Wednesday, September 23, 2009

They Ain't No Dodo's

I cannot stop listening to The Dodo's...after listening to their first album, "Visiter", I was hooked....but then when their sophomore LP, "Time To Die", was released, I knew two songs in that it was going to be on constant replay. The vocals are similar to those of Beirut, but without the symphonic flair....the lone guitar is powerful...the kiddie piano (just like the one I had when I was little) adds a unique sound that is familiar...and the creative use of other instruments makes you want to hear two more minutes of a song that's already six!

The Dodo's will be stopping by Houston's Orange Show on Saturday, October 3rd...and I cannot wait!

Check out their track "Fools" from the first album...

Monday, September 21, 2009

New Los Campesinos!!!!

Los Campesinos! were in Houston a month ago and sadly I missed their performance. Sunday night shows the night before starting a new position are just tough to pull off.

Here's the new track from their upcoming album, to be released in 2010. It's much darker than their previous tracks, which they pull off with ease. The strings are just beautiful...check it!

The Sea Is A Good Place To Think Of The Future from Los Campesinos! on Vimeo.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Speeding Up the Slow Food Movement

For years now I've been pondering over why it's so easy in America to obtain cheap & unhealthy food? And why we're obsessed with thinking that this IS what good food is. I know, I'm guilty of the gluttony too...which is how I found out about Slow Food International. It's a movement which focuses on using food close to the source to create a variety of cuisines and flavors that are healthy, delicious and fresh. They organize farmers markets, dinners and events worldwide....but I think we need more.

Sure it's fun to getogether with others who understand why you want to eat wholesome food that actually tastes good, but why can't we start a healthy fast food movement with no excuses?

Just follow me here through some scenarios that takes today's transfatty-saturated-preseravative options and replaces them with those of a healthy culture:

Unhealthy: "I was sooooo hungover, that I NEEDED those Rally's chili cheese fries."
Solution: What's so wrong with having some baked potato fries and topping it with a fresh low-part skim cheese and a fresh black bean and turkey chili? It's just as comforting, maybe a little more time to prepare but not much, and will absolutely save your life in your post-party state.

Unhealthy: "I had to rush to a meeting, so I grabbed a Taco Bell Cheesy Gordita Crunch"
Solution: First of all, I wouldn't want to be meeting with you after your run to the border....but I've had mexican fare that tastes much better than Taco Bell and most Mexican fare is simple to prep and definitely won't break the bank.

There are restaurants that have made some progress after Jared started eatin' fresh at Subway...

  • Ziggy's Healthy Grill in Houston had the idea right, but recently decided to replace their quick counter service with a less-than satisfactory table service. Bad move Ziggys...
  • Ruggles Green, also in Houston, cooks up an organic menu with gluten-free options. Some menu items are healthy, but others are just as high calorie as anywhere you have to be cautious of your choices. Great concept with delicious food, but it's slow and overpriced.
  • My Fit Foods is definitely on to something with their dietician-approved freshly prepared meals. The prices aren't too bad, the staff is knowledgeable, the food is amazingly flavorful and filling, and the preps are quick.
  • New Orleans' own Naked Pizza has received rave reviews on Yelp for their yummy pies. They are use whole grain crust and fresh toppings with no preservatives. Even the skeptics seem to enjoy it. They're looking to franchise nationwide...good luck guys.

I just think it would be so simple to have a drive through healthy fast food option with baked items, healthy sandwiches, veggies and fruits instead of what we are currently harming ourselves with. What is it about knowing that something is so bad for you that makes you want it more? I guess just the feeling of rebellion....but if you could replace it with something that won't put you in a post-meal coma for the same speed and price....would you do it?

Ragin Cajun WIN

Thank you James Carville and Anderson Cooper for exposing just how brainwashed these people really are....


Monday, July 13, 2009

Snowballs in Houston At Last!!

Mam's House of Ice has finally brought New Orleans flavor to help us survive this heat wave!! Mam's has the normal flavors, some new ones and even snow treats for your pup!!

They're open 1pm-9pm and located in a little trailer on 20th & Rutland in the Heights.

Check out who's yelpin' about it and what they've gotta say!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Upcoming Houston Concerts

Here are some of the shows on my radar...there are lots, so look closely!

Thurs 7/09: Major Lazor @ Escobar

Tues 7/14: Pete Yorn @ Meridian

Mon 7/27: Reel Big Fish @ Warehouse Live (c'mon you know you wanna go back to your ska days)

Wed 7/22: Coldplay @ Woodlands

Sat 8/01: Counting Crows @ Sam Houston Race Track

Sat 8/01: Dr. John @ Discovery Green Park

Sun 8/02: De La Soul @ HOB

Tue 8/04: Atmosphere @ Warehouse Live

Sat & Sun 8/8&9: Free Press Summer Fest @ Tinsley Park (Broken Social Scene, Of Montreal, Explosions in the Sky, What Made Milwaukee Famous, Octopus Project)

Sat 8/08: Green Day/ Franz Ferdinand @ Toyota Center
Fri 8/14: Bowerbirds @ Walter's

Sun 8/16: Los Campesinos! @ Warehouse Live

Fri 8/21: Rebirth Brass Band @ Warehouse Live

Sun 8/30: Peter Bjorn & John w/ Depeche Mode @ Woodlands

Thu 9/03: Fruit Bats @ Walter's

Sat 9/05: Paolo Nutini w/ Anya Marina @ Warehouse Live

Fri 9/25: Ra Ra Riot @ Warehouse Live

The Houston Social Scene is Broken by Explosions in the Sky

What?? That sounds serious....well my friends, it is.

