Friday, December 24, 2010

Sunday Night Soul

the Soul Trio at the Circle A
Originally uploaded by V'ron
Yes, I haven't gotten out to see bands a lot, but I did drag myself out to the Circle A last Sunday to catch the Soul Trio, which actually turned out to be a quartet. John Sparrow on drums was enough to guarantee quality, but I was pleasantly surprised to catch Brian Mir (who happens to be Sammy's best friend's dad) on guitar. My understanding is that Mir is a bass player, but I'm here to tell you he's a fine, imaginative guitarist as well.

This whole act is very clearly the brainchild of sax player Aaron Gardner, who I've seen sit in with the Danglers a time or two. Gardner said so himself -- that this band was one of three or four band ideas he'd had in his head, (another being a metal act -- I'd like to see a metal act fronted by a sax man!) but this was the first that hit reality.

And what a terrific reality it was. Started out sounding like a cross between a 70s porno and a Lalo Schifrin-soundtracked Quinn Martin production, but from there it evolved into a jam worthy loungy jazz experience, with touches of spacey psychedelia (courtesy of Mir's guitar work.) A few nice touches by Gardner and some pedals of his that expanded his sax sound (making it sound like a chorus of horns, not just one sax). This band was tight, and well-rehearsed. This being their first time out, I'd say the only thing is that they need to loosen up a bit. Case in point: we were all wowed by the two sets they put out, and being a Circle A audience, we expected an encore. "Ya got one more?" Doorman/Soundman/CircleAman Paul Setser asked, and they shrugged off a disappointing no. C'mon guys. Everybody has one more at the Circle A. You almost plan to get called back for one more. If Warwick himself were there he would have called for it. A few more musical tidbits:

  • Speaking os Setser, he told me about a new cabaret act that he hopes to debut in February. Eat the Mystery is no more -- and that's just as well -- they'd run their course, but what a course it was!
  • Speaking of the Danglers, they're doing a whole weekend in February at the Circle A. This is obviously a concept -- and i suspect each night will have a different theme going. Will post more info as I get it.
  • Last night I missed an IRockZ reunion, and tonight's Christmas eve, so there won't be much music blogging. But it's good to know that Trans Am Dan is still out there with that cool concept of a band -- part prog, part new wave, part straightup rock and roll, part punk. I'd said before, this is a concept that shouldn't work but does. Wish I'd been there. Hop over to my cooking blog if you want to read more of me. Meantime, Happy Christmas friends!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Here's how you can tell I'm getting old

I didn't make it to the Deerlick Christmas show last night for the first time in YEARS. There was a choice, stay home cuddled up with DH and the kids after cleaning out the office and getting a tree and putting lights on it and putting the ornaments on it and making dinner and ... man, I'm getting old.

But not too old to have a terrific party on an otherwise crappy night. Lots of text messages from friends too worried about the weather, which as south siders know, turned out to be nothing but cold wintry rain. Didn't get a flake of snow until well after bar time, well after everybody was home safe and sound, well after plenty of birthday drinks took their toll on my ability to keep my eyes open. (I didn't drive, thank god.)

The Danglers opened the night up on this rainy night with Astronomy Domine, and they were wonderful as usual. Jason brought a guitar which he never ended up playing, but it was there just in case. Plenty of my friends who'd never seen them before were congratulating me on my choice (as well as my ability) to get these guys. Up next was the totally other side of the continum , Floor Model, straight up snotty punk with more than a touch of literacy. Normally you'd put the punk band first, but this worked out well. First of all, they're the only band in town who has the balls the follow the Danglers (NOBODY every wants to follow the Danglers, which means they always have to go on last... and at our age that gets tiresome. Remember when you WANTED to go last? When you WANTED to headline? Another sign I'm getting old. Last few shows I played it was, "You can go on last? Oh no, I'm fine going on first..."). Anyway, it worked out well, because I was good and birthday wasted by the time Floor Model swept into their Ramones and Black Flag covers, and I wasn't the only too-old-to-be-doing-this punk on the floor swaying along with them.

The day before it was high art with the kids; I was a chaperone for my kids' school to see the final dress rehearsal of the Nutcracker. I ended up sitting nowhere near my kids, so I sat with some others and we discussed Tchaikovsky's career other than the Nutcracker ("He was whatcha call a tortured artists, chillen," "What does that mean?" "He never though anybody liked his stuff"), which songs they'll recognize, which songs they're expecting, ("Oh, no, that was Mozart.." "I thought that was Beethoven" "I get him confused with Bach"). Actually, it was uplifting to sit with 2nd graders who even know who Mozart, Beethoven, Bach and Tchaikvosky were much less kids who were actually embarassed that they get them confused sometimes. Makes me feel better, as I enter this second century of my life, about that vapid Katy Perry crap I heard on the radio coming home.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Slice of Gingerbread Ice

