Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Secret to a Great GUH Show

Some variation on "Great GUH Show" is, I believe, the most common headline at this blog. Tonight we played at the Bean Factory (proudly serving J&S Coffee) on the south side of Randolph Avenue just east of Snelling in St. Paul. The young man working there welcomed us to the place and got a space cleared out for us to set up. It doesn't seem like that would make such a huge difference but it totally does. I've played places where everyone working there seemed to feel that the music was a nuisance and this was the opposite of that and I appreciate it.

We had enough people show up that the place was full. There were always people paying attention and enjoying the show. People requested stuff we knew and stuff we wrote. A kid requested several songs I knew from my days as a guitar teacher and I mumbled my way through Heart Shaped Box and explained that being a guitar teacher in the 1990s means that I know all the guitar parts for that song but none of the lyrics.

Karl played and sang great. We rehearsed for a couple hours before the show and went back to some rarely played stuff off 1997's old man will travel, our first CD. We did pretty strong versions of our recent Christmas material. We did the minute song, holding the final note to make it exactly a minute, watching the second hand of the clock near the stage, a live variation on the tacked-on, backwards intro of the recorded version. We finished with We'll Go On Forever, Foreign Movie, and finally Powerful Statement. We had people that weren't previously acquainted with us buy the Toys For Tots CD, raising $48 in cash and checks and taking home a big box of toys.

Modest goals perhaps, but they were thoroughly and well met. (I'm listening to Elvis' "So Close, Yet So Far" right this moment, my iTunes set to shuffle, and it occurs to me that I should use a delayed electric guitar obligato sometime. That descending riff in the right channel on the chorus is such a cool sound on that song. So is the descending, delay drenched electric riff in the Monkey Eat Monkey version of Flip Nasty's "No One Could". Anyway...) The place was relatively small, but it was a great GUH show and afterward Karl and I stood out by our cars talking about what makes a great GUH show and to some extent it's the music but we can play music alone at our houses. What really makes a GUH show great is the people.

So! Sincere thanks to everyone who came and supported the live music scene that matters most to me - my own! The staff of the coffeshop who welcomed us, the totally unexpected, spontaneous man (also named Karl) who opened our show for us singing That's Amore with his mandolin and telling us about his experience moving a piano and a truck, the people who enjoyed our music and supported the Toys For Tots drive, and of course my man Karl who set it all up and played his heart out like he always does.

And we'll see you tomorrow night! (Incidentally, I'm going to try to recquaint myself with some of the material we tried tonight that didn't work as well as it could have. I'm thinking here of Foreign Movie and Bass Guitar.) Sunday, November 29, 5-7 p.m., Eden Prairie Dunn Bros. at the historic Smith-More House. Full information. See ya!

p.s. Here's something extremely weird. Our old man will travel CD is available from resellers at and people are trying to get $40 and much more for it. I have two questions: a) Why? and b) Are people actually paying these prices? I have sent the following e-mails to the sellers:

Hi (seller name),

I am in the band that created this CD. Just out of curiosity, are you actually selling any copies of the CD at these prices? I notice a lot of people selling it for a lot of money and am wondering if there is some collector market for it that I am unaware of or whether it's some kind of marketing strategy? Just wondering. Thanks.


I'll keep you updated when I hear back.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

In The Year 2021

Hello! Come in! Sit down. You're here to see which one, now? Oh, yes. Ah. Let me tell you a story from when she was only two years old - that's what parents do, isn't it? Hm.

So anyway, she ate a berry off a yew bush in the backyard. Not a big deal, as we found out from poison control, until you eat three or more, then you can get sick. Now I didn't have anything against that bush, but I knew that girl and I knew if she'd tried it once she was likely to try it again and maybe eat three or four or twenty of those little red berries. So I took pret' near every tool in the garage and went AFTER those bushes!

First I sawed off all their limbs with a saw and a pruning shears. It was a hot afternoon, but I didn't care. I was sweatin' and workin' and once I had most of the bush all sawed off I started HACKING away at the soil and the roots with a pitchfork and a shovel. It was rocky soil and I could only loosen it up, even with those tools, so I just had to get in there with my hands and rip those rocks out of there. I tore them out and just kept SMASHING and CUTTING with the pitchfork and the shovel blade.

Finally after my hands had gone all black and my nails were breaking and bleeding I grabbed what was left of that bush and I ROARED - I actually ROARED! - me, a sophisticated, modern guy, and I threw that mutilated root ball halfway across my yard as I finally wrenched it out of the earth. OH MY, but it felt good!

Whew! Like I said, I didn't have anything against those bushes, but once I realized they were a danger to my daughter they were in tiny pieces in the garbage can within twenty-four hours. Now I still got ALL those tools out in my garage and the question I wanna ask you, young man, is this: Are you a danger to my daughter?

Thursday, August 06, 2009

A Brand New Song!

This is a totally new song I am very excited about. You can listen to it and download it for free.

It's Not About The Words

Clicking on the song's title above will take you to, where I have an artist page. The page includes complete lyrics and exclusive song information. This is the best way I have found to give you, my friend, my music here on the internet. Enjoy!


