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Archive for the ‘Thinking Piece’ Category

TAYLOR SWIFT ~ AMERICA’S VIRGIN

(By Brett B.)

Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift

I have 3 kids. Yes, even people like me are allowed to breed unabated in America. Deal with it. I have 2 boys and a daughter. Love them all. May not always like them but I will always love them. They’re kids. It is their moral imperative to annoy, aggravate and piss off their parents. We did it to ours, now they do it to us. Hakuna matata.

I , like many fathers, am constantly being told that I do not show my daughter enough attention. That she feels like I don’t do things with her like I do the boys. Fine. We’re playing ZOMBIE BLOODBATH on the Wii. Grab a controller and join the farting contest already in progress. OK, not exactly what a 9 year old girl wants to spend her evening doing. I get it.

So, her birthday was last week. Turning 10. A big birthday. Going from single digits to double. Here’s my chance to look good to the kid. Coincidentally last week Taylor Swift was doing 2 sold out shows here in Jersey. Of course, both were sold out. How else would I be able to have to resort to StubHub and pay $400 for 3 $75 tickets?

Prudential Center, NJ

Prudential Center, NJ

Now here is where we discuss my kid and her taste in music. If she had her way her iPod would be full of Lady GaGa, Justin Bieber, The Jonas Brothers and Hannah Montana. Since I control the downloads in the house, her iPod loaded with stealth cuts from Blondie, The Go-Gos, The Detroit Cobras and Aretha Franklin. And Taylor Swift.

We get to the Prudential Center and the kid has no idea where we are or what is going on. It was a total surprise. Ten feet from the door I give her the tickets and watch her eyes pop out of their sockets and she begins to squeal like someone is deflating a balloon. Very cute and over the top. She is if anything dramatic. We go in and she then finds out that Daddy Cool got her VIP Box seats. All you can eat buffet. Full bar. Sundae station. The whole 9 yards. ‘Cuz that’s how Daddy Cool rolls. Plus, it was all for the kid.

At one point my wife leaned over to me and said, “Little out of your element here, huh?” Understatement of the evening. Taylor Swift’s audience is 90% screaming tweenage girls dressed like they are 21 and on spring break, 3% young teenage boys just beginning to grow hair in strange places with confused feelings for girls and 7% parents who got dragged into driving the other 93% of the crowd to the arena.

But the best part of the evening? Taylor Swift puts on one of the best concerts I have ever seen. I mean totally gives her audience the show it came to see. Songs with great hooks. A dazzling stage show. And a truly sincere enjoyment out of what she is doing. You cannot ask more from any performer.

Sure the songs are written by a starry-eyed 19 year old who still believes in Romeo & Juliet and writes songs about her first kiss.
But you know what? Those are the kinds of songs I want my little girl to hear.

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Ronnie James Dio: Man on the Silver Mountain

By Brett B.

RJD

RJD

RJD

RJD

He was something different in rock & roll.  He was a man who was loved and respected by everyone.  From other musicians to fans who had listened to him for over 40 years, he was the true personification of “heavy metal”.  He was Ronnie James Dio and this past weekend the world lost a true star.

Not a star in the sense of fame or popularity, though he had all that and more.  Dio was a star in that he was a beacon of light that all true astronauts of rock aimed for in their journeys through the heavens of music.

Richie Blackmore's Rainbow

Richie Blackmore's Rainbow

Ronnie James Dio.  The name itself is as inseparable from metal as Paris Hilton is from skankdom.  No matter what he was doing he brought that Dio quality 100% ever time.  Whether it was the classic album days with Blackmore’s Rainbow or his days as Ozzy’s replacement in Black Sabbath or his own illustrious solo career, the man stood as an ambassador of power chords and testicle-vibrating bass.

