Monday, December 31, 2007

Billick Era Over

You may have noticed that I stopped blogging about my Ravens, when their 9 game losing streak was in full force. It was quite depressing to see a team go from 13-3 last year, to 5-11 this year. Since I refuse to be a bandwagon fan, I still watched every game. Having to "take it like a man" just like the DirecTV commercial guy, says.

To make matters worse, this is the first time in 8 seasons that I was unable to get back to Baltimore to see at least 1 game. Strangely enough, fate intervened when I was supposed to see them play the Rams, which ended up being the last win before the losing streak.

Anyway, Steve Biscotti pulled the trigger and fired Brian Billick and all of his assistants, with the exception of Rex Ryan. I have mixed feelings about this, since Billick had a winning record, a Super Bowl, two Wildcards and two Division titles. But, our offense has never been more than putrid since his arrival. Rumor has it that he had lost the team.

Now the speculation begins ... Rex Ryan? Cowher? Marty Schottenheimer? Marv Levy?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

RIP: Oscar Peterson

Being on Christmas vacation with my family, it took me a few days to get near a computer to post. Another Jazz great, Oscar Peterson, passed away on 12/23.

I'm still kicking myself. Although given ample opportunity to try and catch Oscar, I never saw him live. I have seen multiple videos, he was truly a frightening player. I wonder if there is really is anyone else who will be able to carry the torch of Art Tatum, like Oscar did.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

MPTU at the Saxon Pub

I trekked over to the Saxon Pub last night (actually this morning) for a midnight show of the latest Austin supergroup, MPTU. The lineup is Pat Mastelotto (from King Crimson, XTC, Mr. Mister), Malford Milligan (Storyville), Phil Brown (Little Feat), Mark Andes (Canned Heat, Heart and others). I joined a small crowd of approximately 25 people, to listen to the 75 minute show.

They opened the set with instrumentals, a rendition of Jeff Beck's Pump. Phil is mainly a Strat player and is obviously into Beck, Clapton, and Allan Holdsworth, and is also a great singer. I'm going to have to go back and see if he's on any of the Little Feat albums that I own. He was surprised that I recognized his quoting of Holdsworth's song, Fred, when I spoke to him after the show.

Malford's singing as always, was amazing. He did manage to fit some Storyville songs like Bitter Rain, into the set. For the remainder, I have to admit that I didn't recognize too many of their songs, yet. So I guess I will have to buy the MPTU CD when it's released, but I believe they played everything up on the myspace page. They sounded great, and delivered the goods despite the crowd size.

P@ surprised me with his versatility. I have seen him with KC, ProjeKct 3, Terry Bozzio and KTu. All progressive or "art" rock type of setups. In MPTU, it's straight forward rock, blues and soul. As always, his drumming is powerful, but tasteful.

One thing is for sure, I will try and catch them again, next Tuesday, and at Momo's and/or Antones this month. I'm hoping that perhaps I will be allowed to take a Picture or two, at a future show.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Wow, this jogged my memory

I followed a link over at the DGM site to Trey Gunn's site and stumbled across this entry about the formation of KTU:

Seeds for KTU took root at SXSW in Austin Texas in March 1999 when Kimmo Pohjonen shared a billing with Mastelotto/Gunn/Fripp's Project Three at the Electric Lounge.

I then had my holy-crap moment, since I was there. I clearly remembered seeing ProjeKct 3, but had forgotten about the opener, Kimmo, until just now. Everyone in the crowd was raving about him. I guess he made an impression on Trey and Pat too! (or is that tu?)

To complete the circle, I was able to catch KTu last year at SxSW.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Fripp announced ...

that Gavin Harrison (presently the drummer of Porcupine Tree) will be the newest member of King Crimson. I can't wait to see this show.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Tool at the Frank Erwin Center

I saw Tool live for the first time live, last night. Rumor has it, that this tour may be their swan song.

In general, I have a great distaste for large Arena shows ever since seeing the Police at Shea Stadium in 1984, and this concert did nothing to change that outlook. My seats were up on the upper level, stage left, pretty much even with the front of the stage. As a result, the sound was so-so, but not particularly loud. It also allowed me to see the stage floor, which was a white surface and used throughout the show as a projection screen. This was used throughout for displaying arcane Sacred Geometry figures.

The light and video portion of the show was pretty awesome, although my view of the screens behind the stage was somewhat hindered. The band is tight, and Maynard seemed to be on. However, after the Zappa Plays Zappa show the night before, this show was a bit of a let-down. The 2 hour duration almost seemed like a rip-off, after Dweezil's 3 1/2 hour marathon.

One of the strangest things about this show was that they brought out Terry Bozzio to jam with the band on a song. He played percussion, a couple of Timbales, a Dumbec and a Cymbal. I guess I was surprised, because I had thoroughly scanned the house the night before at the Zappa Plays Zappa show, and did not spot Terry anywhere. Perhaps he was back stage at the Hogg, I had assumed that he wasn't in town.

Tool play a mix of material from their 5 albums. I specifically remember Schism, 46 and 2, and Prison Sex. I was disappointed that they didn't do Aenema. Good show, but not great.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Zappa Plays Zappa - Part Deaux at the UT Hogg Auditorium

For the second time in less than a year, I saw the Zappa Plays Zappa show at the UT Hogg Auditorium. This time, the special guest was Ray White.

There were several surprising things about this show:

  • At various times, including the opening number, the Mystery Man, the band accompanied a video clip of Frank. They also accompanied his vocals on Dumb All Over, and one other song that I can not remember now.
  • The set lasted approximately 3 1/2 hours again, but there was no intermission this time around. Dweezil did not leave the stage at all.
  • There was virtually no overlap in the set list, with the show I saw last year. This time around there was new material from Zappa in New York, You Are What You Is, and Joe's Garage.
  • There was a song improvised from phrases submitted by the audience. This worked very well.
  • Terry Bozzio was surprisingly not visible. (Perhaps he was backstage?)

I can't say much else other than Ray White is fucking amazing, and this show is one of the best things going right now. I'm still kicking myself for not noticing the DVDs from the 2006 ZplaysZ show on the Merch table. Hopefully, I can snag one via another method.

