Allergies in Austin have knocked me out of commission the last few days. For any of you who are thinking coughing and sneezing, I hope you are not asking me to laugh in your face. It’s more like someone is injecting one with Nyquil, but a brand of it that is actually increasing your cold. I sometimes wonder if my conspiracy-theory friends are right about the government and chemtrails. Anyway…
The Walking Dead is the best show on TV right now. (At least until the return of Mad Men.) Describing why would take a whole series of posts, but a lot of it has to do with the fact that week after week it pushes the limits of what you can do with characters in long form writing. Breaking Bad, which I love, took Ned Flanders and turned him into Scarface, but this has done that for almost an entire cast. Meanwhile, while you knew Walter White was crossing a line that shouldn’t be, with the rules of society gone out the window on The Walking Dead, you don’t know whether the characters are people that should be rooted for or feared. The show has a moral complexity to it that I find really interesting. It looks at human nature outside society in the same way that a novel like Lord of the Flies does. As a bonus, it is flat out entertaining as hell!
I’m watching Better Call Saul right now. I’m still on the fence about this show. There is a lot to like in the performances and the details of the writing. However, the show still feels like it is building towards something, that it hasn’t arrived yet. I’m going to stick with it as I trust Vince Gilligan, also the creator of Breaking Bad, will pull it all together.
If anyone is interested in South African Music, I can’t recommend the compilation Homeland: The Best of Black South Africa enough. It’s one of those rare compilations that plays like a really great album. Every track has a commonality that feels related to the others, but the diversity of artists means that it also never gets boring. I clearly can’t understand the lyrics, but this is soul music, in the sense that it is uplifting and life-affirming, even if you get the sense that it was created under hardship.
This week I go on the road with Shinyribs to Florida for a festival. You can get the details here:
I hope to be back up at my usual posting rate by tomorrow, but if I’m not, you know why.
In the future when all’s well…
If you happen to live in Austin, or be in town for SXSW, I will be performing tonight with Shinyribs at 9:30pm during a free show. It’s called Rock the Lot and it is held in the Austin American Statesman parking lot. We will be putting on a 90 minute show. If you are interested get there on time, because there is a strict 11pm curfew since we are playing live outside in the middle of the city.
In the future when all’s well…
James McMurtry’s new album Complicated Game is out today. McMurtry is one of the best songwriters in America. I probably won’t be able to review the new album until next week. In the meantime here is one of the tracks off of it. I’m really looking forward to diving into this record when I get the time.
All ATX – The British Invasion
Tonight at 9pm Central the PBS station in Austin will be showing the All ATX – British Invasion tribute show. I participated in this event with Shinyribs and Shawn Sahm. I also somehow got to sneak out on stage for the final number and sing backup vocals with Eric Burdon and The Animals. (Try getting the words right, even to a song you know very well, when Eric Burdon is a few feet from you! It was surreal.) A multi-hour show was cut down to 56 minutes, so I have no idea what footage will even make the final cut. I also volunteered to make some political phone calls today, so I don’t have time to research how and if this footage will be available to those of you not in the Austin area. However, I thought I would at least mention that it is on tonight, because there were some really great performances at this event.
I’ll also be on the road with Shinyribs this weekend. You can view the dates here:
Shinyribs Shows Page
In the future when all’s well…
I really enjoy the above piece, On the Way, by Eric Johnson. I’ve always loved, among a million other styles, fast, melodic, and clean guitar playing in the vein of early Johnny Marr. Johnson shows on this piece, being a master guitar player, how easily he goes between that kind of British jingle jangle style and American country picking. As well as being a bass player, I have always played guitar, so just the pure musicality of the piece interests me. However, I think even as a non-musician there are things that one can find pleasurable and interesting about the piece. One thing you realize playing music is how many various forms of music are really similar once you get right down to it. It’s easy to turn a country song into a reggae song or to turn a reggae groove into a calypso by just slightly altering the accents of a rhythm. I think in this piece it is really obvious how different forms of music are more interchangeable than they let on. When the song starts out it is pretty traditional country in the chord progression and the note choice. As it progresses the chord progression and melody get more complex and melodic, and it starts to sound more like something Johnny Marr would have played in The Smiths. Music is often associated with different tribes within society, although this is less prevalent than in the past. Country music is sometimes associated with rednecks, reggae with Rastafarians, soul music and hip-hop with black culture. But really at its core music is just music, in the same way that we all share a common humanity when you look past the superficial costumes of the tribe.
James McMurtry Interview
There is a new James McMurtry interview in the Austin Chronicle about his upcoming album Complicated Game. McMurtry has long been one of my favorite artists to check out in Austin, and is really one of our country’s best songwriters right now. The new album drops on February 24th. I’ve posted the above video before, but for those of you that missed it, or have never heard McMurtry before, this is the single off the new record.
I wanted to mention to any of you in the Austin area that I’ll be performing solo, with drummer/percussionist Alex Moralez backing me up, at the Google Fiber building tomorrow at 4:00pm. (201 Colorado) We will be performing before the great Ramsay Midwood. There will be free food and drink at this event as well. I have worked with Ramsay in the past and he is one of my absolute favorite acts to catch live. Hope to see some of you there as this is a show that I’m extremely happy to be a part of.
Here is one of my favorite Midwood tracks and videos: