Thursday, May 29, 2008

Visitors from Minneapolis

The Badlander hosted guests from Minneapolis, on Memorial Day. Themes and Mute Era proved there are other music scenes around the country creating new sounds. Both bands admitted it is getting more difficult to travel to gigs and get home, as gas prices continue to rise. I had not considered how bands would be impacted by that problem. Once more, let me say turn off the TV and get out to a local venue for some live music. If you like what you hear, buy band merchandise. You can support the arts, feed starving artists and help someone get home by that simple action.Kelsey Crawford, on the keyboard, and Jacy McIntosh formed Themes and stayed together, as other members came and went through live gigs and studio sessions. Their website is here, with links to their travel blog and a myspace site, where their music can be sampled. When I told them I had moved to Missoula from the armpit of America, Kelsey immediately guessed correctly I came here from Arkansas.

And now for something completely different. Sho Nikaido augments his wailing vocals and guitar strokes electronically, producing a singular sound, while Jessica Driscoll drives the drums. Together, they form Mute Era, a spellbinding duo. (Sometime I will have to do a post featuring duos who produce bigger music than expected by just two people.)

The electronics combined with Sho's style makes Mute Era totally modern, while at the same time, something primal. The sound harks back to the first drummer picking up a stick and striking a hollow log, hoping to scare away the wolves he hears howling.

Riverbend hasn't blogged in months

Riverbend was a young college girl in Iraq, when the invasion began. Her blog was a first hand report on the devastation that followed and how it affected her life. On October 22, 2007, she reported her family had arrived safely in Damascus, Syria, having given up on their home in Baghdad. She hasn't blogged since then. I hope she's safe.

Riverbend titled her blog Baghdad Burning. Beneath the title was this quote: "...I'll meet you 'round the bend, my friend, where hearts can heal and souls can mend..." Read it all here.

A collection of writings from the blog, published as Baghdad Burning: Girl Blog from Iraq, can be found at Amazon and other booksellers.

An ongoing blog with daily updates from Iraq is available here. Warning: this site does not contain the type of sugar-coated pablum our mainstream media is reporting.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

My head's numb, and my ears are still ringing

Note to self: when the music is advertised as metal, remember to take ear plugs. I first made that note to myself, during the PBR Performance Series, but I forgot. Thus, I wound up at the Badlander unprepared for a metal program, which almost blew my head off. That was five days ago, and my right ear still isn't functioning properly.

The only thing I'm complaining about, however, is the lack of earplugs, because I loved the show. Metal, like every other type of music, is finding its own ground in Missoula and cannot be judged by metal anywhere else. The energy of this show was as high as the volume. It also appears metal fans have a bond of fellowship, due to their common interest, that surpasses that of most music fans. A close-knit, dedicated group banged heads and cheered the bands.

First up, was H is for Hellgate. H could also be for Henkensiefken, but it is easier to call her Jamie. The band name contains the clue of her origin right here in the zoo city, but she now resides in Portland, Oregon, and brought her band here for this performance.

The event was billed as a CD release party for Bridgebuilder, who took the stage next. David Johnson's vigorous guitar playing led this dynamic trio through a loud and lively set.

Mahamawaldi capped the evening, and the faithful were rewarded with a forceful production, unique in many ways. Is there a faster player in the world than this man?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A late Memorial Day comment

Yesterday was Memorial Day, and today I received a call from a charity devoted to veterans. It made me think about several problems veterans face.

First, I must make a digression to remember my father. Pop was in Italy, on the border with Yugoslavia, when WWII ended. He served as a medic, due to being a conscientious objector. He never spoke of his experiences there, until late in life. He witnessed some bloody events and did his best to alleviate the suffering of wounded comrades. He never wanted to have anything to do with the military again. I had a difficult time convincing him to let me take him to the Veteran's Hospital and register him for assistance. It proved to be a very good move, as he received excellent care from that organization through his last years.

