Monday, December 28, 2015

My Top Ten Albums of 2015

At this point, I'm sure everyone has been inundated with top whatever lists for any and everything. Mine is about...music. Imagine that. My list is different than any other list you've read. That doesn't make it better (or worse), right or wrong, just different.

Music is subjective and personal. To me there are only two types of music: music I like and music I don't. And just because I don't like it, doesn't mean it's not good, just not to my taste. Conversely, just because I like it doesn't necessarily mean it's good. I'll be the first to admit that I like a lot of crap.

If you've read this blog before, thank you, and you know that I'm not genre-specific. That would make things so much easier. You also know that I am mainstream-phobic, so there are not going to be any mega hits on my list.

This is by no means a "Best of" list. It is not a comprehensive list. I'm sure there are several albums that were released in 2015 that would make my list had I heard them. These are the albums that I have listened to numerous times. Albums I would and have listened to again and again. Music that has resonated with me. Music that I will be listening to in 2016 and beyond.

I listen to albums, not songs. I'm not immune to making playlists of songs, but I'm happier when I can put on an album and listen from start to finish without having to skip songs. That's what my list is about.

Here is my top ten with my favorite song from the album (where available, where not, just a song from the album). Links in artist's names are to my posts explaining my picks. Other links are obvious.

10) Brandy Zdan - Brandy Zdan



Website    Twitter      Amazon


9) Delta Rae - After It All



Website     Twitter     Amazon



8) Chaser Eight - Chaser Eight



Website     Twitter     Amazon



7) William Clark Green - Ringling Road



Website   Twitter   Amazon



6) Houndmouth - Little Neon Limelight



Website    Twitter    Amazon 



5) Halestorm - Into The Wildlife



Website   Twitter   Amazon



4) Elle King - Love Stuff



Website   Twitter    Amazon



3) Chris Stapleton - Traveller



Website   Twitter    Amazon



2) Blackberry Smoke - Holding All The Roses



Website  Twitter    Amazon



1) Black Star Riders - The Killer Instinct



Website   Twitter   Amazon

Hope something there resonates with you. If not, oh well, it's my list. Here's to a fantastic 2016.


Sunday, December 27, 2015

Number One Album of the Year

I will post a full top 10 list at the end. In the meantime, I am going to explore each record in my top 10 and why I selected them. Again, this is not a "Best of". It is the albums that I've heard and resonated with me personally. There is some really good stuff out there that doesn't make my list because, well, it's my list. There's a lot of stuff I haven't even heard. Maybe you'll like some of it.


When I was listening to my list of 2015 albums, my number one surprised even me. By July I was pretty sure I had my top three. This was not one of them.

I grew up listening to classic rock and southern rock. I grew up during the popularity of hair metal/80s hard rock. The music that you grew up listening to stays with you to varying extents, no matter who you are. Though as I've gotten older and expanded my musical horizons, I still love guitar driven, melodic hard rock.

Black Star Riders grew out of the band touring as the remnants of Thin Lizzy. Out of respect for Phil Lynott and the other original members, when they decided to record new material, they chose to do it under a new name.

2015's The Killer Instinct is pure rock gold. It's what you would hope Thin Lizzy would sound like today. Classic without sounding dated.

Hope your Christmas was merry and your new year will be happy. There will be a post containing the full top ten list coming out before the new year.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Number Two Album of the Year

I will post a full top 10 list at the end. In the meantime, I am going to explore each record in my top 10 and why I selected them. Again, this is not a "Best of". It is the albums that I've heard and resonated with me personally. There is some really good stuff out there that doesn't make my list because, well, it's my list. There's a lot of stuff I haven't even heard. Maybe you'll like some of it.

There's just something about Southern Rock that I've always loved. I guess it's just comfort music to me. Real music with real songs about real things. From the myriad of 70s stuff including Skynyrd, The Allmans, Marshall Tucker, etc., to right now with bands like Whiskey Myers and Blackberry Smoke, I always like it if it's done well.

Holding All The Roses by Blackberry Smoke is done well.

I know it's not groundbreaking. It covers familiar territory. It's nowhere near the second best record released in 2015. This series has never been about a "Best of" list. It's about my favorite albums. Albums being the key word. Holding All The Roses is one you can put on and just listen, whether in your car or on your patio or on the beach. Just push play.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Number Three Album of the Year


I will post a full top 10 list at the end. In the meantime, I am going to explore each record in my top 10 and why I selected them. Again, this is not a "Best of". It is the albums that I've heard and resonated with me personally. There is some really good stuff out there that doesn't make my list because, well, it's my list. There's a lot of stuff I haven't even heard. Maybe you'll like some of it.

After Chris Stapleton's performance with Justin Timberlake on the CMA Awards show most people know
who he is now. I was on Traveller back when it came out in May.

I'm not saying this to credit myself as some kind of music discovery savant. All the credit goes to the people who write other blogs and my social media contacts who alerted me to this album.

As far as Traveller goes, it's good. While it's touted as country, and it is to some extent, it's so much more than that. It is fourteen songs and 63 minutes of good songs, good musicianship and fantastic vocals covering not only country but southern rock mixed in with some soul and blues. Also, maybe, what some would characterize as Americana.

It is music for people who like good music. If it resonates with the dumb masses, all the better.

If you want reviews, I'm sure with the use of the Google machine you can find as many as you want. All I'll say is:  listen to this album and you can thank me later.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Number Four Album of the Year

I will post a full top 10 list at the end. In the meantime, I am going to explore each record in my top 10 and why I selected them. Again, this is not a "Best of". It is the albums that I've heard and resonated with me personally. There is some really good stuff out there that doesn't make my list because, well, it's my list. There's a lot of stuff I haven't even heard. Maybe you'll like some of it.

This is a late entry on my radar and it speaks to how good it is that it made the top ten, much less coming in at number four. Elle King's Love Stuff was released back in February and although I was aware of the song "Ex's and Oh's" the full album didn't invade my consciousness until last month.

Songs are what make an album great. And Love Stuff is full of good songs. If it weren't, it wouldn't be on my list. But what elevates this record is King's voice. Unique. Sultry. Smokey. Sassy. And just plain good.

With equal dexterity and equal passion, she can go from full on rocker to traditional country without missing a beat. Or a note.

Elle King's Love Stuff is another album that cannot be pigeonholed into one specific category. You want a little blues in your rock, soul in you country, swamp in your Americana, she's your artist. You want electronic, metal or rap, not so much.

A popular thing is to say an artist sounds like another artist. I do that sometimes, just for context. Elle King defies that. She sounds exactly like Elle King. And that's a good thing.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Number Five Album of the Year

I will post a full top 10 list at the end. In the meantime, I am going to explore each record in my top 10 and why I selected them. Again, this is not a "Best of". It is the albums that I've heard and resonated with me personally. There is some really good stuff out there that doesn't make my list because, well, it's my list. There's a lot of stuff I haven't even heard. Maybe you'll like some of it.

