Wednesday, March 28, 2007

South-by-Southwest linkage

I have been AWOL for a month now because it's just been so busy in the world of the Bossman. I started blogging for KQED. You can read a post from Noise Pop here, and two posts from South-by-Southwest here and here. And check out my bio here.

In the meantime, Corinne has started a photo blog, or phlog as she refers to it, and has posted some great pictures of some of the acts that rocked Austin last week, as well as a fine picture of yours truly taking a load off after taking in some early-afternoon tuneage.

I'd also like to congratulate my good friend out at the beach on landing a plum gig blogging about music and culture and whatnot for the highly esteemed and highly trafficked Huffington Post, where he joins a staff of bloggers that apparently includes at least one Baldwin brother. (Hint: the one that people still remember.) He hasn't begun posting, but we'll keep you up to date and provide a link when he does. For now, you can continue to bask in his informed taste via The View From Fort Miley.

Please check out all of these blogs while I think of something else to talk about.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Good Hustle!

There was a time when bands were bands, and if a given one was extremely popular, maybe the singer put out a solo record here and there. These days, if you don't have a band, two side projects and a solo career, you're slacking. This is especially true among Canadians for some reason. Witness the myriad offshoots of The New Pornographers, Wolf Parade, Arcade Fire and Broken Social Scene.

True, Broken Social Scene is such a loosely strung together collective that it begs the question "Can the group of artists brought together to sing 'We Are the World' be considered a band?" In any case, core BSS member Andrew Whiteman does have a band of his own, called Apostle of Hustle, that ostensibly allows him to explore his Latin roots within the indie rock aesthetic.

I've only heard a handful of Apostle of Hustle songs, but it seems to me that the inspiration is drawn from several far-flung genres with a consistent focus on rhythm, and a reliance on a variety of percussive sounds, which lends a Cuban flavor to the music. Judging from the well-baited hook, driving rhythm and dynamic harmonizing of My Sword Hand's Anger (on the new album, National Anthem of Nowhere) and the off-kilter bass-and-percussion-infused electronica of 24 Robbers, as well as the globe-trotting, seven-minute island opera that is Folkloric Feel, Apostle of Hustle is as versatile as its singer.

Why am I writing about them you ask? They will be playing the Mohawk day show at SxSW with Annuals, Imperial Teen and Shearwater on Thursday March 15th. And I'm still knee-deep in my extensive South-by-Southwest preparation.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Another Interesting SxSW Find

Every red-blooded patriot should be able to get behind the thrust of this song by an oddball Texas punk band (it's the first song listed in the media player) rather curiously dubbed Hug. You may not agree with the singer's assertion that 'George Bush, he a gooood man', but for the love of God, (don't) take the words of the chorus to heart and (don't) go and take matters into your own hands*.

*The Bossman neither agrees nor disagrees with the lyrics in question. But he is entertained nonetheless.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

This Moment in SxSW Preparation

Those familiar with me are well aware that I have a problem -- nay a compulsion -- when it comes to live music appreciation and the scheduling thereof. So in preparation for my upcoming trip to Austin for SxSW, I have undertaken the immense task of listening to all the bands on the preliminary (and unofficial) list of festival performers that I haven't already heard.

As I am spending my days checking out dozens and dozens of bands (500 or so confirmed so far), I thought it might be worthwhile to share a few that I liked along the way.

Today, while trying to get the skinny on the happenin' day-party scene at SxSW, I ran across a band from Cleveland rather provocatively dubbed This Moment In Black History that will be playing the No Idea Records/The Political Party day show on March 15. Perhaps it was their album titles (It Takes a Nation of Assholes to Hold Us Back, Midwesterncuttalistick), which are as entertaining as their name; or maybe it was because they remind me a little of fellow Clevelanders (Clevelandites? Clevelandians?) Pere Ubu, but I found myself listening to their myspace offerings over and over again.

Check them out for yourselves.

I'll be back soon with more bands that caught my ear.

Update! SxSW has released its preliminary list of performers.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Like the Firebird from the Ash, Phoenix!

