TAPING | Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell

emmylouPicI’m not going to lie. I dragged myself out the door to this taping after a long week of work, mostly out of duty and respect for names I grew up hearing. I did not know it would be it one of the best shows of my life. I did not know that Emmylou would bring me to tears, that both she and Rodney Crowell are two of the finest songwriters in country music, and that they’d be backed up by the tightest honky tonk road band I’ve ever seen. “Thanks for letting us come out here and play y’all some country music. Some real country music,” she announced, with her mane of white hair and trademark smile flashing under the hot stage lights. Turns out that “real” country music is a little bit like mainlining whiskey (which may account for the soggy state of my commemorative program.) In any case, it was the kind of show you didn’t want to end — when you realize how special it is while it’s actually happening. And this is why I go to concerts. A lot of concerts. In hopes that one out of fifty is like this. Maybe you only get a few. But you can live off those moments for a long time.

Emmylou is still impossibly pretty, so let’s get that out of the way first. And she’s done something I’ve never seen a woman do before — used the aging of her voice to her own artistic advantage. She’s breathier now, wiser, more road-worn. And when she’s telling you a story — say, about Pancho  –  she gives you no choice but to believe her. Over forty years of experience have turned both Emmylou and Rodney into the great living masters of ballad delivery. They tell many stories, but it’s undeniably the best when they’re telling their own. Two back-to-back songs, about halfway through the set, were the two I can’t stop thinking about: The first was Emmylou’s “Red Dirt Girl” chronicling the hard knock life of a girl from Harris’ home state of Alabama. And the second was Crowell’s semi-autobiographical story of abuse and salvation, “Rock O My Soul”. They came as a one-two punch straight to the gut, and pretty much knocked the wind out of me. I’ve yet to recover.

But there were happier stories, too — mostly shared by Emmylou and Roger between songs. Like how lead guitarist Jedd Hughes spent his youth practicing guitar in a garage in the 50-person town of Quorn, Australia (I swear to you, people, that is the only way you get that good. I have never seen anyone shred a Telecaster like this guy does.)  And the fact that drummer Jerry Roe is a third generation ACL performer. His grandfather was Jerry Reed and his father, Dave Roe, was the bassist in Johnny Cash’s band. She dedicated “San Antonio Rose” to the much beloved Texan songwriter who penned the tune, Susanna Clark (Guy’s wife). Anyways, it felt like being introduced to this larger family or network — the artists and songwriters who make up this sort of great quilt of Americana music. And just knowing that Townes Van Zandt, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and The Band were very much a part of that quilt, too, well… it just doesn’t get much cooler than that. Friday night we heard songs by Townes, Roger Miller, Matraca Berg, Kris Kristofferson, and Gram Parsons in addition to songs by Harris and Crowell. It was, in the words of ACL producer Leslie Nichols, “a set list to end all set lists.”

And did I mention that the band kicked ass? There’s just something about a brushed drum behind smooth pedal steel… throw a smoking hot telecaster in the mix, and that’s a guaranteed good time. Which brings me back full circle to what Emmylou calls “real” country music — and to me that means traditional country instruments backing songs crafted with integrity about American life. If you haven’t had the pleasure of listening to real country music performed by seasoned musicians, then please do yourself a favor and tune in to this taping when Season 39 airs. I know I will.

