Category Archives: Marc’s Playlist – Music That Moves Me

R-E-S-P-E-C-T… R-I-P – The Queen Is Dead. Long Live The…

The Queen is dead… Long live the… long live the…

Who is the next Queen? The true Queen? I really do no think there is one… not like that… not like Aretha.

It’s not just that Aretha Franklin has shuffled off this mortal coil… it’s that there really is no one else. There was a rich period in time when blues and soul singers and groups were all over the place. Now… they are not.

Six decades… Six…Aretha TRULY was the Queen Of Soul… the first Diva… an icon on and off stage. While we are lucky enough to have some amazing performers these days, it is just different. Maybe we no longer have the ability to be surprised or amazed. I hate to think that, that is what it is… and while times were different back then, there was just some kind of magic that seems to be missing in the world as of late.

Artists were bigger than life back then… and maybe that is what we needed, when we needed it…

But if you watch the news or feel the world, as so many of us do… deeply… profoundly… you would agree that we need that now more than ever. So who is there to not only take the mantle, but lift it high and towards the heavens?

“The blues had a baby and they named it Rock N’ Roll.”
So said Muddy Waters.

I grew up as a child of classic rock. That is what I listened to for as long as I can remember. It took me going to college in Chicago in order to really work backwards… to truly hear and fall in love with the Blues, Soul, Gospel, R&B…

So since I am a child of classic rock, I guess the Blues are my grandfathers!

As my musical tastes expanded, one of my most prized possessions was and still is the Atlantic Rhythm and Blues (1947-1974) Box Set.

Ruth Brown… Joe Turner… Ray Charles… Clyde McPhatter… Ivory Joe Hunter… Drifters… Coasters… LaVern Baker… Ben E. King… Solomom Burke… Otis Reding…  Wilson Pickett… Sam & Dave… Booker T. & The M.G.’s… and Aretha… Aretha… Aretha…

She was all over this collection. She opened my eyes and my ears.

Aretha was the first woman admitted to the Rock N’ Roll Hall Of Fame… The Blues Brothers movie… an iconic film for me on so many levels…

 

 

 

 

 

She was on the front lines of the Civil Rights movement… the soundtrack to that and to so many lives… She served G-d and the people of Detroit.

She was a singer… an ambassador… an inspiration. She was and will always be SOUL.

She seemed to be most proud of being a Mother and friend. And after all, isn’t that the legacy we all want to leave??? Kindness, love and to play happily in the memories of friends and loved ones…

She played for Kings and Queens… she played for the world. And now royalty and the world mourn.

But the silver lining in this dreary and cloudy day in Detroit… We have Vinyl… we have digital… we have music to crank to 11… We still have songs to sing…music to get us through our daily battles… music to raise our spirits and uplift our souls.

And isn’t that what soul music is? Music to soothe a weary soul… Heck, isn’t that what MUSIC is?!

So “Sing… sing a song. Sing out loud. Sing out strong.”

Aretha was part of the Baptist church, so let us all be baptized…
Let the music wash over us… envelop us… embrace us… comfort us…
Let each note, like each and every single drop of rain, holy rain, go into our very being… pierce our soul and our heart… and yet, at the very same time, heal it… heal us.

“Being a singer is a natural gift. It means I’m using to the highest degree possible the gift that God gave me to use. I’m happy with that.” – Aretha Franklin

The Queen is dead… Long live the music of the Queen!

Let us all raise a glass and say a little prayer… RIP Aretha!

Advertisements

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, The News Blues

New Music Monday: Lao Tizer Swings For The Fences At The Swinghouse

First off, sincere and humble apologies for the delay in getting this post up and out. Sometimes life deals you a different set of cards than you were expecting and at the same time, offers up a nice side dish of gut punches to keep you in check… I don’t recall ordering those, but it is what it is… and the extra time allowed me to spend more quality time with this phenomenal album, which quite often helped me get out of my funk.

This was supposed to post when the album came out, back on March 16, so while it is not exactly “new,” I am hoping to be the one to introduce you to this amazing and fantastic artist and band. For those who already know and love Lao Tizer, welcome.

And away we go… It’s pretty easy to drag me out of the house to go to listen to live music. Especially when it’s in my own backyard.

But I was a bit tired when my buddy Sam Glaser asked me to meet him at Bogies last July 13th. Plus, I had been there a few times before, and found it to be… well… a “Cougar Bar.” Lots of loaded ladies (in more ways than one)… hitting on lots of young dudes, who were probably NOT so loaded. It was so not my scene.

But they have changed things around quite a bit… and now have live music way more often. The sound is phenomenal and the venue (seated at tables) is relaxed and quite enjoyable. It seems like they put a lot into the equipment, and the bands and artists seem to love playing there. The room is filled with people who are there to actually listen to the music… you know, be respectful, and not try to talk OVER the band, which is sadly, super rare in LA these days.

