Sunday January 23, 2005



Today was another hard-workin' day. And being out 'til 3 a.m. in the chaos of a Drive-By Truckers show isn't exactly the best prequel to being constructive.

In the morning, I edited the 500 or show shots from last night before heading out to Nuci's for Tom and I to record some more. It was absolutely fa-reezing in there. Between that and the state of tiredness, I wasn't at my best. Tom came in starting at noon to warm up for 2-hours to a click track. That's dedication, my friend! When I got there at 2, he was ready to go. In the course of the next 4 hours, we managed to get 9 strong pre-production drum tracks. We knocked out "Creepy Jackalope Eye," "Colors In Black & White," "Everyday," "Wide Bicycle", "I Know Too Much," "Phony," "Towel Cape Song," "Until The Road Ends" and "Taking Its Toll." Half of 'em aren't even in the running for the album. But it'll be nice to have our versions of 'em anyway. I gotta say. Tom's playing has improved about 200% in (I'm not exaggerating) the last month. His hits are more consistent, his rolls are smoother and his timing is much tighter. Other drummers better watch out. If he keeps it up, he'll be hard to touch around here. I'm proud of him. You just wait and see. We're gonna make a heck of a record together.

...and yes, we're totally scrapping last week's recordings. They just don't stand up! We'll consider this the beginning.

By 6 p.m., I was worn out totally. But it was nice 'cause I know I've gotten a lot done in the last 24 hours. I did get a brief energy spurt when I happened to be glancing through a copy of Spin at Nuci's and saw not one but two of my shots in it. That was pretty cool. So that's another one to be crossed off the list. They used a pic of The Cure and one of my Loretta Lynn pics for their top 40 of '04 feature. So my pic was at #10. Yessireee!

Now home - and rest.





Saturday January 22, 2005

The Drive-By Truckers relax and have a drink before playing yet another sold out show.

During the day, I did more work on our tracks from last week. I remixed them all, did backups, etc. I've gotta tell you, though. I'm really not feeling them. They're as good as any demos I've done in the past but that's just not good enough. And I don't want to hear that crap about me being a perfectionist. That has nothing to do with it. It's just I know what we can do and by God, we're gonna capture it.

Tom came over in the late afternoon and we discussed some more things. Then we alternated CD's to see what worked for both of us from other artists. That's actually a pretty important step as it sets down the basis for the record. Too bad Frank's not been around. He just hasn't been in touch and I've given up trying to chase him down unless his presence is absolutely required. Sometimes he makes it seem like the band is taking away time from things he prefers. At any rate, it's clear that the band isn't #1 or #2 on his list of priorities.

No worries, Tom and I will take up the slack.

Amanda and I went for a dinner gorge at CiCi's Pizza.'s certainly not the best but the price is right (at $3.99 a person). It served its purpose I guess. On the way out, we decided to swing by the pet store and we didn't wind up leaving without adding a new member to our family.

They had a few teeny-tiny hermit crabs and we've been considering getting a companion for our Ecuadorian since Wuggle died. When we saw this little E, Amanda couldn't resist. The thing is, Pinchy's 3 or 4 times his size so we have to isolate the new guy for a while. We want him to be a friend to Pinchy - not a snack.

Anyway - the new crab in town is Citizen Snips (or Snippy, or The Snipster or Snips). He seems healthy and well-adjusted. Let's hope he likes his new home.

Later still, Tom and I decided to go out and see the closing gig of the Drive-By Truckers 3-night stand at the 40 Watt. Tonight, I didn't hide. I made my presence known. Therefore, their manager Scott hooked us both up with VIP passes and everything else we needed. I introduced Tom to Jason and Patterson. Luckily, their TM Patrick let us do the trade shots pre-show.

Let me tell you, the energy they lacked on Thursday, they made up for tonight. They opened with "Where The Devil Don't Stay" and followed in quick succession with the likes of "Sink Hole," "Decoration Day," "Marry Me," "My Sweet Annette," "Sounds Better In The Song," "Hell No, Ain't Happy," "Lookout Mountain" and a slew of other stompers. This was a special show. The band's 2 first CD's are being re-released next Tuesday so they decided to use 2 of these 3 nights to "focus" on those CD's. Last night, they focused on their debut Gangstabilly. Tonight, it was time for Pizza Deliverance. While it was tough to beat seeing something so special (as well as original members Rob Malone, John Neff and a couple of others), I personally would've rather just heard the best from all of their records. Still, this was pretty cool. "Bulldozers & Dirt," "Nine Bullets," "Too Much Sex (Too Little Jesus)", "Uncle Frank," "Zoloft" and "Love Like This" are all from that album. Plus, one of my all time favorite DBT songs, "The Company I Keep," which I've now heard 'em do exactly twice in all the times I've seen 'em.

