Monday, September 18, 2017

Eric Clapton, Part II - the long run

I start this with a sub-blog that I'll call,
'Legends with Laryngitis' thinking back to October 19, 2016. MK and I had flown into Las Vegas the day before like thousands of other Rolling Stones fans to see "the boys" at the new T-Mobile Arena. As luck would have it, Mick told reporters, "I've got bad laryngitis. I do apologize to everyone who bought tickets." You see, the Stones had just finished their gig at Desert Trip 2016 a.k.a. "Oldchella" where Mr. Jagger first picked up the tickle in the warm desert air. Unfortunately for us, that show was cancelled outright and not to be made up as the Stones were rolling along on their world tour, as I believe Foxborough, Mass. and then Germany were next up at the time.

Then, my birthday present from MK on March 25, 2017 and the Eric Clapton "short" tour at the LA Forum. Eric had just finished a two night engagement at Madison Square Garden and had developed SEVERE BRONCHITIS cancelling the LA shows and rescheduling for this past Wednesday, September 13, 2017. Well now, I'm starting to take this personally.

Next Legend, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, on August 19, 2017. Now third time's the charm as MK and I are crossing our fingers as Tom is on this massive 40th Anniversary Tour and we are praying to Clapton (is god) that the rock 'n' roll heavens can't do this laryngitis/bronchitis thing again to our bucket list plans. Well, the show happens on schedule! Tom and the Heartbreakers were absolutely fantastic and we had a wonderful time. Then a couple of days later I read this on my phone, “As Tom Petty heals from laryngitis and bronchitis, additional changes are required for the remainder of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers’ Bay Area & Sacramento performances. We share this news with regret, but Tom’s doctor has advised Tom to take additional days off before performing."

What the... we just made that Safco Stadium show in Seattle by the skin of our teeth! Tom did make up those shows, but as Jerry Seinfeld said to Uncle Leo-

Jerry Seinfeld: C'mon, you're lucky to have anybody.

Uncle Leo: Last week you told me I was in my prime, I should be swinging.

Jerry Seinfeld: Swinging? What are you, out of your mind? Look at you, you're disgusting. You're bald, you're paunchy, all kinds of sounds are emanating from your body twenty-four hours a day. If there's a woman that can take your presence for more than ten consecutive seconds, you should hang on to her like grim death. Which is not far off, by the way.

So as of this writing, Mick, Eric and Tom are fine (I'm sure) but their touring days are indeed numbered. But as I write that line, I'm thinking of Mick as the 'energizer bunny' and maybe I still have a shot at the Stones.

And one last thing about laryngitis, or sounding that way. I saw this past week that Bob Dylan's going back out on tour again with his "Never Ending Tour." I miss Bob's voice, maybe a lesson for young singers/musicians not to smoke and mess with the most beautiful instrument you're born with. Smoking is like the lottery. You can be rarely lucky like Eric Clapton (who wonders why he is even still alive). He kept his singing voice while smoking his whole life (not to mention the drugs and alcohol), or you can sound like Joni Mitchell, Stephen Stills and Bob Dylan to name a few of my heroes after a lifetime of smoke. Sorry, the parent in me still sometimes comes out.

Now, let's get back to Eric and that September 13th make up show at the Fabulous Forum that MK and I just saw this past Wednesday.

Here's my smartphone shot as MK and I are seated center back, just up from the floor, thanks love. I'm using this picture to kick off Part II of Eric Clapton and if you missed my last week Monday Monday Music, here is the link to, Eric Clapton, Part I - god and hippy heaven. In Part I, I go into my youth (again?) and Clapton as the quintessential guitar god of my generation notwithstanding Jimi Hendrix, who died 47 years ago today at the young age of 27. Anyway, the show is billed as A Celebration of 50 Years of Music that goes back to Cream in 1967, and I couldn't wait to hear him do Sunshine of your Love as it's part of the setlist, and a little piece of my youth. Sadly, that didn't happen, as he cut it from the encore, but that's ok, I have it on this week's playlist from the Cream 2005 reunion at the Royal Albert Hall.

