What the Heck?
The above is the BRP golden rule, the one that I always use as my guideline on how to live my life. I never get in the pool with active diarrhea, and hope that you also abide this guideline. But I must admit that I don't keep calendar entries as to when I previously was active, so I probably have violated the post-14 day rule. Apologies if you swam after me.
Seriously, who comes up with these rules? This one is from a pool in California, an area of the country that I simply didn't know had the need for such harsh anti-diarrhea regulations. But California is an interesting place, and hey, you just don't really know what's going out there. Now we know.
I liked this piece of sculpture. It's from Seward Johnson's Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, New Jersey. Yeah, I know, if I lived in NJ, I would probably look like this, too - the world having gone some kind of topsy-turvy on my butt. Nonetheless, I found this visually striking and liked it a lot. As for Seward's art, well, he had J&J money and built himself a place where he could display his stuff among that of real artists. Hahaha! If you find yourself near Princeton, you ought to swing by the GFS for an hour or two - it's worth it. Here's another cool piece, but remember, pouty lips ARE NOT a dance move in and of themselves. Got it?
How about this sculpture? It faces the stock market in Milan. I kid you not. Take that, money man!
That finger made me think of The Man. The Man is a pain in the butt, but can you imagine working in a place with these safety numbers:
Those are from Bethlehem Steel back in the day. Wow!
Philly is just great. Check out that pic of Independence Hall. If that isn't one of America's truly great buildings, I don't know what is. The rest of the country thinks of Philly as rude sports fans, but Elton sang about Philadelphia Freedom because it's the best EVER. And it all came about from a bunch of dudes who lived in the most Podunk, primitive, backwoods, off-the-map country in the 1770s. Take that, world!
Yup, that's a lazy river ride all right. Guess which state it is in? Give up? If you said "Texas," you're brilliant. It was a bit chilly the evening I took this picture, but I'll be back in Houston soon enough and I'm going in this puppy the next time I'm there (unless, of course, I have active diarrhea or have had it within the past 14 days). I'll be sure to tell you all about it, one way or another.
Isn't that picture just Divine?
Royal palms and a wall-to-wall rainbow. It's a beautiful world we share. And it's particularly enhanced by fences made of chain link, don't you agree?
Here are some cool pieces of art from Italy. It ain't all Renaissance over there, my friends.
Friends, I don't know why I got all amped up by these weird and wonderful pictures, but it all started with that sign in Napa. I'm going to get back to rock soon, I promise. That is, if I can find a show worth seeing - maybe I need to go to Austin or something as the Philly scene ain't overwhelming me right now. I hope you are checking out some music and having lots of fun. Here's a great song about fun by a guy who spent some time in Austin, and then I'm out of here.
Hey all, sorry for the delay in getting anything posted. The Man changed our browser at work, and now I can only post from my home computer. Seriously? I had developed quite the image of the hard-working puritanical grind (they even called me Cotton Mather around the office) when I was actually working on posts for you. Now I have to actually do work, and boy, I had forgotten how much that sucks.
I'm now back, at least for a little while. And I'm going to get heavy with you. Anthony Bourdain's suicide made me think of other people I admired who have died this year. Guys like Rick Hall, the dude who put together the Muscle Shoals sound and who is the main subject of one of rock's great documentaries, Muscle Shoals. And Dennis Edwards of the Temptations, Craig MacGregor of Foghat, Russ Solomon who founded Tower Records, Nokie Edwards of the Ventures, DJ Fontana who played drums for Elvis, and Nick Knox who drummed for the Cramps? All gone but not forgotten. Hats off for the memories, and here are a couple of tracks in your honor.
First up is Foghat with Fool For The City. I loved this song with it's big crunchy guitar and sing-along lyrics. It rocks, too. I used to test the capacity of my JBL's with this bad boy back in college. Love it.
The Ventures - wow, what a great band. Here's one of their all-time best songs, Walk Don't Run. It's one of rock's great instrumentals. And don't you love the drummer in the front and the guitarists grooving together?