I got all kinds of interesting angles and cool shots since they let me stand on stage with 'em and shoot (or wherever I wanted for that matter).

Add to that the fact that they raffled off one of Patterson's SG's and got PBR to donate a bunch of money to my home away from home, Nuci's and this was just a killer night all the way 'round.

Plus - Patterson, Jason, Jenn and Scott always make me feel like family. It's just an added bonus that they happen to be the best rock band around right now.

Since they played til almost 3 ("Shut Up And Get On The Plane" and "Let There Be Rock" were the smokin' closers), Tom and I didn't stick around for the aftershow. But it was still another great night with the Truckers. I probably won't be lucky enough to catch 'em again 'til summer but if you're lucky enough in the meantime, then GO!





Friday January 21, 2005




Today was iffy at best. I felt burned out, exhausted and had a little pain return. It's probably just exhaustion, though (and as always, I'm used to and can handle that). I edited pics and uploaded them - you know, what I do most days. There was nothing special. I did some more work on the band tracks that we're working on for pre-production demos. I'm seriously considering scrapping them all. Tom and I are going back in on Sunday. I'll make a decision by then. As I've said repeatedly, if we're not going better than anything else, I'm not interested in going at all. The Critical Darlings will be the best or it won't be.

We start recording in a few weeks so it's really crunch time now.




Thursday January 20, 2005

Drive-By Truckers come home...



Say what you want. I don't care. Paul Stanley rocks. Sure, it may be purely mercenary but for sheer entertainment value you can't beat him as a front man. He's certainly the most consistent front man in rock. He can still do what he could do 30 years ago. Plus, he sings and plays even better. How many other acts can you name that are still together, still relatively successful, sounding better than in their heyday and still putting on a heck of a show every night after more than 30 years? Precious few I bet but KISS is one of 'em. I hope I get many more chances to see and photograph them.

...and let's just forget what's happening in D.C. today, okay? Cool? Good.

Oh - we got the Honestly opening gig that I've been working on. If we pull it together and do it right, this could (and should) be our most important show since Zoso back in October. If you haven't heard of 'em, click this link and see what they've been up to while you were sleeping. They're not necessarily my thing but they're good at their thing and I'm honored to be sharing a bill with 'em. So - March 10 at Tasty World in Athens. Be there if you can.

In the evening the band rehearsed. I was positively dragging. I'm just burned out already from the last couple of days and not used to being my usual tired self (after getting plenty of rest while I was knocked out of commission). We got through it. We did it more or less like a set and jumbled up some things in interesting ways just to see if we could. (We've got to try and keep it fresh for our regulars, you know?) Everything worked. But between Tom's and my fatigue the rehearsal was only one-half a step better than the disappointing show last week. Of course, THIS was just practice so it's okay. We've still got a few weeks to shape up before performing again. Of course, we start recording on Feb. 11 and we're not really in shape for that yet either.

After rehearsal, I dragged myself to see the opening night of the Drive-By Truckers 3-night stand and homecoming at the 40 Watt. It was actually the slowest starting show I've ever seen from them even it was pretty tight right off the bat. They opened with "Putting People On The Moon" which I couldn't help but think was not an accident given todays festivities in D.C. 'Twas a good choice. Mary Katherine was there and we hung out for a while...'til she wound up pre-occupied with Centromatic's bass player. I also spoke to Jenn Bryant and had a relatively long talk with Clay Leverett. Maybe we'll get to open for one of his bands one of these days soon. I think we could fit in with at least 2 of 'em. I only made it through about 45 minutes of the show. It was just starting to kick in when I ran down the rest of the way. Before I left I heard "Carl Perkins' Cadillac" and "Goddamned Lonely Love" which alternated in my head for the rest of the night. I also remember "Lookout Mountain," "The Buford Stick," "Cottonseed," "Birmingham," "Ronnie & Neil" and "The Day John Henry Died." I hated leaving just as it was really getting good but they didn't even START til 12:15. I'm going to try to catch 'em at least once more before they end the tour on Saturday night. After all, they're taking their first extended break in 5 years after this weekend. My guess is that Saturday's show will be a monster. If I'm up to it, you'll hear about it here on Sunday.



Wednesday January 19, 2005

Sun Domingo explores DT's Downunder.



Geez, I'm getting behind again and I haven't even really done anything. I need to get clearance to shoot several shows this week but between one thing and the other, I keep pushing it back. I guess if I can't get in, I'll have no one else to blame.

I've been too wrapped up in trying to work on those pre-production demos and get shows for the band. If you look at our SHOWS page, you'll see we're starting to add them again.

Today was busy. Frank came over, we did the whole lunch thing and then I had him track his pre-production bass lines for several hours. It was typically boring and mind numbing. Let's just hope the end results are exciting. I also did a few instrumental mixes. I know I did them for "Phony," "Until The Road Ends" and "Haven't Got A Clue." I'll probably remix them before they're heard.

