Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Be merry, be happy, or just get to the other side

The Holidaze are upon us, and hope you are enjoying yours... especially hoping that you get at least a day or 2 off (although some folks are not that lucky) (and if you are working, I hope that you love your job). I have been off work since December 21st, so that fantastic, and don't have to go back until January 6th. I am in the category of persons who just wants to get past the Helliday itself, and it has gone smoothly this year except for just one anxiety attack last week... feeling much better now and in the home stretch!! Go go go!!

We have been entertaining ourselves with concerts, movies, some light shopping, and otherwise just NOT being on a schedule. Here's a bit of a concert from Sunday night, The Band of Heathens played wearing wonderfully tacky Christmas sweaters!

Seeing some good movies too... 'tis the season when the nominees are announced, and a lot of the contenders for awards are the ones freshest in the minds of those who decide. I loved "Inside Llewyn Davis," another Coen Brothers/T. Bone Burnett collaboration (like "O Brother, Where Art Thou?") that is not a musical but is driven by music. I've had the CD soundtrack for awhile, and one of my favorites from it is "The Auld Triangle," which is lip-synced in the movie by 4 guys in matching beige sweaters (I'm not really giving anything away there), but it is these guys (Punch Brothers & Marcus Mumford) plus Justin Timberlake who actually do the vocals. I love this intensely.

We've seen "12 Years a Slave" and "Dallas Buyer's Club," going to see "American Hustle" tomorrow (Christmas Day).

Whatever you do, enjoy it.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Hey, I'm walkin' here!

If you are headed somewhere, hope you get there safe, and enjoy the trip.

Google Street View find.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Celtic Festival

Here is your soundtrack for this post. Picture sitting on the bank of a river, the weather is perfect, temperature 77°F/25°C, sunny, dry, and light breezes. We were sitting on a blanket behind the stage where a band was playing, so the music is live.

A guy paddled by in a coracle, which I am only familiar with by name because a friend of mine in the UK has one. Considering the recent floods (and the banning of river recreation) he was probably committing a misdemeanor, so I hope his adventure ended well.

I didn't take loads of pictures of the bands and costumes this year, as I have done before. Just a few snapshots. Enjoyed petting the mini-horses, and really... what is cuter than a mini-horse? It would be a tough competition. Princess Neko would be in there (and all cats, really), puppies, baby hedgehogs, mini-horses, etc.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Coming This Winter...

Here is a Sunday Funny for you from the folks at Bad Lip Reading! (When the link pops up to watch the extended scene, hold on and wait until the end - there's a link for them)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Let it rain!

We don't even really try to go to the ACL Festival anymore. It's harder for us to be on our feet for 12 hours a day than it used to be - where you have to walk a mile to find a spot to sit - crowded and sweaty. This year it wasn't just sweaty, on the penultimate night of it we got something like 4 months worth of rain in one night, so they cancelled that day. A lot of the bands did 'popup' shows, last-minute-arranged stuff you need to be on twitter to find out about. One band played at the homeless shelter for just food donations. Atoms For Peace, which sells out venues at the $100 range, played for $10 a ticket. Many bands put on free shows! Lionel Ritchie picked up a house concert and played for maybe 50 people, don't know what he charged though.

I got happy because one of my favorites, The Lone Bellow, played a couple of free shows -- one of them at 5:00pm (perfect for us old timers who just wanted to get home in time to watch The Walking Dead, then hit the sack for the workweek) (priorities).

I love these guys! This one is a slower ballad but most of their songs are up-tempo -- check them out if you like this:

Still getting some rain (so wonderful) and later this week it will cool down enough to maybe turn off the air conditioner.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Arizona fun

Still working the scanner like a fiend, trying to post photos in chronological order (but we'll see how long that lasts). This gallery is in a similar time and place, 1951-1956 in Arizona. This is an event held annually in Wickenburg AZ (small community about 60-odd miles out of Phoenix) called "Gold Rush Days." It's very cowboy-themed! See the video below (video not mine) shot in 1958... as close to it as I have found. I love seeing all these folks decked out in their 50s best (I think it will enlarge if clicked), and the rest of the shots of cowboys and cheesy floats.