In honor of Rick Hall, here's Wilson Pickett with Land of 1000 Dances. I occasionally get that "nah nah nah nah nah" going in my head, and find myself getting happy happy happy. It's just a fantastic track, right Long Tall Sally and Lucy doing the watusi?
Last one: The Cramps with The Crusher. Some of those 1000 dances that Wilson Pickett sang about were turned into crazy horror stuff by these gonzos. And if you grew up in my household, you were lucky enough to have me play this song over and over while you were a little kid. What a wonderful world!
I'll be back with so much more it will blow the corpuscles in your brain to smithereens. I've still got Jonathan's posters to write about, some good stuff from my recent trip to Boston, my "what not to play at your party" song list, and other goodies. It's finally summer, too, and that means holidays and bar-b-ques and vacations, oh my! I've got some great ideas for those as well. You check back soon and see for yourself. Rock blogging is hard work, hah hah, and in the words of AC/DC, it's a long way to the top.
Don’t you love weekends? What’s it going to be like when we are all retired and get to have weekends basically every day? Probably not the same – the weekend is rejuvenation time for us working stiffs who have to toil away during the week while The Man laughs and torments us. I was listening to some songs on a recent Sunday, and thought that they captured weekends pretty well.
First up, it’s the chill sound of the Rascals Groovin. Slow paced, tuneful with pop hooks galore, and lyrics that evoke a lazy Sunday afternoon, it’s pretty good stuff. I’ve loved it for many years (and many other Rascals tunes for that matter), and thought it was the jam. Here goes:
But how about we go a little bigger? I’m not a Loverboy fan at all, but I must admit that I jump when Working For The Weekend blasts off. I remember when this song came out, and the work weeks just seemed sooooo long back in those days. Weekends were what it was all about, and hey, that much hasn’t changed. Let’s give a listen:
What about Wreckless Eric? He’s a banger and I love him despite his recent disappointing show at Johnny Brenda’s. He did a great tune called It’ll Soon Be The Weekend a few decades ago that is still useful for getting into that weekend mood. Since it’s early in the week as I write this, I’m sure hoping that he is right and that it will soon be the weekend:
Chicago. I never thought that I would put this top-40 band into the BRP catalog. But Saturday In The Park was their breakout hit, and it was a good tune. This one always reminds me of my eldest sister who was the one who brought it into my orbit. Nostalgia blast!
Here’s another guy I never thought would make BRP, but you gotta go with what is out there: Mr. Elton John with Saturday Night’s Alright For Fightin’. Hey, I’m from the south, and most nights are alright for fightin’ down there, but this track has a banged up energy that makes you forget all about Honky Cat and Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Elton’s nadir was the redo of Candle In The Wind after Princess Diana died. Regardless of the schmaltz factor, Reggie did write some good tunes, and this is one of them:
The Cure’s Friday I’m In Love is a great track. Maybe Friday isn’t technically the weekend, but Friday night certainly is, and I’m going with it (if nothing else than to wash off the stank of Chicago and Elton). Yes, the Cure were gloomy, and while I was into them big-time when they were still producing music that matters, I’ve found that a number of their tracks leave me bored now. But not this one: it’s pretty special to BRP for a very personal reason, and it makes me smile every time I hear it. Now it’s your turn to hear it:
Final one: Dave Edmunds, one of the all-time greats, with Almost Saturday Night. Dave is one talented guy, British but playing Americana, and I’ve seen him a number of times. When matched up with Nick Lowe, they cranked out the Rockpile albums that were simply awesome and which remain great listens to this day. But this track is Dave’s weekend special:
What? One last song? Well, you know I’m a HUGE Graham Parker fan, and his track Saturday Nite Is Dead from the amazing Squeezing Out Sparks album is a classic rave up. I love Brinsley Schwartz's guitar in this song. Hey, if you take away nothing else from this post, be sure to do yourself a favor and listen to this album. It’s heartbreaking that Graham never made the big-time, but one spin will have you saying “why not?” It’s one of those records that never loses its steam and power, even after all these years.
