Thursday, April 23, 2009

Coco & Lafe on the Blue Plate Special

Coco and Lafe, who are buskers you can see routinely around and about Boston during the summer, are doing a live performance on WDVX in front of a live audience tomorrow 4.24), to be broadcast across Tennessee and Kentucky and the whole wide world through a Webcast.

Details: 12 noon eastern (for those in Europe and down under, you’ll have to do the math).

From an email: We’re actually performing at a new, high tech performance venue called “The Square” (as it is located at 4 Market Square in Knoxville, Tennessee). Fred Eaglesmith and Joe Lamay/Sherri Reese will also be performing.

You can connect here or at their Website here.

Good luck, you guys. And if you're sitting in your cube tomorrow at noon with nothing better to do because, oh, I don't know, maybe one of your biggest customers or clients is about to go belly-up, give Coco and Lafe a listen.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

We're leaving on a trip; why am I depressed?

We're counting down the days we when we leave for Spain and North Africa. Doing all the little errands, paying off the Amex so we can put more on it for more frequent flier miles for future trips, buying presents for the people we'll be meeting for the first time, putting finishing touches on our itinerary, which basically amounts to when do we leave Spain for North Africa; Sue and I are very loose.

There's something about traveling, in the leaving, that makes me a bit sad, though. I've noticed it all my life, and I'm aware of it, the same way I'm now aware of the letdown that I'll have when a play that I'm in closes. I know the drop is coming and I'm prepared for it. It's like being depressed in the spring. Everyone thinks you're supposed to be so happy in the spring, just like you should be so happy when you're leaving on a trip. But I get depressed in the spring, just as I've learned so many other people do, and yes, I've read about people, serious travel writers, who have identified the depression that occurs in leaving.

And for anyone who thinks I'm overly sensitive, you know what you can do. I'm so tired of people--usually ones who are thick and dense as a block of wood who experience life with all the vigor of a sea slug, telling me how I should or shouldn't experience life.

It's all in the leaving, and guilt that I'm doing something really nice for myself, a problem I've had all my life thinking that I really don't deserve nice things. (Try growing up poor in the working class; it isn't all a Matt Damon movie.) There's the guilt that I'm leaving behind responsibilities (for awhile, at least) that may need my attention.

It's awfully decadent to be traveling in this economy, isn't it? Even though Sue and I live so frugally in order to travel, and pretty much backpack wherever we go. It's the life we want to live, and it's the life we set out to live. Still, there are all the shoulds: I should be saving my money. I should be spending my money on something more practical or saving it for an emergency. I should be concentrating on looking for permanent work or even a really good contract. Even the play I'm in makes me guilty because last night the cast and director met for the first time and it's a really tight group of people, and I'm leaving and we could be rehearsing when I'm away and I want to do a really good job for the director who I really like, and I don't want to let my cast members down, whom I like and have a lot of respect for.

It's all in the leaving. And I learned a long time ago, on my first really big trip, that you can't look at it that you're leaving, but that you're going somewhere. Never look back (and never look down, either!) But look to where you're heading, and you'll do fine.

Monday, April 20, 2009

2009 Boston Marathon Day

The Boston Marathon was run today. We went in to watch it for a while, and caught the women's finish. But unless you get to Copley Square at the crack of dawn or you have a VIP pass to the stands, you're not going to see anything except flags and the backs of people's heads. Still, this video gives a good sense of the excitement and anticipation as the runners headed down the home stretch. You can see the flags getting whipped by the headwind the runners had to face the entire face.

Still, the marathon doesn't have the appeal that it used to have for me, back in the days when I was running hard, 40, 50, 60 miles a week, if my shins would let me. Back then I called it Boston, and everyone I was hanging with knew what I was talking about. I had runners from all over the country sleeping on the floor and on couches one year, coming to Boston trying to qualify for the Olympics (none made it, but there were two very low two-digit numbers under my roof at one time.)

Things, life, hasn't let me out on the roads in about, God, is it three years now? But even back then I was running up to 15 miles at a clip, in the dead of summer with a Camelback loaded with Gatorade and a packet or two of GU (raspberry was my favorite.) I want to get back into it, but first I have to find a doctor who will give me a stress test and say, sure, no problem, you're heart is fine. At my age, with heart disease part of a big one-two punch in my family (the other being the Big C) I don't want to get out there on the roads and collapse of a heart attack. (Well, at least he died happy.)

