looking forward to

89792_lgAs I mentioned early last week, I am looking forward to music and soccer later n the month of May. The first of the shows I am excited to see is Little Hurricane. Though I have seen them before (and blogged about them too), this is the first tour that they are headlining. They recently released their second album Gold Fever. This Saturday, May 24 at The Parish, my favorite indoor venue in Austin. There are tickets still available.

In between that show and the next set of shows falls another soccer event. It is in Dallas in association with the Boys & Girls Club and educates players on Hispanic Scholarship opportunities. It will also be treat to be working alongside Marcelo Balboa again. Though a short clinic, this is a great opportunity for the players to interact with each other and Marcelo while learning some skills and playing the game. Some of those attending the clinic will be selected as ball boys or girls for the Mexico National team game the following day.

After working the soccer event in Dallas on Friday, May 30, I will drive down to Houston for Free Press Summer Fest, May 31 – June 1. This two day festival grows bigger and better every year. My Fancy Pants Pass gives me rapid entry, access to air-conditioned tents, access to shorter bar lines and some private viewing areas. I bought them at the blind-pre-sale for less than what even the general admission passes are going for now.

 

 

Though I am most excited about Chvrches, I am also thrilled to see Jack White, The Kills, Vampire Weekend, Edward Sharpe…, Big Gigantic, Tune-yards, Washed Out, Lord Huron, Wildcat! Wildcat!, First Aid Kit, Poolside – and that is just to name a few. I am sure you understand the level of my excitement. Tickets are still available and if you search around may find someone selling them for less than the current face-value.

 

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running

Running is an essential part of my life. It is so much more to me than exercise; it is a drug that allows me to remain balanced in a number of ways. When I fall into a running rut, I will run every day for a week; much like I am doing this week with the blog. The regularity gets me back on track, helps me get back to where I want to be.

For the remainder of March, after the ½ I ran in Little Rock back, my running had struggled. I was still running three or four times a week but without much purpose; meaning without much promise as well. Going into April, I knew I needed to get back to running more regularly. My brother and running partners have helped with this in several different ways.

My brother, Joe David, is a Physical Therapist at the Texas Physical Therapy Specialist Bee Caves location. He invited me to try out their AlterG machine. As you can read more about if you click on the link, this machine fights gravity – taking away your weight – allowing you to run while your body recovers. I started with running on the treadmill with 100% of my weight then took it down to 85 – then to 70 which is really where I could begin to feel any stress on my joints begin to disappear. I continued to increase the speed and eventually the incline. At 50% of my body weight I compared the way I felt while running to that of my youth soccer players. By the end of my run, I was running with only 30% of my body weight.

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The AlterG also has cameras surrounding the legs to allow its user, and the doctors standing nearby, to analyze stride, foot-strike and balance, among other things. The side view showed my stride or gait to be pretty well in sync with what I though it should be. The view from the front just looked like someone was going to trample my face. I found the rear view to be the most helpful. With this angle, I noticed that my left foot falls out a little as a step. My anatomical and functional training as a massage therapist interprets this to mean that I need to strengthen core, gluts, and hips to remedy this. Honestly really returning to full body strength training altogether will help.

In addition to that strength training, I am also getting back to running regularly in general. Currently I am focused on building up mileage.  Primarily I have been running with Sarah a 3:16 marathoner that prefers, and excels accordingly so, to run the half. My other regular running companion is Lesley a 3:19 marathoner. Off the road, I am part of a regular-texting-group of guys that are very serious about running. They keep me excited, motivated and accountable.

The thing that has proven to keep me more responsible to running regularly is a race on my calendar. I am leaning toward the Chosen: Marathon for Adoption in New Braunfels. Though an out-and-back course, it is beautiful, peaceful and for a great cause. This year our Ninja Running Team will compete in order to support our friends, Chad and Cris Yarbrough, in their adoption.

