People are strange

As my cab pulled into the Sheraton Meadowlands Sheraton Saturday morning, my cab driver, for about the fourth time in our ten minutes together, started laughing maniacally.

"Oh, look, a hearse! Look at that! Hahahahahahaha! Crazy people!"

He had begun releasing a flood of heavily accented gibberish soon after I mentioned that I was going to the Sheraton Meadowlands. As near as I could tell, most of the monologue focused on the fact that the Sheraton Meadowlands was full of crazy people that day. Lines everywhere. People in costumes. "Crazy"--that was the word that kept popping up in between bursts of laughter.

So I sat in the back of the cab, nodded my head, and said "Yeah, they're crazy" a few times, making sure to try and distance myself from "them." A futile effort, no doubt, but I had to at least try. And trying is the best you can do when it's 11 a.m. on a Saturday morning, you've already gotten a little lost, and you're now at the Chiller Theatre Film, TV, and Toy Expo, where you have come to see the blonde chick from the "Police Academy" movies, Captain Lou Albano, Abdullah the Butcher, and a bunch of other "celebrities" of equal stature.

Someday, I'll get a respectable hobby.

Who am I kidding? No, I won't.


Anyway, after another quick outburst of laughter, the cab driver let me out in front of the hotel, where there was a pretty lengthy line of people waiting to get in. Assuming this was the line to buy tickets, I hopped on the end of the line, a little ways back from the guy dressed as Charlie Chaplin. But I soon realized that this was the line for people who had already purchased tickets. I had to go to a different line, on the other side of the hotel, to buy a ticket. Sweet.

So it was on to line #2 of the day, which actually started in the hotel lobby and snaked outside, right across from another line, which extended out of view. That was where to go to meet the celebrities, who were all in a tent at the end of that line, waiting to ask you to spend $20 to buy a signed 8 X 10 photo. So, once I got my ticket, I would have to go to that line, which really didn't seem to be moving that much. I briefly considered calling it a day, but, well, what fun would that be, right? Right?

Mere seconds after I got on the ticket line, I heard a staffer call out, "Sorry, line's closed. We're sold out of tickets." He was saying this in my general direction, but I just pretended I was on line long before he said it, and that seemed to work, because I wound up being the last person on line. Then more people got on line when he was distracted, and he didn't really notice. It was at that point that I realized this might not be the best-run convention. Or at least that was the first point.

But my spot on line and whether I'd be able to buy a ticket all became moot when someone came up to the line looking to get rid of three tickets. I jumped at the offer (saving $5 off the admission price, too, thankyouverymuch), as did the guy in front of me on line, Josh, who, it turned out, had no idea this was a major convention and just wanted to get a pair of boxing gloves signed by Rubin "Hurricane" Carter. After looking at the autograph line, he was beginning to have second thoughts. But we decided to persevere together, and I made sure not to mention that I had a "Police Academy 4" poster and the soundtrack to "Body Slam" in my bag. I figured that was for the best.


After getting back in the ticketholders' line in order to get bracelets, it was over to the autograph tent, the main reason why I had embarked on this adventure. After checking out the Chiller website for a few months, I started thinking that I should check this convention out. I'd always heard about it, but there were never enough good guests to justify going. Then, they added Leslie Easterbrook--Callahan from the "Police Academy" movies--and, then, well, you know.

So, I had brought my Police Academy 4 poster and DVD (signed by Michael Winslow, of course) for her, the soundtrack to the fantastic 1980s wrestling film "Body Slam" for Captain Lou Albano and Dirk Benedict, a DVD of "Amazon Women on the Moon" for director John Landis, and former professional wrestling eye candy Missy Hyatt's biography to get signed. Plus I wanted a Polaroid with Abdullah the Butcher and, even more important, a T-shirt from "Abdullah the Butcher's House of Ribs and Chinese Food," which I hoped he'd be selling.

To salvage whatever's left of my dignity, I should just delete that last paragraph, shouldn't I?