The biggest chuckle I had this night was a young couple. The woman was wearing a Titties and Beer T-shirt and her SO had one that said Pussy and Coffee. Unfortunately, Dweezil resisted the urge to play Frank's most requested song immortalized on her shirt.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Porcupine Tree at the Meridian in Houston, TX

Two nights ago, I was able to see Porcupine Tree perform for the second time on the Fear of A Blank Planet tour. With all the turmoil from the move, I contemplated not going to this show, but then decided otherwise. So, I made the 3 hour drive, with my friend Biggie, following some other friends Alissa and Ron from AMF.

As before, the opening band was 3 from Woodstock, NY. Three has progressed quite a big, and sounded much tighter than the last time I saw them. In addition, I was able to talk the Joey and Joe from the band and do some reminiscing about my days in the MHV playing Woodstock.

I estimate PT played about 2 hours this time around, with a set list very similar to what I heard in Boulder back in May. The sound was good, but not as good as the Fox Theater. Sight lines however, were excellent since I was able to spend the first half of the show about 4 rows from the stage.

Afterwards, it was interesting to see that Steven Wilson was outside signing posters, and taking pictures with a group of about 30 fans. Other interesting tidbits were a verification (I won't say how I found out) that Gavin Harrison is the fifth member of the new King Crimson lineup. All in all, a great show.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Well, this floored me

With all the hassles of moving, I have been more than a little frazzled. Reading this entry by Adrian Belew really put things back into perspective.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Happy Bday?

Well I celebrated the week leading up to my birthday, finding out that I may have to move unexpectedly. It seems my Apt was actually a Condo, and it is alleged to have been foreclosed. So rather than going back to MD, I ended up starting to preemptively pack. ;(

Fortunately, the Ravens helped me today by winning. The offense was effective but not impressive, the defense was punishing. Samari Rolle was finally back! One more week until our bye, and then Trevor Pryce is hopefully back. Watch out NFL, you haven't seen the full strength Raven's defense.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush at Antones

Well I had made a mental note to try and catch Umphrey's McGhee at Stubbs, but didn't realize it conflicted with the Frank Marino show. Frank won because I already had the tickets.

I estimate that Antones was filled to 80% of the capacity last night, and started thinning out about 2 hours into the show. The average age of the crowd was about 44 years old. Nothing unexpected here.

Frank's band consisted of a rhythm guitarist (who played a Strat and also played Electric Violin), bassist and drummer. The show lasted a little over 3 hours, but I can honestly say that I would have been happy if he had stopped at the 2 hour mark.

There was nothing wrong with Frank's playing, he's very accomplished. He's an encyclopedia of 70's and 80's rock guitar technique. Basically, extended guitar soloing, over grooves. Honestly though, I found him repetitive after a while. Robert Fripp deliberately moves his students to NST, to avoid pattern playing (among other reasons), Marino's playing reminded me why this is.

For most of the night, he played a Gibson SG and I estimate he sang on only 4 songs. He needed to sing more. He performs a lot of covers, of which I specifically remember Voodoo Child and Red House. He also did a somewhat interesting version of Amazing Grace (making the guitar actually sound like Bagpipes in spots). Surprisingly, he did not play Strange Dreams, which might have been interesting without a keyboard player.

All in all, a good show, but not great.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Interesting KC news

Well I'm still stinging from the Raven's loss to the Poop Stains yesterday, but Monday is a new day and I was excited to hear about line-up 8, of King Crimson. I followed a link from the DGMLive Site, where Pat Mastellotto has given away the fact that this line-up will be a 5 piece.

The quote: We will be a 5 piece and i think you know 4 of us. In fact I'm sure you know the 5th man too (an incredible drummer that i will be delighted to work with). I think you'll have to tune in to Robert's diary over at the DGM site and await the official announcement.

My first guess and hope is Terry Bozzio, based upon the comment about the tour being restricted to the US. However, these other possibilities come to mind:

  • Danny Carey - particularly if I were betting on this
  • Jerry Marotta
  • Eric Slick
  • Bruford? - maybe the hatchet has been buried again

I was tempted to add Gavin Harrison, but I think he has way too much going on with Porcupine Tree and 05Ric. It also occurred to me that this might be a trick, where the 5th member is not the drummer, Belew is the drummer, and it's someone like David Cross or David Sylvian.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Alien Time Ensemble

I ventured out last night to see an Austin Music Foundation (AMF) friend, David DeMaris, play with Alien Time Ensemble. The gig was at the Salvage Vanguard Theater off of Manor Rd. I unfortunately caught only the last 4 songs of the show, primarily because of my late start, and inability to find the place.

None the less, it was enjoyable despite not being able to listen to the whole set, and missing Carlos Villareal/One Umbrella, the opening act. It was nice change of pace from the Elephant Room crowd, with a heavy dose of post-bop improvisation. A little reminescient of the 2nd Coltrane Quartet (when Alice Coltrane was playing piano). It was somewhat interesting as well, since the Acoustic Bass was all done on keyboard.

Will have to go see more acts like this and I am encouraged that I discovered a new venue/scene that focuses on genres other than Texas Blues or Americana. I think the time is ripe for trying to jumpstart a Knitting Factory scene here in Austin.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Fripp Skipping TX again ;(

Hoping to be an audient, once again, I was somewhat happy to see that the League of Crafty Guitarists had announced a tour of the US. Once the realization set in that there would be no TX dates, I was disappointed. Given the turn out for the CGT (with Austin supposedly being one of their favorite places) and with PM living here, you would figure that Austin would be a no-brainer.

Damn, I was anxious to see LCG again, since close to 20 years have passed since I last saw them at the Chance, in Poughkeepsie. Over 10 years have passed since the ProjeKct 3 shows here in Austin, making me regret not trying to fly and catch KC, on their last 2 tours. It's been quite a while since I've been able to catch Fripp live.

Let's hope that more US dates are announced for early next year.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Ravens vs. the Cards

Well, we had another ugly win today, blowing a 23-6 lead, but winning with a walk-off Stover Field Goal. I found myself asking during the 4th quarter, Who is this team on the field and what did they do with the Ravens' defense? The drop-off in our pass rush, with Trevor Pryce out, is big ;( Worse, with Samari Rolle out, our mutated 46 defense is not all that effective. Having our Nickle or Dime back cover a #2 receiver is dangerous.

