Thursday, December 30, 2010

STS9 shakedown street 12.29.10

a little something to get you going leading up to the 31st...

NYE is a big time of the year for live music. many of the best & most persistent live acts will be helping fans ring in the new year with live tunes. the above video is a taste of one of those bands who began their nye run last night, STS9, an eightychoices favorite.
got to love when a band like sector 9 decides to drop an opener like shakedown street to kick off a string of 4 nights in CO. this cover was a cool take, on a stellar classic, from the grateful dead catalog. this builds anticipation even higher for their first leg of 2011 dates. it's great that they're giving northern california such a heavy dose of shows in the upcoming tour. try to catch a live STS9 performance near you, they're sure to please.
for those of you in the bay area & elsewhere, enjoy your NYE festivities, there's sure to be something going on near you. so, whether it be live music, theater, great food, a night on the town or a night in, enjoy & be safe. happy new year... a little early.

~ eightychoices

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

the Besty's 2010

here's a nod to the best shows i caught in 2010...

as a true fan, i try to attend as many shows as possible, assuming i can afford the time or money. plus, i want these nights out to spark my interest or involvement. you know, give me something to think about. certain acts are perennial personal favorites, some were my first chance to see an artist(s) live & still others were my first experience all together with a band or performer. anyway, i encourage others to enjoy live music, to be a part of the process & dialogue. without the listener or audience, the conversation would be incomplete. the beauty of live music, as an art, lies within it's intimate connection to those that listen to or experience it. all great pieces of music should be heard in order to be thought of as explored (let alone how that music transforms over time & multiple performances).
and the nominees are...

* may 12, 2010 - anders osborne at the hopmonk w/ the stanton moore trio. this was a true rock & roll show! when you put a bunch of guys from NOLA together in a historic rail station turned concert venue & tap house in the heart of wine country you get rockin' fireworks! these guys used their performance to throw down. they were playing as if to prove to the audience, that when done right, rock is not dead. it is still alive with perhaps the most infectious of heartbeats. one of the tracks off of anders' new record is titled, on the road with charlie parker. let's just say that the live version i got the pleasure of hearing is now a benchmark in how a judge if another band is really rocking (or to use the parlance of our times: shredding). a rip roaring good time, in a very chill atmosphere, i can only hope they come back.

july 1, 2010 - edward sharpe & the magnetic zero at the big meadow stage on the 1st night of high sierra. great energy & pure fun. the band seemed to be having a blast. i was really anxious to see this show. i love their record, up from below. the ensemble was 11 or 12 deep, it was semi organized chaos & i dug it! they pretty much played their album. taking some of the songs into slightly new directions. this was a tough act to top considering it was only the first night. i kept saying to my friends, "this might end up being the best show of the weekend." later i would rephrase it noting, "i think that might be one of those shows where you say, 'i was there when'." their set was the right way to start off my high sierra weekend.

july 4-5, 2010 - lotus at the funk'n jamhouse late night finale of high sierra. this show was a dance party that shredded into the wee hours of the morning. it was as if sunshine was orchestrating the music & lights. one of the finest lotus shows i've ever seen! this band was made to close out festivals. the two other friends who chose to rock this show all night will attest... one of the funnest 4-5 hour stretches of music in a while. plus the walk back that night was hilarious... you know who you are.

* august 13, 2010 - the levon helm band ramble at the independent w/ larry cambell, phil lesh & jim james (outside lands late night series). yim yames is one of my favorite contemporary artists & levon was a founding member of the band, which have influenced a plethora of my favorite recording artists of today. throw phil lesh in the mix & you're talking about the sort of stuff myths are made of. larry cambell was an excellent band leader for this late night summer ramble. one that included an a cappella version of attics of my life with lesh (it should be noted that this song was memorable because of who was on stage, not because phil is an amazing singer). after which he grabbed his bass for a tennessee jed. jim james was all the rage during amazing renditions of the weight, it makes no difference & an encore of i shall be released! i would have to say that hearing jim sing it makes no difference was possibly the single coolest song i experienced this year. it's as close as we'll get to hearing danko sing it. what a night!

august 14, 2010 - my morning jacket at outside lands music festival in golden gate park (land's end stage). these guys are what most bands want to be. they are true to themselves & create music that's vivacious in its intellect. jim james has a voice that's one in a billion & at times instrument like. the rhythm section is capable of going where ever they want while remaining both tight & thunderous. MMJ should have been the headliner, their set was killer. they introduced a new song, circuital & played a pretty good cross section of their catalog considering the condensed set. i love this band & really enjoyed my day at outside lands (the food was the best of the CA fest scene). highly suspicious, wordless, off the record & one big holiday were high points for me. i recommend catching this outfit from louisville anytime possible. here's a look at their set list...

august 20 - ghostland observatory at the warfield. this band definitely helps you party. they're a duo consisting of equal parts: drum & bass, live/sampled electronic & cape wearing. mix in some post pop vocals, a little guitar & add effects. blend well with an extremely bright & intense light show & you end up with this ultra fun band that makes me want to move. these guys from austin, tx are sure to bring high energy during live performances. their hipness seems to ooze from the perception that they don't seem to take themselves too seriously. i like that. this was an awesome show for it being the first time seeing them, thanks Dr. they played a lot of stuff that would later show up on their newest record named, codename:rondo.

