Friday, October 9, 2009

New Web Address

After much talking about, we've finally decided to go ahead with renting a hosting server, which has provided a home more my sites - which have been otherwise off the air since the move to the US.

Both Blogger and Picasa have made for good temporary solutions for both my blog and photos, but it's going to welcomed only having to write blogs in one location, rather than having to write it and then copy it over to Blogger.

To go along with hosting, I've gone and registered my own domain, as well as one for Lost Horizons. With the new home of my site being, no-one has any excuses or justification for snotty comments about not being able to remember the URL of my site. [wink]

Hence this will be my last blog on Blogger, unless something terrible happens. The fun will continue at

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Bone To Pick With The Phoenix New Times

So, this week's edition of the Phoenix New Times came out this yesterday morning. With leaving for Kansas City early yesterday morning, I tried, but failed to find the Best Local Band category.

With a bit more time tonight to search around, I've found - with disappointing, though somewhat expected results - Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers took the title. Of course, this isn't that surprising - for reasons that are the same as why I have a bone to pick with the New Times. Firstly, pitting them The band firstly has been around for 11 years. Secondly, the band has an organized (albeit not as organized as years ago) online community - which was informed to vote for the band. Which is fine, but it's kinda ridiculous of the New Times to pit the likes of Roger Clyne The & Peacemakers against the truly local bands like Strange Young Things, Sugar Thieves and the other nominees who I'm not even familiar with.

My biases aside against Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers and pro Strange Young Things aside. it really makes this such a pointless category, and kind of misguided I think. Clearly the definition of "local band" is not restricted to acts with national wide reach, and given that, why not just put the Gin Blossoms in the nominations - who would similarly crush these really "local" bands. Maybe next year they should great a second category "Best National Local Band" so that there is at least some competition and worth to the "Best Local Band" category.

Rant ended. But let me say that Strange Young Things are by far the best local band of 2009 in my mind!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Missouri To Arizona In Photos (And Back Again)

The best of the photos from last week's trip to Arizona... (Click the collage to see the album)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Adios Phoenix...For Now

There really is no rest for the wicked - we were up and at them and out of Aaron's place by 7:20am, headed back to Missouri! We're currently in Tucumcari, New Mexico for the night. It's been a fairly nice day of driving, despite the patches of rain that we've had both in Arizona and New Mexico.

Driving out through part of Tonto National Forest was awesome - as always, the scenery was breath taking - saguaros as far as the eye can see, and amazing rolling mountains. Similarly, the New Mexico landscape in and around the border is really nice (although, quite different to the Sonoran Desert). I did think to myself that the trip back is somewhat disappointing to the trip out to Arizona. Going to Arizona, everything incrementally gets better and better - until the complete overload of beauty (at least for me) of the Sonoran Desert. Going back however, you kind of blow your load (or mother nature blows her load ;-) ) in the first few hours, and it gets slightly less exciting - which means that tomorrows 11+ hours driving probably won't be quite as inspiring as todays.

We do however have the promise of a little bit of rest once we get back to Missouri (likely to only be "a little" actually) which I'm sure will keep our spirits up as we head through Texas, Oklahoma and finally get back to Missouri!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Streets Of Guadalupe

After getting the apartment taken care of, I wanted to drive through Guadalupe before heading back to Casa Grande, partially to get my bearings on it's proximately to the apartment.
Surprisingly to me, we're north of it, rather than south of it. I've only been through it a select number of times - maybe twice in 2005, probably at least once in 2006, and then on the way home last night. Going through it again tonight really helped me get my bearings on it - as has been true of a lot of the east valley over the past week.

I was particularly on the look out for Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, which I actually missed last night. Pretty much immediately thinking about it, we were approaching it off to the right / west. Now this was a sight to behold. The church looks amazing no matter when you see it (back in 2005 I was immediately blown away by it - and only later discovered that it's the church seen in a lot of the ¡Americano! era Roger Clyne & The Peacemakers photos). But tonight, with the sun setting at dusk over South Mountain as a backdrop to the church was really a site to behold - completely amazing. A picture says a thousand words, but I don't have one to post here, since photography is forbidden (however, I may be confused about that only applying to when a religious ceremony is occurring). A completely amazing sight to see in any case!

One thing I haven't previously noticed, which I love, is that Priest Drive transforms into Avenida del Yaqui (translated - Avenue Of The Yaqui) and then right back to Priest Drive south of Guadalupe. The transition of such being exactly like Guadalupe itself - there is no subtle transition any of the 3 sides that border Tempe - it's an immediate transformation into the historic / south of the border feel town, and an immediate transformation back to the modern American feel of Tempe. It's really quite amazing to me the way Guadalupe is nestled inside Tempe, and doesn't at all feel effected by the modern suburbia around it. This is true even with the huge Arizona Mills mall directly north of it over Baseline. The idea of living somewhere with a community / town such as Guadalupe in it is really cool!

It was similarly cool that noticing that the section of Guadalupe Road in Guadalupe is signed as Calle Guadalupe (as appears to be true of all the roads in Guadalupe, looking at Google Maps), as we looped around east, heading back towards Tempe to see the extent to which Guadalupe streaches (1 square mile as it turns out) before getting on the I-10, headed for Casa Grande.

Guadalupe Cemetery

While driving around the area around the apartment complex, we stumbled upon Guadalupe Cemetery. Completely unexpectedly, as it's located in Tempe, in amongst the suburban streets north of Baseline. Neither of us any idea that it existed (it goes without saying that I didn't if Katie didn't).

We only saw it briefly from the dead end of south Beck that leads into it, but it looked like it'd be a beautiful cemetery. I have no idea whether it is open to the public / people not of the Guadalupe community, but it was pretty amazing stumbling across it.

And Scene...

Our extra day in Arizona got off to an early start, driving back up to Tempe, dropping off some of our clothes that we're not taking back, and then heading over for an 11:30 appointment at the one apartment that we singled out out of the batch we drove by last night. In short we like what we saw. Compared to the front runner yesterday, it's a bit bigger, a bit cheaper, got a bit better crime rating, and is a bit closer to downtown Tempe. A bit better on all sides basically.

After the appointment we went over to Pete's Fish And Chips for lunch, to discuss this over food. Much to my dismay, I threw cigarette lighter in the trash. Not on purpose, of course! I took a brief walk down Apache to try and fix the situation of not being able to light a cig, but unfortunately Pete's is basically surrounded with just accommodation. However, it we had a delicous lunch, and red the Tempe Daily, which had an interesting article about Resturant Mexico's constant displacement around the downtown area. We'd just been talking about that yesterday afternoon, noticing that the building it was last in on Apache has been demolished. The site is no doubt awaiting another freakin' high rise to go up there. What the hell goes through the heads of the people in charge of this town, I don't know.

In any case, after finishing our food, we moved to the back of Pete's for a bit more quiet, and after a while moved the pow-wow to Tempe Beach Park, since the garbage smell at the rear of Pete's was getting to me - as to was the lack of nicotine, I'm sure! So we swung past the Safeway on Broadway to grab a lighter, and then over to Tempe Beach Park.

While ironically it was noisy over there since there was a construction crew putting together stages for Arizona Fall Fest, it was pretty nice being out there. We crunched the numbers, weighed crap up, played devil's advocate - and decided to go with the apartments we looked at this morning. And then went through our plan to make it happen. So following this, it was over to the Tempe library to use the internet, over to Kikos on University to send a fax, and then back out to the apartment complex to put in our applications. Basically an afternoon of criss crossing across Tempe taking care of business. We got our application in around five, which brought with it a huge sense of accomplishment. After this we spent some time driving around the surrounding areas - again - but this time with the perspective of it being our new home if the application in accepted.

Of all the major things we set out to achieve in Tempe / Phoenix, as of about 5pm tonight, we achieved them all. not bad considering that we arrived around 5pm last Thursday, and we were done by 5pm Wednesday this week!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Apartment Decisions Continue...

It's been another long day out in the Valley Of The Sun, trying to sort out living arrangements. Earlier in the day it was a case of weighing up whether we're going to live on Mill Avenue, or further south close to Elliot Road. We did some research this morning on things like crime and what not, and went back out to both apartment complexes.

The way things are shaping up, the Elliot Road location is looking much better, despite the painfulness of the better size at South Mill. And the fact that Yucca is ridiculously within walking distance of the complex on South Mill. Something that makes the decision incredibly painful.

I've been wanting to take some video driving around downtown Tempe, and we got that down this afternoon, and towards the end of that, we, without much explicit discussion expanded our apartment search to others in Tempe (a few hours earlier it was pretty much just down to the two aforementioned apartments). At some point, stuck in traffic on Apache, right in the middle of the ASU area, I had the presence of mind to tune into The Blaze in the car - ie: on a real radio! I've been listening to the station for years online, and have been meaning to do that this trip, but have consistently forgotten whenever we've been downtown. So, this afternoon I finally did it, tuned into The Blaze on a radio (and checked their old frequency - 1260AM - funnily enough, nothing appears to be broadcasting on it at the moment). It was enjoyable that at around 6:20 the played They Way We Talk (The Maine). Driving down Rural, tuned into The Blaze and hearing The Way We Talk, there is just something damn cool about that!

