Freedom Rock

J. Freedom du Lac
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 29, 2008; 2:00 PM

Washington Post music critic J. Freedom du Lac is online every Tuesday at 2 p.m. ET to talk about the latest on the music scene: alternative, country, alt-country, pop, hyphy, harp-rock, reggae, reggaeton, R and B and whatever it is that Clay Aiken does.

The transcript follows.

_______________________ Protest Band Leader's Notes From the Edge; Max Bernstein Pushes the Margins


J. Freedom du Lac: Greetings, chatters. Glad to be here tonight, opening for Girl Talk's Gregg Gillis, who I accidentally referred to as "a one-trick phony" in last year's VFest/Day 2 story in Style. When what I really meant to type, per Malitz's blog post on Gillis, was that he was a one-trick pony.

I blame the heat.

Anyway, what's up? The VMoFest schedule was released yesterday. Are you going this year? One day? Both days? Neither day? Do tell.


Washington, D.C.: Are your eyes as cool as Girl Talk's? Look at that picture!

J. Freedom du Lac: He's no Rhett Miller.


Severna Park, MD: Can we please NOT talk about what Clay Aiken does, especially when it comes to babymaking?

J. Freedom du Lac: I can make that promise. No Clay Aiken today. Though we might have to talk about Bo Bice, who is performing at this Sgt. Pepper's tribute thingy at Wolf Trap in August, with Todd Rundgren, Christopher Cross, Lou Gramm and some guy from the Moody Blues. It's one of the summer's hottest tickets! I kid you not.


Georgetown, Washington, D.C.: Who at the Virgin Mobile Festival are you most excited to see?

J. Freedom du Lac: Seth Hurwitz! He drives a mean golf cart.
Day One, I'd have to put Underworld, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings and Chuck Berry backed by the Silver Beats at the top of my list. I'm interested to see what Rodrigo y Gabriela are like live, too, though I wouldn't necessarily say that means I'm excited to see them.
Day Two, probably Lil Wayne and NIN and/or Kanye. I guess I'm more excited about NIN, though, since it's been a while since I've seen them, and Kanye came through in May. STP is somewhere up there, too. I'm already on record as having said that they got a raw deal from critics back in the day. They wrote some damn good songs but got pummeled for not being wholly original. Gotta say that I'm incredibly curious about Hollywood Undead, too. They've never played live before, and now they're opening a big festival? But again, interested more than excited.
There are other acts I'm looking forward to seeing, of course.

J. Freedom du Lac: Full schedule, by the way, is here.


Washington, D.C.: What are your main schedule conflicts at Virgin Festival?

J. Freedom du Lac: Malitz and I will be live-blogging the festival again this year, but we haven't yet figured out who is seeing what. Shouldn't have too much trouble splitting up the first day, though I think we both really want to end the day with Underworld in the dance tent. We might have to come up with another bet to figure out who gets stuck with Jack Johnson. (Thirty minutes of Mr. Anodyne for the loser, 30 minutes of Foo Fighters for the winner - and then we meet up at Underworld to compare notes.)

To me, the second day poses more problems. I feel like I need to see Dylan, but quite honestly, I'd rather see Stone Temple Pilots. And I loved Kanye's Nissasn show, but I'm also interested in seeing Nine Inch Nails.

There are some lesser conflicts, too, but those should be pretty easy to figure out. We'll just flip coins.

And you?


McLean, Va.: Hi J - Just catching up on last week's transcript wherein you asked for suggestions on campaign songs. So I'm listening to the Stooges "Free and Freaky in the USA" last night and it hits me. You know that verse where Iggy sings "Ala-bama, Dal-ai Lam-a"? One could just as easily substitute "Ba-rack O-bama". Dig it!

J. Freedom du Lac: Speaking of them, Malitz is on the horn with Ron Asheton as we speak. No doubt asking about the Miles Davis drugs story.
Look for the interview on the blog, where we have some blowout V-Fest coverage planned.


LG Chocolate phone: Free,

Hi. Tech question for you. My son's girlfriend has a LG Chocolate phone and if you hold up to radio for 5-10 seconds, it can give you song/singer/etc. It even got Eddie Vedder singing a Beatles song.

How does this work? Or maybe this is a Rob P question.


J. Freedom du Lac: That's a Rob P question. I can't even figure out how to fix the air card on my laptop. And you want me to explain this newfangled technology? Pshaw.


