(No Longer) Dead To The World

I am still alive! I have not been taken down by my foursome. It isn’t for a lack of trying! My pre-teen likes to remind me daily of my ‘great parenting’ (in case your phone isn’t displaying the font correctly, that is written in the oozing sarcasm font), my 2nd boy has perfected the playing of the middle child card, my daughter is 7 going on 17, at least in her mind, and my baby has up and left me to enter Kindergarten. Oh yeah, and the start of the school year also brought us the gift of the stomach bug. All except my darling daughter got it. My theory is that she is so mean that she scared it away.

The point is, I am still here. Still listening to music. Still going to live shows. Still writing about parenting and music. Well, okay, you got me on that one. In my head, I have written hundreds of posts. Unfortunately, they haven’t gotten out of my head nor can you read my mind. So they have done no one any good. Part of me feels like a slacker, but you know what, the other part of me says screw it. I am a busy Mom of 4 who is trying to balance parenting, wife-ing, working, socializing, and everything-else-including-the-kitchen-sink-ing. Speaking of sinking, I realize lately this blog has been totally lacking my attention. I miss it. I miss you all. I miss talking about music that I love. I miss finding new bands to share with you all.

So, I am back. Part of the reason I had to come out of my blog-ernation (I was going to say hibernation, but if you have seen me around, hibernation couldn’t be further from the truth. It only pertains to the blog…hence the cute, made up name), is because one of my all time favorite bands in coming to town this weekend. And you shouldn’t miss it. And I apologize for all the shows I failed to tell you about. Wow….there were some good ones, too. Anyway…back to the show this weekend….

Ha Ha Tonka is playing at Headliners on Saturday night. These guys are just amazing. I’ve written about them a ton! They are extremely talented musicians and vocalists as well as downright nice guys. Come one now…they pulled me on stage at Uncle Slayton’s a few birthdays ago to sing me Happy Birthday!! There is no video (that I am aware of), but many of you were in attendance and can confirm this wasn’t just a happening in one of my dreams! They also win the title of hottest concert I have ever attended. It was in Lawrence, KS (we just happened to be visiting good friends out there). Actually, now that I think about it, they are in a tie with My Morning Jacket at The Palace for that title. Anyway, good times were had by all and we left with a glistening that you normally acquire from the sauna.

Ha Ha Tonka is out touring in support of their new album, Lessons. Brian Roberts, lead singer, has said that he got inspiration from the album after hearing an NPR interview with the late illustrator and renowned children’s author, Maurice Sendak (you know – Where The Wild Things Are and Little Bear, amongst others). These guys will get anyone moving. They rock hard. I have written about them a number of times. I like their new stuff. It’s one of those albums that really grows on you the more you listen to it. And I have been listening plenty!

Also, these guys are BIG St. Louis Cardinal fans and this girl, who is a BIG Yankees fan will be cheering on the Cardinals with them this week! 😉

This is a video of one of their new songs – Dead To The World. And I glad that I am no longer dead to the (blogging) world! I can’t wait to feel their energy Saturday night at Headliners!! See you there?


a white blank page and a swelling rage

Nothing like a whirlwind, band following trip to force you to accept the fact that yes, we are getting older. Note, I didn’t say old…there is a HUGE difference between older and old.  Trust me.

It has been nearly a year since hubby and I had our epic music weekend.  It started a a Friday night with a) My Morning Jacket in Louisville for hubby and friends and b) The Avett Brothers at the Ryman in Nashville for my Dad & I and friends.  It was a hard decision, but I couldn’t miss my Avetts, even though they were playing two nights in a row, I couldn’t miss a song!!  On that Saturday, hubby and other friends drove down and we all saw The Avetts with Grace Potter (holy smokes…she is HOT!).  And Grace surprised us with a guest appearance by Kenny Chesney, who had traded in his cowboy hat and boots for a skull cap and tennis shoes! We knew The Avett Brothers would be amazing as the crowd belted out the lyrics to Bon Jovi’s Livin On A Prayer while we waiting for them to take the stage (which they did in full mummy costumes, since it was the night before Halloween).

Those shows would have been enough to satisfy most people, but not me.  I had been listening to Mumford & Sons for a while and knew as soon as I heard they would be in Nashville that I must be there to see this English folk band (I know…you usually don’t hear those words together!)  Unfortunately for us, they were playing the day after Halloween and we couldn’t stay there for an extended weekend after The Avett’s show, since the foursome would be counting on us to be home so they could fill their bags with a parent’s worst nightmare…sugary hell! But I was determined and hubby just nodded and said yes. So, we turned around the day after Halloween and made the trek back down to Nashville. And we never regretted it!!