That said, Kyle Boller, in relief of McNair, saved the day, with a good drive to put us in FG position. In the last 3 games, he is starting to look like a legit NFL starter. I'm actually happy for him, since he has been generally vilified in the past.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Henry Rollins: Provoked - Spoken Word Show at La Zona Rosa

Last night I went with a friend to see famed musician, Henry Rollins, do his one man, spoken word show at La Zona Rosa, Provoked. I had seen Henry perform live on TV, caught a few of his shows on the Independent Film Channel, and watched a Punk Rock documentary, that he had hosted. I can't really say I was a big fan of his music, but he always left me with the impression that he was an articulate and a deep thinker. His viewpoints were often anti-authoritarian and contrarian.

We arrived around 7:15 or so and there was already a respectable crowd of approximately 200 people. It was surprising to see a merch-table with multiple books for sale, rather than just the normal fare of T-shirts and CDs. I picked up one of his books and realized that we were exactly the same age, both from the Baltimore/Washington area, and listened to a lot of the same music in the late 70's (such as Devo). My expectations for the night had been elevated.

Henry walked out promptly near the advertised 8PM start time, and launched into his monologue which lasted close to 3 hours. He spent the first few of minutes talking to the crowd like his friends, and about his great love of Austin with its unique quirkiness and the number of kindred spirits. This praise seemed very genuine, and he claimed that he didn't hand this type praise out very often or lightly.

He covered a lot of politics and the action in Iraq, his invitation to fill-in as leader singer for a reunion of the Ruts in London, his USO tours, and travels in the Middle East to Iran, Syria, and Lebanon (He seems to target places he's not supposed to go to). In all the 3 hours went by way too fast, and nobody left early. He is very engaging, sometimes self deprecating, and extremely humorous.

Great show. I will gladly go see him perform Music or Spoken Word again, when the opportunity presents itself. Will also have to look and see if his IFC show is available on DVD, from Netflix.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Ravens vs. Jets

My Ravens beat the Jets in their home opener, yesterday, but it looks as though there's much to worry about. Two more injuries, Trevor Pryce and Demetrius Williams. Ouch!

In addition, the Defense gave up 177 yards passing in the fourth quarter and almost blew the game. Our ability to hold on to a victory was in doubt, up until the last minute. On the plus side, the much derided, Kyle Boller had a respectable outing and Figurs looked good returning kicks.

ACL for the 3rd and Final Time

I decided today to catch the Ravens game in its entirety, before trekking down to Zilker Park today. As a result, I was only able to catch 2 acts since I arrived at 6PM, and unable to catch a third.

As I entered the grounds, Austin native, Guy Forsyth was playing the BMI stage near the front gate. He was already halfway through his set. He always sounds good, and did last night, as well. I have heard him enough locally, that I decided to attempt to get near Ziggy Marley's show.

After seeing the crowd about 100 rows deep outside of the WaMu pavilion, I gave up. So, rather than fret, I went to go find a decent position for Bob Dylan. Not having a chair, I managed to get about 150-200 ft from the stage. I could have gotten closer, but I don't enjoy standing shoulder to shoulder.

Dylan played for over 90 minutes. He started the set with Rainy Day Woman #12 and 35 (aka. Everybody Must Get Stoned). Other recognizable songs for me were Tangled Up In Blue, and Like A Rolling Stone. His voice was even more gravelly than even I remember, and he spent the bulk of the set playing an Organ. His band was absolutely phenomenal, and I would have liked to have found out who was in it. I unfortunately opted to start heading out of the park 9:50, and heard the last 2 songs headed towards the shuttles back to republic square.

All in all, ACL was good this year. Other than the heat, the weather mostly cooperated.

The Front Gate

The ATT Stage 2 Hours Before Bob

Bob Dylan Closing ACL 2007

It's pretty difficult to get a good shot at night, I see

Saturday, September 15, 2007

ACL Day 2

I stayed for a much shorter time today, because the heat was stifling. I saw the following acts today:

  • Sylvia St. James
  • Dax Riggs
  • Back Door Slam
  • Railroad Earth
  • Stephen Marley
  • BeauSoliel
  • and a smidgen of Artic Monkeys

The highlights of the day were Back Door Slam, Railroad Earth and Stephen Marley. The only thumbs down went to Dax Riggs. (I'm mystified how he was booked for the festival to be bluntly honest).

Stephen Marley sounds eerily like his father, Bob. He did a full hour of Reggae with his own music, as well as three of his father's songs, Buffalo Soldier, No Woman No Cry, and Could You Be Loved. The band was tight, and the very large crowd was into it.

I don't hate Bluegrass, but I don't listen to a lot of it either. If all Bluegrass Bands sounded like Railroad, I would listen to a lot more. There was some shredding going on with between the mandolin, banjo, and violin players. They were trading 8's like it was going out of style.

Back Door Slam was an English Blues Rock Trio, reminiscent of Cream. The leader of the band, sings like Jack Bruce and plays like Clapton. I'd go see them in a heartbeat again, too!

Railroad Earth

Stephen Marley's Band

Friday, September 14, 2007

ACL Day 1

Well I just returned from my first grueling day at the Austin City Limits Festival. I'm covered with sweat, tired and have blisters on my feet. I saw the following bands:

  • One Mississippi
  • The Greyhounds
  • Asleep at the Wheel with Austin Celebrity, Ray Benson
  • Jesse Malin
  • Heartless Bastards
  • Bela Fleck and the Flecktones
  • Blonde Redhead
  • Big Sam's Funky Nation
  • Joss Stone
  • Spoon
  • Andy Palacio and the Garfina Collective
  • Queens of the Stone Age
  • Gotan Project
  • The Killers

For me the highlights of the day were Bela Fleck, Gotan, Big Sam's, and Andy Palacio. Bela and company are still amazing, with Future Man appearing to have some new tricks. At times during their set, he now plays a traditional drum kit with his right arm and foot, while keeping his left hand on the Drumitar. All I can say is wow!

Gotan was another surprise. They're a unique fusion of Tango, Nu Jazz, and Electronica. They drew a big crowd and with good reason. The other two bands were Funk/Gospel groups that just kicked ass, and took no prisoners. Everyone was bopping along.

