Friday, December 31, 2010

Friday Forecast: New Year's Eve Edition

[Charles] I never really know what to do on new year's, have a party, go out, stay in? Driving on New Year's is scary no doubt about it. So here's some things happening within walking distance of the hood. If you don't live in our hood then I guess your outta luck and will have to catch a cab! Yikes! Cabs dropping people off in our neighborhood? Thought I'd never see that!

First up: Ella's Folk Art Cafe is having a bash and last year it sold out. This year I expect the same so if you haven't got a ticket, you better scramble. Head over to their facebook page and ask around. Ernie, Melissa, and the gang have put together a great set with Dex Romwebber Duo and Roppongi's Ace. The $25 advance ticket includes dinner, music, and a champagne toast. All that and you can stumble home when it's all done. Ella's has such a nice vibe and I always run into more and more friends there so you definitely can't go wrong with this one.
Forecast: 85% chance of a sellout crowd on the porch tonight.

If that's more commitment than you had in mind for tonight, then I would suggest walking down Florida Ave to the Independent Bar. Sounds like for $10 you can get in on a nice buffet of food (pot roast tacos and indian curry anyone?) and get some $4 drafts underway. The beer is always fantastic at the Independent and again, you will always run into people you know or people who want to chat. With the weather cooperating, this should be a really great and chilled out way to spend New Year's Eve .
Forecast: 90% chance of fancy beer sightings at this one.

Last but definitely not least is the Refinery's New Year's Eve. This is for folks that don't want to get locked in to a party but want some awesome traditional New Year's grub. Well not too traditional knowing Chef Greg, but here's the highlights. "Pork Chop with a Malta and Spice glaze, smokey bacon black-eyed peas, chile-candied turnip, and braised turnip greens." That should get your evening started right especially if you are headed out of the hood tonight. If not, then just head on upstairs to the bar and celebrate this beautiful night on the deck. I would expect a crowd...
Forecast: 70% chance you'll actually want to eat these black eyed peas.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Swim, Soak, and Sigh Part 3

Let's keep it rolling - It's day three and tracks 1 through 5 are up. Track 1 is always critical in a mixtape as it really has a lot riding on whether people will stay interested or not. The next few tracks have to keep that momentum and really hook people in. See what you think.

This song got my attention from the first buzz of noise that quickly overlaps with guitar and bells. I couldn't and can't stop listening to it. This is as close to an anthem as I'll probably come to this year. I can think of no better way to express my way of asking myself and others to take risks and try things than to say "Swim until you can't see land. Are you a man or a bag of sand?" Are you going to sink? Eventually we all will sink and pass on, but right now, do we chose to sink now or to swim? This one I can listen to on repeat and I am so embarrassed to say I didn't catch these guys in concert in Gainesville because I didn't want to make the drive on my own. My musical resolution this year is to quit making excuses for missing shows I know will be great and get out there. It's time to quit letting my self feel like a bag of sand and find my long swimming stride again.

I love this kind of lo-fi indie rock that plods along with interesting instruments like xylophones and glockenspiels mixed with guitars and odd percussion. This band has had quite a run - a year ago they were playing subway platforms in NYC and now they are on a European tour. I even heard this song was on some TV shows as well which is no surprise as corporate america continues to mine indie music to make their products seem cooler. I like the idea that the joke is on them as these bands fuel their vans with big cash from these deals but I'm not sure if it always works out perfectly for the band either. If you can get heard and get an audience and get people to the show and over to bandcamp to download your album then I guess it's all worth it. Why does this matter? Because I'd never heard of this band before coming across them on another blog and here they are #2 song on the mixtape.

I'm a sucker for a good electronic beat and world music mix and this song really nails it. To me there is a mix of Asian and Indian flavors in this song and it manages to pull of its 3 plus minutes of beats without getting tired or boring. This is basically instrumental music as even the voice samples are stripped down to just another layer of music but it just continues to drive on and keep you interested until the end. I have a hard time finding electronic music that I can listen to over and over (which is a definite mixtape criteria) but this one never drags.

This song has some of the best singalong harmonies I've heard this year. Just try and not harmonize with this song in the car. You know those songs that you try to kind of make the sound along with the words before you really know what they are saying the first couple of times you listen to it? It's okay, you can admit it to me. I'm not judging. I singalong in my car and people can feel free to make fun of me in traffic and go back to hating their lives immediately after. This is another of the tracks on this list that feels very timeless to me and helps renew my faith in new music. I get so tired of people that whine about never hearing any good new music that miss out on amazing pieces like this. Go ahead singalong, I won't tell anybody..."We'll still be best friends when it all turns to dust."

There's a funny shuffle to this song that refuses to let this just turn into a suicidal dirge. One of my favorite dj's commented "This has to be the most upbeat song about suicide that I've ever heard." I have to agree. It's almost got this comic feel that you just know that he's not gonna really go through with it. Anybody this happy about tossing themselves into a river is more likely to make a turn into the Tavern before they make it to their final destination. After a couple of pints I'm sure Mr. Earle will forget all about his plan to "let the dirty water cover me over". This guy has an interesting take on what is the fine line between alt-country, old country, and rock which is very appealing. I am still kicking myself for missing this show at Crowbar this year and reiterate my plan to catch more shows that I know will be great in the new year.

So that's it. The whole thing. Three days of marathon, type as fast as I can, research, 14 webpages open, lunchbreak hour, blog writing. I hope you like the mix and now if you click on the first track, you should be able to let them all play through the fancy yahoo player that will pop up on your computer. That should let you play them in order as I intended. Let me know what you think and hopefully next year I'll get to add a little more music writing to my Friday Forecast and Maker Monday regular posts. Thanks for all the support this year and please leave a comment if you want, I love those!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2010 Swim, Soak and Sigh Part 2

Photo credit unknown but awesome.
Let's continue the mixtape with the middle five tracks starting off with a local band - The Grecian Urns...

