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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Sound and Vision

“I am in Heaven; I’ve got scars that can’t be seen”.

The world has bid farewell to one of the most influential musical artists of all time. From start to finish, David Bowie not only captured y the hearts and minds of generations, he defined “rock and roll” by frightening parents and delighting youth with his rebelliousness and ever-changing music and persona - this Brit who seemingly came from the outer reaches of the universe.

My fascination and addiction with David Bowie came from seeing (and hearing) ten seconds of a song performed by a strange looking man with eyes of two different colors, squeezed between clips of the Mama’s and the Papa’s and Jim Croce on an American Bandstand infomercial.  I was ten.   The indelible impact of the opening lyric alone, “ground control to Major Tom”, was all it took.

This lyric was part of Bowie’s grand entrance to the eyes and ears of the world with the single “Space Oddity" - a groundbreaking offering way ahead of its time, released in accord with the launch of Apollo 11.  The listening public’s fascination with the moon landing and Major Tom’s message of isolation and bewilderment meshed well together changing the trajectory of the man we now morn and dearly miss.    

1971’s Hunky Dory, delivered “Changes”, an anthem of disenchanted youth, which, from its debut to this very day strikes a nerve for anyone who’s heard it. Think opening credits in John Hughes’ homage to teen angst and confusion, The Breakfast Club in 1985.  

In 1972, an androgynous alien by the name of Ziggy Stardust brought with him The Spiders from Mars. A concept album backed by an elaborate stages show.    The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars shot Bowie into super stardom, and this alter ego would influence highly the glitzy and garish theatrics of artists Marylyn Manson and Lady Gaga, to name a few.  Mainstays “Ziggy Stardust”, “Moonage Daydream” and “Suffragette City” sit confidently within the cannon of rock and roll history. 

In the 1970’s and 80’s the parade of inventive and powerful songs, “Rebel Rebel”, “Young Americans”,” China Doll”, “Let’s Dance”, “Golden Years” and so many more kept Bowie riding above and beyond the crest of every musical “wave”.    For instance, his work with legendary producer and sonic architect, Brian Eno, on 1977’s Low, was praised by avant garde composer Phillip Glass as “a work of genius”. 

The 1990’s was a decade of musical expansion for Bowie.  His foray into industrial and techno music on 1995’s conceptual murder mystery Outside,  as well as 1997’s Earthling - with the Nine Inch Nails', Trent Reznor.   Followed by Hours in 1999 and   Heathen Reality and The Next Day in the 2000's,  David Bowie continued to create and expand beyond the walls of what he’d accomplished before.

His final contribution, Black Star, is foreboding, prophetic,scary, beautiful and original.   In other words, it is David Bowie.    

Without David Bowie there would be a gaping void in the vibrancy of the musical spectrum.  Lady Gaga, The Arcade Fire, TV on The Radio, Nirvana, and so many countless others simply would never be who they are if not for the now departed David Bowie. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Tears For Fears and Gotye

The two musical acts have very little to do with one another.   However, this evening I did what all people who think they know everything should do.  I actually delved deeper into the interworking of a few bands with whom I am fascinated, but truthfully know jack shit about, beyond what lies on the shiny surface.

Let's start with Gotye, whom I just realized is an Australian  around my age by the name of Wouter Andre "Wally" De Backe. His History goes much deeper than the ever resonating, heart wrenching, sing along, "Somebody that I used to Know."  

Learn a little about ole Wally by taking in this short video: Gotye - "State of the Art" LIVE

Now, Tears for Fears maintain their presence mostly via a core group of fans, but mostly from Donnie Darko viewings, Fist Wave on XM, or the occasional episode of Dennis Miller Live on HBO GO.    This song never drew anything close to the  attention of "Everybody Wants to Rule  the World", "Shout" or "Head Over Heels".  

I always love this one:

Friday, October 2, 2015


Maradeen: MIRAGE

We’ve long awaited Raleigh-born  guitar wunderkind  Whit Murray’s next move.  Since his days shredding with Athens, GA  jamband Mama’s Love, and higher learning at The Berklee School of Music in Boston, his  maturation and prowess as a songwriter and musician have been impressive.   Blood, sweat - and surely some tears - have paid off in spades based on listening to Murray’s latest incarnation, Nashville's Maradeen. 

