Monday, December 26, 2016

My Favorite Songs of 2016

I have been working on this playlist for several months now as I've been adsorbing the wonderful music of 2016. I'm trying to avoid the very subjective word of Best and stay with an eclectic group of my favorite 50 songs which for the most part, probably gets little to no air play on the radio. The beautiful thing about services like YouTube, Amazon Music, Spotify and iTunes is that we get to make our own playlists and essentially make our own personalized radio these days.

Now I don't claim to have listened to every album recorded this past year, but I've listened to at least 50+ different albums as they were either released, or started to appear on lists like Rolling Stone, etc. If you follow Monday Monday Music, you're going to get a young and old mix of rock 'n roll, Blues and Americana music, so this list should sound familiar if not flipping fantastic!

With the wonderful world of YouTube, I usually can listen (and watch) an artist's entire new album of songs. This kind of gets me back to my roots of listening to entire albums and then naturally experiencing which songs will be short or long-term favorites.

Here is my short list of my top five favorite albums of 2016.

1. Tedeschi Trucks Band - Let Me Get By
This album didn't make any music critics list that I found, so I guess I'm doing something right or at least different. Derek Trucks is my current guitar hero (Gary Clark Jr. too). I got to see Susan, Derek and their wonderful band this year in San Diego and what a show! These guys have the old school rockin' blues full sound of, shall I say, Derek and the Dominoes or a Leon Russell ensemble. I start the playlist with the 2016 Anyhow song/video from Derek Trucks and the band. I end the playlist with Derek Trucks playing with Eric Clapton in 2007 in the 2016 release of Eric Clapton Live in San Diego!

2. Mudcrutch 2
If you love Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers with a twist of old school country rock, welcome back to 1970. Mudcrutch is the early terrible name for the original Tom Petty band before the Heartbreakers. Tom brings together the original line up with all the band members that started together in Gainesville, Florida. This is a fantastic album with the best album cover of 2016!

Also, If you love Tom Petty and are doing some holiday couch surfing, catch - Runnin' Down a Dream (4 hour Documentary) on Netflix.

3. Colvin and Earle - When two of your favorite musician's get together and make an album, you want it to be as good as this album. I wasn't disappointed and the first time I heard it, (thanks Ken Forman) I couldn't believe how all the originals and covers sounded. This is an Americana dream album made in heaven, well probably, somewhere around Tennessee.

4. Van Morrison - Keep Me Singing
Again, the first time I heard this album, I keep saying to myself, that's a really good song, hey that's a good song too, on and on. Let It Rhyme is as fine a song as Van Morrison has ever written. This album is so well-crafted as the master continues to produce a batch of fresh songs.

5. Jack White - Acoustic Recordings 1998–2016
Jack is one of those musicians that just grow on you. So what better album to get as your first Jack White than this one. I just loved how Jack White strips everything down to the raw essential heart of the matter. His song writing and playing is pure storytelling in the finest tradition. We're Going to Be Friends is in my opinion, one of the purest songs ever written and he delivers it here in singular clarity.

Go buy this album, hell go buy all five of these albums.

Okay, now that was just the warm up. From good albums, come really good songs. I've picked my favorite 50 from 2016 to share with you today.

Happy New Year!!! I'll be back in 2017 on consecutive or random Mondays, whatever strikes me to put something down in this little blog. Enjoy my friends.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Remembrance 2016

Come together right now over me
                                     John Lennon

December is a time to reflect and remember. I remember December 8, 1980, the day John Lennon was shot and killed in New York City. It was my first year of teaching in a very intense special education class for children with severe multiple disabilities. I believe one of my classroom assistant's had quit and I then had a series of long-term substitutes for awhile. One fellow, (who for the life of me I can't remember his name) was a struggling musician who had various part-time jobs. We had been working together a couple of weeks and often talked about music and bands we loved. As I recall, this really wonderful guy came to work in my class the morning of December 9th and hadn't heard about the shooting. Now, I can't remember his name, but I'll never forget the look on his face and breakdown when I told him that John Lennon had been shot in front of his apartment building, The Dakota and died. In the days following, many news outlets and public mourning activities in Central Park would play, Come Together as John couldn't have possibly imagined this scene and the context of this song being used to actually bring people together over his tragic death. Like millions, I took John's death hard. I was 25 and not too many of my own loved ones had yet died in my first quarter century.

Today, I still take some musicians passing with a bit of a jolt. These wonderful artists have been in our hearts and minds for so many years, they touched us and we shall never forget the impact they had on us. I know older people in especially smaller towns will scan the obituaries in their daily local paper to see if an old friend or acquaintance has died. I guess for music I get a similar experience when my Rolling Stone phone app pops up to tell me this kind of news. 

2016 has been an exceptionally hard as many giants of music have passed this year. I went to this web site, We Heart Music and got the monthly list to prepare for this blog. I like their across the board approach as they acknowledge many lesser know artists in the music business.

As I get older myself, I'm sure this might be an annual blog on my part. At the Grammy's and Oscar's I now always get a bit teary-eyed when they do their annual remembrance segment. The beautiful thing about people in the arts is that we have their performances preserved in various media formats that we can enjoy again and again.

Here, I've embedded a memorable track under each artist.

Happy eggnog and wishing you a healthy year and as Glenn would say, "Take it Easy."

