Thursday, November 30, 2006

Moss Glen Falls | Young Adventurers Club | UPDATE

I've been meaning to post about Moss Glen Falls for a while now. A friend, who also has two little kids, has a great book called Best Hikes With Children Vermont, New Hampshire & Maine. So, we decided to test our four-year-olds and check to see if they were able to do some fun local hikes. The book raved about a hike in Stowe up the side of Moss Glen Falls. So, last October, we packed a lunch, put the kids in their boots and headed off to Stowe.

The trailhead for the hike is easy to find. You go about three miles north of Stowe on Rt. 100 until you see Randolph Rd. bear off to the right. Follow Randolph Rd. to Moss Glen Falls Rd. and make a right. The trailhead and parking are about a quarter of a mile down the road on the left.

The book promised that kids would never bitch, whine, moan or complain at any point during the hike because there is so much for them to see. And, thank goodness, the book was right. The first part of the trail has the kids walking on wooden planks through a swampy area. Then the path goes along a stream where there are plenty of places for the kids to stand by the waterside and chuck rocks and sticks into the water.
Then you reach the base of the falls. The climb up is a bit steep but the exposed tree roots work well as steps for the kids. Then about halfway up, you finally get a good view of the falls. Oh, what a view. The place is gorgeous.
As you can see, the waterfall is actually a series of falls that combine to make this piece of natural beauty. The only tricky part of the hike is that the drop off the cliff will kill you. It's about a 100 foot drop at some points. So, my friend and I made sure we kept ourselves between the edge of the ledge and the kids. But, even ten feet back from the edge, the views excited the kids (and us).

The path from the parking lot to the top of the falls is probably a half-mile. So, it's fairly short but still long enough to keep the kids happy. At the top of the falls, we walked along the ravine until the banks lowered to the river's edge. We found a nice spot to have lunch before heading back down.
On the way up, I hadn't turned around and missed the beautiful views across Stowe of Mt. Mansfield. However, we caught them on the way down. There was still enough color in the trees to make for a classic Vermont view.
Having said all of that, I don't want to give the impression that the hike up the falls is only for kids. My wife and I went back a few weeks later without the kids and loved it again. So, if you are in the area and have 45 minutes of free time, check out the falls.

So, now that we know our kids can handle some kid-friendly hikes, we are going to try out a new program from the Montpelier Section of the Green Mountain Club called the Young Adventurers Club. It's geared towards kids 6 and under but is open to anyone.

The idea is to put together outdoor activities during the winter months that will get the kids outside and enjoying our local natural beauty. One of the things I like about the program is that the activities are all in the Montpelier area. So, they kids won't get cranky in the car and, most importantly, won't fall asleep on the way home. I'd rather have them sleep at night than during the day in the car after a day of winter hiking. This stuff is a guaranteed good night sleep.

So, here's the schedule:

Adventure Schedule
December 9 - KICKOFF! - Paine Mountain Hike & Cocoa Slurp, Kids Medium, Lexi Shear 229-9810
January 6 - Snowshoe North Branch Park, Kids Easy, Dave Blumenthal 229-9810
January 13 - Snowshoe Hubbard Park, Kids Easy, Alyssa Krebs 485-4312
February 3 - Snowshoe Spruce Mountain, Kids Difficult, Matt Krebs 485-4312
February 18 - Learn Cross Country Skiing at Morse Farm, Kids Easy, Dave Blumenthal 229-9810
March 18 - Winter Wander in Weisner Woods, Kids Easy, Mike Wetherell 223-8493
April 1 - Spring Ski/Walk to Smugglers’ Notch, Kids Medium, Cara Robechek 223-3333

Now we just need some snow.

UPDATE: jds has some great info in the comments that I wanted to bring up to the post:

Those falls are #4 in the Best Falls of the Northeast, as arranged by the fantastic website Waterfalls of the Northeastern United States. In that same area is another not to be missed set of falls, Bingham Falls at #8. The trip there is less of a hike and more of a walk, except for a short huffer on the way back. My son walked the majority of it when he was just over a year old. But he's a bit of a bruser.

Speaking of Moss Glen, there's another set of falls on Rt. 100 that share the same. The one in Granville, #19 on that list, is located a bit south of Warren and right on the road. It doesn't have the natural surroundings as the others, but still beautiful.

And why we are talking about falls on Rt 100, let's not forget about the best swimming hole in central VT, Warren Falls. Warren Falls are as impressive a set of falls as anything in the waterfall heaven of Western, NC, even if the weather isn't good for taking a dip.

