Friday, August 31, 2012

Not My Cross To Bear -- The Allman Brothers

I have another one of those signature moments that defined a song’s place in my life to share with you.  Only this time it was not a chipper light-hearted moment.  You might even say that it gave me the blues.

All through junior high and high school I was friends with this guy.  We had been there for each other through bad times and good.  He had seen me at my worst and at my best.  He had always been a bit mischievous but once we graduated from high school he fell into a slow decline.  We still hung out and partied together but while I had started a life of working hard and playing hard, he blew off the hard work part and went head first into the play part.  He blew off his college classes and ended up having a report card that looked like Bluto Blutarski’s--zero point zero zero.  He eventually dropped out and started drifting from meager job to meager job.  

A lot of times when you're young, you fail to grasp the severity of this kind of stuff and that was what happened to me.  He was still the same old buddy to me.  I didn't judge him and I figured he would eventually find his way.  But it didn’t happen.  

I started to get a clue finally when he would start bragging about how he was scamming his employers.  He would work to gain their trust and when they gave him their trust, he would betray them by stealing merchandise and sometimes lifting money from the till.  It was around this time that I started to hang out with him less often.  

One day my roommate and I were sitting on our porch on a nice summer night drinking beer.  After not seeing my high school friend for some time, he suddenly appeared out of the blue.  We chatted for a bit and drank a couple more beers.    It was then that he revealed that he stopped by to ask us a favor.  He needed us to drive an hour or two north of Minneapolis to some cabin in the woods he was living in.  He needed us to help him move all his stuff out because the next day the sheriff was coming to evict him.  The water and power had already been turned off.

So there we were in the middle of the woods in rural Minnesota at one o’clock in the morning moving crap from his place to the house next door.  The guy next door wasn’t home, but our friend was telling us how cool this dude was because he sold opium.  Our friend offered to pay us in opium once we finished moving his stuff.  I politely said, “Maybe some other time.”

We were almost done at about three in the morning when this friend came up to me to thank me and he said, “This is what friend’s are for, right dude?  You can always count on them.”  I nodded half agreeing and then said, “Yeah, but you can’t be blindly loyal either.”  He didn’t respond to that.  I don’t think he got what I was saying.  

It was a long blue ride back to the city with my roommate.  We had known this guy for a long time, but we both knew that our friendship with him had come to an end.

We popped in this Allman Brothers tape for the long silent drive home and I will never forget the poignancy and timing of this song, “Not My Cross To Bear.”  Until this night it had just been another song in my collection.

Sorry I was such a bummer this time, but I highly recommend this song and the whole album. A pretty good deal for both.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Soul Long -- The Fabulous Wailers

It is alleged that the Jimi Hendrix song "Spanish Castle Magic" is an homage to seeing performances by The Fabulous Wailers at The Castle in Seattle, Washington.  Not sure if I buy it, but it makes for interesting reading, doesn't it?

Personally I am amazed that this group of dorky looking white guys from the early 60's play the Blues so convincingly.

The Wailers studio recordings are a bit tame.  Not like the song you just heard.  The album below recorded live at The Castle is way better.  There are several good songs.  Trust me, just buy it.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

You Gotta Work--Nathaniel Mayer

For a two and a half year period of my life, I was a yankee living below the Mason-Dixon line.  My wife and I had both lost our jobs after September, 11th and our son was almost a year old.  We needed to find a job and I found one in Memphis, TN.

We didn’t know anyone there.  I quickly realized that I needed a hobby other than going to the local bar.  Our backyard just so happened to have a shed in it.  I immediately started dreaming up my man cave designs.  I decided to take up screenwriting as my hobby and turned the shed into my writing room.  It got hot as Hell down there so I hooked up a window air conditioner.  I brought my old stereo receiver and tape deck out there.  I had a cool lamp and some of my artwork on the walls. 

