Monday, July 31, 2006

the honor bar...for people w/no honor

This message was sent using PIX-FLIX Messaging service from Verizon Wireless!
To learn how you can snap pictures with your wireless phone visit
www.verizonwireless.com/getitnow/getpix.

To learn how you can record videos with your wireless phone visit www.verizonwireless.com/getitnow/getflix.

To play video messages sent to email, QuickTime? 6.5 or higher is required. Visit www.apple.com/quicktime/download to download the free player or upgrade your existing QuickTime? Player. Note: During the download
process when asked to choose an installation type (Minimum, Recommended or Custom), select Minimum for faster download.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Some Times Our Local Media Makes Me Laugh

This week’s rant is a bit different from normal, as I’m in a better mood than usual. Why am I happy for a change? I just spent two days in my favorite Midwestern city (Minneapolis) hanging out with my favorite person in the world (Traci) watching some of my favorite musicians (Golden Smog) play songs from my favorite new album (Another Fine Day, along with quite a few of their tunes from their other two albums). I spent way too much money on booze, food, and CD’s…but hey, it’s been awhile since I had something to smile about.
Shortly after I got home Monday night, I turned on the evening news…and proceeded to laugh hysterically for the next hour. After the obligatory three or four stories about the drought (have they interviewed every cattle farmer in mid-South Dakota?), they turned to their other recurring non-story – the so-called “trouble area” just west of downtown Sioux Falls.
Instead of the other dozen stories they’ve already aired on this issue, their goofy reporter didn’t just hang out with the cops to file their story. He ventured into the “hood” to interview some actual “peeps”, who told him tales and tales of loud, drunk neighbors who have ruined the peace and quiet of their once-quaint neighborhood.
After finishing the piece, the camera went back to the reporter who was stationed in the “Crisis Center”. (Remember, if the weather cubicles are the “Storm Center”, then the adjoining area must be called the “Crisis Center”.) We were then told that the filming had to be cut short as a couple of drunks interrupted their work, threatening the reporter and shoving the cameraman as they attempted to flee.
I have one word to say about this incident – bahahahaha! That’s what should have been filmed! I’ll bet it wasn’t unlike that episode of Andy Griffith where tough guy Barney was forced to flee from the mysterious stranger played by the future boyfriend of Alice from the Brady Bunch. I just hope the cameraman involved in the incident was not one of the good guys. (Believe it or not, there are a couple of people in that building who don’t hate me.)
Can we be real for just a second? Sure, the area in question is one of the poorer sections of town, and there are certainly some problems with some of the rental properties. Yet one can’t in any capacity call that area a ghetto. It’s not northern Minneapolis; it’s not even downtown Redfield. The targeting of that area by the police has more to do with the ethnic makeup of the residents than any real increase in violence and drugs. I don’t see similar publicity-driven raids in other sections of town that house mainly white people of the same tax bracket.
If there is truly a rise in crime in the area, maybe our city leaders should take a look at what they’ve helped create. What was once an area of locally-owned businesses and single-family homes has become nothing but rundown rental homes, casinos, pawn shops, and payday loan sharks. Instead of making a show of having patrol cars wandering the neighborhood looking for open containers, maybe the city could come up with some positive ideas to help re-energize the area. Maybe the city show offer some incentives for landlords to encourage them to fix up their buildings, or come up with some ideas to help bring cool shops. If that old area on 8th Street by the railroad tracks can be fixed up then it should be no problem to improve what was once known as the Loop.
I’ve said this a few times before, but I’ll say it one more time today. All things considered, Sioux Falls is a remarkably safe city. There are smaller towns in this state that I believe are less safe.
Sioux Falls is so safe that there is not a section of town or an individual street that I would not feel comfortable walking at any time of the day or night. Yes, bad things happen, and may even be more likely to happen at the area in question, but almost every city in the country would love their media and police department to be forced to create crime areas that don’t really exist.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Treehouse Records

  Posted by Picasa

Traci Sandwiched Between Semisonic and Golden Smog

  Posted by Picasa

Golden Smog's Kraig Johnson and Marc Perlman

  Posted by Picasa

Golden Smog's Dan Murphy

  Posted by Picasa

Golden Smog's Gary Louris

  Posted by Picasa

Golden Smog

  Posted by Picasa

The Bob Stinson Memorial Trash Can

  Posted by Picasa

Achin' To Be at the CC Club

  Posted by Picasa

This message was sent using PIX-FLIX Messaging service from Verizon Wireless!
To learn how you can snap pictures with your wireless phone visit
www.verizonwireless.com/getitnow/getpix.

To learn how you can record videos with your wireless phone visit www.verizonwireless.com/getitnow/getflix.

To play video messages sent to email, QuickTime? 6.5 or higher is required. Visit www.apple.com/quicktime/download to download the free player or upgrade your existing QuickTime? Player. Note: During the download
process when asked to choose an installation type (Minimum, Recommended or Custom), select Minimum for faster download.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The infamous cc club

This message was sent using PIX-FLIX Messaging service from Verizon Wireless!
To learn how you can snap pictures with your wireless phone visit
www.verizonwireless.com/getitnow/getpix.