 

April Shows

Austin always has great live music but the month of April proved greater than most. This is said with consideration that March has its SXSW and October its ACL. Two of the bands from my current top five played her in April in addition to another great live band that I saw long ago, before they were big.

Arcade Fire played the Austin 360 Amphitheater on April 10. We took a party bus from downtown Austin – which we learned is the way to travel out to 360 if the band you want to see isn’t playing IN town. Of course we brought along all the essential party supplies and enjoyed ourselves in a way that we could not have, had we driven ourselves. When the tour was initially announced, it was requested that attendees wear “formal attire”. Some people didn’t like this at first thought but I was happy to see a good percentage of folks decide to give it a go. I wore what I called “fun formal” including Loud Mouth Golf pants, a tuxedo shirt, bow tie and cumber bun. Prior to the show we also did some tailgating of sorts and had our share of pictures in the bluebonnets.

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The actual concert was true to form with an unmatched musical performance, show effects of lights, confetti, dancing, music and large paper mache heads of the Pope and Obama. They played mostly from their new album but a good number of older songs as well. Those of us up close in the pit did our fair share of dancing our pants off, some literally.

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The National played the Moody Theater, also known as ACL Live, three consecutive nights. They sold out every night, which speaks to their talent and Austin’s good taste. Since I was out of town the first night and had soccer the second, I attended the third. At least that’s what I tell people. Honestly, the first two nights sold out before I had a chance to grab a ticket so I had to wait until the third, magical, night was added. Though I went to this show alone, I enjoyed running into some old friends and meeting & hanging with some new ones. Concerts are good places to meet people because you know you already have something in common; it is an experience that you can build upon. Warpaint opened and you know I am a sucker for a front woman, this is a band of four. I had seen these girls before, at an ACL once upon a time, but felt this may have been one of their better shows. They had certainly matured musically. The National was, as one of my friends put it “soul crushingly amazing”; I might change that slightly by adding an -ly to amazing and wrapping the description up with beautiful. The universal humanity of their lyrics reaches deep within the individual whose ears they fall upon. Matt passionately poured out his heart in each song. He even got the crowd involved by firstly walking throughout the entire crowd and ultimately having us all sing along to an acoustic Vanderlyle. The full set list can be found HERE on my Instagram.

Since Vampire Weekend is set to play at FPSF in Houston at the end of May, I had initially passed on the ticket to Stubb’s. When I realized how many friends were attending, and considering Stubb’s is my favorite venue, I picked up a ticket from a couple just before they unloaded to a money-hungry-scalper. The show held a friendly happy feeling to it general and it was good to be there with friends. It was also good to be a little nostalgic, thinking back to when I saw them at indoors (at a pre-remodeled) Mohawk a number of years ago with just a handful of people indoors versus this sold-out show at Stubb’s. I look forward to seeing them again at the end of May, but the details of that festival are reserved for this Friday’s post.

 

best of sxsw 2014, sights & sounds

Here are the bands I enjoyed the most for SXSW 2014:

Panama

Lindsey Stirling 

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Kishi Bashi

MSMR

Moon Taxi

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Bleachers

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Phantogram

So that should get you started on some good music.  I also want to give Honorable Mentions to The Dolls, Haerts, Simian Ghost, The Mowgli’s and Boy & Bear. Most Improved since last time I saw them live goes to: Charli XCX. Most of these shows I owe to Palladia and Pandora; wonderful music selections this year. Other pictures I took can be found on my Instagram.

Happy Listening!! Much Love!!

sxsw, the rest of the story

After spending Sunday recovering from SX and yesterday mourning its passing, I can finally sit down to process the event. After my Thursday morning post, the return of sxjd, things really picked up for me. Pandora Discovery Den became a home base for me, I met a number of other fascinating people and Lindsey was finally able to make it into town.

