Singing About, Dancing Around And Filling In The Circle Of Life – A Lifetime Lesson In The Journey Of One Week

96… 19… 55.

Old age… Heroin… A motorcycle.

A funeral… A one-year remembrance… A memorial service.

Bubba… Josh… Clint…

Robin Williams. Michael Brown. James Foley.

Family… friends… loved ones…

How do we get up every morning? How do we stay happy? How do we thrive?

When did life become so difficult, painful and challenging?

We live, we laugh, we love.

We die, we cry, we break.

We celebrate, we lose, we mourn.

So how do we celebrate more, knowing that there will always be sadness, and loss and suffering?

How do we live every day to the fullest and not get dragged down into despair, heartache and depression?

Where do we find our peace and solace and comfort?

It’s out there… It is. In fact, it is right in front of us.

It is in the eyes of a lover, the smile of a child, the laughter of a friend.

It is in our pets, our gardens, or our parks.

It is in a cloudless sky, on a mountaintop, in the ocean.

The heat of the sun on our face, a cool breeze on our backs, and hopefully a drop or two of rain.

The longer we live, the more we lose… but also the more we gain.

We have joy, and laughter and bliss…

Art… and music… and dance.

Life will give us all these terrible things, so it is our job, our duty, our responsibility to fight like hell for the good parts…

Don’t be afraid cry, to feel loss deeply, to hurt… But then make sure you laugh out loud, sing at the top of your lungs and find immense pleasure.

If life gives you lemons make lemonade, lemon pie and lemon pops.

Make a vinaigrette, a stunning sauce and melting lemon drops.

Lions and tigers and bears…

Blue birds and dreams and rainbows…


“Always look at the bright side of life… “ (Insert whistling here)
                    – Eric Idle and Monty Python


“All things must pass…”
                    – George Harrison


“Do you believe in Rock n’ Roll?
Can music save your mortal soul?
And can you teach me how to dance real slow?”
                    – Don McLean


The power of music cannot be denied…

It will help us understand, heal and elevate.

It will bring us together in a darkened hall, on a dance floor or as we lay side by side.

It soothes the soul, eases the mind and gives the heart utter joy.

Close your eyes… open your ears… expand your mind.

Fill your heart, fill your brain, fill your soul.

“If music be the food of love, play on…”
Play on, play on, play on…

Life is a circle…

G-d, Nature, the Universe… whatever you believe, makes it so.

What is up to us, is how we fill that circle…

What colors we paint it… what we draw on it… what words we inscribe it with.


Here is what I wrote after Tuesday’s funeral:

“A plain wooden box
A hole in the ground
No matter how high we soar
We are all coming down.”

We are all human beings, all basically the same, all made up of similar parts…

We are all seeking a good life, love and light. And sometimes we need to fight for these things…

We wish it could be with a pen, a poem, a musical note… and that is a goal devoutly to be wished… Worthy… lofty… essential.

And that fight can be in a conversation, a letter or a text… saying I love you, I’m here for you… I understand…

So let us strive for those heights, that connection, that humanity.

Let us all find joy as we fill in our circles…

Love is music and music is love, and never be afraid to sing… never be afraid to dance… never be afraid to share.

And let it go around and around and around… A spinning cassette wheel, a spinning vinyl platter, a spinning disc…

We go around and around and around…

Around and around and around…

Leave a comment

Filed under Life... Plain and Not So Simple, Marc's Mixed Bag - A Little Of Everything, Marc's Playlist - Music That Moves Me

Discovering And Defining Our Lives With Music And Why It Really Matters (A Good Evening With Venice)

What is a song?

Poetry set to music? Chaos and confusion given form and order in notes, chords and bars? A melody? A story, an event , a real life experience that we try to make sense of? A truth and a dose or reality, or a dream and a wish of what we really hoped would happen? Utter joy or devastation… Or all of it?

Music is different for everyone… or perhaps I should say very specific for everyone, at least in the way it hits us at any given point in time. Yet the universal truths it unleashes and reveals are potent, and actually, if we let it, brings us all much closer together… for we do have so much in common, us human souls.

We laugh and love, hurt and cry, and sometimes songs tell us why.

Last night I saw Venice at another fantastic Russ & Julie House Concert. The room was packed and warm. We were quite literally on top of each other and I could occasionally feel the sweat from my buddy to the left… or was that mine? Sorry. TMI?

