November 20, 2015

Fuel/Friends is 10 years old today (we got the means to make amends)

Ten years: On Josh Ritter, Pearl Jam, and finding my voice

Blue_candles_on_birthday_cake

Homecoming – Josh Ritter

I feel a change in the weather
I feel a change in me…

A decade ago today, I sat at my kitchen table on my pink Dell laptop in my new hometown of suburban Colorado Springs and I started writing a new blogspot called “I Am Fuel, You Are Friends,” named after a favorite Pearl Jam song. I never thought more than a handful of people would read it, but I had things I wanted to say that were withering in the silence of my kitchen.

And so I decided to write. For me, for music, for you, even though I didn’t know you yet.

Days are getting shorter
and the birds begin to leave
Even me, yes yes y’all
who has been so long alone
I’m headed home
headed home…

It’s ten years (and almost ten million pageviews?!) later, and I am so far now from where I was then. You’ve all been the best part of that long road, hands down. These last few weeks as the leaves change in Colorado, I’ve been listening to a lot of the new Josh Ritter album, Sermon On The Rocks. The parts of life that were withering ten years ago are growing in golden and full. The lyrics throughout this post are from his perfect song of homecoming, which has become my anthem in this season.

Lift the valley from the floor honey
little town into the sky
they’ll say that it’s a miracle
and you’ll know damn well they’re right…

Yesterday morning as the sun rose, I was driving along under golden branches that line my street and listening to Josh Ritter sing about his homecoming. I realized that this has been a sweet season for me of coming somewhat unexpectedly to a home within myself. I know Josh has been through similarly rough seas in the last few years, and this record is one where we both sing along to the idea of seeing land, of finding home.

I realized with a start that this is what I wished for a decade ago when I named this blog, even though I didn’t know it yet: Will myself to find a home, a home within myself; we will find a way. All of a sudden, I realized I’d found it — and I’d found it in the gratitude, in refusing to abandon wonder.

Nights are getting colder now
the air is getting crisp
I first tasted the universe on a night like this

So, I’m writing this from a different kitchen table, in a different house, and I am aware of how full it is to bursting. Full with the sound of clocks ticking from different rooms tracking the avalanche of a gift of moments. I hear the coffee pot whooshing quietly and the baseboard heaters gently clinking as they fill my house with warmth, with comfort. This morning I sat in the glowing dawn and stroked the still-soft cheek of my twelve year old son who is getting bigger every minute, I realized the overwhelming sweetness of living every moment as if it is the last time you get to do it. I wondered what the last time was that I picked him up and held him in my arms before he got too big.

I feel a change in the weather; I feel a change in me.


I also want tell you about how this has been a year of reconciliation for me, because I think it’s important to suture up hurts from old wounds and letting them heal. In March I was in Buenos Aires to visit a university program there and I found myself in the company of a wonderful human named Fede who has been reading this blog since back in 2006–almost the very beginning. He first found me through a Google search on Pearl Jam lyrics, and after almost a decade of following my meanderings from a different continent, he welcomed me to his city as more of a longtime friend than a tourist.

As we walked around that vibrant, gorgeous city of Buenos Aires that expansive Saturday, we kept talking about Pearl Jam, each knowing all the same details before the other person even finished the beginning of the sentence. We mused about specific live renditions of songs, the precise date of our first times seeing the band (11/4/95 and 10/25/2005, respectively) and what the first song they played at that show was, Ten Club Christmas singles album art, and the relative merits of their different drummers. We both remembered what Stone and Jeff were wearing in that picture Rolling Stone published during the Department of Justice hearings over Ticketmaster (pink button-down, backwards hat, dopey looks).

Drive east of Eden
’til we’d start to feel the west
we were never far from nowhere
you could see it from the edge…

Maybe it was just the liminality inherent in travel, but that was a wide-open day of different perspective for me. We sat at a cafe by the river and the conversation drifted towards the topic of anger in the world in general. “I don’t believe in anger anymore,” Fede mused in his soft voice. “I don’t know the point of it.”

I confess, you guys: I’ve been darkly angry and hurt for years about the falling out I had with Pearl Jam (or more accurately their management). It’s been years of letting a little sharp hard pebble of being wronged sit in my gut and burrow in and fester. At the time that all happened, I felt justified in my indignation because I really believed that fan enthusiasm was valuable and inherently good, and mine felt rejected — sealed with a legal cease and desist order. And that stunk. I felt small and maltreated in some other substantial areas of my life too at that point, and so the whole Pearl Jam debacle just got tangled up in the stinging sandstorm.

