Tea for the Bloggerman

New Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens) Album + Mini-Tour in May
April 3, 2009, 10:00 pm
Filed under: Concerts, music | Tags: , ,


Yusuf’s new album is available for preorder on Amazon with a release date of 5/5/09. To promote the new album, Yusuf will be playing a small number of shows in North America, including Toronto, LA, and New York. No further details are yet available.




Tentative Coachella Schedule
February 8, 2009, 4:15 pm
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So, Yanira and I are going to Coachella this April and it’s going to be a blast! We’re going to camp out with our little tent and see so many great musicians. Anyone who hasn’t seen the schedule for this year’s festival should make their way over to coachella.com and check it out.

Coachella.com has this nifty thing called the Coachooser which allows you to pick which bands out of the line-up you want to see and organize it into a list. Below is our Master List. Acts I want to see are in blue, ones Yanira wants to see are in red, and ones we both are looking forward to seeing are mixed.

Here’s a link: http://www.coachella.com/interact/coachooser/share/c45f7cb15b2e397bed0c73cb4d921db5

Friday, April 17th:
Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band
Franz Ferdinand
Leonard Cohen
Noah and the Whale

Paul McCartney
The Black Keys

Saturday, April 18th:
Amy Winehouse
Booker T.
Fleet Foxes
Henry Rollins

Hercules and Love Affair
Jenny Lewis
The Killers
TV on the Radio

Sunday, April 19th:
Antony and the Johnsons
Okkervil River
Paolo Nutini

Paul Weller
The Cure
Throbbing Gristle
Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Hopefully there’s no conflict in the schedule! But in case there is, Yanira and I have made a “must-see” list. Here it is:

Friday, April 17th:
Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band
Leonard Cohen
Morrissey (he’s sort of in between, I would ditch him for any other must-see)
Paul McCartney

Saturday, April 18th:

Amy Winehouse
The Killers

Sunday, April 19th:

Antony and the Johnsons
The Cure
Throbbing Gristle
Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Top Five Albums of the Week–Week Nine
October 5, 2008, 11:34 pm
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Week Nine: October 5th

1. Relaxin’ With the Miles Davis Quartet
I’ve been getting off on a bebop kick recently. Now I’ve listened to bop for a while now, mostly Thelonious Monk/Charlie Parker/Dizzy Gillespie, but I’ve been expanding my horizons. I’m taking a class on the Beat writers at UNLV and Kerouac writes a lot about bebop so that was a bit of an inspiration. Miles is great. He’s different from some of the other bop players, a lot smoother and “cool”er. And this is a very cool CD. Short, but very sweet. Also featured in the Miles Davis Quartet is John Coltrane on sax before he went solo. It doesn’t get much better than that.

2. Giant Steps by John Coltrane
An influential recording by Coltrane. This is a fun album to listen closely to, follow along with the changes and the improvisational journeying. How does he do it? I don’t know. Jazz magic I guess. Also, Coltrane’s music reminds me of the music on The Sims. And I love The Sims.

3. The Alligator Records 20th Anniversary Collection
Now this was a real find! Found this yesterday and it is a monster compilation. The cuts on this two-disc collection are taken from various records produced by Alligator Records over their (then) 20-year existence. Artists on the record: Albert Collins, Big Walter Horton, Hound Dog Taylor, Johnny Winter, Sonny Terry, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Professor Longhair, Koko Taylor, Pinetop Perkins…blues titans. The greatest cut on this collection is the song “Brick” by Albert Collins simply because of the first two lines: “A brick baby, I’m going to throw a brick upside yo’ head/I said a brick baby, I’m going to throw a brick upside your head…”

4. “Fly Me to the Moon” by Frank Sinatra
Now, I don’t have this song on any of my Frank Sinatra CDs (I’ve been listening to it on youtube) so I used Come Swing with Me for the picture. “Fly Me to the Moon” is a fantastic song. I fell in love with it from watching Neon Genesis Evangelion but soon found Frank’s version. I’m taking Guitar II at UNLV, taught by a guitarist by the name of Joe Lano. Jazz guitarist extraordinaire. He’s been teaching us some standards and I asked him if he could show us this song. He wrote it up on the board the next day and now we are busy working it out. I love it so much.

