Comfort those closest, entertain the rest.
Read (and loved) Austin Kleon’s book, Steal Like An Artist. Doing a variation of his family tree idea - these are the guys I’m being influenced by right now. “How great cloud of witnesses,” as it were…

Read (and loved) Austin Kleon’s book, Steal Like An Artist. Doing a variation of his family tree idea - these are the guys I’m being influenced by right now. “How great cloud of witnesses,” as it were…

Sunday Valley is dead, long live Sunday Valley

In 2003, shortly after my first wife decided she’d rather live in California than Kentucky, my buddy Leo decided I needed to get out of the house and stop feeling sorry for myself. We went to dinner, went to a hockey game, and then ran by a little bar named High On Rose to see his friend’s band, Sunday Valley. I had no idea, that night, I would be seeing one of my favorite bands ever for the first time.


Sunday Valley, at the time, was four guys - Stu, Gerald, Eddie, and Billy. They wore overalls, cowboys hats, and played this strange form of rock/country/punk music that I didn’t have words for. For a while, in those early days, whenever someone would write about the band, they would always throw out these high concept descriptions of the music. Eventually it felt like everybody quit trying to pin it down and just enjoyed it for what it was - really great music.


Soon after that first show, I went on a mission to introduce everybody I knew to this band. I can’t remember ever taking anybody to one of their shows that didn’t immediately become a fan. I don’t know how many times Sunday Valley played The Dame before it was torn down - but I feel like I have a million distinct memories of seeing them there, with my best friends around me, singing, dancing, and laughing. Some of my favorite adult memories happened at their concerts.


I also don’t know how many times over their career the band actually broke up. In my foggy, highly unreliable memory, it seems like it was more than once. How ever many times it happened, I always took it hard. And I was always excited every time they got back together or put on a reunion show. In the lean times, between shows, I survived on every recording I could get my hands on - be it their early studio recording, their Red Barn Radio show, or some sketchy bootleg my buddy Paul got a hold of.


A little while ago Sara arranged for the band to do a private birthday show for my friend Erin and me. It was an incredible night. For the first time I got to interact with the band on a personal level - and get to know them as a group of genuinely nice guys.


The last couple of years have been full of a lot of big moments for Sunday Valley - a tour, a new album, a move to Nashville, old members leaving, new member joining. I’ve watched the whole thing from a distance and wished nothing but good things for the guys.


So, of course I was really sad this morning to see the following announcement posted on the band’s official Facebook page:


Welp kids,…Lord knows it’s been a long road with a great many tears of joy and sadness and some very hard lessons learned but I know I speak for all four original members of Sunday Valley when I say we gave it everything we had and then some. Out of respect and honor for Billy, Gerald, & Eddie and the sacrifices we all have made for this thing over the years, I could never under any circumstances feel good about continuing my musical journey under the Sunday Valley name. There are no words I can think of that would possibly express our love and appreciation for you all and your support over the last 8 years…it means more than you could ever know. New band, new sound, new album coming very soon…as they say, the next chapter is always better, that’s why we turn the page.
“To the wind and on to heaven…”


For me, this really is the end of an era. That’s not to say I’m not excited to see what comes next for each of the guys. They’re all talented musicians and have an automatic fan in me - but Sunday Valley was big for me. They are inextricably tied to the year I really crawled out from under a broken heart. They were the first band to help me see there was more to country music than the crap you hear on the radio. They were a connection to the music I grew up around. They made me proud of this city and it’s music scene.


So, pull your hat down over your eyes to hide the tears, and raise your glass in the air. Thank God for great local music and thank God for Sunday Valley. Let’s see what’s next.

You Are What You Eat - 2011

Earlier in the year I posted a quote from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, “We are shaped and fashioned by what we love.” Makes sense. Here’s what shaped and fashioned me this year:

Early in the year I discovered Film Riot - an internet video podcast starring Ryan Connely and his crew of misfit filmmakers. Every week they dissect film making techniques - often by tackling requests sent in by readers to figure out how to reproduce big budget effects on a DIY budget. They never fail to be entertaining or useful.

I also found Vimeo’s Video School to be pretty useful. The information there can be a little elementary at times, but since they seek to address aspiring filmmakers at every experience level, that only make sense.

Moving from the web to television, Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations was essential viewing. I’ve always loved the show, but this year, in it’s seventh season, it took on an almost religious significance for me. It started with the Haiti episode. There was just something about the scene where Bourdain tried to buy food for a bunch of hungry kids and inadvertantly caused a minor riot - his willingness to show how a seemingly benign act of philanthropy could spin out of control, that our actions, no matter how pure hearted, do not exist in a contextless vacuum. It felt like journalism. It felt like a man making television with nothing to prove. If you can take that kind of honesty and couple it with food porn that’s good TV.

This year also saw the release of a second show from Bourdain called The Layover. It’s presumably filmed on Bourdain’s actual layovers as he travels the globe filming No Reservations. It features Bourdain telling you the best places to eat, sleep, and drink in various cities. It’s No Reservation’s less heady, less serious little brother. I wasn’t hooked by the first episode (Singapore). No problem, I thought, I still have No Reservations. No sense being greedy. But the second episode featured Bourdain in New York, his home base, and it was awesome. It was a Bourdain we rarely see; smiling, comfortable, almost giddy. The best part was him arguing with some poor schlub in hamburger joint about whether you could get good sushi in New York. Hooked.

The Layover features a very different editing style from No Reservations. One I stole from liberally (though poorly)

Moving from the small screen to the big one - I saw a lot of movies in the theater this year - but not nearly enough for my liking - and not nearly enough that really blew my socks off. Here’s what I saw that I liked, though:

Thor and Captain America were both childhood dreams come true, Hanna kept me glued to the screen and looked nice doing it, X-Men: First Class was a nice way to re-imagine a dull franchise, Horrible Bosses was genuinely funny (instead of genuinely grueling like The Hangover 2), True Grit was the western we’ve all wanted for a few years now, and Driver was unexpectedly stylish, compelling, and sad (it’s larger here by random, not because it was my favorite movie by any means).

Musically, I had a lot of favorite bands release new albums this year but none of them truly stood out for me. Instead the highlights of my year musically were all live. First of all there was seeing The Mountain Goats live for the first time at Mercy Lounge in Nashville. Sara loves John Darnielle but had kind of a bad night so out of respect of her, I won’t go on and on about this one:

Next was discovering local boy made good, Vandaveer. Sara and I had a front row table for his show at Natasha’s back in the summer. It was the perfect way to experience a perfect show:

Later in the summer my friends Dan and Jen and I sat with about 30 other people at The Green Lantern and got to hear These United States rehearse a bunch of new songs before taking them into the studio. As far as good shows go, you can’t get much better than that:

Finally, my buddy Paul had his birthday party at Cosmic Charlies at the end of the summer on the same night that one of his favorite bands, Ha Ha Tonka was playing. The band not only sang Happy Birthday to Paul, they let him get on stage and mumble into a microphone for about the minutes while they played. Nicest band ever? Quite possibly:

Oh yeah! I almost forgot! This was also the year that my favorite local band, Sunday Valley, released their first new material in years. It was a great album and cause for celebration:

I watch a lot of TV, see a lot of movies, and listen to a lot of music in a given year - but more than any of those, I read comics. All kinds of comics. What did I read this year that I loved? Glad you asked. 2011 saw the release of the first new issues of Casanova in years. Issue 2, by creators Matt Fraction and Gabriel Ba, in particular was comic book magic:

Fraction is my favorite writer in comics. As such, he created more than one book I really liked this year. For instance, his third issue of Mighty Thor was probably the best comic I read all year. It had it all: Norse Gods in space armor, Galactus, naked sword play, Silver Surfer saying cool stuff, Olivier Coipel. That’s a comic!

Other things I loved: Supernatural western, Sixth Gun from Oni Press

Mini comic Wolves from Becky Cloonan:

Weird fantasy book Orc Stain:

There was tons more, but space is limited.

What about books without pictures?

Anthony Bourdain makes good TV and writes good books. This year I read and loved his memoirs Medium Raw:

I also thoroughly enjoyed Blood, Bones & Butter, by chef Gabriel Hamilton:

Notice how both the books I mentioned were more or less about food? I love food. So it only make sense to mention some of the great meals I had this year. Cooking is as much of an art as writing or creating music or films after all.

This year Sara and I discovered Nick Ryan’s Saloon in downtown Lexington and had the best braised short ribs ever:

Our other great discovery was Nicaraguan Latin Grille, a little whole in the wall that blew out socks off:

We also went to Azure, home of local culinary star, Jermy Ashby, and had an incredible seven course meal. Below is just one of the delicious plates:

Then there was Hawaii. We had a lot of great Hawaiin food. Too much to get into, but suffice to say, I now have a deep abiding appreciation for macaroni salad:

There were tons more from tons of great restaurants like Cheng’s , Pho BC, Sam’s Hot Dogs, Planet Thai, Ramirez’ Taqueria, Local Taco, Doodles, Rossi’s, Ramsey’s, Winchell’s, Marikka’s, and El Rancho Tapitio.

Well, that’s it. That was what I ate in 2011. That’s what I loved, took in, digested, and was shaped by. Except for the dozen or so things I will think of as soon as I hit the “post” button.

On to 2012!

10 In 20 - A Lexington recording project

"Ten groups of established Lexington musicians each spend two days collaborating on an original track with producer Duane Lundy at Shangri-la Studios. An organic process affirms artists’ distinctive songwriting and musical roots, while painting a broader creative landscape. Monthly debuts of new songs build toward a vinyl album release in 2012."

Love this idea! And the first three bands? Three of my favorites: Coralee And The Townies, Matt Duncan, and Sunday Valley!

Sunday Valley CD release party

Last night Sunday Valley had a CD release party for their new album, To The Wind and On To Heaven, at Cosmic Charley’s. It was a great show with several special guest, including Sara’s favorite local artist, Coralee of Coralee and the Townies.

I took the Canon T2i and a recently purchased Zoom H4N and did a little recording. It was my first time out with the Zoom so I was really feeling my way through recording in the field. I was able to get very close to the stage, but was unfortunately right in front of the speaker cluster. Not really an ideal setting for recording good audio. I ended up cranking the gain down to a dangerously low level, then raising the volume and normalizing it in Sound Booth. It actually turned out half way decent, I think. Especially compared to the audio the camera itself captured.

Enough jargon, here’s the videos. More to come tomorrow:

This one has some salty language at the beginning, so be warned - don’t watch it with your boss/kids/grandmother in the room.

I would have like to have gotten more in the way of complete songs, but crowd and conditions being what they were, this was the best I could do. Enjoy.

Sunday Valley is local and one of my favorite bands ever. They’re also a great bunch of guys. You can download their debut CD, To The Wind And On To Heaven, at this link. Also, here’s a little taste of what you’ll get. They’re truly three of the best players in town and are doing something very unique to Kentucky.

  • Track: Never Go To Town Again
  • Artist: Sunday Valley
  • Album: To The Wind and On To Heaven
I saw an artist do this and really liked the idea.  Something about seeing the things that influence you all in one place.  There’s not much new on here if you know me - these are things that I enjoy, but that also influence me.

-Casanova is my favorite comic book at this point in my life.  It’s one of the most visually interesting books being published these days, it has an actual point of view, and you can feel the love Fraction and the twins put into the book.  It makes me want to create something that is uniquely me.

-Good Eats inspires me with it’s pure inventiveness.  A cooking show that uses science to explain food preparation should be really boring, but Alton Brown has created the most unique cooking show ever with Good Eats.  The show is also a primer on clear storytelling.

-No Reservations feels like art.  It’s a television show that follows a romantic old curmudgeon as he eats and drinks his way around the world but it feels like art.  That’s quite a trick.

-Donald Miller communicates about a divisive topic (faith) in a way that is accessible, authentic-feeling, and interesting.  We should all be so talented.  

-Paul Pope is a futurist, an artist, and a thinker.  He can apply those skills to stories about super heroes or to stories about girls and make you want to read both.

-The Soup appeals to me because I like it’s sense of  humor, it’s simply done, and it follows a deadline similar to the ones I work under.

-Sunday Valley is a local band.  Their music is very distinctly Kentucky.  It’s rock/country/blues that’s firmly rooted in the past.  I like the idea of three great players taking something old and putting their own stamp on it.

-Scott Pilgrim Vs The World has been out since summer, but over the last few days, re-watching it on DVD, I’ve started to fall in love with it visually.  

After making this, I realized I need to start being influenced by some graphic designers.

I saw an artist do this and really liked the idea. Something about seeing the things that influence you all in one place. There’s not much new on here if you know me - these are things that I enjoy, but that also influence me.

-Casanova is my favorite comic book at this point in my life. It’s one of the most visually interesting books being published these days, it has an actual point of view, and you can feel the love Fraction and the twins put into the book. It makes me want to create something that is uniquely me.

-Good Eats inspires me with it’s pure inventiveness. A cooking show that uses science to explain food preparation should be really boring, but Alton Brown has created the most unique cooking show ever with Good Eats. The show is also a primer on clear storytelling.

-No Reservations feels like art. It’s a television show that follows a romantic old curmudgeon as he eats and drinks his way around the world but it feels like art. That’s quite a trick.

-Donald Miller communicates about a divisive topic (faith) in a way that is accessible, authentic-feeling, and interesting. We should all be so talented.

-Paul Pope is a futurist, an artist, and a thinker. He can apply those skills to stories about super heroes or to stories about girls and make you want to read both.

-The Soup appeals to me because I like it’s sense of humor, it’s simply done, and it follows a deadline similar to the ones I work under.

-Sunday Valley is a local band. Their music is very distinctly Kentucky. It’s rock/country/blues that’s firmly rooted in the past. I like the idea of three great players taking something old and putting their own stamp on it.

-Scott Pilgrim Vs The World has been out since summer, but over the last few days, re-watching it on DVD, I’ve started to fall in love with it visually.

After making this, I realized I need to start being influenced by some graphic designers.