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WESEWRIMO and Daron’s Guitar Chronicles

August 22, 2013

The Negress just wants to give a shout out to fellow scribbler Cecilia Tan since it’s Web Serial Writing Month (WeSeWriMo to fans). Daron’s Guitar Chronicles has spawned three volumes and Cecilia is feverishly posting three entries a week until the end of August. The Negress nearly had to hospitalized for eyestrain after reading the first 380 entries in about three sittings (saw spots for daze). There is also offline content available for mature audiences if you throw some coin in the site’s tip jar. Good stuff and the Negress has got to thinking about throwing her hat into some corner of this ring.

One more thing about Cecilia, she’s got a new BDSM volume, Slow Surrender, that’s been getting some very nice reviews. Knowing her, it’s got to be fifty shades of awesome. Find that too, if that’s your thing.

Let yourself go

Cover of Cecilia’s latest

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In which the Negress arises from dormancy

August 20, 2013

The Negress has been in survival mode so the blog has been napping. She’s done some writing about music for the local paper, and she’s working on a longer piece for a magazine she  can’t name  right now. One thing she is very sure of is that she is no longer writing about wine. There are hundreds, nay, thousands of wine blogs out there, and she really doesn’t have anything to add to the discussion. Plus, due to some medication changes, wine is not front and center for her now.

So what is front and center? Good question. Working more would be nice. The Negress discovered she had no aptitude for the financial services business and spent way too much money trying to keep the failure afloat. She knew she missed writing and has even found her way back to the world of pop music, which isn’t the world she left except that the difference between good bands and bad bands is still obvious.

So, what to do now? Keep the journey afloat, listen to too much Blitzen Trapper, and wait for the next encounter.

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The Negress shakes some action HoZac style

May 16, 2013

The Negress’ adopted home of Chicago has become clotted with festivals (Pitchfork and Lollapalooza are the most annoying). Any event where portable outdoor toilets are alcohol are featured are totally skip-worthy to yours truly. However, the HoZac Blackout Fest, which kicks off tonight at the Empty Bottle and runs through Sunday, features three of my favorites

Picture of Pezband

Oak Park High’s finest

performers because of how they fit into my musical history. The Negress has loved power pop since forever, even driving to Zion, IL some 30 years to interview Shoes, who remain studio wizards but should avoid playing live at all costs (check out the video accompanying this story). But there’s more to this genre than Rockford’s Cheap Trick and those guys. Pezband, who got their start at Oak Park High School some 40 years ago, are playing Sunday night before Dwight Twilley (cue choir of French horns as Negress looks Heavenward)  closes things out.

You should come. Really.

You should come. Really.

The Pezzers have a new EP that’s been heard by some insiders and it’s as crisp and leanly brilliant as their previous outings. The Negress suspects that one of the reasons the band hasn’t gotten as much of its due, especially in its hometown, is that the lineup has been a bit fluid over the years. Plus, catching a break is very helpful in this line of work, and breaks for them have kind of glanced off the glove rather than being caught. The Negress is urging you to come out Sunday. She will be there in full force.

Oh, and the rest of the lineup isn’t  exactly shabby either. Dorchester’s own Unnatural Axe with frontman Richie Parsons, takes the Negress back to her daze in Boston, drinking vodka and writing for a defunct weekly. Parsons once kicked a friend of hers in the head right before brain surgery and saved her a haircut. Maybe you don’t want get that close, but there will be fun to be had. They’re headlining on Friday and on the bill with them is The Make-Overs, who have journeyed here from South Africa.It’s all going to be good but make sure you’re there on Sunday. As 20/20 once memorably sang, “Everybody was really groovy. Everybody had tight pants on.”

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In which the Negress deconstructs “Nashville”

May 15, 2013

The Negress was overjoyed when she found out “Nashville” was being renewed for a second season. She loves the show and all of its knowing, inside touches, but she wishes some of the people who have written about it knew the city better and had longer memories. Consider this profile of Hayden Panettiere from New York magazine (full disclosure: Matt Zoller Seitz, who is mag’s TV critic, was a co-worker of mine. The Negress adores his writing but he didn’t perpetrate this story).

The ladies of "Nashville" and a block of wood

The ladies of “Nashville” and a block of wood

You see, Nashville had history before the husband and wife team of Callie Khouri and T Bone Burnett arrived there permanent-like. Some of the town’s history they stitch into the fabric of the show very nicely, notably the divide between the Belle Meade power brokers and the hillbilly music makers. Belle Meaders don’t care about the music bidness, which is why Connie Britton’s character (Rayna James) has pretty much betrayed her raising (with her husband who’s not in the business, her story bears more of a resemblance to Minnie Pearl, who came from Belle Meade or thereabouts than the frequent comparisons to Faith Hill). You can also see why her daddy is steamed since his missus got tangled up in that shitkicker world too. It’s also a hoot that Brad Paisley’s wife, Kimberly, plays Peggy Kenter, the scheming mistress of Rayna’s husband. Eric Close plays the husband, and brings to mind the Monty Python line about David Hemmings being played by a block of wood.

Frankly, Hayden Panettiere deserves an Emmy. Juliette is not Taylor Swift, whose candy heart would be crushed by Juliette’s stilettos without her missing a step (an adult fan of Swift’s noted that Swift is the least likely celeb to show her chocha when leaving a limo. Yeah, but that doesn’t make her a singer.) With the acres of hurt and the remainder of her family parked at dysfunction junction, the Negress sees her as a composite character since there have been a fair number of  flaky pop tarts in Nashville’s history. In fact, gal singers were usually encouraged to be more poppy than their male counterparts to increase sales. So, Juliette is Juliette, but the details of her are very real.

Moving on to the rest of the cast, let’s take the relatives first. The Negress has known a few pickers in her time and Deacon gets a lot of the details right, including the hard-earned sobriety and the sketchy social skills.  His niece Scarlett, was a more problematic character at the beginning of the show since I think Clare Bowen was struggling with the accent (she’s from Australia and the actor who plays her boyfriend Gunnar, Sam Palladio, is English). The Negress is liking her more and more. Her rabbit-y shyness is explained by her brief descriptions of family life, which would make anyone retreat and write poems to duck flying furniture and broken plates. The Negress is also intrigued by Will, played by Chris Carmack. She has always figured statistically that some of those robohunks had to be part of  Tribe Queer (also NASCAR, the Negress thinks) and he’s throwing a nice wrench into Gunnar and Scarlett’s world. In short, there’s a lot to tune in for, especially if you know where all the bodies are buried.

Update: One more episode this season and The Negress will not Nussbaum anyone who hasn’t seen it. Also must add that Avery, whose character I find completely disposable, seems to be weaseling his way back into the limelight. Also, what happened to Liam? Is he off sulking somewhere cos Rayna wouldn’t go to St. Lucia with him? Oh, there were a couple of deaths last night. Not telling who.

 

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In which the Negress confounds Spotify

May 3, 2013

In the interests of full disclosure, the Negress pays $120 annually to Spotify so she can stream music without any ads. As a friend of hers who owns a small record label said, “I save the money I spend on Spotify by not buying albums I preview there.” (He then added a few choice words about Jack White and Will Oldham, but that’s another post) The Negress agrees, but she’s not too thrilled by how badly artists get screwed by the services (she doesn’t use Pandora because no algorithm can figure out her moods. Neither can prescribing doctors.) Here’s a New York Times story that explains how it works.

If you have to ask, you don't know the Negress very well

If you have to ask, you don’t know the Negress very well

So, she has come up with a way of confounding the Spot people. Only stream stuff you bought elsewhere. She has some vinyl that it would be nice to stream. Conversion to CD first (she has the technology for that and  hi-fi system; no crappy USB bidness for yours truly); then on to Spotify for her library. After 20 years of being a music writer, some of those records were paid for by blood, sweat and tears brought on by bad editors, but you get the drift. Artists should get paid, and there’s no justice in that not happening. So pardon the Negress for a moment; she has some legal recordings to make. After she goes to see “Iron Man 3″ in 2D.

