Wanna Show You Somethin’ Like….joy inside my heart…

…Seems I (went to see) Temple of the Dog!!!”

It isn’t an accident that my blog got my husband for me.  The brilliant but deceased Andrew Wood of Mother Love Bone put together a most amazing lyric to a song I once wrote about on my blog, and when my husband thoughtfully responded to it, that’s when I knew I had to meet him.

1) He took the time to read my blog

2) He carefully and eloquently responded to it

3) The song was “Man of Golden Words” by Mother Love Bone.  I got to hear it, in the fifth row, standing next to him, four and a half years after his fated message.  The subject is also lyrics from the song.

It may take me more than one blog to explain Saturday night.  When I was ten years old and Pearl Jam took my breath away, I discovered Mother Love Bone and the tribute act, Temple of the Dog, too.  In a matter of days, I could sing every word, intone every bass line, sway my head to every guitar riff and kick my foot to every bass drum hit.

Was Eddie at the show like I had wished with all my heart?  No.  Did that change the fact that it was absolutely amazing?  No.  Chris Cornell.  That should be all I have to say.  But it was truly Chris Cornell with Pearl Jam (excluding Eddie.)  And, though fans were surprised and probably dissappointed that Vedder didn’t show for this 10-date-only U.S. tour, Chris was more than amazing to us.  He had us back him on “Hunger Strike.”  He played “Man of Golden Words” by himself with an acoustic, then melodically transitioned into a brief mix of “Comfortably Numb.”  He opened the song up with heartfelt words about what Andy meant to him, and how Andy made him a better songwriter, and how he couldn’t even listen to this song for a very long time after his passing.

They played the entirety of the Temple of the Dog album, and a generous number of tracks from Mother Love Bone’s Apple. They covered Green River and Black Sabbath…they did two encores.  They did not play “Captain Hi-Top” and I bring this up because it has become a hilarious favorite of my husband’s because Andy inquires in a raucous call, “Where’s that chicken gumbo, baby?”  I told him he should shout the question to Chris.

I can’t explain how I felt.  I should have been screaming.  I should have wanted to pass out like Beatlemania…and still, two days later, I feel like it was a dream I had, looking through glass.  I remember feeling a bit detached.  My eyes saw them.  They were five rows away from me.  My ears heard them.  My whole body contorted, gyrated, sang, screamed, pumped fists, “interpretive danced” to the lyrics…and yet, it still feels distant, though not in a bad way.

Do I have a balance on my credit card?  DO I EVER!  Did I buy a lot at the merch table?  Well, I bought a tee, a sticker and my very first ever rock n’ roll hoodie.  (I adore it.)  Did I spent a lot on a hotel, gas, food, etc.?  Yeah.  Do I regret any of it?  Hell no.  Though this meant more to me than to my husband, I am glad he was there.  I’m glad because he used the sentiments, “Words and music/my only tools […] let’s fall in love with music/the driving force of our living/the only international language/divine glory/the expression/the knees bow, the tongue confesses…the Lord of Lords, the King of Kings…” to snare me.  He said he agreed, and that we had how we FELT about music in common for sure.

We vary greatly in many ways, but this we will always share.

When I was ten, I said, “Holy shit, if Soundgarden and Pearl Jam ever went on tour, I’d sell my soul to see them.”  That was nearly 25 years ago.  My expenses are justified in that, my soul is in tact.  One of my life’s biggest dreams has come true.  Now, if only I could get to meet Eddie…

Be well and Rock ON!

Rachael

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TwoEarsNotBlind (2ENB)

I come to you, writing this begrudgingly. In part because I can usually find the good in everything. The trip to see Third Eye Blind in Philly was unforgettable, and I think I became closer to a new friend I’ve made. The show…was unforgettable, but not in a good way.

Let me start by saying that I had high expectations for this show. My friend Lindsey and I had seen them in 1998 and they were fantastic. They were a band of my first love, their self-titled album the soundtrack of my first boyfriend and me and our first experiences with young love. But that is not why they were incredible. The Third Eye Blind I knew in 1998 was high-energy, dynamic, creative, and wild. They never missed a beat, had a good report with the crowd and hit all the notes.

