Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Voodoo Experience - Alternative Music Festival


     Back in June my wife and I had the distinct pleasure of attending the very first Verge Alternative Music Festival held at the SummerFest Grounds in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We had the opportunity on that Saturday to attend concerts performed by Weezer, Geri X, Cold War Kids, Locksley, The Ravonettes, AFI, Invade Rome, and Rogue Wave. We had a great time and decided to branch out. This month we’re taking our concert-going adventures to new levels. We will be attending the Voodoo Experience in New Orleans, LA. the weekend of October 29th, 2010. Four days and nights of music, southern food, and sightseeing will do for me what the peace movement did for Woodstock. I’m really looking forward to this vacation and, since we’ve never been to “Nawlins,” hope to take pleasure in a unique and new experience. Below is a listing of our anticipated agenda (schedule to change at any time) as delivered by the Voodoo Experience iPhone app. Group details are from the Voodoo site. Click on a band name to visit their website.

Friday, October 29th, 2010

Johnny Sketch & the Dirty Notes -- Sony Make.Believe Stage at 1:30 PM

AM -- Voodoo Stage (LOA Lounge)at 2:30 PM

Eli “Paperboy” Reed & The True Loves -- Sony Make.Believe Stage at 3:30 PM

Dead Confederate -- Voodoo Stage (LOA Lounge) at 4:30 PM

     Dead Confederate is an alternative rock band which formed in Athens, Georgia, United States in 2006. The band consists of Hardy Morris (vocals, guitars), Walker Howle (guitar), John Watkins (keyboards), Brantley Senn (bass) and Jason Scarboro (drums). The band released their debut album, "Wrecking Ball" on September 16, 2008 on Razor & Tie and The Artists Organization. The album includes the single "The Rat". Though the band is pinned as producing the same kind of indie rock aesthetic à la My Morning Jacket and Band of Horses, Dead Confederate dabbles in darker shades than their compared predecessors. From the raspy, unrestrained shrieks of "The Rat" and the psychedelic guitar wail on the vivid "Tortured Artist Saint" to the intimate acoustic layers of "Memorial Day Night," Dead Confederate echo the Drive-By Truckers' bittersweet southern rock angst with the smoke-heavy swagger of the Black Angels. Although southern Civil War soldiers may remain six feet under, Dead Confederate's sincere versatility drives home that Rock'n'roll is damn well alive and kicking.

Metric -- Voodoo Stage (LOA Lounge) at 6:30 PM

Weezer -- Sony Make.Believe Stage at 7:45 PM

     Weezer was founded in Los Angeles on February 14, 1992 by Rivers Cuomo, Jason Cropper, Matt Sharp, and Pat Wilson. The band began writing music and playing local clubs. Despite not having much success at first, the band pressed forward. After 16 months together, playing shows and recording demos in Los Angeles, DGC records (Geffen) signed Weezer. The band moved to New York to record at the famed electric lady studios under producer Ric Ocasek (of Cars fame). During the recording of Weezer, Jason left the band to take care of his future wife, who was pregnant with their first child. Jason was replaced by Brian Bell, a then bassist from a band called Carnival Art.

