Sunday, September 26, 2010

When I'm Tired ...

When I'm tired, I just want to get home. Case-in-point: after the Dave Matthews concert, the traffic was backed up on the main road so I diverted to a side street. About 100 feet down the road, there was a road closed sign. No worries. I jumped the curb and drove on the sidewalk. Oh if my car could tell stories …

Anyway, after the Brad Paisley concert, all my usual secret tricks to get out of the parking lot quickly were doomed to failure. When I walked out and saw dozens of “tailgate” parties in progress after the concert, I knew it was going to be a long night. It wasn't that bad, really, but fifteen minutes of waiting at midnight can be one long time.

As I was driving east towards I-15, I saw those magical flashing police car lights.  I wasn't speeding nor did I run a stop sign nor had I been drinking alcohol.  Still, I had doubts about whether I could pass a sobriety test as I was too tired to get up and walk a straight line.  I was so relieved that the officer only wanted to tell me my headlight was out.

I was never so glad to be home at 12:51 am.

Water Tour Was Neither Rained Out Nor All Wet: Brad Paisley

Press PLAY to sample one of Brad Paisley's concert hits featuring his animated character. 

The evening was slightly cool and moonlit.  USANA's summer country concert series in Salt Lake City came to a close – or rather a grand finale – with the Brad Paisley H2O concert. One night when I couldn't sleep, I found myself in front of the computer at 3 am perusing the set list for recent Brad Paisley events, and instantly I knew the upcoming Paisley concert would be a rollout of some 20 sing-along hits from the country top 100.
The sizable, cowboy hat-wearing crowd cheered when they heard “Water,” Paisley's 17th #1 single hit, which is the centerpiece song behind a Gulf Oil Spill relief concert in which he is involved on October 17th. He also favored his Utah fans with “American Saturday Night,” “Online,” and “I'm Still a Guy” as animated scenes flashed on high tech video screen behind the band. 

 A highlight of the concert was when Paisley, surrounded by police and body guards, left the stage for a section of the 300 seats which are well above the VIP seats. “I used to sit in the cheap seats so I know the feeling well,” he said. He played there for at least two songs before heading back to the stage.
Joining or appearing to were Alison Krauss and Andy Griffith. Superimposed video onstage made me look twice to see if Allison Krauss was really there. Amazing.

“Ticks,” and “Alcohol” (what a combination, right??) closed out another encore performance by Paisley. By the time “Alcohol” began playing, the stage was filled with extras, including warm up bands featuring Darius Rucker and Justin Moore as well as members of the audience and Paisley's look-a-like character, who visited the makeshift bar onstage. When the house lights went on, the air was moderately cold outside, but once again Paisley had warmed his Utah fans with a night of hotter than hot music.
Disclosure: I was a volunteer at this concert. I received NO compensation for this review.

Darius Rucker Comes Back Country: Switching Teams

In 2008, Darius Rucker signed with Capitol Records as a country artist. One of the most experienced “warm up artists” performing on a moonlit Friday evening at USANA Amphitheater in Salt Lake City, Rucker put a bit of twang in his guitar with the move from Hootie and Blowfish to the Nashville-loving set.

Rucker's lineup was an acknowledgement of his early musical roots with “Only Wanna Be With You,” and “Let Her Cry,” both from his Hootie and the Blowfish days. The splash of country styling added to these numbers worked well and pleased the crowd. The mainstay of the concert was new country songs such as “Come Back Song” and “Don't Think I Don't Think About It.” Those could be back-to-back situations, but in the latter, the woman he still thinks of is married so coming back may be a challenge.

The set ended with “Purple Rain,” which showcased a video backdrop of the biggest purple rainstorm I've ever seen. What an ending, and for Rucker, more evidence of a new beginning. One of my friends at the concert commented, “Well, his name sure sounds all country.” {Sure enough.}

Disclosure: I was a volunteer at this concert. I received NO compensation for this review.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Marinade at the BBQ


My birthday festivities lasted several days including a trip to Pat's BBQ. I've mentioned Pat's here before, and the joint is definitely worth a re-mention. As usual, the food was fantastic, but my daughter, son-in-law, and I were absorbed in the music of Marinade.

What an unlikely band configuration Marinade is … the lead singer, Talia Keys, is also the drummer. The band's vibe is a juicy configuration of reggae, blues, jazz, funk, and rock. Talia looked strikingly like a friend of mine who's now a stay-at-home mom with two daughters, but who definitely can hold her own in a group of men. Confidently singing and banging on drums for hours on end, Talia's huge, deep voice sang out to such tunes as “Roses,” “Voodoo Maya,” and “Downtown Digs.” The music wasn't so much about the lyrics as it was about the groove and beat of the jimbay (African percussion), sax, guitar, and bass behind the drums.

