Jade Bird at the 9:30 Club

This past Saturday I went down to DC to see Jade Bird at the 9:30 Club. I’m always saying that I wish concerts started and thus ended earlier because I am old and tired. This concert was finally just that, but of course the timing of an early concert worked out all wrong for me. Saturday was also the date of my friends’ annual Oktoberfest party. I hadn’t seen most of the people going to the party in about 6 months or longer, so I really wanted to go. Unfortunately their house is 45 minutes in the opposite direction of DC from my house, so it was kind of insane for me to go up there first and then drive down to DC for the concert, but that’s what I did.

The 9:30 Club was having some late night DJ festival or something over the weekend, so Jade Bird’s concert wound up being an early show, which normally I would have been all for except that it meant I got to spend even less time at the party. With trying to get everything over with in time to turn the venue over it seemed like all the routine concert timings got turned on their head as well. Normally for club venues like the 9:30 Club doors will open an hour before the opening band goes on. These days most opening bands will play for about 45 minutes, then there’s a 30 minute set change break, and then the headliner will play for about 90 minutes.

None of that held true for this concert, so I felt like I was barely there. I timed leaving the party to get down there right around when the opener should have gone on according to normal concert timing. That did not work out in this case. I got down there right around 7 and by the time I got in the venue, I was there just in time to hear Flyte play their final song. They must have started at 6:30. I don’t really know them, so I wasn’t super upset that I missed their set.

Flyte was just two guys with guitars, so it took them no time at all to do the set change, so after only 15 minutes Jade Bird went on at 7:30. She only wound up playing for an hour and 10 minutes, which was a bit disappointing. I wish she had played 3 or 4 more songs. I’m guessing with the late show happening she might have been only contracted for an hour and 15 minutes rather than the normal hour and half. Who knows. With missing the opening act and her set being so short it felt like the concert barely even happened.

Even though the set was short, Jade Bird was great. Unlike when I saw her open for Jason Isbell over the summer when it was just her and her guitar up on the stage, this time she had a whole band with her. She played some with them and did a few songs solo as well. She switched between the guitar and the piano too. She only has one album and one EP out, so she doesn’t have a ton of music to fill a set with. She played a couple of new songs, which I really liked. She also did a few cover. She did Blondie’s “Call Me” and what she called a cover of a cover with Gillian Welch’s version of Radiohead’s “Black Star”. She’s got a really powerful voice. I feel like there’s not too many female singers with a more rock edge these days. Granted there’s not many male rock bands these days either, but I appreciate her range from more indie rock to songs with a little bit more edge to them.

Even though it felt it was way too short, I enjoyed the concert. It also makes me wonder why we can’t use this timing for all concerts. I could be home in bed by 9:30 instead of that being the time the headliner usually starts. It would be great. Let’s start a movement!

New Music Friday: Happy Birthday, Baby by Hiss Golden Messenger

I wrote about “I Need a Teacher” the first single from Hiss Golden Messenger’s new album Terms of Surrender a few months ago. The album was released last Friday, and since I haven’t come up with anything else to write about today, I’m going to share another song from it that I love. This song isn’t particularly new to me. I first heard “Happy Birthday, Baby” at the 2018 Newport Folk Festival when they played it in the Late July Family Tent. M.C. Taylor talked about how he had written a song for his firstborn son when he was little and now that he had a daughter she hated when he played that song because like true siblings she was jealous that she didn’t have a song. So he wrote this song for her on her fifth birthday. So now she has a song too. It’s very sweet. If you like me are a sucker for the whole chill Southern rock vibe that Hiss Golden Messenger is great at the whole album is really wonderful. Go have a listen.

The One with My Favorite Friends Episodes

This past Sunday marked the 25th anniversary of Friends premiering on television. Being in high school and college during the heyday of its run made Friends a real part of my life. It’s for sure the show I’ve seen the most of, and I still quote it frequently. I pretty much quote this scene every time I have to use a map.

The first episode of Friends I ever saw was the 5th episode. My family had moved from Massachusetts to Texas that year, and my school district had a weird break in October for the Texas State Fair. I used that break to go back to Massachusetts to visit friends and I remember staying at my friend Kim’s house and watching Friends for the first time. It became part of my regular viewing after that.

