Saturday, April 28, 2012

If you're trying to paint a picture

Jeff Tweedy Basement Show, year eight! It's hard to believe we have been doing this for eight years. Each time it doesn't seem like very long since the last time, but somehow they add up.

2012 did mark a milestone: the first time our show has switched basements. We moved from Hotel SnS to the newly christened Casa K&A, home of Kris and Alison. Luckily they have a sunken basement, so the show's private nomenclature remains intact.

If you want to consider it another milestone of sorts, 2012 was also the first year that we didn't commission a professional poster. This wasn't completely intentional, but it ended up spawning one of the most entertaining parts of the afternoon: a DIY poster studio. When it became clear that a premade poster wasn't going to materialize, I bought some poster board and sifted markers, crayons, and stickers from the dregs of my old art supplies. With marker and pencil additions from Alison and Tamala, the stage was set. Originally I envisioned this as something of a lark, but people really got into it! We ended up with a lot of great, creative, hilarious posters that everyone enjoyed showing off to each other ... and to our guests of honor after the show.

Ah, the show. Jeff played everyone's requests (a few people had to make alternate choices) and we even got a preview of the upcoming Mavis record. After striking out on my first try last year, my request for "Dark Neon" was granted! I've been wanting to hear it live since it came out, so that was exciting. Paul's request of "Give Back The Key To My Heart" inspired some talk of Doug Sahm, and Rob's "You Are Not Alone" led to some of the funniest stories of the night. "I Shall Be Released" was poignant so soon after Levon Helm's passing - something a smaller group of us also observed in the wee hours of the morning with a singalong to "The Weight." Long after Jeff, Susan, and Mark went home, we were still singing and dancing and snacking on the remnants of our yearly potluck. After a year's hiatus it was great to have Patti and Mart back, with Mart's considerable musical chops elevating our late night jam session to the next level.

Every additional year we're able to make this show happen at this point is icing on the cake. Will there be even more icing? Stay tuned in 2013 to find out.

Also see 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter roundup

Easter 1981
My, but I am bad at blogging lately. To catch up, here's the best friend of lazy bloggers everywhere (followed closely by the every-popular all-photo post): bullet points!
  • Last weekend were the benefit shows Jeff Tweedy plays each year at the Vic in Chicago. Always a great time, with friends coming from afar, and the chance request songs - provided you're in line early enough. This year I opted for new and old: "Art of Almost" and "Watch Me Fall." I was also able to lend a hand in the collection of requests on Saturday, a privilege that I did not abuse. What do you take me for? The weekend also included a trip to Hot Doug's. Oh, Hot Doug's.
  • The excavation of old photos and other artifacts at my parents' house continues. I was in Kenosha for Easter, and today's haul included a trove of early 1940's birthday, Valentine, Christmas, and (appropriately) Easter cards received by my mother. They've survived over sixty years in bright, primary color. I didn't bring any home with me, but at some point I'd expect a showcase of the best cards to appear here.
  • I'm mulling sabbatical destinations. Final contenders include the Greek Islands and Argentina. Greece beckons me a little louder, but god, I can't even read the alphabet without confusing it with Russian. Not that I'm a fluent speaker of Spanish by any stretch of the imagination, but compared to my Greek skills I might as well be. I think the trip, whatever it is, will probably take place next spring. Meanwhile, a jaunt to Colorado is in the works for this summer. I still have my eye on those last four U.S. states, too. 
  • Netflix has been a blessing and a curse in terms of letting me catch the entire run of now-finished TV shows. Shows I never watched while they were on, that is. In the past five or six years I've worked my way through Buffy (that took over a year), Six Feet Under, The Sopranos, and The Wire. Right now I'm deep into Season 4 of The West Wing. No spoilers!