Thursday, March 31, 2016


March 1, 2016
"Snowman" performed by XTC
"The Fox In The Snow" performed by Belle And Sebastian
"Winter" performed by Tori Amos
"Bad Weather" performed by The Supremes
"White Winter Hymnal" performed by Fleet Foxes

March 2, 2016
"Won't Get Fooled Again" performed by The Who
"Sunday" performed by Iggy Pop-WSPC PREMIERE
"One" performed by Esperanza Spalding-WSPC PREMIERE
"Forever Damaged (The 96th)" performed by P.M. Dawn
"Zoo Station" performed by U2

March 3, 2016
"Love Over Gold" performed by Dire Straits
"Dust In The Wind" performed by Todd Rundgren
"Harry Hippie" performed by Bobby Womack
"Emerald Eyes" performed by Fleetwood Mac
"Can't Stop Killing You" performed by Kirsty MacColl

"This Time (I'm Gonna Try It My Way)" performed by DJ Shadow

March 4, 2016
"Hello" performed by Erykah Badu with Andre 3000-WSPC PREMIERE
"Greatdayndamornin'/Booty" performed by D'Angelo
"Good Morning" performed by Lenny Kravitz
"Good Morning" performed by Kanye West
"Moanin'" performed by Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers

"Overkill" performed by Men At Work
"When I Wake Up Tomorrow" performed by Cheap Trick-WSPC PREMIERE

March 5, 2016
"Shake Hands With Danger" performed by Tortoise-WSPC PREMIERE
"You Know I'm Right" performed by David Gilmour
"A Sort Of Homecoming" performed by U2
"Life Of Pause" performed by Wild Nothing-WSPC PREMIERE
"Into The Lens" performed by Yes

March 7, 2016
"Woodstock" performed by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young
"Day's Dawning" performed by Peter Frampton
"Sometime In The Morning" performed by The Monkees
"Peace Of Mind" performed by Boston
"Don't Interrupt The Sorrow" performed by Joni Mitchell
"Free Man In Paris" performed by Joni Mitchell
"There's No Way Out Of Here" performed by David Gilmour

March 8, 2016
"Woman" performed by John Lennon
"Video" performed by India.Arie
"Ladies First" performed by Queen Latifah featuring Monie Love

March 11, 2016
November 2, 1944-March 10, 2016

"That Day Is Done" performed by Paul McCartney
"Chicago" performed by Graham Nash
"Welcome To The Terrordome" performed by Public Enemy
"Revolution" performed by Bob Marley and the Wailers
"Lucky Man" performed by Emerson, Lake & Palmer

"Hold On" performed by Gary Clark Jr.

March 12, 2016
"Ain't That A Shame" (live at Budokan) performed by Cheap Trick
"Zero" (live) performed by The Smashing Pumpkins
"Trampled Underfoot" (live) performed by Led Zeppelin
"Soul Power/Cold Sweat" (live in Zaire 1974) performed by JAMES BROWN
"Stay" (live 1976) performed by David Bowie

March 13, 2016
"One Sunday Morning (Song For Jane Smiley's Boyfriend)" performed by Wilco
"Karn Evil 9: 2nd Impression" performed by Emerson, Lake & Palmer

"Prepare Your Coffin" (live) performed by Tortoise
"Ah Yeah" performed by The Robert Glasper Experiment with Musiq and Chrisette Michele
"Strange Blessing" performed by Vernon Reid & Masque
"Bird Story" performed by Les McCann

March 14, 2016
"Pi" performed by Kate Bush
"Monday" performed by The Sea And Cake
"Prince Namor" performed by Isotope 217
"Bright Light Black Site" performed by The Jeff Parker Trio
"Says Who" performed by Donny McCaslin 
"Judas" performed by Esperanza Spalding-WSPC PREMIERE

"Near Wild Heaven" performed by R.E.M.
"Plug Tunin' (Last Chance To Comprehend)" performed by De La Soul
"Hot Coffee" performed by Tortoise-WSPC PREMIERE

March 15, 2016
"Tiny Daggers" performed by INXS
"Everywhere At Once" performed by The Plimsouls
"Eaten By The Monster Of Love" performed by Sparks
"She Talks In  Stereo" performed by Gary Myrick and the Figures
"Maria" performed by Blondie

March 17, 2016
"Top O' The Morning To Ya" performed by House Of Pain

"Can't Help Falling In Love With You" performed by Lick The Tins
"Mull Of Kintyre" performed by Paul McCartney and Wings
"Give Ireland Back To The Irish" performed by Paul McCartney and Wings
"Teenage Kicks" performed by The Undertones
"And It Stoned Me" performed by Van Morrison
"Lucky Ones" performed by Loverboy

"Tristessa" performed by The Smashing Pumpkins
"Jellybelly" performed by The Smashing Pumpkins
"Mina Loy (M.O.H.)" performed by Billy Corgan
"Ride A Black Swan" performed by Zwan

March 20, 2016
"The Adventures Of Rain Dance Maggie" performed by Red Hot Chili Peppers

"The First Days Of  Spring" performed by Noah and the Whale
"Happiness Is Easy" performed by Talk Talk
"Ladybird" performed by XTC
"Talk About The Passion" performed by R.E.M.
"Moving, Shaking" performed by Great Lake Swimmers
"Waking Light" performed by Beck

"Bockagol/Allas Sak" (live Oct. 14, 2015) performed by Dungen
"Light/Sun" performed by Jan Hammer
"Cloudburst Flight" performed by Tangerine Dream

March 21, 2016
"Over And Over" performed by Fleetwood Mac
"Morning Bell" performed by Radiohead
"Mr. Wright" performed by The Claypool Lennon Delirium-WSPC PREMIERE

March 22, 2016
"No Thugs In Our House" performed by XTC
"Under The God" performed by Tin Machine
"Survivalism" performed by Nine Inch Nails
"No Church In The Wild" performed by Jay-Z & Kanye West
"21st Century Schizoid Man" (live 1969) performed by King Crimson

March 23, 2016

November 20, 1970 - March 23, 2016

"8 Million Stories" performed by A Tribe Called Quest
"Butter" performed by A Tribe Called Quest
"Check The Rhime" performed by A Tribe Called Quest
"Mr. Muhammad" performed by A Tribe Called Quest
"Dear Dilla" performed by Phife Dawg

