Smilefest Reunion 2011

I made a trip up to North Carolina last month to see some friends and visit with my family. The primary purpose was to go to Smilefest. This year was my fifth or sixth going to that festival, I believe. I’ve been to it in three different locations now, and the latest one, while still not quite my favorite, is definitely great. My favorite was when it was in Union Grove on Van Hoy Farms. Least favorite was at Deerfields outside Asheville. Of course, I love that area, but that park is not conducive to festivals whatsoever. We bitched the entire time about having to hike our stuff in for miles (even though there were flatbeds to ease the walk if you could catch one). It was still ridiculous, and I’m not a fan of sleeping in a tent pitched on a nearly vertical mountainside. This year, for the second year in a row, it’s been held at Jomeokee Campground in Pinnacle, right at the foot of Pilot Mountain. It’s a beautiful site, and they’ve kept the ticket sales semi-private for people who have been before (hence the “reunion” moniker), so you end up with people who know how not to act a fool, and who are experienced festival-goers and are there to enjoy the music (okay, and also have a little fun).

As usual, we heard a lot of really awesome music and drank a lot of beer and camped and got real dirty for a few days. I live for those weekends. Good times with good friends. Met a lot of awesome new people too. Saw folks I only ever see at Smilefest (another reason why it’s like a reunion). Here are some pictures my good friend Jenny took, since I have none of my own to share because I didn’t take any. You can check out the Facebook page of her photography business (Dancing Lemur Design) here. She is really good, and you should “like” her.

Me and my flip flops on my patchwork quilt, enjoying the band, Doby.

Every year, every location, they always have these cool windows and bottles hung in the trees.

Our buddy Kelly with his friend Laura, enjoying some muscadine moonshine.

Me trying to figure out how I’m gonna get a queen-size air mattress into my 2-man tent. Travis totally did it, and it was like my own private bouncy castle. Awesomeness.

Always love the hula-hoopers and wish I still had mine. Unfortunately not everything can make the cut when you move. I would like to investigate the collapsible options, though.

We had a huge campsite set up, with about eight people camping together, complete with four or five easy-up tents. We basically created an open-air house. One tent was just the kitchen area. One was the sitting room. We dubbed it “Cabanapyland.” The Jerry tapestry provided a little shade and privacy. In this picture, I’m standing in the living room. LOL. We had not one, but two solar showers. And, because we are seasoned veterans and smartipantses, we totally camped right beside a pole with a power outlet and a water spigot. SCORE!

Here’s a nice shot of the main stage with Pilot Mountain in the background. So pretty. Great time. Can’t wait til next year!

Phish 2010!

Just got back from two amazing nights of Phish in Raleigh and Charlotte with Swampman. Our summer tradition continues! I have to say I think set list-wise these shows were way better than the ones we saw last summer. The weather was awesome — lately it’s been in the 90s here, but we ended up with breezy high 70s both nights, which was so pleasant and made my happy place that much happier. And the crowds both nights were wonderful — a great representation of the Phamily. Smiles everywhere, kindness everywhere. I love being surrounded by good people who think like me, live like me, dress like me, dance like me, and are made happy by what makes me happy!

This tour made me really appreciate living in Winston, because it really is a good central location. Two hours to Raleigh, and an hour-and-a-half to Charlotte. Actually, it took us longer to get to Charlotte than Raleigh because of Fourth of July beach traffic, which sucked. But Swamp let me sleep in the car a lot instead of doing my normal stereo duty, and he even bought some new CDs for the drive that he knew I would like so I didn’t have to focus on changing them out after my recent weeks of working overtime. Very considerate. We listened to a lot of the new Robert Randolph album, some Sound Tribe Sector 9, and of course, Phish.

The lot scene in Raleigh was cooler than Charlotte in some ways. We got there early enough to cruise Shakedown before heading in and check out all the cool glass work and jewelry. These days it’s all about feather earrings and druzy crystal pendants made from the inside of geodes (awesome), in addition to the standard blown glass. I could have spent a lot of money there if I had had it. Got complimented on my necklace by someone from Asheville — she thought is was amber but I corrected her. Actually carnelian. And got to tell my story about the history of carnelian from ancient Roman times. Tons and tons of good kind veggie vendors that made me SO HUNGRY and good beers for cheap. Got a couple of dollar waters on the way in and breezed through the bag check thanks to my skirt’s secret pocket, which has a broken zipper, but that was fixed easily by Swamp’s random safety pin on the tag of his shirt. Eagle Scouts rule!

The lawn at Walnut Creek is Raleigh is very steep, and I could actually see well, which is abnormal because I’m short and usually have a view of the backs of tall guys’ heads. We had a perfect spot right in the middle.

Raleigh Set List:

Set 1: Llama, Roses Are Free, Kill Devil Falls, Time Loves a Hero, Alaska, Water in the Sky, Runaway Jim > The Moma Dance > The Divided Sky, Cavern

Set 2: Backwards Down the Number Line > Halley’s Comet -> Light > Fluffhead > Have Mercy, Light Up Or Leave Me Alone -> Free > Wading in the Velvet Sea, The Squirming Coil > Suzy Greenberg

Encore: Boogie On Reggae Woman

I thought that was pretty much the best show I’ve ever seen. Already have it downloaded if you want a copy. (Just leave me a comment.)¬† I think (although y’all know my memory is not the best) it was my first live Roses Are Free. Runaway Jim is my second to least favorite Phish song (besides Maze…I just can’t get into the coked out songs because I am a mellow person, yo), so I took that opportunity to go get a beer, which Swamp anticipated on the first chord, naturally, and was already fishing out my money that he was holding by the time I said, “I think I’m gonna go….” LOVED getting to hear all my favorites from the newest album — Alaska, Kill Devil Falls, and Backwards Down the Number Line. Backwards is a me-and-Swamp song because of the whole calling your best friend on their birthday thing. I think the only times I stopped dancing were Runaway Jim and Velvet Sea, which is also not one of my favorites to see live, although it is a great song for chilling at home. I just prefer dancing music live. Upon hearing this statement, one of my friends said, “I thought you didn’t dance!” Because the last time we went to a club together I said that. But I am a hippie dancer, not a dance club dancer. Unless I’m really drunk, which doesn’t happen that often.

Halley’s Comet was the best I’ve ever heard with great sing-along power. Also, Fluffhead. WOW! And then Free! YES! The Have Mercy cover was better than the original Mighty Diamonds version…I love it when they reggae it out, man. Swamp was really proud to have called Squirming Coil, and I actually was really happy to hear Suzy Greenberg, which is not usually my favorite. And the Boogie On encore ROCKED MY FACE!

Lot scene in Charlotte was a bit more mellow, which is not a bad thing necessarily. Had to bum some cups off some neighbors. Met a guy from Maine who had been to all the festivals up there, so we shared IT stories, and I talked jewelry with one of the girls they were with who was wearing an awesome handmade silver pendant with inset stones made by one of her friends.

One of my personal highlights was seeing a family pass by the car — two parents with a middle-school aged daughter. The daughter was walking with her head down and arms crossed, and the mom was saying to her, “Honey, this is so exciting! Your first Phish show!” I felt really old in that moment. That could so be me. Would be me if I had a kid that age. Awesome that they are introducing her to coolness. Reminded me of my first concert experience that my parents took me to in Charlotte to see U2 and Pixies. Hell yeah! Looking back I guess that was not the coolest I’ve ever felt, but I sure do appreciate that now. I hope that girl had a good time and that she’ll be blogging about that experience (or telling her college friends or something) in the future so people know how cool her parents are. Some of Swamp’s students have started getting into Phish because he plays it for them during homeroom, and we were paranoid we might see some of them there. But I guess their parents don’t condone it because it’s evil hippie drug music. Much in the same way they don’t like the fact that their kids are all about their cool, young teacher.

Charlotte was way more packed, which made for excellent socializing and dancing on the lawn. You make a whole lot more new friends that way. ūüôā We also remembered the patchwork quilt that night, which is a huge conversation piece and friend-maker. Everyone wants a piece of that action at set break after grinding toes into grass and dirt.

Charlotte’s set list:

Set 1: Buried Alive > AC/DC Bag, Vultures, Wolfman’s Brother, Back on the Train, The Wedge, Mexican Cousin, Stash, Sparkle, Chalk Dust Torture

Set 2: Drowned, 46 Days, Twenty Years Later, The Lizards, Carini, Fuck Your Face, Also Sprach Zarathustra, You Enjoy Myself -> Proud Mary[1]

Encore: A Day in the Life

Wolfman’s Brother is Swamp’s all-time favorite, so it was cool to get that. For the first time ever, I called a song before he did (Wedge), and I was very disappointed Spar wasn’t there to high-five me and commemorate the 0ccasion. Since Swamp has been a fan for much longer than I have, it’s pretty much impossible to trump him, and I FINALLY DID IT! I was ecstatic. AC/DC Bag was a good sing-along. Mexican Cousin is one of mine and Swamp’s songs because of this lyric: “I’m awful sorry you got pissed! Just have to cross you off the list of my true friends. And tequila’s where it starts and where it ends!” Because we’re always getting in stupid fights and then making up and realizing our friendship is more important.

Highlights for me were Chalk Dust, YEM, and the a capella Proud Mary jam, which everyone was singing along to and jamming out and dancing hard. Made lots of friends on the lawn, from a cool kid with a YEM shirt I wanted and who gave lots of hugs and shared nugs (and stole my lighter, but that’s okay), to a guy behind us with a new Phish motif tattoo that honored his group of friends…a Penny Lane lookalike from Almost Famous and a¬† happy guy who COULD NOT STOP smiling. I felt the same way!

At one point, I went to get a beer, and there was all this cash on the ground in front of the beer stand. I picked it up and gave it to someone behind the counter, saying, “Can you hold this back here in case someone comes back for it?” Her response? “You guys are awesome. Out of all the concerts I’ve worked here, this is by far the coolest crowd. You’re just really good people!” I said, “I hope you’re also enjoying the music, because this is an awesome show so far!” And she said, “Yeah, I like this better than most of what I hear. Great night! Great crowd!”

And that pretty much sums up the Phish show experience for me. Random people being turned on by goodness and positivity and awesome music.

All I felt all night was love and happiness and joy and positivity and bliss. Who doesn’t want to be a part of that? I love my Phamily!

A Dream Came True!

Last night, Jen gave me her extra ticket to see Ladysmith Black Mambazo live in concert in Wait Chapel at Wake Forest University. It was literally one of the best things I’ve ever experienced in my entire life. It was a childhood dream come true!

When my parents bought the Paul Simon album Graceland in¬†1986, I commandeered the record player for months. I wanted it in my ears every waking moment,¬†and my dad bought me the cassette so I could listen to it in my Sony Walkman even when we weren’t at home. I played it over and over and over. My parents were so cool about it — they never made me take off the headphones, even in situations where it was really not appropriate to have them on (like visiting at the minister’s house), as long as I kept the music low enough that no one else could hear it. They didn’t even get annoyed when I sang along to it from the back of the minivan for the entire 7-hour drive to the beach that summer.

I’d never before heard anything quite like it, and I could not get enough. It introduced me to zydeco and African music. Ladysmith Black Mambazo were featured on many tracks and sang a couple of their own, and those were my favorite parts of the album. Their song Homeless was one of the first songs that made me feel¬†deep empathy for others¬†as a child, and that made me understand we are all the same people. The lyrics are almost all in Zulu, but the English words are:

Our father, please help us
We sleep in the cliff
It is very cold in the cliff
We are homeless
Homeless
The moonlight sleeping
on a midnight lake
Strong wind destroy our home
Many dead
Tonight it could be you

Ever since then, the more I’ve heard of their music, and the more I’ve learned about them as people, the more I’ve loved them. Their mission is to¬†educate the world about traditional¬†South African culture and¬†promote peace, love, and harmony. I never thought I’d get a chance to see them perform live, and they even did two of my favorites — Homeless and Shosholoza. They actually do radiate peace, love, and harmony. They are always smiling, joking around, and seem to have so much fun on stage. In between songs they did little comedy routines in thick South African accents, and also explained a little bit about some of the traditions of the songs. They incorporate some African dance into their performance, and it’s pretty impressive that Joseph Shabalala, the founder of the group who is now about 70 years old, can still do a mean high kick. At one point they brought a whole bunch of people of all ages up on stage to dance with them, doing a routine that they taught¬†on the spur of the moment. You would not believe how happy those people looked!

One thing that’s interesting about their music is that it’s not all traditional. They have written a lot of it, but it is based on the sound of traditional Zulu music. Also, I finally learned about the meaning of their name, which I can’t believe I never researched before. Ladysmith is the name of the town they are from originally. Black refers to the black oxen, which are considered to be the strongest of the herd. And Mambazo is the Zulu word for axe, because of their ability to chop down all their competition.

Actually one of the best nights of my life. If you ever get a chance to see them, GO! You will not be disappointed.

Musical Monday: Phish Reunion Trip

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A few months ago I was talking about not being able to get tickets to the Asheville show on the Phish summer reunion tour. That turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because my friend Swamp ended up getting tickets to TWO other shows, which allowed us to take a sweet road trip, visit some old friends, and see the band outdoors, which is preferable to us. Even though I’m still kicking myself for not taking the day off just to hang out in Asheville that day, because they closed off the streets downtown and created this huge hippie convergence. It was like a city-wide Shakedown Street. How fun!

First stop:¬†Washington, Pennsylvania, about 6 hours north of here.¬†The drive up there is some of my¬†favorite interstate scenery around. Whoever came up with that whole “Wild, Wonderful West Virginia” slogan was spot on! Beautiful¬†mountains.¬†Actually, I think they’re called hills there.

wild-hills

We stayed with some old friends, Cheryl and Shawn,¬†in Washpa (as the natives call it).¬†They are renovating a beautiful¬†old farm house¬†that sits on 100¬†acres or so.¬†We got to spend a little time getting acquainted with their new baby, Paul.¬†At almost 9 months,¬†he’s growing like a weed and is very smiley and¬†happy.¬†I should say that I spent some time with him, since Swamp does not touch babies and is hard to catch even looking at one, unless it is apprehensively. However, Swamp and Paul do share the same birthday: Halloween. People born on Halloween were thought by the ancient Celts to¬†possess supernatural powers, including the power to read dreams. I don’t know about the reading dreams part,¬†but I do think Swamp is particularly gifted with¬†intuition.¬†So maybe Paul understands intuitively that Swamp is afraid of babies and doesn’t take it personally. Let’s hope so!

We arrived (late, naturally) in the middle of a severe thunderstorm with tornado warnings. Cheryl¬†and Shawn had been trying frantically to call us to make sure we were safe, but I was too busy being nervous about tornadoes, and Swamp was too busy¬†exclaiming about how beautiful the lightning was to hear the phone ring.¬†We all¬†sat up late drinking Straubs¬†at the kitchen table with the lights out,¬†watching¬†lightning illuminate the fields through¬†enormous¬†windows. I presented a box full of Mellow Mushroom pretzels as a host gift — their one request from the great state of North Carolina — which turned out to be full of ants from Swamp’s car full of dirty camping gear. Shawn popped them in the oven anyway, which killed the ants, and then just brushed off their crispy dead bodies. Now that is my kind of fortitude! Upon inspecting the car later, we could not find a single ant anywhere.

We went with¬†Cheryl and Shawn¬†to the show in Burgettstown, PA. Shawn brought along the leftover pretzels, which everyone was pretty excited about, even though next-day Mellow Mushroom¬†crust is so hard it’s almost impossible to chew. Still tasted good!¬†On the way into the concert grounds,¬†Shawn was bragging to passersby about¬†them. We¬†stopped to listen to sound check, did some people-watching,¬†and made a¬†few laps around Shakedown, where Swamp was trying to sell or trade his extra tickets. It turned out that there were a lot of extras floating around, so he ended up trading one for a cool autographed photograph of Trey playing guitar alone on a stage, and he sold the other one for less than face.¬†We also ran into tons of other people we’ve known from various encounters and life situations. I had not seen most of them for about five years.

I’d like to give a shout-out to Warren, the group’s unofficial social ringleader, who said, “Hey, we met at¬†the camp out¬†party at Gibb’s, right? When Gruvbak performed?” I said, “I was at¬†that party, but we met up in Maine at IT, I think!” Warren, slapping his forehead: “Oh, yeah! I remember! My kid brother’s first acid trip —¬† all that mud! — that insanely huge¬†glowstick war! — and you and Gibb pissed off about getting bad shrooms! Man, so awesome to see you again!” The whole evening contained many similar encounters. It was like a big family reunion, and I don’t think I stopped smiling all night. Except maybe when my parents, who were dog-sitting, called me to say Birdy had gone to the vet due to not eating and throwing up, and she had hookworm. I was not smiling then.

btown

The amphitheater is now “owned” by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but everyone up there still calls it by its old name: Star Lake. That was the second Phish show I had seen at that particular venue. It’s a cool place. Good show…pretty substantial glowstick war. Vacuum-solo from Fishman, which I probably could have done without. He’s such a terrible singer. But I do love his polka-dot dress. Hearing the boys live again after so long a hiatus was amazing and thrilling, and now that Trey’s off the blow, the performance had a whole new dimension of upbeat positive fun.

Music Phish Fenway

You can hear in his playing and in his voice, and especially in his off-the-cuff stage banter that he’s¬†in a good place now, and it definitely projects onto the crowd in a new way that was very pleasant. I also have to say I am quite impressed with the new songs that will be on the next studio album, Joy. I love almost all of them. It’s a little bit of a different approach for their sound, but I like where it’s going so far. Swamp would tell you, with a conflicted expression, “It’s so poppy.” But it’s good, and he¬†thinks so, too. ¬†At Star Lake, they played a lot of my favorites, but I was especially happy to hear Chalk Dust Torture, Bouncing Around the Room, Harry Hood, Free. There were also some screw-ups and hilarity ensued — from Phish.net:

About halfway through Grind, they were singing in the wrong key and some (Fishman) couldn’t hit the correct notes. They stopped, laughing, and huddled, trying to decide whether to re-start Grind again in the correct key or start something else. The crowd knew this because the band was too close to the mics and the crowd could hear the conversation. Trey realizes this and says,”Can you guys hear what we’re saying when we are talking?” Crowd goes nuts and Trey says, “It was supposed to be a secret but Page blew the wrong note.” They try to restart Grind, but it never happens and they huddle again, with Trey saying,”Hold on, don’t go away.” Crowd goes nuts again. After almost a minute, they step up to the mic with Trey saying,”If this doesn’t work, Fish will sing Bike for you.” They start Hello My Baby, but it is scrapped after 30 seconds because the band is laughing hysterically, and Trey proclaims, “And Fish will now sing Bike for you,” and runs to the drum kit to start HYHU. Fish gets vacuum, goes center stage and says,”Welcome to the train wreck portion of the show. I hope everyone is enjoying it as much as we are. Maybe I’ll remember some of the words to this song.” Before going into Bike (forgetting a number of the lyrics) w/ vacuum solo at the end, then Jon did an intro of the band (introducing himself last as Henrietta). Then Trey came back out, and they did Loving Cup.

Here’s¬† a pic of Swamp and me on the lawn waiting for the show to start:

us

burgets

The next morning, we got up super-early and stumbled out half-asleep to hit the road again. It was crappy not to be able to spend more time with our friends in Washington. But another show was waiting! We drove another 5 1/2 hours up to Noblesville, Indiana — home of the famous Deer Creek Amphitheater! Actually, I think it’s now called Verizon Wireless something-or-other, but just like with Star Lake, everyone still calls it by the much cooler former¬†name. We were a little bit late getting in due to getting a little bit lost on the way. (If any of you know Swamp, you know he never gets lost or anything. Ahem.) To be fair, the Mapquest directions were sort of wrong.¬†One of Swamp’s work friends, Bo, drove up from NC as well. We met up with him at¬†a campground just a few miles from the venue. It was a cool place. I would recommend it if you ever go see a show at Deer Creek. It was pretty large, and on the way in, I was a little anxious about the number of nitrous tanks I saw…didn’t want to be trapped in that kind of crowd with no walls around me. But it turned out to be fine.

The show at Deer Creek was pretty amazing. Hanging out with Bo in the lot beforehand, we were trying to figure up how many shows we’d seen. Deer Creek was my 12th or 13th Phish¬†show, depending on how you want to count up IT (3 days of Phish in Maine, 2003) —¬†a number which¬†is totally unimpressive to most hardcore Phans. I think it was Swamp’s 20th or 21st Phish show. And what an adventure. Towards the end of the first set, we started seeing all kinds of beautiful¬†lightning in the sky –horizontal branches reflecting wide curtains of light off¬†dense cloud backdrops.¬†They appeared in a very precise order, forming a circle around the amphitheater. The crowd roared at every lightning flash, which came often.

Horizontal-Lightning

At around 10:00 pm, Page came onstage and said he had been asked to read a weather service report, which was basically a severe thunderstorm warning. He said everyone on the lawn was to go back to their cars, and everyone under the covered part of the pavilion should stay in their seats. I was getting a little bit worried at that point, because I have a terrible tornado phobia, and since we were in flat-as-a-pancake Indiana…but Swamp, as always, calmed me down.

rain

Our tickets were for actual seats, but we had been sitting on the lawn for the entire first set because, well, blending into the crowd is easier that way and necessary for some activities. Most people, like any good (and in this case, foolish) hippie rebels were staying put on the lawn. But when the rain started, we moved to the pavilion seats, which just happened to be on the very last row and not covered by the roof. The second set was delayed by over an hour, and we were overjoyed to find that the wind was blowing so fiercely it was shooting the rain right off the roof onto the lawn behind us, instead of down onto our uncovered heads.

Swamp and I had totally different takes on the set that followed. I was all jazzed up and energized by the storm and the shared crowd excitement, and I wanted to hear some really energized music to complement that vibe. But what we got was a mellowed-out, deep groove that Swamp found to be the absolute perfect response to the storm’s fury and the crowd’s frenzy: A Song I Heard The Ocean Sing > Drowned > Twist, Let Me Lie, Tweezer > 2001 > Suzy Greenberg > Possum > E: Sleeping Monkey > Tweezer Reprise.

The music brought us all back down to a chill place.¬†Swamp says it’s still his favorite set of the two shows. I haven’t listened to it much since we got back, mainly because I’ve been too obsessed with the first set of that show that contained several of my favorites: Backwards Down the Number Line, AC/DC Bag, Limb By Limb, The Moma Dance, Water In The Sky, Split Open and Melt, Lawn Boy, The Wedge, Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan, The Connection, Ocelot, Fluffhead. But also because I’d like to wait for another good hard thunderstorm to put it on and relive it.

rain2

When the show ended, it was still pouring rain. I mean, pouring. We had to hoof it back to the car, which was probably a mile away. We were all drenched to the bone. I had a poncho, but I didn’t even put it on, because it was raining so hard I couldn’t see anything anyway. Not to mention the venue’s band curfew is 11:00 pm, and the second set started at 11:00, so when we came out, all the lights were off, and it was a mad scene of people trying to hold onto their friends¬†and not lose each other¬† — I don’t know if I couldn’t have found the way back to the car by myself, personally. All this¬†in utter darkness made darker by driving rain slamming against your eyelids. I mean, soaked doesn’t even begin to describe it. But it felt SO GOOD! What an adventure!¬†It was like a complimentary shower from nature for tons of dirty hippies, and falling asleep in the tent that night I almost felt like I’d just had a bath.

dont-drive-3

Bo had not planned on staying overnight at the campground, as he had family living¬†in the vicinity. Unfortunately, none of the roads in the campground were paved, and all that torrential rain turned the whole place into a big mudpit. Bo’s car (along with countless others) got stuck, and¬†no one¬†had¬†any luck getting him out. He had to camp and wait for a local guy with a tractor to pull him out the next morning. We had parked¬†our car and¬†tent on relatively high ground, so we didn’t get stuck, and we slept nice and dry. Despite people setting off firecrackers beside our tent and sleeping next to an actual stage with an actual band playing all night (I guess hired by the campground for entertainment?), I actually slept really well.

The next morning we drove right out, blaring early-morning Michael Franti, on the very same road that had been like quicksand the night before. I brushed my teeth in a gas station bathroom while wearing my pajamas, while getting strange looks from people, and wondering why people were so bothered by it. Then it was back on the road, 10  hours back to NC, with a hiking stop in West Virginia on the way.

And that is what I did on my summer vacation. It was awesome.

Musical Monday: Pixies

pixies

The first concert I ever attended was U2 (Zooropa Tour) at the Charlotte Coliseum in 1989. I was in 7th grade. I went with my parents and the oldest son of my parents’ best friends. We were all huge U2 fans, and it was an awesome show. My mom was maybe the biggest fan of us all — she loved Bono and listened to U2 records almost every night while she made dinner and I wrote my spelling words over and over.¬†The concert¬†was even on a school night, and I got to leave school early so we could make the 90 minute drive to Charlotte. I have the coolest parents ever. Can you believe I wasn’t even embarrassed to be there with them? In 7th grade?¬†

The opening band that night was the Pixies. At that age, I couldn’t really appreciate what I was hearing. I was looking at Frank Black screaming on stage and thinking, “This is noise.” I mean, at the time I was listening primarily to early Beatles records, so I just wasn’t there yet. Since then I’ve realized how amazingly innovative they were/are. Mainly¬†due to¬†repeated exposure by an ex-boyfriend who considered them The Best Band Ever. They grew on me slowly, but now I love them. I love the fact that you can’t really compare them to any other band. They have a sound and style that is completely unique. Definitely one of the most influential and important bands of the last 20 years. And I don’t care if you disagree. Even Kurt Cobain said Nirvana would never have existed without the Pixies. This DVD of the 2004 reunion tour is freakin’ awesome. Been thinking about it a lot lately and wanting to watch it again. If you haven’t seen it, you need to.

World Travel Wednesday: Red Rocks

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Hands down, the coolest venue at which I’ve ever attended a concert. I saw String Cheese Incident there in July 2002. Highlights included the enormous sandstone formations everywhere, the steepness which provides a good view from every seat, and the view of the Denver skyline behind the stage. Very good memories.

Musical Monday: Ben Harper Live at the Paramount

ben

Ben Harper is one of the few musicians on my “To See Live” list that I have not seen yet. He doesn’t tour much in¬†our area.¬†He used to come to Asheville once in a while, but it would inevitably sell out in like 2 minutes, and I would be too poor to go anyway. He is one of my all-time favs and one of the few I categorize as “I never get tired of it.” Recently my friend recorded this show for me (random act of kindness) since I am not as technologically advanced as he is in the¬†arena of television and don’t do all that DVR/Tivo stuff. It was about an hour long (which I assume was maybe the first set of the show because I’d be pissed if I went to see him and he only played for an hour). Live at the Paramount Theater in Seattle, from November 2007. I’ve seen/heard several live performances (recordings) of his, but not since the last couple of albums were released. This show featured several of those newer tunes that I had not heard live versions of yet. AWESOME. Just love him.

My next opportunity to see Ben and his new band, the Relentless7, is at the All Good Festival in West Virginia this summer. We’re batting around the idea of heading up there, because it’s the best line-up for a festival within driving distance for us that we’ve seen in a long time. (Update: we’re definitely going! I’m so excited!) One of Swamp’s favorite bands, Sound Tribe Sector 9, is also playing that festival, and as they are a San Francisco band, they’re hard to catch near us more than once a year. They were also in Asheville a couple months ago, but we couldn’t skip work to go. I’m also excited about the possibility of seeing Tea Leaf Green (another San Francisco band I really like), Yonder Mountain, Dark Star, Umphrey’s McGee, Galactic, and a bunch of others. I can do without Keller Williams and moe. If only Jack Johnson was going to be there, I could pretty much die happy. Still waiting for Jack to send me a personal invite to Hawaii…Jack…are you reading this? I am awesome at ping pong and chilling¬†on the beach…

Oh well. If anyone else is up for a road trip in July for some sweet music, let me know! Festivals mean the more the merrier.