But I started thinking about Fede’s comments about anger as we walked, and the futility of it all, especially as we get older. As both of us ate helado and glowed to talk about the songs that we have both flowered up towards for so long, I remembered all the reasons why I loved Pearl Jam in the first place, the fervent and pure sentiments that made me want to name this blog after their song lyrics. They have played a huge role in my life, in my formation, in my musical raison d’être. And so in one very specific moment this spring, walking down a narrow Buenos Aires street, I decided to reconcile with Pearl Jam. I’ve carried that pebble of indignation around long enough, I don’t even recognize it anymore.

Fede and I made plans for me to find a copy of Cameron Crowe’s PJ20 documentary once I got back to Colorado (since I hadn’t seen it), and to watch together on FaceTime with a bottle of red wine each. As we watched the documentary, all my synapses blissed out. I was reminded of who I had been. I sang all the words, and remembered songs I hadn’t thought of in years. It may have been the entire bottle of Argentinian Malbec in me, but towards the end I cried.

The reconciliation, the homecoming, felt really good.


I’m winding up new posts on this blog (after we share the last couple of wonderful chapel sessions) and I don’t want to go out with jagged edges; I don’t want to go out with any part small and bitter. I’ve found more connection and open-hearted joy and insight through the process of writing this blog for the last ten years than I ever could have imagined. I found my voice here (in a million important ways), and I feel profoundly fortunate to have gotten to share music that I love with you. We’ve been illuminated together, I hope — stars against the dark of cynicism.

Fuel/Friends gave me the means, and now the amends have been made. The fiery gyre that I felt chewing up my insides a decade ago, as my big, bright thoughts about music fell silent into the abyss, has ceased– and been replaced by a flourishing community of flesh-and-blood people that I tend to talk to more with my voice these days instead of my keystrokes. I may write every now and then in the future, but I feel like the time when I needed it is more distant every day, and I’m turning inward, coming home to myself.

Would you leave me a comment if you have a story about your engagement with Fuel/Friends from these last ten years that I don’t know? Writing into the ether is liberating and lovely, and also often anonymous. Some of my most worthwhile moments of the last decade have been connecting with all the beautiful individual humans who have listened and read along all these years.

I want to say thank you for — igniting things that matter along with me, for collectively recognizing the beauty and magic in music all around us, and for being friends.

It’s OK (Dead Moon cover) – Pearl Jam
“Sing loud ’cause it’s outside / sing loud ’cause you’re still alive.”
Virginia Beach, August 3, 2000

The air is getting colder now
the nights are getting crisp

I first tasted the universe on a night like this


shows_ive_seenStay tuned for information about the final Fuel/Friends Chapel Session recording, which you are all invited to, and the Fuel/Friends Last Waltz concert that night — bringing together as many chapel session alums as want to make the journey out to Colorado. Let’s try to find a time and do this right.

ritter-sermon

June 2, 2009

there’s a war outside still raging / …it ain’t ours anymore to win

I spoke with a representative from the Pearl Jam Ten Club management today on the phone for about thirty minutes, responding back to a voicemail he left on my cell phone yesterday shortly after my amended post went up, saying they were “saddened” by the developments and asking if I would please call them back. Yesterday was a long day, and life being what it is, I had real-job responsibilities to finish up and a sunburned little kindergartener to pick up from summer camp, so I didn’t get a chance to call them back until lunch hour today. A lot of spiraling has happened since then, all over the internet.

Ultimately I will concede that Pearl Jam has the right to control the way that their material is heard by and unveiled to the fans, and my opinion about how they should make business decisions (which they are simply that — business decisions) is not as important to the rest of the world as it is to me. Fair enough. They have a plan, and crappy-quality fan recordings are not part of that plan anymore.

Yesterday I amended the original post to remove reference to censorship, as I learned more about what unfolded. The deleted written posts around the internet stemmed from a violation of the non-disclosure agreement regarding the deal and commercial with Target for exclusive big-box distribution of their new album, a model that they have worked on for years and are excited about. Pearl Jam wanted it to be unveiled “properly.” Rather than adapt and unveil this news on Friday when rumors of the shoot started leaking, management made the decision to quell discussion until they could release the information on Monday in the manner they had intended. Again, fair enough. Their decision.