In other news, the weather is FINALLY cooling off, still warm enough to call summer up further north, but feeling less like an oven. We spent Tuesday night of this week attending the Austin City Limits TV taping of Neko Case - who has a haunting voice like no other. She spent some time in Tucson AZ herself (recording an album), her father was in the Air Force (like mine), and told the story during the show of have a stuffed iguana as a kid - not a plush toy but a real dead iguana with painted teeth, stuffed with cotton and (I'm sure) wires... this was funny to hear for me because when I was a kid I had a similar companion -- a stuffed baby alligator (or possibly a crocodile) named Kilroy. Parents can make strange choices sometimes.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Is this thing on...?

Waving helloooo after a long absence from the Oasis here. I miss it. Facebook drives me crazy sometimes, but also wears me out because it's constantly updating. Anyway, I am up to a lot of my usual activities, going to hear live music once or twice a week, almost too much to list except to make note of attending the Dawes Austin City Limits taping a day after my 60th birthday (OUCH).

I've also been keeping myself busy with the great historical photo and letter sorting project. Great progress, and have been keeping the scanner going. I have cleaned up my old Flickr account and am going to try and post as much as possible there. The first set is of a racetrack in Arizona where my dad worked as a side job in the pit crew for one of the drivers. I love seeing the way people people used to dress! Manzanita Speedway

All Hail the Autumn seasonal change!

Will be checking in and browsing around when I get the chance.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Wendy's Theme

Local band Bright Light Social Hour happened to be at the big Citizen's Filibuster event where the awesome Wendy Davis spoke for 11 hours, on-topic, with being allowed food, bathroom breaks, or even leaning on something -- and they made a music video based on the chants.

You can get a free download of the music here on SoundCloud.

Makes me very proud.

Spread it around if you like it.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Welcome Princess Neko

Here she is. We asked her owner if we could keep her. That's the short version of the much more lengthy post I was in the middle of - then decided that could wait.

We are happy to have her as part of the family.

Monday, May 27, 2013

May Post

Hello! Yes, I know, I have not posted for awhile. Still keeping very busy between working and weekends, but generally facebooking things instead of blogging. I even missed my 8th Blogiversary announcement on May 6! Shame on me for that. Let's see what's happened...

Eeyore's Birthday! Our Spring Ritual event of drums and costumes.

Live music from late April forward: plenty! Saw mandolin virtuoso Chris Thile & jazz pianist Brad Mehldau in the proper vintage theatre setting of the Paramount. Saw local sensational songstress Patty Griffin play free at Waterloo Records (without Robert Plant, her companion and musical cohort, who shows up from time to time). Saw local (via Australia) high-energy progressive acoustic favorites and friends The Greencards at Threadgill's. Went to "Jazz in Bastrop," and annual charity event featuring my favorite guitarist Eric Johnson. He played a magnificent set (whether or not it is jazz could be an all-night discussion) with his regular band of Wayne Salzmann on drums and Chris Maresh on bass. Opening for him was Rick McRae (who tours with George Strait) along with Eric Hokkanen and several others playing red-hot swing-jazz. Great stuff, and on a perfectly beautiful, balmy night, and in the country next to a lake where between sets of music and applause you literally heard the sound of crickets. The following week we saw Eric Johnson again, sitting in for a few at Van Wilks birthday concert along with Christopher Cross. That one was a blast. We love Van, he is a great guitarist and a friend. The next day it was Rick McRae (again) and Denny Freeman, free in the rotunda of the Texas History Museum. Denny did some time as Bob Dylan's touring guitar player and is now back in Austin. He is amazing. Also seen last week - our beloved Band of Heathens. It had been too long since we'd seen them.

In other news, we got rain. Glorious rain, flashing the drought a middle finger for a least a few days. These photos are from the front yard, which is occupied by a hundred snails.

