Sunday, September 25, 2005

Still living like a refugee.

I saw my neighbor's house on FoxNews. It had a pine tree on the roof. They didn't show my house.

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Where's my damn money?

They're saying that Beaumont's closed. There's a dusk to dawn curfew for those who are there, and they're going to try to remove them, and no one gets back in. Damn them. Who the hell are they to tell me I can't go home to my own house? So what if there's no electricity or drinkable water? I have propane for the grill. I'm picking up a generator tomorrow morning. I have a sufficient supply of gasoline. I have plenty of food and water and bourbon and candles and tequila. I have everything I need there (assuming the house is still there). I can take care of myself just fine. I don't need their damn "services." I don't need them to make things "safe" for me before I'm allowed to go home. I don't need them to take care of me and make it all better. I live there, damnit. I should be there attending to my own house and my own neighborhood, not sitting here in Tyler without a damn thing to do. It's a dry county, for chrissake! There's not even a liquor store within 20 miles!

But if they're going to make me a refugee, what I want to know is when they're going to give me MY $2000 debit card? Damn it, I want my money, and I want it now!

I knew I never should have left town. I'll never listen to those bastards again.

Never again.

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Friday, September 23, 2005

Gettin' the hell outta Dodge.

We left Beaumont at about 9:30 last night. There are about 300,000 people in the Beaumont-Port Arthur area, and only one hurricane evacuation route. And it narrows to one lane each way in places. Sometime Thursday someone at TexDOT realized that it might be a good idea to make both lanes run north (southbound folks got to use the shoulder).

By 10:00, we had almost reached the mall, which is about 3 miles from my house. 2:30 a.m. found us approaching Woodville, about 50 miles from home. But the reports on TV said traffic started moving once you got past Woodville. And it did. For a while.

It seems that a lot of people couldn't find a gas station with anything to sell and set off with less than full tanks. There were a lot of gas stations along the way that still had gas, but where ever one was, traffic slowed to a crawl for miles. And that was pretty much the story of the trip from Woodville to Lufkin.

Lufkin is about a hundred miles from home, and about half way to Tyler, which is where we were going. That was another huge bottleneck. That's where the road I was taking--Route 69--meets up with I-59, and I-59 was full of people leaving Houston. I finally got through at about 6:00 a.m.

Once past Lufkin, things got a lot better. The gas station bottlenecks were fewer and fewer, and traffic actually started to go speeds resembling the speed limit. But for some reason, after spending so long going so slow, people seemed to have forgotten how to drive normal speeds. All along the way, even where the speed limit was 65, there were lots of people who couldn't seem to bring themselves to go above 40.

Anyway, the sun rose somewhere around Jacksonville, and we arrived in Tyler in time to catch the morning rush hour. We reached our destination at 8:00 a.m.

Now here's the good part: compared to other people I've talked to, we made unbelievably good time. A friend who left for Dallas at 1 o'clock yesterday afternoon called this morning. She had only made it as far as Livingston. Livingston is mostly north and a bit to the east of Houston. It's 87 miles from Beaumont. She was almost out of gas and there was no gas to be had anywhere. And, of course, the roads are packed with tens of thousands of other people who have been on the road for 18 hours and are out of, or nearly out of gas. And this was one of the official evacuation routes. TexDOT is supposed to be sending fuel trucks.

And here's the bad part: This morning's storm tracks predict that Rita will make landfall at Port Arthur as a Category 3 storm. The eye should pass over Beaumont early Saturday morning. Beaumont is only about 30 miles inland, and it's still supposed to be a strong Category 3 at that time. Unless the storm makes some last minute adjustments, the storm surge will flood all of Port Arthur and a good bit of Beaumont.

The storm surge shouldn't make it to my house (the maps say it would take a Category 5 storm for that to happen), and even with the storm surge and backed up bayous, it probably won't dump enough rain to flood my house, but there are lots of tall pines in the yard that I've heard are prone to breaking in half when the winds get above 80mph. There are nine of them in my yard, and similar numbers in the neighbors' yards.

