Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Labor Day Weekend For Real, Maaaaaan

I'm looking at what's coming up this weekend, Labor Day weekend, and frankly, I'm a touch disappointed in the absence of offerings. Shank Hall is blank, the Cactus is still closed, nobody seems to be booked at Lulu. Nothing's on Points East's website for this weekend. I can't believe this is for real; major party weekend and all the music haunts are shut down. The Cocksmiths are at Union Grove, but really, what are all the regular music venues afraid of? What is up?
But that's actually good for me, because I'm Djing with Darrell 'The Brains' Martin' at The Circle A Café Saturday Night and I don't need any competition. Actually, even if I wasn't Djing, I'd be there early to catch Bobby Rivera and the Rivieras. I already trust they'll be fun and good because my successor in the Psychobunnies, Brian "Rev Johnny Fever" Wurch is one of their guitarists, and that's enough for me, but here's the descrption from their website: "With Patrick's experience and vast knowledge of the genre's drumming styles, Brian's stage-bravado on the mighty 4-string, and Bobby's general disregard for his vintage guitars, amps, and audience; this new lineup came together in a hurry. Blending their combined knowledge of R&R, Surf, Exotica, Honky Tonk, Rockabilly, Blues, 60's Garage, and Jazz, they took off like a windmill in a tornado!" Hell, I'm there. And you should be too. If I do say so myself, Darrell and I are the perfect DJs to follow up on this; we'll keep the Rivera fans happy while throwing in enough different but complimentary genres in so you don't totally get sick of it all.
As for the rest of the last week before school really kicks in: (MPS goes back to school after the holiday, and Stella and Sam's school usually mirrors MPS, but not this year. They start tomorrow, but I really don't imaging any knuckling down until next Tuesday.) I'm still in denial that summer is over, but all the darn registration forms for everything have reminded me it's for real.
  • Thursday night, you have a chance to see the fabulous blueswailin' jazzscattin' Deirdre Fellner and the Whole of Soul at Jazz in the Park. It's about time JITP noticed what an amazing artist Deirdre is, and I know she will wow the audience, and hopefully this will lead to the kinds of major gigs such a her talent deserves. (Full disclosure: Deirdre is a dear friend who I don't get to see that much because we're both very busy, but she's sung at pretty much every milestone event in my life in the past 10 years, and those events were richer for it.) But for real, she is that good. She doesn't blueswail for the sake of wailing or showing off her voice -- she shows you her power when the song calls for it, like Aretha. Her jazz arrangements (co-written, likely, by the virtuoso-class musicians she attracts to back her up) are complex, innovative, but still melodic and listenable without being that boring "smooth jazz" dreck you hear in doctor's offices and Kenny G fan club meetings. Pack a fabulous pic-a-nic basket, grab a bottle of good wine, and enjoy a night of the last week of true summer with Deirdre in Cathedral Square Park.

  • Sunday afternoon is the annual Punk Picnic, just over the border in Illinois, a stone throw away from the Renaissance Faire. They say to "bring a tent" and other camping gear, but I'm like, why, man? So it can get trashed? I'm totally sure. The lineup looks to be a good day of in-your-face punk. Phrenology, who was actually featured in The Daily Kenoshan "Band of the Week" feature last June, will be there. They describe what I've always suspected about the SE Wisconsin punk/hardcore scene, calling it "Keno-core" : "We represent Keno-Core along with other bands like The Yates Kids, BB Slags, Pistofficer, Army of Cretins Self-Destrickt and quite a few others. Keno-Core is kinda like an underground family of musicians and people who love the scene. We have played all around the surrounding areas, and hope to tour within a year or so all around the US. We've smashed various items with our wheel in many different places (some getting us in trouble)." Last year's picnic was marred by police overreacting to what appeared to be a standard hardcore show, this explains the venue change. Oh well. Still looks like fun. Beautiful Bert will be there, too. I won't be there the whole night, but hopefully Bert will grace us with his beautifulness sometime in the afternoon, because I've always wanted to see his radiant self in broad daylight. Don't worry, he doesn't really put a salami up his butt, as you may have heard tell. And he doesn't have to. Even if wasn't purposefully gross, even if he lost 300 pounds, even if he didn't say things for shock value, he'd STILL write and perform great punk songs with some of the tightest punk musicians in the region. So either ignore the moment in the show when he breaks out the salami, or simply remind (and convince yourself) it's not for real. It's theatre.

  • Totally unrelated to the music scene this weekend, but I'm getting increasingly obsessed with the presidential campaign of Christina Gerasimos Elias-Billings, mentioned earlier in this blog. Julie Wichmann pointed me to this link where a somewhat MSM reporter tries to makes sense of it all, virtually shaking his head at his realization that Billings has already registered with and is filing campaign finance reports and thrown a "major" fundraiser. There's the MSM for you, the reporter doesn't even follow up on this. What a wiener. All we get is this little essay about how strange it all is, when a real journalist would have dug up this chick's story and agreed to interview her, because I'll bet that would have been a hoot, and this writer, in his attempt to be jaded and hip, totally missed a great opportunity. Especially in this day and age, when we apparantly don't have Lyndon LaRouche to kick around anymore. So, my feelings toward Princess Christina are summed up by a commentor at the link: "I so want this to be for real."

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Everybody Knows Tishler Rocks in the Rain

Call of the Chief
Originally uploaded by V'ron.
It's been crappy and rainy and gloomy and depressing all week, so it took all I could to drag myself out to Shank Hall, but its been awhile since I've seen Chief, and I needed a fix of them, because, as drummer Matt Liban's shirt proclaimed, "Everybody Knows Tishler rocks."

The night opened with the kind of band I didn't expect, (nor was in the mood for), Knit Delicate. I squinted to see, yes, that Damien Strigens and his wife Betty flanking the sides of this band (the two are also in the made-for-4AD band Testa Rosa), and is that, why yes, that's Bill Backes on drums. I'd wondered what he was up to since I didn't see him behind the trapset with the Cocksmiths at Summerfest. Admittedly, the kind of music Knit Delicate plays -- sort of power pop alt country, fairly laid back and such -- isn't my cup of tea (Backes could tell this wasn't my thing when I talked to him afterwards), but I can't say they weren't good. They were very good at what they do. They're fronted by Charles, who used to be in the Nerve Twins, and he has a very sweet voice -- reminded me of the lead singer in Soul Asylum in its edge and timbre. Actually, while I wasn't in the mood for them, they were a good band to shake off the rain to, and they'd be a good band to listen to on many a rainy day. So, again, my verdict: if you enjoy power pop alt-country, this is a great band for you. I just can't get overly excited about them because they're working in a genre that never really excited me, but that will tell you how good they were -- I was still impressed.

Next up, IROCKZ. I know nothing about them, and I spent a good portion of their set trying to figure out how I was going to describe them in this blog. I got the impression that these three guys all respected each other's musicianship despite totally different influences, decided to be in a band together, and see what happens. The thing with this kind of thing is that its usually OK for a bit, and then it suffers from not having any specific direction. Not these guys. Somehow, with this metal drummer they've got, this jazz-trained guitarist, and this new wave/punk/frontman bassist, it works. They held my attention all night with great hooky melodies and massively tight arrangements. Woo, these guys are tight, the kind of tight demanded by metal drummers and jazzbos. The kind of tight that made me wonder if they ever got a note wrong, if they fined each other. I found bass player Dan Shultz afterwards and asked him to describe his band, and he even admitted he had problems doing so, pointing out the backgrounds of each, and shrugging the same thing I thought: "but it works." My description? Let's try Prog- Punk, two words that normally should never be in the same sentence together, but miraculously it works. Shultz has a voice and bass style that brought to mind the Police (and the Andy-Summers-after-doing-that-album-with-Fripp guitarist helped put that in my mind.) They even covered "The Bed's Too Big Without You" as their set closer, and they did it wonderfully, but while I thought Shultz sounded a lot like Sting, his band actually outdid the Police in sheer variety. I'm keeping an eye on this band, that's for sure.

Finally, Chief. Playing to not the fullest house I've ever seen at Shank, and Tishler knew it, so they weren't overly heavy on the Badass Cocksure Rawk Boys schtick as much as the first time I'd seen them. So instead the songs themselves stood on their own, and stood well. Tishler knew that while the house wasn't packed, the people there were either friends, or friendly toward the band, so the three of 'em gave it their all, albeit a bit subdued. The stage banter and presence wasn't as over the top as usual -- kudos to them for not trying to be something that wasn't called for on a rainy night. They didn't have anything to prove to this crowd, because everybody already did indeed know that Tishler rocks. Their badass bass player has shaved his head, and he's still an intense looking mofo, too.

I bid my goodnight and headed home, because not only is the rain depressing me, but the fact that summer is wrapping up is bumming me out. So the family was planning a final quick trip to Chicago to go museum hopping. We drove down across the border and hopped on a Metra train so we wouldn't have to put up with parking. Plus, Chicago runs a free trolley shuttle circling various tourist attractions, and the guys they hire to drive these trollies obviously have to pass a personality test, because I have yet to hop on one that wasn't driven by a fun guy. But Saturday's trolley driver took the cake. His jokes, some corny, some spot on, had us laughing all the way to the Field Museum, and as he stopped at intersections, he flirted with other bus drivers and some car drivers: the best one being the ones who played along with the joke. After a visit to Millenium Park, we made our way toward the Field Museum.

