Archive for April, 2013

The band is playing. Please be quiet.

2013-04-13

I’m not sure what exactly the medical condition is called that prevents adults, usually between the ages of 18-34, from being unable to refrain from talking for periods of 45 to 60 minutes when a band is on stage. And I’m no scientist, Jim, nor am I a doctor,  but I know for a fact it’s a real condition. I’ve seen it first hand, many times. I just don’t understand how some people just can’t stop talking to listen, especially when the band is playing. It’s annoying to me, and it has to be disrespectful to the band.

Some of us, if you can imagine this, love live music, and, well, geeze, maybe came to see AND hear the band perform their music live. No, really, what a concept. Live music. For 45 to 60 minutes. Played by actual musicians. RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU. You can watch them play their instruments, tune them, tell you stories, and showcase some new stuff you’ve probably not heard yet … but all you can do is talk?

I’m not referring to “Oh, that’s a great lyric” or “Wow, what an amazing guitar lick” or “Damn, that rhythm section is tight” type of talk … this has nothing to do with the actual events on stage. These are just random yahoos talking about the random things that make up their random lives. I get clapping, cheering, yelling, showing the band you connect with them and their music and appreciate the vigor they bring to the stage while playing it for you. But just standing talking about work and the kids and TV shows and your new car? Nobody but you really cares about the banality of your daily life, and nobody outside of your circle of friends needs to hear about in a voice loud enough to be heard in a 10 foot radius.

Sadly, this isn’t a one-time event, or something that happens in one venue, or one city, or to one band. Tonight, I was standing 15-20 feet away from a stack of speakers that covered 72 square feet, pumping music at 128 decibels (thanks iPod app that pointed that out to me) and was rather pissed at the general din of the conversation not only being audible, but at many points overpowering the sound coming from the stage.

Yet I’m the bad guy when I politely ask, or, not-so-politely request, someone take their conversation elsewhere because, well, I paid to hear the band play their music, not you talk about your new cell phone (happened at a Cowboy Junkies show in Kent), or how the kids did in school (Red Wanting Blue, Pittsburgh), or how the local sports team won or lost today’s or this week’s game (numerous bands in numerous towns). Seriously … I do not understand why people pay to see a band and then proceed to talk the entire time the band they paid to see is on stage.

And after politely asking, or not-so-politely requesting, someone please be quiet because the band is on, I’ve been threatened, made fun of, pointed out to others as someone who’s bothered by people talking, and, at one show, almost had a sucker punch thrown at me as I walked away, until a friend told the dude, “Uh, he was in the military. And he’s from Youngstown. You might wanna reconsider that.” All because, oh, I wanna HEAR the band I paid to see, not hear you talk.

Tonight, the assclowns who were talking over the finesse band we saw proceeded to yell in my ear, ask if they could clap, try to goad me into an altercation and involve their friends in even more conversation after I asked them to take their conversation elsewhere because I didn’t pay to hear them talk, I paid to hear the band. All of this happened 20 feet from the stage in a venue that had more than 200 people inside.  And by finesse band, I’m talking a band with an upright bassist, cello player, banjo/uke player, drummer who spent as much time behind the kit as playing his cajon (aka slapbox) in front of it, and a lead singer who played acoustic guitar. So the sound was intricate. And layered, and often times very low volume, where all the conversations were drowning it out.

I’m not talking Ronnie James Dio at jet engine level blowing your hair back, whether you have hair or not. This is music that silence is a part of, and when you have dozens of conversations going on in the room, you just can’t get that silence.

Like I said … I just don’t get it.

What’s so hard about being quiet for 45 to 60 minutes when  a band is playing? Is it me? Do I expect too much?

Erica Blinn & The Handsome Machine

2013-04-07

Columbus, Ohio’s Erica Blinn and the Handsome Machine rocked Howlers Coyote Cafe in Pittsburgh on April 6, 2013.

Happy Dog Saloon in Cleveland is Dead to me

2013-04-06

There are very few thing I hate worse than piss poor band management by venues who book live, original music acts on a local, regional or national level. Because there are a great many people who like to see bands play original music, and who will hop in the car, dedicate a night, a few hours or a few hundred miles of drive time to go see a band they like who’s playing somewhere in their geographical reachable area. And usually it’s on a tight schedule … “If we leave by midnight, we’ll be home by 1:30 and I can sleep for six hours before work” kind of schedule. I’ve done it more times than I care to count, and enjoyed damn near every single lost moment of sleep.

And I’m not the only one. I have MANY, MANY awesome music-loving friends who’ve piled in cars, pinched pennies, scrounged for beer money and parking and tolls and cover charges and eaten the shittiest truck stop food to make the trek to see a band they love play live and spend the next day sore from sleeping in a car, cranky from not enough sleep in a car, and loving every minute of it.

Because most of the time, it’s worth the sacrifice.

To see the band. To live that moment. To be in that room. Whether it’s 20,000 fans at the arena; 15,000 fans at the amphitheater, 1,000 at the club or 10 of you in a dive bar, those are the moments where you connect with the music and musicians who matter to you, and nobody can take that away. It’s pure magic.

