Monday, December 27, 2010


I wonder why it is that we, as New Englanders, suddenly acted like Texans in response to this Nor'easter. It was pretty obvious from the barometric pressure charts that we weren't really due for much of a snowfall. Yet it seemed that people talked about how they were boarding up their windows and stocking up on canned goods as if it were 12/22/12. But it does come with its perks. My wife had herself an official snow day, and we're proud to announce that we've fully taken advantage of it. Nothing like a half day on the couch, complete with tea, Great homemade turkey soup, bad movies and very happy (yet slightly confused) dog. Scooter just can't figure out why we've all been together in the same place for close to 72 hours. Not that he's complaining.

So the holiday season is finally over. Well, I don't really count rookie night on the 31st. So it's time for many things. Here's a short list.

1) Building a home studio with producer/musician wizard Rob Connelly.
2) Painting our bedroom, walk in closet, and upstairs bathroom. Finally.
3) Quitting smoking (?!). I seem to be down to about 10 a day. Down from 20+, that is. Crossing my fingers on that one.
4) Getting back to the gym at least 4 times a week. Something that I haven't done since October.
5) Prepping mentally and financially for a LONG six months of touring with Lloyd Cole and The Small Ensemble.
6) Recording and releasing (digitally) as many songs as I can get done through January. Seems like the perfect month for it. Would love to sell as much as possible. Would you buy individual songs for 99 cents? I mean, if they don't suck?
7) Spending as much time with friends as possible. I sense many a dinner gatherings at our house to start the new year.
8) Cashing in on a couple of gift cards to the movie theater.
9) Playing NBA 2K11 as the Springfield Armor for a full season.
10) Play guitar. Lots and lots of guitar.

Not so bad, I suppose. For one month.

I am curious, what do you plan on doing during the January bore-fest?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Small Ensemble heads back to oui.

Looks like we get to see more of France this Spring. Dates just in for The Small Ensemble. Many, many more to come. To the tune of 5 more weeks on top of this. Ballpark. I have heard some countries thrown around, but I don't want to throw them out there just in case it's incorrect. But as soon as I know, I promise to post them on here. As you can see, these dates are already on sale! Just for the record, I can't wait to see Nice.

Wed 23-Mar France, Nancy, L'Autre Canal

Fri 25-Mar France, Tours, Escal

Sat 26-Mar France, Nantes, Onyx

Sun 27-Mar France, Rennes, Etage

Tue 29-Mar France, Lyon, Salle Moliere

Wed 30-Mar France, Toulouse, Bikini

Thu 31-Mar France, Bourdeaux, Rocher de Palmer

Sat 2-Apr France, Nice, Salle Grappelli

All photos by Laura Patterson of Fresh Photography. Live at Glee - Nottingham, England. Please give credit if you use them elsewhere. Cheers!

Shiny pictures for the Holidays

The Town? Highly recommended. I am shocked that Affleck can step away from his usual hideousness long enough to direct and star in this throwback, inner-city thriller in the vein of 1990's widely ignored State of Grace. Sure, it's silly. And most certainly not flawless. But for those of you longing for this genre to make a comeback (I really thought that 2007's We Own the Night was going to do just that, but nope) let's hope that this can kick start a whole new batch of smart, tough thrillers. And no, I don't want to hear anyone ask "What about The Departed?". If you need to ask that then you need to go back and listen to Nicholson's magical Boston accent. And by magical I mean that it keeps disappearing and reappearing like some sort of Copperfield cast off. Which was one of its very many unappealing aspects. As a matter of fact, Alec Baldwin was the only person that justified my admission.

If nothing else, The Town should at least allow us to see more of Jeremy Renner (whose break out party was in the Oscar nominated The Hurt Locker back in '08). Renner should not only get more work, but if he doesn't get a best supporting nod for his role in The Town then heads should roll. And he should be in charge of rolling them. His character means even more to us folk from Western Massachusetts that have met this guy in real life, a few too many times.

