Sunday, May 29, 2005

Give Up The Funk (Tear The Roof Off The Sucker)

You've got a real type of thing going down, gettin' down
There's a whole lot of rhythm going round

You've got a real type of thing going down, gettin' down
There's a whole lot of rhythm going round

Ow, we want the funk
Give up the funk
Ow, we need the funk
We gotta have that funk

Ow, we want the funk
Give up the funk
Ow, we need the funk
We gotta have that funk

Guess who's back in town?
Yup. The best dance band I know. Jive Train.

So what if they don't have a lot of original songs. When they do covers, they do them at least as well as the originals. And, more importantly, they have a knack for picking the right songs to keep the party going.

They're now appearing along with some of the other bands I make a point of seeing on the side bar.

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Thursday, May 26, 2005

And for my birthday...

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

What I want for Christmas

Only about $50K!

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It's a Lotus Elise, by the way.

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More Wang than Ever!

I've decided to create a seperate blog for my less inflamatory thoughts on my day job-- legal news, the latest antics of the Texas judicial system, and so forth. There's not much there yet, but it won't be long before everyone's dumping work on The Lawyers' Drudge.


Speaking of Al Stewart...

I just got an e-mail notification from The Mucky Duck in Houston. He'll be there Friday, September 9. Tickets are $25, and a bargain at twice the price.

There will also be a show at the Cactus Cafe in Austin on the 10th. The Cacuts Cafe hasn't announced it yet, but has.

Edited to add:

I asked my brother to pick up a couple tickets for me. He said that they said they're going so fast that they might sell out tonight. So if you want tickets, make your way to the Mucky Duck now or get a friend in Houston to get them for you.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Things you learn surfing the net....

Given the turn into the gutter that this site has taken, I thought I'd post this: Booty call etiquitte. I always wondered how that was supposed to work.


A sharp stick in the other eye.

August 3. For those who follow that aspect of the blog.


Monday, May 23, 2005

Now it can be told!

RockFest'77 - Saturday, June 25th
New Location - Ford Pavilion

Tickets on Sale Wednesday, May 25th at 10:00 am at the Ford Park Box Office, at all Ticketmaster outlets, and are also available at or charge by phone at (409) 833-7747

Tickets at gate will be $15 if available.
This event may sell out quickly since it is being promoted nationwide.
Buy your tickets here now to guarantee availability.

Details continue to be available at

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It's 2:00 a.m..... (Reprise)

It's 2 A.M......

It's 2 A.M. the fear has gone
I'm sitting here waiting the gun still warm.
Maybe my connection is tired of taking chances
Yeah there's a storm on the loose
Sirens in my head
Wrapped up in silence all circuits are dead.
Cannot decode my whole life spins into a frenzy...

Maybe it's not that dramatic, but you get the point.

Or not. (Incidentally, the credits go to Golden Earring, Twilight Zone.)

And it's really 2:30 now, I don't have a gun (on me), and my only connection is an Internet connection. But the office sure is warm.

And the reason that I'm here at the office at this ungodly hour is that I have work that absolutely positively has to be done today (Monday, that is). It's stuff that I've been trying to get done for the last two weeks, but it just refuses to get done. I even took it to Vegas with me, and it still wouldn't get done. Damn work.

So now it's crunch time, when all the Whos in Whoville are asnooze in their beds, and I generally find the strength to write the briefs of ten Grinches plus two. Which is what I'm counting on happening now.

But that's not why I'm writing.

I'm writing because while I work, I'm listening to a pre-release copy of Al Stewart's latest "A Beach Full of Shells" (available to the general public on June 21). And I thought that, since this is The Most Informative Site on the Net™, I'd take a break from brief writing now and then to give my impressions of the album.

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And my first impression is that it's a very pleasant album. I didn't notice that there are any tracks that I'd skip next time I listen to it.

And after a few listens, it only gets better.

Unfortuantely, I suspect that a lot of people would dismiss it as elevator music. Just because it's so easy to listen to.

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Sunday, May 22, 2005

Leaving Las Vegas

After spending a few days in Las Vegas on the firm retreat, Sunday rolled around and it was time to go home.

The plane was scheduled to leave at 12:55. Given the long lines caused by the ridiculous "security" measures the airlines/airports/FAA/whoever is now requiring, I thought I'd better get there early, so I caught the shuttle from the hotel a bit before 11 and got to McCarran at a bit after 11.

And the lines at security were horrendous. Or they looked that way, anyway. Apparently, they know how to move people in Vegas. Although there were at least several hundred people ahead of me, but I was able to get boarding pass, check my bags (there was no line at Continental) and clear security in about 15 minutes.

So far, so good. I had depositions to read and over an hour and a half with nothing else to do.

And the flight to Houston was uneventful, though a little delayed. We hit the ground maybe five minutes late.

No problem so far. I still had 30 minutes to make my connecting flight.

But when we got to the terminal, someone else had stolen our parking place. At first they said they were going to move the other plane, but they ended up sending us to a different terminal. There was a plane there too, but they said it should be moved by the time we got there.

Getting a bit close now, but still probably nothing to worry about.

Then we got to Terminal C, and someone forgot to tell the ground crew that they were supposed to be guiding us in. So we waited. And waited. Interminably, you might say.

And finally with about 15 minutes to go, they started to disembark. Fortunately, the flight crew recognized that there were people with close connecting flights and asked that those who weren't in a hurry keep their seats until we got out. And they did.

Now it's a bit of a problem. Fifteen minutes to get out of Terminal C, catch the tram, get to Terminal B, and get to Gate B84D.