After standing outside the Electric Factory on a windy night for nearly two hours, we were finally let in. The venue itself gets a good report, except that it is in a sketchy part of town. It is a very cozy little place.

The opening band gets high remarks from me, and nothing but. The opener was called U.S. Royalty and, in their four-song set, rocked us out. The lead singer was reminiscent of a young Robert Plant, the music and energy like-wise, though, in their softer set, reminded me a bit of early Fleetwood Mac. You can learn more about them here: http://www.usroyaltymusic.com/

The only thing wrong with their performance was that it was not long enough, and that, of course, is determined by the tour manager! The entire show was worth it just to see these guys play. Enjoy this tidbit: http://youtu.be/1A3uHitdTwg

I wish I could say the same for my beloved Third Eye Blind. I own every single studio album, love every track, and can sing each one by heart. The memory of that 1998 show had me pumped up even as I stood with my friend Sara in the freezing December wind. The sound check even sounded promising.

Once inside, we secured pretty decent balcony seats, albeit, the only downfall was me getting pawed by a drunk married man who, during the show, took it upon his six-foot-seven ass to kneel on the five-foot bar stool so that he became 12 feet tall. This caused him to: a) obstruct the view of other concert-goers. b) come dangerously close to elbowing me in the face.

Also, take note: one does not mosh to Third Eye Blind. Jump up and down excitedly, back in 1998? Sure. There was no need for moshing that night. That did not stop the aforementioned man from trying to mosh between me and his wife, however. There was a severe lack of energy, enthusiasm, and sadly, skill. For whatever reason (I’d like to blame drugs), Jenkins was unable to hit the high notes, sounded burned out, and even said, “We were told to hold back tonight but we’re not holding anything back.” An elderly woman using a walker in a wind storm could hold back less than they did.

The show was a complete letdown, except for the opener. It felt like an old, small town high school reunion gone wrong, actually. Lovers were pawing each other, people were texting, and after four songs, I made an important decision: I was going to leave. Sara was obliging, and probably surprised. I never give up on anything. After four songs, I decided I’d rather be in a warm car, laughing with Sara about our hilarious and scary experiences in the city that day. By the time the bassist bombed his solo, we agreed to leave. As we turned to go, the drummer had a weird techno-breakdown set where some mechanical recording would, in hip-hop rhythm, spout, “Bass. High-hat. Tom. Tom.” The performance was so bad it was as if the techno voice was instructing them on how to play and what to play next. It was supposed to be his drum solo.

I wanted to cry, really. $100 tickets in the can and WAY more than that being haggled by some parking lot junkie who tried to high-jack my keys (I only wish I was kidding).

I will always love the recorded music of the albums I own, but I will never see them again live. “You can put the past away. I wish you would step back from that ledge, my friend. You could cut ties with all the lies that you’ve been livin’ in. And if you do not want to see me again, I would understand.”

I hope that you do, old rock friends of mine.

Be well and rock on,

Rachael

P.S. I’d love to hear your sentiments about bad shows you’ve attended. Or absolutely phenomenal ones.

‘Round Here

This blog post should be more about a band than a location, but it is inescapably both. (Also, Snakes is my deceased cat who lived 17 years, five without me because I was in college.)

I was not looking forward to moving to Pennsylvania in 2006. To me, there was nothing better than the Blue Ridge Mountains. But my family was there, and I needed to be with them.

During the first week, Mom presented me with a generous and exciting gift: two very good seats to see the Counting Crows and the Goo Goo Dolls in concert. THE COUNTING CROWS?! She knew they were on my “must see before I die” list. I fell into her arms and cried. They were the band I fell in love with the year Snakes was born.

One of my comforts in my new situation was that Snakes and I were finally reunited. It was as though no time had ever passed. Her devotion to me never wavered. She laid on the heart rug in the kitchen when I ate, she slept right next to my head every night and greeted me at the door each day. She was on my bed the night I called Lindsey to tell her about the concert tickets.

