Hey, I finally got a comment! It was about Daft Punk. Hahaha, now that’s funny. And I saw where Blonde Summer mentions BRP on their Facebook page, and a band from DC called Dot Dash contacted BRP and is looking for some free publicity. For some free streaming from Dot Dash, go here:
The national reach of BRP is just too incredible to ponder. And you can tell them all “I was there at the start.”
It’s back to the ABC diversion with the letters T, U, V and W. Yes, sadly we are nearing the end, but there are still many great and not so great bands to mention. If you’ve read this far into the series, you must be insane or perhaps you are just liking it? I’m going to assume you aren’t Hinkley and are just with me. So go grab a drink and come along for this next installment. As always, 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.”
Keep on reading, keep on having fun, and we’ll all be cool.
T is for Teenage Fanclub. Rockin’ pop from this UK band. Nothing but great songs, slow or fast. Three, yes three, songwriters and all of them are good. That is Teenage Fanclub. Virtually unknown here in the US, they play huge festivals and halls in their native land. For some reason (lack of payola?) they never got the radio airplay they so richly deserved here, but maybe that kept them from resting on their laurels. Bandwagonesque, Grand Prix and Howdy are three major albums that you should know. I’m going to see them live shortly, and will report back as usual.
Honorable Mentions: The Temptations – best men’s group from Motown? Maybe. Hard not to love them. Talking Heads – full of eggheads, somehow it works. Quirky songs with offbeat lyrics, but a driving rhythm section keeps the songs danceable and poppy. Good live show back in the day, too. Tedeschi Trucks Band – if you like the Allman Brothers, this band travels in the same southern blues-based genre, but with a female lead singer. They bring it as a live act, too, with two drummers and a full horn section. Yowza! Television – like the Talking Heads, another band that played a lot at CBGBs. Marquee Moon is a classic album. That Petrol Emotion – fantastic follow-up to the Undertones. Tina Turner – What a great story and artist. Many super albums and a huge voice. Fantastic live show, but she’s retired. I hope you caught it. Iconic. Thin Lizzy – straight ahead rock ‘n roll with heart. I still listen to them a lot. Train – I LOVE my Soul Sister. Travis Tritt – great outlaw country. Randy Travis – great pure country. Third Eye Blind – Go ahead, ridicule me. I like them. Justin Timberlake – I don’t really go much for today’s pop music, but I like JT. The guy puts out danceable, fun songs that everyone knows. Tower of Power – funk with a big horn section. You knew I’d love them.
Newbies who are worth checking out: Titus Andonicus – if you regularly read BRP, you know that this band is one of my favorites. Punky, tuneful, passionate and great live show. Torche – new metal for a new generation. Tenement – another BRP favorite. Crunchy guitar, great songs with hooks galore. I missed their 2015 tour, dammit! Tribes – I dig this band. A New Music Express favorite, and for good reason.
Disrespect: Tangerine Dream – a college dorm neighbor loved this band. I hated them. Like going to church, I’ve done my time and hope never to have this experience again. James Taylor – I like some of his stuff, but not much. And I never thought he was deserving of the acclaim he received. I’ll take Carol King any day. They Might Be Giants – clever to a fault. But Minimum Wage is brilliant. Robin Trower – let’s all chip in and get him a retirement annuity so he never tours again. Marshall Tucker Band – They live next door to Pablo Cruise in cheesy has-been land. Thompson Twins – Clearly, the triplet with all the talent was still born.
U is for U2. I know, it was close with the rapper Unk, but U2 pulled it out. Everyone knows this band, right? They play stadiums and the Super Bowl, appear on Apple TV commercials, prove themselves more self-righteous than Leonardo DiCaprio, and have slid into late career malaise. Hey, bands that last this long eventually run out of new things to say, but if they are great performers, they can carry on for a long time. And U2 was once a fabulous band. Two early albums, War and Boy, are amazing. The Unforgettable Fire had some great songs, but was inconsistent. And the Joshua Tree had some of the best of the best of U2. Bono is not the front man that, say, Jagger is/was. But who is? He is good. And the Edge has a guitar sound that is distinctive. U2 rocked it, had a lot to say, and has a terrific legacy of recorded works.
Honorable Mentions: The Undertones – John Peel’s all-time favorite rock song is Teenage Kicks, and it’s a great song. But so are Here Comes The Summer, Listening In, etc. Feargal Sharkey’s vocals drive the band. Uncle Tupelo – If you like alt-country, this pre-Wilco, pre-Son Volt band delivers the goods. Lots of good songs in the archives here. Usher – I kind of like some Usher songs. And I respect his business acumen. So here he is. Surprise!
Newbies who are worth checking out: I got nothin’ for ya on this one. If you’re gonna start a band, get a name that begins with U and U will make the list.
Disrespect: UB40 – Kind of a bad reggae band who got a lot of attention because they were British rather than Jamaican. There best song was written by Neal Diamond, which alone qualifies them for some ring in hell. Ultravox – I used to like one song by these poseurs, but man, did their music fail the test of time.
V is for Van Halen. When I was in college, everyone who played the guitar wanted to sound like Eddie Van Halen. A technician, experimenter, pioneer and all-out rocker, EVH had it all. Putting David Lee Roth in front and letting him run wild was inspiration of the highest order. The result? Unbelievable arena rock that will still get you going. In fact, if you see Van Halen live, you’ll be amazed by the number of songs where you can shake your fist two or three times to the music while you are watching DLR rip it up. Custom made for venues that hold 20,000 people and where volume is not controlled, these guys are some of the best of the late-classic rock movement.
