Showing posts with label 2019. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2019. Show all posts

Monday, December 23, 2019

My Favorite Songs of 2019



I'm just an album guy at heart. If I like an artist or band I tend to like more than one song on the album. So it's really about my favorite albums of the year, and the 100 songs I have chosen here are mostly grouped with at least two or more of what I think are premium cuts of songs from the same album.

My favorite song of 2019 is There Goes My Miracle by Bruce Springsteen from his Western Stars album. Bruce once said that with his plain voice and looks he better be a damn good songwriter if he was going to make it in the music business. I think his vocals have actually improved over the years as Bruce works so hard in everything he does. His vocal on There Goes My Miracle got the hairs on the back of my neck to attention the first time I heard the song. I think the song's a masterpiece of writing, arrangement and a simply fantastic vocal that drives the emotion of the song.

Another song that got me literally tinkling with pure joy was Street Song by The Who from their just released album, WHO. Street Song is an instant classic in my mind because Pete Townshend throws in a little bit of everything that you would associate with the sound of the band in the 1970's. Roger Daltrey's vocal is outstanding, but the thing that brought tears to my eyes when I first heard it (very loudly in my earphones), was Zak Starkey's (son of Ringo) drumming. Zak doesn't imitate his godfather Keith Moon, but the spirit of Keith just came back like a wave through Zak's drumming! Keith Moon is in fact my favorite drummer of all-time because of his unique double tom-toms sound that just rolls like no other in rock. In the 1970's, you could be in any car with crappy speakers and a song from Who's Next would come on the radio and you could hear Keith's drumming just like it was making the car hum down the road.

2019 goes down as the year the 'California Sound' made a comeback. Composers such as Burt Bacharach and Jimmy Webb come to mind that hark back to a time and sound of great songwriting combined in pop with sweeping orchestrations and in rock 'n' roll with great harmony and electric guitars blending with acoustic guitars.

In Western Stars, Bruce embodies Bacharach and Webb and channels Wichita Lineman. In the folk rock documentary, Echo in the Canyon, Jakob Dylan does a similar exploration of groups like The Byrds as the California Sound evolved from beach music to folk rock. Both albums are peppered through my favorites playlist this year.

I have to mention, Dan Auerbach. First for his producing Yola Carter's Walk Through Fire a vocal tour de force by the young British singer-songwriter. Her song, Lonely the Night takes me back to mid-60's English pop like Dusty Springfield and is a must listen. Second, Dan reunites with Patrick Carney and The Black Keys to make a great rock album also featured here and aptly titled, Let's Rock.

Album making is hard work combined with the talent to pull it off. It's a special magic to write, sing, play, and produce 10 or so songs woven together as an album and out into the world. A good album is a great find, a great album is a treasure for life.

So here's 100 songs I really liked this year and mixed together to represent some good and great albums by some fine rock 'n' rollers and Americana musicians in 2019. Enjoy my friends and here's to more great music in 2020!


Monday, December 02, 2019

Christmas Mix 2019 - Going Home

Christmas Mix:  2015 • 2016 • 2017 • 2018 • 2019 • 2020

This is the 5th anniversary of my Christmas Mix Playlist! I've linked all the previous mixes right here, so you'll be covered for the holidays. As always, my Christmas Mix is a blend of traditional and non-traditional music because after 60+ years of listening to Bing and Nat, ya gotta mix it up.

I remember Paul Simon talking about the song Kodachrome many years ago and his inspiration for writing the song was not photography but rather the sound of the phrase 'going home,' now say, "Kodachrome," and there's another hit from Rhymin' Simon. If there ever was a color film for the holidays, it was Kodachrome. It was my film of choice until this digital stuff took over...

One of the central themes of Christmas is in fact, going home. Children have Santa with all the presents under the Christmas tree, but adults get a holiday theme too- the loneliness, and/or longingness to be back home with family, friends, and possibly that one person you love more than anything.