Anyway, Josh and I headed over to the front of the autograph tent, where Josh made an unsuccessful attempt to weasel his way in, explaining that he just wanted one autograph. He was too shy at this point of the day to pull out his sheriff's department badge and try to get in that way. Had he known what was ahead, I'm pretty sure the badge would've come out. But it didn't, so we headed to the end of the autograph line and began the long, hard wait. At noon. In a parking lot. In 45-degree weather.

That wait, it turned out, lasted a little over three hours.

I know what you're thinking: "Wow, you're so cool! I wish I were you!" What? That's not what you're thinking? I could've sworn it was. My bad.

NEXT: Stick a fork in my head--I'm done.


Get Out: The Spooky Halloween Edition

I've been too transfixed on "I Love the 80s 3D" to do much writing this week (someone, anyone, stop Mo Rocca). My apologies. Next week should bring something exciting, though. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, here's a special Halloween/All Saints Day edition of Get Out.

FRIDAY, 10/28--Eric Ambel and the Roscoe Trio--Lakeside Lounge--11 p.m.--NO COVER

Yes, the Roscoe Trio returns to the Lakeside Lounge for another free show during which much fun will be had. This will be the last Roscoe show for a bit, as he's headed out for another overseas tour as one of Steve Earle's Dukes (though I just saw that he will be playing a house party at Drew's in Ringwood, NJ on Sunday, December 11. Glory be.). So come on out and wish him well.

By the way, one of my pictures is on Roscoe's website. That makes me happy.

MONDAY, 10/31--Maybe Pete--Rockwood Music Hall--10 p.m.--NO COVER

Maybe Pete played this same place last month, and it was a real good time. The "music hall" is a comfy, new concert space on Allen St. on the Lower East Side. It's a real nice place, and Maybe Pete has some kickass new songs that sounded damn fine at the last show. Come out and support them after you dress up as a tampon for the Village Halloween Parade. You should probably change before you come.

And if you don't go, I'm totally egging your car. And TPing your house.

WEDNESDAY, 11/2--Matthew Ryan--Living Room--8 p.m.--$10

It has been a long time since Matthew Ryan came to town, so there is absolutely no chance I'd miss this show. He's a real underappreciated songwriter who's got a ton of great songs spread out over four albums (if I had to pick one, I'd go with "East Autumn Grin"...but I don't have to pick just one, and neither do you). His songs are full of so much damn emotion that I find it difficult to write or talk about them without getting overly emotional myself. Unfortunately, I tried to explain this to him once at the Goldhawk in Hoboken a few years ago. But he humored me and explained how a singer can go out and sing dark, depressing (but real powerful) songs about lost love night after night and not go crazy. He's a heckuva nice guy and really should be a lot better-known than he is. But that's the rest of the world's problem. You and I can go to the Living Room on Wednesday night.

Tinsel and Rot trivia: The name of this blog was blatantly stolen from a Matthew Ryan song ("I Hear a Symphony").

See you out there?


  • Eric Ambel

  • Lakeside Lounge

  • Maybe Pete

  • Rockwood Music Hall

  • Matthew Ryan

  • The Living Room
  • 10.17.2005


    When I "discover" a band through their live show, my immediate urge is to physically grab hold of everyone I know, plop them right in front of the stage at the next show the band does, and share with them the feeling that that particular band gave me the first time I saw them (if you are a regular reader, the fact that I have this urge likely comes as little surprise). My hope is that they'll get the same feeling I did, and if they don't, well, at least I tried. And, of course, if they don't get the same feeling, there is obviously something physically wrong with them (not the band), and their friendship automatically becomes trite and meaningless.

    I kid.

    But the first time I saw Marah (rhymes with "hurrah"), after hearing about them for a few months and missing a couple of shows, I got that feeling, that feeling that I had to see them again immediately. I needed to see them do that song again about the history of where someone was killed, I needed to watch the lead singer bob and weave his way through a guitar solo, and I just needed to hear that sound again, that perfect, unrefined sound that only comes from bands whose aim is true. More important, I had to bring witnesses along to verify that this band may just be the greatest rock band I'd ever seen.

