Category Archives: Life Events

Personal music related experiences, current events related to music, and reminders of important events in music history.

Transferring vinyl is a major drag on the economy?

My turntable in the middle of a vinyl transfer

My turntable in the middle of a vinyl transfer

This is going to be one of my shortest blogs ever.  Today, in the Wall street Journal, in the review section, on page C-11 there is an article called “Lack of Sleep costs Billions. How about Cats?”  The article list the top ten things that put a drag on the economy.  Number 4 on the list is “transferring vinyl to manageable mp 3 formats.”  The author claims that this activity in costing the economy about $11.7 billion per year!  I assume it is calculating the time it takes as well as it’s impact on the sale of music in other formats.  She lays the blame squarely on the “Baby-boomers”  She mocks us for taking our classic rock so “seriously”.  If it is a crime, then let me be guilty…  As a matter of fact, I plan to do some vinyl transferring today!

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Posted in Life Events, Vinyl | Tagged | 2 Comments

Is Kat Edmonson the next Cole Porter?

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My Wife’s birthday resulted in the discovery of an amazing new musican. My wife wanted to get out of town for her birthday so we planned a weekend trip to Fort Worth. It just so happened that a new live music venue was opening up that weekend and my wife found an article in the weekend guide of The Dallas Morning News promoting a concert there the same weekend. The performer was a singer/songwriter from Austin named Kat Edmonson.  We had never heard of her, but the article described her as follows:  “that beautifully gray area that separates Americana from Jazz, country from folk”. Well that was enough for me.  We bought tickets.   She was performing at a new venue in Fort Worth called The Live Oak Music Hall & Lounge.  This is a great new place on the south side of Fort Worth.  It has an outstanding restaurant, a rooftop bar with an incredible view of Forth Worth, and a Music Hall that seats a little over 200 people.  The entire menu in the Lounge is also available in the Music Hall.  Pretty cool!

Our experience at the Lounge was first class.  The food and wine selection was excellent.  After dinner we went into the music hall and enjoyed the concert.  The opening act was Luke Wade.  He is a local artist from Fort Worth.  He was late because he had just played a private fundraiser for President Obama that was hosted by Bill Clinton.  The guy came in through the main entrance for the public, ran up on stage, and asked for two minutes to get ready. He performed on guitar with a fiddle player.  He put on a very enjoyable show.  He sounded too much like John Mayer to me.  That should tell you that he could sing and play at a very high level.

After a brief intermission Kat Edmonson sang and was accompanied by a acoustic guitar player.  Her guitar player was a French Canadian and he was a spactacular musicain.  She performed every song from her latest album and covered a song by Ella Fitzgerald (Champagne) and also Brian Wilson (I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times.)  Her cover of the Brian Wilson song was easily one of the highlights of a very magical night.  She infused the song with a pathos that exceeded the brilliant original song by The Beach Boys

Kat Edmonson was raised in Houston by her Mother and Grandmother.  She grew up listening to their LP records. (This is this story’s link to my blog..)  She especially loved her Grandmothers LP’s.  She grew up listening and loving The Great American Song Book.  Her songs are full of amazing lyrics.  She is also a very effective and interesting live performer.  She understands subtlety and technique like very few performers I have seen recently.  I picked up her latest CD “Way Down Low” and I cannot stop listening to it.  The CD features a duet with Lyle Lovett.  The lyrics are a great example of her work:

The Long Way Home

I’ll take the long way home tonight Please don’t wake up I’ll be alright Going about my usual day, I had no idea Cupid and friends had other plans for me, now i see And so, before I call it a day I’m making stops along the way Well I’ll be laughing with the moon in sea of delight and thinking every little bitty star in sight When I, take the long way home tonight I’ll take the long way home tonight Please don’t wake up I’ll be alright, going about my usual day, I had no idea Cupid and friends had other plans for me, now i see And so, first, before this day is through I’ve got some things I’ve gotta do Well I’ll be laughing with the moon in sea of delight and thanking every little bitty star in sight When I, take the long way home tonight Well I’ll be winking to the (? wise one?) who always knew And babbling with the brook about my love for you
When I, take the long way home tonight, tonight When I, take the long way home tonight.

If you can’t hear the Soul of Cole Porter in those lyrics then you must not have ever heard a song by him…

Check out Kat Edmonson.  She just recorded an episode of Austin City Limits with Willie Nelson.  Here is the link to her site:  Kat Edmonson.  Her music and lyrics are fantastic.  The ghost of Cole Porter lives!

