Archive for January, 2016

Seeking the One True Voice. Happy Birthday Jimmy Herring.

January 23, 2016

 

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Jimmy Herring (image via JimmyHerring.net)

Happy birthday to past interview subject Jimmy Herring. He is best known as the guitarist for Georgia-based band Widespread Panic, but first rose to prominence as a member of Col. Bruce Hampton’s Aquarium Rescue Unit.

Herring is an endlessly creative musician. “What I like more than anything is basically to have no genre at all. Where elements of different styles of music come together to form something pure that has no definitive category,” he stated in my 2014 interview. Jimmy’s desire to create music that exists beyond category keeps him pushing ahead. “Ultimately, a musician is seeking their one true voice,” Hering said. That can be a lifelong search.”

Let’s get to some jams. I decided to focus on some non-Widespread Panic tunes to show off Jimmy’s versatility:

Here’s the Jimmy Herring Band doing “Aberdeen.”

Here’s Jimmy and Derek Trucks ripping it up:

Here’s Jimmy playing the classic “Basically Frightened” with Col. Bruce Hampton and the Aquarium Rescue Unit:

Here’s Jimmy sitting in with the Allman Brothers Band:

Here’s Jimmy sitting in with the Allman Brothers Band and taking “Mountain Jam” to Mars. Following this show, Gregg Allman was talking to the band about this jam, “OK, who’s the fucking Phish fan? That was too much.” Is this jam over the top? Yes, but Jimmy and Derek Trucks take the song to glorious heights.

 

Stagnation is for Squares.

January 19, 2016

“Creativity is piercing the mundane to find the marvelous.” -Bill Moyers.

Whenever you feel stuck, ask yourself, “Are there any ways I can be creative today?” Tapping into your creative zone can help chill you out, improve your focus and increase productivity. That energy can also help you beast it through a stressful day.

I truly believe that everyone has the power to be creative. Looking within your skill set can help you unleash the joy within yourself. Stagnation is for squares. Finding the passion in life is all about upward momentum. No matter what is going on in your life, you have to keep pushing forward. Even just making the effort to be more creative can light the fire within yourself. It can open your world to new possibilities. You are not going to look back on your day and say, “I’m so upset that I was creative today.” Use the power of creativity to uplift your soul, pierce through the mundane and find something marvelous.

Met the WWE Chaplain Yesterday.

January 18, 2016
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WWE logo (image via YouTube.com)

I met the part time chaplain for the WWE yesterday. “The wrestlers and crew, they need their own unique type of ministry, ” he said.

Someone has to help the wrestlers keep the faith. I’m sure those sermons are very intense and spiritually uplifting.

“WHAT ARE YOU GONNA DO, BROTHER, WHEN THE LORD AND SAVIOR RETURNS AND LAYS THE SMACKDOWN ON YOUR CANDY ASS?!?!?”

“On the seventh day, Vincent K. McMahon begat Chyna from his rib. He bestowed upon her the glory of the Intercontinental Championship.”

“You have to keep climbing that ladder, brother! You go and you grab that belt. Don’t let the tables, ladders and chairs stand in your way! You must overcome the chokeslams and the power bombs! Get the title God intended you to have!”

So overblown, so inspiring.

 

 

 

Seafood and Painkillers.

January 17, 2016

A friend of mine recently told me about his trip to the British Virgin Islands. He had rented a sailboat while on vacation. “It was all seafood and painkillers, man. Seafood and painkillers,” he stated.

It was like a rich guy pretending to be Hunter S. Thompson. I’m on vacation, I’m rich, but I’m also so edgy. It’s important to remember that it’s not just the younger posers that are out there trying too hard. No matter your age, no matter how much money you make, stay true to who you are.

Raging with the Green Fairy.

January 17, 2016
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Absinthe (image via liquor.com)

“Absinthe is a liquor that they outlawed because it’s supposed to make you trip hallucinogenically. So, I got excited because I like to hallucinate. So, I started drinking lots of shots of it. But, really, it’s just a liquor. So, I was just getting fucked up… I wasn’t even remotely tripping. But, after 10 shots, I fell to the ground and tried to force the trip. “WHY IS THE FLOOR AS LOW AS I CAN GO!?”. But, I was just faking it, ya know? It wasn’t a from the heart trip.” -Mitch Hedberg.

