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The Enation Tutorial

A beginner’s guide and 12 step program for becoming a fan of the indie band Enation.

1.  Watch General Hospital and become intrigued by Lucky Spencer and Jonathan Jackson.  (This first step can be swapped with many others, such as watch One Tree Hill, watch Saved By The Bell: The New Class, eat at Galeotti’s Restaurant, hear about this band from a friend, etc.)

2.  Visit the official Enation website.  Follow the link to CD Baby to check out the music.  Listen to the music samples.  Order three of the CDs because you can’t resist a good sale, but don’t tell anyone because it’s embarrassing to buy three CDs before you’ve heard a full song.

3.  Receive your three CDs in the mail and start playing them constantly.  Find a small problem with one of the CDs and feel delighted, because it means you get to send the band an email.  Get a response to your email and feel stupidly excited.

4.  Go to Ustream and watch the archived live concert, live rehearsal and live interview.  Find the answer to the question, what does the name Enation mean?  Then go to YouTube and watch the videos on EnationMusic’s channel, Daniel Sweatt’s channel (which are the funniest!), Jonathan Jackson’s channel, and then check out the fan videos.

5.  Go to facebook and “like” Enation’s fan page, and while you’re at it, “like” Jonathan Jackson’s page and Richard Lee Jackson’s page.  

6.  Go to twitter and “follow” Enation, Jonathan Jackson, Richard Lee Jackson, and Daniel Sweatt.  Add their twitter feeds to your Google Reader.

7.  Go back to the Enation official website and join Enation Army.  Don’t hold your breath waiting for your first “monthly” newsletter. 

8.  Go to the band’s Myspace page, if you can remember how, just because it’s there and you’re obsessed now.   Find some other fans online to chat with about the band, because you’re starting to annoy your friends and co-workers.

9.  Go to Amazon.com and order your first mp3 player so you can buy the Enation albums at CD Baby that are only available as downloads. 

10.  Go back to the official Enation website, order an autographed Enation photo from the band’s store.  Feel a little bit of disappointment when the photo arrives because it doesn’t have Luke Galeotti’s autograph on it.  Then see it as an opportunity to get it autographed when you finally see the band perform live.  Print out a small photo of Luke, because you’ve downloaded hundreds of photos off the internet, then stick it on the band photo and pretend he’s in the picture.

11.  Start buying lottery tickets, and hold off planning your vacation until the band announces another set of tour dates.

12.  Wait patiently (or impatiently) for the next concert, the next CD, the next tee shirt, the next tweet, the next DVD, the next book of poetry, the next video, the next monthly(?) newsletter…because now you’re hooked.

Enation (click to see big and even bigger)

 

Sight and Sound

Don’t laugh.  I’m going to attempt a music review.  It’s probably an exercise in humiliation, since nobody in their right mind would take music advice from me.  I can’t sing at all, and I had to drop out of flute lessons in fifth grade when I couldn’t grasp the concept of “notes.”  It only got worse.  In college I was on sound crew for a production of Iphigenia, where I played pre-recorded tapes of bass lines while the composer played keyboards live.  I never once knew what was live and what was memorex.  So, music remains a foreign language to me, but I know what I like.  I just don’t know if it’s good.

Two weeks ago I got three CDs by Enation, an indie band fronted by actor Jonathan Jackson.  It’s probably a mistake to base your music selections on whether the musician is a good actor, but sometimes you get lucky.  (Okay, bad joke.  Jackson plays Lucky on General Hospital.)  I’ve listened to my CDs many times, and I love a couple of the songs, I like most of the rest, and I dislike none of them.  Well, there is this one thing…but I’m getting to that.  First things first.

These are the albums, in the order of their original release:

Enation: Soul & Story

Enation: Soul & Story

Soul & Story:  This album is very mellow, mostly acoustic folk, and deeply personal.  Jonathan Jackson wrote all ten songs, and one of them is about his daughter (She’s My Little Girl), and one is for his son (A Letter to My Son). 

Enation: World in Flight

Enation: World in Flight

World in Flight:  This is my favorite of the three, and it’s much more of a rock album than the other two.  All ten tracks are again written by Jackson, with his brother Richard Lee credited with co-writing lyrics on two songs.  Two tracks here are favorites: Permission to Dream and Everything is Possible.

The Future is a Memory

Enation: The Future Is A Memory

The Future is Memory: Live from the Northwest is a live album, but the songs that repeat from World in Flight are different enough from the studio versions to make it worth having.  It’s fun to hear Jackson sing a cover of Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne.  I love the last song, The Coming Dawn.

