Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I Love It When A Plan Comes Together

The Blaggards found themselves back at the Talkhouse on Friday night, playing to yet another great crowd of dancing fools. We have been doing roughly one night a month over the winter months and have built up a nice following with the locals. The support has been amazing - these people really like us, they really do. Even better we, in typical Blaggard's fashion, have not catered to them one iota. We play what we want and they dance like crazy and shout hooray. Ok, they don't actually shout hooray. It is so good to be in a band that doesn't have a bag, replete with all that comes with one. This doesn't mean we don't have a "sound" or a "look" - I imagine we do. But the sound changes, sometimes from song to song and the look, well ... oh, well.

We added a few new songs ... "Honky Tonk Mind" by Johnny Horton, "Tennessee Plates" by John Hiatt and brought back one we haven't played in a long time, "I'm Gonna Make You Love Me" by the Jayhawks. After our first set one of the guys from The Bastards Of Boom, a Talkhouse favorite, was hanging with us in the dressing room. He asked me to help settle an argument he was having with a friend about what the ratio was in regards to original songs to covers in our set. When I told him that they were all covers, he was pretty much in shock - either because he was embarrassed not to know the songs or that we had no real desire to play originals. I bastardized George Thorogood's quote in reply, "Why should we waste time writing songs when Bob Dylan has already written all the good ones?"

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

So Sad About Us

The judge in Macca's divorce trial made public his judgment, ignoring Heather's request not to do so stating that it could put her daughter in jeopardy. Its a good read, giving us some insights into both parties, some that we knew: she lies, and some that we didn't: Paul does birthday parties. For a million dollar donation, but man if I win the lottery I am having one special BBQ this year.

While the document doesn't tell us how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall, it does detail how much cash there is in Paul's wallet - a lot as if we didn't know - and how many houses - I lost count - he has scattered around the globe.

The link that I had for the doc seems to have been taken down, but I'm sure if you look you can find it.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Another One Bites The Dust

It is a simple fact of life that among the joy and festivities of the holiday season, sometimes we find ourselves to be the bearer of bad news. It is with the heaviest of hearts that I must disclose a sad event that took place within the Blaggards camp. Tom Ryan has officially run out of opinions.

At approximately 10:00 PM on Wednesday, December 5th during our weekly band dinner, Tom announced that "he actually liked the new Justin Timberlake CD" and in a sad and futile effort to put weight behind his words, made us listen to it.

The track he played, which thankfully went nameless preventing me from remembering anything about it, was infinite proof that Tom no longer was capable of rendering an opinion. An excellent example of the watered-down, over-processed pap that passes as R&B these days, Mr. Timberlake did his best Michael Jackson little boy warble over what sounded like a demo song on a portable keyboard.

The night had started off as usual. The Blaggards blasted through a bunch of songs in eager anticipation of the meal that Heidy was preparing upstairs. When we finished Tom took his customary post-practice shower, and ever the DJ, cued up his iTunes playlist which usually consisted of some esoteric, but somewhat listenable oddity that he "happened" to pull out that week. "This is a group of Monks who actually hum Thelonious Monk tunes - it's fascinating and I can't stop listening to it!" Then things went decidedly further south.

At first the Blaggards were speechless. Then we all thought it was a joke - occasionally Tom has shown flashes of a sense of humor. As we realized that he was actually serious we attempted to shake him out of it, hoping to give him a musical Heimlich maneuver sadly to no avail.

It may seem that watching a critic run out of opinions is like watching a baseball pitcher lose his arm or an opera singer lose her voice. However there is a major difference. In the case of critics, when they did have opinions, they didn't matter anyway. So although we felt a tinge of sadness with Tom's new found affections for Justin, we also took heart in the fact that we didn't have to listen to his comments on any other music from now on! After all, when Father Magillacuddy fondles little Timmy in the rectory, it kind of takes the punch out his Sunday homily. Yes, just like Imus, Barry Bonds and Senator Clark, we will never be able to look at Tom and his past opinions in quite the same way.

