Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Bush, Oil, Thomas Jefferson and The California Energy Crisis

Clay Jenkins the host of the Thomas Jefferson Hour is fond of saying that he thinks George W. Bush "has" our best interest at heart. I think Clay is being naive on purpose as to not offend, and to make a larger point about political discourse (of which I agree - love his show) and that W. is not scheming against us. Well that may be the truth specifically but when the man says - out of his own mouth - that his real constituents are not the have nots, or the haves, but the have mores - we are all in trouble. From Cheney's secret commission on energy policy to Karl Rove's gutter campaign tactics this man has been bad for America at home and across the globe. They liken him to Hitler in Europe.

A word on gasoline prices - they have mysteriously gone done. Now before you snap back at me - as a conspiracy nut - the excuses for them being so high in the first place were China's consumption and the lack of refineries (not oil) - well those scenarios haven't changed. Oil pricing shouldn't be a mystery that we just accept. These companies are in business to sell oil so we won't see higher mileage standards on cars as long as their minions run the legislative body. That's bad for the environment, bad for our pocket books, bad for the economy (overall) and bad for national security. Inaction on this issue is bad for America. With full control of the legislative agenda this should have been done 9/12/01 and should have been a top priority because of it's national security implications. If it wasn't for oil we wouldn't be in the mideast and would be drawing up the final borders of Isreal and Palestine by now.

Is it beyond imagination that powerful men "game" the market to control the political landscape and keep power to maximize their profits? I think back to the California energy crisis and how that was foisted on the citizens of California in fraudulent ways. Out of petulance the Republican President hung California out to dry with weeks of inaction because they didn't vote for him or because his Enron stock was skyrocketing. That was another poor decision by a short sighted man who knows how to win ugly and lie to get his way but not how to govern with wisdom or lead with dignity and precision. The waste of tax payer money in subsidies to big oil, bridges to nowhere, and the unforgivable transgressions on the Separation of Church and State doom this fool son of a Presidential father to the dust bin of history. Hopefully James Baker will reel him in and prevent him from doing further damage and making a real mark on human history by invading another country.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Stem Cell Research, Michael J. Fox, and Fatso

The - "there are no results" - so don't federally fund argument is pathetic - it takes decades upon decades to advance medical knowledge. Should we stop looking for the cure for cancer? We haven't found it yet (going on fifty years now if not more)

I feel strongly that tax payer money should be used wisely and that the current congress and administration is just throwing our money in the street. How many Iraqi nationals have bolted the Middle East with millions of our tax dollars and no one is even talking about it - how about the millions in subsidies to Exxon/Mobile who ran gas prices up to $3.50 a gallon claiming China was using too much oil? Did China stop using oil -all of a sudden - oh no wait there's an election. But we all know how honorable our Captains of industry and political leaders are they wouldn't use price controls to manipulate the market and political landscape. Come on how naive do you have to be. Business is ruthless and the law is bent, ignored and disgraced in order to get away with what you can get away with.

We waste tax payer money on bridges to nowhere but don't federally fund stem cell research because why - we are compassionate conservatives, or because we are courting a certain voter block that has above average fanaticism to vote than the general middle class. Let's think long and hard about that. Stem cell research like abortion, welfare reform, activist judges, immigration are "wedge" issues meant to get out the vote. It has nothing to do with science, the validity of the science or the intelligent use of tax payer money. It's about staying in power to further game the system to your advantage. Rush is a stooge because he thinks his lock step pandering gets him favor with those higher up gaming the system. No one respects him except the gullible he manipulates on the powerful's behalf. They used to call "wedge issues" political footballs. Because the religious zealots (who are ruining the world everywhere as per usual) are more passionate about voting they get lip service from the frauds in the White House. The biggest problem for the republican grip on power is that this voting block now understands that Bush isn't the "Pastor in Chief" but a reformed drug and alcohol abuser who has built his life and career on a series of lies and used them (they allowed themselves to be duped).