Bruce: I need to ask a sensitive question. I caught the rebroadcast of the Springsteen piece on 60 Minutes.

His voice sounded kind of...affected; like he was putting on some kind of grizzled statesman persona.

Is that how he really talks these days ?

J. Freedom du Lac: Hasn't he pretty much always spoken through clenched teeth? He's certainly been singing that way for years. I didn't think he sounded out of character. Though how would we really know, since he's pretty much always in character?


Summer Songs: Hey there Mr. Free, I have relied on this chat in the past to offer up some great fun summer songs - two years ago it was "Earthquakes and Sharks," last year it was "Beautiful Girls," I was wondering if you and the gang might have some nominations for this year? Looking for stuff that would fit alongside "Stacy's Mom" and Jim Noir's "Eanie Meanie," "I fell in love with the DJ," that kind of stuff.

J. Freedom du Lac: MGMT's "Electric Feel"? (Which is top of mind since I just saw them last night. Didn't love the show, but I dug the bandanas-to-musicians ratio, which from where I was standing looked to be 3/5.)

I'm really big on Estelle's "American Boy" with Kanye.


Davidsonville, Md.: Old Fogerty Guy here ... 20-year-old daughter who musically I could have gone to high school with and saw Fogerty with me in Nov. called me from Steve Miller/Joe Cocker 7th row center at college in Chicago a few weeks back ... held phone up for her favorite, Wild Mountain Honey, and before that for Came in Through the Bathroom Window ... she said "isn't that the Beatles?" I explained how Joe had bigger hits with some of them (Little Help From My Friends) than JPG and R did ... anyway, I love that the kids love this music, and that VINYL is getting played buy a generation who is wising up to the fact that MP3s SUCK.

Think yew.

J. Freedom du Lac: Has she started asking you seeds-in-the-gatefold questions yet?
I'm not sure there's anything remarkable about her discovery of Steve Miller/CCR/etc. Stations of the cross for college kids, no? Even now. But that's still pretty cool.


Max Bernstein: Wow, a rich kid with a famous one-hit-wonder for a father writing left-wing rants! And with a quasi-trustafarian hairstyle! How compelling!

Lucky thing for young Max that his dad didn't work for the Des Moines Tribune, huh?

J. Freedom du Lac: Lots of guys at MGMT last night with that hairstyle.
Carl Bernstein was no one-hit wonder. Remember, he also wrote a very famous review of Led Zeppelin for The Post.
Max - who by the way, can't do anything about his genes - said something pretty funny about his dad. We were talking about the band's weekly deadline to get a new song done, and I made some crack about Carl's reputation over the years for, um, taking his time on certain projects.
To which Max said: "Absolutely. I mean, that book he just came out with ['A Woman In Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton'] took nine years, and that's not a testament to his diligence. [Laughs.] It's not like he was working on it for all those years. It's more like he wasn't working on it. I think I have better discipline than he does."


Arlington, VA: Do you know if any of the Post people will be reviewing George Michael's concert tonight? I so wanted to go, but have to work instead. I need to live vicariously through a review--throw me a bone, please??!!

J. Freedom du Lac: George Michael...
"Throw me a bone."
Let the joke-cracking commence.
But yeah, I'll be there for a review tonight. We'll have a photographer, too, since everybody is dying to know what dude looks like these days.
Wonder if George Michael the sportscaster will be there.


J. Freedom du Lac: This just moved on the wires. Who's in?
"Collective Soul, Live, Blues Traveler in Baltimore, August 5"


Baltimore, Md.: Sgt Pepper tribute? What's the occasion? The 41st anniversary of the release?!? I don't get it.

J. Freedom du Lac: "It was 41 years ago today...."
That doesn't have quite the same ring to it, does it?
August is actually a big month for tribute concerts. There's a Joni tribute at Strathmore, as well as a James Brown tribute at the 9:30 club.


L' Enfant Plaza, D.C.: Day 2 of V Fest for me. More bands that I want to see, especially NIN again, and I have a conflicting engagement, oddly enough in Baltimore, on Saturday already.

I hope Kanye doesn't think he call pull a Bonnaroo here. I'm pretty sure Seth would kick Kanye's rear personally.

J. Freedom du Lac: If Kanye goes late, Sir Richard is going rescind the offer of a ride home in the hot-air balloon.
I, too, think that Day 2 is stronger/more interesting across the board. There's much to recommend on Day 1, though.


