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Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Hey, Solid State. Happy freakin' Halloween!

This really is my favorite holiday. And since I actually got my act together this year and lined up a sweet costume — Daniel Larusso's shower get-up from The Karate Kid — I've been looking forward to it for weeks. However, through an evil twist of karmic fate, I'm sick as a dog with some unholy combination of congestion and fatigue. Ughhh. I am therefore listing myself as "questionable" for the weekend's festivities. We'll see if an old-fashioned power nap can get the juices flowing again — or at least the mucus . . . ew.

Anyway, in my column this week, I gave a quick run down of some of the cooler Halloween(ish) shows happening about town. With the big night on a Friday this year, there is a ton of stuff going on, so it was certainly not an all-inclusive list. One omission in particular, the Green Door Studio's annual Halloween bash, should be especially spooky.

The good folks at Aether Everywhere are joining forces to provide a live, dark-ambient "soundtrack" to the festivities. Members of Solah, Von Cosel, the le duo, A Snake in the Garden, Skyscraper, Nuda Veritas, Brwn Rcls, Yellowknife and Modern Primate will combine, Voltron-style, for a four-hour improv throwdown. And yes, you read that correctly. Four hours. The epic creep-fest kicks off at 8 p.m. and will be followed by a dance party. Oh, and it's free!

In other news, a good friend of mine phoned me yesterday to ask for Halloween costume suggestions. He's attending a "Dead Rock Stars" party and was having a hard time coming up with a suitable disguise. Knowing him well, I'm guessing he wants to avoid the obvious culprits: Kurt Cobain, Keith Moon, John Lennon, etc. So I've been wracking my brains trying to help him out. Here are my thoughts, but feel free to add your own.

Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes: Not a "rock" star, per se. But my buddy is a scruffy, dark-haired Irish dude and the visual in my head is hysterical.

Amy Winehouse: Too soon?

Layne Staley: Alice In Chains ruled.

Dimebag Darrell: So did Pantera.

Any drummer from Spinal Tap: "He choked to death on someone else's vomit."

Barry White: See "scruffy dark-haired Irish dude" above.

Rick James: Bitch!

Sid Vicious: My friend can't play bass either (just kidding, man).

Michael Hutchence (INXS): Do you know how this guy died? Wow.

Anyway, that's all my cold medicine-addled brain can come up with. Here's hoping everyone has a happy — and safe! — Halloween.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Dear John


Dear John, er, I mean, Solid State,

It seems the sun has set on our . . . day in the sun.

The thing is, I just don’t see this lasting. It’s not you, it’s me. Actually, wait, this will help you understand: It’s the distance. And I don’t mean that in the way my first college boyfriend did. You know, when he broke up with me because “the distance was hard,” and then promptly started dating the girl that lived across the hall. I mean it in the "I’m kind of moving to Maine" way.

Several months ago, my sister told me the news that I was going to be an aunt. And it was great news. But then, four months into the pregnancy, came another piece of news.

My brother-in-law Tim is a sailor. A tried and true NAVY man.  He graduated from Annapolis, served his time overseas and continued in active duty.  After a few years, Uncle Sam told Tim that there were too many young officers on board, and if Tim wanted out, civilian life was his. For just the small price of remaining part of the Naval Reserves. Tim agreed, moved my sister and himself to Maine and started law school.

Fast forward a couple years and Uncle Sam is back. And frankly, being a total bitch.

Basically Tim has been called back to active duty. For a yearlong deployment to the Philippines. Not Iraq, by any means, but still a half a world away from his pregnant wife. Does the military care about this? No. Do they care that he only has two semesters left before finishing law school with his class? Not one bit.

So, seeing as the rest of my family still resides in Connecticut, and seeing as my sister’s close friends are largely long distance (and strapped with their own NAVY husbands and deployment disasters), my brother-in-law called me and asked me to move to Maine. And live with my sister. And help raise a baby.

You know, like Heather has Two Mommies, the Iraq War edition.

