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Feeling Nostalgic About Past Music Discoveries and Dillinger Four

In 3 short days, I will be flying to Minneapolis to see Dillinger Four play their D4th of July show and it has me thinking a lot about how I discovered Dillinger Four and music discovery in the 90s. I first discovered Dillinger Four how I discovered most new bands in the 90s, by listening to a compilation. This particular compilation was called, “Invasion of the Indie Snatchers” by the influential label, Allied Recordings. I got the compilation as a promo as I was doing Suburban Home fanzine in 1996 when this compilation was released. This compilation had quite a few bands that i had never heard (Cards in Spokes, Hot Water Music, J Church), but it was the Dillinger Four track that blew my mind! I had to find out more about Dillinger Four but in 1996, Google wasn’t a thing (started in 1998). Amazon was around, but I’m pretty sure they only sold books. We of course didn’t have spotify (started in 2006). Your main options in the mid 90s were mailorders and record stores. I’m pretty sure the next thing I found by Dillinger Four was their split 7 inch with the Strike. I’m pretty sure I got it at Wax Trax Boulder who had an incredible punk rock 7 inch selection. It had 2 songs by D4 and one of the songs, “Open and Shut” was on the Allied Recordings compilation. The other song was their cover of the Pogues’ song, “Sally Maclennane”. I was hooked! I found two other 7 inches by them, “Higher Aspirations Tempered And Dismantled” and “The Kids Are All Dead” which collectively had 8 masterpieces on them! A year later, they released “More Songs About Girlfriends And Bubblegum” on the pop-punk label (and mailorder), Mutant Pop Records. Mutant Pop was a very prolific label and if you liked pop punk, you loved their mailorder. At this point, the band had released four 7 inch records and still hadn’t released an album. This was also around the time that I graduated with a molecular biology degree and decided I didn’t want to work in a molecular biology lab. I took a job with Hopeless Records moving from Boulder to Los Angeles. Hopeless in the 90s was one of my favorite punk labels having released records by 88 Fingers Louie, Guttermouth, The Nobodys, Falling Sickness, Digger, and Funeral Oration. It was shortly after I started working at Hopeless that the label signed Dillinger Four and I was fucking ecstatic! We’d hear tidbits about how the recording was going and soon the album was going to mastering and a short time after that I had my hands on an advance cassette of “Midwestern Songs of the Americas”. There was no Ipod in 1998 when Midwestern was released. Cassettes could be duplicated quickly and the technology to rip CDs wasn’t super accessible yet. I played the hell out of that cassette and got more and more excited as I started seeing the digital layout for the vinyl, cd, cassette, poster, t-shirt, and sticker. My car still had a cassette player (and disc changer, yeah, I was bigtime in the late 90s!). I soon had a promo copy of the CD and I don’t think I ever took that album out of my disc changer that entire year. I can’t think of a punk rock album that I love more than Midwestern Songs and I might go so far as to say that it is a perfect record. Years later, I had the opportunity to repress both Midwestern Songs and Versus God on Suburban Home/Vinyl Collective which was a dream! This was at a time when a lot of labels stopped pressing records because they were super expensive to press and you were expected to sell them cheaper than CDs. Because of my relationship with Hopeless, they allowed me to press those records which had gone out of print. My pressings are long out of print and fetch a decent amount of money on discogs and ebay. I only have personal copies. Luckily, Hopeless reissued those albums on vinyl and you can pretty easily get one.

While I love the ease of music discovery in 2019, i miss the process of finding my favorite bands in the 90s. I think that the amount of work that went into finding 7 inch records and discovering bands on compilations or by reading thanks lists is something that people will never have the experience and that’s kind of sad. I’m so thankful I had those experiences!

I’m also thankful that Dillinger Four will be playing Midwestern Songs of the Americas in its entirety this Friday, July 5th! Hopefully I will see some of you there!

