Truth be told, I haven't really gotten over the breakup of The Civil Wars. I have to eat icecream sometimes when I think about it.
But! I am so pleased "From This Valley" won a Grammy tonight.
I finished up Mockingjay this week. I think I have mini PTSD. Geez, Louise.
One thing I have been thinking is that they need to use some music off Elliott Brood's Days Into Years album for the soundtrack in the next two movies. I love (love) this album.
It was inspired by a trip the band made through a bunch of WWI and WWII battlefields and cemeteries several years ago up the coasts of France and Belgium. They were, in particular, inspired by the Canadian invasion of Juno Beach on 6 June 1944.
We hold onto each other
For who wants to die alone?
We forgot that we were men
And where we came from and where we laid our heads
And the wounds we had
We all knew they'd never mend
And when I'm sure my days are numbered
Find a nice place in the fields
And thank that little voice inside my head
For such good company
Fernando Ortega has a new CD out! :) He is my favorite and my best, so I am excited about this.
If you would like to win a copy of Come Down O Love Divine, sign up here in comments before midnight Pacific Daylight Time on Wednesday, August 17. I will draw one name on Thursday to receive the album.
ps I am happy to ship overseas, so go ahead and sign up if you would like to, even if you live hither or yon. :)
Keith Green died 29 years ago today (when he was 28), which is hard for me to believe, because I remember that plane crash very well. It was the summer before my senior year of high school.
Here is one of my favorites of his. I like it as much now as I did back then.
This is so fun ... They Might Be Giants covering Chumbawamba's "Tubthumping" for the A.V. Club.
I heard someone disparaging this song just last week, but I choose to believe they didn't really mean it. People miss out on cool things when they worry about being cool. :)
Look at how happy the A.V. Club staffers are to join in on the chorus. That's because it's a great song.
New episodes of Phineas and Ferb! Whoo hoo!
You can't see much of the skyline
It looks like more of a grid
It's a viable variation of view
But something I'm sure we'll be glad that we did
It's not like the world that we see from the ground
I guess the main difference is we're looking down
So climb on our aerial area rug
It's certain to keep us aloft
Its aerodynamics are highly advanced
And its weave is so tight and so soft
Though this vista's diverse
Is it better or worse?
If you ask, I'll just give you a shrug
But you can vary your view of the area
From our aerial area rug
It's a brand new perspective
We can see the tops of buildings
Come along with me
You can vary your view of the area
From our aerial area rug
You can vary your view of the area
From our aerial area rug
In each program they play pieces of really beautiful, (mostly) classical music, interspersed with little bits of poetry and prose. The readings are done by different British actors, and are related to a particular theme each time. They programs are available for listening to for seven days after their initial broadcast on the BBC iplayer.
Sadly, and I'm sorry, but I forgot to tell you about the installment on May first, titled Self Improvement, and read by our Matthew Madfadyen, who has a wonderful voice ...
... and also the lovely Anna Maxwell Martin, who also has a wonderful voice, and whom you may remember fondly from both Bleak House and North and South.
An event not-to-be-missed. Matthew reads with an American accent in one bit, from The Great Gatsby. It's interesting to hear. And Anna's careful voice while reading Isaac Watts' "How doth the little busy bee" is so satisfying to listen to.
So I went looking, and found a link here at this French website (thank you, French fans of Matthew Macfadyen, whom I am sure agree with me that D'Artagnan should not be played by a California boy) to download it here as an .mp3. I did it, and it worked just fine. At the right under Premium Download (don't hit that) you will see time counting down. When it stops, a button will appear that says Regular download. Hit that, and download the .mp3 to your computer. And then listen to it with headphones on while you do something else. :) It's lovely.
This morning I just wanted to share my three favorite worship CDs with you. I use "CD" loosely, because I own them mostly as MP3s on my iPod. :)
It just so happens that my top three favorites all involve male vocalists. But of course I also own and enjoy worship music with women singing. :)
This is my absolute favorite. It is just a live recording of worship during the Together for the Gospel Live 2008 pastors' conference. It's not polished, and it's not a choir. It is just unadorned worship, with a piano to keep the tune. But I'm telling you, to hear all those deep male voices sing these wonderful hymns gives me goosebumps every single time. I never get tired of it. And the hymns are some of my favorite, too. I just about want to fall over on the chorus of "Amazing Love." Good stuff, ladies. Good stuff. :) Sovereign Grace Music is my favorite source for hymns that contain good, solid doctrine.
How can it be
That thou, my God, shouldst die for me
This is an oldie-but-goody (circa 2003) that has gotten a whole lot of airplay here over the years. His voice is so pleasing, and none of the songs is over-produced, so it all feels worshipful rather than "tah dah, listen to me sing."
All creatures of our God and King
Lift up your voice and with us sing,
Again, really solid old good hymns, and a clear, nice voice that doesn't detract from the purpose of the singing. Chris is also a great original songwriter, so you might check out his other albums, too, if you've never listened to him before. I find myself with A Mighty Fortress is Our God in my head all day any time I listen to this one. I love this CD. I wish it were longer.
A mighty fortress is our God
A bulwark never failing
Our helper He amid the flood
Of mortal ills prevailing
If there is one thing the three of us here can always agree on, it's that we love Phineas and Ferb.
