May, 2008:

Everybody Clap For Everybody

Send to Kindle

For Jewish folks, Lois and I listen to way more than our fair share of Christian music. Aside from the fact that we’re both Country/Bluegrass fans (which has more than it’s fair share of faith-based lyrics, even in normal songs), and aside from the fact that we both love Christmas music (buying quite a bit of it as well), we also purchase specifically Christian music.

Perhaps the best example of this is a group (really their leader) that we’re simply crazy about, Ceili Rain. We own all of the CDs. In this post I mentioned that we discovered them through Kathy Mattea. On September 13th, 2001, we were driving back to NYC from VA, and when we came around 495 approaching the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel, and saw the smoke rising from the WTC site, the song Love Travels (from her Love Travels CD) started playing. Lois owned the CD for a while, but for whatever reason, this was the first time she popped it into the car CD player.

Clearly, the song got to us (but even more to Lois) instantly. As I’ve mentioned numerous times, Lois really cares about knowing who wrote a song. She looked it up and found out that Bob Halligan Jr., the head of Ceili Rain, wrote the song. He also wrote That’s All The Lumber, which Kathy also covered. We bought the CD Ceili Rain, by Ceili Rain, which has both of those songs on it. Kathy’s versions of both are gorgeous (in every way), but there’s a rawness to the way Ceili Rain does it that I prefer.

From there, we’ve ended up buying all of their stuff. Last August we bought a bunch of their CDs, including No You No Me. Since we’ve accumulated tons of music in the past year, it took a while for Lois to finally listen to all of them. She instantly fell in love and connected with the song Everybody Clap For Everybody. Lois is all about fairness toward everyone, always, no excuses and no compromises.

Most of our closest friends are deeply religious Christians (mostly Baptists, but not exclusively). One family home schools their children. I wrote about the 10-year-old recently, when we took him to see Girlyman at Joe’s Pub. He and his 7-year-old brother are sports fanatics (playing as well as watching). Lois thought that Everybody Clap For Everybody would be a great song/message to share with the boys. She asked me to get a copy of the CD for them.

I ordered it from a seller on the Amazon.com Marketplace. I had it shipped to us at Zope, expecting to deliver it in person to our friends in Leesburg the following weekend. It never showed up. 🙁

I waited a few weeks, and the USPS tracking number never got updated. The package appeared to be stuck in Elkton, MD. Meaning, the shipper sent it, but the Post Office lost it. Shocking, I know…

I contacted the seller, and he told me that one in 100 packages ends up in the ether. He immediately refunded my money and told me to keep the CD if it ever showed up. Wow, that’s great customer service, an extremely rare thing nowadays. That was on February 28th!

We were down at Zope at least two separate trips in March and then again on April 1st, and the CD never showed up. We spent the rest of April in NY. Yesterday, we left super early from NY to head back to Zope, stopping to visit our friends in Leesburg on the way. We got there in time to see the 10-year-old play in a baseball game. Unfortunately, the 7-year-old played at 9am, and we were unable to get there in time.

After spending the rest of the afternoon with them, we headed to Fredericksburg. We stopped into the office before heading to the hotel. Sitting on my desk was the CD of No You No Me! I couldn’t believe it. No one in the office gave me a heads up, which leads me to believe that it only showed up this past week (and they knew we were coming down).

It seemed amazing that I became aware of the CD on the same day that I watched a baseball game in Leesburg (the intended recipients of the CD). Not just that, but they played the best team in the league (undefeated) and valiantly came back from down 8-1 to lose 8-4, with some chances (blown calls by the umpires!) to narrow it further. The song would have been appropriate after that game. 😉

Anyway, aside from shipping the CD to our friends tomorrow, I contacted the seller and told him that I insist on paying him, even though he told me I could just keep it. I haven’t heard back yet, but one way or another, he’s getting rewarded for his excellent customer service.