Except for the most devout Bush has lost the flock so to speak. But don't worry their irrational agenda of dumbing down the Constitution won't go away. They'll continue to seek a national religion to reaffirm their beliefs, and strip us of our freedoms all in the name of some board of governors sitting at the hierarchy of the political Church and their individual quest for power and control.

None of this has anything to do with god or Jesus because "what would Jesus do" he would help people and the Republican Party is way short on that one. The goal is power people - that's what they are all fighting for in the mid east and why gutter politics is the norm. The citizens must stop aligning themselves blindly to either party or candidate or personality or even news source and start thinking about electing the best people, not the best, wealthiest campaigners. I would shy away from them as obviously they have more people to answer to before they get to our concerns (the working stiffs).

Watch Rush here it's just plain ugly and classless.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

George Bush Liar in Chief

This from Dick Pollman's Blog Yesterday.

...Conservative columnist David Brooks, assessing the mood of moderate northeastern Republicans in The Times yesterday, said it well: “The core problem with suburban voters is not the decision to go to war; it’s the White House’s reaction to the mess afterward…The people in (suburban) offices manage information for a living, and when they see Republicans denying obvious trends, or shutting out relevant data, they say to themselves, ‘Those people are not like me.’ So there goes your majority.”...

My response -
Bingo - the last paragraph say's it all - you can not mange anything successfully with that kind of an arrogant, flat out stupid attitude. New information comes daily. Yes have a core set of ethics, and values but when denial is one of them you are in big trouble. I find it interesting that a President with a past history of abusing cocaine and alcohol has a denial problem. Go figure!

Most addictive personalities have this problem. We by ignoring his past alcohol and drug abuse - which he had to turn to religion (another opiate of the people) to cure - have elected (twice now) a man who is not honest and worst of all for all of us and worse for him personally - not honest with himself.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Wake Up America

The problem with America is that we treat the Democratic Party and the Republican Party like two football teams we are rooting for based on very loose campaign slogans or cheers.

As if the Democratic Party is really for high taxes - that's a heck of a campaign slogan but not reality just as if all Republicans are fiscal conservatives. If that were the case we wouldn't have the largest deficit in history. This one is good "the liberal media" If the media is so liberal how come Air America Radio went in bankruptcy? Sorry the airwaves are overwhelmingly radicalized by Rush and Fox. There is no parallel on the left even PBS is corporate and under represents the left.

So until we as the citizens wise up and stop thinking about the two party system as teams we belong to and gosh aren't I so smart listen to me parrot the talking points, and until we stop falling for the rhetoric and swift boating tactics of the Karl Roves of the world ... and until we realize we have turned the country over to a bunch of elitist frat boys we are stuck with their arrogant, above the law behavior.

They take care of the "have mores" and leave the rest of us out of the dialogue. Please this year ignore the (d) or (r) after the politicians name and elect the best man or woman for the job. Elect leaders of merit, or we will be stuck with political hacks, featherbedding their own portfolios and greedily taking money from whomever.

Their votes to build bridges to nowhere, to give uber wealthy citizens tax cuts and not the middle class and giving the oil companies who made record profit subsidies (more of our tax dollars) is evidence of our politicians taking care of those that take care of them. The voters are an inconvenience. We are being righteously ripped off people. How about a reduction in the payroll tax? Is anybody talking about that? No! Why not? Because it doesn't affect the uber wealthy and their politicians it affects us Joe Six Packs only. It's not even thought about on the Hill. Imagine the boost to the economy and retirement savings if we all got to keep more of our take home pay. If the Republicans are such aggressive tax cutters why not start there? Because we don’t write the big checks. People – please, please wake up! They don't vote on what’s best for the country at large they vote on what’s best for the people giving them campaign dollars and to keep that money flowing into their accounts so they can keep their jobs.

Come on people stop debating the smoke screens and political footballs (illegal immigration, gay marriage, activist judges). Would you rather ban gay marriage or have more take home pay? Stop falling for the so called wedge issues and what’s being broadcasted on the airwaves, and vote your pocket book! VOTE YOUR POCKET BOOK! YOUR POCKET BOOK not Annenberg’s, or Cheney’s or Rockefellers, or Paris Hilton’s.

