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Friday, February 29, 2008

Rock and a Hard Place

Posted By on Fri, Feb 29, 2008 at 5:00 PM

I can't decide if this is ridiculously awesome or just plain ridiculous, but Hard Rock Cafe — which is basically to music what Hooter's is to, um, food — is unveiling an amusement park this spring, featuring a slew of rock 'n' roll themed rides and other assorted attractions aimed at separating fanny pack-clad morons from their money. I'm guessing they're going after the growing demographic of folks who get their jollies watching fast cars turn left. But I could be wrong.

Based in Myrtle Beach, Hard Rock Park — clever, no? — will open in June with a geezer rock extravaganza of epically lame proportions. Headlining the two-night concert: The Moody Blues and The Eagles. Gag me with a pitchfork, run me over with a rolling stone and spin my head 'till my vertebrae snap. I believe I have a new definition of hell.

However, as with any theme park, the real story is the rides. I have to admit, I am a sucker for roller coasters and "Led Zepplin: The Ride" sounds freakin' great. But I wonder if the ride simulates driving a Rolls Royce into a swimming pool?  And if you throw up, are you supposed to choke on it to get the full experience? So many questions.

Oh, and speaking of The Moody Blues, "Nights in White Satin: The Trip" basically looks like "It's A Small World" for middle-aged folks with flashback issues. Actually, that one sounds kinda fun.

There's also something called "The Magic Mushroom Garden," which, I kid you not, is aimed at toddlers. Nice.

Since it's Friday afternoon and I have nothing else to do at the moment, I thought I'd offer some suggestions for rides and attractions I'd like to see, should I ever find myself in that part of the world, which I can almost guarantee I won't. Feel free to add suggestions of your own!

The Amy Wine-house
This is basically just a bar, and given the likely clientele, probably wouldn't even serve wine. Unless they ran out of High Life and prescription medicine, of course.

The Great White Light Show
Too soon?

Jeff Buckley's Ragin' River
See above.

Britney Spears Day Care Center

For cracked out moms on the go.

George Micheal's House of Wax

Just don't use the restroom.

Aerosmith's Love in an Elevator
Think Disney's "Tower of Terror," only, you know, really crappy.

Aha's "Take On Me" Fun House
Actually, this one would be pretty sweet.

R. Kelly's Wild Ride

You must not be at least this tall to get on this ride.

The Hall of The Presidents of the United States of America
One hit wonder showcase. By the way, what the hell ever happened to those guys?

Man, I need a hobby.

Have a great weekend, Solid State!

Zaney!

Posted By on Fri, Feb 29, 2008 at 8:50 AM

I'm not sure if any of our regular readers have kids, but if you do, or if you perhaps just have a special bay-bay in your life that you'd like to take out for an afternoon on the town, I highly recommend this Saturday's Dan Zanes show at Higher Ground. The two afternoon matinees are actually sold out, but I did spot some tickets online, so it might be worth looking into.

Up until one year ago I worked as a nanny here in Burlington. It was a pretty kick-ass job for a pretty kick-ass family with one hell of a kick-ass baby. Isaac and I did everything together, including afternoon dance parties. Often. Preferably to The Cars. Or Johnny Cash. Isaac loved both.

His older sister, however, on more than one occasion, returned home from her mornings at preschool with her nose already turned up to my ipod.

"Can we listen to something else?" she would ask, and I would cringe, knowing that 'something else' likely referred to chirpy twerpy kids songs, not too friendly on the adult ear.

That was up until we discovered Dan Zanes. Or more specifically, his 2003 release of maritime songs, "Sea Music".

Unless you too have spent afternoons grudgingly dancing to children's voices cracking over choruses of "London Bridge is Falling Down," I can't quite express the gift that is Dan Zanes. The former member of the Del Fuegos started exploring kid's music when he and his wife had their first child. What he came up with is a refreshing simplistic style that kids and adults both love. It's fun, hard not to dance to, and never grating on the ears.

I really wanted to go to Zanes' show this weekend. In fact, I really really wanted to interview Zanes, who aside from being a pioneer in the world of bearable children's music, also started his own record label for the exact purpose of marketing it. But I will be heading down to my parents' house in Connecticut, and my little music loving friends are at their new cousin's bris in Jersey.

So will you please go and tell me how it is? Zanes will play at noon and then again at 3 PM. You might have to buy scalped tickets... but it might just be worth it.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

You Know It's a Slow Day When . . .

Posted By on Thu, Feb 28, 2008 at 1:20 PM

From now on, all of my reviews will be in pie chart form. Or perhaps bar graphs.

