January 1, 2010

In Case You Didn't Get The Memo...

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March 21, 2009

No Line on the Horizon: Anatomy of an Album Review

I went to great lengths to not hear U2's No Line on the Horizon until it was officially released on March 3. Believe it or not, I resisted temptation and my first listen was at about 9pm on March 2 (it was already March 3 on the East Coast and the album was available on AmazonMP3). The first listen was at a low volume and all I did was sit and listen...no notes, no real analysis at all. The next day I listened to it pretty much non-stop. That night I got home from work and listened to it with notepad open with the intention of writing a review. I started with rough notes. I kept listening and listening and listening. I went back and forth on how to review the album. Upon first listen I would have rated it 4 stars (out of 5 if I believed in stars). That next day I started to digest it a little more. I started to hear themes and patterns. I recognized that the song structures were similar to what I'd observed in How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb and "Window in the Skies". It started to feel like U2 had created an album for me...or for fanatics. There seem to be lots of hints to other work they'd done going all the way back to Boy. I'm now confident giving it a 5 star review. Here's a quote from The Mad Fishicist [posted without permission]:

"the melodies of unforgettable fire,
the guitars of achtung baby,
the rhythm of pop,
and the sentiment of how to dismantle an atomic bomb got together one night for a few beers,
but got so drunk they couldn't find their keys.

no line on the horizon had them the whole time."

And as a treat, to you few readers who still tune in, I'm including the first notepad text I jotted down on day 2.

1. No Line on the Horizon

wow great opening, feels like a preface to the journey

Verse: my favorite Bono voice register

Chorus – Simplicity

Verse: time is irrelevant…

2. Magnificent

Intro: that’s a meaty chord

Euro dance

Great riff

This will be the live song of the tour!

Very “Until the End of the World”

Edge and Larry rockin us into the chorus

Only Love – Can make such a mark, can heal such a scar

Adam’s challenging himself

I’m air guitaring…I can’t help it in this bridge/solo

I want a djembe a la The Visitor

3. Moment of Surrender

Neat little intro very Achtung Baby

Part "Love is Blindness", part "So Cruel"

Feels like "N + S of the River", might be trying to be the "So Cruel" wherein the drug is the lover.

Bono’s not cheating on the vocals, he’s selling it.

Very theatric

It’s not if I believe in love, if love believes in me…oh believe in me.

Kinda Pink Floyd -> momentary lapse of reason

Understated little solo with piano and Edge taunting us

There’s the Edge…lots of compression, just what the song needs.

4. Unknown Caller
Intro - Feels like "Walk On", birds chirping
Wow, sounds like vocals off of

Verse - Back to Achtung Baby
Bridge - Go Shout it Out, Rise Up
Chorus 2 – Restart and Reboot Yourself, nice

French Horn transitioning to Solo – Edge making guitar sing

5. I'll Go Crazy if I Don't Go Crazy Tonight

Larry nice beat

Cheesy lyrics? Bono, falsetto trying to do the New Radicals thing?

Chorus kicks – great melody, Edge ripping

Answer to cheesy lyrics “The right to be ridiculous is something I hold dear” ironic lyrics?

Background melody in chorus


BABY BABY BABY Bridge (Ultraviolet)

Another solo with Pridesqe sounds including the arena sing along anthem.

Adam winding down.

6. Get On Your Boots

Syncronous bass/guitar…bass pulls through

Ah, "The Fly" of 2009.

You don’t know how beautiful you are (You don’t know octave)

Reminds me of CoBL "Oh you look so beautiful tonight, in the city of blinding lights"

1988 sound

Larry working it.

Let me in the Sound…awesome!

Get on your boots, not get your boots on or put on your boots…interesting

7. Stand Up Comedy

DMB rhythm

Two towers

Fall down, stand up

Lyrics had to have come last

Stop helping God across the road like a little old lady

Historical references...do some research

Small man with big ideas, ha!

Humming into the bridge

Solo in the bridge

They think it’s hardcore, with a few changes it would be.

8. FEZ - Being Born

FEZ- great contrast – Let me in the sound…sounds like Great Expectations sndtrk song…look that up. [edit: "Siren" Tori Amos]

Being Born- driving intro…we’re gonna go somewhere in this song.

Layer 2- Holy… elevated (who’s playing piano?)

