the highly anticipated 2020 review

Well, it’s been a year. Last year “_ _ _ _ of 2019” was published at 12:01am Jan 01, 2019. This year we’re appropriately behind schedule.

Books of 2020*: Canoe Country: The Making of Canada by Roy MacGregor, The Legend of Colton H. Bryant by Alexandra Fuller and My Year of Rest and Relaxation, by Ottessa Moshfegh

Very different books, all great reads.

The Legend of Colton H. Bryant was recommended to me by my brother as the only book he has ever read (and probably the only one he ever will). It’s a great portrait of the oil and gas industry so long as you can look past Fuller explaining that you can hear perf guns above ground.

I first read it on my cell phone in one go, waiting on a rig in Louisiana. All LA jobs are messed up. On this particular location the board road** flodded and washed out. We were stuck on site for ~36 hours. Good times.

Album of 2020: Gangstabilly by Drive-By Truckers

Originally released in 1998, the first DBT album is still the best southern basement rock around. In particular: The Living Bubba, 18 Wheels of Love, and Sandwiches for the Road. Turn it up loud.

Audiobook Author of the Year: Herman Wouk

Wouk’s historical fiction was critiqued in its time for being too predictable. But, for me (someone who doesn’t know much beyond who won WWII) War and Rememberance is thrilling and works very well as an audiobook. The Caine Mutany is equally gripping and relatable.

Bonus Track: Gimme Back My Dog by Slobberbone

Bar band rock and roll from Denton, TX.

*Not published in 2020, read or re-read in 2020.
** On particullarly swampy well sites in LA some operators put down boards (mats, really) of particle board and cheap lumber all around the rig and on the lease road.

_ _ _ _ of 2019

Take a look at 2019.

Sporting Event of 2019

Forge FC outplay Olimpia for a 1-0 win in the first leg of the CONCACAF quaterfinals.

Breakthrough Artist* of 2019 : Katy Guillen and the Girls**

I saw Katy G and the Girls a couple times at Stanley’s; both shows were excellent. Three piece groups let you hear every musician in a way that a 5+ piece band doesn’t. Check out:Woke Up in Spain for a great riff, Funny Place for your acoustic fix, and Don’t Need Anyone to hear drums and a fuzzy guitar solo.

Best / Worst Movies of 2019: Western Stars / Blinded by the Light (respectively)

Blinded by the Light was so rough I couldn’t even make it through to the end.
Western Stars premiered at TIFF, if that isn’t enough for you snobs… well…

Book of 2019: How to do Nothing, by Jenny Odell

I really liked 80% of this book. 15% was wading through mud. 5% was Captain Obvious material. But, that 80% made it more than worth it.

Runner up: BSL’s Transport Phenomena

Show of 2019: Drive-By Truckers at Lee’s Palace, 4th of July Show

Read all about it:

Best of the Swipe File 2019

This version of Promised Land makes shooting stars appear.
Long exposures of starlings.
A reminder from Austin Kleon.

*A breakthrough artist is any group who managed to break through Bruce Springsteen’s wall of sound and into my heavy rotation.

* *Katy Guillen and the Girls broke up in 2018. Guillen and drummer Stephanie Williams are current working together as Katy Guillen and the Drive.

Food for thought:

dbt – july 4, 2019

Olivia, Jon and I celebrated America’s birthday with Drive-By Truckers at Lee’s Palace in Toronto. As expected, the show rocked hard. Too hard for some. Jon left early, citing something about his ears. I don’t know, I couldn’t hear a word he was saying.

DBT played for over 2 and a half hours, full on, no intermission, with an encore cover of “Rocking in the Free World”, after explaining “We stopped playing encores years ago, but fuck it”. That wasn’t their only nod to Neil and Canada. Patterson Hood kicked off the show wishing the room a belated happy Canada Day before launching into “Ronnie and Neil”, complete with red and white stage lights.

hands at a rock and roll concert

About three fourths of the way into the show Hood passed a fifth of whiskey into the audience, he’d been taking the occasional pull off of it all night. A few songs later the bottle was passed back to him (Canadians being too polite). Hood took the obligatory swig from the bottle, held it in his mouth for a beat or two, realized he didn’t really want the drink, and spat the booze out on stage. I swear I could smell it, that slightly sweet whiskey, despite standing at least ten meters away. That’s why you gotta see bands live, kiddos.

You can’t pick a favorite song in shows like this, it defeats the point. They played Mike Cooley’s stuff, Hood’s stuff, and even an Adam’s House Cat tune. There were four part harmonies, a Brad Morgan drum solo, and the occasional three guitar wall of sound. Matt Patton even stepped up for a tune. And they finished strong, closing the evening with “Angels and Fuselage”, playing each other off the stage, exiting one by one until only Jay Gonzalez was left playing the keys before leaving stage himself.

Drive By Truckers are an American band, a southern American band, and appropriately proud of their identity. At Lee’s Palace you can juuust see into the top of the green room; that night there were giant gold foil “USA” letter balloons. However, I don’t think it is a coincidence that they booked a three show run in Toronto over the 4th of July this year.

Fuji Quicksnap
Downtown Camera