We found a few other complexes that may work for us, and hence we're going to delay our trip back to Missouri until Thursday (originally we were leaving tomorrow) to do some more research, and hopefully have things narrowed down tomorrow.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Shelby James @ Rula Bula

I Love When My Reputation Proceeds Me

After killing time, we headed back to Mill Ave., and parked near Mission Palms, which was just a short walk to Rula Bula. Which I'd guess I'd always thought of being closer to the University end of Mill. But y'know, aside from the big touchstones (pretty much the 7th block, and Monti's at Rio Salado, by memory of Mill always gets a bit screwed up.

The size of Rula Bula was also surprising and impressive. I have a recollection of looking in there years ago, but had no idea that it spanned two shop fronts. In anycase, Shelby was setting up by the time we rolled in. The place was particularly quiet, making it wasy to pull up a stool at a table with a really good vantage point.

When Shelby started playing, it was a mixture of covers, with a few originals interspersed through the mix. Probably not surprising, since his Monday night gig was providing music for the eating / drinking crowd of Rula Bula. At one point early on, Katie went outside to talk to Aaron on the phone, after which we were talking about how he should by a Folsome Prison shirt while he's down there, and how cool that'd be. Ironically, in the middle of the conversation (without overhearing it), Shelby launched into Folsome Prison Blues. Incredibly spooky! And also the fact that it's the second time in a few days that it's been played (Stephen Ashbrook being the other time) and we had only dropped Aaron at the airport to head out there two days ago!

At some point he launched into Scarlot Harlot, which was an impressively more 12 bar bluesy rendition, conpared to the album, which was really cool to hear. In hindsight, I really wished I'd recorded video of it. But my camera batteries were starting to go, and I was holding out for Dance Like Jesus. After Scarlot, Shelby asked for any requests and Katie called out for Just Like Heaven by The Cure. That's our new thing - to try see how many people we can get to play it. An idea that we came up when we saw Ashbrook launch into it in Kansas City (and then again the other night at Martini Ranch on spotting Katie's Cure t-shirt). Alas, Shelby didn't know it. I'd been planning on catching him in between sets and requesting Dance, and since The Cure request didn't pan out, I just called out for that. Which changed the whole direction of the set list, since he now realized someone (us) was there to see Shelby James songs, not covers! [smile] And hence launched into that, and two others off Downs On 9th.

When it came time for a break, he immediately came over to our table and apologised for the "gospel covers" and that he didn't realize that we were there to hear his stuff. [smile] After some introductions, and determining that he recognized Katie (as they "ran in the same circles" - probably largely Los Guys shows and explaining the move from Australia to here, he asked if I was into Dead Hot Workshop. And then if I had been at the Stephen Ashbrook show on Friday night. Why yes, of course I had, but how the hell did he know? He proceeded to explain that he was working on his new album at Curtis' studio over the weekend and he'd mentioned that I'd been at the Stephen Ashbrook show and was from Australia and was really into the Tempe music scene (enough to move here). So, once again, my reprutation proceeded me. It really goes to show what a small world it is (at least in the Tempe music scene), to see Curtis (without any prior knowledge) playing with Stephen Ashbrook on Friday night, Shelby being at his studio on the weekend, and then us going to see Shelby on Monday night! I had wanted to, particular with Rula Bula being so quiet, introduce myself to Shelby and mention being into his stuff, and all the work of doing that was removed by that twist of events! We ended up having a really cool talk about the music scene, past and present and our travels, which was really cool. We also mentioned that we were after his second disc, which unfortunately he didn't have any copies of on him.

After quite a decent talk, he took his break and then played his second set. By this point, Rula Bula was quite empty, with us being the only people there except for a few people at the bar - which really turned into a nice little private show for us, focusing on his own songs, both "from the CD you don't have" and some stuff off his new record which he's putting the finishing touches on at the moment. Too cool, and made me really glad that we noticed that he was playing tonight.

It had admitedly been a long day, and thankfully he finished up at midnight. "Thankfully" just because we had the 45 odd minute drive back to Casa Grande ahead of us, and we didn't want to leave prematurely given the personalized performance we were getting.

After the show we said bye to him, and that we'd back out here in about a month, so he'll definitely see us again, and he wished us luck on the trip back. After a smoke / watching his stuff by his truck while he finished up some stuff at the bar, we headed back to Pepe for the drive back to Casa Grande - giving Baby Mercury (Domo) the first listen since picking it up at Zia the other day!

Once again, another great night out in Tempe!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Today In Tempe

This morning we dropped Aaron off at Sky Harbor, then proceeded to Tempe Town Lake to take some photos of the "Healing Field" - flags displayed across Tempe Beach Park in memorial of Sept. 11. The walk around Tempe Beach Park (and over the Mill Ave. bridge to get an overall photo) was filled with conversation about the changes in Tempe over the past 3 years, all too visible in all directions at Tempe Beach Park. Which continued the whole way back to the car, and as we hit the old Ash Avenue bridge - where the last 20 minutes of conversation was so pogniant, as we were greeted by huge advertisement for the development of a "War Memorial", plans of which include screwing with the ruins of the Ash Avenue bridge. Having a memorial at Tempe Beach Park is fine, but screwing with the historic bridge? It's disgusting. The changes going on with the ascetics of this town is horrible, and whoever is responsible for it really needs their head checked. But more on that later...

From there we spent some time at Fiesta Mall, then headed over to Four Peaks for lunch. Actually we'd tried Pete's Fish and Chips, which was closed on Sunday, and it turned out nice, because sitting at Four Peeks on the warm Sunday afternoon eating 8th Street chicken tenders and researching apartments was perfect. Before leaving we briefly went inside to use the restroom, which was cool that I got to see where the door from Four Peaks to Uranus Recordings once was.

After lunch we drove back out to Mesa to look at some apartments we'd shortlisted. We'd tried earlier in the day to use the downtown wireless to check on shows happening tonight, which was a total bust, and since we were both tired, we headed back towards Casa Grande and dusk. The desert south of Phoenix was absolutely beautiful with the sun setting behind us over South Mountain.

Ironically, on getting back here I discovered that Last Exit's lineup had canceled and Los Guys were playing a free show tonight! Could have been brought to our attention hours ago! But given our tiredness and the fact that they probably wouldn't go on until late, it was probably for the best that we didn't know about it.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Stephen Ashbrook @ Martini Ranch

Tonight was the first time I've been to the area of north Scottsdale where Martini Ranch is located, and obviously the first time I've been to Martini Ranch. The night life area was certainly vastly different to our preferred Tempe haunts, going towards the rep that Scottsdale gets. Or the cute way people refer to Snottsdale. The only bars I'd previously been to in Scottsdale fit with me (Sugar Daddies, Pranksters Too), but clearly this area lived up to the more pretentious stereotype.

On parking and walking down to Martini Ranch, we could here that Ashbrook had already started, with the sounds of Better Than Anything spilling out onto the street. And sounds being 'full band' sounds. By today I was convinced that he was going to be solo again, based on Facebook, but alas he had the whole band for Arizona. There was a little bit of a delay getting in because of my ID - it's the second time my permanent residency card has almost been a problem. It doesn't make sense to me, given the fact that it's federally issued and I'm sure harder to fake than a driver's license. But there you go... A second bouncer however allowed is in, which meant we didn't have to go back to the car to get my passport.

In anycase, Martini Ranch was actually a cool place to see a live act, despite the Snotsdale location of the venue. It was cool seeing Stephen in a proper live venue and with the full band, since we'd just seen him the other week solo / acoustic in a corner bar in Kansas City. Getting both experiences made it really worthwhile. The other cool part is that he'd mentioned the Martini Ranch show when we talked to him last time about moving to Arizona, so it was pretty cool actually making it to the show - which was unplanned, we didn't even realize he was playing until yesterday.

It wasn't long before I started to look at who was in his band - firstly I couldn't see a guitarist. Looking behind Stephen I saw a familar face behind the skins - Curtis Grippe (Dead Hot Workshop). I didn't immediately recognize the bass player, but some immediate excitement from Katie cleared up that it was Thomas Laufenberg (Pistoleros, Ghetto Cowgirl, Dead Hot Workshop - and her guitar teacher before moving to Australia). Too cool! We had no idea that either of them would be joining Stephen for the show! Which made wearing my Dead Hot Workshop t-shirt (purely something I'd brought to put into storage, and was on the top of the pile of clothes) quite fitting.

Before long Thomas noticed Katie and gave her a wave, which I think his presence helped her with the strangeness of being back. Not to long into set, Stephen announced noticing that there was a Dead Hot Workshop t-shirt in the crowd, and promptly introduced Curtis and Thomas, and announced that they'd do a Dead Hot cover. Sweet! Something that really made my choice of t-shirt quite worthwhile! He then immediately referred to Katie's Cure t-shirt, and mentioned doing Just Like Heaven recently at a friend's wedding, and that he'd do a cover of that also - which he launched into the very next song. It was really cool that we got singled out from stage and covers of songs by the bands whose t-shirts we were sporting! [smile]

Once the band left the stage, I mentioned to Katie that I hadn't gotten my cover! [smile] However, as soon as Stephen came back for the encore, he scanned for the Dead Hot Workshop and said they were going to do the cover they promised. There were clearly a few other Dead Hot supporters in the audience around us who commented on Dead Hot to me. Pretty cool. After playing Mr. S.O.B, he then launched into Folsome Prison Blues which we enjoyed given Aaron's upcoming trip to Folsome.