We were communal, in every sense of the word, and in a very generous attempt to get as many of us in there as possible, they pushed the chairs a wee bit closer. But once the music played, none of that mattered. We were literally transported to so many places in our minds and souls… our guts and our hearts. The band reacted to songs in a new way, too… talking about “Two Places At One Time” and how something that was first played thirteen years ago about fathers and musicians going away for work, now resonates as their own children go off to college and out into the world. Yes, most of us in the room let that one sink in, too.

And this is why music resonates… why bands become our favorites… why songs move along with us, with so many steps of our lives… serving as soundtrack and friend, providing clarity and understanding, defining and comforting the most powerful moments we feel and face.

A smart artist or band knows that writing from the heart, from a place of truth and deep, introspective reality is what will endure, because people will identify with those songs, cherish them and hold onto them; and though the very specifics may not be our own, there is so much we do share.

Songs evolve and grow and can mean one thing at one time, and then be a huge and different revelation somewhere down the line… That is powerful, powerful stuff.

Venice is a smart band… a great band. It should be no surprise that they are also great guys, who are not only open and accessible, but who give so much back to the community in terms of shows and benefit concerts. Any regular readers of this blog know I will guffaw over them from time to time, but it is just simply deserved. They make such stunningly beautiful, indelible and wonderful music, but they also make you feel like a real friend.

My other buddy takes pride in saying he introduced me to them, and while this is mostly true, I did own a CD of theirs before we met. But even more essential and important is the reason he made that introduction… the reason I introduce people to music and bands… because we know our friends and loved ones (or hell, even strangers) will connect with the music and find a true bliss in it. For that, I will most sincerely and gratefully thank him, for pushing me more and more into the world of Venice and thus enriching mine.

I watched my friend with a deep interest and concern, for while we are both on a journey, a very new, roller coaster, kitchen sink kind of journey… he is at a much more challenging time than I am at this particular moment. I could see his brain reacting to certain lyrics and ideas… feel his heart and his soul aching and yearning. His body was moved in a rhythm, but also emotionally. A squirm of discomfort when something hit too close to home, a sigh, or even a smile. Music is an amazing thing.

For those three hours our brains, while still always working and chattering, could at least be a little quieter as we let the music be the sounds we hear, fill our minds and hearts, sway us… As the music guided the journey, we were able to meditate on that. Music is an amazing thing.

Music helps us discover ourselves… defines us… puts things in perspective. Sometimes it brings us a little lower, deeper into the pain we may be dealing with… but mostly it rises us up… out of our chairs and out of our despair. Music matters. Our favorite bands matter. Being around people, listening to songs and tunes matters. Music is an amazing thing and it matters more than we will ever know.



Leave a comment

Filed under Life... Plain and Not So Simple, Live Music Reviews, Marc's Mixed Bag - A Little Of Everything, Marc's Playlist - Music That Moves Me

The Music And Silence Of Laughter – Remembering Robin Williams

The news of Robin Williams’ death hit hard, with almost immediate tears, shock and heartbreak. Then anger and confusion, which I think is normal and appropriate. I make no judgment, far from it… and am absolutely horrified by these idiots pontificating and saying the most horrible things online and in the press… and directing a lot of it to his very innocent, grieving family. How dare you?

The house you live in, Rush Limbaugh, is a dirty, blacked-out glass, very shaky and questionable dwelling, and one that should never be a place to throw even the tiniest pebble from.

For the rest of you posting such self-serving and disgusting commentary, you have just judged yourselves… so stop… crawl back under your self-righteous, delusional rock and let us live our lives without you. You will not be missed. (While harsh and not great PR, one can ALMOST understand Adam Richman’s “Twitter rampage.”) Some people can just be cruel and ignorant. Just watch the news every night.  What we need now is compassion and understanding… grief and healing.

Robin Williams made me laugh like no other, moved me to tears, entertained me, and got me through some dark times. I applauded his gift and skill and was envious of his brain and the sheer speed with which it worked. How can someone come up with such true comical genius so damn fast? How can someone know so much about so many things?

He was musical in his comedy and his comedy sang… It was a melody, a bass line and chords all tossed into a blender.  It was joyous and irreverent.  It could be loud or quiet… a solo or an orchestra. It moved like free form jazz, and created a symphony of laughter!