March 25, 2016

"Out Of The Blue"
"Dan Dare (Pilot Of The Future)"
"Better Off Dead"
"Elderberry Wine"
"Tiny Dancer"

"5150" performed by Van Halen

"I Want It Now" performed by Esperanza Spalding-WSPC PREMIERE
"Jesus, I/Mary Star Of The Sea" performed by Zwan
"Gethsemane" from "Jesus Christ Superstar"

March 26, 2016
"Love Hangover" performed by Diana Ross
"It Don't Hurt Now" performed by Teddy Pendergrass
"For The Good Times" performed by Al Green
"Jesus Children Of America" performed by Stevie Wonder
"You Can't Unring The Bell" performed by Funkadelic

"Mayonaise" (live 2016) performed by Billy Corgan and James Iha-WSPC PREMIERE

March 28, 2016
"See The Sun" performed by James Iha
"Loki Cat" performed by The Jimmy Chamberlin Complex
"To Forgive" performed by The Smashing Pumpkins

"Electric Relaxation" performed by A Tribe Called Quest
"Disarm" (live 2016) performed by Billy Corgan and James Iha-WSPC PREMIERE
"Maybe I'm Amazed" performed by Paul McCartney

March 30, 2016
"The Man Who Sold The World" (live on "Jimmy Fallon") performed by Michael Stipe-WSPC PREMIERE
"Untitled New Song" (live 2016) performed by Billy Corgan-WSPC PREMIERE
"The Day Is Coming" performed by My Morning Jacket
"Don't Be Sad" performed by Whiskeytown
"Cobwebs" (live) performed by Ryan Adams and the Cardinals

"You Never Responded..." (live) performed by Trophy Dad
"Amerinthine" (live 2016) performed by The Smashing Pumpkins with James Iha-WSPC PREMIERE

"Let It Rain" performed by Eric Clapton

March 31, 2016
"The Midnight Special" performed by Credence Clearwater Revival
"Early Morning Blues" performed by Muddy Waters
"Everyday I Have The Blues" performed by Fleetwood Mac
"My Starter Won't Star This Mornin'" performed by Lightnin' Hopkins
"Everything Gonna Be Alright" performed by Big Mama Thornton

Wednesday, March 30, 2016


1. "Freedom At Point Zero" performed by Jefferson Starship
2. "Time And A Half" performed by Post Social
3. "Murderess" performed by Power Station
4. "Restart" performed by Bilal
5. "Smooth Sailing" performed by Queens Of The Stone Age
6. "The 9:45 Wake Up Dream" performed by P.M. Dawn
7. "Mr. X" performed by Ultravox
8. "Swift Coin" performed by Land Of Talk
9. "Garden Of Earthly Delights" performed by XTC
10."Into You" performed by Trophy Dad
11. "Burning Bright" performed by General Public

1. "17 Days" performed by Prince and the Revolution
2. "Madonna Of The Wasps" performed by Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians
3. "Spice Train" performed by Thomas Dolby
4. "The Ghost Song" performed by The Doors
5. "You Can't Fix This" performed by Stevie Nicks with Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins and Remi Jaffe
6. "The Catastrophist" performed by Tortoise
7. "Seen And Not Seen" performed by Talking Heads
8. "No Road Romance" performed by Pete Townshend
9. "Bad Reputation" performed by Thin Lizzy
10."Randy Scouse Git" performed by The Monkees
11."When I Wake Up Tomorrow" performed by Cheap Trick
12."Good Night" performed by The Beatles

1. "Funky 15" performed by Dweezil Zappa
2. "Lyric" performed by Zwan
3. "Lie For A Lie" performed by Nick Mason & Rick Fenn with David Gilmour
4. "Karn Evil 9: 1st Impression Part 1" performed by Emerson, Lake & Palmer
5. "Needle In The Camel's Eye" performed by Brian Eno
6. "Led Zeppelin" performed by Tame Impala
7. "Sufficiently Breathless" performed by Captain Beyond
8. "Trapped" performed by Utopia
9. "Fight From The Inside" performed by Queen
10. "RNDZL" performed by Frank Zappa


1. "Good Lava" performed by Esperanza Spalding
2. "Volcano Girls" performed by Veruca Salt
3. "Boys On The Radio" performed by Hole
4. "Ordinary Day" performed by Dolores O'Riordian
5. "Blue Lamp" performed by Stevie Nicks
6. "Indeed" performed by Georgia Anne Muldrow
7. "Wildlife" performed by Cindy Blackman
8. "Do Right Woman-Do Right Man" performed by Aretha Franklin
9. "Hotel" performed by Tori Amos
10."Girls' Room" performed by Liz Phair
11. "Sufferin' Til Suffrage" performed by Essra Mohawk for "Schoolhouse Rock"

1. "Can't Stand It" performed by Wilco
2. "Everybody's World" performed by The Grays
3. "Say Anything" performed by Aimee Mann
4. "The First Taste" performed by Fiona Apple
5. "Whir" performed by The Smashing Pumpkins
6. "Half A Person" performed by The Smiths
7. "Appetite" performed by Prefab Sprout
8. "Invisible Man" performed by Joe Jackson
9. "Calling Sarah" performed by Jellyfish
10."Election Day" performed by Arcadia

Tuesday, March 29, 2016


Released September 6, 2010
Released 1982
Released August 19, 1985
Released June 14, 1971
Released February 19, 2016
NEW 2016 MUSIC: Ooh, that Steve Manley is an evil man!!! (just kidding...) You see, it was all supposed to be so very simple. Just head to B-Side records before going to work to pick up the new Esperanza Spalding album. I did just that but I found myself once again entranced by the music Steve was playing in the store that morning. The album in question was "Life Of Pause" by Wild Nothing, essentially the one-man-band plus friends project by indie musician Jack Tatum, and the songs and overall sound conjures up a 21st century version of dreamy, hazy mid 1980's UK alternative pop and rock. So far, it is a very intoxicating release and a most welcome musical surprise for 2016.
Released 2010
Released November 19, 1973
Released May 23, 1969
Released May 4, 2010
Released June 23, 2009
Released February 7, 2012

Sunday, March 27, 2016


Do you mind if I just gush for a little bit, dear readers and listeners?

You know, I feel that I really needed to have this particular moment within my musical life as this specific world has seen more than its share of sorrow over these past three months with the passings of one legendary musical figure after another, and in such quick succession. Even so, the level of joy I felt raised me significantly higher than I thought that I could have been raised but considering the event, I am more surprised that I have been able to float back down to Earth to write this latest posting.