A second little side trip comes to mind. Even as W stood on the rubble and proclaimed that supporting first responders would be a top priority for his administration, his cronies, on capitol hill, were pushing to cut funding for first responders. They continue to do so today. In similar fashion, as they lied us into the war in Iraq, they were cutting funding for veterans' benefits. And, they continue to push for more spending to make war, but less to handle the results of war.

Recently, a news story out of Texas revealed a directive to veterans' doctors to quit diagnosing post traumatic stress disorder, because treatment was beginning to cost too much. That must be another example of compassionate conservatism. The war in Iraq is producing more cases of PTSD than any previous conflict. It probably has to do with soldiers going over there thinking they are promoting democracy and finding themselves in a hell hole, where civilians are dying by the thousands for no good reason.

Also brain injuries are being produced by this war faster than ever before, and many are not being properly diagnosed.

Where are the follow up stories on Walter Reed Hospital? Has that mess been cleaned up?

Another recent news story revealed discussions among upper echelons about the growing suicide statistics among vets and whether to fudge the numbers, try to bury the problem or be honest, in case someone else discovered the problem. Approximately 1000 veterans attempt suicide every month, and almost half of them succeed. In 2005, an average of 17 veterans killed themselves every day!

During his campaign, Edwards mentioned homeless veterans. O'Reilly the greatest of Fox News' talking shit heads said there were no homeless veterans. He offered to pay the support of any homeless veterans anyone could document. According to the VA, there are hundreds of thousands of homeless veterans on the streets of U.S. cities. Someone should call O'Reilly and tell him to start paying up.

Where's the outrage? Everyone should be calling on the government to take care of our veterans. A small percentage of the billions wasted on war and preparing for more war would make a world of difference to injured and homeless veterans.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Last night, I danced, for the first time since leaving the city of angels, 10 years ago. A beautiful young woman enticed me to the dance floor, and I probably made a fool of myself, but it felt good. At first, my feet wouldn't cooperate, and then I thought my heart couldn't take it, but my old heart lightened up with the exercise.

So I danced, as Zeppo played.

"Zeppo is up in here, y'all."

While the music usually starts at 10 or 10:30pm, at most venues, at the Union Club, it starts soon after 9. Thus, I was able to start my evening with old favorites, before walking to the Badlander to check that scene. There the schedule had changed. I arrived at 10, expecting Wolf Redboy to open, followed by Good Neighbor Policy, before the Heavenly States, from Oakland, California, capped the evening. That schedule was blown up by some GNP members who left town.

Wartime opened, followed by Rainbow, the most unique one-man show I've ever seen. Rainbow wasn't everyone's cup of tea, but it took guts to perform that randy romp through the audience, accompanied by digitalized sights and sounds. Then Heavenly States took the stage, and Wolf Redboy batted clean-up.

Heavenly States performed their own material, and the lead singer captivated the audience with friendly banter, although one spectator requested a song by the Allman Brothers. He was handled with cheerful diplomacy. The band had three CDs for sale, in addition to T-shirts.

I consider fiddle players are a strong selling point for rock groups. This one switched back and forth on two keyboards and the fiddle. The lead singer, Ted Nesseth, gets the writing credit for the original material, and I give bonus points for originality. I'm glad Heavenly States could stop by for a visit, before heading west to Sasquatch. And thanks to the Badlander for bringing them to town.

Back at the Union Club, the dance floor had filled up, and I was invited to join the throng.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Rainy afternoon musings

Seems as though this blog is alternating between political rants and local music coverage. That will have to be all right, because I like music and I rant occasionally. My friends know I can be an obnoxious asshole, but you may need this warning.

The repairs to my car, evidently, are not done yet, as I have received no call from the repair shop. I will call them tomorrow, and, if my car is not ready, I suspect someone else will learn how disagreeable I can get.

The flickr archive linked to this blog has almost 400 photos in it, and they are somewhat jumbled. A quick look showed only one photo in each of the last three sets I uploaded and titled. The remaining images were dumped into the photostream. Mea Culpa! I just moved some into sets and moved some sets into collections. It will take some time and effort to get everything arranged the way I want. I want the music photos to be in sets by band, venue and date, and then the sets into collections by band names. So far, I have collections for Mudslide Charlie and Zeppo.

