Who are parents

Our last performance of 1990 was a Planned Parenthood benefit in NYC at the no-longer-with-us venue Wetlands.  We had played most of the year in our acoustic guise, with Kevin Salem and Wilbo Wright, and indeed prior to the concert proper, the four of us provided background noise for a VIP cocktail hour.  But our “real” set of the night was electric, with Gene Holder on bass.  The bill was the Indigo Girls, Joan Osborne, and Matthew Sweet; I can’t even imagine what “Mushroom Cloud of Hiss” sounded like in that context.  No encore.





Thanks a lot

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.  Seventeen years ago today, we spend the holiday in Nuremberg with Run On.  We play “Be Thankful for What You Got” and Alan Licht joins us for “Know It’s Alright.”  Three other times we performed on Thanksgiving, all outside of the U.S., of course.  I mean, who in their right minds would schedule a concert in the U.S. on Thanksgiving?  The Kinks, that’s who–and if I haven’t already (I have), I’d like to thank my family for moving dinner to the afternoon so I could take the train to New York and see their performance of Preservation at the Felt Forum in 1974.  I was back the next night for the same show, which let out around the time of Elton John at Madison Square Garden.  As the two crowds mingled en route to the street, we learned that John Lennon had sat in with Elton, in what would turn out to be the last time he appeared on stage.

Hey, I’m not that tech savvy.  Can someone explain to me why this is photo #24 that comes up when I google “kinks preservation”?



A documentarian walks into a bar . . .

Documentarian Joe Angio writes to us about seeing Eleventh Dream Day at Hanukkah 2004. And though by the time that anniversary rolls around, this daybook will be down for the count, the story’s too good not to share.  As it happens we also played with Eleventh Dream Day 14 years ago today at the Bowery Ballroom, and that’s good enough for me.  (I am particularly pleased with this anecdote because of its passing similarity to a joke that I have an inexplicable fondness for, one that is probably being excised from your finer joke books even as we speak.)  Here goes:

Eleventh Dream Day was opening during that year’s Hanukkah residency at Maxwell’s.  This was especially good news because they were my all-time favorite band from Chicago, my hometown.  In the late 80s-early 90s, I would have bet (and, sadly, lost) every last dollar that they would be the band to really put Chicago on the map.  While we had a burgeoning post-punk/indie scene, it was quite local and generally unknown nationally.  It used to insult my sense of civic pride that there were these great music scenes in Boston, Minneapolis—even Athens, GA!—though Chicago was still basically known as the home of Styx.  I just KNEW Eleventh Dream Day would change all that.

Back then, I lived a block from the Rainbo Club, which became my living room for a few years; one of the bartenders was EDD’s Rick Rizzo.  Even though Rainbo couldn’t be more laid-back and welcoming, I was always a bit starstruck in his presence, and my interactions with him never amounted to anything more than your typical bartender-customer relationship.

Cut to: Dec. 11, 2004 at Maxwell’s.  Eleventh Dream Day has finished their set and returned to the back room to watch that night’s comedian (Todd Barry?).  [Nope, Marc Maron.]  I go up to Rick and introduce myself, telling him, “You probably don’t remember me but you served me many drinks at the Rainbo back in the day.”  Rick shakes my hand and starts sizing me up.  I could just see the wheels spinning in his head as he tried to place this long-ago face.  Finally, he nods and says, “Jameson on the rocks, splash of water, right?”  Which, of course, is exactly what I ordered every single time in the Rainbo.  I’m not sure if this reflects more on Rick’s stellar bartending skills or my drinking habits but, either way, I was duly impressed!

Then Yo La Tengo came on and killed, sending me home with ringing ears yet again.

End of story.

Before we go–still loosely on the topic of Hanukkah–we’d like to wish a happy 7th birthday to Ronnie O’Brien of Weehawken.  It’s too much to hope that she’s as well dressed now as she was a baby.



A little traveling music, please

Just three shows on this date, and they’re all keepers.  In 2000, our mini-residency at the Bowery Ballroom, which you’ll remember from such posts as yesterday’s, continues and finds us sharing the stage with the Go-Betweens (sadly, that’s a bit of an exaggeration–in fact, we took turns).  The late, great Grant McLennan hears us rehearsing Jackie DeShannon’s “Should I Cry” at soundcheck and asks me to show him the chords, which is doubly flattering as it assumes I actually know them.  We play “Mushroom Cloud of Hiss” for the only time that year.  2006, we’re at Fri-Son in Fribourg, Switzerland.  Fortified by some of the finest in-house cuisine we’ve ever had the pleasure to be served, our first encore is an unprecedented tour-de-I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One: “Sugarcube,” “Stockholm Syndrome,” and a drumless “Little Honda.”  Finally, five years ago, our one and only visit to Poland, under the auspices of the Ars Cameralis Festival in Katowice.  Since we’re playing the Jazz Club Hipnoza, it seems only sporting to bust out “Nuclear War”; the Electric Eels cover was more a matter of reading the room.  All this and Wreckless Eric and Amy Rigby, too.


hale-street-link                                                            Go Between Bridge, Brisbane

Weekend at Bowery Ballroom

If at any time in the last 14 years, you’ve listened to my guitar playing and wished it were better, hey, it’s not my fault, it’s Alan’s.  Writing a few months ago from Baltimore (or as they helpfully point out Charm City), he and Stacey recall: Okay, way back in late November of 2000, we saw the band at Bowery Ballroom with Damon and Naomi opening.  I asked you and Georgia why you didn’t play “Red Buckets” more often.  Alan attempted to describe the virtues of Jorma Kaukonen’s guitar video.  He offered to send you a copy, a gesture you good-naturedly accepted.  He later realized this would be pirating and thought better of it.  This was the first show we ever went to together and we’re still at it, married 11 years last November.

Happy 12th anniversary!  Here’s a retroactive memory for the next time you tell that story.  It was the first of a three-night run at the Bowery Ballroom.  I don’t have to remind you that Damon and Naomi sat in with us on a few songs that evening, and maybe you even remember us inviting a member of the audience to play bongos on “You Sexy Thing.”  Did you recognize him?  Though we like to flatter ourselves that we’re cinéastes, I sheepishly confess that between Georgia, James and me, not a one of us figured out our percussionist was screen star Jason Woliner!  We had no choice but to burn our Film Forum cards.  It wasn’t until years later when Jason had moved to the other side of the camera and we were (re-)introduced that he told us of our previous meeting.




History is bunk

As we draw ever closer to December 2 and our 30th birthday, these reminiscences are threatening to create a feedback loop, as I start looking back at a year of looking back.  I am especially gratified that among all of the contributions we have gotten, none have included corrections of previous posts, because this history game can be tricky.  A perusal of HistoryOrb.com lets us know that the great George O’Hanlon was born today . . . in either 1912 or 1917.  Susan Anspach, too, somewhere between 1939 and 1942.  Well, that We Report, You Decide hogwash may fly over at HistoryOrb, but we take our journalistic oath more seriously here at Yo La Tengo hq.  When I tell you that the only time we’ve played outside of Germany on this date was in 1993, at the 930 Club, no need to fact-check.  What better song to open with in D.C. than “Bad Politics”?


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