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Monday, May 30, 2005

Monday Cat Blogging

No more pictures, please.

Nikon D100, 50mm

Start Your iPods

As tradition demands: it's the Monday Morning iPod Random Ten:

  1. Replacements - Seen Your Video
  2. Miles Davis - Bluing
  3. Led Zeppelin - Since I've Been Loving You
  4. Mad Scene - Spilled Oranges
  5. Pavement - Drunks With Guns
  6. Squarepusher - I Wish I Could Talk
  7. Radiohead - High and Dry
  8. Modest Mouse - Blame It On The Tetons
  9. White Stripes - Little People
  10. David Bowie - Lady Stardust

Let the week begin!

Friday, May 27, 2005



    Baby boys are far more likely to have smaller, less developed genitals if their mothers had high levels of chemicals commonly found in cosmetics, detergents, medicines and plastics, a study released today said.

    The higher the levels of the chemical compound phthalates in the mothers during the final months of pregnancy, the less masculine their boys were when examined by pediatricians, said the study's lead author, Shanna Swan, a professor of reproductive epidemiology at the University of Rochester.

Just saying "phthalates" gives even the manliest man a Cindy Brady lisp - or maybe the Daffy Duck version, if he's mad. Dangerous pstuff indeed.

Phthalates thrunk your peniths?

Thursday, May 26, 2005

From the future

Using her hi-tech time-warping device, CarrieBot 2.005 wins American Idol, three days early.

A brief article in the British newspaper, The Independent, published May 22nd, says Carrie Underwood won American Idol. The final, of course, was held on the 24th and the results weren't announced until the 25th.

In Low Regard

We went out to a club called the 6 String Cafe last night see a bluegrass band called Kicking Grass last night with a recently-engaged couple who have hired the band to play at their wedding (just 359 days left!). The band was good - promises to be a fun wedding.

Near the end of their first set, I went to the bathroom. I walk in and there's a man standing in the stall, noisily pissing in the toilet while talking on his cell phone. He says loudly, unconcerned with me, "It seems like you're disregarding me, my feelings, what I'm thinking. You just disregard me." Then he pauses while the other person responds (I assume), still pissing. He stops pissing, flushes, then says "I know you have other things going on, but you disregard me, my feelings, and what I'm thinking." Then he zips and continues his conversation.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Her Master's Voice

Nikon D100, 50mm

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Monster - Search Jobs

A quick search for "programmer" jobs in my area turns up 77 jobs. Of those, 14 are generic recruitement pitches for the US Navy. They aren't advertising for any particular job, just trolling for anyone interested in "Computer Opportunities", "Electronic Opportunities", "Information Technology Opportunities", etc.. I realize they gotta get people, too. But come on... The best part: the location for all of them is Worldwide. Position will require relocating. No mention of the possibility for violent death.


I hate meetings. I hate them the same way I hate waking up early on a Saturday morning. It's a hassle, an insult, an interruption, and there are a thousand different reasons it's the wrong thing to do; but there's always one reason why I have to do it - and I usually end up hating that reason. That's how I feel about meetings. No matter what the goal is, being stuck in a little room with the same five people as usual, listening to the same person as usual drone on and on and on about the same nonsense as usual makes me want to fucking scream.

So, to keep from exploding in a ridiculous ball of misplaced rage, I now spend my meeting time quietly trying to better myself. The last few days, I've been trying to re-learn how to write in cursive. It's probably been 25 years since I was last required to write in cursive, and, while never good, my handwriting today is horrible. I couldn't remember how to make upper-case Fs, Qs or Zs; I tried writing my wife's name, but couldn't figure out how to handle the transition from a "w" to an "n" without drawing each stroke slowly and deliberately, like a 4th grader. Last meeting, I filled up four sheets of notebook paper with "The quick brown fox...", song lyrics and random alliterative sentences. It's horrible. I need remedial handwriting classes.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Start your iPods

