Sunday, April 30, 2006

POLITICS/TELEVISION: Stephen Colbert, Hero.

I just watched Stephen Colbert's performance last night at the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner on C-SPAN. One of the bravest things I've ever seen. Colbert was standing literally five feet away from Bush and carved him up but good, Colbert-style. Colbert let the Washington press corps, the rest of the mainstream media and Fox News have it too.Bush was most definitely P-I-S-S-E-D! You bet they'll be shipping Colbert off to Gitmo. They've sent people there for less...

Saturday, April 29, 2006


Even by O'Reilly standards, this is INSANE!!!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

POLITICS: Give 'Em Hell Claire

During her phone interview on the The Al Franken Show yesterday, Missouri US Senate candidate Claire McCaskill dropped the name of Harry Truman as many times as she could fit it into the conversation. Invoking Truman’s name has obviously tested well for McCaskill during the early going, so expect her handlers to have her continue to keep his name prominent in her message as the campaign heats up. Bush loves to try and sell himself as a decisive, take charge Trumanesque guy. But as we all know, when it comes to leadership, the two couldn’t be more opposite.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Al Franken and I at the meet & greet that followed his radio broadcast today from Graham Chapel.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


The great Howie Klein reviews Neil Young's new anti-Bush album, here!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

TV: Paulie

"He’s a married man, with a goomah!"—Paulie Walnuts

Paulie’s short-lived defense of Vito Spatafore in this week’s episode of The Sopranos is destined to be one of my all-time favorite Paulie one-liners, of which there are already many.

Friday, April 14, 2006

POLITICS/RADIO: Al Franken Show Tour Stop In St. Louis

The Al Franken Show will broadcast live from Graham Chapel at Washington University, on Tuesday, April 25. For ticket info, click here.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

BASEBALL: Meet The New Busch...

Went into Vintage Vinyl today to pick up my last paycheck and whaddya know; Lew, one of the owners, lays a pair of tickets on me for tonight’s Cardinals-Brewers ballgame. So, the new Busch? Well, it’s, um . . . okay. Boy is it thoroughly underwhelming in it’s okay-ness. I was very surprised by the lack of any kind of vibe, especially compared to that of the old Busch. It’s a retro ballpark all right: everything looks and feels old school, but with all the modern amenities. There is a severe lack of personality to the joint, and it’s only a matter of time before some egghead emerges with some great thesis citing the blandness of the new stadium as some reflection of the city’s true psyche. Whatever...

But hey, as a place for actually watching a game, it’s just fine. Sightlines all seem to be great, and you’re much closer to the action on the field than you were at the old ballpark. This new Busch doesn’t seem overly kid-centric either, which I found pleasantly shocking, given how the old Busch had practically turned into a Chuck-E-Cheeze during its final years. And the PA and piped in music are at a surprisingly low volume too. If anything the place is a little too quiet, but trust me, that’s not a complaint.

The new Busch is far from great, but it’s not all that bad either. What really saddened me though were seeing literally no people of color sitting in any of the seats. I saw maybe a dozen at the most, and I’m not exaggerating. Of course this is not the new stadium’s fault, the reasons for this trend are multi-layered and are shared by every city with a Major League Baseball team. But I do have to put some of the blame at the feet of the Cardinals’ownership, who I’m sure are just fine with the demographics of the crowd, as it looks no different from any rally for their good buddy’s Bush & Cheney.

Friday, April 07, 2006

So long to my Vintage Vinyl family...

Just finished my last day at Vintage Vinyl. Sure didn't feel like the end of anything until I cleaned out my desk. First time I've ever had a workplace desk to clean out, which I guess speaks volumes about my nine and a half years there. My dear friend Phil Harris gave me a nice bottle of pinot noir as a going away present, which was typically classy of him. Phil and I have known each other for ever, long before either of us ever came to work for Vintage Vinyl. After he gave me the wine this morning I found myself flashing back to a phone call in 1997 with Phil on the other end saying, "Hey I'm moving to St. Louis, can you give me a job?" And that's ultimately what I wound up liking most about my position at Vintage Vinyl---the look on someone's face when I told them they were hired. That's something I'm definitely going to miss...

And the ever wonderful Stacy Wahl, the sweetest person in the entire company, made me a tray of cupcakes that spelled out a farewell message. These people have no idea how much I'm going to miss them all. The actual reality that I was not going to be working there any longer didn't kick in for me until about five minutes before I left, when Jim Utz and I hugged each other goodbye. That was the wow-this is really happening moment.

Thank you Vintage Vinyl. I've loved every minute...

STEVE ROCK: "entertaining"

Click here for Part Two of "Legendary Rock Writer Ed Ward Freaks Me The Fuck Out!"

Part One can be found here, (scroll down to the April 3rd STEVE ROCK entry).

