Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Best Of 2009

Well, here it is … the end of another year, and as I check out all the blogs, magazines and radio shows, everyone is putting out their “Best Of 2009” – and hey … why should I be any different. So, here it is, my list of some of the best music that kept me smiling throughout 2009.

As you’ll notice, there are a few great bands that are missing from the list; Wilco, Justin Townes Earle … not to mention Justin’s Dad, The Avett Brothers, Slaid Cleaves, The Bottle Rockets and so many others who put out really great music this year. But, for whatever reasons, the following tracks are the ones that stuck with me.

CD Of The Year
Lucero: 1372 Overton Park

Hands down, my favorite record of the year. I was late to the party when it comes to Lucero, but – since the first night I saw them perform in Brooklyn a few years back – I have been riding on the bandwagon of the Memphis gang of believers. With this album, Lucero augmented their line up with a killer horn section (horn arrangements by Jim Spake - who has worked with Al Green, John Hiatt, Solomon Burke, Cat Power) – taking their runaway train style of rock and roll and blowing the roof off the joint. I’ve told folks that these guys sound like what the Replacements would have sounded like had they come from Memphis. But, the more I got into the band, the more I realized that Ben Nichol’s style of writing is more R&B/country, whereas Paul Westerburg was more pop. Live, I haven’t seen anyone outside of the E Street Band even come close to touching the power and emotion of their performance. Maybe that’s why in a list where everyone get’s one song … these guys get two.

Best Songs of 2009

“The Devil And Maggie Chascarrillo” – Lucero
Remember the first time you listened to rock and roll? I do. OK … maybe not the exact first moment … but I do remember the rush of Fogerty’s guitar blasting out of the speakers as that opening riff to “Up Around Then Bend” kicked my ass. Well, that’s how I feel when this tracks blows by. I defy you to listen to this track and not; 1) Turn Up The Volume & 2) Dance.

“Know Your Enemy” – Green Day
Bless these guys. They kept the flag from falling. There needs to be a band out there that knows how to mix pop sensibility, punk spirit, being pissed off at the government and still having fun. These guys accomplish it all with the added bonus of HUGE hooks.

“Gonna See My Friend” – Pearl Jam
I’ll admit it – I am not a big Pearl Jam fan. It seems that I love the “idea” of Pearl Jam more than I do the music. And with each new CD, I give them the benefit of the doubt. With this new record – I’ve found a great collection of songs that will keep be coming back.

“Country Roads” – Ryan Bingham
I have no idea how well this guy is doing with the Americana crowd … or the record buying public in general … but regardless of how good it is … it should be better. This CD is great (and I loved the first one as well). This track has such a great production, hook and vibe … aint that what we’re here for?

“I Need To Know Where I Stand” – Rhett Miller
Great lyrics, sing along hook, and a wide open production – I’m not sure why this needed to be a solo CD as opposed to an Old 97s – either way – this song works.

“Sulphur To Sugarcane” – Elvis Costello
T-Bone Burnett delivered a perfect setting for Mr. Costello’s lyrics. And, with the laid back approach to the backing tracks, the vocals have room to soar. Added bonus: listening to man sound like he’s having so much fun.

“Coal Wars” – Joshua James
In a year when so many acts got props for ‘great vocals’ – this song is the cream of the crop. On no other track this years did I hear such harmonies (and thankfully they kept them out of the most overused production toy: the echo-chamber). The vocals pull you in, the lyrics grab you – and by the time the band kicks in all bets are off.

“Water Spider” – The Duke And The King
I have such a soft spot in my heart for artists like this. There have been so many comparisons by critics trying to explain Simone Felice’s voice – that they’ve become useless. So I’ll just say that the vocals will make you believe … believe what you ask? You’ll believe that Jesus walked on water … and so did Marvin Gaye.

“To Ohio” - The Low Anthem
This CD caught me completely by surprise. When I first popped it in the player, I had no idea who these folks were. By the time I’d gone through it for the 15th time – they were destined for my Best of 2009.

“Joey’s Arm” – Sons Of Bill
“The South aint gonna rise again – but we’re holding out for Jesus – or so they say on AM radio.” Could be one of the best lines of 2009. If you are a fan of alt/country, this group will literally give you all the best parts of that genre.

“Girl From The Office” – Ian Hunter
To start; I loved Mott The Hoople. I loved Ian Hunters solo stuff. Now, he’s back with an introspective, low-key, solo CD. Start to finish - this CD is solid. Had it not been for Lucero; this most likely would have been my pick for CD of the year. The toughest decision was only picking one track.

“When Will I Be Loved” – John Fogerty & Bruce Springsteen
What can I say? Two of my faves having fun with one of the all time classic rocking/country tracks. No need to think about it … just sit back and enjoy the ride.

“To Find My Love” – Cross Canadian Ragweed
These guys deliver musically on every track they record. The songwriting comes and goes – but when it hits the mark, the results are amazing. On this track, it not only hits the mark – it’s a direct bulls-eye.

“That’s The Way The World Goes Around” – Miranda Lambert
CD#3 – and I still can’t get over how much I enjoy this artist. If there has ever been a person who I consider to have their “heart in the right place” – here she is. Her band smokes, her originals are pretty damn good, she wears her influences on her sleeve – and here, she’s having fun with an old John Prine track – I am on board for this trip.

“Sounds Of The City” – Lucero
Sweet Lord … this song kicks ass. The B3, the horns, the killer rhythm section … this kind of track is the reason I’ve spent the last 35 plus years loving rock and roll. Thanks, fellas!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

I Still Believe

OK Kids;

We here at the Brothers McC wear our hearts on or sleeves. We do it proudly and without apology. Sports, Film, TV, Politics, Religion ... you name it, we have an opinion about it. And, for the pricer of a pint, we're happy to tell you it ... all night long if we must.

But it's music that burns the hottest and deepest in our souls. And even through the three of us find plenty of common ground, there are still the acts that make us travel our separate ways. Knowing, in our hearts, that the other two brothers are idiots for not 'getting' what is so plain to see. Luckily ... this is not one of those cases. re: The David Johansen Group.

There was a time when there was no better band on the planet (with the humbled exception of one Mr. Springsteen) than The David Johansen Group. My brother and I would travel near and far to watch this band total destroy any and every stage that it stood upon. The songs were great, the music was loud & brash, and the band's live show felt like a runaway train, rolling downhill and closing in fast on a bridge that was out. No one knew what was gonna happen next ... and that's what made it all fun.

Well, the Senior Member of the Brothers McC dove back into those waters a few nights ago. And, without his permission, or permission from Major League Baseball, I will rebroadcast his thoughts.

I still believe.

David Jo In Trenton

I am leaving for a Thanksgiving run to Rhode Island in six hours. I just got back from seeing "An Evening With David Johansen" at The Trenton War Memorial. It was David and a four piece combo including Brian Koonin (Scott - you'd recognize him from early-mid 80's David Jo shows) as musical director. The entire crowd (80 to 100 graybeards) was seated on the stage. It was crazy intimate and the sound was fantastic (as possibly Scott, Reber and Michael could attest).

Of all the rock stars pushing 60 plus, I can only think of one who provides a bigger rush for me than David Jo, and that's Bruce. I believe David Johansen to be an incredibly under rated singer. He gets bashed for gruffness, but the guy can sing. Whether handling scuzzy glam rock, a menacing bossa nova reinvention of "Melody", classic blues or torchy jazz, David Jo brings heart, humor and soul to every note.