So . . . I’m off! And in the end, I really am happy about my decision to go. Although to be frank, it really wasn’t much of a decision at all. This is my family. And the one thing we all know we can count on is each other.

That said, I am of course sad to leave Vermont, a place I initially moved to completely on a whim. I got a job as a nanny and lived on a cot in my friend Erin’s living room . . . and quickly realized I was bored. So I started Wyld Stallions Records, and in turn met all of you.

Remember that? I was that crazy blonde girl with the baby strapped to her chest, running all over town collecting songs to throw together a benefit CD for Vermont CARES. And all you local musicians totally got on board. So much so, that we actually had to cut tracks to make the album fit the 80 minute CD-R. Yes, CD-R. That project was so DIY that Jeremy Mendocino and I almost got in a fistfight over the benefits of mastering. At any rate, you all got involved, no questions asked, and my first impression of Burlington was a group of incredibly friendly and generous musicians. A group that made me feel totally comfortable heading out to any show by myself, knowing there would always be familiar faces to talk to.

So, thank you! I know you all like to stay hung up on the fact that Toast closed, or whatever. But I didn’t come to Burlington until long after Toast’s demise, and I’ve always been pretty impressed with your music scene just as it is. Maybe that is because I moved here from Farmington, Maine, where shows required at least an hour’s drive, if not three. But for me, Burlington has always been Music (capital M).

I plan to keep Wyld Stallions Records living (at least at the same near-comatose state that it lives in now) in my new venture into aunt-hood. So if any of you band kids want to come play a benny on the coast, feel free to contact me. We have PBR in the bottle in Maine, which for some of you might be all the motivation you need.

And until then, I’ll miss you. Very much. Well, at least until tomorrow when I post this crazy project I’ve been working on. I’ll miss you until then . . . and again after that. And Dan, thanks for letting me temporarily fill Joanna's shoes as the tall blonde by your side, all interwebs style. I think I'll miss you most of all.



PS- Erin and I are hosting a going away party for me on Friday November 7th from 7 PM until my parents show up Saturday with the Uhaul. It’s an Un-Baby Shower of sorts — one last night of everything unsuitable for children. If you know where we live, you are invited. If you don’t, email me and I’ll send you an official invite.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

High Noon at the Flynn

Did anybody else catch The Spaghetti Western Orchestra at the Flynn last night? If not, you missed one hell of a show.

For the uninitiated, SWO is essentially a musical theater tribute — but don't hold that doubly dubious phrase against them — to the music of the great Ennio Morricone, comprised of five Australian musicians, each of whom have backgrounds in theater and comedy. Though he has contributed to more than 300 projects in various types of media, the Italian composer is best known for penning the soundtracks to filmmaker — and fellow Italian — Sergio Leone's "spaghetti westerns." The_good__the_bad___the_ugly_wtitle In particular, Morricone's theme for The Good, The Bad & The Ugly has pretty much much become synonymous with the entire western genre. Whistle it right now and see if you don't immediately picture a young, serape-clad Clint Eastwood chomping on a cigar with six-shooters blazing . . . see what I mean?

So to summarize, we've got a group of Australians paying tribute to an Italian who wrote music for films largely shot in Spain that revolutionized a definitively American genre — albeit one that owes significant debts to Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa. Does anyone else feel a bar joke coming on?

Moving back stateside, last night's show — in front of a roughly three-quarters full room of middle-class, middle-aged Vermonters — was just about the rootin'-est, tootin'-est hootenanny I've seen at the Flynn since . . . geez. I'm not even sure. Feist maybe?

Employing all manner of sonic doohickeys from drums and orchestral percussion to keyboards and double-bass to a treasure chest of noisemakers that would make Prairie Home Companion sound effects whiz Fred Newman blush — tuned beer bottles, a nifty tape loop device and, of course, a box of Corn Flakes, etc. — the group tore through some of the best known tunes (even if you don't know you that know them) from the voluminous Morricone catalog. SWO infuses the maestro's music with sight and sound gags in much the same campy style as the Leone's films. As a huge fan of spaghetti westerns — and westerns, in general — I was definitely in my element. I still sorta feel like dramatically shooting someone, in fact.

