Archive for January, 2016

Chasing the Dragon With Big Fat Bearded Jam Band.

January 30, 2016


Of all the festival lineups, this might be one of the best. The highlight has to be the legendary Big Fat Bearded Jam Band. I love Big Fat Bearded Jam Band. They have never played the same set twice. Big Fat Bearded Jam Band have done so much nitrous, they don’t even remember the concept of a set list.

All the members are virtuosos and they all play at once. I love when they cover obscure funk jams and slow the tempos way down. Their flaccid funk helps to placate the big-eyed masses. Big Fat Bearded Jam Band’s music has been described as sounding like a really bad Steely Dan high on bath salts. The four hour shows just fly by when you can’t feel any of the nerve endings in your face.

However, not everything is groovy in Big Fat Bearded Jam Band land. The 45-minute drum solo could probably use some tightening up. Big Fat Bearded Jam Band should also just try not to sing. They tried to harmonize once and it just sounded like, “Ahhhh!!!! Arrrrrgggg!!! Ahhhhhhh!” Also, never see them during the day. Their daytime festival sets sound even more listless.

“During the day sets, they look very hungover,” stated fan Chad Chaddington. “You gotta see them late at night, brah. I saw their aftershow for an aftershow for an aftershow of a Phish aftershow once. It melted my face off of my face.”

For Big Fat Bearded Jam Band and their devoted fans, the pothole-filled road goes on forever. Just keep chasing the dragon into blissful, spinning glory.

Interview With a Mermaid: Aurelia Gyldenscale.

January 29, 2016

Aurelia Gyldenscale (photo credit Joey Kirkman)

I recently posted a satirical piece on mermaids. However, I wanted to dive in deeper on the subject and gain some insight from a professional mermaid. Aurelia Gyldenscale is a Kansas City-based mermaid. She is known as the Heartland Mermaid. Aurelia recently discussed how she became interested in mermaiding, her creative process and advice to aspiring merpeople. For more info on Aurelia Gyldenscale, check out and her Facebook page.

What inspired you to become a professional mermaid? 

Growing up, I loved to read fantasy books and books about world mythology. I don’t recall ever reading any specifically about mermaids, but it was the imagination and the adventure that I sought. When I got into college I had less time to read for pleasure. I think the opportunity to escape into a world of fantasy and adventure is what brought me to involve myself with the Kansas City Renaissance Festival. I worked at KCRF in several different positions for a few years. First as a henna artist, then as Queen of the Fae and the Princess of Denmark. In 2014, they were casting for mermaids, so I auditioned. After that first season, I fell in love with the character, the interactions and the mythology. I started working with Merbella Studios, out of Florida, to create my own custom silicone tail and started planning to take on more event appearances once it was finished. The rest is history.

Are there any challenges to being a mermaid in the Midwest? 

It can be harder to find work when you’re not near an ocean and finding a place to swim can be a bit more challenging as well. Most people in the Midwest haven’t seen a monofin before, let alone a full tail, so a big part of the process is educating them about what it is, how I use it safely, and letting them know that I have insurance. It’s still worth the extra effort. 


Aurelia Gyldenscale (photo credit J. Berendt)

How old were you when you designed your first mermaid outfit? 

24. The first mermaid tail I’ve helped design is my current tail. At KCRF we rented tails, so I didn’t have much creative input in the actual tail itself. However, I’ve been making costume pieces and accessories for all of my Ren Fair and Circus characters for about six years. I’m a very crafty fish.

What do you feel are the biggest misconceptions about mermaids?

I feel like the biggest misconception about mermaids is that you have to fit into this stereotypical idea of what it is to be a mermaid in order to live the dream. You don’t have to have an incredibly expensive silicone tail or be a certain size or have a certain length hair to have fun as a mermaid. There are so many affordable options for fabric tails these days that anyone can realize their dream of being a mermaid. One of my dreams is to eventually open up a mermaiding school where I can help teach people how to be safe, maintain an active and healthy lifestyle, and harness their creativity while mermaiding.

How does your creative process work when designing outfits?

When I’m working on a piece, I usually go into a craft store knowing exactly what I want to do or where I want to go creatively. Then I try to find the materials, fail miserably, and come up with something new (and most of the time better) from what I see is actually available. For inspiration, I like to browse traditional mermaid imagery in art and popular culture. I’ve spent more than a little time on Pintrest weighing ideas as well. A big thing that is important to me is originality. My mermaid character may be inspired by different things I see or experience, but nothing in it is a copy. I want my props, costume pieces, and set items to reflect that goal as well.

What inspires your fashion sense?