This week's Monday morning music mix, in order:

  1. Modest Mouse - Untitled
  2. Uncle Tupleo - Gun
  3. Thelonious Monk - Functional
  4. The Kinks - Big Sky
  5. Led Zeppelin - Black Mountain Side
  6. Portishead - Undenied
  7. The Sea And Cake - The Colony Room
  8. Bob Dylan - Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again
  9. Jimi Hendrix - Little Wing
  10. Jimi Hendrix - Room Full Of Mirrors

A big day for the 60's. (The Kinks snag #11, too)

Monday Cat Blogging

Glamour Shot

Nikon D100, 50mm

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Filmy Lister

Mon frere and associates are doing their Top 200 films list, and I've been invited to contribute. But, there's a problem: I don't think I can come with even 50 notable films off the top of my head. I know I can look at something like the New York Times' Top 1000 films for inspiration, but looking at a ranked list would probably influence my own rankings (ie. I'd be tempted to put films that rate high on their list high on my own list), so that's right out. Or, I could browse through the IMBD, looking for things I've seen before, but that could take years.

So, I'll just list as many as I can. Here are my favorite movies:

  1. Star Wars - George Lucas
  2. Alien - Ridley Scott
  3. The Godfather - Francis Ford Coppola
  4. The Outlaw Josey Wales - Clint Eastwood
  5. Blazing Saddles - Mel Brooks
  6. The Wizard Of Oz - Victor Fleming
  7. The Wall - Pink Floyd, et al
  8. Monty Python and the Holy Grail - Gilliam, Jones
  9. Fight Club - David Fincher
  10. Fellowship of the Ring - Peter Jackson
  11. The Hudsucker Proxy - Joel Coen
  12. Ferris Beullers Day Off - John Hughes
  13. A Clockwork Orange - Stanley Kubrick
  14. Pulp Fiction - Quentin Tarantino
  15. Full Metal Jacket - Stanley Kubrick
  16. Edward Scissorhands - Tim Burton
  17. Blue Velvet - David Lynch
  18. Animal House - John Landis
  19. Close Encounters Of The Third Kind - Steven Spielberg
  20. To Kill a Mockingbird - Robert Mulligan
  21. Streets of Crocodiles - The Brothers Quay
  22. Easy Rider - Dennis Hopper
  23. Goodfellas - Martin Scorsese
  24. The Matrix - Wachowski Brothers
  25. Nightmare Before Christmas - Tim Burton
  26. Reservoir Dogs - Quentin Tarantino
  27. Rushmore - Wes Anderson
  28. Slingblade - Billy Bob Thornton
  29. Heathers - Michael Lehmann
  30. The Straight Story - David Lynch
  31. The Sixth Sense - M. Night Shyamalan
  32. City Of Lost Children - Jean-Pierre Jeunet
  33. Fast Times at Ridgemont High - Amy Heckerling
  34. Leaving Las Vegas - Mike Figgis
  35. Amélie - Jean-Pierre Jeunet

(I reserve the right to modify this list at any time)

Looking at that, I think there are a lot of entries and positions that need justification. But, I'm not going to do it. I'll just say this: I'm into music much much more than I'm into movies.

Who's never made a list ?

Via Rox Populi, a new list to make, Ten Things I Haven't Done

  1. been to Nice
  2. been to the Isles of Greece
  3. sipped champagne on a yacht
  4. moved like Harlow in Monte Carlo
  5. took the hand of a preacher man
  6. made love in the sun (to a preacher man)
  7. been undressed by a king
  8. seen some things that a woman's not supposed to see
  9. been to Paradise
  10. been to me

And if you're smart, you'll never go here.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Party Girl

Nikon D100, 28-80mm

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The Hot New Sounds

Quickie reviews!