october 3, 2010 - elvis costello & the sugarcanes on the star stage at the 10th annual hardly strictly bluegrass festival in golden gate park. he & his band mates won me over big time, seeing as though i was going in without any expectations or hankerings of a particular song from a vast career. throughout his set all i could do was think, i gotta get all of his stuff & become more familiar w/ his body of work. what i actually got to see was, an esteemed artist doing his thing with a cast of seasoned professionals, who truly are musicians. they gave us a remarkably diverse set, that not only covered his journey, but dug into some great hits by other stellar artists as well. his covers of, friend of the devil (grateful dead), mystery train (elvis), you've got to hide your love away (beatles) & happy (the stones during an encore!) were absolute gems. he gave them respect, by respectfully recreating them into his own & with talent. during hide your love away, he had the entire field of people at his disposal. he's a faithful artist in that he welcomes diversity & seems comfortable with change. he has his own identity. but at the heart of it all is skill & a passion to present music that is rarely displayed these days sadly enough. his legacy will stand up over time. he's fresh, in that he doesn't give the listener the same thing every time. he's got a great handle on a lot of music while doing it with style. i'm so glad i caught this act.

* october 30, 2010 - the gorillaz at oracle arena in oakland, the night before halloween! holy hot sh*t batman! this show was simply ridiculous. one of the most grand scales of production i have ever witnessed in terms of any type of live of course people were going big, it was the saturday night before halloween. those in attendance were spoiled by the diverse talents of the gorillaz (with murdock dressed as a zombie), a horn section dressed in jason like hockey masks, a syrian ensemble dressed in traditional attire representing the sounds of the middle east & then some, an all female string section that was phenomenal, 4 back up vocalist costumed as mummies, bobby womack bringing the soul as only he can, 2 additional female vocalists (one more classical & one was a hip hop mc), de la soul (who came out & blew it up during super fast jellyfish. i was anticipating this single song more than almost any other song i've ever hankered to hear live. they also reappeared for feel good inc. during the enore), 2 more mc's & the bassist and guitarist from the clash, who were dressed as bloody sailors & are legitimate shredders! it sounds like a modern trip hop-digital-post-pop-rock orchestral/theatrical production doesn't it? well it was! not to mention the gigantic digital screen that was as captivating as the music at times.

it was sensory overload. there was so much going embodied the current cornucopia that is modern western living. the animated story boards were mind bending. the set list was an A+ (i would have given it an A++ if they would have dropped kids with guns). the attention to detail, mixed with the generated journey they took us on left me to wonder; will there ever be another tour like this? it was on the scale of the rolling stones, u2 or even a phish fest & yet all i can think is that this was something extremely different. dare i say better? the escape to the plastic beach tour may turn out to be one of those situations where we were seeing an artist at their peak, while at the pinnacle of their popularity. this was a bucket list show & i'm stoked to say i was there. mind you 20 of us were dressed up as muppets, tv/movie characters, skeletons, devils & grim reapers. did i mention we rented a party bus to get to & fro...? peep the set list here.

** december 4, 2010 - marco benevento with reed mathis & andrew barr at the independent. improvisation meets jazz, rock & roll, minimalism, individualism & cohesion, rooted in hard work & creative, virtuoso talent, is the best way i can even begin to describe how impressive this show was. no where, ever again, will this night be recreated. it was so good, so inspiring. it felt positive & right just in being there. this trio's chemistry was unmatched & yet there own styles were still distinguishable.
reed seemed to have this, what my wife called, "west coast vibe," both in his physical & musical demeanor (he hails from tulsa). reed's emotion & body language look relaxed & brought freedom to mind, while having obvious focus. andrew barr was fierce on the drum kit. few others could hang with reed & marco on the drums through this type of exploration. but barr was right in his element, playing with such vigor & care. you can't help but be drawn into his playing, he works so hard. then there was marco, this mad scientist of motion & busyness. he had this energy that could only be described as new york city. he wastes little time, or movement, in his pursuit of manifesting his musical ambitions. just as new york is full of hustle & dreams, so too, are his compositions. an amazing amount of sound comes from him. at this particular show he pretty much just played an upright piano with its percussive strings open to the audience. of course he had a some pedals & effect buttons delicately arranged above the keys. his mac book pro & digital keyboard were balancing a top, it still felt organic.
amongst witty banter, that included both tequila & lsd, this two set show raised the bar to another level. there's no need to interpret what this should have been, or was supposed to be. just embrace the experience if you were fortunate enough to have been there. i will remember how the music was living in the now & inspiring the future. major props to the benevento trio for giving me even more reason to embrace instrumental music. it's a reminder that genius resides in many forms.
the night included a lot of work from marco's solo albums, including tracks off his latest release, between the needles & nightfall. there was a segment of time near the end of the first set where the flow of the songs just pulled me in. those tracks unfolded as follows: it came from you, you know i'm no good, heartbeats, call home & RISD. early on in the second set they welcomed out gabby la la with her theremin set up for a cool version of twin killer. when they later played, a waltz destroyed by fire, it inspired a slew of dancing. he also threw in a fearless>benny & the jets>fearless jam that was awesome. their last song of the night was the perfect cover, nobody does it better. i haven't had a concert feel so real in a long time! the music happening on this night was the best of the year! i might regret saying that since my wife & i are going to catch marco & friends again on NYE at cafe du nord.

a special mention goes to...
december 18, 2010 - a christmas carol at the sonoma county repertory theater in sebastopol. this was an awesome treat to soak in during the holiday season. the house was packed, the actors were terrific, the set was modern in its minimalism yet corresponded brilliantly with the era of dickens & the costumes, which too, were great! the sound, both in engineering & use of voices/set were so timely & well utilized. everyone involved must have really known what they were doing & with such quality. the narrator, who was also scrooge, was marvelous. it was tough to take your eyes off of him. he did so well segueing in & out of roles. the actor who brought to life marley's ghost, as well as some of the other holiday ghouls, was boisterous & captivating. the cast consisted of 7 major players, all of which were spot on in their portrayal of more than one character. this was a great date night & one that we'll try to recreate again at the rep. bravo, bravo!