5. Various song by Mindless Self Indulgence
I saw MSI at the House of Blues on Friday. :] They were absolutely amazing. Where they get the energy from I have no idea. Of all their contemporaries (most of which suck) there is something about MSI that puts them on a whole ‘nother level. I got into them years ago when I was a little Jhonen Vasquez whore. Jhonen directed one of their music videos. Going to the concert was like a trip back into my past. The sounds and lyrics and themes. It was very refreshing. Thank you Jimmy and the gang.

Lyrical Musings: High Water Everywhere
September 20, 2008, 11:05 pm
Filed under: Concerts, music | Tags: , , , ,

I just got back from seeing Joe Bonamassa at a free concert at the Clark County government center. Excellent show. Joe had some technical problems in the beginning (who doesn’t?), which caused the band to completely drown him out for a song and a half. His first solo, gone. Only he could hear it. But from then on out it was a rockin’ set.

The highlight of the show was Bonamassa’s searing rendition of “High Water Everywhere,” a song with a long history. The song was written sometime after 1927 by the timeless bluesman Charley Patton, written about the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 which caused great destruction throughout Mississippi and Louisiana. The haunting lyrics and tone reflect the helplessness and the heartache of those affected by the flood, Patton repeating that there is nothing to do but pack up and leave his former home and life behind beneath the flood.

High Water Everywhere by Charley Patton

Backwater at Blytheville, backed up all around
Backwater at Blytheville, done took Joiner town
It was fifty families and children come to sink and drown

The water was risin’ up at my friend’s door
The water was risin’ up at my friend’s door
The man said to his women folk, “Lord, we’d better go”

The water was risin’, got up in my bed
Lord, the water was rollin’, got up to my bed
I thought I would take a trip, Lord,
out on the big ice sled

Oh, I can hear, Lord, Lord, water upon my door,
you know what I mean, look-a here
I hear the ice, Lord, Lord, was sinkin’ down,
I couldn’t get no boats there, Marion City gone down

So high the water was risin’ our men sinkin’ down
Man, the water was risin’ at places all around,
boy, they’s all around
It was fifty men and children come to sink and drown

Oh, Lordy, women and grown men drown
Oh, women and children sinkin’ down Lord, have mercy
I couldn’t see nobody’s home and wasn’t no one to be found

The song went through many covers and variations since the late 20s and I won’t bother talking about it. Skip on down to September 11th, 2001 where, just hours before the World Trade Center attack, Bob Dylan’s “Love and Theft” was released. Among “Love and Theft”s many blues songs is a song titled “High Water (For Charlie Patton).” Easily the best song on the album, Dylan takes Patton’s description of a natural disaster and puts it in a modern social context, speaking of God, love, and evolution as well as nature’s fury. Take a look:

High Water (For Charlie Patton) by Bob Dylan

High water risin’ – risin’ night and day
All the gold and silver are being stolen away
Big Joe Turner lookin’ East and West
From the dark room of his mind
He made it to Kansas City
Twelfth Street and Vine
Nothing standing there
High water everywhere

High water risin’, the shacks are slidin’ down
Folks lose their possessions – folks are leaving town
Bertha Mason shook it – broke it
Then she hung it on a wall
Says, “You’re dancin’ with whom they tell you to
Or you don’t dance at all.”
It’s tough out there
High water everywhere

I got a cravin’ love for blazing speed
Got a hopped up Mustang Ford
Jump into the wagon, love, throw your panties overboard
I can write you poems, make a strong man lose his mind
I’m no pig without a wig
I hope you treat me kind
Things are breakin’ up out there
High water everywhere

High water risin’, six inches ‘bove my head
Coffins droppin’ in the street
Like balloons made out of lead
Water pourin’ into Vicksburg, don’t know what I’m going to do
“Don’t reach out for me,” she said
“Can’t you see I’m drownin’ too?”
It’s rough out there
High water everywhere

Well, George Lewis told the Englishman, the Italian and the Jew
“You can’t open your mind, boys
To every conceivable point of view.”
They got Charles Darwin trapped out there on Highway Five
Judge says to the High Sheriff,
“I want him dead or alive
Either one, I don’t care.”
High Water everywhere

The Cuckoo is a pretty bird, she warbles as she flies
I’m preachin’ the Word of God
I’m puttin’ out your eyes
I asked Fat Nancy for something to eat, she said, “Take it off the shelf –
As great as you are a man,
You’ll never be greater than yourself.”
I told her I didn’t really care
High water everywhere

I’m getting’ up in the morning – I believe I’ll dust my broom
Keeping away from the women
I’m givin’ ’em lots of room
Thunder rolling over Clarksdale, everything is looking blue
I just can’t be happy, love
Unless you’re happy too
It’s bad out there
High water everywhere

And with the hurricanes that have been devastating Louisiana in recent years, the lyrics of both songs have resonated with an even greater force. People can connect with the despair Charley Patton feels and the cynicism Dylan describes.