Honorable Mentions: Velvet Underground – I know, they could have carried this whole thing, but how fun would it be if I simply aped what every rock critic has said for the last 40 years? Before their time is an understatement. The Ventures – Surf guitar at its best. Great songs. Violent Femmes – Indie rockers who bridged into the mainstream. That’s not easy. Frankie Valli – I love the Four Seasons and Frankie Valli. Just great stuff from the boys out of Jersey. Stevie Ray Vaughan – I never saw him, unfortunately, but what a huge talent this guy was. RIP, man.
Newbies who are worth checking out: The Vaccines – great name, some really catchy songs, good live act. If you like the Arctic Monkeys, you’ll like the Vaccines. Vampire Weekend – the band that is safe for soccer moms everywhere, their syncopated sound is distinctive. They need to move on to a larger range of music to have staying power.
Disrespect: Vanilla Ice – Was this the guy in the movie Gran Torino to whom Clint Eastwood said “I wouldn’t want to be your bro, either?” Hahaha. The Village People – I like disco. But I hate the song YMCA, and it’s ubiquity in our society. It’s right up there with “Celebration,” “I Gotta Feeling,” and “The Happy Song.” Nurse, help!!!!
W is for Weezer. It’s a new generation, Who fans, and we ain’t talkin’ about yours anymore, except when the subject of Social Security reform is the topic. Weezer has put out so many good albums and singles that they defined the 90s and early 00s. Rivers Cuomo wrote some songs that will stay in your mind for years, and delivered them with passion and emotion. Yes, they have tailed off and yes, the cool kids all say Pinkerton is the only good Weezer album (and it is great), but the cool kids were secretly loading up their iPods with the blue album, the green album and the red album, too. How could you not? If you like catchy power pop, this band smokes it, and with wit, humor and enough radio-ready hits to reach the masses. They are a decent live act, too, but watch your step on the way back from the bathroom.
Honorable Mentions: The Who – yes, they were one of the very best of the British Invasion bands. You know the songs. Daltry in his day was great, but he lost his voice. Townshend wrote songs of distinction, and never shied away from ambition. Hall of Famers. But of a different generation. Stevie Wonder – And hey, Who fans, Stevie Wonder was a better talent anyway. This guy pumped out fantastic songs for decades. One of the best live shows I have seen over the last few years, too. War – Eric Burden was cool. A band known for a couple of hits, but who went much deeper. Wilco – you can’t even pigeon-hole this band into a type anymore. Alt-country, rock, whatever, they are one of the best bands out there right now. Jeff Tweedy will tell you that he invented the sun, moon and stars, but he writes great songs, and they rock it live. They almost took the letter W from Weezer. The Wipers – Greg Sage’s Portland, Oregon band was a valuable American new wave band. Their music stands up. Wreckless Eric – a loveable chap from England with some classic songs from the much-missed Stiff label. Never caught on in the States, to the shame of all us. Whiskeytown – I already mentioned Ryan Adams, but before he became Ryan Adams, he fronted Whiskeytown. A great legacy of alt-country and rock was left behind. Some of my favorites from Mr. Adams fly under the Whiskeytown flag. The White Stripes – Jack White, rangy guitarist and all around strange dude, really ripped it up in this band. Put it on late at night and wake up the neighbors – I bet they won’t mind. Junior Walker & The All Stars – C’mon, hum those Motown hits. Great band with a great horn sound. Dionne Warwick – I love Burt Bacharach and Hal David songs. And no one sang them better than Dionne. Dale Watson – You want old school outlaw country? You want to hear songs about drinking? Look no further. Barry White – What a voice! Great songs that plaster a smile on your face and that you turn up extremely loud while in the car.
Newbies who are worth checking out: Wolf Alice – grungy, trippy, rocking music from the UK. Really solid live act. I listen to them a lot. We Were Promised Jetpacks – You want to rock it? Strap on - here’s your vehicle. The Wonder Years – not that new, but basically unknown. Good power pop from Philly. Walk The Moon – do you disrespect a band just because they had a huge hit? I don’t. I love Shut Up and Dance, but that album is better than just that one song. The Walkmen – a WXPN favorite, and for good reason. I like ‘em, too. Whiskey Folk Ramblers – Oh my, these guys know the difference between a redneck and a hillbilly.
Disrespect: Wall of Voodoo – Yes, I like Mexican Radio. It was smart and funny. So the disappointment with the rest of this band’s output is palpable. The Wallflowers – A perfect name for a loser band. Wham! - I never understood the hype. And to think that these guys got rich. Life ain’t fair. Steve Winwood – I like SW when he is in a band. As a solo act? Nope.
Alright, that’s it for now. We are down to the final three letters, and with X in there, it won’t take long to go through that list of bands. I’ve been having fun doing this. And yes, I know that I left out some bands that you figured I would mention. I did this for a few reasons. One is that I didn’t remember every band while I was writing. And some I considered but didn’t include because they are … just there and not worthy of mention. In my mind, they didn’t deserve respect or disrespect.
I’ll be back to close this out, and then who knows where this feeble mind will take you next. I still have much to discuss, and shockingly, I have opinions on virtually everything. Until then, watch season two of Narcos and check back with this space on occasion. Au revoir.
Oops, wait a minute. For you Hokie fans out there, it was a thrashing that VT put on East Carolina this weekend. I mean a BEATDOWN. I’m excited about this team. Now, class is dismissed. See ya.
I use Weebly to host my blog, but I'm still learning how to use it most effectively. As you might have noticed, I've had trouble getting links to work. Heck, that's an overstatement. I've had trouble getting ANY links up at all. So I'm going to try again.
