Wednesday, October 31, 2012

5 Halloween oldies that aren't "The Monster Mash"

I grew up listening to oldies from the 50s, 60s, and 70s, so when Halloween rolled around, I knew there were certain songs that would get heavy rotation. The most obvious of these was the Monster Mash. Here are 5 more that are just as much in the spirit of spookiness but with a (mostly) better music:

1. Love Potion Number 9 by the Searchers: This tale of a guy who goes to a gypsy woman to help him get the ladies but who ends up "kissing everything in sight" including a cop after quaffing the spooky brew is almost as cheesy as "The Monster Mash," but it has always been one of my favorites.

2. Witchy Woman by the Eagles: The title is pretty self-explanatory, making it an obvious Halloween playlist choice, but the stellar vocals and guitar work set this song above the others.

3. Black Magic Woman by Santana: Closely related to Witchy Woman -- what's up with all these songs about women tricking men into loving them with magic? Any way, the song is a keeper for the outstanding signature Santana guitar.

4. Spooky: Yet another song about a woman of questionable ways. It mostly sounds like she's just not that into him ("I get confused 'cause I don't know where I stand...") but the guy chooses to chalk it up to her being "spooky." This one's kind of cheesy, but too obvious a choice to leave out. Plus, it ends with a Halloween proposal!

5. Any song by 60s rock group the Zombies: Partly because they're called the Zombies, partly because the line, "what's your name, who's your daddy?" from "Time of the Season" is pretty creepy, and partly because there are some amazing organ solos in these songs.

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Weekend recap: fallergies, coffeehouse cafe, and writing weekend

Hello, all. I'm writing a weekend recap on Tuesday instead of Monday because I sat down to my computer this morning and completely believed that it was Monday. I think that's because I spent most of yesterday, the actual Monday, high on Benadryl. Autumn allergies are always the worst for me and they have just hit the Jones household in full force, so Adam and I are a disgusting  pair of sneezing, sniffling, itchy, tea-drinking, pill-popping allergy sufferers. In fact, autumn allergies are so bad, they need their own word: fallergies. That's not very good is it? Probably not going to make it onto any nasonex commericals anytime soon as the new allergy catch-phrase. The good thing about spending Monday in a Benadryl-haze is that it's kind of like having a four-day weekend. I recommend it. Anyway, here's my weekend gig recap:

Friday, we played for the first time at Coffeehouse Cafe in Dallas. The crowd and staff there were very kind. The stage was small, so rather than squeeze the three of us together, my dad and I did a duo performance for the first time in ages, and it was fun to remember how well we work together as a team. The highlight of the evening for me was when someone requested a Norah Jones song, and, through the magic of wi-fi, I pulled up the lyrics on my Kindle and performed the song without a hitch. Internet is fun. We are looking forward to going back to Coffeehouse Cafe on Saturday, Nov. 3rd. This is a slight change from the previously-scheduled date of Friday, Nov. 2nd, so, if you were planning on coming before, you'll want to change your calendars to reflect the new night.

In addition to fallergies and coffeehouse cafe, I participated in my very first, self-instituted "writing weekend," in which I holed-up in my office at UTD on Friday and Saturday to get some dissertation work done without the distractions of home like Desmond crawling on top of my keyboard or all the seasons of Gossip Girl on Netflix. While not an enormous success (I left with no stunning, completed dissertation chapters under my arm Saturday evening), I certainly got more work done in my office than I ever do at home, so writing weekend is officially my new "thing."

Have a good week, everyone.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Happy Friday -- Fall flowers

Happy Friday! I hope you've made some fun Friday night plans (namely, to come see us play tonight at Coffeehouse Cafe from 7-9:30).

This week, Adam brought me these lovely fall flowers:

Pretty, right? I was delighted. Until Desmond started eating them:

Even Molly tried to get in on it, but she's either not as bold as Desmond, or not quite as smart.

I learned two things from this experience. 1) It's hard to take pictures of cats chewing on flowers, as evidenced by that ridiculously fuzzy picture, above that looks as though Desmond is entering a dream state as he ingests forbidden flower poisons. 2) We can't have nice things. It's a good thing I really love my cats.