RJD

RJD

In the few days since he has passed, I have noticed something.  I’ve noticed that everyone has had something nice to say about Ronnie James. Professional musicians have given tear racked eulogies describing how it was Ronnie that they wanted to be when they were starting out.  Fans on every type of music forum from jambands to jazz have shared their own stories of how seeing Dio growing up left such a lasting impression on them.

There isn’t a teenage boy out there who can stop himself from beginning to bang his head when those first notes of “Holy Diver” begin to play.  You will never see an over the top metal arena show with fire, lasers or giant animatronic demons that aren’t a pale comparison to the original blockbuster shows that Dio first brought to the world.

RJD

RJD

If you ever had the chance to see Dio perform, you know what I am talking about.  When the man stopped singing and spoke to his audience, you knew he meant every word.  His smile and those eyes glinting with all those tales of dragons and wizards behind them made you never take your own eyes off him while he was onstage.

At barely 5 feet tall, Ronnie James Dio proved one very simple thing: Height does not make a man a giant. It’s in the size of his heart and the love that fills it.

And Ronnie James Dio was a giant.

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BATTLE OF THE JAMBANDS:

My Band Can Beat Up Your Band!

By: Brett B.

Brad Pitt in Fight Club

Brad Pitt in Fight Club

Recently while watching TMZ, they happened to show a “street brawl” between two LA hair bands outside of a club.  Now, by “street brawl” I mean 6 skinny guys with a combined weight of probably 400 pounds slapping at each other, so as to not mess up their hair and make-up.  Not exactly a scene from FIGHT CLUB, if you know what I mean.

So, this of course brought to mind the incident years ago when Jack White of The White Stripes beat up Jason Stollsteimer of The Von Bondies over Stollsteimer’s badmouthing Jack behind his back.  Who can forget the photos of the Von Bondie’s bloodied and bruised face posted next to a picture of a smirking Jack White.  Now you might say to yourself “Jack White?  That pale faced thin guy who looks like he can barely bench press the guitars he plays?”  Yes.  That Jack White.  But as anyone who has ever fought will tell you: It’s the little guy you have to worry about.  Small guys always have something to prove.  I would rather go up against someone bigger than me than someone smaller than me every time.  You ever see a little scrawny guy go off in a bar fight?  They look like spider monkeys on PCP.

A raged Jason Stollsteimer...ouch!

A raged Jason Stollsteimer...ouch!

Which makes me wonder, amongst the artists and bands in the jam scene ….  Who’s the toughest?  Now we all know that the jam band scene is the epitome of peace and love and good vibes but let’s just say hypothetically that someone really got pissed off at Bonnaroo and blows were thrown.  Who would be left standing when the dust settled?

Widespread Panic

Widespread Panic

Amongst the old school jammers (Or as I refer to them O.J.’s “Original Jammers”) my two favorite contenders would be Widespread Panic and Gov’t Mule.  To me there has always been something about John Bell that makes me feel that when goes off things could get ugly. There seems to be an underlying sense that he could put a real hurtin’ on someone if he took a mind to do so. And Dave Schools is the last person you would want to get you down on the ground in a full body press. I also have no doubt that Jimmy Herring and John ‘JoJo’ Hermann would be pretty decent back-up if the shit ever hit the fan, as well.

Gov't Mule

Gov't Mule

Now in Gov’t Mule you have a triple threat. (The jury is still out on Jorgen Carlsson).  In this corner you have Warren “Big Daddy” Haynes.  The Jerry Lawler of music. Don’t let Warren’s girth fool you.  The man is a solid barrel of guitar playing fury which would translate into some major damage in a brawl.  Not to mention the fact that he is a pretty tough cookie in real life.  Matt Abts, Mule’s drummer, has always reminded me of Mickey Rourke.  Kind of cool and dangerous.  You know he would be smiling serenely as he stomped you in an bar fight.  And Danny Louis?  There is just something about him that makes me feel he’d make a great hitman.

John Popper RAGE!

John Popper RAGE!

Honorable O.J. mention would have to go the boys in Blues Traveler. When John Popper got pulled over a few years ago in that SUV doing over a hundred miles per hour and the cops found hidden compartments with 4 rifles, 9 handguns, a switchblade knife and a Tazer, you just knew this guy was just praying for something to happen.

Now heading down South, you have some good ole boys who could put a major whoopin’ on your ass if’n they took a mind to do so.  Amongst my nominees would be The Black Crowes and The Drive-By Truckers.

The Black Crowes

The Black Crowes

The Black Crowes definitely would score high in the Potential To Kick Major Ass Department despite Mr. Robinson’s proclivity for smoking herb.  The tension that has existed between Chris and Rich would have no problem being vented against anyone dumb enough to mess with the Robinson brothers.  Nothing says “If I have no problem beating the shit out of a sibling, I will definitely enjoy kicking YOUR ass!” like the love between 2 brothers in the same band.  Just ask the Galaghers of Oasis and the Davies of The Kinks.

Patterson Hood of The Drive By Truckers

Patterson Hood of The Drive By Truckers

I once saw Patterson Hood of The Drive-By Truckers polish off close to 10 shots of Jack Daniels while onstage.  Trust me: If you can drink JD like that and still put on one of the best shows out there today, you will have no trouble getting into a back alley fight after the show.  Not to mention, the guys in DBT all look like they have a straight razor in their boots.  Hell, the female bass player in the Truckers could probably do some major damage, as well.

Grace Potter

Grace Potter

And speaking of women, and certainly not to be sexist, what woman out there in the scene is the biggest badass?  I’d put my money on Grace Potter.  Aside from the fact that she is a rock and roll party machine.  Aside from the fact that she is one of the most beautiful women in music today.  Grace P. is one tough cookie.  So, don’t let that sweet smile and gorgeous red hair fool you.  If there was any one female that could lay the smackdown on you, it’s her.

Alejandro Escovedo

Alejandro Escovedo

Finally, the two toughest individual artists out there playing great music that you would be a fool to cross?  Up first, Alejandro Escovedo.  Alejandro has the pedigree to be a dangerous mofo.  Started off in one of the first California punk bands, The Nuns.  Went on to play in some the coolest and down and dirty bar bands ever (Rank & File and True Believers).  And the final confirmation: He played in True Believers with his brother, Javier.  Two brothers of Mexican descent in the same bar band?  It is amazing that they are both still alive.

Karl Denson ~ Badest Cat Around

Karl Denson ~ Badest Cat Around

But without a doubt the toughest, baddest, man most likely to hurt you so bad even your mama wouldn’t recognize you afterwards would have to be one Mr. Karl Denson.  I had the pleasure of being in the ship gym a few years ago on Jam Cruise and let me tell you something.  The man works out like he plays the saxophone.  With a vengeance! Karl D is one of those guys that you would pray that the first blow would kill you or at least knock you out so you wouldn’t have to feel the following blows.

In closing, we all know fighting is bad. No one ever likes to see anyone get hit or hurt.  But on the off chance I am ever jumped out back of a club after a show, I just hope that it’s Grace Potter that leaps off that tour bus Flying V guitar a swingin’ to come to my defense.

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Editor’s Notes: Everyone please welcome Brett. B.!!  A fellow music loving friend & writer who was nice enough to contribute some wonderful musings to the Tiny Rager blog!

Resurrecting The Banjo

(by Brett B.)

Deliverance

Deliverance: 1972

1972. The year of DELIVERANCE. The year that a once proud American instrument was forever linked to hillbillies, Burt Reynolds in a canoe, and Ned Beatty squealing like a pig.  In the 35 years since DELIVERANCE was released and it’s theme song, “Dueling Banjos” became a punchline for anything even remotely redneck related, just the mention of the word “banjo” or a few notes picked on one has caused a chuckle and the anticipation of a joke containing either roadkill, moonshine, incest or all three.

