I’m going to take a quick break from the ABCs. I was working on some other stuff in parallel, and got that finished first. I hope you don’t mind bouncing around with me. It’s how my mind normally works, haha.
It’s not every day that BRP feels mellow, but I’m deep in the south right now, and I’m feeling it. In fact, it’s the unusual day when I’m not wanting to crank up the rock. But when I do, I have the tunes to kick back and enjoy. I call most of this music American roots music, but my family corrects me and says “its country.” We are both right. I do like country, but I also like alt-country, rockabilly, bluegrass, the blues, and all the other American musical forms that swirl around these defined styles. And all of those musical forms are a pretty big departure from the other side of me. (No, I don’t like folk, so you generally won’t find that genre discussed here, except perhaps to disparage it).
Now, I’m not going to go off on Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard or George Strait. They’re great, but you already know about them, right? Same with Dwight Yoakam, Randy Travis, David Allen Coe, Joe Ely, Ryan Bingham, Junior Brown, Lyle Lovett, Steve Earle, Travis Tritt, Taylor Swift, or Yonder Mountain String Band. Those artists all show up prominently on my iPod, but there is nothing to share about them that you haven’t already been subjected to by a million others. So while these artists are the backbone of the roots music that I listen to, I’m going to try and stick with the theme of discussing newer or less well-known artists. I’m also going to stay away from alt-country artists for now – I think they deserve a separate blog entry, and will get to them, well, I don’t know when but sometime soon.
What’s that you say? Enough about me? You are right – for Pete’s sake, let’s get on with the music. So here we go:
Call out time to Pam in California! I had never heard of Phil Cook, but she said that I should check him out, particularly his album “Southland Mission.” Good damn call. This album is a very nice mix of country and blues, and after a few listens you’ll find yourself humming the tunes as you go about your daily routine. Some of it reminds me of Little Feat and other roots/southern bands of that persuasion, and some sounds more like the deep south. Dip a toe in, the water’s mighty fine. Here’s a tune that I think you will enjoy called 1922:
Everyone has heard of Chris by now. There is an argument, nay a theory, that great country only comes out of Nashville (but see, Dwight Yoakam) and Chris is deeply embedded into that venerable town’s music scene. But until this fellow cleaned up on the 2016 Grammys, Country Music Awards, etc., he was operating in the background. Now all of a sudden, he’s a big damn deal. And deservedly so. This is just amazing new country music that I listen to in my more mellow moods (yup, both days of the year). Here's the audio to the song "Tennessee Whiskey:"
More proof that I’m not just a power pop/punk idiot. It’s without doubt that this guy is terrific. And he has become popular enough so that I have heard his songs at Phillies games and in other public spots. His music is a mix of rockabilly, R&B, country and straight up rock ‘n roll. Check out this song called “Let The Good Times Roll:”
Austin-based Rosie Flores is not new to a lot of people, but she is to me. I saw her at the Queen opening for the Rev. Horton Heat, and what a revelation. She’s this tiny little thing with a big Stratocaster, and she plays rockabilly with passion, wit and skill. After rolling through some of her own rockabilly numbers, she proved to be a complete bad-ass as she played the Sex Pistols “Pretty Vacant,” first as a slowed down country version and then tearing into the second half of the song with a snarl that would have made Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious proud. I’m dying to see her again, but have had only near-misses so far. Here’s a video called “Working Girl’s Guitar:”
Looking for some fun country? Check out Brandy Clark's "Big Day in a Small Town". It's got real stories (think Courtney Barnett meets Dolly Parton) that are grownup (think Squeeze). And it's sorta country (the themes, the lyrics, the ballads) and it's got a southern rock vibe too. This was one of the records recommended in a recent Wall Street Journal story on new women country artists. Though the record has a female perspective (If Taylor Swift were growing up to be a real person she might have written this record), it's not exclusively so. Sure, the song "Girl Next Door" could be an anthem for lots of "girls" you probably know. But I think you'll dig the hillbilly anthem: "We're Broke". Maybe I'll get sick of this soon. But I haven't yet. Here’s the official video to “Girl Next Door:”
How is that for some fun and different music? And here you thought I was a one-trick pony. Hey, and don’t think that all great rockers only rock out. Neil Young has “Heart of Gold” and “Harvest Moon,” two very sentimental songs. So It is not unprecedented, right? Anyway, I’ll be back to more rockin’ stuff soon enough, but in the meantime, enjoy.