Part of my pain comes in knowing that from now on, every viewing of every clip or film or TV special will hold for me, in addition to enormous laughter and joy… a pain, a gravitas and a sadness. While many of us watch these things to escape, this will show all of us, that there is no escape… that life is always around us, challenging us, testing us… and while laughter and happiness are essential and key components to a happy life… so are dealing with issues and problems head on.

When I was much younger and John Belushi died, I remember how angry I was, how betrayed I felt. Why would someone with so much success and talent do that to himself? Why would he do that to me? It was really hard for me to understand, partly because I was very naïve… about Hollywood… about drugs… about that kind of lifestyle. I was not raised in a bubble, but my life was fairly innocent and idyllic

With Robin, the anger was still there, but I understood so much more… Understand so much more.

I grew up with Robin Williams, and while he was not physically in my household, he was there, in some kind of actual, alien, linear plane. Happy Days… Comedy Specials, Mork & Mindy, Comic Relief, The World According To Garp, Good Morning, Vietnam, Dead Poets Society, The Fisher King, Mrs. Doubtfire, and The Birdcage to name only a few indelible and memorable moments.

Celebrity deaths are strange, in that most of the time we do not REALLY know the people who pass, though with some, we have an almost familial relationship. And so it was with Robin. The pain in my gut was on par with losing a family member. Not as deep or profound. But a gut punch nonetheless.

I remember sitting at dinner in Encino with my parents who were in town visiting. I always told my daughter not to have a cell phone at the table, but I was texting with my brother when he told me Clarence Clemons had died. I just lost it… to the point where my parents freaked out, thinking some tragedy had befallen a family member or me. I had to walk from the table, hiding my tears and sadness. And when I returned to address their concerns and tell them what happened, they looked at me like I was crazy. They could not understand how I could react like that to a stranger. But Clarence was no stranger, and he and Bruce and the rest of the E Street Band were a vital and very real part of my life.

What makes Robin’s death so disturbing for me is the very sad realization of what depression can do. It is not anything that was ever part of my life, until recently. And while I hope and pray and think I am very far away from a place so dark, I get it… I mean I REALLY GET IT… and it scares me. And I think THAT is what makes so many of us nervous. How do we stop what we already have from getting so deep and paralyzing? How do we stay away from the inescapable grip of deep, depression?

For those of us in the business, still pursuing the dream… wishing so hard to have even a tenth of the success and life that Robin did, this is also a major blow. Does none of that mean anything? Is all of it so easily thrown away? These are major questions that now pop up… and confused and befuddle us.

But it is a wake up call… a light… a sign that there is so much more… and that enjoying even the most minor of accomplishments and finding true bliss and happiness is so essential. Success, praise, awards, wealth, a stellar family… friends and loved ones can all fall victim to the disease that is depression and anxiety. That is how real and destructive mental health issues can be.

So instead of calling someone weak… instead of being so negative, I beg all of us, once and for all, to acknowledge the power of depression and anxiety, to give weight and serious consideration to mental illness, to work in a real and productive way to combat it, to help people who are sickened by and with it… and to always remind ourselves and others that there is a light, a friend, help a call or a note or an e-mail away.

You are not alone. We are not alone.

G-d bless Robin Williams… I hope you find your peace and can truly rest in it… And thank you for the laughter and the joy and the awakening… for showing us so much… both uproarious and tragic.  That is life… and we must all find our way through it.





Leave a comment

Filed under Life... Plain and Not So Simple, Marc's Mixed Bag - A Little Of Everything, The News Blues, What's On The Boob Tube, What's on the Telly?

Vance Gilbert. Folk Singer. Excellent!

Strange out-of-place homage to Wayne’s World. But perhaps not. An evening with Vance Gilbert comes with a huge amount of laughter, in addition to some stunning music and vocals.

The setting is familiar… The living room of Russ & Julie at one of their famous House Concerts.  Twenty years, I believe and approaching 200 shows. Amazing. The joy of these shows is the casual and intimate nature. You get to mingle with the artist(s) before the show… usually. During intermission… usually. And afterwards… usually.  Did I mention you are sitting in their living room? And there is a pot luck dessert buffet? Not great on the last night of a 10-day cleanse, but a good test of willpower!

Thank you, Russ & Julie!  Again… and again… and again!

I had heard Vance’s music, of course, and knew of his reputation, but had never seen him live. Luckily I can now answer that question in the positive. A stunning, stunning evening.

This was the last in a three-night trifecta of singer/songwriters for me.  Thursday was the remarkable David Poe at the Hotel Cafe. David’s songwriting is filled with poetry and wicked wit.  He breaks your heart and makes you smile in one song… one verse.

I also had the good fortune to see the act before David hit the stage… Darlingside and Heather Maloney. They are both from the New England folk scene and happen to be touring together. Fantastic! Absolutely beautiful harmonies and musicianship. Keep an eye on both of these artists.

Friday night was a spontaneous evening at the Canyon Club to see Sea Wolf… aka Alex Brown Church. I would have loved to have seen the music fleshed out by a band, but his solo acoustic set grew in power as the evening went on, and I have always been a fan of his simplicity and force.

I learned a lot about Folk music over the course of these three nights.
First, most folk singers have fantastic senses of humor. Vance could easily do standup. Hysterical.
Second, most are very self-effacing and brutally honest. Though how can you be anything else when it is basically you and a guitar, alone on stage? Same goes for that killer sense of humor. It comes with the territory and touring, I imagine. A survival instinct.
Third, this is a genre that pulls you in perhaps more than any other. It is an open dialogue between performer and audience, a connection, immediate and powerful.
Fourth, the community is strong and filled with remarkable support. Heather was so genuinely excited when I told her I was seeing Vance and thanked ME for supporting live music. Pretty sophisticated for a young twenty-something. Vance was shocked that Heather once opened for him, praising her incredible talent and genuinely fawning over her musical gifts. It was great to see and hear that, as too many times we are more exposed to jealousy and in-fighting. Good on you, folk singers!

I remember the first time I saw Loudon Wainwright III.  It was at McCabe’s Guitar Shop.  Again, I knew the music before I set foot in the venue, but seeing him live was transformative. Loudon’s music is beautiful… stunningly, gorgeously beautiful and poignant. But it can also be sharp-witted, like a tongue or a rapier.  That dichotomy was always so fascinating to me. He would make me laugh and break my heart, all at the same time. Like life, I guess.

Vance gave me that same satisfaction and utter joy. McCabe’s, where he played the following night, described him as “delivering beautiful, heartfelt songs with an angelic voice, a devilish wit, and some serious guitar chops.” They also included a quote from Dirty Linen that says he is “among the quintessential musical poets.”  Yeah! What they said!

His voice is powerful and just soars, and closing the evening a cappella was potent. So was the gut-hurting (from laughing out loud) spontaneous song he sang about his love for snacks. I will hereby describe my belly as an “awning for my junk”.

Highlights for me include: “God Bless Everyone”, “Out The Way We Came In” (pure genius), “Unfamiliar Moon”, “Old White Men” and “Goodbye Pluto”. Closing with Hall and Oates’ “Sara Smiles” was one of the best covers I have heard.

Vance is also one of the nicest, most sincere human beings you will meet and was as truly moved by the evening as we were.

Live music MUST be part of the community, because it adds to the community and truly helps it thrive. So powerful, so healing, so mighty and amazing. Laugh out loud, sing out loud… live and love. Amen. AMEN!



1 Comment

Filed under Live Music Reviews, Marc's Mixed Bag - A Little Of Everything, Marc's Playlist - Music That Moves Me

The World Cup, My Cup… And The Music Of Futbol

It’s been a while, forgive me.  Though I feel a surge coming on, as I am once again overwhelmed by my music.  I have been on a downloading binge, and that means I need to stop, breathe and take the time to smell the music… or at least really listen to all my new acquisitions and blog about them.  Stay thirsty… I mean, stay tuned, my friends.

Until then, let us talk about soccer… futbol… the World Cup.

I’ll admit it… every four years I have this amazing, whirlwind affair.  I become very acquainted with a wonderful group of people from all over the world, I fall deeply in love… and no, it does not involve Adriana Lima, as featured in those incessant Kia ads, which I am sure many a man love… and many a woman… well… don’t.  There are a few of them, but here is one for your watching enjoyment.