However, in the unlikely event of a water landing … when you don’t get to see the band through no fault of your own … shit get super serial. Super fast.

I’ve had any number of roadtrips cancelled for any number of reasons: Flat tire. Car problems. Work issues. Family crisis. Weather. Car accidents on your way to the venue blocking traffic for hours. Friends who promise and bail. Bank account issues. And honestly, I’ve had them all. And I hate it, but I suck it up, realize I missed them this time and promise to make better plans to avoid some or all of the above next time THAT BAND I HAVE TO SEE is anywhere near where I am.

But when the stars and planets align, and you have four working tires, good engine, you’re not working and not on call, have no family issues, beautiful weather, everyone is safe on the highways you travel, with a friend by your side and a positive bank balance with cash in your pocket and you get to the venue far enough in advance to get a prime seat or standing position close enough to satisfy your needs, desires and camera capabilities and the band you want to see isn’t playing until several hours AFTER their advertised time, and oh, they’re not the opener but the ‘closer’ now? Or they never play at all?

That, my friends, is a completely different story. And why I will never, EVER, go see a band at Happy Dog in Cleveland again.

About a month ago I got an email from someone who saw this here music blog, and knew it had a Columbus connection, and was playing the Tree Bar (great venue, great management) and asked if I’d share the word.  To be honest, I get, on average, 10 of these a week. Most of the time I have no idea who the band is, and they provide little to no information about themselves, their style, etc. They just want me to pimp their shows. And I listen to them, and don’t like them, and usually ignore the request, because if you don’t have anything nice to say, say nothing at all, right?

But Jeremy Porter was different. I read his email. He’s an old school 80s punk turned 90s rocker turned indie rock Americana guy. I dig that. That’s basically me. But with much more musical talent, as I learned after I went to his band’s website and listened to their music.

I liked it. Hell, I liked it so much I bought the new CD. Wrote a review. Promoted the Columbus show, the Cleveland show and the Pittsburgh show on this here blog, my other regular ass blog, and Facebook and Twitter. Because I really liked the sound of the band. Hell, I even created a Facebook event for the Cleveland show and invited about 60 of my Cleveland-area friends. Eight of which showed up at Happy Dog, Friday, April 5th at 9:00ish to see see Jeremy Porter & The Tucos.

Just like I did.

And after paying our cover charge about 9ish, and having a few fine craft beers, and some food, and listening to 90 seconds of the soundcheck, we were wondering when the band was going to start. Because at 9ish the place was about 80% full. Now it’s 10ish and it’s 60% full.  And it’s 10:30 and it’s 50% full. And still, no music.

So imagine our surprise when at 10:45 the ‘headliner’ (Bill Fox who was with a band called The Mice from 85-88, disappeared until 96, and after a few years disappeared again, only to re-emerge in 2007 … yet I’ve never heard of the guy, so I wasn’t there to see him) starts playing. After a good portion of the crowd that was there an hour ago has already left the building. And nobody’s paying attention.  (Sorry, Bill, I’m sure in a different venue under different circumstances I’d like you. Hell, GBV likes you. And Robert does no wrong, so odds are I’d dig ya plenty, just not tonight, man. Sorry.)

So I walk the 10 feet from where I’m sitting to where Jeremy Porter is sitting. We talked, earlier in the evening, I told him I was excited to see the show and had like 8 people there with me. He thanked me for that, for my review of the album, the Facebook event, blah blah blah … the mutual admiration society rules were in effect and we called it a draw.  So as I walked up to him at 10:45, those rules were gone. I was upset about him NOT opening. And said that.

Then, when he answered, I left upset behind and became hot pissed when I found out he not only knew that they weren’t playing first, he was fine with it. Yet he never took the time to tell that to anyone via Facebook, Twitter, or, oh, yeah, that dude who came to see us and brought his friends sitting 10 feet away from me. That’s just a shitty thing to do to someone who just became a fan, and promoted your shit.

So we left. Two songs into Bill Fox’s set and without seeing anything but 90 seconds of Jeremy Porter’s soundcheck.  Because, after driving 75 miles one way, dropping about $100 in dinner, drinks, tolls, parking and cover charge, hoping to see a band I wanted to see play at 10ish because I had to leave by midnight because of work, it sucked to realize the band I wanted to see wasn’t playing until about midnight because the ‘headliner’ or venue or booking agent or whothefuckever decided that a 9 pm show should start with the alleged headliner starting at 10:45 and the alleged opener should start at midnightish or later, we left.

Had I known that was the timetable, I’d have said Fuck Jeremy Porter and Fuck Happy Dog I would have driven an extra two miles down the road to Brothers Lounge to see Erica Blinn and the Handsome Machine who was allegedly starting at 9:15 … and well, holy shit, they actually started at … wait for it … 9:15.

See, that’s a good venue. And a good band.