  • Fiona Apple - Extraordinary Machine. I agree with the record company that there's no obvious single, but that's not a big deal for me, since I never listen to commercial radio anyway. But, the majority of the songs are solid, and some are damned good. I really wish this was available on an official release (and not just a bootlegged internet leak) - it's definitely worth the $9.99 iTunes would charge and Ms. Apple deserves to eat.
  • Spoon - Gimme Fiction. It's taking me a while to get into this one. I'm not too worried, the last one took a while, too. As usual, most of the tracks sound like sketches of what could be great songs - the drummer gets a lot of time playing by himself, and some songs seem like they could use a bridge or a key change to dress them up a bit. There are a couple that are really easy to like (even if it sometimes seems that the band is trying to sabatoge them with unpleasant guitar squawkings). Oddly, my iPod has refused to play even a single track from the record in the week I've had it.
  • Allman Bros. - Live At The Fillmore, Monster Super Duper Deluxe Edition. I'm instantly transported back to the mid 70's, hanging out with my uncles at my grandparents' house - big party, swimming in the pond, dogs, lots of food, classic rock blasting out into the woods. The 20 minute+ tracks might need to come off the iPod - I can't seem to get into epic jams while working.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Hello, Operator.

Eugene Mirman: "Operator: Did you press 1 to oppose same sex marriages?

Mr. Mirman: Oh, I pressed it, yes.

Operator: Okay, that's great to hear. And are you against same sex marriages?

Mr. Mirman: Well, I want to destroy it, yes.

Operator: Okay. That's great to hear... -

Mr. Mirman: Like the fist of God we will smash them!

Operator: Exactly."

Monday, May 16, 2005

Monday Cat Blogging

Oh boy, there's a kitten in my house. Meet Tricksey:

Nikon D100, 28-80mm

She's still afraid to be in any room alone, and still searching corners and under furniture for her siblings and mom. But, she's the sweetest, most affectionate cat I've ever been around (which isn't a great number since I'm crazy allergic).

Here's hoping the allergy drugs can do the job!

Start Your iPods

Monday morning means making my the list of the first 10 from the iPod...

  1. Death Cab For Cutie - I Was a Kaleidescope. Me likee Death Cab.
  2. Robyn Hitchcock - Glass Hotel. This one is probably my all-time favorite R.H. song, from my all-time favorite R.H. album, Eye. Can it get any better ?
  3. Van Morrison - Come Running. On the cover of Moondance, Van looks just like my uncle Billy.
  4. Radiohead - Filter Happier.
  5. 3Ds - Man On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown. This band does a nice simulation of mid-80's noise-pop. Reminds me of the Swilrlies or any number of Sub Pop bands.
  6. Cream - Sunshine of Your Love. I can't hear this song without thinking of the sheet music - so many hours spent trying to learn it.
  7. Cassandra Wilson / Jacky Terrasson - If Ever I Would Leave You. Very nice. Ahh...
  8. Smaller Animals - Eastwood. I listen to myself.
  9. British Sea Power - Carrion. Meh.
  10. Flaming Lips - Approaching Pavnois Mons By Balloon (Utopia Planitia). Nice little instrumental. Could be the closing theme to a utopian sci-fi movie.

But, there was no Yo La Tengo. WTF ?

Friday, May 13, 2005

Turkey Vulture

Nikon D100, 70-240mm

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

The Second Coming

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.
    Surely some revelation is at hand;
    Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
    The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
    When a vast image out of Spritus Mundi
    Troubles my sight: somewhere in the sands of the desert
    A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
    A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
    Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
    Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
    The darkness drops again; but now I know
    That twenty centuries of stony sleep
    were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

    W.B. Yeats, 1920

Review the review

The reviews of the review are in!

A couple of weeks ago, Something Awful published a hillarious and scathing review of a Mars Volta record. Now they've published the hate mail that review generated. They're almost as funny as the review itself.

The consensus is that anyone who doesn't enjoy an album full of pretentious wanking is probably a pretentious wanker himself. And most of the respondents think it's necessary to play an instrument, be part of a band, and have sold more records than the Mars Volta before you can criticize them - yet it's unnecessary to have those credentials to appreciate them. Fantastic. Even better, as one letter-writer put it, "you cannot possibly be a logical thinker and criticize the Mars Volta as you do."

