For the most part, radio in the U.S. plays crap. There's some good stuff out there, but you'd never know it. That ends right now.

From sweet and smooth classics, to new names, to old names with new music...the focus here, is to shine a little light on some damn fine music.

I'll find it. You can listen, review, or tell me I wouldn't know good music if it kicked me in the ass. I personally don't give a shit.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Arlo Guthrie @ Newton Theatre: A Night of Songs and Stories

For a November night in northwest New Jersey, the weather could not have been better. A light jacket was enough to keep you warm, but not crowd you in your seat. Tonight you wanted to be comfortable for it was to be a night of songs and stories. Arlo Guthrie was in town, and we weren’t the only ones celebrating. With this year marking the 100th birthday of Arlo’s father, legendary folk singer and documenter of mid-century America, Woody Guthrie, Arlo was performing many of his dad’s compositions.

The Newton Theatre is a reclaimed from the edge of destruction movie theatre. Small and intimate, you get to share the experience with 604 new friends. Though we were lucky to be sitting up front, it’s hard to imagine a bad seat in the house.

With no opening act, Arlo and his three-piece band took their places onstage. With each member dressed in black, there would be no distraction; this night was about the music and the stories that inspired it. Arlo sat center stage next to his guitar rack with four beauties waiting to be picked.
Arlo began the evening speaking of Woody, and the joy he felt being able to spend nights such as this, singing the songs of his father, the songs of an America past, the songs of justice and injustice, the songs of his family. His voice is filled with more gravel than before, as if age and life’s journey has settled in. But every once in a while, the familiar sound of the Arlo from another time, punctuates a sentence of a story, and all those memories when you heard him say “Officer Obie” or “you remember Alice,” come flooding back. And you smile.

 Arlo Guthrie is a superb storyteller. Pulling a beautiful acoustic Gibson out of the rack, Arlo began telling the story of Woody’s “Oklahoma Hills,” and you realize just how different the world was back then for a songwriter. You might not even know your song had been recorded until you heard it playing in a jukebox.

One of the wonderful attributes of the writing of Woody Guthrie was his ability to put down words explaining injustice, hard times, or the beauty of this country, in the most simple of words. Their simplicity making them universally relatable.

Growing up Guthrie meant you had the most interesting of extended families. Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, Huddie “Leadbelly” Ledbetter, Cisco Houston to name a few, were household regulars. Their songs and their stories were exquisite as told by this grown man who had known these legends when he was a child.

Though storytelling and song is his forte, Arlo Guthrie can play a real pretty guitar, though this night he battled with keeping them in tune. As a little tweaking of the strings went on longer than expected, Arlo blamed it on the blue light overhead. The audience laughed as the lighting guy quickly changed the color. It didn’t help, but it did make the evening even more real; this was no rock star with a technician handing him a perfectly tuned guitar for every song. This was just a musician sitting in someone’s living room trying to play his best for some new friends.

 Listening to the songs of Woody Guthrie is like riding on one of the filled-with-family-and-belongings trucks Steinbeck wrote about in The Grapes of Wrath. In fact Guthrie wrote a song condensing the 600 pages of Wrath into a song with twelve verses. This was something over which Steinbeck took umbrage. The combination of the songs and the perspective Arlo brings to them is a history lesson so interesting, you wish this was how it was taught in school. After an hour of enjoying the songs and tales of times long ago, Arlo and the band took a short break.

Coming back onstage the music catalog shifted to Arlo’s own. Now it wasn’t only Woody’s songs which were prefaced by a story. “Coming Into Los Angeles” began with a story of his late wife Jackie’s arrest for marijuana at the airport, after a long-forgotten gift from a fan to Arlo, was found in her bag.

He then talked about his early memories of Leadbelly in his home, and his search for Leadbelly’s grave somewhere in Louisiana. Leadbelly, who wrote among many others, “Midnight Special” and “Goodnight Irene,” was buried in Shreeveport, and they found the grave with guitar picks scattered over the tombstone. So he pulled out his guitar, sat there, and played some songs for the man he remembered as a two-year old. One of those songs “Alabama Bound,” was Arlo’s next selection.
One highlight of the evening was Steve Goodman’s “City Of New Orleans.” Lyrically, you can’t write much more of a poignant ballad. It is a testament to his songwriting that a song so moving, is about a train. The story of how Arlo and Steve met is priceless, making his loss at such a young age, even more lamentable.

Relating how he first laid eyes on his future wife and singing “Highway In The Wind,” which he wrote for her, must be more than a little bittersweet, a little over a year since the death of the woman to whom he was married for forty-three years.

 Getting close to the end of the show, Arlo pulled out arguably Woody’s most recognizable song, “This Land Is Your Land.” As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, the imagery of the words was not lost on the audience. Considering there is not another song which embodies the greatness of this country more than this, it is a song that should be taught in every school in this country.

