o christmas tree, o christmas treeee….

now playing: bret alexander, “gentleman east”

boy…where do these days go?

out of work today, sick as a dog – can’t breathe very well, except through my mouth, which has left my lips in pretty sad shape (the constant air passing over them gives them a beating that even chap-stick can’t stand up to)…generally listless and achy all over, and not feeling terribly functional.

there’s a ton of stuff that i’ve wanted to post here these past few days, but it’s gonna have to wait until tomorrow, when i have a better command of my faculties, i think.

tonight i picked up the kids and we went for a drive as the sun was going down – jayda and dylan were in a not-so-rare-these-days frame of mind…dylan cracking jokes and taking advantage of his comic opportunities and keeping jayda and i in stitches. we saw a pretty neat sunset in the hills to the west as we were making our way back towards home…i remember thinking how habits engrained in them early on in life still seem to surface all these years later. jayda, especially, loves going out for drives to nowhere in particular…and i’m pretty certain that i’ve sown that seed. i’ve been taking her for drives since she was a month old. when she was very small, her mom and i took her to tennessee…and one of the mornings we were there, she wouldn’t stop crying, so i put her in her car seat and we drove from savannah back to walnut grove, the small village where i grew up. i drove her past the school and through the back roads, to the cemetery where my grandfather was buried – she slept for the entire trip…even when i took her out of her car seat to carry her to her great-grandfathers’ gravesite.

one other specific time that i remember was when she and dylan were both still very small…small enough that they could both be shirtless without raising an eyebrow…i put them both into the back of the van and rolled down all the windows and we drove south, towards lancaster and amish country. the sun was out, and i had marty higgins‘ first album in the tape deck, and it was just a perfect day to have the wind blowing through your hair, with good music mingling with it as it floated through the car.

they’re so conditioned to spending time that way that once, a while back, when we were discussing where to put our christmas tree in the apartment we had at the time, i made the statement that “while it should traditionally be in the front room of the house, i think it should be in the place we spend the most time in.”

dylan replied, “then you should put it in the van.”

if i’d thought of it at the time, i’d have gotten one of those pine-tree deodorizers and let him decorate it.

Advertisements

rod price

 

now playing: dan fogelberg, “in the passage”

 

looks like we’ve lost another one (as graham nash would say).

most telling line of the obituary:

” After many years of touring he settled in Wilton in 1994.

Many in town knew Price as a loving father who never missed his son’s baseball, soccer or basketball games. Fewer people knew of Price’s musical background.”

rest in peace, rod. we’ll miss you.

pre-emptive rest

 

now playing: poco, “high and dry (live)”

tonight at work there was a barbershop quartet rehearsal going on in the conference room adjacent to the cafeteria. wow, those guys can sing.

it’s not my kind of music, but i’m a total harmony slut, and if i hadn’t been so busy i would’ve probably punched out and sat in the lunchroom and listened to them.

we’re prepping for a seriously major upgrade and overhaul at work – and most of the gruntwork will (naturally) fall upon my shoulders…tonight i was to do some rearranging in the server closet, but the one rack is going to have to be completely dismantled, and i didn’t have the proper tools available – i also have a couple of thoughts that i want to share with the boss in the morning before i go any further…

so i guess i should consider getting some pre-emptive rest…life is gonna be interesting for the next couple of weeks.

livin’ in the band

now playing: eagles, “after the thrill is gone”

on the subject of joe walsh, i found this little tidbit from an old post earlier….enjoy.

ok, so here’s the big secret.

this past sunday a longtime friend of both the band poco and the extended poco family had a surprise 50th birthday party…he was duped into thinking it was a work function, and six months of planning by his wife and children and a lot of the poco folks somehow managed to go undetected until the moment he walked in the room.

a little backstory, though…

i had agreed to provide a sound system, PA equipment, and backline gear (amps, etc) for the party. i had spoken to a friend about borrowing some of their gear to add to what i had, and since borrowing their gear would be reason enough to justify bringing him along, i thought of him first…because there was definitely reason for him to want to be there.

well, first the van died…it decided last week to refrain from shifting gears (as we’ve discussed), so i called my buddy mitch dieghan and we discussed using his truck…until such time as i heard from the chief party coordinator jon rosenbaum that the weather was supposed to suck on sunday. so ok, scratch the truck, then.

shit.

ok, call mike…

oh, wait – there’s another problem. now, mike can’t make it on sunday, either…some band business has come up, and he’s not going to be able to go. ok, forgivable…i can respect his position.

but that leaves me without either PA or transportation on the day before this gig.

so i made a couple of calls, charlies’ wife dorothy made a couple of calls, and we managed, through enticing third parties and mixing and matching equipment from other folks, to get the necessary gear in place for the party. literally, just in time to open the doors to people.

now why, you might ask, was it so important to have all this gear?

because POCO was playing the party.