So we checked out the finish, where we couldn't see anything except the backs for people's heads and some flags. Around the corner there was a veteran's display. I have to think when dealing with a crisis like that in your life, 25,000 (I was told that was the number of runners today) endorphin-junkies is going to look pretty lame. From the work I did on The Boys of Summer, something like dealing with someone's death through warfare sticks with you for the rest of your life. You pretty much wake up everyday, and that's the thing that slams you between the eyes. It wasn't a dream, is the first thought through your head, and I feel for those people; I really feel for them.

Farther up Newbury we saw the Hempest store. I had heard for hemp being used for clothes, so we wandered in to see what the fuss was about. I have to say I really liked a few of the shirts, but still, I'm not going to pay $89 for a shirt, no matter how much I like it. I wouldn't be leaving for Spain and North Africa in a week if I spent that kind of money on clothes and luxuries. I'm a backpacker, and I like living like that. I've said if I won the Lottery the only thing that would change is I'd drink more premium beer and less beer on sale.

Farther up, Natural Bean was giving away free coffee to celebrate the opening of a new store. Sue told them I'd blog about them, so here I am doing it, but I'm not just doing that because Sue said so. It was really good coffee. I mean, really good. And giving it away is one way to get people turned on to your stuff. (Hey, fat-cat music execs--are you listening?)

We ran into a stream of runners up on Hereford Street that we couldn't cross, just like you might with a swollen stream out in the wilderness, so we turned around and headed home, via Park, going through the crowds again. It's weird, how the race and the runners just became a backdrop for our day, instead of the focus like it used to so many times in the past. The end of Marathon Day was always a cookout. Today we went to REI to pick up a couple of things for our trip.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Anais Mitchell at Club Passim 4.19.09

Anais Mitchell played her magic tonight at Club Passim. Amazing songwriter when it comes to the opera she wrote about the story of Hades. She told the audience tonight that Ani DiFranco is part of the project. She said it was due out in the fall. When it's released, definitely check it out.

I've seen her three times now, twice at Club Passim. It's a small, intimate place, perfect for someone like Michell who has almost a delicate way of presenting her voice and herself. She has a really unique voice and way of phrasing songs, that can get a bit tedious. But when she throws her talent into a cover, like she did tonight with a Gillian Welch number, the tedium is brushed aside and it's like seeing her again for the first time. (Sorry, one of these days I'm going to start bringing a notebook to concerts; I swore to myself tonight that I'd remember it, but at this late hour it's completely gone from my head.)

Sorry about the poor quality. But it does give a good idea of her voice, which is so unique.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Second Annual Record Store Day...huh?

Just another forced holiday, and if anyone bemoans the decline of records, CDs, whatever you want to call the hard round things that have music on them, this is just a last-gasp effort to delay the inevitable.

I'm part of that demo that still buys CDs. Newbury Comics. Looney Tunes on Boylston Street by Mass Ave. In Your Ear on Comm Ave. in Allston. They're all still my favorite haunts, especially the used CD stores for the bargains. Also, where I also buy used. I download, but still like the quality of the sound that comes from my Denon stereo and Mission and Advent speakers. But my seventeen-year-old daughter won't go near a CD. She'll cringe, just like I cringed at my father's heavy, 78 RPM records. My world was the vinyl LP. It's all digital downloads for her, all the way to playing her iPod in her car. Digital is her world.

A great book to read to understand all this is Appetite for Self-Destruction, The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry in the Digital Age. Written by Rolling Stone Contributing Editor Steve Knopper, it minutely trace the players and events that led us to where we are today in the musical world. It was greed, pure greed (surprise, surprise, huh?) coupled with just plain on bad business that sunk the record industry. They were making money hand over fists selling CDs, and never saw the Internet coming. Well, some did, but they were too stupid to figure it out. Illegal downloads. I just don't understand that concept, to tell you the truth, and that's a subject for a whole 'nother blog. Downloads are a way to promote music, and the record industry was too stupid to figure out a way to do it. Steve Jobs with iTunes and the iTunes Store finally figured it out. And now just about every "media" company is pushing their digital downloads. My cell phone that I just bought in December has a link to the ATT store that I can't delete from the phone's menu. They're still trying to ram it all down our throats, and the big, greedy suits probably will never get it.