“Yeah! And what’s that song…that really great song…Colorblind. It’s…it’s on the fish bowl album. Oh, what the hell is the name of that album?!” I exclaimed. “I always call it the fish bowl album but can never remember the title. Hang on, lemme check…Oh, my God. OW! Ow…ow…ooo…eee….” I dropped the phone and Mom came running. Somehow, I tripped backwards over a pile of clean laundry and fell to my back on the floor. There was a hot and blinding pain searing my right knee.
“Rachael. Rachael? Are you okay?” Lindsey’s distant voice crept from the receiver of our house phone.
Mom grabbed the phone as I rocked with my injured knee. “Lindsey, we’ll call you back. I think she’ll be all right.”
“Can you move it?” Mom asked.
Tears streamed down my face. “No, it hurts too bad.”
We put ice on it. I had no doctor and no insurance. In retrospect, we should have gone to the ER immediately. This physical setback, however, did not prohibit me from going to the concert. There were 17 stairs from Mom’s kitchen door to the porch, and then another five to the sidewalk. The outdoor arena, Montage Mountain, was exactly that: a steady, uphill climb up a mountain to the outdoor arena. As we neared the venue, signs burned my eyes: “The Counting Crows will not be performing due to illness.”
Tears threatened my eyes. “Illness?! I broke my goddamned knee and hobbled up here to see them and they’re cancelling due to illness?!” We stayed for the Goo Goo Dolls anyway. While I am a fan of their music, (I own three studio albums, in fact) the concert was anti-climactic. They are, unfortunately, a band that is verbatim to their albums. No surprises, no great energy. The seats were so incredible, the best I’ve ever had. And the whole time I kept trying to imagine Adam Duritz (the lead singer) crooning there in my sight, close enough that I could see his facial expressions.

The Counting Crows, much like Pearl Jam, have been a constant in my life. Though I knew I was a poet by age eight, the poetry of their lyrics as well as the somber tone of some of their music, has always spoken to me. Their first album, August and Everything After, is arguably their best. You could argue otherwise, but it would be difficult to persuade me. That was the album I danced to, sang to, lived to. It was an album that always made me think of Snakes, too. The final track is called “A Murder of One” and, when I was only 12, I made an interpretive dance to go along with it, much like my Madonna days.

It wasn’t until recently that I saw a documentary on PBS about crows that the meaning behind the title made sense to me. A group of crows is called “a murder of crows.” For some reason, my adolescent mind had always associated murder with the violent taking of one’s life. Though I knew the origin of the term “murder of crows” this refreshed look at the title was more meaningful. I’m not well-educated on the band but I do know that Adam Duritz suffers from some horrible mental instability like bipolar disorder or manic depression or something. I say horrible, because I am, what I like to call, a survivor of clinical depression.

A time after the concert, when reflecting on the disappointment of not seeing them, I softened. I was well aware that illness doesn’t always mean a cold or flu. Flashes of my college “dark” days illuminated my mind. I was able to forgive them, but I vowed then and there that I would see them before I left Pennsylvania. In 2006, I never fathomed I’d be here in 2011, but life does some strange things. Sometimes you just have to let things happen. Maybe one day I’ll be able to tell them the story of how I trekked up a mountain with an injured knee for them.

A recurring theme in the band’s lyrics is rain. “Raining in Baltimore” and “Rain King” are two of the most well-known, but there is a mention of rain on almost every album. Now, when it rains, my right knee aches. But I can walk and drive and dance, still. Sometimes, I think on that. I’ve used music to make sense of my life. It is fitting that even my injuries are music-related.

Be good to one another.

Be well and rock on,

Rachael

PJ20: From “Who Are You?” to “Who You Are.”

First, I have to plug a bit about 92.1 FM WFUZ. Thanks for the free tickets to PJ20!