I also had some communication with an old classmate about the essay I wrote about the Great Uncle Helmer CD old man will travel. I went through and tried to make all the verb tenses match, which they hadn't, and then added the communication to the end of the essay. Why not listen to your copy of old man will travel while you read this essay? Spend the evening with Karl and Me.

Read the essay here


Buy the album

And here's a tip: Don't pay more than $10. Good grief! Some people are trying to get $50-70 for this. Good luck.

This has been "new stuff", once a page at, now a blog.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Some Promotional Thing

So this kind of might promote my song "Yeah, Hey, Alright, Rock and Roll, Whoo!" or it might not. But I'm curious to see what this link takes you to, so check it out with me if you wish.

Yeah, Hey, Alright, Rock and Roll, Whoo! (link no longer exists)

Or it might just promote myspace and toyota, two things I am increasingly indifferent about.

PostScript: Okay, that's actually kind of cool. If you haven't heard that song already, check it out. I've now posted it to facebook and myspace, as can you.

Fraud, Anyone?

Let's pretend you're a band. Now let's pretend you're a band that has some people in it who played the Minneapolis songs on Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks album. Now let's pretend you call yourself "Blood On The Tracks Live" and distribute flyers and merchandise with that name. Do you think people coming to see you play would expect you to play songs from any particular album? Any album at all?

Let me help you out here. If you call yourself "Blood On The Tracks Live" and make a big deal about having people in your band who played on the album "Blood On The Tracks" then people who come to see you are going to expect to hear songs from...wait for's a Bob Dylan album...from the mid '70s...that some of you allegedly played's in your band name...?

No? No idea? Okay, well then never mind. Fool me once shame on me, or you, or whatever that is.

Maybe they did "Buckets of Rain" as their third encore but I'll never know because I was done with them. Final question: Idiot Wind - Wind = ?

Update: July 17, 2009
Umm...nevermind. There was a front page article in the next local paper about how they played a final set with local hero Dan Israel singing a whole slew of Dylan tunes. I had left by then, but "Buckets of Rain" was indeed among the tunes.

Also, never, ever purchase or consume a Chelada. (Commercially available mix of Clamato (yum!) and Bud Light.) Yuck. And never pour it out on a napkin just to see what it looks like. You don't want to know what it looks like.

Monday, June 29, 2009

That Dude Deserves A Medal

So let's say there's this dude and he's been married about seven years or so, right? Right about the time the proverbial itch may be kicking in. And let's say this dude is in a rock band and that they're playing like 250 miles away from home. Then let's say both nights were totally dead until the last two sets of the second night, when the dance floor explodes. With me so far?

So then there show up these two women with no wedding rings on their hands let's say. Before the last set they start getting all up in the dude's space, rubbing his back and telling him he should smile more, loosen up, have fun, quit looking at his watch onstage, etc. Right? Are you picking up the vibe I'm trying to convey? It's not that hard.

So during the final set, when the dude knows he has pretty much guaranteed access to his own private hotel room that night should he so desire, these two women are staring at him, pointing at him when he smiles, and dancing with each other in a suggestive way. And let me note that these women are not skanky or unattractive. They look good is what I'm saying. Sweet even.

So end of set and this dude is sitting on the edge of the stage waiting to get paid, having loaded his stuff and that of his band into the truck. One of these women comes and sits right next to him, all touching her leg to his and so forth talking about how she often tries to help her friend get hooked up. That doesn't seem like it would be that hard, thinks the dude, but the dude doesn't say that because that might be suggestive. Then the cute friend herself comes and sits right behind the dude and is all making contact with his back and so forth. So what does that dude do?

That dude, with inspiration from the John Travolta/Vincent Vega speech into the bathroom mirror after the Jackrabbit Slim's dance contest, politely gets up and says "See you, uh...later" and walks out the door and drives away. Let me explain that that dude is not some shrinking violet who is afraid of the ladies. No, he is no stranger to such things and can vividly imagine what, if the vibe he is getting is right on, these two women want. See what happened here? See what I'm getting at?

That dude shrugs it off and drives straight home, through the night, to his wife and kids. And guess what? That dude deserves a medal, a cookie, and a day named after him. Damn.

Monday, June 15, 2009

New Straw Dogs Material

Hey, check this out. Readers will remember when I found an address for Rob van Vliet and sent, more or less, a fan letter conveying my fondness for "If This Is Crazy" and "Clown Car" from the Larson Coffeehouse tape on which I also appeared and asking whether he'd recorded anything else. He set up a download site for a sampler of his material and now has added more.

Three Free Albums!

Good stuff. Here is a quote from Rob:

Jason says that if you link to our music download page from your blog, he would appreciate if you call attention to the lo-fi nature of these recordings (something I've already done on the download page, but it's a caveat worth repeating, I think).

