Charly Bliss. Pure Bliss.

I saw Charly Bliss at a club show!

That phrase might not mean much to you right now. In fact, chances are pretty good that you’ve never even heard of the band Charly Bliss, much less heard their music. But I have a feeling that’s going to change over the next year or so.

L to R: Spencer Fox, Eva Hendricks, Dan Shure, Sam Hendricks

They have everything it takes to make it big: fantastic songs, a unique sound, great chops, a cool vibe, tons of energy, and a very charismatic and photogenic lead singer.

Love the Candyland/Alice In Wonderland outfit.

But to be clear, Charly Bliss is a “we” not a she… lead singer Eva Hendricks, her brother Sam on drums/vocals, Spencer Fox on guitar/vocals and Dan Shure on bass/vocals are a cohesive unit, and together they pack a powerful wallop. Last night’s show, at a tiny club with 150 people in the audience, tops, easily could have blown away a theater-sized audience, or been a headlining set at an outdoor festival.

They’re usually classified as power pop, and they do have a poppy sheen to them. But after seeing them live, I realize they’re really a power punk band tucked inside a pop shell. The subject matter on the new album Young Enough is heavy stuff, about escaping an abusive relationship. But the songs are postive, not pessimistic, cathartic rather than depressing.

“Something really wonderful about getting older is this sense of perspective that you gain. You can look at your experiences and, even if they weren’t great, you can feel grateful and be like, ‘I really was an idiot then. I’d just love to give her a hug, she really had it all backwards.’”

Read more at https://www.nme.com/blogs/nme-radar/charly-bliss-young-enough-interview-2484798#sLaJZIF0Pj7mpbU0.99

I’ve been a music fan long enough to know that the music business:

  1. is a business first and foremost and
  2. isn’t a meritocracy.

The cream doesn’t always rise to the top. There are hundreds of bands that have “shoulda coulda woulda” stories to tell. So many things can derail a career: band squabbles, crappy record deals, distribution challenges, overbearing producers or managers, road fatigue, changing public tastes… But with a break here or there, I really think Charly Bliss could be “Yuuuge. The best ever! Believe me.”

When that happens, I’ll say it again: “I Charly Bliss at a club show!” Guess what? You can say that too:


All’s well that ends… and starts anew… well.

I wrote a post about my friend Dale last summer.

So artsy…

It talked about how he was unceremoniously dumped from Landor (the design firm where we were co-workers) after 23 years of faithful service and brilliant designs.

I had lunch with Dale earlier this week… at the same outdoor park where a year earlier, Landor’s Cincinnati boss had broken the news to him that they were letting him go.

Many moons ago, Dale took some great photos of our now-teenage sons in this same park.

What a difference a year makes. Dale has teamed up with a couple other Landor refugees [a suit (OK, “strategist”) and a writer who was let go during the same purge that took out Dale… after a mere 17 years on the job]. They’ve formed a small (some would say “boutique”) strategy and design/branding studio called Holotype. And they’re crushing it! They’re so busy that they’re turning away business, and working on cooler stuff that means more to them because they’re more closely connected to their clients.

Dale’s “commute” now consists of walking 20 feet from his house to the 100-plus-year-old industrial garage out back that he’s converted into his studio.

And a few weeks ago, he married his girlfriend of a decade. Personally and professionally, all is well in Dale’s world. He couldn’t be happier… and I couldn’t be happier for him.

They got hitched in Taos, New Mexico.

The old adage is “leap and the net will appear”…

In this case, it was less like a leap and more like a shove, but it certainly let Dale spread his wings and soar.

There’s no business like show business

I had no business going to see Hiss Golden Messenger in concert on Monday night. After all, it was a “school night”… and a Monday no less.

The opener, Anna St. Louis (who, it should be noted, is from Kansas City) didn’t come onstage until 8 p.m.

Hiss Golden Messenger didn’t start until close to 9 p.m. That should be pajama time for this old man.

Mind you, this concert was hot on the heels of the David Gray concert on Sunday evening.

I also had no business going to that gig, because it too was on a “school night”… and it was in Louisville, KY, no less – a 90-minute drive away. But my friend Dave had an extra ticket, and we rode down with Dave’s brother Phil and Phil’s family, who are also good friends of mine.

Mind you, that concert was hot on the heels of the Mad Anthony free concert on Fountain Square in downtown Cincinnati on Saturday night.

And I had to pick up my wife and daughter at the airport after that gig – they didn’t arrive until one in the morning.

I probably had no business going to any of those shows. I’m a middle-aged dude who lives in the ‘burbs. Silly old man, Hiss Golden Messenger is for kids!

Yes, I had no business going… but it wasn’t business, it was pleasure. Music is my happy place. Concerts give me energy. Especially when they’re as great as the Mad Anthony, David Gray and Hiss Golden Messenger shows. Most notably that final gig, on a school night, past my bedtime. Hiss Golden Messenger sounded great; the band is super-tight. And M.C. Taylor, the lead singer/bandleader, wrapped up the encore with a solo acoustic version of “Heart Like a Levee”…. with the entire crowd singing the backing vocals. I still have goose bumps over that one.

Sing me a summer
Oh, that Cincinnati moon – like a wheel in the sky – shows two roads, honey
Tell me which one leads to mine?

Live music – there’s nothing quite like it. So, as Warren Zevon said, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”

Another winner from Nadal

Yesterday, Rafael Nadal beat Dominic Thiem in the French Open final, becoming the first player to win the same Grand Slam 12 times. He’s clearly the “King of Clay” but he has 18 Grand Slam titles overall, so he’s not a one-trick pony.

As great as he is, “Rafa” has spent most of his career living in the shadow of Roger Federer. It would be easy to be a tad bit jealous. But now, at age 33, Nadal could conceivably catch or even surpass the 20 Grand Slam titles of the 37-year-old Federer. When he was asked about that possibility, his response was beautiful:

“I am not very worried about this stuff, no?
You can’t be frustrated all the time because the neighbor has a bigger house than you or a bigger TV or better garden. That’s not the way that I see life.”

On the court or off, that’s a winner!

Good news: new is good

Here’s a nice “glass half full” editorial from Michael Long in USA Today. Actually, it’s less like a glass and more like a well. And it isn’t just half full, it’s overflowing with goodness. We don’t truly appreciate how good we’ve got it very often. Here’s an excerpt:

Since the founding of this country, life expectancy has more than doubled, with nearly all of the increase coming since the outset of the 20th century. We can traverse the continent in less than the duration of a workday, a workday considerably shorter than it was a century ago. We can speak with and see anyone, anywhere and in real time, on the black mirror in our pocket. We have temperature-controlled homes, private and protected and our very own, with reliable indoor plumbing, light to extend productivity into the dark, and entertainment at our command to amuse us with worlds we would otherwise never see, or that exist solely in imagination. We work only five of seven days, eight of 24 hours, 50 of 52 weeks. Sometimes not even that.

It’s easy to focus on the negative. Looking on the bright side takes a bit more work. But if you pause for a moment and look around, you’ll realize how good we’ve got it.

And speaking of good news, two of my favorite singer-songwriters have teamed up for a new album! Lucinda Williams is producing the upcoming release from Jesse Malin.

Photo credit: John Sciulli/WireImage

Here’s the first track from the LP.

Have a great day… and remember, chances are pretty good that it’s already great even if something “great” doesn’t happen. That’s the modern world for you.