Monday, August 24, 2009

Bustin'

Last update for awhile, since I'm heading way, way west for a bit. San Fran bound. Napa Valley. Vino.

Busy band weekend, with two shows just 16 hours or so apart. The first was at Joco's in Waltham, which may set a new record for smallest venue we've ever played. We cramped in the corner near the jukebox, drank Narragansett, and played two even-tempered sets. Some friends even made the drive out, to watch us play and to watch the Sox (or watch the Joco's patrons watch the Sox) get absolutely whomped. No big.
SET 1: There's a Reason / The Nadir / Debts / The Devil's Arms / Madeline / Carolyn, Don't Leave Like This / Research Blvd. / Like Secrets Beneath / Golden Fleece / St. Anthony / On Our Own / On the Lam / Seek Cover / Valley of Gold
SET 2: A Hard Rain / Ordinary Girls / Lights On / Don't Get Me Wrong / Trouble From the Start / Alex Chilton / Cinnamon Girl / Walk On / Cedar / Shotgun Wedding / I Come From the Water / Shine a Light

The next day we had an afternoon show at City Hall Plaza, as part of the expansive GreenFest. After a lot of initial confusion, we got loaded in, were served some Narragansetts (see a theme emerging here?), and then played a weird show in which all I or anyone else could apparently hear was drums. On the plus side, I had the foresight to bring a backup guitar on the hunch that my strings were on the verge of breaking, so there was minimal confusion during the guitar swap. Not that I heard the guitar anyway...

Two papers promoted it (with Cassavettes mentions, hence why they get mentioned back here!): The Herald and The Phoenix. Nice to get a mention among such elite company!

SET LIST: Ordinary Girls / Lights On / Madeline / Golden Fleece / Seek Cover / Cedar / Shotgun Wedding / I Come From the Water / Shine a Light

We hauled out after the set to get Matt to another gig, and Mike home for a moving truck. It was a day of chaffeuring for me. Either way, a good dinner made up for any negative feelings toward the show, and Ghostbusters topped the night. I can't remember even seeing that movie, even if I loved it as a kid. It was like almost a totally new experience. TD fell asleep and asked me if the Marshmellow Man was had returned to the water. After the grogginess subsided, it was clear she was confusing MM with the Statue of Liberty in Ghostbusters II. Final Ghostbusters note: the lyrics to the theme song? Really odd... a few choice lines: "I ain't afraid of no ghosts / I hear it likes the girls" -- what does he think ghosts DO exactly? Also, "If you've had a dose of a freaky ghost baby" and, my new favorite proclamation, "Lemme tell ya something: Bustin' makes me feel good!"

Finally, perhaps the crowning achievement of Run DMC's career is in the OTHER Ghostbusters theme song, with rapid-fire call-and-response:
[Run] Howling haunting
[DMC] Scaring screaming
[Run] Ghostly ghosts
[DMC] Ghouling demons!
[Run] Monsters spooks
[DMC] Werewolves and devils
[Run] All those things
[DMC] on the same level
[Run] Nightmares (bad dreams) cannot be beat
It takes a brave man (to stand in defeat)
Must be the bravest (yo, the bravest and most)
You must be able to say, "I ain't afarid of no ghosts"
[DMC] A good sense of humor, is important to have
When a ghost tries to scare you (ha, don't make me laugh)
They be dustin off ghosts, like true ghost-dusters
[both] Go, go, go, go, ghoooooosstbusters!


We ought to cover it.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A voice that fits the title

It's been well-documented in this space that Andrew WK is the man. But why is he answering questions on fidelity and polygamy on Fox News?

I got a call this morning at 7 a.m. from a Washington, DC area code. I didn't answer. But knowing that my TV is broken, and Best Buy may be calling to confirm an appointment to fix it, I called back. A thick, gravelly voice greeted me: "Geek Squad." So, yes, Best Buy's Geek Squad was behind the early morning call. But the voice didn't match the words. How can you purport to be a member of the so-called Geek Squad when it sounds like you just took a phone break from a barfight?

