Blog moved to Tumblr

I’ve moved my blog over to Tumblr and some day will switch over the Ramblings page to pull content from the new blog. Until then, please head over to aztalanturf.tumblr.com to read my ramblings. WordPress is awsome, but I think Tumblr is going to be a better tool for me going forward.

If you care to read the details of why I moved to Tumblr, read this post.

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New Radio K In Studio Performances

For those who aren’t from around here (i.e. the Twin Cities), the University of Minnesota has a pretty cool radio station called Radio K. They just posted a ton of recent in-studio performances. Since I was on the site and looked through the entire list anyway, I figured I may as well save you some trouble and post the ones I’ve bookmarked for a listen.

  • The Alpha Centauri
    Fairly experimental band that features one of my favorite vocalists, Linnea Mohn, also of Coach Said Not To, Rogue Valley, The Dale Hush Hush, Skirt and probably others.
  • Dessa
    I’ve been hearing a lot about Dessa lately and have been meaning to check out her work. She’s a writer, poet and spoken word artist who seems to have stumbled into hip hop. But you probably knew all that because I know I’m behind the curve here.
  • Doomtree SXSW 2011 | 2008-08-01
    Hip hop collective from Minneapolis and I know I’m totally behind the curve here as well. Dessa is a Doomtree member, along with Atmosphere, P.O.S. and more.
  • Funeral and the Twilight
    Check these guys out on episode 30. They’re a little bit out there musically fusing about a bazillion different genres and sounds together and that’s why I like them. Great live act, as well.
  • Gospel Gossip 2008-05-23 | 2008-06-25
    Gospel Gossip is a fun pop/rock/electronic (and somewhat quirky) band out of Northfield, MN. Caught a live set when they were on the bill with either Best Friends Forever or Dance Band and really liked what I heard.
  • Malachi Constant
    Heard a lot about these guys when I was DJing in college. Figured I should check out their live set.
  • P.O.S.
    Hip hop artist and member of Doomtree and Atmosphere. He was a panelist for a songwriting forum at Minnesota Public Radio that I attended back in 2008. I really enjoyed hearing his thoughts on the topic and have been meaning to check out his work more closely for a very long time.
  • School of Seven Bells 2008-11-22 | 2011-01-24
    My good friend Lucy introduced me to School of Seven Bells about a year ago. I’m still in the discovery phase with their work.
  • Spaghetti Western String Co.
    Saw these guys play at Patio Nights at the Minnesota Museum of American Art. Patio Nights were, quite possibly, the best part about summer in the Twin Cities. Unfortunately, the museum had to move out of their space and they no longer have the super kick ass patio (or any space right now), thus, no more Patio Nights *sniffle*. Spaghetti Western String Co. are no longer active, but I enjoyed their music and you can find some tracks available for free on their website.

Nothing Like Phoenix in the Summer

Well it looks like my grandparents aren’t coming home from Arizona this summer. They usually drive down to Phoenix in October and drive back to the Milwaukee area in May. My grandpa isn’t in good enough health to make the drive back and they were going to fly back this week, but he’s not in good enough health for that, either. The doctor told him he can’t travel right now. It’s a pretty big deal that he was going to fly back. He hasn’t been in a plane since WWII and I’m surprised he even agreed to it in the first place. He’s your stereotypical WWII veteran with a plane phobia, plus he’s a super grumpy old man (he was grumpy even when he wasn’t an old man…it’s part of his charm).

I’m really bummed about this. They’ve been splitting their time about half and half between Wisconsin and Arizona for the past 15 years or so. I make the trip back from Minneapolis to Milwaukee quite a bit during the summer mainly to see my grandparents. I don’t get to see them much and I had a trip planned for Memorial Day weekend. I guess I need to start thinking about a trip to Phoenix this summer.

The good news is that they got their airfare fully refunded and they hadn’t yet shipped their car. And they both really like it down there and have a lot of friends and things to do. But it still sucks that I won’t be able to see them much if at all this year.

