Sunday, March 07, 2010

Butch Walker at the 40 Watt with Ponderosa

So if you haven't seen my last entry, you may want to check that out first. Click on the title of the entry to see more photos!

Ponderosa opened for the Black Widows last night. I had listened to a few songs on MySpace, but had not heard them live. They were a lot of fun and definitely looked like they have a lot of fun together. I actually re-met an acquaintance of mine, John Dance, who plays keyboards with the band. He'd been in a couple bands with my good friend Mike London, and it was nice to see him again.

So last night's show was possibly the most fun Butch Walker show I've ever been to. Athens is a fun town for any venue, but especially for Butch--lots of people come in from Atlanta, and if you've ever driven down 316, you know that you actually have to want to drive to Athens to even attempt to come up. The show was high energy all the way through--no typical solo Butch acoustic set in the middle. I used my phone to text myself the set list throughout so I could get time length on each song. What I did was text myself the second I recognized what song was coming up (usually within the first five seconds or so), so the times on here will give you an idea of how much time was spent on storytelling and improv.

1. Going Back/Going Home (10:32)
2. Closer to the Truth and Further from the Sky (10:37)
3. Uncomfortably Numb (10:41)
4. Pretty Melody (10:45)
5. Trash Day (10:50)
6. Vessels (10:54)
7. Laid/The Taste of Red (10:58)
8. Canadian Ten (11:06)
9. Here Comes The... (11:10)
10. Ponce de Leon (11:16)
11. House of Cards (11:22)
12. She Like Hair Bands (11:26)
13. Race Cars and Goth Rock (11:29)
14. Maybe It's Just Me (11:35)
15. Best Thing You Never Had (11:39)
16. The 3 Kids In Brooklyn (11:51)
17. They Don't Know What We Know (11:56)
18. Rich Girl (Hall & Oates Cover) (12:02)
19. When Canyons Ruled The World (12:06)

The camaraderie between the band members on this tour is just amazing--the friendship between the Let's-Go-Out-Tonite's was palpable on stage, but was nothing compared to this. Between the smiles, the quick swapping of instruments, and the communal bottle of liquor, it was clear to anyone watching that these men are amazing friends.

So the set list as you can see was pretty well balance over the last four albums and 1969's "Maya". No Marvelous 3 stuff or "Left of Self-Centered" songs, but definitely the most upbeat set list I've ever witnessed at a Butch Walker concert.

The cover of "Rich Girl" was an absolute surprise. When Butch got out the banjolin, everyone assumed they were going to play "You Belong With Me," and he even kind of playfully mocked us for that. The banjolin really added a fun component to the already awesome Hall and Oates song.

He closed the show with Canyons, which is pretty rote at this point. Ponderosa came back out to help get the audience pumped. Canyons is not usually my favorite song, but it definitely is fun for getting the audience involved. This time was really special, though. Even after the band had left the stage, the audience was singing the boys v. girls round at the end and Butch came out to conduct us for a while.

After the show, we were told where the bands were going for drinks, so we headed over first to Manhattan Cafe and then to Little Kings Shuffle Club to see the bands hanging out. Ended up back at the Manhattan to say goodbye to some folks before getting home around 3 AM. All-in-all, it was a wonderful night. I got to hear "House of Cards," which was really the only thing that could have left me disappointed. The 40 Watt is such a great venue and it was just amazing to do something so quintessentially Athens even after living here as long as we have. If you haven't picked up "I Liked It Better When You Had No Heart" by now, you really should. I swear you won't be disappointed.

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Saturday, March 06, 2010

Butch Walker at Criminal Records

Apparently this really is just becoming a Butch Walker-related blog. Not quite sure how that happened. I haven't read ANY of the reviews for "I Liked It Better When You Had No Heart" on purpose to try to write a unique review... though I will admit I've picked the album over relentlessly with my brother. I'll try to give him credit when his ideas come through.

So living in the greater metro Atlanta (yes, for the purposes of this entry, I am including Athens in the greater ATL) affords one some Butch-related perks. Namely that you can drop everything and go to a private show at Criminal Records with about 24 hours notice.

