Freedom Rock

J. Freedom du Lac
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 4, 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 Nicole Scherzinger does.

The transcript follows.


J. Freedom du Lac: Greetings, citizens.

Let's rock the vote.


Austin, Tex.: ZZ Top is Republican.

J. Freedom du Lac: Well, the singer from Orleans is Democrat.


Washington, D.C.: Saw David Byrne in Atlantic City on Saturday. What a great show, he worked the place into a frenzy, the crowd was going insane the whole time, but particularly during the Talking Heads songs like Once in a Lifetime and Burning Down the House. The new album material went over very well also. Would highly recommend checking him out at the Warner this weekend, it's worth the price of admission. Hoping for a good review in the Post next week.

J. Freedom du Lac: Noted.

We're not reviewing the Warner show, as I sent Klimek to review the show at the Lyric Opera House in Baltimore back in September. David Byrne review (Sept. 19)


McLean, Va.: Hi J. - Just wanted to note the unfortunate passing of Jimmy Carl Black - "The Indian of the Group," yesterday from cancer. He was always one of my favorite Mothers. RIP.

J. Freedom du Lac: Had one of the great IDs in rock, too.

Who was the more influential and important Native American in rock: Jimmy Carl Black or Felipe Rose?


Hollywood, Calif.: Take me back to Tulsa. I'm too young to marry.

J. Freedom du Lac: Could this be our first Bob Wills reference of the year? Yes. Yes it is.

One of the best things to land in my mailbox here over the past few years is the Bob Wills box that Sony put out a couple of years back. "Legends of Country Music." Put it on your Christmas/Kwanzaa list this year. It's outstanding.


Up a Stick: I have been trying to come up with anagrams of Jon Bon Jovi's name. The best I've come up with so far is "VJ in OJ boon" which makes me think of a television presenter who has just won a lifetime supply of orange juice. Am I going completely crazy?

J. Freedom du Lac: It's not the idea that VJ in OJ boon makes you think of Ryan Seacrest and Sunny Delight. It's that you've been trying to come up with Jon Bon Jovi anagrams. You need help.


L'enfant Plaza, Washington, D.C.: J. Free---

Were you at the Who concert at Verizon last night? I gave up my tickets so my Dad could go, and he told me that they were still rockin'. They even busted out some of the Tommy stuff in the encore.

PS - Where do you think Sabathia ends up?

J. Freedom du Lac: Lots of Who questions/comments in the queue today. I wasn't there myself, but we have an Andrew Beaujon review running in tomorrow's paper. I just asked him to IM me his thoughts, in five words or less: "moments of majesty, sometimes sucked"


Hey!: Don't make fun of Felipe Rose. Disco wouldn't have been the same without his musical anklets.

J. Freedom du Lac: I love the second paragraph from Hank Stuever's Jan. 2005 storyabout Felipe's donation of a gold 45 of "YMCA" to the National Museum of the American Indian:

And the museum happily and ceremoniously accepted it (a Lakota prayer was sung first, then everyone danced to "Y.M.C.A."), on the precept that sooner or later they might need such an artifact of a bygone era, perhaps to flesh out a future exhibit on the folkloric value of disco, and native cultural responses to it. (No, you shut up. It could happen. Why not? There are only so many ceramic pots, war bonnets and kachina dolls that people can stand to look at, and so when the day comes that someone asks, Hey, what about the Indian dude from the Village People? the Smithsonian, as ever, will be ready.)


Washington, D.C.: Here's what bothered me about the Toby Keith interview. First he says he knows that profiling Muslims is wrong, but then says people will do it anyway. Later in the same response, he says that American Muslims have not gone on TV enough to proclaim their love of country. To me, this sounds like a long, convoluted way of saying, "profiling may be wrong, but we'll still do it because you haven't done enough to keep us from profiling you."

I read this as blaming the victim for encouraging mistreatment by someone else. I respect the fact that he tries to portray himself as politically independent, but this does not sound independent. It just sounds ignorant and xenophobic.

J. Freedom du Lac: Natalie Maines, get in here! Or are you here already?

I didn't agree with Toby's line of thinking there, either. Sometimes, he makes a lot of sense. Sometimes, he seems to be on another planet. A lot of times, I think he says stuff just to get people talking. In fact, he basically claimed during

the interview

that he pushes buttons to keep himself in the headlines. So yeah.


"It's that you've been trying to come up with Jon Bon Jovi anagrams. You need help": Name of therapy group - BondingJovi

J. Freedom du Lac: Very nice.

I have a legitimate Bon Jovi reference in an upcoming story, by the way. Writing about T-Pain and Auto-Tune and noting the use of talk box and vocoder over the years. Of COURSE I was going to name Bon Jovi ahead of, like, Aerosmith, Alan Parsons and Joe Walsh.