Mumford & Sons put on an amazing show that had everyone dancing and singing along…I love the how much the crowd is singing along in the video below.  I am not sure how they were able to walk off the stage at the end…they had put everything into the show. It was pure energy! I think I could have watched the keys player play all night….man, he was good and so into it!  We were also treated to a surprise guest for the encore…Old Crow Medicine Show. I am not sure how many people were on stage for the encore, but it was packed!  I was looking for a video from that show and not surprising, I could only find one good one…everyone was too busy jumping around to video!

I am sure you are wondering why I am talking about a show that was 11 months ago….well, the memories of that night came flooding back when I saw that Mumford & Sons are going to be the on season opener of Austin City Limits tonight.  Don’t worry if you miss it, they usually replay it regularly (check your local listings here: PBS schedule).  As I watched the promo video my heart started pumping fast again, I started singing along and then I immediately checked their tour schedule (nothing close unless you are in CA…California and Canada).  These guys are good and I think I drove the whole 2.5 hours home from the show on a complete music high!!  This video proves that they don’t need a lot of fancy stuff to sound good.  Now, if I could just figure out how to get them to play in MY backyard….

escaping to the garage with Ha Ha Tonka

As I prepared for my first official artist interview, I realized that I had no place where I could conduct the interview without the constant threat of the interrupting foursome.  You know how it is–everyone is totally settled and content, but the moment you pick up the phone, there is something that needs your attention.  And it is always something of the life or death nature….”I can’t find my water!” “Mommy-he won’t stop smiling at me.” Really?

I was started to get seriously worried about it when the interview-saving idea hit me – I could hideout in the garage! Hence the name of my interview series (I’m being optimistic that there we will be more this one!!): escaping to the garage with….

Ha Ha Tonka comes from the hills of the Ozarks and got their name from the Missouri state park by the same name.  Their sound is unique and fresh, yet comforting and familiar at the same time.  There is a strong sense of classic Southern Rock, yet with an edge of newness.  The result is music that is foot-stomping good which will entice you to sing and dance along!

So, I sat in a folding chair, praying the foursome hadn’t perfected their hide & seek skillz (don’t worry–there was actually another adult in the house with them at all times!!).  When Brian Roberts, lead singer and guitar player for Ha Ha Tonka called, my surrounding were quickly forgotten.  If you couldn’t make it to the last Waterfront Wednesday (I tried to convince you to go!!), then you missed out on seeing his amazing smile the entire time he was performing.  And I could hear that same charismatic smile making its way through the phone.  Brian says that one of his biggest pet peeves is cynicism and I can tell why – it seems to be the opposite of  his outlook on life! Even as he describes the harsh reality of life on the road – averaging maybe 8 hours per city, often having to drive a few hours after a show to ensure they make it to the next city – he emphatically declared that he was not complaining and he felt immensely fortunate that they are able to make music for a living.

It is a long way from where Brian started.  He is from a small, rural town in Missouri where music was a constant in his life from an early age.  His parents were both musicians and he was raised in the Church of Christ, where all church music is a capella.  And that is how Brian started his singing career.  He joked that it wasn’t very good singing on his part.  I say he has gotten pretty far on ‘poor singing’!! If only we could all be so lucky with our poor singing.  He said he was about 15 or 16 before he picked up the guitar, even though his Mom really wanted Brian and his brother to try the piano.  Brian and his brother ‘won’ that battle, yet now he says (with that smile in his voice) he totally missed out because playing the piano is the sure way to get the girls. 😉  However, he was serious when talking about the regret of not learning the piano.  This next part was music to my ears…parents listen up!! Brian claims that his parents were his biggest musical influences.  They both played and encouraged Brian and his brother to follow suit. Yay…score one for parents!!

It is always fascinating to me to hear about who bands are listening to.  Brian said Arcade Fire has been on heavy rotation.  But then he got very animated when talking about J.Roddy Walston.  Both Ha Ha Tonka and J. Roddy Walston & The Business played at the Austin City Limits Festival last weekend.  Brian could not stop talking about how talented J. Roddy Walston is and how they were the ‘best unknown’ group out there. And so lucky for us, J.Roddy Walston & The Business are playing at Waterfront Wednesday tonight with the talented local group, The Deloreans, and highly recognizable, They Might Be Giants.

Brian said Ha Ha Tonka hopes to make it back to Louisville in early 2012.  I will keep you updated as I hear more because this is a genuine group that plays amazing music and you don’t want to miss them!