Then there’s Bonamassa’s version. High winds bearin’ down on New Orleans, ever’thing lookin’ blue. Hurricanes don’t discriminate. Break it down, Joe:

All Along the Waterfront: Bob Dylan at AEG Concerts on the Green
September 10, 2008, 12:47 am
Filed under: Concerts, music, Travel | Tags: , , , , ,

Last weekend I had the pleasure of taking a hot, uncomfortable bus ride down to San Diego. I was hungry, sweaty, and cramped, but it was all worth because on that Saturday (the 6th) I would be seeing the one and only Bob Dylan, one of my idols, in concert in a place I hold dear more than any other location.

I woke up at around 5:30am on Friday in order to prepare for my 8am Greyhound bus ride. The bus ride lasted until 4pm with a transfer in San Bernadino, and upon arriving in San Diego I felt instantly better. Yanira met me near the Pizza Hut that is connected to the Greyhound station and we proceeded from there to 7-11 where I bought some Arizona iced tea to quench my thirst. From there we walked to the trolley station where I bought my three-day trolley pass and waited for the train. While waiting someone walked by wearing a 2008 Montreal Jazz Festival shirt. Small world.

The trolley came eventually and we boarded. From there it was on to the Old Town San DIego area where Yanira lives. From there we ordered pizza, decorated cupcakes for the birthday of one of Yanira’s roommates, and watched two French movies, “Amelie” and “Paris, je t’aime,” both excellent movies that I would recommend to anyone. It was no surprise that I would like “Amelie” because of my extreme fondness for the soundtrack. Yann Tiersen’s accordion is immaculate; the movie cannot be more than a little less than perfect with that music.

The following day was Saturday, the day of the concert. Leftover pizza was on the menu for breakfast, yum. The only thing on the schedule before the concert was a trip to Old Town, which we went on around noon. I love Old Town San Diego, a place where some of the early buildings of the Spanish settlements in California are preserved and maintained as museums. There are also lots of other tourists attractions too, restaurants and shops and the like. All in all a lovely place to spend the day. And what a lovely day it was too. The weather could not have been better. Why oh why must I live in blazing-ass Vegas?

In Old Town we looked at most of the shops and buildings before sitting down in a restaurant for iced tea and chips while watching crazy raver circus performers give knives to children. At one of the vendors I found something that made my heart soar like a big soaring thing: a toy accordion! And a great one at that! The sound is so rich and loud! I’ve been toying with it since, but I can’t do much with it. I can play Sabbath’s “Iron Man” thanks to a tab I found online, and a C major scale, but that’s about it so far. Yann Tiersen here I come!

At around 4ish we left Old Town and went back to the apartment. More leftover pizza was eaten, blankets were grabbed, and we were off to Qualcomm Stadium. We got there around 4:45ish and the line was already enormous. The concert started at 8, doors opened at 7. Guess we weren’t as early as we thought. We assumed our place in line and waited like good chirren, talking amongst ourselves and with the obsessive middle-aged woman Dylan fanatic behind us. She  was also a Leonard Cohen fan and my Leonard Cohen tour t-shirt gave us away as fellow Cohenites. Around ten minutes or so into our waiting a security person from the venue made his rounds down the line to inform everyone that no cameras would be allowed but lawn chairs were okay. Even though their website clearly says “no cameras with removable lenses” and “no lawn chairs.” Le sigh. I prepared to take the trolley back to the apartment to drop off our cameras and come back, but asked the guard anyway about our situation. He said to just explain that we didn’t drive to the stadium and they would do something stupid like ask us to take the batteries out or something. So we waited more, camera bundled up in our blankets hoping they wouldn’t search. I had Yanira hold the blankets because she looks far more innocent than I.

Eventually the line starts moving and behold, four tables of security personnel going through and searching everyone. We went to our table and said we just had a blanket and jackets. They said we could just shake them down and keep moving. Yanira feebly shook the mass of blanket in her arms and we were allowed safe passage. Eat that, AEG!

