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Tuesday, December 30, 2003

The Jet City Fix "Fire it Up" with new album

As the year comes to a close we all remember the tragedy that could have been that was averted by quick acting on the part of our local Fine Line staff on February 17th. (Click here for my story on that.)

The Jet City Fix who started the fire with their pyrotechnics are set to release their absurdly-titled album "Play to Kill," the last song on which bears the name "Fire it Up," something they are clearly familiar with.

See the details on their message board .

If said titles are a joke, I'm not sure the musicians and club owners of Minneapolis quite get it, not to mention the families and friends of the people who died at a Great White concert in New Jersey just days after our near miss here.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Airwaves Dream

Mei Young tries to hide behind the microphone at KQ Sunday night.

I returned to radio on Sunday night (after an absence of about 17 years) with an appearance on KQRS's Homegrown program with Mei Young and David Campbell. Ben Weaver was this week's musical guest. We talked a little about Ben's recent tour of England and how traditional American music has been so well received in Europe in recent years. As an example of that, I pointed out that a month or so ago I'd posted the track listing of a mix CD of recent local music called "Look Ma No Prince" that I'd made for my friend Andrew Zincke in London. Though the mix CD was mostly pop and rock the heartbreaking country ballad Big Ditch Road tune "Not To Me" was a stand out track for Andrew who liked it so much he included it on a mix tape for his father. (On the other end of the spectrum, however, another stand out track for him was "Are You For Real?" by Astronaut Wife.)

Ben Weaver will make his first live appearance since his return from another successful European tour with an appearance at the Turf Club on Saturday night as part of another installment the Heartbreak and Harmony showcase, this one also featuring Kid Dakota and the Ashtray Hearts.

Monday, December 01, 2003

Minneapolis plays Milwaukee

Details on Saturday's fun in Milwaukee will follow, but just to wet your whistle, here are a couple pictures I took about 2:30 a.m. Saturday night outside the Onopa Brewing Company on Center Street in Milwaukee, Wisconsin after Faux Jean's final show with Jean Angel and Faux Wayne.

Members of Faux Jean, the Hang Ups and the Melismatics in Milwaukee on Saturday night (click for full size)

Sean Hoffman of Faux Jean and Marcel Galang of the Hang Ups (click for full size)

Thursday, November 27, 2003

The Second Busiest Bar Night of the Year

I guess I never knew that the night before Thanksgiving is the second busiest bar night of the year. But I should have guessed it from seeing all the "amateurs" crowding the streets of downtown on Wednesday night. It was so crowded on 1st Avenue that the Imperial Room, where Jake Rudh was hosting his regular Wednesday night Transmission, was at capacity. I had to stand outside for 10 minutes before being even allowed in the door.

Metric at First Avenue

Down the street at First Avenue it was no less packed. Metric was onstage opening for Ike Reilly. This was the first time I'd heard this Vancouver-based band fronted by Emily Haines. Just last week (11/18) they'd opened for fellow Canadians Hot Hot Heat at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver. Metric delivered a show full of old new wave charm and with great energy. Their most recent album, issued Old World Underground, Where Are You Now? was released earlier this year on the Everloving label.

Emily Haines performs with Metric at First Avenue Wednesday

The Belfast Cowboys

Next door in the Entry, The Belfast Cowboys (fronted by Terry Walsh, who also fronts Terry Walsh and the 2 a.m.) were performing a kick ass all Van Morrison all the time set.

And down the road at Lee's Liquor Lounge, 2 Ticket 2 Paradise were doling out covers by a wider variety of bands including the ever popular Cheap Trick.

Details to follow.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Have some free music on Ol' Yeller

Rich Mattson writes in a Thanksgiving email:

"I keep forgetting to mention, our German friends at Blue Rose Records have put our "COUNTRY" cd up on their site--this is a FREE downloadable album, and they have also included cover art! Go directly to and burn one today!"

I'm listening to this album now whilst the color printer spits out a copy of the cover art. This is great down to earth country music as only Ol Yeller can do it. And you can't beat the price.

Mattson also writes, "Coming up in December, we'll have a string of shows promoting the release of "Iron Country", a Duluth-based compilation of country-style songs. We did a quasi-political rant/song called "Mob Rule" that is bound to get us on some government charts if anything..

Also in December I'm getting the GLENRUSTLES back together for a couple of shows in the Twin Cities: December 19 at the Turf, and December 20 at Mayslack's. Don't worry, I'll remind you.. We're assembling a c.d. of some of the old cassette demos and lost artifacts for the occasion, even meeting with JIM KENNEDY's people to discuss his appearance at the shows.."

This is the year for re-unions, and a Glenrusltles re-union will be another one for us old farts to enjoy.

Does this quotation from Mark Twain make you think of any recent Minnesota music related event?

"It is better to deserve honors and not have them than to have them and not to deserve them."

-- Mark Twain "

Sunday, November 23, 2003


I'm going to take the fact that Minneapolis is suddenly buried in about six inches of snow as a sign I should stay in a for a while and catch up. I think I'll work backwards...

Last night was one of the first night's in a while I've managed to make it to every one of my recommended shows.


Karen O in a photo by Matt Schmidt, who braved the front of the crowd

First stop was the Yeah Yeah Yeah's at First Avenue, another all ages show, which when crowded like the Shins last week can be extremely irritating. However, I'm not drinking these days and you can still get a Red Bull downstairs so that was easy enough to cope with.

The Yx3's show was not as crowded as the Shins the week before. I spent most of the show trying to figure out if it was a great show or one of the most boring I'd seen in months. I'm told that up front in the midst of the crowd the energy was incredible, and I'll take Matt Schmidt and several others word for that.

Another of Matt's shots of Karen O

Karen O shows the microphone who's boss

The Yeah Yeah Yeah's are not the same as the White Stripes despite obvious similarities. (No bass.) Nick Zinner's guitar is more on the metal side whereas Jack White keeps more friendly company with the blues. I'd never seen the Yeah Yeah Yeah's before so I'm not sure if Karen O's laughter is always as breathy or if she was a little punchy because of her birthday. Har Mar Superstar, just returned from a successful UK tour, introduced the band, and brought out a birthday cake with 25 candles just before the encore.

Whatever you make of the Yeah Yeah Yeah's, Karen O is a charismatic and strong front woman.

Friends Like These

Before hitting Mel Gibson and his Pants and the Har Mar Superstar welcome home show at the Triple Rock I was able to drop into the 400 Bar for about 1/2 hour and see Friends Like These. I swear that these guys get better and better every time I see them live. Always solid in the studio, they have started recording their next album. Relentless in their performing, they are becoming (if they aren't already) one of the best live bands in the Twin Cities, and probably one of the best horses we have running in the realm of original rock here in Minnesota.

Har Mar Superstar

He's baaaaacccckkk! I was luckily on the guest list for this one because the show sold out nearly two hours before Har Mar took the stage at midnight. Locals Mel Gibson and his Pants did a bangup job of warming up the house for him. Har Mar arrived through the front door a little after 11 and I finally got the chance to glad-hand him after chasing him around the Witnness Festival in Ireland this summer. (See my interview with him and other in this week's Pulse Twin Cities.)

Har Mar came onstage claiming he'd been doing the same set for so long he was bored with it. "Don't fucking clap," he said, "It's patronizing." "I'm so fucking bored," and "This is my fucking job," were other remarks delivered totally deadpan you'd almost think he was serious, but I'll be damned if he didn't have me and Mei Young from KQ laughing our asses off by the rail where we were standing.

Har Mar was fucking around a little more than he did the last few times I've seen him, but from what I could see, it was working. Always one step ahead of the critics, this guy has never failed to entertain. Whatever you might think of him, and I know many even of my own friends who can't stand the guy, I remain in a position of the utmost professional respect for what he's done to put Minneapolis back on the international music map.

Saturday, November 15, 2003

More Anti-Fashion District Fashion Show

Fashion by Emma Johnson

I may be slow, but I'm true to my word. Here are another couple dozen non-Anna Lee photos from Tuesday November the 11th's fashion show at the Fine Line.

Next promise: I'll fill in the names of the designers and add some captions to the pictures soon.

Click here or on the photo above for the full set.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Anti-Fashion District Fashion show at the Fine Line

The latest hat from Anna Lee - Click the image above
or here for more photos of Ms. Lee's work from this show.

The Anti-Fashion District fashion show at the Fine Line might have been better if it had been 30-40 minutes shorter than it was. Tuesday's show clocked in at just under 1 hour and 45 minutes, and I'd hazard to guess that designers showing their wares in the last 30 minutes didn't receive nearly the attention of those who came earlier in the night. It wasn't that the models didn't hustle their way on and off the stage. (I talked to many who felt they were actually moving too fast. ) Perhaps the time between designers could have been cut, or a max time per designer of 7 minutes max could have been suggested. Music could have been faded and segued into new songs quicker instead of designers waiting for the start of a new song to start marching their models across the stage.

