Monday, February 20, 2017

New Releases Jan-Feb 2017 - My Favorite Cuts

Update Note for Monday, February 27th. I have added two songs from Rhiannon Giddens' new album called Freedom Highway.  Here is the entire Playlist (now 12 songs) if want continuous play.



I'd been waiting for the release of the new Ryan Adams album, Prisoner and thought I'd focus on that this week and then, literally got side-tracked after pouring through the past three issues of Rolling Stone Reviews. Anyway, I've been listening to all of these new albums just released and here's my favorite 10 that made this cut. If you click on the the album titles below, I have linked to their YouTube Playlist (if there is one for that album).

Prisoner, Ryan Adams

Ryan Adams gives me that sound that's just plugged into my DNA. Many boomers may have never heard of Ryan Adams as Prisoner is his 16th studio album, but once you hear him, you'll be hooked. Prisoner seems to have gotten the tag, "break up album" after his divorce last year from Mandy Moore.


To Be Without You, is a great song, I feel I'm listening to a new classic! I guess the best songs are always written from pain.


Near to the Wild Heart of Life, Japandroids. This is why I still read Rolling Stone, I would never have heard of these guys without the RS Review. If you like fast and loud, here you go.


Drunk, Thundercat. Stephen Bruner has that driving bass that I just love. Here he hooks up with a couple of the best for a little old school.


Highway Queen, Nikki Lane  Love the beat and her spunk!


Either/Or: Expanded Edition, Elliott Smith. First heard Elliott Smith through my daughter Shawna and her mix CD's she would make for me. The good die young.


Live in Paris, Sleater-Kinney. And now for a little Pacific Northwest sound.


Process, Sampha - The opening lyric "No one knows me like the piano in my mother's home" immediately got my attention to listen to this song a little deeper. Best line in a song I've heard for awhile.


Puxico, Natalie Hemby. Well, I'm leaving the best for last here if you are a faithful listener to what many would call,"Pure Country". Natalie Hemby is a singer-songwriter who has written many singles for many other country stars and Puxico is her first solo album and every track is a good story and ride.


As I was listening to the Puxico album playlist, This Town Still Talks About You came on and just kind of sent me over the edge. Tomorrow is February, 21st and marks the 14th anniversary passing of my hometown dear friend and buddy, Gary Hill. Since Gary's death in a small plane crash in 2003, another childhood friend, Steve Spencer also passed away this past January 8th, 2016. I spent many of my adolescence, teen years and early 20's with these two homies in my hometown of Santa Maria, California. A core nucleus of young lads formed a strong bond together from our Jr. High days, who were later joined by a host of young ladies and we all had a good time with these two characters. I say characters because they were loved by everyone for their personalities and love of life. You could say that Gary and Steve were often the light and sounds of any party. These two guys could just make you laugh and their spirit still lives within their friends and family who miss them dearly. Well, this song's timing is perfect for my soul and I hope it gives a little comfort and thought to my friends in our once little town.


New Releases Note - Here is the entire Playlist if want continuous play.

Monday, February 13, 2017

My Funny (unconventional) Valentine

The original 1937 My Funny Valentine song was staged in the Broadway musical, Babes in Arms as a woman singing to a man. However, many males from Frank Sinatra, Chet Baker to Sting have sung this song, but listen to the lyrics as I don't think it plays so well in 2017. If you're going to play a tune like this to your love, I would suggest, Just The Way You Are by Billy Joel.



In this next video, you'll see my point exactly from my comments above...


Dan Hicks, the master of satirical country swing. MK played me a couple of Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks albums on our first dates together in 1973 and I guess from my positive reaction, we were meant to be. Dan, you are missed!


Stephen Stills gave us all permission to not be so faithful. I guess this one came to him based on his experience with drugs, sex and rock n' roll.


But Simon and Garfunkel gave the ladies an all is fair in love with this one.


Now for some wedding musical comedy.


And, from marriage often comes the babies in the carriage.


Hey, this Valentine's myth is just getting old and the pressure that we all have to be coupled to preserve some religious plan, screw that.


Can't have enough Dan Hicks today!


Don't got it all figured out? Kacey says you're in good company.


Here's a fun love story song.


and maybe this is how the whole thing goes down in time.


Damn it Paul McCartney, you made me hum this song until I finally caved over the years and liked it! I'll let Kurt Hummel and Glee take us out with this one.


Here's My Funny (unconventional) Valentine Playlist.
Note - For some reason my Playlist would not embed in my blog this week, so I have broken them out in individual videos today.

Monday, February 6, 2017

"Doug's Music Vault" Radio- February 6, 2017

In past blogs I've talked about my general avoidance of most FM radio. For me, the only radio stations worth listening to in San Diego are KSDS Jazz 88.3 (from San Diego City College) and NPR/KPBS (from San Diego State University). Just like the old days, college radio still rocks and now streams on all devices. So for radio in the car,  I have these two great options on the radio preset buttons. But, I also have my third and personalized option, Doug's Music Vault* that resides in my 128GB Micro-SD Memory Card inside my smart phone. With Bluetooth built-into the car audio system, I start my Amazon Music Player- set to- Music Offline- Shuffle All Songs and I'm ready to ease on down the road with Doug Radio.

With MK in the car, it's a completely different experience as she tells me, "skip, no, no, no, yes", as I hit the forward  > button on my steering wheel like a B.F. Skinner behavior modification experiment from the 1950's. With MK, it usually takes several skips before the shuffle comes up with something she likes and the world is again spinning in perfect harmony as we travel together in the car. (The picture above meets her approval as anything by the Eagles gets a play.) We are going on a road trip to Bishop, CA in the near future and I'm anticipating this rhythm as we hit the road with my, or should I say, our tunes. C'mon man, my left thumb is going to get a work out as I wear that button out.

Anyway, here are some of the songs this past week from listening to Doug Radio (solo) in the car and featured here for your listening enjoyment in this YouTube Playlist.



*Footnote - Doug's Music Vault name is inspired by Wolfgang's Vault - I started listening to 60's concerts from the Vault website until like some many sites, became a bait and switch to subscription service.

Wolfgang's Vault was started by William E. Sagan, who purchased a warehouse filled with Bill Graham Productions memoribilia in 2003, including taped concert recordings, for about $6 million. These materials had various owners after the death of Bill Graham, the concert promoter, in 1991. The name Wolfgang's Vault is inspired by Bill Graham's original name, Wolodia "Wolfgang" Grajonca.

The company launched its website in November 2003. Later that year, Wolfgang’s Vault released the BG Archive photography collection, and subsequently added collections called "vaults" for: vintage poster art, rock clothing, vintage audio concert recordings. The Video Vault was added in 2011. On August 7, 2012, Wolfgang's Vault announced to its free streaming service users, via email, that later converted to a subscription based model on August 8, 2012. - from Wikipedia

Monday, January 30, 2017

Our Democracy and Takin' It To The Streets


I came across the above post as I was preparing to write my music blog for this week. Click on the link above to get a
Katie & Shawna marching in San Diego
slice of pure Americana angst and humor as people express themselves during the January 21st, Women's March on Washington and cities around the country and world. The March will go down in history as the kick-off of the Trump resistance movement that will eclipse anything seen in the Tea Party movement after Barrack Obama was sworn into office in January, 2009. Conservatives are saying, "Where were these people during the election?" Well, they happen to be correct about this point and a point well-made of our nation's complacency and detachment towards our issues and elections. Even when the stakes were this high as Trump emerged in 2015-16, an overall majority of American's (excluding working-class white voters) didn't think this election would drive off that cliff until FBI Director, James Comey gave Trump a 3 point bump in the final weeks of the election. By then, it was too late and as a Democrat, you have to hand it to the smaller numbered and better organized Republican's for kicking our ass, yet again despite our larger but sitting-on-our-hands numbers. And all other extenuating events aside, we as Americans all have to take responsibility for this historic loss. Yes, I know this is a music blog but don't worry, I'm getting there...
 
As a 1955 baby-boomer, I grew up ten years after World War II and through the Vietnam War years. By Richard Nixon's second inauguration, in January 1973, I was a senior in high school as many other young Americans had become seasoned mobilized marchers for minorities and women's equal rights and against, the war in Vietnam. And the just-elected President, "Tricky Dick" Nixon saw the marching demonstrators 100,000 strong the day before the start of his second term.

It is always said, that as Americans, we always respond as a strong united front when things really turn bad. I think as a nation, we hit that point once again in Trump's first week in office. Of all the pictures from the signs from the Women's March on Jan. 21, this is my favorite as it speaks volumes to me as an American who grew up watching big city protest marches from my small town TV set. The Women's March brought together at least three generations of women as grandmothers, moms and daughters all marching together. I'm just so encouraged by the large numbers of women and men protesting together and feeling this is indeed a sustaining movement that is bringing out both younger and older people alike.

For the younger, I personally was inspired by LA singer MILCK and her song, Quiet that she used to rally a group of women together to sing at the Women's March. I love how she took her song to the streets here -


For the older, the Women's March on Washington also got me playing the the Doobie Brothers 1976 hit, Takin' It To The Streets in my head. I also remember Michael McDonald, James Taylor and a host of 70's hit makers singing it here at the 1979 protest concert for No Nukes (MUSE). Below, I'll leave you with the Doobie Brothers doing the song themselves back in the day when Michael had black hair. I've always loved this song and I'm happy to share it with anyone today mad as hell about the daily Trump shit show and needing a little Monday pick up to say a little, "hooray for our side". Signs show us there's going to be a lot of marching in the streets in the days and months ahead, so we better all just put on our running shoes and say, "Game On" for hopefully the short run of one Donald J. "malignant narcissist" Trump.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Game On

Since last Friday, I've been playing in my head, Game On by The Rides with Stephen Stills on lead vocals. I hark back to Stephen's song, For What It's Worth, about the Sunset Strip riots in 1966 and the feeling that LA City Government was restricting young people's rights through a 10 pm curfew on the Strip. However, For What It's Worth, released in 1967 by Buffalo Springfield was often viewed of as a Vietnam War protest song. For me, it was the dawn of a political awakening beginning in 7th grade and a song I never tire of listening to. Anyway, Game On is my new theme song for our current national leadership and government as I go around singing, "Get your game on" as the news plays out on my flat screen. Thanks Stephen, you rock as always!






Monday, January 16, 2017

Have an IPA with your IPA

When one (me) thinks of IPA, it is India Pale Ale. San Diego County is a national leader in the micro brew industry and I'm proud of our West Coast IPA's. So, the other day, while drinking a couple of IPA's, I came up with this blog title as MK and I were playing with our new Christmas present to ourselves. This would be our Intelligent Personal Assistant (IPA), otherwise known as the Amazon Echo with the personal aka, "Alexa."

The other night we had our friend, Mark Hunter over for dinner and after a few IPA's (the beer kind), we showed him our current favorite game of, "Alexa, play Seinfeld Trivia." We also jumped into asking Alexa about music. Mark is currently learning the 1965 song (with his band The Waits), You Were On My Mind, by the We Five. So, Mark asked, "Alexa, play You Were On My Mind by We Five." The song comes on and smiles all around.

So I realize as I'm writing this it's probably going to sound like a free advertisement for Amazon; something they really don't need as the Amazon Echo did quite well and in fact sold out during the holiday season.  Anyway, we are having a blast with this IPA as the market continues to grow with these products and is probably the little canary before we get an IPA robot someday off in the future. I can't wait to get "James the Butler" for Christmas in 2020 something.

For music, we also dressed up Alexa a bit by purchasing Amazon Music Unlimited for $79.00 a year if you are an Amazon Prime member. At first, I balked at the price, but after purchasing, it was a smart move for us because now we have unlimited streaming music on several devices: our computers, phones with Bluetooth in the car and of course, Alexa. For the car, I downloaded the Amazon Music Unlimited app for my smartphone and can choose between my extensive Offline music collection on my phone and not eat into my data minutes, or stream any Online Playlist I want to. For the Echo (and I recommend the sound of the Echo vs the smaller Amazon Dot), Alexa is strategically placed on a table that is located by the bottom of our stairs. This is almost the center of our up and downstairs house, where Alexa is in earshot from almost any location in the house. While writing this on my computer upstairs, I asked "Alexa, play We Five," and she responded by giving me a mix of their music, until you simply say, "Alexa, pause or Alexa stop."

Anyway, I hope to tap into a lot of old and new music this year drinking IPA's and using the Echo which may lead to some random Monday Monday Music blog. I leave you with my We Five Playlist.


Monday, January 9, 2017

Timothy B. Schmit and Jack Tempchin at the Coach House, 1/7/17 and Glenn smiling down

MK got us tickets for Timothy B. Schmit and Jack Tempchin last Saturday night at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano, CA. We had never been there before as this venue opens at 6pm for people with reserved seats and general admission walk-in's. The Coach House serves dinner before the show as people come in to sit down at long row tables that are 24" deep. When you sit down, you realize that the two people (typically strangers) sitting across from you are going to be sharing a small space in a very up close meal with probable conversation. You wonder who are these people sitting across from you, but the close proximity forces you to quickly engage in conversation as you literally have to be a cooperative group just to lay the food and drinks out on your little table together.

MK and I had the pleasure to sit across and meet Michael and Cindy Langdon who happen to be neighbors of Jack Tempchin in Encinitas. Well that quickly got the conversation going as it was going to be awhile before the show started at 8pm. The food and service at the Couch House were fabulous by the way, in what I was thinking was straight out of a mid-west community tradition of combining food, conversation and music. Anyway back to our evening pairing, Michael Langdon is the wine buyer for Whole Foods in Encinitas and told us how he met Jack, became friends and helped him develop a brand of wine from his most famous song, Peaceful Easy Feeling the monster hit for the Eagles and sung by Jack's old friend and writing collaborator, Glenn Frey. Here is a LA Times article, Peace in a Bottle that tells the whole story as Michael told us on Saturday night. Here are the links to South Coast Winery in Temecula, CA and their Peaceful Easy Feeling Cabernet Sauvignon and Peaceful Easy Feeling Chardonnay.

Here's Jack singing at Whole Foods and Michael Langdon appears left of the screen 
as I'm assuming he organized this event at the Encinitas store.



Now, on with the show at the Coach House. Jack was the opening act of the evening and began his solo set with the same guitar pictured above. He told great stories of writing songs with Glenn Frey and then proceeded to sing them with single acoustic clarity. He also sang a song from a tribute album that is coming out soon of songs Glenn and Jack have written together, including several unrecorded songs. Jack deeply misses his friend. The fans at the Couch House were touched, I certainly was touched as we approach Glenn's passing almost one year ago on January 18th. Jack Tempchin simply belongs to the city (San Diego) and he belongs to our night. Man, I was enjoying this evening and Timothy hadn't even come out yet.

And then he did, with his wonderful band. The Couch House was packed full of hard core Eagles' fans who know this man's history back to Poco. We were altogether on Saturday night, the fans, the people of Southern California who grew up on country rock. We had come to see a native son from Sacramento who helped define an era. But, Timothy B. Schmit is not about the past, he embraces his roots as he crafts new music. His new album, Leap of Faith was selling well in the lobby (MK was all over it, t-shirt too). By the way, does this man look 69 years old to you? Timothy's voice was simply amazing as always as the fantastic sound of the Coach House piped out pure harmonies from the band. Pretty good for someone who battled throat and neck cancer in 2012 and now has a clean bill of health. Let's keep thinking good thoughts for Timothy! As he was the concern of the Eagles and their fans just a few years ago, nobody envisioned Glenn Frey's death. During the set, Timothy sang and played, Tequila Sunrise solo acoustic guitar. The woman next to MK was openly sobbing, my eyes and many others welled up too. I thought of Glenn smiling down on his buddies Jack and Timmy still making fresh new music. As I listen to Leap of Faith as I write this, I feel blessed for the communal experience of Saturday night with the music and the fans at the musical church known as the Couch House in San Juan Capistrano.

