august 25, 2018

posted in: music, photography | 0

“Make a list of things that make you happy.
Make a list of things you do every day.
Compare the lists.
Adjust accordingly.”
~ Unknown

 

closing the night

 

I got home so late last night that I just didn’t have the energy to talk about the incredible evening I’d had. I posted my brief photo of Marlon Hurst at his stereo and a couple of folks speculated that I had been at rehearsal. That wasn’t true, but as you can see, there was much music and merry making involved just the same. A few weeks ago, Marlon asked a few of us if we’d be interested in listening to music, specifically music on vinyl LP. Naturally, we all said yes. Last night we did just that. I had not seen Marlon and Kathy’s new home, so I got the ten cent tour prior to a perfect pita pizza dinner. It set the tone for an evening of artistry and appreciation. 

 

the warm up

 

Marlon explained how he and his brother David used to sit and listen to records; really listen, without talking, to absorb the nuanced sounds and the art of compiling album sides. In our hurried digital world, (adulting forces us into some level of this) we don’t take/have the time to listen or perhaps appreciate what we hear. And with CDs and singles being all the rage now, the art of the album is all but lost except to those of us of a certain age or true audiophiles. This was our chance to revisit an act that we had all once embraced. An act that, for each of us, had became a life altering experience. I knew it was going to be a great night the second I walked in and David was playing Joan Osborne and Trigger Hippy, a band I’d never heard of. It set off a discussion about performers we’d seen before they hit it big, not coincidentally, like the time Michelle Shute and I saw Joan Osborne at Phoenix Hill Tavern in Louisville just before Relish hit the airwaves. She wasn’t even on the big stage at Phoenix Hill. She was on the small stage upstairs usually reserved for local bands, which wasn’t weird at the time considering she’s from just down the road in Anchorage, KY. I also don’t think it was coincidence that the last time I remember a deep music listening thing like last night was with Michelle Shute. She and I used to spend hours listening to music, and she’s been extremely influential in expanding my musical palette over the last 30 years. Anyway, if the rest of the evening had been a disaster, it would have been totally worth it just to get turned on to Trigger Hippy. 

 

the big reveal

 

However, the evening was anything but a disaster. We sat with full bellies in comfortable silence before the killer Marantz stereo that instantly transported me back to Johnny Barker’s room a la 1980 where we listened endlessly to music through a similar set-up. What a great memory. For this night, we had each been tasked to choose one album side to share, and prior to its playing, we said why we chose it. We drew numbers to determine the night’s rotation. Stacy Yelton was supposed to be with us, but she fell ill (likely the same bug I’d had earlier in the week). Still, she sent along her album choice, and as fate would have it, she was #1. She may have also won the night with her selection of Pete Townsend and Ronnie Lane’s Rough Mix. Her original 1977 pressing was pristine, of course, and it was a recording that I don’t think any of us knew about, even David, a long-time Who fan. The music had only the faintest hint of The Who sensibilities but you could clearly hear the coming Townsend solo a la White City choreography. It was a brilliant first selection. David’s choice of Radiohead’s OK Computer followed. Its 180g soundscape expanded our senses with a compressed cacophony of flavors. I drew number three and my selection was 1983’s Synchronicity by The Police. It was this recoding that won me over as a devoted fan. They were at the peak of their craft as a band; their furiously fast paced sloppiness corralled into a masterpiece. Next up was Kathy. She went with Gregory Porter’s Liquid Spirit, which drew a gasp from me because, 1: I adore him, and 2: Marlon and Kathy had actually turned me on to him last year. Again, me thinks no coincidence. If you don’t appreciate just how good Porter and his band are, sit between the speakers, close your eyes, and just listen. You’ll come to understand his beauty before the first cut has ended. Andrew Perkins drew hurrahs from all of us when he revealed his fifth place selection; Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Apparently lifted from his mother’s broad collection, the LP was still wrapped in its original plastic sheath replete with $7.99 Walmart price tag and “Grammy Nominated” sticker. In case you don’t understand the significance of that, Thriller went on to win 8 Grammy’s and sell 60+ million worldwide. As Andrew said, “It’s the biggest selling greatest hits album that isn’t a greatest hits album.” We really came full circle with Marlon’s choice of Jefferson Airplane’s reissued mono recording of Surrealistic Pillow. Though I’d heard White Rabbit many, many times before, I’d never heard it in its intended state or in context of its album side. I came away with a whole new appreciate for Jefferson Airplane. You can’t imagine how good this record sounds for a 1967 release. It had no problem standing its ground beside the other, more modern selections. Interesting that Airplane’s Grace Slick was the only female representation of the evening. I don’t think that means anything except that we all noticed. That in itself is just another reason why I love my people. They pay attention.

 

my people

 

Thank you, Marlon, for suggesting we slow down long enough to appreciate the music we love. Thank you and Kathy for opening your home and making me feel welcome. Thank you Andrew, David, Kathy, Marlon, and Melissa (David’s wife and late-comer to the party) for the songs and music and camaraderie. You are my people and I love every one of you from the bottom of my heart. Thanks for including me in your journey. If you’re reading this and you used to sit in your room with friends and listen to music for hours on end, I highly recommend you call those friends, invite them over, turn off the TV and computer, and turn on the stereo and just listen. It’s better than any drug you’ll ever swallow. Promise.

august 24, 2018

posted in: music, photography | 0

“Don’t worry. Be happy.” ~ Bobby McFerrin

 

DJ

 

I’m too tired to go into what an incredible evening I’ve had. I’ll save it for tomorrow. For now, let this photo tease you a bit. It involves the Brothers Hurst, a lot of music, a lot of laughter, and more love than words  can express. Squeeeeeeee.

august 16, 2018

posted in: music, photography | 0

“We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

 

got the trots?

 

There was no way it wasn’t going to rain last Saturday before the weenie dog races, but we had time to watch the warm ups and the lightning. It was interesting that they warmed up going the opposite direction of the race. But, ya know, everything else about harness racing was new to me, so why not? <snort> Changing gears, a note on Aretha Franklin’s passing today. If God had a voice on this earth, it rang out through Aretha’s songs. What a glorious gift she shared with the world. I was so lucky to live during the era of great music and she was leading the pack. Interesting that she and Elvis both died on the 16th of August. And Madonna turned 60 today. I now feel sufficiently aged, but boy, have I been lucky to be on this planet at the same time as these three and so many other pivotal artists. 

 

gathering storm

august 12, 2018

posted in: music, photography | 0

“Spread love everywhere you go: first of all in your own house…Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting.” ~ Mother Teresa

 

guitar men

 

I’ve known Fred Sexton (seated) and Neil Sturgill for more than 20 years. We’ve played some good music over that time, and now we get to do it again. Our rehearsals have been sporadic, but every time we’ve managed to make it happen I’ve been tickled to be with them more than they’ll ever really know. I look forward to our Sunday rehearsals at Jeff’s (Yurkoski at the keys) even when we can’t all be there (not pictured are Pat and Travis…because they weren’t there). Their good humor and patient musicianship are like a balm to my soul. And some of the twangy, bluesy mad riffs they play just makes me smile way down deep like nothing else can. They couldn’t have walked into my life at a better time, and thanks to Jeff, I’ve got a kit ready for playing. I just have to walk in. How did I get so lucky?

 

3/5 a band

june 24, 2018

posted in: music, photography | 2

“When you forgive, you in no way change the past – but you sure do change the future.” ~ Bernard Meltzer

 

new friends

 

Judy Sackett had seen Willie Nelson when he was a youthful 69. She enjoyed him back then, and loved the idea of seeing him again. So, off we went to the Outlaw Music Festival. Judy is a blast to travel with. She enjoys people. She enjoys food. She enjoys learning new things and going new places. I don’t think she’s ever met a stranger. We hadn’t been in our seats long before this couple made friends with us. We didn’t get their names, but I sure wish we had because they were awesome. He was especially fun, as you can see. The couple in front of us were nice, too. The young man especially. In fact, he took up with Judy, hanging on to her later in the evening when the whiskey kicked in and everything began to spin. Once, when I returned from the ladies’ room, Judy had another man chatting her up. I don’t know where he came from, but he wasn’t sitting near us. I had no idea she was such a dude magnet! I told ya, she’s a hoot to travel with. I’m glad we made some fun memories and met some great people along the way. If anybody down London (KY) way recognizes this couple behind us, tell ’em we said howdy.

june 23, 2018

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“Think kindly, act compassionately and do something for another living being for which you can be proud.” ~ Pamela Jumper Thurman

 

look, over there

 

I promised more on yesterday’s Outlaw Music Festival at Riverbend, so here we go.