2016 Remembrance

1/10 - David Bowie, 69

1/18 - Glenn Frey, 67 (Eagles)

1/28 - Paul Kantner, 74 (Jefferson Airplane)

2/6 - Dan Hicks, 74 (Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks)

3/8 - George Martin, 74 (Beatles Producer Extraordinaire, "The 5th Beatle")

3/10 - Keith Emerson, 74 (Emerson, Lake and Palmer)

4/6 - Merle Haggard, 79

4/21 - Prince, 57

6/3 - Mohammad Ali, 74 ("Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee")

6/28 - Scotty Moore, 84 (Elvis Presley's lead guitar player)

7/24 - Marni Nixon, 86 (Best known for dubbing the singing voices of the leading actresses in films, including The King and I, West Side Story, and My Fair Lady.

8/11 - Glenn Yarbrough, (The Limeliters)

9/1 - Fred Hellerman, 89 (The Weavers (Fred on Guitar),
Fred also produced Alice's Restaurant for Arlo Guthrie)

11/7 - Leonard Cohen, 82

11/13 - Leon Russell, 74

12/7 - Greg Lake, 69 (Emerson, Lake and Palmer)

Monday, December 12, 2016

Christmas Mix 2016

Christmas Mix
2015 • 2016 • 2017 • 2018 • 2019 • 2020 • 2021 • 2022

I wanted to start this blog off with a lovely gift I found for myself on the Internet wires this past week that I would like to share with you as well. If you're a faithful reader of this blog, you know I use YouTube as my musical engine to craft an unique playlist for each Monday Monday Music. Lately, it appears that the good folks at YouTube have been ramping up the ads. I don't have stats on this, but it seems you get about 2-3 ads for every 10 videos you play. This has kind of put a damper on my playlists by just the sheer number of commercials you have to endure or quickly delete with the Skip button (if the ad has a skip button).

Well I have a computer solution that seems to be working quite well. It is an extension for the Chrome Browser called, Block YouTube Ads - Skip Right to the Video! So first, you need to be using the Chrome Browser and if not, download Chrome here.

Next, go to the Chrome Store by going directly the
Block YouTube Ads - Skip Right to the Video! link here. Then, click on the ADD To CHROME button. After installing, I got an ad from YouTube a few minutes in. So, I restarted my computer and after viewing over 100 music videos the past couple of days (does this guy have a life), I've had only 3 ads. Now that's a much better ratio to tolerate. Anyway, I've been giving it a go and here is another test I did. I opened up my now rarely used Firefox browser and went to the new Rolling Stones album playlist, Blue and Lonesome on YouTube. There are 12 new tracks here of wonderful Chicago Blues covers that the Stones do very well (and Mick kicks it on harmonica)! Anyway, I got two ads using Firefox in the Blue and Lonesome Playlist and then went back to Chrome and got zero ads playing the same linked playlist. Success!

Update 12/18/16 - My friend, Alex Dominguez told me of another Chrome extension he uses called uBlock Origin (install here). Now remember this only works with the Chrome Browser. Anyway, I installed it last week, and with the combination of these two blocking ads extensions, I've had zero ads! 

from Ugly Christmas
I understand, free means enduring ads but online services like YouTube just seem to keep pushing it to the limit. So, this little free extension is my little push back. Speaking of commercial, it is temping to buy this Festivus sweater. Isn't it especially fun to watch Seinfeld at the holidays, I know Frank Costanza is yelling right now somewhere on cable.

Now on to the playlist. This is my second Christmas Time Mix (CTM) and hope to make this an annual tradition. John Williams' Carol of the Bells is the only original repeat as I plan to also make that a tradition of the CTM every year.  If you didn't catch my Christmas Time Mix 2015, here is the link.

My goal with the CTM is to collect an eclectic Americana spirit of traditional and non-traditional Christmas and winter time music. Enjoy my friends.

Happy Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa and Happy Festivus for the rest of us!

Monday, December 05, 2016

From Stockbridge to Boston

Now the first of December was covered with snow
So was the turnpike from Stockbridge to Boston 
The Berkshires seemed dream-like on account of that frosting 
With ten miles behind me and ten thousand more to go... 

from Wikipedia, Sweet Baby James (Song)
This of course is the very notable verse from James Taylor's famous song, Sweet Baby James. I had just included this song on My 100 List that I posted last week when I got an email from one of my loyal blog readers, Ron Ouellette. Ron is the father of Jeremy, my son-in-law to my step-daughter, the now just married, Alexandra Ouellette. Ron and I have been getting to know each other over the past couple of years and as the topic of music came up, well need I say more.

So Ron writes me an email (on December first) with the following line, "the 1st of December was covered with snow and so was the turnpike from Stockbridge to Boston. 'It has happened once that I can recall but it won't happen this year. Love that song!' "

Ron and his lovely wife Karen live in Londonderry, New Hampshire and represent the New England region well with their roots and support of the sport teams and music too. Recently, Ron gave me three CD's of lesser known bands I had never heard of before. It's always great to get new music and continue to expand my rock n' roll repertoire a bit more.