So many logical fallacies. So little humor.

Monday, May 09, 2005


Defective Yeti invents a new game: type each letter into your browser's address bar and note the first URL that shows up in the auto-complete list.

Here are my URL ABCs:

Start Your iPods

This week, the iPod starts me off with:

  1. Soft Boys - Mr. Kennedy . No matter who else he's playing with, Robyn Hitchcock dominates the sound.
  2. Slint - Nosferatu Man. I guess just to spite me for listing this album as one I MUST hear from start to finish.
  3. Yo La Tengo - Deeper Into Movies. It wouldn't be a list without YLT.
  4. Polvo - Bend or Break.
  5. Muleskinner - Whitehouse Blues. Just put this one on there Friday. It's strange that a band shows up so quickly after being introduced to the iPod.

  6. Pretenders - Talk Of The Town. The first two Pretenders records are one and a half of the best records ever.
  7. Grandaddy - E. Knievel Interlude. The iPod has always avoided playing Grandaddy songs. This 2 minute intrumental will probably be the last one I hear for a month.
  8. Sonic Youth - Silver Rocket.
  9. Rolling Stones - Sweet Black Angle.
  10. Doc Watson - Crawdad Hole.

Hi-fi Challenge

Since I'm too small to be tagged, I'll take the Hi-Fidelity Challenge myself.

Top Five Lyrics that Move Your Heart

  • Pavement - Range Life

      So drunk in the august sun
      And you’re the kind of girl I like
      Because you’re empty and I’m empty
      And you can never quarantine the past
      Did you remember in december
      That I won’t eat you when I’m gone
      And if I go there, I won’t stay there
      Because I’m sitting here too long
      I’ve been sitting here too long
      And I’ve been wasted

  • REM - Don't Go Back To Rockville
      At night I drink myself to sleep and pretend
      I don't care if you're not here with me
      'Cause it's so much easier to handle
      All my problems if I'm too far out to sea

  • Unrest - June
      As you lay dying
      Morphine and ice cream
      Staining your sheets
      Confusing your mind
      and it reminds me
      They still get paid
      when you die.

  • Neil Young - Powderfinger
      Shelter me from the powder and the finger
      Cover me with the thought that pulled the trigger
      Think of me as one you'd never figured
      Would fade away so young
      With so much left undone
      Remember me to my love,
      I know I'll miss her.

  • Spoon - Anything You Want
      If there's anything you want
      Come on back cause it's all still here
      I'll be in the back room drinking my half of the beer
      And if you and me is so right
      Why's it the same thing every night

      It's just a matter of time
      It's almost measurable
      Imagination ain't kind on us tonight

      You're at your best when you got the guns turned a hundred eighty degrees
      And finding out if it adds all up right
      We go through all the same lines and sell out to appease
      But go to sleep in a bed of lies
      I made my own more than once or twice

      And now time is my time
      Time is my own
      And I feel so alive yet feel so alone
      Cause you know you're the one and that that hasn't changed
      Since you were nineteen and still in school waiting on a light
      On the corner by Sound Exchange

Top 5 Instrumentals

  • I agree with Amanda, on this: all of Miles Davis, Kind Of Blue
  • Dave Brubeck - Take Five
  • Stevie Ray Vaughan - Little Wing
  • Robyn Hitchcock, Chinese Water Python
  • Doc Watson - Black Mountian Rag (live)

Top 5 Live Musical Experiences
This is tough. There are so many, it seems wrong to pick just five.