Sounds like a good title for Sufjan's 41st album in the 50 States series, 'Oh, My Aching Joints Feel at Home in Arizona'. But that's neither here nor there. Back to the point at hand...

Phoenix, it arises again out of nowhere when you aren't expecting it. Spring Training is back on the minds of the baseball faithful, and for Oakland fans like myself and my friend at the beach, that means pondering a trip to Arizona.

A's fans don't seem to have much to be excited about this Spring, unless you consider watching Mike Piazza DH exciting. Without Barry Zito and Frank Thomas, we can only hope that one or more of the young guys step up and, say, hit .500 or pitch a no-hitter.

I made the trip to Phoenix for the first time two years ago, and, as was my custom at the time, flew solo. O.K., I couldn't find anyone to drag along with me. But it turned out great. Though I didn't have a hotel reservation before hitting town, I met a friendly bartender in the midst of my wanderings who set me up with a discounted room at The Radisson by passing me off as his cousin. The room even had a hot tub, though I couldn't never manage to get any company in it.

Ate at some interesting Phoenix establishments: the dust, oak, white tablecloths, deep red accents and tuxedos of Durant's, where I tried on a neighboring diner's World Series ring; the kicked-back get-down-to-eating vibe at Lo-Lo's Chicken and Waffles, where I crammed myself full of dough, syrup and white meat; and the Havana Cafe, where I tried the Emparedado Cubano with a few East Bay musicians whose acquaintance I made at the ballpark. Also caught a couple of good hip-hop shows (Sage Francis, A-Team) at The Brickhouse -- a pretty decent club over by Alice Cooper's appropriately dubbed sports bar Cooperstown.

This year, my friend at the beach has already made plans to go and even has accommodations at a friend's house -- might even have room for me! Though all the good live music seems to be happening earlier on in March, there's still baseball, and, who knows, maybe something will come up at the Rhythm Room.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Paging Dr. Zach Braff's Character

As I'm not the best at keeping up with what my friends and acquaintances are doing with their lives (Rick, are you even alive at all?), I just discovered that my erstwhile poker buddy and local bassist-for-hire Dan Carr is now gigging with a 25-year-old local singer-songwriter named Ryan Auffenberg.

Saw that this Auffenberg will play at Noise Pop with Richard Swift and the Watson Twins. And since I have been keeping myself busy studying up on who to go see at Noise Pop this year, I thought I'd check out his music.

I'll keep it simple by saying that if Scrubs needs to find a tune to play when one of their lovably eccentric young doctors is learning a life lesson the hard way, they might look to Mr. Auffenberg's oeuvre. Especially the title track from his latest EP, Under All the Bright Lights.

Don't worry Dr. Zach Braff's Character, you'll get through this OK.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Mike Relm -- Fourth Blue Man?

Maybe he's been watching a few too many reruns of Arrested Development, or maybe he's trying to get in good with the powers-that-be in Vegas so as to land a plum DJ gig at one of the big clubs there. Or maybe it just can't be explained neatly. Whatever the motivation (or delusional manifestation), SF DJ Mike Relm has made the curious decision to join the Blue Man Group on their current tour of arenas across the country.

You may remember Relm's name from his appearance at Noise Pop last year. The 1999 International Turntablist Federation U.S. Champion and Daly City native wowed the crowd at The Independent with a kinetic set comprised of spinning, scratching and mashing up popular party tracks from Michael Jackson to Nirvana to the Beastie Boys while laying down a video accompaniment using an apparatus that allows him to scratch DVDs much like you'd scratch a record. Trust me, it's really a hell of a live show. Since then, Relm has been crisscrossing the country opening for several prominent hip-hop acts, all the while sporting his trademark black glasses, and black suit and tie.

I first noticed the odd pairing with the Blue Man Group yesterday on my weekly search through Pollstar's concert database. You see, BMG and Relm are scheduled to play Oakland Arena on February 10th. A quick Web search returned this music mag, which has more information.

