ALDLAND March Madness Update

First, due mostly to past winners not claiming their prizes created by the overworked and underpaid ALDLAND staff, I have made the decision to officially disband our March Madness bracket challenge and swing the support of our legions of readers and participants to the bracket challenge hosted by the favorite band in the AD household by ranked-choice voting, the Tedeschi Trucks Band. Enter here:

Second, there are a number of good actual and potential tournament matchups on which to keep at least one of your eyes this month:

  • First round:
    • Wisconsin-Oregon (obviously)
    • Villanova-St. Mary’s
    • Iowa State-Ohio State
    • Buffalo-St. John’s
    • Marquette-Murray State
    • Louisville-Minnesota
    • LSU-Yale
    • Virginia Tech-St. Louis
  • Second round:
    • Michigan-Nevada
    • Cincinnati-Tennessee
    • Wofford-Kentucky
  • Sweet Sixteen:
    • Houston-Kentucky
    • Texas Tech-Michigan
    • UNC-Auburn
  • Elite Eight:
    • Duke-Michigan State
  • Final Four:
    • UC Irvine-Abilene Christian

Third, in case you were wondering, the NCAA still hasn’t fixed its absurd play-in round problem. Background here.

Have fun and surrender to the madness.

Rainy Friday Jam

I’m slowly making my way back here from vacation, and with that and the looming football season ahead, a return to regular content is on its way. The latest ALDLAND Podcast is up on the Podcasts Page There’s also a Lyle Lovett concert report and some Olympic coverage in the can, and I plan to acknowledge the now-passed one-year anniversary of this site’s launch.

One of the many nice parts of vacation was my acquisition of a pile of new music, including three LPs of live music from the Tedeschi Trucks Band. Everybody’s Talkin’ contains a mix of originals and covers. We know that Derek Trucks places a lot of emphasis on the other artists with whom he publicly associates himself, but I still was surprised to see Fred Neil’s “Everybody’s Talkin'” receive such prominent attention, serving as the title track of the triple-live release.

I knew Neil’s song from one of my favorite live releases, Stephen Stills’ Live. There, Stills actually introduces the song by acknowledging Neil by name, which is one of the reasons it always has stuck out to me from among a pretty fluid B/acoustic side.

Here’s Neil’s original, which sets a pace suitable for a rainy Friday afternoon:

AD’s year in review

Thanks for dropping by this week and checking out our year-in-review posts, interspersed with our usual coverage, and thanks to Brendan for a great idea.

Top Sports Moments of 2011

The scoreboard in left field.

If you’re looking for an official or objective list of the top stories of the year, I suggest you go elsewhere. What I like about our year-in-review features is that we’ve written about the stories, albums, and events that were most interesting or important to us, and, as will be immediately obvious, I’m going to follow suit.

1. Detroit Tigers playoff push

The Tigers obviously didn’t make it as far as they did in 2006, but this year was like that year in that Detroit beat the Yankees along the way. What was different about 2011, for me, was that I was a) living in Michigan, and b) writing and tweeting for a sports blog during much of the season. Both of these things measurably enhanced my experience of and connection to this year’s team, its successes, personalities, and volatility. It also was the first time in a few years that I was able to attend a game. I spilled much digital ink on this team in these virtual pages, and the posts are easy enough to find so I’ll spare you any detailed recap, except to say that, a few months later, I am able to appreciate the way the wheels came off as a suitable ending to a dramatic (by Detroit standards) season.

2. Vanderbilt’s football season

I didn’t put the Lions’ season on my list under the rationale that it still is ongoing, so this selection is cheating a little bit, but the college football regular season is over, so I’m running with it. I’ll hit on some of the high points in my Liberty Bowl preview that will go up later today, but first-year head coach James Franklin appears to have changed the culture at Vandy even faster than Jim Schwartz has in Detroit, tripling the win total with essentially the same players. As successful as he was on the field (I’ll always maintain that they were three plays away from a 9-3 record), Franklin may be even more successful on the recruiting trail. He already nabbed a Virginia quarterback recruit away from Virginia Tech, and he took a five-star QB recruit to the wire against LSU and Notre Dame. Next year looks even more promising, when Warren Norman is scheduled to return to the backfield alongside 2011 success stories Zac Stacy and starting QB Jordan Rodgers. 2012 will look even better if the Commodores can win the Liberty Bowl and finish this year 7-6.

3. Misbehaving College Coaches

This was a great year for teams I like– Spartans, Commodores, Tigers, Lions, and Red Wings– and it was a great year for sports writing, with the launch of Grantland, OutKick the Coverage, and The Classical, but like Magalan felt compelled to remark upon the marathon record-setter, I feel compelled to mention the names Jerry Sandusky, Jim Tressel, and Bruce Pearl. Sandusky is in a terrible league of his own, and I already have written here about Tressel and Pearl. Sparing the hand-wringing, defending, and analyzing, what I’ll say in the context of the posture of this post is that it is a welcome development that the NCAA is punishing coaches individually for the violations they commit or otherwise oversee. I hope the days of slippery escape artists like John Calipari, Pete Carroll, and Lane Kiffin are over.

Top Albums of 2011

Creating this list was a bit more difficult, not because I don’t like or know about music, but because I’m not quite as hip-to-the-modern-scene as many of my co-writers here. (See, for example, my punt on Amy Winehouse earlier.) Resort to a list of 2011 releases from a trusted source, something I suspect a lot of people writing bits like this do, was unavailing. That list jogged my memory on one album, Gregg Allman’s Low Country Blues, that Bdoyk actually tipped me off to initially. It didn’t make my list though, even though I had to cheat a little as you’ll see, because I didn’t think it was anything special. I liked it, but I don’t think it deserves to be one of the three best albums of 2011, even if I can’t come up with three.

1. Revelator – Tedeschi Trucks Band

This was an easy number one choice for me. I wrote a full review of the album back in September, and I don’t feel the need to supplement it now, except to add that it was the first record I played on my turntable after recently setting up my new stereo system.

2. June 3, 2011, Pine Knob – Phish

This is a concert, not an album, but I was in attendance, and it was a perfect concert night. Put attendance together with recording (free sample streaming), and I’m calling it an album. I went with a good friend, with whom I’ve seen the band once before, and everything went as smoothly as could be. The weather was perfect, the band was playing at a level they hadn’t reached in years. and it was my first visit to this historic outdoor Michigan venue. It definitely was the best I had ever seen them, and we had the feeling during the show that something special was going on, which made it all the more neat and enjoyable. Because amateur blogging about a Phish show registers somewhere between talking to another person about your fantasy minor league baseball team and a rambling monologue at a loud bar about that “drug trip” you had “back in high school,” I’ll close this by quoting bona fide Phish blogger Mr. Miner (the second Mr. Miner— I held that username as a prior legal nonconforming use on, who wrote shortly afterwards that:

Sometimes a show—just one set—can launch thousands of dreams, taking the audience on a voyage so cosmic and coherent; so spectacular and superb that people will look back on it for years to come. Odysseys like the second set of Detroit’s Friday night exclamation reach the very core essence of Phish—four musicians pushing the boundaries of musical possibilities while taking 15,000 fans with them into the depths of the universe. With playing so together and inspirational, Phish opened yet another door last night, inviting us further into the future. And more than ever, the future is now.

…You get the idea.

3. Fall – Root Glen

As I suggested above, I didn’t hear a lot of 2011’s new releases, but I definitely heard this one. One of two releases by this relatively new band from New Jersey, I also wrote a full review of this EP last month. What I’ll add in this retrospective is that it is cool to listen to something for the first time and immediately recognize that it represents an important step up for a band you already liked. Before Fall, Root Glen had been successful at capturing their live sound in the studio, and this was great. After all, it was their live performances that gave them a following in the first place. But a lot of bands play live and just noodle and jam without much focus or commitment, and Fall is evidence of a group redoubling its effort to put forth an even higher quality of music they always had in them.

Thanks for reading us in 2011, and be sure to stick around for much more in the New Year.

Magalan’s year in review
Bdoyk’s year in review

Exexpatriate’s year in review

Bpbrady’s year in review
ALDLAND’s year in review

Album review: Tedeschi Trucks Band – Revelator

I have been meaning to review Revelator since before it came out earlier this summer, and I was excited when my vinyl/CD package finally arrived a couple weeks ago. Revelator is the Tedeschi Trucks Band’s first album, though it’s hardly the first release for any of the eleven members of the band.

To understand this band and this recording, you have to know that the named members of the band, Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks, were independently successful musicians before they got married in 2001, a matrimonial match made in music heaven. Tedeschi sang the blues with soul and fire as a solo act. Trucks, the nephew of Allman Brothers Band drummer Butch Trucks, has been wowing audiences with his guitar since he was a child, later joining his uncle’s band and leading his own outfit, the Derek Trucks Band. The two did collaborate over the last ten years. The DTB didn’t add a permanent lead singer until Mike Mattison joined for 2006’s Songlines, and Tedeschi sang a track on 2002’s Joyful Noise and 2009’s excellent (and Grammy-winningAlready Free. The two also joined their guitars with Eric Clapton’s as a part of Slowhand’s Crossroads tours. Although they followed the wedding ceremony, these and other collaborations were like musical flirtations or dates between the two, who largely appeared to live separate, if overlapping, professional lives.

Revelator, though, represents the marriage. Keep reading…