Free Books

I learned this yesterday and took advantage of it today.  If you are an audible member, Neil Peart’s books are currently on sale for… free.  This doesn’t include Clockwork Angels or Clockwork Lives as those are technically Kevin Anderson’s.  I think it’s a nice little treat for fans, but I hope audible/amazon is still sending Neil’s royalty checks to his family.

I am hoping Rush has a few live records in the can that they can sneak out in the years to come.  I want Neil’s family to be looked after.  I know they have been releasing anniversary, deluxe editions of some records.  I hope that continues.  I will probably buy them rather than just listen to them on Apple Music or Spotify.  I remember hearing people bitch about how Pink Floyd was always releasing compilations.  There was a reason for it that wasn’t obvious though.  All of those comps had at least one or two Syd Barrett songs.  They were always finding ways to re-issue his music so that his Floyd related income never dried up.  They were trying to look after him without interfering in his life.  Those releases never moved big numbers, but it was enough to help Syd and his family.  I hope so at least.  I’d hate to learn otherwise.

Anyway, if you’re an audible member I recommend Ghost Rider.  I know I’ve read at least one other book too, but I can’t remember which one.  I think it was Far and Away.  I bought it, started reading it, and realize I’d already read the whole thing.  Well, a lot of it at least.  Neil was a blogger and that book, if that’s the book I am thinking it is, was made up of old blog posts.

Someone pointed out the other day that we probably should have known something was wrong in the Peart camp because it had been a long time since he updated his website.  He had his blog but he also shared recipes and had a sort of book club thing, if I remember it right.  I hadn’t heard of any new posts there for a long time.  In hindsight it feels like he was circling the wagons.

Anyway, listen to his music and read his books.

I took my photo a day picture this morning.  It was another record player picture.  138/365, call it Moving, Moving Pictures.

138/365 - Moving Moving Pictures

Nervous

Okay, I’m a little nervous. We have a gig on February 1st.  Given that we took the holidays off that means we have had one practice over the last month and we will only have two more before the 1st.  Now it looks like there might be a conflict this Sunday.  We are hoping to move the rehearsal to Saturday but there is a snow storm in the forecast.  Monday is a holiday and I have it off, I think I’m the only one, so I don’t have my long commute to worry about.  We should be able to have our usual 6:00 start time if the weather doesn’t cooperate on Saturday.  I don’t think we’re going to miss one of our two remaining weekends but like I said, I’m nervous.  We won’t be adding any new songs, but we are hoping to polish off the handful that we added in 2019 without ever playing to an audience.  I have some wood shed time ahead of me, for sure.

On the plus side, our singer told us he bought a new digital mixing board today.  One that we can control with an iPad app.  Does that mean we will turn into one of those bands and all of us will have iPads on stage with us?  Maybe.  Larry and I had a completely unrelated discussion the other day about in-ear monitors.  I would say this is the time to start experimenting with them, but sweet christmas they can get expensive.  No thanks.  If I happen to find a reasonably priced set that fits into my gigantic head (literally, not figuratively) that can also take the place of my ear plugs then maybe, but I don’t see that happening.  Greg uses an in-ear and said it cost him $600.  From what I have seen, that is cheap.  Nope.

Allow me to give some credit here.  In the last few months Greg has really come through for us in the P.A. system department.  I have a mountain of gear that I can bring to the band table, but a good P.A. system is not included.  Greg has stepped up and helped out in a big way.  Now we just have to book gigs so we can use all of the new stuff.

Change of subject, I mentioned the other day that my Uncle was having surgery.  It was actually a triple bypass.  We found out today that he is now off of the ventilator, which is good, but he still has a long way to go before he recovers.  On top of that my mother was having a bad night last night and there was talk of taking her to the ER.  Fortunately she improved and the hospital was not necessary.  It’s been a tough couple of weeks for her and her siblings.  Her older sister spent some time in the hospital a week or so ago, and her younger sister might have to go back on chemotherapy after being in remission for years.  Pardon me, oh universe, but do you have to be a dick to all of them at once?

As I typed that last sentence, the sun broke through the clouds.  Is that a sign?  Is the universe messing with my head?  Dick.

So Neil Peart mentioned me in one of his books.  Not really.  In Ghost Rider he tells a story of a stop on the Test for Echo Tour in 1997 where his daughter, Selena, joined him and his riding buddy, Brutus, on a between gig motorcycle adventure.  She met up with him at a show at Great Woods in Mansfield, MA.  Yup, you guessed it.  I was there.  June 23, 1997 to be exact.  Neil Peart, Selena Taylor, Brutus McTrash (that’s his name on facebook, if I remember correctly), and I were all in the same room at the same time.  Granted there were something like 12,000 other people with us, including Mike and Maria.  I don’t think Maria was there with us, we didn’t start the band with her until after that, but I know she was there.  In the story they left Mansfield and drove North into Maine and then the next day hopped onto their motorcycles and explored the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  Pretty much the same thing my wife and I do a couple of times a year.  The difference being our vehicle has four wheels and theirs had two.  Given that Neil’s publishing career was made up of all travel books, I would say that he had good taste in road trips, which means Jen and I have good taste in road trips too.  Yeah, we rule.

I’m still doing the photo a day thing over on Flickr.  This morning before work I took the three minutes I should have spent shaving and took a couple of pictures.  This one is the outtake.  You’re welcome.

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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.

Rush — Time Stand Still (not) Review

My wife and I watched the new Rush documentary, Time Stand Still the other night and it made me sad.

The film documents the R40 tour from 2015. If you remember, when the management announced the tour it was alongside a rumor that it would probably be the last major tour the band would do. As things wore on that changed to the last tour the band would do. It was stressed that it didn’t necessarily mean the band was splitting up, just that they were too old (they are all in their 60’s now) to want to go on large tours anymore. They said that one off shows and new records were still possible though. That eased the pain a little.

Then on the last night of the tour, in Los Angeles, Neil Peart did something he never ever does. When the show ended, he walked to the front of the stage, grabbed the other two guys, and took a bow. It sounds silly, but knowing Neil Peart… that was a really bad sign. Not long after that he posted a blog where he said his daughter, when asked what her dad did for a living, answered that he was a retired drummer. Uh oh.

Now we have the documentary, and although they once again never said that “It Is Over”, it was so clearly the case. Rush is done. I would be stunned if there were ever more shows, or more records, or more anything outside of archival releases. There might be solo records, especially from Geddy Lee who seemed the least ready to pack it in, but Rush as a thing seems pretty much over.

The whole thing made me really sad. Not because the band was breaking up, but it was something deeper and more personal than that. Jen asked me to describe how I was feeling and I tried, but I don’t know if I pegged it exactly.

I first heard Rush when I was 10 years old. A classmate brought a tape recorder and a dub of Exit Stage Left to school and a bunch of us sat around his desk and listened to it. I liked what I heard enough to save up my money and buy a copy for myself. I loved it. I didn’t know why. I didn’t have the musical language to understand what I was hearing, I just knew that it was something I had never even imagined was out there and it had a power. It had something that I needed to be a part of.

As I got older, being a Rush fan started to define me. My friends were mostly Rush fans too, and if they weren’t they were still either budding musicians, or passionate music fans. All through my teens and 20’s the obsession continued to grow. Then in my 30’s, something unexpected happened. I fell in love, and the woman I fell in love with liked Rush too and was not only willing to go see them, but was willing to travel around to see them. We went to multiple shows each tour, hitting New York and Connecticut multiple times, but also Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. We planned a few Las Vegas and California trips, but they never panned out. Once we went to Ontario to see them but missed the show. As great as the trips were, even better was the idea that this goofy obsession that I had been feeding since childhood morphed into something that I could share with the woman I loved. It became more than just a part of me. It became a part of us. That was something I never expected, and something more wonderful than I had ever considered. I am so thankful to my wife for sharing all of this with me.

And now that part of my life is over.

We still have the mountain of music, and all the fun memories that will always be there. There just won’t be any new memories, and that makes me a little sad.

I totally get it though, and for Neil Peart at least I have been expecting this for a while. A few years ago Bill Bruford celebrated his 60th birthday by retiring from music. His reasoning was that he was still at the top of his game, but at any moment he was going to be physically unable to play the drums at the level he had come to expect from himself and he was unwilling to be less than his best. The minute I heard that, I knew that soon enough we would be hearing Neil Peart say the exact same thing. Peart lasted a little longer before saying it, but he said it. The guy is the best there has ever been at his instrument. To expect him to be willing to be less than that is pretty silly. I get it, and I back him up 100%. Go out on top. Hell, we’d all do it if the circumstances would let us. I completely respect the guy’s decision, it just sucks for the rest of us.

So I am no longer holding out hope for some future records or shows. I have accepted the fact that Rush is no more. I wish those guys the best in everything they do from here on. I just want to reiterate the fact that for the rest of us… it sucks.

The Professor Calls it Quits

In 2009 English prog rock/jazz drummer Bill Bruford was about to have his 60th birthday and he did something unexpected. He retired.

Neil Peart, a well known Bill Bruford fan, was probably sitting at home reading the news and thinking: Life goal. Retire at 60. I don’t know whether or not that actually happened, but I’ve always imagined that’s how it went down.

That was six years ago. Neil Peart is now 63. It’s about three years late, but it’s finally happened. The Professor has announced his retirement.

I’m happy for him without actually being happy, if you know what I mean. It pleases me very much that we got to see Rush on the R40 tour as it now pretty much looks like Rush is done for good.

I am sad. Very sad. But also pretty happy that I got as much great music and as many great shows as I did.

Thanks, Professor.

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2010-09-14 - Rush at TD Garden 986

Rush @ Manchester 7-11-08 038

Rush 7-5-08 Saratoga Springs, NY 021