Shaky Knees–Day Three


It probably sucks to be scheduled in the early hours on Day Three of a festival, though presumably money is involved.  Attendees are burnt out after two full days and are more likely to “sleep in” before arriving, if at all.  Smaller crowds, less opportunity to gain new fans.  This is unfortunate, because it doesn’t mean that the artists are worse than those featured later, just newer or less well known.  In fact, it was a similar time-slot that my concert buddy and I discovered Aaron Lee Tasjan last summer.

But we weren’t finding a new band this day.  There was the whole getting up thing, showering, eating lunch, driving an hour to get there, parking, walking a hilly mile to the venue and… a 4:00 start for Lord Huron sounded just fine.  They are one of those bands you’ve probably heard on the radio in a restaurant but found it too loud to decipher who it was with your favorite listening app, while noting they sounded different from the usual goo.  

I’ve seen Lord Huron before, and they were probably better this time around.  They mixed in some of their newer songs which didn’t distract at all from their more familiar songs, the new ones adding a recently discovered driving bass and a little electric punch to their mostly acoustic and heavily reverbed sound.  I’m a fan, and I may be motivated to write a CD review of their latest release once I get hold of their lyrics, which previously  was a joy. Live, their expanded band and a female backup singer worked great to present their songs.

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From there it was off to see Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, unfortunately appearing at the “Ponce de Leon” stage, covered by a metal shed which, while providing shade for their “creatures of the night” persona, also flattened their sonics.  They’re a band with many good songs scattered over the the past 17 years, enough that there is really no chaff during their shows.  Still, they hadn’t played “American X” their last two trips to town, and they let me down yet again.   Also, listening to this band when it’s sunny outside just doesn’t work, live or recorded...  Would Sinatra sing his “saloon” songs on an outdoor stage during the day?  I think not.  Different generation and music, but, same thing.

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I know I haven’t listened to Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats to give them a fair evaluation, and I didn’t once again even with the chance to see them live.  They didn’t sound bad; they just fill a niche that skipped me, if not my generation.  

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There is no formal break between shows, so skipping Rateliff also provided an opening for another fantastic green chile enchilada, a satisfying drink of reasonably cool water (I live on the edge), and a hillside to people watch.  A new strategy came to mind.  Amid the cool breezes and the occasional dust storms stirred from the nearby Piedmont stage, there were those who were observed to relaxing on the same hillside not on dirt, packed grass or roots, but in comfort.  Hmm.

I had seen this or something similar in a Kickstarter fundraiser a couple of years ago and thought it pretty clever.  It’s actually the same method used for dry storage bags in kayaks, though hopefully with a lighter weight material.  But as a single lounger or couch for two, I have to admire the compact simplicity employed by an appreciable number taking in the festival more restfully .  As I don’t actually need to “see” many of the bands, positioning one of these babies between two stages, listening to whichever one is active and enjoying a cool beverage could be just the thing.  In the context of the moment, a WindPouch might have even invited me to take a nap, given Vance Joy’s ho-hum set soothing me into sleep.  The young ladies seemed to swoon like him, though.

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After sitting on the roots for a time, the bones are ready for Tenacious D, a parody of a heavy metal band (dubbed “mockrock”) that if they took themselves seriously enough, might… well, no, they never will, and that’s okay.  They’re fun, know how to appeal to the Meat Loaf-gone-mad in all of us, and can improvise wildly.  They also have a legion of fans who know their songs word for word.  The whole show seems fairly effortless when your band leader is none other than actor Jack Black.

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It being a work night prior to an early morning flight out of town, I passed on Day Three closer, The National.  Passed right by, too, with my son, none the worse after hearing bits of their first two monotonous songs in the process.  I paused just long enough to capture my final high quality stage shot before walking the long mile back to the car.

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Overall, great venue, value and weather.  If they schedule a reasonably interesting line-up next year, I’ll be back.

