Thursday, March 27, 2008

These are my friends...

The picture is by my creative friend Frank Selitto
and taken from the stage we
(The Bad Report Card featuring from left to right,
Don Christiano, Yours Truly and Frank Selitto)
just exited back in the mid-1980s
at the Irondequoit Steak House in Rochester, NY.
Don (on Bass and vocals), Frank (on guitar) and I (on keys and vocals)
were backing up Dave Donnelly (along with drummer Dan Bonamie)
playing Honky Tonk Soul for a regular weekend crowd
used to us slipping from Merle Haggard to The Stray Cats
to Johnny Rivers to Little Richard without missing a beat.

Dave & Frank are out there playing again
as Dave Donnelly and the Donwannabes doing the same wild mix
of Americana live around Rochester, NY, especially at The Flipside Bar & Grille
where Jeff Riales (in the color shot above left) and Jed Curran (above center)
hold their weekly Open Mike on Thursday nights staring at 9 PM.
Dave Donnelly doesn't have a website yet, but I intend to do what I can
to remedy that in the next few months.
It's not like you can't see he is above, again
from one of Frank Selitto's great black & white images from back in the 1980s
(not sure who the guy in the hat is!)
Frank used to set his camera up on stage in front of the drums and
take pictures of the dancers in front of us while we were playing
using a bulb remote foot release.
He has an amazing back catalog of images that
I hope I can feature here from time to time.
He and I go back to 1972 and Disc World, the first record store I ever worked in.
Frank, Don and I played together jamming quite a bit for a while.
Then Frank started playing with Dave Donnelly back in the mid-1970s
and sooner or later we all played with Dave.

Don Christiano (now the shaved-bald guy in the back center with sunglasses)
is with HUNU? (who knew?) playing a bit more alternate mix
of the same with refugees from the late lamented Colorblind James Experience.
After he and I spent some time writing songs together in the mid-1990s,
he began getting gigs playing guitar and bass
behind all these 'hot' chick singers in town
(Maria Gillard, Lisa Bigwood and Tammy Brackett...more on them next time, I promise).
Don's got a style all his own.
He's the kind of guitar player who hasn't got a clue
what he's going to play until he 's in the middle of doing it.
Yeah, sometimes, he'll make a wrong turn, but not too often.
Most of the time he plays something that just makes you beam
or weep it's so beautiful.
I miss having him play behind me and always look forward to
the Annual Bob Dylan Birthday Party that Hunu hosts
(carrying on a 21+ year tradition started
by the Colorblind James Experience and
carried on by the surviving members that are in Hunu).
It happens in May and I get to be the MC and sing a tune myself.
I've even chosen which one it will be already this year (I'll tell you later.)

We've all benefitted from our association with The Dady Brothers,
arguably the most sucessful Rochester area acoustic musicians.
They specialize primarily in doing the Celtic (read Irish) thing,
but their musical interests are SOOOO much wider and deeper than that
(Beatles, Dylan & The Band, Country, Blues, Folk and so on).
For years they ran an open mike that I frequented that was THE place
in town to be seen and heard if you were a singer-songwriter or a hot instrumentalist.
I spent a bunch of years playing with these guys and
watching them empower everybody who hit their stage
at the many clubs they hosted in oh so many bars.
Jeff & Jed are doing the best they can to recreate
the same kind of fertile musical playground the Dadys did.

Among the other regulars is my buddy, Steve Piper,
who (along with Riales) lets me crash at his place whenever
I come up from Naples (an hour away down South of Rochester)
to play at the open mike.
He's about as crazy as they come and talented to boot.
He and his wife Julie run a video business doing weddings and
Steve also shoots pictures of a lot of us for CD covers these days (Curran, Dadys).
He's in to a lot of the same music as the rest of us and
holds a special place in my heart because he likes the Marx Brothers, too.
I feed him CDs of Groucho, Homer & Jethro and
other weird and obscure artists that I find.
Steve has done time with the Dady Brothers when John broke a finger and
when not playing as a solo, a duo with Maggie Herman,
as part of the local singer-songwriter super-group The Crandels
is currently occupying the lead guitar chair of Watkins & The Rapiers,
another local act of note. A busy guy, for sure.

It's About Time...and Music and Life

Ever since I stopped working at a brick and mortar music store fo
lks have asked me what I am listening to or what I suggest they might enjoy.
This blog will do its level best to remedy that situation
amongst the folks I know and with any luck will draw a new audience
to what I intend to be a regular forum for discussion and
sharing information about my lifelong passion for music.

Starting in the mid-1970s I would make Mix Tapes on cassettes and pass them around.
I wish I had kept a copy for reference and
archival purposes of every tape I made as
precious few have survived from my early collections.
Since my last job ended ten years ago I have made digital vinyl transfers,
copies of CDs and assembled CD compilations on my stand-alone Sony CDR-W33.
After upgrading my computer in 2006 I began collecting MP3s
and assembling MP3 compilations for my friends' edification and enjoyment.

My primary focus has been fellow musicians
in the Finger Lakes area of Upstate New York State
[barring the occasional mail out to friends living out of state].
I have been a player myself for more than 40 years and
have scads of musical contacts who range from students to amateur hobbyists
to weekend semi-pros and full-time professionals.
Without exception (if they know me) I have come to be
the go-to guy for musical resources;
i.e. influential archival recordings and attendant information
such as lyrics, publishing data, artwork, etc.
I have also had the opportunity to expand my reach over the years
as a Radio, Club & Mobile DJ to inform and entertain
the 'unsuspecting' public of music they might not hear through 'normal' channels.
My years on the turntables have given me a sixth sense
when it comes to sequence and segue.
This is most evident in many of my compilation mixes and
as I move forward with this blog I will be preparing to offer pod casts
on a regular basis that I hope will continue this tradition.
I already have quite a few mixes in reserve from the last two years and
what mix tapes I can transfer from my past will also be considered for future posts.
As a writer and music critic I will be focusing on music that I love.
That will be a daunting task for me as anyone who knows me will attest.
I have owned well over 250,000 physical recordings in my lifetime
which figured out to more than a million songs the one time I attempted to quantify it.
For the most part, my interests are firmly in Americana,
which certainly is a wide and vague enough label to include
Country, Folk, Blues, Rockabilly, Bluegrass, Cajun-Zydeco, Gospel, Celtic,
Old Timey, Swing and Jazz.
However, one can also expect to see me expound on Pop, Classic Rock,
Progressive, Electronica, Hip-Hop, Mashups, Remixes, Reggae, New Age,
Classical and what I would term Audio Archaeology.
I will definitely be shining the light
on many of my local music friends and
introducing them to a larger audience.
There will be links to their sites and many other acts I consider worth while.
I will also attempt to keep a viable list of fellow bloggers
I enjoy and links to many music related sites.
In fact, I will be interested in seeing how long it is before
outgrow this blog and have to consider spending the money
for a full blown website.
I guess your interest will make all the difference.
In the meantime I am happy to begin my committment with this first post.
Please bookmark this should you find it informative and entertaining and
I promise to keep the postings coming on a regular basis and
be a little less serious next time...oh, and begin the music postings, too!