Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween 2014

Happy Halloween. There's always something to get into during this ghoulish celebration. Perhaps you'll beheaded to a concert for some debauchery. Or maybe you're in a costume to pillage goodies. Carving up pumpkins is always an option. Whichever devilish delight it is, have fun and be safe. All Hollows' Eve is one of my favorite holidays. Enjoy.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

NBA Treats

LeBron James
1, 2, 3, Work Hard 4, 5, 6, Together...

That's the rallying cry for this years' Cleveland Cavaliers. It's most likely what every other team will aim to accomplish as well. The NBA season has begun, and like a kid in a candy store, I'll be devouring all the sweetness. The West is still loaded, as many as ten teams will battle for the eight playoff spots. Back East it appears to be a two-horse race. Chicago and Cleveland look the best on paper. The next tier includes Toronto, Miami, Washington & Charlotte, leaving the last two spots up for grabs. Let the games begin. Only in the NBA!



 World Series Champions 2014
Congratulations to the San Francisco Giants on winning their third World Series in five years. Dynasty may be the most appropriate superlative. Again, three in five years. This title was won on the road, a great game seven to say the least. Affeldt and Bumgarner were stellar in relief. Mad Bum was ridiculous—21 innings pitched in three World Series appearances and only 1 earned run. Sandoval had 26 hits this post season. Hustle Pence had 22 base knocks in October. This team epitomized team, just as they have done in each of their World Series runs. Big ups to Bruce Bochy, what a leader. The other managers who have won three or more World Series are all in the Hall of Fame. In a sport that drifts through three seasons and endures the truth of 162 games (plus the playoffs), you can see why baseball still has the magic. What a game. What a team. What a way to end it.

Congratulations San Francisco, the Giants are World Series Champions. Viva Gigantes!


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Go Giants!

Pence & 'Panda'
Game 7 of the World Series is tonight. And you know what they say about game 7's, anything can happen. The KC faithful are sure to soak in whichever result occurs—the last (home) game of the year. It all comes down to this. Mad Bum has been phenomenal. The two guys in the photo have been pretty dynamic for the SF squad, plus, Buster is due. One GAME for all the marbles. Go Giants!

Tune in at 5:00pm pacific time for the last chance at some good old-fashioned baseball. Game heaven, game seven. Go Giants!


Monday, October 27, 2014

Truck or Treat

The SOMA strEATfood park in SF will once again host the annual Truck or Treat celebration on Halloween. Open daily for lunch and dinner, the trucks have gained a following. There's an abundance of vendors offering up a ton of selections from all over the culinary spectrum that is street food

October 31st is always a party and the pairing of food and music sounds pretty delicious. Street fair takes on a whole new meaning with this event—Truck or Treat III is San Francisco's only nighttime outdoor Halloween dance party. SOMA is sure to be buzzing due to the cast of DJ's, Halloween-only inspired food, beer and drinks, light shows, and spooky movies. For tickets click here. Festivities begin at 7pm and run until Late. Of course costumes are encouraged.

Be extra careful, there are a lot of youngsters out mobbing for treats. Respect all the designated drivers and remember to tip the cab/über driver. Happy Halloween.


Friday, October 24, 2014

What ALES You?

The Great American Beer Festival wrapped up not too long ago and a couple of the winners are close enough to visit, at least over the course of a weekend. With craft beer continuing to grow, almost everyone can now enjoy a cold one from their own neck of the woods. Those of us in northern California are obviously blessed with an abundance of amazing high-end oat sodas and barley pops. 

The next time I'm headed to Tahoe I'll try and blast over to Reno in order to hit up Brasserie Saint James, awarded best mid-sized brewpub and brewer of the year. Showing good taste, Saint James tends to brew a broader range of ales, going against the grain of the west coast's hop obsession. The Pils De Resistance is a lager fermented near freezing temperatures. They produce a Kolsch inspired by a performance at the Cologne Opera House, the Köln Concert. Daily Wages is a traditionally brewed, herbaceous Saison, which won gold for best French/Belgium Saison. And for the warmth of the golden hour there's California Steamin'.  It's only 5.5% and has a surprisingly low IBU of 39, considering they use four different hop varietals. Not only do they create quality beer, their menus look amazing too.  

