Musical Advent Calendar: December 24

It’s Christmas Eve! Truth be told, I like Christmas Eve even better than Christmas Day. Today’s entry on the calendar was first performed on Christmas Eve in 1818 in a parish church in a village in Germany. I love the simplicity and beauty of this carol, and so I wanted to share a version that reflected that beauty and simplicity. This is “Silent Night,” released on the 1999 album Christmas by Low.

Musical Advent Calendar: December 15

Today’s entry on the calendar is “Christmas Song” by Dave Matthews Band. I haven’t followed Dave Matthews Band in years, but I really liked their first few albums & always appreciated this track.

The studio version as found on Remember Two Things (1993) has a nice little bonus song tacked onto the end after about 8 minutes of silence.  The version below is a live acoustic version with Tim Reynolds from 2009.

Musical Advent Calendar: December 6

I thought about what might follow the solemnity of yesterday’s song, yet move us into a little bit cheerier territory today and I think I may have found the right track to fit the bill. Today’s entry is “Frosty the Snowman” and this version is notable for being one of only a handful of times that you will hear a song with comprehensible lyrics from the Cocteau Twins.

My Friend Jay Goes to Reading – August 1993

So, back in the day we used to have usenet, which was a social part of the internet before we had a gui interface.

My friend Jay and I met in some alt.music subform, bonded over music and shared stories for years, he in the UK, me in the US.

I didn’t keep all our emails, but I kept more than a few. This one includes Jay’s review of  the Reading Festival in 1993.

email, reading review

Summer, 1993  – Jay emails me his Reading Festival review

SILLY BANNERS PRESENTS……..

************************************************************************************************
READING REVIEW FOR HEATHER
************************************************************************************************

Well I guess you wanna hear how Reading went !!!

Five of us went down in my car just for the Sunday and it was totally cool. I got some really terrible news when i got to see a program as The Posies and The Lemonheads were billed at the same time on different stages 😦 I was totally depressed by this as they are my two fave bands at the moment 😦 😦 After a lot of discussion myself and Tony decided to watch The Posies and miss out on the Lemonheads 🙂 and 😦  Isn’t that just typical Festival bad luck. Couldn’t miss The Posies first UK gig though 🙂

The Posies were due to be on at 7.00 so there were a lot of good bands to see before then.  In the afternoon, we just sat about and heard Jesus Lizard (Very dull, not my kinda thing really!), Primus (who were totally cool), The Juliana Hatfield 3 (who were good and Juliana was looking rather nice 😉 ) and Fishbone (totally funky and sounded great). During the afternoon we also took ages to put up a couple of tents !!!! What a mess!! hee hee

As soon as the band before The Posies went off (Grant Lee Buffalo) my friend and myself rushed in and got right at the front. It was quite easy to get there as hoards of people were leaving to see The Lemonheads on the main stage. The tent was definitely full though by the time The Posies came on.

Now for the review……… I was totally blown away. I don’t think I have enjoyed seeing a band play that much in a long time. The thing I really liked was how much the band seemed to enjoy playing. Ken Stringfellow was just so cool (as were the rest) and he was smiling for nearly the entire show. I was also surprised at how young Ken looked !!! How old are the band? ? As for the music….it was really flawless. The vocals and harmonies were totally excellent. I was also surprised to see Ken and Jon sharing the vocals as I was sure it was just one of them singing on their albums.

The band came on and started with “Definite Door,” which was excellent. The only old stuff they played was “Golden Blunders” and “Any Other Way” from ‘Dear 23’ and they didn’t do anything from ‘Failure’ at all 😦 I think they played everything from ‘Frosting…’ except for “20 Questions” and “Coming Right Along.” My particular faves were “Flavor of the Month” (where is the “u” in flavour!!) which was great to sing my head off to, “Love Letter Boxes” and “Lights Out” which was totally excellent and very eeries (Indiana?!!!). Another one of my friends jointed us at the front during the set and was a bit “under the influence” hee hee. I got him to shout SURRENDER at the end for a joke and I think one of them laughed…..I also enjoyed all the witty little remarks the band came out with …. very amusing!! One other funny thing that happened was that the band started one of the songs while the bassist was changing basses. They had a bit of a laugh about that and the bass player was really funny!!

