Slayed by the Percussion Gun: White Rabbits in Minneapolis

My uncle Jamie is a vocational therapist out in Salem, Oregon. A while back, he related to me the concept of risk and how it relates to developmental wellness. If someone is regularly taking emotional, mental, physical and spiritual risks, generally speaking, they are healthier people on a number of levels.

This doesn’t mean necessarily that individuals should go jump off a cliff or rob a bank. It does mean that people should try to stretch themselves out in all four of these areas as frequently as they can. How far one stretches depends on the person. Saying “Red wine and clits go quite well together” to a group of people at a wine tasting is not much of a risk for me but it could be a huge one for someone else. Hell, in Minnesota simply saying “hi” to someone you don’t know is an emotional risk.

Lately, I’ve noticed myself dragging a bit in the risk department. I started running again in the last year and plan on doing a 5K or two in the next month so I guess that’s something in the physical realm. And I’m still  my outspoken and opinionated self in regards to the topics of politics, sex, and religion which, in the land of rock granite rigidity, is a monumental risk on a number of levels. But I ALWAYS do that. I could hear my uncle’s voice in the background…”find something…take a risk.” For my entire life, I have always thought he was the coolest mother fucker (along with my dad of course) since James Dean so I was more than curious when an opportunity to take an emotional, mental, and spiritual risk…a substantially huge one considering who I am…arose.

I was asked to see a band of whom I had never heard.

Many of you may chuckle at this but for my entire life I have always been the one to dig on the cool, new bands first. I’m the one who cheerleads people into loving (insert Brit Rock band here) and goads people into going to shows with me. Invariably, they love the bands I suggest and I feel quite proud of myself. I led them to the Holy Land….

So when my friend Paul asked me to see White Rabbits, I hesitated at first. “Where are they from?” I asked. “Well, they are based out of New York but I think they are originally from Chicago,” he answered. Hmph, I thought all grumbly, not from the UK.

But I thought of my uncle and something inside of me told me to get a ticket and go. It would be an excellent emotional and mental risk to let someone else drive the Magical Mystery Tour bus for a change. And, since I am convinced that I am Holy Knight of Music, a spiritual risk as well. Perhaps Paul was a Holy Knight and I didn’t know it. He does have a good first name after all:)

I decided to be really daring and not even bother to listen seriously to any of their music. I would not buy either of their CDs and go see the show completely cold. I found out it was at a venue to which I had never been: The Cedar Cultural Center, located in the West Bank area of Minneapolis. Ah yes, even more of a risk…an untested venue with potential sound issues. I did find out, though, much to my delight that the band got their start in Columbia, Missouri. My place of birth…cool! So New York by way of Chicago and Columbia…yeah, I could dig it.

I found out that some other friends were going and, at the last minute, asked my friend Wendy to join. Wendy is an unbelievably cool chick (and accomplished artist) who loves all the same music I do. She had heard some of their songs and was keen to go. After spending an hour and half of cocktails and conversation over at the Cafe formerly known as the Riverside, my friends and I went into the CCC.

I was struck immediately by how much the place looked like a junior high school gymnasium. Wendy remarked that was because of the piano. It had that 1950s school gym look.  We had timed it out just right so we arrived just before White Rabbits were about to go on. I have to admit I was nervous. What if they sucked? What if I got bored? Would I be just a total music snob around my friends if I didn’t like them? As the music started, all of my fears were washed away.

To begin with, White Rabbits have two drummers, which can sometimes morph into three or four drummers as other members of the band set their respective instruments down and hit the skins. The primal pounding coursed through my veins. It was magnificent. This was not a granola drum circle barf fest. These fucking guys knew how to hit the skins and were so tight that THEY could be a metronome for a drum machine.

They could also sing. Man, can these guys sing! I have three words for all of you: Four Part Harmony. And that’s with the relentless and cacophonous drumming going on! The blend of their voices reminded me a lot of the Beach Boys. As the set progressed and I watched the lead singer of the Spin Doctors look-alike (who may have been totally naked) make an asshat out of himself doing a pogo dance down in the pit, I realized that my risk had paid off. This band was fucking amazing. And my uncle, as he has mostly been his whole life, was right. Go through the looking glass, Alice, and there you will find…White Rabbits. Take risks and ye shall be rewarded.

Rewarded with hearing the lead singer of White Rabbits, Stephen Patterson, sing the word “know” in the chorus of “Percussion Gun” and sticking it with such a herculean force that I was slayed. And reminded of a James Brown “HA!”  Rewarded with getting to experience a band live whose music I had never heard. Rewarded with a night of hilarity with friends.

But most of all, being rewarded with letting myself go…not being the music know-it-all…not being the leader…not being in control.

And loving every minute of it.

White Rabbits – Percussion Gun (mp3)

White Rabbits Official Site

Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band on Jimmy Fallon

Okay, so today, Howard Stern played this Nov. 5th clip of Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band on Jimmy Fallon’s show (with Sean Lennon on guitar). Now, I can’t say I’m familiar at all with her brand of avant garde music. There’s one person in my life who I know as a fan, and that’s Gonzo.

It’s hard for me to consider this performance as anything but novel and a tad bizarre. But I have to know, what is the general consensus… what is your opinion of this performance? There must be some of you who enjoyed this? What say you, Gonzo?

By the way, Howard and the gang thought the intro sounded like “Wipeout”.