We also love their music.
We also love singing to their music, lip-synching to their music, and dancing to their music.
Yes. All three of us love this. ("Forty-five seconds of pure genius," Bob says of Backyard Beach.)
In no particular order, here are ten of our very favorite Phineas and Ferb songs. (Except for "Izzy's Got the Frizzies," they, plus sixteen more songs, are all available on the Phineas and Ferb Soundtrack.)
If you are a regular, commenting visitor to suziebeezieland (i.e., I've heard of you before), you are eligible to sign up here for a drawing in which one of you will win The Avett Brothers: Live Volume 3, which was just released on October 5. If you win, the CD will come to your house, and you can look at it, listen to it, and hold it. :)
Live Volume 3 was recorded last year at Bojangles Coliseum in Charlotte, North Carolina, at the band's homecoming concert. (The band is based out of Concord.) Bojangles Coliseum is where Seth and Scott saw their first rock concert when they were younger, so that was fun for them. :)
Signups for the drawing will close this Monday (October 11) at 5 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time.
So sign up here! In comments! Yay! You might win! Whoo hoo!
We are covering three different topics in our Avett Brothers Primer series here in suziebeezieland. :) We have already discussed Correct Identification of Scott and Seth. Here is our second topic:
A Basic Working Knowledge of their Body of Work Thus Far :)
Listening to one Avett Brothers song and trying to decide what their sound is like from that one song is probably like trying to decide what weather is like based on one season, or what your Hallowe'en candy haul is like based on one piece, or what zoos are like based on one monkey.
You could listen to the four songs I've chosen from their first four albums below, for example, and feel pretty certain that you're firmly in bluegrass territory, but then you'll hit Mignonette and go "Oh, hold on. Wait. What was that?"
So here is a little chronological survey of their music so far, and a few thoughts on some of the songs.
I've included bits of some critical reviews so you can see the critics warm up to them as their sound matures -- although I love Paste, because they warmed up to the Avetts right away and have always loved them.
They wrote in 2006:
[The Avett Brothers'] unique sound—a blend of punk- and hard-rock intensity, old-time country, folk and blues, calypso, top-notch songwriting and ragged-but-true harmonies, all delivered with Johnny Cash sincerity and bolstered by an unequivocal work ethic and madman live show—is finally gaining an audience. It seems every time the Avetts play, crowds buzz. Next time they’re in town, the audience doubles, and everyone suddenly knows all the lyrics.
So by the time Rolling Stone got around to naming them their "Artist to Watch" of 2009, the already sizeable fan base (and the entire state of North Carolina) just rolled their eyes and said "well, duh." (Rolling Stone hasn't been on the edge for a long time now, I don't think -- they can't compete with real-time buzz on the Internet, and it's this grass-roots, word-of-mouth enthusiasm on blogs and social networks that have done such a great job of spreading Avett Fever.
Not everybody loves them: Stephen Deusner at Pitchfork, for example, seems pretty comfortably hunkered down in his determination to be critical of the Avett Brothers' cheerfulness, critical of their "messiness," and then (what?) critical of Rick Rubin for polishing them up a bit and making them less messy on I And Love And You.
At least he's consistent.
But when people do like the Avett Brothers, they rave.
When critics or fans start gushing about the Avett Brothers, at some point they praise their honesty. It's a defining characteristic of their songs: they sing about real stuff that has happened to them, and what it made them think and how it made them feel. They don't keep you at arm's length to preserve their own coolness. Take the crushed bewilderment, for instance, in the first stanza of Pretty Girl from Cedar Lane:
I had a moment, when I thought I might be wrong
But Ashley how could it be
I waited on the rooftop, all night long
But you weren't coming for me
And now I'm sitting here like a mixed up little kid
You said you wanted me but you never did
If I had to tell you why I like them so much, I would include in my animated and enthusiastic ten-hour speech that it's this wearing-their-hearts-on-their-sleeves that is appealing, but only because they're intelligent enough not to use cliches when they're talking about these hearts, so it never dissolves into empty, manipulative sentimentality. You know they bounced back and moved onto Pretty-Girl-from-Somewhere-Else.
And they whoop and holler and break banjo strings all over the place, so their sincerity never wanders into the realm of so-earnest-as-to-seem-girly. :)
The Avett Brothers (EP) (January 1, 2000)
This is a six-song, out-of-print EP, and a chance to hear some raw, unadulterated Avett Brothers. They're out-of-tune and there really aren't any production values :) but you can see the bedrock they'll build on later: beautiful harmony and some good instincts about songwriting and storytelling.
I find Let Myself Live somewhat painful to listen to, although I know some hard-core fans who swear it's their favorite, because it's so pure and raw. I myself am okay with less purity but better sound later on in their career. :) Although I don't know ... the more I listen to it, the more it grows on me.
Live at the Double Door Inn (January 1, 2002)
Here is a nice intro to the boys' harmony (although this contains the highly nasal, traditional bluegrass version of harmony, which I can only take a small amount of), banjo playing, and "Pretty Girl from" series of songs.