Timothy returns to the Couch House January 11th (Sold out) and January 24th at the Belly Up Tavern (Sold out). Here is his current tour schedule.

Here's Timonty B. Schmit's new album on YouTube. Go buy Leap of Faith here. Enjoy my friends!


Monday, December 26, 2016

My Favorite Songs 2016

I have been working on this playlist for several months now as I've been adsorbing the wonderful music of 2016. I'm trying to avoid the very subjective word of Best and stay with an eclectic group of my favorite 50 songs which for the most part, probably gets little to no air play on the radio. The beautiful thing about services like YouTube, Amazon Music, Spotify and iTunes is that we get to make our own playlists and essentially make our own personalized radio these days.

Now I don't claim to have listened to every album recorded this past year, but I've listened to at least 50+ different albums as they were either released, or started to appear on lists like Rolling Stone, etc. If you follow Monday Monday Music, you're going to get a young and old mix of rock 'n roll, Blues and Americana music, so this list should sound familiar if not flipping fantastic!

With the wonderful world of YouTube, I usually can listen (and watch) an artist's entire new album of songs. This kind of gets me back to my roots of listening to entire albums and then naturally experiencing which songs will be short or long-term favorites.

Here is my short list of my top five favorite albums of 2016.

1. Tedeschi Trucks Band - Let Me Get By
This album didn't make any music critics list that I found, so I guess I'm doing something right or at least different. Derek Trucks is my current guitar hero (Gary Clark Jr. too). I got to see Susan, Derek and their wonderful band this year in San Diego and what a show! These guys have the old school rockin' blues full sound of, shall I say, Derek and the Dominoes or a Leon Russell ensemble. I start the playlist with the 2016 Anyhow song/video from Derek Trucks and the band. I end the playlist with Derek Trucks playing with Eric Clapton in 2007 in the 2016 release of Eric Clapton Live in San Diego!

2. Mudcrutch 2
If you love Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers with a twist of old school country rock, welcome back to 1970. Mudcrutch is the early terrible name for the original Tom Petty band before the Heartbreakers. Tom brings together the original line up with all the band members that started together in Gainesville, Florida. This is a fantastic album with the best album cover of 2016!

Also, If you love Tom Petty and are doing some holiday couch surfing, catch - Runnin' Down a Dream (4 hour Documentary) on Netflix.


3. Colvin and Earle - When two of your favorite musician's get together and make an album, you want it to be as good as this album. I wasn't disappointed and the first time I heard it, (thanks Ken Forman) I couldn't believe how all the originals and covers sounded. This is an Americana dream album made in heaven, well probably, somewhere around Tennessee.






4. Van Morrison - Keep Me Singing
Again, the first time I heard this album, I keep saying to myself, that's a really good song, hey that's a good song too, on and on. Let It Rhyme is as fine a song as Van Morrison has ever written. This album is so well-crafted as the master continues to produce a batch of fresh songs.





5. Jack White - Acoustic Recordings 1998–2016
Jack is one of those musicians that just grow on you. So what better album to get as your first Jack White than this one. I just loved how Jack White strips everything down to the raw essential heart of the matter. His song writing and playing is pure storytelling in the finest tradition. We're Going to Be Friends is in my opinion, one of the purest songs ever written and he delivers it here in singular clarity.

Go buy this album, hell go buy all five of these albums.

Okay, now that was just the warm up. From good albums, come really good songs. I've picked my favorite 50 from 2016 to share with you today.

Happy New Year!!! I'll be back in 2017 on consecutive or random Mondays, whatever strikes me to put something down in this little blog. Enjoy my friends.



Monday, December 19, 2016

Remembrance 2016

Come together right now over me
                                     John Lennon

December is a time to reflect and remember. I remember December 8, 1980, the day John Lennon was shot and killed in New York City. It was my first year of teaching in a very intense special education class for children with severe multiple disabilities. I believe one of my classroom assistant's had quit and I then had a series of long-term substitutes for awhile. One fellow, (who for the life of me I can't remember his name) was a struggling musician who had various part-time jobs. We had been working together a couple of weeks and often talked about music and bands we loved. As I recall, this really wonderful guy came to work in my class the morning of December 9th and hadn't heard about the shooting. Now, I can't remember his name, but I'll never forget the look on his face and breakdown when I told him that John Lennon had been shot in front of his apartment building, The Dakota and died. In the days following, many news outlets and public mourning activities in Central Park would play, Come Together as John couldn't have possibly imagined this scene and the context of this song being used to actually bring people together over his tragic death. Like millions, I took John's death hard. I was 25 and not too many of my own loved ones had yet died in my first quarter century.

Today, I still take some musicians passing with a bit of a jolt. These wonderful artists have been in our hearts and minds for so many years, they touched us and we shall never forget the impact they had on us. I know older people in especially smaller towns will scan the obituaries in their daily local paper to see if an old friend or acquaintance has died. I guess for music I get a similar experience when my Rolling Stone phone app pops up to tell me this kind of news. 

2016 has been an exceptionally hard as many giants of music have passed this year. I went to this web site, We Heart Music and got the monthly list to prepare for this blog. I like their across the board approach as they acknowledge many lesser know artists in the music business.

As I get older myself, I'm sure this might be an annual blog on my part. At the Grammy's and Oscar's I now always get a bit teary-eyed when they do their annual remembrance segment. The beautiful thing about people in the arts is that we have their performances preserved in various media formats that we can enjoy again and again.

Here, I've embedded a memorable track under each artist.

Happy eggnog and wishing you a healthy year and as Glenn would say, "Take it Easy."

2016 Remembrance

January
1/10 - David Bowie, 69



1/18 - Glenn Frey, 67 (Eagles)



1/28 - Paul Kantner, 74 (Jefferson Airplane)



February
2/6 - Dan Hicks, 74 (Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks)



March
3/8 - George Martin, 74 (Beatles Producer Extraordinaire, "The 5th Beatle")



3/10 - Keith Emerson, 74 (Emerson, Lake and Palmer)



April
4/6 - Merle Haggard, 79



4/21 - Prince, 57



June
6/3 - Mohammad Ali, 74 ("Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee")



6/28 - Scotty Moore, 84 (Elvis Presley's lead guitar player)



July
7/24 - Marni Nixon, 86 (Best known for dubbing the singing voices of the leading actresses in films, including The King and I, West Side Story, and My Fair Lady.



August
8/11 - Glenn Yarbrough, (The Limeliters)



September
9/1 - Fred Hellerman, 89 (The Weavers (Fred on Guitar),
Fred also produced Alice's Restaurant for Arlo Guthrie)



November
11/7 - Leonard Cohen, 82



11/13 - Leon Russell, 74



December
12/7 - Greg Lake, 69 (Emerson, Lake and Palmer)


Monday, December 12, 2016

Christmas Time Mix 2016

I wanted to start this blog off with a lovely gift I found for myself on the Internet wires this past week that I would like to share with you as well. If you're a faithful reader of this blog, you know I use YouTube as my musical engine to craft an unique playlist for each Monday Monday Music. Lately, it appears that the good folks at YouTube have been ramping up the ads. I don't have stats on this, but it seems you get about 2-3 ads for every 10 videos you play. This has kind of put a damper on my playlists by just the sheer number of commercials you have to endure or quickly delete with the Skip button (if the ad has a skip button).

Well I have a computer solution that seems to be working quite well. It is an extension for the Chrome Browser called, Block YouTube Ads - Skip Right to the Video! So first, you need to be using the Chrome Browser and if not, download Chrome here.

Next, go to the Chrome Store by going directly the
Block YouTube Ads - Skip Right to the Video! link here. Then, click on the ADD To CHROME button. After installing, I got an ad from YouTube a few minutes in. So, I restarted my computer and after viewing over 100 music videos the past couple of days (does this guy have a life), I've had only 3 ads. Now that's a much better ratio to tolerate. Anyway, I've been giving it a go and here is another test I did. I opened up my now rarely used Firefox browser and went to the new Rolling Stones album playlist, Blue and Lonesome on YouTube. There are 12 new tracks here of wonderful Chicago Blues covers that the Stones do very well (and Mick kicks it on harmonica)! Anyway, I got two ads using Firefox in the Blue and Lonesome Playlist and then went back to Chrome and got zero ads playing the same linked playlist. Success!

Update 12/18/16 - My friend, Alex Dominguez told me of another Chrome extension he uses called uBlock Origin (install here). Now remember this only works with the Chrome Browser. Anyway, I installed it last week, and with the combination of these two blocking ads extensions, I've had zero ads! 

from Ugly Christmas Sweater.com
I understand, free means enduring ads but online services like YouTube just seem to keep pushing it to the limit. So, this little free extension is my little push back. Speaking of commercial, it is temping to buy this Festivus sweater. Isn't it especially fun to watch Seinfeld at the holidays, I know Frank Costanza is yelling right now somewhere on cable.

Now on to the playlist. This is my second Christmas Time Mix (CTM) and hope to make this an annual tradition. John Williams' Carol of the Bells is the only original repeat as I plan to also make that a tradition of the CTM every year.  If you didn't catch my Christmas Time Mix 2015, here is the link.



My goal with the CTM is to collect an eclectic Americana spirit of traditional and non-traditional Christmas and winter time music. Enjoy my friends.

Happy Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa and Happy Festivus for the rest of us!


Monday, December 5, 2016

From Stockbridge to Boston

Now the first of December was covered with snow
So was the turnpike from Stockbridge to Boston 
The Berkshires seemed dream-like on account of that frosting 
With ten miles behind me and ten thousand more to go... 

from Wikipedia, Sweet Baby James (Song)
This of course is the very notable verse from James Taylor's famous song, Sweet Baby James. I had just included this song on My 100 List that I posted last week when I got an email from one of my loyal blog readers, Ron Ouellette. Ron is the father of Jeremy, my son-in-law to my step-daughter, the now just married, Alexandra Ouellette. Ron and I have been getting to know each other over the past couple of years and as the topic of music came up, well need I say more.