Very late in the night on Saturday, March 26th, I was poking around Facebook, possibly stalling bedtime, when I stumbled across the very photograph that adorns this post. The photo itself was taken and subsequently tweeted by Linda Strawberry, an artist, musician and longtime friend of The Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan. Taken backstage after the latest performance by the band on their current L.A. stop on the "In Plainsong" tour, an acoustic/electric hybrid showcasing the full breadth of Corgan's songwriting, which includes material from Corgan's short lived band Zwan, solo and unreleased material plus Pumpkins selections, the photo in question features Pumpkins' guitarist Jeff Schroeder (band member since 2007), Billy Corgan himself, drummer Jimmy Chamberlin who has returned to the band for the second time to perform on the tour and then, nestled in between Corgan and Chamberlin was the figure that made me pause.

I looked at the photo again and again as I was truly unsure as to what I was seeing, figuring that it had to have been some sort of photoshopped gimmick. I wondered if it was even an older photo but due to the presence of Schroeder, it could not have been an image from the past. Indeed, what I was seeing was the face and full form of none other than James Iha, co-founder and original guitarist of The Smashing Pumpkins who infamously exited the band by uttering not even one word to his bandmates after the conclusion of their epic 4 hour farewell performance at Chicago's Metro on December 2, 2000.

Under the photo, I commented some dumbstruck questions which was then met with a reply of a You Tube fan video taken from that night's concert featuring Iha's arrival on-stage to rapturous, thunderous applause and Billy Corgan, taking Iha's hand for a moment, smiling broadly and exclaiming, "Yes, it's James Iha," while also giving him credit for co-creating the band and therefore the legacy all the way back in 1987. And then, both men, armed with two acoustic guitars began to play one of their rare co-compositions, "Mayonaisse," which opened a seven song set featuring selections from the universally heralded "Siamese Dream" period.
Watching the beautiful, graceful performance and seeing the photograph, I honestly almost began to tear up as this was a sighting and event I absolutely, positively never, ever and then never again would I ever have thought that I would witness. Yes, bands break up and reform all of the time. This is nothing new or remotely out of the ordinary. But, there have been some bands to not once reunite and I can more than understand the reluctance and/or the refusal, despite my deepest wishes as a fan.

Regarding The Smashing Pumpkins, I have more than championed Corgan's right to resurrect and continue making music under the band's name for the specific reasons that he is indeed the creative generator of essentially all of the band's material (completely so since the reformation) plus the fact that the name fully feels to represent Corgan's musical identity and vision regardless of whomever happens to join him, much like what we have seen with the likes of Robert Fripp and the many incarnations of King Crimson, Mick Fleetwood and John McVie with their revolving door of collaborators with Fleetwood Mac and also Joshua Homme with his co-conspirators within Queens Of The Stone Age to name a few.  

It has been and has remained an especially controversial choice for Corgan to have made for himself within the Smashing Pumpkins fan community, whom to this day still feel that without Iha or original bassist D'Arcy Wretsky, the band in question is not and will never be The Smashing Pumpkins. I, however, have not existed as a Pumpkins purist, feeling that Billy Corgan more than has earned the right to do whatever he wants and work with whomever he chooses to work with (even though he still confuses and confounds me from time to time--especially with the departures of bassist Nicole Fiorentino and drummer Mike Byrne).

Furthermore, and due to all of then internal tension the original foursome faced and endured together, I have felt that perhaps these may have been four individuals who made astonishing, transformative music despite the fact that perhaps they should have never even existed within the same room together. The tension obviously produced the music we all love but at what cost, considering the bad blood that has existed between the band members for so long? And I could not reconcile the idea of wishing four people who just may despise each other performing together upon a stage once again just to satisfy my, or any fan's needs, to relive the past, to recapture a memory, to fly through the window of nostalgia even just one more time. Life is too short but now, I am wondering if that harsh reality may have proven itself to have been a catalyst.

At this time, neither Billy Corgan, Jimmy Chamberlin or James Iha have spoken publicly about the events of the night before, so all is speculative. But even so, Corgan, in a recent interview with Rolling Stone, did mention that after all of this time, he had hoped to somehow find some peace with both Iha and Wretsky, especially as the once strained relationship with Chamberlin has obviously been repaired. Granted, this had nothing to do with the original band performing together again but if something like that were to ever occur, then considerable healing needed to take place. 

Over the past 16 years, Corgan has indeed made quite a number of nasty and even brutal comments regarding Iha, their time together and the fall out after the initial breakup. Iha has been disparaged for his supposed lack of talent to even the full quality of his character over and again while Iha, taking the high road as far as the media is concerned, stuck to the same answer of being proud of what was achieved in the past and refusing to offer any further comments whatsoever. That said, his silent departure from the band after the Metro concert was deafening in its finality. It would not be unlikely to wonder if Corgan felt abandoned, hurt and maybe even betrayed by Iha's actions, and while clearly he never experienced any sense of closure, he lashed outwards. And Iha, remaining silent, continued to hold his ground powerfully. 

But, now on March 26th, there they were...together again, performing "Soma," "Disarm," "Whir," "Rocket," "Spaceboy," "Today," plus an encore performance of The Rolling Stones' "Angie." Additionally, the band and audience as led by Corgan serenaded Iha with a rousing chorus of "Happy Birthday" complete with cake and candles to celebrate Iha's 48th birthday that night. Beaming smiles and embraces were abound and then, afterwards that photo was taken.

The Pumpkins fan community, like myself, has been fully thunderstruck and of course, there are now rallying cries for D'Arcy Wretsky, who has reportedly left the music business entirely, to also return...a notion that I feel to be extremely premature. But, the bulk of what I have seen has been more of a reflective quality, taking this night for what it may have actually been, a night of healing and possibly even a level of forgiveness between these two figures who have had such animosity for so long. 
Would I love for James Iha to return to the fold and re-join Corgan in the studio or on stage for future music? Most certainly!!! Yet, I do not wish to get ahead of things and just allow myself to be more than thankful for what has occurred. What is really meaningful to me at this time is the fact that these two men, whom I was certain would NEVER, EVER share a stage together EVER again actually did so and seemingly in good, healthy spirits. And if they even had only performed one song as opposed to eight, that would have been more than enough. I would have easily been satisfied enough knowing that it had happened. 