Opener "Funky But Chic" (schwing!) set my heart racing and my little fingers texting. I mean, it’s only the opening song on one of the five greatest rock and roll records ever made. I immediately thought of all the magical nights chasing David Jo around the quad state area of PA-NY-NJ-DE. From The Bottom Line (nothing like seeing DJ on his home turf) to The Fast Lane (Scott and I saw 1979 into 1980 with two shows and no dates, but at least that girl at our table flashed her tits at us at midnight) , from Ripley's (where I sang "Reach Out" with David Jo at one show and he personally shook the hand of every audience member at another) to Glassboro State College (with Blondie, Elvis Costello, Moon Martin and Marie O'Donnell), and from Alexander's (the drunkest show ever) to The Tally Ho (the Tally-fucking-Ho!), I remembered all the nights celebrating real rock and roll with the ultimate fun junkie. And mostly I thought of Scott, Beth (yeah we're still tight - don't even think about it) and Jim McNulty, because they shared many of those nights with me. And I had wished so much that they were there with me tonight. And if it's true you can't go home again, then it's just as true that it pays to get out the house once in a while.

The first (actually only) text was to my sister Beth and it said simply "Funky But Chic". And she knew. And I knew she knew. David Johansen held a mystical quality for us. He was an iconic legend but also the life of a party you couldn't believe you were invited to. It's similar to the feeling experienced at The Hold Steady shows over the last couple of years, but deeper and drunker and crazier, because being 22 and king of the world is a combination that just can't be beat.

I was aware of The Dolls but in 1972 they weren't my band. They were an exotic diversion with an allure and mystique that as a 15 year old went way over my head. But in May 1978, WMMR dj David Dye interviewed David Johansen just as his self titled debut was released and he was in town to play The Tower opening for Patti Smith. I remember David Dye played “Frenchette” (and I am forever in his debt) and later remarked to David Jo that it was a “great, dumb song”. Even though I had just heard the song for the first time, I knew what David Dye meant but I also thought that was selling the song short. David Jo politely disagreed, for the song is nothing less than the celebration of rock and roll. When all else fails and “we can’t get the kind of love that we need or that we want, let’s just dance”. Let’s rock and roll because there’s really nothing else to do. Because in 1978 and 1979, I needed David Johansen. I needed something to believe in. And I needed fun.

In Almost Famous, I always think of that first David Jo album when Sapphire (yeah Sapphire) talks about the band-aids and how they “truly love some silly little piece of music, or some band so much that it hurts.” For the first time in a long time, I felt that pain tonight.

So who’s with me this Saturday for “An Evening With David Johansen” in New York?

p.s. In typical Teek Time fashion, I got to the Tower that night in May 1978, got in line to buy a ticket and the guy in front of me was some record company mook with a mullet, who got his comps and then held one extra up and said “who wants it?” I still had hops back them and snagged that free row SS (about 20 rows back) bad boy. My concert karma was ON.

For those who have read this far, and seriously who would except Beth, Scott and McNult, below is tonight's set list. I scribbled it on a bunch of white space on an ad in the Sports Illustrated I brought to read because the concert going life of 52 year old rocker can sometimes be a solitary one. GEEEEEK!

And if you’re wondering why I sent this missive to you, it’s because all of you, at one time or another, believed or continue to believe.

Funky But Chic
Plenty of Music (Dolls – One Day)
Melody – slow vamp bossa nova
Boom Boom (John Lee Hooker)
Making Rain (Dolls – ‘Cause)
Rope (The Let Go Song)
Eight Men, Four Women (O.V. Wright) “I am crazy to sing this one”
Maimed Happiness (Dolls – One Day)
Better Than You (Dolls – ‘Cause)
Big City
Temptation to Exist (Dolls – ‘Cause)
Crazy For Love
New Song (“Don’t make me wonder”)
You Don’t Know What Love Is (Billie Holiday)
I Ain’t Got Nothin’ (Dolls – One Day)
Bohemian Love Pad
Take A Good Look At My Good Looks (Dolls – One Day)
Lookin’ For A Kiss
My Reverie (Sarah Vaughn / Tony Bennett)
Animals Medley

And I’m now leaving for RI in five hours. If I didn’t at least need a wee bit of sleep, I could have kept writing until dawn.

p.p.s. Don't forget to check out Teenage Kicks Top 100 of the decade.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Again ... Some Sports Stories Aren't About Sports

I really love when real men step up and surprise us!!!

Josh Cribbs walks with late coach's son on his senior night

In a dismal year for the Cleveland Browns, wide receiver/returner Josh Cribbs has proved to be one of the only bright spots. Last month he showed he's equally good off the field.

The Pro Bowler traveled to Berea, OH to walk onto the field on senior night with the son of one of his former college coaches. Michael Drake, a senior receiver at Stow High School, lost his father, Mike, in 2005 to lymphoma. He had assumed he'd be accompanied by his mother and sister for senior night introductions and was stunned when he saw Cribbs arrive minutes before the game.

''I looked, then looked away, then said, 'Why are you here?''' Michael recalled. ''I was shocked.''

A receiver, cornerback and holder for extra points, Michael said Cribbs offered advice before his final game.

''He said, 'Play your heart out. This is it. Give it your all. Don't ever stop on any play. Keep pushing,''' Michael said. ''I almost felt worried. I didn't want to look bad for him.''

Michael's late father recruited Cribbs to play at Kent State and served as a father figure to the Washington, D.C. native during his time at Kent. Mike Drake was the offensive coordinator for the Golden Flashes during Cribbs's freshman and sophomore seasons. Cribbs played quarterback in college and credits Drake for helping him drive home the fundamentals that he still uses today. So, when the idea of returning for senior night was pitched to Cribbs this summer, he didn't hesitate.

It's a small gesture, but it says a lot about the character of Cribbs. He apparently didn't feel the need to talk about it publicly; this happened Oct. 30 and, as far as I can tell, yesterday's report in the Akron Beacon Journal is the first it's been mentioned. Similarly, Drake's mother is quoted in the piece as saying that Cribbs took great pains to underplay his presence at the game for fear of taking away the spotlight from Michael and the other seniors. This shows a humility that other professional football players could sometimes stand to emulate.

By Chris Chase,202608

Monday, November 2, 2009

It's Only Rock & Roll ...

On Saturday, September 2nd, 1995, my brother Trip & I drove to Cleveland, Ohio for the inaugural Rock & Roll Hall Of Concert. It was completely insane; Dylan, Springsteen, Chuck Berry, Johnny Cash, Mellecamp, James Browne, Soul Asylum, Dr, John, Bon Jovi, John Fogerty , Al Green, The Kinks, The Pretenders … the list just rolled on and on.

Well, this passed week, the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame staged a benefit concert at Madison Square Garden. This time, the show was spread over two nights … but all the stars came out to play again. What can I say??? Simply AMAZING!!!

1) A killer 20 minute film clip covering the history of rock & roll. And, it is worth noting that if you ever get to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame – go see the film clips – they will blow your mind.

2) Tom Hanks gives a great speech on having to tell your Dad that: this music means something to ME!!! That's why I have to play it LOUD!!!"

3) Followed up Jerry Lee Lewis playing a solo/piano version of "Whole Lot Of Shaking"

Already I know it's gonna be a great night. The sound is PERFECT!

Crosby, Stills & Nash (with band) take the stage to start their set:
The set included: Woodstock, Marikesh Express, Almost Cut My Hair, as they say – the hits just kept on coming.

