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By JoCo March 1, 2009

Sitting here at the gate waiting to board, if the weather treats me nice I’ll be back in NY in just a few hours. It was another great bunch of shows here in the Midwest, though I have made a mental note to make sure that the next time I come back here it should probably be in the time of year when there are NOT ice storms. Thanks to everyone who braved the black ice in Madison, thanks to the weather gods who brought the snow to St. Paul the night before our show, and Chicago, well, just thanks. If, in fact, you exist.

As you may know I’ve been assembling set lists from Twitter requests, and I have to say the results have been really interesting. There are requests for songs I would never dare to force on an audience, songs I don’t play well, songs that haven’t seen the light of day in years. It feels nice to be taking some risks again, even when I fall on my face. The most surprising thing to me is how mellow and sad the requests seem to trend – I don’t think there’s been a single show where someone hasn’t asked for Famous Blue Raincoat. I usually try to include as much up tempo funny stuff as I can, but I do love a sad song, and it’s nice to have permission to play a few of them. You asked for it!

Also, my life has become a parade of famous person cameos – Kevin Murphy, Bill Corbett and Neil Gaiman were all at the St. Paul show (on stage with us for goodness sake), and last night we had sushi with Adam Savage. It’s like a weird dream. I am a big fan of all of these people, so it’s bizarre and wonderful to get to hang out with them and their large, white, affable dogs.

And on top of it all, audiences keep showing up and being nice to me. You rule, audience. Thanks everyone for another great trip.


Matt M. says

Thanks for coming to St. Paul, Jonathan. I hope you play here again soon, and with as much advance notice as possible!

I wish I could have made it. Instead I was playing insipid pop music with my cover band 25 miles away while my girlfriend and another friend of ours (who would otherwise have been me) used your monitor speaker as a footrest in front row center.


She bought me a Mandelbrot T-Shirt though. :-)

Megan says

Seconding the thanks for shoehorning a St. Paul stop in there - it was a whole load of fun. I went with six of my closest, nerdiest friends, and we were all worried the weather would keep you out. I was really happy you played the updated Presidents song (I'm pretty sure no one minded the goofs). Are the new lyrics posted somewhere? I missed the last verse in all the cheering after the second to last verse. :)

Also, the cameos totally resulted in my losing my shit and turning into a screaming fangirl. I imagine I'll be taking crap over that for a while. Ah well.

Scott Frazer says

Loved the Chicago show, JoCo. I think Paul and Storm are actually getting better each year. Their Song Fu work was amazing.

I liked the change up in set list, though it was a bit awkward because I brought 3 JoCo virgins along. I had to reassure them that not all your songs were sad, just some of the best ones :-)

I was hoping you'd play First of May, though, just to give us some hope that spring will eventually get here. Brrrr.

Angelastic says

There were Mandelbrot Set T-shirts in St. Paul? I thought only we Over-Theremins got those.

A. Sage says

I had an amazing time at the Chicago show. The setlist was great, you played my Twitter requests, and...well, it was perfect, pretty much. I'm gonna be geeking out about this show for quite a few weeks to come. :)

The new song was fantastic! Can't wait to hear the studio version.

Oh, and the Mr. Fancy Pants drum machine / remix thing was ridiculous. I approve.

Kayla says


Thank you SO much for playing the St. Paul show. It was one of the coolest concerts of my life - mere words can't express how much I geeked out that night. The "Mr. Fancypants" drum machine/remix, the stumbling through "The Presidents", the sweet rendition of "A Talk With George", the "Pressure" cover, the fact that you played my Twitter request (!!!- I laughed, I cried, it moved me.

Oh, and I was the one that shyly asked you to sign my messenger bag after the show. I'm terribly sorry if I didn't thank you afterwards (as I suspect I didn't) - I was definitely in a starstruck kinda' daze (and I'm super shy to boot), so accept a belated "thank you, thank you, thank you". You made my week/month/year.

I'm glad you kept warm in our freezing tundra. Please come back soon!

Carrie says

The St. Paul show was awesome, thank you so much for stopping by! My hubby was so completely geeked out about shaking the hands of Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett, our Code Monkey friend cried during that particular song, and I got to just absolutely love everything.

So glad the weather gods didn't stop you from entering the snow-laden state of Minnesota!

Darth Meatloaf says

I was at the Madison show on the 26th. Freezing rain is definitely NOT FTW. I fell down outside of the theatre after the show, but it was all worth it.

PLEASE play a show in Milwaukee if it's winter again the next time you're in the midwest. I'd drive way farther than Milwaukee to Madison to see you again, but not if it's next winter...

MarcyT says

I don't understand how the Twitter request thing works---what does it mean when there's a # in front of something?

Andrew T. "The Clinger" Coleman says

I'm still in High School and don't own a car, but I hope to go to one of your Seattle shows when I go to College later this year. I know you have used harmonica, tenori-on, and zendrum in your live shows... how about thermin? That might be another fun live song instrument. ;P

Paul R. Potts says

Marcy: putting a #something in a Twitter "tweet" doesn't really do anything special, except make it easier to search for particular keywords without false positives in someone's shopping list or something like that.

