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Telling Stories at the Slip/Lovitt Day Party Featuring Sleepytime Trio Reunion at SXSW

March 2nd, 2012 by Jeff Simmermon

I’ve got a real love/hate relationship with Virginia’s post-punk and hardcore scene. When I look back on it, I find the scene as a whole creatively constrained and kind of stifling — it was this kind of styleized suburban orthodox dudefest of screamed vocals and far-left political statements set to guitar feedback and complicated drums.

But look, man: if you hated sports a little and frat-culture a lot in the late ’80s and early ’90s, what else were you going to do? Punk and hardcore had a low barrier to entry then – just get yourself a guitar, a garage and couple other guys and add a few metric apeloads of sweat and willpower. You could turn a pizza parlor, VFW hall or urine-soaked living room into a mothership full of people that were just ROCKING THE FUCK OUT with you at the helm.

My musical efforts at that time were stranger and less accessible.

I met almost all of my best, tightest, life-long friends at these shows. We made bands, made tapes, played records, took road trips to the Black Cat in DC and Twister’s in Richmond together, and ate a WHOLE lot of hash browns at truckstops in the middle of the night together. I went to a lot of weddings and I’ll go to a lot of funerals because of the people I met back then. We shepherded each other along the messy, complicated path into adult life, and I plan to return the favors on the way out.

Some of my best friends in college – the kindest, strangest, funniest guys in the world – formed the Sleepytime Trio. And when they played in our tiny living room in Harrisonburg, VA, the energy was Thor banging his hammer on the ground. Lightning bolts connected everybody and people dove off the mantle and jumped out the windows … before opening them.

Everytime they played, something got broken, someone got hurt and everyone in the room took a malt-liquor shower together and we smiled about it real hard, too. Because we all knew that nothing this awesome was happening for hundreds of miles around this tiny little mountain town and we all made it together.

Here’s the Sleepytime Trio playing at ABC No Rio back in the late ’90s. This looks and sounds a LOT like my living room did when I was in college.

So I’m really, really honored and exceptionally stoked to be MC-ing the Slip/Lovitt Party at SXSW on March 15th — featuring a rare and raw Sleepytime Trio reunion. There are 8 bands, and I’ll be telling stories between all of them. You don’t need a badge or anything, just earplugs. And maybe some extra deodorant.

Slip/Lovitt Party at SXSW

See, that love/hate thing – it’s not really hate. It’s the natural flipside of a nurturing relationship. You will always resent the thing that makes you just enough to get out on your own. It’s scary out there, and if you didn’t push yourself away, you’d still live in your mom’s attic.

For me, this thing’s like coming home for Christmas. We’re all grown up, and we’re all going to rock this thing as hard as we know how.

For the rest of you, the show ought to be really fun, especially if you like hanging out with dudes in cargo shorts who still buy 7″ records. Hope you can make it.

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And I Am Not Lying LIVE at Union Hall on March 6th

February 24th, 2012 by Jeff Simmermon

March is gonna be nuts for us. We have all this stuff going on at South by Southwest, and our regular monthly show at Union Hall in the same fricking week.

The Union Hall show is on Tuesday, March 6th, 2012, 8PM. Tickets are ten dollars. We strongly recommend buying advance tickets, which you can get here:

Advance Tickets to And I Am Not Lying at Union Hall.

This month’s is going to be a doozy, friends – we’ve got:

  • Comedy from Wil Sylvince
  • Burlesque by Little Brooklyn and Cherry Pitz
  • Storytelling by Jeff Simmermon (me), Brad Lawrence, Cyndi Freeman
  • and MAGIC by Albert Cadabra

I made this flyer for it, too – I thought it was cool, anyway. I’m really into that grindhouse-cinema look.

And I Am Not Lying Live at Union Hall 3.6.2012

As always, here is a fun trailer we made to promote the show:

And if you’re coming over from The Hairpin, you may want to check out this video of Cyndi at her tassel-twirling finest:

Hope we see you there!

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Great Standup Set from Michael Che at Union Hall

January 27th, 2012 by Jeff Simmermon

I first met Michael Che at Hannibal Buress’s free Sunday show at The Knitting Factory. I saw him perform 3 or 4 times, and man – he killed it every time. He did the And I Am Not Lying Live show back in December, and my friends called me the next day to tell me that they’d been quoting some of his lines to each other on the long drive back to Virginia the next day.

He was kind enough to let me share this video of his set:

The guy’s good, huh? You can catch him on Twitter at @chethinks, and on Tumblr here.