Bobbie Raitt joins them; she sings lead on "Love Has No Pride" - Then Bonnie stays on stage while Stills sings "Midnight Rambler" - Jackson Browne joins them: The Pretender. And this is followed by James Taylor: Mexico

Love The One You're With – well, this just smoked, where all the singers traded lead vox. Then CS&N added a Buffalo Springfield song: Rock & Roll Woman - Ending with an all hands on deck version of "Teach Your Children"

Second Set:
Another great film montage. Then Paul Simon and his band take the stage and play the hits: Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes - Me & Julio - You Can Call Me Al. Them with Dion: The Wanderer – Then CS&N join Paul for acoustic "Here Comes The Sun" – then back with his band, we get: Late In The Evening

Little Anthony & The Imperials go all acapella: Two People In The World (which blew the roof off the place).

Then ... Art Garfunkle walks out ... with no introduction, he just walks out to a center mic - the entire Garden goes ballistic.
Sounds Of Silence - Mrs. Robinson - Not Fade Away - The Boxer - Cecelia - Bridge Over Trouble Water

Third Set: Stevie Wonder & his band. After an embarrassing 15 minutes of no vocal mic (the crowd just kept cheering to keep Stevie smiling), this guy owned the stage.
Opening number: Dylan’s; Blowing In The Wind - (Uptight) Everything's Alright - I Was Made To Love Her - For Once In My Life - Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours - Boogie On A Reggae Woman. Smokey Robinson joined in: "Tracks Of My Tears" - John Legend sings: Mercy Mercy Me. Then a complete Stevie sings Micheal Jackson’s: The Way You Make Me Feel (in mid song, Stevie breaks down in tears). BB King joins in: The Thrill Is Gone. Stevie & the band rip “Livin' For The City” – then are joined by Sting for: Higher Ground/Roxanne/Higher Ground. Stevie brings it to a thunderous end with with Jeff Beck: Superstition.

Then ... Bruce ... and all bets are off!!
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out - Hold On, I'm Coming (with Sam Moore) - Soul Man (with Sam Moore) - The Ghost of Tom Joad (with Tom Morello) - Fortunate Son (with John Fogerty) - Proud Mary (with John Fogerty) - Pretty Woman (with John Fogerty) and Jungleland to end the set.

The encores are pure celebration: A Fine, Fine Boy (with Darlene Love) - Da Doo Ron Ron (with Darlene Love) - London Calling (with Tom Morello) - Badlands (with Tom Morello) - You May Be Right (with Billy Joel) - Only the Good Die Young (with Billy Joel) - New York State of Mind (with Billy Joel) - Born to Run (with Billy Joel) – Then ending with an 'all hands on deck' - Higher and Higher. Five plus hours later … it’s time to grab a cab.

Night 2

Introduction – Film clips (same as Night 1); Tom Hanks (same as Night 1). Then Great Balls of Fire - Jerry Lee Lewis

Aretha Franklin & her band: Baby I Love You - Chain of Fools - with Annie Lennox – (Then the show comes to a screaming halt): Some song from the broadway musical: Ragtime (It took the life out of MSG); New York, New York. Then Ms. Franklin gave the crowd what they wanted: Think: with Lenny Kravitz; and ending with: Respect. Overall, an OK set.

Jeff Beck (filling in for Eric Clapton, who cancelled due to illness) surpised me with just how entertaining he can be – and, just how thrilled he was to be there.
Drown In My Own Tears - Freeway Jam - As We Part As Lovers - People Get Ready (with Sting) - Let Me Love You Baby (with Buddy Guy) - Foxy Lady (with Billy Gibbons of ZZ Topp); Then an incredible instrumental version of The Beatles “A Day in the Life: - Note to Trip: This set was a whole lot of fun. Even you would have dug it!!

Now was the biggest surprize of the night for me. These next guys were a boatload of FUN!!! Metallica!!!!
For Whom the Bell Tolls - One - Turn the Page (Bob Seager cover) - Sweet Jane (w Lou Reed) - White Light/White Heat (w/ Lou Reed) - You Really Got Me (w/ Ray Davies) - All Day and All of the Night (w/ Ray Davies) - Iron Man (w/ Ozzy Osbourne) - Paranoid (w/ Ozzy Osbourne) – then a really big stunner, a perfect Stone Cold Crazy (A Queen cover), ending with: Enter Sandman

Then U2 doing what U2 do best: entertain the hell out of the crowd:
Vertigo – Magnificent - Because the Night (with Bruce Springsteen & Patti Smith) - I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For (w/ Bruce Springsteen),
Mysterious Ways - Where is the Love (w/ Black Eyed Peas), then ... the unannounced, HOLY SHIT moment of the night: Gimme Shelter - w/ Mick Jagger (Fergie, from The Black Eye Peas NAILED the female vocal part!). - Stuck In a Moment You Can't Get Out Of (w/ Mick Jagger) and closing with: Beautiful Day.

What can I say? It is very rare that nights deliver on the hype that surround them, but these two nights delivered … and then some. And, to this old guy, it was a great reminder, folks with guitars are still the best live ticket out there.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

When Sports Can Be Great ... another small story

OK … to start off … I love sports. Always have … always will. But, I also realize that the importance of sports is so overblown that we have reached comic proportions. All you need do is look at the Dallas Cowboys new stadium: Originally estimated to cost $650 million, the stadium's current construction cost was $1.12 billion, making it one of the most expensive sports venues ever built. Not "the most expensive" ... at $1.12 billion - it's "one of the most expensive" ... Holy Crap!!!

Well, it’s in these ridiculous times that I need to find the true spirit of competition to put my faith back in the goodness of sports. Lucky for me, the internet gives us all the ability to find stories that go beyond the cuddled professional athletes of today – and lets us find stories the remind us that, in the end, it’s game … where the true joy should be in the ability to compete.

That’s why, when I read this story, I felt great!!

The Maryville Spoofhounds could have shut out the St. Joseph Benton Cardinals 46 - 0 at last week's game. But they let the other team score a touchdown.

They did nothing to stop freshman running back Matt Ziesel from running more than 60 yards to put the Cardinals on the scoreboard. Cardinals Coach Dan McCamey asked the Spoofhounds for their cooperation because Ziesel, 15, has Down syndrome and spent the entire season on the bench -- begging the coach to let him get some action on the field.

Hats off to both teams for showing classy levels of sportsmanship and compassion. The rival high schools are about 42 miles apart. Both are north of Kansas City near the Missouri/Kansas border. The Cardinals still lost the game but won a lot more.

Follow this link for the story – and the video of the play!!|main|dl1|link3|

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Jim Carroll - R.I.P.

In 1980 I was 19 years old and I thought I was a pretty bad ass kid. I had fallen in love with rock and roll - the true rock and roll; Springsteen, The Clash, Dylan, The Stones, The Beatles, Mott The Hoople. The whole punk and new wave music scenes had drawn me in, and I ate up everything. There were no bad concerts back then ... cause every night you went out and rocked with your friends ... the kids in the audience - or the guys on stage - you always felt that you were amongst friends.

Then Jim Carroll released "Catholic Boy" and I was shown a side of the world that music companies have turned away from since the day The Velvet Underground first started making music. And I realized what a real 'bad ass kid' was.

I realized that I wasn't a bad ass. And that there were folks out there who truly talked the talk and walked the walk. The first time I saw the Jim Carroll Band live, I was floored. I knew that entire debut CD frontwards & backwards. Each screaming guitar, each snare drum hit and each pained vocal was tattooed on my soul. And, for the first time - I realized that there were folks out there who lived a life I would never be part. I was never going to shoot anything in my veins - no matter where my life took me. But then - there was no need to - Jim Carroll had traveled that road for me and wrote books and poetry about it - he delivered "the" record about it - and I could look from a safe distance and be amazed that "someone" walked that road and then took to time to tell us about the journey.

