Wednesday, December 12, 2007

World Premiere Night for Great Uncle Helmer

I had a definite mandate in mind when Karl arrived at my house to rehearse last Sunday. I wanted to do new songs. Mine, his, ours, whatever. So we rehearsed a bunch of new stuff and played it tonight at Dunn Bros. on Grand Avenue in St. Paul. It was great.

Complete Setlist (with link back to this blog)

It was the most new songs we have played since the first GUH show 15 years ago.

"Dirty, Ishy, Sharp, Wet, and Hot", written from the perspective of a one year old, prompted a stranger to come up and share her experiences as a parent and say how much she liked the song. That confirmed my feeling during the song that I was really connecting with some people.

I think Karl's "I Miss You" will become a favorite of mine because of its quirky bass part, which Karl wrote but I get to play. "Tugging at Strings" and "Cub Cubota" were maybe not as successful tonight, but I have confidence they will be great eventually, as they are great songs with some great circular Karl lines. Check this out from "Tugging at Strings" - "Fear is the force that is forcing your face to the window to watch for the things that you fear."

"Isolation For Christmas" brought everyone down and drew complaints, as it should. Well, guess what! That was the edited version as Karl was uneasy with some of the hateful words I actually wrote it with. The truly dark version will be on our Christmas CD, should that ever be finished. But really, it's about caring for people that care for you back in ways that really matter. And Karl's harmony part blows my mind with its Garfunky beauty.

"Powerful Statement" felt really great live. It is much more fun that way than it is practicing it at home. I think as our last song it made a great lead in to the Doc's Kids part of the show. I actually hooked deeply in to the emotion of the song tonight and found quite a bit there to be had. It sort of became true as I sang it.

For anyone who was there and wondering, the near fainting at the end of the song was quite real. I had nothing left after a long day (and some of the previous night) of child care and saw stars and became weak in the knees. I was WRUNG OUT, people! What a fun show.

Doc's Kids were great, as they always are. Maybe some lyrics were blown when they aren't usually, but that was more than made up for by the expressive, melodic trombone solos BPZ was playing. He closed his eyes and let out these intuitive streams of melody that expanded on the songs. I know I've enjoyed his solos before, but tonight somehow took it to a different, very soulful place. Been woodshedding, Z? Was it because I hit you with a banana and made you sad, soulful, and vengeful? (Yes, it was me.)

To top it off, Justin presented me with a collapsible keyboard stand after the show. Now when I play my Technics SX-K700 PCM Keyboard at his rock shows I don't have to bring the cumbersome, decidedly non-collapsible stand. Don't get me wrong, I have great affection for the old stand and the keyboard-securing screws it came with (and which I've managed to not lose for 20 years), but that thing was smacking us in the head from the backseat of his truck when we carpooled to the latest J. Bell show.

Finally, I exchanged some very sincere compliments with Mischa of Mighty Fairly, whose "Hang The Tinsel When" is possibly my favorite original Christmas song on the new Toys for Tots CD. I hadn't really met him before.

I don't know how many toys we got for Toys For Tots. It didn't seem like very many. I am hopeful that we will get more at Eden Prairie on Friday. Go to the show and bring a toy! Get all the information you need right there. Yeah!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Just in case you were excited about that Memphis Evans solo show advertised a couple entries ago let me make clear that it is NOT happening. It has been canceled. For rescheduling information, should any rescheduling happen, click here.

Friday, November 30, 2007

I don't usually recommend videos, not even the one of me doing laps in the backyard inflatable pool (Note: I am not officially confirming the rumor that there is an internet video of me doing laps in the backyard inflatable pool), but this made me laugh so, SO hard. My throat hurts, yet I think I will watch it again. I have not felt such pure joy at an internet video since Cat, I'm A Kitty Cat and I Dance Dance Dance and I Dance Dance Dance. Enjoy.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Memphis Evans Solo Show!

Here's the deal. I have a solo show coming up December 7. (info) I'm very excited. These only happen once in a great while and then only by accident. Yes, when it comes to booking my own shows, I really put the Lazy back in Lazy Susan Band. It's all for charity, too. Toys For Tots. So bring a toy and get a free CD with exclusive material from Great Uncle Helmer, Doc's Kids, and several other bands.

