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.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Doc Watson: One Damn Fine Picker

Sometimes the glory in being a musician comes not from hit records or playing to stadiums filled with adoring fans. Sometimes the glory of being a musician is just that...being a musician.

Doc Watson was a musician.

Blind since before his first birthday, Doc learned to play the guitar and honed his craft in the 40 years before he would record his first record. Both a flat picker and finger picker, Doc collaborations with Earl Scruggs, Chet Atkins, Ricky Skaggs, and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, are legendary. The winner of 3 Grammy Awards, Doc's influence on the modern style of guitar playing is immeasurable.

Here's an interesting mini-documentary on the creation of The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" which featured Doc, Maybelle Carter, Earl Scruggs and others.

Now, let's have a taste of one of the greats...

"Deep River Blues" ...Doc showing us a thing or two
"Rolling in my Sweet Baby's Arms" ...Doc Watson, Ricky Skaggs, Earl Scruggs..just great stuff
"Whiskey Before Breakfast"  ...Doc won a Grammy for this in 2007 at the age of  84
"I'll Fly Away" month before he died, still on the road.

...and that's how you do it son.

Easy journey Doc.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

On The Soapbox Again: School Funding

Well it's that time of the year again. School is almost out for the summer and school boards across the country are starting to grumble about funding.

Not enough money for this, we need to make cuts in that. And what is the first to go...the Arts. Bullshit I say. Why does this country always attack the very things which give us our humanity.

Music and Art. Let's take one at a time.

I have no artistic ability. What I do have is an appreciation for the gift of others to create something which makes your eyes grow wide and never want to erase the image from your mind. Example, I love the artist Georgia O' Keefe. I have several prints, posters, notecards etc. of her art. It's must be 20 years ago, there was a major exhibition of her work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. I was so moved by seeing the art in person; it is still one of my most treasured memories all these years later.

I have no musical ability. What I do have is a heart that has exploded more times than I can remember, when hearing a song that both makes me smile and brings tears to my the same time. I have been lucky enough to enjoy live concerts from almost every music genre. From Blues to Rock, from Classical to Reggae...there is nothing that can take the place of a live performance.

What's my point?
Without the Arts in the schools, kids are void of the stimulation needed to "scratch the itch" and develop their abilities. A generation growing up without the humanities...aren't we all becoming too computerized already?

So, I thank one of my friends from Twitter for bringing up this ongoing issue and hope you all will do what is necessary to fight for that which makes us feel alive...the Arts.

Let's have some fight songs:

Twisted Sister  "We're Not Gonna Take It"
Bob Marley  "Get Up Stand Up"
Bryan Adams "Kids Wanna Rock"

and if you need a little more inspiration...
Survivor "Eye of the Tiger"

Feel it. Do it.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Little Dylan...Jakob That Is

Jakob Dylan.
Son of Bob and Sara. Singer, songwriter.

Today, let's sample a quick lick or two. One from the Wallflowers, one solo.

In 1996, The Wallflowers had a monster album called Bringing Down the Horse. It yielded several singles including "One Headlight" and "6th Avenue Heartache."

Jakob Dylan has also recorded some really fine solo work. The first taste is from his Seeing Things album.

"Will it Grow" ...great vocal, you can feel it in your soul
"6th Avenue Heartache" ...remember just how good this song was... The Wallflowers



Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Troops: To Those Who Serve and Those Who Play For Them

In a posted on the Life blog last week, I wrote about the tradition of the red poppy and Memorial Day, as well as my feeling that this weekend should be about so much more than retail sales and fireworks.

This Monday, we honor those who have given their lives that we should live free. Spend a moment to just think on that. From the Revolutionary War through the ongoing conflicts overseas, men and women whose faces and names you will never know...have sacrificed their lives for a commitment to country.

As we spend this weekend hopefully reflecting on the real reason for Memorial Day, in today's music blog, I would like to recognize some of the hundreds of performers who have given their time and energy to perform for our troops in war torn countries. For purposes of this blog, I am only including musical acts, though the list of actors, comedians, dancers and celebrities is extensive.