There were numerous highlights throughout the evening. But I think my favorite moment — aside from the crowd screaming along with the "AIEEAIEEAH!" part from The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, of course — was the group's rendition of "The Ballad of Hank McCain," which Morricone originally wrote as an instrumental, but was later given lyrics by songwriter John Zorn. SWO altered Zorn's words slightly and sent the crowd — myself included — tearing through their program notes to see if the song was legit. It was, sort of. Below are some of the original lyrics. See if you can guess which word they replaced with "McCain."

No one knows better than the kingGood_bad_ugly
Life's a filthy dirty game
Very very hard to win

No one knows better than the king
How to disregard the pain
Never, never let it in

No one knows better than the king
That an angry man goes blind
Knocks his head against the wall

No one knows better than the king
How it hurts a man to fight
That he's human after all

No one knows better than the king
What a desperate man may do
When it gets too hard to bear

No one knows better than the king
How to spit on the taboos
As they thought he'd never dare

No one knew better than the king
Just how bitter it would be
To be beaten after all

No one knew better than the king
They're the ones who fix the game
They're the ones with loaded dice

No one knew better than the king
That they'd get him all the same
And they made him pay the price

Eerie, right?

Anyway, the show was an absolute blast. And for those who couldn't make it, here's a clip of what you missed.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?

Sigh . . .

Friday, October 24, 2008

Crowes' Feat

Yo yo, Solid State. Happy Friday.

You'll notice I'm addressing you in italics, so you've probably gathered something different is on tap for today. And you'd be correct. On that note, I'd like to introduce another new occasional contributor to these here electronic music pages, Mr. Jake Rutter. Jake has done some work for 7D in the past, most recently during Casey Rae-Hunter's reign. And he has a pretty snazzy review of The Lonestar Chain's new disc set to run in next week's paper. In the meantime, we dispatched him to check out The Black Crowes at Higher Ground this past Tuesday.  So without further adieu, take it away, Jake.

I walked into my first Black Crowes show 18 years ago, giddy with excitement — though maybe more for Robert Plant, the evening’s headliner — but psyched, nonetheless, for the ragtag opening act from Georgia. It was with the same sense of excitement that I hit Higher Ground Tuesday night for the second night of the Crowes’ Vermont visit. 

The fellas are riding high on the success of Warpaint, their most well received and acclaimed album since sophomore effort, Southern Harmony and Musical Companion. Promptly at 9:00 (a surprise, I must say) the Brothers Robinson and their rejiggered lineup hit the stage to raucous applause and tore right into “Goodbye Daughters of the Revolution,” Warpaint’s superb first single. From there, the group, leaning heavily on the new album, slammed out a career-spanning set that was light on “big hits” but heavy on good, old fashioned, ass shakin’ rock and freakin’ roll. 

Nearly two decades in, there is still nobody that does bearded boogie better than Chris Robinson, despite some worthy successors (I’m looking at you , Kings of Leon). While Chris did his thing, Rich Robinson was his normal, staid self, using his axe to accent and augment his brother’s soulful yelps on “Sister Luck” and "Oh Josephine” with the ease that only comes from a lifetime of playing together. Never one to seek out the spotlight, Chris seemed more than pleased to let newest Crowe, Luther Dickinson take the lion’s share of the set’s smoking leads.

Luther, slide wizard from the North Mississippi Allstars, is the spark that has revitalized this band.  The Crowes have always looked a little dirty, but Luther makes them sound filthy. He punctuated “Walk Believer Walk,” “Cypress Tree” and “Wounded Bird” with such gritty solos you could feel the river silt in your shoes. 

