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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

You Can't Put Your Arms Around A Memory

Posted By on Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 11:32 AM

Let's give a big round of applause to the New York Dolls. They really know how to put on a show. Instead of just sitting around, thinking about the good old days and waiting for the Social Security checks to start trickling in, they're tearing it up on the road and having a great time doing it. Exhibit A: Higher Ground Wednesday night. (Note:The bit about the checks only applies to original members David Johansen and Sylvain Sylvain, since Social Security will be long gone before the other three guys are old enough to get it.) Decades after those almost-famous good old days, the Dolls celebrate their legacy without wallowing in it. The reunion is over, these guys are WORKING.

They played a healthy dose of songs from the brand-new Cause I Sez So. The album itself is merely OK — I blame Todd Rungren's muddy production. But the bluesy vibe of those songs translates well to the stage. Numbers like "Nobody Got No Bizness," "Ridiculous" and the title track sounded great, much better than the recorded versions. And they played stuff from all the other phases of their career (except the 32 years between the second and third records).  Two from Too Much Too Soon; three off the third album, whose title is so long I don't feel like typing it out. And of course they played a bunch of songs off their greatest work: the 1973 self-titled debut. Also produced by Todd Rungren. Go figure.

But it was not just the music that made this show so much fun. New York Dolls are (still) entertainers.   Sylvain is more than a guitarist, he's a second frontman. He was constantly egging on the band and connecting with the audience, talking to fans in the front and holding his guitar out over the stage to let people strum it. He also had a nice little moment where he sang a Johnny Thunders song. And Johansen sang his ass off, blew a mean harp and strutted his stuff all over the place.

It was obvious that they were glad to be there and having a blast — the band had a little game going where they would throw guitar picks atthe cymbal they thought the drummer would end the song on. Johansen hada pocket full of picks for this express purpose. And they rocked their hardest even for a small crowd. New York Dolls' enthusiasm was contagious, leaving everyone smiling ear to ear, clapping, stomping and singing along.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Delights in Dixie

Posted By on Mon, Jun 29, 2009 at 5:35 PM

This just in from our wanderin' Americana darlings The Dixie Red Delights, who are currently on a quickie East Coast Tour: the band's drunkest fan.

Now this chick is pretty tanked. But methinks someone could easily top that when the band plays their homecoming gig at Charlie O's — a.k.a. the world's greatest bar — this weekend.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Dem's Da Breaks

Posted By on Thu, Jun 25, 2009 at 3:53 PM

It should have been great.

Following what was otherwise a rather pedestrian day at the plate (2-5, 2 singles, a groundout, a popup and reaching base on an error), I laced a searing line drive into the gap in left-center. Rounding first, I saw that ball had scooted past the roving outfielder — we play with four, as opposed to the traditional three — and was making its way to the fence. Giddyup.

In beer league softball, my game is predicated on speed. I have what they call "warning track power." Or, just enough "pop" to be dangerous — if only to myself — if I get designs on Ruthian glory. In six seasons, I've never actually put one out. Instead, I shoot for the gaps and run like hell. It's usually an effective strategy.

Deciding to challenge the centerfielder's arm, I grazed second and dug in for third. Wind at my back, I neared the base and lept into a textbook feet-first slide, hoping to duck the tag. Though I couldn't see it, I could sense the the third baseman readying himself to receive the throw — like the pressure dropping before a thunderstorm, you can always feel when a play will be close.

Just then, my right cleat, instead of slicing through what passes for infield dirt in our league, caught and held true to the earth. Sadly, my foot forgot to relay the message to rest of my body. 

Momentum carried my leg forward, juxtaposing my foot and ankle at unnatural angles. There was a sickening, audible "snap," as I landed in heap on top of the bag. The third base coach, doubling as an umpire, spread his arms wide: the universal signal for "safe." Clutching my lower leg, I unleashed an epic string of profanities that would make George Carlin blush (R.I.P., you brilliant man).

It wasn't the pain, so much. OK, it was. But more than that, what was truly terrifying was the sound. There are few noises more genuinely frightening — especially for a pseudo-athlete — than the pop of a joint. In particular, those emanating from the Rube Goldberg machine that is the human ankle. Thankfully, as I would find out following a six-hour ordeal at the Fanny Allen walk-in clinic, said sound did not signal a fracture.