We discussed the band’s change in policy, from the years of supported cassette trading among fans to a bigger, brighter, shinier internet that disseminates information to millions with a click, and how this affects the way that their new music is experienced. The term he used was “opening the presents before Christmastime.” My opinions on the effects of hearing live, pre-release fan recordings differs from that of the band and the management.

As this blog has grown, I have found myself with a leg in both worlds of the fandom where this all began and the industry side, and I’m not always quite sure where my personal enthusiasm stops and responsibility to whatever platform I have must begin. After some initial unfortunate very harsh words in the phone call (apparently Fuel/Friends is, and I quote, “a shitty blog”), the representative of the band reiterated that the support of fans and sites like mine are “very important” to the band and to the Ten Club, and asked if there was anything they could do to amend the breakup.

Ultimately what I take away from the conversation (other than reluctantly tear-streaked cheeks) is that I can see the perspective of a man and a business that is trying to make it work for them as well. We simply have two very different vantage points: that of the fans who will always want more and more in our excitement, and that of the band trying to manage a career purposefully and deliberately, on their terms. Ultimately, they win and don’t owe me anything. It’s their band, their decisions.

I guess sometimes we think that earnest fandom means we can do whatever we want as bloggers, and enthusiasm will smooth over a multitude of transgressions. And it’s not always so in an increasingly legalized internet world. I must have been hasty to publicize –or frankly even have– personal feelings about all this when, to them, I think it’s just business.

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May 31, 2009

Pearl Jam’s got something new going on (but you can’t hear it)

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I’ve reached my limit, and I’m breaking up with Pearl Jam.

Their New York City lawyers contacted me today, telling me to remove the fan-recorded file of a new song below, which was captured outside the venue door at a recent secret show. This is the third time during the lifespan of this blog that I have been contacted by Pearl Jam or their representatives to remove something from my site that they feel is objectionable — always a live fan recording of something we’re all stoked to hear, and always a post that has come from a place of earnest and enthusiastic fandom. Well, I’m tired of fandom.

Even more disturbing than the crackdown on the live recordings that Pearl Jam has long embraced is the fact that, according to multiple sources, the internet is being vigorously scoured of all forms of even TALK about this new song and the recording session that happened on Thursday. This post vanished, leaving only the Google cache to remember it. This girl deleted hers. Threads on the message board are vaporized. And holy mackerel, I just went to reference the Rolling Stone post and the entire thing from this morning has vanished. 404 error. File not found.

This type of suppression of information seems to be their chosen mode of operating as a band over the last few years, and it is leaving me with a bitter taste in my mouth. I’m not sure what has changed with them. I can’t defend them anymore. I also must say that as one of the few voices in the independent blogosphere that even seems to care about what Pearl Jam is doing with any urgency, their kindness and support for genuine fandom would be most consistent with what I always understood their punk-inspired ethos to be.

The new song is out there, the horse is through the gate, Elvis has left the building — and in 2009 it is futile to undo it. Seize the buzz, Pearl Jam. Acknowledge the fans that have stuck with you for over fifteen years. In ten hours everyone’s gonna have heard the new song on Conan anyways, if you perform it. The only people interested in the fan recording are the passionate uberfans who will follow everything you do anyways. I would stoke those fires if I were you, not run around trying to smother to death everyone who dares talk about it. So few of my generation care passionately about what you are doing these days, and think that you are relevant and potent.

I’m saddened to say it ain’t gonna be me anymore.

[UPDATE]



Pearl Jam took to the stage Thursday at Seattle’s famed Showbox to rock a brand new song, while Cameron Crowe (Cameron Crowe!) filmed it. Stealth audio from one of the extras sounds like this:

Something’s Going On – Pearl Jam
(we’re guessing on the title — could also be “The Fixer”)



Soaring, melodic, tightly-wound, and fiercely rocking — color me pleased. Read more details here. Now maybe we know what they will play tomorrow night on the Conan Tonight Show premiere!

May 13, 2009

The Pearl Jam 2008 Christmas single for this California girl

pj-2008-single

The Pearl Jam “Christmas” single for 2008 is just starting to hit mailboxes worldwide, a scant five months late. As I’ve said before, punctuality has never been a reason to love these fanclub-only vinyl singles that Pearl Jam records almost each year since 1991.

Simply put, I am having a small seizure of happiness.

