Friday, December 31, 2010

Big Boss Man

... and I do mean BIG... ok, enough cheap jokes on Elvis' weight...and while we're on the subject of the King, and it being conveniently New Year's Eve, here's Elvis' last NYE concert in Pittsburg in 1976. Enjoy, take care, don't party too hard, and we'll see you next year...oh, and keep on rockin'!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Secret Agent Man

Today in rock history, in 1970, Elvis Presley paid a visit to President Richard M. Nixon at the White House in Washington, D.C. The meeting was initiated by Presley, who wrote Nixon a six-page letter requesting a visit with the President and suggesting that he be made a "Federal Agent-at-Large" in the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.

Seems incredible, but it’s true! The back story is the following: On December 19, 1970, Presley was confronted by his wife, Priscilla, and his father, Vernon, over his spending habits. Angered by their confrontation, Presley left Graceland and made his way to the airport, boarding a flight to Washington D.C. After checking into the Hotel Washington, Presley flew to Los Angeles to meet his friend Jerry Schilling.

Due to an allergic reaction Presley experienced with medication for an eye infection, aggravated by chocolate that he ate on the plane, a rash had developed on his face and neck. After seeing a doctor and getting some sleep, Presley informed Schilling that he wanted to return to Washington D.C., and arranged for another friend, Sonny West, to meet them. On the flight Presley met California senator George Murphy. Presley showed an interest in acquiring a Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs badge, and Murphy suggested that Presley write to President Nixon offering his services to help combat illicit drug use. Presley wrote a letter on the plane and hand delivered it to the White House at 6.30am on the morning of December 21.

A few hours later Presley visited the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs headquarters in Washington D.C., meeting with Deputy Director John Finlator. He was unsuccessful in persuading Finlator to give him a BNDD badge. Schilling received a call at the hotel from Egil Krogh, President Nixon's deputy counsel, to arrange a meeting between Presley and Nixon. After picking up Schilling and West from the hotel, Presley made his way to the White House. (He came bearing gifts for the President, once of which was a silver-plated Colt 45 revolver – can you imaging trying to wander into the White House packin’ heat in this day and age – you’d be shot on sight! Ah well, it was 1970!). All three met with Nixon and received gifts. Presley persuaded Nixon to give him a BNDD badge, and after an official photograph was taken, the trio left, with Presley returning to Graceland the following day.

On December 30, Presley returned to Washington D.C. with a few friends to visit the National Sheriffs Association head office. The next day they were given a tour of FBI headquarters, where Presley offered his services as an undercover agent. Despite never getting to meet FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, Presley did receive a letter from him on January 4, 1971, acknowledging his offer of assistance.

And that, thankfully, was the end of that – Elvis undoubtedly moved on to other things, and a national crisis was averted!

This song by Johnny Rivers seems appropriate, and is incidentally one of the songs on the set list when I played my first ever paying gig with my band “The Rebellious Revelles” in Fall of 1965.

Thanks to, and keep on rockin’!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I'm a King Bee

For this week’s blues spotlight, we focus on Slim Harpo (January 11, 1924 – January 31, 1970). He was an American blues musician. He was known as a master of the blues harmonica and the name "Slim Harpo" was derived from "harp," the popular nickname for the harmonica in blues circles. Born James Moore in Lobdell, Louisiana, the eldest in an orphaned family, he worked as a longshoreman and building worker during the late 1930s and early 1940s. He began performing in Baton Rouge bars under the name Harmonica Slim and later accompanied his brother-in-law, Lightnin' Slim, both live and in the studio. Named Slim Harpo by producer J.D. "Jay" Miller, he started his own recording career in 1957. His solo debut was the Grammy Hall of Fame single "I'm a King Bee" backed with "I Got Love If You Want It. Harpo recorded under A&R man J.D. "Jay" Miller, in Crowley, Louisiana for Excello Records based in Nashville, Tennessee, and enjoyed a string of popular R&B singles, including Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee "Rainin' In My Heart" (1961) and the number one Billboard R&B hit "Baby Scratch My Back" (1966). On these recordings he was accompanied by the regular stable of Excello musicians, including Lazy Lester. British rock bands like The Rolling Stones, The Pretty Things, The Yardbirds, Pink Floyd and Them featured versions of his songs in their early repertoires. Later, the riff from Harpo's 1966 hit "Shake Your Hips", which itself was derivative of Bo Diddley's "Bring It to Jerome," was used in the ZZ Top hit "La Grange" and the Rolling Stones covered the song on their 1972 album Exile On Main Street. Also, Th' Legendary Shack Shakers covered and released "Shake Your Hips" in 2003 on their album Cockadoodledon't. Never a full-time musician, Harpo had his own trucking business during the 1960s. He died following a heart attack at the age of 46, and was buried in Mulatto Bend Cemetery in Port Allen, Louisiana. Let's enjoy Slim's “I'm a King Bee,” the song that was the inspiration for “The Blues Brothers.” Thanks to for the info, and keep on rockin’!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Come Together...

This was one of John's favorite songs..."It was a funky record - it's one of my favorite Beatles tracks, or, one of my favorite Lennon tracks, let's say that. It's funky, it's bluesy, and I'm singing it pretty well. I like the sound of the record. You can dance to it. I'll buy it!" RIP John, can't believe it's been 30 years, I still love and miss you madly. Thanks to "Classic Rock Stories," by Tim Morse, St Martin's Griffin, New York, 1998, for the info, and keep on rockin'!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Tighten Up Your Wig...

For this week's blues artist spotlight, we turn to Junior Wells. "Junior," (December 9, 1934 – January 15, 1998[1]), born Amos Wells Blakemore Jr.,was a blues vocalist and harmonica player and recording artist based in Chicago, who was also famous for playing with Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, Bonnie Raitt, The Rolling Stones and Van Morrison. In Aces Wild we cover his "Messin' with the Kid." What I want to highlight today, though, is a song by Steppenwolf called "Tighten Up Your Wig," which is really "Messin'" with different words - John Kay does acknowledge Junior Wells in the lyrics to the song, and that he "stole this from him, and he from someone else". Just goes to show,again, how riffs and ideas for songs are freely lifted from what has come before (I will freely acknowledge that I steal my chord progressions from Buddy Holly). Check out the Steppenwolf song along with Junior's orginal, and come listen to Aces Wild's version live at the Hidden Harbor Bar in St. Paul Park on 12-11. Thanks to for the info, and keep on rockin'!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I'm a Soul Man...

Today in rock history, Donald “Duck” Dunn was born in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1941. Most well known for his work with Booker T and the MG's and as a session bassist for Stax Records, he also got considerable screen time as a member of the Blues Brothers Band, known for being “Tight as a fist and meaner than a junkyard dog.” He also had one of the most memorable lines in the 1980 Blues Brothers movie: “We had a band that could turn goat piss into gasoline.” As a gentleman farmer and owner of a couple goats, I could use that formula! At any rate, let's celebrate “Duck's” life by watching this vid of the Blues Brothers in action (sort of). Thanks to for the info, keep on rockin', and have a safe and happy Turkey Day!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Side Tracked...

This week’s blues spotlight is on Freddie King (September 3, 1934 – December 28, 1976), thought to have born as Frederick Christian, originally recording as Freddy King, and nicknamed "the Texas Cannonball". He was an influential African-American blues guitarist and singer. He is often mentioned as one of "the Three Kings" of electric blues guitar, along with Albert King and B.B. King. Freddie King based his guitar style on Texas and Chicago influences and was one of the first bluesmen to have a multi-racial backing band onstage with him at live performances. He is best known for singles such as "Have You Ever Loved A Woman" (1960) and his Top 40 hit "Hide Away" (1961). He is also known for albums such as the early, instrumental-packed Let's Hide Away and Dance Away with Freddy King (1961) and the later album Burglar (1974), which displayed King's mature versatility as both player and singer in a range of blues and funk styles. King had a twenty-year recording career and became established as an influential guitarist with hits for Federal Records, in the early 1960s. He inspired American musicians from Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimmie Vaughan, and others. His influence was also felt in UK, through recordings by blues revivalists such as, Eric Clapton, Peter Green, and Chicken Shack. King died from heart failure on December 28, 1976, age forty two.

In the Aces Wild band, we open all of our shows with Freddie’s “Sidetracked.” Thanks to for the info, and keep on rockin’!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Gales of November came early...

Today in rock history, 35 years ago today, the "Edmund Fitzgerald" went down on Lake Superior near Whitefish Bay, giving the inspiration for the Gordon Lightfoot song of the same name. If you haven't seen the EF display in the maritime museum in Duluth, by all means do so; it's an eerie display that reinforces the fact that no one still really knows what happened that day. Thanks to Chris Mohr for the inspiration, and keep on rockin', respectfully, on the anniversary of this sad day in maritime history.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Goodness Gracious...

great balls of fire! Today in rock history, in 1957, Sun Records releases "Great Balls of Fire," written by Otis Blackwell (who penned "Don't Be Cruel" and others for Elvis Presley). By the second week in December, the single is ensconced in the Top Ten on the pop, country and R&B charts. It becomes the best-selling record in Sun's history. My favorite version of this tune is this one done by Johnny Winter And in 1971. Thanks to for the info, and keep on rockin'!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

You Give Me Nothin’ But the Blues…

… but baby, still I go for you… This week’s blues artist spotlight is on Guitar Slim, an artist we cover in my blues band, Aces Wild Rockin’ Blues Revue. Eddie "Guitar Slim" Jones (December 10, 1926 – February 7, 1959) was born in Greenwood, Mississippi, United States. His mother died when he was five, and his grandmother raised him, as he spent his teen years in the cotton fields. He spent his free time at the local juke joints and started sitting in as a singer or dancer; he was good enough to be nicknamed "Limber Leg.” After returning from World War II military service, he started playing clubs around New Orleans, Louisiana. Bandleader Willie D. Warren introduced him to the guitar, and he was particularly influenced by T-Bone Walker and Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown. About 1950 he adopted the stage name 'Guitar Slim' and started becoming known for his wild stage act. He wore bright-colored suits and dyed his hair to match them, had an assistant follow him around the audience with up to 350 feet of cord between amplifier and guitar (boy did he ever need a wireless rig!) and would occasionally get up on his assistant's shoulders, or even take his guitar outside the club and bring traffic to a stop. His sound was just as unusual — he was playing with distorted guitar more than a decade before rock guitarists did the same, and his gospel-influenced vocals were easily identifiable. He got together with Muddy Waters in Los Angeles, California for some lively playing. His first recording session was in 1951, and he had a minor rhythm and blues hit in 1952 with "Feelin' Sad", which Ray Charles covered. His biggest success was "The Things That I Used to Do" (1954). The song was released on Art Rupe's Specialty Records label. The song spent weeks at number one on the R&B charts and sold over a million copies, soon becoming a blues standard. He recorded on many labels, including Delmark Records and Specialty Records. The recordings made in 1954 and 1955 for Specialty are his best. His career having faded, Guitar Slim became an alcoholic, and then died of pneumonia in New York City at age thirty-two. Guitar Slim is buried in a small cemetery in Thibodaux, Louisiana, where his manager, Hosea Hill, resided. Another tragic story of a blues artist dying an untimely death at a very young age. Check out the original version of his “You Give Me Nothin’ But the Blues”, thanks to for the info, and keep on rockin’, but in a bluesy way!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Drums Are My Beat...

... ya think? Today in rock history, in 1959, Sandy Nelson hits #4 with "Teen Beat." Born in 1938, Sandy was also a session drummer and hung out with Jan and Dean in high school. He had a severe motorcycle accident in 1963 where he lost his right foot and part of his right leg, but he kept right on drumming, releasing 2-3 albums a year through the '70's. He now lives in Boulder City, Nevada and continues to experiment with music on keyboards and piano, and released an album in 2008. Thanks to and for the info, and let's check out "Teen Beat" one more time - keep on beatin' those skins!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I' m a Soul Man

Today in rock history, Sam Moore was born in Miami, Florida, 1935. He is best known for his work as the Sam of the soul music duo Sam and Dave, where he was the higher tenor voice. Sam worked with Dave Prater, who died in 1988, from 1961 to 1970, recording a number of top 10 soul hits for Atlantic and Stax records; then went on to a solo career. His latest recording, released in 2006, is "Overnight Sensational," where he is paired with such artists as Sting, Bruce Springsteen, Mariah Carey, and Jon Bon Jovi. There's a nice interview with Sam that aired this past Sunday on local radio station 89.3 The Current, and you can check it out at Check out Sam and Dave doing one of my favorites, "Soul Man." Thanks to and for the info, and keep on rockin'!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Timothy Leary's Dead...

no, no, no, no He's outside...looking in. Today in rock history, in 1966, a new federal law makes possession of LSD illegal. When I had heard that, prior to this date, LSD was actually legal, it just blew my mind. To think that all the hippies in San Francisco (and the Angels, too) were blowing their minds legally in ’65 and earlier in ’66 with this stuff…wow. Well, Timothy Leary truly is dead… Thanks to, keep on rockin’ (legally), and have a safe trip…

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

"More Cowbell!"

Today in rock history, in 1973, Grand funk Railroad hits #1 with “We’re An American Band.” If you’ve ever seen Christopher Walken’s famous Saturday Night Live sketch imploring Will Ferrell and Blue Oyster Cult that he needs “More Cowbell,” you’ll know that this song embodies the spirit of that request. Here is my band North of Nowhere’s version of this song, taped live at the Ugly Mug, Farmington, MN, on 5-15-09. Thanks to for the info, and keep on rockin’, and please, more cowbell!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Keep on Rockin'...

... in the free world...Today in rock history, in 1989, Neil Young released 'Freedom,' his best album in a decade. A blistering performance of the opening track, "Rockin' in the Free World," on 'Saturday Night Live' is regarded as one of that show's best performances. Even though it is an intense performance, Neil never liked doing TV: Just the look on his face was enough. He really seemed insane. YOUNG: 'Yeah, well I was. I don't like TV. Never have. It always sucks and there's nothing you can do about it. You can't just walk on and do 'Rockin' in the Free World,' or you'll look like a fuckin' idiot. To perform that song the way it's supposed to be performed you have to be at peak blood level, everything has to be up, the machine has to be stoked. To do that I had to ignore Saturday Night Live completely. I had to pretend I wasn't there.' So Young developed 'a brand new technique for doing TV' - a half-hour before going on he worked out with his trainer, lifting weights and doing calisthenics to get himself wired. "

Since I must have been under a rock at the time and missed it, and since it is one of my most favorite Neil Young songs ever, now is the time to enjoy it one more time! Thanks to and for the info, and, well, you know what to do!

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Black Bottom Stomp

Today in rock history (although this may be a stretch for some of you), in 1926, Jelly Roll Morton recorded his classic “Black Bottom Stomp” in a Chicago studio at the first of many small group sessions. His seven-man band, the Red Hot Peppers, included such esteemed musicians as trombonist Kid Ory and banjoist Johnny St. Orr. This is another argument that early jazz and blues recordings had an effect on the rock musicians of the '60's and '70's; for example, the use of a drum kit in a New Orleans-style song and a percussive "slapped" bass. Check it out in this video, and thanks to and for the info, and keep on rockin', New Orleans-style!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Good Ol' Boys Were Drinkin' Whiskey and Rye...

Singing this will be the day that I in rock history, in 1972, Don McClean hits #1 with "American Pie." Based loosely on "The Day the Music Died," that bitter February day in 1959 when the plane carrying Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens (among others) went down in that Iowa cornfield, this song was Don's only major hit and signature song. Many interpretations of the lyrics exist, but Don preferred to let the music speak for itself, and refused to discuss the meaning of the lyrics. Let's enjoy the video one more time, and keep on rockin'! Thanks to for the info.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

... And it Stoned Me...

... down to my soul...I want to take a minute to clue you in to my latest faves, the Belfast Cowboys, a Van Morrison tribute band I caught at one of the free stages at the Minnesota State Fair last night. Led by frontman Terry Walsh (who does a spot-on Van Morrison impersonation) and featuring local lounge lizard Vic Volare on tenor sax, this nine piece band plays the Van the Man catalogue with note-for-note precision, and a lot of soul. I especially liked Terry's numerous local references during an extended version of "Gloria." So, if you're in the Twin Cities, check 'em out at the Fair tonight, or at their site, or with their numberous YouTube vids. Thanks, and keep on rockin', "Van the Man" style!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I Was Born a Ramblin' Man...

... tryin' to make a livin', doin' the best I can...Today in rock history,on this date in 1973, 'Brothers and Sisters,' by the Allman Brothers Band, is released. It is their highest charting (#1) and longest charting (56 weeks) album. I've always been a big Allman Brothers fan (on constant rotation on my garage 8-track player - "Live at Fillmore East"). I was fortunate enough to see them in 1971 before Duane passed, and they're the only band I've seen then or since where the roadies set up more equipment during the break, so that the band can come back and jam for 45 minutes on "Mountain Jam." So let's enjoy the video of this memorable Allmans tune, and keep on rockin". Thanks to for the info.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Just a Chip Off the Old Block...

Today in rock history, Peter Edward "Ginger" Baker was born in Lewisham, South London, in 1939. I won't bore you with details of Ginger's life (I probably wrote a post last year at this time when he turned 70). What is pretty cool though (and something I didn't know), is that his son, Kofi, is also a professional drummer. This hits home for me, as I have three sons, aged 14, 17 and 21, and they are all drummers as well. So it can be a noisy house at times! Check out this drum solo duet from Ginger and Kofi back in 2000, thanks to and for the info, and keep on rockin', family style!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

You Can’t Raise a Caine Back Up…

… when he’s in defeat… Today in rock history, in 1971, Joan Baez hits #3 with the Band song "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down." This song has a special interest to me for several reasons. I’m an American Civil War buff, and, since the song has a “war between the states” theme to it, I like to listen to the lyrics for Civil War references. In my band “North of Nowhere,” we cover the Band’s version of the song, which to me is notable in that I had to transpose the bass part up ½ step (the guitarists get to use a capo, but no self-respecting bassist is going to use one of those contraptions, so you gotta transpose), so the song ends up in the key of A#, which is a strange key, to say the least. Plus, I just like the song! Thanks to for the info. Check out the Band’s version from “the Last Waltz,” and a cute clip from "The Muppets" featuring Joan Baez (lookin' mighty fine, I might add), and keep on rockin’!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

When you're lost in the rain in Jaurez...

...and it's Windsor time too...this is a personal to Mr. Whoamus; here is a taste of what you missed (not to rub it in or anything). NON's cover of Tom Thumb's Blues, with special guests John on drums, Steve on keys (he's got a Nord Electro Stage 73 - I'd kill for keyboard like that!), and Tom sittin' in on lead guitar. It was pouring, but it didn't dampen our enthusiasm one bit...enjoy, and keep on rockin'! (don't forget Aces Wild at the Hidden Harbor Marina Bar on Saturday!)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

We Ain't Fakin'...

...whole lotta shakin'goin' on ...Today in rock history, in 1957, "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" enters the Top Forty, remaining there for 20 weeks. The song gets a boost when Jerry Lee Lewis performs it on The Steve Allen Show on July 28. It peaks at #3 and tops the country and R&B charts. Probably 'nuff said about ol' Jerry Lee and his various scandals, so let's just focus on the music. Here's that original performance from 1957, and a funky cover of this tune, done by George Clinton in 2001. Check 'em out, and keep on rockin'!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Gonna Get By...

... with a little help from my friends. Today in rock history, in 1940, Ringo Starr was born Richard Starkey in Liverpool, England. To build on what Mr. Whoamus stated in a recent blog entry, probably the smartest thing Ringo ever did was develop the concept of the All-Starr Band, where he gives "B List" rock stars (and I mean the term in the kindest way) a chance to play their big hits in an all-star variety format. Mr.Whoamus and I and our spouses took in an All-Starr show at the MN State Fair way back in '01, and I agree that it was probably the finest rock show I've ever seen; that tour featured Greg Lake, Sheila E., Roger Hodgson, Ian Hunter, Howard Jones and Mark Rivera. This year, the 11th tour features Edgar Winter, Gary Wright, Richard Page, Wally Palmar, Rick Derringer and Gregg Bissonette. I'm glad to see that Ringo is still going strong at 70. Let's check out the current tour with this clip of a collage of the hits. Thanks to,, and for the info, and keep on rockin'!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Rock and Roll Is Here to Stay!

Today in rock history, Chuck Berry hits #2 on the R&B chart and #29 on the pop chart with the Chess single "Roll Over Beethoven." Little Richard hits #2 on the R&B chart and #33 (6/30) on the pop chart with "Slippin' and Slidin' (Peepin' and Hidin')" and #1 on the R&B chart and #17 (8/04) on the pop chart with "Rip It Up". Both singles are released on Specialty Records. This, then, is a red-letter day for fans of ‘50’s rock; these songs have been covered countless times by everybody from the Beatles and the Rolling Stones to Meat Loaf and Otis Redding, as well as just about every high school ‘50’s band (mine included). In 2004, "Roll Over Beethoven" was ranked number 97 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest songs of all time. Here are a couple of the more (shall we say) unkown cover versions of these songs. Thanks to and for the info, and keep on rockin’!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

I Drink Alone...

... with nobody else...if you come to see Aces Wild Rockin' Blues Revue at the Ugly Mug tomorrow night, you can hear us play a killer version of this tune, as well as 29 other rockin' blues tunes! Hope to see you there, and keep on rockin', in a bluesy kind of way!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Summer of Love

Today in rock history, in 1967, the Monterey Pop Festival begins in California. 50,000 see first major US appearances of the Who, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, and the introduction of Otis Redding, Ravi Shankar and Hugh Masakela to rock audiences --plus Byrds, Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and more. Ah yes, the "Summer of Love;" where were you in the summer of '67? I was a soon-to-be driving 16-year-old, just itchin' for the chance to hot rod around town in my parents' yellow '67 Mustang; that would come later, in August. In the meantime, we had all this groovy music a happenin' out in Monterey; obviously I didn't make the scene (I could barely get from the farm into "town," much less get out to California), but let's enjoy Eric Burdon and the Animals' documentation of the event, and keep on rockin'!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

This F***ing Job

Speaking of employment, this one is dedicated to Mr. Who - hope it works out, and hope you still have one... keep on rockin' in any case!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

It's Just a Kiss away...

Today in rock history, in 1941, Charlie Watts was born Charles Robert Watts in London, England. As well as being my namesake, Charlie is one of my favorite rock drummers, which is odd, since he really doesn't consider himself a rock drummer; his tastes have always run to jazz and R&B. No matter where his interests lie, he has always been an integral part of the Rolling Stones; guitarist Keith Richards went so far as to say in a 2005 Guitar Player magazine interview that the Rolling Stones would not be, or could not continue as, the Rolling Stones without Watts. An example of Watts's importance was demonstrated in 1993, after Bill Wyman had left the band. After auditioning several bassists, Jagger and Richards asked Watts to choose the new bass player; he selected the respected session musician Darryl Jones, who had previously been a sideman for both Miles Davis and Sting. Lately, "Watts At Scott's" was recorded with his group, The Charlie Watts Tentet, at the famous jazz club in London, Ronnie Scott's. In April 2009 he started to do concerts with "The ABC&D of Boogie Woogie" together with pianists Axel Zwingenberger and Ben Waters plus his childhood friend Dave Green on bass. Charlie has always been, to my mind, a minimalist, less-is-more kind of drummer, illustrated here by his use of the "traditional grip," his hi-hat work, and in his approach to "Gimme Shelter." Glad to see ol' Charlie is still doin' it at age 69! Thanks to for the info, and keep on rockin'!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

It Takes a Lot of Water...

…to wash away New Orleans. Today in rock history, in 1940, Levon Helm (born Mark Lavon Helm), drummer and vocalist with the Band, is born in Marvell, Arkansas. I’ve always been a fan of Levon and the Band (any drummer who can keep a solid back beat while singing lead is aces in my book). The title of this blog comes from "Hurricane," a favorite Levon Helm tune of mine. “North of Nowhere,” my other band, is a fan too, and we play 4 or 5 Band and Levon Helm tunes. The Band broke up in 1976, but Levon went on to mount a very successful solo career. Here's Levon playing "Got Me A Woman" live in August of 2008. Come see us at the Windsor Bar near Hayward, WI, on July 17, and you can see and hear us play several Band and Levon Helm covers. Let’s celebrate Levon’s life and reaching 70 years – he’s still out there creating great music - Helm released Electric Dirt on his own label on June 30, 2009. The album won a best album Grammy for the newly created American category in 2010. He performed on the David Letterman show on July 9, 2009. He toured, in a supporting role, with the Black Crowes in 2009. Thanks to and for the info, and keep on rockin’!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

"It's The Blues"

Today in rock history, in 1946, Johnny Moore's Three Blazers, featuring Charles Brown hit #2 on the R&B chart with "Drifting Blues". In 1948, The Ravens hit #8 on the R&B chart with "Bye Bye Baby Blues." These two early blues hits are cases in point to illustrate how music is constantly reinventing itself and nothing is really new. Even before these songs were recorded, you had Robert Johnson, Son House, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Skip James, etc, recording in the 20’s and ‘30’s; then you had the likes of Cream, The Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin, etc, discovering these tunes in the ‘60’s and introducing them to a new generation of fans. It’s like the lyrics to my song “It’s The Blues” go:

