I can’t Dance.

The Foo Fighters was the first cd I bought but I think this Genesis album was the first cassette tape I purchased on my own. I’d imagine a big part of my choice was due to this video which I found really funny then and still, although for probably different reasons because now it just is goofy.

I’ve never been a good dancer, regardless of how much beer I’ve consumed. It’s always been something I’ve observed at bars, parties, concerts, and really anywhere. I am jealous of people who can actually dance because I feel pretty inadequate while trying to shake a leg next to them. Granted, I think that dancing is good for you regardless of your skill level because you take a few minutes to forget the stress of the world while having some fun  and burning some calories. Who knows, maybe you will slide onto a dance floor somewhere and have similar moves to your one true mate in the world. Doubtful, but possible.

Dwight Yoakam is slowly becoming one of my favorite country artists because of the type of music he was playing in the time period, the 1980’s, when country was really in a terrible place.

This post came to me because of a show my band played on Saturday night in the same coastal tourist town my brother had one of his first jobs at a gas station, probably about the same time he drove the Ford LTD Wagon.  We had done a show the night before in Portland, Maine at a hipster bowling alley that had gone fairly well, except for the fact that the opening band played longer than we did because of scheduling SNAFUs.

Our expectations were pretty low for a beach town in mid-March with two feet of snow on the ground, but strange things do happen. A sight-seeing trolley, whose existence in these conditions is a mystery in itself, dropped fifty people off so we switched our faster second set with our slower first set and a bonafide dance party ensued. Literally, a conga line formed during “As Fast as You”, which was something we’d never seen before and never will again most likely.

I went to a lot of jam band shows in college and there was a lot of hippie dancing.

The rest of the show was great and we got paid extra because we kept the dance floor doing all night, even to Pink Floyd’s “Money” which is pretty hard to dance to due to its odd 7/8 time signature. It got me thinking about the different way people dance, the various skill levels, and why we dance at all. At our shows, you see a lot of older folks doing a similar dance where they stick their butt out and wave it around while waving their arms out a little. It’s sort of similar to the typical hippie dance where you spin around in a circle with your arms out like a bird or a 747 like my brother compared it to once when we were imitating it in a subway in NYC.

White people dancing to hip hop has always been  source of amusement to me. I don’t want to make it a race thing, but from my observation, black people are far better dancers than their white brothers. There are exceptions of course.

I have been to a few hip hop shows, most notably Wu Tang Clan, and most of the people in the crowd do a similar dance. You know the dance, where you jump up and down and occasionally put your arms up and fan the air like you are trying to put out a fire when actually you just are feeling the vibes of the beat. I’ve seen this at parties from high school up to the present time and it feels great. We all do it, even those who detest hip hop, because it’s fun and puts you into party mode. Probably the best part of dancing is the amount of time you spend not thinking about anything except the music, moving, and having a good time. Like the LCD Soundsystem song, you can dance yourself clean.

Music can truly help you dance yourself into feeling fresh and new, or  even clean. Of course, when you are all sweaty after, you could actually clean up.

I think if the only thing you get out of dancing is a short vacation from reality, then that’s a good thing. I have read many rock and roll biographies in the last few years and I just finished Cross to Bear by Gregg Allman which details a lot of drug abuse and poor treatment of those around him. The most salient point is that nowadays, if all Gregg can do is give his still numerous concert goers a few hours where they don’t think about the problems in their lives, then he considers it a job well done. Regardless of the complexity of music, isn’t this what we are all looking for in our music? A distraction from the rigors of daily life?

The slam dancing of Primus shows back in the day has given away to much more hippie dancing as they have moved into jammier tunes, but there was a brief time when I enjoyed the mosh pits. Even Les doesn’t like them anymore and calls people out on the mike when they get too rowdy during their current shows.

So I will probably never be a good dancer, but that will not stop me from trying. Whether it be old person dancing, hippie dancing, rap dancing, or even light moshing, it’s fun for everyone involved. Don’t worry if you can’t dance, Phil Collins probably can’t either and that hasn’t stopped him from becoming super famous.

Ideal Vacation

I would love to go on a hunting trip somewhere exotic, however, I only want to kill things I will definitely eat so this would be difficult if I went to Africa or somewhere far away. Also, it’s kind of elitest to go on trophy hunts and since my rationale for not golfing or skiing is my aversion to elitism in any form, this would be hypocritical.

