Monday, July 25, 2016

Transcendental Good Morning

On my trail run, songs inevitably start playing in my head that often begin the spark of a blog idea as I jog in the dirt alongside the brush and Eucalyptus trees. From suburban sidewalks and street traffic, I arrive at a greenbelt trail head that starts my hour routine of movement and solitary thought. I've come to cherish this time and call it, my moving meditation.

I almost always run in the morning with a Good Day Sunshine start to my day. On some days, if I get an early start, I will see no one on the trail. On other days, I will encounter my regular group of strangers that have a similar walking, running or biking route to me and I see all the time.  This is a public access community trail and I also see a lot of new strangers as well. What I find fascinating (enough to write a blog about), is the spectrum of social skills when I encounter people especially in the close proximity of this winding trail. In fact, I believe there is a Murphy's Law of trail running, as it seems you're most likely to encounter an oncoming person (usually with their dog) at the narrowest parts of the path.

So, using my greeting skills, I initiate a hardy, "Good morning", "Hello", "Hi" (at least 90% of the time). To my regular trail pedestrians, I sometimes throw in a "Howdy" or something like, "Hey, isn't this just a great day!" I would say that people respond back, roughly 80% of the time. So one day, I decided to add a couple of visual prompts to my greeting by also waving "hi" coupled with a big smile. Over time, this has raised the percentage of non responses to now most people giving a verbal response or at least, a parroting hand wave back.

This past week was typical. I said to a couple of regulars I see every week on their daily walk, "Stay cool" (as temperatures are getting in the 90's here), this was followed by.....crickets. Then, about a mile up the trail, a woman initiates, "Good Morning" with a wave and big smile. I happily respond back, but the smile stays on my face for several more seconds as we pass. She has that morning sunshine beaming in her and she beamed it right at me, simply wonderful.

 You see, we're having fun being on this trail, enjoying life with some of the best weather on earth (in San Diego). But often and I mean often, I encounter disengaged, grumpy, too busy to look away from their phone people, or the classic straight ahead stare of avoidance with the oncoming me in their path.

Now I'm not going to ever be remembered as starting world peace here, but I think it's important to express a positive attitude when encountering strangers, even if the result is- it makes only me feel positive in that moment. But just maybe in my dirt travels, I snapped a few people out of their funk. Maybe someone is taking a walk to get out of a funk and suddenly a welcoming Mr. Sun just runs by. I know, no big deal. But in our current times where intolerance is making an overt cultural comeback, we need to employ the power of kindness and respect to one another. The power of "Good morning" is the power of the sun as the two dance together in a simple exchange to connect with people on the human highway.

On three occasions on the trail, I've stopped one of my regular strangers and introduced myself. When we now see each other, we stop and talk for a couple minutes just to ask each other, "How ya been?" I now have three people who have moved up from the regular stranger category to the, "Good Morning Tony", "Good Morning Martin" and "Good Morning John" acquaintance status.

The first video below is a Ted Talk by Ali Ghambara. I meet Ali through my buddy Bill DeVoe on Cherry St. (outside of Ali's coffeehouse) in downtown Seattle on one fine morning this past spring. He greeted us with an enthusiastic, "Good morning" and we all had a brief street conversation together. I still remember his body language and hand shake expressing that it was good to meet and connect, he meant it.

Hope you can take the time to listen to Ali's talk and then listen to my Transcendental Good Morning Playlist, it is guaranteed to start your Monday off on a positive note.

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Rides and Stephen Stills being one of the best band mates ever!

The Rides are a kicking Blues band with Stephen Stills, Kenny Wayne Shepard and Barry Goldberg (on keyboards). Stills from Florida and Louisiana and Shepard from Louisiana bring a tradition of Delta Blues along with a complementary sharing of lead and rhythm guitar duties. The two are a powerful combination as they both play off each with mutual respect.

You have to hand it to Stephen for being the elder star here as he equally shares the stage with grace and style in a trio totally in sync with one another.

Can't Get Enough - Amazon
Pierced Arrow - Amazon
MK and I saw The Rides on June 1st of this year at the Balboa Theatre. This is a great old palace in downtown San Diego that was built in 1924. We had also seen David Crosby earlier this year at the Balboa and love the acoustics as David's voice was built for the place. Anyway, I love The Rides first two albums and what a pure delight to see them live at this venue and, see Stephen having such a great time!

Growing up, Stephen Stills was always one of my favorite musicians with a spectacular career in two of the most iconic bands in rock 'n roll history. Buffalo Springfield is one of the first bands that really grabbed my attention to "stop, children what's that sound" and listen to a unique band that just ended much too soon. Their second album, Buffalo Springfield Again is the first album I ever bought myself (with my paper route money, along with Jimi Hendrix's Are You Experienced). Then, the long ride with CSN and CSNY. His solo career with Stephen Stills, Stephen Stills 2 and Manassas are just great memories of music in high school.