    So I saw that Marah was playing a club called the Joyous Lake in Woodstock, NY, not too far away from my parents' place in Windham, NY, and not too far of a drive for the people we today call the Chambalas, who at the time were living in...um...oh, wait, it was...screw it, somewhere in New York. Somewhere reasonably close to Woodstock. That much I'm sure of. Except maybe not.

    Anyway, point is that soon the three of us were walking through the village of Woodstock, dodging hippies and wondering if that nondescript building across the street, the one that looked abandoned, was indeed the Joyous Lake.

    It was, and a few hours later, Marah was playing, Dave Bielanko was bobbing and weaving through a guitar solo, free drinks were coming from the bartender, and, on a ride to Windham full of hope and euphoria, all agreed that, yeah, this might just be a really great rock-and-roll band.

    And then there was that December afternoon a few years later, in the middle of a blizzard and after a morning spent waiting for furniture to arrive in my new apartment, that I boarded a Greyhound bus bound for Philadelphia. Along for the ride was Esa Tikkanen Fan Club president Anthony Iaffaldano, who hadn't seen Marah before and had finally given in to my pleas to see them. Unfortunately, after moving about ten miles in two hours, enduring the entire remake of "The In-Laws" and an incomprehensible bus driver in the process, it didn't look good that he'd be seeing Marah this time either.

    But the traffic eventually broke and we made it to Indre Studios in Philadelphia, where Marah was throwing a fans-only Christmas party. And after a few hours of holiday cheer and rock-and-roll sweat, Mr. Iaffaldano turned to me with a smile on his face and said, "You know all those times you told me about this great band Marah that I should go see, and then how I bailed out on going to the shows? Well..." I believe at this point, I gave him the finger. And he took it in stride, because he knew he should've gone to those shows, because, dammit, Marah was a helluva rock-and-roll band.

    I could go on with other tales of conversion, but I think you get the point. And if you don't, here it is: Marah kicks ass. Sorry to be so blunt about it, but it's true. Sure, there's that difficult third album we don't really need to talk about, but, generally speaking, Marah's track record is pretty damn strong. And, having been given an advance copy of their new CD, "If You Didn't Laugh, You'd Cry" (which will be available in all your finer music stores on Tuesday the 18th, along with a Christmas album, "A Christmas Kind of Town") a little while ago, I can assure you that they're still a pretty great rock band on CD, and, of course, a phenomenal one on the stage.

    So, with two shows in the NYC area this weekend (Friday at Maxwell's in Hoboken, NJ, and Saturday at Southpaw in Brooklyn) and the new CD(s) in stores tomorrow, it's never been easier to invite Marah into your life. If you love rock and roll, if you love that raw power that only comes from the electric guitar, if you love seeing and/or hearing a band who plays loud, hard, fast, and true, then you oughta check out Marah.

    And if you like 'em, tell a friend.


  • Maxwell's

  • Southpaw
  • 10.13.2005

    Tinsel and Rot: We Get Things Done

    In case I didn't e-mail you...

    Thanks in part to the quick thinking of your favorite blogger, what was bad news (the Waco Brothers Bloodshot Records Revue tour being cancelled due to a family emergency) is now good news--the Avett Brothers are playing a last-minute, two-set show at Southpaw in Brooklyn, NY, this Friday, October 14. Doors open at 8; the band's supposed to go on at 9:30. The cover's $10. Tinsel and Rot Money-Back Guarantee in full effect.

    It'd be cool if they got a good turnout--cool for me and cooler for the band. So, put a little sunshine in your week--go see the Avetts Friday night.


