Bite Somebody Else · Music · Ohio · Sara Dobie Bauer

The Bite Somebody Else Soundtrack

As you know, Imogene loves to dance. She loves music. She should basically have wireless earbuds surgically attached to her head. Of course she needs a soundtrack. Well, Bite Somebody Else needs a soundtrack … and here it is. (For you Spotify people, find the fun HERE.)


PRESENTING THE RIDICULOUSLY AMAZING
BITE SOMEBODY ELSE
SOUNDTRACK OF AWESOMESAUCE

1. “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen

I love Freddie. Imogene loves Freddie. Plus, she doesn’t want to be told what to do. And she is a “sex machine ready to reload.” Personally, I used to rock out to this tune in my friend’s car on the way to high school, smoking our illicit cigarettes before choir practice. Imogene would approve.

2. “Elastic Heart” by Sia

Not only do I picture Imogene and Nicholas having an epic dance-off to this kick ass song, but it fits Imogene’s persona perfectly. She’s got thick skin, and she bounces back from bad stuff. She’s a tough cookie. I wish I was a bit more elastic myself.

3. “Africa” by Toto

I tend to dance around my house with this song at full volume to annoy my husband. Nicholas similarly uses this song to annoy Imogene in Bite Somebody Else. I’m not saying my husband and I are a lot like Nicholas and Imogene, but … hmm, maybe we are.

4. “Sunglasses at Night” by Corey Hart

Imogene wears her red, plastic 80s sunglasses all the time to shield her glamour powers and to look cool. She unleashes said glamour powers in Bite Somebody Else big time, so watch out!

5. “Alone” by Heart

Ah, the height of 80s hair band angst! This, my darlings, is the love song of Imogene and Nicholas. For both of them: “Till now, I always got by on my own / I never really cared until I met you!” Oh, the gnashing of teeth and face-melting guitar! Swoon!

6. “The Mating Game” by Bitter:Sweet

First off, I want to see Nicholas enter a room adjusting his cufflinks in slow motion to this song. I don’t know why. Secondly, for the entirety of Bite Somebody Else, Imogene and Nicholas are playing a game. They’re playing each other. Who will win, hmm?

7. “Come on Eileen” by Dexy’s Midnight Runners

A classic wedding dance song, played at the nuptials of one Celia and Ian. Makes me hop around the room. I dare you to stand still when this one’s on full blast.

8. “Space Oddity” by David Bowie

Just like my love for Freddie, I also love Bowie, as does Imogene. This tune is part of Nicholas’s slow seduction of our purple-haired heroine. I don’t know why I find this song so soothing, by the way. It’s about a man in a spaceship, and I’m claustrophobic.

9. “Turning Page” by Sleeping at Last

Oh, the irony!!!! This is from one of the Twilight movies, and I love it. Really, though, it’s sort of melancholy and lovely. Plus, it’s about a guy who’s waited a hundred years to find the woman he loves, and Nicholas has been waiting for, like, a million. It’s perfect! Just try not to picture Edward and Bella.

10. “Under Pressure” by Queen and David Bowie

Two worlds collide! Freddie and Bowie in one song! Genius. I’ve had a soft spot for this song since two of my best gal pals in Charleston made this their karaoke tune. In Bite Somebody Else, everyone is under a lot of pressure, especially Imogene who will do just about anything to avoid falling in love with a guy who’s perfect for her.


Bite Somebody Else will be released Tuesday, June 20th. Pre-order your copy from World Weaver Press. If you’re in the Ohio area, I’d love to see you at one of my upcoming launch parties: Toledo and Cleveland. Until then, dance, you mad things, DANCE!

(Again, for you Spotify people, find the fun HERE.)

Photo by Bill Thornhill.
Arizona · Entertainment in AZ · Music

Love for Kings of Leon

Jake and I saw Kings of Leon last night. I love them. I listen to them when I’m sad, angry, happy, when I want to dance. I listen to them always. Instead of doing a full concert review, I offer you my favorite of their kick-ass rock songs. And they played all of these last night at the Ak-Chin Pavilion.

