Monday, February 28, 2011

Insomnia Is Awesome

Insomnia is a very surreal feeling.  You're awake, but not fully with it.  I'm not sure I really have it, but do get into periods of not being able to fall asleep until 3 or 4 in the morning.  I'm in one of those periods currently and I'm really feeling it today.  I do have a lot of stress and anxiety currently.  I know that's what is causing my sleepless nights and not, Meg Ryan or Tom Hanks for that matter.  I can be equal opportunity and at this moment in time, Tom Hanks would be the choice over Meg.

Speaking of actors, I went 6 for 9 in my Oscar Predictions.  I feel pretty darn good about that.  If I didn't pick any upsets, I might've gone 9 for 9, but I don't want to do the coulda, woulda, shoulda thing.

Sunday was my Fantasy Baseball Auction Draft.  I had a great time.  Met some good people, saw some friends I don't get to see often, because life gets in the way.  I like my team, but I don't love my team.  I think most of the people in the league feel similar.  There's always one or two positions that you need some help in, after all is said and done.  There will be a lot of tweaking before the season gets started.  The guys in the league like to make trades and everyone is always trying to make their team better.  The downside is, the trade that you thought will make your team better, could make it worse.  There lies the rub of trying to be a GM.  That's as close as we'll ever get to experiencing it.  All of the fantasy baseball players in the world should send Dan Okrent a one time thank you of $1 each.  Considering how many people play, he'd be a multi-millionaire tomorrow.  Yes, really...

The blog may, not definite, but may, take a few days off to work on a project I will be starting for the blog and to write some long over due interviews and get those sent out.  We'll see, but I don't know what I'm doing 5 minutes from now.  Probably passing out.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Music Experiment - Part Quattro

Ahh yes, the old days and what you had to do to listen to music.  Actually, this guy is listening to a concert two cities away.  Couldn't afford tickets, but had these handy dandy ear cone thingys.  The baby gets active during the songs, so we think that's positive.  She could be going "Shut this crap off," for all I know.  Here's the fourth list of songs.

CD #4

Bring The Noise - Anthrax (with Public Enemy)
Looking Down The Barrel Of A Gun - Beastie Boys
Last Train To London - ELO
Sara Smile - Hall & Oates
Autonomy - Buzzcocks
My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Mama - Frank Zappa
Scarlet Begonias - Grateful Dead
Helplessly Hoping - Crosby, Stills & Nash
You're My Best Friend - Queen
Shoot To Thrill - AC/DC
A Conspiracy - Black Crowes
Don't Let Him Go - REO Speedwagon (There used to be a band called REO Speedealer, then they got sued, but I've always loved that name)
The Lovecats - The Cure
Christine's Tune - Flying Burrito Bros.
Sneakin' Sally Through The Alley - Robert Palmer
Hero Of The Day - Metallica (from the S&M album, the one with the orchestra.  Does amazing things for this song)
Myage - Descendents
Head Over Heels - The Go Go's
Ooh La La - The Faces (Ronnie Wood vocal)

More to come...

Friday, February 25, 2011

Nine By Design 24

Alrighty folks, I'm back again for the weekly list.  So far headache free.  That's a bonus for me.  Today's random list will be a quick one, I hope.  I have some research to do for my Fantasy Baseball Auction Draft.  I'm meeting a new rogue's gallery on Sunday.  Some I know very well and others, I've never met.  Should be fun.  I won't be the oldest there, but I'm definitely in the higher age bracket.  The list today is about Rock Drummers.  I did Rock Guitarists way back in Nine By Design 4.  It's time to do the forgotten heroes of the band.  Sorry, can't stop laughing.  If you've been around bands, you know that's a joke, but I have huge respect for guys that can play different beats with their body parts.  On with the list...

Rock Drummers:

Steve Gadd - I'm setting the level pretty high starting with Gadd.  He's one of the best studio drummers ever and you've heard his work all over the place.  He's one of those guys that always plays amazing, but doesn't show off.  His playing is very interesting.  The first time I ever paid attention to him was when he was playing on "Late In The Evening," by Paul Simon.  He was using four sticks, I'm not kidding.  Plus, the band Simon put together for that album, unreal...they smoke.

Slim Jim Phantom - Now for something completely different, but just as good.  Only plays a snare and bass drum and does it standing up.  Played in the Stray Cats if you are unfamiliar with him.  A great showman as well. 

Terry Bozzio -Now onto a drummer that plays one of the largest drum sets ever made.  Known for playing super impossible pieces, "The Black Page" for instance.  You may remember him from the new wave band, Missing Persons.

Clem Burke - Longtime drummer of Blondie, is a powerhouse.  He was the driving force behind the sound of Blondie.  Well him and Debbie Harry.  

Scott Churilla - Has played drums for two of my favorite bands.  He used to play with the Reverend Horton Heat, but now is playing with the Supersuckers.  I need to ask him about his stick spinning when I interview him.  Whenever I get off my butt to write it.  I'm such a slacker.

Nicko McBrain - Anyone with a name like Nicko has to be a drummer.  Maybe, not.  Plays barefoot, which I thought was odd, but I'm not a what do I know?  He's been the backbone of the band for nearly 30 years.

Dave Grohl - Who would've thought the most talented guy in Nirvana was the drummer?  He's gone onto play with Queens Of The Stone Age, Probot (his metal project, awesome record) amongst others and some band called the Fighters of Foo.

Stewart Copeland - Is probably my all time favorite drummer, if I had to pick.  His sense of humor, the way he plays and the fact he doesn't like Sting, all work for me.  Plus, he does stuff like this.  Too cool in my eyes.

Neil Peart -Had to end with the Professor.  It pretty much all ends with him anyways.  In the Rock world there are few, if any better.  Of course, it's all subjective.  Plus, the fact that he's the lyricist for the band.  I know it doesn't make sense really, but he is.  Those Canadians are odd, but great ducks.

Hope you liked this week's list.  It actually took me a long time, because I had to watch all these great videos.  Remember this is just 9 drummers, not the be all, end all.  Cheers, Happy Weekend!  Back to baseball research.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Music Experiment - Part Trey

Another headache filled day (let's hope the baby doesn't get my migraines), which is why I'm posting the song list for the third homemade CD for the baby.  I can't complete sentences, let alone write anything witty and clever.  The comment about jazz was taken into consideration.  We don't have a lot of jazz in our music collections.  It has never really been our thing.  I will however look at what we do have and it could possibly make an appearance at sometime.  On with the song list.

CD #3 

Baba O'Riley - The Who
Ozone Baby - Led Zeppelin
See A Little Light - Bob Mould
Rollin' And Tumblin' - Canned Heat
Pressure Drop - The Clash
Public Image - Public Image Ltd.
Everywhere At Once - The Plimsouls
I Want You Back - Jackson 5
Where Is My Mind? - The Pixies
Sugar Kane - Sonic Youth
Keep On Running - Spencer Davis Group
Rumble In Brighton - Stray Cats
Sway - Rolling Stones
Roadworn and Weary - Supersuckers
Shapes Of Things - Jeff Beck 
Excitable Boy - Warren Zevon
Stand - Sly & The Family Stone
Rocket - Smashing Pumpkins
Going Underground - The Jam
Into The Void - Black Sabbath

Monday, February 21, 2011

Odds And Sods 7

I haven't done one of these in quite a while.  It's not that I don't have a lot of things, that don't really have enough to be a full entry.  It's that I'm just trying to do other things.  I still need to write some interviews and reviews.  Just haven't been into it lately.  I had a week full of headaches, but that's not really the reason.  It's definitely not the music or the bands, so I don't know...just a lot on my mind.

So what's going on?  I've been researching for my up coming Fantasy Baseball Auction Draft.  I know you're all impressed.  Yes, I know I'm nerdy on multiple levels and I'm very proud of it.  I think everyone is pretty nerdy in their own way.  Don't believe me, do you collect anything?  Then you're a nerd...sorry to inform you.  It goes with the territory.  There's nothing wrong with it.  I'm pretty sure all of my friends are and would be worried if I knew someone that wasn't.  I don't know what kind of person that would be. So, back to the baseball.  I'm taking over a team that was an expansion team.  In this league, you have a salary cap and sign players to contracts that last between 1 and 4 seasons.  So, there is more to it than just drafting luck.  There are some players unavailable, because they are under contract.  I know about half the people in the league personally.  I'm familiar with a couple of others, but have never met them.  Okay, this is now boring me and I'm writing it.  So, end scene...

I've been listening to a lot of podcasts lately.  I like listening to interviews.  I tend to listen mainly to the comedy based ones.  They do get serious, but generally are very funny.  We all need laughter in our life and in my opinion, you can never have enough.  I've been listening to the Nerdist.  I know go figure.  It's hosted by comedian Chris Hardwick mainly, with other co-hosts rotating in and out, but he's the mainstay.  I listen for the guests, he's had some really good ones.  I also really like WTF with Marc Maron.  Another interview based comedy show.  Again, he's had some really great guests.  The other one I started listening to is called Podcast Masters.  Hosted by comedians Jim Breuer and Pete Correale.  It's mainly about their careers and Jim being a father to three daughters and how he handles it.  Parenting in a funny way.  Since, I'm about to become a parent.  I try to listen to any and all types of parenting styles.  Even a comedian that's looked stoned his entire life.

