Ramble On

Ramble On

Andrew Olson

Reader Weekly

Sometimes when you write an article it becomes an odyssey of tangents, which my first editor Richard hated, but this one is a journey.

It all started with hearing Wanda Jackson play over the speakers at Ragstock, but an old habit, The Alrights, has been on my mind for weeks.

First off I went looking for a sweater for an ugly sweater party coming up this weekend. This is my first time attending one of those kinds of parties and so I had to go searching for a crazy looking piece of wool post-Christmas and never found one.

I checked Ragstock, but they didn’t have an ugly one in my size. They did have a great 50% off sale on winter gear, but it was what I heard there that sent me to The Electric Fetus.

After hearing one song play over the PA, I realized it was Wanda Jackson’s new Cd. More and more her high pitched and raspy sounding voice became infectious as I listened. Jackson was on Conan a week or two ago and Jack White was playing guitar in her band. I knew he produced her album, but I wasn’t aware that he was playing guitar on all the songs until I heard the Cd. For some reason this was the one time when I didn’t pre-order something Jack White related, but upon listening to a few deeper tracks I knew I had to get this Cd as soon as possible.

Before getting to the Fetus, one cool thing I noticed at Ragstock was all of the local concert posters they had on display. There was a great David Moreira (SkatRadioh) behind the counter, but there was an even better display in the front window. The posters up there were from the past ten years, but the collage was really amazing when looked at as a whole.

One poster that stood out was for a Cloud Cult show from back in 2008 at Saint Scholastica. Another was of The Lindquists and seemed fairly old. We have some great poster art in this community and more exposure is needed for these artists. If you are a local concert poster artist (or know one) please email me through my site and I would be very interested in covering more of this local art.

After Ragstock it was just a short jaunt over to the Electric Fetus. I really try to patronize local shops whenever possible so that they stick around. It must be difficult for the Fetus to stay afloat in the $0.99 download era, but by the looks of things it was quite busy this weekend with their 20% off sale. The sale was only on items not previously reduced, but I managed to buy a strange assortment of music anyway.

In college at SCSU I spent many a student loan dollar at the Fetus there, but I really like the old style of the one in Duluth. You creak as you walk on the ancient floors and your nose expands to the patchouli, but be sure to check out the display with Ringo Starr wearing one of their shirts.

The Electric Fetus also has some original prints available and their concert posters by Canadian artist Bob Masse are great buys in the back. They’re not the original concert posters, but they are limited artist reprints. There is a very nice Bob Dylan/Paul Simon from their 1999 tour and a psychedelic Tripps Festival from the 1960s with Jefferson Airplane.

The greatest aspect to the Fetus was that Wanda Jackson’s “The Party Ain’t Over” was on sale. For a few bucks more you can get the LP/album that plays music when you open it. The Cd doesn’t have that same option, but it was produced by White’s Third Man Records.

The best part was that it was on sale and probably cheaper than at Wal-Mart. Buy local!

While my wife was looking through the jewelry and clothes, I went through the used Cd section. The first great deal was $6.99 for Led Zeppelin II. I own the record, but I don’t own the equipment to transfer it onto my iPod. That was an easy sell as deep tracks of Zep are always needed on any device.

The next Cd was a bit more of a gamble, but I bought the Rolling Stones psychedelic attempt at a Sgt. Pepper rip off, “Their Satanic Majesties Request.” I own nearly all of the Stones Cds and I believe that Sticky Fingers is their top album. This Cd falls short of any other from that time period, but with “She’s A Rainbow” and “2000 Light Years From Home” it does have a few well known ditties. The first song on the disc was “Sing This All Together” and had a total Beatles rip-off sound. In fact, the entire Cd was a Beatles rip off and should be forgotten. I totally thought there might be some new deep track to discover, but so far it hasn’t really grabbed me.

Now remember, as a reviewer you should take everything I say with a grain of salt. I usually hate most of what I hear the first few times through. It is the same way with clothing, it has to work its way into the rotation, but once it does it is hard to imagine life without it.

Another used purchase was of Lenny Kravitz’s 2008 Cd, “It Is Time For A Love Revolution.” This was a bit risky, but several years ago Kravitz’s “Baptism” blew me away. He came on tour that year and put on an amazing show. I’ve listened to a few tracks off of the newer album, but nothing has grabbed me yet.

The last Cd I bought was from 2001 by a band called Mr. Lindquist titled, “Evil Says Eight Ball In The Side Pocket.” It was $4.99 and was recorded mostly during August of that year in his living room. The thing that really grabbed me was that it had an early version of one of my favorite Little Black Books songs, “Don’t Blame Keith Richards.”

This was a very raw Cd and nice to listen to after hearing all of the LBB songs from 2005 on. I am not fully through all of the 10 songs on the Cd yet, but so far I like the minimal approach and how his sound wasn’t as refined yet. LBB have a show coming up on the 18th at R.T. Quinlan’s and are always an amazing band led by Mr. Mark Lindquist.

That energy for music and the nightlife is addictive, and what would an article be without talk of live music? This brings me to my last story about seeing The Alrights play at Carmody a few weeks ago.

If you read my articles years ago you probably know that I was a bit of an Alrights fan for a few years. It didn’t really don on me until I bumped into a stranger on an elevator who said, “You sure like The Alrights.”

First off, I was shocked someone recognized me or read my articles. Second, I must have really been writing about The Alrights a lot. There was an article where I oozed about their music like a young girl over Justin Bieber, but eventually I came back to reality.

The cool thing about seeing The Alrights after a few year break was just how infectious and addictive their music is live. I usually sit through some type of live music every weekend. A lot of them suck and I don’t write about them, but a lot of them have great tunes too. There are some bands that when you hear their music it activates or triggers something in the brain the same way a drug would. The amazing thing about music is that it can get you higher than any drug on earth ever could. It is pure energy, cut and inhaled through your ears.

A few years ago I would sit at Alrights’ shows and watch people come up to dance, and it was almost always during the same songs. Those same songs when played at Carmody didn’t register exactly the same response as when the band was at their height, but I still felt that energy. Sure a couple of people got up to moved around, but not like a few years ago.

The Alrights have enough hit songs to fill a set and then some. The only knock on them would be that they occasionally play songs that are too different in too close proximity during their shows. It is like they are unaware of their audience and the flow of the energy they produce. At many shows the girls (and some guys) would get up to dance when they played a faster tune, but then they would follow it up with something very introspective and slow, clearing the floor. This is not just something The Alrights do, in fact, many (if not most) bands do this.

I know it is a very different experience to be in the audience as opposed to in the band performing. The Alrights have so much music that they don’t really have to worry about this happening that often. However, it is frustrating to watch a band get people up and dancing with a song and then follow it up with a dud. I like to think of it as the “firework effect,” similar to whenever you see fireworks. The displays always starts out with something that grabs you, and then there is a pause, then a bit bigger firework display. This is followed by yet another pause, and then a period where you lose your attention span and want to leave, a pause, and then the big finale. Bands do this too often as well, and some bands with barely enough original material would rather stuff crap down your throat than play a cover.

The Alrights struck a chord with me when I saw them play and the energy from some of their hit songs hit me like a drug. It reminded me of everything I love about live music and also why I do this in the first place. Toby Chuchill performs live solo shows around town and talk of a Cd release is in the future.