I'm not a music critic. I'm a music fan. I'm a huge Halestorm fan. For me to put Into The Wild Life at number five speaks to how good music was in 2015.

Halestorm's self-titled first full length record was pretty much straight up hard rock. 2012's The Strange Case of...  was a lot more of the same, but there were glimpses of different sides to the band.

While Into The Wild Life does not disappoint if you want your hard rock, there is more nuance and diversity to everything. It seems as though all of the influences over the years come through in this record, but not in a nostalgic way, but in a new and fresh way.

With Halestorm, heavy rock will always be their base. That's who they are, unapologetically. When listening to the album, I hear Michael Jackson, country, industrial, classic rock, rhythm and blues, heavy metal and funk. And when I listen to the record again, I'll hear something else.

Here's the joy in listening to the record, the next song is not going to sound like the last. For some people that may be a turn off. For me, that's magical. I love the unexpected, especially if it's good.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Number Six Album of the Year

I will post a full top 10 list at the end. In the meantime, I am going to explore each record in my top 10 and why I selected them. Again, this is not a "Best of". It is the albums that I've heard and resonated with me personally. There is some really good stuff out there that doesn't make my list because, well, it's my list. There's a lot of stuff I haven't even heard. Maybe you'll like some of it.

Houndmouth has taken it to a new level with their 2015 release Little Neon Limelight. Each song is so well-crafted. Each song tells a story. Storytelling is a real missing element in most of today's music. This Indiana-based quartet is bringing that back.

Little Neon Limelight is a record best consumed in its entirety. With the different members of Houndmouth taking lead vocals on different songs, and sometimes within the same song, you can't get a full understanding of what they're all about unless you listen to the whole record.

What kind of music does Houndmouth play? I don't know. Americana, country-tinged roots rock, alt-folk, all of the above? Doesn't matter. It's just good music. Listen to it. Enjoy it.

Really, I can't pigeon-hole what they do, except to say that they write good songs, sing and play well, and there is not a skip-worthy song on the record. And that's really what we're all looking for, right?

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Number Seven Album of the Year


I will post a full top 10 list at the end. In the meantime, I am going to explore each record in my top 10 and why I selected them. Again, this is not a "Best of". It is the albums that I've heard and resonated with me personally. There is some really good stuff out there that doesn't make my list because, well, it's my list. There's a lot of stuff I haven't even heard. Maybe you'll like some of it.

I'm guessing that William Clark Green's Ringling Road is not going to show up on a lot of year end lists. But it showed up on mine.

My criteria is not what is innovative or iconic or groundbreaking. It's an album I can listen to without skipping songs. Basically it's road trip music. Put it on, crank it, listen to it and drive. But it's also back porch, drinking with friends music. Put it on, chill, listen to it and enjoy. Confused yet?

The offering from Texas/Red Dirt artist William Clark Green is everything one would expect from a good Texas/Red Dirt record. Country, raucous country, Southern rock. But what you also get from Ringling Road is a collection 11 very well-written songs, regardless of how you'd like to classify it.

The opening song on the record, "Next Big Thing", chronicles how hard the music industry is right now without sounding bitter.

"Creek Don't Rise" may be the most "country" sounding song on the record. And it's good. But that is followed by my favorite song on the album, the title track "Ringling Road" with its thinly veiled homage to the Grateful Dead song "Casey Jones". Or at least that's how I hear it, I have no insight, but with the lyrics:
The trapeze guys are all high on cocaine that they bought from the guy who used to drive the train.
That reminds of this from "Casey Jones":
Drivin' that train, high on cocaine, Casey Jones you better watch your speed.
"Ringling Road", the song, also is the kind of loose, greasy stuff you might hear from Texas legend Ray Wylie Hubbard.

If you like Texas/Red Dirt country, country, Southern Rock and the occasional outlier, check this out.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Number Eight Album of The Year


I will post a full top 10 list at the end. In the meantime, I am going to explore each record in my top 10 and why I selected them. Again, this is not a "Best of". It is the albums that I've heard and resonated with me personally. There is some really good stuff out there that doesn't make my list because, well, it's my list. There's a lot of stuff I haven't even heard. Maybe you'll like some of it.

It's kind of fitting that number eight on my list is Chaser Eight. See the what happened there?

Chaser Eight's self-titled debut album Chaser Eight is musical gold. (Yes, I know, it's not their first release, just their first full length record). Released in February of this year, it took me six months to find it, but that's the landscape of independently made records, it may take a while, but if you keep looking you will find the good stuff.

Here's the thing, there is not a bad song on the record. That's hard to do. There are very few albums I can put on and listen to from start to finish without skipping songs. And if you care about music, albums still matter. Songs are great, but to get the full effect of what the artist is about, albums.

To me, the best way to really know how good or bad a record is, is to listen to it by yourself driving in your car. This one passes that test with flying colors.

Full disclosure, lead vocalist, *AUDRA* agreed to a Q&A with me, which you can read here, so I may be biased. But who isn't, right. 

Seriously, I play this record at least once a week. It's that good.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Number Nine Album of the Year


I will post a full top 10 list at the end. In the meantime, I am going to explore each record in my top 10 and why I selected them. Again, this is not a "Best of". It is the albums that I've heard and resonated with me personally. There is some really good stuff out there that doesn't make my list because, well, it's my list. There's a lot of stuff I haven't even heard. Maybe you'll like some of it.

One way I can describe Delta Rae is Fleetwood Mac, 2015 version.

The very distinctive and different vocals of Brittany Hollges and Elizabeth Hopkins evokes the difference you could hear in Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks. Then you have the male vocals of either Ian or Eric Hollges to fill the Lindsey Buckingham role.

But that does not do justice to what Delta Rae is all about. They are not Fleetwood Mac wannabes. In fact my best description is to throw Fleetwood Mac and Little Big Town in a blender and throw in a bit of Jim Steinman and see what comes. That would be Delta Rae.

We all want to categorize things into neat little boxes. That's human nature. This goes here. That goes there. It makes things easy. Delta Rae does not allow you to do that.

Are they rock? Yes, sometimes.
Are they pop? Maybe, in some songs.
Are they Americana? I can make that argument.
Are they country? Who knows what country is anymore with Sam Hunt being touted as country, so, yeah, sure.

What is Delta Rae? A great American band making kickass music. And really, the last part is all that matters.