Coming soon, some good news on the home front. It involves a kitty. Stay tuned.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Ritchie Havens

So sorry that the world has lost Ritchie Havens. He was an icon of the music festivals of the 1960s (where I saw him quite a few times), and if you've seen the movie "Woodstock" you must have been moved by his "Freedom." He was sooo wonderful. He wrote many songs, but was also a master of the cover song, he would make a song his own. We both got to see him as recently as 2003, during SXSW he played an official showcase at the Cedar Street Courtyard where we watched him from a few feet away on a warm night. This is probably my favorite listen from Ritchie Havens, "Follow."

Words by Jerry Merrick

Let the river rock you like a cradle
Climb to the treetops, child, if you’re able
Let your hands tie a knot across the table.
Come and touch the things you cannot feel.
And close your fingertips and fly where I can’t hold you
Let the sun-rain fall and let the dewy clouds enfold you
And maybe you can sing to me the words I just told you,
If all the things you feel ain’t what they seem.
And don’t mind me 'cos I ain't nothin' but a dream.

The mocking bird sings each different song
Each song has wings - they won’t stay long.
Do those who hear think he's doing wrong?
While the church bell tolls its one-note song
And the school bell is tinkling to the throng.
Come here where your ears cannot hear.
And close your eyes, child, and listen to what I’ll tell you
Follow in the darkest night the sounds that may impel you
And the song that I am singing may disturb or serve to quell you
If all the sounds you hear ain’t what they seem,
Then don’t mind me ‘cos I ain’t nothin’ but a dream.

The rising smell of fresh-cut grass,
Smothered cities choke and yell with fuming gas;
I hold some grapes up to the sun
And their flavour breaks upon my tongue.
With eager tongues we taste our strife
And fill our lungs with seas of life.
Come taste and smell the waters of our time.
And close your lips, child, so softly I might kiss you,
Let your flower perfume out and let the winds caress you.
As I walk on through the garden, I am hoping I don’t miss you
If all the things you taste ain’t what they seem,
Then don’t mind me ‘cos I ain’t nothin’ but a dream.

The sun and moon both are right,
And we’ll see them soon through days of night
But now silver leaves on mirrors bring delight.
And the colours of your eyes are fiery bright,
While darkness blinds the skies with all its light.
Come see where your eyes cannot see.
And close your eyes, child, and look at what I’ll show you;
Let your mind go reeling out and let the breezes blow you,
Then maybe, when we meet, suddenly I will know you.
If all the things you see ain't what they seem,
Then don’t mind me ‘cos I ain’t nothin’ but a dream .
And you can follow; And you can follow; follow…

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Tall weeds and a new toy

Spring is just busting out like crazy now, and I have a new camera which I am still trying to get used to. It's got options for "special effects," which the old camera didn't offer. Here's one used to capture the Bottle Chandelier.

(Note: I put the bug pictures at the bottom of the post so you can bail out if you are phobic. On the positive side for fellow arachnopobes, there are no spiders, just a bee and another insect)

Yellow Columbine gets the "illustration" filter.

Maybe the most interesting filter isolates the color red, and removed color from everything else. It worked really well with the poppies. Another feature kicked in when I took this one - it informed me that it had detected a blinked eye. Ha ha! Very perceptive Ms. Camera, but he's not going to open his eyes any wider than that. Ever.

We got our first sunflower of the year, and it is a perfect beauty, even without this effect that is supposed to make it look like a painting.

No special camera effects on the rest of them, just some close shots of a HUGE black bee that has been visiting the milkweed. It's not a Bumble Bee, but a Carpenter Bee that goes by "Xylocopa micans."

Again, no special effects, but just a shot of a bug that is ALL OVER the milkweed. Turns out it's called a Milkweed Bug. Harmless, except to milkweed, which is a problem for us since the milkweed is much needed for butterflies. We are not going to discourage the MW bugs, but instead are headed out to buy some more milkweed plants - so maybe there will be enough to go around.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Those boots

Remember the pairs of mysterious gold boots that were draped, tennis shoe style over the wires around town? (Things can ALWAYS get more fabulous, and you truly never know what you will see during SXSW!) I didn’t think they were an official SXSW decoration (not corporate enough) but a rogue act.