This collection of young musicians from St. Pete comes together during the summers and breaks off into separate colleges during the fall. Catching them in concert becomes a little tricky due to this, but this year they decided to get together and release an album. They played a few shows over at Ella's Folk Art Cafe in my hood too so I've really got no excuse for not catching them live. This song captures a lot of the multi-instrumental joy of this band which is making music as good or better than a lot of "discovered" bands out there - just see Track 8 for similarities. Anyhow, enjoy the track. It's a lot of fun and right after the 3 minute mark it changes over from a simple pop song to a big chorus of whistle-along fun that makes me glad to announce that whistling is definitely back. Thanks Peter Bjorn and John.

Thanks Jordan, good call on this one. My buddy up in Cinci said I should check out this band Horse Feathers and at first listen I thought it was maybe a little too moody and depressing for this mix. That was until I realized that this whole mix is a little moody and depressing. After that, I was all in... and why not? This song is painfully gorgeous. The piano hammers away at your insides sharply and it begins the same way it ends with that sharp piano rapping loudly. It reminds me of taking piano lessons with Ryan Adams and David Gray. After a few listens I'm sure you'll be drawn in.

This band I'd heard a little bit about when I discovered they were playing at the Ritz. My friend Nicole "Elawgrrl" was of course going in her official photographer capacity and was pretty skeptical of the "dirty hippies" we were about to find onstage. They fielded a huge band with two drummers, xylophone, trumpet, guitars, accordion, piano, and a male and female duo trading back and forth on many of the songs. This had to be the nicest group of fans I've ever been packed in with. It was crazy. I even was able to make my way to the front without the typical fistfights and stabbings that usually accompany that sort of thing. This song was featured in a commercial and hopefully that helps pay the gas in these guys monstrous bus because they definitely are worth catching in concert. If they come anywhere near you, definitely get out there and see the spectacle for yourself. When they sing the chorus "We want to heal your janglin souls" you might just find you've joined in and started wishing to be a Magnetic Zero yourself.

This song isn't the typical singalong rocker that Frank Turner is becoming known for in these parts. He toured pretty heavily around his show opening for Social Distortion and Lucero this year and could be seen at many places in Central Florida. This song got stuck in my head and quite honestly fits better with this group of songs than many of his others that I love. Check out "Photosynthesis" on this Irish blog if you're curious. This song is more about the sadness and longing that comes from a life on the road. Nicole heavily recommended Mr. Turner and this song was one of the tracks that stuck out in my mind because of great lines like "And that's how I miss out, on another night. The kind of night where nothing really happens, yeah, but everything goes down" when talking about the difficulty of getting phone calls from friends while being stuck working and out of town. This is great songwriting and even though this album wasn't released in 2010, I'm giving this one a pass because I hadn't heard of it until this year and it is fantastic.

Okay, I'm letting a cover on here. I couldn't get this version out of my head and WMNF played it a few too many times and now I'm stuck with it. I love it though and since Squeeze just celebrated a cool documentary on them recently I felt okay slipping it in here. The Shins are a family favorite anyway so it's nice to hear them making some music again.

The last three will hopefully be up tomorrow!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

2010: Swim, Soak, and Sigh Part 1

[Charles] The End of the Year Mixtape is one of my favorite things to do each year. I look forward to putting together a group of songs that can play through together and make the year proud. I've never posted the links before, but I think I've finally got it figured out so please don't ruin it for me.
Disclaimer: The links are up for a limited time and then they'll come down. They are meant to get you hungry for more music and to send you off on your own search for music. This is a jumping off point for an adventure into bands and cd's you may have missed last year. If you want your music taken down, just let me know and I'll pull it.

This list is also personal and completely arbitrary. I don't try to do a "best of" - I like to think of this as a solid bunch of songs that work well as a group. That's why I call it a mixtape.

Let's start with tracks 11-15...
I came late to Arcade Fire as I know I naturally am resistant to bands that get too much hype and all this "yeah the next great indie band" baggage. That being said, I'm sorry, this band is really good and has been good the whole time. I missed out, and I'll do my best to make it up to them. If they'd like to drop by the house, I'd happily set up a grill out or whatever they like and we can patch it up over beers. Seriously though, they also do some really amazing work in Haiti and the money they funnel to other worthy causes. This song builds from something so small and makes me think of the frustration of growing up somewhere that waiting feels like all you can do. Also, I'd like to mention the creativity we've seen from them as this song has an interactive video and the Spike Jonze video of The Suburbs is pretty awesome as well.

The National also fall into that group of bands that get so much hype and play that it is hard to treat them fairly. To get a fair trial, I had to move them away from all of the craziness around their touring and fans. I listened to plenty of their tracks and I liked them okay but I never got that goosebumps sort of feeling that great music can give you. That was until I heard this version of "Terrible Love". All of a sudden, away from the heavy production and drama, there was just this band and this voice, and it was amazing. I listened to it over and over and it was the same song but it wasn't. This band definitely deserves the love they get and I hope they are around for a long long time.

When I first heard this song, I knew it would make this list. Sometimes a song just burrows under the skin and stays inside and that was definitely the effect of Laura Berhenn's voice on me. After many listens I've resigned to the fact that this reminds me of past favorites like Cowboy Junkies and Mazzy Star and all those rock-soul girls that ever drowned their sorrows in a slow slow electric guitar and forced me to buy their albums and put them on whenever I'm feeling particularly moody. The difference here for me is that there is a hopeful up-turn in this song when she "counts 1 to 10" at about the 1:20 mark and reminds us that "it can be easy, if you let it." I keep thinking about that. Like a little bit of hidden zen master advice, she reminds us all how important it is to just "let it."

I don't know much of anything about the guy that made this. The story I heard was that he got laid off from Apple and headed to Hawaii with his girlfriend and made this. All I can say is, that if that is true, then sometimes getting laid off is the best thing ever because this music is amazing. It is transcendent, beautiful, electronic music that doesn't feel like it needs to pumped from speakers at a million decibels so much as it should be quietly poured over the heads of clubgoers like a baptism in light. I can't remember the last time I wanted to listen to an electronic song on repeat like this. This feels like a new type of lo-fi, ethereal electronic music that has made me look forward to new music again. This is music that needs no translation.