I read somewhere once that it's better to listen to classical music while eating, something about the effect of calm, soothing music to digest by. I'll have to respectfully disagree. Marinade was the perfect saucy sound for eating Salt Lake City's best BBQ meal.
 Oh wait ... there's more.  My daughter had whipped up a special birthday celebration, complete with Tiramisu, which of course she blogged about a couple weeks later.  {mmmmmm}

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Twenty Steps To World Peace

"Peace is as much about getting the bombs out of our own hearts as out of the Pentagon budget." 
-- Colman McCarthy

Today and every day I wish for world peace.  But most especially today.   For think globally, act locally isn't just for recycling. And be the change you want to see in the world can save more than our ecosystems.

World peace is a momentum that begins with inner peace, namely mine and yours.  This movement begins in our homes and with our most intimate relationships.  It extends to our circle of friends and their friends and theirs and so on.  It ripples to our neighborhoods and our work places.

We can forgive.
We can care deeply.
We can offer to help.
We can love ourselves.
We can live in harmony.
We can stop bashing them.
 We can visualize abundance. 
We can detach from conflict.
We can listen and understand.
We can think peaceful thoughts.
We can be truly kind to everyone.
We can be fueled by love not fear.
We can seek positive in all situations.
We can look for the good in all people.
We can giggle at life's humorous moments. 
We can spend time with a friend who is lonely.
We can look into someone's eyes and smile from our toes.
We can say we're sorry to those we have hurt, and really mean it.
We can invite an adversary to dinner and perhaps reach an understanding.
We can let someone go in front of us at the grocery store or in rush hour traffic.

Imagine the ripple effect if everyone would do one extra peaceful thing each day!  A little bit of change makes a lot of difference.  World peace begins with each of us, especially you and me.  Maybe it's not too much to ask, if we start today. {me too}
Rainbows over Geneva, Switzerland photographed by Phil Bastian

The Joy Ride Club: Return Trip From Diamond Hot Springs

The time was 12:45 am. We'd just spent a relaxing moonlit evening, surrounded by candles, as we sat in the warm and warmer Diamond Hot Springs, located near Spanish Fork Canyon, and marveled at the expanse of the starry sky. Like my friends and their friends, I chatted, snacked on nuts and granola bars, drank a sip of wine, and giggled. The entire experience was a rush: a 2.5 mile hike up, the 2+ hour hot springs soak during which I was treated to a rousing chorus of “Happy Birthday”, and the hike back down.

The ambiance in the SUV was akin to a swamp at best, a combination of sweaty hiking scent coupled with sulphur from the hot springs. Within minutes we were on the road, and we gravitated to the topic on everyone's mind at 1 am Saturday morning: what to do about dating. Not that we don't, but how to do it better so the revolving door of first dates ends, at least for a while. Banter lobbed between the back and front seats like a ping pong match. Several shared stories, frustrations, and opinions about the drama of dating from age 30+.
Topics included what to say and what not to say in personal ads, and which dating sites are the best (and worst). A couple people focused on the relative ethics – or lack -- of leading people on in whom you are not interested. Managing expectations – yours and those of others – led to invigorating chatter about the point at which dating more than one person at a time was foul play. I think we revisited that topic several times over. 

People shared what they wanted and didn't want in a partner and/or relationship. Those who were on mentioned whether they'd seen each other's ads and discussed the site's features. And then a deep discussion of the power of innuendos ensued. Innuendo-wise, a new word coined on the trip, means “pertaining to indirect or subtle references.” If there is a dating dictionary, innuendowise should be added. If I have learned anything about dating, it's sort of like charades. And you have to navigate without Google maps or a Garmin. Sometimes there are hints at what to do or say, and sometimes not.

Later on, the driver, who is an Elsewherian, shared his religious philosophies. “Where church is, I'm elsewhere,” he explained. He's very devout from the sound of it. At one time, he was a practicing Mormon, but he quit going to church. Two who were raised Catholic did the same. Even though I go to mass just about every week, and I cannot imagine not going, I understand that “fish out of water” feeling when you realize that your religion and your spirituality must part ways.

The evening ended for some at the parking lot of Sportsman's Warehouse, where those who'd left cars in the rear of the lot received a not-so-friendly flyer warning that if we ever parked there again, we'd be towed. Oh well, guess I know where I won't be able to buy my next pair of hiking boots. A smaller group of us made way to Village Inn for breakfast. The dating theme continued, in earnest, with yet another twist. What to do about the aggressive, won't take “no” for an answer female? We did not solve this, but we heard a legendary story about a determined female on the loose and we were subsequently sworn to secrecy. Censorship hits this blog again. Ouch.
 My friend and I left Village Inn and I dropped her off. What an amazing and exhilarating evening. 3:38 am was the time when I walked in the door. No doggie door needed to sneak in after a late night (yes, there was a time when I could have conducted training on how to do this). Wow, maybe I really am a grown up now. {Happy Birthday, me.}

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Concert Shopping Sidebar, Or How I Almost Bought Another Purse