Shaky Knees–Day Two


This being Saturday and the initial enthusiasm of a three day music festival behind us, it made sense to arrive a little later, settling for “less” in terms of the quantity of the bands.  We parked at the Ponce City Market and once again toted our Crowlers from The Tap on Ponce.   Here’s a hint, if you don’t like to pay for a $9 for a mass market “craft” beer, buy it elsewhere, bring it with you, and drink just outside the entrance to the festival. 

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Once inside, while others might race to the beer, my son and I raced to one of two free H20 stations, neither exactly conspicuous, but not overwhelmed with demand either.  Another hint borne from a fledgling two days at the festival:  Long line?  There may be taps on both sides.  My previous festival concert having provided a good lesson, hydration is important…

So, where do you draw the line between fledgling artists and those you’ve heard, or at least heard of, before?  Well, word of mouth can reign supreme, and that was the case this day with sufficient friends and acquaintances recommending Greta Van Fleet, a band name not likely to roll off the tongue.  This is the kind of advice that comes from, not hypothetically, a stranger at SingleCut brewery – AND the bartender, as well as a host of people wearing band logo T-shirts – not at all uncommon generally, but definitely so for a very, very young band.  If I were to say they were formed in 2012, you’d say – “good, they’ve matured and possibly worth watching by now if they’ve stayed together that long.”  Maybe you’re right. 

Regardless of others’ recommendations, if you hear the lead singer and guitarist are twin brothers – now 22 years old – and the bassist is a younger brother at the ripe age of 19, you may think it’s just another teenage wasteland…  Hanson, the Kings of Leon or similar dreck.  Greta Van Fleet’s future is uncertain, man… they are worth the price of admission today.  Imagine a young Robert Plant.


Not visually.   More specifically, imagine the guy in the center with a young Robert Plant’s voice.  If you have Spotify or another music service, try “Safari Song,” “Highway Tune,” “Black Smoke Rising,” or “Meet on the Ledge,” – the last covers and blows away the Fairport Convention song and suggests that GVF may not be a one trick pony, despite the studied posturing of its singer.   

Well, it’s a group project, and everything depends on what they do next.   The Led Zep approach has given them the stage; we’ll see how long the can keep it.   The clip below is worth it.

Circa Survive.  I liked what I had heard online before the festival.  Hard rock, mixed with a variety of influences, but sadly led by a singer who lacking an adequate vocabulary, uses the “F” not for effect but for filler to get him through dialogues with the audience between songs. 


From there, it was a short walk to catch Jacob Banks, an English singer who is much more compelling on record than live. 


So we ventured from this disappointment to see The Distillers, a punk-rock band from Australia, recently reunited and touring.  Plenty of people loved them. I hadn’t heard of them, and if I don’t again, that’s okay.  That’s the thing about music – there’s an audience for about everything.


Food trucks.  I enjoy trying them; I don’t always enjoy their food.  My son and I ended up at the The Pickle, which had a very tasty grilled chicken and green chile enchilada.  I ordered the crispy fish tacos to share between us.  This turned out to be a welcome rest while watching everyone else walk back and forth, something that, if not an obligatory thing to do, becomes a necessary thing to do.

Which brings me to tattoos.  I’m interested, but not in getting one.  Given all the phrases, symbols, icons, etc. to choose from, the what and why for permanent body art are interesting questions.  I recall a female bartender who had a Persian tale recorded on both of her arms, and she could recount the tale while pointing out the people and places.  Her heritage meant a lot to her, and she found a meaningful way to bring it close.  I have to say, the tattoos in sight throughout this festival seemed likely to be of the variety favored by drunks visiting a Tattoo 101 class with a “Buy one get one free” policy.   

We, literally had a passing interest in Atlanta’s own Manchester Orchestra, a band that I really ought to listen to more, but opted to find a place on a hill where a sore back and feet could find rest. 


This was good, because The War on Drugs was worth getting close, a band I had seen twice before and am prepared to see twice again.  It’s essentially one person, singer/guitarist Adam Granduciel, surrounded by musicians who do what they’re told.  It’s a formula sound.  The songs build, the guitar soars, and the brass makes it sublime, even if the vocals are hard to follow.  This is a band that anyone could enjoy listening to, with or without any comprehension of the lyrics.


