Friday, April 21, 2006

Collective Soul at Cactus Canyon

Last night's entertainment was Collective Soul at Cactus Canyon. I've never listened to much of their stuff What what I have heard I liked reasonably well, but their only song that really made an impression on me was "In a Moment" from their first album. I don't know why, but I was under the impression that it was one of their biggest hits and I was looking forward to hearing it. It appears I was mistaken, though. It seems that "Shine" is the only song from that album that's captured any significant attention.

The music that they did play--which did not include "In a Moment"--they played well. They had a bit harder sound than I expected, and when they played the intro to "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" and bits of other AC/DC songs between their encore songs, it didn't sound a bit out of place. They could be a pretty good AC/DC tribute band if they set their minds to it. But Ed Roland would have to quit the spinning-the-mike-stand thing that he does. It's really not a suitable hard rockin' "bad boy" sort of thing to do. It's more the sort of thing I'd expect from a band like Reo Speedwagon.

Unlike the crowd at The Little River Band's show last month, the crowd for Collective Soul was a real crowd, and an enthusiastic one at that. Lots of arm waving swaying during the arm waving swaying type songs, and lots of the "hook 'em horns" type rock 'n roll devil hand signs during the harder stuff.

While almost everyone there seemed to be having a fine time, the type of music they play wears on me, and I'd found myself looking at my watch more than a few times before it was over. But again, I was distinctly in the minority. I'm really more the type for the folksy singer-songwriters who as often as not play backed only by their own guitars (which are usually acoustic). The more rockin' stuff tends to have too much of the instrumentation overpowering the vocals for my tastes. ("Too many notes, my dear Mozart") It works for a while, and it works longer the better the songs are, but sooner or later, I end up tuning it out. If you play that sort of music and you don't have a catalog like AC/DC's, you're just not going to hold my interest. I really perked up when they started into "Dirty Deeds." They really should consider that tribute band thing.

But that's just me. It really was a very good show.

The sound wasn't as good as at the Styx show, but it wasn't bad either. Plenty loud enough, but lacking in midrange definition, I thought. Or something. I don't really know how to describe it. Sort of like Potter Stewart's comments on obscenity.

While the sound was just OK, the lighting was more sophisticated than anything I've seen in anywhere Beaumont or anywhere in a venue of this size. They took full advantage of the smoky atmosphere (perhaps supplemented with a fog machine, although I didn't see one running) and made excellent use of color, lighting not only the band, but also the background and the air. They also used hangings of some sort of reflective material. While it could have been some sort of reflective fabric, I'm guessing lightly crumpled and then reflattened strips of 18" Reynolds Wrap Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil. Whatever it was, it worked very well when lit with different colors from opposite sides. Their visual presentation was as good as anything I've seen.

Finally, a tip of the hat to Brent Coon, whose band Image 6 opened for Collective Soul, and whose Coondog Productions has had a hand in bringing to town most of the bigger name acts that I've seen in the past few years.

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Monday, April 17, 2006

It's Such a Good Feeling

It's such a good feeling to know you're alive.
It's such a happy feeling: You're growing inside.
And when you wake up ready to say,
"I think I'll make a snappy new day."
It's such a good feeling, a very good feeling,
The feeling you know that we're friends.

Hi, neighbors!

As some of you may have surmised from my previous posts, I gave up alcohol for Lent. Cold turkey, not to mention Wild Turkey and Cold Duck. Actually, if the truth be told, it was a little longer than just for Lent. I swore off Demon Rum shortly after the law firm Christmas party, a party of which I have no memory--just a vague feeling of unease. So far, no one has seen fit to clue me in to what might be behind that feeling, if there was ever anything to begin with.

Anyway, the promise that I made to myself was that I'd give up booze completely for Lent (including even the Sundays that by some reckonings aren't included in Lent), but I wasn't actually going to wait for Lent to start. From December 23rd through April 15th, not a drop.

I found that going to see bands wasn't quite so much fun as I'd thought, but other than that, no difference. Still, I stuck with it 'till the end, because I also promised myself that if I cheated even a little, I'd start over from the beginning.

Lent ended at the stroke of midnight last Saturday. I'd had a considerably long time to think about what I was going to have to break my fast, but what I settled on was really a last minute choice:

Kissui Miyanoyuki (Classic)
Type: Junmai-shu ~ Size: 500ml, 1.8L

Excellent of medium body and traditional style sake. Light,smooth & well balanced. Hard and crisp texture with mild aroma. Great with mildly seasoned beef and chicken. Serve at room temperture to warm.

Alcohol : 15-16%

I'm really not sure why. I don't really like sake all that much, but for some reason, it had been calling to me. But it apparently hadn't been calling all that loud, because all I cared to drink was one little sake cup full, which has about a quarter of the alcohol of a shot of Bourbon.

