Since I went through the pains of watching the GRAMMY telecast in its entirety, I might as well say a few words about it.

Overall, I have to say it was an improvement over past years. The performances were a little better, Latifah such a good hosting job that you could almost forget they had a host, and though the constant interjections of Lifetime Achievement Award winners was distracting, at least some long-lasting talents were given their props. That being said, it was still the puffed up egofest it has always been. Thank you, Neil Portnow, for informing us that the GRAMMYs are "the pinnacle of musical achievement and excellence." If you do say so yourself.



Go here for photos.


The news today is good:

The days surrounding my birthday are getting better and better. In addition to being able to see the Constantines live for the first time, I will also be able to get Spoon's new record Gimme Fiction on May 10th. According to their website, it's the longest Spoon record to date.

AND -- Feist is coming to San Francisco on March 26th! Joy!

It's like all my musical wishes are being granted. Gotta run, Lindsay Buckingham's here to start pre-production on my solo record.


Wait, I'm back, because Conor has crossed the line. Sef just sent me the link to this news item:
Hey, do you live in Texas? Were you at the Bright Eyes show in Fort Worth on Monday? If you weren't, then you were probably busy lassoing steers and forcing yourself upon Native Americans — at least according to Bright Eyes frontman Conor Oberst, you were. According to a review of Bright Eyes' show at the Ridglea Theater in The Dallas Morning News, Oberst "drained another bottle of beer" and then began bashing the Lone Star State before a shocked audience. "I don't know about you, but I hate your f---ing state," Oberst announced. "I'd put a f---ing gun to my head before I'd live in your state." Later on in the show, he continued the verbal assault, noting that "if you came to this show tonight, you're not a normal Texan. If you were a normal Texan, you'd probably be roping steers and ..." Well, we'd rather not even reprint the rest.
Conor has severely underestimated the Texas pride that flows in even the most liberal of Texans. That's it -- it's Austin vs. Omaha in a grudge match. I'll take Britt Daniel over Conor any day.


Please read today's When The Lights Go Down In The City column on SFist.

When I was searching for images for today's column, I ran across the addictive Acme Heart Maker. Enter one or two words of up to four letters each and choose a color, and it'll generate a candy heart for you.

I talked to my good friend Jeff yesterday who's booking a great new venue in Toronto. The act he booked for Valentine's Day is Dandi Wind. Do yourself a favor and go to the ZeD site and watch some of their videos. Vocalist Dandilion Schlase is a little bit PJ/Peaches/Karen O. and a lot bit out of her mind. Spandex is surprisingly good to her. More info here.


How much does where you come from influence your creativity?

My friend and I were talking about bands and the cities they come from, and he was claiming that no good bands have ever come out of San Francisco. I'm not sure I agree with him on that, but it did make me wonder if bands were somehow at a disadvantage if they were trying to come up in a big city.

Conventional wisdom would argue that a big city is the best place for a band to be. You have more choices in bandmates, venues, practice spaces, press, music stores, other bands to inspire you, etc. But what about the burden of too many choices? What about having to share your drummer with five other bands, because there never seem to be enough good drummers? What about getting undue adulation from the local weekly? Add that to well attended shows by friends, girlfriends, boyfriends, and random citizens and a band might get too-positive feedback too soon, and not push themselves to get as good as they could be. Then there are the million distractions that can make music just a small part of a busy life.

Contrast this with what a small town has to offer. A handful of potential bandmates, maybe one or two venues, practicing in your garage (because it's free and your neighbors are far enough away to not call the cops on you), one music store, etc. You may have few resources, but sometimes scant hope and resources can bring out the best creativity. Your band might be your only hope to escape the town, therefore the dedication to succeed is strong, however delusional it may be. There's probably little to do with your free time but practice, practice, practice. And remember the joys of a low cost-of-living? Sigh.

The reason this is on my mind is because I saw a fantastic show by Eisley last night. Eisley is from Tyler, Texas. I've visited Tyler many times throughout my life, because all of my grandparents lived there. There is nothing to do in Tyler but go to church. It's a dry county. The kids in Eisley were apparently raised religious and home-schooled. They've probably all been playing their instruments since they were strong enough to lift them. And it shows. The three sisters that front the band were confident, playing their guitars and keyboards with self-assurance, singing like angels. Their songwriting was mature and melodically interesting, their harmonies spot-on, their lyrics meaningful. I'm not saying that Eisley is going to be as culturally relevant as the Rolling Stones, let me not overstate my point. But the band was tighter and better than most bands you'll see this year, and they're all in their late teens and early 20's.