Mudslide Charley released a CD and celebrated the event at the Union Club, last Saturday. It is now Thursday, and I haven't posted photos of that yet. Let me apply a remedy right now.
I own CDs by Robert Cray and Keb Mo, and I like them, too, but I prefer old style blues, and that is what Mudslide Charley plays, the blues of Robert Johnson and Son House.

On this night, Marco and Roger played a Son House tune as a duet, with just the guitar and drums.

Also, on this night, the combo gave the tightest, most consistently top-notch performance I've witnessed since coming to Missoula. Perhaps, they were inspired by having their own CD.

Amending the Constitution

It is time to amend the constitution. The word people, as in a government of, by and for the people, must be changed to corporations, in order to be correct. Since corporations were given human rights, as if they were human, they have gained more power than real people. Now they are having their way in our country and around the world. It is important to remember they only exist for the purpose of making profits.

"They hate us for our freedom." What a vacuous lie that was. They hate us, because we have been meddling in their countries for decades, telling them how to live, telling them they must be like us and telling them they must let our corporations exploit their natural resources for profit no matter what the cost to the native land and people.

My Oxford English Dictionary defines democracy as "a form of government in which the people have a voice in the exercise of power." By that definition, democracy is on life support in this country. Corporations speak loudly, but the voice of the common people is ignored. Democracy is a brand name, a marketing tool, and nothing more. For example, look how we brought democracy to Iraq.

Another example would be the way our government demanded democratic elections among the Palestinians, but when the Palestinians voted Hamas into power, every type of pressure was exerted to overturn those results.

When it looked as if a military coup had toppled the democratically elected government of Venezuela, our president declared it a great day for democracy. What?!

Since our government is now recycling their why-we-must-invade-Iraq propaganda with only one letter changed, let's look at Iran. Occasionally, one still hears about how those nasty terrorist types seized power from our ally, the Shah of Iran, but one never hears how we put the Shah in power first. Also, it is never mentioned how the Shah may have killed as many of his countrymen as Saddam did. It seems dictators must be replaced only when there is money to be made.

What would a smart person have done, when the invasion of Iraq was imminent? He would have bought stock in Halliburton. Wait...maybe, that's what a greedy person would have done.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Friday night with friends

Being without my car has limited my late-night music coverage, not because I mind walking, in general, but because I mind walking that last unlit mile of Broadway, at 2am, while revelers from East Missoula weave their way home. Part of that stretch has no sidewalk, making it more difficult.

Finally, I could stand it no more and had to have my live and local music fix. Friday, I walked downtown during the day, walked home and returned downtown for an evening of music. The evening began at the Union Club, where Bob Wire jump started the night's festivities.

He began sounding like Johnny Cash and spent most of the evening sounding more the wise ass he is. And I mean that term as a compliment, because this cat is a Missoula original. His Mr Fixit song is climbing my list of favorites, due primarily to the charming lyric about when your butt needs kicking he kicks it. There are times I feel I need mine kicked, and, more often, of course, I see others who need theirs kicked.

The first brave soul to hit the dance floor
was soon joined by a couple more.
Bob kicked up his feet, which were hard to miss in those shoes, and a good time was had by all.

As luck would have it, another favorite was playing the same night at the Old Post. Andrea Harsell and her stalwart partner, Louis Bond, were plucking and strumming with their usual vigor. Andrea is a friend, who has received lots of attention on this blog. One of these days, I will dedicate an entire post to Louis, who spent a lot of time with Hoyt Axton, during Hoyt's last days.

Explaining the I

Most of the people I asked why Brew was spelled with an I, had not noticed the I, and that disturbed me. Being one who always doubts himself, I would have thought I imagined it, if I didn't have the pictures to prove it. Seeking an answer, I went to the Downtown Association and found one. The BRIW Festival was originally organized by Bayern, Rhino, Iron Horse and Warden's. The founders turned the event over to the Downtown Association as a fund raiser, and the banner with that spelling went with it.