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And I Am Not Lying – Live: We’ve Got a Residency at Union Hall, First Tuesday of Each Month

January 22nd, 2012 by Jeff Simmermon

We’ve been real sometimes-y about these And I Am Not Lying live shows over the past year – a show here and a show there, spattered around Brooklyn and lower Manhattan and DC and Philadelphia in a series of one-offs that are always exciting, but hardly consistent. Considering that the show’s based on a blog that is updated really infrequently, that kinda made sense.

Thanks to a lot of awesome help from Creaghead and Co., that’s about to change.

Starting February 7th, we’ll be cock-rocking the NPR crowd with the And I Am Not Lying live show at Union Hall on the first Tuesday of every month. Doors are at 8, show’s at 8:30 and tickets ain’t but ten tiny dollars for the finest comedy, storytelling, burlesque sideshow you’re going to get anywhere.

Be honest with yourself: stuff like this is part of the reason you moved here. It’s worth a headache at work on Wednesday.

You can buy tickets here if you’re into that already.

We pulled together this cool trailer about it, too. It may be NSFW, depending on your job:

I wanted to start this show for a very, very good reason. I’m doing this thing so that I don’t go completely numb, and I’m trying to bring as many people back to life as I can right along with us.

I spend a lot of time hunched over a glowing rectangle starting and mediating petty squabbles about nothing, breathing shallowly through my mouth and reading tweets about television. I’ve been doing it for years. When I’m not getting paid to do it I sit around my apartment in my underpants and do it for free, apparently.

Everyone does.

Sometimes I think we’re all using computers to row this numbing boat towards a black wall of depressing distraction. I want to do my part to get as many people into one room and feeling something great together for a little while. And maybe if we get together often enough and pool our collective energies into something funny and weird, we can live a little outside of our bottomless pockets filled with lotus petals.

The entire purpose of life is to get as excited as possible. I’m so, so excited to have a reason to hose the town down with excitement once a month. So it’s like a Mobius strip of recursive excitement for me.

Sometimes storytelling shows can get a little sweater-vesty, comedy shows can be too bitter and detached, and burlesque too much, all in a go. This way we can cross-pollinate the best of the best and no matter what, if you’re not into what you’re seeing you can see something else really soon.

I want this thing to be a rock show without instruments, to just cram an entire aircraft carrier’s worth of fun into the basement of Union Hall. So far, we’ve been doing pretty okay on that front, I think.

D.Billy and I collaborated on this cool poster (I think it’s cool, anyway) to announce the residency:

And I Am Not Lying Live - Residency Poster, 2012

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Reggie Watts Covers Maroon 5, Improvises and Raps In A Death Metal Style at “Heart of Darkness”

January 10th, 2012 by Jeff Simmermon

Creaghead and Company is pretty much Caroline Creaghead. And Caroline Creaghead is pretty much awesome. She helps to book and produce the And I Am Not Lying Live show, in addition to a bunch of others. One of the other shows in Caroline’s stable is “Heart Of Darkness” with Greg Barris. According to Flavorpill, Heart of Darkness (with the live band the Forgiveness) is a

psychedelic stand‐up show … a visceral experience from the downtown comedy underground. Accomplished thinkers, authors, poets, and artists join Barris and his band to become one seamless, improvised comedy freak show.”

I caught the sold-out show at Union Hall last Saturday. What I could see of it was really, really awesome, when I could see around a pillar. Everything sounded great, though.

Reggie Watts dropped in at the last minute and did a hilarious set, improvising all kinds of hilarious music and completely surreal standup that made perfect sense and told right-on truths as long as you didn’t listen too closely. If you did, you’d realize he was riffing on the kind of played-out onstage cliches you hear from most hip-hop and rock ‘n roll stage banter.

Here’s a pretty sweet clip. In it, Reggie Watts covers Maroon 5′s “Moves Like Jagger,” freestyles and improvises, and raps like the lead singer of a Cookie Monster death metal band:

Reggie Watts – Touching Songs Improv – Heart Of Darkness – 1.7.12 from Karmalize Productions on Vimeo.

In this clip, Reggie, Greg Barris and the Forgiveness improve a long jam about slack friends, vampires, teen smoking and more:

Reggie Watts & The Forgiveness – Improv Jam – Heart Of Darkness – 1.7.12 from Karmalize Productions on Vimeo.

Both clips were shot and edited by Alex Gaylon of Karmalize Productions.