So Ron writes me an email (on December first) with the following line, "the 1st of December was covered with snow and so was the turnpike from Stockbridge to Boston. 'It has happened once that I can recall but it won't happen this year. Love that song!' "

Ron and his lovely wife Karen live in Londonderry, New Hampshire and represent the New England region well with their roots and support of the sport teams and music too. Recently, Ron gave me three CD's of lesser known bands I had never heard of before. It's always great to get new music and continue to expand my rock n' roll repertoire a bit more.

I've also been trying to expand my travel repertoire too, as I had never been to New York State, or for that matter, most of the eastern United States. This past October, I had an opportunity to speak at a Librarian's conference east of Syracuse and just off Interstate 90 in Vernon, New York. It is called the Leatherstocking Conference, referring to the region where James Fenimore Cooper lived in nearby Cooperstown and his famous book series called the Leatherstocking Tales about the frontier, including The Last of the Mohicans. So, from Syracuse, one takes Interstate 90 east through Albany and then south and east into Massachusetts and towards Stockbridge. In looking at a map yesterday, I realized the continuous Interstate 90 turns into the Massachusetts Turnpike from Stockbridge to Boston. Okay, I'm just trying to get a little more connected here with my recent visit east and James Taylor's turf.

The irony here is that I wasn't going to feature any other James Taylor songs in this week's playlist, but then I couldn't help myself as I sneak in another one. My real aim is to feature the lesser known artist's with the three CD's Ron gave me. I will however keep that theme going and end my playlist this week with Livingston Taylor who is James' lesser known brother, who by the way had success in the 70's too.

The first band is The Alternate Routes from Bridgeport, Connecticut  (and yes, extending the New England connection). Ron gave me their 2007 album, Good and Reckless and True. I love this band and want to explore them more as I venture into their catalog.

Next up is Eric Bibb, born in New York (see I got that in there again too), who is an acoustic Blues singer-songwriter. Eric Bibb has grown on me the more I listen to his 1999 CD, Home to Me and listen to him on YouTube. After making this week's playlist, I'm a fan.

and then, Vintage Trouble, a R&B band from Los Angeles, CA and why do I not know this? I would love to see these guys in a bar, just seems that alcohol would be involved. I've been listening to the 2015 CD, 1 Hopeful Road and enjoy their videos too.

Lastly, Livingston Taylor, currently a faculty member of the Berklee College of Music, in Boston. Livingston and I once had long sandy brown curly hair, take care my friends.


Sunday, November 27, 2016

My 100 Songs

Okay, this took awhile to finish. I started this in August of 2015, got busy, dropped it, picked it up again and now finally finished. It's Thanksgiving weekend at my parent's house as I write this and I can't settle on this list of 100 to save myself. For the past few days, I add two, drop one, on and on.

My original intent was to make my personal version of Rolling Stone Magazine's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time with the knowledge that there is really NO TOP 100 or 500 rock 'n roll songs, it's all individual preference. What this comes down to is 100 songs that have a deep personal meaning to me (e.g. 'The Heart of the Matter'), or some long-term memory moment in time (e.g listening to 'Satisfaction' on my transistor radio in 1965 while wearing my steel metal roller skates). The trouble is, we all have too many moments to bottle in a 100,  but here I go anyway. Also, I have not rated my list, best 1-100 but there is a short starting point in time that quickly gets random.

The first album that I ever owned, I actually stole, The Beatles ‎– A Hard Day's Night (Original Motion Picture Sound Track). It was taken by me from my grandfather's record collection that I found in his wooden console record player at his house. I believe my dad told me he belonged to the Columbia Record Club and must have gotten this one thrown in as a bonus because I knew he didn't listen to it. I guess I'm explaining my childhood rationalization for stealing this album and even now feel I took it more as a need than a want. And boy, what an album it was, I'm listening to George Martin and won't know it until years later!

Playing records was something my parents never really did at our house, so this record was my start and made me feel that I was part of something different from my parents point of view. I'm actually visiting the childhood house now on Tunnell St. (Santa Maria, CA) where I started to play my own 45's and albums, in my room. I lived in a home where rock 'n roll was not embraced. I vividly remember my parents and church friends, The Reyburns, over at our old house on Sunset St. on a memorable Sunday evening. The parents were putting down The Beatles during their performance on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, as my brother, sister and I (along with the Reyburn children) were trying to tune the adults out and tune into the wonderful Beatles and their screaming fans on our black and white TV.

In 1967, my grandfather passed away and that wooden stereo console and his record collection, including Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra came to our house. I think like most American homes, the stereo console was off limits to the children, but we all sneaked our albums onto the best sound system in the house when our parents were gone. At a certain point, my parents gave up and so the console's vacuum tubes got heated up and were worn out by the early 70's. What a time, Buffalo Springfield on the stereo console and the Vietnam War live on the TV console. These two beasts of technology played across from each other in our converted garage family room with our new indoor/outdoor blue/green carpet.

From junior high 1966, music was a big part of my friends lives and thus became a big part of my life. As I moved into high school and through college, there were the larger than life bands, the break-ups, the new bands, the new single artist's, all with the blending of acoustic, electric and American musical genres. From the car radios, the new portable stereo systems and the concert experiences, music was right there for all my friends and me. Today, we still never stop talking about all the music- old and new. Here in this playlist, you are going to hear mostly 60's and 70's songs that I bonded with and are a part of me today. I'm sure if you read my blog on a regular basis, there are more than a few songs here that have always stayed with you too.

 As I write this, it's starting to rain right now and that's also a good memory for us in California too. The old forced-air heater has just whirled on and it's time for some Thanksgiving pie for breakfast. Take care my friends.


Monday, November 7, 2016

1964, 2016 All the Way

So last Saturday night, I watched the HBO film, All The Way starring the brilliant Bryan Cranston as Lyndon Johnson. The film begins with the Kennedy assignation and Johnson becoming President. As he moves into 1964, Johnson is determined to pass Kennedy's Civil Rights Act and secure his re-election in 1964. I implore you to watch All The Way on HBO GO or DVR before the 2016 presidential election on Tuesday. I'd been meaning to watch it for weeks, but the timing couldn't be better as a must see just before the most important presidential election of our lifetime. Why? Because history is the friend that repeats itself. I couldn't help but transpose the events of 1964 and preventing black people from voting in the South with the current voter suppression tactics still happening in the South in 2016.

The film also breaks down presidential elections which Johnson emphatically describes as, "war." The Goldwater vs Johnson election had two very contrasting choices as the film shows maybe the most powerful political message ever shown on television with the little girl and nuclear bomb ad. As I watched the ad in the movie, I couldn't help but think of our current contrast of candidates between Trump and Clinton and people's fear of Trump's access to the nuclear codes.


So what has this to do with music? Well, there is a scene in the film where Lyndon's youngest daughter, Luci walks past her dad in a White House hall and he stops her with his aides in tow to ask her how she is doing. In the scene, Luci is holding the 1964 album, Meet The Beatles in her arms. Now that struck me how father and daughter are living in the same big house in two very different worlds. The Beatles have landed in America and America is erupting with racial inequality, demonstration and violence. Another scene also grabs me, this time with the Republican Senator, Everett Dirksen and Johnson cajoling him into an eventual compromise to support the 1964 Civil Rights Bill. I'm intrigued by this as our past political leaders demonstrate how real leaders worked together to try to solve our countries problems. Back in the day, Dirksen and Johnson and even Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill didn't have to like each other, but they knew they had to work together to accomplish anything meaningful. I have this hope that we can reclaim some of that old time statesmanship with our future leaders and continue to move our country forward. 

All the while, we have music to soothe our souls. Here's a little 1964/2016 playlist to start your Monday as maybe a little distraction with our very important Tuesday. Please vote. Take care my friends and soak in the sounds. 


Monday, October 31, 2016

Head colds and Werewolves

Sorry, not much of blog to write this week as I'm laying low with a horrific head cold. I'm feeling a bit like a werewolf so here's a little Happy Halloween from the late great Warren Zevon.




Monday, October 17, 2016

Disruptive innovation and taking my Kodachrome away


In May 1973, Paul Simon released There Goes Rhymin' Simon one month before my high school graduation. As mentioned in previous blogs, my good friend, Paul Hobbs, purchased this album and I went over to his house to listen to it like with so many other albums. I loved Rhymin' Simon so much that I in fact, purchased it myself shortly after and continued to burn that vinyl record out during my college years.

My next door neighbor at the time (also previously mentioned in my blogs) was Ron Zieman. In the early 60's his family had moved from Rochester, New York as his dad, Ray was selected by his employer, Eastman Kodak to work at Vandenberg Air Force Base. In 1965, my family moved next door to the Zieman's on Tunnell St. in Santa Maria, CA and started a long-time friendship that endures to this day. During my time with the Zieman family on Tunnell, I began to learn a little about Eastman Kodak as a powerhouse of American manufacturing, not knowing at the time, that the quiet mannered Mr. Zieman worked for Kodak with our Government developing cold war spy satellite technology against the Soviets. Back then, Kodak was literally everywhere.

From being a senior in high school, my girlfriend Mary Kit (also mentioned many times in my music blogs) bought me this very Minolta Hi-Matic F 35mm camera for Christmas in 1973. So as an American consumer, I graduated from buying Kodak Pocket Instamatic 110 cartridges to now buying Kodak 35mm film.

With the popularity of the hit single, Kodachrome which peaked at #2 on the Billboard Charts that June of '73 and with my new camera in hand, I started to buy Kodachrome film. As I began to experience photography, I learned of Kodachrome's color richness properties that made photographs a magical enhancement of real life. Kodachrome 25 and 64 became my go-to film rolls. I also learned that Kodachrome was very popular with professional photographer's. I thought maybe I could get a little closer to their art rubbing off on me by buying the film they used. An interesting fact to There Goes Rhymin' Simon is that Kodak made Columbia Records put the registered trademark symbol (®) after the song's title on the album cover. Paul Simon sold a lot of records with that song not to mention vast quantities of film he sold for Eastman Kodak to kids like me.

In 2003, I remember doing a photo shoot for my friend Bill with his wife and son in their sheep field on Vashon Island in Washington. I was using a Sony digital camera and remember going to the very small and only photographic shop on the island. I was going to get prints made of the shoot and brought in my digital photo card to upload in their new digital photo processor. We could pick out the digital shots we wanted and they would be developed into prints for later pick up. I will never forget the owner who was helping us and complaining the whole time how digital photo technology in general was terrible as nobody was buying film anymore. I remember thinking, this guy is a dinosaur and wondered how long he was going to be in business with his attitude and the changing times. A year or two later, when I was back on the island, I remember looking at that shop as we drove by, it was now a clothing store.