Verse – brought it back down, but Larry’s still driving us

Adam – nice

African sun

Chorus? Is this a chorus or a bridge? Is there a chorus? Well crafted structured. Here’s a bridge.

10 bucks says Bono wanted to have some anthemic chorus at one point but simplified it.

How would this look live?

Transistions to drop down for next song.

9. White As Snow

This takes me to Ireland or Sarajevo.

Sounds like Sinead could sing this

Good bridge (?) Lanois on steel string?

There’s Bono’s voice.

10. Breathe

Rhythm intro…

Edge + piano

Rough scratch

John Lennon sounding

3 things 3

These days are better than that

Loose electricity

Strong chorus

Can see this being incredible live


Solo pulls us into a bridge

Chorus is the simple U2 chords we’re used to.

11. Cedars of Lebanon

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s "Love is Blindness"

Intro dissolves

Great percussion

It’s a talkie

Interesting little chorus with the harmony

Return the call to home

Very Eno/Lanois sounding with strings and keys

Abrupt end, brilliant

Feels like "Promenade", but much darker

February 3, 2009

Josh Ritter and Dawn Landes in Anchorage

I spent the week leading up to 1/31 trying to convince everyone I know to show up at UAA’s Wendy Williamson Auditorium on Saturday night for Josh Ritter’s show (mostly through Twitter). This was the third time I’ve seen Josh Ritter live. Once in a solo capacity like Saturday’s show and once with his band; so I knew to expect an intimacy between him and the audience.
I also spent some time leading up to the show getting familiar with Dawn Landes, who was opening the night. Her albums are rather eclectic mixing some blue grass, folk and even some rock. In her performance she immediately won the crowd over with her charm and anecdotes about her Alaska experience. She seemed to thrive in the solo acoustic format, and really seemed to be enjoying herself. Her music is great and I added her catalog to my library via AmazonMP3 and emusic.
Back in October of 2007, I saw Josh Ritter play in Seattle. I’ve blogged this story before, but it’s relevant… ReckenRoll and I were eating across the street from the venue and while I was juggling excitement to see Josh Ritter and excitement that the Red Sox were winning game 7 of the ALCS against the Indians (after trailing 3-1; they went on to win the World Series). I looked up at one point, probably in angst for a server to deliver food, and saw Josh Ritter wandering through the restaurant with a pitcher of beer looking for someone. I flagged him down, mentioned seeing him in San Francisco and being from Alaska. He mentioned that Alaska is on his short list of places he was dying to get back to. I told him, Anchorage supports musicians who are willing to make the trip and it would be a perfect opportunity for a solo show. I’m not saying he followed my advice, but Anchorage did show up and packed the auditorium. He looked happy to have made the trip and led the audience through a trip that only an Idahoan singer songwriter could pull off. There are plenty of Idahoans in Alaska, and they were very excitable at any reference he made to the potato mafia or Miss Junior Idaho. Fittingly he started the show with the song titled “Idaho.” He played a few new songs, one that he said was the first time he played it. The audience was very forgiving of him stopping mid song and starting over, because after all his charm and energy it seemed to work for him. I had a great time, my friends had a great time, people on Twitter had a great time. For all his talent, Josh Ritter is very down to earth and his stage presence (which really seems to just be his presence) gives the audience the idea that he’s a friend of theirs. After an encore that included a duet with Dawn Landes, he closed the show with an accapella version of “The Parting Glass.”
After the show both Josh and Dawn hung around in the lobby of the theater signing autographs and posing for pictures. I walked over to get my picture taken with Josh, and noticed a group of people giving me dirty looks as I sauntered over to him. Turns out there was a line and I was cutting. I walked towards the back of the line, and then decided against standing in line. I regretted it the second I got home (especially since Dawn Landes has quickly become a favorite in iTunes and she didn’t have a line), but not as much regret as those people who didn’t get to experience the show.

January 7, 2009

Breaking Blog Silence: 2008 Albums

Rather than including some diatribe about why this place went silent in July or why the silence is being broken, I’m just going to jump in and start writing again.

Ten albums I couldn’t stop listening to that were released in 2008.

Mates of State – Re-Arrange Us

Smiley happy music is what I’ve gotten used to from Mates of State as I’ve written about them quite a bit since I first learned about them and saw them play in 2005. Re-Arrange Us doesn’t depart from the happy hooks but shows another level. Some have described it as a maturity, but I think it’s a depth to the indie pop. Quite a fun album!

