Sunday March 12, 2006




Amanda's still looking for the perfect portrait for her acting portfolio dealey so we did some more shots in the afternoon (after talking to Grandma and getting lunch). Then Amanda wanted to go see a movie so she chose (why, God, why?) Date Movie. First off, I've got no problems with those Scary Movie type movies but I knew going in what was going on. She was hopeful. I'm afraid this time, she was wrong. It was godawful. I like Alyson Hannigan (even though I never saw an episode of Buffy) but it didn't matter. Nobody and nothing was likeable in this thing. Stay away - bad, bad, bad. Oh well, I'll look at it as a palette cleaner before the next good movie.

Maybe it was the movie but I started feeling really weird just after sundown. I was crashed on the couch watching The Simpsons when it really hit me. I felt slurry, sleepy and out of it...almost drugged or something. Then it dawned on me, I'm getting sick. My throat's hurting, etc. I barely stayed awake 'til bedtime (gotta try to get back on schedule). Here's hoping some sleep will do the trick 'cause this sucks...



+ X

Saturday March 11, 2006








Since Mike bailed on us for rehearsal this weekend (potential illness, finances, etc.), Frank and I got together. It never ceases to amaze me when we get together to put a song together. He came in, played an idea on my guitar, I plugged it into the recorder, he played guitar while I ad libbed a bass line and we captured the essence of a new poppy song in a single take. And this one, he wrote the entire guitar part. Granted, by the time you hear it, I'll have rearranged it and made it mine but he's the writer. Then I added a sloppy drum machine track. We're going for a Talk Talk ("It's My Life") feel crossed with a Stonesy-dancey groove. I guess we'll see if we pull it off.

After Frank took off, Amanda and I got ready to go to dinner. While she was showering, lyrics came to me. Within the next 15 minutes, I had it done. It looks like it'll be called "If I Could (I Guess I Should)". So what's up with all the "If" songs lately? Have you noticed? I've got "If I Never See You Again", "If You Try To Make Me Choose (You Lose)" and "If I Could (I Guess I Should)". Maybe I should bundle 'em with "If You Want To Go" and "If The Morning Ever Comes", eh? Oh well - again, I'm letting the songs lead me, Daddy-O.

Amanda wanted to go to Applebee's for some reason. Usually, I dread places like that. Tonight was okay.





Friday March 10, 2006

The historic 40 Watt Club gets a little more historic by hosting the first ever official show of the first ever official tour by The Silver Jews.


Ah, I remember how tiresome editing and uploading photos can be. Still, I'm spoiling myself by shooting around town. Before I went out tonight, I played the new Gilmour album for Amanda. I think she liked it more than I did right off the bat. Although she does agree that sometimes the softness is a bit overwhelming. Gilmour can rock too and it would be nice if he did it on occasion. And his wife, who's writing a lot of the lyrics is - while perfectly competent - no Roger Waters. Gilmour probably considers that an assett!

Near the end of the disc, our listening was interrupted by a potential drumming suitor. His name's Mark. I really don't have anything else to say about him yet. We discussed a lot of things. He seems like a good guy. Who knows? I didn't get a particularly strong vibe from him but we'll see I guess. And if that answers your question, yes, Mike (as much as I love his drumming) is still the fill-in guy. I'm determined to find a local musician to be THE guy. Although if Mike moves here, all bets are off.

Then I was off to the 40 Watt. Tonight, David Berman has chosen to end his long non-performance due to stage fright policy. He brought his Silver Jews to the first stop of their first tour. For a band that's been around and well respected (nearly worshipped) in the indie community for the better part of 2 decades, that's a big deal. Of course, the show was sold out. I waited around with my photog / real estate agent friend Daniel Peiken. Apparently, he's a boot collector too. We discussed our formative years getting into live music and followed it all the way through to the moment. In fact, I was able to end it by saying "And now here I am shooting The Silver Jews at the 40 Watt" just as they were walking on. Daniel couldn't resist adding "And you're with a Jew!" with a smile.

I must say that I was much more impressed with them than I thought I'd be. Granted, there wasn't much in the way of performance but Berman's fear, nervousness and getting used to the stage was theatrical enough for me. He seemed particularly wigged out by the stage monitors. Having never performed live, he had no idea how different everything sounds on stage. He was even surprised by his own sweat. Grabbing a towel and looking amazed, he said "I haven't done this since tennis." It was a pretty good first date ever. And to do it in front of a sold-out crowd that could sing-a-long must be nice. Of course, I knew not a single Silver Jews song. Everyone else seemed to. Tables were turned for their final song. Besides the band, I think I was the only one there that knew and could sing along with their sole cover, T.G. Sheppard's "I Loved 'Em Everyone". It was an odd choice. I enjoyed it.