In actual band matters, the CD was approved and actually sent to print today. Turns out, unfortunately, because of the way it was designed, we have to kick in some extra cash to get it to look the way we want on the CD face (using four colors instead of three). There was a slight hope of a work-around for this, but that would have taken a lot of TIME, which at this point, is more valuable to me than the relatively small amount of money we had to put up to get it right, the way we wanted it. I also explored the last second avenue of doing a digipak, but gosh darn, those are expensive! We'll be happy with this decision for good, I feel. Matt is in Maine for a few days, on a whim (I guess?), so practice is iffy this week. I'm feeling pretty good about the covers we did last week -- they sounded pretty good and I've been getting some nice feedback. But I'd like to work more covers into the rotation. Versatility is the name of the game.

Finally, TD just uploaded a slew of photos from the past few months to our computer, so a lot of undocumented band shows are, well, now documented. So I will try to go back in the archives this week and give it a touch-up.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Some similarities

Fun show at the Atwoods Saturday. I like that place. Apparently, we got a bit too loud, but I thought all in all, it was pretty controlled. Sure, when Matt does a drum roll buildup in "Shine a Light" it hurts my ears, too, but that's his style, I guess. Speaking of, Alex and I watched an SNL episode from last year with Coldplay on it (we also watched "Tim and Eric" together for the second time, and I have completely reverted to my view that the show is only funny occasionally -- but way too stupid-humor-based to enjoy consistently). That Coldplay drummer is akin to Matt in more than one way. He hits as hard as he possibly can. He's flamboyant whilst hitting. And they have similar cranium accessories.

Anyhow, yeah, so the show was pretty good. Decent crowd for a last-minute fill-in slot, and we were having a lot of fun up there. Much joking. After party was cool. All in all, good night. Makes me miss Toad -- but that's coming up so soon. But FIRST, we play Joco's in Waltham (a very similar set up to Atwoods, I hear) this Friday and then Boston's GreenFest at City Hall on Saturday. We play at 4:45 in the afternoon, so make a day of it. Bring your pic-a-nic basket.
SET LIST (from memory) 1: A Hard Rain / Research Blvd / Carolyn, Don't Leave Like This / Madeline / The Nadir / Debts / Golden Fleece / Someday Darling / There's a Reason / Six Hours / St. Anthony / On the Lam / Whitewashed / Empire Central / On Our Own / Trouble From the Start / Seek Cover / The Devil's Arms / Valley of Gold

SET 2: Ordinary Girls / Lights On / Alex Chilton / Marie / Cinnamon Girl / Cedar / I Come From the Water / Shotgun Wedding / Shine a Light

Onstage, I started talking about how strange of a moment Steven Tyler's now infamous fall came at. He's in the middle of like a strange little jig (yes, I realize that it's like his THING to do this dance, but it only compounds the awkwardness of the fall; and yes, I know it's likely bad karma to point out one's misfortune onstage, especially when we move around as much as we do). Anyhow, I had nearly forgotten about that conversation with the audience when I came upon this aptly-titled post on boston.com: "Dude looks like a (little old) lady."
I'm speechless.

Furthermore, on a final (uplifting) note, My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James apparently made a George Harrison tribute album. The newsworthiness to me comes in the fact that he released the album under the name Yim Yames. Does anyone recall the SNL skit with Steve Forbes as Teve Torbes? Just saying...

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Friday, August 14, 2009

More or less (or Les)

So, I sat in with the Three Day Threshold guys last night at Atwoods, thoroughly ruining their set with bad guitar solos and an uninvited rendition of Morphine's "French Fries with Pepper." During said song, I did one verse, one chorus, and promptly walked offstage (and then out of the club) Van Morrisson/giant asshole style to a surprisingly large amount of confused applause. Actually, we did two Morphine songs, a few Three Day tunes, and some others. Hilariously, their drummer told me, "We should hire you, man." Nice guy just being nice. Either way, we're playing the Atwoods on Saturday night if anyone wants to come out. Should be pretty wild.