I just got back from a pretty sweet little vacation where I saw my brother, his family, shot some shotguns and spent way too much time on airplanes. It got me thinking about a few things, the first being that I should really take more trips. I have a real job now and my finances are better aligned so money is not the problem. Also, I thought that I have taken very few real vacations in my life, like where you go somewhere tropical and just relax for several days and have no responsibilities or agenda.

I remember one family trip to Fort Lauderdale as a youth where we had cockroaches in the hotel and watched TV Land all night. The only other time I can remember was going to Europe with my ex-girlfriend in college where we traveled around England, France and the Netherlands.  I’m not even sure I could handle a tropical vacation even with the stressors we have as adults in this modern era.

I’ve never been down under but I’d sure like to go. Men at Work has quite a few songs that are good on this album and you should check it out if you can. I have two copies on vinyl, which is probably excessive. 

It got me thinking that I should really take a vacation sometime. I could use the relaxation and the geography change, especially in winter here in Maine. One thing my brother and I often talk about it when it comes to vacations is how so many people take them because they think they “deserve it”. Where does this notion come from? Like, how does one draw the conclusion that because they work everyday, they have somehow earned two weeks of zero responsibilities?

Obviously it’s fine to take a vacation and you certainly have the right to spend your time/money anywhere you want, but no one “deserves” anything in a world where slavery still exists, child labor too, extreme poverty and all the other evils of the world stream on CNN news twenty four hours a day. You get what you get and hopefully you earned it.

I think it’s emblematic of our societal self-absorbed consciousness, wherein we perceive all of our lives to so be so difficult that we need a bi-yearly break from jobs. I disagree and the Elder J does too. I mean if you are a soldier, a cop, a doctor in an ER or any other incredibly stressful job, maybe you do deserve a break, But by and large, I think this whole idea that people “deserve” vacations is narcissistic bullshit.

Clearly, I needed to include some hip hop and it’s even better because this dude is from Maine. I mentioned Spose to my brother while in Texas, his funny rhymes and use of the pan flute. Also, it plays into the idea of people thinking they are so important that they deserve a vacation. Lastly, I am awesome.

Ultimately, everyone has a right to their own opinion and so if they think they “deserve” a vacation, so be it. The Elder and I can silently judge them and move on with our lives. Now the point of this post is for me to visualize my own ideal vacation, apart from heading to Texas to see my brother’s family, which was great. I think it’d be have to be a place of mild temperature and weather patterns. It’d have to have some nice scenery I could gaze at and at least one person I don’t see that often in the vicinity of my travel destination. Furthermore, I’d like to bring my bass and have people around with which to play music, preferably vastly different from the music I play in my band.

Les Claypool, of Primus fame and clearly one of my idols, has started this  countryish duo that tours the world’s smaller venues doing Primus songs, originals and oddball covers like this one. I read an interview where he says that his creativity is like a shark and it has to keep swimming or it will die which is why he’s always switching from Primus to other bands. As he said, no one wants a dead shark living in their brain. This is a great defense for why people need vacations!

Also, I would need activities all the time, at least during the day. This is what attracts me about fishing or hunting trips because you have a common goal with whatever group is involved that gives each day structure.  You get up early, have breakfast, go about whatever the goal may be and then you all go back to a central location at night where you eat dinner, relax and recount the day. This would be the perfect time to pull out some instruments and do some picking, maybe even have a cold beer or a cocktail. I’m not sure I could do a tropical vacation because there is too much time where you are supposed to lie around in the sun. I can’t handle that and I know again the Elder J agrees with me here.

Maybe I just need to go up north in Maine for  a week next year because except the instruments, this sounds like trips of my youth “upta camp”. I just need to get a group of people together. Anyway, Keller Williams is a one man band who uses loopers and various pedals to create unique walls of sound. He was a mainstay of my college years both in jamming out to him in the dorm room and going to see his shows of which I must have seen at least seven. I haven’t looked into his career in a while but I hope he’s still blowing people’s minds.

