Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Midsummer Night's Garage Band (and other observations)


Trumpet Solo at the Circle A
Originally uploaded by V'ron
Oh dear, I didn't post about the Loblolly show I so shameless promoted in my blog, did I? Well, it rocked, honeys, I can unequivocally say this. I'm usually much harder on myself, I can feel the flaws, but nobody seemed to give a damn. I think partly because, as loud and as punk as we are, we do best in an intimate environment like the Circle A, where I can pull random unsuspecting audience members out of the crowd, press them against my chest and read from "The Love Letters of Jessica McBride" in response to the usual Charles Bukowski scriptures that Floor Model usually reverently delivers. How's that for "contrast"? I daresay, it was a lovely solstice evening, spent between the bands on Warwick's patio, sipping cheap beers and complaining about the economy, especially its effects on those of us/you who actually do make a living in the creative industry.

Floor Model was brilliant as usual. They could do this stuff in their sleep, but they don't, and that's why they rock. They've made it to my list of bands whose greatness I take for granted, so I have nothing more to say this time around. But opening the show was a trio called the Hullmen. I'd been promoting it as "members of Aluminum Knot Eye" but that's all I had to go on, and from what I know of AKE, that's misleading. Only one of the guys was from Aluminum Knot Eye, (so that's only 33%), he seems to be doing this precisely to NOT be AKE, and the band seems to be more garage than AKE is (again, take this from somebody who shamefully keeps missing AKE shows). But let's face it, who were we all checking out? The drummer chick. It was nice to see a female drummer --Bridgette (from Pillowfight) - play the drums in a damn good garage band with some authority. There was no weak link in this band. This was their first show, so their weaknesses were more steeped in the sort of thing that comes with time -- singer/lead needs to holler his songs with more authority, less self-consciousness -- because the melody lines demand it. They fit on a bill with Floor Model and Loblolly because thematically, they're there. Musically they were tight, they just need a touch more swagger and they could become favorites of the crowd of people who enjoy the other two bands. (Note to the Hullmen: while a compliment from me, be aware that neither Floor Model or Loblolly are paying the bills with our bands. No, you must do this for a) your own enjoyment and b) as Chairman Kaga would say, "the people's ovation and fame forever." I suspect you already knew that $$$ -iwse, you'll maybe get some free beers out of your fine work.)

No summerfest rundown from me, for a couple of reasons. First, there's plenty of other music writers in town who are covering the event. And if you've read me for awhile, you know that I don't consider Summerfest a "music" festival anyway. I don't hate it, I just don't go for the music. And being that I'm still recovering from an economic setback over the past year, like (apparently) many folks, I can't afford it just to go for the people watching. Fortunately, there's a wonderful Twitter account worth following : OH@summerfest. Perfect. People are sending that account snippets of conversations they've overheard (and they're deliciously out of context most of the time!) and OH@summerfest is retweeting them. If you can't hit the Big Gig in person -- especially to people watch-- this is almost as good! And second, like I said, I'm broke. I know I can get in free, but I'll have the kids, I can't bring in my own food and drink, and it will cost me a week's worth of groceries to feed them at the gig. Can't make them stay hungry. So I'll have to pass on hearing twenty cover bands do "Mustang Sally." And bummer, I had to miss Robin Trower, too.

Ah, the freeebies. Tosa Tonight kicked off their series with the wonderful Swing Nouveat in Hart Park last week. And actually, they kicked off their new band pavillion. The Tosa tonight series used to rotate amongst city and country parks in Tosa, and they had to drag in a stage and all, but this was a community effort to spruce up Hart Park anyway. Two days after the solstice, and I'm telling ya, Tosa park people, you might want to plant a few more trees -- hoo the sun was hot. But it was still a lovely hot evening listening to great, perfectly delivered swing tunes (once the sound guy tweaked it in so that we could actually hear the sax and horn section). Opening band was an OK cover band that did the KLH baby boomer tunes -- uh guys, even this crowd knows it's cliche to yell the name of the town in the song: "Hey Wauwatosa! I can't get enuf of yer love!" And if you're going to do "The Wind Cries Mary" Hendrix-style, tell your drummer to look up the word "subtle" in his book, because your singer beautifully captured Jimi's whisper, only to have it drowned out by overdriven rim shots that should have been played with brushes. Nevertheless, after twenty local leadership speeches and the cutting of a ribbon, Swing Nouveau showed everybody how it was done -- pick a style and encompass it in all its variety. They gave us Duke and Ella, as well as Frank, Dean and Sammy. I'm looking forward to seeing them at Humboldt Park Chill on the Hill.

Ah, I had to miss Chill on the Hill last week: my little guy's first day of T-Ball was a conflict. Love you, Pupy Costello and love your Big City Honky Tonk, but I love my Sammy more. And maybe we'll be able to hit the American Legion band there tonight (for plenty of patriotic hits) if the weather cooperates, but maybe not. And I had to miss another Eat the Mystery show at Linneman's for similar reasons. In the meantime, I'm saving my money for Tom Jones.

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