Local Baltimore artist Cris Jacobs dropped the first single, “Painted Roads”, from his forthcoming new album Color Where You Are yesterday. As far as I can tell for the moment it’s exclusive to Relix so you’ll have to click through into their article to hear it. I can’t embed it here, but I do highly encourage you to do so because it is an excellent song.
I read on his website that the original version of the song was inspired by Tom Petty, so no wonder I like it. It’s final version is no longer a straight forward rock song, but it’s got a really nice groove to it. I also love the theme of taking joy in the everyday. Go take a listen. I promise you won’t regret it.
Since I had a snow day and some time to write I figured I would write up a post on some of the things I’ve been watching lately.
Sex Education is a British series that is available on Netflix starring Gillian Anderson as a sex therapist whose teenage son, Otis, has been somewhat scarred by her profession and his parents’ divorce. He winds up befriending bad girl Maeve who convinces him to set up his own sex therapy business at school to help their classmates with their relationship problems. I really liked this show. I liked the relationships between all the characters and the romantic comedy aspects of it as well. I’m happy it’s going to be getting another season.
The Kominsky Method
The Kominsky Method stars Michael Douglas as a sort of washed up actor who destroyed all his relationships, but is trying to repair the relationship with his daughter and trying to keep himself relevant by teaching acting classes. Alan Arkin stars as his best friend and agent who is dealing with his own issues as his beloved wife just passed away and his drug addict daughter played by Lisa Edelstein has shown back up to wreck havoc in his life. Like Grace & Frankie this show seems aimed at Netflix’s older viewers, but I also found it really smart and funny. I’m happy this show will be getting another season as well.
The Bodyguard is a six episode British series about a former British army man who is dealing with PTSD while now carrying out duties as a bodyguard for the government. After helping diffuse a terrorist on a train he winds up getting assigned to protect the Home Secretary who seems determined to push her own power in the government. He winds up caught in a tangled conspiracy against her that seems determined to take him down with it. This was a very compelling show for me. I thought it was very well written and had lots of drama and went in directions I was not expecting. Plus it’s nice to have a nice, tidy 6 hour show to watch and be done with.
I read about this show when it was premiering on Lifetime, but never bothered to watch it at that point. Then I started hearing about it again when the first season started streaming on Netflix and everyone seemed to think it was a Netflix show. It stars Penn Badgely as a stalker who sets out to do everything he can to get a woman he meets in the book store he works at to be his girlfriend. It took me a little bit but I definitely got sucked into this show. They do a good job of making Joe both a psychopath but also a seemingly awesome guy. Leading into the final episode I did not really understand where they were going to with a second season, but by the end of the episode it was obvious and I’m interested to see where it goes.
Sorry For Your Loss
Did you know Facebook has started making their own tv shows because they have. Apparently it’s a requirement for every entity now. Sorry For Your Loss stars Elizabeth Olsen as a young widow dealing with her grief after the death of her husband. I’m only about halfway through right now, but I’m really enjoying it so far. The subject matter seems like it would be really heavy, but it doesn’t feel like it when watching it.
Every time I saw trailer for this film in the months leading up to its theatrical release I was really excited about seeing it. Then when it finally came out the reviews were so mediocre that I didn’t bother going to see it. Now that it’s available on streaming we rented it the other night. The reviews did not lie. It was not a good movie, and I do not understand how in the world it is nominated for best picture. I do get why Rami Malek is nominated for best actor though. He fully embodies the character of Freddy Mercury and the Academy likes nothing better than that. I full anticipate that he will win. The musical performances in the movie were pretty good, but the story itself was super Hollywoodized and paint by numbers. Here find out why Freddy holds his microphone like that. Here have a record exec complain about Bohemian Rhapsody and then rue the day he let Queen walk away. The movie ends with a pretty full recreation of Queen’s set at Live Aid. I feel like that set is decidedly the most famous set from Live Aid. I remember seeing the We Will Rock You/We are the Champions piece of that on MTV a ton as a kid. I’m pretty sure it was my first introduction to Queen. At the end of it I mostly wished that I had just watched that set over again and in fact did.
