Saturday, January 24, 2015

Aussie Aussie Aussie

On January 26th, Australians celebrates Australia Day. While, wrought with controversy, slowly the relationship between the Aborigines and Australians is beginning to mend - but this will still take a while.

The Aussies are a very proud people. Maybe it is because they live so very, very far away and have to depend on their closest friends, their mates, "mateship" is like nothing you have ever experienced. They enjoy holiday, fun, and sports. So how can you pay tribute this weekend to the Land Down Unda? Listen to some great Australian music or watch some excellent Aussie films, like The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert ...

or Muriel's Wedding. And no Abba is not from Australia even though you may get that impression.

One of my favorites to turn up to 11 when I'm feeling 70's nostalgic, the Little River Band.

The brothers in this next band might be from Scotland, but they are Aussie all the way. Nothing says rock and roll more than AC/DC.
The movie Maximum Overdrive introduced me to them.
Let's not forget our disco roots that came from ...England. But, the Bee Gees were born out of the Brisbane area. The Bee Gees first tried the rock and roll sound of the Beatles, with songs like New York Mining Disaster but turned heads when those disco beats got us grooving.

She was a ray of sunshine and innocence to our youth, that was before Michael Hutchence made her the ravishing vixen she is today. Kylie Minogue was known to the rest of the world through her acting in the famous soap Neighbors. But we didn't know her until Locomotion.  She's maintained a place on the charts with her albums, prides her self on charity work and is a breast cancer survivor.

You cannot mistake Colin Hay's voice. First famous for their Aussie anthem, Land Down Under, Men at Work is still one of Australia's greatest exports. While their other hits didn't get as much air time, nothing says Australia more than Men at Work.

You will remember them for their "one hit" Beds are Burning, but Midnight Oil was more than just that one 80's song. Peter Garret and the band have also been active in Australian government, activists for the environment and culture, fundraisers for those in need in Australia.

Sia is one of the music scene's rising stars, and she's been playing since 1995. Here is her covering another famous Australia band's song, The Church and Under the Milky Way.

I wanted so badly to be Natalie Imbruglia - her hair, her fashion - her voice. She was known mainly for her chart topping song, Torn, but Imbruglia began on that same soap as Aussie songbird Kylie, Neighbors. Natalie is ready to record her fifth studio album.

Vance Joy is one of my favorite artists from 2014...this former footballer and graduate of law school found his niche in songwriting. I think we'll be seeing him around for the next few years. And I hope so because his videos are incredible as well!

She's Kylie's little sister and was on Home and Away instead of Neighbors.Dannii Minogue is not as well known as her sister, Dannii has made a resurgence of late as a music show judge.

There are so many more artists to check out on this Australia Day weekend: The Radiators, Olivia Newton John, Rick Springfield, Iggy Azalea, John Butler Trio, Air Supply, and The Church - not to mention Bardot or real one hit wonder, Madison Avenue. But no, my list is not over.

No, I did not forget, I was simply leaving my favorite for last: INXS. They ARE Australia. INXS became the soundtrack of the late 80's and early 90's. Their songs were vibrant, videos flashy, and their lead singer was as hot as the Outback in the middle of summer.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Music Festival 101


It is that time of year again - music festival season. It is when the lineups are announced and festivals compete for our attendance. So, if you've never been before, here is my music festival guide for all you Bonnarookies, Jam virgins, and first time Coachellans.

Chose wisely
There are a lot of music festivals out there, so how do you choose? First, look at how far you have to travel. Also think about whether or not you like to camp and are okay with battling the elements. Remember, it rains at Mountain Jam and it's hot in Tennessee.

Go with friends
This will guarantee you a great time. If you hit the festival solo, you're in a lottery with your fellow campers. Camping with friends allows you to not only enjoy an awesome time together, but avoid what could potentially be awkwardness if you don't have great vibes with your fellow campers. Also, if you're not into the full on festival camping experience, you can always look at options "off campus". Look at local camp grounds, hotels (they can get pricey) or rentals. Also, RV's can be the way to go.

Plan ahead
This is key. Remember, most stores close to the festival will be sold out or will jack up prices. If you're going with friends, divide and conquer. Maybe one of you has an awesome stove and someone else has a nice outdoor camping shower. Divide up your shopping list, making sure you know what you can and can't have in the campsite. Bring food, beverages, and water. This will cost you a lot once you're in the festival. Save the money for souvenirs or a nice hotel post festival. Don't forget to plan for the weather.