BTW, I got so caught up on falls along the Rt 100 corridor that I forgot to mention the best of the best, located in our proverbial back yard! Benjamin Falls is situated between Barre and Montpelier behind the VW dealership. If you follow the stream up river from the parking lot (west side is best) you'll come across a raging cascade that goes on and on. No official trail exists and it is on private property, so proceed at your own risk. But as any old timer will tell you, it's definately a gem.

Die, Pitchfork, Die! | UPDATE

My morning interweb routine brought me across this pretty good article on Slate by Matthew Shaer that looks into "The indie music site that everyone loves to hate." Check it.

UPDATE: In the comments, TMoore and some others mentioned the need to check a lot of reviews and not rely on just Pitchfork. I agree 100% with that and wanted to draw some attention to a cool site that pulls lots of reviews for an album onto one page. It's called metacritic and covers music, movies, games, books and TV. It certainly makes for a good read since you can see the full range of opinions of an album on one page. Just enter the album in the search box on top of the page and start reading. That's it.

The Decemberists | Metropolis | Montreal | Nov 5th

Playful and whimsical...yet catchy as hell. That's how I'd describe The Decemberists' live show. On metallic plastic discs, they are much more serious. More like a Russian playwright. In concert, however, they are more like Sonny & Cher with lots of shenanigans and banter.

A few weeks ago, I headed up to Montreal with the king, Bill Simmon of Candleblog and his wife, & DanZ, also of Candleblog, and his wife. It was quite the mini-bloggers convention.

After a false start due to someone forgetting the tickets (I'm not saying who but his name rhymes with Sill Bimmon), we got up to the city on the hill in time to grab some much-desired sushi at Bistro Isakaya. We missed the opening band but that was OK because it was much more entertaining to listen to DanZ hold court on whatever subject raced through his attention at the moment.

For those outside the area, DanZ has a weekly TV show on VCAM where he pontificates on various subjects and takes phone calls from irritated listeners. Then the sparing begins. Thankfully, he let me off easy and didn't drill me like his listeners. To give you an idea of what his shows are like, here's a clip from one.

So, we got to the theater with just enough time to grab a beer and make our way down to the floor. We were stuck towards the back of the room but the crowd wasn't as big as the crowd at Metropolis earlier this year for the Bell & Sebastian/New Pornographers show. The floor was just as packed as that earlier show but the entire balcony was closed which probably holds another 500-700 fans.

The Decemberists came out with a Japanese-themed back drop in accordance to the The Crane Wife. It looked like a classier version of the freakish back drop that Styx used during their Mr. Roboto tour. Yes, I saw the Mr. Roboto tour.

The biggest difference in their lineup since their show at Higher Ground two years ago was the absence of Petra Haden. I love her voice so I was disappointed to see she wasn't there. However, the lady who replaced her did a good job too and the overall sound from the back of the room was great. You could look at each instrument and hear it in the overall mix.

The show started out with a nice combination of tunes from all their albums. However, I then cursed it by mentioning the great set list to the king. From that moment on, I don't think they played anything except tunes from The Crane Wife. I like The Crane Wife but I also like a good mixture of songs throughout a show.

This is a clip from "Engine Driver":

They were also up to their usual hijinks. At one point, they had a dance contest going in the crowd and at another time they split the entire room down the middle to simulate two angry mobs during "16 Military Wives". The split floor actually left a wide path all the way from the back of the room to the stage. I joked about running straight up the path to the stage but I'm too much of a pussy to ever pull that off. Then during the encore, Colin Meloy grabbed a fan's cell phone from the crowd and called someone on it while singing and dancing to an unreleased tune called "Culling of the Fold". This is a clip of the tune before he took the cell phone from the crowd.

Finally, during the final song, Chris Funk and other members of the band came down onto the floor to organize the crowd into a reenactment of the battle for Montreal between the Indians, Huguenots and British. Meloy stayed up on stage and directed the action from up there. I caught a bit of it in this video.

One other nice part of the show was that it finished before 11pm. That makes the drive make much easier. The only problem was that one of us had misplaced his ticket from the coat check. I won't say who (but he also forgot the tickets!) but we love him anyway. We finally got on the road fifteen minutes later. No big deal.

Here's the weird thing about The Decemberists for me. I own all of their albums. Whenever I listen to those albums, I enjoy them. I've seen them twice and enjoyed both shows. If they came through the area again, I'd definitely go to the show. However, if someone asked me who my favorite bands were, I'd never even think of mentioning them. I have the same problem with Wilco. I don't know what it is. I like them but something stops me from becoming passionate about them. I know lots of people worship them. So, it something about me and not the band but I don't know what it is. It's just sort of strange how I feel about them.