It's seems like it has been a few years (yep, it has) since there has been a ration of films out at the same time that actually appeal to me. Excited to see The Fighter, True Grit (great poster!), Black Swan (my great friends Niko Tavernise and Rob Connelly worked on this!), The Inside Job and The King's Speech.

I'll let you know how I feel about them one by one. Well, if Santa brings me that gift certificate that he usually brings me.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Not the worst idea

Maybe it's not the worst idea to write here everyday. Even if I have nothing to say. Which is definitely most days. Like today. I've been doing nothing but buying (then wrapping) presents, watching movies on the couch with Scooter (and then my wife at night), trying to save as much money as possible by not leaving the house (a plan that I will keep for all of January) and playing guitar. The kind of shit that would make the most insipid of facebook users salivate. Just imagine how many status updates you could have with inane events like this.

"I want it to snow before Christmas."

"I just had 3 cookies that my son and his friend made."

"We just got a new bookcase."

And on and on. Feel free to pillage any of the above for use in your very own profile. I am such an asshole.

The Small Ensemble is going to New Zealand and Australia in February.

Thu 3-Feb New Zealand, Dunedin, Glenroy Auditorium
Fri 4-Feb New Zealand, Christchurch, Isaac Theatre Royal
Sat 5-Feb New Zealand, Auckland, Mercury
Sun 6-Feb
Mon 7-Feb New Zealand, Wellington, Paramount Theatre
Tue 8-Feb New Zealand, Napier, The Cabana
Wed 9-Feb
Thu 10-Feb Australia, Brisbane, Old Museum
Fri 11-Feb Australia, Sydney, Enmore Theatre
Sat 12-Feb Australia, Melbourne, Thornbury Theatre
Sun 13-Feb Australia, Melbourne, Thornbury Theatre
Mon 14-Feb option for 3rd show
Tue 15-Feb
Wed 16-Feb Australia, Adelaide, The Gov
Thu 17-Feb Australia, Perth, Becks Music Box - Perth International Arts Festival

Rob and I are going to build a home studio in my office in January. So I can finally get back to recording my own stuff. Thinking of trying to release as much stuff as possible in 2011. Even if it is just rough, unadulterated tracks from home.

The Spurs are 24-3.

The Giants only need 1 win to lock up a playoff spot.

The Sox have signed Gonzalez, Crawford, Jenks and Wheeler.

In 2010 I took my first ever flight (which then turned into 11 within 3 months), visited and performed in 8 different countries in Europe, played shows in Pittsburgh Cleveland Detroit and Chicago, got a grant for work on our house and Jen and I got to get away to the Cape. Here's to hoping that 2011 is a bright as 2010 was. From the shape of things on the previous list (Australia, New Zealand, music and sports), it ain't looking too bad.

So yeah, I guess I'll try to write a little something everyday. I know I've said that before, but what the hell. Let's give it another go.

Hope you are all well,


Sunday, February 07, 2010

Lloyd Cole Small Ensemble tour Day 4 - The Magic Bag - Detroit, MI (1/28/10)

This early morning load out was a bit whiter than the others. There was already at least an inch or two on the roads outside our hotel. And there were almost complete white out conditions in the air. 40mph wind gusts turned snow into blankets. I was grateful that everyone wanted me to drive. It was my van for one, and I am a hideously nervous passenger in inclimate weather. Heart palpitations and such. We were all worried that we wouldn't arrive in Detroit until load in time which means

1) No relaxing meal or downtime of any sort
2) We wouldn't be able to check into our hotel until 1AM.

Well, someone in our company was obviously owed by the karma police. As I turned the ignition in the van the sun appeared and the snow just flat out stopped. What had Oakes and I nearly blowing down the street only moments before, just upped and left. It was a blessing in disguise and we were able to make it to the beautiful and sleek Westin Hotel at our planned time of 2PM.

