Dimension Seven (July 17-22, 2018 / Victoria, Seattle, Bozeman,Wall, Minneapolis)

Been too busy to blog–good thing on vacation, eh?–and when in the car (35 hours of driving last three days) we’ve been audiobooking, podcasting, and rocking out! When I have had time? I’m telling you, the Internet ain’t made it to the upper left quadrant, people. So–a quick recap. This is s’posed to be a music blog, so it’ll have, um, hints of that.

Victoria, British Columbia

I had never planted my feet on foreign soil, so I was just thrilled to be in the most British Canadian city. Music played very little part. I visited the Fan Tan Alley shop Turntable, where the proprietor seemed stuck in the Sixties but I did find the above record. Didn’t buy it–$50, and the sleeve was about cashed–but it’s a good ‘un. I also trekked up Fort Street to Ditch’s and snagged a previously rare Sam Rivers ECM and a neat Dick Hyman Fats Waller tribute which he played into a Bosendorfer machine (for what that’s worth). The night before we left, I was forced to witness the current version of Lynyrd Skynyrd playing live (on TV only, thankfully) at a pub where the Old Fashioneds were too good for me to get up and leave (Bartholomew’s).

Other highlights:

Butchart Gardens, a beautiful botanical display. (See previous entry.)

My first real dish of Ramen.

Russell’s, a used bookstore so overwhelming I couldn’t buy anything.

A primer on an interesting facet of the Canadian health system.

We hiked all over its spread–I’d estimate 12-15 miles–notably about five clicks out to its east breakers:

We walked through the Empress Hotel a couple times, but they didn’t have low tea.

We weaved through Fisherman’s Wharf.

I really got used to seagulls outside my bedroom window.

…and before jumping back on the Clipper back to Seattle, we had time to pop into the Odean Theater for a screening of Sorry To Bother You, which, as much as I love Boots Riley, graded out to about a B/B+–it needed a little more juice, I thought.



Return to Seattle

Again, music didn’t figure much into our brief return visit to Seattle (I played country music classics during our time in the highly-recommended Mediterranean Inn), but being with our Seattle friends is rock and roll! They operate spontaneously and delightfully. Our dear long-time friend Frank–he and I used to write collaborative punk 45 assessments for The Banks and Bibles Revue–led us on a marvelous foot tour of downtown Seattle.

The Echo Statue:

A skywalk:

Seagull feeding (I tell ya, I love them birds):

The Gumwall:

Smith Tower, bottom…

…to top:

And finally a Lyft out to Ha! in Fremont to reunite with the whole gang, toast everything good, and go listen to garage 45s at some old vintage lounge. It was hard to leave.



Bozeman, Montana

We blasted Hendrix again all the way out of Washington, and after being diverted from I-90 by a brush fire, we found ourselves at Wild Horses National Monument with a wonderful vista.

Bozeman was not scintillating, but we arrived in time to find decent food–locally-raised bison, anyone?–and great cocktails at Ted’s Lounge, which also is the only restaurant I’ve ever visited that has played The Gilded Palace of Sin on their sound system. I must say, though, that the mountainous beauty of this part of the country makes an 11-hour drive pretty damned pleasant. New audiobook: Louise Erdrich’s Future Home of the Living God.

On our next leg, through Wyoming and into South Dakota, we visited Little Big Horn, where apparently we’re still trying to see Custer as a hero, or at the very least worth memorializing, but far more riveting was Devil’s Tower. We’d been blasting Nirvana (I find their music’s aged very well and is indisputably great–just like Jimi’s), and we’ve been shooting a 20-second highway video every 100 miles, so I had a corny inspiration:



Wall, South Dakota, and The Beauteous Badlands

We’d been to The Badlands before, and they are a must. If you go, stay at Frontier Cabins and request a meadow view. It was too dark upon our arrival and too foggy upon our departure for me to snap a good pic, but here’s an interior.

We got up early to drive through the park on our way to Minneapolis. We blasted punk rock (Minutemen, Roky, Minor Threat), were stunned again by the views, and dropped some cash for a stack of books to express our love for the National Parks Service (Black Elk Speaks, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, and Crazy Horse: Strange Man of the Oglalas). Here’s a selfie with my beautiful one.