After the show we went out of the back to have a smoke and move away from the crowds. On the way out we passed Stephen who stopped and said hi, and brought up seeing my t-shirt and we briefly mentioned how we'd seen him in Kansas City, at which point he remembered the fact that we were moving out here. Then once we got ourselves situated, Thomas came over and said how he was so surprised to see Katie back - wanted to know about how Australia was, etc. etc., and filled us in on what was going on in the music scene here, including some cool Dead Hot Workshop news. In addition to which he seemed quite excited that he was now (and has been for quite a while, which isn't news to us) their bassist. I thought it was funny that he apologised for not remembering my name - given that he met me once 3 years ago at a guitar lesson, I was far from offended!

We went inside briefly to purchase Drive, which Stephen mentioned onstage that there was some copies of for purchase. It was funny to me, since today I'd thought to myself that it would be a cheap night, since we loaded up on the 2 CD's we didn't have in Kansas City (except for Drive, which appeared to not be available either online or at the show), so we wouldn't have to fork out anything but the cover charge. But with the news of the availability of Drive, that all changed. Of course, it was just an added $10, and we're both really glad to finally have the Stephen Ashbrook discography completely rounded out. Visiting the merch table also meant that Katie was able to pick up a Stephen Ashbrook sticker, destined for the back bumper of Pepe, to replace the one that was a casualty in the death of Mr. Burns almost 3 years ago.

We milled around for a bit because I wanted to say hi to Curtis - as a matter of fact, the Dead Hot Workshop t-shirt I was wearing was given to me by him when my other one was stolen in Tempe. Once there was a break in the conversations he was having with people I went up to say hi, not 100% sure that he'd remember me. Of course, he did and said that when he Stephen mentioned the t-shirt he looked out in the crowd and thought "is that Mark from Australia?!? What is he doing here?" [smile] Pretty cool! He was also curious to know whether or not we knew he was going to be playing with Stephen, or whether it was a surprise, which it obviously was. So it was great getting to say hi, because Curtis is always so nice. He let us know about the benefit show that Dead Hot is playing at the end of the month, which we won't be around for, but we assured him that after mid October we'll be seen a lot at Dead Hot shows.

After chatting to Curtis, it was time for us to back, particularly given the 45 minute drive ahead of us. By this time Rock Lobster was in full swing inside. The idea of an original artist like Stephen Ashbrook, who is a big deal, particularly in Arizona circles, opening for an 80's cover band is so bizarre to me!

In any case. it turned out to be a really great night with a full surprises - and 100% was worth coming out for, despite that given the last few days it'd have been easy to stay home and sleep! [smile]

Too Much To Do On A Saturday Night

Hmmm, man, there's too much to do tonight, and not that much for the rest of the time we're here, which is slightly annoying.
  • Stephen Ashbrook @ Martini Ranch
  • Strange Young Things @ Flicka's Baja Cantina
  • Los Guys & Shelby James at the Mark Kopentis @ The Ruby Room
I don't think there is any doubt that we'll go see Stephen, but I'd obviously love to see the other two shows!

Friday, September 11, 2009

When In AZ... CD Release At Yucca

We got to Yucca just a little after 9. Walking in was disjointing, as a lot of changes have been made, the biggest being that the stage has moved from the west wall, to the east wall. Initially it was weird, and walking past that section to get past the stage made you feel like you were naked. Maybe that is why it was a quick march to the front of the bar where Aaron was propped up on a bar stool. With news that Strange Young Things weren't going on until 11, it was quickly decided to head out to Dean's.

For us it turned out to be a comical affair, as Roeder sped off into the night on the 101, leaving us far behind. [smile] After completely missing where he got off, we turned around, and then promptly went the wrong way down Chandler Blvd. Once we hit Kyrene we decided that it was best for us...well, for everyone involved, to abort and head back to Yucca. It had certainly been a long day, particular for Katie with all the driving around the valley we'd done, evident by here nature draw to turn right off the 101 to get to Yucca. Thankfully having my bearings (at least in Tempe, if not in Chandler) avoided another long drive in the wrong direction.

On returning to Yucca, The Rebel Set has just started playing. By the stage was deafening - I have always had a problem with the full band sound at Yucca, and this was no exception. We headed back to the front of the bar and sat around while the band played. Once they'd finished, I went out for a smoke, stopping on the way out to pick up a When In AZ... drop (download) card.

Standing out the back of Yucca, I commented to Katie that it was weird not seeing anyone you recognized at Yucca - not even Venus was behind the bar. Ironically, about 2 minutes later Branon (former owner of The Last Exit Bar & Grill) walked in. After finishing the smoke, we walked in, in perfect time as Strange Young Things started playing virtually immediately.

Y'know how said I've never liked the full band sound at Yucca? That changed when Strange Young Things took the stage! Holy cow! Admittedly the full bands I've seen at Yucca is limited (The Black Moods, Flathead, Necronaughts) verses more striped down acoustic performances, but I'd never heard it sound as good at Yucca. An immediate standout aspect of the performance was that whoever was on the skins (not Rich) was thumping the complete shit out of them and was really impressive. Overall, the show was a lot like I would have expected / imagined - Corey hamming it up, and the band completely rocking out. One aspect that was surprising was how many new songs they played, considering that Look What They've Done To My Champagne Music came out under a year ago.

It was somewhat of a shorter set, which I'd have expected given the who When In AZ... lineup of 5 bands. But we still got quite a few of songs of the record - When In Rome, Left Breast Pocket, Get Your Fire For Free, Lonely Hearts Are Wild. The awesomeness of Strange Young Things was apparent in the new (and unfamiliar) songs - in that they were as enjoyable to watch / hear as everything off the album. Can this band do any wrong? At this point, it seems not. Before they'd gone on, Katie said she expected to see me up the front, since we drove 20 hours for show, and certainly throughout and after I was convinced the performance was absolutely worth it (well, combined with what we've already, and plan to in the next few days) achieve in Phoenix.

After their set I introduced myself to Nick who put the compilation together and I'd emailed a few weeks ago. Once Kirkwood Dellinger started up, we moved back to the front of Yucca to chat. Funnily enough a few songs were recognizable from hearing them so much on Point Of Ventre. After which, it seeming like time to. All things considered, and with how wiped she was, I was surprised that Katie held on up until this point. I'd seen Strange Young Things, picked up the compilation and chatted to Nick, basically everything I wanted to achieve was done, so I was fine to go. It was funny to step outside and realize that it was 1 o'clock!! The only band we ended up missing was Source Victoria, which was fine by me. We're going to have plenty of time and opportunity to catch them in the future anyway.

Funny part of the night - obviously getting to go back to Yucca, it's hard to not to think of it's best regular, the King Of Last Call, if only briefly. I'd kinda thought about the possibility of seeing Steve at some point, but didn't expect to see an appearance, pretty much because of the genre of the bands playing tonight. But sure enough, after Strange Young Things played, in walked someone under a dark baseball hat, black sleeveless shirt, shorts and sandles - the recognizable Larson outfit. I guess it goes to show, some things at Yucca just don't change! [wink]

Houses, Houses and Houses

Surprisingly, given the last 2 days of driving, and the rather late night last night, there wasn't much issue waking up early this morning. In no short part due to the drive of getting things worked out.

We were out of here by 10, headed back to Phoenix. Our first stop, after Quicktrip for sodas, was to pick up the latest Phoenix New Times, to get our nightly calendar for the week that we're here sorted out. With that under controll we made a start on checking out the few houses that we've been looking at online. The first, stop was the one in Mesa that we saw a while ago, but has since been sold. The location didn't seem as great as it seemed on the map, but everything about the place, including the neighborhood looked like it unfortunate that it sold.

From there, it was back west to south Phoenix by South Mountain, to the territorial style place that I love on the outside, but the floor plan didn't seem idea. It too seemed a bit further out than I expected, and it seemed like the land looked a lot bigger in the photos. It was definitely obvious that the views from the roof balconies it had would be amazing though. Forgetting about the view of South Mountain, it looked like you'd have a complete view of the valley given the incline it was on.

From there we circled around South Mountain to the larger, but less cool looking place in Awatukee. The location of this one, particular after driving there, seemed so perfect. However, on taking a look at the outside of the house, the condition of it certainly came into question. A while ago I questioned whether it wasn't a party house, and looking at it in real life, that idea seems more likely. While we'd probably still give it a look, from the outset it looked like more work than it's worth, given that peaking in the windows we immediately saw holes in the walls.

From there we went over to our 1pm meeting with a realtor, which all went smoothly.

With that out of the way around 3, we headed up towards the last house on our list, in north Phoenix. The further north we got, and particular after we passed Camelback Mountain, the frequency of "wow, this place is too far" really increased. Particularly once we finally got to where the house was. However, after a few minutes from looking at the house from the outside, all that gibber jabber started to dissipate! Because this place was gorgeous and I think we were both even more impressed with it than we had been with the photos online. And awesome territorial style house, with the perfect desert landscaped garden boot. In hindsight I can't believe I didn't take any photos of the place.