I enjoyed the rest of the day. Although I would be hard pressed to say what I liked about Hearrtless Bastard and One Mississippi. The Killers were good, but had a larger buzz than I thought they deserved. I'm not sure what the fuss is all about.

I had wanted to see Bjork, but found myself too tired to last it out for the end of the night show. I know now that I will be exhausted when ACL ends in two nights.

The Calm Before the Storm

Asleep at the Wheel

Bela Fleck and the Flecktones setting up

T-minus 5 hours

I have my wristband, and ACL starts in approximately 5 hours. Will hopefully be able to report on things daily. My main objective today is to catch Bela Fleck.

More to follow ...

MNF Follow Up

The NFL acknowledged that the ref made a bad call in Monday's game. To add to the week1 strangeness, the Patriots were busted this week trying to intercept the Jets' defensive signals and were fined heavily by the league and docked a draft pick.

In both cases however, the L stays put for both the Ravens and the Jets. Gee, thanks NFL, I know fans in Baltimore and NY are much happier now!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

RIP: Joe Zawinul

Another of my Jazz heros passed away on this past Tuesday (9/11), Joe Zawinul. Once again, the hustle and bustle of normal life resulted in my missing the news, two days ago. Thanks to the Sonic Talk Podcast for mentioning this.

Fortunately, I was able to see the Zawinul Syndicate once. I would have loved to have seen him with Weather Report and Cannonball Adderley, however! I'll have to listen to Birdland and Mercy, Mercy, Mercy sometime this weekend.

NPR did a wonderful job looking at his life and art.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Ravens vs. the Bengals on MNF

Well my Ravens opened their season with a Prime Time game this past Monday, against the Bengals. In keeping with their recent tradition of playing shitty on MNF and in the rain, they managed to turn the ball over 6 times and amass a ton of injuries. B.J. Sams our ProBowl caliber kick returner, has had a season ending injury at Paul Brown stadium for the last 2 years. (Talk about Bad Kharma!) Unfortunately, the special teams drop-off will hurt us.

Despite all of this, our D played fantastically in the 2nd half, and the Ravens took the lead in the 4th quarter, only to blow it on a stupid interception. Then, they almost tied the game with less than 90 seconds with a TD Pass from Kyle Boller to Todd Heap. Unfortunately, in what will go down as the worst fucking call I have ever seen in an NFL game, Heap was called for Offensive PI. The referee responsible needs to go back to officiating Pop Warner games. Of course, Billick sealed the deal, snatching defeat from the jaws of a tie, with some very questionable play calling.

For now, I'm telling myself it's only the first game of the season. The Jets are next, and are one of the few teams in the NFL worse off than the Ravens, injury wise. (Actually, both NY teams are in trouble already).

On the positive side, Willis McGahee looks like an upgrade from Jamal. And, the Austin City Limits Festival is less than 2 days away now!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

30 years ago or Damn, I feel old

I certainly felt old when I saw this story today. I was a sophomore in high school when the Pistols launched their infamous tour of North America. In those days, your choices were Punk or Disco. My friends and I (almost of all of whom were musicians) chose Punk.

Since the Pistols came and burnt out quickly, a lot of my attention was focused on the likes of the Clash, the Ramones, Elvis Costello and Devo. I am proud to say, that my 4 nephews ages 6-12 all enjoy Blitzkrieg Bop as much as I did back in the day. Of course, hearing Devo's Freedom of Choice in a Miller Beer commercial sealed the deal.

It's amazing to think how mainstream Punk became. As they say in Texas, Gabba-gabba-hey, Y'all!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

RIP: Max Roach

I guess in the process of going to all the recent shows and events, I missed the news of Max Roach's death on 8/16. He was one of the greats of the Bebop era, and arguably brings it to a close following Dizzy, Miles, Bird, and Bud into the great beyond.

RIP Max, you will be missed.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Deep Purple at the Majestic, in San Antonio

After noting this date well over 6 weeks ago, I had resigned myself to not going, because several of my friends were on vacation. I have been a fan of both Deep Purple and Steve Morse for over 30 years and have seen both live, but I have never seen them together. Somehow, fate intervened Wednesday and I was offered a ticket that some other friends (who were already going) had won in a radio, call-in contest.

My seat was great last night, unlike the last time I attended a show there and sat in the balcony. The sight lines were great since I was only 20 rows back from the stage, and the sound is very good down there also. I was about 3 chairs to the right of the line from the house soundboard to center stage.

I estimate Deep Purple played somewhere between 90 - 120 minutes. Since they were not promoting a new album (see their website as to why), they stuck to playing their hits. The night included a lot of material from Machine Head (Smoke on the Water, Lazy, Highway Star), along with Hush, and Woman from Tokyo.

The core of the band, Roger Glover and the Ians (Gillian and Paice) are still on top of their game, and can deliver the goods. The crowd and the band fed off of each other, and everyone in the house seemed to enjoy the show. Steve Morse seems to never age, and still plays in his blazing, rock-solid style. The only disappointment I had was that Jon Lord had retired due to health reasons, but Don Airey did an excellent as his permanent replacement.

A great show all around.

Monday, August 20, 2007

More Orioles

Every year for as long as it's been offered, I have subscribed to MLBTV.

Unfortunately, it's the same story over and over again.... I've usually given up on them by the All-Star Break (because they make me).

Where is Davey Johnson when you need him?

RIP: 'Wild Bill' Hagy

I spent a significant portion of the my summers during high school and home from college ('76 to '83) at Memorial Stadium, going to Orioles games. Actually, I was a Jr Oriole starting in 1968 but was obviously not able to drive myself to Memorial Stadium until years later. The O's were a force to be reckoned from 1966 until 1985, with a small resurgence in 1996 and 1997. They were one of the elite teams, and notorious Yankee killers.

On many a summer evening, my friend Porkface (aka. Fran) and I would go purchase $3.00 GA tickets, fill a Coleman Jug with the contents of a case of Busch Beer, and drag our little brothers, and/or his cousin "Sweaty" Freddy to the stadium. There was only one place to sit, Section 34!