But seriously Ed, I really enjoyed your SXSW essay, and thanks for the Love Experts shout out.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

MUSIC/POLITICS: "The ice age is coming, the sun is zooming in..."

At the end of a bar somewhere off in the great beyond, Joe Strummer looks down into his beer and smiles...

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

MUSIC: Gene Pitney RIP

Day and night
Night and day
It hurts to be in love this way
---From Gene Pitney's 1964 hit, "It Hurts To Be In Love"

The great Gene Pitney has passed.

The Gene Pitney Music Vault

POLITICS: Hey Hilary, Suck On This!

The great Russ Feingold throws down.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

STEVE ROCK: Love Experts at SXSW/Twangfest/KDHX BBQ Jovita's 3/18/06

Though rain wound up cancelling the outside stage for the Twangfest/KDHX BBQ at cool Mexican restaurant Jovita's, we carried on nontheless and opened the show inside at noon with a loose and fun set. The Jovita's lunch crowd gave us a warm reception, and some of the youngsters even wound up on the dance floor. A swell time indeed. Thanks again to Marie Arsenault, John Wendland, and Rick Wood of the Twangfest gang for having us.

And as we left Austin on Sunday, my only regret of the entire SXSW week was missing Echo & The Bunnymen, Superchunk, Magic Christian, & Ian MacLagen. Maybe next year...

POLITICS: Justice DeLayed....

Good riddance to bad rubbish and all that, but I won’t be happy until Tom DeLay is behind bars and getting his salad tossed by someone other than Ralph Reed...

Monday, April 03, 2006

STEVE ROCK: Undertow SXSW Showcase/Habana Calle 3/16/06

The Undertow Records Showcase at SXSW was a major success, beginning with the SXSW gods smiling down on us in two very big ways:

1. It took place on the wonderful patio of Caribbean restaurant, Habana Calle. Featuring a good sized canopied stage decorated in Xmas lights and a backdrop of man-made boulders, we felt like we were playing some sort of incredibly comfortable Cuban theme park. The vibe was laid back in the best possible way. Bereft of the usual SXSW nervous tension, you felt like you were some place special beyond the festival, even though the venue was smack in the heart of the action on 6th St.

2. Our soundman for the evening, the great Brad Roberts! Man oh man what a great fucking soundman! Though clearly in his early 20's, the kid came with an old school approach/philosophy that is tragically rare in the world of younger soundmen these days. And as Brad put it so succinctly, “I’m here to make great artists sound great.” Sadly, many a house soundman today thinks it’s all about them instead of the specific needs of the people actually producing the music onstage. A lazy one-sound-fits-all approach is often taken by a house soundman, especially on multi-act bills. And once things are hastily set and the show begins, the soundman can often be found reading behind the board and not paying any attention to the artist or the job they’ve been hired to do for them. Needless to say the audience who pay to get in are ultimately the ones cheated most by this practice.

But Brad was a total breath of fresh air. He was all about meeting our concerns and how he could make each of the many acts on the bill sound as good as possible. The kid just kicked total ass. We Love Experts run into trouble all the time with house soundmen who through laziness and technical ineptitude just can’t seem to figure out how to get Steve’s vocals loud enough through the front PA or the onstage monitors. Piece of cake for Brad—cause the guy knew what the fuck he was doing and then actually bothered to do it! Mark Ray’s and Chris Grabau's lead vocals during their respective sets have never sounded better either! Over the course of a very long evening that commenced at 8pm and proceeded with new sets from new artists on the hour thru 1am, Brad stayed sharp and on the beam, diligently supplying each act with their own great mix. The kid went way above and beyond the call of duty, and we can’t thank him enough. If you ever play Austin and need a soundman, look Brad up at Runway Audio. You'll be glad you hired him for your gig.

I’m proud to say the St. Louis branch of the Undertow empire represented with flying colors. Love Experts, Waterloo, and Magnolia Summer all turned in highly charged sets, and I couldn’t have been more proud of us all. Respective lead vocalists Carosello, Ray, and Grabau have never sounded better in a live setting—thanks again, Brad!

And a big shout out to our dear old friend and former St.Louisan, John Ellis, who drove up from Dallas and brought along his George Harrison Rickenbacker 12-string for Dominic to play during our set. Of course it sounded great---too bad we had to give it back! Thanks again, Mr. Ellis!

After our set Tom Lunt introduced me to his buddy, legendary rock writer Ed Ward, which totally freaked me the fuck out. Geez, when I think of all the records I bought in high school at that guy's recommendations! Ward totally cracked my meat, just as you'd expect a writer from the Golden Age Of Rock Writing would, when I told him I was heading over later to catch Chris Stamey. :) Ward was cool though, and supposedly told Lunt during our set that he liked us.