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Goodbye, Sandy – We Loved You As Much As You Loved Us

January 10th, 2012 by Jeff Simmermon

Sandy was my family’s dog. We got her from the pound back when I was in college, and have had her ever since. She’s a mutt, some combination of terrier and lab. I always thought she looked like a Muppet snow monster.

We had to have her put to sleep today. She was sixteen or seventeen – when you get a dog from the pound, their age is always sort of vague. She had rheumatoid arthritis in her back legs and a dense, growing mass in the bone of her right front leg. Her right front paw has touched the ground about fifteen times since Thanksgiving. She was deaf and starting to lose her eyesight, and my parents have had to give her morphine to keep the pain back for the last week or so. It was time.

That doesn’t mean this doesn’t completely suck, though.

When we got her from the pound, they told us that she had likely been abused in her previous home, but she didn’t have any behavior problems that they could see. She just cringed when she heard people yelling and got a little weird about dinnertime. When we took her into the isolation pen to sort of test her out or whatever, she climbed into my lap and whimpered and licked my hand. How can you ignore something like that?

Her name on her cage at the pound was Sandy, which is also my mom’s first name. We asked my mom if she wanted us to change the dog’s name, and she knelt to pet her and rub her ears for a minute, looking into her huge brown eyes. Then she stood up and said “you know, I really think she’s been through enough. And if you all talk to me in the same tone of voice you’d talk to a dog, and I can’t tell the difference, we have at least two other problems that are much more important.”

Every single time I entered my parents’ house after that, Sandy exploded all over me like a furry avalanche, thumping her tail and emitting this high-pitched whiny squeal. Her tail would bang into the banister and hit the floor hard enough to hurt, but it never seemed to bother her when I came home. I took her running in the field by my folks’ house, and she kept up with me on the sprints for many years, her face split in a massive dog grin. When we got home she’d drink her entire water bowl, maybe knock back an inch or two of toilet water and then pass out in front of the air conditioner.

Then at night, when I’d finally go to bed, I’d find her lying on whatever bed I was supposed to be staying on. She slept next to me every chance she got. Here she is, last Christmas. She slipped away while Maggie and I were hanging out with my parents by the tree, and helped herself to the end of my bed on the floor of my sister’s old room:

sandy.christmas

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Welcome to the Club – A Few Words About Having Cancer

December 6th, 2011 by Jeff Simmermon



Doctor

Originally uploaded by Jeff.Simmermon

You know, there’s an awful lot of cancer going around. I’m not sure that it’s not catching.

Or, you know how people used to smoke cigarettes with asbestos filters and X-ray their feet at the shoe store to see if they had a good fit? I think we’re doing something like that right now, something our grandkids are going to find so shocking and appalling when we tell them about it. They’re going to say “well of COURSE you all had cancer.”

Maybe it’s plastics.

A friend of mine got diagnosed with breast cancer last week. And before that, other friends and other friends. The words that follow are for anyone that’s been diagnosed with cancer and is really, really freaking out about it. That should cover pretty much anyone that’s been diagnosed with cancer, period.

I’ve just found myself emailing versions of what follows out to a number of people recently, and I thought maybe I’d put it out here so strangers could read this and share it.

Here it goes:

_______________
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Joseph Mulhollen’s Album “Problematical Animals” on Kickstarter

November 4th, 2011 by D.Billy

I’ll try to make this short and to the point:
Singer / songwriter Joseph Mulhollen makes music that I really really like. A lot. To provide a frame of reference: If you’re at all into stuff like Sufjan Stevens, Andrew Bird, Elliot Smith, and Beirut, then there is a VERY good chance that you’ll be into Joseph Mulhollen. I’ve dropped a few tracks and videos at the end of this post as a little Joe-sampler.

Mr. Mulhollen is just about finished recording his third album, Problematical Animals. And from what I’ve heard, it is excellent. BUT he still needs to get it mastered, pressed, and released, and pay the other talented musicians who contributed to the record, and the album cover artist. And this is where WE come in. Joe has set up a Kickstarter page to gather funds to get Problematical Animals out there, and to allow YOU to preorder the album. And the more support you pledge, the more B-sides and other goodies you get along with your copy of the record. He’s in the home stretch, with only a few days left to go. I’ll turn it over to Joe:

Now, aside from being a spectacularly talented musician, Joe is also one of my favorite human beings on the planet. In 1998, before we actually knew any-damn-thing about one another, Joe dragged me up onstage with him at the Old Main Inn in Fredonia NY, and asked — nay, told — me to play drums on a song of his that I had heard maybe once before. It somehow worked out not-too-terribly, and I’ve the honor of playing with him off and on for the past thirteen years. Nine times out of ten, one of us has just gotten into the town where the other one lives, and we have ZERO rehearsal time. And just like at the Old Main, it kinda works anyway. If nothing else, I have more fun playing with Joe than doing just about anything else. I would be super stoked to see Problematical Animals on many of your playlists in a couple of months, and trust me, you’ll be glad it’s there too.


