Archive for November, 2008

And This

Posted in Uncategorized on November 17, 2008 by johnbuckley100

Courtesy of Carl Hutzler.


Alejandro At The Mansion on O Street

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on November 17, 2008 by johnbuckley100

From Carl Hutzler, whose great shots of the event can be found following the link in the post below.



Alejandro Escovedo’s O Street House Party

Posted in Music with tags , , , on November 17, 2008 by johnbuckley100

Ain’t nothin’ but a house party that Alejandro put on at the O Street Mansion in D.C. last night.  By the time he got to “Pissed Off 2AM,” his voice was a little ragged, and so it should be, when you’ve played your heart out for a stadium arena — actually, for an intimate gathering of 100 lucky fans.  Because they were filming for a yet-to-be-announced project, it seemed like Alejandro, Susan Voelz, and David Pulkingham ramped up their set with even greater tension, simultaneously more precise and wilder in their abandon.  If the highlights from last Sunday’s show at the Birchmere were “Everybody Loves Me” and “Deerhead On The Wall,” last night the highlights were “I Was Drunk” and “Chelsea Hotel.”  Not to mention “All The Young Dudes,” sung while standing about four inches from the crowd.  This portion of Alejandro’s version of the Never Ending Tour having concluded, we look forward to his return with the whole rocking ensemble.  And since he deserves to play in stadiums, if that’s where he wants his next house party to be, we’ll show up there, too.

(If possible, will post some of Carl Hutzler’s superb photos later.  If not, go here to see them:

If You’re Writing About Calexico…

Posted in Uncategorized on November 14, 2008 by johnbuckley100

Editor: If you’re writing about Calexico, shouldn’t you have a picture of Monument Valley?

Tulip Frenzy writer: Well, okay, but what’s next, a portrait of Keenan Wynn?

(Leica M8, 18mm Wide Angle Tele-Elmar)


Cue The Calexico Art

Posted in Uncategorized on November 14, 2008 by johnbuckley100

The art director at Tulip Frenzy World HQ thought we should add a little atmosphere from the dusty Southwest.  So here’s this: Leica M8, 50mm Summilux. DNG converted in Lightroom, but goosed with a Velvia plug-in in CS2.


Calexico Beams Border Radio From The 930 Club

Posted in Music with tags , , on November 14, 2008 by johnbuckley100

Cap-it-al Radio: Joey Burns and John Convertino set up the pirate transmitter not one mile from the White House last night, and beamed their cross-border cultural mashup to a 1000 anxious fans.  The brilliant Carried To Dust, which ranks high on Tulip Frenzy’s office playlist, was explored almost in its entirety, though they dipped into their saddlebags to pull out treasures from Feast of Wire and the whole arid ouevre. These guys are brilliant musicians, and Burns is a really good singer — his voice runs patterns inside the wide-out routes covered by Gary Louris.  The highlight, of course, was the way their Fear-And-Whisky-era-Mekons-meets-Herb Alpert sensibility added a mild salsa spice to an otherwise bowl of chili.

When you think that these guys were carved more than a decade ago from a stray mound of Giant Sand, and that in those days, they hadn’t even added the Sergio Leone horns, it’s a wonder.  The mathematical precision of the two trumpets playing in unison conjures visions of a sunburned Johann Sebastian Bach, stumbling through the salt flats with a mescal buzz, conducting the horn section with his sunglasses askew.  I’ve never before witnessed a whistled solo, but these guys did it, and you could hear the horse being slapped on its rump while Zapata rode til dawn.  Andale!

Joey Burns alternated between a white Palomino of an electric guitar and his acoustic built to scale for a Mexican teenager, and John Convertino put on a seminar on how to use brushes and the snare with little regard for the tom toms.  “Two Silver Trees” was a little flatter than on the album, but “Writers Minor Holiday” was like the soundtrack to a Roberto Bolano novel.  You could see why so many musicians have hired them to be their studio band, could understand why half of the I’m Not There tracks were recorded with these guys underneath.  And yet when it came time for Calexico to take a star turn, to stand astride their rising career like a bandito on the final quarter mile ride to the saloon, they were plenty comfortable in the moonlight.

The Alejandro Escovedo Trio Is Heavier Than Motorhead

Posted in Music with tags , , , on November 10, 2008 by johnbuckley100

The protean Alejandro Escovedo formed his act into a power trio last night at the Birchmere.  Maybe when we say power trio you think of Cream, or the Jimi Hendrix Experience, or everybody’s favorite, Beck, Bogert and Appice.  And yeah, this amalgam was just as thundering, only it was just Al on acoustic, Dave Pulkingham on the same, and Susan Voelz, as always, on the fiddle.

It’s been a winter tradition in these here parts for Alejandro to show up with cellos and Ms. Voelz and Mr. Pulkingham, taking all these erstwhile rockers out for a chamber-music spin.  (Warmer parts of the year, at least since Al regained his health, are dedicated to him touring with his rock band.  Though Alejandro Escovedo manages his personnel they way Bob Dole managed his presidential campaigns, which is to say, when he can’t figure which team to ride — the rockers or the stringed quartet — he just makes them all work together.  For Alejandro, a successful approach.  For Dole, not so much.  And it is, of course –Alejandro’s rock bands every bit as much as Dole’s campaigns — a spectacle: the cellos choogling, Victor Munoz walloping the skins, one, no two, no three electric guitars fighting for air.)  But then last year at about this time he dropped one cellist and came to the Barns at Wolf Trip as a foursome. And then last night it was just the three of them, and damn if they didn’t put out just as much of a sonic hum, though without the cello for ballast, the whole thing seemed to ride higher on the waves.

“Drop a penny in the Indian Ocean,” he sang in the opener, the stunning “Way It Goes,” from 1992’s Thirteen Years, and quickly gone were any doubts about whether Al, playing in just a threesome, would be giving something up.  “Everybody Loves Me” was as great as it is on Room Of Songs, but that version’s performed by a five piece orchestra, and this version had just the three, so they tripled their effort and expended a precisely identical thermal reading.  Lots of songs from Real Animal, which does appear to have been something of a breakthrough, and not just artistically.  We got to hear about the “Chelsea Hotel ’78,” and yeah, it rocked.  And then there was the version of “Deer Head On The Wall,” with its opening interlude out of Lou Reed’s “Street Hassle,” quickly shifting into a song that sounds okay on The Boxing Mirror, really good when he has the whole rock band cranked up, but last night, with just the three of them, damn near levitated the roof into the Reagan Airport flight path.

Maybe a few people can tell anecdotes that mention Johnny Thunders showing up — it’s a pretty good name to drop — and it is possible there are others who, like Alejandro, will always mention Joe Strummer at their concerts (I don’t think I’ve ever heard him forget him, which tells you just about all you need to know.)  Anyone can play a Stones cover.  But who other than Alejandro Escovedo would take his trio into the crowd and play “Evening Gown,” from Mick Jagger’s best solo album?  Who else would even admit he listens to Mick Jagger’s solo albums?

The man is a national treasure.  Thank Heaven he is healthy and well.  And coming back to DC next weekend to play a show before a hundred people in the Mansion on O Street.  Special as last night was, could this upcoming show top it?

All Saints Day

Posted in Uncategorized on November 1, 2008 by johnbuckley100

Leica M8, 35 Summilux at f/1.4.

Notional Velvet Underground: What The Late Show In Heaven Sounds Like

Posted in Music with tags , , , on November 1, 2008 by johnbuckley100

There are times when I listen to a song and it makes me think of the Velvet Underground.  Brian Jonestown Massacre.  Luna. Mazzy Star.  Jesus and Mary Chain.  You get that, right?  The Feelies, Modern Lovers.  That case is easy to make.  And then I’ll listen to a song like the version of Dylan’s “Most of The Time” that’s on the 3rd CD of Tell Tale Signs and it makes me think, swear to God, of the VU.  And then I go and listen to the Velvets themselves and they don’t sound anything like my notional Velvet Underground.  What is that?

There was a story going around in 1969 about the groupie in LA who would sleep with guys and say, “Well, he’s good, but he’s not Mick Jagger.”  And then she slept with The Mick and her take was, “Well, he’s good, but he’s not Mick Jagger.”  Myth and reality.  But in this case, the question is: was there ever a reality to the Velvet Underground?   Eno’s line that only 1000 people bought the first Velvet Underground album, but they all formed bands is, of course, on some level true. And not all the bands sounded like the Velvets, but they’re all connected, in some way, at some level.  But what does it actually mean to sound like the Velvet Underground?  

For me the quintessential VU sound came on the 3rd album, with songs like “What Goes On” and the delicate “Pale Blue Eyes,” and “Beginning To See The Light.”  There’s a residue of folk and Motown and Farfisa organ-based garage rock.  And to me, this sound shows up everywhere from Van Morrison’s “TB Sheets” to the Talking Heads’ “The Good Thing.”  

Is it Sterling Morrison’s guitar sound?  That’s a lot of it.  That and the simple, propulsive drumming of Moe Tucker, the organ overlay.  Sterling Morrision’s echoes can be heard in everything from Luna (not just when he sat in with them) to William Reid of JAMC to the BJM for sure.  But how to account for the fact that when I put together a Velvets-sounding playlist, I put on it bands like the Warlocks, who are of a completely different school, who were beamed to Earth from a whole different constellation?

Here’s the playing order (bands, not songs) of my Velvets playlist: Pere Ubu, Modern Lovers, BJM, JAMC, Warlocks, Luna, The Darkside, Mazzy Star, Dylan, Neko Case, The Stems, Galaxie 500,The Feelies, Van Morrison.  Not a lot in common between them all, but they all plug in, in the songs contained therein, to the Velvets amp.  Who am I missing?

Another thing that’s weird: Lou Reed has a very distinctive song structure, or at least the solo artist Lou did.  And yet few, if any of the bands referenced sound like Lou.  It’s almost like the Velvets sound of mental myth is Lou-less.  Weird.

All I know is that, having never seen the Velvet Underground, but having seen the three fictional film versions — in The Doors, I Shot Andy Warhol, and Factory Girl — I have some sense of what the late show in Heaven sounds like.  Angus McLeish may sit in on drums for a song or two.  Peter Laughner will be there on guitar.  Mark Smith will curse and spit on stage.  Dean Wareham waits his turn near the amps.  And we’ll have a real good time together.

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