Thursday, September 25, 2008

Natalie Post-Devendra

Though pretty much every blog I write seems to include at least one obtuse Phish fact, My Morning Jacket geekout moment and/or self-depreciative National reference, I like to think we cover a lot of non-musical ground on Don’t believe me? There are the crazy girl stories, the poor man’s Seinfeldian references, the Bush-as-Wilson political bashings, the woeful tales of gentrified neighborhoods I don’t live in and, of course, the Natalie Portman sightings. Which is why I feel obligated to report that my Princess Leia (or a least Queen Padmé) recently parted ways with her post-jam beau Devendra Banhart.

The first-ever Greenhaus link to reveals, “Natalie Portman and her folk-rocker boyfriend Devendra Banhart have broken up, a source confirms. Portman, 27, began dating Banhart, also 27, after starring in his "Carmensita" video, which was shot last March. A short time later, they took their romance public when they were spotting kissing on the streets of New York and over a sushi dinner at Jewel Bako. A fan of Banhart's music, Portman had asked him to donate a track to the charity compilation she curated on iTunes, Big Change: Songs for FINCA. She returned the favor by forgoing her usual fee to appear in the video.’ They got together right after the video shoot," a source said at the time.’ They also traveled together to Cannes and to Israel.”

For those keeping score at home, we’ve already physically bumped into Natalie Portman twice since the Greenhaus Effect aged from a poorly updated column into a poorly updated blog. The first time she sat next to me at a Sigur Ros after party (without hair), and the second time she ran towards me like Bo Derek in 10 (with hair) at Outside Lands, only to hug the hippie dude to my immediate right. Of course, on second look, that hippie-dude happened to be Devendra, but still the jury is in: clearly Natalie and I have a lot in common. I mean, according to People, the source for all celebrity truth, her recent dates include evenings filled with New York sushi, indie-rock shows and Israel, which would probably be my J-Date tag if my minor league team of crazy girls wasn’t already full (though I’d still be happy to add Natalie as a pinch crazy girl hitter).

I guess part of me is sad I probably won’t be seeing Natalie at freak-folk filled festivals anytime soon, but maybe it is time to turn my Garden State fantasy into more than an Elizabethtown reality. So Natalie, if you are reading this between posting threads on PT or checking for Jim James sit ins on, I hope you will consider coming with me to a real show, real soon. Maybe, if your lucky, I’ll even explain to you the meaning of post-jam. Until then, my team of Portman Patrolmen are still out there looking for you…

Monday, September 22, 2008

Stadium Rock

Given that I often refer to baseball as “the sport with the little white ball,” I don’t have any business writing a eulogy for Yankee stadium. I’ve only been to The House That Ruth Built a handful of times over the years and, in all honestly,I probably have a closer connection with the kosher hotdog vender than any particular player. In fact, if I had to pick a New York sports team to root for I’d go with the Mets since they've always felt like the long suffering Jeff Tweedy to the Yankees’ Jay Farrar, which is to say the perennial underdog one hopes will eventually prevail.

However, my brother is a huge Yankees fan and I was lucky enough to go with him to the sixth game of the 1996 World’s Series, which I’m told is kind of a big deal (OK maybe I know a little more about baseball than this blog lets on).

I’ve always felt bad that I scored a ticket to that game given its historic connotations, kind of like a non-Phish fan probably felt attending the Clifford Ball, Big Cypress or Amy’s Farm. Like a band, a baseball team can only have so many “on” nights, so many life-changing moments, so it's a shame to waste one on someone rooting for the National Anthem.

Yet, that night will always stick out as the night I finally got baseball…or at least its appeal. I’ve always felt that watching sports is kind of like, as the saying goes, dancing to architecture, and I never really understood its narrative story. But that night I finally felt its power: the kinetic group energy, the stadium-size relief when we(?) finally won and, most importantly, the little light bulbs flickering throughout the crowd…inspiring young minds to follow their dreams, strive for greatness or, at the very least, call their parent’s brokers for better seats the next season.