I kind of go back and forth between a love of clean lines and minimalism and the “more is more” philosophy. So, it depends on the day how I’ll dress myself. I’ve also been a fashion model for about 6 years, which you would think would make me a fashionista. I think it’s done the opposite. I’ve spent so much time having other people doing my hair, makeup, and wardrobe for me that I like to not think too much about it all myself unless it’s a special occasion. The exception here is vintage clothing. I love vintage pieces. It’s a shame that it is hard to find them though (being 5’11”…women were so much smaller pre-1970s). 

Do you have a quote or motto that you live by?

Education, learning and growth are the most important aspects of my life. My favorite quote related to this is from Pablo Picasso: I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.” If I see something that interests me, I go after it. I research it. I find a way to make it happen. 

What advice would you give to merpeople just starting out?

Start slow. Learn about the community. Be safe. Mermaiding is such a new hobby and sometimes people get this idea that it’s easy. At the end of the day, our tails are sports equipment, not toys, and need to be treated as such when swimming. Always swim with a buddy, always check your equipment before going in, and always be considerate of the other people around you. It only takes one unsafe swimmer to get monofins and tails banned in a public pool. As for everything besides swimming, there are tons of online resources through the Mernetwork forum. Take the time to learn about it, especially before investing large amounts of money, just like you would any other hobby. Come to it with an open, friendly attitude and people will be happy to help.


Aurelia Gyldenscale (photo credit Joey Jirkman)

The Magic of Snooks Eaglin.

January 27, 2016

Snooks Eaglin (image via

Last week marked the birthday of New Orleans blues guitarist Snooks Eaglin. Snooks was a legend of New Orleans music, but not enough people know about him. Eaglin played with Professor Longhair and also played guitar on the Wild Magnolias’ first album. Snooks passed in 2009, but his music and the joy he had playing still resonates deeply with many NOLA music fans.

As I walked into the Mid-City Lanes Rock ‘n Bowl, an elderly blind man was carefully navigating his way up the rickety stairs. I didn’t realize at the time that this was Snooks Eaglin. I was about to find out. For over two hours, he completely melted the stage of that bowling alley.

Every time I saw Snooks live, it was totally mind blowing. Snooks shows would be a combination of blues, jazz, funk and quality old school New Orleans R&B. You would never know what he would play. Anything could happen. He would often just call out key changes to songs as he went along. Snooks rarely used set lists, he would often take requests shouted from the dancing crowd. Meters bassist George Porter Jr. played with Snooks for many years. When I interviewed George, he talked about the experience of playing shows with Snooks,  “Before the gig is over, you will have played three or four songs you’ve never heard before in your life.”

Below is one of my favorite Snooks clips. It’s a cover of Professor Longhair’s “Red Beans.” George Porter Jr. is on bass and Jon Cleary plays piano on this live version. So much soul and fire on this tune! Once you know about Snooks Eaglin, you will quickly learn why he is considered a legend of NOLA music.


A1 and Rumple Minze: The New, Hip Cocktail of Choice?

January 26, 2016



Is this the new cocktail of choice?

You know I’m all about sharing the latest hip trends. This bottle of A1 steak sauce and Rumple Minze were purchased together at 9:30 am on a Monday. Is this the new hip cocktail of choice? “The smoky nodes of the A1 really compliment the minty mouthwash burn of the Rumple Minze.” I’m sure this tastes like Santa Claus got drunk at Outback Steakhouse. Mock it now, but this will probably be the big thing in five years. Don’t forget to say you heard it here first!

Typeface Fiends.

January 26, 2016



National Enquirer Cover (image via

“I like the National Enquirer, because they are the only magazine that uses bold typeface. They were like, ‘Donald Trump is….A LIAR!!!!’ Okay, bad example. The last one I saw, they were like, ‘Bruce Jenner is…..BECOMING A WOMAN.‘” -Overheard at the grocery store.

I Have Heard Men at Work’s “Down Under” Over 163 Times in the Past Three Days.

January 26, 2016

Men at Work (image via

The satellite radio station at work has been glitching out and looping the same songs for three days straight. Every seven songs, it has been plays Men at Work’s 1981 classic “Down Under.”

The first time you hear it in a long time, you’re like, “Oh hell yeah!! Men at Work kicks ass! This is one of the best songs ever written!” However, I have heard the song over 163times in the past three days. It might be a little bit of an overkill. Being a man at work forced to listen to this Men at Work song against your will can be rough. I think this must be how purgatory feels. You are forced to listen to a song you love over and over and over again. It is a strange form of torture. There have to be some laws in the Geneva Conventions about this.

Colin Hay is a beast of a songwriter and an artist. He’s written so many quality jams with Men at Work and as a solo artist over the years. “It’s a Mistake” is good as heck. The sax laced groove of “Who Can It Be Now?” is still awesome. The folk vibes of “I Just Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You” was one of the highlights of the Garden State soundtrack.

