Sunday, July 27, 2008

Things I’ve Never Done Before: Day 7: The Guy with 3 Names

Category: Music
I went out to a big ol' piece of land in J-Town on Saturday evening to see a concert: Bonnie Prince Billy, or Will Oldham, as you may know him.

I first heard of him while I was at NYU, when my good friend Danny bought me a Palace Brothers CD. I loved that record, but mostly because I was homesick. It was good to know someone from Louisville was known outside of Louisville. And as far as the songwriting, I didn't really understand why I loved it so much; i couldn't tell you what any of the songs were about. It was like early My Morning Jacket stuff -- you can't really understand what he's singing, but it doesn't matter because the overall vibe of the record is cool.

But I never really embraced Will Oldham like so many hipsters did. It just wasn't really my thing, and I think there are so many talented singer-songwriters from here, that his fame confused me.

His concert in J-Town was great. I especially loved hearing Danny Kiely rock out on the upright bass, and the beautiful Cheyenne fiddle away and sing sing sing.

It was a lovely evening ... perfect summer night, no rowdy drunks, early show that started on time, and the music was surprisingly beautiful.

SO much better than CATS!


Funny, my week of things-i've-never-done officially ended last night, but I somehow managed to do several new things today. I played at Forecastle. I wrote a song about the Kennedys while Robert F. Kennedy was speaking. I think technically, he opened for me, seeing as I started singing immediately after he finished. I also met a bunch of new people, and sprayed strangers with sunscreen. I'm a big believer in sunscreen. I wonder how many days in a row I can do new things? See folks, this is why my birthday doesn't bother me. To quote Cancer Boy from Kids in the Hall: "Every day's a gift!"

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Things I’ve Never Done Before: Day 5: Annie Get Your Gun

"Kaelin, don't embarass me!"

That's what Peter (Searcy, of course) said as we were about to walk into the gun shop at the Knob Creek Firing Range. I got completely sick to my stomach as we walked in, but I managed to keep my Liberal comments to myself. I did think that pink gun was kind of cute. And when we were picking out a target, I thought the cartoon "bad guy" was funny.

I really don't want to get into any sort of Second Amendment debate here, but wow, was it really really scary. Also, our trip required a long drive down Dixie Highway, which was also scary in its own way. I don't know that I've ever driven down Dixie Highway before, so mark this up to two new experiences.

Before Tuesday, I had never even touched a gun before, or even seen one up close that wasn't on a policeman on the New York subway.

But in the spirit of trying new things, I agreed when Peter suggested we go to Knob Creek.

It amazes me that I could just show up, sign in, (no ID required), and start shooting. The guys next to me were shooting assault rifles. Someone had a machine gun. A nice couple was firing off those kinds of guns that you strap on your shoulder and hold near your waist. (I don't know my gun lingo.)

But the weapon that Peter guided me through was some sort of handgun, or pistol (is that the same thing?) -- called a Makarov, apparently the standard issue gun for the KGB. Historically, I found that cool. In the moment, I found it terrifying.

When I was standing there, pointing the gun out into the open field, I honestly wasn't sure that I was going to pull the trigger. The only thing I can compare it too is standing on the edge of the high diving board and preparing yourself for the jump. You're not quite sure what to expect, but once you do it, there's no turning back. I hesitated, while Searcy cheered me on, and the guy next to me fired off the loudest noisemaker of a gun I have ever heard.

I pulled the trigger. And the recoil wasn't as bad as expected, but i was gripping fiercely out of nervousness. I wasn't expecting the shells (is that right?) to come exploding off to my right. I couldn't even think about aim because I was getting over my fear and expectations. Apparently, I did hit the cartoon bad guy in the nuts, though not on purpose.

After maybe three rounds of me getting used to the idea that I was shooting a KGB gun, I decided to actually try to aim at something. We had set up two bowling pins, a water bottle, and a Welch's Grape Juice bottle, next to our cartoon bad guy target.

Searcy said, "Kaelin, take out that Welch's grape juice." Now, he had successfully destroyed two bowling pins, so I thought I'd try my aim. I hate Welch's grape juice anyway, so I didn't feel guilty aiming that Makarov. And I took one look at its evil purple label, and beady little twist cap, aimed, and blew that motherfucker away. (Pardon my language -- it's the power of the gun!)

