Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Cakewalk

I lean over the counter, in slight hand writing the word "Visitor" in the top left hand corner of sticker after sticker. In the right hand corner, I write the date "12/25/2006". It's Christmas Day. From my scribbling imagination forms an elf carrying a gift, giving the thumbs up. He's got curly hair and pointy ears and doesn't mind hanging out with me all day on this quiet, hollow holiday in the big drafty waiting room of the ER.

Today is the first day that I've noticed that my shiny new computer doesn't have a CD drive. I've spent the first hour of my morning very productively navigating the media player's online radio site for some good Big Band stations, preferably a Big Band Christmas station... still the meantime, on the jukebox in my head, The Ravens' "White Christmas" winds around and around as the rain outside falls down.

I think I may be going into a diabetic coma. The nurses keep coming up to my desk and force feeding me Christmas chocolate. Damn them and their chocolate mousse bonbons.

So, I want to share this with you. I've made a few copies of this out-of-print gem to give to friends this holiday season.

1. White Christmas - Ravens
2. Far Away Christmas Blues -Little Esther Phillips
3. Love For Christmas -Felix Gross
4. Trim Your Tree -Jimmy Butler
5. Wonderful Christmas Night -Dan Grisson
6. Rudoph The Rednose Reindeer -A.B. Green
7. Silent Night -Big Maybelle
8. White Christmas -Charlie Parker
9. Mr. Santa's Boogie -The Marshall Brothers
10. Christmas Blues -Gatemouth Moore
11. Christmas Blues -Washboard Pete
12. Frosty The Snowman -A.B. Green
13. I Want To Spend Christmas With Elvis -Debbie Dabney
14. Santa's Secret -Johnny Guarnieri

Released in 1994 on Savoy Jazz (...where bebop began and the artists still swing...), this little compilation is especially notable for the terribly addictive rendition of White Christmas by the Ravens, Jimmy Butler's gyrating Christmas Shag-a-thon "Trim Your Tree", Big Maybelle's beautifully soulful "Silent Night", and Johnny Guarnieri's hilarious side smile "Santa's Secret".

By the by, the Ralphie count this morning was very, very low. Surprising.

Last year it was so high that I warned all of my friends with small children to buy protective gear (i.e. - helmets, elbow pads, knee pads, full body armour) to avoid forevermore the peril of Christmas morning excitement/present-opening maiming/accidents.

Have a safe holiday, my friends, and take care.
I'll be at the Bottletree tonight for a little after-work/family dinner drink.
I'd love to see your lovely faces.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


He stood behind the microphone, gripping the back of the neck of a cornsilk cabbage patch kid, making her jump and lurch into the mic as if she were singing with him. She was, in least there was a vocal track corresponding to his crude puppeteering of one of my generation's childhood icons. He turned her face slightly towards his. My ears finally tuned in over the hum of the fan and the washing machine. My god, they were performing a duet about abstinence set to the tune of "Summer Nights" with rows of Barbies and Kens singing back up. Was this some sort of bizarre, cappucino ice cream induced dream? I rubbed my eyes in disbelief. Oh EWTN. Oh dear. What programming bliss.

At that moment, I was curled up with Emilybird in a large yellow and white quilt on the couch in the sunroom. I had fallen in and out of conciousness for the last few hours. Those moments awake, I spent flipping through the channels until I could find one with a decently boring narration that might induce me to fall asleep. (i.e. C-span press conference, Discovery Channel doc on The National Mint, anything starring Judith Light)

My lungs have been lined with Pink Panther insulation since last I posted. While the pinkness is super awesome, that pesky tendency to want to breathe is kind of getting on my nerves right now. Good lord, I take enough vitamins to keep my good friend Jaime Voss's extended family (she has like 123 first cousins) in ruddy good health. How did this happen to me? Um...yeah. I work in an emergency room. And lately we've had our lion's share of running, screaming, coughing, snotty-nosed kids. Hurrah. Three times today, I've caught a kid with his/her mouth attached to the cool granite countertop of my desk. Why? Is that really necessary? Is it really that tasty?

Last night, Aisha took some time while decorating the Nick for the annual Christmas Martini Party to tell me a few of her memories of Greg McReynolds. Back before the turn of the century (What?? It's true!), Aisha worked at the Music Hall. One day, soon after she first started, she was talking to Greg about the Ramones. He smiled and suggested that they go visit the Ramones on tour. She said that she laughed at the thought that that could actually happen. Not long after this conversation, Aisha found herself in her pajamas, hanging out with the Ramones, having a slumber party of sorts on tour. And this happened not just once, but twice. Greg was like this. He made little impossible dreams come true for so many of his friends.

Tonight is the memorial service for Greg. His sister and brother will be there. They've never really known their brother, although they lived less that twenty miles from his front door. Tonight, his blood relations will meet his family. Seems strange to say that. But for Greg, his friends were his family. In Aisha's words: Friends are the family that you choose for yourself.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Greg McReynolds

My fingers fumbled with the corners of the plastic radio station banner as I lifted it above my head to stretch it against the wall. In the darkness of the venue, I reached my right hand behind me, to pick up a pair of scissors I had left on the table. Instead of the plastic and metal I was expecting, I felt a warm hand grab mine and pull me with a giggle and a guffaw away from my post. I spun out into the room and found myself dancing in the arms of Greg McReynolds. Glen Phillips was on the stage before us, testing his microphone. He smiled and broke into a song. This is my best memory of Greg. This 6'4" bear of a man, twirling a tall twenty-one year old girl across the dirty floor of the music hall. The pure joy of that moment I could never, ever convey to you.

Greg and I met soon after I moved to Birmingham in January of 2000. I spent a great deal of time at the Five Points Music Hall, promoting and attending shows for the radio station. Greg was the first there to welcome me into the fold. Often as I would walk through the back door of the club, arms full of banners and supplies, I would find myself enveloped in his arms. His hug became the best part of my day.

As the years passed on, Greg continued to work with music. Between projects and tours, Greg would work the door at Zydeco or Workplay. Late night he could be found leaning against the bar at the Nick, telling stories, talking about his latest project, love interest, or adventure.

Greg always turned up in the most unlikely of places. It always seemed to be just when I needed one of his beautiful, fierce hugs and a word of encouragement.

On a particularly miserable day during my week long adventure with Shelly in L.A.(Spring 2001), I found myself escaping teary-eyed and heart-heavy out the back door of the Key Club and straight into Greg McReynold's open arms. I'd no idea that he was even in town. I felt this relief just seeing his smiling, dimpled face. He and Angie and Shelly and I sat later in the evening at the Rainbow Club, just down the street, conversing and laughing over turned out to be one of the most enjoyable nights that I had on my entire trip. He was like that, putting people at ease, making them laugh. He had this warm light in his eyes that resonated from that huge loving heart of his. It was like a beacon. Bringing us all close and making us feel safe and loved.

(greg w/ mike courtesy of Mikey d)

Greg "Tiny" McReynolds passed away on Wednesday, December 13th.

Greggers, you will be missed, my lovely friend, so, so much.

Sara Leah



(message from Tom Bagby of Pacific Stereo)
We're dedicating our debut performance of The Electric Mountain to the memory of Greg. Tell everyone. Let's get shithoused in his honor.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

December Nights

Erin, do you remember standing in that church basement on a Fall's eve, 9 years ago, watching Karin and Linford burn beauty with song. I remember a happy sun painting on the wall behind them. I remember candles on the merch table and a content drive home, full of plans of the following days adventure to Indiana. Still the best road trip of my life.

I'm listening to the Over the Rhine album "The Darkest Night of the Year" right now. A gorgeous collection of hollow holiday tunes...not hollow as in empty, but yes, strangely, to listen to this album, you might as well be sitting in a dark empty room, to the side of Linford at an upright grand with a candle here and there. Karin stands at Linford's elbow, arm rounding the top edge of the piano, chin up, voice beaming, eyes closed. On a cold northern night, lazy drifting snow slowly filling up the landscape, street lights beckoning to each other, "can you still see me?" "are you still there?" "Am I alone?" The glow of the warm voices and candlelight rests weary hearts. This is what I hear.

--- Original Post 12/10/2005

My back to the heavy curtained door, I still felt the cold of winter stretch out it's icy fingers to carress my shoulders as people wandered in and out through the night. The dinner stretched on...through true delightful company and hesitant service. Bottle of wine. Salads. By the time the coffee and desserts came around, the suits, the small family with their over-dressed boy in secret battle-won sneakers and his Shirley Temple in hand, the couples spaced out along the wall, eating their dinner in small bites while clipped with uncomfortable first date conversation...they had all finally departed. We were left alone, with our laughter and stories, bright and beautiful faces... What a merry holiday.


This week:

be there.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Down Broadway, yeah Funky Broadway....

"Hipster Critic's Friend: Have you seen The Raconteurs live?

Indie Critic 1: No...they play at venues that seat more than 152.5 people. I saw The White Stripes in a loft in Brooklyn once. There were four people there. 3 of them had mustaches. The other one was dressed as a Kentucky Fried Chicken. (It may have been a protest)."

-- from Passion of the Weiss's latest article, "The Year in Review: The 7 Albums That Aren't Nearly As Bad As You've Heard"


I stared at my computer for a little while this afternoon, completely befuddled by the date. The 8th? What happened? How did I get it wrong when one of the things I do all day is write those magic numbers "12/08/2006" on the top right hand corner of medical consent forms. It's a mindless task, one that starts so early in the morning that by this afternoon, when I finally sat back and looked at it, it seemed like a foreign language, like a secret code, like a total disappointment.

The Ralph Jackson show in Chicago was tonight, the 8th, which is not tomorrow.

As I'm sitting at the ER desk because I'm working a double shift, because I love my bosses, and because by the time of my discovery this afternoon it was too late for me to leave from Birmingham...


Good luck, my friends. I hope the Hideout was packed. I hope Bob Mehr danced. And Emily, I hope to god that you boogalooed your heart out.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Around and Around

In the midst of the 25,000 times that the power went out this evening in Pelham because of the terrible weather, I found myself dancing with Blake and Kristie in their living room on a dark, rather dead end street in Southside, Adam Sears and Daniel beautifully and lopsidedly wagging their head on the couch while watching Krull...

I thought to my little self, I love this moment (which I conveyed on a misfired text message) and I wish that David were here to enjoy this.

I drove home, listening to a mix of Red House Painters songs that another lovely friend named David had given me long ago. As I pulled out onto the Valleydale exit, a streak of lightning hit near the La Quinta Inn and I found myself in darkness and a heavy rainfall. Not a great combination. The road was dark and I kept seeing sparks fly from random business signs as the lights flickered on and off in the distance. I made it home and shall now go to bed,

Around and around
(John Denver)

Time as I've known it, it doesn't take much time to pass by me.
Minutes into days, turn into months, turn into years, they hurry by me.
Still I love to see the sun go down, and the world go around.

Dreams full of promises, hopes for the future, I've had many
Dreams I can't remember now, hopes that I've forgotten, faded memories.
Still I love to see the sun go down, and the world go around.