Revoke my former Chicagoan citizenship for not knowing this until a couple of years back, but the Field Museum was founded by and named for Marshall Field, who actually was quite the philanthropist. We always knew it as the "Dinosaur Museum" but it really is what it says, the museum of Natural History. They've worked the dinosaur artifacts into a whole "evolution of life on earth" exhibit one can walk through. The other favorite part is, of course, the Ancient Egypt exhibit, with the mummies and sarcophgi (is that the plural of sarcophagus?) and the general fun facts that the Field has gotten good at: lots of tongue in cheek stuff that is based in actual life. I think what I like most of all about the Field, however, is the attention to those little details that really tell the story whether its the story of the Incas or the story of a meteorite crashing into some guy's Pontiac. They lesson learned from the field is that even a broken vase tells a giant story.

So did all the felled trees riding we saw on our train ride home. It sort of put things in perspective for me: while I'm whining abut how depressingly rainy it's been, there's people who had things destroyed over all this rain.

The kids go back to school this week. We had a good summer. I'm not quite ready to admit it's over yet.

I am going to need a Labor Day Weekend gig, that's for sure. I'll shamelessly promote this later this week, but i'm DJing at the Circle A this Saturday, after a set from Bobby Rivera and the Riveras. Come early, stay late. You'll have not only Sunday, but Monday to sleep it off. Hopefully it won't rain.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Class is now in Session

Class is now in Session
Originally uploaded by V'ron.
So after all this "What are the Violent Femmes going to be without Gordon" talk (if indeed they will continue to exist at all), the phone rings. It's Miss Amber, and she cuts right to the quick: "Wanna go see the Yardbirds tomorrow night?" Hmmm, I wondered, as everybody I mention this show since asked, "How many of 'em are even there?"

I'd seen the ad and the write up. Just who ARE the Yardbirds these days? Are they for real? Are they going to even sound like those guys in that scene in Blow-Up? What are the Yardbirds without at least one of Beck, Clapton, or Page? "Brian, do you want to go, since we're not going to be able to hail a sitter this quickly?" Nah, he says, he's going to the rescheduled Clutch show at the Rave on Thursday, so here I go.

I met Amber and her sweetie Frank Chandek along with Paul "The Fly" Lawson at the Money Pit (wups, I meant Fire Pit) at Potowatomi Bingo and Casino to see the Yardbirds at the Northern Lights Theatre. Last time I was there was to see an Elvis Impersonator contest and the time before it was to meet my girlfriends for birthday drinkie poos and see the fabulous Deirdre Fellner (but alas her show was cancelled). All three times I was struck by (and am amazed I didn't write about this) the overall feeling that I'm in a that episode of Star Trek-TNG where they all get addicted to "The Game." The slot machines don't go DING DING DING rudely at you, as if to shout "GET yer BUTT over here and WIN SOME DOUGH!" Instead, they all play gentle, hypnotic electronic lullabies. They all seem to be in the same key, so the thousands of them appear to actually be in harmony as the players play. The people playing them are just as intent as they are in Vegas or Atlantic City, but because the machines seem relaxed, they are too. Like any casino, there are no windows, no clocks, and the lighting is gently ambient. So it all seems more like this gentle mind-control machine, brought to you by the folks whose land us palefaces stole. On the nice side (actually complimenting the relaxing atmosphere), Potowatomi is the only place I see the North Woods décor done without one ounce of kitsch. It's actually classy, and in some nooks and crannies, almost a museum exhibit of the Potowatomi culture. But the music of the slot machines plainly creeps me out.

I brought my smaller camera with me. They don't appear to care if you take pictures in the Northern Lights Theatre, but they do get severely bent out of shape if you take pictures in the casino. My friends had already purchased their tickets; I went ot the box office to get my $15 ticket. The Theatre seats 500, at 7:45 pm 150 tickets had been sold. I still wasn't sure what to make of this. Keith Relf is gone, and that was The Voice. So we don't have The Voice, and we have some young turk on guitar. Was this going to be just some county fair traveling road show starring the one or two guys who actually bothered to register the trademark?

After a Bartolotta-stamped dinner, we took our seats in the theatre to find out. I'd read the website earlier in the day, and was ready to review the hotshot guitar player (this is, after all, a band known for finding hotshot guitar players) and guitarist Ben King turned out to be 20 year old guitar pheenom with impressive chops. The two original 'birds in the band, Chris Dreja and Jim McCarty held down the rhythm side. The other guy Dreja and McCarty found was a young turk from Detroit named John Idam who apparently worshipped the band so much that he lived in London, developed the accent, and (close your eyes because he) sounds exactly like Relf. He, along with guitarist King and harmonica player BillyBoy all had that slender Londoner build with the mop of a hair that screamed Carnaby Street, 1965, along with the moves, the loose fitting but oxford shirts, and the anglo blues sensibilities. The band was introduced with the classic: "And now, the Most Blues Wailing Yardbirds" and they were off.

And they were spot on. No, I didn't feel like I was in some crowded bar just off Trafalgar Square, but being in the Northern Lights Theatre I did feel like I was at a taping of Austin City Limits: this wasn't a stadium band set up, more of a set up of a really good niche band with great lighting and top notch sound mixing. But their gear was definite bar band. A few Vox amplifiers, daisy chained to another stack of speakers, regular mike stands, but definite PBS TV lighting and audience. We were all seated, and felt like it would be frowned upon to get up and slam along. This is a place that will be featuring Engelbert Humperdinck later this year, after all, and it's a casino, and it's the Menomonee Valley's answer to Ceasar's Palace.

correct equipment
Originally uploaded by V'ron.
They plugged the merch between songs as though they were some up and coming local act from the midwest, and their gratitude toward the adoring crowd seemed genuine. They played the hits, (but to Chandek's dismay, no "Evil Hearted You" -- a favorite on the Dr Chow setlist) and mostly were faithful to the original arrangements, but let the younguns take liberties on some of the solos. That's the double-edged sword of playing in a band like this: some fans will be dismayed if they vary one note. I used to say this snobbishly, but nobody was more annoyed than me during "Over Under Sideways Down" when Idam took the bass line more chormatically (and minor) than the original. And I was especially annoyed because it's my favorite Yardbirds song, and I know every note, line and rest in it, including that intro guitar run that King flawlessly rendered. "But that's not the bass line!" I hissed at Chandik, and he agreed. But we also decided it didn't matter in the long run, because every other thing that guy did -- including introducing the songs with the appropriate storytelling and reverence for who he was playing with -- was perfect. You could tell he loved this band and is living his dream of actually not only being in it, but fronting it to boot! Between him and BillyBoy on harmonica, Mr. Hotshit on guitar, it was like a new generation was picking up where the founders left off and running with it, ans that was evident on the new, unfamiliar stuff they played. Didn't know the songs but it still sounded like The Yardbirds and that's when I realized the songs themselves aren't what the Yardbirds are about, which is why I ended up really enjoying this show. The Yardbirds are more of a school of musical thought, a specific approach and technique, as one of us, Ken Meyer pointed out (in reference to the numerous guitar gods that drifted throught this band's history), "They're an incubator." I watched this with the feeling that maybe I was in class, that these guys were the training ground one must pass if one wanted British Bluesman credentials. And as Idam proved, one needent be British to become a British Bluesman -- that this was a style of playing to be mastered, not a birthright. The style of, course, is codified on their website: the rock and roll raveup, the psychedelic influence, the willingness to explore playing methodolgies not normally associated with the blues. They ended with their take on one of Led Zeppelin's early hits, "Dazed and Confused" and it had all the power of Zep, but yet sounding like the sweaty bar band just laying the groundwork you saw in that scene in Blow Up. They again thanked us profusely for coming: like they were grateful that we gave their Clapton-less, Beck-less, Page-less combo a chance to prove they were still the Yardbirds, because they were.

And then, I walked out of the theatre, through the StarTrek-Episode-Cum-William-Gibson novel, and wondered how it's going to be when I come here to see Ian Hunter in six weeks. And I'm still having difficulty picturing George Clinton -- also booked for October -- there. With all the construction, where the hell is he gonna park the Mothership?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Bob and Ted's Somewhat Excellent Adventure

As I told y’all earlier, I’d asked the Lumbermen (most common nouns having to do with the Mighty Lumberhorn band are preceeded with the prefix "Lumber-", you know) if they would be so kind as to guest blog here and recount their experience at the Bluegrass Bash in North Central Wisconsin a couple of weekends back. I didn’t go myself to bring you an unbiased report for a couple of reasons: 1) I had a full dance card myself that weekend, and 2) Experience tells me that if I like a genre of music so much that I would be tempted for a whole weekend of it, I will not be able to listen to it for at least seven more years. (See also: "Rivera, Stoney, playing in band with, at psychobilly rumble weekender" and " strange daze spacerock festival, effect on pregnancy coupled with horrendous sinus infection" or talk to Grant Richter about the Chicago Blues Festival, so full of blues that by the time headliners like Eric Clapton stepped on stage together for the first time in decades, nobody really cared.)

Anyway, (and I wonder if this is how they write their songs), the Jorin boys submitted separate accounts, banjoist Ted’s detail more in the pre-promoter smackdown and Lumberhornist Bob’s in the smackdown itself, which means, I’M going to have to play Editor Bitch. So instead, I’m just going to cut and paste paragraphs and chop a bit and color-code who wrote what. I'll put Ted in Red and Bob in Blue. I'll stay in black, because I look good in black and this is my blog, dammit.