Here we go. I'm going to drop a link to SoundOpinions.org which is a great website/blog that Ryan turned me on to. Hope it works, and if it does, enjoy it.
wiI haven’t spent a lot of time in Baltimore lately. Yes, I have been to the big 3 museums (Walters, BMA, the B&O), Ft. McHenry, and G&M’s Restaurant which serves outrageously good all-lump crab cakes, but Baltimore has become for me what New Jersey is to most people from Pennsylvania: a place you drive through to get to your real intended destination. So it was with some pleasant surprise that I found myself with Jonathan and Blaine at Pier 6 on a very lovely Tuesday evening. And I was ready for some rock ‘n roll with Gov't Mule and ZZ Top.
Let me tell you a little about Pier 6. In the Inner Harbor area, it has a pavilion with a few thousand permanent seats and large supporting posts that hold up a weather-tight roof of white fabric. I’m sure you’ve seen those circus-type tent pavilions before, right? Anyway, it’s otherwise open air, and is surrounded by water. So while the bands were playing, the occasional sail boat would cruise past. And there was one of those iconic Chesapeake Bay lighthouses in view, too; you know, the octagonal ones that are low-slung and cool looking and should always have a skipjack close by them to complete the visual setting. With the downtown Baltimore skyline set further back, it’s a pretty interesting setting that is quite pleasing to the eye. It’s not perfect, however: the acoustics are fair, but lyrics were generally lost in the billowing sails of the fabric roof. Nonetheless, there are far worse places to see live music. Yes, how did you know that I was thinking of Camdem?
Now, it is Baltimore, so the GPS took me to the venue via the third-world, but I eventually made it with no problem, and had a nice pre-concert meal with Jonathan in the adjacent Little Italy neighborhood. I parked on the street for $4 and chanced a parking ticket. But I made it without one (can I hear a whoo-hoo from the crowd? Thanks!) and thus avoided the $40 parking charge for the lots. [Quick aside: paying $40 to park at a concert where I’ve already dropped $70 for a ticket is plain highway robbery. Most club shows that I see cost in the $15-25 range, and there is usually some free form of parking around (albeit, since it’s in Philly, I’m parked in the ubiquitous broken glass). But still, $40? I ain’t cheap, but I am frugal, and I can work up a lather about being ripped off for parking, concessions and ticket fees.]
But all that’s for another day. A great double bill featuring Gov't Mule and ZZ Top was worth the effort of driving to Baltimore on a Tuesday night (a school night!) and to pay non-BRP like sums to see.
Gov’t Mule opened the show, and put out their signature southern blues-based rock with long guitar jams. Warren Haynes and Allen Woody, both of the Allman Brothers Band, formed GM as a side project to the ABB. Haynes has a good voice and can play a mean guitar. And he has also emerged as a solid songwriter and arranger. Woody, unfortunately, died a while ago, but GM has kept on over the years, and continues to play their southern rock ‘n blues throughout the country. They were really solid in Baltimore (although, as noted above, the vocal acoustics were bad), and we enjoyed them quite a bit. The crowd was also into it, and the band was clearly juiced up by the positive vibes coming their way. I recommend this band as a live act, and hope you get the chance to see them the next time you and they end up in the same town on the same night.
Here are some pictures – sorry, no close ups, but these aren’t bad:
Next up was ZZ Top. Still sporting their hats, sunglasses and Hasidic beards, these guys look like it’s 1975 out there. In fact, Billy Gibbons made the joke that they have been touring together for 4 decades: same 3 guys, same 3 chords. Haha, you have to love a self-deprecating sense of humor, and clearly Billy has it.
As far as the music, the boys sounded the same, which is a good thing. They rocked out on all the singles you know, from La Grange to Tush, but performed a disappointing encore consisting solely of the University of Miami’s fight song (“Jailhouse Rock” for those not in the know). Other than that, they tore through the hits, played a song or two with fur-covered guitars (see below), and gave the fans what they wanted. You have to admire a band that continues to work the crowd, joke around and have fun on stage, and rock on and on with the same guys and the same songs. Artistic illusions behind them, they are performers going from town to town and entertaining the baby boomers. Oh, and I did not win the AARP award for oldest dude in this night’s show. In fact, far from it. I’m not sure whether or not I’m happy about that, but I’ll take it.
The two bands ended in time for BRP to get back up I-95 and catch a few zzzz’s before going to work on Wednesday. And yes, I was out yet again on Wednesday night, but this time for a work function at the impeccable Barnes Foundation in Philly. I’m not going to write that up, but there was no rest for the weary last week.
Below are some photos of ZZ Top.
Oh, and for those wondering about the Hokies, and that would be all of you, they bounced back from the Tennessee game to thrash Boston College. I’m telling you now: I like this team, and if they avoid the injury bug, there aren’t many teams who will want to play the Hokies at the end of this season.
With that, I say adieu to you and you and you. Have a great day, and I’ll be back with more reviews and other fun. I have more shows lined up in the next month or so, including some of my favorite all-time acts: the Buzzcocks, Squeeze, the English Beat, Ash and Teenage Fanclub. Wow! Plus, Catfish and the Bottlemen! The kid knows how to live, right? Love ya all, thanks for reading.
Union Transfer. Monday Night. End of summer closing in. Who is on the slate? Why, it’s Sleigh Bells, a duo from Brooklyn that play a style of music that is hard to describe. It’s been called noise pop, whatever that means, but it’s essentially got nice guitar hooks, a huge driving beat, lots of bass, and a female lead singer going essentially with R&B style vocals. All that with a punk attitude. Whatever it is, it works.