I’m back with more rock ‘n roll ABCs. I’ll keep the opinions rolling and hope that you properly check me where I veer off into la-la land. I’m going with D, E and F this time. Again, if an artist travels under their given name, I used the last name to categorize them. For example, James Brown would be listed under “b.” Good? Let’s roll.
D is for __________. I’m sorry, I thought and thought about a great band that begins with D, and came up with some good bands, but not one that is truly worthy. Please don’t say “what about the Doors” or “the Doobie Brothers.” I was never a huge Doors fan, although I like some of their songs, and the Doobies? Decent but no dice on them either. So if you’re starting a band in your garage right now, this is your chance. Find a good name that starts with D, and I’ll reserve this space just for you.
Honorable Mentions: The Damned – good British punk band with Captain Sensible at the helm. They are solid as a live act. But they aren’t even the best of their contemporaries. The Darkness – I almost put these guys up in the slot of glory, but they aren’t that good. Nonetheless, a terrific and fun live act, they glam it up well, they rock hard, and Justin Hawkins did the best stage dive (actually, a balcony dive) I have ever seen. He’s rock’s best unheralded frontman. I love ‘em and you should, too. Dashboard Confessional – really solid hook-filled band. Good, but not great. The dBs – Chris Stamey leads this very influential band out of North Carolina. Big Brown Eyes is a wonderful song, and they were miles ahead of their time. Death Cab For Cutie – terrible name for a band, but another band that delivers the catchy tunes. They’re still at it after a pretty lengthy career. Dexys Midnight Runners – have you ever heard a better, more rollicking, jug band-style pop song than Come On Eileen? At this moment, this band means everything to me. Dick Dale – the undisputed king of the surf guitar. He’s still touring and you’ve probably heard a ton of his songs without knowing who was playing them. The Dickies – these guys are hilarious, but sometimes try too hard to be funny. But they had smart songs with wit and attitude. Dire Straits – I almost disrespected these guys, but really, they were good back in the day. They make me remember when watching MTV music videos was super cool. The Doobie Brothers – I liked them better without Michael McDonald, but they had a lot of hits in their time. I saw them a few times, and they used the dry-ice smoke like there was no tomorrow. Dr. John – still making relevant music late in life. Great New Orleans sound and some memorable songs. Dead Kennedys – offensive name, offensive songs, but true punk heroes. East Bay Ray, Jello Biafra, haha, quaint at this point, right? Ian Dury – he wrote Sex Drugs and Rock ‘n Roll, plus a number of other witty songs. And he’s cool. One of the original STIFF Records guys, a label I miss a lot.
Newbies who are worth checking out: DIIV – Really good guitar driven songs with dreamy lyrics. Keep an eye on them – they could make it big. Delta Spirit – sometimes they are too slow for me, but their songs are solid and lyrics meaningful. Destroyer – cool name for a band that isn’t a metal act. Dirty Heads – these guys bring it and have received a lot of radio play. They’re worth the effort. Dinosaur Jr. – not exactly newbies, but they broke up for a long time and have reformed recently. Some of their songs are earworms, but of the good kind. Dr. Dog – good name, from Philly, solid songs. What’s not to like?
Disrespect: Bob Dylan – he hasn’t done anything relevant since the mid-60s, is oftentimes lousy in concert, went through a Jesus phase, wrote misogynistic songs, and has a lousy voice. Other than that, he’s great. Tell the truth – when was the last time you listened, voluntarily, to a Dylan song? That’s what I thought. The Doors – yes, I like LA Woman, Break on Through, Riders on the Storm, etc. I’m just sick of them. Jim Morrison has been dead for decades, and I’m tired of the retread stories about him. We’re packing up the truck and moving on. Daft Punk – WTF? Weirdos. The Dead Milkmen – Punk Rock Girl is a great single. The rest of their songs try way too hard to be funny and don’t succeed. One hit wonders. Devo – Never liked them, never thought they were clever, never want to hear them again. Destiny’s Child – I don’t really care much for Beyonce. Overexposed, power-couple, rich, pop, American crap music. Drive-By Truckers – I like alt-country music. I’m supposed to like these guys. I’ve tried and it isn’t working. It can’t be me. Put them on the suck bus. Depeche Mode – I never ever ever liked these guys. Synth garbage. If you act fast, you can pick up all of their CDs in the bargain bin at the Salvation Army.
E is for Earth Wind and Fire. How many great songs did these guys put out in the 70s? Millions. They dominated the charts and the airwaves, and for good reason. Their music was tuneful, danceable, and backed by an amazing rhythm section. Their music has staying power, and I still get up when September comes on. Why did this kind of music go away and hip hop take its place? A mystery for the ages. Thankfully, I got healthy doses of this while growing up.