Indeed, the Crowes have as strong a lineup as they ever had. I did, though, miss old Eddie Harsch during “Descending,” one of the night’s highlights and a signature piece for Eddie, who always looked like Chris and Rich’s crazy uncle hunkered down behind his arsenal of keys. New piano jockey Adam MacDougall proved himself a worthy replacement, knocking the crowd back with a powerful solo on “Wiser Time.” It was especially nice to see Steve Gorman back behind the kit. When the boys “snuck” into town as Mr. Crowes Garden a few years back, Steve was noticeably absent. His energy and infallible propulsion were huge parts of the evening’s success, most notably when Steve and his giant marching band bass drum took front and center for the tent show revival stomp of “God’s Got It,” another Warpaint standout. However, judging by the assembled masses’ nonstop adulation and, from right behind me, the cry of “C’mon, Amanda, get your titties out!!” it is, in fact, the Crowes that still got it.

-Jake Rutter

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Fear & Loathing In Milton: Full Transcript

Canadian-born songwriter Bruce Innes has had quite a career. He performed hit singles such as "Mr. Monday" and the famed Vietnam war protest song "One Tin Soldier" with his band The Original Caste in the late 1960s. He wrote and recorded with artists such as Ian Tyson, John Denver and Joni Mitchell. And those illustrious associations are but the tip of the iceberg. Innes' credits also include work with iconic oddball Ray Stevens ("You could never write a song too silly for Ray" he says); outlaw-country badass Waylon Jennings ("a quiet guy"); and legendary comedic actor Leslie Neilsen ("Kind of a hound. All he did was chase women"). And believe me, the list goes on.

Seven Days recently caught up with Innes by phone from Milton in advance of his upcoming Vermont performances, which feature a blend of music and stories from his remarkable career. We chatted about music, protest songs and, of course, his good friend Hunter S. Thompson, who wrote about Innes in his landmark novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

SEVEN DAYS: Did you ever imagine that the lyrics to "One Tin Soldier would be as relevant today as they were in the Vietnam era?
BRUCE INNES: Actually, Dan, what happened was, one of the guys, Brian Potter, who was from London England, a songwriter over there, had just got through reading Lord of the Rings. So he started out with those sort of storytelling lyrics. Really, we had no idea to start with that it was sort of an anti-war song. But when we released it, it was right in the middle of the war and it became sort of an anthem.

It was a mixed blessing in lots of ways, because the country was really divided. It's hard to imagine now, but t here was a huge contingent of people who thought it was anti-patriotic. It was not like it is today. I mean, it really caused a lot of trouble. Lots of radio stations banned it. You'd think you'd get lots of letters saying "Oh gee, what a nice song," or whatever. But we had lots of letters saying things like, "Why don't you go back to Canada, you son of a bitch?" That sort of thing. So it's sort of a mixed blessing in that respect.

SD: It's like a precursor to Fox News.
BI: Yeah. Exactly! And you know, we were just trying to sing and play. So it was interesting.

SD: Given that many of the people in charge of our current military conflicts are products of that generation, do you feel the lessons of the Vietnam era have been forgotten?
BI: I do, in lots of ways. Every time we read about another one of our young people being killed . . . we seem to be fighting in a place where we're not wanted. It kind of  reminds me of the Vietnam war in lots of ways. You wonder if maybe we're doing the same thing all over again. It's hard to know.

SD: It almost seems as though antiwar songs have become a sort of campy, nostalgic cliche. Do you still believe in the power of protest songs to affect change?
BI: I don't know if I have, actually. One thing I think it does do is to get people talking and thinking. I was thinking the other night about Crosby, Stills & Nash's song "Ohio," about Kent State . . . That got a lot of people thinking. And of course, at that time I was close friends with Hunter Thompson and he was very anti-war and very anti-establishment. I think those kinds of things got a lot of people talking.

I think protest songs get people talking. I don't know that they change a lot of people's minds. I don't know that I've ever changed anybody's mind, quite frankly. But I think they do get people talking and thinking. And that's a good thing.

