Monday, September 22, 2008

Amish to Irish. Galas, Nashville, Namedropping.

Current mood: devious
Category: Parties and Nightlife
Still no power at my house. Day Eight of living the Amish life.

Actually, my week has been anything but Amish. I split town on Wednesday night, as I was long overdue for a trip to Nashville. I thought my love affair with that city was over, but it's really an out-of-sight-out-of-mind thing with me. As soon as I crossed the border, I felt electrified, and not just because Nashville happens to have power.

I went to a bunch of the shows for the Americana Music Conference and ran into about a million people I knew. Popped by the awards show at the Ryman on Thursday, where half the industry was there -- Robert Plant, Alison Krauss, Joan Baez, just to name-drop a few.

Then I got antsy because I can't sit still these days, and grabbed a beer or three with an old friend around Lower Broadway. We went to this crazy private club where I'm sure there were lots of people whose names I should know, but I don't. I don't really care, either.

Come to think of it, I'm really really really bad about recognizing celebrities. When I lived in New York, I lived next door to Ricki Lake and saw her daily. It took six months before I realized who she was. I had a class with Christy Turlington and had no idea. Anyway, the point is that, it was one of those crazy Nashville clubs that would probably impress a reader of Country Weekly.

But it wasn't NEARLY as much fun as the Soiree Under the Spires at Churchill Downs on Friday, back in Louisville. Peter and I played a set during the sit-down dinner at the track. It was part of the Ryder Cup, and the party was just fantastic.

I learned that even really expensive champagne still gives you a killer hangover.

And yet again, Peter and I got our picture in the online photo gallery. I always feel funny when we're listed in the bold-faced-names/social scene section of the paper, even if it's just the online edition. I'm not exactly a Social Scene kind of Girl -- i never even had a bat-mitzvah, much less a debutante ball -- so having my photo taken at some fancy gala makes me think I'm hoodwinking someone. Tee hee. It's kind of fun.

I'd like to thank Kristi, my fabulous makeup artist for the night. And Layla, who let me borrow a dress and some electricity.

I also met several important folks in the Irish government, and I tried to talk them into giving me an Irish passport. They actually started the conversation with me, commenting on my red hair and freckles. They had no idea what they were starting by talking to me first ... I immediately told them my name was "Brigid. With a 'D,'" like you're supposed to spell it. This excited them more. I also happened to be sipping on a Jameson's, so I told them maybe they could bend that ancestry rule for me and give me a passport. No dice. But I got their cards, so maybe if I write them a novelty song about moving to Ireland ....


Stay tuned.

Read more:

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Lord of the Flies or Little House on the Prarie?

I love the Highlands.

On Sunday, when it was apparent we wouldn't have power for at least a week, several neighbors decided to have a singalong around a TikiTorch. Monday night, they played Scrabble by candlelight and told ghost stories when it was too dark to count triple-word points. I missed the party last night because I went out in search of vegetables and whiskey and chocolate.

Everyone has emptied their refrigerators. I'm thankful I don't eat meat. Of course, I lost all that vegan chili I made last week that was supposed to last me until Europe. I'm also noticing that these days it's just about as cost efficient to eat out every meal as it is to go to the grocery store, provided you're cooking for one. I think i might just completely give up on the grocery store, and grab bagels, falafels, and fruit as needed. I could probably survive on $5 a day. Maybe I'll sell my refrigerator and use that money to eat for several months.

It's very cute on my street. We all remembered that we already knew each others' names. For some reason, during reality of internet and cable and Nintendo, we conveniently forget that it is polite to ask about your neighbors' business. Now the question seems to be, "Where's the party tonight? Who's grilling out? Scrabble or Yahtzee?" That's what happens when you cant' drive anywhere because all the gas stations are inoperable, and you are stuck hanging out in your own neighborhood.

My roommate, who is from New York, is starting to worry that people are looting and turning primitive and crazy. But honestly, the Highlands is a lot more Little House on the Prairie than Lord of the Flies.

Here's my question: Does the rest of the country have any idea that Louisville was hit so hard? Or is just another example of Kentucky being completely off the radar?

I rather like being off the radar.

Read more:

Monday, September 15, 2008

All-powerful. Except of the electricity type.

My full band (aka Van Kaelin) played a rockin' show at the Highlands Festival on Saturday. It's my favorite festival of the year, and Peter Searcy, Steve Cooley, and Scott Lankford let me go through all my crazy antics, from saw-playing, to accordion/piano wielding, to yodeling Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song."

I forgot how much energy I expend during a show, especially when I play for a full hour in 90-degree weather in Louisville humidity. I was shaking after my show, but I downed several bottles of water. I had at least eight bottles of water between noon and 5.

Then I rocked out during Peter's set and immediately passed out in the back of my Volvo.

And do you know what I was most worried about? That I wasn't finished playing. I was supposed to play with Love Jones at 9:15, and I was sweating profusely, clammy, shaking, dizzy, nauseated, had a major headache, and couldn't muster the energy to talk. Several people thought I was really really drunk.

My drummer's amazing wife, Ashley, saved the day. She's a doctor. A REAL doctor. A surgeon, actually. And she ran to Walgreen's, got me all kinds of OTC amazing drugs, and fed them to me in the proper order. I puked after the Pepcid. But then, I was better. Weak, but better. It was awesome.

Love Jones was a few songs into their set, but I snuck onstage. I was weak, and Ashley continued to bring me club soda between songs. But there is NOTHING like playing music -- and especially playing fun, pop, jazz, swingin', happy happy happy tunes like Love Jones music -- to make you forget that you just threw up.

And after they finished, we broke down the set, and I bolted over to the Monkey Wrench to play an after-party jam session with Shannon Lawson and Love Jones.

I think it was the multiple Excedrin Migraines and the caffeine within that kept me going until 5 am. But I played my ass off, and I had a blast.

Thanks, Ashley.


And now ... I'm at Heine Brothers, which is apparently where everyone in the Highlands spends the end of the world.

It doesn't quite have that apocalyptic feeling up here because everyone is in a good mood.

For those of you not in Louisville:

Yesterday, I woke up, glanced at the clock, and saw it was 10:40. Then when I looked at the clock a few minutes later, the clock was off. No power.

I went outside and it looked like the beginning of The Wizard of Oz. I've never seen the trees bend like that, and the wind was singing like [insert fabulous simile. i'm too tired to come up with anything].

The plan was to head to the Monkey Wrench to retrieve my accordion, etc., but I ended up staying at the Wrench until 5ish. It never rained, but the wind was amazing.

Wow, I'm really not feeling bloggy today, so I'm going to cut this short.

Quick facts:

%75 of Louisville electric customers are out of power.
Seventy-five percent!
School's are closed.
A tree fell on a moving car, on my street. The person walked away with a scratch.
Everyone is out of batteries.
There was a line out the door of Heine Brothers Coffee.
People are freaking out because they can't charge their cell phones.
I brought two power strips to the coffee shop about an hour ago, and they are all filled up already.
Everyone is in a really good mood.
The electric company says it'll be two weeks before everyone's power is back on.
I'll be in Europe by then.

My dad is sitting next to me in Heine Brothers, waiting for me to post this blog. And probably waiting for me to unplug my laptop so he can plug in his cell phone.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Things I’ve Never Done: Die Harder (The Sequel)

Things I’ve Never Done: Die Harder (The Sequel)
Current mood: animated
My week of things I've never done before was so popular that I've decided to see how many more adventures I can have. It wasn't a conscious effort this time. I just noticed that the past couple days, I've done some brand new things.

Also, I am in a constant state of anxiety lately, which is new for this well-adjusted overzealous redhead. I can't sit still. I've got a zillion things to do. I can't focus long enough to read a magazine article, much less a book. It's really really weird to me. I think it's because I'm really freaked out about the election. I can't wait to get over to Europe to hear what the rest of the world is thinking.

Anyway ... to distract me from existential angst, I am bringing back the feature: "Things i've Never Done Before."

Sunday, Sept. 7 2008

Played with an orangutan.

I met my cousin Shannon at the zoo to have lunch. She volunteers at the Islands exhibit. The Islands is one of my favorite parts of the zoo in the summertime because that's where they house the penguins. When it's 90 degrees, 100% humidity, and you've been walking around the zoo for an hour, the penguin exhibit is just about the best thing ever. Of course, usually the penguins are all facing the wall and staring at some unknown factor on the ceiling. I like to imagine they are doing Tai Chi, just verrrrry slowly.

Anyway, Shannon's colleague at the Island exhibit invited me backstage for a closer look at some of the animals. (I know it's not technically called "backstage," but I have always referred to behind-the-scenes tours as backstage, much like I refer to halftime as "intermission.") We saw tigers, Siaming babies, and several other bizarro animals, but the best part was going to the back of the Orangutan exhibit.

I had to wear a mask -- not for my safety, but for the orangutans'. Apparently, and sensibly, they can contract all kinds of airborne diseases from an icky human like me, and seeing as I haven't been vaccinated for strange new diseases, it was hospital mask time for me.