So I (and a few others), did the O.J. imitation. The one from the old commercials. From before he got famous. We got to the terminal at the exact minute the plane was scheduled to leave. A bit winded, though.

And then we waited. Because the plane wasn't one of those Continental Express jets. It was a SAAB 340 (I think) operated by one of Continental's partners, and the departure time was the time the shuttle was supposed to leave the gate to drive us to the plane.

The plane was obviously considerably more experienced than the flight crew. And I'm not knocking the flight crew. They were just fine. The plane had a few problems, though. Fer instance, the flight attendant's jumpseat slides to one side to stow the stairs. Only problem is that it wouldn't lock back into place. So the flight attendant, and then the first officer spent about five minutes trying to get it secured. And I guess they finally did.

So we were ready to take off. I returned my seat to the full upright position. And it slid right back to the fully reclined position. The mechanism was so worn that it wouldn't lock in place.

And we took off. And one of the overhead compartments came open. One of the passengers slammed it shut, and it fell open again. This process repeated itself several times.

But as I said, I'm not knocking the flight crew. After an otherwise uneventful flight, we arrived in Beaumont only a bit behind schedule. And my bags even made it.

So I headed out to my truck to drive home. And just as I was leaving the airport parking lot, I heard a "flop flop flop" sound of a very flat tire. And it was indeed a very flat tire.

So I pulled off the road, got the jack and the spare and prepared to change the tire. But the damned lug nuts were so tight that I actually bent the lug wrench trying to get them off. And I bent it in such a way that it gave almost no leverage. Leaving me with three loosened nuts and two that just weren't going to move. An acquaintance of mine was leaving at the same time and stopped to help, but because my truck happens to be a Land Rover, it's lug nuts are bigger than pretty much every other car on the road.

It took about half an hour, but I finally got the lug wrench bent back into a usable configuration, and with considerable effort finally got the last to lug nuts loosened, jack up the truck and change the tire. My flight was scheduled to arrive in Beaumont at about 6:30. It's about a 15 minute drive from the airport to my house. I got home at 9:00, covered in sweat and grease and break dust. Which was sort of annoying because I still had (and have) work that absolutely positively has to be done by tomorrow. Which I'll be getting back to presently.

Other than that, it was a lovely trip. I think it was anyway. I don't really remember. Or I'm not supposed to say. Or something.

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What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas???

Last Thursday while dining at Craftsteak at the MGM Grand, I observed Subway diet pitchman Jared Fogel at the next table eating what did not appear to be an 8 gram of fat or less Subway sandwich. Do people really think they can do whatever they want in Vegas without having it get out?

Star Trek Experience at the Las Vegas Hilton

Been there; done that; bought the Klingon blood wine.

I thought it was pretty cool. Well, maybe "cool" isn't the right word for something that's inherently geeky. But it was pretty cool.

And afterwards, I had a couple of extra large "James Tea Kirks" at Quark's. Basically a very large Long Island Tea, but with blue curacao instead of triple sec, and a dash of Sprite instead of Coke. And dry ice. In a pretty funky glass.

It looked something like this:

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I like Quark's.

Geez. Al Stewart and Star Trek. What a dork.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

History: America's Greatest Hits

I was listening to History: America's Greatest Hits this morning, and I couldn't help but wonder what the hell they were thinking whe they put "Muskrat Love" on it. Have they no shame?



About four posts down, you will find MY SHOCKING CONFESSION!!! that I'm an Al Stewart fan. In keeping with that SHOCKING CONFESSION!!!, I've decided to reproduce here some reviews that I wrote of past Al Stewart shows.

Good thing I'm usng a pseudonym these days. People I know might think I'm more of a **** than they already think I am. (I couldn't think of the right word to put in the **** -- geek? dweeb? nerd? dork? I dunno.)


Al Stewart: July 11, 2003, Houston, Texas.

Houston. July 11, 2003

As always, the show was great. Unfortunately, my pen went out just as I was writing "Antarctica," which was Al's leadoff song, so this won't be one of my trademark fabulous reviews. I'll do the best I can with my fuzzy memory of the evening.

First, the venue: McGonigel's Mucky Duck in Houston. It fancies itself to be an Irish pub. It’s the first place I’ve seen Al where you can get Guinness beef stew served in a crusty bread bowl. Most of those with reserved seats were there when I arrived an hour before the show. The food is quite good, if you like pub fare. For those going to the Sunday show, I’d recommend getting there in time to eat before the show. Order a bottle of wine or two and you’re set for the evening. The menu’s on their website at:

The room itself is small enough that I don’t think you could get a bad seat. If you could get a seat at all. The reserved seats sold out early, and it was standing room only for the latecomers. As of last night, it’s standing room only for the Sunday show as well. I was at the second table in the first row. Not more than ten feet from Al’s mic.

The opener was Hayes Carll. Good singin', good song writin', good banter between the songs. And he's a local boy. He'll be returning to the Mucky Duck on July 25, and I expect I will too.

After Mr. Carll finished his set, a fair amount of time was spent trying to get the sound right for Al’s show. Dave Nachmanoff provided instrumental reinforcement during Al’s show, and they had a bit of trouble getting the proper balance. I made my way to the back of the room and bought his CD. They also had a whole slew of Dave Nachmanoff’s stuff for sale, and the Miramar version of Down In the Cellar (DitC). Al's sidekick Neville Judd was there to handle the DitC sales. He’ll be there Sunday too, so I guess I’ll have to bring my copy of the book to get it signed by Boswell AND Johnson.