I've also been trying to expand my travel repertoire too, as I had never been to New York State, or for that matter, most of the eastern United States. This past October, I had an opportunity to speak at a Librarian's conference east of Syracuse and just off Interstate 90 in Vernon, New York. It is called the Leatherstocking Conference, referring to the region where James Fenimore Cooper lived in nearby Cooperstown and his famous book series called the Leatherstocking Tales about the frontier, including The Last of the Mohicans. So, from Syracuse, one takes Interstate 90 east through Albany and then south and east into Massachusetts and towards Stockbridge. In looking at a map yesterday, I realized the continuous Interstate 90 turns into the Massachusetts Turnpike from Stockbridge to Boston. Okay, I'm just trying to get a little more connected here with my recent visit east and James Taylor's turf.

The irony here is that I wasn't going to feature any other James Taylor songs in this week's playlist, but then I couldn't help myself as I sneak in another one. My real aim is to feature the lesser known artist's with the three CD's Ron gave me. I will however keep that theme going and end my playlist this week with Livingston Taylor who is James' lesser known brother, who by the way had success in the 70's too.

The first band is The Alternate Routes from Bridgeport, Connecticut  (and yes, extending the New England connection). Ron gave me their 2007 album, Good and Reckless and True. I love this band and want to explore them more as I venture into their catalog.

Next up is Eric Bibb, born in New York (see I got that in there again too), who is an acoustic Blues singer-songwriter. Eric Bibb has grown on me the more I listen to his 1999 CD, Home to Me and listen to him on YouTube. After making this week's playlist, I'm a fan.

and then, Vintage Trouble, a R&B band from Los Angeles, CA and why do I not know this? I would love to see these guys in a bar, just seems that alcohol would be involved. I've been listening to the 2015 CD, 1 Hopeful Road and enjoy their videos too.

Lastly, Livingston Taylor, currently a faculty member of the Berklee College of Music, in Boston. Livingston and I once had long sandy brown curly hair, take care my friends.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

My 100 Songs

My intent here is to make my personal version of Rolling Stone Magazine's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time with the knowledge that there is really NO TOP 100 or 500 rock 'n roll songs, it's all individual preference. 

This first group of 100 will be the easiest because each song has a deep personal meaning to me. Many of these songs also have some long-term memory moment in time like listening to The Rolling Stones, (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction on my Sony transistor radio in 1965 on my front yard grass. 

Also, I have not rated my list, "Best 1-100" but in this series I will always start and end a set of 100 with my favorite band of all-time, The Beatles.

The first album that I ever owned, I actually stole, The Beatles ‎– A Hard Day's Night (Original Motion Picture Sound Track). It was taken by me from my grandfather's record collection that I found in his wooden console record player at his house. I believe my dad told me he belonged to the Columbia Record Club and must have gotten this one thrown in as a bonus because I knew he didn't listen to it. I guess I'm explaining my childhood rationalization for stealing this album and even now feel I took it more as a need than a want. And boy, what an album it was and still is. I'm listening to George Martin produce the boys and won't even know who he is until several years later!

Playing records was something my parents never really did at our house, so this record was my start and made me feel that I was part of something different from my parents point of view. I'm actually visiting the childhood house now on Tunnell St. (Santa Maria, CA) where I started to play my own 45's and albums, in my room. 

I lived in a home where rock 'n roll was not embraced. I vividly remember my parents and church friends, The Reyburns, over at our old house on Sunset St. on a memorable Sunday evening. The parents were putting down The Beatles during their performance on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, as my brother, sister and I (along with the Reyburn children) were trying to tune the adults out and tune into the wonderful Beatles and their screaming fans on our black and white TV.

In 1967, my grandfather passed away and that wooden stereo console and his record collection, including Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra came to our house. I think like most American homes, the stereo console was off limits to the children, but we all sneaked our albums onto the best sound system in the house when our parents were gone.

At a certain point, my parents gave up and let us play our records on the console until the vacuum tubes got heated up and eventually were worn out by the early 70's. What a time, Buffalo Springfield on the stereo console and the Vietnam War live on the TV console. These two beasts of technology played across from each other in our converted garage to family room with our new indoor/outdoor blue/green carpet.

From junior high 1966, music was a big part of my friends lives and thus became a big part of my life. As I moved into high school and through college, there were the larger than life bands, the break-ups, the new bands, the new single artist's, all with the blending of acoustic, electric and American musical genres. 

From the car radios, the new portable stereo systems and the concert experiences, music was right there for all my friends and me. Today, we still never stop talking about all the music- old and new. Here in this playlist, you are going to hear mostly 60's and 70's songs that I bonded with and are a part of me today. I'm sure if you read my blog on a regular basis, there are more than a few songs here that have always stayed with you too.

 As I write this, it's starting to rain right now on the family room roof and that's a good memory too. The old forced-air heater has just whirled on and it's time for some Thanksgiving pie for breakfast. Take care my friends.