1. Charmer
They opened with this ditty, hiding behind a curtain that made them look like ten-foot-tall ghosts. A creepy girl shouted from a huge TV screen. Warning: one of their wilder songs that showcases “the scream.”

 

2. Closer
An extremely sexy song I think is about vampires.

 

3. Molly’s Chambers
From their first album, back when I first fell in love with my boys. (Look at their hippie hair!!) Now, this is a dance song. This is a sexy woman power dance song.

 

4. Pryo
A melancholy tune that Jake occasionally does for karaoke. They rocked it last night, surrounded by images of flying flame.

 

5. Arizona
Well, it’s called Arizona. How cool is that? I like driving through the desert at night to this song, especially when the stars are out.

 

6. Back Down South
I want to move back east when I hear this song. I want to move back to Charleston and have an oyster roast.

 

7. Wait for Me
From the newest album, this one always strikes a chord. I scream the words … and try not to tear up. An affirming song about love and patience.

 

8. Cold Desert
Save the best for last. When they played this last night, a wave of fake snow fell on the crowd. Talk about theatrics. I might have sobbed a little. I get emotional around music I love, okay?

Entertainment in AZ · Music

Chris Thile is Quirky and Charismatic at the MIM

Chris-Thile-2-(by Brantley-Gutierrez)
I have been following the career of mandolin virtuoso Chris Thile for over ten years now. He’s a year older than me, which means that while I was chugging beer at Ohio University, he was already on tour. I’ve seen him perform three times, as of last night, and the man never, ever disappoints.

I took along a novice as my date, and as I explained to her the wonder that is Chris Thile, she said, “I think you have a crush on him.” Oh, okay, maybe, but it’s not because he’s hot or mysterious or dark. I really have a crush on the music, and I think my girlfriend now feels the same.

The Musical Instrument Museum is a cool place to wander. There, you can see weird instruments you’ve never heard of as well as instruments played by some of your favorite musicians. The venue housed inside has been called one of the best in the world by musicians who’ve played there, and by the end of his show, Thile agreed. I do, too; he’s never sounded so good.

Chris Thile is a quirky guy. He has nice clothes, yes—well-cut, stylish, colorful suits—but he can’t tame that wonky blond hair. He dances when he’s on stage. He moves with the music like an eighties hairband head-banger. Between songs, he goes on long tangents, akin to a stand-up comedian. Last night, he even admitted: “Most of my banter doesn’t go anywhere.” Yet, the audience was not perturbed, because Thile is too charming and wide-eyed to be a nuisance.

chris-thile-at-zankel-hall-cr-tina-fineberg-for-nytHe hit several high notes for me, including segments from his four-part suite “The Blind Leaving the Blind,” which chronicles his painful 2004 divorce. He did a Fiona Apple cover, connecting my favorite female musician to my favorite male. As if that wasn’t enough, he attacked Bach (which he described as a huge musical cube in the center of his set).

As a solo musician, I assume you worry you’ll be boring up there all by yourself, but Thile’s set list kept us glued to our seats. He jumped from classical to covers to sad songs to songs that paused in the middle due to audience hysterics (see “If You’re Gonna Leave Me Set Me Up With One of Your Friends” or, my personal favorite, “Too Many Notes”).

Thile is thankful, modest, and so comfortable on stage, you’d think he lives there. He is the epitome of a one-man show: a genius talent and an improv expert. He received three standing ovations and deserved many more.

Post show, we all stood around, hoping he’d show his face (as he did when I met him last year at Crescent Ballroom). Alas, there was no sign, so my girlfriend and I prepared to hit the road … until we walked outside. I spotted Thile, and in stiletto heels, I scampered to a parked car where I found my music crush and said, so eloquently, “Can I, like, talk to you for a second?”

