Posted in music and the music business

update on george grantham

 

 

now playing: poco, “and settlin’ down”

 

so as of today, grace grantham (george’s daughter) says that george is coming around, and he’s moving his left arm and leg a little bit…this is wonderful news, for fans as well as those of us who know george personally.

i talked to my friend jon (who does their artwork these days, including the cover of their most recent record, running horse as well as promotional material), and he said that he’d been moving the fingers on his left hand a bit the day before. jon, by the way, rode to the hospital in the back of the ambulance with george when he fell ill during the show on thursday night. the initial prognosis, jon told me, was pretty grim…but in the time that’s passed since then, he’s fought back quite a bit.

i got a report from the show last night in barnstable that they opened the show acoustically (they were using a pickup drummer), and that rusty told the crowd what had happened….”we almost didn’t make it tonight…”

he asked everyone to say a prayer for george that night before they went to bed, and went on to talk about how he had been playing with george since he was seventeen years old…at that point, he had to choke back some tears and actually turned his back on the crowd for a minute to compose himself.

that just kills me.

at some point, once this has all passed, and george is back to being george again and all is well, i’ll post the whole story of my involvement with this band on my blog for you. i don’t even feel like getting into it right now.

if, as jackson browne said once, our lives could be viewed like the rings of a tree, then there’d be a set of rings very close to the middle that would be pretty heavily poco-centric.

right now, in 2004, three of the four members are guys who’ve been with the band for over 30 years, with george and rusty being original members….they just released their first album in over ten years, and only a couple of months ago did a show at the Belcourt Theatre in nashville that was taped for a DVD release. richie furay, the man most consider to be the founder of the group, joined them there for a large chunk of the show as well.

everything has been going their way lately. they’re not charting or keeping britney spears awake at night, but there was a period when they weren’t doing much…taking gigs here and there and just kinda marking time…

but getting george back in the band seemed to revitalize them.

and…i’ll go ahead and say it here…jon rosenbaum and i were largely responsible for george’s return to the poco fold.

it’s really a long story….a great story, but a long one…and i’m just gonna have to save it for later.

i will tell it, eventually, though…i promise.

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Posted in music and the music business

someone to keep in your thoughts…

 

 

now playing: super seventies internet radio

 

via my friend jon rosenbaum, i just found out that george grantham, drummer for one of my favorite bands, poco, had a stroke onstage last night during a show in springfield, mass. and was rushed to the hospital. he’s there, in critical condition, as of 4:30 today, and the prognosis is rather gray. he’s regained consciousness a couple of times, but hasn’t been terribly responsive.

his wife and daughter are there with him, at the hospital, and they’re waiting for some definitive word as to his outlook.

george is 57 years old.

keep him in your prayers, if you would be so kind.

i’ve never told any of my poco stories here, just because it’s never occured to me to do so.

i’ll save them for hopefully happier times.

Posted in yesterday. today. tomorrow.

speaking of what “i heard”…

 

 

now playing: jackson browne, “hold on hold out”

 

so my daughter was absolutely brilliant last night.

last night was her awards banquet/talent show that i mentioned before…she won two separate academic awards in algebra (WTF? who knew?) and in composition/literature. i do plan to follow through on my threat to post her essay here as soon as i get my hands on it in digital form….it’s amazing work for someone her age. hell, it’s pretty damn good for someone of any age, based on some of what i see in my cybertravels.

she sang a song that she wrote with one of the tutor/counselors (tc’s) for the talent show, and the place went nuts. i do wish that the guy running the show would’ve mentioned that they wrote the song together, but i think that most of the kids knew that already.

she was in her element last night – i gave her the videocamera (her videocamera, after all) during dinner and she was going from table to table, interviewing the other kids…she had a smile on her face all night long, cheering and screaming when her friends got awards…there was a “students and staff only” dance afterwards, and i was threatening to stay for it, much to her dismay – but i relented and left when the ceremony was over.

she and i were cracking up for most of the night…early on, during dinner, she was pouring tea into her glass and said, “i’m not very good at this pouring stuff”, which i heard as “i’m not very good at this porn stuff”…

then later, during the awards themselves, she leaned over as a girl got up to accept an award, followed by a young man who had been called right after her…she said to me, “that’s her boyfriend, but they’re not allowed to see each other because her mom doesn’t allow her to have boyfriends…”

which i heard as, “that’s her boyfriend, but they’re not allowed to sleep together because her mom doesn’t allow her to have boyfriends….”

now whether it’s entirely faulty, rock-and-roll hearing or parental paranoia is open to debate, i guess…but my guess is that it’s probably a mixture of the two.

great time, though…even enjoyed the ride there and back with Mom.