For years, a drunken fan named 'the Big Wheel' had been spelling out C-O-L-T-S with his body, during football games at the stadium. Somewhere in the late 70's this bled over into the Baseball games, when a cab driver named 'Wild Bill' Hagy started doing the same thing by spelling out O-R-I-O-L-E-S. Wild Bill was the King of Section 34 and led us all with his battle cries. He would usually make a good show of winding up for a cheer with exaggerated arm movements, waving his Cowboy Hat, demanding that we get our asses off the seats, and followed by a quick call of Let's hear it for the Ball-team, before launching into his dance. He was usually egged on by the other denizens of the Section.

By 1979, it had become the "in-thing" to go to an "O's" game. For about a decade, it seemed that baseball had unthinkably reached an equal footing with football, in Baltimore. To this day, a Baltimore crowd can not listen to the National Anthem w/o embellishing the "O" ala Wild Bill.

Those were the days. The Skankees, Red Sox, Brewers, Indians, Tigers, and Blue Jays were all in our division. (There were only 2 divisions per league back then and Milwaukee was still in the AL!) Names like Earl Weaver, Jim Palmer, Scott McGregor, Steve Stone, Sammy Stewart, Rick Dempsey, Elrod, Disco Dan Ford, Brother Low-low, Rhino, DeCinces, Ed=E Murray, Marc Belanger, Cal Ripken, Benny Ayala, Rich Dauer, Tippy, Dennis Martinez, come to mind. Rex Barney on the PA, play by play with Chuck Thompson, and the recap the next morning with Charlie Eckman.

Unfortunately, there has not been much to cheer about since Game 5 of the 1983 World Series. And of course, OPACY (Oriole Park at Camden Yards) never had the right feel for me. 'Wild Bill' was one of the common, blue-collar people of Bawldy-more. He seemed like he had stepped out of one of Barry Levinson's or John Waters' movies. He (and I) belonged in Memorial Stadium. If only something would convince Angelos to sell the team now, maybe the Orioles could climb out of the grave they fell into.

RIP: Wild Bill. I'm going to see if I can find a 6 Pack of Natty Boh tonight, and drink in your honor.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Ravens vs. Giants - Primetime Preseason

I was somewhat pleased because I didn't have to make special arrangements to watch the Ravens tonight. They were the Primetime game. Most likely because there's a Manning involved.

I was going to comment more on this, but it looks like both the Offense and Defense went a little backward this week. We came out on the short end, 13-12. Troy Smith looked good, Boller looks like he's done. I'm slightly worried about McNair. He doesn't do too well in the rain or the snow.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Countdown Continues

Some great music happening this fall. I have tickets to:

  • All 3 days of ACL - Bob Dylan
  • 2nd leg of the Porcupine Tree tour
  • Zappa plays Zappa - this time with Ray White as Special Guest.

My mood: Psyched with anticipation.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Ravens open their preseason vs. the Iggles

Watched the Ravens first preseason game against Filthadelphia. The Ravens controlled all aspects of the game throughout. McNair and Drew Olsen looked great. (Olsen probably won't make the team). The season is less than a month away, can't wait. I expect big things and a number 1 defense again.

The only downer so far, they have away games during Thanksgiving and Christmas. Most likely, I will only get to see one game at M&T Bank Stadium this year, against the Rams, in October.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Rush at the Verizon Amphitheater, in San Antonio, TX

Over 15 years have passed since I last saw Rush on tour to support Roll the Bones. I had seen them multiple times in the late 70's and early 80's, with an outstanding show at Radio City Music Hall during the Signals tour, being the most memorable.

I will admit to losing interest in the band, because of the direction they had taken during the 90's. Until two days ago, I was also unaware of the tragedy that had befallen Neil Peart and thought they had just gone inactive. I was somewhat surprised when I watched and heard Far Cry on Youtube 6 months ago, and really liked this return to their old sound.

While I will admit to being a fan of the band, I was never a fan-boy. I've noticed in the past that fan-boyism seems to be rampant amongst Rush (and Dream Theater) fans, and have always been curious (and somewhat annoyed) about this phenomenon. At the conclusion of this show, I discovered that nothing has changed in this respect (and I still don't understand it).

The show was listed as starting at 7:30PM, and probably started no later than 7:45. With one 20 minute intermission at the 2 hour mark, the show went all the way up to 10:52PM. The sight-lines were good once again, since my seats were about 30 rows back from the stage, dead center. Despite the great view, the heat and humidity made things uncomfortable.

The biggest downer for the show, was the sound. It sucked. The floor is a sloped, concrete slab. Ear plugs were an absolutely necessity. A real downer for me after the One World show two nights prior! I really despise large arena shows, and this did nothing to change my opinion.

Countering this, one of the cool features of the show were 3 large screens at the rear of the stage. There were live cameras in front, at the side and above the stage, that were used to focus in on the individual band members, and supply a "bird's eye" views of Neil. They also used the screens for CGI artwork and had two funny segues to introduce songs:

  • The first involved the MacKenzie Brothers from the SCTV skit the Great White North.
  • The South Park crew prepared a special cartoon, with Cartman, Kyle, and Kenny as Lil' Rush playing Tom Sawyer. There are several screeners posted to Youtube right now.

The show included a mix of material, obviously including Snakes and Arrows. It was a good cross-section of their discography, including cuts from Hemispheres, Signals, Moving Pictures, Power Windows, Vapor Trails, R30, and others. Noticeably absent however, were songs from 2112 and Farewell to Kings, other than Passage to Bangkok. The most glaring omission however, was that this was the first time I had ever seen them play where they did not play Closer to the Heart.

From what I could discern in the horrible mix the playing was tight. I did notice a reliance on prerecorded tracks at various points, and am pretty certain that some backing vocal tracks were also added at various points in the show. I'm not sure how I feel about this, and was a little disappointed.

Final Verdict: Good show, not great. I'll probably go see them again in the next few years, before they get so old that it's embarrassing.

California Guitar Trio at the One World Theater

Friday night, I attended another great show, featuring Guitar Craft alumni, the California Guitar Trio at the One World Theater. Without a doubt, the One World is probably the best venue in Austin to see a show. The room holds 300 people tops and has great acoustics. My seats were in 2nd row, right on center aisle. I was within spitting distance of all three members of the band, and it was amazing to see how relaxed and precise their technique was from that vantage point.