But, and I say "but" in a good way, Part II of Eric Clapton's story has a lot of acoustic guitar that he features heavily in the middle set of the show. These latest shows are actually a real blessing for the faithful as Eric's recent diagnosis of peripheral neuropathy puts a dark cloud out there. But you would never know, as technically his electric and acoustic playing were sensational and as I said, Eric still has his wonderful singing voice, if only slightly diminished in volume. For me, the highlight was Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out from the 1992 Unplugged sessions. It's a song that speaks to all of us, but for Eric, after his heroin addiction and continued struggles with alcoholism for many years, divorces, and the tragic death of his 4 year old son, Mr. Clapton did indeed live the blues. All of this is covered in the upcoming Showtime documentary, Eric Clapton: Life in 12 Bars coming out in February, 2018.

I would agree with the NY Times review of the show in March, that the show was 'subdued.' The recent LA Times review is titled, Eric Clapton at the Forum: Was it dullness or was it bliss? I'm going to say both. If you grew up with Clapton, you felt that raw energy right there in the records, the way I feel about the opening act at last Wednesday's show, Gary Clark Jr. Gary just pulls you in with the power of his guitar and voice. This was my second time seeing Gary live, and I wanted more. For Eric, was it a great show? No, but a very good show. This was a performing goodbye and I thank him for the opportunity and bliss. And just remember back as Jack Bruce said at the end of the live Crossroads recording on Wheels of Fire, "Eric Clapton please." In this very long run, please there has been no one like him. Through rock, he became the most influential keeper of the blues for generations across the world through the airwaves and into our beating hearts.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Eric Clapton, Part I - god and hippy heaven

There's possibly nothing that I can write here that you don't already know about Eric Clapton. I'm going to just rely on my memory of those exciting early years between 1967-1974, the period that incompasses my junior and senior high years and the first year of community college for me.

Eric Clapton was born March 30, 1945 and I was born 10 years later (and almost to the day) on March 26, 1955. I bring that up because that is the heart of the baby boomer generation years. For all the rock 'n' roll stars born right after World War II, many got started in the early 1960's and by their early 20's were hitting a magical stride. Eric Clapton's early successes with the Yardbirds and John Mayall's Bluesbreakers set him up for starting Cream in 1966 and then, the release of Disraeli Gears in 1967 with Sunshine of Your Love in the Summer of Love. So, I'm in junior high in 1967 being a wanna be hippie and Eric Clapton is the coolest hippie (with all respect to Jimi Hendrix) on the planet. Notwithstanding Eric's guitar play along with a great singing voice, he had more hair styles and girl friends than anyone. A ten year age difference means nothing now, but the difference between the ages of 12 and 22 are a lifetime where small town adolescent dreams of being part of something bigger got a little squished while being forced to get a haircut and tuck in that shirt.

I'll move ahead to 1969 when Eric formed Blind Faith with Steve Winwood, Ginger Baker and Ric Grech. That album was released in August, 1969 and on August 16th, Blind Faith played the Earl Warren Showgrounds in Santa Barbara. On that night, two of my best friends, Ron Zieman and Paul Hobbs were being driven down the 70 miles to Santa Barbara from Santa Maria, CA by Paul's parents. My buddies were about to actually experience "that something bigger" that I was just referring to above. As Paul's parents dropped them off at the gate, I don't think Paul's or Ron's parents had a clue what their kids were about to see and hear. I spoke with Ron yesterday about this concert and he said, that neither Paul or he (and their friend Brian Punches who came with them) had a clue what they were about to experience. I have the audio of the show on my Youtube playlist for this week and the promoter starts by coming to the mic and pleading with crowd to not let any more gate crashers come into the Showgrounds. Ron recalls the evening by saying it was a transforming event for the boys. He remembers a guy with a brown paper bag sprinkling little paper tabs of acid throughout the crowd. The boys did not partake, but I understand brought some home for souvenirs; something you would hide in the bottom of your sock drawer and look at every now and then, just to take you back to those moments. So the air is heavy with pot smoke, people dancing and two girls right behind the boys take their tops off for the whole show. Yes, there is a god and he's on stage!