I have other distinct memories of watching the show. I remember having a Super Bowl party for Super Bowl XXX because I was living in Dallas and the Cowboys were in the Super Bowl that year. That was also the year that Friends was the show after the Super Bowl, so I remember watching it with a crowd of people.

In college various friends and I had over the years had viewing parties in our dorm rooms/houses. I apparently also have a memory of not watching Friends. I distinctly remember not seeing the end of the episode where Ross says Rachel’s name at his wedding to Emily because the power went off on campus for some reason. This was back in the day before you could see shows that you missed easily. Heck this was before normal people even had DVD players so you couldn’t even buy series on DVDs yet. The only way you were going to see an episode you missed was when it showed up in a rerun. Sadly I missed that one too because I was ironically in London where that episode takes place studying abroad by the time the rerun aired before the start of the new tv season. I was super jealous of one of my friends who flew over on Virgin Atlantic because she got to see the episode on the plane. They had it on their in-flight entertainment because Richard Branson guest stars in the episode. I have no idea how many years it was before I actually saw that episode in full.

In honor of the show that played such a big part of my formative years, here are my five favorite episodes. I’m not going out on any big limbs here. I looked at a couple of different lists of the 25 best Friends episodes and pretty much these were either their top 5 or definitely in their top 10. There’s a reason they’re my favorite, and obviously others’ too. The show obviously went on for 10 years and did have some good moments in the later seasons, but the real gems lie in seasons 2-5.

I’ve provided video clips of the moments in the episode that are what I think of when I think about it.

5. The One Where Everybody Finds Out (Season 5, Episode 14)

4. The One Where Ross Finds Out (Season 2, Episode 7)

3. The One with the Prom Video (Season 2, Episode 14)

2. The One with the Embryos (Season 4, Episode 12)

  1. The One Where No One’s Ready (Season 3, Episode 2)

 

 

Ida B’s Table

This past weekend marked the second anniversary of Ida B’s Table, a modern soul food restaurant in downtown Baltimore. It’s named after Ida B. Wells, famous black journalist of the late 1800s and early 1900s. It’s actually owned by a news operation called The Real News Network. The menu is divided into sections based on newspaper sections like features, op-eds, and by-lines.

I actually still have yet to get there for dinner, but I’ve been there for brunch many times. My friend and I have season tickets to Center Stage on Sunday afternoons and we take turns going to lunch beforehand at Ida B’s and Iggie’s Pizza. The food at Ida B’s is delicious. I pretty much always get the chicken and waffles, but sometimes I branch out and get the fried chicken dinner. Maybe one day I’ll try something that doesn’t involve friend chicken, but probably not.

The chef David Thomas won the episode of Chopped he was on last year. I haven’t participated in anything yet, but I also appreciates that he holds special events and dinners to teach about the history of Africans, African-Americans, and food. He did a series early this year on the African diaspora and did something recently for the 1619 anniversary of the first slaves being brought to America.

What I really enjoy about Ida B’s Table though is that it far beyond any other place I go in Baltimore actually feels like what Baltimore should be. Baltimore is an incredibly segregated city. There aren’t many places where black and white people mix to any real degree. In a city that’s 63% black and 30% white I can’t think of any other place I go that actually represents that breakdown. Most places I wind up going are majority white with maybe a small percentage of non-white people and when I’ve gone to places in black neighborhoods I’m part of the small percentage of white people. More places should be like Ida B’s Table and bring the rich tapestry of the people in this city together rather than separating them. Hopefully Ida B’s Table has many more years ahead of it.

 

Los Angeles Trip

As I mentioned in my previous post we came out to Los Angeles to go to a concert at The Greek Theatre. We of course did other things while we were in town for a few days. Since in addition to the Greek Theatre I also I wanted to go to the Griffith Observatory, both of which are in Griffith Park, I was looking for places to stay nearby. I found this Italian Villa right outside the park, but my husband wouldn’t let us stay there. I mean it did cost twice as much as where we stayed, but at only $400 per night it wasn’t completely out of our price range. He’s too practical for that, so we wound up at The Hollywood Orchid Suites instead.