The music itself, however, was expertly chosen, mostly provided by DJ Jake Rudh. I really dug hearing everything from Flock of Seagulls to Ladytron, and I didn't realize how much I missed hearing Revenge by Ministry until it was played at dance club volume last night. Overall, for a first foray into this type of show, Matt Halman did an excellent job of putting all the pieces together.

I had a great seat for the show, appropriating a table front and center clearly marked "Reserved for Steve Marsh" (of the City Pages), as Steve arrived a few minutes late, wondering why all the tables up front were filled. Thanks Steve!

I shot 10 fewer than a gross (144) digital photos last night and haven't had a chance to go through them all yet. But as an unabashed (er, proud) fan of Anna Lee of Ruby3 I offer these humble photos up for your consumption while I sort through the rest.

I'll post the best of the rest in the next few days.

Oh, and anyone who stayed for the rock show that followed, feel free to email me and let me know how it went.

Monday, November 10, 2003

Joanna James at the Fine Line and Jonas Motherf**cker at the Entry

I've just returned from an early Monday night out in the city, stopping by Joanna James gig at the Fine Line where she opened up the evening's music.

I caught James for the first time when she opened for Ben Connelly at the Bryant Lake Bowl a few weeks ago. On the Fine Line's full size stage and with full size sound, James more has no trouble looking and sounding at home.

Lizzy Brown (left) with Joanna James

James was joined again by her friend Lizzy Brown for "Ride," and they also performed one I don't recall hearing at the BLB, an a song she wrote for Jeff Buckley (because she loves him) called "Echoes of You." James dug out the accordian for this song, which was another bonus.
She said she and Brown had been in the studio earlier in the day recording this one. James debut release is expected in Spring 2004 and I for one am looking forward to it.

James makes it look light, but that accordion is heavy

I wandered the club a bit, and from what I could see, James had quite the contingent of fans present who were thoroughly enjoying the show quietly, listening to every nuance. It was therefore unfortunate when the fans of the rest of the evening's bands, and even some of the band members themselves arrived and began talking a little too loudly, forcing me to move closer and closer to the front of the club again to avoid being distracted.

James finished too early at about 8:50, clearly having more material left. Shouts of one more song from no fewer than 3 places in the room surely warranted an encore. But that was not to be.

From the Fine Line I walked up the the Entry to see if I could catch a bit of Mars to Mercury on their drummer Saun Sauder's invitation (and damn, I forgot to ask him how his plans for an all Smiths cover band are shaping up.) But the schedule had changed, and someone named Jonas Funny Motherfucker (or something) was doing a stand up routine from 9:15 to 10.

I'd describe JFM as offensive, disgusting, and downright sick at times, as well as being disturbingly funny on occasion considering his complete lack of regard for political correctness. Ever feel ashamed to be laughing because your conscience is telling you should be walking out the door?

Where You Should Be Tomorrow Night

I didn't hear a single note of Mars to Mercury as I left before 10 to drop off an apple pie from a recent evening of baking for Anna Lee to feed to her models and stylists during tomorrow's Anti-Fashion District show tomorrow night at the Fine Line. (In case you weren't aware, that is where you should be tomorrow night. )

The local fashion designers showing their work include Chrystina Hanson, $teve Hutton, Barrett Johanneson, Emily Johnson, Erin Knutson, Ann Marie De Lathouder, Anna Lee (of Ruby3), Emily Litjens, Azure Marlowe, Lynn Sabin and the MPLS Sewing Collective.

Music includes a set by DJ extraordinaire Jake Rudh and live music by Red Satyrs, A Bomb Nation, Audrey, Producal and the final performance by Ice-Rod. Don't miss this.

The Pie

In an effort to make the appearance of the pie less than gratuitous in this review, I offer youo the link to the recipe for this delicious Dutch Apple Pie. (Thanks go out to Aleah for the link and her coaching/help in this effort.

The pie, in process, balanced precariously on the edge of the counter.

The final product. Yes, I always bake in shiny velour zip up shirts from Gabriella's boutique.

Saturday, November 08, 2003

The Full "Mourning" Moon just passing out of total eclipse as viewed in Minneapolis - 7:30 p.m. CDT November 8th, 2003

The eclipse as viewed from my deck. Click for larger version.

Monday, October 27, 2003

How I Spent the first annual Wellstone World Music Day

There was so much going on Saturday for the first annual Paul and Sheila Wellstone World Music Day that my head was literally swimming while weighing my options. Music had started in some places as early as 10 a.m. and bars like Lee’s and the Turf Club both had all-star shows that kicked off in mid afternoon. In some cases it looked like this could have been called Paul and Sheila Wellstone Drink Too Much All Day Day. But how you chose to honor or not honor the one year anniversary of the Wellstones’ deaths is your business.

After Prairie Home Companion in the late afternoon (review forthcoming) I caught about 5 minutes of the action at Lee's Liquor Lounge before being overcome by claustrophobia in the huge crowd. So I left downtown and headed for the less-crowded Uptown bar.

Headlining at the Uptown were Minneapolis-based Iowa transplants Boy with Stick. BWS is a young band who met at Luther College in Decorah and moved to Minneapolis in 2002. They have a pleasing sound and an energetic stage show. Adamchrismichaelshawn, as they are apt to sign their emails, have a clear talent in their poppy sound that leads me to peg than as a kind of young Rex Daisy. With time to flower (no pun intended) there should be a new kick-ass member of the Minneapolis passion pop scene in not so long. The boy's are working on a full-length album with producer John Hermanson (Alva Star, Friends Like These) which should be out in the spring. In the meantime they have a few rough MP3's on their website at

Boy with Stick performed Saturday at the Uptown Bar

I talked to BWS guitarist/singer Adam Svec a bit after the show saying I wouldn't write a full review of Saturday’s show but that I would definitely let people know it's safe to go out and see these guys.

After a quick jaunt to the CC Club it was off to Pete Scholtes party. The keg was already gone by the time we arrived, but in the true Wellstone sprit of taking care of each other we all managed to find enough to drink somehow. (I found one bottle of Stella Artois that I shared out with 3 other people. A gin and tonic left on a utility sink hours before was remembered by another guest and whet the whistle of 4-5 more. And Mark Baumgarten former Lost Cause editor, who was in town for the weekend from Portland, pulled a bottle of Jameson seemingly out of nowhere giving us still another reason to canonize him as if there already weren’t enough.

Monday, October 20, 2003

The Lost Art of the Mix Tape

Maybe it was Glen Hansard of the Frames talking about making a mix tape years ago for a girl in Ireland he'd taken a fancy to (in hopes of getting a little snog, he said) that got me thinking about it. How long has it really been since I assembled a collection of music for someone else, or for myself for that matter?

Too long.

I'm sure more people are making mix CD's than tapes these days. A mix (whatever the media) puts songs in new contexts for you, enables you to share music with others in a far more personal way than Napster. Heaven forbid the RIAA attempt to crack down on mix makers who traffic in small quantities of copyrighted material.

Some months ago I promised to send a sampling of Minnesota Music to my friend Andrew Zincke in London. This past week I finally finished it and got it in the mail. The thing was, I enjoyed the final product so much that I can't stop listening to it myself and have even made a couple extra copies for friends. (I doubt the RIAA will come tearing after me with sirens blaring as most of the music on this CD is not only not from major label artists, as you will see, but artists which might actually be considered "unsigned.")

If anyone who's reading this has recently assembled any great mix tapes along any theme of note, I'd be interested in seeing a song listing.

Here's my mix, aptly titled "Look Ma, No Prince!"

1. Polara - Jet Pack Blues
2. The Soviettes - Bottom's Up Bottomed Out
3. Jonas - God Shagged the Queen
4. The Autumn Leaves - Maria's Hat (my current favorite song!)
5. Friends Like These - Heaven
6. The Beatifics - Sorry Yesterdays
7. Big Ditch Road - Not To Me
8. Luke's Angels - One Small Glimpse
9. Raven - Something's Not Right
10. Dan Israel - Overloaded
11. The Rake's - New Clown in Town
12. Ben Weaver - The Woodpecker Song
13. Work of Saws - The Pious Flats
14. Revolver Modele - Silhouettes
15. Astronaut Wife - Are You For Real?
16. Har Mar Superstar - Power Lunch
17. The Monarques - Who?
18. Mike Gunther - Redemption #4
19. The Replacements - The Ledge
20. The Jayhawks - Waiting for the Sun

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Jimi Hendrix doll available in time for Christmas

In celebration of what would have been Jimi Hendrix's 61st birthday on November 27th, 2003 you can buy the 6 inch tall Jimi Hendrix Action figure. The standard figure is expected to retail for $12-15, and the deluxe box for about $20.


Sunday, October 12, 2003

I sing on the new Elbow album!