I recently read about an absinthe-related store opening up in Kansas City. It got me thinking about my past experiences with absinthe.

Actual absinthe was outlawed in the US until 2007. However, absinthe has been popular in New Orleans for years. Both the versions you can find in the United States and the harder-hitting varieties from overseas seem to do well in NOLA.

My first time drinking absinthe was at the now closed, kitschy, Russian-themed bar Pravda. Surrounded by the faux Soviet Era relics adorning the red walls, I bought some absinthe for $15 a glass. The melting of the sugar cube through the slotted spoon looked like some weird drug making workshop. It has a strong anise tone and packs quite a punch.

The touristy Pirate’s Alley Cafe, tucked in the French Quarter’s Pirate’s Alley, also features a few quality absinthe varieties. One night, the bar was packed to the maximum. Unbeknownst to me, there was a pirate convention in town. The tiny bar was overflowing with pirates hunting for booty. They were a surly bunch for sure.

The Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange, in Kansas City, serves absinthe. It seemed like the real deal. I ended up missing my bus because I fell through the worm hole.

It’s important to remember that absinthe has pros and cons. Your paintings will look better and really pop. However, you could lob your ear off. If you see Tahitian colors on the back of your eyelids, you might drink too much absinthe. It’s interesting to see absinthe get big again in trendy circles. Whether it is hip or not, absinthe is guaranteed to leave a strong impression on you.

 

 

 

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Snake and Jake’s: The Best Dive Bar in the World.

January 16, 2016

 

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Snake and Jake’s (image via snakeandjakes.com)

Snake and Jake’s Christmas Club Lounge is a legendary dive bar in Uptown New Orleans. Located just past the corner of Oak and Hilary, it can be easy to miss at first glance. There are no signs to look for, just an old wreath and a dive bar sinking into the ground. The only lighting in the bar is red Christmas lights.

Walking into Snake and Jake’s late at night is like descending into another world. The lighting is so dark, you could probably develop photos in the bathroom. It’s like you are drinking in your trippy neighbor’s post-apocalyptic garage.

You never know what will happen at Snake’s, but it always gets weird. A recent NOLA.com article describes the late-night vibe only found at a the five, “A man in a captain’s hat punched a ceiling tile. Someone’s dog fell asleep on a couch. Just after 1 a.m., three women were turned away for having fake IDs.” Snake and Jake’s sits in a strange, fuzzed out reality that is all it’s own.

The bar really starts getting busy after busy after 1 am. However, a NOLA.com piece about the smoking ban noted the ban’s effect on the bar’s hours, “At Snake and Jake’s, a bartender known as Bella Via said on a weeknight, she used to close the bar at 7:30 a.m., with more than a dozen patrons still parked on stools. Now, she regularly closes the bar at 5:30 a.m. instead, often with just a couple of patrons still lingering.”

Legendary pianist Dr. John used to live across the street from the dive. Anthony Bourdain is a fan. I have a theory that somehow everything in the universe is related to Snake and Jake’s. Even a co-founder of Bonnaroo started out as a bartender at Snake’s.

Snake and Jake’s is known for their concoction of Jäger and orange juice. It is a potent cocktail. They also sell Schlitz by the can.

If you ever ask anyone that’s spent a lot of time in NOLA about Snake’s, you often get that shock of recognition and fear. It’s like you brought up some seedy, undercover traumatic event.

In the City that Care Forgot, Snake and Jake’s is like the bar that sanity forgot. The weirdly comfortable vibe within the dive exists beyond pretense. In a gloriously strange place like NOLA, there is only one Snake and Jake’s.

Being So Hip You’re Ahead of Yourself.

January 16, 2016

I had a friend of mine in college that was playing a mix CD he had made of new music. I asked him about what some of tunes were. “I don’t know yet. I’ll find out what I’m listening to tomorrow.” The tunes were so new, the guy that made the CD didn’t even know them yet. He is so hip, he is ahead of himself.

My Thoughts on G-Easy and Success.

January 14, 2016
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G-Easy at the Midland, 1/12/16

Walking up to the massive crowd lined up for the G-Easy show on Tuesday night, my mind was blown. He had sold out the 3,000 capacity Midland Theater, in Kansas City, months in advance. The crowd was mostly young white kids, between the ages of 13 and 19. It was like a teen riot outside the Midland.