However, I currently still have “Down Under” still stuck in my head. CAN’T YOU HEAR, CAN’T YOU HEAR THE THUNDER?!? YOU BETTER RUN!!! YOU BETTER TAKE COVER!!!!!!

Mock Turtleneck: The Challenges of Naming an Indie Rock Band.

January 25, 2016

There are so many bands out there today, I think people are running out of band names. I keep an ever growing list of potential indie rock band names on me at all times. If I ever start a bedroom indie pop project, I will likely name it Mock Turtleneck.

What rules do I follow for this list? Two word band names seem to sound good. The band name also must work in the following sentence, “I saw Mock Turtleneck open for Youth Lagoon. They were good, but he meowed into the mic too much.”

Mock Turtleneck
Galapagos Apocalypse
Shamu and the Peter Pans
Bunny Regret
Wet Kiwi
Crying Duck
Nervous Pervert
Strawberry Mountain
Minimalist Parent
Shaved Driver
Dingo Butter
Evil Lawn
Heat Stroke
Bus Shoes
Gravity Waves
Hobo Rebuff
Flowers for Bees
Cape Disappointment
Electric Pen
Cubicle Days
Night Barge
Blood Moon
Earth’s Shadow
Dwarf Planet

Don’t Be Like McClain.

January 25, 2016


Overheard at YJ’s.

January 24, 2016


YJ’s Snack Bar is a legendary coffee shop and snack bar in the Crossroads section of Kansas City, Missouri. The crowd that frequents YJ’s is tapped in and funky. Every time I hit YJ’s, I feel like I meet someone hip or hear something that blows my mind. Here is a collection of quotes I’ve overheard at YJ’s.

“If you hate the music you make, more people are bound to like it. That’s the way it works, right?”

“I thought this was a Steve Reich remix. It just had that certain use of minimalism.”

“I’m just looking for bands made by high school kids that hate their parents.”

“I plan on the show being kid friendly until 9.”
“Nothing is kid friendly.”

“A divorced couple is fighting over frozen embryos. That is messed up. It’s like paying child support for frozen embryos.”

“I know you had your first client in the dark room yesterday.”
“How do you know that?”
“I have my ear to the streets.”

“I have no idea what the concept is for this album. It’s called Xerox Vol. 3, so I would guess it is the sound of destructive copying.”

“He’s mostly into electronic music. Last week, he said he was into Vapor wave. I think he is just making up genres of music.”




The Joyful Sounds of Robert Randolph.

January 24, 2016

Robert Randolph and the Family Band at Wakarusa 2006.

“Don’t let nobody take your joy away from you,” Robert Randolph enthusiastically shouts to the crowd in an intro to a 2002 live performance of “The March.” He has a point. It’s an important life lesson. Holding on to joy is what life is all about.

Robert Randolph is one of best pedal steel guitar players in the world. He began playing pedal steel in the House of God church in New Jersey. His live shows are filled with an energy that is unparalleled in today’s music scene. The joy he brings to his music is infectious.


Robert Randolph and the Family Band at Crossroads KC (2014).

Live at the Wetlands remains one of my favorite albums of all time. The live album served as my introduction to jam bands. Randolph’s joyous passion comes through in his playing. His playing reminds me of some glorious gospel combination of the Allman Brothers Band and Sly and the Family Stone, but with Randolph’s own voice shining through all of the time.

I first saw Robert Randolph and the Family Band live at the City Market, in 2005, in Kansas City, Missouri. I have seen RRFB live 10 times over the years. His shows are loose and free flowing. No two sets are ever the same. I once saw Randolph play a three song mini-set and it was still 30 minutes long. Epic NOLA Randolph shows featured some of the most uplifting music I have ever heard.

I interviewed Robert Randolph in 2006. It was fascinating to see his positive viewpoint, “When we are in our great state of mind and we see somebody else stumbling along the way, feeling a little down, we can be able to pick them up and get their spirits up. Things like that are really important to me.”

Robert Randolph brings his joy to the world through music. When I go to a show, I want to see an artist doing what they love. Robert Randolph’s music connects with so many people because it comes from a real place. Let’s get to some of my favorite Robert Randolph live jams:

Here’s RRFB and Luther Dickinson (of the North Mississippi Allstars) playing “Squeeze.”

Robert Randolph and the Family Band “Run for Your Life.”

Robert Randolph and the Family Band “The March.”

Here’s Randolph, performing with gospel/jam super group the Word, doing a cover of the Lee Boys’ “Joyful Sounds.”

Robert Randolph and the Family Band “Nobody.”

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