Sunday, August 30, 2009

I can now die a happy woman, I've seen Tenacious D perform live

Jack Black whoops the devil's ass in a rock off - "I did not mean to blow your mind"

Seven years ago I got a job selling tickets for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland. The Fringe has been considered the largest performing arts festival in the world. One of the acts, Tenacious D, had been scheduled, and canceled, even before I started working there. But the act was still listed in the program along with the other several hundred shows we were selling tickets for. Tenacious D was on our short "canceled" list.

For 6 weeks I sold thousands of tickets to people from all over the world who waited in line for hours to get them. I distinctly remember the faces of those few that had not heard that the Tenacious D show had canceled. There weren't many, but their sadness remains with me. They were so disappointed, so I became curious.

As The D gained popularity, I learned to understand why these fans had been so disappointed. Jack Black and Kyle Glass are: THE GREATEST BAND IN THE WORLD.

And they have rocked my socks off tonight. What an awesome show.

I was pretty lukewarm about the whole Outside Lands Festival this year. I got a press pass at the last minute and am in between a trip to New York and my first Burning Man experience. I wanted to pace myself. Friday's highlight was seeing Tom Jones, who was downright entertaining. I saw a few other bands, but nothing really worth mentioning.

But then Sunday night came. Tenacious D stepped in a few weeks before the festival after the Beastie Boys canceled their summer tour due to MCA's (Adam Yauch) cancer surgery. I was delighted to hear this marvelous news (other people were not happy, including M.I.A - she didn't realize that the Beastie Boys had canceled and was mouthing off on twitter about it. I'm sorry for you). I would finally be able to experience what I had been wondering about since 2002.

I love musical comedy shows. The Flight of the Conchords show I saw a couple months ago was one of the best shows I've seen this year. One of the things I like so much about these kinds of acts is that the musicianship is topnotch. Kyle Glass is an excellent guitar player. Jack Black has a fabulous, versatile and expressive rock voice.

And what about the musical jokes? Like Kyle playing a solo that ends with him climbing up the scale to sit on the leading tone for what seemed like forever before resolving to the tonic. I'm a music dork, and you know what? That made me laugh.

Tenacious D is lewd, raunchy, foul-mouthed and ridiculous. And I loved every minute of their show.

Jack announced that yesterday was his 40th birthday and that he had never felt better since he had been doing so much yoga. He got down on the ground and did a couple (cock?) push-ups for us. And then announced that he had been practicing "flick flacks." So he cartwheeled off the stage and then flipped back on stage a couple times ending in a hand stand. (Hopefully SOMEONE got that on video!)

What is going on here??

Kyle got pissed at Jack and forced him to bring out the stunt double. Jack yelled at him for ruining the act and Kyle stormed off the stage. So Jack sang "Friendship" and brought him back. They made up. Aw.

What about the robot "Heavy Metal" coming out on stage and doing a choreographed dance with the D? (Pictured below) or a "rock off" with the devil??

So here is a little photo essay. Yes these pictures suck, but I wasn't standing close enough to the stage to get anything worthwhile, so I went nuts taking photos of the giant digital screen. Enjoy.

Mr. Kyle Glass

Where does one get a guitar like this?

Mad guitar skilz

The pick of destiny

A weird toy saxophone that Jack probably stole from his son

"We're finished singing about the devil, we want to sing about Jesus so we won't go to hell!"

Heavy Metal and the D do a choreographed dance.

I'm not sure what's going on here, but look at Kyle's face!

I think Jack got so sweaty that he just figured take is clothes off at the end of the encore, why the hell not??

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Hair and Rock of Ages: broadway musicals bound by youth, integrity, and hair

Rock of Ages guitarist Joel Hoekstra is on fire

Hey ya'll, I'm back from my trip to New York City where the weather was hot, humid and nasty. I spent a lot of time in air-conditioned museums and theaters and the Daily Show (I got to ask Jon Stewart a question)!!

We had amazing seats at the musical Rock of Ages starring Lauren Molina (also a University of Michigan Music School alum, read more about her here). She got us backstage! Check out the backstage mockumentaries she's been producing and directing. They are hysterical. Here's the first one:

The length and style of one's hair is a symbol of fashion. But in recent decades it has also been a symbol of ones politics and lifestyle.

