Thursday, September 29, 2011

Guitar show Friday

Eric Johnson and Sonny Landreth are doing a really limited tour (just a few dates in Louisiana and Texas) as co-bills. Both will play their own stuff and there will be some playing together, as seen in the video above. It's at the Paramount Theatre, a proper venue with seats and carpet and velvet and the whole deal, usually has good sound. I am excited, I will admit!

Love the Google Street view of the place and its marquee!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Needs a caption

Stop calling me "Crusty."

I'm in bread, NOT inbred!


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

ACL Festival Day 3


little hurricane (whole set, near front center rail)
Got to this stage by Rock Island in order to maneuver into place for The Greencards. This is a good band with a configuration like White Stripes: guy on electric guitars ("Tone") and girl drummer ("CC"). Their band tagline/self-applied genre is “dirty blues.” CC threw her sticks to the crowd, and there was a big scuffle over one of them right by us. One man tackled another one and they both landed hard with our backpack underneath them! Luckily nothing in it was broken. We manage to yank that free, and since the area was rather cleared then, I was able to easily grab my territory. The man on the bottom continued to hold onto his prize drumstick for dear life while the man grappling on top of him refused to give up, despite security guards promising him that they’d get him another one. Totally crazy.
The Greencards (whole set, front center rail)
This is one of our favorite bands. We’ve been seeing them as often as possible since 2003. Incredible instrumental work, songwriting, and vocals. They never fail to make our day. They are amazing.
Ryan Bingham & the Dead Horses (front rail far right, whole set). Bingham is hot as a firecracker right now. He worked on the Crazy Heart soundtrack with T-Bone Burnett and co-wrote "The Weary Kind". Over the past year it's won him an Oscar, a Golden Globe, a Grammy, Critic's Choice for "Best Song," and Americana Music's "Artist of the Year." First time for us to see him live was on Sunday. The video below is from that very event. The film crew with Malick, Bale and Bennett was there again backstage, there were sightings of the actors (in fact, you can see Haley in the video below, the pretty girl in the black camisole). They filmed MrB a lot (close up crowd shots) and maybe Blueberry too. I was keeping my head down for the camera.
We headed for home after Bingham. We had sunburns, hurting feet, a mile yet to walk to the bus stop, and Monday morning, 4:30 AM coming around too soon.

ACL Festival Day 2


A little more rain fell, and it was wonderful even though we were out in it. Alison Krauss & Union Station restricted stage seating to her band's guests (which included Robert Plant and Patty Griffin - I think the cat is finally out of the bag on this local celebrity couple) so we watched from the front. Beautiful show. I sooo love this band and everyone in it.

After AK&US, we went to the tented stage for
Gillian Welch (and David Rawlings). Gillian has played this festival a couple of times previously, and they put her on one of the big stages. For some reason they didn't this time. The smaller stages at ACL, especially if the acts are somewhat acoustic, fall victim to really awful sound bleedover from the other stages. I have been front rail center for a small stage band before, and could still hear the band from another stage equally well. This thing is the elephant in the room, performers put up with it because they are troopers, and not enough audience members complain or if they do, it doesn't make any difference - the festival will sell out.

Anyway, here is Gillian and David: The Revelator

And here is the band that was playing on the nearby stage and was scheduled to continue for another half hour, the first half of Gillian's set. Skrillex: "Kill Everybody"

She went out on a limb and had them postpone her start time until Skrillex was finished. It was sooo much better that way for everyone, but it delayed the stage schedule and some people may have felt inconvenienced by that.

Here is a bit of prime ass-holery from Billboard Magazine's tweet:
The aged + child crowd in Gillian Welch tent seems not amused by the rave happening across the way at Skrillex. #ACL #dealwithit
Deal with it? So it's perfectly alright to have both those performers going at the same time and place? It takes nothing away from the listening experience of the acoustic, quieter performance? Our only problem is that we are old? Or there are kids in the audience? (there are all ages in ALL the audiences.) This is the opinion offered by a representative of a MUSIC magazine? #assholejustdoesntgetit #goodongillian

My Morning Jacket was the headliner we chose for the night, and again, did not really attempt to get close. It was a beautiful night, and little damp and cool and cloudy, unlike the nights we've had here for several months when it might still be 100° out. Most of the crowd was at the other end of the park, so we had the opportunity to have some space around us, look up at the sky without feet stepping over your face, and dance in big wide circles (like nobody was looking). They sounded really good. They've been around for awhile and never caught on with me, but I'm ready to listen now. Nothing like an old new discovery.