“(It started) down in Mississippi, In 1922; Now all the hippies, Are playin’ the blues, too; It’s The Blues, Nothin’ But the blues, They’re Playin’ the blues…”

(I don’t have a good recording of this song yet but I’ll get it up here as soon as I do). At any rate, I may be pointing out the obvious, but what goes around, comes around again. I’m just glad to finally be playing a blues band after being a fan all my life. Let’s enjoy some good blues now with Charles Brown’s rendition of his song “Driftin’ Blues.” Come see my band Aces Wild Rockin' Blues Revue at the Ugly Mug on 6-25, and keep on rockin’!

Friday, May 7, 2010

I'll Cry Just a LIttle...

because you have to...go away. Today in rock history, in 1965, "Just a Little," by the Beau Brummels, becomes a Top Ten hit. It is the second biggest single released on the San Francisco-based Autumn Records, cofounded by legendary deejay Tom Donahue. This is really a deju-vu moment because we used to do this song back in the day, but I haven't thought of it in years... I can still picture D. J. Smith (the band's name was "D. J. Child's Society Banned") croakin' out the lyrics to this tune...let's check it out again, and keep on rockin'!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

That's Ok,

... I've still got my saxophone...I finally have some video to show you of my new band, the Aces Wild Blues Revue. We've been together all of four weeks, and decided to try out a few tunes on the public at an open mic at McCracken's Pub in Burnsville, MN on Sunday last. Here we are covering Jimi Hendrix's "Red House," broken snare drum and all (we also had a mystery guest keyboard player - he is a jammer, not a member of our band, but we appreciated his efforts). Left to right we've got Jim "The Wizard" Nelson on lead guitar, yours truly on drums, Dana Isaacs on bass, and Doug "Ace" Barton on sax. We hope to play our first full gig at the Ugly Mug in Farmington on 6-25, so stay tuned - this is gonna be a great ride!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

It's Alright Now...

… in fact it’s a gas! On this date in rock history, in 1968, The Rolling Stones record "Jumpin' Jack Flash", which will reach #1 in the UK and #3 in the US by next July. Mr. Whoamus and I have some history with this song; back in the day, when we used to jam Sunday afternoons, we’d work on this tune. Don’t know if we ever got it down, but it was fun trying…check out the boys here as they rip through this tune, live in Rio from 2006 or therabouts. Thanks to for the info, and keep on rockin’!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Up Against the Wall...

... Redneck Mother! I've always been a big Jerry Jeff Walker fan (ever since I saw him in Ames, IA, in 1978, after he showed up late to the gig after going to Des Moines instead of Ames - hell, all these Iowa towns look alike!), so I'm glad that we're fixin' to play some vintage Jerry Jeff in the new North of Nowhere band. Check him out here with the Gonzo Dog Band from '74, and check out NON at the Windsor Bar near Hayward, WI on 7-17 (and keep on rockin'!)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Kink in the Chain

Saturday last Mr. Whoamus and I made a scouting expedition to a funky little biker bar in the tiny hamlet of Hamel, MN, known as “Inn Kahoots.” My new blues band will likely be booked into that venue this summer, so I wanted to check it out. What we found was an ancient storefront, friendly people, and a crackerjack band of musicians known as “the Retractions” providing the tunes(I kept wondering, though, what are they retracting? I never found out...). They turned out to be an excellent cover band – playing anything and everything from blues to pop, R&B to country. They also played this tune by Mark Selby. Neither Mr. Who nor I had ever heard of this artist or this song, but it just knocked me out, so I just had to find out more about it. According to the blurb on, “although Mark Selby is based in Nashville and has written or co-written songs for major country-pop stars, the earthy, gritty singer/songwriter and guitarist has favored blues-rock and roots rock as a solo artist. Selby isn't from Nashville originally; he was born and raised in Oklahoma and lived in Kansas (where he earned a degree in music composition from Fort Hays State University) before settling in Nashville in the 1990s”…. you get the idea. Check him out here, see what's happenin' at the bar at and check out “The Retractions” at, and keep on rockin’!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

This is a thing I’ve never known before…

… it’s called easy livin’. Today in rock history, in 1970, Uriah Heep released their debut, “Very ‘eavy, Very ‘umble.” For you Hammond aficionados out there (and there’s got to be more than just me), this band was famous partly for doing ‘orrible (ok, that was a bad pun!) things to a Hammond. Keyboardist Ken Hensley was famous for overdriving the crap out his Hammond and Leslie, and for using tube amps for that naturally distorted tube sound. Check out the keyboard sound on “Easy Livin’,” from 1972’s “Demons and Wizards,” and keep on rockin’! (Thanks to (band) for the info)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

"Ace is Wild"

Lately I’ve been asked to join a blues band to be led by Doug “Ace” Barton, saxophonist extraordinaire. Ace is just an amazing musician – I’ve jammed with him 8 or 10 times now and seen him play in lots of different settings and with a variety of musicians, and he has yet to be at a loss of what to play to fit the song’s mood and setting (not to mention knowing the right key, and being able to instantly transpose it to play on his tenor sax). So playing with him is going to be a blast – I’m looking forward to it! Here’s Ace in action with his last band, “Driveline.” Check it out, check out the “Aces Wild Blues Revue” when they come to your town, and keep on rockin’!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What Would You Do...

