New Music Friday: Nandi Bushell Official Theme Song by Dave Grohl

My friend texted me the other day telling me I should make this my New Music Friday song this week. Although there are a couple other songs that came out today that I could have written about I didn’t feel overly compelled to write about any of them, so I’m taking her up on her suggestion.

If you’re unfamiliar with the story Nandi Bushell is a 10 year old girl who is a great drummer and who challenged Dave Grohl from the Foo Fighters to a drum off. It went viral on social media and he responded eventually declaring her the winner of round one. Then he wrote this song for her with his kids. You can read about the whole thing in this article.

I do not care one little bit about the Foo Fighters’ music. It is not for me, but Dave Grohl from what I can tell is a super awesome guy. After 1000 people in Cesena, Italy recorded a version of “Learning to Fly” to convince the Foo Fighters to come play a concert in their city Dave Grohl responded and they eventually did. He also once finished off a concert after breaking his leg in the middle of the show when stage diving. He just pulled up a chair and kept going so as not to disappoint the fans.

He also made some really excellent music documentaries in the fantastic documentary film Sound City about Sound City Studios and Sonic Highways an HBO docuseries, which explores the musical history of various American cities. I highly recommend them both if you if you have never seen them.

So my point is that even though I don’t really care for the Foo Fighters’ music myself and I will probably never listen to this particular song again, I am really happy that guys like Dave Grohl exist in the world to help bring us all a little joy.

New Music Friday: Turntables by Janelle Monae

I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about here today. I didn’t come into today with anything in mind and after listening to NPR Music’s New Music Friday podcast and what Spotify had to offer me in my Release Radar playlist I still wasn’t really feeling anything. Then right as I was finishing my walk this morning WXPN played Janelle Monae’s new song “Turntables”, which is from the forthcoming documentary All In: The Fight for Democracy. It was just the song I was looking for this morning because I really need to believe that the tables are in fact about to turn and that there is a more just America on the horizon. I’ll be over here listening to this on repeat.

Another Good Things Roundup

I’m still here trying to make sure I find the good in all the terrible that is happening. So here’s another list of some of the things that have brought me joy in the past few weeks.

  1. Beautiful Labor Day weekend weather. I literally could not have asked for better weather. The whole weekend of was gorgeous. I spent about 4 hours hanging out with a friend outside on Saturday and several hours outside reading in my hammock on Monday. Beautiful weather always makes things feel better.
  2. As I just mentioned I spent time hanging out with a friend on Saturday. Other than a few minutes when I dropped off some drinks back at her house in May I hadn’t seen her in person since March. We both got take out from different restaurants in the neighborhood and then sat outside camped out under some trees in the shade in the back of my house. It was so nice to spend time with her.
  3. And speaking of the grassy area behind my house, it has been a real life saver in these times. I don’t really have a yard to speak of. We had what was a small concrete patio that we have since had jackhammered up and turned into a proper parking pad. Many of our neighbors have also turned their outdoor space into a parking pad as well, so we have all started treating this patch of grass that separates our rowhouses from the parking lot behind them as our communal backyard. A couple people have strung up hammocks between trees. I’ve seen people sitting out there under the trees working. I and others have used it to gather outdoors with friends. In the before times it was pretty much only used for people to walk their dogs. It’s still used a lot for that, but it’s nice to see that it has taken on a new life.
  4. Carryout french fries that aren’t terrible. For my takeout lunch on Saturday I got a shrimp salad sandwich with friends from Rocket to Venus. They have handcut fries that are always kind of limp, so they were actually still pretty good and similar to their normal state even as carry out. I’ve found all the other carry out fries I’ve had since this started to be pretty terrible because as soon as they throw them in a take out container and shut it the steam builds up and makes them soggy. It’s nice to know I can get some fries that still taste pretty much like they’re supposed to instead of questioning why I’m continuing to eat cold, soggy fries that don’t taste very good.
  5. While we’re on the subject of food, you may recall in my last good things round up post that I mentioned getting biscuits from blacksauce kitchen and that I had yet to eat the peach biscuit this year, though I was sure I was going to eat one soon. I did in fact eat one since then, but even better blacksauce and the Charmery collaborated and created a roasted peach and buttermilk biscuit ice cream. Two things I love put into one delicious treat. What could be better?
  6. Pretty much since the pandemic started and artists had to leave their tours Amos Lee has been doing a weekly Thursday night concert on Instagram Live. It’s something I look forward to listening to every week. Most artists are playing online for tips or trying to raise money for some cause. He never seemed to be taking money for anything that I could tell, so I asked once and he said he was just playing music and wasn’t collecting money for anything. I bought some merch I wouldn’t have bought instead to try and throw him some support. Then a week or two ago he started off saying that his uncle had just died and he was going to be raising money for a homeless shelter in Philly that his uncle did work with in honor of his memory. In the one hour he played probably about 60% of the 1,000 or so people watching donated and raised over $16,000. It was really heartwarming to sit there and watch the amount tick up while he was playing. It felt really nice to finally be able to give something back for all the joy his music has brought me every Thursday night.

