December’s Here: My One Birthday and Christmas Wish

Joe Strummer photo by Bob Gruen

Photo by Bob Gruen

Happy December, my dear friends!

With the world events of the past several weeks, celebrating anything right now is uncomfortable at best. Maybe some of you are feeling something similar? I’m making a sincere request and hope you can help me, and in turn help some others who need us.

With my birthday and Christmas arriving this month, some of you may be planning to buy me a gift. First, thank you! That is incredibly kind.  May I ask that instead of buying me something, would you please donate that money instead?  Or, if you adore shopping, could you please donate what you’ve purchased to a cause that you love? Or, if you can, donate your time. Any of these would mean the world to me, and would help restore some of the magic to the season that I remember as a little kid.

All I ask is that you let me know where you donated, and tell me a story about why it is important to you – write, call, tell me in person, whatever works best for you.  In doing so, you’ll reaffirm that humans are generous, kind, optimistic, that we can and do still help each other. I need that reminder now more than ever; it would be a divine gift to receive, being able to read/hear/remember all those stories of generosity from you throughout the year to come.

I’m including links to some of my absolute favorite organizations below; feel free to help them, or pick a place you love and give them money or your time as a volunteer.  That could be a food bank, a pet rescue, a homelessness assistance group, a kids’ toy drive – anything that inspires you.  Any physical gifts I receive in person will be donated to a charity that needs them.

My love and eternal thanks to each and every one of you. I am beyond lucky to have you in my life. I do hope that if you’re free, you’ll come join me on my birthday December 16th at 8pm for a bite to eat or a fine adult beverage at Hotel Albatross and then later Hattie’s Hat in wonderful Ballard, WA.  (Contact me if you’d like more details on this.)

All my best,



Some of my favorite organizations:

Sweet Stuff Foundation – This is Josh Homme’s charity, with a special fund in remembrance of the victims of the attack at the Bataclan, to support their families.

White Center Food Bank – I am a vocal, longtime supporter of this food bank.

The Vera Project – Anyone who helps kids hear, learn about and work with music is a hero to me; I know the difference music makes.

Senior Services – They help senior citizens in every imaginable way, including transportation, activities, groceries and food for pets, home repair and much more.

Backstreet Cultural Museum – This museum preserves and teaches us about essential elements of New Orleans culture, including Mardi Gras Indians, social aid and pleasure clubs, and more. They’re having a tough year, so every little bit helps.

Furry Faces Foundation – This West Seattle group has helped more than a few friends and neighbors, and can always use your help to do more.

Planned Parenthood – Ensuring that men and women are able to get affordable, basic healthcare is essential to me.

The Good Samaritan Society in Fennimore, WI – The team at the Good Same took extraordinary care of my Nana through the past several years until her passing this fall. She loved them and help them for many years, and any money given would honor her, which would mean the world to me.






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Wanted: A Worldwide Second Line

“I don’t know what to do!”

“Just follow the music.”

While listening to the live broadcast of Allen Toussaint’s funeral this morning (thank you, WWOZ), I heard the exchange above. More specifically, it happened during a video feed as the memorial ended and the mourners and musicians filled the street outside the Orpheum for the second line. Someone near the camera didn’t know what was happening, where to go, and someone far more familiar with the tradition told them what was next – just dance and stroll, following the band and the music, wherever they might lead.

When someone passes on, everything stops. We cry, we share the news, we plan, but that time is quiet, still, internal. The memorial service comes, and we solemnly honor and send the departed on ahead into the great beyond. In New Orleans, after that respite, comes the second line. As the memorial service ends, the music lifts the mourners back up and carries them forward into the streets, celebrating the life of the person who is gone and reminding everyone that our lives, though finite, still continue. It is the vibrant, funky, literal manifestation of “a time to mourn and a time to dance.” Balance is restored; like music, life pauses and it continues, over and over.

A week ago today, the music was violently, hatefully stopped at the Bataclan in Paris. Too many lives stopped along with that music. There aren’t adequate words in this world to describe the horror of losing every single one of those people. They were my people. I’d only met one of them, but I know for certain that they understood life – that there is a necessary balance to it, and that we’re all in it together. I know this because they chose to attend a concert. In a world where we are increasingly detached and isolated from each other, dependent upon the cool glow of technological advances for communication, these concertgoers made their way to the packed, raucous Bataclan. They knew that a digital file is only a faint shadow of live performance. They also knew that while less convenient than staying at home and spinning the record instead (or watching via Periscope), going to a concert is one of the few places one can be enveloped by something bigger. Sharing a room with people they’d never met, bonding over the music played by a band they all loved was essential. They knew being in the crowd at a concert means that, for a short time, you need not feel alone or be the odd person out. You are part of a community. You are connected, welcome, inspired, transcending all that weighs you down. You are sweaty, human, and you are so very alive.