Since vinyl records became popular in the 1940's, songwriters have created countless hits using the 'going home' theme. In 1943 and in the middle of World War II, Bing Crosby's hit, I'll Be Home For Christmas was written for the soldiers longing to be home at Christmas. It remains today a Christmas standard sung by countless singers that still can elicit tears... I'll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams.

McKee Anderson DeVoe
Here's a current shout out to McKee Anderson DeVoe who just graduated from Marine Boot Camp down here in San Diego at MCRD and is currently stationed at Camp Pendleton. Mary Kit and I attended the ceremony with his proud dad Bill and his family, and we all wish him the best in the days, months and years ahead as a proud Marine!

This past week I headed up the coast to my OG hometown, Santa Maria, CA. I spent Thanksgiving with my mom, brother and sisters in the house we all lived in growing up. It was nice for all of us to be back together again under the same roof on Tunnell Street. I'll be home for Christmas this year in San Diego with my girls and grandkids. I cherish everyday with all my family spread out across California and Washington.

Happy Holidays to all , and may your days be filled with good spirits and cheer wherever you are!

Also, a very special Merry Christmas wish to Ray Zieman who is in his 95th year and truly one of the finest human beings on the planet. Ray spent his career at Kodak and did some incredible top secret work with the military for Kodak at Vandenberg Air Force Base to keep our country safe. Merry Christmas Ray, Ron and Retta too!

Yesterday's sunrise on the mystical 'Ventura Highway' just out of Santa Barbara, going home to San Diego.




Monday, October 07, 2019

Catch & Release @ the River of Music Streams July-October, 2019



UPDATE 10/28/19 - I have added songs to the playlist from new albums released by:
Neil Young, The Milk Carton Kids, Illiterate Light, Lana Del Rey, Green Day, No Vacation, Allison Moorer, Boy & Bear, The Cowsills and more, so check it out.

I have been so preoccupied with music from 1969 that I thought I'd better get back in tune with music happening now. After playing a little listening catch up since July (with a few albums released earlier this year), I now have a list of 80 songs from some great new albums.

In making a 'New Releases Playlist', I hit the music streaming services to cast and catch songs with the confidence of the Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of our lives ear for Rock 'n' Roll and Americana.

This trip, my recent catch includes-

Jeremy Ivey's debut solo album, The Dream and the Dreamer (on Amazon) is my big fish catch for this playlist. The album produced by wife and collaborator Margo Price is a wonderful delight of songs. To learn more about Jeremy read the Rolling Stone article by Joseph Hudak, At 41, Jeremy Ivey Scoffs at Age on His Debut Album.

My metaphor of fishing for songs is a joke with myself as I hated fishing from an early age with the boredom and lack of movement involved for a fidget spinner like me. But when you listen to a song that gives you that back neck goosebump tingle excitement it's like the feeling of a fish striking your line, bending the ol' fishing pole and reelin' em in. To top all this off, Jeremy's got a great song on the album and included in my playlist (#59) called Story of a Fish. Sometimes the blog just writes itself...

Bailen, a sibling band that includes twin brothers, Daniel on bass, David on drums, and younger sister Julia on guitars. Julia is probably identified as the lead singer, but what sets them apart from many young groups today is their detail for harmony.

Their debut album, Thrilled to be here (on Amazon) has so many wonderful songs carefully crafted with harmony that I was just began adding most to this playlist. I can't tell you how many albums I listen to that have so little spark from one song to the next. I was thrilled and look forward to more of their songs in the future.

Liam Gallagher's second solo album Why Me? Why Not. (on Amazon) answers his own question with his usual growl look and parka to go against some of the catchiest pop songs since well, Oasis. I can't help but like this guy and hope he and brother Noel can some day bury the hatchet together and just get along.