As a California girl, when I saw that the songs on this year’s release are “The Golden State” (a John Doe cover with Corin Tucker of Sleater-Kinney) and a brand new original Pearl Jam song called “Santa Cruz,” my heart beat in triple-time. I grew up in San Jose, just forty-five minutes and over the green mountains from the beach town of Santa Cruz. This naively feels like a gift just for me, a soundtrack to the terrain I love and miss.

2008 PEARL JAM CHRISTMAS SINGLE
Golden State (featuring Corin Tucker) – Pearl Jam
Santa Cruz – Pearl Jam



The lyrics to the harmonica-laced “Santa Cruz” couldn’t be any better for my insides; I can almost see the redwoods flashing past, and smell the salty air of the ocean as we approach over Highway 17. I’ve driven it so many times.

Santa Cruz
Heading south the compass reads
Look at our speed, we’re going 63
Look out the window as the trees go green
I look at them and they look at me

I got Neil Young on the stereo
He comes along whenever I go
There’s something different as I hear him now
Heading south on a familiar route

I can feel the lifting of my blues
I can see a wide horizon loom
I got the feeling I just can’t lose
Pulling into Santa Cruz

I got an old friend, he remembers me
From way back when we were seventeen
We’ve got kids and we’re older now
But when I see him we’re still seventeen

I need the beach to set me free
I need the wind to make me breathe
I need the water to wash my soul
I need my loved ones to let me go

I can feel the lifting of my blues
I can see a wide horizon loom
I got the feeling that I just can’t lose
Pulling into Santa Cruz.

Up in the Northwest we’ve got it good
A little soggy, but we’ve got it good
Can’t help thinking that I wish I would
Move my ass down to Santa Cruz

I got a feeling I don’t wanna lose
Pulling into Santa Cruz




I saw Pearl Jam play a secret show in Santa Cruz back in 1997, so the A-side feels like coming home to a nice time in my life.

The unaffected love song b-side of “Golden State” is a different version than the one that appeared on the John Doe Golden State EP, with less reverb and a sweet acoustic purity to the harmonies.



Well, that was worth the wait.



pj-2008-single-back

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March 31, 2009

“I loved Ten when it came out, rocked the tape till it popped.”

I was asked if I was interested in covering a pearl jam song by mtv2. I thought it was funny that they wanted to include me, being a rapper and all, but I wanted to take a shot at it. I loved ten when it came out, rocked the tape till it popped. One of my favorites on it was why go, none of the bands they asked had picked it yet so I did. I thought about reworking the original lyrics into a rap kind of situation, but then I was playing the melody on one of my keyboards and thought it might be more fun to just straight cover it. So I did. It was fun. I hope you likes it.” – P.O.S.

P.O.S.was among artists picked to cover Pearl Jam in celebration of the re-release of Ten.

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March 2, 2009

this would be so much easier if i were on drugs (new PJ contest!)

pj-ten-game

http://www.pearljamtengame.com

If someone can either explain to me how to crack the new Pearl Jam 3D Rubix Cube Matrix game, or give me some private lessons, or possibly powerful mind-clarifying substances — that would be much appreciated. To not excel at something Pearl-Jam-related is maddening. Ha. At least the soundtrack is good… if I could get past level one it might be even better.

Pearl Jam is reissuing 1991′s Ten this month, and I am very excited to have one of the Legacy Editions to give away in my first official Pearl Jam contest. Whee! Been waiting for this since I was 13.

NEW CONTEST:
Win a Ten Legacy Edition (2-disc set in mini-LP style slipcase)

· Disc 1: original Ten tracklisting digitally remastered (original mix)
· Disc 2: original Ten tracklisting digitally remastered and remixed by Brendan O’Brien, plus six bonus tracks: “Brother,” “Just a Girl,” “State of Love and Trust,” “Breath,” “2,000 Mile Blues” and “Evil Little Goat”
· Re-designed packaging

pj-legacy-prize

If you’d like to enter to win, leave me a comment with your favorite Pearl Jam moment from any of their songs — live version, album version, full stanza, exhalation, guitar solo, scream — have at it. I just mostly like talking about this stuff. The various rad reissues come out March 24th, and this contest runs through Sunday night.



Also, speaking of Brendan O’Brien and his remix work on the reissue, I was just reading tonight in the Rolling Stone with the (excellent & eloquent) Sean Penn interview about O’Brien’s reprisal on the new PJ album due later this year, and I hear a fall tour may be in the works. A September show in Colorado would be so nice, don’t you think? Hmm.