SD: How did you come to know Hunter S. Thompson?
BI: Well, when I was in college, the only way I could pay for my education, was I played and sang in bars. I went to the University of Montana and I was playing in the Gun Room at the Finlen Hotel in Butte, Montana, one summer and Hunter came up to do a story on the mines for the Wall Street Journal. He was a stringer for the Journal, and he had just gotten out of the service. And so he was there fr a month and we quickly figured out that we were the only two sane people in the town of Butte . . . although it may have been the other way around.

We really had a wonderful time, a great lifelong friendship. And I ended up going to California with him. And that's how I met John Denver. He was the house singer at Snowmass while I was the house singer at Aspen. And Hunter really talked me into coming to Aspen. We were friends for a long, long time. All the stuff he wrote about me in Fear and Loathing was only 50 perc . . . 40, er, 30 percent true.

SD: I should hope so! Tell me something about Hunter that most people wouldn't know.
BI: He loved volleyball. He was a really good athlete. he always had a volleyball net up in the yard at Woody Creek, on Owl Farm. We played a lot of volleyball. He was a good athlete and I think as his health deteriorated in later years that really contributed to him being depressed and maybe ending up the way it did.

But he had a great sense of humor. Absolutely great. One time I was at home in Canada and he called at 4 a.m. and woke my mother and father up. He asked to speak to me and I went to the telephone and heard this huge explosion on the other end of the line. It was a gunshot. And Hunter yells, "I got the bastard!" And I said, "What do you mean? An intruder?" And he he said, "No, my typewriter. Nobody could write anything with a piece of shit like that."

I don't think my parents ever recovered from that.

SD: You've worked with an incredible number and maybe more interestingly and incredible variety of artists. Who were some of your unexpected favorites?
BI: Well I've been doing it a long time, so that kind of counts for something. But unexpected . . . maybe one was Ray Stevens. You could never write a song too silly for Ray. I just loved the guy. When he first recorded a bunch of my stuff, it really helped me. That was sort of an unusual thing, because I"m not much of a country guy.

With "One Tin Soldier" we had a little record label called TA Records. And the other artists on the record label were Jim Seals and Dash Crofts, so I worked wit Seals & Crofts quite a bit. And they were really unusual. Very talented. But quite a bit older than I was at the time and really, quite unusual. They wrote songs that, until they moved to Warner Brothers, that no one would really pay much attention to. It was a unique experience. Great musicians.

SD: You sang on "Rocky Mountain High"?
BI: Yeah. I sang backup on that album. John [Denver] took me to New York when he was recording it and, I don't know. He was really a fun guy. A guy that if you'd known him, you'd really miss him. Just one of those really, nice, really talented people.

SD: I bet. You mentioned that you could never write a song too sill for Ray Stevens. What about Leslie Neilsen?
BI: Ah yes. I had a variety show in Canada for a while and Leslie came up a and was a guest a couple of times because he  was a Canadian guy and was a bigger star up there than he was here at the time. This was before he'd done all of those ridiculous movies. He was really truly a funny guy too. But he was a hound, you know? All he did was chase women. It was amazing, because he was kind of an older guy and I kept thinking "Holy mackerel! It's a wonder nobody's shot this guy." You know? But he really turned out to be a big star.

SD: I'm a big baseball fan. So I thought it was interesting that you were involved with L.A. Dodgers great, Maury Wills.
BI: I was. I was working at a little bar in Spokane Washington and he lived there when he was a shortstop with the Dodgers. And he came in and heard me and said, "Gee whiz. I love to play and and sing. And I just broke Ty Cobb's base stealing record and people are asking me to come and make appearances and I don't know what to do." So I wrote him nine little baseball songs and gosh, we traveled all around the world. Mostly it consisted of him playing the banjo and both of us singing. And then he signed baseballs (laughs). He was a great guy. But don't ever get in a snowball fight with him. He'll take the top of your head off. Unbelievable arm.

SD: How did he take the Dodgers' loss in the playoffs this year?
BI: You know I haven't talked to him since. But I think he's probably not happy about it.