PCarlson 2010

Don't anticipate much sleep
Seriously - don't. Most music festivals go 24 hours a day. Again, this involves planning. All music festivals will have a lineup via app so you can choose wisely who you need to see. Some of the best moments happen in the wee hours of the morning when you aren't expecting it. But, for safety, you should try and get some sleep, especially if you have a long drive home, or you get incredibly annoying if you're sleep deprived.


Fucking Hydrate
Yes, I said that and I cannot stress it enough!!  It is a long weekend usually in the hot sun. You don't want to be the one wimping out on Saturday or ending up at the medical clinic. Drink water at your campsite and during the festival. Most festivals allow you to bring in unopened bottles of water. Do yourself and your friends a favor - hydrate.

Don't YouTube and Instagram  the entire event...let the professionals do that
I've stopped going to as many shows because I don't want to deal with watching you tape a show. It's cool to snap a picture or take a five second clip, but after that you annoy me. There are people paid to film the show. Most of the time you can see your favorite moments captured on the live stream, Instagram, or from awesome concert photographers like Dana Distortion. I get it, you want to share that moment, but realize you're limiting other's enjoyment.

Choosing bands- possibly the toughest decision of your young life
Flaming Lips or Daryl Hall, Alabama Shakes or Mumford and Sons. It just ain't fair. Those responsible for the lineups are playing God and they know it. Sometimes you have to chose. It's important to have these decisions worked out with your friends as well. You don't want that argument to happen and you miss a super jam between Jimmy Page, Flea, Eugene Hutz, and Nicole Atkins (wouldn't that be amazeballs). Also, make sure to check out bands you've never heard of. It could be your next favorite band of all time.

Prepare for the most insane music moments
You never see it coming. That music moment that is forever seared in your soul. It's a mix of things that make it "that moment." It could be the song that never stops in the middle of a monsoon, the amalgam of the atmosphere, the moment, and the crowd, or it's the song itself that just drives home to ever single cell in your body.

I've had several of these moments and it definitely alters something inside of you. Thousands of people connecting with the international language of music to one moment in time is something you have to experience.

Here is one of my favorite moments. It was from Bonnaroo 2oo8. It was Pearl Jam's first festival since a tragedy in Europe that had killed several festival goers. It was hot that night and they were well over an hour into the set. I was walking with a drummer friend at the back of the crowd and when this song began, everyone had their lighters and cell phones lit and I commented it looked like a constellation. Everyone was singing along and it was if the world only existed on the farm in Tennessee at that moment. It was a moment I will forever cherish.

So go forth and conquer your first festival and make some new memories with new and old friends.


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Ramada Inn on 8th Avenue

Ever wonder some of the stories that went into your favorite albums? Not all albums are just written and recorded. If it were only that simple.

Aerosmith - Rocks Aerosmith's fourth studio album Rocks, could have been entirely different had Steven Tyler not lost the lyrics to it in a cab. Slash, Kurt Cobain, James Hetfield, and Nikki Sixx are just some of the artists that affirm Rocks was one of the albums that pushed them to play music. According to Steven Tyler:
Out of some of the worst times the best songs have come. I had all my ideas to the Rocks album in a manilla envelope. The whole album was finished and I left all the lyrics in a cab. I lost the whole thing, all the words to the songs. I had to go back to the Ramada Inn on 8th Avenue and sit with the headphones and bring it all back. I got about 50% of it. Can you imagine what was in that cab that went into the wastebasket?

Yes, can you imagine. Out of that we got songs like Back in the Saddle, Last Child, Nobody's Fault and Lick and a Promise. Now we have computers of course, but remember back in the 70's it was pad, paper, and lots of tape on the reels.

Paul McCartney and Wings - Band on the Run was recorded, albeit begrudgingly, in Africa. The crew endured the numerous shots needed for travel, band members quitting, poor conditions, tensions with the locals and poor recording sessions. Miraculously, after getting back into the studio in London, it would endure to become one of McCartney's best works. Band on the Run, Jet, Let Me Roll It, and one of my favorites, Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five graced this third album by Wings. John Lennon had this to say to Rolling Stone Magazine on the album's release in 1973:
Band on the Run is a great album. Wings keep changing all the time. It doesn’t matter who’s playing. You can call them Wings, but it’s Paul McCartney music – and it’s good stuff.