There has never been a time when I've heard "People Who Died" and not turned the volume up higher. Some things are just that visceral. And now he's gone, leaving behind a body of work that's so unique ... it really is hard to drop other names in to his company.

William Grimes (of the New York Times) wrote this about Jim. Read it. Then go pick up a Jim Carroll CD, a book ... something. His view on the world was not always pretty - but it's a view that you will never forget.

Jim Carroll, Poet and Punk Rocker Who Wrote ‘The Basketball Diaries’, Dies at 60

Jim Carroll, the poet and punk rocker in the outlaw tradition of Rimbaud and Burroughs who chronicled his wild youth in “The Basketball Diaries,” died on Friday at his home in Manhattan. He was 60.

The cause was a heart attack, said Rosemary Carroll, his former wife.

As a teenage basketball star in the 1960s at Trinity, an elite private school on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Mr. Carroll led a chaotic life that combined sports, drugs and poetry. This highly unusual combination lent a lurid appeal to “The Basketball Diaries,” the journal he kept during high school and published in 1978, by which time his poetry had already won him a cult reputation as the new Bob Dylan.

“I met him in 1970, and already he was pretty much universally recognized as the best poet of his generation,” the singer Patti Smith said in a telephone interview on Sunday. “The work was sophisticated and elegant. He had beauty.”

The diaries began, innocently: “Today was my first Biddy League game and my first day in any organized basketball league. I’m enthused about life due to this exciting event.”

By the end of the book, Mr. Carroll was a heroin addict who supported his habit by hustling in Times Square. “Totally zonked, and all the dope scraped or sniffed clean from the tiny cellophane bags,” the final entry read, continuing, “I can see the Cloisters with its million in medieval art out the bedroom window. I got to go in and puke. I just want to be pure.”

“The Basketball Diaries,” reissued in a mass-market edition in 1980, became enormously popular, especially on college campuses. In a film adaptation in 1995, Leonardo DiCaprio played the part of Mr. Carroll.

The writer’s good looks and flair for drama made him ideal raw material for rock stardom. “When I was about 9 years old, man, I realized that the real thing was not only to do what you were doing totally great, but to look totally great while you were doing it,” he told the poet Ted Berrigan in the 1960s. In the late 1970s, with the encouragement of Ms. Smith, he formed the Jim Carroll Band, whose first release, “Catholic Boy” (1980), is sometimes called the last great punk album.

James Dennis Carroll, the son of a bar owner, spent his childhood on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, where he attended Roman Catholic schools. After the family moved to Inwood, at the northern end of Manhattan, he won a basketball scholarship to Trinity. There he discovered a love of writing and began spending time at the St. Mark’s Poetry Project in the East Village, falling under the spell of Allen Ginsberg and Frank O’Hara.

Still in his teens, he published a limited-edition pamphlet of his poems, “Organic Trains” (1967), which, with its successor, “4 Ups and 1 Down” (1970), won him a cult following that was enhanced when The Paris Review published excerpts from his journals in 1970. “Living at the Movies” (1973), issued by a mainstream publisher, won him both acclaim and a wider audience.

His life was colorful. Hailed by Ginsberg, Berrigan and Jack Kerouac as a powerful new poetic voice, he became a fixture on the downtown scene. After briefly attending Wagner College on Staten Island and Columbia University, he found his way to Andy Warhol’s Factory, contributing dialogue for Warhol’s films. Later he worked as a studio assistant for the painter Larry Rivers and lived with Ms. Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe, the photographer. He chronicled this frenetic period in “Forced Entries: The Downtown Diaries, 1971-1973.”

In 1973 Mr. Carroll left New York to escape drugs. He settled in Bolinas, an artistic community north of San Francisco, where met and married Rosemary Klemfuss in 1978. The marriage ended in divorce. He is survived by a brother, Tom.

Mr. Carroll’s music career started by accident when Ms. Smith brought him onstage to declaim his poetry with her band providing background. Encouraged by the response, he formed his own band. It caught the attention of Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, who arranged a three-record deal with Atlantic Records.

The critic Stephen Holden described Mr. Carroll in The New York Times in 1982 as “not so much a singer as an incantatory rock-and-roll poet.” Like Lou Reed, he had a mesmerizing power, evident on songs like “People Who Died” from “Catholic Boy,” a poetic litany of his dead friends that became a hit on college radio and part of the soundtrack for “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial.”

The group’s next two albums, “Dry Dreams” (1982) and “I Write Your Name” (1984), caused much less stir. After writing lyrics for Blue Oyster Cult and Boz Scaggs, Mr. Carroll returned to the studio in 1998 to record “Pools of Mercury.”

Mr. Carroll published several more poetry collections — “The Book of Nods” (1986), “Fear of Dreaming” (1993) and “Void of Course: Poems 1994-1997” (1998) — as well as releasing several spoken-word albums.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Les Paul ... Rest In Peace ... loudly!!

A few pictures are worth way more than a thousand words:

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Perfect Summer Day

OK … so maybe I am a little on the “life should be simpler” side. But, as our kids grow up, and summers blow by … it seems that some perfect summer days are spent with kids indoors – playing video games. So, when you come across a perfect “summer” picture, we here at The Brothers McC feel the obligation to share. The fact that the young kid in the middle – holding the fish – is my nephew Nick had absolutely no bearing on my decision to share this picture.

I mean … honestly … this picture is almost too cool!

Great job, Nick!!!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Willy DeVille; Rest In Peace

On August 6, 2009 we lost one of the great voices in American music.
At the age of 59, Willy DeVille has passed away due to pancreatic cancer.

After being one of the original house bands at CBGB’s, Mink DeVille released their first CD in 1977 (Cabretta). There really wasn’t anything else like it on the market. And when I first heard the lead single, “Mixed Up Shook Up Girl” – I was hooked!!

I can’t recall seeing the band till 1978. The 2nd CD (Return To Magenta) was out, and the track “Just Your Friends” was rapidly becoming the most played song in my room. Seeing the band live was a true experience. The entire band strolled on to the stage (more often than not – to the tune of “Harlem Nocturne”), all dressed like the Sharks from ‘West Side Story’ on their way to the local dance. And when they began to play … everyone in the room paid attention.

And though 1980’s “Le Chat Blue” was a pretty solid effort … it was 1981’s “Coup De Grace” that rock my world to its very foundation. To this day … this CD still rates as one of my all time favorites. Every track is amazing … every track is romantic … and every track is played and sung like there is no tomorrow. Love me now!! And … please … love me like you did before.

The great music kept coming … “Where Angels Fear To Tread” (1983) and “Sporting Life” (1985). Then, in 1987 Willy teamed up with Mark Knopfler (The Dire Straights) to record “Miracle” – the CD that brought us “Storybook Love” – and brought Willy an Oscar nomination for “Best Song” when Rob Reiner used the track in his movie, “The Princess Bride.”

More great CDs, followed – my favorite being 1995’s “Loup Garou.” Once again, another CD without a wasted track.

And I kept seeing the man live. Full band, solo, trio … it just didn’t matter – he always gave us one hell of a show.

Doc Pomus, said this about Willy; "DeVille knows the truth of a city street and the courage in a ghetto love song. And the harsh reality in his voice and phrasing is yesterday, today, and tomorrow—timeless in the same way that loneliness, no money, and troubles find each other and never quit for a minute."

Loneliness. Willy wrote and sang about it with his heart on his sleeve. And so many of those tracks got me through more than a few nights of heartbreak.

Yours is voice that will be sorely missed, my friend.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Something To Make Me Smile!