It might be long, but it’s worth it. Part of what I like about this band, as I’ve written before, is that they are marvelous storytellers, rich in precise detail, if sometimes tangentally so. I ran into Ted at the South Shore Farmer’s Market the other day, and told him "You guys can write. You should have your own blog." "But we don’t," he replied, with an implied, "So there!" Anyways, with my editing and insertion of links, here you go:

TED: The days leading up to the event were eventful enough at Camp Lumberhorn. Only the previous week saw the passing of BJ’s old man, my own grandfather, with whom no one had an uncomplicated relationship, but thanks to some amount of decorum, reality or later-life patching up everyone was comfortable with the way things worked out and that’s all I have to say about that, except that I was not personally present and the passing nor the funeral.

At this trying time, I was in Philadelphier, the City of Brotherly Love. Highlights of that trip, in no particular order include:

V’RON: I just did (via hyperlink). You do realize all these hyperlinks are mine, don’t you?

  • The ubiquitous spirit of Ben Franklin, who, in addition to all the stuff you heard about, cured cancer, invented passenger side airbags, was crucified died and was buried, and on the third day he rose again. Seriously, they love this guy, “they” being the National Park Service, Independence Square gift shop owners and other assorted present day Revolutionary War profiteers. In Milwaukee terms, he’s like RobinYount: 3,000 career hits is pretty amazing, but the jumping the shark part was total BS. Wait, that was Fonzie. Turns out there’s no one like Ben Franklin here, but that’s not what this story is about.

V’RON: See what I mean about the tangents? They suck you in until you realize, wait, we’re veering off-topic!

TED: I rolled back into Milwaukee with about two hours to spare before BJ picked me up for the Bluegrass Bash. We were headed up a day early as is our custom (Heather and Jeffro always show up on Saturday), to par-tay with the other bands and do a little campfire pickin’, a little representation that those Lumberhorns aren’t so square. In reality all that happens is that I pitch my tent (BJ has taken to vehicular quartering) we call our wives, walk around the campsite, greet all manner of mullet and dreadlock as cordially as possible and go to sleep slightly earlier than we would on a Friday night at home. We are so square, and this year was not significantly different.

The Lumberhorn "GOT WOOD" T-shirts are a perennial favorite about at this event. We doled out three at the gate: 2 that we owed to the ticket taker from last year (he threatened to not let us in) and one that we unironically traded for a
barrel of firewood. We never did get a fire going, but we’re all about making friends. Then the ticket guy asked us if we heard the Sloppy Joe story and we were all about getting disenfranchised.

V’RON: And now here’s a backstory, which would appear to me to be an oncoming warning of the bad juju coming up. (read: while this reads like one, this isn’t REALLY a tangent.)

TED:: Since the beginning of this event, even at its other locations, Cornmeal (progressive, jammy, bluegrass from Chicago) and Sloppy Joe have been mainstays. The Lumberhorns, myself in particular, have great affinity for the Sloppy Joe folks. They play lyric based hillbilly music and employ a ho-made bass type instrument and have a chick in the band. Sound familiar? Yeah, only they’re really good and super nice. (This description shouldn’t be taken to contrast Cornmeal, I just have never actually met them, but they also play really well.)

This year, however, Bash management decided that Cornmeal and Sloppy Joe should alternate years. Some stupid reason was given by the ticket guy, but moreover, they didn’t actually tell Sloppy Joe, they just didn’t invite them. Sloppy Joe hails from right down the road in Stevens Point and has a relatively large fan base which makes them the sort of act, I would think, one would want at a Bluegrass Bash. The ticket guy then said that Sloppy Joe came by last night, uninvited and unannounced and played a show outside the campground on the back of a truck. BJ and I assumed that a number of Sloppy Joe fans had purchased tix as soon as they went on sale assuming Sloppy Joe would be there, and that Sloppy Joe came out as much for their fans as to make a little scene. BJ and I finished the Yeunglings I brought back from PA and turned in.

Early to bed, early to rise (was that Ben Franklin again?), earlier than most everyone else at this event, who not only tied two or three on last night, but unlike us, they’re in good practice. Fortunately the coffee was already on at the food tent. Here’s an aside: One year my beautiful wife attended this event with us and was making breakfast for the whole band in the morning, many of whom were still asleep. While she cooked at a camp stove on the tailgate of my truck, a young hippy (apparently still awake as opposed to already awake) approached and offered her some ‘shrooms. There is debate as to the cleverness vs. naiveté of her response, but in either case, it was classic. She said, "I’m not making omelets." Okay, okay, I thought it was funny.

V’RON: There he goes again, on the tangents, and you’d think this was actually a meta-tangent, but the first tangent wasn’t really a tangent… oh jesus, I’ve caught the disease…. but really, I couldn’t cut that out. It’s a great little story-ette, and having met Christa, I can completely picture this. BTW, I vote for clever. She doesn’t hit me as naïve.

TED: This year, Saturday morning brought the unofficial Lumberhorn Live! CD release party. As BJ and I ate breakfast, we asked them to put our new CD on next. But somewhere between the food counter and the CD player he confused the new CD in his hand that I just gave him with previous Lumberhorn CD that he had to dig out of a box full of CD’s. He played the right one eventually.

Jeffro and Heather showed up in plenty of time for our 1 pm main stage set. This event, despite its moniker, is not completely about bluegrass. Not even mostly. It is equal parts camping and partying, and some smaller fraction about music, therefore at 1 pm, most folks are still camping, by which I mean sleeping, because of the partying, by which you know what I mean.

V'RON: As we see now, Bob finally logs into this virtual room and begins to pick up the story with a baseline timestamp, like the good IT professional that he is.

BOB: We played the Ted Jorin, Sr. commemorative early show at 1 to 2:30pm.

TED:The folks who did show up to our matinee performance are the best part of the story. People filtered in for the first show of the day, some of whom, I’m proud to say, dragged their hungover selves over because they knew who we were; others by accident I’m sure. As we were setting up, tuning, testing DI’s (the sound guys love us because everything plugs in; none of that ambient mic acoustic instrument artistry for us), I was wearing a (fake) coon skin cap that I bought at a chees(y) & gift shop in Door County a few years ago. From the audience a rural type gentleman yelled, "How come you got a cinnamon tail on a grey coon hat?"


"How come you got a cinnamon tail on a grey coon hat?"

I suddenly realized that he was talking to me. I made several apologies and various excuses for my hat throughout the show, but I settled on the one about hitting two coons on the way to the gig and the taxidermist must have messed it up.

After the set I think the guy maybe thought he hurt my feelings calling out the authenticity of my hat because he offered, "You name the critter ‘n I’ll skinnit. Wanna skunk hat? Rabbit? You don’t wanna 'possum 'cuz they all skin." He followed us back to our campsite and offered some fascinating details of his day to day life. He 'rassled a pig at the fair recently, and had the bite marks on his forearms to prove it. If that wasn’t enough, he also had pictures that he ran barefoot back to his truck to get. While he was gone his friends told us everyone called him "Dumbass" and that after he 'rassled the pig he met Miss UpNordt Whatever County they were in and they’re still going out and "there don’t seem to be nothin’ wrong with her."

BOB:Yes, Dumbass offered to fashion a hat for Boy Howdy from a selection of carcasses in his freezer, but advised against a possum hat due to an undesirable skin-to-fur ratio. A lovely rainbow appeared in the East, visible as a complete arc from ground to ground.

TED: Soon Dumbass returned proudly with a picture of him and two buddies (ChickenShipoopier and Fonzie) looking as proud as could be, covered in mud and blood. "ChickenShipoopier got Tourette’s. We was working on my truck and he called me expletive n’ I said what you call me? 'n' he said expletive 'n' I threw a wrench at him. He coulda just said he had Tourette's." I laughed until my sides hurt at just about everything he said.

While we were yucking it up with country mouse, BJ was summoned to the production trailer.

BOB: As we were leaving the stage, Jackie [the promoter] asked me if I'd like to come see her in her single-wide, an offer that I eagerly accepted. She counted out $300 with a smile, and I reminded her that the contract said $300 rain / $400 shine and asked if she was assuming that it would rain. She inspected her copy of the contract that she had written, and suggested that I take the $300 and talk to her again later. I declined the $300, and agreed to talk later.

TED: This was strange for a number of reasons, first that we had another set to play and they never paid after the first one before, and also because it was not the amount the contract stipulated. No one is shocked by a promoter-screws-the-band story, but here’s how this one goes. I don’t remember if we put the "if it rains" clause in or not, but it’s stupid. Does it mean $300 if it rains while we play? Before we play? Anytime in 2007? The fact is it didn’t rain, but they tried to get us to go away with $300. "So you think it’s going to rain?" BJ asked.

On the way back to our campsite, we stopped at another campsite to attempt to explain the convoluted grandpa stories that we mangled onstage, with mixed results.

BOB:This resulted in a subsequent visit to our campsite by a Volkswagen tricycle pulling a 4' by 8' sheet of idiots. Fortunately, they were "loaded for bear" with alcohol and other imbibements.

TED: But, overall the camping/partying/music appreciation ratio is not lost on the management, which resulted in the headliners becoming more obscure over the years (read: cheaper). John Hartford, Hayseed Dixie, Old Crow Medicine Show, Ricky Skaggs and The Ozark Mountain Daredevils have played this thing in the past. This year’s headliners were the DeWayn Brothers (largely a Split Lip Rayfield protégé band, but that girl was fun to watch) and some other band that wrapped up with a note for note cover of “Shine on You Crazy Diamond.” There was no banjo or anything else to make it appropriate.

So back at the campsite to relax and a young man (6? 7? I’m not good at guessing) came over to ask if we had any firewood. We did, and we dropped by his site with the stuff. While we were there his mom figured we may as well go ahead and build the fire too.