For those of you who missed it, there was an event at Criminal Records on 03/05 for the release of Butch's new album "I Liked It Better When You Had No Heart." Basically, for every copy of the cd/vinyl you bought, you got a (not exactly) free pass to a small show at CR last night. Standing room only--probably around 200 people there. Small, intimate, perfect venue for actually getting to meet and greet.

Onto the album itself first: LOVE it. I'll have to be perfectly honest--Sycamore Meadows didn't really do it for me. For me, in many ways, the albums have kind of steadily declined since "Letters"... A lot of the sound that drew me in with Marvelous 3 is just missing after Letters. I loved a lot about "The Rise and Fall," but there are songs on there that I haven't listened to since the first listen-through. Then "Sycamore Meadows" came out, and I was really stoked, hoping for a return in some ways to some of the fun stuff from "Left of Self Centered." There are even more songs on that one that I skip (Summer Scarves, Song for the Metalheads). I actually walked out of the show at The Loft that they did in November 08... It was an acute disappointment (especially after the Center Stage show previously). Jesse Malin was fantabulous and wonderful, but Butch et al just felt stale, bored, and not happy to be there at all. Doesn't help that The Loft is a G-d awful venue. Then, I was supposed to go to the show at the 40 Watt in Athens last April, but ended up having to go to a conference last second.

So honestly, I went into "I Liked It Better When You Had No Heart" with a lot of trepidation--coming behind my least favorite Butch album and after a mediocre show at The Loft, I wasn't expecting a lot.

I was wrong. So very wrong.

Butch is back, and while it's not the bombastic electric guitar riffs and rock tambourine of old, it's a great album. "House of Cards" is by far my favorite song--its ELO-style backup vocals, Butch's almost Lennonesque (my brother pointed this out) tones (think the high notes on "Watching the Wheels"), and catchy pop beat are amazing. I'd love to hear it on the radio. "Temporary Title" is way up there for me, too. The background vocals are excellent and I don't miss the lack of Marvy 3-style guitar. The acoustic guitar adds something absolutely amazing to it.

The two pre-releases, "She Likes Hair Bands" and "Trash Day," are excellent. I definitely like "She Likes Hair Bands" more--catchier and you've just gotta love the hand claps. Trash Day is good--watch this video from Fox 5 if you want to see a fun rendition of it (fun in that the newscaster can't say "Trash Day" properly...).

And I've gotta say, a few of the songs I was kind of "meh" about I now love having seen them live. That's really the consistent thing about any of Butch Walker's music, regardless of his genre changes--he's such a dynamic performer, and unfortunately a lot of that is lost in studio. Like "Pretty Melody" for instance. Album-wise, it's got a great ELO-style intro (seriously, was someone in the mixing room listening to some Jeff Lynne?). I didn't *dislike* the song by any stretch of the term, but it really wasn't one of my favorites. Until I heard it live last night, and then I was sold.

So, back to the show last night. I had gotten the album last week before finding out about the show at Criminal Records. Needed to get passes for myself and a friend, so I bought myself a copy of the vinyl and a copy of the CD for my brother. Drove into Lawrenceville and met up with my buddy Suraj. We ended up getting down to Little 5 around 6:30 or so. Hit up CR to get the CD and vinyl to make sure we had our passes and then ventured down to Junkman's to suit up (I was in some serious need of concert gear--I'd come straight from work). Got in line around 7:15--doors opened after 8:30. Met up with some fun people in line.

If you've never been to an in-store at CR, you've really missed out. The acoustics are surprisingly good and the ambiance of the room is amazing. Everyone that's there *wants* to be there--unlike larger concerts where you get a lot of noobs and boyfriends dragged along to hold purses.

The best part about last night: the kids. There were several tweens/teens there, including one little boy around 10ish named Christian (who was there with his younger female cousin). Christian was probably the only person at a concert who has ever been shorter to me, so when he asked if he could get in front of me, how could I possibly say no. This kid was just too damned precious for words. I asked him if he'd ever been to a show before, and he told me it was his first concert ever. I melted. He then informed me that Butch was "his hero" with such a serious look on his face that I wanted to hug him. His parents probably would have flipped their shit, though, lol.