Washington, D.C.: Freedom:

Are you planning on checking out British extreme metal legends Carcass on their reunion tour in Baltimore on Sept. 10? I know most folks turn their nose up at metal, but any true music fan should be there paying their respects. Horns up!

J. Freedom du Lac: Depends on whether Andy Myers invites me or not. Did you see the recent Sunday mag story on Andy? The heavy metal sommelier from CityZen? Great stuff. How can you not love a guy who has a passion for Dönnhoff and death metal?!!!


I feel like I don't even know you anymore: "I feel like I need to see Dylan, but quite honestly, I'd rather see Stone Temple Pilots." (Sigh)...

J. Freedom du Lac: When's the last time you saw a truly great Dylan show? Dude tours regularly and his batting average isn't much better than it was for the Replacements back in the day.
I think the last time I saw him really, really bring it was on that tour with Van Morrison and Joni Mitchell, which was, what - a dozen years ago?


There's a Joni tribute at Strathmore, as well as a James Brown tribute at the 9:30 club. : They should maybe combine the shows, or at least switch performers...both Joni and James feature incomprehensible lyrics sung at 16 rpm or 78 rpm, and I love them both.

J. Freedom du Lac: Pretty sure the chords would be easier to learn for the JB show.


V-fest: Ever see the Go Team live? Would they be worth the price of admission alone?

J. Freedom du Lac: I have (several times), and they're not. Not a knock against them, as they give good show. Just that it's too much to pay for a single band. Plenty more to see on that second day, though.


August 5th in Balto: How late can I arrive to be sure to not hear a single phony note of "Blues" Traveler?

J. Freedom du Lac: Go to Gnarls Barkley instead? (Or, if you prefer: Neil Diamond!)


RE: Collective Soul, Live, Blues Traveler in Baltimore, August 5": Advertising hook: "Even if you can't remember who sang that song you liked back in the 90s, there's a 3-in-5 chance it was one of these bands!"

J. Freedom du Lac: The other two were by Stone Temple Pilots.


Re: Bruce In Character: But I thought authenticity was the key part of his appeal?

J. Freedom du Lac: To me, the songs and the performances and that band are really at the heart of his appeal. But yeah, I guess it matters a little bit.


Arlington, Va.: George Michael--THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. I've been an ardent fan ever since the mid-80s, when my friend, who went to visit her grandmother in England every summer, brought back WHAM!'s first LP. We were both in middle school (sixth grade I think it was....) We were rocking out in Woodbridge, VA well before WHAM! was getting any airplay on WPGC (yes, it played top-40 back then!) and felt pretty cool! Anyhow, it brings back good memories whenever I hear George Michael's voice.....

J. Freedom du Lac: Not really sure what to expect, but I'm pretty fond of some of GM's solo stuff.
True story: The first concert I almost ever went to was a WHAM! show when I was in middle school. Ultimately, my dad wouldn't let me go. No problem, really - but he also kept me from seeing Prince on the "Purple Rain" tour. Took me a while to get over that one.


Local concert question: So I was just scanning the sites of the local clubs, and noticed some of the prices for upcoming shows at the Birchmere: Steve Earle and Alison Moorer, $59.50, Peter Frampton $75, Vince Gill $89. Am I just an old geezer or is that an insane amount of money to charge for a club show?

J. Freedom du Lac: It's not cheap, but don't Frampton and Gill often play larger venues, like Wolf Trap? Seeing them in 500-seaters costs a premium.
Plus, in Gill's case, the guy is only, like, one of the two or three greatest country musicians alive.


Seattle, Wash.: Can a band do a tribute of and to itself? So while Liz Phair is currently doing a tribute of Exile in Guyville, AC/DC could just release a new album. And maybe have Celine sing a duet with them.

J. Freedom du Lac: You had me until Celine.


Richmond, Va.: I'm so excited to be seeing Liz Phair at the 9:30 club -- did that show set any records for selling out fast? And I saw Bob Dylan at U.Md. in 1999 with Joni Mitchell, and he sounded great. All the "Out of Time" songs were super, as was the older stuff.

J. Freedom du Lac: Not sure anybody's ever going to beat Hanson's sell-out record at the 9:30. Daughtry probably came close, though.


Wham!: True story: I was in 6th grade when Wham! came through town. My friend's mom got tickets for us. Sort of. As the concert came closer, she revealed that she'd been confused and had actually gotten tickets for Wings (or whatever that Paul McCartney band was called). Needless to say, we were crushed and skipped watching Sir Paul do his thing.