Birdies, baby!

Posted By on Thu, Feb 28, 2008 at 11:51 AM

I have a special place in my heart for both musicians and nonprofits, so when I hear about other businesses working to unite the two, I get a little giddy.

Which is exactly what happened when I stumbled upon Yellow Bird Project. Are any of you familiar with this Montreal-based organization?

Basically, the kids at Yellow Bird get indie bands to submit t-shirt designs for charity. The coolest part is that each design directly benefits a nonprofit of that specific band's choice.

Some of the bands are pretty obscure (they were all approached directly by the organization), but two of my favorites, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Rilo Kiley are included on the list.

My favorite of the designs has to be that of Montreal-based band Stars (includes members of Broken Social Scene), which can be seen here.

So if you happen to be looking for some hip new duds, buy them at Yellow Bird and feel good about your purchase.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Busy B.

Posted By on Wed, Feb 27, 2008 at 10:53 AM

Sorry for the utter lack of post-age but I'm feeling a little insanely busy. Like, oh my gosh Monday night was crazy. From work, I went straight to the Y to run the dance recital of my baby girls. Then it was off to my new writer's group for a little pasta and self-deprication. Next I sped over to my new favorite elliptical at my new favorite gym. After that, I dropped by the house I am sitting to check in on things. Then I sped over to Kinko's to run updated flyers for an upcoming Wyld Stallions Records event, all before I finally made it home to bake cookies for my designer as a thank you, both for fixing the WSR flyer, and for liking cookies more than cash.

By the time I stumbled into the Monkey with the updated flyers, clad in dance pants, Target-brand Uggs, a hoodie and an old jean jacket I thought, "This is it. This is the night my mother is going to make good on her long-time fantasy of signing me up for TLC's 'What Not to Wear'."

But luckily Stacy and Clinton were not waiting at the bar complete with cosmopolitans, and I was able to make it back to my house-sitting abode in time to FINALLY load Mardi Gras pictures from my camera to my computer... the delayed point of this entire post.

Did you all Mardi hardy?

As Dan just told you, he and I (and the lovely Joanna) sure did. I'd say our float was the most glitter to ever hit the marketplace, but let's face it. This is Burlington. There's always some fabulously-clad LeMay girl waiting just around the corner...

I won't bore you by reiterating the awesomeness that Dan just relayed, but I will show you pictures! The Cave Bees totally held their shit on the moving float. The moving float made all the more hazardous by screaming Seven Days-ers. And since Dan, Joanna and I somehow ended up positioned IN the band, I was able to get some pretty up close and personal shots:

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And now you know what it feels like to be on a float with a band.

Of course, being on a Seven Days float with a band also includes a little bit of this:

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And we can all always use more of that.

Anyway, I checked out the Cave Bees' MySpace and it looks like their next show is not for another month, but I figured I would give it a quick plug anyway. March 28 at Metronome, mark your calendars now.

If they rock half as hard as they did at the circus, it's sure to be a good time.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Party Gras, Bro

Posted By on Tue, Feb 26, 2008 at 3:15 PM

Sweet Jesus. What a ridiculous orgy of drinking the Mardi Gras Parade is. I guess that's not really a shocker, given that the annual bead fest is Magic Hat's biggest event of the year. But to be perfectly honest, we're three days removed and I still feel hungover. Thanks Lucky Kat!

Prior to my employment with Seven Days, I worked for Alan Newman's beer barony in various capacities for close to four and a half years. I started out pouring growlers in the Artifactory, eventually became the store's Assistant Manager (OK, assistant to the manager) and then switched gears, moving behind the scenes to learn the brewing arts. When I left, I was a centrifuge operator, which isn't nearly as interesting as it sounds. In retrospect, I'm pretty sure the only reason I stayed so long was to play on the company softball team. That, and finding a new job takes effort and I'm a lazy, lazy man. But I digress.

During my tenure, I worked through four Mardi Gras parades, but only actually saw "the action" on one occasion. The other three years I was stuck slaving away at the brewery while everyone else got to play. Two years ago was the one and only time I was allowed to ride on the company float. Frankly, it was kinda lame. Oh sure, there was beer. And beads. And throwing beads, before and after drinking beer. But something about tossing cheap plastic baubles to inebriated tourists left me cold. Or maybe it was the actual cold. Who knows? Anyway, my expectations for this year were justifiably tempered by my previous experience.

Boy, was I wrong. The Seven Days parade experience is vastly superior to Magic Hat and it ain't even close.

