Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Road Trips and Pawn Shop Guitars

Whiskeytown's Stranger's Almanac (1997)
Whiskeytown's Stranger's Almanac is an album I leaned on heavily during some less than ideal times. I have a tape of it I wore out playing in the car, along with Alejandro Escovedo's More Miles Than Money, Uncle Tupelo's Still Feel Gone, and Elvis Costello's My Aim Is True. It was traveling music from Buffalo to Boston dozens of times before I moved here. It helped pass the miles, first literally, then metaphorically. 

I finally picked up the Deluxe Edition today. In the liner notes, I found that Ryan Adams showed up to the original recording sessions with no guitars. They had been left outside of the van in Raleigh, North Carolina when it was loaded before the drive to the studio in Nashville. The band couldn't afford anything but pawn shop guitars, so the acoustic on the recording of "Inn Town" and probably several others, the one that sounds so fantastic, that I listened to a thousand times or more, was a $100 Alvarez pawn shop guitar. Also noted, they didn't even change the strings. That makes me happy for some reason.

I have to think of who used to own that Alvarez, what it lived through before that session. I think of some kid who bought it as a student guitar, struggling to learn "Stairway To Heaven," "Free Falling," or even "Wonderwall" (which, coincidentally, Adams would cover beautifully on 2003's Love Is Hell, pt 1 EP). Some kid who had just graduated and needed some cash, and was hoping to come back for it. Or, probably more likely, it had been a birthday present for someone who played it for two weeks and never picked it up again. Whatever function it filled originally, it had a hell of a second act.

I wonder if Adams kept it. I hope not. I hope he let it loose back into the stream from whence he first caught it, and it got picked up soon after that. Maybe by that college kid, who had no idea what happened to it while he was away. Maybe some new songs fell out of it that weren't in it before.  

I recently bought a Fender resonator on Craigslist. I know the history of most of my other instruments, but not that one. I bought it from a guy in Salem who seemed fairly disinterested in it (and the Dean acoustic/electric bass I also bought from him, and a couple of other guitars he had for sale). Who knows what's in there. But it feels right when I play it. It changes songs I've been playing for years. And it's just about time I introduce it to "Inn Town." 

This was the only video I could find with the original studio version of "Inn Town," but it fits. Lyrics below. 

Inn Town
(David Ryan Adams)

Parking lot, movie screen, I can't feel anything.
Cigarette, beat up TV, I can't feel anything.

Now that I, I'm in town.
I feel fine, fine for now

Hang around with the people I used to be.
Hang around on a corner waiting to go, have a seat

Now that I, I'm in town.
I feel fine, fine for now

Fifty cents, or a dollar three, I don't owe you anything.
Spent a life on a heart that would rather not feel anything.
I can try, I can see, Ican want it to be
I can laugh, I can feel, I can't see anything without dreaming

Now that I, I'm in town.

Hang around with the people that we used to be
We hang around on a corner waiting to go have a seat
And I can try, I can see, I can want it to be
I can laugh, I can feel, I can't see anything that seems real
It's just like a dream.
I can feel, I can laugh, I can want it to still be real
It's a dream I've had.
It's the last, now it seems.

Now that I, I'm in town.
I feel fine, fine for now

Monday, March 5, 2012

Help Beaver Nelson Kickstart Macro/Micro Film and Tour

Beaver Nelson's Kickstarter campaign ends in two days.
If you are a fan of great songwriting, please take a look at Beaver Nelson’s new Kickstarter project. Less than two days left to go, and touring plans depend on just a few more donations.

I have been a fan of Beaver Nelson since I first heard a snippet of his “Forget Thinking” from 1997’s The Last Hurrah. The name and cover of that, his debut album, was a bit of an inside joke. Nelson had recorded a few albums that never saw the light of day and had been called a prodigy by Rolling Stone. Considering his past experience in the music industry, no one could blame him for thinking that would be the first and last album.

It’s tough to keep yourself going if you’re an independent musician. It’s been five years since Nelson’s last album, Exciting Opportunity. I had thought perhaps that would be the last I heard from him. I was thrilled to learn a few weeks ago that I was wrong. Nelson has a new album all ready to go called Macro/Mirco, which has a tentative release date of May. It’s his most ambitious work to date, musically and thematically. I’ve heard it, and will have more to say about it either here or in one of the music magazine for which I freelance.

Nelson would like to tour with it, but he needs a backing band to pull it off. That is an insurmountable expense, so Nelson is making a movie he can tour with. The album is the soundtrack, and Nelson will bring that on the road and play along.

Here's some more info about the project:

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Serious Comedy Criticism at TheSpitTake.com

Serious comedy criticism at www.TheSpitTake.com
For people on here who know me from writing about comedy, I have a new gig writing for a new site, officially launched this week, called TheSpitTake.com. It is a bit of a departure for me. Most of my time writing about comedy has been spent writing profiles and news bits. This site is devoted purely to criticism. Some of you have actually asked me to be more opinionated in my writing. This is where that will happen.

It has taken some getting used to, as I have written several reviews up on the site already. I don't particularly love the idea of writing negatively about comedy, but where I see problems or something negative, I will now be obligated to say something. I try to make every effort to look at something from every angle before I comment, and to make sure my criticism is fair. But if there's a more subjective artform than comedy, I have yet to see it. To some, it might not seem like a big deal, but I feel sometimes I have had to take a deep breath and dive in.

I am really hoping this site is successful. I'm putting as much of myself into it as possible. And I'm hoping all my comedy nerd friends and acquaintances will tune in and enjoy it. There are a lot of people on this site who are serious about developing comedy criticism. It's a worthwhile effort. 

So here it is. Enjoy. And if you like it, spread the word. Thanks in advance.