A return to public financing of all campaigns and the league of women voters running the debates and we have a prayer to right this ship and return this government to the people. Whether you like it or not this country has been hijacked by the richest 1% and your best interests have nothing (NOTHING) to do with their goals of importing jobs overseas and depositing the money they make in this country in an offshore tax free bank account. In the meantime our citizens fight and die to protect the oilfields that run those businesses. We are getting a raw deal people. Those of you who think by associating with either side (democratic or republican) that means you are in their club - uhah - no way - unless you are the one who wrote the big fat check and you've got politicians with their nose up your a** looking for your checkbook - you are not even outside parking the cars.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Rory Block

People who know me or recall the radio show know that I am a big fan of Rory’s. I have traveled great distances to listen to her play and sing. There is always something larger going on at a Rory Block show than the playing and singing of an amazing talent. There always seems to be a hush over the room. We know we are getting pure, unfiltered, raw blues and heartfelt sincerity. Rory spins her tales of musical history and her experiences like she's talking to old friends. You are brought into the process and in a larger way her audience is welcomed into her heart. Her spirited playing and singing cross the realm of entertainment into a history lesson of the blues and type of revival meeting all at the same time. Rory takes her spirituality seriously but it’s not overbearing and love is a tiny word to express her playing, singing and camaraderie with her fans. Rory is a true champion of the blues. Robert Johnson, Charlie Patton, Tommy Johnson, Furry Lewis, Reverend Robert Wilkins, Reverend Gary Davis and Willie Brown are all founding fathers of the modern age of the blues and Rory distinguishes herself while interpreting their music and playing her own.

Rory has been at this a long time and after the usual mis-steps of the big, corporate money machine, music industry (notice how music comes after money in that description) Rory shed the bogus image of her first few albums and has since created a wide ranging catalogue of wonderful music. To get started I would purchase Best Blues and Originals off the Rounder label. Twenty songs with an amazing array of guest artists this CD pulls from her entire history up to its release date of 1987. Mama's Blues is another one of my favorites and came out in 1991. I think it's her most accessible disc of music to date but to be honest I have not heard them all. There are three other albums I would like to mention. First off Confession of a Blues Singer is very, very good released in 1988. It's a delta blues tour de' Force mixed with her own more lyrical and melodic tunes about her life. However, on track number four she lets her son Jordan do some unfortunate growling - if it wasn't for this cut - this would be my favorite Rory disc - my advise get the disc and program it to jump track four.

House of Hearts is something different from Rory. Instead of a delta blues laden effort this album is a softer, deeply contemplative effort written in the aftermath of a loss of a loved one. Rory attacks this effort with the same open and honest playing that punctuates her blues. It is a dark, misty affair but if you have the courage a trip well worth taking. It is this album that brought me to Rory and showed me the beauty and complexity of her as a person and an artist. Rock n' My Sock is a completely different vibe, fun and irreverent I really enjoy this album. When a Woman Get's The Blues is a wonderful effort that showcases her beautiful voice and delivers more of what the hardcore delta blues fan might expect. Finally, High Heeled Blues - I hated the title because it reflected poorly what was going on here with Rory and her music. The fact that she is a woman is irrelevant to her playing and I think the title is a bit misleading. Plus I've never seen Rory in heels unless you count cowboy boots. This is a great, great collection and a straight ahead blues effort. I was totally surprised the first time I listened. The first few cuts are sparse and reminds me of Hot Tuna's Acoustic Live Disc (with death don't have no mercy). Rory breaks out the barrel roll piano in one cut and then goes biblical with the Water is Wide. This is such a powerful rendition that it became the first Rory Block tune I ever played on my show. I tended towards the secular.