My 100 Songs
  1. Hard Days Night, The Beatles
  2. Penny Lane, The Beatles
  3. Sweet Baby James, James Taylor
  4. Like A Rolling Stone, Bob Dylan
  5. (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction, The Rolling Stones
  6. The Boys of Summer, Don Henley
  7. Good Vibrations, The Beach Boys
  8. The Water Is Wide, Karla Bonoff
  9. This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody), Shawn Colvin
  10. Light My Fire, The Doors
  11. Both Sides Now, Joni Mitchell
  12. I Can See For Miles, The Who
  13. The Sounds Of Silence, Simon and Garfunkel
  14. I Should Have Known Better, The Beatles
  15. Doolin-Dalton / Desperado (Reprise), Eagles
  16. All Along The Watch Tower, Jimi Hendrix
  17. Ruby Tuesday, The Rolling Stones
  18. In My Room, The Beach Boys
  19. Rock & Roll Woman, Buffalo Springfield
  20. Bye Bye Love, The Everly Brothers
  21. Here, There and Everywhere, The Beatles
  22. Mary Jane's Last Dance, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers
  23. Faithless Love, Linda Ronstandt
  24. Cinnamon Girl, Neil Young
  25. Lake Marie, John Prine
  26. It's Too Late, Carole King
  27. She Loves You, The Beatles
  28. Bad Moon Rising, Creedence Clearwater Revival
  29. Sugar Mountain, Neil Young
  30. Cecilia, Simon and Garfunkel
  31. Levon, Elton John
  32. Nowhere Man, The Beatles
  33. Blowing In The Wind, Bob Dylan
  34. Street Fighting Man, The Rolling Stones
  35. Spare Me A Little Of Your Love, Fleetwood Mac
  36. Vincent, Don McLean
  37. Running Down A Dream, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers
  38. Green Onions, Booker T. & The MG's
  39. Wooden Ships, Crosby, Stills & Nash
  40. Wake Up Everybody, Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes
  41. Lovers Of The Sun, The Jayhawks
  42. Revolution, The Beatles
  43. Only Love Can Break Your Heart, Neil Young
  44. Fly Me To The Moon, Tony Bennett
  45. Gimme Shelter, The Rolling Stones
  46. Wichita Lineman, Glen Campbell
  47. I Want To Hold Your Hand, The Beatles
  48. Carry On, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
  49. On Step Up, Bruce Springsteen
  50. Crossroads, Cream
  51. Here Comes The Sun, The Beatles
  52. Learning To Fly, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers
  53. Tell Me Why? Neil Young
  54. Ride My See-Saw, The Moody Blues
  55. Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters, Elton John
  56. Instant Karma, John Lennon
  57. Eight Miles High, The Byrds
  58. American Tune, Paul Simon
  59. Ol' 55, The Eagles
  60. Bargain, The Who
  61. Blackbird, The Beatles
  62. Badge, Cream
  63. Harmony, Elton John
  64. Prisoner In Disguise, Linda Ronstadt
  65. Day Tripper, The Beatles
  66. Speed Of The Sound Of Loneliness, John Prine
  67. Scarborough Fair/Canticle, Simon and Garfunkel
  68. Under Pressure, Queen and David Bowie
  69. If I Fell, The Beatles
  70. Sultans Of Swing, Dire Straits,
  71. Wandering, James Taylor
  72. The Late Show, Jackson Browne
  73. Let It Rain, Eric Clapton
  74. You Make Loving Fun, Fleetwood Mac
  75. My Back Pages, The Byrds
  76. Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology), Marvin Gaye
  77. Lonesome Town, Ricky Nelson
  78. Ventura Highway, America
  79. To The Morning, Dan Fogelberg
  80. And Your Bird Can Sing, The Beatles
  81. A Song For You, Leon Russell
  82. Without You, Harry Nilsson
  83. Catch The Wind, Donovan
  84. Hello It's Me, Todd Rundgren
  85. Circus, Eric Clapton
  86. Cause We've Ended As Lovers, Jeff Beck
  87. Song For Juli, Jesse Colin Young
  88. Sunny Came Home, Shawn Colvin
  89. Mr. Blue Sky, Electric Light Orchestra
  90. Hello In There, John Prine
  91. I'll Be Back, The Beatles
  92. Sail Away, Randy Newman
  93. Silver Blue, J.D. Souther
  94. Eleanor Rigby, The Beatles
  95. Losing My Religion, REM
  96. The Heart of the Matter, Don Henley
  97. You Can Close Your Eyes, James Taylor and Joni Mitchell
  98. Monday Monday, The Mamas & The Papas
  99. All You Need is Love, The Beatles
  100. Satie: Gymnopedie No. 1, Christopher Parkening

My 100 Songs Playlist

Monday, November 07, 2016

1964, 2016 All the Way

So last Saturday night, I watched the HBO film, All The Way starring the brilliant Bryan Cranston as Lyndon Johnson. The film begins with the Kennedy assignation and Johnson becoming President. As he moves into 1964, Johnson is determined to pass Kennedy's Civil Rights Act and secure his re-election in 1964. I implore you to watch All The Way on HBO GO or DVR before the 2016 presidential election on Tuesday. I'd been meaning to watch it for weeks, but the timing couldn't be better as a must see just before the most important presidential election of our lifetime. Why? Because history is the friend that repeats itself. I couldn't help but transpose the events of 1964 and preventing black people from voting in the South with the current voter suppression tactics still happening in the South in 2016.

The film also breaks down presidential elections which Johnson emphatically describes as, "war." The Goldwater vs Johnson election had two very contrasting choices as the film shows maybe the most powerful political message ever shown on television with the little girl and nuclear bomb ad. As I watched the ad in the movie, I couldn't help but think of our current contrast of candidates between Trump and Clinton and people's fear of Trump's access to the nuclear codes.

