Thursday, June 30, 2011

Go Listen To Good Live Music

The older I get, the easier it is to talk myself out of going to a concert. The cost, the drive, the crowd. It tends to make me feel crotchety and irritable. The idea of going to a concert generally sounds great, but the reality rarely lives up to my internal hype. I think that coincides with the transition in music my tastebuds have taken over the years. Although I still love punk and rock n' roll, I tend to be attracted to the more subdued live shows that visit town.

I've seen a handful of great shows over the past couple years--The Black Keys, Willie Nelson, Ray Lamontagne--and my most recent gig certainly falls into that category.

April and I spent the evening on Saturday enjoying a delightful live concert provided by Hayes Carll.

If you aren't familiar with Hayes, pick up his album, "Trouble In Mind"--I think it's his best one.

Nothing like hanging out at a Country and Western show, drinking a few High Life's, and listening to great music. Hayes can write a great song, and with his fantastic drawl, he can deliver it on stage, too.

Also, the Bluebird Theater in Denver is a super-cool, intimate little venue that isn't designed around mosh pits or elbow-to-asshole crowds. Instead, it's tiered upward from the stage with small platforms and rails for easy and close-up viewing. Perfect for drinking some beer and listening to a legitimate Roots, Americana, Outlaw, Alt-Country act (this is how Hayes jokingly describes his music) like Hayes Carll.

So...even though Ticket Master absolutely rapes your bank account, pick a show or two, bite the bullet, and go enjoy yourself.



Friday, June 24, 2011

Belly Up.

I fish. Lots. But one thing I've never done is float around a lake in a belly boat, casting at the banks. So today, I did.

A belly boat , or U-boat, is basically an innertube-type of fishing craft that the angler sits in while his feet hang below. Generally, you're wearing waders because you're essentially waist deep while sitting in the water. You have flippers strapped onto your feet so you can putt around--albeit backwards.

I borrowed my friend Peter's boat today and set out for a little lake in the Boulder city limits. On about the fourth or fifth cast, I hooked up with a really substantial fish. That fish ended up being a 22 inch walleye.

I putted around for a few hours, chucking big streamers with my six weight. Got several bass to hit--one going around 4 pounds.

big bass

bigger bass


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Frikkin' Sauced.

If you bbq your meats--not just smoke them, but bbq them--then you probably use bbq sauce. If you make your own sauce, and it's good, then you rule. I don't do that near enough anymore. Mainly because I can't make it as good as my mos favorito bottled sauces...which are straight outta KC.

Gates, Bryant's, Oklahoma Joe's, and several other top notch sauces accessorize my chicken, ribs, and brisket. In fact, I grilled Gates-soaked chicken last night.

Sauces is tasty.


I - Like - a' Dogs! And Camping...

Found a new lake about 45 minutes from our house last week and decided to pull the pop-up there to camp at it for a couple days. Sadly, this was the first time we have had the camper out this year. With stupid weather up high, it's been difficult to find a decent campsite close by. They seem to either be booked or covered in five feet of snow.

So we loaded up the Pathfinder and the Yakima box on top, threw the pup in the back, hooked on the pop-up, and hit the road. Carter Lake is right in between Longmont and Loveland, CO, and rests up in the foothills a bit.

It's a "big" lake, as far as Colorado lakes go. I kind of laugh at this description, because where I'm from an 1,100 acre lake is not big, a 55,000 acre lake is. It's plenty big enough to set up camp for a couple nights, or putt around in a boat for the day, though.

Cliff enjoying the Saturday afternoon boat ride

It was freakin' refreshing, to say the least, sitting around the campfire with my wife and dog, listening to music and drinking appropriate elixirs. No computers, no phones, no annoyances to speak of. Just the crackle of the fire, thoughts of percolating coffee and sizzling bacon in the morning, and the feeling of satisfaction after netting a few bass that afternoon.

Along with relaxation, we also encountered a little excitement when a sailboat decided to capsize and sink in front of us during an afternoon wind storm. After finding out that the passengers had escaped with minor cuts and bruises, April and I pulled up our camp chairs, grabbed a cold beer out of the cooler, and decided to let their misfortune serve as our entertainment for the next hour or so.

I thought to myself several times during the trip, that I love camping. So many things that I don't know if I could live without, all combined into one activity. Making and staring at fire, fishing, chopping wood, pulling a heavy trailer with my truck, sitting, my family, stars, water, cooking, drinking. It's all there. I must go again...very soon.

