Band love

I’m sure this will be shocking to you, but I have to say it: the Arkells are REALLY good and their shows are REALLY fun.  Their opening act was this band from LA called Irontom.  They were pretty good, super entertaining, but the main attraction there was their lead singer, who is…odd.  Super odd.  At first I thought he was doing the flamboyant front man thing, a la Freddie Mercury, and he was, and it was great, but then it got weird, and at one point (during a guitar solo), I thought he might be having some sort of breakdown in the back corner of the stage.  From that point, I was a little more concerned than entertained, but their music was good, and I’d like to hear more.

But Irontom is NOT why we were there.  We got there shortly after the doors opened because I was not about to ruin our streak of being right down front.

We were successful.  That’s Max.  He’s adorable.

Arkells were headlining this time (the other two times we saw them they were opening), so we got double the setlist, which was AWESOME.  They played all our favorite songs, Max came out in the crowd for a couple of songs and we got hugs on his way back to the stage, and then we talked to him for a couple of minutes after the show.

Now, naturally, John wonders where his life went off course.  He should be in a band like that!

My heart’s always yours

We’re going to Boston tonight to see the Arkells for the third time this year because they’re awesome and we love them.  I figured I’d spend the day with their albums on repeat, get all revved up for the show, but that didn’t last long.  I cannot focus when music I like (that has words) is playing.  Lots of singing was happening, not much work.  It did remind me that I like listening to music while I work, though, so I switched to classical, whiiiiiiich wasn’t really a better choice.  My favorite Enigma Variation played and I started crying and I just had to stop listening altogether.  There’s no crying at work.  Also, that’s, like, the complete opposite mood I want to be in for the show.  There’s time to fix that!  It’ll be all Arkells, all the time, on the drive up, which starts NOW.

I will be dancing like the people in this video.  In fact, I already am.

Another concert surprise!

John is lucking out this year for his birthday.  How likely is it that this many bands he likes are nearby right now?  AND, lucky for me and our budget, these are bands it’s cheap to see, not like giant rock bands who sell out stadiums and whose cheap tickets are $100 each.  We’re going to see Colin Hay (for the second time) tonight, again as a surprise for him.  (It’s not exactly a hardship for me – I really enjoyed it last time.)  The show is in a town south of Boston, so it’ll be a little easier to get to, and the vibe is going to be COMPLETELY different.  For one, it’s in a theater, not a club.  Second, we’ll have seats that we’ll actually be sitting in, and third, the crowd is likely to be a lot older.  More sedate.  Not that the crowd for Against Me! was young, exactly, but I do expect the number of piercings and mohawks to be lower.  And probably no shouting.  And I think moshing is highly unlikely.  But you never know!

I wanna rock and roll all night and part of every day

This is not how weather is supposed to work, Providence.

Weekends are for sunny days so we can enjoy them!  Get it together, RI!

In other news, the concert last night was a LOT of fun.  Against Me! was fantastic, and I would see them again any day.  They need to choose better opening acts, but oh well.  It was a small club, and it wasn’t packed, but most of the audience were serious fans who pushed in close and sang every word.  (I only knew a couple of songs that well, but give me time.)  I like being packed in with a ton of people all focused on the stage, all singing together, but we ditched the crowded floor after a few too many close encounters with moshing idiots.  Who knew punk fans would ignore the big NO MOSHING signs?  Silly me for assuming they’d be rule followers.  The balcony was much safer but it had zero energy.  I brought my own, of course, and they played my favorite song, and hey – it took us less than an hour to get home in the middle of the night.  We were totally exhausted this morning, naturally.  I was actually dizzy for a few seconds when I got up, but an early bedtime tonight ought to fix that.  We are party animals, yes we are.

I could tour as Sting’s backup singer

The Sting show Thursday night was…okay.  I might go so far as to say it was pretty good.  He sounded great, and his opening act (The Last Bandoleros, a high-energy Tex-Mex rock band from San Antonio) was really good, but the energy of the crowd was off.  Mostly non-existent, really, and that affected how I felt about the night.  The people on either side of us sat like lumps in their seats the WHOLE TIME.  No clapping, no singing along, and they were hardly alone.  If they were enjoying themselves, I couldn’t tell.  Why come at all?

That was disappointing, but Sting wasn’t.  He stuck to his rock stuff, heavy on Police hits (but he didn’t play “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic”, sadly), and we were pretty happy with it.  He did change up the typical concert format in a way that I think more big-name bands should do.

At 8pm, right when the tickets said the show would start, the lights went down and Sting came out on stage.  It was maybe the second most excited the crowd got that night (first most excited was during his detour to Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine” in the middle of “Roxanne”).  He came out, said hello, and essentially warmed up the crowd for the Last Bandoleros by playing a song from his new album.  He sang backup on the last song they played, introduced his son (who looks and sounds JUST LIKE HIM), and then when it was time for Sting and his band to get started, his son and all of the Last Bandoleros sang backup for him the entire rest of the show.  They looked like they were having such a good time, better than a lot of the crowd.  Even the people standing in the floor section weren’t moving.  What is wrong with people?