Done. That's never bothered me much.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Fun Show in the Rain

Around 1:45 this afternoon I loaded up my car with PA and drums and drove to Grantsburg, WI. I got there with over an hour to spare, so walked around "downtown", which was nearby and somewhat deserted, and meditated on a bench facing Memory Lake, which was where we were playing, inspiring and beautiful. Karl and Bill showed up a little before 5 and we set up as Pete arrived, then Andy. We had quite a big crowd, maybe 70 people on lawn chairs. We were at the edge of a picnic pavilion facing out.

The crowd bought food and ate. I think the money went to a charity maybe. We played well for several songs then it started to absolutely pour. We lost much of the crowd, but the pavilion became immediately packed with people. I was then sitting at a picnic bench facing away from them, as was Bill. Karl, Andy, and Pete turned around to face them. It was an interesting way to continue the show.

We didn't play our entire set, which was fine. Karl picked the songs for the most part, and we skipped "Gone To Stay", "Devil", and "Muddy Water", which made sense as I was facing away from the crowd. Also, my throat was a little sore. We did do "The Day", which showcases my vocals and got a big positive reaction. "Total Peace" and its extended electric banjo solo drew much deserved post-solo clapping from the attentive crowd. That's always cool. We wrapped up with "Into The West", which now features a swooping bass riff I love to just sit still and listen to.

The people that stayed around in the rain had a lot of fun and we did too. Thanks to the organizers of Grantsburg's music in the park series and thanks to my bandmates and all who came to listen.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Ten Bands You Have All Their Albums Of (Part 2)

Recently added to the list:
Flip Nasty
El Squeako

and as soon as I get Suck Pumpkin:
Splat Monkey

Make sense? Good. It's good stuff and you should have it, too.
Go check it out.

Thank you Cody!

Friday, May 22, 2009

End of an Era?

I heard the new Republican Party mouthpiece say forcefully on the radio that "the era of apologizing for Republican mistakes is over." This announcement was greeted with applause, presumably from other Republicans.

The obvious question to me was as follows: When did this era of apology begin? I don't remember hearing of an apology from, let's say, George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, or any of the other war criminals whose grave misdeeds hung heavy and obviously over the new mouthpiece's announcement. Did I miss a whole era? I guess it's my fault if I did, because I don't really like paying attention to the news. I only happened to catch that fantastic announcement flipping through stations in the car.

So yes, I remember the long, long era of costly, deadly mistakes, but I don't remember the era of apologizing for them.

P.S. I also love the idea that declaring that something is over makes it over, a Republican classic. (Mission accomplished?) I hope the next declaration is that the Dow is back into five figures.

Monday, May 04, 2009

The Other Jubilant Dogs Were Right

I remember one time in high school when I was inviting a girl to Young Life with the goal of helping her to know Jesus. Without smiling at all she said, "David Bowie is my god." I could tell she meant it. I did not know what to say and she never did come to Young Life although we remained friends.

Flash forward 19 years. David Bowie is probably not going to rise to deity in my personal pantheon, but only because I reserve that distinction for my main god, God. "Life On Mars?" is my current favorite song by someone other than me. (My current favorite song by me is called "When, If Ever" and will be available before terribly long if I can get my computer to stop skipping like a 45 long enough to mix it. Yes, that is what happened last time I opened the session.) Anyway, how did I not get more music by this man called Bowie until now?

The point being that in 1997 I wrote a song called "Andy Warhol" with no idea David Bowie had written a song by that title in 1971. In the early '00s Jubilant Dogs were getting together for a practice/adding new songs session. We e-circulated our lists of songs people wanted to add. I was thrilled to see that someone wanted to add the song "Andy Warhol" and eagerly typed up chord sheets and a lyric sheet (such as it is – the lyrics merely consist of the title repeated several times, interspersed with "ooooh"s) for the singers. I didn't know how they'd heard my song, since I hadn't played it for anyone in the band yet. I was unhappy to find that they had actually never heard of my song. My excitement dashed, I was subsequently disinclined to play the complex sounding David Bowie song I'd never heard before.

Flash forward six or seven years. Today I was listening to Bowie's album Hunky Dory for the fourth or fifth time this week. His song called "Andy Warhol" came on and I thought to myself, "This would have been great for Jubilant Dogs." My bad.

Mickey Mouse has grown up a cow.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

What is Your Favorite Ten Years of Music?

If you could ONLY listen to music from ten continuous years, which ten continuous years would they be and why? Also, who would you miss most that was not recording during those years? It does not have to be a strict decade like 1990-1999 and mine is not. It does have to be ten continuous years. I've thought about it a lot and my answer will be posted in a while. If you think you know me well, guess mine. That could be fun.

Hey, also this: I'm looking for a book of illustrated, accurate, intelligent bible stories for preschoolers. I'm scanning amazon and my library but if anyone has a really great one they know and love let me know.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Culture Roundup

Well, if you like movies at all and live within forty miles of Minneapolis, you owe it to yourself to go to The Heights Theater at least once in your life. I went recently on sort of a spur of the moment thing and saw Phantom Lady from 1944. It was wonderful. There was live organ music for about a half hour beforehand. Magical!