BOB: Part of her confusion resulted from our chopping firewood, when what she had instructed her son to do was to visit our campsite and bum a cigarette from us.

TED: And her bra-less charm disintegrated as it came out that she didn’t have a job, drank and smoked way too much last night, and the feller she was camping with whom she sent into town to buy more vices was not her husband/babydaddy. Classy. I ran into her later and she casually mentioned that she wasn’t sure where the boy was. "Should I be concerned?" she asked. He actually might be better off, I thought.

V’RON: We now have slightly differing accounts of the precipitation level, important to note should the contract dispute reach the litigation phase:

BOB: Late in the afternoon there was a scattered drizzle. Some areas of our campsite appeared to remain completely dry, but it sprinkled on the hood of my truck. Jeffro's van, 40 feet away, was dry. People continued to fly kites, throw footballs and frisbees, and ride around the grounds on homemade contraptions seemingly unaware.

TED: It rained 6-8 drops that afternoon.

Court Reporter: So noted. (exits deposition room).

TED: We jammed with the Cedar Town boys a bit who were camped near us. Friendly guys from Eau Claire, even if they had a banjo guitar instead of a banjo, but I’m partial. They’d only been playing together three months! Only a couple gigs! Landed a slot at this fest! Later, in passing, the promoter said to BJ that the other promoter would be consulted to determine if the rain would affect our contract. I continued drinking in preparation for our encore slot.

BOB: I found Jackie in the early evening, and she said that she was too busy to talk at that time, and that I should come see her after 10pm when the headlining band was performing.

Once the headliners were on, I located Jackie behind the stage and asked again about "settling up." She said that she needed to talk to Tom, [other promoter dude] as it "did kinda rain a little bit." I said "O.K." and walked away to confer with bandmates.

The band agreed that we provide Jackie with a piece of information to help her negotiate on our behalf, the piece of information being that if we were paid the lesser amount, we would not be appearing at The Bash again. I found her in the trailer where she was speaking with someone, and I hovered outside the door so she could see I was waiting for her. After a moment, she came out and she and I walked away for a bit of privacy. I told her what the band had decided, and she tersely said "Now I am irritated." I told her that I was not intending to irritate her, but to provide her a piece of information that I believed may be helpful to her, and she issued the cryptic statement "If you had just kept your mouth shut, I had already worked it out." I walked away from her without saying anything.

After a 7-ticket ($3.50) can of Leinenkugel's and another chat with the band, I returned to Jackie's trailer where she paid me $400 and made polite small talk. I assured her that we would play our best set to keep the beer tent full, and I went to prepare for our show.

TED:The Lumberhorn somehow landed the beer tent encore slot our very first year at this fest, which also happened to be the first time they offered the slot. It works like this: The fest makes all it’s going to make from ticket sales by Saturday afternoon, maybe Saturday evening. The headliner usually wraps up about 12:30 or 1 am. The fest can legally sell beer until 2:30 am, but not if everyone goes back to their camps and drinks their own beer. So as soon as the headliner plays their last note, the Lumberhorn’s playing our first note to attract everyone over to where the fest can score its final dollars. The beauty and challenge of this gig is that you don’t get a break. If you stop for a second, people leave. This year the headliner played until after 1 am, so it was a cakewalk. Last year they wrapped up right around midnight. Two years ago we played the 10 pm slot on the main stage and then the beer tent, effectively opening for the Hackensaw Boys opening for us.

BOB: We played well. The beer tent was so thick with dirt kicked up by dancing fans that I could barely breathe. For a while, I could've sworn that the air was thick with some type of exotic smoke, but who can tell for sure? The Lumberhorn was sticky with an unidentifiable cocktail of Dumbass' creation, mud, sweat, blood, and beer, so I played simpler and louder than usual. Boy Howdy took full advantage of our guest mandolin player from the Cedartown Boys by sticking to banjo songs, which made for plenty of spots for jamming. Heather drove the crowd into a frenzy with a few lightning fast fiddle dances, and Jeffro pounded it all home with his patent-worthy bluegrass machine gun suitcase technique. The crowd yelled along with their favorites and made a mosh pit out of the rest, and when we were finally silenced for the traditional "Blasting Of The Floyd" on the big P.A. system, there wasn't a dry armpit within a country mile.

The musical debauchery continued at various campsites well into the morning hours, until the rain finally broke loose.

In the morning I performed the ritual Sunday discarding of the soaked and ruined camping gear, and our filthy quartet formed a hungover caravan to the first small town's diner we could find that would serve us, seated disrespectfully close to booths packed with the clean-shaven and recently sanctified families of Workhardandgotochurchtown, USA.

V’RON: And what of Jackie? You think you’ll do this fest again?
Benjamin Franklin?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Why Can't I Get Just One Shipoopie?

There... Are .... FOUR ... Lights!
Originally uploaded by V'ron.
OK, I'm going to use the F-word so much in this post that to avoid getting marked in various search engines as 'unsuitable', I'm going to substitue the word "shipoopie" for it. OK? (Remember when your Junior High School Did "The Music Man"? Now remember "The Girl Who's Hard To Get!" That's shipoopie people!)

OK, we begin with the day after the Official Watching of Viva Las Vegas Starring Elvis and Ann Margrock on our Anniversary, we took the kids to see Happy Feet at Pere Marquette Park. They seemed to take forEVER to get the movie started, what with all the sponsor commericals (that they had to show twice because the played annoying disco music over the audio the first time), and then clear all the kids out of the way, since later that annoying disco music was actually accompanied by video test patterns that made the place look like a giant rave bar, and the kids couldn't resist shadow dancing in front -- my Sammy included. And he was cute, dammit. Stella loved the movie (I had to assure her that unlike Charlotte's Web, our protaganist wasn't going to die), but exhausted Sammy slept in my arms round about the part where Mumble meets up with the mexican penguins. I put two sleepy, happy kids to bed, and set out to Linneman's, only to miss a band I was looking forward to seeing (for the first time since last fall), the Mandates.

Actually, I caught three songs and wow, have they polished up! Still sweet 'n' snarly, with guitarist Mike taking most of the vocals and Mandy on bass providing not only the bottom, but the grit. I need to see them more. I liked their sound last fall, and further, I like them. They're genuine, musically and personally.

Between sets, I found myself admist a sudden gathering of various characters whose names dot the virtual pages of this blog, all putting in appearances and passing about the gossip. The next band, FSFI (which stands for Frank Says Shipoopi It). It's Tom Lesions, Chris "Smitty Werbenmanjensen" Lehmann and this guitar shredder guy named Patrick O'Neill, and theyr'e an electrified, punked up result of mixing up Tom's other bands, Mr Wrong and his classic X-Cleavers. Except they're older, snottier, louder, raw-er, but stillold pros, comfortable on and around stage, and confident enough in themselves to put out 100%. Andy Aeros Kaiser pointed out "They're certainly fun to watch, and its perfectly natural." I liked them for the same reason I liked Mr Wrong when I saw them: you can tell they're doing this primarly because they want to. They're named perfectly. It's like they ran into Frank (whoever Frank may be), and they were talking about being musicians, and however they made or didn't make it super big and were sighing and Frank cut them off and said, "Shipoopie it. Just Shipoopie it. Play what you wanna play. Play old Greg Kihn songs, not because they're cool or not, but because you like them. Shipoopie it. Play the bass while drinking a Blatz. Play the guitar like some kind of gnarly old shredder. Shipoopie it. Wear a shipoop’n cowboy hat that comes off after the first song. Shipoopie it. Play old songs from your other bands. Re work them. Don't rework them. Shipoopie it. Have a bunch of merchandise for sale. Jump around on stage even though you're in your 50s. Shipoopie it. Shipoopie them all. Just play. Have a good time. Make enough money to cover your gas. Play loud. Shipoopie it. Have a set list that defies any kind of order or thought. Shipoopie it. Still sing songs about frustration. Shipoopie it. Shipoopie! Shipoopie! Shipoopie!" and then he takes a drag from his cigarette, flicks the ashes and finally pronounces: "Shipoopie it. That's what I say." And they all stroked their chins and said amongst themselves, "You're right, Frank. Shipoopie it'." And Tom gets on the phone and calls some club owners and says "I wanna play at your club. What's the name of my band these days? Frank says 'Shipoopie It." And a clueless club owner writes down not just "Shipoopie It" but the whole phrase, and a Radio Unfriendly band name is born for actually, a pretty darn radio-friendly (provided your radio is tuned to frequencies lower than 92 mhz) band.

Again between sets, I catch up with updates in the scene. The Cactus Club isn't open yet, and I know this because proprietor Eric Uecke is in the audience, enjoying FSFI's set as well as his beer and company, including his contractor Lehmann. He reports that Lollapalooza was worth braving Chicago traffic for. Miss Lemonie Fresh is there to cheer on her old Riverters bandmate, Miss Mandy Mandate. Whispering Jeff is there, I ask him when I'll be Djing at The Pub, and he replies "I am no longer associated with The Pub," and I find some room in my mouth to put my bunion and callous encrusted foot. Milwaukee Rock Threatre's Melanie Beres is there, with copies of her latest venture, CitiGal, in her hand and she's excited about MiRock's latest production, some Madonna story I can't wait to see. Paul "the Fly" Lawson is shuttling back and forth between Linnemans and Riverwest Commons (where Eat the Mystery is opening a set for a group from NYC). I was going to do the same thing, but I've been running around all week and I just thought to myself, "Shipoopie it. I'll just stay at Linneman's." Fly reports that Trash Fest is all set for one night at Points East, and already people are calling with their ideas. Fly and I came up with a colossal idea, an idea so huge it might need its own night. An idea so splendiforiously trashy it might be even too big for Trash Fest. An idea so brilliant Fly and I just laughed about it for a good three minutes, diaphragmic belly laughs before we came down and said, seriously, we have to do this. And what is this idea? We'll tell you later. It's better as a surprise, but rest assured, the few people we've told about this all have the same reaction: "Aw, shipoopie. Shipoopie, you think she'll do it?" "Shipoopie, yeah!"

