lots of big musical news, and links galore

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I can NOT believe how busy life has been for these last two weeks.  I had two huge shows, both of which required tons of preparation and rehearsal with the various groups.  The first one was on St. Patrick’s Day with IrishBand. . .

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. . .which was a total blast.  We played for four hours that night, with a couple one-hour breaks while another band played in between our sets.  We kept people there, singing and dancing and rockin’ out until 2:00 a.m.   Since then, we had a smaller (but just as fun) show and started doing more recording at my place.  We finished the drum tracks for one song, and started them on a second.

The next huge show after St. P’s Day was the CD release party for Susie Blue, which took place at the new-and-improved Mississippi Studios.  That was already one of my favorite places to play, but now it’s been revamped and enlarged, turning it into quite possibly the best of the medium-sized venues in Portland.


Without getting too far into geek-out territory, after the second song, I looked down to find that the lights on my big keyboard were off.  I had accidentally set the accordion on the power strip switch and turned it off, which meant that I lost all of the good sounds I had loaded into it specifically for that show.  I had a nice little freak-out moment onstage, and told Susie, “I lost power.”  “How long will it take to re-load everything?” she asked.  “It’d take way too long.  I’ll figure something out.”  Luckily I had my tiny Casio (which you can see on top of the big keyboard) there for one song, because I ended up using it on lots of songs.  It totally saved the day, and the show went off without another hitch.  For an eleven-piece band (most of whom were not onstage during the song that was being performed when this picture was taken), that’s quite a feat indeed.

Incidentally, here’s a song from Susie’s new CD called “Fading” on which I play accordion and drums, and also was part of the hand-clapping and cheering.  I play accordion on a bunch of the other songs, as well as piano and Omnichord.  If you’re interested, you can check out our web site, and listen to or buy some songs from CDBaby.

Three days ago, my life got overtaken by a project that a bass player friend of mine called me to fill in for.  There’s a dance group in town called Bodyvox, who created dance interpretations to a bunch of Tom Waits’ songs, with a live band and a handful of opera singers.  The guy who’s playing accordion and electric guitar (as well as saxopohone and slide guitar) can’t make it to the show on Saturday, so my bassist friend, who is the musical director for the show, called me in a panic on Tuesday.  Since then, my life has been thrown into a frenzy of learning songs, as well as attending rehearsals and performances as an understudy of sorts.  The show I’m playing is the matinee show on Saturday afternoon, and I’m feeling confident about it.   I’m listening to the CD as I’m writing this, as a matter of fact.  I’m on the song Hoist That Rag, which features one of my favorite guitarists, Marc Ribot.

Add to that the recording sessions I’ve had at my place recently, both for money and for IrishBand, and you get a very busy Todd.  SO busy, in fact, that this is the first time I’ve had to write anything at all, aside from the occasional link to a video or something.  I almost added a clip from “Girl on the Bridge” an amazing French movie which I watched last night.  It just came out on DVD, which is strange because it’s only about ten years old, and I can’t imagine why its DVD release was held up for such a long time.   Well, what the heck, here’s a link to what is probably the most famous scene.  I love this movie, because it never quite goes in the directions you think it’s going to go.  Very similar to Angel-A.

The song (sung by Marianne Faithfull) is also amazing.  If you’ve ever seen “City of Lost Children”, you may recognize it from the ending credits; that’s the movie for which it was originally written, but it’s since appeared in many others as well.

Well, that’s what’s been going on with me lately.  I know it’s a lot to handle in one blog entry, from songs to pictures to movie links and clips and everything else, but. . .well. . .welcome to my world these days.  I had a lot to share, and it may be another few days before I have another chance to write again, so there’s that.

Hope all in your world is well!

best of 2008, BFST style

beautiful, blogging, cello, funny, love, music, pictures, Portland, recording, sad, true, Yakima No Comments »

It’s been quite a year, I have to say.  Going through and choosing entries was particularly difficult this time around.  I always enjoy looking backwards.  So much has happened this year that it had become a bit of a blur, quite frankly, and it was fun to revisit some of those experiences.  Others, however, weren’t nearly as much fun.  I could have made this entry about twice as long as it is.  There will be another separate entry for the ‘best pictures of 2008’ coming soon.

accordions, Decemberists, and EmeraldCity – This involves a night when I made a noticeable transition from fan to equal participant.

shock – This was one of the worst days of my entire life.

good news and truth – This was the end of said time.

Yakima trip, part one – This was quite possibly the worst Yakima trip ever, in which I lost a friend.

Tinkle – Tinkle is the name of a fictitious product; this entry describes a hilarious parody my friends and I made of sports drink commercials from the early 90’s.

on tour, day 3 – This was one of the best and most memorable days of my entire life.

my dinner with Andre – We read the screenplay in the play-reading group, and there are also some ruminations about why this movie meant so much to me.

‘six-six-five and one fucking half’ – This is a rock ‘n’ roll story from way back in the day.

errrr. . .hi, mom – I have to be honest; I really like this particular entry.

O, the hilarity ensues – ‘Good luck driving around with my dead, pregnant wife!’

please ban more books – The school district in the town in which I grew up turns out to be responsible for upholding a ban on a very famous book.  Glad I left that town.

litany – This was a hilarious repartee my friend and I shared.

Thank you for reading, and thank you for your support throughout this last year.  In case this somehow wasn’t enough for you, here’s the entry for the best entries of 2007.

Have a great new year!


an ellipsis

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Boy, has this week gotten away from me.  Sorry it’s been such a long time between posts, but this week turned out to be as busy as last week was, but I left off at the Ray LaMontagne show.  The next night, Thursday, I took the train downtown to see a poet who shall remain nameless, because while my two friends and I were very interested in him as a person, we found his poetry to be distant and unapproachable.  In fact, my two companions fell asleep for a while during one of his longer stories.  From there, Tossed In gave me a ride to my next engagement, which was Allanah’s birthday party.  Total blast, but I heard later from Mike that it ended in vomitous tragedy.

Friday night was a slightly odd IrishBand show, which took place at a firemens’ local union hall thingy.  Something like that.  A couple of the members play a sport called hurling, and their team of guys was getting together at the end of the season to have a party and give themselves prizes and awards.  One of the guys is a musician, and is a friend of our band, so he told the guys that since it’s an Irish sport, they should invite an Irish band to play.  So they did, and we did.  My favorite part was watching how Mike would change (or mumble) the more adult lyrics to some of the songs, since there were children present.  In fact, a few of the kids came right up and sat on the steps at the edge of the stage.  A girl who looked like she was about eleven sat right in front of me and watched the cello like a hawk.  (Hawkette?  Hawkess?)  She even made cello motions with her arm at one point.  After we were done with our set, I said,  “Do you play too?  You must.”  She said that she used to, and she’d played for about a year, bu then her cello got broken when it fell over or something, and it was never replaced.  I invited her to play mine, and she accepted.  She sat down and started making sound with the thing right away.  It was very fun to watch.

I actually had the weekend completely free, so I spent the majority of it sleeping, doing laundry, and watching episodes of Six Feet Under.  I hadn’t ever seen it until J loaned me the DVD’s, and now I’m completely hooked on the show.  In fact, we watched a couple of episodes together on Saturday night.  After she left, I watched two more, and then two more the next afternoon.

Monday was supposed to be a recording session with Breanna, but she had to re-schedule because she and Justin weren’t feeling well.  I offered the time slot to IrishBand’s singer instead, because we have a few high-profile gigs coming up, and we’re trying to get some music and promotional material posted on SpaceBelongingToMe by then.  We had dinner first, of pasta with alfredo sauce and smoked salmon, and then Mike recorded a new acoustic guitar track.  I then showed him how to run the recording software, and he manned the computer while I recorded a cello track, an accordion track, and a glockenspiel track.  We still need to add vocals, violin and percussion, but it sounds really great so far.

Last night was the Breeders show here in town, which JBJ and I went to for free, thanks to the tickets provided by the radio station that airs his music show.  We arrived during the second band, and were lucky enough to find a seat in the balcony.  There are only two rows of seats in the entire place, so we were very fortunate.  We weren’t impressed with the band that was playing when we arrived, which is to say that we talked with each other rather than listening to them.  They were called PaperCut or something, or maybe they were the PenguinSomethings band whose name I never knew.  I dunno.  Then the Breeders came out, and they sounded good, but I’m not gonna lie; we found our attention waning during their set as well.  We did get to hear them play “Cannonball”, though, which was really cool, then we decided to leave after listening to a couple more songs.

Tonight I’m home for a bit before meeting RockShowGirl, whose name may sound like one of those clever pseudonymic blogisms that I love so much, but it’s actually a variation on her name from SocialNetworkingSite, so it seemed apropos.  Anyway, she just went through a very strange and sudden break-up last weekend, which she’s still reeling from, so I want to go talk to her and cheer her up.  It seems like a movie might be in order.

Tomorrow’s a Breanna and Justin gig, and then Saturday is an IrishBand gig, so there’s still plenty on my schedule.  Next week may very well be even busier, because CincinnatiFriend is coming for a visit, and then Mom and Stepdad will be staying here the following weekend.


Sorry for these many days of absence, and thank you again for reading all of this.  Now it’s time to eat something and figure out what RockShowGirl and I are doing tonight.

Halloween, et cetera

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My Halloween was fun, but not exactly in the way I expected it would be.  My Plan was that I would dress up as a grown-up Harry Potter, with a lightning-shaped forehead scar and a wand, but just dress the way I normally do, with no wig or anything.  I thought that would’ve been very clever and hilarious, but I wasn’t able to find a makeup kit for the scar here locally, so that was the end of that.

At work, there were a whole bunch of people who dressed up, some of whom were very clever.  One of my friends dressed up as the dead girl from the movie The Ring.  I wanted to take a little video of her, and she asked if I wanted her to walk in a creepy way, and I said, “No way, it’s much creepier if you just walk normally.”

One guy covered himself in wrapping paper with a sign on his chest that said, “To: Women   From:  GOD”.  Get it?  God’s Gift to Women?  It was pretty hilarious, actually.  I didn’t get a picture of him wearing the suit, but I was lucky enough to get an even better picture, because before he left work, he took the suit off and left it propped up on his friend’s chair.  It looked like a golem sitting there, ready at any moment to come to life and start wandering around the office.

My supervisor was dressed in a purple-with-leopard-skin suit and hat, and was a very convincing pimp, which sparked my friend and I into a whole conversation about the fact that it’s interesting how bad people have become idealized in our society, and are now seen as positive role models, and we further extrapolated that at some point in the future (perhaps hundreds of years, but it WILL happen), children will glue little mustaches under their noses, with swastika bands around their arms, and goose-step through their neighborhoods dressed as little Hitlers.

I dunno. . .in my experience, Halloween is the time of year when women dress up either as cats or prostitutes (or the ‘sexy’ version of anything) and men dress up as women.

My brother, when he was in college, used to volunteer at a local cathedral to provide an ‘alternative’ Halloween celebration, in which kids of all ages could come and celebrate in a place without partying or drugs, but still have a good time.  One kid apparently showed up wearing a skeleton mask and a nice suit, and when everyone asked what he was, he replied awkwardly, “Uhhh. . .Skeletal Pimp?”

Everyone laughed, and told him, “Dude. . .you’re in a church. . .you can’t wear that crap to a church.  Besides, do you even know what a pimp is?”


“Okay, what is it?”

“Uhh. . .it’s. . .uhh. . .I don’t know.”

They told him.  “So it’s not the most acceptable thing to wear to a church, and not the most positive thing you could be wearing.”

I always find it interesting and telling to see the ways in which people choose to dress themselves up.  It seems like a ‘no duh’ when a gay guy dresses up as a woman, but here’s an interesting twist on that theme that also comes from my workplace.  It’s a gay girl who dressed up as an androgynous superhero, which I thought was completely brilliant.  I love the sign on her cape and cummerbun.

Here’s another example of a costume that I think is absolutely brilliant.  It’s Allanah, dressed as a Duracell battery.  Pure genius.

And me?  I spent the evening making dinner and walking my neighborhood with J.  We made Smoked Salmon Alfredo and beet salad, and then walked the streets of Irvington, watching the kids in their costumes.  We also inadvertently proved to be volunteer firefighters, when we noticed a strange smell on the next block over.  We came around the corner and saw a pumpkin on fire, belching flames and acrid black smoke into the neighborhood.  Without hesitating, we went up the steps and each ran to various doors of the duplex.  J rang the doorbell to no avail, so she ran in the door and up the stairs, yelling, “Your pumpkin’s on fire!”  The slightly stoned-looking frat guy came down the stairs, saying, “Oh, really?”  He walked outside and tried to blow out the flaming pumpkin, which only fanned the flames and made it worse.  He then went beside the house and grabbed a yellow plastic recycling tub and pushed the pumpkin into that, flames and all.  I’m going to walk over there tomorrow during the day to see if any permanent damage was done to the building.

I went to bed at 10:15 and slept until 12:45 this afternoon, when I went downstairs and spent the next couple of hours reorganizing my stuff in the basement.  It’s quite an improvement over the picture I took the other day, when the furnace removers piled all of our stuff into a big pile.

Tonight, Tossed In and I are going to see a play, ActionAdventure’s Fall of the House.

Good times are definitely in store.

busy birthday boy

blogging, funny, music, Portland, Washington 1 Comment »

Today is my birthday.

I’ve been so busy these last two weeks that I’m very far behind on blogging.  You’ll be glad to know that I have a ton to write about, but you may have to make do with a quick little entry like this, or a YouTube video, or something like that before I can start to deal with the backlog.  Tonight is the final play-reading group, tomorrow is a small (but fun) gig with IrishBand, and Friday night is a huge talent show/contest involving IrishBand and a bunch of the funniest and coolest acts in town.  We like our chances for winning, but the competition is so funny and unusual and entertaining that it doesn’t even matter, really.

And I still haven’t even written about the trip to Port Townsend yet.   There are lots of pictures and videos to come in that story.

And there was the contest that IrishBand was in LAST weekend, which we shouldn’t have even entered to begin with, but that’s another story; hopefully a funny one at that.

I’ll be back soon. . .