Vinyl? Yes, vinyl!
I love the internet. It brought us many a wondrous thing, like BRP. But it also led to the downfall of many other cool things, like book stores and record stores. I used to love going into record stores and hunting around for new bands, new sounds, and checking out the cut-out bin. Finding new music back then was a challenge, and I loved the thrill of the hunt. If you're too young to remember those days, well, you missed out on something.
With the introduction and huge popularization of CDs in the 90s, record stores became purveyors of both vinyl and CDs. Eventually, CDs pushed the vinyl farther and farther into the back of the stores, and it appeared to all that the days of vinyl were over. Vinyl records ended up in used record shops for those who were either too cheap to buy a CD player, or so wedded to the "warmth" of vinyl that they never left the format. Digitalization and its downloads seemed destined to end packaged music forever.
But the death of vinyl did not happen. Rappers and indie rockers started to release singles and EPs on vinyl due to their low cost to produce and sell. DJs still hunted up vinyl. And people started moving back to the format. And now comes the news that Sony Music Entertainment, which owns the Columbia and RCA labels, is going to produce vinyl records for the first time in almost 30 years. According to the Wall Street Journal, vinyl record sales in the U.S. are up for the eleventh year in a row, and in the UK, they sold more than digital downloads last year. Whoa! Sony is going to produce the vinyl records in Japan, a country that never really took to the digital revolution and where Tower Records and many other hard format purveyors still thrive.
And guess what? It doesn't stop there. Panasonic is now selling Technics turntables, and Sony is introducing turntables that play the records and also digitally store the music in hi-def format.
Being the hoarder that I am, I still have a lot of vinyl in my house. That's a picture above of my few hundred albums. I can't say that I buy them anymore, but I have a lot from my youth, and I still listen to them on occasion. I have some stuff that is incredibly hard to find in any other format, like the most excellent XTC track "Take This Town." (It's on youtube, of course, and I linked to it below.)
But vinyl for me conjures up memories of cleaning each record with the discwasher system, cleaning the stylus, getting up every 4 or 5 songs to flip it and clean it all again, and cussing when I dropped or scratched the fragile records. The pop, hiss and "warmth" that you get from records? Not my thing. As soon as I got the money, I went to CDs and never looked back. To me, CDs were superior in many ways - more dynamic range, no cleaning, they played straight through without having to flip them, they didn't get scratched or ruined, you could immediately skip to your favorite track and hit it over and over again, and they replaced cassettes in the car. I still like them enough to buy them, both new and old.
What about digital downloads and streaming? Well, you can't fight the system, and the digitalization of music is one of the game-changers of the internet age. I have a huge iPod packed with tens of thousands of songs, including all of my CDs. I'm not a guy who buys a few hundred singles and listens to them over and over. I have Amazon Prime and use that streaming service in a limited way, and I have a non-subscription version of Spotify. I know, I know, I'm getting there. But digital music is seriously compressed, sometimes to the point where entire guitar solos disappear, and the sound quality is lacking. I don't get how younger people have foregone the amazing sound systems that the boomers enjoyed in exchange for convenience and a 2 inch tinny computer speaker. I spent thousands on my stereo system back in the day, and the sound and dynamic range were incredible. Just ask the neighbors down the street from my parents house.
One thing that I do miss about LPs is the cover art and the size of the jackets. Cover art was a huge phenomenon. Go look at the old albums for Hendrix or the Beatles (or hell, even Molly Hatchet), and you will see what I mean. They also often came with lyric sheets (where the fonts were sized so that even I could read them), and some had fold outs with more pictures. CDs offer decent packaging, but it's so small that I need these ridiculous Peabody and Sherman 2.0 readers to decipher them.
So that's my turntable pictured above. Not very snazzy, but a good piece of equipment. I have never used a stack of pennies on the stylus/arm to keep the needle pressed into the grooves of the records. Well, at least not on this turntable. I did, of course, use such a sophisticated system on our old "close 'n play" record player. My brothers and I would listen to records while we fell asleep. As a kid, the soothing sounds of the Black Sabbath's "Paranoid" or Steppenwolf's "Greatest Hits" were just the antidote for insomnia. Strange, but true.
I'm glad to see vinyl make a comeback. I'm happy that music is once again for sale in a format where you actually own the music that you buy (not so with iTunes, the bastards). And I'm satisfied with the thought that record and CD stores may soon fill empty storefronts again. (I'll blog about a few CD/record shops that I frequent on the Main Line another day.)