Now, if all of us could just learn to clap for everybody, and let go of all of the pettiness that we feel and exhibit all too often, that would just be very cool indeed. In the meantime, to get you into the mood, go out and get some Ceili Rain and start soaking up the philosophy! 🙂

Dolly Parton at Radio City Music Hall

Send to Kindle

I’ve been a huge fan of everything Dolly Parton forever. Her music is great, her movies are great, her larger than life look and persona are great and she’s an all around fun and nice person. She also comes across as a genuine and caring person, including leading and being involved in a number of worthy charitable efforts.

The above site is coming soon and at the moment is just a cute flash intro to her other properties. On the music front, here is Dolly’s website.

We had tickets to see Dolly at Radio City Music Hall on March 7th, 2008. It’s one of the most beautiful theaters around, with pretty good acoustics for a place that large. We’ve seen a few shows there in the past year, including Martina McBride and Harry Connick Jr. I was way more excited than Lois about seeing the show and was very disappointed when she had to cancel (thankfully, it turned out to only be a postponement) due to health problems.

The show was rescheduled for May 1st (last night), and we hung on to our tickets and sat in the same seats. Very rear orchestra (10 rows from the back, 41 rows from the stage). Not so great seats for seeing, but just fine for hearing and experiencing the entire show.

The show was called for 8pm, and at 7:35pm it started to rain, so getting in was slightly less than pleasant. We were in our seats by 7:50pm and the place was at least 1/2 empty so I knew the show wouldn’t start on time.

The house lights went off at 8:12pm. When the curtain was pulled back, only the drum was playing (keeping a very straightforward beat) and one other musician was on stage, just clapping to the beat. The crowd started clapping along, keeping the same lively beat, with the excitement building. Then, one by one (or possible two at a time, etc.), more musicians kept coming on the stage, each clapping to the same rhythm (meaning, not playing their instruments, except for the drummer).

They kept coming out. Meaning, she has quite a large band. When they were done, there were 11 people on stage! Three back-up singers and eight musicians. Then Dolly came out (from the back of the stage, or even possibly from below or above, but not from the sides like the rest of them, I just couldn’t see). The crowd literally exploded.

All of the photos in this post are terrible, sorry. We were very far back, the lights were dim, flash photography wasn’t permitted (of course, it was going non-stop all night anyway!), and it wouldn’t have made a difference from our seats. The worst part is that Dolly’s outfit in the first set was the brightest white, and the rest of the stage and band were muted, so the contrast makes Dolly look like a cut-out. Anyway, just to give you a flavor, I’ll sprinkle in five photos in all.

Dolly Parton

She burst right into a number. Her voice is/was fantastic. She hasn’t lost anything over the years. The back-up singers were great as well. The band is excellent too, but as opposed to many other shows we’ve seen, they really take a very backseat role to Dolly, with very few if any leads/solos. In a way (though the scale can’t be compared!) this was more like the Joan Baez concert, where the band faded and let her shine.

Dolly Parton Band

For the one person out there who doesn’t know this fact, Dolly writes most of her own songs, brilliantly. She’s been a prolific songwriter for over 40 years, with lyrics and music that span a wide range of topics and styles. If you’re over 20 years old and don’t know the song 9-to-5, then I don’t know what to say to you. That’s one end of the spectrum, purely fun stuff. As a contrast, she also wrote I Will Always Love You (and performed it brilliantly last night!), which was covered by Whitney Houston (earning Dolly a ton in the process).

She’s campy, in looks and personality. Her bubbliness (notorious) and incredible energy level were both in full gear last night. Whatever ailed her, forcing the postponement of this tour, is well behind her now. In addition to singing many crowd favorites (she can’t possibly do them all in one show, given how many she has!), she tells very long and detailed stories throughout the show.

With some acts, you might be screaming inside your head for them to play more music. With Dolly, you are putty in her hands, and are delighted to be taken wherever she wants to take you. Seriously, everyone in the audience was hanging on her every word. She’s funny, warm, interesting, thought provoking, etc.

Early on, she mentioned that they were ready and raring to go at 8pm (Radio City is very good about starting shows on time), but they mentioned to her that because of the rain, it was taking longer to get the crowd seated. By the time her third number was done, the place was jammed (as in full).