Country Was (January 1, 2002)
When I tried to get Country Was a couple years ago, it was out of print and unavailable, and I finally found it floating around randomly on the Internet. Once it was available on iTunes I went back and bought it properly :) and I see it's also available on Amazon.
November Blue is my favorite Avett Brothers song (specifically the Country Was version), and probably always will be. I recognize with my head that their later work is better, but my heart leaps around at this song, probably because there is nothing to compete with their beautiful harmony or the jagged edge to their voices. The Avett Brothers have often remarked that their musicianship needs work, but I have never enjoyed anything artistic if it is too polished. I like things kind of rustic, where you can see the mark of the maker. So this song really works for me. :) I've hooked you up with the video of this a few times before.
A Carolina Jubilee (August 19, 2003)
Listen to the traditional banjo work and close harmonies in Pretty Girl from Annapolis, and remember this sound when we get down to Talk on Indolence. Some traditional bluegrass folks got their feathers pretty ruffled when the Avetts won "Duo/Group of the Year" in 2007. But the next year Alison Krauss and Robert Plant won it for "Raising Sand," and that wasn't traditional, either, so I guess the crabby folks needed to just get over it, because the times, they are a changin'.
Mignonette (July 27, 2004)
When you talk to people who have been listening to the Avett Brothers for a long time, they'll usually start talking to you about Mignonette. They'll look off to the distance, somewhere over your shoulder, and get a little misty. Mignonette seems to be where a lot of folks first heard them and got emotionally attached. :)
The usual acoustic instruments are applied here (banjo, git-fiddle, string bass, cello, etc.) but they’re used to their maximum effectiveness beneath unforgettable melodies and a raw, energetic production the best rock records would envy (the amplification of the vocals alone can make your hair stand on end). (Paste Magazine)
"Mignonette," the follow-up to last year's acclaimed "A Carolina Jubilee," takes it name from an English yacht that sank in a storm off the coast of Africa in 1884. Cannibalistic seamen and a too-honest-for-his-own-good captain go along with the story, which has inspired the Avett Brothers to carry the "overall theme of truth" throughout the album. With or without that little bit of background information, listen to "Mignonette" and you'll hear the band's gift for emotionally honest songs that are often humorous and touching at the same time. (Country Standard Time)
Lazy men find an easy way
Easy work for easy pay
I’m not listening; there ain’t no such a thing as that
I could stand right underneath the window of your room
Throwing rocks -- I've done it before
And I would love to find a reason to dazzle you with lies
But I don't have the energy no more
Live, Volume 2 (May 17, 2005)
I Killed Sally's Lover was originally released on A Carolina Jubilee, but I like this live version better. It's a good example of the boys when they're raucous, which is what everyone loves in concert so much. The song seems rooted in old wild-and-wooly country music -- we feel like the protagonist is singing to us from the mid-1800s (except for the mention of a vehicle) -- so the boys get away with what they're actually singing, which is pretty ... wild-and-wooly. :) You're obviously sitting in a saloon surrounded by cowboys and outlaws as you listen.
Four Thieves Gone: The Robinsville Sessions (February 6, 2006)
Four Thieves Gone is sure to please the adventurous music fan looking for something new under the sun -- and don't let those banjos and acoustic guitars fool ya … this is much more than just another pickin' party. This is organic, honest, powerful, and at times, graceful music that is filled with punk growlings and soaring harmonies, and enough really catchy, melody-driven pop tunes to keep you coming back time and time again. (Americana Roots)
You can just imagine what Talk on Indolence did to the people who bought this album after hearing that the Avett Brothers were "a bluegrass band with a lot of banjo." Poor things. :)
And I gave to you my ugly brown coat
You made it pretty when you put it on
The Gleam (EP) (September 19, 2006)
If I could go back
That's the first thing I would do
I swear that I would
Do my best to follow through
Come up with a master plan
A homerun hit, a winning stand
(If It's the Beaches is the song that makes girls who have been tolerating their boyfriends' enthusiastic love of the Avett Brothers decide that they, themselves, love the Avett Brothers.)
Emotionalism (May 15, 2007)
The Avett Brothers don’t create music for the “I’m late to work. I’m gonna grab a Nutragrain bar” crowd. They make music for the few people who still make oatmeal in the morning and prefer open windows to noisy air conditioners. None of those old-fashioned things describe me. But after a few more months with Emotionalism, they might. (Absolutepunk.net)
The Avett Brothers—still unjaded after half a decade in the music business—do their best to combat modern-day hipster detachment and pseudo-coolness with Emotionalism’s simple, poetic story-songs and bittersweet, introspective laments. The album—down to the title itself—is a celebration of unselfconscious passion. (Paste Magazine)
Theoretically it should be a complete mess, but in reality, you’ll be hard pressed to hear something so joyful and unique all year ... (Stylus)
I never get tired of their close harmony. :)
Die Die Die is the song that made me think "The Beatles, but with banjos." :)
The Second Gleam (July 22, 2007)
The Second Gleam is my favorite Avett Brothers album. I didn't discover them until the summer of 2008, so this (and Emotionalism) is where I came in ... this is what I spent the first few months listening to over and over and digesting before I then went back and gobbled up everything they'd ever sung.
