Review: Sara Watkins at High Noon Saloon (Madison WI) on Saturday 4/21/12

I had the privilege of seeing and hearing singer/songwriter Sara Watkins at the High Noon Saloon in Madison WI tonight.

Her performance was all I hoped and knew it would be. She has a silky sweet voice and her three piece semi-acoustic group has tight compositions and harmonies. She pulled out the electric guitar on a couple of edgier numbers and her fiddling was pristine.

I really like her songs that have the unconventional progressions and harmonies. She did a couple of these at the show, but I would have liked more of that material. It's really progressive for folk music and she does it well. I like it when folk singer/songwriters break the rules and push the boundaries of the genre, in part because I know it annoys the crap out of the folk music snobs. But it pleases the heck out of us rock-n-rollers and invites us to listen to more of a sometimes uninviting genre of music (because of said snobs). OK, enough soap boxing.

As always, the High Noon's sound guy did a superb job of mixing the show. My friend and I took to the balcony for a better view because it was a fairly packed house. My only critique would be that Sara and her group had a few minor technical difficulties that disrupted the flow of the show. As a performer myself, I can tell you that technical difficulties are always a hit or miss thing, so I can't dock them too many points for that.

But due to a 9 PM show at the High Noon, they cut Sara off at 8 PM sharp and wouldn't let her play an encore even though she had a standing ovation from the crowd (it was a rare "seated" show at the High Noon...I guess the folkies don't like to boogie on the dance floor. Sorry, I shouldn't let my biases show so much...). Thus, the technical diffs foreshortened the show even further.

However, Sara did immediately proceed to her merch area to greet fans. We chatted briefly and I picked up her new (and not yet commercially released...it's due in stores May 8!) CD, shown above right, which she autographed, of course. It's got some tasty numbers, and I am especially fond of the songs "You're the One I Love" (with Fiona Apple) and "I'm a Memory," because they are the aforementioned unconventionally structured songs.

Please feel free to comment on anything at all.

Money vs. Value

Money does not have value on its own.

If you make money and do not provide value in exchange, you are either a thief or (worse) a charlatan.

A Feeding Tube for Weight Loss? Really?

The new fad for pre-wedding crash dieting is to use a feeding tube inserted into the stomach through the bride-to-be's nose.

This needs no sociological discussion; it's disgusting and a sign of how sick our society has become.

Such women are on the complete opposite end of the social spectrum from those I would consider as a potential life partner.

There is someone out there for everyone I guess...

The Lemon Battery

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My 7 year old niece made a 1.8 volt battery with 2 lemons. It's still rocking 18 hours later.

I wonder why it is so difficult for scientists to come up with economical and renewable alternative energy technologies.

Disappointed With Dane County Regional Airport

I was sad to see that the Dane County Regional Airport in Madison WI has sold out to corporate fear mongery and installed a body scanner machine in their security area, with the corresponding exponential increase in TSA douchebaggery that goes along with that.

It used to be such a cool and laid back airport, with friendly and cooperative TSA staff. It was warm and inviting a truly a pleasure to fly out of Madison, rather than ever douchy Milwaukee.

But no longer. It's now a colder, bleaker, fascist experience. That's sad. It is sad what the neoconservatives have done to our warm and friendly country since 9/11. It's even sadder that the American public has fallen for the fear mongery.

Those body scanners are no more effective than the old style of scanners. It's easy to verify that with a Google search, as is the fact that the manufacturer of the new body scanners lobbied the government hard to get there machines into airports.

Lastly, a study just came out that the radiation level in those scanners is of a high enough energy to cause the most common type of brain tumor, also caused by dental head x-rays that have a comparable power.

Global Warming and Tornadoes

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Climate scientists are amazed and alarmed by the record warmth in the northern hemisphere, particularly in North America, as you know if you have been following the news at all.

There's not much we can do about the exponentially warming climate at this point, thanks to the climate change deniers who have been remarkably successful at convincing everyone there is nothing to worry about.

But nature will rebound from it, with or without us. We are as expendable as any other species. Good luck.

Reason, Intuition, Vanity, and Capitalism

I am reading "Genius of the Beast" by Howard Bloom. In it, he tries to make a biological and evolutionary case for capitalism. However, as thought provoking and well-written as it is, much of it seems to be based on circumstantial evidence.

Still, it's an interesting and educational read. I checked it out of the library and I renewed it so that I could finish it in the next couple of weeks. It is a long book, but it reads easy. I have two other Howard Bloom books pending. He's an interesting guy, astrophysicist turned rock-n-roll producer turned back to science. He seems to have a good grasp of human behavior and history.

One interesting passage in "Genius of the Beast" speaks to why Homo sapiens survived the ice ages and Homo neanderthalis didn't. It boils down to innovation. But not just scientific and rational innovation, rather innovations of vanity and group identity. The line between material wants and material needs is a blurry one in modern humans. That is where he makes the connection to capitalism. Humans want to be a part of a group but also to stand out and be special. Bling is what tells people, I am part of a group but also an individual. Marketers latch onto this human trait and try to spin products as NEEDS more so than WANTS. You need this if you want to be cool - part of the group but unique as well.

Anyway, worth reading.

A Mass Media Fast

America is a society of "junkies."

Junk food, consumed by the masses o' plenty, is the most obvious example. Americans are the most overfed but under nourished people in the world.

But they also consume informational junk, fed to them by the corrupt mass media. Humans are social animals and they get their cues from other humans around them. The mass media represents these cues, not so much in how news is covered (although that is weak), but in what news is covered.

This media gatekeeping is a cue that tells people what news is important. Out of site, out of mind.

When you want to get healthy, you cut out junk food and seek out healthy food. You also consume less empty calories.

The same can be done for junk media. Don't consume it and find other sources of real and pertinent information. Don't believe the hype. You are being lied to.