Zach Jones & Ben Balmer each have an album on deck: Help em’ out.

I’ve talked to some people who are burned out on the whole Pledgemusic/Kickstarter thing and I totally get it. I can name three projects I’ve supported that well past the two year point nothing ever came of; they basically just got my money. Not really what I had in mind.

Some artists do give crowd-funding a bad name but please don’t let that stop you from helping those who deserve it. The upfront costs of recording an album are staggering and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I don’t think there’s a better way for fan to directly support the musicians they love. I’ve also heard other people say “well why don’t work and save up the money?”…. hummmm. Yeah go work somewhere and QUICKLY save up 10-15k all the while writing, and preforming… It doesn’t work that way for musicians who if you haven’t noticed are not highly motivated by making money. I want the talented artists I listen to be making more music not flipping burgers and taking your order. Long story long, here’s two worthy projects with open hats; one from each of my homes.

Zach Jones who I have helped I think two or three times, consistently runs the tightest crowd-funding projects I’ve ever supported; plus the music in the end is always stellar and fresh. He’s constantly pushing his limits as a performer and writer; as all true artists do (or should). I’ll support pretty much anything he decides to do. http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/lovezachjones

This other feller; Ben Balmer, I met one night while playing a songwriters night here in Austin and I was immediately impressed with his voice, depth of lyrics, guitar chops and unique song style. I’ve traded MANY cd’s with MANY artists and I’ll always give a listen but very few of these records have had much effect on me. Ben’s album though I loved from the first song; it stayed in my vans CD player for many weeks. He’s one of the rare artists not content to recycle the same songs and sounds like so many wannabes do; he’s not afraid to take chance and make something new and real. https://www.kickstarter.com/…/296066705/new-songs-new-record

As an added bonus both of these guys are two of the nicest, compassionate, helping dudes you’ll ever meet. Hook em’ up wouldja?

Best of Craigslist

By far one of the funniest things I’ve found in the last few years.
It’s the funniest stuff from Craigslist and it’s pretty constantly updated from people “flagging” ads for it.

Here’s a couple of my favorites –

LET’S FUCKING FRISBEE-
Seen u eating cat food-
Girl in my apt who saw me fall down my stairwell naked. – m4w
Idiot dog to any home –
Hipster-ass Hispter Bike for Hipsters –

That’s just a few. Dig in. Find some jems for yourself.

ps- I hope they make a book.

 

How to Suck at Your Religion

I’m a big fan of the Oatmeal, a smart online comic-strip written and maintained by Matt Inman. Comedy often has the power to get a point across that the experts, politicians and the media don’t. Think Jon Stewart and the Daily show, George Carlin, Bill Hicks… Though they speak in jest they make some serious arguments about serious subjects all the while making you laugh.

The Oatmeal is a master of this and “How to Suck at Your Religion” is more then just an easy jab at religious people (of all different religions) and what they believe. It’s a pretty great summary for why so many of us don’t believe and beyond that get frustrated with the actions and stances those who do. Kids are easy targets. If you tell them something they will believe it; they haven’t developed the necessary skills to actively sort the the info they are given . Scientific fact. Indoctrination isn’t fair and is sort of evil in my opinion. I’m glad he hit on that, nailed it.headerFor more of The Oatmeal, and there is lots more, go here – http://theoatmeal.com

 

Neighbor Song – Lake Street Dive

I just adore this song and have since I first heard them play it live at One Longfellow Square in Portland Maine to a packed 200 (!) seat house. (2014 was their break-out year; they won’t be playing little venues anymore… yayforthemBUTbooforus…)

Check em’ out if you haven’t already – www.lakestreetdive.com

LSDI have a certain affinity for songs that come out of left field. A song like this is a breath of fresh air. Where so many artists are content to recycle the same themes and phrases of those directly before them Lake Street Dive crafts unique songs removed from the “same-ol’-samle-ol'” Their hard-earned musical talents combined with their love of music and their imaginations make for some of the coolest song arrangements out there.

have a listen here-


Here’s a live video of the tune too-
http://https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytr5c50dNt0

Neighbor song was written by upright-bass player Bridget Kearney about what it’s like living in NYC.

I can hear my neighbors making love upstairs
Their love is rattling my tables and my chairs
Keeping me awake
The love they make it’s keeping me awake
While I’m just trying to get some sleep on the ground floor
I don’t mind my neighbor making love upstairs
Cause I was once the lover making all my neighbors scared
you and me thundering the floorboards with our power and our force
While they’re just trying to get some sleep on the ground floor
I can hear my neighbors making love upstairs
Their love is amplifying all of my despair
Cause I was once a lover now I have to listen to my neighbors
Making love upstairs from down on the ground floor
from down on the ground floor
from down on the ground floor
In this city all the humans live in layers
I got people down the hall and down the stairs
We all move in and out and live our lives in stacks and rows and pairs
And try to find someone with whom we can share it
I can hear my neighbors making love upstairs
Wish I didn’t have to be so well informed of their affairs
But if I have to hear them doing something, at least they’re having fun
Sometimes I forget that all of us are just human
Cause we’re all stacked in rows and columns
And if one of them should fall on me
My neighbors making love upstairs would crush me
I’m down on the ground floor