I wonder what I'm going to come home to.

I'm starting to get a little worried about this.

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Sunday, September 18, 2005

I pledge a Legion....

I distinctly remember that, as a child, I was tricked and/or coerced into pledging a legion to the flag of the United States. Do you have any idea what that entails? A legion was 5000-6000 men, fully equipped. And in modern terms, that wouldn't just be infantry; it would include armor and air cavalry units. Do you have any idea what that would cost? We're talking at least hundreds of millions or billions of dollars.

Yes, folks, tonight's rant is about the Pledge of Allegiance. I hate it. I will not say it. I don't even like to be in the same room with it. It gives me the screaming willies.

And it's not because of the "under God" part that seems to get liberal panties in such a bunch. That's about the only part of it that I find inoffensive.

Let's look at exactly what this abomination is.

"I pledge allegiance to the flag." Idolatry, pure and simple. Can you imagine, pledging allegiance to a flag? A piece of cloth? Or even to the Republic for which it stands (that hasn't existed since 1865, but that exceeds the parameters of this post)? What would God say if he knew that his people were doing such things?

But again I get ahead of myself. It's presumptuous to presume that these are God's people, much as they'd like to be.

And what about this "one nation... indivisible" stuff? Says who? Abraham Lincoln? Certainly not the authors or ratifiers of the Constitution. When New York and Virginia (and possibly others) ratified the Constitution, it was with the express reservation that the Union could be dissolved if the States decided that it no longer suited them to remain in the partnership.

It seems to me that once upon a time, a group of true patriots observed that "Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

This 'indivisible' nonsense is just a ratification of Mr. Lincoln's war against the founding principles of the Republic.

And then there's "with liberty and justice for all." Irony? Comic relief? I dunno. A worthy goal? Maybe. The truth? Yeah, right.

So why the hell is the Pledge so revered? Did George Washington or Thomas Jefferson say the pledge? Hell no. They would have choked on it. George because it's blasphemous and Tom because it's statist. It was a turn-of-the-century state-worshiping socialist thing. It is a prayer to the gods of big government and centralization. It is an offense to all that is true and good and right.

(In case my previous posts didn't disqualify me from my long-coveted judicial appointment, I'm sure this will do it. Unless Ron Paul gets elected President. He'd understand.)

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Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Standing up to The Man in New Orleans

It seems that some otherwise peaceable citizens don't appreciate the attempts of their Servants and Protectors to evict them from their homes. Here's what one New Orleans resident had to say about to CNN.

ASHTON O'DWYER, NEW ORLEANS HOLDOUT: Have you has your neighborhood ever been invaded by state troopers from another state? Sent here by God knows whom?

SIMON: Many of the people continuing to stay in New Orleans were told time was running out. Ashton O'Dwyer is an attorney but says he'll defy any order requiring him to evacuate.

O'DWYER: I will leave when I am dead. OK. Let them be warned. They come to my house, they try to evict me, they try to take my guns, there will be gunfire.

SIMON: With his house intact and with plenty of food and water, O'Dwyer cannot understand why folks like him are being forced to leave.

O'DWYER: Treat me with benign neglect. Get out of my neighborhood, get out of my life, get out of my [ bleep ] city.

You tell 'em, O'Dwyer.

And now an update-- The Drudge Report reports:

An upbeat New Orleans mayor announced Tuesday eve that he hoped to reopen 4 neighborhoods, including the city's central business district and the French Quarter, to residents and business owners by the end of the week... Developing...

Could the Mayor be surrendering and declaring victory?

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Saturday, September 10, 2005

Al Stewart at the Mucky Duck, September 9, 2005

September 9, 2005 at the Mucky Duck in Houston, Texas. It's Al Stewart and Dave Nachmanoff.

First up was Dave playing "Not What I Expected," accompanied by Mike Lindauer playing his lovely Rick Turner five-string fretless electric bass.

For his next number, Dave played "Glorious," which, he said, had a simple chorus. Sing along if you want; if you don't just sit there. It's a free country.

