The Dave Matthews Band

Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a band. Specifically, the Dave Matthews Band.

I got my first DMB CD (Under the Table and Dreaming) when I was in high school, sight unseen (unheard?) based on the recommendation of my best friend. Who knew that it would spark a love affair that would last for more than a decade?

Everybody was a DMB fan back then, but it’s not an exaggeration to say that I lived, breathed, ate, and slept in their music. Most of the time, literally. Certainly there are super-fans who had more “cred” to their name, but I did alright. I have something like 20 DMB CDs. I had shirts, hats and stickers. I saw them in concert more times than I can count, including one magical tour when I saw them three consecutive nights in a row. I listened to CDs in the car, in my room, and on my discman in between classes (that’s right you youngsters, a discman). I learned how to play the guitar because of Dave Matthews. It seems ridiculous now, but I used to wear a hemp necklace. A hemp necklace people!

Considering all of this, I felt like I must have tons and tons of old blog entries about the Dave Matthews Band, but surprisingly I didn’t. However, I did find a pretty good excerpt from a blog post as recent as February 2008 that sums things up quickly:

One final note, Live at Radio City Music Hall by Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds is really good!  Dave and I used to have a pretty good relationship.  We hit a rocky patch during the whole Lillywhite Sessions debacle, but Busted Stuff and Some Devil were better than a dozen roses.  Still, the endless live compilations began to wear on me (see Live Trax vols 1 – 10).  How many CDs can I own with the same songs on them?  Finally, Stand Up did our relationship in.  But here comes Live at Radio City to make me remember all those romantic weekends at Deer Creek.  Of course it is good!  Did we forget that Live at Luther College inspired me to learn how to play the guitar?  And that Tim Reynolds still can play the hell out of a guitar.  Dave’s voice is a little more raspy, the song selection is decidedly spiritual and I’ve never heard acoustic guitar sound so…sinister.  They really work that low E!  But it certainly brings back memories and I’ve spent more than a few trips in the car singing my lungs out.

Although I rarely listen to DMB these days, there’s no denying that a large portion of my life is inexorably tied to that music. It was the unceasing soundtrack of my life for a large, important chuck of time, spanning from high school, throughout college, throughout my time in Philadelphia, and into my life in Chicago.

Which is probably why, when I pulled out some old DMB CDs for a road trip a couple of weeks ago, I startled Sara by weeping openly several times.

It would be impossible to hear a DMB song that didn’t have some associated memory with it. I know them all by heart, but it’s like they know *me* by heart as well. I can’t hear Under the Table without thinking about driving around Fort Wayne in Chris’ red S10. I can’t hear Crash or Recently without thinking about playing Magic the Gathering in Casey’s basement. Live at Luther College reminds me of the guys that lived in my hallway at the dorm my freshman year. Before These Crowded Streets reminds me of playing guitar in Hillenbrand with Casey and Jeremy. Rody and I listed to Live at Red Rocks in the car on the way Deer Creek for concerts (ha, I just remembered, Rody won DMB tickets once by calling in to a radio show and singing Ants Marching!). Reid and Casey performed #41 at an open mike in the basement of the Union. I think about ex-girlfriends, friends half way around the world, and now I think about the DMB songs I sang to my kids when they were babies and wouldn’t go to sleep (and still occasionally now).

Everybody has a particular band or particular style of music that really defines them, or reminds them of their childhood. For me, that is and always will be the Dave Matthews Band.

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Accordion vs. Guitar

I remember one time my friends Jeremy and Chris were arguing about which is harder to learn how to play, the piano or the guitar. The argument basically went like this:

  • The piano is easier, because someone with no knowledge whatsoever of the piano can sit down and pick out a tune. You can’t do that on guitar.
  • The guitar is easier, because after you learn a few basic chords, you can play the vast majority of most songs.

Now that I am making some meager attempt to learn the accordion, I have discovered that they were both right! They are two totally different instruments, that both have their own advantages as far as ease of learning go. Keep in mind that I am less than a beginner when it comes to the accordion, so take my opinions with a grain of salt!

Advantage Guitar

  • Usually with guitar, you only play the rhythm part. You might learn a couple of little tidbits of picking here or there, particularly intros to songs, but during the song you usually only play the part that is sort of background, and then sing the melody. On accordion, you have to play both, simultaneously.
  • For guitar, any song you can ever think of is available online, for free. I assumed it would be the same for the accordion. Not so! It is very, very difficult to find free music for songs. Usually you have to purchase a book containing sheet music. The other downside to this is that I usually check out 2 or 3 guitar versions of a song and pick and choose what I like about each (there are always many different ways to play any song). I don’t think I will be getting 2 or 3 versions of a song if I have to pay for each one.
  • Guitar has a special, condensed way of designating how to play, called tab (or tablature) which is very easy to learn. For the accordion, you more or less have to learn to read sheet music. I haven’t looked at sheet music since 4th grade band. I am literally starting at square 1.
  • On a guitar, you have two actions to perform: playing the chords with one hand, and strumming with the other hand. On the accordion, you also have to play with two hands, but in addition you need to work the bellows. 2 is easier than 3.