We shook hands and reminisced over the Crescent Ballroom show. We talked high points of his solo tour and his upcoming reunion with his first band, Nickel Creek. I thanked him for being, well, him, and I even got my second (second!) Chris Thile hug before we separated in the night—him to dinner with his in-laws and me to a giggle fit in my car.

There is something to be said for great musicians. There is even more to be said for great musicians who are polite. They have a way of inspiring fellow artists to be the best they can be. Thile works hard, you can tell; he makes me want to work hard at my craft, too, but I hope I remember more than just that. I hope I remember to always be humble and never forget to say “thank you.”

Arizona · Entertainment in AZ · Film · Music

The Suicide Girls and Blackheart Burlesque

Suicide Girls. Blackheart Burlesque troupe.
Suicide Girls. Blackheart Burlesque troupe.

There is something really hot about a chick with black lipstick and tattoos. I’m fake punk; I know this. I wear dark lipstick, makeup, and tight t-shirts with snarky sayings. However, I also clean up well and look very nice in a white dress. Oh, and I only have one tattoo. I couldn’t be a Suicide Girl, but oh, how I would like to be!

I attended Suicide Girls’ Blackheart Burlesque at the Marquee Theater in Tempe. Initially, I bought tickets because I love burlesque. Only secondarily did I look into the Suicide Girls, although as I understand it, the majority of my male friends knew about them already.

Suicide Girls is a website, created by two Portsmouth, Oregon, folk who wanted to see “hot punk rock girls naked.” To be a member of the website, you must pay, and it’s become an international phenomenon, now based in Los Angeles. There are books by the Suicide Girls, as well as movies and a tour.

Priddy Suicide. Pardon my drooling.
Priddy Suicide. Pardon my drooling.
The Blackheart Burlesque show is a little different than the tour, because not all Suicide Girls can dance—and the BB girls … they could freakin’ dance. The lead cast of the show was only four ladies. I could have gone for more, but the four did not disappoint—Priddy Suicide, in particular. Talk about a hot chick. Yipes. Each of the four women was different: different colored hair, different tattoos, different body shapes. What did they have in common? Severe confidence and an edge.

The Blackheart Burlesque was very much about nerd love. Since I’m a nerd, I appreciated all the cultural references. This wasn’t a stupid strip tease. This was everything from The Big Lebowski to Planet of the Apes to Star Wars. True, Star Wars in g-strings with duct tape over nipples—but Star Wars!

I was about six rows back, but the front couple rows got covered in everything from fake blood to whiskey. And how could I forget the birthday cake? At one point, the MC covered her breasts in birthday cake and let the audience lick frosting from her fingers. Priddy Suicide even poured whiskey into her own mouth and then spit liquor into the awaiting, open mouths of her fans.

Half the troupe was British (hot). But of course, Priddy, the whiskey-chugging, foul-mouthed, ample-breasted redhead, was American. Thank you.

The Suicide Girls are not about dotting letters with little hearts. They aren’t about being sweet or shy. Although burlesque is the art of tease, this was teasing with a fist to the head. Whenever you open a show with Bjork’s “Army of Me,” what can you expect? Nothing less than one kick ass performance from four kick ass women who chew men up and spit ‘em out like bad sushi.

The Suicide Girls do Star Wars.
The Suicide Girls do Star Wars.

Arizona · Life without Harry · Music · Writing

The Soundtrack to “Life without Harry”

Florence-And-The-Machine-005
Do you listen to music when you create? As a writer, I must say I do not, but I know Stephen King has a penchant for hard rock and metal bands when he writes. What about painters? Sculptors? Dancers don’t count, because you obviously listen to music when you create.

Artists out there: what does music mean to you?

I only ask because I’d like to know I’m not alone. See, every time I start a new book, I slowly develop the movie soundtrack. I’m a geek, right? Like, totally, but for real: every book I have ever written has a playlist in iTunes, complete with the book title and a full list of songs that inspired the project.