And in the intro to the next song, he managed to get in a plug for his wife's ceramics business, which you can read about at And from there he went into "Thing of Beauty."

He also said that, as Al said last night, audiences hate new songs, which makes it tough being the opening act. Since no one's heard your songs before.

The next song was one that he said he'd written after he got deported from Canada. And it was "A Certain Distance."

At that point, Al entered the stave and Mike left. Al said that he didn't think he was even slightly in tune. He asked for a grace period of 45 seconds.

When his 45 seconds were up, Al played "House of Clocks." Sort of. He looked up from the set list and realized that he was playing original chords. Original to that song. Didn't belong there at all.

And then he started playing a new "jazzy and interesting" chord progression that sounded at times like if could be an intro to "Night Train to Munich." But it wasn't. Al explained that he was fearless and liked to write songs on stage.

Then he repeated the riff.

Then Dave tried it. Al frowned, shook his head and waved him off.

And then they played "Flying Sorcery."

And then more tuning. Al said it was a combination of new strings and not tuning before they came on. After a bit of back-and-forth where Al played a note and then Dave played it, Al said that there are electronic tuners for that sort of thing, but they stubbornly refuse to use them.

They finally got their D-strings synchronized, which Al suggested was the one string that was out of tune. And then he said that he'd just realized that when the bass player came back out, they'd be out of tune again.

But for the time being, it was good enough, and they started into one of those long "guess what's next" intros. It started sounding sort of Soho-ish, but soon became distinctly border-ish, and then became one of those jammin' high energy renditions of "On the Border."

Next, Al said, "We're going to do a swing tune. Audiences sometimes like swing tunes. They did last night." And they played "Night Train to Munich."

When they'd finished the song, Al said it was time to find out if the bass was in tune. He also said that the bass player didn't know the songs; he'd never heard them before. But then, none of them knew the next song.

Al said that he wanted to write a country rock because he was coming to Texas. But a country rock song needs a chorus. Al said he doesn't use that; he uses plot and character development instead. But he did it anyway.

He said he'd written the song a couple days ago. It's set in 1934. It's about a girl ripping you off.

And then there was a bit more tuning to get Mike Lindauer's bass in synch with the other instruments. While this was going on, Al told about Joni Mitchell's computer corrected guitar; no matter how out of tune it is, the computer adjusts the tone so it sounds right.

And then they played the song. It was the song he'd played the night before, the chorus of which contains the line "She asked for water and I went to the well." But this time, one of the lines in the song was "I forgot the words but you'll never know," and it seemed to have a few other improvised lyrics. Good thing it was a country rock song where only the chorus is really important.

Al said the next song was one they knew a little better. It was a song about getting old. Then he told of a trip through the Pacific Northwest, thinking about Henry VIII and his six wives, the first of whom was Catherine of Aragon. And since English people love puns, he couldn't resist "Katherine of Oregon." Then he could do "Anne of Cleveland." It could be a whole series of songs. And they played it. Then Mike again left the stage.

Al said the next song was an old Etruscan song. However, because there's no way to translate Etruscan, he had to guess at the meaning of some of the words. Some of those words ended up being "Time Passages." It sounded like Dave's guitar wasn't quite tuned in synch with Al's, but they somehow made due.

After "Time Passages," the band took a 20-minute break to allow the Mucky Duck to sell more drinks. This also provided a convenient opportunity to deal with the tuning issues. After the break, Al and Dave came back of a properly synched and tuned rendition of "Apple Cider Reconstitution."

Al said he was going back to 1915 for the next two songs. The first took place in Armenia in 1915 and it was, of course, "Rain Barrel." But Al got so carried away with the playing the intro that he for got the words and had to start over. But he got it right the second time through.

Going from Armenia to a beach somewhere in England. "I could tell you where, but I'd have to shoot you," he said, "it's wartime." And he put the capo on the third fret.

