Music, music, music

*Sunday night affords you a fine opportunity to see two great bands in two different venues on the Lower East Side:

Amy LaVere, Mercury Lounge, NYC, "9 p.m.," $10
I put 9 p.m. in quotes, because that's the time on the Mercury Lounge's website. But they lie. So it'll probably be about 9:30 or 10. But getting there by 9 is a safe bet (plus it wouldn't kill you to see the opening acts. Or maybe it will. I've never seen them, so I can't say). But MTV star Amy LaVere and her band are good, and they're driving all the way from Memphis to entertain you. So let them. And then go around the corner to...

Maybe Pete, Rockwood Music Hall, NYC, 11 p.m.
They're my friends, but you shouldn't see them because they're my friends (I have many friends whom I love but would probably put on a terrible show). You should see them because they're good. And because Monday's gonna suck anyway, so why not make the weekend last as long as you can? Sleepwalk through Monday. No one will notice. Or do like I do and just take Monday off.

And, hey, if you don't want to do all that running around, just go to the Maybe Pete show and then go see Amy LaVere Monday night at Maxwell's in Hoboken (best guess for approximate time for Amy's set: 9:30). Or go to all three shows. It'll be fun.

Tinsel and Rot money-back guarantee on all those shows (I'll buy you a drink at Rockwood, since there's no cover). You hate it, I'll give you your money back.

And if you're too lame to go to the shows, you can always buy Amy LaVere's new EP, "Died of Love." (new Maybe Pete EP in the works).

*Another fine bunch of folks make up the group Daddy. The two main guys are Will Kimbrough and Tommy Womack, both great musicians and all-around swell people. Daddy is about to release its second album, and until June 2, you can preorder a copy (the disc officially arrives on, naturally, Father's Day) at your own price. Or you can get yourself any number of special deals, ranging from $20 (signed CD and magnet) to $5,000 (50 autographed CDs and a private concert). But the most entertaining deal involves a leaf blower. Let Will and Tommy tell you:

*Finally, for no real reason (other than it amuses me), here's a clip of Bob Dylan and band performing Roy Head's "Treat Her Right" at a Letterman rehearsal in the 80s (h/t to Expecting Rain). It'd be better if Dylan did the "hey hey hey hey"s (or had some of Roy's moves...though the hair pat is a nice touch), but you can't have everything in life.

Five Years Ago

On May 28, 2004, two newlyweds and I were just outside of Nashville, a few hours removed from Ralph Stanley's annual Memorial Day Weekend festival at the Hills of Home Park in Coeburn, VA, when we stopped at a gas station and encountered, well, a really odd dude. One of those newlyweds summarized the encounter in both the pages of Oneonta's Daily Star and, in the days before this here blog existed, on the criticalbutstable Yahoo! group in a livelier (i.e., with curse words) version.

Since I was thinking about the trip the other day, and because this is my blog and I'll do what I want to (and, hey, it's probably new to you), I thought I'd repost the livelier version, with my original comments included. Enjoy.

A trip really isn't a trip until you find yourself in a situation where it seems highly likely you will be murdered.

Whether it's been walking along Route 1 in New Jersey for 6 miles, having a can thrown at my head as I walked back to my Nashville hotel (first trip...and still I went back), or gripping my seat as a Charlotte cab driver guided me through the desolate backstreets of his fair city, I've always had a knack for winding up in precarious situations that are only funny in retrospect or if they're in a 1980s movie starring Chevy Chase.

Fortunately, I am usually the only person whose life is at risk in these predicaments as I travel alone, half out of desire and half out of a realization that I'm a strange man with strange travel destinations. Alas, there were other people involved in this trip to Nashville. And they were a perfectly lovely married couple (well, OK, maybe "lovely" isn't quite the right word for Bryan, but it'll do), unaccustomed to the kinds of encounters I have had in my travels. Poor things.

I'll let Bryan set the scene in the following uncensored, slightly shortened version of his recent Daily Star column. I'll chime in when appropriate:


Tennessee welcomed us that morning with banks of fog tucked inside the seams of rain showers. The sky was low--we broke through in the mountains of western Virginia--and it held the light close to the ground. It was a morning frozen for photographers; a green and stone amphitheater with walls climbing into the clouds. Perfect light, but hard on the eyes.