For starters, everybody dresses up. If you didn't see it, our float had a circus theme and we went all out. There were lions, tigers and gorillas ("oh my!"). We had a ringmaster, a strong man, a mime, a stunt man and clowns. We even had a bearded lady, who may or may not be writing this very blog post . . . ahem. In fact, our float was so good that we technically received the most votes for the "best float" competition as voted by the revelers. But since we're a sponsor we can't actually win . . . we got robbed!

Secondly, the beer is the same. The cool part is that if you're not affiliated with MH, you can choose to drink their beer or — gasp! — something else. Plus, we had jell-o shots. My pinky is still purple from scooping.

But the piece de resistance, the coup de grace, the bees mutha-effin' knees was none other than Burlington garage-rawkers Cave Bees who rocked and rolled from the Hood Plant parking lot, down Main Street, up Church Street, down Cherry Street and all the way back to Seven Days' offices. There were plenty of other bands playing on floats, but Cave Bees blew 'em all out of the water.

I still found the actual bead tossing somewhat off-putting. Grown men boxing out small children for 3 cents worth of plastic crap is nothing short of pathetic. However, thanks to my time playing second base for MH, my aim is impeccable. Vengeance was mine as beads, frisbees and moon pies flew straight and true, frequently finding their targets — i.e. the foreheads of overaggressive louts jockeying with kids for position. That part, I have to admit, was waaay too much fun.

In closing, I have to say I had a blast — though I could have done without the drunken tool-fest downtown during the parade's aftermath. Plus, I'm told this year set record highs in donations to the Women's Rape Crisis Center, which is really the point, right? Well, that, and binge drinking. But mostly it's the charity.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

News Leak!

Posted By on Thu, Feb 21, 2008 at 10:42 AM

My sources tell me (and by 'my sources', I do mean fellow regulars at the Monkey), that there is talk of a new community television show.... all about local music.

The project will be spearheaded by one of the scene's own songwriters, and will feature on-air performances by our local favorites.

I smell possible collaboration with The Radiator!

Further details are not yet ironed out, but I'll keep you posted as things come into fruition!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Burned Out

Posted By on Wed, Feb 20, 2008 at 2:47 PM

No, no. Not me. I'm not burned out. I just got back from a mini blogging vacay, remember?  I'm speaking of one of my favorite music "journalists"/cultural analrapists, David Thorpe, who today published his final Burn Unit column for Boston's The Weekly Dig. And yes, I realize I've used the term "cultural analrapist" at least once before on Solid State. Sue me. I just love "Arrested Development," OK? Speaking of which, did you hear they're definitely maybe turning it into a movie? That can only be awesome. Or a huge mistake.

This is a sad day indeed. I have a vague, half-recollection of a Beantown friend mentioning the end of The Burn Unit to me over the weekend. But frankly, most weekends spent with this particular friend result in vague, half-recollections. Must be all those forget-me-now pills. That, or I just blocked it from my memory. Either way, it sucks and I'm pretty bummed. True to form, Thorpe gives no true indication of his plans, post BU. He does run down his all-time least favorite columns though. But why are you reading it from me? Click on the link in the first paragraph and read it yourself, dammit.

And while you're there, you can check out this blurb about Burlington ex-pats Pretty & Nice, who just signed a deal with Sub Pop spin-off Hardly Art. Their song "Georgia Belle" has been in frequent rotation on my Tuesday night bowling league mix. It's amazing how well it works sandwiched between the likes of Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar on Me" and Brazilian Girls' "Pussy." Don't ask me why. It just does.

In any event, I'd like to express my appreciation and "pour some out for my homie," David Thorpe. The Burn Unit was one of my two favorite columns — the other being Bill Simmons' The Sports Guy on ESPN.com. I'm gonna miss you, man.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I Am Everyday People

Posted By on Tue, Feb 19, 2008 at 2:00 PM

Over the last few weeks, I've sort of been immersing myself in hip-hop, including the local variety, which continues to impress me both in terms of overall quality and variety. I've made no secret of the fact that, generally speaking, the genre is not particularly my forte, especially compared to my knowledge and understanding of rock, indie rock, country, alt-country, bluegrass and folk music. You know, cracker music . . . totally kidding. But I'm a quick learner and with the help of folks like GTD's Burnt MD and VT Union's Nastee and DJ A-Dog, among others, my education has been progressing nicely. And it's been a lot of fun to boot.

Speaking of Burnt MD, I should mention that his hip-hop open mic night, "The Spot," has just been made a weekly event. Every Tuesday night at Metronome you can sample some of the area's established and up-and-coming talent and, if you're so inclined, join in yourself. I've been a couple of times and really enjoyed it. The freestyle ciphers are a sight to behold.