My qualifications for a good album is one that I can push play and not want to skip any songs. After It All stands up to that test.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Number 10 Album of the Year

I will post a full top 10 list at the end. In the meantime, I am going to fully explore each record in my top 10 and why I selected them. Again, this is not a "Best of". It is the albums that I've heard and resonated with me personally. There is some really good stuff out there that doesn't make my list because, well, it's my list. There's a lot of stuff I haven't even heard. Maybe you'll like some of it.
Brandy Zdan's self-titled "debut album" comes in at number ten. Debut album is in parentheses for a reason. It's her first full-length solo output. Zdan has put out some EP's and albums as part of other projects. So, this debut is not from a newcomer.

The best description of this album came from a tweet from my friend at Farce the Music, and I'm paraphrasing here: Brandy Zdan's new album come along and filled that space of smokey, rockin', good music.

That is exactly what it does.

As musically diverse as the album is, the one common thread is Brandy's smokey, sultry voice. It's like Grace Potter and the Nocturnals meets early Sheryl Crow with doom metal and goth undertones while sprinkling in some Americana combined with pop, country and dance with killer, yet sparse guitar work. As strange as that may sound, it all works.

The album itself also has an odd dynamic. And I'm not saying odd is not a good thing.

The first few songs are more of the rockers on the record. Then it slowly turns more melancholy, followed by the Americana/pop. Kinda. It's really not that linear.

But really, what makes a good album for me is that you can put it on and listen from start to finish without wanting to skip songs. Brandy Zdan accomplishes that in spades.


Sunday, December 6, 2015

Albums of the Year: Honorable Mention Edition

First of all, let me make it clear that these are not necessarily the best or most popular or most significant albums of 2015. These are my favorite albums that I have listened to more than once or twice. It's my list.

I'll link to the album spotlights and interviews from this blog. There won't be any commentary in this post.

The list would be shorter if I were genre specific or only listened to mainstream stuff. This is about good music that I like. And I don't listen to much of anything mainstream. I listed my favorite albums of 2015 and came up with 24. This honorable mention list will include the 14 that didn't make the top ten.

The artist's name will link to my posts, the album name will link to the artist's web site.

In no particular order:

Plastic Rhino - Recondition

Jonathan Tyler - Holy Smokes

Lindi Ortega - Faded Gloryville

Frankie Bourne - Californicana

Samantha Fish - Wild Heart

Koritni - Night Goes On For Days

Europe - War of Kings

Striking Matches - Nothing But The Silence

Allison Moorer - Down To Believing

Gretchen Peters - Blackbirds

Butch Walker - Afraid of Ghosts

Brandi Carlile - The Firewatcher's Daughter

honeyhoney - 3

Ray Wylie Hubbard - The Ruffian's Misfortune

Look for my top 10 coming out later this month.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Year End Lists

This time of year, everyone is inundated with "Best of" and "Favorite" lists for whatever: music, movies, commercials, books, fails, balls of twine, whatever. I know that you are all waiting on pins and needles to see if I will do one.

Here's the good/bad news: I will.

Of course, it will be about music, specifically albums. I'll make this caveat right now, it will only include albums I've listened to and listened to several times. And it's mostly artists that don't exist on radio. So, yeah, no Adele. These will be albums I can put on and listen to start to finish. Will there be some songs on the records that I really don't like? Sure. But not skip-worthy when in your car on a road trip.

Why do a list when I've featured most of these albums during the past year right here? Because it's important to go back and listen again to what I thought was good at the time. One of the drawbacks of always digging for new music is that you sometimes forget to listen to what you like. This is a good time to do that.

So far I've narrowed it down to 23 albums. Yeah, that's a lot, but there was a lot of good music to come out in 2015. And that's just the one's I've heard and listened to multiple times. There is much more that I never heard or only heard once.

I'm going to narrow it down to a top 10. But I plan on making two posts. One featuring the thirteen on the outside, I guess an honorable mention of sorts. And then the top ten. Right now I have nine of the ten. That last spot is hard.

It would be a lot easier if I had a focus on one genre, but I don't. The only genre I care about is called "music I like". And that entails rock, hard rock, country, Americana, blues, and some other stuff.

So for those of you that read my stuff, thank you. And yes, the overdone, obligatory lists will be coming.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Retro Album Spotlights: Billy Squier

Yes, the plural in "spotlights" is intentional. I initially was going to do only Billy Squier's breakout album Don't Say No. But then I started listening to Emotions In Motion again.

Keep this is mind, at one point Def Leppard opened for Billy Squier. For context, that was Leppard's Pyromania tour.

Billy Squier himself has said that Don't Say No is the best album he's ever made. I prefer Emotions In Motion.

Don't Say No has the four monster songs: "In The Dark", "The Stroke", "My Kinda Lover", (those three open the album) and "Lonely Is The Night". Emotions In Motion had the never-forgettable "Everybody Wants You" and the lesser known "She's A Runner."

I'm not here to tell Mr. Squier that he's wrong, just giving my personal preference.

Listen to the first three songs of Don't Say No and you're hooked. "In The Dark" is a rock masterpiece. This is where Squier excels. As a songwriter of good songs. The we get "The Stroke", which incidentally is the first Billy Squier song I ever heard. And now one of the most sampled songs ever. Then it bleeds into "My Kinda Lover". Another rock classic.

"You Know What I Like" is a good rocker, but nothing special.

"Too Daze Gone" is the most underrated song on the record. It's bluesy, it's Stonesey. It's groovy.

"Lonely Is The Night" is the other big song.

"Whadda You Want From Me" is very Zeppleninesque with some Van Halen thrown in.

"Nobody Knows" is the clunker on Don't Say No. The falsetto is not appealing. The song itself is not good..

"I Need You" is bubblegum rock with big guitars. While not a bad song, it's nothing special.

The song 'Don't Say No" is not bad. The choice to fade into the first verse, however, was bad. The whole song seems disjointed.

Emotions In Motion starts out where Don't Say No left of with the iconic "Everybody Wants You".

Then things go off the rails a bit with the Rod Stewart inspired "Emotions In Motion" . I like things off the
rails. One of my favorite tracks on the record.

"Learn How to Live" is vintage Billy Squier in the verses and bridge, but the chorus is pedestrian.

"In Your Eyes" is a good ballad.

"Keep Me Satisfied" evokes boogie-woogie, blues inspired Aerosmith.

"It Keeps You Rockin'" is a straight up Billy Squier rocker. Nothing special, but not skip-worthy.

"One Good Woman" is one of those groovy rock songs that we all love (ok, maybe not all, but I do). Reminiscent of vintage Styx.

"She's A Runner" is what the quintessential 80's hard rock ballad aspired to be. Billy Squier wrote the book that 80's pop metal followed.

"Catch 22" is another song that you could hear Rod Stewart and/or the Faces recording. It's bluesy sultry rock at its best, replete with horns.