Time to rest again.  Hey, about that band, Cake?  We caught a few songs before returning to the hillside.  I didn’t need to see them play their hit “Short Skirt/Long Jacket.”  Hearing it was enough.


Which brings us to Queens of the Stone Age, the day’s closer.  Not wanting to stand, but with my son intent on staying for the duration, we sat at the bottom of an embankment to the back and side.  This wasn’t ideal, per se.  It had rained briefly during Lord Huron, and the ground was wet.  No problem.  Having learned from Day One, I had brought a blanket.  However, a blanket does not stop a tumbling jug of water or (fairly overweight) people trying to descend the slope, twice into us and often into others. Humorous moment – three ladies trying to run up the incline and failing, yet trying again to a voice encouraging “Come on!  There’s whiskey at the top!”  They made it.

I’m not a fan of Queens of the Stone Age.  My son somehow grew up and became a fan without me knowing it.  It’s not surprising, as I think he learned about everything he knows overnight while his mom and I slept.  In any case, this was a pretty good performance.  He said they played most of the songs that mattered; I recognized one, “No One Knows,” and the others were decent. One photo below is from a coworker, who was close in; the second from me, zooming in from a farther distance with my trusty Canon G-16.  If you don’t love the music, it’s at least fun trying to time a shutter with a light show…

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Shaky Knees 2018–Day One


Day One at Shaky Knees began as a test case.  Having not been to any event at Atlanta’s Central Park “venue” or to a previous Shaky Knees, questions ran the gamut from adequacy of restrooms, to how crowded it might be, to stage/sight/sound quality, and to whether any good beer might be found. 

Not to worry.  After a  cursory bag check, it was off to the Peachtree stage for the Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever.  The stage was large, the crowd extremely manageable at this point, and the band sounded good both in style and outdoor sonics.  They’re Australian, happy to be there, and were a good start for hearing a band that I wasn’t familiar with.


The festival has four stages, two each in opposite corners of the park.  For most time slots, while one band is playing, the other stage is swapping staging, instruments, etc.  From this band, we hurried to the nearby Piedmont stage – just as big, but without video boards.

Hello rock and roll, as presented by Rival Sons.  The band’s lead singer, Jay Buchanon, enjoys the spotlight, as well as shredding his vocals in a raspy roar.  Kind of 70’s bluesy edge rock, with a Led Zep influence partially due to Buchanon’s vocals.  I later found that the title track from their standout album, Pressure and Time, was mysteriously already on my iTunes playlist.  A listen to that 2011 recorded version confirms his vocals are well beyond their half-life, but he wasn’t taking it easy on them then, either.  But rock and roll doesn’t have to last forever, unless you score enough fans for a reunion tour in your 60’s.  A good band to catch now, if you want loud, straightforward rock.  Imagine Bad Company’s music with Robert Plant’s swagger.


We weren’t near through, of course.  We hurried through trees, portable toilets, food vendors, roots and sidewalks to go the opposite corner to catch Ghost of Paul Revere at the Criminal Records stage.  They’re a folksy band from Portland with a fair number of fans that clearly knew their songs.  We didn’t.  Appropriately enough, they’re on the smallest stage but nestled in the hollow looking up to a grassy hill with plenty of tree shade.  They have similarities to the Avett Brothers, Mumford and Sons and the like…  I think the audio was fine, but I really just didn’t pay that much attention to their lyrics, which is key to this type of music.  As I didn’t hear something that I hadn’t heard before and dismissed them as an act to check out again, they’re therefore likely to be The Next Big Thing.  Hey, all it takes is one song in the right movie or TV show…


So, off we go to the other nearby stage, Ponce De Leon, to hear Waxahatchie.  This band’s original release was a favorite of many for 2017 music.  The all-female band was definitely worth the listen, prominently featuring lead singer Katie Crutchfield, who is essentially a solo artist with a backing band.  Their set lost some of the quieter charm of their last CD in favor of a more up front, rock sound.  That’s okay – concerts mixes aren’t managed like recordings.  That said, they’re fairly inanimate as a group, and the bassist was as firmly set as an Easter Island statue.  Her fingers moved, but that point on the horizon must have been fascinating.