Rather, I have "the dreaded high-ankle sprain," so designated — at least in fantasy football geek circles — for its notoriously slow recovery time and the fact that it's incredibly easy to reinjure, even after you think it's healed. As I type this, I am laying on my couch, right leg elevated and sporting a nifty — and uncomfortably hot — air cast. It's a pose I'll need to get used to.

The reason I'm telling you all of this — aside from the fact that I am physically unable to do anything beyond typing at the moment — is that I had plans to swing by Gezellig Theater tonight to catch the Radiator benny. It features a Boston-based band called Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow, whom Radio Bean's Lee Anderson made a point of calling me to rave about a couple of weeks back — which he never does.

Also on the bill are local singerin'-songwriterin' ingenue Maryse Smith and my current favorite local act — whom I have yet to catch live and, sadly, will miss yet again — Paul & the Mystery of Gravity.

So, denizens of Solid State, I call on you to do me a, well, solid. Go support our local community radio station. And also, report back and let me know how it was, as it appears I will be vicariously living through you for the next few weeks. Show starts at 8:30 and costs a meager five bucks. And as always, if you don't know where Gezellig is, ask a hipster.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'd like to go back to moping over the cosmic injustice of being made an invalid on the exact day summer finally decided to show up.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Triumph @ Bonnaroo

Posted By on Tue, Jun 23, 2009 at 4:07 PM

For yet another year, I couldn't go to Bonnaroo. Fortunately, Conan O'Brien sent everyone's favorite cigar-chomping canine, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, to Tennessee to report on the festivities. I wonder if I can get him to come with me to Phish at SPAC in August . . .

Friday, June 19, 2009

Phun with PETA

Posted By on Fri, Jun 19, 2009 at 3:25 PM

I can't make this stuff up.

In a letter dated June 19, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has asked that local jam icons Phish temporarily change their names to — are you ready? — Sea Kittens, for this weekend's shows in Wisconsin.

Really.

The request comes as part of the organization's ongoing "Sea Kittens" campaign, which attempts to cutesypomorphize our fine finned friends in an effort to curb fishing — of both the commercial and recreational kind, apparently. The thinking being that nobody this side of Chuck Manson could possibly eat something adorable — though one assumes PETA has never had the "Bambi & Thumper" plate at the Road Kill Cafe. Mmmm . . . Disneylicious. Ahem.

Put another way, here's the logic:
Q: Would you eat a yellowfin tuna?
A: Sure!
Q: OK. But would you eat a yellowfin kitten?
A: Um . . . does it taste like a yellowfin tuna?

In a quote accompanying the press release announcing the letter to the Phab Phour, PETA's Ashley Byrne makes her case:

"If Phish became Sea Kittens and the band's legions of fans started calling fish 'sea kittens,' fewer of these gentle animals would be violently killed for food, painfully hooked for 'sport,' or cruelly confined to aquariums."

Maaaaybe. But have you ever been to a Phish show, Ashley? (My suggestion: try to convert them before the nitrous breaks out. Just sayin'.)

For the moment stepping away from the prickly debate over whether or not eating animals is ethical — I get hungry just reading "Animal Farm" — PETA's proposition does raise another, perhaps funnier, question:

If Phish does change their name to reflect (arguably) politically-correct gustatory convictions, could it set a precedent for other like-minded zoologically themed bands to do the same?

After much spirited discussion around the 7D office, the general conclusion is this: Good God, we hope so.

Some possibilities (feel free to add your own below):

The Beatles: The Love Bugs
Grizzly Bear: The Care Bears
Band of Horses: My Little Ponies
Howlin' Wolf: Yippin' Puppy
Dr. Dog: Doogie Howser
Andrew Bird: Tweety Bird
The Cat Empire: The Kingdom of Land Fishies
Def Leppard: Hearing Impaired Leppard
John Cougar Mellencamp: John Kitten Mellencamp
Gorillaz: The Monkees
Le Tigre: French Kittens
Modest Mouse: Actually, that's already pretty good.
Danger Mouse: Ditto.
Snoop Dogg: Snoopy
Cat Stevens: Kitten Islam

And of course,
The Animals: The Living Beings That Feel Pain, Communicate, Show Affection and Have Every Right to Exist So Don't Eat Me, You Douchebags

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Love, Literally

Posted By on Tue, Jun 16, 2009 at 4:12 PM

It's official. I'm in love with "Literal Videos."