I just went to the CD release for (awesome local band) The Wheeler Brothers, which is called “Gold Boots Glitter.” I have a very strong suspicion that the boots were a tribute. Anyway, I am kind of new to The Wheeler Brothers even though they've been causing a stir in the local music scene for awhile. They are a really good band, and know we know they have a lot of style too. Here's a video from their earlier record - worth watching on its own merits just for being fun.

A pic from the in-store at Waterloo Records:

When I opened up the CD, my jaw dropped in amazement at the design of it! Flaps unfold, and unfold again, and eventually it turns into a popup! The insert slides underneath the burning guy. They don't give out prizes anymore in this town for album art, but if they did, this one should win.

I hope that there is always a need and a purpose for physical album art. Maybe the resurgence of vinyl will ensure that, for awhile anyway. I really like Gold Boots Glitter, and thin maybe I should buy some more Wheeler Brothers.

Image from Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs (1966)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Sunday, March 24, 2013


Peter Walker [American space physicist; researcher at Rice Univ; contractor for the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory/Space Science Div.] quotes —

“…..The supreme arrogance of religious thinking ~~ that a carbon-based bag of mostly water on a speck of iron-silicate dust around a boring dwarf star in a minor galaxy in an underpopulated local group of galaxies in an unfashionable suburb of a super cluster would look up at the sky and declare, “it was all made so that I could exist!”

I've seen this quote here and there, and can't verify whether the quote is genuine or not, but that part doesn't matter as much as the fact that it's an awesome quote.

We might be made of stardust, but we are not stars.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Zombie Day and The End

We got downtown early enough to be able to head back to the Waterloo Records parking lot to see The Zombies, a band I have loved since I was about 12. They still have enough principal original people in the band to keep their credentials and sound solid (with Colin Blunstone, lead vocals, and Rod Argent, keyboards).
The Zombies

Some old footage:

We saw them at noon, then again at 2pm down the street at a bike shop (where KEXP of Seattle was hosting their SXSW live broadcasts). We were pretty close at the Waterloo parking lot stage, but really just inches away at the bike shop. Tickled pink.

Our friend who was with at the KEXP show drove us over to Threadgill's for the Folk Alliance party, which was certainly the most relaxed and easiest event of the week. You could go inside or out, order dinner and drinks, sit wherever you like, listen to good music, and chat with friends. I finally got to see Willie Nile (after years of recommendations) and he was good - also a blast when he came out to dance with the audience.

Willie Nile and dancer

It was Saturday afternoon and time to start winding it down for the week. We don't don't anything on Southby Sunday, even if it IS St. Paddy's Day. Dem's da rules (unwritten). We headed down to South Congress to hit the big stage at SXSJ (South by San Jose), another parking lot and just jammed full of folks. MrB was a hero and wiggled us up to the front, where we got to see Dawes for the last time. Here is a well-recorded video of one of their shows from the week.

We saw:
Caroline Brooks, Courrier, Seryn, The Preservation, Emily Reid, The Royalty, What Made Milwaukee Famous, Quiet Company, Dawes, Delta Spirit, John McCauley, Kopecky Family Band, Joe Fletcher & The Wrong Reasons, Quiet Life, The Lone Bellow, Guards, Foxygen, Michael Fracasso, Nels Andrews, Nathan Hamilton, Birds of Chicago, von Grey, Shakey Graves, Milk Carton Kids, The Dunwells, Billy Bragg, Jesca Hoop, Frightened Rabbit, Alt-J, Richard Thompson, Billy Bragg, The Relatives, The Mavericks, Emmylou Harris with Rodney Crowell, The Zombies, Trey Hawkins, Willie Nile, Sahara Smith, Heartless Bastards.