After spending a good deal of time salivating over the place, we headed back south, swung by the storage facility and dropped off some other stuff Katie had left at Aaron's while in Australia. Since we had a bit of time to kill before meeting Aaron at yucky we went down to Zia Records. Funnily enough, was the cheapest visit to Zia Records I've ever had - invariably because there is so fewer CD's that I need these days. Obviously we were headed straight to the "Local" section at the back of the store. The only thing I found that we absolutely needed to pick up was Domo's Baby Mercury, which was pretty sweet to find, because I stupidly wouldn't have thought to look for it. Other than that we found Gloritone's Cup Runnith Over. Walking out of Zia's with only two CD's is such a rarity. And as it turned out, with our Zia card (which was still valid and had points), we got the Domo CD for half price. Thank you Zia!

We then went for a drive down Mill, since we'd spent 'rush hour' in Zia, with the plan to head to TGI Friday's for dinner - which, considering that we hadn't eaten all day (it's been that busy!) sounded like sound a fantastic idea! Driving over the Mill bridge, I noticed Tempe Beach Park filled with flags, which made me realize that it's of course September 11. So we circled around, since it seemed like such a good photo. That turned into a whole unsuccessful debarkle, and we aborted, deciding to come back later as the flags will still be up until Monday. So with that unintentially substantial diversion, we headed out to Mesa for some grub.

On getting there, we discovered that not only is our favorite Fuddruckers gone (which I knew about), so too is the TGI Fridays close by! Damn you global financial crisis, and damn you Buller for being so out of date! ;-) So from Mesa, we ended up traveling all the way back west to Arizona Mills and finally got to fix our hunger at the Five And Dinner. It was the first chance that I've had to properly scan the New Times listings for shows. Although I'd been planning to do that on the road, there has been no time to do that, with too much other stuff to take in.

After dinner we ending up killing some more time at Arizona Mills, before Aaron was at Yucca wondering where the hell we were...

Hello Tempe Arizona

We hit Phoenix around 4:45pm, coming through Glendale, and the traffic on the 17 was nice pretty much the whole way around downtown Phoenix, and we were on schedule to meet our appointment at the storage facility at 5pm. And then we hit the Phoenix traffic close to the 60....and there went our whole being on time thing.

Nether the less we got there before 5:30pm, got our storage space, and unloaded the car. Unloading the car made me realize just how much stuff we managed to bring in this load - it was quite impressive! The clothes bag we brought for the roof rack worked wonderfully. Given all thee rain we drove through at various places along the way, spending the extra money on the $50 one felt really good. After unloading everything and loading it into the storage unit, we both felt pretty wiped - and I felt reasonably sick - just the two days of driving, Tempe's heat and the work of unloading the car. While being feeling sick, feeling that way with a vibrant sunset over Tempe, and saguaros all around wasn't that bad. It was rewarding that the sick feel was due to the effort to make it to Tempe, which we'd pulled off successfully. We decided that our plan from here was to get some food and head to Casa Grande.

Burger King was close by. In the process of getting there, we crossed over Southern and noticed that Yucca have a new cool sign on the side of the building. While I didn't feel hungry - actually, the thought of food made me feel sicker, after having some huge gulps of the Coke, I started to feel better and was glad that I got some food.

Soon later we made it to Casa Grande, and to Aaron's. who is graciously putting us up for the week. It's been fun shooting the shit about music with him, and sort of unfortunate that after tomorrow he's leaving for Folsome and so we won't have much time to hang with him until we return.

Stephen Ashbrook @ Martini Ranch

The other week we chatted with Stephen Ashbrook about Martini Ranch and that he'd been playing out there sometime soon. We just got into Tempe last night, and as it turns out, Stephen is playing at Martini Ranch tomorrow night! Not sure yet whether he's solo or with the full band, but it looks like we should go, although there are a lot of things going on tomorrow night.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Onwards To Arizona

Texas, New Mexico and The Grand Canyon State

Our aim was to hit the road at 7am this morning, much like yesterday we didn't quite hit that, but weren't too far off our target. If we'd skipped breakfast, we probably would have been closer, but when are we ones to pass up a free continental breakfast? Never, that is the answer. We were both impressed with the Texas shaped waffles on offer at the Baymont Inn. It turned out to be a really nice place to stay, especially given the super cheap price we paid - and all of our clothes were still on the roof of Pepe when we went out to load up the car. Sweet! [wink] So we were back out on there road by 7:40am.

The drive through Texas was much like that of yesterday - quite flat! A little way out of Amarillo there was a lot of fog, however that lifted as the morning wore on. As we approached the border, the landscape changed a little, beginning to look a bit more like the landscape of New mexico that I remember from a few years ago. Which was further true once we crossed over the New Mexico border. Gaining the extra hour was quite appreciated too! We stopped for gas, not that far over the border. Getting out of the car for a smoke, things felt closer to home - just the landscape, the large mountain behind the gas station, everything looking a bit more Mexican / native American.

The drive through New Mexico was really nice, and really much more scenic than yesterday's drive. Once we hit Albequeque things started to became a lot more familiar, as the route to Arizona from there is basically what we took in 2006. A little after midday we stopped for gas again at a look out over the Continental Divide, which was really cool. The mountains were quite beautiful, in the typical New Mexico way.

Hitting the Arizona border was pretty exciting for obvious reasons. It was cool that the highway leading up was familar with the red cliffs to the south of the highway. Just like every other border crossing in the past two days, the change in landscape was obvious around the border. While northern Arizona doesn't quite have the same landscape as southern Arizona / the Sonoran desert, it did feel quite at home.

It was funny the number of Stephen Ashbrook related things we saw along the 40 - the first being the Meteor Crater - which at the show Stephen told a story about he and his band took a road trip diversion to check it out, was appalled by the $13 entry fee, which doesn't get onto the crater, and opted for going through a hole in the fence and sitting up on the crater, before long with the fuss at the bottom waiting for them. The prelude being that they got away with a warning, and paying the $13, since they'd gotten to see the crater!

Then we passed a souvenir place called "Geronimo". The change in temperatures was definitely noticeable, and confirmed that we were in Arizona! Of course, not that long out of Flagstaff the temperature dramatically dropped, with a huge dark cloud over Flagstaff. Driving through Flagstaff the heavens opened, and it continued to pour rain as we were heading south out of Flagstaff, really slowing us down. Which was slightly annoying, since we were starting to race against the clock to get to Tempe by 5pm to unload the car at the storage unit.

It was pretty exciting for me as the landscape changed again, from the pine tree / Colorado like look around Flagstaff changed more and more to the desert, and eventually the first saguaro cacti emerged on the landscape. We had to make a stop in Black Canyon City for gas - the small town looked really nice, though we didn't have much time to take it in, as it was about 4:30. I'd definitely be somewhere that we'd like to come back to some time, maybe when we're not racing against the clock. [smile] After filling up, we kept on trucking, Katie relying on me to get her back to the I-17, rather than Buller.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Time To Roll

One day of traveling down, we're here in Amarillo, TX. Virtually half way between Warsaw, MO and Phoenix, AZ.

Last night was a late one, slightly reminiscent of packing, but a hell of a lot stressful and painful. Hell, we actually got more than an hour's sleep, so it was only slightly reminiscent of that experience. Really the only thing that made putting together our new first load of stuff was getting some web development work finished before leaving.

All in all, while we were planning to be gone by 7am, the extra packing that we didn't get on the road by 8am, but all things considered, that wasn't too bad.

Just shy of Springfield in Bolivar we stopped for some supplies and extra straps for the roof rack, which also put us behind a bit. Pretty much just getting them on. Otherwise it's been a very smooth and good trip, aside from the pissing rain from Springfield until a little after we crossed the Oklahoma border.

Somewhere along the way it was strange to realize that despite the fact that we are literally road tripping half way across the USA, Oklahoma is technically my only new state (out of Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona). With that said, previously I've only spent a few hours in Fort Worth at the airport for a layover.

Oklahoma was nice to travel through, and it still amazes me how US states are physically distinguishable. Oklahoma, while neighbouring looked vasted different to Missouri, reminding my somewhat of New Mexico - moreso with red dirt rather than red rock, but still. And again, the landscape changed soon after crossing the Texas border. Not to far across the border it became apparent to me that the Texas landscape reminded me of that of rural Australia. The most noticeable thing about the Texas (northern Texas at least) landscape - holy crap it's flat! I've seen flat plains before in different places, but northern Texas really takes the whole flat plains to an impressive extreme!

All in all, we arrived at the hotel just after 7:30pm, which was not bad, all things considered. Katie Pricelined the room, which we got for $41, which is pretty sweet, since it's a fairly nice place. Priceline has treated us fairly good thus far actually. thank you William Shatner! ;-)

So after a rest tonight, it's another early start, the final 11 and a half hours to Phoenix / Tempe.

The Trek To Arizona Begins

Tomorrow morning we set out on our first (of two) trips out to Arizona.

I'd be remiss to not quote Marc Norman at this point...

"My life is packed in a suitcase
This room isn't my home
22 hours from Phoenix
And vacant roads I don't know"

Particular since we actually are about 22 hours Phoenix. And since they won't be roads I don't know the on the second trip...

We'll be out there for about a week, returning to Warsaw for a bit longer, and then moving our asses back out to the Sonoran desert for the final time.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

International Space Station Over The Night Sky

Over dinner we caught wind that the International Space Station was going to be visible tonight at 8:59, and decided that we should check it out. It was apparently going to visible from the south west, so over dinner I attempted to estimate what direction south west was.

