Lou’s Philadelphia Legends vol.1: Joe Tiberino

A Farewell to a True ‘Man for Others’

It was raining at a pretty steady pace when I got into my car this past Wednesday night. If I was not accustomed to the ways of the road, it would have been a no-brainer to turn around. But tonight was movie night with my cousin, a sacred night, the first in several months. And there was no way I was missing a chance, possibly a final one, of seeing ‘Creed’ on the big screen. By the time I took the ‘death entrance’ aka the South Street Bridge ramp onto the 76 West fastlane, the rain became heavier. At the fork right after the 30th St. station exit, I almost slammed into the back of a car that decided it would be a good idea to stop and reverse its way onto the 676 East entrance after narrowly missing it. My car spun out avoiding the slow decision-making idiot at the fork and it was a miracle there were no other cars around me as my car completed a full 360 and I continued merging onto 76 West. The sight of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in the background (which along with City Hall is my favorite building in the world and whose steps were made famous by the first ‘Rocky’ movie) made me vow to not turn back even if I had to part the Schuykyll to get to my cousin’s house. Having respect for the ways of the road, I knew Mother Nature still had something left up her sleeve.

Fate struck about halfway through the Conshohocken Curve in the form of a lightning bolt. If it had been ten seconds sooner, there’s a chance I may not be writing this post today. Judging by the wooden debris on the highway, this may not be the final time it strikes. It’s moments like this one, where it seems nearly impossible to reach deep down inside to find courage, that having faith is most significant. The storm may have been reigning down on me but somewhere I knew somebody was looking over me. I had experienced this feeling before. The most recent instances were after my Pop Pop had passed a couple years ago while heading to Sea Isle during a big storm and last summer heading to my cousin’s house during a bad storm after Don Bigley, a man I worked for in college, had passed. I sat up in the driver’s seat and put both hands firmly on my steering wheel, a common practice of mine when I get anxious on the road. Next, I turned up the radio and was blessed with some new music on XPN, which I later found out is a song called: Every Songbird Says.


On paper, it’s another song about love. Not the first and certainly not the last. It does not sound much different from most other contemporary indie duets yet I find myself hooked to every note as I make my way toward King of Prussia. As I pass the Gulph Road exit, the storm begins to gain some color. Out in the distance, I see many different painted eyes flicker like stars through the nighttime rain. Painted eyes that belong to familiar faces, from a familiar place. My heart begins to beat rapidly. I get to the Swedesford Road exit and stop my car even though the light is green. At this moment the rain stops. For an instant, it all seems so beautiful: the song, the colors, the feeling inside. Traces of lightning flash all around. I pay no mind. The image of the Philadelphia Museum of Art comes back into my head. But I’m not thinking about the iconic steps or even what’s inside the building. I think of art, I think of Philadelphia and, as a result, I think about the news I received thirty hours prior about a man synonymous with both these words (‘Philadelphia’/’art’). It’s at this instance when it suddenly hits me: Joe Tiberino is gone.

I’m not going to lie, my eyes were filled with tears as I made the turn. I knew Joe but I feel like everybody in Philadelphia knew him. He’s a legend. What hit me was the thought of knowing that he knew me. He always took his time to say ‘hi’ and talk to me at his family parties. I always felt comforted by his presence and he always made me feel proud of having a Mexican heritage. He always commented about how many of his favorite artists were Mexican and after visiting the ‘Art Garden’ aka Tiberino-Powell museum it would be foolish if you could not see the comparisons between his style and that of Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. Walk down 15th Street near City Hall for further evidence, this being his murals in a more public setting.

