I didn’t get much done besides web surfing Friday night, and didn’t get to bed until nearly 4. 10:30 came harshly with a cold wet dog snout, so I got up, showered, and made eggs benedict for myself (I guessed correctly there’d be no breakfast on Sunday). We did not take Illa to the vet as Pawnanny‘s co-owner and vet tech with the most experience would be staying overnight and watching him. We tried to get going by 11:30, but blew past that by an hour. The trip down was pretty uneventful – we hit the only backup on 95 half a mile before the exit. There was a meager turnout for the tailgate at the homecoming game and at the fraternity house afterwards, mostly due to no notice from the fraternity. Still, it was good to catch up with everyone that showed, and the Smokey Pig BBQ we had was tasty. We went back to John and Meredith’s house, and chatted with them a while before Steve and April showed up (they weren’t able to make homecoming) and we broke open some wine and crackers and cheese as we chatted late into the night.

Sunday we slept late, even with the time change – I got 10 hours, and I let Jill have 30 minutes more while I showered. I could tell there wasn’t much enthusiasm for brunch, so we agreed on Jason’s Deli. I got a salad (which meant one trip to the salad bar) and a Smokey Jack Panini, while Jill had a cup of chili and an enormous broccoli and cheese topped baked potato (that turned out to be only a half serving – I’d hate to see a whole one). Both were good, and we were plenty full when we left for our trip home. We again hit a backup on 95 right before our exit, but this time it started two miles before. We got off on 234, stopping at Starbucks so Jill could get her first pumpkin spice latte of the season. We thought we might be in time to make the Chantilly library booksale, but we were minutes too late, so we went home.

Jill cracked the books, and I took Illa on a long walk. When I got back I started watching SNL, then switched to the kitchen TV and started watching Bill Maher while I did prep work on a Louisiana cajun bean soup, then back to SNL. The soup was simmering so I finally got a chance to catch up on papers and watch my Joe Satriani concert. The soup came out quite nicely, then Jill cleaned up and walked the dog as I tried to figure out if you could add an attachment to webmail from another website (you can’t). Jill headed for bed, and I finished up through Saturday’s paper and watched “Jericho”.

6AM was rough on 5 hours sleep, but I had a 7AM meeting, At least it wasn’t at work – I’d been volunteered to update the Herndon Festival web site. The meeting took almost an hour, and I was surprised at how lucid I was even when sleep deprived. Jill had made me a coffee, and I brought it to work and froze it, then made a latte with it around 10, and that got me through the day (bit longer than usual, as I need to leave by 2 on Friday to meetup with Jill in DC).

I went grocery shopping after work – it was time, but I also needed candy for Halloween and something for a work potluck tomorrow. I had been urged to continue my mini theme (mini burgers and mini reubens were my last two dishes), but I hadn’t been able to come up with a good one. I wandered around the store until I settled on enchiladas (but cut up into thirds). I was going to make them for dinner, but since I didn’t finish until almost 1 (it’s that dang tortilla frying that slows me down), Jill had a pizza and went to bed. I had two when I finished and I like it, so it’s a go for tomorrow (I’m not going to dress up though).

I watched a lot of TV while cooking, so at least I did that too tonight. Of course I forgot about the eBay auction I had ending – but only four things sold. Unfortunately, one of them was not my BNL tix, have to see about getting rid of those through alternate channels tomorrow.


It’s funny, there’s been a lot of great shows this year, a lot of big names, but I’m always looking forward to the next ones.

I’m psyched with news of two reunions for next year: Van Halen will likely tour with David Lee Roth as frontman, and Genesis will tour with the classic lineup (Collins, Banks & Rutherford), but without Peter Gabriel (at least so far). Both must sees for me.

Now if we could just get reunions happening for the Police and Led Zeppelin I’ll be all set.

Midweek music madness

Tuesday I headed to DC to see John Hodgman and Jonathan Coulton do a book reading. I’ve seen a number of book readings over the years, but never one with musical accompaniment, and you know I find that intriguing. I got to the Warehouse Theater with 15 minutes to spare, and got in line as soon as I picked up my book (one came with a ticket). They seated us promptly at 7, and I was a little surprised by how small the theater was (120 seats). Very intimate – we had to come across the stage to get into the seats. They waited a bit for stragglers (and made fun of them), then got started. Adam Mazmanian was the MC, and he also read a funny story about a son asking for an allowance increase. David Rees was next, and was sometimes funny, sometimes going too far (even for a liberal leaner like me).