Overall I absolutely lovvved the show and was so excited and singing my head off!!!!! I can’t wait to them in London on Thursday. The club they are playing at is billiant and it’s gonna be excellent 🙂 🙂 🙂 can’t wait!!! Oh yeah, if you speak to Ken soon tell him they were great and I loved the show!!!

After The Posies, I went down to the main stage and watched Dinosaur Jr. As usual they were very good and J Mascis actually spoke to the crows “WOW”!!After Dinosaur Jr finished, we all met up and went to watch Big Star in the smaller tent. When I met two of my friend who went and watched the Lemonheads they also told me they had just seen Evan Dando and Juliana Hatfield and got their autographs. I think someone didn’t like me that day! I was down the front for Big Star and they were all excellent as well Ken and Jon were absolutely brilliant as all the songs sounded like it was the original line up. It was really nice that the other two Posies were watching down the side. All the classics were played, like “September Gurls” and I had a great time all around. Alex Chilton didn’t smile much though!! Cor, I got to see the first UK dates for The Posies and Big Star in one day!

After Big Star, it was back to the tent and open a bottle of wine!!

Well, there’s the review … I hope it’s OK.

The Morrissey Show, Columbus, OH – 6/27/1991

ticket stub, Morrissey 1991

Morrissey in Cincinnati, 1991

(originally written 3.16.07)

Just saw that Morrissey is playing the Paramount in May [1997], and for an nth of a second got excited. But then I remembered the time when I was living in Columbus, OH and I won tickets to go see Morrissey in Cincinnati.It’s a bit of a drive from Columbus to Cincinnati, but it was never an issue to take a road trip for a show, as my friends can attest. We’d pile into the bumper-stickered Volvo with a vast selection of cassettes carefully chosen for the selected show and drive as far as necessary.

I was a huge fan of The Smiths, and for years had an advertisment for the UK Smiths “Queen is Dead” tour on my full-length mirror, one that I had carefully clipped out from a Melody Maker that I had purchased from the local “cool” record store on one of my regular visits. I had never seen The Smiths live, and while I liked some of Morrissey’s solo work, it wasn’t the same. But! Winning tickets to the show made it a foregone conclusion that I would at last see the illustrious MORRISSEY!! Awesome.

So we went the show, which was at an outdoor ampitheatre, took our seats and waited for the magic to begin. The show starts, but before long, there were some sort of issues with security that kept interrupting the show – Morrissey’s pissed at the interruptions, throws some kind of fit, and after six songs, storms offstage. Aaaaand… that’s the show, kids!

What a scam. I remember being glad that I had won my tickets, because if I would have had to pay for that show, I’d have been royally p.o.’ed. So I say, no thanks to you, Mr. Steven Patrick Morrissey and your stupid Paramount show. 😛

Here’s a video from a different show on the same tour.

Jane’s Addiction / Henry Rollins Band, Cleveland, OH – 11/27/90

Review, Jane’s Addiction/Henry Rollins Band
Cleveland Agora
27 November 1990

When Jane’s Addiction played in Pennsylvania a few weeks ago, they only performed eight songs, citing lack of enthusiasm on the part of the audience for the short set. Well, Perry and friends didn’t need to worry about the enthusiasm of the sold-out crowd at the Cleveland Agora Tuesday night.

The show began at 8:15, with Henry Rollins Band as the opening act. Rollins, formerly of Black Flag, and the rest of the band performed a tight, 45-minute set, consisting of mostly new songs with a few Black Flag songs thrown in for good measure. There was a high level of intensity throughout the set.  Rollins was like a rattlesnake, coiled to strike as he rocked back and forth on the stage. He did lunge at one of the several stage divers as he was stalking across the stage. Near the end of the set, Rollins finally asked politely that the audience stay off the stage.  The crowd’s enthusiasm was not dampened by the announcement, however; and the slam pit at the front of the stage kept the security guards busy all night long.

