one night only.

I’ve already written once today about the fact that I might be a bit excited about seeing Dark Star Orchestra tonight.

My excitement has just been tempered a bit by a phone call from Mrs. Crappy, who has been assigned to cover a school board meeting because some clown has barricaded himself in his house in Zelienople.

I’m still going — and I hope you’ll come with me.

Yeah, it’s short notice —  as in four-hours-before-the-show short notice — but this could be your one chance to observe Uncle Crappy in his natural habitat.

Showtime is at 8, and I’d guess it’ll go around three hours or so. To kind of limit this to people I’m relatively acquainted with, DM me if you’re interested and we’ll make arrangements from there.

let the good times roll.

A whole bunch of history and culture could possibly converge tonight at the Carnegie Music Hall in Homestead, and I’m happy to say I’ll be right there in the middle of it.

grateful-dead-poster-mardi-gras-19951. Today is Fat Tuesday, the final day before the start of Lent and a day reserved for excess of all kinds — which naturally makes it one of my favorite days of the year. Although there are Mardi Gras celebrations all over the world, in this country the grandaddy of all Mardi Gras parties is in New Orleans.

2. Early on the morning of Jan. 31, 1970, New Orleans police burst through the doors of the French Quarter hotel where members of the Grateful Dead were staying during a two-show run in town. To no one’s surprise, the police found *gasp* drugs in the band’s rooms and several members of band and its staff spent a long night working out bail arrangements so they could play later that evening. The bust turned out to be a centerpiece of “Truckin’,” the GD song released on American Beauty a few months later. Several lines from the song directly reference the bust:

Sittin’ and starin’ out of the hotel window.
Got a tip they’re gonna kick the door in again …
I’d like to get some sleep before I travel,
But if you got a warrant, I guess you’re gonna come in.

Busted, down on Bourbon Street;
Set up, like a bowling pin.
Knocked down, it gets to wearin’ thin.
They just won’t let you be, oh no.

Another line — “Houston, too close to New Orleans” — references the band’s alleged vow to never return to the city again.

3. They didn’t live up to that vow, though, playing three shows at the Saenger Performing Arts Center in 1980 and 1982 and another at Keifer Arena in 1988.

And that’s where tonight comes in. I’m seeing Dark Star Orchestra at Carnegie Music Hall, and I’m betting there’s a good chance we see a re-creation of one of those New Orleans set lists. DSO is a Grateful Dead cover band with a pretty cool shtick — they usually pick a show from at some point in the GD history and re-create it on stage, all the way down to personnel and song arrangements specific to that era. That means extra fun for the audience, which tries to guess the year — or for those who are really good, the specific show — we’re listening to.

I’m betting the folks in DSO won’t miss the fact that today is Mardi Gras, and that they’ll play us one of those New Orleans set lists tonight. I could be totally wrong about this, because there are, after all, about 2,300 shows to choose from, but c’mon — you’re playing a show on Mardi Gras. How could you not laissez les bon temps roulez?

twenty five.

I’ve been tagged for this over and over and over, so it’s a little hard to ignore. I am, however, ignoring most of the rules:

Rules: Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you.

Just about everyone I know has been tagged already, so I’m skipping that part. If you haven’t yet been tagged, consider this as your big chance.

1. I saw the Grateful Dead 39 times between 1984 and 1995. Eight different states. By far the most shows at the old Richfield Coliseum south of Cleveland.

2. The best show? Could be Atlanta or Hampton ’88, could be one of a couple shows at Deer Creek, could be night one of the run at Chapel Hill. The worst? A clunker at the Palace of Auburn Hills in 1992. I should have known better than go to Detroit for spring break.

3. I wasted a lot of time mourning Garcia’s death in 1995 when I could have been seeing some kickass Phish shows.

4. My Pittsburgh friends assume I know much more about technology than I actually do.

5. I never had a craft beer epiphany — no one single moment when I realized I had been wasting my life drinking Budweiser and Old Milwaukee.

6. My favorite beer? Way too difficult. My favorite brewery? Also difficult; let’s go with East End for now.

7. I realized that writing might be the way to go for me when I researched and wrote my first-ever term paper — for a composition class during my junior year of high school — the night before it was due. I got an A minus, after being docked a few points for typos.

8. If I had to give up every single other sport I watch in favor of just one, the one I would pick would be college football. And it’s not even close.

9. I still think journalism is important. I’m not yet sure where I’ll be doing my thing in the near future, though.

10. I went through a vodka phase when I was younger. That’s over now, for the most part. I’ll have bourbon or Irish whiskey, please.

11. I am proud to carry on my father’s fondness for Manhattans.

12. I love cooking. I don’t do it enough.

13. I’m pretty good with Italian food, too, although I have absolutely no Italian in me whatsoever. I make better spaghetti and meatballs than you do.

14. Sometime during the mid-1990s, I stopped skiing. For no reason. There was still snow, and I still had skis; I just didn’t go. That changed a few years ago, when I did a story about the little tiny ski hill at Boyce Park, a county park east of Pittsburgh. I haven’t stopped since. I don’t think I could stop ever again.

15. I used to be a pretty good water skiier too, good enough that I made OU’s team the first time I tried out. I know why I stopped that, though — I got fat and it hurt my back.

16. I think Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are both abysmal as solo artists. If there was ever a musical couple who needed each other, it’s those two.

17. I recently became a homeowner. After three months, I still wonder how that happened. And I’m still thrilled that it did.