Back to the point, one of my longstanding issues with hip-hop — and granted, this stems from a lack of full comprehension on my part, historically, anyway — is the seemingly widespread braggadocio that infects the lyricism of so many bigger-name artists. It's almost as though being good isn't enough. You have to tell people how good you are repeatedly and at every opportunity, lest your audience isn't perceptive enough to figure it out for themselves. Not only that, but if you can point out how lousy everyone else is in comparison, you get bonus bling. Frankly, it's rather tiresome.

I should make it clear that I'm by no means condemning hip-hop in general. There's a significant population of artists, particularly in underground circles, who avoid the tactic altogether and focus on making points unrelated to how big their, um, diction is. My personal taste just tends to align more with those artists.

With that in mind, I wanted to pass along a couple of videos I stumbled across this weekend. They're by a comedian named Jon Lajoie, who has been making some waves on Funny Or Die and was recently featured on Howard Stern. Submitted for your approval — and with an obligatory Parental Advisory warning — "Everyday Normal Guy."

And the sequel, "Everyday Normal Guy 2."

Monday, February 18, 2008

Back In The Saddle

Posted By on Mon, Feb 18, 2008 at 5:42 PM

Soooo . . . how have you been, Solid State?

I know what you're wondering. Where the hell have you been, Dan? That's a complicated question, frankly. But I'll give you the Reader's Digest version.

I needed a break.

There, I said it. Sometimes, you just need to step back and recharge the old batteries and I sort of unintentionally took last week off to do just that. And I'm glad I did. I really feel much better, thank you.

It's not that I didn't want to write. I sat down a number of times last week with every intention of knocking out a blog post or two (or three). But for the first time I can remember, I stared at my computer screen and it simply stared back. Nuthin'. Every scribe faces bouts of writer's block from time to time, but this was something deeper. I honestly had nothing to say. It was scary, to tell the truth.

Everything I tried to write came out sounding forced and trite, so rather than waste my time or yours, I simply didn't post. Fortunately, Bridget has been able to keep things rolling right along in my absence. She's good like that. Scratch that, she's just good, period.

Friday night I went to Nectar's to catch The Jazz Guys, Sweet Ass Pussy and Heloise and Th . . . er, James Kochalka Superstar. I hadn't seen any of those bands in quite a while and was really looking forward to unwinding with some cold beer and good tunes. As it turns out, that was just what I needed.

Nectar's was packed. I haven't seen that many people out for a completely local lineup in years. I arrived in time to catch the tail end of Sweet Ass Pussy's set, which was thoroughly rockin'. Then Kochalka took the stage and did what Kochalka does, which if you're not familiar with him, can be mildly unsettling.

I was with a few friends who had never seen JKS and new little of James beyond reading American Elf in "the" Seven Days — By the way, it ain't "the" Seven Days. Just Seven Days. Just like it ain't RiRa's. Just RiRa. I hate that shit. And while we're on the subject, why the hell does What Ale's You have an apostrophe? Then again, why does What Ale's You even exist? But I digress.

Anyway, I tried to give my friends the rundown as best I could: Longtime Burlington musician/cartoonist/writer/artist, wrote the the song for the short-lived Fox sitcom "The Loop," yadda, yadda, yadda. Then, just as I was getting to the part about Nickelodeon using his music, off came the pants. Awesome. "Will that be on Nick at Nite?," they asked.

The older folks in front of me — whom I believe were Jazz Guys Maarten and Herb van der Poll's parents — seemed to take it in stride. Being on the shorter side, my view is often obstructed at live shows, and for once, I think I came out ahead as I was never afforded a clear view. But one particularly inebriated dude I spoke with described the proceedings thusly: "He really has splendid nuts." Well played, sir.

The Jazz Guys followed and were in fine form. I still remember their first shows some years ago at Radio Bean. back then, they were one of my favorite local bands because they really weren't very good. Defiantly so, in fact. Now, I think they're one of my favorites because they're really good. But they still have the same flippant attitude I found so endearing when they kind of sucked. It's the best of both worlds really.

They started their show with a special Valentine's Day movie which led to a guest appearance onstage from Jason Cooley. I couldn't find the entire film online, but I did stumble across the trailer. Here it is:

I left between their first and second sets, fully satisfied and a little tipsy. The evening was a great reminder of how much people in this town care about their local music and left me feeling re-energized and grateful. There was a ton of great incredible music to see this past weekend — if anyone caught Apes at the Monkey, I want a full report — and we should consider ourselves lucky to have so many people with such vested interests in the vitality of our little scene. Sometimes you just need a breather . . .

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