It was the early 80s and punk music was fading fast. Even The Clash had evolved into incorporating more diverse genres in their music as evidenced by 1981’s “This is Radio Clash” and 1982’s “Rock the Casbah.” Did they sell out? No, but they did change with the times … except not so much in concert. They were still a nasty punk band live. I recall my boss at the time telling me about attending a Clash concert in 1982 at the Aragon Ballroom, affectionately called the Aragon Brawlroom by Chicagoans. Back then, you would want to wear old shoes to any concert there as there would be puddles of beer and urine throughout the space. Anyway, my boss told me that he was close to the stage and was spat upon by The Clash. My reaction at the time was, “Lucky.”
Fast forward to the 2020s, and I swore punk was dead and buried. Oh, sure, there were supposedly some punk banks still around, but I didn’t think they really had embraced the punk sound as defined by Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, The Ramones, and early Clash. For me, punk was RIPing, until I heard The Chats.
Well, that’s certainly a confusing title. Let’s start with eagle and work right to left. No, I didn’t see a bus hit an eagle, but I was planning on seeing an Eagle. Specifically, Don Felder, who was thrown out of the Eagles, was set to play a free concert promising lots of Eagles music about a half hour away. I kinda, sorta planned to go in a very noncommittal type of way. That was, until I heard about the bus. There would be no parking at the venue. We would park off-site and take shuttle busses to and from the concert area. Ugh! The thought of cramming into a shuttle bus with potential Coviddy people was abhorent to me. So, I applied some critical thinking to the situation to understand if I really wanted to go to the concert. The critical part was easy. The thinking part? Not so much.
I started with an analysis of the Eagles. The headliners were always Glenn Frey and Don Henley. I’d go see them perform solo. Well, maybe not Glenn Frey these days. RIP. Next up is Joe Walsh, perhaps known more for his solo work and his time with the James Gang. Wait, what? Are you telling me you are unfamiliar with the James Gang? In that case, my advice is to “Walk Away.” If you click that link, you get the original album version of the song. Here’s a cool, stripped-down, liveish version where Walsh and his cohorts define power trio with their performance.
I haven’t done one of these posts in almost a year. Why? Well, these posts tend to be wildly unpopular, and not much new music has grabbed me by my ears and dry-humped my auditory cortex. I haven’t liked a lot of what I have heard until just recently. So, I have lumped some recent favorites all together in one post here for your listening enjoyment.
If you are indeed an old rocker with 1960’s musical memories, this first song may musically transport you back to that era. The following video was made with an intentionally nostalgic feel by a new UK band called The Heavy Heavy.
I’m taking a real deep dive on this one. This song did chart on Billboard back in 1997 and was nominated for a Grammy in 1998, but I’ll bet you have never heard it. It got some radio airplay in Chicago and the Midwest along with some MTV and VH1 exposure, but was largely ignored.
You can also ignore it. If you do, you’ll be missing a tight, snappy, catchy pop tune that will threaten to take up residence in your head for days on end. I know it has squatted in mine after I rediscovered it, but then again, there’s lot of room in my big noggin for a song to rattle around.
Abra Moore was with Poi Dog Pondering when the band formed in Hawaii. After Poi moved to L.A. and then Austin, Texas, Moore went solo before the band moved to Chicago. I guess I should say “Abracadabra” as I make Abra Moore’s forgotten semi-hit “Four Leaf Clover” magically reappear.
We attended a concert last night that was really hot – literally. It was quite a warm night in Chicago as my 14 year old daughter and her friend accompanied me to see Jeff Tweedy of Wilco in a free concert yesterday. We took the train, and I occupied myself on the ride looking for places alongside the tracks where I could live/survive if I was homeless. I can’t explain why I do that, but it’s just kind of my thing.
Anyway, on a more positive note, the concert was quite pleasant. And did I mention free? I figured it could go one of two ways. I thought Tweedy could just play lots of favorite Wilco songs, or he could play none. He chose the latter with the exception of “California Stars.” If you read down in the comments under that YouTube video, you will learn that the lyrics were unrecorded Woody Guthrie lyrics. A nice homage to Guthrie!
Here’s his full setlist from the show if interested. To get the full flavor of the concert, take a listen to “Evergreen,” the first song from the show. That’s the vibe I got from the show – a pleasant blend of folk, country, and rock. Here’s how another song looked and sounded in person.
Maybe one reason he didn’t roll out Wilco “hits” is because he doesn’t think they exist. He told a great story about that which I will try and recreate.
After swimming this morning, I found it coincidental that a song by Jellyfish came on the radio as I headed home. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, “Jellyfish are saltwater creatures, and you swam in a freshwater lake.” Well, it turns out that there is a type of freshwater jellyfish, so I feel justified with the continuation of this blog post. Ha! Good try to preemptively kill this post, but on it goes. Sorry.
Jellyfish had a short five year run through 1984 as a cult favorite band. They had limited chart success, but I think this song of theirs still sounds fresh and not waterlogged.
And the reason I picked an obscure band with a quasi-hit to resurrect this always unpopular blog feature? I enjoy the song and hope you do, too. That is why.
Not consorting, which sounds more fun, but concerting, which I define as the act of going to a concert. Merriam Webster may disagree, but what the hell does he know? He still owes me for drinks that one night as we argued the merits of gerunds until the wee hours of the morning.
Anyway, I enjoyed hitting the road with my youngest daughter a few weeks back to catch a Lumineers/Caamp concert followed by a Lord Huron show. The 4th of July weekend is typically a good time to see a free concert in the greater Chicagoland area. I had hopes for a show at Frontier Days in suburban Arlington Heights. Tonight they feature Ace Frehley of Kiss. Could be fun, but I am attending a “dance concert” in Chicago that my middle daughter is in as part of Noumenon Dance Ensemble. So, I can “kiss” seeing Ace Frehley goodbye.
On Saturday night, Jason Scheff, who had a cup of coffee with the band Chicago, is performing at Frontier Days. We have a neighborhood party starting in the late afternoon that should extend well past the point of when Jason Scheff takes the stage in Arlington Heights to a chorus of “Who?”
Finally, 4th of July Eve brings that vocalist Steve guy from Journey to the Frontier Days stage. No, not Steve Perry with the great voice and all the hits. This will be Steve Augeri who took over vocals for Journey and accrued no hits after Steve Perry left. Steve #2 singing the hits made famous by Steve #1 will keep me from making the journey to Arlington Heights on Sunday night.
But I do have an upcoming free concert on my calendar.
I thought maybe I could squeeze in another concert after seeing The Lumineers and Lord Huron last week. On our way home from St. Louis, my daughter and I stopped to visit with a cousin who is my daughter’s age and was spending a few weeks in central Illinois with a relative. That cousin let us know that the Macoupin County Fair was in full swing, so we decided to stop in and maybe see a concert. I was excited to see two possibilities.
Well, it turns out that Open Goat (great name for a band) is actually not a band, and it wasn’t much of a show. Just a bunch of goats in pens. And although it was tempting to hang around for the Beer Tent Band (a very pedestrian name for a band), I did not want to be in central Illinois that late with a four hour drive to get home. I also wasn’t sure if the band was playing in the Smoky Jennings Pavilion or a literally smoky Jennings Pavilion. There’s still a lot of smoking going on in rural central Illinois.
The trip home was excellent as we stopped to see some top notch roadside tourist attractions along the way. However, I sense a scandal brewing at the World’s Largest Covered Wagon in Lincoln, IL. Take a look and see if you can spot the problem.