So what has this to do with music? Well, there is a scene in the film where Lyndon's youngest daughter, Luci walks past her dad in a White House hall and he stops her with his aides in tow to ask her how she is doing. In the scene, Luci is holding the 1964 album, Meet The Beatles in her arms. Now that struck me how father and daughter are living in the same big house in two very different worlds. The Beatles have landed in America and America is erupting with racial inequality, demonstration and violence. Another scene also grabs me, this time with the Republican Senator, Everett Dirksen and Johnson cajoling him into an eventual compromise to support the 1964 Civil Rights Bill. I'm intrigued by this as our past political leaders demonstrate how real leaders worked together to try to solve our countries problems. Back in the day, Dirksen and Johnson and even Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill didn't have to like each other, but they knew they had to work together to accomplish anything meaningful. I have this hope that we can reclaim some of that old time statesmanship with our future leaders and continue to move our country forward. 

All the while, we have music to soothe our souls. Here's a little 1964/2016 playlist to start your Monday as maybe a little distraction with our very important Tuesday. Please vote. Take care my friends and soak in the sounds. 

Monday, October 31, 2016

Head colds and Werewolves

Sorry, not much of blog to write this week as I'm laying low with a horrific head cold. I'm feeling a bit like a werewolf so here's a little Happy Halloween from the late great Warren Zevon.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Disruptive innovation and taking my Kodachrome away

In May 1973, Paul Simon released There Goes Rhymin' Simon one month before my high school graduation. As mentioned in previous blogs, my good friend, Paul Hobbs, purchased this album and I went over to his house to listen to it like with so many other albums. I loved Rhymin' Simon so much that I in fact, purchased it myself shortly after and continued to burn that vinyl record out during my college years.

My next door neighbor at the time (also previously mentioned in my blogs) was Ron Zieman. In the early 60's his family had moved from Rochester, New York as his dad, Ray was selected by his employer, Eastman Kodak to work at Vandenberg Air Force Base. In 1965, my family moved next door to the Zieman's on Tunnell St. in Santa Maria, CA and started a long-time friendship that endures to this day. During my time with the Zieman family on Tunnell, I began to learn a little about Eastman Kodak as a powerhouse of American manufacturing, not knowing at the time, that the quiet mannered Mr. Zieman worked for Kodak with our Government developing cold war spy satellite technology against the Soviets. Back then, Kodak was literally everywhere.

From being a senior in high school, my girlfriend Mary Kit (also mentioned many times in my music blogs) bought me this very Minolta Hi-Matic F 35mm camera for Christmas in 1973. So as an American consumer, I graduated from buying Kodak Pocket Instamatic 110 cartridges to now buying Kodak 35mm film.

With the popularity of the hit single, Kodachrome which peaked at #2 on the Billboard Charts that June of '73 and with my new camera in hand, I started to buy Kodachrome film. As I began to experience photography, I learned of Kodachrome's color richness properties that made photographs a magical enhancement of real life. Kodachrome 25 and 64 became my go-to film rolls. I also learned that Kodachrome was very popular with professional photographer's. I thought maybe I could get a little closer to their art rubbing off on me by buying the film they used. An interesting fact to There Goes Rhymin' Simon is that Kodak made Columbia Records put the registered trademark symbol (®) after the song's title on the album cover. Paul Simon sold a lot of records with that song not to mention vast quantities of film he sold for Eastman Kodak to kids like me.

In 2003, I remember doing a photo shoot for my friend Bill with his wife and son in their sheep field on Vashon Island in Washington. I was using a Sony digital camera and remember going to the very small and only photographic shop on the island. I was going to get prints made of the shoot and brought in my digital photo card to upload in their new digital photo processor. We could pick out the digital shots we wanted and they would be developed into prints for later pick up. I will never forget the owner who was helping us and complaining the whole time how digital photo technology in general was terrible as nobody was buying film anymore. I remember thinking, this guy is a dinosaur and wondered how long he was going to be in business with his attitude and the changing times. A year or two later, when I was back on the island, I remember looking at that shop as we drove by, it was now a clothing store.

Several weeks ago, I was in my car listening to NPR's Marketplace with Kai Ryssdal as he was doing a story on Kodak and Rochester in a continuing series called, How the Deck is Stacked and this segment titled, Rochester looks to rebuild from the rubble, Can manufacturing save America?. This broadcast caught my attention on two fronts, one, my association with the Zieman's and Kodak and two, I was scheduled to speak at the Leatherstocking Library Conference about 120 miles east of Rochester outside of Syracuse in Vernon, New York. The report was fascinating describing the heyday of the Kodak Park facility in Rochester employing 30,000 local residents.

“You didn’t even have to go to college. You got out of high school and went to Kodak, Delco, Rochester Products, Xerox, Bausch and Lomb and you made $20 an hour. Back in the day, you got out of school, and you could be 18 and move off on your own into an apartment. Today? These kids today? If you don’t have college, those top companies are just not here anymore. My youngest daughter did it the hard way. She found out without college here, there’s only $13-an-hour jobs. If that. She’s still at home, 31, but back to school now to get that degree to get out on her own. There was an article in the paper this past weekend, ‘Oh, middle class America, so many jobs are coming back,’ $12 to $15 an hour. Like, what are you gonna do with $12 to $15 an hour? You cannot live on your own.” from NPR

The NPR piece on Rochester got me thinking about Eastman Kodak and the concept of Disruptive Innovation. "A disruptive innovation is an innovation that creates a new market and value network and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network, displacing established market leading firms, products and alliances. The term was defined and phenomenon analyzed by Clayton M. Christensen beginning in 1995. In the early 2000s, "significant societal impact" has also been used as an aspect of disruptive innovation." from Wikipedia

The demise of the former Eastman Kodak is quite astounding for the fact that Kodak invented the digital camera, yes drum roll... in 1973. I don't expect you to read all my links, but this link just above from the New York Times by James Estrin is a must read and the big idea to this blog. 