There has been some "Rod Stewart" debate among the Brothers Mcc - but I'm here to tell you that I am still on board - and I am really looking forward to hearing this:

The Rod Stewart Sessions 1971-1998
Release Date - 09/29/2009

Warner Bros. began reissuing Rod Stewart's Warner Bros. catalog a year ago with remastered and expanded versions of some of the artist's best studio work. With its latest effort, Warner Bros. goes deep into the vaults to reveal the secret studio history of this very public performer with a boxed set of unreleased recordings chosen from sessions spanning 1971-1998. THE ROD STEWART SESSIONS 1971-1998 will be available September 29.

Producers Andy Zax and Cheryl Pawelski prowled through a warehouse of Stewart's tapes to unearth all the dusty gems four discs could hold. Spanning more than 25 years, the collection's 63 songs, outtakes, and ephemera provide extraordinary insight into the studio work of one of rock's legendary figures and paint a picture of what might have been. Many of these performances are more stripped-down and intimate than their released counterparts, so the set becomes an illustration and a showcase of Rod's creative process. Few major artists have allowed such a revealing look behind the scenes.

More than a third of THE ROD STEWART SESSIONS 1971-1998 chronicles the torrent of indelible recordings Stewart unleashed during the '70s. Fittingly, the set opens with a decidedly rough take of "Maggie May," the #1 hit from Stewart's third solo album - Every Picture Tells A Story - that broke him as a solo artist in 1971.

SESSIONS offers alternate versions of well-known hits from that era such as "Sailing," "Tonight's The Night (Gonna Be Alright)," "You Wear It Well," and an acoustic version of "You're In My Heart (The Final Acclaim)." Alongside those are rarities like the unfinished "Think I'll Pack My Bags" (which later appeared on Ron Wood's solo debut rewritten as "Mystifies Me"), an early version of "So Tired" that finds the band working out the arrangement in the studio, and an acoustic version of the B-side "Rosie."

Of special note is the rumored-to-exist but never heard - until now - sequel to "The Killing of Georgie"; "Innocent (The Killing of Georgie Part III)" completes the epic narrative begun on 1976's A Night On The Town album with a ferociously rocking performance taken from the sessions for the following year's Foot Loose & Fancy Free. Stewart ended the decade with a hits package that was to include his cover of British pub-rocker Frankie Miller's "When I'm Away From You" that has remained unreleased until now.

SESSIONS touches on six albums Stewart released during the '80s, including Foolish Behaviour (1980), which was originally intended to be a double album, but was eventually scaled back to a single disc. Along with an early version of the album track "Oh God, I Wish I Was Home Tonight" the collection also features four unreleased tracks presumably destined for the second disc: "Time Of My Life," "TV Mama," "Stupid," and Buddy Holly's "Maybe Baby." While the multitracks for Tonight I'm Yours (1981) have gone missing, the producers managed to recover an unreleased song called "Thunderbird" from the session's only surviving mixdown tape. The collection closes out the decade with several tracks from Out Of Order (1988), including a tender reading of "Forever Young" that features Stewart accompanied only by a piano and the improvised in the studio and then abandoned "I Go To Jail For You."

The final SESSIONS disc is dedicated to Stewart's resurgence as an artistic and commercial force in the '90s. It begins with six songs recorded in the summer of 1992 that were shelved in favor of Unplugged...And Seated, including a cover of Bob Dylan and The Band's "This Wheel's On Fire," and an all-star remake of the 1969 Python Lee Jackson song (originally also sung by Rod) "In A Broken Dream," which features Pink Floyd's David Gilmour and Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones. Also included is Stewart's cover of Bobby Womack's "Looking For A Love," which was surprisingly left off A Spanner In The Works (1995) and a version of Oasis' "Rockin' Chair" that he recorded for When We Were The New Boys (1998).

Although never intended to be shared with the world, the directness and immediacy of the music on THE ROD STEWART SESSIONS 1971-1998 documents an exceptional artist at work over a long period of time, says Zax, the set's coproducer. "Admirers of particular eras of Rod's career may be surprised to discover, upon listening to this box, that there is far less difference between the Rod of 1971 and the Rod of 1998-and all the years between them - than they had previously believed."

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Welcome Back, Wilco

I just finished reading the David Carr article on Wilco in the New York Times … and I couldn’t feel better. The reason that I’m feeling better is that it was great to read that Jeff Tweedy (the oft times sidetracked leader of Wilco) is feeling great.

I am one of the faithful that has seen Mr. Tweedy go form the ashes of the Uncle Tupelo and travel the painful trail that has become known as Wilco’s career. Their 2002 film (I Am Trying To Break Your Heart) could not have had a more apt title. This band really tested the limits of friends, band members, record labels and fans. At points, their music almost dared the listener to like it.

And, through it all, there was the soap opera that was Wilco – the band. Busted relationships, bad drug habits, death … the stuff that William Shakespeare spent many years and worked so hard at putting down on paper, these guys had the knack for delivering to themselves day in and day out.

Now, we get “Wilco – The Album.” And for me, this is a joy. A set of songs that can truly showcase the band and its prolific frontman – in ways that were delivered to the world with “AM” and “Being There.” And, yes, I know that those are the first two releases by Wilco – and that there has been seven other releases that followed. But with the exception of the Billy Bragg collaboration (Mermaid Avenue), I’ve always felt that the band was never truly comfortable in their own skin. (Please note; I know that not many other Wilco fans feel this way. I know there are folks who take the more ‘experimental’ Wilco over the ‘pop’ Wilco any day of the week – I just don’t happen to be one of them.)

I will say that I am as guilty as most – that when there were times in the Wilco roadshow that I found more interested in the car wreck that was the lives of Wilco as I did in the music they were releasing. And, after seeing one fantastic Wilco show – followed by one ramshackle mess of a show – I began to hold these guys to what (in retrospect) was an impossible bar to clear.

A lot of folks always thought of Wilco as Americana’s answer to The Band. I never bought that. I always thought of them more as Americana’s answer to Mott The Hoople. Both bands with charismatic frontmen whose vision lead the path of the band. Both with personal trials and tribulations, band members coming and going … and through it all, trying to deliver some great rock and roll. And now, with the release of “Wilco – The Album” – both with CDs named after the band.

At one point of the NY Time article, Mr. Carr quotes Jeff Tweedy as saying; “I suppose because everything about my life is better …” For me, that is the best comment that I could hear from Mr. Tweedy these days. I’ve always liked his music, and I always rooted for him to beat his demons. So I’m glad to see him walking on a sunnier side of the street.

I’m really digging the music on “Wilco – The Album,” and I hope that Jeff & the boys can keep it together … and keep bringing us the joy that is Wilco – the band.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Old Man Hockey

It’s funny … a lot of folks say that you really don’t make any new friends after you reach a certain age. Well, sitting at 48, I’m here to say that isn’t true. Since moving back to the Philly area, I’ve been lucky enough to encounter a group of guys that could not be a better bunch of fellas to hang out with.

It started when I was taking my son to some ice skating lessons at the local rink. And, like it happens whenever I’m near a rink, the conversation turned to ice hockey. A guy I never met before joined the conversation and told me about a group of ‘old guys’ who play out every Wednesday night. Without further ado, he invited me to join in. And before I could respond, he added; “and they’re all nice guys.”