The Hollywood Orchid Suites are located on a little dead end street that is right off Hollywood and Highland. The entrance to the hotel is right across the street from the loading dock for the giant Loew’s hotel and the Hollywood and Highland shopping center, so you definitely don’t have a view and you could hear banging and trucks backing up all the time when sitting out on the balcony, but I never heard anything inside of our room at least where we were. I gather based on the reviews that some of the rooms closer to the front than ours might have some sound issues. The hotel is actually a converted apartment building, so all the rooms are huge with a completely full kitchen and dining area plus the bedroom and bathroom. If you were going to be in LA for any amount of time it would be a nice place to stay so you could cook. We were only there for a few days so we didn’t use the kitchen. We also had a nice little balcony. There wasn’t really a view of anything, but it was nice to be able to sit outside and our side of the building didn’t get the sun until around 5 pm, so it was nice and shady. There was also a little roof garden. A lot of the reviews say it’s clean but sort of outdated and rundown, but they are in the process of updating all of the rooms. We wound up in one that had already been redone, so it was nice. Nothing amazing, but good enough for us. I expect they’ll be done with the rest by the end of the year.

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Part of the reason we didn’t use the kitchen was that there was a free breakfast. It wasn’t anything fancy. But as someone who never eats the eggs and bacon parts of hotel breakfast I was perfectly content with what was there. All of the reviews of this place mention how awesome the woman who runs the breakfast area is. They were not lying. She was the best part of the whole place. She is super friendly and really takes pride in her job helping everyone get their breakfasts and chatting with everyone. She gave us a big hug when we were checking out. I don’t think we’ll be back to LA, but if we ever were I would definitely stay there again assuming I couldn’t somehow convince my husband to stay in the Italian Villa.

Thursday during the day we went out to The Getty Center, which is an art museum created by J. Paul Getty. It’s set up in the hills and you can get some excellent views of the city. We managed to spend 2 hours there before we even looked at any of the art. I wanted to go on the architecture tour, but we had just missed one when we got there and had about 45 minutes before the next one. I decided we should just wander around the gardens until the next one. We went on the tour, which was really interesting. After that we grabbed some lunch in the cafeteria before finally checking out the art which includes paintings, decorative arts, photography, sculpture, and illuminated manuscripts. It was a nice little art museum. It’s technically free to get into the museum, but it does cost $20 to park. I appreciated that they said that they give all the kids that come to the museum on field trips a free parking pass so they can bring their families back and have it be a truly free experience.

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Thursday night was of course the Maggie Rogers concert at The Greek. Friday we headed out to Venice Beach. We started off at the end of the Venice Beach boardwalk and walked down to the Santa Monica Pier and back. On the way I said if the iconic ferris wheel costs $10 or less to ride I think I want to go on it. If it’s more than that I’m not interested. It cost $10, so we rode the ferris wheel. Then I dipped my feet in the Pacific Ocean and we walked back.

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We grabbed some tacos in Venice Beach for lunch. I feel like food is the one part we really failed at on this trip. Those tacos were probably the best thing we ate. Since we were staying in the super touristy part of the city everything right by us was chains and we often didn’t have time to drive somewhere else for dinner in conjunction with our plans. We wound up eating California Pizza Kitchen for dinner before the concert. Though we joked that since it has California in the name it must be a local chain. After the taco lunch I wasn’t that hungry before we needed to leave to go to the Griffith Observatory, so we wound up eating gelato for dinner.

My big plan for Friday night was to go up to Griffith Observatory right before sunset, watch the sunset, and then get in line to view the telescope. My plan mostly failed thanks to their stupid parking. I had looked into this and basically determined it was going to be impossible to park at the observatory, but on nights where there isn’t a concert at The Greek you can park in those lots and walk up or take a shuttle. Then when we got into the park the signs showed there was still limited parking at observatory and the lots for the Greek were closed. So we drove up, but there were a million cars in front of us and once you’re that far there is no way to turn around. You have to drive through the entire park loop and back out again. There was no parking along the road and they wouldn’t even let you up to actual observatory parking lot. By the time we looped back around we could finally park in one of the Greek lots, but I don’t know why they don’t just have them open and let you park in any of them whenever instead of keeping them gated off until they decide you should park there. That added about 30 minutes to our transit time, so by the time got up there we only got the last glimmers of sunset and the line for the telescope was way too long to wait in. We probably wouldn’t have gotten to the front before they shut it down for the night. So we just enjoyed some nice views of the city at night and then walked back down to our car. I think it was still worth it, but also I’m annoyed that their dumb parking situation ruined my perfect plan. I don’t know how you would ever go up there on a night that there’s a show at The Greek Theatre. I don’t recommend trying it.

