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From Waylon To Wu-Tang (James)

October 14, 2016


Jeremy Murray and the team at 1886 Management keep on coming up with winning concepts.

The flagship of Murray and Co.’s fleet is The Blackheart, a whiskey soaked blueberry in the tomato soup of Rainey Street. Proof and Cooper, the team’s fried chicken shack out near Hamilton Pool draws inspiration from California desert destination Pappy and Harriet’s. The team’s newest concept, Kitty Cohen’s, is the best of the 1970s — a little bit Woodstock, a little bit Palm Springs — where you can sip shareable punches poolside, tickle the ivories on a baby grand piano, or belly up to the bar and request a record off the shelves.

Late last month, Murray invited me out to Kitty Cohen’s to play some tunes and “guest bartend.” The latter pretty much consisted of cracking open iced cold yellow bellys and pouring shots of tequila; one for you, one for me. The former, pulling records off the shelf. Cohen’s is curating a respectable, and growing, record collection behind the bar, AM radio’s greatest hits. A good time was had by all, so far as I remember, so we’re doing it again this month, on Halloween weekend. Sunday, October 30, I’ll crack beers and play some music. A dash of yacht rock, a heavy dose of cocaine bender soundtrack material, some disco, outlaw country and proto punk, and a couple of Halloween-themed tracks for a laugh — songs I’d like to think Kitty would like if she waltzed into the bar, ordered a Dickell rye, neat, and sparked a heater.

Here’s a sneak preview playlist courtesy.

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Beats & Eats: Volume 4 (James)

May 27, 2016


Beats & Eats is a mixtape and a meal. A collection of tunes (sometimes there’s a theme, sometimes it’s just whatever I’m into this month) and a recipe to cook (bake, mix, whatever) while you listen to the songs. Enjoy!

Depending on what part of the country you’re living in, you’re either relishing the last few days of Spring, when you still need a light jacket at night and the days don’t necessarily demand shorts, or dreading five more months of the blistering, oppressive, full on heat wave of Summer. Either way, there’s a zero percent chance you want to spend your time in a hot kitchen cooking something. So this month, we forgo the food recipe for a better sort of recipe: two delicious cocktails you’ll want to sip on your favorite porch or patio.

Volume 4 of Beats and Eats opens with the infectious pop of Minneapolis upstarts Holidae. Burnin is equal parts CHVRCHS and T Swift – the soundtrack to your Summer that you haven’t heard yet. And of course they’re not the only Minneapolis band represented on this month’s mix: Haley Bonar (I Can Change), Har Mar Superstar (Youth Without Love) Andrew Broder’s Fog (Jim) all make solid contributions. Bonar has been busying herself with the more aggressive post-punk of Gramma’s Boyfriend lately. I Can Change is an impressive first single of her forthcoming Impossible Dream album, due in August.

Slacker set darlings Car Seat Headrest live up to all their hype with Fill in the Back, the infectious, head bopping lead single off of their album Teens of Denial. Twin Peaks and Summer Cannibals follow.

I’ve been particularly impressed with the Bryce and Aaron Dessner-produced Day of the Dead compilation, The National brothers’ Grateful Dead covers comp that features a who’s-who of indie rock acts. Full of several hits, and a few misses, the comp is nonetheless impressive in it’s breadth. Two tracks show up on this month’s mix, The National (Peggy-O) and criminally underrated Hiss Golden Messenger (Brown Eyed Women).

Speaking of covers, SOAK’s industrialized interpretation of Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song is sure to piss off a few purists out there, so of course I couldn’t resist including it. ANOHNI stuns on Drone Bomb Me. James Blake (I Need A Forest Fire) and Kaytranada (Got It Good) make strong claims for “Album of the Year” status.

Aesop Rock returns to form on Lotta Years, off The Impossible Kid, his first full length in four years. A Sinclair, A Giant Dog, and Blue Healer represent the great city of Austin.

Holy Ghost, Jessy Lanza, A$AP Ferg (featuring the one and only Missy Elliot), and hip-hop pioneer The Egyptian Lover (who’s 1983 – 1988 production work sees long overdue reissue on the recently released 1983 – 1988) close things out on an uptempo note.

The month’s mix has a little bit for everyone so crank it up next time you have friends over for porch hangs. Two cocktail recipes below. Enjoy responsibly.

Mezcal Margarita

This smokey-twist on a simple margarita is perfect for hot nights on the back porch.