The guys leave the band out in this EP and focus on their vocals, and you can hear how much their melodies and harmonies have grown since we listened to Let Myself Live earlier. :)
The Avett Brothers have slowly carved out their own unique place in the music world; not quite folk, not quite country, not quite bluegrass or rock, it is that ability to slither through those labels that gives their music its power. Without being boxed in and mislabeled, the focus can fully rest on the deep introspective lyrics the Brothers craft, and the stories they sing and relate. The Second Gleam is packed with these stories ... (Honest Tune)
I remember crying over you
And I don't mean like a couple of tears and then I'm blue
I’m talkin’ about collapsing and screaming at the moon
Always remember there was nothing worth sharing
Like the love that let us share our name
I and Love and You (September 29, 2009)
This was the Avetts' major record label debut. It came out last fall, and was produced by Rick Rubins. Suddenly, people were all a-flutter. The Avett Brothers were a Starbucks pick-of-the-week, and friends who had ignored you for years when you raved about them came to tell you about this awesome new band they'd found called The Avett Brothers. :) For me, the best review (among many, many raving reviews) about this album is Paste's, who loved them all along.
It’s hard to let go. Of a girlfriend. Of an old hound dog. Of a tattered pair of jeans. And maybe most gut-wrenchingly of all, it’s hard to let go of your favorite heretofore unheralded band. ... This is the plight of the Avett Brothers fan: He must keep a stiff upper lip as his heroes trek off into the great unknown mainstream. ... Having conquered every Saturday night music hall and holler between Asheville and Portland, they have made a record that is not just a stab at the mainstream—it’s a harpoon through its sternum ... The Avetts could’ve made some kind of caterwauling record full of flaming banjoes, hootenannies, and throaty hollers that encapsulates their reputation-making live show. In fact, that would’ve been a ... sensible move as far as introductions go. Howdy, we’re the Avett Brothers. We’re gonna hillbilly-rock you like you’ve never been hillbilly-rocked before. Instead they’ve constructed something beautiful. An album that’s not merely loaded with ballads, it’s almost wall-to-wall epic ballads. Pianos trickle before the storm, strings ball up their fists, swells and waves of sound wash over the Avetts’ sorghum-sweet harmonies. And this is just in the first song, a goose-bump engorging title-track that could by itself inspire a legion of new fans ... Their lyrics are tough yet vulnerable, insightful yet homespun, manly yet emotional. The kind of thing that makes the girls giddy and the boys envious. (Paste Magazine)
Live Volume 3 (October 5, 2010)
Live Volume 3 just came out yesterday, and we will talk about it in our final installment of An Avett Brothers Primer. :) Stay tuned!
However, today their Live, Volume 3 comes out.
And also however, I could not help but notice that prior to my recent concert post, I have not mentioned the Avett Brothers here since March 2009, which shows a great deal of restraint on my part, and gives me some leeway to now over-post on the topic.
(For future reference, you might also note that except for the slightest of tangential mentions on July 17 and June 14 this past summer, I haven't mentioned North and South since June 16 of this year, which means I'm due up. And can you even remember the last time I told someone they had to read Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy? Which, by the way, is being made into a movie, which I don't want to discuss because, to quote my dad, "There is only one Smiley -- Sir Alec," and which makes the fact that the book is out of print in the U.S. even more ludicrous -- the greatest spy novel ever written, out of print in the U.S. while the rest of the world continues to devour it and recognize it for the masterpiece that it is. My point is, you can't remember because I haven't brought it up since July 29 of this summer, and before that it was June 14 of this summer. )
So you see that I do show some self-control, and do not just use all my time here at the helm of suziebeezieland urging you to read, watch, and listen to stuff I like.
So I was just thinking that for those of you who don't yet know if you like the Avett Brothers (you do), you might like a friendly little tutorial/primer series to get you up to full speed.
We will cover three different topics in our Avett Brothers Primer series.
Today's topic is as follows:
Correct Identification of Scott + Seth
Although the Avett brothers' facial hair goes through transition, you should not let that confuse you as to their identities. Today we will learn how to distinguish Scott and Seth from (1) different versions of themselves, from (2) each another and from (3) anyone else who is not them. You will have a chance to put your theoretical knowledge into practice following the lesson.
If you wear glasses, please go put them on right now.
This is Scott Avett:
And this is also Scott Avett:
Scott Avett Version 1:
And Scott Avett Version 2:
Please make sure you can distinguish Scott Avett Version 1 from Scott Avett Version 2 before moving on.
Now here is Seth Avett:
Again, here is Seth:
Also Seth. Are you getting the hang of this?
And yet! Here, also, is Seth:
Again, Seth Version 1:
And Seth Version 2:
Before we move on, you will want to make sure you can distinguish Seth Version 1 from Seth Version 2.
Now here we have Seth Version 1 on the left, and Scott Version 1 on the right.
Now you try one.
Did you get it? That's Scott Version 1 on the left, and Seth Version 1 on the right.
Did you say Scott Version 1 on the left and Seth Version 1 on the right? Because that is correct!
Now here is a Seth Version 1 on the left with a Scott Version 2 on the right.
And here we have a rare combination of Scott Version 1 on the left with Seth Version 2 on the right.