Honorable mentions: The English Beat – How wonderful is their music? Tried and true, and one of the most fun bands on the live music circuit today. How they got a visa to stay in the U.S. and basically tour forever is beyond me, but if you’ve never seen them, you are making a grave mistake. Joe Ely – super West Texas roots rock/country. If you ever get a chance to see him with Joel Guzman, who plays the accordion, do it. I know it doesn’t appear to work on paper, but trust me on this one. Steve Earle – another alt-country hero of mine. Long career and we should all be happy about that.
Newbies who are worth checking out: Alejandro Escavado –I just like his name. No, that’s not true. He’s pretty good, and has developed a sizeable following. Ex Hex – Watch out for these women out of DC. On the rise, and for good reason.
Disrespect: The Eagles – life in the crap lane. Yeah, I like some of their songs, but had to listen to this on non-stop radio airplay for at least a decade. They weren’t that good, and the over play ruined it for me. And some of their songs, like New Kid in Town and Desperado, are used in emergency rooms throughout the country to induce vomiting. Nothing works better. Jonathan Edwards – Go away today, I don’t feel much like listening. Emerson Lake and Palmer – Hahaha, what were you thinking listening to these fatty, overproduced, classical-music rip-off songs? Did you see them in the round? Its ok, I’m going to give you a mulligan for this one. Unless, of course, you also liked Electric Light Orchestra. In which case, you need to beg your maker for forgiveness and pray that there isn’t a hell, because if there is, they’re playing songs by disrespected bands whose names start with the letter “E.”
F is for Foo Fighters. Dave Grohl thinks too much of himself. But he was in Nirvana, is perhaps the best drummer in rock ‘n roll history, and then emerges from behind the drum kit to astound us all as a great songwriter and band leader. You recognize their sound when you hear them, but there is significant variation, and you don’t get bored. And hooks aplenty with a lot of guitar. Truly, these guys are hall of fame worthy.
Honorable mentions: Fishbone – smart lyrics, catchy tunes, full horn section. Party at Ground Zero is the most-danceable anti-war song ever. Flatt and Scruggs – yep, the Virginian in me is coming out. Bluegrass, loaded with dobro, fiddle and banjo. Foggy Mountain Breakdown and Orange Blossom Special. No more needs to be said. Fleetwood Mac – I really like Say You Love Me. But see, below for the dreaded double listing. The Fleshtones – out of New Jersey and into your heart. A super live act with good musical chops. Rosie Flores – The most bad-ass rockabilly woman I have ever heard. Incomparable. The Four Seasons – these guys are so good that they ought to do a Broadway play about them. Frankie Valli is a classic voice in rock history, often imitated, but never matched. And great songs. Just thinking about them brings a smile to my face. The Four Tops – Woot-woo, here come some Motown classics. Amazing string of hits that you still like to hear. Aretha Franklin – What pipes! What songs! Hallelujah! Fugazi – they may be the best band ever out of DC. Repeater is a post-punk classic. And Waiting Room is an amazing single with call-and-response vocals and a huge sound. The Feelies – wonderfully catchy songs, great strumming sound, kick-ass live band. Foghat – I always liked these guys, and Slow Ride still makes me turn it up to 11. Flying Burrito Brothers – the original alt-country band. Devil in Disguise is a fantastic song. Franz Ferdinand – Take Me Out is two great songs in one. I like many of this band’s songs, and they have a signature sound.
Newbies who are worth checking out: Fang Island – when they added vocals, a lot of fans got pissed off. Those fans are fools because this band is solid. Watch ‘em. Fitz & The Tantrums – great first album, sophomore slump on the second one. Fingers crossed. Floor – you want new metal? This is your ticket. Fountains of Wayne – to be honest, I don’t know that much about these guys, but I love the single Stacey’s Mom. Foxy Shazam – they have already broken up. If you missed them, I’m so very sorry. You can still catch them on CD. Go for it.
Disrespect: Foreigner – you know, back in the day, they had a couple of songs. But they haven’t held up over time, and now it’s just flabby classic rock. To get their songs out of your system all you have to do is lather, rinse and repeat. Fleetwood Mac – Overplayed so very much. Rumors was a great album the first time you heard it and then after the radio flogged it to death, you realized how cloying and obnoxious most of it was. Please, god, never let me hear this again. Frankie Goes to Hollywood – They can’t get there fast enough in my opinion. Out, you poseurs! Florence + The Machine – I don’t care much for her voice. They get way too much radio airplay. Ship to Wreck was good the first few times I heard it, and then it became a shoot the radio song because it is so annoying.