June 23, 2008

A song from WAY before he was born

Last night in DC, Pearl Jam brought a kid from the front row up on stage to play Ed’s guitar on “All Along The Watchtower” (assumedly so Ed could be free to ricochet about the stage with his tambourines). I’d say that could be a fairly memorable moment in a kid’s musical shaping — and much cooler than anything I did at 13. Oh wait, or since.

No audio from last night’s set, but this live version of Watchtower from San Francisco in 2006 is still one of my favorites (“And I’m not sure why but this feels like a San Francisco song, and uh, I think we’re gonna play the shit out of it.”):

All Along The Watchtower (live in SF 7-18-06) – Pearl Jam

The picture above was taken coincidentally by my pal Rob, who got in touch with me after I posted that Counting Crows live show in Boulder from 1993. After all those teenage years of mine listening to that boot on cassette, I find that Rob is the one who taped it. Small world. Thanks for the pic, Rob!

UPDATE: Rob is traveling to these shows with his friend Zack, who’s writing a Pearl Jam tour blog for SPIN Magazine. Check out Off He Goes: On The Road With Pearl Jam.

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April 11, 2008

Lucky stars in your eyes :: Eddie Vedder in Berkeley, 04/07/08

Trying to remember, but my feelings can’t know for sure
Try to reach out, but it’s gone
Lucky stars in your eyes
…”

With those lyrics, Eddie Vedder took the stage Monday night in Berkeley with a rare Daniel Johnston cover that I’ve heard only a handful of times since 1994. Sitting on a gorgeous set with actual decoration and design (old suitcases, projection machine, gold lamé wings, a backdrop facade with abstract buildings of wood, later lifted to reveal blue skies) Vedder strolled out, hung his coat up on a hook like he was entering his living room, and sat down with us for over two hours.

Thanks to the good people at the Ten Club, I was in Row C and felt intimately engaged in Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall (capacity 2089) with its pristine, warm acoustics. Given the amount of banter back from the crowd, maybe the acoustics were too good. Maybe we can work out the one-way directional acoustics somehow. More on that later.

Accompanied with an arsenal of guitars, ukuleles, a banjo, and an amplified footboard, Vedder’s set was a far-reaching collection of solo tunes from the Into The Wild soundtrack, unreleased songs and covers, with only a handful of standard Pearl Jam tunes — and many of those deep cuts from the back catalog. It was really a delight for this fan to see material I had never heard live, and Vedder’s voice sounded rich and golden and pure.

There was little variation from the setlists of previous nights, so anyone who had read a review in the paper or trolled the boards online knew what was coming next. I would have liked to see a little bit more changeup from night to night, as there are so many great songs he could have explored, but I am not complaining.

The soaring “I Am Mine” is a favorite song, and it was gorgeous to hear early on in the night, as was the rare “Dead Man” from the Penn film soundtrack (Sean Penn was there both nights, I hear). Dead Man was the very first song I ever saw Vedder perform, in a solo pre-set at the San Jose show in 1995, so it was a somber treat to see it again. The rarely heard “I’m Open” from 1996′s No Code was played as a modified version that left out the spoken word bit about a man lying in bed in a room with no door (good call there, Ed).

“Man of the Hour” did a phosphorescent slow-burn with its malleable melody and honey-rich vocals, while “Porch” was not something I was expecting, and completely rocked my face off. Ed’s furiously strumming arm was a rapid-fire blur of heart and urgency, and I found myself (quietly!) singing along to every word and meaning it. That’s my favorite song off Ten on most days, one of the few songs off that album that I could hear a good number more times live. It was nice to hear a rocker in with the acoustic stuff. And Lukin!! Acoustic performances of Lukin are something I never fail to get a kick out of.

The conversational tone of the evening led to some interesting storytelling on Ed’s part between songs, filling in details that I hadn’t known before. During the explanation of the West Memphis Three situation (tickets were auctioned off for each show to support their legal defense fund), Ed led into the extremely rare song “Satellite” that I had never even heard before Monday night, saying it was written for the wife of one of the West Memphis Three, Damien Echols. She was in attendance Monday night, and Ed performed the love song he wrote just for her and Damien.