Rewind back to February, when I anxiously awaited seeing the musical mega masterpiece that is Broken Social Scene....I talked about it for months. Only to be taken down by half of a bottle of Sweet Tea Vodka as Kevin Drew took the stage....then woke up at 6 the next morning with a frantic, "What the hell happened???" I've been bummed out since the blackout, because I never do that for a show and also made the man friend bail with me....but really folks, he was the STV enabler.

Yeah...I barely remember this...

A half of a year has passed since the incident, I've become very experienced with the Sweet Tea Vodka, and Broken Social Scene are coming back to Houston on August 8th!!!! It's a two-day festival hosted by Free Press Houston on Buffalo Bayou near downtown...and the ticket prices are 10 measly bucks a day! Accompanying the Canadian supergroup for this weekend of awesomeness will be Of Montreal, The Octopus Project, What Made Milwakee Famous (I did!! ...jokes, jokes), and Austin's own Explosions in the Sky!

I highly recommend that you go, drink your Sweet Tea Vodka cautiously, and party your sweaty lil bayou butt off!

Tickets and info at:

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Did someone say PUB CRAWL??

I'll be Yelpin' it up at my very first Elite event on Friday, but if you're looking for something fun to do on a hot and muggy Houston evening, this could get your weekend started off right! Or it could lead to your Saturday not starting off so well, but that's just the price you pay for being awesome and fun. I have to opt out though, I'm kinda excited about the Yelp thing...many hours were wasted eating and drinking so I could write fun reviews.

Here's the info you need to get ya started with some crawling of the pubs:

Music Report

BAM comes B*Dazzle's music report!

PASSION PIT: This group started as a little project by Michael Angelakos....he was making a Valentine's present for his girlfriend....which turned into their Chunk of Change EP. It had the catchy and dancey "Sleepyhead" tune which caught on and spread like a California wildfire. Their full length Manners is getting rave reviews, as it should. The tracks are fun and could be the beginning of pop music for people who love their tunes to be original.

Pains of Being Pure at Heart: I really didn't want to like this band...really. With a name like that and an album cover to match, I wasn't sold....until Pitchfork put their first single "Young Adult Friction" as a best new music track and added them to the P4K Fest lineup. One listen to the song was all I needed. It's happy and romantic indie music, which I'm a sucker for. Reminds me of Mates of State or The Magic Numbers.

Grizzly Bear: They've come a long way and are much more upbeat these days. The newest release has marvelous harmonies and showcases how talented these guys are....they have such wonderful voices that the instruments aren't even necessary. My favs are "Two Weeks" and "Cheerleader".

Camera Obscura: The new single "French Navy" makes me want to single along. It's very retro and catchy...I love the strings!! Their newly released album is "My Maudlin Career".

Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Another one that I didn't want to like. I dig their old stuff and felt like they were selling out with the more electro-based release It's Blitz! But the more I heard "Zero" the more I liked it...and after giving the entire album a listen, here I am rec'ing it to you. Dammit got me! There are lots of remixes of "Zero" out there too.

Phoenix: They really can't put anything out that I don't like. They're French and their music is tres bon! The new EP (it seems like everyone is releasing EPs these days) Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. Yeah, the title is pretty questionable, but the tracks most definitely are not.

Born Ruffians: They shout, they clap, they rock. Nuff said. I need to see them in concert!! If you like Clap Your Hands, you'll like these kids. The whole album is good, but my fav is "Hummingbird".

Dan Deacon: I'm saving the best for last here. The dude is ridiculously talented and his latest album is beautiful!!!! It's great for working, working out, thinking about working, distracting yourself from things that involve work.... "Of the Mountains" made me fall in love with Bromst.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Adventure Dining in the Heights

If I told you that $20 got you a Saturday night dinner from 20 of Houston's delicious restaurants including wine, beer and margaritas....would you actually believe me?

This Saturday, May 16th is the Great Taste of the Heights in one of Houston's most historic little neighborhoods. The restaurants include Shade, all of the Creeks, Bedford, The Rainbow Lodge, and Max's Wine Dive. I've never been to this event, so I can't attest to the quality and abundance of the food and bevs, but it sounds like a pretty good deal.

For more info go to:

Bon appetit!!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Lost in Translation?

There's no Sophia Copolla, Scarlett Johansson karaoke scenes or Bill Murray sipping scotch here...but the Engrish definitely does not translate in the way it was intended:

I got GOT!!

The thought never crossed my mind that I would come back from my relaxing Easter vacation and my apartment would be unlocked and completely ransacked. But, yes, I got GOT.

The door was unlocked (I'm super OCD about locking it, so that can be discounted as a root cause) and my lights were on, but it didn't even register at first. Then I saw my brand new flat screen was gone...panic bedroom drawers are open and things are thrown all over my bed...panic, tears, fear.

After a couple of terrific friends rushed over, I calmed down a bit to notice that my Wii and all of my sentimental jewelry was gone. Unbelievable. The cops didn't seem to care much, and since it was unforced entry they kept asking if someone had my key or was mad at me. No fingerprinting was investigation until I had an HPD friend set me up with an investigator who has yet to do anything. Who was this that completely violated my personal sanctuary and where did they take my jewelry?

