Monday, March 17, 2008

Irish I had a....Chef


Noah Tyson of Highlonesome
Originally uploaded by V'ron
Oh Jeez. I won't even go into that cliche to describe this weekend.

The kids had the afternoon off on Friday, and Brian had some errands to run, so I did something I've never done before: I went to the Milwaukee Public Museum, letting Stella show me around. Why don't they just call this one what it is -- The Museum of Dioramas. Really, I felt like I'd been transported to a 3-D representation of my 5th grade Social Studies textbook. According to my peers, this place has changed very little since they were kids, and there's something to be said for that: it's nice to have some kind of museum baseline.

We opted not to go to Body Worlds. I would have probably enjoyed it, but it would have been money wasted on Sammy, and Stella is hit or miss when it comes to things that she potentially might find gross. So instead we did "The Alps" at the IMAX -- a well-done documentary about this guy whose father died attempting a climb of the north face of the Aiger, and this guy's quest to "avenge" the mountain by climbing it himself. OK, I guess I don't "get" mountain climbing, because if I had watched my dad tumble to his death climbing a particularly ferocious route up the Aiger, I would probably have to conclude, "Well, I guess the lesson learned here is that maybe that's not a good way to climb the north face of the Aiger." Stella agreed. We're adventuresome, but pragmatic. There was a part in the movie where one of his companions ends up having too much of a hurt back , so instead of climbing back down, she gets airlifted down. Again, Stella and I thought that looked like fun. OK, OK, I admit it. We didn't get it. But the IMAX film was way cool anyway.

Got the kids home, and then ventured out to the BBC to see three bands, 1956, Chief, and a young outfit called The Black Coats. They seemed well-named enough: as I trudged up the stairs I heard them deconstructing Johnny Cash, and afterwards turned out some seattle-sounding power tuned to match their flannel shirted stage presence. Between that annoying drainpipe pole smack in the middle of the stage and all the flannel, I felt like I was at some house party in the UWM Student Ghetto or something like that. Once again, a band that didn't even hang out to see the two bands that they shared a bill with. Is this what the kids are about these days? Oh well, their loss.

Because the Call of the Chef was sounding -- Chief, whose name was horribly typoed in the paper, came out like gangbusters and served up the rock, as they are wont to do. I could go on, but why? Sixthstation readers know I'm a fan, and the crowd finally got it and thrashed along. They have this down pat, and the only critique I could give at this point is to continue to work on new material, because the challenge of this stuff is to keep it fresh. Still, they were unrelenting as usual, right down to Tishler smashing his guitar at the end.

I had an epiphany during 1956's set-- I finally realized what makes them so good. It's not the complex rhythm or the good arrangements. Lots of bands have that and they're boring. No, they're hooky, and "hook-laden" isn't a term you usually associate with brooding, almost-prog bands like this. In fact, the hookieness is what saves them from being just another brooding, almost prog (but too hip to be fully prog) band. I like them because they are this cross between intelligent pop (which I hate because it's just a contradiction) and brooding emo (which i could live without), but they seem to have sucked the best of each and created their own genre. I find myself actually whistling their songs out loud, that's how hooky they are.

Saturday was the Riverwest Co-op Benefit at Linneman's, and that was one mixed crowd, I'll tell ya. I got there just in time to see Highlonesome, a well-named band of countrified folkies led by Noah Tyson, who throws down a sincerity to his music. Tyson barely remembers me, but I knew him as a 3-year old, and there's things about him that haven't changed a bit: you always knew there was something going on behind those wide eyes, but you weren't quite sure what, and that's how I felt Saturday night. They were all good, but I think he's got more to give.

Dr Chow was up next, and given that they're a rockin' band to begin with, they seemed to have unleashed a jones in this crowd that wanted to mosh. And so they did. I never pictured these guys in front of a mosh pit, but there they were. Spotted in the crowd, moshing to old hits like "Too Much to Dream" was Vince Bushell, not looking one bit out of place with the younger hippies.

Closing out the night was 3/4ths of the 357 String band, and while they were good, you could tell something was missing, and it wasn't just the sound of the bass player, Rich Ness, whose injured finger prevented him from playing that night. It was later revealed that not only does he have this physically painful issue, but he's taking it on without health insurance, and that's fiscal pain. I kind of wished this was a benefit for him. It was announced that 10% of the concessions from the evening would go toward his fund, but uh, what's that going to get? A fresh pack of band--aids? If he's cut off the tip of his finger, this guy needs some serious cabbage to get this taken care of. I dropped some cash in the buckets being passed around, and I hope it helps. At least it was clear that this was a community that cared, and there's a lot to be said for that.

After a long bike ride Sunday, I finally got my Irish on at McBob's, where I finally tasted and approved of the darn good corned beef I'd heard so much tell about. Plus, it was finally the place to shoot McTavish with Irish paraphernalia as a backdrop instead of some Jagermeister sign or something like that. Always a treat to see them, because they always evoke this barroom drinking and celebrating and commiserating spirit. They actually have fun doing this. Roni Allwaise from Guido's Racecar stopped up on stage for a few songs, but this was Paul Cotter and Mark Shurilla's show. Spotted in the audience: Jazz/Blues diva Deirdre Fellner, Marlavous Marla, and a few other musicians to boot. This was their third show in a row, but they seemed to be none the worse for wear, and it was a fine way to end a weekend.

So, tonight, as I write this, the McTavishes are at JJ McAuliffe's in Racine, and Dr Chow is at O'Keefe's House of Hamburg, and I have to work tomorrow. So, I'll have a green beer, and hit the hay, and be ready to watch the Bucks tomorrow night, remembering that I had a brush with greatness today-- Yi Jianlian was right in front of me at the express lane at Pick N Save! He looked healthy, and maybe he'll start tomorrow. We'll see. Over and out.

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