CGT played a solid 90 minutes. They played older (Melrose Avenue) and new material (Andromeda), and were joined on stage by several guests (their soundman playing a melodica and a woman playing mandolin). During one phase of the show they got the audience singing along to Bohemian Rhapsody, and of course played an encore with the most requested live song of all time, Freebird.

The highlight of the night for me was seeing them play a Bach Prelude in Circulation, a training technique used by Robert Fripp, in the Guitar Craft courses. Of course, I am now hoping that the League of Crafty Guitarists will make it to Texas.

After the show, the Trio was available for autographs and I was able to purchase a CD of the show I had just attended. They are actually touring with a CD duplicator and were able to burn 7 disks at a time. Very cool idea.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Dream Theater at the Backyard

This past Saturday, I endured the early evening heat and opening bands Into Eternity and Redemption to see Dream Theater at the outdoor venue, the Backyard. In general, it was an enjoyable show, but as usual, I left a DT show once again unable to call myself a true fan of DT's music.

First the opening acts. Into Eternity was a Progressive Death Metal band from Canada. I found them to be cliche and boring. The speed metal licks, one singer growling, the other sounding like Iron Maiden, argh!!! I made sure my earplugs were firmly in. Sorry guys, you're weren't worth a case of tinnitus.

The second opener, Redemption from L.A., was much better. They displayed a little more creativity. The biggest problem with them was that they were basically DT Lite.

I estimated DT's show lasted 2 hours tops, but didn't really watch the clock. They played a lot of their most recent material from Octavarium and Systematic Chaos. They didn't play Metropolis, which I found surprising. I will admit that I have a hard time distinguishing a lot of their material and albums, since Jordan Rudess has joined the band. Nothing was bad, technique abounded, but there was not a single moment during the show where I would call the music soulful. I do give some props to Jordan however, who actually succeeded in looking cool playing a Keytar.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Ron Paul San Antonio Fund Raiser

I spent a grueling 22 hour day in San Antonio, Saturday, helping with a Rally and Fund Raiser for Presidential Candidate Ron Paul. Despite being understaffed from a volunteer standpoint, the event went off with very few hitches.

Coverage of the event can be found at the Ron Paul SA and Ron Paul Austin sites. All told there were between 500-600 people in attendance at the Buckhorn Museum. During the day, there crowd was sparse, but swelled to large proportions around 5PM for the rally.

For me, the highlight of the day was getting to meet Michael Badnarik and getting a picture with Ron and his wife.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Storyville at Antones

Last night at Antones, I was able to see another Austin super-group, Storyville, for the first time. Prior to this, I had seen every member of the band either individually or with other people, but never together as Storyville.

The club was moderately packed when I arrived, but nowhere near as crowded as the Arc Angels show 2 weeks ago. Since this was their 2nd straight night at Antones, it's hard to say whether a larger crowd was present on Friday. (I would expect there was).

The opener was Kathy Valentine (one of the original members of the Go-Go's) and her band, the Bluebonnets. They had a very solid set of post-punk, pop material and won over the crowd. They were one of the better openers that I've seen there in a while.

For the main Storyville show, there was not much in the way of new material (very reminiscent of the Arc Angels show a few weeks back). Their only release since the 2nd Studio album has been a "live" album. This band did however, seem a little better rehearsed than the Arc Angels. As always, Malford was just awesome. Great singer and showman. The Davids (Grissom and Holt) did a great job with their dual guitar parts. And of course, Double Trouble is always great.

No big surprises or anything out of the usual, other than Malford performing A Capella for the first song in the encore. As with the Arc Angels show, I left hoping that they would see the wisdom in recording some new material.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

It (or they) came from the 70's

Recently, I obtained two unusual albums from the 1970's:

  1. Grand Funk Railroad's Good Singin' Good Playin' produced by Frank Zappa.
  2. Daryl Hall's Sacred Songs produced by Robert Fripp.

Both of these albums were commercial flops, but arguably artistic successes. There is usually a WTF or "who would have thunk" reaction to these strange pairings, when I mention them to friends and fellow musicians.

Personally, I give both of these albums kudos and high marks. It's as if a wormhole has been opened to a strange, alternate universe. A universe where two mainstream "pop" acts were temporarily allowed to exercise and demonstrate artistic integrity.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Arc Angels at Antone's

After missing several reunion tours, I was finally able to see the original Arc Angels at Antone's, last night. I have always been a fan for multiple reasons:
  • I played in an originals band in NY in the mid-80's playing Blues influenced Rock. We were all big fans of SRV and Double Trouble.
  • I'm old enough to remember Charlie Sexton's hit Beat's So Lonely, complete with a video on MTV. Can't say I was a huge fan, but it was the beginning of my Austin "awareness" while living in NY.
  • The first and only Arc Angels album was released shortly before I moved to Austin in 1993, and was receiving a lot of airplay on local radio when I arrived. I will always associate their music to this period of great change in my life.

So much for my rationale for liking the band: This show was exactly what I expected. It was not sold out (unlike tonight's show most likely is/was), the sound was good, and the (older) crowd was generally enthusiastic.

The band played for about 90 minutes and covered "the album" as well as a few other songs from the band member's other projects. The playing was generally tight, with a few glitches. It was nice to hear a band pull off their music with no backing tracks, sequencers, and/or lip sync'ing. I did enjoy Doyle Bramhall's left-handed, slide work and unique approach to the guitar.

I left the show hoping (like several of the other people present) that they might consider recording a new album. In a few weeks, I will see half of this same band in the Storyville configuration.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Porcupine Tree

Last night, I was finally able to see Porcupine Tree perform live, at the Fox Theatre, in Boulder, CO. This was the best show I've seen this year.

I arrived an hour before the doors opened and was amazed to see that the line went well around the block. Not being from Boulder, I quizzed the locals and found out that this was highly unusual. They had played this same venue twice the previous year (about 6 months apart), but the attendance had never been like this. In fact, they said they had never seen anyone draw a line like this to the Fox. Tree's popularity is rising, this may be their breakout album. (The entire US tour is sold out!)