Rock star

I didn’t post yesterday, but I had a very good reason, Person Who Is Berating Me For Not Posting Yesterday For Some Reason: I was at a really, super good, fanTAStic show in Portland last night, and most of our day and night was spent working, driving, dancing and singing, and then driving again, leaving no room for blogging.

Sorry, Person Who Is Berating Me For Not Posting Yesterday For Some Reason.  But I’m here today, and I’m going to tell you all about it!

Last night was a perfect example of “Hey, we don’t have any responsibilities except work so we should take this opportunity.  No excuses.”  (We sometimes have to remind ourselves.)

I don’t even know what order to tell this in.  Chronological?  Best to worst?  How about I start with “what am I talking about” and “how did this come about”, huh?

What I am Talking About:

Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls played a club in Portland last night (Tuesday night) and WE WENT.  We missed him last time he was in Portland – by the time we found out about the show, it was sold out.

How This Came About:

It was a very lucky stroke of wonderful timing.  I follow this actor we like, Timothy Omundson, on Twitter, and on Sunday, he tweeted about seeing Frank Turner in LA.  That made me think hey, if he’s on tour, maybe he’s coming near us, so I checked and OHMYGOD HE’S COMING TO PORTLAND IN TWO DAYS, followed by OHMYGOD TICKETS ARE AVAILABLE AND WOW THEY’RE CHEAP!  Clearly, I bought the tickets.  (Our struggle with “but it’s in Portland and it’ll be a really late night and then we’ll have to get up really early and work the next day” was short-lived.)

Side note: I tweeted at Timothy Omundson about it (as a reply to his tweet) and he responded!  Squee!

Okay, now I’m going with best to worst:

  • BEST – In the middle of a song, the second opening act (which was very good – more coming up) asked the crowd for a guitarist and they picked John, largely due our proximity to the stage and my nutso jumping and pointing.  It also helped that he’s tall.  So John, our very own John, went up on stage with a touring band during a real rock show, and played for a minute or so with the band.  It was so great and I HAVE VIDEO.  I did my best to hold the camera still.  Please forgive my screaming at 1:27 and 2:01.  Yes, the singer is talking about Betsy DeVos.

  • Frank Turner was freakin’ amazing – there was screaming and dancing and singing along and they played all of my favorite songs of theirs minus one and I will go to his shows any time he tours anywhere near us.
  • The second opening act was this Canadian band, The Arkells, who are our awesome new band to love (and emulate because oh yeah, John’s in a band again and they’ve entered a contest and they had a gig a couple of weeks ago and they have another one next weekend and I’ll tell you all about that in a few days).  That’s who pulled John on stage, and they were a really great surprise.
  • The first opening act was this acoustic singer-songwriter guy from England, Will Varley – funny jokes, good songs, and we bought all his CDs after the show (because we’re suddenly very conscious of supporting smaller acts now that, oh yeah, John’s in a band again and they’ve entered a contest and they had a gig a couple of weeks ago and they have another one next weekend and I’ll tell you all about that in a few days).
  • There was crowd-surfing!  It was limited, but I don’t think I’ve ever been to a show with crowd-surfing before.  Frank Turner met a barista earlier in the day, and she came to the show, so he pulled her on stage and got her to crowd-surf with specific directions to the crowd.  We had to get her to the back so she could high-five the person running the merchandise table, detour to the bar, and then come back along the other side to the stage.  We helped her get back on the stage at the end.  And then, during one of the encore songs, Frank crowd-surfed himself, WHILE SINGING, and we helped.  He was sweaty.  But I touched sweaty Frank Turner!
  • Our drive to Portland was fun on its own.  We binged Frank Turner songs and brainstormed ideas for John’s band (because oh yeah, John’s in a band again and they’ve entered a contest and they had a gig a couple of weeks ago and they have another one next weekend and I’ll tell you all about that in a few days).
  • Late as it was (we hit the road at midnight), the drive home was kinda fun, too.  We stuck to the decades stations on Sirius and had a sing-along to stay awake.
  • We ate at a southern BBQ place for dinner before the show which was…not bad.  Total hipster restaurant, from the menu to the diners.  At one table, there was a bearded guy wearing a black button down shirt and a matching black wool beanie on his head.  At the very next table, there was a bearded guy wearing a gray button down shirt and a matching gray wool beanie on his head.  I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP.  The second guy had a toddler wearing a lumberjack flannel shirt.
  • WORST: Getting up this morning was not easy.  I got 4, maybe 4 and a half hours of sleep before I had to get up and work.  John didn’t have any morning meetings, so he slept longer.

There’s probably more, but I think I’m out of words.  For now.  Until tomorrow!  I hope.  If I have time.  Because there’s more cool stuff happening tomorrow.

