The day itself was spent collecting the requisite souvenirs and such from various locations (and wasting some time watching a lackluster Steelers game). After obtaining the necessary cultural detritus, including a sizable number of snuff bottles (they were on sale), we absconded for pizza and the start of our musical adventures. Even though there wasn't anything live at One Eyed Jacks, it was still worth the stop to hear a jukebox that featured Betty Davis, Dio, Turbonegro and Funkadelic. The red velvet wallpaper and black velvet nudes complemented the place well.
From there, we took in some more Kermit Ruffin at the Blue Nile. Tight funk and jazz band - well worth a second viewing. While my wife didn't pass out early or anything, there was evidently something in the vodka and tonics that promoted zombification. Not in a drooling roofie sort of way, but in a clawing, constant-demanding-for-brains sort of way. You have to be careful with such things in this town, but luckily we managed to escape without incident.
Also, Jennifer thinks she might have run into Keith Urban, in all of his tiny, spa-enhanced glory. So, there you go. Thank you for that, Sugar Bowl.
We're trying to decide now what to do with New Year's Eve - Morning 40 Federation at One Eyed Jacks, Dumpstaphunk and Porter/Batiste/Stoltz at Howlin' Wolf's, or the celebration downtown. Comments?
The music had quite a bit to overcome this evening, as torrential rain poured over the city and the city's restaurants conspired to keep us from finishing dinner until about 11:15pm (I'm not going to name the restaurants, but I would ask those folks who work there not to accept reservations over the phone and then deny that they'd take reservations for a table of two when we actually arrive. I'd also ask the other place not to quote a 45-minute wait and then take 2 hours. Feh.).
Between the rain and the residual frustration with food service in general, we decided not to venture further and decided to take whatever Frenchman St. would offer on the way back to the hotel. It managed to salvage the evening with Bob French's birthday party at Ray's Boom Boom Room. It was a soulful and jazzy take on just about every song in the New Orleans songbook, performers rotated on- and off-stage to offer their harmonies or song choices, and I was just happy to be able to get in for the party. Thanks to all who put that event together - you managed to salvage the night.
EDIT: I also forgot to mention the tenacious performance of the brass band in last night's downpour. That's dedication.
DOUBLE EDIT: I also forgot to mention that Frenchman St. offered some death metal, which we politely declined. It did sound intriguing, though.
The music portion of the night centered around Kermit Ruffin's mix of jazz and R&B, and I picked up kind of a go-go vibe from him - the music never stopped unless it had to, and you just kept segueing as necessary to make sure the dancers never stopped. Great stuff. I'm going to miss having this amount of groove-oriented music available from just wandering around. Wonder what I could do to make this happen in Fountain Square?
Our tourist-y activity of the day was taking in the New Orleans Museum of Art and one of the St. Louis cemeteries. A good friend of ours also showed us the site where Brad Pitt's Make It Right project had erected pink solar-powered tents represented the houses that would be built. Our friend noted that there's more life returning every day, and Common Ground still has a strong presence. There's still a long way to go, but the outrage is spurring some fantastic efforts.
After a rather rough flight, including multiple delays, birds sucked into intake valves, horribly random seat assignments and a pledge never to fly Northwest again, we finally made it to New Orleans. It's much as we remember it, except for the absence of mobile command stations on the medians from last year. Baby steps, I suppose. After a quick meal of thai, coffee at Cafe Du Monde and drinks at the R Bar, we took in some of the music. There was the obligatory street brass band performance, and then we returned to the Maple Leaf for an amazing show from Johnny Vidacovich's trio. George Porter, Jr. wasn't there this time, but the group didn't disappoint at all. Grimy funk in the Maple Leaf was exactly what we needed to get over the flight nightmare.
My wife also wishes to inform the readers of this blog that it was I that cried "Uncle" first this night and not her, upsetting the normal balance of the universe and surely foretelling the end of days.
A local music aficionado asked for my year-end top ten list, and I inflict such things on IMN as a matter of course. For blog perusal, here it is:
1. Meshell Ndegeocello - The World Has Made Me The Man Of My Dreams
2. Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings - 100 Days, 100 Nights
3. M.I.A. - Kala
4. Ozomatli - Don't Mess With The Dragon
5. Saul Williams - The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust
6. Common - Finding Forever
7. Talib Kweli - Eardrum
8. Amy Winehouse - Back To Black
9. Robert Glasper - In My Element
10. Jay-Z - American Gangster
Local honorable mentions go to Cynthia Layne and The Born Again Floozies, and the reissue of the year is the Sly and the Family Stone boxset. Seriously, the box set is killer. Go get it now.
