Thursday, October 23, 2008

Fall in Wisconsin

On the tail end of my trip last week I had one last site in northern Wisconsin. I was worn ragged by three days on the road but I was looking forward to getting the trip over with. I was pretty tired too, but the discovery of a new coffee shop off of 53 near Chippewa Falls (The Coffee Grounds is now a must-stop) fueled my journey both north and south. The weather was mostly cloudy and a little brisk. The sun would pop out of the clouds for brief intervals but for the most part it was a gray October day. Some people I know aren't what you'd call fond of this weather but this has always been my favorite time of year. I love the chill in the air and the smell of the leaves in the ground. After spending my entire life here I suppose I take the color of the season for granted but every so often the reality of the beauty shocks me into recognition. Even past the peak, the colors in the forest at this site were a site to behold.No matter how long the trip, I usually come away at least somewhat refreshed. Yes, I'm always physically tired after logging so many miles, but getting out and experiencing fall like this mentally recharges me for the upcoming office-bound weeks of work.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Nearly Canada

I returned from a long set of trips yesterday, four days all told. I made it back up to International Falls again, but I didn't cross over as time was short. Here's as close as I got, crossing the Little Fork River about a half mile from the border:
I also got to listen to CBC Radio 1 and even Radio Premiere Chaine. It rained a good deal the day before and it was about 36 degrees when I took this photo, but it still was a productive trip.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Forward Music Fest - Recap Part 1

As I previously mentioned, I attended the inaugural Forward Music Fest in Madison two weekends ago. It was a great time and a great setup, and I only wish that I would have had more time to catch all of the great shows that weekend. As it worked out I ended up seeing a couple of good shows Friday night and a big punk matinee on Saturday, after which I left to attend a friend's wedding reception. It was a busy weekend and I pretty much wore myself out. I didn't fully recover from the sleep deprivation until later on into the next week, because Sunday night ended up a little late as well due to the Packer game.
Friday afternoon I met my father for a delicious lunch at Picasso's and helped out at the shop. Afterwards I went to dinner with him and my mother, prior to heading downtown to pick up my wristband. The Fest was arranged in a format much like South by Southwest in Austin, TX where you purchase a wristband that allows for access to any of the venues associated with the Fest at a first-come first-serve basis. For an extra $10 you could get a guaranteed access pass to one show only - I chose to get one for the punk matinee even though I was relatively sure access would not be an issue. I picked up my wristband and pass at the Overture Center lobby and checked out the schedule. I made my way over to Cafe Montmartre to see Crane Your Swan Neck open up the night. I staked out a spot at the bar and got a pint of Lake Louie while the band started up. I hadn't really heard anything from this relatively new local band, but I was quickly won over by the music. Crane Your Swan Neck plays an intriguing mix of indie, folk, and rock with a Euro-tinged gypsy feel. The band seemed crowded on the small stage, consisting of a lead singer/guitarist, accordian/keyboards, violin, guitarist/clarinet, bass and drum kit. I listened to their set and had another beer, definitely enjoying the start to the Fest.
I walked out of the Momo excited for the next stop on my itinerary: the High Noon Saloon and my favorite local band, the Blueheels. E Eugene and I had seen them in action the weekend before, opening for Backyard Tire Fire at the Annex on a rainy Friday night. I was rolling solo to this show but I didn't worry, because once the music started I would be among friends. The band opened with a song off their new album Lessons in Sunday Driving and the show was off and running. I got right up front (in fact I'm the guy in the center of the picture above) and sang along. I love the shows that the Blueheels put on, full of energy and excitement. The set flew past, over before I was ready for it to be. I picked up a shirt for E Eugene at the merch table and called up Capt. Ramm. He was downtown with a few friends, and though I would have liked to catch a few more acts that night I left to go meet up with them. It was an excellent opening night for the Forward Music Fest, and I was looking "forward" to the next day.

Friday, October 03, 2008

So Many Great Memories

I know I haven't kept this site up lately but I just haven't had the time. I think I'll be finally caught up if I get my act together and come in this weekend. The workload coupled with the Cubs' travails has pushed me to the brink. I've kept my sanity by taking the occasional break and seeking out something to lighten the mood. Today's special: one of my all-time favorite shows ever.