Hodgman and Coulton were next, Coulton starting with “John Hodgman’s Theme Song” (because every writer needs one). Hodgman read a couple excerpts from the book (“Six Oaths Of The Virtuous Child” and “Secrets Of The Mall Of America”), then went into the hobo material with musical accompaniment by Coulton, followed by Coulton singing the hobo classic “The Big Rock Candy Mountain”. We listened to a prerecorded CD of “Jokes That Have Never Produced Laughter” (because if you tell the jokes you’ll never hear laughter again), then Hodman did a question and answer session, mostly by walkie talkie (the sound was poor, but it was still pretty funny). Finally Hodgman read the “Hobo’s Code”, again accompanied by Coulton, then we got a couple songs just by Coulton, “First Of May” and “Re Your Brains” (with a great zombie chorus).

I actually got in the signing line, then started looking at the schedule and saw the earliest I could make it home was 10:30, and decided to leave. I called Jill when I got to West Falls Church Metro and was waiting for my bus, and found out she’d had an eventful night. She’d left a full cup of coffee unattended in the living room while doing laundry, and Illa had drank all of it. We knew he liked the taste of coffee, but prevously he’d only gotten a sip or two. She told me he’d been wired for a couple hours, pacing and never settling down. Even playing with him hadn’t helped. And he’d had some diarrhea in our bedroom she didn’t find until she was ready to go to bed. When I got back, he was a little rambunctious, but not bad – she got the worst of it. She soon headed for bed, I watched “Studio 60” first then took Illa on a walk before joining her.

Wednesday I was going to try and get up early again, but I think two days of short sleep in a row is my limit now – I hit the snooze until an hour had passed and it didn’t go off anymore. Got in late to work, but I ate at my desk and got out as soon as I could. I rushed home and fried some chicken breasts with a nut and cheese breading and stir fried some bok choi for dinner, then relaxed for a couple minutes before I headed back to DC. This time it was Alice In Chains at the 9:30 Club. Yes, lead singer Layne Staley passed away from an overdose in 2002, but guitarist/vocalist Jerry Cantrell was the main songwriter and often sang harmony vocals with Layne. I loved those tunes and never got a chance to see them when they toured.

I just drove in for this, figuring the show would end too late to use Metro. I prepurchased parking with my ticket because I (rightly) assumed the lot would otherwise be sold out when I got there since I was skipping the opening act. I got there around 10, and they’d already played a couple songs. I didn’t miss “Them Bones”, and that was pretty good. New vocalist William DuVall proved to have an uncanny ability to reproduce Layne’s vocals. One of the highlights of the night was their acoustic set in the middle. They were joined by Scott Olson, who’d also played on their MTV Unplugged album. “No Excuses” and “Got Me Wrong” were excellent. I think my favorite moment (and AIC song) was “Heaven Beside You”, which Jerry sang lead on. His singing and soloing were amazing, both on that and “Man In The Box” (which I didn’t realize he used a talk box on). A good show, but I was out of there right at the end and headed home, arriving at 12:30. I had a pear and some cookies for dessert, then watched “Lost” before going to bed.

The eight hours I got Tuesday night let me short my sleep again, and I was into work Thursday by 9 (I also wanted to get there early enough I could go out to lunch with our Lost discussion group). I was fading a little in the afternoon (didn’t have the coffee I brought in to make a latte, and it was late by the time I remembered), but decided I still wanted to go see We’re About Nine and Girlyman at Jammin’ Java. I like We’re About Nine and love Girlyman, and I’ve only seen ’em once apiece this year, plus Girlyman only played a short set at the Herndon Festival. So even though it would make three nights out in a row, any other time I’d go, plus there are only four shows I’m definitely going to in November, so I went. I left work around 7 to make it to Vienna a little after 7:30, stopping for gas.