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Posted in CD Picks, Country Music, Jazz Music, Life Events, Live Performance Reviews, Rock Music | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A Tribute to Gustav Mahler…

Album cover of Das Lied von der Erde

Yesterday was the 101st anniversary of the death of Gustav Mahler (1860 – 1911). Mahler was one of the greatest composers of all time. He is also one of my favorite composers. I am sure more people don’t know who he was than do know who he was, but what everyone should know is how important he is in the history of western music. Gustav Mahler ushered in the modern era of music. His influence can still be heard today in music as diverse as John Williams film music (E.T., Star wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Jaws, etc…) to Neil Young. (I have an idea for a blog I want to write called “Neil Young, Gustav Mahler and the Dirge). I’m sure Neil Young doesn’t think his music is influenced by Mahler but I can hear it clearly in many of his songs.

The music I have chosen to post in tribute to Mahler is the powerful song-cycle Das Lied von der Erde. (The Song of the Earth). This composition was one of the last works Mahler completed. His last complete work was his Ninth Symphony. His tenth symphony was on his work desk, with only the first movement completely fleshed out, when he died. Mahler never heard Das Lied von der Erde performed, nor did he ever hear his 9th Symphony performed. Das Lied was premiered by Bruno Walter on November 20th 1911. Bruno Walter was a student of Mahler.

Mahler was a very famous man in his time, but he was better known for his conducting than his compositions. He was probably the greatest conductor of his time. His principle occupation was being the conductor of the Vienna State Opera. Mahler virtually invented the modern concert experience by codifying the etiquette of the concert experience. He invented the concept of Opera direction and set design. He started the classical music tradition of not allowing late comers to enter the concert hall during a performance. He began the disintegration of tonality.

He had a tragic life, but ultimately he triumphed over his grief. This composition is a beautiful example of how he lifted himself from tragedy to triumph.

Das Lied von der Erde is really a symphony. (It was sub-titled by Mahler “Symphony for Contralto and Tenor Voices and Large Orchestra). Mahler was superstitious about composing a 9th symphony because Beethoven died after he composed his 9th symphony. Although this composition requires a large orchestra, the entire orchestra is used sparingly. Many times the music takes on an almost chamber music style. In addition, there are part of the composition where the vocalist seems to be accompanying an instrumental solo instead of the reverse. The song cycle is made up of 6 different movements. The lyrics are derived from ancient Chinese poetry. Some of the poems were used as they were originally written and some of the poems are combinations of two different poets, and Mahler himself added some lines of his own devising. I have included translations of the lyrics because the songs are all sung in German.

This performance is by Bernard Haitink and the Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam. The Tenor is James King and the Mezzo-soprano is Janet Baker. One of the reasons I chose this performance is because Mahler actually conducted the Concertgebouw orchestra for a period of time. And now, Das Lied von der Erde

1. “Das Trinklied vom Jammer der Erde” (The Drinking Song of the Sorrow of the Earth)

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The main feature of this movement is the repeating of the phrase “Dunkel ist das Leben, ist das Tod.” (Dark is life, is death). Each time the phase is repeated it is pitched slightly higher than before.

Here is the translation of the poem:

The wine already winks from the golden goblet, but do not drink yet – first I’ll sing you a song! The song of sorrow shall burst out in laughter in your soul. When sorrow draws nigh, the gardens of the soul lie wasted, both joy and song wither away. Dark is life, is death.

Master of this house! Your cellar holds the wealth of golden wine! Here, this lute shall be mine! Strumming the lute and draining the glass – these are things which belong together. A full wine-goblet at the right moment is worth more than all the riches of this world! Dark is life, is death.

The firmament is forever blue, and the earth will long remain and blossom into spring. But you, fellow man, how long do you live? Not even for a hundred years may you take your delight in all the false trifles of this world!

Look down there! On the moonlit graves squats a ghostly, bestial figure. It’s an ape! Listen t his howls piercing through the sweet fragrance of life!

Now drink the wine! Now is the time, comrades! Drain your golden goblets to the bottom! Dark is life, is death…

2. Der Einsame Im Herbst (The Lonely Man in Autumn)

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The second song is softer and quieter than the first. Note how chamber music like the scoring is.

A blue autumn mist hovers over the lake; all the grass-blades are striped with frost; one would think an artist had strewn jade-dust over the delicate blossoms.

The sweet fragrance of the flowers has been blown away; a cold wind has bent their stems down. Soon the withered, golden lotus leaves will shift about on the water.

