Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Fearing the future (or seeing into it)

I've been having weird ESP lately. I'm just calling stuff a couple minutes or days before they happen. Hopefully, it's not adding up to something TERRIBLE! For instance, when I was in Texas last weekend, I predicted a few things: my sister's arrival (by less than a minute) and a story about the National Enquirer. But not long after I published my last post about the "fake mavericks" John McCain and Sarah Palin, this video came out (just one hour later, if you go by the time stamps)! Turns out, I'm not the only one offended by the right stealing the word maverick for their political agenda. Real "original mavericks," like Tom LaGarde, a center on the original Mavericks expansion team, are angry, too. Even if he never really gets too angry (or angry at all) about it. He's more jokey, or passive aggressive.

Anyhow, back to the band (and not politics and basketball), remind me later: I need to update you on our private show last week for our good friend Kevin shipping off to Iraq. It was a good time with a faux guitar solo by the big guy himself! But now I do not have the time. Either way, I just found the set list...
SET LIST: Lights On / Madeline / Carolyn, Don't Leave Like This / Debts / On the Lam / There's a Reason / Don't Get Me Wrong / LONG BREAK FOR PHOTO OPS, NOT OUR DECISION / Shotgun Wedding / I Come From the Water / Shine A Light (feat. KO)

Tomorrow, we head for Dewey Beach, DE, a place that always ensures a good time. Except that the last time we were there, I got shingles. But let's not think about that now. We don't want my ESP kicking in.

OK, one more time...

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

False mavericks

There's an episode of Seinfeld where Jerry thinks his dentist has converted to Judaism just for the jokes. In his outrage, he goes to see a priest. He says to the priest, "I wanted to talk to you about Dr. Whatley. I have a suspicion that he's converted to Judaism just for the jokes." To which the father says, "And this offends you as a Jewish person." Jerry: "No, it offends me as a comedian."

I've sort of been feeling the same way lately. With the so-called but not really "maverick" pairing of McCain-Palin, I'm starting to get offended by how flippantly that word is used to describe them. Maverick. And it offends me not only as a liberal, but as a Dallas Mavericks fan. Go find some other word to sully, Republicans!

Anyhow, I've been worried lately. I'm sure everyone feels it at some point or another, but this election feels beyond critical to me. This is a crucial time in American history and we can't afford to make the wrong choice. One more misstep and it could be curtains for our status as an "elite" nation. Maybe we're already past the point of no return, but I somehow doubt that.

I once fell for the McCain "maverick" tag, and I think, at that time, he was a maverick. He questioned Bush and worked across the aisle. But now he is too wrapped up in Karl Rove's political baggage, and to the point, I believe in this case, of no return. It's a shame, but take heart: Obama is the better candidate.

He fills the needs of the nation right now. A nation that is down on its luck in the worst way, and wondering if things can get better one more time. He preaches hope, which is what we truly need, and is widely mocked for it. I hate to be one of those people who ignores issues and experience and instead votes based on character (which is somehow, rather ironically, how we got in this sticky situation), but I truly believe that the most important trait a candidate needs in this election is the ability to repair our fractured image abroad. To me, Obama is the unequalled man for the job. His eloquence, ability to cross not only party lines but cultural and social divides, draw crowds and then satisfy them (look at Germany!) is invaluable in the current shamble-state of America's image abroad.

Obama's folks like to point out that McCain voted with Bush 90 percent of the time. It's in almost every formal statement they release. "The American people can't take a 10 percent chance on change." Likewise, the McCain folks like to point out Obama's relative inexperience and, lately, his declining poll numbers. These, too, are in nearly every formal release.

These poll numbers are what worry me. Folks say that America is split right down the middle because of the recent close elections. It's deeper than that. Even those on both sides of the spectrum can hardly unify behind a candidate in their own parties lately. Hillary took the fight to the end, as she should have. Howard Dean was a better fit for what we needed in 2004, but the weaker candidate, John Kerry, emerged from the back of the pack (luckily, Dean is in a position of considerable power now, so at least we retained his services somehow). Al Gore was the winner in 2000, and by far the superior candidate in experience, composure, and diplomacy. It took people a movie to figure that out. It took America two terms of Bush and a crashing economy to figure out that they had made a mistake. Even Republicans admit it was a mistake -- McCain has willing tried to distance himself from Bush (good luck). Either way, I'm worried because we can't afford to make a mistake again.

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Friday, September 12, 2008

Back to back

Two days in the Big City. That is to say, two days in the Big City during a very somber time. Last night, on our way to dinner, we were walking straight toward the beams of light commemorating the Twin Towers' fall seven years ago. It's a bit humbling, to say the least. It is also makes for a strange time to be in NYC.

Two straight days is a bit much for a band who still can't carry a night in New York. We didn't actually set this up -- we had a short-lived booking agent who set up a mid-week jaunt, for some reason -- and it showed. Our first show, at the Parkside Lounge in the Lower East Side, was a bit of a bust. Not only did the aforementioned agent not confirm the show, but she told us the wrong time. We got there at 8, when the club thought we were playing. Luckily for us, the staff was about as nice as can be and for some reason let us go on last, at 11. This meant a few more people trickled in that we knew, but still it was a strange and quiet kind of night. We didn't make a setlist, and that little deed of unprofessionalism really compounded into a couple other problems. We stopped and started on a song (my fault, wrong capo) and we meandered through talking points. All in all, it didn't feel like a whole lot of progress at that show. We did get a couple new fans, though, I think, which is always a huge plus in a tough market. And NYC may be the toughest market. We also saw a mischievous child lick a trashcan on the street before the show after his mother told him not to. That may have been the highlight of the day.

SET LIST (to the best of my recollection): Carolyn, Don't Leave Like This / Madeline / The Devil's Arms / There's A Reason (debut) / Ordinary Girls / On the Lam / Lights On / Someday Darling / Shotgun Wedding / Shine A Light

The next night, after a good sleep at L Ro's, we played a really great club that was really, really small: Pete's Candy Store in Brooklyn. That's a good thing when you're not playing to a whole bunch of people. I actually thought we'd pack the place since most people deferred to Thursday as the night they'd see us, but we only did OK. Either way, I had a lot of fun the second night. After aborting plans for an Italian dinner, I didn't eat a whole lot, and I was running on empty from walking around all day (speaking of, there's a really evil petshop downtown where they put really adorable, sleeping puppies in the window. I know I've already got one, but it made me want to go in there and grab another -- like when a woman with a bunch of kids plays with a baby and then says to the husband, "Let's have another one." For shame, you temptress pet store). I tried to eat a ciabatta turkey sandwich, but Joe Bug (the only one to attend both shows!) snatched some of it up and then complained that he was hungry. We played OK, again, but not great. Both shows were sort of unsteady, it seemed, possibly because we couldn't "rock" that hard at either one -- due to the size of the room/stage. Scott got kind of sick onstage and we rushed through the end of the set, though Matt did pull off a cool move of following my hand on the level of the drums, bringing it down LOW. There's a highlight.
SET LIST: Lights On / Madeline / Carolyn, Don't Leave Like This / Golden Fleece / Cedar / The Nadir / On the Lam / Debts / Don't Get Me Wrong / Someday Darling / Shotgun Wedding / Shine A Light

Anyhow, after the show, we just hung around with our buds, caught up a bit, and then headed back to Boston. I was disappointed that we did not accomplish our goal of watching both Ace Venturas (and the animated series) back to back, but that's how it went. Ah well.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Hospitality on the road

I'm a wee bit late updating you all on last weekend's hurricane of music, but I'll try to do so here -- quickly.

On Friday, we headed up north to Portland, Maine (our first show in the city, oddly enough) where we played One Longfellow Square. This was our first gig played set up by our now-gone booking agent, and the venue was a strange fit. They wanted us to play quiet (ugh), and it had a strange high school gym/old folks home vibe. Then again, it was a great listening room, in a theatre-type way, and I'd play there again for sure. Not sure if the other guys would, though. Either way, we had a strong showing of the Maine contingent -- Melanie spearheaded efforts for both the show and a crazy afterparty -- and we played pretty well. The show was recorded, so I've got documented evidence of just how much we talked between songs. It was like a show in and of itself. Either way, the crowd was awesome, though they seemed to lose interest in the slow stuff before we had a chance to do our revamped "Six Hours" or "The Devil's Arms." They wanted rock, like Gin Blossoms covers, for some reason, and we begrudgingly gave in to the applause. The sound guy later said he lost his voice trying to have a conversation over the racket, but he was a cool dude, and came to the after party.

Before the show, I was accosted by a homeless man who dubbed me the "most clever boy I've ever met" and later gave me the nickname "Shady Brain" and called Mike "Slim Slimmy" (notice how he tactfully split Slim Shady into two nicknames). We gave him an autograph by request (yes, I signed it Shady Brain) and hung with him a bit after the show. Cool guy. Goes by Bubblelicious. Got to love the Portland folk. After the show, we went to Melanie's for an all-night party, where plenty of mischief happened, though we won't get into that now. Suffice it to say, Scott and Casey were threatened with a bullet in the head for climbing on a cherrypicker.

SET LIST (I think): The Nadir / St. Anthony / Trouble From the Start / Carolyn, Don't Leave Like This / Like Secrets Beneath / Someday Darling (debut) / Don't Get Me Wrong / I Come From the Water / Shotgun Wedding / Shine a Light

Here was a little pre-show blurb in the local Portland Press Herald.

Boston-based rock band Cassavettes (pronounced kass-uh-vets) was named the Best Local Band in the Boston Phoenix Readers Poll in 2006 and that same year received a Boston Music Award nomination for Outstanding Americana Act. Go to the Go section of for audio. The foursome will be joined by cabaret groove-jazz band Beaux de l 'Air. Call 761-1757 or go to for tickets.

The next night, we headed back to New London, Ct., where we played on our tour last year. We had a great time then and as Scott said, this was one of the few times that a repeat visit to a place we originally had an awesome time lived up to the previous visit. The staff there is hands down the nicest staff we've ever dealt with. It feels like hanging out at a friend's house more so than a venue. Anyhow, Sean, our good buddy now, warned us of a demonic, rabid seagull that was killing pigeons and disemboweling them. Sure enough, we saw several pigeons with their insides ripped out. I later tripped on one and accidentally touched it. Sean, upon hearing this, almost tossed his cookies. Either way, as you may recall, New London is a seaside town with plenty of Navy and Coast Guard folks. Thus, they like to party. Hard. And flip off stages (this happened twice this time -- once correctly, and once slightly aborted). The same folks that saw us by chance last year, and traveled up to Boston to see us again, were out in full force this go-round. When we finally got onstage, there was a lot of energy in the room and we played a full-blown rock set. It felt good. I seem to be the only one to think that it veered into sloppy domain at times, but that's my opinion. The crowd, and bar, kept bringing us shots until we had to plead with them to stop. It was a weird, wild night.

SET LIST: Coming soon

In a few moments, we head for NYC for a two-night stand. Tonight, at the Parkside Lounge in Manhattan and tomorrow at Pete's Candy Store in Brooklyn. Wish us luck.

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

A quick one while he's away

Short and sweet. That's the way to describe that Beachcomber show. Well, and this entire holiday weekend, filled with BBQs and travel. But we're talking music today, and music is what happened on Saturday. Albeit briefly.

The show was running overtime, and somehow a band before us did an encore, so the sound guy asked us to cut our set in half. The room was packed, but with five bands to pay, Ward said money was tight. Either way, these things don't matter until later -- when you're having fun playing music, what does money matter? And fun we did have, even if Matt was a bit perturbed at first (though he lightened up and put some shades on later). We got to play a fast and fun set, and got the crowd up on the Beachcomber's raised dancefloor. People were feeling the grooves of the beach, and probably feeling the summer slipping away. So what a sendoff!

SET LIST: Don't Get Me Wrong / Carolyn, Don't Leave Like This / Madeline / Lights On / On the Lam / Shotgun Wedding / Shine A Light

Just found out our DC show might be canceled because the club reportedly went under. Hmm. Either way, this weekend we're in for some serious travel with dates in Portland and New London, Ct. Should be awesome -- but remind me to change my oil first (we've got 11,000 miles since an oil change... in just five months!).

Then a Ryan Adams show on Sunday. I've got tickets if anyone wants in, I think we may have extra.

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