Al said that in 1915 it was the consensus that England should invade the Dardanelles--the soft underbelly of Europe--and knock Turkey out of the war. This plan was being pushed by a man named Churchill (who would make appearances in other Al songs). The man in charge, Admiral Fisher (who is featured in another Al song), thought it was a stupid idea and ultimately resigned over it.

One of the men who headed out on this expedition was a young lieutenant who was bitten by a mosquito in Greece and died. He happened to be the most famous poet of his day. He looked sort of like a blond Hugh Grant, only better looking. He began the cult of dead poets and rock stars. His name was Rupert Brooke.

His admirers included Violet Asquith, the daughter of the Prime Minister. She was so passionate about him that she watched from the beach as his ship departed. She ended up marrying a guy named Bonham Carter. Their granddaughter Helena became an actress.

The song is about the way we look at things when we first enter into them, whether they be wars, relationships, or whatever; how we start out thinking "this is going to be great" and end up thinking "what the hell was I thinking?"

And then he played "Somewhere in England 1915."

And after he'd played "Somewhere in England," he said he was going to play a jazzy tune.

Al said that for all musical styles, songs are all held together by their lyrics. He said he had a theory (which no one else subscribes to) that a "baby done you wrong" song is the same regardless of style. It can be done as heavy metal, jazz, blues, ska, but it's all the same. But a song about Rupert Brooke is unique.

And then he played something started out sounding like it might turn into "All Along the Watchtower" but turned out to be "Midas Shadow."

And then Al had a word or two about lyrics writing. Songs with plot and character development, he said, are different from stylistic songs.

Back in the 50s, all it took was four chords (which he played). Then he played an example, Al did the first verse of "Teenager in Love." That's all it took; swooped hair, four chords, and about twenty words total.

Then came the 60s, and instead of twenty words, you needed 300. And then Al, doing his best Bob Dylan (which is better than Dylan), started singing "Like a Rolling Stone."

Then came the 70s, when you could get by with only two words. And Al sang a lie or two from "Staying Alive."

Unfortunately for Al, he left school in 1963, which meant he had to put all those words in. He said he borrowed the beat for the next song from the Bee Gees, and it's all about Soho.

But first he did a verse the 50s version, demonstrating that the whole song could have been done with 20 words. But instead, he said he turned out to be the father of rap. And then he played So (Needless to Say).

During the pause between songs, a waitress delivered a note to Al. It said, among other things, that one of the people at the show thought he was coming to see Cat Stevens. So Al did a little Cat Stevens. Of course, Cat Stevens now goes by Yusuf Islam, but Al worked with him back when he was Steve Adams. (Before becoming Steve Adams, he was Steven Demetre Georgiou.) Oddly, Steve Adams/Cat Stevens' first his was "I love my dog." None of which had anything to do with what came next.

The next song was "Merlin's Time." Dave said that Al played lead guitar on "Merlin's Time" on Dave's soon-to-be-released CD of instrumental versions of Al songs. And Al said, "But does it have this?" and proceeded to play the new riff he made up at the beginning of the show.

Then Mike Lindauer came back for the next song, which was Year of the Cat. Dave's solo was awesome. It ended with strains of "Day Tripper." And when they'd finished that, they left the stage.

But, of course, the crowd wanted more.

The first encore was a request from Dave, and it was "Sand in Your Shoes." Al said he was channeling Bob Dylan when he wrote it, which is why it has all the improvised words.

Someone asked for "Roads to Moscow," but Al declined, having played that the last couple times he'd come to Houston, but he had another song dealing with the same subject matter. A dance song, in fact.

It seems that Al had observed the popularity of dance songs, and thought he'd jump on the bandwagon. And, he said, there are only two reasons why the next song wasn't a number one hit: First, it was about Joseph Stalin, and no one likes Stalin. Second, instead of American dance music, it was Russian dance music.

Although, being Russian dance music, it never made the charts in the U.S., Al said that it stirs something in Dave's Russian roots, compelling him to dance. He can't help himself.

But enough about Dave. Al explained that, like Jimmy Carter, Stalin came from Georgia. In the mid-30s, he decided to get rid of his enemies. But all his enemies were in the same party. It was as if George Bush decided to behead the Republican Senate.