Satellite – Eddie Vedder
(an especially nice live premiere from 2002)

Despite Ed’s requests for mitigation of the constant barrage of comments from the small crowd, the living room feel proved too enticing for many who wanted a chance to converse with their idol in that quiet setting. Vedder first quoted Tom Waits in a gruff imitation, saying Waits had once revealed to him that “silence is like a blank piece of paper,” then later telling the yellers a bit more blatantly to “shut the fuck up,” to little avail. From song requests to comments about everything from presidential candidates (wait, he’s supporting Obama?! Shocker) to general supportive “We love you” sentiments, I kept really wishing people would please just sit quietly and listen to the man I came to hear. I’m all for enthusiasm but it got a bit much after a thousand times.

One guy did yell after “Guaranteed” that Ed should’ve won an Academy Award, to which Ed humorously mused that he had been watching VH1 ‘I Love the 80s’ special recently, and had seen that the Ghostbusters theme won an Oscar in 1985. “That song I just played you is not as good as Ghostbusters,” he said with a smile, “but I’m going to keep trying.” Ed also threw in some pretty horrifying song lyrics from a Bay Area punk band called the Yeastie Girls, during a conversation about Fugazi. The words yeast and girls should really never ever be used in a sentence together, much less a band name. Please and thank you.

After an amazing run of well-selected cover songs, Ed closed his first encore with the vocal loopings of the song “Arc” from 2002′s Riot Act. The piece incorporates layers of wordless vocalizations, and was written for the 9 Pearl Jam fans killed in the crowd during the tragic happenings of the 2000 Roskilde festival. In 2003, Pearl Jam played this song at 9 shows, one show for each of the victims. It is rarely-played, a raw and haunting piece that echoed on after the blue velvet curtain closed and Ed left the stage.

After lengthy applause, Ed brought back out opener Liam Finn and accompaniment from Eliza-Jane Barnes, along with Marin County songwriter Jerry Hannan (who had joined him earlier to help perform his song “Society”) for a rousing version of “Hard Sun.” The security guards were being prison-guard-tough for the whole set on photos or video, patrolling the aisles every three minutes, giving sharp looks and pointed finger threats to fans who dared desire to capture the moment for posterity or for their music blog. But during Hard Sun, the crowd overflowed down to fill the aisles and I was able to capture a bit of that joyous closer for you, complete with Eddie-the-Pearl-Jam-frontman air jump on the final guitar chord:

EDDIE VEDDER SOLO SETLIST
BERKELEY 4/7/08
Walking The Cow (Daniel Johnston)
Around The Bend
I Am Mine
Dead Man
I’m Open
Man of the Hour
Setting Forth
Guaranteed
No Ceiling
Far Behind
Rise
Millworker (James Taylor)
Goodbye
Satellite
Drifting
You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away (Lennon, McCartney)
Here’s To The State (Phil Ochs)
Trouble (Cat Stevens)
If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out (Cat Stevens)
Parting Ways
Forever Young (Bob Dylan)
Porch
Society, with Jerry Hannan
Growin Up (Bruce Springsteen)
Lukin
No More
Arc
Hard Sun, with Liam Finn, Eliza-Jane Barnes and Jerry Hannan (Gordon Peterson)

(AUDIO FILES REMOVED BY REQUEST OF THE TEN CLUB)

Other notes:
**I didn’t arrive early enough to snag a limited edition poster, but there were some very cool playbills being given out at the door with details on the show, artwork, and all the relevant causes and musicians. But PJ fans got greedy and took more than one apiece. After some Robin-Hood-like thievery from those with plenty, I went home a happy girl with my own ill-gotten souvenir. I didn’t do the swiping but I can’t say I turned down the gains.

**24-year old New Zealander opener Liam Finn was energetic (almost spastic, in a wonderfully unbridled and enthusiastic way) as he worked through material from his solo debut album I’ll Be Lightning. His music has strong melodic sensibilities (not unlike his dad Neil Finn) but he also really had an edge on the rhythms, with the proclivity to lapse into some rock and roll shrieks. He was out signing things after his set, and I told him I enjoyed watching him on the drums. A reader compared him to Animal from the Muppets, all flailing limbs and furry faced. I would see him again.

**One of my faithful readers is an Iraq veteran named Josh who recently wrote me an immensely moving and humbling email to tell me how much my words and music had meant to him while he was in the desert, flying Blackhawk medic missions and trying to save kids’ lives. Josh and his wife flew out from where he is currently stationed in Hawaii specifically for the Berkeley shows, as an anniversary gift to each other, and a vacation before he undergoes surgery for a broken back sustained in Iraq. Josh was in row 2 with his back brace, and one of the most moving moments of the night for me was when he and his wife stood silently together for the entire performance of “No More.” I felt overwhelmed.

