Skip to content

Category Archives: lindsay

Music Monday: “Undress You” – Mutlu

It’s rare to spend a night out of the house unless it’s to rehearse or play a show, so I took great delight in kicking off a few weeks of birthday-adjacent celebrations on Saturday with an outing with Lindsay and her beau J. We converged on my old South Philly stomping grounds to see two songwriters and friends of ours play The Boot & Saddle – Katie Barbato and Multu.

I know Katie from being out and about on the open mic scene in what seems like a very long ago and far away life, plus splitting a memorable Arcati Crisis show with her band The Sleepwells. She’s also famous for helping me break out of one year of my February Funk (and pushing me to finish “Dumbest Thing I Could Do” – a good call on her part). Earlier this year she released an outstanding EP with her band Dirty Holiday that is amongst EV’s major favorites, and she has a new solo record out this fall.

I could write you an entire essay on Katie and her music and how Lindsay leaned into my ear at one point and remarked, “Her voicings are so much like yours, but she plays like Gina. So, obviously, you love her.” But, that will have to hold – perhaps until I hang out with her in a few weeks.

mutlu-onaralI’m actually here to talk about Mutlu.

Saturday night was the first time I’ve ever seen Multu perform without our dear friend Dante Bucci playing by his side (and, as it happens, only the second time seeing him without being behind the mixing desk, thanks to the music festivals that Lindsay, Dante, and I produced over the years).

I had second thoughts about going. Or, more accurately, about staying. It seemed impossibly hard to start celebrating my birthday there in the absence of Dante, who was synonymous with Mutlu for me, whose birthday traditionally marked the end of our various Virgo/Libra birthday shenanigans in college.

I thought it might be too hard. I thought I might slip out after Katie was done her set, or maybe stay for just a song or two, telling Lindsay and J I was exhausted after a long day.

Dante would never do that. Dante never missed a single show of mine if he could physically get to it, and he’d never leave before my set was over.  How could I use the absence of him as an excuse to miss live music when it was his favorite thing in the world?

Maybe I was supposed to simply get lost in my emotions and in the crowd and dance, like all my friends have been doing for fifteen years of seeing Mutlu perform.

So that’s what I did, undulating to the music without a care. At one point, Mutlu announced, “This is a new one from my EP Caffeine and Whiskey, you might not know it.” He began to play and I knew it within a second. It was “Undress You,” a song he had first written and performed live nearly a decade ago just now enjoying its time in the spotlight.

I know what that feels like. I’ve been sitting in my living room rehearsing decade-old songs for weeks, checking to see if it’s their time.

How was it not this song’s time in the spotlight a decade ago when it is so instantly memorable? I’m not sure. I don’t remember it being this relaxed, the jazzy guitar quite so articulated. Maybe it was a little too eager to undress a decade ago? Maybe it needed the years to give heft to “Why we wasting time when we could be together?” Maybe the old falsetto hook of “Can I undress you?” was played for laughs instead of being a soulful call-and-response with the following “probably the last thing I should do”?

Maybe there was a through line from this song of Mutlu’s I had forgotten to my own “Dumbest Thing I Could Do,” who Katie helped to coax into the spotlight with its own response of “is be along with you.”

While I was wondering those things in my songwriter’s brain I was dancing, singing along, and remembering. The song brought back flashes of friends lost to time and circumstance, and of Dante’s lawn and a song that was suddenly and improbably my new favorite thing, pulling me out from the mixing desk to dance and sing along.

It was an indelible moment that I had completely forgotten, but it all came rushing back as I sang along to words I didn’t even realize I knew with Lindsay smiling at my side in her own instant recognition.

It is my new favorite thing all over again.

persistence

lindsay, erika, and peter 2015 crop)“It’s Miss Lindsay!”

EV yells this at me almost every time she catches me browsing Facebook, and it always surprises me. No, it’s not because Lindsay is omnipresent in my feed – she’s too busy parenting and adventuring for that! It’s because of my profile photo. Not the postage-stamp sized square on my profile page, mind you, but the teeny 20ish pixel persistant image in the header to reminder you that you are surfing as you.

Mine is a photo of Lindsay, Erika, and I (with EV just off-camera, dangling from my arm) standing in a lake in New Jersey during a rare roommate reunion day over a month ago on a very sunny Friday – one of the rare days in over two years where I have done zero start-up-ing for an entire waking period.

(Alright, that’s a wee lie, I did check my email for 15 minutes in a parked care while EV dozed in the back seat, but that’s practically nothing.)

It’s not surprising that EV could recognize the picture in its minuscule size. That’s just recognizing a pattern of an image – even easier than recognizing the actual faces. She is good at playing the game Memory even though she doesn’t know what all the cards are.

The thing that’s surprising is that EV recognizes it and instead of just saying it’s a picture of me (which she does with frequency) she remembers Miss Lindsay, who she has met just three times in her life. She remembers lots of things about Lindsay. Her daughter’s name, her doggie, and how we picked blueberries and then went swimming.

Our outing with Lindsay and Erika was the first time I witnessed EV have a specific, persistent sense of time and recall. As we approached the date she understood we would see Lindsay and Erika tomorrow, and then she remembered we saw Lindsay and Erika yesterday. But then she kept remembering it, mentioning it, telling stories about it, and asking about when we’ll do it again.