I am sure I was stressed, too… which seems to be un-subsiding as of late… but I got into my car and drove the 10 minutes to Westlake… sat down with Sam, and grabbed a beer.

And then it all changed.

There is certain music that just makes you feel good. Truly. You can not even try to be angry or upset while listening to it. Welcome to the Lao Tizer Band. Lao Tizer was insane. The band starts and literally does not stop… until they take their break between sets. It is jazz and fusion and rock and everything in between at its best and blew me away. And any frustration or anger I was having that day, vanished. Thank you, Sam!  And Lao!!!

When a band has a certain “live” energy, and just floors it on stage, it is often hard to capture that on a record. Sometimes the enthusiasm, joy and pure passion of playing is tempered, either lightly or a lot. This is SO not the case this record. And it makes total sense that it was recorded LIVE in just three days at Conway Studios in Hollywood!

I double dog dare you to listen to this record and not have a complete change in attitude, or if you are already in a good place, to be taken even higher. 

The album consists of eight incendiary original instrumentals (Yes, I have been watching Almost Famous a lot recently) and three iconic classic rock songs!

“We’ve never done anything with a vocalist and we’ve never done any cover songs, so this is the first time that I decided to delve into that realm, to basically expand the scope of our music,” says Lao.

This is the first album for the band in over five years!

Lao was a teenage prodigy from Boulder, CO, and has been playing for over 25 years now. He has nine albums which all show his eclectic musical tastes and influences.

He is the “son of hippies with a Russian-Jewish background, and the mix of that ethnic family heritage, parental new age influence and growing up with the sights and sounds of ’80s and ’90s pop culture (alongside the music of the ’60s and ’70s he heard from his parents) have brought him to a place in his artistic life where he was ready to embrace a wider range of influences and stretch himself and his players…”

If this is not “Jazz Fusion” I don’t know what is… though I am always hesitant to use that description, as so many people have a negative connotation. I started listening to Jazz Fusion in college with Spyro Gyra and Pat Metheny… quickly moved to Steely Dan in a more hardcore way… and really discovered everything.

For me “fusion”… as in Asian Fusion food, which is delicious… is just a combination of many styles, genres and influences. Maybe people mis-associate Jazz Fusion with elevator music, but if this was ever playing in an elevator I was in, I would not want to get out!

I mean come on, Lao and the band offer some complete unique and kick ass arrangements of Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On,” U2’s “Pride (In The Name Of Love),” and Cat Stevens’ “Sad Lisa”!

Hello!!!

So of course you have Lao Tizer on keys… The vocals feature Tita Hutchison, who sang with the likes of Michael McDonald, Rick Rubin, Michael Jackson, and Foreigner, among others. Terrible artists all… 😉

The rest of the band is made up of:
Chieli Minucci, the three-time Emmy-winning and Grammy® Award-nominated guitarist and composer.
Grammy® Award-winning saxophonist Eric Marienthal, who is a permanent member of the Chick Corea Elektric Band.
EWI/saxophonist/multi-instrumentalist Steve Nieves
Violinist Karen Briggs, who has played with Yanni, Diana Ross, Wu-Tang Clan, and Chaka Khan
Bass players include Grammy® Award-nominee Ric Fierabracci and Cheikh NDoye,
Grammy® Award-nominated drummer Gene Coye
Percussionist Munyungo Jackson

I had the pleasure of seeing a bunch of these artists live!

My favorite tracks, aside from the three covers… Yes, I started life as a Classic Rock guy… is the banging opener “The Source,” which begs me to get in the car and open all the windows and just drive… the late night soother “Forever Searching” which has such a soulful and deep yearning that winds itself up to the heavens with Karen’s strings… and the absolutely stunning “To Touch The Sky” which could be the soundtrack to any number of films all on its own.

Check out another video here for Metropolis”.

And if you get a chance to see Lao and the band live, it is a multiple must… Here is just another little taste… Both he and the band play with such joy and bliss, and like I said it is mood changing and infectious. I have done many posts on what I call joyful music, and it has to start with the artist and band… they have to love and want to play. You have to feel it from them, on stage and on vinyl. This record… this artist… and this band are pure and simple joy! And that, my friends, is the key (or keys) to life.

 

Leave a comment

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

Willodean – LA Band Makes Good… And Good, And Good, And Good!

Special thanks to Heather West for the heads up on these guys!

2017 seemed to be the year for bands to be truly prolific. King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard released FIVE albums… and local LA Band Willodean released FOUR EPs. Come on, guys… you couldn’t do five? Lazy!!!

I jest of course, as you will immediately hear the work that went into making each of these four lush and stunning records.

Awesome Life Decisions came out in February of 2017, followed by Fires, Cars & Autumn Stars in May, Life & Limbo in August and then Awesome Life Decisions: Side Two in November.