The song takes place in 1937, with all the old Bolsheviks waiting around in hell to torture Stalin for all eternity. The thought of this made them happy, and it made the devil happy, and it made the Russian people happy, and Al said it makes him happy and it should make you happy.

And they played it. And they started out with Dave doing a Russian dance while playing his guitar behind his head, and occasionally breaking into dance throughout the song. There were two changes to the lyrics: "the next few million years" became "the next few trillion years," and the last (or nearly the last) "we will dance," became "HE will dance." The crowd started clapping along, and they played it faster and faster until the song was done.

And when they stopped playing, Al said "Thank you very much. My name is Petula Clark. Thank you very much."

And then it was over. Except for the line to get things signed, which went on for another half hour, at least.

Despite the technical difficulties and occasional memory lapses early on, it was a great show. Everyone seemed to have a good time, including Al and Dave, who took the glitches so well in stride that it seemed almost like they were supposed to be part of the show.

Set List:

Dave's set, accompanied by Mike Lindauer.

"Not What I Expected"
"Thing of Beauty"
"A Certain Distance"

Al's set, accompanied by Dave.

"House of Clocks"
"Flying Sorcery"
"On the Border"
"Night Train to Munich"
"She Asked for Water (and I Went to the Well)" (with Mike Lindauer on bass)
"Katherine of Oregon" (with Mike Lindauer on bass)

"Time Passages"

"Apple Cider Reconstitution"
"Rain Barrel"
"Somewhere in England 1915"
"Midas Shadow"
"Soho (Needless to Say)"
"Merlin's Time"
"Year of the Cat" (with Mike Lindauer on bass)


"Sand in Your Shoes"
"Joe the Georgian"

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Friday, September 09, 2005

Al Stewart at the Mucky Duck, September 8, 2005

September 8, 2005 at the Mucky Duck in Houston, Texas. It’s Al Stewart and Dave Nachmanoff.

At 8:00 p.m., more or less sharp, Dave kicked things off with “Square Peg Blues.” After finishing the song, Dave directed our attention to the guy next to him with the big guitar. And that guy was Mike Lindauer, from The Woodlands (a Houston suburb) playing a fretless acoustic bass.

And then it was the title track of “A Certain Distance,” which was, of course, “A Certain Distance.”

When he’d finished that song, Dave explained that he hadn’t always made his living as a musician; he’d once taught philosophy. Dr. Dave, he was. Once upon a time. But he was fortunate to live in California where they have support groups and 12-step programs even for recovering philosophers. But he nevertheless had occasional relapses, and the result of one of those was "Descartes in Amsterdam."

The next song was one that he wrote during his brother’s wedding. Well, not actually during the wedding. And he didn’t exactly write it himself. He wrote it in collaboration with his brothers Jeffrey and Michael, one of whom is a lawyer and the other a screenwriter (“The Day After Tomorrow” was mentioned). The song was “Grateful.”

And that was that for Dave’s set. Almost. Dave mentioned that Al had just had a birthday and sort of prodded the crowd to sing “Happy Birthday.” Apparently finding the crowd’s unaided attempt to be limp, disorganized, and wholly unsatisfactory, Dave took charge and led the room in a proper rendition.

And then without further ado Al and Dave went straight into “House of Clocks” (Mr. Lindauer having by then retired from the stage).

Somewhere in there Al asked Neville to find Rusty (the proprietor of the Mucky Duck) to turn up Dave’s guitar. And once they were satisfied with the levels, they played “Flying Sorcery.”

Al commented that the Mucky Duck was moving up market. He said that when he first met Rusty, they had three bottles of Gallo on the wine list. Now they have Dom. (I had their special, a bottle of J Garcia Zinfandel, a quite satisfactory selection. And when that was running low, a bottle of Firesteed Pinot Noir, which was a bit harsh at first, but opened up nicely after breathing for a half an hour).