Monday, September 19, 2011

ACL Festival Day 1

We had the kind of passes that allowed us into artist backstage area as well as limited stage-side seating. These are wonderful to have because you can recharge your psychic batteries (as well as your *literal* batteries) in a place that’s not a marching throng of sweaty humanity. They also have free (for tips) beverages, snack food, somewhat air-conditioned restrooms with flush toilets and actual soap+water. These things make a LOT of difference, and we are grateful to our friends for this gift.

I like to see my favorites, but also really like the opportunity to see someone I've never seen, and in some cases I might not have even heard of them. Just walking by the back of the crowd doesn't count, gotta stay for at least a song.

Friday Highlights

Ha Ha Tonka (3 songs, front)
Good indie band from Missouri. Yes, that's right. Our old stomping grounds.

Delta Spirit (whole set, stageside)
Have been wanting to see this band for awhile. Don't have any of their music but plan on changing that. It was great to be able to watch them from the stage.While we were there, we noticed below us that one of the cameramen below us (we are on a kind of railed catwalk) is totally obsessed with this gorgeous blonde and keeps filming her instead of the band. Well... these things happen. More about her soon...

Cave Singers (2 songs, tent stageside)
Have seen this great band before, but got there too late to get a good viewing spot, and the side seating had obstructed views PLUS bad sound, so we moved on.

Ray LaMontagne (2-3 songs, side rail)
Everybody has heard Ray's music. It's been used in television shows and I think) commercials. Very soulful, great voice.

Bright Eyes (whole set, stageside)
Had never seen this band before. An exciting and intense show. Here’s a zoom-in of center stage.Lead singer Conor Oberst about to crowd surf. I love this one because of the facial expressions in the crowd!
While standing in line, the woman ahead of us mention that the “Tree of Life” guy was making a movie here, so that explained the previous 'groupie-ogling cameraman'. The woman being filmed on the stage for Delta Spirit was Haley Bennett, and during Bright Eyes, the movie crew came striding down the center aisle of the crowd and proceeded to enter the stage from the (audience) left. Here is one of my shots, and we didn’t figure out who the actor was from that distance... and, in fact, did not until Monday...... which is probably a good thing because I probably would have melted on the spot. Here is someone’s video of them as they were preparing for the stage approach:

We missed all but one song by Gary Clark Jr. for that bit of excitement, but he is a hot local gee-tar player so we hope to catch him soon in Austin somewhere.

We didn’t make the most of the headliners at the festival, mainly because the only way to get close to the stage is to “camp out” there for many, many hours during the day. I have done that plenty of times, but not this time. Stageside viewing was not available for Coldplay, so we watched about half of it from way back on the lawn in a throng of people. Other than the in-person laser light show, I think I would just as soon watch on Palladia or ACL-TV if I can’t get close to the stage. Anyway… Day 1 was a blast, and a tiny bit of rain fell, which made us all ecstatic.

Here’s a collection of links about this still super-secret Terrence Malick film starring Christian Bale that was filmed at ACL-fest.

Superhero Hype <---- check out these great photos!
NY Mag
The guy (on twitter) who got the candid video
First showing

(I did not care for Tree of Life, but will have to see this one - just because...)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Festival weekend

Through the generosity of some dear friends, we are headed to the ACL Festival this weekend (starting Friday). Excited, and I'm frantically trying to prepare tonight. The video below is just I thought of today, it's totally unrelated to the ACL Festival, it's about a completely different kind of festival, but it cracks me up to watch this and listen to that great storyteller, Ray Wylie Hubbard. Funny stuff.

Reposting this gem from 4 years ago.

The "cold front" has finally brought temperatures down into the mid 90s, and they are teasing us with a 20% chance of rain by Sunday. I'll believe that when I see it. Fire hazard is extreme. Have a great weekend, everybody. Wishing you rain, or sun, whatever you are wishing for.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A song to help you through the week

Work, school, the GOP debates, the danged weather, lawyers, ads, car trouble, Microsoft, whatchoo got?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

You can't fight terror with fear

Never Forget

That’s what appears on lots of the 9/11 commemoration merchandise, and will probably be seen more these days than it was earlier, because, like all historical events, memories of it will fade as time passes.

The way the first responders charged into those buildings to save the lives of the people inside, without even considering the danger to themselves, this is something that should never be forgotten. Aboard Flight 93, the passengers sacrificed themselves to prevent the much greater disaster that would certainly have occurred had they allowed the hijackers to remain in control. These people are heroes.

