Saturday, September 29, 2012

Rivers and roads

 I know my blogging has been sporadic in the past year or so, and I'm not sure there's a great explanation for it. I'm on the computer for a large part of the day every day - it's my job, for one thing - and I have a Facebook account, an Instagram account, a Twitter account, a Flickr account, and email. That's a lot of online stuff to keep up, and the avenues of more immediate communication tend to win out over the blog. I don't see the tide turning anytime soon. I'll write from time to time when the mood strikes, but if you're so inclined, you can find me on Twitter @BeeeKay - yep, three E's - and/or Instagram where I'm beeekay1. Flickr is linked from the blog already.

Since I am writing, what's been going on in the last couple of months? I'm working on a totally new project with different people in a new office at work, so that's been quite interesting. I went to the Hideout Block Party in Chicago a couple weekends ago, and saw and heard some bands - the Waco Brothers, Kelly Hogan, Wye Oak, and Wilco among them. I spent much of the day at the merch tent, where my friends were volunteering, and it was a good vantage from which to enjoy the block party's relaxed vibe. Performers and their families are able to walk around without hassle: mingling with friends, stopping over to get change from their merchandise sales, etc.  I watched Wilco's set from the sound booth, a fun perspective at a festival. It was interesting to see the lighting adjusted in real time and the video screen of the stage projections. Many of them I never would have guessed, especially not from up front.

This past Wednesday, I saw Andrew Bird in Madison with Tamala and Rob. Andrew rarely disappoints, and his set at the Overture was different from the one I saw at a ballpark in Geneva, and also from the last time I saw him play a theater in Milwaukee. The band played new songs from the upcoming Hands of Glory, including one freshly written in August. They did four or five acoustic songs around the old-timey microphone. Included were a Handsome Family cover I hadn't seen from them before ("When That Helicopter Comes"), and a Townes Van Zandt cover in the first encore. There were only a handful of songs from anything earlier than the most recent two albums (and the future album). One of the older songs was "Don't Be Scared," one of my all-time faves. And another Handsome Family song, come to think of it. I would be remiss if I didn't mention that the lighting and projections at the show were superb. So beautiful. Patterns and shadows were manipulated to great effect using the spinning horn sculptures hanging above the stage. I didn't take any photos, but the ones in the linked article are excellent.

Last night I saw The Head and the Heart and Blitzen Trapper at the sold-out Capitol Theater with some friends from work. I'd never seen either band before, and enjoyed the show very much. I was happy (if not surprised) to hear my favorite Blitzen Trapper song, "Furr." The headlining Head and the Heart came out firing on all cylinders. They mentioned they've been touring on their self-titled album for more than two years now, and it showed - it seems they have all the song performances down to a science. Which is not to say that things seemed stale, because they definitely did not. The crowd on the floor fed off the band's energy, dancing and bouncing and clapping during the faster songs. To flesh out the setlist, the band also played a handful of newer songs, including a solo tune during the encore that Josiah Johnson said he'd never played at a show.


And today, Saturday, seemed like a perfect day to enjoy the fall foliage in Wisconsin. I took a drive up to Taliesin, home of Frank Lloyd Wright. I'm an admirer of architecture in general and the Prairie style in particular, so I'm not sure why I've lived an hour away from Taliesin for years and never made the trip before. I decided on the house and garden tour, which was great (if expensive). Today's weather was perfect, and I find it hard to imagine how the landscape at any other time of year could compare to a sunny day on the cusp of October. After Taliesin I had lunch in downtown Spring Green and then took "Scenic Byway" 60 east for about thirty miles to enjoy the rolling hills, multicolored trees, and Wisconsin River before cutting back down south for home. Central Wisconsin may not be Maine when it comes to the autumn landscape, but it is jaw-droppingly beautiful in places - especially the Driftless Region where the glaciers never intruded on the hills.