In retrospect, that was also probably the night my then twelve-year-old brother became a lifelong Yankee fan…the type of fan who will always look to Game Six as a reference point for power of the collective group experience. I usually spend baseball games catching up on my beauty rest, but something was different about that night: We stood throughout that entire final inning, and I didn’t even feel my feet. I was excited, my brother was excited and, most off all, I was excited for my brother. We were witnessing history, and we were witnessing it together.

That’s always been the true magic of baseball for me, what happened in the audience, not in the field. It is one of the few sports the rich and the poor can enjoy side by side---or at least in the same stadium---one of the few things in life grandparents can enjoy with their grandchildren. A lot of that has to do with the stadium, the original clubhouse, the original cub.

I’ve mourned Wetlands, I’ve mourned CBGB and I would have mourned the Fillmore East if I was old enough to remember it. That's why I mourn Yankee stadium and that's why I love what Bob Lefsetz wrote in his music industry letter this week:

Baseball parks don't change, they're not subject to fashion, you build them and they remain, frozen in time, a modern team playing in a bygone era.

Baseball teams are actually more like orchestras than rock bands, which is why they survive through the generations. Players come and go, rise through the ranks and eventually fade into the ether, making room for the next promising rookie. But the fans stay the same, watching a team as it goes through its inventible highs and its lows. I remember the Yankees' lean years in the 1980s, how they came from behind and finally won the Word Series in 1996. They continued to win, and I’ll always remember them as the team of my teenage years, even if they were never “my team” so to speak.

That’s why I’m sad that, like Seinfeld, the Clintons and so many heroes of the 1990s---the first decade I witnessed from start to finish---they eventually outlasted their time and lost that inspirational spark.

My brother tells me that the Yankees’ performances this year have been “pathetic,” which is a sad end for one of America’s most important cultural landmarks. But the fans will eventually forget this awful season---one day when the new stadium is built and a new team has come into its own.

Lefsetz was wrong about one thing: Baseball parks don’t remain frozen in time; only their bricks and mortar remain in a bygone era.

I asked my brother if he thought they’d keep the old stadium intact as a memorial, to house the memories in a safe location, and he told me that they were going to turn it into a park, which seems like the appropriate next step in that “Where Have All the Flowers Gone”-kind of way. And one day when I’m forced to bring my kids to see the Yankees play the Braves, I can tell them I saw that same game in a different stadium, when they players on the field were still just faces in the crowd.

Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the flowers gone?
Girls have picked them every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the young girls gone?
Taken husbands every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the young men gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young men gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the young men gone?
Gone for soldiers every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Gone to graveyards every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Covered with flowers every one
When will we ever learn?
When will we ever learn?

-Pete Seeger, 1961

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Hippies Win Again

It is no secret that Saturday Night Live is most successful when it focuses on politics, not silly characters. Indeed, it is safe to say that many younger viewers probably remember the fumbles of politicians like Gerald R. Ford, George H.W. Bush and Bob Doyle by the the caricatures Chevy Chase, Dana Carvey and Norm Macdonald created more than whatever archival footage is currently shown in history class. So it is no surprise that the sketch comedy is going through something of an artistic revival this season, just in time for the 2008 Presidential election and in time for Tina Fey to take on the seemingly custom designed role of Sarah Palin.

According to reports, the episode generated the show’s highest ratings since December 17, 2002, when Al Gore hosted the program. I remember that episode well and it was quite funny, especially a skit where Gore visits the set of The West Wing.

Since President Gore was riding high on his An Inconvenient Truth celebrity cachet, it is no wonder the episode received such high ratings. But one can’t help but wonder whether the episode generated such record ratings not just because to dealt with politics at the perfect time, but because it also featured the reunion performance by my favorite Vermont quartet featuring both members of 70 Volt Parade and Ramble Dove:


That’s right boys and girls and Sarah Palin supporters, a jamband is responsible for SNL’s biggest ratings since the middle of George W. Bush’s first term. That means they smoked the pops stars, the hipsters and even the politicians and, if you think about all the fodder Dubya has given the media since 2002, that’s a pretty impressive feat. Too bad Trey and Tipper Gore never got their side-project off the ground....