  • Merlefest, 05. Of course.
  • 1991, First Lollapalooza. At the time, it was amazing to see so many people so into "alternative" music - back when the label meant something.
  • 1991, New Year's Eve. Maxwells, Hoboken, NJ. Mudhoney, The Mummys and The Lyres (?). Hanging out at the bar with the guys from Mudhoney and Thurston and Steve from Sonic Youth. We got them to fill up a postcard which we sent to a guy who couldn't make the show with us.
  • Cowboy Junkies, Cat's Cradle ('03?). They somehow managed to make songs that seem distant and melancholy on the records sound warm and personal - and I liked 'em both ways.
  • Nearly any Robyn Hitchcock show.

Top Five Artists You Think More People Should Listen To

  • Spoon
  • Cowboy Junkies
  • Elliot Smith
  • Yo La Tengo
  • Gillian Welch

Top Five Albums You Must Hear From Start to Finish

  • Sonic Youth, Daydream Nation
  • Miles Davis, Kind Of Blue
  • Liz Phair, Exlie In Guyville
  • My Bloody Valentine, Loveless
  • Slint, Spiderland

Top Five Musical Heroes

  • Robert Smith
  • Robyn Hitchcock
  • Ira Kaplan (vocals, guitar - Yo La Tengo)
  • Eric Clapton
  • Stephen Malkmus (vocals, guitar - Pavement)

(oh, and fuck stupid buggy Blogger for making me retype this thing)

Saturday, May 07, 2005


Last 5K I did, I surprised myself by coming in more than a minute faster than I had hoped to, based on my training times up till then. And, my training times since then haven't given me much reason to think I'd gotten too much faster.

Well, I just whacked another 1:54 off that time, on a course where the entire first mile was uphill. I guess I should adjust my expectations.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Nightmare Illustrator

Today instead of comedy, the Comedy Goldmine at Something Awful offers illustrated nightmares:

    Red Queen, a forum member, is a very talented artist. She got to drawing someone's nightmare one night, and decided that she'd like to draw more of them, because I think maybe she's insane. Why someone would willingly think about these things and then give them some sort of semi-physical form is beyond me, but I guess that's beside the point. So Red Queen set off to draw out all sorts of horrific visions for a handful of people, and luckily she didn't break down and claw her own eyes out halfway through, because I got a Goldmine out of her work.


Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Merlefest, day one: Fist City

(note, changed the post times on these so they'd read in chronological order)

Got up early, drove to Wilkesboro, NC. Got to our campsites, set up tents, drank many beers, hopped the shuttle to the campus where the festival is held. Being a Thursday afternoon, the crowd was light - very nice. Smoking was discouraged.

Nikon D100, 75-240mm

First show we saw was a band called the Waybacks, whom I'd never heard of. I don't remember what they sounded like. Then an all-female group called Uncle Earl. They were pretty good, and their bass player would show up in many other bands over the next four days. I got a roast turkey leg. Then came Tim O'Brien, who was really good, but looked like he was uninterested in being there. Turns out that's just the way he looks, as I'd learn from seeing him play with many other bands, too. I'd never heard of him before, either. Here he is.

Nikon D100, 75-240mm

The fiddle and guitar players would show up with Bela Fleck, on day two.

Then, the big show for the day, Loretta Lynn. Her band came out, all in matching tan suits - very 1950's - and did a song or two; then Loretta's twin daughters came out and did two or three unremarkable country-pop songs.

Her daughters:

Nikon D100, 75-240mm

Then Loretta herself came out and started what turned out to be an endless stream of apologies for her voice; she said she was hoarse from allergies and might not be able to deliver the kind of show we deserved, etc.. Between every song, she'd apologize for the last one, and apologize in advance for the next. Kinda got old. On the way back to the camp, the bus driver would wryly note that she's been apologizing for being a little hoarse for the last several years. She is at least 70, so I guess that's not surprising.

Anyway, she did seven or eight very hoarse songs, most of them about fighting with her man, including the amusingly-named "Fist City" and "Soul Miner's Daughter" (of course). We'd have many chuckles over that first one back at the camp. Thanks, porn spam, for spreading a new meaning for "fist" far and wide.

