Thursday, September 20, 2007 ... 8:04 PM

Summer vacation, part 2

In June we saw Tim Easton and Carrie Rodriguez at the Evening Muse. Tim's set was short, but he sounded excellent, and I got my annual fix of "Lexington Jail." The crowd was large this time, mainly comprising middle-aged men (contrast with last year's Easton set, when he was not billed with a doe-eyed twentysomething alt-country chick). I spoke to Tim after his set, and said something characteristically dumb, and then he totally blew me off. Which I'd feel badly about had I not watched him blow off some other folks who'd invited him to dinner before the show. My review of Tim's 2005 show still applies: only the year, and the climate, have changed.

We stuck around for Carrie Rodriguez, who is (I'm sorry commenter Chuck) not fairly but thoroughly bland. Her songwriting lacks any mystery or emotional verisimilitude, alternating cutesy-seductive Dixie Chixie ballads with sassy fiddle tunes (also pretty Chixie, now that I think about it) to which Rodriguez just doesn't bring enough authority. Or melody. Her band consisted of an icy Strat picker in the Doug Pettibone vein and a curiously anchorless upright bassist. Between the few fiddle tunes, Carrie herself strummed electric mandolin and slack-key tenor guitar. Mainly the ensemble wanted a center of gravity, something thick and low-mid-rangy -- such as, say, Tim Easton's rhythm guitar. When he joined them on stage for an encore, the troupe were finally able to pick up some momentum.

I guess I should point out that, according to crowd's response and reviews of Rodriguez all around the Web, I'm totally missing something.

* * *

Over Labor Day weekend Betsy and I drove to Atlanta, partly because it's our only convenient vacation spot, but partly to visit the Decatur Book Festival. Last year we stopped by the rained-out first annual event but didn't see anyone interesting. This year we were excited to catch a free Billy Childish poetry reading and rock show at Eddie's Attic, but were told at the top of the stairs that Billy had, last minute-like, canceled all his American dates. Some sensitive-looking troubadour was sound-checking on the stage, but we were thirstin for gasoline, and didn't stick around for his electro-acoustic strummy troubadourisms.

We did make part of a standing-room-only reading by Sherman Alexie. There's yer emotional verisimilitude. He read a startling poem about not writing a biography of Richard Pryor that mostly wiped away the sour impression I've had of Alexie ever since I read his strangely imperceptive pan of Ian Frazier's book On the Rez. Later Betsy and I sat in a theatre packed with worshipful Media Studies undergrads to watch an interview with charismatic cultural critic Chuck Klosterman, who with caffeinated pop-excursuses and many gesticulations explained how Lou Reed's worst recordings prove his genius.

We'd slept late and missed Roy Blount, Jr., on Saturday, but we did split a perfect Jamaican pineapple jerk tofu burrito at the best burrito joint in Atlanta. Jesus Christ, maybe I oughtta have a food blog.



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Making Notes: Music of the Carolinas
(Novello Festival Press, April 2008)
includes my essay, "Link Wray"


Flop Eared Mule
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Mungo (This was the blog of my friend, the late Cami Park. Miss you, Cami.)
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