  • Avett Brothers

  • Southpaw
  • 10.12.2005

    The Amazing Disgrace: The Final Chapter

    By the time I left the Bendix, the rain had picked up, and parking lots were starting to get a little flooded. So I deftly jumped around puddles, moving from parking lot to parking lot with deftness and grace. Sure, I stepped in a few fairly deep puddles here and there, but, overall, I did a pretty good job of ensuring that I didn't spend two hours at Bananas casually inviting the onset of pneumonia.

    When I got to the club, I paid the cover (is it really that important how much it was?) and asked to be seated "anywhere but the front." So I got a seat at a table right by the door, next to a couple who laughed entirely too hard at the lame relationship jokes from the two warm-up comics. I am racking my brain trying to think of a sufficiently lame example of these jokes, but I honestly can't recall even one. They were just that bad. So bad that I'm sure one of the comics will have his own sitcom any day now.

    Soon it was time for Michael Winslow to take the stage. Almost immediately, he began sweating profusely. In fact, during a really bad opening bit on what women do when they use a public restroom, I became so distracted by the sweat overtaking him that I realized I wasn't even really paying attention to what he was saying. But I gradually was able to focus on his act, which, generally speaking, got better as it went along. And it was comforting to hear someone else yell out, "No, not on cauliflower" when Michael Winslow went into his kung fu movie shtick. (If you don't get the reference, congratulations...you did productive things when you were a child.)

    After another long bit about making prank phone calls as a kid in a voice that eventually came to be that of a Gremlin, he launched into a genuinely bizarre bit about a movie he wanted to make starring Flipper, Cheech, and Chong. It was mainly a means to introduce impressions of a dolphin and Cheech and Chong, but when he brought out the dolphin hand-puppet, I started to get nervous. Everybody else seemed to enjoy it, though, so maybe my comedic sense is off. I did enjoy his impressions of Cheech and Chong, which seemed to go over just about everybody's head, so maybe it just wasn't my kind of crowd. I shudder to think of what exactly "my kind of crowd" is.

    There were also impressions of Tina Turner (so-so), Led Zeppelin (Robert Plant and Jimmy Page's guitar), and, of course, Jimi Hendrix (the big finale and, honestly, a still-impressive rendition of Jimi playing the "Star-Spangled Banner"). He also broke up the stage act by showing a scene from "Star Wars" and providing the sound effects. Jealous yet?

    I feel comfortable in saying that the show surpassed Screech's in comedic value. I realize that there is no fainter praise with which one can be damned, but it's the best I can do. Seriously though, he does some cool things with sound effects, OK?


    After the show came the inevitable autograph/Polaroid session in the lobby. (NOTE: At this point, anyone interested in dating me at any point in the future should probably stop reading.) I brought along my "Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol" poster (which I forgot I had until earlier that day), along with my DVD copies of that movie and "Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami Beach." I wasn't sure if I wanted all of those things signed, but I wanted to be prepared, just in case. I also wasn't sure about getting the Polaroid ($15), because, well, see that number in parentheses?

    Anyway, I decided to get the poster signed and then worry about the DVDs if the line died down (I don't want to cause a scene...). The guy a couple of spots ahead of me in line really couldn't have been more excited. I guess his girlfriend (who was in the bathroom) was approached as part of that dolphin hand-puppet bit and "she just loved it, man." So that guy bought two DVDs to get signed (I was definitely not spending $20 on the DVD, a recording of his act, which, you might remember, I had just seen) and asked if he could take a picture with his cell phone camera. Michael Winslow seemed to hedge a bit, but then quickly agreed, even if it meant losing the Polaroid money. I want to point out here that, for whatever it's worth, both Michael Winslow and his manager (who I think was also his wife) seemed like genuinely nice people. They actually appeared to be appreciative that people came out on such a night. If they only knew...

    Soon it was my turn and I pulled out the poster, which not only brought much appreciation from Michael Winslow, but also a "Wow, who brought the poster?" from the guy who was now trying to find his girlfriend so she could get in a picture. Then the manager/wife asked me where I got it (Ebay). A scene was almost caused, but it was quickly avoided. And my poster was boldly signed (I imagine it will be on display soon).

