With a new year comes new posts and a new direction. Seeing as that everyone pretty much knows I’m all about karaoke and music I thought I’d start up the blog again and post about shows as well. And this one is an exciting one as I went to see Trampled by Turtles this Thursday.
I have a long time friend by the name of Patsy who’s been one of my driving forces in music. We get excited and talk about upcoming shows to which she usually buys tickets and I throw money at her until she’s satisfied. (love ya Patsycake) To date we’ve seen Braid, the Gaslight Anthem, Minus the Bear and Cursive last year alone. I was on a banjo and bluegrass kick thanks to Mumford and Sons and the Avett Brothers so when Patsy introduced me to Trampled by Turtles I was already keen on the sound. More on that in a bit.
The Fillmore was a nice little venue with crystal chandeliers and music hall type decor. There were framed pictures of bands in the hallways and the main stage area had a sweet bar setup on the first floor and a second floor mezzanine seating. We got fairly close to the stage so we could fully absorb the sound waves in our ear holes.
Our opener was called Honey Honey to which Patsy and I were a little skeptical. Most of the openers for the bands we’ve seen were kind of disappointing but as soon as the lead singer walked on and started singing and strumming on her banjo I was sold.
And she fiddles. <3
Trampled by Turtles even came up and did a song with them which was pretty sick. You could tell they had been touring together for a while as the chemistry was awesome.
When the band finally came on the crowd was already at a fever pitch thanks to Honey Honey warming us up. However they started off slow with a quiet number called Alone off their last album Stars and Satellites. It cooled things down a bit as it was kind of a sing along tune which showcased the soulfulness of the band’s sound.
From there they started on a whole frenzy of banjo and fiddling tunes. There were wild rollicking songs that got the crowd dancing and I could feel everyone stomping their feet and clapping their hands.
The energy in the place just skyrocketed! There were rambling songs, ballads, and sounds emanating from the fiddle ranging from whale sounds to angelic crooning or screams and shrieks. I always knew the violin was versatile but a good fiddler knows how to make it wail!
Things were getting too fast to capture at one point. These guys knew how to put on a show and they were feeding it hot and fast to the crowd!
By the end of their set everyone was pretty sweaty, hoarse from screaming, and euphoric. They did the old song and dance of walking off the stage, making the crowd chant for an encore, then coming back and obliging the crowd. But when they ended with Again I felt that it was a nice melancholy finish to the show. It kind of hints at the longing of us fans seeing the band play again.
Hopefully real soon.
Tonight I’m going to see Trampled by Turtles with my good friend Patsy. Blog post forthcoming!
I’m thinking about altering the focus of this here blog to encompass all live music and not just karaoke. Keep your eyes on this space I guess…
I was pleasantly surprised to find that Jimmy James had this song last night. <3
So last night was my first karaoke night singing without smoking. I had been smoking on and off socially for more than ten years, with the last couple of months being particularly heavy (a pack almost every other day). That part was more stress smoking but we won’t go into that.
I’ve heard people talk about the benefits of quitting smoking and how you’ll start noticing quirks after a couple of weeks. The one thing I noticed immediately after a couple of days was all of a sudden I had all this anxious energy that I couldn’t dampen with a nicotine fix. Some honest to goodness leg thumping under the table energy which seem to come out of nowhere. Is it anxiety from wanting to smoke? Or was this energy always there and I had been too complacent with my smoking to notice it? I’ve a good friend who believes in the energy that people radiate and give to one another: I would wonder how mine would look to her now.
Last night was the outlet I needed; I sang but two songs. The first was a King’s of Leon song by the tune of The Bucket, which was okay sounding, but it was just a warm up exercise. By the end of that song I knew I was going to need to pour myself into another song and make it count or else I knew I’ll never shake the monkey off my back.
So this song came to me, as well as a whole mess of other memories, emotions, and gut feelings. I knew, when I took the mic from Becca , that I was going to start moving to this song with both hands gripping the mic. I was certain that I was going to put it all out there and leave it on the floor with all my doubts and regrets about my ugly habit. Damn near half the bar joined me in belting it out which lent something to the night to make it memorable.
This is how I know that I’ll never fully give in to smoking…
Nothing I’ll ever smoke or inhale will feel better than what I felt last night and every other night that I”m singing.
It’s been told in stories that power of song has many wondrous properties. Bards have sung savage beasts to sleep, secret doors and passages can be opened by tune, and let’s not forget what the right song can do to inspire conflict. You know what I’m talking about: take any fight scene or training montage and listen to the music going on in the background.
It moves you.
It takes you in the moment and changes you, readies you for the fight, brings you down from the climax, signals the end of a scene. It makes a poignant little love story dramatic and brings tension to the moment before the killer strikes. It takes you outside yourself, puts you back into perspective, and allows you to see others in a different light.
Sometimes it brings you closer and at other times it takes you away from people. It helps to keep good memories sacred and becomes part of the process to help you to forget. Being a fan of music I find that she’s a fickle mistress: one moment she fills me with love for life and at other times she drops me into the deepest well. She’s a bitch, that one…
I regret nothing about it though. I live through song.
Otherwise I’m better off dead.
The music never really stops… sometimes you’ve gotta drop the beat every once in a while to keep things interesting. I’ve every intention of keeping this blog regular; It’s just that life changes over the course of a couple of months and you find yourself adjusting in different ways.