Sometimes, the list is built before the book even begins. Other times, the playlist grows as the book grows. Generally, there is a main band that frames the novel. I swear, each time I start a new novel, some band out there releases an album that fits perfectly with my project. Very cosmic, yes? It goes back to the theory that we’re all connected: artists and non-artists alike.

What we do inspires other people even if we aren’t aware—which is, I suppose, why we should be cautious of what we create. There’s a lot of pressure, putting something new out into the world. You never know what effect you might have, which is part of the excitement and part of the danger. But I digress …

This blog post is actually a playlist for my first completed novel Life without Harry (available in eBook). I started writing Life without Harry during the summer of last year, and it just so happened that Florence + the Machine released Ceremonials around the same time. Voila. Soundtrack created. But as the book grew, so did the songs.

I’d now like to share the very special, very personal song list that went along with the writing of Life without Harry. I can even tell you the specific scene where each song belongs. Enjoy some good music today and realize how much music affects you, your life, and your art.

Official Soundtrack to Life without Harry

We Are Young – Fun (Movie Trailer)
Prologue – John Williams (Just because.)
Only If For A Night – Florence + the Machine (Opening Credits)
I Won’t Let You Down – Alex Clare (Kissing in the Fireflies)
Heartlines – Florence + the Machine (Running from Cops on Camelback)
Transatlantic – Silver Rocket (Anywhere. This song fits anywhere.)
Between Two Lungs – Florence + the Machine (Sam Begins to Write)
Arizona – Kings of Leon (Paul Takes Sam Broom-Flying)
Never Let Me Go – Florence + the Machine (The Haboob Chase)
Soon or Never – Punch Brothers (The Final Goodbye to Sig)

Thanks for reading … er, listening. In the future, I think I’ll always include a playlist in the content of my novels. It seems to make the experience so much more personal, for me and my reader. We can not only share words and images but sounds, as well, no matter the distance between us, and I like that.

fireflies1

Arizona · Music

So What if I Want to Show My Boobs?

I’ve never considered the flashing of breasts to be criminal. If the police at Ohio University, circa 2001, considered the flashing of breasts criminal, I would probably still be in prison. For the next ten years. But I learned something new this past Saturday on the Salt River: showing your boobs in public is, in fact, a ticketed offense—and the cops were ready and waiting.

In the defense of the young ladies flashing their goods, it was “Mardi Gras Weekend” on the Salt River, and by God, what are you supposed to do at Mardi Gras? Flash your goods! The Salt River employees handed out beads as we boarded the buses. Were we supposed to hold on to our beads? Hell no! Beads are meant to be traded for breasts. At least, that’s what we thought.

Wonderbra_UAEYet, as we rode our collective tubes down the river, it became apparent: although marshmallow throwing was highly encouraged, cops were waiting to ticket women who showed their breasts. Not that I was one of them (I was), but seriously? It’s the Salt River. Shouldn’t there be some kind of law about not writing tickets there? Especially on “Mardi Gras Weekend?”

Of course, thanks to Jake, who has been to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, I learned women are ticketed there for flashing, as well. What, you say? At Mardi Gras in New Orleans? You gotta be kidding me. Drunk people can walk around with open containers legally, but women cannot share their God-given talents? Wrong. Wrong!

I don’t know how the feminists feel about the flashing of boobs, but I have no problem with it. In fact, I condone boob-flashing. Are there many people who don’t?

One of my newly discovered idols is the poetic and super sexy Amanda Palmer. I love her music, and I love the way she won’t take crap from anyone. The London Daily Mail recently covered one of her concerts, and instead of mentioning her music, they mentioned how her “breast escaped her bra.”

Do you know what Palmer did as a rebuttal? She wrote the Daily Mail a song. (Please, watch the whole video HERE. It’s beyond fantastic.)

