Thursday, September 20, 2007

Brandi, Brandi, Brandi

You walk into Texas Union Ballroom and it couldn't be a more perfect place for Brandi Carlile to play. With candle-lit chandeliers and dark wood everywhere, a random stage set up on one side and people began to filter in. It's an intimate setting...maybe at max holds around 500. It wasn't sold out, but it should have been.

I just finished reading this book, "This Is Your Brain on Music. The Science of a Human Obsession." There was a chapter in the book where it talked about music and emotion. Those of you that know me, know I feel everything to the deepest extent. There is NO gray area in my feeling. (I know it drives a lot of people absolutely NUTS) In the book it says that music communicates to us emotionally through systematic violations of expectations. Those violations being domain of pitch, timbre, contour, rhythm, tempo and so on. Brandi does just that with every song. She moves you to this place where you want to escape with every word and sit with that feeling for a little while.

Her show....a bit of a religious experience. Pulling from both of their releases (2005’s self-titled Brandi Carlile and this year's The Story), the band moves through crowd favorites like "What Can I Say," "Closer to You," "Josephine," "Wasted", and you anticipate the recent album's title track. Carlile's incredible pipes alternate between growling notes and swooning melodies, displaying the impeccable control and ingenuity that is so rare in contemporary vocalists. Her flip from chest to head voice is for the most part....seamless, and when it isn't, it makes sense. They come back out for an Encore and attack a cover song you won't generally hear a woman singing. One can only imagine the smile on my face as they began to play Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues," and Carlile pulls it off with all the playful regret Cash intended, proving once and for all that she knows what she does best, and won't stop until everyone else does, too. Gib Droll was a guest guitarist with them for the evening and his solo on "Folsom Prison Blues" is a spotlight-stealer. (if you don't know who Gib Droll is, well he is an absolute gem. I have seen him play with a few bands and he always adds this extra 'thing'. He just has it.) You can't forget the cello player on stage as well, who is given a few moments to shine, and shine Neumann is cool to see a cello player rock out.

This band was on. I mean ON.

There were a few moments in the evening when Brandi went completely out of the box. She sat down with her 4 band members and did a 3 song set totally acoustic. Then she did one new song completely unplugged. Even her vocals. Totally in the air, and you could still feel her energy without the sound system.

One particular moment I probably won't forget is when she sat by herself during the Encore and played a new song. It was a song about a friend who had committed suicide when she was 16 and 10 years later, had finally made peace with it. Her vulnerability made you feel as if it was just you and her in your living room...talking about tough life shit.

So she wrote a song about making peace and forgiving her friend. These words:
"I was 16, I was a Baptist, I was angry, I was a daughter, I was wrong."

After that, she stood, switched guitars and broke into Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" Soulful, honest, careful. It was the perfect ending to a perfect night of music.

Her tour might be coming to a city close to you. I paid $18 for these tickets. I would have paid $50. Check our her schedule here and make it happen.

In the words of Shakespeare:

"If music be the food of love, (Brandi) play on."

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Rootless Tree

Broken hearts. Suck. Two steps forwards, two steps back. That is they way it seems. You know he isn't good for you, but you can't learn to let go.....completely. I downloaded this song last night and it is really the way I feel.

Damien Rice said it right in "Rootless Tree":

What I want from you is empty your head
They say be true, don't stay in your bed
We do what we need to be free
And it leans on me like a rootless tree

What I want from us is empty our minds
We fake the thoughts, and fracture the times
We go blind when we've needed to see
And this leans on me, like a rootless...

*uck you, *uck you, *uck you
And all we've been through
I said leave it, leave it, leave it
There's nothing in you
And did you hate me, hate me, hate me, hate me so good
That you just let me out, let me out, let me out
Of this hell when you're around

What I want from this
Is learn to let go
No not of you
Of all that's been told
Killers re-invent and believe
And this leans on me, like a rootless...

That's all for today.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

just a few more pics!!

