Category Archives: Music

How Not To Behave

Let me just state the obvious up front- Kanye West is an ass. He has no class, no integrity and no credibility. Never was that more apparent than when he interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the VMA’s last night. Swift had just won the Best Female Video award when Kanye got on stage and took the mic from her in order to declare that he was happy for Swift but Beyonce should have won the award. Obviously he wasn’t happy for her or he wouldn’t have hijacked her moment, but for Kanye, insincerity comes easily. And why wouldn’t he say whatever the hell he feels like when he knows he can issue an equally insincere apology whenever his mouth gets him in trouble. It’s obvious his narrow little mind has no appreciation for music outside his own genre, or maybe he’s just got a particular disdain for country. You see, this wasn’t the first time he’s shown what an ass clown he is at the feet of a country star. Back in 2004 he got beaten out for Best New Artist at the AMA’s by Gretchen Wilson. His pathetic reaction to losing? He declared that he was robbed because he was clearly the best new artist that year and that Gretchen’s music was bullshit. Of course the facts show that Gretchen’s records outsold Kanye by millions that year, so no, he wasn’t the best new anything. But you know what? He went on to apologize to Gretchen publicly and all was forgiven. Now how sincere do you think that apology really was given his behavior last night? No doubt he will issue similar apologies this time around, but let’s call it like it is. He wasn’t, and isn’t, sorry for what he said, he’s only sorry that there were repercussions for it, namely that everybody thinks of him as a dickhead now. And he knows the only way to remove that dickhead label from his forehead will be to apologize. And that’s the ONLY reason why he will do so.

Kanye’s stunt at the VMA’s was especially distasteful because the victim was Taylor Swift. She may be a country superstar already, but she’s only 19 and still acts like a teenager, a refreshing rarity in the music biz. She’s still innocent and un-jaded by her celebrity, somewhat awkward and awestruck like you’d expect a teenager to be. So it was particularly hard to watch because she was clearly a Kanye fan, visibly excited when he came on stage, but then her expression turned to one of confusion and ultimately hurt, all in the span of a minute. What kind of a jerk steals the spotlight from a teenage girl, one that looked up to him no less, in order to tell her that she really didn’t deserve to win? Only a jerk who really believes the world revolves around him, one whose galactic sized ego distorts his perception of reality the way a black hole distorts spacetime. But Kanye West isn’t a black hole, he’s just an asshole.

The Delancey

Saturday night I went with Kathy and Ricky to The Delancey to check out Annie’s band Last Known Settlers who were scheduled to go on from 8-9p. We got there by 8, but Annie did not. She was stuck in traffic because she didn’t know there was a street fair going on, conveniently situated between her place and The Delancey. Nice. Since we had some time to kill, we went upstairs to check out the rooftop and have a drink up there. Rick and Kat had never been there before but had seen it many times when driving back from Brooklyn because the roof deck is directly facing the offramp of the Williamsburgh bridge. So apparently if you’re driving home from the Willy-B at night if you look to your right you would see the cozy roof deck nestled between two taller buildings, all inviting, or as Kat put it “looking like a little slice of heaven”. Looks can be deceiving though because actually sitting there, especially while there was still daylight, was just ok; definitely not heavenly. Particularly disconcerting was the cloud of gnats swarming overhead, resembling the dogfight at the end of Top Gun. Engage, dammit! Maverick won’t engage!

Since the gnats were bugging Kat (haha), we decided to take our $9 drinks back down to the basement and stare at the empty stage until Annie and Heather showed up. When they finally did, Annie whizzed by and set up her keyboard and bells in a bit of a frenzy but looked more or less composed if not somewhat amused considering the circumstances. It was really dark down there and Heather needed some help getting on and off the stage without tripping over anything, which made it even more remarkable that Annie was able to get everything set up so quickly without electrocuting herself or something.