In the 60s, having long hair (usually for men) meant that you were one of those hippie freaks that protested the war in Vietnam and smoked the marijuana. But in the 80s, the “sexier Regan era,” it meant that you wore leather, drank a lot and listened to loud guitar music. And according to the musicals Hair and Rock of Ages (ROA) you also had a lot of sex. Or at least you wanted other people to think you had a lot of sex. When I saw both shows last week during my visit to the Big Apple, there was a lot of hip motion on stage. A LOT.

Click here to read the rest of my article on

Constantine Maroulis as Drew in Rock of Ages with guitarist Joel Hoekstra

Lauren Molina (Michigan classmate and star of Rock of Ages) and I backstage

Tamar and I outside of Hair

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

R.I.P. Ellie Greenwich: a pioneer of women in the music industry

It seems like famous people are dropping like flies lately. But there is one person's life that I'd like particularly like to celebrate: that of Ellie Greenwich, songwriter of such hits as "Chapel of Love," "Da Do Ron Ron," "Be My Baby" "Leader of the Pack," "River Deep - Mountain High" and dozens more. Greenwich was part of the songwriting hit machine in the Brill Building in New York City.

At a very young age, Greenwich and Carole King blazed a path for women in the music industry at that time dominated by men. Women hadn't really been on the creative production side of the music industry at that point, with few exceptions they had been mostly singers or administrative types. Greenwich found great success as a songwriter and partnered with her husband Jeff Barry. Greenwich and Barry wrote songs for the popular girl groups of the early '60s like the The Ronettes, The Crystals and The Shangri-Las.

In an interview with NPR, Greenwich reflected on being a woman and working in the production side of the music industry,
It wasn't that accepted back then, a female being in that end of the business.
She even had a little bit of difficulty working with other female artists;
At first it was like, 'Well, who does she think she is, giving us orders here or telling us what to do?' But on the other end, if you were very open to them, they saw you could be their friend, and then it became an asset to be a woman dealing with girl groups.
Ellie Greenwich gave us dozens of hit songs, like silly bubble gum pop with nonsensical choruses, and some with heart felt meaning. Let's remember her as she held her own against the British Invasion and paved the way for women who wanted to have a creative role in the music industry.

Ellie Greenwich died Wednesday August 24th of a heart attack in New York City at the age of 68.

This is my favorite Ellie Greenwich not-so-famous tune: "Maybe I Know" performed by Lesley Gore (I fell in love with this tune when my junior high performed the musical "Leader of the Pack" based on the music of Ellie Greenwich):

And just for fun, this is the same tune performed by They Might be Giants.

Read more about Ellie Greenwich and watch more videos here at Pitchfork.

Monday, August 24, 2009

the Fleet Foxes: covers and originals

Kathryn this is for you.

The Fleet Foxes have exploded in popularity. I must say I like some covers of their tunes more than the originals. But some of the originals are pretty kick ass too.

First Aid Kit of Sweden covers "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song" - teenage Swedish sisters

Kina Grannis (and her sisters) covers "White Winter Hymnal"

The Fleet Foxes (original) "Mykonos"

Monday, August 10, 2009

I'm sorta loving this Chris Brown song in all of its incarnations

I was not a fan of Chris Brown until I saw this video of the coolest, cutest, happiest wedding procession ever to exist. I've watched this 6 times or so (youtube viewers have watched if over 18 million times. I love it. It makes me so happy and I have no idea why.

If you love it too, go to the site the couple made in honor of the popularity of this video where they are raising money for Sheila Wellstone Institute, dedicated to ending domestic violence in our communities.

I happened to find this video today while poking around youtube. It's the promo video for Kollaboration: an all Asian American concert that occurred in February in Los Angeles.

I already love Kina Grannis and I've seen David Choi (gorgeously pop perfect voice) performing duets with Kina. BUT WHO ARE THESE OTHER VELVET VOICED WOMEN?? I'm sort of in love. The four sisters are Jazmin, the other lady is Jane Lui (click on their names to hear more). I'm feeling the Asian American love and wished I had known about this show back in February.

So I can't get "Forever" out of my head now. Thanks alot...

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Top 5 classic songs of the 80's brought to us by John Hughes movies

Ferris Bueller in the shower: my favorite Hughes musical moment. Danke Schoen Mr Hughes!

I grew up on John Hughes movies just as I know so many of you did. I've watched Ferris Bueller, oh, maybe thirty times?