SD: I bet. It seems like you've hung out with two-thirds of my personal heroes. So I have to ask you about Waylon Jennings.
BI: I first met him in Lake Tahoe years ago. He had a folk group called Waylon Jennings and The Kimberleys. And he was actually a folk singer. And he was good, I'm not kidding you. The Kimberleys were like, three girls and they were good. Then he sort of got country after that. I really thought he wrote good songs. A really good singer. But his health was crappy for a long time. You know, he was a diabetic. And that's, you know . . .

I admired him a lot. He was a quiet guy. You'd think, you know when you read about he and Willie and Kris Kristofferson, you'd think he was this really crazy outgoing guy like Hunter. But he wasn't like that. He was more of an introspective type. A great talent. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

IMOP, the Monkey, and Me.


So have you all made a point to see In Memory of Pluto, yet? I finally did, and all I can say is, wow.

I've been hearing about In Memory of Pluto's live show for a while. And from just about everyone. Yet for some reason, I always miss it. We even had them play at our What's Good Bands of Burlington Showcase, but I had a wedding the next day and went home early. Then a few weeks after that, I went as far as to recommend their show as my staff pick in our Notes on the Weekend e-newsletter. But if any of you were in attendance that night at Wasted City, you would have noted that I was not.

Things got to the point where I literally wrote 'See IMOP perform live" on my list of things to do. (Yes. I do keep a list of things to do.) But some force was keeping me from getting off my lazy ass to cross off that one item.

That is, until this past Saturday when I stumbled upon the live show completely on accident.

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I took a quick trip to Maine this weekend. Before I left, my roommate Erin asked if I could to be back in time to see Husbands AKA play at the Monkey. I promised I would try. After all, Husbands AKA is our favorite area band, the boys of Husbands AKA are some of our favorite area people, and Chris Vaylou of Husbands AKA is our favorite person to trick into doing bad whiskey shots.

So we went. And it wasn't until I was there and checking in with Tyson that I bothered to ask, "So who's playing before you?" When Tyson told me who it was, my jaw dropped. "OH MY GOD I'VE BEEN MEANING TO SEE THEM LIVE!"

"Uh, yeah. They're pretty good," he responded, obviously (and rightfully) taken aback by my outburst.

The point of this ridiculously long story is that I FINALLY SAW IN MEMORY OF PLUTO PLAY LIVE. And guess what? It was awesome. Erin and I can be pretty apathetic show-goers when we don't know the band playing. But even we could not help bouncing in our barstools. The crowd at the Monkey was small that night — perhaps something to do with it being Game 6 of the ALCS — but those there were dancing, singing along, and at one point even gesturing to the heavens above. In the middle of the set I turned to Erin and told her I couldn't wait to buy the CD. And just to drive that point home, I have not bought a CD in over three years. Except for Husbands. Because I lurve them.

I realize that this is not a show review. That I have not commented on the band's actual sound, or stage presence. Frankly I was too busy enjoying myself to take notes. But really all I mean for this to be is a testimonial. To convince you to check out the next local In Memory of Pluto show. Which happens to be November 17 at Metronome.

Maybe I'll even see you there.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Poehler vs. Palin


Happy Monday, Solid State! I hope you all had a great weekend. Mine included a quick trip to Maine to visit my very preg-o sister and I think I have a new favorite Maine restaurant. If you're ever in the Old Port, go to Duck Fat, and try the Thai Chicken panini. Mmmm. Love.

Also this past weekend was the much anticipated appearance of VP Candidate Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live. And not Tina Fey's Sarah Palin, but the true, rifle-bearing pageant queen herself. I missed the actual show, but watched the videos online with a nervous anticipation that I'm sure most Obama-supporters felt. I mean, what if she totally nailed it?

Luckily, Amy Poehler was the one who nailed it. Even in her 9 1/2 months pregnant state, she completely stole the show from Palin when she stood up during Weekend Update to do an Alaskan-style rap. And so, without further ado, I bring you Poehler filling in for Palin. Enjoy.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Daryl Rabidoux Suffers Stroke

I've just received word that Monday evening, Daryl Rabidoux suffered a stroke and is once again hospitalized in Providence. Rabidoux had been recovering from recent open-heart surgery, which reportedly stemmed from complications with his recovery from numerous injuries related to a major car accident that hospitalized him in June.

