Sunday, May 04, 2008



Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Ya know how I know you're gay?

You listen to Coldplay

Call me what you will, I'm down with Coldplay -- hell, I'm flat out excited for the new album coming out in June. This morning the band (taking a cue from Radiohead and NIN?) started giving away their first single. For one week you too can download "Violet Hill" from at no cost. I did before work this morning. In short I like it -- I might go so far as to say I like it a lot. BUT -- I do have a couple criticisms. For starters the first 40 seconds is this artsy mood music thing. I hate that and always have hated that, regardless of who the band is. Start with something catchy. I don't dislike long intros, but make them move. I was about three seconds away from fast forwarding to the middle of the song to make sure the download worked.

My other issue is the stale nature of the writing. It sounds just like everything else we've heard so far (but a little less brilliant as was the problem with a lot of "X&Y.") The risk is always alienating your fans and d-bags like me complaining that they messed with a good thing but if you can't release "Rush of Blood..." every couple years and call it new then you better do something to wow me. The early word on the new record (called Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends) is that there's a little Latin feel to it -- really? A Latin feeling album with a Latin feeling title -- no shit!

Anyway -- go download the free single and leave a comment or two below!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Oh Danny Boy...

Would that I could write so eliquently...this from my Jersey brother, Mr. Springsteen


Let me start with the stories.

Back in the days of miracles, the frontier days when “Mad Dog” Lopez and his temper struck fear into the band, small club owners, innocent civilians and all women, children and small animals.

Back in the days when you could still sign your life away on the hood of a parked car in New York City.

Back shortly after a young red-headed accordionist struck gold on the “Ted Mack Amateur Hour” and he and his mama were sent to Switzerland to show them how it’s really done.

Back before beach bums were featured on the cover of Time magazine.

I’m talking about back when the E Street Band was a communist organization! My pal, quiet, shy Dan Federici, was a one-man creator of some of the hairiest circumstances of our 40 year career… And that wasn’t easy to do. He had “Mad Dog” Lopez to compete with…. Danny just outlasted him.

Maybe it was the “police riot” in Middletown, New Jersey. A show we were doing to raise bail money for “Mad Log” Lopez who was in jail in Richmond, Virginia, for having an altercation with police officers who we’d aggravated by playing too long. Danny allegedly knocked over our huge Marshall stacks on some of Middletown’s finest who had rushed the stage because we broke the law by…playing too long.

As I stood there watching, several police oficers crawled out from underneath the speaker cabinets and rushed away to seek medical attention. Another nice young officer stood in front of me onstage waving his nightstick, poking and calling me nasty names. I looked over to see Danny with a beefy police officer pulling on one arm while Flo Federici, his first wife, pulled on the other, assisting her man in resisting arrest.

A kid leapt from the audience onto the stage, momentarily distracting the beefy officer with the insults of the day. Forever thereafter, “Phantom” Dan Federici slipped into the crowd and disappeared.

A warrant out for his arrest and one month on the lam later, he still hadn’t been brought to justice. We hid him in various places but now we had a problem. We had a show coming at Monmouth College. We needed the money and we had to do the gig. We tried a replacement but it didn’t work out. So Danny, to all of our admiration, stepped up and said he’d risk his freedom, take the chance and play.

Show night. 2,000 screaming fans in the Monmouth College gym. We had it worked out so Danny would not appear onstage until the moment we started playing. We figured the police who were there to arrest him wouldn’t do so onstage during the show and risk starting another riot.

Let me set the scene for you. Danny is hiding, hunkered down in the backseat of a car in the parking lot. At five minutes to eight, our scheduled start time, I go out to whisk him in. I tap on the window.

“Danny, come on, it’s time.”

I hear back, “I’m not going.”

Me: “What do you mean you’re not going?”

Danny: “The cops are on the roof of the gym. I’ve seen them and they’re going to nail me the minute I step out of this car.”

As I open the door, I realize that Danny has been smoking a little something and had grown rather paranoid. I said, “Dan, there are no cops on the roof.”

He says, “Yes, I saw them, I tell you. I’m not coming in.”

So I used a procedure I’d call on often over the next forty years in dealing with my old pal’s concerns. I threatened him…and cajoled. Finally, out he came. Across the parking lot and into the gym we swept for a rapturous concert during which we laughted like thieves at our excellent dodge of the local cops.

At the end of the evening, during the last song, I pulled the entire crowd up onto the stage and Danny slipped into the audience and out the front door. Once again, “Phantom” Dan had made his exit. (I still get the occasional card from the old Chief of Police of Middletown wishing us well. Our histories are forever intertwined.) And that, my friends, was only the beginning.

There was the time Danny quit the band during a rough period at Max’s Kansas City, explaining to me that he was leaving to fix televisions. I asked him to think about that and come back later.