... if her hair was black and her eyes were blue? Faith and Begorra, it's St. Paddy's Day, and here for your enjoyment are a couple of versions of the ol' Steve Earle song direct from County Cork (or whatever county it's in), "Galway Girl," first by my band the DOLI Llamas, and then by Mr. Earle himself. This kind of face-to-face comparison can be cruel to a novice bassist and singer like myself, so please be kind. Have a safe and happy holiday, and keep on rockin'!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Are You Ready for the Country...

... are you ready for me...Today in rock history, in 1972, Neil Young’s fourth solo album, 'Harvest,' tops the album charts for the first of two weeks. Having sold more than 4 million copies, it remains his best-selling album. I always thought the back cover photo on this album was pretty cool - Neil and the band set up in a rustic hayloft, pretending to be a bunch of hayseeds, while playing this incredible country-rock music. Well, sometimes art imitates life (or is it the other way around) - for a period of time in 1967-68, my band practiced in my friend Craig's hayloft, so Neil, we had the drop on you...nobody talks, however, of how you get all your gear up in the loft - and believe you me, that shit's heavy...let's celebrate with Neil on the continued success of this seminal album, and keep on rockin'! Thanks to for the info...

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Thursday Two-Fer

Today in rock history, in 1967, the Turtles reach #1 with "Happy Together. In 1968,'We’re Only in It for the Money,' by the Mothers of Invention, is released. Composed by bandleader Frank Zappa, it satirizes of hippie culture and the Beatles' 'Sgt. Pepper. You may remember that the Turtles’ frontmen Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman were reincarnated in the late ‘60’s as “Flo and Eddie,” and fronted Zappa’s band for awhile, until Zappa injured himself in 1971 and the band was out of commission. They were also, for a time, one of the most obscene acts touring in the early ‘70’s. One of my favorite LP’s is “The Mothers Live at the Fillmore East 1971,” featuring such immortal (or should I say immoral) songs as “"The Mud Shark,” "What Kind of Girl Do You Think We Are?", "Bwana Dik,” and “Do You Like My New Car.” “The Mud Shark” is supposedly a recounting of a true story about when the Mothers stayed at the famous Edgewater Inn in Seattle, where, as Frank Zappa famously intoned in the song, “You can stick your little pole out the window and actually catch a fish of some sort.” This album is so “R-rated” that I’ve only recently been able to play it in front of my kids. So enjoy this vid as Flo and Eddie and Frank rip through "What Kind of a Girl..." circa 1974. Thanks to and for the info, and keep on rockin’!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Radio Kings

I don't know if you checked out Mr. Whoamus' recent post entitled “Charlie Mac Attack,” but it concerned my old (I mean really old) set of Slingerland Gene Krupa Signature Radio Kings. The badges on this set date it to the mid to late '40's. (For more info on how to date drums by their badge style and type, go to The “rest of the story,” as Paul Harvey once famously intoned, is this: sometime in the fall of 1963, when I was 12 years old, I went over to my friend John's house to dink around. Sitting in his basement were the Slingerland's, owned by his father, I'm guessing, from new. Although I'd never played a drum set before, I was intrigued, and sat down and pounded out a basic beat. Well, I was hooked – I moved on to get a cheap set of Silvertone drums from money saved up raising pigs on the farm, and I watched John play these drums in various bands through junior high and high school. He got a new set of Ludwigs (ironically enough, I owned those, too, for a few years) and I lost track of the Radio Kings. In 1972 I had moved back to my home town for employment, and happened to see the ol' Slingerlands in a pawn shop for 75 bucks. They weren't in real good shape, but for that amount of money, I snatched them up, and they've been with me ever since (except for a short period of time when they were used by Mr. Whoamus' son in his early drumming years). As you can see from the pix, they've gone through some changes:

Here's another pix of the set from last December, that shows a bit more. They used to be yellow marine pearl (same color as a lot of Krupa's sets), but I had to remove that finish more than 15 years ago when it started to chip and peel off.

Here is the set the day I brought it home (being played by a 21 one year old, 1972 version of yours truly as well)

Here I am holdin' down the backline of my band “Too Much Fun,” circa 1975 (I'd kill to have that hair again!)

Here I am all greased up and rockin' during our '50's set, pic taken in 1976 or so. Yow!

So fast forward to 2010, I'm just glad to be still rockin', and still playin' the ol' Radio Kings.

Gene Krupa would approve.

P.S. What happened to my friend John? Well, he's still rockin' as well: check out his band “Echos V” ( down in West Des Moines, IA. As you can see, old guys (and old drums) never die, they just keep on rockin'!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Only You Know and I Know...

