Archive for April, 2011

Cee Lo at the Touhill

This review on the KDHX blog sums it up fairly accurately. Blogged Cee Lo Green‘s show at UMSL‘s Touhill Performing Arts Center started slowly. Opener Hoodie Allen had a somewhat favorable review in the KDHX post, but I disagree. His language was filthy, but boring. His rhymes were not special to me. To his disadvantage, the sound was awful in the upper tier where H and I sat.

Then we waited for Cee Lo. His backing band consisted of four women called Scarlet Fever. The show started off with hard rock. I had not realized how rock Cee Lo had become. He had a good set with Goodie Mob members. I have to echo the KDHX criticisms about bad sound and annoyance with using a backing track for some of the later numbers. Some earlier version of the KDHX post mentioned three women who danced in the balcony throughout the show. I was seated behind them. I was bothered for a while, but eventually I did not mind. It took most of the crowd, including me, a while to start enjoying it even though Cee Lo looked like he was putting a lot into the show. We got to hear “Crazy” and “F*** You” by the end, though, and everybody seemed happy.

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Michael M. on April 24th 2011 in General, Live, Music

Winning Earth Day

As planned, I entered the Green Strum Project Band Scramble at St. Louis Earth Day with H. The weather was perfect. Blogged friend Ryan Spearman is behind the Green Strum Project with his wife Kelly Wells. As luck had it, H and I ended up on the same team with two other friends. We brought our own fiddles, but we did not need them. We played two cigar box guitars, an olive oil can slide banjo and a salt canister fiddle. H and I constructed the salt canister fiddle using a board for the neck, a salt canister for the resonator, an orange juice cap for the bridge and screws for the nut and tuning pegs. It was quiet, but effective. As the Dumpster Divers, we composed “Dumpster Diving” and performed it for a first place finish! We won tickets to LouFest. Watch the shaky camera video on Facebook. It was a great day.

“Dumpster Diving” by the Dumpster Divers


Verse 1:
D                Dsus4 D
Your trash is my treasure.
G               Gadd2 G
Your junk is my art.
D            Dsus4 D
You throw it away.
I take it apart.

D               Dsus4 D
Roaming through alleys,
G               Gadd2  G
Looking through bins,
I see something.
A7              D-Db-D
I dive right in!

Dumpster diving!
It's surprising
What we're finding
Dumpster diving!

Instrumental over verse chords

Verse 2:
Old cigar boxes,
Futon frames,
Add some strings, and
Now we're playing.

Put it together.
Make something new.
Where there was nothing,
A green song grew.


Instrumental over verse chords

Verse 3:
Diving in the city,
Diving in the county,
Head to St. Charles,
To check out the bounty.

It used to be theirs, and
Now it's ours.
My guitar's made of
Cuban cigars.


Instrumental over verse chords


Put it together.
Make something new.
Where there was nothing,
A green song grew.


Update April 24, 2011: Local blog Book of MY has this post about the festival that includes pictures of the Dumpster Divers as we practiced.


Michael M. on April 17th 2011 in General, Live, Music

Spring 2011 gigs

I have found a few holes in my schedule for attention to my musical hobbies. Some have happened through the beloved Folk School. I am a repeated student of the Old-Time Ensemble, and this session is a good one. A new addition has been Jazz Guitar with Dave Black. I have given some attention to my curiosity about jazz arrangements and the closed chord voicings. I only wish I did not have to miss so many of the classes.

The best outing was a trip to Phoenix. My sister married at the Phoenix Zoo, and H accompanied me. She negotiated with the United Airlines crew to get my guitar in the coat compartment on the trip out, but I had to check it on the way back. I played an instrumental “You Are My Sunshine” as the recessional. Otherwise, I just operated the iPod. After the ceremony, we had fun wandering around the zoo. Along with seeing family I have been missing for a while, I got to reunite with my twice blogged canine pal Ralph. H and I also climbed around Hole-in-the-Rock at Papago Park. Best wishes to Lib!

Last night, H and I visited Ellen the Felon and Lang-a-Tang Langen Wednesday Open Mic at Foam Coffee and Beer. I had heard about it some time ago, and I have been wanting to go. I knew our friends Kate and Joeboy of the Spot Ons had played there, and I thought they might be there. Indeed, they were. They played a great set.

We saw a few more acts and were ready to go home. By that time, we were next on the list, though, so we stayed and played. We have a band name, the twice blogged Bootstrappers, but I forgot to use it when I signed us up. Ellen saw H’s fiddle and my guitar and told us her sound system was breaking up and unable to accommodate us. We played in front of the stage with no amplification. We opened with “Sleepy Desert” and then played blogged “Louis Collins” and favorite “Stagger Lee.” “Sleepy Desert” is one we had played before at the often blogged Atomic Cowboy Open Mic, and it went well. The others were new for us. We managed well enough.

The neighborhood and social scene were a change. The crowd inside was younger and had a different senses of style than what I usually encounter. The surrounding neighborhood has become a vibrant mix of African-Americans, Latino immigrants and young white adults. Many people zipped by on bicycles as we sat. Antique Row is close by on the same street. I was happy to see a store for beloved Popeyes just south on Jefferson.

We were welcomed. After we played, host Ellen invited us to a musical parade set for next Monday. I, unfortunately, will be working. The parade will happen somewhere around the Lemp Brewery as part of the Venice Cafe Open Mic. She also co-hosts that one. I have not been, but I hope to go.

These gigs have not been real gigs, but open mics and my own sister’s wedding. I lack time to pursue music as more than a hobby, but I am going to hitchhike my way to something better. As mentioned recently, blogged Ryan Spearman and I will fill in for some missing Lulus. Come out to see us May 6, 2011 at the Map Room.


Michael M. on April 14th 2011 in General, Live, Music

What Do You Want from the Liquor Store?

Barlow Farms has the post Amazing Song about the song “What Do You Want from the Liquor Store?” (song on YouTube) by Ted Hawkins. Hawkins was a musician from Biloxi, Mississippi who never quite made it big. Several years ago, a friend gave me a mixed CD with this song on it. I loved it.

Hawkins never had sustained success for a variety of reasons. One was the genre crossing. He had a country side, and his version “There Stands the Glass” made it onto From Where I Stand: The Black Experience In Country Music that I blogged several years ago. Watch this great live performance on YouTube.

Barlow Farms picked up on Hawkins because This American Life featured “What Do You Want from the Liquor Store?” as a musical interlude in Episode 432: Know When to Fold ‘Em. I listened to the first part of the broadcast this past weekend, but I turned off the radio before the song. I am happy for it to receive the attention.


Michael M. on April 14th 2011 in General, Music, Recorded

Late to show

Mark Neilsen tells how he became a professional singer and guitarist in “Watching the Bluegrass Grow” in the St. Louis Beacon. He plays in three times blogged local bluegrass band  River Bound with H. They formed through the Bluegrass Ensemble class at the beloved Folk School. As covered in the article, River Bound has upcoming gigs Saturday, April 16 8:00 pm – 11:00 pm for an show at the Wine Press and Friday, June 17 8:00 pm – 10:00 pm at Third Degree Glass Factory for the June Third Friday Open House. Performances in the past year or so have included Oceano Bistro, the Clayton Farmer’s Market, Six Row Brewery, Schlafly Bottleworks for a Folk School benefit, Cafe Ventana for the Moun Pou Moun Haiti benefit and the Wine Press.

H also has been active with the Lulus, the premiere St. Louis all female country and roots band. They have played the Map Room, the often blogged Atomic Cowboy Open Mic, Cafe Ventana for the same benefit as above, Foam Coffee and Beer for the I Went to a Show‘s First Show, BB’s for Guitars for Vets and Black Bear Bakery. See their list of gigs to catch a show soon. Upcoming farmers markets include Webster Groves, Clayton and Kirkwood along with less agriculturally based shows at Pop’s Blue Moon, Black Bear Bakery and the Map Room. Lulus fans include such luminaries as a third to a half of Uncle Tupelo and blogged friend Ryan Spearman. Ryan and I will play with half of the Lulus to fill in for the other half of the band for the second half of the May 6, 2011 show at the Map Room.

H bought us Street Performers Permits from the City of St. Louis Department of Streets. We now are in compliance with St. Louis City Revised Code Chapter 20.55. Not all of the city is open to busking. I made this map to show the prohibited areas. We have not used the permits yet. The weather has not been good enough, but that problem is ending. Look for the blogged Bootstrappers on a nearby sidewalk soon.

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Michael M. on April 11th 2011 in General, Live, Music

True Grit

H pointed me to “One-Eyed Gods and One-Armed Gods: Does True Grit tap into an ancient myth?” in Slate. In turn, it led to “True Grit, Odd Wit: And Fame? No, Thanks” in The New York Times about the somewhat reclusive author. Both were good reading after watching True Grit. H and I saw it around Christmas.

H and I saw the movie at Christmas. It was great. When Mattie Ross rode her horse Little Blackie across a river, I was hooked. It has adventure and heroism. It is a play of morality and vice. The visuals of galloping horses and big landscapes are gripping. If the first article above is to be believed, it also taps into old stories.

We happened to catch the end of the 1969 True Grit on television not too long after seeing this new version. I enjoyed it, too, but not as much as the newer version. Watching both did make me reluctant to call this newer movie a remake. It is more another telling of the same story.

I have little to add to all the writing done about this movie. I enjoyed it so much, though, that I did not want it to go unmentioned here.