honorable mention goes to...
february 13, 2010 - sts9 at the fox theater in oakland. one of my favorite bands! this was a nice set. highlights for me: abcee's, lo swaga, one a day, arigato, '68 & '08, unquestionable & a rad open e closer. too bad they only gave the bay area one set. two sets fellas, c'mon.

july 2, 2010 - widespread panic on the grandstand stage at high sierra. the bowlegged woman they hammered the audience with was dirty. their cover of ride me high was filthy too, which was probably will into existence by the utah lobsters. panic should leave jerry joseph at home.

july 3, 2010 - trampled by turtles under the big tent at high sierra. northern minnesota slam grass in the sierra nevada mountains is tough not to like. especially when they were allowed to play an additional set because of another artist not showing up. it's worth mentioning that they stood for the whole show, possibly the 1st time ever. they nailed their double mega set closer, which was a sped up version of, don't think twice, it's all right. it had me movin' & howlin'.

november 24, 2010 - pretty lights at the fox theater in oakland. the venue wasn't very full & it let out too early in my opinion. the light show was hip & teamed well with d. smith's beats. adam deitch was a machine on the kit. it was a fun way to bring in the thanksgiving weekend.
the top ten were chronological, which includes a christmas carol. those with an * are on the podium. and the ** indicates the live performance that took the title. enjoy the holidays & happy new year!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

tis the season...

... for some great music ...
the next few days brings a couple of choice options for those of us in the bay area to sweat some of those turkey day calories off. on thursday there's going to be a dance party at the hopmonk in sebastopol. 1320 recording artists dark party (featuring eliot lipp & leo 123) will be throwing down. eliot is one of my favorite electronic artist & has been for a while. steele street scraps, off of hefty records, was full of melodic tracks. on the verge of minimalism, it was a new school form of song crafting driven by a bright young mind & created via modern technologies.
then, on friday at the independent, on divisadero in SF, there's sure to be some serious shredding going down thanks to some brilliant musicians who will be covering Led Zeppelin tunes. marco benevento, a filthy good organist/keyboardist & billy martin, percussionist extraordinaire from medeski, martin & wood are teaming up with marc friedman for a limited run a shows. hope to see you at one of them. especially the benevento/billy martin show... it really will be stellar. shoot, you might as well hit divis early for some little star pizza (the best pizza in the city, for real yo) & then hit the mini bar (a cool lil art bar with great beers & top shelf spirits) across the street for a pre show jameson served neat with a pbr. enjoy.

~ eightychoices

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

GRISMAN aka doodle

the DOODLE was a man among beasts...

one of my dear friends is no longer with us on this earth, yet he will always be in the hearts & minds of those who were lucky enough to have grown up with him.
his parent, Danimal, is an excellent friend & gaurdian to his loyal companion (Gris was so loving). dan did it about as good, if not better than anyone, in raising one of the best dogs ever. both were & remain to be, stewards of the natural world. they are two of my best friends for all time. thanks dan for sharing your amazing woofer with us. i'm so sorry for your loss.
i was saddened instantly when i learned of Grisman's passing. i didn't know what to say to dan except that i loved him & Grisman. dan was incredibly kind & mindful to have said, "you're one of the very select people i really wish was there with me." i was moved & i couldn't stop the tears. Grisman helped me to grow up, while reminding me to never grow old. his energy was unparalleled. he'll go down as one of the great friends i will have had, let alone his being one of the main pals all through college. imagine, a house full of college aged boys far from home & here's Grisman growing up, literally, while we were trying to.
dan & brian had brought him home before i had met any of them. i'm blessed that all of our lives meshed together so well in T town (friends for life). Grisman's first home town would be a place that would etch the grandest of memories upon us. i have the best friends.
i loved Gris a lot. as far as i can tell he was the best dog a boy could ever ask for and he wasn't even mine. although it felt as if he was all of ours. Gris was that one greater good, who would always be a positive force, unlike people.
this woofer doodle was one of a kind & definitely the all-star of home run derby, our hybridized game on the university's campus. it was best after the sprinklers wet the manicured lawn (because: a. Grisman's catches became more phenomenal due to his slipping, b. he would tear up the pitch like no cleat could ever do while making these catches that didn't seem possible & c. when he made the turn to hustle back with the ball it was a rooster tail of earth & water)! both of the batters & Grisman could score points depending on where the tennis ball landed or hit & how. you wanted to get the ball to bounce. if the ball hit the sidewalk that traversed the yard or if it smacked the dorm, we scored points. these precise hits always made the ball bounce, thus encouraging Gris to run harder & catch it off the carom. he was so smart that the hitter could tell him to stay, in order to get the correct timing for which ever bounce inducing zone you were going for; whether it was a paved sidewalk, the midway point or a home run off the dorm across the quad. we could also score runs if the ball bounced off the grass high enough for Grisman to catch it. all three participants would be awarded points if grisman's catch was acrobatic. often times it was & he would receive the loudest cheers of the night. spectators grew as we played on. you could tell he understood the praise because of how he hustled & also due to his reaction when he couldn't quite make the catch. he loved it. we were always having more fun than anyone else. he'll be a beacon for those great times!
he enjoyed many great journeys, which included seeing most of america & surviving an overboard situation on dan's sail boat in puget sound! no problem for the doodle, even if the tides were moving through a swift channel of the sound. he just swam ashore. luckily enough dan got a phone call that Grisman was OK, whew.
Grisman was definitely an athletic specimen, unmatched in my opinion. i've seen him climb tress pretty high up, probably better than most people. of course matty & i were encouraging him & we too were climbing the tree. it was a spectacle. i'm pretty sure Grisman's legacy was cemented forever after that display on campus. he also broke everyone of his own records in water fountain fetch. this occurred in front of the science building, in a huge fountain that was off limits (not for Gris). we would strategically get the ball to land in the second level, so to speak. this meant that Gris had to jump over the initial ledge, run through the constructed pond full of water, but not deep enough for him to paddle in, then jump up & into a 3 foot secondary basin, retrieve the ball & finally bring it all the way back to us at the outer ring of the main basin. his hall of fame numbers lingered around 8, then 9 and finally 11. 11 in a row, even with all of the energy he exerted he could do all of that 11 times in a row without any failure. he easily could go beyond that number, but certain leaps would need multiple chances. or he'd cool down perfectly in the center of the pond where we couldn't wrangle or entice him. then one day, with the hurling stick as my aid, he hit a dozen. only the doodle. that record will never be broke. 'Ol Grisy grey beard!
i wish there was one more round of fetch... on a frozen lake, in the snow, around the fountian, into the sound (while fighting off seals for his beloved ball), up the tree, across the field, in the car & as always, speeding through someone else's lawn. i know that dan did all the right things. and i also know that all dogs go to heaven. he lived the best of lives, a king among canines!
i know the colonel rolled a ball down the elevation of a hike he took. i smashed one last tennis ball into an apple orchard in west sonoma county... here's to you Grisman... i love you & i miss you. i wish i could have been there for you. you were always there waiting for us!