Then they got down to the business of rocking, and they put on a good show. The crowd loved them, but I suspect that was in part because most of them were friends of the band, but still, they had a really good sound. You don’t hear too many bands with bells, you know. Annie showed some skills playing keys with her left hand and the bells with her right. That can’t be easy, but then again, we all know that Annie’s brain is wired a little differently then most, haha. As LL Cool J would say, Annie rocked the bells. Jeff the drummer was rockin an old skool headband and was particularly impressive handling his business on the skins back there. They totally look like a Brooklyn band, well, because they pretty much are, and they rocked it in a short but fun set with a really laid back vibe.

Not nearly as laid back as the band that followed them though. Silence The Bird also had a great sound, but was very mellow, almost soothing in a folksy easy-listening sort of way. Kat loved that the lead singer looked so nerdy, like someone you’d ask to help configure your router if he wasn’t busy jamming at The Delancey. Ricky thought he looked like Bill Gates, which isn’t a stretch, but with the way he played the guitar and sang, he totally reminded me of John Sebastian. You kids who are too young to know who he is will just have to Google him. Damn I’m old.

Speaking of old, one last random comment- If you didn’t know why Paul Pierce jumped up on his chair and started dancing in the 4th quarter of the NBA Finals, it’s because the Celtics now have a home ritual of showing an old American Bandstand clip from the 70’s on the Jumbotron towards the end of games where the crowd goes nuts and cheers “Gino!” for one of the dancers wearing a Gino Vanelli t-shirt. Yes, Gino Vanelli. If that name triggers both memories and a twinge of embarrassment, then you too must be pretty damn old.

Lady Antebellum and Udon West

Went to see Lady Antebellum at Joe’s Pub tonite. They’re a brand new super up and coming country band, so new that their debut album won’t drop until April 15th. I only heard them recently on Sirius New Country and loved their song Love Don’t Live Here. Through the magic of iLike on Facebook, I found out they were playing at Joe’s Pub for a whopping $12, so I couldn’t resist. We managed to get a table just to the left and nearly behind the stage which was an odd angle but good enough for me since that was the side of the stage the hottie singer Hillary Scott performed on. She’s got a real strength to her voice and a tonality that reminds me of Martina McBride but just a little rougher around the edges, in a good way. Her voice was a perfect match harmonizing with the smooth, almost easy-listening style of the other singer, Charles Kelley. Dave Haywood rounds out the band, showing his skills on guitar and piano for this show. Along for this gig was their friend Slim who played a particularly mean slide guitar. Good stuff.

Afterwards Ricky and Kathy wanted to go to Udon West for a quick bite to eat. I had never been there before, but it turned out to be really respectable noodle soup. I had the udon with beef and burdock tempura. The burdock was expertly cooked, soft but still with a little texture to bite into. Same goes for the udon which had nice resiliency and slickness. The beef was just fatty enough to add the perfect amount of sheen to the broth. And for me, the broth is what made the dish. Not overly salty, it had good rich flavor and that hard to describe but very satisfying taste we call umami. On a chilly night like tonight udon was a perfect thing to eat and Udon West does a really good job with it. As Ricky put it, “This place is solid”.

There was one bit of hilarity about Udon West- the names of some of the selections on the menu. Here, I’ll just show you the menu:

High Protein Udon

None of us ordered any of those unfortunately named varieties of udon, but Ricky made up for it by ordering a bottle of unfiltered sake, hahahahaha.

