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, November 16, 2016

Mentor Williams, Writer of "Drift Away" Passes

via youtube
It's been quite a while since I've written something new for this music blog. The reason has nothing to do with inspiration and everything to do with monetization. As in, my life is much more enjoyable when I get paid to write, so besides some writing for a site or two that have been supportive to me in other ways, earning a living is where my focus has been.

That being said, when this blog began nearly five years ago its purpose was to "shine a little light on some damn fine music." The first blog post acknowledged the passing of the singer whose biggest hit expressed exactly what music meant to me. The singer was Dobie Gray, and the song was "Drift Away."

"Gimme the beat boys and free my soul
I wanna get lost in your rock and roll and drift away."

We lost Dobie in 2011, and today word comes that we've lost the writer of that song, Mentor Williams. A longtime resident of Taos, it's easy to see where he found his inspiration. A journeyman songwriter, he held seminars and gave lectures on his craft, helping young songwriters in the business he knew best. Mentor also produced and worked with artists from Paul McCartney to Kim Carnes and Gerry Rafferty.

Over the years, I've called "Drift Away" the quintessential song written about music. I still believe that today. Thank you Mentor Williams for believing in the song and letting us all get lost in your rock & roll and drift away.

Easy Journey.

Oh, give me the beat boys and free my soul
I wanna get lost in your rock and roll and drift away
Yeah, give me the beat boys and free my soul
I wanna get lost in your rock and roll and drift away

And when my mind is free
You know a melody can move me
And when I'm feelin' blue
The guitar's comin' through to soothe me

Thanks for the joy that you've given me
I want you to know I believe in your song
And rhythm and rhyme and harmony
You've helped me along
Makin' me strong

Oh, give me the beat boys and free my soul
I wanna get lost in your rock and roll and drift away
Give me the beat boys and free my soul
I wanna get lost in your rock and roll and drift away

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

For John

Thirty-five years.

If you were alive when John Kennedy was assassinated, you will never forget where you where when you heard the news. The same is true for 9/11. Indelible moments, time and date stamped into your memory.

Thirty-five years ago tonight, I was home and somewhere in the background of a four-way conversation in my living room, we heard the news on Monday Night Football. John Lennon had been shot.

No one had to tell me he was gone. My heart knew it, my soul felt emptier. Something that had been part of my being was lost.

John Lennon was not a hero to me. By most accounts he wasn't even the beautiful human he's transformed into since his death. To me, he was a Beatle and the Beatles were as much a part of my life education as any class or direction of my parents. As Bruce Springsteen said it years later, "I learned more from a 3 minute record baby, than I ever learned in school." John Lennon was one of four who gave my spirit the wings to fly.

Those wings were broken 35 years ago. They have healed with the passage of time, but the scar from that day is still there.

Over the years, the words "For John" were said as a candle was lit. Just a small symbol to bring light to the darkness. There's way too much darkness in the world today, so maybe just for one day we can light a candle and Imagine.

"There are places I remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I've loved them all"


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

For Paul Simon, Whenever I May Find Him.

It's been a while since I've done anything new in this space, but I couldn't let the day pass without giving recognition to the songwriter who changed the way I listened to lyrics. Yes indeed I was a Beatles girl, and enjoyed all of those bands from the British Invasion. But for a very young girl,just learning to write, hearing 'The Sounds Of Silence," was like having a switch go off in my brain.

Living just across the river from NYC, it was so close and yet so very far away, both in distance to a pre-teen and by the promise of what it was about. "The Sounds Of Silence," only enhanced all those feelings I had about the city. I never bought the album it was on, only the 45. My best friend at the time had Wednesday Morning 3 AM, and along with a few other albums, we played it non-stop,

Then came Simon & Garfunkel's "Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme" and it set my gold standard for excellence. "Homeward Bound" became the big hit, deservedly so, and then there was "Feelin' Groovy" and "Scarborough Fair/Canticle." But the song that got my juices flowing was another song about New York. About the dark part of New York, the New York Subway.

Now at that time I had never been on a subway, that privilege would come several years later. At this point all I knew of it was what was talked about on the evening news...and it wasn't pretty. Muggings, stabbings and graffiti. And here on this new album, right alongside songs as beautiful as "The Dangling Conversation" and "For Emily, Wherever I May Find Her," was this dark and gritty song; Side 2 Song 5: "A Poem On The Underground Wall."

I had no idea what imagery was at the time, all I knew was this song's vision was sent to that part of the brain that goes "holy shit." And it was clear. And it was unnerving. And it was stunning.

This video has an interesting lead-in story to go along with the song. But let the lyrics take you down to the shadows of the 60s New York City subways. Happy Birthday Paul.

"The last train is nearly due
The underground is closing soon
And in the dark deserted station
Restless in anticipation
A man waits in the shadows
His restless eyes leap and scratch
At all that they can touch or catch
And hidden deep within his pocket
Safe within his silent socket
He holds a colored crayon
Now from the tunnel’s stony womb
The carriage rides to meet the groom
And opens wide and welcome doors
But he hesitates, then withdraws
Deeper in the shadows
And the train is gone suddenly
On wheels clicking silently
Like a gently tapping litany
And he holds his crayon rosary
Tighter in his hand
Now from his pocket quick he flashes
The crayon on the wall he slashes
Deep upon the advertising
A single-worded poem comprised
Of four letters
And his heart is laughing, screaming, pounding
The poem across the tracks rebounding
Shadowed by the exit light
His legs take their ascending flight
To seek the breast of darkness and be suckled by the night"

Copyright by Paul Simon.

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