March 8, 2010

Thanks to everyone who joined in the hysteria last Friday night as Georgia, James, Bruce and I took to the airwaves to grapple with your requests in return for donations of your hard-earned $$ to WFMU. And I do mean everyone. There were more pledges coming through than we could compute – it’s only now that I’m realizing how many we never acknowledged at all, not even in the empty-the-bench closing medley of “Sex Bomb.” With that in mind, we want to send our regrets to Andrew in Brooklyn,  Conor in D.C., Bean Bag Amerika in Brooklyn, Laurie in Chapel Hill, Ann in Flushing, Daniel in Flushing, John and Becky in Greenwich, Ann and Evan in Providence, Stephen in West Chester – this is getting to be like the end of Romper Room – Stephen in Canada, Chris in Madison, Ben in NYC, and Arlene in Jersey City for overlooking their suggestions. But we want to send out our most profuse apologies to everyone whose request we did take and the resultant bloodshed. And I do mean bloodshed. Even before the night was over, revisionism had set in, positing that my index finger started gushing blood during “TV Eye.” But I’m here to tell you it happened during our incendiary take on “Second Hand News.” Thanks again to one and all. Keep supporting WFMU.

February 27, 2010

Is this really my first post of the year?  In that case, let me bring you up to date.  We’ve spent the early part of 2010 trying to see how many people we can get on stage with us to perform songs by the Clean. It’s going pretty well.  Times New Viking helped us out with “Oddity” in Lawrence, Kansas in January, and  card-carrying  Clean member, Robert Scott, sang “Secret Place” and “I Wait Around” with us on consecutive nights in Auckland and Wellington earlier this month.   Saw This Is It en route to New Zealand and My One and Only on the way home – guess which flight didn’t have on-demand movies.

Now that we’re caught up, it’s nearly March, which means it’s time for the WFMU Marathon.  For the 15th year in a row, we will take to the airwaves and, with your help and generosity, humiliate ourselves so that this great station can continue the doing of their thing.  In case you’re new to this catastrophe, if you pledge $100 to WFMU between 8 and 11 pm on Friday, March 5, during Pseu Braun’s Thing with a Hook program, you can make a song request.  And we will try to play it.  How is this possible, you ask.  The answer is simple: It’s not possible.  Can’t be done.  But there’s countless ways to get it wrong, and we’ll attempt as many as we can within the constraints of a three-hour show.  As ever, we will accompanied by Mr. Bruce Bennett on chord-missing and word-forgetting.  Air personality Gaylord Fields will be co-hosting.

If you don’t want to wait for Friday, you can donate to WFMU right now and email your request to Gaylord, who will keep it in a hermetically sealed mayonnaise jar on Funk and Wagnall’s doorstep until March 5 at eight o’clock.   Caution: If you’re the person who thinks that Oscar® winners get advance word or the NBA draft lottery is rigged, wait for Friday to make your request.

Please join us.  And please support WFMU.

December 20, 2009

Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart famously said of obscenity, “I know it when I see it.”  We’re here to tell you that also in that category is the 6.4 on the Richter scale earthquake.  Moments before we went on stage last night in Taipei, our final show of 2009, we encountered something that none of us had ever experienced, but nevertheless recognized instantaneously.  It lasted somewhere between 15 seconds and an eternity, and subsequent news accounts (some which put the quake at 6.8) report just a few injuries, freeing us to lament that we were too rattled to work up an impromptu “I Feel the Earth Move” or “Shakin’ the World.”  (As we all know, the Supreme Court’s decision in Jacobellis v. Ohio was not unanimous.  Along those lines, I feel I’d be remiss if I didn’t concede that one member of our touring party did not realize there had been an earthquake until after the show was over.)

December 11, 2009

Stroke is a 2-cd tribute to the great Chris Knox, known far and wide, not only for his contribution to the cover of  Painful, but for over thirty years of amazing music.  David Kilgour, Portastatic, the Chills, Lou Barlow, the Verlaines, Bill Callahan, Hamish Kilgour, Lambchop, the Bats,  Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Alec Bathgate, and Stephin Merritt are just some of the artists who have contributed versions of Toy Love, Tall Dwarfs, and Chris Knox songs, to help cover the costs incurred by the massive stroke Chris suffered earlier this year.  The new Tall Dwarfs “bonus track” alone is worth whatever you pay for this record.  Go here for more information, including how to purchase Stroke, which is also available on download from Merge (who will be putting out a U.S. version in February).  We’re on it too.

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November 19, 2009

Dateline Europe.  At the conclusion of “Shadows” last night in Lund, Sweden, the halftime whistle blew. So while Coach Puleo draws some x’s and o’s on the locker room chalkboard, I’ve got a few moments to check in.

If you’ve ever wondered why Vernon Duke and Yip Harburg wrote a song called “April in Paris,” and not, say, “November in Copenhagen,” we’ve solved that mystery.  We’ve encountered a two-week block of clouds and rain the likes of which would turn a Seattle resident gloomy, though as is our wont — and due to some sloppy packing — we are letting a smile be our umbrella.

A few highlights: Norman Blake joined us for the Teenage Fanclub favorite “I Heard You Looking” in Glasgow, after which we went out on the town and heard NRBQ played by a club dj.  Euros Childs opened our UK shows, and he and Stephen Black took over the piano and organ for “I Wanna Be Your Lover” in Manchester (we wanted to do a Dylan song in the city where the “Albert Hall” concert was recorded, and didn’t have time to work up “Must Be Santa”).  We had a string section for “If It’s True” and “Here to Fall” at our London show at the Roundhouse.

This tour includes a whole bunch of shows with Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby, most of which are still to come.  But we do have three under the collective belt, and have managed to coax the shy and retiring Wreckless Eric on stage twice.  He and Amy sang “Dizzy” with us in Leuven, and “You Tore Me Down” in Amsterdam (the latter mere minutes before they discovered that someone had broken into their, uh, ambulance).

We had a fine time in Scandinavia despite an exchange rate that required constant vigilance at the risk of purchasing a $30 bar of soap.  We watched Monk on tv in the ancestral home of Hans Christian Andersen, and ate herring and pytt i panna and tunnbrodsrulle in the ancestral home of Jesper Eklow.  We’ve probably done some other stuff too, but it’s time for the start of the third quarter.  See you soon.

October 26, 2009

Taking a brief time-out from the tour so we can go see the Trashmen.  Since we’re not doing the Hanukkah shows this year, and since National Nut Day only comes around once per annum, we thought we’d bring a little holiday cheer to the Showbox/Sodo in Seattle Thursday night.  We invited the one and only Howard Kaylan to sing a few numbers with us, and he graciously agreed.  From our Hanukkah ’07 set list, we reprised “You Baby” and “She’d Rather Be with Me,” and added some new material too, in the form of “Outside Chance.”

See you in Europe.