The show was fantastic. I drummed on my lap, rocked in the rocking seats in the super-sweet IMAX theater, and yes, cried. There’s something about the magnitude of watching the last two decades of my life, through Pearl Jam, flash before my eyes.

Much of my life has been owned by this band yet I never really thought it was something others would take seriously, so I never truly celebrated it. Certain things are just a part of who you are (<–were you singing the song just then? I was) and are so ingrained in our natures that we often don’t realize it.

My abiding and undying love for Pearl Jam defines me, and always will. It started when I was ten years old and jumped out of my skin the day I earned enough allowance to purchase Ten on cassette.

I’ll share a bit of my memoir here:

[Jeremy’s] influence led up to one of the most exciting days in my adolescence. By late summer 1992, I’d saved up enough allowance to purchase Pearl Jam’s debut album, Ten, on cassette. Mom promised to take me to Hill’s Department Store that evening for my purchase. I’d been in love 12 days. It all started with my brother annoying me while I was writing.

Rewind about two weeks. I was sprawled across my bed writing in a three-subject spiral bound notebook with one of my favorite blue pens when Jeremy yelled for me. “Rachael! Come here, dude!” I stopped, pen poised in hand.

“What do you want?” I complained over my shoulder. I hated when people interrupted my daydreaming and writing time.

“Just come the fuck here, all right? You gotta see this!” I heard the volume increase on our television. MTV was already a staple in Jeremy’s world. I let the pen fall out of my hand as I leapt up from the bed and made the short trip up our hallway, my waist-length golden blonde hair trailing behind me. The living room was adjacent to my bedroom and the TV was located against the wall where I laid my head at night. I pushed my bifocals up my nose as I rounded the corner into the living room.

“What is—” I started, but Jeremy impatiently waved me into silence and pointed adamantly at the TV. I saw a tall man with wavy brown hair and a wild look in his eye clutching his elbows. He was clad in a brown corduroy jacket and he had the most intense blue eyes I’d ever seen. The screen flashed from him to a black-haired boy coloring pictures of elementary school expertise. The man sang, “Daddy didn’t give affection, oh; and the boy was somethin’ that mommy wouldn’t wear…King Jeremy the wicked, oh, ruled his world…Jeremy spoke in claaaaaaass today.” I glanced at my Jeremy. He nodded to the beat with excited green eyes, still pointing at the screen. He still acts this very same way when he’s excited about music today. His eyes take on an eerie energy, and he always has to look at you for approval. Sometimes I feel like we’re the only two who appreciate music with the same intensity.

I smiled at him briefly but my eyes followed his pointing finger back to the 19-inch Magnavox frame that caged in this divine and yet troubled human being. I felt like I was looking into a mirror. When the man glanced toward the camera lens I felt his blue orbs hit me like an icy tidal wave. Damnable pane of glass! I wanted to reach right into the screen and tell him I knew his pain. I felt such strong feelings course through my ten-year-old body that I was uncomfortable standing in the room with my brother.

The song progressed into something wild with distorted guitars all the while this beautiful man was emanating a haunting wail in the background, “Whooooooooo-ooooh-oh-oh-oh-oh….spoke in…Jeremy spoke in claaass today…” There was a strobe-light head banging scene—flashes of wild, wavy brown hair flew like streamers across the screen. The video ended with cardboard cutouts of the boy’s classmates covered in blood. The story of the song is true, too. A neglected boy blew his brains out in front of his classmates.

I was disturbed by the video. It didn’t feel right to stand there feeling attracted to a man who just went crazy in a video about a violent suicide. The song ends by slowing down until it finishes with one haunting clang on the electric guitar. The video jockey (VJ), Steve Isaacs, came on with a cheerfulness that trumped the devastation we just witnessed. Steve was so adorable. He would become my favorite VJ. “That was Pearl Jam!” He announced, “With their hit single, ‘Jeremy’…kids don’t try that at home. Or school…” but Steve faded into the background as I looked to my Jeremy.