Huh. I can tell the exhaustion is setting in ’cause I can’t seem to stop.  Stop.  STOP.

The show where everything’s made up and the points don’t matter

Last night’s show was SO MUCH FUN.  I can’t overstate it.  My whole face hurt from laughing so hard.  Nearly two hours of Whose Line Is It Anyway games, all improvised by Ryan Stiles and Greg Proops, who’ve been on the TV show FOREVER, Jeff Davis, who was vaguely familiar to us from later seasons of the show, and Joel Murray, who was a complete surprise to us.  He’s funny?  Yes, he is!  (I mean, we know who he is, but we didn’t expect him to be up for improv.)

We had great seats in the fifth row – close enough to be able to see everything, just barely far enough away to be safe from being picked to go on stage.  It was surreal being 20 feet away from these people we’ve seen on TV for years.

Also totally weird to remember (again – this is one of those facts I keep forgetting) that Joel Murray is Bill Murray’s youngest brother).  He said something last night that was dead-on Bill Murray.  And his impression of Dan Aykroyd was pretty good, too.

I’m not going to bother trying to tell you any of the funny things that happened because they won’t translate (and I suck at telling stories, as you all know).  I wish you could have been there.

The show is still touring, but they’re going to CO and then CA only, so they’re a bit out of reach for most of you (and us – I’d see it again in a heartbeat).  We’ll just have to content ourselves with YouTube.

It was so great.  And weirdly, it continued the pattern of reliving the 90s in Eugene.  I started watching the show in 1994, maybe 1995, after my academic team friends introduced me to it.  (Yes, I know, super nerdy.  To make it nerdier, it was at an academic team party, and we were playing games from the show.)  It was on Comedy Central all the time.  Seeing it live last night, with two of the comedians who were on it then, was oddly flashback-y.  And totally awesome.

Good night, Night Vale. Good night.

We saw a Night Vale live show in Portland last night (Thursday night), and it was GREAT.  There were a ton of people (the show was sold out), some dressed up (I saw Carlos the Scientist a couple of times, at least four glow clouds, and a ton of Night Vale t-shirts), most not, almost all fans of the show.  John’s not crazy about it – he listened to a couple of episodes and didn’t like the narrator’s voice, which I think was also Corey’s problem with it – and the couple sitting next to it were walking in blind, too.  It seems like a strange show to go to cold, but whatever.  It was a lot of fun to see live.  I’d go again if the opportunity arose.

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The show always travels with a musician (or a band), and for our show, they had Erin McKeown, who I had only heard of because she performed the weather on the most recent episode of the show.  I really liked that song, and I really liked the others she played.  She went on first, played 6-8 songs, then the show started, and then she played the song from that last podcast episode as the weather for the show.  During the show, she played alone (electric guitar only), but the recording I’ve heard it has a full band, and it’s awesome.  You know what?  You can hear it for yourself.

Colin Hay seems like a sad guy

Last night, John and I went to see Colin Hay at the Birchmere in Alexandria (a bit of a haul for us now, although I guess it always was).  I bought him tickets for his birthday, and when we got there (early) and waited and waited and waited, neither of us were convinced it was worth the drive.  But then the show started.  He was good.  He was really good, and we really enjoyed it, and I want to buy all of his albums and learn all of his songs.  But seriously, so many of them were SO sad!  I cried THREE times.  In between the songs (and in between the bouts of crying), he talked a lot, there was plenty of funny banter, and his accent is a weird combination of Scottish and Australian, so it was fascinating to hear him talk anyway.

Still, I want to hear more of his stuff.  Without the crying.

Dance the night away

We went to a Van Halen concert last night with Jess and Chuck (thank you again!), and it was awesome.  John was thrilled.  Of course he knew every word to every song, being the giant fan of theirs that he is, but it seems they played a few songs from earlier albums that aren’t usually heard.  Good ones, but not in the usual line-up.  He (and Chuck, who was right there with him in song recognition) couldn’t have been happier.  I knew maybe a third of the songs, but that’s alright with me.  They played most of my favorites (David Lee Roth era, of course, since Dave wouldn’t be caught dead singing a Sammy song), which was VERY alright with me, and they ended with Panama and Jump.

So what’s in my head this afternoon?  REM’s Shiny Happy People.  It’s not a bad thing, I like the song,  but I had two hours of Van Halen last night, live, loud, and really, really good.  (Seriously, they were really good.)  Where’s my well-deserved earworm?