I wish that I could possibly explain precisely what it is about this band and these individuals that fans have held such a precious hold. The fan community has echoed my thoughts of surprise and rejoice ever since the photo and fan footage has been released and I am wondering if what has transpired was just a grace note signaling to us, as well as to both Billy Corgan and James Iha, that life is indeed too short to hang onto resentments and recriminations. That no matter what transpires from this point, for one night, the capability to forgive was beautifully and blissfully apparent and more than that, so very tangible and possible, even when it seems and feels to be completely impossible.   

Who knows what led to this reunion. Perhaps Corgan's life as a new Father afforded him a new perspective. Perhaps just the act of aging had something to do with Corgan, Chamberlin and Iha performing together again. In many ways, it doesn't really matter, for we were all witness to it and whatever affection existed on the stage that night, it has reverberated loudly. Even if it never happens again, it did happen just this once.

And how extraordinarily thrilled that I was here to see it.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


And another giant gone.

It was very late in the evening on Tuesday, March 8th when I first saw the news. I was just poking around the internet, most specifically Facebook, unwisely trying to delay my inevitable need to head to bed when I saw a posting from Ringo Starr's Twitter feed which read:

"God bless George Martin peace and love to Judy and his family love Ringo and Barbara George will be missed xxx"  

Oh no...

I went straight to the MSN home page as well as Google to see if there had been an official statement proclaiming that Sir George Martin had indeed passed away. I clicked and found nothing. I clicked and re-freshed and still found nothing. I returned to Facebook to see fans had responded to Ringo's statement and so it went for perhaps another twenty to twenty five minutes. I went back and forth from Facebook to Google, hoping to see that perhaps this news was some sort of sick internet hoax. One fan even questioned if Ringo's Twitter account had even been hacked as the official news had not been released as of yet. But soon, Sean Lennon offered his condolences through his Facebook account and by the morning of Wednesday, March 9th, the news was official and even Paul McCartney had issued a beautifully written and recounted eulogy of his former mentor and musical co-conspirator. Yes, and sadly so, Sir George Martin had passed away. He was 90 years old.

While the death of Sir George Martin has certainly been an easier one for me to process due to the longevity of his life, the sadness remains because it really, truly confirms that there will soon be a day when there are no more Beatles remaining in the world--a reality that feels unfathomable, even with both John Lennon and George Harrison no longer with us, for I have always existed in a world where there were Beatles. Even so, for me, and for always, Sir George Martin, above all other collaborators, will forever exist as that fifth Beatle. For certainly, whom else could have ever laid claim to ever having that title bestowed upon themselves other than Sir George.

The genius and innovation of the legendary career of Sir George Martin carries a mammoth influence regarding my relationship with music and it has indeed shaped my ears for all time. On the morning of March 9th, I wrote the following words in tribute and solace:

"This musical loss is seismic...without question. The artistry of George Martin is paramount to everything we all even know about popular music. It's that simple and that titanic. To think of what he accomplished as he essentially taught us how to hear music in ways that generations upon generations of musicians and producers are STILL attempting to discern is staggering. His distinct touch and golden ears gave life to the music of my existence. To Sir George Martin, with love, respect and honor, may he rest in peace."

To all of you, I am not remotely versed in the technological jargon and techniques of the recording studio to really be able to talk about the intricacies of Martin's recording techniques. All I can do is to speak to how his work has made me feel and as I ruminate over his career at this time, all I can say, is that Sir George Martin performed nothing less than bestowing sound to dreams. He gave sounds to the dreams of the artists he collaborated with throughout his lifetime, most especially The Beatles. And therefore, he gave sounds to the dreams of any and all of whom that happened to be listening and then transformed by the music which was experienced. Of course, we can point to The Beatles' psychedelic era as Martin treated the recording studio itself as an instrument, using imagination and innovation to create the sorts of sounds we had never quite heard before. We can also point to how Martin utilized orchestral landscapes to paint wondrous new sonic colors in the world of rock and roll, forever changing the possibilities, as with songs like "Eleanor Rigby," "A Day In The Life" and of course, "Yesterday."  But we can even look back to more deceptively simpler sounding songs as well.

Just days after Martin's passing, I happened to hear a public radio program on which a Beatles' scholar (whose name escapes me now) was the guest. The program played an interview clip with Martin, who expressed that he desired to collaborate with The Beatles because he enjoyed their personalities and decidedly not their music, which he felt to be "rubbish." In turn, The Beatles were excited to work with Martin due to his work with recording comedy albums for the likes of Peter Sellers, Dudley Moore and the deeply influential antics of "The Goon Show." What was forged was relationship of mutual admiration and respect, allowing for five individuals who were willing to listen to each other's ideas to serve the music itself as best as conceivably possible while also trying to invent techniques and experiences that were not only cutting edge but pushed the medium forwards.

It is fascinating to hear how tracks like "Love Me Do" and "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" were originally composed and how Sir George Martin helped to shape them into the iconic works we now know them to be. One track may have been originally written to sound more like a Roy Orbison standard but Martin might suggest that the song would be served best by speeding up the tempo. With "Love Me Do," I was fascinated to hear how it was Martin who suggested to place a short pause in the music before Paul McCartney sings the title, thus not only giving such an innocent puppy dog of a song a sense of drama and romantic urgency, Martin effectively figured out how the sound of silence itself could become musical!

Sir George Martin was not a figure who simply recorded sounds. He curated them. Through the pristine and warmth of the clarity of the instruments and voices. The meticulous attention to detail. The loving care to which the music itself was nurtured into the fullest of its being. Whatever the role of a Producer means to you, it was Sir George Martin who transformed that definition into being an artist in its own right.

Because of that, I believe that Sir George Martin's greatest accomplishment is that he helped to create the very type of music that is representative of the time in which it was created yet still transcends any specific periods to become timeless. Especially since The Beatles' catalog has been fully remastered to glistening sonic glory, we can easily hear how beautifully recorded and realized the work of Martin actually was, helming a musical discography that sounds as if it could have been recorded just days ago rather than 50 years.

What a legacy. As pristine as it is untouchable. And how I owe a lifetime of musical dreams to the artistry of this man.

To Sir George Martin, I thank you for absolutely everything. Rest in peace.