Matthew Ryan – Matthew Ryan Vs. The Silver State

Despite still not getting the attention his talent deserves, Matthew Ryan quietly released a solid album. Many of the songs ring true to the times with a slumping economy and a election based on hope. While I continue to feel like Bruce Springsteen is willing to release music (Magic) that doesn’t stand up to his best material, Matthew Ryan is unintentionally willing to pick up that torch of Nebraska or The Ghost of Tom Joad and voice those ideals in song.

Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago

Most ‘best of 2008’ lists include the Bon Iver album and for good reason. It’s a solid clean quiet album that works for driving or for background music in the office. The production is done well to capture the songs in what feels very organic or raw, which compliments the tone of the album.

She & Him – Volume One

I’ve been a fan of Zooey Deschanel as an actress since Almost Famous, but also enjoyed her in Winter Passing, The Good Girl, Bridge to Terabithia, but you could see the star quality when she busted out in song in Elf. Fast forward a few years and she teams up with M.Ward to release an album of great songs. She has a great voice, but the rawness of the production comes across like a girl that "just loves to sing" and it’s very refreshing.

The Hold Steady – Stay Positive

I’m still hooked on 2006’s Boys and Girls in America, but Stay Positive was a great follow-up. If you have any doubt that rock and roll can’t survive in today’s music world, The Hold Steady are a great piece of evidence that it’s alive and well. Both albums make me think of Springsteen circa Born to Run or Darkness on the Edge of Town.

Cat Power – Jukebox

Solid collection of covers from Cat Power. Any year Chan Marshall releases an album, it makes my list. But the real question is: when is an album considered a covers album and when is it simply an artist interpreting standards? I’ve read complaints that this album didn’t contain the "Space Oddity" cover that was used in a commercial, but apparently that will be on a future album.

Frightened Rabbit – The Midnight Organ Fight

I wasn’t sure what to think of Frightened Rabbit when I first heard them…in fact, I’m not sure if I’m supposed to like them or if they kind of qualify as a guilty pleasure like Third Eye Blind, Matchbox 20 or Dashboard Confessional. The album is solid and I have enjoyed letting the images surround me. Much of the angst doesn’t apply to my life today, but it definitely takes me back through times in my life.

MGMT – Oracular Spectacular

This is a fun album. I’m sure there’s some substance to the songs, but I’m still enthralled by the multilayer sounds and beats. I’m not the biggest fan of electronic music, but 2008 seemed to be my year of listening to it. MGMT do it pretty uniquely.

Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend

This is an unapologetically fun album. This album and the band got a lot of hype prior to it being officially released, but with the upbeat songs with clean production and a world music vibe, it’s a great album to get through a long day.

Blitzen Trapper – Furr

I’m a sucker for Portland music, but this album is a solid well crafted effort. A little country a little rock and roll, this album has them both covered. Plenty of sounds packed into this album to keep your ears busy.

Honorable Mentions: Or albums I listened to quite a bit, but that didn’t live up to my hopes for them.
Don't get me wrong, I liked these albums, but they didn't quite reach my expectations.

Coldplay – Viva La Vida

Counting Crows – Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings

Guns N' Roses – Chinese Democracy

My Morning Jacket – Evil Urges

Ryan Adams - Cardinology

Death Cab For Cutie – Narrow Stairs

July 29, 2008

Remember To Remember Me: Wilco Plays Anchorage's Moose's Tooth

There's something to be said for a band that can make the opening line of a concert "I dreamed of killing you again last night, and it felt alright to me" sound beautiful. That's the opening line of "Via Chicago", which Wilco used to open their Anchorage show Saturday night. Anchorage did well filling the parking lot of Moose's Tooth despite the rain. It rained all day and all night Saturday, but it didn't stop people from showing up and showing Wilco much deserved love. Jeff Tweedy made several references to the weather and the hardcore Alaskans who refused to let it affect us. The set was flush with popular tunes with a few new songs mixed in. One of the new songs was ironically "Sunny Feeling." The crowd was into it and stuck it out despite the weather. The mix of beautiful folk based songs overlayed by loud and rowdy bursts from Nels Cline and Glenn Kotche were perfectly executed. Overall, it was pretty surreal to see Wilco playing Anchorage. Local guys The Whipsaws (who've gotten plenty of pub on this blog) opened the show with a high quality set any band in the states would be proud of.