    Then, staring at the torrential downpour that had developed while the show was going on, I decided, what the hell, I'll get the DVDs signed and buy a Polaroid, too. If you ever ask me for $15 and I say I can't give it to you, feel free to remind me of this moment. It was a moment of weakness, tempered by my fondness for any entertainer who's ever brought me joy and a desire to pay each and every one back in some way.

    So I get on the end of the line (which never really got lengthier than about 20 people), and when I return to the table, Michael Winslow says, "Oh, cool, you went back and got the DVDs." Then I handed a $20 bill to his manager/wife for the Polaroid and explained that I didn't want to hold up the line, so I waited to get the DVDs signed. At that, his manager/wife said, "Oh, go ahead, just get in the picture." Which is how I got the free Polaroid you see above.


    After the euphoric high that comes with scoring a free signed Polaroid from a member of the "Police Academy" cast, I headed out into the downpour and soon discovered that the hotel parking lot was now filled with several inches of water. There was no longer a way to walk around it, so I just had to give in and sacrifice my sneakers to the cause (what "the cause" was is kinda hard to say).

    Then, in the next parking lot, there's a little room for jumping, so I hop around, with my umbrella bravely fighting an unwinnable battle and mostly obscuring my vision. I avoid one giant puddle and then another, and I think I'm pretty much safely out of the parking lot with one more well-placed jump.

    And that's when I leap face-first into a giant sign.

    It hurt.

    But, somehow, it seemed an appropriate way to wrap things up.


    The Amazing Disgrace, Part II

    The last time I went to scenic Hasbrouck Heights, I really wanted to eat at the Bendix Diner, located a little ways down from Bananas. It's one of those old dining car diners and, from what I understand, a few movies have been filmed there, including "Diner" (starring, of course, Steve "Officer Mahoney" Guttenberg). I didn't have the time last go-round (and the steady rain and swirling wind eliminated most of my adventurousness), but I made a point to leave a little early this time. Coincidentally, Saturday was also a day of steady rain and swirling wind, but when I get my mind and stomach set on something, I'm unstoppable. "Unstoppable," in this case, meaning "moronic."

    So, about 90 minutes before showtime, I walked into the Bendix (only slightly drenched), and a little kid handed me a menu. There was one guy sipping coffee at the counter and another guy waiting for his order at a booth, so it was a pretty intimate gathering. All the better, I thought, because I'll be served quickly and then can just walk on down the highway, which, in this case, is not a metaphorical construct meant to conjure idyllic images of a ramblin' man but an actual statement of fact, as both the diner and Bananas are on Route 17.

    I scoped out the menu, honed in on my standard diner choice (pot roast), and waited for the waitress, a Greek woman of a certain age who was currently taking a delivery order over the phone. As I waited, I noticed that there was another guy walking around behind the counter in a black T-shirt that read "Blindingly Sexy." After seeing the shirt, I didn't pay much more attention to him, because I figured that if I did look at a man who would wear a shirt that said "Blindingly Sexy" on it, I would probably just end up laughing in his face. Luckily, he was pacing back and forth on the phone a lot of the time, so he seemed just as uninterested in looking at me.

    The waitress finished taking the order and started to put it together, getting the rice pudding out, starting up the coffee, picking out a box to put everything in. At this point, I began to wonder if she would ever take my order. About 15 minutes had passed since I came in and she had barely acknowledged me. In fact, the kid who gave me the menu seemed to be the only person cognizant of my existence. And he was busy with his Matchbox car.

    Not wanting to cause a scene (a personal motto...James Sigman: Not Wanting to Cause a Scene Since 1976), I rationalized that maybe she was just one of those people who can only do one thing at a time. So, when the takeout order was done, it would be Me Time. No problem. I'm in no rush to get a front-row seat at the Michael Winslow show anyway. I learned my lesson last time: if you're going to go to a comedy club alone on a Saturday night, sit in the back, loser.

