Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Heart Like a Levee (Tift Merritt / Hiss Golden Messenger, Bootleg Theater, LA - 10/22/2016).

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Back from the desert, back from LA - and back to bullets. For efficiency's sake, of course.

  • There's something about the desert. The space, the land, the sense of time on a geological scale. The stars at night. Then driving down, out of the hills, into the impossibly sprawling megalopolis. A stolen weekend - MOCA and LACMA and Point Dume - actually making it to the sand this time, body-surfing, riding wave after perfect wave into shore.

  • Saturday night. Bootleg Theater. Small, but warm. Wood beams and hipsters and craft beer sold from a folding table. Exposed rafters in the back room, warm, lovely sound. I caught the end of Tift Merrit's soundcheck, an almost-empty room, hanging on every word. Then, later, once the show started she was incredibly present. Human. Funny. With a voice like Emmylou's and some solid songs.

    Hiss Golden Messenger had a Dawes-type feel. Polished, but heartfelt. And I missed a bit of Tift's raggedness and earnestness - but it all fit together quite well.

  • Sunday brunch in Los Feliz with amazing family. Wonderful, rambling conversation. Bookstore wandering. That sky. Prolonging the drive back to the airport until the last possible minute..

  • Then home. Words sent into the space. Accepting a new job offer on my birthday, then taking J to Ted's Bulletin to celebrate.. Dancing into the unknown, but excited about the possibilities. Returning to the world of museums and libraries and archives. On the cusp of big changes - technology, copyright, trade. In a position where I can make a difference, hopefully.

  • Off to Shenandoah again over Veteran's Day with J. To test the new backpacking tent and some new campstove recipes and try some new trails. Skipping St. Paul & The Broken Bones to do so - but excited about Mitzki and Loretta Lynn and Zadie Smith. And oh so much more.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Vaya Futoro / Fishlights - El Imperial (Mexico City) - October 8

So it's been far too long. I have drafts of reviews of Jenny Lewis and those Watson Twins (Lincoln Theater - 9/18) and Okkervil River (9:30 Club - 9/19) and Sturgill Simpson (DAR - October 11) all queued up. But they're just gonna have to wait.. .

Writing this from an airplane to sweet California - I splurged and got WiFi. Flying into LA, then off to the mojave for a week to ramble around the desert - for work. Back to LA on Friday and a few stolen days in the city of angels. Almost two years to the day that I was there with J on that great western ramble. Thinking about retracing my steps (Getty / Malibu) - but also ready to push into the new. LACMA. Griffith Observatory. Thrift shops. Los Feliz. Tacos. The beauty of the freedom of now.

Instead of those reviews, though, I'm still stuck in that tiny club in Roma Norte, CDMX - El Imperial.

Vaya Futuro

A video posted by Ben (@lonesomeace) on

First of all, Mexico City was incredible. Solo traveling is incredible. The looseness, the ease. The deliciousness. The rambling. The tacos. The art. The music.

Second - the show. Fishlights came out first. That's them in the clip above (despite my Insta mislabeling) - which only captures a tiny sliver of what it was like to be there. The lead singer had a loping, languid presence - but was simultaneously the center around which the band spun. The keyboard player sang backup vocals and her parents were in the audience, easily the oldest (and happiest) ones there. Cheap drinks, beautiful people. Hipster night out. But they played a kind of heartfelt, guitar-based, lightly psychedelic music that I hadn't heard from an American band in years... I was in the front row. Toe-tapping.

And then, after a short break.. Vaya Futuro took everything up a level. A tight four-piece with a charming lead singer. Long instrumental passages that were aggressive, visceral, yet tender. They took no prisoners. This was for keeps. And I didn't realize until later that they're from Tijuana... border music. Liminal. And I was in the front row. Dancing. Moving. Slip sliding along the floor in my new shoes.. free.


