I'm still here.... melting the snow with the surf

beerleaders and fair warning
Originally uploaded by V'ron
"Do you miss me? I miss me too!" -- Whale (Remember them?)

And it hasn't been the holiday season that's been doing it. That project at work that I'm not supposed to talk about peaked this past week so if I had a spare moment at home, I spent it just mindlessly knitting that sweater I started. It was very zen to do and helped me clear my head. But that didn't stop me from seeing some terrific stuff last weekend, and it won't stop me this weekend either, especially since this weekend is packed with great stuff. Almost too much great stuff. I'm going to have to miss a lot because there is so much going on. It's the season to cram a whole years' worth of celebration into three or so weeks. And this weekend seems to be the "band" weekend, because nobody wants to play out on Christmas Eve Eve weekend because everybody thinks nobody wants to go out. Wrong. I always need to go out and underground the weekend before Christmas just to put things in perspective.

Roundup from last weekend:

Spent my birthday eve with Eat the Mystery, who crammed themselves onto the tiny stage at the Bremen Cafe, and added a few special guests. Among them was man-about-town Mark E Lee, who fit in perfectly delivering the Johnny Cash and playing the bass in lieu of the entire horn section the ETM usually has. (Dave Cusma was there, though, and he covered most of the horns himself). Lots of drinking of course, and they actually did a medley of their top drinking songs in Set 1, but as they bought me a birthday shot after midnight, they split them back up, or at least did a full version of "Demon Alcohol."

"You can't play this stuff up north," said Janna Blackwell, spotted in the audience joining Paul "The Fly" Lawson for a beer after her own gig at the Bayshore Potbellys. She's doing a happy hour thing there on Fridays, mostly covers, but she's still the legenday bassist I remember. She's also managing bands in the Fox River Valley, and I do suspect there's not a lot of people up there who know of half the incredible bands she laid down the beat for (including the Psychobunnies, with whom I share a sordid band past.) Anyway, good to see her.
Saturday, I took the kids to Lafayette Hill for a great session of sledding, and rested up for the Roller Derby. It was semifinals, and finally, the Sheevil Kneevils busted their no-win record with a close victory over the (well, until that night) undefeated Rushin' Rollettes. And it didn't look so good in the beginning, but this was a night to remember, and it seemed that the whole league was genuinely happy to see the upset, (except those Rollettes, of course).

jonny z debuts on guitar
Originally uploaded by V'ron.
After that, it was snowing like crazy, so we got the kids home and settled in with the sitter so we could go out and celebrate our birthdays, and stopped in at the Cactus Club to catch Transistor Royale. When it snows, nothing cheers me up like instrumental surf, and there is no shortage of great surf in this town. Transistor Royale saw to reminding me of that fact. Jonny "Chicken Shack" Z, normally a stand up bass kind of guy, debuted on guitar that night, as the rest of the band debuted period. They're all stalwarts of the surf/instrumental/americana scene anyway -- Eric Knitter, Don Nelson, a bass player I didn't recognize, and a keyboardist who I didn't recognize either but will note if nothing more than a smashing smoking jacket.. Actually, they were all dressed sharp (somebody had called out "You all look like you're going to bed!") and played to match. Mostly surf tunes, but there was one song with lyrics early in the set that was positively, psychedelically, frantically burning. Wow. Definitely friending them on myspace so I can see them again.

shake those maracas!
Originally uploaded by V'ron.
They were followed by The Nice Outfit, a well-named band with Trolley's Paul Wall behind them. These are four guys who don't look like they should be in a band together. Drummer looks like he belongs in a jazz combo, 2nd guitarist looks like he should be in a broodingly dark metal band, bass player is ready to front a new wave/shoegazer act, and then there's Paul Wall. But they all sound like they should be in a band with Wall. Together, they have his signature, "I'm not really trying to invite 'beatlesque' comparaisons but if you mention those guys in the same paragraph while you talk about me I will have done my job" sound. Good power pop that isn't dopey but isn't self-consciously "clever" either. Having the get the sitter home was the only reason we didn't stay for the whole set.

mark e lee standing in
Originally uploaded by V'ron.
And since said sitter lives in Riverwest, that was as good a reason to drop into the Riverwest Commons as any to catch a bit of Bobby Rivera and the Rivieras. But first I have to yell at you, boys. What did I just say about telling people DAY OF SHOW about your gig? I wouldn't even have bothered if i wasn't in Riverwest anyway. I'm glad I did, though, while the snow fell softly outside, you all played wonderfully and elegantly, and I enjoyed a snotty little story about how Wanda Jackson didn't like your take on one of her songs. (I have to say, it took balls to whoop her song up while you were backing her up.) And there's Mark E Lee with them, reprising his Johnny Cash number from the night before. (Actually, this gig opened with Floor Model, so the Floormodelites --oh whom Lee is one --were there coming down from their set which I regrettably missed. Speaking of reprising, they'll be reprising the exact same Linneman's lineup -- themselves, the Mandates, and FSFI -- soon, at Linneman's, hopefully with smoke eaters/ventilation in full repair.) But anyway, that was a great set to have humming in my head as i braved my birthday snow ride home.

Allright, onto this weekend:
  • Tonight, your choices are the Cocksmiths at the Up and Under, or chick night (the wonderful Barrettes with Pillowfight and a coula other bands) at Points East. Tough call. Love the Barrettes, need to see Pillowfight in more than a Trashfest set, but haven't seen the Cocksmiths in awhile. It may come down to where the parking is easier (and that nod goes to Points East.)

  • Tomorrow is really tough call night. Brian plays with Dr Chow in the annual Zappafest (next weekend would have been his 67th birthday) and the Danglers are also on that bill. All are bands who actually have Zappa in their repertoire anyway, so its not like they had an assignment to ready for. Boy, if this wasn't my husband, though, I'd have to heavily consider the legendary Dirtbombs (great garage from Detroit) at the BBC for the Onion's Christmas party. Sixthstation favorite IROCKZ opens. Then, frankly, it's just not Christmas without The Mighty (Rein)Deer Lick at Zad’s Roadhouse -- new venue at
    434 S. 2nd Street that according to Czelticgirl has Bill Brunke's aura about it in some form or another. For personal reasons, I owe Czelticgirl some kind of Irish/Slavic drinking concoction, and this might be worth a stop in to pay up on this. Place your bets as to where I'll end up.

  • And if surf music didn't melt my heart last weekend, the Bikini Beachcombers will hula my heart at the Foundation's Customer Appreciation party on Sunday night. I know they play other places, as well they should, but that tiki bar is the correct place to see them, enjoying a mai tai as you go.

  • And finally, Tuesday night, I'll have to pop into O'Keefe's House of Hamburg for what is pleasingly turning out to be a monthly dose of Lumberhorn, this time undiluted by a longing to dance with Helio Castroneves. Last year at around this time, they brought me back to sanity with Santanic satire and I suspect they will deliver the same. After being so busy I don't even have time to blog, I'm gonna need it.


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