**Finally . . . near midnight on Tuesday night, I was on the train heading back from an awesome Giants game (man I’ve missed that ballpark) and I get a frantic breathless call from my friend Sam, telling me that Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready had just showed up at night two. Apparently during the encore, Vedder started musing, “I’ve got Jeff Ament’s rug, Stone Gossard’s guitar, Matt’s drum… but I didn’t have anything from Mike McCready . . . so I Fedex’d him out.” Then they rolled Mike out on a cart, and the two went on to play All Along The Watchtower and Yellow Ledbetter together. Ha! Sean Penn also joined in on the jubilee, a bit oddly (does he sing?).

More than anything, I’d say these shows are great because of the sense of fun and experimentation, a chance to explore some musical ground that we haven’t seen. I’m heartened and glad to see Ed in such a good place.

[Vedder stills credit SFGate]

March 27, 2008

Vedder plays $5 secret shows in West Seattle

One of the things I am most looking forward to about seeing Ed Vedder solo next Monday in Berkeley is the variety of rare and semi-rare tunes I’m hoping he’ll play. I’ve seen Pearl Jam so many times that they’d have to dig quite deep to throw something I’d never seen, but within the framework of a solo setting there are many songs that I’d love to see live for the first time.

Judging from the setlists at the two secret shows Vedder played to fewer than 150 people this past Monday and Tuesday night at Kenyon Hall in West Seattle (tickets for an “Into The Wild event” were sold for $5 at indie record store Easy Street), I could be in for some pretty rad selections.

Here are (other live versions of) a few tunes he played at the shows this week:

THE “SOLO VEDDER HYPOTHETICAL SETLIST 2008″ MIX
Walkin’ The Cow (Daniel Johnston cover, Bridge School 1994)
Around The Bend (live Bridge School 2006)
I Am Mine (live Bridge School 2004)
Dead Man (live, Not In Our Name Benefit 1998)
Broken Hearted (live at the Wiltern Theatre 2002)
You’re True (live at the Wiltern Theatre 2002)
Goodbye (live at UCLA 2002)
Trouble (Cat Stevens cover, live)
Picture In A Frame (Tom Waits cover, Bridge School 2006)
Won’t Back Down (Tom Petty cover, live in 93-ish)
Forever Young (Dylan cover, 5.24.06)
I Used To Work In Chicago (Bridge School 06)
Millworker (James Taylor cover, live in 2004)
Drifting (live in Mansfield, MA, 2003)
You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away (Chicago 5.16.06)
Growin’ Up (Springsteen cover, live in 2003)

ZIP: “SOLO VEDDER HYPOTHETICAL SETLIST 2008″ MIX

[Late addition/not in the zip] – Patriot!! Thanks to the comments, I’m gonna post up a few versions here of one of my favorite covers that Pearl Jam does, and add my voice to the small chorus suggesting this for the solo shows. Such a fantastic song.

Patriot (punked out version, Tibetan Freedom Concert 6/13/99)
Patriot (acoustic, Madison Square Garden 10/13/00)
Patriot (all reworked, live in 2003)

March 20, 2008

Pearl Jam announce East Coast summer tour dates

Nerdy superfans have been awaiting a big announcement of some sort from Pearl Jam today, crashing the message boards in the process somehow. Once the site got up and running again, there were some new tour dates announced for this summer!

The face-meltingly rad Kings of Leon will be opening the first four dates, and Ted Leo & The Pharmacists the others. I would travel to see Kings of Leon with PJ; South Carolina anyone? I’ve always wanted to go.

We’re also hoping that this might be the first leg only of a larger nationwide tour.

PEARL JAM TOUR 2008
June 11 – West Palm, FL Cruzan Amphitheatre
June 12 – Tampa, FL St Pete Times Forum
June 13-15 – Manchester, TN Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival
June 16 – Columbia, SC Colonial Center
June 17 – Virginia Beach, VA Verizon Amphitheater
June 19 – Camden, NJ Susquehanna Bank Center
June 22 – Washington, DC Verizon Center
June 24 – New York, NY Madison Square Garden
June 25 – New York, NY Madison Square Garden
June 27 – Hartford, CT Dodge Amphitheater
June 30 – Mansfield, MA Tweeter Center

Let’s See Action (live) – Eddie Vedder & Pete Townshend

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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