And speaking of siblings, The Avett Brothers new album Closer than Tomorrow (on Amazon) plays to a strength of the brothers commitment and moral center as humans, family, and bandmates. You can't help but feel along with producer Rick Rubin that these guys care are about what's going on in their community and country. Their unique style is why the genre of Americana came to be in the last couple of decades because bands like the Avett Brothers were not exactly folk, rock, country or bluegrass, but a mix of everything. Like the albums above, I just kept adding their new songs to the playlist.

There's also a lot of new single or double songs from a number of artists in the YouTube Playlist this week. Over time, I hope you can listen to the whole thing including new albums to come in the weeks ahead from The Milk Carton Kids, and The Who (who as for the later, I'll be seeing on October 16th at San Diego State).

Enjoy my friends, and sorry Paul, I didn't have time to make a Spotify Playlist (so far) this week.


Monday, September 16, 2019

John Mayer - SDSU 9/11/19

Photo by Matthew Rea | SDSU Viejas Arena, 9/11/19
The first thing you notice about John Mayer's current Summer Tour stop in San Diego is the PA music before the concert, all 80's music. For a classic generation rock 'n' roller like me it's a subtle, "I'm glad you're here but my peeps are your children."

In fact, John Mayer's maturation from teen idol with screaming girls, to a large diverse audience of college kids, millennials, and gray hairs all screaming is a reflection of his setlist- an eclectic mix of singer-songwriter acoustic and electric guitar magic. Viejas Arena never sounded so good. If your mindset about John Mayer is stuck in a early 2000's tabloid magazine, please snap out of it.

I believe John Mayer is one of the best examples of an artist who may in fact be the definitive BRIDGE of rock 'n' roll from people like me who attended SDSU in the 70's to the current crop of students I saw at Mayer's concert last week. I knew John was going to perform his electric guitar mastery because I've been listening and watching him the last decade, but what really got me excited were the kids.

I stood with the entire arena that moved like a gentle wave to Mayer's set delivering the Blues, R&B, Funk, Folk and Rock 'n' Roll to a generation of young people that rocked to his groove. In a time where the "thump, thump" of DJ electronic club music is the default, it's good to see this generation of young people embrace an artist who writes contemporary music for them with a tune lineage from folks that carry Stratocasters. This won't be my last John Mayer concert, and along with fellow artists like Gary Clark Jr., I'll be going to rock 'n' roll shows for years to come.

My playlist this week are the 24 songs John performed at the SDSU show. Enjoy my friends!

Here's my John Mayer - SDSU 9/11/19 Setlist Playlist on Spotify.

Here's my John Mayer - SDSU 9/11/19 Setlist Playlist on YouTube.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Woodstock- August 1969 and 2019, 50 Years of Music

Original Woodstock Poster
Update Monday August, 26, 2019 - Netflix has posted the PBS American Experience Film, Woodstock: Three Days that Defined a Generation. I watched it last night and highly recommend!

Woodstock was a music festival held August 15–18, 1969, which attracted an audience of more than 400,000. Billed as "an Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music", it was held at Max Yasgur's 600-acre dairy farm in Bethel, New York, 43 miles (70 km) southwest of Woodstock. It was alternatively referred to as the Bethel Rock Festival or the Aquarian Music Festival. Thirty-two acts performed outdoors despite sporadic rain. It has become widely regarded as a pivotal moment in popular music history, as well as the definitive nexus for the larger counterculture generation. Wikipedia

My thoughts on Woodstock 50 years later are similar to the millions of people who wished they would have been there- it was one of the greatest "one-offs" in the history of mankind. Woodstock should have been a disaster, but in its totality was a wonderfully unique event in time.

The big 50th Anniversary concert promoted by original Woodstock co-founder, Michael Lang tried his best this round, but the big festival was recently cancelled, and in my thinking probably for the better. Like the disastrous, Woodstock '99, it just wasn't meant to be. 

Max Yasgur
1969 @ Woodstock/his farm
However, in the town of Bethel, New York, the original site at Max Yasgur's dairy farm something wonderful happened this past weekend. A Woodstock anniversary concert was held there and no national news organizations seemed to be reporting on it as of my Saturday 8/17 draft of this blog, other than the regional Poughkeepsie Journal. Considering our times, and with a much smaller crowd, nothing happened other than peace and music.

I'm just now learning and about the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts • Site of the 1969 Woodstock Festival. This past weekend, they quietly put on a great show! I guess it doesn't matter if I'm 14 or 64, I'm still a day late and dollar short finding about concerts after the fact.

Well here's a little playlist of Woodstock-
somethings old-
  • Max Yasgur, the conservative Republican was the hero of Woodstock. Without Mr. Yasgur saving the day and allowing the Woodstock promoters to use his natural theater farm fields, Woodstock would not have happened, or happened as it turned out on Yasgur's Farm.
  • So you didn't see Woodstock live August 15-18, 1969, but a lot of young people like me watched Dick Cavett on August 19, 1969. Guests included Joni Mitchell (who was not at Woodstock), Jefferson Airplane, Stephen Stills and David Crosby who were at Woodstock. I love when Stephen shows off his Woodstock mud from his jeans. Where was Graham Nash? (He was there but off camera because his visa wouldn't allow him to do TV in America at the time.)
  • Joni Mitchell singing her song Woodstock, in 1970 on the BBC.
  • Some Woodstock moments in time...
 and somethings new-
  • The 2019 Woodstock lineup at Bethel Woods included- John Fogerty, Arlo Guthrie, Santana, Ringo Starr and His Allstar Band, Tedeschi Trucks Band, The Doobie Brothers, and Edgar Winter. It would have been fun to be there. From the Poughkeepsie Journal, I watched a couple on video who said they were 14 and in Junior High, living in the region, and their parents wouldn't dare let them go to the original at that age. They were there this time to soak it all in live, and with some perspective. I like to think they represented me...
  • I could only find live video of Ringo... I have interviews with John Fogerty and Arlo.
  • and, look what they have done with the place! If you get a chance, go to the Bethel Woods story link above and the Poughkeepsie Journal stories with videos.
  • The 50th anniversary made me think of Max. Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio, and Max Yasgur?
    John Fogerty performs on the final day of the 50th anniversary of Woodstock
    at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts in Bethel on Sunday, August 18, 2019. (Photo: John Meore/The Journal News)

    Enjoy my friends!

Monday, August 05, 2019

Bruce Springsteen, Western Stars



Western Stars is Bruce Springsteen's nineteenth studio album released on June 14th. I think the album is timely in that the late 60's and the "California Sound" are all the rage with a new crop of movies and documentaries covering the subject.

Here's a list of films I can't wait to see-
If you haven't noticed, I'm personally obsessed with the 60's in general but the sweet spot for me is LA from the mid 60's to the early 70's.

Bruce pays homage to that era of songwriting with thirteen new gems of his own. This theme-oriented album harks back to the days of listening to entire albums at a sitting. I would recommend you make time to do the same. Enjoy my friends!

And...
I'm introducing a new feature today for my Monday Monday Music playlists by creating a Spotify Playlist to duplicate my YouTube Playlist for each blog. Spotify Playlists can be downloaded to your phone if you want to listen to to my playlists offline. However, you do have to be a Spotify Premium Member ($9.99 a month) to download songs, albums and playlists. Thanks to loyal reader and great friend Paul Hobbs for this suggestion!

Click here for my first Spotify Playlist - Bruce Springsteen, Western Stars

or, the YouTube Playlist embedded below.


Monday, July 22, 2019

#QueenForum 7/20/19

Saturday was a great summer day! Mary Kit and I had so much fun driving up from San Diego and kicking around at Disneyland during the day, and then driving over at sunset to The Fabulous Forum to see Queen + Adam Lambert. Take a look at the Twitter #QueenForum pics, videos and comments of simply a wonderful fan experience. Here is a setlist from the 7/20/19 show.

