Friday, December 19, 2008

First Facebook Reunites My Childhood Neighborhood

Then, Jason Lytle's dad is on YouTube. Life just got weird(er).

JeromeLytle, look him up.

ps- Jason Lytle is/was of Grandaddy. Fare thee well.

Monday, November 17, 2008

James and Bill, we salute you!

Hey! You should go to O'Tasty shows! Why not buy an album while you're there? Why does MFA want you to do so much for this other band?

James O'Brien, helmsman of the good ship O'Tasty granted us access to his house in Hyattsville, MD to use for recording purposes. He has since vacated to be nearer to his excellent RedRocks Firebrick Pizzeria in Columbia Heights, WDC, but has yet to put the house on the market.

I'll report on the recording later, but we give many thanks to James for his generosity.

We also thank Bill Thompson for use of his recording rig and several mics. Thank you!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I Watched This On Purpose: Rock of Love 2

At first, needing mindless entertainment, we went for the most vacuous thing we could find. It was unbearable.

Somehow this show has to do with music, since it is on Vh1, right? No. There were bands involved, but mostly this show involved buxom ladies propensity to drink and get into arguments, not necessarily in that order. This is what I have been missing by not watching TV for the past, uh, 8 years?

btw: we are recording this weekend! We'll see how it comes out, as team MFA will be venturing into "we did this all ourselves" territory!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Phillies Win!

I grew up outside of Boston, and my long years of suffering with the Sox, coupled with the vicarious elation of 2004's curse-shattering championship run, have well prepared me for this day.

The Philadelphia Phillies are World Series Champions!

I can't say this too loudly, as we have Mets and Nats fans in our ranks (not naming names) and they will tell you all about my "I think I am still a Red Sox fan" revelation after having attended my first game at Fenway in 15 years back in May.

But, as I settled into my role as a Phillies fan in 2005, and what I expected to be a long, turbulent ride moving into a long-suffering NL city, I carried my superstitions with me as closely guarded secrets. About the time Tim McCarver started talking about Philadelphia sports history last night, I feared him jinxing us; much the same as the soon-to-be former marine standing next to me in Fenway while Jon Lester wrapped up that no hitter I witnessed back in May, as the words "I've never seen a... oh, wait" formed at my lips.

Last night, my nephews had gone from a halloween parade to watching the game– the effects of the sugar had clearly taken hold. Taking cues from my brother-in-law, my wife and myself, they were easily whipped into a frenzy, yet unaware of the jinx. Much like a generation of young Red Sox fans who expectantly experience the thrill of victory these days, without being tempered by a spirit-sucking, excruciatingly painful drought, I look forward to them growing up having this privilege. There are plenty of folks around these parts that will be quick to remind them that it was a long, hard road to get here!

(cue Rocky horns here)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


"Everybody Let Up" by Apples in Stereo

This track once stood out on many miscreant mixes I would make to aid and abet misadventures with my friends. It's mix of confectionary pop and kiddie-lethargic declaration ("everybody's whinin'/cause I spend the day reclinin'") made for great sunrise drive home listening.

I ended up putting it on a 3 CD mix made for my dad when he was in the hospital. Dad shocked me with his discovery of Belle & Sebastian, so I thought I would take him the next step: indie rock. Why not? The man liked the early Beatles more than the later period, and was known to have a few early Beach Boys records in his ever dwindling collection (though a yard sale revealed not one by two copies of The Beatles' Revolver! ha), and had an affinity for just about any music that could justify its' purpose or had some sort of internal logic.

I don't need to reiterate my fathers' fate, but the song is tagged forever in the "could've been" mix. I thought of him recovering and hearing that song, and it either annoying him with it's inherent brattiness, or making him laugh at the situation of being attended to by winsome nurses and a family at beckon call. "Care of Cell 44" by The Zombies also fits into this category of songs that have nothing to do with death, yet remind me of 2 years ago. Written about a girl getting released from jail, it's lines "Good morning to you I hope your feeling better baby" and "we'll get to know each other for a second time" fit exactly where I knew my parents' otherwise great relationship was heading: loss.

Would I take it back? No. Perhaps someday with age the death-induced associations will fade and my memory will fail and I will create backstories that make more sense out of these songs' reminding me of dad, but for now, 2 years on, this will have to do...

