Category Archives: Music

Famous Musicians I’ve Met

This came up a while back in a Reddit thread. It was fun to think through people I’ve met so I thought I’d share it here.

Eamon McLoughlin (fiddle player for The Greencards): I met him at a party. He had just moved to Austin to start something here. We talked for about 20 minutes, he was friendly & interesting. I approached him after a show about 5 years later, of course he didn’t remember me but he was still nice.

Sufjan Stevens: One year a friend of a friend called and asked if a songwriter could stay at our place during SXSW. We said sure. He was awesome. We chatted over coffee one morning, really nice guy. 2 years later I realized that I love his music. Sigh…

Shawn Colvin: I got to go to a private concert. Apart from her performance she was pretty quiet, but she struck me as genuine.

Southern Culture on the Skids (all of them). I approached them after a show. They were amazing. Super fun.

Johnny Goudie: I sat next to him in a coffee shop late one night. We talked for maybe an hour. He encouraged me to quit my job and become a professional musician.

Alex Griffin (bassist for Ned’s Atomic Dustbin): Approached him after a show. We talked about basses & touring. He was awesome.

Emilio Navaira: A long time ago I worked at the Majestic Theater in San Antonio. I worked back stage during the tejano music awards. He & I didn’t really hit it off.

These are all fun memories.

ACL 08 Day 3

The Wristband

Image by lenwood via Flickr

So, I gotta start by saying that this year’s ACL festival has taken it up to a new level. It was our fifth year in a row to attend (fourth year together), and Liz and I both had a blast. If you live in Austin and you like music, then you need to be here.

Once again the day started later than planned, partly because I had stuff to do, and partly because we wanted to pace ourselves to be there for the entire Foo Fighters show. By Saturday night the dust was getting to me, and I knew that being there all day Sunday would drive me nuts. We intended for the afternoon to start with the Stars, but we bumped it back to Silversun Pickups. We heard Stars as we were walking in and they sounded good, I was bummed that we missed them.
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ACL 08 Day 2

Day two of the Austin City Limits music festival. Today was a very good day. We didn’t get there as early as expected because I had schoolwork to do. The first show that we planned to see was the Fratellis at 1:30, and it actually worked out because we heard two songs while we were walking in, and several of our friends told us that those were the best two songs of the show. The first full show that we saw was Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, and wow. Just wow. The band is tight, and just fun to watch. And Sharon Jones is a great performer. She really knows how to get the crowd into it. We connected with Simoneau for a few minutes, too, which was cool.
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ACL 08 Day 1

ACL Music Fest sign

Image by mjecker via Flickr

The Austin City Limits music festival is underway. Liz and didn’t get there until about 5pm on day one, we both had work to do. Fortunately we didn’t miss any bands that we were dying to see, so it worked out. We started with Patty Griffin, Liz was excited about seeing her. I don’t know any of her music, but just as you’d expect she put on a great show.

The next show on our list was Mates of State. After years of attending these festivals we’ve learned that the good t-shirts go early, so we stopped by that tent on our way over to the Austin Ventures stage to grap our favorites. Mates of State were great. I had never heard their music before, but we really enjoyed them. I couldn’t distinguish the words they were singing, but the music was pop. They had two cellists and a violin on stage with them, which I thought was cool.

David Byrne was next. Man, that dude is awesome. He had a full band plus several dancers and backup singers, and they all wore white. He played several originals, and at least two Talking Heads songs as well, Once in a Lifetime and Life During Wartime. They sounded awesome, and the crowd really got into the show, too. After a while all the dancers in white were a little much, but the show was still a LOT of fun.

After David Byrne we walked over to get some food and catch a bit of Alejandro Escovedo and The Swell Season. Escovedo was great, but I’ve seen him a few times before so we didn’t stay long before walking over to Swell Season. I wasn’t really impressed with them, but to be fair the acoustics were poor where we were sitting and we couldn’t really hear them.