“Don’t try that at school, all right, Bubby?” Yes, I still called him Bubby. To this day I call him Moey, even. Mom will still call him “Moe” on occasion. When I was a toddler I called him “Me-Moe” and it got shortened to Moey or Moe by later adolescence. We have a history of strange nicknames. Mom even calls me “Sis” to this day, which I know is weird but I like to think of it as her way of trying to keep the three of us close together. Jeremy always called me “Rae-Rae” or “Sissy.” These days, he calls me “Rach” or “Sis,” so I guess Mom’s chosen nickname has worked.

“Yeah, well if I was gonna have the balls to do it, I wouldn’t waste it on those bastards,” Jeremy retorted.

“They can’t all be bastards. You don’t even know them yet.” He was about to start seventh grade in a new middle school, one town away from where we grew up in Blacksburg, Virginia.

“Whatever dude, I’m not gonna off myself.” He nervously chewed on his thumb cuticle. Just when I thought this was my cue for dismissal, he looked back to me. “Well? What the fuck was that? What’d you think? Crazy shit, huh?”

“Um, yeah. Those guys rule.” He had no idea. Jeremy and I have always shared a similar love of music. We love almost all the same music to this day, in fact, but I could never share this moment with him the way I could have with a girlfriend. He’d never understand the way I felt when I saw Eddie staring at me with those haunting blue eyes.

“You can say that again—yeah. And he’s all ‘hoo—hoo—hoo-whooooaaaaaa…’” Jeremy re-enacted the head-banging scene until I laughed. “And Jeremy’s like ‘fuck it, man! I’m gonna off myself on you bastards!’ How sick is that?” He sat back up on the couch and looked at me, completely composed. For a boy who’d been reading Stephen King since the third grade, this was mild for him. I rolled my eyes at his delight in gore.

“S’pretty sick, man. But Pearl Jam? Righteous, brother.” I turned to go.

“No doubt,” he said, pulling on his cuticles with his teeth again.

“Thanks, man. I’ll be writing. Call me if another one comes on,” I told him.

“’K, Sis. Rock on.” That day changed the entire course of my life. It’s funny how you hear stories about how a split-second decision saves a train from de-railing or how one person saves another’s life by leaping out in front of a bus…or about how some impoverished family wins the lottery and uses the funding for good (it was never us, but we were always hopeful.) My pivotal moment occurred there in the living room of our small, ranch-style house staring at the 19-inch Magnavox TV Mom won in the divorce settlement. I never realized then that this band would become my life, my salve, my path to healing. While Jeremy was often the reason for most of my adolescent heartache, he is redeemed because he lead me to a way to heal from it.

***

It would have been in no way right for me to take anyone other than my brother to the showing. He is responsible for passing on all the cool music of my entire life. Passion for music in innate, I think, but it takes someone or something to direct you to that pivotal moment when you realize that it is your entire world. For me, that moment was when Jeremy disturbed me from my writing to show me the disturbing “Jeremy” video on MTV that hot August day in 1992.

Eddie was everything to me that all my male role models should have been. I identified with his ability to heal through music. Though Eddie may have been the captain of the ship, my love ran deeper still. Jeff Ament helped lead me to a lifelong love of the bass guitar. Mike McCready owns a style that, the documentary said, comes from something inhuman inside him because of its power.

There’s a sound I’ve never been able to describe but I could recognize if I were deaf: Pearl Jam guitar. It’s a mix of Page, Hendrix and some special endorphin that seeps from their fingers onto the strings and into your soul. (Check out: “Inside Job,” Pearl Jam, 2005.)

But we can’t forget Stone Gossard on rhythm guitar, of whom I had such an incredible fascination with that I decided, at age ten, that my son would be called Stone, after him. (I did abide by calling my main fiction character Stone, complete with physical likeness–in my head, anyway.) It is perhaps the blend and harmonies with Gossard and McCready that make the perfect ingredient for Pearl Jam guitar.

But it all stems back to the achingly beautiful and short-lived unit, Mother Love Bone. I had a black stained-glass music note that I had someone professionally script “Andy” onto in memory of the musician I never even knew until he passed. Yet I mourned his passing even so.