To learn how you can record videos with your wireless phone visit www.verizonwireless.com/getitnow/getflix.

To play video messages sent to email, QuickTime? 6.5 or higher is required. Visit www.apple.com/quicktime/download to download the free player or upgrade your existing QuickTime? Player. Note: During the download
process when asked to choose an installation type (Minimum, Recommended or Custom), select Minimum for faster download.

Traci the movie star

This message was sent using PIX-FLIX Messaging service from Verizon Wireless!
To learn how you can snap pictures with your wireless phone visit
www.verizonwireless.com/getitnow/getpix.

To learn how you can record videos with your wireless phone visit www.verizonwireless.com/getitnow/getflix.

To play video messages sent to email, QuickTime? 6.5 or higher is required. Visit www.apple.com/quicktime/download to download the free player or upgrade your existing QuickTime? Player. Note: During the download
process when asked to choose an installation type (Minimum, Recommended or Custom), select Minimum for faster download.

me screwing up with my cameraphone.

This message was sent using PIX-FLIX Messaging service from Verizon Wireless!
To learn how you can snap pictures with your wireless phone visit
www.verizonwireless.com/getitnow/getpix.

To learn how you can record videos with your wireless phone visit www.verizonwireless.com/getitnow/getflix.

To play video messages sent to email, QuickTime? 6.5 or higher is required. Visit www.apple.com/quicktime/download to download the free player or upgrade your existing QuickTime? Player. Note: During the download
process when asked to choose an installation type (Minimum, Recommended or Custom), select Minimum for faster download.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Westerberg Scores Animated Movie


New music from Paul is on the way. The soundtrack for "Open Season" — featuring the songs of Paul Westerberg — will be released on Lost Highway Records on Sept. 26. The movie is opening on Sept. 29. Yes, that is "songs" plural, there will be a bunch of new PW songs on the soundtrack.

Also due out in September is the plaid-errific PW guitar from First Act, or to be specific, the Paul Westerberg ME580 Signature Guitar.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The let it be house!

This message was sent using PIX-FLIX Messaging service from Verizon Wireless!
To learn how you can snap pictures with your wireless phone visit
www.verizonwireless.com/getitnow/getpix.

To learn how you can record videos with your wireless phone visit www.verizonwireless.com/getitnow/getflix.

To play video messages sent to email, QuickTime? 6.5 or higher is required. Visit www.apple.com/quicktime/download to download the free player or upgrade your existing QuickTime? Player. Note: During the download
process when asked to choose an installation type (Minimum, Recommended or Custom), select Minimum for faster download.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Detroit Lewis' Latest Masterpiece
Posted by Picasa

What's Wrong With a New Downtown Business?

It’s no secret that in the opinion of many Sioux Falls residents, the entertainment choices in this town are limited at best. This is particularly true if you’re a young adult…or young at heart like yours truly. Too many neighborhood bars feature karaoke, the couple of venues that offer live music have their genre limitations, and the locations that feature dance music seem to hire complete morons as DJ’s who offer absolutely nothing that isn’t tired and overplayed.
Our friends at the Chamber of Commerce love to point out that new bars and restaurants are opening every week. But with very few exceptions, these businesses are going after the same crowd – middle-aged clems with deep pockets. The majority of these joints are sterile chains that offer little variety in menus, drink specials, décor, and background music. You better be accompanied by great people, or you’re guaranteed to be bored within ten minutes.
The downtown area may not be populated by chain restaurants, but the ambience isn’t much better. The majority of the businesses designed to make money off the nighttime crowd are designed for city leaders who want to look cool and/or important. It’s pretty sad that the two best downtown establishments are an overcrowded dive bar and a dance club that caters to alternative lifestyles…not that there’s anything wrong with that.
It’s not that there aren’t people who want to make a difference…people who want to bring a little variety to our vanilla city. These people are almost uniformly shown the door the minute they bring their schemes to city planners.
That’s the issue that’s currently plaguing Leslie Arnett and Tiffany Thomas are now facing. They want to take over the old Surf’s Up and Carolina Cafe locations and turn it into a multi-level facility that would be a combination coffee shop/bistro/dance club/live music facility.
Certainly we can’t have that, however. How would neighboring businesses deal with the morning-after? How could apartment dwellers deal with the noise?
Tough luck is what I have to say. If you decide to live downtown you don’t have the same rights to peace and quiet as somebody in the suburbs. If you’re business is located downtown you can’t expect the same environment as a business in the mall or a neighborhood strip mall. Noise and people wandering the streets is a sign of a thriving downtown. I don’t have many nights of fun these days, but one of the best nights in recent months was such a night where I spent an hour or so at five different downtown establishments.
As one might guess, however, it’s not just noise and trash that are leading some to oppose this project. Take the case of Tim Kant, no stranger to the Get Out of Town show. In Monday’s daily paper, his biggest complaint seems not to be real issues that this club may attract but the fact that this club may steal some of his business. He takes issue with the multiple formats, and the fact that the capacity of the joint is twice the size of his trendy cigar bar.
I hate to say it, but he’s an idiot. What business is it of his that these ladies want to try out a number of different ideas? And there’s also a great chance that if this business is successful it probably will actually result in more customers for him.
Don’t get the wrong idea, though. I’m not a mark for Ms. Arnett and Thomas. From what I’ve been told they seem to have watched a few too many episodes of “Sex and the City”. For example, their responses to the Zoning Commission earlier this year concerning live music was extremely vague and naïve. After saying no to a number of genres, they were finally asked just what kind of music would be featured. Somebody like Spooncat was the reply. Nothing against these Sioux Falls veterans, but they don’t have much trouble finding places to play.
But who really cares if their chances for success are not great? At least they’re willing to try something different, and they’re investing a lot of money to take that gamble. That’s no different than any other downtown business, and like the dozens of companies that have come and gone over the years there’s always somebody else waiting for that same spot. What does the city have to lose?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Introducing the Get Out of Town All-Stars!

