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, May 29, 2013

Scrap the Game, Bring on the Music

Last night I was supposed to be at a Yankees-Mets Subway Series game. I was not. The combination of getting three hours sleep the night before and a miserable rainy day made me re-consider... even though they did end up playing the game.

I felt like crap the whole day. No sleep, a headache and my hair started to frizz. Who needs this shit? Then on top of it, I was supposed to drive over two bridges and deal with both rush hour and game traffic. The final straw was hearing the George Washington Bridge, the first of the two I needed to cross, was closed with an accident.

First pitch, originally scheduled for 7pm, was now set at 8:40pm. Figuring a three hour game if there are no other delays, and I'm getting home close to 1am. After sleeping for three hours the night before. Um...I opted for Plan B. Stay home, watch it on TV and also catch the reason for this post today.

Last night PBS aired the White House Concert honoring Carole King as the first female recipient of the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. Now I love Carole King, love her. While Grace Slick was my idol because of her being one of the first women to front a rock & roll band and who had an attitude and mouth to go with it... Carole King wrote the songs. Before I took a long, long break from writing, I was extremely touched by song lyrics. The songs she and Gerry Goffin wrote were some of the most memorable around, back when I was a kid. Then Tapestry came out. Who doesn't remember that album cover of a blue-jeaned girl with frizzy hair, relaxing in the window seat as the light streamed in? I had it on vinyl, had it on cassette and I have it on CD. It is as brilliant today as it was in 1971.

The Gershwin Award "honors the lifetime achievement of artists whose work exemplifies the standard of excellence associated with towering songwriters George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin." Carole King received that award, and deservedly so.

The show featured a variety of singers covering some of her best known tunes. "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow," Billy Joel singing "Locomotion," and of course James Taylor sang "Up On The Roof," as well as a duet with Carole on "You've Got A Friend."

The taste for today is a song which was not featured on the show, but may be my favorite of hers.
"Green fields and rolling hills
Room enough to do what we will
Sweet dreams of yestertime
Are running though my mind
Of a place I left behind"

"Been to Canaan" is one of those songs which just lightens my mood. Had a bad day or struggling with a decision? It just makes you remember that you did have a place of peace, and you will find it again.

Though I'm content with myself
Sometimes I long to be somewhere else
I try to do what I can
But with our day to day demands
We all need a promised land"

"Been so long, I can't remember when
I've been to Canaan
And I want to go back again
Been so long, I'm living till then
'Cause I've been to Canaan and I
I won't rest until, I go back again


Carole King 1982 "Been To Canaan"

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Working and Having Fun: Survivor in the House

On May 18th, I took a road trip two states north to Connecticut. The purpose of the trip was to see the band Survivor play at the Mohegan Sun Casino, and do an interview with lead guitarist and founding member of the band, Frankie Sullivan.

The interview was to take place before sound check and I was given a contact number to verify at 4pm. Well, sometimes plans don't go as expected. Lucky for me, this was one of those times where when things get screwed up, they turn out better than they would have if it all went according to plan.

Not able to get verification by phone, we ended up downstairs as the band did a sound check and got confirmation that the interview would take place, but it would be after the show. So much better. While Frankie might be tired, he would also be more relaxed now that the show was over. It would also let me talk with him about the night's performance.

After the show was over, we were taken backstage to wait for Frankie. On the way in drummer Marc Droubay was already speaking to a few people, but otherwise it was quiet. Bass player Bill Ozzello came by and said a few words and keyboard/guitarist Walter Tolentino stayed for a nice conversation in which I learned the world is a very small place sometimes.

In speaking with Frankie, I found him to be relaxed, open and very responsive. He was as interested in my point of view, as I was in his. It was the kind of conversation where you could have talked for hours, unfortunately at one point security needed to shut down the area for the night.

I didn't get to ask everything I had planned, sometimes you just need to let the interview take its natural course, but I did find out about the decision to bring back original vocalist Dave Bickler to sing alongside Jimi Jamison, the man who replaced him. We also talked about touring, new music and a whole lot more.

To read the interview, jump over to for Frankie Sullivan of Survivor - An Interview 
and to read my review of the show click on Survivor @ Connecticut - Concert Review


Monday, May 27, 2013

Beat This Beginning: Crossfire

Last weekend as I started out on the road trip, I had the shuffle going in the car. As the opening notes of today's taste hit my ears, it was like I was hearing it for the first time. Now I have listened to this song hundreds of times, but that morning it sounded fresh and well... perfect.

So it hit me, if I've had this feeling on this song, there must be hundreds of songs where you know them note for note, but may still have missed something really juicy about them. And that's how we got here today.