Lastly, because I don't have much else to talk about really.  There are some movies opening in March that will probably get overlooked, but hopefully not.  The Adjustment Bureau with Matt Damon is opening early in March.  It's based on a Philip K. Dick (Blade Runner, Minority Report, Total Recall, do I need to go on?) short story.  I just want to see how they run with it.  Dick wrote this story in 1954 and most of his stories in the 50's, 60's and 70's.  Just imagine having that type of creative mind to think of this stuff 50 years ago.  So, ahead of his time.  Kevin Smith's penultimate movie Red State is opening for an early run in New York City.  It opens everywhere in October.  I'm not sure if he will really retire after Hit Somebody.  I hope not, because I do enjoy his work.  The last movie I'll "pimp," as the cool kids say.  Personally, I think if you say the word "pimp" and think it's cool.  You've made a mistake.  Nobody speaks like that, unless your Katt Williams and everyone knows he isn't funny.  Where was I?  Oh right, the next movie, Limitless, starring Bradley Cooper and Bobby D.  I never read the novel, but it sounds very interesting.  A drug that lets you use your entire brain to it's full capability.  That sounds fascinating to me.  I generally don't read fiction, but that book sounds great.

That's all I have for you today.  I'll try to do better next time.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Nine By Design 23

Somehow we've all made it through the week and once again we want to know what the Random 9 is this week.  I've had a long week.  It's been a headache filled week.  Feeling pretty good right now, hopefully I'll be headache free for the day.  It would be nice.  Today's Nine By Design is about one of my favorite sports, Hockey.  For me, my favorite sports are Baseball which is getting underway and Hockey, which is currently going full steam.  I was never really into Football and Basketball.  I don't mind them, but won't just watch any game.  A Boston team has to be playing for me to care even a little bit.  I'm the same way with Baseball and Hockey, but if a player is playing, that I don't get to see that often...I'll watch the game just for that player.  Usually, a National League baseball game or a Western Conference hockey game.  On with the show...

Hockey Players

Terry O'Reilly - since I'm starting off with the "Tasmanian Devil," you should know I'm not just going to be writing about the best players to ever play.  He just had a knack for being around the puck.  He's the definition of "blue collar" player.  He would do anything for a teammate.  Anything.

Mike Gartner - A name you may be unfamiliar with, but was one of the fastest skaters in NHL history.  If he got a step on the defender, he was gone.  Ranks sixth all-time in goals scored.  An amazing talent.

Ken Dryden - A Canadien???  As a Bruins fan, that's taboo, but I have always had huge respect for Dryden.  He only played 8 seasons, but what a fantastic 8 those were.  He just chose to do other things with his life, instead of play hockey.  It's very rare that a player of his skill and stature walks away from his sport at the height of his career.

Bob Probert - The late Bob Probert was arguably the toughest man to ever play in the NHL.  He could also put the puck in the net, but it wasn't really in his job description to score.  He fought and protected the stars of his team.  He did that very well.  He also fought all the other tough guys in the league. 

Tim Thomas - A goalie that is very different from other goalies.  Not blessed with extraordinary talent like Brodeur, Dryden or Roy.  Thomas is a "By any means necessary" type of goaltender.  Very unorthodox, but will do everything in his power to make the save.

Bobby Hull - Had one of the hardest shots ever.  A bull on skates.  If he had to fight, he would, but if you needed him to score a hat trick, he'd do that too.  His son, Brett passed him on the career goal scoring list, but I'm sure he would say his dad was better.

Mario Lemieux - Would he, could he, have broken some of Wayne Gretzky's records if he stayed healthy?  That will always be the question.  Super Mario didn't just miss games with injuries/cancer, he missed seasons.  I guess we'll never really know.  He always tormented the Bruins.

Wayne Gretzky - The all-time everything in professional hockey.  Statistically the best player to ever play the sport.  I loved watching him play.  In New England, we only got to see him a couple of times a year.  Just did everything correctly.  Knew where everyone was and what they were going to do.

Bobby Orr - As great as Gretzky was, he never changed his position like Orr did.  An offensive defenseman?  No one had ever heard of that before Orr.  Physically, better than anyone, always breathtaking.  There will never be another Orr.

There is this week's list.  Just a lot of fun hockey videos.  Hope you had fun reading.  See you next week with another list.  Cheers, Happy Weekend!!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Music Experiment - Part Deux

I'm cheating with this entry today, but it makes for an easy entry when you have a headache.  I'm going to list the songs I put on the two CDs I've made so far.  If you would like to suggest your own songs, feel free.  There will be more CDs made over the upcoming weeks.