New Music Friday: Lay Me Down Easy by Carolina Story

Carolina Story is a band composed of spouses Ben and Emily Roberts. They met in college and apparently in order to impress Emily, Ben learned how to play a bunch of songs by her favorite artist, Brandi Carlile. So you know I’m already interested. They apparently spent a decade playing music wherever they could play and considered leaving the music business altogether to focus on raising their young family. Instead they wound up recording their first album in 2018. They released their sophomore album Dandelion today, their first with an outside producer.

I adore the entire album. I’ve already listened to it multiple times already today. It’s perfect Americana music. I love the whole album and had a hard time deciding what song to highlight. I settled on “Lay Me Down Easy” because it’s got both harmonica and pedal steel in it and I’m a sucker for songs with harmonica and pedal steel. Plus it has some beautiful harmonies. Basically it’s Danielle catnip.

New Music Friday: Care by beabadoobee

beabadoobee is the stage name of 20 year old British-Filipino singer Beatrice Laus. “Care” is the first single off her forthcoming debut album, Fake It Flowers. The song came out back in mid-July, but I heard it for the first time this week. It has a real 90s female rock vibe going on that I am digging. I’m pretty much into anything that makes me nostalgic for times that aren’t these at the moment. Take a listen.

New Music Friday: Devon Gilfillian and The Killers

So I have another twofer for you this week. I spent most of the week thinking I was going to write about Devon Gilfillian’s new song, but then this morning I kept hearing songs off of The Killers new album that came out today and I was more in the mood to write about that so I thought I would just switch out my song choice. But then I felt bad not writing about the Devon Gilfillian song so I’m doing both.

Cracks in the Ceiling by Devon Gilfillian feat. Joseph

“Cracks in the Ceiling” is a song that Devon Gilfillian wrote with the sisters from the band Joseph as part of NPR’s Morning Edition Song Project in which they are enlisting artists to write songs about this moment. Devon Gilfillian was thinking about a difficult conversation he had with a friend who grew up in the South and voted for Donald Trump about Black history and his own experiences as Black American and wrote this song about needing to seize this moment when the world has stopped to have difficult conversations about race and racism.

My Own Soul’s Warning by The Killers

The Killers are a band that I like okay and generally enjoy when I hear a song by them, but I also have never gotten super into them. I’ve never bought one of their albums nor felt compelled to go to one of their concerts, which should pretty much tell you what you need to know. But as a band that has now been around for 20 years and still very much has an identifiable sound, even their new music makes me feel a little nostalgic for what now seems like much simpler times. As I said above writing about The Killers today was not on my radar at all, but I heard two different songs off the album this morning and they just really felt like music I wanted to listen to right now. The sort of grandiose sweeping sound of their songs was just what I needed today. I probably never would have listened to this entire album except for the fact that I heard these songs in the exact moment that I did. I’m digging the whole thing especially the songs that feature k.d. lang and Weyes Blood even though I’m not sharing either one of those songs. I just went with this song because I felt like it exemplified The Killer’s signature style and the mood I’m going for.

New Music Friday: Kathleen Edwards and Ashley Ray

I bet you thought I wasn’t going to have a New Music Friday post for you today. I actually wanted to listen to several new albums that were out today before I decided on what to write about. That meant I couldn’t write up anything until after work instead of first thing in the morning. I couldn’t even settle on one song after that, so you get two today.