Stuart and Janice showed up early and grabbed seats near the front, but I had my camcorder and needed room, so I didn’t join them. I ordered dinner – the ballpark chili combo (cup of chili, half a roast beef sandwich, and a side salad), but it didn’t come up until after We’re About Nine started. I ate quickly at the bar, then went back to my seat for their set (short but good). I chatted with Stuart and Janice during the break, then got ready for Girlyman. Their set was heavy on new songs (they’re currently recording their new CD), and I have a new favorite: “Hold It All At Bay”. Not to say my old one was bad (“St. Peter’s Bones”), and there’s another great new one (“Through To Sunrise”). The club was packed, came within a whisker of selling out. That’d be kind of a shocker to those of us at their Iota show in December 2003 when I think they played to about 12 people (including me). The crowd was very into it, even with an emphasis on new songs. I was kind of surprised that they didn’t play many songs (four) off their second album, but I can’t complain about getting some classics off their first one (I’ve always liked “Say Goodbye”). I was a little disappointed they didn’t pull out “Postcards From Mexico” or “Amaze Me” – those are the songs that made me a fan in the first place. By the time they wrapped things up with their cover of “Son Of A Preacher Man”, I’d switched tapes (so we’d cracked 90 minutes) and it was after 11. I said my goodbyes, then scooted home. Jill was in bed, so Illa and I had dessert (fudgesicle for me, pork bone for him) then I watched “Smallville” while I pet him, then went to bed after 1:30.

Tough getting up again Friday, but I made it around 10. I brought lunch so I left around 6:30. Jill was studying so she could take off tomorrow, and I made pizza dough as I watched “Arrested Development” and “Drawn Together”. I finished making calzones after the dough rose, then I made salad. Had to clean up some Illa mess – that’s twice today, we may take him to the vet tomorrow morning. After dinner, I walked him, now I’m catching up on my web surfing while Jill hits the sheets. Later I’d like to catch up reading the paper while I watch a Joe Satriani concert.

Birthday weekend and neck sprain

Friday I got home around 7. We didn’t have any dinner plans, and I wanted to go see Hem at the State Theater, since I’d recently found out (from my mom – what kind of music lover am I) that Steve Curtis is in the band. Steve and Chris and I used to hang out together from kindergarten to sixth grade; we’d all switched elementary schools along the way from Wakefield Forest to Pine Ridge to join the GT program. He moved to Pennsylvania after that with his family and my family had visited them once (for some reason leaving me at their house most of the day to watch MTV for the first time), and I’d lost track of him.

We ended up going to the Tortilla Factory for dinner (yes, the one that catered our wedding). I had a salad and a chimichanga, and Jill had chicken enchiladas. We ate quickly and headed straight to the State Theater, getting there earlier than I’d thought we could, and catching the end of Ollabelle‘s set. I went down to get drinks and did something to my back, because I got a nasty case of neck sprain that would haunt me for the next couple days.

Hem was good. Only bad thing was we were seated in comfy seats in the dark balcony and it was warm, and both of us hadn’t gotten much sleep. The iced tea I had with dinner ulitmately combined with the neck pain to keep me awake, but Jill was out for at least a third of their set, but she’d had a midterm and I didn’t want to wake her. The show was good, though, but I was psyched to meet the band. Afterwards, we chatted with the singer, Sally, and Dan, the main songwriter, while we waited for Steve to make an appearance. I said “Steve, you grew up around here, right?” and he agreed. “You lived in Truro?” I asked and he agreed, then looked at me closely. “Kerry?” he queried, and I confirmed. I’d brought some of our elementary school yearbooks just in case, but he remembered just fine. We caught up and I got him to sign a CD for me and for Chris.

Saturday I didn’t get the chance to sleep in as Illa had a vet appointment at 11. I barely made it out the door in time to walk with him and Jill and make it to the vet by 11 (we might have been just a little late). No problems reported, he got his shots, and the vet told us he was just the right size (and he’s 62 pounds). We walked back and I had some cereal for breakfast, then Jill headed out to study, and I followed around 1. I stopped at Clarendon Day at 1 to see Marwood (they made my artists to watch CD last year, but I hadn’t seen them live before), then wandered the vendors and had some lunch (a pupusa from Mexicali Blues and a mini gorgonzola burger from Eleventh Street Lounge before checking out Everyone But Pete whom I’d heard some buzz about. I guess they do play originals after checking out their website, but all I heard was covers so I headed over to the Clarendon CD Cellar to do my usual scouring of their clearance bin – plus I snagged a copy of the new Dream Theater DVD for cheap.