Watching them onstage, it made me wish I was encouraged to play music growing up, or pursue any type of art, rather than running around breaking curfews and having meaningless teen misadventures. Granted, maybe the parents of the Eisley members were militaristic and cultish, maybe those kids are burning with resentment inside and will tear out in a Lohan-esque bender the minute they're left unsupervised. But my point is, what if we didn't have a thousand bars, clubs and events to go to, but were stuck in a basement with nothing to do but come up with our own entertainment? What sort of art might come out of us then?

Related: The Mars Volta is from El Paso. Their new single "The Widow" is excellent, watch the video here. Cedric is one of the best rock vocalists alive today. Can't wait for Frances the Mute to come out in March.


Dictionary.com's word of the day for today is a keeper:
importunate \im-POR-chuh-nit\, adjective:
Troublesomely urgent; overly persistent in request or demand; unreasonably solicitous.
Now get on out there and use that in a sentence!

The ever-so-kind Nikki sent me tickets to Eisley tomorrow. I can't wait. Go here to watch their videos.


Read this week's When The Lights Go Down In The City on SFist.

I'm very excited about going to see Eisley on Tuesday. Watch their video for "Marvelous Things" and see what my fuss is about. I've spent a bit of time in their hometown of Tyler, TX, and I would have never thought something this cool could have come from there.

The new Clem Snide record, End of Love, is a must hear, especially for any fans of Virgil Shaw or Vic Chesnutt.


I should be writing my SFist post, but I'm too busy IM'ing with Sef and discussing corporate efforts to market to hipsters.

Read this article in the NY Post. And maybe reread my post on the new Tylenol campaign with Sef's comments.

I just got my February edition of The Sampler which I told you about here. The Sampler is a genius DIY crafter subscription service started not too long ago by a Bay area artist. I thought it was pretty underground still, but no, the marketers at Tylenol got their EP in there. In my Sampler package I got handmade zines, buttons, candles, jewelry and tchotchkes by different independent artists from around the country, plus another copy of the American Analog Set/White Magic EP. I gotta give it to them, they're really digging deep into the underground.

Apparently this is one of the companies responsible for marketing to hipsters. Some people say it's evil. I'm on the fence. I kind of like the Robin Hood mentality of taking corporate money and giving it to artists and people on the fringe. But is it really possible to market to true tastemakers? Isn't a strong personal sense of style part of what defines a trendsetter? Can you tell a tastemaker what to wear by giving them something for free? What would Malcolm Gladwell say?

Bottom line is, there aren't that many true tastemakers, or people with strong opinions that they're not afraid to express, regardless of what others will think. There are plenty of followers though, and that's who the marketers are ultimately trying to get through to. And maybe everyone has their price, even the trendsetters. Getting stuff given to you for free because you're cool just reinforces a person's desire to perceive and present themselves as VIP. Being able to tell their followers that they're sponsored reinforces their unattainable Alpha status.

Isn't it nice when trends are started more organically? Check out this article Sef sent me about the movie Sideways spiking the popularity of pinot noir.

By the way, I'm curious how the DJ in the NY Post article got $15K of free stuff. That's a whole hell of a lot of stuff. She says she has "no idea" how much her free ticket to Interpol cost? No more than $30, lady. $15,000 = 500+ tickets to see Interpol. Maybe Lacoste gave her a big ol' box of overpriced aligator shirts. I've been given many free concert tickets, CDs, tshirts and so forth in my day, but I wouldn't say that I was "sponsored" by a band or record company.

Maybe "I'm sponsored" is the new "I'm on the list."


Have you all heard about The Heavenly States' headline-grabbing tour to Libya? Newsweek just ran a writeup about it. Good work, Teddy! I'm glad they're getting publicity because their music is good enough to back it up. Genevieve is going to bring back rock violin to the masses! And congrats to RJ for getting to play bass for them in their tour through the US and Australia. Send photos, RJ.


My friend Chris is headed to Melbourne to write with Chloe Lattanzi, Olivia-Newton John's 18 year old daughter. Being ONJ's offspring, is that a blessing or a curse? You be the judge.

Amazing Grace: Jeff Buckley update:
** Screening dates & times for Cinequest have been announced. Tickets go on sale this Wednesday, February 2 at http://www.cinequest.org:

Wednesday, March 9, 2005 at 7:15 PM
Camera 12 Cinemas
201 S. Second Street on the Paseo de San Antonio, downtown San Jose

Saturday, March 12, 2005 at 5:15 PM
University Theater, San Jose State University
Fifth and San Fernando Streets, San Jose
(408) 924-4555
** Read what Sebastian Bach had to say about appearing in the documentary.

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