Sunday, November 21, 2010

Things I've done lately

November isn't a month with a lot going on around these parts, but I've managed to keep occupied. Last Friday, I won tickets to see the band Dawes play live at Studio M at the Triple M radio station.  I'd heard good buzz about Dawes live, though I was a little suspicious after reading about their connection with Jonathan Wilson and the whole Laurel Canyon crowd.  I wasn't able to attend their Friday night show at the Majestic, so the chance to see them free in a very small room that afternoon was much appreciated.

Triple M gave out free beer and Blue Sky soda before the show, an unexpected bonus.  Not being a soda or beer fan, I still appreciated the thought.  After drinks were distributed, approximately twenty of us were led down to the studio where Dawes was already set up on a small stage.  They played four songs, and were interviewed for about half an hour.  It was interesting to be part of a future radio broadcast - a little bit like being in a TV audience.  I enjoyed the performance, although judging from some of the questions in the interview, I'm guessing I don't have a much better feel for the full Dawes live show than I did before.  According to lead singer Taylor Goldsmith, they don't typically use acoustic guitars at all.  The studio performance consisted of one acoustic guitar, and three voices - the bass player didn't attend, because he doesn't sing.  Maybe I'll catch a proper Dawes show sometime.  From all I've heard, good things seem to be ahead for the band.

On Thursday, I saw Anthony Bourdain at the Overture Center.  I'm a fan of Tony's various TV shows and books, but I wasn't sure what to expect from his live appearance.  As it turned out, more of the delightful same: trash talk about various Food Network personalities, anecdotes about Top Chef, rants and advice about traveling and eating abroad, and a lengthy Q&A session at the end.  Someone asked a leading question about high speed trains in Wisconsin, earning a huge laugh and big applause when Tony - clearly getting that he had suddenly become part of some inside joke - nevertheless spoke in favor of high speed rail.  Listening to the crowd's reaction, I again wished Dane County could somehow secede from Wisconsin.

Between those two activities, I had a birthday.  There was no big trip or serenades this year, but I had a very pleasant day and heard from many friends and family members.  Plus, a coworker friend brought a birthday treat to work on my behalf.  Someone else baking your birthday treat: highly recommended.  And this afternoon: Harry Potter!

Monday, November 8, 2010


I was home sick one day last week, and figured I might as well make myself useful.  I proceeded to dig out and catalog all of the posters I've acquired and not hung up over the past eight years or so.  Nearly all are music-related: a mixture of show posters, album posters, and generic artist posters, with the odd music documentary poster and ... 1996 U.S. Men's Olympic Gymnastics Team poster ... thrown in.  Again: these are posters that have been stored in two closets in my home, mostly unframed, not doing anybody any good.

Q: How many posters were there?
A: There were fifty-seven posters.

I know this makes it sound like the Hoarders production crew might be stopping by at any moment, but I swear you'd never know to look at my closets that they harbored fifty-seven posters.  They take up so little room propped flat against the wall!  Even rolled up in groups, they're deceptively unassuming.

Of course, I didn't buy all of them.  Some were torn from windows or doors after a show, some were included with the purchase of an album, some were freebies from friendly record stores.  Still, perhaps the knowledge that I have fifty-seven undisplayed posters in my house ought to prevent me from ever purchasing a poster again.  It's true that I have curbed my poster-buying in recent years ... but sometimes I can't resist.  I'm a sucker for local venue posters, or posters from shows I'm proud to have seen.  I keep thinking that I'll frame more of them, and I will!  Really!  If nothing else, this project reminded me that I have some gems that deserve to be enjoyed.

But where to put them?  Between the spare bedroom and my office at work, I already have a respectable total on display.  The living room and hallways could accommodate many more, but it's not the design aesthetic I'm striving for in the main living areas of my home.  I could rotate the posters that are on display now.  Maybe I need to explore the untapped potential of bathrooms.

Here are a few of the posters I cataloged last week.  The others can be found in this Flickr set.  Any votes for which ones should be framed (and/or actually hung) next?

Monday, November 1, 2010

A jet plane and a big idea

For a long time now, I've wanted to see a show at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.  I've seen The Avett Brothers live twice, and thoroughly enjoyed both concerts.  So when the Avetts announced a pair of Halloween shows at the Ryman earlier this year, including one on Saturday night, I thought, "Hey, I should go to that."  And I did.

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals opened the show, calling out a surprise guest on one song for a duet: Kenny Chesney.  I honestly wasn't sure if it really was Kenny Chesney at the time - it seems it was - but he did sound good.  Grace Potter's crew was dressed in NASCAR gear for Halloween, and Grace claimed that she and her bassist were dressed as "professionals ... not professional musicians."

The curtain closed between sets, keeping stage preparations a mystery.  In the meantime, the well-costumed crowd entertained itself by singing loudly along with "Living on a Prayer" and "Rocket Man."  Eventually, the lights dimmed and the curtain parted to reveal a suitably creepy Halloween setup.  The band, dressed as mummies, lurched onstage and hammed it up before beginning the show with fitting opener: "Die Die Die."

Judging from reports of Friday's show, the Avetts varied the setlists widely across the two nights.  I was happy to hear "In the Curve," and "SSS," even if I missed "Laundry Room."  Bob Crawford, Seth, and Scott all took solo turns on Saturday.  "Murder in the City" was the first song of the encore, with Scott sporting a new tiara along with the mummy costume - an interesting juxtaposition with the simple, heartfelt lyrics of the song.  I think I've seen "Murder in the City" each time I've seen the band, but this was the first time I heard Scott sing "my brother" and "my father" in place of "sister" and "mother." (The other two times, I think he substituted wife and daughter.  It's a versatile song.)

Two hours after the show began, it ended with Grace Potter and a couple of her band members dancing on stage with the Avetts, and Scott and Seth cutting off pieces of their mummy costumes to hand out to audience members.  I left the Ryman happy on Halloween Eve - and even returned for a backstage tour the next day before my flight home.  I'm pleased that I can check the Ryman Auditorium off my list of places to visit - and very pleased that I saw The Avett Brothers one more time in 2010.