It feels like time is flying by at an unheard of rate lately. AJ and Rachel are leaving soon -- how did that creep up so fast? The record is almost done, save for a few small design elements. We're halfway through August! The tour is filling in even more (just added Lexington, Ky., and The Oasis in New London, Ct., to our plans -- speaking of the Oasis, we're doing the I Am Festival in New London next month). It looks like the next 7-8 weeks are going to be constant activity, personally and professionally. There's a lot going on. Not too much, but close.

Finally, a sad note: I will say that the news that hits the hardest lately is Les Paul's passing. Nothing against Michael Jackson, but I would argue that this is a more significant musical passing. The guy basically invented multi-track recording! And his name is synonymous with perhaps the most famous (or at least second most recognizable to the Stratocaster) guitar ever! As the Globe obit notes, "'I’m so identified with the Les Paul electrics that sometimes a kid’ll come up and say, "Hey, you’re a real person, not a guitar."' Mr. Paul wrote in 1981." And too top it all off, he's a musician in his own right. An unbelievably wide-spanning career that, for my money, touched more musicians in more ways than pretty much anyone else ever has. Music is lucky to have had him.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A couple spare thoughts

Not to detract from today's more important, relevant post, but I just came across yet another peculiar YouTube video. This one is of a young man covering our old friend and producer Todd Thibaud. I think it is a new measurement of success when you have someone cover you on YouTube. Maybe it doesn't signal that you've made it...but then again, maybe it does? See where I went with that?

Anyhow, as long as I have the floor, I will post this story from The Boston Globe that I meant to post last week when it happened. It's our manager Creamer's big break -- his baby -- and it shows you just WHAT this dude does all the time. And it's a damn fine story to boot. He has been working on this Woody Guthrie archives project for quite some time now, and he deserves the recognition that comes with his work.
With all of the key players now deceased, Creamer came to manage the resuscitation of the Guthrie recordings in much the same way he manages the careers of rock musicians on his client roster. He helped Sutera create an inventory of the metal masters, and with her blessing began to put together an informal team to decipher the content, ownership, and value of the Stinson collection. Jonathan Horn, an attorney with extensive knowledge of the folk world, introduced him to Nora Guthrie, who runs the Woody Guthrie Foundation and Archives in New York, and Matt Barton, a Cambridge native who was retained to research the company’s history. (Barton is now curator of recorded sound at the Library of Congress.)

Hey, that's us (in a roundabout way)! We're rock musicians under his stewardship. Anyhow, Creamer's involvement in such a historic project makes me wonder if he's going to start hanging out with Dylan, Springsteen, and Tweedy. Maybe they'll all want to hang with the Dreamer now that he's got a stake in something they covet so. But I'm sure they've got managers to handle that for them.

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Old news is still good news

You thought we were done talking about the Provincetown Rocks Festival, eh? Well, we are. But Playground Boston isn't! And we are the beneficiaries of a very kind write-up about our final set at the music festival...
If you watch television, read music mags or go to concerts, there’s a fighting chance that you’ve seen or heard the Cassavettes somewhere down the line. Originally from Texas, the band was quickly appropriated as a full-fledged Boston band after forming in 2005. In ’06 alone, they were voted the Best Local Band in the Phoenix readers’ poll, their album It’s Gonna Change was picked as a CD of the Week in the Boston Globe, and they were nominated for Outstanding Americana Act of the Year in the Boston Music Awards. In January ’07, they performed on the Fox 25 morning news, and the long list of acts they’ve shared bills with includes Kings of Leon, Superdrag, Letters to Cleo, the Toadies, Dr. Dog and (not even kidding) the Allman Brothers Band.

With a balanced assortment of songs from their three albums (plus a brand new LP that the band plans to release later this year), the Cassavettes’ earnest but lighthearted set was a stark (and perhaps necessary) contrast to the emotional performance that followed with the New Frustrations. They ran the gamut from indie pop stompers to rockabilly shuffles that highlighted the bands’ southern roots, and the steady hands and feet of drummer Matt Snow allowed those changes of scenery to occur without the need for a cross country flight. Guitarists Mike McCullagh and Glenn Yoder traded lead vocal duties as they spun their twangy tales of TV static in empty houses and vain attempts at auto theft. The songs of the ‘Vettes have their share of angst and melancholy (after all, does not every cowboy sing a sad, sad song?), but the rowdy rhythms and backup hollers of Snow and bassist Scott Jones confined all blues to the fret boards.