The Who at Verizon: Demonstrated their legendary status last night with a high energy set that touched on many highlights of their illustrious career. Townshend stroked, ravaged, and totally controlled his Telecaster reminding those present of his influence on so many guitarists in the world of rock and roll. Daltrey's voice, while somewhat frayed, gained power as the evening progressed and "Won't Get Fooled Again" followed by "My Generation" was a marvelous reminder of this singer's strength. A rare "Naked Eye" concluded the set -- always a sign the band is enjoying themselves. Zak Starkey must also be credited with the propulsive force of the concert and it's hard to think of a pop drummer today who plays with more power. The encore "Tommy" medley brought the crowd to its feet again and again from the opening "Pinball Wizard" to the truly classic rock of "See Me Feel Me." For this veteran of 30 years of the Who in concert, tonight was as good as any show I've seen. Bravo maestros.

J. Freedom du Lac: Beaujon, is that you? You've filed to the wrong place. Also, the review is a little short. (And where's the stuff you promised about the low points?)


Atlanta, Ga.: Cilizza says (in print) that Wildo is the best band in the world. Will you punch him in the (groin) for us?

J. Freedom du Lac: Wildo! That's perfect, whether it was unintentional or not.

I'd punch (or even kick) Chris, but I think he's rolling with Secret Service protection now that he's been assigned to the White House by The Post. Plus, we need to get some guest-blogging out of him before he goes on the DL.

He and Malitz have been arguing about the greatest Dylan album via email. It's like "Crossfire" without the bow tie.


If it sings like the Who, is it the Who?: Was that the Who last night at Verizon? My ticket said so but I have my doubts. To me it was more like Who-lite, less carbs and not the same flavor. With such a broad catalog of songs, we get the same retreads of songs that have been on their setlist since 1979. Their encore should have been "Money".

J. Freedom du Lac: A dissenting opinion.


D.C. y'all: How do free tickets for music reviewers work? Do venues set aside a certain number of seats for the press? Or does the artist determine that? Do you and your colleagues reach out to artist and venues on the shows you want to review? And have you ever been denied tickets to a show?

By the way, The Who was awesome last night.

J. Freedom du Lac: We just show them our fake Woodward and Bernstein IDs at the door and demand to be put in the front row. Unless it's GWAR or Insane Clown Posse, in which case, Malitz likes to sit in the DMZ, near the sound board.

Seriously, though ... some promoters/venues are much easier to deal with than others, but the presenters in this region are generally very good to us. It's rare that we can't get into a show. But it does happen sometimes. When Rams Head in Annapolis announces that a show is sold out, they really mean sold out! I also couldn't get into the first Clap Your Hands Say Yeah show at the Black Cat because there was too much demand for tickets. But now that I think about it, I actually wasn't trying to review it. I just wanted to see what the fuss was about while somebody else slaved over the review.


XL Myself: There haven't been so many middle-aged white people in the city after dark since the hockey playoffs. They must've sold a million dollars worth of double-ex-ell t-shirts last night at Verizon. But after a slow start the Who rocked the house. Anybody else see the show last night?

J. Freedom du Lac: "There haven't been so many middle-aged white people in the city after dark since the hockey playoffs."



Silver Spring, Md.: Thought The Who performed an excellent show last evening (and Zak Starkey just might have been the top musician on the stage). Assuming you were there, wondering how you might characterize Roger Daltrey's vocal performance? And crowd size also seemed off from their last appearance.

J. Freedom du Lac: I believe it: Starkey was the catalyst during their great set at Virgin Festival in 2006.


One vote for Felipe: "Who was the more influential and important Native American in rock: Jimmy Carl Black or Felipe Rose?"

Although I would approve, you don't see anyone going as a member of the Mothers for Halloween.

J. Freedom du Lac: But you have to admit: There are some pretty sweet costume possibilities.


Vote Today, Pitchfork Tomorrow: Since when was voting rock and roll?

J. Freedom du Lac: Since the 1960s.

Pitchfork is clearly behind the idea of making the first Tuesday of November a national holiday. So today, I like them a little bit more.


Silver Spring, Md.: I need to point out that the magnificent "Naked Eye" was a staple of last year's tour. Having said that, it KILLS me that I wasn't at last night's show. Can anyone attest to whether or not NEW material was debuted?

J. Freedom du Lac: Anyone?


Washington, D.C.: Any word on the Stevie Wonder concert to follow his acceptance of the Gershwin Award in February?