For his next song, Al said he was reaching back to 1922 for a song from his second album. An album that he said was released in England but not in the U.S. And he told of his first trip to the U.S. He got in the cab and the driver asked him where he was from, and he said “England.” And the driver said “I hate the fuckin’ English.” Al said he spent about a week in New York, and we wrote…. Hmmm… sounds like La Bamba…. But of course, it turned into “In Brooklyn.”

The words to “In Brooklyn” seem to have changed since Love Chronicles came out back in ’22. “Jewish Italian pawnbrokers” has been “Little Italian pawnbrokers” every time I’ve heard him play it over the last few years, and the “coffee that tasted of hot dogs” has been “tea anyway” rather than “cold anyway.” And this time, “records and adverts for cat food” was changed to “records and adverts for blue jeans.”

And then Al had a few words about English rock. It seems that the Americans exported rock to England, and then the English tried to sell it back. And Al felt that he’d really struck a blow for England when the next song hit 42 on the Billboard charts. And then he did a long intro only occasionally hinting at what the song was going to be. But, of course, those in the know immediately pick up the strains of “On the Border,” which is what it turned out to be.

Before they moved on to the next song, Dave plugged his upcoming CD of instrumental versions of Al Stewart songs. That CD is titled “Wordless Rhymes,” which, Al said is a better title than “Useless but Profound.” Dave said he’s saving that for an album of philosophy songs.

Al said that the next song was like a swing tune. Not like a swing tune, it is a swing tune. And it was "Night Train to Munich." And when they were done, Dave said “See? Audiences do like swing.”

And then Al went back to talking about cab drivers. It seems that every cab driver he’s had is from Armenia. Which is also the setting of the next song. But he’s not going to tell them that he wrote a song about them because he’s afraid they’ll declare war on Turkey. And they played “Rain Barrel,” which I thought sounded better with just the two guitars doing the Middle Eastern music.

Al mentioned that “Rain Barrel” was a song from the new album, which he assumed we all had, but if we didn’t, he did. He said that they were gong to play one more song before taking a break. “You can all have a few drinks and we’ll have a few drinks….” Which is why they were doing the songs he didn’t know so well before the break. Which seemed an odd intro to the next song, which was “Time Passages.” And they had fun with it, occasionally striking some of those ‘classic’ Rock n’ Roll poses and generally having a good ol’ time.

And then there was a 20-minute break. Al suggested that everyone order a bottle of Dom Perignon. Said they weren’t going to come back until everyone had ordered two bottles of wine.

Al and Dave were back on stage at 9:30, looking like they were having an even better time than before. (Perhaps he meant that they weren’t coming back until someone bought THEM two bottles of wine.)

The first song after the break was “Gina in the Kings Road,” which ended with “she loves you yeah, yeah, yeah…, yeah.”

Since he’d just sung a song about being young, he said he was going to do one about being old. And he started playing “Deck the Halls.” But only started. Then he told of a trip through the Pacific Northwest, thinking about Henry VIII and his six wives, the first of whom was Catherine of Aragon. Catherine of Aragon. Katherine of Oregon. What a good song title! Of course, the song doesn’t have anything to do with the title, but it was too good a title to throw away. And he played “Katherine of Oregon.”

After that, Al said that sometimes a song is just so undistinctive that no one picks up on it, but this next song had some interesting lyrical things going on. And with Dave somehow making his guitar sound something like a piano, they went into “Midas Shadow,” with Dave doing some pretty fancy guitar work in the break.

The next song started with (or at least contained) the line “It was 1935, I was looking for employment,” and it featured the oft repeated line "She asked for water, And I went to the well." There were hints of “Flying Sorcery” here and there, but not in the chorus. I was stumped. Couldn’t think of what it was. Then he said it was a song he’d written a couple days ago.

Someone picked up on the “1935” from the (possibly) first line of the aforementioned song, but either he or I was a year off on the date, and he asked for that other “1934” song. So Al starts singing:

“The morning is humming, it's a quarter past nine
I should be working down in ….”


