Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Rhett Miller Interview - Sessions at OTN #5, June 24, 2009

When I first had the idea to start a Web talk show at my house, I had plans to focus on local musicians that I thought were special and amazing. I wanted to do my part in helping them gain exposure and extend their reach on the Internet. I had some dreams about big names that might someday come over and do an episode, but really considered that to be in the very far future, if at all. One of the biggest of those names was Rhett Miller, the talented and charismatic lead singer of the Old 97's and a solo artist in his own right. I was thrilled when Rhett agreed to an interview back in April when he was coming to Austin for his Unplugged at the Grove gig. But alas, that was not meant to be. His connecting flight in Detroit was canceled the night before, which shifted his schedule, and understandably, I was bumped. Rhett promised to reschedule, and as luck would have it, we were to be in NYC at the same time, Rhett with his Old 97's bandmates for a four-night stand at Maxwell's in Hoboken, and me going to Manhattan to do some research at The New York Times. So, I took the show on the road. Rhett took time out from his busy schedule (he did press at CNN on the morning of my interview, and had played three of the four Hoboken shows as well as a Philly show that week) to have a delightful chat with me. And, he played two songs from his brand new, self-titled, solo CD, demonstrating his incredible talent and energy in an intimate, stripped-down, unamped, unmic'd setting. Please enjoy the three-part interview and performances below. I know I did!

If you have a chance to see Rhett or the Old 97's, or, better yet, both at the same time on this current tour, grab it. They have an impressive body of work and really know how to deliver a fun performance. See pics and video from the two shows I saw in Hoboken here and here.

Part I - Rhett talks about his new CD and the Hoboken four-show residency An Evening with the Old 97's.

Part II - Rhett talks about the Old 97's forthcoming covers EP, being on the season finale of 30 Rock and using Twitter.

Part III - More on Twitter, fleeing NYC after 9/11 and his favorite things to do in Manhattan.

I Need to Know Where I Stand


Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Lemonheads, Bowery Ballroom, June 25, 2009

I wrapped up my week of concerts in NYC with a show from the Lemonheads. Lead singer Evan Dando is still playing music, and now he's joined by ex-Zero Boys Vess Ruhtenberg (bass) and Mark Cutsinger (drums) along with NYC-based guitarist, Xan Aird. Great show. All the hits I love, Outdoor Type, Into Your Arms, Rudderless, Confetti, It's a Shame About Ray, If I Could Talk. They're out promoting the new covers CD Varshons. Here are some of my photos and a few videos (the venue didn't allow recording, but I snuck in one of the Lemonheads and one of opener Varsity Drag - great band, Pixies-esque in style). Brooklyn Vegan has lots more pix, including a set list and some photos of the crowd that if I look really carefully, I can make myself out on stage right, near Evan.

My Drug Buddy

Opening Act - Varsity Drag

Another Evening with the Old 97s

I was lucky to get to spend not one, but two nights enjoying the Old 97s with solo sets by both Rhett and Murry. See my post from Saturday night. Their goal was to not repeat any songs over the four-night stand (except Timebomb, which is the tradition closer). So, on this fourth night, they reached way back for some gems. Video below. And, stay tuned for my interview with Rhett, to be uploaded soon!

The El


Ray Charles

Jack the Necrophiliac

Sunday, June 21, 2009

An Evening With... The Old 97s

It was a delightful coincidence that I ended up in NYC when the Old 97s planned a four night stand at Maxwell's in Hoboken. I had interviewed Rhett Miller earlier in the year, about his solo project, and he broached the idea of An Evening With... with he and Murry both playing solo sets as opening acts for the full band. I thought it was a great idea, and was happy to see it happen, and ecstatic that I could attend one of these shows. So, I trekked across the Hudson on a PATH train to NJ for an absolutely fantastic time. And, due to the power of the Internet and social media, I met up with online friends Marie and George, who were great to meet and hang out with. Enjoy some highlights from the show!

I Need to Know Where I Stand

Wish the Worst

The Easy Way

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Live from New York... It's Better Than Ezra

I have to be honest. When I started planning my NYC trip and saw that Better Than Ezra was playing, I thought it would be interesting to see what was going on with a washed up band from the '90s. I was absolutely wrong about the "washed up" part and absolutely right about getting a ticket, because this was an amazing show. I had seen this band a few times in the '90s, really liked them, had a couple of their CDs (Deluxe and Friction Baby). But, I had lost track of them, didn't see them coming through Austin on any tours. So glad to be reconnected. Lead singer Kevin Griffin, was cuter than I remembered, and over the years, he has perfected a comfortable, humorous and sincere stage presence. This was a fun show, but it totally rocked. They played old and new songs with the same energy. And, did I mention the crowd? Apparently, there is a huge fanbase that still supports Better Than Ezra. There were easily 1500 people at this show, everyone knew every word. I see lots of shows, and I have to say, this one was waaaaay up there in terms of music, fun and enjoyment. Triple threat. Tom Drummond is still with the band, but other members are newer. They're a quartet now, rather than a three-piece, but the chemistry with the current players was right on. I hope to see BTE again really soon. Hopefully they'll swing through Austin.