Butch and the Black Widows played mostly new songs last night. Unfortunately, they did not play "House of Cards," so hopefully they'll play it tonight. The Black Widows (and can I just say I love the new band? Fran's my hero--I'm so glad he's back!) opened with "Trash Day" last night. They also played "Pretty Melody," "Canadian Ten," "They Don't Know," and "Don't You Think Someone Should Take You Home." They closed with "The 3 Kids In Brooklyn," which I honestly think I'm going over the live feed from last night to make this set list for y'all, and you can actually hear me and a couple of my friends yelling out "garrr" in pirate voices between "Canadian Ten" and "They Don't Know"... *blushes*. Had to be there.

After the show, the band went back into the office for a second, and then came out to bust down the stage. I got to talk to Fran for a second, and he let me get a picture with him. Then Butch let us get pics and autographs. I've been to several shows over the years, but never got this opportunity. My brother actually won the biggest fan challenge on the last tour and got to meet him before the show. Butch was very kind and gracious, and I really appreciated getting to thank him.

Part two of this will go up after tonight's show :) If you'd like to see more pictures, please click on the title of this entry!

Now playing: Butch Walker - House of Cards
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

University of Georgia Institute of Women's Studies

I am a graduate student at the University of Georgia completing an MA in Religion. I am also working on a graduate certificate in Women's Studies.

I went to Converse College for my undergraduate degree. At Converse, I was surrounded by women who truly wanted to learn. These women were articulate and poised, and some of the most intelligent women I have ever known. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't a perfect learning environment. Some of the bureaucracy got in the way of the education there (like a series of bronze statues placed around a campus instead of convincing those donors to use that money to renovate the older dormitories). But the learning environment was strong.

The University of Georgia has a unique opportunity to make a statement showing their support of the ever growing Women's Studies department on campus. The building the department is currently in shambles. I am working currently on my second and third WMST courses, neither of which are housed in the Benson Building, the Women's Studies building on South Campus. This building is an embarrassment to the University of Georgia. It's dilapidated and falling apart. The building is full of mold, asbestos, and rats. Its one classroom is set up in an awkward fashion based on its size and does not lend itself to learning. The room for the library is insufficient in size and seats relatively few students. Most of the classes taught under the WMST title are taught outside of the building, and many are taught completely across campus. The building is not easily accessible from any of the major bus routes.

A petition is circulating on the Internet calling on the University to act on this matter. Please take the time to review and sign this petition.

Article from the Red and Black

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Friday, September 05, 2008

"Glitter in the Gutter" - Jesse Malin

So in my last post I discussed Jesse Malin's performance prior to Butch Walker's show at Center Stage in July. I bought Malin's "Glitter in the Gutter" (hereafter called "GITG") probably the day after that post. I am in love with this album (proven easily by the fact that Jesse Malin jumped into the "Top Ten" Artists on my stats).

Malin's a lot like Butch Walker in that something is definitely lost from his live performance when his music appears on an album. Honestly, I need to buy Malin's "Mercury Retrograde" to see what a live album sounds like. I don't remember him being as nasal live as he seems to be on GITG. As I've been typing this, I downloaded his first album (2003) "The Fine Art of Self-Destruction" on Amazon (sorry Jesse, I know how much you dislike iTunes/Amazon/etc. and what it's done to local mom&pop records stores--I just couldn't wait). Already it doesn't sound nearly as nasal as GITG. But let's not get bogged down on this...

So even with less energy than a live performance, Malin still rocks my socks on GITG. I purchased the Deluxe edition which includes the tracks "Megan Don't Know" and "Gimme a Revolution". Starting out with "Don't Let Them Take You Down (Beautiful Day!)" is perfect for this album, which for me is a non-stop, upbeat musical experience. Not that there isn't anything subdued on the album--"Lucinda" slows down some of the forward movement of the album, and his cover of The Replacements' "Bastards of Young" makes you stop and truly listen. The peak of the album (if albums have a shape like they teach you in English class: exposition, rising action, climax, blah blah blah) for me is "Little Star". I flippin' love this song. I loved it live and I love it on the album. I can't help but dance in my chair every time it comes on. "Prisoners of Paradise", "Tomorrow Tonight", and "In The Modern World" are three other personal favorites.