Runnin’ Down a Dream: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
For years I’ve heard how amazing this 4 hour documentary on Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers is. As anyone who has been reading this blog knows I adore Tom Petty, so I’ve always wanted to watch it. Four hours just seemed like such a time commitment though and I never felt like I had enough time to sit down and watch it. Nevermind that when I’m binge watching a tv show I’ll sit down and watch 6 or 7 hours worth of it on a weekend. Anyway, I promised myself that if I had a snow day this winter I would watch it because I would have no excuse of anything else to do. This year’s snow day came at the perfect time because I’m between binging tv shows, so I really did have nothing else on my watch list. Everyone who ever said how great this documentary is was not lying. It flew by and I totally didn’t feel like it was four hours long. It’s full of great music and interviews with Tom Petty and the band. It’s very much focused on the music and their careers though. In that way it’s a great companion piece to Warren Zanes’ fantastic biography of Tom Petty which delves much more into him as a person. I highly recommend both, especially if you are even the slightest fan of Tom Petty.
This movie stars Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams as women raised in an orthodox Jewish community. After they had a clandestine relationship in their younger years Rachel Weisz’s character left to pursue life in the outside world. Now she has returned after the death of her father and their characters reconnect. I found it to be kind of a boring movie. I don’t recommend it.
One of my friends has been asking me to tell her what my top ten concerts are. I told her that was really hard and told her maybe I could come up with a top three for her. I’ll probably end up somewhere in between. I’ve been thinking about what factors I would consider to put something in my top tier of concerts and I decided I probably couldn’t really rank the concerts I’ve been to. I’ve been to a lot of concerts and I wouldn’t begin to know how to decide which ones I liked more than another that is if I could even realistically remember what they all were off the top of my head. Instead I decided to answer a variation of the question and go ahead and put it in a blog post. Instead of ranking my top concerts I decided to talk about what concerts have been the most memorable for me for some reason or another. I’m not sure that would make them the best concerts I’ve ever seen, but they’re ones that stand out to me in my memory.
Neil Diamond at the Omni in Atlanta (probably)
This Neil Diamond concert had to go on the list because it was my very first concert ever when I was 10 or so. I don’t actually remember that much about it, but I know it was when we were living in Atlanta and that it was in some sort of arena, so I’m assuming it was at the Omni Center, which was where the Atlanta Hawks used to play basketball. I could be entirely wrong about that though. Even though I don’t remember much about that particular concert itself it is of course memorable to me because it was the first in a very long list of concerts I would go to in my life.
Christopher Paul Stelling at the Newport Folk Festival
I could put so many things from the Newport Folk Festival on here, but I’m refraining from making this one big post about Newport. There are a couple of sets that do deserve a mention here though. I didn’t actually know much about Christopher Paul Stelling before I went to see him on the Harbor Stage first thing on a Sunday morning at the Newport Folk Festival. It wound up being one of the best things I’ve ever witnessed. First of all Christopher Paul Stelling is this super intense acoustic guitar player. For much of his set it was just him on the stage with his guitar and he had the audience enraptured. It was kind of a singular experience to watch. Then as if the performance itself wasn’t enough it ended by him proposing to his girlfriend, who is a member of his band, on stage. It was kind of the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen at a concert.
Brandi Carlile at everywhere
There was no doubt that Brandi Carlile was going to wind up on this list. It’s hard to even pick any particular concert of hers to put on this list because they are all so amazing. She’s someone I could just see over and over again and never get tired of watching perform. Every time I see her I can’t wait to see her again. That was true from the very first time I saw her live at the Lyric Opera House to the most recent time at the 2018 Newport Folk Festival and everything in between. I have to give a special shout out to seeing her at The Beacon in New York City this past April partly because it was my first time at The Beacon which is a wonderful venue and second because I had a front row seat, which was amazing. The concert I’m going to single out though is her set at the 2015 Newport Folk Festival. I’ve gone back and listened to NPR Music’s recording of this set many a time when I need a pick me up. There was such a sense of hope at that time. It was like the high in the world when it seemed like we were standing on the top of the mountain and things really were moving in the right direction in the world before everything fell apart. I listen to this to remind myself that I once felt that hope and that hopefully I will one day again.
Cowboy Mouth is a New Orleans based band that I saw a whole lot of times when I was in college and in my early 20s. I gather they are still together and touring, but I lost track of them a long time ago. They are really outstanding and engaging performers. They were always about creating an atmosphere of positivity and energy. They are also an interesting band because the lead singer is also the drummer. I always enjoyed all their shows, but at one of the ones I saw at a now defunct little concert venue in Winston-Salem, NC called Ziggy’s not only did the lead singer crowd surf but he took his drum set out into the crowd with him and sat there drumming on top of the crowd. That’s some trust right there. It was pretty amazing. I should also shout out seeing them at the House of Blues in Chicago because I have an everlasting reminder of that show with the ringing in my right ear that has never gone fully away since that show 21 years ago. So thanks for the tinnitus I guess. By the way consider this your periodic reminder to always wear hearing protection at concerts. Love your ears. I wish I had started earlier in my life.