With the Summer Classic dominating the television schedule this evening, I thought it was a good time to come up with a Get Out of Town All-Star team. Over the last two weeks, I have had a poll to come up with a good percentage of the lineup, but as commissioner I have the ultimate authority to do whatever is necessary to protect the integrity of my game.
I’m awfully proud of my team. They all deserve not only their initial induction into the Get Out of Town history books but their place in this lineup. Hell, at the very least they can probably beat the Canaries in a best-of-three series.
We’ll start with the Manager. Who else could be in charge of these Bad News Clems than Mayor Dave Munson? The way he shuffles around the downtown area makes him look exactly like a skipper of a past-their-prime cellar dwelling team. His tendency to ignore his coach’s pleas to replace tiring pitchers, along with forcing my team to spend way too much on everything only reinforces his need to be in charge of this team.
Of course, his assistant coach would have to be nobody other than De Knudson. She’s Dave’s little puppy dog, following him around wherever he goes. When the team almost fired him last year, she was almost the only person who provided vocal support. When that storm passed, she hugged him. When he received a new four-year contract before the season, she was there again to hug him. You can bet he’ll get another hug when he’s finally (and thankfully) forced into retirement.
Now a word from the sponsors. Thanks to an almost-exclusive deal, our team is actually called the Sioux Valley/Wells Fargo/Taco Bell Get Out of Town All-Stars, and our games are not played in Sioux Falls but KELO-Land. Actually, the games are played in Sioux Falls but one can’t fight the evil empire.
It’s now time to introduce the players. Before we get to the starting lineup, however, we need to introduce the benchful of players not quite good enough to make the team. Who else is perfect to waste dugout space than members of the city council, city school board, and the employees of the county courthouse? All of these people have their special spot in the clubhouse where they do little more than just collect a paycheck.
On to the starting lineup. At first base we have former Governor Bill Janklow. Sure, his power numbers have been way down these past few years, and an off-field scandal took him out of the game for a few months. Yet he’s a lock for the Hudson Hall of Fame, and he still is a feared presence on this team.
Second base is a position generally best suited for one of the more shorter members of the lineup, so who better to man this spot than Dan “Junkyard” Nelson. He’s a crafty player who would have no qualms using his spikes on his own grandmother. He’s lead the league in steals for the last five seasons in a row, although it’s unlikely that he’ll maintain these numbers in the future.
At shortstop we have Pam Homan. A scrappy little woman, she was lured to our city by a large free agency contract two years ago. Since then she’s been nothing but a bust, not only leading the league in errors but being a constant presence in embarrassing off-field controversies.
Third basemen are known for squatty power hitters with limited range. I guess that’s the perfect spot for Roger Hunt. Hunt is known less for his less-than-stellar fielding than for his attempts to speak for the team off the field. This past year he made headlines for an attempt to rid the team of anybody who doesn’t follow his ball-playing philosophy. At the conclusions of this season, the team’s shareholders will vote on whether the future of the team will follow his ideals.
Although centerfield is probably a better fit for John Thune, the best pure athlete of our club, we have placed him in left field. We felt that for one short moment of his life he should see what it’s like on the opposite side of the fence. Thune has been the golden boy ever since he was drafted right off the farm ten years ago, but his good-old-boy image has been shattered a bit in recent years with tabloid whispers of indiscretions too severe to be mentioned in this family-oriented blog.
In centerfield, however, we actually have two players who rotate the position. When Pat O’Brien is available, which is unfortunately way too often, he starts in center. Unfortunately, his posse of D-list pseudo-celebrities creates box-office problems. Anytime an extra from a Tom Cruise or Julia Roberts movie isn’t supplied with ticket comps he throws a Star Jones-ish tantrum. Speaking of Jones, a three week notice is required whenever she asks for tickets, as our concession stands need to triple their supply orders.
When O’Brien is out in Hollywood hanging with the likes of Puffy or Ray Romano, Shawn Cable takes over his position. Cable actually has more range than his older protégé, but his tendency to suddenly burst out in showtunes and/or cloud-watching allows quite a few easy bloopers that should be caught become doubles and triples.
Finally, we get to right field. Remember back in grade school when it was time to choose teams there was always that one person that nobody wanted on their team? You would just throw this person into right field, knowing that it was a rare occasion that any ball would be hit out that way. This person would never pay attention to the game; they’d be out doing pirouettes and talking to themselves, leaving the center fielder to chase down the ball the two or three times a game that it would be hit that direction.
That’s what we had in mind when we learned that Leslee Unruh was the top vote getter in this year’s voting. Where else could we place her? The problem is that not only does she have absolutely zero athletic talent, but she plays so far to the right that she’s usually on the foul line. Hell, quite often she jumps completely over the line. I guess that’s okay, though. A foul person should play in foul territory.
Finally, we move on to pitcher and catcher. Here’s the problem. We know who should man these spots, but quite frankly we really don’t know who pitches or catches. Hell, they both could be catchers, for all we know…although quite frankly one of them dresses too nicely to not be a pitcher, and the long hair and stocky frame of the other leads us to believe that he’s a catcher. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
We’ll keep the names of these players quiet for now. Let’s just say that they’re both reporters for one of our sponsors, and one does the daily unneeded West River story while the other is overly-enthusiastic about East River non-stories.  
So that’s our lineup for this year’s team. I think it’s a pretty strong team that at the very least is very entertaining. I know each and every one of them has entertained me on numerous Wednesdays of the past few years.