Here's a tip: order the Heights Special – I didn't look carefully and got a large popcorn and a small pop – for a quarter more than I would have paid for a large popcorn and a large pop. To their credit, they did not point this out to me and try to change my order. They let me be dumb.


If you are a Paul McCartney fan you should check out "The McCartney Years" 3 DVD set. Put disc one on your netflix if nothing else. Some of the commentary is hilarious and/or poignant. At one point McCartney (2007) is watching McCartney (1980) walking in front of an arctic set and there's a polar bear. "I think there was a trench in between the bear and me…oh, yes. There's the water erupting from the trench." Maybe it's in his delivery. He's just like, "Oh, yeah, that time I was walking around next to a polar bear and of course water erupted from the trench between us. Naturally." So casual.

At one point in the "Silly Love Songs" video McCartney (1976) is goofing for the camera, walking with Linda, together looking like the coolest rock stars the world has ever produced, and Linda points her thumb at him and looks at the camera with a good-natured "long suffering" look. Paul (2007) says on the commentary, "Yes, he's a nutter, Linda."


On a related note, I was recently asked, "Could Linda McCartney really sing?" I answered somewhat less than unequivocally, but I've thought about it a lot since then. Yes. The answer is an unqualified yes. It's a shame that that awful clip of her isolated backing vocal from a 1989 live version of "Hey, Jude" got so much airplay. It was simply an artifact of poor engineering, rather like the 2004 "Dean Scream" that may or may not have given us an extra four deadly years of Dubya.

Nearly three decades of beautiful harmonies (often along with Denny Laine) and the very good compilation of her own compositions and lead vocals on the album Wide Prairie are far more representative of an artist who is sometimes unfairly maligned. Pick up any Wings album and you'll realize that the sound of the vocals – Paul, Linda, and Denny – really makes the music soar. (I recommend Band on the Run for first timers and London Town or Venus And Mars if you've already got BotR.)


In books, I must endorse Revolutionary Road. I love it. It is most reminiscent of John Updike's Rabbit books, but set in 1955 and with a deadly dry wit. Some people might say it is depressing but I say life is often depressing and this book is the accurate depiction of exactly how and why. It helps to have Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet in my mind as the leads and I plan to move the movie to the top of my netflix now. The characters were so very real and heartbreaking. Terrific. Get on the waiting list for it NOW at your local library as it is very popular.


Final note: If you haven't seen any of the "Drunk History" episodes at you should really check them out. I laughed so hard I couldn't speak. Partly because I know I couldn't do any better at reciting those things even if I were sober.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Ten Bands You Have All Their Albums Of

This was an interesting one to me and I could spend untold hours documenting in detail exactly which albums I have and why the ones I don't have don't count (This means you, Yellow Submarine (original version), which actually now that I think about it I bought on LP in high school) but here is the short version of what could have become a compulsive time suck. Minimum is three albums (Sorry Jubilant Dogs fans except for Stu who has a live disc and a rarities collection).

10. The Velvet Underground
9. Kaptain Karl
8. Scot Ninnemann
7. Great Uncle Helmer
6. Evan Johnson (Yes, there are three - if you do not have the five disc "The Evan Johnson Anthology" you are missing out.)
5. Simon & Garfunkel/Paul Simon (unless you count "The Paul Simon Songbook", longtime inhabitant of my amazon wish list, but not something I actually strongly desire or need)
4. Billy Joel
3. Kirsty MacColl
2. Bob Dylan
1. The Beatles

Anyone else? What's interesting is that I think there are exactly ten bands I have all their albums of.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Really Great Mississippi Seven Show Helps Raise $1200

I loaded up the car and left around 2:30. When I got to the Franconia Sculpture Garden around 3:10 I realized I had plenty of time so I walked all around the snowy, expansive art space and was transported and edified by it all. It was quite wonderful. I did not realize how many smaller works there were there, complimenting the giant ones you can see from the highway.

I got to Hog Wild, a terrific barbecue joint and meeting hall (pun intended), around 4:30 and someone kind directed me to the room we were to play in. It was big – bigger than the rooms J. Bell usually books and all I had was my little coffeehouse PA. I set up everything I could and hoped for the best. Karl arrived around 5 and the rest of the guys trickled in over the next hour. Karl and I discussed the PA and I realized I was in a similar setting to the J. Bell shows but a very different situation requiring a different kind of show. It was all going to be fine.

Who all was there? The entire band, along with friends and family, and a totally packed room of excited people of all ages. During our first set kids were breakdancing, adults were normaldancing and singing along, and the band was playing great. We had plenty of space, adequate time to set up, soundcheck, and eat dinner. It may have been our best show yet, in fact I'm fairly certain it was.

During soundcheck Karl announced that his new "Ballad of Iver's Mountain" was in G. In rehearsal on Tuesday it was in D, which I knew because my chorus harmony starts on the high tonic (a.k.a. the note D in the key of D) and while D is within my range, G is pushing it. I said that it had been in D on Tuesday. He disagreed. I said, "It's no big deal. We can do it in G," strongly implying that's not where it was Tuesday without going in to how I knew that for sure. He diffused whatever tension may have been arising by saying, "Just let me have this one." I laughed and said "Okay. Cling to your sweet illusion." It sounds like I was being snotty, but it was good natured.