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Tonight: The M Room

At practice last night something occurred to me: the people want the rock. We have a few slow numbers that own up to my best AM radio tendencies, but that when playing a small club, you have to trim the fat. Otherwise, people will duck out to get beers, which in turn is not a bad thing since there is a correlation between how good we sound and the number of drinks you've had.

So here you go: tonight's show at the M Room will be our most concise power pop set to date. If you heard Campfire Hymn on the radio, you'll have to wait for the next show to get your slow jam on (or, as "spacey country shuffle" as the case may be)

See you tonight at 9!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I Can Hear Music

Our good friends Terrence and Alicia married this past weekend in sunny Hatteras, NC. I say sunny, but it wasn't without an ordeal to get there. Initially they had planned for a Friday wedding, leaving Saturday for a relaxing beach barbecue, but with the nor'easter that surprise attacked the coast over the weekend, plans were shifted and they married Saturday. Our arrival was welcomed at 2am with ocean overwash on Highway 12! I guess that is what you get building a road on a thin strand of land between two large body of water! Regardless, congratulations! You make a wonderful couple, and were gracious hosts...

I DJ'd the reception, and in return, Terrence gifted me with a lot of latter-day Beach Boys CDs. It is no secret the ferocity of the love that Terrence has for the Beach Boys. So here I am back at home digesting about 12 albums worth of music. I am having to take breaks to retreat back to more familiar territory (Pet Sounds, Smile, Today!/Summer Days) but what is most striking is how the balance shifted from the mainstay (Brian Wilson) to the new guy (Carl Wilson) and little is lost. There are some questionable tracks, but before Pet Sounds, throwaway tracks were a mainstay of Beach Boys albums.

One cannot help but feel a sadness for what was lost within that group. Musically, individually... spun into franchises that are related by blood and little else.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Show this Wednesday!!

Wednesday, October 1st 9PM
M Room
15 W. Girard Ave (near Frankford) Philadelphia

w/ Victor Victor Band and Ganto Barn

The bill has been shifting more than sand on a coastal highway in a tropical depression (sorry Terrence and Alicia!) but we are excited to play our first show at the M Room!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

My Samples Guide to Boulder

There is no mistaking that at one point in my life, I was a huuuge Samples fan. While others were cutting their teeth on Built To Spill, Will Oldham, Modest Mouse, and the nascent seeds of Indie Rock(TM), I was visualizing world peace through appropriation of world beat and Sting, repeat ad nauseam. It was all in the drums!

So here we go:
(note, 14th and Euclid street sign to come)

Tulagi's, site of some recordings for "Underwater People"

The Fox Theatre, home of several of my brothers' live tapes

The approach to Red Rocks (note the big fat rain smudge on the lens. This is the only rain we met the entire trip, coast to coast)

Red Rocks Amphitheater, since appropriated by Dave Matthews Band. The Samples headlined here several times in the early 90's. Not to mention two tracks from Under A Blood Red Sky.

Old Samples poster in the nice museum within the visitors center.

Patrick and one of said red rocks.

Your band flier here.

Jim at Hooked on Colfax, a few doors down from both the Ogden Theater, and the Bluebird Theater, site of the last show by the Samples original lineup. It was great to just play on the same block as the location of several of my previous heroes live tapes. Even if it was in a coffeeshop basement!

There are far worse places to be than Denver in the summer time!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

It just dawned on me that we made California and did not visit In N Out Burger. How is that remotely possible? I blame the wafting mix of pine and eucalyptus that enveloped me while procuring tickets for and attending Radiohead in Golden Gate Park. I am a firm believer in local treasures (hence my Cherry Mash experience), and acted as porter in seeing an unspecified quantity of Boulevard Wheat from Lawrence, KS to Denver, CO. Had we been driving the other way, we would have surely ended up with Fat Tire east of the Mississippi. In N Out is more of a regional thing, but you can't get them back east.

Camp MFA has returned back to school for the season, and by school I mean life. And by life, I mean marriage. This weekend we celebrate the union of our guitarist Chris Kudela to his longtime girlfriend Megan Mitchell. Congratulations guys! We're taking a little time off while Chris and Megan sort through photographs, cards and write their thank you notes.

We'll be back in action Wednesday, October 1 at the M Room in Philadelphia. We're super-excited to be playing this venue for the first time. Matt promises he will have his amp checked out by then!