But...when I say the record industry is sunk, that doesn't mean music is tanking like the economy. Music is more vibrant than ever, with more new music and more ways to hear it and grab it that ever before. Who knows what the Next Big Thing will be. But for sure, the little stuff is the way to go for smaller, up and coming bands. MySpace. Internet radio. That's just three.

Just the other night I saw The Bittersweets at Club Passim, one of the sweetest venues in the Boston area to see an act. They're touring, they're hitting the right audience, and guess what, they're promoting digital downloading of their music. That night they were promoting their latest live album on Pay what you want, including nothing, and you download the album. If you don't pay, you give up five of your friends' email addresses (sorry guys, but I picked five of you who I thought would be interested in music.) That's kind of a interesting way to look at things. If you don't pay, you give them email addresses, which actually are just about good as gold in the marketing world.

I highly recommend the album, by the way. Scroll down a bit on Action Bob Markle and there's a widget on the left you can click on.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Count your blessings if you're employed and stop your complaining

About four hours ago this status line appeared on my Facebook wall:

Wishes it was 5:00

This is from a person who is working. Working at a very good job, I might add.

Well, I'll trade places with you.

I don't mean to be mean. Just ironic.

I'm at least familiar with this person (because I do have "friends" on Facebook who I have no idea who they are), and I know this particular person didn't mean any harm. I also know that there are people working who are probably suffering, doing work that is so stressful that it might end of killing them--very literally. Actually, this particular person just may be a good example of that.

It's just that, sometimes it seems that we can only get perspective on things after we lose it. Like a job. We bitch and moan and complain about our jobs, our bosses, the loudmouth in the next cube who can't talk quietly on the phone. But you take all that away and you suddenly get a good idea of what you've lost.

Kids are like that. I used to wake up almost every day to a woman screaming at her kids. Get up. Pick this up. I'm not telling you again. That kind of stuff. This family was wealthy and frankly I couldn't figure out what the woman had to complain about; she had everything any human being could ever want. And there I was, lying in my bed, my kids living in the next town and I was seeing them maybe a day or two a week, if that much, and I thought to myself, you don't know how lucky you are. Yeah, kids can drive you crazy, but you know, maybe it's only when you don't have them in your life anymore, through divorce, like it was for me, or even you almost lose them through sickness, that you really get a good idea how much of a treasure they are.

So, tonight, if you got a job, get down on your knees and thank the good Lord. And if your kids are in the next room sleeping, go in and kiss them on the head. Like I've said before, the warmth that comes off a sleeping child's head could raise a dead man.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Bittersweets with Audrey Ryan at Club Passim--April 8, 2009

Front row table at Club Passim to see The Bittersweets, who I first heard on Radio Paradise and just fell in love with their music, their lyrics, their harmonies.

The Bittersweets are Chris Meyers (guitar, keyboards, vocals) and Hannah Prater (vocals, guitar). They pretty much just followed the playlist of their CD, Goodnight San Francisco, including playing the title track because when they were tuning up someone (moi) asked Hannah if they were going to play it and she said, We'll see. They also played Long Day from The Life You Always Wanted, and a song that was a tribute to Julie Miller (one of these days I should start taking notes.)

Originally from San Francisco (well, that's where the two met), now they live in Nashville and from all reports (from mom and dad Meyers who I talked to by the door and also the mom in line in the bathroom) they like it there. I sincerely hope Nashville doesn't ruin them. Chris was already speaking in kind of a weird hillbilly accent, which is fun and folksy and all but God please don't get caught up in all the hoopla that I suspect can come from the record industry there. My God, look what they did to Lori McKenna's album Glamorous.

Anyway, they started with Birmingham and Hannah's voice is such a surprise live. It's sweeter and softer and a bit velvety compared to the studio version. Her soft voice and easy guitar strumming is a nice counter to Chris's keyboard and raspier voice. Chris is a wildman on stage; you can just see how much he loves what he does, and how much the music means to him. A couple of the Taylors they had on stage were both gouged up at exactly the same place right where the pickguard ran out and the wood was exposed to some serious strumming.

