Monday, March 28, 2011

Spring - I love you - stay

 Sunday was dominated by this monstrosity on the driveway. If we ever wanted to use the garage again, it had to be dealt with ASAP.

MrB did all the ugly part, shoveling the stuff into a wheelbarrow and hauling it into the backyard. Then I got to spread it around on the paths with a rake. The paths are not paved and are fast being overtaken by weeds... wildflowers... ground cover... so they got covered with crushed granite. Some things are allowed to stay, like these Blackfoot Daisies.

Trumpet Vines have bloomed, and in fact, they are past prime.

Here's a pic of our best batch of them. Not the best year for them at the Oasis yard but I've seen some fabulous ones out there.

Yellow Columbine is a beauty right now.

Here's a stubborn little Ash tree that wants to grow in the middle of the path and keeps growing back. It has won the battle and can stay.

Buddha and a garden solar light that is supposed to look like a rock.

We've had this metal sculpture for years and it finally has a bird nest in it.

It's a great spot for a nest, but we are still waiting for birds to move into some of the official birdhouses that are hanging nearby.

Wildflowers are getting near peak right now. Bluebonnets are covering the fields. It was close to 90° on Saturday, and it won't be long until the triple digits get here.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Caturday - Brother Cats

These brother cats live next door, and are indoor/outdoor. They are both all black except for a little white "bowtie" patch on the upper chest. Despite having the same coloring, they are very easy to tell apart. Martin (who has been featured on here before) is very friendly and will come over as often as possible for belly rubs. He never gets tired of these.
Here he is in a photo taken today, sitting on the rusty grate of his air conditioner. As soon as I got closer to him, he jumped down and wanted belly rubs.
This is his brother, Deuxie. I don't know if it's spelled that way, but his 'dad' said they originally named him Deux because there were two cats, so they call him "dewey." He is an extremely shy kitty and letting me get this close to him without running away is great progress. One day he even allowed a nose boop, but I don't think he was that OK with it.They both seem to be very sweet boys.

Sounds like a headline from The Onion

Monday, March 21, 2011

SXSW Day 4, Saturday

Aaaaah! My final posting on this big music party for the year!

Started out on Red River where I figured Rachael Ray's party would be impossibly crowded at Stubb's, she always has a great lineup and goes all out to serve delicious food (all free) not to mention the free beer, margaritas, vodka+tea combo drinks, bottled tea and soft drinks. As it turned out, the place we were headed to try and see Okkervil River (a block away) was the one with the line going for a mile so we went to Rachael's. You could actually walk around freely there, I was amazed! Even though she probably had a veggie offering, we passed on the long food line to take in some music. Here's Charlie Mars on the indoor stage (there were 3 stages). She is a big music fan and stood stageside for every band, enjoying them and taking pictures.

The crowd at Stubb's for Rachael

We also saw Bob Schneider and Fitz & the Tantrums (below). Both highly recommended!

Ran into Billy Gibbons (of ZZ Top) and got a picture taken with him, but missed his guest appearance onstage because of the really long bathroom line.

It was time to hike about a mile over to the bus stop to head down to Jo's Coffee where we saw Menomena and our headliner for the day, Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears. His band plays high-energy rockin' funky soul, guitars, horn section, and if that wasn't enough he adds in a gospel-style vocal group. Listen to him on NPR.

There's been a theme running through the news coverage, post-festival, about all the out-of-control issues - fights, tasing, fence-busting, pepper spraying, and one so-called riot that included all of the above... I've been wondering where the tipping point for these free parties was going to be and it just might be here.