Unfortunately I don't think I will ever know who they were or how I could possibly get my class ring and other keepsakes back....but I'll always wonder. All I can say is thank goodness for Renters Insurance. The crazy thing is that I have not had it in over a year because I never thought I would need it, and JUST got it two weeks before the break-in. So at least I am getting reimbursed for my losses. If you are a renter, get it. Don't question's only about $100 a year, you'll probably get a discount on your car insurance, and you won't have to worry about replacing your things if something unfortunate does happen to you.

I wanted to share my learnings with everyone so that you can be better prepared than I was.

  • Document the serial number of all of your electronics and keep inventory, pictures, booklets, a safe place.
  • Hide your jewelry
  • If you can, set up an intrusion alarm. Even if it's not monitored, it could still deter burglars
  • Make friends with your neighbors
  • Don't live somewhere with closed hallways, check the surveillance camera situation
  • Ask about the break-in history before moving into a complex

Turns out that there were multiple break-ins in my area that were identical to mine and some suspects were caught, but the wonderful HPD has not kept me informed on if they were tied to my case or not.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

If a chair would be sent down from Heaven...

....I have a feeling that it would look something like this....

During our family trip to the beach for Easter my parents brought some new beach chairs. Mom was super excited about it since there was a cooler and could be carried like a backpack. I was intrigued and after beach-testing it, noticed many more key features of this superior seating situation.

- can bring other stuff and/or ride a bike with it without any problems.

- Cup Holder....sure, for some of us two would be ideal....or if one was a koozie...but this works well.

- Built-in holds enough cans to get ya started.

-Storage space...big enough for a blanket, snacks, books...

-Cell phone holder...self explanatory, but it keeps your gadgets separate and easy to find after you've broken into the goodies from the cooler.

- Four different can sit up and be attentive, lay it back to catch some rays, even more to relax, or if you're crazy, all the way back to the last notch to take a siesta.

This little invention is going to make us the most comfortable jazz festers out there. Can't wait to put it to use.

You can find this amaaaaazing chair at Sam' might even be worth getting a membership.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Houston has a certified organic restaurant...really!

Nope, it's not April Fool's Day....the city filled with big trucks, hummers, and cowboy hats actually has some green to it. Ruggles' newest restaurant is Ruggles Green, the city's first certified organic restaurant and I dined there for the first time last night.

It's a meal you can feel good about...well unless you succumb to the temptation of the decadent desserts staring at you through their glass encasement. Although they looked so delicious (and Ruggles is known for their amazing desserts!!) that you probably wouldn't suffer from PDCD, post-dessert consumption depression.

The parking situation is not-so-hot (I had to walk from Whole Foods) and the layout didn't feel very comfy while eating. Mainly because everything was so close together and the music was rather loud. I do love Jack Johnson, but with every table seated so close together, the mixture of convos and laid-back jams made it hard for me to talk to my dining buddy....but that's the extent of the rants.

I want to go here all the time so I can try everything on the menu!! It all sounded so delicious, but I was in a chicken curry salad kind of mood. It was delicious...a perfect mixture of sweet and spicy. The dried mangoes were really what put it over the top for me!

My dining companion chose the fish tacos and raved over how delicious they were!! The plate was piled high with cabbage and can never go wrong with that!

Wine by-the-glass selection and prices were reasonable, they also have an espresso bar, and an extensive assortment of condiments for dressing up your eco-conscious meal. Everything was healthy and organic....truly a feat for Houston, which Ruggles has successfully accomplished.

I felt like I was reducing my carbon footprint with every bite I took. Can't wait to go back and try the sweet potato gnocchi!!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Indie Shirts for a Good Cause

I recently came across this website,, for the Yellow Bird Project. According to the site, it's a Montreal-based non-profit group who allow musicians to design a shirt and pick a charity for the proceeds to go to.

Some of my favs:

ACL Ticket Update

Still wondering why I had not yet received an email mentioning the ticket sales for ACL 2009, I went on to the site before 10am for my advanced purchase. The prices were higher than last year, even for the early birds....and the first tier had already sold out. What was left? $160 weekend pass....that's more than twice what I paid for a weekend at Pitchfork. I was still in contemplation mode until 10:48am, an entire 48 minutes after the tickets went on sale, I received an email from ACL saying, "TICKETS ON SALE NOW!" Seriously?? C'mon ACL, at least give your loyal festivallers a heads up!!

At 10:49am, I decided that I will not be in attendance at Zilker Park this year. My hard earned cash will go to Jazz, P4K, and Voodoo Fests!!

Monday, April 6, 2009

ACL Fest Tickets On Sale Tomorrow!

For all of you loyal ACL festivallers who have been wondering, "When the HECK is ACL going to put the passes on sale???" Well fine folks, your question has finally been answered. With extremely little notice, the tickets will go on sale TOMORROW! This is for the early bird pricing...although I'm not exactly what that even entails. I suppose they wanted the early birds to also be the site stalkers since no emails were sent out to those of us on the dist list.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Jazz Hands for Jazz Fest!!

It's Jazz Fest Time!!

