Saturday, June 28, 2014

Your Older Brother's Album Listening Club

I've tried to do a couple of album listening clubs through the years. First time was about 15 years ago when I worked at a backup software company in California. After a lunch discussion about the merits (or lack thereof) of late-century R.E.M., my friend Pat and I had the idea, similar to a book club: Pick an album, listen for a week, and then get together to discuss it: history, what we heard, where it stands, how it compares, why we like it - or why we don't. Unfortunately, the idea never got past the listening stage. I tried again with my friend Josh at another company recently, but we were never able to connect.

I was browsing through my twitter feed the other day when I came across this tweet from @Tommypenn:
I replied that I'd tried it but it didn't quite work out. It then occurred to me that freeing the discussion from a set place and time might be the way to get good participation. People around the world could listen and comment on the club thread, respond to other comments, etc., whenever they had the time.

So, here we go! There is a survey below for you to fill out, assuming you're interested in playing along, and a form to join the album club e-mail list. For now this list will also subscribe you to the general Your Older Brother newsletter list, but seeing as how I don't have a newsletter yet, this will be the only mail you'll get for now. I'll let you know when that's going to change.

My thoughts on ground rules look like this:
  • All genres are open - bebop, screamo, trance, spazz-core - anything goes, including NSFW lyrics.
  • All locations/countries are open, not just english-speaking countries or bands
  • All eras are open, as long as the album is accessible & available to all to find & listen to
  • No multi-artist compilations - I'd rather delve into one artist than many
  • Double & triple albums are ok
I'm open to other ground-rule suggestions as well, these are the ones I came up with off the top of my head. Let me know your thoughts in the comment section after the survey! I'll go over the rules in a follow-up post and the initial e-mail that goes out.

I would prefer that the album be available on iTunes/Spotify/Rdio to allow for the most chances for people to be able to listen. This leaves a lot of albums & artists available, but would take away the chance for obscure albums (like one of my favorites, Blancmange's Believe You Me) or digital holdouts like AC/DC. (EDIT: Whoops, I guess they're on the iTunes music store. I guess I meant Def Leppard.)

EDIT: I removed the code for the signup here because it was whacking out the signup on the upper left of the page. So sign up there!

Thank you! Keep an eye out for the follow-up post with the survey results, and thanks for joining! This will be fun.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Wang Chung Cover Project

I've always been a fan of Wang Chung's "Points on the Curve" album. Recently I got a wild hair to cover the record, song by song. In one of the more self-indulgent moves here on the ol' blog, I'm going to post the songs that I make. This one is just a guitar, looped drums, & voice. There may end up being more production on other tracks (hell, I may end up adding more to this one), but I wouldn't expect much from any of it. It's mostly just something to get me playing music again, which will hopefully lead to more original songs of my own. I may end up posting some of those, as well. Don't worry, though. There will be no "Everybody Have Fun Tonight." I can't stand that damn song.

So, here you go. Dance Hall Days.

Monday, June 16, 2014 - Mobile Festival Planning Made Easy

A new venture by some friends of mine here in Denver has launched recently and it could change the way we plan & attend music festivals. They've set up a sweetly simple mobile site called and it gives you 3 views to choose from:

Alphabetized band list:

Numbers before letters

What bands are playing by time of day:

Bands playing at noon

What bands are playing by stage/venue:

Bands playing at 100% de Agave

If you click the sort choice (Band, Time, Stage) it reverse sorts. AWESOME.

As you can see, it also connects to Twitter to allow for easy tweeting where you're at & what your plans are!

They've only put in local festivals for the moment, but I'm curious to see if they'll add other major festivals soon.

Aimee Giese of Greeblehaus & Giese Media has more info about the history of on her blog, including a discount code to get $10 off tickets to the Westword Music Showcase happening this Saturday the 21st in Denver's Golden Triangle! Go buy tickets, try out at the WMS, and send them your feedback on Aimee's blog or to her e-mail listed on the about page. Let's all help to make way awesome so we have a kickass scheduling app for festivals!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Know Your Rights! with the Festival Lawyer

I've been following & conversing with The Festival Lawyer on Twitter for a while now, and he's always had solid advice concerning your legal rights at music festivals. I just now saw that he posted a graphical flowchart for what to do if you're stopped at a music festival on Showbams.

Read through the comments as well there are some good clarifying questions and answers. Someone named Jen asks about the legalese on the back of a ticket and there are a couple of good replies, one from The Festival Lawyer.

Also read through his other articles on Showbams and … KNOW YOUR RIGHTS.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Denver Day of Rock 2014

Every year for the past five years, Concerts for Kids has put on the Denver Day of Rock on a Saturday in late May. The first year I knew of it was in 2010 when I saw that Fishbone was playing - FOR FREE. That's right, the DDoR is a free show, every year. It had been years since I'd been 'Boned, so I decided to take the family to the 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver and see one of my favorite bands.

Note to self: Start taking my real camera to shows
Of course they rocked, they're Fishbone!