- 2 oz VIDA San Luis Del Rio mezcal
- ¾ oz Cointreu or other orange liquor
- ½ oz fresh lime juice
- ½ oz simple syrup

Combine all four ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake vigorously. Pour over fresh ice in a lowball glass with salted rim. VIDA San Luis Del Rio mezcal is a personal favorite but there are other great mezcal’s on the market right now, due to the spirit’s increasing popularity. Whatever you do DON’T go with a cheap mezcal. You’ll appreciate the extra couple dollars spent.

Rum Old Fashioned

Another classic cocktail twisted to please the sweeter summer palate.

- 2 oz ANGOSTURA 1919 8yr aged rum
- ½ oz demarera syrup
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- 1 dash orange bitters
- 1 orange peel

Whatever you do, DON’T go with a white, unaged rum for this cocktail. There are a lot of good 8 – 12 year aged rums out there right now that won’t break the bank, so treat yourself and thank me later.

Combine first four ingredients in a pint glass with ice. Stir. Stir, stir, stir. You want to get this drink nice and chilled before serving. Pour over 3 – 4 large ice cubs in a lowball glass. Garnish with orange peel expressed over the glass.

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Beats & Eats: Volume 3 (James)

April 15, 2016


Beats & Eats is a mixtape and a meal. A collection of tunes (sometimes there’s a theme, sometimes it’s just whatever I’m into this month) and a recipe to cook (bake, mix, whatever) while you listen to the songs. Enjoy!


Earlier this month, music blog Consequence of Sound published a listicle on the Top 20 Deftones songs of all time. The Sacramento, CA quintet just released their eighth album, Gore, to critical and fan acclaim, so a career spanning listicle seems like the right thing to do. And the critics are right. Gore is really good.

I’ve always loved Deftones. The band changed what I thought metal and hardcore music had to sound like. Moody and emotional with pummeling riffs. Drummer Abe Cunningham’s beats are the unheralded backbone of the band and a huge influence on me as a drummer.

There’s nothing wrong with Consequence of Sound’s Top 20, in fact it’s fairly good, but it wouldn’t be my Top 20.  For no particular reason other than my own enjoyment, here is my Top 20(ish) Deftones songs along with a recipe for Spaghetti Squash Tacos. Because nothing is more metal than Spaghetti Squash Tacos.

Bored, Deftones’ ‘side one, track one, album one,’ kicks things off. Sure — nobody likes the guy who was ‘listening to band XYZ before anyone else was listening to band XYZ,’ but I vividly remember my bestie Ivan Torres Torres bringing Deftones Adrenaline to school and letting me borrow it for the weekend (Ivan’s version of the story may or may not involve the CD being returned scratched to shit and the case cracked – oh well).

I’d like to think this mixtape spans the length of Deftones’ career, including newer cuts from Koi No Yokan (Swerve City), Diamond Eyes (You’ve Seen the Butcher) and new release Gore (Doomed User). But in reality, this mix probably errs heavily on the band’s early stuff, Adrenaline and White Pony, especially.

You might have noticed by now that this playlist is 24 songs long. Missing from the COS Top 20 were the Deftones covers. The band has always chosen good songs to cover, and I love a good cover song. Depeche Mode’s To Have and To Hold kicks off this Deftones cover block, tracks 8A – 8D, followed by The Chauffeur (Duran Duran) and the even more unlikely No Ordinary Love (Sade). Jawbox’s Savory closes out the set of covers, with the last two featuring former Far and Onelinedrawing frontman Jonah Matranga.

An assortment of moody (Passenger, Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away), Good Morning Beautiful), aggressive (Rocket Skates, Hexagram, Acid Hologram) and rap metal efforts (Engine No. 9 cause I had to) round out my Deftones Top 20 (yeah, yeah, 24).


Spaghetti Squash Tacos


- 3 lbs (1 large or 2 small) spaghetti squash
- tortillas
- 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained well

- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/2 fresh squeezed lime

- 4 ounces crumbled queso fresco, feta, or cojita cheese
- 1 avocado
- 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
- hot sauce (Sontava or Cholula)
- lime wedges


- Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray pan with coconut oil cooking spray or coat with 1/2  ounce of olive oil. Cut squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and roast the halves facedown on baking pan for 35-40 minutes or until flesh is soft.

- Once the squash is cooked, remove and allow to cool 5 minutes, then scrap the flesh with a fork to loosen and separate the strands. Add strands of flesh to bowl and discard skins.

- In a separate bowl, combine chili powder, cumin, coriander, and salt, whisk in lime juice and pour over squash strands. Gently toss to mix seasonings throughout, taste and adjust seasonings accordingly.

- To assemble the tacos… oh what the fuck you know how to assemble a taco. Warm em up, put down some beans, put down some spaghetti squash.

