Wednesday, July 02, 2008

2008.5, part 1

A half year is a period of time that never gets enough credit. Six months is a damn long time, but we wait for the reflection until a whole 12 have been collected?! Screw that. Just as Mr. Chair has adopted July 4 as his own sort of New Year's, I've grown to embrace the idea that the dead middle of summer - with its own touchstone moments of Independence Day, the glorious summer solstice, and around these parts (typically), the arrival of awe-inspiring thunderstorms - is ripe for taking a little time out to think about the previous six months.

So what's happened in the first half of 2008? For one, I decided right away (before even seeing the light of day on Jan. 1) that this year was to be, at every opportunity, referred to enthusiastically as ¡El Ocho! It's an important year, and that's not just me spitting jive, it's built up that way, and there are expectations everywhere. There's a presidential election and the Olympics and this overwhelming sense that history will be made.

So what have I done with these 180 odd days thus far in El Ocho? I've abided, that's for sure. There've been strikes and there've been gutters. I dressed as The Dude on a Jazzercise kick while sharing the winding and hilly streets of San Francisco with 100,000 other demented souls on a bright Sunday morning. I hate to admit, though, that my gettin'-out-of-town this year hasn't included much else. Two trips to Phoenix were more than decent, though to call them vacation is a stretch.

I've been a live music hound as much as possible - by my latest count I've squeezed in 34 shows and this week holds at least two more. I've been a joyous well wisher at three weddings, with one more top-notch nuptial to attend before the year closes out. Not only that, I have two friends damn near ready to pop out babies, and yet another new child to welcome later this year.

And ¡El Ocho! still holds a lot more: I've got two trips out to the Bay for sure-to-be-awesome music festivals. There are still albums to hear from Okkervil River, Beck, The Hold Steady, Dr. Dog, The Walkmen, Calexico, Giant Sand and many, many more.

Stay tuned for the list-style wrap-up of Catfish Vegas' first half of ¡El Ocho! tomorrow: best new records, best old record discoveries this year and best shows.

For now, here are the best jams of my ¡El Ocho! so far:

SumKid Majere - Chuck Norris On Drugs
The Swim - Margaret With Comets
Kathleen Edwards - Asking For Flowers (acoustic)
Source Victoria - Miss Spiritual Tramp of 1948
The Helio Sequence - Keep Your Eyes Ahead
Fleet Foxes - White Winter Hymnal
Bon Iver - Skinny Love

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