My group consisted of my son, my concert buddy (and coworker), another coworker, and three music lovers that my company works with.  Regardless of age, standing around essentially all day begins to wear on the back and feet.  But there’s very little time to do so in a music festival when rushing from stage to stage or trying to grab a bite to eat or a drink.  It was perhaps at this point where Eric went to find a drink, or at least the beat of a different drummer. 


The above was the stage for Waxahatchie.  They’re in there in the dark end.  This “stage” was good in that it was shaded, but concrete wears on you after a time, and metal buildings do strange things with sound.  Many found an earthen bank to be close enough for the bands playing here, and I took note for future shows.

Meanwhile, it’s back across the park to Peachtree to hear Courtney Barnett.  She’s a curious artist, often with very humorous lyrics that don’t necessarily require a consistent lyrical measure or a hummable tune or much of an effort in vocalizing.  “Deadpan” is the term, but it’s essentially someone lacking vocal range or a great voice and therefore without much options.  Ba-da-bing – critic’s darling, and actually worth some attention.  Having seen her once before, I didn’t need to give her close attention as much as I needed to sit.  So…



She pretty much sounds in concert like she does on CD, or vice versa.  Nice set, my description notwithstanding.  Actually, below is where I was sitting after getting barely close enough to zoom for the photos above.


One of the biggest draws for this festival was David Byrne.  Many of the acts I had seen before, but not the Talking Heads – a rage when I was in High School and college – or its lead singer who has been a solo artist in the decades since.

Set the stage:  No musical equipment.  Grey streamers forming a drab “box” look.  And there he is, walking onto stage barefoot, then sitting at a desk.  Okay, this is something different.


And different it was, in all the right ways.  Is that a brain on his desk?  Is he singing to it?  Or about it?  Let’s check out the side-screen.  Hmm.


It was weird, but entertaining.  The guy has aged a bit, but he’s in tremendous voice.  I think I’m going to like this.  Indeed.  Other members of his troupe could be observed periodically behind the grey streamers, gradually entering to play instruments and/or provide visual entertainment.  Eventually, you get to this number.


So, there’s no “band,” per se, but the instruments are all there, a rather eloquent reconstruction of what used to be a four member band back in the day.  The entire set is choreographed, the players constantly moving  through each song.  Favorites… “Slippery People,” “Once in a Lifetime,” and “Burning Down the House.”  Most of the others were unfamiliar, and someday I’ll figure out if they sounded just as good as the rest or whether I was just won over by the performance.  In either case, this was the highlight of my Shaky Knees festival.

Next we race to Fleet Foxes, a Seattle band that I’ve seen before and greatly enjoy, finding the field already swamped with fans.  They were good, but it would be difficult for them to exceed my first encounter given the better sound for their harmonies in a proper building.  And, I’m not the biggest fan of their last CD…  Still, a great listen.


In the featured “clean up hitter” slot, we have Jack White for a two hour finale.  A critical favorite, a fan favorite, a “fantastic” guitarist.  Sorry.  The music just hasn’t connected with me, and a song or two into what another in our party would later refer to as “a great show,” my concert buddy, of like mind, and I were off on the long trek to the car.  Anyway, I can say I’ve “seen” him.  He’s the white speck in the lower center.


Day One – Long, enjoyable, but tiring enough that perhaps jumping into a three day pass might have been overambitious on the joints.  But I ain’t dead yet.


Integrity – I’ll get to it.  I have over 25,000 cousins on, never mind the other sites.  Of the closest 20 relatives or so, perhaps half include their family trees, which may cover hundreds of years or just a generation.  As an adoptee, I don’t know where I fit.  So, for a third cousin, for example, I have to identify a great-great-grandparent on their tree as a possible common ancestor.  From this, I trace all their kids, connect them to their spouses, then their kids to their spouses and so, hoping to arrive as close I can to those living today who might match another DNA test.  Each DNA relative I can place on my prospective tree rules out a direct path of the linked ancestors – else they would be more closely related.  This doesn’t provide answers, but gradually removes options.  It’s tedious and time consuming, but occasionally there are unexpected and welcome distractions.   

What would that be?  Some people take great care in documenting their genealogy, including photos of their ancestors or attaching documents may include obituaries, photos of grave markers, military draft papers, deeds, wills, and passenger receipts on trains even.  And, sometimes, there’s a brief recollection about an ancestor, a story, or even a biography, often with reference materials.

Which brings us (finally!) to Thomas Shelton.  Though he may be related to me, he’s just another name along the fairly mindless process of building out a prospective tree.  He was born in 1813 in Pittsylvania County, VA.  Along comes the Civil War, with what I think is a captivating story brings to mind the movie, Cold Mountain.  The pinned note reads:

Thomas Shelton and wife Elizabeth D. Allen of Patrick County, Virginia had twelve children. They were hard working farmers like most of my closest ancestors who lived in the hills of Southwestern Virginia.  Elizabeth gave birth to seven sons.  When the political conversation turned to talk of the south seceding from the US, my ancestor, Thomas did not think it a good idea.  He debated the issue with his family, friends and neighbors on many occasions. 

When the war came to Patrick Co. VA, he had five sons who served for the southern cause and two who did not. Two of the Confederate sons died and two more, including my great-grandfather, became so-called “Galvanized Yankees” by changing allegiance for the Union and serving "out west" for the remainder of the war (a controversial topic in its own right). 

As a young girl, while visiting my grand-aunts in Patrick and Henry Counties, I came to inherit a leather photo album and was told to show it to no one. This hand tooled leather album contained rare cabinet photos of Amer-Indians of Yankton, SD including that of "White Swan".  Also in this album were family photos of C. M. "Maddy" Shelton's wife, mother and his younger first-cousin of the same name, Charles "Charlie" M. Shelton, in uniform, who was also a galvanized soldier. [Now property of Bassett Historical Society].

When the War officially began, Shelton recalls that two of his sons joined the Confederacy right away of their own accord and two stayed back. Soon Thomas was asked to sign an oath of allegiance to the Confederate cause and as expected, he did not sign.  On two occasions Confederate officers came to his home and arrested him because he would not sign something in which he did not believe. 

On their third attempt they were successful in obtaining a signature but not in changing his point of view.  He signed in order to save his family, since pistols had been drawn and aimed at two of his sons who were then conscripted and forced into the rebel ranks. Soon they each made their way home despite threats of harm to the Shelton family. Thomas tells the story of how he kept them well hidden in the woods until he could arrange to have one of them safely transported to Franklin Co., TN where he joined the Union Army. From his affidavit :

"In a claims Interview with the US Southern Claims Commissions, Oct 1877, page 6, Thomas states that he is age 63; born in Pittsylvania, moved with parents as a child to Patrick Co., VA. Page 7, he states he had two sons in the Union Army - one enlisted in Franklin Co., TN and one in VA. Page 12-Two other sons volunteered into the Confederate service. Two others were conscripted in Virginia and one other was living in the state of Missouri and went into Rebel service. The names of those sons were Josiah A, William J, James P, Charles M, Peter T., aged respectively upon entering the service, 25-23-22-19-17. James P was killed in the Army and Josiah A died of disease in the Army. The other three are living in Patrick County."

During the war, when Confederate soldiers came to the Thomas Shelton farm looking for help, Thomas and Elizabeth took them in, clothed and fed them, gave them supplies and helped them to get back to the lines even though they did not themselves believe in the southern cause.  Then there was the time when on the 7th day of April in 1865, General Stoneman's Yankee regiment was encamped at Patrick Courthouse overnight.  The next day some of Stoneman's troops came to the Shelton farm and in broad daylight, took the Shelton's horses, all their bacon, corn, ducks, chickens, fodder, household goods including silver, and everything of value.