Anyway, as I said in the introduction, Al opened with Antarctica. (I lost a bet that he’d open with Flying Sorcery, but I’m going double or nothing on the Sunday show.) But before he did that, he had to dispose of a two glasses of wine that had been left for him on the stage. Apparently there had been a miscommunication with the management, and the drinks that he had intended to have in the dressing room ended up in the wrong place, and he was worried that he’d kick them over during the show. So he asked whether anyone in the audience would like a glass of wine. I didn’t speak up, and someone else got them. Maybe next time.

Now, back to Antarctica…. After he finished the song, Al explained that Scott and Shackleton were British explorers who were trying to get the South Pole, and that Shackleton didn’t make it and Scott made it but died on the way back, but they were both beaten by a Norwegian chap named Amundsen, who made it back by eating his dogs. He said the British explorers never would have done something like that because it’s just not sporting. Which, he said, explains a lot.

Next up was a history song, or more precisely, a song about something on the edge of history. It was, of course, Helen and Cassandra. This was, as we all know, a bonus track on Last Days of the Century. What I didn’t know is that it’s now one of his favorites, but at the time he almost left it off.

Here’s where we ordered the second bottle of wine and my memory gets fuzzy. Some songs might be out of order, and details will be missing. I think the next song was House of Clocks.

Al said he was going to play a song that nobody likes but him. And then he did. And it was Mondo Sinistro. Only, as is typical with Al songs, some sort of strange transformation happens and a song that rates a “skip always” on the recorded version somehow becomes clever or fun or poignant or whatever when it’s performed live. Mondo Sinistro was no exception. He had too much fun playing it for anyone not to like it.

Apple Cider Reconstitution, on the other hand, seemed to me to be an exception to this rule. It was still very good live, but it seemed that there was some spark that was missing. It’s the only time I can think of where I thought the studio version surpassed a live performance.

At one point, Al played a work in progress—a song in which the Immelman Turn. He also explained how these “works in progress” can change over time, and something that started as a song about a flyer can end up being about a German sausage factory. But it’s still the same song. Anyway, for those who weren’t barnstormers of Ace of Aces fans, he explained what it was, more or less. Not in any detail, just that it was a maneuver invented by a World War I German fighter pilot, and that it was picked up by the barnstormers and flying circuses that toured the country after the war in the surplus Curtiss Jennies that they picked up for a song after the war.

Playing this particular song may heave been a little unfair to Dave Nachmanoff since he was being asked to play a song that he’d never heard before. Al played a riff and Dave played it back almost right. After going over it a couple more times, Dave had it down and they played the song. Note to Al: Have your lawyers get with Gordon Lightfoot’s lawyers. There are bits of this song that sounded a LOT like Cherokee Bend. At least it sounded that way to me.

As I’m sure you all know, every singer-songwriter of note has one and only one hit. Al said this one was his. Bum-ba-bum-bum…. Heard it through the Grapevine, of course. It seems that heard it through the Grapevine has become engrafted onto Year of the Cat in the same way that Small Fruit Song has become conjoined with Clifton in the Rain. Which he also played, though I’m sure it’s out of order here. And he also played Soho, Needless to Say. And Laughing into 1939. And On the Border. And Sirens of Titan.

Somewhere along the way Al pointed out that it would be a shame to have the man voted “Songwriter of the Year” and not give him the opportunity to play one of those songs he wrote. So Al surrendered the stage. It seems that Dave had at some point in his life served time as a philosophy instructor. He said that he had been working hard to get over it and step by step had exorcised Kant and Hegel and the modern and medieval philosophers and Plato and Socrates and the presocratics. I don’t know whether it was a relapse or just part of his therapy, but the song he chose to play was Descartes in Amsterdam.

For the first encore, someone shouted out “Sand in your Shoes,” which Al obligingly played. There was a second encore, but I can’t remember which song it was. I’m pretty sure that it’s one of those that I’ve listed, though.

After the show, Al invited the audience to the back of the room for signings and requests for the Sunday show. I already have both versions of DitC, so I looked at Dave Nachmanoff’s stuff instead. I don’t have any of his stuff—or didn’t, anyway—so I picked up a signed copy of “A Certain Distance.” He had a bunch of other CDs there and he said they were 3 for $40 (or $15 each). I told him I’d listen to the one I bought and get back to him on Sunday. So he gave me an official Dave Nachmanoff guitar pick.

By the time I finished talking with Dave and Neville, Al’s autograph line had gotten pretty long, and I ended up being about the second to last. The guy in front had Al sign the back of his “Al Stewart Troubadour” shirt, which he was wearing at the time. I had nothing to get signed, but I did have a couple requests. First, my 8-year-old niece will be at the Sunday show, and Trains is her favorite song. Unfortunately, Al said that he didn’t have the words with him. Then I told him that Coldest Winter in Memory was poised to knock off Roads to Moscow for the top slot on the SOTW rankings. He said to remind him on Sunday and he’d play it.

BTW, he does look in on the SOTW rankings enough to know that “Cleave to Me” was voted his worst song when he played it at an Arizona show.

And that was that.

To the best of my recollection, these are the songs Al played (accompanied by Dave Nachmanoff on all songs), though not necessarily in the order he played them:

Helen and Cassandra
House of Clocks
Apple Cider Reconstitution
Mondo Sinistro
Year of the Cat
Clifton in the Rain/ Small Fruit Song
Soho, Needless to Say
Laughing into 1939
On the Border
Sirens of Titan.
Sand in your Shoes

Al did not play:

Descartes In Amsterdam (Dave Nachmanoff, solo)

If anyone has a better recollection of the song list or the order in which they were played, I’d appreciate any input so I can revise my review. For reasons I don’t understand at all, I keep these things.

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Al Stewart: September 2002, Austin, Texas.


Those of you who have been around for a while might remember my review of Al’s May 26, 2001 show at the Cactus Café in Austin, Texas. For the benefit of those who missed the last review, the Cactus Café is a small, intimate room in the student center on the University of Texas campus. It's a place where a lot of big names in Texas music play for small crowds. As a rule, there are no advance ticket sales. As with last year’s show, this rule held true for Al's show, so the best seats went to whoever showed up first, but even the worst seats are better than good seats most places.

The show started at 8:30. Tickets went on sale at 8:00. I was there at 5:45, about the same time as arrived for the last Austin show. Last time, there was one person in font of me. This time, I was third in line, behind Chris from Dallas (who was behind me last time), and Julieta from San Antonio (whom everyone calls Julie and who was first in line for the last show). We had a couple of hours before the show to get reacquainted. Chris had last seen Al at the St. Louis show. I got the impression that Julie goes to just about every show there is. I think she may be Al’s most enthusiastic fan.

One observation: The Cactus Café is on the University of Texas campus and in the UT student center. But I didn’t see a single person in line who looked like a UT student. Maybe a graduate student making a mid-life career change, but no one who looked like an undergraduate. Good thing, too. There are something like 50,000 students at UT, and if even 55 of them were Al fans, I’d have been lucky to be able to get a ticket at all.

Anyway, the layout of the venue was a bit different from Al’s last show. At the 2001 show, they had taken out all the tables and arranged rows of chairs in an “L” shape around the stage. This time, they left about a half a dozen tables surrounding the stage. Chris, Julie, and I got the one directly in front of) and slightly overlapping) the stage. The stage was less than knee high, and it was not more than six feet from our seats to the microphone. I don’t think seats get any better than that.

I ordered a half a carafe of their finest (and only) merlot, and sat back to enjoy the show.

There were no Black Shirts in evidence.


Al's special guest (i.e., opening act) was Dirk Hamilton. Hamilton is a local in the Austin sense. He drifted into town 12 years ago and just didn’t get around to leaving. He played a set of six songs. His music was sort of Seegeresque with strong notes of Arlo Guthrie and hints of Joe Cocker and John Mellencamp; unassuming with a clean finish and no discernable aftertaste.


At the last show, Al came bounding onto the stage from the back of the club. This time, he slipped in through a door at the back of the stage. (I’m pretty certain that this door leads to the street, and not to a dressing room or anything like that.). He was greeted with enthusiastic applause. By far the loudest came from Julie, sitting across the table from me. Al took his guitar out of the case and commented on his surprise that it was still in tune. He also commented on the enthusiasm of the crowd. Then he started into what soon developed into Antarctica.

Next up, Al pulled out his trusty capo and secured it on the second fret. He started into one of his older songs—dating all the way back to 1922, or so he said. It was “Rumors of War,” and he played it very well indeed. From there, he went into a real oldie—“Samuel, Oh How You’ve Changed.”

“Samuel,” like most of Al’s early songs, has not been among my favorites. The studio version on Bed Sitter Images always seemed to me to be lifeless and uninteresting. But there was something about the live performance that revealed a true gem. I wonder whether this is because “Samuel” is a much better song than gave it credit for, or If Al could just make anything sound good live. I’d like to hear him do “Disco Duck” sometime.

When he finished with Samuel, Al started into one of his between-songs riffs. And he forgot where he was going. Then he found his way into “On the Border.”

When he’d finished with “On the Border,” someone called out a request for “Age of Rhythm.” As Al moved the capo to the third fret, he explained that he was a good guitarist, and Peter White was a really good guitarist, but only Lawrence Juber could play “Age of Rhythm.” He played a riff from “Lonely People” and embarked on a “Night Train to Munich.”

Early on in the show, Al had asked how many people in the audience had been there for the last Austin show. It looked like about eighty percent. He said that he was going to play a lot of songs from old Al Stewart records. I think he took that as permission to go a little deeper into his catalog than he usually does. The next song was an unreleased track that I had never heard before. I understand it’s working title is “Dark Side of the Street.” It was every bit as good as Samuel.

Next up came what Al described as one of his favorite songs—a song about clocks. And with that he played “House of Clocks.”

“House of Clocks” is a short song, and Al said that he was going to play a long one. From the audience came the obligatory request for “Roads to Moscow.” Al said, “I’ll bow to your superior taste” and played it. Or tried to play it, anyway. Twice he forgot what came next.

You’d think that when a performer forgets the words or loses his place in a song, that it would detract from the performance. That was not the case her. Al handled it with such good-natured charm that, it anything, it actually enhanced the experience.

When the song was over, Al laid the blame for his failure of memory squarely at the feet of Continental Airlines. It seems that Al had booked his flight to Austin for 9/11 (an inauspicious date to be sure), and every hour a new problem with the plane was discovered (or a new excuse concocted), until, after waiting more than five hours at the airport, Al made other arrangements. And course, the Continental flight departed shortly thereafter.

And then Al solicited requests. Someone at the back of the room called out “Dark and Rolling Sea.” I suggested “Maggie Mae.” Someone said “Apple Cider Reconstitution.” There was a “Sampan.” And just about anything else you could think of. Al observed that a number of the requests were for songs that he didn’t know. But the winner, shouted most enthusiastically by on eof the people sharing my table, was “Carol.”

When he finished with Carol, Al said that he hadn’t played that one in a long time (not since it was requested very enthusiastically at the last Austin show, I believe). He said he didn’t have a playlist and again took requests from the audience. This time it was “Flying Sorcery.

When he finished with “Flying Sorcery,” Al put the capo back on the third fret, but then took it off when someone shouted out “End of the Day.” Al found this an agreeable request and played it. But Gordon Bethune (Continental Airlines Chairman and CEO) struck again. Al got stuck and asked what chord came next. Someone in the front very enthusiastically called out the next line, but Al explained he needed the chord, not the words. Then it came to him and he finished the song. He said it was nice to have an opportunity to play songs that he doesn’t know very well.

Next up was “Marion the Chatelaine.” When he finished the song, he explained a bit what it was about—that Marion Davies was an actress and a significant other of William Randolph Hearst, though he never married her, and that David Niven gave her the sobriquet “the Chatelaine” and surreptitiously brought her booze. Then he said that it might have been better to give the explanation before playing the song.

Next came the Bob Dylan impersonation. It turns out Al does a much better Dylan than Dylan himself.

In between Dylan impersonation, Al talked about how folk singers tend to do autobiographical stuff (except Dylan, who did autobiographical stuff that he wouldn’t admit was autobiographical). Then he did his own autobiographical song: “Almost Lucy.” I was sort of surprised, since I always assumed Lucy was a stripper or something. It makes more sense now. Live and learn.

From his folk period, Al moved on to 60s rock. He played various familiar riffs, but kept coming back to “You Really Got Me.” He said that, had he only been two years older, he could have been one of the Kinks. Then another request came from the back of the room, and he played it. And it was “Terminal Eyes,” of all things. And he didn’t forget any of it.

Then Al started playing strains of “Heard it through the Grapevine,” which seems to have replaced “As Time Goes By” as the “Year of the Cat” intro. This I took as a bad sign because it meant the show was almost over. Al played “Year of the Cat” but, when it came time to sing the words ”the year of the cat,” he put his hand to his ear and waited for the audience to sing it. It came as a bit of a surprise the first time around. The second time the audience got it more or less right. The third time, and for the rest of the song, Al sang it himself. Then it was back to the grapevine and then the end of the show.

But of course, that wasn’t really the end. The applause drowned out even the exceedingly enthusiastic fan to my right, and Al consented to play an encore. A number of titles were shouted from the audience, but this time Al took the request from the back of the room and played “The Dark and the Rolling Sea.” (Capo on the third fret, for those who care about such things.)

Those of you who have heard the story of the song on “The Blue Album” or “Ttime Passages Live” will recall that Al described this as a love song. Sort of. Now it’s purely vindictive—turning an ex-girlfriend into the rotten hulk of a ship disappearing in a stream of bubbles as she sinks into the sludge of the seabed where she is eaten by shrimp.

After “The Dark and the Rolling Sea,” Al segued into “The Candidate,” and then into a riff from “Pinball Wizard,” and with that, the show was over. Al announced that he would be available to sign things after the show, and with that he left

Despite Gordon Bethune’s best efforts, it was an absolutely fantastic show. I got the impression that Al knew that this was a crowd that wanted to hear things other than the hits, and he was more than willing to accommodate. It was a uniquely enjoyable experience. Here's the song list:

1. Antarctica
2. Rumors of War
3. Samuel, How You’ve Changed
4. On the Border
5. Night Train to Munich
6. Dark Side of the Street
7. House of Clocks
8. Roads to Moscow
9. Carol
10. Flying Sorcery
11. End of the Day
12. Marion the Chatelaine
13. Almost Lucy
14. Terminal Eyes
15. Year of the Cat


1. The Dark and the Rolling Sea
2. The Candidate


Before he slipped out the back door, Al said that he would be available to sign things. In my case, it was LDOTC, SLAGIATT and BTW. I also had the opportunity to ask him who was responsible for selecting the reviews that were printed inside the gatefold “The Early Years” album. He blamed the record company; said they wanted good reviews and bad reviews. NTTAWWT.

When it was all over, I wished I had asked Al the title to song #6. It was one I've never heard before but, having paid insufficient attention to unofficial releases, mistakenly assumed was "Darkside." Special thanks to Laura G. for coming through with the correct title to “Dark Side of the Street.”

© 2002 by XXXXXXXXXX, all rights reserved, except the following:

This review may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the express written permission of the author, unless it would better serve your purposes to do it that way. On the off chance you think you could make a buck or otherwise benefit from it, go for it. I only ask that proper attribution be made. Unless this would in any way undermine your purposes.

Thank you and good night.

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Al Stewart: May 26, 2001, Austin, Texas.


Al played at the Cactus Café in Austin, Texas on May 26. The Cactus Café is a small, intimate room in the student center on the University of Texas campus. It's a place where a lot of big names in Texas music play for small crowds. As a rule, there are no advance ticket sales. This rule held true for Al's show, so the best seats went to whoever showed up first, but even the worst seats are better than good seats most places.

For Al's show, they took out the tables and put in rows of chairs. It looked like there was seating for around two to three hundred. The show started at 9:00 p.m. and tickets went on sale at 8:15 p.m. We (the Enchantingly Beautiful and Mysterious Lady in Black, our son Christian, and I) drove in from Beaumont (about 250 miles) and were in line by 5:45. There was one party of two ahead of us. The stage was about eight to ten feet square and maybe 18 inches high. The stage was in one corner or the room, and the seats were arranged in an "L" shape around the stage. Our seats were in the first row, directly in front of the stage. We were no more than six feet from the microphone.

