Thursday, September 25, 2008

See You in Rock 'N' Roll Heaven

There's this thing that happens in Shakespeare. A speaker will pretend something for a while and then start to believe it. Especially in the comedies. People pretend to be in love and then fall in love. Or better yet actually talk themselves into falling in love on stage.

The point is that change often starts on the outside and seeps in. A couple of years ago, I started wearing western clothes. Now I find myself listening to country and even playing it sometimes. And so I present my first published country album review. Since the Oregonian doesn't publish their reviews online and I don't really read things in paper form, I have no idea how this looked when it came out on August 1, but here is what I sent my editors.

Album: See You in Rock 'N' Roll Heaven
Artist: Power of County
Grade: B+
Label: Union
Web site:

There's a point at which rock 'n' roll becomes so rock 'n' roll it's country. There you'll find this punk rock love letter to dusty, bygone days.

Power of County, which features drummer Andy Bacon Simard who also plays with local Psych rock train wreck Starantula as well as members of local bluegrass-picking failsafes Clampitt, Gaddis & Buck, looks like the Outlaws on paper. Guitar and drums are up front with banjo, pedal steel, upright piano and a washboard in the bed.

There are even multiple vocalists and each song has own mood and narrative. The lazy, mock-dark "The Ballad of Charlie Sad" which tells of the tale of "a community torn by greed and regret" over gold hidden in a grave follows the anthemic opener "Ain't Goin' Back to Jail." And the slow, down-and-out "Father, Mother, Son," asks that ultimate rock 'n' roll question, "What did I do last night?" before asking God for forgiveness like a cowboy who knows he won't get it, all in a forgivably affected accent indicative of the overall well-executed artifice.

Because in its production and details, See You is a rock album. The beat is a particularly driving shuffle and the electric guitar is hot on songs like "Love Machine" and "Love Me in Chains," rendering the vocals unintelligible in perfect punk fashion. While nothing about this album is terribly original, the tension of rock seeping into the country framework, like a ho-down with a rip-roaring band too drunk to realize they're too loud and too fast makes it irresistible.

Above: Power of County. Below: My bolo tie collection, minus one that's out for repairs.


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Party Vocab with Municpal Waste

Picture 1
Dude, kids in China need to know how to shotgun a beer. They need to know that shit and there is no one in this world to give them access to that information other than me via English, baby!

Since Ebaby! is sort of fueled by popular culture, I needed a celebrity guest to impart valuable drinking knowledge to the English learning masses. Enter Tony Foresta of Municipal Waste.

I'm really pleased how this vocab lesson turned out. Matt Miadich, the genius who edits all the Ebaby! videos had one comment about this one: "That's the fastest shotgun I've ever seen." Me too.

Oh, and the masseuse is employed by the Roseland to massage the artists who play there. Crazy, huh? Now you know.

Image: The photo I wanted to use for the lesson but couldn't due to obscene gestures.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Tabb on CNN


On the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, CNN did a very cool thing. They had George Tabb--a gifted author and musician who is extremely sick with illnesses related to the toxicity produced by the collapse of the buildings--on an anniversary segment.

The way it went down, however, was not so cool.

I mean, it wasn't terrible. I'm grateful he was on the program. But read for yourself. The host continually leads Tabb and refuses to go down the obviously interesting path here. Yes, Tabb has PTSD, but for him the trauma isn't over.

I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but the apparent media lock down on this issue is turning me into one. I've personally pitched this story to Spin, Rolling Stone and the Oprah magazine and been turned down by all three (bless the folks at Harp, who now run Blurt, for taking it earlier this year). I know for a fact that other journalists are pitching similar stories. Why has this story not been told? Why did CNN look it in the face and deny it exists last Thursday?

HARRIS: Let's get a market check now. New York Stock Exchange, New York City. As you can see, the Dow is down 37 points. It's been a mostly down week so far. A lot of triple digit losses on the day, for much of the week. We're going to check in with Susan Lisovicz and get the latest information on the markets for you in just a couple of minutes.

The New York Stock Exchange joining the nation in marking the seventh anniversary of the September 11th terror attacks. Financial traders paused for a few minutes just before the opening bell this morning. A few blocks away at a tearful ceremony at Ground Zero, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg described the attacks as the day our world was broken. The names of each of the 2,751 people killed at the World Trade Center were read aloud and four separate moments of silence were observed marking when each plane hit and each tower fell.

