Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Power of Soul

This close to the end of the year, it's time to talk about famous New Year's Eve concerts. One of the most famous and one of my personal favorites was Jimi Hendrix and the Band of Gypsys live at the Fillmore East 12-31-70. This is one of the funkier songs Hendrix ever played, and features a killer riff, Billy Cox on bass, and the magificent Buddy Miles on drums and backing vocals and scat singing. One wonders if, on this night, if Jimi knew he had about nine months to live, he would have done anything differently? We'll never know. So here's hoping that you have a groovy New Years'Eve and a great New Year. Keep on rockin'!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

He's Gotta Wear His Goggles...

... cause the snow really flies...On this date in rock history in 1964, the Beach Boys made their first appearance on the TV show "Shindig" (remember "Shindig" - Go go dancers, go go boots, the "Shindogs?" No? Then you're too young to be reading this!), playing, among other things, "Little Saint Nick," which was their attempt at writing a hot roddin' Christmas song, set to the tune of "Little Duece Coupe." Notice how all the girls go nuts when the camera pans to Dennis on the drums...Beachboymania! At any rate, happy holidays to your and yours, and keep on rockin'!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

In the Garden of Eden...

... baby! On this date in rock and roll history in 1968 (actually it was yesterday, but I was too busy yesterday to post), the Iron Butterfly single "In A Gadda Da Vida" went gold. Now in my home town, when I was playing in bands in high school, to be accepted as a decent drummer, you had to be able to play the drum solos to either "In A Gadda Da Vida" or "Toad" by Cream. Not meaning to brag, but I could play both... The song, at 18+ minutes, was way too long for top 40 radio, so they did make a shorter version sans the drum solo for radio play. So let's enjoy the video, which I think comes from a public television special on the '60's produced a few years back; it featured Erik Braunn on lead guitar, who, unfortunately, is no longer with us, having died in 2003; Ron Bushy on drums, Lee Dorman on bass, and Charlie Marinkovich doing the keyboard solo on a Hammond B-3 (sounds much better than the ol' combo organ he used in the '60's, for sure!). Thanks to www.rockhall.com for the info, and keep on rockin'!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Just Like Starting Over...

Today in rock history, in 1980, John Lennon is shot by a deranged assailant as he and Yoko return to the Dakota after a recording session. He is pronounced dead at Roosevelt Hospital. A truly sad day for Beatles fans all around the world. I often think, where would be be if he were still alive today - doing an all-star show like Ringo, or still writing "silly love songs" like Macca? I know, both of them have moved on from these activities, but that's what they're likely to be remembered for. I'd like to think he'd be doing something revolutionary and exciting, still stunning the world with his talent and innovation. Ironically enough, he was poised to re-enter the music world in a big way when he was gunned down. He truly was starting over...let's enjoy the vid, celebrate his life, and keep on rockin'! Thanks to http://www.rockhall.com/notes/today-in-rock/ for the info...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Carl Perkins' Cadillac

On this date in rock history, in 1955, Carl Perkins records "Blue Suede Shoes" and "Honey Don't," which Sun releases together as a single on January 1, 1956. During May 1964, Perkins toured England along with Chuck Berry. The Animals backed the two performers. On the last night of the tour, Perkins attended a party that turned out to be for him, and ended up sitting on the floor sharing stories, playing guitar, and singing songs while surrounded by The Beatles. Ringo Starr asked if he could record "Honey Don't." "Man," answered Perkins, "go ahead, have at it." The Beatles would cover "Matchbox," "Honey Don't" and "Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby". My connection to Mr. Perkins (besides rootin’ for Ringo every time I hear him sing Perkins’ song) is my band’s cover of the Drive By Truckers song “Carl Perkins’ Cadillac,” a sympathetic account of the early Sun Records days of Perkins, Johnny Cash, Elvis and Jerry Lee. My favorite line? “Dammit Elvis, I swear son I think it's time you came around. Making money you can't spend ain't what being dead's about.” ‘Nuff said… Enjoy the vid, keep on rockin’, and thanks to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_Perkins for the info.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Your'e a bitch...

... but I love you anyway...while choosing some CD's at random at the library the other day, the CD cover for this band "The Fabulous Bowling for Soup" caught my eye so I gave it a try. Turned out to be a lucky find - think Fountains of Wayne crossed with Weird Al - intelligent, witty lyrics mixed with clever pop culture references. So give a listen, and pick it up at your local library if you get a chance. Happy turkey day, and keep on rockin'! Remember, Whiskey and Rebellion at the Ugly Mug in Farmington,MN this Saturday, 8 to 11 - hope to see you there!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Goodness gracious...

great balls of fire! Today in rock history, in 1949, a 14-year-old Jerry Lee Lewis makes his debut at the opening of a Ford dealership in Ferriday, Lousiana. He plays "Drinking Wine, Spo-Dee-O-Dee." Man, I wish we had some video of that performance! Well, “The Killer” is still out there knockin’ ‘em dead at the age of 74. 2010 will see a new CD album and DVD release as Jerry continues his career. 2009 also marks the sixtieth year since Jerry Lee's first public performance. In August 2009, in advance of his new album, a single entitled "Mean Old Man" was released for download. It was written by Kris Kristofferson. An EP featuring this song and four more was also released on amazon.com on November 11. On October 29, 2009, Lewis opened the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 25th Anniversary concert at Madison Square Garden in New York. Here is some audio of that performance. Thanks to www.rockhall.com and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerry_Lee_Lewis for the info, and keep on rockin’!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

When I'm 64...