Last time, one of my favorite karaoke nights had called it quits so we got drunk and said our goodbyes. Since then, I had gone away to the Philippines for the one year anniversary of my Dad’s passing. Two weeks off, in which 13 hour flights to and from the homeland and 6+ hour road trips would seem to leave very little time spent on hiatus. The day of the anniversary, we held a small rosary prayer circle at my dad’s tomb followed by a light lunch reception. Honestly, the rest of trip would be nondescript save for the opening of a hair salon and a motorcade.
But there was one karaoke moment…
This little guy was set up in the restaurant and bar that my mother owns and is called a videoke machine. Basically a tv and dvd player with karaoke software interfaced into an arcade cabinet. Don’t ask me how, I was just happy it produced sound and amplified noise through a microphone. One stormy day I was bored out of my mind so I took it for a spin and there was a huge selection of songs! I did everything from Frank Sinatra, the Foo Fighters, Bob Marley and every where in between. I even found a Violent Femmes song (Blister in the Sun)! At one point I tried my hand at singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow in the lame hopes that by the end of the song the rain would let up and the sun would be out.
The proceeding lightning and thunder gave the impression that the storm was unimpressed; I continued singing anyway.
When I came back home to California it was business as usual save for a few surprises. FoKaraoke came back, which is a relief because I needed something to do on my Monday nights. A couple old friends came back into my life, both of whom I welcome wholeheartedly. Others would be moving away from California and onto bigger and better things. You know who you guys are… I love you all the same.
I guess if I learned anything from the past couple of months is that life, like music, just finds a way I guess.
There’ll be more karaoke down the line.
(If you actually read this blog, play this song at the end. Or play it as you read through, that’s fine too)
On Monday, Jimmy James called it quits on FoKaraoke as his laptop could no longer reliably perform the tasks which we’d taken for granted. Instead of heading home bummed and disappointed Nik, Cheryl, James and Dez, and I drank to the memories of karaoke at the Caravan. We drank to our firsts and last times, the good and bad times, and to the many friends made over the years. We’ve hurled many a song and heart against that little hole in the wall.
Here’s a memory I’m fond of:
Last year in this month of May, I lost my father to A.L.S. (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. There was a lot of pain in that time, depths of feeling and an ocean of suffering that I lost myself in. We had just finished a weeks worth of family prayers for my Dad before we would fly back home to bury him and I knew there’d be more prayers and services waiting for us there. I needed something else to settle matters and ease my hurting heart, something for me and him.
Somehow I had gotten it into my head that a karaoke tribute night was that something before I shipped off for a month. I invited as many people as I could, and though memory fails me on whether it was a weekday or not, I wasn’t expecting a great turnout. What I got were the regulars, a lot of good friends, my entire store of coworkers and just about everyone else relevant to help me to celebrate the life and times of my father.
Needless to say I was touched and, for the first time since he passed, I could feel some light in my life. So I sang to him, to them, and everyone else in the bar that night. I drank and dedicated toasts and songs in his name and everyone helped to lift the weight of those weeks from my heart. The shining moment of that night (and I will never forget this) happened as I was out smoking. Nicholas, a good friend and coworker, had called me back in so I finished my cigarette and stumbled into the bar. A group of friends were waiting for me with mics in hand to which Nicholas explained that the next song was dedicated to me.
Jimmy James queued up the song then, and as they surrounded and put their arms around me the music started and I remember thinking to myself;
"See Dad? This is the company I keep…".
The tricky thing when blogging about drinking and karaoke is how much you can recall of the night when you were wasted. Last Wednesday I apparently had so good of a time that I had difficulty recollecting the night enough for a blog post. This persisted throughout Friday, Cinco de Mayo, and by Sunday I had all but given up on trying to get it together.
My phone had this picture of Jeff singing the Killers “Mr. Brightside”. That’s all I got really…
Anyway Monday night FoKaraoke at the Caravan didn’t fire as Jimmy James’s laptop finally died and had to be put in the shop. I’m hoping for it’s speedy recovery or a more reliable replacement.
I had spent this Wedesday hanging out with my good friend Patsy who was visiting from El Cerrito. We also used to work together downtown with James and were former roommates. Our day was spent checking out a new rock climbing studio, eating delicious burritos, shopping at Savers and Stevens Creek Surplus, before finally having pints at our favorite pub, Trials. I was in high spirits by the time I had seen her off at the transit station and looking forward to karaoke at the Dive.
Becca came out to greet me as I was smoking right outside, having arrived early. We talked about her band Night Train, their show last Friday, and got invited to a couple other shows. Regretfully, I told her I’d be out of town for those gigs (she had a couple of choice names to call me) but promised to catch the next one as soon as I got back. There ya go Becca, it’s on digital print and is almost legally binding. The gang showed up just as I was finishing my cigarette and we rolled in, ready for the night.
My first track of the evening was Queens of the Stone Age “No One Knows”, a song I hear frequently on the radio and shamelessly burst into song to. JQP put up his tribute to MCA and the Beastie Boys with “Fight for Your Right to Party”, which the crowd ate up. Frotim sang a Nirvana track which I don’t remember at the moment, but later paired up with Roberto to rock a very memorable rendition of Kid Rock’s “Bawitdaba”. (“SO MANY WORDS!”) I later sang Hot Hot Heat’s “Bandages” which actually got me winded more than halfway through. It has these really intense vocals that you have to throw yourself into and at almost breakneck speed no less, never mind that the hook “bandages” is repeated a million times throughout the song.
But Eric? Eric killed tonight with his rendition of a song I had only heard about in legend one fateful night. I’m glad I was able to catch it as it was definitely the highlight to one of the best Wednesdays I’ve had off.
Queen’s “Under Pressure”