Happy Friday. See some of you tonight at Coffeehouse Cafe!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Dylan Diaries -- Favorite albums: Freewheelin' Bob Dylan

A great thing about this dissertation process is that it's exposed me to Dylan songs and albums that I probably wouldn't have taken the time to listen to otherwise. Yesterday at the end of class a student asked me a question about the obscure Basement Tapes track, "Apple Suckling Tree," and I felt like a real Dylan scholar as I answered his question. So in discovering new songs and albums, I have naturally discovered new favorites, which I would like to write about here. Today's post, however, is not about a new favorite, but about an old one: The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan.

There's a lot that I could say about the impressive classic songs on Freewheelin'; about the sparse musical arrangements that remove all the polish from "Blowin' in the Wind" and "Don't think twice, it's all right" if, like me, you grew up hearing the Peter, Paul, and Mary versions; and about the way this album changed everything in the sixties folk movement. It's a great album in its own right. But The freewheelin' Bob Dylan tops my list of favorite Dylan albums for purely sentimental reasons: whenever I listen to it, it takes me back to where I was when I bought it and listened to it for the first time.

It was late 2005 and early 2006 and a friend and I were serving together as youth workers in the tiny town of Thornaby, England. We enjoyed working with the kids and playing and organizing lots of music for the church there, but we also had plenty of free time, which we used for walking to the only Starbucks for miles around, buying bath bombs at Lush (a store that we didn't yet have in the states), and, of course, traveling.  One of our adventures brought us to Bangor, Wales, where an out-of-town acquaintance graciously let us stay in his home while he was away. Bangor is just across the water from Dublin, Ireland, so, while we were there, we took the ferry to Dublin for a day. Our day in Dublin is somewhat fuzzy. I think I got a little seasick on the ferry, and we definitely got lost wandering around Dublin.  But one part of the day stands out: on one of those many side streets we went down in an effort to figure out where we were going, we found a used CD store, where I purchased the latest Jamie Cullum CD, and, you guessed it, Dylan's The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan. I had no particular attachment to Dylan; I knew some of his songs of course, but not his recordings of them, but I am a sucker for classics, so I thought that this classic album would be the perfect addition to my CD collection.

When we got home that evening, worn-out, a little sea-sick, and tired of being around crowds of people, we each sought out some alone time, which I found with a cup of tea and a small CD player in the kitchen, where I put in my new purchase and experienced Bob Dylan's music for the first time. The songs made me feel both homesick and, somehow, at home, right where I was. Dylan's gravelly voice still bothered me, but it began to grow on me as well. And old familiar tunes like "Blowin' in the Wind" felt fresh -- lines that felt like cliches because I'd heard them so often sounded relevant and poetic. Dylan was the perfect companion for "alone time," and that little trip to Bangor and Dublin became the beginning of a larger journey toward grad school and this desk chair, where I sit, struggling to write a doctoral thesis about Dylan's work.

Freewheelin' is still one of my favorite albums; today, my husband and I own a vinyl copy, and we even recorded one of the classic songs from the album, "Don't think twice, it's all right" on our latest EP. (Which, if you didn't know by now, is available for free on Noisetrade, or for money at Amazon and Itunes). These days, I'm almost more in love with the album cover than the album's content -- Dylan and then-girlfriend Suze Rotolo look so hip and happy. Also, that scene was so lovingly recreated with Charlotte Gainsborough and Heath Ledger in the film I'm Not There, that I get a little sad thinking about Ledger -- one of my favorite, late actors -- whenever I see the cover, especially in the large vinyl LP format. But whether I'm hearing it in analog or digital, whether I sit and listen intentionally or just hear a random track from the album on Spotify, whether I'm viewing the album cover or its film re-creation, The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan does not fail to take me right back to the winding streets of Dublin and a quiet kitchen in Wales, and that alone makes the album wonderful to me.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Coming Up -- Coffeehouse Cafe

Hello, everyone. This Monday morning might be especially difficult for some of us Texans -- especially Dallas-ites like me -- since this weekend was the big Texas/OU game. Even if you're not a fan of the game, you may have found yourself getting exhausted while caught in the weekend party traffic. If that's you, or if you just dislike Mondays in general, I suggest making your Friday night plans right now, to give yourself something to look forward to.