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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Patti Smith - 3 January 2003 (a flashback)

I found myself thinking today about the first time I saw Patti. January 2003. The 9:30 Club. And what a crazy, phenomenal show that was. So I looked up the setlist:

3 January 2003, 9:30 Club, Washington, DC, USA

Waiting Underground
Dead City
Kimberly (For Kimberly)
When Doves Cry
Redondo Beach
Beneath the Southern Cross
One Voice
Mickey’s Monkey
Strange Messenger
25th Floor
Don’t Say Nothing
Dancing Barefoot
Summer Cannibals
Paths That Cross (For Beverly)
Where Duty Calls
Not Fade Away
Jumpin’ Jack Flash
Pissing in a River

And then found my old review:

...the glorious primal energy of Patti Smith at full steam, belting encores through the 1 am 9:30 club smoke full-tilt rock-and-roll - Jumpin Jack Flash and Gloria - her version - brilliant not only for it's opening line "Jesus died for somebody's sins, but not mine.." and it's fantasy sequence - shifting from a boring party to a dream about a girl (!) leaning on a parking meter outside the window - but for the way she teases you, playing with the van morrison chords and motown motifs "oooh she looks so good/oooooh she looks so fine/and i've got this crazy feeling /.. i'm gonna make her mine" .. until she breaks into the chorus, breaking out the letters - G, L, O, R, I - drawing them out I I I I I I I - until they become nonsense symbols.. and the band churning away beneath it all. Bacchus himself would be blown away..

It was wonderful to see her.. it took her a good 1/2 hour to get warmed up, but once she did (and we stood - as we did for the White Stripes a year ago - within 10 feet of the stage) she was charming and open and joyous. Giving. What impresses me most about her is her organic musicality - her sense that everything out there (although her musical vocabulary doesn't quite stretch back to Uncle Dave or Lonnie Johnson) is worth listening to - integrating smokey robinson and the MC5 and Television to the Rolling Stones and stream of consciousness poetry (that only works out loud). Its theatrical. Its visceral. It's cereberal. And theres not much out there that combines all three at the same time (unless of course you're talking about the RTR, but thats an entirely different plane)..

But I still drove 30 Hours

After seeing Kanye a few weeks ago, I finally started to dig deep into Pablo. I know. It took long enough. But I'm still adjusting to albums that exist only as streams. As ultralight beams. And, at first it was only on Tidal. But it's on Spotify now. And I can plug my laptop into my stereo and stream it over my speakers. Windows open. Throwing Kanye out into the general rainbow stream of cursing and music and laughing of North Trinidad.

And there's a lot to unpack. But for now, I'm caught in the slipstream of 30 Hours. Apparently it was added late - after the big Madison Square Garden unveiling. Almost as a bonus track, a toss-off. And in a way it is.

But it's so much more. It's that slow, easy, effortless series of highly specific images (Doubletree / Waffle house / St. Louis to Chicago) - that somehow become universal - that's captivating. And then the long outro. The phone call. The casualness, the ease, the smoothness. It's like White Dress. A world away from the reality shows and illusions and games. Or maybe it's not - it just feels real.

Friday, September 16, 2016

We on a Ultralight Beam - Kanye - Verizon Center - September 8

We on a ultralight beam
This is a god dream
This is everything

Ultralight beams..

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Words. It's been a week and I still have the words rolling around in my head. The sound. The sheer vibrating presence. The energy.

I saw the Yeezus tour with Ben E. in November 2013 - tucked in the very top row of a deep distant corner of the Verizon Center. It was like watching a play through a telescope. But oh those songs. The way that album cut through as I wandered those Paris streets that summer of 2013. It always takes me back to soft rain and wide boulevards and a sort of visceral liminality. And what I most remember from that show were the rants - 10-15 minutes at a time. About shoes. About his genius. And how they threw off the rhythm of the music.

Now a little under two years later I was back. Spur-of-the-moment stubhub ticket and this time I was towards the bottom of the 400 level. I got there early and let the energy build. Bought a t-shirt. The place slowly filled up, and promptly at 9:30p, the lights went down and he was there. Floating above the crowd on the floor on a small industrial rusted metal stage the color of Richard Serra steel. And as I looked closer,I finally noticed there was a wire bolted to the center of his stage that attached to the back of his shirt. He was tethered. Floating. Pacing. Sometimes leaning out over the edge - straining. Reaching.