There are things about the events of 9/11/01 that I wish that we would be able to forget as a nation. Remember that whole “United We Stand” theme that held most of the country, and even the world, together for about 24hours or so? We had sympathy and support around the world from practically everybody but Al Qaeda itself. The post-shock reaction was the desire to kill Osama Bin Laden by any means necessary. It's a normal human reaction.

It wasn't long before the "united" part of it became a bunches of like-minded people united against other groups of people. It became US and THEM, Patriot or Terrorist, which one are you? President Bush, addressing to a joint session of Congress on September 20, 2001 actually said, "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists."This dark period in American history has shown us descending into a pit of hatred, prejudice, bigotry, intolerance, racism, and fear - allowing these elements of our culture (which have been there all but below the surface, as it had been really frowned upon to express openly) to rise up again and proudly show their ugly heads.

There was an excellent news story on NPR last week that you can access at the links below:
Under Suspicion at the Mall of America
Mall Counter-terrorism files ID mostly minorities
Database of Suspicious Activity

It is about private counter-terrorism programs that are working together with law enforcement, the FBI, and the Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS). It sounds very well-intentioned and harmless on the surface, but it has been learned that permanent damage can be and has been done to innocent people through this program. This report is in two parts (text and audio), and I recommend the audio because there is more in it and much of it comes straight from the horse’s mouth.

This focuses on the implementation of this kind of program at the Mall of America in Minnesota, where regular, untrained citizens have been empowered to report what they see as “suspicious” activities, and as a result, many innocent people who have broken no laws (or even mall rules!) (and this is according to the authorities) are ending up with permanent incident files with the FBI and DHS. A disproportionate number of these reports are about people of color. One man was walking around and filming in the mall, making a video to send to his fiancée in another country. Taking photographs or videos could be viewed as suspicious. So can “acting nervous” when questioned as another person was doing. I think that we should all be nervous over this kind of thing.

When I was growing up, there was hardly anything more frightening than the prospect of a totalitarian regime, where you can be arrested or hauled away on a whim. The false accusation of any other person was accepted as reason enough to lock you up and throw away the key. Mass paranoia of the kind we had during the Cold War and now have again Post-9/11 is dangerous and toxic - "terror" is what terrorists want to create, because it's fear itself that will break us down, turn us against each other, and become willing to give up our freedom for what is perceived to be "security."

Many people falsely believe that those who have done nothing wrong should have nothing to fear from this kind of program. That is naïve!! They need to look closer to see what the real enemy is. The existence of these programs is letting the terrorists win. The Bushies like to say that terrorists hate our freedom. If we love our freedom, then why surrender it because of fear? Isn't this why we fight? For freedom?

Don't shove an American flag in my face because you want me to remember 9/11. The people who attacked us were religious zealots, true believers, theocrats. There is nothing more dangerous on the earth. I wish we could observe the day by being tolerant toward fellow humans, to live and let live. And we really need to to be trowing bags of money and plenty of love toward first responders - the people who selflessly charge into harm's way to save the lives of others - without thinking once about the ethnicity, political leanings, or religious beliefs of the ones being rescued and protected.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Catblogging in the middle of the week

Here's Henry, still with us and doing pretty well, all things considered for a cat who officially turns 20 years old in about a week. A rare event for him lately has been getting to go onto the screened porch. It's just been really hot lately, some stats:
In Austin, so far this year:
80 days of 100°+ (37.7C) (all-time record)
23 days at 105°+ (40.5C) (all-time record)
27 consecutive 100°+ days (all-time record)
hottest summer ever with an average of 89.5 degrees
our hottest August was also the hottest month on record (this broke the record set just one month previous when July 2011 was the hottest month on record) [addendum: oh joy! We just set the US record for hottest summer EVER.]
I joked that Austin has had Phoenix-envy. Anyway, we think it's been too hot generally for the comfort of humans and fragile furbabies, but we has a temperature break on the weekend. Henry looks pretty good for his age, but you can see a bit of his arthritis showing in the pic below.
He is a dear, precious little old sweetie pie. He just wants to be comfy and not much else.

Monday, September 05, 2011

A great new Aggie joke (sorry, Aggies)

A poke at Perry (a Texas A&M Aggie) from the Rice band at the Longhorns/Owls game on Saturday.

Found via Yellow Dog Granny on FB and Raw Story.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

The good, the bad, and the really-shoulda-been-better

Seen in the theater:

Rise of the Planet of the Apes
We went to see this based on it having a lot of good reviews, because our first reaction to the trailer was, "oh noooo, not another Planet of the Apes rehash!!!" Glad we overcame that reaction and saw it though, because this is not just a prequel that looks like it was done only to scrape some more money off the bottom of the barrel. There's some thought put into the premise, and like any good sci-fi, there's enough plausibility in it to make you think. It does have super-plenty trivia references to the original Planet of the Apes, and I liked the more subtle ones but some of them were just blatantly over-the-top. I would say if you have been living in a human zoo and haven't seen the original 1968 film - see that one first.