Speaking of hard: I fell half-asleep in Virginia the day before--we were traveling in a Jeep with a stiff suspension--and I woke up harder than Chinese algebra. I tucked it under my left leg and broke that fucker. I did not enjoy that moment.

Hey, it's James here. I feel it necessary to inform future traveling companions of Bryan Chambala that if he ever does get tired while driving and starts to act a little erratic, don't let on that you know. He will just deny everything. Just think hard for a good reason to stop. Maybe you have to go to the bathroom. (NOTE: This will not work if you are his wife, especially if you are traveling in a part of suburban Ohio that he deems "no good.") Or maybe you need to throw up (bring some ipecac to induce vomiting). But just don't tell him he looks tired. This will only enrage the beast. And that helps no one. OK, back to the story.

The mood was high after spending the previous night sitting on a blanket listening to bluegrass music on Clinch Mountain; home to Ralph Stanley and a road so steep and hooked I drove most of the way squinting through the passenger-side window to follow its ascending path. We ate pork sandwiches that night, and found ourselves lacking for words when Stanley's mountain people engaged us in genuine conversation. We slept well, later in the hotel, with the high sounds of the music fading in harmony and silence with the air conditioner.

I would have slept better, though, if the mutt at the front desk hadn't screwed us sideways on the room price. She told us "rooms are $49." Then, she said, the only available room is a suite with a jacuzzi, which she'll give us for $59. Then we requested a cot for Little Jimmy [NOTE: That's me. It's a nickname inspired by Little Jimmy Dickens. Screw you if you don't know who that is]. Woman at the desk says: "Ok, the cot costs $10, so what I'll do is give you the room at price and not charge you for the cot. That'll be $79."

You do the math.

I heard bluegrass in my head in the morning. The banjos and mandolins faded into steel and sawdust shuffle as we rolled closer to Nashville. We talked and kept ourselves awake with word games and candy. I smoked a clove cigarette and snapped my head into line with the highway. Soon, the little white elephants appeared by the side of the road, and Kelly knew, "you are done driving." Bitch. I was fine. A few more gummy bears and I could have driven us to Colorado, stopping only to pee.

The BP was closest. And conveniently, the shittiest.

I stood outside, waiting for her, joined by our traveling companion, the country music writer Little Jimmy Sigman.

Trucks blew past, and dust rose from the blacktop and hung in the air. It was unnatural wind, swirling and low and quiet. She was inside dawdling the fuck around, and we waited with little to say, tired.

A man stepped from the passenger side of a red car, jack-knifed his legs--intoxicated--and swung low to regain balance. He paused with knees bent, half-squatting, and flexed a bare chest spasmodically with arms straightened at his sides and veins running close to the skin. He turned in our direction and screamed. Screamed. "Fuckers!" he said. And some other shit along the lines of "Hey Fuckers!," and "Motherfuckers!," and "Motherfuck!," and "Shit!," and "Cunt!," and "Hi! How are you?"

James again. This is not hyperbole on the part of Mr. Chambala. Nor is it an excuse for him to just throw around vulgarities. It's all true. The dude was legitimately crazy. Even the guy traveling with him knew that. There were a couple of times during the "conversation" that he pointed to his buddy, who was busy attending to the car. Each time, the guy gave a look that said, "Look, I know he's deranged. But what can you do? Please let him be your problem for a minute so I can take a break." It is a look I am familiar with, having occasionally been the sober Abbott to Mr. Chambala's drunken Costello. And now back to Mr. Costel, er. Chambala.

The thoughts (white trash, drug-addled hillbilly, child rapist, child rapee) were very bare and came quick.

It looked as if he had been digging at his arm with fingernails, or a small knife. He was small, in constant movement, and smiling with unfocused eyes. Our conversation was banal, enough that my mouth operated with no guidance. My mind was at work.

He was disfigured, horribly, but not by accident. Across his chest, onto his shoulders and down to his wrists, he was marked with scars. They varied in breadth and length, but were in some cases 4 or 5 inches long, half-an-inch wide. It would have taken a knife--worked hard and twisted under the skin--or an iron. Or something else, unthinkable. Really. This was fucking disgusting. He looked like he'd been passed through a wood chipper running low on gas. I should have killed him.

Again, all true. I was reminded of the years when wrestler Terry Funk used to sear his opponents with a branding iron after winning a match. Of course, that was professional wrestling. This wasn't. It also wasn't 1987, I wasn't 10, and I wasn't fighting off sleep so I could watch the end of "Saturday Night's Main Event" on NBC. Plus, as far as I could see, Terry Funk wasn't around.

He showed me a wallet and a picture. Money fell out, a stranger's driver's license, and a story about a girl in downtown Nashville. He had scratched a man's face out of the picture. The girl looked like a whore, but, you know, the college kind. I laid a hand on keys in my pocket. Slowly, I slipped each between clenched fingers and watched. She was still inside and now his attention was drawn by a teenage girl filling her car's tank. Not bad either. He offered himself to the girl, and she lowered her head. James, who had spun away and let me--the talker--try to ease this thing away from our party, stepped closer and watched.

That's an overly generous way of assessing what I was doing. In situations where I am confronted by a dangerous gentleman, and there is another gentleman around to take care of the situation, I like to linger around, maybe whistle a little tune, without establishing too much of a presence. In the world of confrontation, the technical term for this is "being a big pussy." I am comfortable with that term. Back to the action...

It was a drug, I knew. He would smile and try to kiss me, or we would discover what it is for a tired man to attack the chemical with his hands, and keys, in the parking lot of a gas station outside Nashville.

Kelly pushed open the steel door and he turned and his mouth opened and she looked up.

There we were.

I put my hand on the man's chest, and his skin felt soft. (Well, now you know.) I can't remember the sound, and I can't remember being able to see. I just remember how the skin felt as if it would wilt in the rain like a tissue.

I said, "She is my wife." That was all. I didn't say: "And she gets pissed at me every time I'm 'home late,' even if that means 30 minutes late after driving to Ithaca to buy something--a gift for her--which I couldn't find even though I looked in every goddamn store in that godforsaken city."

He smiled and looked at me. "She's beautiful."

And we walked away.



How To Make The Most of a Long Weekend

1. Take a trip to see a band on Friday night.

2. Buy some records Saturday afternoon.

3. Later Saturday afternoon, go to a birthday BBQ--with burgers, hot dogs, dozens of side dishes, and tons of desserts--for one of your favorite musicians of all time and hang out with his dogs. Bring your friends (and have one of them drive you around all weekend...thanks, Johnny). Take your mom, too, because she deserves a good time.

4. After the BBQ, celebrate the birthday of one of your favorite musicians of all time by watching him play for almost three hours in the studio that's attached to his house. Spend the first half-hour or so looking directly over one of the greatest rock drummers ever.

(No photos allowed inside, so just imagine.)

5. Get up early Sunday morning to eat the best pancakes you'll ever have.

6. After breakfast, go buy some more records.

7. Finish your leftover pancakes for dinner.

8. Don't do much of anything on Monday. Just post pictures on the Internet and write some blog entries. And think about how cool your life is sometimes.



A birthday Ramble
With a barbecue prior
Still as fun as ever

Levon Helm Band
/Matt Sucich and the Vanderettes, Levon Helm Studios, Woodstock, NY, 5/23/09


There was lots of room
So the dancers filled it up
As the horns called out

Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Bearsville Theater, Bearsville, NY, 5/22/09


Revku XXXV

It was his birthday
The party started early
Oh boy, was he drunk

Scott Miller/Cady Wire, The Living Room, NYC, 5/20/09


The Road to the White House (and Other Streets in the D.C. Area)

When Scott Miller announced another tour on the Amtrak Crescent route (which runs from New Orleans to New York), it seemed like a good idea to check in with a friend (and, through my badgering, a fellow Miller fan) to see if he wanted to hit the Miller show at the Iota in Arlington. And he did (another friend in Delaware begged off because one of his brothers was celebrating his 30th birthday that day...I guess water isn't thicker than blood). Then, a week before the show, I thought to check the Washington Nationals site to see if they were in town that weekend. And they were.

Thus, a weekend trip was born.


I had planned to get an 8 a.m. bus from the Port Authority, and I did in fact make it there on time, but the line was long and I figured I'd just wait for the 8:30 or 9, whichever I made it back in time for after picking up breakfast. When I got to one of the few empty seats on the 8:30, one with the least amount of leg room on the bus, I rethought the wisdom of my decision. That is, until we were just outside of Baltimore and I saw a Peter Pan bus broken down on the side of the highway, with the passengers all congregated on the shoulder waiting for another bus to pick them up. Now, I can't be sure that was the 8 a.m. bus, but, at the moment, I chose to believe it was and thus mentally patted myself on the back (though I could have physically patted myself on the back, because, really, such behavior on a Greyhound bus wouldn't have aroused much suspicion).