My friend Chris was in town coincidentally enough, but it wasn’t for the best of reasons. His grandmother had passed away, and his mother was holding a memorial service at her place in Alexandria. I got there around 3:30, just missing my mom. His wife wasn’t there, but his brother, Tim, and his wife, Debbie were there, as well as Chris #2, who used to live with him in Boston (Jill was bummed she couldn’t make it). They had a nice spread, and I stayed a long time chatting, helping to clean up at the end. I gave Chris the CD I’d got and his mom a postcard I’d had Steve sign as well.

I got home around 8 and Illa was upstairs. Which was odd as I’d left him in the basement with the baby gate up, our usual situation. I went downstairs and the gate was still up, so we don’t know how he got past it, and he hasn’t done it again yet. I played with him a while and watched “Arrested Development” and “Smallville” (interesting World’s Finest take on the season so far, with Green Arrow replacing Batman in the partnership). I had a frozen dinner (Hungry-Man beer battered chicken and cheese fries is very filling) while I caught up to Friday’s paper. Jill got home around 11 and we were both wiped, so we hit the hay.

Sunday was my birthday (I’m old), and I had a good long sleep in followed by some eggs benedict. I read Saturday’s paper, then watched SNL, “Star Trek:Enterprise”, and the beginning of the Skins game before Jill got home a little after 5 and we headed over to my mom’s. I’d asked for moo shu pork for dinner (birthday person always gets to request the meal), and she’d made that plus heer eggrolls. That was good, then she topped that by serving a delicious pistachio cake for dessert. I installed her new phones and did a little tech support while Jill did some studying, then we headed home.

Dad joined us as he was heading out west today to check on the status of his car restoration – happily he declined to comment on the state of our messy house. He’d listened to the score of the Redskins game and didn’t want to watch it, so we watched the fourth and fifth inning of the series and watched the Tigers cement their lead over the Cards before he went to bed. Then I sped through the Redskins game and saw a good contest in the first half degenerate into the Colts walking all over them in the second (it was easier to take when I could fast forward through the commercials and the Colts’ possessions). I watched the Tigers put away the Cards in the ninth before I started watching “Dr. Who”, but it was late and I headed for bed.

Early day today for me as I got up at 7 (thought not as early as Jill, who got up at 4 to prep for her midterm, or Dad who left at 5). I had to get an early start to get to my massage on time, which finally seems to have erased any lingering signs of neck pain. I went with a quick but filling dinner – canned lobster bisque and frozen crabcakes, plus fried eggplant and potatoes. Hopefully I’ll watch “Heroes” and “Studio 60” tonight, as I’ll be out the next two (and maybe three) nights.

More Thai and Terry

I’m not going to make any more Thai food for a while. Monday night I tried it for the third night in a row, and Jill said “Enough!” Mostly I think it was the cucumber and onion dish that called for two cups of vinegar. The other dish I made Monday was pretty tasty – fried bread and pork. But I understood – she’s looking for compfort food, especially with a big test on Friday. Last night I had the rest of it, and I had the orange chicken tonight for leftovers, Jill got home late and had pizza while studying. I watched Jon Stewart and Lost while I played with Illa.

Last night I was out for another Politics and Prose reading at the Wesley United Methodist Church, this time for Terry Pratchett. He’s got another Discworld kid’s book out now. He was scheduled to start at 7:30 , but he got caught in traffic, didn’t get started until almost 8. He was his usual charming and funny self, told us about winning the Carnegie medal and accepting the OBE, then gave us a brief autobiography and took questions from the audience. I left during his last question (he wasn’t doing a reading and I didn’t want to stay late for another autograph) to try and make a bus. The bus was late, the first train was gone, and the second train got me to Metro Center just in time to see my connecting train pull away, which meant I had to wait an extra 30 minutes at West Falls Church for the 950. I got home at 11 and Jill was in bed, and I had the aforementioned Thai food.

Thai food

Friday night I got home after Jill, and read newspapers and watched TV (Stewart/Colbert, Jericho). She made pasta for dinner, but went to bed soon after.

Saturday I slept in, then walked Illa and made some cilantro-ginger scrambled eggs (got the idead form the Food section, pretty good). I sat out on the deck and read the paper. I then started on what would become an epic of Thai cooking, prepping stir fried pork and bean sprouts. I watched Dr. Who (awesome ep) and BSG while making them. Jill came down for dinner, then she cleaned up and I walked Illa, then we watched Family Guy Presents Stewie Griffin – The Untold Story (laugh out loud funny). We had a brief break in the middle as I’d also made dough for oatmeal raisin cookies while I’d made dinner, and we ate them.