The Rockstar Energy Tour at USANA Amphitheater featuring Disturbed and Avenged Sevenfold, among others, won my vote hands down as the best concert shopping paradise. Huh? Yes. You had to be there. T-shirts, sweatshirts. I was intrigued by many of the booths, and nearly sprung for a purse at one but I'd have had to use the ATM which would've probably added $5 or so to my net cost. Sorry, I may have a job, but I have become very cost conscious. Besides, I knew I was heading to Park Silly Sunday Market on the weekend for a birthday celebration, and I was planning to buy a skirt (which I did).
The highlight, besides the colorful purses, was those “blowing glass” things. I don't think they're supposed to be bubble pipes ;). No, I don't own one, but I'm not naive.  I walked up to the booth to take a photo and was quickly and curtly told by the vendor not to capture their merchandise on my camera. Shame on me, I did it anyway.


Yes It Was, A Little Disturbed

Play it again. “Down With the Sickness” was Disturbed's encore number for their concert at USANA Amphitheater in Salt Lake City. The rhythm was undulating, and the lyrics were drowned out by the guitars and drums, which was fine because they were definitely too colorful for me. The crowd didn't stop … jumping, dancing, fists in the air.

Get up, come on get down with the sickness
Get up, come on get down with the sickness
Get up, come on get down with the sickness
Open up your hate, and let it flow into me
Get up, come on get down with the sickness
Madness is the gift, that has been given to me

I learned there's a “clean version” of the lyrics. I'm sort of surprised but overjoyed because the original version was a string of profanity.  In Utah, we have clean versions of many artistic works such as movies and song lyrics.  It makes you wonder what we'd do with Michelangelo's David.  Maybe he'd end up wearing a pair of biking shorts and a t-shirt.  But this was not a Utah-based cleansing company.  In any case, I am unaware of whether the band played the "clean" version at the concert.
Like so many music groups, Disturbed paid tribute to American troops at war.
The crowd of mostly teens and 20-somethings took to their feet enthusiastically with every number. Disturbed pushed the envelope with their repertoire of songs such as “Asylum,” “Stricken,” and “Stupify.” Shock value in visual art, literature, and theater is something humanity has experienced for centuries. In music, it's a relatively new feature to test the audience with lyrics that accentuate base and dark themes. And if nothing else, based on the crowd reaction, Disturbed got passing grades for their appearance in Utah.  {still wondering if the horses were dancing in the countryside to the non-stop beat}
Disclosure: I was a volunteer at this concert. I received NO compensation for this review.

Avenged Sevenfold: Heavy Metal Is Solid Gold

I'm not my grandmother, but I'm not 17 anymore either. When I reviewed the set list for Avenged Sevenfold, the band immediately preceding the band Disturbed at the USANA Amphitheater in Salt Lake City, I knew this wasn't going to be a warm and fuzzy lyrical nirvana. “Nightmare,” “Beast and the Harlot,” and “Unholy Confessions” were among the group's featured numbers.

Before the concert, I ran into my son-in-law's brother, and he literally giggled and said “This isn't really your kind of music, is it?” I had to chuckle, too, as his laugh sounded just like my son-in-law's, so genuine and from the heart. “Trying to be expansive,” I smiled.

Another young couple reached over the railing near the lawn section and handed me their empty beer cups to facilitate recycling. “Excited for the concert?” I asked. Never did I expect to get such the complete analysis that followed on the musical theory and tonal qualities behind one of America's up-and-coming heavy metal bands. We might as well have been discussing the New York Philharmonic. “And their vocals are the best,” he added. I surprised him by handing him my list of the group's songs from one of their recent concerts. “Oh I knew they were going to play Nightmare!” he exclaimed.

The stage was nearly dark but I could see a platform high above the stage as the crowd anticipated the entrance of the band. When they raced onstage, a dummy suspended by a rope dropped and hung in front of the group. The set was as eery as a haunted house, with rapidly changing lights and fire torches shooting flames to the beat of the music.
Everyone was on their feet. The energy was a rush unto itself. The throng was jumping with hands up in the air or doing the “spawning salmon” move with their heads. This was not a concert, it was a happening. The mosh pit down in the front was a rippling mass of amorphous motion.
Can’t wake up in sweat
'Cause it ain’t over yet
Still dancin' with your demons
(Victim of your own creation)
Beyond the will to fight
Where all that’s wrong is right
Where hate don’t need a reason
(Loathing self-assassination
And so it continued for about an hour. The one mellow moment, if there was one, was during the song “So Far Away,” a tribute to the band's drummer, James Sullivan, who died of a drug overdose.
Although I must admit I doubt I'll get cravings for a steady musical diet of Avenged Sevenfold, this band was the full package and doesn't need to play second fiddle to anybody. No kidding. Their stage set up was unequaled and they lured the crowd in further and further with every song. Suffice it to say, they played it like superstars. And rightly so. The group's Nightmare album debuted at #1 on the Billboard magazine in 2010.
Disclosure: I was a volunteer at this concert. I received NO compensation for this review.