Then, feeling cocky (ha ha ha! pun pun pun!), I turned my anger towards a bowling pin, called my shot, aimed, and took it down in one blow. And for my final shot, I nailed the cartoon bad guy in the head.

Little Annie Oakley would've been proud, so I started singing, "There's NO business like SHOW business like NO business I KNOW!! Everything about it is appealing! Everything that traffic will allow!!"

This obviously prompted another, "Kaelin, don't embarass me," so I quieted down and smiled at the nice Eastern European men with the assault rifles. They didn't smile back.

But Peter gave me a huge compliment and said, "'Looks like you might not be totally useless in the Zombie War after all, Kaelin."

He took out the bad guy some more, then when he noticed we only had two bullets left, he turned and said, "Welch's Grape Juice is the zombie. We have two bullets. You kill him, or we die. Got it, soldier?"

I took aim and fired. Low. The dust on the ground in front of Evil Welch-Zombie exploded, but the Juice didn't budge.

"If you don't kill him, we die," Searcy implored.

Last shot. I raised the gun slowly, breathed deeply (well, really i just inhaled because i think i had held my breath during every round), and pulled the trigger one ... last ... time.

And we apparently died because I missed. Although, really, I hit the ground RIGHT next to the bottle. If it had been an actually six-foot-zombie, from 50-yards-away, i would have TOTALLY blown his brains out.

I still hate guns. But it turns out, I'm a pretty good shot.

Stay tuned for the YouTube footage.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Things I’ve Never Done Before: Day 5: SWORDS!!!

Current mood: pirate
Category: Goals, Plans, Hopes
Yesterday was a long day of milling about town, in and out of various meetings.

I had intended on going swimming at Lakeside, but was sidetracked by Ben wanted to go out to lunch. I can always be swayed by lunch. After City Cafe, we wandered into some stores along Bardstown Road. I pass these stores I pass everyday, but there are many that I have never actually entered.

And one of these stores held ... swords! Charlie the bass player (Roostarrrrrrs!) got a variety of them out from behind the locked glass, and instructed me in the ways of the ninjas, princes, and pirates who had come before me. Then there was a bizarro World War One trench knife that doubled as brass knuckles.

I don't understand why there must be so many weapons nowadays. Collectors, I presume. I mean, really, who needs a sword? Or a gun, for that matter.

But guns are another story ... i'll save that for tomorrow's blog.

I've got a birthday to go announce to the world!

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Things I’ve Never Done Before: Day 4: Ethiopian & Bad TV

Category: Goals, Plans, Hopes
Yesterday's adventures were not that adventurous, but it reminded me of something. Even without trying, I seem to find something new everyday. I wonder if I could do this for a whole year. There's a lot of pressure on me with all y'all reading (thanks for the messages and comments), but when I stop thinking about it, something new falls in my lap.

I had a business meeting at Air Devils Inn. I don't think I've ever done that before.

Then my mom and I went to the charming Ethiopian restaurant next door to ADI, Queen of Sheba. Now, I have had Ethiopian food many times before -- it was a favorite when I lived in NYC. But I've never tried to take my family there, no had I been to this particular restaurant. Ethiopian (aka "eat-splar-with-your-fingers-food") is certainly family-food, but it's not for those whose favorite meal is spaghetti.

I should say that my mom was much more well-behaved than anticipated. She asked, "Where's the silverware?" when the food arrived. And she only protested once when I told her she wasn't getting any. The she persevered, tore off a piece of Injera bread and scooped up a bunch of red and yellow splar and ate it. Delicious! And so close to my house.

I had every intention of hitting the town last night, and I stopped by Jen and Charles's house on my way to par-tay. But they have the most comfortable couch.

And Jen gave me a hand massage. (My hands have been aching for days)

And then ... reality TV came on ... I saw my first ever episode of "So you Think You Can Dance," which, I must admit, was terribly entertaining.

So Ethiopian, Hand Massage, So You Think You Can Dance... tame yesterday, but Friday's going to be huge. It's already planned.