CD #1

Hey Tonight - CCR
The One Thing - INXS
I'm Waiting For The Day - Beach Boys
I'm Looking Through You - Beatles
Stop Your Sobbing - Pretenders
(I Know) I'm Losing You - Temptations
Can't Even Tell - Soul Asylum
Driven To Tears - Police
(Nothing But) Flowers - Talking Heads
September Gurls - Big Star
Coming Up Close - 'Til Tuesday
The Waiting - Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
Gotta Gettaway - Stiff Little Fingers
Wonderous Stories - YES
If I Should Fall From The Grace Of God - Pogues
I Believe (When I Fall In Love It Will Be Forever) - Stevie Wonder
Beneath, Between and Behind - RUSH
Little Too Late - Pat Benatar
Shoplifters Of The World Unite - Smiths
Gone Ridin' - Chris Isaak

CD #2

I'm Always In Love - Wilco
Dreaming - Blondie
Creeque Alley - The Mamas & The Papas
Sultans Of Swing - Dire Straits
Green Onions - Booker T. & The MGs
Candy-O - Cars
Beat's So Lonely - Charlie Sexton
High Fidelity - Elvis Costello
Not Too Soon - Throwing Muses
A Small Victory - Faith No More
Ain't Even Done With The Night - John Mellencamp
Memphis - Chuck Berry
Seven Chinese Bros. - R.E.M.
Never Said - Liz Phair
The Girl I Knew Somewhere - Monkees
China - Red Rockers
Birdhouse In Your Soul - They Might Be Giants
Kiss Me On The Bus - Replacements
(Keep Feeling) Fascination - The Human League
Victoria - Kinks

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Music Experiment

I've been doing a lot of reading, since I'm going to be a dad.  My wife is in her 6th month and the baby gets really active when she hears my voice.  So, my wife suggested that we start her on a music listening program.  Nothing major.  We're not going to buy the belly headphones.  I think that's a little weird and would never expect my wife to be on board with that.

Now we don't have any grand illusions of the baby being a musical prodigy or having this make her smarter, by any means.  My wife believes that since we talk to her all the time, that she will recognize our voices when she is born.  I agree with that.  There is no proof that the baby will recognize music that she hears in the womb, but there is also no harm in doing this from everything I've read.

My wife just thought it would be a good idea for me to make mix CDs (we're old school) of my kind of music.  There isn't anything wrong with what my wife listens to, it's just a little limited.  So, rather than have the baby listen to the radio.  I know, what kind of parents are we to put her through that type of torture?  I'm currently making some CDs. 

I already knew that the amniotic fluid will amplify the music, so there was no reason to purchase belly buds or belly headphones, whatever they are called anyways.  We'll take option two and have my wife listen to music like normal in the car.  We think it's important for our daughter to be able to recognize all kinds of music from ABBA to Frank Zappa.  There will be a test within the first year and I'm a very strict tester.

Like I said before, there is no proof that any of this really works.  Just think, if it does, I can soothe my crying and screaming baby with The Temptations and Clash, rather than Barney and the Wiggles.  Whatever works is fine, but I'd like to enjoy what we're hearing as well.  I'll need soothing too.

Monday, February 14, 2011

In A Pinch

In case you find yourself in a pinch and need some help on Valentine's Day.  I have the solution.  Music never fails.  Put these tunes on the Hi-Fi and he or she will melt into your arms, legs or whatever else you have in mind.

Mr. Romance himself, Jonathan Richman

And again, he really is Mr. Romance

Pixies true love song

About as perfect and innocent as it gets
The highly underrated Henry Phillips (who I will be interviewing in the future)
Stephen Lynch (audio only)
Okay, for the last two, he or she might run away screaming from you, but if they don''s true love.  A good tester.  Happy Valentine's Day.  It was either this or have me rant about this horrible made up, make people feel bad about themselves, commercial holiday.  So, I took the higher road, not the highest, but the medium high road. 

Friday, February 11, 2011

Nine By Design 22

I'm back one more time for another fun filled list of the week.  I'm actually fighting a headache as I type, so this one could be Fast and in honor of my good friend Paul Walker, but not "that" Paul Walker, Furious.  I'm afraid I might turn into one of the comic book Villains I'm about to profile.  I did the noble Heroes, in last week's list.  As the Black Eyed Peas lip-synched, "Let's Get It Started."  Not to be confused with, "Who farted?"  I writing this stuff and have yet to take any medication for my head, oh boy, could be an interesting entry.


Lex Luthor is a prototypical villain.  A genius that will stop at nothing to end Superman and/or the entire DC Universe.  Comes within inches of fulfilling his evil plans, but is usually thwarted.  Aren't they all usually thwarted.  What a great word, "THWART."

Magneto is another main villain that doesn't exactly want to take over the world, as he wants everyone to follow him.  A mutant cult leader in a way I suppose.  I never got on the mutant fun ride that was the X-Men.  Although, I do remember him extracting Wolverine's adamantium skeleton with no Novocaine.  "This will only hurt for a minute.  Okay, so I lied."

Harley Quinn is the partner of the Joker, who we'll see later...not if he sees you first.  Then you'd be dead.  Oh, back to Ms. Quinn.  She's a Virgo that likes long walks down dark alleys and poisons, so she can kill you.  Is it obvious that I don't much about her?