43 shows, 38 acts (a few more than once, accounting for there being more shows than acts).

A pig and a unicorn went downtown...

"Goodnight Austin Texas... wherever you are."
-- Frank Zappa, Armadillo World Headquarters, 1975
-- Jack White, Austin City Limits, 2012

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Day at the Park(ing Lot)

Friday was easily planned.
(A) Go to Waterloo Records.
(B) Stay all day.

Waterloo's SXSW day shows have outgrown the inside of their record store (which actually hosted Iggy Pop & the Stooges in 2007, INSIDE the store from a tiny stage), and have more recently been held in the parking lot. The line waiting to get in was about a block long, but we still did great and ended up on the front rail. It was at capacity all day, and you can see why from this stunning lineup:

Frightened Rabbit, Alt-J, Richard Thompson, Billy Bragg, The Relatives, The Mavericks, and Emmylou Harris/Rodney Crowell

The Mavericks featuring Raul Malo

All folks that I either already loved or was wanting to see for the first time (Alt-J being in that category). It was all great, and there were autograph opportunities after each performance, for those willing to lose their concert turf and go into the store, that is... someone not me.

Here's The Mavericks with one of their badass new songs:

The legendary Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell

My 70s Goddess - I've only seen her once before and it was from back in the cheap seats. These free 'seats' proved to be much better. A sweet day.

Hop, skip and jump around

Golden glitter cowboy boots had been wrapped around high wires in several places around town. How they got there is a mystery.

As yesterday, we started at the Paste party at the crack of noon. The first band was “von Grey,” which we knew absolutely nothing about… turns out they are a very listenable group of 4 young sisters who sing and play various acoustic instruments (very well), and for lack of a better description I would say they play contemporary pop/grass Americana with just a slight Nashville flavor. Wow - that was a genre salad. See what you think:

We left Paste (The Stages on Sixth) after von Grey and walked some blocks over to the Pandora Discovery Den, which is usually known as Antone’s nightclub (that is until it moves to the Eastside this week). They have great lineups as well, and it’s really pleasant and cool inside. Also, maybe a bit less crowded than some other places because you need to RSVP for a wristband (which is free) and they don’t have free refreshments. Anyway, it makes for a nice atmosphere. We saw Shakey Graves, an Austin-based singer/songwriter who I highly recommend - a little along the lines of John Fullbright and maybe some Ryan Bingham flavor in my opinion - lots of soul. We talked with his manager while we were waiting in line. He was a really nice guy from Canada, although his name escapes me.

Next up was the Milk Carton Kids from Los Angeles. They reminded me of Gillian Welch/Dave Rawlings (esp. Dave's guitar), Chad and Jeremy, early Simon and Garfunkel... and their stage banter was dry and funny like the Smothers Brothers. Sweet stuff.
Milk Carton Kids

We left Antone's and hiked over to the Whole Foods rooftop just in time to catch The Dunwells from Leeds UK. I really like those guys, they are good and lots of fun to watch too. Go and see them if you can. This picture looks pretty comical where the guitar player on the right in concerned.
The Dunwells

The East/West bus was uselessly slow, so we walked back to Antone's in time for Billy Bragg and Dawes (3rd time). I have wanted to see Billy Bragg for years. Checked another one off of the must-see list.
Billy Bragg

Yet another hike back west got us in to see Jesca Hoop, who has a beautiful and hypnotic vocal and guitar style. We sat cross-legged on the floor in a really terrible music venue for her, but during southby there is live music coming from every nook and cranny.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Wednesday Day Shift

It was hard to be at the bus stop, all packed for the day, at 9:30AM after not getting to bed until around 3:00 the same morning. On the bus ride ride in, there was a big thump of a noise in front of us. A motorcycle and car had collided right in front of the bus. The rider was wearing a helmet, and fortunately was able to be helped to the curb, possibly injured but alive. The driver of the car was an old man who I think was probably too old be still be operating such dangerous machinery - but tragedy was averted, as far as we could tell.