J. Freedom du Lac: Have you ever regretted that decision?
You could've seen Wings!
We've already covered this here before, but since I mentioned what first concerts I didn't get to go to, I should probably tell you that my very first show (not counting Ricky Nelson at the State Fair when I was a toddler) was the inaugural FreshFest, the first national rap tour. Played at the Oakland Coliseum Arena. Whodini, Newcleus, Fat Boys, etc. Run-DMC killed it.


Not NJ, USA: When Bruce isn't in character, he likes tea parties and other girly things.

J. Freedom du Lac: Sort of like Keith Richards, right?

When you're at home, do you put on fuzzy slippers, grab some ice cream and curl up on the couch to watch Oprah Winfrey?

I'll give you the couch, but I won't give you the Oprah. I was just watching the history of fertilizer, actually.

Are there things you do that would surprise people?

Well, I don't know. I mean, I got me dogs, me kids. I go out and garden occasionally, depending on the time of year. Everybody lives, man. It's the same old life however you look at it. As Chekhov said: Any idiot will face a crisis, it's this day-to-day grind that'll get you down.

Well, I don't know. I mean, I got me dogs, me kids. I go out and garden occasionally, depending on the time of year. Everybody lives, man. It's the same old life however you look at it. As Chekhov said: Any idiot will face a crisis, it's this day-to-day grind that'll get you down.


Somebody actually told me a story recently about Keef selling lemonade at a stand in front of his house in Connecticut. A fund-raiser for the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts or something. Now that would've been a sight to see.


Ahh, dads and concerts: What is with never forgiving our parents when it comes to concerts?

I was also kept out of the Purple Rain tour! And a Duran Duran show in 1984. AND a Slippery When Wet Concert from Bob Jovi. Without looking it up, that one was May 10, 1987.

Am 36 now and still bummed.

J. Freedom du Lac: Bob Jovi!!!!!!

It's been about a year since we wasted a good chunk of the chat coming up with Bon Jovi tribute-band names.

That was a great day. I still like this idea: A Bon Jovi tribute band from India. The name? Naan Jovi.


Falls Church, Va.: Along the lines of first concerts and fathers: my dad actually took me to see Rick Springfield when I was in the 4th grade, up at the old Capital Centre. (we lived in Prince William County, so this was quite a trek).

Turns out he was excited to see Quarterflash (Harden my Heart) who was the opening act for Mr. Springfield.

My one memory is actually NOT being embarrassed by my dad rockin out to Quarterflash--because I was so completely psyched to be actually seeing Rick Springfield LIVE!

To this day, I love his music. In fact, when I have a particularly unpleasant household task (such as cleaning the bathroom), a little "Don't Talk to Strangers" on the record player, in all its scratchy, peppy, bright-sounding happiness, is sheer joy....

J. Freedom du Lac: Did he play "Jessie's Girl" twice?


First show: Mine was cooler than yours - Emerson Lake & Palmer (with orchestra), Foghat, and J Geils at Soldier Field in Chicago.

J. Freedom du Lac: I dunno, the whole "whose house?"/"Run's house!" bit was pretty great. They always could move the crowd.


Washington, D.C.: I realize that you probably accidentally pasted Keef's answer to your question twice, but I like to think that he just spaced out and repeated his answer. "It's like Chekhov said...It's like Chekhov said..."

J. Freedom du Lac: He's a living tape loop.


Bethesda, Md.: "No problem, really - but he also kept me from seeing Prince on the 'Purple Rain' tour. Took me a while to get over that one."

Well, I guess you showed him, Mr. "Yeah, I grew up to be a rock critic because of you." Though he probably gets a chuckle every time you have to cover something like a Hannah Montana show.

J. Freedom du Lac: Yeah, but I get to interview the Jonas Brothers!
Oh, wait...


What if Bon Jovi played in ancient China: They'd be Han Jovi.

J. Freedom du Lac: Very nice.
Video-game version: TRON Jovi. (Did we already say that? It's been a year.)


Glen Allen, Va.: Not all parents are unforgiven. My brother and I sent my mother to get tickets for The Cure (Halloween night, 1985, New Haven). She brought us the tickets and said "I hope these are OK" - she just took whatever Ticketmaster spit out, which turned out to be row B and there wasn't a row A.