My heart is weary. my little lamp went out with a hiss, reminding me of sleep. I am coming to you, beloved resting-place! Yes, give me peace – I need to be refreshed!

I weep much in my loneliness; autumn has lasted too long in my heart. Sun of love, will you never shine again, and gently dry my bitter tears?

This poem is so obviously about the death of Mahler’s eldest daughter. She died after a brief illness. The line “My little lamp went out with a hiss…” is almost too sad to bear…

3. Von Der Jugend (Of Youth)

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Note in this movement the extensive use of Our western musical scale consists of 8 notes.

In the middle of the small pond stands a pavilion made of green and with porcelain.

Like a tiger’s back, the bridge forms an arch of jade stretching to the pavilion.

In the little house friends sit, well-dressed, drinking, chatting; some are writing down verses.

Their silken sleeves glide back, their silken caps perch merrily on the backs of their heads.

On the quiet surface of the pond everything appears marvelously in mirror image.

Everything turned upon its head in the pavilion made of green and withe porcelain;

Like a half-moon stands the bridge, its arch inverted. Friends, well-dressed, drink and chatter.

4. Von Der Schonheit (Of Beauty)

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Young girls pick flowers, pick lotus blossoms form the bank. They sit among bushes and leaves, collecting blossoms in their laps and teasing each other.

The golden sun dapples the figures, reflects them in the smooth water. The sun reflects their slender limbs, their charming eyes, and the caressing breeze lifts up the fabric of their sleeves, carries the magic of the fragrance through the air.

O, look, what handsome youths exercise their horses near the water, gleaming far and bright as sunbeams, already the sportive ones are trotting in between the green willow branches!

The horse of one of them neighs gaily, shies and dashes away; moving over flowers and grass, the giddy hooves, like a storm, heedlessly crush the drooping blossoms. Ha! How his mane flutters in a frenzy, how steamy the breath from his nostrils!

Golden sunlight dapples the figures, reflects them in the smooth water. And the most beautiful of the maidens sends longing glances in his direction. Her proud bearing is only fluff. In the sparkle of her wide eyes, in the darkness of her heated glance, the excitement of her heart still vibrates in lament.

5. Der Trunkene Im Fruhling (The Drunkard in Spring)


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This movement acts as the Scherzo of the symphony. Note the constantly shifting rhythms

If life is only a dream, what good are cards and worries!? I drink until I can no more, the whole day long!

And when I can drink no more, when body and soul are full, then I stagger to my doorway and sleep marvelously!

What do I hear upon awakening? Listen! A bird is singing in the tree, I ask him if it is already spring – to me it seems like a dream,

The bird twitters: Yes! Spring is here; it came overnight! Roused form inward gazing I hear the bird singing and laughing!

I fill my goblet once again and drain it dry and sing until the moon shines out form the pitch-black sky!

And when i can sing no longer, I fall asleep again; what do I care about spring!? let me be drunk!

6. Der Abschied (The Farewell)

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Der Abschied is easily one of the most beautiful pieces I have ever heard. This is highly emotional and intensely personal music. The composer lays his soul bare to the world. After Mahler finished Das Lied von der Erde, he showed it to his friend and student Bruno Walter. He said ” This is surely the most personal thing I have ever written.” The he showed Walter this last movement “Der Abschied”. He asked “Can this be endured at all? Surley the people will kill themselves afterwards?” i think I know what he meant…

The tempo is marked “Without regard for Tempo” . It is very difficult to conduct because of all the cadenza’s for the vocalist and instrumental soloist. The movement is almost as long as the other 5 movements combined. The last lines are added by Mahler himself and it turns all of this sorrow into happiness. “Everywhere the good earth once more greens and blossoms into spring. Everywhere, forever, distant spaces shine light blue! Forever…forever

The last word is repeated over and over, quieter, and quieter until the last word is “imprinted on the atmosphere” as the composer Benjamin Britten beautifully described it.

The sun departs behind the mountains. Evening descends upon the valleys with its cool, refreshing shadows. O look! The moon, like a silver barque, glides upward on the sky’s blue sea. I notice a slight breeze blowing behind the dark fir-trees!

The stream sings melodiously through the darkness. The flowers turn pale in the twilight. The earth breathes a deep tranquility; now all longing wants to dream. Weary people make their way home, to learn once more in sleep forgotten happiness and youth! The birds perch quietly on the branches. The world falls asleep!