Loretta and band:

Nikon D100, 75-240mm

The full series:

Merlefest, day two: for the birds

There was an exhibit of large birds at Merlefest. I think it was from the NC dept of something-or-other (didn't look at the literature - too interested in the birds).

Here's a barn owl:

Nikon D100, 75-240mm

Here's an african raven:

Nikon D100, 75-240mm

More birds later.

The full series:

Merlefest, day two : Bela!

Woke up early. It was raining, the tent was soaking through. But I decided to stay in the tent and sleep some more, rather than stand out in the rain like a crazy person. Eventually, though, I couldn't sleep any more, thanks to the campers next to us who were all about their Outdoor Voices. So, I went outside and tried to build a fire to warm up next to. Of course all the wood was wet because nobody thought to throw a tarp over it the night before. So, I struggled with damp kindling for a bit before the kindly neighbor came over and dumped a half-gallon of lamp oil on my pile of sticks. That, and a good bit of blowing got it giong.

The people on the other side of us, in their giant Army tent, were already (still?) drunk and having a good old time.

Nikon D100, 75-240mm

Eventually everybody else got up. We made breakfast and when 2:00 rolled around, we slouched back to the festival to sit in the cold light rain to see banjo virtuoso, Bela Fleck.

Nikon D100, 75-240mm

He did a set of his own unique classical/jazz/bluegrass fusion with a couple of nearly-equally-amazing players (on guitar and fiddle). Truly jaw-dropping. The guy has technique to spare. I much preferred this style to the stuff he does with the Flecktones, which always sounded too slick, overprocessed and condensed - almost lite jazz. The three of them sitting out there jamming away live and acoustic was much more interesting, to me.

Nikon D100, 75-240mm

Then, after a bit of snacking and wandering about, we slouched up a huge set of stairs to see Tony Rice, Peter Rowan and Richard Greene at an indoor auditorium. Our Merlefest veteran, Dan, was clever enough to take us to the entrance where there was no line, so we were able to get in to see the show. Many others waited in the rain in vain. Ha ha! I'd never heard of any of these people before, but apparently, they're well-known to people who know bluegrass (hey, wow - a tautology). They did a good set of tunes, some with a more south-western feel than traditional Appalachian bluegrass - which was a nice break. Peter Rowan (vocals) and Richard Greene (fiddle) would show up in many other bands, as would the bass player, Bryn Bright; she and the mandolin player, Sharon Gilchrist, are both in Uncle Earl who we saw the first day. Bluegrass bands are all one big happy family, apparently.

Nikon D100, 75-240mm

And then, The Duhks. They're a young bluegrass / rock / cajun fusion band from Canada. They have a ton of energy, so much that it made us all a bit anxious at times. Nickel Creek does that to me sometimes, too. Slow down, kids ! Still, their fiddle player is truly amazing. She's got a style that sets her apart - maybe it's just a Canadian thing, but she was drawing from a slightly different bag of tricks than most of the other players I saw there. The rest of the band didn't do a lot for me, though.

Nikon D100, 75-240mm

Then, more Bela! He did a quick set with his trio at the "Cabin" stage, which is a little stage just off the main stage so the audience has something to watch while they switch bands on the main stage.

Nikon D100, 75-240mm

Jerry Douglas was up next, but we were beat.

So, we caught the shuttle bus back to the campsite. This is the crowd control guy at the bustop:

Sony P7

And then back to the campsite to eat and sit around the fire, listening to the late night acts on the local radio station.

Merlefest, day three : acoustic boogaloo

Early morning. We wake to a horrible smell. You see, our campsite was on the grounds of the Wilkesboro waste water treatement facility (ie. the large intestine of the town itself); and specifically, it was at the very location where the treated water was expelled through a big pipe into the (Yadkin?) river - that's the big yellow thing at the bottom of the staircase. Our two tents flanked the stairway to the anus of Wilkesboro.