Because this is a mixtape, I feel that order and pacing is important and even more important is the correct ending song. This was one of my favorite albums of the year. I received it on Father's Day and it was the best gift I could hope for. This music reminds me of Amy and Ella and all that is great about being alive. It feels like the hymn book from my church - the church of music where everybody is welcome and all you have to do is sing and be good to each other and go out and try to be good and honest to people in the world. I think of this song as a hymn and a poem and truly something different than most of what is available in music today. This song was overlooked for catchier songs from their album on most lists, but for me, this is exactly what this band is about. It builds and builds and crescendos to a fantastic yell-along finish that feels exactly like the end of a mixtape should.

"Love it will not betray you
Dismay or enslave you, it will set you free
Be more like the man you were made to be
There is a design, an alignment, a cry
Of my heart to see,
The beauty of love as it was made to be."
-From Sigh No More - Mumford and Sons

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Maker Monday: Re-Nest Best Sustainable Bedroom Furniture

Photo from Apartment Therapy Re-Nest
[Charles] When it's cold like this week, I want to go to bed early and sleep late. Lots of blankets and lots of snooze button action seems to define my winter pattern. I would love to get up early and go for a run and feel good about myself but... until then, I'll be dreaming of how to make our room more lovable and less leave-able. Here's a re-post from Apartment Therapy of the best sustainable bedroom furniture of 2010. One piece that stood out to me is the nightstand that looks like we could make a chair-hacked version from some of the broken chair pieces we find. What do you think?

See the chair-like side pieces? The salvaged screen or grate? This one gets me thinking...

Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday Forecast: Legendary Life Market

[Charles] I'm running behind today and it's been a long day to say the least. Here's a couple of quickpicks and then I'm done. I'm sure you've got plenty of "non-voluntary" Christmas parties to make sure you miss stuff you want to do so I'm not gonna try and rub it in. I'm also working on my end of the year mix CD so that takes up a lot of my "research" time. So tonight, get out to see the Legendary JC's at Skipper's - word is they are releasing a cd?! That and the Lee Boys open so definitely they will make the most of the awesome temps tonight under the stars.
Forecast: 85% chance of James Brown's ghost shaking it in the crowd at Skipper's.

On Sunday you've got a double down. First off, head to the Sunday Morning Market to pick up some handmade gifts for your favorite folks over in front of the Hillsborough High School.
Forecast: 90% chance of awesome gift opportunities fo sho!

After that, head over to the Tampa Theatre to get your annual dose of Christmas spirit. It's A Wonderful Life always gets me choked up - okay I said it. Anyhow, it's a beautiful place and it will be awesome to see a classic on the big screen! 3 PM downtown
Forecast: 65% chance you'll need a kleenex for this one!

Have fun out there!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Maker Monday: Screw Screws Here Comes the Swiss

[Charles] I sometimes get obsessed with the idea that furniture doesn't really need screws and nails. Designs turn over and over in my head as the pieces lock together with tabs and holes and the weight of each piece locks the others together. And then every once in a while I see somebody who does it really really well. This popped up this morning on Treehugger - designer Colin Schaelli is building con.temporary furniture that does just that. It does it in beautiful raw wood that is designed around a tatami mat size that fits in a car easily and can be transported for the new mobile gypsies that we have turned out to be. Apparently it's good for sleeping... those silly swiss, they are so artsy? I guess you do what you can to show off the furniture. See what you think - me, I'm in love.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday Forecast: Atomic Studio Harvest

Photo of Carved into Wood ring from Nested Yellow on Etsy
[Charles] There are some benefits to not working every weekend during the Christmas season like we have for the last few years, and this weekend brings one of those to the forefront - holiday shows! Tonight we'll kick off the weekend at the West Tampa Center for the Arts over on Armenia with an open studio at Studio 313 and the Bay Area Art Collective Party. This will be your best opportunity to meet Anna from Nested Yellow and see the gorgeous jewelry she has created this season. Her jewelry is so unique and amazing that it eclipsed everything else we sold last year for Christmas. If you are looking for something special for a loved one, you really can't go wrong with her designs. I'm hoping to see in person some of her men's designs as well that I've only seen in photos so far.
Forecast: 95% chance that something will end up under our Christmas tree after this show.

To keep this weekend from turning into one long shop-a-thon, I'd like to put in a shout out here for the Seminole Heights Community Garden and their work on the first ever - Harvest for the Hungry in our neighborhood. At 9 am on Saturday, you can get down to the lot next to Sherry's Yesterdaze and join up with a roving band of fruit pickers that are going to well... pick fruit and deliver it to Metropolitan Ministries. If you have fruit that needs to be picked, we need your help too - let them know where it is and they'll come get it! Email if you want to get involved. Let's make this one a success and a positive event for the neighborhood!
Forecast: 60% chance they'll be having fresh squeezed orange juice and grapefruit for breakfast at Metropolitan Ministries this week - IF we get it together! C'mon neighbors!!!

After that, we'll have to pop up tomorrow afternoon and head south to the Atomic Holiday Bazaar in Sarasota. Unfortunately interesting craft and art shows are few and far between in Florida. Sure there are plenty of country basket/manatee/dachshunds made from old metal shows, but not many fun, edgy, crochet/scrap/recycle/goth/alterna-shows. I work in Florida and don't go to the beach every weekend and sure as hell have no desire to decorate my house with shells and beachery so I'm really looking forward to it. I'm excited to see what unique screenprint art group Clothesline is up to this year in addition to being one of the sponsors. It'll probably have some "strange goth stuff" as my co-workers say, but it'll also definitely have some really cool and beautiful things. This is exactly where I'm happy to do my Christmas shopping and support great artists that are not just local but include people from all over the country.
Forecast: 65% chance that you'll be rubbing elbows with hipsters, youngsters, and goths alike and having a fantastic time!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Maker Monday: Reclaimed Wood Platform Bed - TSM Original Design

[Charles] I've wanted to document the construction of some of our furniture pieces for a while now and this platform bed has been a long time coming. I've been promising to build this one for way too long now and finally the confluence of time, the right sized wood, and inspiration came together a few weeks ago. Hopefully you'll get a kick out of the photos. It's a pretty simple piece but every piece teaches me something to look for the next time. I'm not kidding about the wood either - in Florida, reclaimed wood is hard to come by and often chewed up, bug ridden, too short, or just plain ugly. These wood pieces were cypress wood and they didn't look like much before sanding and oiling but after they were done - these were amazing.