The album closes with "Listen to the Heartbeat", which is not a bad song, but it's time to restart the album at track one.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Album Spotlight: Brandy Zdan: Brandy Zdan

I really don't know what to make of Brandy Zdan's self-titled debut solo album. And that's not a bad thing.

I hear so many things going on throughout the record that I can't really pinpoint what it is. And again, that's not a bad thing.

The Canadian born, Nashville residing Zdan is no newcomer to the scene. She was a part of the gothic-folk duo Twilight Hotel before spending time in the Texas-based Americana band The Trishas.

Brandy Zdan the record is an amalgam of many things, including Americana, folk, rock, country, pop and more. Which I'm guessing is all Brandy Zdan the artist.

Zdan's smokey, sultry vocals are the common thread among the diverse musical ventures on this album.

All this just to say, it's good.

Here is "More of a Man". Enjoy.


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Q and A with Plastic Rhino


The Los Angeles-based duo Plastic Rhino recently released their third album Recondition. You can read on their website what they think. Here's my take: very good hard rock album. Sure, you can try to break it down and do all the sub-genre stuff, but what it all boils down to is that it's hard rock done well.

For all the doomsayers saying "rock is dead", artists like Plastic Rhino are proving that it is not. You can read my Album Spotlight here.

Vocalist Atara Gottschalk and guitarist Jack Glazer were kind enough to to grant me a Q and A. The results follow.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Q and A With California Singer/Songwriter Frankie Bourne

I'm a few months behind on finding Frankie Bourne's debut album Californicana. That means I'm a few months behind in getting to listen to it. Better late than never.

I had the opportunity to conduct a Q and A with Frankie recently. His answers to my questions were so thoughtful and thorough, I don't know how much I can add. But I'll try.

Frankie is California through and through, so you'll find out below, but it's not the glamour and glitz Hollywood and L.A. California. It's the 70's laid back California rock. It's the Bakersfield sound influences. It's the 60's and 70's Bay Area scene. But then there is so much more.

There is a strong blues influence. And not that it's an influence, but the music of Frankie Bourne would be appreciated by anyone who is a fan of Texas/Red Dirt music. I guess that's where I felt most connected. It's real music, played by a real singer/songwriter with real instruments for real people.

We delved into genres a bit in the interview. Regular readers know how I feel about that. There are so many different influences represented in the songs, Frankie Bourne cannot be contained by one genre. And that, to me, is a good thing.

I've already written too much. Frankie says it much better than I can. He's lived it.

Here are the results of the Q and A:

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Album Spotlight: Plastic Rhino: Recondition

I was provided the opportunity to get a pre-realease listen to Plastic Rhino's upcoming record Recondition. The album reinforces my notion that rock is definitely not dead.

The duo of lead vocalist Atara Gottschalk and guitarist Jack Glazer bring their own brand of multi-decade influenced rock to life on Recondition.

Great riffs, strong vocals, heavy with a sense of melody. What's not to like? Oh, and I didn't even mention the pop sensibilities and punk tendencies.

The lead single,  "Big Man Baby", is a straight up rocker. If this is the first time you've heard Atara's raspy, passionate vocal stylings, you're in for a treat. From there. no drop off in quality. Tasty guitar, kick ass vocals, great songs.

The album closer, "The Ballad Of The Rhino" shows a softer side of Plastic Rhino, up until 3:50 mark when it turns into a full blown rocker. That kind of diversity is much appreciated. To me, the record compares very favorably to Halestorm and Chaser Eight. That's not bad company.

The record drops October 13. It's good. Check it out.

In the meantime here's the lyric video for the lead track on Recondition , "Big Man Baby":

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Jessica Mendoza: Baseball Analyst

The title says it all. Jessica Mendoza. Baseball analyst. At least it should.

There was a big deal made of Mendoza being the first female analyst on ESPN's national baseball broadcast. And it was a big deal. And it wasn't.

You know why it wasn't? Because it sounded just like a baseball broadcast. And that is the best compliment I can provide.  It wasn't schtick. It wasn't a novelty. It was just providing a competent analyst an opportunity.

Did Mendoza ever play Major League Baseballl?  Nope. And neither did you.

Maybe as fan of tennis I'm used to a female voice. Mary Carillo is one the best in the business. Chris McKendry. Martina, Chrissie, Hannah Storm, Mary Jo Fernandez, etc. Nobody questions them calling men's matches. Nor should they,

So why is it a big deal that Jessica Mendoza is calling MLB? Because it's never been done before. Here's hoping to that it's never a big deal again.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Q and A with Peter Anthony of Polaris Rose

Polaris Rose is a Los Angeles-based duo that makes good music. I tried to pin down guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Peter Anthony on what genre they are. For those that read regularly, you know I don't care for genres. Peter's answer was perfect. He didn't know either.

Polaris Rose is the aforementioned Peter Anthony along with vocalist/bassist Madelynn (Maddie) Elyse, and most-of-the-time drummer Kiel Feher.

Peter was kind enough to participate in a Q and A for The Cheap Seats.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Open Letter to Independent Artists

I love music. I used to play in a band. It didn't work out. That's OK. I'm not bitter.

I hate music. Or at least what is played on the radio. That's why I dig for music and have this blog. I'm pretty much done with mainstream, any genre.

I have had the privilege in the past couple of months to be given an audience with several independent artists from a variety of genres. The way I see it, we're all in this together, the artists, the goofballs like me that support them, and the writers who have devoted much time, effort and their own money to create killer sites.

"Sea Change". That's a pretty cool term. But have you ever been to the ocean? The sea does not change, in the words of Stevie Nicks. Or if it does, it takes a hell of lot more than me, or you by yourself.

Right now, I have an eyedropper and a bucket in the Gulf of Mexico. I may affect a few people, but that does not a sea change make.

I'm fairly new to this. But I know there is community out there. I also know it's fragmented and disjointed. Why would the Dead Deads from Nashville care about Jenni Dale Lord from Lubbock care about Chaser Eight from Connecticut care about Kate Lynne Logan from Seattle care about Kate Vargas from New York? Because you're all in the same boat.

I get it. I've been there. It's all about local and regional. You have to nurture that in order to pay the bills (along with your other jobs, because I know you have them).

Why would I care about a site dedicated to saving country music or bringing back glam or promoting stoner rock or underground techno artists? Because those people share my love of music. I don't have to be a fan of that type of music.

I've heard enough independent artists and read enough blogs/sites to know that there are lot of people who take ownership in good music.

I've really only reached out to artists, selfishly, to further my blog along. Now I've come to the point where the sum is greater than the parts and I need your help. Who are the people that you trust who support independent artists? Who are some artists that would be willing to do  a Q & A? I'm open to all genres.

Leave comments here or some of you have my contact information.

Thanks for your time,
Michael


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Album Review: Chaser Eight: Chaser Eight

Photo: Phil Hovey of Find Your Lights
Edits: Alberto Torres
For my regular readers, you know I don't really do reviews, but when I do, I break it down song by song. It has to be something special.

