Nick Lowe & Josh Rouse @ the 20th Century Theatre (10/19/16)

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.

lowe-rouseI’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.

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And a monkey kinda digs bananas…

One of the best things about obsessively documenting everything in a pen and paper journal is that I can go back and reread old entries to refresh my memory or to find dates of historical significance.  (That’s also the worst part, but let’s keep on the sunny side here.)  Today, for instance, is the 24th anniversary of the first time I visited my favorite record store, Everybody’s Records.  Here’s the relevant excerpt from my journal entry dated October 18th, 1992:

Today I went to a store called Everybody’s Records.  I had heard about it on the radio.  It was a really cool place.  I found (…) the James Taylor and the Original Flying Machine album from 1967.  I never thought I’d be able to find it.  I did, though, and it only cost me $1.99.  It has a lot of early versions of songs off the James Taylor album.  It also has Kootch singing 2 songs including “Kootch’s Song.”  They are all great.  I also got Bob Seger’s Night Moves.

That James Taylor record is still in my collection.  It’s not as great as I thought it was when I was 18, but I still listen to it every couple years.  Here it is:


…and the original flying machine

I no longer own the Bob Seger album I also purchased that day.  We parted ways during the great garage sale purge of the late 90s.

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I voted early and then wrote a letter to a paranoid neighbor.

I went downtown to vote early this morning and got involved in a bit of confusion on the way home.  I decided to write a letter to one of my neighbors in an attempt to clear it up.
letterNow that voting and clearing my good name are out of the way, I think I’ll just cruise toward Election Day and try to avoid all the political news stories.  No third debate for me.  I’m done with it.

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Q: What’s in the hat box?

A: All the music I acquired in September along with all the books I read.


(open me!)

Really.  Click on the hat box to open it and see everything I’ve crammed in there.

This post would normally be called “The Month in Music & Books (9/16)”, but I decided to do it this way instead.

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VPotD: The Pride of Puget Sound.

The owner of Fairlook Antiques has a name for photographs with writing on the front.  I can’t remember what it is, though.  I think it’s a term coined by the guy who wrote the book that got turned into a stupid-looking movie starring Samuel L. Jackson.  It’s about freaky kids and fake teeth or something.  I know about this movie because I watched late night television for the first time in about five years last night.  Did you know the guy who used to play Barry Gibb on Saturday Night Live is now the host of The Tonight Show?  That’s true.

I usually call photographs with writing on the front “ruined” and tend to steer clear of them.  I liked these three, though.

the-pride-of-puget-soundvi-dot-honey a-lost-thoughtThis sentence is down here because I like to end my posts with text instead of a photo.

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VPotD: 9 out of 10 old-timey people recommend watermelon.

It tastes great on a rocky beach.

watermelon-picnicSpeaking of rocky beaches, I picked up this shot because I initially thought the woman was holding a tiny human skull.  It didn’t take long for me to realize it was just three rocks.  It’s probably better that way…and it’s still a nice photograph.  It says “Hood Canal” on the back.  I can’t remember where that is exactly, but I think it’s in the Pacific Northwest somewhere.

hood-canal(“VPotD” stands for Vintage Photo of the Day.  I’ve been posting a bunch of them recently.  Feel free to check out the others here.)

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VPotD: Hello Big Boy!

My previous Vintage Photo of the Day post featured an otherwise fine shot that was ruined by a man and his big, dumb body getting in the way.  Well, here’s a second photo from that accidental series…which I guess I’m going to have to call M&HBDBGitW.  It’s an unwieldy term, but I hope to avoid getting more of these by taking a closer look at all future purchases before I take them to the counter.

hello-big-boyI called this post “Hello Big Boy!” because that’s what the woman wrote all sultry-like on the back of the photo.  Her name is Lottie and the picture was taken in 1924.  I wonder if she even noticed the M&HBDBGitW.

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VPotD: Hey, let’s give Mary Fife a post!