This blog post could go on and on (20 years worth!) but is going to be a part of a much larger Pearl Jam tribute, alongside my own memoir. I’ll leave you with a few bits of advice:

Check out PJ20 and everything before it. 🙂
Get acquainted with Mother Love Bone.
Recognize that Matt Cameron is the man. Wait, that needs capitals: MATT CAMERON IS THE MAN. (I’m so glad he’s the drummer now!)
Let me know what you think of this post/the band, etc.
And check this out:

and this:

Be well and rock on,

Rachael

Concert etiquette

I’d hoped my Eddie Vedder concert review would be charged with unabated excitement and passion. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

Hotel: $119
Tickets: $400
Gas: $40
Crowd: irrevocably rude, ignorant and hideous

Usually it’s the crowd that charges me up. When you have a good audience, it really makes the show. This audience was so loud, talking over the opening act, that he unplugged his guitar, shortened his set, and was visibly upset.

Dear Pearl Jam fans who expected a Pearl Jam show: did you not even listen to the new solo album? He’s not going to play “Animal” on a ukulele just because you were acting like one, calling out during the memorial song for Clarence Clemons. I’ll pause here for thoughtful consideration:

Now that we’re back, Eddie was very gracious and even played a few Pearl Jam numbers, and also his version of “Hide Your Love Away” (complete with harmonica, be still my heart.)
This somehow made me forget about my uninvited contact buzz (the people beside me fired up a joint mid-way through the second song.)

There were so many flashes of photography in the first song, Eddie stopped the show and said, “Friend to friend, can I ask you a favor? Go ahead and take all the photos of me you want in the next 30 seconds. Then, please put your phone away. I feel like Justin-fucking-Bieber up here.”

The woman behind me talked really loud throughout the first set. I gave a few questioning glances before saying, “Excuse me, but while I appreciate your discourse on Eddie, I didn’t pay to listen to you talk, I paid to hear him sing.” Mom told me later, “You know, one of these days someone is going to kick your ass!”
Me: “Well, I’d rather get my ass kicked standing up for what I believe in that sitting on my ass and saying nothing!”

I do not think that cellphone waving is an appropriate substitution for its forefather, the lighter. It’s obnoxious, actually. Leave the light waving to the guy sparking up the doobie, okay?

Secondly, put your iPhone away and BE IN THE ROOM WITH THE PERFORMANCE. Sing. Dance. Clap. But don’t smother the ukulele’s soft tones and the warmth of Eddie’s voice with your NASCAR-rally bellows. It’s just not appropriate.

After the show, Mom and I waited for two hours, but were completely spent. He came out and shook hands with people. I had my hand out, grasping thin air, only wanting to touch the hand that redeemed me so many times. A sweaty dude threw himself in front of me (and the only picture Mom mustered now features his armpit where Eddie’s face would have been) and drunkenly offered to buy him a beer. Eddie looked at me, briefly, but was turning away.

I see his sea-blue eyes boring into me, but feel somewhat unsatisfied. For a moment, I pondered the larger-than-life-sized Eddie poster that looked at me during my childhood. It was better than that, in retrospect, of course. But the whole night felt frustrating.

If you’re going to be a dick, please don’t go to a ukulele concert.

I feel like, someday, I might be able to shake his hand and tell him thank you. Maybe when my book is published. He will, after all, be in the credits.

Sorry to leave this on a less-than-best note, but I have to be honest.

Basic concert etiquette:

1) Do not smoke pot in an indoor arena, please.
2) Do not carry out loud conversations during the performance.
3) Put your fucking iPhone away and enjoy what’s in front of you.
4) Make sure any picture-taking device is on a lovely setting called “Manner/Museum” KEY WORD: MANNER(s)
5) Please try to wait until a song is finished before whooping and slobbering like the rude bastards you’ve become
6) Please show respect to any/every opening act. After all, you paid to see them, too.
7) If you are bigger, stinkier, and more aggressive than the small lady in front of you, don’t crush her while she’s trying to have a small moment with the singer.
8) Please do not drink yourself stupid so that you are getting up in front of everyone every ten minutes.
9) Please make an effort NOT to spill the beer (that you shouldn’t have in the theatre anyway) so that people slip on it.) If you do spill, clean it up, for God’s sake.
10.) Don’t be a dick.