In no particular order, many thanks to:

Brad Paisley
Carrie Underwood
Lee Ann Womack
Trace Adkins
Jamey Johnson
Brooks & Dunn
Zac Brown
Rascal Flatts
Kid Rock
Jessica Simpson
Marshall Tucker Band
Shemekia Copeland
Chris Young
Jimi Jamison
Alex Ligertwood
Larry Hoppen
Joe Bouchard
Skip Martin
Gary Sinese &the Lt. Dan Band

This list is nowhere near complete. If you would like to include other artists who have entertained our servicemen and women, please leave a comment.

Our taste of the day is from a group of deployed troops from a year or so ago. Hopefully all of them have made it home safely.

 Enjoy this delicious taste of a cover of Adele's "Rolling in the Deep"


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Tedeschi Trucks Band: Oh Yeah

She's got the voice, the musical ability, the persona and oh yeah...the guy. Susan Tedeschi has all that and more. Add awards, experience and did I mention...the voice that was made for the blues. oh yeah

Way back, I saw Susan Tedeschi open for John Mellencamp. She has since moved up the ranks, as she fronts the Tedeschi Trucks Band alongside her husband...guitarist great Derek Trucks. Anyone hear of a little old band called the Allman Brothers...yeah there's that, and the fact he's twice appeared on the Rolling Stone list of top 100 guitarists. oh yeah.

The Tedeshi Trucks Band formed in 2010 and their first album Revelator won a Grammy for Best Blues album. See them if you can, or listen and watch a little right now.

Taste a bit...real fine indeed.

"Little by Little" 
"That Did It"
"I Got A Feeling" ...really nice Beatles cover...oh yeah

Smooth and soulful...full of the blues.

oh yeah.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

It's A Dreary Morning, But The Future's So Bright

Ok, so it is raining again this morning and looks like it will continue until tomorrow. I need something to pick up my mood.

   "things are going great and they're only getting better"

Time for a One-Hit Wonder.

Though technically this band with six albums, and music which has been used in soundtracks for both movies and TV, was not a flash in the pan...there is one song that really defines the group.

  "doing alright, getting good grades,
the future's so bright...I gotta wear shades."

Timbuk3 came out of Wisconsin in the mid-80's and were primarily a husband and wife team.. The single reached #19 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the group received a Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 1987.

This goes out to all those graduating in the next few weeks.
Good luck, it ain't pretty out here.

Just a little fun, promise this song will be in your head all day.

Timbuk3  "The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades"

Any suggestions for future "One Hit Wonder" posts, leave a comment below or shoot me an email.


Monday, May 21, 2012

Lonely Days: RIP Robin Gibb

Even though we knew it was coming, it still caused pain when you heard the words. Robin Gibb dead.

While I was never a big fan of the disco era, losing two performers in the same week, who defined the era so greatly...makes you think back over all the music. Donna Summer and Robin Gibb, both dead within a few days of each other.

However, The Bee Gees were so much more than the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever. Yesterday the music blog focused on the incredible harmonies of The Mammas and the Pappas. There was a thought about harmonies I didn't include. It has to do with the difference in harmonizing between siblings and non-siblings. You would be hard pressed to find another group of siblings who harmonized better than The Bee Gees.

In their early years, what I found fascinating about their music was the subject matter. A man on death row, a mining disaster, a song referring to a state in a country not even their own. Those early songs were the ones that meant the most to me. And, whether you loved or hated disco, there was no denying how really good those songs were. And, yes everyone did privately enjoy at least one of The Bee Gees disco era songs.

A taste of my favorite songs by Robin, Maurice and Barry Gibb.

"Lonely Days" ...a live clip from 1975, just great
"Jive Talkin'" ...could be a guilty pleasure, but how can you not love it
"Gotta Get A Message To You" great song. every high school band at the time was required to play it
"Words" ...Barry sang it, the three brothers wrote it. haunting and beautiful.

Easy Journey Robin.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sunday Fun In 4-Part Harmony: The Mammas & The Pappas

Time for some fun.

As I've said before, I am a sucker for harmonies. When done well, it can bring tears to your eyes. Think Simon & Garfunkel or Crosby, Stills & Nash on a good night.  For my money, there aren't many groups who can come close to the four part harmonies created by our taste of the day.

The Mammas and the Pappas: John Phillips, Denny Doherty, Cass Elliot and Michelle Phillips.

As chief songwriter and arranger, John Phillips has never received the credit he deserves for either job. Sure, everyone knows the hits and we have all taken turns singing lead and backup vocals, either when alone or having fun with a few friends. But if you take the time to really listen, the harmonies are complex and brilliant.