Hope you all had a wonderful Labor Day, and hope we weren't the ones keeping you up playing softly, albeit incorrect, covers on the front porch til the wee hours!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

"The One That Got Away" live in Denver

What you can't see:
- a very large table near the back of the room that I would have rather sat around, family style.

- very large, plush sofas lining the walls
- the barista upstairs who claimed we "saved the night"
- delicious, dry air devoid of any humidity pouring down from the Rockies

Friday, August 29, 2008

San Francisco, terminus

I find myself rhapsodizing way too much about this trip to report objectively. Blogging about it after the fact creates a challenge, being afforded the chance to be both factual and eloquent. I will stick to the narrow path and leave out the parts about waking up Friday in Palo Alto surrounded by musical artifacts of classic San Francisco psychedelia, and getting a blister on my right foot from the Jeep's heater Thursday night (small price to pay for no speeding tickets and getting Patrick to San Fran safely!)

Patrick on the dark end of the street


Matt contemplating similar unification, days in the making!


We had a full day to go until our show, so what a better way to go than attending the Outside Lands festival! Teaming up with Jen and two of her friends, the six of us tackled major taxi and public transportation delays to attend.

Jen and Patrick, into the throng of humanity.

A major challenge of touring must be not blowing your take on other touring attractions/bands. This is the only picture that could come close to capturing my experience of seeing Radiohead in Golden Gate Park.

It was sublime. The lights, the sound (minus the second PA failure, the first one gave a great contrast!), the songs, the total audience freak out, the dad and two sons in front of us, the late teens next to us (one who proclaimed "this is better than a f'n rave!"), dear friends close, and others wandering the festival to be seen at some later point. (cell service was critically deficient)

This was taken through the front window of a furniture store, toward the El Alhambra Theater, home to gym currently. We joked about them "praying toward South Beach" as this is the only gym I have ever seen with minarets!

The show at the Parkside was ragged and great. We had witnessed Radiohead screw up and keep their game faces on, which inspired us to do the same. Here is Patrick with his!

Thee Parkside sits in Portrero Hill, east of downtown, and seems to have been through some gentrifying as of late, though the neighborhood has retained much of it's charm.

The array of friends and family in attendance was humbling. Nothing quite like seeing friendly faces after a week of space travel.

Pearl Bauer is a dear friend of Anne's, so therefore has become a good friend of mine. She and her husband Chris completely feed into our vagabond/wanderer tendencies (or as Anne is keen to point out, MINE). They operate on a life list that they constantly work toward checking experiences off their list. Years ago Pearl was to play tambourine in a band in New York, but it never worked out. Upon booking this show, I knew it was imperative to help her realize this dream. Chris had just checked skydiving from his list, so we invited Pearl up on stage to play the last song of our set (and tour) with us. Many thanks to Bartender Mary and Boom for being so accommodating, when in San Francisco, please visit Thee Parkside! Punk rock bathroom in full effect!!!

Laura in Russian Hill

Jen, at whose place we crashed (thank you!)

Patrick, Ms. Pac-Man (aka decompression tank for the road-weary)

Beginning this trip in an airline terminal just steps from where my sister and her family were embarking on their trip home; after a week of being with people near and dear, it was a little lonely watching fog eat San Francisco alive from SFO.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Genius + Love = Cherry Mash

If you have come here to read about music, sorry. Today we will discuss road food. And not just road food, but localized confectionary genius. We stopped off at a gas station in rural western Kansas (one of the few places we were 100% comfortable leaving the Jeep unattended!) and my life changed forever.

I introduce you to the Cherry Mash.

This candy comes out of Missouri, the Show Me State, a sobriquet I hardly understand. All puns resisted, I removed the wrapper to discover a weighty chocolate nugget.

What no cherries? Huh?

One bite reveals a gummy sort of whipped nougat-like center, flavored in Missouri's best atomic cherry flavoring. Coupled with the complexity of the chopped roasted peanuts in the chocolate, this must be the face that launched a thousand diabetic ships.

The label reveals you can chop up Cherry Mash and put it in a milkshake! You can also put it in cookies! Just do not taunt Cherry Mash.

Kansas persisted to stretch out even farther toward the horizon than we thought possible as trains made haste alongside grain filling stations and the fields whence it came, and we were suckered by Prairie Dog Town. For the sake of being kosher, I will not post photos of mutant cows alongside the hallowed Cherry Mash.