The Black Keys | Majestic Theater | Madison WI | Nov 27th

False 45th's midwest correspondent, TK, caught the boys from Akron Monday night in badgerland and was excellent enough to send over this review. The Black Keys are touring in support of their new album Magic Potion.


Mon., Nov. 27
Majestic Theater
Madison, WI

Perhaps I can stop complaining for a little while.

I get frustrated that between my work schedule and the selection of artists that I can't catch more bands in Madison, which forces me to drive to Chicago or the Twin Citiies (or fly to places like Coachella and Sasquatch). I also get disappointed at times that despite my affection for rock and blues, both can easily become tired genres in the wrong hands.

Then The Black Keys come along and take care of all my bitching in one fell swoop.

The last time I was in the Majestic, a converted old theater, was when it played indie movies. Now it's gained a bit more notoriety in the Madison area due to the incessant number of fights involving the hip-hop crowd.

In some ways, I can see why because the redone Majestic is such a sardine can that it essentially facilitates bumping into someone. In this instance, it made for a nearly ideal setting - think Montreal's La Tulipe shrunk to a half or a third.

My only complaint about the venue is, oddly enough, about alcohol. When a show sells out, have more than three bartenders working so some of us (yeah, me) don't get caught back there for the first two songs of the show. Fortunately, the only bar is elevated and at the back so sightlines are pretty good everywhere (not so sure about the upstairs level).

After that, I was pretty happy. Concert bliss for me is a quality band at a reasonable price in a tiny venue where I can stand a mid-range jumper from the stage.

The sold-out crowd was cozy but not absurd. For me, it actually enhanced the sweat-soaked riffs and pounding coming off the stage.

My only regret is they didn't play longer. Highlights inclulded Strange Desire, Grown So Ugly and the first two tracks off of Magic Potion, Just Got To Be and Your Touch.

I felt 10 A.M. Automatic dragged a pinch but otherwise Auerbach and Carney were in top form. The Black Keys have drawn an adoring legion of fans including Radiohead and Robert Plant and after a show like this, it's easy to see why.

It was interesting reading a recent Onion piece where the Keys considered themselves rock and loathed being labeled as blues while ripping the Chicago goofball scene to shreds. If The Keys continue to rip through more sets like this, they'll continue to rightfully assume the high ground on that discourse.


The Black Keys | Your Touch | Buy

A Christmas Story House | UPDATE

So, I'm leaving for Cleveland today for a meeting tomorrow morning from 9-12:30. However, my flight home is not until 6:30pm. So, what is a music fan to do in Cleveland when killing time? Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Hell, no!

I'm hoping to hit the Christmas Story House. If you haven't heard already, some folks have bought the house that was used in the classic holiday movie and restored it to the way it was in the movie. Leg lamp and all.

I love that movie and it sounds so's perfect. I hope they even have the Bumpuses' dogs running through the house. There is always the chance that my plans will change but if I get to visit the house, I'll certainly update this post.

UPDATE: Like so many things with my job these days, my meeting ran long. Rather than ending at 12:30, we didn't get done until 4pm. So, I'll have to wait for my next trip to Cleveland to check out The Christmas Story House.

However, I did come across this fine illustration of why I don't like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. How do you go from the MC5 rocking the protests in Grants Park in 1968 to a friggin' kiosk in an airport selling nick-nacks? I saw this yesterday and got annoyed. I know the place houses lots of interesting artifacts but it also sucks a lot of the soul out of rock and the art form's rebellious culture. And that kiosk is the perfect example of what it's become.

The Diableros

I love that fuzzy jangly guitar sound from the early 90's. Wrap it in some lo-fi production with buried vocals and a few hooks to suck me in and I'm sold. That's basically what Toronto's The Diableros did with their 2006 debut album You Can't Break the Strings in Our Olympic Hearts.

Their name would give you the impression that they have a Latin music twinge to their sound. However, these guys are all shoegaze. No mariachis here. Apparently, the name refers to people who are able to change themselves into animals; sort of like the sister in The Wonder Twins, I guess. Who knows but at least its a better name than a lot of other bands coming out these days.

So far, it seems like they are only touring in Canada but hopefully they'll start making it south of the border in 07. Unless they suck live, then I don't care one way or the other. Either way, You Can't Break the Strings in Our Olympic Hearts is still a sweet and crunchy album.

By the way, you can stream their album online here.