Amber, a sassy female, pointed at me, apparently curious about what was in my backpack. Tracy, the trainer, said she does this to all the ladies, and she coaxes many of them into emptying their entire purses. I shook my head at Amber and told her I wasn't showing her. So she went and found a stick for me and poked it through the gate. I went to take it, but Amber held tight. Then she took the stick back and smelled where I had grabbed it. Clever clever girl.

I could go on and on about them... but i've got some other days of new things!

Monday, September 8

My First Haircut AND My first National Radio Campaign

Don't get freaked out. It was only about 3 inches. But now it's even CURLIER, so it springs up and looks too short for my liking. But actually, it feels great, and I needed it desperately. Sean at Joseph's did a spectacular job. It helped that Stacy Stiletto brought me a Mimosa the second I arrived. My dad videotaped it, but it's honestly not all that exciting. It was nice to have someone else cut it though. Easier than doing the reacharound.

ALSO .. my record officially went for "Adds" on national Americana and AAA Radio today. And it got six right away, yay, literally from coast-to-coast ... many more stations to follow, I hope.

Tues, Sept 9

Frijoles Negros

Rob from the Muckrakers (one of my favorite fellow bloggers) emailed me a secret amazing recipe, and I've been cooking all afternoon. I've never actually had the patience to soak dried black beans properly. It was totally worth the wait.


I hope you're all making plans to be at the Highlands Fest on Saturday!

12:00 Leigh Ann Yost /John Gage
2:00 Shannon Lawson (as in the Shannon who sings on my record)
3:00 The Ladybirds
5:00 Danny Flanigan and the Rain Chorus
6:00 Peter Searcy Band (me ..boards!)
7:30/8ish Tift Merritt
9:30-11 LOVE JONES (me ..boards!)

It's FREE. It's on the 900 Block of Baxter Avenue. It's going to be spectular. I hear that Kathy has an art booth there, so go buy some of her amaaaazing earrings.

Also, we are having an After-Party at the Monkey Wrench after the Highlands Fest. So many great Louisville musicians are going to be in town that we figured it would be a shame to waste a perfectly good night without jamming. It's going to be an all-star rockout, featuring Peter Searcy, Shannon Lawson, folks from Love Jones, me, our good friends, people rockin' out, etc. $5 cover, music around 11:30. Good times.


Read more:

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

CATS Part 2.

Category: Pets and Animals
I love house-sitting. At NYU, when I had four roommates and no privacy, I relished the weekend because I was generally house/pet-sitting for some upper-middle class family.

Some weekends I lived on the Upper West Side, and walked sweet Chas, the Springer Spaniel, down Riverside Drive. I'd take the cash the families left me and eat brunch on Amsterdam Avenue before strolling over to Central Park West. Other weekends I would hibernate at 808 Broadway, just a block away from my dorm, but in a gorgeous pre-war building with high ceilings, the most amazing Egyptian cotton sheets, insane cable, and two sweet kitty cats whose names escape me.

I have a house now in a great part of town, and I thought my house-sitting days were over. That is, until I needed roommates. I love my roommates. There are no crazies here. They are each smart, motivated, creative women who rock. But I'm craving more and more alone time, and I spend hours in my cave of an unfinished basement because I can't get anything done with people around.

And so I have returned to house-sitting.

I love staying at the Searcy abode because they have a hot tub AND a drum kit. Plus, it's a fun area of town that I don't often frequent. I'm a Highlands snob at heart, so anywhere out of 40205-04 is like going to another country -- awesome to visit, but nice to leave behind.

A few weeks ago, another friend, who shall remain nameless, asked me to house-sit. I accepted.

What follows is an actual account of how I tried to let myself into her home and feed her cat.

Monday. 10:00 pm. Clifton area.

After a long night of rehearsal, I decide to skip Gerstle's Bluegrass Mondays and go straight to my apartment-for-the-week. I have been to said apartment on several occasions, and have scratched the kitty's ears. Only once previously did Roscoe the Kitty attack my ankles. It was funny, and it only hurt a little. Roscoe had been loving to me since that time, so I wasn't afraid.

I unlock and open the door quietly, tossing my purse on the sofa. Roscoe isn't to be seen. Suddenly, my toes and ankle are in searing pain, and I look down to find myself falling prey to what seems to be a miniature LION. This cat -- the cat that is the image of a sweet domestic traditional-looking housecat -- is DIGGING its freshly-trimmed claws and SINKING its teeth into my fair, freckled legs.