Bullseye is a brutal villain that can literally throw anything and make it a weapon.  "I will kill you with this Play-Doh."  Only the red color is deadly, the others just maim.  "I'm going throw this couch at you!"  Which he said to, Daredevil in issue #173, when he ran out of weapons.  He had already thrown the kitchen sink at him.

Sinestro is the archenemy of the Green Lantern.  Yellow is the color that hurts GL, unless it's the original Alan Scott, which was wood.  Of all things, wood?  Odd.  He is based on the actor David Niven, which if you know who that is off the top of your head, you're as old as I am.

Storm Shadow is the archenemy of G.I. Joe's Snake Eyes.  Storm Shadow was originally part of Snake Eyes' rock band, The Silence.  He left due to internal strife.  Storm Shadow wanted to be the lead singer, but Snake Eyes shook his head no, insisting he was, even though he didn't speak.  Lead Singer Disease in full effect.

Deathstroke is a total badass, but I hear he's really nice if you get to know him.  He's really sensitive about losing his eye, so he puts up a tough exterior.  But once you get around the swords, guns and him trying to kill you all the time, he's really sweet.  He just wants to do his gardening.

Loki is Thor's evil, mischievous brother.  He likes to get Thor in trouble with their dad, Odin as often as possible.  If you remember back to the Valhalla Bunch episode where the kids were playing ball in the house and "Thor" broke the Mom's favorite vase.  It was really Loki.  Then he scolds Thor with the line, "Mom, always said don't play ball in the house." 

Joker is probably not a guy you'd want to play poker against.  I'm sure he'd cheat and if you happened to beat him, there's no doubt he's a poor loser and would try to kill you.  Other than trying to kill Batman, his other hobbies include, I think he's just hell bent on killing Batman.  His favorite song is "Fireball" by Deep Purple.

Hopefully, I was at least entertaining.  Until next week, I am you humble narrator to the beginning of your weekend.  So Cheers, Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Substitute Blogger 2: Electric Boogaloo

I Love Television by Brian Smith

I love television.  More than any person should, I suppose.  Why is it that when someone says “I sat all night under a blanket and read a book by the fire.”  Everyone else thinks it’s great?   Yet, if the same person says “I sat last night and watched television all night,” it is either assumed they are lazy or wasted their night?  Having said that, this post is about the some television shows of my youth.  Normally, it’s not nice to write about negativity, but in this instance it’s needed.  Blame cable television.  They keep showing old reruns on weird stations now. 

This posting should be titled "Why Growing Pains Stinks."  Most people I know that are my age THINK they like the show.  I watched it recently for quite a few episodes.  If you haven’t watched it recently go ahead.  But until then let me recap every episode.  Twenty minutes of fat jokes and parents making fun of how dumb Mike is.  Another one of those shows that pulled “The cousin Oliver” and added a new character to help save a dying show.  This show does not hold up.

Another would be Miami Vice.  Every show/movie that needs a “flashback to the 80’s” (stop it Adam Sandler. Just stop it) scene has someone dressed like Don Johnson.  That was such a small part of the decade.  Let it go.

Charles in Charge: I was so excited to see this on Netflix.  I remember loving it, almost unwatchable now.  Nicole Eggert almost saves it.  But Buddy Lembeck was not funny.  Can’t believe we used to think the show was.

As a kid, I could never escape The Jeffersons.  I thought it would be like M*A*S*H and get better once I got older and understood it.  Nope. Just some moron yelling all the time, it’s even worse than it used to be.  I almost added Different Strokes here.  Any show with “catch phrases” (Whatchu Talkin’ Bout Willis) is doomed to fail in my eyes.  BUT, it spun off Facts of Life, which holds up remarkably well.  And it has some of my favorite episodes of any show.  Ever.  Kimberly and Arnold getting kidnapped?  The episode at Mr Horton’s bike shop with Dudley?  Any episode with a reference to “The Gooch”? 

Three’s Company was a show I was worried about.  Two smoking hot girls and a goofy guy?  How can it not work?  John Ritter looking back is criminally underrated.  His physical comedy was genius on that show.  He had absolutely no props except for a swinging door in the kitchen.  And he somehow managed to make bumping into it funny every time.  He left us too soon.  Also this show had my second favorite “Larry” of all time (Larry Mondello, the apple eating friend of Leave it to Beaver still floors me, and thirdly Larry Fine of the Three Stooges is very underrated).

Now I will move on to my favorite surprise.  A show that I thought would be the worst of the lot is still really really good: Family Ties.  Alex Keaton is still funny.  Mallory, even though I remember how pretty she was, has some of the best zingers on the show.  The friend Skippy was one of the better friends featured in these shows.  Sadly his acting career didn’t move much after this (except for his Guilty Pleasure Hall of Fame movie Trick Or Treat).