Some explanations:

1. Day One...Let's get this party started right.
2. yeah. That's me.
3. Don't Know What's Happening Here.
4. Indigo Girls..Did I mention their show?
5. Um, apparently this is where Steph said I got "interesting" One can only imagine what that means.

So at some point I need to work today. But why? I think I want a job with ACL. I am going to look into that!

Top Hits from ACL 2007

Poor Little Rich Boy, Regina Spektor- she began playing the percussion with the right hand on a chair (with a drumstick), then started playing the piano with her left...and then started singing. I tried this, it's hard. And she sounded amazing.

Keep The Car Running, Arcade Fire- this was by far the best set played at ACL. Once again, get there newest album, Neon Bible. Well worth the purchase. You will thank me. (I thank my friend Iskra) This song is so infectious, but if you ask me....that is just who they are...infectious.
Kid Fears, Indigo Girls- this is one of my all time favorite Indigo Girls tunes. And to see it live was so very personal. Just go check out the lyrics.

Jenny Don't be Hasty, Paolo Nutini- 20 year old Scottish singer song-writer. I know this is not the favorite of most Nutini fans, but I love this song off his most recent album These Streets, it's about a woman Nutini met in London's 12 bar. Expert simple lyrics, catchy tune. Just plain fun and he's not bad to look at either.

I Turn My Camera On, Spoon- Probably the song I love best from their album Gimme Fiction. The beat makes you want to dance (mixed with a few beers of course!!) It's the song that made me like Spoon. Brit, will you go out with me?

Sky Blue Sky, Wilco- Jeff Tweedy's soulful vocals and guitar player Nels Cline answer to the vocals. It's a beautiful conversation. They are a band I could see over and over again.

Are you Diggin on me?, Joss Stone- She opens her mouth and the lost child of Irma Thomas comes belting out. I have a friend here that vows she oversings but I find her quite gushing!! Soulful as all get out!!

All These Things That I've Done, The Killers- I just love that they ended their set with this. It's a good song, Brandon Flowers sang that crud out of it and I went home happy! It was a great way to end day #1!!

So those are the few that come to mind....just off the top of my head but I know there were more than 8 from the whole weekend! The best 2 covers I heard this weekend...I Wanna Be Like You (yes, from the Jungle Book) done by paolo Nutini and Midnight Train to Georgia done by the Indigo Girls. The first was just fun and the second completely blew you away!!

Are you all SICK of my ACL banter? I am sure you are....but you will have to deal.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Austin City Limits- It's A Wrap!!

So, ACL is done. It's now Monday afternoon and I am in the recovery phase! I just dropped my good friend Stephanie off at the airport and we have tons of good memories from this weekend!

The last day Recap!!

Ben Kweller was up first! Very entertaining and super cute in a nerdy kind of way! He is sticking around Austin to record his next album.

Then we moved to the stage next door where we saw Common. This was the replacement for Rodrigo y Gabriela. Not much of a replacement. Shame on you Rodrigo. I was not aware the lead singers name was "common", just so you all know. It is.

We moved over to see the one and only Lucinda Williams, I wish I would have gone to Bloc Party. I like Lucinda....but she was a bit small for the big stage they threw her on.

Next was Regina Spektor. Just her and the piano. It came across as though she was settting up to play a recital for her grandparents. It was very cute how overwhelmed she was with the large crowd before her. She did her music justice and proved herself as a talent to watch over the next few years. "Poor Little Rich Boy" was done one-handed...more on this at a later post...GENIUS!!

Wilco was next. Wilco gave a GREAT show and I wish they would have ended the festival rather than have the 630-745 time when the sun wasn't down yet. They would have been a great 90 minute spot at the end of a 3 days festival. Wilco closed down the AMD stage with a brilliant set. It not only rocked hard, but was remarkable for the contrast between the mastery shown in endearing melodies, impeccable arrangements and beautiful lead and harmony vocals, and the sheer havoc that erupted around the margins. You MUST see them live at some point. The set had multiple peaks, but Wilco still managed to make the end a real climax with a searing “Casino Queen” (from A.M.). (I know that Stephanie and Amber will recall I had to move further back to take a seat on the grass about half way through, I am glad I did this, as I was able to enjoy them even more from my blanket on the grass!!)

ahhhh.....then the anticipated Dylan. Yes. For those of you that are Dylan fans, I may hurt your feelings but I want you to know that I am just trying to be honest. And well, I am pretty sure a lot in Austin would agree with me. I was pretty disappointed with Bob. First let me start with telling you, I am a fan. But I don't think this kind of crowd (which consisted of a lot of us iPod agers) could really appreciate. We know that Dylan is not known for his vocals, I mean....I don't find him soothing at all at this point in his career but wow....even if you are charitable about that, his music is not right for the BIG finish you want at a festival you paid $120+ for tickets. Dylan never acknowledged the fans, I mean NEVER. He never said hello Austin, I am glad to be here....maybe he doesn't have to, but it was really self-indulgent to the point where he began to piss me off. He wore his large white hat, with his face in the shadows and moved from instrument to instrument as if he were at rehearsal. The fact is people started leaving 2 songs into the set because it seemed disconnected and frustrating.
As was said in the paper today..."Now you don't look so proud" applies to himself. Ouch. Some saving grace is that the band was excellent, rock solid and Denny Freeman and his georgeous solos were a total wonder.

Here is the bottom line. Would I pay to see Dylan again? Yes. Maybe at a smaller venue like House of Blues or the Paramount but at a place like ACL? Never again.

I ended Friday night with the Killers, Saturday night with Arcade Fire and really wanted Sunday night to be the same.....I will give it to Wilco. Sorry Bob.

Until Next Year.....I will be posting a list of the top 10 songs from the weekend for sure! Be on the lookout!

This Wednesday......Brandi Carlile!!! It's gonna be good!!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Austin City Limits- Day 2

Holy crap. I love this festival.

Started off with Paolo Nutini- incredible. I don't even know what to say.

Damien Rice- his vocals and keys were amazing.

Cold War Kids- not sure, I fell asleep on my blanket. Could have been too much sun and beer.

Indigo Girls- I don't have time cause I am tired. I was in the VERY front. I mean, I couldn't get any closer. They did some stuff with just the two of them and then they totally ROCKED out the last 5 songs of the set. It was an experience. They know how to move an audience and their lyrics are true poetry. 5-3-Human played with them on the last 5 songs and the lead singer for They did this rockin' version of Midnight Train to Georgia. I have it on video. Wow.

Arcade Fire- this was mine and Steph's closer. What a bunch of talented freaks. The main girl in this band played EVERY instrument. Vocals, keys, violin, accordion, drums, glockenspiel....but every single person in this band connected to what they were doing. If you don't have any of there stuff. Shame on you. Cause they know how to make music.

Ok, I am tired. Day three tomorrow.....

Yo la tengo.
Ben Kweller
Lucinda Williams
Regina Spektor

How great is this weekend.

Austin City Limits- Day 1

What a night.

Joss stone sang her pants off. It made me remember when I got to see her a few years back with friends Scotty and Kristin at Hard Rock in Orlando. She is now 21 years old and can hold her own on a large stage.

Spoon. Another great performance with a few songs I didn't hear the night before. I love Brit Daniel. He is single. Maybe there is hope.

We heard the last bit of the Kaiser Chiefs performance and they were rocking as well......

Our final show of the night. The Killers. They put on a performance. Brandon Flowers did his thing for real. All These Things That I've song. Rightly so.

We then walked over to catch the last 15 minutes of Bjork. I wasn't impressed. She ended early and then came out to do an Encore. Nobody else did that, they just played an hour. Her back up singers were dressed in something that resembled Oompah-Loompah's. There was so much techno that you couldn't really hear her.