This Friday we will be performing at Coffeehouse Cafe in Dallas from 7 - 9:30. Not a coffee drinker? Fear not. Coffeehouse Cafe serves breakfast all day (right now they're featuring ginger-spiced pumpkin pancakes) as well as delicious lunch and dinner. They make really great cappuccinos, but they have more grown-up beverage offerings, too. Plus, the atmosphere is cozy and they have a large, pet-friendly patio that is perfect for the weather this time of year.  To top it all off, they won a Dallas Observer Best of 2012 award for best new restaurant. So I can really think of no excuse for you not to come to Coffeehouse Cafe this Friday, grab a bite to eat or a comforting fall beverage, and relax to your favorite local singer-songwriter. (hint: that's me, right? -- right?).

In the meantime, have a lovely week as you look forward to a great Friday night of dinner and live music.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Happy Friday: Fall so Far

Happy Friday! Here are a few snapshots of fall thus far. It really is my favorite season.

Fall means boots weather -- hooray! I also took this photo to document that leather peter pan collar. I wanted to incorporate the leather trend into my wardrobe but on a small, inexpensive scale. So I made this collar using an adaptation of this tutorial with only materials I had on hand. (I found the faux leather on the back of a CD case that I once got as swag from a job fair.)
Speaking of fashion, I can't wait until it's cold enough to wear this sweater. It's almost cold enough. Here in Texas, it doesn't take much of a temperature dip for me to bundle up.

I love catching up on my blog reading with a cup of coffee on our balcony. The weather is perfect for it right now. Desmond loves to join me, too:
Who could resist that face?

This was taken during a women's retreat with my church. I love the color of the guitar (borrowed from a friend) and the cozy surroundings. The weekend was cold and rainy, so this homey lake house was the perfect place to bundle up and have girl time.
During some not-so-successful attempts at outfit photos, we ended up with this shot that reminded me of those "Read" posters you see in libraries. So I couldn't resist being the star of my very own. The book is Breakfast at Tiffany's

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Literary Musings -- On the Road

Hello, everyone! Instead of writing a full post here, I'd like to direct you to another website I contribute to, Thinking Through Christianity, for my post about Kerouac's On the Road for Thinking Through Christianity's participation in National Book Month.

While you're still here, I'd also like to direct you to my show calendar, where we have a few shows listed for October and November that I'm really excited about, two of which take place at Coffeehouse Cafe -- a great place to enjoy yummy food and fall beverages now that the weather's turned autumnal.

That's all for today!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Happy Friday with hugging kittens

I don't have a lot to say this week (as evidenced by my relative blog silence). But if this picture of hugging kittens doesn't make you have a happy Friday, then I don't know what will:

See all the pictures, here.

In other news, the next "Dallas Does" show will be Dallas does Simon and Garfunkel on the day after Thanksgiving. So you can go do your crazy Black Friday shopping, then come listen to some really great music. I think I'm more excited about this one than any of the others -- Simon and Garfunkel is one of my favorite groups. So, there's another thing to make your Friday happy.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Weekend Recap

I doubt there was a warmer, cozier place to be in all of Dallas than Opening Bell last Saturday for Dallas Does the music of James Taylor and Carole King. In spite of the rain and the falling temperatures, the place was packed with smiling faces. We saw lots of old friends, made some new ones, and enjoyed classic songs like "Fire and Rain," "You've got a friend," "It's too late, baby," and "I feel the earth move" (we played that one). My favorite moment was brought to us by Julie Anne Turner, who led the audience in a sing-along of a chorus of "Shower the People." Her rendition is the first time I've truly enjoyed that song (perhaps because I wasn't distracted by the "thee"s where there should have been "thuh"s, but also because Julie Anne is wonderful). I also thoroughly enjoyed hearing some of the lesser-known James Taylor songs, performed beautifully by the other artists on the roster.

As wonderful as all that was, my favorite music of the evening came not from the Taylor/King covers, but from the original songs that everyone performed after going through all the King/Taylor sets.  Each artist brought excellent original music and performed it well -- if you didn't already know, there is a lot of talent in Dallas! What a testament to the enduring influence of pioneering singer-songwriters like James Taylor and Carole King. After folks like Dylan created the genre of singer-songwriter, Taylor, King, and their contemporaries firmly established it as a category of popular music, and all of us who participated in Saturday night's festivities have them to thank.

Speaking of thanks, I'm thankful to the amazing Steve Jackson for setting the event up (and treating us to his original songs at the end of the evening), to Opening Bell Coffee for hosting with their lovely atmosphere and chai lattes,  and, most of all, to the guests and friends and fans who slogged through the rain and the bad traffic (that's kind of like going through fire and rain) just to make it there. Thanks for making it a great evening.