Friday, August 01, 2008

So, a family thing coupled with a trip to the ER meant my birthday trip was cut short, but that's cool. More time to soak the Western PA love. To wit - the Newmen show at Brother Bean Saturday.

It's the last Friday of the month which means it's time for a local artist Top 10 List. Each month a different local artist drops off a list of the top ten things that currently fascinate them. Interested in playing along? Drop me a note and we'll figure something out.

July is Justin Parson's turn. Parson doesn't play out as much as many of us would like. His gritty soulful voice and wry, mature observations fill his songwriting and performance with a sensibility far removed from what you might classify as your typical singer-songwriter coffeehouse sorta guy. Beyond that he's a great human being with a fantastically charming wife and well behaved children. Although enormously talented, he's so grounded that he recently told me over a quiet drink, "I have no desire to be famous".

Top Ten list…

Moxie – a decidedly non-local choice. As a matter of fact, there are only 2 places in PA that you can even buy the stuff – a beer distributor in Glendale and in Catawissa, where they still bottle it in glass. Moxie is a soda brewed like rootbeer, except they use gentian root, which adds a slightly bitter, if not medicinal aftertaste. Yum.

Darren Weimert – this guy did all of the album art, poster art, etc. for Big Jack Earl. His work was amazing then and is still so today. He has recently been working on projects for much larger/popular bands. Ah, good times.

Erie Railbender – When I don’t brew it myself, I prefer Railbender. It’s malty (which my wife likes) and hoppy (which I like). Okay, it’s more malty. But at 6.8%, who cares? Not me because I’m drinking one right now.

Buff’s Ice Cream – A long time Brookville establishment that has great ice cream. But what keeps me walking down the street is their Homebrewed rootbeer. It’s smooth, creamy, spicy, tangy, and over a giant scoop of homemade vanilla, it’s as close to Valhalla as I’ll ever get.

Tree by Leaf/Sunlight in Architecture/Garrett Soucy – All the brainchildren of longtime friend Garrett Soucy, these groups keep churning out consistently smart, thought-provoking folk music. Recently returning to his roots in fundamental Christianity, Garrett is the most intense conversationalist that I know, and that comes across in his music as well. They used to have this great mandolin player…

Cormac McCarthy – Hands down, my favorite living author. His blatant disregard for punctuation and regular grammatical protocol, not to mention his disdain of syntax, allow his characters to breathe. His settings are voluminous. His narration is truncated. He writes as if he’s observing the action and merely records the violent, wicked, and heroic figments of his imagination. Plus, I liked him before the Coen brothers did.

Bella Cucina – It’s useful when your wife’s favorite restaurant is also your own. Do they brew their own beer? No. Do they have a casual, relaxing atmosphere? Eh. Is their food consistently creative, fresh, seasonal, local, surprising? You bet your bottom dollar. Skip the dinner crowd and head there for lunch. Cheaper. But still delicious.

McSweeney’s Internet Tendency – The ultimate Internet time-waster for the literary-minded. Hilarious lists, dramatic monologues from random film characters on current events, food reviews, letters to rock stars. It’s the type of reader-submitted content that one wishes they were mentally dexterous enough to contribute to. Strongly recommended are John Moe’s Pop Star Correspondences.

The Onion – I know. The Onion has been franchised with about as much consideration as McDonald’s or Coke, but one should never underestimate the power of satire in an increasingly grown-up world. Great Britain had John Swift. We’ve got Doyle Redland.

Lost – I know, I know. It’s as close to a night at the movies as we get these days. A glass of wine, turn off the lights, and suddenly it doesn’t matter that the stars of the show are plastered over every mass-media outlet that exists. Constant literary references, mixed up with metaphysical and spiritual mumbo-jumbo, build up a fairly incomprehensible labyrinth that is more mental exercise than a freshman lit course.

Befriend Justin Parson and check out his music on MySpace

A very happy birthday to Linda Henderson, one of the driving forces behind Oil City's Lationia Theatre Renovation.

Upcoming Show of Interest:

Newmen will be selling their $5 new EP at the Brother Bean show Saturday from 7-9 pm. No cover. Additionally, the counseling office in the same building as Brother Bean will be hosting an open house at the same time featuring door prizes and free food. Which makes it a wildly cheap date.

What have I left out? What's on your must-see list?

How to Create a Stop Motion Animation

The Franklin Public Library will hold Introductory Classes on Using the Foundation Grants to Individuals online databases on Monday August 11th from 6:30-7:30 pm and Saturday August 16th from 2-3 pm. The class is free, but you must register at 814-432-5062 You can also check out their blog.

The Clarion County Library System will be sponsoring the third annual Summer Reading Program Benefit Auction and is in search of talented painters and decorators to help us out. This year they have a variety of wooden items in a wide range of sizes that we would like to be painted to the theme of a children's book of one's choice. Some of the items include medium sized bar stools, step stools, chairs (both large and small), and a wooden ironing board -- just to name a few.

The auction is scheduled to take place on Friday, November 7 at the American Legion, Main Street, Clarion. Doors open at 6:30 PM, auction begins at 7:30 PM. All artists will receive two complimentary tickets (valued at $10/each). There will be appetizers and cash bar. Music and dancing to follow auction.

For more information, contact Jessica Modrzejewski at 814.226.6340 or via email.

Gigapan is a CMU project to create an inexpensive robotic device to take vast photographic panaromas. Cehck out Pittsburgh's Point on the splash page

Phoenix is developing a fixed gear culture. Have I mentioned my lust for the Bianchi San Jose?

And just like that, I found my dream job.

I swear, if I had one of these, I would record every show I went to. After asking nicely, 'natch.

Free and Legal Downloads:

The Conet Project - Recordings of Shortwave Numbers Stations [ird059] (0)

Come Tomorrow 2008 Blue Orange Records international electro indie pop compilation

Cowboy Junkies Live at Tupelo Music Hall on July 27, 2008

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals Live at Soldier's Memorial on July 25, 2008

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