Some examples with videos (and there's one thing that's going to be true, from now on and forever, and that is that events are going to caught on camera... multiple times!)
[sour notes]
[Tasing on 6th]
[Beauty bar riot]

This thing has been growing steadily and evolving into a bigger and bigger party monster. We only do the daytime stuff, and it might get rowdy and nutty but hasn't been scary. Of course, we're in it together. We'll get back on the ride next year, if possible.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

SXSW Day 3, Friday

The Beautiful Boy and his Beautiful Lady

Started the day on Friday at the Hilton Hotel lobby for KUT radio's morning live broadcasts. We were the first people there and because of that we got to sit in the only padded armchairs available. That was the payback for the 5AM alarm. We were mainly there to see Old 97's [event picture and video link] who played an acoustic version of their high-energy cowpunk rock or whatever you want to call it. Also saw Bobby Long and Tristen, didn't know either of them, they were good too. We were expecting to see Middle Brother there but there had been a schedule change. We ended up not seeing Middle Brother at all this week. It's really hard to see everyone you want to see.

After the Austin radio broadcast, we went to a high-end bicycle shop called "Mellow Johnny's" for Seattle's KEXP live broadcast of Steve Wynn & The Miracle 3 [KEXP's coverage and photos here]. We really like Steve Wynn and band, but the inside of that bike shop was a terrible music venue IMO. Acoustics were bad (which I guess doesn't matter on the radio, it's only the soundboard that matters) and there was no elevated stage so you couldn't see the whole band at once unless you were a photographer. Mellow Johnny's had a patio outside that was party-ready, and might have been a better spot for it.

The highlight of the day, without a doubt, was the lawn party at the French Legation Museum. I had never been there before and was trying to imagine it based on Google satellite and street views. As it turned out, it was just as imagined... green grass lawn, a few shade trees... picturesque. The stage was a foot-tall platform with a cloth canopy and handmade flag banners made from scraps.

John Vanderslice played shortly after we got there, and we really liked him but want to see him another time when the sound conditions are better. The sun was starting to beat down hard on us so we moved right up next to the stage to be in the shade of the speakers so we got sub-woofed pretty bad but the shade and the breeze were glorious. Despite the thump, we completely enjoyed seeing Sean Lennon and Charlotte Kemp Muhl (a.k.a. Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger). Sean, of course, strongly resembles his father, and I must say that I'm not sure I've ever seen a more attractive woman (in person) than Charlotte (Kemp Muhl) who is a model as well as a musician. Also... Yoko Ono was there. She was standing a mere few feet away from us and watching her son play.

Someone was handing out sampler CDs from Sean's label (Chimera) so we were able to get one signed by them (not Yoko, though). We liked the music a lot (I would describe it as melodic, jazzy, sweet, pop and/or eclectic but never as rock 'n' roll), and were absolutely enchanted by the whole experience.

We walked to Koriente after their show, and had another wonderful (late) lunch in a restaurant which not only has the framed Rolling Stone cover of naked John with Yoko, but also a mural of it on the wall. It was all a little surreal, almost dreamlike.

Some more sights on 6th Street on the way to the bus stop: There a couple of beautiful chalk drawings.

More buskers with a doggy.


Funniest band name of the week.

It was back down south to Home Slice Pizza where they were finishing up their party with one more band to go, Rural Alberta Advantage.

Home Slice had a Google theme to their decorations.

3 days down, 1 to go. Stay tuned.

SXSW Day 2, Thursday

The Legends and the Famous. I Get Star-Struck

I had heard about the surprise parking lot appearance by Jack White the day before, so I was really hoping to be able to locate his 'debuted at SXSW' Third Man Rolling Record Store somewhere. When we were getting close to downtown on the bus, looked what rolled past us!

My little heart was going pit-a-pat as I was wondering where it was headed and how could we get there ASAP. We hopped out on 6th (as originally planned) and saw it go West on that street - I figured the only likely destination would be Waterloo Records, so we started walking as fast as my legs would go (which is not very impressive) - 10 blocks! Sure enough. There it was and there was a line of people waiting for it.

He was spinning some records and talking from behind the big glass window, and they were making a big pile of money selling merch just inches away from him, MrB got a shirt and I got a sticker plus this photo of Jack White and a pile of money.