Al is Christian's favorite artist and this was his first concert. He listens to Between the Wars a lot, and was hoping to hear "League of Notions."


Al's special guest (i.e., opening act) was Eliza Gilkyson, the daughter of Baloo from Disney's "Jungle Book." Well, maybe not Baloo per se, but at least the guy who wrote "The Bare Necessities." She put on a great show. Joe Bob says check her out. Here's the song list:

1. Love's Shadow
2. Rose of Sharon
3. Hard Times in Babylon
4. (Let's Just File into the Night? True Companions?)
5. Easy Rider
6. Twisted
7. Beauty Way
8. Coast
9. Welcome Back


Al bounded onto the stage and started straight into "Flying Sorcery." He played it very well indeed. Sometime during this song, someone from Cactus Cafe told the Enchantingly Beautiful and Mysterious Lady in Black "no pictures." We therefore have very few pictures from he show. The ones we do have were taken during the first song and without a flash (we thought the flash would be rude). They are not particularly good.

Next Al played around with "La Bamba" and segued into "In Brooklyn," which he said was about his experiences on his first trip to America. The song didn't suffer for the lack of Jimmy Page's guitar. And, regarding the coffee that tasted of hotdogs, he said "that's okay, mine was tea anyway and just grand." Also, "Jewish Italian pawnbrokers" was changed to "little Italian pawnbrokers."

When he finished with "In Brooklyn," Al gave a nod to the black ASML shirt in the front row and went into "On the Border."

After "On the Border," Al acknowledged the Texas venue and paid tribute to our native music. If only he had a hat, he said, he could have a hit. But alas, it was not to be. Hatless Al did try to write a country song once (how hard could it be?), but the subject matter-the armistice following World War I-apparently didn't strike a chord with a mass audience. That song, of course, was "League of Notions," which was next. Christian was thrilled.

When Al finished with "League of Notions," Christian (who coincidentally was also wearing a black ASML shirt), observed that that there were two voices singing out of sync with each other on the album. Al explained that both voices were his, and that he has a special ability to sing like that with two voices simultaneously. (As I write this, it occurs to me that Al's admitted ability to talk out of both sides of his mouth is really the same as the lawyer's ability to smile with both faces in "License to Steal." I think it should be obvious to everyone that Al really wants to be a lawyer.)

The Enchantingly Beautiful and Mysterious Lady in Black called out "House of Clocks." Al said that the next song was one that most people would not have heard. He said it was a song from the new album, which, he said-for reasons he would explain later-was available everywhere in the world except the U.S. Al also spoke of an old grandfather clock that that had been in his family for quite some time and that he was thinking about bringing back from the UK. Then he thought of an old American song about a grandfather's clock that always kept perfect time but stopped on the day that the old man died.

Having now reached the status of the old man himself, Al wasn't so sure he wanted so much riding on his clock. He played "House of Clocks."

Al then told about a dot-com billionaire who got out of the business at an opportune time, and who had a birthday party to which he invited all the new friends he made after he became a billionaire. None showed up. It seems that there was an earthquake and everyone in LA who was not at the party was killed. The audience cheered. Al got all the words right without even having to stop and think or ask the audience. Or almost right, anyway. Instead of "1961 Margaux and Petrus and Chateau Latour," I'm pretty sure he said "1961 Margaux and Lafite and Chateau Latour."

After playing "The Night that the Band Got the Wine," Al explained the origins of Down in the Cellar (the album, not the song). It seems that he was approached by what he termed a "lifestyle company" to make a CD about wine to promote the California wine industry. He did a sort of Barry White version of what he thought they were looking for and suggested that they weren't really looking for the 700 word song he wrote. He thought they might not have gotten quite what they expected. Anyway, the record company went bankrupt (but somehow still managed to get Alan Parson's new CD out), so Al approached EMI about getting the CD released outside of the US. Much to his surprise, EMI not only picked up the album, but even promoted it, and it is doing quite well in the UK. So now Down in the Cellar is available
everywhere except the country it was made for.

Al also said that, as a result of his new musical direction, fans have started bringing him gifts of wine, which is a good thing. Or not, depending on the wine. If it has a screw cap and has been lying under the couch for the last 46 years, it's probably best to leave it at home.

Al next explained that, although he is relatively new to wine songs, he has long been a chronicler of the British Navy. And with that, he launched into "Old Admirals," followed by Soho (Needless to Say).

Al said that by this point in the show everyone should have realized that they were not going to see Rod. He told us of a radio interview where the DJ kept asking him why he liked blondes so much. Al was perplexed. When he figured out what was going on and suggested that the interviewer might have him confused with Rod Stewart. That was the end of the interview.

Having ascertained that everyone was in the right place and had indeed come to see Al Stewart and not Rod Stewart, and further having surmised that there were people in the audience that might be familiar with his work, he solicited requests from the audience. The winner (Al claimed it was the only one he could hear) was "Clifton in the Rain."

So Al played "Clifton in the Rain" and "Small Fruit Song," which seem to have grown together into a single song over the years, and which particularly delighted the Enchantingly Beautiful and Mysterious Lady in Black.

Al explained the peculiar advantages that a singer/songwriter has after a relationship goes sour. He can write a song about her getting eaten by prawns (he also called them shrimp so the audience would know what he was talking about) and play it night after night, but she'll never know because she doesn't listen to him anymore. Next up was "Dark and Rolling Sea," which, incidentally, is played with a capo on the third fret.