The trials and tribulations of the group have been well documented. In-fighting, infidelity, drugs and alcohol all played a part in the eventual break-up of the group. But their brief time in the musical spotlight was filled with 11 Top 40 hits, a Grammy award and millions of records sold.

Take a little time to just delight in some fun songs and great vocals. Yes, you know most of the songs, but this time just really listen to the intricate beauty of the harmonies.

"I Saw Her Again"   ...harmonic perfection. two men, two sync
"Dedicated to the One I Love" ...beautiful blend, starting slow moving into great power harmony
"Straight Shooter" from the 60's. 1967 Monterey Pop Festival
"Monday, Monday" ..again from Monterey. see just how they do those harmonies. intro runs 1:30

and the list would not be complete without...
"California Dreamin" ...we've all sung it, now just listen to the vocals

Guaranteed, these songs will be in your head all day.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Hold On, I'm Coming: Sam and Dave

If you ask most people if they are fans of Mr. Moore and Mr. Prater, they will look at you and say "Who?" But,  if you ask those same people to name a song by Sam & Dave, most will smile and start singing "Soul Man."

The soul/R&B duo began in the 60's and were together until the 80's. Two more members of the Memphis musical church known as Stax Records, Sam & Dave brought the sweet, soulful sound of the South and fused it with a tinge of gospel, R&B and pop. Members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, there is not a musician worth his salt around today, who has not been influenced by Mr. Moore and Mr. Prater.

I was never lucky enough to have seen them perform, but it is well documented that a Sam & Dave show was one of the greatest live acts of all time.

Let's get the morning off to a good start with a few tastes of the masters...

"Soul Man" 1967 footage...the Blues Brothers got nothing on the originals
"Hold On (I'm Comin')
"When Something Is Wrong With My Baby"  ...Duck Dunn on bass. RIP
"Soul Sister, Brown Sugar"
"I Thank You" ...No, we thank you.

If your foot ain't tappin' you're dead.


Sunday, May 13, 2012

For Duck Dunn: Serving Up Some More Green Onions

Donald "Duck" Dunn left us yesterday.  On tour and doing what he loved, he went to sleep and never woke up. Another sad note on the list of musicians who are gone. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his work as the bass player for Booker T & the MGs, he is also remembered for playing himself in The Blues Brothers movie.

In February, one post was devoted to Roy Buchanan doing a cover version of  "Green Onions."
Enjoy again that great rendition and for Duck, have a taste of the original.

Booker T & the MGs "Green Onions"

Easy Journey Duck


A Song For Mother's Day

Mother's Day. Indeed it is.

Now I am not a physical mother. My maternal instincts at no time in my life ever rose above my need for independence. The commitment of raising a child always seemed too overwhelming and scary.  After all, you can't go back and say "This isn't for me, I think I'll return them."  I do however have a stepmonster...or more to the point: I am his stepmonster and he is mine. I've had him for over 23 years now, watching him grow from a barely teenage boy into a strong, confident man full of understanding and wisdom. On this Mother's Day, I thank him for the love and respect, the IT help and for his appreciation of my baking skills. I guess all women do have the gene to feed their young.

Today on this Mother's Day music blog, I would love to include some of the music that my mother enjoyed with me as I was growing up. Only problem is...there wasn't really any. My mother hated my music. She grew up on Frank Sinatra (oh there's a story or two about Old Blue Eyes to be told) and the Big Band Era of the 40's. "Turn that noise down," was like the 11th Commandment in our house. And my appreciation for her music would not materialize until I was so much older.

So in honor of my mother, I will offer a taste of the first band to really make her nuts. Knowing my background, who else could it be but The Beatles. We will take a little poetic license here and feature some truly wonderful lyrics. I give you my ode to my Mom.

"When I find myself in times of trouble, 
Mother Mary comes to me,
speaking words of wisdom, Let it Be, Let it Be.
And in my hour of darkness, 
she is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, Let it Be, 
Let it Be, Let it Be, Let it Be, Let it Be
Whisper words of wisdom, Let it Be, Let it Be"

The Beatles "Let it Be"

Don't miss the chance to tell your mother that you love her.