The venue itself was nice, good sight lines and sound. The only downer, it is a standing room only club. It did have one cool touch, they had closed circuit video, so you can watch the show on large screen TVs behind the bars, while you're getting a drink.

Another small annoyance was the merchandising table. It was run by some British man who was doing his best impression of the British Munitions officer from the Zulu movie. (Gawd, was he freaking slow!)

The opening band, 3, was from Woodstock, NY (one of my old stomping grounds). They were interesting, but not really my cup of tea. A Boulder local who was obviously familiar with them, claimed that "they might blow Porcupine Tree off the stage". They were good, but not that good. The lead singer is classical trained and plays Flamenco licks on a Steel String guitar. (I would probably have been more impressed, except for seeing Del Castillo 2 weeks ago).

Tree themselves were awesome. They played all of the songs from Fear of a Blank Planet and a good selection from their previous albums. Noticeably missing were songs like Trains and Shallow (which Steven Wilson claims the band hates), but they did managed to play Open Car and Halo. I believe that the show lasted for more than 2 hours.

The sound was stellar, and the other people with me although new to the band, all left Porcupine Tree fans. As always, the star of the band is Gavin Harrison, the drummer. My friend, a drummer himself, was definitely impressed. Of course, Steve Wilson, John Wesley, Colin Edwin and Richard Barbieri were all in great form too.

Bottom line, if it weren't sold out, I would consider traveling to see them again on this tour.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Cinco de Mayo

In several hours, I will be heading over to the Glenn at the Backyard to see the always impressive Del Castillo.

I first heard them at Auditorium Shores during SxSW 2005 by accident. I had ventured out to see the Neville Brothers that evening. As fate would have it, a thunderstorm pushed all of the shows back 1 hour. Like many others in attendance, I was knocked on my ass. They were freaking awesome! Having seen their names advertised in the Chronicle for several years, I kicked myself for not seeing them earlier.

Anyway, I'm getting prepped and psyched for their unique brand of Flamenco influenced rock tonight.

Friday, April 20, 2007

SxSW 2007 and beyond

I fully intended to write a SxSW 2007 report. Actually, I had foolishly told myself that I would blog daily during the festival. This was lunacy, and of course I did not succeed in either effort. As fate would have it, the 4 straight 20 hour days killed all hope of a daily blog. Then, an almost week long flu and a kitchen accident resulting in several stiches to my left middle finger, sabotaged the wrap-up report.

At this point I'll sum up the year's SxSW by saying the 2 highlights of the week for me were KTu and the Pete Townsend/Rachel Fuller show. (If there is medal given to soundmen, then the one at Townsend's show deserved one. The sound at La Zona Rosa was exceptional).

Groupo Fantasmo was also impressive, and I also affirmed (as I suspected) that I'm not much of an Iggy Pop fan. My friend Joe wrote a pretty comprehensive review of the week here

Weather permitting, I hope tomorrow to go see the Old Settler's Music Festival in Dripping Springs. I am also counting the days, because in less than one month I will get to see Porcupine Tree live, for the first time.

On a different note, I popped my iTunes cherry. I am playing piano on one cut of Jennifer and Bill Chrisman's new CD, Long Way. It's also available on CDBaby, Rhapsody, and has been uploaded to Podshow (having debuted on the PodOnOver Podcast).

Baby steps ....

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Global Percussion Masters at the One World Theater

Last night I attended the early show of Global Percussion Masters at the One World Theater in Austin. The show featured 3 percussionists:
  • Terry Bozzio - Zappa band alumnus known for his unbelievably monsterous trap kit
  • Giovanni Hildago - a master Conguero
  • Zakir Hussain - Tabla Virtuoso
Having seen Terry multiple times (several of those at this venue), I knew what to expect and was not disappointed. However, I was totally blown away by Giovanni and Zakir. They put on an absolutely astounding display of hand percussion technique. It challenged some beliefs I had concerning what is possible with percussion. (Zakir's finger technique rivals Vladimir Horowitz on the piano). The show consisted of each percussionist performing solo followed by a group jam. I would tell everyone to try and catch this show, but unfortunately this event was a one-time thing. Hopefully, Terry will release something thru his web store.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Less than 2 weeks to go

It's exactly 11 days until the SxSW Music Festival begins. I will be joined this year by my partner at Basil Records, Phil Pepin and my good friend, Joe Schaedler (alumnus of the infamous NYC punk band, the Sic F*cks).

There's part of me that says I will attempt to blog every day of the conference. After further consideration however, this effort will probably be futile. Regardless, I am anxiously waiting for Wed, 3/14/2007 to arrive. After seeing Elvis Costello, Robert Plant, David Byrne and Neil Young in previous years, I am anxious to see Iggy Pop and Pete Townsend.

SxSW is one of the best reasons to live in Austin.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Sad news

Just 5 months after the passing of Boz Burrell, Ian Wallace has passed on. Sad news!

Details and tributes can be found on the DGM Live site.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Interesting news

Robert Fripp and King Crimson both have myspace pages now.

And the Porcupine Tree site reports that Steve Wilson will be touring with Blackfield and that the Tree is releasing a new album in April. Unfortunately, the Wilson/Blackfield tour is once again skipping the 3rd coast ;(

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Bass Madness

Wow. I saw Bx3 (or Bass times 3) last night at the Flamingo Cantina, featuring Jeff Berlin, Stu Hamm and Billy Sheehan. All 3 soloists were accompanied by Jude Gold and John Mader (basically they were "on" the whole time and extremely versatile).

Going in, I was first and foremost a Jeff Berlin fan. His albums with Bruford in the mid-70's still rank as some of my all-time favorites. The venue was nice, and small enough that I was situated within "spitting" distance of the stage. The show opened up with all 3 doing the Star Spangled Banner with Billy singing.

Jeff Berlin led off. He was a lot more entertaining and funny than I would have expected, and introduced his segment as the "Jazz" section (then immediately and hilariously told the sound man to "lock the doors"). His set was brilliant and he focused on his recent solo material. He declined a request from the crowd for Joe Frazier (Oh well). After seeing that, I decided not to bother him with a plea for 5G.