Was this better for you than A – C? I’m sure all you Eagles fans are mad, and same with the Fleetwood Mac pack. And why did I pick on poor Bob Dylan? Don’t I know that he is a LEGEND? I would say I’m sorry, but I’m not. So let me have it, tell me what a bonehead I am, and get your ya ya’s out. BRP is done with six letters, and we have 20 more to go. I’m going to blow your mind with what is coming.
See you later and thanks for reading.
Rock 'n Roll ABCs
I’ve been working on this blog post for a while. I’m going to piss off many people with this one. Why? It’s long. Sorry, but it’s worth every bit of your time to read. Also, it’s hugely opinionated. I know, that’s not much of a change, but its topic is guaranteed to lead to disagreements.
I’m going to go through the alphabet, name one or two icon bands per letter, mention some other honorables, and, then rip away and throw out disses to bands that are popular but suck, are over-the-hill, are overrated, or otherwise irritate me. It should be fun for me, hopefully for you, and it’s time for me to shut up and get on with it.
I’m going to start with just A through C, but I’ll come back and get the other 23 letters. If an artist travels under their given name, I used the last name to categorize them. For example, James Brown would be listed under “b.” And with that, hold on to your hat and let’s go.
A is for AC/DC. John Fein, in his book “Your Band Sucks,” calls AC/DC the perfect band. He’s right. Everyone with any sense loves this legendary band. They don’t get adventurous with lyrics, and pretty much stick to sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll themes. And they rock hard with memorable guitar solos perfect for your air guitar fantasies. AC/DC is a great live act, from Angus’s silly schoolboy outfit, to the big Hell’s Bell, the cannons, and the volume. They know exactly what their fans want to hear, and they bring it every time. No going through the motions with these guys. The ancient Egyptians would have built a pyramid for them.
Honorable Mentions: Aerosmith during their drug days. Not so much after they became clean, and Steven Tyler has proven to all you kiddies out there that taking too many drugs will make you insane. But they were kick-ass back in the day. The Allman Brothers Band, another all-time favorite worthy of a pyramid. The greatest of southern rock bands. Ash, a fantastic but not well known band from Ireland. They simply rock. Ryan Adams, the most prolific and (sometimes) best songwriter of alt-country.
Newbies who are worth checking out: Arctic Monkeys – well not so new, but if they continue to put out good music, they have built a great foundation to move up to the honorable mention category someday. All Time Low – I play these guys a lot in the car and everyone who hears it says “who is this? it’s good.” Yeah, no shit, it’s my car, what did you expect? ABBA?
Disrespect: ABBA – Speak of the devil. Their phenomenal European success is a huge reason why we should never try to emulate the Europeans. Many of our ancestors left that continent because they caught a rumor that ABBA was on the horizon, and for that, we should thank them. America – Muskrat Love. Need I say more? OK, a Horse With No Name. Not even Clarence Darrow would have defended these California pretty boys from the ridicule they so richly deserve. Asia. Supergroup? Projectile puke.
B is for the Beatles. Could it be anyone else? I think they wrote about 80% of all the rock/pop songs that could be written. So much ink has been spilled fawning over them that there is nothing left to say. One of the all-time great rock lines is from the song I Saw Her Standing There, my favorite Beatles tune: “Well she was just 17, do you know what I mean?” Yeah, I know exactly what you mean. Is it possible to NOT want to dance to “Twist and Shout?” Not for me. And I could go on and on. Even their slow stuff, like the Long and Winding Road, is fantastic. They weren’t perfect, or else they never would have written about an octopus’s garden in the shade, but man oh man, what a legacy. And they aced out a ton of other great “B” bands.