And with that, it’s back to the work week with thoughts of next weekend brewing in our minds. Keep The Man in check, make sure the paycheck hits the checkbook on Friday, and then go have some FUN. As always, I have a big weekend lined up, and I’m sure you do, too. It’s how we roll here at BRP. Catch you later.
The Mann, Not The Man
Rock bloggers live the dream. On Wednesday, four FREE tickets to see the Decemberists simply fell out of the sky and landed in my hot little hands. We were all over it and took full advantage. How cool is that? Who knew that blogging would be like this? Oh, and did I mention that these tickets were FREE?
The show was at the Mann Music Center in Philly. Have you been to the Mann? I hope so because it is one of the best large venues ever. It is a seasonal theater with a covered pavilion space and a lawn in the back. Inside the pavilion, the seats are spacious and the rows give you enough room so that you aren’t jamming your knees into the seat in front of you. The BRP freebies were inside the pavilion, and in fact, were in the left orchestra about 15 rows back from the stage. They were even on the end of the row. Pretty freakin’ nice! And the acoustics at the Mann are really good for a big, open space.
It had been a crazy ten days or so. The Man (not the venue, but the boss) had ordered my butt to Houston the previous week – a last minute special, thank you very much. The Man is so thoughtful. I landed in Philly on Tuesday night around 10 pm or so and was on a 7:30 am flight the next day to go to California on a personal matter. I got back on Monday, went to the show on Thursday, and am typing this on yet another plane on Friday, this time headed to Florida. It’s a hard damn life that rock bloggers lead, let me tell you. At least I’m not doing the rock musician thing and driving around the country in a smelly van stuffed with equipment. Bloggers rule, musicians drool.
As lousy as the weather has been this spring in Philly, I at least got to see some sunshine and feel some heat. Houston was hot but not August brutal, and California was hot but dry – the only clouds I saw out there were right at sunset, and it seemed like Mother Nature threw them in just so that they could blaze all pink above the mountains and make the scene even more special. I caught a few semi-decent days in Philly, the best of which was the one that included the concert. Let’s face it, life hardly ever breaks this well for any of us, and I had some shitty things happen during this time period, too, but it was a pretty good pull all in all.
The view from the top of the hill at the Mann is of Center City Philly, and from that overlook, Philly actually looks like a nice place. The skyline continues to grow, and the Mann’s wooded setting in full green made it super sweet. Sure, California has a lot of sun, but it’s semi-arid and the woods are thin (and what is there has a tendency to catch fire - a lot). I’ll take the East Coast with its dense deciduous forests and lush green hues. In fact, when I got home today, I stepped out of my car and got a huge blast of the smell of honey-suckle, which is so sweet and always triggers nostalgia from my youth. You are right that honey-suckle is a weed, and grows fast as the devil. And while I trim it back, I never get rid of it all because I just love the smell and look of the plant in bloom. It’s East Coast perfect. Almost as good as the fireflies that hit this time of year, too. Nature never acts with just one thing, but instead blasts all kind of good things your way – just stop to look around and tell me I’m wrong.
Hey, isn’t this supposed to be about the Decemberists? Oh yeah, I got caught up there and went on a frolic and detour. Apologies. I’m not a big fan of the Decemberists, but I knew a couple of tunes, and since the tickets were FREE and I love to see live music, it was a no-brainer (particularly important for me for obvious reasons).
Opening for the Decemberists was M. Ward. At first, he came out with just an electrified acoustic guitar, and I was like, uh oh, here we go again with the single troubadour thing. After trekking through a couple of forgettable folk tracks, 4 more people joined him on stage. What a remarkable difference a full band makes! A full band provides the impetus to kick up the volume and the tempo. And this was no exception, thank god. I really enjoyed the rest of the 40 minute set listening to bluesy rock with enough guitar solos to satisfy, but not overwhelm, the guitar lover in me. It was a good start.
