Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Two-fer Tuesday: The Son's Choices

My son is visiting this week, so I told him to pick a couple videos. Here are his choices.

First up, Golden Earring - cuz you can never get enough dramatic spy music videos and cheesy 80s dancing. All at the same time.

And Billy Idol. Because nothing says cheesy 80s dancing better than cheesy dancing zombies!

Of course, it wouldn't be an adequate Two-fer Tuesday without a bonus or two. How about some cheesy 80s dancing with older Brits from the Kinks?

Perhaps a little cheesy 80s stop animation dancing from Men At Work is in order, too. *Now with extra random old lady appearance!*

Ah, I do believe I've taught him well. He's even grown a thin, cheesy mustache to go along with the theme.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

CD Review: Alex Reidinger - The Pleasures of Hope

I can't confess to spending most of my days preparing for the holidays listening to random Christmas carols and the like. Let's face it, I'm not much of a traditionalist, although I do love Christmas carols and will listen on Christmas Day. However, I try very hard to put myself in a more homey frame of mind as I sit down to wrap my gifts and craft the one or two cards I may send (MAY being the operative word anymore). This refusal to give in to traditional fare means I either go the rock 'n' roll, country, or blues route for holiday cheer, but not always. For the last two years I've found the perfect CD to kick off all such wrapping and baking and decorating activities ahead of me: The Pleasures of Hope by Alex Reidinger.

Perhaps it's the lovely Celtic strains that are delivered with such deftness and heart that make me feel at once comforted and wide awake and warmed to the bones. Or maybe it's the energy and deliberate pacing of the CD itself. I listen to the tunes in order. Every time. Except when I'm running my playlist on shuffle. Nope. I prefer to let the artist, in this case, the delightful Alex, tell her story her way.

My family may have some Celtic blood coursing through our veins (chances are it's very little), but The Pleasures of Hope makes me feel very much at home. The virtual hearth is lit and the warmth spills into the room. One can imagine a cup of Irish coffee causing an uncle to perhaps dance about the kitchen every now and again; or the children to run through, delighted to steal a few forbidden cookies with impish grins upon their flushed faces. I also imagine those moments where I might sit and take a break, sipping a cup of tea and snitching my own bit of shortbread and try to make sense of the bits of ribbon tangled about here and there.

I usually start the music a day or two before Thanksgiving and Pleasures continues to feature high on the list well into the New Year. It is, after all, hopeful. Wordless and wonderful, it gives you the opportunity to paint your own hopes and dreams upon the musical canvas Alex has provided us. It's obvious that Alex possesses (and always has) a maturity and understanding of music, pacing, order, and inviting the listener to be a part of the experience. It's very rare in this world that a musician allows you to participate at the level to which Miss Reidinger does.

As a teenager (she was 17 at the time), it was Reidinger's desire to present the music she loved so much in a manner that suited her. Playing fiddle, harp, and concertina on the album, she was joined by other musicians: Chelsea Link, Harp, Track 6; Vincent Fogarty, Bouzouki, Tracks 1,3,7,13; Tom Fellenbaum, Guitar, Track 2; Al Petteway, Guitar, Track 5. The music was chosen and arranged by Alex herself with just a little help. She also took on the responsibility of putting together the CD packaging. Additionally, she composed "John Daly's" (track 13) as a means of thanking Daly for all his guidance.

From beginning to end, The Pleasures of Hope is a beautiful work of art and the perfect way to start and end one's day, especially the hectic ones. This young lady creates a stunning tale with her music. A little something to add pep to your step to start you off, then a tender moment to gather your wits about you, and on and on through the near hour worth of music. Jigs, reels, airs, hornpipe, set dance...all there for you. Don't try to pick a favorite. Nigh impossible. Although, "Martin Wynne's, The Sligo/Leitrim Bucks Of Oranmore" moves me to a pensive place, but I can't say that makes it a favorite as each selection is brilliant and bright in its own way.

I do so very eagerly encourage you to pick up a copy of The Pleasures of Hope. Okay, pick up several copies. (CD Baby is also offering 10% off your order if you purchase multiple copies right now.) Just remember to save one for yourself as you give these to friends and family. All will thank you. I know everyone who received the CDs I handed out last year appreciated them and they are played often.

Best part of this deal, you can play the music all yearlong and smell the crisp green grasses and leaves, feel the warm fires at the hearth, hear the laughter of loved ones gathered near, and revel in the sense of stress slipping off your shoulders like an unnecessary wool coat on a summer's day.

Track Listing:
1. Hanly's Tweed/The Bunch of Green Rushes/Bunker Hill - Concertina
2. Crabs in the Skillet/The Woods of Old Limerick - Harp
3. The Stage/The Pleasures of Hope/McGlinchey's Hornpipe - Fiddle
4. An Binsin Luachra - Harp
5. The Maid at the Spinning Wheel/Aherne's Egg/The Fly in the Porter - Concertina
6. Martin Wynne's/The Sligo/Leitrim Bucks of Oranmore - Harp
7. O'Farrell's Welcome to Limerick/The Roaring Barmaid - Concertina
8. Paddy Fahy's/The Boys on the Hilltop/Reavy's - Fiddle
9. The Bright Lady - Concertina
10. Paddy Fahy's/Lad O'Beirne's - Harp
11. Cró Na nGabhar/Gan Ainm - Fiddle
12. The Ebb Tide/Seán Ó Duibhir a'Ghleanna - Concertina
13. The Tenpenny Piece/John Daly's - Harp
14. The Bird in the Bush/The Jolly Tinker/The New Road - Fiddle

San Diego Radio Station KPRI Goes Commercial-Free for Christmas

From 6pm Christmas Eve until 6pm Christmas Day, KPRI FM in San Diego will offer commercial-free programming. As well, beginning at 8pm on New Year's Eve, the station will again offer nothing but music until some undesignated time (one assumes after midnight) on New Year's Day.

Kind of nice to see a radio station put their listeners ahead of profits during the holiday season.

Thanks, KPRI!

Two-fer Tuesday: Holiday Edition

May all your holiday wishes come true!

And of course, my favorite of all times.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Two-fer Tuesday: Songs That Would Never Be Hits Today

Let's face it, there are some songs that would never be hits in this day and age. Then again, some weren't even hits back when they were released. But having a hit isn't always necessary to entertain your audience. Of course, it helps if they have some idea what you're doing. Then again, since when did musical entertainment HAVE to make sense? Sometimes music wanders into "Who's On First" territory and, guess what? We don't care. We're along for the lovely lilting ride.

Three of my favorite examples of this:

I'd thought maybe I'd include songs from Kay Kyser (with whom my grandfather used to play) and Spike Jones (a family favorite), but it turned out most of their songs all made sense! Go figure.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Cry Baby: The Pedal That Rocks The World

For those who love guitars, you may want to check this documentary out.

Cry Baby: The Pedal That Rocks The World tells the story of the wah wah effect pedal, from its invention in 1966 to the present day. Musicians, engineers, and historians discuss the impact of the pedal on popular music and demonstrate the various ways it has been used, as well as how its evolution has improved the ability of artists to express themselves musically. The film features interviews with Brad Plunkett, the inventor of the pedal, plus many other musical luminaries such as Ben Fong-Torres, Eddie Van Halen, Slash, Buddy Guy, Art Thompson, Eddie Kramer, Kirk Hammett, Dweezil Zappa, and Jim Dunlop. These professionals explain how a musical novelty transcended convention and has become timelessly woven into the fabric of modern pop-culture.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Rock Prophecies Screening at Las Vegas Hilton, Saturday, December 11, 2010

Not only is the Hilton showing the movie, but Tyler Bryant is scheduled to play.

Las Vegas Hilton, 7pm, 12/11/10
Free admission
3000 Paradise Road
Las Vegas, NV 89109

Two-fer Tuesday: The Union

No long intro this time around. Straight to the videos we go!

Is it too much to ask that a trip to England and a few concerts with The Union be placed in my Christmas stocking?

If you're interested in finding out more about the band, check out The Union's website.

And now, for a special song:

Please visit The Union's ChildLine Rocks page to purchase merchandise, of which 100% of the profits go to support ChildLine, UK’s free, confidential helpline for vulnerable children and young people in distress.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Christmas with the O'Jays

Gigante Media announced today that the O'Jays are releasing a Christmas album. The release will be supported by live performances in select cities.

Fairfax, VA --- Soul superstars The O’Jays invite R&B fans to celebrate Christmas With The O’Jays as they release a new album and launch a holiday tour this winter hitting select cities such as Chicago, New York, Orlando and Newark to name a few. Christmas With The O’Jays (on Saguaro Road Records) serves up plenty of new reasons to groove around the Christmas tree. The ten song CD features soulful holiday classics including “Silent Night,” “Joy To The World,” “The First Noel” and “Jingle Bells” as well as two new songs, “I’m What You Want This Christmas” and “Cause it’s Christmas.” Backed by a national DR television advertising campaign, the album will be featured on cable and networks nationwide including BET and TVOne as well as major markets such as New York City, Chicago, Atlanta and Washington, DC. A comprehensive radio advertising and promotion program will run concurrently.

"This CD was created with the best intentions and in good spirit,” says Walter Williams, Sr of The O’Jays. “Every now and then an opportunity like this comes along. We, The O'Jays, Bruce Walker & Jacques Richmond were able to capture the holiday love and spirit in these performances for our fans’ enjoyment.” “This was one of the fastest records I ever recorded,” adds Eddie Levert, Sr. “It is a great product that I am proud to have been a part of. It was a real treat working with Bruce Walker and Saguaro Road Records. It was a great experience going into the studio to create what I am sure will be a long lasting holiday treat.”

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Two-fer Tuesday: Country Tokers

A friend and I were having a discussion about how every kind of music (except, perhaps, opera and classical -- though I could be wrong) somehow find a way to reference alcohol and drugs. She said country music doesn't talk about people getting stoned. I had to shake my head. Ahh, youth. And thus it came to be that I had to prove her wrong.

Now, I don't have to go back all that far for my first reference. We'll start with an old favorite, Charlie Daniels. (I could have gone Willie Nelson, but where's the challenge in that?)

So I got the nod on that. "But where's a current song?" she asked. I had to think for a moment, and then it came to me. Eric Church.

Obviously not an exhaustive amount of research was put into this. I just figured two good tunes deserved a run through the ol' Two-fer blender.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Two-Fer Tuesday: Human Nature Celebrate Motown

I refuse to go cold turkey (despite it being Thanksgiving week and all) for an entire month when it comes to Human Nature. I've seen their show eight times thus far and, honestly? It's damn good stuff. I was hoping to get in a couple more shows before the group heads off on their Australian tour, but that didn't happen. So, for now, I'll have to make due with their YouTube videos.

Hey, I hear you mumbling over there. Don't question why I'd need to see the show so many times! I said it was good and I meant it. Let me put it this way: when everything else in this crazy town of Las Vegas relies on huge spectacular acrobatics and contortions and makeup and illusion and sex and explosions, it's really refreshing to be able to go see a show where music matters to the extent that it does with Human Nature. This isn't just some tribute show. It's a celebration of all the great Motown hits. Four guys singing their hearts out, dancing up a storm, and enticing you to remember a time when music was king and we were all prom queens. You walk out of the show feeling young and alive and energized! You've spent 90 minutes singing and dancing along with those sweet harmonies and you don't care who saw. How many times has that happened to you? That's what I thought. So don't question me on my tiny addiction. It's the disease AND the cure.

Music? You wanted music? Okay, here we go!

And lest you think that's all there is, let's have a couple bonus songs, shall we?

There. That'll get me through a couple hours. Only 670 hours or so to go until I get another live fix.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Two-fer Tuesday: David Bowie

Don't ask why, but this first David Bowie video delights me in the most bizarre way.

Back in the late 80s I had the opportunity to see Bowie in concert during his Glass Spider tour. Okay, it was August of '87 to be exact. Peter Frampton was touring with the band and that was quite the bonus for this fan girl. The concert was a spectacle on many levels. Opening for Bowie was Siouxsie and the Banshees. I want to say there was another band but the details elude me. I remember I went with Roland Jones, though. And I also remember the song that stood out for me during the show was "Heroes". It gave me chills. Still does.

With the range of David Bowie's music, there's so much to explore. It would be easy to shout out "Space Oddity" as a favorite (and it is), but I encourage you to dig deeper to find the overlooked gems, like "Time" and "Letter to Hermione" and at least a hundred other tunes I can't think of at the moment.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Two-fer Tuesday: Musical TV Moments

Since I love TV and I love music, it stands to reason that the two together would make me happy. This is, indeed, true.

Comedies often provide(d) the best opportunities for musical interludes and the majority of my memories are centered are around sitcoms.

Classic TV shows are a veritable font of musical interludes. Ricky and Lucy, Fred and Ethel had endless numbers...Mary on The Donna Reed Show...Ricky on The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet...the list goes on.

The Dick Van Dyke Show had some of the best numbers, though. Rob and Laura singing and dancing, Rob's brother Stacey, Buddy and Sally, and even Mel got into the act. My favorite performance was that of "I Am A Fine Musician", which was used twice during the series run.

This version is fine, but the better of the two is from the episode from Season 2, Ep 24 "The Sam Pomerantz Scandals". I've not found a clip from that episode, though.

Jumping ahead a few decades, there's no shortage of TV-based singing and dancing. Scrubs had more than a few episodes with music montages (anyone remember "Talk Dirty To Me" as sung by Carla and Ted?) Roseanne, for ill or for good, featured its fair share of songs (let's forget Roseanne's trial and focus on Dan singing "Jailhouse Rock" with the great John Juke Logan playing harmonica in the background...which reminds me that he also appeared on Home Improvement doing the same thing).

Then we have Harry's dream from the season two 3rd Rock From The Sun episode, "Nightmare on Dick Street, Part 2". Great Randy Newman tune that also includes an appearance by Newman at the 2:21 mark in this clip. Rubber-faced, spaghetti-limbed French Stewart did a bang up job with "Life Has Been Good To Me". Then again, I'd watch the show even if they'd never gone done this particular musical path. But they did, and it was perfection.

Bonus clip: From Mad About You and special guest star Mel Brooks. Forward to 6:21 and dance and sing along to the "Turkey Trot".

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Power of Music

Alice Dancing Under the Gallows examines the power of music and art and how they contribute to the triumph of the human spirit.

The movie will be released sometime in 2011. I've already put in my request for a copy.

For more info, check out the movie's Facebook page.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Two-fer Tuesday: She's 18 Today and the Songs Remain the Same

Oh, how the mother's heart must stretch and flex in order not to break. My daughter is 18 today. It's not fair. It's not right. It's not really happening. Wasn't she just learning to walk? Wasn't she just uttering words like "babingsuit" and "booprise"?

Time waits for no man, or woman as the case may be. Despite my every effort to hinder growth, my lovely little girl is now old enough to vote and is considered a legal adult. I've fought it, but there it is: nature won.

When Mojo was about 2, she fell in love with John Denver. Our bedtime routine included a couple different Denver songs, along with the Pledge of Allegiance and the Marine Corps Hymn. Hey, it got her to sleep and it was our special time together. (Did the same thing with my son and I have to say, singing our "goodnights" was pretty effective.)