When we played "The Ballad of Iver's Mountain" the response was tremendous. It was a little like Johnny Cash playing "San Quentin" at San Quentin or "Folsom Prison" at Folsom Prison. We sang chorus after chorus and so did the crowd. Images of quarries and rocky, dusty explosions played on a video loop projected onto the wall behind us all night. Strangely, some of the quarry images were very beautiful and some of the images of Iver's Mountain as it stands were sort of generic and dull looking. It was not terribly effective as propaganda but Karl's mom said it made some interesting juxtapositions with our lyrics. We ended up playing "Iver's Mountain" a second time for an encore at the very end of the night, around 10:15 or so.

On "California" I held the last note as long as I could, which got to be pretty long. I pretend-collapsed and Pete, reading my mind, came over with my coat as a James Brown cape thing, which was cool. I threw it off and cued the last few notes.

"The Devil Is Knocking at the Door" was very effective. I did a bit of a Devil voice, overdid the deadpan laconitude of the Memphis voice, and spoke as clearly as I could. I saw that Karl's mom and cousin were listening and laughing, which made me care even more about the debut live performance of the tune.

On "Loving You" Pete played the drums, wailing on the snare on beat one. It was mercilessly weird and totally inappropriate but that was okay. Andy played drums and I played bass on "Theme From Honigman" which minor rearrangement was a great spur-of-the-moment suggestion by A. Hon. I got to stretch my legs and dance a bit and he is no worse on the drums than I am. "Total Peace" became a showcase for Pete's electric banjo and its conversation with my drums. It was an awesome jam and ended our first set on a definite high note.

Shortly before the end of the first set Bill's keyboard somehow reset itself, eliminating the piano sound and leaving him with only a synth horn patch to play. Technical wizard Bill programmed a new piano sound during the set break, reminding me of his similarly day saving rescue of the DVD player at one of our Cafe Wren outdoor shows, which gave people the option to remain after our set to watch Kung Fu Hustle and be eaten alive by mosquitoes.

The second set had substantially fewer people and I'd lost a meat raffle (which I entered to support Bride on her Atkins diet), blowing six bucks. But I'd had more beer, generously purchased in pitcher format by Pete, and a six dollar second helping of barbecue which I only pretended to pay for, so it was good in its own slightly drunk way. Between the opening vocal notes of "There Stands the Glass" and putting the hammer down on the song proper I paused to stick the lyric sheet on my kick drum, then dropped one of my brushes by accident, then mentioned that I couldn't honestly say any drink was my "first one today". It was funny. To me.

A delighted one year old came up and walked among us for the last four or five songs. I gave him a drum brush and he periodically hit my drums with it but mostly just walked around and waved it and danced. It was great. I played the snare with my bare left hand. I only took the brush back for "Muddy Water" which requires my full attention and whose dynamics I took to the usual ridiculous extremes.

I had good conversations with everyone, plenty of food, drink, time to play, good response from people listening, and we helped raise $1200 to fund the campaign to save Iver's Mountain. I understand the previous fundraiser made $800, so I was glad to hear we compared well.

Another positive was that a reputable newspaper of record ran a story with a full color picture of all seven of us and a quote from Leonard "Shotgun" Johnson, our leader, saying how pleased we were to be back in Luck and helping a worthy cause. This is wonderful validation for the band, given the persistent rumors of Shotgun's non-existence. Of course, he was not at last night's show because he'd spent the night out on Iver's Mountain in a private vigil, causing his fingers to become frostbitten to the extent that he could not play his mandolin. I bought my own copy of that paper for the archives, plus popcorn, jerky, and gatorade, on the way out of Wisconsin.

Got home a little before 1 a.m. and unloaded PA, drums, etc. from car. Started "A Place Of Exile" (story 2 of 3) in Star Trek: Myriad Universes: Infinity's Prism but didn't get very far due to exhaustion. Loved previous story about T'Pol, Pike, Kirk, Sarek, and his near-twin Romulan Commander who marvelously remains unnamed. It was a wonderful night. Thanks to everyone who came out and especially to all my bandmates who worked so hard to make it as good as it was.

Check out the setlist if you wish.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Shock, Pride

There were these two people talking near me in the library, obviously a tutoring situation. (Speaking of which, was that a comma splice?) I have been listening to them for about a half hour. I could not see them due to the configuration of the library's infrastructure. I had this whole thing built up in my mind about how they looked. It was an effeminate guy tutoring a jock. Fascinating undercurrents of maybe the guy being tutored (who was having his fair share of trouble) maybe being homophobic and resenting the tutoring but knowing he needs it because he knows he's slow and resenting that even more.

Then - shock! The guy I thought was the effeminate talker - who I could see his back - stood up while talking. He's the jock! Then I shifted slightly in my seat so I could see the "effeminate" tutorer and - shock! It's a middle aged woman!

That was interesting to me.


