Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Ed Cole celebrates his personal decade with Birdie Jo.

How many times have I laughed myself pissing while watching Birdie Jo? I don't really know, but when I saw them play again on Saturday night, I was definitely laughing with all the glee of a 26 year-old, self-pissing geezer instead of a 36 year-old one. Long live Birdie Jo! I have been seeing this band for ten fucking years now and I am still awed and inspired every time I see them play. Pedro, Michael and ScottK and Amy - I idolize you all. I don't know what it is you do, but you must do it good because I keep coming back.
The first time I saw Birdie Jo was the first time I had ever been inside Sam Bond's Garage in early 1996; the experience was good. I was introduced to two of my favorite things in Eugene in one night. Birdie Jo were just a three-piece band then and they sounded nothing like I thought they would. I had already met ScottK at the health food store he used to work at. I thought he was the kind of guy who would have a raging punk band. Birdie Jo was not that kind of a band. They were punk in attitude, but they played a weird brand of clanky, working-class folk-punk.
Quietly, the band rumbled along with a dis-jointed yet compelling sound. The lyrics were great - they sounded like they could have been written by either Charles Manson or Woodie Guthrie or possibly by both. And then there was Pedro; the matinee idol of the Eugene underworld.
Pedro was playing sitting down that night and had also lost his voice. He kept yelling, "I'm a twelve-year-old boy! I'm a twelve-year-old boy!", and it sounded like he meant it. He was strumming spastically at a bass with both of his hands and fingers covered with duct tape - why, I'll never know(or care) but it was funny as hell to see him strum and yell. Pedro was a spaz, but he played and sang with all of his heart and somehow that heart-felt feeling came through in his forceful, spasmoditic performances. It was often both hilarious and moving to watch at times.

Over time, many of my own bands ended up playing shows with Birdie Jo. One night in the Fall of 1996, Birdie Jo and a band I had called "Seat" or something played a show at the old John Henry's along with a bunch of other local bands for a KWVA birthday show or something. ScottK, Amy and Michael were playing, sitting down, without Pedro - just drums, guitar and cello, no bass - and this huge frat guy was very drunk and aggressive with the band. He showed his dislike of the music by standing menacingly on the stage, staring down at the band and trying to challenge ScottK to a fight.
Scott turned him down and this guy ended up being drunk, violent and belligerent
all night long, much to everyone's dismay. But I always admired ScottK's ability to send the guy on his way without provocation or hard words. He was under the power of Birdie Jo.

The other night was their annual Thanksgiving reunion show. Seeing Pedro walk in with his mohawk cracked me up. I just about pissed myself.

If you ever come and see them, wear adult undergarments.

Birdie Jo rocks! They are unique freaks of nature and prime examples of all the goodness that humanity has to offer.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Give thanks, the bird is dead...

Man, Thanksgiving was pretty mellow this year, but mellow is good. I feel well-rested and well-fed and I am thankful for that. Tina made a medium-sized turkey bird with all the trimmings. Quite delicious! I am the beneficiary of some fine-ass cooking. Zook came over and ate and commenced hanging out for a couple of hours while we watched a really crappy English movie called Love, Actually. Sucks, Actually is what I was thinking the whole time. No gunfights and no car chases; it didn't feel at all like a thnksgiving movie. Oh well, better luck next year.
Now, I am oh-so-happy to be back at work the day after, lifting the produce boxing and slinging the B.S. with my workmates. Later, I work the soundboard at Sam Bond's Garage for reggae singer Norma Fraser. Should be a good show.Tomorrow, I work the Birdie Jo reunion show, same venue. If you see me at either show, come over and say "hi".

Over and oot,


Monday, November 20, 2006

Saturday was a most amazing day/night.