There are several highlights to this rebuttal, and I quote: “If you’d Googled my tits in advance you’d have found that your photos are hardly exclusive.” Palmer loves her breasts, and she loves to show them. In fact, halfway through the song, recently recorded at a live performance, she removes a kimono to reveal her complete, naked self!

My girlfriend. Amanda Palmer.
My girlfriend. Amanda Palmer.
I am in no way suggesting we all just walk around naked. Please. No. Yet, I am comfortable with nudity, and this is not “my generation’s” thing. Reveling in nudity and FREEDOM OF BREAST started with the hippies: my mom’s gang, who burned their bras with pride. My Aunt Susie still rarely keeps her girls hindered by underwear.

And why should we? If women want to show their boobs, why shouldn’t women show their boobs? I understand there is a place to draw the line. I don’t think bottomless is the way to go. As Seinfeld proved in the naked episode, there is such a thing as “bad naked.” Flashing our downstairs areas: just don’t do it. However, why not let our boobies fly free?

I am proud to be a woman. I’m proud (though often confused) at the power of the breast. I mean, seriously, boobs are sacks of fat. However, men love breasts. Even I love breasts, and I’m straight and married. Breasts are pretty. They sustain life. They should not be ticketed. Nay, they should be celebrated!

I feel bad for the girls who got tickets this weekend on the Salt River. I feel even worse for women who get ticketed at Mardi Gras in New Orleans. It’s gotta be a shock to be punished for something so openly embraced.

What’s so wrong with nudity? If a woman wants to show her boobs, let her. Give her a high five, because boobs belong to us, and if we want to share them with the men of this world, it’s our choice to do so. Here’s my vote: bare breasts should be legal. If the women of African tribes can do it in National Geographic, why can’t we?

Entertainment in AZ · Music

The Difference between a Drag Show and a Bluegrass Fest

Your call: which picture is from the drag show?
Your call: which picture is from the drag show?

Differences between a drag show and a bluegrass fest? There are a few. A drag show smells like cigarettes and glitter; a bluegrass fest smells like weed and nag champa. People at drag shows wear evening gowns and three-piece suits; people at bluegrass festivals wear tie-dye and tattoos. At drag shows, gay men show me pictures of their ex-boyfriend’s sculpted abs; at bluegrass fests, people show you bare skin that’s never seen a gym. See? Differences.

On Friday night, I was honored to attend the Elements drag show at BS West as a VIP (thanks to Ms. Tiffany Brown and dear dancer Dallas). The Elements cast of characters are known nationwide. They’re pageant winners and local celebrities, and I had a front row seat. BS West, however, is impossible to locate. The gay bar is in downtown Scottsdale, where I already get lost. Throw in a back alley entrance (no pun intended), and I was a lost lamb among Scottsdale popped-collar wolves. Anyway, I finally found the place, and I was pleased to find our seats in the very, very front row.

IMG_6436The Elements cast didn’t hit the stage until about 10:30 (way past my bedtime), but I was hopped up on Diet Coke and ready to roll. Opening with a trio rendition of “Stop, in the Name of Love” never hurts, followed by several amazing artists who lip-synched to icons like Whitney Houston, Britney Spears, and Christina Aguilera. More than lip-synching, these bitches could dance! I mean, we’re talking Rockette-style kick lines, side splits, back handsprings, and gyrations that would make Shakira jealous. The drag queens were spectacular, gorgeous, meant to be worshipped—and they were, openly, by the adoring crowd, who waved dollar bills like white flags of surrender.

Then, there was Dallas—the one male dancer of the night not in drag. Dallas is an Usher lookalike who, let’s face it, moves even better than Usher. Plus, I’m pretty sure Usher doesn’t have the guts to wear nothing but an American flag string thong on stage. He gave a bachelorette party one hell of a show, and I admit, by the end of the evening, my throat was coarse from screams of animal ferocity.

That night, I dragged my tired butt to bed at 2 AM, but I’ll be back to BS West, because they put on one heck of a good show. The bar features several special events (including the Prima Donna pageant tomorrow), and every Thursday, there’s an all-male dance review. How awesome is that?

Duo de Twang.
Duo de Twang.
From Scottsdale to downtown Phoenix … Sunday, Jake and I attended the McDowell Mountain Music Festival. We attended last year, as well, but I was excited to discover this year’s fest would take place at the Margaret T. Hance Park downtown. The Hance Park is that mysterious span of green above the I-10 tunnel between Seventh Avenue and Seventh Street. Although I knew the space would be sweet, the lineup is what caught my eye, most notably … Les Claypool.

I first saw Les Claypool at All Good Festival years ago. I adored him then, back in those innocent days of pot-smoking and the occasional magic brownie. He is the astoundingly creative, eccentric bass player of bands like Oysterhead, Primus, and my favorite, the Frog Brigade. When I saw his name on the lineup, I had to be there to see him perform with his new project, Duo de Twang, an acoustic outfit, featuring Claypool and guitarist Marc “Mirv” Haggard.

Not only do these boys have talent, but together, they have charisma. I was blown away by finger-picking, slide guitar, and of course, Claypool’s vocal oddity. Watching the Duo de Twang, my head felt light; it might have been the kids toking up next to us, but I think my happiness was due to the deep, chest-shaking bass of the super-talented Les Claypool.

McDowell Mountain Music Festival has been around for ten years, and it continues to grow. Jake and I don’t quite fit there, because we don’t own tie-dye; Jake doesn’t have long hair; and I don’t have a flowing hippie skirt. However, none of that mattered. The music mattered. The beautiful weather mattered. The weird eight-foot-tall puppets? They mattered.

Yeah, drag shows and bluegrass festivals are different, but there’s one thing they have in common: both venues bring people together. The differences don’t really matter when the commonality is so freakin’ cool.

Hmm. Drag show or bluegrass fest? Tough call.
Hmm. Drag show or bluegrass fest? Tough call.
Music

My One and Only Thrill

Whenever I write a novel, certain albums sweep into my life and take my breath away. These albums become soundtracks for the novel, and I do not believe in coincidence in the world of music; I believe in fate, intention, and destiny. How else can I account for the way Melody Gardot understands the characters in my novel and brings them to life through the sultry sound of her voice?

28540941Gardot was born in 1985 in New Jersey, although she is now a Philadelphia native. She began music lessons at the age of nine, and by the age of sixteen, she was playing four-hour piano sets at the local Philly bars. Her life changed drastically when, in 2003, she was hit by a car while riding her bike. The accident caused serious damage, including head and spinal injuries, as well as a broken pelvis. Gardot was confined to a hospital bed for a year, and she forgot how to perform simple tasks like brushing her teeth and walking.

Because of her head injuries, she was left hyper-sensitive to light and sound. No longer would she be able to play loud piano bars in downtown Philadelphia. A doctor suggested music therapy. Unable to sit at a piano, Gardot learned to play guitar while lying on her back in her hospital bed. She listened to Stan Getz and discovered new forms of music—quiet, peaceful music. Then, she found her voice.

She has released three albums since her accident: Worrisome Heart, My One and Only Thrill, and her most recent Grammy-nominated effort, The Absence. I received My One and Only Thrill for Christmas this year—my first experience with Gardot—and as I said, her music has joined the complicated plot web of my current novel.

I love Norah Jones, Madeleine Peyroux, and the beautiful Carla Bruni. But those girls have nothing on Gardot. She utilizes full symphony, like the jazz singers of yore. Her music is soft, gentle, and perfect with a glass of wine—usually consumed in a bubbly bathtub. Her vocals are like an eardrum massage. You just want to sit back and go, “Ahhhhh.”

The highlight of the album is its namesake, “My One and Only Thrill”—a song that sounds melancholy but is not, thanks to lyrics that transform her lover into a lifelong, living idol. Most of her songs are melancholy, though, the lyrics circling around broken love or love that just ain’t right. But that’s jazz. Jazz is twenty percent chipper, eighty percent pain—much like the life of Ms. Melody Gardot.