Details are still vague, but according to Carrigan's Zack Martin, who also now resides in Providence, Rabidoux is recovering from the stroke well and has already regained some mobility and speech. Doctors are said to be amazed at his early progress, especially given the stroke's severity, which is rumored to be significant. Martin says he could be released from the hospital as early as this week.

A benefit show is planned for Rabidoux at 242 Main this Friday. But its original intent was to help defray costs from his open heart surgery. Perhaps folks will dig a little deeper on the news of his latest malady.

I'll continue to post updates as I get them. In the meantime, here's wishing Daryl a speedy and full recovery. Maybe the third time's the charm?

Get well soon, man.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Fun With Press Releases!

As the "music dude" for the state's preeminent arts rag, I receive a lot of press releases. Like, a lot. For example, on a typical day, I'll usually have about 40 e-mails sitting in my inbox when I arrive in the morning. A full two-thirds are press releases. Of those, maybe half actually pertain to music Seven Days would cover. The ratio is similar over the course of a workday, in which I'll sift through about 100 more missives of varying relevance.

I do read just about everything that crosses my desk. Though I'll admit to quickly trashing some of the more obviously unrelated blurbs. However, every now and then, I stumble across releases that tickle my funny bone. Anyway, here is the latest batch of nominees for worst — or maybe best — PR writing of 2008. And yes, these are from real press releases.

In the category for Best Unintentionally Funny Use Of Quotation Marks: Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson

Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson Create One of the Best "Crisply Charming" Releases of the Year


The current frontrunner for Failure To Check In Which Language The Paper You Are Contacting Is Written: The Classic Rock Experience

Partez en voyage dans le temps pour revivre la magie des années 70 et 80 ou expérimentez-la pour la première fois. The Classic Rock Experience rejoint les générations, comme la musique qui traverse le temps. Vous n’avez plus à regretter d’avoir manqué ces concerts… vous pouvez maintenant y assister. C’est le spectacle ultime pour le fan de rock classique !


Here we have a double nominee for Best Use Of Unnecessary Capitalization/Exclamation and also Best Writing By An Obviously High Intern (Reggae Version): Sharon Jones-Ticklah Remix "How Long Do I Have to Wait for You" (Reggae Version)

This reggae version of a Dap-Kings' favorite is really TERRIFIC! Reggae mastermind TICKLAH (AKA Victor Axelrod, AKA Earl Maxton) has re-cast Sharon's vocals to the beat of his own drum, and it feels So Right!
     He's taken the original raw tracks from the Dap-Kings' "Naturally" sessions down to his basement laboratory and put some of his Classic-Reggae-Evil-Genius shit all over it. Oh, he played it all on this one: drums, bass, echo-plex. He's got his hooks hitched, his pockets stitched, his mind switched, and this mix is fixed! It's RAW. It's HEAVY. It's RIGHT NOW. So spark that doobie and put your red, black, and green beanie on your turntable, cause this record is going On Your Head!


And finally, the nominee for Innovation In The Field - Misleading Use Of MySpace: Bleeding Through, for their new album Declaration

And best of all, the fans are responding very positively. Here is a small sampling of some of the comments on the band's MySpace page:
"'Death Anxiety! I'm murdering this song! I've played it to death! LOL"
"New album is punishing. I love it! And as always, it's lyrically amazing."
"It's good to see musicians finding their own style... Blackmetalcore!"
"Can't take it out of my CD player!"
"I thought you were gonna go down the more melodic route but I bought it anyway and I was blown away!"
"I can't stop laughing from how amazing this album sounds"
"Sister Charlatan and Death Anxiety. Wow."
"Declaration is by far the top metal CD in the world!!!!!"


Best of luck to all of this year's nominees. Keep up THE "good" WORK!