Happy Mother's Day,


Friday, May 11, 2012

Guilty Pleasures: Things Can Only Get Better

Guilty Pleasures.

We all have them. Whether it's eating a pint of ice cream in the middle of the night or watching an old "B" movie in the middle of the day, there are some things we enjoy in spite of the fact that usually they are either A) a waste of calories or B) a waste of time.

Then there are the musical guilty pleasures, and that's where we will go today. A single song, or maybe a band which is so outside your normal range of enjoyment and love it. The song that if you're old enough to remember, you would have purchased the 45 rpm, but never the album. These days downloading makes everything a world of singles...but I digress.

So, today we start another new feature that we will visit from time to time...Guilty Pleasures. Let's start with one of mine.

For the most part, I hate techno music. I am an old school rocker who loves to get buried in the blues. I am not into the "beats" or electronics made to sound like real, what the hell is the point?  But just like on the Life blog when I posted an example of my writing when I was a kid (147 years ago), I will now embarrass myself on the Music blog by posting my Guilty Pleasure.

Howard Jones. There, I've said it.
It was the 80s and I was young(er). Having lived through the British Invasion, Hard Rock, Country Rock, Metal...etc, now we had Techno-Pop. ugh. I know nothing about Howard Jones and have no desire to even look him up on Wikipedia. Knock yourself out if you have the desire. However, there are two songs by Howard Jones which make me happy. They are my guilty pleasures.

Today's Tastes:

"No One Is To Blame"
"Things Can Only Get Better"

Ok, I've shown mine, let's see yours.  Leave a comment or send me an email...yours might be the next guilty pleasure we highlight.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Night With Survivor

Sunday May 6: Destination...Penn's Peak

The road trip from the weekend house to Jim Thorpe, PA wasn't too bad at all. Some smaller roads, but a few of them were roads we had traveled on before.  The new car was a joy to drive, especially on the return trip when the insanely great headlights lit the way. The 70 mile trip took about an hour and twenty minutes. Not bad at all.

The venue, Penn's Peak is spectacular. Perched on top of a mountain, the panoramic view from up top is breathtaking. The building itself is like a large wooden barn; inside are two levels with plenty of room and a friendly atmosphere.

Opening act was The Pat Travers Band. One of the first things Pat said Sunday night, was that they were gonna kick our asses. Well, they sho 'nuf did. You want loud and hard rock & got it.  A solid set fronted by a man who has paid his dues and still has the nerve to apparently love what he's doing.

Highlights included "Boom Boom...Out Go The Lights", which had a lot of crowd participation and "Snortin' Whiskey." After a terrific set, Pat & the boys had a fine Meet & Greet session with the assembled troops at Penn's Peak. Nice touch.

Next up, Survivor. Sunday night was the fourth show of this tour, which has lead vocalist Jimi Jamison fronting the band once again.

Opening the show with "Can't Give It Up," a nice surprise off the Too Hot To Sleep album. Second song in...must be time to throw in one of the hits: "Broken Promises," one of those songs which never fails to deliver the goods. Jamison and lead guitarist Frankie Sullivan both seemed relaxed...easily falling into a familiar rhythm, the payoff of doing years of live shows together.  "High on You" ...another crowd favorite was up next, followed by three songs which were not recorded by Jamison, but by original lead singer Dave Bickler. "Poor Man's Son," "Take You On A Saturday," and a gem version of "Summer Nights."... all from the 1981 album Premonition.

Jumping back into a Jamison era song, "Desperate Dreams" off Too Hot To Sleep, is a lyrically haunting song from the Peterik-Sullivan catalog.

"Two souls drawn to the fire in desperate dreams 
Two hearts lost to desire's desperate schemes 
One girl lost in a reverie 
Lost love found in a memory 
Those nights live on forever 
Two fools lost in a desperate dream"

The next song was a tasty treat to be sure. 38 Special had a #1 hit with "Rockin' Into The Night." Jim Peterik (former Survivor member and Sullivan's long-time writing partner) and Frankie Sullivan were two of the writers of that song. The crowd was pretty pumped up by this time, so this rocker was just throwing "a little gasoline on the fire."

Back to the hits: "The Search is Over," "I Can't Hold Back," and "Burning Heart" can you argue with the set choices there.

