Monday, July 25, 2011


Found this through the Leftsetz Letter.

"It's like listening to 'Kashmir'. Crossed with "The End". A mysterious trip into the heart of darkness."

I'm getting more "When The Levee Breaks" than "Kashmir", but other than that, I agree entirely.

Evidently, the singer is playing Spidey in the Broadway musical.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Where The Image Breaks Down

I've been a fan of the BBC show Top Gear for a while, and, of course, the question is "Do I like this show because it's British, or because it's funny, or because it has cars?" And the answer clearly isn't the third, because I have the Speed Channel and don't watch it that often. I suppose the dream of getting a junkyard special and building it up to hot-rod status with welding and cutting and all sorts of chrome-plated parts is different than getting a factory-perfect supercar and driving the wheels off it.

BBC America shows this show, and clearly this is one of the top shows on the network, so someone noticed that America has an appetite for fast cars that Britain (!) was there to feed. This was clearly a problem, and the History Channel came out with Top Gear US. I saw the episodes as they broadcast last year, and it was fun, but clearly this was a show that was feeling itself out.

The Speed Channel, appropriately enough, has come up with the Car Show, which I am watching right now. I think they take more from The Best Damn Sports Show Period (although more in the set design, which is more standard talk show and less folks hanging around a warehouse somewhere, which you might think of as a bit of a win. Plus, of course, John Salley. But I'm thinking that the mix is closer to the Top Gear UK formula, which is, of course, 1) stereotypical middle age blowhard who likes guy stuff and sarcasm who is the main focus of the show [Jeremy Clarkson (UK), Adam Carolla (US)], 2) car pedant who can give the boring details for those who like them, but can be ridiculed for doing so for those who don't like them [James May (UK), Dan Neil (US)], a very enthusiastic car fan [Richard Hammond (UK), Dan Farah (US)], 4) who don't necessarily like each other. I don't think The Car Show doesn't really have #4, but I've shown that they have folks that clearly fit slots 1-3. I think that Adam is clearly joking, while Jeremy is able to pretend to be earnest about his opinions and bits. But looking at Top Gear US, you have Adam Ferrara as the crank, but he's one among equals and not the leader, and Tanner Foust and Rutledge Wood have mis-matched chunks of Richard Hammond and James May and the Stig mixed between them. The points where Hammond gets into a race car and doesn't really know what to do with them are some of the more interesting parts.

And there's still the part of me that remembers The Man Show and thinks that Adam Carolla needs to get more imagination with show names, but between that and Best Damn, I think they were more prepared to hit the ground running than Top Gear US.

So, I like Car Show so far, but I'm waiting for the other one to show up on the History Channel again.

Monday, July 18, 2011

"Me Steve Kirk and Keith"

There used to be this thing called "Anti-Folk". It wasn't really anti-folk the way that, for example, Kraftwerk or Philip Glass are anti-folk, coming from entirely different view of music. It's more like an attempt to reboot folk. It kinda didn't go anywhere. Except Beck.

Anyway, there was a great album on SST (Black Flag's label) by Roger Manning, and another by Kirk Kelly called Go Man Go, with a first verse to die for but I can't quite remember.
 I once had a dream where I came home from school. My parents left a note on the screen door, saying "Dear son, we've moved." 
Anyway, this is very much on the model of Freewheelin' Bob Dylan. A guy with a voice and a guitar. Some clever words, some memorable stuff, a nice energy, but a guitar and a voice.

Roger Manning, "Pearly Blues"

I heard that Cindy Lee Berryhill was in the same scene and was coming out with an album. Naked Movie Star.

We all know some Dylan. We know the early political folksinger stuff. We know the later stuff with Bloomfield and then the Band. Now, imagine picking up an album thinking it's Freewheelin' and playing it to find it's Blood on the Tracks.  That's what it was like for me.

"Me, Steve, Kirk and Keith" was the first song, and Kirk Kelly is the Kirk in question, I'm lead to believe. There's lots of Patti Smith stuff that I didn't know yet that they were referencing. It's just one of the best albums I let fall through my fingers. But it's on Spotify.

No Secrets to Conceal

Every see something that directly related to you, like it was written for you?

This blog is named "Sans Direction" for a reason. A faux-French interpretation of "No Direction", which is an early band for Rich Show, who then lead Flag With Hank, a band I loved in the early 1990s as a student in South Dakota. It's from a Dylan lyric on "Like A Rolling Stone".

But, it is also a statement of where I was, and kinda sorta am, as a guitarist and musician. I hit a point that I can play songs. I know how to break apart most songs and figure out a good way to play them, and if I can't break it apart myself, I know the wonder of adding "tab" to the end of the song title and searching on Google, or looking for demo vids on Youtube. I find myself finding the structure of songs and asking my kids if they can figure it out, too. (For those who don't know, "Wipeout" by the Surfaris is a 12-bar blues. Not remotely bluesy, but there you go.)

So, for most anything I want to figure out, I can. But what I can't figure out is what I want to figure out next. I have no direction.

Guitar Player Zen has a four-year-old post on that subject, called "If You Don't Know Where You're Going, Any Road Will Take You There". The author takes inspiration apart and focuses on different parts. What excites you? What are your abilities? Very good for the "How To Not Suck" portion.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

"Shoot the Hostage"

So, you walk in and find the gig's just you and a guy on vox and acoustic guitar. You're playing electric guitar through stomp boxes into a D/I box.

Acoustic guitars are very percussive, so he is doing rhythm, and this is very vocal-centric. It won't be like there's too much time to go on extended breaks.

First thing I did was keep above the fifth fret. Acoustic guitar guy was in first position, and there's no reason for two guitarists to play the same voicings.

I also played lots of sustained chords, maybe arpeggiating them when I thought there was room. Acoustic guitar is punchy, so he can handle the rhythm.

I sorta thought about Mark Spencer playing with Jay Farrar and decided that I couldn't be that busy. Except in one spot, and I didn't take that to the full extreme like I could.

So, when you're supporting a folksinger with an electric guitar, what do you do?

Soul Dressing

Roy Buchanan on Austin City Limits, I think. I mean, I know that's Roy, I just believe it's ACL.

Thanks to Reverberate! for pointing toward this.