The Forum does a bang up job for the big acts by putting a band's famous lyric lines on the columns surrounding the building. (Pictured here is a shot Mary Kit took of me before the show.)

I've been to three big concerts this summer with ELO, Paul McCartney, and now Queen. All of these shows have been great family entertainment draws. As I've said before, classic rock 'n' roll now brings out three generations of fans which often includes mom, dad and the kids all coming together. Right in front of us, we had mom, dad and two teenage sons who were rocking out as much as their parents! I'm trying to picture my parents taking me to a rock concert in the 60's and that image simply does not compute.

Forum - 7/19/19 - (Source iHeartRadio)
Anyway, I can't say enough how much Adam Lambert brings to creating a whole new generation of Queen fans for the 21st century. Adam does a fantastic job in that he doesn't pretend to be Freddie Mercury but embodies his spirit in every song! I've read some comments from hard core fans who say Freddie can't ever be replaced and that is so true, but Freddie is also dead. (Still too soon?) Wouldn't you rather see Brian May and Roger Taylor play live with someone who's got the vocal chops and personality to masterfully keep Queen's music alive, if not thriving? And what a power triangle these three produce with the two legends in their early 70's playing and singing like their 37 (Adam's age) and Lambert's voice carrying the day in every classic song. There's nothing like going to a concert where you can see all this acted out in real time. As we were walking out after the show, I heard a guy say, "I never would've believed Adam Lambert was that damn great!" As an older fan, I was watching and thinking of Brian and Roger throughout the show and how all their hard work together with Adam is not just about making piles of money, but they still get to do their passion in the present and on the big stage.

I hate to feature fan phone videos from the audience because of the sound and video quality, but I want to give you a little feel for Queen's two back to back shows in Los Angeles. I scoured the YouTubes here to find some worthy videos from the start of  The Rhapsody Tour which is sold out everywhere, not to mention the bump from the film Bohemian Rhapsody. Long live Queen!


Monday, June 24, 2019

Jeff Lynne's ELO, Anaheim Honda Center, 6/20/19


Last Thursday, I got to see Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) which since 1972 has been the sole embodiment of the brilliant Jeff Lynne. Jeff's career as leader of ELO also includes being a solo artist, a member of the supergroup Traveling Wilburys, record producer of many artists, and long overdue induction into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 2017

Much like Paul Simon assembled for his touring band over recent years, Jeff Lynne's ELO is a tour de force of talented musicians that propel ELO's rock-symphony sound into the twenty-first century. That sound is in fact so well produced live to the band's recorded discography (and this is not a slight) that anyone can appreciate the musicianship, not to mention bringing several generations of fans to their feet, clapping and singing along to an extensive list of hits. So many big hits, that I had forgotten the stamp the 71 year-old Jeff Lynne has as a tunesmith in rock 'n' roll history. 

The band kicked off their 2019 tour at the Honda Center in Anaheim and here's a quick review by Steve Baltin.  In a rare move on my part, I've duplicated the setlist through mostly higher quality concert videos in my playlist this week. I've also added a couple of classics at the end not in the current tour rotation.

So, jump back into the ELO spacecraft where two young 20 year-old's sitting next to me at the show where transported back to the early 70's through mid 80's, and were completely rocking out, not to mention the throng of sixty-seventy year-old gray hairs.

Enjoy my friends!


Monday, June 10, 2019

#NewReleases June, 2019 #Playlist

Here's a playlist I put together of new songs or new covers mostly put out just before June or in June of this year.

I can't wait to see the new documentary, Echo in the Canyon by Jakob Dylan about the 1960's "California sound" and the collection of musicians that flocked to Los Angles and hung together in Laurel Canyon. This playlist is sprinkled with a variety of new releases where the musical influences of the 60's and 70's are still with us today.