Several weeks ago, I was in my car listening to NPR's Marketplace with Kai Ryssdal as he was doing a story on Kodak and Rochester in a continuing series called, How the Deck is Stacked and this segment titled, Rochester looks to rebuild from the rubble, Can manufacturing save America?. This broadcast caught my attention on two fronts, one, my association with the Zieman's and Kodak and two, I was scheduled to speak at the Leatherstocking Library Conference about 120 miles east of Rochester outside of Syracuse in Vernon, New York. The report was fascinating describing the heyday of the Kodak Park facility in Rochester employing 30,000 local residents.

“You didn’t even have to go to college. You got out of high school and went to Kodak, Delco, Rochester Products, Xerox, Bausch and Lomb and you made $20 an hour. Back in the day, you got out of school, and you could be 18 and move off on your own into an apartment. Today? These kids today? If you don’t have college, those top companies are just not here anymore. My youngest daughter did it the hard way. She found out without college here, there’s only $13-an-hour jobs. If that. She’s still at home, 31, but back to school now to get that degree to get out on her own. There was an article in the paper this past weekend, ‘Oh, middle class America, so many jobs are coming back,’ $12 to $15 an hour. Like, what are you gonna do with $12 to $15 an hour? You cannot live on your own.” from NPR


The NPR piece on Rochester got me thinking about Eastman Kodak and the concept of Disruptive Innovation. "A disruptive innovation is an innovation that creates a new market and value network and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network, displacing established market leading firms, products and alliances. The term was defined and phenomenon analyzed by Clayton M. Christensen beginning in 1995. In the early 2000s, "signi´Čücant societal impact" has also been used as an aspect of disruptive innovation." from Wikipedia

The demise of the former Eastman Kodak is quite astounding for the fact that Kodak invented the digital camera, yes drum roll... in 1973. I don't expect you to read all my links, but this link just above from the New York Times by James Estrin is a must read and the big idea to this blog. 

Go ahead, you have the time.

Okay, you read the article, so the irony should not be lost on you or me taking photographs of my still intact Minolta Hi-Matic camera above, and my family's vintage Eastman Kodak Folding Autographic Camera below, with my very digital smart phone.



Kodak and their wonderful products like Kodachrome, represent America as the innovative and creative company that helped build this great nation. I'm dismayed when our current political rhetoric reverts back to the glory days of America; yes, we have created and built great things in our history, but it really doesn't need to be beaten into us with fear. Instead, I'm always inspired by our national spirit, not to be longing for the old days and old ways, but moving forward to new days with new technology and products to help us along the journey. Rochester is the story of American manufacturing. Now, how will Rochester and the nation engage our young people to be successful in today's economy? How will our education system create learning innovations to seed new American product innovations in our country?

Here, I'll return to There Goes Rhymin' Simon and Paul's timeless classic, American Tune. The 1973 song speaks of many things gone wrong in the United States at the time. For me during that time, it was social unrest, the Vietnam War and my uncertainty for my future. I was also learning as a young person that life was getting harder for many Americans. I then, in 1973 and now in 2016 take solace as Simon ends the song with-

Still, tomorrow's going to be another working day

And I'm trying to get some rest

That's all I'm trying to get some rest. 

As American's, we have the freedom to let our music sing the truth, we get knocked down, but have the ability to get back up and make our way. As life always balances with things old and new, we can take our adaptive spirit and build upon our new innovations.

As you begin your Monday working day, I wish for you a creative and productive day. Here's a three song playlist from There Goes Rhymin' Simon to start it off.



Monday, October 10, 2016

Springtime for Donald

This past Saturday, MK and I saw The Producers a Mel Brooks Musical at the Spreckels Theater in San Diego. The audience loved the show as we continually laughed our way through this musical romp. Brooks, a Jewish World War II veteran proves the pen is mightier than the sword and skewers Hitler like no other. As I was watching and thinking about the same 1968 classic movie from which the play is adapted, I couldn't help but think about our current political climate. I started to imagine a new Broadway production with the working title of Springtime for Donald.

After coming home from the play, I caught SNL and their latest comedy sketch with Alec Baldwin as The Donald, very funny. This past couple of days, with the daily Donald news of the moment- this time the Billy Bush (so ironic) interview for Access Hollywood, I realized, comedy always pulls us through. After listening to fear mongering tools like Rudy Giuliani as now a Trump surrogate, you can start to mentally put the cast of characters together including Chris Christie as one of the Blue Meanies (from Yellow Submarine).  Of course the star would be Trump already lampooned in various sightings across the country as The Naked Donald.

As a citizen and typically apolitical blog writer, I'm actually very scared that this self-serving egomaniac could actually be elected as our President. So thank you Mel Brooks, John Oliver, Samantha Bee and SNL for making me laugh when the Blue Meanie's of the world are trying to scare the hell out of us and Make America White Again. And now, think of a future Trump musical comedy with Mel's famous send up, Springtime for Hitler and be sure to read the first verse.


Springtime for Hitler 

Germany was having trouble
What a sad, sad story
Needed a new leader to restore
Its former glory
Where, oh, where was he?
Where could that man be?
We looked around and then we found
The man for you and me
Where, oh, where was he?
Where could that man be?
We looked around and then we found
The man for you and me!


Thank you Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder and Kenneth Mars