It started with Bryan Dondero's post last week, which featured a literal video version of Billy Idol's "White Wedding." That prompted me to check out a few more. And then a few more. And a few more. The tipping point came yesterday, when 7D staff writer Ken Picard sent around this literal version of Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart," which I somehow missed previously and is, without the question, my favorite of the bunch. Enjoy.


Friday, June 12, 2009

Hazardous Rodents Stick It To The Man And Billy Idol . . . Literally

Posted By on Fri, Jun 12, 2009 at 1:23 PM

This just in via the New York Times, Danger Mouse has released a brand new album, "Dark Night of the Soul," with absolutely no music on it. Suck that Thom Yorke! This Yankee just topped your coolness by taking the free music to a whole new level . . . like . . . um . . . cuz he, like, already knew that, like, people weren't gonna buy the music if it wasn't free so, like, why even put the music on it . . . man?!

So despite the nonexistent music, you can buy the limited edition brand new album (blank cd) for only $50! Oh, they'll throw in some David Lynch photos for free, so you'll have some really cool pics to look at as you don't listen to it.

Orrrrrrr, you can listen to it for free on NPR. (?!?!!!)  Don't ask me, I don't know.

In other news, this literal Billy Idol video is hilarious. Well, at least I think it's hilarious. Hey, it's free, shut up!


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Catch Of The Day

Posted By on Thu, Jun 11, 2009 at 3:19 PM

Perception is a funny thing. You can have a preconceived expectation of something, and most of the time that is exactly what your brain will show you. But if you stop and look closely, sometimes you'll be surprised at what is actually there.

So what the hell does this have to do with Solid State, you ask?

Tuesday night at Higher Ground, The Meat Puppets' Curt Kirkwood was wearing a shirt that said "Gone Fishing." Seemed a little cheesy for an indie rock legend. But I figured he probably bought it in some truck stop gift shop because he's been touring the country in a minivan for the last twenty-seven years, and he doesn't have a lot of money so let's just give the guy a friggin' break about the shirt because, after all, he's a dynamo guitarist and performer . . . ahem. Moving on . . .

An hour into the set, a friend pointed out to me that the shirt actually said something quite different. So I took a closer look and had to laugh, because it definitely didn't say what I thought it said (see photo).

Musically, The Meat Puppets are all over the map. When they come to town you're never quite sure what state they'll be in. For example, their last appearance at HG was a reunion-fueled romp through their back-catalog. This show, however, began with a bunch of cow-punkish songs from the just-released Sewn Together, which features punchy, syncopated bass lines and double-time drum beats topped with chicken-pickin' guitar runs. Sounds good, right?

Then they took a sharp left into different musical territory. The songs started featuring super extended, effects-heavy guitar solos. Old favorites like "Up On The Sun," "Plateau" and "Lake of Fire" felt a bit meandering after eight minutes of echo-drenched, Strat pyrotechnics. And I mean that in the best possible way. It's almost like they saw Dark Star Orchestra's soundcheck (they were playing next door in the Ballroom) and got inspired to go all Jerry on us. I think The Meat Puppets actually out-jammed the DSO. Dude. A couple of hippies even wandered into the room at one point and started doing the noodle.

Like Kirkwood's shirt, openers Retribution Gospel Choir were not what they seemed at first glance. If they had a more definitive name I would have showed up earlier. I was expecting some kind of mellow choral arrangements or whatever, but instead got . . . ten-minute psychedelic guitar freakouts.

And I mean that in the best possible way.

Monday, June 8, 2009

B to the E . . .

Posted By on Mon, Jun 8, 2009 at 7:26 PM

Man, oh man. I always forget just how much I enjoy Jazz Fest. To be perfectly blunt, it's really easy in this job to get bogged down by the nuts and bolts of trying to cover it — extra listings, researching spotlights, jazz hand exercises, etc. By the time the fest actually comes along, there is a part of me that just wants to run screaming into the woods and listen to death metal at unspeakable volumes in my underwear while drinking PBR tallboys. And I don't even really like death metal.