After finishing up with Frank in the evening, I headed over to DT's Downunder where our friends in Sun Domingo were playing. I couldn't stay for the show but I did an impromptu portrait shoot for 'em. Yep, that's one of the shots to your left. I thought I did a good job capturing them there in almost no light and with no flash. I'm still a-learning. Before I was finished, Tom got there. He hung out for a few while I finished shooting.

Then Tom and I headed on over to rock trivia. This is the first time that the whole Critical Darlings lineup has been there together. In addition to our usual crew of Sarah Lee, Mary Kat, Molly, and Jonathan (in a Pooh and Tigger tie, no less), I got to see my old friend Maggie Anderson. She, Sarah and I all worked in the Flagpole office together for a brief, shining moment.

Speaking of the 'Pole. Ballard Lesemann, the old host of trivia was there playing against us. Our whole team loves him. Unfortunately, he broke the news to us that he's moving back to his home area of Charleston, SC to run their little weekly entertainment publication. It's good for him but man, we'll miss him. It's surely the passing of an era. As punishment for him leaving, we decided we must beat him in trivia.

We never got to play him before as he was always the host. Tonight we did and we were victorious. I was actually a little surprised. Especially since we won by a healthy 18-point margin. (Yep - just like I said ages ago, with all 3 of us on the team, it'll be really hard to beat us.)

For the record, I flubbed big on at least 2 questions and cost the team getting at least partial credit. Of course, I also got the questions that no one else had a clue about.

My moment in the sun was this question:

What Georgia born singer-songwriter wrote Deep Purple's first hit "Hush" and Lynn Anderson's "Rose Garden."? He's a member of the Georgia Music Hall Of Fame.

The answer? Joe South. I photo'd the Hall Of Fame inductions in '03 and he performed. Ha!

My favorite question was this one and it was the finale.

It's a 6-parter.

Part 1: Who co-wrote 1984's "Do They Know It's Christmas" with Bob Geldof?

Part 2: Who sang the first line?

Part 3: Who's the only person to appear on both the 1984 and 2004 version of the song?

Part 4: What line did he sing on both recordings?

Part 5 & 6: Who were the only 2 Americans on the recording?



Here are the answers...we got the first 4 parts right but blew it figuring out the Americans.

Part 1: Midge Ure
Part 2: Paul Young
Part 3: Bono
Part 4: "Tonight, thank God it's them instead of you."
Part 5 : Shalamar
Part 6: Kool & The Gang

So there...

And kudos to Nick Bielli for hosting. The Judas Priest fixation was a little much (although I did get Rocka Rolla right) but all in all, it was good fun.

See you next time...



Tuesday January 18, 2005



Today was a grunt work day. First, I spent several hours clearing 300 or so emails out of my inbox. Then, I had to lay more groundwork to set up future shows. It never ceases to amaze me how long that takes to do it right. Especially since I'm really trying to move us up the ladder with short cuts.

Then I did some guitar tracking with the live drums that we recorded this Sunday (for pre-production demos only). I hate not being able to control all the sound. That's what happens when you only have 3 mics, though. It sucks. I know that there will be people that prefer this raw sound to my usual over production but it just drives me crazy. I'll be sure to post some of 'em here so you can check 'em out. I'm going for a live sound and these should sound pretty much exactly like we do. Since I've never seen us live and some of you have, I'll let you be the final arbiter on whether I've achieved that or not. Today I worked on "Phony" and a bit of "Until The Road Ends." First I'm hitting the ones that don't have decent pre-production demos and then I'm going for the ones that have different arrangements now ("I'll Be Fine," "Taking Its Toll").

By the end of the date, some of the work had paid off. I have us a primo Saturday night in Atlanta gig on March 19 back at Peachtree Tavern. I worked so hard to get my other bands weekend Atlanta shows and never could. For this band, the doors are coming down...

In the evening, Amanda started working me into my new health regimine. Let's see if we can stick to this one. Then maybe I'll be "ripped like Jesus."




Monday January 17, 2005



Today's MLK day so Amanda was off work. That meant a fairly non-hectic day as I decided to do the same. After a slow-moving morning, we went to see the movie Racing Stripes. After all, Amanda's an animal geek like I'm a music geek. Plus, she basically grew up on horseback. How could I keep her away from a movie about an abandoned zebra who wants to be a racehorse? The movie was so cute and cuddly that my heart is nearly swollen shut. I enjoyed it nonetheless. I still want to check out The Life Aquatic... and Meet The Fockers but I'm sure the time won't present itself for the forseeable future. Now that I'm back on my feet, I've got to really make up for lost time.


See our painful return to the stage and last week's other non-notable events by clicking here...