Nikon D100, 75-240mm

Sometimes it got a little stinky. The shirts they sold at the main building all said "Sewerfest '05", with pictures of little outhouses, skunks, etc.. Ha.

But, Bud Light can get you through tough times:

Sony P7

So, back to the festival; and first up, Del McCoury.

Nikon D100, 75-240mm

They shared two microphones (though the bass was mic'd, separately) and took turns walking up to one or the other to do their solos, and harmonies - basically they force a 1940's-style stage technology on themselves. It works well, and it's fun to watch them work the mics, using distance to control their individual volumes within the mix. Most bands had individual mics for each player, or mic'd the instruments directly; a few used the same common-mic approach, but none seemed to get as much use out of it as these guys. Plus, they're really good - lots of energy, great songs, etc.. And while I didn't see all the bands at Merlefest, of the bands I saw, these guys stuck closest to the traditional bluegrass sound and style. Definitely one of my favorites from the whole four days.

Nikon D100, 75-240mm

Then, Ricky Scaggs came out. He was very good, too; played mostly traditional stuff, with a couple of newish things that got some mainstream country radio play (or so I'm told). He can sure pick the hell out of a mandolin. Didn't get any pictures of him.

Then, the Bluegrass Boys. That's a bluegrass supergroup made up of people who all played with Bill Monroe at one time or another.

Nikon D100, 75-240mm

I can't remember all their names, but that's Earl Scruggs second-to-left, breaking a string after walking out and playing for less than 5 seconds, then Sharon Gilchrist on bass (not a Bluegrass Boy, she was just filling in), forget the mandolin guy's name, Peter Rowan, Del McCoury, two guys I don't remember, Richard Greene and then Jim Shumate.

Here's Earl Scruggs and Jim Shumate doing Turkey In The Straw:

Nikon D100, 75-240mm

Then, the Chieftans came out, all fifty of them, and did a set of traditional Irish music. There's not much distance between Irish folk music and bluegrass, and they did their best to highlight that. There were dancers, guest singers (Alison Moorer and Ricky Scaggs each came out for a song), and guest musicians: Jerry Douglas (far left) and Bela Fleck (far right) sat in.

Nikon D100, 75-240mm

Very nice stuff. The guy in the back in the white shirt looks a lot like Paul McCartney. The short guy in the middle made some pretty witty between-song chatter.

Then, back to the campsite, to listen to Sam Bush's show on the radio.

The full series:

Merlefest, day three : for the birds

Stopped by the bird exhibit again.

Black vulture:

Nikon D100, 75-240mm

Red tailed hawk:

Nikon D100, 75-240mm

The full series:

Merlefest, day four : popularization and abandonment

Sunday, sunny Sunday.

We packed up the tents, parked the cars by the exit, then hopped the shuttle to the festival one last time.

First band of the day was Balfa Toujours, a traditional cajun group, at the "Traditional" tent. I wasn't in the mood, so I wandered around and looked at vendors while the rest laid out in the grass, listening. So, no pictures of that.

Then we went over to the "dance" tent to check out BR549. They're a Nashville honky-tonk band - tons of fun. Lot's of talent, good humor and energy. The slide guitar / mini-telecaster / fiddle player was great, the singer was great and the other two guys didn't hold them back (no offense, i'm just not a rhythm-section guy). They played a set of very danceable country songs (even though I don't dance a step, I know when I'm supposed to be dancing). Good time.

Here's the singer:

Nikon D100, 75-240mm

Here's the steel player:

Nikon D100, 75-240mm

Then, back to the main stage to catch a bit of another Chieftans' set. Found this father/daughter (we assume) pair playing a little tune on the way:

Sony P7

Caught the last half of the Chieftans' set. Same basic set as the day before. But this time, Tim O'Brien sang a song, as did Allison Moorer; and Buddy Miller came out for a great version of "Country Blues". Bela Fleck and Jerry Douglas were there, too.