Back in 1969, I remember Ron telling me much of what he told me yesterday. I was so damn jealous as this wonderful story unfolded, how the band was fantastic and the people, it was... hippy heaven!

I remember camping with my parents on the Kings River around that time. I had just spent a week up at Hume Lake Christian Camp and then was back with my parents and siblings on a Kings River family vacation. There were hippies camping and hiking all around us. I remember walking back to our camp by the river trail and this 20 something hippy with long hair, beard, plaid shirt and backpack comes walking by me and says, in a friendly low voice, "howdy." Something very small, but a cool memory.

Eric then forms Derek and the Dominoes and releases Layla and other Assorted Love Songs in 1970. Bell Bottom Blues is one of my favorite songs and sign of the times. Then also in 1970, his first solo album, Eric Clapton, which has so many good people on it, such a great classic, including Let it Rain.

Then, the four year absence due to his three year heroin addiction. It's here as I'm getting a little older in 1974 and after reading about his addiction and purchasing 461 Ocean Boulevard that I realized this guy is very human, in fact fraught with frailties. I remember listening to this album in my bedroom, thinking this guy's getting back in the saddle again and he's clean and at the beach. But it's a different time, hippy heaven is over, I'm now in college and where have all the protests gone?  Hey, I have a real girlfriend, a car and I like this new Eric Clapton song, Let it Grow.

Fast forward, September 13, 2017 coming this Wednesday to the Fabulous Forum in Los Angeles is Eric Clapton with Jimmie Vaughan and Gary Clark Jr. I'm going and can't wait, and I've been waiting a long time to see this rock god. I'll let you know my thoughts, past and present in my Eric Clapton, Part II blog next week.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Seals and Crofts and the Tree of Oneness

Quick update 9/9/17 - Paul Hobbs my dear friend and a musical mentor to me requests adding Ridin' Thumb and Tin Town from Seals and Crofts 1970 album, Down Home to the Youtube playlist. I would listen to that album with Paul at his house in high school, so Pauly here you go...

I often get inspiration to write a blog after listening to a song by an individual artist or band. Such was the case last week on my trail run with my trusty Amazon Music Phone App set to online shuffle. The song, Year of Sunday by Seals and Crofts came on from their 1971 (and best album) of the same name. As is so often the case on my runs, I reflect about things and my mind was on Charlottesville and the division of hate spreading across our land. The Year of Sunday is a song that comes from Jimmy Seals and Dash Crofts practice in the Bahá'í Faith "a religion teaching the essential worth of all religions, and the unity and equality of all people."

Now I'm not a religious person but want to emphasise my own secular humanism and spirit in general has a spirituality that continually directs my inner compass. With that said, it doesn't mean that I can't connect with "religious music" or content, in fact I love many different traditional hymns and especially gospel music as essentially the roots to folk, the blues and on to rock n' roll.

So Year of Sunday comes on and a flood of memories and emotions come rushing over me as I played that album to death in high school, but also the current, and why are we still so divided as a nation over race?
We all live in the Year of Sunday
So many things are in store for us
Oh, what a gift to be born in
Sunday's beautiful light way down here in the dusk

People, return to the tree of oneness
Oh, won't you hurry the presence is there
Down on our knees in the darkness of Sunday
We'll find the answers to all of our prayers

So I'm listening to the lyrics and the line, " People, return to the tree of oneness" washes over me. Those are words to live by and guide me. I'm just one person but take great comfort in John Lennon's line, "but I'm not the only one."

Seals and Crofts carried that spirit with them as they strived forward in their personal lives along with that same passion to bring their music forward and "to make it" in the very tough music business. And boy did they make great music! I love their musicianship with Jimmy Seals on guitars, sax and violin (he was Texas State Fiddle Champion at 9 years old) and, Dash Crofts on mandolin and guitars. The combo of acoustic guitar and mandolin were perfect timing in the golden era of the singer-songwriter (shouldn't it be "songwriter-singer," in that order?). Seals and Crofts were a great band as you have to listen to their deep cuts. Other than the 1973 hit, "Diamond Girl," I really didn't care for all their other hits that I didn't include on my playlist below. In fact in putting together the playlist from basically 1970 - 1978, I could hear how their label, Warner Brothers increasingly overproduced that original acoustic guitar and mandolin sound with orchestration and 70's pop arrangements to sell their records. If you have time, go the Seals and Crofts Wikipedia site to get the backstory including their time with Glen Campbell in the band, The Champs and on their homepage for a recent update.

I found it interesting that there is not a lot video of Seals and Crofts in concert or on TV other than their hits. So this playlist is going to be a listening experience and possibly one where you haven't heard many of these recorded songs that take me back to putting on the vinyl and sitting back for a good listen. And as Ringo would say, "Peace and Love."

Monday, August 28, 2017

Summertime Blues

It's that time of year, summer is getting hotter, you want to put on your shorts and go to the beach, or creek or pool, but instead, you've got to go to schooooool! Not only that, for young people today, the powers that rule their lives have determined that the first day of school is no longer the day after labor day, it's now starts in middle to late August for most!

I'm thinking back to Junior High 1968 when the song, Summertime Blues was a big hit for Blue Cheer on their first album Vincebus Eruptum. That song played all summer and when it was getting closer to the start of school in early September, the dread set in. I would go into a mini depression that the inevitable was about to happen, back to school, again.

So weird that I became a teacher but you know, I still felt that way even as an adult. Of course school is important, but I always felt for the kids on those first days of school. They got their tan and now they're in a new room with a new teacher, some new classmates and maybe a few friendly faces to stare at while the teacher goes over the rules. Back in the day, we all sat in the same desks in rows facing the front, like graves in a cemetery. I know I'm painting a bleak picture here, but those memories are long-term and sadly, still exist today in many classrooms. I do have the great hope that school is becoming a more engaging place as we move forward in the 21st century with a more projects-based approach to learning, like real life.

So in San Diego Unified, today is the first day of school. I'm thinking the best for all the students and teachers and wishing them all the best for their day and year ahead.

I got this song stuck in my head flying back from Seattle yesterday, it's a memory of the summer of 1968 and going back to Fesler Jr. High.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Tom Petty's Last Dance?

MK and I are up here in Seattle enjoying our visit with family and seeing our newest grand child, Hampton for the first time. We have been stalking this Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers current (last) tour for awhile now as our initial plans were to go to the Red Rocks show (with guest Joe Walsh) but had to pass on that one. When the August 19th date came out, we jumped on it as we knew we would be up here to see our new bundle of joy as everything seems to be working on a cosmic groove at the moment. Today is the eclipse, so something's lining up for us up in the sky as well as down here in the beautiful pacific northwest.

Here is the setlist from Saturday night as you know this show was going to be heavy with the hits. Other than the electrical power totally cutting out on the entire band for one song, it was a fantastic Seattle evening in August.  MK's daughter, Abby and her husband Spencer joined us for this concert with field level seats by first base. If this had been a Mariner's game, we would have been flipping out with our location, but as the stage has to be in center field, well you've got to love those big screens. The sound was great and Tom and the band after 40 years still have it as this was my first time seeing them live. Not only is Tom's voice still fantastic, The Heartbreakers are one of the best bands of all time and still playing at a level to match their top tier status. The band delivered big time and with Mike Campbell on lead guitar, this was a bucket list event for me. Tom says this is his last tour but his fans are certainly hoping it's not his last dance.

What you have to admire about Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers is their longevity and across the board appeal with kids, millennials and their old fart parents who were also well represented last night. Hey, other than the smell of pot, it was a family friendly event. Actually, it was very friendly as Tom's songs got three generations of people singing along and I was right there with them. I haven't been to a stadium show in awhile and this was a packed sold out show. Seattle, you were a great crowd and respectful with the crush of humanity on the way out.

So, I leave you with my Tom Petty playlist with mostly concert video from the past and the 2017 tour to start off your Monday. And, if you want to dive deeper into the complete history of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, I highly recommend the 2007 four hour documentary Runnin' Down a Dream on Netflix (viewed over a couple of nights).

Monday, August 7, 2017

1967-1968 and two albums

Fifty years ago in 1967 was the "Summer of Love." During that time, I was about to enter Fesler Jr. High in Santa Maria, California. My next door neighbor, Ron Zieman was one year ahead of me and about to enter the 8th Grade. My family had moved to Tunnell St. when I was in 5th Grade, so by 1967 Ron and I were fast friends. I would have to say, Ron was my first mentor. As both of us wanted to be hippies, Ron actually set course to accomplish this mission by growing his hair a little longer and wearing his Levi's a lot looser. His mother Ruth, would have none of this, but Ron fought the good fight in rocking our conservative christian upbringing in our little but growing farming town, starting with the dress code.

Another pillar to fall our way was music. In both of our houses, we were not allowed to mess with the stereo console in the living room. Ron lead the way with getting a portable record player for his room and by starting a record collection. Anyway, sometime in 1968 Ron came up with the idea for us to join the Columbia Record Club. (The Columbia Records manufacturing facility was actually only several blocks from our house.) As mentioned in an earlier blog, I had only one record at that time, The Beatles Hard Days Night, which I had clipped from my grandfather.  He for some reason had gotten it in his Columbia Record Club subscription as it probably got included with him buying so many records. My grandfather passed away in 1967, and I like to think he was giving Hard Days Night to me in a gracious posthumous gesture.

So I think Ron's scheme was- we join the Record Club and get several free records by just joining, and then, we quit the Club... like nobody ever thought of that before. I don't remember as Ron was the brains of the operation, but I do remember (with his help) the first two records I ever purchased, (or think I purchased) - Buffalo Springfield Again and The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Are You Experienced, which were both released in 1967. Fifty years later, I'm looking back to listening to those two records with Ron in his room and I'm thinking, "If you had to pick two records that hold the test of time, these two make the cut."

This past week, I'm on my trail run with my Amazon Music shuffling the songs on my phone and Expecting to Fly comes on. It made me think of what you're reading right now. A couple of nights ago, I'm flipping through the channels on TV and the Showtime documentary, Jimi Hendrix: Electric Church comes on. Electric Church is Jimi's performance at the Atlanta Pop Festival in 1970 with 300,000 people. I've watched this documentary two times already, and you know Jimi never gets old and it's always a good place to come back to. Jimi Hendrix and Buffalo Springfield forever! In 2017, my summer of love includes upcoming concerts with Tom Petty, Eric Clapton and the Eagles. This time around, I get to be part of the crowd, even if it's a hair shade of gray. Happy summer my friends!

Monday, July 10, 2017

River of Streams: New Music January - June 2017

I haven't posted since my June 5th blog on Ryan Adams, but I'm now back after listening to a ton of new music that has come out from January-June of this year. I've been gathering, shifting and putting together a playlist of now 73 of my favorite new (or newly recorded) songs to share with you from a core list of artists. Growing up in the 1960's and 70's, the album was king and I want to still embrace that. Here are my Top 5 mid-year picks.
  1. Jason Isbell - The Nashville Sound
  2. Ryan Adams - Prisoner
  3. Dan Auerbach - Waiting on a Song and,
  4. Natalie Hemby - Puxico
  5. Sheryl Crow - Be Myself
If you follow my blog you know you're going to get a good dose of Americana music (as reflected in my picks above), but I've got rock, pop, blues and jazz gems to share in this blog as well. I like to think I've developed an eclectic palette for music over the years and I guess that goes along with my indulgences with food and drink as well. I'm banking that you also like to mix it up and not just listen to one genre of music like all the narrow programmed radio and streamed stations out there. Beyond NPR and some college stations , I just had to let radio go...

This leads me to my latest listening habits from the DELIVERY side of the music industry and thoughts of my convenience and dealing with CD's and MP3's from buying, ripping and even storing music. You see, I want the technology to work better for me on my ongoing streaming quest for easy access to music. So, In the last six months I've developed two priorities for my music listening pleasure.
  1. I want any song or album available to me on all my devices anywhere, anytime; and,
  2. I want to save money with my music dollar.
In the past, I've tried and dropped iTunes, Pandora, Spotify and Sirius. I then started creating a MP3 musical vault of all my CD's and new purchases on a backup hard drive and loaded them all onto my phone for offline listening in the car or on a jog. Not a bad plan, but a bit of a hassle to get everything to my phone. What I discovered was that it wasn't enough. I didn't have to listen to FM radio in the car, but I (only) had about 3000 offline songs. I had essentially created my own narrow band music station and found myself hitting skip, skip, skip on the car steering wheel button! What I needed was at least 25,000 songs to get to that wide and endless river of deep music cuts. Believe me, when you get into your 60's you want to hear songs that you've never heard before.

So last Christmas, Mary Kit got me/us the Amazon Echo. We are already Amazon Prime members ($99 per year) and decided to get Amazon Music Unlimited. If you are an Amazon Prime member, Amazon Music Unlimited is $79.00 a year or $6.58 a month. I buy at least one CD a month (say $9.99) so, if I started using Amazon Music Unlimited and stopped buying CD's, I'd be ahead money wise. Not only that, For the price of one CD, I really get unlimited music (Amazon says, "tens of millions" songs) on my computer, phone and Echo and that meets my two requirements above!

So with the Amazon Music app, you can do the following.
  1. Listen to the web app @
  2. Download the computer app to you Mac or PC
  3. Download the iPhone and iPad App @ iTunes or the Android Phone and Tablets App @ Google Play
  4. With Amazon Echo, you just ask, "Alexa, play Jason Isbell, The Nashville Sound." Alexa then plays the whole album. You can tell Alexa to "skip" and it goes to the next song, something my 5 year old granddaughter does all the time with her favorite movie soundtrack albums. Get the larger model ($179) shown here, it has a better speaker.
What is really cool about the iPhone/Android Phone Amazon Music app is that you can download songs to your phone and play them offline without using any of your data minutes from your phone carrier (thank you Shawna McIntosh for that tip)! The Amazon Music app stores the downloaded song in the app but just to let you know, it is not a MP3 or music file that you can then download to your computer hard drive. However, I've been doing a test by watching my data minute use while in the car or on that jog and so far, see no need to even download to the phone app as I've got plenty of data minutes left at the end of the month, yippee!

Here's a little brief of my music listening process these days and how I sometimes turn that into a blog.
  • I think about an artist or band I like and search that name in the Amazon Music app whether I'm using my computer or smartphone. Say it's, The Plimsouls. I view all their albums and hit the + sign to add an album and all its songs to MY MUSIC. As of this writing, I now have 250+ artists and comedians, 1868 albums, 25,061 songs in 46 genres. (I did it!)
  • For new material, I go to the HOME screen and go to NEW RELEASES and NEWLY RELEASED ALBUMS. Then, it's about how much time do you have?
  • For a blog, I usually search and listen to an album's songs in Amazon Music. Do I listen to every song start to finish, are you kidding? I probably listened to 50+ albums for this blog, it does take time, but for me, it's a treasure hunt. When you find a song or better yet, a new album with a bunch of good songs, I stop and smell the music, take it in and + it. 
  • For the album songs that make the cut, I then often go to YouTube and search for the artist and song. If the artist/band has a high quality audio recording video or better, a high quality session or concert song video, it then goes into my YouTube Playlist for the blog. Also, go to my blog about how to block YouTube advertisements just because you can!
So you're thinking, "dude's got a lot of time," maybe but it's a passion and hey, you took the time to read this, now maybe make the time to listen to my Playlists. At the least, I saved you some time with some excellent sorting and shifting of what I believe to be some damn good music and thanks for being a Monday Monday Music reader.

Now this particular Playlist below is a big one (multiple hours in the making), but I DON'T have crazy expectations that you're going to listen to every song. May I suggest my little technique for each song before you skip: play the beginning 15-20 seconds, if it hooks you continue listening, if not skip to the middle and then the last third of the song. You know what you like, but sometimes give a song a chance. For example, I've never been into fast and loud 3-chord headbanging rock, but bands like Japandroids are turning my ear their way. 

Enjoy this new music including several old songs newly recorded by different musicians! And, a special thank you to Glen Campbell for some really memorable songs!

Oh and one last thing, I'm thinking about buying a new turntable and starting to purchase a very "fine wine" collection of vinyl records again for that special sit down "smell and taste the music" time. I was reading somewhere that Elton John's Tumbleweed Connection had just been re-released on vinyl. I was telling my friend Mark this past week how I wore out Neil Young's After the Goldrush in my bedroom in 1970. I'm thinking I kind of want to come back around to that pure analog experience too!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Ryan Adams | Prisoner Tour - Granada Theatre, Santa Barbara, CA, June 1, 2017

As date nights go, this was a big one. MK and I celebrated our 44th anniversary of our first date way back on June 1, 1973. I recall that we went to see Bloom in Love starring George Segal, Susan Anspach and Kris Kristofferson at the Peppertree Plaza Theater in Santa Maria, CA. This time around, we got to see a great live rock 'n roll show with Ryan Adams at the Granada Theatre in Santa Barbara with our good friends Paul and Jane Hobbs and Ken and Vicki Forman. It's always great to be back on the Central Coast with my old friends who most likely had a date night themselves back in the day at the Peppertree.

In beautiful Santa Barbara we met at Carlito's Cafe Cantina on State St. for dinner, which is only a block away from the Granada and I highly recommend it to anyone. By the way, the halibut tacos were muy bueno!

Purchase @ Amazon (Deluxe Edition)
Anyway, Ryan Adam's first solo album was Heartbreaker back in 2000 that Paul's daughter, Meredith gave him at some point. My daughter, Shawna has also been a big Ryan Adams fan and so our kids kind of turned us on to this great artist. I can't speak for Ken and Vicki, but know that Dave Rawlings co-wrote, To Be Young (Is to Be Sad, Is to Be High) on Heartbreaker with Ryan, so with Ken and Vicki being big Dave Rawlings fans, that's got to figure into the mix somewhere. Gillian Welch and Emmy Lou Harris are also on Heartbreaker and it's just "a must have album" for any Americana music fan.

Purchase @ Amazon
For me, I didn't really start following Ryan Adams until his 16th studio album and latest release, Prisoner which came out in February. This is what I love about writing a music blog as it constantly pushes me to listen to new music just like I did when I was a kid. Now its been reported that Ryan wrote up to 80 versions of songs for Prisoner based on his recent divorce from singer-songwriter and actress Mandy Moore. As you listen to the songs on this album, you really do feel his pain, but as they say I guess that's where great art comes from. Moore is currently dating Taylor Goldsmith from Dawes and if anything, Mandy's got a great ear for picking bands.

Here is the SetList from last Thursday's night show as I will include several of the videos that I shot from yes, our third row seats. We got these tickets by just sheer dumb luck off Stub Hub (no plug here as all these ticket brokers are just money-sucking agents of the devil, sorry just had to add that). Anyway, I had been using my phone all day walking around Santa Barbara and it died during the concert while videoing a pretty funny monologue by Ryan after a fan shouted out to him, "Tell them to stand up Ryan." Ryan follows by saying, "No I'm not going to tell them to stand up because it is a theater, why stand when you can sit down, this is a movie" [big laughs]. He goes on and is great but I just want to say THANK YOU Ryan Adams for speaking to all the decent people of the world who have paid for a ticket at a seating venue and are stuck behind some assholes who stand up and block your view all night. Thank you so much for saying that!

Ryan and the band were fantastic as I was lucky and kind of honored to be up close to see this guy for the first time and also see his very witty personality! Ryan walked out in the beginning, bent over plugged in his guitar and said, "Let's do a rock show" I loved that and he lived up to that in every way! I don't think this will be my last Ryan Adams show and my daughter Shawna will clock me if she's not invited next time. Or, she will at least have to invite me if she finds out first about the next Ryan Adams concert in San Diego!

Here is my Ryan Adams YouTube Playlist with my standard 25 video compilation that I have also broken out individually below with some of my favorite Ryan Adams songs with a few clips from last Thursday's performance. I also added the Marc Maron Podcast with Ryan Adams from Feb. 2017. And just found out that Ryan is on Jimmy Kimmel tonight.

Also, pardon my four fuzzy videos that follow of the Prisoner Tour @ the Granada Theater. I was more interested in watching than taping but I think Ryan's voice and humor shines through.