So fuck you, Happy Dog. And fuck you, Jeremy Porter, for letting Happy Dog fuck you, and fuck me and 8 people I brought to see you.

Go back to that state up north.

Ryan Smith – Primary Numbers CD Review

2013-04-04

Columbus, Ohio’s Ryan Smith is an amazing lyricist. Soon after moving to Columbus, he was one of the first artists I first saw at Andyman’s Treehouse when he opened for somebody I liked. “Swimming” caught me. “Girls With Glasses” hooked me. His 2006 release “Neil Avenue” was among my  most listened to CDs of that year. I said his 2008 release “I Just Want To Feel That Way” “… could be the best six Paul Westerberg songs that Paul Westerberg neither wrote nor recorded.” (You can read that here.)

After taking some time off to get a rip-roaring DJ business started (and he’s awesome, too, so if you’re in Central Ohio, hire him), I was excited to get an email from him when “Waiting” was released in 2012, and it was rich in layering and some great studio work, and quickly added to the playlist, and became my third favorite EP released last year. In fact, I said in my year-end review (here), that it is “interesting electropop, taking generous use of looping, layering and a bevy of sounds that seem to come from everywhere and nowhere, especially when listening with earphones, or in the car. It’s like a sonic treat for your brain.”

So I was excited to get an email from him with a link to his new album, “Primary Numbers,” before it’s released on April 23, 2013.  To be honest, Ryan’s always hooked me up with his stuff before it’s released, and I’m always glad to get new music. This was no different, i dove in, saw it was 11 tracks, so we’re talking full album, hit the download link, and started listening to it. The first track, “An Introduction of Sorts,” starts of with some interesting synthesized piano, which is in nice change from the guitars he usually uses. And as I sat there listening, I realized … uh … okay … must be an instrumental. With nice layering. Okay. That’s cool. Then “Just Enough To Make It Not Awkward” started playing. More of the same. Instrumental. Synthesized piano. Layering. Loops. For 11 songs. Yep.  Turns out the whole CD is completely instrumental. Which is cool, just not what I was expecting.

I love to see artists I enjoy grow, and evolve and stretch the envelope of their ability, challenge themselves and become more skilled at what they do, and I guess, since his lyrical prowess is already at a level with some of my favorite songwriters, this is a natural progression.

It’s a good album as far as instrumentals go, I’m just not really a fan of instrumentals. I like lyrics way too much, and Ryan writes great lyrics. Anyway, all that being said, here’s a link to the first single, “Simple Things” … you can give it a listen and form your own opinion of it. I’m hoping it grows on me.  “Simple Things” is available for a free download, as most of his music is.  I just feel that many Ryan Smith fans are going to feel the same way I do: Waiting to go back to Neil Avenue because I Just Want To Feel That Way I used to listening to Ryan Smith sing some words.  Now where’s my copy of “Girls With Glasses” at?

Right-Click to download “Simple Things” as an MP3.
(Courtesy of Ryan Smith. Probably until he reads this review.)

Jeremy Porter & The Tucos – Partner In Crime – CD Review / Tour

2013-04-03

jeremyporter

One of the cool things about JACOMB is hearing from artists who are putting out music that I might not find … the latest being Jeremy Porter & The Tucos. Hailing from That State Up North (but we don’t hold that against them), JP has been rocking and rolling the heartland in bands like The Regulars, SlugBug, The OffRamps, and Fidrych, as well as playing solo. He’s played Columbus before, sharing the stage with bands like Watershed and rocking out at Stache’s and the like … and now he’s back, with a new album, “Partner In Crime” and a mini Rust Belt tour that visits Ohio, twice: Thursday, April 4th, at the Tree Bar in Columbus; and Friday, April 5th at Happy Dog in Cleveland; and playing Rock Room in Pittsburgh on Saturday, April 6th.

The new CD, “Partner In Crime,” was released on New Fortune Records in March, and is a great piece of Americana. The 12 songs flow across 46 minutes of heartbreak, heartache, tales of falling for the pizza girl and lamenting about the one who got away. While those sound like pretty much every indie rock album, the music behind the songs, and Porter’s delivery, make them unique. From the rollicking “Pizza Girl” to sad-bastard “Barely All The Time” to the sadder-bastard “Wedding Day” this is a great collection of music, and I’m glad Jeremy brought it to my attention, and hope I can bring it to yours.  I know I’ll be at the Cleveland show … Come on out and support live music and hit the Rust Belt Tour!

Rust Belt Tour:

Thu Apr 4 • Columbus, OH • Tree Bar
Fri Apr 5 • Cleveland, OH • Happy Dog
Sat Apr 6 • Pittsburgh, PA • Rock Room
Fri Apr 19 • Mt. Pleasant, MI • Rubble´s
Sat May 11 • Detroit, MI • Lager House
Sat May 18 • Saginaw, MI • Hamilton Street Pub

The Real California ~ Musica

2013-04-02

The Real California ~ Musica

Ron Copenhaver and Ryan Johanssen of The Real California, captured at Musica! in Akron, Ohio, on January 11, 2013.