Live: Graham Nash in Portland

If I am being honest, I am just as guilty as anyone—maybe more so. I see “legacy” acts touring and think, “Why bother? They can’t be as good as in their prime.” Sometimes I’ve been proven right when a band that hasn’t spoken in 20 years gets together for a tour only to realize they stopped speaking for a reason and should leave us all out if it. But sometimes I am proven wrong; gloriously wrong.

Graham Nash has always been the secret ingredient. His harmonies are unmatched, and that’s evident in the work he’s done from The Hollies, to CSN(Y), and anything else he’s lent that magical voice to. It’s a high harmony, which is a big responsibility to hold in a singing group because those are the notes everyone really hears. Guys like David Crosby and Chris Hillman have a special gift for the harder to find middle parts, but they can also hide a little easier. With Nash, it’s right out there hovering over the entire song. That means his voice needs to be in top form, lest we all walk away just a little disappointed.

Continue reading Live: Graham Nash in Portland

Who The Fuck Is Julie?

I spent a week or so with my grandparents in the spring of 1977 when my sister was born. I was very close with my grandparents and loved getting to stay with them for a WHOLE WEEK. As a bonus, my aunt secured permission from her principal to let me attend a day of classes at her high school.

If you’ve seen Dazed & Confused, you have a good idea of what my experience that day was like…with a rural flair. There were a lot of muscle cars mixed in with non-ironic overalls and cowboy boots. Of the many memories I have of that time what I remember most clearly is the music. There was one song in particular…

Jessi Colter wrote “I’m Not Lisa” and recoded in 1975 (I guess it took a while to catch on in the Midwest) with her producer and husband, Waylon Jennings. On its surface, it’s a pretty standard country tune about a woman lamenting the fact that her man isn’t over a previous lover. The first verse of the song is:

I’m not Lisa…
Lisa left you years ago
My eyes are not blue
But mine won’t leave you
‘Til the sunlight has touched your face

Who can’t relate to that? Competing with the ghost of a lost lover is frustrating, if for no other reason than having to answer the phone with, “No, I’m not Lisa. Can I take a message?”

But then things get weird. Because I left out part of the first line of the song.

I’m not Lisa, my name is Julie

Wait, what? Colter made it clear she’s not Lisa, we understand that. But guess what? She’s not Julie either! She’s Jessi! Who the fuck is Julie?

We know she’s not Lisa, because Lisa was “your morning light/Her smile told of no night/Your love for her grew/With each rising sun.” Lisa sounds pretty awesome. I wonder what happened to her?

And then one winter day
His hand led hers away

Of course! It was…HIM! But maybe Lisa wasn’t so awesome if she could simply be led away by some dude in the middle of a winter day. It wasn’t even under the cloak of night!

I’m still wondering though: WHO IS JULIE? Did Jessi Colter have a breakdown of some sort? Was she in witness protection and just blew her cover in a highly successful MOR country ballad in heavy rotation?

I don’t have any answers, I don’t even have a conclusion to this post. But this song has baffled me for years.

Lollapalooza 2016: Has it really been 25 years?

It’s been 25 years since Perry Farrell kicked off the annual freak show of Lollapalooza. The definition of “freak” has changed a lot since then. Back in 1991 it was still strange to have blue hair and a bunch of tattoos. All of the imagery that made Jane’s Addiction so outlandish back in the day has gone mainstream. Sorority girls watch porn. Bachelorettes get lap dances at strip clubs. Housewives openly read 50 Shades of Grey at the country club swimming pool. Nothing’s shocking.

It takes a lot to freak us out these days. And we certainly don’t expect to see anything genuinely disturbing at a summer music festival.

This year Lolla expanded to four days with 175 artists. The slogan of Lollapalooza in its original touring incarnation was “Take the whole day off,” but now they’re expecting grownups to take off both Thursday and Friday? That’s ridiculous. Then again, passes sold out immediately just like they always do, so what do I know?

Well, one thing I know is that with 175 artists there ought to always be something great happening on at least one of the seven stages. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. More is not always more.

Continue reading Lollapalooza 2016: Has it really been 25 years?

Perry Farrell changes his tune on EDM at Lolla

Good old Perry Farrell has changed his tune on EDM at Lollapalooza. Back in 2011 he told USA Today:

“My mission is one day there’ll be live music on one side and electronic music on the other side,” Farrell says. “It looks like the world is really going in that direction where dance music is the new punk rock. I’m going to tell (event producer C3 Presents) next year it should be half and half. So expect it in three years.”

But this year Farrell told the Chicago Tribune:

“When they said they wanted to name a stage after me (when the festival relaunched in 2005), I was honored,” he says. “I like the adulation. But now you say, ‘Perry, what’s going on with your area here?’ Believe me, I’ve got questions myself. I hate EDM. I want to vomit it out of my nostrils. I can’t stand what it did to what I love, which is house music, which was meditative, psychedelic — it took you on a journey. … I sometimes cringe at my own festival.”