There isn't one track on this album I purposely skip over because it sucks or doesn't flow with the album. BUY IT. And try to buy it new if you can--Jesse Malin deserves support for putting out such fabulous music. And for being an absolute sweetheart to his fans.

Here are some places you can support Malin:
Official Website

I'll try to post something that doesn't relate to Jesse Malin or Butch Walker soon. I do listen to other music (see the aforementioned profile). My recently purchased albums have included XTC's "Nonsuch", Sara Bareilles' "Little Voice", and the "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog" Soundtrack.

Speaking of "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog", if you haven't seen it then SHAME ON YOU! :)

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Butch Walker with Jesse Malin

Sorry for the terrible hiatus y'all. I have no good excuse so I won't make up a bad one.

Went with Ryan to see Butch Walker and Jesse Malin at Center Stage in Atlanta last night. If you're a Butch Walker fan in the Metro ATL area and you weren't at one of his two shows this week, shame on you. It honestly was the best performance I've seen.

Doors opened at 8; show started at 9. Jesse Malin played for about 45-50 minutes from songs from songs from his three main solo albums. Songs included Wendy, Brooklyn, Hotel Columbia, Black Haired Girl, Bastards of Young (which he came out into the audience for, and had the standing-room only audience sit on the floor during), and Riding on the Subway. Jesse was very engaging on stage. He played guitar primarily and was accompanied by a very pretty, very talented female piano player (whose name is escaping me and I feel like a total jerk). This was the first time I'd ever heard his music, and I was very impressed. Butch and Darren came out to accompany him during one of his songs, which was really cool.

After Jesse's set (during Butch's "When Canyons Ruled the World" - not my favorite song, so I went to get some air), I wandered out into the lobby and he was selling merch and signing autographs. I grabbed Ryan and we introduced ourselves. He pointed to my "chai"necklace and remarked that he was "a member of that Tribe!" Fabulous :). I asked him to sign my ticket and he was very nice about it, signing both of our tickets. I felt bad about not buying a CD or at least a button, but given that these were the most expensive Butch tickets I've ever paid for... AND how stupid-expensive gas has gotten , this graduate student didn't have the means. In spite of being the tool who asks for an autograph and then is like "kthxbai you're awesome" without buying anything, he gave each of us a new sticker from his "Glitter and the Gutter" album (very glittery and shiny; will probably be going on my car today) So yeah I've been Googling/Myspacing/Wikipedia-ing/Etc.-ing Jesse Malin all morning and will definitely be getting some of his music soon.

Now, onto Butch. OHHH man, I was not prepared for how awesome this concert turned out to be. It started around 10 PM and began with Butch solo for several songs. He was playing songs off his heavily anticipated album "Sycamore Meadows", including Vessels, Atlanta, and 3 Kids in Brooklyn. He played many other new songs, reading the lyrics because some of them were that new. He gave us a taste of what the "One Man Bad" tour would have been like (oh and other than citing "personal reasons" he did not elaborate on why the tour was canceled) by looping several instruments on stage and playing an entire song himself - quite hilarious. He played Mixtape (and Diary of a San Fernando Sexx Star I think - he may have done it with TLGOT's) and Joan as part of his solo set and for fun invited several fans up on stage during Grant Park to play as his band.

After a little over an hour, The-Let's-Go-Out-Tonite's! came out with him and played. Songs included Uncomfortably Numb, The Taste of Red, #1 Summer Jam, Maybe It's Just Me, Best Thing You Never Had, Don't Move, and Race Cars and Goth Rock (with the requisite explanation about his ex-wife--a funnier, tighter version of the story). TLGOT's seemed much tighter on stage than during previous shows. There was a new guitar player and a new percussionist (think rock tambourine)/slide guitar player. Darren Dodd, Wes Flowers, and Randy Michael were there. Fran Capitinelli played on a few tracks with him (I think it was Fran - it was someone off "Letters"). The show was really gearing up when Butch gave the band a break.