Today on a walk with a co-worker I was relating this story and I realized that Lindsay sticks out so specifically to EV not because she’s so awesome (EV will learn that in due time), but because our day together was memorable. In fact, I’m now sure it is among her first persistent memories. Yes, she recalls trips to the market, times down the slide, lyrics to songs, and hugging her aunt Jenny, but none of those refer to a specific incident that she recalls with detail.

That’s amazing.

The other night she turned to me solemnly after dinner and said, “Take a picture, send it to Miss Lindsay.” We had an impromptu photo shoot and sent Lindsay the results, to which she texted back, “I love her!” I feel like every parent talks about creating memories for their children – heck, Disney’s entire marketing machine relies on it – but here I did it unintentionally just by spending the day with my daughter and two of the people I love the most in the world.

Philly: Seen on the Scene

I didn’t do quite as much crazy seenery this past week, but in making it an eight-day week of scenery I made this post extra-long.

Oh, also? I’m an obsessive-compulsive singer/songwriter/lunatic who had kinda forgotten why he was a journalism major.

I quite explicitly did not do any kind of scene seeing over the weekend, save for a brief interlude at K&L’s housewarming party, where every person from every part of my life all collided in one shiny-drunk lump. Seriously, it could have only been odder if my mother was there. Still, much fun had.

.

Every Wednesday: LP Open Mic @ Intermezzo (3141 Walnut)
Hosting an open mic is a nervous endeavor. Sometimes it seems as though no one will show up, yet you find the lineup extending past closing time. On other occasions the room seems full, but you still wind up vamping for an hour by yourself at the end of the night.

Read more…

.

Every Monday: Open Jam @ Connie’s Ric Rac (9th just under Washington)
Take note of this momentous occasion – I went to an open mic that I don’t host for two consecutive weeks. In fact, next week I’ll probably be back for a third.

Why? Because Connie’s Ric Rac is like Cheers with a 1000 watt sound system and a pet snake. Everyone wants to know your name, and they all hush up when you play a quiet song.

Read more…

I’ve met Matt Teacher once before, and in that venue he was introduced to me as a songwriter, but at present he mostly plays and records with bands in Sine Studios, where he is the owner and engineer along with best friend Mike.

Similar to Gina and I, the two of them connected in the eight grade – with the difference being that they connected as a band right away and knew by high school graduation that they wanted a career in music. They attended college separately and came back together to open Sine Studios. It looks ultra-nifty from their website, and at 22nd and Walnut it’s virtually around the corner from my office .

Matt and I talked about our endless acquisition of recording gear and how in high school I used to sample too low and wind up sounding like The Chipmunks when I tried to burn a CD. Although he was perhaps too humble to mention running Bon Jovi’s protools rig the last time he played Philly, Matt did cop to recording the Sleepwells disc, as well as working with Lickety Split host Dani Mari, and Ric Rac’s house band The Discount Heroes.

When I pressed him as to whether the in-the-family recording roster meant Sine might also be a label, he demurred: “We’re working in that direction.”

Having done some basic flexing of journalistic muscles I thought had permanently atrophied since college, I pushed my luck a bit and asked if I might stop by for a tour sometime. Matt, being awesome, one-upped me and said I should aim to come to one of the studio barbecues over the summer.

Read more…

I detest making so facile a comparison as to Stevie Wonder, as Aaron Brown’s delivery leaps across the R&B divide to rock in an instant, as on the stuttering 6/8 tune he delivered mid-set (“fragile”?). It’s as if Adam Levine from Maroon 5 could actually sing as well live as he does on the record, and then decided to cover an obscure Rufus Wainwright take on a Stevie Wonder song. That’s what Aaron sounds like.

Read more…

The great thing about Ric Rac is that it’s got a big stage, complete with amps and a kit. Bands just get up and go. In that vein, I loved loved loved Try Angles – a two-piece playing a blues stomp that I am journalistically required to compare to White Stripes. Except, I actually like Try Angles – there’s meat underneath the riffs, aerobic and thick. A new unfinished song fucking leapt across the stage for our necks in a tangle of blues and prog. And, I DON’T EVEN LIKE THIS KIND OF THING.

I briefly quizzed drummer Adam after their set. What was their deal? How did they compel me to like them so much?

Apparently singer Matt C. has done his singer/songwriter thing for an eternity, but Adam added himself just in September to create their special alchemy. Adam professed love for jazz and Zappa, and I honestly believe they both come through in his skin pounding. Also, he was just a nice dude – when I expanded on my recent wedding he said he wanted to do a dance because I have good music and a good life.

Seriously, Ric Rac is Good People.

(Good lord, can you imagine if I start bringing my laptop to every open mic, going all embedded journalist on all the natives? Can you seriously keep up with a 3000+ word weekly column?)

.

Tuesday: I took a nap
It was awesome.

.

Every Wednesday: LP Open Mic @ Intermezzo (3141 Walnut)
Yes, we’ve circled all the way back to Intermezzo, with Gina hosting this iteration.

This week was more of the unexpected – a full house of Lyndzapalooza artists – Gina and I (both solo!), my new client Joshua Popejoy, Aaron Brown (again!), Brian Flanagan (playing awesome new tunes), and John Glaubitz (who we did not manage to tempt to play).