Long Beach has the other approachable winner. Beachwood BBQ and Brewery may need to update their website (eek), but apparently their crushing it where it counts. Beachwood was named best large brewpub and brewer of the year. Mocha Machine took the gold for best coffee beer and Un Atout won silver behind Saint James in the Saison category. Beer and barbecue is always a good combination. Hopefully I'll make it down to the LBC. Until then I'll be on the look out for these and others while perusing the beer aisle or at the bar of a good tap room. Cheers.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Fort Ross

Fort Ross | Harvest Festival | Oct. 18th
Looking for something to do this weekend, that doesn't involve the metropolitan area? I will be enjoying the beauty of Sonoma's rugged coastline at the Fort Ross State Historic Park. Harvest festivals are a autumnal right of passage. There are few settings that can rival this coastal fort established by Russian settlements over 200 years ago.

The morning of October 18th will begin in the historic orchard with the gathering of pears and apples. Then it's onto the windmill, how cool? Throughout the day Draft horse carriage rides will transport attendees, both literally and figuratively. There will also be a traditional field blessing and plenty of storytelling. Make sure to stick around for the firing of the canon at 1:00pm and 3:30pm. Awesome.

The event runs from 10:00am - 5:00pm. For a good portion of that time there will be continuous baking and juicing—with the bounty from the orchard. Be sure to carpool as there is a $20 per car fee. There may even be some mushroom hunting to be had. Don't forget to wear layers and bring cash. Enjoy.


Friday, October 10, 2014


Guess what goes well together? Bikes and Beer. Fairfax, the birthplace of mountain biking, hosts Biketoberfest this Saturday from noon to 5:00pm. There will be 70 bicycle exhibitions, 22 west coast breweries, plenty of tasty edible options, and three Bay area bands playing live music. This celebration of two-wheelers is free. If your affinity for beer overwhelms, you can purchase a bottomless 8 ounce souvenir glass. This interactive event benefits the Marin Bicycle Coalition and Access4bikes. VIP parking is available for those that pedal. Enjoy the weekend—North Bay style.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014


Third Man Records Telescoping Box & 3 LP's | Vault #22
Third Man Records will be delivering perhaps its most epic vault release to date, number 22. Jack White absolutely destroyed the Bonnaroo Festival this past summer. So guess what? He's reminding us all with an absolutely insane vault-only treasure. This memorable performance will be brought to audiophile life on three LP's. Mixed by in-house engineering guru Vance Powell, the white, blue, and black vinyl will transport us into this two hour and forty-five minute bender.

Third Man has decided to include a full-length DVD of the concert as edited by Brad Holland. Four high-end, collectible 8x10 photographs will also be tucked in carefully. In addition, there will be a Jack White patch, tour poster, and replica backstage sticker. Last but not least, the custom USB with super-secret extras. Not bad for a subscription to The Vault. The deadline to subscribe and still receive this bounty is October 31st.


Monday, October 6, 2014

A Festival for All of Us

Chris Isaak | Star Stage | Golden Gate Park
There's something that happens to our brains when we hear the word free. Hardly Strictly Bluegrass is the best free music festival in America, guaranteed. Golden Gate Park has to be experienced. It is an urban American treasure at the grandest scale. Long gone are the days of this event being a secret—it now bends with too many of us...

Now-a-days we tend to hit up the one day that gives us the most of what we like. This tactic is further justified by the live stream feature on the festival's website (couch tour). We chose Saturday. We chose wisely. 

Parking was a bit of a battle, and thus, we missed Deltron. Rumor has it that the 3030 set was hot.

Built to Spill | Tower of Gold Stage | 3:05pm

A cooler full of goodies gave us power for the ensuing Built to Spill performance at the Gold Stage. Idaho's finest began with "Goin' Against Your Mind." "Time Trap" was the track that grabbed my attention most. During the reverb heavy snarl of three guitars, when Doug stopped singing, two Red-tailed hawks began soaring over our heads, talons down and open. Quite the coincidence. A fitting exhibition by nature. Maybe they liked the music too? Built to Spill ended their set with a park-vibe version of "Carry the Zero."