I wonder what today holds for me. Suggestions welcome. I've done everything touristy in this town, and I already own a unicycle.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Things I’ve Never Done Before: Day 3: Amaro & Rhodes

All day long I thought I hadn't done anything new, when it turned out that I did something new at 5:00 am.

I was out late -- imagine that -- and went over to see a friend's recording studio. He played me a track off a record he's producing, and I just started playing along on the cool Rhodes. And of course, he was surreptitiously recording the whole thing. So anyway, I did a free session at 5:00am for someone I don't know. I hope whoever it is spells my name right on the liner notes. It was a cool studio though, and new to me.

All that before I even went to sleep.

Then last night, I had a drink of an Italian liqueur called amaro -- brand was Fernet-Branca, which Stacy referred to as "that weird Ferret juice you brought over." It's an herbal tincture, and it tastes like a weird tea/cough syrup sort of mix. It's effect was immediate and mellow, and surprising for only one drink. Really, it was kind of gross, even when Miss Stiletto mixed it with Kahlua.

But it was better than CATS!

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Things I’ve Never Done Before: Day 2: Ollie-Fries!

Yesterday's "Thing I've Never Done Before," wasn't nearly as traumatic as CATS! (I think, from now on, I'll start comparing everything to CATS, much like I used to blame everything on El Nino).

A few weekends ago, a Louisville ex-pat was in town visiting. We were darting around town, hitting a few hotspots, when he had an insatiable craving for an Ollieburger. I announced that I had never been to Ollie's Trolley, the charming tiny boxcar that sits on the corner of 3rd and Kentucky in Old Louisville. "Ollie-fries will change your life." We went there immediately, but alas! it was after 4:30 and they had closed.

So for the past couple of weeks, I've wanted to try these Ollie-fries.

I picked my dad up around 1:00 and we headed downtown. It's tiny, so we had to wait outside for the two people to exit the establishment. My dad got a dressed Ollieburger, and I got Ollie-fries. They were deliciously seasoned and tasted especially yummy when dipped in the Ollie-sauce.

Really, I think what I love most of all is that everything comes with the "Ollie" prefix. It's like "smurfy." I'm going to start applying "Ollie" to everything. I had an Ollie-day!

Thumbs up for Ollie-fries and their special seasoning.

Come to think of it, I did several things I've never done before yesterday:

- I ordered a Caramella from Heine Brothers. I've never had one before. It tasted a lot like a latte, except there was caramel on top of the whipped cream.
- I held a gun. It was a tiny little thing, like something I would strap to my wrist if I were a honky tonk pianist in an old Western bar, and it scared the crap out of me.
- I called someone I've never hung out with before.
- I was supposed to meet five people at Gerstle's last night, and didn't make it because of unforeseen bourbons. Sorry, Mom and Dad and new roommate and Dennie and Peter. At least I knew better than to drive. I guess this one doesn't really count as a good "Thing I've Never Done."

I have no idea what I'm going to do today. So far, it's been rather dull. I was out 'til 5am, so I slept until 11:00. I didn't my morning business finished. I ate breakfast at Twig & Leaf by myself, while blogging, then popped over to Heine Brothers because Twig & Leaf is kind of scary these days.

And I got an Iced Soy Latte, like I do on occasion. I've got to teach at 2:00, so I suppose today's new activity will be done tonight.


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Monday, July 21, 2008

Things I’ve Never Done Before: Day 1: CATS!

Let me preface this by explaining that I absolutely LOVE musical theater. You may notice that a lot of my songs have a cabaret feel to them, and that's no coincidence.

I love the idea that at any given moment in my daily routine, someone may burst into song, and others may sing backup, and we may all spontaneously erupt into a tap dance. How fun would it be to go to Heine Brothers for your daily cup of coffee and see the baristas dancing and singing and whirling the espresso machine in time to the song they all happen to know?

I lived in New York for over five years, and I saw a lot of Broadway shows. I walked past the Winter Garden Theater practically everyday on my way to work at CBS News, but I never ... not once ... NEVER .. had the urge to see the show that had gone on inside, uninterrupted, for over eighteen years and 7485 performances: CATS! .