And I love to see the morning as it steals across the sky.
And I love to remember, and I love to wonder why.
And I hope that I'm around, so I can be there when I die, when I'm gone.

I hope that you will think of me in moments when you're happy, and you're smiling.
And that the thought will comfort you on cold and cloudy days, if you are crying.
And that you'll love to see the sun go down, and the world go around, and around and around.

-covered by Mark Kozelek, Rock'n'Roll Singer

Laying down the gun....

This morning as I mindlessly packed my little bag for work, I pulled the Hope For Agoldensummer album from the towering stack of cds sitting dangerously close to my bed and slipped it into the inside pocket. I had to bring it with me, because everytime I've taken a moment to daydream in these last two days, every minute wonderfully wasted, I hear "Laying Down the Gun" and it has been building and building and building into a frenzied triumphant chorus.

I see my friend Sunni just as she sat on her couch Saturday night, leaning back with Ralph's steel guitar, pushing her golden hair out of her eyes and picking out the all of the tiptoeing, intricate loveliness of every line as we sang the harmonies high and whispered:

"It turns out, instead of blood you've got love songs traveling through your veins. What I found were all the words you ever sang tapped into the bones of your rib cage...."

I think of the first time I saw it performed live, upstairs at the Moonlight, the tense and burning energy turning around the stage. Deb Davis and her xylo. Will Taylor wavering from side to side, cello churning. Claire's eyes are closed. She's sitting straight and tall, her face turned up into the light as she's crying out:

"Instead of stopping our hearts, we play music because we're rock stars.
We come together and we work and we fall apart...."

I listen to the song again and again and it burns brighter every time.

"I play music because I'm in love with silence and sound. Just like a machine I picked my pen...."

And all of the sudden, it stops.


There is a cave up by Garden City that is rumored to have been used as speakeasy during Prohibition. The Welch* brothers told me about it today. They smiled at me, standing to either side of their elderly mother as she was signing her paperwork, and looked up into the flourescent light above my head and then at each other. Jeff* turned to his brother and then to me,"It's still intact. I think least it was when I was younger. You'll have to use a rope to get down into some parts of the cave, but it's worth it....Banger Cave is the name." Interesting. Sounds like an awfully good adventure for the spring. If anyone possesses any additional info about the cave, please let me know. Joe* gave me some general directions.

From Saturday night's Skybucket Workforce Extravaganza

Amber and George the Turtle. BFF.

(from a play-by-play sent to gorjus later that evening)

"...the deadly Connect Four match between George the Turtle and Michael Douglas the B.H. Action Squirrel. A few borrowed Busch Lights into the evening, Travis and I dueled (through our plastic animal counterparts) and sadly, I must say that Travis and Michael Douglas won. After realizing that he had the winning row, Travis promptly jumped to his feet, hoisting Michael Douglas with his wildly wobbling head into the air and raced out the front door and down the street, yelling "We WON! WE won! YAYYYY!!!" all the while."

I, in the mean time, collapsed into the floor, defeated and downtrodden.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


B.H. Vulcan has been partying for two solid weeks. His handmade green and orange hat is pushed slightly to the side so you know that he's for real. His large head wags with every small child's hand, an irresistable golden worry wobble for all of the elderly ladies that sit before me, and from the old men, Bobble Head "Party God" Vulcan gets the occasional tilted head, a push, and a chuckle. B. H. Vulcan parties all day on the ledge of my desk. I sit behind him at my workstation, chair a little too low, desktop a little too cluttered, enormous monitor flickering in front of my face. I try to keep in the party spirit, just for the little guy. I play a little of Benny Goodman's "Bluebirds in the Moonlight" and swing around in my swivel chair, legs tucked in and skirt aflarin'.

"There are bluebirds in the moonlight. Silly idea, Bluebirds in the moonlight, but that's how I feel when I'm with you...
There are night owls in the daylight. Silly idea. Night owls in the daylight. But maybe my heart is saying who...who...who..whoooo..Who is the one for me, that's what you've done to me...."

I lean my head over to the far side of the partition, glancing up to the security mirror, making sure the coast is clear. And then I spin around again and again, head back and eyes bright. I love these late afternoons in the center. I'm sure I'll miss them come December, when I'll be flying every moment room to room in the new Emergency Room. My legs and heart and head will be tired by the end of the day. But now...right now...I turn my head to my dear friend Vulcan, and to the pictures of Ralph "Soul" Jackson, Emilybird, and Edwyn Collins (thank you, gorjus) gathered on the wall around my phone, Count Basie laces some pretty melodies in his "How Long Blues" and I turn to see that it's time for me to hit the road.

Have a good weekend, my lovelies. I'm sure I'll see you out and about.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

how it feels...

You were right, J. It was crazy to think that I shouldn't go.

I was sitting with Aisha at the Innisfree Trivia night on Monday, getting every answer wrong (almost), when my friend Carl walked over with Michael McCall. They asked me why I wasn't at the Bottletree. Michael had been my Sunny Day partner back in 2000. We both happened to attend the show in Atlanta with No Knife at the Masquerade (The Rising Tide tour). We shared that love for SDRE (amongst other great music loves) during our tenure together at Slip Disc. We have often worn the same black and silver tour shirt, at the same time(but not on purpose). He looked at me with wondering eyes as I sat at the bar. Reed Lochamy repeated some spelling question over the loudspeaker. Carl touched my shoulder and said, "I've got an extra ticket, come with us." I told them to go on and that I would meet them there.

