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Archive for November, 2009

Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove 

Last Saturday night, I strolled on down to the Sherman Theater in Stroudsburg to see one of my favorite bluegrass jam bands play. Railroad Earth, of Stillwater, New Jersey, has been playing and perfecting their sound for years around the area, as well as across the country.
 

All the boys of Railroad Earth minus Mike Carbone. Photo by Kate Langenburg.

The band opened with a stellar, upbeat “Drag Him Down” but then backed off the high uppity bass and focused on some slower songs, particularly “For Love.” I can appreciate the vibe they were trying to set, but it kind of ruined the mood a little. People were psyched up to see the show. RRE started with an upbeat song, then played slow songs for almost the entire rest of set one. It was definitely a tease.However, at the end of set one, the band went into a bumpin’ version of “Head” which always gets a crowd going. As Todd Schaeffers vocals screeched out, the audience sang back to him and threw up their hands each time he repeated the call. Thank the bluegrass gods for making them play this song. I think it was the highlight of the concert.

 

 After intermission, they came back with more chill vibes. Not to say I was disappointed by this, but I was just ready to dance, that’s all. It’s kind of hard to dance to music without a strong, up beat. Here’s the complete set list:
 
 Set 1: Drag Him Down>For Love>Seven Story Mountain>Old Man and the Land>The Hunting Song>Shockenawe Mountain Breakdown>Head
 
Set 2: Where Songs Begin>Walk Beside Me>Luxury Liner>Jerusalem Ridge>RV>Warhead Boogie>New Jam (SHJ)>Moonshiner
 
Encore: Genesis>Bringin’ My Baby Back Home
 
The lights were awesome — Every time I go to the Sherman Theater, their light shows get more and more advanced. Different hues of reds, blues, and yellows washed over the audience as they bopped up and down to the music. At times, the lights seemed to take on a mind of their own, zipping back and forth from the stage to the audience.
 
The only other thing I will have to mention is something I usually have no complaints about at the Sherman: the sound. While most of the instruments sounded in tune and jacked up to the right volume, I felt that the bass was way too overblown. Walking up to the side of the stage, the speakers literally produced wind everytime the bass was plucked. The result was a muddled effect, of which I was unhappy with.
 
This was the second show in a row that Railroad Earth played at the Sherman Theater. They usually play two nights every year around Thanksgiving. Not that I didn’t like the show, but I think next time they should focus on their boppin’ bluegrass beats a little more. I will leave you with some good clips I got:
 
 
 
And if you’re feeling frisky, you can read about the time I interviewed Railroad Earth’s lead singer Todd Schaeffer. Click here.
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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

Welp, just knocked off another book this morning. Of course, this one is by Hermann Hesse, one of the best writers in literature. The Journey to the East was another one of those books that didn’t leave me disappointed.

It all starts with the main character, H.H., who is a part of the League, a group of known and unknown musicians, writers, artists, and whathaveyous. They are making a journey to the east on foot so that each of them can somehow achieve one life goal. H, while on his quest, decides that he will document the story of their travels without giving away any of the League’s innermost secrets.

During their travels together, they all meet a servant named Leo, who H is taken with right away. He feels there is something more to this character other than just his servant appearance. One day Leo goes missing and H gets so distraught he abandons the journey to the east under the assumption that all others in League have also done so.

The rest of his life is spent trying to write his book about the League and he never gets anywhere with his writing. After some time, he learns of where Leo lives and goes to visit him. It turns out to be a disappointment for him because Leo doesn’t recognize him. However, the next day, Leo visits H at his house and summons him on a trek to the League.

The end of the book is most poignant — Leo turns out to the President of the League, not a servant, and H is brought to trial before them for leaving. H is happy by this news, as it means the League is still in membership and they invite him back in, even though they consider him an abandoner. The rest of the book deals with H’s own self discovery as a person so he can finally be at peace.

This book has a lot of valuable self realization messages in it: Don’t judge a book by its cover. The road to self discovery may not always be the path you expect. Take a minute to open your eyes and be aware of things around you. Your way may not be the only way.

And if you read and enjoy this book, you will love his most famous novel Siddhartha.

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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

It’s finally happened to me after all these years. That’s right, I finally went to my very first Phish show ever! Let’s just say this — I went on Tuesday night. It is now Friday and I can’t stop daydreaming about it, listening to my live Phish albums, and wanting to go back for more. This band has had a lot of time to perfect their shows…and they certainly have.

After releasing their first album in 1986 and touring for nearly twenty years, the band went on a haitus, a break that was much needed for certain members who had started overdoing the drugs (I won’t mention names here.) Nonetheless, that time gave them all a time out and a chance to think about what they wanted for the future of their music. Now they’re back, armed with a slick light show and some seriously funky beats.

Photo by Kate Langenburg

The crowd in the Wachovia Center Tuesday night was ridiulously large. I never knew venues of that size existed until now. (I also never would have guessed I would end up with a club box seat complete with my own private bar, bathroom, and sitting area.) Everyone in the entire place seemed to be grooving simultaneously, with smiles and good vibes permeating the walls of the arena.

