All Writing and Photography © Alex Livingstone/Owner's Closet

Thursday, March 26, 2009

SXSW, Part 2


Tim and Mark picked me up and we headed off to some rehearsal space that Tim had acquired.  This space ended up being on a ranch next to the landfill off 1327.  When we got there, the fellow who was supposed to let us in the gate didn't answer the phone so Stepro walked down the long drive towards the house.  The proprietor ended up being there and we found our to-be-studio in a shed at the top of the driveway.  A few songs into the set and we could all tell that this new pick up band was going to be just fine.  We tackled "The Young Girls," "Burgundy Red," "Broke My Heart" and "Porcupine" first and flew through them with no problem.  We knew we were in good shape and we decided to finish the set anyway.  During "Stormy,"  in walks the proprietor with Pamela and Michael Des Barres!  I'm rockin' out in front of Miss Pamela!  Holy Shit!  That's one step away from Jimmy Page.  I thought that if this is how SXSW is gonna go, then quitting Stubb's and taking the gig with Easton is the best turn of events to happen to me in awhile.  We packed up the rental and headed to Dog and Duck.

The Dog and Duck gig went well.  Hillary York was first on the bill and sounded great with a full band.  We were second and I didn't feel too nervous about the set.  I had half a beer and we ripped it out with few hitches.  Then I had a full beer.  A few people present told me they never would have known that the three of us had never played together before.  Good sign.  Then it was off to the Convention Center to get our wristbands.  It was a mess down there but we found a sweet parking spot... the first time the Parking Gods would smile upon us this week.  We had lunch at Iron Works BBQ and I must say I was impressed.  I hadn't eaten there in many years and I plan on going back there more often.

I met up with Tiffany at Emo's where we saw a set by The Bronx.  Unbeknownst to me, The Young Widows had finished right before we walked and when I found out that I had missed them I was pretty disappointed.  The Bronx was good rock, though.  Tiffany and I then waited in line for 45 minutes to get into the Fader party which would have completely sucked had it not been for the free Budweiser and Southern Comfort.  Needless to say, while Tiffany was taking care of her business I indulged in the flowing booze.  Jennie picked us up at 5th and Waller and took us back to her house where we made a couple Tito's screwdriver roadies for our walk to to see Glossary at Cissi's Market.  Glossary played a "feelers" set that was really beautiful.  They adapted to the intimate setting with no awkwardness.  We were pretty lit so we went to Taqueria Arandas for togo tacos and ate them while we watched Wet Hot American Summer.  That movie really isn't that good and we all fell asleep before it ended.


This was to be my busiest day of the week.  I had to take Jennie to work so that I could make it from the Grand Champeen gig at Jovita's to the Easton set at Club Deville 30 minutes later.  Champeen played a 25 minute set of songs that we hadn't played at Beerland two nights before.  Tiffany, Caulkins and I immediately went downtown and set up at the New West party.  I met Aaron who was to play lead guitar on the rest of the Easton gigs and I met Mark Olson and Gary Louris who were to play later that day.  All nice fellas.  Our set as a four piece was even better than the set the day before and we were all feeling pretty good about the group.  If we could only learn 12 new Easton songs and go into the studio immediately... that would be some fun.  The Olson/Louris set was incredible.  It was so wonderful to hear those guys singing together after so many years.  While their set was made up mostly of songs off their new album, the Tomorrow The Green Grass songs really made my day.  "Over My Shoulder," "Two Hearts," "Nothing Left To Borrow," "Blue" and the even older "Two Angels" brought back a lot of memories.  After spending the rest of the afternoon hangin' at DeVille, Jennie and I ordered Homeslice pepperoni and mushroom togo and took a nap in the hour while it was being prepared.  Then it was off to The Hole In the Wall for the Bremen Riot and Grand Champeen gig.  When we got there, Gleeson had just finished and Will Johnson was about to play a solo set.  John Paul Kieth and the 1 4 5's then played their rhythm and blues rave ups with a scorching set by Mandible close behind.  The Bremen Riot set was invigorating and the two new Nicolai songs went off really well.  People are still amazed at how awesome Mike performs as a lead singer.  I'm one of those people.  After a short pee-break, Champeen launched into a set similar to that at Beerland.  At the end of the day I had played four separate sets of music and had logged 6 shows for the week.  Needless to say, I was tired but Tim was picking me up at 10am so I had to get in a shower and a nap before he showed up.  Fall alseep to the amazing Blue Earth...   