Muse -- Voodoo Stage (LOA Lounge) at 9:00 PM

Raphael Saadiq -- Bingo! Stage at 9:15 PM

Saturday, October 30th, 2010

Michael Tolcher -- Sony Make.Believe Stage at 12:00 PM

Mia Borders -- Voodoo Stage (LOA Lounge) at 1:00 PM

     Mia Borders is one of those rare young talents that can sing about life, love, and loss and make listeners feel it. With lyrics so personal, so mature, and so direct, she has recently captured both local and national audiences with her energetic blend of funk, soul, and contemporary songwriting. As Offbeat Magazine's Alex Rawls writes, "Note to self: Pay more attention to Mia Borders." USA today named Mia one of the 2010 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival's “hidden surprises,” and Where Y'at Magazine named Mia "New Orleans' hottest buzz band." The April 2010 release of "Magnolia Blue” garnered her a nomination for “Best Emerging Artist” at the Big Easy Music Awards and a nationally broadcast performance at N.O. Jazz Fest '10 by WWOZ. Mia Borders hit the road in support of "Magnolia Blue" with notable performances at the Mount Helena Music Festival, Taos Mountain Music Festival, San Jose Jazz Festival, and Bonnaroo (VIP pre-party with Big Sam's Funky Nation.) When Borders recently opened for Corinne Bailey Rae at the House of Blues, NewOrleans.com noted that "Borders drew the crowd in and had them cheering for more by the time she announced the last song of her 30-minute set." Mia Borders has secured her role as one of the fastest rising artists in the city and has established herself as an artist to watch.

The Whigs -- Sony Make.Believe Stage at 4:00 PM

Cage the Elephant -- Voodoo Stage (LOA Lounge) at 5:00 PM

     Music critics who have witnessed the eye-popping spectacle that is Cage the Elephant live performance have likened the band’s singer to many things, among them “a demented Bible Belt preacher,” “a Tasmanian devil whooping and jumping up and down like a frenzied gibbon.” And that’s just frontman Matt Shultz. The verdict? “Exhilarating, 100 mph stuff,” raved British indie music live show — which made this red-hot Kentucky-bred band the talk of this year’s South-by-Southwest music festival, and led USA Today to single them out as a band not to miss at 2009’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival — is the perfect showcase for their buzzed-about self-titled debut album for Jive Records. Recorded over 10 days with Grammy Award-winning producer Jay Joyce, and a Top 40 hit when it was released on British indie label Relentless the U.K. last June, the album is a genre-defying blend of rock n roll and raw youthful punk energy all propelled by Matt’s taunting, Dylan-esque rhythmic vocal delivery, Brad Shultz and Lincoln Parish’s furious twin guitar assault, and bassist Daniel Tichenor and drummer Jared Champion’s rock-funk groves. “The music comes from a pure place,” Matt says. We really like the energy of music that feels passionate, raw, unplanned emotion. That’s what we were really trying to capture.

Florence And The Machine Florance And The Machine -- Sony Make.Believe Stage at 6:00 PM

     Let’s talk about magic. Because music, at its best, is a kind of magic that lifts you up and take's you somewhere else. “I want my music to sound like throwing yourself out of a tree, or off a tall building, or as if you’re being sucked down into the ocean and you can’t breathe,” says Florence Welch. “It’s something overwhelming and all-encompassing that fills you up, and you’re either going to explode with it, or you’re just going to disappear.” Florence writes her best songs when she’s drunk or has a hangover, because that’s when the freedom, the feral music comes, creating itself wildly from the fragments gathered in her notebooks and in her head. “You’re lucid,” she explains, “but you’re not really there. You’re floating through your own thoughts, and you can pick out what you need. I like those weird connections in the universe. I feel that life’s like a consistent acid trip, those times when things keep coming back.” Florence herself is a mass of contradictions: she’s tough yet she’s terrified, a bundle of nerves and passion, of darkness and pure joy. “I feel things quite intensely, which is why the music has to be so intense. I’m either really sad or really happy; I’m tired or completely manic. That’s when I’m at my most creative, but it’s also dangerous for me. I feel I could write some good songs, or break some hearts, or tables, or glasses.” As a performer she can seem fearless, but she’s also far too quick to pass judgment on herself. This is the woman, after all who got into Camberwell Art College by making a huge floral sign telling herself ‘You are a twat.’ She says she’s a geek, who loses all control when in love. She’s also something increasingly rare and precious in a time of karaoke pop: an artist who has found her own, authentic voice.