By the time I pulled up my cousin’s house, I was a mess. He gets in the car and asks me if I wants him to drive. I say: “why, because I’ve been balling my eyes out?” He responds: “no, I feel bad you drove out here in this weather.” We get on the road and he asks me why I’ve been upset. I tell him about the news of Joe’s death. I mention how the news hit me on the ride down the Schuykyll and how I almost crashed as a result of the crazy storm. The rain starts coming down pretty hard again as I get onto 422 West. For a second, I think of how anybody that knew Joe will carry on his example of what it means to be an artist, starting with his children. As we go further down 422, another thought began to creep in pretty deep. Like me, Joe was a Prep guy. Granted, he graduated in the late Fifties, when it was a different school. And he was not the type to wear it on his sleeve. But if you knew that about Joe, you knew that he represented everything about what a Jesuit school like the Prep was about…mainly the only thing it should be about, being a man for others. Joe was the ultimate man for others. I witnessed that firsthand throughout the years in the relationship he had with my friend Jimmy, one element of the cast of characters you’d see hanging out in that West Philadelphia compound dubbed the ‘Art Garden.’ It also meant a lot to me that he was not afraid to celebrate his faith. He was a proud Catholic. His love for his faith was a prime example of how one can celebrate their faith outside of the Church. He was not afraid to show it in his artwork. I got pretty worked up thinking about this aspect of Joe’s life. The Prep connection. Better yet, the fact he felt no need to talk about it. He lived it. Every day up until the day he died. All these thoughts were overwhelming. The rain, the road, the beauty of life, death, and art all combined in a sudden bout of high anxiety. If it wasn’t for a beer my cousin had in his jacket pocket, my first sip of alcohol in almost 14 months, I probably would have passed out at the wheel and harmed us both. We made it to the movie. ‘Creed’ was the perfect movie to watch this evening. Celebrating an iconic fictional Philly character on the same night I’m remembering a real-life Philly legend. I see Rocky in this movie and the whole time I can’t stop thinking about Joe. Particularly the scene where Rocky tells Adonis what he would give to have another second with Adrian. I always thought Joe felt that way about his wife Ellen, who passed away over twenty years ago. On the ride back to Center City, the traffic was brutal as a result of flooding from the storms. I sat on 76 for two hours between City Line and Spring Garden. For a good chunk of the time, I could see the Art Museum in the distance. I thought of how the world looks at this building and thinks of Rocky Balboa running up its steps. Or the ones that visit it and think they know art in Philadelphia as a result of walking though its vaunted doors. And yet, anybody’s right in whatever they think when it comes to art. That’s the beauty of it. For now, I look at the Art Museum and I can’t stop thinking about Joe. I smile while sitting in traffic. Some people look at that building and think about the steps on the outside of it, some people like at that building and think about what’s inside of it, I look at that building and think to myself how lucky I am to know the Philadelphia artists that are responsible for building it.

Rest In Peace Joe        

Lou’s Haikus 2016 vol. 1: Where Wind Blows

Where exactly do angels fear to tread?

A message from Jara pops up in my phone shortly after ending a long day of driving: “I think I just coughed up blood.” It’s one-thirty in the morning. “Are you ok?” is my initial (“thanks captain obvious”) response. “I’m fine,” she messages back in quick, cat-like fashion. My first thought after her response: I hope she does not think she is bothering me in the middle of the night. “Do you want me to come over?” I write back. “No, I’m fine,” she responds. I take my shoes off and begin to get ready for bed. Not even a minute goes by when she sends me another message: “Come over!” Coming from her, I know something is wrong. When it comes to facing obstacles in life, she’s about as tough as they come. I never hear her complain about anything. If something is not going well, she uses action before words to alleviate the situation. She does not cry wolf. If something is wrong, something is wrong. “Be there in 25/30 mins,” I write back. I get out of bed and get ready to face the cold winter night again.

In the eyes of my most musically literate readers, I’m probably looking like the subject of an old love song from the 40’s as I trudge back out to my car in 20 degree weather at two o’clock in the morning. It’s not far-fetched for words like ‘sweet’ and ‘romantic’ coming to mind in correlation to the situation. When you add the fact that I’m a 36 year old socially-awkward single male heading out to help my 23 year old gorgeous female platonic best friend, though, these sentiments of true love and romance quickly turn into any observer being forced with making the tough decision of whether to “laugh or cry” at my situation. Most laugh. It’s not uncommon for people to think my friend is using me. She’s a young, beautiful girl and it’s not uncommon for young, beautiful girls to use guys like me. From an outsider’s perspective, I’m that ‘hopeless romantic’ you read about in love stories. The lost fool out driving around and doing nice things for his love interest while her heart during these times is always set on other men in her life. ‘Unrequited love,’ it’s a circumstance in this society and one that popular culture has no problem beating to death through storytelling. As if they even know my friend or anything about our relationship. But like any other relationship that has ever existed, outsiders enjoy commenting on them. It’s unfortunate but it happens to be a common part of the world we live in. Makes for good conversation. Getting into other people’s business. What’s sad about this notion is that if I was stopping by her place to have sex with her and then leaving, it would be more socially acceptable in this 2016 world we are living in.