Besides tasty food and the chance of romantic distraction, I think I have described everything in my ideal vacation. So maybe it’s time Brother that we plan a trip like this somewhere before our lives truly are too busy for even the suggestion of such a trip. Not that I won’t keep trying to come south to visit you and your family, but it’d be cool to take a “real” vacation with some people I’d actually want to talk to for days at a time.

Maybe we could get Professor G and one of my friends who you can stand and start looking at locations so maybe by 2015 we can have at least geography nailed down. No, we may not deserve it, but perhaps that is all in the eye of the beholder. Hey, maybe you can even bring your new gun. I leave you with an obvious musical choice and the message that everyone should take a vacation when they think they need to, even if it’s fifteen minutes with flappy bird.

Yeah this song is bad but hey, it ties my post together. These girls are pretty crazy, check out their VH1 special sometime.

Oatmeal Stout Playlist

Winter has sucked but it seems to be looking up. I just might be getting a real job soon and, a few weeks ago, I got a free keg from a pretty reputable local brewery.

Now how does one get a free keg? It was an odd turn of events with multiple excruciating moves of a very heavy keg of Oatmeal Stout and the continual drunkenness of my illustrious neighbor whom I have written on before. Basically, the neighbor gets the post brew grain from aforementioned local brewery and feeds it to his various livestock. The chickens seem to eat anything; however,  the pigs turn their nose up at it. After doing snow removal a few weeks ago, my neighbor/boss tricked me into going to help him pick up the grain.

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Fender Studio Bass Amp

I wrote a while back about my first guitar, a’58 Reissue Fender Precision Bass. I love this thing more at this point, mostly because I have been learning more how to tweak the tone and get different stuff out of it and have been lucky in getting opportunities to play it out in front of people.  At our big show last week, two different bass players came up to me to say my bass was sick and what the hell was I using for an amp. I was incredibly lucky to find an amazing amp for an excellent price right before our first show as a whole band last year and right in my back yard basically.

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My Musical Mentors: Hippie Neighbor # 1

 

The only people who influenced my musical knowledge and appreciation more than my parents and my brother were my hippie neighbors. Until recently, the house the Elder J and I grew up in was the only house in the midst of a few thousand acres of old logging land that had largely grown back. Now, there are some encroaching neighbors along the road and elsewhere but until about 8 years ago, this was our domain. It was so private, that not only did my father routinely walk the dog in his underwear when we ere very young, I also used to shoot cans with my .22 from my bedroom window.

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Prime Cuts of Primus

Prime Cuts of Primus

I don t believe in Pinochle

And I don’t believe I’ll try

I do believe in Captain Crunch

For I am the Frizzle Fry”

Primus has been one of my favorite bands since I was a kid and I try to expose everyone I know to their music. The majority of people cannot handle it for more than a couple songs saying it’s too intense or busy or even just lying to me and saying they just want to hear something else.  I feel bad for these people as I think everyone could like them if they put in the time. Or not. Ultimately, I don’t care who likes them as they are one of the most unique bands to exist and we are all lucky to have them here on Earth. Their funky style of heavy rock draws from countless sources and sounds like nothing else out there. Their fans are diehard and some of them are scarily dedicated to a truly cult band. People love them or hate them. Primus sucks and this is why.

As a side note, many people yell “Primus Sucks” at shows because they very much do not suck. This is what I assume anyway but I read on the Primus blog recently that Les wants this to end so we will see how far that goes. It’s the thing to do, like yelling “Hot Fuckin Tuna” or “Freebird”. If this entry elicits any interest in the band, please take  some time getting to know the band as I am sure you will at least come to admire them. Also, I intend to give a synopsis of the band in four lines or less to fill in your own gaps. Primus has been around over twenty years and is headed by the mammoth bass player Les Claypool and  Larry Lalonde as the guitarist from the beginning. The drummers have changed continually with Jay Lane now in the line up. Their music is hard to identify genre wise but it’s all based around Claypool’s unreal bass playing and eclectic lyrics. Ok I lied, it was five lines.

