Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Sunday, March 26, 2006
The question is, should I go buy the tickets in person when they go on sale next week? In the past, I've bought tickets to shows well after they went on sale, for moderate draws like Paula Poundstone and Spinal Tap, and got decent seats. When I bought tickets for Lyle Lovett a few years ago, I decided to go down and buy them in person. I woke up at 6 AM, thinking I'd beat the rush. Turns out people camp out overnight, both scalpers and individuals, and I ended up waiting about six hours to save on the Ticketmaster fees. The final indignity is that, after waiting in line for hours, I bought my tickets, and was charged a "convenience fee" of a buck or two. I still saved substantially versus buying on-line, but being physically sore from sitting on the sidewalk all morning, things didn't feel very convenient. I was told they had to charge the fee since they use Ticketmaster's ticketing software, and the only way to avoid the fee was to purchase tickets in person the day of the concert. I'm going to enough shows that it'll probably be worth my time to wait in line, and at least I know now to bring a book and a chair.
Saturday, March 25, 2006
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Sunday, March 19, 2006
Saturday, March 18, 2006
Guthrie played two sets over two hours, opening the second set with "Alice's Restaurant." In fact, he saved most of his own hits for the second set, but the first set was solid, too, even if I didn't know most of the songs. He played some jazz from New Orleans, and talked about his train tour to New Orleans after Katrina (though he saved "The City of New Orleans" for the second half). He talked a lot, telling stories which were fun to hear, even if you could tell he was telling them for the millionth time (which is fine, but his attempts to make as though thoughts just randomly pop into his head seemed a bit tiresome to me). After playing "Coming into Los Angeles," he recounted a somewhat recent airport run-in with the Secret Service, which concluded with him awkwardly realizing that the officers approaching him were no there to hassle him, but were greeting him as fans.
My understanding is that Guthrie retired "Alice's Restaurant" a few years ago, but this being the 40th anniversary tour, he brought it back, opening the second set. He added some asides about the draft not being as far away as some would have us think, but basically it was the same song we've heard on the radio every Thanksgiving. He also performed "The Motorcycle Song," "City of New Orleans," and other hits, along with some new stuff. For an encore, he performed a "new" Woody Guthrie song, "My Peace," which Arlo had set to music, and which he explained was one of the last songs Woody had written while his handwriting was still legible. To paraphrase Arlo's explanation, the song is about the little peace that we all can have inside of us, which makes kids and dogs like to be around us, and if we all cultivate that peace, the big peace will work itself out. Earlier, he also performed another of his dad's songs, "This Land is Your Land," including a verse I wasn't familiar with, and rather liked: "Nobody living/can ever stop me/as I go walking/by the freedom highway/nobody living/can make me turn back/this land is made for you and me." He interrupted himself repeated during that tune, telling a circuitous story which turned into a retelling of the story of Joseph, a sort of watered-down version of Lord Buckly's schtick, which actually worked pretty well.
Overall, it was a great show. I was surprised that Guthrie had such a strong stage presence. The crowd seemed to love him, and he really fed off that positive energy. One other nice thing to note, my mom and I had great seats. Her knee had been bothering her, and luckily we had requested box seats, and received them, so the two of us had our own box, so she could turn her chair to the side and have all the leg room she could want. Me, I found the leg room nice, but the chairs weren't quite as comfortable as the normal theater seats. Moreover, being right up against the edge, I felt a touch of vertigo sitting there (though being so high, and almost over the stage, I sort of felt like some omniscient being looking down on Arlo, which was kind of cool). Still, I think I will request box seats the next time I go to a show there; several boxes looked empty, so I don't think there's a huge demand for them.
Thursday, March 16, 2006
To my relief, Elana James and the Continental Two captured much of the joy of a Hot Club of Cowtown show. They're not completely at that level yet, but I imagine they sound much like Hot Club of Cowtown must of sounded with only a few months of experience playing together. Probably better, as James has the knowledge she gained with that band (and from playing in Bob Dylan's band last year) under her belt. They played two sets, made up of western swing and jazz classics, original songs written for Hot Club of Cowtown, and new material. Hearing Hot Club classics like "Secret of Mine" and "Forget-Me-Nots" (the song which first introduced me to the group) gave the evening a familiar feel, even as they tried out new material which mostly worked well. Their set included ample opportunities for Elana to burn up the place on some western classics like the instrumental "Draggin' the Bow" and some tune about barnyard animals, the name of which escapes me, set to the tune of "Froggie Went Acourtin'" or "The Crawdad Song." Quite a few jazz numbers were also included in their performance, including a cover of Duke Ellington's "I Don't Mind." Another swinging jazz number, "Atomic Cocktail," gave Beau Samples a chance to show off his voice, and he nailed it, making the song a high point of the evening for me. I assumed "Atomic Cocktail" was a product of 1950s nuclear testing (it seemed an appropriate ditty to spout out in some club on the Las Vegas strip for the atomic sightseers), but it was actually recorded in 1945, scant months after Hiroshima. The new songs written for the new group were somewhat more hit-or-miss, but mostly hits, including the beautiful "Eva's Waltz." All said, it was a fantastic evening of music, and I'm just sad it didn't go on for another hour (they had an early plane to catch in the morning, so they could record with Willie Nelson the next day).
There is no official CD of Elana James and the Continental Two yet available, but they were selling a "Top Secret Illegal Bootleg Sampler." I've been enjoying my copy very much, but as their first CD will be coming out in Europe very shortly, and, one can only assume, will have no trouble finding an American distributor, you might want to wait for the full album (especially since five of the eight songs on the sampler are currently on their website). But I didn't think to bring any Hot Club of Cowtown CDs for her to sign, so it was nice to have something for her to autograph. I always feel uncomfortable meeting artists I admire, as I never know what to say, but I found Elana as charming in person as she is on stage, and was instantly at ease with her. As sad as I am that Hot Club of Cowtown is no more, it was quite heartening to see that Elana James' musical career is still on track.
Monday, March 13, 2006
Sunday, March 12, 2006
Sunday, March 05, 2006
Friday, March 03, 2006
I had to go to school for a midterm, while waiting for the sentence to come down, and was trying to find something on the radio, but all I could find were nationally-syndicated talk radio shows. When I got out of school (don't think I did particularly well on the exam), I did catch the tail-end of a report that Cunningham had received a harsh sentence, but then moved on to discussing some punk kid who ratted out his teacher for talking politics in the classroom (I never understand why the students claim they're too cowed by their teacher to argue with him in class, but have no problem discussing it in great detail on talk radio). I didn't find out the details until I got home. I often see the CEO of Clear Channel Radio on financial shows, talking about how Clear Channel is going to compete with satellite radio with their quality local content, which always strikes me as absurd, as the entire philosophy of Clear Channel was always destroying local content and offering up canned talk. I'm sorry, but local traffic reports aren't enough to save radio.