Add the fact that Jara is a transgender female, though, and every last argument gets thrown out of the window. At least in the view of most men, and by most I mean 85-90% of heterosexual cisgender American men. In this instance, any preconceived notion of me being used by a young woman immediately gets thrown out of the window. Up that notion to 95% for using the word ‘cisgender.’ Heterosexual cisgender males despise use of the word ‘cisgender.’ They look at its very reception in social vernacular as being nothing more than an attack on their masculinity. Particularly in the eternal ongoing war between liberal and conservative ideology. What is in actuality me making my way into University City to lend my friend who has recently had surgery on her face some support is contrived in their minds as nothing more than a front. No longer am I the sad sap laughingstock fool in love lost at the “beck and call” of a hot girl that is out of my league. Now, I’m nothing but a sexual deviant heading out in the middle of the night to a palace of mortal sin awaiting to partake in forbidden games of carnal pleasure while the rest of the conventional world around me sleeps.

With all those pervading thoughts, it’s easy to try convincing yourself to give up. It’s easy to give up on anything you try to do if you look at things the way society does when society looks at your actions of having no sexual or monetary reward in sight. But society, fortunately, does not represent me. I’ve done nothing in life but fall short of my endeavors. ‘Giving up’ for most of the time I’ve been on this planet, has been nothing short of my middle name as a result of making a bad habit of not finishing what I start. Right now, on this cold night in late January, is not the right time to fall trap to this bad habit. I walk up the steps to see my friend not expecting anything in return, I walk up with nothing short of honor knowing that I can be there for a friend not because I have to be there but rather because I want to. Helping a friend in need. When you can feel good about helping people, there’s no need for a reward system. My friendship with Jara has taught one thing that I’m extremely grateful for: being there for somebody because you want to be there for them is the greatest reward in this life.

I get to the door and she answers in her sweats. All the lights are on in her apartment. The television is on mute, turned to a news channel. Jara walks to back to the corner of her couch. Her corner. At the end of the coffee table is her laptop, a youtube makeup tutorial is on the screen. “How are you?” I ask. “I’m fine,” she answers. She gets back to her end of the couch. I sit down on the lazyboy that sits in the opposite corner of her couch. I look up at her, “you sure you’re ok.” She responds with an emphatic “yes!!!” as she puts her headphones on and places her laptop on her lap. I sit down, take out my laptop, and open it. I think to myself: “well, I guess since I’m awake I’ll do some writing” and I open up a new blank file. I peek up at her and I see her trying to hold back what looks like a smile on her bandaged face. I feel a sense a warmth and comfort seeing that she is alright. With a sense of joy…I sit back and begin to write this poem.

Where Wind Blows

Sliding down Church Lane,
Fearing that ditch below. “I
Promise: Not tonight.”

No matter how dark
The storm, a cloudy sunrise
Is always its end.

I should know by now
All about keeping my car
Away from ditches.

Driving into them
Makes no sense after getting
Stuck all these years.

Time’s taught me about
Driving over icy roads
Through all my mistakes:

Making wrong turns, dead
Traffic lights, missed STOP signs, no
Limits on my speed,

Countless fines, much time
Wasted away in courtrooms
And still I take on

All roads despite these
Adverse conditions. Snow, ice,
Rain, damaging winds,

Traffic, and cold sun.
I wouldn’t have it any
Other way. These roads,

They’re part of me. They’re
My life. All those times I find
Myself stranded in

The wind, surrounded
By adverse conditions. All
These roads, where wind blows,

They give me reason
To get out of bed, to feel
The world, to wander.

Lou’s Reviews: Turkuaz @ Ardmore Music Hall 2.20.16

It’s Always Funky In Turkuadelphiaz

You find yourself stepping up-and-down, moving side-to-side, however you’re going nowhere. The lights blink as your veins fill with the frenzied sounds coming from a mixture of speakers and instruments scattered around the stage. A smile is the result of those large wondrous notes of glory the ears can barely contain. If there’s one thing you know about what you’re witnessing, it’s that you’re glad you came out to witness it. Loyal fans of live music live for this moment. It’s the one point where the pulse between the crowd and the band mutate into one. Last night, at the Ardmore Music Hall, there was a point where the 9-piece powerhouse funkster known as Turkuaz slapped me right upside the head. It came after a mind bending one-two punch which consisted of fan-favorite ‘Tiptoe Through The Crypto’ segueing into fan classic ’20 Dollar Bill.’ The band paused for a brief second before kicking into a cover of the Talking Heads song ‘Slippery People’ a song showcased in the film Stop Making Sense (a film the band has paid tribute to in the past). This band is about as close to the authenticity of this era of the Talking Heads as you can get without even trying to be the Talking Heads. Turkuaz is that good and at this moment they hit me, leaving two thoughts swaying back and forth for the rest of the evening: 1) how lucky I was to be standing so close to a collective of musicians as talented as these guys and 2) could this be the last time I’m seeing this band at the tiny 600-person venue located in the Main Line off Lancaster Avenue.