The snapshot below shows Mary Fife in a fishing boat.  Some of you may remember Mary from her appearances in the Marion & Herb Timm Collection (1937-71).  She and Marion were friends in some of the earliest photographs.  I was happy to find this one as it also fits into my ongoing (women/girls)+(on/near)+(boats/ships) series.  Yes, I’m still collecting those.  I’m juggling a bunch of collections these days.  So here’s Mary out on the water with her shades and fishing rod.  I had this photo for two weeks before I noticed the guy ruining the shot.  I wonder if it was Herb.

mary-fife-fishing-in-a-boatOr maybe it was the new guy, Bill Crampton.  Bill shows up for the first time in this playful series of photographs taken at Post Falls, Idaho on 5/22/38.  It looks like he might’ve been Mary’s date.  He’s got his hand on her hip and is grinning like silent movie star Harold Lloyd in that first picture.  Then a cigar-chomping Herb joins the couple for the second shot.  The guys mug it up and Mary gets caught cracking her knuckles and grinning at the ground.  Unless there was a fifth person at the falls with them, that second shot was taken by Marion.  How do I know?  Well, she changes places with Bill for the final picture…the group hug!

They all seem to be enjoying themselves.  Especially Herb.

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The Month in Music & Books (8/16)

This post features the best music I picked up in Seattle during the last week of July along with the reading and listening highlights from August.  I was in full-on acquisition mode for much of the month and reading like crazy, so I really had to narrow things down to avoid doing a three-part post.  A lot of great titles were left on the cutting room floor, but here’s the best of the best:

best music and books (8:16)

(let’s call it 15%)

Beth and I were sitting around one evening listening to one of my all-time favorite recordings, Ella Fitzgerald‘s studio version of Rodgers & Hart’s “Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered.”  I mentioned that although I had Ella Fitzgerald’s Cole Porter songbook and much of the one dedicated to the Gershwins, what I really wanted was The Complete Ella Fitzgerald Song Books box set that I’d seen in person a couple times back in the 90s before it went out-of-print and started selling for ridiculous prices.  The box set includes meticulously reproduced versions of all eight of Ella’s original songbooks…Cole Porter, Rodgers & Hart, Duke Ellington, Irving Berlin, the Gershwins, Harold Arlen, Jerome Kern, and Johnny Mercer.  That’s more than 250 songs spread out over 16 CDs.

And then I found it two days later at Everyday Music!  The box was complete and everything was in excellent shape, so I decided to buy it even though it was quite expensive.  I don’t regret it at all.  It’s just about the best thing in my collection and I have no doubt that it’ll provide me with years of enjoyment.  In case of fire, grab Ella (and Lucy).

We also stopped by the Jigsaw Records shop while I was in Seattle.  Although their impressive selection of indie pop, twee, and power pop recordings from other labels sometimes outshines the work the Jigsaw label does itself, I emphasized their releases when I visited the shop.  Sitting on the red box are three terrific Jigsaw CDs I picked up that day: Skywriter Blue by the Skywriters, A New Dimension to Modern Love by Popincourt, and Have You Ever Heard of Cozy Catastrophes?  To answer the question posed by Cozy Catastrophes, “No, I have never heard of you.”  I bought you anyway because the Jigsaw guy played you in the shop and your song “Coworkers in Love” felt like something I’d need to hear again.  Thanks for that.

From there we move over to the first book of the post, The Abandoned by Paul Gallico.  It’s my favorite of the eight (yes, eight!) New York Review Children’s Collection titles I read in August.  It’s about a feline-loving boy named Peter who finds himself transformed into a cat after getting struck in a traffic accident.  He soon becomes friends with a stray cat named Jennie who takes it upon herself to teach Peter how to be a cat.  There are a lot of rules, and I thought the book was at its best in the scenes where Jennie is trying to explain them.  It’s a great book, but also remarkably sad at the same time.  Peter and Jennie are strays, after all, and people and other animals aren’t always kind to them.  The are some particularly vicious cat fights that might be reason enough for some gentler readers to avoid The Abandoned.  Still, I enjoyed it.

Next comes my homemade Clishmaclaver cassette tape.  It includes both of the duo’s late-80s, early-90s releases, Hearing Double and Roots Entwined.  It’s traditional American and Celtic tunes sung by two of the loveliest folk voices I’ve heard.  I really wish someone would set up a Clishmaclaver Bandcamp or something; I’d love to have legit copies of these songs.  My car’s tape deck has a reputation for chewing up and spitting out tapes, so I’m not sure how many times I can risk playing this one.