Birds on a Feeder by Kathleen Edwards

Kathleen Edwards put out her first album, Total Freedom, in eight years today. She had actually quit her music career and opened up a coffee shop called Quitters in Ottawa, Canada. Then Maren Morris apparently invited her down to Nashville to do some songwriting together and it ignited a spark. So here we are with a brand new album most people thought would never happen. The whole album is lovely. I highly recommend listening to the whole thing. Even better go watch the online album release concert she did from her coffee shop for World Cafe.

I’m going to highlight the song “Bird On a Feeder” because it feels like being wrapped in a warm blank on a cold winter’s day to me. It just makes me imagine sitting in front of a fire in a cabin wrapped in a blanket with a dog sitting at my feet. I feel like it’s a song I’m going to be coming back to a lot this winter.

Just a House by Ashley Ray

Pauline is Ashley Ray’s third album and hopefully the one that helps break her out in the country music scene because it is amazing from top to bottom. It’s a very personal record, which I’ve seen called a photo album of her life growing up in Kansas. I feel like that’s a very apt description. The album title comes from her grandmother and the song of the same name on the album is about all the good and bad things she inherited from her. It’s full of fiddle and banjo and I love it, but it’s not even the song I’m going to talk about. One of the things I love about the album is how much it features the aforementioned banjo and fiddle as well as pedal steel. I love all these things, so it’s no wonder that I’m highly attracted to Americana and country music for which these instruments are staples. Oddly then I’m choosing to highlight a song that features none of those instruments.

I couldn’t resist “Just a House” though. It’s co-written with Natalie Hemby and is all about Ashley trying to encourage her mother to leave the house that’s sort of falling down around her, but her mother doesn’t want to leave because it’s where she lived with Ashley’s father who died in a tragic fall on their farm when she was a child. It’s a very sad, but beautiful song.

Good Things Roundup

It seems like it’s pretty hard to come by good things these days, so I want to make sure I’m documenting them when they do happen. There were a number of things that made me happy over the past week or so, so I thought I would write up a quick post about them.

  1. We have now entered one of my favorite times of year when all the noisy bugs of summer are out in full force in the morning and the evening. Cicadas, crickets, katydids are all out there humming away now and I love it.
  2. I got a couple of surprises from friends that made me feel loved and it reminded me that I have some really great friends even if I don’t really get to see them much in person these days. Some friends went out to a farm and cut a bunch of sunflowers and dropped one off to me as a nice little surprise. That happened on a day when I was feeling really down on life and people, so it was perfect timing and very sweet.
  3. The other day I was watching TV and a character eating popcorn for some reason really made me crave the caramel/cheddar popcorn mix from Garrett’s Popcorn in Chicago. I looked into how much it would cost to have some shipped to me and decided I didn’t want popcorn that much. I did find two different brands of cheddar/caramel mix popcorns at the grocery store that I decided to do a taste test of. The Cretors came closer to the Garrett’s, but still wasn’t as good. The Smartfood I didn’t care much for. I posted about all this on Facebook, and then a couple days ago I opened up my door to a tin of popcorn from Garrett’s that one of my friends sent me after seeing my post. I have the best friends y’all.
  4. I got to actually see some friends in person this weekend. Some friends from DC drove up and we got carry out brunch and sat socially distanced in the grass behind my house. It’s a friend I’m used to getting together with fairly regularly, but who I hadn’t seen since we parted ways in the Tampa airport after going on what was in retrospect a very ill-advised trip to St. Pete Beach on the very week that the world decided that COVID-19 was a pandemic. Had our trip been one day later we would have canceled, but literally up until the point we were in the air flying to Florida the media was still downplaying how bad this was going to be. It was really good to be able to see each other again. I’m trying to be a little bit braver while also being completely responsible to see friends in person while the weather is still nice enough for us to sit outside because unless things change I don’t see myself spending time with people inside this winter. It’s going to be a long, lonely winter.
  5. Blacksauce biscuits are also making me very happy. Blacksauce is beloved staple at farmer’s markets and festivals in Baltimore serving up delicious biscuit sandwiches and more. I always got a Blacksauce biscuit for breakfast every Saturday morning pre-pandemic. For 3 months we did not eat any food that we did not cook in our own house. After the research kept reiterating that it was unlikely you would get it from eating carryout, we finally started getting carryout on my birthday. That opened the door for me to also finally start eating Blacksauce again. They are not at the farmer’s market right now. Instead they’re cooking out of a restaurant that closed last year and are doing scheduled pickups in their parking lot. The sandwiches rotate every weekend and some of my favorites only ever come around once or twice a year, so it’s been a nice stretch over the past three weeks with some of my very favorites: fried green tomatoes, roasted figs, and fried chicken with spicy honey. It’s summer so the roasted peaches have been in heavy rotation. I love that one too and will get it as soon as one of the rare ones that I love isn’t on the menu.
  6. Both universities that my library serves announced last week that they are going virtual for the fall semester. There was one day where it seemed like one would be virtual and one in person, which was going to make life very complicated. So I’m happy they got on the same page and that my co-workers who were going to have to go back to campus and interact with a bunch of students get a reprieve from that. I’m also grateful that I was and still am able to work from home through this.
  7. And that leads into my perpetual reminder to myself that as terrible as all of this is I have it really good. I am as I just said able to work from home. I still have a job. I enjoy spending time with my husband and my cat. We’re doing this in a time where it’s possible to still stay connected with people virtually instead of being completely cut off. And I’m not having to make any agonizing decisions about what to do with my kids this school year. I am extremely privileged in this situation, and I don’t want to lose sight of that either despite it still generally sucking.

