Author Archives: jakefowler

Low

We’ve been trying to see one of our favorite bands, Low, who were touring for their latest album, “Hey What,” until very recently. Maura bought me tickets to see them in Davenport, Iowa, for my birthday. We drove up, excited to finally hear some tracks off their latest album live, and the show was canceled due to COVID-19. We had a fun time in Davenport anyway, but it was a huge bummer. The show was rescheduled, and we planned to return to Davenport; we even booked the hotel, and we both came down with COVID. We found out they were finally going to come to Kansas City, opening for Death Cab for Cutie (weird match-up, in my opinion, but whatever). We bought tickets, but that show was postponed, and Low was no longer going to open. It seemed like we just weren’t meant to see them again! We did see them once several years ago at the old Record Bar when it was in Westport (we could walk home from there!) But the latest album was simply stunning; I still get chills and tear up when I listen to it. And I can’t help but turn it up a little too loud.

Alan Sparhawk’s and Mimi Parker’s harmonies over the cacophonous instrumentation and drums were, well, kind of beyond words. I really can’t do the albums justice here. It may not be for everyone, but I LOVED where they were going. Don’t get me wrong, they were (were! 😔) prolific; they didn’t create an album I didn’t like. You definitely have to be in the right mood for some of their early stuff, it can be very slow-paced, but it’s just as beautiful. The latest albums were getting a little more gritty and experimental, which contrasted wonderfully with their voices. Go ahead, listen and listen loud. I bet you will be moved. 

Sadly, we will never have the chance to see them perform live again; Mimi Parker died today after having fought ovarian cancer for the last couple of years. Alan posted the news and was instantly heartbroken. Partly because we’ve been trying so hard to see them over the last year or so, but primarily for her and Alan. I can’t even imagine what they went through and what he’s going through now. They worked so well together. Their music is beautiful, incomparable; there will be nothing like it in the world again. I love listening to their records via streaming, but live music was the true experience. That’s true for most musicians, but it was especially true for them. Farewell, Mimi Parker, and deepest condolences to you, Alan Sparhawk. Know that your fans are there for you.

Davenport, Iowa

So we drove to Davenport yesterday to see Low. It took about six hours with stops, not bad, but enough to mess with our backs. I like roadtrips with Maura, we talked and listened to some new tunes on the way up – the new Jack White is pretty good! Once we got to town, we settled into our hotel, then walked around to check out the downtown area. The venue – the Racoon Motel, was right down the street from where we were staying. Next door to it, we found a record shop, Ragged Records, where we found a nice little haul.

We grabbed some dinner at the Front Street Brewery, and I checked the Racoon Motel’s Facebook page while we were waiting on our food. The show had been canceled due to a couple of positive COVID tests. We were seriouly bummed. I’ve been imagining hearing Low’s latest music live for months and we were just hours away from doing so. The show was rescheduled for another Friday in July, which we will make work. We figured we were here so we might as well make a night of it, so we asked our waitress about other spots to check out nearby. She did not dissapoint; there are some pretty great bars in downtown Davenport. First, we figured we should check out the venue since we had come all this way, so we grabbed a beer there, commiserated with the staff, and checked out the stage – it’s a small area; it’s going to be very loud (in July)! After that, we went to a bar with a perfect name: Devon’s Complaint Dept.

They mixed some great drinks, and the bar had a cool retro vibe. We’ve been trying to get out more lately, but I can’t remember the last time we went bar hopping! It’s kind of a shame that we had to drive all the way to Davenport, but the drinks were tasty and way cheaper!

Meanwhile, back at the hotel, we discovered that it was hosting a youth dance competition. There were many families with young girls in way too much makeup and glittery outfits. I’m sure they were having the time of their lives, but we didn’t particularly enjoy the noise levels. The hotel has a central atrium around the rooms; they were very loud and echoey. They were running around until pretty late, which was so much fun for us after a night on the town! We ended up playing Low’s latest album in our hotel room mostly to drown out the noise.

The next morning, I woke up early, as I always do, and walked along the Mississippi. It was a nice walk, though it made me wish that KC had more down by our river front. I never knew that Pelicans like to visit the river this time of year, but I saw several of them!

Pelicans on the Mississippi

While it was a huge bummer to have the show rescheduled, it was good to get out of town for a bit. I guess we’ll see you again in July, Davenport, Iowa!

Happy Birthday to Me!

Anyone that knows me well, knows of my love for both music and humor. No one combines these better than “Weird” Al Yankovic. In my mind, it’s not my birthday until I hear his “Birthday Song”. Sadly, the lyrics ring truer every year. If you haven’t heard it, or it’s been a while, give it a listen:

The contrast between what should be a happy, carefree day and the realities of the world and the absurdity makes me strangely joyful. 

American Greetings (sorry Hallmark friends) has an app out called SmashUp that allows you to send custom messages from celebrities to celebrate your friends and family. “Weird” Al just announced that he had several SmashUps available and I just had to check it out. The resulting video makes me incomprehensibly happy:

I’m not going to get too sappy and deep about being middle-aged. I really just wanted to share something that made me happy today. Maura and I are going to get out and about today to celebrate our birthdays. Our wonderful but somewhat anxious dog is in daycare and she’ll be there overnight so that we don’t have to worry about her and what she might be doing to the window blinds. I hope all is well with everyone reading this. It’s nice that Spring is finally at least trying to make an appearance and that, at least for now, the infection rates are staying low – which brings right back to the song at beginning of my post. We’re living in some strange times, but there are still ways to find happiness. 

Speaking of ways to find happiness, my wonderful wife surprised me today with tickets to see one of our favorite bands, Low in Davenport, Iowa. Their latest album, “Hey What” is an emotional powerhouse, seriously, chills and sometimes tears, every time I listen. I’ve been trying to imagine hearing them play it live but now I won’t have to! I can’t wait!! 

It’s loud, sometimes grating but the contrast between their beautiful voices and the loud distortion-filled music is amazing. Again, if you haven’t heard it, sit with it a while: 

Thanks in advance for all the birthday wishes on social media, texts, and calls! Hopefully, as we slowly rejoin society and get out more, we’ll see you all soon! 

Vaccinated!

I am in line to get my second dose of the Moderna vaccine. The process has been pretty smooth both times. I was done in less than an hour last time and the line is moving pretty well this time.

It feels good to get this done. Hopefully we can put all of this behind us soon and get back to something resembling what we were used to.

The Big Five Oh

So today is the last day that I’ll spend in my Forties. Tomorrow I’ll officially be old. I remember think I g that Thirty was old when I was a kid, but that target kept on moving the older I got. Fifty seems like the age that it stops moving.

I don’t feel old most of the time, though I did hurt my back pretty bad last week by simply sitting down. I’m not having a mid-life crisis. I feel pretty good about what I’ve accomplished so far, even though I got a bit of a late start with some poor choices early on in my adult life. I still have some big goals to achieve as well.

I’ve been thinking lately about how to give something back. I’ve been getting more involved with opportunities outside of work, helping others with things that I’ve learned in higher ed IT. It’s unique, especially at an art school. It feels pretty good to be able to give back this way and I hope to do more.

Anyway, here’s to many more years of learning, growing, and becoming more myself.