Friday, October 10, 2008

In Memory of Bryan

Hey there, Solid State.

It's Friday, and I hate to end the week on a down note. But Saturday at 12 p.m. Magic Hat Brewing Co. will be holding a memorial/dedication ceremony at the brewery for my friend Bryan Kapschull, who passed away on August, 17. The "service" will be a very low key affair. Anyone and everyone who is so inclined is encouraged to share stories and memories about Bryan. If I can keep it together, I think I might. And in typical MH fashion, it will be followed by copious amounts of beer-drinking and wing-eating because, well, that's pretty much how Bryan would have wanted it.

So spread the word and come on down. Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Phood For Thought, Blog Style

So, yeah . . . Phish. Gettin' the band back together, bro. Nice.

It's no secret that Solid State is hardly a bastion of Phab Four phanaticism. However, echoing Bridget's earlier statements, congrats Phish-heads. Anything that puts a smile on the faces of this many people is alright by me. Of course, wild horses couldn't drag me anywhere near Hampton, VA in March. But to paraphrase Barack Obama, this ain't about me. It's about you. And you, if you're still reading, probably like Phish. But how do you feel about tribute bands, I wonder?

In this week's music section, there is a short feature on a South Carolina-based Phish tribute band called The Strange Design, who will be playing at Nectar's on October 21, which — coincidentally, I'm sure — just so happens to be the night after Trey Anastasio's sold out solo show at Higher Ground. How's that for shrewd booking?

Essesntially, the band is Dark Star Orchestra for Phish fans. They recreate Phish shows — specifically, early club shows — in their entirety. However, these are not note-for-note regurgitations. Rather, the shows are an attempt to pay homage, with an eye towards blending authenticity and the spirit of improvisation. At least that's what I'm told. I haven't seen them live, so who knows?

Anyway, part of The Strange Design's gig is that they solicit requests from fans in every town they play. You name the show you want to hear, make a good pitch and they oblige. Nifty, eh?

So let's hear it, Phish-heads. Whaddya wanna hear? The floor is yours . . .

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Phish for Thought


So I'm sure you've heard the big news by now. I was first alerted through a Facebook status update, quickly followed by hush-hush water cooler talk at the office. As if not letting too many people hear might improve chances with the ticket lottery.

I am of course referring to the announcement that Phish (in its entirety) will be playing three shows in Hampton, VA.

It's no secret that Dan and I are not big Phish fans. And our hating has definitely earned us some haters. Which is why I would like to, on the record, congratulate all you Phish fans on the big news. And wish you well on what is sure to be one shit show of a road trip. I am genuinely happy for all my friends who have another chance to see this band live.

All that said, I'd like to post Trey's message from May 25, 2004:


Friday night, I got together with Mike, Page and Fish to talk openly about the strong feelings I've been having that Phish has run its course and that we should end it now while it's still on a high note. Once we started talking, it quickly became apparent that the other guys' feelings, while not all the same as mine, were similar in many ways -- most importantly, that we all love and respect Phish and the Phish audience far too much to stand by and allow it to drag on beyond the point of vibrancy and health. We don't want to become caricatures of ourselves, or worse yet, a nostalgia act. By the end of the meeting, we realized that after almost twenty-one years together we were faced with the opportunity to graciously step away in unison, as a group, united in our friendship and our feelings of gratitude.

So Coventry will be the final Phish show. We are proud and thrilled that it will be in our home state of Vermont. We're also excited for the June and August shows, our last tour together. For the sake of clarity, I should say that this is not like the hiatus, which was our last attempt to revitalize ourselves. We're done. It's been an amazing and incredible journey. We thank you all for the love and support that you've shown us.

-- Trey Anastasio

I am not going to bother analyzing what the band said back then. A lot changes in three years. My own thoughts on my future have taken a 180 since 2004, so I'm certainly not going to judge anyone else on their own change of heart. I just found the message amusing in retrospect and figured I would share.

Now go enter that lottery, you damn hippies. Hampton awaits.




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