On came the Decemberists. The first song was, oops, a solo effort with an acoustic guitar. Sigh. What was worse was that the song, My Mother Was A Chinese Tattoo Artist, was packed with lyrics that tried too hard to be clever. Think Craig Finn on steroids. We were looking at each other and thinking “well, at least we have good seats and the tickets were FREE.” Yet another solo effort followed, basically of the same ilk, until the rest of the band came on stage.
The band has A LOT of musicianship. At various times, the band members played the staples of drums/bass/guitar/keys/harmonica but also the sax, stand-up bass, and accordion. I love the accordion with its sweet but cheesy sound that evokes bad European folk songs, and its use by rockers is usually pretty special: think Joel Guzman playing the squeezebox along with Joe Ely on guitar and you get my drift. Anyway, there were many talented musicians on stage and that fact, along with the gentle evening breeze, helped to carry even the crappy songs.
The band has some good tunes. Check this one out, called O Valencia, followed by Down by the Water. Both were highlights, as was Ben Franklin’s Song, a tune which was perfect for BF’s town.
How about the last song? I’m not even sure what to call this one. Long, odd – something about ultimately being eaten by a whale – The Mariner’s Revenge Song features lyrics that tell an epic story, and it seemed to be a crowd favorite but left us all going “huh?” I did get some interesting photos of a balloon whale that they moved around the crowd, Macy’s parade style.
These guys and gals had a good sense of humor. They invited the crowd to take photos only during one short time, and all jumped around goofily around the stage for that period. And any band that says “get your nose out of your phone and exist in the present” is cool with me. (Haven’t you had enough of people grabbing their phones and checking to see who sent them a text while they are allegedly talking to you?). They also brought along cool visuals with a backdrop featuring a skull with eyes that lit up and twirled.
We had a pretty good time, but this isn’t a band where I’m going to rush home and Spotify them. They aren’t the Weeks or the Brian Jonestown Massacre, for instance. But they were totally worth the price of admission, and the evening couldn’t have been more beautiful. So I’ll give it a thumbs up anyway.
There are a lot of great shows coming up. I’ve cadged tickets to a couple of them, and am beginning to circle the calendar for others. And there are a bunch of other non-musical things that have my kids telling me that I’m old and need to slow down. Ha! Keep up and have fun with me, ok? And with that, I’m outta here. Be good and live in the present.
How cool is that sculpture? It looks like he is busting an old-school skateboard move. I was so into skateboarding back in the day. It's interesting that a lot of skateboarders were early adopters of punk rock, and BRP is one of them. Man, I need to get back on that board. That sculpture is actually one on display at Kykuit in Tarrytown, NY, and was collected by none other than Nelson Rockefeller. I didn't catch the artist or the title of the piece, but I sure as hell appreciate it.
What have you been up to, guys? Yet again, The Man has been messing with me, sending me this way and that and making sure that my private life is crap. In a send up of the old Steppenwolf song, goddamn The Man!
OK, ok, I'll quit complaining. You know what else I've been doing? How about going to the ballet? Say what? It's true. Now, I must admit that I'm not the biggest fan of this classical art form, but I was at the Academy of Music a bit ago and had a fine time. I hadn't been in the AOM for a while, and the restoration, which I had seen before, knocked my socks off again. It's a great building.
The Pennsylvania Ballet is good, too. They don't let you take pictures during the performance, and for once I complied with the rules. What I saw was a program called Jewels, and it featured 3 different pieces. The first one was classical, and I wasn't that into it, but I did take the time to figure out just how much money I will need for retirement and debated with myself as to whether Joe DiMaggio or Ted Williams was truly the better player.
The second two pieces, however, were really entertaining, with modern dance moves thrown in to the ballet repertoire. And the accompanying orchestra was quite good - something you would expect in a city that sports one of the best philharmonics in the U.S. and also has a fantastic music school in Curtis. All in all, it was a fun evening doing something other than rocking my eyes out.
What's a better follow up to a ballet post than the Stay Puft marshmallow man? Hahaha, remember this from Ghostbusters? That movie came out in the mid-80s and still holds up. Check it out the next time it's on TV. And if you are into Netflix, check out the shows Fauda (about an Israeli spy agency, damn good and violent, too) or Marseilles (starring Gerard Depardau and taking place in the funky, dangerous and beautiful French city).
Wow, how beautiful is the East Coast this time of year? I was at Jenkins Arboretum recently, and caught the peak time for azaleas and rhododendruns. JA is a great place, hardly ever crowded, and most importantly, it's FREE. You know BRP loves F-R-E-E. This place is fully worth the cost of admission. It's wonderful to live in the Philly area with all of its amazing gardens (Longwood being the top of the heap and so world class - go see the restored fountains - they spent $90 million (!) on them and they are worth seeing).
And how about some rock? Check this costume out and tell me who wore it:
Who'd you guess? Michael Jackson? Liberace? Prince?
Nope. Not even close. How about Lord Horatio Nelson, the British admiral who freaking destroyed the combined Spanish and French navies at the Battle of Trafalgar and thus launched Vox Britannia? Whatever, the dude knew how to dress! Check out those duds - super awesome, and very similar to how I dress for work these days. They are on display at the Princeton Museum of Art, a really fine small museum that has an outstanding collection. Check it out if you are in the area.
Also worth checking out is the Princeton Record Exchange. Now, this is really about rock 'n roll. PRE has a nice collection of CDs and records and BRP picked up 4 CDs, including ones by Deer Tick, Wolf Alice, the Jayhawks and Royal Blood. All for about $25! Yeah, yeah, I know that everyone has Spotify now, and no one buys music, but that's a bullshit notion of the past being eclipsed by the present. I still like to own music, still like to listen to entire albums track by track, still like using my car's CD player, and still like having a big ass collection that works even when the wifi is down.
Yup, I have Spotify, and I like it. But they don't have certain artists of importance (try to find Marah, for instance), and sometimes my phone won't sync with my Bluetooth system, etc. There is a place for physical music in the world, and judging by the crowd at PRE, I'm not the only one that thinks that way. One beef with PRE is that the highest CD rack is too high and too crammed with CDs, thus making it hard to flip through. I'll bet their sales aren't very high for artists on the upper racks. But otherwise, I'm chill with PRE and recommend it. Oh, and they have a ton of vinyl, too. And from the pics below, it looks like you can pick up some middle-aged bald dudes, too (but who the hell wants that?). Here are some photos:
And with that, I need to get rolling. But before I do, here's another sculpture that I found interesting.
He looks like a cross between Planet of the Apes and Darth Vader, right? I thought it was fun. Check it out at the Grounds for Sculpture in New Jersey. I'll have more to say, and more photos, too, on GFS in an upcoming post.
I'm off to see a show at the Mann tomorrow night, which should be cool. I have another show (but not rock) to write up, and I still need to get Jonathan's poster collection on line. Oh, and I was at a wedding in Sonoma with a DJ, and I'm telling you that the dude must have read my post on what to play at a party! I'll write that up - it was so bitchin' - but I need to find the time. I'm trying, but The Man is hateful! I also have a cool set of motorcycle and vintage record player collections to show you.
Let's end with a tune, shall we? How about a real oldie that I heard the other day - Stealers Wheel with Stuck in the Middle With You. Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right - just another day at work, correct?
What? One more? How about Steve Miller's The Joker:
Did you know that Miller made up the word "pompetus" for this song? It's true. It's pretty rock 'n roll. It's also pretty douche. Perfect for the era of Fakebook. Just make it up, no one knows, and like the word "pompetus," no one gives a crap, either.
Hey, you all take care and do the cha-cha-cha down the halls at work just to freak 'em out. Love ya!
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.