My Sayulita Top 10 (June 2019)

For years, I’ve been hearing about how great Sayulita is to visit and luckily some friends invited us to stay at their place which is located right in the middle of all the action. You fly into Puerta Vallerta and drive about 25 miles north. Sayulita is a little beach town but it has an amazing night life and so much food. The beach is awesome and many go there to surf. I plan to go back and if you find yourself looking for a nice town to get away, I cannot recommend visiting Sayulita enough. Here are some of my favorite spots. This is not an all encompassing list but just the best spots that I got to experience:

Street Food - I could just tell you to eat only street food and end the post there. The street food is incredible and you really don’t need much else. There’s a spot where Av. Revolucion and Calle Jose Mariscal meet where they have a spot in front of a bodega that has street food all day long. Almost every morning, I had fried tacos with birria (barbacoa) inside two soft corn tortillas that are fried til crispy. You add onions, cilantro, salsas, and cabbage and you have the breakfast of champions! We were obsessed with those tacos. At that same spot but later in the evening and well into the night, you had Sonoran hot dogs and hamberguesas which were also delicious! We also found another bodega that sold the best refried beans on the counter and I don’t think I’ve had better beans before!

Beach Food - We had a daily habit of laying out on the beach all day nearly every day with tequila sodas and pacificos and most times we hung out in front of a restaurant/bar that had servers bringing us new drinks and bites. Even though we were situated on restaurant property, vendors would walk up to us all day every day asking if we wanted to buy novelties, jewelry, clothing, and food. It was never-ending but there were vendors selling some of the freshest oysters with lime juice and hot sauce, grilled shrimp or fish on a stick, and mangoes with lime juice and chile salt1 Those oysters were probably some of the best oysters I’ve ever had and the magoes were magical!

Tacos El Ivan - It’s all about the Tacos al Pastor here which is all about the shawarma spit-grilled which was introduced to Mexico by Lebanese Immigrants (immigration is a good thing!). It’s all about stacking up the spice marinated pork and pineapple on top of each other and let it grill on the vertical spit. When ready, they take a large knife and cut off thin pieces of meat and pineapple which is put on a corn tortilla and you are in business! We had these a few different times and I want them right now!

Maria’s Fish Tacos y Tostadas - Some of the best restaurants are just a little alley-way kitchen with a few picnic tables set out in front. They focus on just a few menu items and do them very well. This place makes some of the best fish and shrimp tacos you will ever have. With fish, they have the grilled or the baja style (battered) and I had both. The fish, as you might imagine, is extremely fresh and everything is made to order!

Don Pedro’s Restaurant and Bar - This spot is right on the beach and they focus on seafood while embracing both Mexican and Italian influences. I was taken there to drink Rose and have some grilled artichokes. We actually got artichokes a few times as they were ridiculously good! Somehow, they have mastered finishing the artichokes on the grill while incorporating sliced/roasted garlic and melted cheese in nearly every crease of artichoke. I am planning to make this sometime soon and hope it’s half as good as this dish!

Barracuda - Another Mexican seafood spot up from the beach on one of the most instagrammed roads in Sayulita. We sat on the patio and enjoyed really nice cocktails while having octopus and shrimp tacos and scallop sashimi! Everything is so fresh and when cooked, cooked perfectly! Plus sitting on the patio is a great spot for people watching!

Atico - One of my favorite bars in Sayulita, you have the option to sit at the bar on a swing or at a seat or sit at little cocktail tables close to the road. Every night of the week, they have music. It’s mostly cover bands and the occasional DJ, but it just brings a super fun, really eclectic crowd. The staff was having fun every night and the energy is infectious! I mostly just tried different mezcals but they have great cocktails, and an awesome tequila list! It’s a great place to meet people!

Casa Yaka - This is the property my friends own in Sayulita and it’s a perfect place to stay when you go to visit. Their property includes 3 units (a 3 bedroom / 5 bed space, a 2 bedroom / 2 bed space, and a 2 bedroom / 4 bed space). You can rent one space or rent them all if you wanted to bring a bigger crew. Each space has it’s own kitchen and they all share a common area with a nice pool and grill. It’s super close to the center of town and just blocks from the beach. It’s the perfect spot to bring a crew of friends or family! (link goes to Michael who manages the 3 properties at Casa Yaka!)

Surf It Out - Surf it Out provides surf lessons for kids and adults and their instructors are the best. My son and his friends took multiple lessons and were surfing almost immediately. The instructor worked really well with the kids and they had a great time. Surfing lessons were very affordable, too!

El Conejo - Sayulita has a great night life and lots of places with live music and dancing. We went here one night on a night that they had salsa dancing and a lively band providing the music for dancing. Also, coincidentally, this place was opened by the Boulder-based Tequila company, Suerte. They have an entire wall dedicated to their line of Tequilas and everyone was dancing and having a great time. Don Pedro’s also has salsa dancing on certain days!

There are so many spots that I still haven’t checked out, but I plan to get to know Sayulita more and more with each visit. While you are there, you have to try a Chocobanana (frozen chocolate banana), Italian food at La Rustica, and pastries at Boulangerie Patisserie! I could see myself spending a lot of town there and understand why so many of my friends love it there! If there’s a spot I missed, please mention it in the comments!

My Nashville Top Ten (May 2019)

Nashville has been on the top of my list for quite some time and I finally made it there this past weekend. It’s been my goal to get out of town at least once a month to catch up with old friends, meet new ones, eat, drink, and see music and hopefully come back with some new ideas energized and inspired! Nashville did not disappoint. Below is my top ten list.

Nelson’s Greenbrier Distillery - I have a friend who works here and she set us up with an incredible tour. The tour guide shared the crazy story of how the owners discovered that their family was one of the biggest whiskey makers before prohibition. Through some luck (the town’s historical society had the original recipe for their whiskey and two hundred year old bottles of whiskey). This inspired the brothers to bring back the distillery and for years they’ve continued to grow. They recently sold to Constellations brand (Corona/Pacifico/HIgh West Whiskey) so expect it on shelves near you soon! Yes, I brought home a bottle!

Prince’s Hot Chicken - The legend goes that Thorton Prince was a ladies’ man and after one particularly late night, his girlfriend was not pleased. Instead of yelling at Thorton, she decided to make him fried chicken with an out-of-control amount of spice. She was expecting him to weep and burn, but he loved the chicken and asked for seconds. After some experimentation with the recipe, Prince’s Hot Chicken was born and the rest, as they say, is history! They are the creators of hot chicken and most locals will tell you it’s the best. While I only hit a few hot chicken joints, it was my clear favorite.

Butcher and Bee - I feel very lucky to have had some friends take me here. We shared everything and everything was fantastic. Some of my favorites include whipped feta, avocado crispy rice, black lentils, and chicken fried cauliflower!

Third Man Records - Always wanting to check out record stores wherever I go, I had to go to Jack White’s Third Man Records and our timing could not have been better as they had a show with Sub Pop’s Orville Peck happening when I arrived. I also picked up a record at The Groove but I never made it out to Grimey’s. Next time!

The 5 Spot - If you find yourself in Nashville on a Monday night, make sure you go to this bar and enjoy Motown Monday. Have some drinks and move your feet. You will have a super fun time!

Mas Tacos - I really wasn’t expecting to love this place as much as I did. Honestly, tacos in Tennessee just didn’t seem to be something worth checking out. I was so wrong. I had a fried avocado, a tilapia taco, and elote. If they had a location in Denver, it would be end up being my go-to taco spot!

Country Music Hall of Fame - I had a friend tell on multiple occasions to make sure I don’t miss the Country Music Hall of Fame. I probably would have skipped it had I not been told to go there by this friend. I’m glad I did. This museum is a great place to learn about the history of Country Music from its origins to the commercial country I just can’t stand that. There were so many highlights, but my personal highlight is seeing the car featured in Smokey and the Bandit, one of my favorite movies as a kiddo.

Dino’s - East Nashville’s oldest bar, this bar has everything I love about a bar (cheap drinks, greasy food, awesome bartenders). A friend told me that I had to get a drink there and make sure I get the frito pie. This divey bar was a highlight and talking to the staff was a real treat. I did what I always do and checked out everyones’ food and next time I go there, I’m getting a burger!

Santa’s Pub - This double-wide trailer dive bar was recommended half a dozen times by friends from all over. This spot is as shitty as you would imagine a double-wide trailer bar might be. They only serve canned beers and yes, they are cheap. We might have made a mistake as we left as the house band (that may or may not feature Santa) was setting up. They do karaoke every night of the week and when I go next time, I will make a point to stick around for that and attempt to close down the bar (closes at 2:30am every night).

Duke’s - A good buddy told me to spend some time at this East Nashville watering hole. I went there after day-drinking for a good stretch and after spending a few hours at Rosepepper’s Cinco de Mayo party. I showed my cousin a ferrari (half fernet / half campari) which I love! The vibe and music and staff of this bar were all top notch.I would love to spend more time at this bar!

