Thursday, Nov. 12th, 2009

Sweet Frank Lloyd Wright LEGO set for architecture nerds

Hey, Wisconsin gets to claim Frank Lloyd Wright as its own, right? Am I right? Good, Then this is totally relevant: Ten-year olds everywhere can now build New York City’s Guggenheim Museum with their own two hands … a much smaller version out of LEGO pieces, that is. In 2008, the LEGO Group and Adam Reed Tucker of Brickstructures, Inc. introduced the LEGO Architecture line. This series has recently expanded to include the Frank Lloyd Wright Collection – the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and, coming this August, “Fallingwater.” Both Frank Lloyd Wright sets contain booklets with building instructions, archival historical material, and photographs of each building. The LEGO models were developed in collaboration with real architects, hoping to inspire a younger generation of builders. Other LEGO Architecture sets include: the Sears Tower, the John Hancock Center, the Empire State Building, and the Space Needle.

Yes! Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, woo!!

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Show Review: Irie Sol at the Snout Saloon

It was a wild party at the Snout Saloon. It was a struggle to get from the front door to the dance floor. The house was packed and lively. And, for a good reason. The band Irie Sol is the pinnacle of a party band to come to the Snout. Their music is an interesting mix of traditional reggae and poppy hip-hop, rappin' to a reggae beat, and I loved it!

I will confess, I don't listen to a lot of reggae. Maybe a few times a year I get in a Bob Marley mood. Sometimes a little UB-40. So I am by no means an expert on the genre. I know a good time when I see it though, and the bar was overflowing with those.

The really great thing about Irie Sol is where they are taking reggae music. They are doing some of their stuff as a hip-hop crossover and I find this very exciting. I really like how they are bringing in some rap style vocal delivery.

Another thing I love about an Irie Sol show is audience involvement …

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Wednesday, Nov. 11th, 2009

Dude, where’s your car?

If you live in Eau Claire's Third Ward and were rushing out the door this morning so you might only be 15 minutes late to work, only to realize your car was missing, we might know what happened. As the Leader-Telegram points out, 41 cars were towed straight outta the Third Ward in the past few days so our city’s street mechanical street sweeping behemoths could get at all those pesky leaves in the gutter. Apparently, the city’s had temporary “no parking” signs up in that area for over a week, and people just didn’t seem to care. So now those people are out $30 in citation monies, plus another $50 in towing fees. If your car is mysteriously gone, you’re supposed to call the City-County Communications Center (839-4972) so they can see if your car was among the towed. If so, you then need to call A to Z Towing & Recovery (835-6653) because they got your ride impounded, yo.

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Tuesday, Nov. 10th, 2009

New Justice Center location coming soon?

It’s déjà vu all over again as Eau Claire County’s jail site selection committee narrows its list of sites down from 34 possibilities. Before we get too far, let’s mention the actual name of said committee: Select Committee to Recommend Justice Center Building Sites. Nice. Anyhoo, committee chair Ken Fulgione said they’ve probably got it down to six locations. From the Leader-Telegram:

  • Nine audience members attended Monday's rather informal session, the committee's second in working toward a selection of one or two sites.
  • "I think we're working well on developing the criteria we need, but, at least right now, I'm not getting enough feedback from the public," Fulgione said, adding that he's expecting to get a lot more as the site list shrinks. "I'm sure there will be plenty of comments once we narrow it way down."
  • Major criteria items include the site size, location, cost containment factors and compatibility with zoning, community, environmental and other issues.

So things might be heating up again soon as the location (recommendation) search draws to an end. Stay tuned.

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Amazon.com likes our music

Take a second and imagine all of the music that’s produced in a year. You’ve got the Top 40 artists, jazz musicians, metal thrashers, pasty dudes singing in the shower – it’s really quite mind-boggling. So, last week, Amazon.com, one of the largest media retailers ever, puts together a list of the 100 Outstanding ’09 Albums You Might Have Missed. Guess who is #17? Well, seventeen is some generic pop-sounding outfit with a vaguely Dylan-esque lead singer called Brookville. But #18? Yeah, that’s Eau Claire’s favorite electro-indie-pop group Laarks. And #78? Funny you should ask, because that’s local orchestral-pop wunder-group The Daredevil Christopher Wright. And after picking through this list, I can assure you this is not just some laundry list of all the indie albums from the year that Amazon would like to unload – it features jazz, hip-hop, country, and even some classical, which means some thought actually went into these picks.

This really is a cool moment for local music fans – whenever the national press speaks of the Bearded One, they always mention Eau Claire as a hotbed of rock talent. Although quite a few local groups have been touring their little keisters off and earning some very respectable blogosphere attention, they have not yet garnered the type of attention that crosses over into the non-musical-hipster realm, i.e. where real people live. Inclusion on this list, though, definitely elevates Laarks and Daredevil to a different level of national notoriety.

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Monday, Nov. 9th, 2009

Show Review: Leiah Webb at Haymarket Grill

I have been waiting for this opportunity for a long time. It was March of this year when I saw Leiah Webb for the first time. She was warming up for Brian Bethke at the Hallie Bar. Ever since that time I tried to align my schedule with Leiah's solo dates but it never quite worked out. Most of the time she was busy playing mandolin in the Evergreen Grass Band, not really playing solo very often. I felt like her talent would get buried in a band the size of Evergreen. Her solo gig was worth the wait.

I noticed immediately when we walked into the Haymarket Grill there was a change in Leiah since I had seen her last. Where previously she had been shy in her playing and singing, she now exhibited the confidence only stage time can deliver. And, though she mentioned being sick and thinking her voice was off, I thought she sounded great. In most of her songs she has deeper voice, harder edged, than what you think of with your standard female folk vocalists. At times she is able to work in a hint of whimsey. There are other times times when she sounds just like Ani Difranco. I guess it is this ability to cross over styles that makes her the exciting young artist she is.

The number of well known (at least by me) covers are limited. I walked in just in time to hear the song Bubbly by Colbie Caillat, and made famous as a song of the iPod in Apple Computer commercials. …and, in all honesty, it might have been New Soul by Yael Naim. It was some Apple song anyway. At the moment I had lost my pen and had to get one from the bar so I didn't get the title written down. It was done well and was a perfect example Leiah delivering the whimsey Apple must have loved in the original ...

Check out the rest of Leiah's review over at the Freaks & Geeks blog, originating from somewhere in Chippewa Falls, Wis.

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Sarah Palin tips us off to evil coin plot

OK, so there was no actual talk of “evil plots” or “satanic conspiracies” or “godless agendas” but Palin seemed pretty peeved about previous US coinage designs while talking to some Wisconsinites last Friday. From The Huffington Post:

  • Sarah Palin didn't allow press at her speech Friday at a Wisconsin Right to Life fundraising banquet, and attendees were barred from bringing cell phones, cameras, laptops, or recording devices of any kind. But Politico managed to get a few reporters in to hear the former Alaska governor again raise the specter of death panels and claim an anti-Christian conspiracy in the redesign of U.S. coins.
  • … In Wisconsin, Palin also expressed fear over the moving of "In God We Trust" to the edge of American coins. "Who calls a shot like that?" she demanded. "Who makes a decision like that?" She added: "It's a disturbing trend."

I'm sick of hearing about death panels, but that coin stuff is funny. Or maybe I just love imagining famous people imagining conspiracies. Or all of the above.

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Thursday: OK Go

The big OK Go show this week. In case you’re too out-of-touch with pop culture or just too damn cool to know, here’s a quick description of OK Go that, yes, uses the word “sensibilities” in describing the bands sound:

  • OK Go, the band that created the decade's most viewed music video – the treadmill-choreographed "Here It Goes Again" – will appear in concert with a special guest to be announced. The Chicago band combines off-kilter guitars, geek rock and straightforward power pop sensibilities to produce eccentric, catchy songs. Details.

So the band will be at UWEC’s Zorn Arena on Thursday at 7pm. You know, everyone loves that treadmill stuff, but this earlier video was way funnier. If you follow Volume One on Facebook or Twitter, keep your eyes open, as we’ll be giving away tickets soon …

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Saturday, Nov. 7th, 2009
Friday, Nov. 6th, 2009

Saturday: Forbidden Broadway

This weekend’s big show is down at the State Theatre on Saturday night (7:30pm). Check it: “Celebrating its record-breaking 25th anniversary season and taking aim at all the well-known favorites, Forbidden Broadway rewrites and performs Broadway hits like you’ve never heard them before! This year’s special victims include “Chicago,” “Beauty and the Beast,” and the witches of “Wicked” and more! Some content may not be suitable for younger audiences. Be sure to visit ForbiddenBroadway.com for a complete preview.” More details.

Also on Saturday: Community Televison's Annual Auction, Heroes, Ballroom, Swing and Latin Dance, Proof, AND the Wookiefoot CD Release Show + The Excellent Adventure + The Evergreen Grass Band!

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