I made it into D.C. with less time than I'd hoped, because the 8:30 stopped in Silver Spring, where we stayed for about a half-hour because we were, according to the driver, "ahead of schedule." But the only city left on the schedule was Washington, and since no one in their right mind would take a Greyhound the 20 minutes it takes to get from Silver Spring to Washington, our layover was a little confusing. But, and this is a good rule to know for travelers, there's no point in arguing with a Greyhound bus driver. You're not gonna win.

Anyway, I had to meet up with my friends in Alexandria before their daughter's soccer game, so I only had about an hour for sightseeing. Thus, there was only time for a saunter up to the White House, interrupted only by a street fair, a few seconds of picture taking, and a brief flirtation with going to the Newseum, until I saw that it cost $20 to get in, in a city where most of the museums are free. I hope you enjoyed this metaphor for the state of the newspaper industry. Now for some of those photos.

I underestimated the train time to the Franconia/Springfield stop (even though I'd made the trip before) and wound up cutting it a bit close, but I made it in time for the soccer game. I split my time between watching the game and hanging around with my friends' other daughter as she showed me all the things she can do by herself at the playground now that she's a "big girl" (almost 3). She also asked me where the cupcakes were, so apparently I've developed a reputation. Alas, I didn't bring cupcakes this time. She seemed to be OK with that.

Back at the game (Dragons vs. Green Lightning, or at least I think that was their name...I didn't buy a program), I got a nice taste of suburbia, as I watched a Bluetoothed woman (I've yet to meet anyone who wears a Bluetooth who doesn't seem at least a little crazy) frantically ask the other parents, "Who brought the snacks? Where are the snacks? Who was in charge of the snacks?" I was too scared to see how the situation was resolved, but at game's end, there were indeed snacks.

The game was followed by dinner with two more friends who stopped by on their way up north with their son, who now scrunches up his face and begins weeping when he sees me, thus joining a long, storied line of people who have the same reaction upon sight of me. I tried not to take it personally, but if he thinks I'm gonna put up with that and still get him gifts, well, he's probably right, and also very astute for a one-year-old.

Soon it was Miller time at the Iota in Arlington, with Paleface, friend of the Avett Brothers, opening up the show. I hadn't seen Paleface in awhile, and he was just as good as he was the last time I saw him, so that was cool. Scott Miller was also as good as ever, aided and abetted by what I think was five shots of whiskey. The between-song banter got progressively stranger with each shot, but in a good way. He did a bunch of songs off his new CD, "For Crying Out Loud" (go buy it), a healthy smattering of old tunes, and "People Rule," which has a great on YouTube (the "brutish and short" visual being the best part). And, along with his usual mockery of northern Virginia (he's from the southern part of the state), he also included his thoughts on babies, who, he said "eat up money and make your friends disappear" (before his sweet lullaby, "For Jack Tymon"). Plus, it was all professionally filmed by a blog, and the first effort is already up on the Internets. Check it out. And let's all hope you won't be able to see me in the background of future clips.

The next day brought our trip to Nationals Park, my first time at the still pretty new stadium. It was pretty nice, with cool, if slightly odd statues of Washington baseball greats greeting you as you walk in the main gate. And, at the time we walked in, the storied presidents (of the Presidents' Race that takes place at every Nats home game...see Sunday's here) were mingling with the crowd, too.

The game itself (against the Phillies) wasn't anything to write home about. The first inning seemed to take about five hours (and, though it was slightly less than that, the sluggish start assured that we would have to bail early, because my friend had the year-end party with the soccer team to attend), and there wasn't really too much great baseball on display. But aside from that (and the preponderance of Phillies fans who made the trip), it was a good day at the ballpark.

Actually, another rough moment took place at The Pit, where you can get pit beef or pit turkey. I was excited to find no line when I got there, save for two women. Unfortunately, the second woman, the one directly in front of me, didn't belong in a ballpark.

"Yes, I'd like one turkey sandwich with everything and one roast beef very rare."

"Well, ma'am, this is all we have right now" [points to quarter-full tray with beef that's not so rare, but which had just been sliced in front of us]

"Oh, well that doesn't look very good. That just looks like ends."

"No, it's not. We just cut this."

"No, no. I want it rare. That's not rare."

[Cut to me, attempting to remove the many moles from her neck by staring right through them]

"Well, we don't really have anything rare right now."

She sighs. "Well, I just think if I'm gonna pay $11, I should get what I want."

Then, there was much hustling and, to the servers' credit, they bent over backwards to get this woman the rarest meat they could and were nothing but nice to her. I would've squirted the bottle of horseradish aioli in her eyes. And that's why I've ruled out a career in the service industry.

After Crazy Rare Beef Lady left satisfied, I did finally get my order (turkey...it was OK), and then stopped to get a "curly W" pretzel, because I was intrigued. The pretzel itself wasn't anything special, but props must be given for creativity.

We left after the seventh inning, thus missing the Phillies retake the lead on their way to victory. But I wound up with an empty seat next to me on the bus ride home, which was a fine ending to a busy weekend in Washington, D.C.



Streams of whiskey flowed
But he could not be derailed
And the train rolled on

Scott Miller/Paleface, Iota Club and Café, Arlington, VA, 5/16/09


He finished "Sam Stone"
Then sang "In Spite of Ourselves"
That's why he's awesome

John Prine/Justin Townes Earle, Beacon Theatre, NYC, 5/15/09


Giddy Up Oom Papa Oom Papa Mow Mow

When I first saw on the fantastic 9513 blog that the Oak Ridge Boys had covered the White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army," I was expecting a few minutes of solid, from-the-gut laughter. And, the first time through, I was right. But then, perhaps compelled by the spirit of my father (who counted the Oaks as perhaps his favorite country band, rivaled only by the Statler Brothers), I listened again. And now I'm kind of digging it. I might buy the album. If I can find it used. And for under $5.

One lingering Oaks-related complaint: Fellas, when the guy with the beard down to his navel is only the third creepiest looking guy in the group, it's time to reconsider the stylist idea. You're spookin' the horses.


Life Aint Easy

While partaking in the noble and underappreciated profession of copy editing today, I came across a name in an article that I thought had to be a typo. But then I checked it, and it was all too true.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Jew Don Boney Jr..

I'm not sure what's more alarming--that there is a guy in Texas saddled with the name "Jew Don" or that that guy is also the son of a man named Jew Don (though it seems he at least had the good sense to go by J. Don). That couldn't have been an easy childhood. I can only hope he was home schooled.

It's not clear if Jew Don Jr. fathered a son, but if he did, I hope he named him Bill or George...anything but Jew Don.


Poodie Locke and Stephen Bruton RIP

I probably saw Willie Nelson in concert before I liked him. It was either at Hunter Mountain, as part of one of the two Country Music Festivals they used to have each summer (which I was too young to truly appreciate), or at Radio City Music Hall, when my sister got tickets to the Willie Nelson/Asleep at the Wheel/John Anderson show that was part of the "Country Takes Manhattan" festival (also too young to appreciate). It's hard not to like Willie after you've seen him, though I've certainly met people who've actually found it pretty easy. Let us not speak of them.

Anyway, there are many great parts to the Willie show: the Texas flag lowering as the Family kicks into "Whiskey River," the ritual tossing of the bandanna into the crowd, sister Bobbie pounding out "Down Yonder," the Hank Williams medley. But when I first started going to Willie shows as a younger man, I was most intrigued by the postshow autograph signing from the lip of the stage. I can't remember if he did it at Radio City, but I know he did it at one of the Hunter Mountain shows, because I have pictures (and I had Willie sign my "Willie and the Family" album there, the first of roughly two dozen Willie signatures now in my possession). It's best described as barely organized chaos, as people thrust pieces of paper, albums, CDs, and the occasional child at Willie in hopes of obtaining his blessing, which he dispenses willingly. Here's an example from a Hunter Mountain show (note the baby being thrust forward on the left...I wasn't making that up):

And, always, at the side of the stage, keeping a close eye on things was a guy with an impressive beer gut (I can't quite tell if that's him in the white hat in the picture, but if it isn't, that's his body type for sure). He would make sure things didn't get out of hand and pull Willie away when it was time to finally leave the stage. That guy, I later discovered through much Willie-related reading was the awesomely named Poodie Locke, who served as Willie's stage manager and all-around wrangler.

