of the night.
Perhaps the best song of this night was the very last song. “Castanets” is such a fun one to hear live. By that point, I wasn’t all hung up on the Kiwanis Club-vibe of the venue or thinking about how special those Southgate House shows were. I was just having fun seeing one of my favorite singers perform and already wondering when I’d get to see him again. I don’t care where the show is, I want to see Alejandro Escovedo a ninth time!
Beth was driving me to the airport on Thursday morning at the tail end of my recent Seattle visit. As often happens, the conversation turned to musical topics. We expressed our mutual disappointment in not having seen Mark Pickerel working at the Easy Street Records in West Seattle the day before. If you’re not familiar with Mark, he’s something of a local music legend with a career that goes all the way back to the mid-80s. He drummed in Screaming Trees, recorded with members of Nirvana, and was in the bands Truly and the Dark Fantastic. More recently, he’s released three great albums under the name Mark Pickerel and His Praying Hands.
Perhaps more important than Mark Pickerel’s many musical accomplishments is the fact that he’s officially Beth’s “rock star crush”. It’s always a treat for her when we happen to be shopping on a day when he’s picking up a shift at the record store. And it’s always a little disappointing when we go out to Easy Street only to find the regular, run-of-the-mill record store clerks working. (I also enjoy Mark Pickerel sightings as he’s got a terrific sense of style and amazing hair. Whenever I see him, I come away thinking that I should dress better and stop giving myself haircuts.)
So we were in the car talking about Mark Pickerel and wondering where he is these days. Then, little over an hour later, we said our goodbyes and I went through airport security. The other side of security is usually the saddest of places, but I’d only walked a hundred yards or so when I came upon this guy performing outside of the Sub Pop shop (as part of Sea-Tac’s City of Music program). It’s Mark Pickerel!
I talked to Mark for a couple minutes, told him about Beth’s crush and our recent trip to Easy Street, and bought a copy of his latest album. Then I stood around for 35 minutes and listened to him play for passersby and their rolling suitcases. I ended up hearing eleven complete songs. Most of them were covers, but there were at least three originals in there, including a new one that mentioned “throwing rattlesnakes at rocks”. I’d forgotten how much I like Mark Pickerel’s voice.
Here’s the setlist:
Setlist: … / Back Room of the Bar (Young Fresh Fellows) / Crescent City (Lucinda Williams) / Be Here to Love Me (Townes Van Zandt) / One More Cup of Coffee (Bob Dylan) / You’ll Be Mine / Rattlesnakes at Rocks / Don’t Look Back / Waiting on a Friend (Rolling Stones) / Back to Black (Amy Winehouse) / Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone (Willie Nelson & others) / Diggy Liggy Lo (Rusty and Doug Kershaw) / …
I kept looking at my watch to make sure I didn’t miss my flight. I eventually decided I was cutting it too close, so I thanked Mark for his songs and headed to my departure gate. The rest of the day consisted of two attempts at a landing, rushing through the longest airport ever only to find myself faced with a two-hour delay, and Delta baggage handlers crushing the shit out of my Jimmy Stewart suitcase (RIP). Needless to say, stumbling upon Mark Pickerel singing at the airport proved to be the highlight of my day.
Oh, and the last thing Mark said to me as I was walking away was, “Say hi to your girlfriend for me.”