J. Freedom du Lac: Haven't heard anything about it since the Library of Congress announced Stevie as the recipient. But when he received the American Troubadour Award from ASCAP on the Hill in 2006, the lineup included Smokey Robinson, Tony Bennett, Wynonna, Chaka, Joan Osborne, Brian McKnight, Wyclef, Dianne Reeves, Jon Faddis, India.Aire and Ashford and Simpson. And, um, Barbara Boxer, crying.

Given that the program wasn't even televised, and that publishing-company politics may or may not have limited the lineup, I suspect the February concert celebration to be pretty stacked.


Alexandria, Va.: Nothing new. The closest thing was stuff of their Wire and Glass CD -- "Fragments" and "Tea and Theatre" -- and "Real Good-Looking Boy" from their recent Best Of.. Pete was amazing on guitar-- just iridescent, especially during the Overture/Amazing Journey encore stuff. Love them!

J. Freedom du Lac: Thanks. Passing it along.


Washington, D.C.: What is the best way to get to a meet a musician during one of their shows? One of my husband's faves is going to be at the 9:30 club, and I would love to figure out a way to get him backstage even if it was just for a quick handshake. Thanks for any advice!

J. Freedom du Lac: During a show? I dunno, mugging the guitar tech and making your way onto the stage. Before or after - you just have to be creative. I don't think there's a fail-safe way to meet 'em, but you could always get to the club super-early - or wait around after the set - to see if the musician is in a flesh-pressing mood. Don't take it personally if s/he isn't, though - unless the artist refers to you by name in saying something insulting.


Who set list last night-not beaujon again: nothing totally new but a couple from Endless Wire. Ok, Naked Eye might not be that rare but it's special song for us long time fans and they played it very well last night

I Can't Explain, The Seeker, Relay, Fragments, Who Are You, Behind Blue Eyes, Real Good Looking Boy (nice segue into Can't help Fallin in Love), Sister Disco, Baba O'Riley, Gettin' In Tune, Eminence Front, 5.15, Love Reign O'er Me, Won't Get Fooled Again, My Generation, Naked Eye, Pinball Wizard, Amazing Journey, Sparks, See Me Feel Me, Tea And Theatre

J. Freedom du Lac: Helpful, thanks.

Did the Who sell out?


ZZ Top is Republican: So all this time Sarah Palin could have been using "Legs" as her theme song.

J. Freedom du Lac: I'm really, really glad that we won't be hearing any more about presidential campaign music for a few years.

By the by, assuming Nate Silver is right about that 98.9 win percentage for Obama ... who's gonna sing "A Change Is Gonna Come" at the inauguration? Wonder if Aretha has Jan. 20 open on her calendar...


Charlottesville, Va.: Who do you now think is the greatest rock 'n' roll band of all time? I came across an old review of yours when Pearl Jam opened for the Rolling Stones and you implied it was the former.

J. Freedom du Lac: I think I'm still getting hate mail about that review. I'm pretty sure that I didn't say they were the greatest of all time, though. Just that at the time, they were the better band.

Depends on your definition of rock. If it's broadly defined, then it's the Beatles. If it's more narrowly defined, I might actually vote for Bruce and the E Street Band. Or the Clash.


Phone Booth: How was Pino Palladino on bass at the Who show last night? Did they play any blues songs in between the hits?

J. Freedom du Lac: Anyone?


Washington, D.C.: Your predecessor at the Post said that Pete Townshend has the best right hand in rock. I liked that description of him, although you may disagree with it.

J. Freedom du Lac: That's excellent! (Which predecessor, by the way? I'm not finding that reference in our digital archives.)


SS, Md. (again): Thanks for the Who set list! 1. I was thrilled to hear "Naked Eye" last year, so I certainly don't want to dampen anyone's enthusiasm for it's return in last night's set. 2. AB, I'm a big "Bruiser" fan. -Jet Age Eric

J. Freedom du Lac: I feel like the guy at the party who didn't watch "Gossip Girl" and therefore can't really participate in the discussion about the long and winding road that Blair traveled on her way to getting into Yale.


My Definition of Rock 'n' Roll: "A large burrowing nocturnal mammal that has a long snout, extensible tongue, powerful claws, large ears, and heavy tail and feeds especially on termites and ants."

J. Freedom du Lac: Well, in that case, it has to be Damn Yankees.


Anonymous: "A Change Is Gonna Come" is a great, great song.

They should also have Celine Dion reprise "If I Can Dream" with Holographic Elvis.

