Monday, June 29, 2020

#NewMusicMonday • June • 2020

Hampton & Papa social distancing
with strangers in the kiddie pool.
#NewMusicMonday Series • 2020

Summer's here
I'm for that
Got my rubber sandals
Got my straw hat
Got my cold beer
I'm just glad that I'm here
–James Taylor

Adaptations
So we've had a rough four months. Everybody's glad summer is finally here. My HOA pool has just reopened with 'new rules' - residents must register online to reserve a 2 hour block with limited capacity in designated social distanced squares. Most people never have anything good to say about any HOA (Hobby Opportunity for Authority), but I have to say they have done a good job trying to keep everyone safe.

A typical Pickleball setup using a tennis court
The HOA tennis courts have also just reopened right across from my house. Pickleball is back in full-swing, the game made for my generation who have either forgotten how to run or can't. I'm not poking pickleballers here, it's more about me dealing with my own body and what it used to do compared to now. I'm also lamenting about the wonderful game of tennis, with less young people playing real tennis, I just hope the original white court lines don't fade away.

Pickleball is a great social activity. Everybody is chatting it up with lots of laughter just like old times, but from my box seat view, I see no masks or social distancing. C'mon boomers, you still can be flexible, just like your pickleball wrist!

I have family driving down all the way from Seattle on several different trips this summer, finally merging our packs together. Quite a long distance travel adaptation, all the while airlines like American Airlines announced they will scrap social distancing and start booking full planes July 1.

For our visiting grandkids their parents have come up with a simple term to explain our times, No San Diego Zoo (opened last week), Legoland, or Disneyland because of the "Big Germs." :-(

It's a different summer in a turbulent year, but we are learning to do things differently and still have fun together.

Recently I wrote a blog, Outdoor Exercise In The Time Of Coronavirus: Who was that masked man? where I basically talked about the current culture war of wearing a mask. My working titles were, #ManUpMaskUp, or #MaskUpMother####ers, but opted for a little more informative heading in the end. For people walking, running or biking it's really not political, wearing a mask just has become more of a hassle and can't be bothered with, I call it, "an inconvenient truth- coronavirus edition." I see my regulars, the people that exercise around me in my neighborhood every week. Most everyone, young and old have just given up the mask outdoors. There is such irony here, people making the effort to exercise, but too damn lazy to adapt to a new simple behavior by wearing a mask that SAVES LIVES.

Breaking News- VP Pence gets pensive and decides to wear a mask to a Texas mega-church on Sunday. Better late than never... at least I hope it's not too late?  Anyway, baby steps for Trump's little bucko.

So unless you're living under a rock, you know that there is more than a little uptick in coronavirus cases across the country in the month of June. I haven't heard, "flatten the curve" since the end of May. 

However, I still hear that we are still in the 1st wave, and there is going to be a second wave sometime in the fall. I think after the past several weeks, we probably should adjust our 'waves' talk too. For Western States who has lived through enough wildfires in the last twenty years, the analogy of the coronavirus being an 'uncontained wildfire' is a much more accurate way to describe how the virus is currently surging and spreading across the country. The term, "hot spots" seems quite appropriate.

Source - New York Times
The solid burnt orange of new coronavirus cases in Southern California is disconcerting to say the least, where as Disneyland staying closed is not really our biggest problem. When the brush fires do start in the coming days ahead, maybe the masks people aren't wearing now will suddenly have a function to them. Instead of Fire and Rain, we'll call it Fire and Fire and the masks will serve a dual purpose- keeping coronavirus from going red in your town while breathing in falling ash from your local brush fire.

Hey, but on the positive side, new music keeps rolling in everyday. I can't keep up with all the broadcast and Internet services with artists and bands just putting out more live and recorded music across all the streaming services everyday. I'm glad I've made #NewMusicMonday a series because I keep finding new songs and albums being pumped out in this first half of 2020.

If you are spending the time to read this blog, you probably love music, and I will suggest, you need to be listening to music more than ever! Make the adaptation necessary in your behavior to spend 15 more minutes a day listening to music. I'm just a guy here finding and organizing what I think are good songs to listen to and if you like my playlists, cool. If not, find sources where you can hear music that moves you emotionally. I need that movement more than ever, and I'm guessing so do you.

Stay well and enjoy this playlist my friends.



References

Monday, June 22, 2020

Performing@Home In The Time of Coronavirus: Volume I

Sara Bareilles trouble-shooting
her Instagram Live broadcast
Professional performers such as actors, dancers, comedians and musicians spend a great deal of their life in auditoriums, bars, cafes, studios, theaters, and various venues on the road away from their home, family, and friends. As a fan, I miss seeing them all perform live on stage!

As you watch artists video themselves during this pandemic, they work hard to keep a brave face and carry on, but those faces are challenged, missing the audience's oxygen combined with their talent to spark magic and illuminate an amplified space.

