I have several things I’ve been meaning to write about and I found myself home a little bit before I thought I’d be tonight. Most of them are related to music…so it’s kind of a…THEME post, if you will. Eh? Theme? Like a musical theme…?
I’ll start again.
I have a bunch of things to write about, and most of them have something to do with music, so here’s a catch-all of those things. Here we go…
- So I saw Elvis Costello for the first time about a week and a half ago. Went with my brother (Dave!) and had a good time. It was a solo show. Mostly just him on an acoustic guitar, although he also played piano a while and had some electric tones involved here and there, too. Plus he was joined by the girls who were his opening act for a few songs at the end. It was good. He played the hits you’d expect (except for Radio, Radio!) and a few deep cuts that were nice surprises for those of us who knew them. (That wasn’t supposed to sound as pretentious as it probably did.) I had about nine points I wanted to talk about from it, but time has passed and it seems unnecessary. The point is, it was great, I’m really glad it happened, and I’d love to see him again sometime soon. (Maybe with his full band when he opens for Steely Dan??? Hmm…)
- Went to the Dogtown Parade in St. Louis yesterday. It’s become something of a family tradition. My brother (still Dave!) wasn’t able to make it this year (he was busy being a responsible dad), but my dad (also Dave!) went and we had a good time. The Irish Aires played at St. James the Greater, as usual, and I really love hearing them play. They’re really good and play all your favorite songs. Their banjo player is actually from Ireland and he’s excellent. He also plays guitar really beautifully, and listening to him warm up by flawlessly playing “Classical Gas” was a real treat for me.
- Modest Mouse put out a new album yesterday. It’s called “Strangers to Ourselves.” It’s good. It’s not as accessible as “Good News…” but there’s plenty to grab onto. (For those unfamiliar, I’ve often described Modest Mouse as “what would happen if Zappa was listenable.” And bear in mind that I adore Zappa.) There’s a song or two I could do without, but in general, it sounds like them and it’s just nice to have a new record after 8 years. It harkens back to the “Moon & Antarctica” and “This is a Long Drive…” albums, while still managing to feel fresh and unique. People who only know “Float On” from the radio will probably absolutely hate this record, but those who’ve dug into the back catalog will find something to enjoy and probably also some stuff to ignore. It’s sure to please and irritate fans of all kinds. So I’m for it.
- My band, The Social Gospel, is presently a duo. We’ve parted ways with the drummer, unfortunately. Everybody’s still friends and it was absolutely the most amicable, generous, friendly parting of ways I’ve ever experienced in a band. It was just time to move on and refocus. We’re looking for a drummer, if you know anyone. Weekly practices and gigs when we get them…etc… Seems like we’ve had this conversation before, Internet…
- Mumford & Sons released a new single and it’s electric. Like Dylan before them, they plugged in. Like Dylan before them, it pissed a lot of people off. The same fans who complained that the second album sounded too similar to the first are now complaining that the new single sounds too different. Personally, I applaud Mumford for having the balls to branch out, and I hope the new album is great–I’m looking forward to it. You can’t please every fan, you can’t please ANY critic…so you write for yourself, you stay true to your vision, and you have some goddamn fun. Even if it sucks, at least they tried, and I’m willing to give it a fair shake once it’s out.
- I’ve been working with my guitar tone, by the way. At the Costello show, he put on one guitar that had a split-signal. One channel was straight-up acoustic, and the other had a distorted electric tone with a little bit of tremolo behind it. I loved how it sounded and immediately tried to replicate it at home. 🙂 At the show, I realized how much of an influence Elvis Costello is on my own guitar playing…that he can be very technically well-crafted, but turn on a dime to be sloppy as hell if he feels like it will serve the performance better. I’ve long been a proponent of that approach…so why not just flat-out steal his tone? Through my experimentation, I haven’t quite arrived at that sound…but I did arrive at something interesting that has a lot more shape to the clean-sound than I’ve ever had before. And I’m looking forward to using it.
- Talking of my own music… In the past couple of weeks, I’ve had more than one friend mention to me that their kids like one of my songs. That’s flattering, albeit a little confusing. I’m cool with kids liking my stuff, but it does give me pause. My stuff tends to be a little dark, so I never really think of it playing to a kid. As a word to parents of any eight-year-old who likes a Derek Brink song, I suggest that you do two things. (1) IMMEDIATELY introduce him to Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, and Lou Reed. He’ll love that. (2) Maybe ask him if things are going okay at school?–do the other kids make fun of him?–is there a girl he likes that doesn’t like him back and maybe he doesn’t really know what to do about that? And I guess also tell him I said thanks. (I’m assuming the kid’s a “him,” by the way… That might be unfair, but I’m just imagining an 8-year-old girl would be more into Taylor Swift or somebody…)
- And on a non-musical note (pun!), I got three fountain pens recently, that I’m very excited about. They are respectively made by Noodler’s, Pilot, and Waterman. (Wow! Who cares!?) I like the Noodler’s one a lot. They make the ink I most frequently use, so I was very excited to try their pens. Very versatile and easy to work with. The Pilot and Waterman ones arrived today, and they both look cool, but haven’t really been road-tested yet.
Okay…that’s it for now. Late happy St. Patrick’s Day to all of the revelers!