Or Danny, in the band rental car, bouncing off several parked cars after a night of entertainment, smashing out the windshield with his head but saved from severe injury by the huge hard cowboy hat he bought in Texas on our last Western swing.

Or Danny, leaving a large marijuana plant on the front seat of his car in a tow away zone. The car was promptly towed. He said, “Bruce, I’m going to go down and report that it was stolen.” I said, “I’m not sure that’s a good idea.”

Down he went and straight into the slammer without passing go.

Or Danny, the only member of the E Street Band to be physically thrown out of the Stone Pony. Considering all the money we made them, that wasn’t easy to do.

Or Danny receiving and surviving a “cautionary assault” from an enraged but restrained “Big Man” Clarence Clemons while they were living together and Danny finally drove the “Big Man” over the big top.

Or Danny assisting me in removing my foot from his stereo speaker after being the only band member ever to drive me into a violent rage.

And through it all, Danny played his beautiful, soulful B3 organ for me and our love grew. And continued to grow. Life is funny like that. He was my homeboy, and great, and for that you make considerations… And he was much more tolerant of my failures than I was of his.

When Danny wasn’t causing chaos, he was a sweet, talented, unassuming, unpretentious good-hearted guy who simply had an unchecked ability to make good fortune and things in general go fabulously wrong.

But beyond all of that, he also had a mountain of the right stuff. He had the heart and soul of an engineer. He learned to fly. He was always up on the latest technology and would explain it to you patiently and in enormous detail. He was always “souping” something up, his car, his stereo, his B3. When Patti joined the band, he was the most welcoming, thoughtful, kindest friend to the first woman entering our “boys club.”

He loved his kids, always bragging about Jason, Harley, and Madison, and he loved his wife Maya for the new things she brought into his life.

And then there was his artistry. He was the most intuitive player I’ve ever seen. His style was slippery and fluid, drawn to the spaces the other musicians in the E Street Band left. He wasn’t an assertive player, he was a complementary player. A true accompanist. He naturally supplied the glue that bound the band’s sound together. In doing so, he created for himself a very specific style. When you hear Dan Federici, you don’t hear a blanket of sound, you hear a riff, packed with energy, flying above everything else for a few moments and then gone back in the track. “Phantom” Dan Federici. Now you hear him, now you don’t.

Offstage, Danny couldn’t recite a lyric or a chord progression for one of my songs. Onstage, his ears opened up. He listened, he felt, he played, finding the perfect hole and placement for a chord or a flurry of notes. This style created a tremendous feeling of spontaneity in our ensemble playing.

In the studio, if I wanted to loosen up the track we were recording, I’d put Danny on it and not tell him what to play. I’d just set him loose. He brought with him the sound of the carnival, the amusements, the boardwalk, the beach, the geography of our youth and the heart and soul of the birthplace of the E Street Band.

Then we grew up. Very slowly. We stood together through a lot of trials and tribulations. Danny’s response to a mistake onstage, hard times, catastrophic events was usually a shrug and a smile. Sort of an “I am but one man in a raging sea, but I’m still afloat. And we’re all still here.”

I watched Danny fight and conquer some tough addictions. I watched him struggle to put his life together and in the last decade when the band reunited, thrive on sitting in his seat behind that big B3, filled with life and, yes, a new maturity, passion for his job, his family and his home in the brother and sisterhood of our band.

Finally, I watched him fight his cancer without complaint and with great courage and spirit. When I asked him how things looked, he just said, “what are you going to do? I’m looking forward to tomorrow.” Danny, the sunny side up fatalist. He never gave up right to the end.

A few weeks back we ended up onstage in Indianapolis for what would be the last time. Before we went on I asked him what he wanted to play and he said, “Sandy.” He wanted to strap on the accordion and revisit the boardwalk of our youth during the summer nights when we’d walk along the boards with all the time in the world.

So what if we just smashed into three parked cars, it’s a beautiful night! So what if we’re on the lam from the entire Middletown police department, let’s go take a swim! He wanted to play once more the song that is of course about the end of something wonderful and the beginning of something unknown and new.

Let’s go back to the days of miracles. Pete Townshend said, “a rock and roll band is a crazy thing. You meet some people when you’re a kid and unlike any other occupation in the whole world, you’re stuck with them your whole life no matter who they are or what crazy things they do.”

If we didn’t play together, the E Street Band at this point would probably not know one another. We wouldn’t be in this room together. But we do… We do play together. And every night at 8 p.m., we walk out on stage together and that, my friends, is a place where miracles occur…old and new miracles. And those you are with, in the presence of miracles, you never forget. Life does not separate you. Death does not separate you. Those you are with who create miracles for you, like Danny did for me every night, you are honored to be amongst.

Of course we all grow up and we know “it’s only rock and roll”…but it’s not. After a lifetime of watching a man perform his miracle for you, night after night, it feels an awful lot like love.

