Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Part of the reason I took a break from blogging was that I had a second cruise smack dab in the middle of April that was going to make the month too hectic for the A to Z event (and I really was feeling stale with the reviews).

Cruise To The Edge was a lot of fun, although not as well executed as the prior cruise, which was a bit surprising considering it was in its second year.

The ship was bigger, and there were probably twice as many passengers.

For the environment, the ship was pretty similar, although I thought Norwegian beat MSC for customer service. 

The staff were friendlier, the buffet time restricted with a far limited selection, and the ship's communication was horrible.

Norwegian posted scheduling changes by the elevator banks, and MSC expected you to go to the sixth floor concierge to ask about them. They had an electronic schedule that was in all elevators and all over the decks, but I guess the technology to update a calendar on a computer has not been invented in Italy yet.

I am even less impressed with the Cruise To The Edge team (who also run Monsters of Rock and The Moody Blues cruises).

The organization of the concerts was awful. And that is being nice. 

Most of them started late (I do not remember that being an issue at Progressive Nation At Sea), a few more than an hour late.

The headliners (Yes, Marillion, Hackett, UK) were in a theater similar to the one on the Pearl, but you were given a color-coded lanyard (blue or pink) and could only go to the show of your color. 

Now with twice as many attendees, maybe this was necessary, but it would have been nice to know before shelling out the cash thinking you'd see each band twice. It also would have been nice if they made sure that non-headlining bands had at least one show that did not conflict with each color-coded group. Heck, it would have been nice if they'd mailed out the band schedule before Saturday noon.

You also were assigned a seat, with the VIP cabins getting the first ten rows, and the rest of us peasants being assigned seats in the order booked. 

And yet, during the shows, there were empty seats all over!  For the last two nights they started letting people take the empty seats, with the VIP's getting first dibs. 

Being a VIP was a big deal on this ship-they had a couple of private concerts, a private restaurant, prioriy seating....they paid twice as much but their butts got well-kissed.

There were several scheduling conflicts attributable to this process.If you had a pink lanyard (I did), IOEarth was scheduled to play at the same times as the Yes and Hackett shows, so you basically could not see them unless you bailed on one of those. Needless to say, I missed IOEarth, and was very disappointed.

We got rain on Tuesday. Presto Ballet was scheduled for a 12 noon start, and the staff ordered the crowd to clear the pool deck at 12:30. 

I went back to my room, and when I got to the Renaissance show at 2pm, was told that Presto Ballet had played at 1:30.

No communication of the change.

Same thing happened that night-Queensryche went on at 8:25 (for their 8pm show) although we were told all pool shows were cancelled. I caught it because I'd eaten dinner late.

Because of the Presto Ballet schedule change, I would have had to skip UK to see their other performance. I ended up leaving UK after 45 minutes to catch the last 45 minutes of PB.

I was lucky enough to see Moon Safari's first show (because of all of the schedule changes), but wanted to see the "blue" Marillion performance and skipped Moon Safari's second show. 


Marillion started over an hour late, so I probably could have seen most of the second Moon Safari performance.

I did not mind that the weather caused schedule changes, but I was pissed that the schedule had conflicts because of the blue/pink groups-I was able to see everyone at least once on PNAS.

The bands were great. I could have passed on Yes, having seen the show last summer (and already having a ticket to a show in August), Hackett was remarkable, Moon Safari...WOW.

Moon Safari

UK was just so-so....as much as I love Wetton's voice, Jobson kept talking about "the history of the band," and let's face it-it was a side project four decades ago. 

That's what swayed me to leave UK early to catch Presto Ballet-they are a band with a history and a future.

Presto Ballet

Saw both Queensryche shows-not bad, but would have rather seen them playing "Mindcrime" with Geoff Tate fronting. Saw both Renaissance shows, and that was a neat trick. Caught a few minutes of Stick Men on my way to something...unusual live performance. 

Patrick Moraz was also one who started an hour late so I left his show as he started to catch Three Friends. Their show was in an odd-shaped lounge, and was so crowded I could not see them, but they sounded great.

I was able to see all or part of 21 concerts-fewer than on PNAS although the cruise was one day longer. I could have seen more had it not been for the lousy administration of the event.

Don't get me wrong-I had a good time and I am glad I went. But the Progressive Nation cruise set a high water mark (pun intended) that Cruise To The Edge did not come close to.

Going on a cruise is a luxury, going on two was a one-time event.

Highlights-Marillion, Moon Safari and Hacket (that order).

Lowlights-the poor execution by the Cruise To The Edge people.

Chances I'd pick one of the three cruises this management team puts on for a vacation next year?

Slim to none.

Remember when I said I'd be taking April off from posting?

I lied!

Saturday, April 19, 2014


Or, "How The Major Record Labels
Convinced Me To Stop Collecting Vinyl"

Another Record Store Day has come and gone, and once again the record labels, who whine that people do not pay money for music, have shot themselves in the foot.

If I posted about this last year, I apologize for repeating myself. But I hope against hope that a record label employee might read these words and convince their employer to wise up.

You see, I went to my local Zia Records with a wish list of twenty of the "Record Store Day exclusives, half vinyl and half CD.

The top three on my list were vinyl releases from Drive By Truckers, Bruce Springsteen and Wesley Stace (he started his recording career as John Wesley Harding but most people have never heard of him, either).

Now I did get to Zia more than a half hour after the doors opened, so I am certainly culpable in the fact that I did not find those three titles.

But you know what really pisses me off?

Zia got the following stock of those titles:

Drive-By Truckers-(1)
Bruce Springsteen-(2)
Wesley Stace-(0)

Come on-I get that you want to make things collectible...but ONE copy to a store that had 100 people in line when they opened their doors?

Is it Record Store DAY or Record Store MINUTE?

I'd had a couple of the vinyl 45's and five of the CD's in my hands, but when I saw the line at the register, I decided that the crumbs the record labels had left me were not worth the wait.

So I left without buying anything.

I tried two other stores (Revolver Records and Stinkweeds), with the same result, and spent the same amount of money.

In fact, I cost Stinkweeds money-they were having people wait in line to keep the store from becoming too crowded, and they gave me a bottle of spring water.

I felt bad not spending any money, but this happens each year. I get that the labels want to issue vinyl collectibles, but either print a few more or print up some frigging CD's.

Instead, what do they force everyone at that Zia but the ONE GUY who got the Drive-By Truckers EP to do?

Yep! Download the music from a file sharing site.

Probably not the point of Record Store Day (or it's Black Friday counterpart).

I do not blame the stores, and I hope the additional traffic helps them, but for the most part, the vinyl I buy sits upstairs on a shelving unit with a couple thousand other vinyl records collecting dust.

I started intentionally going late to the stores last year because of the behavior of the people scrambling for these titles.

My theory-I will live without more vinyl that I rarely play collecting dust waiting for me to kick the bucket so my nieces and nephews can figure out what the heck do with all this stuff.

Again, probably not the intent of Record Store Day.

I started this site because I thought people should continue to buy music in physical form...and yet I find myself forced to download music because the labels refuse to make it available to me.

Go figure.

And it struck me as I was driving home....I'd been to three stores. covered forty or so miles and did not buy anything.

The record stores did not profit from me.

The record labels did not profit from me.

But Exxon is laughing all the way to the bank! 

Sunday, April 13, 2014


Jesse Winchester, a U.S.-born singer-songwriter, died of cancer on Friday. He was 69.

Winchester was born in Louisiana and raised around the U.S. South, but he didn't begin his music career in earnest until moving to Quebec in 1967. There, he began performing solo in coffee houses around Montreal and the Canadian East Coast.

Winchester was a protege of the Band's Robbie Robertson, who produced and played guitar on Winchester's self-titled debut album and brought Band-mate Levon Helm along to play drums and mandolin.

Winchester's second album, 1972's "Third Down, 110 to Go" featured tracks produced by Todd Rundgren.

He continued to release material at a steady clip until 1981's "Talk Memphis," after which he took a seven-year break from recording. That album, however, contained Winchester's biggest U.S. hit, "Say What."

Although large-scale mainstream success eluded Winchester, his songs were covered by an array of musicians including Elvis Costello, Anne Murray, Wynona Judd, Emmylou Harris, the Everly Brothers, Jimmy Buffett and Joan Baez.

Thursday, April 3, 2014


Okay, one last post and then the sabbatical starts!

I am on an e-mail discussion list for Todd Rundgren (big surprise there), and the threads over the past year have been more often than not not related to the man or his music.

There was a lot of recent traffic from two sets of parents who lost children.

I have never been a parent, nor am I likely to be at my age, but the thread reminded me that my parents did lose a child, and I lost a sister.

Death sucks. 

Death at age 34 is just WRONG.

I watched my mother go through losing her youngest child, and it is not something I would wish on anyone.

So I feel for those parents. And I wish I could tell them that the loss goes away, but I am not sure it does.

Although it does get easier to live with.

MaryAnne Cavanaugh was more than my kid sister, she was my closest friend. 

And you have to take "kid sister" with a grain of salt, because as adults, I leaned on her for advice and counsel far more than she ever sought me out.

MaryAnne died at age 34 from melanoma, and I still think of her quite often and miss her.

Today would have been her 50th birthday, and I thought that was worth mentioning.

Or at least it was to me.

I turned off the comment feature today. If you're reading this and Mare was a friend of yours, I hope you think of her often as well.

There is a story to this song that relates to my sister that I've already told on another post here.

I thought the song was a good way to close this remembrance of things past.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


The bloggers below are co-sponsoring a "Battle of the Bands" blog event on the first and fifteenth of each month. 

Robin (Your Daily Dose) 

I hitched a ride on their bumper featuring Todd Rundgren songs covered by other artists, and having exhausted them, I am continuing with songs by other artists that Todd has covered.

In 2011, Todd Rundgren released an album of covers of Robert Johnson tunes (or as he put it, an album of covers of British guitarists from the 60's covering Robert Johnson).

The songs had a heavy rock guitar arrangement (with bass and drums), where Johnson's originals were acoustic affairs performed solo and recorded in a hotel room.

I could not find a Todd clip for my favorite of the bunch (Dust My Broom), so here is the one I was able to find, along with the RJ original.



Which one do you like better?

This will be my last BOTB post (out of Todd material), as well as my last post for a while (at least for the month of April, since I am not participating in the A to Z endeavor).

I will try to visit as many A to Z posts as possible, and, of course, the BOTB posts while I am on sabbatical.