And with that, I'm off. You readers are the best, and I'm glad that you keep visiting. If you keep returning, I'll keep it coming. One last tune for you, from the fabulous Steppenwolf, and then I'm G-O-N-E ... at least until next time.
June Songs - Just in Time for July
Man, have I ever been delinquent in getting out new and old songs to cool down your hot summer. My bad, I'll try not to let it happen again. Here are some songs that I thought were worth listening to. If you’re up for it, I am, too. And I swear that I’m not related to any of these artists, much to their relief. Ready? Me, too. Hey ho, let's go!
This English band has been around for quite a while, and they are big-time in their native land. But in the U.S., they are virtual unknowns. Why? Me don’t know. But I saw them a few years back at the TLA, and they rocked. They also are not afraid of very loud bass, the kind that makes you think you can feel your own heart beating while you are just standing there. Here’s a great track called “Empire.” Dig it.
? and the Mysterians
I know you know these guys and that you know this song. “96 Tears” is, without a doubt, one of my all-time favorite songs. I love the pumping organ, the fantastic lyrics earnestly delivered by ? himself, and the garage-rock flavor of this track. It’s a song that should never be forgotten, and so here it is again, remembered.
4 Out Of 5 Doctors
Sticking with the one-hit wonders theme, here’s a great track by a virtually unknown band. Along with the Pousette-Dart Band, one of the best things that my older brother ever introduced into our household was the song “Waiting For A Change.” It’s as true today as it was when it was released in the early 80s. When I was in college (I know, hard to believe that I was ever a college boy, right?) I saw these guys at the long-defunct Bayou in Georgetown, and had a great time. If you know this song, you’ll know what I am talking about. Otherwise, welcome to the team!
Last one-hitter, ok? These guys are so 1970s new wave it is hard to listen to without being transported right back to those days. Never saw them, don’t know if they ever toured the U.S. But this song from 1978 is catchy and has a great guitar sound. I have no idea what it’s about – never cared enough to explore the lyrics – but it’s a great song for the car in the summer with the top down and the volume up. Here’s the excuse: “Sorry, officer, it was that damned BRP and his 999 recommendation!” Works every time! Here you go: “Chicane Destination.”
Most opening acts need polishing and many never amount to much. But the Weeks opened for the Revivalists at Union Transfer, and simply tore the joint up. Fronted by twin brothers, these guys are originally from Mississippi but now hang out in Nashville. They don’t sound like traditional Nashville one bit – they rock! Maybe they are hanging out with the Kings of Leon or Dan Auerbach? Who knows, but listen to “Buttons” and then start digging into the Spotify account for more, more, more. Then tell me how do you like it.
This band name sounds like a restaurant off the New Jersey turnpike. Their music, however, sounds fantastic. I found out about them watching MTV Live late one night. I can’t remember the show, but they played a few songs live, and I liked every track. That’s unusual. I grabbed my phone, wrote myself a note to check them out, and now you get the benefit of my fastidious and careful lifestyle. Hahaha. Anyway, this song is called “Silhouettes” and It’s really good.
Hats off to Luke who turned me on to these guys. I can hear a lot of influences in there, but they have an original rocking sound that reminds me of the best garage bands and power pop, 80s style. The track I picked is “Little Silver Cross,” but check out the video for “The World’s Best American Band.” The lesson from that one is to never eat a hot dog that you find in the woods.
That’s enough for today. I’ll keep hunting for great new songs and digging into the archives for past treasures. I’m always interested in your suggestions, too. Keep ‘em coming, and I’ll share with the rest of the BRP community, which is HUGE. Enjoy the day and visit me again soon. Love you, Philly!
BRP Gets Trashy
Welcome back to BillyRocksPhilly! This post is not really about music (but I threw some in any way), so forgive me. Rather, it’s a glimpse into my thoughts. Please follow the sign below to enter this house of horrors.
I’ve been spending some time on the Eastern Shore – both Maryland and Delaware. Driving around here is interesting. If you go east to the ocean, you hit the barrier islands and find an interesting array of beach towns, from the swanky to the smarmy. There is a lot of activity regardless of which one you hit. I was primarily in Ocean City, Maryland.