So I freak out. I'm sure I squealed or possibly even screamed. I shook my leg, trying to get the cat to detach, and he ROARS (seriously, he roared) while backing away a few feet. I scramble back towards the door when he attacks again, his paw reaching through the tiny crack in the door that I refuse to slam shut for fear of crushing the lion's toes. Were he not my super-good-friend's cat, and were I instead in a horror film involving domesticated house cats turning into fast-moving zombies (not like 1970's zombies, but like 28 Days Later rage-victim zombies), then I definitely would have slammed the door.

Obviously, I cannot stay here.

I call Peter.

"Kaelin, it's a ****ing cat. Get back in there and show the cat who is boss. No, I'm not going to come over there and help you. Goodnight."

Okay, he's right. Homo sapien versus Felis catus. I should totally win this boxing match.

I try the back door. Roscoe is not fooled, and he lunges toward my pant leg just as I close the door.

I'm about to get back to my car and leave when I remember that I have left my purse on the sofa!!!!

(Note: At this point, I need you, gentle reader, to imagine Elaine from Seinfeld as I walk you through my next movements.)
I search about the yard with my iPhone MyLite application and eventually find a stick. Slowly, I open the door. I am attacked immediately, but this time I have a weapon. I poke the kitty, simultaneously shouting gibberish that I'm hoping will translate into, "Get the hell away from me you insane beast! My Great Dane could step on you and you would be incapacitated, you Napoleonic twit!"

Roscoe pounces again, and I swear he was talking exorcist talk this time. I grabbed a Velocity that was on the coffee table and began crumpling it, waving it around madly until I could reach my purse. Then I threw the paper down and raced out the door.

Safely on the porch, I stared through the glass window that separated me from death. Roscoe was furious, and began beating against the pane madly. Seriously. I wish I had video-taped this cat, ferociously boxing, scowling, growling, glaring at me.

I felt safe outside, and I lowered my face to the glass to look at him. He went berserk. I got scared and ran away.

Monday. 10:35 pm. Gerstle's.

Bluegrass and bourbon calm me down, as I relay the story of the Killer Kat™ to Steve Cooley and the boys. They are not sympathetic. "It's a cat, Kaelin!"

So I went back to my basement in the Highlands and thought about how much I love my doggie.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

On being a Grammar Snob.

Current mood: smart
My high school English teacher refused to grade a paper if it had any grammatical errors. He would simply hand it back to you if there was a single misplaced comma, typo, split infinitive, misused em-dash, or any other punctuation problems. He would not tell you where the mistake was; you had to find it yourself.

This may seem harsh to you, but I appreciated the value of a grammatically-perfect essay. It trained everyone in the class to love Strunk and White. It trained us to shudder at a misused "whom." We all became grammar snobs. After all, there must be order somewhere in this crazy world.

I've been writing bits and pieces here and there for Velocity Weekly, a mainstream Gannett-owned weekly newspaper, and I am irritated with them. For the past two pieces I've written, they have: EDITED OUT MY SEMICOLON!

I love a good semicolon, and, dammit, I know how to use one properly.

Does Velocity believe that its readers are not intelligent enough to understand the subtleties a semicolon can convey? Does the copy reader not believe that I used it correctly? Do they not care that it changed the meaning behind my sentence?

What i wrote: Sometimes the song works as a
nice, sweet goodbye; sometimes it's a nice, sweet
middle finger. Either way, it's always about keeping

What was published: Sometimes the song works as a
nice, sweet goodbye, but sometimes it's a nice, sweet
middle finger. Either way, it's always about keeping

The difference is subtle, but, to me, it's vast.

When I expressed my annoyance at being edited, a friend sent me an essay about the semicolon. The article suggests that the semicolon is "girlie," and that America doesn't use it anymore because of its nuances and complexities. Whatever.

Also, a few weeks ago, when I wrote a review of Nas's new record, the copy editor changed a possessive apostrophe. The type read: "Nas' record" instead of "Nas's record." I know you're going to fight me on this one. The rule, for the record, is that when it's an ancient name ending in "s", such as Jesus or Aquinas, you just add an apostrophe to create the possessive, as in Jesus' or Aquinas' With a modern name, such as Nas, you add the apostrophe-plus-s. The verdict is still out on what to do with Elvis. I vote for Elvis' because he's just that important.

Yes, I understand that grammar is constantly evolving and the rules are malleable. But just because the word "irregardless" is in the dictionary now doesn't mean that we should use it.