Everlasting love

John and I saw Huey Lewis and the News for the sixth time last night.  It was, as usual, a really good show.  I’m willing to bet poor old Huey can’t talk at all today, though.  Last night, his voice was really going.  He still sounded great, but there were things he just couldn’t do.  (It didn’t sound permanent, thank goodness.  More of a sore throat thing.  Let’s hope that’s not wishful thinking.  Heh – wishful thinking about wishful thinking.  Stop before the world collapses in on itself!)  Poor guy.  I hope he drank a lot of water.  It’s the 30th anniversary of Sports, so they started the concert by playing the whole album, which was totally awesome.  (John noticed it when they started the third song – clever guy.)  This year (unlike two years ago), they did the whole not-relevant-anymore thing right and only played one new song all night.  Man, I love them.  It seems like everyone else in the area does, too, since I’ve never seen such a parking nightmare at Wolf Trap before.  The place was packed, the parking lots were completely full (the police were telling people to park on the grass on the side of the road), and John and I had to park at the Barns and walk over (under a mile, I think, but not by much).  And on our walk over, the skies opened.  We had umbrellas, but when it rains buckets (sideways buckets), you get soaked no matter what.  It poured like that for a solid 20-25 minutes before the intensity backed off, but even then it didn’t stop until around 8:45, just as the real show started.  I don’t know who opened for them (couldn’t hear them over the rain, certainly couldn’t see them), and I didn’t really care that we were missing whoever it was.

Okay, I’m rambling now.  I’ve lost my point, if I ever had one.  Maybe it’s just that I’ll stand in the pouring rain for Huey Lewis and the News because I LOVE THEM.  I could point out that we spent much of the storm under shelter (after getting soaked on the walk in), but what does that matter?  I would have stood around in the pouring rain for them if it hadn’t stopped in time.  I would.

Not a life-changing experience

I already knew this, but now that I’ve been to a concert, I feel the need to say it again: Bruce Springsteen is not for me.  John and I went to the Springsteen concert in DC on Friday night.  Wait – I need to back up.  A few years back, John went to his first Bruce concert with a few friends of ours who are rabid fans.  I mean, these guys know every song he’s ever recorded, have all the albums, always go to concerts when Springsteen is on tour.  That stuff doesn’t make them rabid fans.  No, they go to as many concerts on each tour that they can manage, sometimes traveling miles and miles to go to back to back shows in three different cities.  Friday’s concert was the sixth show our buddy Joe has gone to on this tour alone.  On top of that, they know the set lists of practically every concert he’s ever played ever.  It’s not unusual to have a conversation with one of them that goes like this:

Hey, I kinda like song X from that one album.

Yeah, that’s a great song, but you won’t hear that when we go to this concert.  He hasn’t played that one live since the Evanston show of 1993.  Now THAT was a great show.

Anyway, John was just a casual fan before he went to that show (he’s more than that now, but hasn’t reach rabid levels of fandom yet) .  These guys (and every Springsteen fan I’ve talked to since) told him he HAS to go to a live show, it’s AWESOME, it’s an experience you’ll never get anywhere else – it’s just amazing.  So John went, and it was great.  He had a really good time, it was a really great show, and he started paying more attention to the Boss.  That’s fine – doesn’t bother me one bit.  He went to a couple more shows over the next couple of years, and I had to suffer through a little more Springsteen in the house, but that’s not that big a deal.  Then this tour started, and the guys got together and decided to all go.  John really wanted me to get in on this, and I’d been hearing how great these shows are, so I agreed and we bought two tickets.

I have to admit to not being all that excited as the date approached.  I love live music, and I knew I’d have a good time, but I didn’t prep for it.  I know a handful of songs (“Glory Days”, “Born in the USA”, “Dancing in the Dark”), and I recognize a few more but don’t know more than a couple lines from them (“Born to Run”, “Thunder Road”), but that’s it.  Frankly, I don’t really like his stuff, so prepping didn’t sound appealing at all.  Why listen to more of what I don’t like?  I was counting on the LIVE aspect of the show to be more entertaining than his depressing and repetitive songs.

Ultimately?  It was fun, but I’m in no hurry to go again.  It was loud and crowded (both in a good way) and energetic and everything, and all of that is cool and fun to watch, but it was still Bruce Springsteen, and you know what?  I still don’t like Bruce Springsteen.  Well, personally, I’m sure he’s a fun guy.  I don’t like his songs.  When the band did some covers (“Devil in a Blue Dress”, “Twist and Shout”) at the end of the almost four-hour concert, I thought it was great.  Did it change concert-going for me forever?  No.  No, it did not.

Eddie Van Halen is a weird-looking dude

Last night we saw Van Halen at the Verizon Center in DC.  All of Van Halen (almost).  Van Halen as they were meant to be (although a bit older and with Eddie’s son playing bass instead of Michael Anthony – I’m nitpicking here).  I’m referring, of course, to the return of David Lee Roth.