Relm's myspace page reveals that his stint with the face-painters isn't the only strange foray he's undertaken lately. Two days performing at the X-Games in Aspen this weekend will be followed by the arena tour and then another wintersports-related gig opening for Jurassic Five at The Ski & Snowboard Festival in Whistler in April, and finally a trip to Coachella.

He's also been doing the music for a Web-based animated series called Turntable Timmy and providing a couple of remixes for the upcoming Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie. If that wasn't enough, he has been working on an album of original material, the score for the Disney short film Too Many Robots and his recently released live DVD cheekily titled Suit Yourself.

Tobias Funke, eat your heart out.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Festivals, For the Rest of Us

Bossman has returned from a three-week hiatus that saw him:

1) ringing in the New Year at the newly instated San Francisco after-hours hotspot Prehab (too exclusive to be pictured here)
2) dining with the hoi polloi in Vegas, and
3) co-hatching a plot to hit up the South-By-Southwest Music Festival in a 25-foot rented RV

Yes, that's right. It's that time of year again, when the music industry and various hangers-on (read: me) congregate down in Austin to proclaim our collective relevance, or in some cases, irrelevance. Though the festival is less than two months away, there has been no sign of a preliminary lineup on the official website. Rumor has it they're trying to discourage free daytime shows or something. Luckily, in the Information Age, people don't put up with that kind of bunk. Presumably in this spirit, has printed a compilation of rumors, leaks and educated guesses on some of the acts that will play this year's festival. Make sure to read on through the comments section for a few additions.

But not everyone can get to Austin, so for West Coasters who are jonesing for a multi-day music fix, there are alternatives. Coachella has announced its lineup, which includes many of the usual suspects (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Interpol, The Arcade Fire), along with a smattering of newer names (Peter, Bjorn and John; Grizzly Bear; Pop Levi) and a dusting of established acts that you might not expect to see at an outdoor festival (Rufus Wainwright, Roky Erickson, Ghostface Killah).

Finally, for those that can barely pony up for a MUNI pass (again, me), there's always San Francisco's beloved Noise Pop, which has all but finished assembling its lineup. There's no big name like The Flaming Lips this year (Cake ain't no Flaming Lips, people), but there are some solid small-to-midsize acts like Clinic, Ghostland Observatory, Annuals, Matt & Kim (that's right, Paul, you'll finally have your chance to see them), Trainwreck Riders, Ted Leo, The Dandy Warhols, Sea Wolf, Malajube, Midlake, The Oohlas and, of course, the reunited Sebadoh. The almost-full lineup is here, with a few supporting acts still to be determined.

Looks like my March and April are getting booked up quick.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Quote of the Day

From TPM Muckraker

Assistant to the President on Counterterrorism, Frances Fragos Townsend, on the so-called 'failure' to capture Bin Laden after six years:

"Well, I'm not sure -- it's a success that hasn't occurred yet. I don't know that I view that as a failure."


Giants Shock the City By Signing Someone Under 35!

It jolted me out of my walking slumber when I heard it on the TV in my local coffee shop this morning -- Barry Zito signing a seven-year contract with the Giants! I think most A's fans had just become so accustomed to the idea of Zito being a Texas Ranger next year that this announcement took most of us by surprise.

So this is good news. Not only will we still be able to follow Zito closely, but the A's will only have to face him a couple times a year at most. And he won't be winning games for another team in our division. In fact, in a few years, Zito will be playing closer to the Coliseum than any of his now-former teammates.

But it comes as a bit of a surprise. For one thing, the Giants shelled out Yankees money for the soft-tossing lefty -- $126 million over 7 years with an $18 million option and $7 million buyout in 2014. Not to mention that Zito seems a little young for the geriatric Giants. Their signing of 35-year-old Ryan Klesko and resignings of 35-year-old Ray Durham and 42-year-old Barry Bonds only serve to underscore their recent insistence on a casket-aged roster.