Go ahead, you have the time.

Okay, you read the article, so the irony should not be lost on you or me taking photographs of my still intact Minolta Hi-Matic camera above, and my family's vintage Eastman Kodak Folding Autographic Camera below, with my very digital smart phone.

Kodak and their wonderful products like Kodachrome, represent America as the innovative and creative company that helped build this great nation. I'm dismayed when our current political rhetoric reverts back to the glory days of America; yes, we have created and built great things in our history, but it really doesn't need to be beaten into us with fear. Instead, I'm always inspired by our national spirit, not to be longing for the old days and old ways, but moving forward to new days with new technology and products to help us along the journey. Rochester is the story of American manufacturing. Now, how will Rochester and the nation engage our young people to be successful in today's economy? How will our education system create learning innovations to seed new American product innovations in our country?

Here, I'll return to There Goes Rhymin' Simon and Paul's timeless classic, American Tune. The 1973 song speaks of many things gone wrong in the United States at the time. For me during that time, it was social unrest, the Vietnam War and my uncertainty for my future. I was also learning as a young person that life was getting harder for many Americans. I then, in 1973 and now in 2016 take solace as Simon ends the song with-

Still, tomorrow's going to be another working day

And I'm trying to get some rest

That's all I'm trying to get some rest. 

As American's, we have the freedom to let our music sing the truth, we get knocked down, but have the ability to get back up and make our way. As life always balances with things old and new, we can take our adaptive spirit and build upon our new innovations.

As you begin your Monday working day, I wish for you a creative and productive day. Here's a three song playlist from There Goes Rhymin' Simon to start it off.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Springtime for Donald

This past Saturday, MK and I saw The Producers a Mel Brooks Musical at the Spreckels Theater in San Diego. The audience loved the show as we continually laughed our way through this musical romp. Brooks, a Jewish World War II veteran proves the pen is mightier than the sword and skewers Hitler like no other. As I was watching and thinking about the same 1968 classic movie from which the play is adapted, I couldn't help but think about our current political climate. I started to imagine a new Broadway production with the working title of Springtime for Donald.

After coming home from the play, I caught SNL and their latest comedy sketch with Alec Baldwin as The Donald, very funny. This past couple of days, with the daily Donald news of the moment- this time the Billy Bush (so ironic) interview for Access Hollywood, I realized, comedy always pulls us through. After listening to fear mongering tools like Rudy Giuliani as now a Trump surrogate, you can start to mentally put the cast of characters together including Chris Christie as one of the Blue Meanies (from Yellow Submarine).  Of course the star would be Trump already lampooned in various sightings across the country as The Naked Donald.

As a citizen and typically apolitical blog writer, I'm actually very scared that this self-serving egomaniac could actually be elected as our President. So thank you Mel Brooks, John Oliver, Samantha Bee and SNL for making me laugh when the Blue Meanie's of the world are trying to scare the hell out of us and Make America White Again. And now, think of a future Trump musical comedy with Mel's famous send up, Springtime for Hitler and be sure to read the first verse.

Springtime for Hitler 

Germany was having trouble
What a sad, sad story
Needed a new leader to restore
Its former glory
Where, oh, where was he?
Where could that man be?
We looked around and then we found
The man for you and me
Where, oh, where was he?
Where could that man be?
We looked around and then we found
The man for you and me!

Thank you Zero Mostel, Gene Wilder and Kenneth Mars

Monday, October 03, 2016

Vinyl Flashbacks

I might be typical of many boomers who grew up with great music in the 1960's and 70's who've come back around to listen to music again as adults now in their actual 60's and 70's. I remember buying albums for $1.33 (as that figure sticks in my head). I think I purchased George Harrison's All Things Must Pass (3 record set) when it came out in 1970 for $3.99 in a little record shop next to JC Penny's, maybe it was a bit more. Well, into the 80's, I purchased less albums, watched more music on TV and eventually got a CD player. Into the 90's, I purchased less CD's and got caught up in the rat race.

Now, with the empty nest, I have a bit more time to listen to music again as I love the old stuff and love so many new artist's as well. I've also made the time to go to more concerts again and it is simply a blast! My friend and college roommate, Mark Hunter first told me about the music category of Americana as I've now embraced that genre along with traditional genres of rock, folk, blues, bluegrass and jazz as my wheelhouse of music today. Mark and I must have spent hundreds of hours listening to albums together in our dorm and later in our apartments.

As my music blog's tend to go back to the well of my youth, I take my long-term memory here again to fuel this passion. I was so re-minded of that this past weekend on a visit to my home town of Santa Maria, CA and seeing several old friends. After having dinner with Ken and Vicki Forman and Jane Hobbs (Paul was very sick and couldn't make it), we went to Ken and Vicki's home. We were talking about music as usual and Vicki was showing me their CD and then vinyl collection of music. Jane pulled out the 1969 vinyl, Blind Faith album which had our friend Ron Zieman's name on the front and back jacket. I recognized the hand-writing immediately on the back and it sent me into a central coast high. Jane even said, "I think Doug's going into a flashback moment."

So my first flashback -  It's 1969 and I'm sitting on Ron's bed (who's my next door neighbor) and listening to the Blind Faith album with him in his room. Here's the thing about this period in time. When one of our friends bought an album, You might buy it too, because it was so good, but even if it was a great album, you often didn't buy it because you just went over to your friends house and listened to it. I don't remember borrowing albums much, we just listened to each other album's at who's ever house we were at. One time, I remember several members of my youth church group coming over to listen to my new Cat Steven's Tea for the Tillerman album. Tommy Wishard, where are you now?

My second flashback at the Forman's - I'm in a house (can't remember who's) but Ken and Vicki came over and we are listening to one of Dan Fogelberg's albums. I remember Vicki saying at that time how much she loved Dan Fogelberg.

Back to the present, I mention what I just said above and then Vicki brings out all of her Dan Fogelberg vinyl albums. I see his first album, Home Free and it's like seeing an old friend after many years. I touch it and remember it's recycled-like paper texture, kind of like Neil Young's Harvest album jacket.

So I'm back at my mom's house in Santa Maria thinking about writing this blog, my mind suddenly flashes back, I'm over at my friend Bill DeVoe's house. We go into his bedroom that he's just painted black (and I'm thinking, we should be hearing the Rolling Stones). Anyway, he plays me his new Bob Dylan album, New Morning. I remember the song, If Not For You from that album and, it was then recorded shortly thereafter by George on the All Things Must Pass album.

I guess as friends, Bob and George knew a few things about sharing too.

Footnote 1 - In 1978, I go up to see Mark Hunter in Sebastopol CA as he's into doing his elementary education certification program at Sonoma State University. He's living at a farm house with several people but he's actually living in a small wooden shack off from the main house. Nobody's home in the main house, we go in and he takes out one of his roommate's new album's from I'm assuming the roommate's record collection and puts on Dire Straits' debut album. I listen to Sultan's of Swing for the first time and I'm blown away listening to this with my buddy sitting on an oriental rug with lots of animal hair.

Footnote 2 - It's a couple of week ago, I go into Barnes & Noble and see their tiny vinyl shrine to Tower Records. I walk up and start running my fingers through the vinyl jackets just like the old days, my thumb, first and middle finger all working together, flipping the records forward in the bin to find a gem. I stop at Hotel California, pick it up and start the flashback total visual experience of looking at vinyl record jackets even before you listened to what's inside. I look at the little price sticker in the upper right hand corner, $24.95.

Now here's a little Monday Monday Music from each of these albums.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Transistor man, transistor band

Yesterday, I get into my car to go to lunch in Balboa Park with Mary Kit and the radio is already tuned into the Dodger baseball radio station. Now I'm a long-suffering Padre fan since I moved down to San Diego in 1975, but for the last couple of days, I've been trying to savor my last moments of hearing the voice, the beautiful musical voice of Vin Scully.

My memory is transported to 1965. I'm up in my bunk-bed with my brother Steve sleeping below me. I have my hand-held Sony transistor radio (the most popular electronic communication device in history) in bed with me under the covers. I've got the single audio ear piece in my left ear, downside into the pillow facing the wall so my parents can't see the wire. I'm listening to Dodger baseball with Vin calling the play-by-play. I remember Wally Moon's at the plate, Vin's describing the count and simultaneously telling a story about Wally. Crack of the bat, Wally hits a single between the 1st and 2nd base gap as Vinny visually takes you there, Wally rounds first and comes back to the bag. My dad opens the bedroom door to check in on us. I lay perfectly still. Maybe he knows exactly what is going but doesn't say a word and quietly shuts the door.

Now, listen to Vin here at a more recent Giants vs Dodgers game. Don't watch the video, close your eyes and just listen to the master.

Now back to 1965. I'm in my front yard, laying on the grass with my metal roller skates on. I've been skating round the block several times and sweating, need a break. I've got my transistor radio with me and I'm relaxing listening to a local rock 'n roll station through the speaker. My mom calls out through the screen door that it's time for dinner. The Rolling Stones, (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction comes on. I've never heard this song before, it's really good, I instantly like it. I think, I'll want to hear that one some more...

This October 19th at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Mary Kit and I are going to see The Rolling Stones, (for the first time). Satisfaction, is the last encore on the set list. I think they did pretty well with that one.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Harmony and me

Looking through a special souvenir book yesterday, I got this song playing in my head and it goes back to a very happy time in my life. Harmony by Elton John on the 1973 double album, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is Elton on a very high mountain after this incredible streak of albums -

Tumbleweed Connection (1970)
Madman Across the Water (1971)
Honky Château (1972)
Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player (1973)
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973)

Our souvenir book of Elton John's
concert appearances at
Doug Weston's Troubadour
August 25-27, 1975
My girlfriend at the time, Mary Kit just loved Elton John and we got to see him three times together, first at the famous 1973 Hollywood Bowl show and then at the Forum in 1974. In 1975, Mary Kit won tickets where Elton and the band celebrated five years of success in America by preforming a benefit for the Jules Stein Eye Institute at Doug Weston's Troubadour (250 seats) in LA. I'll never forget being at her house when she got the call that she was selected from all the people who entered their names for the drawing. We thought we had won the lottery and yes, we did win the lottery. 

