Random Observations and Alternative Facts

☛Pursuant to our recent conversation about the supposed death of the electric guitar, I got to thinking about how much poorer rock ‘n roll would be had it never existed. What if Johnny B. Goode had to be played on a synth? (Assuming it existed back then.) Then I started thinking about that “100 great guitar riffs” video that made the rounds a few years back.

If you’ve seen it, time for a revisit. If you haven’t, check it out. This dude works at a guitar store. Yes, he has a superb guitarist but you doubtless know he couldn’t go from clean to dirty without an effects pedal. An awesome feat all the way around.

☛I saw the Grateful Dead documentary Long Strange Trip (now on Amazon Prime) at a theater when it was released a month or so ago. At four hours (plus intermission), it was a bit long but totally worth seeing. They gave a good overview of The Sixties but pretty much completely left out the Airplane and other important bands. My series on them gave me a new appreciation for them. Great driving music as their songs go on apparently for hours.

The last part was kinda sad, with Jerry Garcia deteriorating before your very eyes. They say he succumbed to the pressures of fame. That seems partly true to me. He never really took care of his health so I gotta think that contributed.

☛My son’s band Pray for Sound played a festival in Belgium last month. Somehow the live feed didn’t work out. Somebody then posted a close-up video but it was sideways. This one is from some dude’s cell phone. It’s a hundred miles away but it gives you a good feel for it. I like ’em even better live.

This video is on Facebook so I guess that’s where you’ll have to watch it if you’re so inclined. My son (Sonny Boy III) is third head-banger from the left. This audience is about 1 million times larger than anything they’ve played at before. Playing same festival in Vermont later this year.

Facebook link. (If no sound, right click, unmute.)

☛According to Rolling Stone, they’ve been working on creating a Bob Dylan archive in Tulsa, Oklahoma for over a year. (Oklahoma and not Minnesota as it’s right next to his idol Woody Guthrie’s center.) It will eventually include about 6,000 largely unseen items stretching back more than 50 years.

So, handwritten lyric sheets, letters from fellow artists like George Harrison, clothes he wore at certain shows. Dylanologists are over the moon with this treasure trove, reckoning it will shed new light on his artistry. They’re still soliciting design requests so no date when this will be open to the public.

☛While the great preponderance of Music Enthusiast readers are from the US, amazingly (and unexpectedly) my blog has now been read at least once in almost 60% of the countries in the world. (Given the nature of the blogosphere, I don’t think this is all that unusual.) So stats show countries from Albania to Bahrain to Estonia to Montenegro to Russia to Jordan. As to Laos, North Korea, Cuba? Holdouts! I think they’re just being coy.

☛Is Head Lice a good band name? I’m thinking maybe it is for one of the next wave of degenerate rockers. What if a band had the brass balls to call themselves The New Beatles?

☛If somebody arrived from Mars and said, “I want to know more about this rock ‘n roll thing. Point me to what you think is the quintessential rock ‘n roll band,” I would unhesitatingly point them to the Rolling Stones and specifically to my 112 song, 7 1/2 hour Spotify list which I will share here. You’re welcome.

I mention this because I hear rumor that a play may be coming to Broadway that will use Stones songs to “tell their life story,” a la Kinks Sunny Afternoon, Billy Joel’s My Life or Bruce Springsteen’s Warm Beers on the hood of a Dodge. AKA Asbury – The Musical! (I made those up.) Is this a good idea? I dunno. It could suck.

☛Lastly, I doubt this will work outside the U.S, but Emerson College in Boston has a pretty good radio station (WERS) which you can listen to online. They do an interesting, eclectic mix. So, sometimes Broadway, often a mix of things. In one set I heard songs by Elvis Costello, Joy Division and A Tribe Called Quest. My favorite show for several years has been the All A Capella show. Used to be a couple hours on Saturday and Sunday, now alas, appears to be only Saturday.

And as always, keep on rockin’ in the free (and not so free) world!

 

 

24 thoughts on “Random Observations and Alternative Facts

  1. Not directly related but the music from the Simpson’s has always been first rate. I have met Alf Clauson several times and he gets the relationship between TV music and the show. Without his witty lyrics and well crafted music , the Simpsons simply would have been gone by now.

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    1. Despite my fondness for Homer and crew, I actually haven’t seen that show in ages. I kinda lost my zeal for animation. But no denying it’s a great show. Oddly, apart from the theme song, never thought much about it from a musical perspective.

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  2. That 100 Riffs is fantastic and he’s good. One Take!! All that stuff we were talking about. He covers a lot of ground. I started to get into it when he did ‘Rumble’ then a few later Dick Dale. Great find Doc. I’ll get that to Big Earl. All those last riffs are from bands he digs.

    When I see a set list like that “Stones” one it’s hard not to be drawn in. Couldn’t get “Sonny’s” thing to play.

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    1. I’ve seen that riffs thing about 100 times and I never get tired of it. Like I said, he’s gotta work that foot pedal to get just the right sound. I just did that Stones thing the other day. Spotify is powerful, man. As to Sonny boy, if you click on the link and you see a picture, right click on the mouse. You might get an option to play and unmute. If not, maybe only I can see it, don’t know.

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        1. Yeah, thanks. I like the live show. Lot of energy. They were actually invited there by the promoters and they were on the main night, two or three from the top act. They have a fair number of international fans including one guy from Australia who has come to Boston to see them and went to this show. Not too bad for guys who are essentially just doing this on the side.