The songs were mostly Pablo throughout - but particularly at the beginning. That great verse from Schoolboy Q's That Part. Some old hits - Mercy, Tell Me Nothing. And then he hit Power. And after the first verse stopped short. Cut the music. And talked, earnestly, about how much the words of the song meant to him - right now, in this moment. How he needed to hear this song. How it was for him. And when he launched in again, it was pure energy. The crowd feeding it back to him. Then a killer Blood on the Leaves - the heart of Yeezus, that hook - floating.

The sound was fuzzy at first, but quickly got better. And to be in a huge venue, with everyone in the whole place knowing every word to each song, was simply exhilarating. He was there, real, present. Trapped on his floating island. The kids moshing below him. In control and controlled. Fighting to be free.

Towards the end he sang Only One - that ballad to his daughter he did with McCartney and Rhianna. And stopped again. And talked about how the song was actually written when he thought about his mom singing to him. From heaven. Which led to a beautiful ramble about color and heaven and his mother and life...

And he then finished with a run of hits that had us all dancing in aisles - Gold Digger- Touch the Sky- All of the Lights - Good Life - Stronger. By the end, as the choir in Ultralight Beam soared, the stage floated away - Kanye disappearing in a beam of light. And I was almost in tears. Moved. Touched. Transported. In a way I haven't been by a show in a very, very long time..

Up next - Jenny Lewis @ Lincoln on Sunday night; Okkervil River @ 9:30 Club on Monday. Sturgill in early October at DAR. Good times. Indeed.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

On Corbin Cabin

A photo posted by Ben (@lonesomeace) on

A photo posted by Ben (@lonesomeace) on

Back from three days in the woods, tucked into Corbin cabin. My head's still there. Creek walking and swimming holes, sudden rainstorms that blew sideways. Copperheads and s'mores, water filters and campstoves. Butterflies and lazy afternoons sitting on the porch painting watercolors and writing in our respective notebooks.

Now back in DC. Grey. Rainy. Windows open. Lesson plans complete for this week's class - a new semester, a new cycle. Joe Dassin playing (it must be August). Sweet sweet summertime..

Monday, August 15, 2016

Human Interest

A last minute impulsive trip up to NYC this weekend in the sweltering heat. The bus ride up, uneventful. Diving deeper and deeper into Karl Ove's Scandavian adolescence. New York at night, the bustle of the West 30's as midnight approached.

Then off on Sunday morning, the M to Essex. The market closed. So a bagel, a walk to the water, the fringes of Chinatown and FDR drive. Then doubling back on the F to West 4 where I watched basketball and read on a park bench before wandering up Bleecker to the new Whitney.

A stunning building at the end of the High Line, shiplike. Reminding me vaguely of Frank Ghery's ship's prow in Toledo.

And oh the inside. The views. A great show of Portraits - again showing the depth of the collection. Such a wonderful mix - from Cindy Sherman to a slowly burning wax mold of Julian Schnabel. From Hopper to Arbus and back again. A swirl.

Hamburgers at Corner Bistro and a walk along the rest of the High Line (it goes all the way to 34th and 12th now!) and a smooth rolling night ride back to DC.. Stolen moments.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Frank Ocean is Building Something

The last two days I've had my phone propped up at my desk, watching Frank. Build. Something.

And listening.

Like John Luther Adams, it's subtle. And it builds. Accretes, really. Trial and error. Pieces coming together. The sheer physicality of the project. The work.

And last night, after paddling the Anacostia at sunset, it felt good to just sit in the chair.

And work.

With a sunset like that...

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Monday, July 25, 2016

Ryan @ Newport

Oh Ryan.

Oh Newport.

The set is incredible. And so much fun to listen to. The presence. The awareness. Alert. Alive. Hilarious. And the Stringdusters, of course, do a great job backing him up..

He'll be at the Lincoln tomorrow, though tickets are currently running north of $150 on Stubhub, alas.. But if it's anything like this, or fall of 2014, well -- it'd be well worth it.

UPDATE - Tickets fell to $85 in the late afternoon. But I couldn't pull the trigger. Seeing this, though, I wish I had:

SET-LIST/ DC. ( plus new song "Was I Wrong?" - ( minus SP/ EG )

A photo posted by Ryan Adams (@misterryanadams) on

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Cedar Run

Just back from a few magical days in the mountains. The walk-in sites at Big Meadow. The hikes..