I went to college with G-Easy, at Loyola University New Orleans. His fashion sense was always over the top and he had a vision for himself even back then. I hadn’t seen G-Easy live in at least eight years. The Oakland-based rapper has improved greatly since his NOLA days.

It seems like the mainstream has really caught up to G-Easy. His rapping was strong and on-point all night and the beats were fresh and lush. Backed by a drummer and a DJ, he rapped with confidence and ability throughout his show. His stage set up had a very NOLA vibe. The Saint bar scene was a nice shout out to the CBD dive bar. It was like some amped up version of NOLA run through the G-Easy filter.

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G-Easy at the Midland, 1/12/16

Over the years, G-Easy has stayed focused on his vision of grinding hard and moving towards success. His party-centric music seems true to who he is as a person. His music feels like a natural extension of himself and he’s not trying to be a poser. Maybe that’s why he does so well with younger rap fans. He held the crowd’s attention during his 1 hour and 40 minute set. As local music critic Bill Brownlee put it in his review of the show, “The immediately accessible music is ideal for party-minded young adults who have outgrown the output of boy bands but aren’t yet prepared to embrace more challenging sounds.”

His style of rap might not be for everyone, but it’s great to see someone be successful and do what they love. You can hate all you want, but no one can argue with a sold out tour. Tech N9ne even joined him onstage in KC. That is some serious business. G-Easy is doing something right and knows his market. It’s amazing  to see him go from the basement of the student center at Loyola to selling out a venue that holds 3,000 people in Kansas City. Never give up on your dreams and keep pushing forward. G-Easy knew that a long time ago.

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G-Easy crowd at the Midland, 1/12/16

Neck Splinters and Woodpecker Attacks: The Wooden Tie Life.

January 14, 2016
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Rocking the wooden tie with Larry the Cable Guy. #whitepeople #gitrdone

I am not a fashion guy at all, but I am a big supporter of wooden ties. In life, one should try and be funky in as many ways as possible. As you plow through a bland day, it can be fun to amp things up any way you can.

However, attempting to be fashion forward can have issues. The other day, I was walking down the street and got maliciously attacked by a woodpecker. Ugh, white people problems. Anytime it gets cloudy, I start getting paranoid about my tie warping.  I have to get up ever day at 5 am to coat my tie with Thompson’s deck sealer. I feel like a hungover Bob Vila. Awhile back, a colony of termites tried to burrow into my tie. I have the Orkin man on speed dial now.

Wooden ties seem to be gaining in popularity now. I rep a wooden tie for Wooden Tie Wednesday every week now. I’d like to think I was one of the first people to wear one. So many folks are biting my style! They are barking up the wrong tree.

However, it’s not all wooden tie problems all the time. It is nice having random people come up to me on the street and say, “Oh my god, it’s the wooden tie guy!” I’ve been called a lot worse downtown, it’s a nice change of pace.

Bradley Walsh is my wooden tie maker of choice. He sells his pieces at Eclectics. He’s out there, whittling away the hours to bring the wood to the people.

Through all the neck splinters and woodpecker smackdowns, life’s rough and smooth patches, it’s all about bringing the funk.

 

 

An Uncomfortable Question for White Hip Hop Fans.

January 14, 2016
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A$AP Ferg (Image via RapDirect.com)

A local music journalist talked to me after A$AP Ferg’s opening set for G-Easy in Kansas City Tuesday night. “You went to school in New Orleans, I’m sure you have an opinion on this, ” he began. “The crowd here is 99 percent white. This might be an uncomfortable question, but how does it make you feel to hear 3,000 white kids shouting back the n-word to a black rapper when it’s in his lyrics?” “Not good,” I responded meekly.

Ferg’s set hit the crowd hard and the trap beats had them going wild. The sold out audience on this night was mostly young white kids, between the ages of 13 and 19.  The nasty, excellent track “Shabba” completely smashed 3,000 people at the Midland. They loved every raunchy second and rapped along with each line.

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A$AP Ferg Crowd, at the Midland, 1/12/16

I hope the kids learn someday. As a fan, you have to make the conscious choice. The question might be rough, but the answer is simple. Even in the sometimes trashy world of hip hop, as a fan and audience member, it is all about respect.


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