Even as a middle-schooler, when all my classmates would return to 8th grade with those obnoxious black t-shirts with the disturbing yellow eyes, I had no interest in seeing CATS.

The Quest

I'm having a birthday on Friday, and I looooove birthdays (much more than I love musical theater). In honor of my birthday, I'm celebrating all week long -- each day, doing something I've never done before.

Yesterday, Sunday, Day One of my Quest ... I went to Iroquois Amphitheatre with Jen and Charles ... to lose my CATS virginity.

And, my, was it painful.

I mean no disrespect to the actors; they were great. Especially Jill Sullivan, with whom I taught swim lessons at Lakeside in the past. She was adorable and danced and sang all over that stage. The others were dandy with their constant paw-licking and back-arching.

But could someone please explain to me how the hell this show could possibly have run for almost Eight THOUSAND performances?!? It's been called a "watershed" musical, and maybe it was innovative at the time ... but then, what was that time... 1981? Sure, it's not Oklahoma!, but then, at least I remember more than one song from O!.

How could the man who wrote Jesus Christ Superstar (love it!), have staged a completely pointless, and totally weird show with slithering dancers pretending to be cats? Even the music was less-than-stellar for Lord Webber. And by the time "Memory" was sung, it just made no sense.

I don't know. I keep reading articles about how groundbreaking this show was and how it paved the way for the modern musicals we know. Maybe I am too young and am taking the show for granted. Maybe it's because I'm a dog person.

But, wow, I totally don't get CATS.

Alas! Quests are not supposed to be easy. Onward! At least I tried something new. What now? I was supposed to get my first haircut this morning, but I canceled my appointment at Joseph's because Stacy Stiletto wasn't there to hold my hand (and the video camera). I wonder what newness today will bring. I hope it's less painful than CATS!

* * *

still... looking for British reading/movie suggestions...

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Advice wanted: British history, novels, movies, blogs...

Advice wanted: British history, novels, movies, blogs...
Category: Travel and Places
Despite the gravity of my last blog, I've been in really high spirits since I wrote it. Writing is a great way of purging, and frankly, I don't understand how people who dont' write are able to get over anything.

I also called a good friend the morning after "the incident," looking for a shoulder or advice or something. Actually, I probably wasn't looking for advice. I tend to -- like many folks i know -- just want someone to complain to who will respond, "Yes, that sucks." When someone offers advice, i tend to not want to hear it. But this was GRAND advice. He told me to go home and do some sort of mindless household project. So i finishing scraping wallpaper in my dining room, and spackled, and sanded, and primed most of it. I blasted Gram Parsons and Carole King the entire time and i felt great afterwards. (Except for my fingers -- they are aching and in desperate need of a massage.) I just needed to do something that had a definitive ending because in the music business, nothing is ever actually completed. It felt really good to see results.

Anyway, that's not what this blog is about ...

I'm currently absolutely obsessed with my October tour of the UK. When i go on a trip -- and you can ask any of the bands I tour with -- I am the one who goes to Triple A, gets guidebooks, triptychs, maps, etc. I hit the library hard and get all the best travel books.

When I go overseas, it's much much worse. I want to watch movies set there. I want to read classic novels written by natives. I want to read historical fiction. I want to read straight-up history books. I want to learn the language (i've gotten really good at "English" so i think i'm set for this one).

So I'm asking for your suggestions.

Peter Searcy and I are touring England and Scotland in October. What should we read?

I'll be honest and tell you I prefer historical fiction these days over pure history books. I'm a history buff, but I'm in a novel rut right now. But if you've got any killer non-fiction suggestions, I'm in.

I'm also not really feeling the war books these days. Maybe i'm just feeling extra girly, and would prefer stories of Anne Boleyn and Unicorns over naval histories. Oh, I don't even care. Sure, I admit it: give me a princess over a gun anyday. But then, maybe Peter is not really feeling the princess-vibe, so if you've got a great war story -- especially one about zombies -- let me hear about it.

Post your suggestions on here! Is The Mists of Avalon really as great as I thought it was in high school? I want to re-read it, but there must be a million others I'm missing ...

Give me some homework, people!!