Doors Morrison Hotel   It's not so much the album but the album cover. 1246 South Hope Street was the location of the Morrison Hotel - and the band snuck in to take the infamous cover shot after the owners declined permission. Roadhouse Blues, Waiting for the Sun, Peace Frog, Blue Sunday, Ship of Fools, Land Ho!, Indian Summer, and Maggie Magill are just some of the gems on this penultimate Doors album recorded with Jim Morrison.  

Red Hot Chili Peppers - Blood Sugar Sex Magik  Recorded in what was rumored to be Houdini's haunted house in 1991, this was the band's breakthrough album. It was that wonky time where grunge and heavy metal were co-existing and then out came this funkadelic, passionate, sexual album (that I had to find at a flea market because it had the parental advisory sticker). Their biggest hit off the album, Under the Bridge, almost didn't make the album. Lead singer, Anthony Kiedis wrote a poem about despondency, tension in the band, and his past heroin addiction. He assumed it didn't fit the overall vibe of the rest of the album when asked to pen a song with the lyrics.

Otis Redding - Dock of the Bay  Some artists never get to see the completion of the album. Otis Redding was working on his album Dock of the Bay in 1967. Three days before Redding died in a plane crash, he recorded (Sittin' on) the Dock of the Bay. The whistling at the end of the song was a placeholder for lyrics yet to be written. The producer left it in the recoding that was the first posthumously released song to reach #1 in the US. This version is without the embarrassing overdubs of seagulls.  

Michael Hutchence - Michael Hutchence -Again, this is another posthumously released album. The circumstances surrounding Michael Hutchence leading up to his death were the brunt of all of his lyrics. Songs about love, loss, sadness, and the need for going away filled the album that would be finished by producers and Hutchence's close friend, Bono. The album is his unrequited plea for his soul.

George Michael - Faith Michael's first solo foray was only a success because of the amount of time he spent
perfecting ...every ...single...word. In a time where digital recording was not at the forefront, this was still painful. Songs were written at the microphone because if there was a word that was not seamlessly introduced to the song, it was removed and replaced. And if that replacement meant re-writing a sentence and re-recoding, then so be it.

Clash - London Calling Recorded in a church in North London,  the title's namesake came from when Joe strummer lived in Germany as a child. Each BBC broadcast would begin with "London Calling." The album was recorded in a dire time in England, politically, socially, economically, and musically. The songs are not straight forward punk, but a mix of reggae, jazz, and The album is their legacy, with songs such as London Calling, , Spanish Bombs, Guns of Brixton, and Train in Vain. The cover pays tribute, in a very post-punk era way, to Elvis Presley's first release.

Grateful Dead - Rocking the Cradle, Egypt 1978

We almost didn't get to hear this concert because of the poor quality. However, digital re-mastering be damned, and maybe it was the lunar eclipse on the third night of September 16th,we finally were gifted the tapes and video in 2008. The Dead only ever played in Egypt these three nights in their entire career. They played in the shadow of the Great Pyramids to those, the few who could attend. While not one of the best Dead shows ever played, it captures something (kind of like the Pizza Tapes) that we knew was out there, but just couldn't get our hands on.

Temple of the Dog - Temple of the Dog  This is such an important album in the history of grunge. The band was created in Tribute for Mother Love Bone singer, Andrew Wood, who had died of a drug overdose. The band, and his roommate, Chris Cornell, were all moving on but they wanted to do something. The result was a band and album named after a song lyric from the song Man of Golden Words. The band was an amalgam of Soundgarden and what would become Pearl Jam, including singer Eddie Vedder. While Hunger Strike would be the song that most remember, it was Say Hello 2 Heaven that is most poignant.

And finally - this is an apple amongst oranges, but here is the story behind a song. Written, performed, and recorded only mere days before Janis Joplin would die from an overdose, the song was inspired by a beat poet and written in Port Chester, NY and sung not even a day after it was penned at the now re-opened Capitol Theatre.

So the four of us walked to a bar about three minutes away called Vahsen’s [at 30 Broad St.]. At the table, Janis and Geraldine bonded, and all of us were getting into it. At some point, Janis sang out, “Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz.” Earlier, in San Francisco, Janis had heard Michael McClure’s song and it stuck with her. But she couldn’t remember the rest of it.Wall Street Journal: The Story Behind Janis Joplin's Mercedes Benz. Marc Myers

You never know what history may show up at your show.
*Kudos to my anti-plurite co-worker and Hoaward Stern for inspiring this post.