Drugs! Childbirth! Rock! and... Um, Where's My Coffee?

Tim Brennan

Well good day, Charleston! It’s been about a month since my last post, which, apparently was read by a lot of people. In order for a blog to be successful, a blogger must capitalize on the popularity of a well-read post by posting another soon after. Not me. I’m a rebel.


... Or just a slacker bent on derailing any of life’s momentum.


Either that, or… I had a kid! Actually, my wife is the one who gave birth. But I’ll take all your congratulations, offers to buy me a beer, help recording an album of my lack of hits. All that stuff.


And so I’ll use the excuse of my new baby girl as the reason I have not posted anything to Grit lately. I’m hoping that since the editor is a woman, she will not penalize me for being a man and using childbirth as an excuse.


My daughter is fine, by the way. Better than fine. Healthy, happy, and adorable. My Facebook friends will attest that I have been posting photos of her. My wife, moreover, rocked. Face melting, fist pumping, roof shaking, ROCKED. Labor came quickly and we arrived at the hospital too late for drugs or even an IV. Seriously, no painkillers while going through that? I need painkillers if I try to go surfing.


But what does this have to do with the Charleston music scene? That’s what I’ve been asking myself. I’ve wondered how to include having a child as part of my blog. I’ve asked my daughter to review some music (the new Dylan makes her fussy, Japandroids calms her down. Interesting). I’ve begun teaching her why she should not date drummers. Duh. Everyone knows that. I’ve researched the history of Charleston rock bands so I can imagine what the scene will be like when she is a teenager. I’ve read other blogs at 4 a.m. when she was awake and crying for mom. I’ve practiced my music at very low volumes while she slept in the afternoon. And from all this, she has taken a lot of what passed for my intelligence, scrambled it up, and served it back to me in kiddie talk. This is my third child. I should be used to this by now. Though my first two are nine and 11, so I’ve forgotten a whole lot. I get distracted easily.


I am determined to get back to writing, but have resigned myself to the fact that it may be a while before I hold a cohesive and long thought.


So today, how about random thoughts?


1. I read a Grit post from Prioleau Alexander that I found hilarious. The post is an open letter to college freshmen. I wanted to take that idea and do the same for bands, however, in my scrambled egg brain, I could not do it justice. I suggest you read his blog. And I would ask Prioleau that if getting a frat tattoo is bad, how bad would it be if I got a tattoo of a band I’m in? We’ve been together for over a decade, which is longer than most of my relationships. And where is a good tattoo place around Charleston?



2. Drugs. As I've said, my wife did birth without them. I was at a social outing with families from my son’s Catholic school recently and I overheard some moms talking. The subject of high school came up. One opined, “Freshman year, you just have to worry about them learning how to study, but in sophomore year, they’ll go through the drugs and heavy drinking stage. You just have to keep them out of jail until they get through that and into junior year, when they'll start visiting colleges.” Mmmmm. Veeeeeryyyyy sound advice.


Then a week later, I was chatting with another parent about our kids joining either the school band or sports. I told them that I was an athlete in high school, but that I gave it up in college in deference to music and girls. Another parent, knowing I was in rock band, said, “And the third thing,” wink wink. Oh yeah, I was in a band, so I must have done drugs. For a second, I wondered if she was hoping I was holding.


Then, just last night at my eldest daughter’s school (School of The Arts, that is—she’s already a better musician than I), the school handed out a survey asking if they need to hold a seminar on various topics, one of which was “Prescriptions: the drug of choice among today’s teens.” Drugs, drugs, drugs, drugs, drugs. Pretty soon I’d like to do a blog on drugs and rock and roll. Personally, I don’t do any. Nothing moral or anything like that. I just don’t. Not saying I’m innocent or have never tried. In Prioleau’s blog, he advises freshmen to avoid drugs and anyone who uses them. I’ve got a lot of drug use stories to tell, and will have to focus a separate post on just that.


3. Having kids makes it harder to get to shows. Sleep is not predictable and the older kids still need to get to school on time. Oh, and get fed. So if you invite me out to one of your shows, it better be darn good. The idea of driving home from the Pour House at 2 a.m. when I might be up two hours later is not appealing.


4. Is there any way that great live music can happen between 8:00 and 9:30? Or we can have a childcare facility attached to the bar? Yeah, that might be a bad idea.