I arrived a bit later than I had expected, the crowd was spilling out the front door and onto the stoop. Carl and Michael were waiting, extra Budweiser in hand, when we pushed our way through the door, the boys pushed on through the crowd....we crept up and past and beside and onward, Jeremy Enigk's unworldly voice ringing out in turns and turns, until we reached the food passway to the left of the stage. Jeremy's body was turned down over his keyboard, his face up into the light.

He stood, picked up his guitar..."How can I explain,'ve been gone for sometime...."

I turned to Michael and smiled, my eyes glistening. I didn't think it would affect me like this, my heart slipping out of my chest and to the floor...this dark and beautiful moment....

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Upwards and Onwards

I closed my eyes, holding the guitar, strumming clumsily, my mouth wide open and song bursting forth into the smokey/beer scented microphone. I felt like I was about to swallow everything whole. In this dark room, I felt like I was turning into something I didn't understand, something I never wanted to be, but had always longed for. Keelan sat to my left, crouched over his bass guitar, feet pumping in no particular time the pedals to the kick drum and to the high hat. My arms wrapped around this loud and lovely instrument that I didn't know in the least what to do with...I closed my eyes and sang.

I won't pretend anything for you. I won't say that it was transcendent and life changing. It was a beer addled stroll through a park that I seldom visit. It was like a phone call to that friend that I love dearly but rarely speak with. After we were done, the guitar was placed back into it's case, I popped open another Miller Lite and went back to work, no illusions dancing upon my brow. I threw my latest addiction back into the CD player, Orange Juice - You Can't Hide Your Love Forever, my favorite song, "Wan Light", making me dance my chair. Making me decide to feature an interview with Elliott McPherson on our Redeye interview completely in spanish...because it made me smile.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Brown Black Haven of Sleeplessness

Gathering up my birthday dress, after changing into my Pj's late last night, I pressed my face into the wool and inhaled the beautiful autumn wood burn scent of the night's festivities that still lived within it's folds.

The lights had been amazing. Bright and golden and pink, low and lovely, framing the the faces of the loved ones who were being remembered. Small fires burned on altars throughout the memorial graveyard. A few larger blazes sat upon the edge of the lot. Friends crowded around, their heads close in conversation, their bodies stiff and huddled.

I wandered through the midst the crowd, twirling through the cold. I was serenaded by the constant hum of my phone as friends called to wish me well or to ask my location so they could find me. The Day of the Dead festival this year took up the better part of a block. The line to get into Bare Hands wound down the alley as people slowly made their way through the hall, smiling and pointing, tilting their heads from side to thoughtful side. Frida Kahlo glided past me on more than one occasion, in more than one form. Dark masks and vibrant costumes dotted the dancing masses. I danced with them, beside my friend Tristan, as St. Louis stood still, leaning up against a heater to warm his shivering bones.

I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed myself or how much it meant to me that so many of my friends came out to help me celebrate my birthday. This has been an amazing year. Truly amazing. So many of my little dreams have come true. Thank you for being a part of it all. I am so grateful.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Fraggle Rock

Under smoke screen of a Bailey's Pub late night drinking session with Kristie and Daniel, sitting quietly by Adam's side, we listened to song after song roll off the satellite radio. It felt like someone was scavenging through my high school cd collection, now long hidden in a deep dark corner of my bedroom closet. At least that's the way I felt....Smashing Pumpkins, Beck, Butthole Surfers, Nirvana, Pearl Jam...

It brought out this starry eyed girl, all of these little memories, sitting in sophomore art class and listening to the LA's on "Bring Your Own Music Day" as the other kids grumbled about how they wanted to listen to Randy Travis. I thought of my first Lollapalooza, the bonfires we danced around at the frenzied end of a long, extremely exhausting day as Billy Corgan screeched and swallowed us whole into his own oblivion. Singing the lyrics to Beck's Loser in my high school bathroom, thinking I was alone, and giggles and a "you're weird", falling out of the mouth of the mighty Margie Sefton as she slammed open the end stall door. She laughed at the befuddled look on my face and told me it was true...

I was weird. I guess I still am. Sitting around with friends and discussing the beginnings and ending of our many music loves, I realize that there is so much that I regret missing out on, growing up in such a hollow small prairie town. And there are so many things that I'm glad I never found out about until later, until I was ready to appreciate. Yes, I never had MTV. I'll never see those visions in my head when I hear a song that others see. I only see those moments, late night driving moments, art all nighters at Archer, somber nights sitting on the hood of my car and watching the strange lights in the distance coming from the direction of St. Elmo...what were those anyway... I've no idea. I dream alot in these thoughts, walking through these memories like a great hall of portraits, only they are guided by a song, telling me the importance of each grating and blissful brushstoke made by Mark Kozelek, Michael Stipe, Jason Falkner, Over the Rhine.

These dark and course rounds of song, a porthole, bringing me back to myself a few minutes later down the road. I'd just seen Kelly and Josh listening to Led Zeppelin, hovered around a blazing fire in a field somewhere. I'd just been told over the top of NIN's haunting heart wrenchers that Neil Skippers loved another girl more than me. I just danced through a crowd and into the arms of my friends as Sunny Day Real Estate took the stage and heads began to sway, as Ben Folds played his piano with his stool, as Mad Richard of the Verve writhed and flailed and yowled, and as I wiped the tired tears of a long day in New Orleans away from my eyes and stretched to the top of my toes to see Elliott Smith frown his way into my heart.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Jeff Higgason

He stood at the counter, fumbling with his keys, eyes peeking down through thick glasses, gaze then quickly turning away. Shifting from side to side, perspiration forming on his brow. I had no idea what to say. I had seen him in the store before. Here he was asking me to go to a music festival, a girl he didn't even know.