We started out at the Wednesday Paste party, they never fail to present a lineup that's very impressive in quality. The venue is a great place to see a band, there's a stage indoors and one outdoors in the back under a tent... and real working bathrooms (not a small benefit, esp. for a woman in the SXSW throngs). They also have (free while they last) t-shirts, good beer, and cold Honest Tea. Yum.

The Lone Bellow was one of our must-sees, and they blew us away. Spectacular! Three strong voices to make you tingle and swoon. Also saw Guards, Foxygen (a young band channeling some mid-sixties and sound and style), and then Dawes (again) (I will try to hold back the gushing for now).
The Lone Bellow



There was time for lunch at Koriente, a hike to the bus stop and headed south for Guero's Taco Bar courtyard - something called South-by-Soupfest, a benefit for the homeless shelter. It's a nice area for hanging out, big trees, picnic tables and benches, kids (and adults) romping it up and dancing. Watched several great local and not-so-local singer/songwriters before another of our must-see bands came up - Birds of Chicago (from Chicago and Canada). Soooo wonderful, so under the radar too. LOVE. Here's the scene right after sundown.

A fine day with beautiful weather.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Tuesday rowdiness

We went to the Dyn party last year, so this year when I RSVP'd they sent a code for VIP status. That meant that in addition to the free music we got free drinks, food, and swag (lighted tambourines, sunglasses, t-shirt, backpack, and hardcover journal), plus access to the side balconies where it was a teeny tiny bit less crowded.

A great, high-energy lineup, including Kopecky Family Band, John McCauley (Deertick, Diamond Rugs, Middle Brother) Delta Spirit and Dawes.

Delta Spirit's singer Matt Vasquez has been known to do some acrobatic stuff, and I hope he always makes it back down safely. Fun to watch... but OH NOOOOOOO!

First time to see John McCauley after wanted to see him for a year or so. This was the first of FOUR Dawes shows for us during SXSW, but I believe they played 14 times so it's not like we went to all of them. ;-) SXSW shows range from about 15 minutes to maybe 45, with most being a half-hour.

This was the hardest party to do for us because MrB had to work all day after getting up at 5:00am (not me though, I took Tuesday off). Then we hustled over to the bus transit center. The ride in went smoothly but the ride home with the "Night Owl route" (running on detours due to festival traffic), not knowing exactly where to catch it and then overshooting the transit center because - hey - I didn't not know they CLOSED it... sheesh... but we were walking on blisters after 7 hours of standing for music - and the half-hour commute took 2.5 hours.

Worth it? Yes.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Our day-party kickoff

We have already started our week-long SXSW music party as of yesterday. This one took place on the rooftop of the Whole Foods HQ, where it is always windy (and they really should install some turbines). It was a really good lineup with Seryn, What Made Milwaukee Famous, headliners Quiet Company and several others. I have already started working on my sunburn (or maybe this one is a windburn)! Here is Quiet Company:

Our next event is on Tuesday. Bring it.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Party business, it's March!

Hellloooo! Yes, I'm still alive and well - better than usual, in fact. My foot is healing up and it looks like I'm going to be left with some permanent aching and swelling, but it hurts less than the cyst that was removed, so I can live with it... at least I hope so.

We have not gone out as much for live music lately (have been cocooned in the house a lot, watching DVDs and such, even during nice weather... for shame!) but will make up for it in about a week when SXSW music kicks in. I have been very busy keeping track of all the day parties and their lineups, sending RSVPs and such, and making decisions soon. Lots of bands I love and some I want to see for the first time. Really going to try and see Dawes, The Lone Bellow, Emmylou Harris with Rodney Crowell, The Zombies (yup... returned from the 60s), Billy Bragg, maybe John Hiatt, maybe Divine Fits, maybe Birds of Chicago, Richard Thompson, The Dunwells, Delta Spirit, John McCauley, Josh Ritter, Alt-J... looking for wonderfulness and hoping our feet and backs hold up.