This plan isn't much, but I can't say how important it is to have one. Especially if you are using reclaimed wood or even just need to plan with what you have to avoid making one more
trip to pick up materials. Take a few moments and sketch out something as well as you can.

This is the rough looking wood that I chose, basically based on the size of it and the fact that it was pretty solid. I also know how well this stuff cleans up after using it for a few things. You can also sort of see the large circular saw mill marks in these which can be country in the wrong setting but on this bed will contrast the modern simplicity nicely.

This photo shows the basic idea, as I mocked it up on its side. Basically I'll attach a plymood piece around the inside of the wood sides. This will support a plywood top for the bed. I decided to toss the box spring and just put the mattress on top. This will also have a center rib that spans across the bed which I'll make from leftover plywood pieces glued together.

If there's one thing I've learned with wood working - it's that you can't have too many clamps. It seems like I'm always using almost every stinking clamp in the place for even simple jobs. Wood glue does its job better under pressure so just suck it up and clamp away. This is when I glued the sides to the support pieces. After they were clamped, I countersunk some screws from the inside just for added strength.
Here's the beginning of the assembly in place. Because I think a good bed should be able to be broken down and moved, I made this with the idea of simple disassembly and assembly. I wanted to use hidden brackets, but I wasn't happy with what I had in the shop and just went for countersunk screws at the corners. I think it looks okay because they are really set in far, but I would like to improve this on future models. You can see the holes in the next few shots.

Since plywood comes in 4X8 sheets and beds are 5 feet wide, you get this. This is why the plan is important and I had decided to take advantage of this and actually set the wood to one side and add doors for hideaway storage. Try not to notice the stupid mess of wires behind the bed because this is an old house without a lot of plugs...

These door pieces were made much more awesome by the fact that they were from a painting that Amy did before and wasn't happy with. It had a mixture of tree and stenciled numbers in a bright green which makes for a nice surprise when you open the door. Notice how the doors both sit halfway on the rib across the bed. The larger piece of plywood is screwed down to the sides for added strength. I used simple hinges left over from some furniture I'd salvaged before on the doors and I drilled finger holes to use for pulling them open.

Here's the bed done, but unfortunately not made yet. I didn't want to hide the sides for the photo. Ignore the mattress tag - I'm still afraid to remove it. I shortened the custom floating shelves on the side also. The headboard is now a rusted steel pan that we had planned to make a table with, but it looks amazing on the back and is a great reminder of Amy's amazing talent!

After making this, I would shorten the length a little and do something different to hide the assembly better, but I love the way it looks. Our dog Baci is a fan too. It is about the height of a low bench so she can just hop right up and head to dreamland. Thanks for checking it out, and send me questions in the comments if you'd like more info...

Friday, December 3, 2010

Friday Forecast: Jukebox, Superchunk, and Jobsite

[Charles] Lots to do this weekend folks, and not just Christmas shopping and movies at the mall... This time of year brings bands from the north that are happy to escape the cold weather and soak up the warmth of Florida crowds.

The problem this weekend is that all three of these shows are on the same Saturday night. The good news is that they are all within walking distance of each other in Ybor. How about we make it a little mini fest and get some comfortable shoes for a little rock hopping?

Superchunk came out of the late 90's from Chapel Hill, North Carolina and really trail blazed their own indie label Merge and toured like crazy for years. They don't tour much now even with a new album out but they've been tapped by Skate Park of Tampa to play their anniversary show this Saturday. This show is at Czar just down the street from The Bricks and the SPOT skate shop on 7th. Forecast: 90% chance at $10 this one will sell out and this crowd won't be giving away their tickets to any "Slack Motherf-er" without a fight.

Maybe first you should head over to New World Brewery and check out some of the bands playing in support of Jobsite Theater. This is the combo wrap season party and rock out that they use to raise money for the coolest theater group in Tampa. After working hard all year for a less than supportive *ahem* city as far as theater goes, it's time to let them know that we appreciate what they do. $8 gets you some Famous Monsters of Finland, Vodkanauts, Pale Orchestra, and they have raffles!!! So go ahead and check it out and get some good fuel for the evening. Forecast: 25% chance The Vodkanauts will mashup Neil Diamond and David Bowie.

After the first two shows, or if you are getting to Ybor late, you'll want to head to Crowbar to checkout Jukebox the Ghost. They get a lot of Ben Folds comparisons but after seeing Matt and Kim this year, I think the piano is getting a little more street cred than you might think. This should be a lot of fun and according to Soangelicate's review on Ninebullets, they put on an awesome show. Forecast: 60% chance of somebody getting a keyboard for Christmas after this show.

Have fun out there!

Also congrats to Cigar City Brewery for getting their wet-zoning approved this week! I'll have to remember to head over and pick up a growler and congratulate them in person. If you still haven't tried them... you're missing out!

Double Down Friday - WMNF's All Commercial / Non Commercial Show

Photo from
[Charles] Okay, so I was out this last week and missed a couple of posts, so to make it up to you fine folks, I'm dropping an extra post today. What would drive me to such extremes? Only my favorite show of the season on WMNF - Flee's "All Commercial/Non Commercial" Post Black Friday show on Monday.

I can't help that I find myself looking up music from commercials if a song catches my attention. This is what bands have to do now to get attention and I'm not judging. I knew Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes song "Janglin" before I knew who they were. I got The Heavy's "How You Like Me Now?" stuck in my head after the Super Bowl. I've seen some good bands get grabbed and ruined by overplay as well so I know it's a tricky game. You've got to find something that will help your music advance while not alienating new fans with associating your new jam with an annoying commercial about air fresheners or how friendly banks are. So anyway, Flee knows I love this show and I always send him a list of songs that I get into during the year. It's fun for me and if you've never listened to WMNF on the archives while you're working or cleaning the house, then head over and give it a try.