The Gatsby played host to Pandora for the week. Tommy Page came through on his promise from Wednesday and added me to the VIP list. Sometimes a VIP badge or wristband is just that, an item.  The things it can get you include some of, but rarely all of, the following: expedited or separate entrance; free drinks or food or both; a separate, often elevated viewing platform. This particular wristband provided all of the above. I think I most enjoyed being able to actually speak with the staff of Pandora and its associates, as well as those that work at The Gatsby. Turns out, I have a number of mutual friends with the owner, Scott Cook. I most assuredly look forward to returning once they renovate and reopen.

Thursday, Lee Fields & the Expressions opened my day up. Mr. Fields soulfully rocked it. While he is  in his sixties, and played during the 60’s, he backed by a band whose members are closer to my age. This show was a gem because it won’t be too long before we will no longer hear this genuinely soulful music live. Generations that follow may try to replicate it and will possibly get away with it because none of them have experienced the real thing, but it just won’t be the same. Following this show, The Coup gave me the best hip-hop performance of my week. Especially impressed by the talents of Silk-E.

For Thursday evening we rendezvoused at Rainey Street. Lustre Pearl had a hip-hop showcase which a friend let us into; incidentally, we returned the favor with our bar tabs. Lindsey, Taylor, Allison and I did not stay at Lustre Pearl long. As hip-hop is not our favorite genre and it takes a really good act to keep us engaged. We ventured down to Container Bar, the newest establishment on Rainey. As the name suggests, the bar is constructed of shipping containers. They were hosting DJ’s for the week by Filter #rethinkmusic; I posted a picture of the place #rethinkarchitecture. We did go back to Lustre for  Schoolboy Q. Though he was significantly better than the acts playing Lustre earlier, I don’t have much to say about him; nor will I see him again.

Friday, Pandora for The Mowgli’s followed by Boy & Bear. Both of these bands fall into a genre of music that I prefer. This beginning set the tone for the day. After Pandora we went to the Cedar Door, a frequent hangout for us at SX. This year’s party was sponsored by Naked Grape. Per usual, they brought in good line-ups. We caught the end of The Dolls, which both Lindsey and I really liked. In addition to an elite musical talent, they also rated high on showmanship. During the MIsterwives set, we headed to Fader Fort then (due to line) decided to meet some friends for dinner and drinks at The Hightower instead. This is an establishment I will revisit in the future. We specifically enjoyed the pickled suspects and pork jowl tacos. For Friday night, we returned to Lustre Pearl, catching the Internet, Panama and LeMaitre, with DJ sets in between. Panama, familiar to me from Spotify,  proved to be one of my top shows for the week.

Saturday, I spent the day with my brothers Joe & Robert and roommate (also considered a brother) Jacob. We spent our entire Saturday at the Pandora Discovery Den at The Gatsby. This is when I realized that Jacob knew Scott and was able to meet him as well. The day shows were all good. Kishi Bashi followed by Lindsey Stirling were both brilliant. After their shows, someone arranged Fireball shots for the entire upstairs VIP bar. This is the largest shot call I have ever been a part of or even witnessed. The final day show was Black Lips. I liked their performance here more than the time I saw them at Fun Fun Fun Fest, where Val Kilmer was the main attraction as some promotional production piece.

Saturday evening, we went back for more Gatsby. Marie Miller led things with a folk/bluegrass set. My brother Joe actually spent a good time talking with her and my photo of her band is now on Entertainment Weekly’s website.  Moon Taxi was up next; an indie-rock band that I look forward to seeing again. They will be included in an additional post which will feature music (or videos) from my favorites of the fest. Little Daylight, the next act, also makes that list. After a stand up set from Albert Hammond Jr., which drew celebrity Macaulay Culken, only one show remained. Bleachers!! Thought some of the acts I saw throughout the week featured bands that have grown and matured over months or years since I last saw them, Bleachers proved to have done the same in just three days. They were bigger, louder and better “better – better – better” than the Palladia showcase. It was a great way to end such a wonderful week.

There will be a supplemental SXSW 2014 post: featuring my pictures and the web’s music clips from my favorite bands. Additionally, possibly most importantly, here is a link to help the victims of the drunk driver that careened into a crowd. SXSWCARES

the return of sxjd

As the winds of SX blow music into full swing, today is a good time to give a little report on my adventures so far. Another way to consider it is, three days down, three to go; even though the next three are supposed to be bigger! For now pictures have been posted on my Instagram & Twitter but I will come back and add some of the better ones here, later on.

On Monday, I started my SXSW with a long line at the Spotify House. Last year, the house was at Cenoté, my favorite Austin coffee shop but this year they moved closer to the action, into a building (and backyard) on 6th street. About 30 minutes into my wait, and 10 minutes away from walking away altogether, some friends of mine sent me a text from @sxspotify that allowed me to skip the line. Inside, free drinks and great music from: Holy Child – Jetta – Phantogram.

After Spotify, my friend Chris and I headed to Scoot Inn for the Applauze party. Check out their app, a way to follow events and even RSVP. This was a party I was looking forward to because MS MR was one the headliner. My phone was near death and I asked a guy near me (who I noticed still rocked the ancient 4s like me; Apple, feel free to send me a 5s) if I could borrow a charger. He said sure, but instead of reaching in a pocket or a nearby backpack, he walked backstage and reached into his luggage. “Oh! You’re playing later?” “Ya, we were supposed to play now but due to noise ordinances we’ve been moved to later and inside.” This is important because I was sitting inside, in between sets of course, charging my phone when I asked a guy with a laptop to update me on the schedule. Apparently, he was in charge; he returned with a freshly printed schedule that he had just finished typing on said laptop. When I saw him later I asked if he’d seen Rich, because I had his phone charger. This seemed like a good time to ask if I could get some guys in that were stuck in the VIP line. Not a problem at all for him. By dropping his name to another staff member I also scored drink tickets for my friends and me. The line-up at Scoot Inn: Charli XCX – Robert Delong – MSMR – RAC (DJ set) – the kind and talented Rich Aucoin.

Tuesday, I started my day with yet another line to pick up my Hype Hotel wristband. That I will need it is yet to be seen. I stopped by the Empire Control Room and caught Stag. After this I ran over to the Spotify House as home base. My text worked again but then noticed others with the text were turned away. Meaning I may not make it back to Spotify this year. After regrouping at a friend’s apartment we all walked to Cedar Street Courtyard for Dyn’s party. Here I became a philanthropist VIP – making sure non vips were having a good time and not spending a ton of money – if anything the bartenders received more of a tip 🙂  Though we were there for the headlining Deertick, we also caught these shows: Tan Vampires – Baskery – STRNGRS – The Felice Brothers – J Roddy Walston & the Business.

Wednesday was to be a day of music rather than party, self-implemented after over zealously VIP-ing it on Tuesday night. Pandora Discovery Den was where I began, another wristband pick-up and most definitely my favorite stage set-up yet. It is held at Gatsby, across 6th from Easy Tiger and right alongside Waller Creek. I caught just one show there this time around: Haerts (yes, that’s how it is spelled:)

I went back to the Empire Control Room because of Tuesday’s success in finding Stag. The lawn party was in full bloom outdoors, drawing a little more of a crowd than the day prior. Indoors, once again, was Simian Ghost.

After spending a bit at Empire I stopped in Parkside to treat my body to better food and drinks. While enjoying some oysters, I was personally able tell this to the man behind the Pandora Den’s vision, Tommy Page. I look forward to visiting the Den again later this week.

My final stop for the night was the Palladia party at Cedar Door. A small stage with big sound hosted a number of talented musicians and voices: Bravesoul – Johnnyswim – Sam SmithPhantogram (again, I know, so worth it) – Aloe Blacc & the Grand Scheme – Bleachers. I was most looking forward to Phantogram, as I knew them, but was very curious to see what the others would have to offer. I was not disappointed; contrarily even, quite impressed with Bleachers as this was their first show ever. Look for more from them in the near future.

Finally, those involved in last night’s tragic accident near the Mohawk are in my thoughts & prayers. I hope that everyone can manage to have a fun and safe rest of the week. Much Love!

sxsw 2014 rsvp’s (updated)

That time of the year to begin RSVP’ing to all things SXSW. Last year, was the first year that I attended some of the interactive parties and hope to do so again this year. However, this also means that my SXSW starts sooner.  I attend SXSW to meet people, enjoy great music, and spend time with friends. There are a number of day and night parties that allow one to do just that, while enjoying free drinks and sometimes food as well. Some parties require rsvp and then wristband pick-up prior to party; be sure to read the fine print.

RSVP’s competed to date (mostly music), click on the party to open the RSVP:

Sparefoot – Friday, March 7

Spotify,  Monday – Friday

Applauze – Monday, Scoot Inn

Windish Agency Party – Friday @ Mohawk

Fader Fort, Wed – Sat

Pandora, Wed – Sat @ The Gatsby

Red Bull Sound Select, Wed – Sat

Universal Music Group – Thurs & Fri @Palm Door

Filter: Showdown at Cedar Street, Thur – Sat

Filter: Haggar @ SXSW, Clive Bar – Rainey St. Wed & Thur

Filter: Dutch Impact Day Party, Bar 96 – Rainey St.  Wednesday

Filter: Dr. Marten’s, Bar 96 – Rainey St. Thur & Fri

Filter: Tumblr, Clive Bar – Rainey St. Friday

The Hype Hotel, Tues – Sat @ 505 E. 7th

The Green Room, Wed – Sat @ The Brew Exchange

Paste, Wed & Thur

Fresh Catch, Wahoo’s, Thur – Sat

Rachel Ray Feedback, Sat @ Stubb’s

Urban Outfitters After Party, Sat. 10 – 4 am @ Scholz

and, of course, I will be on the look-out for a few others. I will add to the list above any new links worth checking out but the most immediate post will come via tweet.

There are many other free day and night shows that do not require any credentials or RSVP. Without any planning you can catch great acts at Waterloo Records, Hotel San Jose & Mellow Johnny’s.

v-day / b-day weekend

As I’ve mentioned before, birthday weekends for me are busy because of its proximity to Valentine’s Day. My Valentine’s Day was spent incidentally with two of my brothers, Joe David and Robert. I had taken care of Lindsey by sending flowers to her work, providing her with chocolate covered strawberries, unique chocolate bars and a bottle of champagne. So I went on a bro-date to one of my favorite bands, White Lies, who I have also mentioned before. This was at least the fifth time I have seen them and found them to be all the more talented and to have grown accordingly in their comfortably and maturity as artist. As it would turn out, Robert ended up going to their Sunday show in Houston too.

Saturday, I went to the new Whole Foods at the Domain. If you live in Austin and have not made it up there yet, definitely give it a go. The Draft Shack has 45 beers on draught and a small yet quality selection of oysters. I enjoyed a four-beer flight and three types of oysters. With each I chose one familiar taste. Though I posted these to twitter and untapped, I’ll repeat them here: The Hans Pils was my standard for the beer, I added the Austin Beerworks Peacemaker, Hops & Grain’s Pale Dog – Pale Ale and the North Coast Brewing Company’s Brother Thelonious. For oysters, Malpeques were my go to and I tried the Cavadish Cups of PEI and Chillmarks from MA. Though the shack, “shuckingly fabulous”, is my favorite place to eat at this particular location, there are several other options – a Ramen bar, taco bar, sushi bar and the like.

Sunday, I was under the impression that I was headed to Top Golf to meet with a couple guy friends. Key words “couple” & “guy” and my brother Joe had organized it. I thought a small gathering was going to be a good chance to get in some swings and catch up with these guys. Instead, it was a full on surprise party arranged my Lindsey. Several friends and couples I knew through her were there, as well as my sister Jessica and her family. The thing that got me the most was probably the fact that I was truly surprised. I will spare you with the millions of things that ran through my mind leading to, during and following this event but will sum it up with one sentence. The behind the scenes communication and organization that took place between my girlfriend and siblings may have been the greatest gift of all. Lindsey and I ended our evening with a very nice dinner at Arro. This a place worth checking out if you haven’t already.

Today, following a seven mile run, I was treated to Barefoot Contessa’s Sticky Buns. I placed a pic on my Instagram. Tonight we will end my wonderful valentines/birthday weekend with Lord Huron at Emo’s.

zero acclimation and zero accumulation: a report of an Austin winter

Warning: I’m going to have to stand on my soapbox ice box for a hot second here and, unfortunately, talk about the weather; this post is less refreshing and more of a rebuttal.

I have lived in Nebraska, endured winters there and even visited colder climates during cold times. I’ve run in the cold or the wind or the rain, which proved to be not much a problem for me. I have backpacked in 20* temperatures and colder, and survived without complaint. However, the weather in Austin lately has been unbearable. I accredit this to the lack of my ability to acclimate. Colder climates, basically anywhere north of here, ease into winter months. During my eight plus years in Austin, as I wrote a little over a year ago, winter has not been a season but a cold front. The variance of temperatures, 85 last Friday to wind chills of 15 today, do not allow us Austinites to become accustomed to the low temps making every difference in degree detrimental.

Schools are shutting down because of a chance of icy roads. Since the two icy days we had in January resulted in over 500 wrecks, I feel the closures are valid. What I see on the internet about our circumstances are less valid. The “school’s closed because it’s cold” cry that I am seeing across the internet seems legit because, of course, we all hiked to school through four feet of snow – uphill – against the wind – both ways. Truth is, there is a difference in driving in snow and driving on ice. I don’t expect writing about the weather conditions will help people understand that we experience a different kind of cold down here. Nor do I expect anyone will look to us with great sympathy, but I do hope that northerners can at least see what we mean.

I know cold! I know that Austin could be colder. I also know that cold is more enjoyable with the element of snow and all things fun: sledding, snowball fights, snowmen and snow angels. I recognize my living in Austin means I do not get to experience that. That is a reason I do not live north, many have it worse but they choose to live in said climate. I know that some southern cities, like Atlanta, have been hit with harder winter moments than we have here. My point is simply that without accumulation of snow and the acclimation to the cold, things are far less bearable, enjoyable and manageable.

new and new-to-me music

Last week I was able to see a few bands play at The Parish but am just now finding the time to write about them. My friend Stephen initially bought the tickets because of the opener, a band called: You Won’t. We usually buy two tickets to any given show and are each other’s plus one, should his wife for him or Lindsey for me not be able to make it. Of course there are times that there is someone else that may care an awful lot about a particular band and they get to go in that case. We trade tickets back and forth this way and the non-purchaser gets the drinks.

The Parish is one of my favorite spots for live music in downtown Austin. I appreciate the acoustics and intimacy it provides. Depending on the time of year, it is one of the few places that I will attend indoor shows in Austin.

You Won’t put on an incredibly entertaining show. I do not mean to say they had lights, smoke, or dancers; the two-peice were themselves engaging. One audience member near me referred to the lead singer as a magician while I feel he was more of a comedian. Comparisons aside, the music itself was also good. They used a variety of instruments, including a saw and demonstrated a wide vocal range as well.

The main act last Wednesday was Lucius. While I described the opener as entertaining, I feel Lucius was energetic. At one point, there were eight drumsticks hammering out beats. I am known to be a sucker for a front woman, Lucius’ two front women proved no different. Their personalities mixed with their musical talent definitely make them a band to watch this year. As an encore, they increased the intimacy by playing a couple acoustic pieces from the middle of the crowd. Here is a video from that wonderful moment that was forwarded to me. 

Incidentally, Lucius knows a friend of mine Caleb Hawley from Berklee College of Music. Caleb just released the first part of a new album; I believe Lucius helped had something to do with its production. Side 1 illuminates Caleb’s musical genius and soul.