The reality, of course, is that I couldn't do that, even if I really wanted to. And as much as I may dream about it in my weaker moments, when it comes time to get down to business, it never fails to surprise me how much fun the Jazz Fest really is. Maybe that shouldn't be so surprising, given that my "business" primarily involves wandering around town and listening to music. But still, it is. And when it isn't, it will probably be time to hang 'em up, as they say. But the thing that sticks with me isn't so much any one individual performance. Rather, I'm always taken by the atmosphere around the city. And Friday night was a great example.

The entire downtown district — can we really call it a "district?" — was simply electric. Throngs upon throngs of revelers milled about the Marketplace, almost as if they were just, um, discovering it for the first time — maybe surprise isn't so unique to me, after all. Without cheating and looking it up, I couldn't even tell you who I saw that night. And really, it doesn't matter. Opening night is almost as much about the experience as it is the artists themselves. (OK, I sort of take that back. I completely fell in love with a ska/rocksteady band from Upstate NY called The Big Takeover. But of course, I'm a sucker for ska.)

Saturday night, however, was all about one band, and one band only: Belizbeha. And sweet holy hell, they rocked. I'll admit that they weren't my favorite as a young buck coming up in the 1990s Burlington rock scene. Back then, my tastes leaned more towards The Pants, The Fags and Envy. But I certainly caught them live on more than a few occasions — most memorably an outdoor show at UVM, circa 1997. Were they as tight as they were in their heyday? Probably not. After ten years, who would be? But they had the Flynn bumping like I hadn't seen at least since a Cubanismo show when I was in high school — and maybe not even then.

A few things struck me about the evening that will like standout in my mind regardless of how the rest of the festival goes. In no particular order:

1. Fattie B is a dynamo. We dont get to see him as a front man very often anymore. I wish we did. Maybe if (when) he hangs up his headphones at Retronome?
2. It's too bad DJ A-Dog doesn't have more opportunities to showcase his chops behind the turntables. Dude was nasty. I doubt anyone who saw him cut with Belizbeha that night would be so quick to call him DJ A-Pod.
3. The 1990s were more fun than you probably remember.
4. I could totally have been imagining this, but I'm pretty sure I got my first ever Flynn stage shout-out during "Catch the Flow."
5. I still have a huge crush on Kadiatou Sibi.
6. Why doesn't Craig Mitchell sing more often?
7. I grossly underestimated how much fun this reunion stuff is. Someone needs to throw a huge 1990s Burlington rock scene reunion and invite every band from the era to play — since half of them had interchangeable members anyway, it couldn't possibly be too hard, right?


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Calling All DJs

Posted By on Tue, Jun 2, 2009 at 2:06 PM

This just in from your pals at WRUV 90.1FM:

Come One Come All

What: WRUV Staff & DJ Training

Where: CC Theater, under the Ira Allen Chapel (around the back of
Billings) on University Place

When: JUNE 7th @ 5pm sharp! We traditionally lock out latecomers to
emphasize the importance of being punctual when DJing. (But if I were
running late, I would still try to make it.)

Why: We ONLY offer training 3 times a year. You MUST attend this meeting
to get all the information about the subsequent training sessions,
shadowing details, WRUV manual & demo tape/CD specifics. We don't
have a lot of rules, so we are very particular when it comes to
following the few — read: important — we do have.

Whether you are a student, a graduate or have absolutely no affiliation
with the University of Vermont, if you have an interest in
non-commercial radio we invite you to see what WRUV is all about.

You may have heard us on your radio, streamed over the internet
or through the ceiling speakers of the Davis Center/Tunnel. Now this is
your chance to be heard, whether via a talk show, educational program, news
program, instructional program, new music show, international music
show, traditional music show, comedy show . . . the possibilities are
endless.  Also, if you are shy or have no interest in actually BEING a
DJ, after this first meeting you can find out how to become a "Friend
of WRUV" and get the same perks as trained WRUV DJs.

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