5. Old guy at the bar... with a new child and the realization that my eldest is not that far off from going to clubs. I think the “Creepy Old Guy At The End Of The Bar” is what I’ve become. If you see me out at a club and think that I am that guy—tell me. I might not change my habits, but it will be good to know anyway.



6. Band of Horses. I’ve written four different reviews of their new CD Mirage Rock. Not one of them is cohesive. But all of them say the same thing: It’s good. Each review also notes that the CD is different than their previous. They are not relying as much on studio production. Instead, the songs take center stage. They even sound like they are having fun. But be warned. It is a change for this Lowcountry band. I hear Wilco, America, Crosby Stills, and Nash in their new songs. Matt Megrue of Loner’s Society told me it sounds to him like these songs could be played on their back porch. I’d agree. In the trajectory of their career, I’d call this "Wilco in Reverse." Whereas Wilco started out focusing on songs and acoustic guitars, then gravitated toward studio trickery, BOH leaned heavily on studio trickery on earlier records, and is now removing that crutch. Wilco lost me for a while when they changed. I happen to like this change from Band of Horses.


7. Coffee is a drug I fully support.



8. A Fragile Tomorrow. While I’ve seen this local band a few times around town, their posting of a video for their upcoming release really piqued my interest. Mark Bryan from Hootie and the Blowfish told me “These guys are the real deal.” When a guy who has sold millions of records calls a band “the real deal,” you can’t help but take note. I have to agree with him. These guys are under 21 years old and have recorded a fantastic record with legendary producer Mitch Easter (best known for his work with R.E.M.). On first listen, the music is certainly power pop with a shimmering West Coast keyboard vibe running through the mix. A couple of songs have the potential to break them to a much wider audience. Guest appearances on the record by members of the Bangles, Indigo Girls, Don Dixon, Mitch Easter, and others lend some star power to songs that are already five-star nuggets.


I had a chance to sit down with Sean Kelly and the story I got about them is fantastic. There is a depth to this band that ought to amaze and inspire listeners. Hopefully I can assemble all my notes and produce a picture of a band that is worth your full attention. Until I do that, I urge you to get into their music. Like them on Facebook. Better yet, get to Awendaw Green this Sunday as they play for a Nick Collins benefit. Their CD hits stores in January, but they are offering a free single through http://afragiletomorrow.bandcamp.com.


9. I STILL don’t use drugs and no, I can’t get you any. I have a story about a Baptist pastor who tried out for a band I was leading. He couldn’t play, but came to the audition thinking he could score some weed from a band that was well off the radar from any of his parishioners.


10. Shovels and Rope. Congratulations to this terrific Lowcountry duo. I love their music and so do a lot of people. As of the week ending September 16, SoundScan reports sales of 10,021 of their release O Be Joyful. That is like a gold record for local independent releases. They also reached #1 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart. Seriously, that is huge. Maybe you should be a fan of the band. Yes. You should.


11. Children of musicians. How are my kids going to rebel against me? Become accountants?




12. Nick Collins. The subject of my last post is still a long way from getting out of the hospital. There is a CaringBridge page to visit if you would like to get updates. And this Sunday, Awendaw will continue its efforts to assist by hosting a benefit for NAC Wins—the charity set up to raise money for Nick's family’s needs. If you see a car with a guitar and “NAC Wins” decal on the window, that is what it references. If you believe in prayer, say one when you see one of those stickers. Of all the causes you hear about, I implore you to support this one. Sunday’s concert will feature A Fragile Tomorrow and Nick’s band, Fowler’s Mustache. Also on the bill: a whole host of other bands worth checking out.


13. It’s lonely in blogsphere. Please keep me company. In my scattered-brained times, I’d like to ask for readers to participate. Please send me (trbrennan@me.com) your notes on which clubs are treating bands poorly. What was your most nightmarish gig? Who are the bands that will shake my inner core with their awesomeness? 


14. I really believe in coffee. And beer. Good beer. But then a lot of good coffee in the morning.


15. My wife gave birth without drugs. Crazy.


To the Grit Editor: I’d like to thank you in advance for fixing this mess. I’d offer you drugs as a sign of appreciation. But I don’t have any. Except coffee. Want some coffee? My wife got a script for Vicodin following the birth and didn’t take any. Maybe I need to see what all the teens are into? Nah. Did I mention that I’m a bit scatterbrained?


Editor's Note: We wouldn't dream of editing this gem. Congratulations to you and your wife from the entire Vicodin-deprived Grit team.