At this point the dust started to get to me, and I only had 3 hours of sleep the night before, so we left right after that. At this point it was 8:30, we stopped at the chair check so that Liz could leave her chair over night, but they were closed! They close the chair check before the shows end? WTF?? By the time I got home I was coughing and sneezing pretty regularly, which means that the dust in Zilker Park is pretty bad this year. The weather was perfect. Temps in the 80’s and lots of big puffy clouds floating by. But, its dry, and when thousands of people walk through Zilker they kick up the dust. I’ll be taking a bandana with me today.

Just in case anyone reads this within the ACL management reads this, please please please water Zilker. Breathing dust is aweful. And to the bands, we don’t give a rip about your comments on Obama, McCain, or the bailout. We want to see great music. Focus your attention there and we will love you for it.

The Green Letters

One of my coworkers, Mark Simoneau, was in a band called the Green Letters for a few years, but they broke up a year and a half ago. Liz and I also know the lead singer (Tom Bubb) and his family. Tom’s sister Sarah was Liz’ room mate for a few years. And over the years I’ve been in bible studies with both Tom and his brother Chris. Anyway, The Green Letters did a reunion show last night at Waterloo Ice House, so Liz and I decided to go.

It was a lot of fun. They had a good mix of recognizable covers and originals, and the audience was mostly friends and family so they were pretty open with the crowd. And, because there is no other show coming they weren’t schlepping an email list or CD or next show or anything. They just played.

Their originals were fun. I don’t know the names of any of the songs, but most of them were musically interesting with fun lyrics. I was impressed by Mark’s drumming, and as a guitarist I paid close attention to what the guitar player was doing. He had some nice riffs and tones going.

They covered the Foo Fighters, Radiohead, The Cure, Barenaked Ladies, Andrew Osanga, U2, and I’m sure some others that I’m missing. My favorite cover, by far, was ‘Here’s Where The Story Ends’ by The Sundays. They played it spot on, and yet somehow it was different and cool. I thought they also did a good job with ‘If I Had A Million Dollars’ by Barenaked Ladies, but The Sundays cover was better.

I have to give props to Tom, too. I recall him being nervous during previous performances, but he was fine last night. Maybe it was that he was playing in front of friends and family, or maybe it was because it was a last show, but he was great. He made the audience laugh a number of times, and did a good job of responding to the audience. He didn’t seem nervous at all.

Mr & Mrs Bubb (the parents of Chris, Tom and Sarah) were also there, which was a treat for Liz. When she and Sarah were roomies Mrs Bubb visited enough that she and Liz became friends, so Liz appreciated getting to visit with her. While they were chatting I caught up with Chris Bubb for a few minutes.

After the show we walked over to the best music store in Texas and shopped for some new tunage. I picked Ra Ra Riot (I really like them so far), and Liz picked Beck’s latest, Modern Guilt. All in all, it was a very fun night.

Bring Radiohead to the 2008 ACL Festival

There was talk a couple of years ago about Radiohead being the ACL festival headliner. With a new release a tour has to be soon to follow. Its time to revive this conversation. To the ACL festival planners, please get Radiohead to headline the 2008 ACL festival! If you agree with me, post a comment and spread this link. Lets do this!
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In Rainbows

This afternoon I downloaded Radiohead’s new release In Rainbows. Its only available for download through their website. You get to pay whatever you want for it. And oh my freaking gosh is it awesome. Its exactly the blissfully melodramatic rock that you’ve been craving. You know how you loved The Bends and went crazy wanting more? And then OK Computer came out and the cycle repeated? Its like that. I’m not even kidding. How could I lie about Radiohead?

Festival

You already know that we went to an Austin City Limits taping a week ago. The ACL festival happened to start the very next day so we had four nights in a row of great live music. The 2007 ACL festival wasn’t as great as other years that I remember, but it was still pretty darned good.

First, the weather was hands down better than any other year that I’ve been. The days were in the high 80’s to low 90’s with several large clouds looming. No threat of rain, just mild (for us) temperatures with occasional shade. Each night it dropped into the 70’s. Incredible. That’s quite a bit different than the 2005 festival when we hit 108 degrees. The result was that you didn’t exhaust yourself going from stage to stage to see your favorite bands. It was absolutely perfect. Several performers commented on how hot it was, and I would think to myself, “what are you talking about? This is PERFECT!”
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Austin City Limits

Today was an amazing day. I have lived in Austin since 1996, which is long enough to proclaim that I’m an Austinite. I have heard for years that its possible to get into a taping of Austin City Limits, I’ve even looked up the steps on the web, but it has never worked out. Until tonight.

One of the girls in my community group works for KLRU and one of the perks of her job is that she periodically gets tickets to Austin City Limits tapings. She sent an email out yesterday, but I was too slow on the draw. One of the other people in my study was faster than me in replying. This afternoon at the last moment she couldn’t make it, so the tickets were up for grabs again. I called my girlfriend right away to make sure that she was available.

Honestly I wouldn’t have cared who was playing, I’ve wanted to get into Austin City Limits for years so I would have gone no matter what. Crowded House was the band. I’ve been a Crowded House fan since I was in high school, “Hey Now” was one of my favorite songs. At one point I had all of their cassettes (I probably still do). When they broke up in the 90’s, I kept up with the Finn Brothers. The point is that it wasn’t just any band, it was someone that I actually enjoy.

The performance was fantastic. They played for about an hour and a half, which was enough time to play through old and new hits. And, they put on a great show. They had to stop about an hour in so that the production crew could change one of the tapes that they were recording on. I thought that was pretty cool, they still record on tape. Cameras were flying throughout the room (I guess its actually called a studio), but we were so focused on the performance that they weren’t really in the way.

The evening was the perfect introduction to the ACL Festival, which kicks off tomorrow. I was super bummed that the White Stripes have backed out. But no matter, its going to be a great weekend.

The Green Cards

Last Saturday night we went to Threadgill’s to see The Green Cards. The show was outside on their front lawn, and it was fantastic. I had heard a couple of their songs on KGSR, but had never listened to a CD or seen them live. I really enjoyed it. As soon as they came on stage and began to play, I realized that I’ve met Eamon, the fiddler.

Back around 1999 or 2000, a friend of mine named Bryan invited most of my group of friends over for a big birthday bash. Bryan is kind of an eclectic artist type, so his party was populated with several other interesting eclectic artist types as well. He had invited some of them to bring their instruments to play bluegrass music in his living room during the party.

While there I met a fiddle player that had come to Austin from Britain (I think) because all his life he wanted to play bluegrass music. At the time he was playing with Ray Wylie Hubbard. I remember him because I remember thinking what a cool person he was to meet randomly at a friend’s birthday party.

Their show on Saturday was fantastic. They interacted with the audience quite a bit, which was fun. At one point Carol (bassist and lead singer) commented that the crowd was so quiet. I didn’t respond, but I remember thinking “there’s so much going on in your music, I want to hear it all.” There were a couple of witty comments throughout the show as well. The played for just under two hours.

During the encore, Rich Brotherton (plays guitar with Robert Earl Keen) came out for one song. He was also fantastic, he kept up with everyone’s speed and variety, smiling the whole time. One year at ACL Robert Earl Keen was playing, and B-Dub told me to pay attention to the guitar player. Next time I see Robert Earl, my eyes and ears will be on him. That dude can play!

After the show the band was milling about in the crowd, so I went up to Eamon to say hello. I congratulated him on a great performance, and he said “you were sitting over here (pointing to the area I was sitting), weren’t you?” Yep, he got it right, he remembered where I was sitting during the show. We had a light, fun conversation for about another minute before another fan wanted to visit, too, so I walked on.

The whole thing was a blast. We even ran into B-Dub’s parents before the show started. We didnt’ get to visit for very long, but they got to meet my girlfriend, which was cool. It was a great kick-off to my spring break.