18. I’m a cat person. Always have been.

19. I hope I always have some kind of homemade jewelry hanging on my wrists.

20. I hate spiders. And I’m afraid of heights.

21. I declared myself an NFL free agent fan in 1996, after the Browns left for Baltimore. It’s possible I could do that again, if I am forced to endure another few seasons like the one that just finished.

22. If Athens, Ohio, had a newspaper worth a shit, I might still be there. I loved that town that much.

23. I love jazz in all its flavors. if you ask me to choose a genre, I’m going to pick Dixieland. Every time.

24. I don’t think I’ll ever learn to dress like a grownup.

25. I’m lucky. I married the person I was supposed to spend my life with.

live nation died.


Unless you actually want tickets. In that case, you should probably go elsewhere.


As of about 10 minutes ago, I have a new whipping boy in the concert ticketing industry.

My hatred of Ticketmaster goes back a long way, but today, they’ve been supplanted by Live Nation, the service that sells tix for shows at the P-G Pavilion.

At 9:50 this morning, I was set up in front of my computer, credit card in hand, ready for the 10 a.m. on-sale for June’s Phish show out in Burgettstown. I didn’t expect this to go smoothly; the demand would be enormous, and I didn’t know if Live Nation’s servers had the horsepower to keep up.

After getting a couple of timeout messages, I got through to the order page. I wanted just two lawn seats, and thought my chances were pretty good. They were, as it turned out; the tix were in my cart, and all I had to do was type in an address and the card number.

In theory, anyway.

Somewhere between the address and the payment page, I discover that Live Nation can’t, in fact, hang. In fact, they crashed and burned like fucking rookies. When the error messages ceased, I got a short note saying I took too long to complete my order and my tickets had been released.

Wait. I took too long? I took too long while I was waiting for your fucking servers to figure out what was going on?

The list of reasons to hate Ticketmaster is long and thorough. I will, however, give them credit for this: Ticketmaster’s shit works. If you don’t get your tickets, it’s because they’re gone, and not because their servers are so hopelessly underpowered that they can’t handle a big push.

Live Nation? Pathetic. If you can’t hang with the big boys, either fix it so you can or fucking stay out of the way.

In the meantime: Anyone have an extra pair to see Phish on 6-18? Help a brother out.

hot fun.

First: A spring tour by The Dead, with summer dates sure to follow.

Then: A new Wilco record in the spring, with an exhaustive summer tour sure to follow.

And now:


06/04 – Nikon at Jones Beach Theater – Wantagh, NY
06/05 – Nikon at Jones Beach Theater – Wantagh, NY
06/06 – Comcast Center – Mansfield, MA
06/07 – Susquehanna Bank Center – Camden, NJ
06/09 – Asheville Civic Center – Asheville, NC
06/16 – Fox Theatre – St. Louis, MO
06/18 – Post Gazette Pavilion – Burgettstown, PA
06/19 – Verizon Wireless Music Center – Noblesville, IN
06/20 – Alpine Valley – East Troy, WI
06/21 – Alpine Valley – East Troy, WI

This summer might just be all right.

a spring in my step.

When I put that shot of the Grateful Dead in the banner a few days before the end of 2008, my intention was to take it down on Jan. 1.

The boys, however, had other plans.


The remaining members of the band announced plans on New Year’s Day for a spring tour, from North Carolina to California, through April and into early May.

Collaboration among the guys — Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann — has been rare since the completion of their last tour in the summer of 2004. That was a good one, as was the tour the previous summer, and The Wife and I got to see a half-dozen or so very good shows, especially towards the end of the 2004 tour in Camden. But tensions over business stuff and Internet downloads of the original band’s material got in the way, and there weren’t many chances to see everyone — especially Bobby and Phil — on the same stage together.

The problems seemed to resolve themselves, as they usually do. The download debate brought about a new policy at the Internet Archive that almost everyone could live with; the business stuff was handed over to Rhino Records, which has been steadily putting out new stuff after a fumble and an extremely slow start.

That changed a little over a year ago, when the Dead did a show in San Francisco to both endorse and fill the coffers of the presidential campaign of Barack Obama. That show was nice, but perhaps a bit tentative. The one they played in State College last fall was better, and it seemed pretty clear at that point there was an excellent chance we might get a full-blown tour out of the deal.

I didn’t see the State College show — the ethics code of my profession says I can’t attend political functions unless I’m covering them — but the tapes sounded sharp. And from what I read, it seemed like the guys had enough fun that they thought they’d give it another try.

The spring tour looks promising. It’s all indoor venues — including Madison Square Garden, the site of some legendary shows by the original GD. And although there are no Pittsburgh, Columbus or Cleveland shows — and the Buffalo date is on a Tuesday — there are two at the old Philly Spectrum that fall on May 1 and 2, a Friday and a Saturday. That barn hosted a bunch of shows — 53, according to Wikipedia — in the old days, and it’ll be great to shake those rafters again.

I think it’s a bit ironic that it took a presidential campaign to get Bob and Phil back together; Garcia was notoriously apolitical, and I have to wonder if appearing on behaf of any candidate would have ever been an option if he were still around. But — whatever the reason, I’m happy to have them back for a few nights this spring. I’ve seen Ratdog and Phil and Friends several times in the interim, and while those are always fun, seeing the full band is much closer to being the real thing.

It’s been too long. I need it. And I’m going to get it.