The Greenhornes were about to play (and if I had realized that the Greenhornes were on the Third Man record label and playing at a record store with Jack White in town with his own record store, it would have been 2+2 to figure out this appearance beforehand), and most people were wondering if he was going to do a cameo stage appearance with them, especially after he emerged from the truck and watched backstage.

He didn't play (so I have still not seen him play) but were fully expecting him to cameo with Wanda Jackson later in the afternoon, and/or at other Wanda Jackson shows during the week, as he has played with her at a number of shows elsewhere. Here's an official video from her newest release with JW on his Third Man label.

After the record store morning and lunch, we headed back down to Jo's Coffee (SXSJ) and saw, among others, The Cave Singers, and would like to see them again sometime.

Vetiver has a cat-loving keyboardist.

Rockabilly Queen Wanda Jackson was due to play there at 8PM and we had a good spot for that. She said that Jack White had already left town, but I was still really glad to see her. In all my years I don't remember ever seeing her live show, even though she plays across the street (at the Continental Club) every year when the owner of the club throws her a birthday bash, and more. I think she's 75 years old. That's his daughter on stage with Wanda.

Another day done, and 2 more to go.

SXSW Day 1, Wednesday

We actually started out on Tuesday night at the jazz club, the Elephant Room, to see Chris Maresh play standup bass with a jazz quartet. On Wednesday we hit the bus stop early and ended up first in line for the Paste party, which is always good. Waiting in line, I took a few street shots. It was 11:30AM so not that many people were up and out yet.

Some Texas Rollergirls were signing people up for a raffle.

This is great, but how did he manage to enjoy free drinks and noms?

Like always, we don't necessarily know much about the bands we are going to see. I try to listen ahead of time but trying to cover all the options gets frenzied. At Paste, we saw Ponderosa, Futurebirds, The Civil Wars, and Trampled by Turtles. Enjoyed them all. Paste does a good job in their lineups.

The Civil Wars were a band that I'd heard on the radio just a few days previous, and had one of those moments where I HAVE to stop and make note of who that was... so I was glad that we got to see them. They are absolutely enchanting... their voices, songwriting, charisma. The novelty aspect of them (and I know that novelty should not be important, but in fact, it does help with the success of a band - that's just cold reality) is that JP White, the male singer, looks almost exactly like Johnny Depp. A dead ringer. We bought their CD and it is gorgeous.

Broom guitar, taken through the window. By this time, every place up and down the street is blaring with live music. I got a kick out of this guy standing outside Death Metal Pizza across the street.

Trampled by Turtles.
This is what I would call a progressive high-energy band with a bluegrass vibe. There is probably not a turtle in the world that could keep up with them.

All those big heads on the mural painting look kind of freaky in the background IMHO.

We headed out after TBT, had a fantastic vegan lunch at Koriente, and walked 6th street to get to the bus stop. Austin's Quiet Company was giving out free hugs. Yes, I got mine!!

6th street busker

It really helps if you have a puppy with you

Went down to South Congress where Jo's was kicking off their daily parties* with an all-day Beatle song event. It's advertised as The Eggmen (a local Beatles cover band) plus ukulele. That part was true, except that they were bringing in multiple bands, one after the other, to play a couple of Beatle tunes each. This is Tornado Rider which features a wild-ass cello. Wow!!! I'd been wanting to see them anyway and this appearance was a complete surprise for me.

We watched a few bands playing Beatle songs, including The Kin from Australia, and walked down the road to Guero's Taco Bar courtyard* to see Monahans.

This is how they describe themselves (so much easier than me coming up with a description in this case):
Austin-based band Monahans (not "The Monahans"), named for the desolate West Texas sand hills, balances thundering rhythms and atmospheric "landscape rock" with urgent pop anthems and spiritual campfire balladry (think Explosions In the Sky + R.E.M + Neil Young)
Had been wanting to see them for awhile and finally got our chance. There was a good vibe at Guero's, and I won some 'house concert' tickets in a raffle.