Next Al explained the difference between metaphors and similes, and how it relates to heavy metal versus folk music. Heavy metal is heavy on metaphors-"I am the devil." Folk, on the other hand, leans more toward similes-"I am like the devil." Then he did a song that is very folky because it's just a bunch of similes strung together. And he didn't even forget any of them. It was like a big yellow tractor plowing through a field of hay.

After "Genie on a Tabletop," Al started "Heard it through the Grapevine" intro. The audience was incapable of clapping at the right time, so Al stopped to set the beat for the clapping, then resumed the intro and went into "Year of the Cat." Dick Cheney was cast for the Peter Lorre role. Last time I saw Al was around 1984, and Ronald Reagan got the part. And that was it.

Al left the stage, but was forced to come back and play a couple more songs. For the first encore, he played Waiting for Margaux followed by Antarctica. He again left the stage, but the audience wasn't ready to let him quit yet.

Al came out for a second encore, and someone shouted out "Roads to Moscow." Despite a groan from someone in the first row not connected with me, the boy, or the Enchantingly Beautiful and Mysterious Lady in Black, Al played it. It was great. Then after the song was done, he played the solo. (He said he can play the song or the solo, but not both at the same time.)

When Al took the stage, it was obvious that he was in high spirits and that he was going to have a great time with the show. He was in great form and put on the best show I've ever seen. Even though it was just Al and his guitar, the show was even better than the times I've seen him in the past with a full band. Here's the song list:

1. Flying Sorcery
2. In Brooklyn
3. On the Border
4. League of Notions
5. House of Clocks
6. The Night that the Band Got the Wine
7. Old Admirals
8. Soho (Needless to Say)
9. Clifton in the Rain/Small Fruit Song
10. Genie on a Tabletop
11. Year of the Cat

12. Waiting for Margaux
13. Antarctica

14. Roads to Moscow


After the show, Al stayed around to sign autographs. I asked him when would be an appropriate time to drink a bottle of Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1995, which I just happened to pick up in Houston on the way to the show. He said to come around again about 2010. Rats. Anyway, we got a couple things signed, and the Enchantingly Beautiful and Mysterious Lady in Black and Christian got their pictures taken with Al, and I got some recommendations on what to buy of the 2000 Bordeaux. All in all, you couldn't ask for a better time.

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In keeping with the explanation of the House of Pancakes, I'm up late and working on the second bottle of wine. And for some reason (probably connected with the music I'm listening to at the moment), I feel moved to make a SHOCKING CONFESSION!!!! And here it is:

I think Al Stewart is about the best thing since sliced bread. As I write, I'm listening to "League of Notions" from the long out of print album "Between the Wars." Who else would write a song about the armistice after World War One, in a semi-Country style, and then end it with a Latin phrase?

He sometimes plays at the Mucky Duck in Houston. And sometimes at Cactus Cafe in Austin. Either way, it's more than worth the trip. I think I've mentioned him tangentially before (as in Hayes Carll opened for him), but I don't believe I've ever just come out and said how gosh darn good he is.

He's really quite good in concert. In the Willie Nelson review, I had to qualify the "best concert I've ever seen" with "or pretty darn close, anyway" because I've yet to see someone do it better than Al. (But then, I'm an Al Stewart fan, and Al plays small rooms, whereas I'm not a Willie Nelson fan and Willie plays in places bigger than I like.) Anyway, Al has a new album coming out shortly, so I'm going to give it a plug here. It's called Beach Full of Shells. I don't know why its called that. I'm sure it's a literary reference that I don't get. Or something. Anyway, I've heard a couple of the tracks-in-progress in concert. It should be good. I pre-ordered mine from a fan site for about a few bucks more than Amazon (if you're paying Amazon's shipping) because it comes with an opportunity to purchase an exclusive limited edition unreleased track that didn't make the album. (You may laugh, but last exclusive limited edition Al Stewart release like this has sold for as much as $300 on eBay and regularly sells for $70-$100.)


Now here's the problem with the "second bottle of wine" thing. My mind tends to wander. And it's wandered. (Actually, it wandered a while ago when the song changed. I wrote what's below back then and came back to finish what's above. I'm actually listening to Blue Oyster Cult, "Burning for You" at the moment, but it doesn't inspire me to write anything.)


But "League of Notions" ended. Now it's Billy Joel singing "Piano Man." And there's that line about "John at the bar is a friend of mine; gets me my drinks for free...." That's the job I'd rather have--John at the bar. But then there's that line where John says "Bill I believe this is killing me, as the smile ran away from his face." I notice that happens to me a lot (the "smile ran away from his face" thing), but I don't think I could be a movie star if I could get out of this place. I just want to be John at the bar. Funny how things work out. The grass is always greener, I guess.

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Sunday, May 15, 2005

What has 200 records, six Grammys, and plays Uncle Jessie on "The Dukes of Hazard"?

It's Willie Nelson, and he played this evening at the Beaumont Civic Center. Actually, it was billed as "Willie Nelson and Family," giving due credit to the band.

I'd guess that the Beaumont Civic Center's auditorium is about twice the size of a good size high school gym. Which much bigger than I like. But since my seats were section 1, row 9, seats 11 and 12, I was willing to put up with the oversize room. The seats were great, except for one problem. After the fifth row, the auditorium was divided into three sections (numbered 1, 2 & 3). Section 1 was on the left Hand side (facing the stage), and seat 12 was on the aisle on the right hand side (nearest the center). The problem is that there was an endless parade of amateur photographers obstructing what would otherwise have been a great view. The guy in front of me seemed really annoyed. I wish people would steal their concert photos off a professional's blog. They'd get better pictures and be considerably less annoying. I really hate camera phones.