But before I get to Sleigh Bells, let me tell you about the opening act. Miya Folick brought a well-rehearsed, professional band with a cool light show to the UT, and they were quite good. I didn’t love every song, and in fact there were some that were forgettable. But she was the best opening act that I have seen in a while, and some of the songs were really good. I’m going to check her out later and will report back, but for now you’ll have to satisfy yourself with this picture of her from the other night:
OK, now back to the main event. Sleigh Bells is Alexis Krauss and Derek Edward Miller. Alexis sings, Derek plays guitar. There was another guitarist at the show, but I don’t know who he is. No bassist. No drummer. So it was this threesome up there.
But damn! What a lot of noise!! They had a huge stack of Marshalls on stage, each stack capped with strobe lights facing the crowd. And while there was no percussion or bass being played live, there was a ton of it being projected out into the crowd. I mean teeth rattling bass, the kind of bass that will require the UT to go back and pound in the nails holding the building up.
And those strobes! I was on the floor with my buddy, and we were maybe 8 people back from the stage. It was not a mosh show, so it was cool to be there. But let me tell you, the strobes were used a ton and the background lighting that was also used made for a trippy show not experienced by me since high school. It worked on the crowd, many of whom were young (alas, I believe I won the AARP award for oldest dude at the club that night), and all of whom were grooving on the music.
The music was great, but it’s an acquired taste. Obviously, a lot of people have acquired it since the show was sold out on a Monday night, but I’ll admit that it’s not for everyone. But for me? Hey, Sleigh Bells tore through a ferocious set without much of a breather, and left the crowd pumped up. And Alexis has some great stage presence, and even crowd surfed for a bit.
It was a great way to start the week. I’ll be back soon with another review of a show on Tuesday night. Here are some cool pictures of Sleigh Bells:
For the second time in the last 6 months, I went to see Titus Andronicus perform live in Philly. This time it was a very hot Friday night, and the venue was the TLA. I like the TLA – it’s a small venue with good sight lines, but the scuzzy South Street location is a drawback. The crowd was below capacity, probably because Adele and Springsteen were also in town on the same night, and all three bands pretty much share the identical fan base. Anyway, the non-sell out was fine with me because it gave plenty of room to move around in comfort. In fact, I ended up right in front of the stage for about half the show.
The last time that Titus came to Philly, it was the last night of a lengthy tour for the band, and they brought it all with a 6 person band and three guitar attack. It was fantastic, one of the best concerts I have seen in the past few years. So I jumped to get tickets when this show was announced, and I was pumped up. And Titus delivered … but not quite as convincingly as last time.
This version of Titus was a four member band – still tight and powerful, but without the third guitar and keyboards, the wall of sound was a bit smaller and less complex. Nonetheless, Patrick Stickles and the boys have a great songbook of punk/indie songs from which to select, and they chose wisely. And Patrick had a lot of space to maneuver on stage, and he is an interestingly dynamic performer. Take a look at the accompanying photos – they don’t tell the whole story, of course, but they help. An exuberant crowd loved it all, singing along and moshing heavily.
Even though this show wasn’t as strong as the last one, please don’t take that as a slam on Friday night’s concert. It was still a great show, and if you missed it, I feel bad for you. And it’s not like it would have cost you a ton of money, either - $13 was the face value of the ticket (although the hated ticket fees/handling always jack that cost up by another $7 or so – arrrggghhh, don’t you hate that?!). It was not much money very well spent, and I’m congratulating myself on taking advantage of this great entertainment value.
My own back now suitably patted, let’s return to Friday’s concert. Titus ripped through a bunch of their most “famous” songs: “Fatal Flaw,” “A More Perfect Union,” and the like. But they finished the show with a raved up cover of the Ramones “Blitzkrieg Bop“ with Patrick down from the stage and belting it out right in front of your humble blogger. The crowd loved it, I loved it, and clearly the band loved it. All in all, this was one great way to spend Friday night in Philly.
Below are the photos I mentioned previously. I have to say, given my prime location and my upgraded iPhone 6, I’m a bit disappointed by their quality. I’m beginning to think that the lighting in some of the Philly venues (particularly Union Transfer and the TLA) are so heavily reliant upon reddish lights that the photo quality suffers. Whatever, I still have some good shots, including one that I texted to Jonathan who responded with a wickedly funny text about how great it was.
As always, thanks for reading, and I’m sure you’re glad that I’m back to music and not publishing more odes to, and photos of, my VT paraphernalia. You’ll see more on the concert front soon as I will be seeing two more shows with three headliner bands in the next few nights. I’ll build the drama on who I am seeing by saying that you will certainly know one of them, may know the second, and I’ll be happy if you have heard of the third. With that, I will say good bye for now, and wish you a happy day. Ciao, baby.
Let's Go! Hokies!
As the summer begins to wind down, BRP begins to turn attention to another passion: football. For those of you that don’t know, I’m a Virginia Tech alum and fan, and all of us Hokies are hoping for a great season. We’re 1-0 so far with a big game against Tennessee today. So how big of a Hokie fan am I? I don’t know how to measure, but when I think of great Virginians I think of Washington, Madison, Jefferson and Beamer.
My mother-in-law and brother/sister-in-law make sure that I have all the gear necessary for everyone to know the team for which I root. It’s great – they all live in the Old Dominion and find all kinds of cool, weird and quirky things with the VT logo on them. Those gifts make up the bulk of my collection. Others have contributed through the years, and I have also personally bought some “must haves,” too. I thought it might make for an interesting and amusing break from the music-focus of most of my posts to let you into this strange little world of (my) college football fandom. Please read, and please never let me know what you truly think of this. I think I have a pretty good feel for that already.