Today I decided to finish the bottle (it's only a half liter, so the alcohol content is less than a bottle of wine). And I think I figured out why I picked sake. Even if it doesn't taste all that great, it's such a happy drink. Like the man said:

It's such a good feeling, a very good feeling,
The feeling you know that we're friends.

With apologies to Mr. Rogers.

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Sunday, April 16, 2006

New on the sidebar.

I've made a couple sidebar buttons for two of my favorite online music resources: Radio Free Texas and Pandora.

Radio Free Texas is, as the name suggests, a radio station that plays Texas music. Thre's a whole lot more good stuff out there than just Willie and Waylon and the boys.

Pandora asks you for a song or artist that you like, and then plays similar stuff, all the while allowing you to refine the search by telling which of the songs you like or don't like. The "Hayes Carll" station seems to pick up an unusually high percentage of really good stuff (or at least the kind of stuff that I like).

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Thursday, April 13, 2006

Chasin' Cuervo's Gold

That's what "Texas Music Legend" Rusty Wier and his truncated band (Rusty on acoustic band backed with an electric guitar and bass) were doing at Courville's tonight. Two sets of about an hour each of singin', story-tellin', and yee-haws on cue from the audience. Even a ska interlude in the middle of the senior prom "You've Lost that Lovin' Feeling" song story. And a bit over three quarters of a liter of Cuervo Gold between Rusty and his lead guitar player. The man holds his liquor a hell of a lot better than Hank Williams, Jr., but that's another story. A hootin' hollerin' good ol' time was had by all. Even by me, who has remained completely booze-free through the whole Lenten season.

But before Rusty, it was Josh Langston and Jimmy Kaiser. I hadn't seen either of them before, but I expect I'll see them again Friday night at David Kaiser's CD release party at Antone's. They took turns singing, for the most part, and they're both quite good.

In other news, Courville's is now giving a $10 discount if you buy your tickets for future shows at the current show. Since $20 is less than $30, I decided to go ahead and make my reservations for all the upcoming shows. I was surprised to find that Charlie A'Court's May 25 show is already sold out, but I have secured my tickets for Chip Taylor and Carrie Rodriguez on June 7 and Billy Joe Shaver on July 26, as well as upcoming but as yet unscheduled shows by Hayes Carll and Jerry Jeff Walker. I've seen Billy Joe Shaver and Hayes Carll, and I can recommend them both without reservaiton. I haven't seen Chip Taylor and Carrie Rodriguez or Jerry Jeff Walker, but they come pretty highly recommended.

Yes, Jerry Jeff Walker. At Courville's. A place what only seats 100 people. The universe seems somehow out of balance.

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Monday, April 10, 2006

Coming Attractions.

Rusty Wier put on a great show at Antone's last year. He'll be at back in town this coming Thursday at Courville's. They only sell a hundred tickets to these shows, so make your reservations early. $30 per person, gumbo included.

Edited to add: According to Rusty Wier's website, he'll be playing at Aunt Tilly's Island Cafe & Bar, Lake Travis, TX on that day. Aunt Tilly seems to think she's got him that day too (and every other Thursday). This appears to be a last minute addition to Courville's schedule, so maybe his Aunt Tilly's gig got cancelled or something. Stay tuned for further updates.

Edited for update: Rusty Wier's website now says that he'll be at Courville's. Aunt Tilly still hasn't heard the news.

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Thoughts on Global Warming.

After reconsidering my previous musings on global warming, I've come to the conclusion that the situation is hopeless, regardless of the science.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, global temperatures may increase by 1.4 to 5.8 °C between 1990 and 2100. Furthermore, if current trends continue, 100% of the people in the world in 1990 will be dead by the year 2100. Out of the six and a half billion people alive today, no more than a handful--perhaps a few hundred in the whole world--will survive even a 1.4 degree increase in overall temperatures over the next hundred years. Scientists say that regardless of whether the first trend can be slowed or reversed, the second trend cannot be stopped by any means currently known to science.



Saturday, April 01, 2006

Little River Band, Again.

A while back I saw the Little River Band at an outdoor thing on Crockett Street. At the time, the only song I associated with them was "Cool Change," but it turned out that they had a whole lot of songs that I knew that I didn't know were theirs, and I quite enjoyed the show. Consequently, I was quite looking forward to seeing them at Cactus Canyon last Thursday.

ESC4P3, the part-time Journey tribute band that opened for Styx when they played Cactus Canyon opened the show for the Little River Band. I'm not a big Journey fan, but I think ESC4P3 does it about as well as it can be done, and I find their performances entertaining.

Unfortunately, the Little River Band didn't get the same spectacular sound quality that Styx got. It wasn't as bad as the muddy, overdriven mush of the the Leon Russell show, but the sound quality was considerably less than what the band deserved.

Both bands performed well, but they were hampered by the sub-par sound and a crowd that was too small for the room, or a room that was too big for the crowd. Either way, it was insufficiently concentrated to deliver the excitement that makes for a really good live show. All in all, an OK evening, but still a bit of a let down.

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