Today's schedule:

Paolo Nutini
Cold War Kids
Blue October
Damien Rice
Indigo Girls
Arcade Fire

and maybe a few other random walk by's

Until tomorrow

Friday, September 14, 2007

My Lil' Japanese Cig Case

La Zona Rosa, Thursday September 13, a little band called Spoon. If you have not got any of there stuff, there new album Ga, Ga, Ga, Ga, Ga (love the title) is a MUST buy and while you are at it, just purchase Gimme Fiction. You will thank me for sure. It was a sold out house and what a show it was. After hearing the opening band Sound Team (who are also great), Spoon took the stage. They are a local Austin band that has taken off. And there song My Lil Japanese Cig Case off their new album & I Turn My (camera on) were both favorites of mine for the night. They played well over an hour of music and it was the perfect way to kick off Austin City Limits Music Festival.

Gimme Fiction and Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga are full of immaculately crafted, concise pop gems. I use the word 'pop' loosely. What I love is that each song finds Brit Daniel (lead singer) and Jim Eno (drummer) exploring the tension between a tight rhythm section and chaotic production techniques (from messy guitar parts to bizarre samples). It's beautiful.

I can't wait to blog on the rest of the weekend. I am leaving in about two hours for Bela Fleck, Peter Bjorn and John, Joss Stone, Spoon (yep again) finishing the night off with The Killers. And that is just Friday night folks.

It's good to be in Austin.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Fortune Cookies

Here is what my Fortune at lunch time was:

ONE: Good things will come to you in due time. (I hope that means a smaller ass and a hot man)

TWO: Just be yourself, you are wonderful. (everyone needs to hear that once and again)

Desiree & Grapefuit

Ok, so you may have seen this months Runner's World. Yes, Desiree Ficker is on the front. (pictured right. That is not me. Yet.) Yes, she is an athlete I look up to. And what is cool....yeah folks, she lives in Austin. So there are days I see her on the track at Austin High School and there are days that I see her on Town Lake Trail. (or Lady Bird Trail) Last year she got 2nd place in the Kona Ironman championships. With someone who looks and is this tough, you might say I would follow her training/eating regimen to the end.

That is where the Grapefruit comes in. She says in Runners World that she eats one every day. You guessed it, I have a drawer full of Grapefuit in my fridge. I have eaten one everyday. (I am only 5 days into this, but already I feel strong.) Ok, maybe that was a lie.

Let's look at the nutritional value of a Grapefruit, shall we?

Grapefruit is an excellent source of many nutrients and phytochemicals, for a healthy diet. Grapefruit is a good source of vitamin C, pectin fiber, and the pink and red hues contain the beneficial antioxidant lycopene. Studies have shown grapefruit helps lower cholesterol and there is evidence that the seeds have low levels of antioxidant properties. Grapefruit forms a core part of the "grapefruit diet", the theory being that the fruit's low glycemic index is able to help the body's metabolism burn fat. Grapefruit Seed Extract has been claimed to be a strong antimicrobial with proven activity against bacteria and fungi.

Desiree Ficker eats grapefruit. So does Colleen.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Ironman Coeur d'Alene

I am going to be starting a Training Blog come January of 2008 but I will officially announce it here. My first IRONMAN. 2008. Coeur d'Alene, Idaho (or as my friend Robin likes to call it- Quarter Lane)

I will take on a 2.4 mile swim
then a 112 mile bike
and finish it off with a 26.2 mile run.

All in one day. June 22, 2008 that is. Heidi Hanna and her family made it super possible for me to get into this race and I am so very grateful. Since I became addicted to the sport of triathlon a little over a year ago, I knew an Ironman would be in my future.

This is going to be a huge day for me. You may not understand why I do this. I don't ask you understand much like you wouldn't ask me to understand being married, having kids.....or wherever life has taken you. Support me and this dream. I am going to rock this course in 2008.

Just you wait.