... and if you were there, you'd know how difficult this song is to play drums to...Sunday night at the open mic at McCracken's in Burnsville was Valentine's Day, and featured several female vocalists, and one couple, who did this song. I was fortunate to be behind the skins for this song, and it was a real rave-up, for sure - saw lots of wide grins on the here's the original done by Delaney and Bonnie back in '69. Enjoy, and we'll see you back at McCracken's on the 28th...keep on rockin'!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

That Old Beat Up Guitar...

There seem to be a fair number of songs out there that guys write about their guitars. "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" by George Harrison, "Perfectly Good Guitar" by John Hiatt, and "That Old Beat Up Guitar" by Jerry Jeff Walker are three that come to mind. So, while I'm not going to write one about mine, I do want to point out that I got a new guitar today - well, new to me, anyway - a 1979 vintage Yamaha FG331 in pristine condition. Got it for a song, as they say...I seem to have pretty good luck finding the bargains out there; right before Christmas I got an Amigo acoustic-electric bass (with case) for a hundred bucks, and this Yamaha was quite a bargain too. I like its bright, chimey tone, and body size, somewhere between a folk guitar and a dreadnaught. So, while it's not beat up, it's pretty old, so let's listen to ol' Jerry Jeff sing about his prized possession; and keep on rockin'!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Feelin' Alright?

… feelin’ pretty good myself! Coming off a bad cold that dogged me all week, and a an unintended 3 week hiatus of my band (scheduling conflicts kept us from getting together), and faced with no music action until our next gig at the Ugly Mug on 2-20, I was bored and itchin’ to play. So I did an exhaustive study of open mics and jam sessions south of the river here in Mpls/Paul, and have discovered the mother lode of undiscovered gems. Sunday night it was the open blues jam at McCracken’s Pub in Savage, hosted by the Big River Blues Band, where my good bud Mr. Whoamus and I checked out some excellent singers, pickers and drummers – great talent there; I got up on stage and played along with the house band on “Got My Mojo Workin’” and “Ain’t Superstitious.” Last night it was the open mic at the American Legion in Apple Valley, hosted by “Hydraulic Woman,” featuring Kristin Schuldt and friends in the house band. I arrived late, but still was able to get up on stage to drum on “Brown Eyed Girl,” “Gloria,” “Hey Bartender,” and the set-closing rave-up “Feelin’ Alright?” An excellent time was had by all, and I want to thank Kristin and the gang, especially “Ron,” their drummer, who was forgiving when clumsy me knocked over his hi-hat just trying to get off the stage. It also goes to show what a small world the music scene in the Twin Cities is – turns out I had met Ron before when he played a show with the K G Band at the Contented Cow in Northfield last September, and Blaine Prout, lead guitarist for Roger Holmes and Rockers’ Lament, another of my fave bands, has played in Hydraulic Woman in the past. So enjoy a little “Feelin’ Alright?”, played here by Dave Mason and friends at his induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004 – I echo his sentiments in his acceptance speech – it’s great to be playing this much music at my age! and keep on rockin’!
P.S. See you at the jam at the Savage Legion Saturday night – so many places to play, so little time!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

It's So Easy

… to steal a riff… Today in rock history, in 1956, Buddy Holly heads to Nashville for his first official recording session for Decca Records. Overseen by veteran country producer Owen Bradley, the session yields four tracks, including Holly's debut single ("Blue Days, Black Nights") and a classic cover ("Midnight Shift"). I wanted to take this opportunity to pay homage to Buddy, since I have been known to steal his chord progressions for the majority of my songs. Oh well, if you’re going to steal, steal from the best. Enjoy these recordings of "Blue Days" (a rockabilly classic), and "It's So Easy." Thanks to for the info and keep on rockin’!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

You Didn't Try to Call Me...

… why didn't you try, I was so lonely…On this day in rock history in 1954, Hank Ballard & the Midnighters hits #1 on the R&B chart and #22 on the pop chart with "Work With Me Annie", #2 on the R&B chart with "Sexy Ways and #1 on the R&B chart and #23 on the pop chart with "Annie Had A Baby". All were banned by the FCC from radio air play for being “too risque’” for the time. Hank Ballard, the poster boy for doo-wop music, was always a convenient target for Frank Zappa’s parodies of that genre, as seen here in “You Didn’t Try to Call Me,” a track on the Mothers’ 1967 album “Freak Out!," done here very nicely by Flo and Eddie and featuring the truly amazing Anysley Dunbar on drums. Where am I going with all this? Well, I’m not sure, but it just goes to show how things are related in rock music, and how one thing leads to another…plus, I'm always looking for an excuse to post about Frank and the Mothers’ music!

Thanks to and for the info, and keep on rockin’!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

You In a Heap A Trouble, Boy!

Police brutality, Cool Hand Luke version...check out this vid of my new song "Sandpit," which, while telling a tale of some high school kids about to be in serious trouble with The Law, really has nothing to do with me! Come see Whiskey and Rebellion at the Ugly Mug on 1-15, and keep on rockin'!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Baby, It's a Cold, Hard World Out There...

... broken-hearted people everywhere...I would also submit that it's just freakin' cold pretty much anywhere in the US right now! If you're willing to brave the cold, though, come out tonight and see my band's cover of this great Steve Earle song - Whiskey and Rebellion, Arizona's, Shakopee, MN, 9 to midnight - you won't be sorry. Keep on rockin'!