Next on stage is the wonderful Floor Model. Last time I saw them, they had scribbled on some equipment, "Shipoopie Bush", now their sentiments towards the lame duck in the white house are incorporated right into their amp. Jeff Callesen rips up the stage with all the political and emotional punk angst that I wish more parents of 1st graders had. Before the set, we're talking about how I've trained to be a girl scout leader, and how their beautiful little girl can get involved with Brownies. During the set, they're shipooping the Establishment right where the Santorum flows from. They're not all political, but they have that intelligent, angry, ticked off early 80s SoCal sound with the literacy and musical sophistication of their East Coast brethern. And I finally recognized who Callesen got to play bass -- it's the Chop Top Toronados' Mark E Lee! That's what you get living in the Midwest, bands that synthesize all elements of their genre, lots of bands that swirl about mixing personnel and thus influences, and these shipoopiers are no exception. They give away copies of their homeburned CD (on 100% Free Records) and it's got a track called Riverwest Punk Rock Grrl, a song title and topic long overdue.

I haven't been reading the newspaper lately, and its obvious because I missed out on the hop topic of gossip this week, The Lawsuit. Oh, please, after, what, 20 some odd years since Chrissie Hynde noticed the Femmes busking outside the Oriental? The timing of this is what raises eyebrows. You mean for the past 25 years Brian Ritchie's just been stewing in this, angry that not only was Gordon the one all the girls wanted to shipoopie (as my class of '83 college girlfriends swooned, "Seems to us there's absolutely no reason why you can't get just one, or perhaps more than one, shipoopie"), but he was getting all the credit for the songs! How dreadful it must have been, being second fiddle all these years. How awful it must have been, standing on the stage of Madison Square Garden before a packed house! How terrible it must have been, having access to state of the art recording, live sound mixing, and a-list musicians! Oh, shipoopie! The pain, the pain! But why now? What was the trigger?

Having a song you weren't even credited for used in a Wendy's commerical! Shipoopie! Everybody knows you could have gotten more $$$ at McDonald's if you'd held out just a wee bit longer! As Ritchie actually quotes bloggers in his lawsuit (or so says the Associated Press), let's do a quick comb of the blogosphere for some of the buzz on this as well:
  • First, from The Wall Street Journal Law Blog:
    "So I guess this is what 8 was for."

  • Locally, here at, edited by a Femmes fan there's a lot of vitriol over this. Publisher Andy Tarnoff (who points out his previous blogpost on the whole Wendy's commercial thang is quoted in the lawsuit) proudly posts the text of the complaint. It's boring legal reading, summarized by any number of AP reports you can read by googling it up. And you can follow back to the original post, where the commenters get really nasty about this whole "selling out" shipoopieness. Anyway, a particularly vitriolic comment:
    ...someone give Ritchie a chew toy….maybe then he won't bite the hand that feeds.

  • Finally, from Trouser Press:
    "Totally unfair judgement of someone I've never met, but I wonder how concerned Ritchie would be about fan reaction to the Wendy's commercial if royalties were being split evenly?"

My take? Let's put it this way: I'm getting old. And here's how you can tell. Back in the early 90s, when I saw a commercial for Nike featuring Lennon's Instant Karma, "my heart sank." But then, I was still living in a $300/month flat in the boho neighborhood and had no other real expenses. But last year, when I heard "Lust For Life" being played for a ocean cruise liner commercial, while I was balancing my checkbook after my auto-pay mortgage payment went through, the first thing that popped into my head was "Good to see Iggy's getting some well deserved $$$!" Sellout? No! Is David Bowie pissing and moaning about how he helped write that song? No? You know why? Because David Bowie has a perfectly good catalog of his own songs that he can live off of. Shipoopie, that's all I have to say about that.

Anyway, I enjoyed a local microbrew, went back into the room to catch the end of Floor Model's set, knowing that if "You're Not The Fonz" ever popped up in a fast food commercial, my first reaction would be, "Well, good for them! They'll be able to send their little girl to college, no problem!" And by the time that little Brownie is in college, I can't see Mark E Lee coming back and suddenly demanding a scholarship for his kid. Because, everybody's a shipoopin' whore at some time or another, and as I wrote in a song once, the shame's in being cheap. And you know what Frank Says.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Coming up on the end of summer weekend random ramblings

  • Another Friday night coming up where its going to be really difficult to determine how to spend my time. The scale is tipping toward Floor Model (a favorite of this blog) and the wonderful Mandates (who I've not seen since a dark and stormy night at the Circle A last fall) at Linneman's. Also on the bill is a band whose name I see around a lot, called Frank Says Fuck It, which I know nothing about. One of those band names that don't get said on the radio too much, and perhaps that's by design. C'mon guys, if the old WMSE couldn't even say "Butthole Surfers" (they used to say B-Hole Surfers) or even the "Jesus and Mary Chain" (they used to say the J and M Chain), well, Frank Says Fuck IT is right out. Competing with this stellar lineup down the street at Riverwest Commons is another favorite of this blog, Eat the Mystery, with some out of town special guests. Might run back and forth between sets. This will all go down after we take the kids to see "Happy Feet" in Pere Marquete Park as part of the River Flicks series.

  • So, I'm surfing my blogroll, and once again, the Blog of Unnecessary Quotaton Marks has a post that has me spitting on my monitor, but this time, not because of the quotation marks (though the link is rich with 'em.) Watch out Hillary, Princess Christina Gerasimos Billings-Elias is running for President of these United States, and maybe we do need a princess in the White House. And since this website isn't exactly organized following Jakob Nielsen's Usability Best Practices, the home page ( which you won't want to miss either) isn't linked from the bio. Billings is running as a Democrat.

  • I just got done with training to be a Girl Scout Leader. I was a Girl Scout growing up, and my mom was a leader, and Stella wants me to help out with our troop. Some things haven't changed a bit, but the fact that they even make you go through training is a big change since I was a kid. It's nice to know that our girls are now being led by people who were at least given a clue as to what to do. They're really good about how you don't HAVE to do any specific activity. If your troop isn't into earning badges, don't do it. If they are, badger up! If you're not a crafty mom, find a volunteer to be the "crafts mom." This is a good thing for me, because there's lots of different kinds of moms. (And invariably, most kids want the kind of mom that's not you.). F'rinstance, I by no means am not the "craft mom." Stella's Aunt Kristi is the "craft mom." Kristi is always getting out newspapers and I'm pretty sure she has a standing credit account at Michael's, and she's always got some great craft going. She's the mom who bakes things like dirt birthday cakes for the kids and has them make homemade gifts at christmastime. I am NOT the "craft mom." Stella gets delicious Pick and Save birthday cakes. I'm more of the "adventure mom." I'm all about jumping in the car and going exploring in the woods, or suddenly exclaiming on a rainy day "Let's go to the museum!" I can pull off being "sports mom" when necessary, taking the kids on bike rides (which is more consistent with "adventure mom") or grabbing the ball and playing one-on-one hoops with the kids. In fact, I got dragged into being the coach for T-Ball when Stella was four. I warned the parents: "Look, they used to make me play right field, I'm 6 months pregnant, I call the boys 'sweetie' and the only reason I got into any baseball team besides the Cubs to begin with was that when I was fourteen I thought ChiSox shortstop Bucky Dent had a nice butt. Do you really want ME teaching your children how to play this game?" Nevertheless, they all nodded "yes" because saying no meant one of them would have had to literally step up to the plate. Same at Girl Scouts. I'll be a co-leader. I'll take them camping. I'll take them geocaching. I'll take them to the museum or rollerskating. Just please, for the love of all that's holy, don't make me be the Cookie Mom.

  • As promised, you'll be getting a rundown on the Bluegrass Bash as soon as I get a chance to edit the numerous rich paragraphs of stories submitted by Boy Howdy and his Uncle BJ. Topics include: Wisconsin raccoon taxidermy, skillfully executed contract negotiations, and the importance of Benjamin Franklin on Philadephia's economy. You can't wait, can you?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Thirty minus twenty equals 10

My Ex-Husbands
Originally uploaded by V'ron.
So at that party last Saturday, somewhere in the conversation I mention that my anniversary is coming up and I've forgotten to get a gift. This begs the question: "How long have you been married?"

"Well, how long has Elvis been dead?" I coolly reply. And here's the best part: I'm at a party where everybody knows the answer to this question. No snots who try to patronizingly say, "I'm not really into Elvis or any of that kitschy pop culture stuff." No people for whom music is wallpaper that don't remember what they were doing when they heard that the King Was Gone. No, just a bunch of people thinking the math out loud: "Uh, August 16, 1977, uh, … that's ten twenty, Uh, 30 years. Elvis has been dead 30 years."

"Well that makes this Number 10 for us then," I reply, completing my portion of the memory formula.

