We’re all as mad as hatters here

In my past three days of fervent Tom Waits research, I’ve come across several sources, including Tom himself, describing some of his repertoire as “Halloween music”…so what better time for an introductory post than All Hallows’ Eve, eh?

I mean, seriously…..

How is his voice even possible??

I am fascinated by Mr. Waits. He seems like a cartoon character come to life (the coolest cartoon character ever, that is), with his crumpled fedora and distinctive swagger and a constant cigarette hanging from his mouth.

He is, at the same time, an old-fashioned kind of cool –

 – and a little bit crazy.

In other words, my favorite kind of artist.

I think this video is a perfect example of the classic Waits “character,” and also a pretty great piece of songwriting. These last few days I’ve become hopelessly obsessed (which is one of the best feelings: when you know you’re just touching the surface of a vast catalog of inspiration), so I’m sure there are more of these posts to come.

In the meantime, have some more Halloween music (sorry, couldn’t find a more interesting video to accompany the song).

edit: Found a way better video to end with (god, everything about this is just so weird and awesome):

A night with Neil and the gang

So, here we are again with another Bridge School “not-quite-review”(I correctly predicted last year that I’d be back for more) and let me first get this out of the way: HOW HAVE I GONE THIS LONG WITHOUT BEING A TOM WAITS FAN? I’m so disappointed in myself! He was there in my dad’s record collection all along, but somehow I never ventured down that path. That said, I think seeing him perform live was the best possible way to get introduced to this guy…and watching from backstage wasn’t too shabby either!


A pretty sweet view.

[Backstory:] I was totally going to buy lawn tickets to the Bridge School concert this year, but before I could, it turns out that my work was giving out free tickets (in prime seating, no less) to employees. Win #1.

The lineup for the Sunday concert included CSNY(!), Fun., Elvis Costello & Diana Krall, Tom Waits, and Heart. Win #2.

Aaaaand, without going into too much detail, Alex and I happened upon two VIP passes thanks to an awesome friend, and got to spend all of Tom Waits’ set backstage brushing shoulders with the artists. MAJOR WIN #3.

So, with that out of the way, here’s a quick rundown of this year’s concert, from what I saw:

So freakin’ good! I was unfamiliar with most of the songs they played, but WOW, Ann Wilson’s voice sounds better than ever. “Crazy On You” was the crowd (and my) favorite. 10/10 would see again.

I applaud fun. for doing a super exposed, bare-bones set (seriously, setup took like <5 minutes). And I guess I can forgive Nate Ruess for calling Mountain View the East Bay, haha. Their set was super short and they kept it to the hits, but ALSO, they played Queen’s “Somebody to Love” which was amaaazing.

Fun.! Throughout their set I kept getting distracted by what was unmistakably David Crosby watching from the side of the stage (can you spot him?). 


Diana Krall / Elvis Costello.
We missed part of Diana Krall’s set, but came back in time for a couple duets with Elvis. Wasn’t aware that they were married, how cute! Elvis Costello got the crowd really hyped up – it was a great set and made me realize I need to start listening to more of his stuff! 

My Morning Jacket.
Had never heard much of these guys before last night, but really enjoyed their music. Neil joined them for “Harvest Moon,” and at the end, they did a wonderful tribute to Lou Reed (R.I.P.!) by bringing everyone out for “Oh! Sweet Nuthin.”

Tom Waits.
Oh my goodness, what can I say. Tom absolutely stole the show. Everything was so entertaining: the band, the music, the rambling anecdotes (there was a story about borrowing a bunch of money from Neil Young in the 70s to start a restaurant, which was planned to serve gluten-free eel, donuts, and fish scales…what.). What a character! I couldn’t name a single Tom Waits song before this show, but I became an instant fan of the vaudeville style rockers (e.g. “Singapore”) and unexpectedly genuine ballads (see “Tom Traubert’s Blues,” complete with pre-song banter). And I got to watch it all from backstage, which was a trip. Without a doubt the best part of the night.

Queens of the Stone Age.
Sorry guys, I was still reeling from the previous performance to hone in on your set. Kudos on the vibes-work, though!

and lastly…

First of all, I’m SO GLAD I got to see this. I saw Crosby Stills & Nash at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Concert in New York, which was great, but there’s something about that 4th voice that just makes it so much better. Legendary. Their set was pretty short, and I’m still a n00b so I didn’t recognize them all. I thought the a cappella version of “What Are Their Names” was cool. And loved the added harmonies on “Long May You Run,” as well as the “Within You Without You” homage in “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes”! But maybe my favorite part of the whole thing was the image of David Crosby, Stephen Stills, and Graham Nash standing at their stationary microphones with their black suits, and Neil Young stomping around in the background with his hoodie and ripped jeans, looking like a bona fide hobo. Love it.

So, I’ve decided. As long as I’m living in the bay area, I’ll be going to this concert every year. I feel like a jerk for waiting until the end of the post to mention it, but the Bridge School is really what this concert is all about. By attending, you’re supporting the school, its teachers, and most importantly, its students. That’s reason enough to go, but of course, experiencing an awesome night of music doesn’t hurt either! I’m grateful to Neil Young for putting together the show, and also grateful to Salesforce for supporting the organization!
Now…..off to listen to more Tom Waits.


Hardly Strictly: A Sampling

Last weekend was the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in Golden Gate Park, which we used as a way to gauge how crowded our new neighborhood can get (a lot of buses overflowing with concert-goers, but the HSB crowd is generally more mellow than, say, the Outside Lands crowd, so it wasn’t bad at all!).


My dad goes to the festival every year. We met up with him on Saturday morning for brunch, then dropped him off at 30th and Fulton (weird role reversal: the two 25-year-olds dropping the 66-year-old* off at the concert, double checking that he has sunscreen and water). I only went for the last part of Sunday, once the crowd had died down a bit.

I watched a little bit of Gogol Bordello, then wandered to the Banjo Stage, following the sound of Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell playing one of my favorite Gram Parsons songs, Return of the Grievous Angel. Emmylou plays the festival every year, but it was my first time seeing her so I’m glad I stuck around (I’ve been wanting to see her since becoming infatuated with Gram Parsons and his albums GP/Grievous Angel, and her voice sounds just as amazing as it did on those records!).

As I was leaving, I also caught some of The Wood Brothers, who were really cool. It was a good end to the weekend, and the best part was that the festival was only a 20 minute walk from our apartment! Still can’t wait to get a bike and enjoy the park (it’s practically our backyard, after all).

I’ll end with a video of Chris Isaak playing Great Balls of Fire, which came highly recommended by my dad and his buddies. Complete with fiery piano!

*Sorry for revealing your age, Dad!


In high school, my AIM username was “lenntwistle”: a combination of John Lennon and John Entwistle. (I thought I was sooooooo clever. Too bad I had to explain it every time I had a conversation with someone [although let’s be honest, the only people I chatted with were band kids who were just as nerdybut not as classic rock-savvyas me.])

Anyway, the only reason I bring it up is because it’s October 9, one of my favorite self-proclaimed holidays. JOHN DAY! i.e. the day that John Lennon and John Entwistle were born, 1940 and 1944 respectively.

In honor of these guys, I thought I’d share a song by each. These are two of the most rocking, dance-inducing songs I could find, because after all, these guys ARE rock ‘n roll:

Happy birthday, John and John!

Another instant obsession

I’ve had some seriously stressful weeks latelythe kind that involve skipping lunch and sleepless nights and life evaluationbut just as everything was coming to a head, I stumbled upon an amazing artist whose music that instantly made me feel better about…everything.

Crazy how something as simple as a song can do that: just make you step back for a second and take a deep breath and enjoy life. This guy, Kishi Bashi, creates otherworldly sounds with his voice and violin, and here is a beautiful video of one of my current favorites:

If you are intrigued, do yourself a favor and watch/listen to some more: It All Began With A BurstBright Whites. These songs are great on the album (which I almost immediately downloaded), but watching him perform them live is even better. I hope I get to see him in concert at some point!

For the record, he also just seems like a really cool guy. His YouTube account is mostly short random videos like this which have less views than our high school pit videos (how?!), along with a couple incredibly well-produced videos of his songs.

I’m an instant fan.