As I became acquainted with Memphis, I discovered WEVL-FM.  It was an all volunteer community radio station like the one I used to volunteer at in Minneapolis--KFAI-FM.   There were two shows on that station that I could not get enough of.  One was called “It’s Always Something.”  This DJ had the most deadpan voice.  Each utterance sounded like he was so cynically disillusioned with life, that he couldn’t wait for it end.  In the meantime he played quirky and hilarious old recordings on Wednesday afternoons.  He would play Frank Zappa one minute and Groucho Marx the next.

The other show was, “Welcome To The Working Week.”  This guy was my musical soul brother.  He played a wide variety from old 60’s punk rock to Mahavishnu Orchestra.  He added a dose of vintage old blues and country too.

I liked these two shows so much, I would set my tape recorder in the morning to record one show, then come home for lunch and record the other.  Then once or twice a week, I would go out to my man cave and listen to those tapes and write.  I eventually made a “best of” series of CD’s for myself and I still listen to them all the time.

One of the great discoveries courtesy of WEVL was Nathaniel Mayer and this song, “You Gotta Work.”  I wish more bands had this level of smokin’ grooves once in a while.

It just so happens that you too can own this high energy tune.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Three Headed Spaceman--The Tailgators?

This is one of my favorite songs.  For some reason I like songs that aren't too serious.  I like fun, dumb tunes like this one that are basically about nothing.  I believe this song is from The Tailgators--the Texas Blues Rock band--but I am not sure.  Back when I was a volunteer DJ at KFAI-FM in Minneapolis, things were not particularly orderly.   I took a Tailgator's album from the record library shelf assuming the contents inside would match the cover.  However, there were several times when I pulled a record off the shelf and the contents did not match the cover.  Being the volunteer of the 2A to 6A shift I didn't always pay that close attention.  I discovered on my air-check tapes later that I incorrectly announced several of the artists I played because someone else put the wrong album inside the album case.

This may have happened with this song.  I don't know.  Regardless of whether this is The Tailgators or not, this song is awesome.  Take a listen.

Sorry, can't find a copy for sale.  You can always come back to this site to listen to it over and over and over again.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Special Announcment--YouTube Playlist

To all my loyal followers (all 5 or 6 of you).  I wanted to announce that No Old Fart Blues has created a YouTube Channel with Blues music playlists along with other types of playlists.  If Pandora doens't fulfill your houserockin' Blues needs, then my playlist should do the job.

Just go to YouTube and type in "No Old Fart Blues" in the search field and it will pop right up.



Wednesday, August 1, 2012

James Cotton--Boogie Thing

I made my first foray into Blues concerts in college when I went to see a band from Chicago called Big Twist and the Mellow Fellows.  They were alright, but not quite my speed.  I looked in the City Pages and saw that James Cotton was coming to a classic Minneapolis venue called The Cabooze.  The Cabooze was a great place to see the band and the bartender was some old childhood neighbor so I could always count on good pours from the bar.
So I’m at the Cabooze with my buddy and long-time Blues ally, Kent.  We found a place right at the corner of the stage by the keyboardist.  If I recall, the guy’s name was Eddie Harsh.  They’re playing the first set and the show is going well.
A tall, blonde West Bank looking dude (that’s Minneapolis vernacular for Hippie) strolls by and something falls from his person to the ground right by where Kent and I were standing.  It was a joint.  Kent casually leaned down hoping no one else noticed, picked it up and stuffed it in his cigarette pack.  For later, perhaps?
Shortly after, this Eddie Harsh leans over to Kent and asks to bum a cigarette (you could still smoke in bars in those days).  Kent takes one and flips it into his own mouth.  Then hands the pack to Eddie.  “Here, take the last one.”  Kent did this knowing the joint was still in there.  Eddie opened up the pack, looked in and did a double-take and looked at us as though saying, “You serious?”  We gave him the thumbs up.
The first act ended and the band took a break.  When they came back out on stage...  Well, let me quote the great Blues belter Wynonie Harris when he said, “Don’t roll those bloodshot eyes at me.”  Eddie, James Cotton and the Band were clearly in a different state of mind.   The show went on and just got better.  Kent and I couldn't help but feel that we had something do with it.

Anyway, here's a very foot-tapping number from James Cotton.

If you want to buy this tune, click on the link below.