The Love Experts


Magnolia Summer

The wonderful soul-pop of Chicago’s Steve Dawson followed the bands from St. Louis, though I ducked out halfway through Steve’s set to walk the 15 blocks to the Whisky Bar to catch Chris Stamey backed by Peter Holsapple. Hung a few minutes with Peter after their set, and as I said my goodbyes and took off down the sidewalk, rock legend Ian MacLagen passed by me on his way into the club. Really wished I could have stayed for Mac’s set, but I had to high-tail it back to Habana Calle for the mighty Milton Mapes.

Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey

And just why isn’t Milton Mapes like, really big stars? Lord knows they deserve to be! Forget pretenders like My Morning Jacket or the Drive By Truckers, these guys are the real deal. If Thin White Rope meets Crazy Horse is your idea of a great template for a rock band, then Miton Mapes is definitely for you! Blazing American guitar rock...

Closing the show was my old Champaign homie Jay Bennett. Backed only by a drummer, it was really good to hear Jay playing loud guitar again, cause it’s been a while. Oh and thanks for cracking my meat several times from the stage, bro... :)

Jay Bennett

A truly wonderful night indeed, it couldn't have gone any better. Thanks to all at Undertow for making it happen, and thanks for inviting the Love Experts along for the ride!

Chris Grabau, Mark Ray, and Uncle Jun from The Sopranos!

The Love Experts at the end of the long evening: Dave Collett, Steve Carosello, Dominic Finocchio, Bob Trammel (lookin' all punk rock!) and yours truly...

TV/POLITICS: McCain On Meet The Press

What a flip-flopping, pandering piece of shit! Read the transcript, here, and read it carefully. Yes, it’s only April 2006, but it’s not too early to starting working to stop/defeat McCain—NOW! Remember folks, if he gets their nomination, he’s the next president. And the Christianist extremists who control the GOP will gladly make any and all deals they need to make with McCain if they think he can win in 2008. Maintaining their power is the only thing they care about, and they’ll sleep with any devil around in order to get the job done. Friends don’t let friends support McCain...

And be sure to also check out the interview with General Zinni—powerful stuff.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

MUSIC: Paul Kean, Donk Bass God

On my 3/23 post on the Bats (scroll down), Happy Talk left the following for me in the comments section:
"How about sharing your observations of Paul Kean's wonderfully unique bass style...."

Well Happy Talk, it’s a bit of a hard style to describe, but I will say the Bats wouldn’t be the Bats without it. The instrument carrying the heaviest load in their dense wall of melody, Kean’s bass is often their "lead guitar." Inventive and intelligently melodic, Kean's lines hold down the bottom end of things nicely as well---another feat given the Bats’ quiet and minimal use of drums. From a technical standpoint I really don’t know how to put it all into words, except the guy just kinda takes off for "other places" with his playing, and lands beautifully every time. And often while "going there" Kean breaks into an odd yet sweet little jig, enhancing the overall visual wonderfulness of the Bats live.

And here’s a few photos of Kean playing that wacky bass of his. One of the strangest looking basses I have ever seen, it’s high mid-rangy tone is key to the trademark Bats’ sound. Drinks are on me to anyone out there who can identify what the hell kind of bass it is, cause I sure have no idea. Crazy kiwi... :)

Saturday, April 01, 2006

MUSIC: The Hazey Janes at SXSW/The Drink 3/18/06

The Mamas & The Papas meet The Who, or how about a punk rock version of The Corrs? Fueled only on a pre-trip “must hear” tip from Steve Pick, we made seeing this band we had yet to hear a sound from a priority. And they proceeded to blow us away and knock us geezers on our asses! Quite simply the most refreshing and fun new band I’ve seen in a live setting in ages. They’ve yet to capture the full power of their live presentation on record, and when they do, look out! But nonetheless, I’m pretty sure we’ll be hearing big things from this band in the near future...

FRIENDS: "What the hell are YOU doing here?"

Had some time to kill before going to hear Ray Davies speak, so we checked out Flatstock, an exhibition of rock poster art presented by SXSW. So the first booth we encounter upon entering and who do I see hawking his posters but my old homie Guy Burwell! We haven’t seen each other in years, and neither of us had any idea the other was in Austin. In the early ‘90's Guy and I toiled together behind the counter at the old original Euclid Records location. Guy kept me in constant laughs every day and also turned me on to a lot of great bands, like Acetone & Oasis. It was always a "trip" working with him. :)

Some of you St. Louisans may remember the great gig posters Guy created back in the day for the old Cicero’s or the cover he designed for Bunnygrunt’s Action Pants album. Guy also did an absolutely fantastic job on the poster & T-shirt design for the Lindsey-Shelton Memorial Show the Shemps put on in 2004, which I am eternally grateful to him for. Guy now lives in Portland, Oregon, and his artwork can be seen, here.

That's me on the left and Burwell on the right, "shocked and stunned---very stunned" as the Rutles say, to be seeing each other again... :)