A note on that point: Religion is deeply personal in my book and organized religion has made a mockery of love and tolerance as it wages war to gain riches and power. Suffice to say I shied away from overtly religious tunes espousing one particular saint or savior over another. I like my religion emanating from within drawn from the myriad of examples and experiences that life has put forth both in thought and form. I don’t think it should be broadcasted. Religion is an internal journey of self discovery and no one else can tell you about it, describe it for you, or enhance your own experience. What works for you may not work for the other fellow. As individuals we must respect that and honor the journey of self discovery that each of us has to go through in this life. Religion is as deeply individual as the next person and up for interpretation based on point of view and imagination. Anything less is just parroting doctrine or blindly serving an agenda that may be extremely dangerous, power hungry, or self aggrandizing.

A digression like that although hardly relevant for most music reviews is essential for Rory Block. With Rory there is something larger going on here than just entertainment and hot licks. Rory is the real deal a flat out beautiful, singer, player and person. Her playing and singing and writing come from a true source. It has a multitude of experiences and an honest and essential appreciation of the traditions and struggles that have gone on that gave rise to those traditions. If you are lucky enough to have her visit your area get in the car, walk, bum a ride but get to see her and visit with her after the show. She is in my opinion an American icon a treasure on par with Mark Twain and deserves a Kennedy award and all the accolades we can heap on her. She's the best and it was an honor to play her music on the air!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Peter Frampton

He's back and in fine form. Over the weekend I finally got to see Peter Frampton in an outstanding show that had the crowd begging for more. Everyone was on their feet and thousands braved a cold night to hear this legend. Yes our very own Peter Frampton of long hair and teen idol mismanagement. Exploited, over sold and over played. Well behind the colossal image and the ridiculous corporate marketing lies an incredibly gifted player, writer and singer. The man is a triple threat and no one was having more fun than him on stage. With a ridiculous back catalogue from the Herd, Humble Pie and his own thirty year career there is a lot to sift through. I am by no means a fanatic. I have no clue when picking through his immense catalogue but these three discs have worked for me.

First off let’s get the "best of" out of the way. I went with the red album cover "Greatest Hits" off of the A&M label. Well they must have had a fan pick these hits because it cuts right to the heart of his library with 14 great songs from the 70's. They are all there and in pretty good order. Next was a surprise for me. The 1994 "Peter Frampton" studio album; you haven't heard any of these songs except for maybe "off the hook". This disc just flat out rocks and surprised the daylights out of me. I mean I was really blown away. This album is instantly accessible and just right on the money. I guess it took poor Peter until 1994 to get free and clear of all the image and b.s. to finally make a studio album worth a damn. It is really that good and just when you are craving for an old familiar song there are four acoustic bonus tracks. After the blistering guitar work and award winning pop sensibility as well as thoughtful lyrics these acoustic tracks are a perfect topper. Total number of songs is sixteen. The disc runs seventy four minutes (I'm recalling).

So what's a fan to do - well we have to check out the new stuff. In 2003 Peter released "Now". This CD is worth it just for the outstanding version of ”While My Guitar Gently Weeps” which clocks in at 6:59. He did his old mate George proud. But the rest of the album is rock solid. I'm a little put off by the first track but by the time you are into the third cut you have that real good Frampton vibe, melody, lyrical, riffing tunes not too jarring but plenty of power and dexterity to make any gear head, scale hungry, chop running freak pay proper respects. This is a really good listen and after it rotates through your cd player for a couple of tunes you'll be rocking out with anthem like "I Need Ground", grinning at "I'm Back" and thinking of classic Jeff Beck during "Greens."

I will be purchasing his new "Fingerprints" just because I'm happy to see Peter back. Our musical landscape needs him. Thank you Peter from the bottom of my heart and by all means "Welcome Back" - what a great show, and night. We had a blast but I think Peter had more fun than us and wasn't that great to see? Can't wait for the next show!