Butch went to the piano and began a lengthy narrative of the history of the Marvelous 3, discussing how he, Slug, and Jayce came to be a band (including practicing in the FOP building in Rome, haha). He then segued from the conversation into the beginning of Cigarette Lighter Love Song. He began the song on the piano, as he had for the Tabernacle show last April. When he moved to the mic to bring the band back, Slug and Jayce came out. At least 50 sets of eyeballs fell out from the shock. There was a collective intake from the audience followed by the loudest scream imaginable. They finished the song and also played Indie Queen (which took Butch a second to work out on his guitar, lol). Slug and Jayce then left and TLGOT's came back out. It was disappointing to see them play for so short of a time, but given that I became a Butch fan after the Marvelous 3 broke up, it was an amazing experience to see them play together. Butch played a little longer and left the stage. For the encore he played one song: When Canyons Ruled The World. He had the audience sing along round-style. The band left the stage and he stayed out for the standing ovation.

Ultimately, it was a fabulous show. We stayed afterwards in hopes of saying hey to Butch, but it didn't end up happening. We met several very nice fans both in line and after the show. In total, I had three separate drinks spilled on me, so it was the total rock experience. As I said earlier, I was disappointed that the Marvelous 3 didn't play longer (and that my camera died before they came out!!! gah). Or even better would have been to continue turning back the clock and have Chrystina Lloree come out for some Floyds Funk Revival/The Floyds goodness. I would have liked to have heard more songs off “The Rise and Fall…” as well. Furthermore, he didn’t play one 1969 song, and I would have liked to have heard a few of those songs live. All those criticisms aside, we had a fabulous time. Jesse Malin was the first opener for Butch that I didn’t sit through asking myself “When the hell is this guy gonna shut up so Butch can start.” Jesse was absolutely worth hearing and I’d love to see him play again (or with Butch! A collaborative work between them would freakin’ rock too!). Butch’s voice was perfect – he was hitting notes I didn’t know he could hit! I’m totally stoked for the fall tour now and can’t wait for “Sycamore Meadows” to come out.

I'll leave you with my copy of his audience participation version of Grant Park. The quality of the video is total crap; I apologize in advance. You get the point though (it gets brighter after the first 2 minutes or so).

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

what i've been up to

this summer has been rather insane. between classes, work, and planning for school this fall, i've been running around like a chicken with its head cut off. monday nights have been spent at Walker's Pub in downtown Athens with the girls, the gays, and the fiancée (and the occasional non-aligned heterosexual male). dollar wine night is the best idea ever.

i've been cooking a lot. kind of got inspired by a local blog which y'all definitely should check out:

Recipes for a Postmodern Planet

Sarah Beam, the author of the blog, is fantastic. she posts wonderful recipes along with disucussions of her day-to-day activities. and the pictures of her son are adorable :). i found her blog when i was looking for a recipe of the Flying Biscuit's Creamy Dreamy White Cheddar Grits (btw if you live in the greater Atlanta area and you haven't been to the Flying Biscuit, get your tuchas in gear. i prefer the one in Candler Park). I made the grits and Sarah's recipe for french toast for dinner last nite. you can find both of those recipes here.

in other food news, i decided to make salsa verde this weekend. not a huge batch, just about 6-8 ounces. needless to say, ryan and i killed the entire bowl in about 30 minutes. so i made more yesterday. i used this recipe, and it's fantabulous. i added a bit of extra cilantro and jalapeños, just because i like that extra flavor. but seriously, try it. i may have some for breakfast in an egg burrito!

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

New blog

Hey y'all it's been a while. Not much to say. Been spending a few days in NE Ohio, Munroe Falls to be exact.

Honestly the only reason I'm typing right now is to post a new blog, from a good friend Caraleigh Brady. She and a few friends are taking a worldwide trip right now and are posting pictures, commentary, etc. on a semi-daily basis. So far they've been to Amman and Bangalore. Other than that I have no idea where they are going. Check it out HERE. I'm also adding it as a link to the side.

Hope y'all had a great Christmahanukwanzikkadanyulefestivus (I really need to figure out a way of incorporating those last two in there....). I'll prolly start updating again once school starts back up (Jan. 8).