So, without further ado, happy birthday, Mojo!

For a while, this was called "Mountain Mama" and also "Mama Take Me Home". She was two. It was adorable.

Our version of this song was very similar, but we had to sing every verse. Twice.

Then she grew up and began paying attention to more Top 40 music (in addition to all my favorites, like Etta and Bonnie and Billie). I lamented the lack of artists that were brash, lovely, sometimes delicate, sometimes strong like those I grew up with -- Debbie Harry, Stevie Nicks, Christine McVie, Joan Jett... After listening to Jewel and Britney once too often, I really thought my daughter deserved a contemporary female artist with a stronger voice and attitude. Thus we turned to P!nk. At the time, she really was the only one who could speak right to the heart of a young girl without sounding like a wannabe star or doormat.

Those were the days. Now my baby is all grown up and the world is going to expect more from her, people will expect more, life will become more complicated. While I'll miss the little girl I once held in my arms as she cried and fussed and smiled and cooed and caused me to look at the world around me with new eyes, I will cheer her on as she makes her way into the great big world.

Now for Mommy's tunes...

Happy birthday, my sweet daughter! I don't care how old you are, you'll always be my baby girl.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Friday, October 29, 2010

Blues Blast Awards Winners Announced

Back in June, I got notice of the Blues Blast Awards nominees and quickly went to work casting my votes. I was disappointed to see a few names missing from the ballot but pleased at some of the names that were there.

The 2010 Blues Blast Music Awards were announced Thursday night, October 29, at Buddy Guy's Legends in Chicago.

Best Contemporary Blues Recording - Nick Moss - Privileged

Best Traditional Blues Recording - Mississippi Heat - Let's Live It Up

Best Blues Song - The Kilborn Alley Blues Band - "Better Off Now"

Best Blues Band - Tommy Castro Band

Best Male Blues Artist - Magic Slim

Best Female Blues Artist - Shemekia Copeland

Best New Artist Debut Recording - Jackie Scott & The Housewreckers - How Much Woman Can You Stand?

Sean Costello Rising Star Award - The Cash Box Kings

2010 Lifetime Achievement Award - Otis Rush

Of all the winners, I think I'm most excited to see the Cash Box Kings on there. I've been a fan for six or so years. Once upon a time, back when I was a nurse, I was working with a gentleman who shared my passion for the blues. I gave him a few bands to check out, he gave me a few. One of those bands: Cash Box Kings. I got home, went online to check them out, fell in love with their sound, and promptly bought the two CDs they had out at the time. I've been a fan ever since.

While I know they've been around for a while, their star is rising on the national scene and I'm glad to see them getting the attention they deserve. Good job, guys!

And congratulations to all the winners!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Two-fer Tuesday: Stoney Curtis Band and the Michael Schenker Group ft. Chris Logan

I've been working on a project for the past week involving the Stoney Curtis Band, so it's fitting that I've been listening to him a lot music as I work.

My favorite SCB tune: "Last Train to Chicago".

As much as I love SCB's previous work, can I mention how excited I am about the upcoming release, Cosmic Connection? Once there are videos or even audio clips available, I will be posting away. I expect the new album to be nothing short of brilliant.

I haven't been listening to Stoney Curtis exclusively, though. In fact, I've been listening to a friend of his, Chris Logan, providing lead vocals for the Michael Schenker Group. I consider myself a lucky girl in that I occasionally get to see both Curtis and Chris share the stage. It's like musical magic. Anyhow, from MSG and Chris, "On & On".

I gotta get back to the salt mines, so enjoy the music and have a great day.

Okay, I'm sneaking one more in. My favorite song with Logan on vocals. From Jake E. Lee's Retraced, "I'll Be Creepin'".

And from Curtis again..."Bullets". Heavy, but fabulous.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Toots for a Saturday morning

Born in Brussels in 1922, Toots Thielemans is a working musician today.

- Born : Brussels, Belgium 1922
Immigrated : USA 1952
- Played accordion at age 3
- Started playing harmonica as a hobby
- First guitar won on a bet
- "Hooked" on Jazz during German occupation
- First idol : Django Reinhardt
- Early influence : Charlie Parker
- Nicknamed "Toots" after musicians Toots Mondello
and Toots Camarata
- First international break through : Joining Benny Goodman
on European concert tour in 1950
- Early US jobs : member of Charlie Parker's All Stars in Philadelphia;
George Shearing Quintet; ...
- Composed "Bluesette", 1962
- Originated new sound : Whistling and guitar in unison
- Whistler for commercials : Best known "Old Spice"
- Harmonica soloist for film scores: Midnight Cowboy, The Getaway,
Sugarland Express, Cinderella Liberty, Turks Fruit,
Jean de Florette , ...
- Concerts and recordings with names like George Shearing,
Ella Fitzgerald, Quincy Jones, Bill Evans, Jaco Pastorius,
Natalie Cole, Pat Metheny, Paul Simon, Billy Joel, ...
- Harmonica Soloist - TV : Sesame Street
- Perennial winner of Down Beat readers and critics poll
"miscellaneous instruments"
- Favorite compliment (from the late Clifford Brown) :
"Toots, the way you play the harmonica they should not call it a
miscellaneous instrument"

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Happy Birthday Steve Cropper

Lead guitarist for Booker T & the MGs, Steve was born today in 1941. Who can forget Green Onions?

Shout out to the late, great Dizzy Gillespie, who would have been 93 today.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Two-fer Tuesday: Pablo Cruise

My first concert was Pablo Cruise. Del Mar Fair. With my big sister. I remember thinking she was the best big sister ever! She told our parents she'd keep an eye on me. She didn't have to do that, but she did and we got to go hang out together. It was one of those great sisterly moments that come around once in a blue moon. I'll remember it forever.

These days you pretty much have to go stand in line at the bank to hear Pablo Cruise again. No more! I'm here to save the day.

Do you even want to know who the second concert was? (Bonus points for anyone who knows the answer)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Two-fer Tuesday: Andre Villoch

The name is familiar, but I don't know why. I've done researched my ass off and still I can't think how I know the name or why some of the music seems familiar. Oh well, we'll chalk this up to my exceedingly deep and eclectic music ramblings and assume I was ahead of my time when I first discovered this millions of years ago (and subsequently forgot).

And now, without further ado, here is Andre Villoch (minus the accent aigu on his e -- I'm a lazy girl today).

Two bonus vids:

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Help Choose a Cover for the New Roomful of Blues CD

Seems the band, Roomful of Blues (love them!), has a new album coming out called Hook, Line & Sinker. Alligator Records wants your help on choosing the cover art.

What do you need to do?

Very simply, click on this link and go vote for one of these covers.

Roomful of Blues' new album needs a cover. Which one do you like?

You may even win a copy of the CD in the process. How cool is that?

Last time I checked, the lineup for the band looked a little something like this:

Chris Vachon, guitar
Phil Pemberton, vocals
Bryan "Frankie" Rizzuto, Upright bass and Bass guitar
Ephraim Lowell, Drums
Travis Colby, Piano and B3 Organ
Rich Lataille, Tenor and Alto saxophone
Doug Wolverton, Trumpet
Mark Earley, Baritone saxophone and Tenor saxophone

Don't know if we'll get the usual suspects on this new disc, but let's face it, any new music from Roomful is bound to be tasty!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Two-fer Tuesday: The Boobiethon Edition Part I

Y'all are still checking out Boobie-Thon, right? Donating? Participating? Supporting the fight against breast cancer!

Tell you what, grab hold your pair, be they big or small, male or female, and do your self-exam while you listen to these songs. And when you're done, head on down to Part II of this week's edition of Two-fer Tuesday.

After listening to some great music, you get to play advocate and go out to educate your friends, family, strangers, whoever, and do whatever it takes. Hold bakes sales. Get your book club together to talk about what you can do to help raise awareness. Perhaps your local blues or jazz or folk society would put together a fundraising night! C'mon, we all have breast tissue, so this means the battle is on for us all!

Before you start the second part, go call friends and encourage them to start their self-breast exams while they, too, listen along. And take this day to talk to those around you about early detection and early treatment being the key to fighting this disease.

* Every 13 minutes, someone dies of breast cancer.

* Early detection of breast cancer, through monthly breast self-exam and particularly yearly mammography after age 40, offers the best chance for survival.

* Ninety-six percent of women who find and treat breast cancer early will be cancer-free after five years.

* You are never too young to develop breast cancer! Breast Self-Exam should begin by the age of twenty.

Educate and communicate. Two of the most important components of providing help in this fight against cancer.

Two-fer Tuesday: The Boobiethon Edition Part II

Y'all are still checking out Boobie-Thon, right? Donating? Participating? Supporting the fight against breast cancer? Do what you have to do. Women of all ages have breast tissue. Men do, too. It can get any one of us.

Tell you what, grab hold your pair, be they big or small, male or female, and do your self-exam while you listen to these songs.

After listening to some great music, you get to play advocate and go out to educate your friends, family, strangers, whoever, and do whatever it takes. Hold bakes sales. Get your book club together to talk about what you can do to help raise awareness. Perhaps your local blues or jazz or folk society would put together a fundraising night! C'mon, we all have breast tissue, so this means the battle is on for us all!

Now it's time for you to act! Go forth and share the news.

From the Susan G. Komen website:

Anyone can get breast cancer. For example, did you know…

* the older a woman, the more likely she is to get breast cancer?

* young women can and do get breast cancer, even in their 20s?

* white women are more likely to get breast cancer than women of any other racial or ethnic group?

* African American women are more likely to die from breast cancer than white women?

* men can get breast cancer? Out of every one hundred cases of breast cancer, one will occur in a man.

Educate and communicate. Two of the most important components of providing help in this fight against cancer.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Two-fer Tuesday: Heart

How about something from Heart since Nancy is divorcing Cameron Crowe. Don't even start me on the report I heard on the radio last night annoucing this. "When her and he announced..." okay, so I started. Seriously, this is what "journalism" has come to in this country?

Never. NEVER!

Growing up, there were all sorts of women's voices coming out of the radio, but none were as strong as those of Ann and Nancy Wilson. Sure there were "Dreamboat Annie" and "Dog and Butterfly", but there were also kick ass songs like "Barracuda", "Kick It Out", "Magic Man", "Crazy On You", "Heartless", and "Straight On". Those were songs you weren't hearing from anyone else. The Wilson sisters stoked the flames of indepence in a young girl's heart, even while allowing her to dream of the sweeter, more romantic side of life.

Thank God these ladies are still rockin' it out. Where would we be without them?

Don't know what went wrong between the Wilson/Crowes, but somehow or other, they're gonna have to split everything up...they're gonna have to even it out in divorce court.

Hey you! Yes, you, Nancy! Shine on.

We need one more, don't we? Yeah. Can't leave things so mellow. I mean, WTF is up with that?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Two-fer Tuesday: Jimmy Thackery

I've seen Jimmy Thackery in concert several times now and I'm always amazed at the depth and breadth of his catalogue. He can be so very subtle and then he can slash and burn the land for miles around with just a few notes. He's been doing this for how many years? I dunno. What I do know, though, is I hope he doesn't think of retiring any time soon.

This first tune is dedicated to my friend, Curtis of the Stoney Curtis band, who also does a bang up version during his show.

And this tune? It's beautifully heavy.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Two-fer Tuesday: Kool & the Gang

How can anyone possibly listen to this first tune and not want to get up and dance? There's something inherently enticing about that groove and those horns that reaches into one's soul and prompts the movement of feet and arms and hips.

I wish I could remember where I was the first time I heard "Hollywood Swingin'", but I don't. I was seven years old, just moving to California, and it was likely played on KCBQ at some point, wherein I started doing my little white girl dance alone in my bedroom. Guess that's not a bad memory to have. At least I had good taste in music!

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn't include "Celebration" in this little party. Another danceable tune if there ever was one. In fact, it's such a fun, catchy song that the San Diego Zoo uses it in their sea lion show. So, yeah...I often envision a sea lion dancing along. (Shake it off, girl, and just dance!)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Top 5 Music Documentaries

T-Bone's Prime Cuts has a monthly Top 5 Day. This month, it's documentaries. I could totally get behind this one! However, when I commented, I hit enter before I finished my list. So here's the complete list along with some of my thoughts.

1. Lightning in a Bottle - it's the blues, baby. They cover a lot of ground and it's a thing of beauty. Yes, it would have been easier to pick Martin Scorsese's The Blues, but that's not the kind of girl I am.

2. End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones - easily one of THE most defining bands of the 70s. I was an early fan and I remain one to this day. I passed along the Ramones jones to my son and I'm proud of that. You can never have "too much" of the Ramones.

3. Tom Dowd & The Language Of Music - Tom Dowd was definitely the man to see if you wanted your music to sound real. He understood the essence of a song and the essence of an artist. His fingerprints are all over some of the greatest music ever recorded.

4. Runnin' Down A Dream: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - if you're not a Petty fan before you watch this, you will be after. I started off young, so there's never been any hope for me. This doco answers a lot of the questions I always wanted to ask.

The next two documentaries rank very high for me and thus tie for the #5 position.

5a. Buena Vista Social Club - I blame my grandfather for this one. The rhythms, the feeling, the musicians, they all speak to and from the heart.

5b. Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars - I fell in love with the song "Soda Soap" after listening to a clip in some PR package several years ago. I started digging around, found many clips from the doco online, watched, and was hooked. I bought the CD and it's been a regular listen ever since. Not long after seeing the online footage, I caught the full documentary on PBS. The DVD was an easy purchase. (It was also an easy steal, apparently, as I loaned it out and the borrower suddenly couldn't find it when I asked for it back.)

What are your favorite music documentaries? Leave a comment here and then go over to T-Bone's Prime Cuts to let him know, too.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

In Remembrance of September 11, 2001

Music has always been my healer; so it was when I was a child, so it was in the days after 9/11, and so it is still.

I've long pondered the prescience of John Denver's lyrics and came to the conclusion that some events seem to repeat themselves, or at least the magnitude of the events and the similarities...for ill or for good. Anyhow, all I know is that "Rhymes & Reasons" is THE tune I return to time and time again when it comes to remembering the events of and the lives lost on September 11, 2001.

So you speak to me of sadness
And the coming of the winter
Fear that is within you now
It seems to never end
And the dreams that have escaped you
And the hope that you’ve forgotten
You tell me that you need me now
You want to be my friend

And you wonder where we’re going
Where’s the rhyme and where’s the reason
And it’s you cannot accept
It is here we must begin
To seek the wisdom of the children
And the graceful way of flowers in the wind

For the children and the flowers
Are my sisters and my brothers
Their laughter and their loveliness
Could clear a cloudy day

Like the music of the mountains
And the colours of the rainbow
They’re a promise of the future
And a blessing for today
Though the cities start to crumble
And the towers fall around us
The sun is slowly fading
And it’s colder than the sea

It is written from the desert
To the mountains they shall lead us
By the hand and by the heart
They will comfort you and me
In their innocence and trusting
They will teach us to be free

For the children and the flowers
Are my sisters and my brothers
Their laughter and their loveliness
Could clear a cloudy day

And the song that I am singing
Is a prayer to non-believers
Come and stand beside us
We can find a better way

The other song that resonates deeply for me touches upon the void left within our lives.

And finally, one of my new favorite songs, which was written specifically in remembrance of those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001, is from Tony "The Fretless Monster" Franklin. The song is "Never Be The Same". The story behind "Never Be The Same" is also available on Tony's Myspace blog.

Peace to all.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Two-fer Tuesday: The Monkees

When I was a little girl, I was a huge fan of the Monkees. Didn't matter that they were big around the time I was in diapers, I knew what I liked. I still know what I like and, dammit, I like the Monkees.

They were the pre-Fab Four to some. A major joke to others. But to millions of fans, they were every bit as deserving of accolades as any other band. I've seen them in concert. Twice.

Their first single, "Last Train To Clarksville", was released August 1966, just months after I was born. You know what? It's a good song! It was good then and it's good now.


I can't quite seem to locate a video for "Peter Percival Patterson's Pet Pig Porky" that's anything other than static images, so let's go with another forgotten gem.

Tell me that's not genius!

Super extra bonus video time!

And I fully admit to copping Davy's dance moves from this particular video. Yes, that's right. C'mon down and catch me just about any Thursday night at the local blues joint and you'll see me throw this out for at least a couple songs. For real.

I would have loved to included "(Not Your) Steppin' Stone", but there's a dearth of quality clips available for that one. Same with "Auntie Grizelda" and "Shades of Gray" and a million others.

Once upon a time I owned the entire Monkess collection. On vinyl. Uh huh. I know. Hardcore Monkees fan here.

There are only two rules when you belong to this club:

1) You never utter the other foursome's name in the same sentence as the Monkees.


2) Don't ask, "so who's your favorite?"

Written by Mickey Dolenz, "Randy Scouse Git" is another sneaky favorite.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Two-fer Tuesday: Andy Timmons

Someone obviously broke into my brain and accessed the file marked "Beautiful Guitar". I know who that person is and thank him for directing to Andy Timmons. Part of me says I've heard of him and part of me says I haven't. I stopped caring about 3 seconds into "Electric Gypsy". Music, as always, wins every argument I ever have with myself.

As much as I'd prefer this first tune to be Andy playing live, I opted for the clearest, prettiest recording available instead. Once you hear it, I think you'll agree this was a good choice.

(Bwhaaa - Andy Timmons, "Electric Gypsy")

(spritzer - Andy Timmons, "Cry For You")

Prevailing wisdom says I should write up something about Timmons, but I honestly don't feel cobbling together a bunch of facts from a few websites will enhance the music any. So, just have a listen and Google him if you're interested. That's what I do.

Monday, August 30, 2010

CD Review: Kettleblack - Kettleblack Live

If you're gonna be a rock band or a blues rock band, you pretty much have only a few seconds to establish yourself as such from the moment the listener pops a CD into the stereo. Kettleblack answers any questions one might have about their intent very quickly. They tell you within a few notes that they're here to rock you and they do.

Before I get into the meat of the Kettleblack Live CD -- their original songs -- I'm going to address the cover tunes they've included because covers can be rather tricky.

"Hard to Handle" is a bit hard to handle when the most popular version has embedded itself in our collective psyche. That said, Kettleblack does a passable job with the tune, but they're not the Black Crowes (who basically OWN the song at this point), nor are they originator Otis Redding, Tom Jones (who does a surprisingly good job with this tune), or even Mae West (1970, Myra Breckinridge, anyone?). It's not bad. It's just a tough tune to make one's own when you're up against a force such as the Crowes. It was a bold choice for their debut album and I think it may play better in person than it does on CD.

"Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)" fares a bit better, with a muscular presentation, but nothing that deviates too far from the established path. However, the inevitable comparison to every other version will leave one wondering if it's at all necessary to include this song on CD as opposed to just letting the momentum and power take it where needs to go when performed before an audience, which is where "Voodoo Chile" tends to be best received.

The best cover choice of all is Randy Newman's "Leave Your Hat On". This is a gutsy take on the tune and once you get past the initial shock at the faster tempo, it takes hold of you and rocks like you wouldn't expect such a staple to rock. This song is proof that covers can have a life of their own and don't have to remain 100% faithful to the original to be powerful and enjoyable.

As for the originals on Kettleblack Live, I have to say the opener really sets the tone for the entire CD experience. It's a rocker, for sure, and it doesn't disappoint. However, one of my favorites is "Bad Bad Bad", a fuzz-laden rocker that is thoroughly enjoyable. It soars and whispers in all the right places. "Dogshit and Puppy Love" is deeper and darker than you'd expect, but hey, sometimes titles just happen. The best of the bunch, though, is "Woodshed". Ready for play on rockin' blues radio, it digs deep and grinds and growls and takes you somewhere else entirely.

This Orange County, California band is ready to set off earthquake detection systems everywhere and they have everything necessary to make it happen. Lyrically, the songs are intriguing. Musically, there's no question that this is what these guys were meant to do. Lead singer and guitarist Sam Sasso has come a long way since I first heard him six or seven years ago. His vocals are fuller and steadier than they were, and his guitar skills are just as bad ass as they've ever been. Jon Siembieda on rhythm guitar is right there, never pushing or pulling the music where it shouldn't go. Tom the Bomb, drummer, has his groove and locks in perfectly with bassist Matt Menaged, who brings a distinct style all his own to the group.

Kettleblack has all the key pieces in play. Live is more than a decent debut CD. There's plenty to like and really nothing you'd skip over. Some songs are simply stronger than others and strikingly so. Already I'm looking forward to what the band has to offer up next.

Kettleblack can be found on Myspace and Facebook.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

CD Review: Chris James & Patrick Rynn - Gonna Boogie Anyway

Chris James & Patrick Rynn‘s second CD, Gonna Boogie Anyway, is here and it has swept me off my feet. It’s solid, bold, and sexy. Its swagger is confident, not cocky, and that self-assuredness is what clinches the deal. The sexiness is surprising, too, because you don’t necessarily expect their steady and solid approach to carry that much sex appeal. Yet it does. James and Rynn? They’re powerful and mesmerizing.

“Money Don’t Like Me” starts the party and it’s a strong, yet playful tune. James’ assertive vocals and clever lyrics tell a story to which we can all relate — as hard as we work for it, money just ain’t stickin’ around. Times are tight and so is this arrangement. They follow the opening track with a bouncy and shakin’ “Dearest Darling” that’s sure to get you dancing. Bo Diddley would be proud. Both songs cement the band’s swinging and rhythmic presence that serves as the continuance of their first CD’s vibe, but it’s on the third track, “Can’t Trust Nobody”, that the pair shake things up. Even without the full band, Rynn and James bring it with an undeniable authority. The cutting lyrics are more powerful because of the spare presentation. With a few well-chosen words and a look, you know you’re in trouble. One listen and you know you don’t want to be the one to anger these two. The tune carries the same confident strut as other songs on the album, but it’s delivered more as a subtle warning than an overt threat.

And that’s the thing about this entire CD: nowhere are you knocked upside the head with “aren’t we great?” aggression. Instead, you’re lured in with solid songwriting and musical prowess that makes you a believer in James and Rynn’s ability to deliver the goods. It’s what makes the album sexy. It’s why you end up grinning from ear to ear as you head out the door satisfied; there’s no shame, no guilt here. You love the music and you’re happy to let everyone know it. It’s less Christopher Walken as The Continental and more Cary Grant as, well, just about any one of his romantic comedy characters. A shy, elegant confidence permeates every note played and sung.

Included amongst their originals, Robert Jr. Lockwood, Bo Diddley, and Jimmy Reed tunes find their place and are given their proper due. While not exact copies, “Black Spider Blues”, “Dearest Darling”, “Little Girl”, and “Can’t Stand To See You Go” represent some of the duo’s favorite influences and continue a story of joy, heartbreak, and determination evident in their originals. It’s evident that each song was chosen to cast a certain mood, to draw the listener into the overall experience. It’s a seamless transition between original material and that from other artists, though if you weren’t in the know about which is which, you’d have a difficult time trying to pick them out. That’s how authentic these blues are. The greatest tunes, however, are those written by James, Rynn, and writing/performing partner Rob Stone (appearing on harmonica on tracks 2, 7, and 9). Most powerful are “Money Don’t Like Me”, “You Can’t Trust Nobody”, “Headed Out West” (the structure of which is very literary), and the title track “Gonna Boogie Anyway”. “Gonna Boogie” should be everyone’s theme song. No matter what happens in life, no matter the obstacles or pressures, you gotta pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and boogie like there’s no tomorrow! At the very least, you have a little fun before you stumble again; and who amongst us couldn’t stand more happiness in life?

Life isn’t fair, but with a CD like this in your collection, you almost don’t care. Chris and Patrick give voice to all the moments in our lives — the good and bad — and suddenly you’re not alone any longer. You have two great dance partners willing to whirl you across the floor, away from your troubles for a while.

Where Stop And Think About It left off, Gonna Boogie Anyway picks up and romances you all over again. The difference, of course, is the inclusion of tunes that don’t feature a backing band. Chris and Patrick are just as comfortable and accomplished with country/Delta blues as they are with the fuller Chicago sound. Forget gimmicky outfits and banter, the duo imbue their music with a classic sense of storytelling and musicianship. They’ve learned from the masters and they put those lessons to work. They’re smooth, effortless, and genuine. And in the end, isn’t that what you expect from the blues?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Two-fer Tuesday: Zac Harmon

I have many favorite performers these days. While they span the full spectrum of music, blues often gets top billing. This is for good reason: blues draws on the human experience in a way that reaches deep within you and can’t help but elicit a response.

This week’s Two-fer features Zac Harmon (auto start music warning), winner of the 2004 International Blues Challenge with his band the Mid South Blues Revue. Since then, he’s been touring the world, impressing audiences with his tough, but sensitve, approach to the blues. Harmon’s sets can include everything from deep blues to gospel to solid R&B. There’s a little something for everyone. I saw Harmon here in Vegas recently and his show was nothing short of astounding. I would have gladly stood in front of the stage the entire time, but the man made me want to move my feet!

(StJohnBluesFestival – Zac Harmon, “Rock Me Baby”)

(jeffstoneblues – Zac Harmon, “Comfort of a Man”)