Friday, May 29, 2009

Decemberists: This Sunday At The Pageant

Sold out! Took long enough.

Here are some songs/videos to carry us into the weekend. And yes, I'm still jealous that Jeff saw them back in the day at Blueberry Hill. You have won this round, sir.

Here's one that was performed as a high school project. Isn't it cool when something moves people so much that they feel a need to create themselves? In some ways, it doesn't even matter if the quality is good (and I think this video is not bad at all). The ultimate compliment, in my opinion:

This one doesn't allow embedding. Even Pitchfork is afraid of the power of the Old Skool masses, and refuses to let us share this from the world headquarters. Fine, then. Leave me to behold another video from the Decemberists, this time "Oh Valencia". Love the Chris Funk character.

Here's "The Wanting Comes In Waves" on Leno. On a side note, is anyone really sad that Jay is leaving the Tonight Show? I for one am stoked to see Conan on at an earlier time, much closer to my Old Skool bedtime. I'll be able to drink my warm milk and doze off flipping between him and Dave.

Have a good weekend, folks. Hope to see you at the show on Sunday. Stop by and say hi.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Jarvis Cocker: Angela

I quite like the new single from Mr. Cocker. Most famous here in the states for the song "Common People" with his band pulp, he always seemed a little too wordy and smarty-pants for his own good. Like he was tolerating us and the world. So it's good to see him rock out a bit, pare down the lyrics, and let the fuzzed-out dirty guitar do their rock business. Here's the video, and you can download the song from emuisc, if that's the way you roll. Or iTunes. Old Skool doesn't get a commission one way or the other.

And while we're at it, here's the Pulp video from 1995 for "Common People":
Oh, never mind. Some big label is afraid of my power to post old videos on my blog. Doing so would cause the labels to lose their precious revenue stream, and they would have no more "product" to sell. What? You've never heard the Pulp song and were hoping to sit at the throne of Old Skool knowledge to learn and then go buy, thus keeping the label people happy and fat? Take it up with them, junior. Here's a link if you're interested. Those poor misguided record label bastards. They are like an injured dog, lashing out at anyone that gets near them, even the ones that could help.

And be sure to check out William Shatner's version. It is better than it should be. Really.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

This Sunday: Blind Pilot At The Pageant. Along With Some Other Band Called The Decemberists, Whoever They Are.

Yes, yes. I know who the Decemberists are. I am old, not deaf to their wonderful sound. I even saw them perform the new release in it's entirety at SXSW in March. Oh, I admit it: I struggled to stay awake toward the end, but that's what happens when you travel all day after working the day before. It was late. They were good. I was tired.

But what about the opening band? What do we know about them? Well, if you are me, you know the name, you've downloaded "Three Rounds And A Sound", and you've thought to yourself, these guys are pretty good. Harmonies, very agreeable, a comfortable shoe, if you would, from a new band. And they are a two-piece, at least from a recording standpoint. Live they are a multi-person indie extravaganza! And they toured behind their first EP via bicycles, entertaining whoever would have them. They told me here.

Here's an official video:

I'm interested. And they seem like a nice complement to the Decemberists. See you there.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Jay Bennett Follow-Up

Going through my usual set of bookmarks, I found a nice post from NPR's Bob Boilen about Jay. Bob has a sympathetic heart, and seemed to know Jay, at least through his music. He also ran this, the last post on Jay's Myspace page, where he explained the reason for the hip problems, and the issues he was facing in regards to paying for the healthcare costs:

Hip Replacement

Howdy friends,

I feel like I really need to check in and explain my long absence from myspace, and tell you all this little story with a sense of humor and an overall feeling of positive energy, gained from knowing that I am now moving in the right direction. I've been close to bedridden since I last "saw" y'all. After burying my proverbial head in the proverbial sand since last summer, I finally decided it was time I "face the music," and find out what was causing the severe pain and immobility in my right leg. I have had a torn A.C.L. in that knee for many years (caused by a "daring," well, uh, really just ill-planned, and poorly executed, stage jump at Seventh Street Entry in Minneapolis, with Titanic Love Affair), and suspected that time had most likely further worn down, or even torn loose some more cartilage, most likely causing premature arthritis. So, after much prompting from friends and loved ones ("Jay that limp is NOT getting any better"), bright and early one Monday morning I decided to simply open up the Yellow Pages, and find the first Orthopedic Medicine Clinic with an immediate opening and find out what a large part of me did not want to find out. I braced myself for a diagnosis of additional minor knee surgery to remove some "floating" cartilage, and told myself that maybe all I needed was a cortisone shot or two, or something like that...but, something deep down inside was telling me this could well be something bigger and badder (or else why would I have "run" from it for so long). I DID NOT brace myself for THE diagnosis of the need for a complete hip replacement (ball and socket, if you will). I just about fainted when I saw the X-Rays of that hip....holy &%$#*, what a mess I had made. The doctor sized me up at 5'9" (well actually, now a bit shorter than that on one side) and concluded that most likely I was not a basketball player, yet recognized the damage as that typically caused by repetitive high impact sports activity. Well, I knew in a heartbeat that could mean only one thing.... and, yes, you guessed it---a decade plus of multiple nightly stage jumps and various other rock and roll theatrics had finally taken a toll that I could no longer merely "deal with," or ignore, even if I were to change my evil ways (baby). As I dizzily drove home (a drive I can barely remember), I alternately rode waves of the power derived from finally having the knowledge I had both craved and avoided, and of the fear of an uncertain future.