Monday, March 14, 2016



DAN BITNEY: Drums, Bass Guitar, Guitar, Vibes, Marimba, Percussion, Keyboards
JOHN HERNDON: Drums, Keyboards, Vibes
DOUG McCOMBS: Bass Guitar, Guitar
JOHN McENTIRE: Drums, Keyboards
JEFF PARKER: Guitars, Keyboards, Marimba

Once again, I have Writer/Producer/Director John Hughes to thank.

Over and again throughout my life, I have voiced tremendous gratitude to the late filmmaker for not only assisting me greatly through navigating my mid 1980's adolescence via his now iconic collection of teen films, unquestionably inspiring my creative life with writing and for the purposes of this posting, pointing me in the direction of an enormous amount of music that has only continued to influence and shape my life. The impeccable musical breadth and taste of John Hughes is now legendary with tales of his offices being filled floor to ceiling with all manner of records, late nights in his northern Illinois home writing away with music blasting, frequent jaunts to Chicago Wax Trax! record store for his purchases and most certainly, how he populated his films with handpicked selections from a variety of left-of-center artists and musicians from the likes of Everything But The Girl, Kirsty MacColl, New Order, The Smiths, Simple Minds and so many others, whom I never would have heard if not for him.

Hughes' musical influence has only continued for me over the years and I have to emphatically express that one of the most powerful arrived near the end of his filmmaking career through a barely seen independent film effort entitled "Reach The Rock" (1998).

Written and Produced by John Hughes and helmed by Director William Ryan, "Reach The Rock" is a darker, tougher, sadder film than Hughes' vibrant comedies of the 1980's and worlds away from the wild slapstick and holiday sentimentality of "Home Alone" (1990) and its offshoots. The film weaved a combined "heat-of-the-night/"dark-night-of-the-soul" spell for Robin (played by Alessandro Nivola) a young man, now four years out of high school, stuck in Hughes' mythical Shermer, IL. nursing the ever present wounds of his long departed, college graduate wealthy ex-girlfriend (played by Brooke Langton) plus the ire of his nemesis, an embittered, vengeful police officer (played by William Sandler) who blames him for the drowning death of his nephew.

At this point, I will assure you that there is a reason that I am providing somewhat of a mini film review inside of this concert review for a most important reason: for you see, John Hughes' "Reach The Rock" was the very film that introduced me to the music of Tortoise.
The existential crisis of Robin as featured within "Reach The Rock" contained a moody, interior and completely intoxicating and enveloping musical pulse provided by John McEntire, drummer/multi-instrumentalist and producer within Tortoise. Of McEntire and Tortoise, Hughes, in one of his final interviews, expressed to writer Julio Diaz of Ink 19 for their March 10, 1999 installment the following sentiments:

"My son gave me Tortoise records. They have a lot of mood, great tone...McEntire wrote a score that sounds like a record. It fits like a glove. It's really exciting. I wish I had someone like him 15 years ago."

And in speaking with MTV's Gil Kaufman for a January 14, 1999 interview, Hughes stated

"The music for this film is more subdued than previous films I've worked on...When you hear Tortoise and see these nighttime scenes where it's hot and you're waiting for the rain, and there's this impotent thunder in the distance, the mood of the music really matches the picture...The music just has so much integrity and stands so well on its own...His music just worked so well for the film and I think it's the best soundtrack I've done."

That was all I needed to read and in doing so, I went upon the hunt and purchased a copy of the soundtrack album long before I ever had an opportunity to see the film itself. And on the very first listen, I was mesmerized and further inspired to peruse Tortoise's back catalog, purchase subsequent releases and even a couple of John McEntire productions. .
The music of Tortoise vehemently defies classification and whenever I have found myself within the position of having to describe the band to a novice, I stumble over words and explanations simply because I just do not know precisely how to describe their aesthetic in the best possible terms for full understanding. Often, I just tell people to go on-line and listen to some songs via You Tube and hear them for themselves. That seems to be the best way for a band this unique and idiosyncratic.

As I previously stated, my enthusiastic response to my first listen of Tortoise was instantaneous. For music that is so difficult to explain, I found myself connecting to the music warmly as if the sounds were familiar even though they weren't. Fusing the worlds of rock, jazz, fusion, reggae, ambient, electronica, dub, soul, funk and even more into an instrumental amalgamation of those styles within a "post-rock" landscape was forward thinking enough. But having already sustained myself on a healthy diet of 1970's prog rock and fusion plus the electronic soundscapes of Tangerine Dream and the widescreen instrumental hip-hop of DJ Shadow, I think that I had a strong head start that assisted me greatly in becoming accustomed to Tortoise's musical universe, which is consistently shape shifting, demands the fullest of your attention, and still, like the band's name, is never in a hurry to reach its destination. But to my ears, the music Tortoise creates is music that is ALWAYS on time!
So of course, when I heard the news that the band would be arriving in my fair city in support of their latest release "The Catastrophist" (released January 22, 2016), their first album of new material in seven years, I barely had to give it a thought as to whether I would attend. On the seasonably chilly evening of Thursday, March 10th, I arrived at the Majestic Theater (I'm still getting used to the establishment not existing as a movie theater anymore), claimed by place as first in line and awaited for the doors to open for the night.
Upon entering the Majestic, I passed my the merchandise table and made my now requisite bee-line for the stage where I could take a moment to peruse the stage set-up. Knowing very little about Tortoise as a live act aside from their legendary reputation, I had to say that it made my heart jump in anticipation to witness two drum kits perched at the front of the stage and facing each other. It would be of no surprise to any of you to know that I would have loved to have had the opportunity to tap around both of those kits!
Anyhow, I was more than intrigued to see how the drums, typically set at the back of the stage, were placed front and center, with vibes (acoustic and electronic pads, respectively) augmenting the kits on both sides of the stage with guitars, keyboards and bass guitars stationed in the rear.

I soon ventured back to the merchandise table where a Tortoise import only CD was calling my name (yes, I purchased it). While the room was still more than quiet and scantily attended, I took a few moments to ask the young woman running the merchandise table what she knew about the night's opening act,  Mind Over Mirrors as I had never heard of them.

"Oh, it's just one guy," she said.
"Yes. Actually, he sets up right on the floor and performs there. It's real ambient type stuff and I think it goes really well with Tortoise's music," she explained.
"He performs right on the main floor? Not the stage?"
"Should I not be down there?"
"You can be down there. It's really interesting. Let me know what you thought later."

