Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Big Head Todd and the Monsters/Squeeze

The 1600 team hit the back roads out to Wolf Trap Farm Park on August 9th for a double header show and interview with Big Head Todd and the Monsters, a Colorado quartet that typically headline at most venues, who on that soggy evening were opening up for pop/rock legends Squeeze. Through some fortuitous timing, we managed to catch up first with guitar slinger Todd Park Mohr, bassist Rob Squires, Brian Nevin on drums, and Jeremy Lawton, keyboardist and occasional steel guitar player backstage, and then shanghaied Squeeze drummer Simon Hanson (no relation to the Hansons of MMM-Bop fame) for a quick word. Our first back to back interviews with two bands for the price of one! Look for that to air in the near future. And many thanks to Graham Binder of Wolf Trap, our favorite national park, for going out of his way to make us feel at home at the Filene Center.

After the interview, it soon began to drizzle, then a slow, drenching rain settled over us for the night. And because your friends at 1600 like to picnic in the park, we had lawn seats, which afforded us a pretty good view, but also made for some well- soaked fans by evening's end. For their part, however, both bands turned in great sets, with clear sound and an energetic presence. The self-described modern rock band and longtime college radio favorite's set included their excellent cover of Led Zeppelin's Tangerine, and signature tunes Bittersweet, Circle, and Broken Hearted Savior. They also picked one of their tastiest ballads, Please Don't Tell Her, off the Beautiful World cd, for the hour long set, and Blue Sky which made it all the way into orbit with astronaut Steve Swanson on the Space Shuttle! And of course, Beautiful Rain drew cheers from the appreciative and dripping wet crowd. Hard to believe that Todd and his crew have been around for 20 years, they still have the freshness and enthusiasm of a band just starting out. 'Til their next visit, check out www.bigheadtodd.com, for more news, tour info, discs, and an opportunity to help out some of the worthy charities these guys support. But next time, please play a couple of my requests, okay guys?

With an even longer and more storied career, Squeeze clocks in at more than 30. Unlike Todd, however, Squeeze has weathered several line-up changes, including the departure of original members including keyboardist Jools Holland and drummer Paul Gunn, but was in fine form with Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook at the helm, supported by longtime Squeeze vet John Bentley on bass, Stephen Large on keyboards and the previously mentioned Simon Hanson on drums, both members of Tilbrook's other band, the Fluffers. Tilbrook was in exceptionally fine voice, and there was non-stop dancing in the aisles during their entire set. Squeeze wound seamlessly through their many FM radio staples including Tempted, Black Coffee in Bed, Annie Get Your Gun, Pulling Mussels From A Shell, Another Nail In My Heart, Cool For Cats, and Is That Love, as well as my personal favorite from the very first (U.K.) Squeeze album, Take Me, I'm Yours. We were all transported back to the innocent, blissful era when MTV actually played music videos (and no ads), skinny ties ruled, and Britney, boy bands, iPods, SUVs and reality TV hadn't even been invented. And to think, some people call this "progress?"

Thanks again to our new pal Simon for his impromptu interview. We look forward to having both bands back in DC again soon! Get out and see them, as each band is even better live than their records would imply, AND because we promised they'd get the notorious "1600 Bounce" from our loyal audience!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Bedtime for Gonzo?

Soon to be Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, justifying the decisions he can't remember making.

WASHINGTON, DC: In a shocking and unexpected turn of events, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales announced his resignation today. All over America, the news was greeted with horror and dismay, mostly by illegal immigrants fearing that he might wind up taking one of their under the table, sub-minimum wage jobs. Look at the corner he's painted himself into! Disgraced from public office. No opportunity to get any private clients after his miserable performance as White House Counsel and AG. And he can't even write his memoirs now, because if he actually does remember anything, he's subject to indictment for perjury, obstruction of justice, negligent entrustment, improper dismissal, contempt of Congress, and about ten other civil and criminal charges I can think of, just off the top of my head.

But the White House, standing by their man, said the media has "dragged his reputation through the mud" and "politicized" this entire investigation of the 7, no it was 8- actually I think 9 US Attorneys fired for "poor performance" who happened to have very successful records including investigations against convicted jailbirds like Bob Ney (R-OH, not the Science Guy) who copped to pocketing bribes from lobbyist and frequent White House visitor Jack Abramoff, and "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA), also disgraced for taking kickbacks from real estate developers. Yeah, they prosecuted the wrong crooks! Why not just make up some charges about Whitewater, or something? Maybe plant stories and have people start theorizing that Vince Foster didn't commit suicide? You don't need any evidence- just say it often enough, like the Swift Boat guys who really weren't even THERE! That's how we get the job done- character assassination, innuendo, then convenient memory lapses and denial when you're caught.