And he went back and tried to figure out what was wrong. The second time through, at “a quarter past nine” he realized that he normally does “The Last Day of June 1934” with a capo. Having straightened that out, he finished the song without a (further) hitch. Stuff like that happens sometimes when you play songs you weren't planning on playing.

After the song, he said, “In case you don’t know who Ernst Roehm was, he was the leader of the Brown Shirts. If you don’t know who they were, I’m not going to tell you.” Or words to that effect. But of course, he did tell. Or at least he gave the short version: They were fighting the communists in the street. They were an unorganized rabble. Hitler replaced them with a more efficient organization, the SS.

Then on a lighter note, they played “Clifton in the Rain” (embellished with some very nice guitar work by Al and Dave), which ended with “A Small Fruit Song.”

Al said he was feeling daring, doing songs he never does. And the next one was a Bruce Springsteen song. Or so he said. It was “Modern Times.” And it was executed flawlessly.

Next up was “Soho (Needless to Say),” and he didn’t even forget any of the words. And how ‘bout those jammin’ guitars. When it was over, Al said he was going to steal that solo from Dave.

And then a bit of noodling on the guitar that turned into “California Dreaming.” Only a few bars, of course. Al said he thought he was making something up. It eventually turned into “Year of the Cat,” which segued into “In the Halls of the Mountain King,” which turned back to “California Dreaming,” and ended with the line “California dreaming... in the year of the cat.”

And Al and Dave left the stage. Of course, the audience wanted more, and Al said he’d drive everyone off by playing a song no one likes but him. One that takes place in 1937. In Hell. Where the victims of Stalin’s purges were sitting around waiting for him. And everyone’s happy about it. Which must be why “Joe the Georgian” is such a happy song. Which is what Al sang, while Dave engaged in all manner of tomfoolery, but never missing a beat, even when he was playing with his guitar behind his head. There was an audience ‘clap along’ with Dave’s solo, and Joe’s term of punishment was extended from “the next few million yeas” to “the next few trillion years.” And then it was over.

As always, Al stayed around after the show to sign whatever people wanted signed, as did Dave.

And, as always, Al and Dave put on a great show.

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Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Courville's Recap

9 Station Drive, Charlie A'Court and dinner for ten bucks. With two dollar draft. Can't beat that. Too bad more people didn't take advantage of the deal. There's no way anyone made any money off this deal, but it sure was a good show.

Actually, it wasn't quite the 9 Station Drive that I've seen so many times before. It was 9 Station Drive's acoustic follies. We had Eric Currie with his guitar and vocals, and the drummer with the harmonica (whose name I don't know). The rest of the band didn't make it. They did an acoustic set that was much heavier on their original material than most times I've seem them. I quite enjoyed the show, although Mr. Currie seemed to have the worst luck I've ever seen with guitar strings. After the first one broke, he switched guitars. And when the D string on the second guitar broke, the replacement broke when he was restringing it. I think that was his last D string and he had to make do with a tightly-wound E. But he made it work just fine.

And then there was Charlie A'Court, a blues man from Nova Scotia. I had no idea that anyone in Canada even got the blues, much less sang them, but Mr. A'Court did a fine job. He combined some pretty fancy guitar work with an unusually powerful voice and an extraordinary intensity of emotion. Pretty good stuff. I bought the CD. You can read more about the show here.

Courville's seems to be pretty good at picking their bands, but not so good at getting the word out. So I'll give them a hand. Here are some upcoming shows:

September 21: Chip Taylor and Carrie Rodriguez. That would be the Chip Taylor who wrote "Wild Thing." You can read what NPR had to say about them here. I can't find an official website, but this one and this one and this one look sort of close.

October 13: Hayes Carll. I would say that I can't say enough good things about him, but I think that I have. Anything further would be unseemly gushing. Just go see him.

Sometime thereafter: Fred Eaglesmith. Another one that I haven't heard of who looks pretty promising. You can visit his website here.

Also sometime thereafter: Texas Music Legend Billy Joe Shaver.

