America The Beautiful: Cowboys and Native Americans

I would like to start by dispelling the rumor that Los Angeles is 75 degrees at all times. This is absolutely not true. It’s a desert. Deserts get cold. Ask anyone who visits in December or January with only shorts and tank tops in their suitcases.  Future tourist, consider yourself warned.

…And I can’t really hate on the climate beyond that.

The weather here is still – for the most part – GORGEOUS. Even when the temperature drops to a whopping 40 degrees it’s usually bright and sunny without a cloud in the sky. Almost every day I hear that voice in my head that says, “it’s so nice out, you should play outside!” Then I remind myself that tomorrow is probably going to be just as nice, as will the day after that, and so forth. After being in Los Angeles almost three years you’d think the voice would die down, but something about being out here has made it grow instead.

The West has the best of every kind of terrain – ocean, mountains, desert – and from San Diego to Seattle to Salt Lake City every resident seems to know it. What California resident hasn’t hiked and/or surfed? Colorado, Utah and Montana are all known to have some of the best mountains in the world for skiing and snowboarding, not to mention Oregon’s Mt. Hood. The most famous National Parks can be found on this side of the country – Yosemite, Yellowstone, The Grand Canyon.  There are rolling hills full of vineyards in Northern California, and the richly colored painted desert in Northern Arizona.  And if you’re not convinced yet, look at this:

Who could see something like that through their window and not want to be outside?

You can catch Truth & Salvage Co. at the Hotel Café TONIGHT at 9pm. Buy tickets here.

The Ruby Suns will be at The Echo tomorrow, April 14 at 8:30pm. Buy tickets here.

And videos about two guys who want some very different things…



Kind of funny, all things considered.

America The Beautiful: Ten-Five on The Great Big Lakes

I know I declared my unparalleled love for the Northeast earlier in the week, but Chicago alone might just elevate the Midwest enough to give the East Coast a run for it’s money.  Chicago – home of my alma mater, where you can find a plethora of the most original theatre in the world.  Land of Lollapalooza and the Pitchfork Music Festival.  Wrigley Field.  Deep dish pizza.  Lake Michigan in the summer.  Sometimes I wonder why I left…OH RIGHT, THE RECORD HIGH TEMPERATURE FOR THE MONTH OF JANUARY IS 19 DEGREES. Seriously. When it hurts to breathe for weeks at a time, palm trees year round are much easier to digest.

Weather and the greatness of Chicago aside, the Midwest is still wonderful.  Ask anyone from Omaha, NE and they will bend your ear about how amazing their city is.  It was a “must-do” to trek out to Madison, WI at least once in college to experience their Halloween celebrations.  Notre Dame football was a huge part of my childhood, and my very first concert was in Cleveland, Ohio.  And who can talk about Ohio without mentioning Cedar Point?

More to the point, however, is who can mention the Midwest without recalling the multiple musical legacies that blossomed there?  Jazz, blues, hip-hop, house.  Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, Junior Wells, Etta James, Curtis Mayfield, Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco, Common.  The famous Chess Records. All found their groove in Chicago.

On the opposite end of spectrum, musical theatre loves the Midwest.  There are entire musicals dedicated to Midwestern cities (Chicago and Meet Me In St. Louis) not to mention a slew of songs: “Kansas City” (Oklahoma), “Summer in Ohio” (The Last Five Years), “Ohio” (Wonderful Town), “Iowa Stubborn” and “Gary, Indiana” (both Music Man), “Kansasland” (Curtains) and the list continues.

Yes, despite its deceptive title (it’s much more mid than west) the Midwest has a lot to offer all around.  So sit back an enjoy some sweet grooves…

America The Beautiful: Ten-Five on The Great Big Lakes by TAtunes

Mars Arizona played this past weekend at The Echo for the Grand Ole Echo Kick Off, and can be caught next in Santa Barbara TOMORROW night at the So Ho Music Hall.  Show starts at 7:30pm

In my research I also found this article about the effect of Gordon Lightfoot’s song on the families of those lost in 1975 wreck.  A touching story that shows just how important a role music can play in life.

And how could I forget some good ol’ jazz?  This time, muppet-style.

Bonus points if you can understand what I’m talking about in the title of this post.