This one is special.

Chaser Eight's self-titled debut album Chaser Eight is musical gold. (Yes, I know, it's not their first release, just their first full length record). Released in February of this year, it took me six months to find it, but that's the landscape of independently made records, it may take a while, but if you keep looking you will find the good stuff.

Here's the thing, there is not a bad song on the record. That's hard to do. There are very few albums I can put on and listen to from start to finish without skipping songs. And if you care about music, albums still matter. Songs are great, but to get the full effect of what the artist is about, albums.

To me, the best way to really know how good or bad a record is, is to listen to it by yourself driving in your car. This one passes that test with flying colors.

There is an interesting dynamic within Chaser Eight. Lead vocalist/frontwoman/guitarist *AUDRA* and lead guitarist Pat Walsh write all of the songs independently of each other. But they may be the best male/female songwriting duo this side of Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo. Or Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Album Spotlight: Jonathan Tyler: Holy Smokes

This record has been out for a couple of weeks. I have been remiss in not spotlighting it up until now.

Holy Smokes, Jonathan Tyler's latest offering, is Southern Rock, the Stones, the Black Crowes, the Doobie Brothers, The Band, Butch Walker, Ryan Adams, country, alternative, rock, etc.

But it's none of that. It's all Jonathan Tyler. Or maybe it's all of that, which is Jonathan Tyler.

Judge for yourself. Here is "Hallelujah".



And now, "Riverbottom".

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Q and A with *AUDRA* of Chaser Eight

Photo: Phil Hovey of Find Your Lights
Edits: Alberto Torres
Chaser Eight is a rock band. But the Connecticut quintet is so much more than that. With the release of their eponymously titled first full length record, Chaser Eight runs a quite impressive gamut of styles, moods, textures and emotions.

The album Chaser Eight will take you on a musical journey with many twists and turns, ups and downs but all with the common thread of good musicians making good songs.

Chaser Eight is made up of frontwoman/lead vocalist/guitarist *AUDRA*, lead guitarist Pat Walsh, bassist Billy Wang, keyboardist/guitarist Aaron Tagliamonte and drummer Pete Giannini. While *AUDRA* and Pat are the songwriters for the band, the full group is what makes it all come together and sound like Chaser Eight.

I recently had the opportunity to conduct a Q and A with *AUDRA*.

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Evolution of a Blog

I started writing this blog mostly for my own amusement. I didn't know what I was doing or where it was going. I'm a sports fan and a music lover. It was never going anywhere very heady.

I started out doing mostly sports with a little music. Then it moved to more music with less sports to where it is now and almost exclusively music although I can't help myself but slip some sports in there from time to time.

When I slowly transitioned from sports to music, I still didn't know what I was doing. I didn't want to spend any time or energy criticizing stuff that sucks, I wanted to feature stuff I liked. That led me further and further away from anything mainstream.

I never really did reviews, but more like spotlights. If I wrote about it, it was something I liked. I've neglected that part a bit lately. Not because I don't want to, or have become lackadaisical. It's that I've found a better way to use this forum.

On a whim, I reached out to a couple of independent, unsigned artists going the do-it-yourself path to do Q&A's. The worst thing that could happen is they said no or did not respond. And that has happened. But some have said yes.

When the first artist agreed to do it, I did not take it lightly. They were giving up their time for me. It's always about the music that gets me, but there are also stories to be told. I dig into the websites and blogs. I try to ask interesting questions that will illicit interesting answers.

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Daisy Dead and Meta Dead of the Dead Deads for getting this thing started. They didn't have to do this. I made some mistakes on that first one. I've since been better, in large part because of their invaluable feedback.

I would also like to publicly thank the other artists who have given me this opportunity: Kate Vargas, Jenni Dale Lord, Kate Lynne Logan and Jessica Meuse. And another one in the can that hasn't been published. You know who you are.

Hopefully this will continue. In the mean time: Listen to albums, not songs. Support live music. Pay for your music.


Thursday, August 13, 2015

Album Spotlight: Lindi Ortega - Faded Gloryville

Lindi Ortega's latest album Faded Gloryville is good. Just Google "Lindi Ortega Faded Gloryville Album Review" and you can read all the words you want on how good.

I'm just going to leave you with a couple of my favorite songs from the record.





Sunday, August 9, 2015

Q and A With Singer/Songwriter Jessica Meuse

If you're a fan of the reality TV music shows like American Idol and The Voice, you probably know the name Jessica Meuse. She was on season 13 of American Idol and finished fourth. That's not important. What is important is that she is making new music that's good.

She made it onto the show by playing an original song, "Blue Eyed Lie". The singer/songwriter will make it in the music business, or not, based on her original material. That's a good thing.

I stayed away from the show in the interview purposefully. It's all about the music now. I did offer her the opportunity to comment on the show. I think it's telling that that is only question she did not answer.

Be advised, there are a lot of exclamation points in the Q and A that follows.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Q and A With Singer/Songwriter Kate Lynne Logan

Photo By George Bentley
I recently had the opportunity to conduct a long distance interview with singer/songwriter Kate Lynne Logan. The tagline under her name on her website is "Americana In The Emerald City". She says about Americana "it means a ‘modernized version of Old Country.’ I think it means the contemporary version of artists like Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton. I would love nothing more than to be compared to such artists."

Kate grew up among the wheat fields of western Washington. She now resides in the emerald city of Seattle and has released five studio projects including her most recent full length album, 2014's Animal Dreams.

She is currently finishing up another project which includes the song "Roosey Roads" which Kate says is "the true (love) story of how/when my parents met in the 1980's. We all think the perfect love story doesn't exist, but my parents will celebrate 33 years this October. That kind of love happens in real life."

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Q and A with Jenni Dale Lord

Photo by Victor Mosqueda
If you read my blog regularly, you know I dig for good music because I'm not going to hear it on the radio.

Then, sometimes, while on vacation, I randomly stumble onto something great.

The latter is how I found the Jenni Dale Lord Band. A working band. A full bar set. With lots of covers. But the originals were what drew me in.

Jenni Dale Lord was gracious enough to do a Q and A session with me. Here are the results.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Album Spotlight: Samantha Fish: Wild Heart

Singer/guitarist/blueswoman Samantha Fish has released her third record Wild Heart. It's been a little over a year since I first heard her previous album Black Wind Howlin', which I wrote about here.

Wild Heart is an evolution in the best sense of the word. This record has more texture, color, depth and breadth than Black Wind Howlin'. And that's not a knock on Black Wind Howlin', because it is fantastic. Wild Heart is everything you want in a record. You don't want the current song to end, but can't wait to hear the next one.