The cubes are out and its time to start your planning! Well that is if you're anything like me, you've already been to the website and started daydreaming about which day is your favorite ....the taste of that first bite of cochon-de-lait po-boy....the anticipation of how the Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka is going to enhance the dance party during Big Sam's Funky Nation...and the sensation of the sweat/dust film that you adorn for the day. All of which I crave until I cross the gates for the first time!! I wonder if anyone watches me as I hand over my ticket to get scanned....I'm in my element....huge grin as I glance at the grandstands which quickly turns to a serious scan over the highlighted cubes that I've brought for the day. What are these cubes?? They're the schedule, your map for the entire days festivities. Who ya gonna see? Where are they playing? How do all of these play into your food selections??? It can be overwhelming....but no need to fear, I'm going to provide my sacred list of tricks for you to employ so that you have a Fest-astic time out there while you're groovin' on the grounds.

After my first glance, both of the Saturdays look to be tops for my musical taste. Keep in mind though, that Jazz fest isn't technically all that's a mix of music for all ages and music you shouldn't leave any cube uncovered, there are a lot of 'em!

First things first, PARKING. This is a royal pain in the Fairgrounds neighborhood, mainly because there is no parking other than on the street. So unless you know someone who lives in the hood, here's whatcha do. If you're staying in a hotel downtown, some have shuttles to the fest. If you're a local or driving down there, this has never failed for me. Drive on over to the Bulldog on Canal Street and there are Jazz Fest buses parked in front. I believe its a buck or two each way, but WELL WELL worth it. Grab a daiquiri on your way to the Bulldog, hop on the bus, and follow everyone as they drift towards the gate. This works in your favor on the way home...sobering walk to the bus stop, sobering ride to the Bulldog, then you can enjoy either a sobering meal or carry on some more with delicious beers at the pub.

Here are the rest of my tricks of the trade:
  • Bring a hat and sunscreen...if you want to survive.
  • Wear something that you don't care if it gets wet/dirty
  • Can Grenade - How else are ya gonna clap for your favorite bands and keep the beers cold at the same time?
  • Crawfish bread, cochon de lait po-boy, crawfish sack/oyster patty/crawfish beignet having a lil jazz fest in your mouth
  • The iced-tea tastes delicious with rum...and so do the snoballs.
  • How do you get the rum in? Pour it in an inconspicious bottle, put the lid back on, superglue it. Water bottles = rum/vodka/and the like, Nestea = Sweet Tea Vodka, Coke = Jack Daniels/Captain Morgan Tattoo....make sure to bring cans of the mixers.
  • Check the cubes and work out your game plan before you go
  • The white chocolate bread pudding is divine....
  • For the Cheapskate with a disregard for the law: The Fairgrounds has A LOT of jumpable perimeter fence by the stables, or places where you can sneak beers over the fence to a buddy!
  • Try a kids ticket ($5), they look the same, but beep differently when scanned (some ticket takers don't care)
  • DON'T put your booze in your collapsible chair bag! They always check those: just put it in your pocket in your pants, they NEVER check there
  • You can bring in one bottle of water (not including the secret one in your pocket), but DON'T break the seal or security may make you throw it out
  • Try to get near a flag to make a good landmark for friends to meet up, or bring your own!
  • Go to the far side from the thoroughfare at the big stages(Acura and Gentilly) when looking for a spot - less traffic means lighter crowd.
  • When in doubt for a showtime slot, check out the Fais-do-do stage: always a good time and close to the food!
  • If rain is possible, ladies, think about wearing rain booties. They're fun, fashionable, and remember horses do their business (shit) all over this place, so it'll save you when crossing a poop puddle!
  • Make nice with your neighbors, they will be ones watching your space if you bugger off!
  • Bike it there! The Fairgrounds is notorious for poor parking (it's in the middle of neighborhoods (some not so appealing at night).
The party doesn't have to stop once the last band is finished their set on the Acura Stage, the rest of the city plays host to a plethora of concerts at night. These are usually pretty big bands who either perform at the fest or just want to be in the city to enjoy the party. Check out to see what's going on. My picks are Ghostland Observatory at the House of Blues April 30th and any of the Superfly at Jazzfest shows. With artists such as the Black Keys, Deathcab for Cutie, Galactic, Matt Costa and Ra Ra'd be crazy not to go. Tickets are available on the website...shows are at the Contemporary Arts Center and are very well organized.

This is all I've got for ya folks...see ya out at the fest!!!!

Monday, March 23, 2009

What's better than a SXSW Platinum badge? Two music-loving diamonds in the rough!!

This weekend's invasion of Austin and SXSW-crashing by the man friend and I was quite a success!! I am going share my insider tips of the trade, even though they were completely
accidental...everything just happened upon us! We saw the best bands, drank the best drinks, ate the best food, and we did it ridiculously cheap. I'll give you the play-by-play...introduce you to some newly coined terms...and teach you some lessons. Keep in mind that these learnings can be leveraged for use at other festivals and the like.

Friday, March 20th

We start the day by getting our game plan together, looking at the bike routes, and hitting Highway 290 all the way to Austin...listening to the tunes of Yo La Tengo (no they weren't playing at the fest...but we're getting excited about Pitchfork Fest over the summer).