Casa de Reins-Todd on Carter Lake


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Nashville Cats.

As I posted on my other blog, April and I spent a few days in Nashville a couple weeks ago. Actually, she won a trip to see the CMT Awards, travel and lodging accommodations paid for, pre and post party, and tickets to the show. She's lucky like that.

She asked if I'd like to go--before I knew that she had won a free trip. I danced around the question at first, mainly because I couldn't justify spending our own money on an impromptu trip to see an awards show that, frankly, I couldn't get that excited about. Then I heard the word "free".


Once again, if it were the "80s Metal Awards" or "Obscure St. Louis Cardinals From the Past Awards" I would have been all over it from the get-go. But there was honestly a bit of hesitation, even after I found out it was free. I regret having any hesitation and am thankful that I put all reluctantcies aside. It was an absolute blast.

Without going into every little detail...the gist of the story is that I did something that I will probably never have the opportunity to do again. And I did it VIP style! Yes, we were pampered. From the chauffeur holding the "Reins-Todd" sign for us at the airport and promptly getting us into our black Escalade, hotel-bound--to mingling at the pre-party with celebs and free cocktails. Yes, I could get used to this brand of living.

I touched on it in my other blog...but the history of the music and the culture was incredible. It opened my eyes to the industry, and how the times have changed--yet stayed the same.

Ryman Auditorium. Home to Roy Acuff, Grandpa Jones, Johnny Cash, Vince Gill, and many, many others.

The honkytonks on Broadway were a bit touristy--as was the entire state of Tennessee this particular week, with Country Music Appreciation Week, CMTs, and Bonnaroo Music Fest all coinciding. But they were all still true to their roots. Robert's Western World was my favorite, mainly because I recognized their neon sign from the album cover of a BR549 record. Where other bars had a more Pop-Country band playing, Robert's bands had a more traditional feel to it. More of a Hank Sr, Johnny Cash, Rockabilly style. Much more my scene. Witnessed an incredible band, The Travis Mann Band ( I've attached a video so you can see for yourselves. And although the audio isn't that great, the bass player may be the best I've ever heard.

The Awards themselves were extremely entertaining. I'm not a Rascall/Toby guy, but it was still entertaining. Especially just seeing how a live show of this caliber works. The infrastructure, the planning, the timing, the teamwork--all very impressive. And getting up close to Shania, Sheryl, and Sara was well worth the price of admission.

The after party was what my wife would describe Heaven to be. Commingling with celebrities, open bar with top shelf bottles, catering by Iron Chef Kat Cora. Hell, Justin Bieber was even there!

April with celebrities of whom I do not know names of.

It was a phenomenal experience. And I'm glad I did it.


New Identity

Yes, this is one of my abandoned blogs that I am attempting to resurrect from the dead. It used to be called Earl Pics, but after two entries that averaged out to be about an entry per year, I decided to give it a facelift.

This blog actually has a purpose. Well, I suppose my other blog, has a purpose too, which is ranting, blabbing, and spilling verbal vomit all over your computer screen. This one here, is intended to inspire. You see, I enjoy doing things. Things other than waking up, going to work, coming home, sitting in front of the TV, eating a frozen dinner, going to bed. There are certain days that this recipe is incredible, but as a whole I would prefer to stay busy.

I need something to motivate me to continue to keep doing. There are certainly deep meanings behind this line of thinking. Without digging too deep, the primary reason is because I want to experience as much as I as much as I can. Life is way too short to not do.

I believe I've said it before--I'm not talking skinny-skiing or going to bullfights on acid. Just living well. Travel, cooking, the outdoors, friends & family, festivals, parties, hobbies--you know, the typical fare. But I also want to try new things. Recipes, gardening, beers, events, cities, campgrounds, lakes & rivers, bars. I believe "doing" requires trying new things.

This blog is not intended to boast, so don't look at it that way. It's more or less a digital journal to keep inspiring me (and maybe you) to experience cool things.

I have to thank my friends Jeffrey and Bryan, and my brother-in-law Pat for inspiring me to do. Jeffrey recently started a beautiful and bountiful can read about it at Bryan has built a fully rigged and functioning rehearsal studio ( Pat and I are geared alike and are constantly challenging each other to branch out, think outside the box, and live as much as we can. Thanks fellas.

So, hopefully I will follow through with this. Continuous updates, pictures, words, maybe a video here and there...all to keep me going.

Hope you enjoy it.