Slow-building hits have become increasingly rare in mainstream music, but AWOLNATION has had the sort of chart run that used to happen with some regularity. The group released its full-length debut album almost exactly two years ago, and it has thus far peaked at a modest No. 87 on the Billboard 200. But all this time later, it's still on the chart not too many notches below that high point; furthermore, one of the album's songs ("Sail") has sold a couple of million copies, and might well move a few million more before its chart run ends. The group is still touring and coming to Raleigh next week, so check here for a preview.
AUSTIN, Texas -- Last year, after Bruce Springsteen gave a South By Southwest keynote speech for the ages, I remember pitying whoever had the unenviable task of following that. But it turned out I needn't have worried. For 2013, the SXSW braintrust put the keynote into the capable hands of Dave Grohl.
The Nirvana drummer and Foo Fighters main man is a decent songwriter, an incredible drummer and by most accounts a thoroughly decent chap. And like Springsteen, he's also a music fan who has never forgotten what it's like to be outside looking in -- and to want something so bad it drives you almost insane. Grohl got the brass ring with Nirvana, and it is to his immense credit that he understands and appreciates just what a charmed career he has had.
After some preliminary music by Black Violin (a pretty amazing young group combining jumped-up rock and flowing beats with violin and cello -- wow), Grohl ambled out to greet the crowd, donning reading glasses as he fretted that he hoped he "still looked like a rock star." That set the tone for an entertaining and self-effacing spiel in which Grohl traced his career from his early Road-to-Damascus experience via the 1973 Edgar Winter instrumental hit "Frankenstein" -- which Grohl performed a capella, Bobby McFerrin-style, quite capably. He also told some tales about his old punk-rock days, evoking the joy of the do-it-yourself life: "There was no right and there was no wrong because it was all mine."
That was an inspiring thought to carry outside into the beautiful Austin sunshine. Thursday was the kind of bucolic spring day that suckers people into moving here, which they regret once the scorching heat of August kicks in. But Thursday was perfect weather for finding a good spot to sit outdoors and listen to music.
Emphasis there on "sit," as in don't move around unless you have to. South By Southwest has become almost unmanageably huge nowadays, drawing throngs of people numbering in the tens of thousands, many of them credential-less kids on spring break. It's just about impossible to scurry around and see everything you'd want to -- or anything at all, sometimes. Pretty much the entire city was gridlocked Wednesday night, and I had a frustrating evening in which I spent a lot more time standing in lines that weren't moving than actually seeing bands.
Thursday had to be better, and it was. Following Grohl's keynote, I staked out a comfortable outdoor spot at the Threadgill's beer garden and took in some old favorites including John Hiatt, a cat who has truly turned into the cool old blues troubadour he always wanted to be; Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale, two fine journeyman enjoying late-career surges (among Miller's recent production credits is the Grammy-nominated "Leaving Eden" by Triangle stringband Carolina Chocolate Drops); and Richard Thompson, who never ceases to astonish. Thompson played magical guitar that somehow evoked everything from bagpipes on a misty morn' to divebombing Stukas.
Later on indoors, I caught another old favorite, Austin's own True Believers. SXSW has gotten so huge that every available space gets turned into a music venue, including some that shouldn't. The Believers played in a bike shop owned by Lance Armstrong, an odd and acoustically atrocious venue made even odder by all the pictures of the disgraced bike-racing icon on the walls. Nevertheless, the Believers just flat blew the roof off the joint with a blast of '80s glam-punk that has aged supremely well. It was the first time I'd seen them since...1994. I am delighted to report that they've not lost a step.
Another post-sundown highlight was Hiss Golden Messenger, working handle of Chapel Hill's M.C. Taylor, who played solo acoustic in a downtown Austin church and joked that he just doesn't play anything more uptempo than an amble. But his lyrical sentiments are just lacerating ("Heaven is the cruelest of 'em all" being just one"), sung in a plainspoken and quiet voice over exquisite acoustic guitar. It's difficult to describe what it is that makes him so affecting. He just is. There's a new album coming and it's great. More later.
This weekend will bring lots more March madness, including some possible opportunities to see a few big-name party-crashers who were announced at the last minute: Prince, Green Day and Justin Timberlake. The marketing goes on. But there's more magic in SXSW's smaller moments, like Hiss Golden Messenger playing for a few dozen attentive folks in a church.