Our seats were on the side, level with and just slightly behind the stage, but we were pretty close and had a decent view.  Eddie and Diamond Dave (who glittered through at least 6 costume changes) spent plenty of time facing our way.  They both looked pretty darn happy to be performing (Eddie gets this crazy/happy/goofy grin on face sometimes).  And the sound was SO much better than the last time we saw them.  Of course, so were our seats.  It was a good concert.  They ended with “Jump”, but I woke up this morning with a song they didn’t play (from the new album) running through my head.  Over the ringing in my ears that hasn’t completely gone away yet.  (Under the ringing, I guess, since the music in my head isn’t really competing with the actual ringing sound.)  As we drove home last night, my ears felt all pressurized, like we’d just changed altitudes.  Our seats weren’t THAT high up, but it was THAT loud.  And THAT fun.  John had his little digital recorder out for most of the songs, but I kept forgetting it was there.  Which is unfortunate because now he’ll know how many of the words to his favorite songs I DON’T know.

(Also, if you’re near the Verizon Center and happen to be looking for a cheap-ish lunch/quick dinner one day, try Camille’s.  The Mexican Daredevil Grilled Hot Wrap was crazy good.  Menu.)

Today, though, I’m tired and cranky.  And hungry (which leads right back to cranky).  Starbucks gave me the wrong drink this morning (and naturally I didn’t realize it until I was in the office), and when I tried to get the right one around lunch time, it was TERRIBLE.  So no caffeine for me today.  We didn’t get to bed until around 1am.  Maybe I should just go to bed now…

Text Box: Lower Level,Text Box: Mid Level (Our Seats)

You know that moaning sound Harry makes in that one scene in When Harry Met Sally? I’ve been making that sound all day.

I worked from home today.  And I’m going to work from home again tomorrow.  Breathing sucks.  (You’re welcome.)  Well, it does, no matter how you look at it, sick or not.  You can’t run from the truth.  I have had a fuzzy head all day.  John had hopes that really loud music might vibrate all the crud out of my head last night, but it didn’t work.  It was cool, though.  We went to see Eric Johnson play in Alexandria.  We weren’t more than 40 feet away, and I picked the right side to sit on – he was angled towards us most of the night.  Crucial, in his case, ’cause you have to watch his hands fly.

Sorry – no brain, loud music in the basement (the band is rehearsing), and I want some soup.  Wonton soup.  (I had egg drop last night – no, two nights ago.  Love that stuff.)  I lost my train of thought, realized I have nothing left to say about the Eric Johnson concert, and then stared at the screen until it went out of focus.

Oh, you know what’s really totally not cool?  Wearing cologne to the gym.  It’s so unnecessary.  Yesterday, I was on one of the machines, and the guy on my right smelled like he had bathed in the stuff.  It was very irritating to my already irritated nose.  He moved on after 10 minutes or so, but the scent didn’t.  Dude.  It’s okay if you don’t smell like roses.  You’re at the gym.  You’re getting sweaty.  And nobody cares.

And there goes my brain again.  Lost for another 20 minutes.  I need soup.

You can’t say I’m not loyal

If you’ve been a reader for a while (or you know me in real life), I’m sure you’re aware of my lifelong devotion to Huey Lewis and the News, illustrated by my need to see them live every time they come anywhere near me (counting last night, that’s five concerts – more than any other show of any kind except Les Mis, whose count is at six, soon to be seven).  (And that’s five concerts with John in tow, who, even though he enjoys the shows and likes Huey just fine, gets a little irritated when he realizes he’s seen them more times than, say, U2 (two, maybe three) or Van Halen (two, maybe three) or Springsteen (four).)

I love Huey.  And because of this love and the knowledge that I will never abandon him or the News (whatever their lineup), I can say this.  Last night’s concert was….not the greatest.  It was not like the other four.  The other four were awesome.  They did what any band (ANY band) who’s had a bunch of hits in the past does.  They played the hits.  Sure, at other concerts they played some stuff from the more recent albums, but those were upbeat and fun and there were only a couple.  Mostly, they played stuff everyone knows and loves and everyone sang along and danced and had an all-around good time.

Last night, there was a distinct lack of energy, both from the band and the audience.  The band recently released a new album (“Soulsville”), (which I will buy and enjoy, I’m sure), but rather than play a handful of songs from that album and then old stuff the rest of the night (like they’ve done in the past, like EVERY OTHER BAND with a back catalog of hits does), they played almost the entire album last night.  In a row.  It was good, it was fine, but it’s not what we (I’m fairly certain the whole crowd was with me on this) were hoping for.  Huey opened with “Heart of Rock and Roll”, of course, with the stage lights flashing red in time with the bass drum heartbeat, and that was cool, but then there were six or seven songs (at least) from “Soulsville”.  Then five or six old songs (“Heart and Soul”, “Small World”, “I Want a New Drug”, “60 Minute Man” (that one was a cappella), a couple others I can’t remember right now), and then back into another two or three songs from “Soulsville” and then they left the stage.  Disappointing.  Of course, they came back for the encore (I’m not entirely sure why everybody plays along with this charade – as long as the house lights haven’t come up, you know they’re coming back.  Maybe they need the break.), started with “The Power of Love” (which finally got everyone on their feet – that was the best song of the night), and then Huey took a few requests (“Bad Is Bad”, “If This Is It”, and I think there was one more, but I can’t think of it), and then it was really over.  The best part of the night was the encore, but every other time I’ve seen him, the whole concert has been like that part.