Posted in yesterday. today. tomorrow.

hurry up and hurry…

 

 

now playing: bob seger, “down on main street”

 

now there’s a stone road song if ever there was one.

one of these days i’ll take it in for the guys to learn.

i’m finding myself feeling guilty today about the over-an-hour-long three way phone conversation between myself and my son and his mother last night.

i feel like i let dylan down by not being able to go to bat for him, but goddammit – i can’t do this stuff for him when he refuses to take responsibility for his position on this sort of thing.

this whole situation would be immensely different if he’d come to me months ago and said, “dad, my moms’ going to the shore again this year, and i don’t want to go. can i just stay at your house instead?”

instead, he didn’t say anything to anyone until less than a week before time to go, and puts everyone in a shitty position by doing so.

this is one part of parenting that i hate.

it seems to be particular to the prospect of single parenting, although i know that these kind of conflicts arise with parents who are together, too…i guess the single-parenting model just compounds the frustration, maybe.

the irony is that his mom and i seem to maintain a more unified front now than i think we ever have.

were it not already after 5 o’clock, this could turn into one of my trademark wind-laden entries…but the clock dictates that i must move along to other tasks at the moment….

Posted in yesterday. today. tomorrow.

jumbled

 

 

now playing: aunt pat, “nixon”

 

well, today it’s raining like hell again…and for some reason, we’ve lost connection to the internet at work.

(i always write my blog entries in notepad and then drop them into the text box in blogger after it’s finished…)

the funny thing is that i was gonna try to get a jump on assembling the studio this weekend – but i think i’m gonna take advantage of this opportunity to see what happens in the area where the rain came in the last time to see if anything happens there.

that worries me.

*************************

it looks like i may be taking on a couple of mentors/students soon.

a bass player, mutual friend of blakes’, wants me to give his wife some dobro pointers…and the guy who runs shipping and receiving here at work has a teenage son whos’ enamoured with learning to play guitar, and he may be showing up on my doorstep soon as well.

ah, well….i’ve been surfing the ‘net, taking in some blogs that i’ve never read…some that will be showing up on my sideboard soon. it’s time for some new blood.

i had to steal a shirt from the folks in personnel today, since i obviously still haven’t mastered the culinary skill necessary to successfully eat a meatball sandwich from the vending machine in the cafeteria.

DOH! would be a little too obvious at this point, i think.

ok – 5 o’clock is closing in fast. i must make an honest attempt to get out of here at a decent hour today.

thoughts are rattling around in my head, not holding still long enough to make the trip down my arms to my fingers.

inner-cranial ricochet syndrome.

i bet it’s hereditary, too.

Posted in music and the music business, yesterday. today. tomorrow.

two places at once night

 

 

now playing: blake allen, rough mixes from upcoming album

 

 

blake dropped by last night to pick up an ADAT tape with some of my parts on it for the record and dropped off roughs of three songs…i don’t know if it’d be possible to have picked three more different songs to have gotten started with. one of them, “frogs”, is a bluegrassy number that i busted my balls on…i played the bass and snare drum parts, as well as mandolin and dobro. i think there may have been banjo on this track at some point, but i don’t hear any on the mix. i do know that i spent a lot of time getting these cascading notes to sync up on the outro, and it sounds pretty cool…although one of the parts is missing from that section, i think.

the second song, “the wind”, is written from the perspective of a man on death row making peace with himself and his love…it reads almost like a letter. i played a lap steel part on it that sounds more like a pedal steel than a lap steel, and listening to it now makes the hair on my neck stand up. it’s a haunted song, and the part fits it all too well.

i think of warren zevon when i hear this song….

“starin’ at the ground…a penny up, a penny down
i wrote you a letter, baby…i’m leavin’ this world today…

lay me in the ground…my love – let the sound of the wind speak to you…”

the third song, “eliza”, is probably the least finished of the lot…there are some issues, i think, over the placement of the drum loop that i hope he manages to resolve – it’s a great song, and it deserves a great treatment.

so tonight, i need to deal with some computer issues for a couple of customers – i had planned on trying to do some moving tonight, but i don’t see that happening until the weekend, at best. i want to have jamie over to deal with the carpet soon, too, so that we can get dylans’ room squared away and get everyones’ room done.

whereas i haven’t been able to say this with any semblance of confidence in the past month, i’m pretty sure that we’ll be completely out of the old house by the end of this weekend.

i’ve gotten four hours or less of sleep every night this week, so i could see myself fading early tonight…but somehow, i doubt that’ll actually happen. i really need to get the studio started, and i’ll probably make at least two runs to the house before i make my computer run later tonight.

i had envisioned a longer, more personally involved entry today…but i’m just not feeling very chatty, i guess.

i did encounter this brief editorial on the pages of the NY Times today, though:

————————————————

July 21, 2004
Desperadoes

Something went awry at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas last Saturday night. Linda Ronstadt did what she has done at several concerts across the country this summer. She dedicated the song “Desperado”- an encore – to Michael Moore and urged members of the audience to go see his new movie, “Fahrenheit 9/11.”