Tom Petty at Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore, MD
Tom Petty is one of my all-time favorite artists. For various reasons the first two times I saw him in concert I wasn’t there for the whole thing. I finally got to see him perform from top to bottom at Royal Farms Arena for his 40th anniversary tour. It was an amazing show and full of so much joy. It was kind of like one giant sing-a-long. It sadly was only a couple of weeks before he passed away, so it was also the last time I will ever get to see him. I’m happy he got to go out on a high note and that I was there to see it.
Holly Williams at the 9:30 Club
Holly Williams comes from a long line of country royalty as the granddaughter of Hank Williams and daughter of Hank Williams, Jr. After a car accident she was unsure if she’d be able to play and tour again so shifted her focus to other things. She now has a couple of stores and does some old house renovations in the Nashville area in addition to raising three young kids so she’s obviously keeping busy with other things, but I really do miss her music. I gather she plays every once and awhile still in Nashville, but unless something changes it’s unlikely I’ll get to see her again. This show was actually her opening for Jason Isbell the first time I ever saw him live. The song she got a lot of attention for on her final album was a song called “Waiting on June” which was about her grandparents on her mother’s side. It’s a beautiful song about their life long love that moved everyone in the audience to tears. I have never been at a show surrounded by people in tears because they were so moved by a song. It was a truly special moment that I won’t forget.
Dawes at The Ryman
I love Dawes and have seen them in concert many times. However, this particular show is on this list more for the venue than the band. I being who I am have a concert venue bucket list. The Ryman was right at the top of it. It was the original home of the Grand Ole Opry and is known as the church of country music. Whatever concert I first saw there was bound to wind up on this list no matter who it was. It is an amazing venue and I would love to see more shows there in the future. For now though the only one I’ve seen is Dawes. Their show there was fantastic. They played for a full three hours, but my husband taking me to this show as a present because he knew how much I wanted to see a show at the Ryman is really why this concert winds up on this list.
This was kind of a fun exercise to write a post off of someone else’s prompt. If anyone else has ideas of something they would like me to write about let me know. I definitely reserve the right to veto anything, but I’m definitely open to writing more posts based on things people ask me.
Last night I went to see St. Paul and the Broken Bones at Rams Head Live. The opening act was a band called Valley Queen, which I was unfamiliar with prior to the show. They were a low key rock band. It’s not any music I would ever bother to listen to on my own, but I didn’t hate it. Plus I’m always happy for more female fronted rock bands, which they are.
I had seen St. Paul and the Broken Bones at the Newpork Folk Festival, but this was the first time I had seen them in a concert of their own. It turns out that maybe I don’t like St. Paul and the Broken Bones as much as I thought I did. At their heart they are a soul band and I really like that part of their sound, which all the singles they’ve released from their three albums decidedly are. I actually don’t think I ever fully listened to their second album, so I’m not sure what the songs from that album are like. I have listened to their most recent album a couple of times and did know that it had a bit more of an experimental sound that I liken to soul but with a 70s synth space age sound. I didn’t mind it as background noise while I work, but it turns out I wasn’t super into listening to it played live while I didn’t have anything else going on. There were a couple of times when Paul Janeway, the lead singer left the stage and the band just played by themselves, which I wasn’t super into. Overall the band was into the show, the crowd was into it, I just wasn’t into it. Oh well. When you go to as many shows as I do they can’t all be winners.
As an interesting side note apparently Paul Janeway took his now wife to a concert at Rams Head Live when they first started dating. He told that story last night and it’s made me super curious ever since given that they are from Alabama, and it makes me wonder how they wound up at a concert in Baltimore when they had just started dating. I supposed I will never know.
Lula Wiles put out their sophomore album, What Will We Do, at the end of January. I first heard it and fell in love with it when NPR Music had it as one of their First Listen albums before its release. The first song on the album is a hauntingly beautiful folk song about staying with someone and going through the motions even after the love is gone because there never seems to be the right time to actually leave either. Their harmonies are wonderful and bring a great depth to the song. Go have a listen.