The band lays claim to Sufjan Stevens and Wilco as influences (two of my favorites), and I would also add in Beach Boys, The Wondermints and a bit of Del Amitri and Toy Matinee to the mix… basically that Indie Rock/Power Pop I love so much!

I also hear one of my all time faves pop up in a few songs, the somewhat unknown and sadly missed band The Gear Daddies.

This trio is made up of front man and lead singer Abbie Huxley, songwriter Randy Wooten and producer/bass player Eric Holden. Holden and Wooten have been working together for over a decade, when they formed Cheap Lullaby Records and their band The Bloody Lovelies. That label released over thirty records for artists such as The BellRays, Joan As Police Woman, Ivan & Alyosha, Teitur, and David Mead. Impressive list!

The songwriting is smart, the musicianship is tight and Abbie brings a nice Tennessee waltz to his warm vocals. His voice is instantly familiar and reminds me of someone specific, though of course my mind is blanking on exactly who… but at the same time, it is new to my ears.

My buddies and I love to find and share bands with each other, and there are four of us in particular that have similar tastes. It always starts out with a text or message saying… “These guys are SO in our wheelhouse!”

Well, welcome to my “musical wheelhouse,” Willodean!Awesome Life Decisions is pure jangly pop joy and easily something I could have heard coming out of my ‘80s radio. There is a brightness to the record that lends itself to being put on repeat, as the six fantastic songs seem to come and go way too fast. My stand out tracks are “Shy” and “Don’t Give Up,” which also reminds me of The Explorers Club.

The pace slows down a bit on Fires, Cars & Autumn Stars, a slow-simmering, ballad heavy output that has a more folksy feel. It is definitely a great, late night affair. The opening “Afraid I’ll Start Remembering You” moves into “Carmen,” both songs about the loss of love and reminiscing, and clear proof that heartbreak so often leads to some great music. “Sweet Autumn Music” is a nice country affair that opens with a lovely, yearning mandolin. At least I think it’s a mandolin. My favorite track is the bright “Firelight,” which casts a nice country/power pop glow.Life & Limbo has been called “this summer’s breakup album for the modern introvert…” but for me, the pain is blunted by some gorgeous tunes and melodies. I guess that’s what makes a great breakup album… shared pain and revelations and then enough beauty and hope to move us forward! The closing track “Old Friends, with its sweeping strings, is a gorgeous lullaby of a song, that may not only lull you to sleep, but give you the chance to dream yet again.

Awesome Life Decisions – Side Two acts as both the rocking rebound record and year’s finale, and is the perfect bookend to this four-release affair. Though ironically, this was the album I started with, and what served as my introduction to Willodean. “Want” is another favorite tune.

This is the kind of band and these are the kinds of records that would make for a great night home, party music, or a long ass road trip. There is a comfort and familiarity at play, but Willodean offers it’s very own take on the music my buddies and I like so much. And as I said earlier, welcome to the wheelhouse! Most definitely hope to see you boys live!

 

Leave a comment

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

Polonsky The Polymath Poet – A New Record (Fresh Flesh), A New Post And Our First Contest

Update: This did not post yesterday. Welcome to the pros and cons of modern technology.

On January 19, 2018 Jonny Polonsky releases Fresh Flesh. It is his eighth solo project, which includes 1996’s Hi My Name Is Jonny (LOVE that record), 2004’s The Power Of Sound and Intergalactic Messenger of Divine Light and Love from 2012.

When he is not making his own brilliant music, he has recorded or toured with a few minor artists you may have heard of, like Puscifer, Tom Morello, Pete Torn, Dixie Chicks, Donovan and the relatively unknown Johnny Cash and Neil Diamond. What makes this list even more remarkable is the sheer range and variety of musical genres Jonny moves so easily in and out of. This speaks to his amazing talents as a multi-instrumentalist, as well as a songwriter.

I know that times were different back then, but the sheer balls and story behind Jonny’s career is a lesson for any aspiring musician.

He was born in Chicago and grew up in Wilmette, and began “recording and self-releasing homemade cassettes as a teenager, under the name The Amazing Jonny Polonsky.”

According to Wikipedia, Jonny used 411 and “was able to reach and befriend musical heroes of his such as guitarists Marc Ribot (Tom Waits, Elvis Costello), Zander Schloss (Joe Strummer, Circle Jerks), Reeves Gabrels (David Bowie, Tin Machine), and Pixies singer Frank Black/Black Francis.”

This led to John Zorn, who invited Jonny to play CBGB’s New Jewish Music Festival in 1992. The incredible and sadly missed Jeff Buckley was at that show and said this of Polonsky: “He came to CBGB’s Gallery and ripped it up… He killed ’em… The charm of it is that he’s brought it into his own thing. It’s a nice miniature. He does it with soul; you can tell the difference between someone who just slips into The Beatles or something and someone like him.”

High praise indeed!