You know, a man famous in punk rock circles for his connection with the band, The Ramones, and his own band, Roach Motel, was one of the folks living in lower Manhattan during the September 11th attacks. George Tabb ran from his TriBeCa apartment just four blocks away with his wife and dog and saw all of the carnage that day. People jumping out of windows. His apartment condemned because it was so full of dust and debris. A day that has permanently affected his life and his health in many ways. He joins us now with his dog. Because the dog, named Scooter, there he is, is a big part of his story and he can't go anywhere without him.


HARRIS: George, maybe let's start there. Hey, Scooter, good to see you. You literally can't go anywhere without Scooter?

TABB: I can go other places without Scooter, but I like to go everywhere with Scooter and that's why he's here today actually.

HARRIS: Well, George, tell us why he's so important to you.

TABB: Well, scooter is very important because we both escaped 9/11 together from that fiery mess that the terrorists brought in. It was horrible. And I had been sick with different diseases, beside PTSD, that we'll talk about. I got a bunch of other illnesses, physical illnesses.

HARRIS: But the point about -- that's important to make about Scooter is that he was helpful to your recovery and he was coming back from --

TABB: Yes, he was. Yes, he did. He was very helpful to my recovery. Being sick a lot, being in the hospital a lot with different surgeries for different genetic diseases that I've got from 9/11, Scooter was there and helped me feel better because he knew where the pain would be and licked there. And I found that to be so helpful that I wanted to share that with others.


TABB: And through the St. Vincent's Hospital here in New York City, through my friend and therapist Bob Kupferman (ph), and my shrink, David Cordon (ph), they got me involved with the pet therapy program, where I bring Scooter to visit sick patients.

HARRIS: Well, Scooter couldn't be cuter.

Let's talk for a moment about the post-traumatic stress disorder. We most often associate that with people who come back from war. Describe the symptoms you were living with and to the extent that you're still living with symptoms.

TABB: I'm still living with symptom. I still have the nightmares, you know, which are terrible. Like giant buildings chasing me or monsters or . . .

HARRIS: Giant buildings actually chasing you? You see that sometimes?

TABB: Yes, I do. And I had nightmares of the carnage and different things representing those buildings. And I wake up screaming. I still wake up scared out of my mind. When I hear airplanes, I'm very -- I get very nervous. Helicopters. Police sirens.

But through the help of St. Vincent's and through their PTSD health program -- which was funded by "The New York Times," by the way, did a great thing by funding them I learned -- it is behavioral therapy. They taught me to listen to sirens, not as a sound of danger, but the sound of people helping each other.

HARRIS: Right. And, George, what do you think about on a day like today? Another anniversary?

TABB: I think it's sad that Americans don't know the extent of how much still downtown people are still sick. How many people downtown are still affected by the events of that day. How many people are poisoned. How many people are dealing with terrible, terrible illnesses. How police and firefighters cannot talk about it because their pensions are being threatened, who want to talk about this and how sick they are but can't get their pensions.

HARRIS: But, George, what about your emotions? Are you -- seven years later, are you angry? Are you -- have you made some kind of peace with this?

TABB: I was very angry for a long time and very depressed and even locked up a couple times for being so depressed about it. But now, with the help of the pet therapy program and just myself and my friend, Monica, which her and I are starting an organization called the Whirlwind Coalition, which is online, where we're trying to raise awareness of people being sick from 9/11.

By being an activist and by doing all this stuff, I'm feeling a lot better. I feel like I'm taking control of the situation. I'm able to fight back. To sort of say, and make things better for the world. And that way the PTSD doesn't get me as bad. I found that sitting around idly and just worrying about it and not doing anything was the worst thing for it.

But by taking action, with my dog, Scooter, here, and I'm doing something good for -- giving back. Like John McCain said in his speech, although I'm voting for Obama, McCain said that when young people, when they become part of something bigger than themselves, it brings a lot of joy. And that's absolutely the truth.

HARRIS: Well, George, thanks for sharing the story. Your amazing story.

TABB: Thank you.

HARRIS: And our thanks to Scooter there.

