Saturday, October 20, 2018

The Big Dipper over the Ghost of the Columbia River

PMCarlson 2018

At the moment the Dave Matthews Band tickets went on sale for Labor Day weekend, it was fate. Upon also realizing that the trip would include a stop in a music mecca, and then realizing that two must see 90's classic TV show filming locations were located conveniently along the route between Seattle and The was going to be a priceless experience. 

The takeoff song was planned and this kicked off the journey to the Pacific Northwest.
It seemed appropriate to begin a trip to Seattle with Eddie Vedder. Between Jaws and MadMax and an appropriate grunge soundtrack, the flight was quick and soon the edges of the Cascades could be seen as the plane readied to land. 

Evergreens. Love. Welcome to Seattle.
PMCarlson 2018
Of course first destination was Pikes Place Market...what amazing choices of fresh and affordable food and flowers! And then the first Starbucks of course. We met a new friend at The Lodge, a wonderful and comfy cozy bar / restaurant / hotel on downtown. And then jet lag kicked in. 

Day two became a day to pay tribute to all things grunge. First stop was at The Museum of Pop Seattle (MoPOP for all you cook kids). First up was to see the new Pearl Jam exhibit. 
PMCarlson 2018
 While prepared to see a life size Andrew Wood statue ... seeing a life size statue of Mother Love Bone's Andrew Wood with arms outstretched as he rose out of the earth like Mount Olympus, covered appropriately in was a but overwhelming. 

The exhibit is a must see for any Pearl Jam fan. Eddie's notebooks, the tape Eddie made for Stone, the awards, pictures, just everything you could want to see and more - including a giant Ten-like Pearl Jam to take pictures in front of. 

The museum also pays homage to Nirvana and Jimi Hendrix, as well and hosts other rotating events. The Chris Cornell statue unveiling was moved from it's August date ... so another trip is needed to see it. 

Music history sightseeing makes you hungry so the adventure continued to Toulouse Petit, a wonderful culinary delight in the Queen Anne area of Seattle. Music history sightseeing also makes you thirsty and want to play pinball. Highly recommend this Rudy's-esque Coney Island-themed bar, Shorty's on the lower part of Queen Anne. Of course we met more friends there ... and played some pinball as well!
However, there was still music history to explore and no better place to continue than in picturesque Kerry Park. Gorgeous views of the skyline, but for music lovers, also the location of a famous Andrew Wood photo, arms wide open and embracing all things rock and fabulous. 
PMCarlson 2018
The  next stop on the grunge tour, no, not the bench outside of Kurt Cobain's house, but the statue that inspired a very famous song by Seattle's Soundgarden: The Black Sun statue in Volunteer Park (also home to Bruce and Brandon Lee's graves). 

That evening, our adventure took us to The Pacific Inn Pub located in Fremont, home of also, the Fremont Troll. Best fish and chips and fish tacos ... and not just because Anthony Bourdain ate there.
Conveniently located a ten minute walk away, was Highdive, a live music venue with a lot of funk andsoul. Every Thursday, a bunch of musicians from a bunch of bands join forces and become Marmalade. Must See!!! 

Day Three:  A visit to TV history on the way to The Gorge.
The morning started out the way you imagine a Seattle morning starting out with the cliche rain and fog. But for the drive ahead it was perfect. For this morning, I would visit the homes of two of my all time favorite TV shows: Twin Peaks and Northern Exposure.  Both are quirky but one is dark and the other funny. Both had an impact on me growing up. Have you ever visited the town of
your favorite TV show? Do it! If it exists, it is a priceless experience. And if you are a Twin Peaks fanatic, you must check out Twin Peaks Tours. He is a true fan that we met
along the way and will guide you through Agent Cooper's arrival to the final place Laura Palmer was seen by James Hurley. Snoqualmie and North Bend are quaint towns that are worth visiting even if you are not a fan. Don't forget to stop by Twede's Cafe to get a hot cup of coffee as black as the sky on a moonless night and damn fine slice of cherry pie. 

The drive from Seattle along route 90 is magical and if you're never seen real mountains before, you will be amazed. Next Stop: Cicely Alaska, real name Rosyln.Walking the streets where the characters actually filmed both shows was unforgettable and quite priceless. Walking into The Brick for a beer and strolling along the main street was a highlight. 

Day Three Continued: The Gorge
The landscape shifts drastically from green and rocky mountains to the desert. Close your eyes and you can make yourself believe you're in the Southwest. We made our home for the next three days in Ellensburg. A college town that also hosts a rodeo on Labor Day weekend.The anticipation was growing to see the venue. Touted as one of the best live music venues, the Gorge Amphitheater sits above the Columbia River, giving the concert goer a magnificent view before enjoying the show. And magnificent it truly is. 
PMCarlson 2018

It is easy to spot someone who has never been to The Gorge before ... there is much anticipation as you crest the hill past the vendors and merch table. And then you see it ... pictures cannot do it any justice. The land opens up before you and the music, caught by the natural amphitheater, is amplified as you try to get that grin off your face of how truly amazing it all really is. 

On to the show. This year's DMB shows included The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Moon Taxi, and Margo Price. And as the sun set, the Big Dipper could be seen sitting perfectly above the stage. 
Three nights and 63 Dave Matthews Band songs. Perfect weather. Perfect crowd. The experience was worth traveling thousands of miles. Seeing families, couples, friends, all gather to enjoy music under the stars and create memories seems to be the goal of shows at The Gorge. 

The drive back to Seattle via Route 2 was just as stunning and breathtaking as driving on Route 90 through Snoqualmie Pass. Slow, the desert scene shifted back to evergreens. But there was still one more music adventure to take in Seatttle.
 Easy Street Records in West Seattle is probably most famous for the Mother Love Bone Mural (re-painted a few years ago by Jeff Ament). You can go there for food and to shop for some great music. They also host many live events. And if you're in the neighborhood, I suggest you take a drive to Alki Beach. Totally not expecting this gorgeous beach oasis. BUT so worth visiting. 

Vacations are for relaxing I suppose, so a visit to one of Seattle's sensory deprivation floating tanks was in order. While there are several, Level Float Spa caught my eye because they also offer neuro spa, light and sensory therapy (and they also offer unlimited packages!). Not familiar with sensory deprivation floating? Check out this post for more information.

Of course we dined at Pikes Place Market but we wanted somewhere that the locals frequent. A nice dinner before heading back to reality. It was ironically named The Brooklyn.  Once we were inside, I understood that they were trying to replicate the 50's Brooklyn diner with a bit of Dick Tracy - like mystique and exaggeration. The food was amazing. 
Let me repeat this ... the food was amazing. No egg creams, but they do specialize in local fare full of flavor and originality.

It's always very sad leaving a new place that your soul totally is into, but alas, that time arrived. Two more stops before the airport. 
Dicks. Admittedly, very good for fast food. I also regret not getting the shake. But save room for your amazing meal and wonderful service in Georgetown's Nine Pound Hammer. We never would have found this place if it was not for our hotel concierge. Funky and out of the way makes Nine Pound Hammer a new favorite. 

The trip, over too fast. New friends. Old friends. Lots of music. Evergreens. An adventure with my best friend. Highly recommend Seattle.
PMCarlson 2018 - Kerry Park


Saturday, October 13, 2018

Eyes In A Moon Of Blindness: Rattle and Hum at 30

...It's a musical journey

It's no secret that the critics panned this entire effort of U2. The video documentary of their tour following their blast to stardom after The Joshua Tree release amalgamated the distinct artistic eyes of Phil Joanou and Phil Corbijn. Jimy Iovine envisioned the journey that captured U2's exploration of America through the eyes of the young Irish musicians. It was not an easy sell, not even for music critics who hailed the album as  "excitement", another described it as "misguided and bombastic". Either way, this piece of rock history was captured and has had staying power. I guess it could be said that Rattle and Hum has matured well. Whether or not they were trying to create the next Scorcese-esque video documentary, we may never know, however the album and movie capture U2 at some of their best live performances. Below is the album review and sadly so many great performances were left off, such as Sunday Bloody Sunday and Exit, two performances filled with passion and captured the essence of live U2. 

Helter Skelter 
 The opening is raw and angry and perfect for a band who is about to go off amidst critics rambling about their delusions of grandeur ... ironic what comes next for the band isn't it?