... to the dog who was so smart he didn't need a leash. nor would he cross the street until you told him "ok"... i coming to you give you our hurling stick. you will never be forgotten. RIP

Friday, October 1, 2010

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass

yes, one of the best festivals in america turns 10 today. the hardly strictly bluegrass festival is one of my personal favorites & it's free! got to love san francisco, golden gate park & the philanthropist who throws this awesome party. with great artists such as the carolina chocolate drops, gillian welch, del mccuory, emmylou harris, sharon jones & the dap-kings, elvis costello, yonder mountain string band & the avett brothers, not to mention the countless other performers, there's sure to be something that trips your trigger. get there early, stay until your hearts content & don't forget to bring a blanket & a healthy amount of adult beverages. there's usually pretty cool merchandise & some tasty food purveyors as well (maybe you should bring a little loot). whether you kick up some dust or relax on the ethereal lawn of golden gate park, you can bet your ass you won't be the only one having a good time. hope to see you there! this years fest begins on friday october 1st & ends on the evening of sunday the 3rd.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

the Quack is strong in them

feathered friends
between the night of june 26th & the morning of the 27th, the watertrough project was blessed with three mallards. these irresistibly cute & incredibly resilient birds made it through the inadvertent trauma of a disturbed nest. we love this trio, mallards for life.
eight days prior, an intern for the npo i work for, fatally damaged four of the eight eggs within a nest near the laguna de santa rosa. i was called to the scene to help & the remaining four eggs were immediately & gently wrapped in my hankie. due to the development of those who were harmed, i figured they were very close to hatching. this both alerted me to the possibility of their survival & encouraged me to believe this could have a positive ending. thanks to our great neighbors for keeping an eye on them. the baby mallards actually hatched at our neighbors house on top of a snake cage (a bit ironic, but very green acres like!) thanks uncle duck.
the meeps, as we tagged them, were instantly cute. not until the second day did we interact with them & then my wife was hooked. they would follower her around & fall asleep on her. their puffy down was so distinct. one of the three had a more pronounced stripe on the top of his head (he, as we assumed) that resembled a mow hawk, he became 'frizz'. frizz was also the smallest. later he would be the first to fly! in the weeks that passed we began to realize how quickly we were becoming attached. we had told our selves that reintroducing them into the wild was the best scenario.
their first place of residence was in a big box with plenty of bedding, starter feed for game birds & of course water. there were also some branches & such for them to hop around on & rub up against. there was also a heat lamp there to keep the mini meeps warm. they love huddling together for sleepy time. this make shift nest was holed up in our tiled bathroom. it's quite the treat to wake up in the morning & hear the 'cheeping' of three mini mallards. they would get time outside of the box to roam our hardwood floors & outside deck. to watch little creatures like that figure stuff out is a lesson on life. days later they would get to have swimming lessons in the bear claw tub, way too cool! they are great little divers who seem to be right at home in the water. we learned that ducklings need to have a mothers' touch to swim immediately because they cannot yet produce the oil which helps them to be incredibly buoyant & repel water. the mothering mallard usually cuddles them & rubs her ducklings down with the oils that she produces. we humans lack that amazing adaptation and many others i might add.
they grew by leaps & bounds, to the point where one day, one of the meeps jumped & fluttered out. i was continually amazed by their athletic prowess. they are so daring & their innate drive must tell them, you can do it, even if we couldn't teach them.
after they outgrew their second box it was on to some backyard engineering. using chicken arks as my inspiration, i chose to construct them their very own duck ark. my wife & i learned a lot about mallards, sometimes via trial by feather & other times through research. one fact that i found to be interesting was that they like to nest in somewhat of a high area. with that bit of wisdom we created and oblong rectangular bottom that was wrapped in chicken wire (it's dimensions are, 8x4x4). this allowed them to have open air space & fresh ground cover to hunt insects. the purpose of the ark is to be movable. thus, you can maneuver the ark into places that will benefit the birds (for example, shade or fresh grassy areas that are still inviting for them to eat from & play in). most nights after work one of us would let them run around the yard. if you've never seen a baby mallard try to run, let me tell you, it warms your heart. especially when their running toward you because they know you as their mom! the top of the ark was a triangular nesting area that was also their night time fort. they had to be protected from the neighborhood raccoons, weasels, coyotes & a lone bob cat. during the day their nest zone could be accessed via a hinged gangway that they could waddle up & stumble down, which was a little awkward for them but doable. up there they had straw, a second watering jar & a secret hatch that allowed us to check in on them. i think both my wife & i slept with one eye open & our ears finely tuned on their first night out. we were nervous parents to say the least. i should mention however, that we arranged the ark so that it was right outside of the window above our bed. this latter brought us smiles when we heard their first quack!