 

the band

 

I’d never seen Old Crow Medicine Show before, and let me just say that I hope I haven’t seen the last. This band is everything that’s great about music. They opened the festival, and frankly, they didn’t play nearly long enough. These guys are toe-tappin’, fun lovin’, high-energy Americana-bluegrass-country-swingin’ righteous musicians start to finish. Bruce McCain turned me on to them many, many years ago when he sang Wagon Wheel at Angie Bliss Fanning’s ranch, but for whatever reason, they kept flying under my radar. Not no more! These guys switched instruments as much as Lady Gaga switches outfits, and they played every one of them like masters. They’re great with an audience, they’re great with each other, and they ought to be a lot bigger than they are. I absolutely loved them. 

 

Simpson quintet

 

The Head and The Heart played next. They had lots of fans at the festival, and I was glad for that, but they were not my cup of tea. I’m sure their records are lovely, but I don’t want to talk about them. I do want to talk about Sturgill Simpson, the third act of the evening. I became a big fan when Metamodern Sounds in Country Music was released in 2014. This Kentucky boy breathed new life into what passes for country music these days (Chris Stapleton notwithstanding). He was like a big breath of fresh air for me. Didn’t hurt one bit that he was born in Jackson either (that’s Eastern Kentucky not far from where I was born for those unfamiliar with Kentucky geography).

 

love

 

brotherhood

 

Sturgill did not disappoint, though he did not play a typical country set to be sure. He came out with both barrels blasting Brace For Impact (I’m terrible with titles but I think that was it). He never let up. Seriously – he rocked the entire set, blistering electric guitar in hand. In fact, he played guitar more than he sang. His connection was quite obvious with the other Kentucky home boy, drummer Miles Miller from Versailles (or as Sturgill rightly pronounced tongue-in-cheek, “Vers-eye” lol), and they played off one another to great effect. Perhaps the best of the band was bassist Chuck Bartels. This guy was perfect and it was his melodic solidity that bound the jam all together.  It was great to watch them bob and weave around the way the songs were recorded versus the way they were interpreted live. You don’t usually see someone as young as Simpson do this sort of thing because it’s the kind of thing that doesn’t always work. When it does, it’s magic. And it’s exactly that kind of chemistry that makes live performing so important to the creative experience. Players get better and their material evolves and gives way to new melodies, new riffs, new structures, and ultimately, new songs. So, at first I raised an eyebrow at the sometimes stark departure from the song, but ten minutes in, I understood what I was hearing and fell in love all over again. It was gutsy, raw experimentation, and an audience doesn’t always get the opportunity to watch it unfold. It was a real gift, and I respect Sturgill Simpson even more for doing it.

 

rockin

 

And then came Willie. God bless his 85-year-old heart for hitting the road and sticking to it. Walking is hard for him, that is obvious, but his love for his band, for the audience, and for the music is equally displayed. You can tell that he especially loves his sister, whom he introduced as “my little sister, Bobby.” More than once he tossed the ball into her court and she played it to perfection each time. 

 

the family
siblings

 

I don’t think Willie played anything from his new album, which is completely brilliant by the way, but then, with sixty+ years of hits, he didn’t have to. He started with 1973’s Whiskey River. When released as part of the Willie Nelson and Family Live double album of 1978, it was the track that lead me to becoming a lifelong fan. A lot of people couldn’t believe I’d never seen Willie perform live before this festival, though I kind of had. More accurately, he’d seen me. When we played Farm Aid in 1990, he stood backstage with our manager during our set and remarked, “That’s a girl playing drums. Far out!” There weren’t many of us gal drummers back then. Willie enjoyed my playing, and although I didn’t get to meet him so he could tell me that in person, I was happy enough that he had kind things to say. If memory serves, we had to leave before he played later that night. Hence, I’d never seen Willie perform live. 