Monday, July 10, 2006

I'm Going to Golden Smog!

This message was sent using PIX-FLIX Messaging service from Verizon Wireless!
To learn how you can snap pictures with your wireless phone visit
www.verizonwireless.com/getitnow/getpix.

To learn how you can record videos with your wireless phone visit www.verizonwireless.com/getitnow/getflix.

To play video messages sent to email, QuickTime? 6.5 or higher is required. Visit www.apple.com/quicktime/download to download the free player or upgrade your existing QuickTime? Player. Note: During the download
process when asked to choose an installation type (Minimum, Recommended or Custom), select Minimum for faster download.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

From the Tempest Archives: An Interview With Squeeze's Glenn Tilbrook

Earlier this evening, I finally got around to watching Glenn Tilbrook: One For the Road, a documentary of his 2001 solo tour of America. Instead of luxury limos and 100-foot tour buses, Tilbrook and his crew of four (including the film crew)rented an old RV that broke down more than a few times (the first time was just blocks from the dealership).
Watching the good-natured songwriter shrug off not only mechanical problems but a music business that has ignored great songwriters such as himself inspired me to pull out this old Tempest article from August 5, 1992.
Tilbrook was a great interview, and I wish I knew where the original tapes now lay as we originally chatted for close to 90 minutes. The show this interview was plugging was also one of the best to ever hit our town, and watching Tilbrook, Steve Nieve, and Pete Thomas sitting in with a country cover band hours after the show was the icing on the cake.
Why don't we get shows like this anymore?