Included in this mix, is a song from the new Bruce Springsteen album, Western Stars, which happens to embrace the aforementioned west coast spirit and comes out this week, June 14.  Also, a song from the much anticipated new Black Keys album, Let's Rock, that comes out June 28th. Look for more playlists that will include songs from these two albums.

Enjoy the playlist my friends!


Monday, May 20, 2019

New Releases @ the river of streams, April-May 2019















I kick off this mix of newly released albums with a terrific band that my daughter, Shawna and I loved in the 90's, The Cranberries. In 2017, the band began working on what was going to be their eighth album, In the End. On January 15, 2018, Dolores O' Riordan the band's iconic lead singer died of an accidental drowning in a London Hotel bathtub due to alcohol intoxication.

In the months following her tragic death, the band (guitarist Noel Hogan, bassist Mike Hogan, and drummer Fergal Lawler) embarked on finishing the album as Dolores had already laid down some impressive vocal demo tracks. This album is a testament to the band's love of Dolores and their tireless effort to make this last Cranberries album a classic. This album is simply fantastic and as a fan, I can't figure out why it's not getting more press here in the U.S. even if the band is unable to perform on TV and tour. My last video of this mix is a recent interview with Noel and Fergal.

This mix of 60 songs is mostly made up of the albums featured above in my collage with a little bit of everything across the genres. Enjoy my friends!

Monday, March 18, 2019

New Releases @ the River of Streams, January - March, 2019



For the past several weeks I have been listening to a lot of new music, some put out by people with name recognition, but more so by folks who play Folk that I have never heard of before.

I use Amazon Music to do my digital fishing as I search the 'New Releases,' listen and determine- 'catch and release' or 'catch and keep' by the river of streams.

This week's playlist has 50 songs caught and kept from probably a steaming base of over 100 albums or so. Amazon does a nice job of breaking the New Releases into genres to get you to some smaller fishing spots.

I suggest you shift through my 50 songs here and if you are a fan of Americana music, you're going to find some new keepers to put in your own digital fish basket.

Note 1- The March, 1966 Field and Stream cover kind of looks like my dad. He loved his fishing!

Note 2- I was going to go back to Sunday School and somehow metaphorically weave Jesus and the fish and the loaves of bread, but thought I'd spare you that. Enjoy and share with others my friends!


Monday, March 11, 2019

Yola, Walk Through Fire


Yola Carter is a 35 year old British singer-songwriter who's just around the corner from being the next Americana sensation. Thanks to her performance at AmericanaFest 2016 that eventually led to her getting her hooked up with Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys and solo act sensation himself (check out his 2017 Waiting on a Song album). Auerbach has produced Yola's new album, Walk Through Fire, just released in February.

For this week's blog, I was working on featuring new music releases from January - March of this year, and had to put that on the digital shelf once I started listening to Walk Through Fire. Like so many people who hear her sing for the first time, I was simply knocked out. Auerbach was no exception, who instantly wanted to collaborate with her at his Easy Eye Sound studio and label in Nashville.

The result is a stunning album. Auerbach's influence as Producer who brought in a wealth of Nashville talent to support this project brings a very Waiting on a Song vibe without diminishing Yola's towering voice range across the album.

It is so rare for me to like every song on an album these days that it takes me back to my first listen to Carol King's Tapestry album in 1971. I'm not comparing the two, but Walk Through Fire is so well crafted as it goes to the deep well of American music and pre-digital recording.

Some would call this album 'Country Soul' but let's just embrace the entire palette of American music that has influenced this young woman as an example of why the Americana genre is thriving today, despite no mainstream radio time.

Check out these two articles to get Yola Carter's backstory (no Wikipedia page, yet) - St. George's Bristol and npr music 2016 and then, these two articles that review the album - npr music and the Tennessean.

For the playlist this week, I have included all 12 songs from Walk Through Fire, and several songs from her 2016 EP, Orphan Offering, and then some tracks recorded at live shows or radio streaming events. Maybe this is your first listen of Yola Carter, it won't be you last! Enjoy my friends.