It was a combination of general wear and tear, a little bit of earlier stress from wondering if we were going to have to go 25mph from Cleveland to Detroit that led us all to the restaurant in the hotel for some Americana lunch. We all then agreed that it was time to just hit our rooms and rest up for the hour or so that we had before load out. Oakes and I shared a room each night, and during this break we were just flipping through the tube and landed on some hideous looking film that would just provide sonic wallpaper for our heavy eyes. It was called PS I Love You and it starred Hilary Swank and that 300 guy. The only reason I mention it is the song during the opening credits was Camera Obscura's "Lloyd, I'm ready to be heartbroken".

A song these Scottish indie-popsters wrote in direct response to "Are you ready to be heartbroken".

Alanis would call this "irony". And again, she'd be wrong.

The Magic Bag in Ferndale was only a fifteen minute drive from our hotel and we arrived right on time. Terry (the clubs in house soundman) was there to greet us and we were loaded in and set up within no more than 15 minutes. We were really starting to get this down. Here's what the Magic Bag looks like from stage.

And this during Mr. Cole's soundcheck...

Nice place! Turns out that the show sold out as well. Which was exciting to hear. After soundcheck we had about an hour or so before stage call. Matty and Oakes tried to figure out the score in the "That's what she said" game. I believe it was 9-6, Cullen at this point.

Lloyd adjourned to the balcony where the soundboard was. It was warm up there and he was really fighting not feeling well. Oakes and I ran out to an Irish pub that was no more than a block away. We smoked our cigarettes in the freezing cold evening air only to walk into the pub and find ashtrays on the bar. Matty joined us after finishing up some battery checking back at the club. We sat and chewed the fat while listening to Radiohead and The Pixies on the pub stereo. I think there was some B-52's on there too. However, as fast as we got there, it was time to go back for the show.

We got ready in our punk rock dressing room. I had a brief chance to listen to a couple of Lloyd's solo songs before we all went on. I'll tell ya, the guy could barely talk all day because his voice was so shot from the cold that he had. And he walks up there, plugs in and absolutely kills it. I really don't know how he does it. Quite impressive.

We all took the stage to a very receptive audience, including a bunch of people in the SRO section right in front of the stage that were singing along to every word. Man, his fans are great. We played a fun set and did all the running around we had to do after the show and then finally had a chance to meet a bunch of folks. Once again, everyone we got to talk to was completely welcoming and incredibly kind and friendly. We even met a few people that were at the show in Cleveland the night before. That's a cool feeling. There are three videos of us from this show. First one is set opener "No Blue Skies". Followed by a solo version of "Rattlesnakes" and finished with a short clip of "Why I Love Country Music". Check 'em out.

Can't wait to get back to The Bag!

That's what...ahhh, you get it.

We got back to the hotel around 1AM and we all immediately parted ways because we had a pretty early get-outta-dodge call in the morning. The drive to Chicago was a little longer than the other two, and Oakes had to catch a train. Had a great time in Detroit Folk City!

On to Chicago.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Lloyd Cole Small Ensemble tour Day 3 - The Winchester - Cleveland, OH (1/27/10)

Another yogurt, banana and glass of OJ are staring at me. It's 8:30AM and Matty just pulled the van around front. Six guitars, two banjos, a mandolin, several bags of gear and clothes and all five of us somehow fit pretty well in my labored '96 Plymouth. Lloyd is at the wheel. Dan as his navigator. Matty, Oakes and I settle into the back bench for the trip to Cleveland. The three of us in the back are sad to be leaving Pittsburgh, we had such an unexpected good time in that city. But we're all equally excited to play again tonight in Cleveland.

Thanks to the glories of modern technology, Oakes whips out his portable DVD player (that's what she said) and the three of us nuzzle up to a few episodes of season 2 of The Office. Before we know it, there is a gigantic billboard of Lebron James in his grandest Jesus pose. We waved hello to Jacob's Field (actually, it has a new name now and none of us knew when that happened) and lo and behold, Lloyd has driven us to the hotel. We were staying at The Renaissance in downtown Cleveland.

We were all stunned with the magnitude of the place. For instance, this is what we walked into...