After the show, I waited for the word from Velena and Barrie on whether or not they wanted a trade shot. We wound up not doing it tonight. With Berman's history, I don't think that anyone (me included) wanted to add any more stress to his day.




Thursday March 9, 2006

Jeff Tweedy of Wilco actually manages to impress me at the Classic Center.



'Twas an uploading day today. I also managed to fit in another demo. I had to save it from the zip drive first. I was having an error that wouldn't allow the partially completed track to play or copy. I messed around with for a long time. Eventually, I found a disk check function and ran it. After that, voila! I backed it up, continued work and before it was done, "If I Never See You Again" was done. Well, as done as any of 'em are right now. I'm just doing instrumental demos now. I'll add the vocals later. This is one that I know will go over great live. I'm concerned that Frank may not like it as it is a bit bluesy (I wrote it on the Strat with the Hamer was in for repair). I guess we'll see. I'm happy with it anyway.

Then I had class again. Today we had the former VP of promotion for Warner Brothers records there. His name's Barney Kilpatrick. He had some great anecdotes about working with Prince, R.E.M., Cher and lots of others. Even better was the fact that he was brutally honest about payola, record company ties to the mafia and all kinds of other disturbing but true stuff. I'm really getting the lowdown from going to these classes. And Keith Perissi (the guy who involved me in all of this) actually insisted on giving my CD to him. I guess that's cool, right? It just feels a little awkward sometimes when I mix my "dayjob" with the band. I wonder if it made an impression on him when I had to sign an autograph for one of the classes students. It certainly made an impact on me. Weird, weird, weird.

In the evening, I had another night at the Classic Center's Grand Hall. I can't tell you how nice it is to be able to just drive across town and shoot. Tonight, I had a longer wait. Portastatic opened up the gig. Half of the band is from Superchunk. Honestly, they were good. They weren't great but they were perfectly entertaining. They were a bit defeatist, though. They seemed like they thought they were old and out of place. If they hadn't been so clearly self-conscious, the rock would've rocked more!

Wilco were the headliners tonight and they sold out the place. Now, I've always thought that Wilco was completely overrated. Tonight, I saw 4 songs only but 2 of 'em were jaw-droppingly stunning. I don't know what they were (one was that "I Am Trying To Break Your Heart" song) but what guitarist Nels Cline did to 'em took the songs into the stratosphere. I actually second guessed leaving. The fourth song was by the numbers and that gave me time to remember the possibility of sleep and the fact that I have an even later night tomorrow!




Wednesday March 8, 2006

Ben Harper and his Innocent Criminals rock Athens college-jam crowd.





Hmmmm....Prince is going to be in Atlanta for 2 nights next the "special guest" of his protege Tamar. You think he'll let us photo that? Yeah - I doubt it, too. Plus, both the shows start at midnight and he's just her guitarist. Still, it's Prince! I wanna be there! I'm sure it's not an option, though.

Tonight I went out to the first of two consecutive nights at the Classic Center's Grand Hall (that's a smaller room despite the title). I've gotta say, it was wild going to a show, shooting and being home by 9 pm! I actually had my photos on my computer by the time Ben Harper's show was getting cooking. Another huge benefit? There was actually a photo / security pit. I think it's only the second time in all the shoots I've ever done in Athens that I've had that luxury. The other time was the one time I photo'd at the local coliseum which has a concert about once every 4 years. I've gotta say, I enjoyed the little bit I saw of Ben Harper. I was pleasantly surprised. It was somewhere between Lenny Kravitz and Bob Marley but it worked well.

Still, I was happier to go home and watch My Name Is Earl with Amanda!



Tuesday March 7, 2006

Amanda's tooth garden is going bloomin' crazy lately!




Today I worked up one of my favorite new songs. It was weird because it was kind of country-pop when I wrote it. I fleshed it out today and it became more McCartney-esque as far as the melody and bass line goes. Then I added a bit of new wave for a guitar hook. This one's called "If You Try To Make Me Choose (You Lose)". I don't know what's up with all these long titles and subtitles lately but I don't really want to fight the song and that's what the song said it wanted.