Yours truly is credited with backing vocals on Elbow's 2003 V2 Release, Cast of Thousands

Anna Lee is in London again this week. She just can't seem to stay away. Though she's hanging in my favorite town on earth, she's still disappointed she'll be missing tonight's Joe Henry show at the Fine Line that I will be covering for howwastheshow. This will be Joe Henry's first appearance since he played "This Afternoon," the moody first track from his new album "Tiny Voices" on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno Friday night. Opening for Henry at the Fine Line will be Minneapolis super group "The High Heels," featuring Bard Meier, Steve Price and Jerry Anderson.

From London, Anna Lee also writes in an email today: "I got your Elbow cd and yes, your name is certainly listed in it." Yea! I actually made the liner notes of Elbow's 2003 V2 release "Cast of Thousands" for the backing vocals I (and many others) lent to the song "Grace Under Pressure" at 2002's Glastonbury Festival. As the song ends, listen for me on the refrain, "We still believe in love, so fuck you!" I don't think I've belted out a repeated line like that with so much passion since I similarly screamed along with the Buzzcocks to the line, "There is no love in this world anymore!"

Don't believe me about my being on the CD yet? Open up the inside jacket, and you'll see my name to the left of the lyrics to "Fugitive Motel" right between the lines "From my room in my fugitive motel" and "Somewhere in the dust bowl," right by the crease in the CD jacket.

Monday, October 06, 2003

A few images from the Destijl/Freedom From Festival of Music

This weekend's Destijl/Freedom From Festival of Music sucked me in in ways I couldn't have imagined beforehand. Unfamiliar with the majority of the acts, I warmed to most of them immediately. Curiosity, and the fact that I felt like I'd miss something incredible if I left kept me at the Fine Line for longer than I'd planned on both Saturday and Sunday. Ultimately, I placed myself in the hands of serendipity, discovering what I discovered and leaving it at that. I came away with a better understanding of underground music than I had before. And one things is for sure: although some of what I heard this weekend might have been as close to noise as it was to music, it was some of the finest, most interesting and creative noise I've heard in some time.

Cheers to Clint Simonson and Matthew St-Germaine for staging this great festival again this year, and kudos to the Fine Line staff for their great job in playing host to this event.

Below are a few pictures I snapped at the festival.

Sadly, I missed Bridget St-John. If anyone has any photos, I'd love to see them.

Left to right: Jim O'Rourke, Chris Corsano, Thurston Moore (click for full size)

Paul Flaherty arrives and the trio becomes the 4 piece AKA the Chris Corsano/ Paul Flaherty /
Jim O'Rourke / Thurston Moore Aktion Unit (click for full size)

Erika Elder and Matthew Valentine as the Mvee Medicine Show

Chicago's Metalux

More Metalux

Milwaukee's Neon Hunk managed to be weird even within the context of an already weird collection of acts. (click for full size)

Another shot of Neon Hunk(click for full size)

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

"I'm Feeling Just a Little Overloaded", or "So much music, so little time!"

Monarques rock the Entry at their CD Release Party
Friday 9/26 - Photo by David de Young (click for full size)

Mike Gunther preaches to the choir at the Entry
Friday 9/26 - Photo by David de Young (click for full size)

Dana Thompson lulls the Triple Rock into submission
Saturday 10/27 - Photo by David de Young (click for full size)

This weekend I saw some old local favorites (Monarques, Dana Thompson, Rob Skoro) and saw some great acts belatedly for the first time (Mike Gunther, Jeff Hanson, and Portland's All Girl Summer Fun Band.) And then there was the Sound Unseen film festival featuring Spectrum, videos by local bands and filmakers that felt like watching MTV except that all my friends were on. Wow, so much great stuff that I haven't had time to write a word about yet over at howwastheshow.

(The) Monarques are picking up speed with the release of their new EP "My Imaginary Move." Monarques must also be credited with assembling this great bill Friday which included Mike Gunther and Davey Jones-voiced singer/songwriter Jeff Hanson.

Saturday night I was enthralled by Dana Thompson's performance at the Triple Rock. I must say I'm chomping at the bit awaiting her soon to be released CD, which will include backup vocals from Robert Skoro. The CD is under tight wraps as final mixing is being done.

Writer and musician Nancy Jane Meyer is one of a select few people outside the producer and musicians involved who has heard the work in progress. She told me in an email this morning:

"It's fabulous--subtle, merging harmonies, tempo tensions that play and pull back and forth like only old school country can, sincere lyrics with a world-weary naivete, a contradiction that in men usually results in blank cynicism but with Dana, evolves into ballads and lullabies buoyed by guarded optimism crossed with sweet regrets. And the tunes are damn catchy--they'll give 'Tailspin' a run for its money in no time."

At Saturday's show, I myself was struck by Thompson's impeccable rhythm and pacing in addtion to her captivating voice. After a 9 song set that included several songs from the upcoming CD, Thompson asked "Do we have time for one more?" A voice was heard to loudly proclaim, "I hope so!" Then I immediately recognized that voice as my own.

Help me out here

Sometimes I'm overwhelmed just trying to keep up with what's going on in the local and national music scenes, and that's even before I make an effort to assemble any cohesive, semi-intelligent prose about it that's worthy of publishing. In that information overload coupled with still feeling out of the loop, I'd like to give myself a break by publishing some of your thoughts for a change.

I'm interested in hearing what people do to keep up with what's going on in local and national music.

I'll start by mentioning a few of the things I do to try and stay informed:

  • I listen to Jason Nagel's Minnesota Music and Brian Oake's Freedom Rock program on Cities 97 every week without fail. (I usually tape them both and listen to them a few times.)
  • I browse through the Alternative Shows List and check for informational headlines list on a regular basis
  • I listen to as frequently as possible. (Here's a whacked out idea. Our firewall at work blocks internet radio, so I tape it onto cassette at home and listen to it in my car and on a work boombox!)
  • Radio K's off the record is about as good a place as any to find out what's up for the weekend.
  • I also keep an eye on the Twin Cities Babelogue for postings by Melissa Maerz or Pete Scholtes.

I do all this, and I still feel like I'm in the dark sometimes. Send your tips to and I'll start publishing some of the ideas in the next week.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Part 1: Artamotive. Part 2: Bottlehouse calls it quits with final Fine Line show

Everyone suffers from motivation problems from time to time, and I’m no different. It hasn’t helped my show-going that I continue to battle a cold that has been lingering for nearly a month. About the last place a recent ex-smoker worn down by a cold who’s trying to save money wants to be is a smoky bar. So last week, instead of going out and seeing shows I gave a much-needed face lift. On the outside chance we actually win an MMA award and new folks flock to the site, perhaps they won’t be as perplexed as to why we won out (if we win) over much more professional-looking sites like and

Somehow Saturday night, however, with the help of a couple cans of Red Bull, I actually managed to get my ass out the door. Had I written about it (which I didn’t) Saturday night's showverdose during which I saw 7 or 8 bands in 3 different venues could have made up for a week's worth of writer’s drought.

The first event I failed to cover was my stop at Artamotive, the N.E. Minneapolis Art Gallery that this month is showcasing "The Art of Rock and Roll." In addition to its regular fare of fashion design, wearable and fine art, home décor and art cards, Saturday’s meet the artists reception featured music art and photography and live music from Jonas, Dander and one of my new local favorites, Luke's Angels.

Dander in their Jammies at Artamotive (click for full size)

I was too late to see Jonas, but Dander put on an energetic set in highly-fashionable matching pajamas, purchased, according to drummer Pete Boulger, in the women’s section of Target. Dander’s set showed yet again why it’s hard to touch these guys for a good time party atmosphere. Standing in the front row of the crowd, I was honored to be greeted personally by lead vocalist Shane Flannery between songs with, "David, good to see you." (There’s nothing like being recognized by the band at an artsy event. Hell, maybe things like this, plus the fact that I was recently called a “scenester” by the Star Tribune mean I’ve finally “arrived.” Though where I’ve arrived, I’m not quite sure.)

Luke's Angels was a second to last minute replacement for The Idle Hands, who had to back out of their scheduled slot, which was originally to be an all Plasma Entertainment showcase. If the rumor that key members of the Idle Hands had gone on a fishing expedition is true, I say more power to them. And that got me on a weird tangent where I came up with this great idea of giving the Idle Hands their own fishing show on TNN and they could drink and talk about rock and roll and fish, and … well, maybe not.

The mix didn’t due justice to Luke's Angel's great harmonies, but it was still a good set and good exposure for the band I have high hopes for this next year.

After L.A.’s set, I accompanied Raven over to the Fine Line where he wanted to help bid farewell to band The Bottlehouse who were to play their final gig at midnight. Members of the Bottlehouse, minus singer Karl Obermeyer, will be forming a new band shortly with Emily Olson as the lead singer called the Blue Mollys. I don’t have many details yet, but look for them to take off fast. howwastheshow will likely to cover their debut gig.