Audrey Ryan opened for them. Ryan is an interesting performer. Hmmm...quirky? Innovative? Eclectic? That night she was playing this Jordin electric guitar, tambourine, bass drum, maracas, and oh yes, an accordion. I didn't know her music, and what she played that night was hard to place, which actually is a good thing. Start with the all-encompassing alt/indie label, but then where do you go when she records a loop with her guitar, then layers the percussion over it and sings? A bit into her act she brought up a friend (Steve?) who works in the kitchen at Passim. Um, Steve didn't add a whole lot, which was kind of funny because in a weird way he became another one of Ryan's instruments, which he probably wouldn't want to hear but it did all work together.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Curse of the Unemployed: Overqualified applicants

Got this as part of an email today:

"Thank you for your patience in regards to feedback from the hiring manager. The quality of applications for this position has been particularly high and we regret to inform you that we will not be moving forward with your application."

The quality of the applications for this position has been particularly high? Well, since I have 28 years of experience at this particular position, the quality must be extraordinarily high. Like Mount Everest high. Like, overqualified. Like, people who are overeducated who are out of work and willing to do the kind of work I've been doing for the past 20+ years.

Yeah, it's fun out here. It really is.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday lyrics by the Cowboy Junkies

"Do you ever finally reach the point of knowing/Or do you just wake up one day and say, I am going?"

Sat at my window watched the world
Wake up this morning
Purple sky slowly turning golden,
Distant elms so orange
You'd swear they're burning.

All this flowing water
Has got my mind wandering.
Do you ever finally reach
A point of knowing
Or do you just wake up one day
And say, I am going?

What will I tell you
When you ask me why I'm crying
Will I point above
At the Red Tail gracefully soaring
Or down below where it's prey
Is quietly trembling?

Two thousand years ago Jesus is left there hanging.
Purple sky slowly turning golden.
Cowards at his feet loudly laughing.
Loved ones stumbling homeward
Their words reeling.
Red Tail above my head quietly soaring.
Waters turn from ice, creak is roaring.
He says, enough of all this shit I am going.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Life's little ups and downs

It's been a while since I've consistently blogged. A couple of people have mentioned it to me now, and say they enjoy reading this. It would have been a lot of the same old, same old. Being unemployed sucks. It still sucks, but like everything in life--or at least the way I experience it--it's always a roller coaster ride with continual ups and downs every day.

Yesterday I woke really bummed. It all came crashing down on me. And today? I was called in for an audition for a viral video, which I think is really cool to begin with, and I know I nailed the audition. Whether or not I'll get the part remains to be seen, but it's nice to know that I can actually do the work.

Just like I know I can write. I haven't been blogging because, along with looking for work and a job, I've been submitting to Trazzler. They've accepted a few of my stories, and hopefully some of those "user stories" will turn into Trazzler stories. (BTW, become a friend of mine on Trazzler. I think it will help my odds of getting freelance from them.) That's the plan, anyway. I honestly believe there are things in this world that make it better. Actually make the world a better place. And I think travel is one of those things. And if I can use my promotional writing talents and skills to induce people to go travel, then I don't think I'm doing such a bad thing. Someday--and hopefully that someday is sooner than later--Sue and I hope to travel around the world. Big dreams? I don't know. What's wrong with big dreams. If you shoot high, you may miss, but you'll still probably hit higher than if you aimed low.

And Sue and I are leaving for southern Spain and north Africa in three weeks. I was laying on our bed in our guest room, where you can look out the window and see the planes coming and out of Logan, and I thought to myself, what the heck are you doing lying here? Get moving. Decisions sometimes are made quick, and Sue and I can't wait. The economy can go to hell. I found a cheap flight out of JFK. We're taking the Fung Wah bus out of South Station to Chinatown. The subway to JFK. And I can live on fifty cent burritos. I know I can. I've done it.

And one more thing about Sue. God love her. Easter is Sunday. Some of her family is scheduled to come. It's still up in the air. My Kathryn is coming in tonight. I came home from my audition to find Sue here at the apartment on her lunch hour, vacuuming. She said she wanted the place nice for Kathryn. Now, we have a really crummy vacuum cleaner. So I told her if I got this part, we'll buy a new vacuum cleaner. One that works. Her response? She said, I'd rather have an amp. You gotta love a woman like that.

Quincy Billboard: Bet on the U.S....and lose all your chips

This billboard in Wollaston, on the corner of Newport and Beal, always has a patriotic theme with Uncle Sam cheering on the U.S. Someone added their two-cents.
Web Analytics