I’ll spare you the rapturous rapture about these guys – they’re all great. They kept our guests pinned to their chairs for the duration of the evening until AC took over to play to a small-but-appreciative crowd of stragglers. We nailed a particularly impressive “Don’t You Want Me” – I was in super-good vocal shape, which I further flaunted by singing an additional solo set of “Like a Virgin,” “Since U Been Gone,” my new “Message,” and an acappella verse and chorus of “Take on Me.”

We closed down the shop with “Noncommittal” and chat of breaking the fourth wall, and headed back to the car.

.

Coming up!
There are seemingly a thousand shows that I want to see tomorrow night, so I’m thinking you should go to some of the ones I can’t make it to.

Melodic hard-rockers Tremor will be at JR’s bar @ 22nd and Passyunk. Personal favorite Up the Chain splits a bill with The Great Unkown @ JD McGillicuddy’s, 2626 County Line Road in Ardmore. Alexandra Day opens for Kate-fav Carsie Blanton at Barrington Coffee House

As for myself and Gina, we will be installed at the esteemed Ric Rac to catch The Discount Heroes monthly showcase, a stellar bill of Blueberry Magee and His Hot Five, Shackamaxon, and Hezekiah Jones. It’s only $10, rather than the kidney or lung you might expect to contribute to gain entrance into such a show.

Next week I’ll be hitting Ric Rac again on Monday for Katie’s February swan-song, as well as maybe Time at 13th and Sansom on Tuesday, but if I find some ambition I could truck up to The Draught Horse on Temple’s campus to hang out with LP Artist Josh Albright at his new open mic.

Alternately, if you’re free on Tuesday you can head down to The Shubin Theatre at 4th and Bainbridge to catch Gina in a debut reading of a play by Mark Wolverton based on his recent biographical novel A Life in Twilight: The Final Years of J. Robert Oppenheimer.

Then, on Wednesday you should join me at Chris’s Jazz Cafe at Broad & Sansom at 5pm sharp to catch the beautiful and always amazing Alexandra Day play a special happy-hour set, after which you should catch a trolley up to Intermezzo to hit our open mic, as hosted by the girl who put the Lyndz in Lyndzapalooza, Lindsay Wilhelmi.

Finally, a few future plugs: Dante Bucci @ Tin Angel on 3/22. Brian Flanagan playing a set on a bill with our buddies Year Long Day @ Tin Angel on 3/25. The two foremost hang players on earth – one of whom happens to be Dante Bucci, the other being Many Delago – at Milkboy on 4/22.

.

In other news…

I’ll end with a bit of good news / bad news.

Bad first: we’re actually not doing a show on 2/28 with Joshua Popejoy. It’s slightly disappointing, but it leads to good news: we can promote our amazing seventh annual spring music festival for three entire months without another gig stealing it’s thunder.

So: This year the festival is on Saturday, May 16, and it is called BYMfest (AKA Back Yard Music Festival, an ironic title seeing as this is the first year it will be held at Snipes Farm, rather than an actual back yard). BYMfest will feature eight solid hours of music. So far the lineup includes Arcati Crisis, Joshua Popejoy, Reed Kendall of Up the Chain, Suzie Brown, and Sisters 3.

Honestly, that’s already a bill I would pay dozens of dollars for, and it’s only HALF FULL. Check the Seen on the Scene action next week for further bill announcements, and a presale link where you can buy tickets for $15.

Seriously, I kid you not, $15. That’s a half hour of music for every dollar. You can’t even steal music for that cheap.

Mark your calendar right now. Seriously. Don’t even read the byline until you’ve marked it.

Marked?

Okay.

Peter is a Philadelphia singer-songwriter, half of the band Arcati Crisis, and Director of Communications for Lyndzapalooza (LP).

My Life Is a Joke

Lindsay and I have an ongoing joke about my life.

Lindsay, being my primary secret squirrel, always finds a little nook of day to tuck a conversation into. Frequently we talk about all of the things that I do – work, blog, play music solo and with Arcati Crisis, Lyndzapalooza, freelance writing – &c, &c.

She, one of the more overachieving and time-conscious people I know, marvels at how I actually advance my goals in each of those areas all of the time.

The joke is that, in order to fit in all of those things, I must not do anything a normal person does. I don’t watch television, sit down for meals, or talk to people on the phone. I don’t sleep. I’m like some sort of T-1000 or Cylon. Or Madonna. I’m purely focused on achievements and achieving them, and nothing else.

That’s a slight misrepresentation. I am not a robot, and only aspire to be Madonna. I still do all of the things that human beings do.

Occasionally. And quickly.

.

When I graduated from college and started my career I resolved not to do any theatre or music for an entire year. No art, essentially. I would focus solely on being a good employee and a good boyfriend, because I wasn’t sure I’d be good at either. If I had free time I would sit and play video games until another opportunity to be a good employee or boyfriend presented itself.

After a year I allowed myself to get involved in a theatre project with Gina, and from there my natural inclinations for art and recklessly large personal projects took over.

I made a very elaborate chart. It included every possible thing that I could do in a given day. All of the regular human things, all of my time at work, all of my special goals, and everything else. Washing dishes. Walking from one place to another. Making out with Elise.

I tracked what I did for three months, every minute of every day.

At the end I had a beautiful graph of my life. A rainbow of lines interwove with each other to show me the relationship between work and sleep, guitar-playing and housework, or blogging and masturbation.

