Wednesday, February 22, 2006

My Olympic moment...

Since my return to the blogosphere I've done a terrible job of posting and keeping up on things, despite the fact that I have a lot to say. I just can't find the time to just sit down and concentrate and really put my thoughts into words.'s olympic time. Not that anyone cares. Ratings are down (while the X-Games ratings are up. Hmmm.) and I just haven't gotten into them. Well, with one exception.


The sport we all make fun of has become my latest obsession. I love it. And I still don't understand all of it. There are some crazy rules I still haven't caught on to, but I sure am addicted. Makes me want to move to Canada. Or Bemidji, Minnesota. Might just have to subscribe to the CBC so I can get it year round.

If you're not familiar with curling, it's kind of like a combination of shuffleboard, bocci ball, and housecleaning, played on ice with chess-like strategies. A real thinking sport. And the beauty of it is, anyone can play. Even I could play. You don't have to be buff, ripped, rail-thin, tall, short, or anything. You could even be a gray-haired, slightly overweight, non-athletic man approaching his 44th birthday. And I think I might still have four years of college eligibility left.

I feel like a new man!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

U2 Dismantles the Grammys

I'm a naysayer. I generally dismiss awards shows as politicized popularity contests. Kind of like electing a third grade class president. Only the most popular kid wins. Regardless of talent, poliltical platform ("I promise to try to get candy in the cafeteria!"), or any sort of substance.

Last night's Grammy Awards proved me wrong. Kinda. I'm not ready to give up on my cynicism yet. U2 walked off (or should i say "walked on") with five Grammys: Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Rock Album, Rock Song, and one of those awards they seem to create in order to just give out more awards: Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal (I think). More on that in a minute. But to see a band of substance (full disclosure: Yes, they are my favorite band. No, I'm not obsessed), a band with talent, a band that not only transcends musical labels but transcends the entire music scene itself (there are very few entertainers I can take seriously when they start talking politics) win on music's self-title "most important night" gives me some faith.

Not only were they the big winners, but they beat out top nominees Mariah Carey (substance?) and Kanye West (What Would Kanye Do?). All in all a good night, and wasn't it interesting to see Sly Stone again, even if he was trying to do his best George Clinton impersonation?

I promise to try to blog here more often. That is my intent, but the days fly by and work is busy, family life is busy, and there is just a heck of a lot going on. But just to tease you, my intent is to start a series called "What's wrong with the church?" Could be a long series....

Friday, January 13, 2006

And the winner is....

Just found out about something called the Plug Independent Music Awards and I thought they were worth mentioning here, especially because some of my favorite artists are nominated and I figure I can get a few of you to go vote for them! From what I gather, Plug is an informal group of independent music lovers from all walks of life who want to do their part to promote music. They have a very impressive advisory board that includes my old friends Nic Harcourt, host of Morning Becomes Eclectic on KCRW in Santa Monica and Brian Turner of WFMU in NY/NJ.

Anyway, if you go over there and check it out, make sure to vote for some of my favorites. First off, Sufjan Stevens is nominated quite a few times for his latest album, Come On, Feel the Illinoise (Album of the Year, Artist of the Year, Song of the Year, Male Artist of the Year, Indie Rock Album of the Year, Album Art/Packaging of the Year). The album is one of my favorites, and I saw him in concert with some friends at the Chameleon Club. What an amazing show! I'm kind of disappointed that he wasn't nominated in the Live Act of the Year category. One of the best shows I've ever seen.

Other nominees to check out include:

Laura Cantrell - Female Artist of the Year. Laura is an old friend from NYC radio. She has hosted the Radio Thrift Shop on WFMU for years and has put out several beautiful albums. Musically it is a sophisticated country/bluegrass sound reminiscent of Patsy Kline. I love Laura and she deserves every award she gets. A wonderful person with a wonderful voice.

Richard Swift - New Artist of the Year. Dicky isn't really new, but he is just starting to get more exposure thru labels. He is a friend of a friend and I was able to get a hold of his first album, Walking Without Effort probably a year before it came out. It is one of my all-time favorite albums, and I still think it is his best disc, though his newer stuff is also very good.

Paste Magazine - Magazine of the Year. This is an amazing music and culture magazine that a few of my friends started a few years back. I was fortunate enough to write for them early on. Nick Purdy, Josh Jackson and the guys have done a great job with this magazine and their other related businesses over the past few years. They deserve all the awards and kudos they can get.

KEXP - College/Non-Comm Radio Station of the Year and Internet Station of the Year. This is probably my favorite radio station. A former college station it is now owned and operated by Paul Allen's Experience Music Project up in Seattle. Check them out on line and pay special attention to their morning show with my friend John Richards. The best and most entertaining mix of indie music you'll find anywhere. And if you make a request online, tell John that I sent you.

WFUV - College/Non-Comm Radio Station of the Year. This station is owned and operated by Fordham University and I have quite a few friends who work there. Their format is what they call "City Folk" and is the best of adult alternative/alt-country/folk that you'll find on the air. Give them a listen. Great stuff.

WFMU - College/Non-Comm Radio Station of the Year and Internet Station of the Year. The definitive free-form station. This station is unique in that it is a college station that outlasted the college. When Upsala College went under quite a few years back the station stayed alive and within the music industry is one of the most respected and listened to stations. You never know what you will hear. Look up "eclectic" in the dictionary and you'll find WFMU. All others are merely posers.

KCRW - College/Non-Comm Radio Station of the Year and Internet Station of the Year. The professionally run radio station at Santa Monica Community College is at the forefront of public radio programming. Not just in music, but in public affairs, comedy, and even radio drama. Home of Nic Harcourt and Morning Becomes Eclectic among other great shows.

World Cafe with David Dye, WXPN-FM, Philadelphia - I grew up listening to David Dye on the amazing WIOQ in Philly and he is still going strong. The World Cafe is the grandaddy of adult alternative programs and has been on the air for years. A wonderful program on a wonderful station.

So those are the Plug Awards. Check 'em out, cast your vote, and support indie music!