Dig me some sunflowers though!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

On America

Here are some random shots taken throughout the trip.
First off, state signs!

In place of North Carolina, please accept this photo of Monument Valley, inside of Charlotte, NC's famous The Penguin. Not pictured: fried pickles.

In place of Tennessee, accept this photo taken just outside of Knoxville.

In place of Missouri, here's a photo approaching St. Louis.

In place of Kansas, we offer our new, non-offensive name to call people... K Tag (ie, "you are such a..." or "don't be such a...")

In place of California, here is the very next sign AFTER the "welcome to" sign.

Tennessee and California were near impossible to get, careening over mountain passes with little or no shoulder well into the night. Missouri's was lost in St. Louis. Kansas was sheer lethargy of ye olde camera hand. Sorry again, Patrick!

Stay creative, Colorado!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

On Traveling Through The Mountain West

Took this picture of myself early, early Thursday morning as we loaded up and headed over the front range of the Rockies, leaving Denver behind in civil twilight. I was a little freaked out by the prospect of having 18 hours ahead of me in the Jeep. Not that it hadn't been a great trip so far: a lot of ground still to cover, a lot of different kinds of air to breathe, all on an average of 6 hours of sleep per night. I love fresh air, but 3 days without a top on the Jeep was starting to test me!

Gearing up in gloves and hats for a cold pre-dawn through the Rockies, we started the Radiohead marathon as interstate 70 started to twist and convulse through canyons and mountain passes. Oh, and I got a tasty breakfast burrito and a cup of coffee at Daz Bogs in Silverthorne.

Having been broken down on the side of the road in 1995 nearby, I was somewhat familiar with the area as the last good place for a breakfast stop, so we pulled off just as the sunlight crested the hills. From that point on I knew it was all manifest destiny from there.

The mountains fell apart into sandhills with mutinous boulders, then canyons started appearing as we crossed over into Utah. The sun was kicking it up a notch too, so we were able to jettison our outer layers (much like backpacking!) and made it a practice to fill up on gas every half tank. Distances start to stretch in this country. Mountain ranges bend and wind their ways around gigantic valleys made for Dinosaur commutes. Long gone as they are, along with vegetation, left behind are skeletal remains and oil exploration. The farther we drove into Utah, the denser the air became. As we exited I-70 for Highway 50, it was clear that most of the fresh air we had experienced would be replaced with an arid imitation!

Dust storms kicked up in the distance, we outran them. Trucks kicked up dust clouds in the road, we drove through them. All that dust has to go somewhere! Welcome to Nevada. Rugged, rural beauty. The sun wanted to eat us alive. Meanwhile, my guitars slept packed away, blissfully unawares in the back. Sun, heat, cold: these things are not your guitar's friend! We took every chance we had (roughly every 100 miles) to get out, gas up, reapply sunblock, administer eye drops, and buy water. Note: make sure you eye drop in the shade and NOT looking into the sun!
Range after mountain range; vista after sweeping vista, the sun finally began to disappear into the western horizon. We were left with red earth behind us, and blinding white hot sun ahead. With less fanfare than expected of a desert sunset, twilight had begun.

A coyote scampered across the road oblivious to the speeding hot metallic death that was the Jeep (Patrick swerved deftly to avoid it) and finally day gave up it's grasp of the sky, revealing an infinite canopy of stars that featured the purple-blue ink of the Milky Way. This had me wishing for a blackout once we made Reno.

I was exhausted, and Patrick was willing to stop, though disappointed of only making it a 15 hour day. After a brief discussion, it dawned on me that he had further responsibilities in San Francisco than had been communicated to me. Still willing to stop, I ventured that we should persevere. Wow, this all sounds so civil, but in reality, you have two road-weary/grizzled men with the will to drive themselves sleepless, and the entire contents of central Nevada's famous baked oxygen bottled inside our lungs as perverted laughing gas going straight to our brains. Throw in a disagreement, and you've got volatility. Once our exhausted grievances were out there, there was no pulling them back. Rather, these became fuel (with the assistance of two disgusting Monster Energy Drinks!) for the remainder of the trip. Onward! Outward! Westward! Blistering! (the heater in the Jeep would prove caustic to my right ankle!)

Truckee, CA will never look the same to me!