Here’s the setlist from the November 24 Philadelphia show:  

Set 1: Chalk Dust Torture>Bathtub Gin>Cities>Camel Walk>The Curtain With>The Wedge>The Moma Dance>Reba>Golgi Apparatus>Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan

Set 2: Possum>Down With Disease>Twenty Years Later>Harry Hood>The Mango Song>Mike’s Song>Simple>Slave to the Traffic Light>Weekapaug Groove

Encore: A Day in the Life

From the very first note of Chalkdust, I knew I was in for something great. When they went into a real funky Moma Dance, I was in heaven. Everyone was singing along with Reba one minute then, jamming out to Possum, then going into a free fall whirlwind of musical pleasure when they heard A Day in the Life.

Phish’s sound has certainly gotten stronger over the years, and I don’t see this band disappearing any time soon. They are loved by too many fans, have too much talent, and have the drive to keep on keepin’ on. I don’t even know which song was my favorite…they were all wonderful, amazing, beautiful, great. Check out my videos from the show by clicking on the song names below:

The Moma Dance

Simple

Weekapaug Groove

A Day in the Life (Encore)

If anyone I work with happens to read this post, I’m sorry, but I just might have to quit my job and go on tour with Phish. 🙂

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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

Yes, it’s yet another blog post about a book I’ve recently read. This one I enjoyed thoroughly, mainly because the main character was such a nut.

Goodnight, Steve McQueen by Louise Wener is a novel about trying too hard, or in some cases, not enough. It all begins with England native Steve McQueen, who likes to be called Danny. He lives in an apartment with his girlfriend Alison and things don’t seem to be going so well for their relationship. Then she gets a temporary job hours away…and decides that he needs to grow up or get out.

See, Danny is 29 years old, jobless, and has been living in the daydream that he’ll somehow strike it big with his band. Alison pays for everything. Things start to look up for Danny when his band is allowed to go on tour with a well-known rock group. But he also suspects Alison might be cheating on him.

This book is a bit like High Fidelity by Nick Hornby, but way better. Especially because I wasn’t thinking about John Cusak while I was reading it. I REALLY liked Danny — his idiosyncracies make him loveable, even though sometimes you want to see him get pushed under a bus. He’s nervous, he’s anxious, he’s worried, he always says and does the wrong things, but he’s enjoyable. It’s interesting that this was written by a woman. The male point of view is excellent here.

The story is also filled with other great characters like Kostas, the owner of the video shop Danny works at. And also Sheila, an old lady with an obsession for bloody kung fu movies. Even the other members of Danny’s band are all great in their own ways.

It’s a nice easy read if you don’t want anything too complex. Just kick back and enjoy this “brit lit.”

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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

Apparently, an extremely rare first edition copy of “On the Origin of Species,” Charles Darwin’s most famous work detailing the theory of natural selection, was found yesterday…on top of a toilet.

According to the Associated Press, the book had been printed in 1859. It was discovered in a family’s guest bathroom in Southern England. I’m sure its pages were pretty worn from all that good ol’ bathroom reading. How in the world could you hold on to that book and not have it in a secure location? There were actually only 1250 copies of the first edition ever printed.

So what to do with this Darwinian bathroom reader? Sell it, of course! The book will be auctioned off, most likely for around $99,000.

How many things in your bathroom are that valuable?

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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

My own excitement overwhelms me…Furthur has just released their winter tour dates!

Okay, so who the f is Further? Remember the Grateful Dead? Yeah, it’s some of those guys — guitarist Bob Weir and bassist Phil Lesh to be specific. But it’s also John Kadlecik, the guitarist who plays Jerry in Dark Star Orchestra, the number one Grateful Dead cover band. And then there’s Joe Russo, Jay Lane, and Jeff Chimenti, too!

It seems that for their first ride around the country, they’ve decided to hit a lot of large venues…Radio City Music Hall to name one. But not only that, they’ve also booked college campuses, too. I think they’ve figured out where their audiences are! They’re going to colleges like Lehigh University, the University of Delaware, Cornell University, and the University of Massachusetts. Joy!

Well, rather than me just ramble on about how great this all is, let me give you the link to the tour dates page so you can see for yourself: FURTHUR TOUR DATES.

Okay, so what’s going to happen to DSO when John Kadlecik leaves them? According to the band’s website, they will press on. Having gone through quite a few members in the past years, this band has the oomph to keep on going. But good luck finding another “Jerry Garcia” quite as good as Kadlecik.

It’s all for the best, really. Furthur comprises some of the most talented jam musicians in the country. This band is sure to be a hit with Dead fans and jam band fans alike. They will play Grateful Dead songs, of course, but will also venture away into their own material, too. I’m ready for them to take me FURTHUR!

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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

You know, even though I’m not an avid Oprah Winfrey Show lover, I have to say that it’s a real shame the show is ending in a few months. The star announced her departure from her afternoon television slot on November 19. I mean, it’s something that I watched on and off here and there (mostly with female family members), but also something that I’m sure many people see as a staple of American television.

See ya!

It seems like whatever Oprah has said over all these years, certainly goes. She has, in a certain way, led a great part of American culture. Think about all the books you’ve ever read with an Oprah book club seal of approval on the front cover. Whoever she endorses is sure to be a celebrity. She’s shown us that she’s up with the times and has had a sympathetic voice for those in need. People like her.

The sad thing is thinking about all those people who will miss having her in their living rooms on weekday afternoons. I’m thinking mostly about all those old ladies who have had her show as a staple of each and every day…or about working moms who just get home from work, kick off their shoes, and see what Oprah has to say about life. Just a few examples.

However, I’m sure that even though the show is disappearing, Oprah won’t. She is a strong voice in this country, and will still make that voice known. What will she do next?

 

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