weeks continued to go by & their little bodies began to change. their feathers began to molt (there are two times when this occurs before maturity) & their natural abilities were becoming noticeably refined. their voices were also getting stronger, quack! around the time they were starting to get their adult feathers, they were mildly flying & their mind set of us was changing too. they used to run to us & now they were running, swimming & fluttering away. it was good to see them be weary of people, i just didn't want them to be leery of us. as our research gave us new answers, we gave the meeps new amenities. a week or so into their duck ark we set up an inflatable pool near them. every chance we had, we gave them access to the pool. let's just say mallards are the Olympians of water sports. they are so agile, natural & yet playful in water. their ability to duck dive, while seemingly encapsulated in a bubble of air is astounding, so to are their back flips & walking on water. our neighbor, who was just as much a part of their rearing as we were, was instrumental for their pool parties. uncle duck even rigged up a shade structure from pruned tree limbs & a backboard. the trio most definitely loved their day time interactions within the pool. it was becoming quite the comedic chore for any of us to wrangle them back into the ark, basically it required a team effort.
the continued researched was gearing us up for a recommended reintroduction to occur between 7-10 weeks. as we approached this day of accomplishment that would make us proud & happy, as well as, sad empty nest parents. frizz showed us his gusto. on a late afternoon my wife opened up the duck ark & little frizz, who by this time had his blue band of feathers stretching across his wings & a tinge of iridescent green on his head, took to the sky! he pretty much pulled a top gun & requested a fly by as he circled out over the orchard. it was apparently awesome (i wasn't there). his siblings, who too had undergone the color change in feathers, were left to watch & wonder. the two grounded meeps seemed to understand & took to the pool for their swim session. as my wife was putting the ducks into their ark for the night, guess who made a triumphant return? that's right, frizz, he came back! maybe this was always going to be their home, or at least his home.
as our routines ran more smoothly, we knew we were getting close to their release. they were much more difficult to herd & their appetites were growing with their increasing size. which, by the way, mallards grow exceedingly fast. i feel as though their growth rate eclipses that of hens. the tough decision was going to be made & now it was up to me to decide where their next home would be. i thought the site where our relationship began, their native nest, was not the safest place come think of; far too many disrespectful actions by man during day & the multitude of natural predators in abundance at night. there were other stretches of the laguna that had lots of promise & i felt fortunate to know of these reserves in nature. anything to give them the best chance to start their own duckberg. i had made a choice & my wife had just returned home from her own journey. it was now time to move their journey through life into the wild. we prepared them the best we knew how, by doing our best & set off to the joint wetlands.
the joint wetlands is a conservation/restoration project of land that borders some public municipalities. this wetland has two islands, marsh land, healthy vegetation, a nice pond & neighboring land that is part of a grant that protects the entire acreage while promoting native plant species. this was a good, safe home, with all the things we want for our beloved mallards. wrangling them, for what was going to be the last time, was bittersweet. i loved interacting with them, they have such cool personalities. we gathered the three meeps & put them in our rabbit's traveling bin. once they were situated we nestled them into the back of the wagon. i'm pretty sure the car ride alone convinced them that people have to be questioned & mostly avoided. my wife was awesome to them & around them, her love for the meeps runs deep. this was very evident in the nurturing voice & words she used to help calm them en route.
on august 24th, in the late day sun, we sprang the mallards from our cradle to reintroduce them into nature. ma, pa & uncle duck watched as the first two waddled to the edge of the pond & then into the water. the third meep was kind of unsettled once the other two had hi-tailed it to freedom & didn't want to leave the bin. i gently hugged him on each side of his body with my hands & walked him toward his siblings. nearing the water i stretched my arms out & opened my hands. with a few powerful flaps of his beautiful wings he was well out over the water, making a nice landing & paddling toward family. the three of us hung out for an hour or so. we noticed the other geese, cormorants & to our surprise, a mallard mom with three of her own. it was very personal & important for me to say the least. i love those ducks! they will always be a part of my family. as i'm sure we were all emotional, words were scarce & film became the best way to capture the images of family embarking on the journey of life. we said our good byes & sent them our well wishes.
the three of them stayed close together as we left, having to go back once more when nearing the car to reaffirm their togetherness. two days later i went to the site to relieve my parental paranoia & to my utter delight there they were. the three of them chilling on one of the islands. i gave them a "cheep, cheep, cheep" in my best pa duck voice & their elastic necks perked up as if to gesture hello. i felt as though they knew it was me, which i loved. to have my fingerprint, so to speak, on such majestic creatures out in the wild is kind of a trip. i've been back two more times & the scenario has changed, as have the seasons. once there was one & then they had all taken to the sky; the geese, the cormorants, the other mallards too, they're all doing what migratory birds do, flying elsewhere.
it makes me think of the natural world. how does each individual perceive nature? what is nature in the mind of others? the nature that i know & love is unquestionable & supreme. there are so many ways to find all that is worth everything in nature. and as unconventional as the meeps upbringing may have been, in respect to that world, i think we did good. it reminds me of doug martch & his poignant words, "... some things you just can't explain, like why we're all embracing conventional wisdom, in a world that's just so unconventional." we did our best. i know the meeps did & will continue to do their best, while bringing out even more in us.
little did i know how much those three meeps would impact me, little did i know...