We rolled into the north side of the city to the 29th Street park entrance to the bike trail. This trail follows Shoal Creek all the way to Towne Lake. Parking lot, check...signs along the path leading us in the right direction, check...hip waders to traverse the creek with my bike, damn I forgot those! Good thing I was a tom boy when I was stone steppin' abilities definitely came into play. Fifteen minutes later, we were cruisin' down 4th Street in the midst of the festival. After the bikes were well secured, we wandered into Cedar Street for the Filter Magazine's free daytime party...we didn't recognize any bands on the list until later in the afternoon so we got our wristband and walked around to find sustenance and cold beer. We hiked up Congress to Hickory Street for their $3 pints, unlimited salad/baked potato/sundae bar, and delicious philly cheesesteak!

Tip #1: Individually wrapped cornbreads from the salad bar fit well into a backpack for drunken noshing.
Tip #2: Bring a doesn't get checked....ANYWHERE. And personal water bottles for that matter...

We paid our tab just in time to mosey back to Cedar Street for the Late of the Pier and Razorlight shows. LOTP was a British electro group and creepily entertaining to watch. The lead singer gets bonus points for his mid-song fight with the bouncer and return to the mic/guitar promptly after taking some swings. Razorlight also put on a good show...but after a couple of stiff drinks we knew it was time to finally check into our hotel.

Late of the Pier


Tip #3: Go to a Specs Liquor Store (before 9pm) and pick up your clear liquor of choice, a couple of bottles of your mixer, and a bottle of water. Drink some of the mixer, pour in your desired amount of booze, drink the water, then pour the rest of the booze in the water bottle. This should be adequate for getting two people tipsy.

Tip #4: Park by Shoal Creek/10th Street and walk or bike to the's easy!!

After our trip to Specs and such, we parked by Shoal Creek and made the short walk back to Cedar Street for Canada's Bedouin Soundclash, Peter Bjorn & John, and Grizzly Bear. We had great views from our free sidewalk location...sippin' on some Coke Zero (w/ Cruzan rum) and eating taco's from the Casa Del was magical. Bedouin put on a terrific show...they had horns and brought me back to my ska days.

Then the old SXSW officials started cracking down on the growing sidewalk audience. The cops even laughed at how they couldn't do anything, but we moved out of the way and onto the street. What made me more pissed than anything was seeing those of us who really wanted to hear the band being pushed into the street and people in the douchebadge line who couldn't care less saying things like "Ha...look at all these people without badges" accompanied by a smirk no less. This is when we started using the term, Douchebadge = one who has money for a badge but unworthy of actually putting it to use. This jerk was stuck on the street with the rest of us, but in a line. Which leads me to the next tip...

Tip #5: Badges are useless unless they are free and platinum...and don't even think about buying a wristband, it's a waste of your money. SXSW is a caste system...higher rankings get first priority. It's not worth it.

Peter Bjorn and John didn't play a single thing from their last album and only a few of the new songs are actually decent. Some of the new stuff is a lot darker...and not as enjoyable. The bottle of rum was gone by this point so we ventured back to our hotel to eat the cornbread reserves and rest up for day two.

Day one was definitely a success! We saw a couple of celebs....the people watching was just unreal!

Saturday, March 21st

This day wasn't even going to happen. We had tickets to see Andrew Bird at the Houston HOB that night, but after seeing that Explosions in the Sky were playing a free show, we had make the gametime call to stay for another night. (Thank you Nikole for watching Mallory at the last minute!)

With a slight looming hangover, I had to get my head (and stomach) right for another full day of musical madness! This required a visit to Kerbey Lane Cafe before even thinking about heading to downtown. We dined on huge pancakes (their's are quite possibly the best I've ever had), omelets (mine was roasted chicken with verde salsa, the MF had his stuffed with cheese, homefries, and other good things)...but the two bloody mary's saved my life. KLC makes theirs with a spicy infused vodka that gets your game face back on. It was time to park the car and bike it back down to get in line for Rachael Ray's party at Maggie Mae's!

Tip #6: Eat at Kerbey Lane Cafe on Kerbey Lane...its wonderful! I want to go to there...again....soon.


Our plans were put to a halt when we saw the line for the buzzworthy event was wrapped way way way way around the block. Hell no! The Blind Pig is the pub next door, it has an open rooftop which is next to the open rooftop at Maggie Mae's and there wasn't much of anything going on brainer! We envisioned hours of sitting above 6th Street watching the SXSVesters (these are cool cats with black vests...the coolest of which do not even need a shirt under the vest. It's usually accompanied by some sort of stylish hat. Indie fashion icons before my eyes!), drink some beers in the sun, and listen to the bands as they play next door. This didn't play so well in our favor once bands started jamming on our rooftop. So much for eavesdropping...we needed another plan. With four hours of liquid courage in me and upon hearing one of the MF's favorite bands start their set, I looked at him and said..."alright, lets jump the fence". With a huge grin on his face (and I'm sure he was shocked and proud of me for actually breaking the rules...not to mention on the second story of a building) he handed me his bag and jumped in to the 30 Minute Mealer's bash...all the while, having his foot on my finger while making the climb. Thankfully it wasn't broken! An old man looked me in the eye and told me to "please be careful", then I made the hop to the other side. Our two friends were also had a war wound, a pulled leg muscle, but that's just the price you pay to sneak into a free party to watch The Hold Steady! They put on a rockin' set!! The crowd was dancing, singing along, drinking really was magical and we were right by the stage. Rachael Ray came out to thank everyone at the end...and we left through the front door. It felt great to be a rebel!!