Well, not anymore.  In the last few years, the music scene has re-embraced the banjo and begun to help it throw off the stigmata that has followed it for over three decades.  A once proud and noble and truly AMERICAN instrument is getting the respect that it had taken away from it so callously, all those years ago.  We can see in the last few years, the canonization and public recognition that this round cousin of the guitar so rightly deserves.

The mass appeal of the jam band scene and its constant desire to feverishly dig deeper and deeper into the music of our country’s past has certainly contributed greatly to this phenomenon.  This younger generation of musicians has embraced, and brought to their audiences, both the songs and instrumentations of a bygone era.  As technology heads into the digital future at warp speed, we are seeing the American music scene heading the other direction almost as fast.  It is as if these artists are seeking something more real and sincere and organic.  Something that is found in the simple picking of banjo strings.

Read almost any music site or magazine that covers the jam band scene, and chances are in at least one article, concert review or album review you will see the word “banjo”.  Oh, sure you will see the occasional fiddle or washboard mentioned.  But let’s face it: The banjo is the new “bad boy” of instruments.  If you want your band or it’s music to simply scream authenticity?  Get yourself a banjo.

Dave Johnston of YMSB

Dave Johnston of YMSB

Yonder Mountain String Band has been at the forefront of this scene and probably the best known of the jam bands who have brought bluegrass to a whole new generation of listeners.  Thanks in no small part to Dave Johnston on banjo.  Other names who you will always see mentioned in the same sentence with banjo?  Danny Barnes, for one.  The wunderkind of the banjo, Danny has been tearing up for years and is practically worshiped as one of the best players out there today.   Otis Taylor’s most recent album, RECAPTURING THE BANJO pretty much says it all right there in the title. Put this album on and close your eyes.  You will immediately feel as if you have been transported back in time and place to the Faulkner’s old South.  You can almost smell the magnolia blossoms and hear the posse chasing the escaped chain gang prisoners through a Cypress choked swamp.

For years, Tony Trischka was the lone voice in the musical wilderness using the banjo to make himself heard.  Album after quality album filled with fun songs, quick pickin’ and a real love of what he was doing.  And after guesting on a Tony T. album, the one and only Steve Martin just released his first album of banjo music, THE CROW: NEW SONGS FOR THE 5-STRING BANJO. (I wonder if anyone has ever done a thesis on the symbolism of the crow and it’s occurrence in American banjo music?)

So, after reading a recent article on Eddie Van Halen’s new signature guitar that will cost upwards of $3,000, one has to wonder if the days of the flashy axe playing front man are about to be replaced.  Could we someday witness the release of the Steve Johnston Flying V Banjo? Or even better: One day hear someone described as the “Jimi Hendrix of the Banjo”?

Only time and the banjo will tell.

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~ JAMCRUISE 9 ~

~ The Greatest Musical Adventure at sea goes on sale June 2nd, 2010 @ 12pm eastern~

Check out Jam Cruise 2011

I don’t know why, it’s the same reason why you like some music and you don’t like others. There’s something about it that you like. Ultimately I don’t find it’s in my best interests to try and analyze it, since it’s fundamentally emotional. ~ Jerry Garcia

The Line-Up:

Second Round Announcements:

Wish list:

Important Forum Posts:

Jam Cruise 9 Announces Ship, Dates, Ports & Lineup

Jam Cruise 9 Lineup

Ports of Call

Forum Frequently Asked Questions by 1st time Jam Cruisers

Unofficial Theme: Porno clowns

Official Thread for Unofficial Zebra Theme Night

M.E.A.T. (McTuff Earns a Turn)

The boat came by and I got on, that’s where it all began…..

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There is one mission.  To share the music.  It’s simple.

I work with other website to accomplish that mission and encourage you to check them out.

MusicMarauders: THE HEADSTASH

MusicMarauders: THE HEADSTASH

The Early Show

The Early Show

Views Skewed

Views Skewed

NYC Funk Live

NYC Funk Live

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