Thomas tells of how he asked them not to take his own favorite mare.  He was told that no harm would come to her and they would give her back to him tomorrow if he would meet up with them at a certain place.  Thomas managed to make that journey in anticipation of recovering his treasured horse.  They greeted him in a friendly manner.  Then they asked him to sign a Union allegiance document.  He explained he could not do so, regardless of his political views.  By then, the Sheltons had already lost two Confederate sons: James P Shelton, a medic who was killed in battle in May of 1862 at Williamsburg and son Josiah A Shelton who died of disease at Manassas while in the 24th Virginia Infantry in 1861.  The commander's demeanor turned. Thomas was sent away that day and was told he would never again see his fine sorrell mare and that he should be afraid for her as they had already sent her out into battle with the regiment.

After the war, a friend of the family, Atty. Benjamin Campbell assured the Sheltons he would file claims to recover the money due them for the two deceased sons and for the plundering of the farm.  However, Mr. Campbell soon passed away, and Thomas began the long process of trying to support his family and at the same time filing his own claim.  His first attempts failed since his attorney’s heirs would not return the Shelton's documents and letters of proof that were being kept on file in the attorney's office. 

The U.S. Southern Claims Commission has available for viewing a 58 page document of the claims filed by Thomas Shelton describing his ordeal.  His wife, Elizabeth, and son, Peter, also made sworn statements regarding the losses.  Many residents of Patrick Co., VA came out to swear affidavits as to the good character and honesty of Thomas Shelton.  They knew him to be a man worthy of this claim, and even though his political views were different from theirs, he was admired for his courage. The long list of predetermined questions asked by the Commission were answered truthfully as Thomas told of how in his heart he had remained loyal to his beliefs against the war.  He was asked and gave account of his reactions upon hearing the outcome of each battle and how elated he was to hear of the surrender. 

Special Agent Andrew Stedman was sent to Patrick County to collect information about Thomas Shelton's Claim.  He did not expect the dozens of people who came to Patrick County Courthouse to speak with him.  Neighbors told of how, during the war, they saw Thomas struggling to work and live after his farm was all but destroyed.  Stedman recorded the signed affidavits from the community that banded together in support of Thomas Shelton, the Union sympathizer.  Agent Stedman wrote that each man acknowledged that they didn't agree with Shelton when it came to the war but Shelton's loyalties had been well known before the war; that he made no attempt to conceal his beliefs, how they had openly discussed issues before the war and talked about how they voted; yet they knew Thomas Shelton to be a man of his word, above question in his honesty and a worthy man of the highest character. 

Amongst those who came to the courthouse and gave statements in support of Shelton were Larkin Rucker, John L. Anglin, CaptureJames L Harbour, Joseph T Flippin, Thomas D. Rorrer, Col. Abram Staples. Asa Wood, George Rogers, James B Taylor, Mark A. Howell, D. Howell, Wm. W. Stoops, Dr. W. G. B. Taylor, James Light, Dr. Joseph Bishop, Samuel G. Staples and many others.

Remarkable in my opinion, at a time when emotions were still running so high regarding the War Between the States, yet peace and compassion was found amongst friends who respected the rights of a neighbor.  The ideals of the individual freedoms given Americans by our founding fathers were obviously of great importance to all these fine folks of Patrick Co., VA.

It’s a story that shouldn’t be lost, and though it’s not likely to be found by many here, it’s where I can find it, and that’s good enough.  In reference to the title of this post, this strikes me as a moving example of the outworking of a person’s internal moral consistency, framed against intimidation and threats.  Would I have chosen the easier path?  Would you?

Aaron Lee Tasjan – Live at the Cavern

Last I saw Aaron Lee Tasjan, the alt-country-rock-something-or-another artist was rocking Louisville’s Forecastle Festival.  The result was I became an immediate fan.  His previous two solo albums, though not as aggressive as the stage show or with the same musicians, likewise caught my ear and yielded a number of favorites. 