 

generations

 

My favorite part of Willie’s set was Sturgill returning to the stage to play the closing tunes with him. It was like watching the generational torches burn at once. Plus, Sturgill’s playing prowess fit right in with Willie, despite the powerhouse set he played earlier in the evening. He’s becoming the consummate player, that Sturgill. You may have caught him on SNL with Chris Stapleton a few months ago. It was peel your face off raucous, kind of like his set at the festival, though he was much more traditional and in-the-pocket for Willie, and that for me is the mark of an excellent player. He’s going to be around for a long time, and I hope Willie’s able to keep playing as long as he wants, too. I especially hope he’s able to continue giving these young acts the boost they need to be heard by his loyal fans. Willie is one of America’s greatest talents and one of our greatest citizens. He deserves every accolade given him. I’m so grateful I had a chance to see him play live after all these years of loving his music.

 

total awesomeness

june 4, 2018

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“Difficult times have helped me to understand better than before, how infinitely rich and beautiful life is in every way, and that so many things that one goes worrying about are of no importance whatsoever.” ~ Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen)

 

next generation (Hipstamatic)

 

Wils Quinn is a student at UK who works with me. He’s also a drummer in a band called Johnny Conqueroo. I’ve been hearing about them for a few years. They’re sons of players who were around town when we were playing in town ( that was a long time ago). Wils gave me a copy of their latest EP and I had a chance to listen to it today. I love this band! Listening was like tripping down memory lane. They remind me of some 80’s punk bands if they’d been polished up just a little bit. And they really remind me of being in bands in the 80’s; when we played for hours, trying hard to get that sound. It was especially cool to hear this today as it’s Kiya’s birthday. When I met her, Radio Cafe had just released their EP that was heavily influenced by reggae, punk, and pop. That was an interesting combination to say the least. Johnny Conqueroo has got loads of 60’s rock influences with a good dose of heavy. Just the way I like it. Here’s a video of their single, Brick. I’m totally in love with the fact that there are still some kids in a garage somewhere thrashing it out, old school, and making their way without a formula. It’s a wonderful antidote to what passes for music these days. I know that makes me sound like an old fogey, but so be it. I hope they never stop playing. Wils Quinn for the win! 

january 27, 2018

posted in: music, photography, radio | 0

“The time will never feel right. We will never feel ready and the conditions will never be perfect. Life is short. Take a chance. Even the smallest step in the direction of your dreams can help you come alive.” ~ TinyBuddha

 

tower

 

Garry Bibb was my sculpture instructor in college. He was known as a tough and gruff kind of guy. He was also a brilliant artist. I didn’t find him gruff at all. I found him really helpful. He didn’t ask anything of us that he didn’t ask of himself. He has a lot of work around Lexington, but one of my favorites currently stands outside the Fine Arts building. It’s called “WRFL Radio: Thunder of Universal Sound.” WRFL is UK’s student radio station. A group of determined students were deep in WRFL fundraising when I joined a band called Radio Cafe in the summer of 1985. (That band went on to become Stealin Horses). One of my first gigs with Radio Cafe was a fundraiser for WRFL on the lawn beside the student center. By 1988, the station had gotten its license and hit the airwaves. The band had gotten a deal with Arista and released our first album. That album and WRFL will celebrate their 30th anniversary this year. It feels like yesterday. It was a great time for music in Lexington. We were not the only band to land a major label deal, and WRFL wasn’t the only station supporting us all. Rock station WKQQ, itself a national heavy-hitter at the time, was on board, too. The whole Lexington music scene was stuffed with talent, enthusiasm, and support. I guess that’s why I’ve been a little perplexed at the lack of mention this period gets in books on Kentucky music and musicians. Maybe we were just too cool. It was punk and pop after all (mostly punk). Whatever the case, it was a great time to be in the music scene in Lexington and I’m grateful to have been part of it.

 

thunder

december 16, 2017

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“One small positive thought in the morning can change your whole day.” ~ Unknown

 

hostess

 

Today was Ruth’s annual Christmas soirée; tea a la Emily Post. Each year the cast changes slightly, including the pets, but the core library crowd is consistently present, and always the day ends with Christmas carols. I’m always pleased to be in their company. A good time was had by all.

 

fa ra ra ra ra
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