Anchorage Daily News Review (set list is in the comments of the ADN article)

July 23, 2008

Last.fm Only Gets Better

Occasionally I've seen the module above show my top 8 listened to artists (which adds Springsteen and Counting Crows into the mix), but it's a new and improved view of what I've been listening to. In all fairness, the majority of my music listening has been at work lately and I rely heavily on data CD's of MP3's, to which I have entire discs of my favorite artists, but the counts go back to 2006, so what can you say? If you haven't checked it out at all, or lately, give Last.fm your attention.

July 19, 2008

Everyday Music Series: Dave Matthews Band, Before These Crowded Streets (1998)

I've often thought of the mixed feelings that must be associated within a musician when they put together a great album. There's so much work that to have a successful product must be so satisfying, but there must also be a sense of anxiety. To make a great album, so many things have to come together perfectly. There needs to be great songwriting, great performances, and great production. A record company would also say that the marketing of the album is key to making it great too, but so many great albums don't get discovered until well after the record company has stopped promoting them, the art of a great album will be timeless. All three facets I mention above need to be solid. A collection of well written songs can get lost if the performance lacks depth or the production doesn't bring it all together.
An album like Before These Crowded Streets is one of those times that songwriting, performance, and production all came together. People that loved Dave Matthews for songs like "Satellite" and "Crash" probably had a hard time initially getting their heads wrapped around BTCS, because with a couple of exceptions, the album went in a different direction that previous DMB albums. To me the album is a perfect melding of darker, minor key undertone with melodic almost anthemic bridges and choruses. There's a common feel throughout the album. The first single released from the album was "Don't Drink The Water" which set the tone for the mainstream reaction with it's haunting, deep rhythm set against an uplifting chorus. Mix in Bela Fleck's bango and Alanis Morissette's background vocals and it's hard to find a piece of the spectrum that isn't used by producer Steve Lillywhite. The songs are thick but still had commercial appeal with "Stay (Wasting Time)" and "Crush" getting lots of airtime back in the day. Well worth tracking down a copy and giving it a second shot. Near perfect albums are rare, and I'm not sure Dave Matthews has released anything close to the perfection of Before These Crowded Streets. My favorites are "Pig", "Halloween", "Don't Drink the Water", "The Stone" and "Crush".

July 13, 2008

How Did You Get So Into Music?

A friend and colleague asked me that yesterday and I kind of blanked on a good answer, so my answer likely resembled mumblings about rock and roll, growing up in the 80's, coming of age during grunge, etc. I think I could probably write a book to answer the question if I could organize my thoughts. It's an interesting question that I'm certain to explore here. In the meantime, feel free to answer the question for yourself in the comments.

July 7, 2008

Ticket To Ride

I started a new ongoing project this past weekend when I found a box full of photos and ticket stubs. Here is a link to the Flickr photo set for concert/sporting event tickets I've gone through. The cache I found mostly fell within the 14 months I lived in California, but definitely isn't a complete collection yet. I know there are plenty more buried in various boxes throughout my home, so I will continue to update it as new tickets come along and I find more old ones.

July 6, 2008

Paste Magazine Mentions Anchorage Pizza

There's a little Anchorage love in the newest issue of Paste Magazine. In the section titled "The Informer" July 26 is owned by a picture of Jeff Tweedy with the copy if you can't read it "7/26 Wilco plays the 12th-anniversary party of some place called The Moose's Tooth in Anchorage, Alaska." I know a handful of people who were hanging around the Moose's Tooth 12 years ago...probably sitting around talking about Wilco's Being There enjoying Pipeline Stout or a Fairweather I.P.A. with Alaska's best pizza. Judging by the response to Son Volt, Third Eye Blind, and even Elton John at least Wilco will walk away from their July 26 show knowing what Anchorage and the Moose's Tooth are all about.

June 20, 2008

Viva La Vida En Viernes

In an effort to post more regularly, I offer you some new(er) music that's getting a lot of play with me on this summer Friday.

Coldplay - Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends
Jakob Dylan - Seeing Things
Death Cab For Cutie - Narrow Stairs
Weezer - Weezer (The Red Album)
My Morning Jacket - Evil Urges

I can vouch for these. Check them out.

June 16, 2008

My Father's Day, First Pitches, and a Bit About Tim Russert

I don’t have a bucket list. I do have a mental list of things I’d like to say I’ve done, and yesterday I got to officially cross one off. I threw out the first pitch at a baseball game. Now, it wasn’t Fenway or even PGE Park as I have always imagined, but I enjoyed the opportunity tremendously.