Today we introduce a new feature which we will jump into from time to time, where we will highlight a song with a great opening riff. The song is "Crossfire" by Stevie Ray Vaughn.

Now if you've read this blog with any regularity you know SRV just makes me smile. He had it all, and we will never know his true greatness, but what he left behind is a legacy of which any musician would be proud.  As one of my top three guitarists, it's funny that the opening of "Crossfire" is not centered on his guitar work. Sure he comes in with some great punctuation, but an opening drum beat, a little bass and some hot keys all set the tone before Stevie drops in.

Of course the rest of the song ain't half bad, and Stevie kicks it up pretty good, but have a listen to how it starts.

Good stuff.
Leave a comment if you have any other great beginnings we should take a listen to.


Friday, May 24, 2013

Got It Covered: A Blue Birthday Song

One of this country's greatest poets was born 72 years ago today. If you came into existence anytime in the past fifty years, there is no way his words didn't impact your life.

From "Blowing in the Wind," to "Like a Rolling Stone," "Positively 4th Street," "Knocking on Heaven's Door," "Maggie's Farm," "Lay Lady Lay," the list goes on. You want to learn about real life, hard life, you want to learn how to write a song... go back and listen to Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde on Blonde, Nashville Skyline, Blood on the Tracks.

When he played at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1965, he took a bold leap and went from acoustic to electric guitar, and man did he take shit for that. But once the world realized the sky wasn't falling, everyone did a double take and realized the genius that was, and is Mr. Bob Dylan.

In his honor, today we are doing another edition of Got It Covered and the selection is of course, a Dylan tune. It also happens to be my favorite Dylan song. Now I like a lot of his songs, but I don't want to listen to them everyday. My measurement of a favorite song is; would I be able to listen to this song everyday for the rest of my life and still enjoy it? My gold standard is "Layla." Now it may not be the song that makes me the happiest, but I have heard "Layla" thousands of times and still love and appreciate all approximately seven minutes and five seconds of it.

I feel the same way about today's pick. ""Tangled Up In Blue." From the Blood on the Tracks album, it was released in 1975 and lyrically it was a change for Dylan. I think that's what drew me to it first. The opening lines are so simple, but just magic.

"Early one morning the sun was shining
I was laying in bed
Wond'ring if she'd changed it all
If her hair was still red"

They set the tone, and give your imagination room to move. The story continues through time and years and you don't quite know what to make of it, but you can't help yourself from needing to know it all.

"She turned around to look at me
As I was walking away
I heard her say over my shoulder
"We'll meet again someday on the avenue"
Tangled up in blue."

So, time for tasting. First up is Dylan himself, in a live version from the mid 70's with Dylan singing the song from a third person narrative.

"Then she opened up a book of poems
And handed it to me
Written by an Italian poet
From the thirteenth century
And every one of them words rang true
And glowed like burning coal
Pouring off of every page
Like it was written in my soul from me to you
Tangled up in blue"

An interesting and really nice take by KT Tunstall.

"But me I'm still on the road
Heading for another joint
We always did feel the same
We just saw it from a different point of view
Tangled up in Blue."

And because I'd get yelled out by the "uncle" if I didn't include this one... Jerry Garcia..

An almost perfect song, especially for a long holiday weekend... thinking about getting on the road.
Happy Birthday Bob.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Beth Hart @ NY City Winery: Review

Last Friday I had the chance to see Beth Hart in concert. Touring in support of her Bang Bang Boom Boom album, I caught the last of her three sold-out shows at the City Winery in Manhattan.

She also just released See Saw, her second album with guitarist Joe Bonamassa. Hopefully I will be reviewing it next week.

My review of her show at the City Winery has now been published on and you can check it out through this link --> Beth Hart @ City Winery

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Little Review of the Revue: Classic Soul

"Oh she may be weary
Young girls they do get weary
Wearing that same old Shaggy dress, yeah yeah
But when she gets weary
Try a little tenderness, yeah yeah"

Yeah, a little weary. Two weeks, five shows, two interviews, three states. A lot of preparation, a lot of writing, a lot of fun. While I finish up my official duties, just wanted to share a little about last night's show. But first, my review of Eric Burdon at the Highline Ballroom is now live over at Check it out by clicking... Eric Burdon Review.

Last night I was at BB King's Blues Club in Manhattan to see A Decade of Soul: Classic Soul and Motown Revue. I wasn't planning on doing a review, just going as a civilian for a change. But the show was so enjoyable and so well done, I thought I'd just give a little taste of it. And well, when it comes to sharing music, I can't help myself.