I have to tell you that Ocean City is one crazy boardwalk town. It bills itself as a family resort, but has a casino, restaurants named Big Pecker’s, the Bearded Clam, the Bad Ass Café and the Brass Balls, and there are tons of places selling liquor, beer and wine, which makes me think of the Rev. Horton Heat’s oddball song of the same name.
If you’re sitting in some uptight community, you owe it to yourself to come to OC to let your hair down. Or at least come look around and soak it in. I’m not sure that there is anything like the mid-Atlantic boardwalk towns anywhere else in the world. I’ve never seen anything like them in Europe, the Caribbean or elsewhere in the US. Seedy and thriving boardwalks that are full of junk food, rides and amusements. They are noisy, garishly lit, chock a block with souvenir stores selling the most awful t-shirts and other items that you can imagine, and packed full of some of the most fascinating people you have ever laid eyes on. And all ocean front! I loved it as a kid, tolerated it as a parent, and now gawk at it slack-jawed as a grandparent. If you think US culture is trashy and getting worse, well, here is Exhibit A. And if you find this an interesting use of land otherwise at a huge premium, you won’t be alone.
If you head inland a few miles, you’re in agricultural country, with lots of soybean and corn being grown, and a number of chicken farming operations. It’s always curious to me how production of food usually involves very strong and offensive odors. I passed some farms that reeked of fertilizer and manure. And chicken farms have a strong ammonia and manure smell. There you are, driving along a pastoral country road, and BAM, this unseen smell smacks you right in the nose. Hungry yet? Mmmm, no. It reminds me of the Maine Avenue seafood market in DC – my god, it had great seafood, but if you hit it on a warm summer’s day, the smell knocked you down. It’s funny that they are now building expensive condos there – I get it from a location standpoint, but is it possible to ever rid that area of the smell of rotting fish?
Anyway, as I was driving around, I came to the conclusion that country people call it like it is. I was driving on Route 54 outside of Selbyville, and came across this street sign:
Dirt Lane. Here’s the street:
Yup, it’s a dirt lane alright. Sometimes, it’s best just to name something dead on, you know, just use the name to describe it, like the Rocky Mountains. But given that that is not always the case, people don’t always take place names seriously. Hey, if something is named Shark Bay, it’s probably not a good idea to swim there, right? So would you buy a piece of property at this finely-named establishment:
Termite Acres! Praise the Lord and board the horse. I wonder if Terminix will even come to your home if you buy there? You’re sort of asking for it, right? At least be smart enough to forego the hardwood floors. I couldn’t find a termite song, but did remember the Who’s weird song, “Boris the Spider.” Here it is in all its glory:
Boys, put those drugs down!
If you take nothing else from this post, here is the one thing to remember: follow the speed limit in Delaware. I drove for about 30 years without ever getting a speeding ticket. Then my parents moved to Delaware, and tickets have been raining down on me like ticker-tape on VE day. I don’t know why the cops here are such sticklers, but damn! Here’s a great song by the Bottle Rockets to commemorate my recent experiences driving in Delaware – “Radar Gun”.
Back to the boardwalk. I took this picture inside of Trimpers amusement park for all those that hate clowns, me included.
Why the big painted on smile? There’s a reason Stephen King used clowns as purveyors of evil in his classic horror story “It.” Clowns freak me out. How about a clown song? Here we go, one we all know:
I’m tired and ready to split. Thanks for tolerating my warped mind yet again, and for indulging me while I observed the Eastern Shore summer in full swing. It’s almost the 4th of July (can you believe it?), and I’ll be back with some patriotic stuff to warm your heart. In the meantime, you take it easy and sip something cold and refreshing. BRP forever! Love you, rockers.
Wassssup? I did some driving today, and explored my iPod while moving on down the road. I listened to some great songs that I hadn't heard in a while, and others that are part of my recent "go to" list. Want to hear some? I sure hope so.
Let's start with an old song that still sounds fresh and cutting edge: Mission of Burma's "Academy Fight Song." Roger Miller and Clint Conley were the driving forces behind this Boston-based post-punk band. I never saw them live, but they had a reputation for playing very loudly - so loudly that the band broke up because of Miller's tinnitus. This was a band way ahead of its time, and very influential on other bands that went on to much larger commercial success. But this track is fabulous, catchy and edgy with great lyrics. REM covered this song later, but MOB's track is the one that I prefer. Here you go:
How about something lighter and sweeter? NRBQ, one of the all-time great bar bands, had so many fabulous songs about girls, cars, and hanging out with the guys. One of the best of their deep catalog is a poppy love song about missing out on a love, but remembering her every time you drove around. "Ridin' In My Car" is a classic, and one of my favorite NRBQ songs. [One warning: NRBQ still tours, but it is not the original lineup and they don't play many of their best songs. It's essentially a Terry Adams show, and it's not that good - I wasted my money, and left early. But back in the day ... man, oh man, were these guys fun to see live!]