It’s one of those things that is both easy and hard to check off of a list. DigiTel, the company I work for is a sponsor of the Mat-Su Miners based in Palmer, AK. Yesterday we were the primary sponsor for the game. It involved lots of giveaways, and the opportunity to throw out the first pitch. With my love of baseball and my years of playing the sport, I jumped at the chance.

The combination of baseball and business makes it fitting that this event happened on Father’s Day. When I was a kid, my dad would come home from a full day of work to play catch, catch my often wild pitches, coach third base at games (who loved to send base runners to steal home), and was always the most supportive dad on all the teams I played on.

My dad has been a great example to me in business too. He’s always said that having a firm understanding of how the little things make up the big picture helps making big decisions easier.

Years and years ago, I took a summer job working as a contractor for his company while they went through an inventory management system installation. My work consisted of lots of data entry and working out the kinks on the database as it was implemented to the warehouse. Spending as much time with the warehouse guys gave me a good appreciation for how the blue collar working guys saw my dad. Union tensions were pretty high that summer as a few other unions went on strike, but getting the perspective of the union warehouse guys of my dad and his role in operations management let me know that he wasn’t just another ‘suit’ to them. Whether it was because he understood the parts of the whole, or because he found common ground relationally with the guys, they respected him and his role whether the union appreciated that or not.

He’s been an example of how to lead, how to organize and how to remain loyal despite the company not always being loyal to you.

I'm a weekly watcher of both Meet the Press and Tim Russert's MSNBC show, so the sad news of his death and the tributes that followed have been showing up in my Tivo recordings a lot the last few days. One thing Tom Brokaw and James Carville talked about on the special Meet The Press yesterday was how Tim Russert would become a fan of what his friends were fans of, he'd call Carville about LSU touchdowns, Mike Barnicle even mentioned how excited he was Thursday night about the Celtics coming back to beat the Lakers (I can't share that enthusiasm) with a midnight phone call. My dad shares this enthusiasm not just about sports teams, but will go above and beyond to learn about what his friends and family are in to. Whether it means buying an album on iTunes, sending articles about a particular industry to a friend, or calling the moment the last out of the Red Sox winning the World Series, he's dedicated to finding or creating common ground.

Whether baseball, business, or life, my dad has been a great influence on who I am and who I want to be. Thanks, Dad for the example, the advice (the more true; the harder to take), and for making time for a game of catch (even as adults). Know that I’ve found those times priceless.

June 9, 2008

turns out this post is all about gordon lachance

I've been reading Wil Wheaton's blog as long as I've known what a blog was. Today is the first time that I can remember him writing about Stand By Me. Never a big fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation, but Stand By Me is #1 on my list of favorite movies. I'm sure it has to do with me being 12ish the first time I saw it. I've also read the book several times...and to truly prove just how big of a Stand By Me goof ball I am, my friends and I submitted Senior Memories for each of the 4 main characters in Stand By Me to our high school yearbook. Not only did Gordie, Chris, Vern and Teddy get immortalized in the Hillsboro High School yearbook in 1993, but also the members of U2 apparently graduated with me too. Seems like it would've been harder to get things published in the yearbook, but alas it wasn't even due to my being on yearbook staff that these slipped by.

(Photo via Wil Wheaton's flickr photos)

June 8, 2008

Son Volt at First Tap

Every month the folks at Moose's Tooth celebrate the first tap of the month. Thursday night they did so with the help of Alt.Country/Americana royalty. I've mentioned Son Volt before as royalty when I saw them at the Fillmore in San Francisco just before jumping on a plane and returning to Alaska. So it wasn't my first time seeing them, but believe it or not in my nearly 5 years of living in Anchorage, this was my first time attending a first tap event. Local singer/songwriter Jared Woods opened the night with some sensitive songwriter songs...to which a friend who hadn't heard Son Volt before leaned over and asked if this is what Son Volt sounded like. I've seen Jared Woods several times in several different venues and combinations, but Thursday was the first time I didn't enjoy his schtick. It's common practice for bands that come to Alaska to book local talent to open for them. And I'm happy to see when Wilco (featured on the front page of Wikipedia today) plays in Anchorage in July, The Whipsaws are the opening act.
Once Son Volt took the stage, they hit hard and kept punching. Several classic Son Volt songs as well as a good mix of songs from The Search. It didn't seem like there was the same level of energy on stage in the Beartooth as there was at the Fillmore last year, but it may have been the difference between leaning against the legendary stage and being seated in a booth at the back of the theater pub. All in all, it was a great show and showed again that if musicians however big show up in Anchorage, the crowds will follow.

