Bohemian Rhapsody (the Queen film)

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=A22oy8dFjqc

First, watch this video of Freddie Mercury’s performance at LiveAid in 1985.

The movie is fantastic. It captures both the changes of the times and the changes of Queen’s music. There was a time that being gay was scary because not only were you “not normal” but especially if you were a gay man, you had the AIDS virus to fear. Freddie was so ahead of his time and left so tragically. The film is only kinda-sorta accurate in timeline. There are artistic liberties taken for sure.

I grew up in these times. I remember the AIDS quilt and LiveAid. I was youngish but I remember. It was scary. Starving babies with potbellies. Humans dying from an unknown virus and gay being a “horrendous sin”. We’ve come a long way and then I wonder how far we’ve really come with Mexican border camps and the “Just Grab Her Pussy” Administration.

Anyway, the film captures the times really well and tells a good story. There’s more music in the film than I expected! I wanted to stomp during We Will Rock You and wished that I could have been in the audience. This film made me feel like I was at a Queen show. That’s the best compliment I can give!

Walker Lukens @ Mueller Lake with KUTX

It was cold last night in Austin, TX but that didn’t stop us or the throngs of young children from hitting up the free Friday night show at Mueller Lake featuring Walker Lukens. When I say young, I mean toddler to 8yr olds. They danced on the stage, separated by some orange cones and a string. It was cute, then it was weird. I forget how crass he can be with lyrics like “Baby, let’s make a baby. I’m tired of all this fucking for nothing.” Yeah, that went over most of their heads (and the parents heads too I guess.)

The space was too open and lighting too off to truly appreciate Walker Lukens performance but hey, it was free. There was free Kona Brewery beer too! I’m glad I went. Even in this imperfect place. The band puts on a decent performance.

Utopia Fest 2018

We made it!

We’re currently waiting with all our camping gear. A shuttle should come in the next hour or so to take us to the GA campground. It’s a small cluster but Easy Like Sunday Morning is playing and it’s 70 and sunny outside. We’re going to miss Dawn & Hawks but Patty Griffin and Rubblebucket are playing later. We won’t miss that!

We’re on the bus! Gotta watch out for black cows cause somebody left the gate open. 🙂

Waiting in line was fun. We met John, Leah, and her husband (forgot his name). We’re on our way now! It’s still a total cluster.

Camp is set up and we found Casey’s buddy Bird! Also John from the line is our camp buddy. We’re near the point and the bridge and we’re told it might be a party. We were warned! The kid friendly camp is up the hill and the car camping is across the water.

Kalu and the Electric Joint (Austin)

This band is like a fine wine. Every song they played was better than the last. Groovy, gravely, funky, a little soulful but not too slow.

 

Lisa LeBlanc (Montreal/ soon to be NOLA)

French Canadian female rocker, with a banjo! I love Canadians and Canadian Bands! This one is Acadian Canadian. 🇨🇦

 

The Deer (Austin)

Someone said their female lead needs more force behind her voice. I didn’t understand until he leaned over and said, like that at the Wild Child show. Still, their harmonies and performance was worth watching and I have high hopes for the future of this band.

 

Wild Child

At home, singing songs in the Hill County on a perfect November Saturday. Damn, that was good.

 

Keller Williams

I didn’t actually watch a lot of this, but I heard it. All Tom Petty and it was great.

 

I hurt my leg last Sunday on an epic kayaking trip, almost broke it. It’s black and blue so by this part of the night I was pretty beat but needed to hang in there. The great thing about Utopia fest is that stages don’t overlap. When one is done, the other starts and they are close together so even if you don’t migrate, you can still take in the music.

Patty Griffin

Ahh Patty. I love you. Her voice wasn’t as strong as it was at HSB but she carries a strength and wisdom in her performance like a strong Oak tree. She’s seen some shit.

Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real

At one point shortly into the set, the Clarke Kent looking Lukas thanked everyone on his crew, followed by “we may have all just taken mushrooms, at least I think that’s what it was”. (The next morning I heard someone talking about the enormous amount of chocolate shrooms he gave Lukas.) I guess being Willie Nelson’s son, it takes a bit more to shake ’em because the performance was great. He’s at the top of his game right now with A Star Is Born doing so well at the box office. Did you know Bradley Cooper worked with Lukas on the movie to perfect his singing? Haven’t seen it but I hear it’s great! Congrats Lukas!

Rubblebucket

One of my favorite lyrics: “It’s amazing, I came out of a lady hole.” This dance, pop, smart-modern band will make you smile, think and dance it out. They still have the fun moves and great dance party vibe but this band is maturing into a beautiful work of art, like a St Vincent performance.

I hobbled back to camp and passed out. There was live music all night thanks to our neighbors with the fire pit. Again, we were warned. Fortunately it was pretty good with a song I particularly enjoyed at 8am, “I’m Drunk and I’m Drinkin”.

DAY 2 – Saturday

Rob found Shaun so we went to see her camp and meet Chelsea and Austin. Chelsea and Shaun know each other from college. When we went back to our camp, Bird got out of his tent and we discovered that he was also part of this old college crew. Festival magic. Our friends were already old friends.

I ended up hanging at camp for a bit to rest my leg and listened to the show from across the lake which was perfectly delightful.

SA Pipes – bagpipes for breakfast

Progger – Prog Rock?

Trouble in the Streets – NOLA Brass?

Particle Kid – I liked this sound. They got me motivated to move.

Hikes – harder rock than I expected but good female led rock and roll

Baskery – THE JAMMIE WINNER!

 

I really didn’t expect to love this band as much as I did but they were so good! Hailing from Sweden, the three gals sing folk rock, mostly in English but their traditional Swede bar ballad was beautiful and super fun! The female banjo player has a kick drum! Catch them if you can!

Hard Proof – Local Austin Jam Band

Choir!Choir!Choir! – A good idea in concept was too much for a late night stage. Hopefully many festi-goers took this opportunity to batten down the hatches. A lightning storm was on the horizon.

The duo invited Kelsey from wild Child to sing Hallelujah after spending 30min teaching the audience the harmony. It was tedious and the outcome questionable but I love singing harmony and had enough whiskey to make it fun.

 

Valerie June – I find her kinda kitchey sometimes but really enjoyed this performance. She is a solid musician and has a beautifully weird voice, look, and personality.

 

Calliope Musicals – Damn. They really nailed this performance. This band is ready for a big festival like Bonnaroo or Coachella. They sounded great, were so much fun to watch and really filled up the space.

 

I walked home to Medeski Mad Skillet. Stopped and hung with Shaun for a bit as we strategized the coming lightning storm. Went back to camp, battened down the hatches and listened to STS9. The rain started pouring as the last song ended!

Getting out in the morning was a little tricky with the mud. The guys caught a ride from Bird to their cars and then we hiked our stuff out rather than wait for the shuttle. It wasn’t too bad and we got to hang with our friends new and old, one more time.

Thanks for the good times Utopia Fest!

The Reputations @ KUTX Studios

“This band is one you need to see” said Taylor Wallace, the KUTX DJ who introduced the band on the radio. That’s right, they are a sight! We were lucky enough to score a couple of the coveted Concert Club tickets to see this band play in the studio at the 98.9 radio station.

Local Austin band, The Reputations are a sight to see. The lead singer, Rockyanne Bullwinkel’s orange halter top with no bra, red spandex, zipper front bell bottoms and fantastic 80’s glam haircut took center stage with others in the band trying to keep up with her style. They did a decent job but it’s hard to compete with that look! It also feels very reminiscent of Sweet Spirit both in demeanor, sound, and performance. I read somewhere that Seth Gibbs who started the band is Sabrina Ellis’ (Giant Dog / Sweet Spirit) ex-husband. Yep, that seems about right. The lead singers give a very similar in-your-face performance. Unfortunately it appears that Gibbs has had to step out of the picture, being diagnosed a few months ago with a rare form of metastasizing stomach cancer with a 1% chance to live beyond a year and a half. We wish you peace and strength in your fight Seth.