Well, it turns out that these types of injuries don't really heal themselves, as I naively told myself might just magically happen, if I rested that leg, used a cane for a while, and lost a bit of weight. So, major surgery it was to be...the only glitch, I am among our nations under-insured (my previous injury to that leg was listed as a pre-existing condition, and any injury that could be linked to the same root cause, I was told would not be covered). Some time passed as I contemplated my next "move,"---how to come up with the money to pay for the surgery "out of pocket," and as I brainstormed, my hip finally decided to lock up, and the pain got worse. So I began the arduous, or more accurately, extremely time consuming and endlessly frustrating, process of finding a surgeon and hospital that would perhaps "cut me a deal," be willing to bargain/barter a bit, or at least allow me to make installment payments. As it turns out, this is possible, but also difficult to arrange, if you can not come up with a sizable down payment as a show good faith, etc. I have been saving as much money as possible ever since I made this new commitment to my health, my future, and my quality of life, and have sold off some vintage recording gear, whose monetary collectors value now far outweighs it's functional value. As time has passed my mobility has continued to erode, to the extent that, for quite some time now, it has even been difficult to sit at the computer for more than just a few minutes---as I only own an ancient, yet reliable (don't get mad at me baby), old Dell desk top PC, I can't lie on the couch with a lap top and leisurely engage in the cyber world as I had so enjoyed since I made the commitment to enter the 21st century (or at least the late 20th) and interact with all of the wonderful people who have chosen to be my friends on myspace. And, even if I have said it enough already, I'll just keep saying it over and over again; what an thoroughly enjoyable experience it has been, it's like hanging out at a bar talking to folks with similar interests, swapping stories, answering questions, asking questions, getting to know people, reacquainting myself with old cronies, all without having to shout above the music (which I hate, unless of course it is of my choosing)...and I really have missed these interactions on so many levels. I know that I owe many of you mails (my trips to ye olde Dell are painful and now almost non-existent...this note was hand written and transcribed). I also owe some of you input on music that you have sent to me, for these transgressions, I apologize, but trust that you will understand.

I have posted some of the music I have been able to work on during this time period. I have labeled some of the songs as "demos," but you never know with me which ones might just morph into "real" CD versions. The new songs are definitely still "works in progress," and, as always I value any and all input, as I have gained so much from the outside perspective you all have shared with me over the past year---so, don't hold back now. I also put up some new photos, just for yuks...only one of me, though (seriously, who needs to see another picture of me?). Most of my "photos" are still my little online art galley of my paintings and drawings. Perhaps I could have an art opening at the hospital.

I still don't know exactly when my surgery will be, but I have learned a good deal about the procedure, and that has helped to make me MUCH less fearful. The double dose of anxiety caused by the pain, and the quite natural fear of the invasive surgery itself, really had me in its grip for a while, but now it only comes in waves. Once I am able to get a down payment of sorts together and actually have the surgery performed, I have been told that I then have only about six to eight weeks of physical therapy before I should be operating at approximately 80% capacity---these types of joint replacements have come light years in the past five years or so. The way I look at it, I'm functioning WAY below 80% right now, so what do I have to lose? Except a limp, some pain, some anxiety, and some weight. In many ways, I'm really looking forward to it, and wish I could go in tomorrow.

I will keep you all posted as I learn more, as I'm really Jonesing to get this over with, AND to finish up "Kicking at the Perfumed Air" (the CD that just doesn't seem to want to get finished). I will continue to stay as active as I possibly can, making music, and staying in touch with all of you (my friends), as the surgery approaches, and later, whilst I am recovering. With any luck, by mid-summer, I should be a new man (albeit bionic---"we can rebuild him") This whole experience has really taught me to look both inward and outward for support, and I've learned things about myself that I thought I had completely figured out years ago. Family and friends have helped me to keep faith in a future that will actually be much more carefree than my constricted present state. I encourage you all to tell me stories of recovery, as they really do help...if you don't mind. All in all, I'm "in a really good place" right now; I'm just waiting until I can make it all happen. Thanks so much to all of you for downloading "Whatever happened I Apologize," I really hope that you enjoyed it. I greatly appreciated all of the feedback you all gave me---keep it coming on the new stuff, if you feel like it. Again, apologies for my absence, I honestly do care about staying true to my promise to maintain open and interactive relationships with all of you "out there," wherever you may be.

Peace, Love, and Understanding,

Jay Walter Bennett

R.I.P.: Jay Bennett

If you're a fan of music I probably don't have to tell you that Jay was a former member of Wilco. You also probably know that he recently was suing Jeff Tweedy for royalties based on his appearance in "I Am Trying To Break Your Heart". You may not be aware that he was doing this in an attempt (Apparently. These are the things I read, but I am not the AP newswire, and do not substantiate the things I read in other blogs, who probably don't substantiate anything either, except by going to wikipedia, I guess. It's a high-tech game of telephone.) to pay for a hip replacement.

Jay was 45 and there will be an autopsy, as there is no apparent cause of death known.

I'm 43. Excuse me while I go take some baby aspirin to prevent any impending heart attacks. Sheez, 45 is young.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Gnarls Barkley: Who's Gonna Save My Soul

Disturbing, moving, real, surreal, mature, immature. You can do worse than watch this video/short film. It's been following me around, popping up in my thoughts. Singing to me:

Directed by Chris Milk. Thanks Chris.

YMCA, Done The Finnish Way

Well, thanks to John over at Accidental Mysteries, which collects and shares interesting lost art, we have this for your Wednesday. A 1970's version of YMCA, all the way from Finland.

As John says, this was not intended as a joke. But it sure is funny now:

Good Stuff, eh? What did you say, Jeff? You were one of the back-up singers? Uh, I don't think I'd be broadcasting that one, professor.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

White Rabbits: Percussion Gun

Just bought the new White Rabbits, and I'm liking what I'm hearing. I'm told that one of the two (!) drummers is originally from St Louis. The disc is produced by Britt Daniel, and has a passing resemblance to his music. If he had two drummers.

They're coming to St Louis, at the Firebird, on Wednesday, June 10, with Jon Hardy opening up. I think you should go and ask to audition for the third drummer spot. And don't leave without an audition.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Mastodon On Letterman. Letterman On Mastodon: "I'm Frightened"

There's a world of stuff going on out there beyond these four walls. I apologize, I've been preoccupied. But again, how did I miss this? The one thing I notice right away is the technical dexterity of the musicians. Well, that and the guitarist's forehead. The guy on our left. Is that a tattoo, headband, stitches? But I digress. Anyone who thinks metal is just a bunch of stuff with no forethought or sense of composition, please watch this. I hope it changes your mind, at least a little. You don't have to like it to appreciate it's musicality. But I likey.

30 Rock: He Needs A Kidney

Don't know how I missed the last episode of the season of 30 Rock, but here's the "We Are The World"-type number that was sung to help Alec Baldwin's long-lost father (Alan Alda) get a kidney. Make sure you catch the Beastie Boys about three quarters in:

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Tonight: Midwest Mayhem At The City Museum

Who says that there's nothing going on musically in STL? Not I, especially since we have such a spectrum of culture (Jason, that one's for you) going on tonight at the coolest venue (place, funhouse??) in the world, the City Museum. Get thee there. Profits benefit KDHX, a radio station that is yet another reason to be proud of this fair region.
Schedule by stage:

7:30 – The Blind Eyes
9:00 – Lola Van Ella with the Alley Cat Revue
9:15 – Theodore
10:45 – Lola Van Ella with the Alley Cat Revue
11:00 – The Monads

7:00 – DJ Al Swacker
8:15 – Fred Friction
10:00 – Rum Drum Ramblers

THE VAULT ROOM (2nd Floor)
8:00 – Ron Edwards, Papa Ray, Art Dwyer & John McHenry
9:30 – The Dock Ellis Band
11:00 – Funky Butt Brass Band

7:15 – May Day Orchestra
8:45 – The Grass Pack
10:15 – DJ Needles

Monday, May 11, 2009

yooouuutuuube: Have you seen it?

Maybe you should. It lets you put multiple youtube videos in a row, creating this interesting, trippy effect. It's pretty cool.

Here's the Living Things video for "Let It Rain", in honor of their gig tonight at Off Broadway here in STL.

Heart: Crazy On You

So my friend Jeff sent this, with a note that is true:

"How hawt were they? Way hawt, and they can play"

Yes, Jeff, indeed. This song really shows Heart at, one can only imagine, their height of power. No obligatory cleavage shots for the MTV, no squishing Ann to hide the fact that she had gained too much weight to, I guess, be considered sexy in the music videos. Just pure rock, with a great acoustic intro by Nancy. The song went to #35 on the Billboard charts, and the band really tears it up, showcasing their musicianship.

The only story I personally have about Heart has to do with me wearing dress shoes, black socks, and shorts, singing "Barracuda" to my friend Eric (or was that him? It has been a while), and the late-night laughter it caused. One of those "you had to be there" moments, but a good moment nonetheless. Ladies and gentlemen, Heart:

Friday, May 8, 2009

"I'm Broke": Black Joe Lewis Live

When I saw BJL at Vintage vinyl recently, I was disappointed that he did not have his keyboard player with him. The band still sounded good, but that organ sound really cements the groove, methinks. Well, here's a live shot from SXSW, at Waterloo Records. With the WHOLE band. I sure hope that they didn't sack him. Anyone know?