Fast forward a bit, and my concert buddy found that he was playing for PBS’ “Bluegrass Underground” at The Cavern, a walk-in cave about an hour west of Chattanooga.  This is a new venue for the series, having relocated from an underground cave in nearby Cumberland Caverns. 

Tasjan took the stage, rock star slim and essentially unrecognizable from nine months prior.  Or, maybe it’s just a jacket and a shave…





In any case, the assembled crowd was largely gathered to hear the Sam Bush Band, a renowned bluegrass artist for a renowned bluegrass show.  Tasjan plays a lot of styles, but not that.  Yet, anyway.  So he plays a few songs – the crowd warms to him over any initial misgivings, the applause increasing.  They’re good songs.  He’s in fine voice; the band is solid. And then he drops one of his best songs, “Dime.” 


People are paying attention now. Great tune, great lyric, a rock punch to lift it up.  He sprinkles in some conversation, funny musings and recollections.  Is it for TV?  We’ll see – a little banter wins audiences.  “Ready to Die.”  The opening verse is solo acoustic, Tasjan’s voice the most expressive of the day, making a persuasive case that “pyre” is actually two syllables.   Punch up the band, throw in splendid lead guitar from Brian Wright, and the crowd is off their seats. 


Tasjan mixed in some new songs (one possibly called “End of the Day” stood out), but from “Little Movies” to the closer “Dangerous Kind,” it’s clear that his touring band makes Tasjan’s music much more than it was on his recordings.  Even better, they’re playing on his new album, said by Tasjan to be released around August.  I think “this year” was implied.


For an artist that’s been around a while in various bands, it’s clear Tasjan’s best is yet to come. His lyrics are often perfect, and even when somewhat less so, he has an abundant tunefulness to shift musical styles and shape the songs to be their best.   His lyric for “Dime” is perhaps telling:

                1.                            They tell me all the time
        1.                            I’m worth at least a million
        2.                            And I barely have a dime
        3.                            That’s alright

Hopefully, this is the band that will get him there.  He’s worth it.

About the venue:

Interesting.  This was roughly the third concert since the opened the same week.  Getting there is memorable as a respite fromHipstamaticPhoto-543765137.006613 traffic jams to venues in the city – crops, scattered houses, horses – a beautiful countryside en route to parking in a field helpfully sprinkled with fresh granite gravel… which turns out to be the overflow lot.  No worries, the guy directing cars to the lot while playing a mandolin also drives a bus to the welcome center, where online tickets are curiously exchanged for “real” tickets, and where one can browse the merch or take a short walk to the cave. 

Ah, cool.  Functional folk art!


And from there, it’s off to the cave:

Entering the cave the first thing that strikes you is not claustrophobia, but sulfur.  The cave’s natural odors linger in the entry areas and the bathrooms (prompting incense in the men’s room which may have helped?  In the women’s… the odor was reportedly more impactfully upsetting), but the concert area was fine.  And at least there is plumbing in a cave.


Temperature?  No need for blankets.  When people fill the room, it’s comfortably warm.  Food and beverages are reasonably priced as well.  All the people who usher and support the endeavor were very polite and helpful.


So, let’s not forget this was a double bill show for the PBS recording. 


The mechanics of the recording were not upsetting – cameramen up front stayed on the move, not blocking anyone for a lengthy period of time.  In fact, the floor has an incline well suited to viewing over the heads in front of you. The boom arm moved fairly constantly but not in a particularly distracting way.  Sound quality seemed to start off somewhat narrow in range, but shows usually improve sonically as the sound crew makes adjustments and/or when one’s ears adapt.

As the people working on the clock undoubtedly increase operating costs, the show started right on time… with audience reaction shots.  This was humorous, but they’re serious about it.  There was a tiered escalation from polite applause to rock show fist pumping, to be inserted after the recording as needed.  It also makes sense that they do it at the beginning because, sadly…

…everyone is in their seats at the start.  So it sucks to be the Sam Bush Band, playing at roughly the beginning of the third hour in the cave, with people going back and forth to the rest room or just… going.  The band was really good, their leader extremely personable.  But, a late Sunday equates to a work night, and many of those attending live on Eastern time, with miles to go when leaving the rural venue.  And besides, what you miss will probably be on TV?  A 2:00 CST show might suit everyone a bit better.