The Diableros | Working Out Words | Buy
The Diableros | Push It to Monday | Buy

Here's their video for "Sugar Laced Soul":

60 Degrees on Nov 30th

If you think the weather is freaky around here lately, check out the photo above. That's the observation deck at the top of Mt. Washington. That's right folks...on Nov 30th, there is no snow on the top of Mt. Washington.

That's weird.

Historically, Mt. Washington has averaged over 40 inches of snow in November with an average temperature of 20 degrees. I understand standard deviations and anomolies but this is still a weird winter so far.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Possumhaw Coming to Montpelier | Dec 1st

About a year ago, I wrote a review for Seven Days of a Burlington bluegrass band called Possumhaw and their debut album Split Rail. The short review is that I liked it. Nothing groundbreaking but the female lead singer has a beautiful voice and their songs are easily enjoyed.

Well, now I'll finally get a chance to see them live when they play at Positive Pie II on Friday night. The show starts at 10pm and they'll be sharing the bill with The Eames Brothers who I know nothing about. No cover.

Possumhaw | Come On In | Buy

A Century of Covers

Hey, Belle & Sebastian fans, come and get it!

The Italian indie label Kirsten's Postcard has put together a Belle & Sebastian tribute album called "A Century of Covers". Here's the best's a free download. Just go to the label's site and click on the download link below the album cover.

The file will come down as a ".rar" file which is basically a zip file with all the mp3 files. If you don't have WinRAR to unzip the file, you can download it for free from c|net. Have I ever mentioned how much I love the internet?

The track below is Mixtapes & Cellmates "fuzzified" contribution to the tribute.

Mixtapes & Cellmates | Photo Jenny

Friday, November 17, 2006

J DiMenna | Radio Bean | November 5, 2006

The J Dimenna show two weeks ago at Radio Bean in Burlington was fantastic. Lap steel guitar was a fantastic addition to every song, the majority of which were new tracks. As with most shows, the songs came off much more honest, direct, and rocking. These dudes (+ vibraphone playing dudette) are the most underated group that I've seen in a long, long time.

More photos here.

More dates here.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Bill's Basement Tapes | Calexico

Back in September, I posted about my friend Bill, his amazing archive of bootlegs and a Stevie Wonder concert. At the time, I was expecting to regularly post some more tracks from various discs Bill had shared with me. However, I failed to get my blogging ass in gear. But I'm finally getting back to the idea with a few fantastic tracks.

Bill is a big bluegrass fan and, in June of 2005, attended the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. One of the shows he captured was Calexico's set. Now, there are a lot of Calexico's bootlegs floating around out there. The thing that makes this boot so special is that Bill matched up his audience recording with someone else's soundboard recording. The two recordings were perfectly matched up and a final "matrix recording" was made from the combination. The result is a great mixture of the clarity of a soundboard with the balance and atmosphere of standing in the audience. It's a joy for any Calexico fan.

I wish there was a place I could direct you to for the rest of the tracks. However, I don't use bit torrent and don't know how to search for those type of files. But I'd try pocking around etree if you are interested in a complete copy of the show.

Calexico | All the Pretty Horses (Telluride Bluegrass Festival) | Buy
Calexico | Glowing Heart of the World (Telluride Bluegrass Festival) | Buy
Calexico | Alone Again Or (Telluride Bluegrass Festival) | Buy

Top Vermont Critic

"Kimock, who is something of a god amongst neo-jam and groove fans, is the latest in a long line of six-string blowhards who have little to say on their instruments but take plenty of time to do so. Backed by a jam-by-numbers band, the guitarist substitutes technique for soul on one cut after another for an album's worth of aural Velveeta."
That's one of the paragraphs from Casey Rea's review of Steve Kimock's 2005 album, Eudemonic. It was easily my favorite music review of the last year and it appears that others agree because, last weekend, the Vermont Press Association gave Casey the top prize (along with 7D literary critic Margot Harrison) in the arts criticism category. Apparently, the Kimock review was one of the pieces 7D submitted on Casey's behalf.

Since I've been a critic of the local music critics in the past, I'm glad to see the Vermont Press Association give their award to the right person.

Monday, November 13, 2006


Any regular readers of this blog know of my love for SwedePop. Well, I don't have any for you today but it's close. DanePop!

Same socialist economic system. Same hip-shaking pop sensibilities. Different country name.

These guys are called Figurines, hail from Denmark and, in 2006, released their sophmore effort, Skeleton, in the US. However, I haven't heard much of the record. All I've heard so far is their song "The Wonder" which was part of a sampler of songs from bands that played this year's CMJ festival in NYC. However, that one song is worth sharing.