My first memory of Primus is vague. My sister’s friend Carl, who actually was my brother’s friend first and who apparently wanted my sister but was significantly and creepily older than her, brought over a Primus VHS that started with “John the Fisherman”.  I think it wad that song anyway and there was a boat. I must have been 7 or so as I look at the dates and I remember instantly loving the bass heavy music. It was unlike anything I had ever heard and I remember bobbing my head along with the music. It didn’t have the typical guitar lines with a bass line that followed with root notes and the occasional flourish. The bass was out front and the drums were going apeshit while the guitar made various cool noises. I didn’t know any of this jargon at the time but as I look back, these are the things that draw me to the band. It must have been a collection of videos taped off TV because I just watched the video for the above mentioned song and that’s definitely what I saw. It’s still cool almost twenty years later and I see why I still love the band from that first vague glimmer.

I vividly remember hearing “Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver” on my sister’s boom box from the new “alternative” radio station from the city not too far from our rural home. This station was sick at the beginning: they didn’t play any commercials and it was music you would nohttps://thebrothersj.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=917&action=editt hear anywhere else at the time. This is way before iTunes and YouTube and I didn’t get to hear this song again until my sister bought the album, the one and only Primus album any of my siblings ever owned. Maybe that’s another reason I liked them so much, albeit subconsciously. I always took my brother’s cds and this was one I took from my sister when she realized she hated every other song on the disc. Her loss and my gain as this the song is one of all choice cuts. The high pitched noise reminds me now of pigs squealing and the guitar solos are clearly Jerryesque. Nothing I love more than some farm animals and Dead homage’s. That sounds a lot weird written out then it did in my head. As a final note, I am still not sure if this song is a euphemism for female genitalia or an actual reference to a beaver.

I didn’t get to really like Primus, like super fan style, until towards the end of high school. A good friend at that time, who later ended up spending some time in a federal penitentiary, had been going to Ozzfest since it’s inception. I went to ’03 with him and and still have the scars on my knees to prove it.  He had caught Primus in 1999 and been a diehard fan ever since . he would always play the Brown Album over and over in his piece of shit Oldsmobile that he always drove at the top speed it could handle without rattling apart.  Specifically, he dug on “Shake Hands with Beef” and would always yell the lyrics along with Les and pound his fist on the crumbling dashboard.The whole album is good, albeit different than other Primus albums in content and sound.  But every Primus album is different and that’s another reason I really like them. My friend is still in trouble with the law and I rarely see him but I hope he still likes Primus.

College was really when I became the super fan. Even more so than high school, I think college is really where you become who you are and discover your true tastes. I also met Adam sophomore year and he was a huge Primus fan. The fall we became friends, we drank a lot of beer and talked a lot about music. One weekend, we ended up going back to his apartment after a party and alienating all the people who we were with by putting on a DVD of the 2003 Tour De Fromage.  . Primus’s music can be very abrasive and dissonant, coupled with some downright scary lyrics like the tale of killing a man with an aluminum baseball bat for having bad breath in “My Name is Mud”.  It just isn’t for some people and I think this is one of the many reasons I like the band. It would become a regular thing throughout college to listen to Primus after drinking all night and once I found my girlfriend that I with for 75% of college, she also became a Primus fan. This only fueled my growing fandom of the band.  Adam has turned out to be one of my best friends and rarely does us hanging out not result in some Primus being played or at least discussed. More on him next paragraph.

So I didn’t get to see Primus until 2010 but I got to see them twice, once in Vermont and again in Boston. They are now in a permanent position in my top five favorite bands. I’ve seen Les Claypool five times and he has some various extremely talented musicians back him up on his solo material on instruments ranging from the cello to the vibraphones. Perhaps I’ll write about Les solo in the future, but now I want to focus on Primus. All the Les shows were precursors to the truly soul shaking experience of seeing Primus. Both shows were seen with Adam and we were like two little boys jumping up and down for two hours, completely ignoring the multiple friends who joined us in Vermont and full on converting the one friend in Boston. Les commands your attention without being obnoxious, literally making your chest and head pound with his funky and thunderous bass lines. Larry’s guitar playing, coupled with Jay’s frenetic drum beats, leaves a deep grove that you can’t kick post show. Some day I will write about my top five favorite live shows and I can assure you Primus will be near the top. Word is a new album is coming out and they are touring everywhere except the Northeast this summer, a total bummer, But I’ll see them again, that is for sure.