I feel like I’ve been a little too negative.  The soul stuff was good.  I love his voice.  There’s something about it that makes me very happy.  Even though he didn’t play the songs I was hoping for, I still had a good time.  And I will see them again.  And again.  And again.  I can’t help myself.

Uno, Dos, Tres, Catorce!

Baltimore is not close.  Not during rush hour.  Not in the middle of the week.  Did we go and have a really good time (once we got there)?  Of course we did.  We saw U2.  How could that not be a good time?  It’s gotta be one of the longest tours ever, though.  We saw them almost two years ago – same album, same tour.  This show might have been better than that one, though.  They still had the whole crowd singing “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”, and that was still awesome (maybe a little awesome-er), and they still have the weird alien monster/spaceship stage set thingy.


Our seats were as far away from the stage as you could get and still be in the stadium.  I could barely pick each band member out on the stage.  Good thing the alien overlords brought giant screens with them.  It sounded incredible, though.  I love when I can feel the drums and bass in my chest and under my feet.

I liked how they did “Beautiful Day” this time around.  The giant screen showed pictures of Earth from space, and Bono said they were dedicating the song to Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, and then the camera switched to a video of her husband, the astronaut, while he was actually out in space about a month ago.  He introduced the song with floaty cue cards (normal cue cards, but he was in space, so on with the floating), and then Bono started singing and it was really cool (I like that song a lot).  During the part near the end (“See the world in green and blue, see China right in front of you…”), Bono was singing those lines under Mr. Congresswoman Astronaut Mission Commander’s spoken version.  I liked it.

Later, I don’t remember during which song, the alien invader shot beams of light into space.  I can only assume it was contacting the mothership.  We’ll have to keep an eye on the skies for a little while.

They played for about two hours, and it took us another hour or so to get back to the car, and then we waited for almost 20 minutes in the drive-thru of the worst McDonald’s in Maryland just to get some fries and caffeine so we’d make it back home.  Otherwise, the trip home was pretty easy, relatively quick, and we were asleep by 2:30.  And up at 8.  I’m TIRED.  I don’t do the middle of the night well anymore.

John, looking a little like Jack Nicholson here, does his best to hide his frustration at the traffic.

Every picture I tried to take once it got dark came out really bad, so there’s no point sharing them.  We ran into a guy I knew in college (he was in ROTC with me) while standing in the Will Call line to get our tickets.  We were never really friends, just acquaintances, and this is the second time we’ve run into each other in three or four years.  Once at the mall in Tysons, and once in Baltimore.  Neither of us lives anywhere near either of those places.  Maybe the universe is telling us we should be friends.  That would be easier if we’d exchanged any information at all.  Not something I’ll lose any sleep over.  I don’t have any sleep to lose.

It was a good concert, we had a good time, and I’m glad we went.  Even if I do have circles under my eyes so dark they could be mistaken for that black paint they put on football players to cut down on the glare.  (That’s why they do that, right?  Not to look scarier?)  I’m putting Baltimore up there with FedEx Field on the list of places I won’t go for a concert unless it’s for someone REALLY good.  The traffic, the parking, the whole tedious hassle of getting there and back – it’s got to be worth it.  I think U2 was worth it.  Ask me again in a few days, after I’ve slept.

No, it was worth it.  Not because it was U2.  I like doing something.  With John.  This was a 10-hour round trip, nonstop time with John on our way to and from seeing one of his favorite bands of all time.  I’d do it again.  But I’ll plan to take the next day off work.

Do you know what it means…

…to miss New Orleans?  [Written Wednesday night, March 30th, edited today.]

Honestly, I haven’t left yet, but I imagine I’ll know pretty soon.  These last two nights have been among the best ever.  Everyone I know is missing out.  Last night, I went to Preservation Hall and met Shannon Powell (drummer for Harry Connick, Jr, for six years (not anymore) and on what I consider to be his three best albums), and tonight I saw Mr. Powell play at the Palm Court Jazz Cafe with some awesome New Orleans musicians AND Jerry Weldon and Wendell Brunious, both of whom have played (and do play) with Harry Connick, Jr.  Jerry Weldon plays tenor saxophone, and I swear I recognized his tone (not his face) the minute he started playing.  Have you heard him play “A Nightingale Sang on Berkeley Square”?  I have, at least a thousand times.  I’d recognize that sound anywhere.  (Branford Marsalis plays it on the album, but Jerry plays it on The New York Big Band Concert video, which I unfortunately only have on VHS.  That will change soon.)

Here’s how it went: Last night, Shannon told me he’d be playing at the Palm Court tonight at 8. I made plans with a coworker (that would be Crazy) to go there for dinner. She got waylaid by our clients, so I went there by myself, still expecting her to show up once she got rid of them. (She never did.)  I walked in the door a little before 8, and when the hostess asked me if I wanted to sit at the bar, I said (a little excitedly), “I’m here for the band.  And the food.”  She laughed a little (at me, I’m sure), and gave me a table for two right at the edge of the stage.

