This is a bit of a concept novel. What would happen if you ventured into the world where fairy tales come from? The truth would turn out to be much more horrible than the stories. King pulls it off in this fantasy novel about a teenager who passess through a portal to a parallel world where he finds himself in the middle of a battle between good and evil. 📚
Some thoughts about this past weekend’s Pilgrimage Music Festival in Franklin, Tennessee:
I saw Elle King three weeks ago opening for Chris Stapleton and again yesterday at the Pilgrimage Festival. While she’s a great performer anywhere, her rock and blues sound really shines in front of a large festival crowd. I’ve seen here three times and I’d like to make it four.
Twentynine-year-old bluegrass picker Molly Tuttle is a talented player, catchy songwriter and fun to listen to. You can read about her musical journey in this New York Times article from last year. I didn’t know much about here before this festival, but I would see her again if I get the chance.
It was nice to be present and see Brandi Carlile headline a bigger festival. She’s had a good couple of years and nobody is more deserving. I’m happy to see her talent recognized and rewarded.
On Saturday Jensen McRae took the stage by herself with an acoustic guitar. Her single Wolves is a powerful song. She’s another young singer-songwriter to watch.
I wrote about Jon Batiste yesterday. All I can say is I still have chills from that set. Unbelievable talent.
Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway at the Pilgrimage Music Festival.
I try to go to a lot of live music, especially festivals, and every once in a while a set comes along that’s truly special. Like seeing an eclipse, once in a lifetime. On Thursday singer Jon Batiste premiered his “American Symphony” at Carnegie Hall. On Saturday at the Pilgrimage Music Festival in Tennessee, still clearly floating from that Carnegie Hall high, Batiste gave what is a contender for one the best live performances I’ve ever seen.
He tore the place down and when his set time was over, he wasn’t ready to go, so he grabbed a melodica and his band kind of looked at him like, WTF? He jumped into the pit and headed back into the crowd, toward the sound booth, followed by his drummer with a tambourine to keep the show going for a few extra minutes.
Truly an artist. Don’t miss an opportunity to see him perform live.
If you’re heading to a music festival be prepared, but don’t over pack. You don’t want to carry around a bunch of weight. Here are a few items I always bring:
A small hydration pack with side water pockets. If it’s really hot, use the hydration bladder for water. If the weather is mild you can opt for refillable water bottles instead. A lot of festivals won’t let you bring a big backpack in, so go small. Think 17L or less.
A packable parachute picnic blanket. These are great for resting or listening to a show and they don’t take up much space in your pack. Grand Trunk makes a nice one, but there are others.
Several bandanas. If it’s really hot these are a necessity. You can tuck one in the back of your hat to shade your neck or soak it in water and place it around your neck to cool off. Bring a few extra to give away.
Some small snacks. Most festivals won’t let you bring in food, but you can probably get away with granola bars and trail mix. It helps for those times when you can’t make it to the concession, but are loosing energy.
Ear plugs. You may not think you need them, but when you score that spot at the rail directly in front of the speakers, you’ll be glad you have them.
Suntan lotion. And make sure it’s a lotion. A lot of festivals will not let you bring in aerosol cans.
Backup battery to recharge your phone. It will die. You will be sad if you don’t have this.
A light jacket. It may not be necessary in August, but in other months it may be. Check the weather. It may be cooler at night than you expect.
I have an idea for adult alternative Halloween. Tikiween. Everyone in the neighborhood sets up tiki bars in their yards and you go house to house and get a mai tai here, a zombie there. Children can get involved too, working back bar to keep the tiki mugs clean and the torches lit.
Blog about something you’ve learned, blog about something you’re interested in. Blog about cameras or HTML or that one browser bug you’ve noticed this morning or blog about the sky above you right this very second. How many clouds are up there? Blog about your annoying kids and your fucked up relationship and blog about that terrifying time when you went to the beach with some people you weren’t really friends with and you got drunk and then it got real dark and you didn’t have a tent so you slept on a sand dune all night long.
Ukrainian punk band Gogol Bordello released their new album Solidaritine today. The track “Forces of Victory” speaks directly to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and features Ukrainian Nobel prize nominated writer Serhiy Zhadan.
With only one thing on its mind
I can’t go on, I will go on
With only one thing on it’s mind
I can’t go on, I will go on
When I was younger I thought someday that we will win
And in another country I will find my twin
Spread good music and good poetry
Joining forces of the victory
Although the album was mostly written before the invasion, tracks like the standout “Take Only What You Can Carry” speak to the universal struggle of displaced people. The band posted in the description of their video for the song, “‘Take Only What You Can Carry’ encapsulates [an] emotional message of uprooted people whose lives were destroyed by this fucked up war in Ukraine.”
In August the band played a secret show for Ukrainian soldiers. Watch an interview with lead singer Eugene Hütz discussing the album, punk rock and Gogol Bordello’s legacy. And you must watch them in a boisterous performance on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts in 2019.
Music festival season isn’t over yet. Maybe you don’t want to go to a mega festival like Coachella or Bonnaroo, but there are a lot of good regional festivals that can be a lot of fun. In the Southeast, the Pilgrimage Music and Cultural Festival in Franklin, Tennessee (just south of Nashville) is in 12 days and is a lot of fun with easily manageable crowds, good stage views and a wide variety of music.
“Bill [Withers'] studio albums were great. I’ll even go to bat for the late ones that no one (including Bill himself) liked. But let’s talk about his live album. It’s called Live at Carnegie Hall, and it’s a document of a show there from late in 1972, though it wouldn’t be released until the following April.
Though it’s not usually mentioned among the best live albums in soul music history, it should be. Withers delivers intense versions of his hits, sometimes leading into the songs with extended commentary (called ‘raps’ in the liner notes). I memorized that record down to the last second. To this day, I can re-create the two-and-a-half-minute spoken intro that leads into ‘Grandma’s Hands.’ "
”If you digest the heck out of the book, you still can’t say anything in casual conversation except ‘I read the book,’ which is also what someone can say who spent way less time and retained WAY less.”
Set around the 2014 Ukrainian revolution and Russian invasion of Crimea, I Will Die in a Foreign Land, is a beautiful, poetic, look at the spirit of the Ukrainian people. The novel is a good read for anyone looking for historical context for the current Ukrainian war with Russia.
From How to Travel Like Anthony Bourdain: “In my carry-on, I’ll have a notebook, yellow legal pads, good headphones. Imodium is important. The necessity for Imodium will probably present itself, and you don’t want to be caught without it.”
“Aristotle … defines our ultimate goal, the very purpose of being alive, the thing we’re shooting for … as happiness.
“Technically, in the original Greek, Aristotle actually uses the nebulous word ‘eudaimonia,’ which sometimes gets translated as ‘happiness’ and sometimes as ‘flourishing.’ I prefer “flourishing,” because that feels like a bigger deal than ‘happiness.’ We’re talking about the ultimate objective for humans here, and a flourishing person sounds like she’s more fulfilled, complete, and impressive than a ‘happy’ person.”