(those unfamiliar with the band and with my ties with them can go back here for a not-so-short refresher course)

dorothy and her family had really pulled out all the stops for this. and it was contingent upon there being a sound system for them to play through.

well, we pulled it off. and i had enough room (since i’d managed to get help with some of the bigger items) to bring my drums along. since the band was playing as a trio (without a drummer), i floated the possibility of sitting in on drums…and got the thumbs up.

i was going to be playing with my heroes.

after the equipment was set up, we did a short soundcheck – after which paul looked over at me with a big grin on his face and said, “there’s one for your bio!”

we chuckled for a bit, then dissipated to wait for the guest of honor to arrive – after he came in and stumbled around in a stupor for a few minutes absorbing what was happening, the band played a few songs as a trio, and then we all broke for dinner. after dinner, the band played “happy birthday” to charlie as they cut the cake, and then we did a rather long set together afterward…started with cajun moon…relatively easy song, good one to start….

then rusty mentions made of stone and how i cut the song on my album and asks me to sing it! so he summons me over and sets me up with an acoustic and we do made of stone together with the guys singing harmony while i took the lead.

i think i remembered all the words in order this time…the first time i ever played the song in front of rusty, that wasn’t the case (this was at the in-store at the nashville tower records location mentioned in the linked entry above.)

it was a moment, to be sure.

after that, rusty asked me to do another song…i blurted out “indian summer” and headed back to the drumkit…he meant for me to keep playing guitar, i think, but i was more comfortable behind the drums for this show. it was rather low-key, and there were certainly enough capable guitarists in this band as it was. i was enjoying playing drums with them – it had been in the back of my mind ever since jon called me from springfield when george fell ill, and i had felt that, since that time, i would have had a shot at filling in for george during his illness if i’d gone to the show with jon when he invited me.

but, all that aside – we finished the set some time later after having trotted through a handful of poco classics and a couple of songs that i don’t think too many people have heard them do – “twist and shout” and “what i’d say”, for instance – before we called it a night.

lots of handshaking and smiles later, the car was loaded and wendy and i were on our way back south through the insane new jersey traffic.

as the adrenaline settled in a bit and we were able to relax, i told her, “i’m really glad you came along tonight.”

“thanks,”, she said. “why?”

“because you understand this. you get how important this was to me. and frankly, i don’t know that it’s really hit home with me yet…but i know that you know. thank you.”

wendy is very much a part of the extended poco family – people know her when we show up at events or at parties, and the band remembers her…hell, we went to a poco show on our honeymoon…and we’d entertained thoughts of asking richie furay to marry us at one point. this poco family is as much hers as it is mine now…

it’s now 1:30 am, and i must, must, MUST go to bed.

spent the last night, rocky mountain way…

now playing: ambrosia, “how much i feel”

well, the weekend is over – but the kind of day its’ been hasn’t provided much space for relief from the stresses of the last week. email is limping, and we’re contemplating where to move user archives and the like, and the tape drive that we use for our backups is broken. big time. with a tape stuck in it.

it’s monday.

anyway, i bolted out of work on friday to sprint downtown for the eagles show, and got there just in time to be escorted in with the folks who were there for the joe walsh meet and greet – i had cooked up a scheme to get out of having to go to the show afterward, but it backfired on me…i was going to sell the ticket i bought for the show after the meet and greet was finished, but the person that was supposed to buy it either didn’t show up or was swallowed up in the throngs of people – i don’t know which. but one of the people that i met at the meet and greet was michael anthony smith of the river, whom i didn’t know to be who he was until after we’d talked about guitars for some time…but they talked me into staying for the show once it became apparent that i wasn’t going to be able to get out of it, and in retrospect, i’m kinda glad i did. it was a long show…started at eight, and clocked in at over three hours with an intermission…and i was sitting about thirty feet from the side of the stage that joe and steuart smith were sharing. in that respect, it was more like a guitar clinic than a concert – i could see everything that was going on pretty clearly from where i sat, and the sound was pretty amazing. their vocals are still pretty unreal.

they played a lot of older songs, including one of these nights, which surprised me – and they did a pretty fiery version of don henley‘s dirty laundry that included a joe walsh guitar solo that just took my head off. he was really fired up.

during the time backstage, joe made a point of introducing himself to everyone there, and signed autographs and posed for pictures, even though it had been stated unequivocally that there would be no such shenanigans during the time he had to spend with us. after he’d gotten a chance to meet everyone, he talked about upcoming eagles shows and said that once the eagles tour is over, there were plans for a james gang reunion and tour, most likely to include some USO shows for the troops. he seemed like he could possibly be the most unaffected of the lot, although i have nothing upon which to base that comparison…but he was genuinely nice to everyone who came back to see him, and he apologized for not being more involved with discussions on his website – and then he went out and played with the band for three hours.