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I didn’t have anything on our agenda for Saturday morning since our plane didn’t leave until the afternoon. I wanted to get a little bit of exercise in, so we wound up walking along Hollywood Boulevard and looking at all the stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. I had no idea that some people have more than one star for different areas of entertainment. I learned that Gene Autry is the only one who has 5 stars, one for each of the categories represented.

We also stopped and grabbed snacks for the plane at the Laurel Canyon Country Store. I of course being a big fan of music am interested in the musical history of that area. There’s not really anything to do in Laurel Canyon as such. It’s just a residential area and my husband was uninterested in just driving through the canyon, which I understand given all the other driving and all the traffic we sat in. Right at the entrance to the canyon though is a little convenience store/deli that you could apparently run into lots of the famous people who live(d) in Laurel Canyon. We didn’t bump into any 60s rock icons, but at least I can say I did something related to Laurel Canyon. And that was pretty much the end of our little trip.

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This is my third time in LA, and I don’t ever feel compelled to come back here. I don’t find it a particularly compelling city to be in. Unless you’re up in the hills and looking at the views, it’s not a particularly pretty city. And if you’re in the hills then there’s all the worry that your house might disappear thanks to earthquakes, wild fires, and mud slides. It’s all sprawl and traffic. I feel like we drove through a lot of areas of the city since everywhere we went Google Maps was like there’s an accident on the 405 or 101 or both so let’s go not on the highway. I wouldn’t care to live in any of them. And the traffic as advertised is terrible. It took us almost an hour to go the 4 miles between our hotel and the Greek Theatre on Thursday night and it wasn’t because of traffic going to the concert. I also am confused as to where people park all these cars they’re driving around all the time because driving by there didn’t ever seem to be any parking for any of the businesses that lined all the streets. Doesn’t matter I guess because I will never need to know. As far as I’m concerned aside from the weather LA doesn’t have much to recommend it. I know some people love it. They can have it. I’ll keep Baltimore.

Maggie Rogers at The Greek Theatre

As I have written about here before I have a concert venue bucket list. My husband likes to gift me travel for birthdays and Christmas and now that I’ve been done with my 50 states for a number of years now he’s moved on to buying me tickets for shows at the venues I want to go to. We went to Nashville a couple of years ago and knocked a few off of the list.

This year for my birthday he got me tickets to go see Maggie Rogers at The Greek Theatre in Los Angeles. I am amused that the gift managed to be both an early birthday present and a belated birthday present because the tickets went on a sale a few weeks before my birthday so he told me about it to make sure it would work with my schedule before he bought tickets (or really handed me a credit card and told me to buy the tickets so I could pick out my seats). Then since the show wasn’t until 3 months after my birthday it was also a belated birthday present.

The Greek Theatre was on my bucket list because it’s a historic outdoor venue located in Griffith Park in Los Angeles that opened back in 1930. The land for the park was donated to the city by wealthy land owner Griffith J. Griffith (yes that’s really his name and not a nickname). He also donated money to have The Greek Theatre and the Griffith Observatory built, a fact I did not learn until after we went the Observatory. The venue is built into the side of a canyon in the park so the acoustics are great and you’re surrounded by trees. Although sitting in the venue you can’t actually see much of the nature that surrounds you. The seats slope down a hill to the stage with the Greek facade behind it, which is where the name comes from. You can’t see over the facade to anything outside and you’re basically just looking into the side of a hill with a few trees that you can see around the side of the seats if you turn around. I’ve been to prettier venues, but it was a great place to see a show.