The fact is, I never really played soccer, unless you count the one or two years I was on the Bobcats when I was seven or eight… and as my parents like to tell it, I spent most of the time with my eyes OFF the field and my hands ON my CUP.  Hey, back in those days the cups were HUGE!  Easy, I said the cups.  They were hard and uncomfortable and chaffed… horribly.  So yeah, I needed to adjust it whenever I could.  I played fullback… defense… and rarely had to do much because the other kids around me, rightfully so, would not let me handle the ball much.  I remember guys like Carl and Scott being quite good at the sport, but it was not very big then.  It’s amazing to see how popular it has become, yet we still lag behind the rest of the globe.  Though if this World Cup is any indication, we are getting there.  Soccer fever is spreading.

There is an old British quote which has always stuck with me, and I believe was reiterated in the film Invictus… though it’s origin and exact wording seems to be murky.  “Soccer is a gentleman’s sport played by thugs, and rugby is a thugs sport played by gentlemen.”  I have seen it with “game” instead of sport and “ruffians” and “Hooligans” as well, but you get the idea.  Today and the biting incident of Uruguay’s Luis Suarez (his third apparent one, no less) makes this seem like a very accurate statement.  Though I refuse to let delinquents like him dismantle my new-found love… or should I say my newly, once again, resurrected love.

Every four years I fall… hard.  I swear I am going to follow futbol… on the world-wide level and in the Premiere League.  Maybe even go see the Galaxy play… You know, really get into it.  Because, of course, I need more sports to break my heart and plant me in front of a television or inside a bar.  I can fit it in.  I mean sure, there is a lot of overlap between my passions for College Football and hockey, but I can do it.  I can do it… I can…

I like the soccer jerseys, and yes I have my share… Italy, France, Crystal Palace, Israel…  Thank you friends, who gave me all of them.  I am eyeing the away one from The Netherlands and of course, something from the USA, by the way.  Hint, hint, nudge, nudge, wink, wink.  And yes, okay… a Scottish jersey would be lovely.

But, actually, I do have to say I HATE the fact that the club jerseys have the great team logo as tiny as can be, and the sponsor be basically the main and whole, eye-catching, eye-sore visual.  Chelsea, for example.  I love the colors, I love the logo, BUT, I don’t feel like paying a ton of money to advertise for Samsung.  Get rid of the sponsor’s name and I am there, committed, 100%!!!

Obviously I support Team USA, and hell yes I believe.  My great-grandfather was born in Holland, and I know many folks from there, so that puts The Netherlands at my number two spot.  Another trunk of my family tree is in England… and I have friends from France and Italy… and I do adore visiting both of those places, though France has some major issues that need attending to… Not good.

So there it is.  Soccer.  I can do this… I can be deeply in love and make it last… I can… I can!  Sigh…

Then four long years go by… Olympics aside… And I find myself rushing to learn or re-learn players’ names, histories, etc.  I love hearing about The Pitch and Set Pieces and wonder if they are talking about the sport or screenwriting and filmmaking.  I don’t think I have ever heard the word “brilliant” used so much either!  But then I sit down and watch, and I have to say that for this Cup, I am watching a lot more than I ever have… and I start to see it.

Without being crass, there is a lot of foreplay… a rhythm to the game.  You start slow, feel things out, see where you can get into open space.  You move, glide along the field, caress the ball, set things up, and then make a mad passionate run.  You can use your head and your feet, but not your hands, well, unless you are the Keeper.  And yes, I have always had a thing for the creative, eye-popping, different color, sometimes long-sleeve goalie jerseys, too.  I know, I know, I am like a little kid.

But maybe… maybe this year will be different.  I am more aware, more in tune and more attuned to how things are playing out and developing.  It’s a dance and a song and a piece of theatre.  There is great drama and celebration… joy and heartbreak.  Sometimes playing to a draw is a major accomplishment, though the complexity of the points and goal differentials in the first round can be a bit boggling.  But the music, the world music, the world stage…

There are wonderful sounds and chants from the stands.  What?  Like Ole, Ole, Ole is not plastered into your ears and brains???

Soccer fans are passionate, sometimes too much so, but they are always right there, way into it.  I used to think the game was boring, but 90 minutes plus stoppage time seems to fly by.  These are amazing athletes, who travel miles up and down the field.  The condition and shape they are in is staggering… and yes, when they remove their shirts, it is clear why they all have supermodel, rock star spouses.  The salaries and deals and under the table negotiations are equally mind-blowing… buying people’s contracts out, moving players from club to club, or country to country is like a crazy puzzle.