Mirage, Maradeen’s debut album, brings to life the spirit, ingenuity and musical craftsmanship possessed by all five accomplished players. Murray’s blazing Paul Reed Smith is naturally cohesive with the gritty and soulful vocals of singer guitarist,Thomas Galloway.   Keyboardist Kaitlyn Connor, the diamond in the rough, shines as such.  Ben Plewes and Sterling Miller are a rhythm section to be reckoned with.  Guest spots from Nashville jazz saxophonist Nate Hefron along with pedal steelman Alex McCullough adds  a final ingredient,  creating the  essence of musical conductivity.  

Our introduction to the  strength and solidarity of Maradeen begins with "She Treat Me Like a Real Man”. Early on, a taste of their  signature style is apparent -   via a  low pitch, dark Clavinet, with the  wah-wah on full tilt,  accompanied with the proper dose of horn power.  And  shining brightly, Whit makes his heavy presence known.  Producer and guest guitarist Nick Worley's work, both as a producer and guitar player, is not to be missed, especially here.  We’ve been introduced.   

It’s  within the space of “Always Want What I Can’t Have” when the  lyrical potential of Maradeen is realized.  Again, Kaitlyn Connor shines through with Jerry Lee Lewis swipes on all eighty-eight keys.

"Take it or Leave It" slows down the pace to an outer plane of days past, majestically designed to hit nerves, ultimately a triumphant tune that puts forth the visual impression of antiquity.  Picture a hazy saloon with a beautiful girl sitting on a makeshift stage, striding a damaged, slightly out of tune, piano.  Searing  pedal steel from guest player Alex McCullough, and Drummer  Ben Plewes’s slow gallop and splashing cymbals, only intensify the visual and auditory punch attached to this track.  

Reminiscing on love lost, canned emotional secrecy, and  cursed by hindsight’s perfect vision, the story sung by Whit Murray in “Between You and Me", dives deeply into the void of what could have been. This track validates  Maradeen’s competence as across the board, well thought out songwriters.   Again, Kaitlyn Connor's piano stylings, in concert with  guest player, producer Nick Worley's slide guitar create a  glorious ascension to the loftiest of heights.  Watch out: This song could qualify as a  "monster ballad”  of sorts. 

“Messing Around With You”  tells a tale of shady shenanigans similar to that of Steely Dan, lyrically and musically.  The dangers and pitfalls of  courting a live wire femme fatale are evident.   A welcome return from Sax man Nate Hefron makes for a funked out  tune well executed by the pulsating thumps of bassist Sterling Miller.   Fender Rhodes from  Connor’s corner, woven into  Matt Plewe’s  claps and kicks on the kit, clinch “Messin’s” groove.  Thomas Galloway's  sneaky outburst with the  “envelope” guitar effect wraps this one up in a shiny sequin bow.  

Bassist Sterling Miller marks his territory as the pulse around which Maradeen thrives, in the soft western jangle of “Tears of Rain”, a well thought out, soft number.  

“Outside World,” “Tears of Rain”, “Yellow King” and “One for the Road” accent  the rich texture of  Mirage as a whole.   Whit Murray’s blistering guitar work reflects influences from Joe Satriani to Dickie Betts.  Regardless any similarities, his sound is his and his alone.

As a whole, Mirage is a consistently enticing  rock and roll record , well play and well produced.  If this is the first step for Nashville’s Maradeen, we as fans of Whit and his creations have much to look forward to.  

Maradeen is: 
Kaitlyn Conner - piano, organ, clavinet, backing vocals
Thomas Galloway - guitar, vocals
Sterling Miller - bass
Whit Murray - guitar, vocals 
Ben Plewes - drums, percussion 

Special guests:: 
Nick Worley - guitar 
Cremaine Booker - cello
Nate Hefron - saxophone
Alex McCullough - pedal steel 
Teanna Ohm - violin  

Produced by Nick Worley 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Grateful Dead Final Shows Made Me Think of...

Dead madness has swept the nation as we all, regradless of age, look back on how the music of The Grateful Dead affected us. That tender age when being labeled a "poser" could cost you major cool points on the playground comes to mind. Questions revloving around your favorite Dead song came up here and there, especially from the older sibling set. "Did you say Casey Jones is your favorite Dead song? You are a pussy."

My aunt (mom's younger sister) was a deadhead, which is funny because my mother was and remains to be utterly clueless about most things music. Add to that, my father is 100% resposible for my musical tastes. Our first concert was Bob Dylan at the old Raleigh Civic Center. I was in the fourth grade. If you ask my older brother, he will tell you about how I launched a nabs cookie at GE Smith who happened to be part of Dylan's touring band during the "Under the Red Sky tour".

