* People often ask me, “Bill, you’re a talented writer. Why don’t you do more freelance work?” Let me address your question with a question. If you were the editor of Spin or Rolling Stone and you sent someone to cover a major music festival, would you be pleased if your writer filed a story dismissing the night’s headliner because her backup singers were wearing Snuggies on stage? That’s what I thought.
* Since I rolled into Chicago later than planned, I figured I’d catch some of the bands I didn’t have on my initial coverage list, like Dirty Projectors. This New York, art-rock project always struck me as an act too clever for their own good. With all of those worldly influences, obscure time signatures and uncommon harmonies, and few, if any, pop hooks, they are an acquired taste. I made it through three songs, or one more song than the last time I tried to watch them perform.
* On a visit to the literary tent, I struck up a conversation with the rep from McSweeney’s about Cleveland folk artist, Bill Fox. In case you’ve forgotten, it was an article in McSweeney’s Believer Magazine for the 2007 music issue that sparked a renewed interest in this beloved Cleveland singer. After a while, the discussion turned to some of the books they had on sale and the rep mentioned a big something they’re putting out this fall, a tome titled How Music Works, by David Byrne. I have an advance of the first chapter and, honestly, can’t wait to dig in.
* Purina also has a tent on the festival grounds. Should you stop by their booth and donate $5 to local animal shelters, you can have your choice of one-of-four, pet-themed festival posters.
* Speaking of festival swag, Permanent Records are one of about a dozen or so vendors selling vinyl in the CHIRP record fair tent, and after putting down some cash for a used LP of Soundgarden’s Louder than Love, I got a free pair of shades with my change. Who’s the King of Swag? Me.