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Carte Blanche

Current mood: strong
***I'd like to request, please, that any of you readers not post this on any message boards or forums. Feel free to link to it, but please don't do the copy & paste thing. Thank you:)****

Emails and blogs are dangerous. When you have a fight with a lover, it's easy to write an angry letter, full of passion, emotion, maybe even threats. But the nice thing about the letter is that it's usually written late at night, and it takes a lot of effort to actually address, stamp, and mail it. This gives you plenty of time to rip the letter in shreds, and with that, feel better about moving on, and not saying anything.

But with an email or a blog -- it's far too easy to hit "send" before you have time to heal. With a blog, you've got thousands of on-lookers reading the very personal letter.

This may be a controversial blog. It's not about a breakup. I've hesitated writing it, and I have waited until i'm calm and have thought it through, out of respect for the parties involved. I actually think the whole situation is both terribly sad and incredibly funny.

I never thought I'd quote Talladega Nights when writing a thoughtful essay, but here goes:

Ricky: With all due respect, Mr. Dennit, I had no idea you'd gotten experimental surgery to have your balls removed.

Mr. Dennit: What did you just say to me?

Ricky: What? I said it with all due respect!

Mr. Dennit: Just because you say that doesn't mean you get to say whatever you want to me!

Ricky: Yes, it does!

Mr. Dennit: No, it doesn't!

Ricky: It's in the Geneva Conventions, look it up!

I played Indianapolis on Wednesday night. It was a solo show with the fabulous Tim Brickley, who had invited me to his Troubadour Series at D'Vine Wine Bar. It was a really fun show, where I met several new folks. I also saw some friends from Louisville, as well as friends from the world of Seven Mary Three. When you play with post-grunge rock bands, and that bands' fans come hear your alt-country-cabaret solo stuff, you wonder if they'll like it at all. Thankfully, there are open-minded people left in this world. Thanks for listening, guys.

Coincidentally, also playing Indianapolis that night was: Days of the New. Why have I not blogged about the previous tours with Travis Meeks? Out of respect, the preservation of mystique, and a professional responsibility not to go disclosing details of everyone else's lives. I am not going to do this in this blog either.

Maybe someday I'll write a book, a travel memoir, like A Walk in the Woods or A Year in Provence. Maybe I'm working on that now, with a goal of finding that balance of information without spilling it all.

The Days of the New show was interesting from an audience perspective. I showed up at 11:30ish, knowing they were supposed to start at 10:30. As I walked in, I noticed a lot of people leaving the club and getting in their cars.

I asked one, "Are they finished?" He replied, "No, they just started," and shook his head.

I know the set-list well, so it's safe to assume that they left after "Touch, Peel & Stand." The crowd of what was maybe 200-300, dwindled down to about 40ish by the last song.

It's not because the band is bad. i want to be perfectly clear of that. On the contrary, everyone in the band is incredibly talented, and even more important, they play really well together. Some of the most beautiful tones I've ever heard come from that band's live shows, and the vibe that happens on-stage when everyone is listening and feeling is incomparable.

But that doesn't translate to a rock club venue. Travis's new music belongs in an art house. It belongs in a place with season-ticket holders, and it needs to be advertised as world-acoustic-rock, not as the post-grunge 90's rock band. I pity him that audience members expect "Touch, Peel & Stand." Travis plays it every show; he knows that many are there to hear it. I wish more audience members would give it a chance, but the new music is very difficult to connect with in a club setting. At times, it feels self-indulgent and [almost] pretentious -- not a word I throw around lightly -- at least, from the perspective of an audience member. It was also interesting to lurk around the crowd and hear what they were saying, seeing as most of them don't know me as the accordion player.

After the show, I said hello to Travis, who was surprised to see me. He was friendly, at first, but soon turned just plain mean.

Which brings me back to Ricky Bobby.

Just because you say, "With all due respect," doesn't give you the right to be a complete asshole. I know that Travis has actual, diagnosed, neurological problems. I have done nothing but defend him to the world since i first met him (see my previous post in April about Days of the New). In Louisville, where he has hurt and offended many people, it is especially difficult to champion him as a kind man with a troubled brain. This week's LEO has a cover story on Travis, written beautifully by Mat Herron. I know I was one of the few people willing to say anything kind about Trav.