I wasn't able to make it to the fest in the ensuing years for various reasons, so I missed out on lots of other bands, including local faves Bop Skizzum, Air Dubai, and The Samples (what? They were great when I was in college).

I always look for the lineup, though, and when I skimmed this year's list of bands it went something like this: "Plain White T's…ok, I think my kids like them…Wallflowers…interesting, a Friday night show…Oh, cool! Calder's Revolvers!…Oh, cool! Rachel and the Kings…The Hold Steady…THE HOLD STEADY?!?" It quickly dawned on me that my first Hold Steady show would be a free show and I was incredibly psyched.

Someone at DDoR must have similar musical taste to Your Older Brother, because when the schedule came out, there were NO conflicts of the bands I wanted to see! That's not an easy task when you've got 5 stages going. I passed on seeing The Wallflowers Friday night because it was pouring rain and I wanted to save my energy for the following day. If I was going to get soaked seeing a band, I'd rather it be a band I really love. Like The Hold Steady.

So, Saturday afternoon we made our way once again to downtown Denver for an afternoon of music. First up: Calder's Revolvers.

Calder's Revolvers
I first saw Calder's a few years ago at a Bop Skizzum show and they blew me away, especially their gritty blues/soul song "Ima Lose My Mind" from their Black Bloc release. They were only a four-piece then, so I was surprised to see seven people on the stage; I almost didn't think it was them. Until I heard Andy Schneider's vocals, that is. Dude can blow. The addition of Alea Kilgore on vocals along with trumpet and sax points the way to a more soulful Calder's Revolvers, and that's exactly what you get - a kind of early Stax feel, or something you'd find on Daptone Records. If I ever have a festival of my own (foreshadowing!), I'd love to have them play.

We made our way over to the Curtis Street stage for Fierce Bad Rabbit. I'd heard of them prior to this and wanted to check them out.

Fierce Bad Rabbit
They didn't really wow me, but I'd imagine that it's tough to play shows in the middle of the day when you're used to playing in underlit clubs at night. I don't know if that's what was going on, but the energy seemed off. I'd give them another shot in the dark, so to speak.

Rachel and the Kings are another band we've seen at a past Bop Skizzum show and I haven't seen them  live since they won the Ford "Gimme The Gig II" competition, so they were high on my list of bands to check out as well.

Rachel and the Kings
We loved their cover of Aerosmith's "Dream On"- huge sounding and fairly epic, as the song should be. The rest of the set was underwhelming, though, which was disappointing considering how much I liked their previous material. Maybe it was another case of "daytime show." Rachel is the kind of performer you want to watch, though. We'll see where they go next.

We made our way over to the main Skyline Park stage to catch The Hold Steady next - starting at 6:10pm? This would be interesting. They have always lived in my mind as a bar band and that's where I always thought I would see them, someplace like the Larimer Lounge or Bottom of the Hill, not outdoors in the daytime.

As we stood in the middle of the park area staking out our place, I heard someone calling my name from towards the front near the stage. It was my friend who owns the Hi*Rise, a local bakery (which is AWESOME, by the way, definitely check it out sometime when you're in downtown Denver). We made our way through the still-thin crowd to say hello and ended up staying there, which was an excellent move on our part.

Craig Finn & Tad Kubler
We were stupid close for the set, and it was great.

Steve Selvidge & Tad
They played a bunch of what I guess I'd call their hits - "Massive Nights," "Sequestered In Memphis," "Constructive Summer," "Magazines," "Southtown Girls," and "Chips Ahoy" along with a bunch of other great songs - but of course they're great, it's The Hold Steady. shows that they played 15 songs which seems to me to be a lot for a one hour set, but I'm not complaining. They could have played 30 and I would have been there for every hard luck story and singalong chorus.

More Craig & Tad
It was less booze-soaked than I thought my first Hold Steady show would be, but it was tight, they sounded great, the crowd was into it - I was very happy. I think Steve was, too:

Steve's a badass
I could have left right then but there was more free music to see! I strolled to the Welton Street stage and saw a couple of songs by Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers, and then came back over to the Champa Street stage to catch Dwayne Dopsie & the Zydeco Hellraisers. Zydeco always entertains.

Not a great pic, but that bright thing in the middle is a full-chest washboard!
I hung out for a bit and was happy to have heard their excellent cover of "Beast of Burden," one of my favorite Rolling Stones songs.

I made my way back over to the main stage because that's where my kids were, watching the Plain White T's. I heard the T's say that they had to reach into their back catalog for some songs because they usually only played hour sets lately (festival veterans!). The crowd of young girls standing in the rain seemed to be ok with that.

The "Hey There Delilah" moment
The T's finished, we went home, everyone was happy!

I'd like to thank Concerts for Kids for putting on another terrific show in our terrific city. Hopefully the Hold Steady get will help bring more big names to next year's lineup, but it's always a good day out in the sunshine (and sometimes rain) in the city.