“Jonny Polonsky is a true original—his music should be celebrated everywhere.” Mark Lanegan
Mark is a true Grunge pioneer with the band Screaming Trees and has played and recorded with Queens Of The Stone Age for 14 years after his first band surprisingly broke up in 2000.

Maynard James Keenan of Progressive Metal powerhouse Tool says: “Jonny has pure artist compassion running through his blood.” (MG Note: MJK also makes some phenomenal wine under his label Caduceus Cellars. Seriously!)

Okay, okay… who cares about those guys?! I know you really want to hear what I have to say. Ha.

So here it is… I really cannot tell you how much I love this record. Oh wait, actually I can.

From the opening “The Orbit Of Love” (a blistering rock love song) to the closing notes of “I Want You So Badly,” (both highlight tracks for me) this one just grabbed me. And I have listened to it probably 15 times in the last few weeks.

“Don’t turn away from what you know
Burn away and we’ll set fire to our names
Don’t pull away from the orbit of love
Come away and live inside of my eyes.”

“Is It So Wrong For Me To Be So In Love With Myself And Everything I See?” launches into a retro guitar riff that Lenny Kravitz would love, and makes me want to grab a lighter, bounce my head from side to side, and sway arm in arm with a huge crowd. I love this song! It just kicks some great ass.

Influences like Joy Division, The Cure and Siouxsie and the Banshees mixed with Pete Yorn, Ryan Adams and Frank Black, and some good old ’90s punk are heard throughout. It’s funny, but my first and initial reaction to this record was this is what would happen if Jules Shear went punk. Amazing songwriting with a varied and sharpened edge.

The players consist of Polonsky on B-3 organ, guitar and lead vocals (though he plays something like 20 instruments. Bastard!)
Jennie Batter on drums… and yes, how perfect a name for a drummer.
Katie Burden on bass and vocals.
Special Guests include:
Mark Lanegan, spoken word and lead vocals on “Solar Child.”
Kevin Haskins of Bauhaus pounds percussion on “I Can’t Get Your Face Out of My Mind.” This is the one that most reminds me of a punk Jules Shear and just pulses into your ears.

Haskins says this about the new record: “From towering arcs of rock riff blasting guitars and jubilant roof raising anthems, to vulnerable and introspective, melancholic compositions, Jonny Polonsky’s Fresh Flesh will take you on an emotional journey of carefully crafted songs from this accomplished, multi instrumentalist songsmith.”

Polonsky self-produced and the album was recorded at Shangri La Studios in Malibu, the home base for little heard of mega-producer, Rick Rubin.

Rock, pop… love, loss… sex, power and searing guitars… this atmospheric rock record has it all. And now for something not completely different, but new for Marc’s Muse… our first CONTEST!!!

Contest (Some answers are in this post. Some are not):
1) Where did Jonny grow up and who brought him to NYC?

2) Name three bands or artists who have influenced Jonny over the years.

3) How did Jonny first connect with some of his musical idols?

4) What was the name of Jonny’s 2006 band and who else was involved in the project?

Post your answers in the COMMENTS SECTION.

One winner will be chosen randomly from the correct answers received and will have a test pressing of the new record (yes, VINYL) mailed out to them.

Don’t miss the full band show on Feb. 9th at Hotel Cafe, LA’s fantastic and intimate venue. And in the meantime, also enjoy this great K-Tel commercial send up.

Leave a comment

Filed under Album Review, Life... Plain and Not So Simple, Marc's Playlist - Music That Moves Me

My Top “10” Albums Of 2017 – Happy Musical New Year!!!

This year seems to be filled with my love and affinity for Power Pop and Singer/Songwriters… and is wonderfully filled with strong albums from female artists. Clearly the motto of my daughter’s school is right on… The Force Is Female!

I have not had time to sit with the new U2 album, so not sure where on my list it would be… But I will sit and listen to it again, soon. I also have not had a chance to listen to the new Lorde album, which many have on their year-end lists, so my bad. Please forgive me!

And yes… I am putting in ties so I don’t have to limit myself to 10!!! I guess I am just a dirty cheater… but my list, my rules!!!

Have a Happy and Healthy 2018 and here’s to much more great music!

#10 – TIE
Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile – Lotta Sea Lice
Love these two as solo artists… love them together. Great album!

Shout Out Louds – Ease My Mind
Thanks to Tuti and Alan for mentioning this amazing band that is so in my musical wheelhouse. Their fifth album is an easy, lush and gorgeous listen.

 

#9 – TIE
Old 97s – Graveyard Whistling
This Dallas, Texas band has been at it since 1993 and are still putting out amazing and vital records!

Real Estate – In Mind
So, I do not love this band just because they started in the Jersey town next to me. They make great and really enjoyable records, and while they had some major personnel changes, they are still making wonderful music.

 

#8 – TIE
Foxygen – Hang
I love this total throwback of a record, just hate that it is only eight songs long!