But much like saying, "with all due respect,": Just because you have a troubled brain, doesn't give you the right to be a complete asshole. There's a difference between the Aspergers talking, and when it's personal and cruel. I can tolerate one, but will not tolerate the other.

I'm going to leave it at that. I wrote a lot more details, but thankfully, I was able to delete them before addressing, stamping, and dropping it in the mail.

And you know what? I feel a lot better.

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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Legendary Local Shows. (or "This is why I play music")

Legendary Local Shows. (or "This is why I play music")
Current mood: blissful
I grew up at Air Devils Inn. My parents were/are wonderful parents, but I must rat them out on this one ... they took their redheaded pigtailed child to a lot of dive bars.

Then again, I fell in love with Fats Domino on the jukebox at the Germantown Cafe. And I first saw Tim Krekel at Air Devils when I was probably 13 or so. I head a lot of great music from a young age. This is probably why I was listening to John Prine and Carole King when my peers were listening to the Fine Young Cannibals and Poison.

I also remember hearing people like Motorcycle Joe (blog about who he was to come at some point) talk about brilliant shows they had seen. Things like random amazing musicians sitting in with each other, just beautiful moments in live music history.

Where was I going with this... ? Oh yes, an appreciate for live music and a good live show.

I think a lot of local musicians -- everywhere, not just Louisville -- forget that it's called a "show" because it's "show business." You don't have to be contrived or fake, but you should be entertaining. Otherwise, people could just buy your CD and enjoy it in their own homes . When people get a babysitter and hit the town, you should give them what they pay for, even if the cover's only five bucks. Put on a show, love every minute of it, make beautiful music, and mean it.

Last night at the Monkey Wrench was one of those shows that people are going to be talking about for a long time. It was a completely packed venue, full of shiny, happy people, who were t here for the music. It wasn't a hipster scene or a sit-down symphony type It was music-lovers enjoying themselves, and watching an amazing group of musicians enjoying themselves too.

It started just a week ago, when I caught up with my chum Shannon Lawson in Nashville. He mentioned he would be in Louisville for his birthday next week, and I said, "You should play while you're there." And he said, "Well, put a show together." And not being one to take a challenge lightly, I got on the phone and booked a show within an hour. By the time I got back to Louisville 3 hours later, the fabulous Stacy Stiletto had already printed fliers for the Shannon Lawson/Brigid Kaelin show, and by Tuesday, Shannon's photo was in the paper and we had radio interviews booked.

See? You gotta make things happen, people.

And it helps that Shannon is a phenomenal talent with a bit of a reputation in Louisville. I never heard the Galoots back in their day -- i was too young (sorry, Shannon) -- but I have heard music fans and bar owners reminisce about the good ol' days of crazy crowded shows and the Galoots jumping off stages and singing notes that men shouldn't be able to sing.

But the best part of last night wasn't even Shannon (again, sorry, Shannon). It was this unbelievable combination of great Louisville musicians who wanted to be a part of the night. People joined the stage, played with each other, sang backup on songs they didn't know, smiled a lot, shared a bottle of Knob Creek on stage (thanks Hickory!), and left every bit of ego in their guitar cases. Last night was about the MUSIC, as it should be. The crowd danced, sang, bobbed, drank, smiled, laughed, reminisced, and stayed out well past their babysitters' bedtimes. It was beautiful!

Peter Searcy, Shannon Lawson, Johnny Berry, Brigid Kaelin, Hickory Vaught, Paul Culligan ... i mean, from indie-rockers to honky-tonkers and everything in between, i'm still riding high from the adrenaline. I missed Steve Cooley though, I must admit.

It's one of those shows people are going to be talking about for a long time.

I also love CitiScoot for driving me home after splitting that bottle of Knob Creek.

Do you have any local legendary show memories? Or what's your dream ticket here?

I'll let you in on a little secret ... the Original Highlands Festival here in September is shaping up to be pretty much my Louisville Dream Ticket of a show. I can't let any details because they haven't confirmed everyone, but trust me ... block out September 13 for a day of great music in my favorite neighborhood.