Today in rock history, Neil Young was born in Toronto, Canada, in 1945. Picking a song and video to celebrate Neil’s life is truly a challenge – his recorded history is vast and difficult to categorize. Well, let’s pick 1980's “Hawks and Doves” then, in honor of finding a copy of the LP in a thrift store yesterday. AKA “Neil goes country and turns right-wing redneck,” this LP puzzled fans and critics alike with its seemingly patriotic and right wing views. This, from the guy who wrote “Ohio.” Ah, well, it's good music, however you slice it. Let’s enjoy Neil and the International Harvesters' version of "Hawks and Doves" live in 1984. Thank God Neil is still around making new music, and keep on rockin’!
P. S. One of the high points of my life in the recent past is learning the bass part to “Cinnamon Girl.”

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cleveland Rocks!

I’m writing this post about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum mainly due to a large case of envy… Chris, our lead guitarist, (AKA “Whiskey and Rebellion” on his blog “Over the Green Hills”) is at this very moment spending some quality time winding his way through the museum. So, in his honor, a little history: the museum was conceived by leaders in the music industry in 1983, the first inductees were honored in 1986, but the concept didn’t have a home until the present museum was built in Cleveland in 1993. The list of first inductees reads like a who’s who of 1950’s rock, R&B, and soul: Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Fats Domino, James Brown ,Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke and The Everly Brothers. As well it should: inductees become eligible 25 years after the release of their first record, and all of these fine performers would certainly be up for induction by 1986. Speaking of Cleveland rockin' - here's inducteee Chuck Berry with the E Street Band playing "Johnny B. Goode" in Cleveland in a 1995 benefit for the Museum. Thanks to http://www.rockhall.com/inductees/induction-process/ for the info, and keep on rockin’!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Got me a complication...

... and it's an only child... Mr. Whomamus (or was it me?) got me to thinking about other groups of that time period who lipsynced with varying degrees of competence. Here's the Music Machine, with "Talk Talk," the heaviest 1:58 ever committed to vinyl. Now the drummer sure seems to bangin' the skins (notice the movement and vibration), but there's a suspicious absence of cords, mics and amps. And what's with the gloves on the right hands of the guitarists - I'm the one who smashed up his hand a couple of weeks ago (don't ask), so I would be entitled to wear a glove while performing, but these guys...sheesh. At any rate, it's a good tune, enjoy, and keep on rockin'!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

When my dime-dancing is through…

…I run to you. On today’s date in 1977 'Aja,' Steely Dan's most accomplished and popular album to date, is released. It is the group's first to be certified platinum (one million copies sold), and it reaches #3 on the album chart. It also wins Steely Dan a Grammy for "Best Engineered Non-Classical Recording." Back in the day, my roommate had this huge stereo – about a thousand watts per channel and these room-divider sized speakers – and used to play this album at house-shaking volume. “Just listen to the quality of this recording!” he’d shout – ok, I get it, I get it!! While he was crankin’ it up upstairs, I was down in the basement on the drums, trying to learn Steve Gadd’s solo at the end of the song. So check out this 1978 vintage promo commercial, and keep on rockin’!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Damned if I wouldn’t go to church on Sunday

… and look the Preacher in the eye. Here we have my band Whiskey and Rebellion’s cover of the Drive By Truckers’ song “Sinkhole,” a song about a man who can look his preacher in the eye after knocking off the banker who was trying to take the family farm and burying him in a…you guessed it… sinkhole. A song with an ominous riff that makes you feel that you are standing at the edge of the sinkhole, looking down into the abyss. Strong stuff, but a fun song to play; check it out, and keep on rockin’!
P. S. If you missed us last Friday at the Contented Cow, catch us this Saturday 10-3 at the Heidelberg Bar in Heidelberg, MN.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

#9 #9 #9...

I couldn't let 09-09-09 go by without putting up a Beatles-themed post. Also, it's almost exactly 9:00 PM as I write this, so there's another #9 for you. Since this is a red-letter day for us Beatles fans, let me offer up my band's cover of "Come Together." I can tell you that Ringo's deceptively simple drum riff is not so simple, especially if you play it over and over and try to do it exactly the same way each time. Well, I did it, and we got through it; notice especially Chris' screamin' guitar leads during the breaks. Thanks for checking it out, and keep on rockin'!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Whiskey and Rebellion

My busy summer continues... I am now concentrating my time on a new band called "Whiskey and Rebellion," formed from members of North of Nowhere and with the addition of Dave on rhythm guitar and vocals. We're concentrating on southern rock - Cross Canadian Ragweed, Drive By Truckers, Tom Petty, etc, doing more of the obscure stuff (hey, when people walk into a club and hear a band doing a song they're not familiar with, they assume it's an original!). We've got some gigs booked in September and October, so it was time to try our sound in front of a crowd. Here we are doing a version of the DBT song "Puttin' People on the Moon." That's Max on bass, Dave on rhythm guitar and vocals, yours truly on the drums, and Chris on lead guitar. A fine time was had by all, and keep on rockin'!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

How I Spent My Summer Vacation, Part 4

Well, my Constant Readers must think I've had a very busy summer, music-wise, and they're right, I have; and it's not over yet! Here's a vid of my band North of Nowhere playing a version of the Band's "The Weight," with yours truly on the Hammond. It's been a dream of mine since I got the thing a year ago to actually play the beast with the band in concert. Well, the concert had to be at my house, since the heavy old thing is a little hard to gig with, and I did fumble around a bit (you should have heard the song before it in the set - lost in the wilderness, I was - but we needn't go there). Also featuring my middle son thrashing away just fine on the drums. Support local music - go out and see a band tonight! and keep on rockin'!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

How I Spent My Summer Vacation, Part 3

More of the TMF Summer Jam Band, rippin' through the Smithereens' "Blood and Roses." Personnel is as before, but featuring (that's generous - I think I'm buried in the mix, but I'm there) yours truly on guitar. Thanks for looking, and keep on rockin'!