Yo, Tasjan.  Atlanta and its northern suburbs want you.

The Next Best Thing

We’ll say that I’ve had “some number” of different beers. Among my friends who bother to record their tastings, I’ve tasted more. Among some acquaintances I’ve met along that journey, I’m a babe in the woods. One might observe that recording beers is, once psychological disorders are considered, similar to a collecting hobby, only this particular collection doesn’t require drawer spaces, display cases, or garages. 

I like beer, particularly stouts and Northeastern styled IPAs (more citrus, less bitter). That said, I could live without beer.  I didn’t start drinking beer with any regularity until my 40’s, and I could live quite easily without it.  But aside from the taste, I particularly enjoy the social occasion of drinking beer, whether it be with friends or with strangers who are feeling conversational at a craft brewery or bar located wherever my travels take me.

There are, of course, beers I like a lot - those I return to for a satisfying drink. But, frankly, I don’t drink just to drink, “to have a beer.” I’m primarily motivated by findingtinwhiskers-17-2 the next best beer (and perhaps watching my collection statistics increase). Given the seemingly exponential growth of breweries across the U.S., it’s almost difficult to go somewhere and not have a choice of beer that I haven’t tasted before.

Just a moment’s introspection tells me that I’ve been down this road before. Music. I have more music, in whatever form technology distributes it, than the vast majority of my friends. In my case, this particular pursuit continues to take up physical space as I haven’t bowed as yet to the digital revolution.  I’m old fashioned and enjoy cover art, lyrics, liner notes, etc.  Judge me, and Renaissanceyou judge all the millennials that are now buying so-easy-to-scratch vinyl.  I thought we were beyond that…

Despite the size of my CD collection and the enjoyment I take in it, my ear is listening to new music, primarily through Spotify’s suggested weekly playlist, but through friends, on-line reviews, and, well, not the radio, because radio is dead to new music. But it’s the same kind of pursuit. Yes, I have some guilty pleasures, iPhoneJan2015-355but I have an abundance of music that fits my tastes perfectly. Yet, I continue searching for the next best thing.

When my T-Rex (daughter) was in college locally, I had a brief fling with finding the best burger in Atlanta, a measure just as subjective as any, but one that left us both patting our tummies and sporting a smug grin. Finding the best burger is not as enduring as other pursuits, as restaurants come and go, but it’s not a poor preoccupation, either, and it certainly made for some good memories.

This isn’t an adult thing, either. Comic books. At roughly nine years old, I entered the world of super-heroes. Nova_Vol_1_1_BSpiderman, X-Men, The Flash - there’s no need to list them all because they’ve (almost) all found their way to movies, TV, and a kids’ aisle near you. Nova? Where are you? But back to the theme. Comics were the same for me. “I like this. But, what is that comic? I wonder if I’d like it as much or more?”

Related are measures of success.  Professional advancement, athletic achievements.  Meeting or exceeding goals.  Tiger Woods won four golf Majors in a row.  He didn’t stop playing.  He wanted more.

Not too far afield, and more than tangentially related, is the financial relevance - “How much is enough?”  Once you’re past Maslov’s physiological and safety basic needs, we all (hope to) have a disposable income. What is that spent on? It depends on your priorities.  Nicer stuff. Travel. Gadgets. Entertainment. 

All of these are essentially just things, of no lasting relevance, things that make you feel good, amusements in life, including certain types of charity.

Perhaps it’s human curiosity, perhaps it’s an addictive nature, perhaps... it’s a need, that pursuit of being fully satisfied, of finding the ultimate thirst quencher. When is “good” good enough?


In human pursuits? I’d venture “Never.” Finding full satisfaction is a hope, and, in my view, one that cannot be filled without faith. And perhaps the search for the next best burger or beer can be met thusly, “Whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” Sounds good.