Great Reads / Part 2

These last few years I’ve been on a tear with the reading thing. Even did away with Netflix as the before-bed pacifier. Here’s a few more to ad my list of great books. Many more to come…

slashsbioSlash – by well…Slash.
I don’t care if you like Guns N’ Roses music or even music in general. This here is an incredible read. His exploits and debauchery had me burning through this bio in one solid string of hours. I think I stayed up until the sun rose; couldn’t put it down. This master guitar-slinger actually lived the hard-ships and wild times the other poser bad-boy bands sang about.
Buy it here –


goddelusiondawkins
The God Delusion – Richard Dawkins.
Agree or disagree with his views on what god is or isn’t but he builds a solid case for his point of view using solid logic. Show me a better argument (using rationality) and I’ll believe that instead.
Buy it here –

 

 

A Short History of Nearly Everything – Bill shorthistbillbrysonBryson.
Leaning heavily on the sciences this book really covers nearly everything. cells, atoms, geology, genes, space, dinosaurs, plate tech tonics, extinctions (then and now), medicine… yeah, everything.  I’ve read it twice and even found the audio-book on CD which I’ve listened to on countless road trips; I highly recommend. I find the British narrators voice soothing. You can get hardcover, paperback and even a textbook style one with pictures.
Buy Here –

banksyWall and Piece – Banksy
This is a coffee table picture book by the elusive British street artist known only as Banksy . This dude makes thought provoking street art challenging the accepted beliefs that we are continuously bombarded with from the media to those within our own ranks afraid to question authority. His messages are challenging and his art exquisitely executed.
Buy Here-

East Of Eden – John Steinbeckeastofeden
This held steady as my favorite book ever until a certain Cormac McCarthy book came along… more on that another time. This master storyteller weaves five novels worth of complax situations and lives into one huge masterpiece.  His handle on prose is more vivid then any movie you’ll ever see.
Buy Here-

 


 

The last installment of great reads in case you missed it…

Replace Shitty Bartenders with Vending Machines

Going out on the town for simple pleasure of having a few drinks and seeing old friends tends to be a rare thing in my world. Yes, I’m in bars a lot as I’m usually playing music through some of the week and the weekend nights. It’s kinda my job, if you can call playing in a band a job, but it’s really not the same thing.

When I do get a night out I’ve learned to appreciate it,  I try my best to enjoy it and take in the presence of the people around me. Let’s face it, that last thing anyone wants to be doing when you get a night out is to stand in line the whole time while being treated like an asshole. More than usual I have found myself at the mercy of some cocky piece of shit bartender who is terrible at what they do. I’m beginning to think it’s becoming an epidemic. Portland nightlife used to be so cool, everyone was so chill. If I wanted to live in Boston I’d move there. What happened? Is the god complex, which is usually exclusive to the butt-chin bouncers, starting to wear off on our beloved mixologists?

Am I the only one noticing this trend for the worse?

The following is a note I wrote after a recent evening out gone bad.  Feel free to print the main paragraph it onto little cards to leave at bars that are manned by inept bartending staff: Be proactive… they need to know.


Trust me, this isn’t all negative. You know a good bartender when you see them right? I’m not talking useless Tom Cruise cup flipping bullshit. These wonderful people are pouring four drinks at once, taking orders, serving beverages all the while carrying on 12 different thoughtful conversations.  These people tend to be pretty easy to spot because there usually isn’t a line of 50 people deep blocking your view to them.  I know so many from right here in Portland and I love them all. I consider these people artists and they should be commended and tipped well.

Here’s four basic rules to being a great bartender from what I understand:

When someone walks up to the bar…
1.) Ask them what they want.
2.) Honor request.
3.) Take their money.
4.) Repeat as many times as necessary

Seems pretty simple to me.

To be fair, I myself have never actually bartended, I did however work in a very fast paced and busy restaurant for a few years as a waiter and there was really one rule after you get by the details.

Keep the customers happy, never leave them wanting.

(Unless they are blatant assholes – then make them wait a little longer…)

Seems to me this principal could soundly be applied to the field of drink slinging.

Here’s is a basic list of rules to follow if you want to be a piece of shit bartender that everyone hates and you don’t like making tip money.

1.)  Act like you are beyond awesome.
2.)  Treat everyone that approaches the bar like they are bothering you.
3.)  Ignore each new patron for at least 5 minutes then give them that, “What the fuck do you want?” look.
4.)  Pay no attention to what order people arrive at the bar, lines are stupid.
5.)  Do ONLY one thing at a time especially when very busy. Actually when it’s really busy go slower this way the amount of people at the bar builds up and they can bask in your awesomeness.
6.) If you have any friends, text them when the line gets too long and hard to deal with or just leave and go into the kitchen for awhile.

