Monday, July 27, 2020

50 Years of Music • July, 1970




See resent crash lower right corner
Source - Noozhawk.com
July 1970, at 15 I'm still too young to drive, but I've got friend Gary Hill a few years older who could borrow the family station wagon and we are off to the beach or getting our kicks on Route 166. I remember going out to the towering bridge on 166 east of Santa Maria, CA where we used to walk directly underneath the bridge girders on a narrow wood  plank and single steel cable rail walkway (most likely used for maintenance work). One time, Paul Hobbs and I started on one end of the bridge and Jeff McCarthy and Gary started on the other. We raced towards the middle, gracefully passing each other on the single plank using the cable rail and then sped to the other end. The first group back up on the road were the winners. Jeff and Gary beat us handily. Just a few years later, I drove out to that same bridge to do the walk under the bridge, and I was terrified. Yes, good ol' terror can actually keep you alive!

In my research this week for albums released in July, 1970 three strong albums perked up my memory listening to these albums fifty years ago.

Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR) made five albums from 1968-1970 and were one of my wife's favorite bands during that period. When Cosmo's Factory was released in July of 1970, it could have been called, John Fogerty's Hit Factory for the sheer number of hits from that album alone. CCR is often called, swamp rock even though the band was from the San Francisco Bay Area and not the south. CCR never got the 'cool' brand like other Bay area bands like Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, or Quicksilver Messenger Service, and some rock 'n' roll critics dismissed them. But for me, CCR was pure 'three cords and the truth' that differed from the live jam groups of that era. My personal taste today reverts back to the CCR sound and think they actually hold up better fifty years later than many bands from the 60's and 70's. I often think of CCR and Booker T. and the MG's in the same breathe, simple tunes that just hook you for life. I will also say, that John Fogerty didn't write pop drivel lyrics, he covered social injustice topics and the Vietnam War like few other hit making bands of that era. A couple years ago, I got tickets to see John Fogerty in Las Vegas a day after seeing (and being a bit disappointed with) a very famous act the night before. John Fogerty made my trip and I will say, "he blew that room away."

The James Gang rides again is the second album by the band James Gang as everybody gets introduced to Joe Walsh and his mastery of electric guitar through the hit Funk #49. Listening to this album after so many years, I was thinking maybe there are a couple more good songs here besides Funk #49. Well this album also holds up very well after fifty years, and I found several more to make the playlist this week.

1970 found the band Traffic together again after Steve Winwood had left the band in 1969 to form Blind Faith with Eric Clapton. When Clapton left Blind Faith after their first album and tour, Winwood then planned to make a solo album in 1970. After bringing in Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood to work on the solo project, he decided to scrub that and get Traffic back together again with the boys and thus, John Barleycorn Must Die was born and released in July. Listening to the entire album again was a treat, and as I have said many times in this blog, just another quality album purchased by my friend Ron Zieman and consumed by our young ears from his portable record player in his bedroom.

This week's playlist is formed by the three albums with a song from each album and then interjected with a July 1970 song by The Doors, Yes, Humble Pie, The Stooges, and Fairport Convention. Then, I finish it off with the rest of Cosmo's Factory, because I'm just diggin' CCR today!

Enjoy, and stay well my friends.



The Santa Maria Riverbed, just before you reach Route 166 heading north on the 101.

Monday, July 20, 2020

The Jayhawks new album: XOXO



The Jayhawks, an 'almost famous' band that you may or may not have heard of was formed in 1985 by the original singer-songwriter duo of Gary Louris and Mark Olson. Olson has quit the band a couple of different times, the last being in 2012.

The Jayhawks have been called alt rock, alt country, Americana, etc. I think they are simply a great rock 'n' band band and probably my current favorite band since their release of Paging Mr. Proust in 2016. Over the years, The Jayhawks have grown a nice fan base without a radio format hit to propel them to 'famous' status. That being said, they have the respect of many musicians and bands like Wilco who came later and have themselves received greater acclaim by the music establishment. Rolling Stone put it best in this recent article by Jonathan Bernstein: 35 Years Into a Career, the Jayhawks Remain Americana’s Most Underappreciated Band.

Yeah I'm a real 'johnny come lately' to follow this great band but that's part of my rock 'n' roll back story: saving my soul in the 60's and 70's, losing my way in the 80's through early 2000's, and then becoming reborn again to music upon my retirement from my day job in 2014. I started my Monday Monday Music blog in January, 2015 to explore music more deeply, and give myself a weekly writing assignment to improve my writing.

The Jayhawks are a perfect example of discovering a band that took me back to my 1960's rock 'n' roll roots, and as an enduring band, continue to evolve their music from a multitude of rock influences to create new music now into 2020. New music that in fact embodies my specific personal taste and blend of rock 'n' roll Americana, like no other band.

The latest iteration of The Jayhawks have in my opinion a perfect band makeup: a harmony of voices, a woman singer in the band, keyboards, and a four member group with a democracy in song writing spread across an album.

The Jayhawks:
Gary Louris – Vocals/Guitar
Marc Perlman - Bass 
Karen Grotberg – Vocals/Keyboards 
Tim O’Reagan – Vocals/Drums/Guitar

The new album XOXO, is literally 'hugs and kisses' to their loyal fan base. The front jacket cover art alone is made to order for Monday Monday Music. One sees a teenage girl in the early to mid-sixties listening to her favorite albums spread out on the carpet. It made me imagine as the oldest child in my family- 'what if' I had had an older sister, one who would expose me to her record collection at a very early age and show me the way...