The Bottlehouse perform Saturday at the Fine Line (click for full size)

It says a lot about Raven that he was in the bar supporting live local music the night before he jets off for his UK tour. Raven plays London's famed Garage--the big room downstairs, not the little one upstairs--on Friday night with Overdrawn, the Chapters and Toll. I feel I have a personal part in Raven’s UK tour this year, as Anna Lee and I carted well over a dozen press packs over in our luggage this summer and distributed them through Royal Mail. Our energy must have been good luck for Raven as those packs landed him several gigs. (Check the Garden Records website for details on Raven’s tour.

Incidentally, the stage Raven plays at the Garage on Friday is the same stage Minnesota's own Har Mar Superstar plays tonight (9/17.) Hopefully, the club’s crew will have cleared the stage of any sweaty, discarded Har Mar clothing in time for Raven’s Friday night set. I've sent a word of warning about both these Minnesota invades London gigs to howwastheshow’s London-based contributor Andrew Zincke, so who knows, after the weekend we may hear a word or two about how those gigs went.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Dan Israel's thoughts on 9/11 from NYC

Dan Israel, whom I called the Energizer Bunny of the Twin Cities music scene here, is in New York City this weekend to play a solo gig Friday night 9/12 at the Living Room, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

Among other things in his email update this week Dan writes:

Thursday, of course, is the 2nd anniversary of 9/11. Sometimes, when you turn on the TV these days and have such intelligent fare as "Paradise Island" or "For Love or Money" to choose from, it's easy to forget that awful day two years ago when "reality television" meant something horribly different.

Forget the political posturing, the crass attempts to cash in on a tragedy, the 3-minute capsule summaries of an event that can't be encapsulated, summarized, or even explained. In fact, I've already said more than I wanted to here, but I just wanted to say I'll end this by saying let's never forget the sacrifices made on that sunny Tuesday morning in September 2001 by some ordinary people who were thrust into extraordinary situations and did their best to help their fellow human being.

If you haven't road-tripped to NYC to see Dan, stop by the Cabooze tonight to see Steve Polz, an entertaining singer-songwriter who comes highly recommended to me by folks I trust. (You know who you are!)

Saturday, September 06, 2003 is flattered to have been nominated for a Minnesota Music Award in the best new Media/website category! Actually, I'm as surprised as I am flattered because I didn't get my membership in time to vote in the "primary." So thanks to whomever nominated the site, since it certainly wasn't me.

If you are a member of the MMA we would sure appreciate your vote in the final election!

Remember, ballots are due by next Friday, September 12th! If you'd like to vote but aren't a member, it is easy to sign up (and only $15)!

Just go to: for details.

In the interest of full disclosure, and because exists to publicize all things music, especially all things Minnesota, here's the full list of nominees in category 45 and their websites:

(45) New Media/Website
(f) (Twin Cities Alternative Shows List)

Please visit the above sites and check out their excellent contributions to the Minnesota music scene. Then join the MMA and vote for

And if you haven't visited lately, please do so to savor some of the latest reviews we've posted for you. Especially check out the recent reviews by new staff writer Kristen Hasler with whom I recently wrote dueling reviews of the Cirque Rouge de Gus cabaret.

Monday, September 01, 2003

Andrew Haas and Sarah Adams' Wedding Speech (Sunday, August 31st, 2003)

The wedding party - photo by Anna Lee

I'm not much of a speechwriter. But yesterday I was called upon as the best man of my friend Andrew Haas to deliver the best man's toast in his honor at the Landmark Center in St. Paul. For anyone who's interested, and to aid future best men who I know from experience are prone to scour the internet in search of ideas for their toasts, I make my speech available in full here.

Hello, I'm David de Young, Andrew's best man.

I'd like to welcome all the family members and other friends here tonight, and I'd like to say on behalf of the wedding party that we're sorry that our friend Dirk Balow can't be with us. Are thoughts are with him, and we wish him a speedy recovery from his illness.

Today is a fitting day for this marriage celebration, as it was on this day in 1888 Jack the Ripper claimed his first victim.

I'm not exactly an expert on marriage myself, only having done it once. But what is marriage about? Well, marriage is a sort of friendship recognized by the police. And what is at the heart of any good wedding reception? The food, of course. (Though it's been said that the most dangerous food a man can eat is wedding cake.)

Andrew and Sarah getting married marks the end of an era. Granted, it's been a much longer era for Andrew. . .

Some people might tell you that the institution of marriage has lost its seriousness over the years. But getting married these days is a far bigger deal than it used to be. Andrew and Sarah will likely be spending the next 40 to 50 years of their lives together. However, Sarah, if you'd lived a few hundred years ago, marrying Andrew wouldn't have been such a big deal because most people were already dead by the time they were Andrew's age. In fact, when Mozart was Andrew's age, he'd already been dead for FIVE YEARS!

Now some of you may know I'm a big English history buff and spend as much time in England as possible. This got me intrigued by a few ancient nuptial traditions. Has anyone been to a wedding where they tied old shoes to the back of the just-married couple's car? It was back during the reign of Henry the 8th that this tradition originated. Guests would throw shoes at the bride and groom, and it was good luck if they or their carriage were hit! Also in Anglo-Saxon times the bride was symbolically struck with a shoe by her groom to establish his authority. Brides would then throw shoes at their bridesmaids to see who would marry next. The contemporary use of the bouquet is just one example of the strides towards civility the modern wedding celebration has taken.

I promised I wouldn't talk about Andrew and Sarah's difference in age because when you get to the heart of it, age doesn't really matter. Some people will tell you that older folks are out of touch with the younger generation. But as our recent president Ronald Reagan said a just few years ago when he was debating Walter Mondale in the presidential election, "I will not make age an issue. . . I'm not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent's youth and inexperience." (And let's hope Andrew feels the same way about Sarah.)

I've never been a best man before, and I'm not sure how well I'm doing. At the bachelor party I managed to lose the bride's brother, and we only changed bars once! One can only imagine how many people I might have lost if we'd actually tried to paint the entire town. (David, I'm so sorry.)

But as far as my other designated duties I appear to be doing alright: The groom is here, his shoes are tied and ... (take a peak in Andrew's lap) . . . his fly is zipped.

I'll always remember the first time I met Andrew. It was 19 years ago this very week, Tuesday, August 28th, 1984, (again, back during the Reagan administration.) I was hanging around Gardner lounge at Grinnell College at what was called the "Optional Underwear Party," (Grinnell was a very progressive school) and had my eye on an attractive freshman girl. I was just getting ready to approach her when Andrew moved in, dashing my chances with her forever. According to my journal, I left the party, "feeling dejected, rejected and pissed." Of course I've forgiven him for this now.

Our relationship improved as we made a somewhat informal deal not to pursue the same woman at the same time. In time over the years I've come to know some of Andrew's most marked characteristics: his genuine generosity and wicked sense of humor. One Christmas years ago I remember him showing up at the CC Club with wrapped gifts for all his drinking buddies. He is also a living example of the saying, "If you want a friend, be a friend." Andrew knows who he wants in his life and makes every effort to let those people know he cares about them.

I asked Andrew the other day how he knew it was time to get married and settle down, and he said it really wasn't something he rationally figured out, but rather something he kind of just knew. Sarah told me she seemed to know Andrew was the one from their very first date. Both their responses exemplify a kind of knowledge that is far more real than intellectual. Charts, graphs, weights and measures probably should be thrown out when it comes to a marriage decision.

It's traditional for the best man to offer some sort of advice to the groom at this point. And I'd like to offer some advice I found on the internet recently that struck me as sound: Andrew, I know you're good at this, and the gifts you are receiving today from Home Depot today should come in handy with it. But always help Sarah with jobs around the house. I'm told there has never been one recorded case in human history, where a wife has shot her husband, while he was doing the dishes.

Before we close, I'd like to read an email that came today for Andrew. Apparently, this email was sent in 1940, but due to the internet congestion some of which was caused by the Sobig and Blaster worms, it was delayed for 63 years. It comes from a Mr. Thomas Stearns Eliot who writes from East Coker, a village near Yeovil, Somerset, in England.

Dear Andrew,

Congratulations on your wedding to Sarah Adams. I regret that I am unable to attend the ceremony due to the unfortunate reason that I died in 1965.

I've emailed Mr. de Young to read a few words from the second of my Four Quartets in your honor.

Home is where one starts from. As we grow older
The world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated
Of dead and living. Not the intense moment
Isolated, with no before and after,
But a lifetime burning in every moment
And not the lifetime of one man only
But of old stones that cannot be deciphered.
There is a time for the evening under starlight,
A time for the evening under lamplight
(The evening with the photograph album).
Love is most nearly itself
When here and now cease to matter.
Old men ought to be explorers
Here or there does not matter
We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion
Through the dark cold and the empty desolation,
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise. In my end is my beginning.

(From the second of T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets)

I'd like to conclude with a toast to Sarah and Andrew that comes from Shakespeare's, Macbeth, Act III, scene iv: let us "Drink to the general joy of the whole table."

And congratulations!