There is some Southern Rock style blues rockers, some blues, some country, some Americana. It's all there.

Here are couple of live versions of songs from the new record.

"Go Home"



"Bitch on the Run"

Monday, July 13, 2015

Q and A With Singer/Songwriter Kate Vargas

Photo by Brett Lindell
My first introduction to Kate Vargas was through the independent alternative to SXSW known as Couch by Couchwest.

Initially, I was enamored with her voice, but after digging into her music, there is a depth and maturity to her songs that belie her years.

Kate's 2014 album Down To My Soul will take you on a musical journey.

I had the opportunity to conduct a Q&A with Kate recently. Here are the results.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

We All Come From Somewhere

The title of this post I stole from Scott Van Pelt who says this in relation to rooting interests among people who are supposed to report impartially. Here, I'm going to extrapolate on the statement that "We all come from somewhere."

Nobody woke up today and found themselves transported into some alternate reality. Everybody woke up today exactly where their past brought them. Does my blog feature artists as diverse as Chris Stapleton, Halestorm, Houndmouth, the Dead Deads, Koritni and Kate Vargas because I want to be cool? No, it's because that's where this journey led me. It's because of from where I came. Growing up I listened to George Strait and AC/DC, Garth Brooks and Guns 'N Roses.

Sometimes where you came from was great and you managed to somehow screw it all up. But that's okay, because where you are now will eventually be part of where you came from.

Sometimes where you came from was horrible and you clawed your way out and made a better life for yourself. Congratulations. Keep it up or this could eventually be a part of where you came from.

Some choose to hide where they came from. That's their choice. And I can't  disagree with that choice. Sometimes it's painful, maybe even shameful.

I did some stupid things in my younger years. Thankfully there was no social media to record it. You would gain nothing from my youthful indiscretions.

Then there are times when telling others where you came from makes a difference.

"I’m still scared, and I’m still ashamed. But I am raising my hand now."

That's a quote from Daisy Dead of the band the Dead Deads. It comes from the band's Tumblr. It has to do with domestic violence. In reading it, it's obvious it was not easy to write.

That's where she came from. That can't be changed. But by her speaking out publicly, maybe that inspires someone else to change their future. We can't change where we come from, but we can affect where we're going.

With permission, the full post will follow. For more from the Dead Deads:
Website
Tumblr
Facebook
Twitter
Daisy Dead

I Didn't Raise My Hand
An organization based in Nashville, AWAKE, held a victory party last week to celebrate a couple of targeted legislative wins. One was centered around softening the laws on prostitutes with AIDS being put on sex offender registries along with pedophiles and rapists. The other was related to choking laws in TN, making it easier to prosecute that under domestic violence. The event was held at Thistle Farm/Cafe, which is another wonderful organization that is the fundraising arm of the Magdalene Foundation. Magdalene is focused on helping women find their way out of prostitution, giving them the help and training they need to live a new life.
Good stuff all around. So when Sara Beth Myers was recapping the laws at the event, at one point she asked a show of hands of who has experienced domestic violence. A couple other ladies raised their hands, but I didn’t raise mine.
As soon as the moment passed, I felt ashamed for not showing solidarity with the couple of women in the room that did have the balls to raise their hands. It has been eating at me ever since.
I am still afraid to talk about it. I am so ashamed for “letting that happen to me.” I’m welling up with tears right now just writing this. Keeping this shit a secret is part of what perpetuates domestic violence in the first place. I am a strong, kind, beautiful, intelligent woman - how could this happen to ME? Why did I LET it happen and let it go on?
It sneaks up on you. The first time is a surprise and assumed to be an isolated incident, likely explained by the especially heavy drinking that day. Then another time, and another. You start to understand you should leave. But at the point where you are angry and most mobilized to do something about it, is typically the time when the abusing party is the scariest, so you don’t take measures then. Or you are simply not prepared to leave with just the shirt on your back. Soon, they are apologizing, asking for forgiveness, themselves crying and recounting their own victimization at the hands of others. They soften, so you relax, and with time, forgive and nearly forget. They probably need your help to heal and be a better partner. And look, they aren’t all bad. They are witty, charming, generous, sweethearts. Everyone loves them. Maybe it won’t happen again, especially if I don’t do that thing again that pissed them off or talk to that person (or any person at all outside of work).
There was one especially bad incident where he was actually arrested, and with my window of time with him out of the house, I literally packed a suitcase and called a local domestic violence number to figure out where to go (still ashamed to tell friends/family/coworkers). With the limited resources they had, they only accepted families there. But the lady on the other end talked me out of even leaving. I don’t remember how, but it was something along the lines of that my situation wasn’t that bad compared to what a lot of the other people go through. True, it could have been much worse. I wasn’t in black eyes “falling down” territory, although that was being believably threatened, which was enough to keep me pinned.
I went years before telling anyone, and then at that point did an entire life change, move, left job, started over. It was so scary. My support network at that point was pretty anemic since I cut myself off from everyone to prevent “incidents,” but it was enough.
I’m still scared, and I’m still ashamed. But I am raising my hand now. I have been a victim of domestic violence. Those experiencing it feel like they are alone, and it is so hard to find your way out. Every situation is different, so I don’t have specific advice for those going through this right now. But know that this happens to other strong, smart, successful women, too, and that you can find your freedom. Do it ASAP.
Some links to the organizations I mentioned above and a couple resources for those going through this hardship:
–Daisy
PS, My life is heaven on earth right now, with the love of my life, amazing friends, family, job, NASHVILLE, my health, and my incredible adventure with THE DEAD DEADS! Thank you for reading this.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

New Video: The Dead Deads: Lemonade

So, ask a question about what The Dead Deads superpowers would be and get a response in the form of a new video. In less than a week, that was impressive. Thanks ladies.

In all seriousness, the video was already in the can, just waiting for the release.

The new video for "Lemonade" from the album Rainbeau, directed by Seth Graves, is genius. It tells a story, that may or may not be related entirely to the song itself.

As far as the song is concerned, it's The Dead Deads at their "space grunge metal punk" best.

I won't tell you what you should take from this, just watch it.


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

New Music Found: Crystal Shawanda

Crystal Shawanda grew up in Ontario, Canada on a reservation. You can read her bio on her official webpage. What I want to focus on is her music and incredible voice.

Her 2014 album The Whole World's Got The Blues saw her turn away from the country music of her first record, and she truly found her place. Her voice, to me, sounds like a cross between Tanya Tucker and Bonnie Raitt with a touch of Aretha for power.

The  soul-inspired, country-tinged blues rock music is the perfect bed for her vocals to lie.

Here's a live version of the song "The Whole World's Got The Blues". Enjoy.