I recommend every band I've mentioned here. If I don't really care for somebody, I tend to just not even mention them. I am not a music critic, and almost nothing gets ugly faster than repercussions over the "that band sucked" type of postings.

The weather was absolutely gorgeous. Temps in the high 70s and a bit overcast. There was a strong wind blowing, but sometimes that feels good too.

* The parties at Jo's Coffee are called "South by San Jose" or SXSJ. At Guero's they are "Comboplate, South by SoupFest" and benefit a homeless shelter.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Based on a true story, 1960s music edition

Nowhere Boy
In the extra features, the filmmakers discussed how they didn't put great importance on finding actors who resembled the people they were playing, because it was, more importantly, a story about a young man and his mother and less importantly a story about young John Lennon, mother Julia, and Aunt Mimi. I get that goal and approach, but if you strip away the known identities of the people being portrayed, which includes 3 of The Beatles, some of the most famous people any of us 20th century folks can think of, what you are left with is a somewhat interesting little family drama. The main character doesn't look much like John, and the person playing Paul looked a lot more like a young George. I think these things made a difference.

Putting that aside (the effort to make a movie that stands alone without The Beatles mattering), as a Beatle fan I did enjoy watching a dramatization of the Quarrymen forming, and the telling of the John Lennon/Julia/Mimi story.

I say see this movie if you are a Beatle fan. Otherwise... meh.

Pirate Radio
When I was checking this out, the librarian said "this has a great soundtrack," and it does. It looked like it couldn't miss, I mean, Philip Seymour Hoffman is in this!! Also Bill Nighy and Nick Frost... well, even with the soundtrack and PSH it did manage to miss the mark. I don't know how, bad timing, characters not quite genuine... but I think it ranks a shrug of the shoulders.

Well, I feel like this should have been done in threes, with the third choice hitting one out of the park. Anyone want to offer one? Or even one that ranks mediocre?

Monday, March 07, 2011

The Ides of March, +1

Well, the political news has been making my head spin lately. I limit my obsessions with it to avoid a brain blowout, and try really hard to ask things like “What next?” You almost don't want to know. I did finally cave in and become a member of our local NPR affiliate during the pledge break that’s going on now. When they say they are fighting for survival, they really mean it this time.

I’ve been hitting the NPR music site a lot lately, trying to prep for the big shindig (SXSW) and make some decisions on what parties to hit. We are daycrawlers, we start early and end early if possible, gotta come home and take care of our furbaby, who needs meds and pettins. Welcome to our staycation. Taking off 3 whole days in a row this month from the day J-O-B even though it's a busy time there.

The biggest majority of side parties are free, and lots have free food and booze also, but I'm a little more interested in the music. This is the best source for party info,, and even that site doesn't have everything. What a hoot it is looking through that list. I love band names, as you know.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
Gay For Johnny Depp
Trampled by Turtles

Jerri Seinfeldt's Atrophied Sac

Meow Meow Meow
--[I think I've heard them. ;-)
Then there are the irresistible shit themes, such as:
Expensive Shit and Shine

Coldcock Jones & the Shithawks

The Shitty Beach Boys

They have parties in music venues, parking lots, art galleries, churches, coffee shops, restaurants (Home Slice Pizza will have a great lineup), a barber shop, but this year there is a topper in that a dental office is throwing a series of parties and calling them Mouth by Mouthwest (MXMW)! They've got great lineups too!

Really though, I do hope to see Trampled by Turtles, Okkervil River, The Civil Wars, Old 97s, Steve Wynn and the Miracle 3, Band of Heathens, and The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger (this is a couple-band which includes Sean Lennon).

What I like to do, if possible, is skip most of my local favorites in favor of hearing bands from Sweden, Scotland, Spain or somewhere far away, the ones who can't do a World tour but can't miss SXSW.

Hope this fantastic weather holds out, and my feet too.