Granted, Zito has never missed a start -- something that was beginning to become more of a concern with their previous ace Jason Schmidt. Zito's also only 28 years old. His curve will baffle NL hitters -- at least for a season or two -- and he'll be pitching in a pitcher's park. He's certainly used to having no offensive support, but will likely suffer a bit from a somewhat downgraded defense.

In any case, it seems likely that he will see more success in San Francisco than Mark Mulder saw in St. Louis or Tim Hudson saw in Atlanta. But that, of course, remains to be seen. As does how Barry will fare when he has to compete with Mayor Gavin Newsom and washed-up 'rocker' Stephan Jenkins for the city's eligible 19-year-old women.

Friday, December 22, 2006

OK, Get Ready!

It may be a while before the Human Giant MTV series premieres, so we must focus our comedic appreciation elsewhere. May I suggest The Naked Trucker and T-Bones Show? It's about to kick off its run on Comedy Central on January 17th.

The show originated from a sketch comedy/music performance piece that has kept Dave Allen and David Koechner returning to Largo (a music venue/comedy club on Fairfax Ave. in Hollywood) once a month for the last several years.

You may recognize Koechner's name and/or visage from such landmark films as Anchorman, Talladega Nights and Dukes of Hazzard, and TV shows like The Office and Saturday Night Live. But you can expect him to be twice as funny when he sheds the restraints of the secondary character actor.

And if it's anywhere near as funny as the live performance, I'd say I might have a new reason to turn on Comedy Central -- one that that doesn't involve someone named Stewart or Colbert.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Divine Intervention

So it will soon be everywhere I'm sure, but for my friends who don't spend their days on music blogs, we now have the first single from The Arcade Fire's long-awaited sophomore album.

Called Intervention, it features the "huge fuckin' pipe organ" that Win wrote about on the band's site back in June (follow the Win link on the home page to his scrapbook and go to the June and July postings).

I'll spare you my opinions and let you enjoy for yourselves, courtesy of 'You Ain't No Picasso'.

P.S. It has also been pointed out to me that you can access this song sans Internet (though how would you be reading this right now unless you were already on) at 1-800-NEON-BIBLE. In case you were wondering, Neon Bible is said to be the title of the upcoming album. You will reach a menu that asks you to press 7777 for a special message -- which is, in fact, the song.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Livin' Large in Los Angeles

Los Angeles is much like I left it almost seven years ago. The Westsiders won't set foot on the Eastside (Zach!) and the Eastsiders still don't like to go west of Doheny. My friends all live out by the beach, but I'm partial to the Eastside, so I went ahead and got a room at The Standard Downtown for the beginning of the trip. It was one of the coolest rooms I've ever stayed in. That's it, up at the top of the page.

As always, there was a musical component to the trip. An early-week Joanna Newsom show at Malibu Performing Arts Center was surprisingly good, and the weekend art opening for Cold War Kids bassist Matt Maust was chock full of beautiful young hipsters. I felt like a creepy old college professor, but at least there was free beer and some pretty good blues covers sung by Cold War Kids frontman Nathan Willett. I had to leave early as the previously mentioned Hunter S. Thompson photography opening was taking place across town.

The rest of the week saw me criss-crossing the city in search of good food, drink, art, music and, as the Irish term it, craic. Had a very tasty Southern Style Pan Fried Chicken with Sauteed Spinach at Engine Co. No. 28, richly flavored Eggs Hussarde at Pacific Dining Car, didn't eat the reportedly great sushi at R23, but had fascinating Speck/Rugula and Lardo pizzas at Mario Batali and Nancy Silverton's Pizzeria Mozza. Revisited the killer Bloody Mary at The Ivy, had some truly great BBQ pork ribs at JnJ Burger Shack. I also found time to hit up my old standby Fatburger and the truly creepy downtown Clifton's Cafeteria.

Ended my trip with a great Egg Nog and Spice cupcake at Sprinkles in Beverly Hills, at which point, I had a singularly Los Angeles experience. While pulling through a light in West Hollywood, I looked back to see a huge Hummer pulling through the intersection behind me. A young guy who looked like a rapper who had just signed his first contract was behind the wheel. When he turned left, I saw for the first time that not only was he driving a giant Hummer, the Hummer was also towing a brand new 40-foot boat. Talk about Big Pimpin'.