I can’t say I disagree. Back in 2011 Perry’s stage was very obviously the most exciting part of Lollapalooza. That was the year I suggested that “Perry’s made the rest of Grant Park feel like a tired twentieth-century throwback to a place where bearded old cavemen rubbed pieces of wood together hoping to make fire.” It was the same in 2012 and 2013, but Perry’s stage has been going downhill since then. I’m no expert on dance music, but maybe it’s just not that cool anymore? I guess we’ll see this weekend…

Winaloto – A Song and Video for Trump’s America

It happens in every election cycle: Some candidate tries to co-opt a popular song to punctuate a message in a rally or other live event, only to raise the ire of the artists who created the song. It usually happens to Republicans, because…well…they suck. And really, who can they turn to? Ted Nugent?

This week, Republican presidential nominee and human bag of spoiled Orange Julius sludge, Donald Trump took heat from the Rolling Stones, Queen and George Harrison’s estate for playing their music during live events. It seems nobody wants to be associated with the Donald though the Internet is having a field day with suggestions.

And I have my own: TOMMY CASH – WINALOTO

Continue reading Winaloto – A Song and Video for Trump’s America

Don’t be a sucker. Register to vote.

This is a reminder that it’s important to register to vote if you haven’t already. It’s not hard to do, and it really does matter. Even if you live in a very “safe” state, the national popular vote determines how big of a mandate the winner has received. You can’t vote if you’re not registered, so please register to vote.

If you’re paying any attention at all, you might have noticed that we are approaching some very dark times in this country. Things are getting more and more weird and ugly and mean. Let’s all do what we can to make it better. Elections matter. Don’t fuck this one up, America.

Main image by Thomas W. Benton. And follow @poljunk on twitter.

New Handsome Family video: Gold

YouTube: The Handsome Family – “Gold”

A great new Handsome Family song from their album Unseen, due September 16. It’s crazy to realize they’ve been putting out spooky, heartbreaking music for over twenty years now. I’ve been a fan for almost that long. In the very early days of GLONO we did an interview with Rennie Sparks. She gave better responses than my goofy questions warranted, which just goes to show how cool she is.

I was elated when the HBO drama True Detective chose their song “Far From Any Road” as its theme song for its first season. They were finally getting the attention they deserved. Hopefully all those new fans continue to dig what Brett and Rennie Sparks are whipping up in their Albuquerque home studio.

I also love that the Handsome Family still maintains their own web site. It’s awesome.

Help fund a new documentary about Creem Magazine

There’s only a couple weeks to go to fund Boy Howdy! The Story of CREEM Magazine, a new documentary by filmmaker Scott Crawford about the world’s only rock and roll magazine.

This looks like a pretty cool project. It’s being produced by Creem founder Barry Kramer’s son, J.J. Kramer, whose dad died when he was four.

Kramer has been embroiled in the sad resurrection and fizzle of Creem online since he invested in “Creem Media Inc.” in 2006 after photographer Robert Matheu and his shady cousin Jason Turner licensed the Creem brand in a deal that gave them an option to buy the magazine’s intellectual property rights five years later. They ended up getting it for $70,000, according to court documents. That deal resulted in a coffee table book but little else. In fact after the book was published, the Creem brand fell into a sour mess of “litigation and bad feelings.”

Creem Media, Inc. has been defunct since 2011. Its former web site is a sad content farm and there’s something new calling itself Creem Magazine that just makes me want to punch myself in the face. So good job, everybody.

This documentary is apparently the only hope we have in keeping the real CREEM memory alive. Go fund it!

Free Download of New Wilco Song Available

Celebrating one year since the surprise release of their last album, Star Wars, Wilco has posted a new song free for the taking—just give ‘em an email.

Wilco – Locator

If you like the somewhat stutter rhythm and cryptic lyrics of the band’s recent work then you’ll dig this song plenty.

Remember these guys?

Watch This Bro Get His Funk On

It’s the summer festival season, which is my favorite time of year. For someone who has an arbitrary limit of both ticket price and venue capacity, I have an enduring love of festivals. Mostly because an outdoor festival is devoid of most of the shit I hate at music shows: I can avoid the crowds if I want to by skirting the edges and sitting in the trees, I get lots of variety in the acts for the price, I fucking LOVE falafel and cheap beer, and there’s the fresh air.

One thing I don’t like about festivals is the preening and pretense you sometimes encounter, just like at an indoor show. You know the dudes who walk around shirtless and waxed and the gals wearing high-waisted cutoffs cut so high you can see their ears? Yeah…that.

And so I was genuinely delighted to stumble across this clip of a bro getting down to some Uptown Funk. It’s a display of pure, uninhibited joy. And he doesn’t even seem wasted!

Seeing this kid get down in the middle of T in the Park lets me know everything is going to be just fine. And I hope to see some of this unbridled funk at Wildwood Music Festival this weekend.

Related: Wildwood Music Fest 2015 Recap