    Then the "Blindingly Sexy" guy comes out of the kitchen and the waitress says something to him in Greek. He says something back and begins to walk in my general direction. But then he stops two tables away from me and asks, "What can I get for you?" And that would've made sense, except there was no one sitting there.

    Then, the waitress says, "No, no, two more down."

    And it is at this point, as the "Blindingly Sexy" guy approaches my table that I realize a very important detail about this man.

    He is actually blind.

    The shirt makes more sense now.

    After this new information sinks in, I order my pot roast, chicken noodle soup, and glass of water. I know I'm not supposed to treat the guy any different than I would anyone else, so I'm silently convincing myself that, really, this is no big deal. Why shouldn't blind people be waiting on tables? Really, how important is sight when you're serving food? And what's the big deal about sight anyway?

    But then the guy at the other table pays for his food at the counter and tells Blindingly Sexy, "OK, I'm giving you a $20."

    I hadn't even thought of the exchange of money. What if he gives me the wrong change? Do I point it out? Do I just let it slide? Oh man, I don't want to cause a scene...

    Then Blindingly Sexy makes his way out from behind the counter with my glass of water. And I begin panicking again. Is it rude to take it from him? He seems to know his way around the diner, so maybe he'll just know where the table is and put it down. But maybe he won't. And what then?

    I decide to just let him bring the water over to the table and if it seems like his aim's off, I'll take the glass. That plan works well. Then it's time for the soup. This time, I decide to just take the bowl. I'm not taking chances with any hot liquids (another personal motto).

    While the pot roast is cooking, Blindingly Sexy gets engrossed in other things, and the waitress winds up bringing out my dinner. I am at once comforted and disappointed, because I was almost acting like a human being around the guy by now. And I really wanted to be a human being, to show that I didn't care that the guy serving me my food happened to be blind, that it was just another day, another diner.

    But all that went out the window after I finished my pot roast (which was only so-so), as I made a conscious effort to pay the waitress because I wasn't sure I could handle the whole money exchange thing.

    So close...

    NEXT: The main event

    In case you pay attention to what I write...

    ...and thought you might take in a Waco Brothers show this week, the tour's been cancelled due to a family medical emergency. Bummer.

    If you're still itching to stay up past your bedtime on Wednesday, why not check out Mary McBride at the Rodeo Bar? She's good. Show's at 10, no cover. I don't know if I'll make it (I'm sleepy and I don't know if I can handle the Rodeo Bar three times in a week), but you should.


    The Amazing Disgrace, Part I

    If there is ever a version of "The Amazing Race" where the goal is to get the most Polaroid pictures with quasi-celebrities of the 1980s and early 1990s, then I do believe you are reading the writings of that show's inevitable winner.

    (Of course, if such a show were made, the word "amazing" would clearly need to be removed from the show's title, but let's not argue over semantics, OK?)

    My never-ending quest to meet every single person who entertained me at the age of 12 brought me back to Bananas Comedy Club in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ, last Saturday. This club, as devoted Sigmaniacs will no doubt recall, was the site of Return to Screech earlier this year, where I paid far too much money and got far too soaked with rain to see and have a picture taken with Dustin "Screech" Diamond of "Saved by the Bell" fame. For the second time in my life. After investing two days on the first attempt (which is, of course, recounted in "Critical, But Stable," still readily purchasable by the link on this page. Buy it now before the bandwagon overcrowds).

    But this time was devoted to a performer who predated Screech in the adoring eyes of the young James Sigman. Yessir, thanks to a timely reading of Steppin' Out magazine, I discovered that Michael Winslow, a/k/a that guy in the "Police Academy" movies, would be making an appearance at Bananas, the best comedy club in a hotel on a highway in New Jersey that I've ever been to.