Well, I laced up my skates that Wednesday night and skated out for my first session of “Old Man Hockey”. And you know what? He was right; they were all nice guys. Most of the guys are over 40 … most have been playing since they were kids … and even a few are currently coaching local teams. All great guys. No hard asses … no guys who still feel they have something to prove since they never made it to the NHL. Just a bunch of old guys who want to play some ice hockey … and drink some cold beers. To give you an idea of the sense of humor these guys have, our team jersey logo has a picture of Moses … holding a hockey stick … with the phrase: ‘Let My People Score’

As it turns out, we have two goalies that both got great game. And, if one of them could not make it, I got the call. So, depending on who was on the ice, I either played in the net or left wing … and occasionally, the call never came, I'd show up with my 'winger' gear, find out we were a goalie short, and I’d zip on home to grab my goalie gear ASAP so the game could go on. Now, here’s where the “they’re all nice guys” part comes in. My first few times in the net I did OK. But, on one night, well … let’s just say that the puck found the back of the net more times than during an NHL All Star game.

On the nights that I played well, the team was right there with me … supportive and having fun. And, on this night where I couldn’t stop anything, the team was even more supportive … and kept reminding me that “we” were all still having fun.

We just ended the season with a night out at the local pub. And during that night we had the presentation of “The Old Fart Award” – a trophy that goes, each year, to the player who most lives up to the qualifications of being an old fart. Congrats, Joel!

So … as the summer is upon us, the skates will get sharpened, the pads will get aired out, and the roof of The Skatium will get repaired. But I know it won't be too long till the e-mail pops up in my “IN” basket calling all the ‘old men’ back for another season. And I'll be there ... with a bunch of really nice guys.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Peter Case Info Update

Here's some news from the folks at Hidden Love Medical Relief.

Dear Peter Case fan and supporter:

We are looking forward to an incredible series of benefit concerts at McCabe's this coming weekend. The outpouring of love and generosity from the amazing artisits and all involved in putting the shows together is a testiment to Goodness and Love.

Additionally, Roman Cho (official McCabe's photographer) has presented Hidden Love with another way for us to give to the Hidden Love Medical Relief Fund.

Roman's book Live@McCabe's is a photographic inside look at McCabe's Guitar Shop Concert Series. The book contains 106 pages of intimate photographs of live performance images, candid backstage photos, as well as formal portraits of artists taken by Cho over the span of the past five years.

To coincide with the Hidden Love Benefit shows, this unique "Peter Case Edition" contains a special cover and forward by the author.

All proceeds from books ordered by May 31 will be donated to the Hidden Love Benefit Fund.

To order, please click:

Hidden Love Medical Relief

Monday, April 27, 2009

Who The Hell Thought This Was A Good Idea??

Someone should kick Louis Caldera's ass!!

It was an image New Yorkers never wanted to see again: a jumbo jet trailed by two fighter jets buzzing dangerously close to the city’s most famous landmarks.

On Monday morning a 747 and two military planes circled the Statue of Liberty and flew close to the World Trade Centre site, causing panic among locals in New York. Residents and office workers evacuated buildings and ran onto the streets, fearing a repeat of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, in which two hijacked airliners smashed into the World Trade Centre, killing almost 3,000 people.

But the flyover was nothing but a photo opportunity involving one of Barack Obama’s official presidential airplanes, apparently one of a series of flights to get pictures of the plane in front of national landmarks.

The flyover – carried out with little warning by the US defence department – was branded as “insensitive” by New York mayor Michael Bloomberg. President Obama, who was not on the plane at the time, was reportedly furious when told of the flight by White House staff.

Locals – particularly office workers, construction workers and residents in high rise buildings – fled into the streets when they saw the planes, including a 747 sometimes used as Air Force Once, flying as low as 1,500 feet above the Manhattan skyline.

Roy Renner, a construction worker in Manhattan said he feared the worst.

“I was thinking about what happened in 9/11,” Mr Renner told CBS news. “That was what I was thinking about, so I said: ‘look, let’s get out of here’.”

Dominick Caglioti, who works in one of the city’s high rise buildings, told the New York Post he was furious when he found out it was simply a photo opportunity.

"It's so stupid because they tell you about every fire drill, but they didn't tell us about this," he told the paper.

An administration official said the purpose of the flight was to update file photos of the president's plane near the famous statue in New York Harbour.

The official said the White House military office had told the Federal Aviation Administration that it periodically updates file photos of Air Force One near national landmarks, such as the Statue of Liberty and the Grand Canyon.

The FAA notified the New York Police Department of the flyover, telling them photos of the Air Force One jet would be taken about 1,500 feet above the Statue of Liberty around 10am on Monday. It had a classified footnote that said “information in this document shall not be released to the public or the media.”

Mr Bloomberg, who was not told about the flight, said had he been notified he would have asked the Defence Department not to do it.

“Why the Defence Department wanted to do a photo op right around the site of the World Trade Centre catastrophe defies the imagination,” Mr Bloomberg said. “Poor judgment would be a nice ways to phrase it.”

The director of the White House military office, Louis Caldera, took the blame a few hours later.

“Last week, I approved a mission over New York. I take responsibility for that decision,” Mr Caldera said. “While federal authorities took the proper steps to notify state and local authorities in New York and New Jersey, it's clear that the mission created confusion and disruption. I apologize and take responsibility for any distress that flight caused.”

by Sophie Tedmanson

Monday, April 13, 2009

You Were The Best, Harry

Phillies Broadcaster Harry Kalas Dies at 73

Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas passed out in a press box at Nationals Park today and was pronounced dead at GW Hospital. He was 73.

"We lost our voice today," team president David Montgomery said, his voice cracking. "He has loved our game and made just a tremendous contribution to our sport and certainly to our organization."

Nats acting GM Mike Rizzo talked to Montgomery after Kalas' collapse but there was never really a thought of canceling the game; Montgomery told Rizzo that Kalas would have wanted them to play. There will be a moment for silence for both Nick Adenhart of Hagerstown and for Kalas.

"Major League Baseball has lost one of the great voices of our generation," Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. "Baseball announcers have a special bond with their audience, and Harry represented the best of baseball not only to the fans of the Phillies, but to fans everywhere."

Montgomery said that Kalas was found unconscious in a broadcast booth, where he was preparing to work Monday's game against the Nationals. He was found by the Phillies director of broadcasting at about 12:30 p.m.

Montgomery called his condition serious at that time, and the Phillies closed the visitors' clubhouse to the media.
Kalas missed most of spring training after undergoing surgery in February. The team declined to reveal details of the surgery, saying it was a "minor medical procedure."

Kalas, who has broadcast Phillies games since 1971, was known for his distinctive "Outta here!" home run call. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame after receiving the Ford C. Frick Award in 2002. He was in the final year of a three-year contract with the Phillies. Kalas also narrated for NFL Films, broadcast Animal Planet's annual Puppy Bowl and did the voice-overs for the Chunky Soup commercials.

By Tracee Hamilton | April 13, 2009; 3:04 PM ET

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Brian Dawkins to give tickets to fired Eagles employee

Here's just one more reason proving that Brian Dawkins is not only a great leader on the field - but a great man off the field.

Brian Dawkins to give tickets to fired Eagles employee

By Chris Chase

Last month, Dan Leone was fired from his part-time job with the Philadelphia Eagles after criticizing the team for letting veteran Brian Dawkins leave via free agency. Leone was a seasonal game day employee, which meant he worked during the Eagles' 10 home dates each season. His termination meant he would have been unlikely to attend any of those games in 2009. But now help is coming from an unexpected source.

Dawkins signed with the Denver Broncos, who happen to be playing in Philly this season. Since each visiting player gets two tickets to away games, the 35-year-old defensive back decided to give his allotment for the contest in Philadephia to Leone. Dawkins told the Philadelphia Daily News:

"I thought it'd be a good gesture. Had I not ... signed with Denver, that guy would still have his job. Obviously, he made a decision and out of emotion said something. He was one of probably thousands and thousands of Eagles fans who felt that way. That didn't surprise me, that someone said that on their Facebook. It did surprise me that he was let go, though ... I felt it would be a good thing, to reach out to that individual and just let him know how much I appreciate it.''