Sunday I slept in again, and I took Illa for a long walk, then made hollaindaise sauce and eggs benedict. I read the paper during the Skins game (blech), then did some fall prep (cleaned the furnace filter and switched the front door from screen to glass). I made orange chicken and stir fried kale while I watched “Wedding Crashers”, then Jill came down for dinner (she’d been mostly studying on campus the last two days). She just finished cleaning up and now we’re both online, but I’m finishing soon to play with the dog and have some more cookies.

Yeah, not too exciting, but that’s what we did this weekend.

Five years ago…

I was in Seattle. Seeing Roger Waters recently made me think of seeing David Gilmour in Toronto, and that made me think of traveling to see shows. Now I’ve seen acts in further away places – No Doubt and Green Day in Sydney, Australia or Heather Nova in London, UK, but the farthest I’ve traveled just for a show was Seattle.

I’ve been a Dave Matthews Band fan since the first time I saw them, at the Bayou in Georgetown on a rainy night in November 1993. My sister, Sharon, was going to school at the University of Virginia at the time, and she was telling me about this great band I had to see. So we went down there with a couple friends without tickets, only to find it was sold out. We waited outside as the rain came down off the Whitehurst Freeway onto us while Sharon begged for spare tickets in her UVA hat. Eventually we got enough tickets to get in, and we worked our way to the side. We only caught half the show, but it didn’t matter as I just fell in love with the band.

After the show, I got copies of the tapes Sharon had of the band, recordings from Trax nightclub in Charlottesville where she went to school. They were helpful in those pre-interweb days as I had copies of “Halloween” and “Two Step” years before they showed up on studio albums, not to mention songs like “Blue Water” and “Spotlight” that never did. One particular song on those tapes I just loved was “The Maker”, a sweet ballad that turned out to be a cover of a Daniel Lanois song. I saw Dave Matthews Band every chance I got over the years, but they never played “The Maker” when I saw them (though it did show up on Live in Chicago 12.19.98).

During the summer of 2001, the Groundwork 2001 concerts were announced, a week-long series of concerts to benefit the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, which provides the hungry with seeds, livestock and tools to produce their own food. Dave would headline as a solo act at the Paramount Theatre on Sunday, October 14th. That was pretty tempting on its own merits (Dave had only played solo a couple of times after the band got big), but the kicker was not only was Daniel Lanois on the bill, Emmylou Harris was also playing, and she had also covered “The Maker”. So I told myself if I could get tickets, I’d go.

I’ve been a member of the Dave Matthews Band fan club, The Warehouse, since it was formed. In addition to getting exclusive live discs each year, they truly reserve the best seats for their members, and since these days I usually only request one show a year, I almost always get the orchestra pit. The tickets for the Seattle show were in high demand, and I was shocked when I got a pair through the Warehouse ticket lottery. But I was happy and bought airplane tix to fly in on Saturday, the 13th and back home Monday morning after the show.

I know some people were worried flying so soon after 9/11, but I didn’t see what the big deal was – after all I was in Hawaii that week in September and I had to deal with trying to find out if the airports would even be open for my return flight. The flight to Seattle was fine, and I took a bus into the city (my first time being on a hybrid gas/electric bus). I stayed in a hostel downtown, put my luggage away and went out to explore Seattle. I don’t remember where I ate that night but do remember it was somewhere near the monorail, as that was when I went to the EMP museum. The museum had some nice exhibits, but the coolest part was the interactive music area. There was one area where you actually played for real like you were in a studio, and I played drums for the first time in years.

I had a pair of tickets to the show, and could have just sold one on eBay, but came up with a more creative solution. At the time, I was dating women I met on match.com, and I decided to look at Seattle women and ask one to the show. I think the third one said sure, why not? For the life of me, I can’t remember her name now – probably because we didn’t keep in contact (not much chemistry, certainly not worth the long distance effort). We met at the Gordon Biersch for dinner, then went to the theatre. Quite a crowd outside, I could have made a good deal of money if I’d chose to sell my tix. But we went inside and sat down.