I've been working on code tonight, and hence didn't bring up Google Maps zoomed in on the house until a few minutes before the event. Even with the map in front of us, it was difficult to tell where we were supposed to look. Why? Try living in the boon docks and you'll understand. [wink] So as it hit 8:57 we hurried upstairs and out onto the patio, still arguing which direction south west was.

Since the night was so clear, I figured that we had a decent chance of seeing it without working out the direction in which to be looking. The only challenge we faced was the amount of trees surrounding us. However after a minute or so of joking that we wouldn't see it because we couldn't work out where south west was, Katie spotted it, from the get go obscured by the huge tree next to the porch. A pretty cool sight, like a confused shooting star, heading up, rather than down. After about 30 seconds it had cleared the tree, and not long after, started to curve and fly across the sky above us. It was quite impressive how bright, and hence visible it was. The sighting lasted a good few minutes until it started to fade (rather quickly at one point) off in the north east.

Pretty cool to see. And I will say that my sense of direction ain't half bad - the point where we initially saw it was pretty much exactly the direction I was pointing while eating dinner. Even when I'm twisted around out here, I can still get my bearings obviously.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

No Suck Promise Delivered

Stephen Ashbrook @ Davey's Uptown Ramblers Club

Stephen Ashbrook gives a "no suck promise" on his live shows, and he definitely delivered on that last night.

It was a few weeks ago that we noticed that he was playing in Des Moines, looked up tour dates and saw that he was going to be coming to Kansas City. So it was about a 2 hour drive for us up to Kansas City.

On driving up to Davey's Uptown Ramblers Club both the area and bar looked impressively seedy, and since we it was close to an our before the show, we opted for driving around a bit, rather than killing time in the bar. We came across a World War I monument, and looked around there until about 7:20, and then headed back to the car. After trying to find the safest place to park, we walked over to the bar - and then realized there was parking in the rear, so we moved the car which made us both feel better.

On entering the bar, it became apparent that looks were deceiving, because inside wasn't as alarming as it looked driving up. After taking our cover charge, Michelle, the waitress set us up at the bar. Inside was quite dark, with most of the lighting coming from the red neon signs, and with Stephen off to the side talking to people, it was very reminencent of being at the Yucca Tap Room. Small dark, divey but good feeling bar, waiting to hear some Tempe musician (despite the fact that he moved to Portland years ago, for me - and many people I'm sure), Ashbrook will always be a Tempe guy), it completely had that familiar Yucca Tap Room feel.

Stephen took the stage at 8, kicked off with songs from the new CD White Balloons. We'd been discussing the album the other day, and Katie mentioned how she didn't particularly like the sound / production of the new album, but was interested in hearing what they'd be like stripped down and more traditional Ashbrook sounding, figured she'd probably enjoy them more. Right after playing You Are Here and 21 Young, that idea was certainly confirmed. They're not particular favorites of mine of the new album, but they sounded great stripped back to just Stephen with an acoustic guitar. For me, You Are Here was particularly awesome acoustic.

Having listened so much to Ashbrook live recordings, most everytime he spoke ("welcome out", "thank you" etc) it was really like "wow, I'm finally seeing Ashbrook").

Not surprisingly, early on he played Kansas City, and anyone who has been reading my blog out late knows that I've quoted the lyrics ("sitting in a holiday in, outside Kansas City. Sipping on a warm beer, poking out cold chinese") almost every time I've been to Kansas City in the last 3 months (particularly when we stayed in a Holiday Inn [smile] ). So it was really cool when he gave the back story on the song - touring with a band, getting stuck in Kansas City due to tornados; his friend would get the beer, and he'd be the one to get the chinese food. Funnily enough, a while ago I mentioned to Katie that it'd be cool to find out which Holiday Inn it was (because I'm a geek like that), and as part of the story he described it as one with a mini golf course in the middle of it. So we no doubt need to research that. [smile]

As for the set, it was a typical Ashbrook set - long, and including pretty much everything that you wanted to hear. He starting taking / encouraging requests fairly early on. I took a photo of the set list after the first set, and looking it in highensight, the requests from the crowd were definitely what drove the show.

Early on he played Geronimo, which was great to hear, and was the only new song that didn't sound better acoustic. Not that surprising, just because the album version of that song is perfect. Obviously hearing Rock N Roll was great and I took video of it.

Towards the end when he played Fastest Car one woman in the crowd encouraged many of the other females to get up and dance by the stage (the stage only really being defined by two monitors on the floor in front of Stephen) including Katie which was kinda cool. Towards the end he also pulled out a "obsquire cover" - Just Like Heaven by The Cure. Very cool to get to see that. I wish I'd taken video of it.

After the show we went up to grab some CD - I've been waiting for ever to get Double Live @ Long Wongs and we'd discussed that we really should get White Balloons. There was also a t-shirt, so I was hoping to replace my "I don't need to be discovered because I was never lost" t-shirt that was stolen in Arizona. So we waited up the front while he chatted and talked to some people. Then he came over and said hi, and introduced himself, and we said how Katie had seen him before and that I'd been a fan for quite a while but this was my first show. He mentioned that one of his rock climbing buddies had just returned to Melbourne, and was interested in the fact that we were moving out to Arizona. Without much explanation he was all over the fact that it was the music scene taking us out there. And that right there is one of the reasons why Stephen Ashbrook is really cool. He hasn't lived there for years, but still knows the importance of it. He talked a bit about the old days and how easy it was to play 5 times a week, how the smoking ban (introduced years ago) really hurt the scene, and of course the "Long Wongs Smell". [smile] Before saying bye, we mentioned that we were after some CD's. On asking for Double Live and White Balloons, he informed us of his "2 for $20 deal". Double Live was $15 and White Balloons was $12. Unfortunately he didn't have any of the right sized t-shirts with him, so we passed on that for now.

But that right there is why you should support artists like Stephen Ashbrook. Aside from his music being great - it was $5 dollars each as the cover, for 2 and a half hours of entertainment, and then sells 2 of his CD's for $20. How can you beat that? That's right, you can't.

So all in all it was a really enjoyably night. It was also really cool to get to see him out here, because without a doubt we'll see him in Arizona (which he always returns to for shows), but those shows are really packed, so it was really cool to have gotten to see him in a small bar, in an acoustic setting (Arizona shows are normally fully band) with only a handful (not that it wasn't a good turn out) of people.

The aforementioned video of Rock-n-Roll...

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

When In AZ Tracklist

The When In AZ compilation is released today. I was able to check out the track listing last night before i crashed, and liked what I saw. Of particular note are the old school (in my mind Strange Young Things are old school, even though they're not) Tempe bands contributions:

  • Strange Young Things - C14N14 (The Sugar Thieves)
  • Jim Bachman - My Guardian Angel (The Pistoleros)
  • Truckers On Speed - A (Dead Hot Workshop)
  • The Sugar Thieves - Left Breast Pocket (Strange Young Things)
  • Los Guys - Scarlet Harlot (Shelby James & The Cryin' Shames)
I'm looking forward to hearing the vocal treatment that Meridith gives to Left Breast Pocket.

While I'm committed to waiting until the release show at Yucca Tap on the 11th to get the compilation (which is probably a wise thing - given the download restrictions on Hughsnet, and the compilation weighing in at 55 songs) I really can't wait to hear the above tracks.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Violet Wild On Local Frequency

Ironically, after having a long conversation on the way back from Wheaton the other day about Violet Wild, we're listening to them on Local Frequency (The Edge) tonight. Even more ironic is that part of that conversation was how in my mind they're due for some new stuff (although the album came out a year ago, it's all effectively from 2006) and the first track they played may be a new song. Or admittedly a cover, we can't 100% tell. It'd be nice to think it's a new original in anycase.

A short and succinct appearance on the air (also playing Bump On The Head and Glorious Day), no doubt to promote the upcoming show with Better Than Ezra at the Marquee. Which luckily Katie had the presence of mind to try win pre-sale tickets for ("oh yeah, that's right, we'll be there by then!"). Due to a scramble to determine the number to text, we probably missed out, but it's a nice reminder (to me at least) that my first Violet Wild show may be opening for Better Than Ezra.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Blaze Keeping My From Hearing Strange Young Things

What a major disappointment. Today at 2, the organizers of When in AZ were to be promoting the compilation, with Kirkwood Dillinger and Strange Young Things. Sweet....

Funnily enough, we commented this morning that we wished / hoped that Strange Young Things would be up first so that we had the option of skipping Kirkwood. As it turned out, it would have been really nice if they had of been, as the Blaze's Shoutcast server died right after Kirkwood/Dillinger. Argh!

I know it's college radio, but it's pretty frustrating given that I really wanted to hear Strange Young Things and catch their in studio performance.

At least there is a listening party in a few hours on Radio Phoenix. Probably won't give me my Strange Young Things fix, but at least we should get to learn more about the compilation.

In other news, today has been the first time I've tuned into The Blaze for a while / since being here (can you say 'Hughsnet Fair Access Policy'?? [wink]) and 'The Blaze 1330 AM' definitely sounds weird.