In this case (as has been the case for the most part) it was a potential GUH show that Karl could not make. I am opening for The Lazy Susan Band and Doc's Kids, so not a lot of pressure or anything, as I know those guys will carry the show, especially in their hometown. Still, I want the Memphis section to be as special as it is rare.

I started rehearsing this week. I finished an acceptable version of "Powerful Statement", which will make its live debut at this show. That's a song my wife actually had the initial idea for and got the writing started. It's based on the Kelly Clarkson formula and comments on itself in lieu of actual lyrics about a direct object or feeling.

This will also be the debut of lots of songs I've written in the last few years that I'm really proud of but that no one has really heard. "Walk Backwards", "Echo Some Tune", "Dirty, Ishy, Sharp, Wet, and Hot", "I'll Actually Love You Forever", and several others are making me really excited about playing. I'm going to try to get a CD and chord sheets to Justin so he can back me up on some of these, but I'm not promising that will happen. I'll play some old stuff as well and of course will take time for requests. After all, what is a show without an audience?

Well, it's a rehearsal. A rehearsal for which everyone has to drive far and someone gets stuck carting a PA to. As I've often learned the hard way. So come on out to the Winona, MN Acoustic Café on Lafayette and support the live!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

I am now an eBay seller. I have so much useless junk in my basement and in my parents' basement. I much incredible, undervalued, potentially treasured memorabilia!! Did I say junk? Is this junk to you?

Nooooo. Not junk. Well worth the quarter it cost me to list it. Buy it now for $9.99!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Fox 9 News: Only Slightly Misleading!

So on Tuesday night the local Fox affiliate had two vans, a towering antenna, bright lights, and the talent (Maury Glover) all set up to show the debris from trees on our front lawn. The debris was used to illustrate a story about recent thunderstorm damage. This was slightly misleading. Here's the backstory.

On Saturday morning at 3:23 a.m. (I woke up immediately) half of the giant tree in our BACK yard fell directly between our shed and our house, a perfect fall for which we are very thankful. It crushed a third of our back yard fence and took out our power, phone, and cable lines. Our usual friendly contractor, who built our bedroom addition and deck, had a crew out chopping up the fallen half and taking down the remaining half of the tree the next day. A tree in our FRONT yard, untouched by the storm, had a similar trunk "fault line" and was deemed likely to fall on the house in a similar future storm, so we had them start taking that one down too.

By Tuesday evening they had done quite a number on it and its branches were scattered around the front yard. This is the debris you see surrounding and menacing the Fox 9 reporter. If they had panned up only a LITTLE bit higher, you would have seen the suspiciously neat cuts of the chainsaws. It was definitively not storm debris and these particular branches had actually damaged nothing. He does say "branches like these" did the damage, so it's not technically an inaccurate report.

It was exciting to see our house on TV and we would have taped it except that, of course, our cable is still out and our VCR doesn't do so well with the plain old airwaves.

Watch the story!

Happy Elvis Week everybody!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Anyone ever play the video game "The Sims"? I was booting up the internets, sitting at a desk looking out a window of my house. A woman pulled up in a minivan, parked in the street, obviously intending to go to the park across the street. She seemed somewhat out of sorts and was apparently moving a child safety seat from one seat in her car to another, a frustrating process with which I am familiar. Anyway, another woman pulled up behind her and she also looked a little sad. It is an overcast day - the kind of day where Dr. Bob would have had to give us a pep talk in Viking Chorus to keep us from singing flat and slow.

So then the two women started talking. I was vaguely listening to them, but the nice weatherproof window here kept me from hearing actual words. They sounded exactly like Sims. And as they talked, their moods both improved. By the time they were ready to walk together over to the volleyball court, they were talking loud, laughing and slapping each other on the back. I imagined pop up menus had appeared next to both of them and someone had set them to "" It was very funny if you've ever played Sims.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

This articulates and explains clearly something I have struggled with for years:

What a great article. I remember mixing and mastering the Urban Rust and Jubilant Dogs CDs and being frustrated at my seeming inability to match the volume of, say, They Might Be Giants' John Henry, which has always struck me as a singularly loud, monolithic slab of continuous volume.