Tim O'Brien with the Chieftans:

Nikon D100, 75-240mm

Allison Moorer with the Chieftans:

Nikon D100, 75-240mm

Unfortunately, seeing the same band twice means you may get to learn that the witty banter they amused you with last time is as rehearsed as the music, when they tell the same jokes each time. Oh well. They're still fun.

After that, Allison Moorer had a solo show on the Cabin stage:

Nikon D100, 75-240mm

She made the only political remark of the festival (that I heard). It went something like this: "I know there hasn't been a lot of political talk here. And I know some of you are grateful for that. But I'm sorry, but I gotta say... I'm disappointed that George Bush is still president." (smattering of enthusiastic applause and shouting among a backdrop of stunned silence) - and then went into some poltical song. So, she did her set, and then... wait, someone else is there too! Who's that? Why it's her boyfriend, Steve Earl:

Nikon D100, 75-240mm

He did a song with her, then took off. I didn't really get into her stuff, but she's got a nice voice and is easy to look at, so I figure she'll do OK with or without my interest.

Then, the guy I'd been waiting all day to see, Buddy Miller:

Nikon D100, 75-240mm

He did a couple of songs with his chunky electric guitar and then said something like "I feel like I'm in this sacred place here and I'm wrecking it with all this noise." Then he continued on with his set. Great songwriter, awesome singer, very down-to-earth vibe. Jim Lauderdale came out to do "Hole In My Head" (a song the Dixie Chicks covered a few years back). He wore the same ratty baseball hat he was wearing when SKB saw him a few days prior. I got a nice tan, sitting out in the sun all afternoon.

Allison Krauss was up next. And though we really like her, it was getting late, we've already seen her twice, we had a long drive ahead, and they were playing the festival on XM. So we decided we'd try to beat the crowds getting out of there and just listen to her on the radio on the drive home. And, we did. Allison and band were great as always. They did a bunch of new stuff, a bunch of old stuff, and had the longest set of any band at Merlefest (over an hour). They, of course, did that annoying "Man Of Constant Sorrow" song from O Brother, Where Art Thou, because the guitar player, Dan Tyminsky, is the voice of George Clooney on that one. Allison told a lot of cute stories between songs and they did a nice long encore. I wish they weren't the last band of the festival.

After she was done, Doc Watson came out to do the traditional one song tribute to his late son, Merle - to whom Merlefest is dedicted and named after. The song isn't the best - a little corny, IMO, and we heard it the day before. But, it's sincere and you gotta respect the sentiment behind it.

And that was my first Merlefest.

According to the M.C., more than 80,000 people attended, over the four days.

The full series:

Monday, May 02, 2005

Start your iPods

  1. Death Cab For Cutie - Lightness. A nice slow song to start off my crappy hazy Monday AM.
  2. Wilco - Radio Cure. "Cheer up. Honey, I hope you can. There is ... something ... wrong with me." A melancholy little tune.
  3. Gillian Welch - One Monkey. I think this is the only Gillian song I don't like. But, the mood is right.
  4. Robyn Hitchcock & The Egyptians - Lady Waters & The Hooded One.
  5. Swirlies - Cousteau. Sounds like it was recorded on a 4-track in someone's living room - probably was. I really liked this no-fi happy-accident aesthetic 10 years ago, when I was doing similar things. I'm not really excited by bands who try to do it these days, though.

  6. The White Stripes - Little Bird. It's loud and sludgy!
  7. Sonic Youth - Tunic (Song for Karen). Karen Carpenter dies, talks to Janice and Elvis, starts a band in Heaven. Mmm k.
  8. Pixies - The Navajo Know. Meh.
  9. Robert Johnson - Malted Milk. "malted milk, malted milk / keep rushing to my head / and I have a funny funny feeling / and I'm talking all out my head." I'm guessing "malted milk" meant something different in the 1930's.
  10. Yo La Tengo - Flying Lesson. Of course YLT shows up...

All images Copyright 2004-2005, cleek.