Before last night’s show, I inched my way toward the front. I like watching Craig Brodhead balancing his dual role as both a keyboard player for the band and as guitar virtuoso. Craig was on the stage as the show began accompanying Turkuaz’s world-class rhythm section, which consists of Michelangelo Carubba and Taylor Shell, to get the sound going. The other multi-tasker, trumpet-keyboardist Chris Brouwers was first man to jump into the groove with the rest of the band soon to follow into the night’s opener, ‘The Mountain,’ the opening track to their their self-titled 2013 album. As the rest of the band gets onto the stage you can feel the excitement build up. This band was created for the sole purpose of that little thing we like to call: good times. As you get lost in the sound it would be no surprise if the band were really Bootsy Collins, Nile Rodgers, Eddie Hazel, Bernie Worrell, Sly Stone and all the other funk/r&b greats, dead-or-alive, in their prime and in costume. It’s not until you have the pleasure of seeing Turkuaz play live a couple times that you really get the idea that these guys don’t need to be anybody, they’re creating their own personas. The best example of this is the different colors represented by each member of the band. If front man Dave Brandwein walked onto the stage not wearing his signature color, blue (for example), I’d probably not recognize him at first. Speaking of Brandwein, I want to take this moment to thank both him and bassist Taylor Shell for taking what started as a mere funk project and turning it into one of the best live bands out there right now. Greg Sanderson and Josh Schwartz round out the horn section while Sammi Garret and Shira Elias provide the soul-sister vocals.

There was another slight pause after ‘Lookin Good, Feelin Tough,’ the closing track to their first l.p. Zerbert, where Dave told the sold-out crowd that the band would be playing a couple songs from their new album: Digitonium. That’s when the band went into ‘Lift it Up’ the first track on Digitonium and the fandemonium continued. People were getting down last night on that Ardmore dance floor. It’s damn near impossible not to get down when Turkuaz is on stage. They closed their set with a rollicking cover of the Band’s ‘Shape I’m In’ leaving any of those who had been up front dancing and getting down last night in much better shape as a result. The opening act, Pimps of Joytime, were a pleasant surprise. Turkuaz is always taking great bands out on tour with them. You would expect nothing less from a conglomerate of musicians who studied at Berklee to have such a great ear for good music. The Pimps of Joytime found themselves a new fan last night as I will most certainly be on the lookout for when they come back to play in the Philadelphia area. Maybe they’ll even find themselves on a bill with Turkuaz again. As of now, I have three great shows of Turkuaz at Ardmore to treasure in my memories just like the people who came to this same building on 23 East Lancaster Avenue over 20 years ago to see bands like Phish, Dave Matthews Band, and Red Hot Chili Peppers. It’s like the lyrics to the song ‘Future 86’ suggest, “the future is coming now.” Turkuaz is one of the next big bands of the future and they are touring heavily, setting anything in their path on fire. Catch them now while you can still see them up close and personal before their time playing in smaller venues becomes nothing more than a great memory.

Lou’s Great Songs of 2016 vol.2: ‘Every Time’ by Jesse Hale Moore

Philly’s Next Big Contribution to the Music Industry?

Unwritten rules. Knowing when it is appropriate to speak. Better yet, if it is even your place to say anything. It’s the one unwritten rule I’ve had the hardest time grasping in my life. Nobody tells you what you can say and where you can say it though guidelines exist behind it. This is my least favorite unwritten rule. Social censorship and by censoring I’m not talking about using profanity in front of children which is one of the more written (aka common sense) of the unwritten rules. Or engaging in political or religious conversations with strangers. Or sexual conversations with strangers, particularly the ones that seem privy to becoming the centerpiece of sexual content like human beings the media would deem to attract sex. Nope, I’m talking in the censoring of how your day is going in your interactions with everybody around you. Especially if you’re having a bad one.

Nobody wants to hear about your bad day. Unless you are a person that has a ton of good ones. Then a bad day can be somewhat comical. Like hearing of a professional athlete having to wait in line at a DMV or reading about a famous female fashion model dressed down and being mistaken for a homeless woman by a random pedestrian. Those are the types of bad days we, as Americans, have been told are okay to hear about. When the elite don’t have something go their way. Yet if you thing about it, these instances still go their way; it makes them appear more human than the media usually makes them appear thus making them more likable to the everyday observer.