in the time since the concert, i’ve had four or five people tell me that they saw me on the projection screen on joes’ “helmet cam” – which cracks me up. i didn’t think there was anything so distinctive about my mug that would allow someone to pick it out of a throng of people on a jumbotron at a concert – unless it was just sheer size that made it stand out.

all in all, it was a great night – until i tried to strike up a conversation with joe’s guitar tech.

when i saw him from my seat, he looked an awful lot like mike detemple, and i asked him if that’s who he was…and he proceeded to tell me a few choice reasons why i had no reason to think that he was who i thought he was. i told him then that i’d only ever seen pictures of him – he runs ads in vintage guitar every month, and that’s the only reason i thought –

– but he cut me off right there…and said, in his thick british accent, “i know who ‘e fuckin’ is, man!”

and before he finished, i just turned around and walked away…since i think that’s what he was going for in the first place.

uncle rico revisited

 

now playing: firefall, “so long”

the first thing i did this morning when i got settled in at work was to set up a newwinamp playlist…i went through my abridged mp3 collection on my jukebox computer at work and found roughly a hundred songs that fit todays’ criteria, which is nothing newer than 1979…no exceptions. and i made a conscious decision to leave out the eagles, fleetwood mac, and any other bands that are too synonymous with that time for me. it’s all one hit wonders and artists who never made the kind of impact on the charts at any other time that they did during the end of the seventies. we’ve got jim photoglo in there…firefall, obviously…little river bandambrosia, and so on and so forth…now, i did let bob seger squeak through, but that was about it. no superstars – just the “bubbling under the hot 100” kinds of acts that i used to hear on the radio all the time when i was just beginning to explore the complexities of life as a teenager.

(maybe it goes without saying, but there are no songs on this list from the saturday night fever soundtrack, either…damn, i hated that stuff when i was a kid…)

that’s where i’m gonna live today, then, in my head – 1978 or so. when my problems were a lot more insignificant than they are now…when i was learning my way around our new junior high school and starting to discover girls and rock and roll at the same time – and found that rock and roll was much more alluring and a lot easier to understand than the opposite sex…before i had any idea what being a grownup entailed, and before i had any idea just how insignificant the problems i had then would be when compared to some of the issues we face as adults.

they had just built the junior high school the year before i went there, and at the time it was a pretty modern building – now, it’s pure camp..but back then, it was pretty awesome. the cafeteria-slash-auditorium was in the center of the thing, and all the classrooms were “pods” that shot off the center of the thing…they were all circles that surrounded the one big circle – made it pretty easy to navigate, once you knew which classes were in which “pods”. with the exception of a couple of fights i got into, i had a pretty normal existence at school, i think…good friends, the occasional crush that never really blossomed into anything – tammy daniels, who lived across a field from my house and rode my bus to school – she was really cute, but she was another one for whom terminal mutual shyness was a problem. kelly finch, whom i’ve talked about here before…but i digress.

where real life is concerned, though, i have a ton of phone calls to make in conjunction with an affair on sunday – i have to try to arrange transportation for a PA system and backline for a show, i have to make sure that all my help is onboard, and i have to coordinate my directions with my friend jon and call around to borrow a couple of things that i don’t have for this deal.

i should be excited about this, and honestly – if i hadn’t made a commitment to my friends that i’d do this, i probably wouldn’t go at all.

after this is over and i’m able to discuss it openly, you’ll think i’m fuckin’ insane for having made that statement.

christ, i’m not even feeling any kind of anticipation about the joe walsh meet and greet tonight. i should be stoked…he’s one of the reasons i decided to learn to play guitar. he makes it look like so much fun…and he always manages to play the perfect part for whatever he’s playing, and he never overplays – and that’s an important ethic to me.

i should be a lot more excited about getting to meet him than i feel at the moment…but i don’t seem to find much joy in anything these past few days. the weight of everything that’s going on around me right now is getting to be a bit much.

but…when this is over, i’m sure i’ll sing a slightly different tune.

more motor madness

 

now playing: jann arden, “shooting horses”

feast or famine, man…feast or famine.

i’m not sure just exactly what i’ve done to myself here, but i just committed over the phone last night to close to a dozen solo acoustic gigs. i was double-recommended for this particular adventure by both mike noecker from shame and by dave cullen – which is something of an honor…it’s always good to be highly thought of by ones’ peers, i think. the first of them starts the first week of april, and they run into july as it stands right now.

i’m strangely excited by the prospect of doing this again…i mean, it’s been quite some time since i’ve done solo acoustic work with any kind of regularity. the last few times i’ve done solo gigs were at a labor day party and at my friend roger’s surprise birthday party, and not much else since the waning days of the mutual angels era…and for the most part, i can’t say that i’ve missed it.

