Thing-A-Day #4 – Barrettes

A day full of creation and inspiration for future projects. A friend and I went to a small town nearby to do some antiquing. I looked like it would be a day without purchases, but then I left the final store with my arms full. Here’s a pile of my purchases – foreshadowing of projects that will come later this month.

I’ve been looking for a suitcase to cover in fabric since seeing this one on Pinterest several months ago. It would be perfect for a merch case. So now I just need to discover a secret talent, start a band, book a tour, finish the suitcase, and hit the road. Easily done.

I’ve painted a couple of coats on the board featured yesterday, but I’ll wait until there is real news on that front to post again. I also made a delicious 5 bean soup. And somehow managed a giant nap as well. Successful day.

This evening I started making a pair of barrettes that have been special ordered by a very kind colleague. Here’s what they look like so far…

Chirp, chirp!

Well, I should probably head to bed – waking up in a couple short hours to see blog favorite Reed Turner perform on Austin’s KXAN at 8:40 their time. Living out west does me very few favors when it comes to time. If you are up at that time watch it with me live here, or read about it here tomorrow.

 

Song of the Day – Gray or Blue (Jaymay)

There are television shows that I actually enjoy watching on Wednesday nights, but I was so at peace crafting and listening music that I stuck with that instead last night. And Pandora rewarded my decision by playing great music. A lot of The Band, John Prine and Joe Pug.

The Avett Brothers’ station is dominated by male voices, so maybe the fact that a female artist popped up piqued my attention. I had never heard of the song Gray or Blue, or the artist Jaymay, but I enjoyed it last night and hope you will today.

Song of the Day – All the Best (John Prine)

About a month ago I pre-ordered John Prine’s The Singing Mailman Delivers, an album that features his earliest recordings. The collection features two CDs, a studio performance from August of 1970 and a live performance from November of that same year.

The album isn’t suppose to be released until next Tuesday, but the music fairies delivered mine today – and I cannot wait to listen to it. A lot of the songs are ones I haven’t heard before, so it should be an adventure.

While this is not on the recordings, I love this song. I appreciate it’s simplistic beauty, but it also reminds me of an amazing trip to Minneapolis – and that always makes me smile.

For the Love of Josh Ritter

For a reason I’m unsure of now I was seeking a level of anonymity when I first started the blog, which made this a difficult entry to write. But then I realized it doesn’t really matter, as I’ve already shared enough for you to track me down if you wanted. Additionally, I have only written about things I love thus far, so I’m not fearing for my safety (though if I ever get around to writing about why you should not read Visit from the Goon Squad, that could change.)

So, why is the trading of personal information vital to the story of my relationship with the music of Josh Ritter. Well, for the past five years I have been living in Moscow, Idaho. Despite it’s fairly trendy college town atmosphere, it isn’t known for much. But it is known as being the hometown of modern songwriting legend Josh Ritter.

I first read about Ritter in Paste Magazine, as they have long had an affinity for him and his music. And then there was this period of time in which I was only hanging out with Irish folks – and by that time Ritter’s music had already made him huge in Ireland. In fact, he’s so well known in Ireland that when I decided to move here one of my Irish friends said, “Hey, that’s where that Josh Ritter bloke is from,” making this fact one of the first I knew about my new home.

Despite the fact that all signs pointed in the direction of this artist, and I knew that he performed the kind of well-written folk rock that I’m a sucker for, I still hadn’t really been exposed to his music. That is, until the shopping trip that was highlighted in the previous entry when Alexis played me “Girl in the War.”

Two months later I received word that Ritter would be playing a benefit concert in town for one of his former teachers, Jim LaFortune, who was battling cancer. The day of the show brought with it buckets of snow and illness, and I had decided against going. Luckily, I have persistent friends, and those persistent friends have 4wheel drive. So, on a snowy Sunday evening, Mitch, Ali and I headed to the Moscow Junior High School Fieldhouse.

The night was magic. It’s would be impossible to have that experience without coming away with two lessons 1-that community is an incredibly powerful thing, and 2-that music brings people together in the most beautiful ways. The concert had the intimacy of sitting around a campfire, and through the process I felt as if I got to know Josh Ritter as a person and as an artist.

Ritter’s talent as a songwriter is undeniable. He weaves together powerful and beautiful tales of vivid characters that at different times make you laugh, make you fall in love, or break your heart. Paste magazine recognized this skill by including him on their 100 Best Living Songwriters list.

He has mad pride for his homeland, a trait I greatly admire as unofficial ambassador for the great state of Kansas (my home). Anyone that has spent time in Idaho can see the influences of the land in what he sings about and the sounds he puts together. If it is possible to paint a landscape with song, this man knows how.

What I like most about him is that he truly radiates joy when he performs. He often reminds you of a giddy child and seems to almost get lost in the happiness at times. He is incredibly humble, and as an audience you feel his appreciation for you, which makes you feel like you have a more active role in the performance.

This was especially evident in his homecoming, as he was clearly honored to be among childhood friends and families, in the community that he loves, for such an amazing cause. Though most of the concert consisted of just him and a guitar, he also played several songs with a high school student that he said “was the guitarist he wished he was.” He also had the middle school choir sing several songs with him.

Though the evening including many wonderful, magical and touching moments, there were two main highlights for me. The first was when Ritter performed “Idaho.” At that moment I became a fan.

The second was the final song, when he sang “Kathleen.” Jim LaFortune and his wife consider it their song and got up and danced during it. I’m fairly certain there was not a dry eye in the room. I was personally trying to hide my sobs. I just found this online, and cried again…

Unfortunately, a year ago Mr. LaFortune passed away, but not before making one last trip to see Josh Ritter play in Spokane – a trip that Josh Ritter and his family helped to arrange. The blog his wife maintained suggested that even though his health was failing, he did not forget about the concert and possibly lived for it. He passed away a week later. I cried when I got the news. Because of the experience of that concert I felt like I knew Jim LaFortune, and feel honored to have been part of that moment.

So, it’s time for you to jump on board with the Josh Ritter love. Just trust me, that’s the way trends work. Paste magazine ->Ireland->Do Good-ness -> Me->World Domination.

Happy Bob Dylan Day

It’s Bob Dylan Day. A holiday not known or celebrated by anyone but me, but I hope by sharing it you join me in celebration. To my knowledge, it’s not a date of any significance to Mr. Dylan’s life, or to anyone else for that matter.

But last year on this date I saw Bob Dylan perform live. It was a magical experience full of good company, a lot of laughter, magically appearing money, comped tickets, thousands of crazy Cougars (the Mellencamp variety), and let’s not forget Dylan himself. For me it was this amazing a-ha moment, when I suddenly understood the significance of what I was seeing. A living legend perform. A man I would argue is the greatest songwriter of all time. And clearly the foundation to nearly all the artists I love. For some reason I didn’t fully get it until then.

This is the only real proof that we were there. Clearly taken on a phone. But there is something kind of cool about him being all ghost like.

While everyone else heads to the first football game of the season, I am headed home to listen to Dylan on vinyl and read the this copy of Rolling Stone that I kept for the occasion.

And I’m going to love every minute of it.

 

The Crafty Audiophile Festival

I am fascinated by the summer festival season. I follow lineup announcements like it is my job. I strategically plan what I would see at what stage for festivals I am not even attending. I curse festival organizers for putting two of my favorite bands on different stages at the same time. Clearly it has become a bit of a hobby.

I’m not sure why I am so fascinated by festivals. It truly is not the ideal concert going experience for me. For example, I’m so pale that I can get a sunburn just by thinking about the sun. Imagine what 3 or 4 days in it does. I live in an area in which festivals aren’t that accessible. Any festival voyage would take carefully planning, a great deal of travel, and buckets of money. Of the larger, more prominent festivals I’ve only been to Sasquatch, and despite its awesomeness one festival does not a habitual festival goer make.

Luckily, over the past couple of years technology has brought the festivals to us at home. This year I “attended” Coachella through the YouTube live stream, the Telluride Bluegrass Festival through one of their local public radio stations, and Sasquatch, Bonnaroo and others with the help of the lovely folks at NPR.

After reviewing as many of the summer festival schedules as I could get my hands on I decided to construct my fantasy festival lineup. In this dream phase we will just call it The Crafty Audiophile Festival. If dreams were ever to come true it would surely be named something catchy and regionally acceptable depending on its location. (But I wouldn’t try too hard to name it. Despite my love for the home state, Kanrocksas is by far the worst named new festival this year.)

Chosen from what I consider my favorites of this summer’s concert season, the lineup would be…

Day 1 Rock/Indie

  • Foster the People
  • Girl Talk
  • The Black Keys
  • Sleigh Bells
  • Florence & the Machine
  • Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
  • OK Go
  • The New Pornographers
  • The Flaming Lips

Day 2 Americana

  • Delta Spirit
  • The Civil Wars
  • The Head & the Heart
  • Justin Townes Earle
  • Fleet Foxes
  • Gillian Welch
  • Old Crow Medicine Show
  • Alison Krauss
  • Mumford & Sons
  • Robert Plant

Day 3 Folk

  • The Tallest Man on Earth
  • Amos Lee
  • The Avett Brothers
  • Joe Pug
  • The Swell Season
  • Ray Lamontagne
  • Reed Turner
  • Josh Ritter
  • John Prine
  • Paul Simon

Since this is nothing but my personal bias, I of course think this schedule is brilliant. If you happen to also think it’s brilliant and you want to fund a giant festival, let me know. I would be happy to plan it.

Song of the Day – Get Over It (OK Go)

Long before the treadmills, OK Go released a self-titled debut album that featured this song –

We were talking about OK Go at work today and memories of this song popped in my head. In 2003 I road tripped to Kansas City with some friends to see this “hip new band” (we were probably “too cool” to call it that, but same sentiment) play at a small bar called The Hurricane. On the way up to Kansas City one of my travel companions said “the lead singer of OK Go is so hot that I would chop off my right arm to sleep with him.”

The show was great, though I found their original keyboardist to be very creepy (he is no longer with the band), and the entire band even crawled into the audience to play a “love song” so that dancing couples could be featured on stage during it instead. Damian leaned against me during the whole song. The aforementioned travel companion was jealous and 21-year old fan girl me was in heaven.

After the show we went to meet the band – as any fan girl or hopeful musician would do (our group had both). My roommate, Matt, walked up to Damian Kulash and opened with, “I just need you to know that you are so hot I would chop off my right arm to sleep with you.” It was brilliant and we laughed about it for days. Hell, I’m still laughing. The originator did not find it as funny…

Let’s just put it out there, the best part of the video is the table tennis. I love it. But I love this more, which was produced around the same time. This was revolutionary back then in the pre-youtube days, but clearly it was a sign of greatness to come.

I’m pretty sure “catching the children” will always be funny.