J's stamina is ever-improving. We made it down to the waterslide at Cedar Run and back in good time and good spirits - the return improved by promises of ice cream at the wayside..

And oh that waterslide:

Cedar Run waterslide! Videography by J.

A video posted by Ben (@lonesomeace) on

Off to Dulles shortly for Montrose, CO. Hopefully I can squeeze in some time at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison..

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Hey Joe

HipCityVeg for lunch. I love the "chicken" sandwich. Walking back down sun-baked 7th, the band on the corner of F Street was slow-jamming Hey Joe. And I smiled. It was loose and ragged and just right..

That, for now, is all...

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible

I'd rather be a sparrow than a snail.. If I could. - El Condor Pasa

Relivin' the past? Your loss. - Beenie Man in Send It Up

Whistler watercolor of the beach.. NGA lunchtime rambles are sublime.

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Wait? Has it really been a month? Do I need to do this in bullets again? So much to capture... I'll work backwards...

  • Robert Irwin (Hirshhorn) / In Celebration of Paul Mellon (National Gallery) - I've spent the past two days at lunch wandering galleries again. The Mellon show has some lovely Whistler watercolors - the subtlety of his brushwork is amazing..

    And Irwin. What to say. His conceptual LA cool is a bit much at times - but when it works, it's transfixing. The wall-text alone shows art theory writing at it's finest - the surgical deployment of adjectives.

  • Chris Stapleton / Jason Isbell / Frank Turner - Merriweather (June 18) - Spent last Saturday night on a blanket at Merriweather with a new co-worker and her boyfriend and their extended group of Michigander friends.. watching the sun set. I'm not sure I'd been back to Merriweather since that magical night with Beck back in July 2014. The Michiganders were excited for Frank Turner's up-tempo Billy Bragg-esque punk-folk.. I was waiting for Isbell and Stapleton.

    As it got dark and the moon came up and Chris broke into Traveller, well.. all was right with the world. His voice is incredible, the songs speak so simply - but powerfully. And the great world spins.

  • Oh sweet swampy muggy Florida. I've been quite a bit lately. Snorkeling off Islamorada with sea turtles and tarpon and barracuda. Kayaking with manatee. Spinning, spinning, spinning on airboats across the Everglades. It's a great case - and only getting better.

    Made some pie from key limes I smuggled back in my suitcase - delicious. Reminding me of the time Beth made key lime pie and brought it to me by Penn Station - wrapped in tinfoil - and we ate it in a doorstep during a downpour. Captured here. These words do have some value, I suppose - preserved experience over time.

    Limes and lines and light...

    A photo posted by Ben (@lonesomeace) on

  • Spent Memorial Day in NYC. Friday night and Saturday with J - Staten Island Ferry, Central Park Zoo. The greatest hits.

    Then Sunday in the Met Breuer with Beth and Kei at the incredible "Unfinished" show. We were there for almost five hours. Looking. Thinking. Talking lightly and loosely - about the work, mostly. Such a deep, rich show. Then wandering down 5th before ducking over and taking the train down to Union Square to buy t-shirts for Beth's trip to Italy. Incredibly easy, relaxed, alive. Present. The kind of day I've been craving for years.

    Then Monday out in the Rockaways in a wetsuit - "learning" to surf - or at least how to fall off a board. But, somehow, I rode a few waves and that feeling was simply extraordinary. Grey cold misty day. Like a Catherine Opie photo..

  • I'm taking J back to Big Meadow on Friday. Another quick ramble to warm her up for a week at Corbin Cabin in August... I think I'll try White Oak Canyon this time. And the stars. Then off next week for work to the mountains of Colorado - Montrose and Boulder. Hoping to squeeze in some hikes and solitude. Then South Carolina with extended family for the first week of July. Then Joshua Tree and the high Mojave for work the second week.. motion. Almost too much motion.

  • Reading Nin's Henry & June - which is scintillating, sexy, Paris in the 30's. But written in such a high emotional register.. and full of repetition. She loves June. June loves Henry. She loves Henry. Henry loves June. Everyone loves her. She loves Hugo. Hugo loves her and only her. But Hugo is a banker not a writer. That said, there are moments, insights, flashes of realizations. All carefully edited from her diaries which must be fascinating to read in the original.