Tip #7: Have NO shame in being resourceful! Use your surroundings and the weaknesses of others to do whatcha gotta do. Any wall can be climbed if no one is looking, any door man can be bought for at least $20, and no one looks at the picture on the badge.

Tip #8: Don't park your bike on a motorized gate...I lost a brake. It's a bad decision...don't do it.

Our drunken bike ride from Maggie Mae's to the free shows on Lady Bird Lake took no time at all...and just as the rest of the weekend occurred, we accidentally ended up in all of the right places at the right time. Perhaps the music gods were with us...and we were definitely worthy of it. We parked our bikes at the bike valet, which I've never heard of, but am I huge fan of now. Bike valets should be present at more places, because it was a very efficient and safe way to store your bike.

Tip #9: Keep your water bottle inside of your bag. They don't check, and if they don't see it, then you don't need to empty it out.

We were STARVING! With all of the fence hopping, we didn't get the free yumm-O grub from RR's we spotted a BBQ trailer and made a B-line towards it. The trailer was made out of wood, so it had to be legit, right? After obtaining an order of BBQ nachos ( read that correctly), a pulled pork sammich, and two overpriced daiquiris, we headed to the stage...and walked directly in front. Done and done! With only one act before Explosions in the Sky took the stage, we were holding our ground till showtime!

Eryka Badu and her new beatmakers, The Cannabinoids, opened for EITS and they were pretty good. Eryka Badu was late due to some stalker boo'd...and sang a couple of songs. Nothing to really write was, meh.

Then, magic happened. The humble and brilliant members of Explosions in the Sky walked on stage. They looked completely shocked at how many people were there (I still have no idea how large the crowd was...but I would say thousands!)...they took their instruments and made their beautiful music right before my eyes. The set list, the Austin skyline in the background, the weather, the intensity with which they performed, the expressions on everyone's faces, the person I was able to experience it with....were all nothing less than perfect. Then, perfection was surpassed....during the last song, while listening to EITS...there were actually explosions in the sky! I'm referring to the awe-inspiring surprise fireworks display across the lake from the stage. There were no words to was the most stunning thing I've ever experienced and I didn't want it to end. I've looked forward to seeing them for so long...and to see them for free, up-close, in Austin, and with a fireworks's still unbelievable. I'm so glad that we stayed to be a part of that.

After the bike ride back to the car, the only thing I could do was listen to more Explosions, eat some ice cream and put myself to bed. I was overwhelmed and spent from the most spontaneous and enjoyable days on record. I can't wait for 2010!!

Tip #10: The Arboretum area isn't far from downtown and is much cheaper. Besides, you don't have to deal with all of that traffic on I-35! But if you do have a place to stay downtown...I highly recommend that instead, of course. Also, Courtyard by Marriott has a pretty tasty continental breakfast, and it's free on the weekends. MMMmmm...waffles shaped like Texas.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Yelp! This hotel sucks!!

I am a Yelper and today someone had the fun idea of posting a thread for the funniest yelps.

This one wins, hands down....or maybe up, above your head.

Worst Hotel EVER

Guess who is going to SXSW...

Yours truly...well I'm going to crash SXSW. Perhaps one day I will be cool enough to get my hands on a press wristband, but pass or no pass I have to go...and I am. I've done my research and found free day shows that do not require the highly coveted wristband, RSVP'd for parties, and looked into the tricks of the veterans to this yearly mecca for geeks and hipsters. I fall somewhere in the middle of the two...okay fine, closer to the geek end of the spectrum...but I'm okay with that.

I haven't done a music report in a while so here are some artists that I'm loving and who are performing this year. Caution, this could cause you to go into music overload. I'm completely expecting this to be a monkeys wedding.

  • School of Seven Bells
  • Ida Maria - I thoroughly enjoy her song "I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked".
  • M. Ward - I've been a fan since I first listened to Chinese Translation from his last album, Post War. He took a brief break from the solo scene and teamed up with Zooey Deschanel to form the duo, She & Him. Now he's back on his own, with a little background vocal help from Zooey D, with Hold Time.
  • Winter Gloves - This video is remarkable.
  • Delta Spirit - I saw these guys open for Dr. Dog in Houston and at ACL. They're getting a lot of recognition! During the song Trashcan, they actually play one.
  • Human Highway
  • Meiko - She opened for Josh Radin and I thought she was adorable. I loved her lyrics and she has a great voice.
  • Ladyhawke - She's from New's better than Old Zealand.
  • Heartless Bastards
  • The Avett Brothers - They're from North Carolina and keep true to their roots. I love the song If It's The Beaches. Looking forward to catching them at Jazz Fest too.
  • Peter Bjorn & John - No description needed...they had us at "Young Folks" a couple of years ago.
  • Glasvegas - They have a chick drummer and their from Scotland!
  • Cold War Kids - Free show!!
  • Army Navy - Nope, nothing to do with the military.
  • Grizzy Bear - They are amazing and the new album leaked early...and it rocks. Their video on is like indie acapella.
  • Two Hours Traffic - So I like some poppy happens on occasion.
  • Aqualung - I will always have a special place in my heart for him.
  • N.A.S.A. - Nope, not the space shuttle stands for North America South America and it represents the nation of electronica.
  • Datarock
  • Passion Pit - I LOVE THIS SONG!!!
  • Women - Not a single one in the band...
  • Matt & Kim - The ENTIRE album is fun!! Daylight is their first single.
  • The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
  • The Soft Pack
  • Handsome Furs
  • Bedouin Soundclash
  • Loney Dear
  • The Bird & the Bee - Their last album is poppy and I loved it. The new single is buzz worthy.
  • Au Revoir Simone - Nope...not from France. They're from Brooklyn and they make beautiful music.
  • Explosions in the Sky - FREE SHOW!!!
  • The Octopus Project - They have a therapin, and they're not afraid to use it!
  • Jonathan Tyler & the Northern Lights - Saw them open for O.A.R. last year and they outperformed the main act.
  • The Little Ones
  • Ra Ra Riot - I absolutely adore this band!!! The lyrics are amazing, they are super nice guys, and put on a ridiculous live performance!!! Listen, listen...listen!
  • The Spinto Band - Oh Mandy!! Can't get tired of it!
  • Wintersleep - One of my favorite albums of 2008...and of course they're Canadian. Canada is putting out some sweet sounds. I love the Weighty Ghost!