Honorable mentions: The Buzzcocks – still one of my all-time favorite bands. Listen to Singles Going Steady and you’ll realize what a great singles band they were. And GREAT in concert – a show at the 9:30 Club in the mid-80s is still perhaps the best live rock performance I have ever seen. The B-52’s – fun, fun, fun. Everyone knows the words to Love Shack, as they should. Speaking of Fun, Fun, Fun – the Beach Boys – California, surfing, cars and girls – that’s about it and that’s all you need. The Beastie Boys – just for Fight for Your Right. Kick it! The Beautiful South – love these former Housemartins who are very underrated. Big Audio Dynamite – Mick Jones post-Clash had some memorable songs. No. 10 Upping Street is the closest thing you’ll ever hear to the Clash. Big Star – yup, there they are, the legends from Memphis featuring Alex Chilton. Their songs have held up great over time. Black Flag – LA’s best punk outfit other than X. TV Party tonight! Black Sabbath – just for Paranoid and because Ozzie is so freakin’ iconic. One of the originators of black t-shirt music, and just a disgustingly amazing rock persona. Blink 182 – Punk Pop at its finest, Dammit! Blondie – wonderful new wave band that constantly improved and impressed. Plus, Debbie Harry separated their look and sound from the “pure” punks like the Dead Boys and Ramones. And they did the all-time stalker song in One Way or Another. Blue Oyster Cult – I can listen to Don’t Fear the Reaper over and over and over and never get sick of it, but they also have Godzilla. History shows again and again how nature points up the folly of men, indeed. Bon Jovi – stadium rock at a very high level. Livin’ on a Prayer is one of rock’s all-time great anthems. Bottle Rockets – best bar band in the land. David Bowie – Rebel Rebel is the best danceable hard rock song of all time and that’s just the start of this amazing performer’s list of great tunes. James Brown – all-time greatest funk/soul musician bar none – can you take me to the bridge? Too bad for JB that the Beatles start with B. The Blasters – rockabilly par excellence from the Alvin brothers. Chuck Berry –he truly made electric guitar badass. Chuck Brown – Bustin’ Loose is an all-time favorite, he’s from DC, and his son played good football at VT. Black Keys - two guys busting out some big big sounds. Really good rock ‘n roll out of Nashville. The Byrds – put on their greatest hits and remember what an influential and hook-filled band these guys were. Love the jangly guitar sound.
Newbies who are worth checking out: Bully – out of Nashville, but rockin’ hard. Justin Bieber – I’m a Belieber! He should date either Lindsay Lohan or Miley Cyrus and they can both blow up together. Black Kids – I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend is an amazing, rocking, danceable single. Benjamin Booker – great punker out of LA with a memorable gravelly voice. Blonde Summer – a BRP favorite. Beach House – good hanging-out-on-a-summer’s day music. Beach Slang – Philly-based punkers who can bring it.
Disrespect: The Bee Gees – I can’t take it anymore. What do they mean by more than a woman? A hermaphrodite? Lose the falsetto and quit sounding like the Vienna Boys Choir trying to be hip.. Black Eyed Peas – I hate them, please don’t ever make me dance to any of their songs anymore, and whoever picked them to be on the Super Bowl halftime show should be charged with crimes against humanity. The Black Crowes – O-V-E-R-R-A-T-E-D. A reason to support open carry laws. Blues Traveler – put the harmonica down. Now! Bow Wow Wow – one hit wonders whose one hit doesn’t hold up. Buckcherry – Oh, just STFU. Buena Vista Social Club – top of the communist heap, whoop-de-damn-do. Badfinger –yup, I own their greatest hits and actually like 3 of their songs, but they ruined a great band name by being bland beyond those 3 songs.
C is for the Clash. I love the Clash. Their output was remarkable in how much ground they covered, and how they changed / developed as a band. Were they frauds? Maybe Joe Strummer was, but I don’t care. They rocked, they wrote great lyrics and they did it without selling out. A band destined to break up almost from the start, it’s incredible they lasted as long as they did. And yes, I saw them live, and the energy from the band and pace of the show was great. At one time, they truly were the only band that mattered. Put on London Calling, listen all the way through, and tell me they aren’t great. I double-dog dare you.
Honorable mentions: Paul Carrack – he’s groove approved. Johnny Cash – so many good songs and such an amazing outlaw country persona with a heart of gold for the downtrodden. Ray Charles – super career, super talent and looks like Jamie Farr. Cheap Trick – not hall of fame worthy, but they had some great songs. I surrender. Cher – a lifetime achievement award for comedy – Half Breed is a family joke that we always laugh at. And Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves, hahahaha. George Clinton – P-Funk is forever da funk of choice at BRP. Go see him before he quits touring. He’s a national treasure. Collective Soul – I love ‘em, Helen hates ‘em – she is, in a word, wrong. The Commodores – now this is what good dance music sounds like. Elvis Costello – through about the Trust album, he was among my favorites. Few people put out as many good songs as he did on his first three albums. Cracker – good tunes, not great tunes, but good tunes. And good tunes are GOOD. The Cramps – the best ghoulish band out there – love the Goo Goo Muck. Sheryl Crow – wow, how many good hit songs has she had? A LOT! Commercial? Yup, and BRP loves her music. The Cure – weird hair for sure, but a great band. The Cars – not much of a live show – they are the definition of standing around – but some really classic songs that, upon release, sounded like nothing else. The Chills – Heavenly Pop Hit is one of the best songs ever made. I never get sick of it. Commander Cody – if you don’t like Hot Rod Lincoln, you should go confess to the priest. That’s worse than original sin. Credence Clearwater Revival – Countrified classic rock, still great to listen to, still has a great guitar sound.
Newbies who are worth checking out: Gary Clark, Jr. – he flat out rips. Chumped – Go on tour, goddammit! Car Seat Headrest – One prolific guy about 17 years old pumping out catchy and interesting garage rock. The Canyon Rays – all-time greatest band out of LA, bar none. Catfish and the Bottlemen – if you like power pop, you’ll like these guys. Cloud Nothings – get out the earplugs and turn it up. Lots of hard driving guitar wall of noise from these guys.
Disrespect: C+C Music Factory – be happy this blog doesn’t come with a scratch ‘n sniff card or you would be smelling springtime at the farm about right now. Mariah Carey – I hate her more than her fifty ex-husbands. Combined. The Captain and Tenille – there is some truth to the rumor that the Lincoln Tunnel is smaller in diameter than Toni Tenille’s mouth. Carly Simon – she had nipples and that ends her positive attributes. David Cassidy – I cherished putting his name on this list. Tracy Chapman – who really thinks she is any good? Anyone? Eric Clapton – I hated I Shot the Sheriff, never want to hear Layla again. He is so washed up it isn’t even funny. Elvis Costello after the Trust album. Proof that Cole Porter was reincarnated. Oh, and EC, dump the stupid freakin’ hat, you look like an idiot. Counting Crows – every song is the same song and it wasn’t very good the first time. Cowboy Junkies – The answer to the Jeopardy question of how you define “suck” in two words. Crosby Stills & Nash – Neil Young was smart enough to stay away from this smarmy crapola and continue to be worthy of respect.
OK, are you pissed off yet? Or fully in agreement? Who did I miss? C’mon, join the fun and let me know. Tell your friends so that they can rip me, too. The lifeguards are telling me that there is a rip tide coming to BRP, and I want to see if they’re right.
Rock on until next time, and thanks for reading.
It's All Greek To Me
I hope you don’t mind a quick detour back into the world of art and antiquities. You don’t? Great, thanks, then here we go.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City has an extensive collection of Greek and Roman art in its permanent collection. But there are other museums that house deep antiquity assets, and one of them is the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. When the Pergamon Museum announced that it would be temporarily closing for refurbishment of its space, the Met took this as an opportunity to bring a treasure trove of Hellenistic art to North America. The result was “Pergamon and the Hellenistic Kingdoms of the Ancient World.” I went to see it recently in New York, and it was worth the trouble of dealing with the Big Apple.
The Wall Street Journal reported on the exhibition, and called it the “one of the most ambitious exhibitions of Greek art in the [Met’s] history.” While the exhibition had the Pergamon treasures at is core, the Met also solicited works from about 50 other museums and thus ended up with a treasure trove of Greek antiquities. The result was a blockbuster show.
According to the Journal, the Hellenistic period generally dates from the death of Alexander the Great (323 BC) to the suicide of Cleopatra in 30 BC. For those not in the know, Pergamon was a wealthy ancient city that now sits inside the border of Turkey. It was “discovered” by European archeologists, and most of its most treasured objects were taken, with permission by the then-local government, to Berlin. When we were in Turkey, we didn’t go to Pergamon because most of its treasures are gone, but we did go to Ephesus which was bad-ass. I would highly recommend Turkey assuming that there are no terrorist attacks or coups going on. Oops, sorry about that.
Anyway, the Met did a great job of complementing the Pergamon Museum’s core pieces with those of the same period from the other museums. But the most stunning pieces in the exhibition come from Pergamon. According to Carlos Picon, the Met’s curator in charge of the Greek and Roman collection, “this is the top 1% of what has survived [from the Hellenistic period] in terms of quality.” And it was all checked out in detail by yours truly.
Highlights include a very large statue of Athena. It weighs over 3 tons and was moved into the Met in 3 pieces. Trust me, it’s dramatic. Here’s a picture:
Other items that were incredible were some Greek bronze statues, one of a sleeping Eros, and one of a Greek man that is simply in incredible shape (it still has the glass eyes, that are haunting). They are pictured below. Note that there are only about 200 quality ancient Greek bronzes left in the modern world even though they were much more ubiquitous in ancient Greece than marble statues. Check these babies out:
Other wonderful objects were stunning ancient glassware of exquisite quality, particularly given their age. Here is a photo of some – blow it up and check them out in detail remembering that they are 2000 years old:
Here’s an amazing amulet:
And a golden crown that was mind-blowing in its beauty, condition and craftsmanship:
Just to keep things real, here is a bust of the Greek hero Herakles (top) and one of the most influential humans ever to stride the Earth, Julius Caesar, who lived at the end of the Hellenistic period:
Next, some marble statutary of dying and wounded Gauls that, again, are simply in amazing shape:
And finally, because this is a music blog, a picture of a bronze Greek shield, and more importantly, a bronze and bone Greek trumpet – the only one of its kind remaining in the world that is in complete and original condition. And a relief from a large urn showing a Grecian jamming on a wind instrument:
In case you didn’t realize it, I kind of dig this ancient stuff, and am always interested in checking it out. This was a show not to be missed, and I hope that others took advantage of its proximity to Philly to give it a look. I’m going to get back to the music soon enough, but thought this was worth a detour.
Speaking of music, I don’t have any shows on the calendar for about 6 weeks or so. I know, what the heck? But I already have tickets in hand to see Dick Dale, Springsteen, Titus Andronicus, Squeeze, the English Beat, the Buzzcocks, and Low Cut Connie in the Fall. That will give me plenty to write about, and you a chance to join me for some or all of this bodacious lineup. Hope more is in the works, and that I see you there.
Thanks for reading, and have a great day.
I told you I would be quickly back with more rock ‘n roll. Here are two very different bands, but both are terrific. I’m going to call out Ryan for turning me on to Ex Hex. We were driving back to Pompano after seeing Phish in Miami (now that’s an interesting crowd), and he played Ex Hex on the drive home. I was hooked after the first listen. More on Ex Hex below.
Two more call outs to people who have said, hey, Bill, check out this band. First to Pam from California and second to Carol from North Carolina. Yes, BRP has amazing geographical reach! I’ll be discussing Pam’s and Carol’s suggestions in an upcoming post, but wanted to recognize them for spreading the word. You will need to simply wait on the edge of your seat in anticipation to hear what I have to say about their recommendations. Until then, satisfy yourself with these two bands.
I know I’ve written about these guys before, but they’re worth hearing about one more time. Led by Patrick Stickles, these New Jersey-based punkers bring it with a layered guitar sound brought on by three guitarists, a keyboardist (sort of unique for a punk band), and some musical licks that veer pretty much all over the punker’s handbook. Patrick writes interesting and ambitious stuff: The Monitor album has Civil War references, and The Most Lamentable Tragedy is a double album that is in the rock opera mode. And the band’s name is taken from Shakespeare – google them, and see what else pops up, haha. Somehow, it all works. Oh, and they are a great live band – I saw them once this year at Union Transfer with Ryan, and will be seeing them again this fall at the TLA. Listen to this amazing song, called “Fatal Flaw:”
A better version of the Go Go’s. Well, they only have one album out, so maybe. Regardless, a damn good all-girl power trio from DC. They have catchy songs, rock out in grrrrl group fashion, and have a snappy live show that is crowd pleasing (saw them at Union Transfer with Ryan, and we both agreed that they were worth the hefty admission charge of $10). Seriously, I really like this band and think you will, too. Here’s “Don’t Wanna Lose:”
I think I’m going to surprise you next time with the mellower side of BRP. Sometimes, summer brings on the languid moods and you simply want to savor the slower side of life while enjoying long, warm days. But you’ll have to wait until next time to read about my more recent finds. I guarantee you that you will be impressed.
Be well, tell your friends to check out the site, enjoy the sweet summer, and continue to rock on!
South Florida is hot in the summer. Every day it heats up to 90 or 92 degrees, and then cools down to a refreshing 80 or so at night. Humid? You bet. This goes on for a solid 4 or 5 months without a break. But the water temperature is in the low 80s, and the crowds of snowbirds are gone. It’s green and lush with tropical plants and flowers. The water has beautiful colors, sometimes blue and sometimes green. And the skies! You’ve never seen such amazing skies – clouds of all types, many full of moisture, great sunsets, and rainbows. It’s subtropical, and it’s simply different from the rest of this wonderful country.
While most people think that SoFla is sort of the capital of the Caribbean, it is still very much the U.S. its location in the South also means that it remains, despite its tremendous immigrant diversity, heavily influenced by all things southern. Bar-b-que, religion, beer, guns, rednecks, football, and on the 4th of July, fireworks.
Now people all over the U.S. love their fireworks, but I’ve never seen anything like the private displays that go on in SoFla. I don’t know where you go to buy professional sky-rockets, but I think I was the only one in the 3 county region who was clueless. They are everywhere.
We ventured up to Pompano Beach to watch the city’s display off of the pier that juts out into the ocean. We got there about an hour or so before the fireworks began, and settled onto a spot in the sand along with thousands of others. That’s when the fun began. Have you ever heard, from close range, the sound of those professional fireworks? The guys who run the big public displays say that they sound like mortars being fired. Well, let me tell you, we began randomly hearing that sound all over the place as we sat on the beach. We quickly figured out that once that sound was heard to look skyward and see the resulting rocket burst. It was fun.
It was also a bit dangerous. Now, we’re not timid around fireworks, and I’ve bought and used my fair share of seriously big bottlerockets, enough to bring the cops to my house back in my more rambunctious days (I blamed the neighbors, of course). But this was something different altogether. People didn’t seem to care where you were sitting or whether you were even paying attention to what they were doing. The penultimate result was of a group of about 20 or so people, with half the group being kids ranging in ages from about 6 – 12, beginning to blast away about 15 feet from us.
They came equipped for bedlam. Whoosh went the mortar sounds. We stood up now because this stuff was CLOSE, and the wind-blown cinders were falling about 10 feet away. Cones on the beach? Of course. Sparklers? Let the 2 year olds hold them and laugh like hell. And then a hefty bottle rocket that came down and landed on Helen’s foot (no injury), but we moved up-wind and further back. Here’s a picture of that baby with my ugly toes showing for perspective’s sake:
Finally, this mysterious box came out. I’ve never seen a firework like this. It was a cube, probably a foot tall, deep and wide. You lit it once, but it did all kinds of things. A sky rocket came blasting out, went up about 50 feet and then blew up nicely. I figured that was it, but it kept on sparking. A ground level flame of sparks came next, and when they say “caution, emits showers of sparks,” they meant it because a lot of them came raining down on the little kids (no need for a bath tonight kiddos, just play in the shower). And then lots of banging like fire crackers and finally another sky rocket. It was cool, but damn dangerous at close range. Perfect southern fun!
Right after that, the pier erupted and the huge public show went off, but that didn’t stop the private displays. Our heads remained on a swivel. I’ve been to many public fireworks displays, this one was typical in many ways: the crowd was festive, nice and orderly, but I’ve never seen a crowd so stocked to the hilt with fireworks. After the public display, we walked back over the intra-coastal to our car, and on our drive home, saw many more rockets from backyards all over Pompano. It was fantastic.
Here are a couple of pictures of the SoFla tropical foliage and the pier fireworks. I hope you enjoyed a wonderful Independence Day. It only took the Brits 240 years to get their own Brexit, and I hope theirs is as successful as ours has been. Back to rock in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1: whoosh!
Happy Independence Day!
Happy 4th of July to BRP readers. Here are two photos from Nashville to show that American spirit. These two, who were not together, were simply in the crowd at the honky-tonks. In fact, they were not even in the same club. Sort of fun, and totally all-American. Anyway, enjoy a safe holiday, dig the fireworks, and bask with family and friends in a long weekend during the sweetness of summer.
Surfing the Joywave
I was at Union Transfer again on a recent Thursday night to see an indie rock band named Joywave. Joywave has one album out, but it’s gotten a fair amount of airplay, particularly for the song “Dangerous.” They sort of sound like a newer version of Echo and the Bunnymen, but you can hear other influences, too, and they’re highly danceable. Like some bands, their recorded output just doesn’t match up with how they sound live. It was a solid and enjoyable show, and had a lot of energy. The crowd was in to it.
Two things about the show: first, let’s talk stage presence. It’s amazing to me how few bands seem to truly appreciate how a compelling front-man or –woman can be for the crowd. Joywave seems to get it, and Daniel Armbruster is fun to watch bounce around the stage and lead the band through its chops. But he wasn’t alone; the others on the stage all seemed to enjoy being on stage as the pictures below attest. The visuals were great.
Second, for old guys like me, bands with only one or two albums out are nice because they play all the songs you know and usually in a brisk way (the Struts are an exception). I like a longer show by bands that have the material to carry one, like the recent Wilco show. But not all bands have the catalogue necessary for such extravagance.
Opening for Joywave was Transviolet, who we enjoyed. There is a picture of them below, too (the very last one).
I hope you enjoy the pictures. I seem to have trouble with getting great shots at Union Transfer, and I think it's because of the lighting there. Anyway, thanks for reading. I’ve been particularly busy with my real life lately, and haven’t been able to post as much as usual. Sorry about that. I hope you’re sorry, too. Lots more to come soon, I promise. See 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.