So, how have you been? Did you have a good summer? Did you miss me?
Sorry to have been out of touch. I did a lot of traveling on family business, and stayed busy seeing shows and filing stories online. But my WWW presence has been scuttled on a few ends and you might have thought I had been dragged to the UpsideDown. To recap:
Over at www.whatchagonnaplay.com, there’s good news and bad news.
The bad news: The site’s original web host stopped servicing personal sites earlier this year, so anyone who clicked over to see new set lists and concert photos got the dreaded 404 error message. I had to find a new site host and reload all my files (over 5,000 items!) to the new service.
The good news: I have a new host and am now tackling that reloading process, so the site is back up and running. There are, however, still issues, including many dead-end links. The photo galleries are gone, and where there were once links to my examiner.com reviews, those archives have been scrubbed and all those links now lead to a single URL, the home page of AXS.com.
How did that happen? More electronic mayhem. Examiner.com ceased publication, also this summer, and gave contributors only about a week’s notice before dumping all its stories. I had written about 200 articles for the site over the last five years and, though I grabbed as many links as I could, thinking they would remain accessible, the company changed them all over to the home page of its sister site, AXS.com. I also scrambled to grab PDFs and screen shots of some of my favorite articles but didn’t get them all. Alas, even those I was able to get do not include the original slideshows which usually had between 10-20 concert photos.
But you can still find proof that I love music and write about it.
In late 2014, I started writing for AXS.com (although I preferred doing examiner stories) and have about 20 stories on that site that are still visible.
Happily, The Washington Post archives still offer links to much of the work I did for them in the years when I was writing biweekly columns on arts events (mostly concerts) for two different local sections. Unhappily, I am having trouble connecting to my master list of clickable links that was featured on an older version of CPF.
AAARGH. I could use an IT department. But I’m learning as I go and will be working to bring all the goodies up to date.
So, that’s why I’ve been out of sight/site for awhile. Glad to back and more to come!
This little into bit here is always the hardest part of having a blog, trying to come up with some pithy way to say hello and fill in the gap from last we met. So I’m going to cut to the chase – I’ve been to some fine shows lately and wrote them up for my examiner.com column, with photo slideshows for all but one (the venue didn’t allow me to shoot). Here’s some links to bring you up to date, with photo samples to, hopefully, tease you into clicking through:
Wolf Trap summer season opener, with Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and Preservation Hall Jazz Band
The Strawbs revisit “Hero and Heroine” (an album that looms large in my personal legend) at AMP by Strathmore
The Avett Brothers with Brett Dennen (8th row seats for an amazing show!) at Eagle Band Arena (formerly the Patriot Center)
Thao and the Get Down Stay Down (she went to high school with Dr. Daughter), plus Saintseneca (a new favorite) at the 9:30 Club
Robyn Hitchcock and Emma Swift (a veteran hero and a bright newcomer) at the Barns of Wolf Trap
Gaz Coombes (from Supergrass) and Piney Gir at Jammin Java
A trio of great local acts at Jammin Java – Sub-Radio, Swell Daze and Belmira
And there’s more coming soon, as I’m editing pics and writing text about another recent fine show – Nathaniel Rateliff and the Nightsweats (“S.O.B.”!!)
who opened for Lord Huron. See ya soon!
…for a musical announcement. Kanye West has released a new album.
We will return soon with more talk about music discoveries in England.
My next music source, accounting for the majority of my U.K. CD purchases, was discovered by accident, when I popped into Poundland to buy toilet paper. Much like our American dollar stores, the Poundland chain offers a mish-mash of items priced at £1 or £2 pounds per, or mixtures thereof (3 for £2, etc.). To my delight, the store had a fairly large wall section devoted to CD’s and DVDs in fully guaranteed “replay” condition. (Upon opening, I found them all in superb condition.)
If I were Robbie Williams, I’d be worried. The former Take That singer hardly registers a blip with American audiences, but is a stadium-filling star in the U.K. And yet, in his homeland, you can find an extensive slice of his discography –at least a half dozen titles – in the Poundland racks. I have all the Robbie Williams, I need, so I went for others. At an exchange rate close to $1.50, I bought the following over the course of two visits, restricted not by price but by the need to conserve packing space. (As it is, I left all the jewel cases at home, preserving only digi-paks and multiple disc sets):
1. The Pigeon Detectives – Emergency (PIAS/Dance to the Radio, 2008) I’d heard the name before and loved the album graphics – cartoon rocketship, spacemen with rayguns. Listening now, it’s a bright, easy pop sound. Titles like “Love You for a Day (Hate You for a Week)” and “Keep On Your Dress” give it a cheeky monkey feel.
