Over the course of my career I've worked full time and freelanced for a number of publications, writing mostly on music and arts, but also politics, local news, crime, food, and almost anything else you find in a newspaper or magazine. Here is a selection of some of my favorite pieces.
Son Of A Printer Man
Printer’s Son opens with a rising tide. Strings and woodwinds slowly build on each other, culminating first in a loose soundscape, then a subtle melody. This opener – “In Chicago” – is a chameleon. It’s winsome and hopeful, or lonely and sparse. It’s the soundtrack to a pivotal scene, rise or fall. It takes your emotions and expectations and delivers them back to you.
It’s fitting, because Printer’s Son isn’t an album made out of just joy, or just sadness, or just anything. It’s an album that was made out of a years-long journey of rising and falling.
Shane Leonard – the brain and brawn behind Kalispell – started work on Printer’s Son as a record about family, but then his family began changing. He lost his father to cancer, then his grandfather. He moved home to live with his mother and saw the end of a relationship. He put his record on the back burner and went on the road with local standouts Field Report. Then he found love, got married, and just had his first child. All the while, Leonard was slowly building a record, working with his band, inching along what became Printer’s Son.
Thee Oh Sees delivered a sweaty rock show for the ages last night at Riot Room
There was a point, about six songs into Thee Oh Sees’ set last night, where a fan took a step up to the stage and fell backwards into the waiting crowd to begin the most timid stage dive I’ve seen. It was probably the only thing you could call timid during a wild night at Riot Room Saturday.
The packed house got everything they were expecting from Thee Oh Sees – a high energy, stage-dive-able performance. The almost decade-old San Francisco punk rockers put on a start-to-finish blow out, hitting more than 15 songs throughout their catalog and keeping the crowd hanging on every note.
Life In the Slow Lane
I recently started running again. Not from anything in particular, though maybe I’m fleeing from a bit of my winter weight and lackadaisical ways. I used to think of myself as an avid runner. I was on the cross country team in high school (though to be completely honest, that might’ve had more to do with a potential romance than the elation of your feet hitting the sidewalk with a rhythmic pace) and dating even earlier than that I’d run 5Ks and 10-milers with my dad.
But that was an old me. When I moved to Eau Claire in 2008 I quickly forgot about running, first replacing it with biking around town and the occasional game of hoops on campus. Then fitness just became something that simply didn’t exist in my life. The only endurance exercise I was putting in was making it from happy hour to bar close on a Friday.
When we talk about singer-songwriters there’s an image that comes to mind. It’s the guy from Gilmore Girls strumming a guitar with a harmonica around his neck, or a girl in a coffee shop at a keyboard singing slow ballads.
These archetypes grow – if at all – by adding some musicians behind them, maybe amplifying their sound. The rhythmic strums become drumbeats and the whistling melody becomes a synth line. Slowly it builds into a band you wouldn’t recognize from that coffee shop open mic.
Waldemar never started that way.
“I tend to think in terms of grandiose,” frontman and singer-songwriter Gabe Larson said, laughing. “All of a sudden the song explodes in my mind. All the different elements gravitate towards anything but simple.”