- Garnish with cheese, avocado, cilantro, onion,  couple drops of hot sauce  and a squeeze a lime.

- Serve with an ice cold Modelo Especial.

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Beats & Eats: Volume 2 (James)

February 19, 2016


Beats & Eats is a mixtape and a meal. A collection of tunes (sometimes there’s a theme, sometimes it’s just whatever I’m into that month) and a recipe to cook (bake, mix, whatever) while you listen to the songs. Enjoy!


February is my better halfs’ birthday month (she’s a leap year babe, so she gets to celebrate whenever she wants, generally all month), so that got me thinking: Parties. Party Music. And salsas! Beats & Eats: Volume 2 “New Jack Edition” is all things New Jack Swing.


Quick history lesson: In 1987, Teddy Riley is singing Groove Me in Guy and perfecting a signature production style that blends hip hop beats, R&B grooves, and Gospel trained vocals. This sound becomes a staple of 90s popular music. According to Wikipedia, the first tracks to feature the New Jack Swing style of production appear a year earlier, on Janet Jackson’s Control in 1986, produced by Jimmy Jam and members of the Time. No doubt an influence on Riley. After disbanding Guy, Riley goes on to produce tracks for Michael Jackson, Keith Sweat, Bobby Brown, and form two new groups, producing his brother Markell Riley’s Wreckx-n-Effect, and Blackstreet (No Diggity). It’s 1996 and New Jack Swing is in it’s heyday.

I exercised two “phone a friends” (is that a dated reference yet?) and called on Kellen Kid Slyce Chumley and Yadira Brown to help me with this month’s playlist and recipe. Kid Slyce is a notorious party starting DJ in Austin, TX, known for his semi-monthly New Jack Swing dance parties, and Brown is 1/3 of ultra-talented vocal trio Keeper. She’s also an excellent cook and her recipe for Columbian aji picante is mouth-watering.

“Mary J Blige’s Real Love would be my all-time favorite,” Yadira says. “I think it was the harmonies over dance beats, honestly, that made me love New Jack Swing. I was in 4th grade when [Boyz II Men] Motownphilly came out, and I’d rewind and listen to the breakdown over and over, trying to learn all the parts.”

My love for this sound admittedly came later, fresh out of college and bartending Saturday nights at Austin dance club Plush, where Kid Slyce and his partners in Tables Manner Crew spun the best New Jack Swing and hip hop cuts.

“New Jack Swing takes DJ’ing back to a place where dancing and good vibes were paramount,” Chumley told me. “The music and lyrics are relatable. The majority of [rap and R&B] today is mired in trap and unrelatable if not incomprehensible.”

The two hours of tunes on Beats and Eats: New Jack Edition run the gamut of the New Jack sound, and 90s R&B in general. Godfathers Guy, Janet, Keith and Johnny Gill. Soulful sisters Monica, Aaliyah, TLC and SWV. And some deeper cuts thanks to Kid Slyce! What’s missing? Well, Another Bad Creation, Wreckx-n-Effect and Color Me Badd, to name a few. Hey, not every musical trend produces pure gold! Dig your Jock Jams cassettes out of your mom’s attic if you wanna hear any of those bangers.

This playlist is guaranteed to get any party started. And this salsa is pure fire. Literally.


Columbian Aji Picante by Yadira Brown


- 1 seeded small jalepeno or 1 red habanero pepper
- ½ cup white vinegar
- ¼ cup water
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon grapefruit juice
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- ½ cup chopped scallions
- ½ cup chopped tomato


- put the seeded pepper, water, and vinegar into a blender or food processor for a few minutes

- then combine with the rest of the ingredients and refrigerate, preferably over night.

- best served with empanadas or patacones.

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Beats & Eats (James)

January 22, 2016


Beats & Eats is a mixtape and a meal. A collection of tunes (sometimes there’s a theme, sometimes it’s just whatever I’m into this month) and a recipe to cook (bake, mix, whatever) while you listen to the songs. Enjoy!

Nothing says winter like making soups at home, while listening to your latest favorite mixtape, and sipping on strong whiskey — right now it’s a glass of Barrel Select George Dickel, gifted to me by the staff at The Blackheart in Austin.

Beats & Eats: Volume 1 is 90 mins of some of my favorite 2015 releases to listen to while you make the baked potato soup recipe below, borrowed from the outstanding cooking blog Smitten Kitchen. This soup is damn near perfection. Perfect for these negative temps I’m experiencing in Minnesota. Familiarize yourself with the recipe, queue up the mixtape, and get ready for the best damn potato soup of your life.