I was very pleased and proud of myself lately when my library purchased a whole series of new Star Trek Comic Classics after I recommended them. One of them is The Trial of James T. Kirk. The rest, if you're interested, are all displayed as "people also bought..." on the amazon site for that one. Sweet. Thanks, me from the past.

Now if only they would get Kirsty MacColl: The One and Only. Recommend it with me, won't you? Suggest a Title. Use the amazon page for information, including the ISBN. (They use the 13 digit one.) Thanks, you from right this second.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Ten Albums

Tagged by Scot Ninnemann, I now add my list of ten albums that have meant the most to me. I have somehow inserted this blog into my facebook profile, or so I have been led to believe by a series of clickings with words that seemed to contradict one another. Anyway, if you're here, enjoy this if you wish:

Junior High and High School:

The Beatles:
1. Abbey Road
2. The Beatles (White album)
3. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
4. Let It Be
These four LPs belonging to my parents brought joy to hundreds of hours of homework and established the standard by which I judged any music that I have listened to later in life. It's so weird to think that the Beatles were only as long gone then as Nirvana is now.

5. Born In The U.S.A. Bruce Springsteen
Listening to this album led to his better albums like Greetings and The Wild, The Innocent, then every other Springsteen album up to and including Tunnel of Love, for which I saw the tour. Stuff after that, not so much.

6. The Other Side Of Life The Moody Blues
First arena rock show I ever saw. I was blown away. They had lights that went across the stage as the drum fills played on the title track to that album and I was hooked. I still love that album and many other Moodies albums, my latest fave being Strange Times. Fascinating trivia: The drum technician for this very tour later ran sound for Justin Bell and Lazy Susan (including me) at Decoy's in Hopkins! We had a long conversation about it and I know he wasn't lying because he is actually in the "Your Wildest Dreams" video.

7. Greatest Hits Volumes I & II Billy Joel
Not a particularly hip list so far. Just awesome, popular music. Listening to this led me to every other Billy Joel album up to and including The Bridge and then Storm Front, for both of which I saw the tour(s) Also I played these songs hundreds of times (ask my sister) on the piano, developing whatever rock piano chops I may or may not have on a given day (ask Justin).


8. The Bootleg Series Vol. 1-3 Bob Dylan
Nothing further needs to be said about Bob Dylan. Assume that I bought most, if not all of the other albums by the bands on this list, saw them live at least once, and tried to be more like them.

9. Complete Collected Words Simon & Garfunkel
Really great. The amazing guitar playing is what people don't necessarily immediately think of.

10. Worker's Playtime Billy Bragg
The strange and mysterious accent. The insight into the human heart. The spare yet warm production. The colorful artwork. It is that rare thing - a perfect album. (So are 1, 2, 3, 11, 12, 13, 16)

11. Flood They Might Be Giants
This has probably been THE single biggest impact album on me as a songwriter. The "I didn't know you could do THAT!" factor was the biggest thing about it for me.

12. Across The Universe Trip Shakespeare
Such harmonies! Such melodies! Such feeling! Such poetry! And a great live show at First Avenue.

13. Blue Joni Mitchell
You know. Sad. Happy. And every other shade.

14. Automatic For The People R.E.M.
Led to earlier R.E.M. which had previously just annoyed me (courtesy of roommates) but later totally ensnared my mind and my soul.

15. #1 Record/Radio City/Third Big Star
I learned to sing and play more songs from these albums than from any other three albums except the Beatles.


16. Whatever and Ever Amen Ben Folds Five
A legitimate new thing under the sun. Virtuosic piano, which is all too rare in popular music, meets really, really great lyrics and brilliant Queen-sounding harmonies.

17. Galore Kirsty MacColl
Now I'm getting a little bit hip I think. Catchy songs, emotions, witty lyrics, harmonies, you know me. Pretty much everything I try to be.

18. Guitool Flip Nasty
Leader Cody Weathers is the ultimate DIY band/person. He's the label, he's the drummer, he's the webmaster, he's the interviewer of himself, he's the songwriter, he's the singer, he writes the hilarious liner notes, etc.

19. Keep It Together Guster
So great. Seen them twice. Clever, catchy, etc. Normal people writing about stuff normal people think about, plus other things. Lots of positive associations with their music now.

(Oh, was that more than ten? I couldn't cut it back and in fact keep thinking of others. I'll stop now though.)

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Big fans of Memphis Evans will be able to immediately call to mind the image of former St. Olaf German professor Hanno Klassen as featured on the cover of the Great Uncle Helmer album old man will travel. I recently heard that Hanno has passed away and felt like sharing some memories of that day.

I am sorry to hear that Hanno died. I only met him once - the day we took the photos we used for that CD - but he was quite extraordinary. We took about a hundred pictures that day. He was very patient and kind to Karl and I and he seemed to enjoy the experience. The whole time he was talking about what it was like to be in Berlin around the time of WWII, talking about his relationships, and singing songs. I can't think of anyone else I've ever met who was quite like him. One of his songs went something like this:

Cars and highways. These will pass away. Only the trees will remain.
Wind and grass - these things will remain.