now, though, faced with the prospect of working in that vein again, i’m actually feeling pretty good about it. the contact guy has been really nice to deal with, and the room has an excellent reputation. it’ll be interesting, though, to see how what i do translates now. it feels like a million years ago that i did this on a regular basis.

last night, i sat down and did an ebay search for “vanagon” to get a feel for what was out there and what they were going for – i guess i could say that i was a little encouraged by what i saw, in terms of what some similar to mine were going for…a little encouraged. that’d be about it.

it was my hope that this thing was gonna last long enough for me to put a sticker on it, but i’m starting to have my doubts…now i’ve got issues with the transmission refusing to shift when it should, and at this point i’m feeling pretty strongly that it’d take a pretty solid offer to get that thing out from under my original idea of driving it to the scrapyard and pulling a sledgehammer from the back and pummeling it until i have no more strength left….then taking a nap and pummeling it some more.

i can’t wait to be rid of that treacherous motherfucker.

yesterday, though, i was talking to chris, and she offered to let me borrow her honda civic until the van is operable…the only catch was that the inspection on it ran out in february (she hasn’t used it, and it was sitting in the driveway all winter…so it wasn’t a negligence issue – she just doesn’t drive it). that meant that, of course, the registration had expired as well. so i went online and she gave me her information over the phone to get the registration updated, but i still have to get it in for inspection before some eagle-eyed officer of the law sees me in it and he goes through the famous warner brothers cartoon “dollar signs replacing his pupils” transformation as he’s pulling me to the curb. driving it back to reading last night under cover of darkness wasn’t so stressful – driving it this morning was a different story. i’m pretty sure that it’ll need, at a minimum, rear brakes and some exhaust work to pass inspection – normal wear and tear stuff…but that’d be cheaper than renting another gaudy-assed PT cruiser for a week. i’m not gonna count the teeth on the gift horse – it’s a weight off my shoulders not to have to worry so much about the van having to be back up and running right this minute for a change.

that doesn’t address the larger problem of finding something reliable and permanent…but i think i’ll be ready for that soon.

wendy and i have both been too distracted by other issues this week to interact very much – she’s got a huge report due for the state at the end of the month, and there’s a meeting scheduled on monday to outline what the plans are for dealing with an upcoming merger of the township where her library is and an adjacent township – apparently, there’s a regulation on the books that says that a municipality cannot have two fully functioning libraries – one must become a branch of the other. wendys’ library has been there the longest, while the other townships’ library is the equivalent of a MASH field hospital at the moment…but i know she’s worried about what happens with her job as and after the dust settles. as for me, i’ve got a pretty important day lined up on sunday, and my perpetual vehicular woes are compounding with every little thing that goes wrong. every time something else breaks, i feel that much more like an asshole for continuing to nurse this piece of shit along. if i had back every cent i’d sunk into it over the past year, it wouldn’t be difficult at all to buy something a lot nicer.

in fact, i’ve pretty much resolved myself to selling it once it’s drivable and i can snap some pictures in the daylight to get it up on the ‘net. i don’t even care anymore about it passing inspection. at this point, getting it ready for a sticker is more effort than i’m willing to put into it.

and the funk that it inspires is creeping into every corner of my brain.

it must die. soon.

seriously, i should be on a cloud right now. i’ve got the shop to myself for the rest of the week, i just got a nice batch of solo acoustic work that’ll last through the spring into the summer, i’m going to get to meet one of my guitar heroes tomorrow night, and then there’s this sunday thing…

i should be at the top of my game…but this van shit has become a fucking emotional ball and chain around my neck that refuses to let me take any joy in any of that. it’s pretty goddamn sad.

i will try to set that aside for the time being, though.

i’m not sure why, but i’m finding myself strangely affected by the song it might be you by stephen bishop lately…it just makes me sad. that song used to remind me of one of my high school crushes, cheryl worley. she was one of those girls that i used to love to look at – she was sooo pretty, but she was hard to talk to. i don’t think it was because she didn’t want to talk to me so much as because she just didn’t seem to have anything to say…lots of one word answers and such. she was smart, though…just not much of a conversationalist. she had a great smile and the whole shy thing just melted me…but i was so timid that i wasn’t able to connect with her – and those kinds of crushes don’t have much of a shelf life.

i don’t know why that song is making a comeback…but that one and romeo and juliet by dire straits…and infinity by willy porter…there are a few real zingers in my playlist today.

so tired…i can’t remember the last time that midnight found me somewhere other than in bed. i’m already feeling as though i could sleep, and it’s not even dark outside yet.

well…maybe it’s time to call the kids and see what the plan is for this evening…