Of course since we are so close to Thanksgiving, you can be sure there wasn’t a person in the crowd who wasn’t hoping to hear the familiar first few notes of “Alice’s Restaurant.” Arlo did not disappoint.  As he began to play, the audience sang along to the beginning chorus. At this point Arlo said “You don’t think I’m really going to sing this whole freakin’ song do you?” And no, I don’t think we really did. And just that one chorus, while a tease, was enough of a taste to keep a smile on everyone’s face. He picked the melody while talking about what the song has meant to him and his family over the years… the good and the not so good.

As all of our storytellers get older, the danger of losing important parts of our past, grows. Arlo Guthrie not only lived some of the stories first-hand, he grew up surrounded by legends with their own stories to tell. Never miss a chance to hear them because you’ll never forget them once you do. And that keeps them alive.

This evening with Arlo Guthrie pickin’, singin’ and tellin’ stories was one of the most enjoyable nights I’ve ever spent in a music hall. It was an honor to hear him speak of his father, and all those who came before.  And hopefully by writing about it, the stories keep going just a little longer.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

My Many Years with Henry Diltz

A long, long time ago, when I was about thirteen years old, the world of music was everything to me. That hasn't changed much, but how I see things, specifically through a camera has.

As a kid growing up before any of today's technology existed, a camera was usually only brought out for birthday parties, special events, and family vacations. Then as I entered my teenage years, a photographer by the name of Henry Diltz, made me look at the world in a different way.

Henry's work was featured in all the teen fan magazines of the day. His name became legend with fans of The Monkees and David Cassidy. He later went on to photograph some of the most important rock albums of the 70s, along with the Monterey Pop Festival, Woodstock, and the later Woodstock anniversary festivals. I loved how he shot pictures. Sometimes fun, sometimes serious, but each one perfectly captured the moment.

But what opened my photographic eyes was a couple of layouts of rural mailboxes and fire hydrants. They were not your standard issue objects but ones that had been fixed up or painted in some imaginative way. I began to look at ordinary things around me and see the possibilities of some interesting shots. My favorite subject turned out to be mushrooms.

Anyway, last week I had the opportunity to interview Mr. Henry Diltz and it was all I hoped for and more. He was funny, interesting and gracious in his conversation and his time.

Here is some of the interview, there will be more about Henry soon.

Seeing Stuff with Photographer Henry Diltz

Some storytellers communicate with their words, others through their music. Henry Diltz tells a story by capturing the fleeting dance of what his eye sees as his finger presses the shutter button on his camera. A moment in time artfully preserved, and forever shaping how that moment is remembered.

Starting out as a musician with the Modern Folk Quartet, fate played a hand in his eventual career path. While on the road with the band Henry bought a used camera and the rest, well let’s just say the history of the musical world would be a little different today had Henry Diltz not found his true calling.

Slideshows became a weekly ritual for his friends and neighbors whose names included some of the most important singer-songwriters of the era: The Mamas and the Papas, Joni Mitchell, Frank Zappa, Stephen Stills and many others.  He took pictures of his friends, and eventually created some of the most unforgettable album covers of all time. James Taylor’s Sweet Baby James, the first album from Crosby, Stills & Nash, The Doors Morrison Hotel, Late for the Sky by Jackson Browne. He documented the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, Woodstock in ’69, Woodstock ’94, and Woodstock ’99, creating a photographic statement of entire generations in musical history.

It is not an exaggeration to say he has photographed nearly everyone of musical importance in the last fifty years. With some partners, Diltz opened the Morrison Hotel Gallery (NYC and LA) where exhibits of his work and many other of today’s important photographers can be seen. Henry is taking some of his work on the road beginning next month as he and fellow photographer Pattie Boyd begin a limited run multi-media tour featuring historic photos and what no doubt will be extraordinary stories about them.

Having followed Henry’s work since I first became a teenager, it was beyond surreal to interview him. His life is fascinating and he is surely one of the coolest men on the planet, if not the universe. And Henry, thanks for the title.

Kath Galasso: Your first camera came from a second hand shop, you bought some film for it, took the photos, had it developed and only then learned it was slide film not print film. You then went on to have slide shows for your friends, and eventually that cycle was how you became a photographer.  In the game called “what if?” do you think you would have become as interested in photography if you would have picked up developed prints rather than slides?

Henry Diltz: You know, I may not have become a photographer. I don’t say that I thought it would be prints, I had no idea what it would be. We bought these cameras at a junk store on the road and then one of the guys in the group said “pull into the next drugstore and I’ll get film.” He handed everyone a yellow box, I still didn’t know what it would turn out, I never even thought about it. I just said ok and then I said, well how do you set these numbers on the lens and on the camera and he said “look on the box.” Kodak just told you how to set it. Whatever it was I just set the camera that way and it worked out. And when I picked them up, I said “oh look, they’re little tiny pictures, they’re little slides.” And at that moment I said hey let’s get a slide projector and have a slide show. And that was the magic moment right then, actually when the first slide hit the wall, I went “oh my god.” These things could be twelve feet across and glimmering and shimmering in the light. If you have the right conditions in a dark room and your audience is all your stoned, hippie friends, it could be pretty intense. And before I really had a whole collection of music photos, before I got into that really, it was pictures of old junk trucks, pickup trucks, cats sleeping in the afternoon, snails on the ivy or mailboxes. I would just photograph everything and try to make it real interesting, the weirder the better. I wanted to get a response from people. That’s what I went for; to always get a reaction when the next slide hit the wall. And that was what propelled me into photography; I just wanted to have more slide shows.

But isn’t that the coolest thing that you could trace how your life turned out to that one moment?

Yes! I know, I know. I think about it, I think about it in many ways. One way is to say “hey life is a happy accident” you know… and then right away I have to think well, or maybe not. Maybe it’s not such an accident. Maybe my spirit guide or guardian angel said this is what you actually signed up to do, so we’re going to put a camera in your hand. You never know. When you live long enough and really think about life enough, you start to get some answers as to what life might really be, it gets very interesting.

For the rest of the interview, please go over to "Seeing Stuff with Photographer Henry Diltz" at


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Little River Band @ Bergen PAC, Englewood NJ

The evening’s weather forecast was at the very least, ominous. Severe thunderstorms would be passing through close to showtime, and again at the end of the show. Most of us were lucky, having beaten the raindrops into the comfort of the Bergen Performing Arts Center in Englewood, New Jersey.

The Little River Band opened the night with a little a capella intro into “It’s A Long Way There,” just in case you may have forgotten just how strong their five part harmonies can be. Though the band has gone through many changes of personnel over forty years, the integral sound is still very much alive.

Bass player Wayne Nelson has taken over most of the lead vocal duties, though Greg Hind gets plenty of lead time as well. The LRB has a deep catalog of hits with hooks that you can’t get out of your head. All the songs you remember would be played this night, with “Man On Your Mind” as the next in line.

After greeting the crowd and asking if they were ready to sing, the band launched into “Happy Anniversary.” While the set list was heavy on the hits, they didn’t ignore their most recent album, Cuts Like A Diamond, with fine versions “The Lost And The Lonely” and “I’m An Island.” But with an older crowd, the night would indeed be about “Reminiscing.”

For the rest of the review and additional photos, please jump over to Little River Band @ Bergen PAC, Englewood NJ at


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Leaders In The Clubhouse Debut Album "Won" Reviewed

Late last year, Spud Davenport and Charlie Recksieck got together in San Diego and started creating fun music filled with satire and written with a “jaundiced eye.” It resulted in the formation of a band called Leaders In The Clubhouse (LITC) and a debut album titled Won.

Let’s just say their music is a little quirky. At times, you could almost imagine a Seinfeld episode coming out of their song lyrics, but don’t get the impression that they are about “nothing.” Actually Won is about a lot of things, many which are extremely relatable: sex, technology, long-distance romance, getting along with your fellow man, and oh yeah, the end of the world.

For the entire review, please step over to Leaders In The Clubhouse Debut Albun "Won" Reviewed at

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Got It Covered: Everywhere I Go

It's been a while since I posted an installment of Got It Covered, hope you enjoy this one.

In 1993, Jackson Browne released his tenth studio album titled I'm Alive. On it, Browne returned to the familiar territory of love lost, while easing away from the political flavor that marked Lives in the Balance and World in Motion, his previous two albums.

While I'm Alive didn't break any sales records, it did become certified gold, and more importantly, it gave back to his fans the music they wanted to hear. The song "Everywhere I Go," features Browne's initial foray into a reggae beat, with Scott Thurston on backing vocals.

A little over a year ago, Music Load Records released a Jackson Browne tribute album called Looking Into You: A Tribute to Jackson Browne. It's a two-disc set and it's highly recommended. It would seem all of Jackson's friends lined up for a chance to be included: Keb Mo doing "Rock Me On The Water," Lyle Lovett singing "Rosie," Joan Obsourne with "Late For The Sky," "Lucinda Williams on 'The Pretender," and Don Henley with "These Days." Yeah, it's real nice.

My favorite of the collection is the cover of "Everywhere I Go," sung by Bonnie Raitt and David Lindley. It's a light, airy version and of course, there's Bonnie's voice.

Take a listen.

For a little peek into the recording of it, check out this video.

Fun, don't you think?