South By Southwest is this week, wih all the madness that entails down in Austin, Texas. And while I still have mountains of stuff I need to get done before departure, I've still been sneaking looks at the band list -- and giggling or grimacing at what some of this year's acts call themselves; one in particular, which is below along with other notable band names from the class of 2013. Maybe I'll catch some of these down there.
Meantime, I'll be filing dispatches in this space later in the week, so please do drop back on by.
Compuphonic (Liege, Belgium)
Jung People (Calgary, Canada)
Mozart's Sister (Montreal)
Queen Kwong (Los Angeles)
Lost and Nameless Orchestra (Austin)
Guantanamo Baywatch (Portland)
JFK Didn't Even See It Coming (Columbus, Ohio)
Let's Buy Happiness (Newcastle, U.K.)
Bipolar Gentlemen (Austin)
Transcription of Organ Music (Franklin, Australia)
Diarrhea Planet (Nashville) -- Ewwwww...
Mord Fustang (Tallin, Estonia)
Hurray For The Riff Raff (New Orleans)
I Can Chase Dragons! (Mexico City)
The Harpoonist And The Axe Murderer (Vancouver)
Icky Blossoms (Omaha)
Carsick Cars (Beijing, China)
Drop The Lime (New York)
Texas Hippie Coalition (Norman, Okla.)
Manic Sheep (Taipei, Taiwan)
Roadkill Ghost Choir (DeLand, Fla.)
Walk Off The Earth (Burlington, Canada)
Linus Pauling Quartet (Houston)
Giraffage (San Francisco)
Thousand Foot Whale Claw (Austin)
Cilantro Boombox (Austin)
Guns of Navarone (Austin)
The Holdrug Couple (Santiago, Chile)
Mobbin No Sobbin' (San Antonio, Texas)
Hills Like Elephants (San Diego)
Very Angry Scientist (Los Angeles)
The Casket Girls (Savannah, Ga.)
As I occasionally do when I'm about to interview somebody (in)famous, I put out the word on my Facebook page soliciting questions shortly before getting on the phone with the satirical-rock duo Tenacious D. As usual, I got a few suggestions I actually used (including, "How rare is friendship," a reference to one of their songs) and a lot more gags ("What exactly are you Tenacious about?" "Ever hear from Tenacious E and F?") -- and also a surprising amount of vitriol. Let's just say that Jack Black has some high negatives out there.
But I can only submit that my 13-year-old son was more impressed at me interviewing Black than anyone else I've spoken to lately; and as another Facebook friend reminded me, Black was also kind enough to donate a guitar to North Carolina tornado relief in 2011.
So haters gonna hate, but the interview turned out to be some pretty good, stupid fun. See that here, along with details about their Friday night show in Raleigh.
Word came down Monday about the demise of Pepper's Pizza, which abruptly shut down at the close of business that night. Pepper's was one of the most venerable food institutions of Chapel Hill's Franklin Street strip, and I'll miss the food and the vibe there; it was just the sort of place that made you know you were in a college town.
But even more than that, I'll miss the wall decor -- specificially, the North Carolina Musicians Mural painted by Birds of Avalon drummer Scott Nurkin, including portraits of George Clinton, Doc Watson, Ben Folds and other key musical figures. With Pepper's closed, the collection's fate is up in the air. But Nurkin says that he's heard from the music department at UNC-Chapel Hill about possibly acquiring the portraits for on-campus display in Hill Hall.
If you've been reading the News & Observer for a while, you might recognize the name of Jason Graves, a local composer who specializes in computer-game soundtracks. We included him in our 2009 edition of "8 Great Local Acts," and even set the preview trailer to some of his music.
As for more recent work, Graves also did the soundtrack for one of this season's top computer-game releases, the "Lara Croft" reboot "Tomb Raider," which comes out on Tuesday. he also got an assist in making it from local artist Matt McConnell, who designed a custom-built instrument just for the project.
As mountainous songs go, "The Star Spangled Banner" is kind of the K2 of public singing -- a challenge that daunts even the best professional singers, and with good reason because it's awfully difficult to pull off. But if you think you have what it takes, the Durham Bulls are looking for a few good anthem singers to inaugurate home games for the upcoming 2013 baseball season, which opens April 8 at Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Auditions happen March 16 at the Streets at Southpoint; check here for details.