So many of these movies featured some of the 80s best tunes making them instant classics.

In honor of the late John Hughes, I've made a short list of some of those classic 80s tunes.

Click on the song and it will link to a youtube video.

1) Ferris Bueller's Day Off - "Oh Yeah" by Yellow

2) Weird Science - "Weird Science" by Oingo Boingo

3) The Breakfast Club - "Don't You Forget About Me" by Simple Minds

4) Pretty in Pink - "Pretty in Pink" by Psychedelic Furs

5) Sixteen Candles - "Turning Japanese" by the Vapors

And just for fun, here is one of my favorite musical scenes from any movie of all time: "Twist and Shout" from Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

Thanks for the great films Mr. Hughes!

Best of San Francisco music 101: SF playlist.

I'm published! Check out this series of travel books. From San Francisco on I will be compiling the playlists for the "listen" section. Soon to come is Portland, then I hear Seattle, New Orleans and Brooklyn.

If you were to make a playlist of 35 tracks summing up music of San Francisco, what would it look like? Keep in mind that my list here, featured in the newly released GrassRoutes: Urban Eco Travel Guide by Serena Bartlett, includes all genres and all decades of music. What do you agree with? What have I left out?

Note: All of these songs I found on itunes, lastfm, myspace or somewhere downloadable on the internet. We wanted to represent music that people tend to think of when you think San Francisco.

1. The Dodos: “Red and Purple”
2. The Botticelli's: “Who Are You Now”
3. Jefferson Airplane: “Somebody to Love”
4. Grateful Dead: “Uncle John’s Band”
5. Janis Joplin & Big Brother Holding Company: “Piece of My Heart”
6. Steve Miller Band: “Rock’n Me”
7. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club: “White Palms”
8. Dead Kennedys: “Holiday in Cambodia”
9. Counting Crows: “Mr. Jones”
10. Faith No More: “Epic”
11. Huey Lewis and the News: “Do You Believe in Love”
12. Journey: “Lights”
13. Santana: “Oye Como Va”
14. Third Eye Blind: “Semi-Charmed Life”
15. 4 Non Blondes: “What’s Up”
16. Beau Brummels: “Just a Little”
17. Aphrodesia: “Bus Driver”
18. Sly and the Family Stone: Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)”
19. Oona: “Trouble”
20. Charlatans: “The Shadow Knows”
21. Invisibl Skratch Piklz: “Ah One Two Three Cut”
22. Mike Relm: “Tron”
23. Foxtails Brigade: “The Hours”
24. The Frail: “Floated Away”
25. Michael Musika: “The Traveller Loses Possession”
26. John Vanderslice: “The Minaret”
27. Maus Haus: We Used Technology (But Technology Let Us Down)”
28. Loquat: “Swingset Chain”
29. Chanticleer: “Revenna Sanctus”
30. Lord Loves A Working Man: “The New Hat”
31. Michael Tilson Thomas, conducting the San Francisco Symphony No. 7 and 8
32. DJ QBert: “Redworm”
33. Jawbreaker: “Gutless”
34. Train: “Meet Virginia”
35. Deerhoof: “Twin Killers”

Please join me and Serena Bartlett at The East Bay Express Best of the Bay Party this Friday, August 7th at the Oakland Museum for the launch of the three new GrassRoutes Urban Eco Travel guides of Oakland & Berkeley, Northern California Wine Country and San Francisco.

GrassRoutes San Francisco offers a wealth of ways for small-footprint visitors to deepen their experience of one of America's most exciting cities. Written by locals immersed in the eco/indie/alt scene, the book covers everything from carpooling and volunteering, to potluck dinners and fair trade caf├ęs, to attending community events and buying CDs from local musicians. Categories include Up Early, Hang Out, Pamper, Listen, Get Inspired, Farm to Table, and many more. Black-and-white illustrations show the city in all its splendor, while clear maps help visitors get around easily on foot, bike, and public transportation.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

New Mixes! Collaged CD Covers!

Check out these awesome CD covers I made last night for my brother's long over due birthday present.

This one made use of a Sergio Mendes ad. This one is my favorite. The sun burst is plain old construction paper.

This one is a little bizarre, I was trying not to make it too stereotypically "African" looking and ended up just making it silly looking. I can live with that. I like the dancing people. That was my housemate Erin's idea.

These are going to my next Always More to Hear mix cds. Who wants one? Which one do you want?