Tag Archives: Blind Melon

THE MELONS IN BARCELONA

It was half year ago when Blind Melon tour dates calling Spanish cities were confirmed. I didn’t stop and think twice and purchased the ticket as soon as they were available thinking of the possibility of being sold quickly out after the amazing and emotive show many of us lived at Azkena Rock Festival in 2008.

Unfortunately I was wrong. I didn’t have in mind on one hand that we’re not in the 1990’s anymore and many of their former fans are in many cases pater familiae or just forgot about their rock past, and on the other that people get very passionate in festivals, but in real life with just one time in their music curriculum is enough of the experience, and considering the wide offer of shows in Barcelona this month, the economy tightness affecting everybody and many other circumstances, Apolo theatre was at barely 2/3 of its capacity. Pity!

I have to admit I almost sold my ticket, fearing this show wouldn’t be as special as the previous one, and because wasn’t ready for disappointment of any sort coming from a band I’ve loved so much. I told you in my previous post that I was more excited for seeing Abandon Jalopy, and this was the main reason, FEAR. I had a buyer already and almost sold it, also for the money to allow me to buy another ticket for another show, but at the end of the day someone convinced me not to make such a terrible mistake I’d probably would regret for the rest of my life.

The previous night I had attended Jim Wilson’s and mighty Dan Baird’s show after being invited by Manny, their European tour manager. It was completely unexpected and I really enjoyed the show, especially Baird’s. My soul brother Gonzalo is a diehard fan and I just had seen Baird with The Georgia Satellites many years ago, and his solo project also long ago, thus it was a great surprise and I loved the performance from top to bottom. Very powerful show, pure rock and balls.

After the show I was having a beer and something to eat at our meeting point, a bar named Can Eusebio, which has Budweiser and bravas (Spanish potatoes in mayo and spicy sauce) on special offer. Jonny Kaplan, Brad Smith and Kevin Haaland were having tapas like craze, and both Jonny and Brad stood up to greet me and they introduced me to Chris (Thorn!). They told me about their day off, changing hotels and taking it easy before the Big Night.

As I’ve always been a bit cheeky, in a good sense, and was a great opportunity, I threw this question to Brad: What were we to expect from Blind Melon on Wednesday?

The answer was that we wouldn’t get disappointed, and they had decided an hour and fifteen-twenty minutes set. “Make it one thirty”, I said, making him laugh. It was going to make us enjoy and travel back in time, thus I read For My Friends album wasn’t to be much present.

Wednesday arrived and I was nervous anyway, very optimistic after my chat with Brad. I knew for sure i was going to enjoy, still I was afraid to lose the emotion I experienced years back. Nah! Unnecessary worries which diminish thanks to Jonny Kaplan’s songs during his opening act. The rhythm, the set list, the vibe, the attitude of Blind Melon and the atmosphere were perfect, surrounded by the regular troop I’m usually joining for the shows, I couldn’t ask for more.

The band chose Soup’s 2 X 4 to open the night, however the set list was mostly based on their debut album, Blind Melon including 9 songs, from Change and Sleepy House, to Soak The Sin, No Rain or Paper Scratcher. The absence of songs from Nico, with only Soup, and For My Friends, was balanced with 6 songs from Soup. Mouthful of Cavities really gave me the creeps, Skinned sounded awesome, and closing the show with Galaxie, in my humble opinion, was the best decision ever. It’s great to see the band supports Brad Smith’s project, who invited his pal Kevin to come up on stage to play the beautiful I Won’t Be The Same as the first encore song. I have to say this songs really moves me, and I can’t keep it out of my head these days. I’d say it’s in my top #3 singles of the year. Honest.

I don’t have many complaints about Travis Warren’s performance even though I must admit I tried to avoid looking at him. Sorry but I can’t. I know it has to be way too hard to stand overshadowed by Shannon Hoon’s eternal presence, and due to the general not so enthusiastic response of people to For My Friends, he had this, we could say, emotional outburst, which led him to leave the band some years ago. I can understand what he did in some way, but Hey! He knew the story of Blind Melon, he’s the personification of Hoon from voice and  melodic style to tattoos in his body, so justification for his actions is not acceptable. Probably this has to do with the feeling I’ve had, reading many comments posted these days in different sites and forums, killed the possibility of the band going on with Blind Melon and record more albums. Hope I’m mistaken, but apart from nostalgic tours, I can’t see further actions. And I don’t blame them. In fact, I’m very proud and excited with Abandon Jalopy, and as I’ve heard, there are already many tracks ready for a second album. Crossing my fingers wishing to have it delivered to my Hellhouse really soon.

Anyway, after a perfect show with souvenir included (Thorn‘s pick), the night went on to be perfect in booze and fun, and to take it to the top, I crossed Brad, Chris and Kevin on my way home, so I could thanks them for coming, congratulate them for the incredible show they offered, and warmly wish them the best in the most appropriate manner…with the feeling of saying goodbye to good friends.

These 3 days with the Melons around have been unforgettable. I could get used to have them around in the city as neighbors. How cool would that be, huh?

Thank you guys! Come back soon!

FIRST ROUND: JONNY KAPLAN AND ABANDON JALOPY

The hottest gig week in the year started on Monday, with two acoustic sets I knew they weren’t to disappoint me: on one hand good vibes California suntanned hippie rider Jonny Kaplan, and on the other, the portable version of Abandon Jalopy, Brad Smith’s new project aside mighty Blind Melon, with Kevin Haaland. It’d be too obvious to say the show was a blast, but I have to.

You might think I’m crazy, but I was more excited with Abandon Jalopy’s show than with Blind Melon’s…I’ll explain why later.

On Monday, in front of barely 25 people, Jonny opened the evening with the only companion of his acoustic guitar, and sometimes the assistance of his harp. He introduced some songs to be included in his upcoming album, due to unknown date hopefully in 2012. As he put into words, he was looking for a set filled up with mellow tunes, thus, when I suggested Ride Free to be played on the encore, he said precisely that one was totally forbidden, in order not to break the vibe. Still, I couldn’t complain because he played Seasons right after my request, and said thanks to me at the end of the song! Should be ME thanking!

There were two remarkable moments during this show. On one hand a new beautiful song named The Child Is Gone, featuring Kevin and Brad of Abandon Jalopy, which was pretty intense and on the other hand, to realize that the story of Damaged was also my story. Good ol’ Jonny, another storyteller. I never get tired of him, and this time playing solo, was as solid as with a band. Kaplan is a rolling stone for real, so experienced and positive, he doesn’t need support of any sort to attract all our attention and conquer audiences. I can’t recall how many times I’ve seen him playing, probably 7 or 8, he’s always fantastic.

Second part of the show was pretty as short as amazing. Being in Spain prior to Blind Melon tour shows in our country, it was a good opportunity to advance and appetizer of what an Abandon Jalopy full band show might be in the future after the good reception of the beautiful album Death & Joy. Unfortunately those self labeled as Blind Melon diehard fans didn’t make it to the show on Monday, and it’s not acceptable to excuse saying the show was on Monday. It was a shame we were so few. Of course all the attendants were delighted with this set.

I Won’t Be The Same was the starter, with Shannon Hoon’s memory refreshed in our memories as, according to Brad, the song was inspired in his loss. Absolutely thrilling.

Brad Smith’s voice was stunning, and wonderful arrangements made by Haaland on guitar, sometimes including slide, made of this acoustic set something quite unique and special.

Up till Now, Love Has a Way, a cover of I Won’t Get Down, a revised version of Black Cloud, pretty cool actually, and 5 more songs, left us begging for more.

Forgetting an awkward moment caused by “someone” who gave Brad my former Blind Melon’s Soup vinyl for signing, right next to me (shit like that hurts and it’s lame), the aftershow was fantastic with the guys completely easy access. Kaplan is like an old friend you meet from time to time and everything is fun and easy, and I’m really happy after realizing how humble and adorable Brad Smith is. We were meeting at bars and streets for three days and he always spent some time having chats with me. As I said to him, I could get used to having them around. Wonderful people, both Kaplan and the Jalopy-Melons. I can’t wait to see them back in town.

ALBUM + EP OF WEEK 14 – BLIND MELON / SONIDO JAMBOFÓNICO

Super delay in updating the albums of these two past weeks, mainly caused by my getaway to Zaragoza, and last days which have been quite busy socially speaking. I’m immediately sorting this out.

With the great taste left by Abandon Jalopy’s Death & Joy still in my mouth, from the previous weeks, responsible for reminding me of the constant hunger for Blind Melon stuff,  I  spent much time recovering and enjoyed  the short yet one of the most intense and amazing discographies ever. Some months ago I talked about Soup, said to be my favorite one. But the band’s self-titled debut album introduced by the already classic video of the little fatty girl in glasses, wearing the bee costume, is also an essential in my life, and an absolute MUST HAVE, in a decent discography.

Of course I love No Rain, but to be honest, I got up tired of the famous video. That 90’s aesthetic, the saturation of the prairie and the blue sky, why not? The bee girl, and MTV constantly bombing for some time, were finally hard to endure. Guess I’m lucky not to have judged the band by the video, otherwise I might not be writing about Blind Melon.

And of course, key fact to pay attention to this band was, no doubt, the guest appearance of Shannon Hoon in Guns n’ Roses’  Don’t Cry video. It was like, “Who’s this guy?”. Now I remember that rumors at that time were that Hoon was Axl’s younger brother. And we thought it was true. it was that time when we started to hear about the singer’s childhood trauma, child abuse, his father…as news and gossip took very long to be clarified, for obvious reasons, we thought Axl and Hoon were brothers for some time, till we knew they were friends, from Lafayette.

This album contains what I consider one of my greatest personal anthems ever, a complete declaration of principles, in the shape of the beautiful Change.

When you feel your life ain’t worth living 
you’ve got to stand up and
take a look around you then a look way up to the sky.
And when your deepest thoughts are broken, 
keep on dreaming boy, cause when you stop dreamin’ it’s time to die.

How many times have I listened to this song when low spirited? Pfff, hundreds I think, and never get tired of it, as the feeling in my belly never leaves.

Change and No Rain are fantastic tunes, but Blind Melon is more. Tones of Home, I Wonder, Dear Ol’ Dad, Deserted, Holyman…well, no song was included for filling purposes, as any is magic.

Of course, the great weight of the band was on Hoon’s voice, but the more I listen to Blind Melon’s stuff, the more I adore the band.

Despite the fact that some songs lyrics are not precisely very happy and positive, in general terms, and of course, personally speaking, this album is an upper.

Plan for Easter was to stay at my parents’ few days, to celebrate my nephew’s first anniversary, take a break to recover from the shocking news of my current working status, or better said, my imposed inactivity, and hang out with friends.

Great news was that Los Mambo Jambo were in town on Saturday night, so the plan was a WIN. My soul bro Gonzalo were definitely attending the show. Therefore, it was a great opportunity to recover their wonderful EP Sonido Jambofónico. 4 excellent instrumental tunes, ready to rock your soul. You know, the kind of 50’s inspired tunes that unavoidably set you in the right mood for party and dancing.

Their sound is sober and elegant, the perfect and solid rhythmic foundation on one hand, thanks to Kovacevic’s powerful double bass and Jarl’s awesome drum parts, the rockin’-surfin’-swingin’ work of Mario Cobo on guitar, and the unique style and distinctive mark provided by Dani Nel-lo’s Tenor Sax.

Los Mambo Jambo are the accompaniment band at Taboo, The Burlesque Barcelona Night, hosted once a month at Apolo venue.  Never got the chance to attend them but hopefully this will change soon.

Glad to see they’ve decided to spread their Jambophonic sound and delight us with their performances from time to time. I’ve attended two shows and they’re definitely worth seeing, because quality and fun are guaranteed.

ALBUM OF WEEK 12 – DEATH & JOY

Oh dears, last week was absolutely insane because of the wedding of the year. That’s the reason why I didn’t post much, flew to Madrid on Wednesday and got back in town by Sunday, and in between it was nonstop. Glad to say it’s been one of the most amazing weekends in long time. Guess I’ll write a bit about it.

Despite such active days, last week was marked by the discovery of this little treasure, Death & Joy, by Brad Smith’s solo project named Abandon Jalopy, recently released. Perhaps the name of Brad Smith might not be familiar to you, so here I am to clarify this guy was (is) Blind Melon’s bass player.

I’m not very good at being acquainted with band members’ solo projects, in fact I’m starting to be more aware of what’s going on around, because I’m realizing I’m missing lots of great stuff. Nevertheless, it’s impossible to cover all new releases, bands, tours…and honestly, prefer to narrow my choices, otherwise I’m ending up consuming without really enjoying. In case I’m missing something, I trust enough people close to me who would point me to the right direction.

Thanks to an interview to the artist included in last month issue of Popular 1 Rock magazine, credited to a friend of mine who is a diehard fan of Blind Melon, I heard of Abandon Jalopy for the first time. It’s amazing the influence established press can have over people, as many friends, loyal readers of the magazine, started posting this video on their FB walls.

I had to see, better said, hear it for myself, and judge. And that’s what I did.

Due to late night writing, I’m starting to listen to music with proper headphones. I’m a laptop user for the moment, and don’t have speakers, to tell the truth, it’s my entire fault the precarious conditions I’m working at. Anyway, at certain hours I’m not supposed to play music loud, and I was tired of the awful sound coming directly from the computer speakers, thus some months ago I purchased these terrific Sennheiser headphones I’m delighted with. Probably the direct impact of music right into your ears might not be the healthiest option, and sure headaches can easily bring out if you’re prone to,  but you notice many arrangements and details in songs, it’d take you longer or would never been noticed otherwise.

So, last week I listened to Death & Joy through the mighty headphones and had another musical crush.

To start with, the whole work has the Blind Melon brand clearly stamped, not intending to overshadow though, but just reflecting a style which goes beyond the albums recorded with Shannon Hoon. What is out of question, once you listen to this album, is Brad Smith’s brilliant contribution to the core of Melon’s compositions.

Can’t describe my feelings with songs such as the opening Up Til Now, Black Cloud, Hold Tight, or the one featuring Shannon’s daughter Nico Blue on backing vocals, Love Has a Way, in a very objective way. Just can say I was overwhelmed in first place, and could’t erase Hoon from my mind at all. I can easily imagine him singing Death & Joy and my heart really shrinks… so evoking!

Death & Joy is this little treasure condemned to be ignored by the mass, created just for the pleasure of those where in the right place at the right time. Just hope my call is convincing enough for you to belong to this chosen minority, and enjoy this wonderful piece of cake.

KINDLE, E-BOOKS? NAH, I STAND BY THE BRICKS

I’m a consumerist. Period. I can try to deny myself, but my willpower  very often succumbs to temptation, and having the world at a single click, I catch the bait more than I should. I could go to therapy, but it’d be more expensive than purchasing certain items which provide me a massive wave of pleasure. Still, same as cigarettes, I’m cutting down, not so rad, but little by little.

And what  are my late main acquisitions? Books.

They are not for imminent consumption as a CD or a vinyl, I could have waited to buy them, but you know, sometimes you feel the urge to have the book, touch it and smell it, and think “I got you, babe”. Reading is slow combustion pleasure, mmmm, I love it, but the problem is that lack of time is an issue, and this wonder requires the world to top. And it’ difficult.

It’s true that I have abandoned fiction for a while, perhaps on behalf of films, thus I’m enjoying biographies overall.

These have been the latest entries at the Hellhouse,  I’m really proud of.

CRONENBERG ON CRONENBERG – Edited by Chris Rodley

The Baron of Blood is one of my favorite directors. Nowadays, thanks to his last films A History of Violence and Eastern Promises, has become a more prominent and public figure, up to major consumption, however his earlier films, managed to twist sci-fi into something more insane, with great dose of science and psychological features.

This book is nothing but excerpts of interviews in which he talks about this early works, conditions related to budgets, plot concepts… basically what he had in mind when he filmed them.  They Came from Within, Rabid, The Brood, Scanners, Videodrome up to Crash… I read it a couple of years ago, and was fascinated by the way the Canadian talks about his work.

If you are into his filmography, this is a MUST have.

RECKLESS ROAD   GUNS N’ ROSES AND THE MAKING OF APPETITE FOR DESTRUCTION

Another present I bought, this time for my friend Jaume, in NY, in 2008.

Autobiographies aside, reckon this is the most valuable document of the earliest years of Guns N’ Roses, the (former) most dangerous band in the world, captured in amazing shots by their fan #1, and best friend, Marc Canter. No doubt their close relationship in that time, and his love for the band, made Reckless Road possible. Captures, press reviews, fliers… this compilation of band memorabilia is like time travelling back to Sunset Strip era, when Axl’s obsessions were still at the rear of his mind, and they used to hang out with hookers, for sex, drugs, a shower and some Night Train.

THE MAKING OF THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK

Despite the fact that I really love Star Wars, and I’m a diehard fan, to be honest I’ve never been an avid collector of stuff. It’s true I have posters, soap dispenser, t-shirts, toys…but I’m not obsessed by the holy saga at all.

Up to date, my most serious possession was a present I received from my ex brother-in-law, another super fan. It was The Making Of Star Wars.

I told you about my New Year’s Day tradition of starting with the holy trilogy. Well, it was then when I decided that  the book revealing all the details of how my favorite movie ever was developed, had to be mine. I haven’t dived into it properly yet, but I know some hours of pleasure are guaranteed.

A DEVIL ON ONE SHOULDER AND AN ANGEL ON THE OTHER: THE STORY OF SHANNON HOON AND BLIND MELON

What can I say? I love Blind Melon and need to know more about Shannon Hoon. My friend Enric insisted I had to get it, and eventually the writer himself advised my where to purchase it…unbelievable! I still have it sealed, waiting for me to close other pending readings so I will focus on it exclusively. I’m scared of what I might find. I’m  still mourning Hoon’s loss and most likely I’ll feel devastated once I really get to know him in detail. But I have to. Blind Melon are essential in my life.

WE GOT THE NEUTRON BOMB: THE UNTOLD STORY OF L.A PUNK

This was actually a Xmas present from the cake couple, and it was really a nice surprise. Just had a quick look at it, but seems it’s gonna be endless fun. Resembling in the style and format to Please Kill Me, based on quotations by personalities who were part of that story, and covering the whole punk era in L.A up to hardcore movement. Pretty interesting, to be honest.

I really can’t pile these treasures up in a shelf and forget about them till I finish my current readings, thus here they are, moving from one place to the other at the Hellhouse, waiting to be settled, and swallowed by their crazy owner some day.

ALBUM OF WEEK 42 – SOUP

My nephew is finally sleeping after a morning of nonstop activity. It’s been a blast, gotta say, but I’m exhausted!

Anyway, it’s raining, the kid is sleeping, and don’t have any plans ahead for the moment, so I’m gonna talk about Soup, the album that marked last week routine.

Last Friday was the 16th sad anniversary of Shannon Hoon’s decease, cause by cocaine overdose. I remember when I read the news, and really, it affected me. The guy with angel-like voice, native from Lafayette, and close friend of Axl Rose, was gone.

I usually listen to Blind Melon’s albums, no doubt it’s one of my all times favorite bands, but having such date marked on the calendar, made me feel like recovering the albums, especially Soup, my favorite.

This, also reminds me of another lesson learned regarding gifts to boyfriends. Never give something that it’s really meaningful to you. I bought my vinyl of Soup in Edinburgh, in 1999, on a flash trip I did by coach, just to see some friends less than 24h. The album was sealed, it was new, just cost me one pound, ridiculous, but it was my treasure…and now it’s gone for good. I don’t exactly regret having done that, but nowadays I don’t really feel that person deserved it anymore. Well, fuck it! I gotta move forward and forget about such stupid details, otherwise I’ll get in bad mood.

Anyway, let’s talk about Soup. As most of you know, this was the last complete album of Blind Melon with Shannon Hoon still alive. Just the second, amazing! Imagine for a second Hoon was still alive. Yeah! Some of us witnessed a marvelous comeback with that dude, Travis Warren, who managed to give back the Melon’s spirit, and the last album For My Friends, which was very respectable and beautiful, but you know it’s not the same. If the band delivered such awesome second album as Soup is, widely superior to their debut, I can’t imagine if been able to keep on the same track.

Thinking of the title and the artwork of the album, referring to an alphabet soup, truth is that songs differ quite much from each other, and subjects of lyrics are special, to say the least. Skinned is related to serial killer and butcher Ed Gein, New Life about Nico Blue’s birth, St. Andrew’s Fall deals with suicide… Soup is definitely a dark album.

What can I say? From top to bottom I love the 14 tracks. Positive, whenever I listen to Mouthful of Cavities, I feel a knot in me belly. That song is absolutely killing. But then there are Galaxie, 2X4, Walk

Soup is one of those albums whenever I listen to, I feel grateful for being a music lover. And again, I see myself talking about another legendary band in the 90’s. I should go to the doctor, nostalgia is really present lately, but I won’t get tired repeating the same, this is the story of my life.