America The Beautiful: Moonshine and Sweet Tea

While overall I would say that I have the least experience in the South, some of my absolute favorites memories have taken place below the Mason-Dixon Line.  Trips to Disney World, Epcot, Universal Islands of Adventure.  Swimming with dolphins in Key West.  Visiting my grandmother in Tampa.  Witnessing a thrilling Northwestern vs. Auburn game at the 2010 Outback Bowl.  And then there was the Great 2007 Roadtrip: A & A Take American By Storm during which my best friend and I had MULTIPLE unforgettable experiences in Tennessee alone (Memphis, Nashville, Oak Ridge, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge) – beating out every other state we drove through, in addition to surviving a couple terrifying thunderstorms.  And Cadillac Ranch.  In fact, I’m going to say that the South might be the richest route of roadtrip treasures there is.  And if you don’t believe me, just ask me about Julian’s Pizza and Karaoke.

America The Beautiful: Moonshine and Sweet Tea by TAtunes

Check out Murder by Death at the Troubadour TONIGHT.  Their new album Good Morning, Magpie just dropped on April 6.  Get tickets to the show here and buy the album here

Need more Louisiana?  Check out “Baton Rouge Ballad” by The Dirty Diamond and see him live at The Hotel Cafe on April 15 at 10pm.  Tickets here.

Lastly, for the video of the day here’s a great sequence using one of my favorite songs in a movie with a ton of equally great music.  When it comes to music in film, the Coen Brothers really do it right:

America The Beautiful: Plymouth Rock and The Big Apple

Last week I all but abandoned you for traveling the old country, so this week I’m coming back with a musical journey across our great nation of the USA.  First up of course is the Northeast – the nearest and dearest to my heart.  I was born and raised in Connecticut, same as my dad, while my mom still sometimes shows hints of her old Massachusetts twang, even more apparent when visiting any of her seven siblings, most of whom are still residing in Cape Cod. From Boston to Philadelphia to New York City, whether you’re looking for a snowy winter in Vermont, or watching the leaves change driving down the Merritt Parkway through Connecticut – the northeast doesn’t disappoint.  It boasts both the country’s only Stew Leonard’s stores, as well as the Liberty Bell and Empire State Building.  How can you beat that?

America The Beautiful: Plymouth Rock and Founding Fathers by tadpoletunes

Other Suggestions: “Chelsea Morning” Joni Mitchell

Man, “Shipping Up To Boston” – what a great use in The Departed, right?

There was one track I was really bummed I couldn’t find.  Franz Nicolay – formerly of The Hold Steady – is doing his own solo thing now and released a song on his most recent EP called “New England.”  It’s with The Dresden Dolls and is amazing.  Listen to it on his myspace page or catch him at the Bootleg Theatre on April 16.  Details here.

Lastly, because I rediscovered the absolute JOY of this movie musical during my epic flight home from Europe -and because art that go balls-out to be sappy, silly and fun for the sake of it should never be discredited – here is the video of the day to get you ready for the morning tomorrow:

Tadpole Goes International: Viva España!

I’m writing this very belated post from a hotel room in Toledo, Spain after taking two epic flights, a train, and a cab to Rome, then a train to Venice, a water taxi, bus and plane to Madrid and a car down here to Toledo.  In between all the traveling was the Roman forum, Colosseum, Vatican City, Pantheon, St. Marks Square & Cathedral, the Rialto Bridge, some gondolas, and far too much pasta and gelato.  Word of warning to any Californians: INVEST IN FIRST CLASS.  Very few people were born to be contortionists.  Your back and neck will thank you.  To be fair though, who am I to complain while in EUROPE.  I’ll keep my mouth shut.

So now I’m in Spain.  Here’s a very blurry photo off of the hotel balcony looking out at old Toledo:

Amazing, right?  And to really get you in the mood  I’ll drop some tunes on you from across the pond.  So sit back and enjoy a sampling of local flavor from Madrid to Barcelona to Valencia to Cadiz.  Viva España!

Tadpole Goes International: Viva España! by tadpoletunes

And in case you needed a dose of crazy this weekend, here’s a gem from Barcelona:

Be sure to check out band websites for if and when they might be in the US!  Dig Delorean?  They’re currently touring with Miike Snow and can be caught at the Echoplex on April 17.  Check out tour dates and more songs here.

Lastly, special thanks for this list goes to Paul Dryden at Nacional Records – guru of all Latin American and Spanish music.

Buenas Noches!

(in Spain at least)

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