Like I said, quite kind. They also go on to detail the set of our friends The Neighborhoods, which we regrettably missed. However, we have another chance to see them when we share the stage at Boston GreenFest at City Hall on August 22. But plenty will happen before that!

We have ALMOST reached the end of the line for this CD. The artwork is close to done (hey, why not, a peek at the cover? see below) and the rest is falling into place. The final master is being sent to the pressing plant. As of today, I settled up all outstanding tabs, which leaves us to only pay for the pressing of the album.

Will it be done in time for Toad Tuesdays in September? One can only hope. Will it be done for our fall tour? Yes, it will. And that tour, by the way, is coming together nicely with confirmed shows in Knoxville, Philly, DC, and NYC over the weekend. Hopefully today we'll nail down Nashville. Then we can rest a bit, because the rest of the dates on the tour will either come together organically (someone will finally notice my email and write me back), or we will have a few days off. I'm considering taking another band sabbatical in Virginia Beach. We'll be around the area, and it makes sense. I'm just trying to get a show nearby to justify it.

This Saturday, August 15, we're out at the Atwoods doing a somewhat impromptu night-long set at 10 p.m. So come out. After all, it's free!

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Saturday, August 08, 2009

Like a hurricane

So, I've been watching Neil Young videos for the past hour or so and I tripped across something quite peculiar. Adam Sandler doing a SERIOUS cover of Neil? And it's not too bad -- except I expect him to do that "dippy" voice at any time. He only gets close at the end when he starts yelling "blown away" -- sounds like "give me a damn snack pack!"

Also, has Radiohead covered every Neil Young song every released? It's actually a good fit voice-wise. Never realized before. Finally, check out Neil's duet with Paul McCartney on "A Day in the Life." Both look wild. And Paul appears not to know what to do with himself.

Anyhow, the band -- our band -- played a pretty fun show the other night out at the Lizard Lounge. Actually, it was really fun, just a wee bit disappointing in the amount of folks who showed up. But Sir Paul was in town, and Blink-182, and how do you compete with that?

All in all, I'm looking forward to hitting the road next month with those Tenderhooks. Seems to be a good time in store.
SET LIST: A Hard Rain / Ordinary Girls / Lights On / Research Blvd / Carolyn, Don't Leave Like This / Madeline / There's a Reason / Golden Fleece / On Lam / Whitewashed / Seek Cover / Cedar / I Come From the Water / Shotgun Wedding / Shine a Light

Beyond that show, things have been crazed, trying to get ready for the album's release and the tour. Real crazy.

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Monday, August 03, 2009

Lazy days of summer

They are making us lazy. Or crazy.

We need to practice real bad before our Lizard Lounge show on Thursday, and luckily, tonight's looking pretty good. Reason being: Not only were we a bit flimsy in P-town (not sure if that was us, the atmosphere, or a combination), but the Lizard Lounge requires the soft touch we brought to Toad, so we need to regain that. I have yet to play a show at the Lizard Lounge (Cassavettes or solo) where I feel it's been played properly to the room. So, I'd like to stretch out a bit, and play a comfortable, reasonable show. Reasonable rock and roll, a new genre to be added to Dad Rock.

Speaking of the Lizard, JustBill.net is giving it a little shout-out, with a photo of Mike really rocking (long hair, too).

I posted some new tracks from "Shake Down the Sun" yesterday on Myspace and Sonicbids (side note: I tried to add to Facebook, but apparently, in order to validate that you own the songs, Facebook makes you upload a JPG of your driver's license or birth certificate? Yeah right! They claim they won't sell it, but then again, they sell everything -- how else to explain the tailor-made ads on the site? That place is getting creepier by the day). Check them out when you get a moment. I am still awaiting the Rev. Todd Thibaud's final word on the master, but it's looking good. Also, I got the first design today, which I have high hopes for. I like it, but I shan't share it until it's complete (hopefully we can ship it to the printers by week's end, but that's going to be a true race). Either way, here are some record covers I said to use as inspiration...