Monday, August 10, 2009

How I Spent My Summer Vacation, Part 2

Yes, it's time for another installment of "how I spent my summer vacation." I was in Washinton, IL over the weekend for the umpteenth annual TMF summer jam (I think we've been doing this for 20 or 25 years). At any rate, here's the boys running through "The Kids Are Alright" (and doing an admirable job of it too, I might add - wish I were playing on that song instead of running the camera). Left to right you've got Brian on guitar, Shawn back in the soundproof booth on the drums, Bob on bass, Greg on vocals, Ronnie on guitar (doin' the Pete Townsend windmill chords), and Rick on guitar. A fine time was had by all, and we literally rocked until we dropped! Get some rest, now, and then keep on rockin'!

Jammin' at Merkel's

Out in the backwoods along a curvy country road in rural Washington, Illinois, you'll find a cluttered machine shed loaded with old tools and debris from years of living on the same land. But don't let that fool you - in the back of the garage, crammed in between stacks of vintage amps, drums and guitars, you'll find a row of kitchen chairs and a row of players ready to pick and grin. You've come to the right place - Merkel's, where local country players gather every Wednesday and Friday night to play all night. I was introduced to this local hot spot last weekend when I visited my friend Bob, who is a regular at Merkel's, and the bass player in my college band. I, along with Rick, our guitarist, came out to sit, listen and hopefully join in. There's usually 9 or 10 folks playing at any given time, and I was told that on a particularly busy night, over 50 musicians showed up to jam, and they played until 4 AM. I asked our host, Delmar Merkel, if I could get an award for coming the farthest to play, and if I got any special deals on account of it was my birthday. He told me to grab a beer and get on up there and spell the drummer. I ended up playing two hours...if I couldn't be with my family, it was a great way to spend a birthday. Here's the boys (and one girl on drums) making their way through "Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road." That's Delmar in the middle in the green plaid shirt. Ya'll come back now, y'hear, and keep on rockin'!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Boogie in Badgerland

Up in far north Wisconsin, where only the bears and hardy campers roam, is a nice little roadhouse called the Windsor Bar, owned coincidentally by our lead singer Rick's sister. Saturday last my band North of Nowhere played for the Windsor's grand opening, and a grand time was had by all. I must say, I haven't played that much music in one day since I was a kid - we played six sets, spread out between 3 and 11:30 PM; then we sat around the campfire with acoustic guitars and did some pickin' and grinnin' for another hour or so; we were a tuckered bunch when we all finally crawled into our racks at 2 AM or so. Here is a vid from the last set - that's Jarad on rhythm guitar, Rick on vocals and rhythm guitar, yours truly on drums, Max on bass, and on the far right, Chris on lead guitar. Thanks for watching, and keep on rockin'!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

How I Spent My Summer Vacation, Part 1

Welcome back, Constant Reader, to a little feature I run in the Summer called “How I Spent My Summer Vacation.” Last week was spent chillin’ at a resort called Fillenwarth Beach in Okoboji, in the Iowa Great Lakes region (ok, no snickering here…they are really big lakes, and they are great!). The area has a rich heritage of fine music, and since this was where I spent my youth, it still resonates with me whenever I go back. I had the opportunity to visit the Iowa Rock and Roll Music Association museum and the newly rebuilt Roof Garden ballroom in Arnold’s Park, where one can find memorabilia of Buddy Holly’s appearance at the Surf Ballroom, and concert posters and other memorabilia from “The Roof” and other venues from the golden age of the great ballrooms across Iowa in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. I saw a couple of great bands at the Roof, and was able to take in a performance by my high school buddy Mikee Cusack’s band, “FRB (Freedom Rock Band)” in my hometown of Storm Lake on July 4th. They only get together these days for that one gig a year, but they do have a new CD out called “Life is a Joy.” They have always had a rabid following in Iowa and it’s unfortunate that they don’t have the opportunity to play more gigs.

FRB in concert at the Sunset Park Band Shell, Storm Lake, IA, 7-4. Left to right; Eric Hovey on guitar, Mikee Cusack on guitar, Bill Hoft on bass. This venue, designed and built for oompah bands in the 30’s and 40’s, is a really lousy place for a r&r band to play – I know, I’ve been there and done that!

Richie Lee poundin’ the skins doing a credible version of “Wipeout”. He also did a killer Buddy Holly impersonation.

The Senn Menn appearing as part of the “Rock the Roof” concert series. I’m impressed that they’re still filling the joint after all these years!

Thanks to http://www.iowarocknroll.com and www.freedomerockband.com for the info, and keep on rockin’!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

What's That Spell?

On this date in music history, in 1967, Country Joe and the Fish debut on the album chart with 'Electric Music for the Mind and Body'. Of course, CJ&TF are better known for their appearance at Woodstock and the infamous “Fish Cheer.” With the 40th anniversary of the Woodstock Music and Art Fair (you don’t see much art in the concert film though, do you?) coming up this summer, let’s relive Country Joe MacDonald’s claim to fame one more time. Notice the big dangly ear ring in his right ear – when I noticed that detail in the concert film, I thought it would be cool to get my own ear pierced too; it took me until 1980 to screw up the courage to do it, though. I had to make a decision; which ear? In my small Iowa town, in those days, if you wore an ear ring in the right ear, you were a biker or a drug dealer, the left ear meant you were gay. I guess I chose the tough guy route… Thanks to http://www.rockhall.com/notes/today-in-rock/ for the info, and keep on rockin!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Don't Bring Me Down...

Today in rock history, in 1966 “Don’t Bring Me Down,” by the Animals, enters the Top Forty, where it will peak at #12. It will be the last charting single by the original quintet, although Eric Burdon will pilot a new lineup of Animals through the end of the decade. I remember being a big Animals fan when I was a kid – they had a scruffy, everyman kind of appeal, and this song was an anthem to me, a 15 year old rebel just beginning to find his own voice – but now that I’m a vintage Hammond organ owner, I scour their music listening for that distinctive Hammond sound. Rumor has that Alan Price used to run his old Hammond spinet through a Fender Bandmaster, and the organ sound on “House of the Rising Sun” is the signature sound of the group. Price left the Animals in ’65, not happy with the rigors of the road and their new-found fame, but in ’64 and ’65, the Animals with Price were golden. The trend continued with Dave Roweberry, his replacement. Let’s enjoy the song one more time. Thanks to http://www.rockhall.com/notes/today-in-rock/ for the info, and keep on rockin’

Saturday, May 23, 2009

I've Got a Fever...

... and the prescription is...more cowbell! They wanted it, they got it - check out this vid from last week's performance of my band North of Nowhere at the Ugly Mug in Farmington. This was the last tune of the night and a reprise of "American Band" that we'd played earlier. That's me in shadows pounding the skins, and, from left to right, Jarad on rhythm guitar and vocals, Max on bass, Rick on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, and, also in the shadows, Chris on lead guitar and vocals. Thanks to our friends, family and fans who attended, and keep on rockin'

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

You and me…

… and Leslie (it was actually “endlessly,’ but I always said, “Ok, who’s Leslie?” whenever I heard this song – it probably got a laugh the first time I told it). On this date in rock and roll history in 1967, "Groovin'" becomes the Rascals' second chart-topping single. It holds down the top spot for four weeks, finally giving way to Aretha Franklin's "Respect"—which was also on Atlantic Records. Ah – the Summer of 1967 (AKA “the Summer of Love”) – I was 16, I was hangin’ out at the local pizza joint (known in my home town as “The Pizza House”), playing in a band, and driving my parent’s brand-new yellow ’67 Mustang…life just didn’t get much better than that! And this song was probably playing on my car radio, and it pretty much summed up the whole summer – I was groovin’…let’s enjoy it one more time. Thanks to http://www.rockhall.com/notes/today-in-rock/ for the info, and keep on rockin’!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Raw Power!

Today in rock history, on this date in 1968, the Stooges release their self-titled debut. It peaks at #106. Also, in 1977, Iggy Pop releases 'The Idiot' and it hits #30 in the UK and #32 in the US. The album is produced by David Bowie. Yes, today’s post is an Iggy and the Stooge’s two-fer. Iggy Pop (aka James Newell Osterberg, Jr.) exploded out of Detroit in 1968 with the Stooges, a garage-band combo composed of Pop on vocals, Ron (guitar) and Scott Asheton (drums), along with their friend Dave Alexander (bass guitar. They were together from 1968 to 1974, and reformed in 2003, and are still touring today with various personnel. Iggy (who usually – and still does – perform shirtless) was known to self-mutilate, verbally abuse the audience, expose himself and leap off the stage (thus being the first or among the first to stage dive). Countless subsequent performers have imitated Pop's antics, though much of Pop's own stage antics mirror those of Mick Jagger and Jim Morrison. Let’s hear it for the ageless and seemingly eternal Mr. Pop, and enjoy a vid of one of his live performances. Thanks to http://www.rockhall.com/notes/today-in-rock/ and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iggy_Pop, and keep on rockin’!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Everybody Knows…

“North of Nowhere…” Well, at least we’re trying to get our name out there: Open Mic adventures, part 2…last week Mr. Whoamus posted a blog entry about my band North of Nowhere’s appearance at an open mic at Neisen’s in Savage on 4-22. While the band has been together for a couple of years, we’ve only had the present personnel with the band since the first of the year, so we’re still trying out songs on the (unsuspecting) public. Last Saturday we signed up for an open mic at the American Legion in Savage. Little did we know when we showed up that the first Saturday of the month is always “kids night,” where all the students of the guitar teacher who plays lead in the house band are invited to come up and play. While it gives these kids some good exposure, it does make for a long night for us geezers, who were the last act of the evening. So, after over 3 hours of waiting (thank God they have an open bar!), they saved the best for last…check out this vid of our opening number, and come see us for a full evening at the Ugly Mug in Farmington, MN on 5-15 (www.theuglymug.biz). Thanks to Mr. Whoamus himself for the camera work, Chris for the posting, and keep on rockin’!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Got My Mojo Workin’…

.. but it just don’t work on you…today in rock history, in 1983, McKinley Morganfield "Muddy Waters" dies of a heart attack at the age of sixty-eight in Chicago. Morganfield is buried at the Restvale Cemetery in Alsip, Illinois. The epitaph on the burial marker reads: "McKinley Morganfield, 1915 - 1983, The Mojo is Gone The Master Has Won."
Well, I would submit the Mojo is still workin’ – Muddy lives on in his excellent recordings and the homage that other blues players pay him every time they play one of his tunes. The other day I got a recording of one of his classics – “Breakin’ It Up & Breakin’ It Down,” an recording of him on tour in 1978-79 with James Cotton and Johnny Winter. This is, IMHO, one of the best blues albums of all time, and it showed Muddy in fine form, on the comeback trail after recording his seminal album, 1977’s “Hard Again.” It was also the inspiration for Johnny to take up the blues full time and leave that rock and roll behind. So let’s celebrate Muddy’s life, and check out a tune from Muddy from a live date back in '71. Thanks to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muddy_Waters and www.rockhall.com/notes/today-in-rock/ for the info, and let’s play a slow blues, shall we?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Standing in the Shadows…

… of Motown. Today in rock history, on this date in 1953, James Jamerson moves to Detroit and takes up the bass. James was a member of the “Funk Brothers,” who, along with founding members Joe Hunter and Earl Van Dyke (piano); Benny "Papa Zita" Benjamin and Richard "Pistol" Allen (drums); Robert White, Eddie Willis, and Joe Messina (guitar); Jack Ashford (tambourine, percussion, vibraphone, marimba); Jack Brokensha (vibraphone, marimba); and Eddie "Bongo" Brown (percussion), made up the “house band” at Motown in the ‘50’s ‘60’s and early ‘70’s. They were responsible for the “Motown Sound” of the Supremes, the Marvelettes, Martha and the Vandellas, the Temptations, and on and on. Until the documentary “Standing in the Shadows” was released in 2002, little was known about the tightest, most bad-ass R&B/soul band around – Motown did not start crediting studio musicians until Marvin Gaye’s 1972 album “What’s Goin’ On” was released. The band used innovative techniques. For example, most Motown records feature two drummers, playing together or overdubbing one another — Marvin Gaye's "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" used three drummers. A number of songs utilized instrumentation and percussion unusual in soul music. The Temptations' "It's Growing" features Earl Van Dyke playing a toy piano for the song's introduction, snow chains are used as percussion on Martha & the Vandellas' "Nowhere to Run", and a custom oscillator was built to create the synthesizer sounds used to accent Diana Ross & the Supremes' "Reflections" A tire iron was used in the Martha & the Vandellas "Dancing in the Streets". One interesting thing I noted while watching the documentary is that most of the musicians still used charts when playing songs that they’d probably been playing for 30 years or more. I remember thinking, “jeeze, you’d think they’d have memorized their parts by now!” At any rate, let’s enjoy the Funk Brothers one more time (and any time you listen to a classic Motown tune), the great unsung heroes of the Motown years. Thanks to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Funk_Brothers and http://www.rockhall.com/notes/today-in-rock/ for the info, and keep on rockin’!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

I saw her standin' on her front lawn

just twirlin' her baton... On the road, day...well, I've lost count...been here in Salt Lake City for 4 or 5 days visiting my son at college. While here we've walked the campus, gotten some souvenirs, ridden a train (two different kinds), ran a 5K, and just generally hung out with "the boy." Heading home tomorrow, so I'm writing this in anticipation of ending up in North Platte, Nebraska tomorrow night. This is one of my favorite tunes from The Boss; it speaks well of the stark wind swept plains of western Nebraska. Perfect spot for a killing, I guess... keep on rockin', and we'll see you back at the ranch...

Monday, April 6, 2009

I'm A Little Bit Country...

... he's a little bit rock and roll...greetings from the road, day 3 - Salt Lake City, UT. Visiting my son here at the Univ of Utah here in Mormonland. We experienced another day of temperature extremes - from 4 degrees overnight in Frisco, CO to 65 here in Utah. We'll be here for a week, so I won't guarantee I'll post everyday...here's a classic from the most Mormon of Mormons, Donny and Marie...I'll apologize in advance, keep on rockin', and we'll catch you later...

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Rocky Mountain High...

... in Colorado...greetings from the road, day 2; Frisco, CO - after having fought our way across Kansas in a snowstorm with 40 mph winds, through Denver and more snow and wind, we find ourselves at the Alpine Inn, gateway to the Breckenridge ski area. I wish this trip would settle down into more predictable weather - 75 degrees yesterday, and 20 today. Oh well...I should quit complaining; we drive across Colorado tomorrow through the gorgeous Rockies, and the weather is supposed to improve. So I hate to beat the proverbial dead horse, but here's Mr. John Deutschendorf to sing their praises. Yeah, that's me, wandering through the lush green meadows... Keep on rockin', and we'll post again tomorrow in Utah.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Dust in the Wind...

... all we have here in Kansas is dust in the wind...Greetings from the road! On a road trip to Utah; day one, Salina, KS - you might well ask, what the heck are you doing in Kansas if you're going from Minnesota to Utah? Well, at the last minute, we rerouted our trip and dropped south to avoid what was supposed to be a significant blizzard in Nebraska and Wyoming... so here we are, in the land of heat (75 here today), wind, and museums commemorating just about anything - we drove right by the Oz Museum in Wamego today; shoulda stopped! Can't drive through Kansas without a nod to one of their most famous products...shown here in the form of a classic amateur home video...enjoy, keep on rockin', and we'll see you tomorrow in Colorado...

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Today in rock history, in 1985, The Singing Nun, Jeanne-Paule Marie Deckers, AKA Sister Luc-Gabrielle ("Dominique") commits suicide. How could this happen, you wonder? Well, in 1967, Deckers left her monastery to continue her musical career under the name Luc Dominique and released an album called I Am Not a Star in Heaven. Her repertoire consisted of religious songs and songs for children. Most of her earnings went to the convent. Despite her renewed musical emphasis, Deckers gradually faded into obscurity, possibly because of her own disdain for fame: she was never able to duplicate the success of her one hit wonder. Her musical career over, Deckers opened a school for autistic children in Belgium. In the late 1970s (mentioned in the July 22, 1978 broadcast of American Top 40), the Belgian government claimed that she owed around US$63,000 in back taxes. Deckers countered that the money was given to the convent and therefore exempt from taxes. Lacking any receipts to prove her donations to the convent and her religious order, Deckers ran into heavy financial problems. In 1982 she tried, once again as Soeur Sourire, to score a hit with a disco version of "Dominique", but this last attempt to resume her singing career failed. Citing their financial difficulties in a note, she and her companion of ten years, Anna P├ęcher, both committed suicide by an overdose of barbiturates and alcohol. A disco version of “Dominique?” OMG! If you’ve ever heard that, let me know! So let’s enjoy (if that is truly the word for it) this song one more time, and light a candle for The Singing Nun… thanks to http://www.oldiesmusic.com/cal.htm and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Singing_Nun for the info, and keep on rockin’!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

'Cause there ain't no-one…

… for to give you no pain. Today in rock history, on this date in 1972, America hit #1 with "Horse With No Name". Well, this song is really an acquired taste. Sounding a lot like Neil Young with an adenoid problem, singer Dewey Bunnell said "I know that virtually everyone, on first hearing, assumed it was Neil. I never fully shied away from the fact that I was inspired by him. I think it's in the structure of the song as much as in the tone of his voice. It did hurt a little, because we got some pretty bad backlash. I've always attributed it more to people protecting their own heroes more than attacking me." The song was also attacked because of its banal lyrics, including "The heat was hot"; "There were plants, and birds, and rocks, and things"; and " 'Cause there ain't no-one for to give you no pain." Randy Newman once described it as a song "about a kid who thinks he's taken acid". Comedian Richard Jeni mocked the song's title. "You're in the desert," he said. "You got nothing else to do. Name the freakin' horse!" Well, love it or hate it, here it is one more time. Thanks to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Horse_with_No_Name and http://www.rockhall.com/notes/today-in-rock/ for the info, and keep on rockin’!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Walk Softly...

... on this heart of mine...this is a personal to Mr. Whoamus: mystery solved! I'm reasonably certain that this is the second tune I was playing on last night at the open mic (couldn't hear the vocals very well from the back of the stage, but the riff sounds about right). I must admit I am a big Kentucky Headhunters fan - I especially like the old relic drums their drummer uses; looks like he ripped off the Metcalfe County marching band or something. It was great fun to pull that off...and by the way, here is a little capsule review of Odessey and Oracle:

1) It sounds just as fresh and new to me now as it did in 1969 when I bought the LP
2) This must have been their answer to "Abbey Road" - you can hear a lot of Macca in the bass lines
3) I'd put this up against anything XTC ever put out, or the output of any number of indie pop bands around today

Thanks again for sharing! Keep on rockin'!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Could Be Me...

(I’ll give you fair warning, constant readers; in this blog entry I aim for artistic pretensions…)

Could be you… or it could be Michael Perry and the Long Beds (which, by the way, is a great name for a band, as Dave Barry would say). I caught their act at a local venue this past weekend. Mike is an author from New Auburn, WI, whose book, “Population: 485” has been featured in a promotion at our local library. I’m a fan of his literary work, and it was an added bonus when I found out he was a singer/songwriter as well. I did some checking on his web site (www.sneezingcow.com - as an Iowa farm boy, I know full well what happens when you stand behind a sneezing cow!) and bought his latest CD, “Headwinded.” He started out by reading from some of his works and telling some funny anecdotes about his interesting life. After a break, he came back with his band and played an egaging set of country-flavored songs. Mike turned out to be an accomplished singer who accompanies himself on guitar, with a crackerjack band to back him up. So it was pleasant surprise. Be sure to catch his act if he comes to your town, check out his website, and watch this vid of him promoting his latest book, “Coop: A Year of Poultry, Pigs and Parenting.” Keep on rockin’, and we’ll catch you later!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

You Can Rock It...

… you can roll it…Today in rock history, on this date in 1958, Danny and the Juniors reached #1 with “At the Hop.” This record, a thinly disguised 12 bar blues, celebrated dance styles popular at the time. “At the Hop” was performed by Sha Na Na at Woodstock and captured for posterity on the soundtrack recording. It was also performed by Flash Cadillac and the Continental Kids and included in the sound track recording of the 1973 movie “American Graffiti.” As I may have mentioned in previous posts, I was in a ‘50’s band in college during that same timeframe, since Sha Na Na’s appearance at Woodstock seemed to ignite a resurgence in the popularity of ‘50’s music. What has puzzled me since that time, though, is the stage garb of most ‘50’s bands of the period – greasy DA’s, white T-shirt with the pack of smokes rolled up in the sleeves, pegged jeans, engineer boots, black leather motorcycle jacket with 47 zippers – it was the uniform of the street tough hood from the ‘50’s. Check out the pic of yours truly below… However, if you take a look at, say, Bill Haley and the Comets, you’d notice they were much more dressed up on stage, usually wearing dinner jackets and those funny v-shaped ties popular in the era. So we got it wrong, but I don’t think I even owned a suit during those days! Thanks to www.wikipedia.org and www.rockhall.com/notes/today-in-rock for the info, let’s grease up and do the bop!


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

I May be Totally Wrong…

… but I’m a dancin’ fool….Today in rock history, in 1979, Frank Zappa released 'Sheik Yerbouti,' a double album that contains the disco parody single "Dancin' Fool." I don’t know if any of you still have this recording, but it’s got a great picture of ol’ Frank on the cover in a bernoose, puffing on a heater (which I suppose is what ultimately did him in). Not too much else to say…great album, great tune…let’s go back to the days of polyester suits, disco balls and Pontiac Grand Ams, and enjoy some Frank, shall we, and keep on boogyin’! Yowsa, yowsa, yowsa! Thanks to http://www.rockhall.com/notes/today-in-rock for the info.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Last of the Big Band Drummers

Luigi Paulino Alfredo Francesco Antonio Balassoni, better known as Louie Bellson, died a couple of weeks ago at the age of 84. While not really a rock drummer, he was a drummer nevertheless, and worthy of our recognition of the loss of one of the last of the great big band drummers. Of special interest to me was his pioneering use of a double bass drum set, at a time when that sort of thing just wasn't done. At the 2004 event celebrating his 80th birthday, Bellson said, appropriately for the inventor and pioneer of double-bass drumming, "I'm not that old; I'm 40 in this leg, and 40 in the other leg." Well said, dude, and you will be missed! Check out this vid of Louie in his prime, thanks to www.wikipedia.com for the info, and keep on drummin'!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

My Little Red Book

Today in rock history, in 1968 the group Love hit the UK chart (on the way to #24) with their album “Forever Changes.” Arthur Lee and Love were another seminal influence on me as a 17-year old aspiring rock star (hey, 40 years later, I’m still trying to be a rock star!). I especially liked the little heart-shaped shades he always wore – the height of fashion in ’68! Love made its early appearances at the Whisky A Go Go and little-known club Bido Lido’s on the Sunset Strip. There, in the presence of such stars as Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix and…Sal Mineo?… Lee and company honed their psychedelic soul sounds and stage show (rumor has it that Hendrix “borrowed” his outlandish style of dress directly from Lee). The band covered the Bacharach/David tune “My Little Red Book” and had an instant Southern California hit, along with “Seven and Seven Is” (when I was a kid I always said, “well, 14…”), and the rest is history. Mr. Lee, unfortunately, fell on some hard times after Love split up, serving 5 years of a 12 year sentence for illegal firearms possession from 1996-2001. He toured with a new version of Love in 2002, and died in 2006 of leukemia. Let’s celebrate Arthur Lee and Love with a couple of vids of their greatest hits from the later version of the band. Thanks to www.bgo-records.com/today/today_in_rock_history.htm and www.wikipedia.org for the info, and keep on rockin’!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Charlie Mac at the Hammond Organ, Part 3

I was able to buy a used "Leslie" speaker a couple of weeks ago to go with my vintage Hammond M-111. It's a Motion Sound Pro-3T, and it is essentially models the top rotor from a Leslie 147 (the bottom rotor is simulated). I wanted to shoot a little demonstration vid to show all my friends on the Organ Forum, who have been invaluable in helping me keep the ol' beast up and running (given all that can go wrong with these things, it's always a miracle that it starts up at all!). So here's a little "Midnight Hour," which shows again my limitations as an organist...oh well, I'll keep plugging away at it, and you all keep on rockin'!

Motion Sound Pro-3T

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Close to You

Today in rock history, February 4, 1983, Karen Carpenter died of heart failure as a result of anorexia, a month before her 33rd birthday. I don’t know if any of you remember how she looked at the end, it was pretty shocking, and helped to put national attention on the tragedy and human toll of this disease. A lot of folks don’t remember her as being a pretty good (ok, better than good, excellent!) drummer, before she took the mic and gave up the drums for lead vocals. And, since I’m a guy (and a drummer), I probably still have a prejudice against “girls” being really good playing a drum kit, but she really was. Whether or not you liked her music, you have to agree she knew her way around the kit (and check out that Ludwig Vistalite kit - similar to what Zeppelin's Bonzo used to play). So let’s celebrate her life, and check out this video of her pounding the skins. Thanks to www.crawdaddy.wolfgangsvault.com for the info, and keep on rockin!

Friday, January 30, 2009

15 Minutes of Fame, Part 3

My Constant Readers may remember a couple of other posts in this series, where I document my "brushes with fame" with rock and roll stars or other music personalities. Well, today I want to mention my encounter as a teenager with Ed King, guitarist for the Strawberry Alarm Clock and Lynyrd Skynyrd (and the writer of the guitar riff from “Sweet Home Alabama.”). In the summer of 1970 I was 18 years old and playing with my brother Jack in a band called “Neva Union Museum” (as I’ve said many times before, all the good band names have been taken!). We had been hired by the Roof Garden Ballroom in Okoboji, IA as a “house band” to open for national recording artists booked to play there that summer. We opened for the Strawberry Alarm Clock (by then down to 4 members and a couple years from a hit record, but still sounding awesome with Mr. King on guitar) on a Saturday night that summer. The next day we had gone back to the ballroom to tear down our equipment. In walks Ed, probably to do the same. He hauled out his Les Paul Goldtop and we proceeded to jam on “Politician” for about a half an hour. A memorable moment in time, and I wish I had some audio or video of the jam, but here is some video of the 'Clock at their reunion in 2007. Ed is the 3rd player from the left in this vid. To see what Ed is up to these days, check out his website at www.edking.net, and keep on rockin!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Lonesome Electric Turkey

