Monday, December 22, 2014

December 9, 2014 Wilco's Winterlude 2014 (Concert #50)

Photo taken by Joshua Mellin from Timeout Chicago

My New Year's resolution this year was to avoid the inevitable decline of turning fifty stop me from enjoying my life. So I decided to attempt to see fifty concerts this year. On January 11th I saw my first concert of the year and tonight I saw my 50th concert. It was the perfect band playing in the perfect venue for me. I have loved Wilco ever since the first time I heard them on WXRT. And I am not sure but I believe I have seen more concerts at the Riviera Theater than any other venue in Chicago. Because my friend Patty Trakan joined me, (this was my birthday gift to her) it was a great way to end my year of concerts. On our way into the Riv we dropped off our toys at the WXRT Concerts For The Kids table and said hello to Terri Hemmert the long time DJ at XRT. We grabbed a couple of beers and enjoyed Chicago favorites Nicholas Tremulis and Rick Rizzo as the opening act. Wilco had different local acts open each of the six nights of the Winterlude residency. 
Wilco is one of those bands that has an incredibly loyal and loving fan base. They are also inexplicably not as famous as they deserve to be. I long ago stopped trying to figure out why extremely talented bands never get "mainstream success". I just know that I enjoy the music and hope those bands stay together and create great music. Wilco has been doing that for twenty years now. Ever since I fell in love with their classic album "Being There", when they release a new album I just buy it. I will admit that several times on my first listen some on the records just didn't compare to "Being There" but eventually I fell in love with every twist and turn Jeff Tweedy and the band recorded.
Photo taken by Joshua Mellin from Timeout Chicago

Since Wilco is playing 6 nights with a different set list every night, I had no idea what to expect. 

The first half of the show was mostly songs I vaguely knew or had not heard at all. But the band sounded great, there were several people singing along to most of the songs and Wilco just doesn't have any bad songs. I really enjoyed the fact that this performance by a fantastic group of musicians could have played songs I didn't know all night long and I would have loved every minute of it. They mixed in different versions of familiar songs, quite songs, moody songs, flat out rockers throughout the set...even had a nowadays very rare drum solo that got a huge applause from the fans. This is exactly what a rock and roll show should be...the perfect concert for me to celebrate turning 50 years old.

When they played this home for this old man.
December 9, 2014
The Riviera Theatre | Chicago, IL

01 - One Sunday Morning (Song For Jane Smiley's Boyfriend)
02 - Muzzle Of Bees
03 - You Are My Face
04 - Bob Dylan's 49th Beard
05 - Message From Mid-Bar
06 - Shouldn't Be Ashamed
07 - Side with the Seeds
08 - Deeper Down
09 - ELT
10 - At Least That's What You Said
11 - Shake It Off
12 - Dash 7
13 - Shakin' Sugar
14 - Spiders (Kidsmoke) [Acoustic]
15 - When You Wake Up Feeling Old
16 - She's a Jar
17 - What's The World Got in Store
18 - Say You Miss Me
19 - Kamera
20 - Too Far Apart
21 - Impossible Germany
22 - Standing O
23 - I'm A Wheel
24 - The Lonely 1

25 - Let's Not Get Carried Away
26 - Kicking Television

27 - Passenger Side
28 - I Got You (At The End Of The Century) [Alternative Version]
29 - Thirteen (Big Star cover)
30 - Misunderstood

As with any show there were several exceptional moments. the combination of "What's The World Got In Store" & "Say You Miss Me" sent chills up my spine they were so beautifully performed...

....for the second encore the band performed acoustic, standing on the front edge of the stage using only area microphones. I love when bands do this, it strips the songs bare...just simple melodies and the words...Passenger Side, I Got You and Thirteen sounded great...even if some of the hipsters in the back half of the crowd wouldn't shut up...but then one of my favorite concert moments of the year happened...when each member of the band started crazily strumming, banging, or playing their instrument just to make noise...I realized they were acoustically recreating the noise filled introduction of my favorite Wilco song...Misunderstood. To be completely honest, if they had only played this song, this version and walked off the stage...I would have still loved this one song concert. What a great way to end an amazing year of many great memories capped off by an amazing version of a favorite song. Thank you Wilco.
Photo taken by Joshua Mellin from Timeout Chicago

And thank you Jerry Powell for posting this on You Tube

Sunday, December 14, 2014

December 4, 2014 The 222nd Acoustic Jam / Open Table Potluck at Paul Henry's Art Gallery (Concert #49)

There was a whole lot of action going on at the 222ND JAM including the Lou Shields double record release, Rene Garcia's birthday, the return of Larry Day, the debut of Pablo Baldetti who accompanied another returnee, Rodney Golson, Brice Clark who played his banjo with a bow and Rich Boban leading the Paul Henry's Shakers in a tribute to Jerry Lee Lewis. The food on the Potluck table was outstanding as usual and a crowd of 67 was thoroughly entertained by eighteen performers until close to Midnight. Thanks to everyone! We will do it all again, same time(7PM), same day(Thursday) with the 223RD JAM on December 11th. Same time, same day but always something different!
— Taken from Paul Henry's Art Gallery Facebook Post

I loved the Sonic Highways series on HBO for many reasons. The biggest one is that I love listening to music. Another reason is I am fascinated how music is created. While sitting at tonight's Acoustic Jam, I thought about Dave Grohl's comments throughout the series about community. He talked about his group of misfit friends who felt like outcasts everywhere except in Washington DC's punk music community. So here I sit among a group of people from 20 to 60 plus years old from a variety of backgrounds. But we all have at least one thing in we prefer different types of music but we all enjoy music...some by playing, some by listening. Maybe The Beatles had it isn't all you need...maybe music is all you need to bring people together. 

The format tonight was very simple. Due to the large number of performers signed up to play, everybody gets to play three songs. This is Brice Clark picking on the banjo after using a bow for a unique sound on his first song.

He switched to guitar for his third song. As you can see in the background, this space is for artists of all types. I love this place as an art gallery because for it's first 100 years it was a hardware store in downtown Hammond. It has amazing ambience and is a great place for photographs.

A Bob Dylan fan.

Chris Volek 

He switched to acoustic bass for his last song and when a string broke...he tapped out the melody with his hand on the guitar body....the show must go on.
Larry Day brought a little punk edge to three songs by female artists if I remember correctly. I know all three had a theme of heartbreak. Though the last one was a cover of Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice" as done by Kesha. The Dylan fan pictured above said it was the best version of that song he'd ever heard.

Mark Biegel and Harry Claussen.

The cool thing about this night was how the musicians asked others to sit in with them during their set. Mark played with several performers.
These two performed as Fragile Soul. I really enjoyed their original songs and harmonies. They also played Sam Smith's "Stay With Me" very well. They are Rodney Golson on vocals and Pablo Baldetti on guitar.

Jeff Martin on guitar and vocals with Rene Garcia on percussion. Jeff's songs were heartfelt and moving even though he sang in another language...Spanish I think but not sure.

Karac Von Thweatt played some amazing piano...maybe some old school concerto stuff...what do I know except it was incredible sounding.

 Carol Estes during her spoken word performance.

Michael Stupar did interesting country songs... 

...Rene Garcia decided bongos didn't work with Michael's songs and returned with an ice scraper brush and a some kind of wire sieve he found in the other room and created the perfect sound for the sounded like brushes on a snare drum.

Here's an artist that I already knew because I bought several pieces of artwork from him. Tonight I bought both of his CD's. Lou Shields has traveled all over America searching and learning about our heritage and musical past. He performs songs that capture all he has seen and learned.

The percussion is provided by a license plate and a skateboard with bottle caps loosely nailed to it. Isn't this absolutely sounds great...just like most poor country folks created music on front porches, in barns and shacks for years. A perfect way to end my night...with music created and played in it's simplest form...making sounds from whatever you have lying around...that is how music was originally created...and all you need is music...once there is music...there are people gathering...once people meet...there is bound to be some music is all you need. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

September 5, 2014 Goodbye Alaska

Here's pictures of our cabin. Sure the Afognak Wilderness Lodge is in the middle of nowhere. But it is pure comfort at the lodge. The food is also first class. The hand made ice cream using locally picked berries was amazing. Who am I kidding? I loved dessert every night but the ice cream stood out against all the other incredible desserts. It is practically impossible to eat fresher fish than they serve here. Dinner is served for all guests at a huge King Arthur wooden table that is covered in all kinds of food for every meal. So you get great food while talking to people from all over the world.

We were supposed to fly back to Kodiak at 9am. Heavy fog and low clouds put our travel plans on hold, so we found some things to do at the lodge while we waited for the fog to clear out.

Sadie provided the entertainment we were searching for...ready girl...fetch... the dock she goes...

...a great swimmer eyeing that stick... it... back to the shore...

...over the rocks...
...past the main lodge building...

 ...down the metal ramp to the dock. The board was install to protect her paws on the ramp. This sequence went on for about 20 minutes before she got bored with us. So I walked around and took pictures.

They make their own lead sinkers here.

Fishing and hunting are the main activities around here.

So is relaxing...

...and photography...

...including reflection selfies from a docked boat.

Eventually the reports of the fog lifting were deemed incorrect. Since the lodge had 5 of us leaving and 8 people waiting in Kodiak to fly out to the lodge, the decision was made to take a boat to Kodiak. So it was goodbye to Afognak. We were told it could be rough seas for our...

...THREE HOUR TOUR to Kodiak.

The sky looked dangerous but it was sunny by the time we got to Kodiak.

We passed the Alaska Marine Highway ferry along the way.

We docked at the float plane airport and said our goodbyes to Jordan & Dana.
Since we missed our flight to Anchorage we were happy to get on a flight to Anchorage that allowed us to catch our midnight flight back home.

I was standing on the dock watching this plane take off after saying goodbye to Jordan. Jordan was happily heading into Kodiak for a rare visit to the 'city'. Meanwhile I am not looking forward to be heading back to my real life in Chicago. It struck me that too much of anything makes you long for a change... as much as I enjoyed my two weeks in Alaska...

...I decided that two weeks wasn't too much of Alaska. I 'd rather be on that float plane heading into the wilderness over being on that jet back to Chicago.