Advantage Accordion

  • Like my friend said, with the piano you can sit down and pick out a song. The first time I picked up the accordion, I could play *something* (even if it was Three Blind Mice). There’s no way you could sit down and figure out a tune on guitar.
  • With the accordion, there are no hurt fingers! To really practice the guitar, you have to expect painful finger tips until you build up your callouses. If you play infrequently, like I do, your callouses go away, and your playing time is usually limited by how much pain you can handle in your fingers. It seems kind of crazy when I say it like that, but it’s true.
  • On the accordion, there are no sour notes. Nobody will believe me on this, but it’s true! The only sounds you can make are coming through tuned reeds. When you hit the G-chord button, you get a G-chord. On the guitar, you get rattling strings, badly formed chords, misplaced fingers. All sorts of hazards.
  • Any piano training is useful. I didn’t happen to have any, but if you already know how to play the piano, you could probably just start playing an accordion. I suppose there are other stringed instruments that you could know which would translate over into guitar, but the knowledge of these instruments is a lot less common than knowledge of piano.
Overall, in my limited experience so far, I believe the accordion is easier to learn how to play than the guitar, even including the extra stuff I have to learn, like how to read sheet music. But maybe I’ll change my mind as time goes along.

Weekend Wrap-up

We had a weekend at home, and it felt like we got so much done! We’ve been away from home so much for the past few months, that it feels like we are always doing catchup whenever we are home. So it was nice to get some time just to sort of kick around the house for once.

Evie and I had a little baking project. We made “candy chestnuts” (a.k.a. buckeyes to everyone else). I had a stroke of brilliance combining her love of the peanut butter cups she got when trick-or-treating with the chestnuts she collected all over Paris. This ended up being the perfect recipe since A) you have to mix all the dough by hand, B) you then have to make little balls out of the dough, Play-Doh style, and C) she had fun dipping them in chocolate as well. Oh, and eating them of course. The only problem is, she figured the entire batch was for her, since she made it.

On Saturday we went to a Family Jam at music class, which is always fun because the entire family can go (usually they go when I’m at work, unless I take them for a make-up). We had a good time, as usual, but this time they were doing something different – encouraging people to bring their instruments. They started a beginner guitar class, so I figured all of those folks would go, and the Family Jam would be a pretty easy thing to do. They would probably select easy songs for the beginners, and they’d probably sound terrible, two things that would work in my favor! 🙂

However,  none of them showed up. So somehow I ended up being the main guitar person (besides the teacher of course). I’ve been playing for about 8 years or so, but I very rarely play for anyone except Sara, Evie and Oliver. Also, I usually like to play songs a time or two to get everything down, especially if anybody else is going to hear me play. Of course at home I usually play the same songs all the time, so those ones I’ve got down. So anyway, I winged it and it worked out okay. I sounded good when it counted and only messed up when it was too loud for anybody to notice anyway! It was fun. Eventually though it was a little too crazy with all the kids and stuff, so I was needed to kid-wrangle instead of play guitar.

Finally, on Sunday we went to pick up the meat order from the farm. We’re in a little buying group that buys organic meat and eggs from a farm downstate. You put in your order once a month and pick it up at someone’s house. As part of being in the group, you agree to go pick up the shipment, maybe once a year or so. This happened to be our turn.

We planned it so that we could pick it up at the farm, so that Evie could see the animals. During farmer’s market season, they’ll drop it off at the market in Chicago, although not the one by our house. Still, it’s a little closer than going to the actual farm. But someone has to take the trips during the winter, and that someone might as well be us. They had chickens, turkeys, sheep and lambs, calves, and pigs and piglets. I have to say, it was amazing the amount of room the chickens had to run around in. In chicken-selling standards, it was ridiculous! Made me feel a lot better about getting food there.

Evie liked to see the animals, but she was disappointed because she was under the impression that they would be killing the animals for our order right then and there. (Maybe she was hoping to see a guillotine in action?) She was really grilling the people who worked there on how they killed the animals, and they were obviously very reluctant to tell her. I got the impression they didn’t feel like they should tell her, either because we wouldn’t want them to, or because they just didn’t think a little girl aught to know.

This got me thinking. Obviously back in the day, when everybody was in charge of their own food, (as opposed to getting it from the grocery store) kids were around animals that they later ate, and it wasn’t weird. (Yes, my friends that live in the country, maybe you’re STILL around animals that you later eat for food (Lisa), but Evie’s not, and neither are the majority of kids). Kids are sort of a blank slate about it, until we TEACH them it’s weird to kill the animals and eat them. We’ve discussed with Evie how the sausage patties we got used to be pigs on that farm, and she couldn’t have cared less. If anything, she was MORE excited to eat the sausage.