Daniel Lanois kicked off the show, and he had a good set, but he did not play “The Maker” and had no guests. Avant garde composer Philip Glass and gospel singers the Blind Boys of Alabama were up next, but also did not play “The Maker” and had no guests. For some reason, Artis The Spoonman (as seen in Soundgarden’s “Spoonman” video) came on during the next break to play his spoons, but did not play “The Maker”. Emmylou Harris came out and played a nice set, and Dave did come out near the end, but it wasn’t to play “The Maker” – it was to play “My Antonia”, off her then current CD, “Red Dirt Girl”. So I was 0 for 2 but still had high hopes as Dave came out for his set. He did sparse versions of some classics, great versions of “The Stone” and “Bartender” as well as the premiere of “Where Are You Going” (which coincidentally Jill and I got the band premiere of the next April).

Finally, for his last song of the set, he brought both Daniel Lanois and Emmylou Harris, and they did “The Maker” together. I have a copy of Dave’s set, but it fails to capture the transcendence of that moment. Their voices blended so beautifully I just got lost in the moment and emotion overcame me. I thought it was fitting that when Dave returned alone for an encore (after thunderous applause), he played another cover, this time Willie Nelson’s “Funny How Time Slips Away”. Definitely one of my favorite concerts ever.

That 70s music

No, I’m not talking about that disco crap. As much as 70s music is reviled, there was great music coming out then as well (Sturgeon’s Law, as always, applies). I always think about my favorite troika of Rush, Queen and Led Zeppelin putting out great music in the 70s, but there were plenty of other acts I have a great and undying love for. Two of those were Fleetwood Mac and Eric Clapton, both of whom I got taste of this week.

I’d skipped going out Sunday so I could stay in, marinate and grill some ribs while I finished catching up on TV (I figured out I watched 16 hours during the weekend, including football, but I did skip the commercials from everything except football). I decided 3 shows in 3 days was pushing it as well. I got to bed at a reasonable hour and was up at 6:30 and into work by 8 on Monday morning. Originally I’d thought I had the day off, but we get Veteran’s Day off, not Columbus Day. I’d scheduled a massage but decided not to cancel it since I needed it. Jill warmed some wings for me after I ran out for the massage and I had a quick lunch with her (she did have the day off), then went back to work. We left for Falls Church around 6.

I was looking for a place to eat around the State Theatre and settled on Bangkok Blues, a Thai place that also featured live blues. Jill ordered the pad prig khing (beef sautéed with curry paste and string beans) and I had the “sassy shrimp” (crispy shrimp stir fried with onions and peppers). Mine wasn’t bad, but Jill didn’t like hers, and I had to agree – the meat was way too tough and the beans weren’t cooked enough. We missed the music there, but we had better plans anyway. We got to the State Theatre around 8. Jill proposed getting a drink at a nearby bar, but after seeing the line wrap around the venue, I knew we had to get in soon to get a seat. We got in and headed straight for the balcony, snagging a couple of the last seats in the center. Jill didn’t miss out on her drink, as I went downstairs and snagged us a couple pints of Magic Hat #9. We settled into our seats, and as the 8:30 start time passed, hoped that the show would be close to done when 10:15 arrived and we’d have to leave to get Jill home by 11 (school night, and she was subbing for a friend who was out of town).

I’d always liked Fleetwood Mac, but in recent years I’ve realized that Lindsey Buckingham is my favorite singer and writer from them. I think it started with 1994’s Rare on Air, Volume One, a collection of live tracks from radio station KCRW. Lindsey did a solo “Never Going Back Again” on there that really grabbed me, and I’ve paying close attention to him since. When Fleetwood Mac reunited for the live album and tour in 1997, that was a must see, and an amazing show. We saw them when we went to Vegas in 2003 when they were touring for “Say You Will”, the first Mac album since 1987 with Lindsey. Again a good show, but for both of them I wasn’t anywhere near the front, a disappointment seeing how I love good seats. We actually had great seats for a scheduled stop at Nissan in 2004, but that was cancelled the day of the show when Stevie was having voice troubles and never rescheduled. I’d bought a six pack of concert tickets to get those seats for that show and Rush, and those were pricier seats, but the weasels gave me a sixth of what I paid back (no, I’m not still bitter about that). So when I found out not only would Lindsey Buckingham be coming out with a new solo album, but touring small venues, I knew I’d go if I could. I got psyched last week after buying the new album Under The Skin and hearing his adventurous use of loops (like Howie Day) as most everything was played by him, and the music was good as well – he’s always had a good ear for melody.