Taking her lead, I ventured back to the main floor where I did indeed scope out the tiny set up of archaic and (I am presuming analog) synths parked next to a small stool.

By shortly after 8:30 p.m., with the room filling up more, I noticed a man of slight build casually walk through the room, up to the Majestic soundboard and back to the set up on the main floor. "So, this is Mind Over Mirrors," I thought to myself.

Mind Over Mirrors, just as explained to me, consists of sole member Jamie Fennelly, who for approximately 40 minutes or so performed two extended electronic soundscapes directly upon the main floor of the Majestic, also just as described. It was a curious, and at first perplexing sight to see Fennelly approach his bank of keyboards, turn on a small red light and as the house lights of the Majestic eventually faded into darkness, the room was filled with the sounds of a slowly rising and ominous sounding electronic drone, which after for several minutes became a hypnotically dazzling ocean of sound. 
Much like how the sound of a pipe organ can fill every nook and cranny of a cathedral, the electronic music of Mind Over Mirrors performed precisely the same feat. With not even one word uttered to the crowd at any point, the music did all of the communication and it was indeed fascinating to see people slowly flow towards Fennelly's set-up, while also providing him with respectful space as to not disrupt the mood which had deeply enveloped the theater. With his feet pumping away at what I was wondering was some sort of harmonium and swirls of sound, this portion of the night reminded me of the times when I sat listening to vintage Tangerine Dream albums, just finding myself washed over with waves upon waves of warmly synthetic music. And by the time the house lights went back up, and Fennelly gave a polite wave to the audience, I really had felt as if I had been transported. 
By 10:00 p.m., it was time! Tortoise silently took to the stage and began the 65 minute set with a bulk of selections from their latest album including the title track, the appropriately menacing "Shake Hands With Danger," the soulful slow jam "Yonder Blue" (sans the rare vocals as heard on the album), the relentless prowl and creep of "Ox Duke," the slinky funk of "Hot Coffee," and the nearly Philip Glass styled dreamscape of "Gesceap."
Through each and every selection, I was floored. From the sheer complexity of the compositions to the palpable energy of the performances to the agility of all of the band members, especially as they often switched instruments, was gripping and transfixing. Certainly, being a drummer as well as from my vantage point at the lip of the stage, I found myself marveling at the percussive nature of the band's music in ways that I simply hand't before. 
Essentially, out of the five members of Tortoise, we have a band of percussionists as four of those members handled variations of percussion throughout the night and three members alternated turns at the drum kits, sometimes, with two members facing off with each other in poly-rhythmic fury and bliss on selections like the cacophonous "Senaca" from "Standards" (released February 20, 2001). the world travelling "Gigantes" from "Beacons Of Ancestorship" (released June 23, 2009), the sultry funk of "Monica" also from "Standards" (ladies, if your name happens to be shared with the title of that song, do make that your personal theme song!) and the stunning, transcendant marimba fueled ambiance of "Ten-Day Interval" from "TNT" (released March 10, 1998).
Tortoise, while functioning like an otherwordly jazz combo also possessed some rough edges to pepper the proceedings with that inexplicable rock and roll energy. The musicianship was superior and undeniably flashy but also performed without ego between the band members. For the compositions are indeed so intricately constructed that if one band member were to step out of place to provide some sort of heroic flourish, the entire song would crumble as each part connects perfectly with all of the other distinct parts of each song. Even so, it was fascinating to discern the individual styles of the bands members of Tortoise, especially those playing those drum kits.
Where Dan Bitney (pictured stage left and who also performed on keyboards, guitar and bass guitar) was clearly the most relaxed and fluid drummer, often exerting a jazz flourish, John Herndon (pictured stage right and who also performed keyboards) was the heavy hitter, packing a John Bonham-esque punch throughout the show.
Bringing everything full circle was the man himself, John McEntire, who was consistently a study of intense concentration, pushing himself to nail every single beat within these exquisite sonic textures to perfection, especially upon the prog rock leaning "Prepare Your Coffin." Where Bitney and Herndon made the drum patterns look so deceptively "easy" due to the relaxed focus with which they played, McEntire showcased the demands and the difficulties. And for the entire performance, all three were sensational and inspiring.  
Rounding out the band was guitarist Jeff Parker (who also contributed to keyboards and percussion) who served as a more angular player from perhaps the Robert Fripp/Steve Hackett school of guitar heroes with sumptuous and stinging six string atmospherics. Yet, he also threw down some Carlos Santana inspired licks during the band second encore.
Bassist Doug McCombs more than held the bottom end of the proceedings, he truly functioned as the essential glue holding all of the various rhythms and musical threads and strands together. Yet, when he occasionally switched to guitar, McCombs specialized in a certain rural, rustic almost Ennio Morricone influenced sound therefore conjuring up images of the past as the music surrounding him suggested the future and the unknown. The musical juxtapositions were thrilling to hear and of course, witness being represented directly in front of my eyes.  
Tortoise's performance was top to bottom excellent without question. Beautifully performed and constructed, with a set list (I think was presented chronologically backwards from the latest release to the earliest--at least until the encores) that worked as a gorgeous celebration of their 25 year plus existence. 

Personally, the night was not only a celebration of pure, unadulterated, high caliber musicianship of the sort that we do not often see (but I am wondering is beginning to make a comeback), it really was a culmination of an almost 20 year journey begun by a cherished late filmmaker's exemplary musical taste which has influenced and enriched me for so much of my life. 

And truthfully, it still continues to do so.
All concert photos by Scott Collins.

Friday, March 11, 2016



ABBY SHERMAN: Vocals, Bass Guitar, Trumpet
HENRY STOEHR: Guitars, Keyboards
JORDAN ZAMANSKY: Vocals, Guitars

Music and lyrics by Abby Sherman, Jordan Zamansky with Jake Witz

Recorded and mixed by Henry Stoehr
Mastered by Alex Leeds and Henry Stoehr

Released May 22, 2015

If any of you dear readers and listeners are regular visitors to this site, then you are more than aware that over the past year, I have been writing about my experiences with two bands local to Madison, WI, Post Social and Modern Mod, through album reviews, extensive interviews with band members and reports from their live performances. Through all of these chronicles, I have not only been introduced to their wonderful, inventive, ambitiously joyous music, I have also begun the gather larger peeks into the wider world of the Madison music community, one that was lavishly upon great display at both The Know-It-All-Boyfriends' charity performance with all-star guests at the Barrymore Theater this past December as well as Modern Mod's farewell concert at the High Noon Saloon in January of this year.