And now for something totally different. Concert highlights:

Eye contact with Eddie
Good seats
Mom in tow
Nice road trip with Mom
Eddie on keys, covering the Boss’s “All Night.”
The meditative chant from Into the Wild (I think Snakes was channeling me.)
The harmonica (God bless this instrument.)
The fact that Eddie had the original recording of the Hawaiian ocean in the background for “The Light.”

I think I might review the album next post. There’ll be no negativity in that.
What’s happened to courtesy?

Eddie, I’m sorry. And thank you for being so kind, with two encores, to a most undeserving crowd.

Be well and rock on,

Rachael

Toad the What…?

It seems like I’ve been fortunate enough to plan a few good concerts in the earlier part of 2011. I got to see Robert Plant and the Band of Joy, the Bouncing Souls and Toad the Wet Sprocket, performing with Deep River at the 9:30 Club.

Here are my thoughts on the matter. First, the opening band, Deep River, is really excellent, if you like easy and rootsy folk rock. The singer emanates a good energy, plays the harmonica and sounds like a hybrid of Trisha Yearwood and Sarah McLachlan. Their song “Virginia” made me a bit teary-eyed, but I’m still in a rough patch being without my dear Snakies (the cat.) Maybe it also had to do with the fact that I was in beautiful Virginia, beside my lifelong best friend, after a turbulent year. You should give this group a chance. The singer, Rachel, is energetic, plays a drum and harmonica and incites the audience to dance and clap and groove. Her beautiful harmonies matched the voices of her bassist and guitarist and their songs left me feeling peaceful. They are definitely a good opener for a Toad show. Check out more about Deep River here: http://www.myspace.com/deeprivermusicva
They are also very crowd-friendly and hung around to talk to fans and sign their CD, which I bought and recommend.

Toad the Wet Sprocket. Where do I begin? A lot of people who aren’t familiar give you a confused look when you say the name. Let’s clear up some confusion: The band drew its name from the Eric Idle monologue “Rock Notes” on Monty Python’s Contractual Obligation Album from 1980, although the name is featured in a parody of The Old Grey Whistle Test on Rutland Weekend Television in 1975. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toad_the_Wet_Sprocket)

You can read more there about them by using the link above. Toad (the loving abbreviation given to them by fans-from-the-early-days) give one heck of a show. They are always good to their fans and often come out and sign items and chat with fans up to the point of being kicked out of the venue. They afforded such a kindness on Saturday evening, as well. They are currently working on their first album since Coil, in 1998. Since 1998, they still do intermittent touring and those are the shows where the true fans shine. We are the type that will drive four hours just to catch them again.

This particular tour finds them with Jonathan Kingham, a friend and fellow musician who toured with Glen in 2009. He is playing mandolin and keys for them, as well as playing guitar and providing supporting vocals. To learn more about Jonathan and his varied and exceptional talents, go here: http://www.jonathankingham.com/file/splash.html

Saturday found Toad singing old favorites with new variations, like the ever-popular “All I Want” “Something’s Always Wrong” and “Good Intentions.” Glen played one track from one of his (three?) solo albums, “Finally Fading.” If you like Toad you definitely should check out Glen’s solo stuff. It falls into a more mellow groove, but feels like you’re listening to an old friend share his life and advice for yours, with you. I highly recommending walking in the park with him.

What I find incredible about the band…well, are a few things.
1) Glen was only 16 when the band got rolling and they are still a tight unit all these many years later
2) The drummer, Randy Guss, who is afflicted with Osteogenesis Imperfecta http://www.oif.org/site/PageServer?pagename=AOI_Facts has been living with this condition since the before the band began. His brother gave him a drum set to ease his suffering and bring joy into his life. That subsequent joy became Toad the Wet Sprocket. One thing I noticed, in particular, about Randy is his pure joy during the show. Over the drum kit you can see the eyes closed-playing-his-heart-out stance and a bright grin so big you’d think he was a kid on Christmas morning.
3) You can see their sense of comraderie and feel good because of the good relationship that is evident on stage
4) Glen always plays barefoot.
5) They are incredibly good to their fans, ALL THE TIME!!!

I happened to tell Randy after the show my insights on his joy and how it emanates off the stage. I had envisioned writing their story for the longest time (and I’ve mentioned it more than once) and I told him it should be written down. We always hear about pitches in Creative Writing sessions but when it comes down to it, you can practice your head off, but what comes out, will come out naturally. He told me I had pretty eyes, as I introduced myself and my proposition to him.

The music started blaring (the club trying to kick us out for the rave about to take place) so we went to the stairwell where he expressed that he’s always wanted to talk about his story with OI and Toad and the drums, but wasn’t a writer. I told him I’d gladly help him tell his story and he put my number into his phone. It felt a little surreal. I’ve met some famous people before but this was more exciting than any of them. The idea that I can help him write about triumph through music? That’s what my story is about, and I think I could write his well.

Meanwhile, if you are a Toad fan, send me your comments. If you aren’t, check them out. I’m pretty sure you will be in no time.

Be well and rock on,

Rachael

In punk rock, you can “Say Anything.”

Though I’ve been a Bouncing Souls fan for about seven years now, my first chance to see them was Friday, April 1st at a cozy venue called Eleanor Rigby’s (http://www.myspace.com/eleanorrigbys) in Jermyn, PA. It was my first punk show and I had a fantastic time.

The writer in me couldn’t help but people-watch, especially the angry-looking dude with the Elmer’s Glue spiked mo-hawk. His spikes had to be about six inches off his head! I wondered what he’d do if I told him he was adorable. Probably punch me in the face. 🙂 But he was a little less staid, of course, when the Bouncing Souls came on. By the time the Bouncing Souls played, it was so sweaty that his mohawk had drooped considerably during the show, making for a half-hawk that took away a bit of his fierceness.

I was outside what is called a “circle pit” but felt only a few blasts and only got my toes stomped once. I still need to re-polish my boots. At one point, I went airborne. I was trying to do my whole mosh/bounce-dance and the energy from a nearby circle-pit gave me air for a moment. My friend, Brian, was a pretty good defense against the insane energy beside us. A boy, about 12, must have picked up on this because, for the latter part of the show he used Brian as his body shield. It was pretty much adorable. The boy and his other young friends were buzzed, singing the lyrics into each other’s faces and looking like toddlers on Christmas morning. It might have been their first show ever.

They reminded me of my first show with Susan. The Offspring and Quicksand ON A SCHOOL NIGHT in seventh grade. We thought we were so cool dancing on the bleachers. The coolest part of that night, though, was Mom’s presence and support of our musical passions.

I’m going to cheat a little and tell you to check out Brian’s post about the Bouncing Souls because he puts it so well…

http://wp.me/p16Gnt-3Y

But I will say my Bouncing Souls highlights were singing/hearing:
Fight to Live
True Believers
Hopeless Romantic
That Song (the one that repeats “I put the needle on the record and I played that song again.”)
The Something Special

It certainly was a special evening, commemorated with an ice-cold PBR in the punk-rock way.

What I’d like to talk about is how the Menzingers totally rule and how you should check them out if you can. They are natives of the Scranton area and just got signed with a good label. http://www.facebook.com/themenzingers
http://www.myspace.com/themenzingers

You should definitely give them a listen.

Be well and “punk rock” on,

Rachael

P.S. The author of this post would like to assure you that she remains true to her grunge-rock roots, but has found a new genre to love in addition to her rock roots, and hopes, in no way, did she sound like a punk-rock poser in the above posting.

Bonus listen: