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September 2007
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November 2007

Pat "Jazz Butcher" Fish Live In London

Once again, I was in London on business and was able to take in a live gig by Pat "The Jazz Butcher" Fish at the famous 12 Bar Club on Denmark Street.  This time around, I brought a decent camera, my Canon G9, and was able to capture some photos and video, now on YouTube.  It was an all-acoustic gig --just Pat, his guitar and a couple of effects pedals.  Still, you got to see a glimpse of the man's range as a musician and songwriter, moving gracefully from humor to heartbreak and back again.  As good as this gig was, it left me wanting for more.  But for now, I'll just have to make due with some of the Jazz Butcher CD's from Amazon

One nice change since the last gig in April is that London's bars and restaurants now have a smoking ban in effect.  So instead of me having to go outside every 20 minutes for fresh air, it was the smokers who went out!  Also, it was nice to see the Reading branch of the Pat Fish fan club out in full force.  Thanks to Nigel and Dominic for the drinks.  See you again next time, guys!


Radiohead: Name Your Price

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Radiohead's latest album "In Rainbows" is available online for... whatever price you want to pay.  That's right, you can download the album and decide yourself whether it's worth £1 or £100.  For Radiohead fans, my guess is that many will plunk down the typical cost of a CD.  For newcomers, maybe much less.  Poll surveys indicate that the average sale price is just under £4, or around $8 USD, though some sources say the actual results are much less and possibly less than the band would make from a standard CD publishing deal.  Still, first day sales were over 1.2 million units

It's an interesting experiment, but it's not about altruism; Radiohead is not abandoning the rights to their music or becoming a charity.  But still, it's nice to see a major band cut out the middleman and thumb their nose at the traditional music labels. 

Note that you can also order a deluxe box-set version ($80) which will be available in December and it's likely a regular CD version will be available in 2008.


Kid Rock: Rock n Roll Jesus

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While I'm not the biggest Kid Rock fan in the world (or of Rap in general), I'm very impressed with his newest CD Rock n Roll Jesus.  It's a balls-out rock album; arguably the best of the year.  I admit, I was skeptical at first.  But it rocks hard from the opening title track and rarely lets up for air.  The songs continue to grow on me after many listens. 

There's a broad range of rock songs here from the hard-rocking "Amen," "Low-life and "Guilty" to the soulfull "Roll On" with a beautiful gospel backing vocals.  (Check out the YouTube video clip below.)  "New Orleans" is a great song that could do more to revitalize that city than any high-profile tourism program.  "Blue Jeans and a Rosary" delivers a country-tinged rock balad.  With such a broad range of rock styles, no wonder Kid Rock's been on the cover of everything from Rolling Stone to Blender in recent weeks. 

Maybe like my recent fave the Junk rock opera by Sweden's Brainpool, the reason is that Kid Rock's album is deeply immersed in the sounds and textures of classic 70's rock.  The CD is an homage to such legendary rock bands as AC-DC, the Rolling Stones, Bob Seger, Allman Brothers, and others.  Producer Rick Rubin has helped take Rock's energy and song-writing skills and shape them make a breakthrough album that is genuine and compelling. 

There's a spooky tribute to the piano riff from Warren Zevon's "Wherewolves of London" combined with "Sweet Home Alabama" in his Bob Seger style "All Summer Long."  It sounds weird but it works better than you can imagine.  One caution: there's a lot of cursing in this album and it's a bit off-putting.  And while I have do doubt that Rock's "Half Your Age" is therapeutic for a guy who suffering the heartbreak of a disastrous high-profile relationship with Pamela Anderson, to me it's a novelty song that stands out for its lacks of gravitas compared to the rest of the album.

But these are minor quibbles in a great album.  The songs are fresh and new, not a bunch of re-hashed covers.  So forget the new Springsteen album, get Rock n Roll Jesus.  Now.


Too Much Too Late

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I just finished Marc Spitz's rock and roll novel "Too Much Too Late."  Despite the promising circa-1979 cover art, it's about a fictional band called the Jane Ashers (don't ask) from the 1990's that implodes before success and then reunites again 13 years later as a bunch of middle-age misfits.  And then they implode once again. 

Spitz's background as a rock writer at SPIN magazine serves him well and he captures the excitement and chaos of rock and roll.  However, the story itself feels too convuluted and as its spread out over so many years, it doesn't have the intensity that it should.  Imagine if in the middle of watching The Commitments it paused for a ten year hiatus.  As a result you never really get any deep understanding of the characters.  He throws in some cliche's about drugs, missing fathers and lust for a teenage blogger, but it doesn't make up for the overall story.  Might make a good movie if they tightened it up.


