Hot. Music.

Last weekend I attended Forecastle Fest, a three-day musical extravaganza, in Louisville, KY. It was my second straight year for Forecastle, and my second straight year of loving it. They have 4 stages with music going from 1PM until midnight all three days. For an old man like me who likes to keep up with what the kids are listening to these days, it’s a smokin’ hot smorgasbord. Hot was the operative word for the weekend too, as the temps were in the 90s and the humidity was off the charts. Saturday was an official “heat emergency” day in L-ville. But I did my best to stay hydrated.

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Musical highlights:

The War on Drugs – great set from this Philly band. Lead singer’s voice reminds me a bit of Dylan, but I think he sounds more like Mike Scott from The Waterboys.

My Morning Jacket – love these fellers, and they played an epic 2 1/2 hour set for an extremely enthusiastic hometown crowd. The setlist was a great representation of the many facets of this band and their career. And lead singer Jim James had some great things to say about treating other human beings with kindness, too.

First Aid Kit – two sisters from Sweden, backed by a Scottish drummer and a Brit on guitar/keyboards/mandolin. They folkin’ rocked, with great originals and covers both expected (Simon & Garfunkel’s “America”) and unexpected (Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs”). Here’s one of my favorite songs of theirs:

Alvvays – I took a half day vacation from work on Friday because I wanted to get to Louisville for Alvvay’s 1:30 set. When I got there, they had been moved to 8:30. It was well worth the wait.

Sturgill Simpson – this is real-deal Country music, not the pre-fab pap/pop that tries to pass as country these days.

 

 

Field Report – much like Sun Kil Moon last year at Forecastle, this was a sleeper set. Very mellow, but extremely compelling listening. Would love to see this band at a club.

 

For good old R-A-W-K, there were four bands that delivered the goods in high-energy style:

White Reaper, King Tuff, Jeff The Brotherhood and Diarrhea Planet.

I also enjoyed the sets from Shovels & Rope, Cage the Elephant, The Tallest Man on Earth, Cold War Kids, Modest Mouse and The Lone Bellow.

Random notes:

  • Sweden wins the foreign invader award, as First Aid Kit and The Tallest Man on Earth both were fantastic.
  • Parker Millsap and  Knox Hamilton get the nod for up-and-comers.
  • I highly recommend that you pick up a set of EarPeace HD earplugs. For less than $20, you can still hear the bands just fine (unlike when you stuff cotton balls in your ears or use cheap earplugs that block the sound vs. filter it) and you’ll protect your ears. Wish these were around 30 years ago.

Complaints that make me sound like the old man that I am:

  • I know tobacco is still a big cash crop in Kentucky, but the smokers drove me crazy. No matter where I stood, somehow I was always downwind from a batch of nicotine addicts. Wish festivals would ban smoking, or at the very least create an enclosed “cancerdome” bubble where smokers could congregate.
  • On Friday night, a big thunderstorm rolled through during Sam Smith’s headlining set (looks like Mother Nature and I have something in common: we both don’t particularly care for Brit soul singers). Heavy winds caused some damage to the stages. So Saturday, Forecastle organizers delayed the opening of the gates by nearly an hour. Which would be fine except they didn’t communicate this until hundreds of folks were already lined up to enter, and they just let us sit there baking in the hot sun on an unshaded sidewalk the entire time. I’m surprised we didn’t all melt and/or pass out from sunstroke. I know the storm was out of their control, but their response to it was lame. At the very least, move the queues to the shade, and hand out bottled water.

OK, enough complaining. Overall it was a great experience, and I just might go for three in a row next year!

 

 

Dat Dude BP is a B(all) P(layer)

Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips may have lost a step at age 34, but he can still pick it in the field better than any other 2B around. Check out this gem from a couple nights ago.

As Reds fans know, he makes plays like that every week. Better still, Brandon has a childlike joy for the game that is contagious. And he’s great with the fans. I’ve taken my kids down to the Reds stadium many, many times over the years, and BP is out there smiling and signing autographs before every game. I wish other players would follow his example – those five minutes a day can create a new generation of lifelong fans, and baseball needs the help.

Here’s a great story about how Brandon, who is very active on Twitter (@DatDudeBP), created a lifelong memory for a youth baseball team.

 

People plan and God laughs

My good friend Jacqui continues to eloquently chronicle how her family is coping as her husband Dave begins his second battle with Lymphoma. Worth a read. Deserving of a million prayers.

https://daveandjacqui.wordpress.com/2015/07/17/put-the-pencil-down/

 

Eternally Grateful

20 years ago, I couldn’t stand the Grateful Dead. I don’t like the smell of patchouli and I don’t care for $5 grilled cheese sandwiches made on the carburetor of a ’72 VW Microbus.

18 years ago, I married my wife, who is a big fan of the Dead. So I’ve listened to more than my fair share of their music since then. And it’s grown on me. Granted, I still could do without an 18-minute version of a 2-minute cover song (looking at you, “Good Lovin'”) or “Drum Space.” But I really do enjoy many of their songs, and have a great appreciation for the fan base they’ve cultivated over the last 50 years. Whether you love them or hate them (and there doesn’t seem to be much middle ground), you have to admit that they are one of the most generous bands around, in the sense that they view music as a gift to be shared, and not commerce to be peddled. Tapers have always been welcome at their shows, and their bootlegs have helped them grow their fan base.

Two nights ago, The Grateful Dead played their final show at Soldier Field in Chicago. (Some would argue they played their final show 20 years ago when Jerry Garcia passed away.) We are on vacation and went to see a live stream of the show on a Jumbotron at an outdoor bar in Florida. It was my first time seeing them live (or semi-live on a Jumbotron). There were plenty of other fans there watching as well. How many bands could pull that off – having people spend a vacation night watching one of their concerts from a thousand miles away?

I know that there are a lot of preconceived notions about Deadheads, but as a passionate live music fan I tip my hat to them, because they obviously love live music. The Dead may not be the most technically precise band around, but they have a groove that runs a mile deep and have built a passionate community around that. More bands should be like them.

 

Butt out

I get a weekly email from RealAge that contains health, diet and exercise tips. But a recent email from them seemed like the worst click-bait subject line ever:

blog post butt sculpting

Sorry Real Age but I think butt sculpting should be optional, not mandatory. Unless your name is Michelangelo and you’re making a statue of David.

 

We want this “Roger” to be over and out

Eons ago, I worked at a now-defunct ad agency (R.I.P. B&G) with my friend Jacqui, who is one of the nicest folks you could ever hope to meet. (She’s so nice she actually befriended me.) Even though we haven’t been co-workers in almost 2 decades, Jacqui and I have managed to keep in touch pretty well. Jacqui’s husband Dave is a college professor and a rock band drummer (and you thought those two categories were mutually exclusive). Nearly 5 years ago, he battled Lymphoma (or as Jacqui and Dave named it “Roger”). Now, just a few steps from the “clean and clear” mark that anyone who has ever had cancer hopes to reach, Roger is back. Damn you, Roger!

You can read Jacqui and Dave’s blog for a much more eloquent version of this story.

Please send your thought, prayers, good vibes and Roger destroyers their way.