Seeing Jeff was a little strange for me. I had just recently purchased a copy of "Rock goes to College," a concert recording of Bruford's band from the BBC. It was recorded shortly after they had recorded "Feels Good to Me". In this video Jeff is in his late 20's or early 30's. Since he's now 55, I feel like I missed a good portion of his career. (But I really didn't. He just hasn't toured much ;(

Stu Hamm was 2nd and shifted out of jazz mode and into rock. He did a lot of two handed playing, basically converting his 4 string Bass into a Chapman Stick. One of the songs was a unique Beatles/Beethoven medley. Everything was tastefully done, and his segment was great.

Sheehan was last. I must admit that I had never really been interested in his playing before (and was actually disappointed by his last collaboration with Terry Bozzio). However, seeing him live made me change my mind a little. He was definitely the most energetic of the 3. He played some covers of Kings X Goldilocks and Jeff Beck's Led Boots. His motor never stops, he is quite the showman. His musicianship is much better than I had anticipated.

The night ended with a grand encore with all 3. The encore included covers of Clapton's Crossroads with Jeff singing, and Spinal Tap's Big Bottoms. Most impressive was the fact that the show lasted at least 2.5 hours (great value for a $15 cover).

The coup de grace for the night, was getting to talk to Jeff after the show, purchasing a copy of Aneurythms from him, and getting it autographed. Jeff is just a great person and really easy to talk to.

If you get the chance to go and see this tour, do it! Easily the best show I've seen this year in Austin. (Of course this year is only 5 weeks old).

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Robben Ford

Saw Robben Ford perform last night at the Cactus Cafe, with Roscoe Beck and Brandon Temple. Great show, great guitar work, great rhythm section.

This was the same venue that I had seen Al DiMeola recently. It was sort of the polar opposite of DiMeola's show. This time, the music took a front seat to the technique, instead of being sacrificed to the technique.

The night was highlighted by special guest appearances of Eric Johnson and David Grissom. While watching Robben play, it became suddenly apparent that Eric was a big fan of Robben's and had incorporated a lot more of his style than I had realized.

Taylor Campbell opened. He was a singer/songwriter who played acoustic guitar. He had the line of the night when he said, "When I open for Robben Ford, I'm a guitar owner, not a guitar player."

Friday, February 02, 2007

Touched by the Sound

I had the great pleasure tonight of seeing Evelyn Glennie perform with the Austin Symphony, at the Bass Concert Hall. If you've never heard of Evelyn, she is the subject of a documentary film, Touching the Sound. She is a world class percussionist and quite adept at a number of Tuned percussion instruments including the Vibraphone. What is absolutely amazing, is that she has been deaf since childhood.

Evelyn performed two pieces

  1. Schwantner's Percussion Concerto - An interesting piece with 3 movements. Evenlyn had a large array of instruments both in the front (Vibraphone, Timpanis, Gongs, Triangles and a Large Bass Drum) and the back (Marimba, Toms and Bass Drum) of the stage. It had a very 20th century feel and ostinatos clearly borrowed from or influenced by Javanese/Balinese Gamelan music. There were at least 6 or 7 other percussionists on stage playing Bass Drum, Tubular Bells, Xylophone, playing with her for the first movement. The last 2 movements were filled with extensive soloing and did not disappoint.
  2. Evelyn's arrangement of Vivaldi's Piccolo Concerto - Played with a smaller string ensemble, harpsichord and Evelyn playing Vibraphone. This was absolutely incredible to watch. It was performed flawlessly at a very fast tempo, with considerable variation in the dynamics.

She performs barefoot, which I assume provides some additional tactile feedback for her. I also spent considerable time trying to comprehend how she manages to play so impeccably, given her challenges.

Bottom line: If you have the chance to watch the film or better yet, see her live. Do it. If I didn't already have tickets to go see Robben Ford tomorrow night, I might be tempted to go catch tomorrow night's show, as well.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

KWS, Double Trouble and others at Antones

I went to go see this show at Antones with Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Double Trouble (SRV's rhythm section), and guests Bryan Lee, Hubert Sumlin and Pinetop Perkins.

I probably should have gotten tickets in advance since there was quite a line outside of Antones, forcing me to miss most of the opening act, Carolyn Wonderland. Fortunately, I was able to get in when someone on will-call had an extra ticket.

The show started with them running a trailer for a documentary film, 10 Days Out - Blues from the Backroads. KWS and DT went driving around the South looking up various Blues legends and jamming with them. An interesting concept, and I will try and catch it.

General observations:

Layton and Shannon are tight. (Nothing has changed since seeing them with SRV over 20 years ago). They are always in the pocket.

KWS and his band don't seem to have any new material. They're still playing material from Trouble Is, which is now 10 years old. It may just be me, but I don't think you should be doing a Greatest Hits/State Fair tour if you only have one legit album. Everything was performed well, but you like to see an artist progress over time.

Bryan Lee and Hubert Sumlin did a great job, but they exclusively did Blues "standards." Lee had a strong Cajun twist to his music; understandable since he is from New Orleans. Hubert had played with Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf.

It was also great to see Pinetop. He's over 90, not quite as lucid as Eubie Blake was at that age, but still able to perform. Unfortunately, none of the younger musicians could figure out how to accompany him without stepping all over his toes.

Good show, not awe inspiring.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

It's sleeting down in Texas, all the telephone lines are down

Well, central TX was hit by ice and sleet storms today. My employer wisely postponed work until 11AM tomorrow. (Bubba's pickup doesn't handle too well on ice ;)

Spent a good part of the day listening to podcasts, reading blogs and watching "A Scanner Darkly."

Monday, January 15, 2007

Submarine surfacing

Well it's been 3 years since my initial postings here. During that timespan, I have returned to Austin and am quite happy about that. I am relatively unhappy at this particular moment for two reasons:
  1. My Ravens lost their divisional playoff game to the hated Colts. The damn Manning love fest will continue.
  2. It's 28 degrees here in TX and in the 60s in Baltimore. (I thought this was the Sun Belt ;(
At the present time, I am busy with work and all things related to Basil Records. I am quite excited about what the coming year brings. I listened to my usual cycle of music related podcasts today, and stumbled across info about Joseph Vella on the Music Pro Show site. At last, well produced Jazz podcasts! Listening to the Traneumentary and Christian McBride podcasts. Very well done. Can't wait for more.