I've been going pretty hard-core lately, what with school and work and band and all the other things that go into being a human resident of planet Eugene. I often think of my many friends who seem to also be pushing themselves into an exhaustive, cathartic state of art-worship and party culture that kind of defines the state of our intersecting music and social scene - Mr Random, Shawn Mediaclast, my girl Tina and many other bands and persons. Why do we do it? Work at our jobs to survive, spend precious few moments with our families some weekends, go out and play in our bands or dj gigs or performance stuff or whatever, only to return to school/work on Monday, frazzeledand burnt-out, only to do the same thing all over again the next weekend. That being said, I must tell you of my Saturday experience.
Saturday evening started out pretty well. After a pleasant family dinner of stir-fry and rice - we often enjoy a nice, healthy meal before going off to our various rock and roll events. I dropped Cosmo off at the McDonald Theatre, where the Cherry Poppin' Daddies were playing and then I was off to KWVA, where the Underlings were slated to play live, on-the-air.
Mike Z, Dylan and I played pretty damn well on the Baker's Ball show. It was totally fun; the fun was total. I think we sounded pretty good, also.
Later, I loaded some gear for Tina's gig at the Downtown Lounge and then made my way to John Henry's for my gig. Mikey and I hung at SNAFU club for a drink and then to D-Lo to hang with the Ov's a bit, finally making it back to our show, ready to play at 1 am or so.
When we hit the stage, it was like a sack of wet corn-meal splatting on a sidewalk. We played what was possibly the worst show ever - well, at least the worst show I've played since the Garden Weasel show at the Jambalaya club in Arcata circa October 1991. It was...terrible! We fucking bombed, worse than I can remember having ever bombed before. I couldn't even tell that drums were being played. Dylan broke a bass string. I forgot my lyrics and felt like I was in a vaccuum of suck-ness. What was to blame? The patron saint of unconcious drummers worldwide, alcohol? Or was it just that the stars mis-aligned and pulled is into the vomitrous nebula of anti-music? I gave up and lay down onstage and just let chaos reign. We couldn't even finish a song all the way through. It was either hilarious or disaserous or both. But at least it will make a good story for the grand kids.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Shawn and Prudence the wonder-pug dropped in to listen at Sam Bond's on Friday. How is it that I know so many cool mammals?

I like school, but I have some bad habits left over from my care-free days in highschool that have got to go. The classes I like I charge into pretty full-steam. The classes I don't like, however, I have a hard time keeping up with.
I took my career guidance class mainly to fulfill a requirement. It is terrible - the teacher is nice, but the rest of the kids in my class are half my age. Also, I am forced to examine myself - my likes, dislikes, personality qualities, etc...- so that I might land in a future job environment better suited to my skills. EEEEWWWWWWGGGHHH!!! I hate examining myself - I'd rather be an unknown quanity. Also - I hate all jobs equally! I don't want to work - I just want to be holed up in a creepy mental institution with coffee and pills and a cassette recorder and a ukelele or something. Still, I think I will hang in there in the world of school and work for awhile longer yet.

Monday, November 06, 2006

I went to see No Means No last Thursday for only the ninth time since 1989. They seemed well, although both bassist Rob Wright and guitarist Tom Holliston seemed tired. Still, they always play their own brand of complicated jazz-punk as if their lives depended on it - i.e. the only way to play.
My hero-worship of No Means No is akin to what I feel about Mike Watt or DOA - those are some of the only bands out there that have lasted and still participate in the get-in-the-van punk ethos. They'll never be rich or famous, but they are doing what they do out of love and commitment to their music. That's always what I've wanted to do when I grow up.
My Underlings played at Sam Bonds on Friday and it was good. Many work friends were there + of course Monsieur Random and Tina. That night, Dylan and Mikey became a "crack" rhythm section. They truly filled in the cracks and also played like they were on crack. All I had to do was just slop down some music and they would spread it and flatten it out like they were laying a highway or somethin'.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

If you don't know (or don't remember) who Stew is, you should familiarize yourself. An artist's artist, that's who he is.

School is starting to kick my ass. Actually, that's not true; LIFE is kicking my ass, in a good way and school is just one part of that. I am working as hard as I can to keep on top of my classes but I still feel dis-organized and un-focused. I'm glad to have a chance to break out of the old routine, 'cause working the natural foods circuit has become more and more like prostitution to me. Don't wanna do it.

Come see the Underlings play with Brooklyn songwriter Eef Barzelay at Sam Bond's Garage on Friday. I think we play at 9:30.