My point is that some people are just not cut out for this type of work and some are made for it. If you are one of the former or just hate working behind a bar please quit and get a desk job or something far away from us merry makers… or  lobby your boss to allow alcohol vending machines because we don’t want to deal with you either.

Lastly here’s a missed connection I felt compelled to post on Craigslist. It was inspired by a little gem of a barkeep, who made my last night off so delightful…

CHEERS!!!

A Few Great Reads / Part 1

The iPhone and its simple yet addictive apps have hijacked my nighttime reading ritual lately.  There is a pile of a dozen or so half read books staring at me every time I lay down to play my turn at Words With Friends or pop pigs with Angry Birds.  As of late I feel the newness and luster of these miniature time-sucking games wearing off and the stack of books calling again. Here’s a few books which if I collected them would be at the top of the shelf.

siddhartha-book-coverSiddhartha: Herman Hesse

I have read this novel more times than any other I think.  Each read brings something new into my life.  No matter where I am in my degree of growth change there is always something to learn and apply.
Buy On Amazon-
.

Fierce Invalids RobbinsFierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates: Tom Robbins

Tom Robbins puts more to think about in one sentence than most good writers can cram into a chapter or for some an entire book.  This is by far one of the best books you will ever read if you are into something creative and out of the ordinary.
Buy On Amazon-

 

Demon Haunted SaganDemon Haunted World – Science as a Candle in the Dark: Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan

Basically short essays touching on most everything controversial and sublime about life.  Written by one of the few scientific geniuses of this world that could translate complicated ideas eloquently and simply enough so people like me can follow along.  Sagan is one the most thoughtful critical thinkers of the last 1000 years; the world would be a better place if he was running it.
Buy On Amazon –


imagesThe Things they Carried: Tim O’Brien

The forward claims it’s fiction but I find that hard to believe as do many others. It appears that it’s a way of distancing those involved from the actuality of his experience.  It’s one mans account (told like a fiction story) of his Vietnam experience and how it tied into his later life. It’s been a while since I read this so I don’t remember all the details but I do remember not being able put it down till it was done.
Buy On Amazon –


Hearts in Atlantis
: Stephen King
Hearts in Atlantis

To stave off the boredom of a 45 minute bus ride everyday to and from junior high school I started reading Stephen King books; my first was Christine.  I believe this habit started in the 6th grade.  Anyway, all these years later I have read everything he wrote before  2004 and a few that were published after and a good many of the books twice (The Stand, The Talisman, Bag of Bones, The Gunslingers, to name a few…).

Some reading snobs consider him kitsch and honestly, more times than not, I’m not into the content being served; I’m just not a horror fan. And again, if I can be honest, I’ve never really considered him “horror” even though I guess he’s the king of that.

It’s the ease of his writing and the ease of reading his style that fascinates me.  Unlike many writers he consistently paints a vivid and interesting picture; I sink into his prose like it was a friendly old couch. The type of couch that’s so comfortable you really don’t care that it’s in a room you don’t like to much.  But Hearts in Atlantis I would consider t be a work of suspenseful (at times) drama.
Buy On Amazon –

Jesse Dee – An amazing soul singer/songwriter from Boston

About a year ago I saw this fella and two band mates open for Dave Gutter of the Rustic Overtones and Evan Casas to a fairly empty Big Easy in Portland Maine.  I was floored by his voice, guitar skills, song arrangements and passion for the music.

I grabbed his CD that night, Bittersweet Batch, and I still find myself playing it from time to time. To me a great record is one that I’m continuously drawn to spin through no conscience decision of my own. With all the amazing albums that come out ever year it’s surprising how little I actually get attached to something new, it takes a lot I think.  I’d even consider adding it to my small but growing vinyl collection if it’s even available in that old timey format.  It would have a home next to recent buys Ray LaMontagne Trouble, Dr. Dog Fate, and pretty much every Iron and Wine record.  Vinyl is final as they say.

http://www.myspace.com/jessedee
http://www.jessedee.com/

Seriously, take a few and check em out and if he’s playing your neighborhood, go.  If you’re disappointed I’ll buy you a beer or two and try to calmly explain why your opinion is wrong.

Opening for the Wood Brothers

On September 28, 2009 I had the honer of opening for one of my favorite acts, The Wood Brothers. It was “money sauce” as my roommate James would say.  Of course it was a slightly surreal feeling opening a show for a band I continuously and almost exclusively listened to and raved about for the two or three years previous.

This here is a video clip from the show of a yet unreleased song, “Dreamed”.  Singing harmony is Amanda Gervasi.  I have been helping her with her debut record At Sixes and Sevens for over a year, be looking for it this July.

Dr. Dog

Amazing performance at Port City Music Hall in Portland, Maine. Even more blown away by these guys after seeing them live. Hear their music at www.drdogmusic.com