George Clinton is a national treasure. Frontman for a bunch of different versions of the madcap funksters best known as Parliament Funkadelic, Clinton is one of America's all-time most influential purveyors of popular music. I love da funk, and have seen P Funk a bunch of times. Some of their antics on stage are silly, but they give up hours of great funky tunes that always please the crowd. Here's one of da best: "Give Up The Funk." Trying to stay seated while this one is playing is a futile exercise - get up and jam!
Want something newer? Of course you do. How about Speedy Ortiz? Another Massachusetts band, these rising stars in the indie rock scene busted out in 2015. "Raising the Skate" shows their penchant for catchy but offbeat tunes, sharp lyrics and a contemporary sound that will have you humming their tunes weeks after you first hear them. Enjoy.
Do you have time for one more? Let's hope so. The Jayhawks are a seminal American alt-country band. They have some fantastic songs that, along with Uncle Tupelo, propelled the alt-country movement of the mid-90s. Coming out of Minnesota, these guys have written some beautiful tunes that make you hit the repeat button over and over. One of the best is "I'd Run Away," and here it is for you to enjoy.
One more to fill up the Saturday six pack, ok? Here's a song that has a great tune. It's lyrics are pretty funny - misogynistic? Well, not at the end. Why this song? Well, we were driving back from an event in Philly on Thursday, and it was a very warm night. I had the top down in the car, and while we were pulling away from a light, Helen saw a woman and said, "nice legs." The first thing I thought (yes, and I said it, too) was "shame about her face." It reminded me of this song that came out when I was in college. I listened to it on my drive today. I hope you take in the spirit of fun in which it was created.
Hey, I'm in a bit of a live music lull right now - no shows until after July 4 - but not to worry, I have plenty up my sleeves to keep you entertained and happy. And after July 4, I go ripping again with a strong slate of shows. And, oh my, September is shaping up to be a fantastic live music month. Come hang out with me all summer long, and bring your friends.
See you later. You know I already miss you so much I can't stand it. I'll be right here when you need me, ok? And check out the archives in your free time. Party on, Wayne.
Rock, Rolling and SCOTUS
We all know that the U.S. Supreme Court is packed with aged jurists who stay forever and basically die in office. But as I recently came across an article on the Rolling Stones, I pondered the question: who is older, SCOTUS or the Stones?
Uh oh, rockers. There are nine Supreme Court Justices. Only two are over the age of 80 and there is only one in their 70s. The average age? 67.
The Stones are basically down to four members (Jagger, Richards, Wood, Watts). Guess what? The average age of the four is 73! And if you throw in Wyman, it goes up to 74.
What does this mean? Hell if I know. Maybe these four punkers pictured in front of the Supreme Court building in DC could tell us, but they would probably just say "gabba gabba hey" or something.
I'm troubled that the big rockers who pack the festivals, arenas and stadiums are all aging boomers. I don't think rock is in trouble, and one Low Cut Connie show will prove that, but I do wonder when another explosion of rock fury, ala, grunge, will explode and push back the ever-increasing tide of pop, hip-hop, rap and whatever the heck you call Ed Sheeran's music. I'm ready.
And with these random and useless thoughts, I leave you to your day. Rock on, even if that means in your rocking chair. And hey, Stones? You guys ought to think about those clothes you are wearing these days, haha.
An Opportunity ... Missed
I'm sure that you have read many times in self-help books and personal finance magazines that when opportunities present themselves, you need to seize them. Carpe diem! Go for it! Take a leap of faith and hope for the best! Nothing ventured, nothing gained! Schlitz beer, an unfortunate brand that once was huge but was squandered by people who apparently went on to work for Sears, used to say that you only go around once in life so you need to grab the gusto.
I did not grab the gusto, and probably missed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity this past weekend.