    Speaking of diaries... in NYC I fell into conversation with the proprietress of 192 Books (just about a _perfect_ bookstore) about Oberlin and Rivka Galchen's new book (Little Labors) and Nin and Karl Ove Knausgaard - and memoir as form. Which is fine as far as it goes. But I'm craving something a bit more.. structured. So will likely turn to Fates & Furies next.

Summer. Sweet sweaty sultry summer. Late nights and stars. Back-porch bourbons in the night air. Tiki parties and a sense of possibility. Stirrings. Fresh shoots. And memories. Sometimes visceral ones.

[B]reeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing / Memory and desire, stirring / Dull roots with spring rain.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Odds and Ends

Lost time is not found again

A lot to catch up on. Let's do it in bullets:

  • Reviews of shows forthcoming - the Heartless Bastards & Old 97's @ 9:30 Club (5/9); Horsefeathers @ Hamilton (5/15).
  • Just bought Sturgill tickets for DAR in October! The album is incredible. And I'm sure seeing him live will be even better... I only wish I'd been on the bandwagon when he was playing smaller venues.
  • I picked the lucky tire patch kit this morning on Bike to Work Day (aka a normal day)! Thanks Daily Rider!
  • Off to Miami on Sunday - tacking on a quick jaunt to the Keys before meetings on Monday and Tuesday. Snorkeling in Islamorada
  • This article on Blonde on Blonde has been rolling through my head lately. Despite it's clickbait title (which the author isn't responsible for). It's thoughtful and right on (at many points) and well-written. But most of all, this paragraph nails what I love about Blonde on Blonde. And why I've been playing it past midnight lately:

    But overall, the album is vast and true, and when Dylan describes the sound of it as “that thin, that wild mercury sound” we nod. Yes. I read or heard it described once as an album that sounds like three o’clock in the morning feels. Yes. How it feels boozy, on fine liquor, with the promise of sublime sex just as the coal of night fades into aching blue wonder of early morning. That’s the sound. And I remain mesmerized by Johanna. I’ll be listening to that song until I die.
  • Thinking surfing lessons in the Rockaways over Memorial Day... and still planning those backpacking trips in the Smokies and Big Bend. And headed back to Joshua Tree in June and beyond..

That, for now, is all..

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Are You With Me Now? (Cate LeBon - Rock n' Roll Hotel - 5/7/16)

Came in as the opener, Mega Bog, were winding down. Third row. Not crowded, not yet. Good conversation, good people, good times.

Cate Le Bon - 5/7/16

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The lights went down and they walked out. Cate in black pants and platform shoes and black makeup lines under her eyes.

One foot well in front of the other, wielding the guitar like a bayonet. She had a restless, lithe presence. Bouncing slightly from foot to foot. Playing with sound, texture, tempo.

The band was incredibly tight, trading instruments while the songs were in progress. This beautiful fine line between noise and melody. And that voice. Like Nico. Like Neko. Like.. Cate.

There was a moment during this song -- when the descending bass lines were set off against her voice and those chords on the chorus -- and it all came together, and I smiled, deeply. Felt it. Felt lifted by it. Those moments are what make shows worth going to:

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

No regrets, coyote

We just come from such different sets of circumstances
I'm up all night in the studio
And you're up early on your ranch
You'll be brushing out a brood mare's tale
while the sun is ascending
And I'll just be getting home with my reel to reel.
There's no comprehending
Just how close to the bone and skin and eyes and lips you can get
And still feel so alone
And still feel related.

Singing this, loudly, on the bike ride in this morning. Dodging puddles.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Books and Bluegrass and Bikes

Cool, wet, grey. Rolling down the First Street cycletrack, raindrops on my cheeks, I felt alive. There's something soothing about this weather. It's like Paris in October. That low blanket of clouds that settles in over the city.

Random Notes:

  • I'm volunteering at the Kingman Island Bluegrass Festival on Saturday! On some variation of trash duty, but it's good for free admission and a free t-shirt and a beer token.
  • Still listening to Sturgill Simpson quite a bit but ready for something a bit funkier..
  • Got a ticket to see Bob Boilen read (with Carrie Brownstein!) on Monday night at Sixth & I. I picked up a copy of his new book at East City Books the other day - the East Side's answer to Politics and Prose (I hope!). Then Delillo on Tuesday night. Same place. Words, words, words..