His perspective on our music was that he liked the vocals but was not as fond of the "electronic" other sounds. I guess we did technically use electric guitar and bass, but that is probably the least electronically manipulated album I've ever made. This perspective was eye opening to me and I liked it. R.I.P.

Friday, February 06, 2009

An Interview with The Guy Who Threw A Shoe At George W. Bush

Memphis Evans: Hello and welcome to Memphis Evans: The Blog. Thanks for coming in today.

The Guy Who Threw A Shoe At George W. Bush: Thank you. It's nice to be here.

ME: Now listen. Let's get down to it. I do not like George W. Bush. But honestly, when you, uh, when you threw that...what the? Do you hear that?


ME: Do you hear that ticking? What is that?

TGWTASAGWB: Mmm...I'm not hearing it. Sorry.

ME: (pause, listening) Yeah, I think it stopped. So, anyway, my point is that in that video you actually made George Bush NOT look like an idiot on YouTube for the first time in his entire presidency. He dodged it like an athlete. He stayed cool. Do you have any...Hang on. There it is again. Do you hear that? You have to hear that!

TGWTASAGWB: Well...(listens) I don't. A ticking, did you say?

ME: Yeah. Or sort of a beeping? Like a, uh, right there! I just heard it!

TGWTASAGWB: Maybe. Anyway, I threw the shoe to make the point that...

ME: There! did it a bunch of times. You can't tell me you didn't hear that! I have to go see what that is. It's driving me nuts. Hang on.


Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Many and Various

Most of the time people err on the side of adding apostrophe's to word's that don't actually need them. But every once in a while the opposite happen's. I saw a sermon title printed outside a church that looked like this:


It is not a polytheistic church as far as I know.


I was just investigating the Chinese New Year after clicking on the ox at the yahoo homepage and I realized I am totally this metal pig. That makes me want to write an early R.E.M.-like song but probably I won't.


Marvin Up?

"What's Going On?" is arguably Marvin Gaye's greatest song and the title track to one of my favorite albums of all time. The second song on that album is the excellent "What's Happening Brother?". Then the album takes a detour into something called "Flying High (In The Friendly Sky)". I propose that Marvin Gaye copped out. The next song should have been called "Hot Enough For Ya?". He could have made an entire album of small-talky, opening questions. "Hey, How's It Going?" - I can hear it now in my mind. "Hey, Man, Just Checkin' In." "What's Up?" Maybe something for the Spanish listeners, a la Stevie Wonder - "Que Pasa, Hombre?"

Well, since he was off to such a great start, it's just a missed opportunity, that's all I'm sayin'. Gaye's tragic 1984 murder means we will never know if he truly had such a concept album in him.


The best example of everyone's favorite band acronym in a comic strip:

Right here

or (a close second)

Or right here


Misheard Aphorisms:
Keep your powder dry and your enemes drier.
Keep your friends close and pass the ammunition.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Your Creepy, Mind-Reading Friend

You know that when you type "There Will Be Blood" into a search engine because you want to go see a local production of Macbeth and that was the headline of the review in the paper and you want to learn how to get tickets, that the next time you visit a different website you will see an ad for Netflix and they will tell you to click there to watch the movie "There Will Be Blood" right now!

Yes, we know that. That's how the internet works now. It's like your creepiest, greediest, most inappropriately invasive friend ever. But did you know that Target can read your thoughts, even out in the parking lot? Yes. Then they share your thoughts with the relevant parties. Doubt me?

The other day, before I went grocery shopping, I thought about an ad I'd seen on a tv at a bar for a product called the Snuggie. This is a combination blanket/housecoat that seems to be for the seriously dedicated couch potato. I have never investigated this item online. I have never spoken to anyone about this item. I am not actually interested in purchasing this item beacuse my lifestyle, thankfully, remains slightly more active than would make this purchase a good value for me.

I merely thought about it and laughed to myself in the parking lot of Target. That's all. And now I get about one spam e-mail per week suggesting I buy one. They are watching, listening, and monitoring. Believe it.

Monday, January 26, 2009

New Stuff - The Beatless

Well, I have moved the "New Stuff" function of my main website to this blog because it is more convenient. As such, here is your notification of some new stuff at the main website.

The Beatless Index

Scot Ninnemann, my old bandmate in an acoustic duo called The Beatless was wondering about what shows of ours I had on tape. So I obsessively documented them and may any day now add their transformation from uneven tapes into good sounding CDs to the long list of unfinished projects in the studio.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Bombs Away! Take It Easy

Comments are now totally free and easy here at Memphis Evans: The Blog. I have enabled total commenting freedom. No typing of squiggly letters, no e-mailing it to me for approval first. Like they say at the Metrodome, "Obsecne or indecent clothing shall not detract from the guest experience." And it won't here either.

(Yes, that really is the first rule of conduct posted throughout the Metrodome, as you know if you've ever been to a Twins game with me. Inappropriate syntax cracks me up.)


