Tea for the Bloggerman

T5AotW: Week 29
February 22, 2009, 6:14 pm
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Week 29

1. Texas by PlayRadioPlay!
A very good album by an up-and-coming musician by the name of Dan Hunter. “Madi Don’t Leave’ Was one of many songs I turned to this week in my emotional distress. And yes, that CD is autographed.

2. Them or Us by Frank Zappa
Didn’t help with the distress, but songs like “In France” and “Stevie’s Spanking” sure do put a smile on one’s face.

3. The Best of the Velvet Underground
I downloaded a lot of VU bootlegs recently and have been listening to those, as well as playing a number of songs on the g-tar.

4. Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits
I haven’t really listened to a lot of Dylan this week except the song “Positively 4th Street” which represents the other side of my emotional spectrum. An opposing force to “Madi Don’t Leave.” One song pleads for things to stay the same, the only lifts a big middle finger to society.

5. Marc Ribot Y Los Cubanos Postizos by Marc Ribot (not pictured)
Left this one at the bookstore. Very good CD of Cuban music from jazz guitarist virtuoso Marc Ribot. He did wonders when he was with Tom Waits, and he’s done wonders by himself.


T5AotW: Week 20
December 22, 2008, 9:27 pm
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Week 20: December 22nd

A day late but nobody reads these anyway.

1. American Airlines theme song
I found this 7” at the thrift store the other day and what a find! It’s from 1975 and it was a promotional record sent to employees of American Airlines to debut their new theme song and advertising campaign. The first side has a message from Bob Crandall who I guess was a big shot with the company at the time and the second side has the full theme song. It’s wonderful stuff.

2. One from the Heart soundtrack by Tom Waits and Crystal Gayle
Between Tom Waits’ monumental albums Heartattack and Vine and Swordfishtrombones is this oddity in the Tom Waits ouevre. Sounding nothing like Tom Waits’ other work, this album is both a stand-out and outstanding. Beautiful jazzy-lounge melodies accompanied by Gayle’s lovely voice. The instrumental Tango on this album is, in my opinion, a sort of coming attractions for the material on Swordfishtrombones.

3. December by Chris Botti
I saw Chris Botti in Montreal at a free tribute concert to Leonard Cohen. He inagurated the concert and the whole jazz festival with a beautiful trumpet rendition of “Hallelujah” and later on in the evening he came down to the stage to play “A Thousand Kisses Deep” with the lyrics to the song being projected behind him. This album not only contains his rendition of “Hallelujah” but also a wonderful selection of Christmas music that would make any jazz lover’s belly shake like a bowl full of jelly.

4. Hymns of the 49th Parallel by k.d. lang
I like k.d. lang’s voice. She is very nice. Two great Leonard Cohen covers on this CD, plus other covers by famous Canadian singers. The only real downside to this album is her cover of Neil Young’s “Helpless.” It goes on FOREVER.

5. Field Commander Cohen: Tour of 1979 by Leonard Cohen
LC himself. What can I say about Leonard that hasn’t already been said a thousand times before? This is a great CD of beautifully-recorded live tracks. Until the live album is released from Leonard’s 2008-09 tour, if you want a taste of the live Leonard experience get this.

T5AotW: Week 17
November 30, 2008, 9:56 pm
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Week Seventeen: November 30th

1. This Year’s Model by Elvis Costello and the Attractions
An all around good album. I like my Elvis Costello. He did wonderfully in the Stephen Colbert Christmas special, being eaten by a bear and all. Must’ve been hard work. This album is good but it gets repetitive after a while. I had it playing in the background at work. Pump it up.

2. H.A.A.R.P. by Muse
I love Muse. They’re one of the finest live acts out there. But I’m a little disappointed with this CD. While I believe it does show off a bit of their concert magic there is far too much crowd noise! Usually with live albums they cut that out so you can actually hear the band. If you want to hear what it would be like to be 50 rows back at a loud Muse concert, this is a good album. Little better than a bootleg, I’d say. And the DVD is atrociously shot. All that said, Muse is bomb. Matt’s guitar solo on “Supermassive Black Hole” is top-notch.

3. Up for Air by Joe Lano
I asked my guitar teacher Joe if he would give me a copy of one of his albums as I was curious as to what they sounded like. He’s been around, having played with Lena Horne and others for many many years. He said sure and asked the class how to burn a CD on his Mac. The following week he came in with probably 50 copies of this CD. This is an excellent CD, top-notch jazz. I played this for my boss, a jazz aficionado, and he was very very impressed. I don’t think I’ve heard better jazz guitar. Makes the abuse I get in class a little less painful.

4. London Calling by The Clash
One of my favorites. Can’t go wrong with The Clash. At around its third listen it gets a little repetitive. I also listened to this in the background at work so I have put that theory into practice, but it is still wonderful.

5. Reality by David Bowie
Bowie’s latest (2003) studio album and a great one. Not as great as the previous year’s Heathen, but still a wonderful collection of songs. From the rocking “New Killer Star” to the slow “Bring Me the Disco King,” there are very few low-points (read: “The Loneliest Guy”). Personal favorites on this album are “Never Get Old,” which I have listened to hundreds of times since getting the CD, and “Pablo Picasso,” one of two covers on the CD. The chorus to “Pablo Picasso,” after you look up the lyrics to make out the words, becomes irresistible to sing along to. Now, I’ve listened to this album maybe five times through this week and it has not gotten old yet. I guess there is truth to the song “Never Get Old.”