Thanks for reading this.  There are so many more hours of shows to sort through.  Please be sure to send along your thoughts on a show or two.  The owner of this blog loves getting comments. 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Extra-Medium Sized Review : Joe Fletcher & The Wrong Reasons - White Lighter

I think too many reviews/reviewers try to pigeonhole albums/musicians.  The band/album sounds like "so and so," because the reviewer isn't sure what they are hearing.  White Lighter, the second album by Joe Fletcher & The Wrong Reasons, doesn't fit easily into any category.  That right there is the beauty of this album.  There is influence dripping from every part of this record.  Whether you like classic country, singer/songwriters/rock n roll/blues or folk; it's all here for you.

Joe Fletcher can really paint a visual picture with his words.  He tells wonderful stories from his own weary and well worn world.  The lyrics sound like first hand accounts and experiences from life itself.  The music fits each song perfectly.  For example, the song "Flat Tire" which gets you moving like you're driving in a car, has a fantastic flow to it and builds to a sneaky guitar solo.  Then skip forward a couple of songs to "Front Porch," which feels like a group of friends just started playing whatever was around, instrument or not.  It still sounds right, like this is how the song was meant to be played.

The guest performers are a who's who from the Providence, RI music scene.  Most of the people on this album have been mentioned in this blog in some way.  There are members of the Throttles, Brown Bird and Alec K. Redfearn himself playing on multiple songs.  One name I am unfamiliar with however is Lily McCall Costner.  She adds a very subtle, but striking contrast on the songs she appears on.  If it was never there in the first place, it wouldn't hurt the song, but knowing her voice is there, you can't live without it.  Her vocals work very nicely in conjunction with Joe's vocals.  "Every Heartbroken Man" is a great example of what she adds.

I'll wrap this review up with this; Joe Fletcher is a unique talent.  He has the ability to write a song that sounds like it was written in the 50's, during the heyday of the Grand Ole Opry, rock out with the best of 'em and sing like a time tortured Delta Bluesman.  You get all that in one package, on one album.  I hope this is just the beginning of many great things from him and The Wrong Reasons.  Definitely worth your time and money.

Keep up with Joe Fletcher & The Wrong Reasons here.
Purchase their music here and here.  (It'll be the best thing you did all day.)

I have had some great responses for CD Reviews/Interview requests.  Keep them coming, if I can help you or your band out with exposure and publicity for your music, I absolutely will.  Please contact me.  Thanks...

Monday, February 7, 2011

Not For Long

I woke up this morning and had no clue what to write about.  It has nothing to do with a Super Bowl hangover, since I don't drink at all.  In fact, where I was last night, it was more entertaining to play with the my friends kids than it was to watch the game.  Full Contact Monkey In The Middle, is quite the game.  The game, the football game that is, was a good game.  Very close.  I'm glad Green Bay won.  I just can't cheer for Ben Roethlisberger considering his shady persona. 

Going forward, this is the last NFL game, probably for a long time.  I'm not the biggest American Football fan by any means.  All the end of the season usually means to me is I don't have to see the numerous talking heads on ESPN, Fox and various other channels on the boob tube.  Now, since the owners are about to "lock out" the players due to not having a working agreement going forward.  It's all I'm going to see on any sports channel. 

Let's get some things straight.  The NFL has surpassed MLB for the most popular sport in the USA.  There are billions of dollars in play.  Enough money to make both sides happy.  If both sides come up with fair requests, this can get done, but both sides will always try to get more than the other guy.  Personally, I hope they do get "locked out."  I'd laugh my ass off.  "Hey, let's mess up a sure thing." 

The NFL, if you talk to players and coaches, stands for "No Fun League," since they fine coaches, players and teams for a variety of things throughout the season.  It also stands for, "Not For Long," which usually refers to a players career, which I think averages about 3 years in the league.  It could also refer to it being the most popular sport in the USA.  MLB was always number one and then it had the strike and people still have a hard time forgiving them.  The players strike in MLB happened over 15 years ago.  The NFL should think about that.  They could quickly sour their fans on the product, arguing about billions of dollars.  They should remember that the people that cheer for them on a weekly basis, purchase the tickets and merchandise; don't make their kind of money and don't get paid for playing a kids game. 

Hopefully, they all get a clue.  If not, I'll be there waiting with a huge smile on my face, shaking my head in disgust.  

Friday, February 4, 2011

Nine By Design 21

Better late than never.  Not that I really have a deadline to get posts up.  I just generally like to do it early in the day.  Real life got in the way this morning, as I had a couple errands to run.  Once again, I'm back for the weekly list of pop culture.  This week and next will really show off my nerdism (if it's not a word, it should be).  This week will be Heroes and next week will be the Villains of comic books.  I've always loved comics, just never really had enough cash to keep up with them.  I learned how to read at an early age due to comics.  You don't actually think your learning anything, then all of a sudden you know the history of most heroes and villains.  On with the list.

Batman - I love this drawing of Batman.  It shows him for what he really is at the core, a man.  He has no super powers, just superb athletic ability and intelligence.  Just a fascinating character, especially when done correctly.  As good as Christian Bale is as Batman, I've always felt that Michael Keaton's portrayal was the best.

Deadpool - Supposedly, will be coming to theaters sometime in the future.  Your guess is as good as mine.  Ryan Reynolds is rumored to be playing him and it's a great choice.  He portrayed Wade Wilson in the Wolverine movie, which is the real name of Deadpool.  Known as the "Merc With The Mouth."  He's a very fun character to read and could be the next movie franchise.

Green Lantern - Is another role that Ryan Reynolds is playing.  The movie will be premiering in the spring.  Green Lantern is a special effects wizards dream.  The possibilities are limitless for what he can come up with, since his powers are based on imagination and will power.  I hope that the movie will be good.  I want it to be amazing.

Longshot - Is a character you may be unfamiliar with.  He has luck based powers, both good and bad.  He would make occasional appearances in the X-Men Universe and was always really interesting.  Someone you will probably not see on a movie screen, but never say never.

Green Arrow - Both he and Green Lantern had some amazing adventures in the comics.  I could see Green Arrow be a great movie, depending on how it's written.  I think most people would say it's "Batman with a bow and arrow."  I can see the argument.  Maybe there will be a Justice League movie if Marvel is able to pull off the Avengers movie.

Archangel - If you remember The Angel from the third X-Men movie, this is what he would become later.  One of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, known as Death.  It was a great version of a character that was fairly harmless, being turned into a badass.

The Question - Is a really great character.  A conspiracy theorist, to the point where he is a little on edge and obsessed with them.  He tends to use ruthless methods to get what he wants.  Highly underrated character in the DC Universe.

 Iceman - I've always liked this character going back to the show, Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends in 1981.  I just thought it would be a cool power to have.  You briefly get to see him get completely frozen in the third X-Men movie.  

The Flash - There have been many incarnations of the Flash over the decades.  Each of them very interesting and different in their own right.  One of my all0time favorite super heroes.  Just loved reading the comics as a kid.  Again, it's one of those powers that would be cool to have.  Hopefully, we'll see him on the big screen someday.

I don't really think comics as nerdy anymore.  Not after most comic related movies make millions and millions of dollars.  Someone has to buy the tickets and it's not just comic book readers.  Check it out sometime.  I think some of the best writers in the world, write comic books.  You already know the art is going to be fantastic.  I bet if you go to your local store regularly, you'll see someone there you know personally.  It's a fun hobby to have.  See you next week.  Cheers, Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

10 Questions With...Greg Burgess and Jack Hanlon of The Throttles

Greg Burgess on guitar and Jack Hanlon on double bass

This is the second interview in the new series, 10 Questions With...  Which as you all know from the first one, is much more than just ten questions.  These interviews go hand in hand with the reviews of the CDs I get.  It's a mixer of sorts, a get to know the performers type of thing.  

This particular interview was with both Greg Burgess and Jack Hanlon of The Throttles.  They took some time out of their busy days and read their email.  We'll (I'll) have to figure out how to interview two people using the same questions.  There were a couple of the same answers, but that's my mistake, it's bound to happen.

Derek Johnson : What made each of you start playing your respective instruments?  Who are your earliest and current influences?  Talk about your background in music.

Greg Burgess: I started playing guitar in high school.  It seemed like a fun thing to do when I was high on pot.  I thought the coolest thing about the guitar was that they “didn’t,” teach it in school.  

Jack Hanlon: Growing up, two of my friends were starting to play. One played drums, the other played guitar, so I ended up buying a bass. I wouldn't switch to double bass until I started playing in The Crowns. Influences, let's see, guys like Willie Dixon, Big Crawford, Wellman Braud. The old blues guys mainly. I've been playing music for over twenty years. I've had very little formal training.

My earliest influence was Angus Young.  I was in the sixth grade and I went to see my first concert: AC/DC at the Boston Garden.  None of my friends were allowed to go so my Old Man had to take me.  I was absolutely blown away.  It was AC/DC in their prime with Brian Johnson, anyways.  Also, the first time I saw footage of Jimi Hendrix, (it was some special or something and he was doing a version of ‘Voodoo Child) it had the same impact as that AC/DC concert.  I’m all about the Gypsy jazz players now, starting with Django Reinhardt, the inventor of the Gypsy Jazz guitar to the current Gypsy guitar players in Europe

When I got half proficient on the guitar I had the need to play with people, so I started going to blues jams in Boston, waiting around all night to get up at the end of the night to play the three songs that you were allowed.  It took a little while and then I started getting better. 
Here’s my only question about the “old” band.  It’s not if there will be a reunion.  I know everyone is off doing other things.  It’s been about 10 years or so since, The Amazing Royal Crowns ended.  Knowing what you know now, is there anything you guys wish happened or did differently?  I don’t mean more success or anything like that, but are you happy with how that part of your career turned out?  I can’t even figure out a good way to word it.

Nothing overly apparent. I wish we could have been on one label as opposed to having to bounce around like we did but that was not our fault. Both labels we were on went belly up. Let's just say, I'm at peace with how thing turned out.

Maybe because it’s been so long, but when I think back to the Crowns’ days, all I can remember is the total good times.  It was the best time of my life playing in that band!

Do you think the Providence scene has rebounded?  There was a couple of years where it didn’t seem like much was going on.  Currently, it looks like there are a lot of really good diverse bands and performers around.  

I think there are some great bands in town.  I love Joe Fletcher and the Wrong Reasons and not just because I played a little guitar in the band at one point.  I really think the band has grown into it’s own.  Joe’s a great songwriter and their new record “White Lighter” is one I listen to often.  I love Brown Bird, another group of great players and great songs.  I think they’re fantastic.  Also, one of my favorite bands is Alec K. Redfearn & the Eyesores.  Our drummer Matt plays in that band and it is some far out World Music stuff.  Their music is incredibly inspiring!

Right now there are lots of great bands around. The Wrong Reasons, Brown Bird, Girl Haggard. Lots of great rootsy stuff, you know?  

Talk about the new band, The Throttles.  I know both of you play or fill in, for a variety of bands in the New England area.  What made you want to do another band together?  What made you want to have it be a trio?  What does Matt McLaren bring to the lineup?

The Throttles is a mix of a lot of styles. Latin, Swing, Bluesy stuff, a little bit of Country at times. We cover a lot of ground but really try to make it a cohesive sound. We like a lot of different kinds of music and it comes out in the song writing. Greg and I had been talking about doing our own band for quite some time. It just took awhile to get it off the ground. Matt really holds the whole band together. He's so knowledgeable when it comes to drums and percussion. I don't think there are many drummers as versatile as he is. A lot of guys would have trouble fitting in with us because they would have to be just as comfortable playing Punk beats as they would with Bosa Nova rhythms.

Matt is just a phenomenal drummer, totally versatile in a number of styles, different time signatures, and all sorts of crazy stuff.  He can do anything and completely pushes me to want to play better all of the time.

How does the song writing process work for the band?  Is it more jamming with each other or do you come in with ideas worked out?  Who is the lyricist?

Greg writes almost everything. He usually has a lot of it worked out but we'll usually practice things a bit before we play it live and sometimes Matt and I will contribute in those situations. The more difficult song with more parts are done this way. Sometimes Greg just has a few parts that he shows us and we'll just start playing them live and let the jamming take the song where it wants to go. We write lyrics for our own songs although we're open to working on collaborating in the future.

We hardly rehearse at all so the songs are forced to take shape live.  Sometimes it’s magic, sometimes it’s not.

How do you describe The Throttles musically?  There are so many different types of music going on in the CD.

I guess it would be kind of a ‘World-Music-Meets-Americana’.  There’s just so much music out there to be into.  It’s hard just sticking to one thing.

I guess at the end of the day we're a Rock band with a lot of different influences. I think our sound is definitely rhythm oriented. As long as it has a good beat. Slow or fast. Doesn't matter..

You guys have a show coming up with Los Straitjackets in New Haven, CT on Feb.17th at Cafe Nine.  They are also a favorite band of mine and are really fun to watch live.  After all the years of touring, are there any bands that you haven’t played with yet, that you’d like to?  Who? 

I would LOVE to play with Heavy Trash.  God, I love that band and would kill to be on the same bill with them.  There are so many others, but that band sticks out.

Will The Throttles tour?  If so, would it be the New England circuit (if there is such a thing anymore) or more than that?  

I’d love to tour with the Throttles, I just don’t know.  It’s a day-by-day thing with us and we’re trying to play as much as we can right now.  We’re still in the process of developing our sound at every gig. 

We've talked about it. I know Matt would like to get us over to Europe. He thinks we'd do real well over there.

What does the future hold for The Throttles?  Another album, maybe some festival shows (Hootenanny), anything else?

Just trying to play as much as possible to support this record. I think we'll do more recording in the future as well.

Right now we’ve just been writing songs and playing out.  I would absolutely love and hope we do another record way sooner than later.  That’s the goal, anyway. 
Here is now the hardest question ever:  Who are your All-Time 5 Favorite bands for each of you?

The Clash
Bob Dylan
The Beatles
Jimi Hendrix Experience

Husker Du/Bob Mould
Yo La Tengo  
Howlin' Wolf
The Ramones 

Thank you to Greg and Jack for their time. 

Visit their site to find out where to see them live and listen to some songs.
Purchase their music here and here.

For any other bands/artists out there that are interested in being reviewed and interviewed, please contact me.  Thanks again.