Oh, and to top things off, a few celebs dropped by. Peyton and Eli Manning were watching the show on the right side of the room, on the other side of the barriers right next to where I was standing. They were literally inches from me. See photos below. They came onstage right before King of New Orleans (they're from New Orleans, although they both play for NE Super Bowl winning teams). They came out later and threw some footballs out to the crowd, too. Only in NYC!!!

Here are a few photos. I'll try to upload some vids soon. Off to Hoboken in a few for Old 97s!!!

Monday, June 15, 2009

It's a Free For All...

When I first moved to Austin in 1999, the place to be on Sunday nights was the Hole in the Wall for the weekly music showcase, the Free For All. It was organized by Paul Minor, long known for supporting the music community, as a musician and just a general person who makes things happen. I was lucky to meet Paul in those early years and get introduced to the Free For All scene, exposing me to all the great music Austin had to offer. Paul's band, Superego, hosted the Free For All from 1994-2002, and then after on a less than weekly basis. It's a tough gig, the weekly showcase, but some of Austin's most famous came out of that scene, including Spoon and Fastball, and some of Austin's most colorful celebrity sightings also emerged (Courtney Love, Quentin Tarrantino, Don Henley...).

So, with the Hole celebrating its 35th anniversary, it was only fitting to have a Free For All Reunion. The lineup included Ethan Azarian, Landis Armstrong's Guilty Pleasures and, of course, Superego. It was great to hear so many old songs and see the familiar faces that were once a regular part of my week (like Chepo, Kevin, Jeff...). I'm a big fan of the weekly gig (and I'm not a musician). It really fosters a sense of community and place, and the Free For All was legendary at doing just that. I don't think any other event in town can boast the longevity and power that the FFA wielded. Enjoy these videos:

I'll See You When I Get Home - Ethan Azarian is a great musician and a talented artist. His new mural was unveiled at the Hole in the Wall during the anniversary weekend.

The Kids Don't Know - featuring the super talented Jeff Johnston on the telephone

Ohh, Las Vegas - Landis Armstrong is one of the best guitarists in town

Tulips - the album that this was on, Oh Yes, My Friend, came out around the time I moved to Austin. All these songs really symbolize those early years for me.

Lilies of the Field - going back a little further, on My Bad

Riddled - probably my favorite Superego song, going way back to the first album Mellow, Robust, Satisfying. So glad they played it.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Electric Touch, Lucky Lounge, June 13, 2009

Electric Touch looked and sounded great last night at Lucky Lounge. They opened the set with their own material, songs from their CD and a few new ones. I'm definitely looking forward to some new material from these guys. In a surprise twist, the second half of the set was covers, for the Saturday night party crowd. Playing mini tribute sets of Clash, Ramones, Iggy Pop with a few other Brit-pop bands peppered in, ET did major justice to these classic songs. Lead singer Shane Lawlor is the perfect frontman, and these pictures and videos should prove the energy and charisma his performance.

Some I recorded live from my iPhone via

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Live Stream - Fastball at Republic Square Park

I did a little live streaming again using This time it was the Solar-Powered Concert at Republic Square Park with Black and White Years and Fastball.

Here are a few I shot with my iPhone. Qik works really well, although people watching it live said there was a bit of a delay. And, the audio isn't perfect. I tried with a new microphone, a little thing that looks like a tack that fits in the headphone jack. That seemed to make things more distorted, louder. The high decibel situation is challenging on these devices. But, still pretty good for a phone! See below for photos and video from my regular camera.

And from my regular camera:

Friday, June 05, 2009

Household Names, Stubbs

This was my first try at Qik live stream via my iPhone. It was pretty easy and actually looks pretty decent. The audio could be better (it's the iPhone's mic after all), definitely works better at lower decibels. But, this was LIVE ON THE WEB. I'll be doing this lots more often. I ordered a small mic for the iPhone, so we'll see if that improves.

Great show, btw. They played lots of new stuff. Can't wait to hear the CD.

Here's stuff from my regular camera: