Musical Stuff

Band practice was a bust last night.  Mike’s bass was slightly damaged during his cellar flood a couple of weeks ago.  It’s in the shop.  We are hopeful it will survive, but maybe a little part of us is also hopeful that it won’t survive and he’ll be forced to buy that Rickenbacker 4001 he’s been dreaming of since high school.  I brought my cheapo-ebay special Squire P-Bass so he could use it if needed, but my bass is actually in worse shape than his.  Playing in tune was out of the question, so we sat around for two hours throwing out ideas for new songs to cover.

I was listening to a podcast on the drive home tonight.  It’s put out by the fine folks at CD Baby and it’s called DIY Musician Podcast.  The topic this week is, Is your age an obstacle to music success.  I guess, and the podcast agreed, that the answer to that question depends on how you define success.  Is success being able to make music full time?  Is success being able to tour the world?  Is success being able to bang groupies while doing blow off a passed out hooker’s behind like an 80’s hair metal band?  Not for me.

If I get to define what success is for me, then I am an unbelievably successful musician.  I’m a couple of weeks shy of my 46th birthday and I played four gigs in the last year.  That’s more than most of my bands played during their entire lifetime back during my 20’s.  If I remember correctly, the next gig will tie Lizardfish for the most gigs ever played by any band I’ve been in.  Break Even played five.  I’m really stretching my memory here, but I think the band I played in in High School might have done eight or nine.  However, four were with the one main line up.  The four or five others were with variations on that lineup.  The band Mike and I had with Maria the drummer as well as a number of different singers was by far the best band for my taste as it was the only one that was all original, but it only played two gigs.  El Pez Lagarto has played four gigs since I joined, and has three more booked.  That’s amazing to me.  In my eyes that makes us supremely successful!  Now if we could just start doing the occasional original song.  That would be icing on the cake.

I am going to start mic’ing up the room during band practices again and trying to make decent sounding rehearsal tapes.  I haven’t mentioned it to the band yet, but I think I might want to try recording a show as well.  All the more reason to start slipping in original songs.  How about an EP of original music titled, Live at Racks: Bootleg.  I see a hit in our future.  Now I just need to get those songs written and rehearsed and my little idea for recording a show needs to be practical and the band has to go along with it.  No problem.  (yes, problems.  everywhere problems.)

Steve Hackett has a new album.  It’s on Spotify.  After me posting all of my crappy songs back in February, here is an example of what a real guitar player sounds like.

Enjoy.

Yes with Geddy Lee

The best part of this video is knowing that Geddy Lee is playing along with some of his heroes, and while he appears cool he is probably freaking out with glee on the inside.

No Bill Bruford on the stage, but he’s retired so I didn’t expect to see him.  No Tony Kaye either.  I don’t know what his story is.  Trevor Rabin is half everyone else’s age but he’s starting to look old.

Geddy Lee is more than a replacement for the late great Chris Squire.  There’s nothing missing on the bass guitar front.  Still… the lack of Chris Squire’s harmony vocals is a Titanic sized hole in this performance.  Hell, you could fly a planet through the Squire sized hole.  Rest in peace, Chris Squire.

RIP Chuck Berry

They called Elvis Presley the King of Rock and Roll, but I think everyone always knew that was bullshit.  Yes, Elvis was amazing and yes he did more to spread Rock and Roll to the masses than anyone.  He is deserving of all the praise he’s received.

But let’s be honest.  Chuck Berry is the King of Rock and Roll.  When you line up all the greats who were there at the start, and there are a lot of them, Chuck Berry stands out the most.  He wrote tremendous riffs.  His lyrics were poetry at a time when most of his contemporaries were writing nonesense.  Most important to me, a guitar player, Chuck Berry was Rock and Roll’s first true instrumental hero.  Even with all the things that have come since, his playing still stands out.  He is a legitimate guitar hero.  Don’t believe me?  Go ask Keith Richards his opinion.  Go ask Eric Clapton.  If we still had them with us I’d say go ask George Harrison or Jimi Hendrix.  Chuck’s playing stands the test of time.

Chuck Berry died today at the age of 90.  Yes, 90 years is a pretty good run, but I was hoping we’d get to keep him around for another 40-50 years at least.

Rest in Peace, Chuck Berry.

The Final RPM Challenge Post of 2014

Here it is kids, the (now) annual last official RPM Challenge post of the year.  I have uploaded this year’s stuff to my official RPM jukebox page.

Robert Parker’s RPM Challenge Music.

So there it is folks.  That page has three little flash playlists that contain my three officially submitted RPM Challenge projects.  This closes the book on February 2014.  I had a good time, despite being less than pleased with the end results.  There are a couple of decent moments.  One of the songs that I was really disappointed with is actually getting some love on alonetone.  I find that very weird.  Oh well.

I will keep plugging on more album-in-a-month zaniness, but RPM itself is over until next year.

Triumph

You can blame this one on my former band mate, Steve. He posted something about the band Triumph on Facebook the other day, and now I can’t stop listening to them.

They were the first band I ever saw live. My uncle took me. It was 1985, I think. It might have been 1986. They were, of course, the other three piece band from Toronto with a singer whose voice was so high only dogs could hear it. The difference between Triumph and Rush was that Rush seemed completely uninterested in the mainstream, while Triumph pretty much lived there. In the 70’s they were one of an infinite number of straight ahead heavy rock bands, but in the 80’s they got steadily slicker and more radio friendly. Back when I was in junior high and high school, I thought Thunder Seven (from 1984) and Allied Forces (from 1981) were the best records. I still think that’s true, but we can throw in Just a Game (from… ummm… was it ’78?) in there too. I think those records, mostly, still stand up. I was never into their first US record, Rock and Roll Machine. That was actually a compilation of their first two Canadian records. It just didn’t sound very good and at that time the recording quality meant a ton to me. Today, I give it a listen and think it’s okay and then put Thunder Seven back on. Never Surrender was another big one for them, but it seems to be a little weak to me today. The Sport of Kings (the album the were touring when I saw them) is just way too glossy 80’s for me now. There are a few good songs, but most of it sounds like the sort of thing Journey would have been pleased with. I can’t even listen to the last album they made, Surveillance I think it was called, but I couldn’t stomach it back when it came out either. Progressions of Power was from… 1980 maybe? That one seemed weak back then, and it still seems weak today. It’s not that bad, it just seems like a step down.

Here’s a video from the US Festival back in 1983. As I watch this, I recall that they had a stage show that was so huge you kind of imagine Pink Floyd looking at them and thinking, we got some work to do. I remember lasers and explosions and a flying drum set and all sorts of crazy arena rock stuff that Nirvana and Pearl Jam thankfully flushed down the toilet. At the time it was okay, I guess, but it took so much attention away from the music that I never missed that sort of thing. In this clip though, it’s a festival and they didn’t have their own stage show. They just played the music. Novel thought, eh? I remember Rik Emmett being one of the guys who wore his guitar up very high. That is actually the correct way to hold a guitar, even though it’s not nearly as cool as slinging it down by your waist. I don’t remember the way his hands were positioned though. His left hand seems to be holding the guitar WAY out in front of his body, and his right hand is almost coming at the strings from underneath. It looks weird and uncomfortable to me, but I can’t argue with the way he plays. Lightning fast and impeccably clean. Then there’s Gil Moore (was it Gil or Gill? Can’t remember. I think it was Gil). He also looks weird as he plays. I can’t quite put my finger on it. It’s almost like he’s seven feet tall and the drums are down below his knees. As for Mike Levine, he’s exactly as I remember him. He often looks like he’s going to fall over backward, but that’s just a good old fashioned 70’s rock posing for you.

Triumph – Fight the Good Fight at the US Festival in ’83.