The tall book is the first volume in Drawn & Quarterly’s Moomin: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip series.  Despite having a Moomin keychain, I really had no idea what a Moomin was before I checked out this book from the library.  Having read the thing, I still don’t know what a Moomin is exactly–maybe a Finnish hippo?–but I certainly enjoyed the comic and look forward to reading the other four volumes.  Tove Jansson eventually turned over the strip to her brother Lars.  I might read some of his version, as well.  It depends on how hooked I get.

The white square box with the drawing of the girl playing guitar on it is the C87 box set put out by Cherry Red Records.  It’s a sequel to the C86 box set from 2014 (which was, of course, an expanded version of the C86 cassette compilation from 1986, which was the sequel to C81, and on and on).  Beth gave it to me for my birthday.  It’s mostly great British indie from 1987.  I say “mostly” because the first four or five songs on the third disc are awful.  I made the mistake of using that particular CD as my wake-up music one morning.  One minute I was asleep and dreaming and then the next minute a truly terrible song was blaring in my room.  My first thought was to jump out the window.  My second thought was to reach for the remote.  Fortunately, I went with the second.

The biggest reading surprise of the month was Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne.  It’s the script to a two-part play that officially opened in London at the end of July.  I didn’t think I would care for it as I was never a big Harry Potter fan to begin with (although I’ve read the series and seen the movies).  And I hate plays.  Well, I found myself curious by all the attention and hub-bub the book was getting, so I decided to buy a copy.  Although it took me about 30 pages to get used to the script format, I quickly got hooked by the story and ended up loving the book.  I loved it so much, in fact, that I only waited about a half hour before starting it over and reading it a second time.  It became only the third book in my life to merit an “immediate re-read.”

Let’s finish up with another surprise.  Despite the fact that I barely care at all about the Smiths, it turns out that I like Morrissey.  Not as a human being, of course, but as a singer.  In particular, I like six of his songs that I first heard on an EP called Colin Meloy Sings Morrissey.  After hearing Colin Meloy’s versions, I wanted to hear Morrissey’s originals.  Unfortunately, the were scattered all over the place on b-sides.  After a couple months of looking, I finally found them all on a possibly dubious collection called The Parlophone Singles ’88-’95.  The best part is that I even like most of the songs that weren’t on the Meloy EP.

  • Here’s a lyric video of the Ella Fitzgerald song I mentioned in this post.  Listening to it really is one of the best ways to spend seven minutes.
  • Here’s the first song off C87, “Pristine Christine” by the Sea Urchins.  It’ll give you an idea of the kind of music the box contains.
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Billy Joel @ Riverfront Coliseum (7/21/90)

After many years of searching, I’ve finally found the ticket stub from my very first concert.  It’s not the actual stub I had with me when I saw Billy Joel at Riverfront Coliseum back on July 21st, 1990, but it is an official ticket stub from that same concert.  It came up on eBay a couple weeks ago and I grabbed it for $5.  It had always bothered me that I’d somehow managed to lose my original ticket stub (or hadn’t bothered to keep it in the first place).  I have the ticket stub from my second concert, my third concert, and my twenty-third concert, but I was missing that first one.  It’s almost enough to drive a completist like me a little nuts.  Well, I found it and here it is:

bj stub (front)bj stub (back)I remember very little about the concert itself.  I didn’t start my long-running personal journal until my 16th birthday (the following week), so I don’t even have the day’s entry to refer to.  All I remember is that I went to Riverfront Coliseum with my parents, grandmother, and a couple of aunts and uncles.  Probably Judy.  Maybe Rusty (RIP).  The venue was packed.  I remember Billy Joel sang “Piano Man” somewhere near the end.  He let the audience take over on the “sing us a song you’re the piano man” bit and I sang along.  I loved it.  That’s the only song I remember for sure.  The rest are lost to me as I didn’t bother to keep a setlist.  That habit started with my second concert.

Did you make it all the way down here?  If so, feel free to leave a comment telling me what your first concert was.  That’s the kind of thing that interests me and I’m fine with begging for the information.

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