At least a couple of times a year, I'll hear from people who will insist, "If I could only get [insert name of well-known artist] to hear my song, I just know they'd want to record it!" The cynical realist in me always wants to pat these people on the head and say, "Sure" before sending them on their way, because it almost never works like that.
And yet...every now and then, it really does work out exactly like that. Elizabeth South, a fine local singer who is largely unknown outside of the Triangle, actually got Country Music Hall of Famer Vince Gill on her new single and video, and it's a pretty remarkable story. See the video here, and read about it here.
Time, once again, for the annual Academy Awards telecast. It gets going at 7 p.m. Eastern time on ABC, and I'll be signing on around then to snark along. Please do drop in and join me, won't you?
7:00 p.m. -- And here we go; did Kristin Chenoweth really just say, "The red carpet is 5,000 feet long; that's about 2,000 of me"? Meantime, check our Red Carpet photo gallery.
7:04 -- Looks like Jessica Chastain has been done up to look like Jessica Rabbit.
7:07 -- Kelly Rowland "interviewing" Channing Tatum. Why do they insist on doing interviews? Do they not understand that people just want to gawk at the togs?
7:09 -- The latest Allstate "mayhem" ad, which goes all the way back to forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, is better than any of the Super Bowl commercials.
7:10 -- "I can't sit down and I feel like my organs are being pushed out of my body." So says Amanda Seyfried. Ah, the things we do for fashion. But the honesty is bracing.
7:12 -- Quvenzhane Wallis, the 9-year-old nominee, is fun. I like her. Then again, she's not been interviewed so much that she's out of things to say.
7:15 -- The quote from the costume designer about how costumes "let (actresses) breathe" is pretty funny, given what Seyfried was saying five minutes ago.
7:16 -- Jennifer Lawrence looks pretty stunning, and she towers over poor little Chenoweth; who just told Lawrence that she's "an old soul." Good God...
7:17 -- Zoe Saldana actually seems like she might be worth a longer interview, so of course she gets cut off after less than a minute.
7:20 -- Catherine Zeta Jones looks like she was just peeled off the prow of a ship. Impressive, nevertheless. Chenoweth says, "I am in awe of you." Bless her heart.
7:22 -- Daniel Radcliffe walks the red carpet. Being English, he is unfailingly polite. Naturally.
7:23 -- Liev Schreiber, a.k.a. Mr. Naomi Watts, could not look more uncomfortable looking on while Watts does her red-carpet interview.
7:25 -- "The Oscar Road Trip" probably seemed like a good idea when they tossed it around at the pitch meeting. Not so much now.
7:29 -- Commercial: "My name is [insert name of arena-country star here] and I am QDR."
7:31 -- Reese Witherspoon at least admits that the whole dress-up process is fun and kinda silly. And Joseph Gordon-Levitt is rockin' some very cool socks; a fitting introduction to "The Year In Movies" as presented by Google, which allows you to catch up on a year's worth of flicks in about two minutes.
7:37 -- Kristin Chenoweth tells Bradley Cooper she once kissed him on the mouth. Whose idea was it to have her do this?
7:40 -- And here's Nicole Kidman; I'm always kind of fascinated to hear her and Watts speak out of character, in their regular Australian accents.
7:41 -- Cherlize Theron, that is one short haircut. Rockin' quite a white dress, however.
7:43 -- Sounds like one of the winning students (from the "Oscar Experience College Search," which selects kids to be Oscar runners) just said, "This is just too cereal."
7:50 -- Hugh Jackman is one charming, affable man, and a very good sport. Asked to compare their relative weights, he picks Chenoweth up and tells her that an Oscar weighs more than she does. Aww...
7:52 -- Chris Evans from "The Avengers" seems like a very regular guy.
7:53 -- Not so Robert DeNiro, who is one high-strung fellow. I keep expecting him to bust out a "Taxi Driver" routine. You talkin' to me?...
7:54 -- Daniel Radcliffe again? Okay; seems like a lot of camera time for a non-nominee...
7:58 -- Checking Twitter during the commercial, came across a pretty hilarious quote: "Fun fact: if you took all the Oscar dresses and laid them end to end, you'd have a lot of naked ladies yelling at you."