Today in rock history, January 24, 1970, Dr. Robert Moog introduced the Minimoog synthesizer. It was smaller, rugged enough to be used onstage, and was more affordable, having dropped to about $2000. Some of you may remember the recording “Switched-On Bach,” by electronic musician Walter Carlos (later to become Wendy Carlos, but that’s a whole different story), released in 1968, using the then-new Moog synthesizer to perform classic Bach compositions. Judging from the picture on the album cover, it would have taken a truck to haul it and team of technicians to program it. By the way, Switched-On Bach was one of the first classical albums to sell 500,000 copies, and (eventually) to go platinum. The Minimoog opened up the synthesizer sound to a whole raft of touring bands, used here most notably by early adopter Frank Zappa and the Mothers (played here by Don Preston) in their recording of “Lonesome Electric Turkey” (God, I love the names of his tunes!) on “Fillmore East Live 1971.” I'm including the other video because, well, it's really strange, and shows Frank and the original Mothers in their prime. By the way, guys, I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure those aren't turkeys you're herding around! Thanks to http://crawdaddy.wolfgangsvault.com/?aid=35309 and www.wikipedia.org for the info, sorry about the lateness of this post, and keep on rockin’!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

How I Spent My Summer Vacation, Part 2

On these subzero days, it's good to look back on a hot August night and relive some good garage band rock. The 2008 Too Much Fun reunion was held at my house this year, and a good time was had by all. Check out "20 Flight Rock" with Bob on vocals, Rick on guitar, and yours truly poundin' the skins. Thanks to Mr. Whoamus for the camera work, keep on rockin', and it's on to Bob's in Peoria this summer!

Friday, January 16, 2009

"Are You Experienced?"

The other day I came across a CNN article about the recordings that changed the lives or represented a seminal moment in the development of the various people interviewed. Some of the records featured were:

“Can’t Buy a Thrill” by Steely Dan
“The Wall” by Pink Floyd
“Nights in White Satin” by the Moody Blues
“1984” by Van Halen
“Good Bye Yellow Brick Road” by Elton John
“What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye
“Signals” by Rush
“Life’s Rich Pageant” by R.E.M.

The album that did it for me would be “Are You Experienced?” by the Jimi Hendrix Experience. You have to picture the scene – it was the summer of 1967; me, a 16-year-old hick from small-town Iowa, trying to be cool. Here comes this album, which featured three really freaky-looking guys on the cover, with music that ranged from hyped-up blues rock to pure acid psychedelia (it’s easy for me to categorize the music now, using 40-plus years of experience, but back then, I didn’t know what the hell to call it; it was just cool music that blew my mind, even without an MTV video to stare at). I played it constantly and played it loud, using a child’s mono phonograph hot-wired to a Silvertone bass amp (since my brother played guitar, we had plenty of amps lying around, but no decent stereo); when the needle started to wear out, we weighted the tone arm with a drum key to keep the record from skipping (which would horrify the audiophile purist, I’m sure). Even now, the record still knocks me out when I play it (my enjoyment made bittersweet due to the recent death of Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell); where else can you hear a frizzy-haired black guy singing, “Excuse me while I kiss the sky?” (or “kiss this guy,’ if you misheard the lyrics like I did). So let’s go back to those days of black light posters and freak outs, and ask the question again: “Have You Ever Been Experienced?” (“Well, I Have…”)

That’s my story – what’s yours?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

"Never Mind the Bollocks..."

… Here’s the Sex Pistols.” Today in rock history, on January 14, 1978, The Sex Pistols ended their first and only US tour at San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom; when Johnny Rotten snarled and walked offstage, it also marked the end of the Sex Pistols. Ah, but despite the hype and the controversy, they were a great band. Let’s enjoy some ‘Pistols video in a rare studio version of "God Save the Queen." And for those of you unfamiliar with British slang, “bollocks” is often used to mean “nonsense” or “useless,” and as an expression to show contempt for something. Thanks to http://crawdaddy.wolfgangsvault.com/?aid=35309 and www.wikipeida.org for the info, and keep on rockin’! (only let’s do it with some ‘tude!).

Thursday, January 8, 2009

"Live at the Fillmore..."

Countless concert recordings have featured this title, and recordings from the Fillmores East and West have become legendary examples of the genre. Today we celebrate the life of rock promoter extraordinaire Wolfgang Grajonca, better know as Bill Graham. He was born today in 1931 in Berlin, Germany and died on October 25, 1991. His promotion career began in the mid-60’s when he moved from New York to San Francisco to be closer to his sister, and began managing the San Francisco Mime Troupe. From there he moved on to promoting concerts and the rest is Bay Area music history. It could be argued that he singlehandedly launched the careers of bands like the Grateful Dead and the Jefferson Airplane by continually featuring them at his venues the Fillmore West and the Winterland ballroom. Hours and hours of archival concert recordings from Graham-promoted concerts and others can now be found at www.wolfgangsvault.com, where the recordings can be streamed or purchased. Here is an interview with Bill that features the Byrds at the Fillmore East in 1970. Thanks to http://crawdaddy.wolfgangsvault.com/ and www.wikipedia.com for the info, and keep on rockin’!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

All in the Family

Whenever I get together with any one (or all) of my musical brothers, we try to get a jam going. This weekend my brother Mike and his family were visiting, so I pressed him into service to help me get a vid of my new song, "Get On With It!," a song I wrote on Thanksgiving day while digesting the turkey and avoiding the football games on TV. It's what I call a 21st century protest song. That's me on bass, brother Mike on guitar, son Cody on drums, and my niece Julie falling in on the Hammond organ. Thanks to all that helped, happy new year, and keep on rockin!