Buckwheat Zydeco -- Soco/WWOZ Stage at 6:45 PM

Jakob Dylan and Three Legs -- Soco/WWOZ Stage at 8:30 PM


Sunday, October 31st, 2010

Jonathan Tyler and the Northern Lights -- Sony Make.Believe Stage at 11:15 AM

White Rabbits -- Voodoo Stage (LOA Lounge) at 12:15 PM

Minus the Bear -- Voodoo (LOA Lounge) at 2:15 PM

The Airborne Toxic Event -- Sony Make.Believe Stage at 3:15 PM

     Literary allusions are hardly new territory in rock and roll. The Fall named their sixth record Bend Sinister after Nabokov's infamously dark novel. The Velvet Underground got its name from a certain cult book on sex and bondage given to Lou Reed at a party one night. "Killing an Arab" by the Cure is a reference to the Stranger by Camus -- Robert Smith's favorite book, in fact. The Airborne Toxic Event borrows its name from the novel White Noise by Don Delillo. Published in 1984, the book foresaw a world consumed by media -- radio waves, billboards, television, advertisements -- all crowding waking hours, finding their way into dreams, subconscious thoughts, incoherent bits of static about Toyotas, Pepsi, manic depression, and the president. The Airborne Toxic Event is an enormous dark cloud, created by an explosion at a nearby chemical plant. In addition to the crowded airwaves, the cloud portends death, lingering at the edges of life, giving it meaning, urgency, something to fear. The music press has compared them to the Cure, Modest Mouse, the Smiths, Franz Ferdinand, the Clash and the Arcade Fire. Rolling Stone named them one of the top 25 bands on MySpace. Their live show, in addition to viola, organ, guitars and trumpet, includes the hood of a 1969 Alfa Romeo found at a junkyard one afternoon. It's been a heady few months. And what began with a literary allusion, with a couple of boys alone in a warehouse, has become a kind of sweeping plea - to dance, to sing, to cry, to live - to find something alive and kicking among all the static, death, and white noise.

Paul Oakenfold -- Le Plur Stage presented by Billboard.com at 4:15 PM

JP. Chrissie and The Fairground Boys -- Bingo! Stage at 5:45 PM

Macy Gray -- Soco/WWOZ Stage at 5:45 PM

My Morning Jacket -- Voodoo Stage (LOA Lounge) at 7:00 PM

     There’s a theme of moral confusion that runs through the whole record,” says Jim James, frontman of My Morning Jacket, explaining the title of the band’s new album, Evil Urges. “The world today is such a confused place. Things that people think are good values are obviously twisted, but there are other things considered evil that obviously aren’t. There is real evil out there, but Evil Urges is about how all of these things that you’ve been told are evil really aren’t, unless they’re actually hurting something or somebody.”

     It’s ambitious territory for the group’s fifth full-length studio album, and it’s matched by the most far-ranging, surprising, and satisfying sounds of their career. From the freak-funk electro-slam of “Highly Suspicious” to the contemplative “Sec Walkin’,” which could almost be a Nashville standard, on Evil Urges, My Morning Jacket display the scope and fearlessness that demonstrates their growth into one of the world’s great rock & roll bands.


Voodoo Experience Agenda

My agenda was emailed from the official iPhone app of the Voodoo Experience 2010, available here: (Voodoo Experience 2010 iPhone app)

Brought to you by Applitite LLC - Applitite LLC

The Alternative

Southeast Wisconsin

Sent from my iPad

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Book Review – Out of Whack by Jeff Strand

Out of Whack

Jeff Strand

ISBN 0759945020


Book Review - Out of Whack by Jeff Strand cover

Note: For those of you with a PG-13 mindset please look away now.

I’ll say this once, and only once. Gratuitous sex. Okay, now that that’s out of the way I can begin my review of Jeff Strand’s Out of Whack. But wait, before you accuse me of stealing Strand’s idea of opening up a work with a sex scene know this – I don’t care if you accuse me of stealing his idea. You see, as far as I’m concerned, gratuitous sex is in the public domain and belongs to everyone. Or, should, at any rate.

Note: For those with a PG-13 mindset who looked away earlier you may now read the remainder of my review without bumping repeatedly into anything R-Rated.

Irreverent by nature Out of Whack can only be described as a semi-autobiographical kick-in-the-pants, coming-of-age, laugh-fest (with lots of words/phrases hyphenated together to sound cooler). No, seriously, I squirted milk out of my nose while reading this. Twice! I guffawed in my sleep dreaming about the humor contained therein. I chuckled uproariously at the oddball antics of the characters and I peed my pants during one hilariously feeble sex scene. And that was just in the first few chapters!