We purposely chose to get married on the 20th Anniversay of the Death of Elvis Aron Presley so that when we're old and forgetful, we'll be watching TV and suddenly there will be a plethora of Elvis movies, and we'll both think to ourselves, "Oh, man, there's a ton of Elvis movies on, and this isn't January, so it's not Elvis' birthday. Hmmm, that must mean I'd better run out to Kohl's and get some kind of gift."

And already, it's working. We're channel surfing during one of those dreary rainy days we had last week, and I'm watching "Elvis and Me" (with the WORST Elvis I've ever seen. Remember, he's the one about whom David Letterman said: "I look more like Elvis than that guy.") We're right up to the part where teenage 'Cilla comes home from Vegas looking like some ravaged old showgirl and her stepdad angrily mutters, "That does it. I never want to hear the name Elvis Presley ever again." Brian says, "Hey, that reminds me, I should probably make dinner reservations somewhere."

Love you too, hon.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Bugging out of Surreality: Now you're messing with a sumbich...

sammy sees a blue iguana
Originally uploaded by V'ron.
Saturday started out normally and innocently enough. Brian had a gig in Chicago with Dr Chow's Love Medicine, and I was in the mood to make the trip with the kids for a street fest, but I didn't want to hang around during sound check and such with two bored younguns, so I got out a map and told the kids "Pick a museum," and they picked the most expensive one, of course, the Shedd Aquarium.
We took the train down, got off at ol Union Station, and discovered that at least we'll save the $6 in bus fare, since Chicago knows how to treat tourists and provides a trolley shuttle that will take us around all the museums and sights in the downtown area. Perfect. We rode the trolley, paid our admission, and I'm here to tell you that it was worth it. Much more intense than I remember the Shedd from when I was a kid. Not only are the displays just beautiful outright, but they've put up enough tidbits of information that all ages find understandable and interesting, as well as lots of interactive computer-driven displays. Plus, the dolphins and Beluga whales are amazing to watch. And there's a whole permanent reef exhibit that has inspired me to say, "OK, that does it. I'm taking scuba lessons, I'm getting certified, and I'm booking a flight to Cozumel." Stella is now considering a career as a marine biologist, which I'm sure is one of the goals of the people who run the place.

So we hop on the L (the brown line -- didn't that used to be called the Ravenswood?) and I'm explaining to the kids, "Now, Chicago does a lot of things well. They're good at museums, they're good at tourist things in general, they know how to beautify a lakefront, but they are NOT the 'City of Festivals' so don't get your hopes up." I had no clue just how necessary this speech was. We got off the L at Armitage, and waited forEVER for a bus to come, and I finally cried uncle and hailed a cab. We must have reeked "tourists" because the cabbie struck up the conversatin with "So where are you from?" and we told him, and explained that we were here to see the ol DH play in his band at a street festival. We arrive at the address and the cabbie is as bewildered as we are. There's nothing there. He pulls up and we finally see it. There's a half block closed off. The band isn't even on a flatbed truck. There's about a dozen people sitting on folding chairs in the shade. This was supposed to be at a American Legion Post, and when I think American Legion, I usually picture the kind of place you can normally put a good polish wedding in. No way. This AmLeg post isn't even as big as The Uptowner. "Mommy, can we check out the rest of the festival?" Stella asks. "Uh, honey, this is it." I wish I had my camera handy to catch the look on her face.

We'd waited so long for the bus we misssed about 65% of Dr Chow's set. We're there in time to hear "Nina Hartley" and I decide to get the kids sodas. I go to what looks to be a two-car garage and ask what kind of soda they have, and, remembering I'm in Chicago when I see the quizzical look on the guy's face, turn the Wayback Machine on, correct myself and ask, "I mean, what kind of pop do you have." OK, I'm now a full-fledged Milwaukeean, when I'm not calling it "pop" these days. Anyway, he's got three Diet Cokes left, and I ask "what do I owe ya" and he motions that i have to get tickets. Oh, come on. This isn't Bastille Days. There's only a dozen people here for chrissakes, do you really need to do this tickets thing? So I buy the tickets across the garage, and hand it to them, and finally crack the tickets.

Of course the kids have to take a whiz, so I escort them inside. It is at this point when I realize I have once again stumbled into The Surreality Zone. Remember my winter Weekend of Surrealism, where I thought I'd stumbled into a David Lynch film?" Well, this was too small for a whole film, but it was definitely "Twin Peaks - The Lost Episodes." There's two older ladies playing a game of cards here at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt post. I can just about turn around in the bathroom, ("... first door on your right...") much less assist Sammy. We go downstairs to check out the basement, and it's there that we realize this place has obviously not only grandfathered but great-grandfathered every element of the Chicago Building Code there ever was. Just in case, though, there's jackets you can change into should you need one for the next Legion meeting.

Chow's putting on a fine show, nevertheless, and the dozen or so people there are enjoying it. But you just couldn't beat the interior for surreality. Legionairre Edwin Bielski is confirming that every ball is there for the Bingo tournament they'll play later tonight. I've called enough Bingo for nonprofits to know that if there's one ball missing, those bingo ladies, vicious battleaxes that they are, will get uglier than the callouses on their bunions if they find out. So Bielski's not taking any chances. That's 84-year old Edwin Bielski, and honestly, he looks great. "It's because I don't smoke. That stuff ages you." I still don't believe he's 84 unti he points out his picture on the Wall of Chancellors. Yup, that's definitely him in 1956. He's been counting Bingo balls every week at the FDR AmLeg post since 1956. Stella asked him, "How come you're the only one over here whose picture doesn't have a gold star on it," she asked, with all the tact you expect from an 8 year old. "Because," he sighed, "I'm the only one still alive."

Brian reported to me later that it was equally something else earlier in the day, when nobody seemd to be around except old Legion guys telling their war stories, especially the legend of the neighborhood Ma Barker, close friend of Al Capone, who ruled the neighborhood with an iron fist. But still, I'm stuck with the kids in that episode of Twin Peaks, and there's no commercial break in sight. So I drag them outside to watch the band perform in the heat, noting to myself that the "stage" ends precisely where the shade begins.

Chow ends their set, breaks down and chills out to the next band, the one that invited them (oh, this should be interesting when they return the traded gig favor....) Cooler By the Lake. This is an interesting band. You couldn't tell by looking at them what they were going to sound like. Keyboardist dressed in a lovely sparkly dress with army boots, so she was being kind of ironic. Sax/flute player ready to jam out. Normal looking guitarist and bassist, and drummer with this on his drumhead. Finally, there's the lead singer, who is one of those people that (and I can say this, because I have a gap tooth, too) maybe decided to get braces a little too late. He sounded and had the stage presence of the vocalist Ronnie James Dio. They're a combination of blue, heavy metal, prog, with a touch of punk attitude. But any minute Kyle MacLaughlin is going to ask me where he can find a slice of pie. The kids are tired and strung out, and we say our tearful goodbyes and leave.

We get home to Milwaukee after a thankfully uneventful car trip, and I check my answering machine for messages. I talk quickly to Darrell "The Brains" Martin, who attended Rockerbox and he reports on the wonderful Dollyrots: "They captivated and held the audience's attention. They kicked ass. I would have stayed longer, but I saw Sarah Kozar and Tess and come out of the Stonefly, and I wanted to catch their set." Oh well. Darrell didn't know that the Dollyrots are national, so its not like he can see them again next month. Lesson learned, Brains!

I've been supermom these past three weeks, so Brian agreed to watch the kids why I went out myself to decompress and perhaps shake off this Lynchian Chicago experience. First stop: a small party at a friend's house, populated by, among others, half of the Mighty Lumberhorn, whom I ask: "So how'd that Bluegrass Festival go last weekend?" Wrong question to ask the Wrong People if I truly wanted to shake off the surreality. Long story, but basically the Lumberhorn went and played this bluegrass festival up nordt in Medford there aina hey, and well, I've invited them to guest blog with a report on the experience. Because absent of having Mojo Nixon (or Boy Howdy's nominaton, the band Deadbolt) tell the story, suffice to say it was a case of "misunderstood" contracts: the ol' "Well if you hadn't been so cocky as to actually tell us how much you expected to be paid you would have gotten it. " (oh yeah, right, like you really intended to pay them properly, beyotch.) The promoter had stronger words but I'll let BJ McCrow file the report uncensored, and we all know it had rained a good portion of the time. Characters in the tale also included some extras from the set of "Deliverance." I'm looking forward -- and you should be too -- to reading about this, frosted with their down home, but rapier wit.

Sensitive Punk
Originally uploaded by V'ron.
Boy Howdy knows I'm headed to finally see the retooled Bugs at the Bradford Beach Club, but you know how it is. "Hmmmm. Should I stay at this party where the beer is free and the chairs are comfortable and the beer is free and I don't have to breathe in somebody's secondhand smoke and the beer is free, or do I pay cover at a bar and pay for my drinks? Hmmmm. Tough call." But Mr. Howdy kind of feels bad, and hopes the band doesn't get mad at him, because we've all been on stage at that kind of gig: Where is everybody? "Oh, great, that sumbitch [variable: name of sumbitch who had a party on the night of your gig that nobody's going to leave because who wants to leave a free beer party and go to a smoke filled bar to pay to drink here] had a party and now nobody's going to come to my gig and pay cover. They're all at [sumbitch]'s party. Great." I'd assumed that the Bugs were on first, and it's 11:00 already, and maybe if I leave now I'll catch at least a few songs. I jump in the car, race over the Hoan, park in the US Bank parking lot by the BBC (not noticing the "private property" sign) and Chris Lehmann's at the door who lets me and my camera in without paying. The least I can do is call Boy Howdy back and let him know that if anybody at the party really wanted to see the Buggs, they are indeed playing second, so they haven't hit the stage yet, so nobody in the Buggs can rightfully fill in their [sumbitch] variable with the name "Ted Jorin." So I've missed the Lackloves. I'll catch then next time around.

barefoot on stage
Originally uploaded by V'ron.
And again, the Buggs are here to save my sanity and pull me out of surreality, just like they did in their earlier incarnation that night at Lulu last February at the Clairion Hotel, when I walked in wondering what world I really lived in, to be answered with "the kind of world where tattooed mowhawked punks play 'The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald' at breakneck speed," and assured by BJ that this was the kind of world we really want to live in. Just like last February, BJ sidles up behind me and sees to it that I'm still not paying for any drinks. I put on my 50mm prime lens, focus on the band, and begin to earn my spot on the guest list.

Here's the thing: when I saw the Bugs back in February, I thought that was it: just a guitar and drums thing, and I was happy to hear the power that came from that. Actually, the deal was that the rest of the band just couldn't be there that night, and head Bug Lane Klozier (who, I now have learned was one of a long list of my successors in the PsychoBunnies!) just axed them. And that was probably the best thing that ever happened to this band, because now he's got Johnny Washday on bass, the perfect bassman for this schtick. The schtick, if you'll remember, is that these guys play Beatles songs, general BritInvastion sound, pop classics, like the tattooed mowhawked, please-let-me-make-you-skinny-boys-a-pan-of-lasagne punks they are. Fast, tough, but wonderful. This is why Washday is such a perfect addition: he's got both the punk cred (via the Crusties) and the pure love of pop cred (via his Johnny on Washday busker act) that was built for this project. The other new guy is called Dan Tana, (yes, named for the protaganist of the short-lived ABC series Vega$), and he is perfect for this band because, like the rest of the band, he begins the set wearing a beatlesque white shirt and black tie. But you know what he looks like (and musically brings to mind) while he's making his guitar face? Jimmy Page, right after he quit the Yardbirds but before he started buying embroidered tight-fitting pants, which puts him musically where the Buggs need him.

punk remains
Originally uploaded by V'ron.
The Buggs have spoiled me. This punk girl doesn't want to hear these songs 'round a campfire sung by sensitive men who don't trim their beards anymore. I want to hear "Norweigan Wood" played fast and furious. I want to hear Badfinger's "Baby Blue" sung by desperate men who are more pissed than melancholastic about losing their one true love. And here's where they shine: they cover Alanis MoreUpset's "Hand in my pocket" so well that I start to consider that maybe it was a great song, I was just sick of hearing it by some wobbly canadian disco queen. They're done by 1 am, and it's tempting to follow BJ to another gig to see another band, wherever they may be, but I can't do it. I've been shook back to my reality, once again, thanks for Lane and Lucki Mustafa, and I'm not taking any chances. Some sumbitch put a parking ticket on my car since I was parked in that stupid private lot that looked like a public lot, and yup. I'm back to my Milwaukee Reality, and with a speedpunk version of "Eleanor Rigby" going through my head healing the sting from the parking ticket, I fly over the Hoan and sleep the best I've slept all week.

Friday, August 10, 2007

If I Didn't Have...

If I didn't have an early morning road trip to Chicago to hit, I'd be at Points East tonight for Liv Mueller and her Dark Horse Project. I've raved about her before, and I will rave again. They've just returned from an East Coast road trip, (or at least a lot of East Coast stops were mentioned in their myspace page). If I can get a nap in this evening, I still might go.

And if I didn't have that Chicago road trip, I'd be mingling with the bikers (and these are british and scooter bikers, not hogs) at the fifth annual Rockerbox on Center Street on Saturday. Looks like they've taken "Center Street Fest" and that biker fest and mixed the two. It’s a daytime fest, and don't ask me how, but they've managed to book the wonderful Dollyrots! I think it was a last minute thing, because I only learned about this via a quick emailing from WMSE, who's co-sponsoring the event. Because they're awesome! (there's that word again!)

And since I don't have to be in the Windy City all night, though, there's lots of great choices for Saturday evening. At the BBC, we've got the Lackloves, plus the Buggs, who I've not seen since they were simply the Bugs. There's a four band bill at the Mad Planet which includes the wonderful Mandates, who I wish would play out more often. If I didn't have some social engagements to attend to, I for sure would try to catch at least a set from each.

Finally, send all your good juju over to Eric Uecke at the Cactus Club, who looks like he's going to have to push back his re-opening date past the originally scheduled opening this weekend. According to MKEonline's Blog Party, the Decibully show has been cancelled. This is a bummer, more because frankly, Cactus proprietor Uecke (full disclosure: he's a family friend) is a good guy, and anytime a buildout goes behind schedule (which, in my experience, is anytime, period) it costs money. Not just money to correct whatever the issue is (according to MKE, its flooring issues), but in lost revenue from not being open. This is a guy who's built, over the years, a great venue where I've seen some terrific shows from up and comers, many of whom turned out to be movers and shakers. Most importantly, he's always been fair to musicians, and he's always had quality acts. Uecke didn't need this to happen, which means us music lovers didn't need this to happen. So when he does open, be sure to stop in, patronize his establishment and have a fine microbrew.

Now if you'll excuse me, I didn't have lunch, so I'm off to grab a sandwich.

Deep-fried Studly Yard Dogs in the Himalayas on a Stick

Let's get this out of the way now: as my boss once asked upon coming to work the day after State Fair, "Is there anything you people won't deep fry?" Jesus, this is the fifth or so time I've gone to State Fair and I still can't believe that anybody would deep fry an Oreo Cookie much less eat such a thing. And if they don't deep fry it, they're putting it on a stick. Often, they'll do both. Alas, one of the best things you can get at State Fair, Steak on a Stick, wasn't there, so I settled for some Shakey's pizza, some calamari (I had to eat something deep fried, else I'm sure I would have had my Wisconsin Citizenship revoked) and of course a cream puff.

But if Summerfest is the Music Festival that's really a church festival, State Fair is exactly what it says: it's a grand old heartland state fair, complete with cover bands, americana food of all sorts, hucksters, animals, FFA and 4H kids, carnys running the rides on the midway, all sorts of midwestern smells from fresh to festering, all sorts of people milling about during the dog days of summer. It's completely unpretentious, its not trying to be anything but what it is, and I love State Fair for it. In fact, this music snob loves State Fair more than Summerfest for just that reason.

But of course, we had to start the day off with some music, and we're so glad we picked Wednesday to go, so that we could get our fix of the Five Card Studs. I think one of the reasons I love them so much is that its not just entertaining watching them. I love watching the crowd react to them. They're so over the top studly, but they do the sexy macho thing so precisely well that sometimes people can't quite tell if they're for real or not. The hot afternoon crowd at the Cousins Subs stage were a good example of that: it took a few songs before they "got" it, loosened up, and had fun. And that's part of the Studs' charm for me. While I'm listening to Cesar Palace croon "After The Lovin'" I'm also watching the transformation of the crowd from bewilderment to enjoyment, as they get sucked into the sexy, sexy vortex and consider that the 70s may not have been such a bad time after all. And State Fair was the perfect place to take in this whole anthropolical study.

The kids were with us, so the next required stop was the first pass at the Midway, and we took the longest Sky Glider I have ever been on to get there. We cashed in our advanced discount vouchers, had our wristbands taped on by some 80s year old volunteer at the ticket booth, and when you're a little kid taking in all these sights, two minutes of shaking rheumatoid attempts at dexterity is an e-TER-nity! Kudos to Sammy and Stella for being polite about it, though.

Clearly the ride vendor has updated a lot of rides. Those old cars that go 'round in a circle (circa 1963) are gone, so are the bumper boats (darn, those looked fun!) but they're replaced, to my parental relief, with a lot of rides that seem to look safer (if not newer) and the protective padding is still fairly strong. There also seems to be a lot of rides that look like kiddie version of the scarier grownup rides, so that they don’t' feel completley left out. Case in point, the kiddie version of the giant drop, which was fun enough and got plenty of giggles out of my kids. Once we saw that Sammy was content with the kiddie zone, we put him on the swings, Brian kept and eye on him, and Stella and I ditched them to hit the grownup rides, as she is now a good 51" tall and therefore qualified to shit her own pants.

Ah, Stella, who used to be such a wuss. Now she wants to go on that ride with a robotic arm that flips you upside down and twists you about. She did that ride at least seven times, thanks to those all-day wristbands. She was one inch short for the Giant Drop, and she was also bummed out that the silver rollercoaster wasn't there anymore, but I pointed out to her that once you get past that caterpillar (the medium sized rollercoaster), the next step up that's really going to satisfy can really only be found at the Dells or Six Flags. So, absent that, "let's hit the Himalaya!" I suggested. She looked at it and at first glance thought it looked lame. Yes, at first glance, it does look lame. It looks like you're just going round in circles. No, the Tilt-a-Whirl is lame. You have to work too hard to make the Tilt-A-Whirl really worth it. No, take a look at the faces of the GROWNUPs on the Himalaya, sweetie. Do they look like this is a sweet ride on a bicycle built for two? No, they look like those astronauts in training for what blasting off into outer space is going to be like, or like that one guy in the Nine Inch Nails video.

So get this: remember when you were a kid how usually they'd play massive heavy metal music while that thing would whip you around, adding to the danger and the evil? So what are we listening to as it takes us around? "Do Your Ears Hang Low!" Granted, it's a hip-hop version of it, so it's got some edge, but still. It's the song the freaking ice cream man plays, so here's Stella, slammed into me from centrifugal force, holding on for dear life, but laughing her head off because all she can think of is our lame ice cream man who plays it overdriven and distored and whose ice cream is usually too melty to enjoy fully and who's scarier than the most toothless carny. We laughed together all the way back to where Brian and Sammy were sharing a slushie. We came back at night and the Himalaya was at full tilt: lights flashing, sirens going off, carnies flirting with us. And what are we listening to now? Some mellow Pearl Jam song. At least once we got going it turned into a rockin' Pearl Jam song, but that's not what I want to hear on the Himalaya! I want to hear some evil speed metal played by guys who have spikes coming out of their 23-inch necks! I want to hear "Theme from The Sheild"! At least it wasn't the freakin' Ice Cream Man song. Still.

Sammy spots the caterpillar rollercoaster and he's lit up like a ferris wheel at night. "Mommy, I want to go on that rollercoaster. At 3.75 years, he's suddenly not satisfied by the cute little dinosaur any more. We measure him up, and, as long as he's with a "responsible adult" (me, responsible?), he can. We get in line.

At first, I was bemoaning the fact that I'm probably ruined by Six Flags and especially Wisconsin Dells when it comes to rollercoasters and thrill rides, that a piddly little caterpillar with a few turns was going to be boring for me. But I'm here to tell you that the best way to get over that is pretty much the best way to get over anything you think you've outgrown: do it with a little kid. I'm clutching hard to Sammy's chest and I can feel his excitement pounding as we're going up, up up and then down, and that caterpillar pulls a few g's whipping around the decending curve, ("just like the Wizzer at Six Flags!" Stella pointed out.) I'm building it up for him: "Here we go! Wooooooooooooooooooo! Whoaaaaaaaaa!" and his eyes are bugging out and his tummy is vibrating from laugher, and his smile is huge and genuine and he yells at me afterwards in his little boy lisp, "That was awesome," (and I forget for that moment just how much I hate that word) and I agree with him, it was. His thrill is contaigious. At that moment, as far as I was concerned, I just got off of Hades at Mt. Olympus.

After that, my tummy is vibrating and in need of a soda to encourage a belch. We head back to the main part of the Fair, we get something on a stick, and walk about. There's the Florida Yard Dogs, who I'd seen at Bastille Days and who draw me in with genuine fun, musicianship and attitude. They're perfect. They do this version of "House of the Rising Sun" (don't all cajun bands have that in their repertoire?) that is both eerie and ominous and jumps into fun. It's a small little stage, and they're booked all week, so I do what I didn't get to do at Bastille Days, and approach this guy and ask him, So what the heck IS that instrument?" It's called a Jamaican Rumba Box, or his version of it. Most are much smaller, but he built his to accommodate several keys, so the keys are arranged in fifths. He also pointed out that he built it so that he could always play it with a beer in his hand (and he does!) and in fact, "I taught myself to play that way, so if I don't I can't play it! It doesn't feel right!" We go through the Wisconsin Products Pavilion, we say Hi to the Lumberjills ("Chicks with axes!") we wave to Coventry Jones, we ran into Marlavous Marla Rothenberg and her entourage. Brian accuses me of being on smack as I eye the giant bungee jump. "No, if I was on smack, I'd pay the $30 to do it." The price, honestly, was the only think keeping me off it. Really. Honest. We enjoy a fun little hair band, and we spot a kid with a ribbon pinned to his shirt. Was he the kid whose prize steer fetched $18K on Wednesday? No, better: He won the Cream Puff Eating Contest! At least this wasn't a "how many" contest like some awful gluttony of hotdoggery. It was a "how quickly," and his amazed father gushed to us, "Less than five seconds, and poof, it was gone. It was something."

shoes and socks
Originally uploaded by V'ron.
Of course, I take the kids on the Packer Slide, which is what we call the giant slide, for the obvious color-coded reason. We do a few more rides, and cut through the barn on the way, where we get to meet a cow. We do the ferris wheel at night. It's just me and Sammy in there, because Brian is chilling out with the Yard Dogs, and, ohmygod, Stella's met a boy on the caterpillar and they agree to go back to her favorite ride together, and I'm keeping a motherly eye on this from the ferris wheel, and it’s a beautiful summer night and my feet are killing me and I don't care and I have to go to work the next morning after what will be five hours of sleep and the kids are exhausted (but not too exhausted to laugh at their Wisconsin heritiage before finally passing out in the car on the way home. The overload of State Fair pretty much can cure anybody of rampant cynicism.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Most Objective Blog Post Ever

OK, I'm about to review my husband's band's first outing in almost a decade. Given everything I know about the making of this show, they blew me away.

First off, the drummer they'd been rehearsing with all summer got called away with two weeks' notice, and they scrambled to find somebody to sit in. That somebody turned out to be Jay Tiller, who was pretty much the perfect drummer for this band. And he didn't sit in at the last minute and just phone it in, either. No, beyond blisters on me fingers, Tiller is a hard drummer who played it 110%, breaking sticks that flew into the audiece from physics, not showoffedness.

Second, due to other unavoidable issues, the first time all five of them played together was, well, Saturday night.

Third, well, I can't say I've seen Rick Franecki on a stage since before I started dating Brian.

I was actually a touch late. I missed the first two bands, locals Mutt Junction and Hoss. The verdict from everybody else I ran into there was that they were good. Mutt Junction was "prog, kind of spacey, kind of metal" and references to Uriah Heep were made. The word on Hoss was that they were good as well. Were you there? Please comment. I kind of feel bad that I didn't get in time to see them myself, but frankly, I was at the company picnic at the Zoo with my kiddos. When the choice is between "spend some quality time with Sammy and Stella at a free event at a wonderfully educational place that they love" OR "check out some local band that, if any good, will be playing out again soon enough" I'm going with my babies. Sorry Hoss and Mutt Junction. Next time.

And on top of that, I was still late for the beginning of F/i's set. "This is only their first song," Darrell "The Brains" Martin tried to assure me, but with F/i, "only one song" could be anywhere from 2 minutes to a half hour. Still, they were spacey, they were loud, they looked assured, but that comes from the self confidence of having been a band for some 25 years, and spoken of in the same sentences as phrases like "founding fathers of space rock" "krautrock rancouteurs" and the like. They weren't there to prove anything to anybody, but more to reassure us all that they're still out there, making music.

To that end, it was a good "Beginner's Guide to F/i" session. A couple of cuts from the most recent CD, "Blanga," a couple of early experiments, and of course they played the hits. "Looking For My Head" was, in my opinion, the only weak spot. If you didn't know the title of the song, you wouldn't have been able to understand it because they just weren't getting the effects to come through the PA right. It's a distorted effect on Franecki's voice that Grant Richter puts through his electronics, but I'm not sure if it got lost in the electronics or the sound board. But it really didn't matter. Between Tiller's relentless drums (that still managed to remain elegant in their precision and passion) and my husband's rhythmic lead playing (or is that leadish-rhythm?) keeping relative newcomer John Helwig's bass in line (Helwig couldn't make that last rehearsal and managed to wing it beautifully nevertheless), I found myself all over the room, taking it in (and taking photographs) both visually and aurally from all angles.

Still, after such a long time from the stage,
there was an unspoken "Phew" at the end of the set
that followed another unspoken "Yeah, we're back!" and a wonderfully improvised encore called unanimously from the small but appreciative crowd that was there.

Look, this is my husband, and you really can't expect me to be objective about this. Still, these guys pretty much, if not invented their genre, took it further than anybody else did and laid the foundation. I liked them before I even knew what they looked like, much less suspected I'd ever sign over all my property rights and make babies with one of them. I think the big difference between F/i and many bands that use synths and electronics and effects and such, is, if you took all the noise and electronics out, you'd still have five people who think about experimenting with sound, but remain musical about it. That's a task a lot of would-be spacerockers or progeers still don't get. I wouldn't have wanted to follow them on this or any night, that's for sure.

But Austin's My Education did, and they were massively up to the task. They suffered in the beginning from some technical difficulties, and there were a few false starts, and nobody in the audience could tell if this was staged or not until they finally crashed into their first song, and then it was obvious that the false starts were indeed technical issues. Because, once they got going, they were simply majestic. The drummer is center stage and often stands up to hit his instrument, especially since he's a drummer who has to follow Jay Tiller. The violinist is upstage, and at the Miramar, that means bathed in diffused light that made him seem like some kind of prophet with his instrument. Bass and keyboards flank the drummer, and on the wings are two guitarists. Heavy on vintage pedals, effects, amplifiers, and looks. Heavy, period. Good heavy, as in, "Wow, man, that's some heavy tunage, maaaaaan." Chord progressions and dynamics smack out of "Lord of the Rings -- The Final Battle" or some other epic soundtrack straddling between antiquity, fantasy, and futururism, with a little punk rock attitude thrown in to counter their genuine passion for the music. I found myself both relaxing and headbanging to them.

Yes, there should have been more people there, and I probably would have promoted this differently then they did, and readers of this blog know I'm usually not shy about tounge-lashing people's self-promotion skills. But the way I would have promoted this would have been a lot more shameless, bordering on sensationally tacky, and that's just not their style. I had a hard enough time shooting F/i as a objective photojournalist as it was. Remember, I've always said that getting involved with your SO's band is a recipe for disaster, so I'll stop writing now. The last person Brian needs to be married to is Jeannine Pettibone-St.Hubbins.