May 29, 2008

Elton John in the 49th State

Elton John stepped onto the Sullivan Arena stage on Wednesday night like he owned the place. While I have no doubt that with nearly 50 years of albums and tours, he can afford the place; it took a unique interaction with an Alaskan crowd to win the favor of the whole town. To recap the degree of buzz surrounding Sir Elton’s Alaskan journey, you must know that big name artists don’t come to Anchorage. And sometimes if they do book a show in Anchorage, there’s a long history of artists canceling their shows. As I mentioned in a previous post, Elton John originally booked 2 Alaska shows as part of a complete the USA effort to play all 50 states. The Anchorage show sold out in 58 minutes, which led to concert promoters scheduling a second Anchorage show for Friday night, which apparently sold out in 55 minutes.

With a little back story it should come as no surprise to you that there was a lot of energy in the air Wednesday night. Fairly promptly after 8pm, Elton John took the stage to thunderous applause. He made a point to wave and salute each section of the arena. Throughout his performance he consistently smiled and waved, and acknowledged the entire crowd. Speaking of the performance…it couldn’t have been better! He kicked off the two and a half hour set with “Your Song” and mixed in with several lesser known songs from older albums, he thrilled the crowd with classics like “Tiny Dancer”, “Daniel”, and “Levon.”

Above all it was a great reminder of how much Elton John has contributed to the musical landscape over the past 40 years. Everyone has their “Tiny Dancer” moment like one of my favorite Almost Famous scenes. Everyone has a “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” moment or “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” moment. And whether images of Marilyn Monroe or Diana, Princess of Wales come to mind during “Candle in the Wind” the point is that Elton John’s music has done one of those amazing things by moving you, sticking in your mind or just bringing a pleasant memory back to you.

(Anchorage Daily News review)

May 20, 2008

New Music Tuesday: Re-Arrange Us and Get Better

I've had "Get Better" rattling around my head for the last few weeks whenever something else isn't distracting my mind. I purposely avoided the pre-release that Mates of State was offering on their myspace page...and boy did it pay off. This morning I grabbed the new album off of AmazonMP3 ($7.99 as opposed to the $9.99 iTunes is charging) and I love it. I've only listened to it twice all the way through it, but already love the energy and feeling of the album. Don't ask me to explain any deeper meaning of the video below for "Get Better" just know that it's my song of the summer so far. As I've done before I highly recommend checking out 2006's Bring It Back and add Re-Arrange Us to the list of must have albums for 2008. I will warn you now that this album could lead to smiling, dreaming better dreams, foot tapping and a general feeling of hope. If I were a Portlander still, I'd drop everything and drive to Bend to see them play the Schwab on Saturday. Enjoy the vid.

May 11, 2008

My Mother's Day

My mom is the greatest! Here are a few pics to show a few of the ways that she is great.

My mom met INXS.My mom always has time for a trip to Disneyland.My mom loves a good time and always knows how to dress for an occasion.My mom is a great leader, especially when an adventure is afoot. My mom loves to hike and is never afraid of where her feet might take her.My mom is cringing at having these 5 pictures of her up on my blog but is so polite, I won't hear about it. Love you, Mom.