Before we move on, you will want to make sure you can distinguish Scott Version 1 from Seth Versions 1 and 2, and Scott Version 2 from Seth Versions 1 and 2.
Here we have a Scott Version 1.5 (a short-lived transitional version), a Seth Version 1, and Bob. Bob is the bass player.
And here we have Scott Version 1, Seth Version 2, and Bob.
Here we have Bob, Scott Version 1, and Seth Version 2. Bob is neither Scott nor Seth.
Before we go on, you will want to make sure you can distinguish the Avett Brothers from people who are not the Avett Brothers.
Here we have Joe (he's the cellist), Scott Version 1, Seth Version 1, and Bob.
Here are Bob and Joe, who are neither Scott nor Seth:
Before proceeding to the final exam, please make sure that you can distinguish all versions of Scott and Seth from all other humans.
Here is your four-part final exam (plus extra credit question).
1. Please identify the primary vocalist (with version number) in the following video.
2. Please identify the primary vocalist (with version number) in the following video.
3. True or False: Seth Versions 1 and 2 appear in this video. (Hint: Minute 1:07):
4. Which Avett brother says "Bonsoir, Paris" in the following video?
Extra Credit: In this very lovely song, which brother sure did get in lots of trouble?
Congratulations! I trust you did well.
Now that you can confidently identify the Avett Brothers as such, we are free to move on and discuss their music. Hooray!
I just found this video footage online that somebody took of Brandi Carlile at the Nokia last night from down in the pit. She's singing The Story, which was so lovely.
Okay, now you've seen that and been at part of the concert with me last night. :) Hooray!
But for very good quality audio, and some nice video if you'd like to see what Brandi and her band look like, you can listen to the song Dying Day here at her official YouTube channel.
She sang this song last night (it's the one they played unplugged), and Bob and I both loved it so much. We were talking about it today because it stuck with us. I should probably warn you that it will probably stay in your head for awhile, too. No, really, I love this song. Her voice is so lovely.
So watch the Dying Day video if you want to.
I hope you want to. :)
She knows which birds are singing, and names of the trees where they're performing in the morning. (from January Wedding)
I am perfectly and exactly happy right now, for the following five reasons:
2. They were absolutely, incredibly good. It's the best concert I have ever seen, anywhere. Seriously. Scott and Seth get out there on the stage, reminding you for all the world of what they must have been like when they were little boys, thin as rails and bouncing (up and down, across, around -- bouncing everywhere) with energy, and then they have these VOICES and these SONGS with this MUSIC and these LYRICS. And they can DANCE.
You could honestly feel a kind of ripple of astonishment in the theater, even from old fans, over how good they were. Everyone was completely into it, dancing and singing and whispering, "Oh, they're so good. Oh, I can't believe how good they are."
There was a famous guy sitting on my right, who got there when the Avett Brothers had already been playing for about twenty-five minutes.
I don't know who he was. So he's not famous to me.
"How long have they been playing?" he whispered.
"About twenty-five minutes," I whispered.
I also wanted to whisper, "Hey, you're famous, who are you?" but I didn't.
Then later he asked me, "Did they play 'Murder in the City' yet?" and I said "No, not yet," and then a few seconds later they played those beginning guitar chords of "Murder in the City," so I whispered "Well, there you go" to him.
So that was the extent of our conversation. Who was he? If I figure out, I'll let you know.
Then there were some famous people two rows up, with whom people were getting their photos taken after the concert, and I recognized the twenty-something guy in a plaid shirt, but I can't remember where I've seen him. Actors, but from which show?
So I'll try to do some detective work and get back to you about the famous-but-not-famous-to-me people surrounding us.
(This is all because I decided to live my life blissfully free from the crushing responsibility of being a pop-culture elite. If I hadn't done that, I would probably have to know who they are.)
I was so happy for the Avett Brothers, because Nokia Theatre holds just over seven thousand people (it's where the Grammys are held), and the orchestra level was packed out, and everyone adored them. They have worked long and hard for that.
3. They played November Blue, which is my favorite song. I didn't think they'd play it. It was almost five minutes long. I was so happy. I got the hiccups, I was so happy.
They also played Tin Man, Pretty Girl from Cedar Lane, Colorshow, Slight Figure of Speech, Salina, Paranoia in B-Flat Major, Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise, Talk on Indolence, I And Love And You ... I can't remember what else. (Sara, what else? They did Kick Drum Heart, right?)
If you want to see a couple videos from this tour, you can go to the Avett Brothers' Amazon artist page. Then look on the right where it says "videos." Then click on each box and listen/watch. :) (If you go to their website to see videos of this tour, it will send you to the Amazon artist page, too.)
Live, Volume 3, comes out in three (3) days (days). Yay!
4. Brandi Carlile came on first for awhile. She is great! If I were going to be a singer, I would want to have a voice exactly like hers. (Unless I got to be a boy singer, and then I'd be one of the Avett Brothers.)
Her voice is quite astounding ... maybe if Roy Orbison were younger and a girl, he'd sound something like Brandi Carlile. That doesn't quite describe it, but you can hear his influence. And Patsy Cline's influence, too. And Johnny Cash's. Yep.