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Michael M. on April 9th 2011 in General, Movies

Radio Rio

Radio Rio, blogged three times previously, is a favorite KDHX show. The KDHX blog had this post a while back spotlighting the disc jockey. The event sound waves: Brazil featuring both her and live music happened at the Pulitzer last September. I missed it.  2buildings1blog had this recap. I had not realized how Radio Rio began after I arrived in Saint Louis. The show has changed time slots a few times since its beginning, but it has settled to a good one. With it now on Saturday afternoons, I listen gladly when I can.

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Michael M. on April 9th 2011 in General, Music

Hacking the Nook Color

I bought a Nook Color from Barnes & Noble several weeks back. The Walmart web site had listed it as in stock at my local store. The sales representative took one look behind the counter and told me otherwise. When I said that I had looked ahead on the web site, she told me that the site is often wrong and showed no interest in looking harder to make the sale.

I had read about the NC’s easy conversion to an unhampered Android tablet. Having installed CyanogenMod on my Nexus One not too long ago, I chose it for hacking my NC. The Barnes & Noble Nook Color: Full Update Guide made it easy. In short, the upgrade required writing a bootable image to a microSD card and using it to load CyanogenMod onto the NC.

The devices is versatile. It is easy to re-install NOOK for Android to regain the prior functionality and to install rival Kindle. The Citrix Receiver allows connections to work applications although there was a small complication. My job’s Citrix configuration requires going through a web interface, and it does not permit direct connections from the Citrix Receiver. The default web browser will not download the .ica file and launch the receiver. Mozilla Firefox does, though.

The Freedom Pro Keyboard by Freedom Input paired with the NC and the Nexus One easily. It allows me to enter text without relying on the on screen touch keyboard. It works fairly well, but I have not used it very much yet.

The other plan was car functionality. I just purchased this Windshield Mount by Arkon for the NC. I also got this Nexus One mount that I cannot find on the Arkon site from Amazon. The NC itself does not include a camera or GPS. The application TetherGPS lets the NC to use the Nexus One’s GPS.

I also have monitoring of my car’s on-board diagnostics (OBD2). On eBay, I got this ELM327 OBD2 Bluetooth adapter to interface between my Nexus One or NC and my car’s engine computer. The Torque Android application displays speed, mileage and many other data in real time. The problem was that the ELM327 device stayed on draining the battery even when the car was off. I bought this OBD2 extension cable and cut the power wire. I then wired it to my car’s accessory power that is switched by the key using the BP/HHH ATM Fuse Tap by Cooper Bussman bought at AutoZone. Now the Bluetooth OBD2 adapter is switched by the key.

I wondered about watching movies on the NC. This post gives appropriate settings for converting videos using Handbrake. I tried converting one DVD, and the result was very good. I have not tried it again. This feature could be useful for long trips. Hulu and Netflix would be excellent additions. Both currently are configured to reject Android. Following the directions of this post, Hulu will work, but the video is jerky. It tends to get hung up on advertisements, too.

The device is on the slow side, but I am very happy with it. I look forward to doing more with it as development for it progresses.


Michael M. on April 8th 2011 in General


Twice blogged Pokey LaFarge took the Off Broadway stage Friday night with his South City Three to great enthusiasm. I had been ready for the show since reading Jack White ‘s mention of him in this New York Times ArtsBeat Blog post. The crowd was as excited and appreciative as possible.

Blogged friend Ryan Spearman opened the night. Ryan and Pokey both draw from America’s musical traditions, but the styles are different. Pokey’s is slick suits and polish while Ryan’s is straight and rootsy. They crowd was still very appreciative. Ryan played his mix of fingerstyle guitar, banjo and fiddle tunes to a great reception. Friends Doug and Sharon Foehner joined him and added a bluesy style.

Two Swingin’ Picks follwed Ryan. They play a jazzy guitars backed by upright bass. They have a smooth style. The crowd greeted them with another warm reception.

Then the South City Three took the stage. Johnny Vegas briefly replaced Pokey LaFarge. Everybody seemed to enjoy the April Fool’s joke. Finally, Pokey LaFarge took the stage and played for a good long time. I had tried to catch his show before, but obstacles had always intervened. I am happy to have been there. The group is tight polished. The show featured stop time bits, snatched of harmony singing and crowd banter with precision. I think they have a few more shows in town this year, and I highly recommend them.


Michael M. on April 5th 2011 in General, Live, Music

Green Strum Band Scramble

H and I were listening to KDHX this afternoon when we heard an announcement for St. Louis Earth Day. The festivities will include the Green Strum Project Band Scramble on April 17, 2011. Friends Kelly Wells, new director of the favorite Folk School, and blogged Ryan Spearman are behind the Green Strum Project. Participants will be assigned randomly to bands with the challenge of creating a band, a new instrument from old materials and a short performance. H and I just signed up and look forward to the fun!

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Michael M. on April 2nd 2011 in General, Live, Music

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States.