So I guess I’ll try to do my best not to instill this disgust in her. I myself throw my hands up and shriek like a little girl when presented with any evidence that my chicken was ever anything other than a tasteless, boneless, marinated 7 pound monster-breast. So wouldn’t it be great if Evie never learned that from me? Yeah, yeah, things were better in the old days. My curmudgeony is starting to be a major theme around here.

And now for something completely different

That’s some pretty amazing guitar playing, if a little unconventional.

Link via Roger Ebert, way down at the bottom of a pretty good article about actual changes in the human brain as a result of the way we use the Internet.

John Denver fan

This one goes out to any Habitat for Humanity people from high school who read this blog and also Carl Loesch, should he ever find it:

She really kicks it in during the “I belongs”. Allow me to explain that one.

After Evie spent an entire day singing, “I will make you hurt!” I realized I needed to revise my list of songs I played on the guitar. Since I don’t have anything in my repertoire that is kid related except for maybe Tree Hugger from the Juno soundtrack, I’ve been playing some of the simpler songs I first learned on guitar, hence the John Denver. Evie’s favorites are “mountain mama”, a phrase that she finds endlessly hilarious, and “dawn is breaking, it’s early morn” a.k.a Leaving on a Jet Plane:

(I changed the word “die” to “cry” to make it a little more kid friendly)

She also enjoys “baby song” or “baby riding in the car” a.k.a. Last Kiss, as covered by Pearl Jam.

And just for bonus cuteness, here’s quick one of Evie saying a mouthful of a book title:

Update

And thus fulfills my obligation to make an update.

J/k.  Look, I’m getting sick and tired of you folks (you know who you are) bothering me about an update!  None of you* have a blog and / or a 6 month old baby, so I don’t think you realize how much work it is to keep up such a thing!

*With the exception of InteractiveReader of course, who puts my posting to shame.  However, she is not bothering me for updates, I assume because she knows what a burden constant blogging is!

Evie suddenly decided she wants to roll over and now she can’t be stopped.  She has been able to for awhile, but it took a lot of coaxing.  Now she just automatically does it whenever she is on her back.  She still can only drive in reverse though.

I’m going somewhere this blog doesn’t go very often…economic stimulus packages.  Read this really exceptionally fantastic idea about how they should be implemented.  I personally don’t agree with economic stimulus packages in general, but neither does he.

One final note, Live at Radio City Music Hall by Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds is really good!  Dave and I used to have a pretty good relationship.  We hit a rocky patch during the whole Lillywhite Sessions debacle, but Busted Stuff and Some Devil were better than a dozen roses.  Still, the endless live compilations began to wear on me (see Live Trax vols 1 – 10).  How many CDs can I own with the same songs on them?  Finally, Stand Up did our relationship in.  But here comes Live at Radio City to make me remember all those romantic weekends at Deer Creek.  Of course it is good!  Did we forget that Live at Luther College inspired me to learn how to play the guitar?  And that Tim Reynolds still can play the hell out of a guitar.  Dave’s voice is a little more raspy, the song selection is decidedly spiritual and I’ve never heard acoustic guitar sound so…sinister.  They really work that low E!  But it certainly brings back memories and I’ve spent more than a few trips in the car singing my lungs out.

That is all.

Hey, remember this thing?

I was just catching up on some friend’s blogs and I remembered this thing here. I really would like to get back to writing in here. For awhile it just became too much of a chore.

So I’ve been married a year, so far so good! 🙂 Everything’s going really well and married life is even better than I thought.

Work has been a handful. About 5 months ago or so I kind of got a promotion to where I’m a team lead and I’m managing 3 or so people. I say “kind of got a promotion” because it was a promotion in responsibility but not a promotion in money or anything. 🙂 It’s been really good so far, but it makes me work a lot more than I used to.

On top of that school was really kicking my ass. I just got done with my capstone class, which is like the “end-of-your-masters-wrap-up-the-program” class. Between all the extra hours at work and all the extra hours for school, I’ve literally had no time to do anything. I can’t wait until I graduate in December!

Now that class is over and our delivery is about to go out the door at work, I find myself without anything to do. I’m still kind of in hurry up mode so I feel like I should be doing something. T.V. just seems boring now. (Hence me picking the LJ back up…)

I’m trying to actually DO some of my hobbies now that I have time, particularly picking the guitar back up. Unfortunately my callouses are completly gone now and I’m not able to play for very long.

Somewhere in there we also took a trip to England to see Sara’s sister who was doing study abroad. It was a great trip (although we prefered Italy) except for on the first day when someone broke the rental car window and stole Sara’s purse. Kind of put a damper on the trip…

Okay, I started this too late and now it’s time to go to bed. Who knows, maybe I’ll have some extra time now that school is out and I’ll update this thing!