The area under some of the lines was the shape of my success; the area under others a dimension of dead space.

My priorities snapped me into focus. Before the chart I would have told you I was already busy enough with life. After I realized that I wasn’t writing songs because I was reading TMZ for 20 minutes a day.

.

The chart was almost three years ago.

Today Lindsay initiated the latest iteration of our joke, querying if I planned to sleep at all in the next few months while chipping away at my list of measurable goals for the year.

The chart was about sleep too. I tried to live on just five or six hours a night, and suddenly all the useless things expanded. The chart showed me that I need sleep to stay focused.

It was a disappointment, sure. I work and commute for almost ten hours a day, and if I have to sleep for seven that leaves just another seven hours in which I can live my life.

The punchline to our joke is that every minute counts, awake or asleep. 60 seconds to flip channels is a quick email reminder. Three minutes to set the table is rehearsing a song. A half an hour on the phone is this post.

Which would I rather look back on in December, or when I turn thirty, or when I die?

I always eat with the wrong fork, anyway.

Arcati Crisis Rehearsal Recap

At the moment Arcati Crisis is on a somewhat insane twice-weekly rehearsal schedule – mostly insane because those rehearsal days are Tuesday and Thursday, and we co-host the LP open mic at Intermezzo on the intervening evening, which means we spend about 72 hours each week doing nonstop work, sleep, and AC.

Here’s what transpired in our last installment.

(Oh, but, wait. First maybe you want to know why I’m writing this? Entirely up to you…)

Read more…

What to rehearse? / Going electric
When we last left our heroes on Tuesday we had run some old stuff to prep for our next few open mics.

This is essentially what we still don’t understand about band rehearsals, two whole years into this experiment. How often should we realistically need to rehash old tunes? Yes, there is a certain danger that Gina will forget her mini-solo on “Bucket Seat,” or I might get the pattern reversed on “Apocalyptic Love Song.” But, are we seriously going to forget how to play “Fisher Price” or “Under My Skin”?

Read more…

In sum: we’re happy to have a reason to play the oft-forgotten “Martyr,” we’re surprised that “Hyperbole” works so well in its reversed state, and we’re generally pleased to hear the possibilities in converting a few of our songs into bigger hunks of rock.

More bettering of “Better”
With our refresher out of the way in fairly short order, we turned our attention to a second evening of “Better.”

Read more…

That was it. In two rehearsals – not even two and half hours of work – we completely arranged a new Arcati Crisis tune. By comparison, it took us a month of rehearsals each to arrange the already performable “Hyperbole” and “Moscow, Idaho” satisfactorily in 2007!

Covers that shock and awe
Satisfied with ourselves, we turned our attention to our motley collection of covers.

Read more…

I wouldn’t say that we’ve fixed everything, but it’s at least moving in the direction of being a coherent arrangement of the original for an acoustic-pop band. We’re both eager to have it in the repertoire, especially since the shock-grenade impact of “Don’t You Want Me” is wearing thin on our repeat audiences.

Hunting for “Holy Grail”
At this point we were headed into our third hour of rehearsal, and we were both fairly fried. What worthwhile thing could we achieve at this point?

I pestered Gina once again to send me the lyrics to her two new AC contributions, and she teasingly started playing the one I profess to be less interested in, “Holy Grail.”

How can I put this? “Holy Grail” is definitely an Arcati Crisis shock-grenade. It’s Gina, playing what is effectively a punk song comprised of all eighth notes on guitar and four massively destructive, earwormy riffs.

No hammers. No fingerpicking. Relatively few lyrics. It’s not even in a very Gina key. It’s totally shocking. And awesome. Read more… It’s hopelessly stuck in my head, and I cannot wait to finish up so we can stick into the heads of other people as soon as possible.

.

That, in a hefty, bloated nutshell, was this week’s Arcati Crisis rehearsal.

Philly: Seen on the Scene

This past month I was out of musical commission for as long as I’ve ever been – longer than when I had my tonsils removed, though perhaps not quite as long as when I broke my collarbone (although I have many grimace-inducing memories of propping my back up against the cinder block walls of Calhoun hall so I could leverage my left hand up high enough to fret chords).

In any event, it was a long time without music – from when I came down with bronchitis on January 9th through when I started playing piano again on February 1st.

Three weeks might not sound like a long time to you, but in time without music it’s an eternity, so I’ve been happy to get back to my musical routine this past week.

Every Wednesday: LP Open Mic @ Intermezzo (3141 Walnut)
Last week was my first week back to our open mic after a three week recess, and also a week of my hosting duties.

It turned out to be an evening of great fun. I opened with a trio of tunes so new that I don’t even have lyric links for them yet, let alone recordings, plus a new Beatles cover I had dreamt up on an old guitar the night before.

The turnout for the night was much lighter than usual, which resulted in the open mic becoming an effective round robin of me, Arcati Crisis, Mike from Shackamaxon, and my most-adored band in all of Philadelphia, Blueberry Magee, plus two appearances by our friend and fellow LP Artist Ashley Brandt. All three of the artists on that list are some of my favorites in Philly, and it was wonderful to share an exclusive bill with them for the night.

This week Dante Bucci and his hang drums are the host, but Gina and I will still make an appearance. If you’re around University City between 8pm and 11pm you should drop by.