Top Five Albums of the Week: Week Ten
October 14, 2008, 9:50 pm
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Week Ten: October 12th

1. Hot by Squirrel Nut Zippers
An excellent modern gypsy jazz/swing album. I’ve had a soft spot in my heart for gypsy jazz for a while now and this album makes that soft spot softer. Peoples, check these guys out. Also, check out John Jorgenson while you’re at it. I saw him live in Montreal. Another excellent American gypsy.

2. Al Jolson’s Greatest Hits
What a voice, huh? I’ve had this cassette for a while now but I’ve been listening to it a lot recently because of an increased fascination in blackface minstrelsy. I’ll be writing a 25 page paper on the subject next semester so this is mainly preparation.

3. The Complete 1957 Riverside Recordings by Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane
Two giants of bop colliding in a work of musical artistry. It is a shame these two did not do more together, but what little they did do is magical. I have yet to hear the live album these two did that was released in 2005, but I only hear good things about it.

4. Let Love In by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
I like Nick Cave a whole lot. I was first exposed to him in “I’m Your Man,” the Leonard Cohen documentary/tribute concert film that was released a few years ago in which Cave sings the title song and “Suzanne.” He had an interesting voice and offered interesting insights in his interviews, so I checked him out. One of the songs I downloaded after I saw that film was “Red Right Hand” and I adored it. The title comes from Milton. Miltony goodness. It’s on this album. Huzzah.

5. Station to Station by David Bowie
I featured this album a few weeks ago but so what. This thing is cataloging what I listen to the most week by week and I listened to this more than anything else this week. Mostly the title track. An outstanding work of genius. Once there were mountains on mountains and once there were sunbirds to sore with and once I could never be down… Simply astounding.

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.

So Long, Montreal — Part One: Getting There
June 29, 2008, 4:35 am
Filed under: Travel | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Yesterday I returned from a marvelous journey to the center of the uncivilized world: Montreal, Quebec. The great poet Leonard Cohen is currently on his first tour in 15 years, a tour that as of now has no U.S. dates. As soon as the tour was announced I knew I was going to see him. There was no option. Leonard has been a profound inspiration for me for years, and traveling to see him in concert would be my hajj. So, after checking schedules and making plans, I found myself up at 6 in the morning one day ordering two tickets to his June 25th concert in Montreal. Plane and bus tickets were to follow.

The journey sounds simple enough on paper. On the night of the 23rd I would take a plane from Las Vegas to Philadelphia, then transfer planes to arrive in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania [Sidenote: I’ve heard three different pronounciations of that city’s name in the past few months–Wilkes-Bear, Wilkes-Bar, and Wilkes-Berry]. From Wilkes-Barre I would take a bus to a town called Hazleton to meet the fabulous Yanira Garcia, fashion designer extraordinaire and fellow Leonard Cohenite. From Hazleton the two of us would board a Greyhound bus, making stops and transfers along the way in New York City and Albany. The return trip would simply be the reverse a few days later, making time to catch some of the Montreal Jazz Festival, the largest jazz festival in the world which just so happened to be occurring at the same time as the concert.

And so, at around 9:30pm on the 23rd I, along with a messenger bag full of papers, my mandolin, and a suitcase of clothes, were in a taxi headed for McCarran Airport. I arrived and rode my plane east to Philadelphia. I arrived early the next morning and took a shuttle bus from one portion of the enormous airport to another to catch my second plane. The small plane flew for half an hour and arrived in Wilkes-Barre, which is by far the nicest airport I have ever seen. It is small, clean, and simply decent. They even have a “Meditation Room” stocked with various religious texts and four pews, perhaps for traveling church congregations. From Wilkes-Barre I took a taxi to the bus station, and boarded my bus to Hazleton.

I only spent a few hours in Hazleton but my time there was pleasant. I like Hazleton; it is a very fake town. Hazleton tries very hard to appear to be a small town, but it is far too densely packed with people and buildings to successfully pull of the illusion. However, if anything is an indication of a town’s size it would be the number of Starbucks that are located there, and Hazleton has ZERO. No Starbucks’, how do you like that?

So in Hazleton I met up with Yanira, we had lunch at a health food restaurant called the Dragonfly, then lounged in a Wendy’s to charge our cellphones before the bus arrived. Later we boarded the bus and off we went. The bus rode down the Pennsylvania countryside and through the barren wasteland that Springsteen calls New Jersey until we arrived in New York City. There we got some food and waited in a long line. Within two hours time the line began to move as Greyhound staff checked passports and other documentation. The bus from New York drove for a few hours until it reached Albany, where it stopped for a half hour to refuel and be cleaned. From Albany it was a straight shot to the border. At the border we were forced from the bus to gather all our belongings and file through customs. Who, what, where, when, why, and back to the bus we went.

Montreal is not very far away from the US/Canada border, but it certainly seemed like it. We arrived in Montreal around 7 in the morning on the 25th. There we gathered our luggage and went to the information booth to find out how to get to our hotel. We thought we could walk and started walking, but soon we found ourselves lost, cold, and hungry. So we returned to the bus station, waited for the currency exchange window to open, changed out our filthy American dollars for shiny portraits of Queen Elizabeth II, and took a taxi. At the hotel we checked in, found our room, and slept soundly for a few hours before our big day officially begun…