Someone in Shotgun Johnson & The Mississippi Seven (jokingly, if I give the benefit of the doubt) suggested we play "Take It Easy" by the Eagles. My thoughts:

I get all the Take It Easy I care to in J. Bell & Lazy Susan. Which is more than I want already. Ideally Take It Easy would be confined to a barrel and shot into the sun. And by "Take It Easy" I mean all copies of the original recording, all subsequent recordings, any and all written record of the song, including, but not limited to, sheet music, lyric sheets and guitar transcriptions. Also Don Henley and Glen Frey. A giant rocket will be erected and kept ready to exile to the sun (and, duh, kill) anyone caught playing the song in the future. I am going to send these ideas to incoming President Obama. Who will sign my petition?


btw I have The Eagles Greatest Hits 1971-1975 and I play this song in a band that has paid me as much as $120 for a single show, so I'll be first in joining in the sacrifice. This is not like some straight, celibate Pope outlawing gays and birth control. You don't play the game, you don't make the rules.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Shows! Power Ballads!

I have just added 2009's currently scheduled shows to the official Memphis Evans performance calendar. If you go to only one show this year, at this point I would recommend the Mississippi Seven show at Hog Wild on Feb. 28.


Power Ballads were a dollar off at Target this week. I've had my eye on this CD for quite some time and $7.99 for all that rock...just felt right.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

What Are You Made Of?

I am curious about what percentage of the human body is water. I think there was a convoluted conversation with a toddler that reminded me that I do not know this very basic fact.

I remember Nagilum (scaaaaary!) calling the Enterprise D crew "ugly bags of mostly water" and Data reported that he was being accurate. So it's at least 50% I think. Once I asked an actual medical doctor with a degree and everything and she said somewhere around 65-70 percent but admitted that she was basing her answer on a memory of a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon, not her presumably extensive training in biology.

But I already asked y'all about the Bible thing this month, so I'm going to do my own research this time. Ready? Here I go. (Note: This will seem instantaneous to you, but will involve long minutes of painstaking research for me. You're welcome.) The answer is:

The human made up of between 55 and 75 percent water (lean people have more water in their bodies because muscle holds more water than fat). Water...makes up, on average, 60 percent of your body weight. source

The human body is 61.8 percent water by weight. Protein accounts for 16.6 percent; fat, 14.9 percent; and nitrogen, 3.3 percent of human body weight. Other elements constitute smaller percentages of body weight. source

Hey, this is one of my internet questions that wikipedia actually totally knocks out of the park. (Not always the case - remember Adventures of Ivan and Rob vanVliet, readers?)

Incidentally, Data is made up of 24.6 kilograms of tripolymer composites, 11.8 kilograms of molybdenum-cobalt alloys and 1.3 kilograms of bioplast sheeting. source

Anyway, there. I did it myself.

Friday, January 09, 2009

The Bible

Hey readers! I am lazy! Help me! Do my research!

I read a lot of books. In the last week or two I read Hotel De Dream, One For The Money, and Star Trek: Destiny: Books One and Two. I was about to read Inside Out by Larry Crabb for a book study an old friend is leading online. This is a book about Christianity. Then I was thinking how I would like to read the whole bible. (Not as a New Years Resolution either. I don't do those because they don't work any better than, say, July Resolutions - time of year is just a coincidence.)

Here's the thing though. The Bible is handicapped as a work of actual readable literature. It's always broken up into tiny columns. It's got numbers all over it that break up what narrative and/or poetic flow there is. I love the Bible but it's hard for me to really read it and get into it like I do with other books. So how can you help me?

I seem to remember something about a Bible that came out a few years ago that attempted to dispel these chronic handicaps to the Bible's readability. It may have been endorsed by Bono. I would love to read a Bible with normal typesetting and no numbers (okay, maybe just chapter numbers, but no verse numbers). It doesn't have to be in modern language, in fact I would rather it were not. I've read the Bible enough that I like the syntax, grammar, and language the way it is. It's just the way it's printed on the page that always makes me feel I'm trudging through mud. So is there such a thing? A Bible with old school syntax and language but modern, readable typesetting?

Friday, January 02, 2009

I Am Judging You, Traffic

From the window of one of my blogging sites I have a clear view of a stop sign in a neighborhood that is loaded with small children. I will now judge people on their stopping, using the following criteria:

good: wheels actually stop, person looks around, and is not on phone

adequate: wheels slow down significantly, looks around, and is not on phone (note: this non-stop is still, technically, illegal)

poor: any of these three criteria are not met

okay, now suddenly traffic has slowed…

Here we go:


waiting for one more…

one more chance, traffic…

GOOD! Well done, final person I will notice. I wish there were some way to give you $100 dollars and have you know and accept just exactly why. Wouldn't that be a useful traffic management device? If everyone had the option, instead of just giving the friendly wave of thank you, to immediately reward a fellow driver financially for making wise and kind decisions? What with all this OnStar stuff, it seems within the technological realm of possibility and I could see that being a big success - making money and saving lives.

My favorite thing is when a cop car sits just out of sight of this intersection. This happens about once a month as far as I can tell. They could raise their annual budget in a few short weeks with aggressive ticketing at this intersection.