The lights went out at 8:45 and the crowd erupted as he came out alone. He played three songs solo: the new “Not Too Late”, “Trouble” (from his first solo album, 1981’s Law and Order – oddly, he never played anything from his last solo album, 1992’s Out Of The Cradle), and a masterful take on Rumours’ “Never Going Back Again”. With the crowd going nuts, he brought on his band (including Brett Tuggle on keys) to tackle another Rumours classic, “Second Hand News”. He slowed it down a bit after that with another new one, “Cast Away Dreams”. The new songs always got an enthusiastic reception (it seemed most of the crowd knew them), but they were softer and slower numbers. “Red Rover” from Say You Will was followed by my favorite new song, “It Was You” (sounded like Fleetwood Mac crossed with Trevor Rabin era Yes). The band left as Lindsey tore into Jill’s favorite Mac song, “Big Love” (from Tango in the Night). The crowd was on their feet as he started into “Go Insane”, from his 1984 solo album of the same name (often played with the Mac), and the band rejoined him on stage.

“Under The Skin” was the last of the new songs performed before he ended the set with Mac classics: “World Turning” and “I’m So Afraid” from Fleetwood Mac, “I Know I’m Not Wrong” and “Tusk” from Tusk, and “Go Your Own Way” from Rumours. Not much standing in the balcony section (Jill was a little surprised) until the song was almost over, and we went down to the floor for the encore. The first song was Holiday Road (from 1983’s National Lampoon’s Vacation soundtrack), a really fun little song I only found out he was playing the morning before, but I found it online here. Big fans, as most of the people around us knew that one. One more new one, my second favorite from the new album, “Show You How”. Lindsey asked us if we wanted one more (I think he expected the yes), introduced the band, then they left and he was left alone for a moving version of “Bleed To Love Her”, one of my two favorites (along with “Steal Your Heart Away”) off Say You Will. About the only song he didn’t do I would have wanted to hear was “Monday Morning” – haven’t seen the Mac do that either.

We were out of there as soon as the last notes faded, at 10:15 on the dot. We were indeed home by 11, and Jill checked email for class (she got a 98 on the second part of her exam from last week) while I stretched and played with Illa while watching “Heroes” (could have done without the the last 30 seconds). Tuesday morning was rough getting up, but I was into work a little after 9, and I’d brought a frozen enchilada meal for a quick lunch. I met up with Stuart at the Herndon Park and Ride at 6 for the 950 , getting to Gallery Place a little after 7. We were hungry and hit RFD for a couple pints and dinner (the Shiner Bock marinated chicken sandwich for me), then made it to Verizon Center a little after 8. Robert Cray was I’m sure a most appropriate opener for Eric Clapton, but we missed him by minutes. I wasn’t too worried, as I knew we’d see him again.

I was aware of Eric’s big hits, but the first album of his I ever bought was 1989’s Journeyman. That whole album grabbed me, from the straightahead blues rock of “Pretending” and “No Alibis”, the softer acoustic “Running On Faith” and “Run So Far” (with George Harrison), and the bluesy “Old Love” and “Before You Accuse Me”. The first time he came around after I started going to a lot of concerts was for his next tour in 1994, for From the Cradle. Now while From the Cradle was an all-blues album I expected out of the tour what anyone expects from an established artist, which was a couple songs from the new album, mixed in with the hits you know and love (kinda what Lindsey had done, and what Eric would do this night). But I was bitterly disappointed by the show, because it was straight blues all the way through – the only halfway recognizable song was “Crossroads”, and it was the original Robert Johnson version, not Clapton’s version from Cream. Considering Unplugged was a monster hit two years earlier, I at least expected the unplugged version of “Layla” and some of his bluesier songs. Before each song, he’d say whose song he was playing, and eventually the crowd grew restless and some called for an Eric Clapton song, but they were ignored. Not that he didn’t do great versions of the songs, but I wanted the songs I grew up with, not the ones he did. Due to the wonders of the interweb, I knew that this tour was the one I’d wanted all those years – in addition to playing the classics (like he’d been doing since the blues tour), he was playing not one, not two, but three songs from Journeyman, and I was psyched to see the show I’d wanted to see 12 years ago. The irony was at dinner Monday at Bangkok Blues, there were two couples sitting next to us, and one was going to Clapton the next night. They asked the other couple if they were going, but the other guy said no, but he wished he could have caught the 1994 tour! I chuckled to myself over that one.