Also different than acts as large as hers, playing venues as large as Radio City, there were no big screens, pyrotechnics, razzle dazzle (other than Dolly’s innate razzle dazzle!). On the one hand, we were marginally disappointed that the two big screens on the sides of the theater were dark, because it would have made it easier to see her up close and personal (like they had for Martina). On the other hand, there was something slightly refreshing about a straightforward concert that was about the music and the stories, rather than techno distractions (as cool as they often are).

They played for 55 minutes and then took a break. The break lasted 22 minutes. When they came back out, Dolly had changed outfits (the only change of the night). She then did a romp of partial covers (meaning, cover songs, that they only played parts of). She basically covered big hits chronologically through the years (50’s, 60’s, 70’s, etc.). Just a few examples: Great Balls Of Fire, R-E-S-P-E-C-T, among many others.

She used this mini-set to showcase the singers and some of the band members. Each singer sang at least one solo (really well!). The lead guitarist did Johnny Be Good. Because none of the covers was full length, they were able to get a majority of the 11 singers/band members involved in the showcase. It was very cool and very well done. Afterwards, Dolly introduced each of them by name. I couldn’t have possibly remembered each of their names, and they’re not listed on her site (always a disappointment to me when that happens). Anyway, like I said above, all were excellent, no exceptions.

Dolly Band Left Side

Dolly Band Right Side

Dolly herself is quite an accomplished musician, though for the most part, she sings without an instrument. Last night, she played a bunch of instruments, at least for part of a song, really well! Here are the ones I recall:

  • guitar (acoustic and electric, both really well)
  • piano
  • penny whistle
  • dulcimer
  • harmonica (wailing!)
  • banjo (for just a few seconds, in a very funny bit)
  • fiddle (a little longer than the banjo, but not much)

I don’t think I’m forgetting any other instruments, but perhaps I am. To repeat, we’re talking about an extremely talented lady, in every respect imaginable. Here she is on the piano, though you can’t make her out (other than her figure) at all:

Dolly Piano

The second set was nearly 50 minutes. When she said goodnight, the crowd were all on their feet and clapping wildly. Thankfully, even though she left the stage, they didn’t try to trot off the other 11 people and then trot them all back on for the encore. Dolly came back out a minute later and did one number. When it was all over, she was on stage for 132 minutes, including the 22 minute break. A very nice length indeed.

For each of the two sets, the people in the front stood for the first song, causing a rolling wave of everyone else standing up so that they could see the stage. In other words, for the first song of each set, everyone in the crowd stood up.

When she sang 9-to-5, the entire audience stood and sang along (really well!). When it was over, and the crowd was still going nuts, she made the crowd sing one verse all by themselves. It was pretty cool. The crowd also stood for the entire song during I Will Always Love You.

We’ve seen lots of shows filled with crazed adoring fans (Keith Urban, Rascal Flatts, Kenny Chesney, Martina McBride come to mind, but it feels unfair to leave out Jerry Jeff Walker and many others!). That said, there was something qualitatively different last night. The fans seemed overjoyed just to be there. I can’t describe it, other than to give two tiny (insignificant) examples:

  • You could see the gratitude on the face of one person, when it was clear that the other person (of the couple) arranged for the tickets
  • People kept turning to complete strangers (including to us!) and beaming, saying things like “is this fun, or what?” In other words, they just couldn’t help sharing their joy

Ultimately, for me, the proof positive was seeing Lois enjoy the show (and the experience) much more than she (much less I) expected her to. I felt vindicated in insisting we not miss this.

We have good friends across the cul-de-sac from us. The husband is a huge Dolly Parton fan. When Lois realized how big a fan he was, she practically offered her ticket to him. I would have been delighted to go with him, but thankfully, Lois decided that she really wanted to see what all the fuss was about. 😉

Finally, Dolly played a bunch of songs from her new CD, Backwoods Barbie. The songs were all good. I already have Better Get To Livin’ on my iPod, as it was offered as a free download of the week a while back on Amazon.com. It’s great, as are a number of other songs on the CD that I’ve heard. We’re definitely buying a copy soon!

Girlyman Mini-Contest

Send to Kindle

OK, we just concluded the month-long Girlyman Live CD Contest. The results were just posted.

As you can see in that post, there were two CDs left un-won. In keeping with the spirit of the original contest, trying to have some fun in promoting this fantastic group, Lois and I are now running a mini-contest to give away the final two CDs.

The rules are similar, but different enough. Basically, tell us (and hopefully the world!) why you deserve one of these CDs. The difference comes in that there is no time limit on this contest, and the first two entries that move us or tickle us in any way will win (on the spot!).

So, this time, speed matters. But, this time, simply saying “I want one” won’t do, whereas if two additional people had simply said that last time, they would have won!

You can review the original rules in the original contest post. Basically, tell us why you should win a CD in a comment to this post. Even better if you tell the world somewhere else (your blog, YouTube, etc.) and put the link to that in a comment here.

That’s it! They could both be gone today, or still here a year from now. It’s up to (two of) you! 🙂

Girlyman Live CD Contest Winners

Send to Kindle

OK, the Girlyman Live CD contest is officially over. Picking the winners turned out to be easy, somewhat unfortunately. There were only eight entries, so they all win! It just so happens that all eight entries were really good, but it would have been nice to see even more like these.

Given that there’s no need to rank any of them, I’ll list them in the order that they were entered. Later today, I’ll be contacting all of the winners via email to get their shipping addresses. I think that we’ll be able to get the CDs out in the mail to all of you sometime next week.

Without further ado:

#1: Frank and Suzy

very cool idea!

My wife and I felt the same – more people need to feel the Girly-Love! after introducing many of our friends to the band’s recorded music, we felt our friends (and us) needed more. We had traveled from Oklahoma to Nebraska to see them and then Oklahoma to Missouri when we figured, for the $$$ we are spending on the road, maybe we can talk them into coming here! So we found a space with a stage at a brand new music school in town (Norman Institute for the Performing Arts) and convinced their booking agent that we could pull off a show even though we don’t really do this kind of thing.

We had a great show with over 100 people and sold tons of merch. We made enough to cover our costs and give some to NIPA who had graciously offered their place for free.

We are now in the beginning stages of helping some friends in New Orleans (who came up for our show) do the same thing.

As far as the CD giveaway, I’ve already ordered one for us and a second to give away. If we ended up with yet another, we’d just pass it along to someone new!

~frank & suzy

#2: Laura

Hi!

Thanks so much for putting this together. I’m excited to read everyone’s stories. I, too, am a huge Girly-fan and am trying to introduce them to anyone who will listen. Let’s just say that several people are getting Somewhere Different Now as a birthday present this spring!

Another small attempt of mine was to make a music video for my current favorite Girlyman song, Everything’s Easy. Let me know what you think:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCYvNAr3zFU

#3: krpmomma

My husband, daughter, and I are all HUGE fans of Girlyman! We would really love to get the Somewhere Different Now live CD so we can relive the one time (SO FAR!) that we have seen Girlyman in concert. My daughter was excited when she heard about the contest and we put together a little music video entry. Watch out Hadar- she may rival you for the #1 fan title!

Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YF3aL3jledk

#4: David

Top four reasons why I want a Girlyman CD!

1) If it wasn’t for me, there wouldn’t be a Girlyman CD contest! (OR maybe there would be but y’all would’ve had to see them for the first time another time).

2) Girlyman has already written a song for me, and from what I can tell–Ty still likes me.

3) Memories are precious…”Tomorrow may bring us thunder or sun…I’d do it all again, I’d do it by the ton.”

4) I’m a Girlyman fan!

#5: Laura M

So I would like to officially enter the contest and point attention towards my facebook profile 🙂

PS: my main impressive reason for winning (besides liking the group, of course 🙂 ) is that I’ve listened to the tracks 242 times according to my itunes play count!

And that only counts times its played on my computer!

I have to stop here for a second and make a comment. When Laura M originally entered, I went to her Facebook profile and commented that I couldn’t find the part about Girlyman. Obviously, something was wrong with me that day. I just went and checked again, and I found it, and I was very impressed by it, though like I said on the contest page, the P.S. would have been good enough. 😉

#6: Wes

I am officially entering “The Contest” There are many reasons why I think I could win one…but here are my upper-echelon ones:

1) I was at Joe’s Pub the same night Hadar/Lois (and David) first saw Girlyman. In fact, I could (perhaps) make a similar argument as David 🙂

2) I was just as enthralled that night…and became an instant fan

3) Since returning from that initial concert, I have mentioned Girlyman to anyone I think might be remotely interested in discovering them

4) A live CD would be incredible (and bring back good memories of the first time I saw them, and the great friends I was with)

5) About 5 months ago, I discovered the owner of this blog had broken a rule of his when he posted a music write-up…and failed to mention Girlyman (that was a good eye!) I was making sure they were consistently represented per the blog’s norms

6) I am planning on seeing them in July in Durham, NC

7) A live CD will help me better promote them in my “neck of the woods” (and this is NC, so it is “the woods”)

8) My Facebook status update now mentions Girlyman

9) I don’t want to resort to begging…

Ok…I think those are good ones!

#7: Margaret

While I have no incredible stories to tell, I just thought I’d tell the plain and simple truth, for what it’s worth.

My deep abiding love for Girlyman was renewed this summer when my dad and I spontaneously went to a gig while visiting family in Virginia. We’d seen them at Falcon Ridge several years ago and remembered being really impressed with them, and we were not disappointed! Since then I have listened to their CDs excessively and obsessively, introduced a bunch of my friends to them, and brought a couple of those friends to a show in my native habitat – New York State. I even attempted to sing one of their songs solo to audition for my school’s musical, and while even a far better singer than I could not hope to do justice to their music alone, I had a fantastic time with that and got the people running the auditions interested in Girlyman. I wear my Girlyman shirt often, and take advantage of the quizzical stares as a brilliant opportunity to spread the word.

I will get my hands on that live CD somehow but I figured I’d take a stab at it this way. I’m counting down the days until a New York gig appears on the upcoming shows page…

#8: girlyman

Well, I haven’t made a youtube movie nor have I hired an airplane to write “GO SEE GIRLYMAN” in the skies over 49 out of 52 states. Awesome though that would be. I first saw Girlyman a mere three weeks ago but since then trust me I have been busy spreading the word the old fashioned way! To date I have converted: 6 fellow Smithies via “put these headphones on and just listen!” My entire scenic design class by playing Joyful Sign and Little Star during drafting sessions, 3 more college students on the west coast (one of whom was in El Salvidor at the time. Yes I called long distance to El Salvidor to get one more person to the Girlyman concert in Monterey.) Add to the list my father who is a stickler about all things music, 1 Northeaster student who is a composer in her own right ( I have heard since then that all of her friends are now addicted as well.) That’s 17 new Girlyfans in three weeks not counting however many my friend at Northeaster has created. I also just played a few tracks at work this afternoon in the theater and, while time has not yet shown how serious the addiction will become, there are now 4 theater electricians wandering around humming “Through to Sunrise.”

in only three weeks I have created over 17 new Girlyfans and I am nowhere near done. So long as my ipod has a charge and there are people around who have yet to gotten drunk off of the harmony I will keep spreading the good news of Girlyman!

I deserve a CD because it will help me spread the word of Girlyman to more people! I live between three different places: Santa Cruz California, Northmapton Mass, and rural: corner of No and Where Vermont. so when I say that I am spreading the word of Girlyman far and wide I mean FAR and WIDE.

I forgot to mention I have spread the word WITHOUT MAKING ANY BOOTLEGGED CDs! I flat out refuse and insist that everyone buy the music legitimately so that the support the bad as well as their new addiction.

Congratulations to all of the winners, you were well deserving!

We still have two signed CDs left, and I will have a mini-continuation-contest announced shortly, with ever-so-slightly different rules. 😉

Update: Here’s a link to the new post about the new mini-contest.