Sure was a long way from sleeping on some guys floor that you met at the show. With your head in a pizza box and bong water spilled at your feet.

We loaded in, checked in and took a scant few minutes to gather our thoughts before we were downstairs having dinner at Sans Souci in the Hotel.

I had an excellent tortilla soup for starters and a grilled swordfish salad with fresh arugula, chopped red onion, yellow pepper and roasted grape tomatoes. So good. Lloyd, Dan and Matty wanted to catch a little downtime after lunch and before load out so Oakes and I decided to peruse the mall that was connected to the hotel. We had a moment of thinking that we might be able to squeeze in a movie, but we were just barely too late to go to anything that would get us to the lobby on time. So we settled for this photo booth.

Yup. The original plan was for me to leave this on Lloyd's music stand before the encore. But I forgot. So I handed it to a random fan that was waiting in line for an autograph and asked him to ask Lloyd to sign it. Best part is, Lloyd actually signed it. Brian's got that copy.

I snagged a gag gift for Jen in a sports store (I had the goal of getting her some random souvenirs in every city that we were in). And it was back to the hotel to crap out for an hour. Speaking of crap, look at how big our bathroom was.

Another load out about an hour later and we were on our way to the gig. We were playing at The Winchester. It was only a few miles from our hotel. No more than a 15 minute drive. We arrived at 5PM. We were instantly greeted by Rebbecca. She was the multi-tasker of the night. Bartender, host, server. She was incredibly nice and went well out of her way to make sure we had everything we needed. The owner of the club was equally as welcoming. Jim, I think? Shit, I hate forgetting people's names. But I do it all the time. Anyway, their club was really nice too.

The dressing room was a little small, but it had a great collection of posters. For some reason, I just love this photo.

I really like the blue wall, for starters. And there's just something about the juxtaposition of the giant Chicago poster, Lloyd and an iphone. Sounds like the start of a joke. Lloyd Cole, an iphone and a giant Chicago poster walk into a bar. That's what she said.

Can suits rock? Matty thinks so. And I agree.

We had a great night playing. The crowd was receptive and warm and the people that we met after the show couldn't have been nicer. The only thing that ruined the night was the opening act. A self proclaimed "master of metal on mandolin". He called himself Pegasus Vending. I took this photo of him during his take on Shadows Fall's "Crushing Belial".

What a douche.

But in all seriousness, if you want to relive some of the night there are some videos from Dan (who came all the way up from Florida with his wife for the show!) that you can watch by clicking here! There's even a sneak peak at a song from our forthcoming record on there. Thanks for everything Dan! Send Dan a nice message if you watch some of the clips, cause he's a heck of a nice guy.

We ended the night listening to the Louvin Brothers and various other country acts on the XM Bob Dylan radio show. Just the five of us and Jim and Rebbecca. Such nice folks. But alas, it was back to the hotel where I nearly ruptured Oakes' spleen by making him laugh. I wish I could share the joke, but I don't really think I should. Maybe if you really want to know...

Off to Detroit tomorrow.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Lloyd Cole Small Ensemble tour Day 2 - Club Cafe - Pittsburgh, PA (1/26/10)

At 9AM I found myself standing in front of the breakfast bar in the hotel lobby. Pleasantly rested and ready to kill this yogurt, banana and orange juice. We received a complimentary USA today (why does anyone buy that paper?) that I flipped through at lightning speed. I remember reading something about Tim Tebow's mother. And during the Super Bowl, he is doing an ad for some pro-life outfit. Maybe that means that he'll squeeze a couple more touchdowns out of Jesus when he gets to the NFL. Pardon the sarcasm. Actually, wait. No. Don't.