Record Store Day Purchases

April 16 was Record Store Day 2011. I celebrated by hitting up Cheapo Discs in St. Paul with a few friends. Here’s my list of purchases (all used):

  • Blondie – The Best of Blondie
  • The Crow City of Angels OST
  • Deftones – Adrenaline
  • INXS – Greatest Hits
  • REM – Eponymous (this one was only $0.95!)
  • REM – Out of Time

A Short Break

I’ve been doing the podcast for just over a year now and I’m enjoying myself thoroughly, but it’s a lot of work. I knew that in order to put together the kind of show I’d be proud to attach my name to that it would be and that’s why it took a couple of years of hemming and hawing to actually take the plunge. I’m a perfectionist and also have a tendency to overbook myself. I’m really good at overbooking myself. If there was an Olympic event for people who overbook themselves, I’d certainly be a gold medal contender.

With the amount of work spent on the show combined with a very aggressive work schedule since last June, helping promote concerts with Kilted Farmer Koncerts and regular life in general, I’ve decided to take a little break from the show. Just a short one. Don’t worry, everything’s fine, but I need some time away to re-energize myself so this podcasting thing continues to be fun.

My interview with Raziel Panic of You Shriek, which is episode 28, will be the last episode until the first week of May. That gives you a little time to catch up on any episodes you may have missed and also some time to check out other really great podcasts and internet radio stations. There’s a big list of my favorites over on the links page. I’ll of course still be on Twitter and Facebook and checking out new music – no worries there 🙂 Thanks for listening and I’ll be back soon.

Emilie Autumn at Station 4 2011-02-19

I hadn’t heard much of Emilie Autumn‘s music, but I did know that she’s a violinist and that was enough to get me to see her live. It was questionable whether she’d be able to perform, as she had to cancel the past few dates due to a throat infection and no voice. The show went on and despite being under the weather with a voice less than 100%, she gave the performance her all.

It was an interesting night. Even though most of the music was pre-recorded (minus the vocals and an occasional keyboard or violin part), Emilie Autumn and her merry band of Bloody Crumpets put on a very visually interesting and entertaining show. The performance was quite theatrical in the burlesque style and definitely had what I’d call a musical theater feel to it. The venue, Station 4, wasn’t the best place for Emilie Autumn to play, as it’s a bit of a dive with a small stage and support posts down the middle of the floor and stage in contrast to the gorgeous costumes and Victorian themes of the performers and the show, but whatcha gonna do?

I was disappointed that there was not a lot of live violin, but as a fellow violinist, I understand how hard it would be to do much singing and playing at the same time. It’s nearly impossible to do so with proper violin technique and Emilie Autumn definitely has a very textbook playing style.

Some interesting moments during the evening included the Crumpets throwing freshly licked tea cookies out at the crowd, a bit called the “Rat Game” whereby a female audience member who has never kissed a girl before is brought on stage to kiss Crumpet Veronica, and one of the Crumpets did an extended crowd surf and then later donned stilts.

Even if you don’t like Emilie Autumn’s music, it is definitely worth seeing her live show, as she is a true entertainer.

On an somewhat unrelated note, after I got home from the show, I checked out Emilie Autumn’s Twitter page and saw this rant about people asking for freebies…free tickets to shows, free VIP passes, free whatever:

http://www.twitlonger.com/show/8smcuu

Her post struck a chord with me, as I have made it a point for the past 10+ years to support independent artists. It started by my decision to boycott the RIAA in 2000 (RockBand tracks are one of very few exceptions) and seek out music by independent artists and labels. Today, I not only spend my hard earned money on independent music, but I also attend a large number of concerts, help spread the word about the indie artists I find interesting via my podcast (of which I fund entirely out of my pocket), and also promote concerts. I put a lot of time, money and energy into supporting independent music and while I don’t expect everyone to put in the same amount of effort, freeloaders who just don’t get it do really annoy me.

Autumn writes:

“To all those asking for free tix, free this, free that, kindly permit me inform you that the amount of $$$ I have lost on touring during the past five years is nothing short of astronomical, is far more than an upper class American’s yearly salary, and could in fact purchase a small city.”

It is abundantly clear that Emilie Autumn takes her craft very seriously and I can’t imagine how frustrating it must be as a struggling artist to be constantly bombarded with requests from people who claim to be fans yet who are not willing to shell out a small amount of money for a concert ticket, music, whatever to help support the art they enjoy. It’s a small price to pay to help ensure the artist is able to continue making art and to continue touring. I understand that we are in an economic crisis right now, but if you’re really as big of a fan as you say you are, plan ahead, save up and get yourself to the show. If it’s not possible to for you to buy a ticket, don’t go begging to the artist for a free ride. That’s just rude.