May 10, 2008

There's A Lesson To Be Learned From Elton John

When Elton John announced he was coming to Anchorage, there was a buzz in the city. I can't tell you how many friends and co-workers asked "Are you going to Elton John?" There was an excitement with people young and old.
Let's back up a bit. My understanding of what is bringing Sir Elton to Anchorage is there are a handful of states he's never played in the US, so with his greatest hits tour, he scheduled himself in places like Vermont and Alaska. He scheduled one show in Anchorage and one in Fairbanks.
So, back to Elton.
The tickets went on sale Monday morning at 10am local time. I'm a big fan of old Elton, and can occasionally tolerate new stuff when I don't have control of the music. I find myself singing along with his songs...even occasionally a Lion King era song. So in light of it being a greatest hits tour and the novelty of him coming to Anchorage, I logged into my lucky Ticketmaster.com account at 9:50am and rested my browser on the Elton John/Sullivan Arena page. At 9:58, I hit refresh and where it previously said "Not Available Until May 5 at 10am" now said select your tickets. Grabbed best available and had the confirmation email by 10:02. I watched Anchorage Twitterers chattering about trying to get tickets and soon after received a breaking news email from ADN.com that the Elton John show sold out in 58 minutes. He has since added a second night after the Fairbanks show that goes on sale Monday (5/12), but this is where the lesson can be learned.
No it's not a lesson of how a lucky Ticketmaster.com account can beat people who camp out all night at the brick and mortar box office, no it's not a lesson in how Twitter can guide you to the least busy Fred Meyer (though, it could've), it's a lesson for musicians and bands that ignore the Anchorage market. Sure there isn't a great venue, sure it costs a lot of money to bring extravagant sets and 100 piece bands, but what Elton John can teach you is that if you make the effort, Anchorage will show up. I haven't seen any stats on how fast Wilco, Third Eye Blind or Son Volt tickets are selling for their summer dates, but many more people have heard of Elton John than any of them.
So let this be the summer that re-defines Anchorage as a must stop on any North American tour. We're hostages of ClearChannel up here so the discovery of new music is a challenge for the average Alaskan, but even when Colin Hay came up last summer the Discovery Theater was packed, not to mention plenty of local talent that would love to say they opened for a big nationally recognized band. So, for the record, when Elton plays Sullivan Arena on May 28th, I'll be singing along from row 15.

April 22, 2008

New Music Tuesday: Revisiting Matthew Ryan vs. The Silver State

Life hasn't gotten any less hectic since I cut my Matthew Ryan review to 6 words, but in all the busyness, I've had plenty of time to digest the new album. The album kicks off with "Dulce Et Decorum Est" which not only sets up the album, it showcases the eloquence and beauty Ryan puts into crafting his songs. The title is Latin for "it is sweet and right" and the rhythm, melody and the haunting echo of Kate York's vocals draw me in to where I almost don't notice the introduction of the violin into the sound scape. One of the elements I've always loved about Matthew Ryan's music is the way he injects his unique whisper-like voice into the songs whether they are a slow or an upbeat song, it's still a bit of sadness and joy mixed up. Other highlights on the album are "Closing In" and "Meet Me By The River" wherein Brian Bequette adds haunting guitar to the picture drawn. "A Rainy Night in Soho" ("Now I'm not singing for the future/though I'm not dreaming of the past/I'm not talking about the first time/I never think about the last") is best taken with two fingers of whiskey, neat in a rocks glass. Again Matthew Ryan brings blue collar themes that are reminiscent of Springsteen like in "American Dirt", but in the same breath there are elements that sound like an analog new wave. The combo that was assembled to record this album pushed Ryan's brilliance to a new place. While he revisits some of the energy of his earlier records, it's definitely more sonic and organic than his last album From a Late Night High Rise which leaned a lot on the quiet and electronic. If you ask me, he has a strong enough track record that he's set himself up to be a can't miss artist from here on out. Matthew Ryan vs. The Silver State is a solid addition to the library. Just don't confuse him with (near)future first round draft pick Matt Ryan.

I forgot to include the tour dates for the MRVSS Tour...no West Coast, and of course no Alaska, but if you find yourself anywhere near these dates, it'll be well worth your time and effort to see him live.

May 1 ASHEVILLE, NC The Grey Eagle
May 2 ATLANTA, GA Eddie's Attic
May 3 CHARLOTTE, NC The Evening Muse
May 4 RALEIGH, NC Berkeley Café
May 6 ARLINGTON, VA The Iota
May 7 NEW YORK, NY The Living Room
May 8 PHILADELPHIA, PA World Café Live
May 9 PITTSBURGH, PA Thursday's
May 10 INDIANAPOLIS, IN Sam's Saloon
May 13 CHICAGO, IL Schuba's
May 14 CLEVELAND, OH Beachland Tavern
May 15 ANN ARBOR, MI The Ark
May 16 FORT WAYNE, IN Come2Go
May 17 NASHVILLE, TN Mercy Lounge

April 14, 2008

Reader Poll

Update...Over 100 unique visitors in the last two days and only 3 votes came out of that...I've lost your attention more than I thought, haven't I?

5 votes when all is said and done and no one said less less less...