We made our way to the front of the large field and laid out our blanket with the rest of the crowd. It appeared like it was going to be a nice night, laying out on our blankets listening to Dylan croon. But alas, people soon started to crowd to the front and everyone had no choice but to pack up their blankets and lawn chairs and smash forward. Before the havoc I made my way to the merch table and bought a poster and the “eco-friendly” bag I mentioned earlier.

At 8 the concert begins and man, what a concert it was! Bob was in top-form that night, completely annihilating the low bar I had set for the concert. Watching recent youtube videos of him would lead one to believe that his voice is COMPLETELY, not partially but COMPLETELY, destroyed. Not rough and smokey like his vocals on Modern Times, but  REAL GONE. Like Tom Waits with a tracheotomy gone. Watch this clip to get a feeling of what I was expecting:

But his voice was far from that; in fact, I would even describe it as strong! And Bob appeared to have such a good time playing, which shatters his image as a morose musician tapping on his keyboard for a couple of hours and leaving to collect his check. He smiled in between verses, would occasionally glance at the audience (but still kept from facing us), stuck his tongue out on more than one occasion, bopped his knees at particularly rhythmic moments in songs, and walked around the stage in between songs with a sort of skip in his step. His harmonica playing was also very surprising; it appears Bob has actually learned how to play it, and is playing it well.

The set list was excellent as well. Mostly newer tunes from Modern Times, “Love and Theft,” and Time Out of Mind, but a number of revamped classics were included like “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” “She Belongs to Me,” “Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again,” “Highway 61 Revisited,” “It’s Alright Ma, I’m Only Bleeding,” and “Like a Rolling Stone” and “All Along the Watchtower” for the encore. I had my fingers crossed for “High Water (for Charley Patton)” but I was completely satisfied. Highlights of the concert were “It’s Alright Ma,” an impossibly deep “Ain’t Talkin'” which gave me flashbacks to Tom Waits’ dark tones at the Phoenix Orpheum, and the profound “Workingman’s Blues #2” which should be near the top of anyone’s top Dylan song list.

Despite the packed conditions, the slightly heavy smoke and the idiot near us who would scream “HURRICANE!” between every fucking song, it was an excellent concert. I sincerely hope the Neverending Tour stays neverending, because I must see Bob again. Once you go Bob you don’t go back, as they say.



Cat’s in the Well
The Times They Are A-Changin’
The Levee’s Gonna Break
She Belongs To Me
Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again
Ballad of Hollis Brown
To Make You Feel My Love
It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)
Working Man’s Blues #2
Honest With Me
Lenny Bruce
I Don’t Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met)
Highway 61 Revisited
Ain’t Talkin’
Thunder On The Mountain

Encores: Like A Rolling Stone, All Along the Watchtower


Video Clips Yanira and I Took With Our Smuggled Camera:

“Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again” minus the first few seonds.

A verse of “Workingman’s Blues #2”

A good portion of “All Along the Watchtower”

Long Live Bob Dylan.

So Long, Montreal — Part Two: He Did Not Come All the Way Home Just to Fool Us
June 30, 2008, 9:21 am
Filed under: Concerts, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Time for part two, are you ready for this? I don’t think you’re ready for this. Proceed at your own caution.

So we arose in the early afternoon on the 25th ready to journey out and explore this strange land we had found ourselves in. We showered, enjoyed a complimentary breakfast, and prepared ourselves. Yanira, being the fashion-nazi she is, was looking forward to seeing the Yves Saint Laurent exhibit at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. I had shown her information on the exhibit a week earlier, after recognizing the name while searching for things to do in the city. We had talked briefly about Saint Laurent because he is recently deceased, and Yanira is a devoted follower of him. AND Wednesdays at the museum are half-price admission days. Could it have worked out any better than that?

We called a taxi and had him drive us to the museum. Montreal is such a beautiful city [“it’s like New York and Paris combined!”], lovely weather in June, dotted with outstanding cathedrals and overall nice things. We got out and proceeded to the ticket counter, only to find out that the half-price deal was only after 5pm. Being 2pm, we decided to walk around and come back. We walked down the street, past McGill College where Leonard Cohen studied, and took in what the area had to offer. We also spent some time in a nice bookstore.

