Monday, June 27, 2016

PUBlication: Asheville (part 1)

828 Graffiti 
Asheville, the best little big town their side of the Mississippi? After having spent an amazing week, culminating with a wonderfully decadent wedding, our old stomping grounds have since changed, yet are still deserving of high praise. The week leading up to Father's Day made downtown feel almost too busy. Thankfully our great hosts took us in and helped us to explore that which we knew, and that which was new. Asheville's economy seems to be booming. Three super-cranes were in the downtown, erecting towers for the people and cars. 

Our first full day was filled with some gluttony. Vortex Doughnuts were brought to us at breakfast—inside the newly built home of our friends, which is outstanding by the way—and Taco Billy for lunch. Each place was crushing what they do best. We also went down along the French Broad River to scope the graffiti co-op. Let's just say the aerosol game in the 828 is strong. Later that afternoon our adventure led us to Wicked Weed Brewing. This libation station was not around when we were in town, but I'm sure glad they're there now. Wicked Weed's brew is on lock—delicious on many fronts. Their infrastructure/design aesthetic was appealing too. No messing around from this establishment; tucked in next to the Orange Peel conveniently. We lucky three, who drank from the funkatorium and beyond, had a good old time. 

We took down multiple tasting flights and a couple of others from the pint. Due to our mildly copious consumption, I'll limit my rambling review to three favorites. Roy G. Biv was an otherworldly ale the dutifully embraces its name, taste the rainbow. Roy's subtle nose opens up to a snappy mouth feel. An airy head appears. The first taste is dangerous, because it made me want to down it. Potency is hidden by an illustrious list of yum: cactus water, passion fruit, pineapple, blood orange and Jasmine flowers. Roy rounds at 7.2%. Give me more!

Wicked Weed Brewing | Asheville, NC
Next up was perhaps my favorite ale of the entire trip—the Tropic Most Gose. This all-time tasty ale had an immensely fruity nose, it surprises you. I liked every nuance along the way. Both of the beautiful ladies tasting with me remarked, "summer beer extraordinaire." Passion Fruit prevails in the slightest over the entirety of the bouquet. The clarity of bright canary-yellow nectar reveals itself to be tart, let me say that again, tart. Of all traits, fresh is a label all beer makers clamor to achieve. The Tropic Most Gose is fresh. Five stars and only 4.1%, so drink up and do so responsibly. 

The third concoction to make this PUBlication list is the Brettanomyces Farmhouse Ale with peaches (6.2%). Oh My! They sold this amazing ale in the bottle. All told, I think we downed two of their 500ML bottles on top of what we took down in house. Imagine the creative possibilities of the Brett strain, coupled to the sweetness peaches; a match made in fermentation heaven. Wicked Weed is a must for any beer fan when in Asheville. 

Check back in the coming days to read more on the bounty of Western North Carolina. Upcoming installments of the Asheville PUBlication will focus on Lake Lure and Chimney Rock, The Rhu, Harvest Records, as well as, Hi-Wire Brewing, Burial Beer Co. and more...


Sunday, June 12, 2016

(Free) Summer Music

Take the path less traveled, it's free!
Sonoma County has plenty of cool towns to hang out in, or if you're lucky enough, live in. Another inviting aspect of these Mayberry's of the North Bay are their summer concert series. More than a few of these idyllic communities eagerly throw some of the region's best free concerts. The word is out on Live at Lagunitas—city folks are buzz'n up for these shows. This year's slate of artists include Thao & The Get Down Stay Down (July 19) and White Denim (September 5). Other performers who will surely please are, Charles Bradley (August 29) and Unknown Mortal Orchestra (August 30).

If you travel north of Santa Rosa you'll hit Healdsburg. Every Tuesday there's live music in the plaza, a picturesque town center lined with cafes, wine tasting and boutiques. Might I suggest stepping into Bergamot Alley if you have the chance. They scene they've created is a much needed aesthetic to the area; they also have a concert series that follows the plaza performances. Tuesday's concerts are already occurring and will continue until August 30th. 

Keep trucking north and you'll be presently surprised by the blue collar/mid-west feel that Cloverdale emits. Each Friday night of the summer this beautiful town hosts a wonderful farmers market and food bazaar, later in the evening the music kicks off. I got hooked last year by a diverse lineup that rocked. Friday Night Live is definitely one of the best bets to make this summer. The lineup is as unique as it is impressive. Highlights on the schedule consist of, The Monophonics (June 17), David Luning (July 1), Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars (July 8), John Cleary and the Monster Gentlemen (July 29). The last performance of the season, which is most likely Ruthie Foster (September 2), should be a good one. If you have transportation I highly recommend making it to one of these events over what is sure to be a hot summer. You can't clover if you don't dale. Enjoy the California sunshine. 


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Jack White | Acoustic in AK

Now that he's performed in every state, Jack White has decided to share that experience with members of The Vault. Mr. White quips, "how Ya feel Alaska, I just thought I'd ask ya?" When Jack decided to embark on a mini-acoustic tour, covering the final five states he'd yet to please, I wonder if he decided instantly to put (some) these shows on wax? The final destination-states were North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho and Alaska. Tickets were sold at each venue's box office for a whopping price of $3—only one ticker per patron. You had to be a cool customer.

Vault package #28 features a double LP, pressed on icy blue vinyl, of the band's performance at Boise's Egyptian Theater. Third Man then filmed their performance in Anchorage, offered now as a DVD. Additional treats for the senses include a 52 page picture book and two Risograph photo prints. Third Man always hooks it up proper. Subscriptions to The Vault are always available and the additional perks are awesome.

