Tuesday, January 22, 2013

My New Favorite Band

It's a new year and a new semester, and for the first time ever, the Spring Semester began on my birthday. Last Monday, I turned 33, and greeted many new students. My ENG 100 students, this week, will be discussing Kiese Laymon's essay, "How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America," which I'm hoping will give us a good jumpstart to thinking critically about relevant issues (such as gun violence and racial injustice) as well as a good model for how to write provocatively and imaginatively about one's past. In ENG 112, my students are picking apart the lyrics from Brother Ali's record Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color. I'm interested to hear what they think of it--I've never taught it before. Finally, my ENG 231 students are diving into Huck Finn, which I always enjoy re-reading and talking about, despite (or perhaps because of) its many flaws and contradictions.

But what I really want to write about is my trip to Wilmington, Delaware last Thursday to see Lake Street Dive--my new favorite band--play at The World Cafe. My fiance, Yuriko, bought the tickets as a kind of birthday present (although she also bought me a bunch of Red Sox tickets too--amazing!--I'm so spoiled), and we made the long trip from Reading despite it being a school night and all. It was well worth it. We heard of the band because the bass player, Bridget Kearney, was also the bass player of another band we stumbled upon and liked in Delaware--Joy Kills Sorrow. But I have to say, as much as I like Joy Kills Sorrow, I think Lake Street Dive is even better. The lead singer has an amazing voice--textured, flexible, soulful--and great stage presence. The drummer brings a great energy to every song, while supplying good backing vocals. The guitar player effortlessly pulls off nice riffs and can also play a real jazzy trumpet. And the bass player is my favorite of favorites. She can pick and slap that big ole stand-up with virtuosity, improvising and soloing from time to time. She also writes many of the band's best songs.

Here's a good video of one of their original tracks:

And here's a video of a great Jackson Five cover which they recorded for a recent EP release:

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