My love for the Dead swelled by the time I was in middle school. That sweet time of riding in the car with your parents and making them listen to your tapes was in full swing. I was loaded with cherished Dead and Phish tapes. In the car one afternoon, "The Heart of Me" featuring Donna Jean Godchaux caught my mothers attention.She affectionately inquired about the lovely voice coming from the tape deck, and in my sullen, teenage tone proudlty exclaimed, "this is the Grateful Dead, mom!" She did not believe me. After some serious convincing, she confessed, "I thought they were a skull and crossbones, heavy, death-metal band". She could not believe how pretty it was. This is the same women who once asked me if Pink Floyd "mainrailed" drugs while onstage. Her favorite Phish song is "Fee", and anytime my brother or I attend a Phish concert, with excitement, she asks, "did they play "Fee?!" My step-dad has a Fee t-short, actually.


Upon taking a long, hard listen to the Chicago shows, my attention was on Trey's ability to sink with each and every note pressed by the remaning original members of GD. Trademark "Trey licks" only added fireworks to an already explosive situation. With great admiration and contentment, my heart landed on the fact that this was, in fact, the best way for The Grateful Dead to bid the world goodnight.



Sunday, July 5, 2015

Get up and Fly Away

So this is it.  After fifty years The Grateful dead bids the world goodnight  

I'll take this opportunity to share with you, my loyal and friendly audience, a few of my favorite GD songs and concerts.  

Nineteen ninety: 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Wet Hot American Summer Prequel

This just in from Nathan Buescher, one of the funniest people I am lucky to know. Source of article unknown for now.  Decider??
Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp (Netflix)
I’ll leave for another day the debate over whether it’s a good or bad thing for Netflix to try to become a benevolent Oprah for obsessive comedy nerds — “You get a reboot! And you get a reboot!” Instead, let’s just say that David Wain and Michael Showalter seem to have learned the lesson of Arrested Development and steered into the ridiculousness of their unlikely second chance. This eight-episode series purports to be a prequel to Wet Hot American Summer, a 14-year-old cult film that has, over time, morphed into an all-out classic. Many of its willing and goofy participants have gone on to achieve considerable fame and fortune elsewhere: Bradley Cooper, Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, Christopher Meloni. (Sadly, the refrigerator was last seen begging for a hit of baking soda at a scrapyard on the wrong side of town.) The nutty thing about this new Wet Hot — yes, nuttier than fortysomethings playing teenage parts they last played in their late twenties — is that all of those boldface names are back, along with even bolder company: Jon Hamm, Kristen Wiig, John Slattery, Josh Charles.
Unlike Arrested Development, which saw its trademark meticulousness sag under the weight of expectations (and extracurricular cast commitments), Wet Hot was always about anarchy. If we can assume that tradition holds true (and with Chris Pine credited in the cast as “a mysterious figure” and Randall Park as a lovelorn “camp librarian,” why would we assume otherwise?), this should be a blast.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Listen to the Lion

Sorely misrepresented as an “Alt Country” musician, Sturgill Simpson’s performance at Booth Amphitheater in Cary, NC Saturday evening proved that his brand of country is in no way “alt” nor “indie”, but  tried and true, real deal,  American country music. Deeply woven within the tapestry of Simpson’s living legend aura, we hear Waylon Jennings and Hank Williams, and feel Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger.

Backed by a gang of superb musicians, custom built to drive the Sturgill Simpson engine, the set offered a healthy mix of tracks from his 2013 debut album “High Top Mountain” and his 2014 release “Metamodern Sounds in Country Music” -  plus a few covers for good measure.  Why he opened for bluegrass favorites Old Crow Medicine Show, I'm not sure.   

Simpson is gritty and authentic with the stories to back it up. Unbeknownst to some attendees and first timers like myself was Simpson’s vocal power - and ability to melt hearts and blow black hair simply by singing.    I am a self-confessed Van Morrison fanatic and I can say, (gulp), that Sturgill shares with him that rare, other- worldly gift of changing the emotional weather with his pipes.

Sturgill Simpson - rhythm guitar & vocals 
Laur Joamets- electric & slide guitar
Kevin Black - bass guitar
Jeff Crow - keyboards
Miles Miller - drums, percussion, backing vocals

Friday, April 17, 2015

So, The Kids in The Hall are coming to Durham in May, Aye.

In recent entertainment news from around the triangle, we are lucky and proud to welcome our hilarious neighbors from the North, The Kids in the Hall, to the Durham Performing Arts Center May 8, 2015. As a child of television through the mid eighties and early nineties, Bruce, Scott, Dave, Mark and Kevin and even the rare opportunity to imagine touching Paul Bellini provided a wealth of playground and class clown fodder. Puerile classics like Mark McKinney's "I am crushing your head" were a mere introduction to the  universe of sheer brilliance of The Kids in the Hall. The Comedy Channel, ( before Comedy Central) was in bloom and shows like Small Doses, Exit 57 and Almost Live shared airtime with The Kids and SNL reruns.  Like a sponge, I absorbed the magic of Amy Seders, Steven Colbert, Strangers with Candy, MTV's  The State , Stella, Viva Variety, and the list goes on.   Look at me now!   I am tragically unfunny and know way too much  about comedy shows on TV!     

But  seriously, friends, how fortunate are we to have our funny uncles from the frozen north bring their traveling showcase of crossdressed comedic brilliance to our little triangle?

I want a visit from Gavin...

I hope to hear "slipped my mind" or "just a mo'".  

Where are they now???????????   

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Some people talk like babies...

Luna teases fans in that "we're so cool, we can casually get back together if the spirit moves us" way. A move only these merchants of "it" are able to pull off.



Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Let's Hear it for Netflix! Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt / Return to Twin Peaks

The brainchild of comedy maven Tina Fey and 30 Rock writer  Robert Carlock , Unbreakable Kimmy Shmidt is far and away the funniest show with the most lovable comedic star to grace the computer/iphone/television screen since Constance Langdon.

Kimmy, played by Office alum Ellie Kemper is a recently freed cult member kept captive in a bunker for fifteen years with  a handful of other women  during the so-called apocalypse. Once released she heads to NYC, meets and moves in with a struggling actor, and hilarity ensues. Streetwise and gay as an Easter basket, Titus Andromedan can't get work besides dressing up in an Iron Man knock off suit,  taking in what he can from tourists with cameras. Played by the multi talented Tituss Burgess, Titus Andromedan and Kimmy become fast friends and roommates under the motherly protection of landlord Lillian Kaushtupper played by Taxi's Carol Kane.

30 Rock's Jane Krakowski plays quintessential upper-east side betty, Jacqueline Vorhees. Hoping against hope for her absentee Husband to give her and her son, Buckley, some attention, Jackie is chock full of comedy gold. We find out Jackie was born and raised 100% Native American. She dies her hair and skin, leaves the tribe and heads to the big city. Kimmy finds employment looking after son Buckley and faces the treacherous, fifteen year old step daughter, Xanthippe Voorhees. Will Xan expose Kimmy for what she really is? I guess we will just have to keep laughing and waiting.

Report s say the next chapter of David Lynch's small screen masterpiece Twin Peaks is fraught with development complications, confusing symbolism, a shortage of dwarves who can dance and speak backwards. logs and the ladies who carrie them.  

We wait.  Like a Trekkie anxiously holding out for time travel, we wait. 

Friday, March 13, 2015


Angels Among Us 2015 is  right around the corner!

As many of you know, I was victimized  by brain cancer back in 2007.  Through a constant outpouring of prayers and support from armies of well wishers, I've managed to survive the ravages of treatment, metastasis to other body parts, an aversion to Kevin Spacey, a fear of not so lofty heights, a strong dislike for the band Trampled by Turtles, and many other hangups.

 A team was created to participate in Duke University Hospital's biggest charity event, Angels Among Us. Known and feared throughout the world as The DAN DE LIONS,  our team has raised upwards of $100,000 for the fight against brain cancer.  Let's keep up the fight this year!

Join, donate, sponsor, find info: The Dan De Lions  Angels Among Us April, 25 2015 

Our mission: fund research and raise awareness for the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke University Hospital.  We fight together to eradicate brain cancer.  We fight to win and win we will.


The wonderful folks at Southland Ballroom have graciously offered to host a musical event the evening of Angels Among Us.  Come one, come all.  All funds go to The Tisch Center!
Team members and donators get free admission!  



Monday, September 29, 2014

FREEMAN 9-24-20014, Lincoln Hall; Chicago, IL

Complete  performance with quality AV!   Chris Boerner shredding things to bits, as usual.  "Transitions"  is something to behold.