We drove to St. Louis for Point Fest. I remember They Might Be Giants causing a giant conga line to be formed across the lawn at Riverport. I jumped up, running to break in and join this line of hundreds of kids snaking around and up and down the hill yelling and dancing and singing in the summer sun. Jeff sat with his friends, unaffected and quiet.

I never really knew. Or maybe didn't want to think about the fact that he liked me. It was several years later, riding in my car and listening to the mixed tapes that he had made for me that I suddenly realized...
I was an idiot.

We lost touch long ago. I'll probably never be able to tell him what an amazing influence he had on me, how he changed my way of thinking about music.

The "I just Felt Like Making Sara a Tape" Mix

Vincent - NOFX
Tears of a Clown - English Beat
Where Did You Sleep Last Night - Lead Belly
Shimmer like a Girl - Veruca Salt
Outer Space - The Muffs
I've Been Waiting - Matthew Sweet
I Don't Want to Go to Chelsea - Elvis Costello
If You Could Only See - Tonic
Superstition - Stevie Wonder
Yes, The River Knows - The Doors
Panama City Motel - Sugar
Prove Yourself - Radiohead


Naima - John Coltrane
The Man in Me - Bob Dylan
Clove - Green Pyramids
99 Red Balloons - 7 Seconds
Just Like Heaven - The Cure
Whip - Fred Schneider
Don't Tell Your Mother - The Sundays
Swan Theme No. 10 Act II - Rimsky - Korsakov
I want the Angel - Jim Carroll
Ain't No Cure For Love - Leonard Cohen
Here Comes Your Man - the Pixies

Sara Mix : Vol 2


Where Is My Mind - The Pixies
There Is A Light That Never Goes Out - The Smiths
If I Should Die Tonight - Marvin Gaye
Moment - The Pietasters
California Dreamin - Hi-Standard
Can't Fight It - Bob Mould
The Unseen Power of the Picket Fence - Pavement
We're the Same - Matthew Sweet


The Killing Moon - Echo and the Bunnymen
Shimmer - Fuel
What Does It Take? - Jr Walker and the Allstars
In Dreams - Roy Orbison
Nite Club - The Specials
Crazy Love - Van Morrison
In A Sentimental Mood - Duke Ellington & John Coltrane
Coney Island Baby - Lou Reed

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Erick and I sat on the porch of Seama's apartment. Kids slouched in tired chairs around us, a crowd gyrated and jumped to Outkast just inside the door. Downstairs, bottles were breaking, laughter, yelling. We sat, eyes bright, leaning forward, discussing his radio show in Tuscaloosa, soul music, projects, collectors. Fifteen minutes before, I had felt a bit lost walking through the hazy, loud apartment, bumping into people, Adeeba pulling me out to the center of the room to dance. I had already had my night out with Jess and Hollis and Rebecca. I was a bit tired. I was there...why was I there? To see Seama and Adeeba and Charles. To hug them. Charles sat beside me, Adeeba and Seama were shimmying and twirling a few feet away. Erick told me of his baby sister and her unusual interest in music, that at 11 she was already telling him what she really did and didn't like in different songs, her preferences in soul and classic rock.

"You'd expect her to like something like..." He scratched his chin and looked around.

"Britney Spears?" I finished his thought.

"I got her a Beatles t-shirt..I'm making her a compilation of their songs."

I smiled. I thought of that musty coat closet by the front door in my childhood home. Down under the hem of a London Fog duster, through the scent of mothballs and leather and dust, I spent many a morning, digging and shifting and pulling out a wonderland of sound. Stacks and stacks of records. I can't imagine who I'd be today with out that, without my father's record collection. I wondered as Erick talked glowingly, proudly of his little sister if she would feel the same way about his gift of music in a few years time.

Discovery of the Day birthday is coming soon. You know, like in November...
Do you think we can put one of these together by then so I can drive it with joy through the streets of Birmingam? Holy crapness. What a beautiful and disturbing thing,

Karaoke Ice



From the Website:

"Project Overview
Imagine an ice cream truck transformed into a mobile karaoke unit, driven by a squirrel cub with a penchant for cheap magic, deployed to spark spontaneous interaction between passersby in Chavez Plaza and surrounding neighborhoods.

The truck, or Lucci as she is known, is a tasty pop culture hybrid, one that brings three familiar expressions of network cultureice cream trucks, datasets, and karaoke barsinto conversation. Dressed in song and shimmer, Lucci broadcasts twinkly pop songs in endless, repetitive loops as she weaves her way through the zone of the festival. At nighttime, once her work for the day is done, its time to let loose. She finds a party to join, dispatches the squirrel to hustle some more karaoke, and enjoys the festival entertainment.

Participants perform for an audience from a stage in the transformed rear of the vehicle, and use a customized karaoke engine to select, sing, and record a song for later broadcast. Free popsicles lure passersby to participate, creating an economy of exchange: She gives you icies, and you give her a song. Remedios the Squirrel Cub, the resident MC, distributes the pops and dances badly while choreographing enigmatic rituals of his own. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. Work it. Heart of Glass. I Want You to Want Me. The streets of San Jose transformed through flavor and song. The resulting mix is one that celebrates the power of music to entice and inflame, as well as the sense of community that can be fostered among strangers trapped in a terrestrial network.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Trees with Bells - The last Sarashow at the Moonlight

This Thursday, September 28th, 8pm

So one day, I happened to look in the paper and saw that a good friend of mine from Illinois was playing that very night at a venue I'd never even heard of before called the Moonlight Music Cafe. I was a bit under the weather that day, it being the tail end of my rehabilitation at Healthsouth from my first MS attack, so I missed the show. I promised myself that as soon as I was able, I'd go up to Vestavia and check the place out, because if Bill Passalaqua of the infamous Poss family (the Music dynasty of Effingham) had played there, it must be something special.

