"To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield"
- Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1833

"live deep and suck out all the marrow of life"
- Henry David Thoreau, 1845

"Some guys, they just give up living
And start dying little by little, piece by piece
Some guys come home from work and wash up,
And go racin' in the streets."
- Bruce Springsteen, 1977

"...to the heart, there's no time for you to waste.
You won't find your precious answers now
by staying in one place."
- Frank Turner, 2009

"The best things in life aren't things.
They're living and breathing."
- Michael Franti , 2011

"I owned every second that this world could give,
I saw so many places, the things that I did"
- Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic, 2014

All written content and photos by Rob Fulfer unless otherwise indicated.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Wall-WOWers

Sunday, August 30th, 2009
Our "Summer of Music & Laughs" as we have dubbed the slew of concerts we are seeing this year continued tonight after dinner at one of our favorite places, Fulin's Asian Cuisine in Mt. Juliet. It was a beautiful evening for late August with low humidity in downtown Nashville as we arrived at The Cannery and Mercy Lounge (photo above) to see The Wallflowers perform. The Cannery/Mercy Lounge is one of our favorite venues in Nashville. As the name implies it's a converted historic manufacturing building that at one time served as an actual cannery. It has two levels: The Cannery downstairs is a large open general admission area with an elevated stage and good sight lines throughout. The acoustics are not bad considering the low ceilings. It has a large bar with decent prices and even a food menu. There are booths located behind the bar as well if you want have a seat. The Mercy Lounge located upstairs is a smaller and more intimate space. It has a few tables but most of the area is standing-room-only close to the small stage with good acoustics.
Our friend, Beth (pictured here with Ashlee), joined us as did a very large crowd to see Bob's baby boy, Jakob Dylan, and his band crank out some of their most memorable tunes. The band recently released a greatest hits album and while The Wallflowers were on an extended hiatus before that, Jakob Dylan has continued to perform either solo or with his other touring band, The Gold Mountain Rebels, who we saw at Bonnaroo year before last. With some noticeable slight tweakings of their original hits, The Wallflowers played for an hour and a half sprinkling in "Sleepwalker"- "6th Avenue Heartache"- "One Headlight"- "Three Marlenas" and closing in encore with "The Only Difference." They sounded great and Dylan's voice is as pure as ever - not the raspy, nasal-driven sound of his dad - sorry Bob.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fishy Fantasy Football

It's football time in Tennessee!!!!...and in Indiana...and in Louisiana...and in Texas as we celebrated our tenth anniversary tonight of playing fantasy football online with some old and new friends. We had our live draft tonight for the upcoming season and a couple of the team managers were able to join us for an impromptu party at our house during the proceedings. Pictured below pouring over player info on their laptops are our friends, Nate and Casey along with Ashlee showing off one of her previous first place trophies from the league. Other local team managers include our friends Nathan, Mitchell and Wayne. Down in Chattanooga are our friends, Patrick and Brian. Representing the rest of the country are our friends Hal, out in Dallas, Jared up in Indiana, and J.D. down in Louisiana. We've actually never met Jared or J.D. They joined our league anonymously as we were just getting started and were looking for anyone to fill up the league, and they have been with us ever since. We talk a lot online to each other and we feel like we know them. We hope to one day all meet in person. It's all for fun and bragging rights...for the most part. We do have a little $20 side-bet action going on each season for those who want to participate, and for the last few years we've been giving out a trophy of some sort to the league winner. This year's participation in the side-bet swelled to 10 players creating a pretty nice purse, and the wall-art trophy pictured below will go to the winner. The fish theme is indeed a part of our fantasy football league. It comes from a good-spirited argument when the league started and was named the Burgess Falls Fantasy Football League by Rob and his best friend, Craig, who is sitting it out this year. They used to fish at Burgess Falls while in college for a small gamey fish that inhabits the Falling Water River known locally as rock bass and/or redeye. Rob and Craig decided to name their respective teams after the fierce little fighters and a tradition was born. So I guess you could say that this year marks our 10-year anniPERCHary.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Music, music, beer, beer.

We've had a nice cluster of activities over the past week or so that including some great music, seeing some good friends and the partaking of some good beer. It all started on Sunday night, August 16th, when we returned to the infamous 3rd & Lindsley Bar & Grill to see Edwin McCain perform. This was the strange, little place where we saw Better Than Ezra the previous month and weren't overly impressed with the weird, cramped layout, and the fact that we arrived an hour before the show and still could not find a seat without a restricted view of the stage. We remedied that this time by arriving when the doors opened two hours before the show. We got a decent table downstairs and the long wait began. Luckily for us, our friends Beth and Sharon decided to come along and we passed the time fairly easily with dinner and conversation. An Irish balladeer by the name of Paul Freeman, opened for Edwin with a short set and he was pretty good. Edwin got on stage at 9 PM exactly (they were broadcasting his performance live on the local indie station, Lightning 100, as part of their ongoing Sunday Night Live Series). With his long locks of the mid-90's cut to a close-cropped hairstyle and an opening ballad about the feelings surrounding the birth of a child which we assume was his own, Edwin McCain is aging gracefully, but his amazing voice is as clear as ever. The hits he is known for preceded afterwards that with "I'll Be" and "Could Not Ask For More" bringing the biggest applause. He included some old-time R&B covers as well that truly showed his vocal range. It was a great show and worth all the trouble, but will it be again? We both agreed driving home after the event that it will really have to be a special performance for us to ever endure the "3rd & Lindsley experience" again. A 2-hour wait for a mediocre view of the stage, cramped quarters, so-so food and not the greatest ventilation system leads us to believe we won't be back anytime soon to this weird (but not wonderful) venue. Friday, August 21st - Around lunchtime we took the afternoon off from work and headed toward northern Atlanta to hook up with our old/new friends, Will and Jenna, to attend the O.A.R. concert with one of our Bonnarooo favorites, Brett Dennen, opening for them. When we say old/new friends, we mean that while we have been friends with Will and Jenna for a couple of years now, we also haven't seen them in those couple of years and only knew them a week or so before that when we meet on a Mediterranean cruise. They just happened to be sat at the same large dining table each evening on the boat that we were, and we struck up a conversation and friendship fairly quickly thanks to their great great personalities. The two-year hiatus and brief history together didn't phase the four of us a bit as we fell right back into laughter-filled comraderie when we arrived at their lovely house a half-hour north of Atlanta. We loaded up in Jenna's car and headed for the fairly-new Verizon Amphitheatre located in Alpharetta. The facility is very nice and our designated parking area was only a short walk to the general admission "mosh pit" area in front of the stage. After securing a large double-beer for each of us we arrived in a good location close to center stage a couple of songs into Brett's set (photo below). When we saw Brett at Bonnaroo back in June it was on one of their smallest stages and very intimate despite being outdoors. He seemed a little lost on this huge amphitheatre stage here and the somewhat rowdy crowd awaiting O.A.R. He even got visibly upset at two people who were evidently fighting in the crowd during his set. "This is a *#@&ing concert! It should be about peace and happiness, not fighting!" he pleaded. While Brett's music is similar to O.A.R.'s in some ways: generally happy and positive in tone, simple in structure and heartfelt in delivery; it seemed an odd pairing for this setting. This crowd was definitely here for O.A.R. and the energy and fervor that would follow when they took the stage was amazing. This was our first live O.A.R. experience. We had been kicking ourselves for missing them at Bonnaroo two years ago after hearing and really liking some of their newer hits that are currently gettimg some well-deserved airplay. We were definitely in the minority of familiarity with all their songs as the crowd around us loudly sang along to every word of every song. The beauty and bubbly personalities of Ashlee and Jenna allowed them to inch even closer to the stage leaving the guys to stand their ground among the much-younger throbbing crowd. We joined the sing-a-long when the songs we recognized most were played including electrifying performances of the very popular "Shattered (Turn the Car Around)" - their first real hit "Love and Memories" - their newest hit and great concert anthem "This Town" - and and their signature crowd-pleaser "Crazy Game of Poker." (photo below) The following lyrics from "Shattered (Turn the Car Around)" could not have been more appropriate as an incredible thunderstorm and torrential downpour erupted during the concert. Thank goodness for the oovered pavilion that left us dry (except for sweat). "Stumble out, in the night From the pouring rain Made the block, sat and thought There's more I need It's always back to you" We were all exhausted after the 2-hour plus performance by O.A.R. and the walk back to the car seemed longer in the rain that had let up from the storm that had passed but was still coming down at a steady pace. We were also all hungry and decided to invade a local Waffle House for the kind of greasy sustenance only they can deliver. Will and Jenna were gracious enough to let us spend the night at their place and share the spare bedroom with Mr. Miaggi, their pet bearded lizard (yes, he was in a cage). The next morning we were up bright and...well, it was bright and sunny when we woke up, but not early. We would have loved to spend more time with Will and Jenna (and we vow to in the future), but we had to head back to Chattanooga because we had tickets to the 15th Annual Southern Brewer's Fest that afternoon. This great event is held at Ross' Landing downtown on the Tennessee River and features craft beer brewers from all over the country with an emphasis obviously from its name on the Southeast. The festival seems to grow each year with more breweries represented and more activities going on besides just the best one...the drinking. This year's festival growth included a least four new brewers (see Rob's beer blog for more detailed info on the beer), more musical peformances and a preliminary round of the National Krystal Hamburger Eating Contest which we arrived just in time to watch. The winner from the dozen participants was a skinny kid out of New Jersey who was sporting a mohawk and was ranked 2nd in the world in competitive eating (that's an honor evidently) according to the announcer. Eight minutes later we saw why he had that ranking - he ate 4 of their big Angus burgers and 42 of their little square ones - it was the most amazing and at the same time the most disgusting thing we had ever seen. He won by a country mile over the rest of the competitors and along witth a trophy he got entry in the world championship round being held next month in Chattanooga with a $50,000 first prize...how much does a stomach pump cost? We ended the week of friends, music and beer with more beer and more friends as a large group of us gathered at the Blue Plate Restaurant adjacent to the festival for more fun deep into the night including a quick trip out to the lake to see the new boat (who are we kidding - the thing's a yacht!!) recently purchased by our friends, Tiff and Brenda. It's a beautiful vessel and hopefully in the near future we will have a blog entry about a nice outing upon it as well.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Running Away with "The Circus"

The musical circus came to town tonight and set up shop in the historic Ryman Auditorium. It was time for the SOLD OUT Saturday Night Rebel Rockers Traveling Circus & Medicine Show. The three "ring"leaders (pictured below from left to right) - hey, so that's where that word came from - were veteran island-groove rocker, Michael Franti; lead singer of Counting Crows, Adam Duritz; and one of our personal favs, Dan Layus of Augustana. This unique format of concert forgoes the normal routine of opening bands performing their sets followed by featured artists. Instead these wonderfully diverse bands mingled in various combinations throughout the show including all members of all three bands (that's eighteen musicians - playing at the same time on the Ryman stage (photo below). These jam sessions definitely resembled a three-ring circus with great performances from one end of the stage to the other leaving the spectators constantly scanning the scene trying to take it all in and not miss a thing. These complete-ensemble performances included an opening number of Van Morrison's quite appropriate "Caravan." All three bands also did their own "mini-sets" throughout the evening. and since we are biased due to our love for Augustana, we voted theirs the best including the accapella version of "Sweet and Low" which sounded amazing in the pitch-perfect acoustics of The Ryman. We both like and appreciate Counting Crows and they did not disappoint with great performances especially by frontman, Duritz. Michael Franti and his band, Spearhead, were a real surprise to us since we had not seen them before and only recently heard of them despite the fact they have been around for over 20 years. They made the most of their first visit to the Ryman and amazingly, Nashville itself, with high-energy performances including their recent first Top 40 hit, "Say Hey (I Love You)." The show lasted over three hours with a brief (but very appreciated) intermission between the two "acts." We sat in the balcony almost dead center with a great view of the stage, but it was a bit warm with the summer temps and the wall to wall bodies. We met our friends, Emily and David, for the show, and we were lucky to sell two more tickets at face-value that we had to a nice couple after our friend, Carolyn (the doctor) had a last-minute emergency and couldn't make it. Too bad, she's missed a great night under The Ryman Big Top. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pmJQDiliOYE