Sunday, August 1, 2010

audiafauna in concert, august 3rd

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

watertrough project presents, a house in the woods production...

... audiafauna, live on the deck!

come on over & enjoy a fresh mosaic of acoustic strings, electronic beats & powerful vocals. this septet hails from the santa cruz area & is sure to make an impression. the show starts at 8pm. i know, it's sounds too good to be free, so 'dough' nations would be nice. help this ensemble migrate north while on tour.
parking is limited so please carpool! anyone who can make it early (6pm @ the earliest) is welcome to do so. if you need/want to spend the night there's always room on the floor, deck or yard. Come, raise a cold one, bang some poles, soak in some northern california music & enjoy the night air. it's time to celebrate, west county style!


Monday, July 12, 2010

so much music!

there is an array of great new music being released. couple that with the immense summer tours & festivals going off & one can only hope to get a piece of the action. being a fan of live music, i would recommend supporting the artist in that capacity. i would also encourage concerts goers to take a risk sometimes. by that i mean, seeing something outside of your favorite genre or perhaps not investing all of your hard earned money into catching only your favorite band(s). there is such a myriad of potent music available. let alone all of the local talent that is just starting to reach new ears. there's intrigue in experiencing something new, fresh & undiscovered so to speak. variety is the spice of life, right? would you rather catch the same band for the Nth time in this calendar year or would you rather say you were there when...? it's tough to say if it's the perfect dilemma. i definitely have my favorites, so i understand that side of the story too.
i would encourage anyone & everyone, depending of their level of interest & keeping in mind their preferences of intimate venues vs. mega events with the masses, to consider the growing list of summer music festivals. having been fortunate enough to experience some great fests, they can be well worth it, if not unforgettable. often times the journey just to get there (let alone leaving) can be equally worthy of future stories that will surely be elaborated upon.
there are all types, located all over the country & the globe for that matter, with multiple days, ways, tastes, shapes, sizes & vibes. there's most definitely one out there that will suit you. whether you just want a weekend getaway or a week's vacation, fuel it with the great creativity that is live music.
my wife & i always enjoy checking out all of the folks who are hooking up the good eats, expensive beverages & artisan vending that spans the consumer gauntlet. the big daddy festivals even boast comedians, movie theatre tents, late nights that run until morning & yoga to rejuvenate (i prefer bacon & beer). amidst all of this i failed to mention how cool it is when something epic goes down that could only occur there & then, due to the setting. of course these fests can get spendy, but hey, we all need time & space to unwind & release.
if the small local show, or the big time festival aren't your bag there's always your local record store!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

the iditarod, i cut people, pregnant & religious girls live in concert!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

watertrough project presents, a house in the woods production.

two high energy bands will be performing live in sebastopol. one of which is an eightychoices favorite. the iditarod, which compares itself to 'the inspirational story of a long-shot, small-towner's ascent to athletic glory'. the other is an east bay outfit by the name of, religious girls. they liken their sound to a 'very friendly father'. also appearing will be the artist not known as i cut people, i dig his work, it's out there! pregnant is also performing a set, it should be dope. my goodness, it's sounds too good to be free.
parking is limited so please carpool! anyone who can make it early (4 @ the earliest) is welcome to do so. if you need/want to spend the night there's always room on the floor, deck or yard. Come, raise a glass, bang some poles, rock out to some local music & enjoy the night air. it's time to celebrate, west county, heiny monkey style!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

modern art collection sold for mill$

Flag (1960-66) Johns
michael crichton's pop art collection has gone to auction & it is amazing. for those of us who may never own priceless works of art, it's a chance to absorb artists that changed the world. regardless of your like or distaste of crichton's career, he did amass one of the more stunning collections of modern art.
jasper johns', flag (1960-66), is probably the most priceless of the works. however, roy lichtenstein's, girl (1968), david hockney's, the field entrance, january 2006, picasso's, femme et fillettes (1961) & a pair of rauschenberg pieces, studio painting (1960-61) & trapeze (1964), among numerous others, make this collection worthy of jealousy.
the 31 pieces initially auctioned sold for $93.3 million. flag fetched a record $26.8 million. the previous high for a johns work of art was $17.4 million (figure 4). another allotment was auctioned (117 pieces) under the title, post war & contemporary art.
with the declining health of our ecosystems, the constant devastation of war, oil spills, earthquakes, corrupt big business & phony politics, one might ask, "is art really worth that?" there are countless ways in which that money could have been spent - on humanitarian efforts or environmental concerns. regardless of the astronomical prices, everyone has the right to spend their money as they see fit. it is a bi-product of freedom, albeit financial freedom. comparatively, i'd rather see inspiration & creativity being sold & owned for millions, versus the trillions of dollars being spent & stolen by the powers that be on corruption, pollution, lies & death tolls. art will always serve the public, as a reminder of the past, the pursuit of what is contemporary & what may happen in the future. no matter who owns art, creativity & inspiration are owned by all. those aspects of life & culture that stimulate others without harming the rest of us are worth far more than any auction by christie's.
no one except the artist truly owns the art. we as viewers perpetuate the dialogue & interpret its meanings individually & sometimes collectively. it's similar to music needing listeners to complete the creative circle. art needs to be absorbed. whether or not we see it as the artist did is not important, nor is the ownership. it's the interaction, the stirring of the soul & the ability to inspire that is of most importance.
Trapeze (1964) Rauschenberg

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

travel, explore, listen...

after having some great friends visit me from afar, i realized that this nation & our pursuit of self through journeying, is inextricably linked to our country's majestic nature. the natural spaces of this country are worth more than any human derived wealth the world over.
john muir was a pioneer on so many levels, he's an inspiration. he was closer to being one with nature, more akin to the thought processes of the native americans. without individuals like him, we would never have the gift of national parks. he was experiencing the pristine world surrounding him. thank you for opening up this nation's consciousness to the outdoors & helping to preserve it. no where else in the world do you have such priceless tracts of land being owned by the populous, only here, in america.
i sometimes wish that i was on a nonstop journey, filled with awe & becoming connected to what is truly real. upon reflection, i remind myself that life is this great journey. we all need to spend more time appreciating our natural wonders & national parks. the native lands untouched by manifest destiny & the people of america are our greatest assets. we are so blessed to live in such a diverse world. those of us in CA are especially rich in nature. go out & find yourself, get lost, or talk to the trees & rocks as you walk through purity, as john muir did. there is more of us, in the outdoors, than in all the rest of the material world. the journey is the destination.
if you have an opportunity to view ken burns, the national parks: america's best idea, i strongly suggest viewing it. this is a snippet of its offerings.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

ok go

if you have yet to explore the music of ok go, i suggest a listen. their new album, of the blue color of the sky, is a nice testament to the progress of modern pop rock. i'm pretty sure they prefer not to be pigeon holed by a genre. however, their soundscapes are just far too capable of grabbing onto you & infectiously keeping you locked in. there's a swagger to this four piece & they won't let up. catch them on tour now. they play the fillmore in san francisco on may 26th. hopefully you dig 'em?


Sunday, May 9, 2010

anders osborne & stanton mooore

two of the coolest cats to call new orleans home will be teaming up at the hopmonk in sebastopol. the well traveled anders osborne & big easy native, stanton moore, have collaborated in the past & are now on tour together. their show is wednesday night, may 12th.
stanton seems to be everywhere lately, leaving his mark on all sorts albums. garage a trois' newest, power patriot, came out earlier in the year in which he drums along side skerik, mike dillon & marco benevento. he plays in the band dragon smoke, (featuring eric lindell on guitar, ivan neville on the keys & robert mercurio on bass) which made an appearance at the hopmonk back in december & is rumored to be working on an album. then there's the latest installment, ya-ka-may, from the funk machine that is galactic. and yet, amidst all of that creativity he managed to drop his solo record, groove alchemy. not to be outdone, he produced anders' latest record, american patchwork, for alligator records. that's how those who are that gifted roll i guess? thankfully those of us in tune with the true & real music of contemporary america can tap into these artistic treasures. thanks to NOLA for making great music, while preserving & passing down its robust culture through narrators such as these. make it out to the abbey for some killer tunes & fine ales, you don't want to miss this! see you there...

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

the fresh part of waking up...

in the sleepy realm of morning, when only your eyes are partially working & the thought of work turns you off, nothing appeals quite like coffee. good coffee is almost worth waking up for. i can think of some other things that would make this list, but they will remain unmentioned. if you happen to live in the greater bay area, than you may already have a favorite roaster in your hood or on your route. some of the top roasters in the nation call california home. there are sure to be others, yet here is a small list of roasters worth mentioning...
in the metropolitan bay area there's four barrel coffee & ritual coffee roasters, both in sf & bluebottle coffee co. in oak town. when in santa cruz, check out verve coffee roasters. north of golden gate the list grows long, so i'll focus on sonoma county, which has a plethora of quality roasters. in the west county you have taylor maid & sunshine. in the confines of santa rosa you have a'roma roasters, flying goat, & ecco caffe. a bit further north up the coast is thanksgiving coffee co.
so when you need a cup of joe, think of the local roasters. they aim for the highest quality & strive for social justice. reduce & reuse by bringing your own mug, it's more fun that way. keep in mind that world wide, coffee is second only to oil in terms of a traded commodity. so if you have to wake up, indulge in a good cup of coffee. not only will it taste better, it feels better.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

joseph cornell

joseph cornell is an artist that i discovered later in my life. his work was not exactly respected as an art while he was producing it. the ability to collect & assemble were traits that went less noticed by mainstream art. he played a major role in the birth of assemblage & brought art into the found object. constructivism & surrealism can be found in his boxed assemblages.
cornell's boxes had the sense of architecture & the experimentation of fantasy. another amazing attribute to his work is the capability of it to interact with its viewer. many of his boxes are meant to be handle. the notion of touching someone else's art is more than alluring. for me it's desired.
he pushed on creatively & moved into experimental film. the result, rose hobart, became perhaps the most famous surrealist short film. it was a 19 minute short using snippets from the motion picture 'east of borneo' & shots of an actual ecclipse. debuting in 1936, it was projected through blue glass & slowed to silent film speed. the original soundtrack was removed & replaced with two songs by nestor amaral. salvador dali was in attendance & later kicked over the projector while labeling cornell a thief. alas, joseph was not a thief, but rather a more humble creator who inadvertently manifested what salvador had only dreamt!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Bed (1955)
one of my favorite artist, if not, is robert rauschenberg. this amazing artist worked in a myriad of mediums and chose not to fall victim to the idiot reviews & harsh criticism that was levied against him early in his career. the result is both amazing and priceless. his merging of painting with sculpture, laid way for his combines, which are stark reminders of his immense talent & courage. rauschenberg was quoted as saying he wanted to work, "in the gap between art & life." whether he was monochromatic painting, erasing de Kooning drawings, working as a window artist under the pseudonym, matson jones (with jasper johns), creating award winning album art for the talking heads (speaking in tongues), or interacting with the likes of cy twombly, jasper johns, merce cunningham, john cage & others; he seemed to cherish the idea, or value the thought of art, rather than just focusing on the completed piece. his ability to arouse such an array of thoughts & emotions through his work is a testament to how he created this art. i will never tire of his remarkable creations. in some weird way his art feels like a best friend, it inspires & continues to always give you more. i want to interact with his art, have lunch with them, or just sit with them in silence. thanks for inspiring me and my mind.