And thanks Mary Kit for the fun times yesteryear and today!

and Shawna's request

and my favorite...

Monday, May 1, 2017

The Waits, San Pasqual Winery - April 29, 2017

On Saturday night, Mary Kit and I had the pleasure to see The Waits at San Pasqual Winery in La Mesa, CA. The acoustic band is Mark Hunter on guitar and vocals and Peter Lauterbach mandolin and vocals. Last night, Mark's brother, Dutch Hunter joined in as a special guest with the band and played harmonica and also backup vocals.  Dutch lives in Nevada City, CA and came down to visit Mark in San Diego this past week. MK and I were thoroughly impressed as Dutch with just one practice with The Waits did a great job of improvising with harmonies and harmonica! I love this band not to mention they cover songs that every boomer knows. Pete is fabulous on mandolin as both he and Mark do great interpretations of mostly 60's-70's songs with an Americana flare. A younger couple sitting up front were very quiet and enjoying the show and I think Dutch asked them if they even knew who Herman's Hermits were?

Back in the day, Mary Kit and I met Mark almost 42 years ago at the dorms at San Diego State in August, 1975. We were all community college transfers, Mark from Millbrea, CA and Mary Kit and I from Santa Maria, CA. Mark and I were in the same hallway in Toltec dorm and bonded as friends for life during the first episode of Saturday Night Live. I remember they had a big box console TV in the lobby/social gathering area of the dorm and we just started talking and laughing at this crazy new wonderful TV comedy. The next year, Mark and I moved in as college roommates and lived in a couple of different apartments together. We also were camp counselors up at Palomar Mountain for children and adults with disabilities through ARC of San Diego.  It is still known to this day as Camp-A-Lot and Camp-A-Little. I have great memories of Mark playing his guitar and singing songs around the campfire with all the campers and staff. We had the pleasure to enjoy the summer mountains together while being paid $10 a day to work at the camps. Mark and I would later become teachers for students with severe disabilities as both of us had a variety of experience as teachers in San Diego County. Last night in fact, a group of Mark's old teacher friends showed up to listen to the band.

Now sit back and enjoy The Waits live as MK and I recorded a few songs from the evening on our phones and made them into a YouTube Playlist. Before the first video, The intro is a shout-out to Mark's and Dutch's dad, Floyd who is 91 and a veteran of World War II who landed on the beaches of Iwo Jima. Mark once told me his dad entered the military under age at 17 and was put into one of the fiercest battles in U.S. history. The song that follows, Neil Young's Ohio is a bit ironic from his son's who grew up in a very different era during the Vietnam War near San Francisco. Anyway, Floyd has never seen Mark and Dutch play together at a venue, so Floyd this playlist was made for you! I used to listen to my old buddy sing a lot of Neil Young and all our musical heroes with his guitar on our living room floor with no more than a few dollars to stretch out together and get through the month. This just made me think of the time we were living on College Ave. in 1976 and it had been a hot hot day in sunny San Diego. We had left the front window open and when we both returned to the apartment later that day from classes, my stereo system had been stolen (my high school graduation present). I think we both heated up some tortillas on the stove, had a few peanut butter burritos and then fired up a few that night.

The Waits will be performing next on May 27th at San Pasqual Winery, 8364 La Mesa Blvd. La Mesa 7-10pm.

Link to Complete Playlist - The Waits, San Pasqual Winery - April 29, 2017

Monday, April 3, 2017

alligator lizards in the air..... revisited

If you haven't noticed, I'm on bit of a hiatus from the blog as I've been working on a couple of other projects. My step-daughter and her two daughters just arrived yesterday from Seattle and are enjoying the San Diego sunshine. They love coming to Grandma and Papa's house to go to the pool, zoo and just hang out, maybe watch an alligator lizard sunning himself on the backyard concrete. So, I thought I'd bring back a blog I wrote two years ago around this time of year. I was talking to my good friend Bill on the phone yesterday and he said something to the effect, "No blog this week, come on man." He once said, that when he was going to college during a Minnesota winter he heard Ventura Highway and it made him think of me. Well Bill, thanks for thinking about me over the years and this one's for you, from our junior year in high school.

Here's the link -

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.