Elsewhere, audiences have reacted to the mention of Mr. Moore by cheering, booing, walking out and sometimes glaring at one another in parking lots. At the Aladdin, a few audience members tore down posters, threw drinks and demanded their money back. According to one person who was present – William Timmins, the Aladdin’s president – it was “a very ugly scene.” Mr. Timmins promptly made it even uglier. He had Ms. Ronstadt ejected from the premises.

This behavior assumes that Ms. Ronstadt had no right to express a political opinion from the stage. It implies – for some members of the audience at least – that there is a philosophical contract that says an artist must entertain an audience only in the ways that audience sees fit. It argues, in fact, that an artist like Ms. Ronstadt does not have the same rights as everyone else.

Perhaps her praise for Mr. Moore, even at the very end of her show, did ruin the performance for some people. They have a right to voice their disapproval – to express their opinion as Ms. Ronstadt expressed hers and to ask for a refund. But if their intemperate behavior began to worry the management, then they were the ones who should have been thrown out and told never to return, not Ms. Ronstadt, who threatened, after all, only to sing.

————————————————

this gentleman makes a good point…one that i’m surprised i didn’t come to myself, as a musician – how is it that the entertainer is chatized for the behavior of the audience? if i were a venue manager or a talent booker, i’d probably be just as inclined to perhaps extend a “no, thanks” to an act that i found belligerent, or who saw fit to provoke this kind of behavior in an audience…for instance, i doubt that the promoter who brought the who to cincinnati’s riverfront stadium in 1979 was terribly eager to add their city to the bands’ itinerary the following year. it took bob dylan over 35 years to return to the newport folk festival after having his electric band booed offstage there on the day i was born. likewise, i doubt i’ll be seeing great white listing any club dates in rhode island in the near future…or any reappearances of justin and janet during the superbowl.

my point is that if a performer or entertainer does something during their show that a promoter deems offensive, they typically deal with it in a businesslike manner and simply refuse future bookings. i don’t think that linda ronstadt did anything to warrant being escorted off the premises in simply dedicating a song to a controversial figure. i think that the fact that the wingnuts in the audience reacted in the completely uncivilized manner that they did is the crux of the matter, here.

as i said yesterday…i take a certain degree of pride in my rather confident assumption that had the ideological shoe been on the other foot, the audience behavior would’ve been markedly different. if she’d dedicated “you’re no good” to john kerry, i mighta been taken aback by it, but i wouldn’t have thrown drinks from my table and proceeded to trash the place.

i think i’m a little more grownup than that.

i gotta wonder, though…

should i start worrying about being held responsible for the behavior of the lesser species who show up for my bands’ gigs?

Posted in yesterday. today. tomorrow.

into each life, an assload of rain must fall…

 

 

now playing: walter egan, “magnet and steel”

 

i’d say “when it rains, it pours”, if it weren’t such a trite pun in the face of the events of the past 48 hours.

yesterday, i had a couple of conversations with people who’d had serious problems as a result of the merciless pounding we took here on monday from the weather. some areas got as much as a foot of rain in a 24 hour period. one of the ladies in HR had a puddle form in her living room, via a leak in her roof.

i remember thinking as i was hearing all this, “man…i’m really lucky that i didn’t have to deal with any of that….”

it’s ironic as well that one of the first conversations i had with my next-door neighbor concerned the same subject…i had mentioned that i was a musician, just like the previous occupant, but that the kind of music i played was a bit tamer than his – and she mentioned that justins’ music never once bothered her, and that the previous occupant had, in fact, had a grandson who was a DJ who’d been louder than justin was…but anyway, the talk turned somehow to finished basements and water and the like, and she mentioned that it had been over a decade since anyone in the neighborhood had any serious problems with their basements, and that was when a sewer main had backed up and some of the folks had water coming in as a result.

flash forward to last night, when wendy was on the phone with her dad, who’d called because he saw a news story about a reading woman being washed into a drain of some sort. i’m not sure why it occured to her to do so, but she went down into the basement and checked everything out, and sure enough – the carpet in the back room of the basement (the room that happened to be housing my entire guitar collection, as well as the console for my studio and much of the other recording equipment) was absolutely soaked. soaked through to the point that the bottoms of a number of the cases were wet, as well as the guitars inside them.

i was on my way home with dylan at the time, and she called me on my cellphone…very excited, to say the least. i got home and immediately began what she called “triage operations”, while she drove back to the old chestnut street house to retrieve the dehumidifier from the basement there.

the final analysis of the damage has yet to be rendered – i called justins’ parents and told them what had happened, and they’re coming over today to take a look at the basement. i’m not sure if the carpet will have to be replaced or not, but i’m leaning in that direction. had we not gotten the dehumidifier in there when we did, it’d have been a lost cause without a doubt. as it is, we may get enough of the moisture out of it to save it, but i’m not optimistic about it.

i’m just happy at this point that nothing was seriously damaged that couldn’t be replaced. the water itself reached about halfway across the room, coming in off the outer wall of the basement into the middle room (and, to a lesser degree, into the front area of the basement where the oil tank resides…but this area is behind a door, out of sight and away from everything else in the finished area of the basement).

the long-term damage, if any, is to my faith in the sanctity of the basement…whereas i hadn’t given any thought or concern at all to the possibility of this happening before, it’s now a very real part of my planning for setting up shop there. i will definitely end up rethinking some things…for instance, i’ll probably build a pair of very shallow platforms of some sort to store things on in that particular room, as to keep them off the actual floor. i don’t think it’ll be that difficult to move ahead with my plans for the studio, i’m just going to have to keep this particular possibility in mind as i go.

the silver lining here is that this kind of rain doesn’t exactly happen on a regular basis…so i think that, passing natural disasters notwithstanding, i should be rather safe in this space…once we get it squared away.

in other news, nik everett has asked me to play in his band.

nik was the host of the songwriters’ night at the grape street pub before i was, and has an amazing voice. i have his song, “love equals blue” on a bunch of my winamp playlists to this day, as well as some other stuff from his first two albums…and he’s always been a good friend to me, although i generally don’t travel in those circles at all anymore. what he’s looking for seems to be right up my alley, though – i downloaded all the songs from his new album as we were talking on saturday, and at some point this week i’m going to burn them onto a CD and bring them to work so i can start absorbing them. he sent me a short list of what parts he wants me to learn and such, so there’s no guesswork involved…

it’ll be fun to take on something fresh…but it is an original project, and as such, i have to temper my expectations in certain regards. i’m afraid that i might’ve been spoiled from these past few years of playing covers…will i be able to drive to god-knows-where and play a 45 minute set for no money on a weeknight and come home without an attitude problem? there was a time when there was an easy answer to that question, but times have changed.

the weekend that broke my resolve as a songwriter/purveyor of my own original music occured in the first week of february of, i believe, 1999 (possibly 1998…i can’t remember for sure. i can double-check it if it’s that important). i was booked to play on friday night at picasso’s in elizabethtown, KY and the following night at the common ground coffeehouse in louisville, KY. i left reading at 5am friday morning and drove straight through to the gig, picking up a ticket in western PA that eventually led to a court appearance that i had to go back for…but i digress. i played to less than a dozen people that night and slept in my van behind a convienence store on bardstown road. the next day, i bummed around town a bit, stopping in at guitar emporium (where i bought my once-trusty les paul standard that i later sold to todd bartolo of the youngers, who has made it his main gigging axe…basically though, i spent the day walking up and down the street talking to people, ducking into record shops, and the like…mentioning that i was playing that night, if you’re not doing anything, etc…(i also spent a chunk of the morning in the park there, finishing nicholas sparks’ “message in a bottle”, which outclasses the movie in a major way…and yeah, go ahead and get your digs in now. i can already hear it.)

so i show up for the gig, and with the exception of a few people who i knew would be coming, there were less than a dozen people in the audience yet again.

it probably goes without saying that i received no financial compensation for either of these gigs.

so, that night i left the venue after my set and pulled over at a rest stop to sleep before heading out for home….

…now, i mentioned it was the first week of february, right?

i slid into my sleeping bag in the back of the van and slept comfortably in the receding heat left over from the initial part of the drive…but i woke up some hours later, with my face sticking out of the tiny opening in the bag…i was warm enough over most of my body, but my face was numb with cold. literally.

it took every bit of willpower i had to climb out of that bag and into the front seat of the van. my hands were shaking when i fumbled the keys from my pocket and started the engine.

it had gotten so cold overnight that the inside of the windshield was covered with frost.

yeah, really.

i had to scrape the inside of the windshield before i could pull out of the rest stop.

i could probably point to a number of causes or incidents that i could single out as bellwethers for my departure (in earnest, anyway) from that particular sect of the music business, but that particular trip stands out in my mind as the most obvious breaking point.

so do i have it in me to take on another original music project on this particular rung of the food chain?

i guess we’re about to find out.