    Oh, the hours I spent watching the Police Academy films--the first three on video and four through six in the theater (I do not acknowledge the existence of the direct-to-video seventh installment, "Mission to Moscow"). And though I surely had a fondness for Tim "Sweetchuck" Kazurinsky and his nemesis-turned-friend Bobcat "Zed" Goldthwait, it was Michael Winslow, Officer Larvell Jones, who captured my fancy the most. Guttenberg got all the glory, but the discriminating Police Academy connoisseur knows that Winslow was the king. Who can forget that moment in "Police Academy 2: The First Assignment" when he imitated Lou the Dog's barking, frightening Lieutenant Mauser, whose hands had just been super-glued to his head in the shower, into stepping out of the locker room, naked. What's that you say? You can forget? I have my doubts.

    Anyway, look, I liked the majority of the "Police Academy" movies, and in my crazy world, that was reason enough to head out to Hasbrouck Heights in the middle of a steady rain (which gradually developed into a massive downpour) to see Michael Winslow do his thing. And if that makes me less of a person than you (and I'm almost certain it does), then that's OK with me.

    Or at least that's what I choose to tell myself.

    NEXT: A diner experience that's out of sight.


    Get Out: The Brothers Edition

    As I was pondering my concert schedule for the next few weeks, I noticed a theme. So, always happy to discover that precious "news peg" (thank you, Roy H. Park School of Communications) on which to hang a story, I present a special Brothers edition of Get Out.

    Wed. 10/5 and Thu. 10/6--Charlie Louvin, Rodeo Bar, NYC, 10 p.m., FREE

    A few years ago (or maybe it was last year...my sense of time is poor and my book o' ticket stubs is not at my disposal at the moment), I found myself in the Roseland Ballroom, full of just about as much anticipation as I'd ever felt before a concert. Charlie Louvin, half of the Louvin Brothers, possibly the greatest country music duo of all time, was about to play an opening set on the Unlimited Sunshine tour (a tour headlined and curated by Cake, a band I actively dislike but who at least have good taste in music). The guy standing next to me asked me if I was there to see Cake or Cheap Trick. I told him neither. I was there to see Charlie Louvin. He looked at me as if I would have been better off in a mental hospital. It is a look I am very accustomed to, as you might have guessed.

    Anyway, I explained who Charlie Louvin was, rattling off the people who have been influenced by the Louvins and trying to pound it into this guy's skull that the guy whose last name he couldn't pronounce was probably one of the more important people in country music history. "More important than Johnny Cash?" he asked. I thought about it. "Well, yeah, I think so." The guy stopped talking to me soon after, as he was now convinced that I was indeed insane. To him, no one could be more important than Johnny Cash, who I am confident was one of the two country guys he knew, with Willie Nelson being the other.

    But screw it, I do think Charlie Louvin is at least just as important as Johnny (at least within country music itself). And the fact that he's playing two free shows at a small bar with a stuffed buffalo head on the stage is phenomenal. So this is a big deal, which is why I'll be there both nights. You oughta be, too.

    Wed. 10/12--The Waco Brothers Bloodshot Records Revue w/ Sally Timms, Jon Langford, and Dollar Store, Maxwell's, Hoboken, NJ, 9 p.m., $12 (also at Southpaw, Brooklyn, NY on 10/14)

    The Bloodshot CMJ BBQ was really kinda lame this year without the Wacos. There's something about watching Jon Langford's (see photo, he's on the left) drunkenness slowly progress over the course of seven hours that is quite exciting. Luckily, the Waco express is pulling into town with partner in crime Sally Timms, Waco guitarist Deano's side project Dollar Store, and a solo set from Langford. A Waco Brothers show by itself is usually a pedal-to-the-metal, careening, glorious wreck of a thing full of jokes, self-mockery, copious amounts of rocking, and lots of abuse of Marc Durante, the Wacos' pedal steel player (on the right in the photo). Throw in Timms and Dollar Store and, well, I can't wait until next Wednesday (though Thursday morning, maybe not so much).