At both events, I became acquainted with 22 year old Madison musician/producer Henry Stoehr, a gregarious young man and warm conversationalist as well as a true guitar wizard who sent me into six stringed bliss with his heroic solos during performances of Modern Mod's cover of David Bowie's "Moonage Daydream." It was through his role as an auxiliary member of Modern Mod (when he stepped in for guitarist Cal Pocernich for some performances) where I discovered that Stoehr is an active member of not one but two other Madison based bands: Trophy Dad and Barbara Hans. At the Modern Mod farewell concert, Stoehr graciously handed me a copy of the latest Barbara Hans EP and that night also introduced me to Trophy Dad in a live setting.

After that wonderful night of Madison music from a community of our younger musicians, I was ready to hear what lies beyond Post Social (who are in the midst of recording their third album), the now defunct Modern Mod and even Dash Hounds (the new project by Modern Mod bandmates Alivia Kleinfeldt and Brendan Manley) as their new material is forthcoming. I was so ready after that night, I headed straight to the Trophy Dad Bandcamp page to purchase and download a copy of their EP, "Shirtless Algebra Fridays," and as with the other Madison bands that grabbed me instantaneously, winning me over fully with their considerable gifts with songwriting and performing, you can easily add Trophy Dad to this exclusive list of musical surprises that feels very much in league with their musical compatriots but also extends even further.

According to Trophy Dad's Bandcamp page, the group describes themselves as crafting "bedroom pop," a term that makes instantaneous sense once you hear the six tracks that make up their EP. These are introverted, turbulent, darkly romantic songs that feel like the thoughts that race through everyone's heads when caught in the throes of some relationship, whether real or imagined, yet always emotionally urgent and intense.

With its warbled lead guitar and an art punk vibe evoking shades of nothing less than The Velvet Underground, "Shirtless Algebra Fridays" opens with the clever, chugging "Hypatia," possibly a lovestruck ode to the beautiful Greek Mathematician and philosopher (or maybe an unrequited note to an equally beautiful and sharply intelligent dreadlocked, lesbian skateboarder--hey, the Urban Dictionary has got to be good for something shouldn't it?). What struck me instantly about this opening shot from the band aside from the solid melodic punch, were the terrific boy/girl vocal harmonies displayed through the deep bass vocals of guitarist Jordan Zamansky merged with the glorious voice of bassist Abby Sherman. The twosome lock into a vocal symmetry instantly, perfectly providing the ear candy of the song as they repeatedly chant the chorus "I'm still here and I don't know why," and in just a hair over two minutes and a florid blast of Sherman's trumpet, the song concludes and the EP heads into deeper emotional waters.

Opening with a brief, meditative guitar intro, and augmented by Justin Huber's confident drums, the multi-sectioned and layered "Shut Up" is easily a standout track as it utilizes both of Sherman and Zamansky's vocals to great effect. Tracking a turbulent relationship set to an intimate mid tempo beat (much like Fleetwood Mac), Sherman recounts a series of transgressions against her partner.

"I don't like it when you talk too loud
Wish I didn't have to hear that sound
You didn't do anything that wrong
I just wish that your stories weren't so long   

What the hell are you saying?
Wish I could understand you
What the hell are you trying to say?

Wish that I cared anyway..."

Which, of course, she does.

"Shut Up" continues in this vein for the second verse but soon finds itself in a quieter and especially fragile interior moment featuring Zamansky's side of the relationship where he admits, "It's hard when you realize you're small...I'll pretend that I'm big when I'm with you." Augmented by Stoehr's keyboards, Sherman's trumpet and Huber's more dramatic drum accents, Trophy Dad soon bursts from meditation into an almost jazz influenced portion before then blasting into the EP's third track, the furious (and brilliantly titled) "Trichotillomania," Abby Sherman's impassioned rant against a romantic rival.

With a melody that instantly sticks like glue and propelled by the band at full throttle, Sherman proclaims that she can "see right thru her," expresses that "she fooled him once, she'll do it twice," grudgingly admits, "I guess she's pretty," and questions "is she really in love with him?" before sneering "well I DON'T THINK SO!!!" and concluding with an ear splitting shriek that signals the band to throw themselves around as if caught within the throes of a tantrum.

From rage to bliss, the EP continues with the reverb drenched romantic dreamworld of "Into U," which showcases some of Sherman's finest, most melodically inviting and infectious vocals of this release. Trust me, you will be singing along with this track on first listen as you are completely swept away in just under two minutes. The storm clouds return with the self explanatory "You Never Responded And I Made Up Wild Stories In My Head That Turned Out To Be True."  Again, Sherman and Zamansky blend their voices beautifully, almost suggesting that both sides of the relationship are experiencing precisely the exact same emotions ("I don't want to break/But I know I will/And there's nothing I can do")...if only the other person possibly knew.

After all of the tribulations and heartache, Trophy Dad sum up "Shirtless Algebra Fridays" by proclaiming that "Life is so sad being a trophy dad" as the band flows into the EP's final track, "Theme From Trophy Dad," which almost feels like an end credits scroll to the music itself.

I am unable (and happily so) to place my finger on whatever is in the water these songwriters and musicians have been drinking but just as I have experienced with Post Social and Modern Mod, the collective of Trophy Dad have amassed a most impressive release that only continues to reward with each subsequent listen. Also as with their contemporaries, this is music made without ego as the song is the star, not an individual band member. Even so, I again have to heap some specialized praise onto both Jordan Zamansky and Abby Sherman for their vocal blend and harmonies which are perfectly matched and enveloping. Sherman, in particular, possesses an inexplicable timbre within her voice that arrested me from the first song as her confidence, strength, melodicism and skills as a vocalist are undeniable.

Running a mere 19 minutes in length, I was deeply impressed with how much music was packed into such a small frame of time as the songs are intricate yet wholly accessible, rambunctious yet textured, lyrically complex and clever and all too recognizable as the band consistently finds and nails an emotional truth time and again.

Additionally, the actual compositions and performances from the band showcased a certain density as to how the songs have been constructed, performed and recorded, often suggesting that the music they envisioned was, perhaps, larger than the low-fi/D.I.Y. recording aesthetic utilized for this EP. The band has confidently arranged and ensured that their material would not only be worthy of repeated listenings, it would enthusiastically demand your attention. The sheer immediacy of "Shirtless Algebra Fridays" grabs your interest and curiosity. The artistry definitely keeps bringing you back!