Thursday: Arcati Crisis Rehearsal!
Okay, not really much of a scene to be seen on, but from our insanity at the open mic it was clear Gina and I were craving a chance to catch up and work on some new material. We picked our next four AC songs (two of which are from my super-new trio from the prior evening), and got most of the way through a guitar arrangement of one of mine – “Better.”

Our arrangement decisions tend to take forever when we’re inside of them, but in retrospect seem like they occurred in a flash. On “Better” we started out moving Gina into different capo positions to find a good interplay against my open progression in E. She wound up on the fourth fret.

At one point in following my chords she fell one chord behind me, and I stopped her and said, “you’re on to something.” Twenty minutes later we had crafted a fanged hook for the song that sounds perfectly at home despite the fact that it is wickedly out of step for Gina compared to my part.

We were pretty satisfied with ourselves at that point, and just sketched in the idea of the bridge before calling it a night. We still have to break out harmony vocals, which tends to be where the bulk of our arrangement battles lie.

Friday: The Pretenders @ The Electric Factory
I have a short list of bands that I absolutely must see once at some point in my life, mostly because I have been lucky enough to see bands while they are at their peek – before they become a rarer commodity.

For a long time one of those bands has been The Pretenders.

Read more…The Pretenders were spectacular – muscular and mimeographic as they churned out faithful renditions of songs from the full range of their career. Chrissie Hynde not only sounded pitch perfect in comparison to her records, but also cut a svelte figure in her high boots and single-tail tux jacket – dancing an exaggerated sidestep in “Brass In Pocket.” It was plain as day the through line from her to PJ, Shirley, and Karen O.

It was also clear that she is one of the great, under-appreciated rhythm guitarists in classic rock – she’s effectively the backbone of every arrangement, even galloping time changes like “Tattooed Love Boys.”

The band played half of their newest disc, and nearly the entirety of their debut, plus all the notable singles between with the exception of “2000 Miles,” “Middle of the Road,” “Ohio,” and “Stand By You” (also, my manager saw them the prior night and got “Mystery Achievement,” which I had lamented not hearing).

One more band struck from the “once in a lifetime” list (the last prior cross-off was Cyndi Lauper, another stunning concert). I’m actually hard-pressed to think of who’s next at this point. I’m tempted by the Fleetwood Mac hits tour, but I don’t know if I could count it as the real thing without Christie McVie along for the ride.

Every Monday: Open Jam @ Connie’s Ric Rac (9th just under Washington)
Connie’s Ric Rac is my neighborhood open mic, as well as being the room that spawned my recent asphyxiation and the subsequent interstate love song that Gina is currently endeavoring to learn.

As the story goes, the Ric Rac (named thusly as a misnomer for bric-a-brac) used to be an Italian Market discount store owned by the titular Connie, and when the storefront closed down the shop stayed in the family. Later, her son(s?) proposed that they open the doors as a sort of counter-culture community center, complete with art classes, concerts, and open jams.

Thus, Connie’s Ric Rac. I was a little nervous about attending, because it’s a totally new scene to me, but I was encouraged by the fact that February’s guest host is the darling Katie Barbato, and the night was themed with Beatles covers as a tribute to the band’s first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show 45(!) years prior.

I arrived much too early to a Ric Rac family scene replete with snake-feeding, wine-drinking, and banjo recitals – all with the easy laughter and chain smoking that I recall from a childhood spent in my grandmother’s South Philadelphia kitchen. I was happy to remain a wallflower through the family affair until the night kicked off.

In addition to Katie (playing a sad, Across the Universe style “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” and a new original with a killer chord change in the chorus) there was house band Discount Heroes (valiantly slaying “Revolution” and “Don’t Let Me Down” despite their singer’s flu), a freak-R&B act whose name I did not catch doing a remarkable version of “Savoy Truffle,” and Vince & Chuck.

Vince and Chuck were pure magic – performing note-perfect Beatles covers of a great selection of tunes – “Here Comes the Sun,” “If I Fell,” “Baby’s In Black,” and “Please Please Me,” plus another I can’t recall. I essentially pleaded with them to come to the LP Open Mic to share their Beatles tunes, and this was before discovering that Chuck AKA Charles Ramsey is a phenomenal songwriter in his own right.

Since the directive was early-Beatles I debated “Do You Want to Know a Secret” and “You Really Got a Hold On Me,” but settled on long-time favorite “All My Loving,” which I wailed like a fucking banshee. Katie assures me it was awesome. I also played the repeatedly aforementioned “Connie’s Ric Rac Love Song AKA Better,” “In My Life,” and later “Ob-la Di Ob-la Da,” plus a handful of other originals.

Katie will host out the month, and I’m going to make an effort to make it to the next two Monday’s to hang out with her and the Ric Rac family before shifting my attention to either Fergie’s or The Fire in March. She gave me a copy of the brand new full-length by her band The Sleepwells, and her voice is so freaking sexy on it. I might blush the next time I talk to her. Wow.

Every Tuesday: Open Mic @ Studio Luloo (916 White Horse Pike, Oaklyn NJ)
Yes, my friends, I got all the fuck around the scene this week.

Gina and I have had Studio Luloo on our to-do list for a while, and it was elevated by our missing an appearance from Year Long Day last week. We discovered that it is virtually around the corner from Gina’s abode, and tonight finally endeavored to make an appearance.

It was a completely worthwhile endeavor! Luloo is hosted and operated by the entirely charming Sara O’Brien, who shares songs, healing arts, and a tangible joie de vivre in this cozy shopfront slash recording studio with the best monitor mix we’ve ever heard.

No joke. We were first after Sara, so had no idea what to expect, and we started with “Bucket Seat,” which is not amongst the simplest of our songs, and the mix was just perfect. We could hear what we really sounded like, and not some faraway facsimile thereof. We also made a successfully epic run at “Apocalyptic Love Song” (click that link – Gina should win a freaking Grammy for that performance), and an entertaining jaunt through “Pocahontas.”

Playing first can be a curse if you want to get heard by the room at it’s fullest, but when you’re just out to chill it’s a wonderful pressure deflator. We had time to chat with some of the crowd, including super-sweet Dave from Never Trust, and Ryan Williams, who was the feature.

I’ve met Ryan before, but never heard him, and his songs are great. Like, actually great, not just hyperbolic great. He has a new one, “Audio,” that is pure aural dynamite. Scary-good.

I was sad to miss out on talking to a cool kid playing a Guild with a series of partial capos, his name maybe being Jeremy Hines? He had a really tuneful sensibility, and reminded me of Honorary Title – the sort of music I consistently fail at making when I write things like “Standing” or “Love Me Not.”

In other news…
I had designs on hitting the Tuesday open mic @ Time on the way home from Luloo, but Gina smartly deposited me back at my house so I can rest my voice a bit.

Not too much other news, other than I stopped by Cafe Grindstone over the weekend for a fabulous lunch of vegan kielbasa and a soy banana milkshake and spoke with Jerry at the counter a bit about how one gets selected to play there. It’s just about as close to me as Ric Rac, so I’d love to drop by to sing every so often.

Also, Battlestar Galactica. I could say a lot about this week’s episode, but right now I just have one thing on my mind: the return Ellen Motherfrakkin’ Tigh.

Coming up!
Hopefully some fucking sleep!

But, seriously, tomorrow night we’ll be at the LP Open Mic @ Intermezzo. If open micing is not your thing, get thyself to the Tin Angel to see Shackamaxon, awesome Mad Dragon recording artist Andrew Lipke, and a band called StereoFidelic which is likely awesome based on the company they keep.

Also, biggest news for last: Arcati Crisis will be splitting a bill with our friend and musical confidante Joshua Popejoy on February 28th at our much-beloved South Street venue Upstairs @ Zot! This will be a BIG SHOW – big sets from both of us, a big(ger) PA system, a big comfortable room for you to stretch out in, and hopefully A BIG CROWD.

$8, beer specials, awesome acoustic pop music. Mark your calendar. Tickets here.

What now? Oh, right, sleep.

.

Peter is a Philadelphia singer-songwriter, half of the band Arcati Crisis, and Director of Communications for Lyndzapalooza (LP).

here goes…

Okay, here’s my last post as a bachelor.

Bride aside, I am surrounded by the five most awesome people in my life, and they are in rare, rare form. Ross bottled my special wedding lambic in blue bottles labeled with me! I’m on my bottles.

I don’t think life could be any better than it is at the moment.

See you on the other side.

Gimme Gimme Gimme

Ten toys, of which I can presently afford to purchase one, roughly in order of how badly I am pining for them.

  • A Digital Audio Workstation from Woot Computers. Price: ~$2200 (My computer is now 5+ years old and, though it works as well as the day I bought it, its age makes me increasingly uneasy. Also, I’d like to record a proper demo CD rather than just four-track exercises.)
  • A 16- or 24-channel mixer, powered or unpowered, with inline or accompanying reverb and compressesion. Price: ~$1000 (I am so fucking sick of using other people’s PAs. Seriously. Never again.)
  • A mid-range vocal condenser mic and an XY pair of directional instrument mics. Price: $850 (For solo recording awesomeness.)
  • A light-weight laptop w/at least two gigs of ram. Price: ~$800 (I would be so much more productive, and so much more willing to go places.)
  • An Android Phone. Price: ~$200 + $360 additional services fees in a year. (I love it, but not really, because I don’t like T-Mobile. Hopefully Sprint comes through with their 1st gen in the nick of time before the wedding.)
  • A 160-Gig iPod. Price: ~$320. (I can’t add any more audio to mine; on the flipside, this endeavor probably requires a larger hard-drive to be of full use.)
  • Something that is a pedometer AND has GPS. Price: $150. (I’ve just wanted this for so long. Possibly the above phone would take care of this?)
  • An auto-feeding CD-Duplicator. Price: ~$800 (Seriously, burning 100 Brown Bag CDs is a major chore. Note that the Woot Computer would two lightscribe drives for duping, which would knock this off the list.)
  • A flat-panel monitor with a 19″ wide viewable area. Price: ~$250. (Work has spoiled me, a bit.)
  • New computer speakers. Price: ~$150. (I’m still using the ones I bought from Lindsay’s Digital Media teacher, and my reference monitors aren’t really appropriate for general listening.)
  • So, if anyone feels like giving me a $7k Amazon.com shopping spree…

    Make You Feel Real Blue

    A few weeks ago Lindsay, Dante Bucci, and Bill McConney were playing a tiny living-room style show in a just-off-South coffee shop called Cafe Grindstone that had an entire vegan menu and a shelf of random used textbooks to peruse.

    As I put back the book that taught me that pigeons are superstitious a flyer on a lower shelf caught my eye with a familiar logo – Alexandra Day.

    I picked up the flyer and scanned it. A Monday night show at Tritone on South Street – not a twenty minute walk from my house – with one of the best songwriters in Philadelphia. Doesn’t take much convincing.

    Then I continued to read. She would be splitting a bill with a band whose name I didn’t recognize, who would play the entirety of Joni Mitchell’s Blue.

    .

    Improbably, I currently name as Blue my second favorite album of all time. That puts it above albums that I played on repeat for entire days of my youth. Albums that taught me what music was.

    How, then, can that one LP – that I didn’t hear a single song from until college – come to eclipse all else in my collection?

    It’s the color of it. Blue is rooted in a palette of different blues, explicit and implied: midnight sky outside of a plane window on “This Flight Tonight;” the melancholy emotional blues on “All I Want” and “My Old Man;” the twinkling blue tinge of frost on “River;” and the blue tv screen light in “A Case of You.” It is music that makes me see color, every single time I hear it.

    It’s also the sureness of it – the way threads of blueness and yearning to get back to California are woven through the album. The sureness of Joni’s indelible performance, and the perfection of the tracking. In my opinion it is nearly the ultimate in a singer-songwriter album, and if you are assembling an album you ought to spend some serious time listening to Blue to understand how to make its formula your own.

    .

    I mentioned the upcoming show to as many people as would listen, but I have other promotional duties as well, and I couldn’t seem to hook anyone with the play-through of the Joni album. I wound up tired and alone Monday night, installed in the back corner of the Tritone wrapped in a jacket and scarf, sipping cranberry juice.

    Alexandra came by my table, her usual whirlwind of energy and vinyl pants, but she immediately caught on that I was at an unavoidable ebb.

    “This is a good bar to just sit in,” she advised. “I’ve come here many times just to sit in the corner. And, you’re really going to like the band.”

    The band, I learned, was Ellipsis – a local jazz trio. They assemble the second Monday of each month with as many additional players as necessary to make it through the entirety of an album. In the past two months I had missed a swing through Jeff Buckley’s “Grace” and Neil Young’s “Harvest.” And, Alexandra said the word in the room was that next month’s artist would be Bjork.

    My excitement was paired with skepticism that any band could replicate the magic of Blue, especially a jazz band who I discovered in short order did not have a guitarist: piano, upright bass, drum kit, and hand percussion, plus a young jazz vocalist. Joni Mitchell’s best album without a guitar?, I mused. Is there any point?

    The band set up a projector beside the stage that shone a series of images – the cover of the album, long dusty fields, empty starless nights – across their bodies and onto the wall to their right. Without much preface, they began “All I Really Want,” possibly my favorite Joni song.

    My skepticism continued for a verse – the arrangement on this one was measured mimicry, and the vocalist was treading delicately around Joni’s words. Then we reached my favorite point of the song, exuberant in new love even as it plumbs its unsure depths:

    All I really really want our love to do
    Is to bring out the best in me and in you
    I want to talk to you, I want to shampoo you
    I want to renew you again and again
    Applause, applause – life is our cause
    When I think of your kisses
    My mind see-saws
    Do you see – do you see – do you see
    How you hurt me baby
    So I hurt you too
    Then we both get so blue

    I hadn’t noticed, but as the verse continued I leaned farther and farther from my seat, as if I thought the song could just reach out and envelop me. By the time Samantha Rise reached that melancholy pinnacle, “we both get so blue,” my ass was barely in the chair. I was in love and wrapped in the color of her voice.

    The show that followed is one of the best I’ve ever witnessed. A silkier, surer version of “My Old Man” that sent a chill through my body. The quiet menace of the quickly descending fifth in the b-section of the otherwise pretty “Little Green.” A raucous, celebratory turn through “Carey,” stripped down to it’s upright bass and percussion and then built again (here I exchanged a glance of incredulous amazement with Alex and she just laughed and turned back to watch the show). A perfect, absolutely verbatim rendition of “Blue.” A saucy, jazzy version of “California” that transformed directly into a racing, free-form take on “This Flight Tonight” complete with scatting. “River,” bare of it’s jingle bells and with a frostier pulse. A subtle, measured read on the oft-covered “Case of You,” possibly the best lost-love song ever written. And, the sometimes superfluous “Last Time I Saw Richard” transformed into a incandescent elegy for the entire album, although in its narrative it perhaps comes first – her old man gone and married to some chick who skated around on the iced over river.

    At the end I was breathless and teary. I witnessed something unique and transformative, unusual and terrific. I saw all of the colors that Joni painted into the album, and so many more.

    It was a show that should have played to a packed club, or even on the main stage of the Kimmel Center, and I was watching it from the back corner of what is effectively a living room with a bar and a stage along with twenty, maybe thirty fans.

    .

    I’m inexplicably nervous to talk to other musicians, a condition that’s becoming increasingly paradoxical as I play more frequently. I am one, so shouldn’t I understand how to approach one?

    Samantha – delicate and composed on the stage – was twinkling and approachable off it it. I think I heard her boasting to another fan that she could defeat him at any Mario-based game. Eventually I noticed her by herself at the bar and plunged in.

    “That was so good. Blue is one of my favorite records, ever. You really did it justice.”

    “Wow, thank you. It’s one of mine too!”

    And so we just talked, just for a minute or two – the easy chatter of two people who love music. She shook my hand and jotted down her information on the pad I had been sketching out my next Trios on, and parted with a nod and a smile, settling in to enjoy Alexandra’s equally amazing set.

    .

    Three days later and I still can’t get her and Ellipsis out of my head. In that last post I wondered if I still saw colors in the world, but Samantha answered that question neatly. Sometimes you just need someone to show you where to look.

    Hitching: Groom Team Style, pt. 2

    When we last left our intrepid nuptial heroes we were all slinking out of David’s Bridal hoping that they wouldn’t call the cops on me.

    Okay, not really. But, if we had stayed much longer I’m sure my photo would have wound up behind the register along with the people who write bad checks.

    Lindsay, Matador from rear Though our negative experience soured me on the idea of big box bridal stores, Lindsay and I did come away with an idea of what my groom’s-ladies would wear. We decided on a combination of platinum and black, which meant we’d most likely need separates – lest we be left to the haphazard whim of multi-color one-pieces.

    We also needed the ladies on Team Groom to look more groomy than maidsy, so we decided to add a matador jacket to make them more tux-like.

    Thus began The Great Matador-Hunt of 2008. Because, you see, outside of the fairy-tale world of David’s Bridal matador jackets for women are apparently a fictional concept. We searched and searched, and turned up a scant one or two, neither appropriate for our purposes.

    Jenny?In the midst of our jacket-search we settled (ironically) on something we tried at David’s: a strapless, lightly paneled princess top paired with a simple trumpet skirt. After some deliberation we decided that the skirt would be black to better mirror the gentlemen in their tuxes, while the top would be platinum.

    At this point Lindsay, Gina, and Erika commandeered the good ship Groom from my control. They found a collection that carried what we were seeking in multiple styles, and each of them tagged their favorites. We discussed them at length for a week, engaged in several virtual straw polls to determine our favorites, and then Lindsay and Erika did a preliminary shopping trip in Boston.

    Suddenly, seemingly out of the blue, Gina was picking me up early on a Saturday morning in August to bring me to a tiny bridal boutique in Havertown called Lizelle’s.

    IMG_4035(It should be pointed out here that Gina has graciously served as the official Team Groom chauffeur for each outing, which has lead to extra hilarity in each instance, even though she has yet to wear a cap and a mustache as my godmother did for my mother’s wedding this past June.)

    My boutique experience could not have been more different than our previous nightmare.

    First, the entire shop was about as big as David’s reception area, but it contained approximately ten times the attractive dresses – no 90s promwear in sight. Second, Bruna – a pretty, diminutive woman with a European accent – had opened early just for us, and pulled out every iteration of the styles we were interested in. Third, I was allowed close to and, in one instance, inside of the dressing rooms.

    Last, and most important to me, Bruna crossed out “Bride” on her info sheet and wrote in “Groom.” She didn’t even write down Elise’s name.

    By that point a second customer had arrived, alone. I sat down across from her while Bruna fussed over Lindsay with a tailor’s measure.

    Cheery Customer: You’re the groom?

    Me: Yes.

    Cheery: And you came with them to shop?

    Me: Well, we did most of it together online. We just came here for the grand finale.

    Cheery: (Clearly a little awed). That’s awesome. I had to drive by myself all the way from New York to get here!

    A mere twenty minutes after our arrival I was pacing back and forth in the alley next to the store, calling Elise on her cell and at home on multiple cell phones, juggling them to try to find one with reception. Eventually we connected and I had her take one last look at our favorite style on the web.

    Elise’s approval confirmed, I headed back into the store waving my platinum card. “We’re a go! I repeat, we’re a go on dresses!”

    Bruna, not understanding the international signal for “charge me!” asked Lindsay and Gina to present their credit cards.

    Me: No, Bruna, I’m paying.

    Bruna: For vat?

    Me: The dresses.

    Bruna: All of them?

    Me: Of course.

    (As an aside, I find it fascinating that bridesmaids and groomsmen are typically expected to pick up the majority of their expenses. I know not everyone is in the financial situation to pay for their party’s clothing, but at the point that you have a group of people doing so much research, legwork, and chauffeuring for you it seems only fair to comp their costs as much as possible rather than rewarding them with some inane gift like a monogrammed hip flask.

    And, seriously, I have the best, smartest, most-resourceful Groom Team of all time. If wasn’t so busy planning a wedding I’d have them whip up a World Tour or a grassroots political movement for me. I’m lucky they don’t charge an hourly fee. Buying them clothing and accessories is the least I can do.)

    Bruna waved me away as she got started on the transaction, and I sat down again across from the cheery customer, who was paging through a sample book.

    Cheery: Are you really buying their dresses?

    Me: Of course. They’ve done so much for me! It shouldn’t cost them money to be in my wedding.

    Cheery: Wow. You are really unique.

    Greek Chorus, AKA Gina & Lindsay: You have no idea.

    Me: I figure they’ll have to buy their own shoes, and who knows what we’ll do for jewelry…

    Cheery: Oh! I can help you with that. I have my own jewelry business. You should call me; I’d even give you a discount since you’re paying for their dresses!

    Beautiful dresses and good karma, all in one morning.