On the way to our next stop, I had an Indian Taco (made with fry bread) at Al’s Oasis. I thought you should know. We continued listening to the infuriating podcast In the Dark (infuriating due to the miscarriage of justice it explores–Mississippi, goddam!!!), Erdrich’s fascinating if flawed new novel, and, of course, blasted Prince all the way into Minneapolis, where we’ve never been.



Minneapolis (just dropped in)

Today: Paisley Park, Louise Erdrich’s bookstore, and dinner and drinks with friends.

Monday Morning Hot (and Cold?) Tips! (March 11th, 2018, Highway 5 between Lebanon and Camdenton, Missouri)

I am not exactly a scoop-finder–things normally seem to trickle down to me. Once they do, I am fairly good at recognizing something interesting, but it might be months after the artifact’s emergence.

Hot Tip #1: However, on International Women’s Day, I did actually find something fresh that few seem to know about, based on social media’s evidence. Few readers would disagree with me that it’s easier to find international outlets for American garage-punk-styled music than it is to find domestic ones. As someone fairly passionate about that style, though, I have to dig through several layers of boiler-plate to get to something legitimately hot–to the extent, recently, that I’ve kinda given up. However, Madrid, Spain’s FOLC Records released the above compilation GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE FUN!!! AND RIGHTS on Thursday, and–sucker that I am–I was intrigued enough by the album cover, the all-caps, the exclamation points, and the untranslated Spanish blurb to take a plunge without doing any research.

I’m damned glad I did! This lively and concise 14-song compilation made both Nicole and I sit up and take notice as we headed into mid-Missouri snow on the way back from a parental visit. The songs are neither all in Spanish (few are) nor all performed by women, but the commitment, enthusiasm, catchiness, and sheer energy that run like current throughout did honor to the release date and the title cause. The neat thing is, it’s also a little survey of styles: yep, there’s garage rock (Flamingo Tours’ surly cover of Roscoe Gordon’s “Just a Little Bit”) and garage punk (Las Calebras’ “Shake It”), but also straight-up old school r&b (Lord Rochester’s “Crawdad”), pre-war vocal group nods (Dr. Maha’s Miracle Tonic’s “She Stole My Bike But I Love Her”–imagine The Mills Brothers singing the line “Her perfect body / Fading Away”!), and a dab of hardcore-ish punk (Lupers’ “Me he vuelto a caer,” clocking in at 1:10). It’s a very enjoyable trip–and you can name your price!

Hot Tip #2! I’ve long been a fan of Oakland’s indefatigable activist MC Boots Riley and his group The Coup. I do have to admit, however, that after reading his screenplay Sorry to Both You a bit over a year ago, I was slightly underwhelmed. From Boots, I expected world-shaking, and the material seemed a light punch to the world’s shoulder. I am fully aware of the cruel tricks a trailer can play on you, but the above preview for the finished film convinces me to take a flyer when it comes my way. Why? Well, one, if ever a time was ripe for a Boots Riley production, it’s now, and the trailer convinces me he may have put very substantial meat on the screenplay’s bones. If you’re not all that familiar with Boots, he has proven he can tell a story. To wit:


Cold Tip #3, for cassette-seeking hipsters: go look for this item, which collects some ravin’ early tracks from the sadly-departed Pope of Memphis Music, Jim Dickinson. You can hear him doing his best Jerry Lee on the 88s, roarin’ through souped-up jug band music, closin’ down Sun Records’ golden line of singles with “Cadillac Man,” rubbing shoulders with The Cramps, and world-boogieing with Mud Boy and the Neutrons. Definitely worth the hunt, and you’ll have to.

Cold Tip #4, for those working on meditation: I have been striving to learn to meditate effectively with music as a focus. The above item worked great for me this weekend, mainly because I was focused on just experiencing things becoming as opposed to anticipating what would happen in the next moment. The music collected herein also eluded my attempts at analysis, because I don’t have the background to analyze it if I wanted to. Most important, the minorities making the music need all the spiritual support they can get, even if my mid-Missouri meditation will not help them not be oppressed. At least I’m conscious.