The Midwest completely missed the punk/new wave resurgence in the late 70’s and early 80’s. While people in New York were rediscovering the three-minute pop song, most of this part of the country was mired in the corporate mentalities of Kansas, Journey, and Head East.
What this area was missing was a resurgence of the pop song, three minutes of clever hooks delivered with energy and passion. And Squeeze was the master of hooks. To parallel the original mid-60’s rock explosion, if Elvis Costello was the era’s Dylan, the Clash were the Stones of the time, and the Jam were the Who, Squeeze was certainly the Beatles of the early 80’s.
Now, 15 years later, Squeeze has survived through good and bad times. Despite personnel changes, label problems, and a two-year layoff in the mid-80’s, the band is still around, and its influence is heard in much of today’s music, from Material Issue to the Smithereens.
For the first time, Sioux Falls gets a taste of the magic of Squeeze, in a special intimate format that should entertain old and new fans. With the help of former Elvis Costello sidemen Pete Thomas and Steve Nieve, the band will be bringing a special “unplugged” format to the Jeschke Fine Arts Center tonight.
A few days ago, Tempest was proud to have the opportunity to chat with Glenn Tilbrook, the lead singer of Squeeze. While most veteran performers have a pretty jaded outlook towards interviews, Tillbrook was extremely gracious, full of wit yet serious about his craft.
Here’s what Tilbrook had to say:
Tempest: Who were your influences, and how did they affect your music career?
Glenn Tillbrook: I’ve always thought that influences, certainly in writing and performing, are sort of 50% of what you grew up listening to, your bedrock of influences which I think always stay with you, while the other 50% are what you’re listening to at any given time.
I grew up listening to things like the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix. I grew up at a time when songs were very dominant in pop music, and I think that was a very big influence on me.
T: How did you meet Chris Difford?
GT: He put an ad in a local store window advertising for a guitarist for a band that had a recording deal. I replied, and he had been bluffing a bit. There wasn’t a band, there wasn’t a record deal. In fact, there was only Chris. (Laughs)
We hit it off and started writing together within a couple of months after meeting each other. That was back in 1973.
T: How did the rest of the band get together?
GT: I had been playing with Jools Holland (original Squeeze pianist) before I met Chris, and I introduced the two of them after about six months of knowing Chris. So that was the moment the band started.
T: How quickly after that did you begin writing?
GT: Chris and I were writing individually when we met, but soon both of our strengths and weaknesses became apparent, and that’s when we linked up. Chris is an excellent lyricist, and I was better at tunes than he was. So that’s how we split the writing up, and that’s how we continued.
T: There’s a misconception in America that the British music scene in the 70’s was completely dead, and the Sex Pistols came out and inspired everyone to form a band. Obviously, that’s not true. What was the scene really like in Britain in the mid-to-late 70’s?
GT: It was interesting. Because we were quite young when we started, it took us two years to get three gigs. No one wanted to know about a bunch of 15-year-olds. When we started getting shows, it was supporting bands like Curved Air and Renaissance. That was still in the days when people sat down at gigs. Like at university shows people would be sitting on the floor, which was quite weird.
And we’d come out playing three-minute songs, and people didn’t know what to make of it. Everyone was playing long songs in those days, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It was an odd time.
Then there was this sort of “pub rock” movement, which started in about 1975, I guess, of which we were a part. This turned into punk/new wave, and I think we were seen to identify with the frings of that, although we were never a punk band.
T: Your first album was produced by former Velvet Underground member John Cale. Was that a wise pairing, and what was he like to work with?
GT: He was fantastic to work with. He’s one of the few people I’ve worked with who I’d describe as a “tortured genius” (laughs). He really was. It was a very good experience for us, mostly. I can’t say he was 100% in us; sometimes he’d fall asleep in the studio. Then we’d get him back by scribbling on his face (laughs again).
It also paved the way for us to produce ourselves. By the time that John Cale finished the album, the record company said, “we don’t think there’s any singles there”, so we said “we think we can go in and do those ourselves.” In fact, the two tracks that we went in to produce, “Take Me, I’m Yours” and “Bang Bang”, ended up being the singles from the album. That sort of pointed the way for us for a while.
T: Argybargy is considered by many critics as the album where you grew up. Did you feel that you found a comfortable direction at that point?
GT: I think so. Cool For Cats, which followed the first album, was like our proper first album, because they had discarded all our songs and told us to write new ones, which we had dutifully done. Cool For Cats represented the band’s sound live as it had been at that time.
Argybargy was more of a thoughtful album, and a bit more of a real record for us.
T: Around this time Jools Holland left, which started a pretty regular revolving door. Looking back, did the constant juggling hurt the momentum?
GT: I thought it did in those days. I don’t any longer think it does, because the heart of the band always revolved around the writing of Chris and I. At that time it was very upsetting, because I hadn’t accounted for the fact that anyone would ever want to leave. I can perfectly understand why, nowadays.
T: The next album, East Side Story, stands out for its wide range of styles. Was this a conscious attempt to break out of the regular routine?
GT: No, we had always done a very wide range of stuff, almost too wide. Our management said, I think very rightly so, “If you do all that stuff, people won’t know what to make of you. Just sort of narrow it down and expand later”. Elvis Costello, who produced that album, did that in a good way. There were some songs that I would never have considered played for the band that he pulled out and said, let’s use it.
“Labeled For Love” is a good instance of that, being sort of country influenced. I was never going to play that for anybody, but I was fast forwarding a cassette of demos to find one that I wanted to play. I stopped on that song and Elvis said “let’s do that one”.
T: What was Elvis like to work with?GT: He was very inspirational for us, I think. He had a certain sense of direction and urgency that I don’t think we had, so that was very inspiring for us.
T: At this point, although you were huge in Britain, success in America was tougher to come by. When you finally did have a hit with “Tempted”, it wasn’t even sung by you or Difford. Was this frustrating?
GT: Not really, because Paul (Carrack) sang it in such a great way. I love that record and think he did a great job on it. I would have never sung it that way.
T: The press, however, was behind you from the very beginning. I remember one review around this time that basically stated you had yet to write a bad song. Do you think the rock press helped you out in those days?GT: I think we’ve been fairly lucky that we had a good situation. I think that was very encouraging. It meant that when our albums weren’t selling overly well, that at least we had some encouragement from somewhere, that it wasn’t all going horribly wrong (laughs).
T: One thing that I’m sure got frustrating after a while was the Lennon/McCartney comparisons. Do you think the comparisons are valid, and how much of a bother did that become to you after a few years?
GT: It’s a very flattering comparison. I don’t see any connection, really, besides the fact that we’re British and a songwriting duo. To me, it would be valid if we were tremendously successful, but we haven’t been tremendously commercially successful. I think our writing style is ages away from their writing style. It’s a very flattering comparison. It was one that you had to consciously try to live down for a while. Now I don’t really think about it.
T: In the early 80’s, there was a musical based on your songs. How did that come about?
GT: After we’d done Sweets From a Stranger and toured, we had done five albums in five years and done a lot of touring, and I think we were all wiped out. It was a bit like being put in a dishwasher backwards so you come out of that process.
And we were still young. To be honest, at that time I felt we had done everything we could do. We had played Madison Square Garden, so we had reached that kind of level, at least on the East and West Coasts.
We were just burned out. What we should have done was take a rest, but what we rather dramatically di was to say to the band, “that’s it, we’re splitting up”. So it was nice to get involved in a musical, and suddenly instead of five people to deal with in a band, you’re in a situation where you’re dealing with 30 people – the cast, the script writer, director, house band. It was a fantastic experience, but it also took up quite a lot of time. But it was very rewarding.
T: Around that time, MTV became very big, mainly due to its airplay of British pop music. Do you think you missed a big opportunity by splitting the band at this point?
GT: Who’s to say? At any given point you make a decision and you go in that direction.
T: Why did the band get back together, and did it seem like the old days?
GT: No, it didn’t seem like the old days, which was fantastic, because by the time we split up it was fairly miserable. We spent the last year before we split up not really enjoying ourselves. That’s a terrible thing to happen for a musician. To not enjoy what you do is just hell.
I had sworn that we would never get back together, but when we did (it) was for a small charity gig at a London pub. We didn’t rehearse for it; we just went in and played, and it was such tremendous fun that we realized at the time it would be silly not to get the band together again. It felt so good. We decided to structure it so we would have more time; that music wasn’t the only thing you do.
T: Your second album after reforming, Babylon and On, became a big success. Were you surprised after years of limited success?
GT: I was pleased with Babylon and On, because I think it represented what I thought the band was capable of at that time. It had our only real hits in America, which was gratifying after years of banging your head against the wall.
T: With Babylon’s success, one would have thought your next album would be huge, especially one as good as Frank. Why do you think that album didn’t do so well?GT: It’s an album that I’m still very proud of, and we were unfortunate enough to release it at a time when A&M (their record company at the time) was being sold. Everyone at the label was insecure about their jobs at that point, and I’m afraid we were the men in the middle.
T: After signing with Warner Brothers, you reportedly wrote more than 30 songs for the Play album. Were you upset with the lack of support for that album?
GT: Anytime you have a record out, it’s sort of like making a baby, and seeing how it develops. I don’t want to sound pretentious, but it’s a very personal thing, and you put something of yourself into it. When it doesn’t happen, of course you’re upset. I have to say that I was pleased with the album, and I still think it contains some of our best stuff. What I don’t think it has, and why I don’t think it sold, is something on it that says “this is definitely a single”.
T: One of the more interesting things about that album is the liner notes, where the lyrics are arranged in a script format. Did they just happen to work out that way, or did you write some songs just to make them fit?GT: That was the last idea of all, actually. Before we assembled the running order of the album, Chris and our A&R guy, Tim Carr, came up with the idea together. It sort of made it more interesting than just a straightforward lyrical layout. In a way I think it (lyric sheets) robs you of a bit of your imagination. I’m a big fan of radio plays or reading a book, because it creates a scenario that you imagine. I think it’s the same as listening to a lyric. And the difference between listening to a lyric and reading it is the same difference between reading a play or a book and watching a film.
T: Most people think that everyone in the music business is extremely rich, yet I saw an interview with you a couple of years ago where you said you had to go on tour to raise money to record Frank. After 15 years of releasing albums, are you set for life after music?
GT: (Laughs) That makes it sound like it’s boring. I like touring and playing live, and when I’m not touring, I’m playing in my house. I’m lucky enough to get paid for what I love. But it’s an expensive thing to run a band, and at that point there were five of us who needed keeping the year round, and when we’re rehearsing and recording. That’s the point of recording, to keep yourself afloat financially.
T: Over the years, you have made a name for yourselves by playing live. You said you enjoy touring, but do you think it keeps your music fresh?
GT: Oh yeah, like this tour we’ve got almost a completely different band. But what the band’s had, ever since we got back together, is the ability to absorb lineup changes and make it work in our favor.
On this tour, Chris fell ill before the tour and we were thinking about whether to cancel it or not. But we decided not to because we got such a strong band with Keith Wilkinson and half of the Attractions (Elvis Costello’s band for most of his career) and it’s just fantastic. We all miss Chris very much, but the sound we’re making is fearson.
T: Is he out temporarily?
GT: Yeah, he’s got this lung infection and he’s taking care until the end of August.
T: What do former Attractions Steve Nieve and Pete Thomas add to your music?GT: Both Steve and Pete are extremely gifted players, and they have an intensity that brings a lot to the group.
T: The “unplugged” acoustic format is nothing new to you. You and Chris have done a few tours before. What do you think it does to enhance your music?GT: It’s fantastic to strip down songs and hear them in sort of a more naked form, without embellishments. That’s the whole appeal to me.
T: Do you think it brings out your songwriting skills more?
GT: It lets the songs breathe. It’s a less cluttered way of doing it. Although I have to say that what’s happening on this tour, with Chris falling ill, is that things start out very bare and it sort of grows throughout the evening until it ends up being an electric set. It gradually transforms itself, which is a nice way for it to be.
T: How are the audiences reacting to seeing the Attractions play with you?
GT: Brilliant! It’s some inspired company (laughs).
T: What’s in the future for Squeeze?
GT: After this tour, we’re finishing building a studio for ourselves. We’re going to make our next record in there. We’re starting in September.
T: As far as the current music scene goes, what do you listen to?GT: I like the Teenage Fanclub album. Actually, I like the George Harrison live album, on the other side of the spectrum.
T: Do you hear a lot of your influence on today’s music, especially in the pure pop stuff like Teenage Fanclub?
GT: Yeah, there’s elements of us that you can hear in a lot of things. That’s nice. I’ve just been working with a guy who’s just been signed to a label in London, who actually grew up listening to us. He was seven when he first started to listen to us. Now he’s got a deal. Working with him and singing with him is quite amazing. He’s got his own thing, but he sounds like me as well. So singing with him is strange.
T: Any final thoughst?
GT: Just that we’re the most fantastic people to see live, and I recommend that everyone come to see us (laughs).

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Please Help!

This little girl is the child of a friend of a friend. Any help would be appreciated.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Six Months Six Albums

Six Months, Six Albums Everybody Should Own

“There’s no good music these days.”
One hears this phrase a lot, and it’s not just from “old” people. Music fans of all ages are prone to utter this phrase in a variety of forums, from personal interaction to blogs and chat rooms.
It’s simply not true, though. There are many good-to-great albums released every single week; it’s just become more of a task to discover these artists and albums.
If your music knowledge comes primarily from traditional forms of media, including radio and television, it’s easy to have this opinion. Network television is dominated by the likes of Ashlee Simpson, Britney Spears, and the twits from American Idol. MTV’s rare music plays consist of nothing but catch-phrase rap and whiny pop/punk.
Radio is even worse. In fact, it’s probably the worst it’s ever been. Playlists have become nationalized and shrunk, and the majority of airtime in almost every genre is given to the market-researched, middle-of-the-road acts that rarely take any chances.
With the year now barely past the halfway point, it’s time to take a look back at some of the highlights of the past six months. I’ve decided to highlight one album from each month, along with a list of a few other noteworthy albums.

January
Cat Power, The Greatest.
January is generally a bleak month for new releases, but Chan Marshall (aka Cat Power) snuck out the best album of her career. Much of the credit must go to her backing band, a legendary lineup of Memphis session veterans who obviously had never heard of this eccentric indie-rocker. Marshall has never sang better as she has on this collection of old-school sexy southern soul.
Other noteworthy releases: The Gossip, Standing In the Way of Control; Robert Pollard, From a Compound Eye; Steve Wynn, Tick, Tick, Tick.

February
Willie Nile, Streets of New York.
New York singer/songwriter Willie Nile has jumped in and out of the record business since the early 80’s, but in a perfect world this great album should push him into the major leagues. Streets of New York is a blender of hipster singer/songwriter rock; elements of Ryan Adams, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, the Stones, and the Clash (most notably on his cover of “Police On My Back”) mash up into the surprise album of the year.
Other noteworthy releases: Belle & Sebastian, The Life Pursuit; KT Tunstall, Eye To the Telescope; The Minus 5, The Gun Album; Arctic Monkeys, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not; Ray Davies, Other People’s Lives; Hank Williams III, Straight to Hell; Deadboy and the Elephantmen, We Are the Night Sky; Rhett Miller, The Believer.

March
Isobell Campbell and Mark Lanegan, Ballad of the Broken Seas.
In a year full of surprises, this collaboration of duets between former members of Belle & Sebastian and Screaming Trees is probably the most jaw-dropping. Scottish singer Campbell was in the process of recording this album when she met the gruff Seattle vocalist while he was on tour with Queens of the Stone Age. The collaborated over email, with Campbell sending Lanegan rough mixes for his added vocals. The results are a darker version of the classic Nancy Sinatra/Lee Hazelwood hits of the 60’s.
Other noteworthy releases: Centro-matic, Fort Recovery; Loose Fur, Born Again in the U.S.A.; New Amsterdams, Story Like a Scar; Mogwai, Mr. Beast; Mudhoney, Under a Billion Suns; Neko Case, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood; Josh Rouse, Subtitulo; Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Show Your Bones; Exene Cervenka and the Original Sinners, Sev7en; Van Morrison, Pay the Devil; Scott Miller, Citation; Prince, 3121.

April
Drive-By Truckers, A Blessing and a Curse.
After two high-profile concept albums (Southern Rock Opera and The Dirty South), the greatest southern rock band of the past two decades lightened their load a bit with this traditional eleven-song album. With no storyline hampering their song selection, the band escapes a bit from their typical modern-day version of southern rock ‘n’ roll. The Replacements, Faces, and the Rolling Stones emerge as influences almost as important as Skynyrd and the Allmans, although this album is much calmer than their previous efforts.
Other noteworthy releases: Josh Ritter, The Animal Years; Calexico, Garden Ruin; Flaming Lips, At War With the Mystics; Tommy Keene, Crashing the Ether; Bruce Springsteen, We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions; The Church, Uninvited, Like the Clouds; Babyshambles, Down In Ambion; Morrissey, Ringleader of the Tormentors.

