Sunday from the Porch: Indoors on Monday Editon

20140621_132912Ok, I missed yesterday’s Sunday from the Porch post, mainly because I was actually painting and staining my porch. Wet paint in my summertime contemplative blogging place doesn’t work so well.

So, today’s Sunday from the Porch post is on Monday.  It’s storming like a mother out there right now, so I am inside, sitting on my couch.

The previous Sunday, I did not post a Porch post because I was in Ohio for my grandfather’s funeral. It was not good times. I considered writing a post from my grandparent’s back porch, but I didn’t really have a solitary moment when there is a houseful of grieving family members commemorating the passing of their patriarch.

On Saturday of that weekend, we needed a break from sitting around the house waiting for a funeral to happen. My dad, my uncle and both of my brothers and I went to Kelley’s Vinyl in downtown Ashland, Ohio, to browse Jack Kelley’s 30,000+ vinyl records for sale.

We spent about two hours and a collective $200 on vinyl. It was a cathartic experience for me. Jack’s place is sprawling with many rooms filled with a ridiculous amount of quality vinyl. There were times when we were all in the same room looking at albums and bantering back and forth about the rare finds and hilarious album artwork, and other times when we all drifted to different rooms for some solitary shopping.

It was a fun experience because I have never felt more in tune with the men of my family than in that moment. Aside from the absence of my cousin Chris, my uncle’s son, this was the gathering of the remaining Shenberger men of the family all doing something together.

Personally, I bought three albums and three CD’s. On vinyl, I picked up a Paul Simon greatest hits album, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s “So Far.” and The Police “Syncronicity.” On CD, I bought Fiona Apple’s first album, Green Day’s “Insomniac,” and Hum “You’d Prefer an Astronaut.”

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My brother, Jake, bought 29 albums on vinyl. Pretty good haul.

I think the best part of the experience was listening to my dad and uncle banter back and forth about the albums they used to own as young men, songs they used to listen to, which lead to memories about concerts and live performances they saw. It was hearing the oral history of my dad and uncle’s relationship through the music they shared; a very real moment in a weekend of the surreal.

Check out Kelley’s Vinyl Record Store in Ashland, Ohio, on Facebook. Free plug, but if you are looking for something specific, Jack can probably find it for you.

Here’s a track from one of my purchases, King of Pain by the Police:

– John

Season 1, Episode 4: Kanye West – The College Dropout 10 year Retrospective

Looking back on Kanye West’s first album we truly realize how white we are.  Also, “Two Words” is an amazing song.

Five for Friday aka Roller Rink Jams

When I was younger I remember my parents taking me and my sister to roller rink for fun and frivolity.  We would get there and put on our roller blades (yeah…..roller blades.  It was the 90’s) and take to the rink.  I remember taking to the rink and after about 15 minutes I would be bored.  It’s like Nascar: You skate in circles attempting to either block your friends which causes a crash, or not bump in to people which ends up causing a crash with other people.  They would also do the couples only/slow skate song with the disco ball lit up in the center of the rink.  I was the chubby kid who was there with his sister and her friends.  So around that time I would run to the arcade and play the Robocop game, or Pinball, or eat nachos with the weird Blob-like alien cheese on top.

The one thing I did love about the roller rink was always the music.  You could request songs (which if they weren’t popular wouldn’t get played).  The DJ at our rink would only talk for announcements, allowing for more music/less interruption. This was the early to mid Nineties so 80’s era rap, grunge, early pop stuff would be played.  But mixed in were these great Break, Rap, Dance, Electro, early house/techno songs that were so infectious I would find myself humming them for the longest time.  Being from Miami I thought it was just the culture and vibrant sound of our city carving it’s way in to a fairly mundane activity of making 4 left turns.  It wasn’t until I moved to Illinois and met Brad aka Boo that I found out that some of these songs must have been nationwide.  I don’t know why it didn’t hit me before, but if a chubby kid in Miami was skating to it then why not someone in Illinois, or Delaware, or Oregon.  I went back and found some of those songs that I loved from back then.  So for this Five for Fridat, I present roller rink jams from my youth. I may just break out a piece of cardboard and attempt to break dance, poorly, in my drive way tonight to these.

Nice & Wild-Diamond Girl

Freestyle-Don’t stop the rock

Debbie Deb- When I hear music

Newcleus-Jam on it

Afrika Bambaataa-Planet Rock

BONUS SONG (cause it’s my post and I can do what I want)

JJ Fad- Supersonic

-Robert

Five for Friday aka Dancing in public

My wife asked me to go grocery shopping this morning after dropping our son off at school.  I love grocery shopping by myself.  I hate putting the stuff away, but going and getting it is no problem.  I enjoy it so much mainly because I take headphones and either listen to music on my phone or iPod.  Yeah, I listen while at work or in the shower, but this is just me walking around in a daze just really getting in to an album.  So, 9:02 am, the grocery store just opened.  I’m deciding which cereal to get myself when Chance the Rapper’s “Favorite Song” comes on my iPod. For a moment I forgot where I was and just kinda turned up on my own in the cereal aisle.  I started dropping elbows before I realized the woman looking at pop tarts was giving me a stink eye.  Whatever, she doesn’t get it.

There’s something both freeing and terrifying about dancing in public.  Most people hate the idea cause they’re embarrassed of the social ramifications of dancing in front of strangers and animated breakfast icons alike.  Me? I enjoy it.  Yeah, it’s a tad bit embarrassing when people stare at you thinking “Why on earth would anyone just start dancing?” Sometimes you can’t hold it back.  It’s freeing if you’re able to release yourself from chains of embarrassment and just enjoy yourself.  Why hide it in private? Like art, it should be shared with the world.  You may inspire others to join in.  But that would be even more awkward since only you can hear the music in your headphones.

In honor of dancing in public I present five songs that I can’t help but get down to.  May they make you go out in to the world and embarrass yourself and others.

Jackson 5- I want you back

 

Salt n Pepa- Push it

 

The Temptations- Ain’t to proud to beg

 

Justin Timberlake-Like I love you (I don’t care if I catch heat for this one, it makes me want to shake my ass)

 

TNGHT-Higher Ground

 

Post in the comments below what songs make you want to dance like a fool no matter where you are.

 

Sunday from the Porch: Remembering Casey Kasem

Tonight, its a balmy 80 degrees in Chicagoland. This week, I am sitting on my front porch in my rocking chair, doing my best impression of “Old Man John,” sipping a cool iced green tea.
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Today, longtime American Top 40 founder and host, Casey Kasem passed away after a long fight with Parkinson’s disease and dementia.

Recently, there has been a lot of quarreling among his children and their stepmother, Jean, about Casey’s last days. There have been fights over his care, allegations that he was “missing” and many other unfortunate family squabbles that seem to be newsworthy to TMZ.

I grew up listening to American Top 40, particularly in Kasem’s second era in the mid to late 1990s. Kasem founded the American Top 40 in 1970, stepped away for a decade, then returned in the late 90’s until his retirement from radio in 2009.

Each week, I listened to the Top 40, waiting for the little bits of information Kasem would share about the band or artist, or a little history behind the song. This is in the pre-Wikipedia days, so often times, this is where I learned about the artists behind my favorite songs.

The oddest story I remember hearing Kasem relay was when Meat Puppets “Backwater” was on the charts and he explained that Meat Puppets liked to drop acid in the studio when they were writing and recording albums. Nothing is more odd than an aging Kasem talking about dropping acid in his perfect radio voice.

Every Saturday, I waited for the Top 40 to come on. When I had a particularly boring weekend planned, I would listen to the entire show. I also remember this was prime time to have a fresh cassette tape ready to capture my favorite songs on a mixtape because I listened enough I roughly knew what chart position the latest hit would appear.

Rick Dees had nothing on Casey Kasem.

Over the course of the past two years, I have become a fan of the music of Mark Kozelek, singer and writer for Red House Painters and more recently, Sun Kil Moon. He has such a fresh, relatable approach to songwriting. I happened on to Red House Painters while listening to a curated mix on streaming service Songza called “Have You Forgotten.” The lyrics just got to me immediately in a very lush story told by Kozelek.

Here is the verse that connected to me immediately:

When we were kids we hated things our parents did
We listened low to Casey Kasem’s radio show
That’s when friends were nice
To think of them just made you feel nice
The smell of grass in spring
And October leaves cover everything

Have you forgotten how to love yourself?

That verse instantly took me back to those Saturday mornings living in Glasgow, Kentucky, playing in the garage, with my radio sitting in the old restaurant booth my parents bought when an old Hardee’s was remodeled. The radio would play as I rode my bike in the garage and driveway, waiting for Richard or Wes to give me a call and make plans to hang out. I remember what that felt like so vividly, but I hadn’t thought about that in so long.

We grow up, we forget. Have we forgotten how to love ourselves?

It’s sad when a part of your youth dies. Mark Kozelek’s words are a connection to that time in my life.