There is nothing more festive than seeing five copies of "Road House" wrapped up and ready to go to friends and family. This, truly, was the highlight of the holiday. Nothing of real musical importance to report, except that I did get a crack at "Guitar Hero III." Adventurous educators might posit that this game could function as a tool to enhance the learning of rhythms - they might, but I won't. Fun game, though. We're off to New Orleans, which is a shame because we'll be missing a huge night of New Year's Eve fun in and out of the neighborhood. I think we'll make it by, though.
As far as trick plays in football go, the fake punt doesn't rate very high on the flashy scale. Triple reverses, modified fleaflickers, Boise State's Statue of Liberty play, and the like all carry more visual excitement, more drama, more zazz. But I humbly submit here that a successful fake punt both emboldens the team who pulls it off and irrevocably crushes the one that suffers the indignity.Sure, it's probably only a few yards and a first down. But it represents a renewal, a refreshing dash of hope, possibly even the hint of resurrection. Sure, it may look as if you were giving up and heading back to the bench to conduct a post-mortem on the drive's proceedings. Yet, that glimmer of hope in Coach's eye wasn't ready to dim just yet. "Head back in there. Give it one more shot." And it paid off. All is right again.And just as happy as you are now, the other team is crushed. Demoralized. Perhaps considering a career change. They gave it their best, their all, their everything. And as successful as they appeared then, along comes some lowly frickin' punter to muck the whole thing up. "Great," they think. "Now the punter thinks he can pass (or run)." And pass (or run) he does. And then he celebrates in whatever weird and off-putting manner punters celebrate - maybe a spastic twitch or something. They're not used to celebrating like that, so it's unfamiliar and a little scary. Still, they're celebrating, and you're not. Back to the trenches, as Coach yells "Think maybe you can stop the PUNTER from throwing next time?!"And so, here's to you, Daniel Sepulveda - congratulations on your 32-yard fake punt pass last night. How does it feel to break the spirit of 53 men simultaneously?
This podcast was quite a bit longer than previous efforts, for a few reasons - more tracks on this one, we just gabbed a bit longer, and we tacked on a New Year's Eve list 'cause we won't be podcasting in the next week due to the holidays. I should also point out that Fountain Square has a few good NYE shows within walking distance of each other, with Radio Radio taking the least expensive show on the list (only $5?!) and Big Car Gallery sponsoring the only all-ages show on the list. Excellent job, folks.
So we're headed back to New Orleans for the new year this year, and I've been looking ahead at the music calendar for some ideas of things to do while we're there (now that we've gotten some of the tourist stuff out of the way, I look forward to sleeping later and enjoying more of the nightlife). The funny thing is that some of the big shows we saw down there last year are coming around again. George Porter and Johnny Vidacovich at the Maple Leaf? Yep. Eddie Bo and Snooks Eaglin at Mid-City Rock N' Bowl Check. Dr. John at House of Blues? Mais oui, ma cheri.
These shows were good enough to demand a return visit, I'd think. We were so exhausted that we didn't get to catch the whole thing, so there's certainly more to be heard. And watching George Porter play bass is a revelation. These folks are legends. Plus, there's a Toadies reunion while we're down there, and I'd like to relive my college radio days. This is going to be a lot of fun.
VH-1 apparently has the market cornered when it comes to ready-made nostalgia, but allow me a bite at the proverbial apple with this particular bass guitar. This screams "EIGHTIES!!!" at me more than anything else, including legwarmers, Reagan, and John Hughes movies. You saw it in the hands of Duran Duran's John Taylor (if you were paying attention to popular music), you saw it in the hands of Stu Hamm (if you weren't paying attention to popular music and instead focused on bass guitar instructional videos . . . in your room . . . alone . . . ), and I finally ran across one years ago in an Indy guitar store. The action was terrible on it, which kinda soured me on the experience at that point. Unfortunately, I haven't run across one in a bit, and it looks like their primary endorser is the bassist for Kenny G.
Not gonna get a lot of store space with that, I suppose.
Still, I liked the sound they got, and the foresight to slap on the extension that changed the E string to a low D was a good plan (brought to us regular tuning-machine-folks by Hipshot). I'd give it another shot. And I'd probably play the bass line to "Rio" on it.