But back to Willie-- I've never been a big country music fan. Or a Willie Nelson fan for that matter. I don't have any of his records, and I knew maybe ten percent of the songs he played. But he never lost my attention for a minute, which is a rare accomplishment. I remember seeing The Eagles, ZZ Top, Queen, and other big name acts, and no matter how much I liked their music, at some point I'd find my self wondering when its going to be over. The man (or the man with the band, anyway) is a phenomenal performer. He played old stuff, new stuff, stuff I'd heard many times before, stuff I'd heard snippets of on Time Life music commercials, and stuff I'd never heard at all. And it was all good.

Did I mention that Willie had a seemingly endless supply of hats? He'd play a few songs, toss his hat into the crowd, and pull another out of a box. He'd wear that for a few songs, toss it out into the crowd, and get a new one.

After playing for about an hour, he did a sort of a preemptive encore. Rather than leave the stage and demand applause in exchange for additional songs, he said "I've got time for a few more songs, how about you?," or words to that effect. And then he played for another half hour. And it was even better.

And then it was over. The band played while Willie signed whatever people brought to the stage-- T-shirts, tour posters, baseball caps, etc.

About three quarters of the crowd left.

Then he quit signing stuff, and started playing "Amazing Grace." And you could tell he meant it. Brought a tear to my eye, anyway. And after that, a rousing version of "I Saw the Light." Real camp meeting stuff, only with a sincerity that made it okay.

Then he signed some more stuff for about another ten minutes.

And then it was over for real.

Best concert I've ever been to. Or pretty darn close, anyway.

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RockFest '77

Scratch the part about it being at Lamar Stadium. And for the best of all possible reasons: Lamar says no beer. For more information, check the comment from "RockFest" under the previous post.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2005

"Rock Fest 77"

Stadium rock is coming to Beaumont on June 25, 2005, in the form of "Rock Fest '77," featuring AC/DC, Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, and Led Zeppelin. Not the real ones, of course. It's only Beaumont, after all. It's Hells Bells doing AC/DC, Us and Them doing Pink Floyd, Satisfaction doing the Stones, and Zoso doing Led Zeppelin. I've seen all of them but Zoso, and they do what they do very well. And Zoso says they're pretty good on their website.

But there's more. It seems that the guy whose producing it (or at least a guy who said he was the guy producing it) was at The Vortex the other night (when 9 Station Drive and The Gourds played). And it seems that the show is being staged in connection with the filming of a movie of some sort. And people who dress in proper 70s fashion might end up being extras in the movie.

If I recall correctly, tickets are $12 and they'll be playing somewhere on the Lamar University campus. (They must have a stadium there somewhere since they used to have a football team.)

Should be interesting.

Edited to add: You may be wondering why I'm posting something about a show that hasn't happened yet. The reason is simple. I saw the June 25 date "Rock Fest 77" on Satisfaction's website a few weeks back, and I wanted to know more. Like what "Rock Fest 77" was. But when I Googled "Rock Fest 77," all that came up was Satisfaction's tour dates. Which I already knew. Which made it sort of unhelpful. (And taking Google's suggestion of "Rockfest 77" didn't do any better.)

Even today as I write this, "Rock Fest 77" only pulls up Satisfaction's and Us and Them's sites. (Zoso has the date on their site, but doesn't list it as "Rock Fest 77." Hells Bells doesn't seem to know they've been booked yet.)

So now people who want information on "Rock Fest 77" will end up here; the most informative site on the Net.

Edited again to add the really important stuff: The official website with complete and (we hope) accurate information is This event is being promoted nationwide (they say), so get your tickets now!

Edited one last time to add: "RockFest '77" That's how they write it on the official site. Google's finally found it.

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Just skip this one.

If you believe those darned Swedes, straight men are biologically programmed to be turned on by women's urine, while straight women and gay men are turned on by men's sweat. Read about it here. I'm not sure what it explains, but it must explain something.


Monday, May 09, 2005

I've been pseudonymized!

Given the profession of the former owner of this blog and his penchant for bad-mouthing the Texas Supreme Court, he's decided to start posting under a pseudonym. Actually, it's not him at all anymore, but a totally different person who has now taken over his blog. The person whose name appeared on prior posts is no longer affiliated with this blog in any way.


He's turned the whole thing over to Wang Chi, in whose honor this blog was named. The name comes from "Chi," meaning "vitality" or "life force," and "wang," meaning "Wang," or an outdated computer. Either that or a character from one of finest examples of the cinematic art: John Carpenter's "Big Trouble in Little China." I'm pretty sure it's the latter.


And since "The Person No Longer Affiliated With This Blog" is no longer affiliated with this blog, his "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" metaphor for the Supreme Court of Texas will no longer be used. (It was stolen from Bob Hilliard anyway.) Henceforth, the Supreme Court of Texas will be known as "The Lords of Death" (who are, after all, only errand boys for the business interests behind the Wing Kong).

Thank you and good night.

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The Gourds and More

Last Friday it was The Gourds at the Vortex. On their website, they say they're uncategorizable. I tend to agree. They also call what they do "music for the unwashed and well read." Sounds right to me. Good stuff, though.

But that's not all. It seems that the opening act was none other than my favorite band of local boys, 9 Station Drive. They rocked. And stuff.

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Sunday, May 01, 2005

Do a little dance, make a little love, get down tonight....

Yeah. It's Jive Train again.

I love those guys.

That's all.

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