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Recollections of England's Reading Festival 2001

Photo: A view of the main stage at Reading 2001

On this final day of The Reading-Leeds festival of 2003, I share my recollections of Reading 2001. It was in fact an advertisement for Reading that initially ignited my European festival obsession. A yellow, black and red ad in Q Magazine for what’s known as “The Carling Weekend” (comprised of simultaneous shows at Reading its sister site at Leeds) had caught my eye in July of 2001. Then, over the course of the next week or so the thought running through my head changed from, “Wow, that looks like an incredible lineup” to “I sure wish I could go,” to “Who says I can’t go?” and finally to, “I’m gonna go, damnit, come hell or highwater!”

In that first summer of festival-going I’m glad I got a taste of both the V Festival (which I’ve already written about) and Reading because realized from the start that all festivals have distinct personalities, which of course drove my desire to attend all of them eventually. The V-Festivals are a good first festival for beginners. They’re fairly safe and tidy, and not so big as to be overwhelming. On the other hand, Reading is traditionally muddier, definitely more hip and there’s just something about it that’s just plain awesome despite the fact that at around 50,000 people it’s still only a third the size of Glastonbury or Roskilde. Reading seems consistently to have one of the highest quality lineups of any festival in the world and draws a somewhat rougher, rowdier crowd. Still Reading is friendly and hospitable, and crime is still relatively low. The only violent crime reported during that 3-day weekend in 2001 was a single sexual assault. Granted even one may be one too many, but most arrests were for drug related charges; including some that purportedly involved hash brownies.

This year there’s an apparently hellish experience getting there by train due to construction – on Reading weekend no less – as the trains between Paddington and Reading are shut down. Otherwise, travel by train from London is typically a breeze.

Arriving at Reading train station in 2001 I needed no city map to find the festival grounds; I simply followed the massive crowds through the streets. Along this rag-tag parade route there were plenty of dodgy hucksters selling counterfeit Reading goods. (I bought two such un-authorized t-shirts, which despite several cat calls of “10 pounds for shite!” by potential consumers, have held up quite well.)

It was a long walk from the station to the festival--at least a couple miles--and even once we reached the edge of the grounds it was still a good haul alongside the campground that ran along the festival wall to the actual entrance. I was overjoyed to final arrive inside. And the first thing I saw was some guy half passed out on the grass, perhaps one example of the differences between Reading and the V-Fests. Like I said Reading is definitely rougher and less of a place to take the kids—though that didn’t stop some of the English from bringing theirs along. (I’m not exactly sure what would.)

A punter relaxes in the grass

I wandered aimlessly for a while around the stands and stalls between the smaller stages with the main Reading stage off in the distance. After eating the bad food at the V-Festival I was first appalled by, then resigned myself to the fact that the same companies supplied the grub at Reading as well.

There are usually one or more acts each year that make Reading the UK Festival to be at, and 2001 was no different. The act of that year was most likely the Strokes, who were to be making their first UK Festival appearance. You may have seen the cover of NME the week before with the photo of the Strokes and the caption “The One Band You Must See this Weekend.” I would have been green with envy to have received a copy of the music magazine in my mailbox in Minneapolis, but it was somewhat smugly that I picked up my copy of NME that week at a London newsstand with a ticket to the sold-out festival in my pocket.

In 2001 there was some controversy regarding the Strokes appearance which only added to the media hype even though the band was already unquestionably the biggest buzz band in the world at the time. The Strokes were scheduled to play the Radio 1 Evening Sessions Stage, which is in a tent that holds only about 8,000 people. Festival organizers refused until the last minute to move the Strokes to the main stage. Wisely they ultimately gave in. The Strokes were a definite festival highlight when they played Friday afternoon few bands away from Iggy Pop. Other Friday Highlights were New York’s the Moldy Peaches (friends and tour mates of the Strokes) in the Evening Sessions tent whose song “Please Pass the Crack” was one of the catchiest fun songs of the summer.

The final day of the festival (Sunday) may have been the most full of music for me. I took a liking to a band called Lowgold who sounded awesome live but upon my return to the States I found their import-only studio material lacking in some important areas, one of which being that the lyrics were just plain boring and cliché. The Cult played an intense, energizing set and as if on queue it actually rained during “Here Comes the Rain.” Queens of the Stone Age bassist Nick Oliveri played the entire QOTSA set stark f’ing naked with nothing covering his privies but his uh, instrument. Marilyn Manson opened his set with a blasted orchestral version of “God Bless America” which was hysterical and beautifully sick seeing 40 thousand English gaping in awe at the spectacle. Later, closing out the festival Eminem came on stage with his buddies from D-12 and a 30-foot high inflatable hand that bounced around through his set giving the finger to the audience. Eminem’s actual show couldn’t hold my attention for long on that final night of Reading and it was to the strains of Slim Shady that I exited the festival grounds for the final time and happened upon one of the best things to happen that trip.

While walking in the circular meandering streets of Reading (every other block there seemed to b ea roundabout) trying to find the train station I met an Irish girl named Laura who was also looking for the train station as well as her boyfriend Pete and friend Rich. We found the station together and later found Rich and Pete as well just in time to get one of the last trains. One thing that stands out from my daily commutes back and forth from London in 2001 was that the ELO song “Last Train to London” had took on an entirely different and somewhat more urgent meaning to me.

The train platform in Reading waiting for the 'Last Train to London'

Rich and Pete were rather satisfyingly drunk, and during the train ride home sang a mixture of Guided by Voices and Irish Nationalist. The English were typically tolerant and quiet, although one picture shows an interesting expression on one guy’s face as he attempts to avoid being squashed by one of the boys.

Rich, Pete and me (pictured on the right with the #1 length haircut that summer) on the train from Reading

Laura and I exchanged emails on the train before the three of them got off at her brother’s town along the way. The following year I caught up with them for the Witnness festival, and again this past summer.

All in all, if you had the chance to attend only one festival in Europe, Reading might be the one I’d go for over all the rest because of its eminence in band lineup. Other festivals may be larger and have more unique atmospheres (Roskilde and Glastonbury, for example), but Reading is truly the most English of experiences and a kind of rite of passage so to speak that is not to be missed by any true Anglophile, regardless of their country of actual residency.

Saturday, August 16, 2003

Recollections of England's V-Festival 2001 (Chelmsford, 2001)

Photo: Wheatus on the second stage at V2001 (Click for full size.)

Photo: The big tree by the second stage provided a respite from the rain. (Click for full size.

I'm sitting at home in Minneapolis today listening to the V-2003 Festival highlights on Virgin Radio over the internet as I clean my house. I try to make a habit of being exactly where I want to be at all times, but as the live festival began at 2 PM Minnesota time today, (8 PM in Chelmsford) I do feel a bit of a yearning to be there in the English countryside, even if it was just a month ago that I returned from this year's jaunt to the European rock festivals.

The V-Festival was my first foray into the non-US festival world. (Lollapalooza in the US was my first true festival experience.) I had worked most of the day on the Friday before the festival at my job in Minnesota. I was helping an English customer get setup for a videoconference at just before noon and was in bit of a rush to get him up and running. "I have to be in Chelmsford by 2 p.m. tomorrow," I mentioned in passing, figuring that would get his attention. I also wanted to make it clear to him that I would simply not be available that afternoon if things went awry once his conference started.

Festival-going the way I do it makes for a truly dream-like experience due to the combination of jet lag and sleep-deprivation that accompany the first legs of my journeys. First I fly all night on Northwest flight 44, and I don't sleep well, if at all on overseas flights. I land in England at Gatwick Airport in the morning and smell the diesel of the trains mixed with cigarette smoke on the train station platform while catching the Gatwick Express into London. I arrive at my hotel too early for check-in because although check-in is at 11, your room typically isn't ready until 2. After a bit of bargaining, I usually get into my room around noon, leaving enough time to shower, shave and catch a bus or train a hundred miles or more to my ultimate destination. As I get off the train and ascend into Chelmsford, the local police have setup an amnesty zone where we are encouraged to drop off our "gear" in a bin, no questions asked. “If you proceed into Chelmsford and caught with drugs, you will be arrested,” we are warned. “The dogs caught two people earlier today,” is tacked on for additional emphasis. Fascinatingly, people comply and dump bags of pot and other substances into a small garbage can right next to the police officers and proceed on their merry way. This is a far cry from the underhanded entrapment schemes devised by the US police at festivals. (See this article in yesterday's Star Trib as an example.)

There's been no division of a night's sleep between the workday the day before and suddenly and suddenly I'm walking through the gates of a major music event on the other side of the world, amidst thousands of people, many of whom camped overnight the night before or who commuted a lot less far than I did.

In 2001 tears literally came to my eyes as I walked into the grassy area of the main stage at Chelmsford and heard up close the first strains of music that had only been represented by a glossy ad in Q Magazine just 6 weeks before as I sat in my Minneapolis backyard. It may have even been David Gray onstage, running through "Please Forgive Me" as I dried my tears. It could have been Neil Finn, or the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I don't recall for sure, as they were all there that year--as was Placebo, Wheatus, Nelly Furtado, The Foo Fighters and a host of others I won't even begin to name as you already get the picture. I'd flown myself straight into a music lover's heaven, and I knew it.