A cool breeze blows in the shade of my fir-trees. I stand here in wait of my friend; I wait to bid him a last farewell. O friend, I long to relish the beauty of the evening at your side. Where do you tarry? You leave me so log alone! I wander to and fro with my lute on paths swollen with soft grass. O beauty! Flush with love, with life unending – O drunken world!

He alighted from his horse and offered his friend the drink of farewell. He asked him where he was heading and why it had to be so. He spoke – his voice was muffled; My friend, fortune has not favored me in this world! Where am I going? I go wandering now in the mountains. I seek peace for my lonely heart. I wander to my homeland, my abode. I will never roam in the distance. My heart is quiet and awaits its hour! Everywhere the good earth once more greens and blossoms into spring. Everywhere, forever, distant spaces shine light blue.

Forever…forever…

 

 

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Posted in Classical Music, Life Events, Vinyl | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Dallas Symphony performance of Bruckner’s 8th Symphony is breathtaking!

Sunday April 29th I attended the Dallas Symphony’s performance of the Bruckner 8th Symphony.  I was really excited to hear this piece performed live.  It is a magnificent symphony.  It is not performed very often because of it’s length, (over 70 minutes depending on the version performed) it’s complexity, and the massive size of the orchestra required to perform it.  The symphony is scored for  3 flutes (third doubling piccolo), three oboes, three clarinets, three bassoons, eight french horns (four doubling on Wagner tubas), three trumpets, alto, tenor and bass trombones, contra bass tuba, timpani, and a full complement of strings.  The Scherzo and Adagio movements also include 3 harps, triangle and cymbals.  Needless to say, the stage was crammed full of musicians.  We are very fortunate in Dallas to have one of the best conductors in the world as our conductor.  Jaap Van Zweden was just voted Conductor of the Year by Musical America for 2012!  I was even more interested to hear this performance because Van Zweden has just recorded this symphony with The Netherlands Radio Philharmonic for Octavia Records.  Mr. Van Zweden is currently recording the entire cycle of Anton Bruckner Symphonies.

One of the first things a conductor has to decide before he can conduct a Bruckner Symphony is which version?  Anton Bruckner was notorious for revising his work. There are two or three versions of almost all of his nine symphonies.  A total of 26 versions exist for his nine symphonies.   He was not a very confident person and was very reactive to criticism from peers that he respected.    There are 3 versions of the Bruckner 8th.  In this case Jaap Van Zweden chose the last version which was revised by Bruckner and two of his students Joseph and Franz Schalk.  It is the opinion of Maestro Van Zweden that the Bruckner 8th was the only symphony that was improved by the alterations.  This version was completed in 1980.  The symphony was debuted in Vienna on December 18, 1892 with Hans Richter conducting. This symphony is unique in the cannon of Bruckner symphonies for a couple of reasons.  First of all, it is the only Bruckner Symphony to include harps and second, it is the only Bruckner symphony that the Scherzo precedes the Adagio movement.

When I say this symphony is massive, I mean it is massive!  The last two movements are each over 30 minutes long.

If you are not familiar with the music of Anton Bruckner, think about the sound of the music of Richard Wagner.  Bruckner idolized Wagner and worshiped his orchestral techniques.  But that’s where the similarity ends.  Wagner was a hedonistic, atheist and an antisemitic.  Bruckner was a devout Roman Catholic and very spiritually centered in his personal beliefs.  He composed an enormous amount of music for Catholic church services in addition to his nine symphonies.  His love of God infuses his music.

The symphony No. 8 in C minor starts out in a whispering  tremolo in the strings, much like the Beethoven 9th.  Bruckner’s  music spins out in very long, slowly developing phrases.  The first thing that stuck me about the DSO’s performance is how beautifully Jaap led the orchestra and audience through these long beautiful phrases.  His vision of this symphony is beautifully clear.  Consequently, he made this normally complex, difficult composition stunningly easy to follow and comprehend.  What an amazing achievement!

We are also fortunate to have a world class concert hall in Dallas.  The McDermott Concert Hall at the Meyerson Symphony Center seemed to have been built for Bruckner.  This state of the art hall can actually be tuned to the type of music being performed.  The hall has an Acoustic canopy panel that can be raised and lowered as well as tilted to create various complementary environments for sound.  In addition the hall has reverberation chambers that can be adjusted  based on the amount of reverberation the conductor requires.  For this performance the canopy was raised as high as it could go and the reverberation chambers were opened all the way.  This created a cathedral like environment for the performance.  Bruckner was an organist by training and most of his music was greatly influenced by the sound of an organ.  The Bruckner 8th has several massive climaxes.  As the mighty crashes of the full orchestra occurred, the ambient tail of the music was breathtaking.  (When you think of ambient tail think of echo.)  The sound would literally hang in the air for  amazingly long times and Mr. Van Zweden would take full advantage of this effect.   It was a breathtaking!