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Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Wednesday at Courville's

9 Station Drive will be opening for Charlie A'Court at Courville's Wednesday night. Cover is $10, which includes dinner, such as it is.

I know what you're thinking: Who the h - e - double hockey sticks is Charlie A' Court? Well, I've never heard of him either, but his website says he's good.

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Forgive me, New Orleans

Through it all, the words from the Simpson's episode "A Streetcar Named Marge" have been running through my head:

Long before the SuperDome,
Where the Saints of football play,
Lived a city that the damned called home,
Hear their hellish roundelay...

New Orleeeans...
Home of pirates, drunks, and whores!
New Orleeeans...
Tacky, overpriced, souvenir stores!
If you want to go to Hell, you should make that trip
to the Sodom and Gomorrah on the Mississipp'!

New Orleeeans...
Stinking, rotten, vomiting, vile!
New Orleaaans...
Putrid, brackish, maggoty, foul!
New Orleeeans...
Crummy, lousy, rancid, and rank!

New Orleeeans!

I understand that The Simpsons caught a lot of flack for that.

I can't really argue with any of this, and, although I've shared the sentiment while walking through the Quarter during Mardi Gras, I love it just the same.

I really do. I can't think of any place I'd rather live than the Quarter.

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Monday, September 05, 2005

Decadence Day

If it's the Labor Day weekend, that means it's time for everyone's favorite annual gayfest, the Decadence Day Parade in New Orleans. Not quite the hundred thousand plus turnout that they normally get, but despite everything, a few stalwarts turned out:

I'm not a fan of gay parades (or any of that gay stuff, for that matter), but in this case I'll make an exception. To all those folks in the Quarter who refuse to pack it in when things get a little hard, who refuse to be beaten down by adversity, who persevere against all odds to maintian a state of normalcy, my hat's off to you.

Or it would be if I had a hat.

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Not another Katrina post....

This is not another Katrina post. It's just an update of My One and Only Katrina Post.

While those areas of New Orleans under government control like the Superdome quickly deteriorated into hellholes and civilization ceased to exist in large parts of the city, the folks in the Quarter seem to have kept their heads in a way that the rest of the city hasn't. (Coming through the storm and it's aftermath relatively unscathed no doubt goes a long way towards head-keeping, even in the absence of police 'protection,' running water, electricity, transportation, and other niceties of modern life.)

But this is only an update of my One and Only Katrina Post, and that post dealt primarily with Johnny White's Sports Bar, which stayed open throughout the hurricane and provided Quarter residents a place to go after the storm had passed and much of the city degenerated into chaos.

It seems that some found my admiration of the never-say-die spirit of Johnny White's somehow misplaced. "What sort of people would be 'living it up' at a bar at a time like that?" "Why weren't they out helping their fellow man?" And so forth.

I never did figure out what folks stranded in the French Quarter were supposed to do to help folks in other parts of the city. I thought their unflappabble, business-as-usual attitude was exactly what the situation called for. It's the sort of thing that maintains civilization in the face of adversity.

Anyway, here's the latest news from Johnny White's:

Johnny White's is famous for never closing, even during a hurricane. The doors don't even have locks.

Since the storm, it has become more than a bar. Along with the warm beer and shots, the bartenders passed out scrounged military Meals Ready to Eat and bottled water to the people who drive the mule carts, bus the tables and hawk the T-shirts that keep the Quarter's economy humming.

"It's our community center," said Marcie Ramsey, 33, whom Katrina promoted from graveyard shift bartender to acting manager.

For some, the bar has also become a hospital.

Tryphonas, who restores buildings in the Quarter, left the neighborhood briefly Saturday. Someone hit him in the head with a 2-by-4 and stole his last $5.

When Tryphonas showed up at Johnny White's with his left ear split in two, Joseph Bellomy - a customer pressed into service as a bartender - put a wooden spoon between Tryphonas' teeth and used a needle and thread to sew it up. Military medics who later looked at Bellomy's handiwork decided to simply bandage the ear.

"That's my savior," Tryphonas said, raising his beer in salute to the former Air Force medical assistant.

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