The V Festivals are a great place for a foreign festival-goer to start. They are well organized, by English standards; a little less rowdy; a lot less muddy due to special grass covering that covers the entire front stage areas in most cases. The Chelmsford site is gorgeous and tree-lined. Some of the bigger trees have not even been cut down even though they block the sightline in some cases. Instead they are mounted with speaker racks to aid those further back in hearing. They also provide shelter in the likely event of rain that happens almost daily in England. We experienced a downpour during the first afternoon and the big tree by the second stage became a popular spot, though many people simply ignored the rain and just sat on the grass covering and continued enjoying the show. (See picture.)

V2001 was small compared to the Reading Festival I would attend the following week, and dwarfed by the Glastonbury and Roskilde Festivals I would attend in later years, but as a starter I was blown away. Although I spent most of the two days wandering around in a daze, my first festival experience is one I will never forget, perhaps evidenced by the fact that two years later I can still recall it in the most specific of details.

Sunday, July 27, 2003

This just in from MMA Events Chair, Kate Chapman.....

Minnesota Music Academy Presents: Minnesota Artists Tribute Night

The MMA is gearing up for the 23rd Annual Minnesota Music Awards with a few special shows to pay homage to Minnesota music artists. The first show, “Minnesota Artists Tribute Night” where local music heroes pay tribute to their favorite Minnesota musicians, past and present, will be held on Thursday, July 31st at Mario’s Keller Bar. This unique show will feature Dan Israel & the Cultivators, Mike Gunther & His Restless Souls, Martin Devaney Band, Matt Anderson and Cheddar Slim & The Elvis Minds (featuring members of The Rakes, Betty Drake, Reluctant Prophets and The Bottlehouse). Each artist will play various Minnesota covers of their choosing, always keeping us on our toes. This is certainly not an event to be missed by anyone who’s a fan of the local music scene.

Just in time to get your membership and make your nominations!
August 1st is the official deadline to turn in your ballot nominations for the 2003 Minnesota Music Awards. MMA volunteers will be at the show to get you signed up for your membership and let you fill out a ballot nomination form right there.

Mario’s Keller Bar is located at 2300 University Avenue NE in Minneapolis below Gastof Zur Gemuetlichkeit Restaurant, 612-781-3860. This is a 21+ event and admission for the evening is $5 for MMA Members and $7 for non-members. Memberships can be purchased at the door for $15. Music kicks off with Cheddar Slim & The Elvis Minds at 9 p.m. Mario’s serves 2-for-1 rail drinks all night in addition to their wide selection of delicious German suds. For more information, contact the MMA Events Chair, Kate Chapman. To download MMA Membership and Nomination forms, please visit

Friday, July 18, 2003

Flavor wants everyone to know they're playing at Bunkers on Saturday

According to their website, the local rock quartet Flavor play music "with a pop/rock sensibility laced with funky hooks, latin rhythms and soulful melodies." The local band who formed in 2001 wanted so badly to let people to know about their gig tomorrow night at Bunkers in Minneapolis (Saturday, July 19th) that they hung four large banners on the overpass over 35W near the I94 interchange to get the word out. How many people pass under that bridge during a typical Friday afternoon rush hour I don't know, but let's just assume it's in the low tens of thousands.

I'm not sure how such shameless promotion flies with either the authorities or the club hosting the gig, but it certainly was a good way to get the word out. Oddly enough, the gig advertised above the freeway isn't listed on the band's own website or the show bible I use, The Twin Cities Alternative Shows List.

However, if only one in a hundred people who saw the sign show up tomorrow night, it won't take long for Bunkers to reach capacity. From what I've heard about the band, fans of Sting, Dave Matthews and Jamariquai might enjoy what they hear if they choose to go. Being a closet fan of shameless promotion myself, you might even find me there. But don't look for any banners hanging over any freeway interchanges anytime in the near future. Link exchanges with Pulse Twin Cities and other sites are about all I'm ready for right now.

Sunday, July 13, 2003

The funny thing about a plan....

Lew Welch once said, "The funny thing about a plan is that that never actually happens." Well, so much for my plan of keeping up with this blog during my travels. After the problem with the Brussels keyboards, the internet access at the country house of my Welsh friend Norma not far from Llangollen was spotty at best. Now, here in Dublin at last, for the last few days of my journey, I've managed to grab a few minutes of internet time at a cafe on O'Connell St. whilst my friends have already headed off for the final day of the Wittnness Festival where I will shortly be joining them.

Echo and the Bunnymen got the festival off to a slow start yesterday. If both they and the crowd didn't seem to into it, I could understand. They started playing at 1 p.m. while the beer tents didn't open until 2:15! Surprisingly it's actually difficult to get drunk at Witnness since the beer tents close down again at 10 p.m. even though the last acts don't hit the stage until nearly 11.

One highlight yesterday was seeing Coldplay again so close to the tent where the Raveonettes were playing that I got a stereo earful of both bands at once. Not that that's a good thing, but only at a festival!

Mull Historical Society was probably the best show I saw yesterday. They are suprisingly animated and tight live, which you might not expect by listening to them on disk.

Today at around 5 p.m. on the so-called On-Stage will be the fabulous Har Mar Superstar whom I plan to cover fully for this site and anyone else who will print it. Apparently, his show yesterday at sister festival T in the Park in Scotland went over swimmingly. He's been called a "must see" act by some of the most respected DJ's in Dublin, so look out Ireland, here comes Har Mar.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Belgian keyboard's suck

Not only do the keys on this particular keyboard stick, they're all moved around again. Reports of my last few days in London and seeing Ben Weaver at the Windmill in Brixton will have to wait until I get to Wales.

They have Stella Artois in the soda machine in my Brussel's hotel:

Saturday, July 05, 2003

Day trip to Avebury....not Stonehenge.

On my sixth trip to England, I was able to pass up the temptation (not!) to visit Stonehenge for the third or fourth time in my life. Honestly, you must trust me on this, Stonehenge is just a circle of rocks in the countryside, and not much of a site at that. Still, for some reason, year after year, tourists flock there to walk around and gawk.

Avebury is much harder to get to. It took us most of the day to get there and back, starting out from London. You need to take a 90 minute train to Salisbury, where you can catch a slow, slow bus to get the rest of the way, changing from the #3 bus to a #5 or #6 in Amesbury. Total journey time of nearly 4 and a half hours (there must be a better way, but I haven't found it yet!) we arrived to have a total of about 45 minutes to walk amongst the much larger display of often much larger stones. I must say that even before we got off the bus and saw the odd spread of the remaining stones I was overcome but a sense of mystery and downright weirdness. Even in its currently over-developed state--the town has grown right around the site--there is still a sense of history here that is unmistakable. And hearing "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad" by Meatloaf blaring from the pub jukebox at the Red Lion where the bus stops only contributed to the feeling of being somewhat displaced in time.

I will go back to Avebury. But next time I plan to spend a a full day there.

Back to the hotel after that to drink too much wine and break the hotel room chair and fall squarely on my ass. This morning, I boldly went to the front desk to request a new chair.

Off to Southwark to see the Globe and the Tate Modern.

Thursday, July 03, 2003

To London

After my EasyJet flight from Copenhagen to London was delayed, and then the train from Stansted to Liverpool Street station, I finally made it to my home away from home in Bayswater, this year at the Garden Court Hotel. Time to unlearn the Danish computer keyboard layout and get used to one pretty similar to the ones back in the US, except for certain things like the £ key handily located over the numeral 4.

Anna Lee's friend Andrew had recommended a couple bands playing upstairs at the Garage last night. The Garage features national acts on the larger main floor, and local bands (mostly) in the smaller, intimate second floor. Andrew has a website ( that I plan to explore more fully when I have some time, but I like the philosophy behind it so far. Check this out:

"There aren't any reviews of albums or shows because people don't need to know what I think and most folks realise the experience of music is indescribable. Blacktop is not about consumption of yet more babble, it is about enjoyment to be had by leaving the house and being part of a shared public experience. That means going to see bands! The point of Blacktop is to get some background to the live experience, not to try and describe it."

Yes, yes! I couldn't agree more wholeheartedly that music is indescribable. But it sure is fun to write about the experience of seeing bands, and one always hopes that doing so will help to get a few more potatoes off their respective couches.

S.Rock Levinson

Andrew's friends' band S.Rock Levinson were headlining last night. S.Rock Levinson are an East London 5 piece rock band (who for some reason chose to name themselves after an American neuroscientist.) Headed up by vocalist Phil Canning, they kind of reminded me of a cross between Joy Division and the Gang of Four with a little Alice Cooper thrown in to keep things interesting. (A. Nunn of described them as "the Pixies being poked in the eye by Joy Division.") One song in particular, Wide Eyes, caught my attention with it's diversity and vocal harmonies (and multiple vocal lines) filled out pleasantly by bass player Karen Slavid. The band turns out a fun crowd of good, intelligent fans.