This performance was nothing short of stunning.  As the finale came to it’s dramatic conclusion, the audience sprang to their feet in a totally spontaneous standing ovation that went on for 15 minutes.  70 plus minutes went by in the blink of an eye.  I was totally blown away by the vision of the conductor and the fabulous playing of the Dallas Symphony.  What a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.  I for one am going to acquire the newly issued recording of this symphony my Maestro Van Zweden.  Congratulations to Jaap Van Zweden and the Dallas Symphony.  And how lucky am I to live in a city where I can experience a world class musical event like this!

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Posted in Classical Music, Life Events, Live Performance Reviews | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Let’s give it to ’em right now!! The Inside Story of Louie, Louie…

Cover of Louie, Louie by Dave Marsh

Cover of "Louie, Louie" by Dave Marsh

This is a truly great book about rock and roll. The sub-title of the book is as follows: “The History and Mythology of the World’s Most Famous Rock’n’Roll Song; Including the Full Details of Its Torture and Persecution at the Hands of the Kingsmen, J. Edgar Hoover’s F.B.I., and a Cast of Millions; and Introducing, for the First Time Anywhere, the Actual Dirty Lyrics” Isn’t that intriguing?  You bet it is!

I was totally surprised by this book.  I thought it was going to be some kind of light, funny take on the history of “Louie, Louie”.  This is a serious and scholarly look at the song and it’s significance.  That’s not to say that the book isn’t entertaining as well, because IT IS!  This book will make you laugh and make you think. 

First of all, The Kingsmen did not write Louie, Louie.   A great soul singer from L.A.  named Richard Berry wrote the song.  He had a reasonable amount of success with it at first.  His story is a subject all by itself.  Paul Revere and the Raiders released a version of the song within days of The Kingsmen.  Their versions fought it out on the radio for weeks, but The Kingsmen ultimately won.  Why?, well that’s why you should read the book.  Well, that reason and because you want to know what the dirty lyrics are, right?  Dave Marsh makes a great case for Louie, Louie being the greatest Rock’n’Roll song of all time.  There are now over 3,000 version of Louie, Louie.  There is an annual Louie, Louie radio marathon called “Maximum Louie, Louie”.  Maximum Louie, Louie is held every April 11th and they play every known version of Louie, Louie.    There is a web site where you can report any new versions that you know of.  He also makes amazing connections between the primal scream of “Let’s give it to ’em right now!” and Kurt Cobain and the   birth of Grunge or The Seattle Sound.  After all, the Kingsmen were from Portland Oregon.  The F.B.I. spent more time and money investigating the song  than they did investigating John Lennon.       J. Edgar Hoover finally decided that the lyrics were indecipherable.  Ain’t Rock’n’Roll Grand!  There are so many fascinating stories in this book that I can’t share them.  Suffice to say the book is worth the time you will invest in reading it.  I strongly recommend it.  As for me?  “…we gotta go now!”

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Guns and Roses??? Really, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?

Gund - n -Roses Inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Guns-n-Roses? Really?

The 2012 inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame were announced recently.

The concert and induction ceremony is scheduled for April 5 -14th in Cleveland, Ohio.

 

The Red Hot Chili Peppers

 

The inductee’s included The Red Hot Chili Peppers,

 

 

 

 

 

The Faces/The Small Faces,

The Small Faces/The Faces

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and the great Freddie King.

Freddie King

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There were several other worthy inductees as well that I am choosing not to mention at this time.  The criteria the Hall of Fame uses is very broad and subjective.  Basically, they can induct who ever they want to.  He is the verbatim quote from the Hall of Fame’s own site:

To be eligible for induction as an artist (as a performer, composer, or musician) into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the artist must have released a record, in the generally accepted sense of that phrase, at least 25 years prior to the year of induction; and have demonstrated unquestionable musical excellence.  We shall consider factors such as an artist’s musical influence on other artists, length and depth of career and the body of work, innovation and superiority in style and technique, but musical excellence shall be the essential qualification of induction.

