Archive for the 'Vacation' Category

SXSW 2008 Day 1 Recap

SXSW 2008 - John McNicholas

03/19/2008 – SXSW Day 1 Recap – SXSW is always a mix of insanity, inspiration, and endurance. So it’s been customary for me to fly out there super early on Wednesday morning so I barely make it to the Yard Dog in time for my set at the BAAMO showcase. Mission accomplished. After my morning flight got delayed I arrived at the Yard Dog about 8 minutes before I was supposed to start playing.

SXSW 2008 - Ed Harcourt

I had a fun set, I played an extra song or two and then settled in for the rest of the show. The Ditchflowers sounded fantastic, as did Ed Harcourt and everyone else. It was a great time and the food was top notch as always.

Next I headed down to the convention center, picked up my badge and my big bag of swag and headed over to the Fader Fort. I caught a few cool tunes from YACHT before heading over to Stubb’s for the R.E.M. showcase.

SXSW 2008 - Johnathan Rice

It’s not typical that I spend an entire evening in one venue, but I didn’t want to miss R.E.M., so I stuck it out and checked out all the bands that were on the bill before them. Summerbirds in the Cellar were bombastic and thick with pre-recorded tracks, broken amps, and video screen behind them. Jonathan Rice was great despite a loose cannon guitar player, really enjoyed his tunes. Next up, Papercranes were OK, but the performance seemed a bit contrived. Dead Confederate, a local Georigia band with a swirling Hammond B-3, and a plodding vibe.

SXSW 2008 - R.E.M.

Finally R.E.M. hit the stage and the place went nuts. They sounded great and I loved the new tunes. I think their new CD is going to be great.

SXSW 2008 - The Lemonheads

The weather turned cold, so I headed out before their encore was over and stumbled upon The Lemonheads playing their album, It’s a Shame About Ray in it’s entirety. They sounded awesome.

SXSW 2008 - The end of  day 1

Day 1 was in the books. I checked into my crappy hotel and passed out. (MORE PHOTOS)

Happy New Year!

12/31/2007 – So this is the end of the year, and I always tell myself I’m going to post a list of favorite songs, or CDs, as if anyone buys CDs anymore. Well, here’s a quick and dirty list of things that made me smile this year. I’m sure I missed some things and some people. My bad.

Super Deluxe goes live and I still have a job

Jeff Tweedy @ the Tabernacle

– Playing with The Good Graces, Mary O. Harrison and The Yum Yum Tree! Great people, every one of them!

– The Atlanta music scene

SXSW 2007! A million great shows in one town.



Dean & Britta at the Variety Playhouse

ISP Space (R.I.P.)


Smith’s Olde Bar

– Hanging with Ava in Delaware

500 Songs for Kids

See-through Souls

– Working with the folks on Funny Lunch

Ben Gibbard at Center Stage

Sloan at the 40 Watt


Bright Eyes at The Fox Theater

– Memorial Day weekend with my Florida friends


– The Star Bar photo booth

– “Marry Me” by St. Vincent (answer “yes”)

Java Monkey

– The Atlanta Songwriters shows

Lenny’s Bar

Rufus Wainwright, Neko Case @ the Tabernacle

– My second annual Wisconsin holiday

Milwaukee Art Museum

The Other Sound Festival

11:11 Teahouse

– The Drunken Unicorn

KEXP & KCRW podcasts

2007 Grant Park Summer Shade Festival

– Playing Kelly’s Pub in Tampa with Lance, Rebekah & Rob and Ted

Rebekah & Rob in Atlanta

– Kent and everyone at Legend’s Guitars

Midtown Music

Eskimo Kiss and Eskimo Bliss

The Preakness

Club Awesome‘s pool party


– Thunderbox rehearsal space


– Sandra and Raleigh

– All my Super Deluxe co-workers

– Jeff Wood (R.I.P.)

The Howlies

– The Bain Mattox crew, past and present

– James and Ali

– The East Atlanta Strut

– The 88.5 WRAS interview

The Jupiter Watts

Art Bar in Columbia, SC

Two Sheds Records

– Two days in Indianapolis with friends

– The Gardner clan

Broad Ripple Fall Music Festival

Luna Music

Indianapolis Museum of Art

Eisenhower Field Day

Atlanta People With Blogs Who Get Together To Drink

– The Clermont Lounge with Liz! Peach Cobbler!