If you take the link, you can check out the playlist and play the show in your computer's music player. Don't wait though, it's already Friday and the shows only stay up for a week. After next Monday, they'll be on to the next show...

Monday, November 22, 2010

Maker Monday: Making Memories in the Kitchen

Photo from Foods For Long Life Blog which has some excellent info on the healthiness of pumpkins!
[Charles] This week with Thanksgiving coming up, my thoughts have turned to the tradition of making something from scratch in the kitchen with family. We lost my wife's Grandma yesterday and with her a lot of amazing homemade cooking knowledge. Some of those recipes were passed along but many of the best were never written down and apparently her Chocolate Pie recipe yielded a legendary dessert that tasted like a gigantic Hershey's bar had been melted down and poured into a pie crust.

It makes me think of how important it is to really enjoy those times when we can all be together and cooking in the kitchen at Thanksgiving is probably the single best time of the year for that. I'd like to encourage everybody to spend some time in the kitchen this week and take a few moments and maybe an index card so that you can record your mom's thoughts on how to get the turkey perfect or what exactly your grandma sneaks into the cornbread stuffing. Also, this is a great time to drag the kids into the kitchen and get them stirring, or pouring, or whatever they can handle. The memories of being in the kitchen, the smell of pumpkin pie cooling on the counter, the arguing over which casserole should go where in the oven, and the table that sags with the weight of all the well-loved platters and dishes all get recorded by young eyes and will be the memories that comfort after the other people at the table are gone.

I set out to write about making things and the one thing I'd like to try this year is to make a pumpkin pie from a real pumpkin. There was a fun story on this in Creative Loafing this year that was shy on details but at least inspired me to start looking for where to buy a Sugar Pie Pumpkin in my area. Apparently they are the best for making pies with and they are smaller and denser than the ole Jack O Lanterns I'm usually in search of. I'm guessing our daughter could at least help with scooping out the pumpkin this year. I'd like to start a tradition of cooking something like this with her and maybe someday when she smells pumpkin pie she'll remember the year we made one from a real pumpkin!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday Forecast: Pulleys, Bricks, and Toots

Inside Cafe Hey Photo from Brett F on Flickr
[Charles] Looks like this weekend isn't gonna slouch and stay inside watching Ghost Whisperer, so you've really got no excuse.

First off, let me say thanks to Cafe Hey for the shout out on FB professing their love for this blog. I've been really working to keep my regular posts coming and worth reading and I'm glad they've noticed. I've had a thing for Cafe Hey since I first hesitantly parked my car on the part of Franklin street that most Tampa residents can't locate even with Google maps. Cafe Hey is everything that you want in an indie coffee shop/cafe/art space/hangout spot.

Somewhat hidden location so that you can brag to your friends when they say they have no idea where it is? - Check.

Amazing coffee and food (preferably healthy and veg options) - Check.

Tiny tables to encourage cozy mingling, chatting and noshing - Check.

Engaging staff that is equal parts hilarious, smarmy, and confident - Check.

Rotating art shows of affordable and cutting edge work - Check.

Did I mention that their Cafe Con Leche kicks your BigBucks cappucino's a$$? - Nuff said.

Okay, on to the forecast!

Tonight at Jannus Live will be legendary Toots and the Maytals rockin the reggae vibe. Toots Hibbert is a legendary performer who some people credit with coining the word reggae back in the day. I don't know about that, but I do know that he has been a consistent hitmaker and performer that has outlasted many of his contemporaries with songs like "Pressure Drop" and "54-46 was my Number". I really got re-hooked into Toots when he did an album called True Love in 2004 and won a Grammy for it with a lot of other singers like Bonnie Raitt and Ryan Adams pitching in on his hit songs. Everybody I've heard from says he puts on a great show and really exudes the joy and love of great reggae music. I just visited the new Jannus this week and it has really cleaned up nicely. If you've only heard the Clash do "Pressure Drop", you should really check out the godfather of reggae's version in person.
Forecast: 35% chance you'll fail your next zero tolerance test at work if you get too close to the stage at this show.

Tonight also is the opening of the new art show from the Bricks of Ybor and Kickstart My Art called "Not Playing with a Full Deck". This one has brought out local and non-local artists to contribute art created from and on broken skateboard decks. I've enjoyed the other shows at the Bricks like the "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" show recently so this should also be a lot of fun. I'm glad to see them getting some good shows together. The food and drinks at the Bricks are definitely worth checking out when you get some time too. I'm adding them to my list of pre-New World Brewery spots for dinner. I've been there a few times since they opened and really enjoy the chilled out vibe and punk rock jukebox. I'm glad to see another spot that folks who want to hang in Ybor but not hit the clubs can find a home.
Forecast: 25% chance somebody is going home with a skateboard painted like the Abominable Snowman

On Sunday, you'll have a hard time finding a better spot to chill out and nurse a hangover than Ella's with local singer/songwriter Rebekah Pulley on the stage in the afternoon. I won't work too hard to convince you that she is awesome because we all know I've been following her from gig to gig for years anytime she's on this side of the bridge. She says that she's working on some material for a new album coming out soon, so I'd get by there for a preview. It won't hurt that you'll be munching on some of the best barbecue in the city from Mr. Ernie Locke. Finally last weekend I tried the Chicken and Waffles and it's definitely one of those flavor combos that gets under your skin and builds to the kind of craving that you'd sell the gold in your fillings for.
Forecast: 75% chance somebody's gonna settle in to a corner booth at Ella's and have to be pried out of it 4 hours later...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A little harmonica with your Avetts?

Just had to share a little from the G.Love collab coming up with the Avetts. I was skeptical but I like this - see what you think...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Maker Monday: Etsy Instruments

[Charles] Photo from Etsy InBloom Designs Shop
I was looking for a gift for my daughter last night and was thinking of musical instruments. I like the idea of something simple like a tambourine or xylophone that she can beat on and at our venerable Big Box retailer all of
the kids offerings are ridiculous
amalgamations of plastic junk. There are tons of cheaply made drums and kazoos and harmonicas and something called an ocarina? There wasn't a simple wood shaker to be found.

Today my lunchtime surfing took me into the world of acoustic guitar construction and I learned a lot, but then I thought what about Etsy?! And sure enough there are lots of makers out there making all sorts of cool instruments just for people like us. So, here you go... if you want to buy yourself or your little ones an instrument I suggest you check a few of these out and support a handmade DIY person just like yourself!

Try All Natural Acoustics Shop and find cool items like this beat box called the Knuckle Knocker

How about some Claves from Ile Tambour's Shop?

These just scratch the surface of what is out there - There's even kid-specific drums

Beat Creatures are what is really fun about Etsy - strange and imaginative!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday Forecast: Lucero Turner Distortion, 615 Souls, and Market Sunday

Photo from Elawgrrl shots of Frank Turner
[Charles] This weekend brings a lot of choices, but I believe you can fit them all in! Tonight brings a bada$$ group of bands together on the same bill at Jannus Live in St. Pete. Any one of these bands would be worth the price of admission which explains why the show has been sold out for weeks. First off, you can see Frank Turner who has wormed his post punk way in to the hearts of many of us that cut our teeth on hardcore but now can appreciate a nice rebellious sing-a-long mixed in to our rock soup. This is the kind of guy that you would follow out the door of his concert and across the street to a parking lot just to get to spend more time with him. Don't believe me? Read about his Fest show here from the excellent first person account of none other than Andy Stern whose Beard rating system should be applied universally to most of the shows I attend. "Frank Turner’s fest performance encompassed everything you expect from a Fest show. Sing-a-long songs, drunken celebration, crowd surfing, and surprises." After a bar-raising and bar-drinking opener like Frank Turner, you can expect a hell of a show from Lucero and Social Distortion. I hope they bring it because this opener is no slouch and is really developing a following in the area.

Forecast: 95% chance of some bearded dudes clutching beers and getting their faces melted off!

Saturday, after you've risen from the dead in the late morning hours, I would recommend a big greasy brunch at somewhere like Nicko's and then I'd send you on down to the Independent for an easy relaxing bit of beer sipping. Before you head out of the hood, definitely check out the art show over at Tempus Projects - Calling (615) with a group of artists from Nashville bringing a little show round that you won't want to miss. Tempus has really taken no shortcuts in bringing terrific new art to their space and I'd really like the neighborhood to turn out and take notice.

You'll want to be ready when you start making your way to New World Brewery for The London Souls a rock band from NYC that's been called "amazingly tight" and "swampy rock music". I suck at all those kind of cool music descriptors but I know good music when I hear it and trust me, this is really good. Check 'em out for yourself.

Forecast: 50% chance of needing a designated driver on Saturday - where'd those electric taxis go anyway? Oh yeah the City of Tampa killed those - make sure they don't kill Cigar City Brewery in the same way... take that link to read about it and be sure to send an email along to our wishy washy City Council.

Sunday is the Sunday Morning Market at Hillsborough High School. Dry out, buy some local honey, find some organic produce, and maybe even shake your hula hoop a little that day. It should be fun and the weather will be perfect. Winter in Florida means a rain jacket is your heavy coat...

Forecast: 40% chance some fancy coffee will be sipped while perusing the local wares and catching up with the neighbors - Enjoy!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Maker Monday: Finally a bookshelf that works...

Photo from Core77
[Charles] It seems like bookshelves have it pretty easy. They sit there against the wall and just wait for you to pull a book down. They might allow room for other stuff on the shelf but they consist of a lot of space that is sort of off limits to dual purposes. The bookshelf that Raw Edges' designers made for their own uses finally gets those books out and doing something while they lay around waiting for your interest. The simple wooden piece has grooves that the wooden slats drop into with books wrapped around them. The little slats can serve as bookmarks and the spines line up to make for an interesting table surface. Shelf gone - just like that! I like it, and I'd like to start building one of these for all the ridiculous magazines that we seem to amass.

You can see the original photos at Core77 in their post.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday Forecast: Vodka, Bash, and Films

[Charles] Tonight should usher in a nice chilly breeze to help motivate those brave souls that are biking the 40 miles roundtrip out to Flatwoods on Sunday morning. If you are going to bike it from Seminole Heights then plan to leave from the Garden Center at 8:30. The Bicycle Bash is a huge bicycling event and has a new location in Flatwoods County Park which apparently has some really nice bike trails and a large (car-free) loop. Expect tons of bike vendors and groups, lots of other bicyclists, and a couple of my favorites - Cafe Nola and Buddy Brew Coffee to warm up and motivate you for the ride home. You can park and ride from Branchton Park and bike in from a closer distance if you want. Forecast: Chances that I'll be biking all the way from Seminole Heights at 8:30 am are maybe 20%. I'm thinking I'm still a ways off of a 20 mile hungover ride... More info here

The reason for that hangover will most likely be the band playing tonight at Ella's Folk Art Cafe in the hood. The Vodkanauts are a self-described "lounge rock" band which always promises a good time. They feel a little like if a young band invaded Vegas and kicked out Wayne Newton and performed his playlist for the night with a little Rat Pack and 80's mix thrown in. They effortlessly jump genres in their choices and don't take themselves too seriously while promising a seriously good time. Forecast: 80% chance that martinis will be shaken and not stirred at Ella's tonight.

Last of all is a small but well-stocked film festival over by the University of Tampa. I don't know much about the films at the Tampa Independent Film Festival, but judging by the awful state of Hollywood movies these days, I'll drop $20 to see some new talent and open my mind. It sounds like you buy a day pass and get in to all of the movies that day. Friday is the Florida Film Showcase and then Saturday is the Best of the Fest Awards and movies - that's what I'm thinking. Check out their site and see if there is something that interests you, or better yet, just buy a ticket and take a chance on somebody's dream of making movies that still matter. Some of these are from students at USF and Ringling so it's really a chance to see some local talent as well. Forecast: 70% chance you'll see a movie that you'll be talking about for years.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Maker Monday: Big Banquette Build from Core77

Photos from hipstomp on Core77
[Charles] Here's a re-post from Core77 on how the process of building a huge built in banquette can go. I especially like that he includes all of the screwups and lessons learned in the process. Hopefully next week I'll have some photos of my platform bed build that I can share.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Forecast: Refined Halloween, Bird St., and John's Festival

[Charles] Halloween is a favorite weekend for lots of folks and the fun is happening everywhere. The one do not miss event as far as I'm concerned is going to be the party on Saturday night at the Refinery. Greg and Michelle love Halloween and are going all out this year to make sure everyone has a great time. Definitely dress up and get ready for a costume contest with some great food and drink specials. Performing at the show will be November Foxtrot Whiskey and the Rock N Body Pole Dancers so it should be a lot of fun. When asked what pole dancers have to do with Halloween, Michelle replied "Everything has to do with Halloween!" Don't miss out on a great local event! Forecast - 60% chance somebody dressed like Dick Cheney will hit on a pole dancer.

My forecast is out of order but whatever, tonight will find The Lee Boys and the Bird St. Players kickin out the jams at the Crowbar tonight. The Lee Boys are what is called "sacred steel" which to me sounds like the best combo of blues and gospel that you could put together. The Bird St. Players are a local funk and soul group that always promise a good time. Forecast of some face melting blues riffs - 85%. Definitely some of the best music in town this weekend. Here's a little video of The Lee Boys from Bonaroo...

Last of all, I want to offer up a chance to be a tourist for once in our little town and enjoy something that most of us normally shun. Over at John's Pass they are having a seafood festival with all sorts of artists and activities for the kids. If you've never done the touristy thing and you live here, now's your chance to check it out and have some fun. Buy a stupid t-shirt and enjoy the cool weather off the water. You might surprise yourself. Forecast of art involving manatees - 75%.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Maker Monday: Not a Lamp - David Graas

Photos from Studio David Graas
{Charles} This little lamp caught my eye the other day in a blog post on Re-nest and I started checking out the other studio work from David Graas. I like this quote about making environmentally friendly designs -"My ambition is first and foremost to make simple, beautiful,
affordable and smart products." I like that idea and that is a common discussion I've had with friends. I don't want to complicate a thing unnecessarily. I like that his designs enjoy some sense of humor as well. Check out this one, which I wish I had thought of when I found that broken trombone a few months ago...

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday Forecast: Altars, Rabbits, and Grub

How do you celebrate the Day of the Dead in Tampa? How about heading to the new TMA and checking out some altar art from local artists and maybe leaving a little something for people you've lost this week? We lost my Uncle Gary this week and I plan to leave a University of Texas hat down there for the gruff guy from coal-mining country that always knew how to make me laugh.

50% chance somebody is gonna be dressed like Frida Kahlo or Mr. Goodbody down there...

Ever done a ride thru on your bike? Saturday might be your chance. The Hub Grub III (The Grub Strikes Back) is going to take anybody with a bike and an appetite through a tour of SemHeights faves like Ella's, the Shindie, and the Refinery and new guys like Nani's. You'll even get something at Publix this time so head over to the Garden Center at 2:30 to get it going. Here's the link to the page from the SHBC for more info.

I predict a 90% chance somebody will have too much fun and have to walk the bike home!

Last but not least, there's a small - let's say 20% chance that I'm going to drive out of town to see Frightened Rabbit this weekend. I didn't grow up in Florida so driving to shows used to be pretty common for me, but I'm not sure if I'll pony and head up the road. It'll be a real shame to miss these guys if I do. They've been a lot of inspiration to me lately on days that really feel like a continuous kick in the teeth. If you go see them either in Gainesville on Saturday or in Orlando at the Social on Sunday, be prepared to rock your face off!

Hope to see you out there!

Here's a little Frightened Rabbit that I'll dedicate to my Uncle Gary who definitely was a real man and not "a bag of sand".

Monday, October 18, 2010

Maker Monday: Fisheye for IPhone

Photos from Elawgrrl's Blog Post on her Iphone Fisheye Lens
[Charles] After following Elawgrrl around this weekend to see just how she gets her awesome live shots at concerts, I was definitely feeling like it was time to read my Digital SLR's manual and see what I'd been missing. I'll post separately about the concerts themselves but today I wanted to point everybody over to a great post she did a month or so ago about adding a fisheye lens to the Iphone.

She has been using the Iphone for her 365 photos in 365 days project this year and decided to make some modifications to the camera to push the creativity beyond what Hipstamatic and some editing can do. The post was great and showed a simple way to take something that's cheaply made and modify it so it is useful. If you want to see how her 365/365 project is going, check it out here -

Here's a shot she made after properly installing the lens with an Iphone (I still can't believe some of the shots she gets with her phone)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Friday Forecast: Injustice, Problems, and Vikings

Photo from Elawgrrl of Sleepy Vikings and friends at Summer Jam
[Charles] This Friday I've got to make some decisions. Why does it seem like every weekend we get more and more good bands here? I don't want to sound optimistic about the scene here but I kind of am. Pretty cool to have enough great shows to cause trouble deciding which I'm going to hit -

So anyhow the Forecast is:

20% chance I'll drive the bridge and see Matt and Kim with Fake Problems although it really sounds like a great show and my buddy Elawgrrl will probably almost certainly be there snapping away with her music hungry lens.

35% chance I'll head over to the Brass Mug to catch Injustice System and their speed punk with the rocktastic Andy Stern on drums - who you may also know from Porch Fire or many of the other bands he's been kicking a$$ with for years.

50% chance I'll head down to The Bricks in Ybor to hear Sleepy Vikings in support of Glitter of our own Tampa Bay Derby Darlins and her mounting hospital bills from being hit in an accident while riding her scooter.

Any one of these shows will be worth spending an awesome Friday night out in the Bay Area so really folks just pick one, get out of the house, and you can't go wrong. Hope to see you out!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Are you sure you've never heard of Solomon Burke?