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In which Jason Collins delights the Negress

April 30, 2013

The Negress is delighted that Jason Collins has come out while still active, but she’s avoiding comparisons to Jackie Robinson. It’s one thing to hide in plan sight and hear and see things that make you know you are not welcome. it’s quite another to be who you are fully and get abused publicly for it.

Also, Collins’  timing comes at an interesting point in his career. He’s a 13 year player who is a free agent. If he doesn’t get picked up for a 14th season (by all accounts, he’s in good shape and at 7 foot, 255 pounds, he could be an asset perhaps in a backup role given the mileage on him and his rep ans a good man in the clubhouse), could it mean NBA teams are still afraid of this issue? I could hear the release being written now “Doesn’t fit our needs.” “W’e’re rebuilding.” “We’re going younger.” At what point do management cliches hide hate? We will never know for sure.

Or, coming out could have bought him another contract. An against the grain owner (Mark Cuban on line one) picks him up where he rides the bench for a couple more years so the NBA looks more tolerant than it actually is. This is quite possible, but maybe not in Dallas.

Perhaps Collins can take Pride in Chicago someday

Perhaps Collins can take Pride in Chicago someday

Selfishly, the Negress thinks the Bulls might be able to use Mr. Collins. After all, Chicago was the first city where the Stanley Cup made a Pride parade appearance (African American Pride remains separate but equal, which is one of the bigger stains on the city’s bib and tucker). Plus, Joakim Noah has sore feet and could use a pick setter who really sets picks with authority while he rests those tired dogs. We bet he’ll consider his use of the “f” word more carefully if Collins is around.  The Negress pretty much gave up on the NBA when her father died in 1994, seemingly taking defense and grownups with him. However, this year’s edition of the Bulls has some endearing qualities, plus she has to hate the Nets for abandoning  New Jersey so arrogantly (a few years before they left, the team cooked Thanksgiving dinner in Bed-Stuy as though there were no poor people in, say, Newark). So,if Collins ended up here, even in a limited role, she might care again. Let’s hope he won’t be alone for long.

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How to Destroy Angels Negress style

April 28, 2013

The Negress doesn’t get out as much as she used to but she had a notebook in her hand on someone else’s dime at the How to Destroy Angels show. If you want to read that, click here. However, there were a few things about the show that the Negress wanted to share with her fellow fangirls and fanboys that are not mainstream media friendly.

The view from the Vic at the How to Destroy Angels show

The view from the  top of the Vic at the How to Destroy Angels show

First of all, what is it with the group of attendees that she has been describing for years a Lawyers and their Dates?  They help shows sell out and keep our favorite artists from financial ruin, but wouldn’t it be so much better if they just sent the money and stayed a home? Also, the Negress noticed a few folks around her gulping down the Hatorade regarding Mrs. Reznor.

Granted we who are fans of Trent have all fantasized about him various ways ( you can stick your plug in my keyboard anytime etc.), but that’s no reason to be unpleasant. The Negress also wants to give a shout out to the HTDA sound guy, Gary Bradshaw, who rode herd on the Vic, one of the toughest rooms in Chicago to get right. (An aside: the Aragon and the Congress Theater are the worst sounding rooms in the city, and the Congress has the added bonus that  some miscreants prey on concertgoers who are befuddled by the edgy neighborhood). When she gets her first paycheck, she’ll purchase the HTDA album (she used Spotify to prepare for the review, but, let’s face it, your favorite band doesn’t get hardly any money from a Spotify stream) and maybe that cool poster. But in the meantime, it’s nice to be back in Reviewerland. Next up: Brad Paisley. Hey, the Negress is keepin’ it real.

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