Someday, we will be too old for this.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Drive-by Lumbergh

Hello Peter. Whaaat's happening? Ummm, I'm gonna need you to go ahead come in tomorrow... so if you could be here around 9... that would be greaaat, mmkay? Oh oh, and I almost forgot ahh, I'm also gonna need you to go ahead and come in on.. Sunday too.. okay. We ahh lost some people this week and ah, we sorta need to play catch up.
Hello Peter. Whaaat's happening? Uhhh... we have sort of a problem here. Yeaaah, you apparently didn't put one of the new cover sheets on your TPS reports before they go out. Did you SEE the memo on this?
--yeah, yeah, I have the memo right here. I just forgot. But it's not shipping out until tomorrow, so it's no problem.
Yeeaaah, if you could just go ahead and make sure you so that from now on, that would be greaaat, and, uh, I make sure you go ahead and get another copy of that memo. Mmkay?

Happy Friday.

(photo taken while in the heavy traffic of evening rush hour)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Hot new americana folkie soul

About the only New Year's Resolutions I manage to keep is finding some new music to love. This first one is a band from Canada and Chicago, and are newly formed about a year ago. I missed them last year at SXSW but I see a mid-March gap in their tour so I've got high hopes of seeing them this year. Birds of Chicago. Here's how they describe themselves:
ALLISON RUSSELL'S clarion voice wraps around the broken country-soul croon of JT NERO, delivering their tales of hope, despair and... seahorses. Echoes of mountain gospel, doo wop, and classic soul, with back porch instrumentation.

Sounds about right. I just got their album on iTunes and it is all good.

Here's a band I find out about due to the ravings of
Paste Magazine
and NPR among others. The Lone Bellow. In the video below, their amazing vocal harmonies just tear up the place. There's more at the Paste and NPR links. Looks like there's a chance they might be breezing back this way in mid-March too (on tour with Ivan & Alyosha, another awesome 'discovery' band we found last SXSW).
Their album just came out this week, but I don't have it yet.

John Fullbright is an amazing singer and songwriter - so much heart and soul. He's one we discovered last year, saw him at a small acoustic venue and it was stunning. His album from 2012, "From the Ground Up," is his first studio album and it got a Grammy nomination. A lot of the songs on it are dealing with some religious conflicts - and don't we all know how that stuff can turn your head every which way but loose?!


Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Just in the past couple of weeks, there have been a couple of high-profile Austinites in the news, and first of all, I must say... I apologize. Please don't judge the rest of us based on a few big-time stinkers.

The first embarrassment is Alex Jones. You may have heard some of his bad crazy on the topic of guns via the rant on Piers Morgan. The Young Turks provide the highlight reel below. This is some really far out craziness:

Alex Jones is an Austin-based conspiracy theorist of THE most wild-eyed over-the-top variety. His website is InfoWars and his shows are called Prison Planet TV. His product is massive paranoia, and a lot of people are buying that nowadays.

The other local chaff is Lance Armstrong. He lives not even a mile from my commuter road. The level of excitement, admiration and inspiration that he brought to people with his amazing performance on the bike - coupled with being a cancer survivor who established a force for good such as the Livestrong Foundation - it was amazing. There have been plenty of athletes disgraced by steroids before, and we are all getting used to that kind of disappointment. I went through that whole Mark McGwire roller coaster when I lived in St. Louis, same kind of thing, but the added cancer-related part of the story elevated Lance to a much higher place in the public's eyes.
Some Livestrong participant/supporter postcards displayed.

Plus, he was just so damned convincing in the lies that most people refused to even entertain the accusations as anything more than mean-spirited jealousy... until they just wouldn't go away, the wheels started to come off. Trouble is, he didn't just wreck himself, his fall injures so many more - folks who really don't need anything else beating down their hopes and dreams.

This is being written the night before the 2-part Oprah confession is revealed, and I am interested in what he is going to say. My prediction is that along with his confession he will point the finger at everything else possible, and I do believe that professional sports are highly poisoned by power, money, cheating, and absolutely wrong-headed priorities. Truly.