Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Still Running . . .

Rock n' roll hall-of-famer Bob Seger and his Silver Bullet Band are playing the Verizon Center in Washington DC tomorrow night, and I'm not going. This is a decision I will most certainly come to regret. I just know it. Bob had never been on my 'must see live' list [the list that continues to shrink rather than grow as I have crossed off many many names from it]. It wasn't until word came of his first tour in ten years that I even thought about the possibility of seeing a Bob Seger concert. But I was immediately attracted to the idea. "Night Moves", "Against the Wind", "Turn The Page", "Still the Same", "Mainstreet" --- all classic rock...classics....of rock. Did I mention "Like a Rock" or "Rock N' Roll Never Forgets" or "K-K-K-Katmandu"? My god...this guy was a hit factory!! So I may not be in the Phone Booth tomorrow night rocking out to "Old Time Rock N' Roll" but many lucky people will be, and I'm jealous.

Webber hails a 'Big Yellow Taxi'

If only we had all listened to Joni Mitchell...or even Adam Duritz, for all of you youngsters. 'Big Yellow Taxi' is the kind of song that creeps up on you, wraps itself around your head, and clouds your judgement until you realize you've been singing the last three choruses without even noticing. Don't worry, I won't tell anyone, I'm your friend.

"Don’t it always seem to go
That you don't know what you’ve got
‘Til it's gone"

You didn't just sing that lyric did you?? Well I'm sure you are wondering what the hell this has to do with Chris Webber. Well, you see, Chris Webber is a former Washington Bullet/Wizard. And he was back in Chocolate City to take on his former team last night. Chris Webber is one of those players that has been around the block, was a stud in the early days, and has had his fare share of disappointments and unfulfilled potential (Not even including the "incident" when on April 5, 1993, Webber infamously called a time-out with 11 seconds left in the game when his team, only behind by three points, did not have any remaining resulting in a technical foul that effectively clinched the game for North Carolina.)

That is the big one, but Webber has been in plenty of disappointing situations since then. I mean, sure he put up some nice stats. But consider the following: he was driven out of Golden State after winning Rookie of the Year, he was asked to leave Washington after off-court troubles, and after being traded to Sacramento he drew controversy from fans through his large salary, frequent injuries, and the team's overall good performance while he was on the bench.

Not only was his career limited, he had a litany of legal troubles including assault charges, resisting arrest, possession of marijuana, and driving under the influence of marijuana. While leaving Puerto Rico on a promotional tour for Fila sneakers, Webber paid a $500 fine after U.S. Customs found 11 grams of marijuana in his bag. Soon after Fila dropped Webber as an endorser.

Sure Chris Webber is a multimillionaire and made a living PLAYING a SPORT. But the promise, the potential, all of the "what should have beens". Haven't you had similar thoughts about your own life. I know you haven't lost an endorsement deal for flying with weed (right? right??!?). But like me, you probably wish you had done things just a little differently: kept a few connections a little tighter, made a point to see some (former) friends before the relationships died from inactivity, worked a little harder at a job, or got up just a little earlier. Even Chris Webber knows things are fleeting in this life and you should never take anything for granted. Webber was quoted about his former team (who happens to be young, confident, maybe even cocky) stating:

"Cherish it," Webber said. "My advice to them is cherish the core they have. Being on a team like this, where you're all young and everybody gets along, it doesn't happen a lot. I know."

"I thought it would last, that's what I thought," said Harvey Grant referring to Webber's time on the Bullets, Webber's teammate then and now a Wizards assistant coach. "Those guys were so young and good. When I see these (new) guys, I think: 'Try to stay together and enjoy it. Don't let this moment pass because it may never come again.' "

Sure this is a sports analogy, and who really needs another sports analogy to provide words of wisdom. But don't forget what its like to be young, full of potential and positive energy, ready to take on the world. Or have lingering doubts, unchanged routines, and perceived shackles already got you down? Just listen to Mr. Webber:

"And so my advice would be to them: Cherish this moment and make the most of this."