Dan Dryden (Philip Glass' sound man of nearly 30 years) arrived safely from his home in NYC and checked in. Brian, Matt and I had a handful of hours to ourselves before load in so we decided to go check out the Warhol museum and PNC park. To our excitement, we learned that the hotel's shuttle service would drive us there for free. We were picked up by Mr. Chip. A little guy, that we could tell was loaded with Pittsburgh history. On our drive over we noticed a woman holding a cardboard sign outside of a city building. There were a few people gathered around. Upon inquiring with Mr. Chip we learned that fairly recently a African American student with dredlocks was beaten within an inch of his life by 3 plain clothes cops. They thought that the 20 oz. Mountain Dew bottle in his pocket was a gun. Whoops. As we drove by the woman with the sign, we finally got a look at what it said. In bold, magic marker letters it read "FUCK YOU PIGS!". We all know that there are alot of good cops out there, but as far as this goes? Fair enough.

Mr. Chip dropped us at the door of the Warhol museum. We had a few hours before lobby call so we didn't feel rushed. There was a Shepard Fairey exhibit throughout the museum which was fun for me. I remember being in NYC in '89 and '90 and seeing those Andre Has A Posse stickers popping up everywhere in the village. He's come a long way since. Even designing the now infamous Obama:Hope poster that was everywhere. I was never much of a Warhol guy. I mean, I had a great appreciation for him for his role in contemporary pop art, but I was never really intrigued by his work. This visit changed that. I still don't really get the urinating-on-a-canvas thing amongst a handful of other pieces. But as a whole, the museum really helped me realize how important he was as not only an artist, but as a politician in some sense. He really helped force a new identity upon what was seen as taboo in this country.

One small pack of refrigerator magnets from the museum later, we were around the corner and down the street to PNC park. Being an avid baseball fan, I have heard from more than a few people that PNC is one of the nicest, if not the nicest park in the MLB. Well, if it's not the nicest, there sure is an argument to be made for it. Sitting at the convergence of the three rivers, you'll be hard pressed to find a prettier view at any park with the exception of the park in San Francisco. We were greeted by huge statues of Willie Stargell and one of my personal heroes, Roberto Clemente.

My brother has been a Pirates fan his whole life, and being a Sox fan, I always found myself rooting for the Pirates as my favorite NL team. Nepotism is a bitch though, for the Pirates haven't had a winning season since the invention of steel. There is a certain charm in that though. The game is almost more pure that way. Without the fair weather fans and whatnot. It's just baseball. For baseball fans. I'll tell ya, I already liked the Pirates before this visit. And now it's safe to say that I love them. Can't wait to go to a game there next year.

Mr. Chip was as prompt as could be (he even ran an extra errand for Matt and sang him a tune on the way!) as we made our way back to go grab a bite to eat (a Lebanese restaurant where I had a excellent falafel sandwich!). And then back to the hotel to start loading the van. We loaded into Club Cafe at 3:30 and immediately went to work. It was great to see Dan again. He came out to do sound for us at our warm up gig at The Brass Cat. And that guy knows his way around a soundboard like nobody's business.

There was a great second floor dressing area that had two separate rooms and a full bath. Everything seemed to be in place. Matty, Brian and I ran down the street to a sports bar and got a pre-show snack. When we returned to the club we met Doug Seymour, who has done work with Lloyd before with the Folksinger series CD's. He is an amazing photographer who has worked with some pretty heavy hitters. Most importantly, he was a hell of a nice guy. He snapped a bunch of photos of us and even a video. This was the last song of our set. And you can hear from the video that the crowd in Pittsburgh was really excited all night long. Hooting and hollering along at all the right times. Click here to see and hear "Lost Weekend".

We had a great time playing, and after the show we met some really nice people. After the meet and greet Dan and Lloyd went back to the hotel. Dan was a little beat from the trip and Lloyd officially seemed to be getting sick. Matty, Brian, Doug and I went back to the bar that we promised to return to. The bartender from the night before wasn't working, but the guy that was heard that we were coming in. What great people. Damn, I wish I could remember the name of the place. Something with a K. On the same street as Club Cafe. I think?

A great time was had. We saw great things, shared great laughs, played a great show. It was official. We might be pretty good at this.

That's what she said.