I hope my festivalling buddy is ready....let the music festivals begin!!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Romance During a Recession

It's definitely possible...and something that should be done regardless of the economic state of the world. I happen to think that the best dates are those that are's more personal, you can have more of them, and always carefree!! But then again, maybe that's just my dream dates consist of picnics, kite flying, and marshmallow if you're high maintenance, this may not make you feel any better.

After a brief brainstorming session, here are a few ideas:

  • Have a picnic - Make some sandwiches, grab a bargain bottle of wine or some beer, some won't have to worry about tipping a rude waiter or valeting your car. Houston's Hermann Park is gorgeous and you might even catch a free performance at the Miller Outdoor Theater. It appears to be very romantic...
  • Get going - Go for a bike ride, go for a walk through the Arboretum, play a set of tennis, go bowling (although now Houston has ridiculous upscale alleys...ehem, 300, cough), toss around the Frisbee or the's good for you and it's fun!
  • Dinner and a movie at the casa - You and your date could make dinner together at half the cost of what you would pay in the restaurant and put your culinary creativity to use. Then stay on your cozy sofa and watch a're not going to get asked to leave in the event that you decided to make out, and you can always hit pause. You know...if that's your thing....just sayin'.
  • Get your culture on - Head to a museum. I love museums and both New Orleans and Houston have an abundance of quality museums. They are free on Thursday in Houston and if you're a student you get discounts. Personal fave is the Menil Collection in Montrose, it's always free and has some astounding artwork.
  • Be thrifty together - Head to the local thrift shop and explore. You never know what you might find...could be useful, could be funky, and you might even hit the jackpot.
  • Mmmm Smores - Look for a nearby campground and spend a weekend under the stars, sitting by the campfire and roasting marshmallows. During the day you can explore the natural surroundings or those of the nearest town.
  • Rock on - The Miller Outdoor Theater has many many free concerts, but most are symphony showcases. If you prefer to jam and Uncle Ticketmaster has you pissed off with all of his 'convenience charges', not to worry, we've got options. Walter's on Washington and Rudyard's both play host to many upcoming bands and both venues are dirt cheap. These bands usually perform in-store at Cactus Music ( earlier in the day.

Got any ideas? Post 'em...I'd love to hear more.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Dining During a Depression: BYOB

With much free time on my hands and the pending Great Depression of our generation, I've decided to start a series of blogs dedicated to Recession Responsibility. It'll be a way to continue to support our local economy and have fun without causing you to file Chapter 11.

One of my favorite aspects of the Houston dining scene is the much-welcomed overabundance of BYOB restaurants and cafes....but I didn't realize there were so many that did not even charge a corkage fee! I've uncovered this hidden gem of a link with all of the BYOB restaurants, complete with the corkage fee:

Some highlights upon first glance:

  • Lucio's BYOB on Taft is just plain good (well plain is dull, and their food is anything but) with a corkage fee of $5 a bottle.
  • Collina's is known by everyone to be the best Italian food for your hard-earned buck and the fee is $1/person.
  • Houston's on Kirby has NO corkage fee. That's right...bring your own bottle of bargain bottles of vino and drink away.
  • Dry Creek Cafe has a better menu than Onion Creek and you can bring your wine and enjoy their laid back patio for $2.50 a bottle. As much as I love the O.C., bringing my own $8 bottle, paying the $2.50 puts me at about $2.75 a glass....much cheaper than the $9 that you'll get charged per glass at the bar. can also bring your own brews!!!

Friday, January 16, 2009

BBD in the 713?

I just saw this in the Houston Press:

"MLK Day and Obama Pre-Inauguration Concert" with Bell Biv Devoe, Keith Sweat

Bell Biv DeVoe were pioneers of a style of music called new jack swing, which combined smooth rapping over sweet R&B beats. But the genre was more than just a type of music; it was part of a late '80s/early '90s zeitgeist. Largely ignoring the cultural turmoil of the time (the Rodney King incident, the AIDS epidemic), new jack swing was a feel-good movement, incorporating music, television (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, In Living Color) and fresh new street styles (ill-fitting parachute pants, flat-top hair). (Yes, kids, that was the golden age.) Relive this - and your past fashion mis-steps - with Bell Biv DeVoe this Sunday at the Arena Theater, when Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins and Ronnie DeVoe perform hits like "Poison," "Do Me!" and "She's Dope!"Arena Theatre7326 S. West Fwy Houston, TX

If Kid & Play and/or Boyz II Men would be there, I would sport my "Heights for Obama" shirt and represent regardless of the fact that I would stick out like sore thumb. It's all about Change right??