Seen in the theater:
Cowboys and Aliens
This was a movie I was looking forward to ever since seeing the trailer. I didn't see any way that it could miss. Harrison Ford AND Daniel Craig? As cowboys? Look at this awesome poster!! Olivia Wilde, Sam Rockwell and Paul Dano are in this too. It wasn't terrible, but I thought it did not live up to its potential. It's worth a rental, and I would still put that poster on the wall.

Seen on DVD:
Masked and Anonymous
This is from 2003, so it's been out awhile. I had not heard good things about it, but we were curious to see it anyway. It has an amazing cast of really actors that I enjoy watching: Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Penelope Cruz, Jessica Lange, Ed Harris, Giovanni Ribisi, Val Kilmer, Luke Wilson, Angela Bassett, Mickey Rourke, Christian Slater, Bruce Dern and more. The most important star is Bob Dylan. Larry Charles directed, and he co-wrote this with Bob Dylan. It almost seems like he also let Dylan direct it too. Maybe the director was just really star-struck at getting to make a movie with/about Dylan that he allowed the musician to take the reins, and even permitted him to narrate. The dialogue was pretty bad, and the characters were flat and uninteresting, the best acting was in the bonus features where some of the actors stated how much they liked the script. Amazing. (It reminded me of the 3 Star Wars prequels that have a lot of good actors in them but they are completely wasted by bad directing, dialogue and script. {curse you, George Lucas!!!!! :::shakes fist::::} ) Back to the Dylan vehicle, it did have some good parts, and those were the music performances, Dylan and his band. Guitar player Charlie Sexton (the one with the cheekbones that won't quit) is from Austin, he's someone we've seen play a lot. The rest of the movie was a waste of everyone's talent, in my opinion. If you are a big Bob Dylan fan (and I haven't been one of those since the 1960s) you might really like this, and most likely have already seen it.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Charities helping themselves

It's hard to think of something lower than a charity scam that pops up during a crisis, just when people are ready and willing to do anything they can to help. This article is about several of those scam charities that popped up after 9/11. [see Brett Blackledge - AP]

The American Quilt Memorial raised $713,000 to create a giant quilt. Each person killed would have a decorated sheet, and they would all be stitched together and the final version would be big enough to cover 25 football fields. I am not clear on how or where the quilt was to be displayed.

The founder did create a few hundred sheets which remain in storage. About $238,000 went to him and his relatives. He has spent at least $170,000 traveling (mostly with two large dogs in tow) and continued to run up expenses, such as allowing himself $200 a week for a car, plus his rent, loans and "petty" expenses in the tens of thousands. Not only did he squander the money, he appointed an elderly priest as the chairman of the board - something that was done completely without the knowledge of the priest. [video extra]
"If I made a mistake, I made a mistake. If I did, then crucify me. I never said I was a professional at this."
Then there's the 9/11 Garden of Forgiveness at the World Trade Center site, something that never has and never will exist. Rev. Lyndon Harris raised $200,000, paid himself $126,530 (salary) and spent $3,562 in dining expenses.
Harris said he sees his charity's work as a success even if there is no garden at the site. "I saw our mission as teaching about forgiveness," he said.
How about this one:
Urban Life Ministries of Manhattan raised over $4 million for victims and first responders. Only about $670,000 was accounted for on tax forms that it did file (and taxes were not always filed). Rev. Carl Keyes admitted that they did not keep good records of how the money was spent. His accounting skills were similarly bad for his church's Katrina fund.
"You're going to beat me up in an article because we're bad managers?" Keyes said.
Another one mentioned in the article is called The Flag of Honor Fund, which raised $140,000 for a flag containing all the names of the dead, but the funds ended up supporting a for-profit business which sells the flag at Wal-Mart and only donates a tiny portion to charity.

People really do want to help when it's needed, and there are always going to be a good share of predators ready to pocket their donations. If possible, try and look them up on a site like Charity Navigator, The American Institute of Philanthropy, or BBB. I personally avoid giving to anything that has a religious source, because they have an underlying agenda that is part of their nature - they must deliver their message and are used to using donated money for that agenda - but not all scams have a religious source.

Also, people who are going through tragedy do not need ornamental quilts, flags, flowers, mythical gardens or purchased prayers. They need money, housing, food, income, and health care.