Monday, April 15, 2024

St. Louis Bliss

 


20 years ago, I was on traveling the Midwest in a van with three other musicians. We were performing at four colleges in Chicago, Kentucky, Iowa and Missouri. The first show was in Springfield, MO 


Not a very memorable place, but I thought it was amusing that we went halfway across the country from one Springfield to another, and managed to drive through Springfield, Ohio in the proicess.


Also not very memorable.


On the other hand, we did manage to briefly stop in St. Louis just long enough to visit Gateway Arch National Park. That was pretty interesting, especially marveling at just how massive it is. I wanted to spend more time exploring the city, but we had to continue our drive to Springfield.


Standing on the banks of the Mississippi River, with the Gateway Arch behind me, I gazed up the Riverboat Casino Queen moored on the East St. Louis side. I was a fan of the Wilco song of the same title and wondered where it was located. Wonder no further.


Fast forward 20 years: My partner informed me that two of her friends are getting married in St. Louis, so now I had a chance to actually explore the city like I had hoped. Downtown has a poor reputation as far as safety, but what I've learned from visiting any city as an outsider is most every major downtown is fine during the day. If you are traveling at night on foot in a busy area you are generally fine, but be wary of your surroundings. The later in the evening, the more caution should be taken. 

and nothing good happens after 2AM.


As far as food... the Pizza in St. Louis looks a little gross. I tolerated Chicago deep dish when I was there on tour 20 years ago, but I had eaten at UNO's a handful of times, so it wasn't a shock to eat what I likened to a casserole. St. Louis Pizza is the opposite. They don't used yeast, so it's a cracker thin crust, the sauce is extra oregano sweet, and the cheese is a some weird processed stuff caled Provel. 

I'm not excited.


I'm all on board with the local BBQ however.













Sunday, April 14, 2024

Close to the Edge

 


We tried to make it up to Northern VT to catch the Total Eclipse, but traffic slowed us to the point where we had to pull over and see what is called a Deep Partial eclipse. Ryegate was only 20 miles away from our target of St. Johnsbury, and a lack of cel phone signal prevented me from finding a closer alternative. West Barnet was also 20 miles away, so it would be a partial eclipse either way. At least the skies were clear, and as we set up chairs we noticed it getting chilly, and the skies began darkening to the point of dusk.


My camera kept automatically lightening the picture, but it was much darker than it appears. 
The wind started picking up, and the skies around the sun and moon started looking very eerie and mysterious. A few minutes later it was over, and we attempted to beat the traffic coming back. That did not happen. All in all, it was a worthwhile adventure, and I love Vermont.

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Where The Streets Have One Name


Holyoke.




Been playing this event as a guest with Brass Attack of Springfield for 8 years now. We go back to when I was in Orange Crush, and occasionally the singer or guitarist in their band needed a replacement for a night. They're cool guys, and it was fairly easy for me to slot in now and then.



The crowds stretch for as long as the eye can see, and the weather was perfect on this day, so it really was a sight to behold from the stage. I sang a couple of songs by The Cars (great Boston band!) and the energy was sky high, with lots of it coming from the crowd to soak up. Thanks to the band for inviting me yet again, as they keep sounding better every time I see them at this event. 




Thursday, February 22, 2024

Flight of the Corvus

 I collect guitars. It's a well known fact. Below are two of them. 

(2002 Burns Bison & recent Squire 40th Anniversary Jazzmaster.)


I started playing as a teenager, with a borrowed Univox Hi Flyer my brother left behind. I graduated to a Gibson Les Paul JR, but needed something with a broader tonal range, so played an Ibanez Roadstar for a number of years, before graduating to the Fender Stratocaster. My love of Fenders took me to a budget 1982 Squire Telecaster, which I still own today. In the following years, I sold the Strats, and found a 1989 Gibson Flying Vee - Nothing really compares to that guitars' attitude, but I've owned a number of ones I have enjoyed playing onstage, at home or in the studio.

1980 Fender Lead 2


1980 Gibson Marauder




2002 Burns Steer & Steer Custom


2014 Epiphone Firebird LTD


2018 Fender Player Series Stratocaster (replacing the two I sold 20 years ago).


2011 Epiphone Junior (replacing the Gibson I sold in 2016).


I've sold some guitars over time, but I've bought more than I've gotten rid of, so on the same day that one sold (an electric acoustic I no longer used) something unusual and interesting arrived from Tulsa.


 another rare, oddball instrument from the 1980s


Enter The Corvus.


Introduced in 1982, and discontinued in 1983: The Gibson Corvus was supposed to resemble a bird n flight, but it looks more like a can opener, or a Pac Man. It was also supposed to be headless, to resemble a Steinberger, but that didn't happen. Was it too far ahead of its time... or a bad idea from the start? In either case, it didn't catch on with the market, and nobody thinks about them much. I find it very comfortable to play, and tote around, as the body on it is as small and light as any electric I've ever played. The pickup in it screams, and it looks like the perfect thing to break out during a show that makes people say, "What the hell is that?"











Saturday, February 17, 2024

I Shall Be Released

 A new year, A new recording session!


At home recording 11 songs from my past. The most recent years have been a blur to me, but looking back into my war chest of tunes, I was able to come up with a group of songs that somehow belong together. Ranging from Anthemic Rock to Alternative Country to Blues Retro Americana and Blues. All of it uptempo and fun. I wrote way too many sad songs, which I can use for some other project down the road.


In the basement, I have a small drum kit made up of various pieces from the early '70s and late '60s. The floor tom is a vintage Rogers, the Kick is a converted Floor tom made by Gambles (early Pearl/Tama) and the snare is a wonderfully trashy miscelaneous model made in Taiwan.


I've been fascinated with the drums since is was very young.


I ended up playing all of the intruments myself, but the vocals will have assistance by a few of my good friends, as I was told long ago by my friend and former producer David Lindley that layering your own voice on harmonies doesn't sound as good as having other complimentary voices. 
















Saturday, January 13, 2024

Walk The Walk



Last year, I made a New Year's resolution to do more exercise. I went for extended walks if the conditions allowed it. 


During the Pandemic, I was shut in and not doing much. As a result, I gained a few unwanted pounds. I walked most of it off. But Spring and Summer came, and it was either too buggy, too hot, or I was suffering from assorted seasonal allergies. I ended up almost back where I started.


But I kept at it from late Fall into the the year's end, and am doubling down on things for 2024.









 

Monday, January 8, 2024

Brand New Oldies

 


Celebrated a New Year at the Aqua Turf with my girlfriend, and had a wonderful time. Stayed overnight at a brand spanking newly remodeled Holiday Inn. New Years resolution of mine was to finish recording some original songs we wrote during the pandemic. I recorded the basics at home, but would prefer cutting the vocals in a more professional environment with another set of ears and more expensive recording gear.



Having bought a very sweet Jazzmaster a few months ago has further opened up my playing, and old songs sound new to me now. I have about 60 originals, including the 10 I'm looking to complete. I may re-record some of my other songs in the basement. I have the Saskatchewan/Stegner album, as well as my Alt-Country project, and some assorted Rock & Popo tunes I need to sort through and decide what fits and what sounds too dated (they all sound pretty damn old to me!)