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Things I've recently discovered...

Here's a list of some things I've recently discovered and wanted to share:

  • School of Seven Bells : The track "Connjur" had me at the first 30 seconds.
  • Explosions in the Sky has an 8 track EP that was recorded in 2005 which can only be purchased at their shows. It was recorded over two weeks as an experiment and you can listen online. There is also a link to what went into every track...very interesting.
  • While riding around New Orleans, there's a place that you can "Lawyer Up". Say dawg, I'm lawyered up yo! I wish I had taken a picture.
  • On Richmond Avenue in Houston, you can have your business cards made at one of the Adult Book and Toy stores....another Kodak moment that I missed.
  • Seven months of hard work and sacrifice cannot prevent you from an injury popping up during the week of your marathon. For me, the thought of possibly not being able to run it has made me much more motivated and appreciative of what I've accomplished thus far. Here's hopin' that I'm not hoppin'!
  • The pecan praline king cake from Marrero's own "Coffee &" can be consumed as breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch, post-run snack, and midnight snack...but it could cause you to experience king cake coma.
  • Good things come to those who wait.
  • Guitar Hero addiction is real and should never be treated.
  • Even though I voted for him twice, George Bush has said some crazy stuff.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Music Report

I've been listening to WAY too much terrific music lately. It spans many different indie sub-genres...many of which probably just have made up names, but never fail to make you look like a connoisseur. So feel free to use them to impress your friends, family and frienemies.

I have to start at the top though...I cannot stop listening to this album, and I find myself slightly sad that the songs have to then I just hit repeat. If you haven't been introduced to Bon Iver, you're welcome. This would fall under the indie folk group and the story behind the album "For Emma, Forever Ago" is almost as intriguing as the nine tracks it consists of. When pronounced correctly, bohn eevair, means "good winter" in French...probably due to the fact that most of the album was recorded in a secluded cabin in Wisconsin where Justin Vernon spent three months after a breakup with his girlfriend. The entire album is amazing, but my two favs are "Skinny Love" and "Re: Stacks". Check out their live stuff:

  • Fleet Foxes also fall into the indie folk group and they describe their music as "baroque harmonic pop jams"....and as conflicting as the description may be, it works. The harmonies are amazing and this Seattle group's self-titled LP is at the top of all of the 2008 Best Of charts. "White Winter Hymnal" started my addiction....
  • Snow Patrol...we all know about my Gary Lightbody obsession and how I've raved about him since 2004. No one wanted to listen to me though...not until they were featured on Grey's Anatomy. Which had me worried and not so excited about "A Hundred Million Suns" being released last year. I had this awful feeling that they were going to sell out to make the cash money, but they didn't. This album is magnificent and I reminiscent of their earlier days, which I thoroughly enjoyed! The whole thing is stellar and it's refreshing to hear more upbeat tracks...because Gary does deserve to be happy. But with the last track "The Lightening Strike", they are definitely not going to thaw out any time soon!
  • M83 is a French electronic group belonging to the shoegazing dat. I stumbled upon M83 during was a Pontiac commercial and in the background was this music that I needed to hear more of. So of course I had to go straight to trusty Google for "Song in Pontiac Commerical"...there it was..."Don't Save Us from the Flames". Great track! Their newest release "Saturdays = Youth" is also receiving lots of great reviews and they are touring with The Killers throughout the US. Fingers crossed that I'll catch them in Austin next month!!
  • Deerhunter is a group from the ATL and is the masterpiece of frontman Bradford Cox. I was fortunate to see them perform in New Orleans at One Eyed Jacks in December...and it was a religious experience....well except for the stupid kids who decided to mosh at the show. Really? Who moshes outside of a 311 concert? Regardless if they fall under the oxymoron of a genre, ambient punk (huh?)....don't mosh, it'll only get you made fun of by the band...and that's never a good thing. I digress...the albums "Cryptograms" and their latest "Microcastle" are amazingly amazing. It's unlike anything I've ever heard and I've heard a lot....once you hear "Nothing Ever Happened" and it's 5 minutes of awesome guitar solos, you'll understand where I'm comin' from.
  • Other recs: She & Him (Zooey Deschanel & M. Ward...fantastic), the new Killers album, Ra Ra Riot, Stars EP "Sad Robot", Coldplay's "Glass of Water" from the "Prospekt's March" EP, Animal Collective "Merriweather Post Pavilion"....

As a bonus for reading this installment, you get a few movie recs. Oh goodie! The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a beautiful movie! If you were a fan of Forrest Gump and if you have any love for the great city of New Orleans (or Brad Pitt/Cate Blanchett), I HIGHLY recommend this movie...but bring your endurance and some tissues. Slumdog Millionaire is up for lots of awards, which means that I desperately needed to see it before the awards season begins. I didn't really know what it was about going in...and it was extremely entertaining. Great flick!! A fellow Arcade Fire junkie and I watched their "Mirrior Noir" documentary a few weeks ago....if you've seen them live or want to, download it and enjoy!