J. Freedom du Lac: I hope you call her early and often, just to say hi.


Bethesda, Md.: "Somebody actually told me a story recently about Keef selling lemonade at a stand in front of his house in Connecticut. A fund-raiser for the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts or something. Now that would've been a sight to see."

God only knows what might be in that lemonade, though.

J. Freedom du Lac: Or ... see the next post.


Keef's Lemonade Stand: For a buck you get a cup of lemonade, and all of Keef's father's cremains that you can huff.

J. Freedom du Lac: Har.


Concerts: I have never been to a rock concert. Well, except for one back in the 1980s in Brussels, Belgium by Michel Sardou (who would hardly qualify as rock, IIRC). Am I missing out?

J. Freedom du Lac: Yes, you're missing life itself.


Arlington, Va.: re: Springsteen Every interview I've ever seen with him, he sounds that same "clinched teeth" way. I think he is very uncomfortable with being interviewed and it shows.

I will be seeing him in Richmond on 8/18 for what I think is about my 30th show of his. Never gets tired.

J. Freedom du Lac: You know, just the other day, I was trying to figure out when he did his last lengthy interview with This Very Newspaper. Is it possible that he's never done one? That's not possible, right? Either way, many years have passed since he's talked to us.
Come on, Kennedy Center Honors!


Oops, I did it again...: Would Bread open for Naan Jovi?

Just askin'...

J. Freedom du Lac: No, but Paneer at the Disco might.


Fenway Park: Bon Jovi cover band made up of Red Sox players: Papelbon Jovi

J. Freedom du Lac: Yes!


Kraftwerk's side project: Autobahn Jovi

J. Freedom du Lac: 68% chance that we covered this last year, but it's good.


Rockville, Md.: Are you looking forward to the Gnarls Barkley show as much as I am? I thought that while lacking in star power, The Odd Couple was a better overall album than St. Elsewhere. I've never seen them live, but from what I've heard, and the fact that it's at the 9:30 club, it should be an awesome gig. We can only hope they have good costumes lined up.

J. Freedom du Lac: The costumes can only carry them so far. I mean, GWAR wears costumes, too - but you don't see me rushing out to catch them in concert.
In reality, "The Odd Couple" probably succeeds precisely because Gnarls failed to produce a track that comes close to touching "Crazy." It's still not the most cohesive album around, but the songs aren't overshadowed by anything like a monster single (though I do love "Run").


When I was in prison: ...we had a tribute band: Con Jovi.

J. Freedom du Lac: We should make this a July tradition. Really.


Not again (bad Jersey Italian joke): When he becomes a godfather... Don Jovi

J. Freedom du Lac: All-star outfielder for the Brewers: Braun Jovi.


Ballet tribute to Bon Jovi: Swan Jovi

J. Freedom du Lac: Filipino band: Bataan Jovi.


Hair Metal in Space: KAHHHHNNNN!!! Jovi

J. Freedom du Lac: This is definitely a repeat. But a good one.


Rockville, Md.: To get the geeks to the show...The Wrath of Khan-Jovi

J. Freedom du Lac: (See above.)
Speaking of repeats, I was about to reprise my Koran Jovi joke from last year. Until I realized that it was from last year.
Any more original ideas?


Braun Jovi: Or if he starts working out, Brawn Jovi.

J. Freedom du Lac: Also a repeat.
(Tribute band made up of bodybuilders: Brawn Jovi.)


Falls Church, Va.: Tribute band fronted by Dave Coulier: Bon Joey

J. Freedom du Lac: That's a new one. Nice!
The VN-American-female-fronted cover band would be Thuy-Doan Jovi. (I had a colleague in Sacramento named Thuy-Doan.)


Washington, D.C.: First show: 10 rows back and center stage Rush (Mr Big opening) at Reunion Arena in Dallas, TX in 1988 or 1989. Not into Mr. Big anymore (never really was, but they DID open) but still love Rush (saw them last weekend at Nissan...RAWK ON!)

J. Freedom du Lac: How old were you, and have you been able to hear since?


Bethesda, Md.: After a bout with illness, Wan Jovi.

J. Freedom du Lac: Yeah, we're definitely out of new ideas.
(Tribute band performing Bon Jovi songs in the style of Coldplay: Yawn Jovi.)
Thanks for stopping by. Back next week for a Jovi-free chat.
Enjoy Girl Talk.


© 2008 The Washington Post Company