Sunday, April 26, 2015

Spring Hath Sprung

Some color from the garden, no doubt encouraged by our wet spring.

Enjoy it while it lasts!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Concert Review: Sturgill Simpson

Our man from Jackson, Kentucky is the current darling of the "old school" country circuit and anointed by many to be the savior of the genre.  And he may well be. It was fitting then that we got see Simpson & co. on Good Friday at that venerable bastion of of all things country, Billy Bob's Texas, the self-proclaimed "World's Largest Honk Tonk".  Coming in at 127,000 square feet, there is little doubt there could possibly be a bigger country bar elsewhere.  Whisper this in Texas (in fear of being branded a heretic) but bigger is not always better.

Such has been Sturgill's meteoric rise that Billy Bob's could have been renamed Silly Mob's.  The joint was packed to the rafters.  It took us, no kidding, probably 15 minutes to negotiate the 150 yard walk from the main entrance to our reserved seats, crossing packed dancefloors and lengthy lines for beer, t-shirts, bathrooms, ATM's and so on.  Half of Dallas and most of Fort Worth was there. Thankfully we had a place to sit.  The General Admission crowd were tighter than "hawgs in a chute" but that did not dampen their Shiner fueled spirit one iota.

Sturgill took the stage at precisely 10.30pm and did not let up until around 15 after midnight, so value for money was never in doubt.  He has perfected that twang, that country-bluegrass-rockabilly-gospel sound but it wasn't really until half-way through that the soundboard at Billy Bob's got the mix right. Early on, Sturgill was drowned out by the yokels yakking and milling around the twenty (not a typo) bars that are scatter around BB's.  It was estimated by 1310 AM The Ticket there was 6,000+ in attendance and remember, Billy Bob's is not an arena, it was formerly part of the cattle pens in the stockyards.  How the heck the sea of humanity at the back could hear or see anything is beyond me.

Sturgill has a great voice.  Somewhere between Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard. He is unassuming, low-key, dressed like he shops in Wal-Mart. His band, especially his guitarist, is terrific. Laur Joamets, an Estonian who only recently came to the US, is a former metal-head and has absolutely perfected the country electric slide guitar. What Sturgill lacks is a little rapport with his audience.  He does not speak much and when he does, he mumbles... now that might partly be due to the cavern he was in and maybe some intimidation.  The crowd was raucous and as the night went one became louder and were hootin' and hollering' with appreciation at every opportunity.  The amount of beer consumed was impressive, every table jammed with empties. The waitresses could not keep up the pace.  Orders came by the dozen in galvanized buckets.  Wonderful stuff.  It almost felt a bit like the Rawhide scene from Blues Brothers at one stage.

Ironically. Sturgill's biggest cheer was for a song he did not write, an '80's snyth-pop ditty "The Promise", which he has truly made his own.  "Life of Sin" and "Turtles All The Way Down" had the crowd on their feet, hats and bottles in the air, rodeo-style.  It was such an experience!

Minor complaints about the sound aside, the show was really good.  Not the best I have seen at Billy Bob's (see post on Dwight Yoakam) but I would slap down my hard earned cash in a heartbeat to see Sturgill Simpson again, especially at a more intimate venue.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Pity the Fools that Partake in the Madness

The Redmen / Red Storm / Johnnies made the NCAA's for the first time since 2011 and being a loyal alumnus (read: crazy), I decided, along with one of the offspring, to make the trek to Charlotte NC in the hope of seeing a win.  Well, we might as well have stayed at home, our team went down to San Diego State by a score of 76 to 64.  Game aside, we had a great old time.  We got to meet a ton of St. John's fans before, during and after.  Robert Werdann, former center, was there and was as friendly as can be and we also chatted for a few minutes with D'Angelo Harrison's grandparents from Texas.

Post-Game get-together
Redmen Fans in Charlotte

Comedian Matt Burke - Gotham Comedy Live - AXS TV

You know you have made it when you get an entry on Beirne Brightly!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

In Like A Lion

It has become an annual tradition of sorts for me to email the lyrics of "The Boys From the County Hell" to fellow Pogues fans on Feb 28th.  Like the GEICO commercial, everyone knows that:

"On the first day of March it was raining
It was raining worse than anything that I have ever seen"

Which segues nicely into our recent weather, a meteorologists dream...  Temperature swings from the 70s to the 20's.  Rain, sleet, snow, ice, freezing rain, thunder, fog.  We have seen it all in the last five days.  Just two days ago the kids next door built a sturdy snowman that looked like it would last until April.  This evening, it was gone, melted into the lawn.  Tomorrow brings another cold front and more ice.

If it is going to be cold and wet, give me snow.  At least you can drive on it and the AWD Mercury is quite capable.  Down here we seem to get ice storms more than snow and to paraphrase Frau Blucher, the roads become "treacherous" and impassible regardless of vehicle.

To make matters worse, the denizens of the Lone Star State, already not exactly the greatest drivers, become absolutely awful.  They either drive like NASCAR lunatics in their big-ass trucks, or become feeble 10mph kittens in their Prius.  There is no in between.  So the commute tomorrow should be fun.
A Polar Bears Dream

Saturday, February 28, 2015


It has been a fairly typical basketball season for St. John's.  Start out hot, beating the patsy's but then go cold to start the Big East only to get hot when it matters.  Along the way there have been injuries (Harrison), MIA time (Jordan), numb skull plays (Obekpa), crazy hair (Pointer), eye roll inducing play-calls (Lavin) and in today's precious victory over the Hoya's of Georgetown, we got to see most of the above.

The Redmen entered Big East Conference play ranked #15 in the country and proceeded to lose six of the first eight games.  The low point was the road defeat to Creighton, allowing the Dougie McBucket-less Blue Jays their first win.  Redmen faithful wanted Lavins head on a stick.  Lo and behold, he has righted the ship and since the Creighton fiasco, the young men from Queens have won seven out of nine.  With a 20 win season and a strong RPI, it would appear with two regular season games left, the Redmen will be going to the Big Dance.

Back in the day, going to the NCAA's was standard fare for St. John's fans.  Not so much in the last several years and depending on where the first round games are, I might be tempted to make a little spring excursion and get caught up in the madness.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Bye Bye Birdie

It was with a little sadness that we said goodbye to the 1961 Thunderbird.  We had fun, fun, fun for five years until Daddy decided it was time to let her bring a smile to someone else's face.  Old Blue is now prowling the mean streets of Arp, TX, pop. 983.

In its place, yet another Ford and another Mustang.  I am a sucker for Dearborn,  This is the sixth FoMoCo product I have invested in.  And while the 2011 Pony lacks the "Jenna Said What" of the old T-Bird, that 3.7L 305HP V6 kicks butt, gets good gas mileage and did not break the bank.  Isn't that all that matters?