I’m better off sticking to my most harmless love, music listening. When it comes to music, one unwritten rule I have is to not get behind an artist with very little material. Especially if I’m touting them as the next big thing. The first time I heard the song ‘Every Time’ by Jesse Hale Moore, I texted it to my brothers. Told them this song is a masterpiece. After finding out he based out of Philadelphia and after watching the video, shot on those cinematic Center City streets I live for, it’s hard for me not to break my personal unwritten rule though he has only two songs (not even an ep worth of music) available to stream. Check out the video below and keep an eye out for what’s in store from my official next big thing to come out of the Philadelphia music scene pick for 2016. Enjoy!

Every Time— Jesse Hale Moore

 

 

 

Lou’s Great Songs of 2016 vol. 1: ‘Lose It’ by Oh Wonder

Everybody Dance

5 o’clock in the morning is my favorite time to be out on the road. Twilight time. Coldest time of the day. Lately it’s been too cold. Bird-chirps are still a couple weeks away. On this particular morning, I’m lost in Yeadon. If you know anything about the towns surrounding the Southwest portion of Philadelphia, you know about neighborhoods with dead-ends. Towns like Darby, Yeadon, and Sharon Hill have neighborhoods contaminated with them. Many of the homes are getting run down. It’s as if people moved here to replace the city concrete with grass but they were not able to replace the elements.

When I drive through these neighborhoods, particularly at night, it’s not uncommon to find myself driving in circles. Most of the time, I do this just to avoid the dead-ends. Sometimes I think to myself if growing up around here on these streets is much like driving through them. Constantly driving in circles in hopes to avoid a dead-end. A call came in a couple mornings ago scheduling a pick-up at Mercy-Fitzgerld. I was leaving the airport thinking about the tall Caribbean actress I had dropped off earlier in my shift talking about becoming famous. The whole time she talked about being famous all I could think about in relation to the world of creativity was how much I’d rather be busy than famous. She had one thing going for her, though, and that was if fame was measured by looks she sure as hell looked good enough to be famous. As that debate raged on in the mind my phone went off from a pick-up call. At the other end was a young man telling me not to cancel his ride and that he would wait as long as possible for me to pick him up. When calls like this come in, I get excited. These calls make me feel like more than a cab driver, these calls make me feel like I actually serve a bigger purpose.

Following the gps instructions, I pull up to the emergency room. A young slim black man races to my door. His huskier black friend follows. “Good morning,” I tell them, “or in my case good evening.” I like using a little bit of ambiguity when greeting passengers. You never know which ones feel like talking especially at this time of day and at this particular location. As they get in the car, the slim passenger told me that his past 24 hours have been pretty crazy. The huskier passenger re-iterated: “let’s just say my boyfriend had a bit of a nervous breakdown.” As I was pulling out of the hospital, this song came on the radio. The slim passenger made a request: “can you turn this up, I’ve never heard this song before but I like the sound of it.” Considering I never turn down a passenger request, I turned the volume up.

What a good decision that was. We all got down to this ditty bobbing our heads and cruising through these odd neighborhoods surrounded by dead end streets. After the song ended the passenger asked who sang the song and what the song was called. I pulled over and looked it up on my phone. “It’s called ‘Lose It’ by Oh Wonder, ” I said as I saw it on the XPN Playlist. “Stevie Wonder?” “No, Oh Wonder.” “I’m gonna go home and listen to that on my computer. I had a nervous breakdown and this is the first time I’ve felt happy in the past couple of days.” His boyfriend re-iterated, “Thank the Lord for that!”

When I dropped these passengers off it felt good seeing somebody leave my car with a bit of tranquility after they seemed so anxious getting in. I actually streamed the song and listened to it on repeat the whole ride back into town. After some brief daytime sleep, the first thing I did was search the song to see if there were any performances of it. I found a music video for it which has just been released. Surprisingly, it’s one of the best videos I’ve seen in years. Apparently the group had dancers come to audition for the video but in reality they were shooting the actual video without telling them. A pretty cool concept if you ask me. You can see the element of surprise in the dancer’s faces as they’re caught off guard by a professional troupe and encouraged to improvise. One of my favorite parts about dancing is the improvisational aspect. It’s healthy to yourself to the music every once in a while. For all my music video buffs who read this, take note on this one. It’s a great example of how a video can truly capture the emotion of the music. In an Election Year where everybody seems to be throwing mud at one another it only seems fitting that my first Great Song of 2016 be something upbeat and positive. Feel free to request this any time you step into my vehicle;)

Oh Wonder…Lose It

Things Lou Is Thankful For vol. 1: Ween Coming Back!!!