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit – The Nashville Sound
Jason just keeps making amazing music, and I love the Springsteen influence on “Cumberland Gap.”

 

#7 – TIE
Ted Leo – Hanged Man
I had never heard of Ted Leo or his band The Pharmacists until this year, and this record was one of my most pleasant discoveries. “With funds raised through crowd-sourcing, Leo built a studio in his house and started working on a new, more personal and musically diverse batch of songs. Although a few friends like Mann and Jonathan Coulton dropped by, Leo was the sole guiding force and he acquits himself well as a producer.”

Phoebe Bridgers – Stranger In The Alps
So many friends recommended Phoebe and this album is absolutely gorgeous and vital. “You Missed My Heart” is easily up there for my song of the year.

 

#6 – TIE
Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings – Soul Of A Woman
Obviously a bittersweet release, and this is NOT here just because of the passing of Sharon Jones. She and this band made some amazing music and she will be greatly missed.

Waxahatchee – Out In The Storm
Another strong female at the reins of a great band! Thanks to Julie Slater for the intro. to Katie Crutchfield and this great band. Did not realize her twin sister Alison had an album out, too called Tourist In This Town. Need to check that out!

 

#5 – TIE
The Afghan Whigs – In Spades
This band started in 1986! They faded out around 2001 and are now fully back. And we are the better for it, as they keep making some incredible music. 2014’s Do The Beast was also in my Top 10. At only 37 minutes this album flies by, but it also stays with you.

St. Vincent – Masseduction
From the cover to the album, this is one great, sexy pop record, filled with so many emotions. “New York” may just be my song of the year, too.

 

#4 – TIE
Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.
Can’t same that I am a huge Rap and Hip Hop guy, but I get it and this album is rock solid… or Rap Solid… and gives me something else I can listen to with my daughter… Okay, maybe not!

Slowdive – Slowdive
This band formed in 1989 and have just released their eponymous record… and it is soooo darn good!!!

 

# 3 – TIE
This Is The Kit – Moonshine Freeze
This is what Joni Mitchell might sound like if she was starting to make music today. Not sure how I discovered this one, but it stuck. Kate Stables “sings, plays guitar, banjo, trumpet and percussion, while a cast of carefully hand-plucked friends deliver guitar strums, banjo plucks, hushed horns and electronic textures that sit beneath Stables’ easy, earnest lilt.”

Julien Baker – Turn Out The Lights
Young women seem to be making some amazing music this year. Clearly there is an old soul at work here, same with Melina from Jay Som. On just her second album Julien makes some beautiful, smart and sophisticated music.

 

# 2 – TIE
Jay Som – Everybody Works
The fact that she is just 22 makes this album even more impressive. Melina Duterte from Oakland, CA is making what they call 90’s style fuzz pop, and this album is fantastic!

The National – Sleep Well Beast
Rolling Stone saysThe band’s trademark Joy Division gloom gets cut with sexiness and dark humor…” I say they are one of my favorite bands, and if I miss them live in concert one more time… AAGGHH!

 

#1 – The War on Drugs – A Deeper Understanding
Oh how I love this band… let me count the ways… L-O-V-E!!! And yet another one I have never seen live. Sigh. For some reason, the dates for them and The National never seem to work out… Wilco, too for that matter…

So my vow for 2018, assuming and hoping they are all on the road, is to finally see Wilco, The National and The War On Drugs!!!

 

HONORABLE MENTION:
Ryan Adams – Prisoner
Love Ryan. His music is raw and honest and cuts to the bone and soul… always.

Gregg Allman – Southern Blood
No… but yes, okay… I NEVER saw The Allman Brothers live… and yes, this is a great record and hopefully a lasting memorial to a remarkable talent.

BNQT – Volume 1
The “Indie Supergroup” featuring Ben Bridwell of Band of Horses, Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand, Jason Lytle of Grandaddy, Fran Healy of Travis, and Eric Pulido of Midlake make a great first record.

 The Clientele – Music For The Age Of Miracles
Pure, sophisticated, lush and stunning Power Pop. I adore this band!

 The Dustbowl Revival – The Dustbowl Revival
A huge step forward as they not only expand their sound and style, but continue to capture their amazing live energy on record.

Hazel English – Just Give In / Never Going Home
Another female singer/songwriter on my year end list! This album kept coming out as singles and EPs, but I am happy to finally have it as a whole.

 Father John Misty – Pure Comedy
Singer/Songwriter heaven… I begged my daughter to go see him at Coachella… She didn’t, but now I hear him playing in her Spotify, so… good on me… though she claims another friend was the source. Sheesh!

 Neil Finn – Out Of Silence
Strong songwriting is the building block for a great and long career. Case in point… and still going!

Fleet Foxes – Crack-Up
Indie folk may be supplanting Alternative as my new favorite genre! This band is going on 10 plus years and the music is still going strong!

Liam Gallagher – As You Were
Oasis cut in half. Tuti said I missed a killer live show. Sigh…

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Who Built The Moon?
Oasis cut in half. Leaning towards Noel, because he has a bigger solo output and I love what he is doing… but apparently need to see both live! Another missed concert this year. Argh.

Grandaddy – Last Place
I love when bands deep in their careers can keep putting out such great and interesting music.

Grizzly Bear – Painted Ruins
Hooky, synth-pop. Yes, please!

LCD Soundsytem – American Dream
I love how Rolling Stone writes: “In the masterfully pissed-off American Dream, he can’t decide whether he’s making a party album for the end of the world or an apocalypse album for the end of the party.” Hell yeah!

Jeff Lynne’s ELO – Wembley Or Bust
Seeing them live at the Hollywood Bowl was one of the best live concert experiences I have ever had, so this souvenir, even though it was not our show, is an easy pick for my year-end list.

Manchester Orchestra – A Black Mile To The SurfaceThis band is betting better and better!!! This one was close to a Top 10!

Mondo Cozmo – Plastic Soul
KCRW and KCSN played the heck out of “Plastic Soul, ”Hold On To Me,” and “Shine,” but I am not over this record yet and it seems more accessible/radio friendly than his previous band, Eastern Conference Champions.

The Pains Of Being Young At Heart – The Echo Of Pleasure
A recent discovery that has been in constant rotation.

Portugal. The Man – Woodstock
Love the story behind this album… finding his Dad’s ticket to Woodstock!

Ride – Weather Diaries
20 years in, and a new release. Kudos to them and this truly amazing record! “Home Is A Feeling” is also like a warm, cozy blanket.

Shakey Graves And The Horse He Rode In On – Nobody’s Fool and The Donor Blues EP
Love these guys on many levels. And a phenomenal band live!

Chris Stapleton – From A Room: Volume 1
I am so not a country fan, at least “new” country, but Chris’ music goes beyond a simple genre classification and he keeps putting out killer records.

Harry Styles – Harry Styles
Yeah, yeah, yeah… But… Quite a few songs I really like… and he is clearly channeling his inner Ed Sheeran, but always good to have something the kid and I can enjoy together… though I have finally won her over to the joys of classic rock!!!

Special Honorable Mention:
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard
This insanely prolific group released four albums in 2017! Yes, you heard me (or read me) right… FOUR!!! This includes Polygondwanaland, which the band gave away for free… and I believe it is still available!   Murder of the Universe, Flying Microtonal Banana, and Sketches of Brunswick East “for which they they hooked up with Alex Brettin of the soft rock weirdos Mild High Club to concoct the smoothed-out psychedelic jazz album…”

AllMusic also says: “Trying to make sense of, and/or keep up with, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard can be a daunting prospect. They are nothing if not prolific, and nothing if not willing to throw curve ball after curve ball.”

CHEERS!

Leave a comment

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

Tom Petty… A Heart And A Heartbreaker Has Broken Mine

Monday, October 2nd was a shitty day. No, it was a horrible, dark and bleak day. In the midst of trying to write and apply for jobs, I could not turn the news off. The death toll and numbers of those injured was climbing. Las Vegas had become a war zone… yet another example of the world gone mad… another example of why the greatest country on the globe, arguably, and not so clear-cut these days, needs to catch up with the rest of the world in terms of health insurance and logical gun laws and gun control.

Yes, we need to understand why someone would do this. This is vital as well… To see what signs were missed… or whether or not someone knew something and said nothing. We may not really know why it happened… but we know how… and we clearly know how easy it is to get a gun that no one actually needs… or 42 of them. Enough is enough is enough.

I have been to the Mandalay Bay many times… stayed there many times. I have friends who did an annual charity event there that I volunteered for on several occasions. Ironically, they also did a country music festival… Not this one, but still… “There but for the grace of G-d go I…”

And then… and then… and then…

In the midst of all this, my college buddy and oft concert partner Russ calls about Tom Petty… He was clearly shaken… It was before most news stories were out, so I immediately jumped online. No… Not today… Not now. People mock TMZ, but sadly they are usually right… and they were, once again, the first ones to report what was going on.

Just last week, Tom Petty was in town, playing three nights at the Hollywood Bowl. I was pissed at first when the first show announced was on Rosh Hashanah, I skipped Bruce’s book signing a year ago for the same reason. But then they added two more dates and all seemed right with the world. Well… no concert budget forced me to hope I would win tickets through a local station… and I checked in with my usual contacts at another station, hoping maybe an extra pair would pop up.

Russ and I had a conversation before last Monday’s show about possibly going, but he and I had seen Petty on June 11, 2013 when he did his amazing residency at the Fonda Theatre. You can read my post on that show here. That was a 1200 person venue!  I mean we were right there! We had seen him in the old Forum… when Bob Dylan came out… and in Chicago. Plus… the Bowl can be a pain in the ass… and while it is historic and amazing, it can also be a clusterfuck of 18,000 people, and a curfew that cuts set lists short.