Sugar Never Tasted So Good | Jack White


Monday, June 6, 2016

PUBlication: Modern Times | Fruitlands Apricot

Delicious Summer Libation!
Modern Times is crafting some damn fine ales. Whether it be one of their IPA's, seasonal offerings, or the Fruitlands Apricot Gose I enjoyed, they're crushing it. The friend I shared it with commented, "This might be the best Gose I've ever had." Modern Times uses different fruit depending on the season. The apricot gose is available March-May.

A thin head develops over the murky precious metals hue. When opened the nose is faint; once poured it opens up a bit. Smooth texture and lively carbonation create an amazing first impression. Puckering occurs next, but not too much, as the pricot moves in to sequester the tartness. If you're looking for a delicious alternative to the slough of beers out there, look for a Modern Times Fruitlands. Enjoy summer responsibly. 4% | 20 IBU


Wednesday, June 1, 2016

So Far So Good 2K16

We are not two, we are one!
Music's important, it seems a necessity. Emotions and creativity intersect through the sounds of our favorite songs. The first half of this year has been pretty damn good. I began the process of dissecting music on a biannual basis back in 2013. I like to get a feel for the albums recorded until June. Then, as in the past, I give a rundown of the records released in the second half of the calendar year. We should digest the soundtracks to our live's thoughtfully. So without further blather, here are my choices at the halfway point. Hello summer.

Cactus Blossoms | You're Dreaming
Release date: January 22
Thanks to The Mississippi, and the talent residing in an artistically nurturing metropolitan, better known as the Twin Cities; The Cactus Blossoms have achieved the constant ebb of old music while  flowing into our modern consciousness (No More Crying the Blues). Tooled with great words, their vocals deliver and harmonize all too well (Mississippi). Their sound can conjure many names of yesteryear if you must mine them (Change Your Ways or Die). It's better in my opinion to just let their timeless rhythm stream over you—it leaves you almost river drunk. They make the most of their AM radio-friendly narratives (listen below).

"Stoplight Kisses"

Santigold | 99¢
Release date: February 26
In many ways this is the antithesis to the above mentioned. Santigold came in and delivered a modern pitch, one I wanted to hear. The hit on this record has a direct message, playful and snappy with confident honesty (Can't Get Enough of Myself). The pace changes from track to track, a good example is (Who Be Lovin Me), featuring one of two guest spots. My personal favorite from 99¢ is the track below (Chasing Shadows). Earlier praise can be found here.

"Chasing Shadows"

Thao & The Get Down Stay Down | Man Alive
Release date: March 4
Get down and stay down, Man Alive moves me. Thao's latest is truly an offering. She serves up incredibly honest tales that can only be summarize as perceptive and personal. Man Alive might be my favorite album thus far. Maybe what I'm about to say is too simplistic, but the main course is the middle of this record. Track five (Nobody Dies) has taken on a completely new meaning for me as of late—it's almost too harsh in its seemingly kind reminder...what to say? There's a type of persistence to this record, it wants to affect you. I identify with the songs, the words, the music. It all works for me. Feeling brave enough to say things, must feel good (Guts). Aided by the rallying of their leader, the band's playing encourages me to partake, to yell along with (Fool Forever). Smashing into me are the lyrics and lullaby of dropping all the bullshit, the effort it takes to tell it like it is (Millionaire).

"Nobody Dies"

Sturgill Simpson | A Sailor's Guide to Earth
Release date: April 15
The overall sound is robust, navigating differently, yet remaining true. A Sailor's Guide to Earth definitely rocks when the time is right (Keep It Between the Lines). Sturgill Simpson has followed up an otherworldly record with another mystifying contribution. I want more. A beautiful cover from my youth is given new life, literally (In Bloom). Sometimes there's no good to cling to, but there is, and he reminds us of it (Brace For Impact). Greasy times call for a different set of rules. He outlines the struggle quite poignantly on the final track (Call to Arms). Sturgill's a good guide.

"Call To Arms" (live)

Kevin Morby | Singing Saw
Release date: April 15
Wavering sounds coax you in on the first track from Singing Saw (Cut Me Down). Lessons come in many forms, there are also warnings, sometimes they're one in the same (I Have Been to the Mountain). Kevin Morby can paint with his words, and this time there's a bit more punch, more heft. Other voices, horns, and an organ's hum smear the edges of his story, a sort of sonic apprehension. I like the images he chooses to share with us on certain cuts (Dorothy). I also feather in some of my own. Connections are made when I hear Kevin Morby's music (Ferris Wheel). I like that.

"I Have Been to the Mountain"

Beyoncé | Lemonade
April 23
Lemonade is everything without being diluted. It encompasses almost too much, but is singular; the message is sharp and honest. It feels as though, she is free. The sound-scape is a cornucopia of genres, swirled cohesively to create visions of reggaeton dance hall (Hold Up), hit them boat horns yo. Then it becomes deep soul and hip hop in one track (Freedom). It's also country (Daddy Lessons). There are elements of rock (Don't Hurt Yourself). And amazing pop power with a helpful sample (All Night). Then there's the beast that Bey dropped at the Super Bowl halftime. "Formation" is its own thing—with that old school Asian sounding string being bent over new school beats. How'd she get away with that show? She's slay'n, just drop'n it harder and more direct, way to be Beyoncé. Lemonade is pure nectar from pain.

Honorable Mention: Lucius | Good Grief - The Jayhawks | Paging Mr. Proust - Margo Price | Midwest Farmer's Daughter - Lucinda Williams | The Ghost of Highway 20

PS. Thanks for tuning in, I know I've been a bit absent recently. Things happen.