Chris Webber and Joni Mitchell, connected by a similar thought. The next time you catch yourself singing the song...think of C-Webb.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

It's Not Over!

With last weeks annoucement of the lineup for the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, taking place in late April, it was revealed that Crowded House would play their first concert in over a decade at the Indio, CA site. On November 24, 1996, Neil Finn, Nick Seymour, and the late Paul Hester played, what was intended to be their farewell performance, in front of an estimated 120,000 people on the steps of the Sydney Opera House. How many bands can you think of that would pull that many people if they decided to play their last ever concert tomorrow? Certainly not this year's Coachella festival headliners Bjork, Red Hot Chili Peppers, or a similarly reunited Rage Against the Machine. Rage did play a farewell performance in 2000 in LA, and that was in an arena that holds just over 7,000 people. I'm sure they could have easily sold more tickets than that, but the number wouldn't have come close to what Crowded House accomplished on the island continent in '96. So the Rage reunion gets all the press and the headline slot, but the real news story for me is the return of one of the most underrated bands of all time.

Talking about the decision to reform his old band, Neil said “After spending most of last year making music and hanging out with my friend Nick Seymour we are now announcing our intention to reform Crowded House with a new record entitled Time On Earth. It feels right to us that the band should re-emerge at this time and together with Mark Hart we look forward to reconnecting with the audience that we established and for whom we still hold a deep respect. We aim to make the upcoming shows and the new music every bit as vital and spirited as what has come before. We are conscious that Paul Hester was above all a great drummer and we are currently auditioning to find someone special to take that role.”

The following clip of 'Don't Dream It's Over' was taken from that farewell performance just over 10 years ago in Sydney:

MCs of War

Performing at a tribute to Bob Dylan at Avery Fisher Hall on November 9, 2006, The Roots put forth an incendiary performance of the all-too-relevant "Masters of War". Setting the first verses against the "Star Spangled Banner", this group clearly set out to make a statement. And that they did.

?uestlove describes the performance:

"we did “masters of war”. i can’t really describe the feeling….maybe it was lowered expectations or a lil doubt creeping in on some “mmmm wonder what a “rap group” is doing at a dylan tribute. but i really feel like last night was a tipping point for us (we “white striped it” with just me and kirk and damon on the tuba from the jeff bradshaw brass band) dare i say it was like motown 25. im not certain what the results will be but shit is not going to be the same on that set again. we came out in all army fatigues. and did a mars volta esque/zappa version of this protest song (lyrics are soooooo relevant for what goes on today)—incorporating in the gap band’s “you dropped a BOMB on me” and hendrix’s “MACHINE GUN” for added spice. most of the renditions of the night were incredible in its silence. i wanted to go electric to sorta be the sore thumb in the acoustic at atmosphere sorta like newport 63 (ha ha)."

Pure genius, click to listen

Dear John

"I'd like to say 'thank you' on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we passed the audition!" --John Lennon, 1969

It was thirty-eight years ago today that The Beatles played their last public performance atop Apple headquarters in Savile Row, London. Although the gig only consisted of five songs (Get Back, Don't Let Me Down, I've Got a Feeling, One After 909, and Dig a Pony), the performance was, in my opinion, their best ever (thanks to the divine electric keyboarding of the late, and oft-forgotten Billy Preston). We now know, thanks to the "Anthology" DVD, that the group quarrelled much during this period of their career. Although at the time much of the Beatles' music was overshadowed by tabloid rumours of their inevitable break-up (which soon thereafter came true), in retrospect, it really didn't matter that Paul hated John, George hated Paul or that the band hated Yoko (minus John, of course). The moment the once "Fab Four" made their way atop Apple and the first driving riffs of "Get Back" were plucked out, it was just like old times -- even George cracked his familiar smile here and there. Bewildered bystanders young and old joined together to watch this historic occasion. Once again, they were on top of the world, this time literally.

Curiously, today also marks the anniversary of Nirvana's final recording session in 1994, exactly twenty-five years after the Beatles roof top concert. While musically, the Beatles and Nirvana were apples and oranges, the impact both had on their respective times is hauntingly similar. Both groups attracted millions of listeners worldwide and had (and continue to have) enormous effects on what we listened to, how we thought, and even what we wore (from Beatle haircuts to flannel shirts).

Even Nirvana, who probably realized early on the infectious influence they had on 90's youth, parodied the renowned Beatles Ed Sullivan performance in their video, "In Bloom" (perhaps as tribute, but more likely as a way to deceive terrified parents into thinking that they were "good guys," like their generation's Beatles -- at least for the first 2:30 of the video). Likewise, I have little doubt that had the Beatles survived into the 90's, we all would own a copy of The Beatles "Unplugged" in our now-defunct CD collections.

There will NEVER be another Beatles or Nirvana. All we can hope for is that every few years a new band or artist reels us in and reminds us of a time when music was pure and meant something.

But don't worry John, even thirty-eight years later, I think it's safe to say you passed the audition.

Monday, January 29, 2007

My Dylan is Better Than Your Dylan

Josh Ritter (solo/acoustic) -- 1/29/07 -- The Birchmere -- Alexandria, VA

We've all read it in countless artist reviews over the years..."this guy is the new Dylan." That phrase no longer has any meaning, but critics will continue to use it to describe the next big thing with an acoustic guitar. Idaho-native Josh Ritter is not the new Dylan or Springsteen. He does what he does without trying to be anyone but himself. And that's why I am a new fan. And that's why I believe in him. Grinning from ear to ear througout the night, Josh Ritter told stories, played guitar, sang his songs, and had the seated audience hanging on every word. When he asked us to picture Dick Cheney on drums behind him for a song, we did it . . . at least I did. And Dick didnt miss a beat.

In his Entertainment Weekly column, Author Stephen King gave Ritter's latest album, 'Animal Years,' the top spot on his 2006 year-end album list. He calls it, "The best album of the year in a walk, and maybe the best album I've heard in the last five. Mysterious, melancholy, melodic...and those are only the M's. Songs like ''Girl in the War'' simply do not leave the consciousness once they're heard, but the album's real gem is the strange and gorgeous ''Thin Blue Flame.'' This is the most exuberant outburst of imagery since Bob Dylan's ''A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall,'' in 1963. The Animal Years is an amazing accomplishment."

You may be wondering what Stephen King knows about music and why his opinion matters. And its because the guy wrote Misery. Respect.

Here is a video montage put together to Josh Ritter's song 'Kathleen':

Misfits vs. The Band

Check out Stoney Larue's take on The Band's "Ophelia". I never thought I'd see a dude in a Misfits t-shirt jamming on the Band, but I like it! For a taste of Stoney's original material, listen to "Closer to You" off the "Red Dirt Album".

Good Rod

If this performance doesn't make you feel something, then just hang it up, cause you have no soul. This video captures Rod Stewart doing his best impression of Janis Joplin and Chris Robinson's son. It also features the last time that Keith Richards would take a back seat to Ronnie Wood, before Ronnie joined the Stones. Much like The Band during the Last Waltz, while watching it, you wonder why the Faces had to go away after this performance.

Tea worth drinking...

Recently, during one of my rags on America's lack of talent (despite what NBC tells you), a good friend of mine proved me wrong. The band is Tea Leaf Green--an energetic, "flower power" quartet hailing from where else, San Francisco, CA. Finally, some feel good music that's worth listening to. It's very refreshing!

For more on TLG, click here

SNL: iPhone

This iClip is very iFunny.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Heat of the Moment

What is it about cartoons singing pop songs that is so endearing?

The original version by 80's supergroup Asia:

the weight:

Pronunciation: 'wAt
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English wight, weght, from Old English wiht; akin to Old Norse vætt weight, Old English wegan to weigh
1 a : a unit of weight or mass -- see METRIC SYSTEM table b : a piece of material (as metal) of known specified weight for use in weighing articles c : a system of related units of weight
2 a : something heavy : LOAD b : a heavy object to hold or press something down or to counterbalance
3 a : BURDEN, PRESSURE b : the quality or state of being ponderous c : CORPULENCE
4. The title of a 1968 song by The Band