Florence + the Machine dropped a couple of new songs at the end of January. I somehow missed that until this week, but I figure now I can write about one of them in conjunction with purchasing tickets to see her in concert this summer at Merriweather Post Pavilion. I don’t really have much to say about the song except it sounds like a Florence song with its sort of sweeping melodies and background chorus. It’s going to be another great song for her to swirl around the stage to. I can’t wait until June.
My husband and I took an overnight trip to Philly a couple days ago. While I look for concerts I want to go to in the DC-Philly corridor, he looks for computer security conferences. In this case our desires aligned. He told me he planned to go up to Philly for a conference and it just so happened to coincide with the night Dawes was playing in Philly. I had seen them at Wolf Trap last summer, but had left wanting much more as I felt like their set got cut short because of Wolf Trap’s curfew and Shovels & Rope playing longer than I think they should have as one of the openers. So I was eager to see them again and when I realized that I could ride up with my husband and drag him to the show I put that plan into motion.
We drove up early Friday morning and I dropped him off at his conference and then went to see if I could check into our hotel super early. They didn’t have any rooms available so I just dropped off the car and my stuff and wandered around for awhile. It was cold and snowing the whole day, so it wasn’t the best weather to walk around in but the wind wasn’t blowing so it wasn’t completely terrible either. I wound up sitting in Barnes & Noble for awhile reading to kill time before my first plans for the day.
It eventually dawned on me after I made these plans that I was going to be in Philly on a Friday afternoon. I have mentioned here on more than one occasion my love for WXPN, the University of Pennsylvania radio station. It’s what I listen to at work all the time, and every Friday they do a Free at Noon concert. I have obviously never been able to go in person, but as soon as I put two and two together I put this concert on my schedule for the day. They only announce who’s playing about a week beforehand and then open up the site for claiming your free tickets to it. I would have gone no matter who was playing, but I was pleased that it wound being Amy Helm who I like. She’s the daughter of the drummer from The Band, Levon Helm. She sang a lot with him and did a lot of backup singing, but now has two albums of her own out. My favorite song off the new album is actually a cover a Milk Carton Kid’s song “Michigan”. I was hoping she would play it and it was by far the best song of the performance. The whole thing was great though. She went from playing the mandolin to the keyboards and then just singing sweet harmonies in an acapella hymn with one of her band mates.
It was great to actually be in the room for a change instead of just streaming it from my office. I felt weirdly overly surrounded by old, white guys though. I finally decided it was because that’s who has time to be at a concert in the middle of the day, a bunch of old retired white guys. Some day I’d like to be able to do it again, but that’s obviously not going to happen any time soon.
After grabbing some lunch I headed to the Mutter Museum. It had been on my list for a long time, but was just something I had never gotten around to doing any of the other times I’ve been in Philly. My husband was mad that I was going without him, but I told him afterwards that I’m glad I wasn’t with him. I read most of what’s on museum placards, but I’m also a fast reader and do skim some of the finer details. He will literally read every single word on every single item on a display case. I probably would have been done an hour before him if we were together. If you’re not familiar with the Mutter Museum, it’s located at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia and is a collection of medical specimens, equipment, and models collected by Dr. Thomas Dent Mutter. It was an interesting collection and I’m glad I went, but I don’t feel the need to ever go again.
Friday night we obviously went to the Dawes concert, which is what I went to Philly for. Every so often Dawes likes to do tours where they do a bunch of An Evening with Dawes shows, meaning that there’s no opening act and you just get them playing for 2 and half to 3 hours. It was my first time at the Fillmore Philly. If I ever go again I might pay extra money to get premium seats in the balcony. It’s a 2, 500 standing room only venue aside from a few elevated seats in the back of the main level and the seats in the balcony. I pretty much can’t see much at SRO shows unless I’m all the way up front, which doesn’t happen often. I’ve generally found if I can get far enough the back if it’s not a completely sold out show then I can see over the crowd, but if this wasn’t sold out it was close to it so even though I did stand as far back as I could I couldn’t get enough distance between me and people in front of me. I wasn’t completely out of luck, but I could pretty much never see more than one band member at a time depending on how the crowd moved and how I was craning my neck. Dawes was great as usual. I was happy to get to hear them play or a good long time. I was hoping that they would play my favorite song off of their new album, Passwords, but I figured it was a long shot and sadly they didn’t. That was my only real disappointment with the night. It seems like they’ve decided on the three songs their going to play from that album, and “Mistakes We Should Have Made” isn’t one of them. I always hate when I fall hard for a song that’s deep into an album that I know a band is never going to play live unless somewhere down the line they do a show where they play all the way through an album. Overall it was a good night though and worth going up to Philly for.