Another oldie from the pre-Jamison days "Somewhere in America" gave way to the finale, no surprise there... "Eye of the Tiger."  As the song approaches its 30th anniversary, it has become more than an anthem...for many people it has become their mission statement,


Drums: Marc Droubay has been with the band, well almost forever. Never missing a beat, his talent lies in complimenting the rest of the band and not overpowering it. As strong as ever.
Bass: Billy Ozzello is not a wallflower type bassist. A wild man with long flowing hair, his get-in-your face bass provided a huge dose of solid work and a lot of energy.
Keyboards/Guitar: Walter Tolentino is one nice surprise. Multi-talents and a great stage presence, boy it sure seemed like he had fun.
Lead Guitar: Frankie Sullivan works hard, real hard. Watching just how hard he worked got me a little exhausted to tell you the truth. And all the hard work pays off. He's damn good. Something which might go unnoticed is just how well his voice backs up Jamison's.  He fills in all the right places, creating a perfect blend.
Lead Vocals: Jimi Jamison, well that's the voice now isn't it? He is so acutely aware of his vocal abilities, it's scary. Still a master of the stage, throw in the still-strong vocals and you have one of the best singers to ever front a rock band.

This was a top to bottom fun show. The band is tight, talented and relaxed. With their music catalog, the choice of set list must be tough. At some point, would love to see them try something to knock the socks off the crowd...something like an acoustic set or letting Jimi back up Frankie on a song or two. It's early in the tour, hopefully they will continue to play nice together and record some new music.

The evening was definitely worth the road trip. A night to meet up with friends who like us, drove in from some distance and spent the night enjoying two old-school rock bands still ready, willing and able to "kick our asses."

...and that's how you do it son.


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Road Trip: Let's Ride

Road Trip.

Two words, eight letters that get my blood pumping every time. This afternoon, we take off for an evening out, in a venue about 70 miles away.

Returning tonight, it's gonna be a lot of driving, on a lot of back country roads.

Time for a little traveling music.

Now there are different types of traveling music. Some bands themselves, just have a sound that works when the sun is shining and you are rolling down the highway. The Allman Brothers are a great example of this. Put on Eat a Peach or Live at the Fillmore, and you are always good to go.

Then there are specific songs that just put you in the mood for an adventure. Let's taste a few of those today.

Lynryd Skynyrd "The Breeze"
Doobie Brothers "Rocking Down the Highway"
Tom Cochrane " Life is a Highway"

and for a destination mood setter...
Survivor "Caught in the Game"

Turn up the volume, pedal to the metal and drive...
oh yeah baby...that's what I'm talking about.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Voodoo That You Do...So Well

On May 2, 1968 Jimi Hendrix walked into the the Record Plant recording studio in New York City and laid down the tracks for "Voodoo Chile." This epic song would become part of Jimi's legacy known as the Electric Ladyland double album.

After a late night club scene, Hendrix and friends began recording at 7:30 in the morning. Among the friends that night were Steve Winwood (organ), Jack Casady (bass) and Mitch Mitchell (drums). On the first take, Jimi showed them what to do. A broken string interrupted the second take and the third time was the charm.

Over the years many musicians have tried their hand at the guitar licks by Hendrix. Today, we will taste a few of the best.

Listen up:

Stevie Ray Vaughn "Voodoo Chile" ...perhaps the best outside of Jimi
Kenny Wayne Shepherd "Voodoo Chile" ...nice, especially with Noah Hunt doing vocals
Zakk Wilde & Slash "Voodoo Chile"...double guitars...double the power...blowing it out...killer
Jimi Hendrix "Voodoo Chile"... live at Woodstock. uh huh.

Hot damn, that's some freakin' great guitar work right there.

Pick your favorite and leave a comment below.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Take A Ride In The Driver's Seat

Today we offer a second installment of the one-hit-wonder taste of the day.

This is a song while it became a hit in 1978, had a second life when it was used in a European advertising campaign over ten years later. The song is from a British group called Sniff 'n' the Tears and the song is

"Driver's Seat"

"Doing alright, a little driving on a Saturday night."

I actually saw them perform in NYC when they opened up for Dire Straits. I don't remember any other song they did, only that I has happy as all hell to have seen them play "Driver's Seat."

A little strum of the guitar, easy drum beat...kick it up.  Just a fun song with a catchy chorus.

Just take your place in the Driver's Seat.