The problem comes when a J. Dogs or UR fan who is also a TMBG fan (someone like me, for example) is listening to their iPod (okay, I don't have or want an iPod) on shuffle and they turn up for something I've produced, then get blown away when some latter day TMBG comes on next. Youch! This is exactly why I don't have an iPod. I'm still waiting for the great leap forward where this problem will somehow be solved.

Monday, May 14, 2007

"I'm at the library. What's up?"

Should answering your phone with this phrase not give you pause? As you are saying "I'm at the library" do you not think "Perhaps I should get off my damn self important phone so people can enjoy that special public peace that is now the exclusive province of libraries." If you're three people in the last five minutes here at Ridgedale, no you do not.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Well, I guess google bought blogger so now I have a google account. That sucks, but I didn't want to start a new blog somewhere else. Anyway, here's what I was going to say.

I am watching the end of Elvis' "duet" with Celine Dion from American Idol on youtube. It is interesting and I'm glad I watched it. Nothing I have ever seen better exhibits why I love Elvis with all my heart and feel, at best, indifferent to Ms. Dion. Elvis is very obviously pouring everything he has into the song, which played a major role in turning his career around. He seems to be holding nothing back. He has thought about what he is saying and he is saying it as if his life depended on his fans getting it. Whether it is true or not, and I think it is, to watch Elvis during this performance (as I have several times) is to look directly into his soul.

In sharp contrast to the American country boy giving everything he has to a song he believes in and conveys every word of, Ms. Dion is exposed more than ever as a distant, if arguably virtuosic, technician. She reveals nothing of herself, neither feeling nor conveying any meaning beyond her robotic conveyance of the notes. I'm glad I watched it and I need never watch it again. God bless you, Elvis.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Check out this quote (from this article) then check out my thoughts below.

"And I wasn't there, either, when Roger Clemens won his 300th game," Selig said afterward, declining in a small scrum to commit to being there when Bonds passes Aaron. "It's something I'll determine at some point."

Here's a thought. You're the comissioner of baseball. You are (presumably) a baseball fan. You can get great tickets or a skybox to see Barry Bonds break the all time career home run record. At no cost to you. Wouldn't you WANT to be at that game? Some people will pay hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars to be at that game. And yet, from this article, it seems Selig is reluctant to commit to going to the game. Selig's done some great things (interleage play, geographic restructuring of divisions, etc.) but sometimes I find him baffling (this article) or even awful (attempted contraction of the Twins).
Response to Chazz Vader's "Tag, You're It".

Chazz Requested I write a journal entry with six facts about myself. Very well.

1. I feel a constant drive to exploit my talent and accomplish something in the musical arena. Yet, whatever I actually accomplish, whatever I do to feed this drive, so far it has never felt like enough, mainly because everything has failed to reach a large enough audience. The process of creating music is its own reward, of course. And creating a great recording is enjoyable for its own sake independent of its audience. Still, I have begun to wonder if it is worth the time and money it takes to do such things.

2. I love being a full time father. In contrast to the pursuit of some sort of audience or money for my music, being a father is incredibly, immediately rewarding every day that I really throw myself into it, which is most days.

3. I have been a great employee only once. Most of my jobs working for other people have been spectacular failures with great stories to match. However, when I was self-employed I was arguably my town's best private guitar teacher. (See also #2.)

4. I just spilled coffee on myself for the second time in as many days. At least none went on the computer.

5. Of the literally hundreds of recordings I've made of my own songs the three that haunt me the most are "An Alien Comes To Earth And Joins A Softball League", "Pop Tab Town", and "Exactly And Rover". I just realized that this is possibly because they describe my actual life, albeit in slightly metaphorical terms.

6. I have my wife to thank for encouraging me to go to Europe and I have incredibly warm feelings about both (very different) trips. In Codaesti, Romania we cared for 0-3 year olds in a (very) rural clinic. In Ibiza, Spain we enjoyed great food, beaches, mini golf on concrete, bowling, and our honeymoon in general. I can't wait to go there with our kids someday.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Absolute: Episode 3: The Greatest Vanity License Plate of All Time

The greatest vanity license plate of all time was recently spoted by me. It is:


If you have read Richard Adams' magnificient Watership Down then you already laughed. If you have not read it or if you do not remember reading it well enough to have laughed, it is this book right here.

Of course, you can get it free at your local library.