Seriously folks, Out of Whack is a terribly funny read that successfully manages to tap into the raw emotion just about everyone’s felt during those awkward growing up years. The story is truly about friendship and love and humor and doing whatever it takes to attain your goals. It also manages to entertain with both humor and aplomb. I recommend it to anyone that a) likes to laugh, b) is interested in starting a comedy troupe, or c) wants to be entertained but can’t afford that certain magazine wrapped in plain brown paper. Out of Whack is a witty book by a certifiably comical author and well worth your time.

“But don’t read it for the laughs.  And don’t read it for the heartfelt parts.  Read it for the sex scene, which proves that even if you’re filled with ravenous animal passion, trying to dramatically tear off somebody’s underwear can only lead to wedgies.”

This is the first book of Strand’s that I’ve read but I can assure you it won’t be the last.

4 out of 5 stars

The Alternative

Southeast Wisconsin

Additional Reading:

  1. Author's Blog
  2. Google Books Excerpt
  3. Jeff Strand Interview
  4. Strand's Fantastic Fiction Page

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Book Review – Orphanage by Robert Buettner


Robert Buettner

Book Review - Orphanage by Robert Buettner cover

By the author’s own admission Orphanage is a conscious homage to Robert A. Heinlein's classic science-fiction shoot-em-up, Starship Troopers, but it is also much more than that. It is a modern telling of a style that I thought almost gone. Thankfully, the Golden Age of Science Fiction is revived in Buettner’s capable hands. Reminiscent of Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War and Mindbridge, Fred Pohl’s Gateway, and Robert H. Heinlein’s Have Spacesuit Will Travel, as well as the above-mention Starship Troopers Buettner certainly reveals his mastery of the military aspect of his stories. The action scenes and sequences are choreographed superbly and the battle scenes compelling and poignant. In addition, Orphanage, as well as all the other books in this series, contains everything that is good about excellent military science fiction. No, let me amend that. Orphanage contains everything that is good about excellent fiction, period. Buettner writes characters that you will care about, plots that are tight, dialogue that flows, and he has a grasp for spinning a tale that is always entertaining. Spending time with these brilliantly written works of mankind at war with a devious alien entity will not disappoint.

Buettner should be honored to be mentioned with the likes of Haldeman, Pohl, and Heinlein. I know I’m privileged to add him to my list of favorites.

Jason Wander Series

1. Orphanage (2004)

4 ½ stars out of 5

The Alternative’s Nutshell Recap: Evil aliens throw rocks at the Earth vaporizing many large cities. The world relies on one counterstrike in space led by soldiers left as orphans by the attack. Using outdated space craft and weapons the Orphans are ordered to invade the enemy on Ganymede.

2. Orphan's Destiny (2005)

4 ½ stars out of 5

The Alternative’s Nutshell Recap: Foot-soldier made General by losses in the Slug War Jason Wander returns home only to find that the real war has just begun. A full armada-sized invasion must be stopped by a single, ancient space craft and a suicide squad led by recently promoted General Wander.

3. Orphan's Journey (2008)

4 stars out of 5

The Alternative’s Nutshell Recap: Sent to the resort planet of New Moon Jason and crew are propelled into deep space when the test of a space ship goes wrong. Stranded on an alien planet Jason must save not only his friends but everyone else on the planet.

4. Orphan's Alliance (2008)

4 stars out of 5

The Alternative’s Nutshell Recap: Humans have been found in space. Jason Wander is sent as an emissary but finds that politics can be harder than leading men into battle. When mankind battles the Slugs for a strategic pieces of space Jason discovers that the most dangerous enemy is not always the one you expect.

5. Orphan's Triumph (2009)

4 stars out of 5

The Alternative’s Nutshell Recap: General Wander prepares for the final conflict as Earth and her allied forces organize to employ a doomsday weapon that can end the war. When a strategic reversal threatens mankind Jason Wander must confront the demons that turned him to the military in the first place and stripped away the innocence of his youth.

Additional Reading:

Orphanage Artwork

Author Site

Author's Blog

 Internet Speculative Fiction Database

SF World Review

The Alternative

Southeast Wisconsin


Book Review - Orphanage by Robert Buettner end art

Friday, October 22, 2010

Book Review - Jesse James' Secret by Ron Pastore and John O'Melveny Woods


  • Jesse James' Secret
  • Ron Pastore and John O'Melveny Woods
  • Intellect Publishing, 2010, Trade Paperback
  • ISBN: 0972976167

I have to admit that I felt a certain piqued interest in this book when I first saw it offered for review. New evidence of historical value concerning Jesse James presented with a compelling argument and firm historical research was an exciting thought. The reality, however, was far from the promise I imagined. After reading through the first six or seven chapters my interest gave way to incredulousness and yes, a bit of annoyance. The term Genealogy bug, or the passion for family tree research, came to my mind as I continued reading. Pastore, while quite enthusiastic about the subject and invested in ways ill-defined, provides very little solid evidence to prove his hypothesis which is exactly the trap that many novice genealogist fall into. In plain terms, I don’t think there’s anything new or relevant presented here to change anyone’s mind. As such I’d have to categorize Jesse James’ Secret as pseudo-history at best with an emphasis on the word “pseudo.”

Historical research aside the book itself suffers on many other levels, as well. There is an obvious overuse of idiom and cliché. While I would probably be quite happy to find my way out of a cave after hours of being lost I certainly wouldn’t “kiss the ground” when I did. This was the most blatant and tedious cliché that I found but there are many others and they distracted from the message. That alone made me close this book well before I reached the halfway point. I remember thinking that the author presented the information in this book not so much as to illuminate the reader on a new theory or hypothesis but to win an argument with someone who disagreed with his notions. And while there may have been new information here, in the end, it was presented in such a way as to leave me confused over the point.

Did Jesse James fake his own death? Possibly. Did Jesse James and gang hide treasure in the caves of Missouri and Kansas? Probably. But this book does not present any clear evidence to support either theory.


2 1/2 out of 5 stars

The Alternative

Southeast Wisconsin

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Music Review – Carney – Mr. Green Volume 1

Carney 1

     Once in a great while a superb record crosses my path and I have to share my find. This year I’ve found two. Last month it was Anais Mitchell’s Hadestown. This month I present, Carney’s Mr. Green Volume 1. I have to admit, this album has it all; great vocals, wonderful guitar work, haunting harmonies, and excellent lyrics. The title track Mr. Green is Beatlesque in both feel and sound and isn’t even the best track on the disc. I’ll leave that choice to you. The rockabilly Amelie has great licks and Reeve Carney’s voice is an instrument in and of itself. There She Goes has a Queen-like feel to the harmonies and vocals. Think of You will appeal to the spiritual side of most listeners but can also instantly take you back to those melancholy days when you lost your first love (whether 4 or 40 years ago.) In the tradition of the Delta Blues Testify will stir your blood. You’ll be bobbing your head and tapping your toes right up until the time it spins down into a psychedelic swirl of guitars and vocals. I’ve enjoyed every song on this album and that is a rare thing indeed these days. Listen to Carney on iTunes and see if I’m not right. Then come back here and tell me how you feel about my pick for a breakout band. Mark my words, and I’ve said it here for the first time… Carney will be around for a very long time to come.

P.S. Reeve Carney is performing the lead role in U2’s Broadway musical Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark.

Track List

✓ Love Me Chase Me 4:55

✓ Tomorrow's Another Day 3:43

✓ Mr. Green 5:51

✓ Amelie 3:02

✓ There She Goes 3:05

✓ Nothing Without You 3:41

✓ Think of You 4:47

✓ Testify 7:55

✓ Lavender 3:06


Carney 2

Official Website: www.carneyband.com/

Myspace Website: www.myspace.com/carneytheband