I dropped by there one afternoon. I walked up the stairs and into a long purple room. The man behind the counter had a smile and handshake waiting for me, ready and willing to tell me all about the place, of his dreams of a venue for original acoustic music... Keith made me a latte and I sat at a table and thumbed through a magazine. Almost immediately the phone rang. Keith paced across the floor, looked at me and smiled. The manager, Lindsey Stone, had seen me walk from the car to the door as he left on some errands. He remembered me from my tenure at Slip Disc. "If she's looking for a job, give it to her."

Seriously, I did not walk into that door looking for a job. It had been enough, just to get where I was at that point, surviving, living my life again. It seems heavy to think of it now. It was heavy then. I had recently discussed with my parents about going back to school. I still had my Cobra insurance from Compass. I had left my music, my dreams of the store was time to start anew. And was this opportunity, amazing to me. It may seem small. In fact, I'm sure there are alot of people reading this who've never even heard of the Moonlight, let alone set foot inside the place... But let me tell you this....this little room...this candlelit bubblegum purple room gave me another chance. Not only that, it gave me a new family...Keith and Joni and Kristin and Greg, Herb and Cathy and Carrie and Jason, Adeebah and Jen, Taylor, Sunni and Amber...friends who've had such an impact on my life.

When I had my second attack in the spring of 2004, I was in the hospital, in a room at Brookwood, just over the hill from the Moonlight. I remember Jason Bailey played and Joni called me and held up that phone and I cried. I knew that I would get better. I knew that the MS would not lick me if there were such incredible sounds in this world, if there were people who cared that much.

After my recovery, I continued to work there, bartending. I met many more new faces, heard so much great music, Caroline Herring, Leslie Helpert, Andru Bemis. Bill Passalaqua finally came back.

I started working at St. Vincents. Still helped out a bit at the Moonlight. I kept up with Joni and Keith. I saw the many friends I made at the moonlight all over town. I kept intouch with artists that had played there and made sure to refer musicians I came in contact with to Keith. Somehow, somewhere, I started putting together shows. Not sure how that happened. How did that happen? I do know that I've been fortunate enough to put together some shows that I'm really proud of.

I also have found and can't believe that I've been fortunate enough to be a part of something that is truly unique and special. I can not believe that soon it will all be ending.

My last show for the Moonlight is September 28th. I've asked a Birmingham band to play that I truly admire and really think exude this sort of extraordinary spirit and talent that has claimed it's rightful place at the Moonlight.

That band is Trees with Bells.

Come out and celebrate 3 years of great memories and music with me.

Thursday, September 28th, 2006
Doors open at 8pm

Sweet Sunday

images courtesy of Leah of Red Blondehead

In truth, as I knelt up there on stage and beat out rhythms onto the floor at the Wrens show, these were the three things going through my head:

1. "Crap. Now Brian's going to have to repaint the stage."

2. "I hope that guy in front of me doesn't mind that I keep hitting him the ass with my drumstick. Here, let me switch hands, maybe that will give me enough range not to have to ....nope, still hitting him....crap...let me try this side...ow..that's uncomfortable...maybe if I take just do a few beats instead off the whole cadence...maybe the guy will have less of a bruise" Sorry yellow shirt guy. It's all in the name of rock, right?

3. The obligatory -"This SONG IS AMAZING!" Because it really was. What an incredible sound experience. I kept watching Charles Bissell clicking between pedals and closing his eyes through the set...jumping back and turning side to side, holding his guitar, beating out rhythms, his eyes would fly open and he'd look around as if he had just awoke from some sort of dreamlike soundscape. He created it. He's like my friend Andrew, creating all of those beautiful little sounds during and inbetween that make listening so much more worthwhile.

The Wrens. So good.

Barton Carroll played a completely different set last night. It was dark and sweet for a Sunday.
His set included Vulture (a request), Small Thing, Cat on a Beach, Superman, and a song I was not familiar with, about a man living his life in the shadow of his older brother...I turned to Travis after this song was over. He was smiling, his eyebrows raised, his heart shining through his eyes. I felt the same.

I've been enjoying Barton's album for quite a's become my soundtrack for the ride home on late jovial night, almost like a book of bedtime stories to unwind.

(Okay, I know they are stories full of desperation and fear in time of war, lost loves and quiet obsession...but tragedy is meant to cleanse the soul right? And what better way to arrive home after a big night out, all of your emotions left in the driver- side floorboard of your car.)

Tonight is Jose Gonzalez at the Bottletree. It will be an incredible show.
Don't miss it.

Friday, September 22, 2006


My foot is still swollen (I accidently pulverized an ant ants...bad), but Sufjan Stevens is in my heart.

Trace Face and I departed for the ATL at around 3:30pm.
I had never been to the Fox before. Freaking Beautiful.

Adding to the beauty were the fluttering butterfly wings worn by Sufjan's band. He wore wings of a condor, moving slightly back and forth as he played....I kept waiting for the absurd moment when he would be lifted off of the stage to float above the crowd.

When he played Jacksonville, the screen behind his glowed with images of Metropolis, Illinois. Is it weird that that made me homesick? Is it weird that in a way that whole album made me long for the flatlands and long winters of Illinois?