I guess in a few weeks we'll be able to drive to ASU and sit in the car and listen if this were to happen again. [smile]

Now Playing: Not The Blaze 1330 AM

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Seizures Has Arrived

Katie came in this afternoon after a trip to the mailbox, and our copy of Seizures arrived today. Pretty good turn around time given that it was released on the 21st in Oz (effectively the 22nd here) so it only took 4 days to get to east jesus Warsaw Missouri. Unfortunately sans the fridge magnet that their website mentioned was included in the Limited Edition CD/DVD pre-order deal. Oh well.

My initial thoughts are that it doesn't grab me as much as their other releases, in no short part due to the different sound, although I was expecting it. Which admittedly Too B Or Not Too B is their only album that clicked instantly. Both United Paper People and Hymns took a bit for me to get into, so maybe that's all that Seizures needs.

There is something really ironic about moving to the US (and more specifically Arizona) being really good for making CD purchases I want to make easier and cheaper, but the second CD I buy once over here is an international order from JB HiFi! Will the need to import CD's end. (With the exception of Kisschasy, the answer is actually inevitably 'yes'. [smile] Give me Zia Records on University and local shows, and typically that should be all I need).

RCPM Board To Move

There is something comical to be found in the fact that a little under a year since the Peacemakers Watering Hole as we knew it (well, with remnants of how we knew it) was shut down and moved migrated to a corporate message board hosting environment, it's moving again because the company (Echo Music) went bust.

In related news, last Friday while killing time at Borders in Lee's Summit Katie came across a book that had the petrogyph logo that people were mentioning years ago.

When In AZ

I came across Where In AZ...Music Compilation last night by virtue of The Blaze's twitter feed. Sounds like a really cool concept.

I'm yet to find a track list for the compilation, but the fact that Los Guys, Strange Young Things and Truckers On Speed are listed as contributors excites me.

As does the fact that we should be in Phoenix in time for at least one of those release shows!

Monday, August 24, 2009

One Jensen Comes Back, Another One Leaves

Wow, the wonders of going to bed at 10:30 means that I woke up at 6:30am and was up by 7 this morning. I think it was a shock to Shelly, who has experienced us crashing on her couch with jet lag and not waking up until after 10! [smile]

The kids left for school not long after that, which is kind sad that we probably won't get to see them for a while after we move, as it's quite unlikely that we're going to see them again before we move. Although, I thought that was the case the last time we were in Union, so stranger things have happened.

Christopher took off from work so he could join us in dropping off Brad at the airport. It was funny, at some point this morning, being envious of all the places in Europe Brad is going to see, and just in general getting to do the whole international traveling / living in a foreign country thing. At some point I had to stop with the memory that hello being envious of living in a foreign country is ridiculous, because I've been doing that for the last two months, and am shortly moving to Arizona! Hello, wakey wakey! Which I guess goes to getting used to living in the US (which I'm really glad about) even though we're still in the transitory stage.

The trip out to St. Louis airport was pretty cool, since I enjoy airports, and it's a US airport that I've not yet seen (though no doubt with the Union Jensen's living - well, in Union [wink] ) I'm sure I'll be flying to and from it at some point in the future!

Afterwards we headed back to Union and had lunch, and headed back to Warsaw earlish. We both felt that it'd be worthwhile not getting home too late, but no doubt also felt that we weren't in a rush, and hence were both in agreeance, without much discussion on stopping at Mermac Caverns. At $18 per person, we were also in agreeance that it wasn't something we really needed to do. Which is a shame, it would have made for a nice hour out of our day, but that's pretty rich for some stalagmites. So we hit the road again, going through Lebanon, which looked like a reasonably nice city.

As we got closer to Osage Beach, we decided that since we weren't in a huge rush, that we should try to take Interstate 7 home...since it was light, we could establish what the FUCK was going on that night coming back from the Bret Michaels show where Buller was hell bent on having us drive off the closed road (the old highway 7) into the lake. Coming from the east, it was all pretty easy to get on to the new highway 7, which seamlessly took us over the lake, rather than ending dead right before it. There was much commentary in the car as we went past the place were we got stuck that night. So there is that life mystery worked out!

Friday, August 21, 2009


Somwtimes spending 10 minutes deciding on lunch really pays off. Yaay for Chili's nachos & chispy chicken tacos!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Strange Young Things Nominated For Best Of Phoenix '09

Cool news - Strange Young Things is nominated for Best Local Artist in this year's Best Of Phoenix by the Phoenix New Times.

Over the past 12 months their album has been my third most played record (behind Charmers Green's Remedy For Everything and The Maine's Can't Stop, Won't Stop- both of which I've had longer than Champaign Music) and I don't even have the entire record yet. Which admittedly is going to be one of the first things I fix when we get to Phoenix! So my hope is that they take it out.

They really should given the competition - Silver Medallion, Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers, Carvin Jones Band, Strange Young Things, The Sugar Thieves, Rizir, Hemi Dave - only three I've heard of (SYT, RC&PM and The Sugar Thieves) and The Peacemakers even being on their seems like a joke.

Voting is happening here Phoenix New Times - Best Of Phoenix Poll.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Violet Wild Opening For Better Than Ezra

Via a myspace bulletin - Violet Wild are opening for Better Than Ezra on September 22nd at the Marquee. 3 thoughts:

  1. Sweet gig for Violet Wild
  2. Maybe they can break out Sick In Bed and In The Blood back to back [wink]
  3. We're scheduled to be in Arizona by then

Monday, August 10, 2009


Can someone please explain to me why on earth MTV is airing Scrubs? It's great for my Scrubs fix, but WTF?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Bret Michaels @ The Horny Toad

So, after much deliberation, we decided to go to see Bret Michaels tonight. I wasn't sure what to expect, which made for it not being an easy decision at $50 a ticket, but at the same time, it was too hard to pass up being not that far away, AND being a few days after seeing Poison.

The drive down to Lake Ozark was pretty nice, and made for a good opportunity to listen to the new Better Than Ezra album that we picked up the show.

The show was at The Horny Toad, the whole area was upscale and resort-y, and luckily we were able to pull off a sneaky coop and park for free. On walking down to get tickets we saw Bret's tour bus etc., which would have been more exciting, but of course I'd seen it and taken my photo by it on Tuesday night at the Poison show.

The venue was pretty cool, though clearly has some design issues with the positioning of the stage and stage side bar. After unsuccessfully trying to get a table (phoning and booking one would have been smart) we took up a position down by the stage. And waited. And waited. [wink] The house band was playing - since it was such a later decision to go to the show, we got their later than we probably otherwise would have, but still, the two hour wait seemed pretty long.

At 9 it looked like something was going to happen, however there were 3 fake intros, someone from Rock Of Love coming out, so by 9:15 I was ready for getting the sho on the road. Once the band came out I was really glad that we'd made the trek and forked out the money for it.

We'd opted for staying down the back to avoid having to deal with the drunks, which seemed like a good idea, until in front of us filled up at the very last minute. I'd told myself that it was okay, since I really only needed to pay attention to Bret, but I was actually impressed by the entire band. And ironically, we may have had to deal with less drunks (or at least less people walking around) closer to stage. In anycase, the entire band rocked, the drummer was particularly impressive to watch, and the bass player looked uncannily like Tim Minchon.

It was a high energy show. My expectation was a few Poison songs and the majority of the show being Bret's solo material. So the decision to come was solidified as the broke right into the Poison back catalog, which they continued for the whole show, only playing two Bret Michaels Band songs, and three covers. It was certainly cool getting to rock out to the Poison material in a more intimate setting, which clearly from Tuesday night it's obvious that that's something you're not going to get at Poison show, given how they're still packing the arenas to this day.

Another thing that was great was that the solo stuff they played were the rockers - first Go That Far, which Bret introduced as the theme song for Rock Of Love and Bittersweet which I was actually somewhat familiar with and really dig. The set list went something like...

  1. Look What The Cat Dragged In
  2. Talk Dirty To Me
  3. ? Go That Far
  4. ? Knockin' On Heeaven's Door
  5. Bittersweet
  6. Fallen Angel
  7. ?Something To Believe In
  8. ?Sweet Home Alabama
  9. ?Drift Away
  10. Every Rose Has It's Thorn
  11. Unskinny Bop
  12. Encore
  13. Nothin' But A Good Time
With I Want Action and Your Mama Don't Dance somewhere in the mix I'm pretty sure.

Another appreciated thing was that after Unskinny Bop Bret announced that they weren't going to fuck around with walking off stage, and ripped right into the encore, which was really cool. Admittedly this could have just been because they'd gone on 15 minutes late, but I thought it was really cool, and wish that happened at more shows. Do away with the whole killing time and the vibe and keep the party rockin' I say!

After the show it seemed like something was going on right of stage, which turned out to be Rock Of Love ladies there for photo opportunities - and photo opportunities with the C.C DeVille from Poison Overdose, a local Poison tribute band. He seemed to be in demand the whole night after the show, and funnily enough I kept doing double takes, thinking I'd just seen C.C out of the corner of my eye, and checking to confirm it was the guy from Poison Overdose.

We checked out the merch table, which was future proof to why Poison can take 12 buses out on tour. There is no shortage of smart business going on, with about 6 different shirts for Bret Michaels Band, CD's, countless glossy photos of Bret, DVD's, bandannas. There are some bands *cough* that really could take a leaf out of the Bret Michaels book of money making. Case in point, we donated another $40 to his kids trust fund, getting a t-shirt and CD. I shudder to think about he amount of money we've put into the Bret Michaels/Poison bank account in the past week!