Despite all my efforts, including spending a night at the Ritz in Marina del Rey courtesy of my good friend Boris, and waking up to play tennis, hit up room service and lie in the hot tub the next day, this guy had me beat hands-down. That's just the way it is in Los Angeles, where living big is the utmost form of expression.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Supporting The Arts

It seems that my brain-wave transmissions are finally getting through to the appropriate powers-that-be in Hollywood, on Broadway and in the Bay Area theatrical community.

I first realized this might be true in October of last year when I heard, straight from the mouth of the latter-day Brendan Behan himself, that Johnny Depp would be starring in and producing a film adaptation of J.P. Donleavy's The Ginger Man. You can't believe everything that falls from the lips of an Irishman with a glass of whiskey in his hand, but further research bore out the gist of his story.

It appears that though the novel squeaked into the Top 100 Modern Novels as ranked by Random House several years back, there has never been a successful film adaptation. That may still be the case as, for the most part, the Internet has been strangely silent on the details of the current project, leading one to believe it might be in jeopardy.

Then I heard from my friend Boris in New York that the footlights in the Booth Theatre on Broadway will soon shine on a theatrical production of Joan Didion's 'The Year of Magical Thinking'. A astonishingly frank and genuine account of the author's struggle with the sudden and unexpected loss of the love of her life and the near-loss of her only daughter (she would recover briefly and then succumb to acute pancreatis) is one of the literary highlights of the past decade. As a hard-core Didion devotee, I have my doubts about this one, despite the fact that Joan herself penned the script. I'm just not sure that Vanessa Redgrave, or anyone for that matter, can pull off a convincing portrayal of the singular Ms. Didion.

Finally, I stumbled across a gallery opening in Beverly Hills last week showcasing some of Hunter S. Thompson's photography. Largely self-portraits and intimate shots of his first wife and son in the picturesque landscapes in which they have lived over the years, the exhibit also included some candid shots of the Hell's Angels, as well as the infamous self-portrait of Hunter after suffering a savage beating at the hands of the biker gang. The opening was packed with beautiful people and also drew Fear and Loathing bit player Harry Dean Stanton. This must have been a portent, because days later, back in San Francisco, I happened to see a flyer for a local theater production of a play called Gonzo celebrating the life and times of the Good Doctor.

What with the upcoming film version of Bret Easton Ellis' Glamorama, it looks like a good year for the boss and arts appreciation. So with a nod to a couple of my friends in the film industry, I say bravo to 2007, the year of the shrewd producer!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

George Will is Full of S#@%!

The Bossman has been on hiatus for a little while, spending some time down in his old stomping ground -- Los Angeles. Actually, I didn't really do much stomping down there then, but I'm trying to make up for it now. I'll fill you in on the trip shortly.

But first, I would like to share this ridiculous piece written by right-wing prig and Washington Post columnist George Will. Will recounts an exchange between President Bush and Virginia Senator-elect Jim Webb, but fiddles with the wording to make his point that Webb was intentionally and inexplicably rude to the President, which apparently is a no-no within the mannerly confines of the Beltway.

Some have responded that messing with direct quotes and omitting key phrases is a journalism school 101 no-no. And though it's often done to correct poor grammar or to convey the actual intent of the speaker using fewer words, Will clearly crossed a line through his omissions, as TPM Cafe points out.

Then, with no sense of the irony, he gets all college-English-professor on Webb, parsing the language of an excerpt of his writing to prove that, though once a practiced speaker, Webb is now careless and sometimes even rude. Shocking to be sure -- even if Will couldn't even approach convincing with his argument. Rather, he expects us to share his outrage that Webb might want to point out widening class divisions with some slight rhetorical flourish. And he wants us to censure the Senator for the high crime of misusing the word 'literally'.

They say those who can't do teach. More accurately here, those who can't do -- or teach -- become Washington Post columnists.