So here’s my opinion.  Guns-n-Roses is not worthy of the Hall of Fame.  They formed in 1987 and broke up in 1994.  Their lead guitar player, Slash,  has reformed the band with new members including a new lead singer.  They put out 2 really good recordings; Appetite for Destruction, and Use Your Illusions I & II.  The Hall praised them as “The Rolling Stones of their time…”  You have got to be kidding me!  I saw GNR twice.  The first time I saw them the opened for Arrowsmith.  They were awesome and I really enjoyed their show.  The second time I saw them was in Texas Stadium at an all day Rock Concert.  The headliner was INXS.  GNR went on right before INXS.  They made it through about three songs.  Axle Rose, their lead singer, started kicking INXS’s equipment off the stage.  He went on rant about the fact that they should have been the headliner of the concert.  The Irving Police Department had enough of his appetite for destruction, and profanity.  Axle had to stop using his illusion and ended up in the Irving jail charged with public lewdness and destruction of property.  This alone is enough to block them from the Hall of Fame.  It’s okay if a musician doesn’t like another musicians music, but it’s not okay for them to disrespect another musician.  The Hall is about honoring musicians.  I believe that in order for you to be honored, you should have to be honorable.  GNR’s  brevity of career, lack of a significant body of work, and their attitude toward other musicians make them a poor choice for the Hall of Fame.  Shame on the voters and shame on the Hall of Fame.  Congratulations to all the other inductees.  They are all worthy candidates.

It’s my opinion.  I could be wrong.  What do you think?

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The Great Doyle Bramhall died in his sleep. November 12, 2011. Life itself is something we should all be thankful for…

The Great Doyle Bramhall

Doyle Bramhall. Song writer, musician.

The Great Doyle Bramhall died in his sleep at his home in Alpine, Texas at the young age of 62.  Age 62 sounds younger to me every year I’m lucky enough to get older.  I wanted to write about him because it is a shame that a lot of people who read this will say “Who was Doyle Bramhall?”  This guy was a great blues musician.  He grew up with Jimmy and Stevie Ray Vaughn.  He was a drummer in several early bands that Jimmy played  in like The Chessmen and The Nightcrawlers.  Both the Vaughn brothers were in the Nightcrawlers.  During this time period Doyle wrote the song “Dirty Pool” that appeared on Stevie Ray Vaughn’s first album “Texas Flood”.  He was one of the movers and shakers behind the early Austin music scene.  He was a musician’s musician.  Other songs he wrote or co-wrote include:  Life by the Drop, I’d Rather be Blind, Crippled and Crazy, Marry You,  I Wanna Be.  There are many more songs you would recognize but didn’t know that Doyle wrote them. Don’t confuse Doyle, Sr. with his son, Doyle Bramhall II, who is also a great musician.  Doyle II plays guitar for The Arc Angels.  He has play guitar on many famous albums for people like Gregg Allman and Eric Clapton.   Here are just a few songs of Doyle Sr.’s  that I enjoy.  I hope you enjoy them too.  It reminds me this Thanksgiving weekend that every day is a gift.  God bless Doyle Bramhall and God bless his family and friends.  And by the way, God bless all of you too.  Happy Thanksgiving.


I’d Rather Be Blind (Crippled and Crazy)

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This song is written and performed by Doyle Bramhall, Sr.

Changes

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This song was written by another famous drummer who also sings: Buddy Miles. For the Jimi Hendrix fans out there this song may sound familar. It appeared on Jimi Hendrix’s live album “Band of Gypsys”.

It Ain’t No Use

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There’s not a blues man alive that wouldn’t have wanted to have written this song!

Dirty Pool

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This is pure Texas blues. This song appeared on Stevie Ray Vaughn’s first album “Texas Flood”. A song like this could only be written by someone who had hung out in every “Kinfe and Gun club” in Texas.

Scratch and Sniff

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An instant Rockabilly Classic. I dare you to sit still while you listen to this… See? I told you so…

The House is Rockin”

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This has always been one of my favorite SRV songs. Once again, any song writter would be proud to have written this little ditty. Am I right? This is one of Doyle’s best known songs. The problem is no one knows he wrote it!
Life by the Drop

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Last but not least the powerful song, “Life by the Drop”. This song is written by Doyle and performed by Stevie. They are both gone now and it makes the lyrics even more poignant. Here are the lyrics in their entirety as Doyle pens a song that seems to be about the two of them and their lives:

“Hello there, my old friend

Not so long ago, It was ’til the end.

We played outside in the pouring rain.

On our way up the road we stated over again.

You’re livin’ a dream as thought you’re on top.

My mind is achin’ and Lord it won’t stop.

That’s how it’s happened livin’ life by the drop.

Up and down that road in our worn out shoes,

Talikin’ bout good thangs and singin’ the blues.

You went your way and I stayed behind.

We both knew it was just a matter of time.

Livin’ a dream as though you’re on top.

My mind is achin’ and Lord it won’t stop.

That’s how it happens livin’ life by the drop.

No waste of time.  We’re alive today.

Turnin’ up the past, there’s no easier way.

Time’s been between us, a means to an end.

God it’s good to be here, Walkin’ together my Friend.

Livin’ our dream, my mind stopped achin’…

That’s how it happened, livin’ life by the drop.

Well, the two old friends are together again.  The music world here on earth just got a little poorer and the band in heaven just picked up a hell of a drummer and song writer…

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Posted in Blues Music, Life Events, Rock Music | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Did Led Zeppelin Rip Off Spirit???? The Story of Spirit Continued…

 

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So my Spirit posting last week brought out some great comments from my faithful readers.  First my brother brought up the story that Jimmy Page and Led Zeppelin ripped off the guitar intro to “Stairway to Heaven” from Spirits song “Taurus”.  I had left this story out because I could not find the song and hear it myself.  My brother sent me the song by Dropbox so I’ll share it with you now and let you decide for yourself.

Taurus

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So what do you think? Pretty obvious isn’t it?

Next I received a comment from a reader who goes by the name realgreecer.  He is circulating an on-line petition to get Spirit inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  I think this is long over due so I signed the petition immediately and I am posting the link to the petition below.  Please sign it and tell others you know to do so as well.  Let’s get this terrible oversight corrected as soon as possible.

http://www.petitiononline.com/12dreams/petition.html

Wouldn’t be funny to have Neil Young be the inductor for Spirit.  He and Randy California used to be friends.  There is a famous story about one of the reunion tours of Spirit where Neil Young tried to walk out on stage to sing “Like a Rolling Stone” with the band.  The keyboard player John Locke had invited Neil to join the band for the encore but Randy didn’t know anything about it.  Randy felt Neil was trying to upstage him on his comeback tour so he punched out Neil Young and pushed him off the stage!  John Locke got so angry about it that he stood up and announced that he was leaving the band and walked off stage.  That ended the 1975 come back tour of Spirit.  Last is the synthesizer that Randy California introduced to Jimmy Page called the Theremin.  Several readers weren’t sure what I was talking about so I am posting a photo of a Theremin below.


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Thanks for all the great comments and keep ’em comin’!

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Posted in Life Events, Vinyl | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

George Harrison Documentary is must see Television…

George Harrison

Martin Scorsese has struck again.  First he made the documentary “The Last Waltz”:  a film about the final concert of The Band.  Then he makes a documentary about the early career of Bob Dylan called “No Direction Home”.  Now he gives us this amazing documentary called:  “George Harrison – Living in the Material World”.

The documentary aired last week on HBO.   The documentary is in two parts and is a total of about 4 hours long.  Scorsese was given exclusive access to George Harrison’s private archives by his widow Olivia Harrison.  Much of the material has never been seen before.  

Part one starts with his childhood and ends with the making of “The White Album”.  Some of the highlights of part one were the discussion with Paul McCartney about how George auditioned for John Lennon in the dead of night on the top deck of a Liverpool double-decker bus.  There are a lot of very interesting storys, pictures, and video about their early years in Germany provided by their long time friend Klaus Voorman.  The best moment of part 1 is right at the end when they interview Eric Clapton about playing on the song “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”.  Eric tells how George insisted that he play on the cut.  Eric says that the song is about the slow disintegration of the Beatles from George’s perspective: “I look at you all, see the love there that’s sleeping; while my guitar gently weeps.”  That was a wow moment for me.  I  had never heard that before.  Now it seems so obvious.

Part 2 covers the break up of the Beatles and continues the story of George’s exploration of eastern religious thought.  Highlights include interviews with Phil Spector, Ringo Starr and his last wife Olivia Harrison, as well as his son Dhani.  There is a riveting conversation with Olivia about the night a nut broke into the Harrison home and attacked and stabbed George.  Also, her description of  the moment of his death.

This documentary is well worth the time invested to watch it.  You can catch the reruns on HBO or it is available on demand at HBO GO.com.

