Tuesday, March 18, 2014


On Friday night (March 14) I made the trek from Phoenix to the wild lands between Tucson and the Mexican border.

Okay, the location was really not so wild, but the town, Sahuarita, was in a pretty remote (25 miles or so south of Tucson) and beautiful desert setting, and the venue, the Good Shepherd church hall that functions as a coffee house stage once a month, was an unusual concert setting to see DavidBromberg play in.

It was all part of the first annual Common Ground On TheBorder event, a three day retreat featuring classes in art and music, as well as live performances. 

David Bromberg, who has been recording and performing for a career spanning six decades, was the featured act Friday night.

If you are not familiar with him, David has played with everyone and toured everywhere, whether rocking the house with a raucous big band or holding an audience silent hostage with solo acoustic blues. 

David's range of material, based in the folk and blues idioms, expanded to encompass bluegrass, ragtime, country and ethnic music, and his touring band grew by the mid-’70s to include horn-players, a violinist, and several multi-instrumentalists. 

After 1990, David took a hiatus from recording, learning the craft (art?) of violin making. He returned to the music scene with the release of his 2007 Grammy nominated album, and has released two more albums since then, most recently 2013's Only Slightly Mad.

Buy the CD:

 Buy the digital album:

There could not have been many more than 100 people there, and the other attendees all appeared to be from the retreat. 

I drove down from Phoenix, and the venue was south of Tucson, so it ended up being almost a three hour trip in rush hour traffic.

There was about an hour of “opening” acts who appeared to be attendees of this retreat, although the performers were from as far away as the UK. 

Having just made the drive down, I was in the lobby trying to stretch out my back, and saw David leaning against the door watching. 

I thought about approaching him, but he seemed to be watching so intently, I did not want to interfere with his enjoyment.

David's show was a real treat-I have seen him a few times with a small acoustic quartet and a handful of other times with a band of varying size, but this was a real intimate show with David performing solo, and for about three-quarters of the songs with a second performer, either a guitarist (I believe it was Mark Cosgrove from his touring band) or a cello (Michael Ronstadt-Linda’s nephew) as accompaniment.

The song selection featured the new album, with the hysteric and and bluesy “I’ll Take You Back,” the tender ballad “You’ve Got To Mean It, Too,” and the olde Enghlish drinking song "The Strongest Man Alive" giving the new material a nice show case. 

I can never tell the fiddle tunes apart, but he opened with one of them accompanied by the cello, and threw in another later  performed with two guitars.  He also did "Summer Wages" solo, and I know I am forgetting a couple of tunes.

He acknowledged being in a church and talked about studying under Reverend Gary Davis, and at one point played an old hymn, “A Closer Walk With Thee.” 

I only knew the title lyric, but the crowd knew all the words, and David encouraged them to sing it loud, and they did. At one point, he stopped playing, closed his eyes and listened, smiling. 

This was no act.

The look on his face was that of a man who truly loves music in all of its forms.

For the last song of the main set, he dug out “Sharon” (accompanied by Michael on cello) and the encore was “Mr. Bojangles” (solo) from the Jerry Jeff Walker album where David got his start.

After the show, David spent some time chatting with the fans and signed a couple of my CD's. I would have loved to engage him in conversation both about his days with Reverend Davis and his hiatus from music, but I am sure every other fan there would have loved to converse, so I thanked him for all the years of music he had given to me, and went outside for the long trip back north.

It was a long drive there and back, but a very different show than I have seen from him. I think it was well worth it.

Monday, March 17, 2014


Robin from Your Daily Dose posed these ten questions, and I promised to post my take on them. 

This is posting later than I planned...I promised the next day, but last week was kind of crazy and I had two posts scheduled at the end of the week. 

Happy Saint Patrick's Day! 

You can read this post between sips of Guinness and bites of corned beef and cabbage.

Have you ever met someone famous?

Quite a few, actually, depending on your definition of fame and your definition of meet.

I just went on a cruise where the band members were mingling and dining with us common folk. I met members of Spock's Beard, Transatlantic, Big Elf, and Marillion (to name a few).

I've met Todd Rundgren several times (is he famous?). 