Big Throwdown II

Went to the Toby Keith Leann Womack concert yesterday, dubbed the Big Throwdown II Tour, sponsored by Ford of course. Five of us went, and we completely missed the opening act, Shooter Jennings, who apparently is Waylon Jennings’ son. For you those of you who are not country-savvy, you might still know Waylon Jennings for the theme to The Dukes of Hazzard. We decided to blow off the opening act to enjoy some beers in the surrounding courtyard area instead because there was a nice cool breeze out there and it was just an awesome evening weather-wise. But when Leann Womack came on, we all rushed to our seats. She was terrific as an opener, and finished with Ashes By Now, probably my favorite of her songs. Then there was a break as they set up the stage for Toby, and it was just enough time for me to take a bathroom break and grab another $7 beer (geez). Toby then comes out in a spray of confetti, fireworks and lightshows which made me think of the beginning of Pure Country where George Straight comes out and performs to a stadium crowd which totally goes against his country roots. I began to wonder if Toby Keith had gotten too big and lost touch with his Oklahoma roots too? Thankfully he has not. The rest of the concert was just good old fashioned hard driving patriotic country music. The concert made me realize how many of his vast collection of hits are really great drinking and partying tunes. There was just hit after hit after hit. He played a funky reggae rendition of Should’ve Been a Cowboy which reminded me of ’94 when I went to St. Thomas and I remember getting all excited when somebody picked that song for karaoke. Cowboy music with a touch of the islands. Very cool. The rest of the concert Toby mainly stuck to the harder songs and stayed away from his slower stuff which kept the crowd into it from beginning to end. He did Beer for My Horses with a video of Willie Nelson accompanying him. Then there were a group of 3 soldiers- two girls one guy, in the front who they showed on the screen before Toby played The Taliban Song and everybody gave them a standing ovation. The soldiers were moved, and that in itself was moving. Then the show wrapped up, and Toby came back out for a two song encore. First was American Soldier and they showed the 3 soldiers on screen again, and they were singing along with all their might and that got me pretty choked up. I don’t care if they were invited to sit up front just for that effect, I’m a sucker for that patriotic stuff. So I was really brought to my feet when he finished with Courtesy of the Red White and Blue under a shower of red white and blue confetti. The whole concert had a real good vibe. It makes me wonder if there’s ever been a fight at a country concert; it’s such a family atmosphere. I joked to one of my friends that I bet we’d be able to count on one hand the total number of Asians we’d see that night. Sure enough, the final count was four. But one of them was me, and another was working concession so really there were only two. Still, I didn’t feel out of place in the least, again because everybody was so friendly out there. I had already intended on trying to catch Brooks and Dunn when they play there in September, but then we got a shock when we saw a little advertisement taped to one of the walls- Brooks and Dunn will be appearing with Big and Rich! Holy smokes. I just searched the internet and see that they have some concerts scheduled together, but PNC is not yet listed as one of them. But if it’s true, that’s gonna be one of the biggest country concerts ever to come through these here parts. That will be a must see. Now if only Big and Rich could drag Gretchen Wilson out here too. btw, have I mentioned lately that there’s nothing cuter than a girl in a cowboy hat? It’s a great look, that’s for sure!

Shoulda Been A Cowboy

Yeah baby, time to dust off the ol’ cowboy hat! Just got tix for the Toby Keith/Leann Womack concert at PNC Bank Arts Center on Sunday. My friend Paul knows a guy that runs things over at the arena, so there’s a chance me and my friends might get back stage. I wonder if Toby and Leann have ever seen a Chinese cowboy from NY? hahaha. Should be a great show. In a lot of ways, Toby Keith’s “Should’ve Been A Cowboy” has been my theme song since I first heard that song back in the early 90’s. Since then he’s come a long way with a ton of hits and has become a legitimate country music superstar. I really hope his daughter Krystal will be on tour with him because they do a killer duet version of Mockingbird. That girl has a stronger voice than Leann Rimes and she’s only 16 years old. But even if Krystal isn’t there, with Leann Womack on the bill it should be a great show. I love this stuff. Country music is one of my outlets for acting silly and foolish, and I absolutely love it. Yee Haw!