[Charles] I mentioned the death of soul legend Solomon Burke to a few people since Sunday and not many people seem to know him without some prodding. Unfortunately he never received the same name recognition as guys like Otis Redding or Marvin Gaye, but he was definitely a legend. It was interesting that because he outlived so many of those singers, he went on to have a real job and brought something like 19 children into the world. If you still can't place him, then here's a couple of things to help you remember. Let's start with the Dirty Dancing movie - you'll have to follow the link to see this one, but it's worth it...

That was one of his biggest hits released back in 1962 and revived in the 80's.

Next off, remember the Blues Brothers? They covered one of his biggest hits from 1964. "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love" You might remember the band here that also covered the song and made a huge hit of it on tour.

If you happened to read Nick Hornby's High Fidelity then you probably caught on that he's a bit of a fan of Solomon too. Here's the song that he said was "responsible for Rob and Laura's whole relationship" in the book because Rob would play it as a DJ and only Laura could dance to it.

I remember one day I was driving home from work and heard Jeff Stewart from WMNF 88.5 interviewing Solomon Burke on the radio - I almost wrecked the car. It was fantastic, and he sounded like such a nice guy and really cool. He'll definitely be missed and hopefully with a little help from all of his fans, he'll be remembered as the amazing man he was.

Here's a song from the last big album that resurrected his career and even won him a Grammy. It was an all-star album with many people writing songs for him to perform. My favorite is the most amazing and soulful track on the album- the title track "Don't Give Up On Me" - Enjoy

Friday, October 8, 2010

Friday Forecast: WMNF Fund Drive, 9Bullets Anniversary Show, Sunday Market

[Charles] A couple of quick things to check out this weekend. First off, this week was the WMNF fund drive and if you didn't chip in then let me remind you of the vast wasteland of other music that awaits us if you don't. Just get off your wallet and send em $10 or whatever. Find your favorite show and put money in the tip jar so they know what you like. They are stopping the drive today and they are still really short. If you need a show to check out, then go to the archives and see either Saturday Asylum, Grand National Championships, or Artful Dodgings. There are lots of great shows, but these to me are the never miss, indie shows that always introduce me to new music. They definitely deserve some love.

On Saturday, over in St. Pete is the 9Bullets Anniversary show with a lot of cool bands and one of my favorites - Will Quinlan and the Diviners. Show these guys some love and enjoy some nice rock and alt-country in the process. This blog puts out consistent reviews on albums and shows that don't get much press here or anywhere else. I can't go, so buy Brian a drink for me. If you really want a taste, then go to the pre-show at Ella's tonight to see The Only Sons. They are a solid alt-country band in the Lucero family of bands that should get the place rockin.

On Sunday, hit up the Sunday Morning Market at Hillsborough High School. It is the first market of the season and should be a great one with lots of vendors and amazing weather. It sounds like Greg and Tiffany have some more surprises this year with lots of fresh local produce and even more prepared food vendors. I'll be there loading up on some awesome coffee and hopefully the gumbo that got me hooked last season. We aren't setting up this time around as we are still getting our act together on what we are making these days, but it will be nice to just enjoy the crowd and actually enjoy hanging out with our neighbors. See you there.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Maker Monday - Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations'

Photo of the Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations' Millennium General Assembly by James Hampton from Mike Black on Flickr in the Smithsonian Museum of American Art
[Charles] Washington D.C. can lead to serious museum overload, but I'm really glad we saw so much this weekend! We had a little trip for a family wedding and in the bride's guide to town, this piece of art was listed as her favorite. It is an amazing and arresting installation with an even more unbelievable story. This was the only known piece of art from James Hampton, a DC man that worked as a janitor during the day and built this piece at night in secret. It is constructed from found materials like cardboard, paper, thumb tacks, old furniture pieces, and covered in aluminum foil. It isn't known why he was inspired to create this religiously inspired piece. He worked on it in a rented garage for 14 years and it was only discovered on his death by the landlord. If you want to read more about this, check it out here on the Smithsonian's website. I was struck by the sort of commitment and obsession that something like that would require. Thanks Katie for suggesting it, the whole folk art section of that museum was a highlight of our trip!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Maker Monday - Tiny Details

Photo from Core77
[Charles] Sometimes it's the small details that make all the difference. These light up numbers don't look like much when they are in use, but taken apart they have a really beautiful and timeless look. I love the idea that these were made by engineers years ago and they took the time to not only think of their function but also their form.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday Forecast - Museum Free Day Tomorrow!

[Charles] Tomorrow it is supposed to rain, if you live in Tampa and believe in 60% chances of rain which isn't very committal anyway but whatever. So instead of having a yard sale or going for a run on the beach, why don't you check out that museum you haven't forked over the cash for yet?Most museums these days run in the $15 range for tickets so we're talking $30 savings easy. How does it work? Just head over to the Smithsonian's website and find your museum of interest. Type in some details about yourself and decline all those helpful ads they want to send you and 30 seconds later you'll have a printable flyer in your little inbox. So, if you haven't checked out the new Tampa Museum of Art because "it's too small" or "there's too many greek pots" or whatever, now's your no obligation chance. I am finally going to try and cross that bridge to the St. Pete side of our little bay and check out the Museum of Fine Arts there. I've heard it's really nice, but I'm too cheap to drive over there and drop the coin on it. Here's the link to check out your local options. H/T to Recreating Tampa for the kind words about our shop (lord rest her soul) and the reminder about this event. In Tampa you've got the Ybor History Museum, The Museum of Photographic Arts, The Plant Museum, and the Scarfone Gallery at UT in addition to the TMA so why not take your rainy day on the inside? Insider tip, I know the TMA has a fantastic cafe with gelato on the ground floor. Have a great weekend!

Oh yeah and if you've still got some energy to burn after that, you should really check out Los Amigos Invisibles over at the Crowbar on Saturday. This Venezuelan group is known for a super danceable show that should be a great time. Don't plan to lean on the rail and sip beer at this one.