So impressed I was with this release that I am already anxious for whatever new material should arrive in the future, something that I am hoping I may not have to wait for terribly long as Stoehr has informed me that new material is indeed forthcoming.

But first, there was Stoehr's other band to tend to...


ALEX LEEDS: Vocals, Bass Guitar
HENRY STOEHR: Vocals, Guitars

All music and lyrics by Leeds/Matthews/Stoehr

"Mind Movies," "Killing Time" and "Bone Us" all recorded, mixed and mastered by Alex Leeds
"Bad Kids" and "Paper Dreams" recorded and mixed by Henry Stoehr Mastered by Alex Leeds

Released June 8, 2015 

"It's mostly a description of the dynamic and juxtaposition of emotions we are trying to achieve in our music. The music tends to oscillate dynamically between more dreamy, washed out sounds and very heavy and high energy parts. In terms of emotions, I'd say we try to create a dissonance between the content of the music and the way it's conveyed, like using a cliche with positive associations to describe something dark, the darkness of which is highlighted by the way the music eventually oscillates to darker and heavier instrumentation.

I think...ha ha..."

Those words were delivered to me by Henry Stoehr when I asked him to elaborate upon the descriptive term of "dream punk," an illustration associated with Stoehr's other band, Barbara Hans. While he may chuckle at his own definition, it feels to be precisely correct as the five tracks of the band's EP entitled "Slow Pulp" also contain a low-fi/D.I.Y. aesthetic which feels designed and definitely achieves a thrilling immediacy while also crafting a psychedelic landscape of shape shifting songs that feel like a short series of daydreams to get lost inside of.

"Mind Movies" expertly sets the stage "on the edge of seventeen" with an almost go-go dancer beat that I could only describe as being legitimately "groovy" augmenting more "bedroom pop" interior thoughts where our narrator exclaims about the object of his affection, "all the movies in my mind are starring you/all the acid dreams, they coming true." The guitars superbly jangle and buzz. The drums propel along nicely. And suddenly, the track slides down a sonic rabbit hole to a bluesy pool of those aforementioned "acid dreams" before climbing back upwards to the song's original groove and a terrific, ebullient guitar solo.

"Bad Kids" wondrously swaggers and sways, much in the vein of what we might hear upon a Tame Impala album as Stoehr's lead vocals distort and reverberate, echoing into the ether and taking us fully along for the ride. The languid "Killing Time," with its loping arrangements, Alex Leeds' seductive bass playing, Stoehr's delicate guitar work, drummer Teddy Matthews' in-the-pocket beat and dream haze vocals nearly approaches funk, instilling a mental image of George Clinton himself sitting in a backyard easy chair taking a long, relaxed inhale and exhale of his favorite illicit substance.

"Paper Dreams" is easily the EP's most dynamic track as the band somehow weaves surf rock, a blues tempo, a psychedelic interlude just this side The Flaming Lips' "Pompeii AM Gotterdammmerung" crossed with a section from Pink Floyd's "Echoes" and a false ending/coda with effortless and even fearless ease. "Slow Pulp" concludes with a brief sound collage, the oddly named "Bone Us," which seems to leave us listeners stranded within the dreamworld Barbara Hans has created for us. It is almost as if the familiar, bouncy landscape presented in the opening moments of the EP have vanished entirely, making me wonder if the band is indeed setting the stage for more more magical mystery tours in their future music.

As with Trophy Dad, Barbara Hans, in the span of just 15 minutes, has packed their EP to the gills musically and sonically. They are seemingly unafraid of mixing musical genres and making the altering time signatures and audio wizardry snap together richly in their unique musical jigsaw puzzles. Also as with Trophy Dad, Barbara Hans has ensured the songs are the stars of their elaborate show, making every second count musically while the psychedelia also feels ready to burst open from the low-fi production, which makes me more than curious to hear not only how their sound will continue to develop but whether they will find themselves within a more traditional studio setting so they are more able to craft their clearly widescreen musical visions as lavishly and as spaciously as possible.

And so, with both Trophy Dad and Barbara Hans, I have found two bands that seems to have flowed from the pop side of Modern Mod and the prog rock side of Post Social, incorporating both styles while also crafting musical identities that are completely independent from those bands as well as each other, despite the considerable presence of Henry Stoehr in both bands. For me, these are truly exciting musical times, to be able to hear sparkling new music that is fiercely independent, uncompromising, entirely inclusive, superbly invigorating, deeply inspiring, spirit lifting and compulsively listenable from young musicians who are obviously serious about their craft due to the skill, energy and joy they have delivered.

I know that I did not steer you wrong in any way with Modern Mod and Post Social, so I enthusiastically urge you to give both Trophy Dad and Barbara Hans a much deserved listen. I firmly believe that you will be happily surprised.  




Wednesday, March 2, 2016



The previous two months have truly been mournful ones, dear readers and listeners. I certainly do not have to recount all of the losses. While this has indeed proven itself to be a process, it has been a most necessary one and truthfully, it has been a process that has only continued to reveal to me just how brilliant and beautiful of an experience David Bowie's "Blackstar" truly is and I am thankful for the time I have needed to live with the release and experience all emotions with it, from joy to sadness to awestruck. But now, I am ready for the new. The newness of the seasons and the newness of the music that will accompany the rising warmth in the air and the longer hours of light.
From witnessing the end of Madison's very own Modern Mod back in January, I found some new musical beginnings for me to explore courtesy of Guitarist Henry Stoehr. Through this musician and Modern Mod's farewell concert, I am now finding myself very intrigued and excited with the music of two more young Madison bands, Trophy Dad and Barbara Hans (pictured above courtesy of SCOTIFY).

This month, I am hoping to give you the much needed scoop on recent releases from both bands and with new releases from Esperanza Spalding and a posthumous new release from Jeff Buckley on the horizon, my musical spirit is anxious awaiting for a new freshness to hit my senses. I am also excited to see the band Tortoise in concert for the very first time in about a week. And adding in my activities with Savage Radio upon WVMO-The Voice Of Monona 98.7 FM, things are mighty exciting indeed!

Stay tuned and turned on to Synesthesia and remember that for whatever you are listening to and/or creating, always...

...PLAY LOUD!!!!!!!!