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Posted in Life Events, TV Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Day 3 at ACL – All Good Things Must Come to an End…

The Head and the Heart performing at ACL 2011

Day three started with breakfast at a great local restaurant in east Austin called “Cisco’s”.  While we were having breakfast one of the bands that we saw perform on Friday came in for breakfast too.  The band was called “Wild Beast”.  They were very nice.  We just told them how much we enjoyed there show and then left them alone.  I’m sure they enjoyed their authentic Tex-Mex breakfast as much as we did.

We got to the concert a little earlier than I thought we would and caught about half the set of another English group called Graffiti 6.  We had not planed to see this group but they were very good.  They sounded kind of Jamiroquai like.  The vocals had a soul edged rock sound to them.  They are about to release their first American single.  They played the song and I liked it.  It sounded kind of like The Spencer Davis Group.

Next up was The Head and the Heart.  There was a lot of pre-show buzz about this band.  They had played South by Southwest earlier in the year, but the venue was really small and very few people got to see them.  A large crowd had assembled to see them this time.  I was very excited about hearing them.  The Head and the Heart are a very Americana sounding band from Seattle Washington.  Their self titled debut album was released by Sub Pop Records.  Band has three main singers who traded off taking the lead vocal on various songs.  Their set started slowly and built to a powerful conclusion.  I really enjoyed this band and highly recommend them.  If you’d like to hear what they sound like live and you have iTunes, you can download a live performance from NPR’s “All Songs Considered”.  Some of the highlights were “Rivers and Roads” and “Lost in my Mind”.  This band has great chemistry with the audience.  The only note I wrote about this performance was “WOW!!”

Back at the main stage we saw a band with the very interesting name of Airborne Toxic Event.  They sounded like a cross between The Clash and Bright Eyes.  The lead singer looked like a tatted up hood but when he spoke to the crowd he was a very kind and thoughtful person.   He dedicated a cover of a song by The Magnetic Fields to his recently deceased Grandparents.  He dedicated another song to our soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq.  He also did a very cool cover of the Bruce Springsteen song “Fire”.  Immediately after I made a comment to my friend that they sounded kind of like The Clash they covered “Rockin’ The Kazbar”.  They closed their show with a rousing version of “I Fought the Law and the Law Won”. This band had played ACL before and a large and enthusiastic crowd tuned up to see them.

During the intermission I went to get some food and beer.  Every day I at these Grilled Steak Kebabs from Tim Love’s Lonesome Dove Cafe.  The food at ACL is very, very good.   Especially Tim Love’s food.  Here’s a picture of his sign above their booth.

The Sign above Tim Love's Lonesome Dove Cafe Booth at ACL

The next band I saw was Broken Social Scene.  This band hails from Canada.  They are great practitioners of Phil Spectors “Wall of Sound”.  There were at least 9 people in the band.  There music soars.  They use a lot of distortion.  They were not afraid to make a lot of noise.  Neil Young would have loved their set.  Late in their set they did a very cool cover of a Modest Mouse song.  I would highly recommend this group.

The sun was beginning to set when Fleet Foxes took the stage.  I have heard of this band for some time and I was very interested in seeing them live.  This set was one of the highlights of the entire 3 day event.  This is a very serious band with highly sophisticated music and harmony. They had as good of harmonies as Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young or The Eagles.  They were every bit as good of musicians too.  What an amazing band!  I loved them.

So that brings me to the end of the show.  The last band standing.  Sunday night September 18, 2011 Arcade Fire burned the house down!  They put on a fantastic show.  They light show was blinding at times.  They are also great practitioners of “The Wall of Sound” .  They remind me of Talking Heads at the end of their career when they did Stop Making Sense.  The lead singer sounds and even has some of the mannerisms of David Bryne.  The woman in Arcade fire that plays all of the different instruments and sings lead vocal on certain  songs, kind of stole the show.  She also got to sing lead on the very last song.  The whole crowd dispersed singing her catchy song.

So there you have it.  Three days of fun and music.  What’s the bottom line?  Well, I thought ACL was extremely well run.  I thought the variety and the quality of the music that was presented was fantastic.  They really have this thing down now in their 10th year.  I highly recommend going.  Register on line and get on the email list.  Next years early bird ticket are already on sale.  The line up has not yet been announced but it doesn’t matter.  I can assure you that it will be well worth the $185.00 ticket price.  I have paid more money to see just  one band.  For the same price I got to see 19 bands. I think they are moving the event to October 14-16 2012.  This is great because it will be much cooler weather than it was this year.   It was an experience I will remember for a long, long time.  So, I say buy a ticket and maybe I’ll see you there next year…

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Posted in Life Events, Live Performance Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment