Long form: Otter Listen to This!

Listen below to my exclusive and only-ever edition of Otter Listen to This!, a discussion about music, weed, and even hemp beer!

Songs used include “Althea” and “Me and My Uncle” by Dead & Company from their shows at Wrigley Field this past summer (2017). Recordings were obtained by one of my uncles…gotta love the Taper’s Section! Grateful for tapers and that the Dead let them do their thing.


Summer is almost here

It is finally almost summer, and I am getting excited for what this season has to offer in terms of live music. I will be kicking things off on May 12 at the Mishawaka to see Head for the Hills. I saw them last May for their annual “Pickin’ on the Poudre,” and I can’t wait to go again. The weekend after that, Billy Strings will be at the Mishawaka, which is a sold out show, but one I would really like to see if I’m in town and get get my hands on a ticket or two. Following that is Dead & Company at Alpine Valley in East Troy, Wisconsin. The weekend after that, I’ll be seeing the Avett Brothers at Red Rocks with my aunt. July will bring Dark Star Orchestra and Keller Williams to Red Rocks on the 8th, which is 40 years after the Grateful Dead played at Red Rocks. Dark Star Orchestra is known for playing entire sets from Dead shows, so I’m looking forward to see the Grateful Dead’s Red Rocks performance portrayed by DSO. Not to mention that I always love getting to see Keller play! After that, Dead & Company will be at Folsom Field in Boulder for their final two nights of tour, which I will be in attendance for both. After that, I will be heading back to Chicago and most likely attending Lollapalooza. Later in August, I hope to catch the Dave Matthews Band at Fiddler’s Green. I’ve always been a big DMB fan but have never had the chance to see them live, so that would be awesome for me! There are some other shows throughout the summer, such as Leo Kottke and James McMurty at the Mishawaka on June 15, Dispatch at Red Rocks on June 17, Trampled by Turtles at Red Rocks on July 19, The String Cheese Incident at Red Rocks on July 20-23, and Tedeschi Trucks Band at Red Rocks on July 29. So we’ll see where I end up, I’m looking forward to a music-filled summer!

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Pickin’ on the Poudre at The Mishawaka, May 2017

Listen to the Grateful Dead’s concert at Red Rocks on Spotify Below


Tomorrow is 4/20…

It’s no secret that music and cannabis have gone hand-in-hand for many years. “Jazz cabbage” is said to have been the inspiration for much of the music that we enjoy today. Some argue that smoking weed makes for a better listening experience, or vice versa. Personally, I like to take each for what they are, and while they can be a good combination, I think you can listen to music or go to a concert without having to toke up. I think that sometimes it can definitely help you appreciate a song or an album or a live performance by opening your mind and making you think & feel differently, but it’s not necessary in order to enjoy music. With that being said, most concerts you go to will have at least one or two whiffs of smoke wafting through the air, as it’s undoubtedly a part of almost every concert.
“It seems like people love listening to music when they smoke cannabis. Cannabis users will often include increased appreciation of art in general and music specifically. There’s just this deep relationship.”  -Dr. Zach Walsh, professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC. (When interviewed by Gigen Mammoser of Vice’s “thump”)

Musicians such as Willie Nelson, Snoop Dogg, Jerry Garcia, Afroman, Rihanna, Wiz Khalifa, and Louis Armstrong (I could go on), have become known for their use of the plant and have been open about it, and about the influence it has on their music. They have helped the long process of de-stigmatizing cannabis and have brought to light many of it’s benefits, including ones that go beyond enhanced creativity. Take Willie Nelson, for example: he has been a long-time cannabis advocate, is a co-chair of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), owns a company that supports the fight for legal industrialized hemp called Hemp 4 Victory, and has his own cannabis brand called Willie’s Reserve, which sells products in dispensaries in Colorado, Nevada, California, Oregon, and the state of Washington.

In honor of the 4/20, here are some songs that are classic must-listens if you are partaking in the holiday:

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Willie Nelson lighting up in the recording studio (picture from The Smoking Bud)
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Jerry Garcia toking on a joint in San Francisco in the ’60s (photo from Fader)
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Bob Marley blowing clouds on stage (photo from The Smokers Club)
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David Crosby makes a statement (photo from Spinditty)
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Rihanna toking on a blunt (photo from Complex)
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Snoop Dogg on stage doing what he does best: rapping and smoking a blunt (photo from Respect My Region)

New album by Flatbush Zombies

On April 7, Flatbush Zombies, the eight-year-old rap group from the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn, released their latest album entitled Vacation in Hell. The 19 song album includes features from Joey Bada$$, A$AP Twelvyy, Bun B, Judakiss, Portugal. The Man, Dia, Dave B., Nyck Caution, and Denzel Curry. This is the group’s second full-length album, their first being 3001: A Laced Odyssey, which was released during the spring of 2016, and was an album I personally couldn’t stop listening to. 3001: A Laced Odyssey only had two featured artists, Anthony Flammia and Diamante, as opposed to Vacation in Hell, which had many more.

The group is composed of three members: Meechy Darko, Zombie Juice, and Erick Arc Elliott. They’re style has been described as psychedelic hip hop, and they rap a lot about life struggles, societal issues, working to make money, and drugs. Each of the three members has a unique and distinct voice, which work together to make their music interesting, engaging, and overall just uncommon.

The group is currently on tour, playing Coachella this weekend, and traveling all over the country (including two nights in Denver May 3rd & 4th), and will be wrapping up in San Francisco on June 16th.

Listen to A Vacation in Hell on Spotify below:

Via Chicago

Jeff Tweedy – guitarist, signer, and founder of Wilco – kicked off his lengthy North American tour last week in Michigan. His tour will cover a lot of the US and Canada, stopping at some festivals along the way. At the end of August, Tweedy will travel to Europe for four shows and wrap up his tour in Oslo, Norway.

Tweedy’s most recent album is Together At Last, which was released last year. I personally am a big fan of the album and love the version of “I am Trying to Break Your Heart” that is featured on it.

Being from Chicago, and a fan of good music, I am a big fan of Jeff Tweedy, and Wilco. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is one of the first albums I downloaded on my iPod nano when I was 9. Unfortunately I have yet to catch Wilco or Jeff live, so maybe I’ll have an opportunity this summer.

Listen to Together At Last on Spotify below

Trampled by Turtles release new single

On March 23rd, Trampled by Turtles released a new singled titled “The Middle.” It has been four years since they came out with a new album, that being Wild Animals released in 2014. According to Rolling Stone, this is the bands 2nd sample from their new upcoming album entitled Life is Good on the Open Road. It is due to be release next month on May 4th.

The song is upbeat and fast-paced with a sort of poppy sound, and has the typical instrumentation and sound of the Trampled by Turtles that we know and love. Dave Simonett, lead vocals, sings about past decisions and how things don’t always go the way we want it to, as well as the distance that has grown between the subject of the song and someone, maybe a former girlfriend or something of that nature.

With the release of “The Middle,” I am very excited for Life is Good on the Open Road and happy to hear some new tunes from TBT. It seems as though they have a busy summer ahead, with a tour already announced including a July 19th show at Red Rocks. They also are billed to play a few festivals, including the Forecastle Festival on July 15 in Louisville, KY, Moon River Music Festival on September 8 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Fresh Gras Festival on September 14 in North Adams, Massachusetts.

Listen to “The Middle,” on Spotify below

Lollapalooza releases 2018 lineup

The lineup for Lollapalooza was released yesterday. The festival returns to Grant Park in Chicago for it’s 27th summer in the city. As someone who grew up in the Chicagoland area, Lollapalooza has been a big part of my summer since I was 15. A lot of people think that we’re now “too old” to attend the music festival, because what a lot of people did when we were teenagers was binge drink warm vodka that was snuck in, and spend the entirety of the three day event at the Perry’s stage – which is pretty much just different EDM artists playing every hour. My friends and I, however, actually went for the music that was playing throughout the festival and it’s six stages, and continue to do so.

The festival went from three days to four days two years ago for it’s 25th anniversary, and when they realized how much more money they can make from one more day, they have continued to keep the festival four days. Thursday, August 2 – Sunday, August 5, 2018 in Grant Park.

This will be my 7th year going to Lolla – a Lollapaloozer, if you will.

Who I’m excited for

This year’s lineup is fairly diverse, as was last year’s. When adding a 4th day to the festival, it could be difficult to keep a good consistency throughout the festival, but I think Lolla does a better job than many give it credit for.

I’m excited for: Jack White, Arctic Monkeys, The National, Odesza, Portugal. The Man, Zedd, Brockhampton, Catfish and the Bottleman, Greta Van Fleet, Rebelution, Franz Ferdinand, Rainbow Kitten Surprise, Manchester Orchestra, Hippie Sabotage, Lizzo, Parquet Courts, and Taylor Bennett (little brother of Chance the Rapper).
I’m also excited for any artists/bands I will discover just walking around the festival grounds.

Lollapalooza is a staple of summer in Chicago, and I’m looking forward to traveling home for my 7th year as a Lollapaloozer.

Update 3/27: Something interesting to note is that in previous years, tickets have sold out within hours. Today, one week after the 4 day tickets have gone on sale, they are still not sold out. Is this because people just aren’t as interested in Lollapalooza anymore? Did they add more tickets? Or maybe they have used measures to prevent scalpers from buying a lot at once to sell later for a high profit. One can only speculate!

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Lollapalooza 2018 lineup