May
The Raconteurs, Broken Boy Soldiers.
“Supergroups” rarely work. There’s generally a clash of egos coupled with a desire to go so far against the grain of their more famous work that the resulting albums are lukewarm at best. The Raconteurs debut album is a success simply because they ignore those trappings. White Stripes leader Jack White brought in the blistering bluesy guitar that made him famous; singer/songwriter Brendan Benson put in his trademark McCartney-ish pop touch while Greenhornes’ rhythm section Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler added elements of garage-rock. The results may not sound like the releases that made them famous (or at least cult heroes), but they’re not as far removed that fans of any of these acts will be disappointed.
Other noteworthy releases: Grandaddy, Just Like the Family Cat; Mission of Burma, The Obliterati; Neil Young, Living With War; Twilight Singers, Powder Burns; Alejandro Escovedo, The Boxing Mirror; The Keene Brothers, Blues and Boogie Shoes; Tim Easton, Ammunition. Gnarls Barkley, St. Elsewhere; T-Bone Burnette, The True False Identity. Mason Jennings, Boneclouds; Red Hot Chili Peppers, Stadium Arcadium; Paul Simon, Surprise; Dixie Chicks, Taking the Long Way (believe it or not, this album is great); Dave Alvin, Way of the West.

June
Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint, The River In Reverse.
After setting the world ablaze with a handful of angst-driven releases, Elvis Costello has become the most unpredictable songwriter in the music business. Even Neil Young has never recorded with symphonies or utilized hip/hop backbeats. On this album, he collaborates with Allen Toussaint on not only the legendary New Orleans songwriter’s best-known tunes but a handful of brand new co-writes. Primarily recorded a few blocks away from the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, this album is much more than a well-timed curiosity. Costello has never sang better than on these tunes, and Joe Henry’s “live in the studio” production captures the energy created by musicians from both artist’s backing bands.
Other noteworthy releases: Cracker, Greenland; Sonic Youth, Ripped; Camera Obscura, Let’s Get Out of the Country; Cheap Trick, Rockford; The Bottle Rockets, Zoysia; Ice Cube, Laugh Now, Cry Later; Allison Moorer, Getting Somewhere; The Replacements, Don’t You Know Who I Think I Was?.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

"Hey, Baby, It's the Fourth of July"

Like most holidays, I had a lot of time on my hands and very little to do. My son was working, and the family gathering wasn’t scheduled until later in the day. Sure, I could have done some work around the house. The garage needs cleaning; the CD room is an unorganized mess. Instead, I laid around the Hudsonland compound watching all of the awful Judge Judy ripoff shows and browsing my favorite websites.
Being the 4th of July, my thoughts inevitably turned to the concept of patriotism. This is a word that’s been hijacked in recent years. Patriotism has nothing to do with metallic decals, flag-embroidered clothing, and other nick-nacks that are trotted out so clems can feel superior to their neighbors.
Patriotism in my eyes is about living a good life. It’s about working hard, paying my share of taxes, and performing good deeds. (Yes, despite my public image I’m actually a pretty good guy.) Most importantly, it’s about living up to the ideals of our constitution.
In recent years, however, a certain group of people have hijacked the word patriotism. To these people, any act that goes against their standards is considered treason. Somehow they’ve concluded that they set the moral tone of our country…and anybody who disagrees with their beliefs “hates America”.
While these sorts of people have always been around, they really came to power after the horrific events of 9/11. Within days, our Constitution was under attack with the secretly-written yet horrifically-titled “Patriot Act”. Without giving Congress any time to even read the bill (it was written just hours before being introduced), our elected officials undercut a good portion of the Bill of Rights.
Since then, this administration has continued to assault our individual rights. Our phones may be tapped, our internet usage may be monitored, and our bank records are subject to the eyes of the government. At the same time, any complaint about not only these practices but any criticism of the government is attacked by the likes of Ann Coulter, Bill O’Reilly, and Michelle Malkin. Dissent has all but been stricken from the Constitution, aided by a mainstream media that is so worried about appearing liberal that they have allowed the extreme right to take over.
As a person who has refused to join either party, and has helped elect members on both sides of the fence, I am completely disgusted with almost all of our politicians. Instead of working to improve our great country, the majority of their time is spent on meaningless bills that are set in motion only to fuel their midterm election campaigns.
Gay marriage? Who cares? How does it affect me if one person with a penis falls so in love with another penis that they want to spend their life with them?
The Iraq referendum? This was no serious vote to set the future of our troops in Iraq. This was a vote to create the “stay the course” vesus “cut and run” commercials.
The lowest moment came a couple of weeks ago when the Flag Amendment was once again introduced. Before you call me a Commie, however, I must say that like the majority of Americans, I would never burn a flag. Yet, there’s no reason for a law against it. Do you know how often it happens? In the past ten years, there are less than a dozen documented instances. Outside of political posturing, there’s no need to waste millions of dollars to change the Constitution to ban such a rare act.
I know this will never occur, or at least won’t for quite some time, but we need some real change in our country’s government. It’s time that we demand that our elected officials think about our country first and their political party second. It’s time for our government to actually work on solving the country’s problems instead of grandstanding for their press releases and cable news channel appearances. Hopefully, every one of them spent a little bit of time on this national holiday actually reading the Constitution.