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Back At It

As a major storm rolls into town, Jim and I are taking a break from overdubbing.  Susan Vessel is giving me a detailed doppler report on KEYE.  She's great.  We finished work on "Impossible To Turn Away" just before the rain started coming down.  We were recording vocals in his living room and they storm noise would most certainly have been picked up in the microphone.  Yesterday, we overdubbed bass, acoustic and electric guitar, and organ onto "Impossible."  Though we had already recorded the three former instruments, we had to rerecord them because we edited the drum track on the end of the song.  

After looking at our to-do list, it seems there's not a lot left to record on these songs.  We have a date next week with Rick to overdub percussion which will finish "Drop Me A Line," "Paid The Way," "Mighta Got Caught" and "Flash In The Pan."  I need to make dates with horn players for the second week in April in order to finish "Hard Head" and "Over Before It Started."  There's vocals left on "Cashin' In The Dimes," "Burnin' Out,"  and "Over Before It Started."  There are some back up vocals on "Pining For Verona" and "Over."  After that, Jim needs to play some guitar on "Burnin' Out" and it's time to mix!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

SXSW, Part 1

Due in large part to not being trapped behind the bar at Stubb's for the first SXSW in five or six years, I feel like I had a week worth recapping.  It was a busy one filled with music, friends, beer and tacos...the way it should be.  No, I didn't bartend all week and I'm not rolling in piles of dirty cash right now, but I've been down that road and it sucks the soul.  I'm gonna go day to day starting Sunday, March 15 and go through yesterday, maybe.


Just like all my Sundays recently, I woke up tired and cursed the Mexicans power washing the meatwater stains off my driveway.  Don't they know we're sleeping?  Is power washing on Sunday morning really necessary?  Work was fine.  Sunday front bar shift.  My friend Ben had gotten into town Friday night and we had made plans to hang out when I got out of work this evening.  After pulling a Mr. Rogers and changing into my civilian clothes, my tattoo artist friend Mike and I caught a cab to the Sidebar to meet up with Ben.  He was there with Jody, David, Joey and others troopers in the New Guard Comedy forces (i,e, Danny McBride, Bill Hader) and when they all left, Mike, Ben and I walked over to Shangri-La.  The city had shut down Shangri-la's yard/patio so everyone was stuck inside.  After some beers and shots we got in a cab and went to The Longbranch Inn for a change of scenery.  Ben was fascinated with the moon tower across the street and made the requisite Dazed and Confused references.  The scene there was ok but we were restless so we made it full circle back to the Hole In The Wall.  I wanted to show Ben some local spots and upon entering the Hole In The Wall, that mission was accomplished.  After the Hole, we went back to the Four Seasons and ran into Jody and his wife in the parking lot.  The bar was closed so we searched out a hotel room party.  We found a geeky sausage party but they all recognized Ben from Foot Fist Way and East Bound and Down so we were a hit.  Ben invited them over to his room and we destroyed his mini-bar until security clamped down on us due to a noise complaint.  I took yet another cab home. 


Wake up hungover and go to work, psyched about life and all that.  Made it through work and directly after, went to rehearsal with both Grand Champeen and The Bremen Riot.  For those of you that don't know, The Bremen Riot is Mike Nicolai and the members of Grand Champeen, together as a band.  We have been playing together for years but just recently we have decided to be a band instead of his backup band.  We have two new songs called "Easy Joe" and "Ruthless, Unbroken and Profane."  We're playing these and other songs again April 11 at the Hole In The Wall.


I woke up and took Jennie to work and then went home to take a nap.  I don't remember whet else I did that day.  I think I ran errands and then picked Jennie up with the intention of going to $2 taco night at Quality Seafood.  Unfortunately, the lot was totally full and we realized it would take too long so we left.  
This evening was the annual Tuesday-before-SXSW-music-festival-Grand Champeen-and-other-bands-at-Beerland show.  Since it was Champeen, Glossary and Two Cow Garage, it was a near-reprise of the This Is American Music line-up.  The show was a blast for all.  It was at this show that I met Tim Easton for the first time.  After weeks of emails and studying his new album, it was a relief to finally meet the guy who was getting me back on the road!  I also met Mark Stepro who was to play drums at all our gigs last week.  Turns out he grew up in Gallion, Ohio which is stones throw from Bucyrus... home of Micah and Andy Two Cow.  (Ohio had a strong presence in my SXSW this year.)  I went back to Jennie's for a nap to rest up for my first day of playing with Easton and Stepro.