Partial set list from memory 10/13/06 - Norfolk, Virginia:

Off The Hook
Signed, Sealed, Delivered (contractually appropriate)
Show Me The Way
All I Want To Be (Is By Your Side)
New Songs from Finger Prints**
Boot It Up
Black Hole Sun
I Want To Go To The Sun
Baby I Love Your Way
Do You Feel Like We Do
I Don't Need No Doctor (Classic 60's Rocker - Humble Pie Days)
While My Guitar Gently Weeps (great piano break out)

He didn't look like a man going through the motions - oh well here are my hits - no way – he was totally invigorated and embracing his hits, past, voice box and totally at peace with the whole shebang. It was fun to see that and be there. Way to go Peter some artists never get over themselves.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Where's Ken Starr When We Need Him?

I would love to hear from Ken Starr about this latest sex scandal. Or does Ken only care about when democrats get caught with their pants down? By the way the horror exhibited over adult consensual sex better be eclipsed by the very same people who tried to witch hunt and impeach President Clinton. This latest travesty and cover up is way worse when you think of the fact these boys were minors. Let's see our family value - one religion for all - tramplers of the Constitution and revokers of the Bill of Rights stand up to be heard now - freakin' hypocrites. Politicians are like diapers - they are filled with the same stuff and need to be changed often! (not sure where I heard that first but it's dead on)

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Marshall Tucker Band!

I am way over due to salute, pay respects to, honor and proclaim that The Marshall Tucker Band has a ferocious place in my heart. With the driving rhythm of George McCorkle and the brothers Toy and Tommy Caldwell this band blew everyone away. Drummer Paul Riddle was heavily influenced by Buddy Rich and brought a wonderful syncopation to the bands tunes. Don't blow that last line off Buddy Rich was a wild man and a drummer’s drummer his influence on Paul is not to be underrated in Paul's underpinning of the band along with Tommy’s unsung heroics on bass.

Okay the flute - what the hey is that flute doing in a rock n' roll band. Well it ain't prog rock. Jerry Eubanks brought a wonderful transition to the tunes that Toy wrote. That flute would permeate and float out above the wagon train careening, wild riding sound of the band while Toy's lead was the drivers whip pushing the melody forward. No mere three minutes ever did this band justice. No these high school buds looking to meet chicks bore down and tore open a can of sheer whoop ass on stage. The venue was anywhere USA. The avenue were the chord progressions played powerfully, plain and straight forward like a country road, and the lyrics the simple truths of life captured in the human spirit. Listening to this band was like riding a wild herd of horses out of the valley and onto the horizon chasing the wind, the sun and the hours. Much has been written about Toy's playing style but he determined tone and power by a thumb that just went from his heart to the strings without a breath. Mark Knopfler and Derek Trucks also employee the thumb attack my guitar worshiping friends. There must be something to it. Last but not least Doug Gray was the powerhouse vocal that gave tone and texture to Toy's music. He reaches back every night to this day obliterating convention and giving voice to the expression of Southern righteousness to which we all can relate.

Marshall Tucker is an American treasure and its history, roots and legacy should not be dismissed. Toy wrote the lion share of the songs but I doubt they were created in a vacuum without input from his brother and band mates. I can not do this group justice with words get their music back out and listen. Their music paints a vivid landscape as I lose myself in their spirit, energy, passion and drive. Their music sounds like the setting sun on the Blue Ridge Mountains or a whiskey soaked dance hall. Stomp your feet to a country guitar! Stomp your feet to a hillbilly band! I have rarely experienced the sheer joy of life so completely through music as I have with this band, and I have listened to and played a ton of music from Mozart to Marley and back again. I’m either up Running like the Wind or weigh laid by their low down country blues. This ain’t polished, commercialized Nashville. This is the real heartland before it got marginalized and homogenized. Take the Highway, Can’t You See, Ramblin’, Hillbilly Band, New Life, 24 Hours at a Time, you know the tunes and I know the reason why he’s thinkin’ about the Promised Land and those Blue Ridge Mountain Sky's. The Marshall Tucker Band is pure and comes from a pure spot. They are just exactly what one would expect from the unfiltered foothills of the Blue Ridge, from the land. They are playing music for the sheer love of it and it shows without hype and celebrity and just for fun! Talk about hitting the note they blow the notes off the page and damn near bring tears to my eyes every time!