    Thu. 10/13--The Avett Brothers, Mexicali Blues, Teaneck, NJ, 10 p.m., $10

    You're likely getting bored with the Avett hyperbole, so I'll just say that this show, if it's anything like the last Mexicali show, will kick ass. And the Tinsel and Rot money-back guarantee is back in effect. Go to the show, and if you hate it, it's free. But you won't hate it. So come on down and watch Scott Avett sweat through his pants, one of my mom's favorite parts of the last show. She's hooked now; you're next.

    Fri. 10/21 and Sat. 10/22--Marah/The Drams, Maxwell's, Hoboken, NJ, 9:30 p.m., $10 (Fri.); Southpaw, Brooklyn, NY, 8 p.m., $12 (Sat.)

    I'm gearing up for a long Marah post leading up to the release of their new CD, "If You Didn't Laugh, You'd Cry," on October 18. And I'll be pimping these shows further at that juncture. But since this is the Brothers edition and Dave and Serge Bielanko are the brothers who drive Marah, it seems appropriate to beat the drum a little early. I have seen Marah somewhere between 30 and 40 times. I've been underwhelmed and/or disappointed maybe twice. So the odds are looking pretty solid for this being a good time. And the opening band, The Drams, is most of the band formerly known as Slobberbone, who used to put on a pretty good live show themselves. Really, you'd be crazy not to go

    There is nothing quite like a Marah show on a Friday or Saturday night, so do whatever you have to do to get to one or both of these shows. And I now officially extend the Marahctober Tinsel and Rot Money-Back Guarantee to these two shows.

  • Charlie Louvin

  • Rodeo Bar

  • Waco Brothers

  • Dollar Store

  • Sally Timms

  • Maxwell's

  • The Avett Brothers

  • Mexicali Blues

  • Marah

  • The Drams

  • Southpaw
  • Game on

    Today is a joyous day, for it is officially hockey season.

    That is all that needs to be said. Well, that, and the Stanley Cup looks more animated than I do in the picture above. And better groomed.



    I've added a new and exciting feature to Tinsel and Rot, right underneath the Links section on your left. It's called "Now Playing" and it'll be a rotating list of links to new CDs and/or CDs I just got. I'll do my best to make sure the links have mp3 samples or something so you can check out the music for yourself. Like Levar Burton says on "Reading Rainbow," "you don't have to take my word for it." At least I think that's what he says. Believe it or not, it's been awhile since I watched "Reading Rainbow."

    OK then. Carry on.


    It's been a long, hot summer

    So, I think now that it's October, it's officially time to wave goodbye to a long, hot, ridiculous summer. Somehow, I made it through without an air conditioner, which would be noble if the air conditioning industry was controlled by Nazis or something. But, since it isn't, we'll just chalk that up to stubbornness and stupidity, two things rarely in short supply at my own personal Disgraceland.

    In any case, even though this may have been my all-time least favorite summer, perhaps I should focus on the good things about this past summer. Or at least try. So here's ten good things about the summer of 2005:

    1. The Avett Brothers at Joe's Pub (NYC), Rittenhouse Square Park (Philly, PA), and Mexicali Blues (Teaneck, NJ)
    2. Willie Aames losing his shit on "Celebrity Fit Club 2"
    3. Taking a picture with Corey Feldman at 10 p.m. in which he was wearing his sunglasses
    4. "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" (the movie, not an actual one) and the conversation with a senior citizen on line to buy a ticket for said movie
    5. R. Kelly and the most confusing five minutes in MTV history
    6. Jimmy Sturr and the Jimmy Sturr Orchestra (Binghamton, NY, Spiedie Fest 2005) and the 20-minute film, "Everett Goes Sturr Crazy," inspired by the show
    7. Elvis Costello and Emmylou Harris singing "Gathering Flowers for the Master's Bouquet" (Central Park, NYC)
    8. Cooperstown, NY, and the Baseball Hall of Fame's Grandstand Theater
    9. Scott Miller and the Commonwealth (Iota, Arlington, VA)
    10. Meeting "Freaks and Geeks" creator Paul Feig

    There's a few others, but I'll stop there.

    Now, bring on the fall. Quick, before it starts snowing again.