24 September 2005

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Death May Be Your Santa Claus's European Odyssey 2005 begins today, bitches, so blog updating will grind to a halt for a week. Have fun while I'm away.

20 September 2005

Trans Europe Express

We're going to Europe next week. "Psyched" doesn't begin to describe the way I feel right now. This is something I've wanted to do for over a decade.

First stop, Amsterdam, Then Wesel, Germany. Then, Munich for a taste of the original Oktoberfest.

While in Wesel, I plan to take the train to Dusseldorf, home of Kraftwerk. I may also venture to Cologne.

14 September 2005

I'm Finding It Harder to Be a Gentleman

Though they are but a two-piece band, the White Stripes were neither visually nor aurally encumbered last night by the relative largeness of the Palace Theater’s stage. The Stripes’ mighty roar filled the venue, yet the band was able to tone it down for quieter songs, too. Interesting cover tunes peppered the set, but the bulk of the material came from their last three albums.

The stage set was impressive. It featured a huge painted backdrop (in the band’s red/white/black color scheme, naturally), artificial palm trees (spray painted white) and, in a peculiar touch, little mannequins were positioned on the guitar amps.

Meg White was wearing a white t-shirt and leather pants. Jack White was wearing what appeared to be a Confederate soldier’s overcoat and hat (in black), but he quickly lost the coat. And it has to be noted that the roadies were all wearing suits and ties – a nice touch, although I imagine the dress code might be somewhat impractical for a rock band’s touring road crew.

Jack White’s voice was a little ragged, but then, he sounds a little raw on the CDs, so that was hardly a detriment to the group’s punk/blues garage band appeal. He switched around among several instruments during the course of the performance, including electric and acoustic guitar, mandolin, piano, organ and marimba. And while Meg White’s drum chops aren’t exactly up to Neil Peart standards, she’s the best drummer for the White Stripes.

I was bummed that they didn’t do “Black Math” or “Ugly As I Seem,” but all in all, the White Stripes delivered a great show.


I really hate it when a band gains mainstream commercial appeal and fans who were there “in the beginning” bitch about the latecomers spoiling their little indier-than-thou party, but it has to be said that the bulk of the crowd was made up of people who came to hear “Hotel Yorba,” “Fell in Love with a Girl” (which they didn’t play), “Seven Nation Army” and “Blue Orchid,” period. For instance, when Jack White moseyed over to the piano and started playing Loretta Lynn’s “Whispering Pines,” some of the new “fans” grew restless and started in with the catcalls. So he played about a minute of it and then abruptly stopped.

I have no idea if he only ever plays a minute of it or if he got pissed off, and furthermore, I certainly didn’t go see the White Stripes so I could hear Loretta Lynn tunes, but considering that the band has five albums, the radio hits are going to be outnumbered by the album cuts and whatnot. Those in the know consider it an added bonus when a band performs something unexpected in a live setting. And even though the audience pays for their tickets and, in that regard, the band is working for the ticket buyers, well, whatever happened to common courtesy?

A quick check of various White Stripes message boards showed that the sets performed in Columbus and Cincinnati were noticeably longer than the one we got in Louisville. It could have been that Jack White was in an exceedingly good mood in Ohio, but since I always assume the worst, my guess is that he got annoyed with the buffoons at the Palace that night and figured they didn’t deserve an extended set because of the lack of decorum.

Set list:
Let's Shake Hands
When I Hear My Name
Blue Orchid
Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground
Forever for Her (Is Over for Me)
Little Bird
You Can't Get That Stuff No More
Death Letter
Cannon > Little Room > Cannon
Hotel Yorba
My Doorbell
Denial Twist
Whispering Sea
Truth Doesn't Make a Noise
The Hardest Button to Button
- - - - -
Ball and Biscuit
I Just Don't Know What to Do With Myself
The Nurse
Little Ghost
Seven Nation Army

13 September 2005

A Splinter in the Eye is the Best Magnifying Glass

I love John Powers's writing. Clear, concise and most importantly, funny, he's the best political writer in America. His essay on Hurricane Katrina and Dubya's "handling" of it just about says it all:

"With any luck, this shameful performance in New Orleans (and along the coast) will finally vanquish the enduring cliché that, unlike the supposedly dreamy left, the right is competent— you know, filled with can-do Steve McQueens and Chuck Yeagers who know how to get things done. In fact, what’s startling about the Bush administration is its mind-numbing incompetence at everything but winning elections and pushing through legislation that further enriches the rich. Even those who fervently backed the invasion of Iraq say they’re staggered at how ineptly the administration has managed the peace. Two and a half years after the invasion, the Iraqi capital still only gets four hours of electricity a day, and the airport road still hasn’t been secured. Evidently Baghdad was a dry run for the watery snafus in New Orleans."

Read the whole thing here.

11 September 2005

Bicycle, Bicycle

We rode in the Old Kentucky Home Tour on Sunday. There are several rides one can, er, ride in this event, including a 100-miler, a 50-mile version and a 25-mile version. Since the century is a two-day affair, I wanted to do the 50-mile ride and had spent the last three weeks.

Unfortunately, when we arrived at E.P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park to begin the ride, my wife told me, “I don’t think I can do the 50-mile one.” So we did the 25-mile.

I’m hardly Lance Armstrong, but 25 miles isn’t too terribly difficult. I was kind of disappointed that my wife punked out on me like that, but in an uncharacteristic move, I didn’t bitch at her when she pulled this stunt. And I was vindicated when we finished up and she said, “Hunh, that wasn’t very challenging.”

Next year, we’re doing the 100-mile ride.

07 September 2005


This summer, I was asked to play bass in a trio (two guitars + me) performing at Toto & Sarah's nuptials in October. In preparation for this event -- or as we pro musicians say, "gig" -- I was supposed to learn how to play the Beatles's "In My Life," "And I Love Her" and "Let It Be;" John Lennon's "Imagine," the Beach Boys's "God Only Knows" and "Wouldn't It Be Nice," plus a Postal Service song, "Memories" from Cats (!!), some song from St. Elmo's Fire (!!!) and a couple of hymns. Sadly, no selections from the Motorhead oeuvre were chosen -- c'mon, nothing says "wedded bliss" like a cover of "Love Me Like a Reptile."

Regardless, I had to get to woodshedding, pronto. Things were progressing nicely until one of Toto's groomsmen got all squirrely and moved to Portland, Oregon and removed himself from the equation, so Toto called me and asked me to join the wedding party. I was all flattered and honored and whatnot, and now I don't even have to worry about what I'm going to wear, but this means that my little concerto is not to be, and as I'd just about mastered all the Beatles and Beach Boys material and was preparing to work on "Memories," I must admit that I was more than a smidgen disappointed -- I was really looking forward to putting on a show.

What really sucks, however, is that I'm a much better musician now than when I was actually playing in bands back in my callow youth. Why, I'm depriving the world of my gifts! Hiding my light 'neath a bushel! I should form a band of my own.

01 September 2005

Biblical Proportions

New Orleans today is a little slice of the Third World in America's back yard. The images coming out of the Big Easy are harrowing, to say the least. The one thing that keeps popping into my head: the smell down there must be utterly revolting.