Slice of Gingerbread Ice
Originally uploaded by V'ron
I love hockey. And truth be told, I love the Village People. What a fun concept. And what a fun concept to bring them both together on a winter's night. The kids and i joined Sammy's Tae Kwon Do group on an outing to the Bradley Center last week to enjoy some fun on the ice. unfortunately, this was the first night we'd ever gone to an Admirals game where they lost. But, the Village People concert was supposed to make us feel better. But we were sitting behind the stage so while we got to see their well-toned derrieres, we barely heard a thing. We got the monitor feed. Pshaw. We moved up to seats more in front of the stage, but the sound mix still sucked. And the Village People's music is the kind of stuff you need a great sound mix for. So we didn't even wait for "YMCA" even though it was YMCA night at the Bradley Center. We just left reluctantly.

So of course last Saturday I had "Macho Man" going through my head, an earworm more potent than Eduard Khil. "Hon," Brian said, "Sounds like you need some FZ." And so I did. rounded up a last minute sitter, so I only caught two band at this year's Zappafest, but they were Dr Chow and theDanglers, so all is right with the world again. And the Danglers are playing for my 50th birthday Saturday night, along with Floor Model, so that helped remind me how much I appreciate them.

But today was a lovely day, really. Slice of Ice opened today -- the outdoor skating rink across the street from the PAC -- as I've often called it, our own little piece of Rockefeller Center. And it was, as the kids called it, Hollywood Snow -- just softly floating flakes over a Christmas-lights sprinkled night, with the elegance of a Nutcracker audiences spilling out into the street. (Only downer was just getting there and having to sit through opening day ceremonies which includes a figure skating demo. We didn't come here to watch, we came to skate!) But other than that, once again, the Starbucks there had their A-List crew working (even though I was asked "What would you like sir?" "Uh, I'm a 'ma'am'") and then becuase it was opening night, every mascot in town was there. The Sausages were there, the mascots from the Milwaukee Wave and UWM Panthers -- but get this -- none of them were on skates until Bango the Buck showed up. But Bango's a really athletic mascot anyway. He'd left, and then Roscoe (from the Admirals) turned up -- and being a hocket mascot, he was clearly the best skater of them all. The kids had a good time high fiving them. Sammy had a dreadful wipeout and has a nasty bruise near his eye, but he's sitting on the couch as I write this, with a fresh ice pack, and hoepfully a story to tell. Most likely, that story is about the one skater who we overheard fretting about how she was going to get home in all this snow. Hel-LO: this is Wisconsin and it's December 9. This isn't a blizzard, people. It's snowfall. That tends to happen this time of year here in 43 degrees North. If you're at all deserving of your Wisconsin driver's license, this shouldn't be a problem.

We decided (well, I decided) we/I didn't feel like cooking, so we popped into the Milwaukee Pubic Market where Sammy and I munched on lobster and calamari at the St Paul Fish Company lunch counter ( both were outstanding, and very reasonably priced) and Stella had the always excellent Chicken Soup from the Soup Company. We heard some excitement and applause coming from upstairs; there was a Gingerbread House contest! We went to check it out and found everything from traditional gingerbread houses to gingerbread apartment buildings and log cabins and lodges. My favorite is pictured here: a gingerbread Red Arrow Park, complete with ice rink and Starbucks and 1001 building in the background. It was really good, not necessarily the best, but a lovely little replica of this picture perfect holiday evening spent with the kids: truly a slice of a slice of our ice.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Fiftieth Communion

First Communion
Originally uploaded by V'ron
This is a picture of me at my First Communion. And, next Saturday the 11th, it will be my 50th. Birthday, that is. And in Sixthstation fashion, I'm going to celebrate with music by communing with two of my very favorite bands. They will help me ring in my next half century at the Port of Hamburg on South Howell.

The bands? Why, could I have picked two more diverse bands, with the thing in common is their excellence in their genres? No, I could not.

We have The Danglers: psychedelic jazz prog free-form blistering emotionally-charged musical virtuosos who have this chameleon-like ability to size up a crowd and deliver a performance that leaves jaws dragging on the floor in shock and awe, making it look easy by seamlessly merging disparate influences (oh dear god I'm starting to sound like Dave Marsh...)

And then we have Floor Model: snotty, loud, tight, radical, clever, sharp old bastards whose rapier wit slices through everybody from CIA-infested political "leadership" to pretentious riverwest punk rock grrrls (that resemble me in my late 20s) who nod in agreement to every word Charles Bukowski belches out.

And the Port of Hamburg? Timmy O'Keefe's Port of Hamburg? (because when you're thinking fine german reinheitsgebot-styled beer auf Hamburg, you're thinking "O'Keefe") Excellent selection of fine beverages to keep your liver pickled for another 50 years.

My birthday's really December 8, but a) that's a school night and b) it's a Holy Day of obligation and I wouldn't want to interrupt anybody's pre-Communion fast.