After the purchases, we hung around to see whether something was going to happen. The rest of the band came out, and there was the local Ozarks Fox TV crew out, given the whole Rock Of Love factor, but no sign of Bret Michaels. At least not before we left at about 11:45 anyway.

Thankfully we didn't have any problem getting out of where we parked the car. Funnily enough, we'd commented on how nice the drive up had been. The drive back wasn't as enjoyable, as Buller was dead set on having us drive into the lake. The whole debarkle occurred where the 5 meets the 7. Buller was convinced that we should proceed into the lake where the 5 ended, and continually had us turning around to try have us do it again. Being pitch black, despite attempts I couldn't get us onto the 7 either. Looking at what was going on, Buller's maps were out of date, as we were on the old highway 5, not the new highway 5. Katie was quite mad at Buller, but in her defense, Google maps is out of date in the same way also. Either way, we got home ago after backtracking back to Camdon. Not before Katie seeing a UFO and Buller taking us back down this dirt road past Baptist Camp - which she was convinced was the work of the aliens, overtaking Buller to take us to Baptist Camp. hahahaha. [smile]

Thank You Metal Mania

VH1's Metal Mania is so reliable. On noticing it was on, I told Katie that hopefully they'd play a Poison video that Rob Stevenson was in so I could point out where I recognized him from.

We've been sitting here for maybe an hour, and without fail, here's Every Rose Has It's Thorn.

Thank you Metal Mania / VH1 Classic!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Sitting In A Holiday Inn, Outside Kansas City

Okay, this time we're actually in a Holiday Inn, but it's also technically inside Kansas City. But it's enough for me to quote Stephen Ashbrook's Kansas City. Before we came here, we'd considered getting chinese, so we could be "looking down a warm beer and poking at cold chinese", however we haven't.

In anycase, last night was Toad The Wet Sprocket at Harrahs Casino, and tonight is a free Better Than Ezra show before we head back to Warsaw.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I Went To Bed Too Late, And Got Up Too Soon

Given that we crashed after 3am last night, and were awake by 9:30am, the opening lines from Look What The Cat Dragged In rang true for me this morning. Immediately on waking up my head was hurting - maybe not from too much booze, as per the song, but neither the less, the song seemed quite appropriate this morning.

We got on the road a little after 10, headed back to Des Moines, Iowa to see some sights that we missed out on last time and to have a movie night with Dianna.

On getting into Des Moines Katie tried to replace her falling apart glasses before we headed out to Walnut Woods Sate Park. It seemed like it had changed a fair bit since we were last there, looking a lot more park like down by the creek than when I was there, my memory of which was walking through a lot of brush.

After that we drove out to Urbandale to meet up with Diana. With much indecison about where to eat, or whether to eat at all, I made the executive decision to go to Fuddruckers. Which was a good decision because a) I was really starting to feel quite weak from the late night and no food and b) it was pretty cool getting to eat at a Fuddruckers in West Des Moines. After which I felt much better - well, still tired, but better, and we headed back to watch Young Frankenstien and Spaceballs.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Poison @ Sprint Center, Kansas City

The first half of my birthday was reasonably uneventful. Despite our original plan to leave for Kansas City by 2, we didn't make it onto the road until 2:45. Which was also immediately delayed when we couldn't get the GPS to work, and thought the connection had broken off the power source socket. After about five frustrating minutes of trying to pry it out, we thankfully realized that the end of the GPS wasn't stuck in there, before doing any damage. As it turned out, the end of the GPS had come apart in the backseat, parts of which we'd found the other day and had no idea what there were. Thankfully, we still had all that parts, got everything back together and were able to hit the road once again.

On the way, more about the show unfolded. Since uncovering that my present was seeing Poison on my birthday, I've particularly not asked Katie any questions or looked up any information. So, along the way, she revealed that the gig was Cheap Trick, Poison and Def Leppard. And hence, unfortunately the Poison set was going to be shorter than if they were opening. But still, back in the day I was into Def Leppard, and seeing Cheap Trick would be cool. It was a nice drive up to Kansas City, of course with the hits of Poison playing.

On getting there we found the Sprint Center easily enough, and set out to find some cheap parking - some lots were $10, some were $20, both pretty expensive. I was cool to just drive around, but in the back of my head I was aware that Katie might have something planned, and hence time might be an issue. But before long we found some street parking just a few streets away.

On getting out of the car and getting ready, Katie handed me my present, which I jumped back into the car to open - by which point it was about 5:10pm. I opened them up to find a set of drumsticks (which turned out to be Rikki Rockett stick) guitar picks, a Poison coloring book, bandanna and t-shirt - all of which I was pretty stoked with as it was. Once I'd gotten a brief look at everything, Katie interrupted saying "and you may notice I'm also wearing a Poison t-shirt...because part of your present is also a VIP backstage tour at 5:30, so...we've got to go!". Which was clearly part of this whole thing that she'd managed to keep a secret! Unaware of whether I needed to be wearing the VIP t-shirt in the package, I threw it on over my OTHER Poison t-shirt, and was ready to roll. Which kinda made the effort put into looking for my other Poison t-shirt last night funny.

So, we needed to find the box office to pick up the tickets, and getting from the back of the Sprint Center to the front proved to be quite a pain. Ironically, we walked up where a bunch of Def Leppard fans were no doubt waiting for their VIP tour to begin. We made it around to the front, noticing that the Power And Light District was right across from the Sprint Center (where Better Than Ezra are playing on Friday night), and found where the Poison VIP tour crowd was congregating. We quickly got our tickets and went over there. Ironically, we weren't on the list, but were added without a problem by the guy running the show, no doubt because the ticket said the ticket price.

After a bit of waiting around, the guy giving the tour did some introductions - introducing himself as Rob Stevenson, whose name I immediately recognized from the Sight For Sore Ears video, and the kid handing out the laminates as Zac Dall - Bobby Dall's son. Too cool. Katie said that she could tell it was Bobby's son as soon as she saw them. Rob ran through all the rules, and I particularly liked his rules about the band - "Treat this like you are at the zoo. The band are wild animals. DO NOT approach the wild animals, let them come to you.". He also explained that the Def Leppard backstage experience was food and drink backstage, where as his was a tour and a rundown of how everything works backstage, which is clearly a lot cooler.

We headed into the arena, which in itself was a cool experience. As we went down through general admission, past all the seats, I thought how cool it'd be to have one of those seats for the show. Given the whole thing was a surprise and exciting, I hadn't had time to think about it much, and still figured that we'd probably have seats pretty far back. The first part of the tour was to go up on stage, so we waited for a bit however, Bun E. Carlos started soundchecking, so Rob abandoned that part of the tour for the moment, and took us through the backstage area.

We went past Bret and C.C's dressing room, with the first stop being Bobby Dall's dressing room. A great thing with Rob's tour is that it really wasn't rushed, and there was plenty of time to check everything out.

From there, we went out the the back of the arena where all the gear trucks and Leppard's buses were. Rob gave a rundown of what went on back there, and that Poison had 12 buses on this tour, each worth a measly $800,000 each! He also gave a rundown on their lighting rigs, and the fact that on this tour they were allowed to have their own lightning, pyro and could use Lep's led screen but couldn't use their confetti because "Def Leppard doesn't want to clean up the stage". And then recounted how they weren't allowed to use pyro on the Kiss tour a few years ago because pyro was "Kiss' shtick". Which did absolutely make me think how tonight is going to be awesome, but I'd also love to get to see a Poison headlined show in the future.

Their buses were parked out the back of the arena, so we headed out there, and Rob took groups of 6 onto the bus for a tour, and gave us a rundown of the buses, and the fact that the one we were on was Bobby's up until a week ago.

After the bus, we went down for photo ops by Bret Michael's traveling gym, which had a huge advert for his new book. Both Katie and I were really impressed that they were lugging around a portable gym, and could afford to do so. Like we've been saying each time we'd gone into JB HiFi and passed the ever growing Poison rack of CD's, Poison is the new black! While out there, Rob explained that these days the guys have found ways to fill in their days to avoid the "problems" of the road that they've had in the past. Bret works out, Rikki takes his motorbikes on the road (the trailer for which was parked in front of Bret's bus), C.C runs and Bobby plays golf (which explains the golf clubs in his dressing room).

The tour went back inside, past the dressing rooms, and stopped abruptly with C.C DeVille standing outside of his dressing room. This was the only band member we saw one the whole tour, and I was very happy that if we were only going to see one band member, that it was C.C DeVille! In my mind it all happened really quickly, and there was may people scurrying to get a photo of C.C, including us. It would have been really cool if it was the days of C.C charging $1 for a handshake, $2 for a photo, because I would have gladly paid. We both think that if we'd been in a smaller group there might have been more opportunity to meet him, but apparently the VIP package tickets sold like hot cakes in Kansas City, because there were close to 20 people on the tour. It wasn't long before Rob called out "thanks Cecil" and ushered us back towards the stage. Probably to C.C's relief, as a few in the group were struggling with the "don't approach the wild animals" rule. [wink] Despite it all happening very quickly, and not getting to "meet" C.C per se, it was pretty fucking cool having the opportunity to stand within a few feet of my guitar hero since age 11!