  • Making my way through Wild. It's better than I thought it would be - she's a great writer and tells the story well. Then Fates and Furies. Before I make a solid stab at Anna K.

  • Coming up.. Funk Parade. Heartless Bastards. A thousand other things.

  • I'm taking a creative writing class at CHAW - Writing Games. It's been fun to play - and is pushing me to dig back into my old work and push it forward..

  • Checking the tides... Ready to get back into the water.
That, for now, is all.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Lets Go Crazy

Things I found in Watts Branch this morning. Happy Earth Day!

A photo posted by Ben (@lonesomeace) on

Danced to Let's Go Crazy this morning with J before school. Then off to Marvin Gaye Park for Earth Day clean-up.. I wore waders and went along the streambed picking trash. A great way to spend a morning...

Playing all afternoon. The greatest halftime show of all time:

Also this:

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Akounak: Rain the Color of Blue With a Little Red In It

Last night at E Street Cinema for FilmFest. It's a simple story, really. That classic arc (from Footloose to Purple Rain to 8 Mile). But Mdou Moctar had a presence, a charm, a style that rose above. It's a great big beautiful magical world.

That and my Big Bend guidebooks and Topo map showed up at my door yesterday. Good times, indeed.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Sailor's Guide to Earth

I can't stop listening to this album. And it gets better every time. From the NPR interview:

On the album's ultimate message:

"Love. Just thinking about a lot of points in my life when you're young and you're angry or confused or just misplaced or lost and you have this tendency to not be aware of how much [love] really is around you, and even shut it out. So, it's kind of a reminder."

And here's his 2015 Newport set. Also courtesy of NPR.

Monday, April 18, 2016


I still love you, New York.

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Back from a sunny Sunday in NYC which was everything I needed. Camera battery at B&H (so efficient!), wandering across Chelsea, then down through the East Village to SoHo through thrift stores and record stores and bookstores and coffeeshops and Veselka. Picked up, at last, a copy of Nin's Henry & June and Strayed's Wild (I saw the movie, time to read the book).

Finished Book 4 of Ferrante - the Story of the Lost Child - on the bus ride back. And they way that it built, and then came together, at the end, was simply stunning. It was better than I expected. Richer. She works subtly, piling up sentences. Building. Like Stegner, really. Nothing flashy, but at the end they both build something stunning and substantial and deep. I care about the people in her story. Keep running scenes through my head. And I'm glad I pushed through to the end.

Now listening to John Luther Adams and working. Re-starting my creative writing class tonight at CHAW. Smiling. Still finishing Muir's My First Summer in the Sierra. Muir can sometimes over-rhapsodize, but has a sense of humour, and himself, and beauty that is quite touching. And makes me want to head West.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Take Me Back to Austin (March Rambles + Music Notes)

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Late-March rambling... Landing on a sunny Sunday in Pasadena, nestled in the hills. Good Goodwills and Hawaiian beer at Roy's for Aloha Hour.

Then up to the high desert for work. Hiking 49 Palms Oasis after a day of meetings. Dinner at Pappy & Harriet's - a slice of LA tucked amid rocks and infinite sky. Then back down to the sea, winding through the hills back into the haze. French food with Erik (a bit of a Trinidad DC rendezvous in LA) before hopping a red-eye back Wednesday night.

After 36 hours in DC (filled with kindergarten choir concerts and flat bike tires and paper signing) - touching down in Austin on Friday evening, there was a smell, a feeling, an electricity in the air. Grace picked me up at the airport, infinitely hospitable, and whisked us off to El Chilito for tacos. I tried hard to eat nothing but for the rest of the trip...


A photo posted by Ben (@lonesomeace) on

Then music:

Cornell Hurd Band - Driskell Hotel - 3/25/2016

After tacos we parked downtown and as I marveled at the new (the Moody! the Willie Nelson statute!) we made our way to the majestic marble of the Driskell's bar. Still full of kitsch but now also full of button-downs and polos and tech money. Cornell was playing his lounge act - none of the bawdy, darkly funny songs we were hoping for.. So we picked up and headed to:

James Hand - Continental Club - 3/25/2016

Now this was more like it. The Continental, same as it ever was, dark and deep. James Hand played that mix of Western Swing and 50's Country for hours and the dancers spun. Old, young, hip, square - it didn't matter. The music flowed on. And on. The third set ended well after 1a and we rolled along. Smiling.