I haven't been back in a while, not to my home. I missed my ten year class reunion this summer. Something seems lost. I found all of these pictures the other day of High School formals, Homecoming, Prom. Yes Tony. I even found the one of you and I sitting in the Christmas sleigh. I took the pictures with me to the Bottletree to show some friends. As I turned them up to the light, they became not memories, but glimpses into a forgotten time, like this other life, this other me. Illinois seems so far away. I find myself hearing the forlorn whispers and quiet remembrances of home within the climbing tones of Sufjan's songs.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Skybucket Showcaseness

Photos taken at the Skybucket shows
August 25, 2006 - Bama Theatre in Tuscaloosa
September 15 & 16, 2006 - Bottletree Cafe in Birmingham

Dude, we had so much much fun.

More More More pictures

Monday, September 18, 2006

Ghetto Bells in Birmingham

From the Archives of Earfood:

A piece I wrote about the Jonathan Richman/ Vic Chesnutt show on October 8, 2005:

I wish I could tell you, explain to you what you missed Tuesday night, by not coming. If you've never been to the Moonlight Music Cafe before, let me tell you, to see a show there is an intimate thing. The quiet, the silent attention given to artists can either be horrifying or gratifying. I've heard some say they hate to play there because all of the attention is directed to them, they're used to being background noise in a smokey bar.

Vic Chesnutt thrived. He sang of his memories so loud and high with his head held back and his heart held out. The notes plucked with a strange confident pause became a vessel for his every day drama. And that is what I loved, he sings like we speak. He tells a story of a wild girl he loved in the high school band and how she turned square (Band Camp) or what boys and girls say to each other during a particularly uncomfortable date and we bolt upright in our seats with burning faces and laughter rolling out of our chests. His closing song was based on the comments of a young fan who had approached Vic after a show The boy told Vic how much he loved his music, how he had downloaded Vic's songs, but that he couldn't buy a cd that night because beer was too expensive. He didn't have a ticket for Vic to sign because he had gotten into the show for free (His friend knew the doorman). But, "will you sign my IPod? Will you sign my IPod, please?" We wanted Vic to play on and on. But he smiled and unfastened his guitar and left the stage, which was to be taken over shortly by Jonathan Richman.

Later, I approached Vic to ask him a few questions about a band he knew way back when, Smoke. My friend John is looking for Brian Hollerin and thought Vic might know how to get in touch with him. As we were talking, Vic kept looking up over my shoulder and then back to me with a pleasant, busy smile. I turned to my right, to catch sight of his distraction. Will Ferrell was standing there (what?), waiting, so I hastily thanked Vic, and sped away. Surreal. The contrast between the small quiet songwriter and the tall actor was a bit startling.

Vic will continue to tour this fall to promote his latest album with New West "Ghetto Bells", many dates with the freestyle dancing, multi-lingual, cow bell loving Jonathan Richman. Quite a pair. Check out Vic Chesnutt's website for tour details, MP3s, pictures, and the latest news.

She's a Study

TV Eyes:

Jason Falkner - Three O'Clock, Jellyfish, the Grays, studio and/or touring musician for Air, Beck, Eric Matthews, Susannah Hoffs, Weezer, Rufus Wainwright, Aimee Man, Lisa Loeb, Travis, Sir Paul McCartney and many, many more...

Roger Manning Jr. - Jellyfish, Imperial Drag, Air, Moog Cookbook, Beck

Brian Reitzell - Redd Kross, Air, Music Producer/Supervisor for soundtracks - The Virgin Suicides, Lost in Translation, Thumb Sucker, Marie Antionette, Friday Night Lights

From Roger Manning's website:

"While working on the Air album in Paris in the winter of '99, Brian Reitzell and I fantasized about putting together yet another side project (we had already teamed up for the soundtrack album to Logans Sanctuary, the fictitious follow up to Sci-fi film classic Logan's Run, for Emperor Norton Records). We had had such fun working with old Jellyfish band mate Jason Falkner on a couple of tracks for the soundtrack album that we wondered what would happen if we all got together for a new project inspired by all of our collective 80s influences. TV Eyes was born kind of. Jason was inspired by the idea as well, and in the summer of 2000 we finally began. We wrote the album in one week in Jason's living room but unfortunately spent the next two years, because we were all so busy with other projects, recording several versions of the record, trying to perfect our vision before unveiling it to our collective fans. From the winter of 2002 to the spring of 2003 we developed the most elaborate live show any of us had ever been involved with individually or together. Determined to execute the album live as a trio, we assembled not only complex backing track accompaniment but all original synced video to be shown on a stage screen behind us. TV Eyes debuted its 10 song album and accompanying video show in May of 2003 to sold-out crowds at Los Angeles' Troubadour and Synthetic night clubs. We played additional shows in October of 2003 as well. After many mixed reviews of both colossal praise and simultaneous utter confusion from the major labels, we continue to this day in trying to find a proper home for the release of the record...."

It's 2006. Crap. The 12" single released on Emperor Norton sold out long ago. But you can still download a few songs here.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Sideburns....A new look for me.

Pictures from the Skybucket Showcase at the Bama theatre in Tuscaloosa.
August 25th, 2006

Sara Leah Skybucket and Craig from the Dexateens

Jody and Greg from Through the Sparks

Keelan and Les from the Fizz

Keelan and Les go to the Prom

Travmo and Miss Kim

"Falafel Beluga Whale. Falafel."

a homemade love and a heart of gold

originally posted April 6, 2006

"And you won't have to ask if I'll be here...isn't love the reason to live in the dark...."