Monday, September 08, 2008

After the Goldrush Part II: Since Arcade Fire

Surgeon General’s Warning: The blog contains more self-indulgent introspection and/or Kevin Arnold-like inner musing than even the average National song. It is not recommended if you consider sappy a bonus four letter word and/or actually have real problems to worry about. But, hey, every once and a while I’m allowed to look at my life and in that "glass of chocolate milk is half-empty/half-full" kind of way, right? We’ll be back with some more jamband indie-rock outings later in the week…

If you are reading this on or after September 8th, that means it has been five years since I first stepped foot at Relix Magazine. That's right my good friends, casual onlookers and people who stumbled upon this page by mistake while googling Trey: it has been five years of obtuse Phish references, gratuitous post-jam remarks, and failed attempts to convince you that our magazine is pronounced Relix, not Re-lix.

If you are reading this on or after September 8th, then it also means it has been five years since I pulled off Shakedown Street and into New York City to start my “real life.” Five years since I left the small fish, collegiate confines of Saratoga Springs for the concrete wilderness that is Manhattan. And, in many ways, I’d say things really haven’t changed that much in those five years. I still make typos like George W. Bush preaches about patriotism, I'm still not exactly sure how to tie my shoelaces, and I am still looking for a neurotic girl who will drive me slightly insane for all eternity.

Indeed, if you asked me five years ago what I did last weekend, it’s a fair guess I might have said something like, “seeing My Morning Jacket, hanging with my friends and trying to figure out what I want to do with the rest or my life, or at least the rest of my twenties.” And five years later, that’s still largely the case. Sure, My Morning Jacket is playing larger venues, my friends dress in slightly better clothes and the rest of life has expanded to my early thirties, but in general, I'd say things are largely the same, five years, five desks and five masthead titles later.

If I had to pinpoint my biggest fear in life, the thing that keeps me up late and will make my hair look like Steve Martin’s years before it should, it’s time---more specifically in relation to loss and change. No mater how hard you try, there is no way to beat time, or even stop it, and no way you can control its pace, no matter how hard you worry.

And, if I had to pinpoint the turning point of my professional career, the moment that defined the last five years, I'd have to go all the way back to the pre-post-jam era of November 2003, just two months after I sheepishly stepped through Relix’s front door.

I remember being so scared when I first started, so nervous, that I had to stop by a local diner to get a soda to calm my nerves before my interview. This was, after all, the magazine I hung on my wall throughout college, and I remember sitting at a small table, peering around, wondering if any of these customers were my possible future co-workers. I applied that day and scored the internship that led to my current (and only) post-college job two days later. My editor Aeve gave me the good news during an Addison Groove Project concert at B.B. King’s on September 8---a Monday, just as it is this year---and just two days later I settled into my first cubicle.

But, I didn’t really feel like I arrived at Relix until that November. Aeve had an extra ticket to a SIRIUS launch party, and I remember going with another girl who was interning with me at the time. We had dinner, went to the party and I had just enough to drink to forget about being nervous. Of course, she also had enough to drink to later tell me “I was somewhere between getting the girl and not getting the girl depending on my mood,” but that was the first time I listed to what John Lennon once sang, “life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.”

If I had to pinpoint the other moment that sticks out my mind, it would be just last October when Arcade Fire played Randall’s Island. I’ve found that some shows are so big, or at least so hyped, that more often than not I find myself asking those around me “what time they are getting there,” or “who they are sitting with,” instead of “if they are going” in the hours before show time. At one point in my concert going career, this felt like the rule, not the exception, but in the post-Phish/post-summer/post-wide eyed days of my mid-20s, I’ve found it increasingly difficult to get my friends to agree on pretty much anything except, of course, that the prefix “post” probably jumped the shark in my articles well before the first member of The Slip actually moved to Williamsburg last summer.