2. Guillemots – Through the Windowpane (Polydor, 20066) Before we left the U.S., younger daughter and I were talking about music she liked back in Toronto, where she’s lived for the past five years. She mentioned liking this band, which I had no knowledge of, so buying this was a no-brainer.
3. Moshi Monsters – Music Roxy (Mind Candy, 2012) Again, the graphics got me – some kind of kids show, with a trippy anime-meets-Teletubbies vibe. From Wikipedia: “Moshi Monsters is a website aimed at children aged 6–12 with over 90 million registered users in 150 territories worldwide. Users choose from one of six virtual pet monsters…” and “once their pet has been customized, players can navigate their way around Monstro City, take daily puzzle challenges to earn ‘Rox’ (a virtual currency), play games, personalize their room and communicate with other users in a safe environment (most [sic] the time).”
Not surprisingly, the little dudes’ success has led to Moshi Monsters Magazine (“the number-one selling kids’ magazine in the UK”), a video game, books, toys, and a feature film which one Englsh critic said “will leave adults bored, stupefied, revolted and appalled.”
The music here? Very synthy, with chipmunk-y vocals on some tracks, and a few actually catchy pop/rap mixes, like “Moptop Teenybop (My Hair’s Too Long).” Kids just wanna have fun, after all. BTW, In 2011, Lady Gaga’s legal team was granted an injunction by a U.K High Court High Court to stop the Monsters’ parent company from releasing music by a character named Lady Goo Goo, including the parody “Peppy-razzi” (similar to “Paparazzi”). There’s nothing of such a parody nature to be had here
4. Sander Kleinenberg – Renaissance: Everybody (Renaissance, 2003) Again, Wikipedia: “a Dutch disc jockey, VDJ and record producer. He founded and runs Little Mountain Recordings and THIS IS Recordings. Kleinenberg is well known for his use of digital video in concerts, his “Everybody” and “THIS IS” brands of club nights and albums…” He’s also done remixes for Justin Timberlake, Madonna, Janet Jackson, Daft Punk, and Katy Perry, among others.
I knew none of this, but the double-CD compilation – still just one pound! – seemed like a good way to hear some new (to me) electronica. It’s playing as I type this and while I enjoy the genre as energizing background music, I also wonder whether some of these compilations are the musical equivalent of a bottle of wine – cost about $10-15 and, once you’ve enjoyed it, you can put the empty into the recycling.
5. David Craig – Born To Do It (Wildstar, 2000) I recall the name as a British artist of some reknown, and heard him on the radio later on the trip as if to confirm that it was a good pound spent.
6. One Night Only – Started a Fire (2008) Five young moptops walking through a hallway on the cover, and a sticker that reads, “The UK’s most perfectly crafted arena band – NME.” Coming from NME, that could be a slap and not a kiss, but I gave it a go and am enjoying the pleasantly accented pop/rock tunes which, it turns out, were produced by the credible Steve Lillywhite. Alas, the sticker promised extra downloads but they are of a previous software version that cannot be read anymore. (How many of those spiffy enhanced CDs we bought years ago have suffered the same fate?)
It seems that the band is still alive and kicking, having released an album just last year through fan funding. And I just read that the band once toured with the Pigeon Detectives, so I have a complete show!
At the £1 price point, I couldn’t resist a few discs by American artists – titles I didn’t have in the home collection, like:
7. Janet Jackson – Design of a Decade 1986-1996 (A&M) Do I have this CD already at home? May have been fooled by a cover design I don’t recognize, but where else can I get 18 hit tracks for less than 10 cents each?
8. The Killers – Sawdust. (Vertigo U.K. 2007) I didn’t realize they’d recorded with Lou Reed (opening track, Tranquilizer”) or did covers of “Ruby Don’t Take Your Love to Town” (meh) and “Romeo and Juliet” (fine, but nothing beats hearing it in the studio when I went to interview Mark Knopfler during the recording of the Dire Straits original.) (Sorry, I didn’t intend to be an obvious name-dropper, but it just occurred to me, and damn he was lovely to meet!). Except for the dance remix of “Mr. Brightside,” which I already have, not sure there’s much I’d keep after running through most of it.
Chances are, if I’d been in England longer, I would have gone back to Poundland yet again. And would probably have a lot more Robbie Williams in my collection.
Next up, I finally get some NEW music, thanks to Tesco.