TABB: Oh, thank you, Tony.

HARRIS: And, George, we wish you all the best.

TABB: Thank you. You too.

HARRIS: Thank you.

TABB: Thank you. Bye-bye.

HARRIS: Moments ago a moment of silence in the Senate chambers.

Since CNN has not and will not post a video of this interview, here is the latest Tabb YouTube video.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Feet of MFNW

Since the part of a band that the fewest people see at a big festival like Music Fest Northwest (especially people like my 5'2" co-reporter/sweetheart Erin Harrell) is the bands' feet, we decided to focus on those for our Blurt coverage.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Take Me to the Sea

I reviewed Jaguar Love's album for Spin. They are also on the cover of Seattle Sound this month.

Did anyone see them at MFNW? I really wanted to but just couldn't face going to the Roseland for a third night in a row.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

MFNW Twitter Feed

My favorite weekend of the year, Music Fest Northwest started last night and runs until Saturday. I'm covering it for Blurt, but to tide you over until that comes out next week, here's a Twitter feed of my whereabouts and such.

* Blurt coverage sent. It's pretty ludicrous. I hope they post it. Bands seen: 16. Mice slain: 4. Highlights: Typhoon, Scared of Chaka.
* Resisting need to return to normal life.
* After party too hot. I sleep.
* I totally remember this one from my Seaweed tape with the green lighter.
* Crystal=sweatbox for Menomena.
* You'd think Looker to the horror prog of Black Elk would be a hard transition, but somehow it worked. Noted how creative their bassist is.
* As for looks, they're relatively plain, but their dark power pop with a trailer park twist fucking rocks. Best discovery of the fest.
* On the way to Black Elk at Berbati's was lured into a near empty Dante's by the sweet 3/4 female rock n roll of the Lookers.
* Monica Nelson closed her set of ballads (featuring unintentionally hilarious 80's keyboard sounds) with a moving George Tabb tribute.
* Happened on Seaweed soundchecking at Dante's. Sounded like a good way to wrap up my fest tonight. Hadn't heard them for 10 years.
* Side tracked. See you tomorrow at 8 at Back Space for Monica Nelson. 171 days ago
* Very few people watched PWRFL POWER thrash, pose and make noise in his pretty songs. Truckasaurus is starting the dance party with effort.
* I long to settle somewhere. Thinking Holocene because I am so over Roseland. No vibes there. Jaguar Love will have to wait.
* So much heavier than their album! I thought they were folk. Beautiful arc to the songs. Tremendous crowd reaction. Best band so far.
* Now to my typhoon debut. Am I a real Portland music fan now?
* All four band members drumming. Boy Eats Drum Machine' J Ragel in band now.
* Answer: 34 minutes! Dat'r rhythm section of Lackthereof is groovin'. Very tight for a band that plays rarely.
* Missed 12th. Conserving energy for uphill sprint to Crystal.
* Fuck missed light at 82nd.
* How fast can I bike 143 blocks and a river if Danny Seim is at the end? I hope it's less than 30 minutes.
* Traps set. One (tragically cute) mouse slain. Starting with Lackthereof at Crystal tonight.
* This is pandemonium. Pint glasses flying. Shins here, drunk. Equipment breaking. Band member stiches coming out.
* Sacred of Chaka flying a zia!
* Del is a relatively funky homosapien. On a scale of Urcle to Bootsy I give him a 7.9.
* Seeking rawk with Pure Country Gold at Ash St. Note for next year, bring disguise. Can't walk 5 feet without having to talk to someone.
* Calvin Johnson managed to pull off jazz hands and white denim. That takes guts. Told me he didn't mind the talking when I bought a CD.
* Calvin Johnson takes the stage alone with no warning to blue light. People are talking. His voice is rootsy. C'mon people stfu 4 a legend.
* There are like 17 17 year olds on stage. They are very musical with their electric piano. Apparently this is their last all ages show.
* Ahh Eskimo and Sons is starting and I'm still on 122nd!
* I just discovered a mouse in my house but we'll deal with that later. Tonight is Scared of Chaka!
* Last night at Mogwai, when the lighting wasn't so ideal, I decided to take a photo of every band's feet.
* Going to see Eskimo and Sons for the first time tonight.

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