So call it soccer or futbol or whatever, I actually feel like it is finally clicking this time… that this is the one to last.  I guess check back in a few months and see where I am at, but I feel good.  And I believe… I believe that… I believe that we… I believe that we can win.  I believe that we can win!!!

USA!  USA!  And Hup, Hup Holland!





Leave a comment

Filed under Life... Plain and Not So Simple, Marc's Mixed Bag - A Little Of Everything, The News Blues

Nina Gerber & Chris Webster – A Russ And Julie House Concert Extraordinaire

Take McCabe’s and cut it in half… length and width-wise.

Frame that in a private home in a suburb in the Valley.  Add some carpet, stairs in the back, and a large picture window.  Throw in a pot luck in the kitchen and you have a pretty good idea of what your Saturday evening looks and feels like when you go to one of Russ & Julie’s House Concerts.  Oh yeah… don’t forget the world-class talent.

Last night was Nina Gerber, one of the most amazing and versatile guitarists you will ever see or hear.  Period.  One of the gents asked her to talk about her guitar, mentioning that the instrument often adds to the tone and sound… “Uh, no…” she said jokingly.  But I tell you what.  As glorious as what she plays… Kate Wolf’s guitar, built by David Matlin… this is ALL NINA.  Her playing can most literally move you…  from foot-tapping smiles… to head-shaking awe… to actual heartbreak.  I felt tears welling up on more than one occasion, especially during one of her two instrumentals, the stunner “Winthrop Waltz.”  This may in fact be one of the most beautiful songs I have EVER heard.

I had the pleasure of seeing Nina play with Karla Bonoff a little while back as they opened for America.  And I am beyond myself that I will be missing them on a double bill next weekend at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara.  It’s a double bill with one of the greatest songwriters of all time… Jimmy Webb.  AAAGGGHHH!!!

Her partner in whatever is the opposite of crime this evening, and apparently for the last 25 years, was Chris Webster.  Her casual demeanor… hands in the pockets of her blue jeans… is the visual proof of the amazing vocal ease she possesses.  Her voice, her range, is gorgeous… never pushing or forcing a note or a tone, but amazingly floating through ballads and blues and even some standards.  This is quite the duo.  Chris also played a beautiful ukulele, with strumming and finger rhythms that also brought the ‘ol Washboard to musical life.  What I love about Chris’ voice is that it is recognizable, but also completely unique.  I caught myself trying to put a finger on it several times, but never quite succeeding:  Shawn Colvin… close, but no.  Roseanne Cash… not quite.  Mary Chapin Carpenter… maybe… I can hear that…  Chris Webster?  Yeah… that’s the ticket!

The evening highlighted many, if not all of the songs from their new (and first) album together, Apple Blossom Lane.  It has some originals from each of them, some known, but beautifully restructured covers and some songs from other artists I did not know, like singer/songwriter John Salz.  The evening also reminded me to go back and explore some Kate Wolf and the tunes Nina played on with her.  I also loved the tunes they did from Sarah Elizabeth Campbell, another artist I was not at all familiar with and who has sadly passed.

Both artists mentioned the community feel of the evening and how important that is.  Amen to that.  Music IS a community on so many levels, and yes, Nina, it will help with many of the problems and issues that no one else is coming to fix.  Thanks to Russ and Julie for creating a place in their home for music to shine.  Thanks to the amazing performers who just get it… and give it their all.  Thanks to a respectful audience who sang and whistled and came together to form the “Oak Park Community Choir”… even if it was for ONE NIGHT ONLY!  This is, quite literally, a musical treasure.

Here is a little taste of the evening…  Enjoy “Wild Ride”!  (This is from a few years back…)

If you don’t think music has immense power, stop whatever you’re doing.  Put on your favorite record and close your eyes… It’s taking you away, isn’t it?  Melting many of your problems, even for a few minutes, right?

So go out and spend a night… a day… a few hours… catching live music.  This is the best form of meditation and healing out there.  I have said it before, but I’ll say it again… if you open your ears and let the music in, your heart and mind will follow.  And if your heart is truly open, you can heal the world.  Can I get a Hallelujah?!  HALLELUJAH!!!