I was supposed to be photographing QUEEN + Paul Rodgers tonight at Gwinnett. I was so excited about it. I never heard back so I emailed their personal publicist and record company. Finally, the word came back that they had dropped the ball totally on this night and would see what could be done. I called the venue and talked to Chris there. He said they never got any list. So yeah - I debated whether or not to go buy tickets. I've wanted to hear those songs my whole life. Eventually, I decided to stay home - especially since I've got shoots for the next 3 consecutive nights. I can't believe I chose to stay home. I also didn't want to interfere with Amanda's class in Atlanta and she would've had to miss it if I'd / we'd gone to QUEEN. Oh well - so there's one unrealized dream anyway. See, I don't get to do everything I want.

To soothe my major, major disappointment, I went out and bought David Gilmour's new album, On An Island. You know I'm a Pink Floyd freak. In fact, I even love all of Roger Waters and David Gilmour's solo albums. This is Dave's first official solo in 22 years (although A Momentary Lapse Of Reason was a solo album in my opinion). I put it on my surround player, lit some candles and went into alpha state for about the next hour. My immediate impressions were mixed. The guitar playing is absolutely phenomenal. He's clearly still improving. The melodies and moods were great (think Wish You Were Here or Obscured By Clouds era Floyd) but sometimes it was all just too pretty and soft. The trick to Floyd in my opinion was Waters hard, edgy songs softened by Gilmour and Wright. Without Waters, this is just soft. Granted, it's a great mood, chilling out album but no matter what any review says, it ain't up there with the Floyd catalog. But honestly, unless Waters and Gilmour work together again (highly unlikely), On An Island is the closest you're going to get to that very particular, wonderful sound. And I recommend it highly if for only that reason.

I also listened to the Drive-By Truckers new album today. I got it in the mail this morning. It comes out in another month or so. I'm sorry to say that I was a bit disappointed in it, too. They've clearly been listening to a lot of Stones lately. You could hear Neil Young and Lynyrd Skynyrd in heavy doses on other albums, but this one's firmly in Stones territory (1971-74 era). It seems like DBT's trying to be a bit more commercial too. That I don't have a problem with. The problem is that the record feels a bit like they were focused on other things. Both Decoration Day and The Dirty South (the last two) are flat-out masterpieces in my opinion. While this one has about 4 songs that still reach the heights of those 2, the other 7 songs just kind of go through the motions. My other problem is with the vocal mix. You have to listen so hard to understand what they're saying that the effort becomes not worth it, which is a shame. Mike Cooley's "Gravity's Gone" is one of the best songs I've heard from an amazing songwriter but the impact is muted in the mix. Of the three singers, Jason Isbell is the most consistent writer here but with only 2 new songs from him, it ain't that hard to be consistent. I've also heard his "new" solo material and it's stunning, in fact it's better than these two perfectly good songs. Maybe that's it, maybe the three songwriters are saving their best stuff for their solo albums. I know they're all working on 'em. That's a shame. For the past 5 years, DBT has released only amazing stuff. This is only really good. Don't get me wrong, it'll still be one of the best albums of '06 (even their version of mediocre is great compared to everyone else) but I doubt it'll make it into my top 2 like the last couple. Still, hearing Patterson dispense his wisdom on album closer "A World Of Hurt" is by itself worth the price of admission. So back to the Stones analogy. This ain't Sticky Fingers or Exile On Main Street but it's a pretty good equivalent to Goats Head Soup.




Monday March 6, 2006



Oh yeah, I forgot to mention yesterday that I finished up the demo to "Like Children (Who've Been Released)". I never could come up with just the right drum part so I added a shaker and let it be done. It's more or less an acoustic song anyway. I don't think it'll ever see the light of the Critical Darlings' day. It may not be appropriate. But I'll have it waiting when the next solo thing comes around. Maybe it'll wind up on a podcast if Frank and I can ever get organized enough to put one together...

Today I'm also working on demos and I'm beginning in earnest recording the new songs for band pitching. I'm starting with the one that was originally called "Dancing In The Park". While watching the GRAMMYs a couple of months ago, it transmogrified into "Happy Here And Now" and that's what it will be. It's a straight up power-pop rocker that'll play to our strengths. The demo leaves a little to be desired, though. That's because of the drum machine. I decided to go a little more elaborate on some of the drum parts since we have Mike playing with us at the moment and he can do whatever I can write. So I put in a little Keith Moon-esque part in this one (and a couple of others I haven't recorded yet). The problem is that while a cheesy drum machine can sound fine on straight parts, busy fills still sound pretty ridiculous. Oh well - they are demos. I cannot wait to add these songs in. I just hope the band likes 'em. No one has heard 'em except me!

I also stumbled across a Zeppeliny riff...or series of riffs. It'll probably wind up being called "Thin Skin & Paper Cuts" (sounds like a bad punk band, dunnit?).

Click here for last week with Widespread Truckers and an early springin' spring...