I wish the troglodytes who committed these despicable crimes had experienced this sense of concert community at least once in their lives. If they’d felt that connection once, they couldn’t have stopped themselves from returning again and again, to feel part of something, to better understand the people fumbling their way through this world with them. If they’d been fortunate enough to have a song grab them by the elbow to walk them through their darkest days, to lift their chins so that they could see a clearer path to a better lives, to open their minds and hearts to the notion that being a human is bullshit and beauty and complexity inextricably entwined, they could not have done this.

Instead, here we are. We’ve lost so many fellow humans this week in France, Lebanon, Nigeria, and again today in Mali. Save a sudden and miraculous discovery, we’ll probably lose more of us like this in the weeks/months/years to come. Fear is natural and understandable. That said, being scared is only the first reaction we’re meant to have when something horrid happens; we’re not meant to stay afraid, to wallow in it. The endless flood of vitriol that consumed this week and continues now is all based in fear; the needle’s stuck for too many people, leaving them only capable of repeatedly screeching their hatred like a scratched record. ENOUGH.

It’s time to step beyond fear. Accept grief. Feel grateful for those who survived. Stand in awe of those who rushed in to help. Contemplate what’s happened, is happening and will happen. Be angry. Ponder the “if only” situations that continue roll through our minds. Be angry some more. Recognize the messy, inconvenient, glorious state of being human that we all share. Let the anger go. Remember and honor those we’ve lost and send them on their way.

We need a second line for the whole world right now. Let’s figure out how to do that together. The first step: stroll outside and back into the world. We’re all heading out into the street, whether we like each other or not, and we have to move together. Listen. Just follow the music.

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Last Night’s Show: Tommy Stinson at the Turf Club

Tommy Stinson and his stellar band take the encore costume change to a whole new level during their show at the Turf Club on Saturday, September 12, 2015.

Tommy Stinson and his stellar band take the encore costume change to a whole new level during their show at the Turf Club on Saturday, September 12, 2015. Photo credit: RealLowVibe

Here’s my shoddy video of “Come to Hide” from the show at the Turf Club. More thoughts on the St. Paul and Milwaukee shows to come…

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New Music from Deerhunter!

Here’s the new single “Snakeskin” from Deerhunter’s upcoming album Fading Frontier, out October 16th.  It’s fantastic to have you back again, gentlemen!

Head over to the official website to sign up for all the latest updates, and visit 4AD’s post to see a full list of this fall’s European tour dates and album details.

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Last Night’s Show: John Doe and Jesse Dayton at the Triple Door


The divine Mr. John Doe, backed by Cindy Wasserman and Jesse Dayton and his Hardchargers played a raucous, gorgeous set last night at the Triple Door.

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Dayton and the Hardchargers opened the night with their own set, sounding as ferociously lean as they always have. Gentlemen, get back here early and often, will you?

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Last Night’s Show: Supersuckers and Two Cow Garage at the Tractor

As one can expect at a Supersuckers show, the Tractor was full of flying fingers and horned hands, with a little extra positive energy thrown into the mix as Eddie and the boys played one last show before taking a break for Mr. Spaghetti to begin cancer treatments.   A not-so-gentle reminder: you can help he and his fantastic family RIGHT HERE. Do it, NOW. Please. Thank you!


The Supersuckers, with special guests Ed Vedder and Blind Marky Felchtone covered The Ramones’ “I Believe In Miracles” – the perfect song for such an auspicious night.  There was an actual encore, above and beyond the usual Supersuckers Rock and Roll Encore, during which Mr. Spaghetti played his cover of You Am I’s gorgeous “Heavy Heart”, before the whole band returned for a bittersweet singalong of “Killer Weed”.


The kickass Two Cow Garage returned to town to open the night and they set the mood perfectly. Here’s hoping they come back again for headlining set soon. Safe travels, gentlemen!

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Ticket Alert: Eagles of Death Metal Are Returning to Seattle

Eagles of Death Metal return to Seattle at the Showbox on September 2, 2015.

Ladies to the front, mens to the back: after an agonizing wait, the Eagles of Death Metal are finally returning to Seattle! They announced today that they’ll play the Showbox Market on Wednesday, September 2, 2015.  Tickets for this momentously sexy show go on sale this Friday, June 19th at 10 a.m. right over here.

See you there!

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