I will regret that decision for a long time to come.  Yes, who knew. Who knew the last Eagles tour would be the last with Glenn Frey? All of my regrets and missed opportunities start to play in my head… David Bowie, Prince, Roy Orbison, Gregg Allman… shows I could have gone to…

I had met Petty, along with Howie Epstein in 1993, at The Troubadours Of Folk Festival on the campus of UCLA.  Thanks to David Wild for that amazing opportunity. I have a signed ticket stub from that show… Tom Petty, along with Roger McGuinn and Arlo Guthrie, and though they all signed over each other, Petty is pretty clear, in the black Sharpie.

Just so you know… I have stopped typing. Tears come too easily today. It is overwhelming. There is so much going on in my brain right now. So much…

Damn The Torpedoes was my first Petty record… and to this day, it is one of the few albums I would call perfection, song to song. It reminds me of a specific time and place… Glen Rock, New Jersey… 1979… But it is also timeless… It moves with me… grows with me…

That’s why music is so essential. It is why artists become such a vital part of our lives. It is why we cry when they pass. Why we feel so lost. It is why we feel at all, and feel so deeply. I know some people don’t understand the pain… the sorrow we feel, as if we lost a friend or member of out family.

I’ll never forget yelping in pain and anguish when my brother called to tell me Clarence Clemons passed away. I was out to dinner with my parents and had to literally walk away from the table and out onto the street. At first they were horrified, thinking it was a real family member… then they were a bit surprised and dismayed that I would react so strongly to someone I had never met and really did not know. But I did know Clarence… just as I knew Bowie and Frey and Prince… and Petty. The only one of these I actually met was Petty… but that is NOT how I knew him.

I knew him for the music. I knew him from the common humanity and understanding we seemed to share… from the poetry, the lyrics and the notes. The chords and the chorus… the bridge and the riff. I knew him because he sung things I thought, and answered questions I wrestled with. That is art… that is music.

Petty’s music has been with me for almost 40 years.  He has been an almost constant companion since I was a teen… In high school, in college, in the car, on road trips… blasting from the house… bringing me up when I needed to learn, or relearn to fly… reminding me to listen to my heart… be patient because the waiting was the hardest part… and wondering how I was going to run down a dream.

And yet today, I could barely listen to the radio. Knowing why Petty was being played was too much to bare.  A sigh… a deep breath… none of it was enough to make it stop… to halt the revealing reality. In my brain I thought maybe I could wish it away… If I stop listening and watch the news it won’t be real.

I mean the news was all over the place… He was… he wasn’t… he will be. But as naive as we would like be as adults, we cannot stop it… Time, music, the show… it all goes on.

There is that moment when you hear a chunk of songs by an artist and feel a sense of dread. It’s not Two For Tuesday… It’s not Triple Play Thursday… It’s not Roll The Dice… Oh no… What happened??? Why are they playing so many of his/her/their songs???

The idea of being found unconscious means you were alone… means no one had a chance to save you. That haunts me a bit… haunts me a lot. For his last minutes, and for any of ours.

 

As I was driving my daughter home, and tears started once again, I told her that I felt bad for her, because as good as some of the artists of her generation may be, the odds of them still being here and vital 40 years from now was a long shot. I told her how much Tom’s music meant to me… How much it got me through. How he was a part of me. And my daughter is a music person. I know she gets it.

But now, as so often happens, music that gave me nothing but joy will be tinged with sadness, heartbreak and loss. Maybe for a few moments I’ll be lost… back in that innocence… purity… peace and calm… but then I’ll want to go back in time, like I do now. Go to more shows… go to the Bowl… stop time to get him help… to make it not happen… because right now all I can think is Nooooooooo! This cannot be.

We all have soundtracks… we all have songs that accompanied a first kiss… a first love… a first heartbreak… a first dance… a birth… a wedding… a death. Music has that power… and those who make the music, seemingly make it just for us. At least that is how we feel about the great ones.

I should have gone to the show at the Bowl… obviously now… but for me the bottom line was a need to conserve funds. I was being responsible… and luckily, I had seen TP & The Heartbreakers several times. It doesn’t take away the immediate sting and pain and loss, but… we cannot dwell and live with regret… Life is too short, too unpredictable… Clearly.

But I realized when you don’t have a lot of money and you’re young, you want things. When you don’t have a lot of money and you’re a bit older, you want experiences… those shared moments in time… those special events that will stay with you for a lifetime. And you miss them deeply when they pass you by. Concerts are a big one, and it hurts when I have to miss a show. Obviously I assumed he’d be back… that this was not the end of the tour… the road… the album…

At the time, as much as I wanted to be there, I was okay with missing it. There’d be others…

In this world… in these days… in any days… that is not a sure thing. Nothing is.