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Q and A with Meta Dead of the Dead Deads

Photo by Gina Binkley
The Dead Deads are an all female "Space-grunge, metal-punk" band (according to their official Twitter) based in Nashville. Their debut album Rainbeau is available in all the usual places (links below). I had the opportunity to conduct a question and answer with guitarist/vocalist Meta Dead. Here are the results of that interview along with a previously unreleased photo.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Trixter and BulletBoys New Releases

Trixter and Bulletboys both came out in the tail end of the 80's hard rock scene, right before Nirvana blew it all up. They both had minor hits, Trixter with "Give It To Me Good" and BulletBoys with "Smooth Up In Ya".

Then, like any band that rose to prominence on the hard rock scene during the mid-to-late 80's/early 90's not named Bon Jovi or Motley Crue or Guns 'n Roses, were quickly forgotten.
Both bands had new records come out recently. And for the most part, nobody's going to hear them. Certainly not on radio.

Is either record a musical masterpiece that will go down in the annals of history as a great record? Nope. But if you're a fan of that era of music, it's better than a lot of stuff that came out at the end. The songs are good. The playing is excellent (guitar solos anyone?). The vocals hold up.

With so many artists of that era hanging it up, fighting amongst themselves or just giving up on releasing new music, this is worth checking out.

Here is Trixter with "Rockin' To The Edge of the Night" from their new record Human Era:




And "Rollover" from Bulletboys new record Elefante':

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Album Spotlight: Chris Hennessee: Greetings From Hennessee

If you like any combination of country, Southern Rock, blues,Texas country, gospel, Stevie Ray Vaughan, the Allmans, Alabama, Jerry Reed, the Eagles, Marshall Tucker, the Bellamy Brothers, etc., you might just find something you like in Chris Hennessee's latest record Greetings From Hennessee.

Classify it how you want. As regular readers of my blog know, I've given up. Just say it's good music.

Here is "Long Way Gone" from the new record.


Album Spotlight: Koritni: Night Goes On For Days

Koritni's latest record Night Goes On For Days could have come straight out of the 80's. And that's a good thing. This Australian band with a French guitarist sounds like they grew up on the Sunset Strip, or Indiana or Mississippi. Confused yet?

Koritni could have easily come out of the mid to late 80's LA sleaze rock scene. Or feel right at home with the Mississippi Delta blues inspired Southern Rock of the 70's. Even touches of American heartland sentiment a la John Mellencamp.

Whatever, they make it all work in a sound that I find refreshing. Mostly it's just good, fun, 80's style hard rock. If you're a fan of that era, these guys do it right.

And they self-aware of what they are doing. Enough to make fun of themselves as is evident in this track, "Rock'nRoll Ain't No Crime":


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Album Spotlight: honeyhoney: 3

Although the album title lacks originality, honeyhoney's third album, 3, does not.

I'm so lost on what genres are right now, I won't even try. Or maybe honeyhoney could be labeled as post/neo/traditional/alt/country/indie/rock/punk/Americana/pop. That about covers it. If Houndmouth, Delta Rae or Ryan Adams appeal to you, this is right up your alley.

Produced by Dave Cobb*, this is just a good record. It traverses through land staked by country and Americana, indie rock and punk, traditional and current. 3 is a record for people who love music for the sake of good music, not anyone chasing trends.

*For some reason Dave Cobb seems to have his hand in all the best music being put out right now. The dude apparently knows what he's doing.

Here is "You and I" from the record. Enjoy.


Saturday, June 13, 2015

Album Spotlight: A Thousand Horses: Southernality

I was a little leery of A Thousand Horses after hearing the two lead singles from their Southernality record. Whoever is choosing the singles for them is making a huge mistake, as "Smoke" and "(This Ain't No) Drunk Dial" may be the two worst songs on the album.

The entirety of Southernality is a lot closer to the Blackberry Smoke and Whiskey Myers brand of current Southern Rock than the bro-tinged pap of the lead singles.

The record starts out with the seriously Black Crowes influenced "First Time". Maybe a little too Black Crowes influenced, "Jealous Again" anyone? I can forgive them for that one because it's a good song and the rest of the album is not derivative.

Coming in with 13 songs, Southernality is about three songs too long. It's marketed as country, but nowadays what isn't? It's not country, it's Southern Rock. But where do you market that now?

Where A Thousand Horses goes from here will be interesting. The best thing that could happen would be for the ill chosen singles to flop so they will concentrate on the music they are good at.

Here's a live acoustic version of "Sunday Morning":

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

June 9, 2015 Was A Good Day For Music

New music drops in the United States mostly on Tuesdays (for the time being) and Tuesday, June 9, 2015 was good day for people who like good music.

I write this only because I haven't had time time to fully digest everything. There were new albums by honeyhoney, Bulletboys, Courtney Patton, Chris Hennessee, A Thousand Horses, Sam Outlaw, Mark Tremonti and Uncle Lucius. Just to name the one's I know.

There will be more in depth album spotlight posts for most of those, unless next week brings a new wave of incredible music. Then I'll just be incredibly behind.

Stay tuned. More to come.

In the meantime, enjoy some pirate metal courtesy of Alestorm, because why not?:



Monday, May 25, 2015

Hard Rock Playlist 1

This is by no means an original idea, but I thought I'd make a hard rock playlist. Not the ultimate hard rock playlist, just a hard rock playlist. That is why I called it "Hard Rock Playlist 1". This is my first and maybe last or maybe the first of many.

Spotify, for me, is the easiest way to make a playlist (and yes, I pay for premium) so I am limited to what is available on that service.

Now let me take you through the process.
  1. I wanted it to come in between and hour and an hour and half. 16 songs seems to be a pretty good number, but between 14 and 18 would have worked.
  2. I tried to make it semi-cohesive from one song to the next, like listening to an album.
  3. I wanted to hit as many decades as possible from the '70's until now (think I did that, although I'm not sure about 2000-2009).
  4. I wanted to run the gamut on the fringes of what I consider hard rock (subjective, I know).
  5. I wanted it to be something you could put on in your car and drive for an hour and not want to skip anything (again success will be subjective).
  6. I didn't want the songs to be obvious.
So here is the playlist with comments. The Spotify link is at the bottom.

1) "Overture/The Temples of Syrinx"  - Rush
I went with this because it is one of the best opening salvos of any record I know. "Overture" sets the mood and then "The Temples of Syrinx" just smashes the listener in the face.

2) "Queen of the Reich" - Queensryche
This continues the full frontal assault from Queensryche's debut EP. Most may know them from "Silent Lucidity" or the Operation:Mindcrime stuff, but before that Queensryche sounded much more like Iron Maiden.

3) "Legend of the Spaceborne Killer" - Crobot
This is the first song from a newer/current band in my attempt to dispel the myth that rock is dead. It's got a vibe that could have fit in '70's but doesn't sound dated. Just a good hard rock song.