At 9:30, under the smoky haze of red and purple lights, Jane’s Addiction kicked into high gear. They performed several songs from their three albums, including “Whores” and “1%,” “Up the Beach,” “Obvious” and “Then She did…” Perry Farrell’s vocals were somewhat fuzzy during the first few songs, but that was quickly fixed by the sound men. There were a few other technical glitches during the show; however, they were due more to overzealous fans that to the band or the crew.

At one point, a stage diver (yes, they reappeared) took the mic with him as he leapt back into the crowd. This caused the show to stop momentarily while the crew retrieved the mic. Of course, once the mic was returned, the band responded to the crew with “Thank You Boys.”  The crowd obviously consisted of many fans as they sang along to “Standing in the Shower, Thinking” “Been Caught Stealing” “Ain’t No Right” and “Stop,” among others.

The lighting and stage set complemented the music of the band. Colored Christmas lights were strewn along the back of the stage. Along the sides, flowers and icons were overflowing from the shelves, which gave the whole stage the look of a shrine.

In all, aside from the distractions of a few overzealous fans, Jane’s Addiction delivered a very high-energy show.

– me

Here’s a video from a different night of the same tour:

The Sisters of Mercy, Cleveland, OH – 4/2/91

Sisters of Mercy ticketstub, 1991

The Sisters of Mercy – Agora Theatre, Cleveland OH 4/2/91

Who better than my 21 year old self to describe the night I saw The Sisters of Mercy, which, oddly enough, was exactly 20 years ago today? Here’s my journal entry from April 3, 1991, the day after the show.

Trav & I went to see The Sisters of Mercy show in Cleveland last night. We got to the Agora at 7:15ish I figured that since the show was general admission*, we could get close to the stage (good figuring). so here we were: diagram time!

stage and audience diagram

The masses, me & Trav, security

Very, very close to the stage! But it doesn’t end there, nope. The set ends, but they are going to come out for an encore, surely. But suddenly, I ask Trav if he wanted to hang out by the buses, as we might catch them before they got on. So we debated for a minute and left. We found a stage door and were hanging out momentarily when a woman roadie came out and she told us we could go in, the door was open. So Trav goes walking in like he owns the place. AND WE HUNG OUT BACKSTAGE FOR THE WHOLE ENCORE! We could see EVERYONE! One roadie asked us for our passes and I told him that woman told us we could come in and he said that was cool.

After the show, we talked to a couple more roadies and they told us about the other stage door where everyone would come out. So, we waited [I remember it was really super cold and we were freezing our butts off waiting around for ages] and eventually Andrew came out and walked right by us and didn’t even stop (which was disappointing). But we decided to wait for the rest of the band. So we were waiting. and waiting. This guy came out with a guitar and asked us if we were waiting for autographs. We said yeah, and he told us that he’d drop off the guitar and TAKE US IN TO MEET THE REST OF THE BAND!!!!!!!!! And he did!

Journal Entry #1, part 2, 1991

OMG!!!!!!!

So, we met the rest of the band and it was cool. We got a poster and autographs!

Dressing Room Sign, 1991

So we had a good time. It was long, but definitely worth it. The songs included

  • Dominion / Mother Russia
  • This Corrosion
  • First & Last & Always (opener!)
  • Body & Soul
  • Gimme Shelter
  • Amphetamine Logic
  • Vision Thing (last song)
  • Ribbons
  • Lucretia My Reflection
  • MARIAN!!!
  • Detonation Blvd.
  • Something Fast
  • I Was Wrong
Here’s a video from a different night of the same tour:

*general admission shows mean there is no assigned seating, and often, no seats at all.

The Posies, Dear 23

In the fall of 1990, I was the sole employee for an independently owned record store located in an unglamorous suburb of Akron, Ohio.  We were located in a long and slender shoebox-shaped space in an unremarkable strip mall located across the street from a televangelist headquarters that had a giant concrete tower and an all-you-can-eat buffet as defining characteristics.