Add to that today's revelations about outspoken (and outed!) anti-gay rights Senator Larry Craig (R-ID) pleading guilty to charges of soliciting lewd acts from an undercover police officer in a public bathroom, and you have another fiasco to remind all your friends about the party of family values, chosen by God to lead our country into the most brutal, senseless, hopeless shitstorm it has ever faced, with no possible solution but the complete reversal of every decision made by Bush and his Texas mafia of thieves, crooks, and traitors since Day One.

Anyway, Gonzo's role as Inquisitor General insures him an eternity of infamy, as he challenged election laws, courageously equivocated on torture, fought to suspend habeas corpus, pushed for secret tribunals to sentence prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay, characterized the Geneva Convention as "quaint and antiquated," and authorized warrantless spying as he worked tirelessly with the White House to undermine the Constitution and politicize the Department of Justice. Yes indeed, you've earned your rest, little partner- we hope the Boss joins you out in the pasture (or better yet, in an adjoining cell!) way sooner than he plans on it. In the meantime, now that you've taken the fall like so many of his cronies before you, can you clean out that stable in Crawford for him? That'd be greeeeaaaat.

I never thought I'd get to write this story. And I couldn't be happier that I was wrong! I only wish he'd been dragged out, kicking and screaming, with a number on his orange jumpsuit. Well, gotta go see what Jon Stewart and Colbert have to say about today's news. I'm icing down the Cristal to wash down my popcorn. And the White House menu again includes crow, sour grapes, and a frothy cup of bile.


Friday, August 24, 2007

"Reunion" Boasts 33% More Van Halen

Not in picture: Hagar, Anthony- the real brains of the outfit.

Last week, Eddie Van Halen shlocked the world as he announced a quasi-reunion tour with original vocalist and frontman, David Lee "Diamond Dave" Roth. And the entire world yawned in rapt(?) anticipation.
Apparently, being drug and alcohol free for perhaps the first time in his adult life hasn't brought Eddie any closer to lucidity. Dave's motives are far more transparent: MONEY. He hasn't had a hit single since he covered California Girls. He was a wash out as a DJ. And even Sammy won't tour with him anymore. Or talk to Eddie for that matter.
However, unlike the short lived reunion in '96 that yielded two instantly forgettable songs for a Best of VH collection, and an induction into the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame in March notable only for the fact that Roth, Alex and Eddie were nowhere to be found, apparently the long-standing grudges and years of acrimonious bickering in the trade press have been laid to rest for a variety of reasons, such as, uh...going out on a limb here...MONEY?- there are some differences this time out, suggesting that perhaps the boys have learned from their previous mistakes:

1. It's unlikely there will be any more headlines over vandalism to hotel rooms. Everybody knows about the M&M clause in their contract by now. Besides, now they're too old to get out of the hotels fast enough to avoid arrest.
2. Valerie Bertenelli won't be there for Dave to insult with nasty comments and/or fast moving projectiles. (And if she does show up, it will probably be Eddie going postal, not Dave.)
3. Dave will not subject the audience to the sight of his sagging ass in chaps, ever again. We hope!
4. And Michael Anthony has, inexplicably, been replaced on bass by Eddie's son (and drummer Alex's nephew) Wolfgang. This one could work against them, though. What happens to Van Halen when he dumps these tired old hacks for a real band, or starts one of his own? He could call it: VH2. Oh waitaminute, that's the station that plays all his Dad's old videos. Never mind.

Keep in mind that this is the same Dave who said back in '96 that the possibility of him sharing the stage with Eddie ever again was about as likely as Jerry Springer getting a guest shot on Knotts' Landing. And Eddie had retorted that the Diamond One had LSD- "lead singer's disease." Not exactly a friendly exchange. But absence makes the heart grow fonder, and the hatchet is buried, for now at least, at the prospect of a 50 city world tour and a whole lot of......MONEY. Inspiration enough, it seems, to settle their differences, anyway.

Wolfie could have some real chops, though, and we wish him the best. However, 1600 is still taking bets that this snoozefest may actually reach Washington about the same time as Guns 'N Roses releases Chinese Democracy, but it's tentatively scheduled for November 1 at the Verizon Center. Tickets go on sale soon, and will probably be more than the GNP of many third world countries.

I tried to warn you...

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Another One Bites the Dust

Karl Christian Rove, Demagogue, 2001-2007

The real architect of the Republican/neocon coup, Karl Rove, waving goodbye to America as he departs to "spend more time with his family."

Well, now I know what a rat looks like as it deserts a sinking ship. And still without a hint of shame.

I'm not certain what part of this is the most disturbing- that he's leaving under his own power, and not in leg irons and handcuffs, or that he actually has a family?
Yet another sign of the coming apocalypse! Get thee to the hardware store for duct tape and plastic sheets!
And adios, little Genius.