So, what do you play at a Wednesday night gig? At a bar? Thoughts?
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Rob will be playing a solo show tonight at One12 Tipton St. in Johnson City, 8-10 pm. It’s free, and they have a full bar. Come on down!
“Tired of Being Here” by the late, great Alun Cormier … listening to this song always makes me think I should do more/write more … and live my life to the fullest.
And hug all my kids, all day, every day.
Rob Russell will be playing a solo, acoustic show at the Down Home in Johnson City on Saturday, Aug. 20th at 9 pm.
While Rob has fronted the Sore Losers on and off for most of the past eleven years, playing solo – especially at the Down Home – is an even deeper part of his past.
“The first time I played music in Johnson City was solo, just myself and an acoustic guitar at an Open Hoot at the Down Home when I was eighteen,” Russell explains. “I was so nervous. But I made so many friends, long-time friends from that first time on stage.”
At the club that night were Brian Relleva, of Brian & the Nightmares, and Robert Alfonso, who became Russell’s songwriting partner for many years.
“What I went on to learn from those two, from Brian in terms of showmanship and Robert in terms of language, changed my music and the course of my life in so many ways.”
It’s language that will take the forefront as Russell will take the stage for the first time in a long time without the Sore Losers.
“I love having the band around me, that power and the confidence it brings. But playing solo really makes you focus on the words and the phrasing of the songs, digging a little deeper.”
Saturday’s show will feature a core of half a dozen new songs, along with favorites from the band’s two CDs and songs that pre-date the Sore Losers.
“I’ve been posting lyrics and some demos of the new songs to our website, robrussellmusic.com, but this will be the first time that some of these songs have been played for a live audience.”
Doors open at 6 pm; music will begin at 9 pm. There will be a $10 cover charge. The Down Home is located at 300 W. Main St. in Johnson City, TN. Call 929-9822 or go to their website (www.downhome.com) for more information.
(Rob Russell – Copyright 2011)
Hold up and let me smoke this
I need some time to think
and pray the poison in my lungs
will purge the urge for another drink
the next song won’t help me through this
when all the meaning has been wrung
from these lines from all the hundred thousand
times that they’ve been sung
as one small letter on a white page
as a man without words on the main stage
are just two of the answers,
but the question they are failing to …
is how alone
sometimes the spirit takes me
and I’m howling at the moon
like there is no past and I’m still big
and I’m bad
it’s a rock and roll brigadoon
but mostly I’m just maintaining
and lately it’s nights like this
someone dims the lights
and says goodnight
and I try hard to forget
an old love letter never sent
all those lost hours wondering where they went
they couldn’t be more lonesome
than the barely living proof
of how alone is here without you
Measuring my life in highway miles
When I should’ve been counting your sweet smiles
All of us are dying
it’s just a matter of degree
it’s too much all the time or too little red wine
depending on who you believe
And we’re all blind to something
what’s beyond our want or care
we don’t see what we don’t need
or what’s hiding underneath the stairs
Found a box of pictures
that you left behind
through faces and places
the layers of time
these words etched on a gravestone
nearly faded out of view
how alone is here
The Proclaimers – “Sunshine on Leith”
I once spent a wintry summer in Edinburgh, Scotland as part of the Appalachian-Scottish exchange program through my alma mater. One very vivid memory of those six weeks was a bus ride that took me through Leith, early one morning, and seeing frost on a sunny hillside graveyard. In July. It was astonishing, and remarkably beautiful.
The Proclaimers were everywhere that summer. This record had come out the year before, and being from Edinburgh, the band was still getting played all over town, in every pub, in every shop. “500 Miles” was, of course, the ubiquitous tune, but this one still resonates … most likely because of that cold, July morning.
I have a feeling that this article is going to bring hours of joy to our household. T and I were discussing the other day that K (our 11 year-old) is probably ready for They Might Be Giants now. I’ll never forget the genuine geek thrill of discovering TMBG’s first record via a blurb in Rolling Stone [An important aside: really the only way that anything approaching cool entered into my early teens was through my Aunt Liz's subscription to RS. Other rock and roll publications existed at the time -- Creem, for instance -- but only RS appeared in our our sleep little East Tennessee town. Thank you Aunt Liz, God, and Jan Wenner.].
I can’t find the actual RS piece highlighting TMBG’s signing (it was probably 1985), but the quote was something like, “We’ve written over 300 songs, and 20 or 30 of them might be good.” I found that both unbelievable and hilarious. Little did I know that they were being honest.
John T bought that first cassette — I almost alway had to rely on JT to actually buy the records we both were craving, as his Dad (despite being a hardcore bluegrass record and live tape collector) felt that any music was good music [I don't know if he would've approved of VU or the Flaming Lips, but he funded their purchase. John T's Dad also had a killer dubbing system -- record to tape, tape to tape, reel to reel, etc. I have a boxful of old TDK's just bursting with awesomeness.] Between the ridiculous song titles, the glorious word-salad of the lyrics, and the stylistic mimicry, we were hooked.
My favorite TMBG’s song? While the songs on the debut have a big place in my heart, my #1 has to be “Birdhouse in Your Soul” from Flood.
Here’s UGO’s top 50. Spend a little time with They Might Be Giants today …
Over the last 30 years, They Might Be Giants have gone from an alternative, Brooklyn-based musical duo to one of the most influential rock bands of all time. They’ve dabbled in every genre, instrument and subject matter possible. We love’em – and that’s why we’re counting down our 50 favorites.
Stevens is actually talking about getting away from this type of process on his new record, but I actually find the idea of applying my deeply-ingrained “academic” process to songwriting, at least when it comes to looking at a record as a group of songs around a single topic or story. Takes me back to many of my favorite “classic” records — Tommy, Sgt. Pepper, Red Headed Stranger, Blood on the Tracks: they all have either a central narrative (story) or a major theme that holds them together.
Still there is a discipline to his work. Stevens seems to work as a songwriting essayist – pick subject, write album around it.
“I studied fiction writing and I think a lot of my music is influenced by the fiction writing workshop experience.
“I think what I do is I come at things like a researcher would and this is probably because of all the conditioning from high school and university and being taught how to cultivate ideas and form a thesis and develop ideas to support a thesis.
“It’s sort of a very scholastic approach. I don’t think my music has much scholarship to it. But the process is definitely influenced by that procedure.”