In prepping for this blog, I got interested in Gary Louris by watching his live streaming pandemic show called, The Sh*t Show with Gary Louris (a feature of last week's blog). I started thinking, I bet Gary's sixty-five. That's ten years younger than all those great rock 'n' roll musicians born in the mid-1940's and just old enough to fully absorb Beatlemania and the British Invasion. Sure enough Gary Louris was born March 10, 1955, sixteen days older than me (and fun fact, both of us being a few months older than Bill Gates and a few days younger than Steve Jobs, boy I'm pretty small potatoes compared to these birth year classmates).

Here's a nice quote from the Joel Bernstein article about Louris- “Gary is just a consummate creator of melody,” says Jayhawks fan M.C. Taylor, who records as Hiss Golden Messenger. “His music sounds like he has spent a lifetime listening to the way melody and harmony work on our emotions, but he never sounds like he’s copying anyone.”

I'll finish here with a little more resource info on the band that you might enjoy as I leave you with both the new audio album and accompanying videos for XOXO. I recommend you listen to the audio album first, just like the old days sitting on the carpet, and before the internet video tubes and stuff. Stay well my friends!

Quick History of the Band:
The Jayhawks' "New Day": How The Americana Pioneers Overcame Decades Of Turbulence And Became Full Collaborators by Morgan Enos | Grammys

Album Review:
The Jayhawks - XOXO by Kate Papadopoulos | mxdwn

Jayhawks Official Website:
The Jayhawks Story
XOXO available for purchase

XOXO (Album audio) on Youtube -
Oh boy this is a good one. Best album of 2020, so far.
Also three bonus tracks included in my playlist!



XOXO And Recent Videos on Youtube


Monday, July 13, 2020

Live Streaming Music Shows In The Time Of Coronavirus

Before I jump into this week's theme, I want to quickly revisit a blog I did in my- In The Time Of Coronavirus series called, Outdoor Exercise In The Time of Coronavirus: Who was that Masked Man? Here's an update on the subject of mask wearing now that Trump is officially the last man on earth to wear a mask during coronavirus, and as if it's like the second coming of the baby Jesus. Geez, it's only been four+ months as my almost three year grandson even knows the phrase, "mask up". So Trump finally manned up and masked up, so how 'bout trying on the Darth Vader mask next week Donald, great photo op eh?

Meanwhile, California coronavirus numbers are spiking, but I finally do see a change happening in the beautiful exercise land of San Diego as more people are finally wearing masks, but obviously only because of this spike.

Here's my estimated observations since I wrote the blog May 11th with people exercising in my neighborhood of Tierrasanta while wearing a mask:

  • Walkers in May - 50% • July - 80% (lifetime walkers figure stuff out while walking, that's why they live the longest)
  • Runners in May - 10% • July - 20% (my peeps have let me so down)
  • Bicyclists in May - 0% • July - 1% (has the spandex just made them totally indifferent or totally stupid?)
Also, more men are wearing masks since May, including actually wearing the bandana mask instead of it just being a new cowboy fashion statement around the neck. However, the woman walker on the trail is still without a mask, still pulling her shirt up over her face and turning her back to me on the trail, and now I would completely miss it if she ever did anything different upon my arrival.

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Now onto Live streaming music shows.

As you've probably noticed live music shows are booming on social media these days as artists and bands perform for charity, album promotion, or just connecting with fans @home during coronavirus. Most live streaming shows are over an hour, so what I tried to do this week was provide a number of different music shows to choose from (but please knock yourself out if you want to hear them all).

I love NPR Music Tiny Desk Concerts and kind of landed there this week finding new 'Home' shows from 2020. Tiny Desk Concerts typically range from 14 - 20 minutes or so, and that unscripted time format is just one reason why this show is so popular on the Internet.

I have also picked some select song clips from live shows and have sprinkled them throughout including, Live From Here with Chris Thile another of my favorite shows, but sadly just cancelled due to coronavirus. During the pandemic Chris created #livefromhome, I feature several songs here.

Stay well and enjoy my friends. And hey, 'parallel worlds collide' with Ringo and my mom sharing the same birth date, July 7th. Happy Birthday mom and Ringo!

Live Stream Deli Menu 


























































Monday, July 6, 2020

Top 10 Albums • January - June • 2020



Okay, I say I'm an album guy but most of my blogs focus on individual songs. This week I'll be backing up my talk with my list of the most impressive new album releases in this first half of 2020. I'm even going to rate them 1-10 which is something I normally don't do. It is also no surprise to me that I have picked five albums by females and five by males not by design, but for the fact that women in music today make up half if not more of the great music being created today.

Making an album of typically 9-12 strong songs has always been a tall order for any artist or band. On any good album there are maybe three outstanding tracks that jump off the needle. The trick is getting the listener to come back and listen to the rest of the tracks that always seem to get better the more you do come back. After several listens, these 'deeper cuts' suck you in and the whole thing just comes together into a cohesive unit. You then tell your friends about the album. In your long-term memory, you'll even remember (sometimes fifty years later) the time and place where you shared that album with a friend.

I hope you can make the time this week to listen to one or more albums here, start to finish. Maybe there's even a new favorite to add to your collection.

Stay well and enjoy my friends.

1. Sarah Jarosz • Review: World On The GroundPurchase




2. Bob Dylan • Review: Rough And Rowdy Ways Purchase




3. Nora JonesReview: Pick Me Up Off The Floor Purchase




4. Hiam • Review: Women In Music Pt. IIIPurchase




5. Ayla Brook & The Soundmen • Review: Desolation Sounds • Purchase




6. James Elkington • Review: Ever Roving EyePurchase




7. Shelby Lynne • Review: Shelby LynnePurchase




8. Tomar & The FCs • Review: Rise Above • Purchase




9. Christian Lee Hutson • Review: BeginnersPurchase




10. Sarah Siskind • Review: Modern AppalachiaPurchase