Monday, June 30, 2008

Tribute Bands

If you could be in a tribute band, which band would you choose to cover?

I was thinking of this the other day, especially reflecting on experiencing Dark Star Orchestra and Lez Zeppelin, and then with Badfish coming to Northern Lights in the next few months. And the options are endless.

But, if you were to pick a cover band, you'd want to pick one that has a lot of material to draw from. Obviously, the examples above are great choices with the Grateful Dead and Led Zeppelin. They could play so many different shows while pleasing the crowd.

Personally, I think my top choices would be the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Dave Matthews Band, and The Doors. I think the Dave crowd would pull in the biggest crowd, and they have so many good songs. But the others are great options too. I'm torn!

Chuck Klosterman has an excellent essay in Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs about a Guns N Roses tribute band who really takes it seriously. He has another book to that I can't think of, but he goes on the road with a band and gets the full experience. I never really thought about the tribute band before I read his essay, and it's really enlightening. They are trying to recreate music and take on a different persona, in this case Axl Rose, which must be fun to be in costume every night.

I've just never thought of it before. And you can't out-do the band, nor do you want to since you're a fan. And you're only as good as the band, I mean, you can't make up new songs but just recreate, yet you can have some creativity added into some of the songs. And what if the band is touring? Is that weird? Do you stop or keep going? Is the band you're covering offended? Do they dislike the way you play their songs and profit off of it? Does it matter on the band?

I'm throwing out a lot of questions here. What do you think? What cover band would you choose to be a part of?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Giambi's Mustache

Jason Giambi voted best-looking in baseball? That's a joke. He's the best candidate? You've got to be kidding me.

Can someone please tell him to shave off his mustache?

He looks like a pervert. Thank you.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

RIP George Carlin

This post is dedicated to George Carlin, the recently deceased comic who made deeply impacted comedy with his crude and obnoxious humor.

I was shocked the other day to hear that he had passed away. He would laugh if he read that I used the phrase "passed away" as opposed to simply "died." He had an amazing comedic bit on euphemisms, which I included in an earlier post, and he would hate for us to sugar-coat the truth.

I know he was old, so I shouldn't be too surprised. The signs were there anyway. In the last formal comedy special he had, he talked a lot about death and old age--a new twist on his material. He confronted it without any sort of fear. He didn't believe in heaven or anything positive after death (a bit too depressing or dark for me), which is kind of sad considering he's there now. But he didn't seem to concerned with it. He embraced the topic with just as much vigor as anything else. No fear--just embrace it strongly without any sympathy or emotion.

Doing a quick bit of research, I discovered that, during his early comedy years, he was imprisoned for his crude humor and swearing during acts. This is now commonplace for many and most comedy acts. His performance made this acceptable. Check out the police report and picture above. See how much has changed since this performance? He has deeply impacted our culture. He was willing to put himself on the line for a change (even though it's a bit out there). I like that kind of drive in a person, for whatever they believe in (as long as it's not harmful to others). And this was 1972. Look how far we've come since then, over 30 years later.

Anyway, George Carlin, even though he was crude and offensive at times, changed comedy to be more outspoken. His organized, intelligent comedy bits have been inspiring and thought-provoking, despite some of his other work. This guy was legendary. He was one of the FIRST guests on Saturday Night Live. He's been around forever and has continued to remain funny and change/improve his comedy over the years. I commend that.

To George Carlin, a great man.

What did you think of George Carlin? Any words about him or his passing?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Bonnaroo Reflection

It's hard to jump back into blogging after being rid of technology for so many days. I would like to further comment on Bonnaroo, but this time, a bit more philosophic rather than plot details and highlights.

On the sites, obviously, there is no technology. All you have is your car, and you don't want to run the car for fear of a dead battery or lack of gas. Thus, cell phones and charging was a problem. But, I kind of started to enjoy the fact that I wasn't talking on my phone the whole time, and I really never had a sense of the time. It became more of a fun game. What time is it? Well, what time do you think it is? We weren't as dependent on the clock to determine where we headed; we relied more on the music and how much we vibed from it. (However, this did have drawbacks. I did miss some good shows because of it: Stephen Marley, Iron and Wine, Jakob Dylan, Rilo Kiley, Ben Folds).

And, for those of you going for future use, you don't really need to bring much of anything to Bonnaroo. You can survive by packing really light. The only necessities are as follows: tent, sleeping bag, pillow, tarp for shade, camel pak/water bottles, snacks to carry in, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, towel/rain gear, camera, cell phone, batteries. All food can be bought inside. Don't bring the whole grill/hot dog thing. We did that, and it made you rely more on the site than the concert. You're really only at your site in the morning and when you sleep, so plan on everything else being inside Centeroo.

The people there were a different breed too. I love them. I wish we could all flock to our own community. We were ready to hear good music, relax, not work for a while, talk about random topics, drink/etc, dance, and maybe dress up a bit. Dressing up was quite a theme there too. Wolverine attacked me a few times. Others just embodied the south to the fullest. You'll meet the strangest people here--and that's the best part. Talk to them, mix with them, be them. Enjoy it too. And don't forget to take many pictures and videos of them.

Don't worry if you don't see every band either. I was really upset when I didn't get to, but I got to see a TON of great bands as well. It's better to see an entire awesome set than just bits and pieces of a few. Enjoy a show--don't push it too much. Besides, it's hot. Save your energy.

And what I want to know is, who came up with this? Who runs this? I can't imagine how awesome this job is. I know it must be pretty rigorous and stressful (because it must be a year-round job that pushes all its energy into one solid week of entertainment, and a lot rides on it), but it must be so enjoyable. It must be stressful, dealing with equipments and setups and such, but they're working towards something so wonderful that the efforts must be worth it. Now that's a job someone could love doing. How would one get that job?

So, those are my last thoughts of Bonnaroo, at least for a little while anyway. Any Bonnaroo comments?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Return from Bonnaroo

So it has taken me a while to get back to reality. This is completely apparent from my lack of participation on the blog. After scrambling back to normalcy, here I am.

So, Bonnaroo.

Wednesday to Monday of psychotic exploration from Albany to Maryland to Tennessee. I experienced so many different things that it's hard to place in one cohesive blog post. But, I will tell who I watched, first of all, person by person:

Thursday: Newton Faulkner, Janeane Garofolo, Mike Birbiglia, Leo Allen, Vampire Weekend, Dark Star Orchestra, Lez Zeppelin

Friday: Drive By Truckers, Umphrey's McGee, The Bluegrass Allstars, Les Claypool, The Raconteurs, Willie Nelson, Chris Rock, My Morning Jacket, Disco Biscuits

Saturday: Mason Jennings, Abigail Washburn and the Sparrow Quartet, Donovan Frankenreiter, The Wood Brothers, Ozomatli, BB King, Jack Johnson, Pearl Jam, Phil Lesh and Friends

Sunday: Robert Randolph's Revival, O.A.R., Robert Plant and Allison Krauss, Derek Trucks and Susan Tudeshi, Widespread Panic

On Wednesday, sidenote, we saw R.E.M. and Modest Mouse play in Columbia, Maryland. Kick ass show.

Definite bands/artists to check out: Mason Jennings, Newton Faulkner, Lez Zeppelin, Umphrey's McGee, The Raconteurs (voted best performance by myself), Robert Randolph

Overall, I can't get over how well run the festival was and how many people were there. I will show pictures below, but when you looked over the 700+ acre farm, tents were EVERYWHERE, people were swarming everywhere. It was insane, but a good insane. People flocked from all arond the country in the sole interest in the love of music and art. The dynamics was well thought out as well. Art was displayed everywhere, which I greatly appreciated. It was gorgeous.

Despite the cleanliness issues, the Bonnaroo staff did an excellent job. I don't see how they could get around it either. All we had were portapotties (spelling?) for four days, limited showers, and water tents. My hands didn't feel clean for days, despite hand sanitizer. It really doesn't do the job. But they provided good shade and clean facilities as much as they could. The music crew did a fantastic job; hardly any shows were late.

The only show worth noting with lateness is Kanye West. Kanye was supposed to go on at 2:15 following Pearl Jam. Pearl Jam was supposed to end at 12:15 but played an hour over. Kanye's set was really elaborate and needed set up time, but he still didn't go on until after 4, and he only played for half of his alotted time. All in all, Kanye couldn't get his ego out of the way and his fans suffered because of it. When I went to see Robert Randolph the next morning, he commented something along the lines of "I understand that you all pay good money to be here and you want to see who you want to see. No one should be so conceited as Kanye that they can't perform, because that's why we're all here. So let us chant 'Kanye sucks.'" And we did. Throughout the whole rest of the day, everyone did chant Kanye sucks. It was a bold move by Randolph, but everyone loved it.

Random notes:

-Pearl Jam ended with "All Along the Watchtower." He made political comments throughout, about bad gas prices, and flinched during one of his songs when the screen flashed to a man wearing a scary mask. "It is important to always remain positive" he noted afterwards.