So let us sit with the pain… sit with the loss… sit with the music…
In the dark… headsets on… taking the whole library and output in. It’s astounding… the solo stuff… the duets… The Heartbreakers… The Traveling Wilburys… So much. So much amazing and incredible music.

And then… slowly, let us stand… and sway… and dance… and sing… and celebrate once again. Let us be thankful for what we DID HAVE… what we DO HAVE…

But yes, let us fully realize that it will never again be “just the normal noises in here”…

 

3 Comments

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 News Blues

Metal Monday – Musical Healing With Baroness… And No, Not Downton Abbey

Perhaps there is no irony that I was just watching Do The Right Thing last night… and how prominently it features a rather large and powerful Boom Box.

For me, it was and is about Jason and his magical Boom Box, and they have struck again. Well, not literally… I am not sitting in a bus in the very last seat listening to the literal boom box that sat on the floor or on the seat next to us. Though I wish I was… Wish I had held onto that time a little longer… a little more dearly.

I do miss those days… so innocent and pure… all about discovery of life and love. A broken heart or unrequited crush was as bad as things got back then. Don’t get me wrong. Those hurt like hell and seemed like the end of the world, but trust me… being an adult is SOOO much harder.

These days we struggle with so much… health, career, broken marriages… Life is not easy. And yet it is glorious and beautiful and filled with so many miracles… and we need to celebrate each and every one, each and every day. But that is so much easier said than done.

It is easy to say we should meditate daily, though I can tell you first hand, it works wonders. It is easy to say be more MINDFUL… but we all know that it takes tremendous work and soul-searching. But that is why they call it a PRACTICE. Take a moment out of your day to walk around your neighborhood. Look at each tree, each leaf, each stem… feel the breeze… hear the birds… and KNOW THAT LIFE IS MIRACULOUS.

We all have our own issues, some more dire than others and we tend to take on the issues of others. We feel the stress of our children, and sometimes feel helpless when trying to move them beyond their own frustrations. But the BEST thing we can do for ourselves and for them and for anyone we love, is to HEAL ourselves… get that OXYGEN MASK on first… and then help those around us… loved ones, strangers, the world…

And there is NOTHING that heals as much as music. If you are a regular reader of this blog you know my musical tastes run the gamut… the FULL gamut.  Just today my eclectic musical brain is listening to the following… New albums by Cheap Trick, The War On Drugs (so fricking good), Grizzly Bear, Dirty Projectors… all MUST LISTENS… and older ones by Beth Orton, Nickel Creek and The Sheepdogs.

Thanks and shout outs to Brad, Dan and Julie!  And now… courtesy of Jason, my Monday Morning Metal, Baroness and their amazing “comeback” album… Purple!

What is a bit of a miracle, is that I came up with this title BEFORE knowing or hearing anything about this band! As I write this post, their music is blasting, but in the background are devastating pictures and images from flooded Texas. On the fake news, I might add… he said sarcastically…

My heart is breaking, and somewhat ironically, Metal is soothing it. But the story of this band is nothing short of miraculous and so appropriate… further proof that THERE ARE NO COINCIDENCES!!!

Wikipedia says that “Baroness is an American heavy metal band from Savannah, Georgia whose original members grew up together in Lexington, Virginia.

“Baroness formed in mid-2003, founded by former members of the punk/metal band Johnny Welfare and the Paychecks. Singer John Dyer Baizley creates the artwork for all Baroness albums, and has done artwork for other bands.”

On August 15, 2012, their coach “fell from a viaduct near Bath, England… and John Baizley suffered a broken left arm and broken left leg. each suffered fractured vertebrae. Pete Adams was treated and released from the hospital on August 16, 2012.”

There were months of recovery and in 2013, “Allen Blickle (drums) and Matt Maggioni (bass guitar) had left Baroness.

On April 1, 2013, it was announced, that Nick Jost, (bass) and Sebastian Thomson (drums) of Trans Am would be joining the band… and by the early Fall of that year, they were back on the road, touring Europe.

And in 2015, they released their “comeback” album called Purple.  Yes, purple IS my favorite color… but this album also kicks some ass… and “Shock Me” was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance at the 2017 Grammy Awards.”

That was my favorite track, by the way… AND BEFORE I READ THAT!

I also really like the fiery, hard rocking, fist-pumping, head banging, well-fueled “Kerosene,”  “Try To Disappear” and “Chlorine & Wine.” As Jason says, they are “doomy and metalish but proggy as well.” So yeah, they might be an acquired taste… and their lyrics are not always uplifting… but there is something there… and their story fits right in today’s narrative… people fighting to survive in the face of disaster.

And believe me, if you told me ten years ago that I would become a connoisseur of Metal, I would have laughed at you… but here we are and there you go.

So make it a Most Magical Metal Monday! Stay safe, be happy and be kind… CRANK UP THE MUSIC… and as always ROCK OUT!

Leave a comment

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