At the Arizona Musical Instrument Museum, the artists usually come out for signings afterwards Some of those I've met are Todd Snider, Al Stewart, Maria Muldaur, Rickie Lee Jones and Booker T. Jones (although I don't think they are related). Ronnie Spector did not come out after the show...my heart is still broken. 

I've had the same experience at many other small venues (meeting the act after the show), so I have also briefly met The Dear Hunter, Pat Travers, David Bromberg, Jeff Healy, Buddy Guy, Tommy Castro, and others I am sure I am forgetting. No disrespect to the artists I am forgetting-I go to a lot of concerts and my memory is not what it used to be, and it never used to be much.

In 1988, I was on a plane going to LA and said "excuse me" to Axl Rose (I needed to get by him to get to the rest room) but did not know who he was (figured him for a rock star). 

In high school, a couple of us drove to a bar in Jersey where we'd been told Bruce Springsteen frequently appeared. He did. This was after Born To Run (before Darkness), so he should qualify as famous at that point.

But beyond a quick handshake...not really. 

And honestly, I don't go too far out of my way for that quick handshake meeting, especially if I do not have a CD or record to be signed. Again, no disrespect to any artist-my music collection is adequate demonstration of how I value your work, but I respect your privacy and know that you're probably tired of shaking strange hands.

There are a few celebrities that I'd love to be able to have a discussion with, but doubt I would ever get that chance.

What concert would you pay a "ridiculous" amount of money to see? The person or band can be dead or alive.

Well I have already paid ridiculous amounts to see Todd Rundgren ($225 in 2009) and Bruce Springsteen ($150 in 1988)…but I'd match the old Saturday Night Live offer from the mid-seventies and pay $3,000 to the Beatles for a living room concert in my house.

What personality trait do you like best about yourself?

What if I can't think of one?

If you could meet a character in a book, who would you choose?

Would I have to meet them in a book? 

There is only one book worth reading, and only one character worth meeting!

I'd have green eggs and ham with Sam-I-Am! 

(in a box with a fox).

If you won the lottery, how would you spend the money?

Oh sure, now I win it…after I already own all the CD's. 

I honestly do not know what I would do-the things I want in life cannot be purchased. 

I never play the lottery because I really have no interest in winning. Most people do not believe me when I say that, but those who know me know.

Do you believe that there is such a thing as "having it all"?

I do, but in my opinion it has nothing to do with money. 

I have been pretty blessed in this life. There are a couple of "things" that if I had, I feel like I would have it all (at least in this world). 

I'm working on them…the quest continues.

Have you ever had a paranormal experience of any kind?

No. I do not believe in such a thing. 

However, I am willing to concede that my skepticism may not make me open to such things.

What is the most important trait for a person to have in order to achieve success in their life? Job? Relationships? (It can be one trait that ties them all together or separate ones...)

I do not define success in the traditional sense. Money is not success. Money is a measure of wealth, which can come to you through your own efforts, through strokes of luck, or from your ancestors.

Happiness is success, but all too often that is as easy as making a choice to be happy.

Having your health is a good step towards success-hard to enjoy life if you are bed-ridden.

Having someone to share whatever you've got with is also success in my book. 

However, at fifty two and single, I would not pretend to know what trait helps one succeed in a relationship.

For my cat, sleeping in a beam of sunlight appears to be success. 

He certainly looks happy. 

Maybe success is learning to appreciate the little things and be happy with where you are right now. 

Good call, cat!

What is holding you back from achieving your dreams?

My own fears

What is your favorite time of day?

At my age, I don't quibble. I am acutely aware that I have more road behind me than ahead of me.

I'll take every Monday morning I can get. 

In Arizona, I love the mornings before the sun gets high-once it gets to noon, it feels hot even in the cooler months. 

But the sunsets are pretty spectacular, too. 

I'll go with mornings. Even on a work day, I take time to relax with a cup of coffee and enjoy the day. And it's almost always a beautiful day.

Saturday, March 15, 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 crashed their party featuring Todd Rundgren songs covered by other artists, and since that keg has been tapped, I am continuing with songs by other artists that Todd has covered.

A Wizard A True Star was Todd's progressive/psychedelic mash up released in 1973, with songs that segued into each other with humorous, often hallucinatory lyrics, but also featuring some covers of such fare as "Never Never Land" as well as a medley of R&B hits.

The medley included Smokey Robinson's "Ooh Baby Baby," but there was also a rarity floating around of that song all by its lonesome.

And today, I am playing it here for your consideration.



So what's it gonna be?

Thursday, March 13, 2014


This is a bit of an experiment. Rather than album reviews, I am presenting a playlist of music that you may not otherwise have heard to introduce the artists to a wider audience.

All three of these albums are solid albums, and I'd recommend them highly.

There are links below each video clip that will take you to Amazon if you are interested in purchasing them.

Spock's Beard are a progressive rock band formed in 1992 in Los Angeles by brothers Neal (keyboards, lead vocals) and Alan Morse (guitars, backing vocals).

The pair teamed with fellow musicians Nick D'Virgilio (drums) and Dave Meros (bass) and released their debut album, The Light, in 1995. The quartet were later joined by veteran keyboardist Ryo Okumoto. Neal Morse departed in 2002, although the band continues to tour and record (currently fronted by singer Ted Leonard, with Jimmy Keegan replacing the departed Nick D’Virgilio on drums).

The song is from their fifth album, V, and demonstrates the band’s adept mixing of pop, metal and progressive elements in one of their trademark epics. This is one of my favorite albums.


I was introduced to the band with their fourth album, and could hear spirituality in the lyrics, especially evident (I believe) on this song. 

I love the imagery of the line "at the end of the day, you'll be lying in a suit of gray." 

I found it interesting when Neal Morse left the band to pursue a solo career in Christian music, as I thought there was plenty of divine inspiration shining through the typical Beard lyric...but it did end up making a lot more great prog music available to me. 

Musically, Neal's solo efforts are solid progressive rock efforts, and lyrically, I feel he gives a far better spin (much more personal and introspective) than the typical Christian song, which often sounds to me like a church hymn. Nothing wrong with that, mind you, but not necessarily what I want to listen to on the morning commute.

Here is the title track from Neal's latest studio album.


In 1999, Neal teamed up with Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater, Roine Stolt of The Flower Kings, and Pete Trewevas of Marillion, to form the progressive 'supergroup' Transatlantic. They released two albums, but seemed to be defunct after Neal went solo.

To my delight, they returned in 2009 with their third album, The Whirlwind, which is another one of my favorite albums. 2014 saw the release of Kaliedoscope, another solid effort, and I am hoping for a live album and DVD (which has been their pattern to date).

I am presenting an excerpt from the live document of the Whirlwind tour to give you an idea of what this sounds like-the full studio album is the next clip, but be warned-it's the full eighty minute epic!



That's it for today...but this barely scratches the surface of the progressive music that is being released today.

I am curious how many people had the stamina to listen to the songs in their entirety?

Monday, March 10, 2014



I was introduced to Salem Hill by a couple of people I met on the “Progressive Nation At Sea” cruise, and found this album, “Be” the weekend I got back to Airheadzona (gotta love Zia Records!).

Formed in 1991, this is the band’s sixth album. My first taste of Salem Hill lived up to the recommendation, an engaging mixture of Beatlesque harmonies, eighties-style rock and a lot of very decent heavier prog/rock numbers. 

Influences from Pink Floyd and Gentle Giant pop up here and there along with some parallels to Kansas, though never blatantly derivative-more influence than emulation.

The musicianship is top-notch, and the songwriting excellent-there are some real jewels here. 

Clocking in at over seventy minutes, there is surprisingly little filler on the dis.

Described as break away from their recent discs (more in the style of ‘Catatonia,’ which I am still looking for) with better production and stronger, more mature lyrics, this is a must have for prog fans.

Saturday, March 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 stowed away on their cruise featuring Todd Rundgren songs covered by other artists, and since that well has run dry, I am continuing with songs by other artists that Todd has covered.

On his 1989 masterpiece Nearly Human, Todd Rundgren included one cover, Elvis Costello's "Two Little Hitlers."

I never thought the song fit with the rest of the album, but will leave it up to you readers to judge the merits of his version.

First, Elvis' original.....


and now Todd's cover...


What'cha think?