Unlike a lot of outdoor venues where you have pavilion seats and a lawn that sort of separates the audience, this is just one large theatre of seats sloping down a hills, so you get the full vibe of the audience together, which was great for a show like Maggie Rogers who definitely had people on their feet bopping along with her. It also only seats just under 6,000 people, so it’s a fairly intimate venue.

As per usual I managed to wind up by the most obnoxious people. I have no idea what happened to all the people sitting in the row in front of us. It was a sold out show, so I would have expected every seat to be full. The half of the row in front of us was never full. There were some people there for the opening band Now, Now that disappeared, which I thought odd. I mean liked Now, Now, but why wouldn’t you stay for Maggie Rogers too even if you came for Now, Now. There was no one in the two seats in front of us for the opening act. Two girls eventually showed up soon after Maggie started, but then they only stayed for about 4 songs and left. I have no idea what their deal was given there is nowhere in this venue to really go and hang out other than your seats. The real problem was the two other girls in the row who got super drunk and were way obnoxious as a result. Since all the other people in the row disappeared they basically moved in front of us and were super distracting. They were paying no attention to the show and drunkenly hanging all over each other such that they were blocking my view because there was no way to see between them and I couldn’t see around them without getting the space of the person sitting next to me. I was happy they miraculously somehow chilled out and just stood there for “Back in My Body”, which is probably my favorite Maggie Rogers’ song unless “Light On” is, and they left right before she ended her set with that, so at least they didn’t ruin my two favorite songs.

Maggie was great as always. She is such a good performer and is super energetic and dancing around the stage. She reminds me of Florence Welch from Florence + the Machine in that way. She pretty much played every single song she’s ever released at this point. I kind of like going to concerts when artists only have so many songs to play so you’re guaranteed to hear your favorites. It’s always a bummer when artists get a few albums under their belts and that one song you love is something they for whatever reason never add to their live rotation.

I appreciate that three years into the crazy whirlwind that her career has been that she still seems completely overwhelmed and thankful about everything she is experiencing. I’m pretty sure she was crying when she came back out for her encore. For the encore she came out without her band and sang “Alaska” with just an acoustic guitar. It’s like going back to the beginning since that was the song that started it all for her and rocketed her into the public consciousness with the viral video of Pharrell Williams’ reaction to her playing that song during a class at The Berklee School of Music where he was sitting in as a guest teacher.

It was an excellent show, and I’m happy I finally got to see a show at the famous Greek Theatre. It will probably be my one and only because I don’t ever feel compelled to return to Los Angeles again. I’ll write more about the rest of our trip in a future post.

 

New Music Wednesday?: When I Wasn’t Watching by Mandy Moore

I’m not going to be around on Friday to put up a New Music Friday post this week. I was just planning on leaving you high and dry, but then Mandy Moore dropped this new song yesterday and I have thoughts. So you’re getting a New Music Wednesday post instead.

“When I Wasn’t Watching” is Mandy Moore’s first new song in 10 years. I was never a Mandy Moore fan previously. It’s not even that I disliked her music. I’m just not sure I even know it. I obviously knew of Mandy Moore, and I’m sure I’ve heard some of her music before but I could not name you a single song of hers. So it’s not like I’ve been dying for new music by her. But this song was everywhere yesterday, so I thought I would check it out.

Apparently her ex-husband, Ryan Adams, was very controlling and basically stopped her from making music hence the long hiatus. I never understood their relationship. Now it turns out that Ryan Adams, although I still adore his music, is an even more terrible person than I thought. I wish people who make things that I love would stop being terrible so I was allowed to enjoy it. I miss Ryan Adams music. But I digress.

Now Mandy Moore is remarried to Taylor Goldsmith the frontman of Dawes, whose music I also really love and who is not a terrible person. So yay progress! He has been working with her on new music, and you can really hear it. I don’t know if he’s actually playing the guitar in this track, but the instrumental part of the song sure as heck sounds like Dawes, which I am here for.

Overall though, I do not understand this song. The instrumental track and the melody she’s singing to do not seem to go together at all. At times I feel like it’s even out of sync. It’s like someone took an instrumental track from a Dawes song and then took a lyric track from a different Mandy Moore song and made a not so great mashup of them. Reception of the song seems to be fairly positive, so maybe I’m just the one out of sync. What do you think?