Setlist: 1. Goin' Against Your 2. Liar 3. Time Trap 4. Conventional Wisdom 5. Life's a Dream
6. Joyride 7. Stab 8. Carry the Zero

Dave Rawlings Machine | Banjo Stage | 4:25pm

The perfect timing of the schedule allowed us to walk all the way to the Banjo Stage to catch Dave Rawlings Machine. The Collection of talent was as I had hyped. The set was almost comprised entirely by covers. My personal favorite was Gillian singing, "Wayside/Back in Time." A classic song from the artist herself. The final handful of offerings began when I heard them teasing a Neil tune while picking out the pieces of Bright Eye's "Method Acting." They whittled their way down to a sharpened "Cortez the Killer," my validation. The next song, my other favorite, "Queen Jane Approximately," was almost too much. The Dylan cover was stark and stripped down—a beautiful take on an absolute all-timer. As the denim-clad quintet stepped off the stage I was completely pleased. Moments passed, and then they came back out to inundate us with "Going to California."

Setlist: 1. The Monkey & the Engineer (Jesse Fuller cover) 2. To Be Young (Ryan Adams)
3. Ruby 4. He Will Set Your Fields on Fire (Bill Monroe) 5. Wayside/Back in Time 6. Stew ball 7. Method Acting (Bright Eyes) 8. Cortez the Killer (Neil Young) 9. Queen Jane Approximately (Dylan)
E: Going to California (Led Zeppelin)

Chris Isaak | Star Stage | 5:45pm

The final destination, the serious stuff. Chris Isaak only lives six blocks from Golden Gate Park. He gave us a win-you-over performance, the type that makes you believe. His first cut was a ripping 50's sounding rocker. To follow up, he crooned, "Somebody's Crying." He left his guitar to walk out into the crowd, moving toward me he decided that I was worthy of a ring-laden handshake. I was beaming (photo above). He then preceded to sing two songs out at the corner of the soundboard. He made his mark on tracks that were a skillful mix of crafty language and honky-tonk rhythms. Seven songs in we heard, and gave into, the sounds of "Wicked Game." Sexy should just have this song as its definition. Rocking and rolling with different guitars, he, his amazing suit and his band, transformed a late Saturday afternoon into a Quentin Tarantino-like haze thanks to "Blue Hotel." It had a soundtrack quality, of course aided by special agent Chester Desmond's vocals. Lucky number 13 was "Only the Lonely." Chris is probably the only human capable of attempting that cover. He did it a great justice and even added some squeezebox for good measure. They added some spice with a couple of Latin influenced takes, highlighted by "Ring of Fire." Shifting back into his world, they dazzled with, "Baby Did a Bad, Bad Thing." The opening licks to one of the all-time greatest tracks is "Pretty Woman." They challenged themselves to reproduce Roy's classic. Chris Isaak cultivated those songs into his own, which is saying something, at least in my opinion. 'Only the Lonely' kept coming up as we walked back to the car and tried to recite the magic. Thanks, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass.


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Thome Yorke's Modern Boxes

Tomorrow's Modern Boxes is Thom Yorke's latest solo release. With assistance from super-friend Nigel Godrich, the album drips in digital-shoe-gazing. Whether or not that was the intention, it feels foggy, but in a good way—like cold, damp mornings accompanied by a cup of coffee. With a playing time teetering at 30 minutes, it can suffice your slow days. Soft key work is thematic throughout. This tendency is apparent amidst the keen vocal timing on "Guess Again," a track that may induce foot tapping. The holding-pattern of "Interference" also applies this sentiment, achieving a calm understanding—I don't have the right to interfere. The bang of a hammer on string once again delivers us into the floating atmosphere of "The Mother Lode." Later this track evolves, gaining with kinetic Hi-hat glitches and a bass drum pulse. It's my favorite... 

Immediately after, it slows again. Tomorrow's potential resides in its ability to harness the waiting. And maybe that's the point, we're always waiting for what's next. Yorke has given us a platform to begin the daily grind from. He's telling us there will be something else.