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Jayhawks big in Sweden

The other day I was reading the howwastheshow referral logs (which I read religiously) and found it interesting that someone is hawking the second CD from the Jayhawks new album Rainy Day Music on eBay by linking into my review of the show at the Women's Club. You can see the sales pitch here. Of course we realize it's not exactly a rare recording as the first pressings of the CD all included the special second disk which features live recordings as well as demos produced by Ed Ackerson at Flowers Studios.

And speaking of the Jayhawks, I failed to mention the other day that on my brief trip into Sweden, I stopped in a local record shop to notice that Rainy Day music was one of the top featured CD's at the listening station and that their complete discography was located front and center right by the front door. Having been a fan of theirs for years, I wish them increasing international success, as they surely deserve it as much as any band playing today.

I've checked out of my Copenhagen hotel now and in a few hours time will fly out of here to London to meet up with the fabulous designer, Miss Anna Lee of Ruby3. Her website has just come online, so there's not much there yet but a photo of one of her signature hats. For more of her work, however, you can check out photographer Steven Wolfe's website" to see highlights of her part of the Fresh Faces showcase at First Avenue in May.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

I'm getting into the habit of sleeping really late and staying up until 4 a.m., which due to the time difference of 7 hours puts me basically on the same schedule I'd keep if I were at home. (It'd be like getting up at 6 and going to bed at 9 p.m.) Because Copenhagen never really closes down (you can buy liquor round the clock) the schedule actually works quite well.

Last night I went to a small music club called Stengade 30, with the intention of seeing Tomahawk a supergroup which features members of Mr. Bungle and Faith No More. The show was sold out, so I couldn't get in. But afterwards hearing the first American accent I'd heard in a while, I approached a fellow from the band to ask where he was from. Mr. Mike Patton himself brushed me off with a simple "all over" and that was that. Too bad, because a simple 1 to 2 minute chat, once I realized who he was, would have yielded some kind words about the success of their current European tour with the Melvins. (It appears to be going quite well.)

It's raining again today, and my Copenhagen visit wraps up tomorrow. Then I'm off to London. My plans today include a trip to the Copenhagen City Museum for a little dose of history, and perhaps a visit to the "free state" of Christiana, an area of the city where the hippies moved in about 30 years ago and declared a free country and legalized pretty much everything. (Though after it became a haven for heroin dealers, they thought twice about that, banned it and actually did a great service by helping a lot of junkies get off the stuff.)

Monday, June 30, 2003

Greetings from Sweden

About 2 this afternoon I decided to take a quick trip to Sweden. I arrived in Helsingborg by 4:30 p.m. Not bad time. I bought a flag and a beer. Time to go back to Copenhagen as the German girls are going to show me around. We're going to see a band called Tomahawk or some such.

It's a cloudy, ugly day.

I survived the Roskilde Festival 2003

Well, I did it. I can cross Roskilde off my list of things to do for 2003 on the list hanging on my fridge in Minneapolis.

It was sad to see the festival wrap up though. If you've been involved with theater, it had the same sort of sadness as striking the set after an enjoyable and successful run of a show.

I won't be able to post any festival photos until my return home. In the meantime I found a site that features many photos here that appears to give a nice, fairly comprehensive, photo-journistic overview.


Bjork was the perfect choice as a festival closer at the Orange Stage. Attendance results are in for this year's festival, about 75,000 people. Most of them came together in the center of the festival grounds to watch the elven one, whose fabulous green hat was an early star of the show. Pictures will have to wait until my return, but imagine the outer leaves of a large sunflower with the middle cut out, except that the petals are green instead of yellow, and there is one of these wrapped around each ear with an opening towards the front. I'm sure that doesn't do it justice, but screw it, I just realized there's a picture of it on the front of her website.

Bjork's show also featured an onstage pyrotechnic's show that would scare the hell out of the Fine Line staff. (According to today's Strib the Fine Line will open again on July 9th with a performance by Lowen & Navarro. Jets of fire, similar to the effects that caused the Great White fire in Rhode Island that killed a hundred people this spring, but probably 5 times the size (and there were dozens of them) lined the stage as an actual fireworks display went off from behind the stage.

I figured I'd be a good boy when Bjork finished and just go on home on the midnight bus, despite the fact that there would be final shows featuring Filur, DeathDisco and Malk de Kojin playing in the Arena until 4:30 a.m. But this didn't mean my adventures were over.

Festival Safety personell had done a terrific job up until the end of the night of keeping people from lighting even small fires, burning mostly small wooden lawn chairs. No sooner would you get one lit than 4 to 6 workers in blue vests would run up and pour water on it.

However, once the festival ended and I was making my way to the bus at the edge of the East camping ground, the fires started to grow larger. I had more than an ample chance to watch due to a bus fiasco that I'll get to in a minute. The fires I could see at the edge of the campground were veritable bonfires. I watched as people threw erected tents, poles and all onto the flames. Billows of black ugly smoke started to waft across the sky.

Did I mention it never really gets dark in Denmark? The sun kind of goes down around 10:15 or so, but then you are left with a kind of post dusk/pre-dawn twilight for pretty much the rest of the night. I saw this lovely light as late as 3:30 a.m. Then, of course, the sun comes back up at 3:30...

The bus fiasco: Although the Danish were surprisingly rude in the beer and food lines, pretty much pushing their way around less agressive and overly polite folks by myself, the first time I worried about someone getting hurt was when trying to catch the post festival buses. I'm a little bad at crowd estimates, but let's just say about 400 to 500 people left through the East Exit around midnight supposedly to catch the night busses that run hourly. At midnight, there were no busses waiting as there had been the previous nights.

At 12:10 the first bus showed up. Have you ever seen a pack of hungry wolves attempt to devour a single piece of meat? The bus was swarmed, and not slowly, but in a big rush. There was no way that all those people were going to fit. There are times when the phrase "There's always room for one more" just ain't true.

Maybe 10 minutes later, another bus showed. Same result, but the crowd had grown. The bus was swarmed even before it got to the busstop, leaving those who actually were waiting in line suddenly at the very back of the list. 12:30, maybe another bus came. I had resigned myself to the fact that I wasn't going anywhere soon. I found a comfy abandoned chair and simply sat and watched the Danish sky, the smoke from the growing fires rising in the distance, the lights of the festival looking like a small city. It was chilly, but I'd brought an extra coat and didn't care.

Some folks took cabs, but again there was swarming and some arguments. There was a line for taxis, but again people were swarming them up to 100 yards before they reached the stand. It was nearly 2 a.m. when I struck up a conversation with some girls from Germany who had asked me the time. We got to talking in half English, half German, and the little bit of Danish I have now picked up. (I'd noticed earlier when talking to the guys from the Isle of Man that my accent is all screwed up already. Being a social chameleon of sorts, I am now speaking English with a slightly Danish accent, which sounds a little bizarre.)

I suggested a Taxi to the German girls. I'd been thinking of taking one myself as they did appear to be less popular than the bus. The bus was 65 kronen from the festival to Central Station in Copenhagen, about 35 kilometers. I figured the distance was similar to taking a cab from Minnetonka to downtown Minneapolis, something you wouldn't want to do unless it was an emergency, but it was getting to be nearly 2 a.m.

I had 400 kronen in cash, not enough for a cab, but the cabs did take credit cards. I ended up sharing a cab with the three German girls, Constantin, Kristin, Regina and Sara. We dropped them in a neighborhood referred to as the North Bronx of Copenhagen. My driver told me it was one of the more seedy areas of town, but somehow whenever I travel I manage to get myself straight into those areas. That's how it happened this time.

I ended up paying 80 percent of the 594 kronen fare (about 60 dollars). The girls had a 50 kronen note, a nearly full buscard, and some change. But hell, I'm on holiday, so the money's not that big a deal. Besides, I made some friends, and I had to get home. I gave them my "rock hack" card, and if they email me as promised I may have a place to stay next time I visit Copenhagen.

What does all this have to do with Rock and Roll? Well, the festival experience is much larger than the music for one. Even shy folks like myself do tend to meet people eventually, usually on the last day of the festival when people are worn down and more chatty. Festivals take a lot out of an old man like me, but you get out of things what you put into them. Flying to Europe to do something crazy like seeing rock shows is definitely something you don't soon forget.

Museum Erotica

Now I have two days to try and explore Copenhagen. But I got the cheesy and boring Museum of Erotica out of the way yesterday morning. I must say it's not worth the admission fee, though they do give you a handy guidebook as part of the admission. Making your way through the three floors of exhibits that chronicle the history of sex through the ages you get the strange and probably incorrect impression that sex was at its sexiest in around 1970. However, you also realize that Marilyn Monroe stands around across the ages as one of the most amazing women who ever lived.

Sunday, June 29, 2003

Festival Finale

They will kick us out of here eventually. 10 minutes of free, unfettered internet access from the festival site. I just saw Massive Attack, who had a light show that rivals the Matrix's special effects. Information overload to say the least. Before that, Queens of the Stone Age, with a near fully clothed bass player (surprise.) But it's freezing cold here, rainy and nearly ugly. Yo La Tengo didn't warm me as much as I hoped, but The Datsuns kicked ass (more later with tons of photos.) I got inner circle and enjoyed, enjoyed, enjoyed.

What next? There's an intentional sort of reverse diaspora here at Roskilde. In about 5 minutes, Bjork plays the Orange Stage. She's the only act scheduled for 10 p.m., so the idea is everyone goes there. I'm about 5 minutes walk from front and center, and will have more to report soon.

Met some English, from the Isle of Man. Nice folks. Chatted about Reading. Told them to check out Har Mar Superstar.

Think I'm drunk. Not sure. Maybe it's just the internet tent that's starting to sway.

I'm told they stop serving beer at 4:30 a.m. Damn. Only six and a half more hours to drink.

Fu Manchu, Daniel Johnston and Blur

Yes, I saw those bands back to back, though not on the same stage.

Fu Manchu are the California band sometimes called the fathers of Acid Rock. Although they often get grouped in with that wishy-washy term "metal" there is rock and roll at the heart of their music, which made for an enjoyable experience, even if I was far from overwhelmed. "Godzilla" and "Hell on Wheels" were highlights, though they did play several new songs as well. After nearly every song, their Californian "Thank you very much" kind of grated on me after a while under the Danish sun.

My new prescription earplugs are doing the trick though. Fu Manchu is likely the loudest band I've ever heard in my life. (Think really loud, then turn it up 2-3 notches.)

Next was the American singer Daniel Johnston, an unstable 42 year old, who is currently receiving medical treatment. Beck and Bowie and Kurt Cobain have been fans. There was a lot of encouragement from the audience in terms of cheering and clapping along as he worked his way through his set. Clumsy, grey haired, and somewhat overweight, Johnston sang childlike songs accompanying himself first on a strummed classical guitar (that was miked, not plugged in), then on electric piano. The songs are catchy and do sound amateurish at first, or as if written by a child, but strangely woven into them is a lot of emotional wisdom that starts cutting to the bone after a while and you realize why this guy has 20 albums to his name and is appreciated by musicians and fans worldwide. Although I'm not yet terribly familiar with his music, I plan to educate myself upon my return. Lyrics like "No is just tomorrow to me and you" spoken in the context of love is something I won't soon forget.

After Daniel Johnston, I made my way into the "inner circle" at the main stage. This would be the spot where the fans were crushed as Pearl Jam played a few years ago. There was plenty of room to move around, but of course, it was still an hour and a half until Blur was due to go on and my bladder didn't hold out that long, so out I went to watch Blur from further back.

Songs like Beetlebum and Boys and Girls started off Blur's set. Lead singer, the dapper Damon Albarn set a serious tone when he said he was glad to be back in Denmark, "A free country" he called it. I couldn't help but feel there was a critical reference being made here to his home country of England.

I waited for my favorite new song, the single from Think Tank called "Out of Time." I got it about 6 songs in and was more than happy with the result. I managed to catch the entire Blur show plus 3 encores in between repeated beer runs. I was almost surprised at how huge these guys are in Denmark, but perhaps I shouldn't have been. This was a great show that definitely rivaled Coldplay from the night before as far as the reasons behind these crazy rock and roll expeditions to Europe go. Sadly, perhaps, I'm not able to find the same comraderie at US rock shows, despite the fact that I'm usually among friends. Sometimes, strangers are the best people to be standing amidst when you see a show, and when they're not even speaking English (except when they're singing along to the songs, of course) it adds an extra element of distance. And speaking of singing along, maybe I'm lame, but the Danish knew all the words to Boys and Girls where as I had a hard time keeping up even on the chorus despite the fact that I've been listening to it for years.

Blur will hit Minneapolis at First Avenue in a couple of weeks. I won't be back in time for that show, but I'm sure it will be a doozy. The 40 to 50 thousand screaming fans I saw appreciating them at the Orange Stage can't be wrong.

Oh, and speaking of singalongs, the busride from Roskilde station to the festival featured a dozen boisterous young Danes singing among other things, the lyricless theme from Dallas at the top of their lungs. The ride home at 2 a.m. featured more subdued music by some Danish teenage girls who were sitting just behind me on the floor of the bus (I was not only ahead of the yellow no standee line, I was allowed to sit on the bus steps.) The girls laughed through a couple bars of Edel Weis, and then tried to even get me to sing along to what was perhaps a Danish folk song I did not recognize. I did my best, but failed miserably. But successful or not in my singalong, that was a fun ride.

There's more, but I'm tired and need to get back out to the festival for Bjork. I will miss the Sounds because I didn't wake up until 1330 today for some reason. Perhaps I needed the rest.

As far as my typos and lack of the normal background info I provide on the music I see via pre-writing research, I'm much less worried about that today. I read my blog referral log today and noted that for the most part, no one is reading this except a couple of friends back in Minneapolis. Perhaps it's best that this amateurish, bloggish writing of mine stays hidden until I get a better handle on what I'm trying to do over here.

Oh, but one final note about the lack of trash at Roskilde. The reason the cup recycling works so well is that a beer costs a reasonable 18 kroner. Simple math shows that returning a mere 9 plastic cups to the refund station is enough to buy another beer. Enough said.

Oh, and I saw my first Husker Du t-shirt on a Danish festival goer today.

Saturday, June 28, 2003

And now, live from Denmark....

The Danish lay out the computer keyboard much differently than I am used to at home (the punctuation keys are all over hell.) So that, combined with the fact that I will not have time to do much editing here at this internet cafe in Copenhagen, may make for a rocky read in spots. Forgive me for that.

After an uneventful trip from Minneapolis, I landed at Copenhagen airport on Friday morning about 0915. The two pints of Heineken I'd had in Amsterdam at 0700 was helping to take the edge off the tired eyes from lack of sleep.

There was time for brief exploration and a necessary short nap before catching a train to Roskilde.

I'm glad I chose The Roskilde Festival this weekend, which takes place the same weekend as the Glastonbury Festival in England as the reports from the BBC suggest a possibly rainy, therefore muddy weekend at the sister festival across the way.

Roskilde so far has been my second favorite European Rock Festival, next to the Witnness Festival in Dublin as far as friendly fun goes. Safety, convenience and good sense abound at this festival. Remember, this is the festival where several young men, mostly from Germany, died in the mosh pit at a Pearl Jam performance just a few years ago. These days, there's a red light/green light approach to allowing people into the front area up by the stage. When it's full, it's full. End of story. And this in no way seems to detract from enjoying the show even outside the frontstage area as it's an entirely transparent safety measure as far as the rest of the audience goes.

Roskilde is a cleaner festival than most. The bathroom facilities are not bad, and in many cases pissing troughs line the walls of the festival where people would pee anyway if they weren't there. Brilliant move. And as far as garbage? There's a 2 Kroner deposit (about 2 cents) on all plastic beer cups. Surprisingly, due to this there's almost no litter. If you don't return your cup, someone else will.

I arrived one day late to the festival which started Thursday, missing Thursday's headliner, Metallica. (I don't feel bad about that actually.) Ironically, the first act I managed to catch at Roskilde was punk rock polka stars Los Lobos, playing the main (Orange) stage around 7 p.m. Between songs, Los Lobos quipped, "Yes, we're Mexicans," to the joyful and enthusiastic crowd of maybe 25 thousand. It was a great set, and I was glad that so early in my trip I realized the real point of my pilgrimage. Los Lobos ended their set by saying, "Thanks a lot. Iron Maiden's up next." How often do you get to say that and have it actually be true?

A little later in the Arena the Raveonettes performed their psychadelic Sonic Youth-like music obscured almost completely by smoke and a light show. Jumping back to the Metropol stage I caught a few songs by The ska-influenced hip hop act, The Streets. Their latest UK hit segued respectfully into a faithful cover of The Specials "Ghost Town."

Then I went to Iron Maiden, and I never thought I'd say this, but you know what? They're fucking great. Their entire set was a high energy, wave the Union Jack, prance around, singalong fun time, especially a set highlight for me, "Die With Your Boots On."

I took a brief jaunt back to the Arena for a hauntingly beautiful set by Sigur Ros. Tears abounded, even my own. This show was probably the highlight of my first day at Roskilde.

Then Coldplay took over the English standard on the Orange Stage from the Maiden and performed another moving set that opened with Politik and God Put a Smile on My Face. Notably, Chris Martin spoke only Danish between songs for the entire duration of the set that I caught.

Of course the problem with this show was that Coldplay had gone onstage at 1 a.m., and since I had a 30 minute busride back to Copenhagen I figured I should catch the 2 a.m. shuttle in order that I'd be able to get up the next day and do this all over again.

Tonight, among others, Blur and the Sounds are on my "to see" list. Off I go again...