Monogram (1955-59)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

dock ellis' no no & no mas

this is a great tale of baseball & counter culture, told through the lens of creative animation. it is a true story & one that i learned of through a great friend. check out other creations from no mas if you have the chance. what can be better than spring time, baseball & recreational...? RIP dock. enjoy the short film.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

atoms for peace

there are some amazing shows going down all over the greater bay area this week. at the wonderful fox theatre in oakland, atoms for peace is playing two nights starting tonight. this band is thom yorke's side project, filled with some great musical personalities. the venue alone is spectacular, than you toss in thom's ability as a performer (he's amazing), making it a gem of a show to catch. the rest of the week is filled with an array of solid artists at this revived cathedral to music.
the very intimate and northern californian mystic theatre, in petaluma, hosted a dark star orchestra show last night & will put up with them again tonight. check this grateful dead tribute band out if you're available, they're great musicians. considering the show they played last night, i'm hoping for a, me and my uncle, or a big river, at their show tonight. enjoy live music.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

14th annual legendary boonville beer festival

on may 8th, catch one of the best times each year with the legendary boonville beer festival. not only do you get to knock back premium micro brews from the west, you camp on location, thereby prolonging the all day/night debauchery. my friends & i have made this a yearly ritual of sorts. it's good old fashioned fun fueled by exceptional beer. often times this marks the beginning of the camping season. bring your gear & an appetite for beer, it doesn't get much better. arrive early to get an ideal camping site & prepare yourself for the drinking experience you so desire. the gates open at a quarter to noon, saturday, may 8th. taps will be flowing from 1 until 5. be mindful however, many of the the smaller brewers were tapped out early last year. find your favorites & try the exotics.

Friday, April 2, 2010

take me out to the ballgame...

opening day in the big leagues is april 4th. that game features two "huge market" teams with a historic rivalry. the season gets under way for most on april 5th. i prefer small market teams and/or those who have grown a team from within the organization for the most part. take the twins for instance, a lot of their top talent came from the draft or were groomed in their farm system. one of whom is catcher, joe mauer, arguably the best baseball player on earth. sure the twins just signed him to an 8 year contract for a huge amount of loot. and yes there are trades made by every team that compete for the playoffs year in & year out. but those are the right decisions to make so that a small market team can compete for a world series, especially signing mauer. the minnesota twins are my favorite pro sports team, Go TWINS. if you can, get out and soak in a game. baseball is such an amazingly thoughtful sport, with spectacular athletes, who possess amazing skills. just think of the games within the game. there are 162 contests, hopefully we can all make it to some. did i mention... Go TWINS?!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

april fools?

1320 records & ArtNowSF present, a 1320 records showcase @ temple, on howard street in san francisco tonight! live music is an art medium & great artists are performing. for roughly twelve bones you could catch some killers tunes (i couldn't resist). david phipps, of sound tribe sector 9, is apparently going to play a piano set. if you're in san francisco tonight & looking for something to do, check this out.

Monday, March 29, 2010

butler university's hinkle fieldhouse

butler university plays its home games in hinke fieldhouse. this same gym was used to film the championship game in the movie hoosiers. the bulldogs of butler have been portrayed recently as a collegiate version of the team from hickory. make no mistake though, this team has big time talent unlike anything the huskers have ever seen. good luck butler.

final 4

whether your bracket got jacked up by two 5 seeds reaching the final four or not (a first ever), this march has been all about the madness. this year's tournament has seen a slough of upsets & great games. parity has definitely shown up to the dance. three of the remaining teams are from traditional "power" conferences (acc, big east & big 10) & a first ever representative from the horizon. congratulations to the deserved participants. the two 5 seeds square off in the early game when butler plays michigan state. the late game pits duke, the only 1 seed, against west virginia, a 2 seed. if your tv is on april 3rd or 5th, check out some college hoops.
~thanks college basketball


the days are dwindling in this winter ski season. however, those of us who love to ski, will probably wish that there had been one more outing. tahoe was gorgeous, even if the snow grew sticky by the noon sun. hit your favorite resort, local mountain or nearest back country location and send winter off in style. enjoy!

Friday, March 19, 2010


if our young men miscarry in their first enterprises they lose all heart. if the young merchant fails, men say he is ruined. if the finest genius studies at one of our colleges and is not installed in an office within one year afterwards in the cities or suburbs of boston or new york, it seems to his friends and to himself that he is right in being disheartened and in complaining the rest of his life. a sturdy lad from new hampshire or vermont, who in turn tries all the professions, who teams it, farms it, peddles, keeps a school, preaches, edits a newspaper, goes to congress, buys a township, and so forth, is worth a hundred of these city dolls. he walks abreast with his days and feels no shame in not 'studying a profession,' for he does not postpone his life, but lives already. he has not one chance, but a hundred chances.

- ralph waldo emerson