I like Primus for a variety of reason. First, not a single other band sounds like them. That means more than anything to me in this world of listening to top 40 hits and not knowing when the songs start or end. I look for truly unique music and love when I can find it. Their funky and heavy mix of sound appeals to me because it has a way of getting into you and making you move. I was literally jumping around my office area two minutes ago while listening to a live cut of “Tommy the Cat”. Second, not a lot of people like them. Is this one of those I like them because I want to separate myself from the popular pack? No, it’s because it takes time and can be difficult to listen to this band and other true fans have put in the same amount of time as I have. Whenever you meet a fan, it’s like you’re instantly friends and I find that to be a great honest feeling. Third, I love the bass and have been playing one for the past year pretty much so I can try and be like Les, some day anyway. I can play two Les riffs and counting. Fourth, I find Les ’s lyrics to be very funny and at times, very identifiable to me and my own life. I mean the fishing, redneck, and car references. I also mean the song about the Department of Motor Vehicles and the endless other idiosyncratic lyrics. A lot of people refer to them as nonsensical but I doubt they know enough to really make a viable comment on the matter. Lastly, their live show is amazing, absolutely riveting and unlike anything I’ve ever seen. I probably seem like a semi obsessed freak at this point but I don’t care. Everyone has a band like this, just look at my brother and They Might Be Giants,a similar band and motive in why he likes them so much. I end this post with one of their trippier cuts that kills it live and the message that if you like a weird band, embrace them and spread the word.

Live Music

I have been very lucky in the amount of live music I’ve seen over the years. It had something to do with my siblings, my choice in friends and my choice in college. All three linked to give me the opportunity to see a wide variety of shows in a wide variety of places.

My first show besides seeing my brother’s band, as far as I can remember, was Guster at a bar in Portland, Maine when I was in seventh grade. They still rocked the bongos and at my young age, anything with older people was cool. I remember being very tired but enjoying it nonetheless. The opening band was called “Smokin Grass” and I didn’t understand what the lead singer of Guster meant by saying “Only seven more hours to 4:20” before the first song. Everyone laughed so I pretended to get it and followed suit.

Both my siblings took me to many shows over the course of my teenage years and I am a very lucky man because even if you don’t love the band, it is always an experience that you learn something from, even if it’s as simple as not ever buying food from a bar with dirt on the walls.

My brother brought me to many of his various bands shows and smaller local acts in Boston where he went to college. My sister brought me to singer/songwriter type of music and white boy reggae type stuff like Dispatch, the first and only show besides George Clinton in 2009 that I have walked out on. To Dispatch’s credit, they are a really good band, I just wanted to smoke cigarettes out front and the venue would not allow you to come back in if you chose to do this. Lame.

As for the Atomic Dog himself, it just got really boring after the twenty minutes of “Maggot Brain” and George was barely moving. He little just flapped his hands up and down. Christ, I know he’s not young and apparently very fat, but at least have the decency to go to rehab or quit touring. I will get into worst shows ever at a later date.

 

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Why are they Giants?

I only know one thing for sure about They Might be Giants and that is that my brother the Elder loves them and has for as long as I can remember. I don’t think there are many bands I have liked consistently from a young age. In fact, the only two I can think of are Zeppelin and the Beatles but even that’s not the same because the eras of the two bands that I really like changes constantly. Sometimes I want early 70’s acoustic Zep instead of later more experimental stuff and once in a while I’ll listen to the early poppy Beatles instead of the super trippy stuff I normally take from later on the 60’s. I think the Elder likes They Might Be Giants all the way through and, although I don’t share his enthusiasm, I certainly respect his fortitude.

The only personal connection with the band I have is the one song I love by them, “Particle Man”. I had heard the song from my brother at some point but I really knew it from a Tiny Tunes episode where the cartoon characters actually act out the lyrics. It is funny and very well done. I believe “Istanbul, Not Constantinople” was also done in this way but I’d never had the same regard for that song.

My sophomore year of college was a big year. It was the year I declared my major and the year I met the girl I’d date for all of college and graduate school only to break up right before I received my master’s degree. Also, it was the year I partied the most and one song I had to hear after hours of Dead and Allman Brothers tunes was this song (“Particle Man”). It always provoked me to make some type of crazy dance and yell the lyrics which made absolutely zero sense to me. It is supposed to be about characters in the most literal sense, according to Wikipedia. I am not sure what that means.

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