As promised at the top of this post, here are some tracks and performance videos of Joe in action, to give you a kind of cross-section of his ouevre. Enjoy, and please help support this guy!

Matter Of Division (demo) by Joseph Mulhollen

Searching For Corners In Circular Rooms by Joseph Mulhollen



Link: HELP FUND & PREORDER PROBLEMATICAL ANIMALS ON KICKSTARTER.

Filed under D.Billy, Family & Friends, Music having Comments Off

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Runaround Sue, Live Burlesque at Union Hall and Everywhere Else

October 25th, 2011 by Jeff Simmermon

I’d be lying if I said I knew Runaround Sue very well. I’d also be lying if I said I wasn’t a huge fan. She’s a burlesque performer here in New York and all over the place, including Richmond, VA and a lot of other states and countries. She’s a mystery lady, a sweet enigma that sometimes lives with Cyndi and Brad and sometimes coalesces in the back of used bookstores in Manhattan.

That’s where I keep running into her.

When she performed at our show at Union Hall in Brooklyn, she brought a terrifying heat. She grunted and yelped and when she beat the floor with her breakaway dress and the kind of bra that can NEVER come off fast enough, she did it with an intensity that you just kinda recognize after a while. It’s one part Cramps and one part playground and one hundred percent the spirit of ROCK.

She’s going to be performing with us in Philadelphia and Washington, DC in the very beginning of November. Which is, sweet JESUS, next week!

To learn more about the DC show, go here.
To buy tickets to the DC show, visit this link: And I Am Not Lying: A Night of Storytelling, Comedy, and Burlesque

And to get a taste of what kind of an act Runaround Sue has, watch the video below. Tassels and their contents do fly freely here, so it may not be safe for work:

Wasn’t that just wonderful? My family’s minister reads this blog. He’s pretty great that way, to be honest, and I’m glad to consider him a friend. I’m also glad that maybe Sue and I made him sweat a little much.

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I Hope the Walls Stay Dry: And I Am Not Lying Live at The Black Cat in Washington, DC.

October 24th, 2011 by Jeff Simmermon

On Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011, I am going to be performing along with my troupe of storytellers and burlesque performers at the Black Cat in Washington, DC.

It’s going to be me (Jeff Simmermon) as a storyteller, along with And I Am Not Lying members Cyndi Freeman and Brad Lawrence, along with additional burlesque by Runaround Sue and Cyndi Freeman as Cherry Pitz. Tickets are $12, show starts at 8PM.

You can get those tickets here: And I Am Not Lying: A Night of Storytelling, Comedy, and Burlesque

This is a cool trailer that our generous, warm and talented friend Tracy Rowland cut together for us. If you happen to write a blog or want to shout it out loud on any sort of social platform that you fancy, do please go right ahead:

And I honestly cannot believe that I just standing here in my office, typing this like it’s the most normal thing in the world.

We used to sneak off to the Black Cat in high school and college all the time, to pretty much see everybody. It was the beacon on the hill, the magnet in the big city that produced Bad Brains, Fugazi, Nation of Ulysses and God knows how many other bands — many of which contained my friends that I secretly admired but never told because I was so jealous — and sucked me right up there. I hung out there all the time in the years that I lived in DC, and now I’m thrilled and terrified to be a tiny part of the continuum that made me.

Imagine if you ate at incredible potlucks for your entire life, full of incredible, nourishing delicious everything you could possibly imagine and then found all these new things you didn’t ever know existed but blew your mind apart all the same.

When it comes your turn to put a dish on the table, you just really hope it doesn’t make people barf on the walls, is all I’m saying.

I am nervous enough to barf on the walls right now. I started this blog in Washington, DC as well, and it’s going to be a pretty weird homecoming.

I made this fun little flyer to promote the show, too. Just go right ahead and post that on your social platforms as well:

And I Am Not Lying at the Black Cat

I sure hope you folks can make it.

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