Mud and Suds

Just got home from the Brad Paisley/Sara Evans concert. It was pretty kick ass. Opener was Andy Griggs who I was skeptical about since he looked like too much of a pretty boy to make for a good country music singer, but he actually had a few really good songs. He sounds a little like Travis Tritt. He played for about half an hour and then they prepped the stage for my girl Sara Evans. She came out and the crowd went nuts. She looked pretty damn good for having just had her third baby about four months ago. A little too much makeup, but I hate makeup to begin with. Man can she sing. She’s got such strength to her voice and a real comfortable stage presence. I really liked the fact that she kept most of her songs close to the way they were recorded for her albums. I hate when artists try to jazz up songs at concerts with stoopid ad libs and the band going off on inappropriate solos. Her band was tight. Speaking of which, her fiddle player/backup guitarist was a ridiculously hot blond named Katie Kirkover. Holy cow she was smokin’, and she handled the fiddle part to perfection (I could tell, cause she played it the way it was supposed to be, just like the album). Some of those fiddle parts were tough too, really quick and lively. Katie Kirkover is as they would say on talk shows, lovely and talented. Sara Evans went on to finish her set with a cover of Belinda Carlisle’s Heaven is a Place on Earth and as much as I liked the Go Go’s, I have to say Sara’s rendition blew the doors off Belinda’s version. It was a great finisher. Then after the short break, Brad Paisley came on and it turns out I knew a lot more of his songs than I thought. Mud on the Tires was probably his best song tonight, but his whole performance was entertaining with lots of his humor coming out. He sang one song about putting the toilet seat down which was pretty damn funny. The thing that really impressed me about him is that he actually really plays the guitar. He wasn’t just standing up there singing and strumming, he was flat out playing the guitar like a madman. Great stuff. And one more thing I gotta say, I definitely dig girls in cowboy hats; it’s a great look!

So the concert was great, but the drive home through the blizzard was hell. It took only about an hour and a half to get there, but the drive home was about 5 hours! There were accidents everywhere because of the snow, so a few times I was just sitting there without moving for at least 40 minutes. Then I heard on the radio that all lanes were closed up ahead due to another accident, so I exited out and took the Merritt, and just when I was a mile and a half away from my exit, traffic comes to a stop again. Another hour sitting there doing nothing. Good thing I bought some Krispy Kremes as I was leaving Mohegan Sun. You’d be surprised how much more patient you can be in a traffic jam when you have donuts!

Gone Country

Well, after much deliberation, I finally picked out the specs for my hat and placed the order. I’m getting a black cattleman style hat, 20X felt, sides pressed and shaped to medium high, with a plain black leather string for a hat band. For an extra $50 I put a rush order on it, so hopefully I’ll get it in about 6 weeks instead of 5 months.

I spent a lot of my weekend watching CMT to check out different cowboy hat styles and caught a couple of interesting shows. One was the Ross Coleman rodeo documentary. It was ok I guess, but it didn’t do anything to show me what technical skills are involved in being a great rider. A much better show was the premier of the MusikMafia show where they follow Big & Rich, Gretchen Wilson and the rest of their buddies on their nationwide tour. I bought the Big & Rich CD and after watching the show, I’m definitely gonna get the Gretchen Wilson one too. That redneck woman has a strong set of pipes. Yes I do still buy CD’s of the artists I like instead of downloading stuff for free, just on principle. You gotta support the artists you love. So in one of the concerts that the show covered, Gretchen did a cover of Heart’s “Straight On” and man I tell ya, it kicked ass. Looking forward to the next episode where they covered what went on when Kanye West made some disparaging comments when Gretchen beat him out for Breakthrough New Artist at the American Music Awards. Apparently he said he was basically robbed and called her music “bullshit”. Fortunately he subsequently apologized to her at the Grammy nomination presentations. What the MusikMafia is trying to do is different than anything else that’s ever been done. “Country music without prejudice” is what they say. I hope Kanye West goes to a MusikMafia show (Gretchen invited him after he apologized) and maybe learns what they’re all about. Who knows, maybe he’ll collaborate with them somewhere down the line. That would rock. Cowboy Troy, the black member of the MusikMafia is doing music he calls hick-hop. Sounds good to me. Country music without prejudice indeed.