Sex Pistols Reunite for UK Tour

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To commemorate the 30th anniversary of punk, the Sex Pistols are reuniting for a limited number of gigs in the UK in November including London, Manchester and Glasgow.  There's also a private gig in Los Angeles October 25th to kick things off.  The Pistols will play Hollywood's Roxy club sponsored by Guitar Hero and Indie 103.1 radio where guitar player Steve Jones has a radio show. The band also recently re-recorded two songs (Pretty Vacant and Anarchy in the UK) for the upcoming video game Guitar Hero III.

Unfortunately, I'll be in London when they're in LA and in the US when they're in London. Argh!  So I hope they turn this into a full blown US tour next year. 

Update: Check out the promo video and interviews with John Lydon and Steve Jones for Guitar Hero III.  You can also buy the newly recorded singles as well as the original Bollocks album on iTunes. 


Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush - Moe's Alley

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Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush played a great show at  Moe's Alley in Santa Cruz with a packed audience of several hundred people.  I last saw Frank Marino in concert nearly thirty years ago in Montreal, and he's still rocking hard and LOUD!  The audience included many of Marino's long-time fans.  In fact, they were chanting for Frank before the show started.  They were not disappointed.  Though Marino's bandmates are young, they have been well-schooled and played impeccably through the more than two hour show.  The set included several songs from Marino's classic live albums such as Hendrix's Red House, the hit single Dragon Fly (my favorite), Strange Universe, Poppy as well as great medley of She's Not There and Crossroads. 

Twenty-five year old guitar player Avi Ludmer played a great rhythm guitar alongside Marino and also picked up the electric violin to provide an interesting counter point on some of the jams.  The rhythm section drums and bass were incredibly tight and kept up through all the various changes during the set from classic rock and roll, blues, progressive fusion, and some pretty freaky eastern sounding tones.  It was really a mix of styles.  And while I didn't care for some of the the eastern sounds (too atonal for me) it's still pretty impressive to see and hear that sound come out of an electric guitar.  Also, there was a cool sixties vintage old-school psychadelic light show. 

The only negative vibe was the road crew seemed pretty nervous about anyone shooting video and threatened to confiscate cameras.  Which is  a shame, because I think it would open more people's eyes and ears to Marino's unique style.  But if that's what the boss man wants, I respect it. 

Here are some more photos from the show available on PicasaWeb

If you remember Frank Marino from the old days or if you want to one of the great all-time top guitar players this is a great opportunity.  The current tour takes Marino and his band across the US to Chicago,Vegas, Santa Ana, Phoenix, Austin, Dallas, Annapolis, Nasheville, Atlanta and beyond.


Shane Dwight - Moe's Alley

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Blues guitarist Shane Dwight played a rare acoustic set as the opening act for guitar superstar Frank Marino at Moe's Alley in Santa Cruz a couple of weeks back.  It's not easy to be the opening act for an act with such a hard core following, but Shane did a good job.  He did some original music and a few classic blues numbers and wrapped up pretty quickly.  Take a look at the video below I posted on YouTube to get a taste of Shane's acoustic blues style. (Sorry for the camera shake!)


G.E. Smith Telecaster

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Earlier this year, Fender announced a long overdue G.E. Smith signature Tele.  Smith is a respected "master of the Telecaster" and probably most famous for his role as front man and emmy-winning musical director for the Saturday Night Live band, a gig he did for 10 years.  Smith was always recognizable with his long blond pony tail, his white shirt, tie, suspenders and his scorching guitar licks.  During that time, he also toured for four years with Bob Dylan flying back to do the SNL gigs on Saturdays. Over the years he's played, recorded or toured with the likes of Buddy Guy, Hall & Oates, Mick Jagger, David Bowie and many others.  In short, he's one of the all-time best "guns for hire" blues and rock guitarists around.  Not only is he a superb guitar player, he's an all-round musician and a heckuva nice guy. 

Smith began playing guitar at the age of 4, got good at 7 (!) and got his first Telecaster at the age of 11.  That was a '52 model, the year of his birth, and he's been playing vintage Telecasters and Fender amps of one sort or another ever since.  He modified his original Tele after picking up a '48 Fender lap steel guitar and noticing how the shortened bridge and direct mounted pickup gave it a fatter sound.

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Fender worked with Smith to recreate this model right down to the classic U-shaped neck along with the shortened bridge and direct mount pickup.  For under $1500 this is an awesome instrument. It's available in a lipstick red color or the more traditional honey blonde.  Check out the YouTube video below to learn more about Smith's signature model and his nearly 50-year love affair with the classic Telecaster sound.   

G.E. Smith is currently on tour with jam-band supergroup Moonalice, along side Jack Casady, Barry Sless, Pete Sears, Jimmy Sanchez and Roger & Ann McNamee.