Monday, March 30, 2015

IN THE VAULT 03/30/2015

From bubblegum to collection goes all over the map (although before Stephen T. McCarthy's influence I think I only owned four jazz titles that were not releases by my uncles).

Not that my jazz selection is massive, but it has certainly grown.

I was familiar with Jeff Golub's work through a couple of his blues releases, and came across this title shortly after he passed away on New Year's Day.

You may even recognize this song, since it's a cover of a popular seventies tune...

McCarthy did a post a little while back that highlighted the different genres of jazz for people whose knee-jerk response is "I don't like jazz."

I used to be one of those people-while my uncles were pretty highly respected in jazz circles, I did not care much for their music (at least the titles I owned). 

However, Golub's funky style works for me.

R.I.P. Jeff!

Monday, March 23, 2015

IN THE VAULT 03/23/2015

Moon Safari was one of the bands I discovered on last year's Cruise To The Edge, and as a guy who leans towards vocals, their harmonies were quite a treat. 

Progressive music with layered vocals a la Brian Wilson or Todd Rundgren. 

I saw both their shows on the cruise and might have ventured to their Mexico show had I known about it with enough lead time...a truly great band who pulls off live what they create in the studio.

They are also on deck (get it?) for this year's incarnation of the cruise.

Their third album, Lover's End, is this week's vault addition. 

The Vault includes the Lover's End Part 3 EP so you can listen to the whole saga.

Here is Lover's End Part 1 to whet your appetite...

Saturday, March 21, 2015


After years of complaining that I do not get my money's worth out of cable, I went cold turkey today and shut it off.

I used to get HBO, and ten years ago realized that the $80 I was paying for cable TV was more than 1/3 for HBO (counting the digital box rental, the movie 'tier' and the HBO fee.

So I cut back to basic and expanded, then a cost of $45 a month-still high, but I do watch ESPN in the mornings (Mike & Mike) and for Monday Night Football.

For the most part, however, the set is off, and when it is on, I am mostly streaming via Amazon Prime or watching a DVD.

And the bill climbed steadily, until with this month's bill, I realized that with tax, the bill was back to the $80 mark.

Enough is enough.

I bought a six dollar digital antenna, hooked it up in five minutes, and got the networks and a few surprises (ION TV, who shows Cold Case, a show I do often turn the box on for).

When football season starts up, Sling TV offers a streaming service that I can run through the TV that includes ESPN and about twenty other channels for $20 per month. They even offer a movie package for $5.

Now for my main TV, I will need a converter, and missed getting the free ones courtesy of Barack O, so that will cost me about $40. and I'll need a second antenna for that TV. 

But basically, for a one-time $50 investment in equipment (two antennae and a converter), I am going to save $80 a month (almost $1,000 a year). 

Even if I purchase the streaming service with the movie package, it's still saving me more than $50 a month.

Considering I watch maybe five hours a week,  I was paying $18.50 per hour watched. 

With the antenna, it's free. 

Considering what is mostly on TV, it's worth about that.

Now I am still paying $65 a month for internet service, but I use that. I'd consider scaling back if the cost creeps up (the Cox site actually suggests I am paying for a higher level of service than I need) but between uploading music to my cloud space (I have a huge collection-it's been a two year process and will probably continue for another couple of years), streaming music and video, and the time I spend online, I feel like I am getting my money's worth.

I often post about what technology takes away from us-but the internet has enabled me to opt out of two of the handful of regulated monopolies we're all stuck with (bye bye phone and cable, still stuck with water, electricity and the postal service).

Do you feel like you get your money's worth from cable? Ever think of turning it off?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


A few notable names in the rock world have passed this week, all of them sadly all too young.

First,  Mike Porcaro bass player from Toto, passed on March 15 at age 59. Few people reading this will not own a recording with Mike on it-here is his resume-and his work with Toto is enough to forever keep him riding the classic rock airwaves.

Next, original Molly Hatchet drummer Bruce Crump died on March 16 at age 57. I loved that first Hatchet album when it came out (Gator Country!), and Bruce's playing was part of the soundtrack of my high school years.

And finally, former Free bassist Andy Fraser left this world on March 17 at age 62. The band was best known for their hit "All Right Now," and vocalist Paul Rodgers and guitarist Paul Kossoff were the marquee members, but Fraser's bass held it all together. He started his career at age 15 in John Mayall's blues band, but started Free before turning 17.  I would find it a shock if anyone reading does not recognize that song.

Rest in peace, gentlemen. Your musical legacies will endure!

Monday, March 16, 2015

IN THE VAULT 03/16/2015

This week's featured artist is a request from my nephew.

I saw Morphine while working in Nashville back in the mid nineties as park of the city's summer concert on the riverfront series. One of the benefits of my eleven years as an auditor...some pretty cool travel. 

I had never heard of the band before, but was drawn to their unique sound, and began collecting their music.

Sadly, frontman Mark Sandman would die of a heart attck a few years later at the far-too-young age of 46.

Let me know what you think of this...

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


I wanted to share another Al Stewart related memory of mine.

I'd forgotten this, but he played this song last week and it brought back the memory of this day.

Back in the mid 90's, I lived in Connecticut.

Not my favorite place to live, but when my brother got relocated there (the same brother who introduced me to Al's music, coincidentally), it was a little more bearable, as I got to spend time with his family, including his infant daughter.

During that time, Al released his thirteenth studio album, Between The Wars, a mostly acoustic effort with songs focused on the period from 1918 to 1939. As with many of his post-seventies records, the critics loved it, and I was the only one who bought it.

Anyway, shortly after the album came out, my brother, young niece (maybe a year and a half old) and I were driving in the car (I think on a visit to Philadelphia) and my niece would not stop crying.

And this little girl had some pipes!

Well I had the new Al album in the CD player, and this song came on:

After a minute, my brother whispered "look," nodding at the back seat just as I realized the crying had stopped. My niece was smiling and bopping her head in time to the music.

It actually works-the swing beat captures kids' attention and his voice is kind of soothing.

I wonder how many other parents were lucky enough to have this album when their young ones were at that age where they struggled to be understood and the frustration came out in tears.

I wonder if my niece ever hears Al Stewart on the radio, finds herself liking his voice, and wonders why.

I wonder if my brother remembers this day.

All you parents of young kids, go get a copy of Between The Wars (or look for it on some of his "hits" compilations-I know it's on On The Border and the two-disc Definitive Collection).

It's a great album and it'll help with those crying kids!

Monday, March 9, 2015

IN THE VAULT 03/09/2015

It should come as no surprise that this week's album is Al Stewart's Modern Times.

The second side of the album was a mini-suite, with Apple Cider Re-Constitution and the title track bookending The Dark And The Rolling Sea, where Al takes a love story and weaves it into a tale of a mutiny on a seagoing vessel.

I love the imagery in these lyrics.

Saturday, March 7, 2015


Although I would be okay if he skipped the hits in favor of the rarities, there are two songs Al pretty much has to play. One is "Year Of The Cat."

On Tuesday night, when Al played the other, "Time Passages," he remarked that he was surprised that song caught on.

I remember buying that album the day it was released, dropping the needle, and hearing the song, and thinking...."HIT."

Let me refresh your memory.

The song has it all-great arrangement and production by Alan Parsons, Similar to YOTC, it features solos on acoustic guitar, electric guitar and saxophone. Al's voice suits the arrangement perfectly, and that last line of the chorus is killer.

Buy me a ticket on the last train home tonight

I understand why it caught on. 

Time Passages was the perfect FM radio song in 1978, and it still holds up today.

The picture is changing now, you're part of a crowd
You're laughing at something and the music's loud
A girl comes towards you, you once used to know
You reach out you hand but you're all alone
In those time passages

Thursday, March 5, 2015


Al Stewart played the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix this past Tuesday and Wednesday, and I splurged for both nights.

He'd played a two night stand a couple of years ago, and I went to both nights then as well.  I've always loved Al's music and try to see him whenever I can.  

I was introduced to Al by my older brother, who played the Modern Times album a lot (even though I think the album actually belonged to our oldest brother-moot point since it's sitting up on one of my shelves as I type this).

I did not see Al live until the Time Passages tour, have seen him probably a dozen times since, and had never heard "Apple Cider Reconstitution" (from Modern Times) played live.

I called out for it once at the Chestnut Cabaret in Philly, and a drunk guy heard me and started yelling "apple sauce," and needless to say, it was not played.

So I called out for it at the MIM. 

At both shows in 2013. 

And Al did not play it.

After the second 2013 show, I asked Al to sign a poster "No apple cider for you."

He said he would not do that, and that he'd play the song next time he saw me.

So last Tuesday night I called for it, and he did not play it (he rarely does). After the show, I had a few CD booklets to get signed, and mentioned his "promise" from 2013 and that I'd be there the next day, and he told me to remind him (call out for it).

Which I did after the first song.

Tuning the guitar for the song was tricky, as Al had not played it for some time, but Dave Nachmanoff (an Al fan as a youth who has played alongside him for more than a decade) remembered the song and reminded him. 

They both made a lot of jokes at my expense, and thankfully the audience did not seem to mind the delay in the performance while they worked it out (a few people thanked me for requesting it at the intermission).

In case you have not guessed, he played it.

And I loved it. Although it would be nice to see Al play with a full band again, Dave is a great player, and brings a lot of life to the acoustic shows.

Al is a well-read history buff, a great storyteller, funny, a great performer, and seems to still love to perform live.

Dave, who also does solo shows, played a few songs to open each show. 

Thank you, Al and Dave-hearing that song live after forty years was a treat.

To quote one of Dave's songs, I am grateful!

Here's the album version of the song...

And here are Al and Dave playing it live a couple of years ago...similar arrangement to what they played Wednesday night...

Monday, March 2, 2015

IN THE VAULT 03/02/2015

This was the album that started it all for me...had to save up my 0.25 allowance for a few months to buy it...and it still holds up for me today.

While this was the pop hit....

I think this one, sung by an eleven-year-old Michael, showed you a glimpse of the superstar he would become.