She has very pretty brown eyes and a neat space between her two front teeth and swirly tattoos, one on each bicep, and she wore a black tank and black jeans and some neat silver necklaces, and Bob and I both loved, loved her music.
We can't figure out why she kind of has a southern accent, because she is from Seattle. I love that.
And I really like a girl who can cover Johnny Cash's Folsom Prison Blues and do right by it. :)
While we were driving to the Nokia before the concert, Bob and I were thinking the name "Brandi Carlile" was familiar, and then both at the same time we said "No, we're thinking of Belinda." So then when Brandi came on and people started shouting song requests, Bob leaned over and whispered "Vacation!" to me, and we both giggled.
But then we shut right up with the lame jokes as soon as she started to sing, because she blew our socks right off. I don't even want to say "The Go-Gos" in the same post. No.
She said that she was a big Avett Brothers fan, and they were like the cool kids, and she was excited to eat at their lunch table. :) She just met them yesterday.
But I have to say, she is one of the cool kids. She and her band did the neatest thing. They played one song (Dying Day, which I am now obsessed with) completely unplugged. No mikes, no nothin'.
We had to lean forward and hold our breath to hear them in that big old venue, but it was so beautiful. We're going to stock up on her music when I get my iPod fixed.
I didn't get a good photo of her on stage with The Twins, but I got an okay one of her on one of the big screens on either side of the stage. Here she is:
5. Okay. Here is the best thing of all. Even better than the Avett Brothers. Are you ready? If you are an older suziebeezieland girl (I don't mean older by age, I mean you've been here for the past five years or so), you are going to like this.
Yesterday our Sara P. sent me a message on Facebook about something. She's never done that before (we've never communicated in that way before, and we communicate very rarely), but in this message, she mentioned that she and her husband were headed to the Avett Brothers concert last night.
"Hey!" I said. "So are we!" I said. So she told me where they'd be sitting, and I told her where we'd be sitting, and we got to the concert and WE MET EACH OTHER.
She and her husband were sitting just a few rows in front of us. I could see the back of Sara's head. Did we plan that? No, we did not!
She came and sat next to me between sets (because thankfully the famous guy who isn't famous to me hadn't shown up, so the seat was empty) and we chatted and it was very, very nice. We've been talking on the Internet for so long, and it was so nice to meet in person. She is dear and I would like to spend time with her. We are going to get together for coffee some time. Hooray! :D
I'm pretty sure my head is going to explode from all this happiness.
ps Okay, I just checked Twitter to see if any celebrities had Tweeted about the Avetts. Then I looked at their pictures. One of the two guys who people were wanting their photo taken with and who was sitting ahead of us is named Brandon Barash. It looks like he's on General Hospital. Sara, he was standing right in front of you while you were waiting to walk. But he's not the actor I recognized, so I'll still have to figure him out. And who was sitting next to me? I do not know.
Hi, ladies. I thought I'd share my official house-cleaning playlist with you, in case it suits. This is a high-energy, cheerful playlist to get you motivated to clean stuff, and it's all available on iTunes. Claire helps me, so I include some stuff especially for her, too.
We listen to regular playlists when we clean, too, but this one is fun if there is a lot to do.
Minor Swing by Django Reinhardt
If I had to guess who gets the most airplay in my house overall, I'd say Django. Gypsy jazz is just such a good living-your-life soundtrack to have on in the background. We listen to Django almost every single day.
It's the Hard Knock Life from the Annie Original Broadway Cast Recording
Of course you have to listen to this while you clean. Pretend Miss Hannigan has just yelled at you that you'll stay up 'til this dump shines like the top of the Chrysler Building!
Jambalaya by Lucinda Williams
I had never heard this song until Catherine Thursby stuck it on her blog playlist. It has become a housecleaning staple around here. Son of a gun, we're gonna have big fun on the bayou. :)
A Cookie as Big as My Head by Lunch Money & Tiny Dinosaurs by Lunch Money
Hungarian Dances No. 5 in G Minor by Johannes Brahms
Very good Swiffering music. When it slows down, do under the furniture. When it speeds up, do the wide open spaces.
Happy Working Song from the Enchanted Soundtrack
Of course you have to have this one. (Come and roll your sleeves up/So that we can pitch in/Cleaning crud up in the kitchen/As we sing along)
The Lonely Goatherd from The Sound of Music Original Movie Soundtrack
Yodeling makes house cleaning much more enjoyable. Trust me. :D
Waterloo by Abba
I still remember the dance I made up to this song when I was about ten. I'm so glad nobody but Claire can see me when I clean house. :D
Long Tall Glasses (I Can Dance) by Leo Sayer
This is the dishwashing song. :)
The Magic Song (Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo) with Mary Martin
I can't quite handle the Verna Felton version of this from the soundtrack, but Mary Martin's cover on Walt Disney Records Archive Collection Volume 1 on iTunes is very enjoyable. It lacks the energy of the original, but is good for doing a chore you hate and need to feel mellow about. I find it good for ironing.
Fisher's Hornpipe with Alison Krauss, Edgar Meyer, Mark O'Connor and Yo-Yo Ma
This is from Appalachian Journey. You can spritz Windex in time to this if you're good.
Waltzing Matilda with Dan Zanes & Debbie Harry
This waltz lends itself to rhythmic chores such as window-washing. Don't let its lilt fool you. A guy is getting arrested for theft in this song. It's edgy.
The Hoppity Song by John Ondrasik
We admittedly don't get much cleaning done when this one comes on. But we do get lots of hopping done.
Dust Bunny by Keith Munslow
This is about a boy who makes a dust bunny into his pet. (And I named him Fred/And I used a shoebox for his bed/"You're pretty weird," my brother said.) It's our vacuuming song. If you listen to the lyrics, you will know why. :)
Gone, Gone, Gone (Done Moved On) by Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
This is our grand finale. :)
For the Beauty of the Earth from the Little Women Movie Soundtrack
And in perhaps the strangest segue ever, this is our cool-down song. :)
On Tuesday we went out to dinner and then to the Hollywood Bowl with some friends, and I was so excited to get out of the house after being cooped up for so long (I took my last dose of antibiotics today and I feel great) that I am worried I just talked the whole time in the car there and back.
Bob assures me I did not, but it felt like I did.
Some kind friends graciously passed along some tickets to us and they were box seats, so that was super cool to be able to see things so clearly and have a chair with a back on it. The concert was played by the LA Philharmonic (the Bowl is their summer venue) and was called Magnificent Mozart.
The sisters who did a piano duet as part of the concert had really good, dramatic hair -- long and black and wavy -- and dramatic, flowing pantsuits -- one in red and one in purple -- and I thought, how fun to do piano duets with your sister for a living and have dramatic hair and dramatic pantsuits.
The music was also dramatic. The duet the sisters played was Mozart's "Concerto for Two Pianos," which Mozart had played with his sister, Maria Anna. He had written the music all down very carefully so that his sister knew exactly what to play, which is good for us today, because usually when Mozart played duets with people, he just sat down and started playing "whatever" (which you can do when you are a prodigy, apparently), and consequently we don't know what a lot of that "whatever" sounded like. I bet it was really good whatever.
The conductor was wonderful! His name was Nicolas McGegan. He seemed to absolutely love his job. He was joyful and you could tell he would be a great dancer.
I am uneducated about music and don't know how to discuss it, but it was all pretty and I liked it a lot. Most of Mozart's music makes me think of somebody getting chased through a field, or running through a field chasing something. Exciting.
I also love the Hollywood Bowl. (If you are unfamiliar with the Hollywood Bowl, it is an amphitheater snuggled into the Hollywood Hills.) The thing above the stage that makes it look like an alien ship is called "the shell." The Hollywood Bowl originally opened in 1922, and has had a few different shells over the years.
The shell that Frank Lloyd Wright built only lasted for 1928 because they didn't fold it up and put it away for the winter like they were supposed to. I bet he was irritated.
The next shell lasted from 1929 until 2003, but apparently the acoustics weren't great.
The new shell was unveiled in 2004, and it's neat because now it has some video screens off to the sides so you can see close-ups of the performers during the show. And people who know about such things say the acoustics are much better. I take their word for it.
If I had been floating in the sky when I took the photo above, you would have seen the Hollywood Hills in the distance behind the stage, and the famous "Hollywood" sign.
The "bowl" refers to the hillside that the theater is in, and it does feel like you are sitting in a bowl of music, surrounded by trees. The air smelled good and the light was soft and the breeze was really calming and gentle (just cool enough for a sweater), and Mozart was chasing or being chased, and it was all perfect.
Are there any outdoor concert venues where you live? If you have been to the Hollywood Bowl, who have you heard perform there?
I'm a fan of a music subgenre I tend to think of as "American roots music." But it has many, many names, because it's hard to categorize. If you're goofing around on iTunes, you'll get the general idea of its breadth if you check out the "Alternative Country" and "Contemporary Bluegrass" cuts on iTunes essentials. (There's some overlap with "Modern Folk," too.)
Are any of you also fans?
I am not, in general, a fan of traditional Nashville country music, although of course I do have a fondness for some particular songs or artists (I have a soft spot for Willie Nelson and also The Statler Brothers, for example), and I do very often love traditional bluegrass, blues, and gospel.
But you will not find any country radio stations programmed in my car. :)
The best way I can think of to explain this particular brand of music is to say that it is music played on instruments associated with traditional country or bluegrass music (banjos, acoustic guitars, fiddles, harmonicas, dulcimers, mandolins), but played either by younger musicians who grew up listening to punk and rock, or by older musicians who have allowed newer music to inform their take on "country."
So you have elements of traditional country bluegrass music, mixed up with elements of newer stuff.
The best magazine for this kind of music (it used to be a print magazine but is now just online) has been around for almost fifteen years, and is called No Depression. (The name "No Depression" is from a gospel song called "No Depression in Heaven" which J.D. Vaughan wrote a long time ago and which several folks have covered over the years.)
If an artist is considered "legendary," they can find themselves in this "alternative" category, too, even if they're someone like Dr. Ralph Stanley, who was born in 1927 and is as traditionally bluegrass as you can get . . . lots of singing in minor key, lots of close harmony, lots of banjo, and quite a bit of whining. :)
I suspect another way to define "alternative country" is to say, "country music that Rolling Stone says is cool to listen to." :)
Even if you don't know about or don't like this kind of music, you probably enjoy at least one song that has gone mainstream . . . for instance, T-Bone Burnett produced the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack (Grammy Album of the Year in 2007) as well as the Alison Krauss-Robert Plant collaboration Raising Sand (Grammy Album of the Year in 2009).
Okay, so what was my point with all this enthusiastic rambling about music? I cannot remember. Hold on a second. Oh! I made a list of five "American root music" artists for you to check out if you're new to this genre and are goofing around on iTunes. I am keeping myself to only five because if the list is too long, it's no longer useful or personal, and you might as well just Google "alternative country" and see what you get. I've left off a lot of artists I love, like Lucinda Williams, but five is five.
Please feel free to speak up with your own favorites in this hard-to-define genre if you have any. :) And again, I recommend the iTunes essentials lists for "alternative country" and "contemporary bluegrass" to get you started, although it's not all great.
Here are my five recommendations:
They're my very favorite in this genre, whatever it is, and they're probably the most talented, too. They started playing before "alternative country" or "contemporary bluegrass" or "modern folk" were even terms (Alison Krauss was born in 1971), and Alison Krauss is right up there with Emmylou as a co-queen of traditional bluegrass. But they made bluegrass mainstream in the U.S. with the "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" soundtrack. (Dan Tyminski did the actual vocals for George Clooney when he sang "I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow" and Alison had lead vocals on a few of the tracks.) If you are new to Alison Krauss & Union Station, you need to get this soundtrack because it'll give you a sample of both Alison's and Tim's vocals. (And other folks', too.) (It's available on iTunes.)
I'm a big fan of all their stuff, old and new, and have lost all objectivity, actually. Get their Live album and also New Favorite. It's all good.
Alison's done a lot of solo work and specials with other artists, also. If you just want to hear a good sample of her vocals, download either "I Went Down to the River to Pray," which has those traditional close harmonies, or maybe "When You Say Nothing at All." Besides everything else I've raved about, I favor her "Simple Gifts" duet with Yo Yo Ma, and anything from the Raising Sand album.
Here's Choctaw Hayride, to let you see Dan in action on the guitar and Alison on the fiddle. (This one's an instrumental.) That's Jerry Douglas over there on the left playing the Dobro. He's actually his own legend . . . I need a separate link just for him. And Ron Block is on the banjo. He has recorded with a bunch of other artists you probably know. And Barry Bales is on the bass, and you probably know people he's played with, too. The whole band is awesome. I could watch this all day. :)
The Be Good Tanyas
Reviewer Ken Cox explained them this way: "If a person wants to hear performers who embrace the folk, country, and blues roots of American music with a little touch of the contemporary, then The Be Good Tanyas are voices that come out of the wilderness and onto center stage, performing music that transcends their birthdates and transports their listeners from the past to the present and vice-versa." What do you do, exactly, with a group that has this folksy sound, but covers a Prince song? :)
When people talk about "American Roots Music," they mean "North American," not just "U.S." This band is Canadian. If you are new to The Be Good Tanyas, you can download "The Littlest Birds" on iTunes, which is their most popular hit. I myself favor "Lakes of Ponchartrain." Their first album, Blue Horse, is still my favorite, because Jolie Holland was still with them, but they're great later, too.
The Avett Brothers
It always helps to be from the South if you're going to play any kind of country/bluegrass music. :) They're from North Carolina. They are young, and their style is sometimes called "grungegrass." They are in the current issue of Rolling Stone, so you see how loosey-goosey it can be trying to pin this genre down. I've talked about them a lot before. Here is one of my favorite Avett Brothers songs:
I think they called their own music "Progressive Acoustic." But you can hear the bluegrass influence loud and clear. :) Alison Krauss produced one of their albums. They broke up as a trio in the summer of 2006, but Sara Watkins is doing her own thing, and Chris Thile's new band is called "Punch Creek". A little NPR article and a song ("Helena") are here.
If you are new to Nickel Creek, you can download "The Lighthouse's Tale" or "When You Come Back Down" on iTunes, which are their most popular hits. I myself favor "First and Last Waltz."
Here is a fun video of the Smoothie Song.
He's the world's best banjo player, or at least the most famous, and he really confuses people trying to categorize him. Go to iTunes and check out the cuts on his "Perpetual Motion" album, and you'll see what I'm talking about. Oh how to categorize Bluegrass Paganini? :) Here is a fun video with Steve Martin playing banjo with Béla and also Tony Trishcka. Béla's the banjo on the far right.
Go to iTunes and download the song "Plow to the End of the Row" (and the whole album if you like it), and maybe also the songs "Hills & Hollers" and "The Art of Virtue". See what you think. I love them. (If you're close to Charlottesville, Virginia, you can go hear her live on April 18th.)
Here's a video of The Art of Virtue. The audio is awful, but you get the idea.
Oops. That's six. :) I also highly recommend the albums "Appalachia Waltz" (Yo-Yo Ma, Mark O'Connor and Edgar Meyer) and "Appalachian Journey" (Yo Yo Ma, Mark O'Connor, Edgar Meyer, Bela Fleck, James Taylor, and Alison Krauss), both available at iTunes.