The Replacements are entertaining. They have some room to grow but they played a new song they are working on for their next album and it seems promising. I’ll keep an eye on this Austin band as they grow…even if it feels a little like cheating on Sweet Spirit.

Their new album, Electric Power comes out on November 9th.

ACL – Sunday Wknd 2

On the bus, so there’s no fuss.

Heading to catch Mt Joy if we hurry. They just started.

Mt. Joy was great! That’s the band that sings about Jesus driving an Astro Van and Drugs, Women, Wine and Weed. As if that wasn’t enough, they also sound great.

ARIZONA (all caps b/c the internet)

Yeah, they’re cool. I have to come back to this.

Bahamas are up next.

In the last two weekends I have seen some of my top favorite bands/singers in the world. Damn I am lucky.

Patty Griffin, Jeff Tweedy, Langhorne Slim, Glorietta (a supergroup of some of my fav bands) and Bahamas! Bragging.

Bad boys need love too y’all. (If this is your first time listening to Bahamas, they don’t really rap. This is just a tribute to loving deadbeat dads and a verse about climate change. They go together, it works.)

That’s the end of the Bahamas current tour. Catch them next time hopefully. They didn’t seem totally in sync today, like maybe being on the road and performing every night is getting a little old. I hope they’re just in need of a break. They bring out the groovy jams and funky harmony like very few can. I like Afie, the dude, on his own but the whole band with Felicity Williams, the female singer, is what makes the band.

They closed with “I’ve Got All The Time”. Then we went to see Houndmouth who played “Sedona”. Both of these songs are on a playlist from a special time in my life. It’s funny how just a few songs can recall a distant time or place.

Houndmouth

I keep missing this band but finally saw them! They were actually much better than I expected. A lot of fun energy and a good sound.

Shakey Graves

https://youtu.be/mIv5-T1dljU

He covered Something In the Way by Nirvana. See video on the YouTube channel.

He’s really a great musician. It’s wonderful he “made” it because this guy earned it. His new album veers away from his old one-man-band beats and tambourine mix but it’s still something you want to listen to and really hear.

ACL – Saturday,Wknd 2

I’ve ridden Lyft many times and never feared for my safety and maybe that’s why I was shaking when I got out of my ride halfway to the fest on the I-35 access road.

The vehicle was playing a rap song about “slap that bitch” and “fuck that clit”. Not loud, but that is a fact. I’m not sure that you can fuck a clit.

The guy opted not to get onto the freeway entrance very close to my house and took the access road. There was a police escort that looked like it could slow things down so fine, whatever. At this point I mentioned that you could get on there and take the upper deck. They 3 other guys I was with agreed but the driver did not. I guess that our driver didn’t like the correction and still wasn’t planning to follow the gps. He did not get onto the freeway and he ran a red light in front of St. David’s at the on-ramp . Then we were trapped in UT game traffic. Was this maybe his plan the whole time? Pick up a higher fare? IDK, it was a weird situation. He said we had been rude and would be leaving us here to get another ride. Seriously, he pulled over on the access road and told us to get out. So we called another Lyft and here we are, at ACL. That really sucked and made me feel unsafe, even with three dudes in tow.

The Wombats – A strong festival beginning as we get oriented.

Curtis Harding – Great soul rock and roll.

The Breeders – Kim Deal is the real deal, still. First the Pixies, then the Breeders. She still rocks.

Lucie Silvas – This was a surprise. I liked the bit of the show I caught. Her smoky voice would be worth checking out again.

Brandi Carlisle – The guitarist from Pearl Jam, Mike McCreedy joined the set for a jam. It was a lot harder rock than I expected from her show but still with plenty of soft spots. The rock and roll made it easier not to cry so that’s nice. I’ll take this any way it’s being served.

Trampled By Turtles – Their Music is great but their audience is a bro show and I didn’t really want to deal with it.

Chvrches – It surprises me how cute she is. Pink flowing dress on a tiny 20-something dancing and spinning. She has black eye mask makeup though so she’s clearly a badass. Right? This was also a bro show but in the gay fan-boy way. I ended up in a mass of dudes who were so excited to see her, which was kinda fun on its own.

Sylvan Esso – Taking the stage in a Beyoncé, Single Ladies onesie with fringe arms and platform boots she was both fun to watch and good to hear. The lighting (or lack of) made the show feel surreal and dreamlike, especially as nighttime started to take over.

Metallica – These old dudes still rock hard.

2018 Hardly Strictly Jammies

The winner is…. Darlingside

This is mainly due to the fact that on Sunday we both chose this as our favorite performance. That says more about the day and our music tastes than anything. Darlingside is a 4-piece boy band from Boston who sounds a bit like Bon Iver with Sea Shanty Singers. They are like Warren Helman in a variety of ways and that is our jam.

Friday Jammie Winners:

  • Patty Griffin (Andee) – great to see her sing so strong and beautifully, brought me to tears
  • Langhorne Slim and the Lost At Last (Jenn) – he engages the audience in such an honest connection, also brought the feels

Saturday Jammie Winners:

  • Glorietta \ Jeff Tweedy (Andee) – My hometown (Austin) supergroup was a mix of perfection and Jeff is my favorite
  • I’m With Her \ The War & Treaty (Jenn) – All of these voices are what this country needs right now

Sunday Jammie Winners:

  • Darlingside (Andee & Jenn) – A surprising win. They earned the audiences attention with beautiful harmonies and strings on a slow Sunday morning. Well done.

For the record, Langhorne Slim (Great American Music Hall on 10/4), Tweedy (Fillmore on 10/5), Ben Morrison and Lone Bellow (GAMH on 10/7) we’re not eligible for the Jammies. You might have already guessed but Jenn would pick Ben every time. Check out our YouTube channel for some great videos of these performances and thanks for reading!

Day 3 – Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Sunday 2018

Updates and the Jammies on Monday. Submit your nominations now. Also accepting photos.

What we saw:

Emmylou Sound Check – This is always a special and intimate moment between Emmylou, her band and the crowd. Today, Emmylou let us in on the fact that she was suffering from a cold and while you could totally tell during soundcheck as she coughed and blew her nose, you would never have guessed in her performances (even her soundcheck performances). A consummate professional!

Vetiver – The last song was good. Overall, this local band does not excite this local girl. To be fair though, I’m pretty sure that both Crystelle and Teri liked them when we saw them before too so this may just be a case where they are “not my jam”. Andee did point out that they were slow and that was perfect to start a Sunday morning.

Darlingside – Stole my heart. Looks/sounds like the Beatles and Bon Iver. That’s Andee’s assessment. Jenn says this band healed my soul two years ago (though that was not the first time that I had seen them and I had liked them enough the first time I saw them — opening for Patty Griffin, I believe — that I remembered their name and jumped at the chance to go see them with Renee) and they continue to heal me every time I see them and I see them any chance that I get.

Aaron Lee Tasjan – Best dressed band of the day. Also good and rocking and I love his song ‘Bitch Can’t Sing’ which doesn’t sound like an ally kind of song but it totally is. You have to hear the intro story (or maybe listen to the lyrics) to see the way that it is supportive,  but it’s definitely there. Also I managed to get a delivery of IPAs and flourless, dairy free peanut butter cookies which were AH-mazing. Thanks Dennis!

Nick Lowe – Another legend! He was backed by Los Straitjackets who performed the entire set in luche libre masks in the sun. It seemed cruel, but perhaps it was meant to be kind. (See what I did there?). He played that as well as his other hits and asked the question (well, one of them) on everyone’s mind… What is so fucking funny about peace love and understanding?

The Lone Bellow – (Part one — because we went to see them at GAMH as well after the music ended in the park). They were really incredible. I loved them the way I loved them the first time I saw them (also at HSB). They might have gotten best of the day (instead of Darlingside) except that their show at GAMH was better than the performance in the park, so we felt we couldn’t award them the best of Sunday. One of the highlights of both performances was when they covered Buffalo Springfield’s ‘For What It’s Worth’, though ‘Cold As It Is’ is amazing around that one mic.

Emmylou Harris & The Red Dirt Boys –

What to say? This is how I’d like to end every music festival if I can’t have this every weekend which would be my first choice. As usual, just lovely!

Thanks for joining us!

Day 2 – Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 2018

Here we go again. Tweedy last night at the Fillmore was amazing in spite of the Kavanaugh heckler. We love you Jeff. Thanks for speaking out for women.

This is an awesome photo of Jeff and his wife at the Women’s March.

Feeling tired?

Acupuncture with Sophia – near Lafayette, California… wha. East Bay. She’s an original sponsor of this blog. Thanks Sophia. 925-268-0117

Shows today:

Glorietta – The Austin supergroup was exactly my jam. Loved them. This was one of those fleeting moments that was so beautiful. This band seems to be together for one tour only and that’s a little bit of a bummer though we were lucky enough to catch this one time only super-group. Some of us might be lucky enough to see them in December in Austin too.

Hurray for the Riff Raff – Her style is what my 13 year old self loves. T-shirt, pink skirt, sparkles and frilly socks. Someone said she seems angry. Fuck right she’s angry. Have you been paying attention? #fuckthepatriarchy

This passionate music inspires.

The Cave Singers – It was a little disappointing how much sound was computer-generated with this band.

I’m With Her – OMG! This was so good! Definitely vying for Best of the Jammies. Those yellow jumpsuits were awesome but the real treat is their sound. Jenn here adding my own shout-out! Seeing and listening to and watching these ladies was so good for me! It felt like a little bit of healing. I’m definitely with her (especially Sara Watkins)!!!

The Wailin’ Jennys – nice harmonies. Jenn, when are you going to put them on your radar?

Tracy Nelson (above) – a legend… but kinda wish I would have walked over to see Liz Brasher. I never made it to the Bandwagon stage. Our set up at Rooster was just too good and I found Andy and Carla with Banjo (not the stage, the superfan)!

Another update from Jenn: Liz Brasher was amazing. Again. I missed the beginning of her set cause I had to haul ass to get from the Towers to the Bandwagon. I got to walk past The Wailin’ Jennys but there was no time to stop (though they did sound good. I’ll put them on my radar)! They were my sacrifice for Liz! And I was able to make it back to the Rooster for some of Tracy Nelson who had Lillie Mae on fiddle.

So back to Liz Brasher.

She should be on your radar if you like a woman who can rock! She makes me happy. Chatted with a nice guy, Steve, who was in town for work and extended his trip to stay for HSB. He had just randomly walked up on her and earlier on Kevin and Dustin Welch (who I was sorry to have missed but not sorry to have seen Hurray for the Riff Raff instead. Tough first world choices!)

Molly Tuttle – She’s small in size and in energy so she provided a beautiful afternoon serenade with soothing strings.

The War and Treaty – woah! See them! Right now!

Not only are they fun to watch and put on a great performance, they sound fan-freaking-tastic! Also a solid contender for Best of the Jammies. So much good music in one weekend! So much good music in one day!

Jeff Tweedy – Do I need to say anything? It was a magical experience.

I was sad to have missed Jeff Tweedy after how amazing he had been on Friday night at the Fillmore but I was LONG overdue for seeing Ani DiFranco and am trying to support women whenever possible. Jeff Tweedy is a solid ally but Ani is a woman and so my decision was made. It was totally the right decision as she launched the set with ‘God’s Country’, one of my personal favorites and it just got better! What a way to end the night!

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