Honorable mentions - Pinewood Social (cool bar/diner/bowling alley), Rosemary & Beauty Queen (great cocktail bar in an old house), Crema (hipster coffee shop), Robert’s Western World (downtown honky tonk), and make sure you get yourself a Bushwhacker, a real boozy milkshake!

I did spend my first night on Broadway and it was a shit show of bachelorette parties and tourists which was super fun hanging with my cousins and my friend Whitney, but I’m glad I spent most of my time in East Nashville! I got so many recommends in Nashville and I barely scratched the surface. If you go, definitely spend some time with the spots I loved, but there are so many more spots that I look forward to checking out next time! Thanks Nashville!

I Love You Denver (April 2019)

I occasionally write for Birdy magazine this column called “I Love You Denver”. I’m not the greatest writer, but I’m working on getting better. Since Birdy exists mostly in print, I”d like to share with you my column for the April issue. Hope you enjoy!

There comes that time in a young person’s life when their favorite shop, restaurant, or business closes. For me, it was the Tae Kwon Do studio I was learning karate at, and. I was devastated. Since that experience, I’ve seen record stores, restaurants, arcades, and businesses of every size shutter their doors. I guess I’ve become desensitized to the experience although certain closures still hurt. When Tom’s Home Cookin’ in Five Points shut down closed December 2015, I was truly bummed. Shit, I’m still bummed. I miss that fried catfish, cheesy potatoes, jalapeno cornbread, and sweat tea!

Recently my son experienced his first store closure — Board Life, a skateboard shop on South South Broadway — and it’s lead to quite a few conversations. The shop, Board Life, is a skateboard shop on South South Broadway. The staff was great, they have everything a young skateboarder would want. They even had a Tech Deck skatepark which my son loved. By the time Birdy goes to print, the store will be closed. Since my son found out the news on Instagram, we’ve talked about the importance of supporting the businesses you love. While it’s convenient to shop online through mega-retailers like Amazon, we should consider spending a little more (and more often than not spending the same) at your local retail stores so that these businesses continue to prosper, and in turn, so do our communities. 303 Boards on Colfax will definitely be getting our support moving forward.

I’ve recently committed to buying at least one new record every week at my favorite local mom-and-pop record stores, which means Twist & Shout and Wax Trax in Denver. When I travel, I’m making a point to support record stores in those cities. I hate the thought of Twist & Shout or Wax Trax ever closing up shop especially if I hadn’t bought a record in years. I’ve also decided I’m done with Starbucks and will instead only support independent coffee shops.

With all the new restaurants and bars opening up every week, I want to stress the importance of supporting those old school spots that paved the way for everyone else. Did you know that in the late 90s, P.F. Changs was “Top of the Town” in 5280 Magazine? Because of folks like Josh Wolkon who opened Vesta (dipping grill) and Steuben’s 20 years ago, Denver has a rich landscape of independent restaurants and bars. Josh recently spoke at a food event at the Colorado Governor’s Mansion saying that for every new restaurant you dine at, you should consider supporting an old school spot. I might suggest that even if you hit one classic restaurant for every two or three dining experiences, you are directly helping to support Denver’s local dining scene. So for every trip to Uchi, Death & Co, or Hop Alley, throw in a visit to Steuben’s, Jax Fish House, or Columbine Steak House. Here are some recommends for April:

Vesta (1822 Blake Street) — It had been 15 or 16 years since I ate at Vesta when I was invited to go back as I was figuring out if I should put them in the 2-for-1 craft beverage Summer Denver Passport. Not only was the food and cocktails top-notch, the service was fantastic. The Char Siu Pork Belly and Madras Grilled Venison were highlights, but everything was delicious!

Uchi Denver (2500 Lawrence Street) —- Texas has been loving Uchi’s non-traditional take on Japanese cuisine since 2003. Their Denver location is the first outside of the Lone Star State. Go there for happy hour (5- 6:30 p.m.) and enjoy lower priced food and drink before going for the regular menu. These guys are doing things right!

If you have a suggestion, email me or leave a comment. Thanks for reading. I Love You Denver!

Welcome to Kream Konsulting!

I’m excited to announce that I started my own business, Kream Konsulting. Kream’s aim is to help small businesses grow through community development. We are currently working with 3 amazing clients, Biju’s Little Curry Shop, Ohana Island Kitchen, and Marble Distillery. If you run a small business looking for ways to grow, please reach out. I’m excited to talk to you.

Check back soon as I will be updating the blog often!

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