But, thanks to George W. Bush’s environmental policies we now have 80 degree weather in October, and thanks to his cronies over at Halliburton we now have Win Butler and his orchestra-size collective Arcade Fire, or as I like to call them, modern indie rock’s answer to Phish (only with less hemp and more hair gel). And, while I probably listen to other indie rock bands more often than Arcade Fire (The National, Ryan Adams, the Shins), and have a far greater respect for other types of modern music (My Morning Jacket's hickster rock, Akron/Family's freak-folk), I can't think of another band in the post-Radiohead era that posses the unifying grandeur of Arcade Fire. They are the rare band that both record geeks, and kids who don’t like music, can safely claim as their own, and whenever they roll through New York, it’s nothing short of an event. The group's October 5 performance at Randall's Island had something for everyone: longtime fans (the rare early EP track "I'm Sleeping in a Submarine"), jamband geeks like me who still get hard at the idea of a unique sit-in (Win Butler playing with opening act LCD Soundsystem), causal listeners (a mammoth reading of the bar anthem "Rebellion (Lies)"), the kids riding the rail (a surprise post-show Violent Femms cover in the audience), compleatists (the rare "Cold Wind" track from the Six Feet Under soundtrack), people who don't like music, but like to drink (multiple bars), sexy girls (who sung "Haiti"), people who don't like music, but like sexy girls and like to drink (multiple bars, sexy girls) and of course, haters (who left early to attend apparently much hipper performances by Caribou and Sigor Ros).

I've been listening to Arcade Fire for a few years now and have probably surrendered a good deal of whatever credibility I earned serving as an editor for Relix fluffing them on this space, but something keeps me coming back. Perhaps, it's the realization that I'm not the only one. Last May I wrote the following after spending a few days on "Arcade Fire Tour" around New York City:

As the story goes, after spending a year studying poetry and art at Sarah Lawrence College, Win Butler dropped out of school and began slinging wooden clogs in Boston (heady). Soon after, he followed his high school friend Deu Montreal, enrolled at McGill University, met his future wife, a Haitian-born singer named Régine, and changed the face of popular music while I was still figuring out how to change my own sheets (ah freshman year). His story reminds me of another former prep-school hippie, or hip school preppie, who graduated from Taft in the early-1980s and spent the rest of that decade working his way through the northeast’s maze of clubs and keg parties. Like Butler, his family came from a decidedly square background (lest we forget Ernest Anastasio II helped write the SAT) and, I suspect, much like Butler, Ernest “Trey” Anastasio III had at a young age, a charm, a charisma, which allowed him to do something different, something special.

I’ll admit it: I didn’t find Phish during the “Nectar’s-era,” “the Big Ball-era” or even the “Clifford Ball-era,” but, instead, during the high-school yearbook era, which roughly stretched from the release of Billy Breathes until the start of Phish’s first hiatus (was there ever a song more custom designed for yearbook pages than “Chalk Dust Torture.?”) Now, my high-school alma mater is known for many things: the place Barbara Bush spent her pre-teen years, an average SAT score which is easily divisible by the number 1400 and an alumni board filled with names that end in suffixes like Esq., MD and III. But, the one thing my prep-school isn’t exactly known for is its command of the jamband alphabet (indeed, our jam-rock education seemed to stop at the letter d with the discovery of Dispatch and Dave Matthews). The first person in my prep-school class to find the Vermont Quartet, as far as I can remember, was a girl named Sarah, who, in retrospect, probably found Phish through her slightly older brother. She’d talk about the mid-1990s Phish shows I missed (Big Birch ’94, Great Woods ’95) and I wasn’t surprised when I saw her in the hallway the first time I caught Phish at Madison Square Garden. We both kind of looked at each other from a distance and grinned, as if to say ‘what are you doing here.’ Some questions don’t need to be answered.