Smitten Kitchen Baked Potato Soup (serves 6)

- 1 head garlic
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 medium leeks, white and light green parts halved lengthwise, washed, and chopped small
- 5 to 6 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth (I used 5 cups; add the extra cup after pureeing if you’d like a thinner soup)
- 2 bay leaves
- Table salt
- 2 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- Ground black pepper
- Toppings, optional:
- Minced fresh chives or scallions
- Bacon bits
- Sour cream
- Grated cheddar
- A drizzle of melted (or melted and browned) butter

- Rinse the head of garlic to remove any outside grit or dirt. Cut the top third off the head and peel any loose papery skins off the bottom two-thirds. Pop out a bunch (or all) of the garlic clove tips and mince them.

- In a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Add leeks and cook them until soft (but not brown), about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook another minute. Add the larger part of the garlic head (whole, not chopped), broth, bay leaves and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Reduce heat and simmer until garlic is very tender when pierced with tip of knife, 30 to 40 minutes. Add potatoes and continue to simmer, partially covered, until potatoes are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.

- Discard bay leaves. Remove garlic heads. Optional: If you’d like an extra garlic boost to the soup, using tongs or paper towels, squeeze garlic head at root end until cloves slip out of their skins. Using a fork, mash the garlic cloves to smooth paste and add it back to the soup.

- Add sour cream to soup and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Adjust seasonings, adding more salt and pepper to taste. Using immersion blender, process soup until chunky-creamy, leaving lots of potato texture intact. (Alternatively, transfer a portion of the potatoes and broth to a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.) Serve with whatever makes you happy on top, or nothing at all.

Beats & Eats Vol. 1 Mixtape

Bones and Beeker open things up. Tap your feet while you peel potatoes and chop leeks. This is the bulk of the prep work you’ll do today. The rest is hurry up and wait.

Smitten Kitchen’s recipe gives you the option of peeling or not peeling your potatoes. I say “sort of” peel them — because peeling potatoes really sucks and is that really what you want to spend your afternoon doing?

2015 Mercury Prize finalists ESKA, C. Duncan, SOAK, and winner Benjamin Clementine, all make an appearance on January’s mix. Son Little’s The River wins 2015’s “Most Under-Appreciated Award” in my book. Justin Vernon-produced The Staves drop in twice. So does Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment (second place in the James Taylor’s “Most Under-Appreciated of 2015″ category).

By track 13 or 14 you should be thinking to yourself “Heck yeah, I’m making this killer soup! It’s gonna be so good,” and you’ll be listening to Bully’s I Remember and it’ll be good. Titus Andronicus quietly (it seems to me) dropped a 29-song concept album earlier this year. It’s a handful to dig through but Fatal Flaw is a Westerbergian gem.

Harvest Thieves and Keeper hold it down for Austin TX. Diet Cig (Harvard) and Pesky (Keep Me) are charming and delightful. Beach House somehow managed to release two albums in 2015, All Your Yeahs being one of several rad tracks spread across these two releases. Beyonce and Run the Jewels collaborator BOOTS drops Bombs Away. I included Blackstar on this mix before we lost David Bowie — what a fucking bummer 2016 has been for rock n roll. RIP.

Once everything is cooked through, transfer half your soup to a blender and puree, then return the blended soup to the chunkier half and mix it all up. You should have a delicious baked potato soup sitting in front of you, full of texture and flavor.  The key to this soup is everything that goes on top of the soup — the baked potato in all it’s glory — bacon, chives, sour cream, grated cheddar cheese.

Chance the Rapper and his band Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment close out this month’s mixtape. Chance’s star is burning bright right now and the decision to put out an adventurous album with his backing band getting top billing deserves respect. Try not to get Jamila Wood’s Sunday Candy chorus stuck in your head while you eat this delicious Baked Potato Soup.

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From Waylon To Wu-Tang (James)

September 14, 2012


Fun Fun Fun Fest is right around the corner! Explosions In The Sky headlining the festival in 2007 is probably one of my favorite Fx3 moments, so I’m stoked to see them returning to a much bigger and badder event.

Speaking of Explosions In The Sky, they’re fantastic. Post-rock, instrumental rock, instruMETAL … whatever it is Explosions In The Sky do, they do it well.  It’s not all about them, though, so this week’s playlist is Top Ten Instrumental Bands Not Named Explosions In The Sky.