Saturday morning we met up with my friend Erin and her family for brunch at a place in Logan Square called Urban Farmer. If you’re ever in Philly and looking for some place to eat near the Franklin Institute, The Barnes Foundation, or even the Philadelphia Museum of Art I would recommend this place. The brunch food was great, so I’ll go ahead and assume their other meals are as well. I had brioche French toast with hazelnut butter and cranberry compote and some of the best breakfast sausage I can remember eating any time recently. It was of course great to catch up with my friends too. I’m glad we get to see each other generally at least once a year and sometimes more since Philly isn’t that far away. Who knew when we met in 8th grade and only living in the same city for 2 years that we’d still be friends and hanging out when we were 40.
Our final stop before heading back to Baltimore was the The Barnes Foundation. We wound up getting some hotel deal that was a partnership with the Visit Philly tourist bureau whereby participating hotels offered guests free parking, 2 tickets to the Barnes, a Lyft credit, a coupon for $20 off at some restaurant and 2 free ice skating coupons. We were mostly in it for the free parking because parking in downtown Philly is super expensive and most places don’t give you in and out privileges with your car which makes the parking rates rack up even more if you go in and out of the garage. We actually wound up picking our hotel partly based on the fact that the hotel had valet parking that gave you in and out privileges since we knew we wanted to drive to the concert. The valet experience was kind of annoying since it wasn’t run by the hotel and I wound up dealing with trying to drop the car off and get it back out again right at morning and evening rush hour with people parking their for work. At any rate the deal save us $50 in parking. The bonus for us was the 2 free tickets to The Barnes. I had just gone back in August, so I wouldn’t have bothered to go again this soon but I figured we shouldn’t pass up the free tickets. It was actually interesting to go back because even in these few short months since I had been there they had rolled out a whole new digital experience that was very cool. The museum is laid out so that everything is hung as it was in Albert Barnes’ original home, so there are no labels on anything on the wall. There are paper booklets in each room that will give you the title and artist of everything, but they have now created a digital site you can use on your phone. You just pull up the site and then take photos of the art and it will pull up information about it on your phone. Sometimes it’s just the bare facts about the piece, but other times there is a lot more context about the artist, art, or it’s place in the collection. I did have to catch myself to make sure I was actually looking at the art too and not just staring at my screen, but for the most part I thought it was great and really added to the experience. As my husband said it has now ruined him for all other museums. He of course also wanted to be able to dig into the code and find out how everything worked.
It was an excellent couple of days in Philly, and I’m glad I turned my husband’s one day conference into a fun overnight trip for us.
I went back and forth this week about what song I wanted to post about. I thought about one of the songs from the out of nowhere record by Better Oblivion Community Center, which is a collaboration between Phoebe Bridgers and Connor Oberst, but ultimately I decided I don’t love that as much as I would like to. I still adore Phoebe Bridgers and love her collaborative spirit and have many thoughts on who I want her to collaborate with next, but I for whatever reason have never really cared for Connor Oberst even though you’d think I would. So I think his presence is dragging this down for me.
I also thought about the new song “Front Porch” by Joy Williams who was one half of the beloved and sadly gone too soon Civil Wars. She put out a more pop oriented album after they broke up that I didn’t really get into, but this song seems to indicate a return to the more folk/Americana vibe that I think suits her better.
But ultimately I decided on Vampire Weekend’s new song “Harmony Hall”, which The Atlantic called thrillingly uncool. I’m pretty sure that just makes The Atlantic sound like idiotic hipsters. I have very little to actually say about this song. I have never really been a Vampire Weekend fan for no particular reason. They are just never a band I ever really listened to. I know the band name, but I could not name you a single one of their other songs. I have no idea if I even like any of them. I do like this song and it’s bright jangly sound. It seems like a good antidote to the bleak mid-winter. And that’s about all I have to say about that.
I usually try to embed the YouTube/Vevo versions of songs here in case anyone reading doesn’t have Spotify, but the video for this song is nothing but insects and it’s horrifying if you don’t like insects so I am not unwittingly subjecting anyone to that. Feel free to go find it on your own if you want.