After graduation, I attended a heady college, stored the Pharmer’s Almanac under my pillow and gradually found the other bands now stuffed together in the favorites section of my MySpace page. I remember bumping into Sarah the summer after our freshman year of college at an early Berkfest, right before moe.’s main stage set. I wanted to tell her about all the new bands I’d found in the intervening year, how Phish led me to moe. and moe. led to String Cheese and String Cheese led to me to the Berkshires, but, instead, we both kind smiled with that familiar grin. Around the same time I also heard her older brother overdosed near the end of his senior year of college---the first person I lost on the long journey from high-school to Coventry. I saw Sarah a few times on Phish’s final tour in 2004 and then again at a Flaming Lips show at Webster Hall, but, as I began to see more and more music, I began to see her less and less.

In retrospect, it feels pretty silly to equate the act of discovering new music to adventurers flocking west for the first time. But, like those settlers, after a band’s time has come and gone…after the hype…after the gold rush, all that’s left is some good music and a hopeful search for the next big thing (and, of course, a web of poorly updated fan-sites).

It’s eerily fitting that as one of my high-school peers ascends to international fame, my high-school hero finds himself court-ordered to live in my college town, to eat at my college coffee shop (“large, no sugar”), shop at my college record shop (“new vinyl player”) and not? drink at my college bar (sorry DAs). After Coventry, my friend and colleague Jesse equated the end of Phish to the proposed final chapter of the Superman saga, when, instead of being gunned down in a Sopranos-style shooting, Clark Kent met his final fate by simply become human. And, if the simple thought of Trey Anastasio wandering through my old college town isn’t enough anymore to make me quit my job at Relix, grow out my latent Jew fro and signup for another four years at Skidmore, it’s certainly enough to remind me that at the end of day, rock-stars are nothing more than normal, talented people with something special.

I guess part of me wishes I saw Arcade Fire at Arlene’s Grocery that night in 2004, before David Bowie sat-in and the gold rush really set-in. But, at the same time, I wonder if that experience would have changed the memory I have of hearing my favorite Arcade Fire song, “Haiti,” for the first time, if that nugget of music would have felt as fresh and original. I tried to remember the first time I heard Arcade Fire at Radio City last week, but I couldn’t focus on my memories. The music felt too good, and the only thing I could think about was how expensive their dry cleaning bill must be each night (I guess you need a Halliburton inheritance to clean ten outfits each night).

Like a not as deep as it sounds scene from Garden State, as I left the show, I saw Sarah in the corner of my eye, talking with a group of friends near Radio City’s marquee. She looked just as I remembered her, perhaps a bit older, cleaner, and all around more “indie-rockafied.” I thought about walking over to her, wondering where she was going, remembering where she had been, but, instead, I stepped into the subway, knowing we’d meet again, sometime after the gold rush.

As I watched what was, by all accounts, an average at best Arcade Fire performance, my mind began to drift back to those thoughts, the feeling that we are part of some sort of collective post-adolescent experience unique to our time. It made me wonder what drew me to the "Relix/Jam scene" in the first place and how many people I’d met through that world. It made me happy to be in New York where I can experience a show like this and still sleep in my bed and it made me think about the indie-rock summer on my forecast since Coventry. I thought about the day: the fresh pre-thaw calm, the rare day I spent not thinking/worrying about the past and future, but living in the semi-intoxicated present tense and most of all, it made me think about Phish, specifically Trey, and how much haschanged in the three short years since Coventry and the time since I’ve started at Relix.

I looked up and saw Win Butler, a giant boy of a man I probably would have hated if I spent a day with in high school, and saw a piece of Trey in him. It wasn't the way he played or even the way he moved, it was the weight he carried.. It made when I think of this picture I keep on my cubicle wall at Relix of Trey and Mike bouncing on their trampolines, how free and natural they seemed, and how over time that faded away.

I remember reading this one quote from Trey, maybe in Rolling Stone or maybe even in Relix, about how he admired the Beastie Boys and Radiohead and their freedom to make an album and then disappear, only to recreate themselves three years later. That has always been the key to rock-and-roll success, the ability to change naturally over time, to grow. It is what has allowed the Rolling Stones to age from a rhythm & blues cover group to the world’s most famous rock-and-roll band and what has allowed U2 to move from being alternative to an icon. If Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead are now “hip again,” as Relix and The Fader seem to agree, it is only because 13 years have passed since they last played, and it is easy to remember the good years, not the tour from hell. And then, as these thoughts segued in-and-out of my mind like that "Tweezer" from the Bomb Factory, Arcade Fire did something I never expected and Phish never could until Trey’s unfortunate arrest: they disappeared into the night with these words, “we’ll see you all in a few years.” They’ve yet to come back, but I have no doubt they will, bigger than ever, having grown stronger over time.

I didn't really know how to feel at the end of the Arcade Fire show, disappointed about Arcade Fire's performance, or excited that I had a great day, but I sure didn't feel like waiting 45 minutes for a bus home, so I decided to walk back to Manhattan over the Tri-Borough bridge. I've always had a secret fascination with bridges and old buildings because, no matter how much life seems to change, they manage to remain the same, stationary pillars in the world around us. That night took me all over the city, each call leading to a new location and at some point until I found myself at a small bar on a forgotten street, surrounded by people I barely knew.

Now, I don’t believe in fate and I feel that coincidences are actually some sort of Facebook plug-in I haven’t entirely figured out how to use, so I was surprised, but not that, surprised when later that night that same Sarah walked through the door, towards my table and took a seat not far from my friend. As it turned out she was friends with my friend’s friend, which is kind of what has always fascinated me about our distant friendship, that we are part of the same post-adolescent experience unique to our time. We got to talking about all sorts of things; high school (of course it sucked, isn’t it supposed to?), Arcade Fire’s show (of course she was there) and even apartments (of course she lived on a parallel street two black away). She asked me “what’s new?” and at some point the conversation drifted to Relix and then eventually Phish, and she uttered six words nobody has said to me since the 10th grade, the last time we really talked; “I didn’t know you liked them.” At first I tried to explain all that I had seen, all that had happened and all that I had done at Cliff Note speed, but then I stopped and realized that there is no way any of it would stick.

For a second it was almost as if I was frozen in time and the last decade had not happened and tried to remember what I was like not only when I moved to New York, but when I left for college. My apartment is sandwiched right between NYU and the New School, so as I walk home each September evening. I can’t help starring at the fresh cliques of freshmen banding together for support, finding strength if not direction in numbers. At times, I feel like the old man in Death in Venice, admiring the freshness of youth or Kevin Arnold when he visited his middle school for the last times in the Wonder Years, or even Screech Powers when he scored a spot on Saved by the Bell: The New Class.

It’s strange to think about all that’s happened in those five years, as I type in a cubicle that’s now messy enough to be my room at hom. Phish and The Dead have broken up and come back to life, Wilco and the Flaming Lips have aged from alt-rock heroes to classic-rock stalwarts and my bad haircut has gone from being out of style to suddenly retro (or at least it’s on its way, I promise). I've been in love, had a broken heart and questioned if all that was real, or just something a bartender slipped into one of my trademark 7 & 7s. But in reality, things feel pretty much the same, only filtered through Facebook not Friendster.

My outlook on life has always been "don't get too deep, you might lose touch with the surface," which I guess is kind of what John Lennon meant, and in her own drunken way, what my friend was also trying to say with “you are between getting the girl and not getting the girl depending on your mood.” Which is also why “what’s new?” is sometimes an impossible question to answer. I used to think I could change the world in five years, but then again five years used to feel like a longtime, so for now I’ll settle on trying to figure out how to change my own sheets, keep my antennas up for what's next and hope the world will change with me, one typo at a time (ok, so maybe I should learn how to use grammar check).

So I just smiled, listened and eventually stepped into the night, wondering where I was going, remembering where I’d been, knowing we’d meet again, sometime after the gold rush.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Better than The Wedding Singer: Phish Reunite

From the news/geekout

Phish reunited this evening at the wedding of longtime road manager Brad Sands. The four musicians took the stage during the private New York ceremony for a three-song performance that included Phish chestnuts “Suzy Greenberg,” “Julius” and “Waste.” Police drummer Stewart Copeland also sat in with Sands’ wedding band on the Police’s “Can’t Stand Losing You” and The Meters’ “Fire on the Bayou.” Sands served as the Police’s road manager throughout the group’s high-profile reunion tour. Phish last performed together in Coventry, VT in August, 2004.

The stealth reunion caps off four months of rumors that began when all four members of Phish appeared onstage together at the Jammys. Since that time the musicians have appeared together in various configurations, most notably when Trey Anastasio and Jon Fishman joined Mike Gordon and his band onstage at the Rothbury music festival in Michigan this past July.

In June, keyboardist Page McConnell also posted the following note on

Given that I might not even see some of the guys for the next six months, I would say that the announcement of a reunion is premature. However, later this year we hope to spend some time together and take a look at what possible futures we might enjoy. In fact the only real decision that has been made is that when we do get together, it will only be the four of us, hopefully with no distractions. I am really looking forward to that.

I want to say just a few more things. The prospect of Phish reuniting is something I consider very seriously, and I think about it a lot. And lastly, as always, there is plenty of misinformation floating around. Try not to focus too much on secondhand sources and random gossip. If there is anything real to announce, it will come from the four of us as a group.

Oddly enough, the only time Phish performed together during their 2000-2002 hiatus was at the wedding of Jason Colton in 2001. Colton is a longtime member of the group’s management team. As of press time, Phish has no confirmed plans, though Trey Anastasio is scheduled to kick off an extended tour at Port Chester, NY’s Capitol Theatre on October 16.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

I blog, Ryan Adams Responds

As I am sure any loyal reader of the Greenhaus Effect Dot Com its aware, there are few things I love as much as outing indie-rockers as closet jamband kids. And since the launch and of this occasionally updated blog, we’ve exposed the jamband roots of a slew of bands with either a witty and/or ironic name, including Feist, the Decembrists, MGMT, Vampire Weekend, Yeasayer, 311, Clap Your Hands Say Last Year, MSTKRFT, The National, TV on the Radio, Incubus and Maroon 5.

But one of the few artists who has come out of the jamband closet on his own is style-shifting, taste-making, indie-punk-jam-rock cowboy Ryan Adams: He wears Grateful Dead t-shirts onstage, regularly plays with Phil Lesh and even performed at our Jammy Awards in 2005. When not rocking through tunes from his much-harder Gold or making the tabloids by dating Mandy Moore, he also jams in the most literal sense: letting his country-rock songs slide into bits of freeform improvisation before segueing into the ether. In fact, I’m tempted to say that Cold Roses is the best “Grateful Dead” album made since the 1970s and certainly more of an extension of Workingman’s Dead/American Beauty/Garcia than their immediate studio successors, Wake of the Flood and From the Mars Hotel…which is probably why Phil added many of Cold Roses' best songs into his rotation between 2005 and 2007.

So I had no problem posting the follow on both and last week:

Ryan Adams Retires Songs, Summons Reckoning

On Saturday, Ryan Adams & the Cardinals played a sold-out show at San Francisco’s Fillmore Auditorium. Recalling both the spirit of the lauded room and spectator Phil Lesh, Adams stacked his setlist with a number of cuts from 2005’s Grateful Dead-inspired Cold Roses, including “Magnolia Mountain,” “Let it Ride,” “Beautiful Sorta,” “Easy Plateau” and “Cold Roses," among others. But, according to a post on his blog, the show was also something of a final hurrah for these songs before Adams begins to focus on material from his forthcoming album.

In a post titled “New/Old Jam Report,” Adams says the following:

The s.f. gig, at our lil’ lovely home away from home west coast- was a saying fare-the-well of sorts to our beloved last tour jams. now we enter new area’s/ new songs….things you will hopefully be happy to glimpse now, in their early stage powers- before they get, well, weird and lovely. also, from the old-stock, we have selected some surprises, some things electrified from the “Blue Cave (Cardinal-speak for acoustic/fragglerock/ G-D-Reckoning style set-up) and well a few things to amp things up.HEADS UP.we are the middle act on a THREE BAND BILL…..and have been given a generous hour, giver or take some…so, it will be LESS TALK/ MORE ROCK- and some tightening up you might not be used to if you are a regular….otherwise……if you are a CARDINALFAN and seen us a few clicks……hang on,cause this is where we brake off the braces and step by step, learn to channel more energy into a smaller bracket of time….and old jams in old tunes are now FREE ZONES……so, you know when we make the scary noise- and then it get’s all tripped out and pretty…..well, we don’t know what the fuck is happening there either…..and that is exploration…..and that is the new game.

In other news, Adams appears to be one of the few musicians more traditionally associated with the alt-country and indie-rock realms comfortable using the word “jam” to describe his music. The singer/songwriter describes his band by saying, “Cardinals love to jam. We're just a little gang of music fans that played hard for a long time, and you know, just want to contribute if we can to some good tunes and music, on this planet, floating at the edge of a spiral galaxy called ‘the milky way,’but probably called something else by people in the Andromeda Galaxy, because we are two thousand years behind them too.......can u imagine if they jam-or whatever jams I guess the universe is one big weird jam…”

But, apparently, Ryan isn’t as keen on the J-word as I thought since yesterday Josh found the following on his blog:

I’m dating jam’s (btw-Relix- ‘Jams’ means ‘songs.’ i learned that from Thurston interviews- i liked how he called them jams. I love that band so much. Sonic Youth. my god. its why i am out here right now- because of how much i liked all that good music.

That's right boys and girls and bloggers: This week I join such elite figures as Noel Gallager, Jay-Z and Batman as the subject of a real life Ryan Adams blog. Given my company, I figure the only way to celebrate is to run my mouth and/or put on a cape and tights, so I'll leave you with these parting words:

Ryan, if you are reading this, thanks so much for the shout out and please pardon my typos/gratuitous crazy girl references. We still love you like New York, Garth Algar hair and all, and hope that you will use the word jam as a verb once again in the near future. Until then, chin up, cheer up, and remember: don't get too deep, you might lose touch with the surface.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Trey Anastasio to Play Westchester

We interrupt your normal 4:30 PM coffee break for some late-breaking news from the Phish geekout camp. Trey Anastasio is playing Port Chester, NY’s Capitol Theatre on October 16. That’s right, the same Capitol Theatre where Phish played a series of epic (genre-defining?) shows in the early-1990s and the same Port Chester where I spent my high-school years rebelling against society one milk shake at a time at the Port Chester Coach (or The Roach as we affectionately called it).

I’ve often said that I’d only step foot in the shadow of my A Separate Peace-like high-school when hell froze over, but given the GOP’s Vice Presidential choice that also seems to be in motion. After playing for 1,000 next generation of prep-school hippies and suburban soccer moms in Port Chester, Ernie will continue to retrace my hippie-rock footsteps, moving through Connecticut (where many of my high-school friends lived) and onto Albany (where I attended college in nearby Saratoga). While rumors that he’ll play my block in the West Village remain unconfirmed, I’ll take the fact that Bowery Presents is promoting his Westchester date as a sign that Trey truly understands the term post-jam.