Little 5 Points Halloween Parade

– Pittsburgh to see The Weakerthans

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater

– The Hushpuppy Gallery

Chomp and Stomp


– A decent car crash

– My new JamMan pedal

– My new Strat

– The 1990s, Art Brut & The Hold Steady show at the Variety

The Swell Season at the Variety


Black Lips at the Variety

Happenstance 2007, “One Great Song!”

Bain Mattox and Shot From Guns at Eddie’s Attic

– The Turner Christmas Party and a busted window

– Liz’s new house and expertly manicured lawn

– All my great new friends in Atlanta.

– Molly my doggie

Have a fun and safe New Year’s Eve everyone. I’ll catch up with everyone in the next few days!


I’m playing Smith’s tonight!

11/27/2007 – I’m playing at Smith’s Old Bar in the Atlanta Room tonight at 8pm and I feel like crap. I’m sick. That won’t stop me from rocking out, but it will keep me from hanging out all night to see all the acts unless I pull a 180 and feel better. Come on out tonight, bring me some tissues.

My trip down to St. Pete for the holidays last weekend was fun, so fun that it’s not important what I did. It was good to see everyone and bask in some Florida sunshine. Hope you had a great weekend.

Pittsburgh Rocks! The Weakerthans! Warhol! Fallingwater! Photos!

10/30/2007 – Pittsburgh rocked! Wow, what a fun two days I had up in the Iron City and parts thereabouts. I flew up early on Saturday morning and Andy picked me up at the airport.

We checked in to the hotel and made a beeline for the Duquesne Incline on the top of Mount Washington. We rode the cable cars and took in the breathtaking view of the city from the top. It was chilly, but sunny and wonderful. We grabbed some lunch at the Georgetown Inn and then headed down into the city.

We went to the Carson Street South Side neighborhood and checked out the great shops, cool record stores, and Pittsburgh Guitars. What a great neighborhood, cool architecture, and hip vibe the area exuded.

From there we headed north over the river, through downtown (some cool old buildings) and over the river again to the Andy Warhol Museum. This was an unexpected treat, there were so many great pieces from Warhol and others on display. I wish we had more time to study every piece.

After a quick break we headed off for the main course of the trip, The Weakerthans at Mr. Smalls in Millvale. We arrived a little early and grabbed some pizza around the corner from the club and talked hockey with the guys that were working the counter. Great pizza and conversation.

With a slight drizzle in the air we made our way back to Mr. Smalls just in time to see the opening act, Jim Bryson. Jim was great, he was affable and warm on stage, and the songs we’re heartfelt and sweet. He stopped to grab his harmonic for a solo (I can relate), he played piano with the headstock of his guitar, and he invited people up to play percussion. I loved it.

Next up was Last Town Chorus. Megan, the singer/guitar player played a mean lap steal guitar “with an aquatic feel,” and she really made an impression on the crowd! I’d love to check them out again if they come down to Atlanta. She’s blogging the tour too, check it out HERE.

OK, it was time, the opening bands had rocked and I was ready for the Weakerthans to play. They were nothing short of fantastic. They played every song that I hoped they would and more. They we’re humble and fun, and they pulled off the rock moves (synchronized guitars in the air!) with delight. I don’t think I’ve seen a band have that much fun in ages.

The crowd sang along with every word, a difficult task, and requests were shouted as soon as each song ended. I cannot thank Stacey enough for turning me on to this band, but I did attempt it by getting her a t-shirt. Shhh… don’t tell her, I haven’t surprised with it yet.

Too soon the show was over. I talked briefly with Jim Bryson after the show, and we decided that food was in order. We headed back down to Carson Street, where the Halloween costumes were out in full force and ordered up some big french fry sandwiches from Primanti Brothers. Wow, what a great day.

Sunday we got up and out pretty early. I was going to catch an early flight home since Andy was heading back to Cleveland, but I saw the Hertz rental counter on my way into the airport and I couldn’t resist. One of the things that I wanted to do when I was up in this part of the country was to see Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater. It was about 60 miles south of town, and it was such an amazing fall day, I had to go.

90 minutes later I’m pulling up to the ticket gate, “Sorry sir, tickets are sold out today, but you can still buy a grounds pass.” Done. I registered at the information center in case anyone didn’t show up for a tour, and I was told that I’d probably get to go, “People always cancel.” She handed me one of those buzzie-light things you get at restaurants when you’re on the waiting list. Sweet.

For the next hour I walked around the house, explored the area and took pictures. BUZZZZZZZ! Hurray!

I scampered back to the info booth and joined a tour just as they we’re leaving. For the next hour we explored every nook and cranny of the residence, and words cannot describe what an amazing building it is. If you are ever in the area, you have to go.

With the time before my flight dwindling I jumped back in the rental and high-tailed it back to the airport. I made it with 5 minutes to spare before the flight started boarding. Damn, I could have spent 5 more minutes at Fallingwater.

The flight home was quick and uneventful and I nearly finished David Sedaris’ Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by the time we touched down.

Good times indeed.


The Weakerthans in Pittsburgh tomorrow!

10/26/2007 – I’m excited, I’m going to Pittsburgh tomorrow morning to see The Weakerthans! Know any cool places that I should check out while I’m there?

My Weekend In Naptown

10/16/2007 – Traveling is fun most of the time. This is true. Trying to book a flight the night before the flight leaves in the morning is not smart, or recommended. This is also true.

Whoever said computers and the internet make life easier never tried to transfer their frequent flier points online between merchants and have it work the first, second or third time.

“Hello, yes… I’m fine thank you, look, I… yes… they haven’t? Uh-huh, well the website shows that they have. Well… hello?”

And so it went for about 30 minutes.

Saturday morning I got up and out early. The security line at the airport was long but it breezed along and quick enough I was on my way to my connection in Cincinnati.

The Cincinnati Airport, like the one in Indianapolis, isn’t too big and it’s quick to get around unless you have to take the shuttle bus to the C terminal. Every time I come into CVG I’m always startled by the short runway and the braking power these big planes have.

I got into Indy around 1:30 PM and by 2:00 PM I’m in the rental car and off. I swung by Reno’s Music and Meridian Music to check out guitars and then I headed down to the Mass. Ave. district and picked up the new Black Lips CD (with bonus EP!), did some shopping at Silver in the City and got some coffee.

On the way to Broad Ripple, I stopped by the new Luna Music location on College Ave. and caught a good band called Rodeo Ruby Love. Next, I was off to Broad Ripple for the Fall Music Festival. I met up with Andrea and Ryan and the first stop was the Alley Cat Lounge. Prizzy Prizzy Please was the first band we saw. They sounded great and they rocked a fun version of Thunderstruck by AC/DC.

Next up was my friend Natalie’s sister’s band, Eisenhower Field Day. I absolutely loved them. They have a mid-90s Chapel Hill sound with great harmonies, and crafty guitar and bass interplay. Loved them. Their family was out to see them play and it was great to see everyone again.

I also kept bumping to Richard from Margot every 15 minutes for nearly the entire festival. I was tempted to quiz him about their new record, but I didn’t.

Everything Now! played next and I really enjoyed them too.

Everyone headed over to Spin for Arrah and the Ferns (excellent), Beta Male (hot chicks, great tunes, hoola-hoops!) and We Are Hex (dark wave).

We had bagel sandwiches at Ripple Bagel & Deli and more coffee before closing out the night back at the Alley Cat to see Small Arms Fire and Red Light Driver.

Everyone said their good nights and cars were driven home.

I got up pretty early on Sunday and headed downtown to walk to War Memorial Plaza and the State Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument in Circle Center before heading back to Carmel to meet everyone for lunch at Paradise Bakery. Khali, Andrea and Ryan were there and we hung out, talked, and laughed.

After lunch I decided to check out the Indianapolis Museum of Art on my way back to the airport. I wish I had more time to spend there; they have a great collection or contemporary and classic art. After an hour I headed to the airport.

It was a quick and fun two days, I hope it doesn’t take me long to make it back up there again.


Indianapolis Bound this Weekend

10/10/2007 – I can’t wait. In just a few short days I’ll be headed north to see some great friends in Indianapolis. I’m also hoping to catch a ton of bands at the Broad Ripple Fall Music Festival. There’s a ton of cool local Indy bands playing, and just being back up there is going to be fantastic.

While I’m in town I’m going to try and see everyone and stop by Luna, Meridian Music, the Broad Ripple Brew Pub, The Wellington (Corner Wine Bar), and a ton of other places.

I miss that town, and I miss my friends.