Soon we grew hungry and went looking for Asian food. We had a taste for Asian food for some odd reason. Trying a few places without success, we found a shady-looking Vietnamese restaurant with decent prices. We were surprised; it was actually nice inside. We ordered a plate of Pad Thai to share and munched on that while talking. After lunch we walked upstairs from the restaurant to Cheap Thrills, an over-priced used CD/vinyl/bookstore. Excellent selection, but the prices were horrendous. I did find one deal though: a Canadian pressing of Tom Waits’ third album Small Change in MINT condition for $10. Last time I checked on amazon.com these went from $32 and up. I bought that after looking through damn near everything in the store [“I’m going to D-I-E”] and we walked on.

We killed enough time in Cheap Thrills to return to the museum for our discount. We then entered the enormous exhibit full of outfits designed by Saint Laurent, with video monitors showing famous models modeling them (as models are wont to do). I have only recently began to rethink my position on fashion. I used to despise it, but only because of a mental connection I had made between fashion and unimaginative trends. The word “fashion” conjured up images of celebrities wearing the latest designs as a statement of their wealth and importance rather than clothing being a medium for art, and this exhibit has certainly opened my eyes to the possibilities of this medium. Saint Laurent was a visionary, that is for sure.

We spent an hour or two in the museum, made a stop in the boutique to pick up a catalog of the exhibit and some post cards, and left. We hailed a taxi then to take us to the Place des Arts, an area of downtown Montreal designed for festivals and large events. The Place des Arts is flanked on two sides by large concert halls, a third side being occupied by a mall and the Hyatt Regency hotel, and the last side being open for the most part. We got to the Place des Arts, found out which concert hall Leonard would be in, struggled to find an entrance, failed, waited, asked around, found out we had to go underground to get in, went underground, and entered the building.

The theater was extremely nice and we had excellent seats: 10 rows from the front. A reward for being up so early to buy the tickets as they were released. I made my way to the merchandise table to try and nap one of the nifty Leonard Cohen shirts and posters they had for sale, but I was devastated (not really) to find out they did not accept credit cards. After a day in Montreal, the little Canadian money I had had dwindled down to $19, and the cheapest thing for sale was a poster for $20. I returned to my seat, still aflutter over getting to see Leonard, and waited patiently until the lights dimmed.

There are many words and phrases I could use to describe the concert–amazing, breath-taking, awe-inspiring, fantastic, earth-shattering, life-changing–but all seem inefficient to describe the feelings I had when Leonard ran out (yes, ran out!) on stage to the microphone. Everything was simply perfect; I could not ask for more. Leonard’s voice was strong and powerful, and the man had energy to take him through a three hour concert (yes, three hours!) and many encores. His guitarist, Javier Mas, is a genius. His woodwind player had enough energy to destroy our dependence on foreign oil. His backup singers–collaborator Sharon Robinson and the divine Webb Sisters–were beautiful in both appearance and in voice. Leonard and his merry band took us on a journey through nearly all of our favorite songs–from newer gems like A Thousand Kisses Deep, Closing Time, The Future, In My Secret Life, Take This Waltz, Hallelujah (which included a slight variation in one line which I used for the title of this entry)–to old classics like Suzanne, So Long Marianne, Hey That’s No Way to Say Goodbye, Sisters of Mercy, and a stunning rendition of Avalanche which sounded EXACTLY the way it did on the 1971 album Songs of Love and Hate. It was a revelation, a holy experience. I laughed, I wept openly, but most of all I sat in awe of something far larger and much talented than I could ever hope to reach.

And Leonard was in complete control the whole time. He knew what to sing and when to sing it, what to say and when to say it, what do dance and when to dance it. The man danced! The 73 year-old man danced! On more than one occasion! During The Future he did what has been described as Beck-shuffle during the line “and the white man dancing” and as Closing Time finished he skipped across the stage to the curtain, only to be called back by thunderous applause. After three encores, Leonard thanked the people of his home town, sang a tongue-in-cheek version of I Tried to Leave You, recited a prayer with the band, and wished us all a good night. I will never forget that concert.

After it was over (oh, if only it could have gone on forever!) we walked out onto the Place des Arts and hailed a taxi to take us the three blocks to the hotel. There we had the remnants of our Pad Thai noodles, watched part of the documentary “Ladies and Gentlemen…Mr. Leonard Cohen” and went to sleep. Two more days left to go, and the Montreal Jazz Festival was only just beginning.


YouTube clips of the concert:


Closing Time

Take This Waltz (dedicated to the memory of the late poet Irving Layton)