Ok, i'm taking a little powernap before i venture up to Air Devils to recount my childhood, er, I mean, to dance to Johnny Berry and the Outliers...

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Sunday, July 6, 2008

My friend, Migraine.

My friend, Migraine.
I have suffered from migraines since I was a kid. I remember when i was in elementary school, I got a horrible headache every time it rained. I didn't know they were migraines until I was about 24, when I realized that the "headaches" I would get were beyond any pain that a traditional headache brings. I didn't bother to take Advil because even three or four pills did nothing to stop the pain, and the nausea that accompanied the splitting pain was aggravated by ibuprofen.

Anyway, enough about pain. This isn't a search for pity; it's just a fact. I suffer from Migraine.

A few years ago, I was getting 8-10 a month. Think about that. Every 3rd or 4th day, you are in such pain that you just can't function. I understood why Virginia Woolf might walk down the lake, or why Vincent would cut off his ear (both famous Migraneurs, FYI). It was debilitating.

Imagine the worst hangover you have ever experienced, and multiply it by 10. That is a migraine. Horrible light sensitivity, vomiting, the feeling of an icepick being jabbed in your skull. And I'm delirious. Between cold chills and sweat, and crying at the inability to sleep it off.

I've come to know it well over the years, mostly by becoming in tune with my own body -- its reactions, quirks, pains, swells, etc. I know redheads suffer more from them, and pain medicines don't work as well on us. I learned that my grandmother had migraines, and would tie a scarf around her head. This trick helps me fall asleep. I learned that marijuana is prescribed to California migraine sufferers as one of the best preventative treatments.

All the legal medicines for migraine made me more ill on a regular basis. I grew my own Feverfew, took extra zinc and vitamin B, all the herbal remedies. Some helped, but my friend Migraine still called several times a month. When the pains got so regular and bad, I began keeping a diary of everything. Food, weather, my body, etc.

The worst discovery was that avocados and bananas are extreme migraine triggers for me. Most wine is a trigger. For some reason, Pinots are usually okay. Cheap alcohol will give me a headache long before I've even got a buzz. It's been a nice excuse to only drink the good stuff. When a man offers to buy me a drink, I say, "I'm drinking Crown and Soda, which i know is expensive, but I'll buy it myself rather than drink Early Times."

Anyway, I've mostly been able to control them. Occasionally, when the storm front comes through on the same day I had too much dairy and a piece of dark chocolate, I will suffer. And I say, "I should have known better."

I hate being a picky-eater, but that slice of cheese or glass of wine is no longer worth the migraine.

And recently, I think I'd discovered a new migraine trigger, which may very well have been there all along ... gluten. People talk about gluten this and gluten that, and I don't even really understand what gluten actually is. (Library trip tomorrow for some science books.) But I know that I gave it up for three days, then had one piece of focaccia bread, and was down with a migraine within an hour.

So i'm experimenting with this gluten-free thing for a bit. It's harder than anything I've ever done. And I've been a vegetarian since high school. Vegan when I choose. That's all easy. It's the gluten-free thing i'm finding difficult.

Anyone out there doing it? Advice? Anything you've learned?

And as for you Migraineurs, i recommend a brilliant essay by Joan Didion called, "In Bed." She writes beautifully of her friend, Migraine.

Other famous Migraneurs: Thomas Jefferson, Georges Seurat, Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh, Lewis Carroll (his hallucinations during migraines were said to have been a huge part of Alice in Wonderland), Virginia Woolf, Julius Caesar, Sigmund Freud, Napoleon, and Elvis Presley.

Maybe they should've avoided gluten. I don't know. I'm at a loss. I've had two migraines in the past two weeks. Not as bad as I've had in the past. But ten times worse than a bad hangover.

Anyone else? Just curious.


Sorry to not have an exciting life-on-the-road blog.

If you want that: Nashville was fun. I ran into my pal, Shannon Lawson, and we decided to put an impromptu show together in Louisville on Friday, July 11th at the Monkey Wrench. 10:00pm . $5. And it's Shannon's birthday that weekend, so come sing one to him. And my birthday is soon soon soon ... so maybe sing to me too:) I'll be there, unless I have a migraine.

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