Using the Twitter search function you can see them in everyone's public messages. For example, this link will search for all tweets that have the "#jocorequests" hash tag:


These are called "hash tags" because of the pound sign, also known as an octothorpe, in front of them. Go figure.

Hmm, realized I forgot to tag my request for "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" by Elton John for the Ann Arbor show!

HellZiggy says

It was wonderful to see you, as always. Don't wait so darn long before the next time you come back! :)


MarcyT says

@Paul, do I need to include the # when I reply? Seems like I should. Thanks for the info!


Adam says

I loved the Madison show...even though it was a "sad" setlist. And honestly, it could have been worse, it could have been snowing last Thursday. You got lucky it was rain / freezing rain. Trust me.

Oh..and while the Chinese place next to the Barrymore is good, I was serious when I said to check out Monty's across the street.

Well...'till next time you're in Madison!


JonathanL says

Jonathan, my wife and I came up for our wedding anniversary to the St. Paul show and it was awesome! I never thought Skullcrusher Mountain could be better with one man and one guitar, but it was better than I could have imagined, and I heard some songs I didn't expect. The picture my wife took of you, Paul and Storm, and Neil playing "Creepy Doll" is just awesome; I'm going to get that put up at my desk at work. And "You Ruined Everything" was awesome. Thanks for coming out to the midwest, and yeah, do it when it's warmer next time! Our hotel was only three blocks away but good gravy was it COLD walking into the wind.

Great show! Definitely a memory I'll never forget.

Paul R. Potts says

Marcy T: Just put the #jocorequests tag at the end of your tweet and then anyone searching on that keyword will see your tweets. So if you want your tweet to show up in that search, use it, otherwise not.

Grant says

Thanks for coming back to Chicago, Jonathan! Park West was a big difference from the House of Blues ... and I was able to bring friends this time! Awesome to hear some of the lesser-known songs - and you should definitely be including "Betty & Me" in every concert. Kudos on "Blue Sunny Day," and can't wait to hear it "for real" - and know that we who read your blog were rooting for you as soon as you started the Presidents song. You had only the slightest bobble, which was FINE ... especially when you have an audience that knows your songs so well!

Also, thanks for "You Ruined Everything" - my wife and I leaned against each other and smiled. The same way we did on "Skullcrusher," come to think of it. Enjoy getting back to Diaper Duty, and we'll see you again the next time you're in the midwest! Anxiously awaiting the Best DVD Ever!

polymorphism says

The Park West show was a great time for me and mine. The spontaneous Fogelberg cover just about killed me!

Thanks for signing my coloring book! I will need a second one now, because I think that this one needs to be framed, and yet I also have an urge to color...

Erica says

I believe it snows (or has some other horrible weather) every time you come to the midwest in the winter.

I've just moved to the St. Paul area, so it was very exciting to see you here instead of Madison (not like it would be -not- exciting to see you there, of course). Maybe next time I can plan a road trip and go to all of your concerts!

Bob says

Until I read the part about the "large, white, affable dog" in your post, I thought that was a snowman in the picture. :)

Percephene says

Oh gosh, ao did I Bob! I didn't even look closely at it!

Brad says

Jonathan, thanks so much for coming to St. Paul and the History Theater! That was an amazing show and my wife and I loved it. It was the first time I've seen you in person and it was alot of fun.

By the way, you had me crying towards the end of "Space Doggity" (as you mentioned its an unfortunate title). I get why you play it, but damn its sad. Its really a hard one to climb up out of. Using "Tom Cruise Crazy" was a good idea, but I think "Shop Vac" or "Soft Rocked by Me" might have been an easier transition.

Anyway, I can't wait to get the DVD and see you the next time you come to the Midwest. I hope that next time you come through I can see you in a larger venue... or at least one where they dim the lights!

If I had Twitter I would request that you play "The Future Soon" at every show. That one warms the servos in my heart.

Brad says

One more thing! Keep playing that cover of "Pressure." Its always been one of my favorites and you really did it justice.

HellZiggy says

@Brad: There is video of the "Pressure" cover up now on YouTube:


Kat says

Thank you for mixing it up! When one goes to two shows in a row, very nice to hear different songs the second night :D Incidentally, thank you also for your patience with the picture of a picture taking... made my evening!

@Brad, I agree with you, I forgot to request The Future Soon but I should have!

p.s. It really *is* going to be the future soon! - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7919645.stm

Ron says

Ditto on the love for "Pressure" - that one definitely needs to be added to the rotation - too bad we couldn't see you play it in Denver...

And please keep taking risks, even if you fall on your face. We especially enjoy that. Speaking on behalf of those who agree with me, it adds to the intimacy and enjoyment of the show when it's not all polished and perfect.

Just don't fake it. We'll know.

Christine says

I've been listening to "Blue Sunny Day" from Youtube all morning, thank you for channeling Neil Gaiman. :) Did this remind anyone else of Silas from the Graveyard Book?

On your next tour, could you stop in Indianapolis? You could pack the Vogue theater. I would be there, gin and tonic in one hand, sock monkey in the other, wearing my blue mumu. :)

Colleenky says

The most surprising thing to me is how mellow and sad the requests seem to trend

Yeah. We really do like the mellow, sad ones. Keep 'em comin'! :-)

Zach Totz says

To everyone else who was at the show at the Ark in Ann Arbor last night: my recording turned out great, I've just gotta merge and re-split some of the tracks so that the banter for each song is with that song specifically, and increase the volume slightly so you can hear some of the banter (especially from the audience) a bit more clearly. I will also be making jewel case covers and stuff for anyone who would want to print that out.

The entire show, including the fantastic opening set from Paul & Storm will be online by Monday at the latest, and I will link to it in the comments section of whatever the newest blog post is at the time (and probably reminders in the next few as well).

Thanks again to JoCo, Paul, and Storm for an amazing night, the staff of the Ark for helping me get set up, letting me in early, and letting me record in the first place, and last but not least to Paul R. Potts for letting me borrow his recorder and teaching me how to use it so that I could even make this. Also, he got me a free poster for the gig, which is awesome and was signed by Paul, Storm and JoCo.

I'll probably also post a review of my night as a whole to go with the mp3s, and maybe the pictures I took, but they turned out dark and kinda blurry because my camera's flash is a bitch and doesen't work half the time.

Julie says

Excellent, excellent show at Ann Arbor tonight! I was the girl with the cake, and I will post video later this weekend, but for now... a picture of the cake - http://twitpic.com/1we0p

At least 2 of the people who tried the cake after the show asked for the recipe, so I will post that soon after I have had some sleep.

My group had a fabulous time, and we are all looking forward to seeing you again.

Paul R. Potts says

Julie: I was lucky enough to get a bit of the cake and I am pleased to say it was NOT A LIE! And so delicious and moist! (Did it have pudding in it? Very nice flavor!)

Zach: glad I could help. I had been thinking about recording this show myself but _also_ wanted to volunteer and just would not have been able to do both at once. So I'm really glad you did it!

I think the person to thank at the Ark is Allison, for letting you jump the line.

Before everyone starts asking me for posters let me clarify that I _made_ the posters. The Ark did not have a promotional poster for their window display so I got the artwork file from Scarface and put the text on it in Photoshop, and printed out 3 copies at Staples. (I guess that does make it an extremely limited edition poster). However, quite a few people asked if they could buy one, so JoCo, if you are reading -- you could probably sell posters at your gigs!

Julie says

Paul: Thanks for the compliment! No, no pudding in it. I believe that the cream cheese in the center has a lot to do with the moisture. It's a cake that has been popular with my family for years as my mom has made it for practically every birthday and special occasion we have celebrated (including my wedding!). I have posted the recipe this morning in my blog post here - http://merlyntemple.livejournal.com/290524.html

This was only the second time I have actually made it myself without my mom's help, and I was happy to hear so many people liked it.

Julie says

Video of cake stuff is up... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WBdM4Di2V68

Zane Graves says

And all I can feel is complete and total envy over you having sushi with Adam Savage. That sir, is THE LIFE.

Zach Totz says

The pictures I took of the concert itself didn't turn out great (the ones that even turned out at all... I took a bunch of Paul & Storm's set that you can't make out what's goint on period), so does anyone have photos from the set up on Flickr or something that I could use to mock up cover art for the recording I took? You'll be credited in the liner notes.

Julie says

Zach: If you want, I can take some still captures from my videos. FlipShare has a neat feature that allows me to do that easily which is actually how I got the cake picture. If no one steps forward with better pics, I'll get those up on twitpic sometime soon.

Julie says

If no one else steps up, perhaps you can use some of these - http://twitpic.com/photos/merlyntemple

Zach Totz says

Julie: Thanks, those help with the cover for JoCo's set.

Paul: Thanks again for helping me get in early and for clarifying who among the Ark's staff helped as well.

Also, if anyone has a good pic from Paul and Storm's set, none of mine turned out well, thanks in advance.

The shows should be posted tomorrow.

Julie says

Zach: Just found some really nice photos on Flickr using the search "jonathan coulton ann arbor". They're a lot better quality than the frames from my video and at a more centered angle.


You could ask if you could use those.

Paul R. Potts says

The Ark sound guy for that evening was also helpful although I'm afraid I can't remember his name. I did thank him on our way out though!

Paul R. Potts says

Julie: it appears that the owner of most of those photos (Kodamakitty) uses CC Attribution-noncommercial-noderivatives so I think Zach can just use them and give her credit, as long as he does not alter the image itself. The wonders of Creative Commons!

Zach Totz says

Julie, Paul: Thanks again on these new photos linked!

Paul: His name was Chris, and I thanked him again at the end of the night as well.

Everyone: The entire show (including the Paul & Storm set) will be online and linked tomorrow evening as long as I don't run into any unforseen difficulties. I know I'm tempting Murphy's Law by saying that, but...

Mike says

Thanks for coming to St. Paul, John. It was fun being your All Around Technician. Hope you enjoyed performing the show as much as I enjoyed standing awkwardly by the sound board; come back soon.