4) "Rocket Queen" - Guns N' Roses
From Appetite For Destruction, one of the best hard rock albums ever, this is not an obvious choice. The hits have been overplayed, so I went with an album cut which is one of the best on the record.

5) "Gypsy Road" - Cinderella
Cinderella is one of the best bluesy hard rock bands to come out of the '80's and it's kind of a shame that they got lumped in with the "hair metal" moniker. While I think some of their slower blusier stuff better exemplifies them as a band, this song fits the vibe of this playlist.

6) "Wicked" - Million Dollar Reload
Hailing from Ireland, Million Dollar Reload is another current band with a new record due out in 2015. They would feel right at home among the '80's L.A. sleaze rock scene. Good song with a good hook.

7) "Apocalyptic" - Halestorm
More ammunition to dispel the rock is dead myth, this from the 2015 record Into the Wild Life. If you read this blog regularly, you know my affinity for Lzzy Hale and Halestorm.

8) "Two Minutes to Midnight" - Iron Maiden
Because it's Iron Maiden and you can never go wrong with Iron Maiden when talking about hard rock.

9) "Highway Star" - Deep Purple
The second of three songs from the '70's. Deep Purple was so influential on hard rock artists from the '80's up until today, I had to include them. "Highway Star" keeps the motor running on this playlist.

10) "Slide It In" - Whitesnake
While, again, this is not an obvious choice, this is from the album that preceded Whitesnake's 1987 record that catapulted them (and Tawny Kitaen) to the top of American consciousness.

11) "Rusty Cage" - Soundgarden
I never considered Soundgarden to be a grunge band. To me they were always more hard rock, as this song proves. There has never been any "yarling" in Chris Cornell's vocals and the instrumentation on this track is almost, almost thrash.

12) "Fire Woman" - The Cult
I don't know where The Cult falls in the grand scheme of genres, but "Fire Woman" is an excellent hard rock song.

13) "Heartless" - Heart
Again, if you read this blog at all, you know I love chicks that rock. And nobody did more to break ground for future generations of chick rockers than Ann and Nancy Wilson (apologies to Pat Benatar, but Ann & Nancy were first). While there are more obvious choices, this song fits the playlist.

14) "Rock Me Like The Devil" - Crucified Barbara
This, my first hard rock playlist, may be a little heavy on the female rockers, I think they get overlooked a lot of the time. Crucified Barbara is an all female current Swedish quartet who rock.

15) "I Hate Myself For Loving You" - Joan Jett
Because Joan Jett. That is all. Carry on.

16) "You Can't Stop Rock 'N" Roll" - Twisted Sister
What better song to end on. Rock is not dead.

Check out the Spotify playlist if you're at all intrigued.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Zane Williams With A Perfect Response To Thieves

Zane Williams had his van and trailer stolen in Houston. While the trailer was recovered almost immediately, a few items were missing. Namely a fiddle, a guitar and an amp.

I've been reading far too many reports of musicians getting their stuff stolen lately. In what is already a hard business, this makes it even harder.

In the midst of this mindless stealing, Zane Williams took the opportunity to pen the perfect response to theses idiots and put it down on video.


A song for the folks that stole our van and trailer...
Posted by Zane Williams on Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Tyler Bryant and the Shakedown

Sometimes you find good music, sometimes good music finds you. As much as one tries to stay current, sometimes something sneaks past, only to be found later. Such is the case with Tyler Bryant and the Shakedown.

The Texas-bred, Nashville-based blues rocker is back in the studio working on new music. If past music is any indication, I'll be spotlighting the new record when it comes out.

I the meantime, enjoy these tracks.

Lipstick Wonder Woman:



Don't Come Cheap:

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

SVP and Russillo

Scott Van Pelt (SVP) has an amazing opportunity to host a late night SportsCenter on ESPN. Good for him. He deserves it. One of the best in the business.

However, that also means that the SVP and Russillo radio show will come to an end. That bums me out a bit. Van Pelt, along with co-host Ryen Russillo, had become a part of my life. My life is pretty good, so while listening to the podcast was not the highlight of every day, or even most days, it was the highlight of some days. It was enjoyable every day.

With the announcement on Tuesday's show, Van Pelt said that although it was difficult at times, he knew that people that would get it would find it. I found it. I got it.

I had been vaguely aware of the show due to catching it on TV when I was off work. Then, about two or there years ago, I discovered podcasts. That's when I started listening regularly. And to really get it, you had to listen regularly.

Sure, the show was sports talk. It covered all the current sports events and talking points. But so much more nuanced than that. Never swinging for the low hanging fruit, as Scott liked to say, he and Ryen most often had the most logical and reasoned takes on everything. It was like my buddy and me talking sports and other stuff. And the other stuff is where the show shined.

When SVP and Russillo went off the rails, that was the best entertainment out there. From Ryen joining "Big Blue Nation" to Scott having no clue as to his travel itinerary. From Ryen's California real estate fetish to Scott's weather nerdiness. While listening, it just felt like hanging out with buddies.

While I'm sure other shows value immensely the behind-the-scenes personnel, Scott and Ryen gave those people a voice. Anybody who listens to the show knows Stanford Steve. And where else would Outsider Mike get that kind of platform? While I don't know that either one could carry half the weight of a three hour broadcast, what they brought was gold. And Scott and Ryen knew that and let them shine.

I know I wrote a lot in the past tense, but the show will go on in its current form for a while. I just wanted to get this out there before it is past tense.

Good luck guys. And thank you.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Barbecue Sauce and a Good Haircut

First of all, I would like to thank Dan Rubenstein for the inspiration for this post that resulted from a tweet via Andy Staples. Here is the tweet:

I quoted and replied to this tweet saying this was the most clueless thing I had read today and that I've read many tweets. My reply was made in good fun because I know that Andy Staples is a huge opponent of sauce on BBQ just for the sake of sauce.

I wouldn't know Dan Rubenstein if he walked up and punched me in the face. But his reply to my tweet got me to thinking. And here is the reply:

Of course the "simple folk" part of that tweet was not cool coming from a NYC resident, but I let that slide.

Here's the deal, good barbecue does not need sauce. Just like an an attractive person does not need a flattering haircut. But they are not parallel comparisons.

Good barbecue should be able to stand alone. If it needs sauce, then it's not good barbecue. Now if you start out with good barbecue, a small amount of a good sauce can enhance it. Conversely, a slathering of even mediocre sauce can ruin good barbecue.

While a flattering haircut may enhance the attractiveness of a person, a bad haircut does not completely ruin that attractiveness. "Well she was good looking, but with haircut all her beauty is gone. Forever." That doesn't happen. "The barbecue was good until it got drowned in that awful sauce, now it's inedible." That can happen.

Don't hate me Mr. Rubenstein. It's barbecue and haircuts.