Van Dieman's Land 
One of Edge's few vocal leads, this haunting song about the prison land that many Irish were sent to remains haunting. 
...I wrote a song called 'Van Diemen's Land' which touches on that on the new album. I was interested in the history of this character, John Boyle O'Reilly. I was out one day with my wife Aislinn and we came upon this monument in County Meath. At the entrance to it was this faded brown newspaper clipping which gave the history of his life. How he was a member of the British Army in Ireland. He left the British army and became a Fenian and wrote Fenian poetry. He was arrested by the British Government and was charged with writing material that was liable to undermine the government and was deported to Australia for 20 years' hard labour. He was, to me, a prisoner of conscience in a way. He was not a man of violence and he was sent away for 20 years so I wrote a song about that." - The Edge, NME 1988 

Desire' is a little classic, a little 45. Edge took the beat from The Stooges' '69, which was their take on the Bo Diddley beat. The rhythm is the sex of the music. I wanted to own up to the religiosity of rock'n'roll and the fact that you get paid for them. On one level, I'm criticizing the lunatic fringe preachers 'stealing hearts at a travelling show' but I'm also starting to realize there's a real parallel between what I am doing and what they do. - Bono, U2 By U2 2006
Hawkmoon 269
Bono says the song was inspired by the writings of gifted Sam Shephard and that it achieved its title because 269 was how many takes it took to get this song complete. There is a burning desire for someone in this song.

All Along the Watchtower
Bono's politics on full display as he covers the Hendrix / Dylan  tune and defaces public property. 

I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
Performed with a Harlem church choir - this version is stripped down to basics.

Freedom For My People

Silver And Gold
I was listening to a John Lee Hooker track and I asked, 'Who's playing the drums?' 'That's his foot,' Keith [Richards] said. 'He was just kicking at the floorboards.' I was blown out of it. I left with my head in a spin and I went back to my hotel room on my own and wrote 'Silver And Gold' and tried to apply what I'd just heard to the project at hand, which was an anti-apartheid record. I called Keith the next day and said, 'Can I come round, I've got a song I'd like to play for you? Maybe you'd like to play on it?' Keith said, 'Sure.' So I recorded an acoustic version of this, my first blues song, with Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood. - Bono, U2 By U2 2006

Pride (In The Name Of Love) 
A great live version from McNichols Arena is a song that always inspires at any U2 show.

Angel of Harlem 
We landed in JFK, and we were picked up in a limousine. We had never been in a limousine before, and with the din of punk rock not yet faded from our ears, there was sort of guilty pleasure as we stepped into the limousine. Followed by a sly grin, as you admit to yourself this is fun. We crossed Triborough Bridge and saw the Manhattan skyline. The limo driver was black and he had the radio turned to WBLS, a black music station. Billie Holiday was singing. And there it was, city of blinding lights, neon hearts. They were advertising in the skies for people like us, as London had been the year before. And it was snowing. - Bono, U2 By U2 2006

Love Rescue Me 
We played two nights in LA. I woke up one morning with a song in my head, 'Love Rescue Me.' Lots of songs arrive in a dream state. At first you think it must be somebody else's song, because it's there, verse, chorus, melody. I had been dreaming about Bob Dylan and I thought it w might be a Bob Dylan song. It's about a man people keep turning to as a saviour but his own life is getting messed up and he could use a bit of salvation himself. - Bono, U2 By U2 2006  

When Love Comes To Town 
I asked Bono if he would write a song for me and he said yes. About a year later, the group was touring in the US and asked if I would open the show, and I said gladly. Bono said, ' I have this song for you.' He brought it out and I thought it was a very deep song for him, being such a young man. But I liked it very much. The lyrics were very heavy... Blues is not prejudiced. You can be any colour to play the blues. Most people say it's a simple music, I won't argue that. I say
everybody can play it, but that doesn't mean everybody's gonna like it. I think U2 did a very good job. I thought it was great and I still do. - BB King, Uncut 

New Orleans had the sweetness of a rotting vine, when the grapes are just on the turn. I loved it, the noble rot as wine loves call it. There's some dark colours, violet and purple. It was raining when we arrived. Danny had this baroque château in New Orleans, a beautiful house with an amazing stairwell. It was a magical place... Danny Lanois had found a world of people as lost to the music as he was; there was this dizziness in the air. That was such a great journey and a great time spent with adam. I'll treasure it for the rest of my life. - Bono, U2 By U2 2006

God Part II
He can't reply, so I'm going to.' And that became 'God Part II,' in homage to Lennon's beautiful song 'God. - Bono, U2 By U2 2006

Bullet The Blue Sky
Part of the beauty of this rockumentary is that is captured the feel of a stadium rock show. The soaring guitar in Bullet is a great rock song for a large stadium. 
The subtle knock of the Hendrix Woodstock Star Spangled Banner being played before Bullet is lost on some. The song itself is the band's outspoken view of America's $$ reach into other countries through violence and regime change.

All I Want Is You 
One of Bono's sweet love songs ... it captures the stages of love and is a perfect song for the closing credits. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Control Your Life Through Insanity

Control your life through insanity ~Cliff Burton

Bass players. The ones always left in the dust.  I happen to love the bass and the fine folks who play it. Without the bass, the song is not complete. So here in NO ORDER are some of my favorites - the underdog of the music world - here is to the bass player.

Bobby Dall - Poison

Okay, so sort of no order. Bobby is where my bass crush started.  It was Bobby's neon green BC Rich bass, the constant cigarette in his mouth, and THAT melody. Call it the pre-Justice Metallica syndrome, a lot of bass is turned way down and you can't appreciate what it really gives to the songs. And that hair.

Berry Oakley - Allman Brothers

The signature of Whipping Post is Berry's opening bass line. In his 24 short years on this planet, he created some of the most memorable bass riffs of the jam scene. As a founding member of the Allman Brothers, he laid the foundation of a band that will see its touring end this year.

Tal Wilkenfeld

I've seen the Aussie play with the Allman's and Jeff Beck. You will lose your soul to her bass lines. She is smooth jazz and soul.  She's played with the who's who of rock: Jimmy Page, Sting, Prince, and Eric Clapton to name a few.

Carol Kaye
You don't realize you've heard this woman dozens of times. Have you heard LaBamba? Sloop John B? River Deep Montain High? Or watch shows like Kojak, Hogan's Heroes, or the Cosby Show? That is the infamous Carol Kaye.

Charles Mingus
One of the most prolific bass players of the 20th century, he personified  racial tensions into melodic, haunting, jazz songs. He was not only a bass player, but a composer, creating dozens of well known jazz recordings.

Gail Ann Dorsey
You like David Bowie? Then you know Gail. She performed bass and sang with David Bowie for many years. She's also played with the following artists: Boy George,  Gwen Stefani, , Seal, , ani difranco and Dar Williams.

Ryan Stasik
The bassist extraordinaire band co-founder from Umphrey's McGee, he oozes cool, plays hot, and fashions a stache that Magnum PI would pay for. Did I mention he ALSO loves Pittsburgh sports as much as yours truly. He' given UM some of their tightest, funkiest bass lines to songs like 1348, In the Kitchen, and Mantis. You like Metallica, the Grateful Dead, and Hall and Oates ... check out Mr. Stasik and Umphrey's McGee.

Ian Fraser "Lemmy" Kilmister, bassist and coun-founder of Motörhead is a no-nonsense, slightly unintelligible rock god. You can thanks the Beatles for Lemmy, as they were his first inspiration. While writing some of rocks most well known songs, including some for Ozzy Osbourne, it would be Motörhead's cover of Metallica's Whiplash that would win them their first Grammy and Whiplash was inspired by Motorhead!!!  How fucking cool is that Cliff Burton?? Mind blown. \m/ \m/

John Taylor - Duran Duran
John is more than just a pretty (really really pretty) face, he is co-founder and creator of some of the most famous 80's songs. Rio, Hungry Like the Wolf, Union of the Snake ...take a close listen at that bass riff. He can also be found writing and acting while he isn't catching up with Duran on tour.

Rachel Bolan - Skid Row
One of my first crushes, Rachel, sweet Rachel, you brought us Youth Gone Wild, Piece of Me, nose chains, and a thankful look back that we didn't get on that motorcycle as tempting as you were (one motorcycle doesn't work with two friends who understand not leaving your wingman).

Nikki Sixx - Motely Crue, Sixx A.M.
Nikki Sixx has become somewhat of a hero to me. He admits his mistakes, is a gifted photographer, writer, musician, and family man. He's open about his past and is ready for his post-Motley Crue future. He is the writer behind most of Motley's hits. 

Cliff Burton - Metallica
One of my favorite bassists of all time. Cliff brought the bass to the forefront of the band. He made the bass sound like it was the lead guitar. After his brother's death, he promised he would practice and become the best bassist player for him. I think he fulfilled that promise. What would have become of Cliff if we had not lost him in 1986 at the age of 24?

Phil Lynott - Thin Lizzy
Yet another co-founding band bassist. Phil was also lead singer and songwriter for the band known for their songs such as Whiskey in the Jar, Boys are Back in Town, and Jailbreak. This Irish band was diverse not only in culture but in religion as well - making them a ground breaking no-borders type of rock band.

  TRIVIA ... 
Did you know that Aerosmith's bassist Tom Hamilton ALSO played bass with Thin Lizz?
Tom, known for that sexy opening to Sweet Emotion, also is an excellent skit actor if you happened to see him on the Saturday Night Live with Tom Hanks. 

Les Claypool -
Primus, Frog Brigade, Oysterhead
THE man ... what a funky, slappin' bass this man plays. We all met him in Primus, the unforgettable sound of that funky bass revved up like Jerry's race car. And yeah, don't forget - it's good ole Les singing the South Park intro.  He can also he heard with Stewart Copeland and Trey Anastasio under the guise of Oysterhead (pig mask and all).

Flea - Red Hot Chili Peppers
Michael Peter Balzary ... who??
FLEA! He is perhaps one of the most influential bass the world. His style of bass slapping and funk jamming has been copied and imitated across all spectrums of music. Not only is he the co-founder of RHCP, but he has played in numerous other bands lending his talent, he acts, he runs a music conservatory for underprivileged kids ... AND - he runs marathons! What is not to love about the man?

Rhonda Smith
Her style definitely has Flea and Les Claypool inspiration as well as her own jazzy touch. She's played with Jeff Beck and Prince and can hold her own as you will see with this clip. She's a singer and songwriter who has not only played with George Clinton and Chaka Khan, her own band Karma Deuce has toured worldwide.  

John Paul Jones- Led Zeppelin
No, you never think of John Paul Jones when you think of Led Zeppelin. He's the Ringo Starr of Zep. But behind all of Jimmy's riffs, Bonzo's beats, and Roberts shrills, you'll here this -- pure rhythm bass tying together all of the hedgerows of Mordor.

Sting - The Police
It's no secret I love Sting. Love his attitude, his perfectionist ways, his philanthropy, and I love his bass. He is true Brit, an artist, and can actually write a good biography. What I also like about the man is that he takes chances both musically and in life. Carry on Sting.

Krist Novoselic - Nirvana
Sounding like a broken record, Krist is a the bass player and co-founder of Nirvana. See - bass players will get you places. His life post-Nirvana has included becoming involved in politics and simple farm living. He does occasionally play with former Nirvana member, Dave Grohl and Foo Fighters.

Tommy Shannon - Double Trouble
While Stevie Ray did (rightfully) take all the limelight, it was Tommy keeping up diligently with Stevie.

Jeff Ament -
Green River, Mother Love Bone, Temple of the Dog, Pearl Jam
This basketball-loving bass player from Montana was a key player in the two bands that would help grunge evolve into what eventually became Pearl Jam. How?
Green River - Seattle band. Jeff was joined by Stone Gossard. Band breaks up and Jeff and Stone meet the most phantasmorasmic frontman, Andrew Wood ❤️, and form Mother Love Bone. Andrew goes to Olympus and Jeff and Stone meet up with Mike McCready and are asked by Andrew's roommate, Chris Cornell,  to sing some of Andrew's unfinished songs with him in a band named Temple of the Dog. At the same time Jeff and Stone were auditioning singers for their next band and they liked this guy Eddie Vedder - who sang Hungerstrike with TotD, everyone loved it and {mindblown} Pearl Jam was born.

Andy Fletcher - Depeche Mode
Another co-founder and bassist, Andy Fletcher's role within the band is always touted and speculated ... In a key scene in D.A. Pennebaker's 1989 documentary 101, Fletcher clarifies these roles: "Martin's the songwriter, Alan's the good musician, Dave's the vocalist, and I bum around."
He has essentially done everything (even produce and manage) but sing.

Oh yeah, and don't forget this chap!
Paul McCartney - The Beatles, Wings

Take a listen to McCartney's incredible, seamless bass line on Rain.