Saturday, August 23, 2008

Get Well Soon, Will

All the folks here at Brothers McC wish Will a safe & speedy recovery.

Nashville rock musician Will Hoge, 35, is in critical condition in Vanderbilt University Medical Center after being involved in a motor scooter accident Wednesday evening.

Hoge was traveling north on Main Street in East Nashville at about 8 p.m. when a southbound van failed to yield while turning into 712 Main St., Metro Police spokesperson Kris Mumford said. Hoge's motor scooter collided with the passenger side of the van. Police found no evidence of alcohol or drugs involved in the accident.

Ashley Hansen, editorial assistant at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, reported Hoge's family "appreciates everyone keeping Will in their thoughts and prayers."

The driver of the van, Sibomana Viateur, 28, of Nashville, did not suffer any injuries.

Hoge is one of Nashville's most accomplished rock artists, having moved from a promising major-label stint in the early part of the decade into a thriving career as a hard-touring, do-it-yourself musician. His most recent album, last year's Draw the Curtains, was his first for indie label Rykodisc, and marked his return to label affiliation.

The singer-songwriter is in the midst of recording the follow-up to that highly praised album at Sound Emporium Studios at home in Nashville. He is scheduled to take a hometown stage at the Mercy Lounge on Sept. 20, as part of the 2008 Americana Music Festival.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Happy Birthday Jimmy

Today, here at the Brothers McC - and, all around the world, we celebrate the 21st birthday of SPC James McCarthy. Better known to us and the fine ladies of Maryland, as Jim.

Be safe ... get home soon ... a cold beer is waiting for you.

Even though it will get there after the fact, feel free to send Jim a birthday card. Or, if you will, just a note of encouragement ... or thanks ...

Jim is a great kid. And by wearing this country's uniform he does us all proud.

Send those cards & letters to:

SPC James McCarthy
2-25 SBCT 25th ID
Bravo Co 1-4 IN BN
APO AE 09378

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Lucero: A Great American Band

A few years ago, the eldest member of the Brothers McC called me to let me know that there was an ‘amazing’ band playing in Brooklyn on the following night. The band; Lucero. Who? You might ask … cause I know I did. Well, as it turned out, the Mrs & I were able to make the show – though we were unable to talk anyone else we knew in to going with us. We jumped a subway train headed off into the Brooklyn night, got to our stop – still had a long walk – but finally made it to the club.

There was a big sign on the door: SOLD OUT !!

Well, as my old soundman Turk used to say, ‘Nothing is ever sold out’ – so we walked in and talked with the doorman. Sure enough, it was sold out, but the doorman was a nice guy and put us on ‘The Guest List’

When Lucero hit the stage that night, two things became readily evident:

One: These guys were going to be fun!

Two: The Mrs and I were the only two people in the club that did not already know every word to every song that Lucero were performing.

The band exploded, the crowd went nuts (try to remember what it was like when you first saw The Clash or The Pogues), and the Mrs & I were caught up in the frenzy.

Skip ahead a year or so, and Lucero again takes the stage, this time with lead singer, Ben Nichols fighting a mean case of laryngitis, but still delivering a killer show. Now I knew that the guy was not only talented as hell – but full of heart as well.

Last night, the Mrs & I (and our faithful man servant, Alan) ventured to The North Star Bar (in Philadelphia) to see the boys back on stage. After an OK set by Glossary, followed up by a great set by Justin Townes Earle (yep, Steve’s kid), Lucero delivered a full on, no holds barred set of rock and roll that helps old guys like me still believe in the power and the glory of rock and roll.

These guys wear their hearts and influences on their sleeves; All the great touchstones are there; The Clash, The Pogues, The Band, CCR, Tom Waits & Springsteen. But there’s also Skynard, & Petty (probably both Tom & Richard), The Replacements and Dylan.

Lucero delivers songs about living with the broken down American dream – but still trying to make good on the promise that any man can do better in this world than his Dad did. The songs can alternate between stark and funny, full on power with the crowd shouting along or so quiet the entire crowd actually shuts up so they can hear each word.

I know there are a lot of buzz bands out there these days – and I’ve seen & heard a bunch of them. But, right now, for my money, there is no better band (that doesn’t have a guy named Springsteen in it) out there than Lucero. No one has better songs. No one delivers a better live show. And no one can still make you ‘believe’ the way that they believe.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Spiritual Arms Race

There is a spiritual arms race afoot.

A knock-down-drag-out steel cage match for the title of Most Religious.

Whoever wins ... becomes president.


John McCain is so desperate that he's claimed to be a Baptist while stumping in Baptist country. For the record, the dude's an Episcopalian.

For now.

Barack Obama trumpets his Christianity at every turn. And consistently touts the necessity of spirituality and religious insight for successful governance and the healing of our country.

Both are simply trying to get elected. And sound like teenagers trying to convince Dad to give them the keys to the Buick for the weekend.

The Republican Party has been trading on fire and brimstone for ages, so, ya know, whatever.

But now, the Democratic Party — tired of God-Squad dominance and presidential election defeats at the hands of dolts like our current Prayer-in-Chief — has decided to drink the Jesus juice and roll the ideological dice.

And the newest face of this effort — Leah Daughtry — is a case study in everything that is wrong with over-heated religiosity.

Early on in the recent New York Times Magazine profile of her, Leah Daughtry reveals herself as another in a long line of prominent political frauds, using her ideology to convince us that she -- and those who share her point of view — are Holier Than Thou.

Well ... Holier Than Me at least.

Daughtry is Howard Dean's Chief of Staff and she is in charge of the Democratic National Convention — and she's a Pentecostal minister.

In the article, she is preaching at her father's House of the Lord Church in Brooklyn and celebrating a congregant's triumph over breast cancer.

Daughtry gives credit for this medical victory to the exceptional quality of prayer supplied by the women members of the church, saying:

"The eggheads will say her chemotherapy worked, but everyone who uses chemotherapy isn’t cured.”

First, I'm not sure who the "eggheads" are. I can only assume she's referring to sane people.

Second — my mother died of cancer. She underwent chemotherapy. She prayed for a cure. Her family prayed for a cure. All her friends prayed for a cure.

Does this mean the Catholic prayers in Southeastern Pennsylvania weren't as potent as those in Brooklyn? Did God give the faithful from St. Denis in suburban Philadelphia a big holy raspberry — and decide that my mother was not spiritually committed enough to live?

Leah Daughtry's remark exposes religious ideology for what it is — "Our God is better than your god."

A less sophisticated writer than myself might — at this point — say something inflammatory like "Leah Daughtry can go fuck herself" but I'm cut from a finer cloth.

Instead, I submit that it is time to form a new political party — the "Fuck Ideologies."

Who's with me?

Is it necessary for me to pick on Leah Daughtry?

I think so.


Because she will soon have the ear of Barack Obama. Because everyone is racing to claim the Most Religious crown for their party, their candidate, their government. Because religious ideology is hypocritical at best and murderous at worst.

And because Leah Daughtry says that, for her, "the Bible is history."

Please ...

Let's clear one thing up right now — the Bible is not literal history for anyone. There are no people following the dictates of the Bible word for word. And anyone who says they are is lying. And any political figure who says they are is not only lying but dangerous.

Everyone — and by "everyone" I tend to mean, well, all people currently living — everyone who consults the Bible picks and chooses from the Good Book. They select what serves their needs. A spiritual 7-11 if you will.

Ideology is the proud father of hypocrisy. And when ideology and hypocrisy hook up with ambition — the worst kind of family reunion takes place ... one that ends with guns going off, tanks rolling in, RPGs whizzing by, rights disappearing, tolerance evaporating and young men and women being memoralized in the local newspaper.

President Bush said that he consulted with God about the war in Iraq — and that has sustained him and kept him steadfast.

Talk about covering your ass.

But of course Bush didn't talk with God — he talked with Cheney, who we all know fell from Heaven and now battles God for the souls of mankind.

Okay, yes, spirituality is the centerpiece of many people's lives.

And, yes, that spirituality helps shape one's point of view of the world.

But when you get in a spiritual arms race and you openly compete to prove you are God's favorite — the canary in the coal mine starts to experience shortness of breath.

Leah Daughtry says a bunch of other nutty things in the article — like her experiences speaking in tongues (brilliant actually — its unassailable because its supposed to be gibberish) and that she was a reluctant participant in the public arena (hence the splashy New York Times Magazine article).

I'm sure its not all Leah Daughtry's fault.

I'm sure she's a good friend and a loving daughter.

But do we really need religious ideology to know that we should be decent to one another? Or keep our country's citizens safe? Or have our trash picked up?

Leah Daughtry thinks God prefers the Pentecostal way. A born-again former co-worker of mine believes that Jews and Muslims have no shot at heaven. Many devout Catholic are closet racists.

What does that even mean?

It means that — ultimately — organized, ambitious religious ideology will divide us.

Our common humanity is what will unite us.

Swear to God.