This one’s for you, Casey. Rest in peace.

-John

New Podcast: Death Cab for Cutie

Hi invisible internet friends! We’ve posted our bi-weekly podcast for your listening pleasure, as we attempt to tackle John’s favorite band: Death Cab for Cutie.

Due to circumstances both in and out of our control, this week’s episode sounds a bit like an old-timey AM radio show. How fun!

Also, in case you forgot, this week since Robert’s tripping the light fantastic at Bonnaroo, we have our resident blogger and guest podcaster Tom filling in to share his insights (and notebook) on this week’s artist.

Love and podcasts,

Chris

Five for Friday AKA “The Six Year Old’s Edition”

Hey everyone! Robert is at Bonnaroo this weekend so I am filling in for his Five for Friday post. Yeah, I know it will only be Friday for 56 more minutes in the Central time zone, and it’s already Saturday on the East Coast. Well, I don’t really care.

elliott birthdayMy son Elliott turns six tomorrow (or today, if you are on the East Coast.) I am currently in the middle of building an IKEA loft bed for him as a surprise when he wakes up in the morning.

I am SOOO winging it right now.

ANYHOW… in honor of my son’s sixth birthday, here are his top 5 favorite songs:

 

Death Cab for Cutie – You Are a Tourist

Ed Sheeran – Lego House. What 6 year old doesn’t love Legos?

Matt and Kim – Let’s Go

Tegan and Sara – Closer

Benjamin Gibbard – Teardrop Windows

Happy Birthday Elliott.

-John

Sunday from the Porch: Coming Soon to a Podcast Near You

It’s Sunday night in Chicagoland and it’s about 66 degrees outside. I’m sitting on my deck with about five citronella candles burning to keep the bugs away, drinking a Two Brothers Prairie Path Golden Ale. I’m listening to the copper water fountain on my deck and the waterfall of my neighbor’s koi pond.

All in all, its a great night.

Next week, Robert will be away in his natural habitat at Bonnaroo, consuming and enjoying a copious amount of live music. Chris and I are still planning to record and release a podcast in his absence, and we have asked our friend Tom to stand in for Robert. Tom should become familiar to our readers soon, as he has been asked to be a contributor to the blog side of things as the fancy strikes.

Next week, we will discuss a band that is near and dear to my heart – Death Cab for Cutie. I first became a Death Cab fan in 2001 shortly after The Photo Album came out. Ben Gibbard’s vocals and lyrics were already fully-baked versions of the type of music I was trying to write in endless notebooks during college. Instantly, I became a fan because I was able to relate to the music Ben and crew were writing.

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As their career progressed, they grew as individuals and as a band. I’ve been lucky that I seem to be following the same trajectory in my growth. As each album matures, it still hits home for me where I am in my life at the moment, which in turn makes their previous albums touch points to the other people I’ve been over the past 13 years.

I know we wing it every week that we record The Static Podcast. I love the off-the-cuff delivery and the chemistry between the three of us as we record because it exactly matches the way we talk to each other as friends. But we really do put effort into each podcast behind the scenes. Once we pick an artist, we each spend inordinate amount of time listening to the artist or band’s albums. We spend hours reading reviews of the album, getting a pulse of how others have received it and compare it to our own impressions. Robert even writes facts on Post-It notes.

I am finding myself having a hard time knowing how to prepare for a podcast about my favorite band. This band just makes sense to me in ways I just get – but I have never had to explain. I don’t have to research the band history or listen to every song. I already own every album, every EP, every B-side, every import single, and every bootleg that is available on your local Internet.

I don’t have to learn about these fine fellows from Bellingham, Washington. I need to figure out how to verbalize what just makes sense to me.

We will be recording and releasing the Death Cab for Cutie episode on Saturday, June 14, my son’s 6th birthday. Thing is – he is a huge Death Cab fan too. While I love Wilco equally to Death Cab but differently, Elliott has not responded the same way to Wilco as he has for Death Cab. I’d like to think it’s because he’s so much like me in so many ways.

Maybe he just gets it too. Maybe it just makes sense to him too.

I won’t get into things like my favorite Death Cab songs, because we will save that for the show. (Spoilers!) I’ll end with a song Elliott first expressed love for when he was about 4 years old when we were driving in my old Volvo. As “Your New Twin Sized Bed” came on the mix I had curated, he declared from the back seat “Oh…oh, I love this song… the guitars make my heart feel good.”

Stay tuned to The Static Podcast for this and other future episodes.

-John