Off to Cleveland in the morning. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Lloyd Cole Small Ensemble tour Day 1 - Traveling to Pittsburgh (1/25/10)

It was 8:30AM on Monday, January 25th, 2010 and the big blue van turned over on a dime. Regardless of the subfreezing temperature that acted like a nuanced taunt. I swear I could hear the wind whisper "You think it's cold now?". Knowing that we were about to drive along the Great Lakes for hundreds of miles. But first it was off to pick up Matt Cullen (guitar/banjo), Lloyd Cole and Brian Oakes (a close friend of ours that helped out on the whole trip in numerous ways). We were packed and on the road minutes before 9AM. Pittsburgh, here we come.

We made a pretty long drive (through some really horrible rain and wind) go by very quickly. Thanks, in large part, to a game that Lloyd introduced us to called "Botticelli". A game where three of you (you can play it with as many or as few people that you wish) are detectives who are trying to hunt down the famous person hiding in the gray matter of the fourth's head. Montel Williams was deemed the most difficult to get on that first day. And thanks to the length of the game, it essentially took us directly to the three rivers. We arrived in Pittsburgh somewhere in the vicinity of 7:30. We checked into our downtown hotel, and around 8 we were out to look at the venue, and more importantly, out to find food. We were playing at a place called Club Cafe and the people there were very kind and let us poke our heads in the door as there was a band on stage, just to check out the feel and size of the room. Lloyd had been to Pittsburgh recently, but Matty hadn't been there in 15 years and Brian and I had never been before. Each of us felt an immediate great vibe from the city. We had heard how it had quickly turned into one of the cooler cities in the East and that is most certainly the truth. People said hello to strangers on the street and there was a real big town feel to it rather than that of a big city feel. We left the club and headed out in search of Nakama. It was very easy to find and it turned out to be the best hibachi restaurant I have ever been to. The grilled vegetables, mushroom miso soup and the grilled sesame chicken were of another planet. The other fellas equally enjoyed their food. Highly recommended if you're ever in Pitt.

We walked back towards our hotel (Pittsburgh was the only city we played where the hotel was within walking distance of the venue) and stopped by a hole in the wall pub that was the perfect place for us. There was hardly anyone there and it had a real blue collar feel to it. And there were ashtrays on the bar! Something that made Brian and I really happy. Lloyd and Matty? Not so much. The bartender was extremely friendly and when he found out what we were doing in town he threw us a bunch of free drink coins for the following night. We promised him we'd be back the next night.

Back to the hotel. Our abs had a substantial work out all day thanks to the endless hours of laughter. My recent obsession with the the television show The Office (US) led to numerous "That's what she said" jokes that were both raunchy and mostly, completely obtuse. Brian, Matt and I had plans to head to the Warhol museum and PNC park in the morning. Lloyd was starting to feel a bit under the weather and was planning on hanging in and waiting for our amazing sound man, Dan Dryden who was flying in from NYC in the morning.

Pictures, videos and stories about all of our days and shows to come very soon.

That's what she said.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Lloyd Cole and the Small Ensemble hits the road and makes a live record!

This is a blank sheet of screen. Sorry for my vapid promise to write more. I always have the best intentions with these types of things, but it's easy to let other things take over. And for me, once I stop writing I find it really hard to go back to it. Basically, writing is the closet that I've never cleaned. Unless I am forced, it's going to be hit or miss.

Figured this might be a good time to scribble again. About to leave for 7 days to play 4 shows with Lloyd Cole and the Small Ensemble. We're playing in Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Detroit and Chicago. The actual places and times can be found on that link to Lloyd's site. We also recorded a live record at Slaughterhouse Studios, which will be available at these shows, and at some point, on the aforementioned website.

The band is a 3 piece (Lloyd, Matt Cullen and myself) and we are traveling with an amazing soundman named Dan and a good friend of all of ours, Brian. Not sure if we will have a laptop on the tour. If so, I'll be posting daily. If not, I will get after it when we get back. Should be great fun.

Type you all soon!