8:00 -- half-hour until the show starts; and Jennifer Anniston's bright-red dress looks like it should only be viewed through sunglasses. Ketchup-flavored, even.
8:02 -- ...Aaaaand Jennifer Garner's dress looks grape-flavored. Chenoweth, meanwhile, appears to be on the verge of launching into orbit.
8:03 -- Halle Barry is bucking for a slot on "Star Trek," looks like. She wears it well, nevertheless.
8:04 -- Adele left the couch-upholstery dress from the Grammys at home, thank God. This black number is much better; even if she says it weighs "50 kilos."
8:05 -- Not many people can make George Clooney look ordinary. Stacy Keibler is one of the few, in an amazing-looking dress that could pass for chain mail.
8:07 -- Ah, good old Sandra Bullock, East Carolina's own. Too bad technical glitches are rendering her inaudible. Oh well...
8:12 -- Anne Hathaway's dress is...let's say "pointy." Very, very pointy. And geez, the "Oscar Mystery" box thing is just completely stupid. Hathaway guesses that they're Dorothy's slippers from "The Wizard of Oz," which is correct. I, um, don't believe she came up with that on her own.
8:15 -- Jamie Foxx's daughter might be the most beautiful female to appear on camera so far tonight.
8:16 -- Hard to believe Daniel Day-Lewis is the same person who played Abraham Lincoln; he just disappears into his characters, but here he seems so...normal.
8:18 -- The public vote is that Jennifer Lawrence looked the best. For some reason, however, she's the only one of the top-five vote-getters not to be shown in the recap.
8:20 -- Another funny Tweet, in response to Anne Hathaway's dress: http://cardsagainsthumanity.com/
8:23 -- Weird to see a couple dozen Oscars being polished backstage. It's a veritable warehouse full of Academy Awards.
8:24 -- Even weirder to see Chenoweth talking college-football rivalries with Renee Zellweger. Texas versus OU, Chenoweth pulls for the Sooners. I'm liking her even less all the time.
8:25 -- We get it, Kristin, you're short. Really short. About half as tall as Queen Latifah, who is still the coolest person on earth.
8:30 -- And here we go. Seth MacFarlane makes Tommy Lee Jones laugh right off the bat, so one mission accomplished.
8:31 -- So far, opening monologue not bad; good joke about accountants working overtime to make sure nothing recouped.
8:33 -- Daniel Day Lewis actually looks genuinely happy to be there. Then again, why wouldn't he be?
8:34 -- "Django Unchained" as Chris Brown and Rihanna's "idea of a date movie." This monologue is getting better!
8:35 -- William Shatner appears, by video screen, to try and save MacFarlane from himself.
8:38 -- A song called "We Saw Your Boobs." Um...
8:39 -- With the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles?! Genius!!
8:39 -- Channing Tatum and Cherlize Theron join MacFarlane to dance as he sings "The Way You Look Tonight." They're good! Tatum's spats are pretty cool, too.
8:41 -- Re-enacting "Flight" with sock puppets is even awesomer!
8:42 -- Daniel Radcliffe and Joseph Gordon-Levitt out for a three-voice version of "High Hopes." Hmm...
8:44 -- But this bit with Sally Field ain't so great, and it's gone on way too long.
8:45 -- Redeemed at the end, however, when they suck face and go roaring off in a Trans-Am. Has "Smokey and the Bandit" ever been immortalized in an Oscar sketch?
8:46 -- The "Beauty and the Beast" song "Be Our Guest," rewritten for the occasion; not bad, but nowhere near as good as "Flight" or "We Saw Your Boobs."
8:47 -- Octavia Spencer, who won best supporting actress last year, out to present best supporting actor. Alan Arkin, Robert DeNiro, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Tommy Lee Jones, Christoph Waltz -- this is quite a field...
8:50 -- And it goes to...Christoph Waltz, in an upset. I don't remember any of the pundits mentioning him at all as a possiblity.
8:51 -- Waltz is clearly overcome with emotion; giving a nice (if over-long) speech. But I like it.
8:54 -- And here comes the snark. From Twitter: "Christoph Waltz is the first actor in Oscar history to win two awards for the same performance." Yes, he won for playing a similarly weird Germanic dude in "Inglorious Bastards."
8:55 -- Paul Rudd and Melissa McCarthy, both from "This Is 40," come out to present...something to do with sound. I guess...?
8:57 -- Okay, finally, it's best animated short film. Which goes to..."Paper Man."
8:59 -- And on to best full-length animated film. Which goes to..."Brave," not a big surprise. Mark Andrews is wearing a kilt. Nice; too bad they didn't show him out on the red carpet.
9:00 -- Reese Witherspoon out to introduce the first cluster of best-picture nominees, "Les Mis," "Life of Pi" and "Beasts of the Southern Wild." Followed by the obligatory clips from each. I don't much like that they do so many best-picture nominees now (nine this year). But I do like the score from "Life of Pi," and the star of "Beasts" is just danged adorable.
9:05 -- MacFarlane tosses Clooney a bottle of booze after making a bad joke about him; Clooney smiles and twists it open. Cheers!
9:06 -- The cast of "Avengers" out to present cinematography (and crack on each other). And it goes to..."Life of Pi." Which was apparently shot by Yanni's older brother.
9:07 -- Didn't this dude play in Dokken back in the '80s? Or was that White Lion?...
9:08 -- He looks like an aging hair-metal dude, but his befuddlement is nevertheless charming.
9:09 -- I can't tell if the "Avengers" guys are actually screwing up and getting pissed off at each other. But here we go with visual effects; which goes to...
9:10 -- "Life of Pi" again. Hmm, any chance this is an indicator for later?
9:11 -- Using "Jaws" as play-off music when someone goes on too long is a pretty hilarious touch, I must admit.
9:15 -- Channing Tatum and Jennifer Anniston out to present costume design; they all look pretty amazing. And it goes to..."Anna Karenina."
9:18 -- Cool to see the occasional normal-looking person onstage getting an Oscar, you know? As long as they don't go on too long, of course. And now on to makeup and hairstyling; which goes to..."Les Miserables."
9:20 -- Is she really wearing pink tights? And her, um, hair...These are the people who won for hair/makeup? Well, I guess it's what they can do for other folks, because it doesn't look like they put much effort into making themselves look good.
9:21 -- Halle Berry's get-up looks just as good indoors as it did outside; introducing a "James Bond" tribute...
9:23 -- ...chronicling all the stuff he's blown up and hot women he's shagged over the last 50 years. Oh, behave!
9:25 -- And here's Shirley Bassey to sing "Goldfinger." At 76, I'm afraid she just doesn't have the voice to carry this off anymore. Not bad, but a little ragged in spots. This song calls for more power than she can muster by now; doesn't look like the dress she's poured into is helping, either.
9:27 -- Nevertheless, she darn near carried that off at the end. Standing ovation.
9:32 -- Jamie Foxx and Kerry Washington out to present best live-action short film, in front of a backdrop of hubcaps (or maybe that's supposed to be film reels?). And it goes to...
9:33 -- "Curfew." Polite applause. The winner looks like he plays in the band Fun.
9:35 -- Nervous as he is, a pretty decent acceptance speech. On to best short documentary, which goes to..."Inocente."
9:36 -- All the "Inocente" folks are in tears; which is nice. But no, dude, the arts aren't dying.
9:37 -- Liam Neeson introduces another trio of best-picture nominees: "Argo," "Lincoln" and "Zero Dark Thirty." Three powerful clips, too.
9:41 -- Sorry, Seth, tacky John Wilkes Booth joke. Yes, it's still too soon, even after 150 years.
9:42 -- Ben Affleck out to throw some snark at MacFarlane, and present best documentary feature. I'm pulling for "Searching for Sugar Man." And it goes to..."Sugar Man"! Cool!
9:45 -- Nice shout-out to Rodriguez himself, too, who didn't come because he didn't want any of the credit.
9:49 -- Jennifer Garner and Jessica Chastain out to present best foreign-language film. Which goes to..."Amour." Always bet on love, you know.
9:52 -- Shout-out to the orchestra; which is performing off-site, something I did not know, beamed in from the Capitol Studios. Freaky! And here's John Travolta, out to introduce the musical bit from "Les Mis."
9:54 -- First, however, they're doing the musical bit from "Chicago." Um...why? Wasn't this 10 years ago? So can someone explain why they've dusted this one off a decade later?
9:56 -- Still, gotta say, Catherine Zeta Jones still got game. Although it's curious that they didn't have Renee Zellweger up there, too.
9:57 -- And here's Jennifer Hudson to sing her "Dreamgirls" star turn "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going." Yes, she's great. But again...why?
9:58 -- "Dreamgirls" was on last night and I was watching it, and it's kind of stunning how much thinner Hudson has gotten since then. Still got the big ol' massive voice, however.
10:00 -- Standing ovation for Hudson, which is well-deserved. And now we're on to a musical interlude that's actually current, "Les Mis."
10:02 -- Hugh Jackman is also just as likable and handsome indoors as outside. And here's Hathaway, who is a great singer -- is there anything she can't do? Hard to believe she was the kid in "The Princess Diaries" a zillion years ago.
10:03 -- Helena Bonham Carter, Russell Crowe; man, it's looking like the '27 Yankees up there.
10:04 -- Big finish! With cheese!!
10:09 -- And for this, I rushed back in time from the bathroom? The science and technology nosebleed interlude? No wonder this turkey goes on for a day and a half.
10:10 -- MacFarlane started out strong; but he's struggling as the evening goes along, getting less funny and more forced. And here's Mark Wahlberg and "Ted"...
10:11 -- ...to present best sound mixing; which goes to...
10:12 -- ..."Les Mis." On to best sound editing; and this one goes to...
10:15 -- ..."Zero Dark Thirty" and...something else? They said something about a tie? I'm confused. But here's the guy from "Thirty," who also looks like an aging hair-metal dude.
10:16 -- And they're also giving one to "Skyfall," the "James Bond" flick. So is this the first-ever tie in Oscar history?
10:18 -- They're also going on too long. Here comes "Jaws"!
10:19 -- A riff on "The Sound of Music." Not bad, as movie-nerd trivia goes, and a nice setup for Christopher Plummer; who is out to present best supporting actress. He does a good job poking fun at himself for being, you know, old.
10:21 -- My money's on Hathaway here.
10:22 -- And the winner is...yep, Hathaway (and her pointy dress). Seems like her turn, she's been nominated before -- and she seems generally well-liked in Hollywood.
10:23 -- And that's why, shout-outs to each of the other nominees. She's a classy, gracious winner, poised even though she's trembling.
10:29 -- The academy president out to do the obligatory public-service bit. Blah blah blah...
10:30 -- ...and introducing tonight's student Oscar schleppers, the aforementioned "Oscar Experience College Search" winners.
10:31 -- Sandra Bullock strides on out; she's presenting the award for best editing, and it goes to...
10:33 -- ..."Argo." Nice speech by the winner, short and sweet.
10:34 -- Jennifer Lawrence out, in one big dress; to introduce Adele doing her "Bond" song. This should be good...
10:36 -- ...and it is. Her voice doesn't sound anything like Dusty Springfield, but she exudes that vibe. I like the restraint of this.
10:37 -- Here comes the buildup. Belting soon to come. Consensus on Twitter seems to be that Shirley Bassey was spectacular, and she wasn't (although better than expected, for age 76). Folks, this is better.
10:38 -- Very nice. Some power on the outro, but she didn't go into blaze-away oversinging territory.
10:40 -- Also on Twitter: Hannah Montana @hannah_yall im in the crowd at the oscars try n fine me!!!!
10:41 -- Further thoughts on Jennifer Lawrence's beautiful but huge-ass dress: It takes a village, and I think a good-sized one could live underneath it.
10:41 -- Nicole Kidman out to introduce the final trio of best-picture nominees: "Silver Linings Playbook," "Django Unchained" and "Amour."
10:47 -- Danielle Radcliffe and Kristen Stewart out to present production design; Stewart looks slightly out of it. Then again, poor girl is on crutches. And it goes to...
10:49 -- ..."Lincoln." God, it's almost 11:00, are we really just at production design? Been a long night, getting longer...
10:56 -- And now George Clooney, a movie's star movie star; introducing the memorial segment. This is always good for a misty moment or two...Ernest Borgnine, Jack Klugman, Adam Yauch (sniff), Michael Clarke Duncan, Charles Durning, Hal David, Nora Ephron, Ray Bradbury, Robert Sherman, Richard Zanuck, Marvin Hamlisch...and here's Streisand to sing "The Way We Were," and give a little Hamlisch tribute, wow. This is unexpected, and kind of great; some rough spots, too, but really good.
11:08 -- The cast of "Chicago" out, to present best original score. Will Adele's Grammy mojo transfer to the Oscars?...
11:10 -- ...Nope, it goes to "Life of Pi," which is amassing a fair quantity of Oscars in the secondary categories.
11:12 -- Next up, best original song. This one, I bet Adele gets...
11:14 -- ...Oh, here's Norah Jones to do a song from...MacFarlane's "Ted"? Whether it wins or not, Seth's reaction should be amusing.
11:15 -- And it goes to...yep, Adele, who now has an Oscar to go with her nine Grammys.
11:17 -- She appears overcome; adorable as always, too, very appealing.
11:18 -- Somehow, MacFarlane didn't say anything about "Ted" not winning. Maybe coming out of commercial?
11:22 -- Dustin Hoffman and Cherlize Theron; she is a whole head taller than he is, and he's got the taste to acknowledge her dancing from earlier. Meanwhile, they're here to present the writing awards. First up is best adapted screenplay, which goes to...
11:24 -- ..."Argo," that seems like an upset -- I was figuring "Lincoln" would take this, and most of the other big-category stuff. Hmm...
11:25 -- Deeply emotional acceptance speech by the "Argo" writer, quite well-done. Now on to best original screenplay, which goes to...
11:26 -- ..."Mr. Tarantino," for "Django Unchained." My goodness, he wins his second Oscar. "Thank you, Mr. Hoffman!"
11:28 -- "Peace out!" And he was gone.
11:32 -- Jane Fonda and Michael Douglas, who both look pretty fabulous, out to present best director. Which goes to Spielberg, probably...
11:34 -- Nope, Ang Li for "Life of Pi." Maybe "Lincoln" is not such a shoe-in after all.
11:36 -- Ang Li, shut up already!
11:40 -- Jean Dujardin out to present best actress; a stout field. And I just LOVE the 9-year-old nominee. She's not going to win, but I'm pulling for her.
11:43 -- And it goes to Jennifer Lawrence, from "Silver Linings Playbook." Oh my God, she fell on the stairs -- I was wondering when somebody would do that. Of course, it's THAT dress.
11:44 -- DeNiro looks like he's about to fall asleep during Lawrence's speech, but it's pretty charming.
11:45 -- Meryl Streep, who "needs no introduction," out to present best actor. It will be a gigantic upset if Daniel Day-Lewis doesn't win his third Oscar...
11:48 -- And the winner is...yep, Lewis. First man ever to win three lead-actor roles. He is appropriately humble and gracious; and a perfectly timed Margaret Thatcher-Meryl Streep joke. Lovely shout-out to Spielberg, and his wife for all the "strange men" she's had to live with. And he concludes with, "For my mother." Really nice.
11:52 -- Jack Nicholson will present best picture; with Michelle Obama via satellite from the White House. Meanwhile, I'm thinking "Life of Pi" might edge out "Lincoln" here...
11:54 -- Okay, back to Jack, who recaps the nine finalists...
11:55 -- Wow, Ms. Obama will read the winner: "Argo"! My goodness, I did not see that coming. Well, good for Ben Affleck and George Clooney.
11:56 -- The non-photogenic producer is going on for too danged long for this late, although it's very cute that his wife is sobbing.
11:58 -- Affleck is having to rush; it's kinda charming.
11:59 -- Aw, his wife Jennifer Garner is crying.
12:00 -- Clooney declines to speak, but that's cool. And as the clock strikes midnight, that's a wrap. I'm calling it a night before Chenoweth's show-closing star turn. Bye!
The last time I interviewed Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche was 2006, at which point Wilco wasn't too far past its revolving-door period. But even though Wilco had near-constant turnover of personnel during its early years, the band's lineup has been a model of stability since right around that time.
"Things are still going well with the Wilco camp," Kotche said in a recent interview. "Everybody gets along, we all still believe in the music, the live shows are still exciting. We just found the rite lineup. Once Nels and Pat joined seven years ago, it just clicked and we can kind of do anything we want with this lineup. There's enough experience and everyone is comfortable enough in a lot of different genres to handle anything. And everyone is personally very cool, so it works out."
One cool aspect of Wilco is that everyone in the band has intriguing side projects, and Kotche is in the Triangle this weekend for precisely that reason. For details, see the preview in Friday's paper.