What Brown Does For Me

I’m the kind of person that uses ‘two types of people in the world’ sayings. My abuelito had a classic ‘two types of people in the world’ mantra emphasizing that in life we are either somebody that gets out of bed thinking about what people we are going to screw over next or every morning we get out of bed thinking how not to get screwed over. This ‘two types of people in the world’ saying is hard to contend against. It’s so true in day to day life. When it comes to music, you can use ‘two types of people in the world’ sayings to debate the industry to death. Many times sounding like a fool. Not many bands can warrant the ‘two types of people in the world’ saying as powerful as my abuelito’s version of the classic saying. One band where the ‘two types of people’ in this world saying makes perfect sense is in talking about the type of people that love the band Ween. When it comes to music, you either love Ween or you just don’t get it. If you know anything about this band’s music and how it correlates with the devotion of their fanbase, you can see why it is more meaningful than people that love just any other band. Ween is not your typical band. I once read on a reddit of somebody referring to Ween as the ‘fart joke of music.’ What’s great about this saying is that if you told this to the members of the band, they’d take it as a compliment. That’s what makes New Hope’s Proudest Sons so special.

Fortunately, I’m one of the people that hail to the Mighty Boognish. They seem to provide the perfect soundtrack to my unconventional lifestyle. In the Eighties, I’d probably would have been written off by now. Thanks to bands like Ween, eccentric characters like myself can find a common bonding ground with other people that view life in a similar fashion. My first exposure to this band was on the classic MTV show Beavis and Butthead. Yes, my first exposure to this band was watching the song ‘Push th’ Little Daisies’ get ripped-on by the classic MTV cartoon characters. Here’s a clip of my first exposure, over twenty years ago, to Ween.

Ween on Beavis and Butthead

As an added bonus, here’s Ween’s second appearance on the classic show.

Ween on Beavis and Butthead pt. 2

I really have to credit Mike Judge for helping me to develop my tastes in music throughout my early teenage years. This show also helped to expose me to the band Phish (DWD on Beavis and Butthead) …another favorite of mind and one with a similarly devoted fanbase. Trey, Phish’s frontman, was raised in the Princeton area which is a hop over the Delaware River away from New Hope. His band has made covering the Ween classic “Roses Are Free” a staple, opening the Phish fanbase up to Ween’s music. An early version of Phish’s cover is featured on the Todd Philips directed Phish documentary: Bitterweet Motel. This past summer, after Phish covered the song in Cayuga Falls, Trey even made a plea for Ween getting back together, stating that they also happened to be one of his “favorite bands.” There is a tiny bit of the fanbase that feels more ‘brown’ (Ween’s official color) if they have gotten into Ween before getting into Phish. I think a lot of this has to go with how Phish gets associated with hippies while Ween is more associated with your modern day suburban outcasts. I’m proud to say I owned Ween albums long before I got into Phish.

Trey plea-ing for Ween to get back together

Roses Are Free MTV music video

The first Ween album I ever owned was the Pod. I remember the day I walked into Tunes in Marlton and saw it sitting on display in the listening booth. The first track I turned on was the third one titled: ‘Frank.’ My grandfather was Big Frank, his only son is my Uncle Frank, and my brother’s name is Frank…I thought it was cool that there was a song to honor a prominent family name. The song references pork roll, egg, and cheese which being from Jersey is a sandwich that is very dear to me harkening those Sunday mornings from my childhood going on rounds with my dad (a doctor) with the reward being Sunday morning breakfast at a local diner near the hospital for either pork roll, egg, and cheese sandwiches or cream chipped beef along with (his favorite) “the mound of home fries” that came on the side. Add a killer guitar solo to close out the third track and you can see how I have no problem telling people that this is the song that got me hooked (Track 6 ‘Pollo Ascado’ being a close second in reeling me in for life). Take a listen for yourself. And to my brother Frank who is a local musician and always getting cover recommendations from me…your band should cover this one if they’re looking for a Ween song to cover because it’s ‘BROWN AS FUCK!’

Ween—Frank

Pollo Ascado

Back in those early teen years it was hip to like Saturday Night Live. It was actually pretty funny in the early 90’s. One of the classic characters from this period was the androgynous Pat played by Julia Sweeney. Pat was one of the characters that had a movie made in their honor. This clip…a solid clip over eight minutes in length has Pat hopping on tour with Gene and Dean Ween. ‘Pork Roll, Egg, and Cheese’ another song honoring the classic breakfast meat which is produced in Trenton (for anybody wondering what the saying Trenton Makes The World Takes refers to it is in refernce to the Trenton Pork Roll Company) as well as the band performing the Pure Guava classic “Don’t Get 2 Close to My Fantasy.”

Ween It’s Pat 

Finally…it’s all the great times I have seen the band play live. Most notably at Jam on the River (the old school Jam at the Great Plaza), the first Bonnaroo and (the most special time I saw them play) for free in a Princeton, New Jersey Park. That particular show, a myspace free show, was back when I was living in Bordentown with my cousin, Larry. After the show, we walked right up to the band and got to shake their hands and thank them for putting on the wonderful event. It was very surreal but the type of thing only bands like Ween can successfully pull off. They love their fans and will constantly take fan requests at shows. Dean Ween, or Mickey which is his other name, is constantly interacting with fans on social media. When I see artists take advantage of social media, it enhances the experience of being a fan in my opinion. Mickey sets the gold standard for artist-to-fan interactions. You can even arrange to charter a boat and go fishing with him, a dream of mine and my brothers. Here’s a clip I found from that night in Princeton where the band is taking a request and playing one of the most Brownest songs of them all live…Polka Dot Tail. I can’t wait to see them again, Thursday night April 14th at Terminal 5 in New York!!!

Polka Dot Tail live in Princeton

I can’t really sum up my Ween experience in one post. They deserve a couple more detailed posts. Being this weekend is a combination of Valentine’s Day Weekend and the band getting back on the road after a hiatus of over four years I felt now is better than never to begin writing about my affinity toward their music. In honor of the holiday, this one goes out to all those that aren’t good enough for anyone in the world this year. In life, people come and go, many times taking their love away with them, but there’s one thing these people can never take away from you, and that is the ability to love the music of a great band. Thank you for getting back together Ween! Brown is beautiful;)

Ween—Baby Bitch (live in Chicago)

 

Lou’s Views: What ‘Bisco’ Means To Me

“You made it to the dance, but you’re wearing a towel…”

Having the opportunity to get out and see live music is something I do not take for granted. As most of the country should know by now, Philly is a great town for showcasing the live music experience. It’s no surprise we have a lot of great artists that represent us nationally like Dr. Dog, Kurt Vile, the War on Drugs, and the Roots among the thousands of other bands that call Philadelphia home. If you asked me what hometown band provides the biggest amount of hometown pride I’ll tell you without one bit of hesitation that it is the Disco Biscuits and their aura that is known simply as ‘Bisco.’

To me, Bisco is a special place. It’s a destination I reach only a couple times a year if I’m lucky. Every time I get there, it’s worth it.  The band does not really tour in the traditional sense, sprinkling two to three night runs all around the country throughout the year. A business model in which a good friend of mine, who was with me in attendance at the show this past Thursday night, calls: “the ideal business model for a band.” As a result of this elusive nature, getting there now is even more special.

While I consider myself a big fan, I am not as obsessed with them in comparison to the most loyal Biscuits fans. I’m not the mayor of Biscoville. Christ, I’m not even a resident. If anything, I’m someone that gets off at the station, most times without a roundtrip ticket for ensuring a safe trip back home. More often than not getting lost in the journey but realizing in the midst of it that the purpose of the journey is to get lost. It wouldn’t be Bisco if you did not get lost every so often. It’s a good place to put all your contemplations aside and just go with the moment. Kind of like where I found myself during the second set this past Thursday when the band came out onstage and rocked my socks off.

Walking into the show Thursday night, my last words before wandering into the venue to my friend were: “after tonight I’m probably going to most definitely scoop up a ticket for Saturday’s show.” On Saturday afternoon, I’m not surprised to be looking forward to another night of madness as I blurb. The band is sounding on top of their game just like they sounded during last year’s Philly run, they sound like the band I fell in love with almost twenty years ago when I stumbled into my first show. That first time I got off at the station.