Leave a comment

Filed under Live Music Reviews, Marc's Mixed Bag - A Little Of Everything, Marc's Playlist - Music That Moves Me

The Simple Joys – Live Music With Ray LaMontagne, Bob Seger On Vinyl, Birthdays… And My Grammy Turning 102

Yesterday was my Grandmother’s 102nd birthday. Wow is right. While she is declining, she is still mostly there mentally, and keeps fighting forward, through some major setbacks.

She is inspiring. Mildred… Grammy… and now GG is my only grandparent left, and I cherish her. I lost both grandfathers when I was young and never really got to know them, which still makes me sad… and my other grandmother passed away in a state of dementia, which may have been easier for her, but was heartbreaking for the rest of us.

So this is for you, GG!

Bob Seger had a birthday yesterday, too. He turned 69.  I’ll go on a limb here and guess that my GG has never heard of Bob… and definitely not The Silver Bullet Band… but if it makes me happy, I know it makes her happy… and vice versa. As I drove home from the Ray LaMontagne show at the Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles last night, DJ Rita Wilde played side one of Night Moves on vinyl. Thank you, Rita!

And some very special shout outs to Julie… and to meeting new friends like SkyDanny and Nancy… and reconnecting with a fellow Wildcat and classmate, Amy.  It really is a small world.  Thanks for a truly wonderful evening!  (And thanks for half of that lobster roll, Danny!)

So the Ray show was very special.  The venue is literally and metaphorically spiritual, and while I wish he played music from Trouble (zero songs) and a lot more from Gossip In The Grain (Two songs and not my faves like “You Are The Best Thing,” and the stunner and what may be one of the most romantic songs ever written, “Let It Be Me”)… the new songs came to life, live.  The band is amazing… the vocal harmonies gorgeous… and you cannot keep your eyes off drummer, Barbara Gruska. She just plays with such joy and grace… and yes, watching her hair move and sway was hypnotizing. Her brother and partner in The Belle Brigade, Ethan Gruska, is also in the band, playing guitar and keys.

I am hoping I did not miss seeing Ray do the older stuff… perhaps on another tour… but regardless, he is a true and talented artist who always pushes himself and his music.

So 100.3 The Sound plays album sides on vinyl every day. This may not seem like a big deal, but it is… on many levels.  There are very few stations doing this… so there’s that.  But the sound, oh the sound of vinyl… the crackle… the snaps… the depth and the warmth.  It is like a warm, cuddly musical blanket.

Many of us will recall the days we locked ourselves in our rooms with a turntable and headphones… and listened, really listened to a record all the way through… and then again… and again. I’ll never forget my old headsets… they were huge! And my next favorite purchase was a super long coil cord, that allowed me to listen from my bed, which was at the exact opposite end of the room from my stereo. Drifting off into far-off lands with that headset and stereo on was magical… An escape, a journey and an adventure, all without leaving my bedroom.

Last night I cranked up the radio, opened the sun roof and drove home, falling in love all over again with side one of Bob Seger’s Night Moves.  So many memories flooded back…

The first was my Pledge Mom, Denise.  Yes, I was in a frat.  Sigma Nu, thank you very much.  She was from Detroit, (Yes, Julie is, too!) and so one of the gifts I got from her was a Bob Seger cassette… I thought for sure it was Night Moves, but it may have been Stranger In Town… so that MEMORY THING is happening… yikes. Regardless, both albums got a lot of play in my college dorm and then frat bedroom.

The other memory was that my Dad used to come into my bedroom to complain about the bass coming through the wall… “a preponderance of bass”… while my headsets were not plugged in, of course.  Well, I also got into classical music in college… and I remember him walking in one night, ready to have the bass conversation… geared up to ask me to turn the music down, when…

He opened the door.  Stopped.  And realized I was listening to classical music. He looked at me with a peculiar expression… Might have said “Hmmm”, and then just shut the door.

I had such utter joy driving home with the window and sun roof open. That is a rare occurance in LA… Joy while driving… AND being able to have the windows down without air pollution choking you and tearing up your eyes. But for that short and wonderful period of time… and the same during the show… life was good… simple… pure… and joyous.

If we could just hold on to that all of the time, we would all be so much happier. Realistic? No. Desireable? Hell yes!!! So do whatever you can to keep the air clean, the airwaves humming and the music playing.


Leave a comment

Filed under Live Music Reviews, Marc's Mixed Bag - A Little Of Everything, Marc's Playlist - Music That Moves Me