Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Steely Dan Walter Becker's Speech on "Hey Nineteen" Transcribed

Transcribed from the Steely Dan show on August 24, 2013 in Los Angeles at the Nokia Theatre

(solos for awhile, music drops to low vamp)

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. And we’re so lucky to be here tonight, at the, uh, Staples Center, or wherever this is. That’s how I feel these days. Wherever I am, I'm lucky to be there. Because this, as it so happens -- I checked, and it’s true -- is absolutely the peak night of the summer of 2013. The best night of the summer is tonight! Now how do like them apples?

(solos for a few notes)

And you know what? Cause we’re here, and you’re here, and we’ve got these tunes. We still like these tunes, and you still like them too. You still know, you still know how good it is, how sweet it is, to feel some music playing, and get in with it, get down with it, it’s the music that you love, and it’s got all kinds of good feelings in it, and it just lifts you above everything that might possibly be dragging you down into the mundane plains of existence.

Now, I’m not going to get too far into that mundane thing here, but lemme just say that I know, I know, I know you’ve had to save some money and put a couple of bucks together to get down here, cause these tickets aren’t cheap, you know? And you can’t stand to be online with that, uh, Ticketvendor, Ticketserve, whatever it’s called there. That’s nothing for you, so you’ve gotta go down and buy them from the scalper anyway. They cost twice as much, and uh, you know, one thing leads to another, and you’re on your way home from the concert, and going through the door of your chateau, flinging your chapeau onto the bed. You’re sitting down there with your beloved, the object of your affliction, and you head on into the back room and pull out the little box you bought at a renaissance fair in 1967 with the uh, genuine mastodon tusk button on it.

You look in there, and lo and behold, what do you find but the absolute very, very last of the chiba chiba. The last tub of chiba chiba, as far as you know, in the whole wide world. Hallelujah. Lord have mercy. So you roll it up, skin it up, spliff it up, light it up, smoke it up... boom! There you jolly well are, aren’t you?

(plays a few more notes on his guitar)

So you’re heading into the back room, you smoked your thing and it’s all gone now, you’re heading into the back room to your beloved there, and you know that the nominal second act of this fantastic evening is right through that door. Before you head through that door, you think, “Hmm, let’s have a little something to drink to wet the whistle.” To make a long story short, you go over to the liquor cabinet there, and look in, and there’s nothing there but an empty scotch bottle and a half a gallon of some kind of creme de menthe or something like that, and that old pitcher of pink squirrels that nobody ever finished back at Halloween, at that classic Halloween mushroom party that you had.

And so the thing is, you look up there and there’s one bottle left, and it’s this golden, golden, wonderful golden fluid that somehow through the haze of your spinning little brain cells there, you remember what that is, and you can read the label sort of, a little bit, and it says “Made in Mexico”, that’s a good sign. You break it on open, and drink it on down, and it kind of tastes like burning rubber and cat fur. That’s good too. And, you know, it’s all happening, and you’re thinking to yourself, “Well, why can’t every night be like this?” I mean, look at us, We’re having a great time, right? Holy smokes! Why can’t every night be like this?

Well it can’t. And I don’t know why. I can’t do it. You can’t do it. But you’re thinking to yourself, “I’ll tell you what, though. When I’m heading up that Pacific Coast Highway, I’m going to stop off at Vendome Liquor and see if they got any of that stuff.” They still sell this stuff in the state of California, but the thing is, you can’t remember what it’s called. You can’t remember what to call it. What’s the name of the drink in the bottle? What do they call it?

(addressing Borderline Brats)

Ladies, we can’t remember. What’s the name of that drink? What do you call it? What’s the name of that drink? Tell me!

(band launches into song outro, with “The Cuervo Gold...”, and so on)


Monday, August 26, 2013

Serene Acoustic Lounge JDRF Benefit (08.22.13)

I apologize for the out-of-order blog post here. No one notices this but me, and yet I feel compelled to explain that after Thursday night's special JDRF benefit show at Serene Acoustic Lounge, I was unfortunately feeling pretty ill all day on Friday. I got over that to go see Steely Dan with Kat on Saturday night, and then just kind of lolled around yesterday. And now, here we are on Monday, and I'm finally getting to writing my little report, as I do. But, you know, "better late than never" is true in most circumstances.

My friend Barbie Horsley, who is perhaps better known as Sassy Nitely in Second Life, has a child who is about the same age as my own son. A couple of years ago, Barbie went through something that is every parent's nightmare: her son was diagnosed with a serious disease in the form of diabetes type 1. As her friend (and a fellow parent and musician), it was always my hope that I could do something to help in some small way. The good news is that Barbie and her son have courageously and aggressively fought against the disease, and he seems like he'll be just fine. That having been said, he still needs plenty of support, so when Barbie asked if I'd be interested in performing at a benefit she'd put together to raise funds for the juvenile diabetes foundation, I couldn't say yes quickly enough.

Here's a video that Barbie made in 2012 regarding her son and sponsorships for the JDRF:

Having been involved in the SL music scene for years, Barbie knows what helps make an effective benefit show. One thing is to have short sets, so each performer can pull in his or her fans, and then the next person can bring theirs, and so on. Each slot at the JDRF benefit was 30 minutes, which was perfect. Despite the usual round of technical problems that can happen at just about any SL show, everyone had high spirits. I performed in between Quantamis Navarathna and TerryLynn Melody, two other musicians who I know well, and things couldn't have gone better.

Photo by Kat.

Photo by Kat.

Photo by Kat.

The concert ended up being an insane success, with over L$100,000 being raised over the course of the day (roughly $400 USD).

Serene JDRF set list...
I Am A Child (Neil Young)
You're Like a Cloud (Zak Claxton)
Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd)
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
Tempted (Squeeze)
Northern Sky (Nick Drake)
Thanks Anyway (Zak Claxton)

Huge thanks to my friends and fans who came out and helped support this great cause! You're making a difference in a kid's life... feel good about it!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Steely Dan at the Nokia Theatre, Los Angeles (08.24.13)

I'm not sure what twisted hand of fate placed Saturday night's Steely Dan concert at the Nokia Theatre on the same date and time as the Taylor Swift show directly across that street at Staples Center. However, I can tell you that the intermingling of Swift's throng of pre-pubescent girl fans in pseudo ballerina outfits and the Dan's surly, balding/graying/ponytailed crowd around the LA live complex was at least slightly surreal, and had just enough decrepit sleaze to make it a perfect start to the evening.

Is There Gas In The Car?
Let's back up a bit. Kat (my beloved lady) and I have the same birthday, and my dear mother had given us tickets to the Steely Dan show as presents. We were quite happy; while we both gravitate toward newer music, we are music lovers first and foremost, and no one is going to put on a concert of sophisticated jazzy rock like the Dan.

We left our South Bay shangri-la rather early so we could grab dinner downtown before the show. Additionally, Kat had never spent any significant time in the DTLA area. Let's face it; most LA-area residents tend to compartmentalize in the bubbles of our own communities. Kat moved here from her native Seattle in 2008 and a lot of renovation has continued downtown in times since, so it was probably overdue for us to spend an evening there regardless. We didn't want dinner to be a big time/money suck, so we ended up at the Lawry's Carvery on Figueroa. A great place to eat? Not particularly enticing, though it wasn't bad, and it was fast, and having prime rib while doing some people watching in downtown LA on a Saturday evening was better than a sharp stick in the eye.

After our cheap yet serviceable meal, we strolled around the LA Live complex a bit. Other than going to Staples for Lakers and Kings games, I hadn't spent much time in that area myself recently, and it was a nice summer evening. We enjoyed the moment, until we went into the utter mayhem of the Ubiquitous Coffee Retail Chain. After waiting patiently for a small cup of drip coffee for 15 minutes, I enacted my revenge through much passive-aggressive posturing and semi-purposeful mischief around the sugar and cream area.

Neither Kat nor I had been inside the Nokia Theatre before, and we were suitably impressed upon entering. After finding our seats, we headed back up to the concession area for $756 worth of beer (in the form of two semi-warm Heinekens), then settled in for a night of smooth-ass music.

Nothin' But Blues and Elvis
The opening act was the Deep Blue Organ Trio, a traditional jazz act out of Chicago, and they were just perfect. What a way to set the mood for an evening of fantastic musicianship. At about 9:00, the house lights went down and the Bipolar Allstars (the Dan's name for their touring orchestra) took the stage, followed by Donald Fagan and Walter Becker. And they played this:

1. Blueport (Jerry Mulligan cover, played by the band before the Dan sauntered out)
2. Black Cow
3. Aja
4. Deacon Blues
5. Peg
6. Home at Last
7. I Got The News
8. Josie
9. Your Gold Teeth
10. King of the World
11. Hey Nineteen
12. Black Friday (w/Showbiz Kids sax intro)
13. Time Out Of Mind
14. GodWhacker
15. Daddy Don’t Live In That New York City No More
16. Bodhisattva
17. Razor Boy
18. I Want To Do Everything for You (Joe Tex cover)
19. My Old School
20. Reeling In The Years

1. Kid Charlemagne
2. The Untouchables theme (played by the band as Donald and Walter fled to their respective buses)

And Every Word We Sang I Knew Was True
I'm not going to "review" anything here, especially the songs. Consider everything performed with the highest level of musicianship, along with the best live sound quality of which you can conceive. There. But, I do want to talk about some of the musicians. Cause, damn.

Keith Carlock: I've seen a lot of really great drummers play live. Keith is up there with any of them. I was perhaps most impressed at how he flowed so seamlessly between the many feels of the army of Dan drummers that originated the material. Hats off.

Jim Beard: He handles the brunt of the keyboard/piano duties for the show and had some stunning moments, particularly in the intro to the rearranged "Razor Boy". Like most of the band, Jim is hugely respected in the musician community, and deservedly so.

Jon Herington: Jon's been the main guitar guy for the Dan for about 15 years, and serves as the musical director for this tour. I loved how he perfectly blended elements of the original guitar work with new and frankly jaw-dropping solo sections.

Did You Realize That You Were A Champion In Their Eyes?
A few other things rattling around my head on this, the Day after Dan. Note: videos found on YouTube. Damn those video pirates! Damn them, I say!

1. Becker's Ramble: In the midst of "Hey Nineteen", the band settled down into a controlled vamp while Walter had a few things to mention to the audience. There's something about the slight edge of sardonic cynicism in Becker's voice that would have me grinning had he read random Wikipedia entries aloud, but his roundabout tale of mastodon tusks, chiba chiba, and unwanted crème de menthe is better experienced than described.

2. Aja In Its Entirety: Well, what can I say? It's been one of my favorite albums since my hipster parents played it often during my 1970s childhood. It was truly thrilling to see Walter and Donald and an absolutely stunning band bring it to life.

3. My Fine Whine: What can one do after a perfect evening of music than find a reason to complain? My inner douchebag says that while doing four songs from "Countdown to Ecstasy" was all good and well, I would have gladly accepted some "Any Major Dude Will Tell You", "Doctor Wu", or "Any World (That I'm Welcome To)" instead. Just saying.

4. Go See The Bands You Can See: You know and I know (and everyone else knows) that there are bands and musical artists you always wanted to see, but haven't. They weren't playing close enough to you. The tickets were too expensive. You had no one to go with. You had to do something important and responsible on that day at that time. Well, lemme tell you: those musicians are going to retire and die and stuff. Catching them on YouTube isn't the same. Go see those bands. You know who they are.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Molaskey's Pub (08.15.13)

Here's a statement that will have any guitarist reading this blog nodding his or her head vigorously: when you can't get a good tone on a guitar, your guitar-playing skill will diminish in a direct ratio to how bad the tone is. Last night, I had two strikes against me as a guitarist. First, something in my audio system (mixer? mic? cable? who knows) was causing my guitar to not have the level of sensitivity it usually offers. Strike two was that the strings on my usually awesome Martin D-18V are dead (I've just been lazy about changing them, because, well, changing strings sucks ass).

So, those are the justifications as to why I was playing guitar like a 12-year-old, as opposed to a guy who's been strumming away for 37 years. Still, I don't think a single person who came to my show last night at Molaskey's Pub in Second Life didn't have a good time. And, being honest here, even a bad day for me on guitar doesn't exactly suck. It just wasn't as good as my own high standards would have preferred.

I was playing so poorly that Kat later said my rendition of a Foo Fighters' song should have been titled "Everwrong". Photo and top photo by Kat.

And yet, I was having a great time, and the crowd was too. Photo by Kat.

Molaskey's is a good place to have a great time in Second Life, even when guitars are behaving badly. Photo by Kat.

More important, as I mentioned above, is that it was a good show in that the song choices worked well, my singing was up to par, and the audience had a good time (which is all I actually care about in any case). I kind of started out pretty mellow, but once I got my performance blood flowing, I started putting a lot of energy into the songs, to the point that I was a sweaty mess at the end, and was just about ready to collapse. The better shows I do usually end that way.

Did I died? Only momentarily. I'll tell you, though, good shows take a lot of energy. It's a workout. Photo by Triana.

Molaskey's set list...
Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (Neil Young)
On The Way Home (Buffalo Springfield)
California (Joni Mitchell)
Fade Away (Zak Claxton)
Fire & Rain (James Taylor)
Nowhere Man (Beatles)
It's Good to be King (Tom Petty)
Falling Down (Zak Claxton)
1979 (Smashin Pumpkins)
Everlong (Foo Fighters)
Behind Blue Eyes (The Who)
A Million Miles Away (The Plimsouls)

Massive thanks to everyone who supported the show and rocked with me!
Triana Caldera, Lyric Serendipity, shahayla Tearfall, Stihly Augenblick, Cicadetta Stillwater, Aurelie Chenaux, Richy Nervous, Kat Claxton, DirtyDee Sweetwater, Thinkerer Melville, my manager Maali Beck, and Molaskey's GM Mia Kitchensink!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Relay for Life Wrap-Up Event (08.10.13)

This show, the wrap-up event for the 2013 season of Relay for Life in Second Life, was unexpectedly cool. I have to admit, after doing a pretty heavy schedule of charitable event performances this year already, I wasn't exactly jumping at the opportunity to do yet one more. But I rarely turn down shows for RFL, and I'm very glad I chose to do this one. First, it was cool seeing all the folks who were involved in the many fundraising teams together at the same place and time. I've done shows for many of their respective teams over the years. Also, hearing them talk before my show about the record breaking year they had in donations was encouraging and inspiring for future years (and yes, they were already talking about the plans and themes for the 2014 RFL season).

Nothing wrong with curing cancer while rocking a big SL crowd. I'd do it every Saturday if I could. Photo and top photo by Kat.

People seemed to be enjoying themselves. Photo by Kat.

The build for the event was pretty cool in and of itself. Photo by Kat.

In addition to all those noble reasons for being involved, I selfishly have to admit that starting my show to over 100 avatars gathered on a multi-sim build didn't suck at all. I kept the show itself pretty basic, doing a few of my own more well-known tunes, and with the knowledge that it was being simulcast on T1 Radio, I also stuck toward the more classic rock end of my musical spectrum.

RFL 2013 Wrap Up set list...
Big Yellow Taxi (Joni Mitchell)
You're Like a Cloud (Zak Claxton)
Ziggy Stardust (David Bowie)
Northern Sky (Nick Drake)
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
Call Me Al (Paul Simon)
Is She Really Going Out With Him (Joe Jackson)
After The Goldrush (Neil Young)
Accidents Will Happen (Elvis Costello)
Always Tomorrow (Zak Claxton)
Free man in Paris (Joni Mitchell)
A Day in the Life (Beatles)

Thanks to everyone who hung out for the show at the 2013 RFL wrap-up, and bigger thanks to everyone who puts in their effort to help make RFL in SL so successful year in and year out!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Serene Acoustic Lounge (07.30.13)

I don't know how many live music performances I've done in Second Life since I started back in 2006. Obviously, it's in the hundreds and hundreds. I do have a list that I could count, if it mattered to me (which it really doesn't). But I can say that there is one common element that distinguishes the very finest shows from the merely good ones. And no, it's not the music, and it's not the venue where I performed. What's left, then?

It's the people. As I look back through the years and those hundreds of shows, the one thing that makes certain performances be more memorable for their greatness is the random (and not-so-random) group of folks who gather for my shows, regardless of where they're held. For Tuesday's show at Serene Acoustic Lounge, I knew it was going to be incredible long before I started tuning my guitar that day. First and foremost, it's because Serene is run by my friend and fellow musician Sassy Nitely (aka Barbie Horsley). She doesn't use her venue all the time, and when she does, it's more of a showcase situation where she chooses from her personal favorite SL artists. As per her usual plan at Serene, Sassy did her show first on Tuesday night, and then was followed by me, and then by Jukebox Diesel. Here's an interesting coincidence (or is it?): I have performed either directly before or after Juke at each of my last four SL shows. He, by the way, is a great performer from the west of Scotland. Great repertoire, great playing, great voice. It's a pleasure to rock the same stages as him.

One thing I really like about Serene are the personal touches Sassy has added. I'm proud that my signature is there on that wall. Photo and top photo by Aurelie Chenaux.

Serene is a great venue in that it's the perfect size and feel for intimate acoustic-style performances. The most common mistake that venue builders tend to make is that their places are way too big. Serene just feels like a great place to play some music and have fun with friends. Photo by Aurelie.

Alright, why haven't my Zakster ladies come up with any cute signs they hold up behind me when I perform? Here's Juke with a bevy of beauties.

I mentioned above that my show at Serene was scheduled for Tuesday evening, so my theme that night was "Two for Tuesday"... an old staple of FM rock radio where two songs are played in a row by the same artist/band. I think my set of "twofers" worked out well.

Serene Acoustic Lounge set list...
You Don't Know How It Feels (Tom Petty)
It's Good to be King (Tom Petty)
Golden Years (David Bowie)
Space Oddity (David Bowie)
Across the Universe (Beatles)
Strawberry Fields Forever (Beatles)
Court & Spark (Joni Mitchell)
Coyote (Joni Mitchell)
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
Falling Down (Zak Claxton)
Comes a Time (Neil Young)
My Heart (Neil Young)

Big thanks to everyone who made this show at Serene Acoustic Lounge such great fun, especially everyone who supported my show!
Charyssi, Rusty Seisenbacher, Sandi Benelli, NeCole Chiantelle, Gideon McMillan, Christine Haiku, Sesh Kamachi, Aurelie Chenaux, BAT8997, Aaisy, TheaDee, my manager Maali Beck, my friend Jukebox Diesel, and most of all the lovely and talented Sassy Nitely!