So in our current world-wide pandemic that has us all @home more than we could have ever imagined; artists working before a large sitting audience will in fact be one of the last groups of professionals to get back to work in the world.

However, digital technology's ease of use has been a shining light during these times @home. In the past couple of years, the combination of consumer: smartphones, laptops, digital audio and video compression, conferencing apps and 5G Internet speed make this pandemic a bit more bearable... than just a bear.

Late Night with Seth Meyers, my favorite pandemic TV show shot from Seth's attic
with his 8G Band performing from their homes.
Here's a great article about Late Night with Seth Myers in Verge by Andrew Marino that shows all of us average bears how to create our very own homegrown production studio.

THE GADGETS LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS USES TO KEEP THE SHOW RUNNING FROM HOME: Consumer electronics have replaced studios during the pandemic

This past week, I searched across YouTube and found live performances of self-made videos by a wide group of performers all shot from home starting in the lockdown madness of March to now.

I start with a Sara Bareilles phone video on Instagram that was the spark for this blog (p.s. I love Sara Bareilles).

I also want to thank my friend Paul Hobbs for sending me a a video from his garage this week, a song, California written in high school (back in the Pleistocene Era) with our dear friend Paul Tognazzini.

On a side note- you'll also notice some of our famous artists have a little bit more home technology than the average bear.

Enjoy and stay well my friends!


Monday, June 15, 2020

50 Years of Music • June, 1970

This week takes us back to June, 1970 and the completion of my freshmen year in high school, and one year closer to freedom. As I started to put the June, 1970 Playlist together I realized this was a weaker month for my personal musical tastes as bands like Grand Funk Railroad, Deep Purple, and Procol Harum just never made it with me, compared to the likes of The Rolling Stones, Cream, and The Who. The later grouping set the Tier I rock benchmark and the former grouping would never rise above a Tier II level in my opinion. However, I did like Deep Purple's Smoke On The Water in 1972.

I was excited to see Bob Dylan's Self Portrait was on the June 1970 in Music Wikipedia release list as I've been listening to him lately. In 1970, I really wasn't into Dylan that much and now wanted to explore why the critics had not been kind to this album. Dylan, never one to please anyone took a sharp Americana folk turn on this one, as everyone probably wanted more of Like A Rolling Stone.

The 24 song selection of the double album is a bit of a FU by Bob to the public and critics, but if you listen carefully, there's some really nice gold to be mined here. Dylan is also greatly panned for his singing on this album, with some carry over 'country crooning' songs from his 1969 Nashville Skyline album. I actually found Bob's singing to be a highlight of the album. Listen to Copper Kettle for example, I just love it!

So this week, I have two playlists: one; a mix of songs I liked from June, 1970 and two; a selection of songs I liked from the Self Portrait album. As for Self Portrait being on YouTube, I was sorely disappointed, I could only find a couple of song's (what's up with that Bob?). So, what I decided to do is make my own 'What If' playlist if Dylan had focused on releasing a single album of Folk cover songs. I have created a duplicate Spotify or Amazon 13 song playlist for you to choose from below. Enjoy, and stay well my friends!




Doug's 'What If' of Self Portrait by Bob Dylan

On Spotify

On Amazon


Monday, June 8, 2020

My THIRD 100 Songs

My 100 Songs | My SECOND 100 Songs | My THIRD 100 Songs

If you've been following this series of now the THIRD grouping of 100 of my all-time favorite songs then you will be acutely aware of my favorite band, The Beatles.  For this third round, I actually went through every Beatle album and basically spread my favorite Beatle songs over the three current playlists. I say current, because it's not so much changing my mind, but more a shuffling of the deck of fantastic songs as I add more songs. I also said in the first list of 100 that I would not rank the songs, and I have continued that here.

The only thing that will remain a tradition as I have just started my FOURTH 100 Songs offline is that this series of playlists will start and end with Beatle songs as that is the dominate gene in my rock 'n' roll DNA.

Speaking of The Beatles, my pal Paul Hobbs turned me on to this great book, Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now (Amazon link) that I'm currently reading (and I wonder what made me go through every Beatle album this past week?).  I bought a used hardcover that was in great shape, but recommend if you like reading on your back, you opt for the paperback version, because She's so heavy, heavy, heavy, heavy...

Long Live The Beatles!

My THIRD 100 Songs


Monday, June 1, 2020

Dear Mr. Fantasy...

Dear Mr. Fantasy play us a tune
Something to make us all happy
Do anything, take us out of this gloom
Sing a song, play guitar, make it snappy
–Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi, Chris Wood






It's February 8, 2020 and Mary Kit and I are at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. We walk into the Forum Shops which is this huge indoor complex of stores and restaurants. We have dinner reservations at Trevi. Trevi is the open Italian restaurant next to the Fountain of the Gods and we have a wonderful dinner to the sound of splashing water that almost drowns out the sound of the horde of tourists around us. We are about to see Van Morrison at his sold-out residency at the Colosseum. The ceiling is a consumer's paradise with a fanciful painted sky designed to transport you to a different place, a different time... 

COVID-19 is about to be a BIG THING, we just don't know it yet as we sit down to dinner with thousands of people around us, and then later see a wonderful concert. We come back to enjoy our hotel at the MGM Signature. The Lazy River pool is closed for winter, but we'll be back in late May to enjoy it when we come to see Sting on May 27th, and Sheryl Crow on May 28th... 

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Dear Mr. Fantasy,

It's March 15th and Mary Kit has gotten me an early birthday present, tickets to see Livingston Taylor at Humphreys Backstage Live. This is like a supper club, and we have seats up front about 10 feet from the stage. I have never seen Livingston live and looking forward to hearing songs like, Carolina Day. What a dinner, Mary Kit wants to mention the lobster bisque, and what a wonderful show! Livingston was fantastic, very engaging with the audience as you can see from the excellent footage I shot and spliced together with my iPhone...



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Dear Mr. Fantasy,

It's March 24th and Mary Kit has gotten me another early birthday present, tickets to see Joan Osborne and The Weepies at Edmonds Center For The Arts in Washington. I have never seen Joan Osborne or the opening act The Weepies, but love both and couldn't wait to see them in this intimate 700 seat theater.

The Weepies performed one of my favorite songs, Take It From Me. I must say, the theater is a stickler about shooting video, and the usher did in fact take my phone away from me, but not before I got this...



Next up was Joan Osborne who also performed one of my favorite songs of all-time, One of Us. Now since they took my phone from me, Mary Kit put her coat in her lap and shot this very steady clip from under her coat, I must say this was great camera work, what a team! We also enjoyed our trip up to Seattle and got to have a big family get together and potluck with all of Mary Kit's kids and our grandchildren. We can't wait for our next visit... 



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Dear Mr. Fantasy,

It's May 8th and we get to see The Rolling Stones in our own backyard, just 5 minutes (a stones throw) down the road from us at Qualcomm Stadium (now called CCSomethingCreditUnion). If you remember my huge lament back in October 19, 2016, where the Stones had to cancel their concert because Mick developed 'Bad Laryngitis' at Coachella a few nights before. We had just arrived from San Diego on October 18th, got into our hotel when the news come to use via our iPhones. So now we finally got to see our rock heroes because lightening couldn't possibly strike us twice, right?

We both have never seen The Rolling Stones live before and couldn't wait to hear, You Can't Always Get What You Want. Anyway, the show was absolutely phenomenal! Here's an official 2003 clip of the song live, but it really doesn't matter because all these guys look exactly the same today, well Keith may have a few more deep wrinkles now. 



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Dear Mr. Fantasy,

It's just last week, May 27-28. Yes we are back in Las Vegas where I'm writing this blog. Man the Southwest flight was packed, but we took our Airborne Fruit Gummies before we left, so I think we're good. 

First, we saw Sting at his residency at Caesar's Palace, just like Van Morrison back in February. Boy, time flies but other than the weather being warmer, everything is always the same in Lost Wages. Hey, the Lazy River was awesome and we even got those frozen rum pool drinks. My advise is not to have three and then get into fast moving water! Lesson learned.

Sting also looks the same as he did twenty years ago, maybe there really is something to that tantric thing? The show was great, but everybody was saying, Don't Stand So Close To Me, which is also a great song of his! Anyway, before the show, Sting was hanging out at one of the pools with a thousand friends, and this was a video I took on my phone as we just happened upon this cool party!



Then on May 28th, Sheryl Crow did a benefit concert for the Sands Cares INSPIRE charity at the Venetian. It was a great show and she did one of my favorites, Every Day Is A Winding Road. I was thinking about that song today as it can be appropriate for one's interpersonal life as well as for people enduring a crisis day in and day out.

Music is always at the heart of tapping at our core emotions. I love going to these live shows and experiencing an artist's music in a concert hall with an audience all together in a common spirit of joy and happiness. It would be so sad if something happened to take that all away, even if it was only for a year, could you imagine that! I know that's a weird thought, but sure makes me want to appreciate all the things like live music that we take for granted.

Sincerely yours,
Doug and Mary Kit



References

Now for all the concerts I have missed in my life, my friend Ron Zieman was telling me about the 2009 concert tour with Steve Winwood and Eric Clapton together. Ron said it was spectacular show at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. That really would have been one to see, like so many others... Here's Steve Winwood and Eric Clapton performing, Dear Mr. Fantasy at the 2010 CrossRoads Guitar Festival.


Also, thanks to YouTube, the artists, and the concert goers who posted the live concert videos that I 'borrowed' for today's fantasy. Mary Kit and I hope to see all these musicians someday live in concert.