Driving over the mountain to the Moonlight tonight, I grasped my phone tightly to my ear, dicussing with one of my dearest friends in the wide world the sound of Barton Carroll. I tried to tell D of the darkness, the beauty, the strange sorrow of his light woodworkers voice, the kind of sad dream that you would find on the front porch of a cabin, rocking back in his chair and telling stories of lost loves, lost moments, lost days...his is a voice of sunset, the sound of the coming night and all of it's long kept secrets.

With all of this that I was thinking, everything swirling around in my head through the traffic and busy night lights, all I actually said to him was this (lord help me), "You know how when you think of Iron and Wine, you picture a field, Barton Carroll is the woods." Does that really capture this, every little thing I wanted to say? No. He laughed and said that it made sense in that Saraway. I smiled. He knows me too well. We spent last summer catching up after years apart, writing not just every day, but almost every hour. He became my best friend and closest confidant. I miss the job I had, if anything but for the hours I sat after my little amount of work was finished, I had so much time to tell him everything. Now I fly and fly and fly. I know he knows and understands. I just miss our emails of whimsy and lunch plans as we sat 500 miles apart.

A small family of listeners sat close tonight as Russell Medford, Donna Jean Godchaux-McKay, and Rob Malone led an absolutely brilliant set. I wish that I could convey to you what the Fiddleworms have become, performing as a live band. Everytime I see them play, I am surprised by their tightness, the intricate little lines sewn by each musician through out this warm, loveworn patchwork quilt. As the Fiddleworms play, each one in turn rustles into step, side to side in an earthy, full hearted wonderland of sound. Tonight, tonight was even more special. Tonight was an acoustic set complete with piano and high harmonies. The blend was perfect. It was a small crowd, as I said, and it was another one of those nights when I wished that by a push of a buttom, or even by a simple thought, I could bring all of those close to me instantly there, just to experience what I was experiencing, just to know.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Would that I were you....

I'd think the same thing too...

I'm listening to Sun Kil Moon. Leaning back to peer through the partition to make sure that no patients have wandered through the door silently. A little paranoia, when I hear the door slam across the room, down the hall, but it's just Alicia, the lab tech. Nevermind.

Carry Me Ohio
I see Kristin the Canadian's tri-shaded pink converse resting on the dashboard of my car. I see the morning drive, returning from Nashville, just as the sky turns grey and it starts to rain. We decide to get off of the interstate. I turn down a road and see a sign for the Jack Daniels distillery in Tennessee. We drive and drive down this empty fourlaned highway for a really long time. I keep looking at the clock...I've already missed English class that morning...I can miss Mass Com too.
This trip was worth it. The Mark Kozelek show from the night before, dark stage and shadowed grimace, crazy guitar fingerings and beautiful low tired voice, echoing through the speakers of the stock stereo in my honda civic, pulling the grey day into our car with a smile.

I always liked rainy days. Growing up in Brownstown, during spring showers, I would run out sans shoes and socks to saunter through the puddles pooling up on the warm asphalt road. I miss that smell. Not like the rain here in the city. There was a greenness to it, the fresh and cool and clean of a muddley puddley day.

muddley puddley...

Kristin and I never did make it to the distillery. We drove and drove and once the rain started to come down a bit harder, it's almost as if it pounded the life out of our little side trip. Pulling back out onto the interstate a little while later, we looked at each other and smiled. It was enough, this moment was enough, there would be something somewhere else on down the road, maybe something more interesting.

Mark's guitar made the wheels turn in time...the rain drumming out the changes....

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

the best Sara Miller Sunday/Amber's Going Away For Another Week Party ever.

Wilson Pickett's Land of a 1000 Dances broke into a small conversation last night and suddenly I found myself surrounded by my friends, who were all dancing dancing dancing. Down in the basement of the Pickwick, in a beautiful smelly divebar named the Upsidedown Plaza, we jumped across the empty dirty floor between the bar and the Jukebox and laughed and screamed and shimmied our way through a short moment of euphoria.

When the song ended and Amber and I looked at each other and smiled the widest smiles, panting and rocking back and forth a bit, like one might after they've finished a short but hard run... Instead, this was the Jerk, the Mashed Potato, the Alligator....

She stood next to Will, her nametag matching "I (heart) Bill" to his "Billy Bob". I had started tagging my friends earlier afternoon, from a box of VISITOR stickers which I'd found in a dusty corner of the ER office. After we'd all been sporting our new nicknames for the better part of an hour, more and more people came over to ask me to name them too. I doubt by this point that I was really very clever (being a few redneck corona's in), but it was fun just the same, naming a member of the newly formed Sunday night Hat Club "Hairyhead" and slapping a sticker that said nothing more or less than "I LIKE CHEESE" on the chest of an intoxicated frat boy.

Good times.

So this coming weekend is a big one.
(don't they all seem to be as of late? It's so freaking awesome!)

Barton Carroll will be flying in from the evil Northwest to tour in support of his latest album on Skybucket, "Love & War". He'll start in Charlotte with an instore and a show on Thursday and will be coming to Birmingham on Saturday the 16th for the second night of the Skybucket Showcases.

Skybucket Showcases?

Yes. Two shows this weekend at the Bottletree. I"m so so so excited.
Here are the line ups/beautiful posters:

The Grenadines
Through the Sparks
Wes McDonald and the Fizz

The Great Book of John
Barton Carroll

The posters were designed by Zach Hobbes.

Don't they remind you of Weeble Wobbles?

In any event, we'll be bringing the Skybucket Photobooth to the show. So you can get your picher taken just as purty as them boys from the Fizz:

JR Taylor says nice things about Barton Carroll in the Black and White.