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  3. Thanks for sharing the awesome “100 riffs” video – I had not known about this clip and had a ball watching it in its entirety the other evening on my commute home from work. I even lingered in my home bus terminal, so I could watch the remainder! 🙂

    Given the sad state of music education, this should be mandatory watching for kids in all schools. And while we’re at it, throw in a bunch of other instrument demonstrations as well, such as this awesome Booker T. Jones clip showcasing the Hammond B3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rh9KDzNkpSI

    After watching clips like the above, I simply couldn’t understand if no kid would not want to pick up the guitar, keyboards or any other instrument! But maybe that’s just me. I also don’t get how much many kids are into video games. I guess I’m a yesterday man! 🙂

    Also, congrats to your son’s band and their performance. I just took a peek on Facebook – next time maybe pray for video holding the video camera correctly? 🙂

    On a more serious note, I sense your pride as a dad who’s obviously big time into music as well. I’d also be super proud, if it were my son. I’m proud of him for many other reasons – still working on the music thing, though! 🙂

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  4. It’s an awesome video, isn’t it? I check it out every once in a while to see if it really exists. Rock and roll Hall of Fame for that guy! I recall seeing your Booker T. video. Good to have it here for those who might not have seen it.

    There’s no doubt in my mind there’ll be another generation of blazing guitarists. It’s just too much fun to play. I’m not at all convinced it’s a video game Vs. instrument choice.

    Yeah, there was supposed to be an official feed from that festival but it crapped out. I guess thank God for cell phones.

    Definitely proud of where he’s gone with that. I played in bands and the idea of us playing any kind of a festival anywhere is inconceivable to the point of laughable. Our goal was just to get from playing shitty clubs on Tuesday night to slightly less shitty clubs on Saturday night.

    For the record, while I was not able to transfer love of blues to my kids, they are both big music lovers and players. My daughter played clarinet and sax in big bands from grade school to college. She graduated a few years ago but she and other local alumni (Boston University) are asked to play whenever there’s an off-season event and regular students are home. Happened just last night, in fact. Her only official rock moment was a few years ago at Fenway. Aerosmith and J. Giels were playing. (We were there.) Her band played ‘Centerfold’ along with Geils.

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      1. Yeah it’s crazy. Her band used to do “Centerfold,” probably still does. Since Geils was a local band, I guess the band director got hold of their management and suggested it. The BU band played for all the school’s basketball and hockey games. Game time is a complete circus and she had a blast with that, even following the Terriers (hockey) around the country the year they won. She might know more about hockey than you do!

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        1. That’s all so cool Doc. ‘Centerfold’ when you think about it would be a perfect tune for a school band. As far as knowing more about hockey, yup she would. She would have some good memories from that “Terriers” thing. Very cool.

          On another note. I record this program off PBS every Saturday. Bluegrass Underground. They have great bands and it’s not ll BG. Just seen a funky blues band J.J. Grey and MOFRO. They were very very god. Research them if you get the time.

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  5. Checked out JJ Grey. I see they’re from Jacksonville where the Allmans formed. Derek Trucks has played on their stuff and they dig Lynyrd Skynyrd. So, good pedigree. I listened to a bunch of stuff on YouTube. Less a guitar hero blues band and more a funky soul band from what I heard. Really nice sound. Thanks for cluing me into them. One of these days I’m gonna make that “funky blues soul” playlist and they’ll find a spot or two on it.

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  6. FYI that radio station (why are U.S. radio stations all called WXYZ or something equally easy to forget?) works fine over the Internet here in the UK. It seems to have a good selection of music and the sound quality is excellent. I just wish they didn’t keep advertising the station, asking for money and saying how great the Boston area is. You have no idea how tedious that becomes when you’re used to advert-free radio and a music-only streaming service. Or did I just tune in at a bad time?

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    1. Here’s a brief explanatory piece on the ‘W’ thing:

      http://www.primermagazine.com/2010/field-manual/know-it-all-w%E2%80%99s-and-k%E2%80%99s-the-history-of-radio-and-television-call-letters

      You may well have caught them during a money-raising spree. Periodically, public stations go hat-in-hand to the listening audience and try to get us to cough up money to support the station. Public television here does the same thing every once in a while. I can always tell when it’s on. They have come to the conclusion that baby boomers have all the money and so shows like “Australian Pink Floyd” or “Those Fabulous Sixties” show up.

      As to the Boston touting, that I can’t explain at all. Some around here are inclined to oversell the city. But I’m not sure exactly why they feel the need to do that for an audience that, by and large, has already bought into it. Anyway, glad that you’re digging it, despite all that crap. I was just driving around listening to it myself today.

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      1. On those cryptic radio station names … Your link explained where the letters came from but not why the UK doesn’t use this system. So I’ve done some research. The full answer goes like this …

        Radio (and TV) stations were required to have 3 or 4 letter call signs by an international agreement first drawn up in 1912 and the US imposed further restrictions in 1928. Radio stations are still required by US Federal law to broadcast their call signs at least once an hour. So, in the US (and similarly in Australia), it makes sense for the station name to be the official call sign.

        Europe used this system until the 1930s. Apparently, the prefix letter for UK stations is G but that information is quite hard to find – it’s not used for station identification. Wikipedia has a list of UK radio stations (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_radio_stations_in_the_United_Kingdom) and almost without exception they have sensible names like Heart, Smooth, Gold. (The only exceptions I’ve noted are TFM and 2BR.)

        I don’t know why Europe abandoned the call signs but, as far as I can tell, there are no downsides to it. Perhaps it’s time for the US to catch up? 😉

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        1. It may well be. However, I very much doubt it is on anyone’s radar. And even if it were, you might have noticed we are completely unable to get anything done anymore. Our current “president” and Congress would get involved, point fingers, and ultimately blame Mrs. Clinton and Obama.

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