Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Julie Ruin at House of Vans

After an ongoing bout with Lyme disease temporarily grounded punk legend Kathleen Hanna (also of Bikini Kill and Le Tigre), her latest band Julie Ruin had to go into hiatus last year, cancelling a tour.  Just before that, they did a great show in Asbury Park NJ in April 2014 though- you can see photos and videos that I took from the show at TheBlot's tumblr site.

Now ready to return to the tour circuit, Hanna and Ruin played at House of Van's Almost Summer Series in Brooklyn this past Saturday with impressive L.A. grrl punks Bleached.

As for Julie Ruin, Hanna was in even better form than last summer, telling that the crowd that she still felt young at 46 years old.  She proved it too- she's a great stage presence, a great band leader, a rock star if you will, full of energy, dynamics, fun (joshing with keysman Kenny Mellman throughout the show) and abandon.  Later, she was joking that she was sweating through her silver outfit with the word "slut" on her stomach now smeared (a nod back to her Bikini Kill days).  "We loved you Kathleen!" girls from the audience kept shouting at the end of each song, speaking for all of us there.

Along with an upcoming European tour, Hanna also shared the good news that the band is working on material for a new album.

See photos and videos from the Brooklyn show below.


Dr. John Cooper Clarke makes an NYC house call

Think you're a UK punk fan?  You know the Pistols, Clash and all those legends but one unique chap stood among them- a poet who performed on the same stages as these bands of the time and even recorded with members of the Buzzcocks and the Fall among others.  Manchester's John Cooper Clarke did solo readings also, bringing his cheeky and punky style to the Brit masses.  Though his recording career ended around 1982, crate diggers are advised to find 1978's Disguise In Love and 1980's Snap, Crackle and Bop.  In 2007, he would make a cameo as himself in the film Control, which chronicles Joy Division and singer Ian Curtis (who were also contemporaries of JCC).

For his first US appearance since anyone can remember (he was originally supposed to be here a few months ago but has to cancel because of Visa problems), his mini tour took him to the Music Hall of Williamsburg on May 7th for a show, which was unique as the club had seating for the evening.

For the packed house, fellow Mancunian poet Mike Garry opened with the same kind of fun irreverence as JCC, featuring a tribute to late Factory Records founder Tony Wilson (you can see a version of "Saint Anthony" on YouTube) and spoke of his recent collaboration with Philip Glass.

JCC himself appeared neatly dressed in a suit and cap, which he wore claiming that the trip to the States gave him a sudden case of alopecia. His set was filled with his brash poems but also sprinkled with numerous wisecracks and jokes.

- On his recent doctorate (an honorary degree from the University of Salford): 
"Now I'm a doctor, finally my dream of opening a cosmetic surgery business can become a reality. "

- On opener Mike Garry: "He's a great guy.  He saved my life once.  I was getting beaten up by a bunch of guys and he said 'OK, that's enough...'' (a joke he stole from Shecky Greene about Frank Sinatra).


- On nuptials- "Marriage is a sexual relationship recognized by the police."

- More on marriage- "If it wasn't for marriage couples would have to fight with complete strangers" (he did note that he was happy married and grateful for his wife, who somehow tolerated him for years).

- On being an R.E.M. hater- "The only song I know from them is 'Everybody Hurts.'  Everybody hurts- yeah, no shit!  This whiny guy (Michael Stipe) is why I couldn't get a decent blowjob until I was 27."

In between lapsing into a gritty New York accent and throwing in bits of Yiddish, he also nabbed a gun joke from "The Simpsons," which he admitted was one of his favorite shows. Though he did perform several 'greatest hits,' a few were missed, including "(I've Got A Brand New) Tracksuit," "Psycle Sluts" and "The Day My Pad Went Mad." 

Still, JCC was hilariously entertaining.  If/when he makes it Stateside again, don't miss it.  As of now, he's finishing his current U.S. tour and then heading back to the UK to open for Squeeze. 

For more about JCC, you can see his official website plus this (admittedly outdated) fan site.


Here's a few clips of JCC from the Brooklyn show, reading some of his fave prose.

"Hire Car" and a few jokes to begin with, on an existential tip.

"Evidently Chickentown," which he proudly noted was used at the end of one of the last episodes of "The Sopranos" and drops dozens of F-bombs (he joked that when he performed it on TV, the censor got repetitive stress syndrome from hitting the bleep button).

"Bedblocker Blues"
Here's where you get to hear him sing Chet Baker and make Alzheimer's jokes.

"Beasley Street"

Thursday, March 26, 2015


Had lotsa fun as usual at the festival and a big thanks to the great people on my music magazine panel: Jim DeRogatis, Jaan Uhelski, Alex Gale, Ann Powers.  I've been posting a bunch of photos and videos of all the stuff I saw (about 70 bands in all) at TheBlot including:

- Highlights from Day 1 - March 17th, including Barbettes, Songhoy Blues, Spoon, Moving Panoramas, The Ooohh Baby Gimme Mores, Apanhador Só

- Highlights from Day 2 - March 18th, including Sego, Public Service Broadcasting, Speedy Ortiz, Wolf Alice, 

- Highlights from the rest of the week- March 19th-21st, including the Zombies, Odesza, Bomba Estereo, Chandos, Courtney Barnett, Lilly Hiatt, Elle King, Peelander-Z, Holychild, Kate Tempest, Prince Rama, Seinabo Sey

I'm already looking forward to next year though I could use a week to decompress now.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

How to Improve the Grammys

OK, I understand why for even music fans, the Grammys are a jaded topic- it's an empty, glitzy pageant and a way for the biz to try to boost itself and congratulate itself. I used to watch it and enjoy it, mostly for the unique mash-up of artists they'd do but even that's gotten kind of tired.  Otherwise, it's a way for artists to boost their resumes and I'll probably just watch highlights after the fact online. 

I wrote an article about 14 categories they should have at the Grammys to maybe improve them:
Always glad to help!

Monday, February 02, 2015


For TheBlot, I wrote about the upcoming Dylan album Strangers in the Night where he takes on some Sinatra classics but covered more about what other kind of weird/odd/strange things he's done in his career, such as... 

- The lingerie ad

- His Christian years where he'd lecture crowds about Jesus

- His Christmas album

And there's more.  And with Ol' Bob, reassured that there will be more to come...