One afternoon, I was opening the mail. We had received the usual miscellany — some invoices, some promotional material, some padded envelopes from labels. I used to open the padded envelopes first. Padded envelopes meant music – usually promos or advanced copies of artists that I could throw on while I opened the rest of the mail.  I opened an envelope from Geffen Records, selected an album by a band called The Posies, stuck it in the player and hit “play.”

Dear 23 was the name of that album, and it was played by me not just once, but repeatedly for hours and then days on end. I worked at the store from 11am til 8 or 9pm daily. By work, I mean “sit around all day, listening to music and turning people on to quality music.”  Dear 23 qualified as quality music (amazing music! genius music!) in my book and everyone needed to hear this. I think I played that album at least six hours a day every day for a month at least. I was in love with this album.

I wrote a review of the album for a local music newspaper:

Is there something in the water in Seattle, Washington?  Many bands from the Seattle area have recently found themselves releasing debut albums on major labels. One of the most promising of these new bands is Geffen recording artists THE POSIES.

Their album, Dear 23, is reminiscent of the music of The Hollies from the sixties. Lush guitars and striking harmonies are found throughout the album, and they sound extraordinarily good.

However, it is not only the music that makes THE POSIES sound so good, they have have a talent for developing dynamic lyrics. The lyrical diversity ranges from the frustrating hopelessness of “Help Yourself” to the gentle admonition in “You Avoid Parties.” Kenneth Stringfellow and Jonathan Auer have been able to unite the intesity of the music with lyrics that are equally intense.

So, if you’re looking for something new, check out this four-man band from Seattle. THE POSIES are a band that has captured the sound of the sixties, while adding a nineties flair.

The Posies came to town in December 1990. My editor called me a couple weeks before the show: “Hey, that band you like is playing at The Empire – do you want to review the show?” Do I?  “Yes, I do!”  I got the name of the label guy and reported to the venue the night of the show.  “Hey, do you want to meet the band?”  Do I want to meet the band? “Yes, I do!” And away we went to the green room, where I encountered four Posies and a deli tray.  And copies of the newspaper with my review in it. I believe the conversation started like this: “You’re the one who wrote that review!?” “You’re the ones who made that awesome album?” and then continued into one of those magical moments that happen when music lovers bond.  The time quickly came for the show to start – “We have to go play – are you going to stick around after the show?” Am I? “Yes, I am” and off we went, the boys headed to the stage while I positioned myself front and center. It was a fine show.

My review  follows:

I must admit, after listening to The Posies Dear 23 I was a bit apprehensive about seeing them live. Visions of Milli Vanilli were haunting me; I could only hope that The Posies were real.  With notebook and pen in hand, I stepped into The Empire Monday night, silently hoping The Posies wouldn’t let me down. As those of you  who saw the show (or heard it on WMMS) know, The Posies are no Milli Vanilli (THANK GOD!). The Posies are, in fact, one of the most powerful, energetic new bands I’ve seen in a long time.

Opening their set with “My Big Mouth,”  the band jumped into some of the more aggressive songs in their repetoire, including “Under Easy” and “Any Other Way.” In case anyone thought that the Posies are a one-dimensional band, Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow reassured the crowd that there is indeed “a kinder, gentler Posies.”  With this said, bassist Rick Roberts and drummer Mike Musburger left the stage, allowing Auer and Stringfellow to show their vocal and instrumental talents on “You Avoid Parties” and “Apology.”  The only disappointment was the lack of the acoustic guitars on these songs, which were used on the album. The electric guitars caused a bit of feedback on “You Avoid Parties,” but it was quickly fixed. The other band members returned for the rest of the set.

It was evident that The Posies really enjoy performing together as they joked and kidded around both with each other and the audience. They seemed as excited to be on stage as the audience was listening to them.

Afterwards, I sat and talked with Ken and Jon for a long time, and promised to keep in touch.