Eric opened with “Pretending” (nice), then his cover of Marley’s “I Shot The Sheriff”, then straight into “Got To Get Better In A Little While”. I knew he was playing a fair amount of Derek and the Dominos songs, but until the show started I hadn’t realized how appropriate that was. Derek Trucks was one of the guitarists playing with Clapton (the other one was Doyle Bramhall II, who I last saw in 1999 playing David Gilmour’s parts for Roger Waters). Besides being a gifted guitarist with his own band, Derek has been a member of The Allman Brothers Band since 1999, and his uncle, drummer Butch Trucks, was a founding member. What made the Derek and the Dominos album special was the presence of Duane Allman playing with Eric, so it felt right that he was playing those songs with someone who’s not only one of the most noted slide guitarists of this generation, but who’s also filling Duane’s place in his old band. Robert Cray came out to join him on “Old Love” (they cowrote the song). “Anyday” was another nice Derek and the Dominos track, but that segued into one of the highlights – I’m quite fond of “Motherless Children”, but with all three guitarists on slide guitar, they just raised it to another level.

They brought out chairs after that, and Derek and Eric played acoustic guitars for “Back Home” (the only song played off his new album). They stayed seated but played electric for “I Am Yours”, “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out”, and my favorite of the Journeyman tracks they played, “Running On Faith”. Chairs went away and they got loud for the classic version of “After Midnight”, then got blue with Robert Johnson’s “Little Queen Of Spades” (not that I mind him doing the blues, I just don’t want a whole night of it). They really jammed on “Further Up On The Road”, nice solos from all three guitarists, then pleased the crowd by whipping out “Wonderful Tonight” (yes, I called Jill and was that guy holding my phone out). If you’re going to play Derek and the Dominos songs, you’ve got to play “Layla”, and it was an epic version. They finished the set by tearing through “Cocaine”, then kept us waiting a couple minutes before coming back with Robert Cray and closing with “Crossroads”.

I knew that was it and we got out of there quickly, getting the next couple of trains and getting back to the Herndon Park and Ride a little before midnight. Jill was in bed when I got home, and I played with Illa while I watched Stewart/Colbert before going to bed. I got a late start today, and didn’t get home until 8. We had hot dogs for dinner, then Jill joined me for “Lost”, now she’s headed for bed while I surf.

TV Weekend

Friday was mildly strange. Jill got up a little before me, but came back in – her car wouldn’t start. I tried to start and jump it, but no luck. So she took me to work, then went to school. When she got home, she called AAA to tow the car to the mechanic, and I took the bus home. Jill was watching TV, so I went upstairs to read the paper and listen to Lindsey Buckingham. She made a salad, then I came downstairs and cooked a pizza. After dinner, we finished watching “Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit” and the making of. Jill was sllepy and went to bed, I wasn’t and stayed up watching TV (“Jericho” and “Arrested Development”).

Saturday we went to pick up Jill’s car (it started fine for them, of course, but she’d gotten an oil change anyway). Then she went off to run errands and I went home and made an omelette. I watched the rest of Stewart/Colbert and Bill maher, then hit my TV backlog (“Smallville”, 2 “Eureka”, 2 “Robot Chicken” and “Metalocalypse”) and read the paper while watching a Blues Traveler concert. I made a Malaysian recipe for spicy noodle soup (with coconut milk, chicken, and shrimp) and sweet potato greens while Jill studied, then she went back upstairs and I watched more TV (“Dr. Who” and SNL).

Today she was out early for a study session, I slept in, then made huevos and took Illa for a walk before the game. The Skins got another spanking in Giants Stadium, hopefully they’ll split their series again this year. Next week should be a win vs. the Titans, but the Colts will be tough. I finished the paper and watched some “Battlestar Galactica” and now am going downstairs to make ribs for dinner. I’m online now because I might go check out Porcupine Tree tonight, but I’m not sure because I’m definitely going to shows Monday and Tuesday.