Learn more about her HERE. Or pour yourself a glass of thick California red and chill out to “My One and Only Thrill” HERE.

Melody_Gardot_Berlin_2010

Arizona · Entertainment in AZ · Music

How to Meet the Punch Brothers

  1. Befriend their roadie, their merchandise guy, and club security.
  2. Send the band shots of tequila and a note.
  3. Basically … just show up.

I saw my favorite band of all time last night. I was nervous. So nervous. Why? I was worried I wouldn’t meet them—that they would be so close, here in Phoenix for the very first time, and I would miss them somehow. I felt the endless anxiety over dinner with my gal pals pre-show. Then, we entered the venue, and I talked up the merchandise guy, who said, “Yeah, if you buy them shots, I’ll send them to the green room.” What better than tequila? I mean, we’re in Phoenix, right? I sent them their shots, along with a note with my name. I’m sure my girlfriends thought I was just a nut, but I didn’t care. I had to meet THE PUNCH BROTHERS.

The phenomenal Chris Thile.
The phenomenal Chris Thile.

I’ve known their music since the band’s foundation, thanks to an amazing performance experience back in Charleston, SC, at the Cistern Yard downtown. Once I moved out here, I pre-ordered every CD, every single. I wrote a letter to their rep, begging they come to Arizona, because they never come to Arizona (something I was not aware of when I moved here, ah-hem). In response to my letter, I got an autographed poster, but still, no word of an upcoming show.

Then, months ago, while enjoying cocktails at Carly’s, I saw the flyer: the Punch Brothers were coming to Crescent Ballroom. I remember staring at the flyer, thinking, “No, it can’t be true. I’m obviously hallucinating thanks to this delicious jalapeno-infused tequila.” Some kind of Mexican agave voodoo? Nay. They really were coming to Phoenix. That night, I bought my tickets: good thing, too, since they apparently sold out.

I’ve been waiting for weeks, counting down the days to December 5th. Then, yesterday, the day arrived. I did nothing productive all day. I got a massage and laid around my house, so panicked was I at the prospect of not meeting the Punch Brothers while in my hometown.

At Crescent Ballroom, after sending my note and the round of shots, I was pretty confident I would make an impression. Then, I waited. The Milk Carton Kids opened for them—a fabulous duo from LA who were equally talented at music as well as comic repartee. Loved them. Then, my boys came on stage, and I’m pretty sure I almost passed out. It was unreal. I mean, the Punch Brothers were three feet in front of me (because I was obviously at the front of the crowd).

Always moving ...
Always moving …
The show is a blur. They played a lot of new stuff, some old stuff, mostly upbeat, although I do love their sad ones. Thankfully, they played my most recent obsession, “Another New World,” and their song list gave me a chance to do a lot of clapping, knee-slapping, and general “woohoo”-ing. They have such presence, these boys. They thrive off each other’s energy. They dance around the stage (which made it very hard to get good photos). The audience can feel that energy, and by the end of the show, we were begging for more, more, more. On several occasions, vocalist and mandolin player Chris Thile made the comment, “I can’t believe we’ve never been here before!” I agree. Punch Brothers, Phoenix has been waiting, and we expect you to come back.

After the show, I literally ran into Gabe Witcher, the phenomenally talented fiddle-player who I love. I almost fell over myself trying to make coherent conversation. Then, I turned around, and there was banjo man Noam Pikelny, who I also approached for an autograph and to give extreme kudos. I didn’t see the rest of the band, and I was all set to go home. I left the venue, dejected at not having met, okay, my favorite band member, Chris Thile. That’s when the roadie I met earlier said, “He’s standing outside the bus right now.” In high heels, I ran, damn it, and it was true: there he was.

