Friday, March 7, 2014

Monday's (Solo) Setlist: 3/2/14 McCormick Place, Chicago, Ill.

Sweet home, Chicago. Sweet, snowy, frigid, 
bone-snapping, nice-but-thankfully-temporary home...

I left Pittsburgh for what Skippy the Local Weatherman deemed "among Chicago's coldest winters on record," soooo hooray for that. We got more snow during the Soldier Field hockey game than Pittsburgh got in the whole Titan "storm."

But I did squeeze in a couple sets with some accompaniment by my sister, in-between bouts with frostbite. Archive link forthcoming:

Early set:
Strange Moon*
Garbage Man (M. McKinley)
New Mexican Shuffle*
Cyprus Avenue (V. Morrison) >
Quite a Night*
Mystery Train (J. Walker)
Went to See the Gypsy (Dylan) >
Like a Rolling Stone/Uncle John's Band teases >
Shady Grove (Trad.)
Slow Train (T. Bruno) >
Lady with a Fan (Dead) >
Deep Elem Blues (Trad.)

Late set:
The Captain* > 
'Spanish Ladies' tease > The Captain >
Jam >
Southwest Sky* >
Eyes of the World (Dead)
Dark as a Dungeon^ (M. Travis)
I Am Weary, Let Me Rest^ (Cox Family)
Goin' to Acapulco (Dylan/The Band)
Angel Band (Stanley Bros.)
Sweet Home Chicago (R. Johnson)

^with Rachel Grumet

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Last Night's Setlist: 2/1/14, Snow Ball, Lawrenceville, Pgh., Pa.

"...and a lotta love will be burnin' bright..."

It was short but sweet during the Snow Ball, at Cattivo in Lawrenceville. We debuted a new cover, an overlooked Rolling Stones gem, "Winter," from the equally-overlooked Goat's Head Soup album. We only had about a half-hour, but we made that sucker count, Jack!

One set:
Winter (Stones)
Mother's Meth Head Blues*
Evil Mind*
New Mexican Shuffle*
Viola Lee Blues (Trad., Dead arr.) >
China Cat Sunflower (Dead) >
Viola Lee Blues


Friday, January 31, 2014

'American Horror Story: Coven': The Great Moments Were Great, But What About the Rest?

The promos? Sick creepy awesome. 
The season? Ehhhhhrrmmm....

I'll admit that I nearly threw my remote at the television when the "American Horror Story: Coven" season finale started with a fucking Stevie Nicks music video. 

It reminded me — and not at all in a good way — of a particular pole-vaulting-the-shark moment in Ryan Murphy's breakout vehicle, "Nip/Tuck," when every character on the GD-motherf'n show broke out into a power ballad, somewhere around the Season 4 mark. That was the end of my "Nip/Tuck" viewing. I'm glad I stuck it out with this AHS season, but I was still left feeling frustrated with quite a bit. [SPOILERS AHEAD

To wit:

• There are literally no dramatic stakes when everyone can be (and pretty much has been) brought back from death. Cordelia's vision of the entire academy dead should have been a chilling portent of things to come, but how could it when most of them have already risen from the dead in a variety of ways?

• Their powers: witch skills were originally presented in a very "X-Men" way. Zoe has a killer vagina. Madison has telekinetic ability. Nan is clairvoyant. Queenie is a voodoo doll (which, uh, by the way, shouldn't that place her firmly on the Voodoo side? Shouldn't Fiona have seen her as a natural enemy, given the Salem-witches-are-white/Voodoo-witches-are-black setup of the show? Queenie can be a black Salem witch, but there are somehow no white Voodoo witches? There were certainly no black Salem witches in any of the coven's historical flashback segments). But over the course of the show, they all eventually develop a solid 60-70% of the Seven Wonder abilities, seemingly without practicing, at least not onscreen. I suppose Murphy and Falchuk may have thought it would be tough to stage practice sessions without it seeming like Hogwart's, so perhaps all the spell study takes place in the downtime between shows.

WHAT'S WITH THE ALBINO AFRICAN DUDES? SOMEBODY?? I think the writers missed out on a plot arc could have/should have been a major part of the friction between Voodoo witches and Salem witches. Maybe somewhere along the lines, Salem witches kidnapped a couple of Voodoo devotees and "changed" them into, well, slaves. I don't know, the moment the Salem/Voodoo beef was revealed, my first thought was, "Ooh, how do the albino African dudes fit in?"

• Race in general was a little problematic for me in this season, and not just because of the multiple scenes of white people torturing black people (though I did enjoy Papa Legba's role-reversal once Laveau and LaLaurie got to Hell). I read a lot of blowback about the portrayal of Papa Legba from voodoo devotees, but I mean, c'mon, this isn't exactly a fact-driven show... I don't know if the show was trying to say something about race — to me it didn't. Certainly no one came to a realization regarding their racist feelings: LaLaurie's racial come-to-Jesus moment was as shlocky as they come, and she went right back to her old ways as soon as she got the chance... Marie Laveau only came to Fiona out of desperation... to me it seemed like the underlying theme was power's corrupting influence. Once confusion set in about the identity of the next Supreme, it was every woman for herself. Zoe managed not to directly harm any of the other witches, that I can recall, but she was the only one. 

• Back to their powers for a second, Madison's death scene made absolutely no sense to me. She just performed five out of the Seven Wonders — INCLUDING CONTROLLING KYLE'S MIND AND MAKING HIM DO WHATEVER SHE WANTED — and yet she couldn't stop him from strangling her. Wha... tha... fa...?

More to come...

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Tonight's Setlist: 11/8/13, Club Café, Pittsburgh, Pa.

"Look on the corner, see Mary Jane,
She's gone on out there shakin' that thang..."

We spent all October woodshedding some new tunes, and tonight we got to play them for the folks at Club Café. It took me a little while to settle into the groove, but we had a chance to stretch out on a nice lengthy second-set jam that weaved in and out of a little Dr. John, Beatles, Dead and more.

Click here to stream/download the set, courtesy of

Early set:
Lou-Easy-Ann (J.J. Cale) >
Deep Elem Blues (Trad.)
Me and My Uncle (Dead) >
Smokestack Lightning (C. Burnett) >
Graveyard Train (Fogerty) >
Shake That Thing (L. Hopkins) 
Friend of the Devil (Dead)
Evil Mind*
The Cars Hiss By My Window (J. Morrison)
Slow Train (T. Bruno)

Late set:
Meet Me in the Morning (Dylan)
Mother's Meth Head Blues*
Magnolia (J.J. Cale) >
Jam >
I Like It*
It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry (Dylan)
Penthouse Pauper (Fogerty) >
Jam > Feelin' Alright (S. Winwood) >
Gris Gris Gumbo Ya Ya (M. Rebennack) >
Berta Berta (Trad., Varine arr.) >
Jam >
Rain (Lennon-McCartney) >
Viola Lee Blues (Trad., Dead arr.) >
Whiskey River (W. Nelson)


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Last Night's Setlist (Solo): 11/6/13, Penn Hills Coffeehouse, Penn Hills, Pa.

"When you go down to Deep Elem,
keep your money in your shoes..."

The Penn Hills Coffeehouse is always a good time, a chance to try out original tunes we haven't learned for Charlie Hustle and, of course, do some publicity-whoring for the upcoming show...


...okay, now we got that out of the way... Archive link will be up soon.

One set:
Cyprus Avenue (V. Morrison)
New Mexican Shuffle*
Gris Gris Gumbo Ya Ya (M. Rebennack)
Penthouse Pauper (CCR)
Deep Elem Blues (Trad.) >
Berta Berta (Trad., Varine arr.) >
Stone Soup*


Saturday, November 2, 2013

Charlie Hustle Live! 11/8/13 Club Café, Pittsburgh, Pa.

Come check us out Nov. 8 at a 21+ show at Club Cafe, 56 S. 12th St. in Pittsburgh's South Side neighborhood. Good food, great beer and better tunes! Tickets are $7 at the door or online at Club Cafe's website. Grab yer dancin' shoes and come get your Hustle on!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

VIDEO: "Rain > Friend of the Devil > Whiskey River"

Check out the suite that closed the first set at Charlie Hustle & the Grifters' 8/31/13 show at Rosedale Beach Club, "Rain > Friend of the Devil > Whiskey River."

And be sure to check us out Nov. 8, 10 p.m. at Club Cafe, 56 S. 12th St., on Pittsburgh's South Side! Click here for tickets!