It has this killer guitar riff over the first twenty seconds that I love and gets repeated throughout the song. Whenever the song needs a hook, they pull out that little infectious measure. It reminds me of the riff that made The Beastie Boys' "Sabotage" such a success.

Now I guess I need to get the rest of the album.

Figurines | The Wonder | Buy

Here's the video for "The Wonder":

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Best. Doughnuts. Ever.

If you like doughnuts (and who doesn't) and you are driving on Rt. 100 between Stowe and Waterbury, stop and grab a bunch of apple cider doughnuts at Cold Hollow Cider Mill. They're freakishly fantastic.

They are made with the apple paste used in the giant presses that squeeze out the cider. So, they taste like apple cider. Plus, they are made there, on the spot, all day long. So, they're super soft, fresh and warm.

One warning...Cold Hollow Cider Mill is a tourist trap of the nth degree. Kind of an annoying place. However, the doughnuts rock and are sold close to the door. So, you can get in and out before the hordes of knick-knack gathers make you feel worse about the world.

Nicola Conte

Some people call it acid jazz but of all the musical genres, that one is just horribly named. It implies some sort of free-range hippie explorations of sound and what Nicola Conte does is anything but unstructured. It's tight. So tight, your head and feet start gyrating within seconds of his music hitting your ear canal. The guy does a great job of mixing together swinging bossa nova beats with cool seductive horns, strings and vocals for a lounge veneer.

In usual DJ fashion, he blasted out of the gate with his opus, Jet Sounds, in 2000. Since then, he's done a smattering of remixes and one album of fresh material. That leaves a lot of free time. So, I'm guessing he also spends a plenty of hours playing clubs and smoking clove cigarettes. Isn't that what Italian DJs do?

Nicola Conte | Forma 2000 | Buy
Nicola Conte & Rosalia de Souza | Bossa | Buy
Isabelle Antena | Omerta Bossa (Nicola Conte remix) | Buy

Here's the video for his very Koop-like "Kind of Sunshine". It really kicks in at the 0:40 mark.

The Beckham Rule

On the eve of the MLS Cup, Major League Soccer has made a dramatic change to its rules. For the first eleven years of the league, each team has had a salary cap that has prevented it from signing the most expensive talent in the world. The purpose of the cap was to stop teams from spending themselves into oblivion (like the old NASL did in the late 70's) and get teams to focus on cheaper American players which would boost the quality of the US National Team.

Well, starting next year, each team will be allowed to ignore the salary cap to sign a marquee player. Additionally, teams will be able to trade their designated player slot to another team which means that some teams may have two designated star players.

The rule is being called The Beckham Rule since it seems to have been largely pushed by a few owners so they could bid on David Beckham next summer when his contract with Real Madrid expires.

Why are they doing this? Because 17 million people tuned in to watch the World Cup Final last July but less than a million will tune in for Sunday's championship match between New England Revolution and the Houston Dynamo (ABC, 3:30pm). There are a lot of soccer fans in the US. However, few of them follow the top domestic league in their own country. The owners in MLS believe that by signing a handful of star players, those non-MLS fans will start watching MLS games.

While, I think this new rule will be fun for existing fans, I don't think it will add a lot of new fans. The fact of the matter is that there are very few household names among soccer players. Yes, Beckham would bring in a lot of fans. However, that would be for one team. Who are the other twelve teams going to sign? Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane would two other household names. However, it pretty much ends right there. Is Red Bull going to sell enough additional tickets to cover the cost of signing Luis Figo?

Despite the new rule and the owners' deep pockets, they are still going to be looking for older players who are available on a free transfer. That cuts down the pool of potential players significantly. Plus, you are probably going to see a handful of teams such as Los Angeles, Chivas and Red Bull New York pursue these sort of players vigorously and other teams such as Dallas and Columbus ignore the opportunity. So, it won't raise the overall level of play throughout the league. It's just going to be a bit more glitzy in spots.

By the way, my prediction for the MLS Cup is Houston over New England 2-0 with Brian Ching bagging both goals.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Mayday! Featuring Cee-Lo

Did you hear about that incredibly catchy hip-hop tune that was released last spring with Cee-Lo singing?

If you answered "Yes", you are probably thinking of the new rulers of the pop world, Gnarls Barkley. However, the hip-hop duo Mayday! released a song called "Groundhog Day" around the same time with Cee-Lo singing the chorus. Yet, despite its infectious beats, it hasn't seemed to have made much impact.

It's biggest success has been on YouTube where the video has had about 2.2M views. However, that hit count is a bit suspicious because it's only received 100 comments and 851 ratings. Both of those numbers seem incredibly low for a video that has been watched so many times.

Why hasn't the song been a bigger hit? I have no idea. I'd guess that it has something to do with marketing but I really don't know. Regardless, it's a fun song to bounce along to.

Here's the video:

Mayday! featuring Cee-Lo | Groundhog Day | Buy

Sock Sale | UPDATE

This is a reminder for everyone in Vermont that doesn't hunt and likes socks. When all of the macho guys in the area head into the woods this weekend looking for a good buck to mount, me and 10,000 women head over to Northfield for the annual sock sale at Cabot Hosiery.

I posted about this last year so I'll just lay out the facts.

Why: cheap high quality socks
Where: Cabot Hosiery's factory in Northfield along Route 12
When: November 11 & 12, 18 & 19 from 8:30-4:30
Phone: 802-485-6066

At the same time, there is also a t-shirt/sweatshirt sale down the road at Norwich University and a fleece sale at Black Diamond Fleece on Gallison Hill Rd. in Montpelier.

To give you an idea of how big of a deal this is around here, my sister and her partner are driving up from Portland, ME just for the sales.

UPDATE: We hit all three sales today and the crowds were insane. We've been going to these things for a few years and we've never seen crowds this big. Every place had a long line. However, the worst was the sock sale with an hour and a half wait to check out. It's definitely better to hit these sales during the second weekend after the crowds have shrunk.

That's the crowd at the sock sale. You can see the line snaking through between the tables of socks. There wasn't a chance in hell I was going to wait on that line. However, my sister's partner was willing to wait for everyone. So, the rest of us went to the t-shirt sale down the road while she waited. I guess everyone in line was pretty cool because, afterwards, she said she had never seen so many patient people in one place.

That's the scene at the t-shirt/sweatshirt sale. I always forget that Cow & Lizard, the folks who make children's clothes, have a sale in the corner of the t-shirt sale. I like their stuff but it's crazy expensive for kids clothes. So, its nice to pick up a few of their shirts and pants for $5 a pop at the sale.

Sweet Ride

I've been wanting to get a picture of the owner of this bike cruising "chopper-style" around town but never got the chance. Then I saw it chained up today and decided to snap a shot of it.

Not only does it have the crazy front forks, I love the wooden chair leg stuck in the middle for support. In a town of freaky bikes, this one reigns.

Friday, November 10, 2006

U-20 World Cup Coming to Canada

Did you enjoy last summer's World Cup and want another taste? Well, next July, the FIFA U-20 World Cup will be played in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, Burnaby and Edmonton.

Obviously, this isn't as big of a tournament as the regular World Cup but it's still a fun international affair featuring lots of great future players. For example, the last U-20 World Cup featured Argentina's Lionel Messi who has gone on to star at Barcelona and in Germany last summer for the Argentine national team. So, this isn't a bunch of crappy town rec league players.

The only downside I see to this is that the games in Montreal will be played in Olympic Park which is (a) a crappy stadium and (b) indoors which means the games will be played on astroturf. I know there have been a lot of advances in astroturf over the years but the ball still rolls and bounces on fake turf in an exaggerated manner. It hurts the quality of the game.

Having said that, it isn't enough of a problem to keep me away.

The US will complete in a qualifying tournament in January and February to see if they advance to the finals next summer. They are favored to advance but it's a weird format and crazy stuff happens. If the US advances and plays in either Montreal, Ottawa or Toronto, I'll go there for the games. Vancouver is a long-ass flight and I don't feel like going to Edmonton and Burnaby. So, if they are playing in Western Canada, I'll just go to see whoever is playing in Montreal and watch the US team on TV.

By the way, the US team will be featuring the much-heralded Freddy Adu. However, I wouldn't be surprised if Josmer Altidore of Red Bull New York, who is the same age as Adu, steals the show. He looked great after joining Red Bull late in the season and scored four goals in eight games. Check out his sick goal against Columbus.

At this point, they've sold about 400,000 tickets. However, there are still tickets available. Unfortunately, they are still selling package deals and won't be selling individual tickets until next spring.

The schedule for the games can be seen here.

Ticket info for the games can be seen here.

The teams that have qualified so far are: Jordan, Korea Republic, Korea DPR, Japan, Spain, Scotland, Czech Rep, Austria, Poland, Portugal and Canada (as the host).

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Peter Welch & Arcade Fire

I have to give some big props to Peter Welch and his campaign staff.

When most political candidates take the stage to give their victory speeches, they tend to choose tired old songs such as Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop". A perfect example of this is Bernie Sanders' choice on Tuesday night of Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down".

However, for those listening closely on Tuesday, you'll have noticed that Vermont's new rep to the US House, Peter Welch, bounded onto stage to the bassy thumpings of Arcade Fire's "Rebellion". Very ballsy choice.

I don't think Welch is cruising around Vermont jamming out to Funeral. It was probably chosen by his staff. However, it speaks to the youth and hipness of his staff.

By the way, as for the meaning of the song, you can find a discussion of it here. The fan concensus seems to be that the rebellion is against living an overly cautious life to the detriment of a life full of enriching experiences. Nothing political. I think the important thing was the title and rocking music.

Photo courtesy of Freyneland.

Arcade Fire | Rebellion (Lies) | Buy

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Roots Live

The Roots, the Philly-based "hip-hop band" with 8 albums to their credit, the latest of which is the highly regarded Game Theory, have a fantastic website that captures the element that makes them stand above all others. is an archive dedicated to providing free mp3s of Roots' concerts. The site currently hosts approximately 45 shows that go back as far as 1993, many of which contain video. I'm currently digging their March 13, 2003 show at the Roseland Ballroom.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Parade of Dylans | UPDATE

Being a big Bob Dylan fan, I was disappointed that I had missed the first two Dylan WannaBe Contests. So, I was glad when my son agreed to stop by the contest on the way home from one of his friend's birthday parties. We got there a little late but wound up in the front row when I went in the wrong door which put us backstage.

It was kind of intimidating when we poked our heads out of the door next to the stage and saw a few hundred faces staring back at us. Even weirder was the fact that there was a few empty seats in the front row; dead center. So, despite being two of the last people to arrive, we had the best seats in the house (or church to be specific).

We stayed until the intermission which was right around my son's bedtime but while we were there, we caught eight Bob Dylans. Here they are and the song they performed.

"I Threw It All Away" | My son didn't realize this was a lady with a beard and moustache drawn on to look like Dylan. Once I explained to him though, he thought it was very funny. She seemed to be new to playing the guitar so I give her big props for having the courage to get up there.

"Girl From the North Country" | Back-to-Back tunes from Nashville Skyline. Of the Bob Dylans I saw, this guy was one of the Top Two.

"Subterranean Homesick Blues" | I'm not sure if this guy was actually playing the right chords from the song. However, he knew all of the words and had the strumming rhythm down.

"Song to Woody" | An a capella version. Kind of a weird choice. Of the entire Dylan catalog, I never would have thought of "Song to Woody" as a song that would translate into an a capella tune. However, to the lady's credit, she pulled it off. She has a nice voice.

"It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)" | Another a cappela Bob Dylan. However, this guy was comedic. He made up a story about how its a little known fact that Dylan released an album of Gregorian chants during his post-crash hiatus. He then proceeded to do a Gregorian chant version of "It's Alright Ma". I thought it was kind of amusing but my son and the rest of the crowd was laughing hysterically.

"He Was a Friend of Mine" | This Bob Dylan dedicated his song to his friend who died in Iraq. Big applause at the end.

"My Back Pages" | Big guy who plays softly.

"Tomorrow Is a Long Time" | Besides being easy on the eyes, she was the other Bob Dylan I'd put in my Top Two. Very pretty version.

The guy on the left provided most of the funny moments of the night. As "Bob's roadie", he would use a flashlight to guide each performer onto the stage. Then he'd attack the sagging mic stand with zeal and duct tape as he asked the Bob Dylan of the moment various questions such as "Still doing those underwear ads?" He was my son's favorite by far. The whole car ride home, he kept talking about how funny he was.

As you may be able to tell from this ridiculously blurry photo, it was a big crowd. Usually, I pack a post like this with a bunch of silly nasty snarky comments. However, I don't really have too much to rip into. The performers were good and nobody took themselves too seriously. And the crowd seemed to be having a great time. For a free event, it was a fun time.

My only disappointment was that I didn't have enough cash on me to get a t-shirt. They had designed a nice shirt for the show. Perhaps, I'll send Patrick an email and see if he has any extras for sale.

UPDATE: The Times Argus has an article about the contest in today's edition. To toot my own horn, the two people who I thought were the best that I saw took first and third. First place went to Ethan Gilbert who sang "Girl From the North Country" and third place went to Anna Beerworth who sand "Tomorrow Is a Long Time". I didn't see the second place winner, Dave Halberg, sing "All I Really Want to Do".


Here's a good site to bookmark that will get even better over the next few months. It's TourFilter. However, the name is a bit of a misnomer. Its more of a tour aggregator than a tour filter.

The site is set up for 24 cities/areas in North America. When you click on a city, it pulls together all of the upcoming concerts in that city onto one page. You can view the show listings by club or by date. Now, here's the to each artists name, there is a link that says "mp3". When you click on the link, TourFilter connects with The Hype Machine and displays all of the blogs with posts about and mp3 files from the band you want to see. One stop shopping for concerts.

I met the guy, Chris Marstall, who created the site when I was down in Boston for the NEMO music festival. Nice guy. The site already includes Western Mass for all of the venues in the Northampton/Amherst area. However, it doesn't include Montreal and Burlington. I asked Chris about those absent cities. He said Montreal was their next city to add and will be coming sometime this fall. The tricky part of the venues in Montreal is their dual language websites that TourFilter pulls from. However, Chris said its their most requested city so he was going to figure it out.

He said that since Burlington only has a small number of venues, their site wouldn't save people much time. Therefore, it's unlikely to be added anytime soon.

But if you want a quick one stop check for shows in Montreal (when it gets added) and Western Mass, it's a good website to bookmark. The only downside of the site is that it looks like something that was written in an early version of DOS. It's very functional but not very pretty to look at.

By the way, until Montreal gets added to TourFilter, I use this site for a quick listing of Montreal shows. It's not bad but doesn't give you the additional feature of linking into The Hype Machine.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Were you a grunge fan in the late 80's and early 90's? And we aren't talking about Pearl Jam here. We're talking true grunge bands like TAD and Cat Butt.

Well, if so, you should head over to Lamestain. Its a new blog focusing on bands from the Northwest during that era. Even if you are just a general music fan, its a cool site because the two brothers who write were heavily into the scene back then and clearly know their stuff. So, its a good read from a purely music history perspective also.

Plus, they are soccer fans. 'Nuff said.

EZ Archive 3.0 Sucks

EZ Archive is the site I use to host the songs I share on this site. Well, in October they decided to switch from version 2.0 to version 3.0. 2.0 worked just fine and 3.0 doesn't appear to have any superior functionality. In fact, 3.0 is worse than 2.0. So, I have no idea why they decided to make this switch.

Three reasons why 3.0 sucks:

  1. The migration was a pain in the ass. I tried following the steps in the email they sent me but I screwed it up because they listed the promo code I was supposed to enter below the step that said, "Complete the account enrollment." So, I didn't know we were supposed to enter a special promo code and got stuck in an endless loop where they kept asking me for my credit card and what account I wanted to upgrade to. I guess I should have read the entire instructions first rather than reading one step then completing that step and then reading another step. But give me a break. This is supposed to be a part of a hobby and hobbies shouldn't be such a hassle.
  2. At first you couldn't link to the songs you had archived on their site. You could just listen to them while on their site. It shows a complete misunderstanding by the folks at EZ Archive about how their site is used.
  3. They finally changed the software and allowed users to create external links to the files but the "link creation process" is a much longer process than it was with 2.0. Plus, all of the info tags from iTunes are stripped from the file. So, when you download the file using the created link, you get a file with a name like cg14d78.mp3 without any attached info.
I complained to EZ Archive and they said they are trying to solve the problems. So, for the next few days, I won't have any tunes to share until they resolve the tags issue.

I know I could use YouSendIt but downloading files from YouSendIt is a bit of a hassle. So, I'm going to give EZ Archive a few days to resolve it before I switch to a different archival site.

Between this switch to 3.0 and the mess Blogger created when they shifted people over to Beta Blogger a few months ago, the net is sucking at customer service these days. Hopefully, YouTube won't pull any account migration crap anytime soon.

Bob Dylan Wanna-Be Contest | UPDATE

It's back. The Third Annual Bob Dylan Wanna-Be Contest.

The contest originally started as a promotion for Riverwalk Records and was held in the store on State Street. However, last year, it was moved to the Unitarian Church on Main St where it will be this year also.

Despite being a Dylan nutter, I missed both of the first two contests. However, I'm going to try to catch at least part of the show on Saturday night. The poster doesn't say what time it starts but I've sent an email to Patrick asking him about it. If I hear anything, I'll post an update.

UPDATE: From Patrick's email:

"The shows begins at 7 p.m., promptly. My guess is that is will run to 9 or 10: I have an astonishing 27 Dylan wannabes signed up, the most yet."

I won't be able to get down there until after my kids go to sleep around 8:30 but with 27 contestants, I think I'll get a fair share of Dylan Wannabes.