Poodie Locke died last Wednesday from a heart attack at the age of 56. I just saw him at the side of the stage at the New Brunswick show last month. Sad to think he's gone, and to think of both his family and the Family mourning his passing. But as his own motto was "There are no bad days," I'm sure they're carrying on.


The first Willie Nelson studio album (well, cassette) I loved was the Don Was-produced "Across the Borderline," which featured some covers, a few Willie originals, and a bunch of Willie duets. There weren't many cassettes that I almost completely wore out (and, full disclosure, one was the soundtrack to "Cocktail"), but I easily wore down both sides of "Across the Borderline." I still don't think there's a bad song on there, but one of my favorites was Willie's duet with Bonnie Raitt on "Gettin' Over You," one of the finest country heartbreak songs I'd heard at the time, and after a crush gone bad, I'd collected a few at that point. I've collected several more since, and it's still up there. Check it:

Why do I still write?
Why do I still call?
Why do I still think there's hope for us at all?
These are the things I hate but they're the things I do
To get over you

Sunsets make me cry
Old pictures make me grin
But I don't really care to see your face again
These are the things I say, but they're so hard to do
Like gettin' over you

You gotta believe that there's a reason that we surrender up our hearts
But there's a vantage point and it takes some time to find
Where you can see how all the pieces fit as you watch 'em fall apart

Now I don't think it's right
And you don't know what's wrong
My heart keeps asking me just where do we belong
It's not as though my life ain't hard enough to do
Try gettin' over you

You gotta believe that there's a reason...

Now other people say
Stop living in the past
But when there's nothin' left, it's your memory that lasts
It's later than you think but still this isn't through
This gettin' over you

Now it's later than you think and still this isn't through
This gettin' over you

That song was written by Stephen Bruton, a Texas songwriter and frequent Kris Kristofferson collaborator who died Saturday from throat cancer, at the age of 60.

Thanks for the song, Mr. Bruton.

Rest in peace, Texans. You'll be missed.


You're Up, Free Radio

I'm almost sure that no one watches this show, and it seems to be the one show that VH-1 doesn't reair on a loop, but every time I stumble upon "Free Radio," I laugh hard several times in the course of an episode. In that sense, it is easily the new "Prime Time with Jiminy Glick"-- a faux-celebrity-interview show I don't expect I'll find funny but inevitably do. And, as hinted at in my last "What I Liked," the recent interview with Danica McKellar is a clear highlight of my current TV watching, and I'm still laughing at it (and Corey Feldman was in the same episode . . . it's like they're booking the show just for me--plus they recently added the great Gerry Bednob to the cast). I finally found the clip online, so enjoy:

If you don't laugh at "Stick it in my math...hole," please leave here and never come back. And, seriously, watch "Free Radio" if you see it on the VH-1 schedule in between "Daisy of Love" airings (still debating becoming a devoted watcher of that...leaning toward not).



What a special guest!
A new supergroup is formed
It's Doe Canada

John Doe and the Sadies (with special guest Garth Hudson)/Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles, City Winery, NYC, 5/6/09


Revku XXXI

Like friends on your porch
If your friends could really pick
And you had a porch

South Memphis String Band, Joe's Pub, NYC, 5/5/09


Revku XXX

Terry feels so good
He wants you to feel good too
Mission accomplished

Terry Adams Rock and Roll Quartet, Drew's House, Ringwood, NJ, 5/3/09


Revku XXIX

Back from a long tour
To play in the Garden State
They're still Jersey Fresh

Hudson Falcons/The Skels/F-Bombers/Project LV, Court Tavern, New Brunswick, NJ, 5/1/09

What I Liked About April

*Buzzsaw (Haircut) 10th Anniversary Gala
*The "Free Radio" interview with Danica McKellar
*Willie Nelson and Ray Price, State Theatre, New Brunswick, NJ
*Record Store Day

*Pete Seeger, Russell Courtyard at Teachers College, NYC
*Meeting Bob Barker
*My mom getting out of the hospital
*Getting the last five tickets for Levon Helm's Birthday Ramble

*Meeting Mitch Fritz
*"Cake Boss"
*Sometymes Why, Cornelia Street Cafe, NYC
*The willingness of people with cars to drive me places