I don’t know about all the other band members in Enation, but the Jackson brothers have deeply held Christian beliefs, and their faith is reflected in their song lyrics.  I don’t have a problem with that.  I listen to quite a few contemporary Christian groups and singer/songwriters.  I just have a problem with one line in one song, and it’s not a religious reference.  It’s from A Letter to My Son, and it goes “A home without a father is a home without a gun.”  Now, I hate guns.  I equate guns with violence, and unfortunately, some people have grown up with violent fathers.  To me, a home without a gun is a very good thing.  In the context of the lyrics, which are words of advice from a father to his young son, I assume a gun is being used as a metaphor for a protector.  I still find it disturbing, but I’m not going to stop listening to the music just because I don’t agree with this one reference. 

It seems to me that Enation has a bit of an identity crisis about the kind of music they play.  Somebody who’s only heard a couple of their albums might be confused at one of their concerts.  Their albums are much mellower and less electric than the live performances that they’ve posted online at Ustream and on their YouTube channel.  Still, I haven’t been to an actual concert yet, so I should probably reserve judgement.  It’s too bad I can’t get down to Los Angeles this weekend for Enation’s acoustic concert, since I have trouble at rock concerts these days. Really loud music causes me actual physical pain, and earplugs don’t help. 

It’s been amusing trying to follow Enation on all the online social networks available these days.  Lines get crossed, misunderstandings happen, and certain information is either out-of-date or just wrong.  Now, this isn’t criticism.  I find it a form of entertainment.  For example, a couple of days ago, a flier was posted on Jonathan Jackson’s facebook fan page that seems to say that this weekend’s LA concert is going to be broadcast live on Ustream.  But wait, could this actually be a reference to the live concert from two weeks ago?  There’s nothing on the Enation facebook fan page or website to clarify the information, and the tweets from the band don’t mention it either way.  Yet.  I’m watching and waiting.

Update: Enation tweeted that the LA concert is not going to be broadcast online.  I hate twitter, but it can be useful at times.

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This is a completely different subject, but it’s too exciting not to write about.  I got new eyeglasses today.  I can see!  My old glasses were so scratched that it was like viewing the world through a fog bank.  Now colors pop and everything is sharp again.  The scariest thing is looking at my hands.  When did they get so old?  Naturally, I’ve avoided looking in the mirror. 

 I ordered these new glasses from an online store for the first time.  It was terrifying, but it was so cheap that I couldn’t resist.  I used Zenni Optical because they are located in the Bay Area.  The total cost—with high index lenses, non-reflective coating, frames, clip-on polarized sunglasses, case, an extra fee for the strong prescription, tax, and shipping—came to $53.80.  I think that’s terrific.  The order took exactly two weeks.  The glasses are fine, but the frames do need some adjusting, so I will have to take them to a walk-in optician and hope it won’t cost too much to get them fitted to my face.

Hello, world!

One Thing Leads to Another

The San Francisco Frameline Film Festival was held this year June 17-27th, showing LGBT films from around the world.  It’s the oldest LGBT film festival, and this year they had an Andy Warhol retrospective and many films from South America.  This was my second year as a volunteer.   I like to staff the hospitality table, where volunteers and staff greet the filmmakers.  It’s great fun, and as a volunteer you get a movie voucher for every shift you work.  Unfortunately, I’m still recovering from this malingering virus that’s been going around, so I had to cut back on my shifts and missed seeing most of the films on my personal list.  I did get to see the opening night film, a BBC production called The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister, about a Yorkshire woman from the early 1800s who left coded diaries about her various romances with other women.  It was based on a true story, and it was sure different from Pride & Prejudice

I didn’t get to see the closing night feature, a film called Howl about Allen Ginsberg, starring James Franco.  Franco came to the screening, so I’m sorry I couldn’t be there to check him out.  I’m not obsessed with Franco like I am with a few dozen other actors, but he’s certainly on a roll right now.  The Film Festival showing came just before Franco’s return as a guest star on General Hospital.  Now, I can follow a couple of other soaps (I grew up with a mother obsessed with Days of Our Lives), but I’ve never watched General Hospital regularly enough to follow the storylines.  In spite of that, I started tuning into GH this last week to see Franco.  A few trips over to soapnet and wikipedia helped me to understand key plot points.  A friend who used to watch filled me in on more background character info.  This same friend loved Jonathan Jackson as Lucky Spencer (back in the 90s), so I started paying particular attention to him.  Next thing you know, we’re watching Jonathan Jackson in Tuck Everlasting and On The Edge, and I’m spending hours on YouTube watching GH clips of Lucky from 1993.  And this is how one of my obsessions begins. 

And it won’t end until I’ve watched every video, rented every DVD, checked out every website and fansite, linked up on twitter and facebook…it’s exhausting, but at least with the internet everything is faster.  Before the internet, DVDs, and even VCRs, it used to take me ages to work through one of my actor obsessions.  I would search through the TV guide looking for movies that were airing (yes, kids, there actually used to be movies shown on regular, non-cable TV!) and take endless trips to the library searching through periodical indexes and microfiche machines looking for information.  As a teenager I kept a card file of my favorite actors and all their roles—my very own low tech imdb.  Now with everything at my fingertips on the internet, I can zip through an actor’s entire body of work  in days and weeks instead of months, so then I have to move on to somebody else.

So at the moment it’s Jonathan Jackson.  He’s a musician as well as an actor, so a couple of his CDs should arrive in the mail this week.  His band is called Enation, and I like the brief clips I’ve listened to online.  I have no idea if I’ll actually like a whole song.  My taste in music is obscure, eclectic and weird.  Most people wouldn’t even call it taste.  It was a risk ordering the Enation CDs, but I love ordering music from CD Baby, and their summer sale is awesome (selected CDs, three or more, five dollars each).  The best part about ordering from CD Baby is the email you get when they ship your order.  I would describe it, but I wouldn’t want to spoil your fun.  Just order from them and see, if you haven’t already. 

Enation is doing a free online concert this Thursday, and here’s the poster:

Enation internet concert

I’ll be checking it out.  Hopefully my CDs will have arrived by then so I’ll already be familiar with some of the songs. 

Well, I’ve got to go back to YouTube now.  I’m up to early 1994, and little Lucky Spencer is in the hospital trying to avoid a mob hit.  Tomorrow I will tune into the current episode of GH to see who survived the car bomb.  It’s such a full life.

Who’s the Idiot?

American Idiot, the Green Day punk musical that premiered here in the Bay Area, opened this week on Broadway.  I have been reading the reviews with interest, since I attended the closing night performance at the Berkeley Rep.  I’m afraid it was wasted on me.

Some background here is necessary.  Way back in 2001, I chanced upon the filmed-for-DVD Jesus Christ Superstar with Jerome Pradon and Glenn Carter.  I really liked the looks and voice of Tony Vincent, the young performer playing Simon Zealot.  I bought some of his self-produced CDs after checking out his website.  A few years later I was in London and had the opportunity to see Tony Vincent play the lead in the Queen musical We Will Rock You.  The show had plenty of energy and a talented cast, but when a musical is built around a random collection of songs, the plot is usually the weak link.  This show was no exception.  Vincent sounded great singing Bohemian Rhapsody and other classic Queen tunes, while his acting relied rather too heavily on the frequent wiping of his nose to broadcast his character’s awkwardness.  I missed his bleached blonde hair from Superstar, since his look for this musical was now goth black.  At the stage door, Vincent was warm and friendly with his fans, signing autographs and posing for photos. 

I have followed Vincent’s career since then, linked as a facebook friend along with thousands of others of fans.  I was really excited when I found out he’d be performing nearby in American Idiot, as drug dealing St. Jimmy.  I bought a ticket and sent Vincent a facebook message. telling him the matinee I was attending.  I said I hoped to see him at the stage door.  Okay, I was obnoxious and insisted upon it.  His answer was brief and to the point: “i don’t come out between matinees.”  I changed my ticket to the very last evening performance, thinking that the energy on closing night would be extra special.   

Closing weekend, Vincent posted on facebook that he had a terrible case of the flu.  I took myself across the bay with a sinking feeling.  At the Berkeley Rep, I asked the box office manager if Vincent was performing.  The news was bad.  His understudy had stepped in for the entire weekend.  The show was sold out and eager young fans were lined up for return tickets.  I told the box office manager that I only wanted to see the show for Vincent, and I was considering selling my ticket.  She did her job, telling me that all the performers in the show were wonderful and that I wouldn’t regret seeing it.  I was in a foul mood at that point, but I used my ticket anyway.

So, American Idiot didn’t thrill me, but I wasn’t exactly in the right frame of mind.  I expect that colored my perception.  Mostly it made me feel old.  The audience was all aflutter before the curtain went up because “Billy Joe” or “Billy Joel” was in the audience.  I couldn’t quite hear what everyone was whispering.  Okay, I know Billy Joe is the Green Day singer guy, but Billy Joel was also in town that weekend.  It was confusing.  I was in the cheaper seats, so I couldn’t see.  The thing that made me feel decrepit was that I didn’t actually care which one it was. 

As I predicted, closing night was charged with special energy.  Everybody sang and danced their hearts out.  I was surprised how much I liked the songs, having never once listened to a Green Day album.  The performers were talented and attractive.  The staging was frantic.  The story was practically non-existent, and this is where it lost me.  It was little more than a concert, and I need an engaging story to give me a reason to care about the characters. 

American Idiot moved to Broadway where it’s getting plenty of attention.  Tony Vincent recovered from the flu (with at least three rounds of antibiotics) to join the New York cast.  The reviews this week have been extremely mixed, but ticket sales seem encouraging and audiences enthusiastic.  I wish them all well.  I won’t be buying another ticket, though.

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