With a run comes many familiar faces. Most of these faces I only see at Bisco. I oftentimes wonder why that is. Where do these people come from and where do they go after the houselights come back on? It’s as if they find their own places to hide until the next show makes it alright to come back out again. These are the things I ponder as I navigate through the crowd toward the stage. How such a large number of people could share in such a unique, communal experience yet live in such different worlds from everyone else around them. It’s amazing how one band’s music can spawn such a vibrant community. This is true for not only the Disco Biscuits but for any great band and the community that is brought together by its music. Whether I see them once a month or once a year, taking part in the Bisco community is always going to be close to my heart. Their music makes me feel safe no matter how many times they always seem to take me far away from the ennui of reality. And the fact that they’re still around and bringing it after all these years is nothing short of a miracle. This is especially true if you’ve been a follower of this band over the last five or six years, these fans most certainly know where I’m coming from when I say this. So from the bottom of my heart, I have one thing and one thing only to say to the four guys…Marc, Aron, Jon, and Allen who make up (in my mind) the best bang for your buck in all live music…the Disco Biscuits…THANK YOU for giving me the opportunity to bring my ass to the party!

You can’t stop us;)

 

 

 

 

Lou’s Brother’s Band(s)

Celebrating the LBB

Human beings are creative. We have to be. One of my first posts brought up an earlier job where I had to wash dishes at a busy bar by hand. A tedious task. For anybody that has never seen war firsthand, been a victim of a tragic circumstance or struggled with a chemical dependency; dirty dishes probably paint a picture of hell on earth. Mountains of pots and pans in a thousand degree kitchen make a pitchfork in the keister sound like a solitary blessing. Yet even the job of a lowly dishwasher, simple as it may seem, requires a hint of creativity. One of the most engaging aspects of finding an artistic medium as a way to express yourself is that it provides a sense of relevance to your life. This is the kind of stuff I talk about when I have conversations with my brother Frank, whose medium is making music. When I think of all the creative people in my family, I oftentimes wonder where lies the root of this creative process. Documenting the search for it is Kickstarter-worthy. If I had to guess, it would be someone who never became famous in a historical sense but was known in a communal sense. Maybe it was the Town Crier or a Court Jester. It could’ve been a Cave Scribbler or Insignia Sewist of ship sails maybe even the Hand that beat the battle drum. Whomever and whatever it may be, all I know is that the creative bug exists in both my immediate and extended family.

Over the last decade my brother has been playing live music around Philadelphia. Today’s post, on his 32nd birthday, is a celebration of some of my favorite musical offerings he has put together over this time along with his different bands. His music may not be on the radar of the major critics but it is good enough to keep me entertained. In the grand scheme of things, this is all that really matters when it comes to making art, entertaining friends and family. Who cares what anybody else thinks, for all you know, they’re getting paid to think a certain way.

From a pleasure-seeking blurber not immune toward using word collectives as forms of expression to a husband and father that moonlights at night in his makeshift basement recording studio…never stop harnessing that outlet for your creativity. We all need one. Only the lucky ones in life find it;)

Frank’s current band is The Once Was and after a hiatus they are making music again. Rusty James is the hit. It may have never lit up the radiowaves but that should not deter you from giving this song the life it deserves. Named after a character from the S. E. Hinton classic ‘Rumble Fish’ this song has been a fan favorite since it first debuted back in 2008. The video below provides the edited backdrop of Francis Ford Coppola’s 1985 low budget film based on the novel to Frank’s songwriting. If there’s one word I have for this song and video, it is the word ‘American.’ There is something very American about greasers. It’s fuckin Happy Days! Hopefully one day this song will be heard by more people and given the credibility it deserves.

Rusty James (film mashup w/lyrics)

The City Music Project was a collective formed by my brother with his friend Adrian (aka Golden Spiral). It also featured Max Swan. They stopped making music before gaining much traction. ‘Feel Me’ is one of the final songs they put together and it is another song that, in my opinion, did not get its proper due. Maybe today’s showcase of the song’s video can get a couple new people dancing to it!

Feel Me—TCMP

Another mashup, this one combines video clips that celebrate Frank’s musical career up to this point. The song (When I Get There) is from his most recent solo ep titled: Lost Country. This is not my favorite song but it is my favorite video. To me, it’s a sentimental walk down memory lane. These clips provide a peek into my brother’s passion for creating music as they showcase some of his live performances over the years. The youtube channel where this video is featured, livingdrone, has a couple other great videos from his most recent ep.

When I Get There

Finally…how can you talk about the LBB without a little Just Like Me. Unfortunately I could not find any videos featuring sax player Matt Schwartz but I did find two shows on Archive…one from 2007 featuring keyboardist Brendan May. This one is for all the hardcore fans that have stuck by since the beginning…you know who you are.

Just Like Me

Happy Birthday Frank…from your brother Lou.

As the Lou Cervantes creativity saying goes…if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it;)