My daughter and I finished off our St. Louis concert tour with a show by Lord Huron. I had purchased tickets for both concerts with Covid in mind. So, our seats were on the side with minimal people near us. I felt this was a necessary precaution, because we were concerting in Missouri where people think Covid has been completely eradicated or never existed in the first place. Our seats for the Lord Huron show were top row, on the end.
Those seats may sound terrible with a view like this.
My daughter and I took a break from concerting last night, and we saw St. Louis from a riverboat on the waters of the mighty Mississippi River. And boy, oh boy, what an ugly view … except when we were passing The Arch.
I don’t want to make any “arch” enemies of readers in St. Louis, so I will note that St. Louis offers a beautiful riverfront park by The Arch. But the rest of the riverfront is very industrial and agricultural. The view of and smell from the asphalt manufacturing plant was … memorable. And if you like to listen to a running commentary from the ship’s captain about bridges, tugboats, and barges (who wouldn’t?), then this is the riverboat tour for you.
However, I was very concerned about this sign I saw on the boat.
The first stop on our summer concert tour was to see Caamp and The Lumineers. Most important for me is always legroom. I chose seats that did not disappoint.
Yes, those are my delicate little feet at the bottom of the pic with lots more room to stretch out. And a clear view of the stage … at least for Caamp while everyone was seated. There was plenty of standing and dancing for The Lumineers.
Speaking of Caamp, they underwhelmed me. Their sound reminded me a bit too much of Mumford and Sons, and I can only take so much banjo at one time … unless it’s Steve Martin wielding one.
Thankfully, I will not be touring to perform but to partake. I hit the road Wednesday with my 13 year old daughter to head to St Louis to see two concerts, squeeze in one day of work, do some sightseeing, and get my daughter over to see her cousin from Arizona who is staying with a relative in Central Illinois. I know you’re thinking, “Jim, please tell us more about that fascinating day of work you have planned with your daughter.” Well, work plans are still in flux, so instead I will tell you about the concerts.
Wednesday we drive straight from home to our hotel, check-in to the luxuriously-appointed Holiday Inn Express, and walk across a couple parking lots to the concert venue to see …
For those of you music aficionados who are soon to be disappointed to discover that this is not a blog post about Prince and his music, here’s a link to the title song. Satisfied? Now, on to a post about doves. Yeah, the birds.
I really meant to protect the baby dove. I had no intention of going all Ozzy Osbourne on the dove, although I had not yet had breakfast. I truly thought I was getting the baby dove out of harm’s way.
I was on a very long, early morning walk yesterday. There was the baby dove, huddled in the middle of the road. I scooped it up and moved it into an area off the road near some mailboxes. It moved around a bit while in my hands, so it seemed relatively healthy. I planned my walking route to pass that spot on my way back home to make sure the dove had moved on.
Only it hadn’t. There it was in the exact same spot. And it sounded like it was crying. Ugh! I vowed to give it some time for the day and the dove to warm a bit and check back. Besides, the local animal shelter would not be open for hours yet. So, I left the baby dove, vowing to return, not knowing the imminent danger to which I had exposed the bird.
Who does? I’ve encountered all sorts of obstacles on my way to Hollywood. My first movie role as Racist Restaurant Patron was eliminated when my scene was cut after the restaurant backed out of allowing filming in their place. I secured my next role as Office Worker, but family obligations conspired to keep me from attending the filming. We celebrated our youngest daughter’s church confirmation on the morning of filming and attended an Eagle Scout ceremony during the afternoon of filming. By the way, the Scoutmaster really missed a great opportunity at the end of the Eagle Scout ceremony. How about finishing up the ceremony by rocking out to Robin Trower’s “Day of the Eagle?”
I did audition for a speaking part as Family Member #2 in a film but was not selected for the role. I guess that’s more on me than anyone else’s fault because of my complete lack of acting talent or training. I have an audition this weekend for a speaking role in an indie feature film about punk music called Screw City. I’m hoping my affinity for punk music will be evident and make them overlook my dearth of acting talent and training I mentioned before.