Mick’s Tape | #5 Ain’t That Pretty at All

Mick's Tape | SCOUT by Jennifer Rose Smith

click to listen

Hope everyone enjoyed the long weekend! And welcome back to whatever kind of reality you’re in now. After our own short hiatus, Mick is back on the air with “Ain’t That Pretty at All”, a collection of songs that are… well, exactly that. On his fifth installment, Mick explores the depths of Ugly with tracks from The Troggs to Sabbath. Low-fi garage sounds, raw vocals, or lyrics that are just plain pissed mark each of these songs with a glorious touch of hate. Which supports a kind of a running theory I’ve had for a long time: that some of the best punk songs of all time aren’t really “punk” at all, but instead by bands like AC/DC (Problem Child? Hello?!) Anyways, really stoked for this latest collection. Particularly because it includes a track by John Cale, whom I’ve been curious about for a while. Also, because I have absolutely not been listening to enough Warren Zevon… like, ever. I’m totally captivated by the Pylon song (How was that recorded in 1980? It sounds so, so nineties to me…) and want to listen to that whole album now. Also really like track 4 by Gang of Four. And just in case you’re not completely ready to riot, Mick closes it out with a song from AC/DC’s sixth album, Highway to Hell. Which also reminds me that we still need to settle our old college dispute about whether or not the band is actually Satanic… Dude, they’re not.

 1. Trespassers in the Stereo Field // The American Analog Set // The Fun of Watching Fireworks, 1996
2. I Can’t Control Myself // The Troggs // Love is All Around, 1968
3. Shakin’ All Over // Johnny Kidd & The Pirates // Shakin’ All Over, 1971
4. Damaged Goods // Gang of Four // Entertainment!, 1979
5. Bel Air // Old 97′s // Wreck Your Life, 1995
6. Cool // Pylon // Gryate, 1980
7. Big Mouth Strikes Again // Treepeople // Something Vicious for Tomorrow, 1992
8. Unsatisfied // The Replacements // Let It Be, 1984
9. Ain’t That Pretty at All // Warren Zevon // The Envoy, 1982
10. Hazel Would // Starflyer 59 // Starflyer 59, 1994
11. Gun // John Cale // Fear, 1974
12. We’re Going Wrong // Cream // Disraeli Gears, 1967
13. Hand of Doom // Black Sabbath // Paranoid, 1970
14. Black Grease // The Black Angels // Passover, 2006
15. Cabin Fever // The Brian Jonestown Massacre // Take it From the Man, 1996
16. Hospital // Jonathan Richmond & The Modern Lovers // The Modern Lovers, 1976
17. Diamonds in the Mine // Leonard Cohen // Songs of Love and Hate, 1971
18. Night Prowler // AC/DC // Highway to Hell, 1979

*album art lovingly stolen from Raoul Hausmann

SCOUTED | Sleepy Jones

Sleepy Jones | SCOUT by Jennifer Rose SmithSleepy Jones | SCOUT by Jennifer Rose SmithSleepy Jones | SCOUT by Jennifer Rose SmithSleepy Jones | SCOUT by Jennifer Rose SmithSleepy Jones | SCOUT by Jennifer Rose SmithSleepy Jones | SCOUT by Jennifer Rose SmithSleepy Jones | SCOUT by Jennifer Rose Smith

Today I woke up to discover Andy Spade’s latest project, Sleepy Jones. This concept makes me happy. A line of sleepwear inspired by the lifestyles of artists, musicians, writers, designers — and anyone else who knows that getting dressed is sometimes a hassle that gets in the way of art/life. The images above of a quiet, private, unplugged vacation really struck a chord with me. Doesn’t it look heavenly? I’m placing my first order today!

CRITERION CHALLENGE | Summer With Monika

Summer With Monika | SCOUT by Jennifer Rose SmithSummer With Monika | SCOUT by Jennifer Rose SmithSummer With Monika | SCOUT by Jennifer Rose SmithSummer With Monika | SCOUT by Jennifer Rose SmithSummer With Monika | SCOUT by Jennifer Rose Smith*title image by la porte rouge

In a whirlwind teenage romance, Harry and Monika escape the drab duties of their blue-collar jobs in Stockholm to live without rules on an isle of the archipelago.  The two young lovers arrive on the island in Harry’s father’s boat, and the celebration that ensues is quite wonderful. If you’ve seen Wes Anderson’s latest creation (Moonrise Kindgdom) then you will certainly recognize a few moments of tribute to Summer With Monika. That’s where the similarities end, however, as our young Monika and Harry actually get to stay on their island for some time. Long enough, even, to start having the inevitable problems that happen when you decide to live on an island. (They run out of food, she gets pregnant, etc.) I don’t think it would be fair to reveal any more of the plot but let’s just say — as the title suggests — all seasons must come to an end.

