Saturday, October 25, 2014

October 23, 2014 Don't Kick Jimmy (Concert #40)

It's been a hectic week at work. We were short two techs and are still installing new computer systems at every Mobil station in Chicago. So it's been long work days. After work today I scrambled to get packed and off to the airport. I finally got to relax on the plane for the first time in two weeks. Those four hours are gonna have to last me until Monday's flight home because I am heading to Las Vegas. My never reliable brother decides he can't pick me up at the airport. So I grab a cab. The driver is a heavily tattooed punk rock fan. So we talk music during the ride downtown. He asks what I'm doing tonight and I say sleep. I've been up since 5:30am  and it's 12:30am to me now. After a forty dollar cab ride and a ten dollar tip, he hands me a little something to keep me awake if I decide to go out tonight. As a tourist I love hospitality like that. After checking in, I meet up with my brother George & my sister-in-law Marcy. We grab some NYC style pizza with Mexican Coke and enjoy the absolutely perfect Las Vegas night. We end up at an outdoor pop up bar on Freemont Street that has live music. We grab some drinks, a Brooklyn Winter Ale for me which seems odd since I am loving my last blast of warm weather until next April. The band playing is called Don't Kick Jimmy and at first I don't pay much attention. Then they start playing some interesting cover songs...Death Cab for Cutie, Marvin Gaye, Kings of Leon but even that song, 'Dancing On My Own' by Robyn is a song that KOL covers. Now this is getting interesting because they sound good covering this wide musical territory. At one point I said they were like listening to my CD collection on shuffle. We stayed until they closed the bar. What a perfect way to start our Vegas weekend. Now off to bed....I've been up for 22 hours.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

October 16, 2014 Gaslight Anthem at the Aragon (Concert #39)

So a couple months ago I get a call from a good friend that I rarely see...
Jim: Hey Gregg, can you drag your vagina out on a Thursday night to see Gaslight Anthem?
Me: Yes I can. Will your sorry limp dick ass jump in the mosh pit with me?
Jim: No!
Me: OK who has a vagina now? I'll go with you anyway.

So that is how Jim & I ended up standing in front of the Aragon Ballroom tonight after having dinner at a local pizzeria and a beer at the Uptown Lounge.

If you haven't been to the Aragon in the past 10 years, I recommend you check it out. The new owners have restored the place and it is a beautiful place to see a show. 

The opening act was the very talented Cory Branan. He played an acoustic solo set and sounded good in the cavernous Aragon. He even joked about playing songs that took advantage of the echo. I saw him at Fitzgerald's earlier this year and loved his set. He has a new CD called "No-Hit Wonder". I would recommend any of his records.

I saw the next band at Riot Fest two years ago. I thought they were pretty good. Jim is a fan of Against Me and by the end of their blistering set...I was a fan too.

I really enjoyed the live version of this song.

They didn't play this 'love' song but I found it on you tube and loved it.

I also loved this song live. By now most people know that the lead singer of Against Me decided to stop living his life as a man. I am glad that it didn't seem to matter to the huge crowd that was singing along to every was all about the music and punk rock fans are the most inclusive group of music fans that I know. Sure, there are some punk snobs who think they are the only ones to say who is punk and who isn't but if the music is right, nothing else matters to them. That's how it should be.

I am a huge fan of Brian Fallon's lyrics and the band Gaslight Anthem. I've seen them several times in the past few years. I love this band and they sounded great tonight. My only complaint is the One Direction light show that distracted me from the music. I love a good light show with my music. I know Gaslight Anthem has a few more dollars due to their success. But who talked them into that shitty light setup. Alright , I am off my soapbox now. 

This is the song that made me fall in love with this band. Six years later I still listen to this CD at least once a month just to "hear my favorite song one last time".

The band rocked through a short set due to the all ages show school night curfew of 10pm. But they were on top of their game and played most of the songs you'd expect.

The latest single from GA. I love this one. Maybe it's the line about moving to California or the line about doing your worst to me...I don't know for sure...I just know this song resonates with me.

When they broke into The Who's "Baba O'Riley" during the encore, I was disappointed. I wanted to hear another one of their songs. But they did The Who proud. By the end of the song, a roadie was playing guitar and Brian was bashing on the drums, the place was going wild and I was screaming along " teenage wasteland...we're all wasted". 

August 29, 2014 Kenai Fjords National Park

It was foggy again this morning as we headed out toward Seward...

...but it seemed different today as the sun began to break through the clouds...

,,,and the mountains came into view at Tern Lake,

This place was very scenic for a small roadside turnout at the intersection of the Seward and Sterling highways.

We had to move on because we have to catch a boat in Seward.

A little further down the road, we stopped to take a short hike to a salmon stream. It was here that Chrissy began her photo fascination with the incredible amount of funky mushrooms that grow in Alaska.

It turns out the only fish we saw were dead salmon along the shore and in the water.

Another stop along the way because blue skies were visible for the second time this week.

We finally make it to Seward. Ken & I park the car while Chrissy & Karen pick up our Kenai Fjords Boat passes.

Here's our boat... the scenic Seward Harbor.

I love childish humor.

We got seats on the upper outside deck.

There were otters in Resurrection Bay.

The soon to be gone alpine glaciers along Resurrection Bay.

We passed by several whales.

We cruised out of Resurrection Bay into the Gulf of Alaska on our way to Aialik Bay.

K & K trying to stay warm.

We passed Pederson & Addison Glaciers on our way to the main attraction Aialik Glacier.

The scenery was amazing throughout the day.

Approaching Aialik Glacier...

...there are waterfalls everywhere because all these glaciers are part of the Harding Icefield.

Our boat got pretty close to Aialik Glacier.

There were several small calvings but nothing big enough to rock the boat.

We moved on when another boat showed up. Now you can get a better idea of the size of this glacier. 

Seals hanging out on a small island.

We zig zagged through small islands...

....this one had birds on it and not was covered white.

We saw puffins all day long and this was the best picture.

I'm just gonna say it...this was one of the coolest things I've ever seen. We saw whales throughout the day. But none were this close or having this much fun. The cruise narrator sounded amazed while whales were breaching and fin slapping on both sides of the boat.

It looks like that beer will stay cold for you.

Scenes on our way back to Seward.

Back on land, Chrissy made me pose with this otter...I have no idea why.

Since the sun doesn't set until about 10pm, we have time to hike up to Exit Glacier. 

This is the valley were the glacier was a couple hundred years ago.

I was here ten years ago and the glacier has retreated at a non glacial pace since then. Back then you could walk right up to it, now you can not.

Here's the valley where the glacier was 10 years ago.

Two cousins from New York City walking in Alaska.

The National Parks have been called America's best idea. I agree. Most of the trips I have taken the last fifteen years have been to National Parks and I always leave feeling like I visited someplace special.