We’re alright for now…

Perhaps I’ve written more blogs here about Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers than any other band/musician–including my beloved Pearl Jam–but there’s a reason for that:  they’re amazing.  And this has been a beautiful and difficult year.  On my “TO SEE BEFORE I DIE LIST” were the following:

Temple of the Dog (July, 2016, still paying interest, don’t care)

R.E.M. (that will probably never happen, since they dis-banded.) sigh

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (July, 2017, thank God.)

Bruce Springsteen (yet to happen; he’s nearby, but I’m broke)

Collective Soul (September 2017)

And, always, again, Pearl Jam and Tool, without a doubt.

Bands that weren’t on my to see before I die list, but I’m ever grateful for seeing them:


Devin Townsend Project

A Perfect Circle

Smashing Pumpkins (twice, once in the old days before the first break up; got to shake James’ hand; once with Zwan–met Billy!, once with the 2nd formation of SP)

Tori Amos (2013, and I’d do it again, and again, and again…)

Other acts I’ve seen:




Duncan Sheik

Ani DiFranco


Queens of the Stone Age

Third Eye Blind

Counting Crows

Goo Goo Dolls


James Brown

Tons of bands I saw during festivals…

Lots of live, local bluegrass

An assortment of local bands


I got to see Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers on their farewell…a last hurrah…and it was incredible.  Just writing that sentence made me a little weepy.  I was listening to Full Moon Fever today, and, nowadays, when I hear him, I talk to him.  During “Alright for Now” I always smile.  I know he’s up there, rocking out, still, with all of the other greats that went before.

And sometimes, I don’t feel so sad.  In numerous interviews I’ve watched over the years, one thing was clear:  Tom Petty always wanted to be a rock and roll musician, and that’s what he was, what he devoted his life to, and that…that’s amazing.  Yeah, he died at only 66.  But you know?  You could die older and a lot more miserable.  He went out doing exactly what he loved, and it was as if the universe said, alright, Tom.  You’ve done your work here.

As for the rest of us, we still have work to do.  What, if you were like young Mr. Petty, is your heart devoted to, no matter how improbable?  I want you to think about that.  Make it yours.  Tom did.  As for the present, I guess we’re alright for now.

Thank you, Tom.

Rock on,




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!



Why the word choice?

  1. of or relating to the viscera.
    “the visceral nervous system”
    • relating to deep inward feelings rather than to the intellect.
      “the voters’ visceral fear of change”
      synonyms: instinctive, instinctual, gut, deep-down, deep-seated, deep-rooted, inward;

      Well, I was recently looking at a picture of Eddie Vedder at the Cubs game.  That word came to mind.  A friend of mine once said to me, “Hey, I like Pearl Jam, but for me it’s not visceral like it is for you and die-hard fans.”

      Love is visceral.  It really cannot be defined, but it can be expressed.  This visceral love of Eddie Vedder has been inside me for over 25 of my almost 35 years of life.  It’s in my blood, my bones, my memoir…it cannot be separated from my chemistry.  Why?

      Well, I said you really can’t define love.  When a young girl falls in love with a rock star, most people think it’s physical attraction.  I won’t lie–yes, at ten, I fell in love with the gyrating, long-haired, fair-eyed rock god on my old Magnovox.  But his poetic grace, his fierce activism (for the right causes), his passionate lyrics, his healing through music…the very power in his voice–his proof in all his causes through action…all attributes that made this man even more attractive to me.

      Can I explain why my chest wants to explode every time I see a picture of him?  No, and I don’t have to.  Am I a cancer patient with the Make-a-Wish foundation?  Thankfully, no, and blessings and peace to all those who suffer.  But does my heart have one lifelong wish?  Yes.  That wish is to meet him.

      What would I do?  Why am I so hell-bent on doing this before either of us leave the earth?  Because I need to thank him.  I need to connect with his energy. I’d like to have him sign my handmade ukulele (thank you, Lindsey, best friend)…I’d like to have him sign my left forearm with a simple “EV” that I would immediately get tattooed in.

      But sometimes gratitude doesn’t get its chance to shine.  So what do you do?   You pay it forward.  I often think about my own activism in social justice, kindness and appreciation to our veterans, and the way I am with people–even difficult people–are a result not only of my own beautiful soul, but also a result of Eddie who raised me.  The “fatherless” son to the “fatherless” daughter.  The world is interesting like that, isn’t it?

      So, I bought Temple of the Dog tickets in July (that yes, I’m still paying off, with interest now, because of some greedy-ass ticket scalpers).  There’s not even a guarantee that he will be there, though I’m baffled as to why not, if there are only ten shows, PERIOD.  Please, universe.  Let him be in Philly for me, even if I don’t get to meet him.

      Thank you for reading.  Thank you for supporting me and my dreams.

      Be well and rock on,


Bated Breath

So it happens.  You max out a credit card to go to a once-in-a-lifetime show.  Your ten-year-old self once vowed that “if this ever happened, I’d sell my soul to go see it,” and now it’s happening.  But it’s bittersweet, because you just found out there is a possibility it won’t be everything you hoped it would be.

When I was ten and fell in love with Pearl Jam, I, of course, discovered Temple of the Dog and Mother Love Bone.  For a 25th anniversary (yes, now I do feel old, thank you) the group, comprised of members of Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, are hosting a ten-date U.S. tour.  Only I heard, after spending an OBTUSE amount of money for a pair of tickets from a ticket scalper (see my thoughts on that in the previous blog), that Eddie might not be there.

(Record scratches.)  How?  Why?  What the hell?  Eddie was invited into this tribute band to honor the life of former Mother Love Bone frontman, Andrew Wood, who passed from a heroin overdose, after remaining “clean” for sometime.  The members of Mother Love Bone disbanded, and Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament met Mike McCready and discovered Eddie Vedder and wham!  Pearl Jam.  At the time, Matt Cameron was Soundgarden’s drummer, but now makes a perfect puzzle piece place in the group.

I bought said tickets (that I’m now paying interest on) with the full intention of bringing my ukulele to get signed, should that happen.  (Please God and Universe, align just right.)  Now, I hear that he may or may not be at certain shows.  Listen, Eddie, I have never spoken an ill word against you, nor will I ever, but I have to know…please, will you be at the Tower Theatre show on Saturday, November 5th? Please will you sign my ukulele, my arm, my soul?  May I get a picture of you, as chubby as I’ve become, to commemorate my life’s BIGGEST dream coming true?

Did you know that when I was ten I had a stained glass music note inscribed with Andy’s name on it, and another one, a heart with roses, that read: Eddie and Rachael Forever?  Come on, I was ten, cut me a break.  But please be there.  I don’t see how you could NOT be.  You sing on three of the songs, at least!  You are an integral part of that project!  And now there’s talk of a second release?!  Why would you not take part, 25 years later?  Plus, it’s only ten shows.  Ten shows upon which millons of fans were disappointed, because, once again, Ticketmaster sucks, and we waited, with breath bated, only to find out that no, we never had a chance.  Before the page could even open, all tickets were sold out.  We wasted a sick day from work to be horribly dissappointed.  Down-trodden, we turned to eBay and, instead of paying our student loans, we racked up “cashback bonuses” on our credit cards because of the ticket scalpers.

So, please.  Please be there.  Everyone who waited, breath bated, counted on this.  We can’t find a better man.

Respectfully in debt,


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,


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,


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,