OK, it’s not really 10, it’s 15. But Eagle Claw and The Calm Blue Sea count as one, both being from Austin. Same for Irish bands Adebisi Shank and And So I Watch You From Before. And Toe and LITE are both from Japan. Pelican and Russian Circles are both from Chicago and I think they used to share a practice room. Mogwai and Mono are the godfathers of instrumental post rock shit (see also: Slint, Swervedriver, Godspeed You! Black Emperor). From Monuments To Masses was once described as DJ Shadow performing with Fugazi. This playlist is all over the place musically, but it’s instrumental all the way through.

Several bands on this weeks playlist have new records coming out — everyone should be stoked about new music from Caspian, Eagle Claw, and The Calm Blue Sea. But here’s some old stuff in the meantime.

Oh, also, I had the idea for this post before the devastating news that Hydra Head Records is closing its doors after 20 years of putting out some amazing and influential records – records that for sure influenced some if not all of the bands on this playlist. One of the best DIY record labels around. Pouring some out for the homies. RIP Hydra Head Records.

:Mono – Ashes In The Snow: (Hymn To The Immortal Wind)
:Mogwai – Daphne And The Brain: (Hawk Is Howling)
:Caspian – Malacoda: (Tertia)
:And So I Watch You From Afar – A Little Bit Of Solidarity Goes A Long Way: (Self Titled)
:Adebisi Shank – Interntaional Dreambeat: (This Is The Second Album Of A Band Called Adebisi Shank)
:From Monuments To Masses – Checksum: (On Little Known Frequencies)
:Maserati – No More Sages: (Passages)
:Toe – Path: (Songs, Ideas We Forget)
:LITE – Infinite Mirror: (Phantasia)
:Irepress – Barrageo: (Sol Eye Sea I)
:Russian Circles – Harper Lewis: (Station)
:Pelican – City Of Echoes: (Self Titled)
:Calm Blue Sea – We Happy Few: (Self Titled)
:Eagle Claw – Helm: (Poacher)
:Ghosts And Vodka – Its All About Right Then: (Addicts And Drunks)

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From Waylon To Wu-Tang (James)

August 10, 2012


Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue is one of the most iconic records in American music, on par with Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde, Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors, and Michael Jackson’s Thriller – meaning that, like those other records, it’s available at Urban Outfitters across the country, purchasable by hip college guys and girls everywhere. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but it’s probably fair to say Kind of Blue is not only the one Miles Davis record some of these kids know, but quite possibly the only jazz record in their uber-hip vinyl collections. Kind of Blue is nothing short of amazing – but “the most important album in the history of jazz” is just one milestone in Davis’ perpetually groundbreaking career.

This month’s playlist is called 10 Essential Songs by Miles Davis not on Kind of Blue. Some of the trumpeters best cuts are on this playlist. Sivad, off the Live-Evil album, is bombastic funk culled from multiple nights of live jams at Washington D.C.’s Cellar Door and then cut-and-pasted into new tracks in the pre-Ableton fashion of actually cutting and pasting tape reels in the studio (by Davis and longtime producer Teo Macero).

Frelon Brun (Filles de Kilimanjaro, 1968) is probably one of my favorite jazz recordings ever. In hindsight, we know that Miles would eventually embrace electronic instrumentation, changing the face of jazz music (hell, all music) with the game-changing Bitches Brew record. but in 1968, Miles himself didn’t know that – on Filles (and Miles in the Sky, released the same year) you hear the trumpeter and the equally iconic Herbie Hancock first toying with the idea of “going electric.”

There’s also a couple cuts here from Miles’ second great quintet: Ron Carter, Tony Williams, Herbie Hancock, and Wayne Shorter. Nefertiti, Water Babies, Miles in the Sky … if Miles Davis was a boxer (actually, Miles was a boxer), these albums were his left-handed jabs, softening up his adversary before cold clocking ‘em with the right hook of Bitches Brew, Get Up With It, and On the Corner.

:Miles Davis – Honky Tonk:  (Get Up With It, 1974)
:Miles Davis – Wili (Part 1):  (Dark Magus: Live at Carnegie Hall, 1974)
:Miles Davis – Sivad:  (Live-Evil, 1970)
:Miles Davis – Nefertiti:  (Nefertiti, 1968)
:Miles Davis – Frelon Brun (Brown Hornet):  (Filles de Kilimanjaro, 1968)
:Miles Davis – Splash:  (Water Babies, 1967)
:Miles Davis – Willie Nelson:  (Black Beauty: Live at Fillmore West, 1973)
:Miles Davis – Great Expectations:  (Big Fun, 1970)
:Miles Davis – Paraphernalia:  (Miles in the Sky, 1968)
:Miles Davis – On The Corner – Thinkin’ Of One Thing Doin’ Another – Vote For Miles:  (On the Corner, 1972)

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