Well played, Brian Dawkins. It's becoming clear to see why most people in Philly didn't want to see a class act like Dawkins leave town.,152812

Saturday, March 28, 2009

UPS does not support bullies!!!

Well done, UPS ... well done, indeed!!!

(from the 'Think Progress' website)

UPS Announces It Will Stop Advertising On Bill O’Reilly’s Show

In response to our Stop Supporting The O’Reilly Harassment Machine campaign, UPS told us yesterday that it was investigating whether to continue supporting O’Reilly’s show. “We are sensitive to the type of television programming where our messages and presence are associated and continually review choices to affect future decisions,” spokeswoman Susan Rosenberg told us.

Today UPS announced it will stop advertising on O’Reilly’s show. Here is the statement UPS emailed out just moments ago:

Thank you for sending an e-mail expressing concern about UPS advertising during the Bill O’Reilly show on FOX News. We do consider such comments as we review ad placement decisions which involve a variety of news, entertainment and sports programming. At this time, we have no plans to continue advertising during this show.

For the full story:

To join the protest:

Monday, March 16, 2009

Happy Birthday, Patty

I’m still wearing the cross that you gave me
I still remember how you tried to save me
I still remember your tender touch
Sometimes I miss you too much

Gone but not forgotten

I remember as I held your hand
God took you to his promised land
Sometimes I feel too far from home
Sometimes I feel like I’m all alone

Gone but not forgotten

I remember I could make you mad
And just as easily make you sad
But you saw something no one else could see
That kept your love and faith in me

Gone but not forgotten

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Monday, March 9, 2009

Time For A Roadtrip To Denver

OK ... it's stories like these that give me hope for mankind!!
Let's all raise a pint to Brad and Libby Birky !!

The first thing Brad Birky does is hand me an apron.

"Would you mind starting on soup duty?" he asks, guiding me toward two large industrial cookers near the front counter. "This is tomato corn bisque, and this is lentil."

The lunch rush is just starting at So All May Eat (SAME) Cafe, and soon I'm ladling steaming servings of soup into a mismatched collection of bowls and mugs. With me behind the counter are three more volunteers preparing pizza and dishing out salad and cookies to the growing line of customers, a cross-section of East Colfax Avenue foot traffic: latter-day flower children, sunburned day laborers, older women in librarian attire, laptop-toting students, professional bums, khaki-wearing businesspeople, vegan-core punker kids and the general miscellany of society that never appears in restaurant-industry demographics.

SAME has a menu that changes daily but always features food that's made from scratch and is largely organic. It has tables, chairs, bus bins, plants in the windows and overhead music (usually a mix of classic rock). But there's one thing SAME doesn't have: a cash register. There's no credit-card machine, no change drawer, no receipt book. That's because SAME doesn't have prices. Diners come in and order — some ask for just a cup of soup or a small slice of pizza, while others go for a whole meal, maybe even seconds if they're really hungry — and then pay what they want.

The concept is the exact opposite of Denver Restaurant Week, now under way, in which more than 200 restaurants in the metro area are offering a meal for the set price of $52.80 for two. DRW's goal is to entice diners to eat out more by removing the uncertainty of the final tab.

After only an hour behind the counter at SAME, I can pick out the new customers the minute they step in the door. Their eyes seek out numbers, first falling on the handwritten menu board, then drifting along the counter, searching for a printed menu with prices. Before puzzlement becomes full-blown confusion, Brad usually steps in.

"Is this your first time here?"

"Yes," says a young couple, him with a beard and her with an extra-long scarf. "We just moved into a place down the street."

"Okay," says Brad. "So we're a non-profit restaurant. We operate on a pay-what-you-want model. So we have no set prices. We let our customers pick what they want to eat and then pay afterward, however much they wish. If you can't pay anything, then we ask you to volunteer an hour helping in the cafe."

"Oh," both members of the couple reply. "Okay. Cool." They glance at each other to make sure it really is cool, then place their orders and make their drink selections from a choice of coffee, tea, iced tea or water. Brad hands each of them a small orange envelope with the number of their order.

After customers have eaten, they will put their payment in these envelopes, which then go through the slit of a small wooden box. That's the high technology upon which this business rests. The cafe will serve 55 people over a three-hour period today — a stat that multiplies out to roughly 15,000 customers a year. Some pay less than their share, some pay more, some pay nothing at all. And yet somehow it all works out.

Read more about it here:

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Justin Townes Earle

It's no secret that the folks here at Brother's McC like their music with a little twang every now & then. And, I've had the pleasure of seeing Justin Townes Earle on a few occasions. And each time he delivered a fabulous show. With his latest quote in the Tennessean, I fully understand why. Not only are his songs great, his musicianship first rate - all tied together with an extremely entertaining delivery - his frame of mind is set perfectly when it comes to performing:

"There was a professional thing about the way that those guys performed on the Opry," he says. "No matter how drunk or depressed you were, you put your suit on, buttoned your shirt up, combed your hair and walked out onstage and you smiled. You put on the same show for everybody. That's something that's been lost. I think a lot of songwriters and musicians have allowed themselves in their head to have risen above everything. I make no mistake about the fact that the only reason I'm there is that the audience bought the ticket. I'm going to make sure that the people who pay my living are going to get their money's worth. And their money's worth is not in me staring at my shoes."

Read the entire article at:

And check out his music at:

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Another Example of When Sports Make Great Men

Amid the grieving, a rare act of sportsmanship

It didn't matter that his DeKalb, Ill., High School basketball team had ridden a bus two and a half hours to get to Milwaukee, then waited another hour past game time to play. Didn't matter that the game was close, or that this was a chance to beat a big city team. Something else was on Dave Rohlman's mind when he asked for a volunteer to shoot two free throws awarded his team on a technical foul in the second quarter. His senior captain raised his hand, ready to go to the line as he had many times before.

Only this time it was different.

"You realize you're going to miss them, don't you?" Rohlman said.

Darius McNeal nodded his head. He understood what had to be done.

It was a Saturday night in February, and the Barbs were playing a non-conference game on the road against Milwaukee Madison. It was the third meeting between the two schools, who were developing a friendly rivalry that spanned two states.

The teams planned to get together after the game and share some pizzas and soda. But the game itself almost never took place.

Hours earlier, the mother of Milwaukee Madison senior captain Johntel Franklin died at a local hospital. Carlitha Franklin had been in remission after a five-year fight with cervical cancer, but she began to hemorrhage that morning while Johntel was taking his college ACT exam.

Her son and several of his teammates were at the hospital late that afternoon when the decision was made to turn off the life-support system. Carlitha Franklin was just 39.

"She was young and they were real close," said Milwaukee coach Aaron Womack Jr., who was at the hospital. "He was very distraught and it happened so suddenly he didn't have time to grieve."

Womack was going to cancel the game, but Franklin told him he wanted the team to play. And play they did, even though the game started late and Milwaukee Madison dressed only eight players.

Early in the second quarter, Womack saw someone out of the corner of his eye. It was Franklin, who came there directly from the hospital to root his teammates on.

The Knights had possession, so Womack called a time out. His players went over and hugged their grieving teammate. Fans came out of the stands to do the same.

"We got back to playing the game and I asked if he wanted to come and sit on the bench," Womack said during a telephone interview.

"No," Franklin replied. "I want to play."

