Monday, July 12, 2010


Cue the Barbra Streisand....

Actually, it's funny because listening to Barbra Streisand always makes me think of my mom. Especially her ridiculous version of "Jingle Bells." My mom loved Babs, a love I could never, ever relate to. I guess she kind of looked like her- pretty, but a bigger nose. She certainly couldn't sing as well, although that never stopped her from singing along to all those albums. (Yes, albums. Vinyl. LPs. Records.) It would drive my sister and me crazy. Especially embarrassing was the year she dressed as Yentl for Halloween. Dear Lord. Of course now, I hear her and it makes me feel. Sometimes I get teary-eyed, sometimes a small smile creeps on my face remembering.

Memories hit me at the oddest times. The random Babs song while switching through the channels on the radio. Hearing morning doves outside my window always brings me back to waking in the morning at my grandparents' house. Hangovers that make me think of college.

Most of my memories are triggered by food.

I made cinnamon toast this morning on leftover hamburger buns and it reminded me of my mom making breakfast. I thought of all her other breakfast foods: 3-minute eggs, those awesome boxed blueberry muffins with the crumbly top, waffles that she made with raspberry seltzer water to make them light. Breakfast wasn't her big meal, though. Mostly, the food that makes me think of her is dinner-related. Her tomato sauce that I rarely make but used to request once a week, any kind of roasted meat with the world's best gravy that I can't, for the life of me, emulate, her Sour Cream Noodle Bake.

My mom was not our only cook. I made my dad's Cajun Potato Salad and Green Salsa last week for Saturday's party and thought of him the whole time. Also every Thanksgiving when I make his stuffing, or prepare the turkey just as he showed me. And let's not forget Grandma. Don't tell anyone this, but she was a hit-or-miss cook. My grandpa would probably cry to hear me say that, but it's true. She just did a really good job with the foods she knew. And she was an excellent baker. Pies, cookies, cakes. But her specialty was Mush Buns, an old family recipe from my grandpa's side. No one but Grandma ever took the time (2 days) to make those buns, mostly because they tried and flopped- the buns didn't rise, or were as hard as hockey pucks. I've made them once and was successful. I hope not from sheer luck.

I'm trying again this week. My aunt's going on vacation and my grandpa will be home and, for the first time, alone. I'm taking the kids to spend some time with him. And I'm taking Mush Buns. Because I know how he'll feel when eating them. And I want him to know that I feel the same way.

Listening to: The Jealous Sound "The Jealous Sound"

xo. kb.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

You know it's a good show when the crowd erupts over feedback.

I went to see Silversun Pickups last night at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago. I've been looking forward to this concert for a while. As you may know, I wrote near the entirety of WHERE CURRENTS PULL to Silversun Pickups. So they have a very warm and loved spot in me. But I have to be truthful here. I've seen them on every late night performance they've done, and I've never really been impressed. They always seem to be playing too fast, or are nervous or something. So I was excited, but not expecting it to be super awesome.

Lord, I love it when I'm pleasantly surprised. And really, I don't know if "pleasant" is quite the word. Sweet Jesus, that was a fantastic show.

I've gone to a lot of concerts. A lot. I'd put this in the top 5. No joke. The Aragon is literally a ballroom. An old dance hall. It was built in 1926 and has hosted the likes of Glen Miller and Duke Ellington. I never had a chance to go to those dances because I'm not a gazillion years old, but I have seen a few shows there- Nirvana/Mudhoney, The Verve, Death Cab For Cutie. I'm always amazed at how beautiful the interior is. The floor is wood, and the balconies are made to look like turrets. The ceiling is painted in swirls and sunsets and has LED "stars." Pretty freaking cool.

We got there late/early. Late because doors opened at 630, early because it was 7 and that's pretty early for a show. We missed out on the first band, but had a chance to see Against Me! play. They had a lot of energy and played a good, albeit long, set and, although the room wasn't full, their fans were loud. I think it set the tone for the night.

The crowd thickened after they left stage in anticipation of SSPU. As always, an obnoxious tall person stood directly in front of me. I don't know why this happens, but it must be fate or something. I'd like to see a venue organize the crowd in a general admission by height. I think it's only fair for the shorter people. Right? Although a plus for being smaller is that, after I freaked out with anger at the tall dude wearing a fedora, I was able to worm my way through to find an okay spot. And then they came on and the crowd exploded.

I think that the magic of an evening is equal part the band being "on" and the crowd being "on." It was one of those nights.

First let me say that Christopher Guanlao is the best drummer I have ever seen perform. Yes, I've seen The Song Remains The Same. Moby Dick is amazing, but John Bonham was fat. CG played like Animal from the Muppets. Seriously. And it was SO FREAKING GOOD! The show was, for me, worthwhile just to watch him drum. Even if the rest of them didn't play.

But they did and, damn, I was impressed. Brian Aubert is much more theatrical/dramatic than I expected. He'd hold out notes for a long time and look at the audience as if baiting them. "Oh. You're waiting for me to resolve this? Well, keep waiting." And he talked more than a lot of front men do. Lately it seems I go to shows and dude singing just wants to perform his art, or mumble something unintelligible. Well, not David Bazan, who openly invites the audience to converse with him, but he's a one-off. Anyhoo, BA talked to us. And he said how much they love Chicago. "We kind of are in love with your city. But don't worry. It's purely sexual." Usually I hate it when bands say this, but I actually believed him. Maybe I was swept up in the moment, but it seemed honest enough. And the crowd was really into it, so maybe it was the truth.

So other points of interest. Joe Lester is like that quiet guy that makes you nervous. You wonder what he's thinking. He seemed to have forgotten there was a crowd, and just made sweet sweet love to his keyboard. And at the encore, everyone left the stage (BA was still there, but on the floor and I couldn't see him) and he was just playing loud and creepy. Oh hells yes. Also. Everyone in the world loves Nikki Monninger. Besides having an excellent fashion sense, she is amazingly able to play bass, jump around in a dress, and rock out all at the same time. Really. I'm awed.

Yes, they played an encore. I hate encores. Just play a long show and take a moment to get a drink. Or play a short show and have me wishing for more. But they played one and it was okay, because they ended with Common Reactor, which was the perfect song to end with. And I ended up leaving still wishing for more.

Definitely my favorite show of 2010.

Listening to: Silversun Pickups "Swoon" Duh.

xo. kb.

Oh, and I love Christopher Guanlao now. Maybe it's the drummer fascination because I'm writing about a drummer (Jeff), or maybe it's because he's absolutely amazing. Either way...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Skipping Seven.

I totally stole this from my MySpace blog. I may just do that now and again, when I feel like it. Here's a little bit about Skipping Seven, the band that ties the three books together.

...I'm listening to Jane's Addiction's "Three Days" on repeat and mulling over my book characters, specifically the members of Skipping Seven, and wondering about their musical tastes and styles. I went into this quite a bit in WCP, and a tiny amount in JALR, and not at all in ATW. But I want it all in my head and I thought I'd share.

Sawyer plays bass. He's a lean over and into your bass kind of player. Until he writes a song with lyrics and becomes Skipping Seven's singer as well. We know about his musical likes from the posters on his wall and the CD's he plays for Eliza when she comes over. He likes Smashing Pumpkins (Gish), Primus, Pixies, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sonic Youth, Jane's Addiction, and Jeff Buckley (this is later- he sings "Lover, You Should Have Come Over" to Eliza). I don't think I mentioned it in a book, but I'm pretty sure he's a big Fugazi fan as well. Who isn't? I've been trying to figure his style of playing. This is why I have "Three Days" in my head, and now "Then She Did." I'm pretty sure he plays like Eric Avery.

Chris... I spent a lot of time on him. Kind of in love with this character. Oh, you may know this from previous posts. Chris plays guitar- a Gibson ES or maybe a Rickenbacker 330. His heroes are David Gilmour and Johnny Marr, and he plays like them. Cool expression, effortless like breathing, but with emotion coming from the guitar. Chris is a creative insomniac. He gets a melody in his head right before falling asleep, (this is how I write) and can't sleep until it's worked out.

Jeff is a drummer. I'll be really honest and tell you I've spent the least amount of time in his instrument. I love the drums, but I know next to nothing about them. However. He plays, generally speaking, loud. But there's a tribal beat to his sound and it's not at all punk. I hear Stephen Perkins and that sounds about right to me. Or Will Goldsmith on The Fire Theft album.

Skipping Seven
As a whole, when I envision the band, they're very much The Fire Theft to me. You're surprised right? You didn't think I was a fan, did you? Although, when I describe SS's albums, I did so while listening to Sunny Day Real Estate. Again, you're surprised. But anyway, I listened to "Diary" when describing SS's "Just A Little Rain," "LP2" (or "The Pink Album"- however you call it) when describing "Throw Your Stones" and "How It Feels To Be Something On" when describing the third album (which I'm finding I never titled- strangely, their fourth album is though). I listened for tone, generally, but when describing the new songs on the third album (in WCP) two of the songs are my interpretation of "Roses In Water" and "Two Promises."

That's all.

xo. kb.