During that incredible show, we spotted Bernie Taupin just to left of us standing by a door. We got up, went over to him as he was surrounded by several girls. Mary Kit marched right up to him and just started talking to him. He spoke to her for several seconds and then gave her a kiss on the cheek. That was a very cool moment. At the time, we had just started our junior year of college at San Diego State University and I had driven us up in my 1968 BMW 1600. This was a very used car I purchased in LA for $800. Anyway, when I got down to San Diego, the clutch started going out. On the trip up to the Troubadour for the concert, it really started going out. We parked it in a lot and went to the show. On the way home, I had to ride the clutch and don't remember ever getting out of 3rd gear. The fog was thick along the coast. I was white knuckled driving thinking the clutch was going to fall out of the engine, couldn't see more than 10 feet in front me and my girl friend is just so very happy on her best date ever!

This past year, Mary Kit and I saw Elton John at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Needless to say,
Harmony and me
We're pretty good company
Looking for an island 
In our boat upon the sea

Monday, September 12, 2016

Under Pressure

School has started up, the boss is not happy, a family member is not doing well, the home improvement project is stalled, your to-do list is growing and you are simply, under pressure. Life does it's ebb and flow, you catch the wave and sometimes the wave catches you.

Today, Monday is a new day, what will it bring, what will you bring to it?

For me, it's Sunday morning, I'm in the shower going over that to-do list in my head thinking, why do I get myself in this hustle-bustle? I should be going to beach, the tourists are gone, I'm retired two years from my day job, what the hell?

I need to go for a walk. So, Mary Kit and I go for walk in our community, we then go to Costco, I watch a little football and my to-do list waits a little longer. Maybe, just maybe I've finally reached a place of peace because my hustle-bustle is mine, I own it. I start to write this blog, it's on my to-do list but music is a passion, so my rule now is passion always comes first. I know, nice to be a retired guy, I worked, I worked for it.

So I'm thinking about the song, Under Pressure by Queen with David Bowie. I'm thinking Freddie Mercury would have been 70 years old last week. I'm thinking David Bowie was a very remarkable person and these two people have left this world. But, they left us with so many wonderful songs, songs that touched our lives. Under Pressure is one of my favorite songs. I started playing the tape of the song in my head while in the shower yesterday and instantly started feeling better. When David Bowie leads the last chorus and the band soars, I think it's one of the most inspiring verses in rock and I get the tingle feeling every time I hear it.

I have no idea about your Monday, I wish you a prosperous one. I hope this song helps kick-start your work day.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Johnnyswim New Music Monday

In continuing my married musical couple's theme from last week's blog, Familial Brew with the Tedeschi Trucks Band, I just discovered a new band (to me) called Johnnyswim. I was watching a 2014 rerun of Daryl's House when Daryl Hall had Johnnyswim's Amanda Sudano and Abner Ramirez on Episode 65. I instantly liked Johnnyswim because Abner and Amanda are complementary singers who play off each other with a natural grace and respect. They also just look like a great couple having the time of their lives not to mention they just had a baby boy, Joaquin born in 2015.

As I was looking at their website and then YouTube Channel, I noticed they do a live video on Monday's called New Music Monday whenever they have a new song they just have written or just want share. Well, Johnnyswim, welcome to Monday Monday Music! So hey, I'm just a little copacetic with this duo as we got it going here on Monday morning.

So here is my Johnnyswim Youtube playlist as I love their positive energy together, not to mention they know how to kick off your Monday. Pre-order their new album, Georgica Pond.

Also, if you're wondering about their name, I think you'll enjoy this brief explanation from Abner that I got from the Johnnyswim Wikipedia page. Ramirez has joked that the name Johnnyswim comes from an anecdote about Sudano's childhood pet, a goldfish name Johnny. When the fish died, he floated to the top of his bowl and Sudano's mother tried to dispose of before Sudano found out. However, Sudano walked in and cried out,"No wait - he's alive! Johnny, swim!" From Wikipedia. Also interesting to note that Amanda Sudano's mom is the late Donna Summer.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Familial Brew with the Tedeschi Trucks Band

This Saturday, September 3rd, I'm going to see the Tedeschi Trucks Band as the band stops in at Copley Symphony Hall in San Diego on their current tour. On September 4th, they play in Avila Beach, so just letting all my family and friends on the central coast know about it. I can't wait to see Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks as the power couple who managed to bring their personal and musical lives even closer together after their marriage in 2001. With the birth of their two children, it seemed natural to merge their two separate bands in 2010 and create one of the best Blues band going today.

I can't explain it, but every time I watch video of this band and see the interaction between Susan and Derek, I get emotional. Many times they are not even looking at each other, but you feel their love together with their full-band sound of guitars, horns, organ, double drum kits and fantastic backup singers. It's a hybrid lineup of musicians brought together from years on the road and this group is simply, family.
I just ordered their new album, Let Me Get By and here it is on Amazon if you want to order it.

Here is my new YouTube Tedeschi Trucks Band Playlist. Enjoy!