From the introduction when you could hear the opening notes of "Dancing in the Street," to the end of the show with "Stand by Me" as part of a medley, there wasn't one down minute. Anchored by Prentiss McNeil who spent 28 years with The Drifters and Bruce "Big Daddy" Wayne, one of Wilson Pickett's Midnight Movers, you also had Janelle Jones filling in for Aretha, Martha, Tina and the rest... quite wonderfully.

"Midnight Hour," "Try a Little Tenderness," "Proud Mary," even "Sex Machine," they ran the gamut from Smokey, to Stevie, to James Brown, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding and more... complete with a little dancing and one hell of a band.

It was a great show. While seeing the hot bands and the headliners is always fun, there is so much joy in just experiencing the music itself. The Revue featured very talented artists and how could you go wrong with the catalog of music they featured? The best times are often when you think outside the box. This was one of them.

How can you go wrong when you start a show with this...


Monday, May 20, 2013

Almost Showtime: A Preview

Just a little preview as to what's coming up this week. There are a couple of reviews of shows I have seen in the past week, one is Eric Burdon which should be published soon. Then there is a Beth Hart review which is being written now. I'll set up the links here as soon as they go live.

Now about the weekend. It was a road trip which included a show and an interview. So there will be an interview and a review coming on that too. The band was Survivor and the interview was with founding member and lead guitarist, Frankie Sullivan. It was a lot of fun, can't wait to get it all together.

Just a little note about the night. As we were waiting for the interview to start, we were backstage in basically a corridor. The walls were once white, but now were covered with the signatures of all the artists who have played at the Mohegan Sun. As a music nut, it was fascinating to look at the history. Everyone from Sheena Easton to Buddy Guy, Johnny Winter, Toto, the Outlaws, Robert Cray to Air Supply either signed or doodled on the wall. For me, standing there in the same spots of so many gifted musicians, gave me the chills.

I'll be back as soon as I get my stuff together, but in the meantime, here are a couple of photos from the show.

And on the Life blog, I wrote a little bit about the ride up to the Casino in a post titled "Road Trip Blues: A Diary for the Musically Inclined"

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Feeling Good with Nina Simone

This month has been filled with shows, reviews and interviews. Way too much going on at the moment, and while it's a lot of fun, there are only so many hours in the day. Alas, this music blog has suffered, for that I am sorry. Hopefully, I will get back to a few posts a week sooner rather than later.

Happy for me, this week's 100 Word Song Challenge is one of those tunes, I could not resist writing a little somethin' somethin'.

The choice this week is the incomparable Nina Simone. Everything she sings is exquisite, this song is no exception. "Feeling Good" is the inspiration for this little story, where the idea came from, I have no clue.

My 100 words...

Raye woke up on the wrong side of the bed, literally. For eight years Robert would have been on her left; but not this morning. And after last night, he would never be again.

The first sliver of morning light crept through the wooden blind. It was too late to go back, but early enough to claim a new day, a new life. For Raye, it was never about denial but rather her lack of embracing. As she watched  Aleah ‘s breasts slowly rise and fall with each breath, Raye felt she’d grown wings.

Now it was time to fly.

My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Brainstorming or Brain Dead: Either Way Some Good Music

Just a quick post. Even though I wasn't planning on writing a music blog this morning, sometimes they just write themselves.

Here's how it started. Watched a clip on youtube the other day, a trailer for the upcoming Beth Hart/Joe Bonamassa release. Let me tell you, that album is gonna blow it out of the park. Anyway it was a little tease of Beth doing Tina Turner's "Nutbush." Unbelievable. Watch it here.

Anyway, that song has been in my brain ever since, so I decided to tweet and post on FB the original by Tina and another version of her doing it 30+ years later. That's when the conversation began. One of my online friends Lance, creator of the 100 Word Song Challenge that I do quite often, replied that the weather where he lives in Atlanta was nasty and the song he was hearing in his head was "Flood" by Jars of Clay. And so it went.

So, here is the conversation... in song. Putting in all the videos, take a look.

"Ever wake up with a song bouncing around your brain. Yeah that."

"And half lifetime later, she still rocked it."

Lance answered with... it won't stop raining here so I woke up with this: 

Jars of Clay "Flood"

I replied "bummer,bout the rain.not the music. hopefully you won't be...lost in the flood."

Lance came back with "well, at least I don't live in Texas, although hanging w an alive Stevie Ray would've been worth the rain"

And it ended with me saying "well hell yeah. but you know he couldn't stand the weather...   damn I miss that man."

A fun conversation and some great music for a Sunday morning.
Hope it keeps bouncing around in your head.