So with that, here we go. I’ve categorized things as best as I can, but threw in a catch-all for miscellaneous items at the end – don’t miss it, it has a few unusual items, even for someone who roots for a team that has an orange and maroon turkey for its mascot. And I have pictures, of course, because some things are simply best appreciated when seen. I’m not going to start with the benign clothing/hat stuff. Instead, I’ll start with:
FURNITURE AND LIGHTING
Say what? Yes, I have some items in the household collection of which you may be interested. Let’s start with the rocking chair. It’s big, roomy, some might say HUGE, and is painted in that Chicago Maroon that matches the color of my bloodstream. Check it out with a nice VT blanket on top:
Next is a fine camp chair. I have no idea who gave this to me. It simply showed up in a UPS package at my house one day. I didn’t order it, nor did the usual suspects. So if you sent it, I’m sorry that I didn’t know and didn’t acknowledge the gift, but thanks, I’ve used it quite a few times.
OK, now the prize of the collection: the octopus lamp. Straight out of the pages of Architectural Digest, this cutting edge lighting fixture should be a staple of every home. Check it out – it has two different types of lampshades, both emblazoned with Hokie logo type stuff. Beautiful and functional, too!
FLAGS AND OTHER OUTSIDE-THE-HOUSE ITEMS
I have a great VT flag that I hang up outside the house occasionally, like when we win a big game (ok, so I haven’t used it too much lately), or when I’m fired up about something like the start of the football season.
Here’s a very new item, the latest in the collection. It’s a magnetic VT mailbox cover. I need to be careful with this one because people, even in the Keystone State, get sticky fingers for the VT unusual, and well, this is unusual. This item is cool because it makes my house easy to find for those coming over to watch the Hokies on my Hokie-Vision screen. And the mailman brings me tuition checks because he thinks I’m the University’s Bursar! That last one isn’t true, but wouldn’t it be nice? Here’s a photo:
FOOD AND BEVERAGE RELATED ITEMS
I put a bunch of things in this category into one photo. Quite the ensemble, I think. Here's an image and then let’s go around the table.
Tablecloth? Got one. Everything is on top of it – gorgeous, right? Now, from the bottom left clockwise:
Napkins. They’re paper so eventually I’ll run out of them. That will be a day of great sadness.
How about the crystal wine stopper? Much needed for the Boone’s Farm set, and also fits snugly on top of Montgomery County (Virginia has one, too) moonshine bottles of applejack. No house, particularly on the Main Line, should be without one of these.
OK, the next item isn’t beverage/food related, but I saw it when I was taking the picture. Yes, it’s a VT football player night light.
Next is the Stuffed Hokie Bird. Nope, not even the grandkids, who I adore, are allowed to put their grimy little fingers on this toy. I also have two at work.
Beer/beverage holders? Many of these, including those designed for cans and those for bottles. We are all-inclusive Hokie fans, and don’t discriminate against glass or aluminum.
A VT shopping bag showing that we are orange, maroon and green.
Next is a bag of VT pasta. Yup.
And finally a VT grilling spatula.
Now let's leave the above picture and move on to ... the rolling cooler. OK, I’m going to fess up. When I first got this, I thought “what the hell am I going to do with that?” Well, those were the thoughts of an idiot (as you already know) because this has turned out to be the most versatile and loved VT item in the collection. Why? Well, first, it’s great at its primary job, which is keeping beverages and food cold. But it also has zippered pouches that are perfect for storing things you don’t want to lose, like bottle openers or car keys. And there are mesh side pouches that stretch to hold whatever the hell you want to stuff in them. Can I go on? Yes, I can, because it’s my blog. This baby is on wheels, which makes it easy to drag along, and also has shoulder straps should you want to sling it on your back when you travel. And for travel, you can take it on vacation as it carries your stuff to, say, Puerto Rico, then serves its intended purpose there, and yes, it FITS UNDER THE SEAT IN FRONT OF YOU on the plane. How cool is that? I’m going to say that a VT engineer designed this because of its amazing combination of functionality, practicality and sheer good looks. Take a look with envy:
Don’t you dare park in my spot! Can’t you see it’s reserved?
Magnets. I only have two as a third was nicked in Arlington when I foolishly left it on my car overnight. I told you, sticky fingers for all things VT exist. Here you go, the classic VT, but I also have one with the Hokie bird which I did not picture so as to avoid home break-ins:
License plate? Why the hell not! And hey, for those mandatory state-required plates, let’s enclose them with a license plate holder of true value. Here’s just the big VT on the black Hokie party mobile:
Shirts? Got a stack of t-shirts plus a nice golf shirt when only something with a collar will do. I singled out this truly unique black and silver one like we are the Oakland Raiders or something:
Sweatshirts? Of course, multiples. So cozy and warm. I have all the seasons covered.
Hats? Check. And even one to wear with the black and silver VT shirt – flat brim, off-center “VT” and just so fly.
Cuff links. I wear these a lot, particularly to black tie events where graduates of snooty eastern schools show up with their ties and crests. Yeah, yeah, check this out buddy. Here I am at the same event as you and I didn’t have to pay a ridiculous amount of money for my degree, nor spend the rest of my life with my head stuffed firmly between my butt cheeks like you did. Oh, and yeah, I had fun in college. Check out the music section below and watch your jealous meter blow up.
Yes, I use the plural because one just won’t do. I have a maroon VT-emblazoned one that is lightweight and soft that you saw above. I can feel your jealousy from here.
And I have one with famous buildings from the VT campus. I think I did something bad in every one of these places (and then some - thank god the Donaldson-Brown Center is not shown. Southern Baptist ministers watched a very famous moonshot in there). But the blanket company was thoughtful enough not to include the student judicial room where I was placed on disciplinary probation for some trivial rules violation issue. They didn’t catch the best stuff that your humble blogger did waaaaaaaaaay back in the day.
The grab bag, the uncategorizable, the truly good stuff. Let’s dig in and get right to it.
VT Barbie. Check her out in her cute little uniform. Whenever someone starts to disrespect Barbie, you think of this and respond “hey, wait, that’s not fair, I know of this VT Barbie that’s truly awesome.” Please don't ask me why I own this.
The Gobbler Shaker. Yes, this requires some explaining. And a video. Here we go. When I was a student at the school, the official school nickname was the Fighting Gobblers. It’s true. To this day, the scoreboard in Blacksburg makes a turkey gobble sound to fire up the crowd. So that’s the source of all this turkey stuff. Now that we are the Hokies (a name which means nothing), we haven’t abandoned all things Gobbler, and the shaker is a reminder. This thing is a noisemaker that makes a turkey gobble sound, and is used to celebrate touchdowns, torment the dog, scare the kids, do lewd and lascivious things, or whatever. It’s a sound of Appalachian heaven. Unfortunately, I couldn't get my video to load. I'll try again another time, so sorry.
Umbrellas. Two. In the shape of football helmets. Tre cool.
Trash can. Used to throw away fund-raising appeals from UVa. NEVER! Take a look:
Luggage handle. This is useful because all bags look the same… except for those emblazoned with the VT logo, which of course, are of significantly higher value.
No office is complete without an ensemble of Hokie stuff. I have in my office the following:
Business card holder. Too gorgeous to put cards in it and block the artwork. Painted by a follower of Da Vinci. It is said that the master himself was jealous because he didn’t come up with this on his own.
Pen holder. Functional and nice. And not the same one used by your plumber while he bends under your kitchen sink and you drool.
Pens. Found only in the non-plumber holder. Only for the most important documents.
Commemorative Coke bottle. A true antique that commemorates Tech’s successful 1980 season.
Coffee mug and another couple Hokie bird toys. I don’t drink coffee. I do play with the Hokie bird toys.
AND FINALLY, SOME MUSIC
Nope, I’m not going to link to the Hokie fight song (you go check it out on your own, but please stand up, face south and put your hand over your heart as it plays). I’m not even going to link to someone playing the Hokey Pokey, which, when danced with Helen, is quite naughty and fun. No, this link is to the Hokie football team entering the field at Lane Stadium while Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” plays and the crowd bounces. A chill just went up my spine and I have chicken skin! It’s a great spectacle and one of college football’s great traditions. Watch, enjoy and envy me. Yup, I was lucky enough to go to this school. GO HOKIES:
I saw some things recently that made me think they were good fodder for some BRP discussion. I took pictures and have put my comments below them. As always, I have an opinion about each of them - hopefully, an entertaining comment - but you be the judge of that. Here we go:
I saw this in an antique shop in Denver. I’m not the biggest fan of hippies. Hey man, take a shower and you can come in the back door! I personally love the contemporary yuppie/hippie/environmentalist combo the best. Hahaha!!!
The Rolling Stone wine club! Can you believe it? I literally laughed out loud when I saw this advertisement. What do you say to your friends, want some Dead Head wine? I guess the true hippies living off the land decided to turn to grapes to sell yuppie juice to their friends on Wall Street. But they still have to come in the back door – no exceptions! – when they hold their wine tastings.
Dive Bar T-Shirts. Yeah, it’s a club that sends you t-shirts from bars that you have never visited. The angle is that you look cool by promoting a bar that you would probably be too scared to actually venture into in real life. I like low-brow places, but I generally don’t wear t-shirts with writing on them, and definitely wouldn’t join a club to send me t-shirts from bars that used to be called “dumps” and where women seldom ventured. I think that the people who believe that cargo shorts look good would be interested in getting these t-shirts.
Now, this is rock ‘n roll, old school style. I’m not pushing this store in Bryn Mawr – it’s interesting to poke around in, but they make knick-knacks from old rock records. Like what? Wall clocks, chip bowls, and the like. But you have to like a place named Gold Million Records that has a monster-ass gold convertible GM car sitting outside of it. Rockers have written tons of songs with the word “Cadillac” in it, but not many drive American cars anymore. Hmmmmm.
The French are cool in some ways. I love the name of this store, Troc n’ Roll. Sometimes, it’s the foreign guys that help to make U.S. popular culture go global. And there is a reason that it has gone global: it’s freaking great.
I just love these photos of Justin Hawkins of The Darkness at the TLA in Philly. Yes, he is playing the guitar while sitting on some dude’s shoulders who is walking around throughout the crowd. And in the middle one, yes, that is a young child whose father is trying to bolster his “father of the year” award chops. Justin is an amazing front man, highly entertaining, and The Darkness just rock out. This, ladies and gentlemen, is rock ‘n roll.
It's Easier Than 1, 2, 3
Much has happened since I last posted on the ABC theme. It’s busy, busy, busy here at BRP! It’s now time to pick up where I last left off. Let’s remember that we got through the letter O last time. Onward to P, Q and R. As always, 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.” Ready, steady, go.
P is for Prince. A very close call here with Parliament Funkadelic, but Prince has to be the epitome of the many great artists who share the letter P. Using P adjectives, Prince was prolific, profound, powerful, proud and never a prig or prude. He left a huge legacy, and his music transcended categories. Prince dipped into electronica, dance, rock, funk, world and virtually any other musical category as he pursued his art. Yes, some of his songs are overtly sexual, but so what? They still make you move your feet. Hits? You bet. A ton of them, and rightly so. I have a bias against music that is so blatantly commercial that it has no soul or heart. Prince was commercial, but only because his music was so great that radio couldn’t ignore him. A wonderful American talent, and one of the best musicians of the rock era.
Honorable mentions: Parliament Funkadelic – the mothership has landed! George Clinton is an American treasure. A great live act, grooves galore, and some of the best party music ever. Sure the lyrics are sometimes remarkably stupid. So what? My butt is moving and I’m having fun. Elvis Presley – the King. One of the main reasons that rock ‘n roll exists. And he also left us jokes galore! What a legacy. Pixies – commercial indie rock. Lots of indie bands hate the Pixies and I think it’s simple jealousy. Really good songs that challenge the norm. The Plimsouls – Peter Case made power pop that is still worth listening to. Pogues – jig and reel for the modern world. Too many songs glorifying alcohol, but a lot of cool stuff here. The Pretenders – one of the best new wave bands ever. Chrissie Hynde led a singles band par excellence with rocking guitar and sexy vocal delivery. Professor Longhair – if you like New Orleans R&B grooves, then class is in session. Passion Pit – I generally don’t go for bands that are too synth driven, but the Pit is an exception. Phoenix – best French band going. The Police – loved their early albums. Originators of the rock/reggae synthesis with huge commercial success. Michael Penn – Sean’s more talented brother, and that’s saying something. Phish – they inherited the lost souls and dirty hippie fleabag losers that followed the Dead for years. But they have some great songs. And even some that are incredibly weird but still challenging and worth it. Wilson Pickett – play it and I’ll hang out with you. Talented and praised for good reason. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Petty is one of the few old guys that still is creating good music. Not a great live act, but a deep catalog and you know the words to every song. Classic artist well deserving of all the accolades.
Newbies who are worth checking out: Protomartyr – I love this Detroit band. They don’t sound like many other acts out there, but their songs are complex and powerful. They need to develop their live act, but I’ll go to see that happen. Parquet Courts – modern indie heroes. Some great songs, some pap, but likely to be torch bearers for a new generation of rockers. It’s hard work to sound this slacker. Pulled Apart by Horses – watch this band.
Disrespect: Public Image Ltd. – John Lydon, nee Johnny Rotten, just couldn’t match what the Sex Pistols created. I like some of their songs, but they just don’t measure up. The Police – their later music was …. butt awful. King of Pain? Oh, so sorry for you Sting! Go stalk someone. Pearl Jam – they could have been so great. But then Eddie Vedder’s ego got involved. Pre-10, one of the most promising of grunge bands. Now, I just can’t take them. Seems like most of their former fan base feels the same way. Pink Floyd – some of the worst classic rock ever. Their albums come with an Imodium coupon for a reason. Pablo Cruise – At least Pink Floyd can take solace in the fact that they aren’t Pablo Cruise.
Q is for Queen. Now, there are some letters that lack a lot of bands/artists, and Q is one of them. But that does not mean that Queen is not worthy of acclaim. Freddie Mercury was arguably the best front man of his generation, including Mick Jagger, and his voice was fantastic. We all know the hits. Killer Queen. Another One Bites the Dust. And Bohemian Rhapsody. What a legacy.
Honorable Mentions: ? and the Mysterians. 96 Tears is one of my all-time favorite songs.
Newbies who are worth checking out: Queens of the Stone Age. Not exactly new, but still not well known. Hard rocking – you’ll like them, believe me.
R is for The Ramones. Nope, not the Stones. If you sit where I sit, the Ramones are just hugely influential and important for much of the music that I love. They were loud, fast, funny and smart with short songs that stripped away the bombastic claptrap of 1970s commercial rock. No long guitar solos or shrieks from the lead singer. No capes and synthesizers. No reliance on dry-ice smoke or laser lights. Driving drums and 3 chord rhythms. We’re a Happy Family. Pinhead. Blitzkrieg Bop. Sheena is a Punk Rocker. And of course, I Wanna Be Sedated. Gabba gabba hey!
Honorable Mentions: The Rolling Stones – yes, they’re probably overrated at this point. But if you never saw Jagger, you missed out. And the bad boys of the British Invasion left a huge legacy and deep catalog of great songs. I still love them. And I still listen to them. The Replacements – fantastic indie garage band, but responsible for the worst live show I ever saw. REM – No one sounded like these guys when they first came out – I was a huge fan. They faded off later, but were truly great and influenced a ton of bands. Red Hot Chili Peppers – I hate Flea, too, but it’s hard to dislike their combination of hard rock and funk. Rare Earth – Funky with a big horn section. Are you getting the feeling that I like funky with a big horn section? Even better live. The Rascals – you can call it sappy pop. And you would be right. But I love them nonetheless. Reverand Horton Heat – bar band wedded to rockabilly. Bring me that Texas sound, boys! Rockpile – a side project for Dave Edmunds and Nick Lowe, but what a side project. Teacher Teacher. Heart. Love it. Radiohead – I don’t love these guys like so many others do. But I get that they are different and influential. Good, but a tad overrated, IMO. Bonnie Raitt – again, not my favorite, but I admire what she does and her staying power. And she is powerful as a live act. Lou Reed – unlike Dylan, I still occasionally listen to Lou. Way ahead of his time with the Velvets. Deserving of the praise. Todd Rundgren – I Saw The Light is one of my favorite songs by Todd. Best thing out of Upper Darby ever. Rush – hard rocking classic rock. They were big when I was in high school. On my iPod, they remain big. Otis Redding – Just OMG. You would need an industrial scale to measure the weight of this massive talent. Smokey Robinson – what a name, and what a talent.
Newbies who are worth checking out: The Raconteurs – not that new, but not famous enough for BRP. Great name, btw. Royal Blood – if these guys keep up what they did with their first album, they will get a plaque in Cleveland someday. It doesn’t sound so great when I say it that way, does it? Royal Headache – I just stumbled upon this band. Good thing for me and now for you. The Revivalists – I don’t love every song, but these guys can be rollicking.
Disrespect: Rancid – you would think that I would love these guys. And I did like their first album. But they’ve put out about 8 albums and they all sound the same. No artistic growth = no respect. Reel Big Fish – yes, I like some of their music. But they have a shtick. It’s tiresome after 15 years. REO Speedwagon – remember these hacks? A terrible band that got a lot of radio airplay.
S is for Squeeze. There are many great acts that begin with S. Squeeze is one of my favorite bands ever. They write poppy songs that are electric enough for a high energy live show. Their lyrics reflect where they are in life – silly and youthful on some of their earliest albums, grown up and speaking to me as an adult later on. Two great vocalists. And even guys who left the band are great – Paul Carrack is groove approved and Jools Holland left and started the best rock TV show, Later … with Jools Holland. Always fun to see live (and I’ve seen them too many times to count), and they always give you your money’s worth. I listen to them all the time, and never get tired of them. An all-time underrated act.
Honorable Mentions: The Supremes – perhaps my favorite Motown act other than Marvin Gaye. Fantastic songs and Diana Ross’s voice is what I want to hear if I ever get to heaven. I hear you saying “fat chance” but a man’s reach shouldn’t exceed his grasp, right? Santana – decades of great music. Put on Abraxas or Moonflower and they still sound fresh. A true hall of fame band. Sex Pistols – hard to overstate their importance. A band designed to implode, but their impact on modern music is huge, from Johnny Rotten’s snarl to their defiance of all things sacred. I still listen to them. Shakira – a huge talent in a tiny package. Catchy tunes and watch her videos – best dancer since James Brown? The Smithereens – NJ power pop at its best, good live act, and a leader who ran for Congress. You can’t make this stuff up. The Smiths – If you simply read about the Smiths, you will hate them. But when you listen to them, their popularity becomes apparent. Super guitar, catchy tunes, and ridiculously self-centered angst-filled lyrics that all somehow work together. The Soft Boys – Underwater Moonlight is the best new wave album no one has ever heard. Big guitar sound. Robyn Hitchcock and Kimberly Rew just rocked it. Son Volt – Wilco is far better, but Jay Fehrer’s group stuck closer to the alt-country format of Uncle Tupelo and to good effect. Sonic Youth – too much feedback (I can’t believe I just wrote that) but just HUGE talent. Listen to Teen Age Riot and tell me that this band isn’t brilliant. I love SY. Southern Culture on the Skids – you want cheesy hillbilly rock? Of course you do, and this band delivers. Good live act, too. Spin Doctors – I love the song Two Princes. That’s enough. Steely Dan – one of my favorite bands, jazzy but rocking, too. They’re losing it as a live act, but Aja remains a classic album, and many of their songs have staying power. Stiff Little Fingers – best band out of Northern Ireland. Punky and pioneers of the rock/reggae intersection. The Strokes – seriously good indie rock. Please do a reunion tour. Sober. Sugar – Bob Mould leaves Husker Du and forms Sugar. College radio ready from the start, they rocked it hard. I adore them. Spoon – they keep putting out great albums. Who woulda thunk? Bruce Springsteen – has lost his voice, but still one of the best live acts ever. His early career was simply brilliant. And his early career covered about 7 albums. Sly and the Family Stone – oh, we miss this band so much! Britney Spears – overproduced voice, but some seriously catchy songs. And despite her redneck-y background, I still pull for her to get it together and find her way. Rod Stewart – amazing career, great live performer, some classic songs that still sound great. Time for beatification. Donna Summer – who knows why she redid Macarthur Park, a truly awful song, but her career is full of hits. And disco has held up better than a lot of other stuff. Hats off, Donna. Matthew Sweet – Girlfriend is a classic album. Sick of Myself is one of my all-time favorite rave-ups. He’s a BIG talent. Taylor Swift – perhaps she is lucky that I’m writing this in 2016 as her career seems headed in a bad direction, but her early work is simple, heartfelt and tuneful.
Newbies who are worth checking out: The Shins – lots of people love this band. Lots of people are right to do so. Shopping – miss the B-52s? Check out Shopping. Sleater-Kinney – ok, their vocals are hard to take. But underneath is a band worth listening to with driving guitars and hooks. Sleigh Bells – wow, what a unique sound. Catch ‘em if you can. Speedy Ortiz – I just discovered this band, and they keep creeping into my iPod “most played” list. Challenging music in the best way. Stereophonics – not new, but new to me. Not consistently good, but when they are on, they are compelling. The Struts – 4 great songs. Four seriously great songs. The Strypes – new 1960s sounding blues rock delivered with passion.
Disrespect: Sade – I never knew how to pronounce her name, but one of my friends told me it rhymes with “sucks.” Paul Simon – is it ok now to say that the Sounds of Silence is a terrible song? Yes, I like some of Simon’s work. But over the hill is, well, over the hill. The Smashing Pumpkins – It’s true: South Park’s Eric Cartman sings lead for SP. A band whose music hasn’t held up. Bombastic. Overproduced. Yuck. Patti Smith – I dig her in every way except as a rock musician. I never liked her as a rocker, and her best song was a Springsteen song. Soft Cell – Tainted Love was good when it came out, but I don’t think it’s held up too well. And that was the only reason to listen to these guys. Spandau Ballet – another synth band that is overrated. Not true that they also performed under the name Flock of Seagulls. The Spice Girls – I like a song or two, but Victoria Beckham has ruined this band for me. Sting – the world is not big enough for his ego. I move that he goes to Mars with Elon Musk. Do I hear a second? Thank you. Styx – I almost forgot about this band! And now I hate myself for remembering them. Listen to Babe and you, too, will hate me. Supertramp – Proving that the British Invasion was long over, many still question how these bozos got so popular. I defy you to listen to the Logical Song and provide a cogent explanation.
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.