Archive for the 'Music' Category

Don’t Buy the Liverwurst

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

Of all my parents’ records, I might have listened to Allan Sherman the most when I was little.  Maybe the William Tell Overture.

I just spent the last hour listening to all these old songs and they still make me laugh, although I now realize that I didn’t get a lot of the jokes as a kid. Who the heck is Billy Sol?

Do I have some song about Bernie Madoff that my kids are going to love?

If You Have an Obscure Skill, You Might As Well Be Crazy

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

I asked my brother Aric if he’d play some accordion music at our wedding.

He said of course, (of course) but that he’d first need to get a new accordion.  His old one, purchased off of eBay for $50, had finally bit the dust.

Being the good brother that he is, Aric went and got a new accordion right away.  It’s used and needs a little work, so while he was at the store he asked where he could get it fixed up.  He was told there are three people in Chicago who could do it.  Just three.  The conversation isn’t exact, but this is the gist of it.

Accordion Salesman: The first can be a little difficult to work with.  Sometimes he sees an accordion he doesn’t like and decides it’s not worth his time.  I can call first and feel him out if you like.

Aric: What about the others?

Accordion Salesman: Well, this other guy can be a bit flaky, and he’s not as good as the other two.

Aric: So what about the third one?

Accordion Salesman: Oh, he does great work… but… well… he does sometimes steal accordions.  If you get it back it will sound great, though.

Aric: So, you’re referring me to a thief?

Accordion Salesman: Let me talk to the first guy and see what he says.

If you need an accordion repaired in Chicago, those are your choices.

UPDATE: Aric took it to the first guy and he did indeed decide that the accordion wasn’t worth fixing.  The good news is he told the store they had to give him a refund for it.  The better news is he somehow came across another accordion and told Aric that he should buy it.

An Awkward Moment In B Flat

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009


Arriving home from work…

Evan: Hey everyone, I’m home!  Hi TV!  Hi Computer!  Hi Guitar! Hi… Clarinet…
Evan: I haven’t seen you for a while.
Clarinet: I know.
Evan: What are you doing out here with the stuff I use all the time?
Clarinet: You moved me out here when you were looking through your closet.
Evan: Oh yeah…  So… What have you been up to the last couple years?
Clarinet: I’ve been working on some personal projects.  I got pretty good at lanyards.
Evan: That’s cool.
Evan: So… You wanna… Play?
Clarinet: I don’t know.  I was gonna watch Castle.
Evan: Come o–
Clarinet: OKAY!

The Child Of All YouTube Music

Friday, March 13th, 2009

I’ve tried not to post links on this site just because I found something neat on the Internet.  The goal has always been to provide some sort of original (if poorly written) story or idea to go along with it, but every once in a while you see something so amazingly brilliant that you want as many people to see at as possible.  I don’t know who this guy is, but he’s a genius.

Go to his website and watch all the videos:

For Cowboys, Press One…

Thursday, March 12th, 2009

Speaking of machines making noises that sound like songs, I was on the train the other day sitting across from a woman dialing her phone and what she dialed sounded exactly like the theme to The Magnificent Seven.  Take an earfull (the part starts around 0:23):

I tried to replicate it on my phone.  I’m not sure I got it quite right though.

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Chaaarrrrge… It!

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

Once when I was withdrawing money from the only ATM on my college campus, I could swear I heard the machinery inside play a little song as it dispensed its sweet currency.  This song:

Well, at least the end of it.  As I’ve wondered through life these subsequent years, I often listen for that tiny tune from the bowels of the ATM — with its little trill of excitement announcing the inevitable prize.  Occasionally I’ll find an ATM that still does it.

It just so happens that tonight was one such occasion.  Thanks to the iPhone Recorder application, I was able to record it. 

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Am I crazy?  It totally plays that song, right?  I like to think the engineers designing this ATMachine added the jingle as a tribute to Wilma Flintstone and Betty Rubble’s shopping sprees whose call to arms culminated in the exclamation, “CHARGE IT!”

Why It’s Good To Sing In Foreign Languages

Monday, December 8th, 2008

My parents booked a show for Aric and I in the town of Marshall, North Carolina the day after Thanksgiving.  I was a bit nervous for two reasons: a) half of the audience would be made up of my family and b) the other half would be made up of people from the town.  It turns out I didn’t have anything to worry about in either regard.  Both my family and the Marshallians were as wonderful an audience as you could ask for.

After the first set, my cousins Marty, Ben and Josh all sang some songs as well.  Josh lived in Nepal for many years starting and running an education center.  While he was there, he recorded some songs and became something of a pop sensation.  In North Carolina, Josh sang a Nepali drinking song.  It went over great, but afterwards he confessed that he forgot some of the words at the end and just made stuff up.  No one noticed.

Want to see one of Josh’s Nepali videos?

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Thick As A Brick

Sunday, November 23rd, 2008

I went to The Pancake House this morning with the brothers when the discussion turned to jazz flute… again.  Aric went to the Chicago Bluegrass and Blues festival and endured an especially long, smooth, jazz flute solo.  He claimed that flutes don’t really have a place outside of orchestral music (especially at a bluegrass festival) and I suggested that Jethro Tull might be a possible exception.  In the course of my argument,  I may have struck an Ian Anderson pose.

As we were getting ready to leave, a middle-aged lady came up to me and asked, “Do you really like old music like Jethro Tull?”  I didn’t know how to respond.  Then she added, “I saw you imitating him,” and I really didn’t know how to respond.  