Autumn’s post isn’t all negative. She says at the end:

“On the lovely side, fuck the major (and minor) labels of the world who claim that nobody is paying for music anymore, because there is ONE thing and one thing only from which I derive any income at all, and that is digital downloads bought via my own website and iTunes by honest, fair, and incredibly kind Plague Rats around the world who know very well that they could easily download pirated copies for free, but choose not to. For this I thank you endlessly and wholeheartedly, as do Basil, Sir Edward, and the other hundreds of Asylum ratties who get to eat because of you:).”

In response to Autumn’s tweet and after having purchased a hard copy of Opheliac at the show, I also purchased a digital download of the Girls Just Wanna Have Fun & Bohemian Rhapsody EP and Laced/Unlaced (Double Disc). While I enjoy Autumn’s music, I wouldn’t consider myself a big fan. So why spend my money on 3 albums and a concert ticket in the span of 24 hours? Because promoting creativity and supporting truly unique and talented artists is important to me. Thank you, Emilie Autumn and all the other artists out there who choose make the sacrifices necessary to devote your lives to your original art.

Cwn Annwn CD Release Show w/The Pimps, Gracepoint

I arrived to the Triple Rock about 5 minutes into Gracepoint’s set. As Cwn Annwn guitarist Neil James commented during the interview on episode 23, Gracepoint is an extremely technically talented group of musicians. They are also a very tight band. Sound-wise, Tennessee’s vocals are a cross between Second Coming’s Travis Bracht and Metallica’s James Hetfield. They had lots of nice guitar harmonies, fast drumming, and fancy bass playing.

I would have liked to see more movement on stage, however, especially out of vocalist Matt Tennesse. So while there were some very technically and sonically impressive moments out of Gracepoint, including some incredible Eddie Van Halen style tapping in harmony from both guitarists during the last song, I wasn’t really feeling Gracepoint, though I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing them again.

Rockford, Illinois band The Pimps was up next. The Pimps fuse quite a few different styles into their quirky rock. I heard everything from punk to 80s metal to country to prog rock. The Pimps also weaved in quite a bit of banter and story telling into their set, at one point even bringing up an audience member named Reed, hand selected by the audience, who’s a student studying Human Resources and appeared to be fairly unimpressed by the set. The band proceeded to crack a few jokes at Reed’s expense and then sang about his chosen profession.They closed with a cover of Charlie Daniel’s Devil Went Down to Georgia, which was the highlight of the set for me.

If you’re easily offended, it would be in your best interest to forget that The Pimps exist. There’s a shock value to some of the things said on stage and they were even selling t-shirts that said “Thank God I’m an Aethist” (I almost bought one but didn’t have enough cash for both a CD and a t-shirt). However, if you’re not easily offended and enjoy seeing a bunch of funny, witty, smart ass punks playing up tempo and musically interesting songs, then be sure to go catch The Pimps live.

Cwn Annwn closed out the night, playing their new concept album The Alpha and the Omega from start to finish. There were two highlight for me. The first was actually the instrumental track, Gaea’s Rebirth. I know the band was nervous about playing this one live because 1. it’s an instrumental 2. it’s long at almost 10 minutes and 3. it’s the 4th song on the album and thus the 4th song in the set, which could potentially send everyone outside for a smoke break or perhaps even back to the car with thoughts of warm blankets waiting at home (it was below zero degrees F out, after all). While a few people did take a smoke break, the majority of the crowd remained and remained enthusiastic throughout the song.

The band put on a phenomenal performance on a very technically difficult track.  The track really showcased bass player Mike Strohkirch’s skills on the 6 string fretless bass. Yes, I said fretless. I spoke with Storkirch briefly after the set and he said he’s only been playing fretless for a few months, which is quite impressive. James said this was the only chance to see Gaea’s Rebirth live, as they will be retiring it from their live sets going forward, and I was glad I was able to see it performed this once.

The second highlight for me was the final track, Nova. This one also appeared to be the crowd favorite. Nova is about as heavy as Cwn Annwn gets with frequent growls from both Stohkirch and James complimenting vocalist Julie Schultz’s clean and powerful melodies. I’m sure this song will be a regular inclusion in future live sets.

Overall, this was a solid performance from Cwn Annwn with lots of energy. Look for their next show in early March. They’re putting on a metal show / tattoo expo and full details are coming soon.