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.