Me and Chris.
Me and Chris.
I walked up and said, “I’m Sara. How was the tequila?” to which he replied with much hugging. We reminisced over their Charleston performance years before. He signed my Moleskin and gave me another hug before we had our picture taken together—a fan’s freakin’ dream. Then, I waved and was gone, making him promise the Punch Brothers would one day come back to the Valley of the Sun.

So meeting the Punch Brothers? Pretty easy. Probably because they’re five charming, humble, hilarious dudes, who love good bluegrass and love their fans. I’m so thankful to have discovered them years ago. I’m thankful they came to Phoenix. I’m thankful God made such talented musicians, because the Punch Brothers manage to inspire and entertain with every show. Thanks, boys, for a great night! I’ll see you next time!

Music

Tedeschi Trucks Band Rocks My World

Tedeschi Trucks Band, all eleven of them.

There is a short list of female vocalists that I outright worship, including (but not limited to) Fiona Apple, Brandi Carlile, and Sara Bareilles. Add to that list, near the top, the lead vocalist of the Tedeschi Trucks Band, Susan Tedeschi, who I had the immense pleasure of seeing in downtown Phoenix this past Saturday night.

This band is the age of an infant. Formed in 2010, Tedeschi Trucks Band is led by husband-and-wife musicians Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi. Their debut album, Revelator, won a Grammy Award for Best Blues Album. Their concerts draw tens of thousands of enthusiastic, supportive fans, including Jake and me. This is all after two years of being together. What? Who does that? Obviously, people with tons of talent.

Derek Trucks was the founder and headliner of The Derek Trucks Band (also Grammy-winners), and he was once a member of The Allman Brothers. He has twice appeared on Rolling Stone’s list of 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time; currently 16th on the list. His wife, Susan Tedeschi, has received multiple Grammy Award nominations, and is well known for her singing voice, guitar playing, and vibrant stage presence. Add to these two a back-up band of nine instrumentalists and vocalists, and you’ve got the Tedeschi Trucks Band.

Susan Tedeschi. WAILING.

They didn’t take the stage Saturday night until about 9:30 PM (late for us old folks), but it was worth the wait. Their sound is capable of conquering any space, even the massive Comerica Theater in downtown Phoenix. Susan stood out for me, probably because I can’t believe her vocals. She is a mix of Janis Joplin, Bonnie Raitt, and Etta James. She can sing rock, country, and most importantly, some serious blues. My favorite tune is Until You Remember, a heart-wrenching blues love song, ruled by Tedeschi’s killer vocal prowess. I mean, this woman can WAIL, and she’s even better live than on the albums.

More than Susan (okay, so I have a girl crush), the rest of the band stepped up with equal ability. I loved watching the dancing brass section. It was excellent when a back-up singer got to sing his own song, and wow, the boy did an excellent job. Let’s not forget Derek Trucks, either, though; talk about a guitar player! My brother is a guitar snob, and even he can’t deny the intrinsic skill of this long-haired, soft-spoken blues dude. The songs they played ranged from old style blues, to new style rock, to gospel/soul.

I think Tedeschi and Trucks say it best: “I feel like the music that this band draws from is from that sweet spot in American music, and when you think about the late ’60s and ’70s, they were drawing from music that was 20-30 years before their time … It’s soulful, it touches people, and they relate to it. It’s honest music, even now…”

“And it doesn’t change and it doesn’t go away,” says Trucks. “Real remains real. They were reigniting a flame and then starting another one. I feel like that’s what this band is all about. TTB is straddling the past and future. We don’t get to choose when we’re put here but we do get to choose what we do when we are here.”

If you can see these guys live, do it (although I know, they just left Phoenix). You’ll have to be patient and just buy their albums until they come back. If you like blues, they’re the band for you, although I can say the same of rock fans, country fans, and gospel fans. Tedeschi Trucks Band appeals to a wide demographic, and they do it with talent, charm, and my newest girl crush, a woman who wails, Susan Tedeschi.