That's my table. And my second hurricane.

The band came on, Shannon popped over to say hi, and they were great.  At the first break, I stopped the bass player (Richard Molton) to tell him how much I enjoyed his playing (he was really good).  He said he hadn’t been playing this kind of music lately (since Katrina), and he felt out of his element.  I told him it didn’t show.  He asked me if I was local.  I said no, and he said he thought I knew Shannon.  (!)  I explained.  Nice guy.  Then I left him alone to take his break.  Shannon came by to say hi again, sat down at my table.  (Wait – it gets better.)  He said, “Your favorite trombone player is here.”  “No…”  He nodded.  “Introduce me?”  He did.  We walked over to a table near the back of the restaurant, and I met Lucien Barbarin, hilarious and fantastic trombone player for Harry Connick, Jr.  SO cool.  I went back to my table and texted Corey, “I just met Lucien.”  His response: “This is epic.  Get pictures!”  Pictures!  Of course!  I went back to Lucien’s table and said something like (I’d had two hurricanes, so I’m not sure exactly what I said), “Excuse me.  I’m sorry to interrupt you again, and I know this is a bit fangirl-ish, but could I get a picture of the two of us?”  He’s a gentleman and all-around nice guy, so of course he said that would be fine.  I handed my phone off to I don’t know who (maybe Richard?), and got my picture of me and Lucien.

My dark and blurry picture of me and Lucien

And then I got a picture of me and Shannon.

Great hat

I have a picture of me and Richard, too, but it’s way worse than those two.  We’re backlit and you can barely make out our fuzzy faces.

The band went back on for their second set, but this time, they had a few people sit in.  Wendell Brunious on trumpet, Jerry Weldon on tenor saxophone, and some guy whose name I didn’t catch on guitar joined in.  It’s amazing to me that these guys can sit in with a band used to playing together and pick up on all the arrangements.  Or, if they don’t, everyone can handle it.  They’ll all figure it out, play well together, handle any hiccups, and the audience will never know.  Professionals.  So cool.

Did I mention the singer?  Topsy Chapman, who was fantastic, did “At Last” and I nearly cried.

After the second set ended, I told the trombone player how much I enjoyed his playing (that might have happened after the first set – he looked like he was having SUCH a good time), I talked to Richard the bass player again (found out he’s been playing his second best bass since Katrina because his first one was destroyed after sitting in something like nine feet of water), said goodbye to Lucien and Jerry (Lucien hugged me!), talked briefly with the younger guys who were with Lucien (both playing in Harry’s orchestra – one subbing for a couple of weeks, one who’s been with him for ten years – oh my god!), and then Shannon offered me a ride to my hotel.  We were walking out with him and his trumpet player (not Wendell).  I told him that wasn’t necessary, he didn’t need to drive me home.  He asked me if I’d rather walk.  ‘Not really.”  (It was late and it would have taken me at least half an hour.)  So he dropped me off at my hotel.  I have the date and time of his next gig (tomorrow night), and I will be there.

I was there, it was awesome, and I will tell you about it very soon.  But first, a couple more pictures from that night.

That's Jerry Weldon (you know, the guy with the saxophone). Lars Edegran is in the back on piano (he was at Preservation Hall the night before). I never caught the names of the other two guys.

The whole band, with my empty table (and third hurricane) up front.

That's a classic Jerry Weldon move.

I’m with the band

John told me a number of times that I should go to Preservation Hall, so Tuesday morning I looked up the website.  I recognized the name of the guy playing that night (because I’m a big Harry Connick, Jr fan and a bit of an obsessive nerd, I happened to know off the top of my head that Shannon Powell was the drummer for his big band in the early nineties (We Are In Love is possibly my favorite album)), so I planned to go after work.  First set started at 8pm.  Unfortunately, I had to get through the whole day first.  I invited my coworker, who I’ll call Crazy (the only other person on this trip who actually works for my company – everyone else we worked with that week works for our client agency), and we got invited to dinner with one of the clients.  I didn’t particularly want to hang out with anyone from the agency after working hours (I was hoping to relax.  I didn’t want to be on anymore.), but I didn’t have a not-rude way out just then.  Anyway, she wasn’t interested in going to Preservation Hall.  I could handle dinner.

Dinner was uneventful, even boring, especially because Crazy bailed on me.  It started pouring down rain (like flooding rain – we could have swum down Canal Street), and she called to tell me she was staying in.  I had an teeny umbrella that barely kept my head dry, but nothing was keeping me from Preservation Hall that night, so I met my client coworker outside her hotel, and we ran through the rain to the Palace Cafe.  Got drenched from about mid-thigh down.  The food was good (I had andouille crusted fish – spicy and delicious), the conversation was boring, and as soon as I dropped client coworker back at her hotel, I headed out.