Like many musicians whom became famous in the 1960's and 70's, it is nice to see artists like Stephen Stills still creating new music. You also come to recognize from the greats is their ability to be a collaborator, as their art and participation contributes to making a successful whole band album. Stills embodies this collaborative spirit and thus is one of the greatest band mates of all-time. This is also an inspiration for me personally, in that we all can keep on creating new things with new people and have fun at the same time. Look at Stephen's smile here in the studio with Barry and Kenny Wayne, that says it all.

Enjoy my playlist, The Rides.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Cirque du Soleil’s The Beatles Love 2.0

In 2006, Cirque du Soleil under the direction of Dominic Champagne opened Love at the Mirage in Las Vegas. The show was written and directed by Champagne with musical direction by Sir George Martin and son, Giles Martin. Many of my close friends and family including Mary Kit and I, have created our own little mecca, in that we have made the pilgrimage to the Mirage many times to experience the show.

It has been ten years since the opening and Giles Martin and Dominic Champagne have a nice surprise for all the faithful as they have been working on a refresh of the original production for sometime now. Read this article by Robin Leach as Major changes at Cirque’s ‘The Beatles Love’ are two years in the making.

With the passing of George Martin in March of this year, "the 5th Beatle" who produced, composed, conducted and collaborated with The Beatles on all their original works, Giles continues his father's legacy as he carries the torch and keeps the lads fresh and in our hearts.

This Thursday, July 14th, Ringo, Paul with Olivia Harrison and Yoko Ono Lennon return to the Mirage to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the show and experience the latest version. If you have tickets to that show you are one lucky (or connected) individual! Mary Kit and I already have our tickets for an October pilgrimage where we will also see the Rolling Stones at the new T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, not to mention Ron White also at the Mirage. Ron White actually has a really funny bit that he does in his Netflix special about seeing Love (being a Mirage VIP and all).

7/15/16 update - Here is a review after the 7/14 show by Rolling Stone magazine,
Beatles' 'Love' at 10: Paul, Ringo and Friends Celebrate Revamped Show

Here is a short playlist to wet your whistle for the new show and a trailer for the new Ron Howard documentary in September, Eight Days A Week - The Touring Years (LA Times), that chronicles the boys touring days from 1962-66.

Monday, July 04, 2016

Mudcrutch, Tom Petty's Back to the Future Band

"Mudcrutch was formed in 1970 by Tom Petty and Tom Leadon, who had been playing together in a band called the Epics. Mudcrutch's lineup consisted of Tom Petty (bass and vocals), Tom Leadon (guitar and vocals), Jim Lenehan (lead vocals), Randy Marsh (drums) and Mike Campbell (guitar). Leadon and Lenehan left the band in 1972 and were replaced by bassist/guitarist/vocalist Danny Roberts. Keyboardist Benmont Tench also joined the band. Ricky Rucker was a part of the band for a short time. Mudcrutch served as the house band at Dub's Lounge in its hometown of Gainesville, Florida.

Depot Street vinyl, signed by Mike Campbell
In 1974, Mudcrutch signed with Shelter Records and re-located to Los Angeles, California. The band released one single, "Depot Street" in 1975, which failed to chart. After Danny Roberts left the group, Petty invited Charlie Souza to take over on bass guitar and the band continued recording in Leon Russell's Tulsa Studio, and later at Leon's Encino California home. The band's record company broke them up in late 1975. Petty, Campbell and Tench went on to form The Heartbreakers in 1976 with fellow Gainesville natives Stan Lynch and Ron Blair.[1]"  From Wikipedia

Now jump to the summer of 2016 as Mudcrutch just played and closed their tour here in San Diego, last Thursday (6/30/16) at Humphreys by the Bay. I missed the show but it looked and sounded great from the YouTube videos (with much thanks to s2seltaeb and BlissTanger YouTube Channels).
Album at Amazon
Mudcrutch isn't a household name like Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers and a lot of people don't know anything about this old/new band. I think they've keep this laid back approach intentional with little network television promotion pumping them up. They aren't doing this reunion and tour for the money and fame. This is about the music and it being played live in smaller venues
to a core group of dedicated fans.
Album at Amazon
I just got the Mudcrutch 2 album last week and love it. I also love this album cover and had to order a t-shirt replica online. The band and the album give you that early 70's mix of rock 'n roll, country and blues like so many bands were doing at the time that I just ate up as a teenager. I don't know if they recorded this album using older analog audio equipment like some bands are doing again, but it has that sound that says, 1971 is calling and wants you to listen to this.
So take a look and listen to my Mudcrutch Playlist below as I've collected music videos from the first 2008 album plus #2 and a few bonus concert covers too. Enjoy my friends.