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Bruce’s Wild & Innocent Night in NYC

Since I saw the Boss way back in April on just the second stop of the tour here in Phoenix, the tour has rolled on across the continent, over to Europe, and back again. Since he’s been back stateside, fans have been treated to shows where Bruce and the Band play entire albums from his catalog. Darkness on the Edge of Town, Born To Run, Born in the USA

But for me, the envy factor really kicked in this weekend with the shows at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Last night, the crowd got Bruce’s second album – 1973’s The Wild, The Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle. Tonight, his classic 1980 double album, The River.

The two (well, three) albums are teeming with some of my all-time favorite Boss tunes: “Incident on 57th Street”, “4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)”, “New York City Serenade”, “The River”, “The Price You Pay”, “Stolen Car”, “Wreck On The Highway”…

In this spoiled & amazing day and age of the internet, it’s possible to sit in the comfort of one’s home and listen to the magic happen – the very next night. That’s exactly what I’m doing right now. And I thought I’d share the joy & magic for those that are interested. Enjoy…

Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band
Madison Square Garden
November 7th, 2009

Part One

Thundercrack
Seeds
Prove It All Night
Hungry Heart
Working on a Dream
The E Street Shuffle [mp3]
4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy) [mp3]
Kitty’s Back [mp3]
Wild Billy’s Circus Story [mp3]

Part Two

Incident on 57th Street [mp3]
Rosalita (Come Out Tonight) [mp3]
New York City Serenade [mp3]
Waitin’ on a Sunny Day
Raise Your Hand
Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?
Glory Days
Human Touch
Lonesome Day
The Rising
Born to Run

Part Three

Wrecking Ball
Bobby Jean
American Land
Dancing in the Dark
Higher and Higher (w/ Elvis Costello)

Here’s Bruce kicking off “The E Street Shuffle”, baton and all…

The Friday Five: November 06, 2009

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Friday Five : ˈfrī-(ˌ)dā,-dē ˈfīv : On the sixth day of every week I hit the shuffle button on my iTunes and share my five and drop a little knowledge and insight for each track. Sometimes there is a playlist involved, sometimes there isn’t. Sometimes we have guest, but most of the time it’s just me. The rest is up to you, our friends and readers! Fire up your media player of choice and share the first five random track of your shuffle in the comments.

Editor’s Note: While short on time, it occurred to me that I always have time for some twitter-sized goodness so this week’s five is all in 140 characters or less. @michaelparr

The Five:

The Jimi Hendrix Experience – “Little Wing” (From Axis: Bold as Love, 1967)

While possibly cliché, this is my favorite Hendrix tune. Simple, soulful and beautiful, this is easily on my desert island song list.

Enuff Z’Nuff – “New Thing” (mp3) (from Enuff Z’Nuff, 1989)

Day-glo attire and pop-metal leanings aside, Enuff Z’Nuff were one of the most underrated power pop bands of the ’80s and ’90s.

Bryan Adams – “Heat of the Night” (from So Far So Good, 1993)

Does anyone truly dislike Bryan Adams? If pressed to name the essential ’80s records, Reckless would always be mentioned in the top 10.

Counting Crows – “Angels of the Silences” (from Recovering the Satellites, 1996)

I recall seeing the band on the Recovering the Satellites tour and how powerful this track is live. Adam is dynamic when he wants to be.

Bon Jovi – “Never Say Goodbye” (mp3) (from Slippery When Wet, 1986)

The ultimate prom song, I look at this record and wonder how it is that 23 years later this band is still flogging the same dead horse.

What’s your Five?

Street Songs

We’ve spent all this time building up our digital music libraries, so why not tinker around with them a bit and have some fun? Last week I explored tunes that clocked in at 2:28. This week, I take it to the streets.

The exercise this week is to locate your street songs. I’m not talkin’ lanes, avenues, roads, courts, and the like. Nuh-uh. I’m talkin’ Streets.

What’s more, I’m looking for songs that are simply names of Streets. “Oak Street”, “Main Street”, “This Street”, “That Street”. So that leaves out a lot of quality tunes obviously (“Positively 4th Street”, “Incident on 57th Street”, to name a couple). I’m interested to see what other “Street” gems are out there. So use the Search area of your favorite media player, look for some “___ Street” songs, and drop some into the comments.

Me? I came up with 17 streets. Here are four of my tops…

  • Christian St. (mp3) – Marah | An ode to their hometown of Philadelphia, this is on Marah’s 2nd album, Kids in Philly. It’s my favorite Marah album – just bristling with life. I spent the better part of the year 2000 with this record.
  • Straylin Street Pete Droge | From Pete’s ’94 album, Necktie Second.
  • Great Jones Street Luna | Never owned any other Luna albums other than Bewitched, but this song is a soft stunner. They had me at Great.
  • Cherry Street – JJ Cale | From JJ’s latest, Roll On (a concept album about deodorant. Just kidding.).

The Others…

Alphabet Street – Prince
Boogie Street – Leonard Cohen
Dominick St. – Steve Earle
Grafton Street – Nancy Griffith
Grey Street – Dave Matthews Band
Highway One Zero Street – Joe Strummer
Lonely Street – Bap Kennedy
Love Street – World Party
Meadowlake Street – Ryan Adams
Rain Street – The Pogues
Shakedown Street – Grateful Dead
Shouting Street – Joe Strummer
South Street – The Orlons