Why Not Satellite / Wild Seeds - Carousel Club - 3/26/2016

After a day of BBQ in Tim's backyard on Saturday, it was off to the Carousel. Still frozen in time. Circus murals on the walls. A giant pink elephant at the back of the stage. A relaxed open space where you could wander in and grab a booth and see old friends and buy a drink or not. No one cared. There was space to just.. be. Grace's friends swapping stories about SXSW adventures. Then the music. Both bands were 80's Austin mainstays, but new to me..

Why Not Satellite came first. Jangly, gorgeous guitar sound - loud, driving, but melodic - not unlike, say R.E.M. Great lyrics that flew by - demanding further listening. But what grabbed me were the covers. First - Venus in Furs - which made me sit up straight and pay attention. And then, at the end of the set, a re-imagined version of the Beach Boy's In My Room.

Then the Wild Seeds. They were louder. Faster. Tighter. But with lots of room in their sound. The lead singer had a thin spotlight on him and the rest of the room melted away. Even from the back. The covers again jumped out - Cinnamon Girl and Cortez the Killer. I scribbled notes in the back and smiled.

Conjuntos Los Pinkys - White Horse - 3/27/2016

Sunday afternoon, after a dip in Barton Springs, I walked down to the White Horse where Los Pinkys played for the 214th Sunday in a row.. It was dancing music. Social music. Long accordion-based songs and a big dance floor, folks circling, spinning, laughing, talking. It sounded like a mix of polka and tejano with a dash of zydeco mixed in.

Sitting out back with food truck tacos and friends I hadn't seen in nearly 10 years - picking up where we left off. And speaking of covers they slipped effortlessly into Doug Sahm's She's About a Mover and nearly everything I love about Texas music clicked neatly into place.

Peterson Brothers - Continental Club - 3/28/2016

Monday night. Time for one more show. Back at the Continental to see the Peterson Brothers play to a rapidly swelling happy hour crowd. Deep blues, Texas style. Playful.

The brothers are young (late teens / early twenties) and still in love with the music. And each other. The highlight, easily, was when they paused and played Amazing Grace - the first song they learned to play together.

This post has been in draft forever.. So much more to say. Stolen moments. Long lunches at Foodheads. The thrift stores on Burnet. Waterloo Records. Topo Chico. Baby Great Horned Owls at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. The smells. Turning corners and finding old nooks intact. But the snapshots will do for now.

A photo posted by Ben (@lonesomeace) on

Coming up next - thoughts on Ferrante (almost done!), and NYC (this weekend!), and more music (Sturgill Simpson!) and more books and bikes and life...

Friday, March 18, 2016

Fortynine Palms - Oasis

It's a long, long way
down to Reno Nevada
And a long, long way to your home
But the change in your pocket is beginning to grumble
And you reap just about what you've sown

- Richard & Mimi Farina

I've finally stopped moving. Albeit briefly. The calm before the storm. Richard & Mimi Farina's Celebrations for a Grey Day spinning. And it fits just perfectly. There's this restless energy, a bit of a drone, an electricity - mixed with tradition - that feels just right.

Off on Sunday to the sands of Malibu, old Pasadena, then up into the gorgeous high desert. Back to DC on a red-eye for 36 hours, then off to Austin and Barton Springs and BBQ-reunions of old friends. Then from Texas to Miami for alligators and airboats and adventures.. Hopefully by the time I'm back it will have warmed back up. And it'll be time to get out on the water! Or take the ol' Yuba up the C&O for some camping..

Still reading Ferrante. Still entranced..

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Soundwalk 9:09

There's something magical here:

Full story here. And interview.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Homecoming (Josh Ritter / 9:30 Club / 2/23)

I feel a change in the weather
I feel a change in me

-- Josh Ritter --Homecoming

A random rainy Tuesday in February, quickly double-booked between a happy hour and spontaneously purchased Josh Ritter tickets. The StubHub envelope came with an extra, creating unexpected complications and cancellations and co-worker round robin.

All of that settled, pedaling north through the cold and rain up to the show - alive. Happy. Josh was already in the middle of his first song, mixing Birds of the Meadow with Frank Ocean's hook on No Church in the Wild. And it just rolled from there. Some surprises - a sublime cover of Roger Miller's Engine #9 (which shows just how hard it is to nail a Roger Miller song). And he was at his best when it was just him and the guitar. He had a power over the audience, a command of language and line that was palpable.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Bang! Bang! (Kaleo / RnR Hotel / 2/20)

Saturday night. RnR Hotel. Trev and I slip in on the wind of free tickets and work our way mid-way through the crowd. Tight. Hot. Sweaty. And they had a presence, a Scandinavian sensibility. Cool but passionate. And mid-set they did a slow-build on Sonny's classic:

Tomorrow it's Josh Ritter at the 9:30. Can't wait. As they say..

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Getting Ready to Get Down

Just discovered this. And like it.

Otherwise rolling along..

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Greek Bronzes and Glad Girls

Lunch hour ramblings this week:

  • Power and Pathos: Bronze Sculpture of the Hellenistic World (NGA) - Simply stunning. Who knew? The detail. The mystery. The coy traces of humanity. The fragility. Short on time, I breezed through yesterday. But will be back. Often. There are worlds here.

  • DC Public Library. Main Branch: One Pot French, Kayaking Made Easy, Appalachian Trail: Overnight Hikes, City Cycling.

Then, back at my desk, Guided By Voices' Glad Girls came on.. transporting me back to 2001, ducking out of the 9:30 Club to catch the train back to Takoma Park.

Mostly unpacked. Record player spinning. Off to NYC this weekend..

Monday, February 1, 2016

Don't You (Wet)

Flashes. Friday night, after a day of playing craigslist, Barry snagged Bruce tickets and we were off. His 3?th show - my first (unless you count that concert for Obama in '08). Lobster rolls and beers and big Bruce fans shuffling into the Verizon Center. Bruce was full of energy - a performer. An entertainer. He played The River in order and it surprised me - there are nuances, conversations, lines that grab you. And then he did a greatest hits set ending with "Shout" and I floated out, dancing. Biking through the late-night slushy streets.

Packing. Boxes on Boxes on Boxes. Lease signing soon (hopefully!). New routines and rhythms. Spaces. New cases in Southern California... back to the land of Joshua Tree and that high, delicious, desert.

On my radar:

  • Wet (the band). Cat Power by way of Brooklyn. Strangely present and palpable. I missed their show at U Street Music Hall but like what I've heard online..

  • New Lucinda. Of course.

  • New Kanye. Even better. Feb. 11.

  • Kayaks. I'm in the market for a kayak.

  • Basia Bulat @ RnR Hotel

Friday, January 15, 2016


Reconnecting with KUTX, so nice to have a sentient being on the other side of the sounds. Segueing from the Bangles 'Hazy Shade of Winter' to Guided By Voices 'Doughnut for a Snowman'.

Dreaming of Naples.

Approved at the new apartment.. looking forward to settling in.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Untamed Sense of Control

Let's make this a random notes post. It's been a while...

Christmas in the Sarasota sun. Kayaking in Oscar Scherer State Park and the Chassahowitzka. Days spent between beach & pool & fried fish. Then Repeat. Delicious. Then some work meetings in Ft. Myers and Miami - from Cape Coral to Coral Gables. Alligators. Pelicans. Swimming in spring-fed rivers. Now back and apartment hunting.

Random cultural notes:

  • I finished the first of Elena Ferrante's Naples novels - "My Brilliant Friend" - and am spellbound. Now on to Book 2 ("The Story of a New Name") and it's getting even deeper. Richer. The texture, the way the world is changing for the characters. Seriously some of the best stuff I've read since, well, NW.

  • Listening (on repeat) to Dawes ("All Your Favorite Bands") and Chris Stapleton ("Traveller"). And this:

    After the Adidas commercial that was "Facts" - this is back to White Dress-level introspection. And sonic depth.

  • And this was originally going to be a blog post about Roscoe Holcomb.. And this great article about his discovery in the 60's. But I put this post in draft so long ago that I lost the thread..