Newport Revival Weekend

Thanks to COVID-19 the 2020 Newport Folk Festival was canceled. Anyone who knows me or who has been reading this blog for any length of time should know that Newport is my favorite weekend of every year. It is a completely soul restoring event that has been sorely needed in the last few years and ironically was unable to happen this year for some of the reasons that it was needed more than ever.

In lieu of an in-person festival, this year they put together a series of online events to celebrate the history of the festival and use it as a fundraiser for the Newport Festivals Foundation, which supports music education and this year has extended their work to support artists who are out of work due to COVID-19.

They dug into their 60 year archive and put together a radio festival that mimicked the actual festival as much as it could. It ran for the same hours that the festival happens every year. It included broadcasts of some complete sets from previous years as well as themed compilation sets full of songs from the full history of the festival. That mirrors what the actual festival does as there are always compilation sets full of a number of artists who will come out and sing together around a common theme whether it be a tribute set to an artist like the Grandma’s Hands Band set, which was a tribute to the music of Bill Withers that they replayed as part of this or something like civil rights songs. They even had a surprise set on the setlist for the weekend. Jay Sweet who organizes the festival has long said that he would love to not even let people know who is playing until they show up to the festival that day, so he always sprinkles in some sets over the weekend that are listed just as a surprise set. The surprise set for this was a Joni Mitchell set from the early years of the festival.

It was actually really great to listen to festival for the most part. I spent a lot of time texting back and forth with a friend who is also part of the Newport Folk Family. It was nice to relive some of the things from the festival that I really loved. I could picture being at the festival and seeing them. There were also a couple of sets that I was happy to get to hear because I missed parts of them the first time around because there are three stages and you can never be everywhere at once. It was cool to listen to some of the music from long before my time as well. There were a couple of things like the set from Jack White that I skipped the first time around and this made me know that I made the right decision about. I’m also not sorry that I skipped out on the Beck set because it was raining and I don’t care that much about Beck, though I will say that now having listened to it he definitely gets the festival and did not get up and do a “Beck set”. He really made it a set for Newport. I always love when artists realize the importance of where they are playing and don’t just get up and do what they do everywhere.

In addition to the radio festival they did special after hours events as well just as there are during the actual festival. I never go to those because I am done with crowds by the time the festival proper is over for the day. On Friday night you could pay for an airing of one of the three concerts they did for Mavis Staples’ 80th birthday last year. I had really wanted to go to one of them, but they were in New York, Nashville, and L.A. and based on timing I just couldn’t make it happen. So one of the few good things about this pandemic has been able to see some things like this that were just hidden away in a vault somewhere and which probably would never have seen the public light of day otherwise. It was wonderful and I’m really glad I got to experience it even in this limited way. As I’ve said many times before Mavis Staples is a national treasure and it was so delightful to see so many artists I love celebrate her.

Saturday night was another paid show. This one involved an actual concert at Fort Adams where the festival is held every year. Deer Tick who are a local Rhode Island band who have a huge connection to the festival did an in-person socially distanced (for the band, no audience) concert that they recorded with special guests who appeared from their respective homes. As many online concerts as I’ve watched since this all began it was really nice to see an actual band performing together rather than connected in their little boxes via Zoom or whatever even if I still had to watch it through a screen.

Sunday night there was a free film called Our Voices Together. Looking back now they never said it was going to be a documentary about the festival, but that is somehow what I got in my head it was going to be and is sort of what I wish it had been. I was looking forward to seeing footage of previous festivals and hearing people talk about the history of the festival. There was a little bit of that, but mostly it was favorite Newport artists playing songs either alone or in the little Zoom box style with their bands that I was just saying feels a little soulless compared to people actually playing together. I mean I love all the music and the artists that were in the film, but it wasn’t really what I was expecting or necessarily hoping for. I will say that the cover they did of “What the World Needs Now is Love” featuring a metric ton of artists from festivals past was amazing and I wish they would at least make that one song available to rewatch again since the entire film is only available for 24 hours from it’s premiere.

I’m really glad they pulled all this together. I definitely ran through the gamut of emotions listening and watching everything all weekend. Sunday I did hit an emotional low point of sadness thinking about there not being an actual festival this year. There were a lot of tears, but there were also lots of moments of joy. I sincerely hope we can get our act together so that there will actually be a Newport Folk Festival in 2021 because it cannot come soon enough.

TV Diary: Meh Edition

In my previous TV Diary post I promised I would have another post talking about recent shows I watched that I didn’t really care for. Some of these shows are decidedly not great while others were just not for me.

Stargirl

I debated whether I should put this show in this post or in the previous one, but since the other post had a lot more entries already I decided to write about it here. Stargirl is yet another CW superhero show. This is by far the hokiest of all the superhero shows I’ve ever watched. It centers around a teenage girl who discovers that her new step-dad is a former superhero and suspects that her own long missing father was superhero Starman, who was killed when she was a small kid. His former staff seems to want her to be it’s new master and now she’s training with her step-dad and some other outcast kids she recruited. It’s okay. I don’t love it. I find that I’m more interested in the non-superhero parts of the show, but there aren’t enough of those to sustain my interest. I’ve still been watching it while my husband has it on, but I’m not sure once we ever get more television back that I will keep watching.

Hollywood

I barely payed attention to this Netflix show created by Ryan Murphy about old Hollywood. I wasn’t really intersted in the story at all and I found it highly unrealistic that so many women and minorities were in positions of power in Hollywood. That’s not even true today.

Perry Mason

I never read any Perry Mason books nor watched the original series, so other than knowing Perry Mason was a lawyer I didn’t really know much about him. I gather that this show creates an entirely new backstory for Perry Mason and at least thus far is pretty much connected to the original properties in name only. In this version Perry Mason is a private detective. It’s a show that I can see some people enjoying, but I just don’t care about it. I’ve been in the room when my husband is on it, but I really couldn’t tell you what’s going on at this point.

You’ll Be Gone in the Dark

This is a documentary series on HBO based on the book of the same name by Michelle McNamara about her research into the Golden State Killer that eventually led to his arrest, unfortunately after her untimely passing. I’m not really big into true crime stuff. I didn’t read the book either. I can see this show appealing to people who did read the book or who are into true crime shows. This is just one that is not for me.

Outer Banks

I would say that this show is not for anyone, but Netflix just renewed it for a second season this week so I guess it is for some people. I thought this show was so bad that I didn’t even finish it. When I realized we were only halfway through I pulled the plug. There was no way I wanted to watch another five episodes of this show. It’s some sort of teen murder mystery thing set in the Outer Banks with the addition of the divide between people based on the working class people who live there and the second home summer people. I thought it had potential as a nice soapy, teen drama, but I did not find it interesting or engaging at all.