Tiptoe Down The Aisle

Saturday, July 12th, 2008

Ah, weddings. Sometimes they’re a chore and sometimes they’re so ridiculously fun that you don’t want them to end. Last weekend was the latter. Apparently my camera was having a good time too as it decided to throw in some peculiar (but festive) blurring and coloring.

I played guitar and ukulele during the ceremony. I’ve played at weddings before and it makes me nervous — I worry I’m going to ruin the whole wedding and, subsequently, the couple’s lives. My brother Aric, who has played piano at his share of weddings, put things in perspective: “Don’t worry, no one is listening to you.”

The bride, Renee, was also a little jittery before the ceremony.

Renee: I’m nervous.
Me: Why? You picked a great guy!
Renee: Pfft. I’m not nervous about Nick. I know I got the right guy. It’s everyone else.

She was worried about the ceremony and the weather and making sure everyone had a good time. Thankfully, the ceremony and the weather and (if I say so myself) the ukulele all went off without a hitch. Congrats, Nick and Renee!

And the Home of the Land and the Land of the Free

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

Kelly, who sings Breaking Up with me, sang the national anthem at a White Sox game. She was really nervous about screwing up the words, but as you can see she did just fine:

Oh wait. Not that one. Here she is:

I think she should have gone with “Bunch of bombs in the air.”

Help Chicago’s Music Scene Is Okay For Now

Monday, May 12th, 2008

When I lived in New York, I wasn’t so into the music scene. I wasn’t really a musician back then, so that probably explains some of it, but I never really went to shows either. Music in Chicago is much better. So is small independent theater.

City Hall has a new ordinance in the works that would make it more difficult for independent promoters to put on shows at small venues. This is all in response to the H2 nightmare a couple years back when 20 people were trampled to death after a fight broke out at a concert, but I suspect it will do more to hurt small, honest promoters than it will to stop any future disasters. Most promoters I’ve worked with don’t get rich off of small shows or festivals. They put shows together because it’s fun and they like the music. A $1000 fee and required background check would probably be enough to persuade many of them to quit putting up shows. That would be bad for musicians and bad for Chicago.

So If you’ve got nothing better to do, read what Jim DeRogatis has to say about it and write to your alderman. It’s fun. They usually write back. Okay, maybe I am a little political.

UPDATE: Chicago Promoter’s Ordinance to be reworked.  Hooray!  Hopefully the new version will address the actual problem without killing Chicago’s honest music, theater and comedy promoters.  I have to say, I’m impressed with Chicago’s artistic community.  Way to go everyone.

Clap Your Hands, Everybody. Everybody, Clap Your Hands.

Sunday, March 30th, 2008

I haven’t had much to say lately, so I’m just going to recommend some music: She & Him: Volume 1.

Zooey Deschanel is awesome in an annoying “you’re already a successful actor, do you really need to put out a great album too” kind of way. But it’s a really great album. Some credit goes to M. Ward (Him) — the arrangements and guitar parts are pretty fantastic — but what I like best are the plentiful harmonies. There are a lot of Zooeys singing on this album, and they’re ALL good! Oh, and she uses the line, “I’m alone on a bicycle for two,” which hits close to home, so that’s nice nice too.

The album also includes one of my new favorite hand clap songs: “Sweet Darlin’.” It joins the ranks of Beck’s “Go It Alone,” Belle & Sebastian’s “Boy With The Arab Strap,” the Tremeloes version of “Here Comes My Baby,” and the song at the end of Revenge of the Nerds.  Man, are there any bad songs with hand claps? I think it’s my favorite song gimmick. Hey musicians: make more songs with hand claps!

Why I Don’t Have Terrible Taste In Music

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

Every couple of years Trevor recommends music to me. It’s not often, but he has an amazing track record. When we were sophomores in college, he introduced me to John Prine (and, by proxy, Iris DeMent.) Prine has gone on to become my favorite performer. A few years later he suggested I listen to Chuck Brodsky. Now I own all his albums.

Yesterday Trevor asked if I had been listening to M. Ward. I hadn’t. Trevor’s three for three. It’s nice to have a friend like that.

Here are two M. Ward songs for all of you:

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He’s Back

Monday, January 28th, 2008

Guess who’s back in the jukebox at the bowling alley.  I guess we weren’t the only ones upset he was gone.

I bowled a strike and a spare during “The Cup Of Life.”  Thanks Ricky.

You Gotta Shake Your Booty

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

Something seemed a little off in our bowling league this year. I couldn’t put my finger on it. At first I thought it was just the rash of back injuries (we’re getting stupid-old) but I finally figured it out.

The jukebox is an important part of our league — so much so that every year we give out an award to whomever most deserves to lose their jukebox privileges. I think Bri won it last year for his obsession with Meatloaf.

It’s sometimes hard to choose a winner as one person’s Neil Diamond is another’s Travis Tritt. There is one song, however, that is universally loved. It gets played every week by someone or other, often several times. The song? “Cup of Life” by Ricky Martin. There’s something about it. Everyone gets their tushies a-shakin’ and I think a few pins give in to Ricky’s seduction every frame, raising the scores slightly for the song’s duration. New bowlers sometimes look a little confused at the cheers evoked by its opening congas, but it isn’t long before they too fall under Ricky’s spell.

I checked the jukebox on Sunday. The Ricky Martin CD has been replaced with an album of Christmas carols.