-Eddie Vedder came out and played "Constellations" with Jack Johnson in his own style. Johnson was very nervous to play in front of so many people and messed up a couple times due to this fright. I can't blame him.

-Money Mark came out to play "Sitting, Waiting, Wishing" with Jack Johnson.

-BB King played "You Are My Sunshine," and periodically spoke to the audience as if it was a constant two-way conversation.

-Eddie Van Halen jammed with Gogol Bordello and Les Claypool during Super Jam.

-Jakob Dylan made a sarcastic comment about playing on Father's Day, his favorite holiday, referencing the falling out between him and his father.

-Disco Biscuits played "Killing in the Name of" and "Safety Dance," going over their alotted time by hours.

-Derek Trucks emitted a wonderful chemistry with his wife, Susan Tedeschi. He played excellent covers of "Hey Jude" and "Take a Load Off Annie."

-O.A.R. introduced two new never before played songs: "This Town" and "Mine."

Below I will post pictures of the event. Let me know what you think.

Janeane Garofolo

Umphrey's McGee

Stephen Marley

Les Claypool

The Raconteurs

Chris Rock

meeting Mason Jennings

Donovan Frankenreiter

BB King

Jack Johnson

Pearl Jam


Robert Plant

Derek Trucks

So what do you think? For those of you who went to Bonnaroo, what comments do you have? What acts were awesome/horrible? Highlights? Downfalls?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Departure to Bonnaroo!

It's official: we are leaving for Bonnaroo in the morning. So, stay tuned. Many more blogs to follow after my return, all about the music and journey down south to Tennessee!

We are first heading down to Maryland to see R.E.M. and Modest Mouse in concert, then from there, we are driving straight to Bonnaroo, a four-day music festival in Manchester, TN. Popular bands that I CANNOT wait to see are the following: Pearl Jam, Jack Johnson, Mason Jennings, Newton Faulkner, Umphreys McGee, Donovan Frankenreiter, Iron and Wine, Jakob Dylan, Les Claypool, O.A.R., The Raconteurs (AKA Jack White!), Robert Plant, Stephen Marley, and Widespread Panic. I also can't wait to hear comedy from Chris Rock, Janeane Garofolo, and Louis CK. AH! So excited.

Check out the full line-up below.

Check out more information on the festival here at their website.

Stay tuned for reactions, concert reviews, and probably some sick photos. If anyone is going to Bonnaroo, let me know what you think of it!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Baby Mama

Tina Fey's new movie, Baby Mama, impressed me again as she always does. Being the huge SNL fan that I am, I go out to see most, if not all, movies put out by ex-SNL stars, excluding an obvious few (Eddie Murphy, Steve Martin, Rob Schneider, Kevin Nealon, David Spade, etc). But, certain stars are a must-see, and Tina Fey is one of them.

I praised her before when she hosted SNL, but she truly has a comedic writing gift. Even though she did not write this movie, as she did others like Mean Girls, she still was able to insert her own humor into it. You know when she picks a movie, it's going to be a good one.

Tina and Amy Poehler work so well together, as they did on Weekend Update. There is this chemistry that clicks on camera--and they surely capture it in this movie. Even though it may have looked cheesy as a trailer, this movie had many moments where you just laughed until your sides hurt. I think most of those scenes were improv-based, or they were given some rough outline and they just used their comedic creative juices. Whatever the formula was, the film was excellent. Steve Martin's bit in it was absolutely hilarious too.

Tina always plays the same character--that might be my only criticism. She's always that aging-but-still-young single woman who is successful (has a nice job that pays very well) and has quirky characteristics that make her nerdy. Amy switches it up; she has the ability to do amazing impersonations and mold to multiple characters. She is very talented. But in this role, Amy really plays the trashy woman role extremely well. It's so funny because she has it down SO well--kudos to her performance. Hopefully soon, Tina can move from the role she is tied to to something else that she can do and excel at as well.

Who can doubt Tina Fey's judgments in her projects when she backs an excellent comedy show on NBC, 30 Rock? I was worried that show might be taken off the air because it was just too good: can something this good actually remain on theh air? A lot of shows, which aren't very good, stay on because they are trashy like that. At least 30 Rock is given the attention it deserves and is still on and thriving. If you haven't seen that show, you need to check it out. It has smart one-liners that will make you gawk, laugh, or just drop your jaw. Very witty and hilarious.

So, that is my two cents on Tina Fey. Go see Baby Mama if you haven't--it's a great flick.

What did you think of Baby Mama? What do you think of Tina Fey?