It is up to us to help him put a positive spin on this. Perhaps now he can concentrate on other things in his life, like oh let's say, drumming? It's not like being a critic was a good thing to begin with. Critics, like those fake holidays created by the greeting card companies, were created to sell newspapers, not as an actual meter of good or bad. The first critic, Og, was joyfully stoned to death after commenting on his neighbor's cave paintings. Unfortunately that sort of response has gone out of vogue. Similar to the old adage, "those who can do, those who can't teach" critics render opinions on the those who actually possess some kind of talent. If you care to argue that fact, read the previous sentence a few times aloud before going down that path. The simple truth is that critics are only useful to those who have absolutely no ability to determine whether they like something or not on their own. History is littered with their worthless rants - "Shakespeare, Smakespere" or "This Sinatra kid shouldn't quit his day job." Their attempts to be barometers of "cool" are even more pathetic - "Sigur Ros - The New Beatles!" or "Robert Pollard releases so much stuff that he must be a genius!"

You might attempt to build a case in arguing that even within things that suck, there are levels of suckiness. I am not going to dispute the fact the Justin Timberlake has legions of fans who deliver truck loads of money to his door every day. It's quite possible that among the insipid group of bland, ex-Mousekeeter pop stars that he is the best. However you can rest assured that aside from typing that last sentence I will never spend another second giving that any theory another thought. Sadly for Tom, he did and now is apparently no longer possess the ability to think rationally.

Tom Ryan is not the first person to be brought down by a moment of weakness. There are certainly any number of spirits - both ingested and imagined - that could have contributed to this gaff. Whatever the reason, it was still a sad moment to witness. In his defense he did try to slightly backspin his way to credibility by remarking that Timberlake was "hysterical on Saturday Night Live" a show that hasn't been truly funny since 1978. A sad and interesting ploy, as if being good at something else increases your musical validity. "I just found out that the bass player in Paper Lace likes kittens! Now I see "Billy Don't Be A Hero" in a whole new light!" Too little, too late Mr. Ryan.

As Blaggards do, we will stand by our man. That is until he attempts to get us to "appreciate" Mariah Carey or T-Pain. Then the only advice I can offer Tom is the last word that the aforementioned Og heard before the stones flew - Duck!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Eighty-Four G Gal

Wow. I'm sure it's not the final number, but eighty-four thousand dollars worth of sex is either A) a LOT of sex or B) some REALLY good sex. My friend Russ thought that it was based on the quality of the girl in question, but come on - most guys can nab a pretty decent gal for free and unless that amount of cash gets you Jessica Alba or Scarlet Johanssen, there isn't a need to spend that much on the selection. Kristen is certainly attractive and seems like a very nice girl. Friendly as well I assume.

I think we all know that what the Gov was paying for was silence - and that didn't seem to work out too well for him now, did it? Somebody is always willing to beat your price - or sell your dirty laundry to the highest bidder.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Gary Jude Anderson

There are people who drift in and out of your life and the good ones are always as welcome as those first days of spring. They just make you feel good to see them. I've known Gary Jude for well over 20 years, and although we didn't hang out on a regular basis when our paths did cross I welcomed the chance to chat and catch up.

When Gary's mom called me on Friday, I knew instantly that the news was not going to be good. He had suffered a stroke a few years back which took it's toll. We were all shocked when he showed up at the Elvis show needing a cane to walk and obviously still recovering. Gary was all about the show - he wasn't going to let this setback slow him down at all. His performance was inspirational to say the least. Over the last two years his health was improving - he no longer needed the cane, his speech was much better and he was driving again. He was singing with the Northport Choral and was in great spirits, laughing and telling stories at the rehearsals for this year's show.

Those of you who knew Gary know what a unique individual he truly was. He was always Gary. He was not a slave to any fashion or trend. He had his own sense of style and stuck with it. He was passionate about music and loved to talk about it as much as he obviously enjoyed being on stage. I worked with Gary in the New Bohemians, the group that eventually became The Scofflaws. Gary's performances, whether it be his near channeling of James Brown to his spaghetti eating during our version of "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly," were sublime. He was always a welcome guest at Purple Gang gigs and he had been with The Elvis Show from the very beginning - a favorite of both the fans and the performers.

Gary suffered a massive stroke that took his life after a couple of days in the hospital. I was thankful that we did touch base this year - at the last minute - so he was able to take part in this year's show. He did a great job as usual and he was able spend time with some old friends. I know that on whatever journey he is on now, he making new ones.