The tour was supposed to only go for half an hour, but must have gone for longer as we didn't get to go up on stage because it was so close to show time. At some point on the tour I'd broke, and asked Katie about our seats, to which she told me that I'd "be really happy with them". And let's just say that I was - second row, right in the center, in front of the stage runway. We initially thought we would have been on the left (which would have been great as a C.C vantage point, but our actual seats were much better for an overall view of the whole stage). After getting to our seats, Katie went to get a drink and some food, and Cheap Trick came on moments later, at 7 on the dot.

Cheap Trick were enjoyable, but of course I'm not as familar with Cheap Trick as the other Jensen's. Obvious highlights were I Want You To Want Me, Surrender and The Flame, which I think was my favorite of the night. The throwing of the Kiss record into the crowd during Surrender was also really cool. Something completely expected by Katie, but like I said, I'm not as educated on what a Cheap Trick show entails. Another enjoyable factor was the handfuls of guitar picks that Rick would grab and throw out to the crowd.

There was only 15 minutes between sets, and pretty much right on 8pm the lights dimmed and the recognizable voice over boomed "Make welcome, all the way from Hollywood California, the grand slam kings of noise...POISON". Woo! Pretty cool that to this day they're still using that intro. And so, after 21 years of being a fan, I was finally getting to see them live! Our seats were amazing, I had a great view of everything, which wasn't lost of me, and was...just such the best way to get to finally see Poison for the first time! They came out, launching into Look What The Cat Dragged In. One of many things I really enjoyed was that C.C has his long hair back, which was teased. Albeit it wasn't as high as in 1988 [wink], but even so, was glammed up relative to him now being in his late 40's, which was...another thing that wasn't lost on me.

Despite being an opener, it was really worth the money, with them playing an hour, and getting through all the hits. There is no doubt that I'd love to see them headlining in the future and play for longer, but I absolutely didn't feel ripped off by the fact that they were opening. One thing that hit me pretty quickly was the fact's 20 years after their hayday, but the show really didn't feel like I was missing out not getting to see them back then - lighting was great, the sound was great, and they had the pyro and fireworks just as they would have back then. The only slightly disappointing thing, which had nothing to do with them, was that neither they, nor Cheap Trick were allowed to use the stage runway (though Robin and Rick did actually come about half way down it at one point). Now that would have really been something, as they would have been right on top of us if they could have. (Again, why weren't Poison the headliner!?!).

Their set list was:

  1. Intro
  2. Look What The Cat Dragged In
  3. Ride The Wind
  4. Fallen Angel
  5. Your Mama Don't Dance
  6. Guitar Solo
  7. Something To Believe In
  8. Drum Solo
  9. Every Rose Has It's Thorn
  10. Unskinny Bop
  11. Talk Dirty To Me
  12. Encore
  13. Nothin' But A Good Time

Despite being the openers, we still got both the C.C guitar solo and Rikki drum solos, both being abbreviated, which was appreciated given the hour stage time - but I was glad that they were still in the set.


  1. Ride The Wind - not something I would have expected given the shorter stage time, so that was really cool
  2. Fallen Angel - for no particular reason other than it was Fallen Angel and I rocked the fuck out to it
  3. Unskinny Bop - Bret and C.C doing a jam at the beginning that I've never head before. Something Poison do live that I haven't heard before? What a rarity! I will also say that, unlike probably the rest of the population, Unskinny Bop has never been one of my favorite Poison songs - but it sounded fucking great tonight! I also enjoyed Bret telling the roadie who ran out to take the acoustic guitar, that he wasn't ready because he was rocking out too much
The whole show was amazing, and was really as good of an experience as getting to see them back in 1988! Given the fact that they were openers, I wasn't expecting an encore per se, and wasn't sure what to think when they ended with Talk Dirty To Me and said their goodbyes without having played Nothin' But A Good Time. How would that be? Finally seeing them live and not getting Nothin' But A Good Time? But thankfully they came back out and launched into it, which was obviously another highlight.

Right after they finished, we went over to the left hand side of the stage to meet Rob to pick up our signed photographs. I couldn't work out why we had to wait, but Katie has since reminded me that the band signed them right before the show - so although we didn't get them signed in a meet and great setting, the actually were personally signed at the show.

After picking up the photos, we milled around near the sound desk while Def Leppard set up, and had a post game wrap up. Despite having been into Def Leppard at the time (and still enjoy listening to Hysteria from time to time) and it being a sweet deal getting to also see them, my load was blown on Poison. Despite having JUST seen them, get them back on stage, sign me up. Y'know, you get that after waiting 21 years I guess!

In anycase, we went back to our seats and waited for Def Leppard. Admitadly, their stage setup was quite impressive. And I can't help but be impressed how well all of these bands are doing, years and years after the fall of hair bands. Though, clearly there is a resurgance. Which was obvious to us last year after going to Monsters Of Rock 6 in Melbourne, with no shortage of tribute bands, even in Australia. And being here, clearly hair bands are the darlings of VH1 classic. To quote Josh Kennedy, "rock is fucking dead, right?". [smile]

It took me a couple of songs to really get into it, purely just because of coming off seeing Poison. It was pretty impressive how good the guys looked, definitely given their age - in particular the ripped Phil Collin. It took no time before different members strutted down the cat work, which futher rubbed in the fact that Poison didn't get to, and how unbelievable it would have been if they could have. I must say that suppressing openers when everyone on the bill is a huge international name is stupid. I actually hate it even when you've got unknowns opening - give everyone the same PA / sound / lighting, let the best band win. But even moreso when you've got three massive bands. Poison and their confetti I can understand when the headliner is going to come on 15 minutes later, but restricting openers to particular parts of the stage? Come on. Similarly, if an arena has screens, let everyone use them. It actually was no issue to me in this instance, because our seats were too good to even bother with the screens, but if we'd been way back, not really been able to see the stage and the screens hadn't been used for Poison I'd been really pissed. But anyways...

I'd expected Def Leppard to pull out a lot more newer songs, as I think they have a new record out, however I think they only played one new one, and otherwise belted through the greatest hits, which was quite enjoyable. They put on a good show, testament to that fact was that Katie, who has never resisted any bashing Def Leppard opportunities over the years (or bashing me because I liked Def Leppard) really enjoyed the show.

One of the highlights for me was Animal, again, something that I wouldn't have neccesarily thought they would have played. Another cool thing was that Phil Collin had a neck mounted camera on his guitar, which was really cool, and it's been quite a long time since I've seen one of those.

The acoustic section, where they did Two Steps Behind was pretty cool for us, given that they all (minus the drummer) came out to the end of the runway and were right on top of us for that whole portion of the set.

During the encore break, Katie turned to me and asked what Def Leppard hits hadn't been played, to which I replied "Let's Get Rocked". Moments later the band came out and Joe Elliot posed the question "Do you wanna get rocked?". Which just goes to show my knowledge of hair metal. [wink]

After the show we headed back to the car, and then proceeded to take an elongated tour of Kansas City, trying to find somewhere to eat. Finally we gave up after heading to a Wendy's that no longer existed and settled on McDonalds. Tough times call for touch measures. And then headed to the hotel. When all was said and done, we got bed at sometime after 3am, which was pretty impressive given that the show ended at 11!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Once Again - You Want Poison? You Got Poison!

Ironically, given my post the other day, but for my 32nd birthday, I'm seeing Poison, thanks to my lovely wife!

21 years of being a fan of the Grand Slam Kings Of Noise. I finally get to see them tomorrow night for my birthday! Seeing Poisond (the Australian cover band) last year was a hell of a lot of fun, but will pale in comparison to seeing the actual band.

Funnily enough Katie came across an American Poison tribute band playing in Kansas City on Friday night (which conflicts with the free Better Than Ezra show we're going to, and was quite excited despite the conflict. I'd enjoy seeing them at some point, but as I said to her, I think it'd loose something in translation 2 nights after seeing the real Poison! [smile]

Here's to Nothin' But A Good Time...

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Boco Baseball In Columbia

An early start this morning as we headed out at 8:30am to Columbia to watch the Show Me Games, which the Boco Blast (Andrew's little league baseball team) were playing.

Once again, it was actually quite enjoyable watching the game. Personally, it's a lot more enjoyable watching a game that Andrew is playing in, than say watching a major / minor league game. Today's was somewhat more riviting also, given that it's one of Andrew's last games. The news of last weekend is that Andrew is taking a break from baseball to concentrate on his music career. [wink] In all seriousness, he's dropping baseball for drum lessons. Which both uncle Mark and aunt Katie were quite excited to hear! It was only two weeks ago in Union that we were commenting on how he has some obvious music ability, after he serenaded us in the basement while we watched him one night while Megan was playing a softball game.

Boco Blast had it rough, being 2 to 9 most of the game until the 4th inning as they started loading up the bases and by the 5th and had caught up 5 to 9. Because of the time limit on little league games, the 5th inning became the last. The coach had given Andrew a talk last week end (we heard all about it from Ma and Pa Jensen - Chris is the coach is question), so it was unnerving to me at Katie the fact that Andrew was up to bat in such a pressure filled situation. After two strikes, and swung and connected with the third pitch, but unfortunately was caught out, so no win for Boco Blast, but still a nice comeback later in the game.