The story is very engaging and the actors give superb performances. Harriett Andersson as Monika is particularly fascinating — we know, almost immediately, that she is untrustworthy. Bold, selfish, manipulative… and yet these same traits make us believe that she will survive — not only on the island but in society as well. In what I thought was the most poetic visual of the movie, Director Ingmar Bergman indulges in a lengthy shot of the headstrong, striving Monika wandering through the tall grasses of the island in search of food.

In the end the thing that struck me most about Summer With Monika is that movies like this were actually being made in 1953. This old Swedish film captures a certain intimacy, a real-life kind of sexuality between the characters that I’ve almost never seen in American movies, even today.

Without revealing too much about how things play out, I will say this: Part of me wants to judge Monika (who is, most definitely, a “bad girl”), but I’m also left admiring something about her… maybe her commitment to herself and instinct for survival. You’ll have to decide for yourself.

Miss Cherie Dior by Sofia Coppola

Miss Dior Cherie | SCOUT by Jennifer Rose Smith


Miss Dior Cherie, by Sofia Coppola

Sigh… don’t you just adore Sophia? She really has a distinctly feminine point of view with everything she creates, even silly perfume ads. It’s fun to see the world through her eyes. She directed this commercial for the fragrance Miss Dior back in 2008. I love the playful song  “Moi Je Joue” sung by Bridget Bardot. Tres chic!

 

THE POP FACES | A project from Yee Wong and Joshua Scott

Pop Faces | Yee Wong and Joshua ScottPop Faces | Yee Wong and Joshua ScottPop Faces | Yee Wong and Joshua ScottPop Faces | Yee Wong and Joshua ScottThese photos are from a series called “The Pop Faces” created by Yee Wong and photographed by Joshua Scott. I’ve always liked the theme of pop culture in fine art and these are really cool. They make me think of both the disposable quality and the power of celebrity in our culture. Even rumpled on the floor, the subjects are instantly recognizable. I like the accompanying video (below), but love the still photos. Those would look great framed and leaned against the wall in my bedroom!

CRITERION CHALLENGE | Charade, 1963

Criterion Challenge | CharadeCriterion Challenge | CharadeCriterion Challenge | CharadeCriterion Challenge | Charade

Criterion Challenge | Charade

If you grew up in the eighties or nineties, you may not have seen Charade. But you’ll be sure to recognize Audrey Hepburn’s famous line, “Oh, I love you, Adam… Alex… Peter… Brian… whatever your name is,” from the film’s brief cameo in Pretty Woman (1990). I really can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this movie. The phrase “crowd-pleaser” definitely comes to mind. It’s a comedy, a romance, a thriller — but most of all it’s a high-stakes caper that will keep you on the edge of your seat! With an ingenious plot and quippy dialogue, Charade has sometimes been referred to as “the best Hitchcock film that Hitchcock never made.” All that, and the story was filmed in lurid technicolor on location in Paris, with a Givenchy-clad Audrey Hepburn as it’s star. What more do you want, people?

Also of note — the trippy intro credits designed by Maurice Bender are definitely worth a rewind. The chemistry between Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn is real good stuff. And for his dynamic and funny performance as Hamilton Bartholomew, I now have one more reason to love Walter Matthau.

If you’re currently in a rut with dark, moody indies or melodramatic tv shows, I prescribe to you one giant box of buttered popcorn and this movie. It will remind you why we like to watch movies in the first place: To be dazzled. To be entertained. And there’s no doubt about it — they’re not making ‘em like this anymore.

Mick’s Tape | #4 Over And Done With: Songs from Movies

Mick's Tape Vol. 4: Over And Done Withclick to listen

Sooner or later, we all end up in the soundtrack aisle. And if you’re like me, then you’re not ashamed to hang out for a while. One of the first cds I ever bought for myself was the soundtrack to Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction”. I’ve still got it, and it still rocks. Especially in the 90s, it seemed like soundtracks were just mixed tapes made by the coolest people on earth — not to mention a gateway drug to new bands. So I’m really digging this fourth installment from Mick, “Over And Done With”, featuring songs he discovered via film. Some of these movies Mick and I watched together long ago (still laughing over the Clay Pigeons reference) and some of them I’ve never even heard of. This mix is doubly cool, because now I have new bands to explore as well as new movies to watch. Beginners and Submarine are moving to the top of my Netflix queue. Thanks, Mick, and see you at the record store. (Or the video store.)

Readers, what are some of your favorite soundtracks?

1. What Aren’t We Going To Do? // Matthew Broderick // Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, 1986
2. Big Fran’s Baby // Lennie Niehaus // A Perfect World, 1993
3. Hearts of Stone // Otis Williams and The Charms // Goodfellas, 1990
4. Nothing To Be Done // The Pastels // The Acid House, 1998
5. Beginners (theme suite) // Brian Reitzell // Beginners, 2011
6. Stuck On The Puzzle // Alex Turner // Submarine, 2011
7. Over And Done With // The Proclaimers // Bottle Rocket, 1996
8. Hundred Mile High City // Ocean Colour Scene // Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, 1998
9. He’s A Righteous Dude // Edie McClurg // Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, 1986
10. Fallin’ & Flyin’ // Jeff Bridges // Crazy Heart, 2009
11. Danke Shoen // Wayne Newton // Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, 1986
12. Mirror In The Bathroom // The English Beat // Grosse Point Blank, 1997
13. Good Bye Horses // Q Lazzarus // Silence of the Lambs, 1991
14. The Killing Moon // Echo and the Bunnymen // Donnie Darko, 2001
15. Korea // Steve Buscemi and Bronson Dudley // Trees Lounge, 1996
16. Trees Lounge // Hayden // Trees Lounge, 1996
17. De Um Role // Novos Baianos // Mada Bala (Send a Bullet), 2007
18. Alone Again Or // Love // Bottle Rocket, 1996
19. Sea of Heartbreak // Don Gibson // Clay Pigeons, 1998
20. The Love You Save (May Be Your Own) // Joe Tex // Jesus’ Son, 1999
21. Bright As Yellow // The Innocence Mission // Empire Records, 1995
22. Ladies and Gentlemen we are Floating in Space // Spiritualized // Vanilla Sky, 2001
23. Here On My Own // U.N.P.O.C. // Hallum Foe, 2007
24. Perfect Day // Lou Reed // Trainspotting, 1996
25. Jisas yu holem hand blong mi // Melanesian Choirs // The Thin Red Line, 1998

Even Cupid goes to Rainey | Valentine’s Day shopping at Javelina

Javelina Bar | SCOUT by Jennifer Rose Smith

My old friend Craig hosted a fun event at his bar on Rainey Street the other night — a one stop shop for Valentine’s Day shopping! Rainey Street just has a really good vibe, especially when the weather’s just right, and Javelina Bar is one of the coziest little spots on the street. There were several really cool local vendors at the event, but I’ll be highlighting three of my favorites here:

Javelina Bar | SCOUT by Jennifer Rose Smith
Pretty bouquets created by Roseship Flora…

Javelina Bar | SCOUT by Jennifer Rose Smith

And super cool organic-inspired pieces from jewelry maker, Catherine Nicole. I’m in love with those cuffs!

Javelina Bar | SCOUT by Jennifer Rose Smith

Handcrafted artisan chocolate from Arte Y Chocolate

Javelina Bar | SCOUT by Jennifer Rose Smith

She actually prints designs on the chocolate itself!

Javelina Bar | SCOUT by Jennifer Rose SmithAll of these vendors are based in Austin, so if you haven’t done your Valentine’s Day shopping yet you should think about spending locally. Of course you could always just take your sweetheart out for burger and beer at Javelina! Sounds pretty good to me. Happy Valentine’s day, y’all.
Javelina Bar | SCOUT by Jennifer Rose Smith