If you’ve never been, Preservation Hall (at least where the band plays) is this tiny little room with dirty wood plank flooring, a few wooden benches in the middle of the room (maybe four) and along the walls, a row of cushions up front, and some standing room in the back.  The entrances to the room are on the left side if you’re facing the street (and the band).  There are two doorways on that side, one near the front of the room and one near the back.  You go in through the back and leave out the front, and the doorway near the front is right by the band.  When I came in ($12 cover, and $2 for traditional requests, $5 for other requests, $10 for “When the Saints Go Marching In”, noted on a little sign on the wall behind the band), the band was playing, and as I passed the front doorway, I looked in, saw Shannon Powell (Shannon Powell!), and he waved at me and gave an enthusiastic “Hey!”  That was awesome.  I gathered he really liked to see people come in to hear him play.  There were a ton of people there already, so I joined the crowd in the back and found a spot where I could see.  Sort of.  If I stayed on my toes and looked over a guy’s shoulder.  Still, the music was awesome, and we all had a good time.  The set ended about nine, maybe a little before, and I stuck around for the next set.  I watched the people leaving talk to members of the band (Shannon Powell on drums, Lars Edegran on piano, Clive somebody on trumpet, somebody else on bass, and Scott somebody on trombone) as they filed past them on their way out that front doorway, and I decided I’d talk to Shannon and gush a little on my way out after the next set.  I found a better spot along the right-hand wall for the second set.  The crowd this time around wasn’t as lively.  I was the most enthusiastic person there, clapping to the beat, having a wonderful time.  Totally fun, and I decided to stay for the third set.  How often will I get to see this?  I’ll manage staying out late on a work night.  My enthusiasm didn’t go unnoticed.  After the second set ended, Mr. Powell came over to meet me.  Wanted to know who his fan was, I think.  It turns out he said hi to me when I came in because I look like someone he used to work with who left town a while back.  He thought she may have been back for a visit.  Yeah, that’s not me.  But still, I’m an enthusiastic fan.  He asked me what I was drinking (I didn’t have a drink), and I said nothing right now.  He beckoned me along after him.  We went across the street and stepped into a bar.  (Johnny White’s.)  I was feverishly trying to think of what to order that wouldn’t be either gross (to me) or totally lame (to him).  He asked, I said rum and coke, he said he’s drinking rum, too (rum and orange juice, I think), I said that sounds good, and he ordered me one.  And waved me away when I reached for my wallet.  He bought me a drink.  !  We chatted a little (where am I from, where are you touring next, etc), and he asked me if I wanted to hang out with the band later.  I panicked a little, said I couldn’t, I’m here for work, and I have a presentation in the morning.  Lies!  My presentation was the day after, in the afternoon.  He said something about getting my number so we can stay in touch and catch up when he comes to DC.  (I was thinking to myself that I was not that captivating during that conversation.  Still, he’s didn’t come across as sleazy.  Just friendly.)  Anyway, I regretted the presentation lie and decided I’d tell him I mixed up the days if he asked again.  (He didn’t.)  He said he’s playing at the Palm Court the next night (Wednesday).  I asked about it, and he said they have great food, great music.  I said I’ll be there.  We went back to the hall for his third set, and I took my spot back on the wall.  Good third set (the crowd was better than for the second set).  We all danced at the end.  The guy hugging the wall behind me thanked me on behalf of the band for being able to clap on the right beat (2 and 4 as opposed to 1 and 3 like a few idiots in the audience).  I tipped the band (as you do), and Shannon said “Palm Court tomorrow?”  “I’ll be there at 8.”  I headed out and walked back to my hotel, grinning like an idiot at everyone I passed (it was a little before midnight), and called Mindy to rave about my evening.  What did she want to know?  “What are you going to wear tomorrow?”  We have priorities.  It was SO. MUCH. FUN.

Cold in Kentucky

Well, the weather outside is chilly (not very frightful), but inside is nice and toasty, made more so by the Yuletide Fire DVD Mom got.

I had a very weird few moments at the Canadian Brass concert (where they played only a couple of Christmas songs) Saturday night.  They played Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, which I know from their Greatest Hits album.  I listened to that album on repeat while reading The Mirror of Her Dreams and A Man Rides Through, by Stephen R. Donaldson, years and years ago, and ever since then, whenever I hear that album, I’m returned to that story.  That’s never happened to me with a live performance before, but it did Saturday night.  For the length of the song, scenes from the books were shuffling through my memory.  Strange.  But cool.

Then Jess and I stayed up to watch Love Actually and drink champagne.  🙂  Until 2am.

I wimped out on my run this morning.  I took Howdy with me, but I left my ear muffs and gloves behind.  We only made it three blocks before I decided I was too cold.  That was dumb, ’cause it’s going to be even colder tomorrow.  I won’t forget my ear muffs and gloves again, but I don’t know how much that’ll help.