So today, making another one of his mysterious exits, we say farewell to Danny, “Phantom” Dan, Federici. Father, husband, my brother, my friend, my mystery, my thorn, my rose, my keyboard player, my miracle man and lifelong member in good standing of the house rockin’, pants droppin’, earth shockin’, hard rockin’, booty shakin’, love makin’, heart breakin’, soul cryin’… and, yes, death defyin’ legendary E Street Band.

Music You May Not be Listening to...Yet

I went to see "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" this weekend. My buddy Pat hit the nail on the head when he reviewed the movie here
but it was the music that caught my ear. Yes there are Hawaiian versions of songs like "Everybody Hurts" and "Nothing Compares to You," and the now all too popular "leading man who you didn't know can sing still kind of can't but tries anyway" song. It was one little song playing in the background of a crowded bar scene however that caught my attention and validated my taste in music you may not have heard yet.

The band is the Bird and the Bee (a duet really) and I've been tasting their stuff for several months now. I should be a music supervisor in Hollywood except that I'm pretty sure I'd hate L.A. after about eight days. The song, "Fucking Boyfriend." Thanks to neither the Bird nor the Bee using any punctuation in their lyric sheets I'm unclear whether the song is about a boyfriend whose singular purpose is tied to coitus or if the song is more of an exasperate plea for the antagonist to enter into a committed relationship with the songstress. Either way it's worth a listen, as is the rest of their album. Below, a few tracks for you to aurally peruse (the first one is NSFW, the second is:

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Talk about shrinkage...

I could write a post and maybe even keep your attention but I'd rather just copy and paset the following -- wow

Penis theft panic hits city
By Joe Bavier

KINSHASA (Reuters) - Police in Congo have arrested 13 suspected sorcerers accused of using black magic to steal or shrink men's penises after a wave of panic and attempted lynchings triggered by the alleged witchcraft.

Reports of so-called penis snatching are not uncommon in West Africa, where belief in traditional religions and witchcraft remains widespread, and where ritual killings to obtain blood or body parts still occur.

Rumors of penis theft began circulating last week in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo's sprawling capital of some 8 million inhabitants. They quickly dominated radio call-in shows, with listeners advised to beware of fellow passengers in communal taxis wearing gold rings.

Purported victims, 14 of whom were also detained by police, claimed that sorcerers simply touched them to make their genitals shrink or disappear, in what some residents said was an attempt to extort cash with the promise of a cure.

"You just have to be accused of that, and people come after you. We've had a number of attempted lynchings. ... You see them covered in marks after being beaten," Kinshasa's police chief, Jean-Dieudonne Oleko, told Reuters on Tuesday.

Police arrested the accused sorcerers and their victims in an effort to avoid the sort of bloodshed seen in Ghana a decade ago, when 12 suspected penis snatchers were beaten to death by angry mobs. The 27 men have since been released.

"I'm tempted to say it's one huge joke," Oleko said.

"But when you try to tell the victims that their penises are still there, they tell you that it's become tiny or that they've become impotent. To that I tell them, 'How do you know if you haven't gone home and tried it'," he said.

Some Kinshasa residents accuse a separatist sect from nearby Bas-Congo province of being behind the witchcraft in revenge for a recent government crackdown on its members.

"It's real. Just yesterday here, there was a man who was a victim. We saw. What was left was tiny," said 29-year-old Alain Kalala, who sells phone credits near a Kinshasa police station.

(Editing by Nick Tattersall and Mary Gabriel)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Copycat Concert post

I'm going to steal a post (or the idea of a post) from and Mike since you are the only one who actually reads my blog I feel less like it's plagiarism.

On the off chance someone else wanders on here 1. go read Mike's blog and 2. this is about how much better it is seeing a concert in the cozy confines of a small venue. I have my favorites (mostly in NYC) like the Living Room, Bowery Ballroom, The Box, Canal Room and as evidenced from my last post here the Rock n Roll Hotel here in DC. I can't totally discount the wonder of larger venues -- were it not for arenas and stadiums I would not get to see some of my favorite artists like Bruce Springsteen, Counting Crows or Dave Matthews Band (yup, I'm the one guy that still likes them). That said, the new, cutting edge stuff is in the down and dirty dive clubs. I never would have discovered the wonders of Imogen Heap, Ingrid Michaelson, Joshua Radin, Ari Hest, Cary Brothers, Kate Havnevik or Schyler Fisk were it not for these small and wonderful venues.

Last Friday I got to see Ms. Michaelson and Mr. Hest for what must be about the 12th time by now here in DC on the campus of the nation's most expensive university, George Washington U (figure that one out). It was a sitdown auditorium, not a music club, but still -- it was like seeing them at your high school and it just felt so intimate. You can't beat it. Looking forward to getting up to NYC and checking out some stuff at two relatively new venues, Terminal 5 and the Highline Ballroom.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Fit for a King

I found tonight that Washington, DC, while lacking "the scene" of my beloved and much missed New York can be the birthplace of good music. Our story begins in Brooklyn where the band "Tigercity" was formed. I had heard them on myspace, downloaded their EP and was excited when I saw they were playing at one of the few good rock and roll venues here in our nation's capital. I took the short walk over there tonight. Tigercity was sandwiched between and opening band and the headliner; neither of which I was interested in (in fact, I broke my own rule and left as soon as Tigercity was done with their 45 minute set).

While they boys from Brooklyn were very entertaining (especially the antics of the lead singer who was so high I thought I just might witness my first OD live and in person) it was the local boys, the "no name" openers who wowed me...BIG TIME. "U.S. Royalty" by name thes boys had some serious chops. I know very little about them except that they are so new as to not have recorded anything yet and that they sound a little like a stripped-down "Killers."

Check out the video below for a taste and remember who told you about them when they hit it big!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

"The Trail" Part 2

Not everything on the trail is funny. Dying isn't funny. I mean, sure, "Weekend at Bernie's" is funny but more often than not the prospect of your life ending (especially at the young and surprisingly successful age of 27 -- hello ladies) is not one to chuckle at. So with apologies for a lack of comedy, enjoy part two.

I am going to cheat a bit and risk a bit of legal mumbo-jumbo. I posted the following back on 2/7 on the blog I got paid to write for on the trail (there's a part 2 to part 2 after it):

A few weeks ago, the Huckabee press corps was up in arms because the campaign discontinued the press plane in order to save money lost on empty seats. Ahead of Super Tuesday, the plane came back as Huckabee criss-crossed the south on his way to dominance there February 5th.

After a day of interviews in Little Rock, Arkansas, Huckabee took to the skies again this morning. He and his staff loaded into one Hawker 1000 jet and the seven members of the current traveling press corps loaded into another just like it. The flight plan took both planes from Little Rock to Teterboro Airport in New Jersey. Huckabee and his staff landed as scheduled, but something happened to the press plane while in the air.

About 10 minutes before landing, the plane rapidly descended. It took the dive so fast and for so long that, had we not been buckled in, we surely would have hovered an inch or two above our seats. We chalked it up to the speedy jet we were using and were reassured by the playful grin of one of our pilots; but apparently all was not well.

The next ten minutes were a series of dips and turns - one so sharp the thought of flipping upside-down flashed for an instant in my mind. At that point, I decided it best to stare down at the floor until we touched the ground. One of my colleagues from another news organization comments immediately after landing that she never wanted to watch a pilot land a plane again. She had watched the landing through the open door of the cockpit, and apparently it was something akin to seeing sausage being made.

"Where are we?" one passenger asked.

"Morristown Municipal Airport," our pilot shouted back.

I thought it odd that the same pilot told me we would be landing in Teterboro, just like the Governor. "We have a problem," the pilot told us. Apparently while in the air, all of the planes systems stopped working - most importantly, the ability for the computers to maintain the planes altitude. "It took both of us to keep it up," the pilot told us. The co-pilot immediately exited the aircraft, visibly shaken.

All aboard were on the ground and safe, albeit a bit shaken. The airport supplied a shuttle and we were able to get to New
York City where Governor Huckabee is taping interviews for talk shows today.

Yup, we risked our lives to cover the good Governor's appearance on "Tyra." The man in the Klatu Barata Nikto silver suit seemed a bit much as we exited that plane, but precaution is precaution. The bottom line was we were all safe though and the experience was much worse as it sunk in than it was as it happened.

Flash forward a mere three days. Still a bit skittish from our ordeal, we were back in the comfort of our 30 seat Dornier jet, a mainstay of the trail. Huckabee was campaigning throughout Virginia ahead of the Potomac primary two days later. It was a windy day -- so windy that Hillary Clinton canceled her appearances in Virginia because she didn't want to risk the flights. That same day in that same state the Huckabee campaign, desperate for votes decided to take our lives in their hands and fly -- twice -- in the dangerous winds. Imagine the most terrifying roller coaster you've ever been on. Now imagine the entire thing suspended 14,000 feet in the air. It's been well over a month and I'm still bitter about the whole thing. God forbid we drive the two hours (we had six hours to get to the event) and save us from at least one of the death flights. This was a theme of the campaign all too often: take the longest, most inconvenient, most circuitous route to your goal. Perhaps that's something to examine in the post-mortem.

The rest of our time on the road some of us referred to the campaign as the Buddy Holly campaign -- ironic too that back in October the Governor and his band played the Surf Ballroom in Clear lake, Iowa; site of Holly's last concert before his plane would crash early the next morning killing him, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper.