Author Archives: kiesha jenkins

Billy Corgan Helps Out Crappy Modern Rock Band

Modern rock band Taproot spent a week working with Billy Corgan, and apparently gained a lifetime’s worth of wisdom on songwriting. Read the full story.

“Despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage.” Yes, I can see the infinite wisdom.

Live Review: Ted Leo in Cleveland by Kiesha Jenkins

At this point I?m pretty sure everyone knows exactly how much I love Ted Leo. Rob and I have travelled far and wide to see him and the Pharmacists, from Cleveland, to Akron, to Coney Island, N.Y., to New York City. We even extended our New York/New Jersey vacation by a day to watch him play three songs.

So I?m sure it comes as no surprise that Rob and I once again packed our bags and drove to Cleveland to watch a solo show at the Beachland Ballroom and Tavern last Thursday.

We pulled double duty at Beachland again by watching The Raveonettes on Wednesday evening in the Ballroom, and then spending the evening in Cleveland. On Thursday, we spent the day traipsing about the city, visiting the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, and watching ?American Splendor? at the Cedar-Lee Theatre.

Finally, around 8 p.m., we headed for the Tavern.

We had to sit in the car in the parking lot for a good twenty minutes, because the doors didn?t open until 8:30. Luckily, there was a travelling bookmobile in front of the venue, and Rob and I explored it until the incense starting to make my head spin. I did, however, manage to snag a copy of ?My New Filing Technique is Unstoppable? for $3.

We walked into the Tavern with my ?Hearts of Oak? vinyl in Rob?s bookbag and quickly found Ed (of Cobra Verde fame), who works at the Beachland. We settled into barstools and, as I turned my head, realized Ted Leo was sitting not five stools down, flipping through a copy of the Cleveland ?Scene.?

We talked with Ed for a while, and the other Beachland employees stationed behind the bar. Finally I rooted through the bookbag and located the vinyl, which I timidly carried over to Ted.

I asked if he would sign my album, to which he agreed. I handed over my Sharpie.

He then looked up at me and said, ?I notice you?re wearing a red flower in your hair.?

Here?s a little backstory. One of Ted?s songs contains the lyrics ?If you want to meet me/wear a red flower in your hair……in black clothing I?ll be there.? So, for the past four shows, I?ve worn a little red flower in my hair, hoping he would notice it. And he finally did.

I was beaming like an idiot while he scribbled on my record. I wished him a happy late birthday, and informed him that we share a birthday (September 11th).

We talked about that particular birthday, as well as the show he and the Pharmacists played in NYC during the blackout.

I let him get back to the newspaper and headed back to my seat, where I finally dared to look at my record cover.

?Thanks Kiesha!! blah blah blah…in black clothing I?ll be there…
(And happy b-day!)?

Well, you can?t get much better than that.

And the show! It was incredible. Despite the fact that four or five people in the audience didn?t know it was a solo show (and voiced their dissapointment), it was incredible. It was fun, and loud, and intimate. Ted chatted up the crowd between almost every song, and had the place laughing along with him.

He played new songs, and old songs, and songs from albums I don?t have. He did two covers (one was ?Dancing in the Dark?, which he played during the aforementioned blackout), and a song from his old Washington D.C. band Chisel. He even broke out tunes from his forthcoming solo EP, including a ditty called ?Loyal to my Sorrowful Country,? which has indie hit written all over it. It was incredible. He even did two encores, and he wasn?t
even the headliner.

Rob and I decided to split after Ted?s set, opting to drive home at midnight rather than 2 a.m. On the way back, we hit a monsoon known as Hurrican Isabel, and ended up not making it back to German Village until 4 a.m.

It was totally worth it though. And my only hope is that someday Ted Leo (with or without Pharmacists) will find his way to Columbus to entertain us all.

Live Review: Ted Leo in Akron by Kiesha Jenkins

A few weeks ago, someone broke into my car while it sat innocently in German Village. And whoever busted the lock on the driver?s side also decided to take my CD player. And along with that CD player, the person
took my autographed Ted Leo CD.

Little did that person know the deep, spirtual connection Ted Leo and I have (same birthday), and that Mr. Leo would gladly sign another CD for me at the show I would be attending very very soon.

The show was two weeks ago and it was incredible once again. Rob Duffy, Charlie Tokyo and I took the two-hour drive to Akron to the Lime Spider. Charlie had never seen Ted Leo before, and he was about to be converted.

Finding the bar took some time, as the entire city of Akron seems to be under more construction than High Street at the campus area in Columbus OH. After a few wrong turns and a few detours, we stumbled upon a small, innocent-looking club that turned out to be the Lime Spider.

What a cool club. It?s got a little bit of a High Beck feel, with the rock anticipation of a Little Brother?s. There are places to sit, and places to stand to watch the show.

We opted to sit for the first two bands. The rest of Mr. Leo?s band The Pharmacists were sitting at the table next to us. So, as inconspicously as I could, I craned my neck and looked around the entire club to find the man himself. He was nowhere to be found.

The club filled up little by little. I remebered Rob?s advice that we attend the Thursday show in Akron rather than the Friday show in Bowling Green because “it?ll be less crowded.” Less crowded, my foot. The placed was packed.

The first band was Intelligent Knives. There isn?t much to say about this band. They just weren?t good. There were some kids in the front getting their groove on to the electronica-esque sound, but Rob, Charlie and I amused ourselves with defacing a well-known Cleveland public figure?s picture on the cover of “Scene,” the Cleveland area weekly paper. By the time Chris Sheehan from The All Golden arrived, we had a pretty wacky-looking cover.

The second band was Radar Secret Service. While they were better than Intelligent Knives, I still wasn?t too impressed with them. There was some head bobbing to this set, also, but I think everyone was just waiting for The Pharmacists to hit the stage.

About this time, Mr. Leo finally made an appearance. We were all still sitting down, and he walked around and then stood behind me. Rob took it upon himself to inform Chris that “Kiesha loooooooves Ted Leo,” to which Chris replied, “Grab his butt.” I didn?t do that. I needed to him to sign my CD again, and I couldn?t exactly do that if I was being arrested for assault.

Mr. Leo escaped unscathed and proceeded to set up stuff on the stage once the second opening band was finished. When the stage was set, the rock began.

I can?t even put words to the page to describe how talented this man is. His songwriting is unequaled, and the combination of pop, rock and punk is beautiful. His set included some favorites of mine (“Timorous Me,” “The High Party”) and a favorite of Rob?s (“The Ballad of the Sin-Eaters”). Once again, during “Sin-Eaters,” Ted let loose with his crazy pantomine and tossed a tambourine into the crowd.

The band played an encore, and during the last song, I snuck away to tear a poster down off the wall. It will soon be displayed in a German Village apartment.

After the set, I raced to the backstage area and thrust a CD into Ted?s hands and explained my situation. “I had you sign a CD back in Cleveland,” I said. “But someone broke into my car and stole it.”

“Oh, no way,” Ted said. “Someone broke into our van a few weeks ago and took a bunch of our CD?s.”

Ted graciously signed another CD for me, this time with the inscription “Keep it Secret! Keep it safe. (heart)-TL.”

Good enough for me. And while I?m not exactly keeping it a secret, I am keeping it safe.

Live Review: Ted Leo in Cleveland by Kiesha Jenkins

In the past few months, I’ve become pretty familiar with good ol’ highway I-90 in Cleveland. Last Thursday, your very own Rob Duffy and I hit the pavement once again – this time to see Ted Leo.

I hadn’t heard of Ted until early this year. It wasn’t until he and The Pharmacists appeared on Conan O’Brien one night that I took notice. Because I was at work, where the police scanner is always going (I work at a newspaper office), I didn’t catch the performer’s name or the beginning of the song. I can’t even tell you which song it was, but it mesmerized me. So I scoured the ‘Net and finally found that the magical man was Ted Leo.

After laying my hands on his newest CD “Hearts of Oak,” I was hooked. Full of political pop/rock, it was just what I needed to hear. Songs like “The High Party” and “The Ballad of the Sin Eater” were infectious and stayed in my head and prompted me to sing along, but fail because of the speed at which Ted sings (think David Spade and Chris Farley trying to sing along to R.E.M.’s “It’s the End of the World As We Know It” in “Tommy Boy”).

Waiting for a Ted Leo show was agony. I kept going back to his record label’s website and checking the dates. And finally, an Ohio date appeared. Thursday, May 1, at the Beachland Ballroom and Tavern, Cleveland.I immediately made plans to skip my three classes of the day and Rob and I embarked on the trip.

Beachland is an interesting little place. There’s the tavern (where Ted played) and the Ballroom (where the Yeah Yeah Yeahs played the following evening). The Ballroom looks like a high school gymnatorium, where proms might be held. The Tavern looks like a rec room or an Elks’s lodge basement from 1986. But it sufficiently held the rock that evening.

The opening band was The Gripweeds and they came along with Ted Leo from New Jersey. They were okay, nothing too spectacular other than the fact that two of the band members’ mother travelled along with them to sell their merchandise. And I’m pretty sure their father was videotaping the show. There were a few die-hard fans in the audience and they were absolutely rocking out to this band. The weird thing was that they didn’t match the sound. The band was a quiet sort of rock, almost folksy in a way, and these fans looked like they were on their way to a Metallica show. Old Metallica.

The second band was The Reputation from Chicago. They were better, but all I could think of during their set was the fact that it would have been so much better if there hadn’t been so many technical difficulties. The lead singer’s high-heeled shoe was falling apart, so she basically ripped the sole off and then stood there lopsided. Then she broke a guitar string. And there were other problems as well. It was all very distracting, and made it hard for me to focus on the music, which Rob later told me was actually really good.
(During these two sets, Ted Leo was wandering around I couldn’t get the nerve to just approach him and start up a conversation, though I desperately wanted to.)

Finally, Ted and his band approached the stage and began to set up. There were tambourines aplenty and Ted and the guitarist each had only one guitar. This struck me as unusual, because most of the bands I’ve seen recently have at least two up on the stage, and I wondered what would happen if either broke a string.

The show started. Although the Tavern wasn’t packed, it was nicely filled, and most of the crowd pushed up toward the stage. I got a good look at some of the kids and realized I have no right to call myself an Indie hipster. These kids knew how to dress.

And rock. As soon as the first note was struck, the place lit up, with dancing and head-bobbing all around. Ted played songs off of “The Tyranny of Distance” as well as “Hearts of Oak.” When he got around to singing “The Ballad of the Sin Eater,” he put his guitar down and, as Rob put it, “testified.” He pantomined the entire song, making fun hand movements. The line “working on the railway” prompted him to make a hammering motion, and “when I woke up all beaten and bloody” caused him to smack a tambourine against his head in rhythym to the music.

Then disaster struck. Just as the band launched into a song from the first album that the entire audience wanted to hear, a pickup on Ted’s guitar died. After fiddling with it for about five minutes, he finally announced that we’d have to hear everything in ‘clanky, rhythym guitar.’ Some drunk girl in the back shouted out “Timorous Me!” and he responded by saying, “That’s just me and the guitar!”

But, the show went on. It sounded perfect to me. I bounced and bobbed along until the end, and then watched as rabid fans grabbed the two set lists before I had a chance to get them.

Waiting until he’d packed up most of his stuff, I finally withdrew my copy of “Hearts” and a silver Sharpie and approached him. I shook his hand and asked if he’d sign my CD, and then decided to confirm a rumour I had heard.

“I have a question for you,” I said. He looked up. “Is your birthday September 11th?”

He paused for a moment, as if thinking, ‘What a weird question to ask,’ and finally said, “Yeah, it is actually.”

I grinned a little. “So’s mine.” He broke out into a smile and gave me a high-five. “All right!”

Rob chimed in that his hometown back in Jersey is the city right next to the city that Ted currently calls home – Bloomfield. Ted smiled and shook Rob’s hand and then turned back to me to tell me that we also shared a birthday with D.H. Lawrence and someone in Fugazi’s little brother.

We then purchased a copy of “Tyranny” and a sweet 12″ vinyl of “Hearts” and bid Ted a goodnight, and the assurance that we’d see him in either Akron or Bowling Green, where he plays in June.

I’ve already got it marked on my calendar.