So, you may be wondering what my dermatologist has to do with all this. Well, I went under her knife this week for a skin cancer removal through Moh’s surgery, which I understood to be a gentle scraping of layers off my skin until all the cancer can be confirmed removed. Instead, it looks more like I had Moe’s surgery.
I’ll caution those more sensitive readers (what are you doing at this blog anyway?) to not click to continue reading. This is the result of my surgery.
If you listen to Fox News or Trump, you would think that walking in Chicago is impossible without being shot, but it is actually a lovely city to walk. According to CBS News, as of February this year, Chicago was only 28th on the list for most murders per capita among cities in the US, virtually tied with Birmingham in Republican Alabama. Of the 27 cities with higher per capita murder rates, 14 are located in Republican-dominated states like Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, Indiana, South Carolina, Florida, Tennessee, and Missouri. So, if you ever get to Chicago, take a walk and see the city.
Friends of mine did just that the other night. I have no idea how far they walked from their parked car to City Winery, but they ended up at a Marc Cohn concert. You probably remember Cohn from his memorable hit song, “Walking in Memphis.” Such a beautiful song.
Now if that was my signature song (I wish!), at some point in the song I would sing, “Walking in (insert city name I’m performing in).” Audiences eat that up. I was surprised to hear he didn’t sing a random “Walking in Chicago” at least once. Maybe that’s why Cohn played to hundreds at City Winery rather than 60,000+ at Soldier Field on the lakefront with a laser light show and smoke machines.
As I reflected on my friend’s concert experience, it amazed me to realize that if not for a lack of musical ability, an abrasive singing voice, and a low aptitude for songwriting, my friends may have been listening to me in concert at City Winery rather than Marc Cohn. So close.
I use Gift Tree to send business Christmas gifts to valued customers, so very few. I guess they now want me to send overpriced gift baskets to people for their birthdays. That is not going to happen. But I opened their email because I want to know why owls give birthday gifts as teased in the subject line. However, nowhere in their email do they explain why owls are birthday gifters. This is driving me crazy/crazier. Why DO owls give birthday gifts? Because they give a hoot? That’s weak but all I could come up with. I googled that riddle and came up empty. Can someone help me? In the meantime, here’s some Owl City to inspire you to come up with an answer.
The other day, I added air to my wife’s car’s tires using an air compressor that plugs into the car’s 12V power outlet. The use of the compressor plus the cold weather overnight was enough to drain the car’s battery, and my wife was unable to start her car the next morning. After driving her to work, I used a trickle charger on the battery and got it back to full strength.
Yes, I admit I drained the battery. But I do want credit for:
As I find myself woefully unprepared for Christmas once again, I harken back to advice crooner Pete Yorn gave us 2 Christmases ago – calm the hell down. Read on.
Christmas can be a fun time, but also a very stressful time. There are gifts to buy, MAGA relatives to rub shoulders with, and decorations to put up outside often in less than ideal conditions. But Pete Yorn is back with some sage advice for this season.
Where’s Yorn been since he captivated us musically a decade ago with lyrical tales of his “Strange Condition?” Well, he’s been making music, but just not super memorable. This new tune from his 7th album may not be memorable, but it excellent advice to just calm the hell down.
If you aren’t calm after listening to that tune, then there’s something seriously wrong. Calm down. The gifts will get wrapped. The tree will be trimmed. You’ll get to go a-Wassailing, whatever that is. Ask Uncle George in his MAGA hat about his health. He won’t have time to talk about Trump. He’ll be too busy talking about his gout and the root canal he needs and the fried foods he can’t eat anymore because his cholesterol is too high and … well, you get the idea. When he’s done, just tell him to calm down because he looks great. Okay, that’s probably a lie. What is that spot on his head? But, what the hell, it’s the holidays. Maybe that Christmas lie will help him enjoy a Merry Christmas, like all of us will if we just calm down.