Bands of -h

I’ve had cause over the past couple weeks to attempt explaining my various bands, projects, and recordings to an audience that’s been mostly out of the loop since howie&scott’s signs.comets. We determined quickly that a flowchart of sorts was needed, and it was interesting enough to put together that I thought you guys might dig it too.

PRIMER: Bands of -h

They Might Be Giants at the Beaumont Club, 23 May 2008

Any conversation about They Might Be Giants starts for me with a memory of seeing them with Tim, Rebecca, JT, and Bluebird of Friendliness knows who else six or seven years ago at the old Royal Grove in Lincoln, NE.
It was a strip club.

Not during TMBG, though!  The venue regularly held rock shows, then clear everybody out after the music and switch over.

It was the James K. Polk tour, complete with light show, confetti, bunting and Polk banners.  The Band of Dans killed.  Linnell gave me a masters class in surliness, while Flansburgh rocked. out. on. the Telecaster, lifting it high for anything remotely resembling a big riff, roaming the stage with his wireless mic and stand, and tearing into his background vocals with an enthusiasm usually reserved for the showiest of show choir members.

Happily, not too much has changed.

Jill, Doug, and I were thoroughly rocked by the Giants’ set Friday night.

Kudos to the Beaumont for starting yet another show on time; this is becoming quite the habit over there.  And the sound was solid, with the exception that Flansburgh’s vocals were a little buried.

TMBG’s current incarnation is a stripped-down, loose outfit that reminds me of nothing so much as early Elvis Costello.  Their set spanned their entire career, including the expected highlights from “Flood” and a few selections from their recent children’s albums (“Seven”).  Flansburgh joked (At least I think he was joking) that the band doesn’t rehearse for their children’s gigs (they had one Saturday) except for onstage at their adult shows.

Given my history with the band, hearing the phrase “adult shows” from the stage was extra-special.

TMBG gave us a few surprises, including a masterful acoustic guitar introduction to “Istanbul,” a noisy, deconstructed interlude in the middle of “Particle Man,” Flansburgh introducing the members of the band…  twice…  and a pleasantly ramshackle version of “Fingertips.”

If you’ve ever been a fan of the band, or think you might become one, catch them on tour.  They don’t disappoint. -h

Catastrophe Chili

  • 5 cans of beans (I use 3 black / 2 red kidney.  You could also use chick peas, etc., and/or the equivalent volume of dried beans prepared according to their instructions)
  • 3 cans of diced tomatoes (Or the equivalent of fresh tomatoes… I’m guessing 12-15 romas, roughly chopped)
  • 3 granny smith apples, grated (in a food processor or on a cheese grater)
  • 2 medium to large onions, whatever type you like
  • 1 small can of chipotle peppers en adobo, blended/processed
  • 1 head of garlic, peeled and crushed (or less/more, to taste) (Lately I’ve been smashing each clove with the back of a knife, removing the skin, and just throwing it in whole.  When it’s crushed well like that, the flavor will penetrate the whole dish, and it’s OK and not overwhelming to eat the whole clove.  Or, you can chop them up.)
  • Optional:
    • chopped celery (optional, but recommended. 0-5 ribs, depending on how much you want to cut the heat of the chipotles), grated carrots, more hot peppers, bell peppers, barley or bulgur wheat, TVP or other veg protein… use your imagination!

In a BAP (Big Ass Pot), brown the onions and garlic (and celery/extra peppers, if you’re doing that) in olive oil.  When you get some good browning happening, make a hot spot at the bottom of the pot (push the onions aside, maybe add a pad of butter) and add the apples (and carrots, if you’re doing those) for just a couple minutes.  Make a hot spot again (no oil/butter needed) and add the blended/processed chipotles, just to let them bloom for a minute.  Add the tomatoes, give them a few minutes to bloom/reduce (especially if using fresh tomatoes), then add the beans.  Simmer for as long as you like, add any final spices you like (cumin seed, Mexican oregano, hot sauce, salt if needed).

I add a shake or two of salt at every step, so by the end, you shouldn’t need much, if any, additional salt.

You can serve it with crackers, popcorn, rice, crusty bread, veggies & dip, etc.  Garnish options: sharp cheddar, cilantro, fine-chopped onion, green onion…

A bold dose of cinnamon in a bowl of this chili will take it in a completely different direction.

* Updated 29 Oct 2012

NEW! Furious Instance

I just posted The Sleepover’s “Built For It,” from their obnoxiously long-titled EP, below as our twelfth “Furious Instance.”  We should do more of those, it’s a good idea; a home for all the stuff that doesn’t have a home on a proper release.

(The streaming version is also up-to-date)  -h