J. Freedom du Lac: Ryan Shaw cold-opens his shows sometimes with "Change," and it's just incredible.

Celine, on the other hand ...


Will it happen: Led Zeppelin 2009 tour? I keep hearing all the Myles Kennedy rumours. The guy can't squeal like the ole lemon squeezer but what the heck, Pink Floyd went on without Roger Waters and no one really seemed to care that much

J. Freedom du Lac: I hate the idea of those guys touring while Robert Plant sits it out. Whether it's motivated by greed or ego, how can this possibly be any good?


A change is Gonna Come: I vote for Mr. Al Green:

J. Freedom du Lac: Perfect, if he can restrain himself from going off on one of those meandering ad-lib sidebars mid-song.


the westerberg effect: Saturday night in Asbury Park, the Light of Day concert provided interesting contrasts. Willie Nile, Joe D'Urso, and the massively underappreciated Joe Grushecky provided hefty does of American bar rock. Yet, I was struck by the performances of Marah, Jesse Malin, and Johnny Resnick (Goo Goo Dolls) and how much their works, and many of their peers, are not just influenced but directly derivative of Paul Westerberg and the Replacements. Which brings me to my question. At what point do the Mats get enshrinement in the R&R HOF or at least a tribute concert? Or, am I overstating the Mats legacy?

J. Freedom du Lac: And actually, if somebody put together a tribute concert, wouldn't they have to stage three or four of them to get one good one? The Mats didn't have the greatest batting average in concert.


A Bruce comment: Good weekend to be a Springsteen fan. Two new songs and a strong rumor that the new album will be out around Inauguration Day.

J. Freedom du Lac: Guess we can rule him out for the 2009 Kennedy Center Honors, then!


Washington, D.C.: Can't Jimmy Page and J.P. Jones and drummer and singer to be named later just tour under a different name (How about "The Hindenburg") and play Led Zeppelin songs? Of course they can, and of course it is about greed and a desire to return to the limelight. Touring under the rubric of "Led Zeppelin" sets all kinds of high expectations. Concert goers are bound to be disappointed as the band falls short.

J. Freedom du Lac: I'm not so sure about that. I think that to tons of people, the musical proffer won't matter as much as just being there for The Event. The happening, in combination with nostalgia, would carry the day for a big chunk of the crowd.


Seattle, Wash.: "Of COURSE I was going to name Bon Jovi ahead of, like, Aerosmith, Alan Parsons and Joe Walsh."

But of course, you did not name BonJovi before Peter Frampton, right? Right?

dyoo wooo feee-eww wwiiike I dooooo....

J. Freedom du Lac: Frampton gets a special shout out in, like, the second paragraph, right after the warbling chipmunk.


Led Zeppelin 2009 tour: It's an important philosophical question. How much of Led Zeppelin do you have to take away before they cease to be Led Zeppelin?

J. Freedom du Lac: I think you can do it if the three living members are on board. But just as it wouldn't make sense for Page-Plant to use the name while they went out without John Paul, I don't think Page-Jones should use the name without Plant in the fold.


STL : I love the Black Kids! Have you heard?

J. Freedom du Lac: Everything I know, I learned from "Gossip Girl."

I like them only slightly more than MGMT and Shwayze.


Nashville, Tenn.: Maybe Jimmy Page and JPJ could replace RP with Alison Krauss.

J. Freedom du Lac: I'd rather see Robert Plant and Union Station.


Alexandria, Va.: Hey FdL, I know you love to hate jam bands. Can I have your Hampton Phish tickets?

J. Freedom du Lac: Stand outside my office, wearing last week's clothes (and, of course, some patchouli), and hold up your index finger ... and I just might hook you up.


Hindenburg: But isn't the quality of the music and the performance what separates a great event (lower case) from an "Event?" Isn't this why Celine Dion sells out huge venues while James McMurtry fills up the Birchmere? Isn't that why "sometimes sucked" was part of the Who show?

J. Freedom du Lac: It should be, but it isn't always. People aren't always clear-headed about what's happening up on that stage, in part because I think they just don't care sometimes. Just being there is good enough.


Indianapolis, Ind.: Just wanted to report in that I saw AC/DC last night, and they were seriously amazing. I only wish that Angus Young had kept his shirt on (eww) and that my ears would stop ringing.

J. Freedom du Lac: Rock out with your Barack out.

And on that note, I'm out. Thanks for stopping by.

Quick programming note: There will be no music chat next week. At least not at 2 pm EST on Tuesday. I'll be listening to Gretchen Wilson's new album that afternoon, at the bar where she used to work, before doing a late lunch interview with one of country's newest stars.


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