There was just one problem. Since Franklin wasn't on the pre-game roster, putting him in meant drawing a technical foul that would give DeKalb two free throws.

Though it was a tight game, Womack was willing to give up the two points. It was more important to help his senior guard and co-captain deal with his grief by playing.

Over on the other bench, though, Rohlman wasn't so willing to take them. He told the referees to forget the technical and just let Franklin play.

"I could hear them arguing for five to seven minutes, saying, `We're not taking it, we're not taking it," Womack said. "The refs told them, no, that's the rule. You have to take them."

That's when Rohlman asked for volunteers, and McNeal's hand went up.

He went alone to the free throw line, dribbled the ball a couple of times, and looked at the rim.

His first attempt went about two feet, bouncing a couple of times as it rolled toward the end line. The second barely left his hand.

It didn't take long for the Milwaukee players to figure out what was going on.

They stood and turned toward the DeKalb bench and started applauding the gesture of sportsmanship. Soon, so did everybody in the stands.

"I did it for the guy who lost his mom," McNeal told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "It was the right thing to do."

They may not remember our record 20 years from now, but they'll remember what happened in that gym that night.

Franklin would go on to score 10 points, and Milwaukee Madison broke open the game in the second half to win 62-47. Afterward, the teams went out for pizza, two players from each team sharing each pie.

Franklin stopped by briefly, thankful that his team was there for him.

"I got kind of emotional but it helped a lot just to play," he said. "I felt like I had a lot of support out there."

Carlitha Franklin's funeral was last Friday, and the school turned out for her and her son. Cheerleaders came in uniform, and everyone from the principal and teachers to Johntel's classmates were there.

"Even the cooks from school showed up," Womack said. "It lets you know what kind of kid he is."

Basketball is a second sport for the 18-year-old Franklin, who says he has had some scholarship nibbles and plans to play football in college. He just has a few games left for the Knights, who are 6-11 and got beat 71-36 Tuesday night by Milwaukee Hamilton.

It hasn't been the greatest season for the team, but they have stuck together through a lot of adversity.

"We maybe don't have the best basketball players in the world but they go to class and take care of business," Womack said. "We have a losing record but there's life lessons going on, good ones."

None so good, though, as the moment a team and a player decided there were more important things than winning and having good stats.

Yes, DeKalb would go home with a loss. But it was a trip they'll never forget.

"This is something our kids will hold for a lifetime," Rohlman said. "They may not remember our record 20 years from now, but they'll remember what happened in that gym that night."

Friday, February 20, 2009

Welcome Home, Jimmy!!!

After serving his country with 443 day in Iraq;

The Brothers McC are honored to say:

Welcome Home, Jimmy!!!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

"Sneakers" - the movie

Every once in a while – a fun movie comes and goes without too much recognition – but then, later – through the miracles of “rentals” and “cable” the movie starts to take on a life of its own (re: “The Princess Bride”).

Here’s another movie that you should rent if you’re in the mood for a “fun” movie night: “Sneakers”

Originally released in September of 1992, and featuring a stellar cast led by Robert Redford & Sidney Poitier, this is one of those movies that takes the viewer on a pretty exciting ride.

One review I read stated this: Sneakers is a cleverly written, rapidly paced, and blessedly non-violent thriller. It's a terrific vehicle for Robert Redford, who's in top form in a role tailored to his strengths. His relaxed, intelligent charm is a good foil for the eccentric characters of his colleagues, including David Strathairn, who plays a blind computer whiz. Each of them has his (or her) own quirky appeal, and together they create a team that functions according to its own loopy logic.

So, as you look for that fun, family friendly movie this weekend, give “Sneakers” a try!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

I Came To Dance

OK … lately I’ve been on a bit of a Motown kick. And, lo and behold – the February Issue has a great article on the 100 Greatest Tracks Of Motown.

I love articles like this – because there is never a definitive answer to the question; “What the best … ?”

So, after reading through MOJO’s picks, I thought I’d add mine. Anyone else who feels the need to chime in … please do.

10) “Superstition” – Stevie Wonder
This is the sound of a man changing the way music was written, recorded and played.

9) “I Want You Back” – The Jackson 5
I wore this record out. It was tough to pick just one – but I did,

8) “Dancing In The Streets” – Martha & The Vandellas
Go ahead … try to keep your ass in your seat when this comes through the speakers … I defy you!!!

7) “Aint No Mountain High Enough” – Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell
I’ll admit it – I love the duets, and this duet nails it! And (if you believe the history of this track) it’s amazing that Marvin & Tammi sang their tracks without the other being there.

6) “Just My Imagination” – The Temptations
I really tried to list 10 separate artists for this Top Ten; but for all the bluster that is found on ‘Aint Too Proud To Beg’ – here the Temps bring all the beauty. Vocals that have yet to be match on the gazillion versions I’ve heard of this track.

5) “Reflections” – The Supremes
This song ruled my “mix tapes” for a while. It’s really hard to find a song that captures the production, lyrics and perfect vocals that they put on tape for this track.

4) “What’s Going On” – Marvin Gaye
The beauty of this song transcends time, race, age, fears, music and politics. Not only the vocals, but the true human spirit that Marvin Gaye brings to this track still chills my spine.

3) “Aint Too Proud To Beg” – The Temptations
From that slam-bang intro, to the full throated vocals, and head on collision arrangements, this songs feels like a train stream rolling down the tracks, no brakes – no conductor – just a man on his knees – trying to reclaim his lost love.

2) “What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted” – Jimmy Ruffin
With the possible exception of ‘The Last Waltz’ version of The Band’s “It Makes No Difference” – I do not think there has ever been – or ever will be a better track about being broken hearted. You do not even need to understand the English language to understand (and feel) Jimmy’s heartbreak in this song.

1) “Reach Out I’ll Be There” – The Four Tops
This song will always get me moving, singing, dancing, driving faster, turning the radio up louder … you name it! For me, this is as good as it gets!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Would You Have Noticed?

A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin. It was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousands of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by, and a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds - and then hurried up to meet his schedule.

A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping - continued to walk.

A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention, was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried - but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk - turning his head al l the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money, but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in t he world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats average $100.

This is a real story:
Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?

One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be:
If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world - playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?

Read the full story here:

Joshua Bell's Website:

Friday, January 2, 2009

Slaid Cleaves

Happy New Year everybody!

I hope that everyone had a great, happy & healthy holiday – and that 2009 shapes up to be a great year for all.

For my first post of the year – a year that I will take my cue from the best music blog out there – “Teenage Kicks” (see our links section) – I want to occasionally bring to you some of the great music that is out there that might have slipped by your CD collection.

Over the holidays, I was listening to this guy – Slaid Cleaves – a lot. Slaid is one of those singer songwriters who people rave about – and I’ll be no different. The ease with which he delivers his songs is so seemingly effortless and smooth that you almost overlook the craft by which he has molded some of the best storytelling songs out there.

For those of you who don’t know his music – may I suggest his CD: “Broke Down” as a pretty good starting point? I was playing down at SXSW a few years back – and ended up sitting next to Slaid on stage during a “Songwriters In The Round” show – and Slaid nailed the title track of this CD during one round. As he finished, I leaned over to him and said, “Whatever CD that is on – I’m buying it as soon as we walk off this stage.”

Slaid & I ended up trading CD’s – and I fell in love with his music. Imagine if Springsteen had flushed out “Nebraksa” with a few great ‘Americana’ styled players and Emmylou singing harmonies – and that’s the general idea.

So … there you go … take a look & listen at his website – and then buy a CD (or two or three).

Till next time … meet me down at the Horseshoe Lounge.