Apr 22, 2023
Dec 16, 2022
By Robert Dean
This year felt like a blur – still. The post-COVID timeline, plus things going on in life, have become this miasma where everything kind of happens. There are no “AH-HA” moments of clarity, at least not for me. One of those small breakthroughs this year was finding Zach Bryan.
I didn’t hear about him through the hype train, but he randomly popped up on a Turnpike Troubadours playlist on Spotify. Immediately, I was transfixed by “Oklahoma Smokeshow” and have been hooked on his music since. He’s probably my most significant find of 2022, with Spiritual Cramp being my number two. Spiritual Cramp is a fun, dancey punk band that feels like The Clash at a kegger. Highly suggest you give them a spin. They’re capable of doing great things where bands like Riverboat Gamblers usually play.
It was a bummer we lost Every Time I Die, but happy Tom Delonge is back in Blink 182. Matt Skiba is Alkaline Trio – full stop. The death of Taylor Hawkins sucked, but the outpouring of love and respect was an extraordinary moment to watch. Botch is back, and now, we wait for Coalesce or Fugazi. And the “Pantera” reunion sucks.
Have a good rest of 2022, and I hope for all of us, 2023 is better.
Sep 10, 2022
Apr 12, 2022
Feb 9, 2019
Dec 31, 2018
Dec 29, 2018
Jun 23, 2018
Dec 9, 2017
Aug 30, 2017
Aug 14, 2017
by Robert Dean
Hipster assholes love trashing Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters. For some reason, the guy who played in Nirvana wears a target on his back for shitty Internet comments, and it’s mindboggling. What did the Nice Guy of Rock ever do to you, jerk from Atlanta? Nothing except kick total ass. And you hate him for it.
The Foo Fighters are dad rock as fuck. Sure, the first record rips with its post-Nirvana angst and big, poppy hooks driven from spending a few years with Kurt Cobain, soaking up his aura. But on The Color and The Shape, that was when Dave figured out how to write hits that sounded nothing like Nirvana, and write songs that were dynamic and emotional like "My Hero" or the all time anthem, "Everlong."
But, then they waded into this stream of milquetoast rock and roll records that no matter how hard Dave and company try; they all sound pretty much the same. The songs are big, beefy rock and roll hits. What the Foos crank out are not brash, violent or destroyers – they’re tunes to pump your fist and guzzle a Budweiser to. That’s it. What I think throws people off about The Foo Fighters is the pedigree of what the band features: it’s a guy from Nirvana, a guy from The Germs, and a guy from Sunny Day Real Estate. Sure, Taylor Hawkins played with Alanis Morisette, who’s great in her own right, but not the same acclaim.
The Foo Fighters play arena rock, and that’s it. But, what they’re doing as aside from their shows is what’s worth talking about. The Foo Fighters live like big kids living out their dreams and taking advantage of every acclaim given to them, and it’s amazing. While many rockstars hide away in castles doing questionable shit, these guys are finding new ways to do the things we’ve all dreamt about.
Sonic Highways was a brilliant idea where the band traversed across the country, playing and recording in musical cities that affected the history of the band. We were allowed a snapshot of how the band operates, how it sees their place in the world. Seeing them open the doors of Preservation Hall and play to the crowd gathered outside is incredible. That’s precisely the stuff you want from rock and rollers: they’re giving back instead of relying on hypothetical scenarios.
Then there are the shows they play. If there’s anything that’s neat about huge bands, it’s when they make an effort to mix in some tiny clubs into the massive arenas to give their hardcore fans an intimate experience. That shows the band is about the music, not just the dollars. Recently, the Foo Fighters played The Metro in Chicago, which for many is considered holy ground. It seems like lately, the band has made an effort to play shows in every legendary room in the cities they play in.
Just the same, there’s side projects like Crobot, the videos of them playing in Italy, crushing in small towns when the people made the video of "Learn to Fly." If you haven’t seen that, I suggest watching. It’s heartwarming to know that the band cares and is willing to go there for their fans.
The Foo Fighters have taken every chance to play with their heroes, which is also cool. Considered all of the members of the band have paid their dues hustling in vans and are now playing songs with Paul McCartney or Brian May and are beaming with joy – that’s infectious and shouldn’t be looked down upon. They’re living the dream.
But, at the heart of all of this, is that rock and roll lack leaders and its lacking heroes. We have a few core groups, but they’ve been around forever. No one new is grabbing the reigns.
We need new leaders, but until then, Dave and Co. are doing their best to keep the spirit of the community, the music alive and viable. That’s what we should be focused on, not by how much someone doesn’t like their music. If Foo Fighters were this bland, faceless pack of automatons cranking out dentist rock for cash, the argument could be made of their wackness.
But, I refuse to hear someone slam them on account of what good they do for the nature of the music and what we need as a culture. Rock and roll is a feel good music and needs to re-establish its place in popular culture. We should be so lucky to have Dave Grohl there to say hey when it comes back.
Jun 2, 2017
Feb 20, 2017
One of the hardest things to quantify for me still is the loss of Kurt Cobain. At 35, I think about his music, his legacy, constantly. No single band has done more for me as a person or emotionally as Nirvana. Nirvana has been my favorite band since I was around 11 or 12, I can’t remember a life that’s pre-Nirvana. While I liked other bands and enjoyed all of the other stuff happening in metal, punk, and grunge, Nirvana’s chord struck the loudest. While we’ve had our ebbs and flows of how much I listen to their music, there’s never an argument about their impact on my life. On Kurt Cobain’s 50th birthday, it’s a springboard for a wealth of emotions when thinking about what we lost that spring of 1994.
Nirvana were proud to be outsiders, they did their own thing without remorse, and did so while wearing a coat of many colors. Nirvana’s music was inclusive for everyone who wanted to be a part of the party – whether that sat well with Kurt or not. That was the allure of their music, their presence, they might not have been the best, or the most talented, or whatever, it’s how they made you feel in a world full of bands like Poison or Guns N Roses.
They took punk idealism and made it mainstream. They took what so many bands felt, said and worked toward waving the flag of, and gave it to a generation. Through Nirvana’s social message of Incesticide’s liner notes, seeds were planted:
“At this point, I have a request for our fans. If any of you in any way hate homosexuals, people of different color, or women, please do this one favor for us - leave us the fuck alone! Don't come to our shows and don't buy our records.”
When I was a kid, I re-read and obsessed about every lyric, every thought. Reading this helped me see the world wasn’t my white neighborhood full of working class, Irish tough guys. For many of us, we needed that. We needed to know about sub-cultures, genres outside the mainstream. Nirvana broke that door wide open. Every song just wasn’t some garbage about fucking chicks. We were getting a message what it felt like to be an outsider, when we may have not realized our social status. That’s why the music still endures, because of its honesty in spite of the platform.
While some laud Kurt as nothing more than an over-hyped junkie, I saw him as a figurehead that mirrored my problems. While yes, they were my favorite band at the time of his death, was resonated more was my sense of personal loss. When Kurt Cobain committed suicide, my grandmother had passed away from cancer at 54 a month earlier. I’d lost one of the most important people in my life, arguably just as important as either of my parents and now, my hero was dead, too. I compounded both losses into one mutated ache. Nirvana’s music became more than enjoying angst. It became about loss and recovery. With the tired cliché of “your music got me through so much” as a footnote to life, it’s true for me – I leaned on the death of Kurt Cobain as another way to process the loss of someone I’d loved so much. When I sang those songs, they weren’t anthems of jaded youth, but trying to process a world I wasn’t close to understanding, and in a lot of ways, I still don’t.
All of this music hit me like a sledgehammer. It was a good time to be a kid in the 90’s. I got all of the rock and roll I could take, in all of its forms. Punk made me socially aware, Rage Against The Machine paved the way for my passion for politics. But, Nirvana’s music was raw, it was powerful, and hadn’t suffered from a slump. A lot of bands release crappy albums, but not Nirvana. Like the Beatles, the loss of Kurt encapsulated the music, so it’s one vision, forever. We’ll always be left asking what and why, and what could’ve been.
Looking back on Kurt Cobain’s legacy, we’ve got so much to consider. So many feelings to sift through. While yeah, to many he was just a guy who killed himself. For us watching MTV like it was CNN in 1994, we watch Kurt Loder break the news that it was over, he was gone.
It’s still so hard to fathom, to consider, or to place your finger on why it felt like a dagger in the heart. Rock stars are meant to feel bigger than life, but Kurt felt like he was as big as your living room. It was his aloof attitude of the fame, or maybe it was despite being a millionaire with oodles of power, they didn’t follow up Nevermind with a slick collection of hits; instead, it was In Utero, which DGC thought would ruin the band. It didn’t. It only made them more endearing to what they were, verse perceived to be. Who else would take a platform as big as theirs, as the biggest band in the world, and write songs like Rape Me or Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle? Who else would 'squander' their precious Unplugged taping and fill it with obscure cover songs, only for it to become a heart-wrenching classic, which defined the medium as a whole? That was their power and vision.
The world has changed considerably since Nirvana. But, we still adore their legacy, and new generations of kids still see Kurt Cobain as a mile marker to their growth. Those words, the moodiness of the music, it’s not dated, it only gets better with time. In a world of sell outs, they never did, and they’re not in soap commercials, or selling Nikes to assholes. Nirvana is still pure. We honor Kurt’s memory by remembering he was the one to tell us we weren’t alone, even when he was gone. A scared kid who’d just lost the woman who took him to buy In Utero for his birthday needed that.
That’s why we love Nirvana, and we love Kurt Cobain – he was many things, and now, he’s an icon, but he’s still managed to do something after death: remain yours, no matter how many times he’s been shared amongst friends.
Happy birthday, Kurt. We miss you so much.
Feb 14, 2017
Feb 20, 2015
Oct 14, 2014
Sep 4, 2014
Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years
Austin, TX—September 4, 2014—The landmark PBS series Austin City Limits (ACL) highlights four decades as a music institution with Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years, a primetime special honoring the program's milestone 40th anniversary, airing Friday, October 3rd, 9-11pm ET on PBS Arts Fall Festival. With guest hosts Jeff Bridges, Sheryl Crow and Matthew McConaughey, the two-hour broadcast features memorable moments from the trailblazing show's remarkable run, while the brightest stars in the series' history return to the ACL stage for dream duets and choice collaborations. Ready to write the next chapter in its storied history, ACL’s Season 40 premieres on October 4th with an epic hour from an American original, musician/songwriter Beck.
An all-star lineup of ACL royalty pays tribute to the show's enduring legacy with unforgettable music performances in Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years. Highlights of the special include the show opener as Bonnie Raitt, Alabama Shakes' Brittany Howard, Jimmie Vaughan and Gary Clark Jr. team up for the Sam & Dave classic “Wrap It Up”. Incredible pairings include ACL Hall of Fame legend Willie Nelson and Emmylou Harris on the Nelson-penned classic “Crazy” and Kris Kristofferson and Sheryl Crow's moving take on his signature “Me and Bobby McGee”. The Foo Fighters honor ACL with a wild rendition of Texas cult hero Roky Erickson's "Two Headed Dog," recorded at the show's original television studio especially for the occasion. Host Jeff Bridges performs the late singer-songwriter Stephen Bruton's song “What A Little Bit of Love Can Do” as a tribute to the influential Austin musician who inspired Bridges’ Oscar-winning portrayal in Crazy Heart. Local legends Joe Ely and Robert Earl Keen showcase their troubadour roots and significance to the Austin music scene. Breakout artists and ACL alumni Alabama Shakes and Gary Clark Jr. give blistering performances that forecast the future of the series. Blues titan Buddy Guy brings it all home with an electrifying take on his “Mary Had A Little Lamb”. The special comes to a close with an all-star reading of two Lone Star classics—a stellar lineup of guitar slingers blaze through the Stevie Ray Vaughan standard “Texas Flood” and the biggest names in music trade verses on the Buddy Holly classic “Not Fade Away", as ACL embraces its past and hints at what is to come.
"This is a huge milestone for us,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona, “and this show captures the essence of what Austin City Limits is all about. We set the bar high for this celebration, and we exceeded it! The lineup of talent speaks volumes about the respect that artists have for ACL.”
Artists performing on the special are: Alabama Shakes, Doyle Bramhall II, Jeff Bridges, Gary Clark Jr., Sheryl Crow, Double Trouble, Joe Ely, Mike Farris, Foo Fighters, Grupo Fantasma, Buddy Guy, Emmylou Harris, Robert Earl Keen, Kris Kristofferson, Lyle Lovett, Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, Robert Randolph, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Jimmie Vaughan.
Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years was taped at ACL Live at the Moody Theater, and the program's original television studio, Austin PBS station KLRU's Studio 6A.
Austin City Limits (ACL) is the longest-running music series in American television history and remains the only TV series to be awarded the National Medal of Arts. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the pilot episode taped in 1974 with Willie Nelson. Since its inception, the pioneering music series has become an institution that's helped secure Austin's reputation as the Live Music Capital of the World. The historic KLRU Studio 6A, home to 36 years of ACL concerts, has been designated an official Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Landmark. In 2011, ACL moved to the new venue ACL Live at The Moody Theater in downtown Austin. ACL received a rare institutional Peabody Award for excellence and outstanding achievement in 2012.
Austin City Limits Celebrates 40 Years setlist:
Bonnie Raitt, Brittany Howard, Jimmie Vaughan & Gary Clark Jr. | “Wrap It Up”
Bonnie Raitt | “Your Good Thing (Is About to End)”
Kris Kristofferson & Sheryl Crow | “Me and Bobby McGee”
Alabama Shakes | “Gimme All Your Love”
Jeff Bridges | “What A Little Bit of Love Can Do”
Willie Nelson | “Whiskey River”
Willie Nelson & Lyle Lovett | “Funny How Time Slips Away”
Willie Nelson & Emmylou Harris | “Crazy”
Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris & Lyle Lovett | “On the Road Again”
Robert Earl Keen & Joe Ely | “The Road Goes On Forever”
Gary Clark Jr. | “Bright Lights”
Foo Fighters | “Two Headed Dog (Red Temple Prayer)”
Sheryl Crow |“Can't Cry Anymore”
Doyle Bramhall & Sheryl Crow | “I'm Leaving”
Grupo Fantasma | “Mulato”
Jimmie Vaughan & Bonnie Raitt | “The Pleasure's All Mine”
Kenny Wayne Shepherd & Mike Farris | “House Is Rockin'”
Robert Randolph | “Pride and Joy”
Buddy Guy | “Mary Had A Little Lamb”
All-Star Finale | “Texas Flood”
All-Star Finale | “Not Fade Away”