Here's what happened. I was at a Salvation Army store in the Philly 'burbs on Saturday. Please don't ask why. I kind of dig thrift stores, and we were in the neighborhood. Plus, I needed a new work wardrobe, preferably one that smelled of old dog. Notwithstanding why I was there, I found myself poking around doing my best Napoleon Dynamite, looking for that dance tape that will lead to infamy and a t-shirt that says "Vote for Pablo." I didn't find the dance tape, but I did find a book by Bill Bryson, who I think is very funny, and I bought it for less than $1.
But that was an opportunity grabbed. As I continued to browse the used shoes and stained ties, I stumbled upon something intriguing. I held in my hands something amazing, but, alas, decided not to partake. Am I kicking myself? Well, no. But, maybe, yes. You see, what I found, for a mere $2.97, was the complete discography of none other than the Captain and Tennille.
Take a look:
If you look at the packaging, you will see that it's a 6 CD collection and it's unopened. It includes all of their recorded output from 1975-1980, a time period when C&T tormented my late teen years with all kinds of sappy songs that females of the era seemed to enjoy. Check out those songs: they include my all-time favorite "Muskrat Love!"
The boxed set probably comes in at about a dime per song, which, if they were good, would be a huge bargain, but since they are terrible equates to setting your $2.97 on fire.
Goodwill has them priced to sell, but still, no one wants them. It's a damn shame ... that they wasted good plastic and aluminum to make these CDs. What I should have done was bought the boxed set and very sincerely gifted them to someone I secretly detest. Or bought them and played them very loud outside on my back patio while the neighbors are having a cookout, and I'm inside with the windows closed. Or simply bought them and did a Jimi Hendrix-like funeral pyre on them so that no living soul would ever have to hear them.
I didn't buy them. Instead, I left them with an RFD tag so that I could track the poor soul who purchased them thinking "hey, these two were big back in the day." I would like to find that person and have them institutionalized to protect decent society from the likes of them. True, they were big back in the day, but they sucked. Let's not forget that.
Remember that while "Love Will Keep Us Together" was saturating tsunamis of radio airwaves, good bands like the Ramones, Clash, Jam and XTC couldn't get any radio airplay whatsoever. Bands that mattered, that produced music that people still want to hear, and that influenced many groups that followed, were ignored in favor of "Muskrat Love." Even C&T must have been unhappy about that, and here's the picture to prove it:
If you want to go get the boxed set, I'm damn sure it's still sitting in the back of the Goodwill store, and still priced at $2.97. I won't tell if you buy it. Unless, that is, I see you do it, in which case your face will look every bit as happy as the cover of "Happy Together." Hahaha, that's a joke. Sort of.
OK, gang, that's it for my missed opportunity. I'll try better to seize the day next time. In the meantime, you have a great day and if you see any muskrats, give 'em some love.
Another Festival? Yes, Indeed
This seems to be my year for festivals. I was at another one last Sunday in beautiful Camden, NJ. The Radio 104.5 10 year anniversary festival or some such thing rolled into South Jersey. I wasn’t planning on attending, but when all 3 of my kids expressed interest in going, I went for it. They all wanted to see the headliner, The Killers, but there was a pretty strong supporting lineup including Foster the People, Bleachers and Kaleo. A bunch of other lesser known bands played earlier in the day.
It was hot last Sunday, and the Camden venue is one of those outdoor covered amphitheaters with the large lawn. (It’s owned by Live Nation so you know it’s going to be expensive, and it is a cookie cutter of similar Live Nation venues across the country.) Parking was $40, which is more than an entire night of one person’s entertainment – ticket, parking and libations – at most clubs. But for that, you get to be in Camden! You would think that after all these years of having this venue on the Camden waterfront that there would be other privately-owned development supporting the venue, but you would be wrong. It’s still an island (along with the Battleship New Jersey, which is very much worth seeing, and the Aquarium, which is pretty good, too), and there isn’t much to do there except park close and hope that your car is ok when you get back to it.
The lack of competition means that you either tailgate like you are going to a football game (seriously?) or go inside and get ripped off. And the venue itself is big, arena-like, full of stupid advertising and signs (see below for proof) but lacking in arena amenities like air conditioning and large HD screens. Sure, you get a seat, but they allow standing room in the pit in front, and that means that everyone in row A stands up and the domino effect is in play – if you want to see, you have to stand. Now, I don’t mind standing at most shows, but I know plenty of people that complain about having to stand at clubs. So here you are, paying steep prices for a seat and being forced to stand. Given that the two screens inside the covered part of the amphitheater are not much bigger than my TV at home, it kind of sucks. But at least you are in Camden.
If you’re getting the sense that I hate this venue, you are right. It’s too bad that the Mann Theater in Fairmont Park isn’t the outdoor venue of choice for summer rock shows, but it isn’t. So be it. How about some music talk? OK, ok, here we go.
First up was a band called Kaleo. I had heard the name before but not the music. I did not like their first few songs at all – slow, sullen ballads – but eventually they realized that the instruments in their hands were electric and amplified, and they made better use of them after that. They only played about 40 minutes, which was good with me. Most of the crowd seemed to feel the same way as there was a lot of milling around, talking and doing most everything but watching the band.
And then came Bleachers. Whoa, these guys were the best band of the night. Jack Antonoff leads this band (and also the band Fun), and he is a great performer. Antonoff wore a baseball uniform and cap, and bounced around the stage leading anthemic tunes to a delighted audience. His backup band was solid and ripped – most of the songs benefitted from the live environment and are much better than on CD. This is a band to watch.
Foster the People came on after a short break. Mark Foster founded this band in LA in 2009 and they caught on big after the release of “Pumped Up Kicks.” They have a bunch of other songs that are commercially successful, such as “Helena Beat,” “Coming of Age,” and “Don’t Stop (Color on the Walls)”. They played a festival-length set of 45 minutes, and hit all their commercial tunes. Foster can groove and move, and his dance steps are fun to watch. He is clearly the focus of the band as all the other members stayed in their spots and let Foster do all the showmanship. We enjoyed this set quite a bit and wished they had played longer.
Finally, The Killers took the stage. Here’s a fun fact: Brandon Flowers played cornerback for the Virginia Tech Hokies and has had a terrific NFL career. And he also sings for The Killers! It’s truly remarkable. Anyway, the Killers came on and ripped into “Mr. Brightside” followed by “Spaceman,” and that’s all it took to blow the roof off the joint. The crowd knew all the words, sang along mightily, and enjoyed the arena-rock sound as the band went from hit to hit – “When You Were Young,” “Human” (which features the stupidest chorus line in history – are we human or are we dancers – but is otherwise a great song), “Somebody Told Me,” “Read My Mind.” But Mr. Flowers was not in his best form as he was struggling to hit the high notes and his voice actually cracked during one song. He has a decent enough stage presence and is clearly the focal point of the band, but his voice and command over the powerful ripping vocals that are his trademark are what you go to see. When they aren’t there, it makes the event less than ideal. But it was still really fun, and with so many great songs, it’s clear that these guys are the best Mormon band out of Las Vegas ever.
That was it for the evening. We got out of the parking lot quickly, didn’t suffer any vandalism or get shot at, and made it back over the bridge to a welcoming Pennsylvania.
I’ll be back shortly with some more fun because it’s always fun here at BRP. Best to you all. Stay free!
Summertime finally hit this past weekend, and BRP celebrated it in a big way. The weather was warm and the music was plentiful. In true hypocritical BRP fashion, I violated my “I’m not really a festival guy” guideline, not once, but twice. That means that I have a lot to write about and explain, and much to tell you. Enough of this intro stuff, let’s move on.
Saturday was achingly beautiful in the Philly area: warm, breezy, tons of sunshine, and low humidity. The best township on the Main Line hosted the Wayne Music Festival, an annual tradition that is becoming a beloved event, and this year they upped the ante by bringing in some bands that people had actually heard of before. We got up there in time to see Huffamoose, then followed up with Ben Arnold, Rugby Road, and finally, Rusted Root.
Here are some good things about the WMF. It’s FREE! It takes place about 10 minutes from my house. It’s full of family, friends, neighbors and acquaintances. It’s FREE! The restaurants and bars in Wayne don’t gouge you, but instead charge their normal prices for food and beverages. It’s modest in size but growing by leaps and bounds, and isn’t full of young drunks (but watch out for those lecherous, buzzed, 50+ fat dudes, haha). Oh, and it’s FREE!
Downsides are the typical complaints about festivals: bands play short sets, there is more talking and milling about than focus on the music, and parking and crowd management are a hassle. But since it’s free, it’s hard to complain. Now, I’ve been to WMF in past years, and the musical talent has been, ahem, modest. This year was different as the powers that be brought in bands that people knew, and that swelled the crowds and made the event noteworthy from the blogger perspective.
How was the music? Here are a few pictures and a short discussion about each band that I checked out:
Huffamoose These guys had a few albums out in the 90s, then split up and went their separate ways. This was not the first reunion show they have played, but they only play together sporadically. I own the first album which includes the great song “Wait” and a number of lesser tunes that are still worth listening to. But I flubbed up on this one: I thought they were coming on at 8 (they came on at 5), and we were watching them for just a bit before Helen said, “that’s Huffamoose.” I said something lame like "they only sound like Huffamoose, but they are coming on later." She insisted she was right, and clearly she was. It just goes to show you that even globally-famous music bloggers are still idiots. Anyway, their set was good, they ended with “James” which we fondly remembered, and they played a nice set. The pics came out good, too.
Ben Arnold I had heard of Ben before, but knew virtually nothing about him. This was the best surprise of the day – he jammed loud and brought a big band with him complete with horns. His blues music was simply great, and we enjoyed this set immensely. Ben has a good voice, and the lead guitarist let it rip a couple of times, thus proving how hard it is to make it big in the music industry. Great pictures on this one, too. I would recommend seeing Ben if you get the chance.
Rugby Road Fraternity row at UVa is on Rugby Road. I have no idea if these guys are named after that dubious space in Charlottesville, but they don't smell like puke, and have been on the Philly local scene for a few decades. They play blues-oriented rock, and proved that they can carry a one hour set with good songs and tight arrangements. I liked them, and if you get the chance to check them out, you should. You could do far worse. I got some good shots of the band, including a number from the side.
This band is big enough to even have a logo. But that didn’t make them the best band of the day despite their headliner status. In fact, while I like some of their more up-tempo, percussion-heavy songs, they also have a bad habit of mixing in boring, slow, world-music ballads. We ended up talking a lot with friends and neighbors while these guys were on stage despite having great seats (yes, seats!) and fantastic sightlines of the stage. When they came on, it was dark, and the stage lights and darkness played havoc with my camera. I have some pictures, but like the band that is their subject, they really aren’t all that.
The WMF ended with fireworks over Lancaster Avenue. It was a quick Uber ride home and was a very satisfying day. As one of my buddies said, we live in a pretty special area. And as my man from Ridgewood, NJ said, “I wish Ridgewood had something that matched this!”
All right stags and hens, it’s time to sign off and get cranking on my next missive about the Radio 104.5 10th Anniversary show in lovely Camden, NJ. I’ll be back with that before you know it. Go have some summer fun, and to help get you in the mood, here’s a great XTC two-some. See ya shortly!
Hey, team BRP, are you ready for some tidbits? I hope so because that’s what is on today’s menu. I hope you enjoy.
Let’s start with potty humor. It’s standard fare in BRP’s household (well, at least when I’m at home), and is without doubt some of the funniest stuff going. Here are two pictures that I took when I was venturing around the country. One is from a roadside restroom in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. Check it out: a how-to guide on how to sit on the crapper.
You do it with your butt! Whoa, you mean, you don’t squat on top of the thing and play B-52 with the toilet? No making chimp beef? Who woulda thunk?
And what do you make of this sign from Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, Florida. Women, check. Men, check. Pink pelicans, check.
Seriously, what does that sign mean? I’ve thought about it a lot, all of 30 seconds, and none of my theories make sense. I'm still trying to figure out why the only one smart enough to actually make any use of the toilet is the pelican. I think it just might be the humor of people who spend their entire lives in hot weather and whose brains are, well, fried.
Hey, in Yellowstone, we saw this camper:
It was better in person. We didn’t stick around to see what came out of it, but it smelled of hippie to me, you know, the kind that don't wear deodorant and think that they don't smell. Yes, California plates in case you were wondering.
Moving on, quickly, we get to one refreshing beverage: the Bacon soda.
There is nothing better than sugar and fat, right? You combine the two, make it drinkable and portable, and voila, you end up with an obesity problem. I had never heard of bacon soda before, but if you’re going to put bacon on top of doughnuts, why not drop a little in your Coke, too?
Speaking of Coke, they now put names on their bottles. Here are two I saw at the store next to each other:
No further comment necessary. One last food-related item. Here’s a picture of Spam Lite:
If you are going to eat Glorious Spam, best to make sure to be healthy while you do it. This is true: former cannibalistic societies in the South Pacific are huge Spam eaters. I wonder why?
Last one for now. I was in the New Orleans airport, and was poking around in a news store. I saw this magazine, Garden and Gun, and thought “only in the South.”
Now, I’m from Virginia, which used to be thought of as the South, and I hold the South near and dear to my heart. But you have to admit that there are some headshaking things that come out of that region of the country, and the combination of gardening and hunting is one of them. It never occurred to me, but then again, those pesky moles and groundhogs could use a little bit of lead in their diets, right?
Do you guys know the Minions? Stuart rocks! If you can guess what type of guitar he is playing, you will be inducted into this year’s Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame class:
That’s it for today’s tidbits. Whatever the heck you are doing today, take some time to enjoy the fun, the weird and the absurd all around you. You’re already well on your way by reading this blog. See you soon, little ones. Keep on rockin’ in the free world! Back soon with a review of the Wayne Music Festival, which was super fun, and a radio station festival in Camden.
Let There Be Blood!
What is with this East Coast weather? It’s June 7, and I spent a chilly evening (lows in the 50s) going out to see some music. Thankfully, the band was smoking hot, and Union Transfer was rocking hard. I’ve never heard a crowd at UT as loud as the crowd there last night. For who?
Royal Blood is the band’s name. They are a two-piece outfit out of Brighton, England. Mike Kerr plays bass and sings, and Ben Thacher plays the drums. But like the Japandroids, two guys can make a lot of noise, and these guys were blazin’. The band is just about to release their second album, and with luck, it will be the equal of their eponymous first effort.
I know the first album well as it hits my sweet spot: bluesy, hard rocking, with elements of punk, garage, classic rock, and other guitar-based sub-genres. If I were 16 (I’m not, I only write like I am), I would have simply said that they rock really hard. And that is so true. I’ve further damaged my ears listening to these guys in my car, and they didn’t disappoint in the live show. Loud? Oh, hells yes! I had plugs in and still had ringing in my ears when I woke up this morning.
I don’t know the origin of the band’s name, but it is cool and reflects the fact that the Brits still have royals and titled gentry. You know, guys like Sir Paul McCartney and Sir Rod Stewart – not exactly the knights of the round table, right? Better? You betcha! Regardless of the band’s name, these guys have become pretty big themselves, playing the festival circuit, being named Best Live Act and Best New Band by NME, and opening for the Foo Fighters last year. It was terrific to see them at UT, one of my favorite Philly venues.
The boys came out and just ripped it up. They didn’t play long (one hour), but they also didn’t waste time with encores and the like. They basically played the entire first album and about 6 new tracks. The crowd was jamming – lots of moshing and crowd surfing – and like I said, they were loud. If anyone is concerned that the world is only made up of hip-hop, pop and rap, Royal Blood is a nice blast of loud and aggressive rock ‘n roll. Old school, yes, but with a new update to it, and while you might hear references to things you know, it’s an original sound, not a retread.
If you want to read more about RB, here is a link to their website, which is cool and well designed: royalbloodband.com/site
Opening up for RB was a band that Tom Petty has glommed onto: the Shelters. Out of LA, these guys use the classic two guitars, bass and drums to good effect. We were impressed enough to consider them up-and-comers, and they were a worthy opening act. Here are some photos:
I’m off to see some other live music this weekend. First, it’s the Wayne Music Festival, which features the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, U2, Coldplay, and Led Zeppelin. Seriously, it has a few bands that have modest reputations, like Rusted Root and Huffamoose, but it’s FREE and about 10 minutes from my house. I’ll check out the Belmont Stakes in one of the bars, and then listen to some music. It’s supposed to be a gorgeous summer-like day, so who’s with me?
On Sunday, it’s off to Camden to see the Killers, Foster the People and Bleachers. I detest this venue, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do, and so there it is – BRP goes to Jersey. I’m going to wear a black beater t-shirt, and get a tattoo before I go so that I will fit right in. Seriously, I’ll be sure to bring plenty of cash and try to poker my face as I’m getting ripped off right and left.
Love ya all! Keep on coming back to BRP and tell your friends and family to join you. Later.
My name is Bill, and I live in the greater Philadelphia area. I love music, and I have a lot of opinions. This site is primarily focused on music, but sometimes I get off track. I hope you enjoy.