Neil Young, "Harvest": My absolute favorite album cover. So simple, elegant, and beautiful. Also happens to be one of my favorite records.

The Byrds, "Sweetheart of the Rodeo": Has a velvety, "you can touch it" look

Willie Nelson, "Naked Willie": Back to the simplicity of "Harvest" (sort of) and also gets in a pseudo cowboy theme, which I always like

Grateful Dead, "American Beauty": Has the wood grain like our first EP and the text is a little goofy (and Ryan Adams copped the rose for "Cold Roses"), but all in all, kind of suits the look we're going for of simple and intriguing

Tom Waits, "Real Gone": Again, getting away from the 60s thing, but very simple, textured, and cool

Neil Young, "Homegrown": A little ornate for my taste, and not as captivating as the simplicity of "Harvest," but still has a very textured look that I like.

Back to business... We got added to Boston GreenFest at City Hall on August 20. Some familiar faces on that roster, and apparently a decent headliner possibly lined up. Also, we lined up a date at the Middle East Downstairs for what is probably a big CD release show. The CD will be "out" in September (at the Toad residency and on tour), but the "release" won't be until November. Yeah, at that point the record will have been out for like six weeks, but I look at it kind of like a restaurant opening. You have the opening, and it's quiet and gets a few reviews, then you have the GRAND OPENING and all hell breaks loose for one big day. Makes sense, right?

I'm making true progress in getting set up for some home recording for the first time since I was in my parents' house. Nothing fancy...actually its anti-fancy, I want it as easy and un-technical as possible. But anyway, I plan to just record demos for the band to learn new material outside of practice and depending on how adept I get at using the equipment (most of which I astonishingly already owned), maybe some real tracks. We'll see how that goes along.

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Saturday, August 01, 2009

Runners-up

I THINK this was posted today, but I could be way behind. Either way, we finished as second runner-up in the Boston Phoenix's Best Music Poll Roots category, behind our old friends Girls Guns & Glory and Movers & Shakers (and somehow ahead of the greatness of Dennis Brennan and Session Americana?). Congrats, fellas.

For one thing, I find that placement surprising because we didn't promote this to fans hardly at all. And not even I voted. Ha! Thanks to those of you who did. Don't take my "whatever" attitude as a lack of graciousness, it's just that we weren't quite sure what to do with this nomination...
Last night, we went to the BMP pre-party at the Middle East Downstairs, and I bumped into FNX DJ Dave Virr. I asked him if he has something to do with the nominations, and he nodded vigorously. Standing next to my buddy Emeen (of The Sterns fame, but more recently his own excellent Emeen Z Band), I said, "Then, what's the deal with the snub for my man Emeen?" He said, "he didn't put anything out this year." Neither did we, I thought, unless you count "Animal Friends." And, as Scott said, was that a "roots" album? Not to sound ungrateful, just a tidbit of our conversation.

I think it's pretty funny that we still have the Roots tag. At least it's not Country or something more severe-sounding.

Anyway, I had to pull out of a Brooklyn show with Quixote and Yoni Gordon in a couple weeks. I didn't realize it was a Tuesday night, and it wouldn't be worth the work I'd miss to do a Tuesday show for probably no one in NYC. So, instead, I hooked them up with a local guy we know, and -- voila! -- everyone wins.

Also, scroll down to my last post if you have a second and check out the photos from P-town by Playground Boston. Pretty cool! We were supposed to do an album photo shoot today with Aram but Matt couldn't get anyone to cover him at work. Lame. I don't think we'll have another time when we CAN shoot this photo for the album, also used as a new press photo, considering I am going to get some artwork by early this week (I guess?) and then submit to the band for changes/approval. By this time next weekend, I'm hoping to have the record sent to get pressed.

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