Sunday, February 7, 2010

Triple Whammy

Hoping for a good turnout at the gig at Buzz tomorrow night, but it's not looking good.

Strike One: It's a Monday night.

Strike Two: Day after Super Bowl.

Strike Three: Historic Winter storm. Almost 18" officially at National Airport (about 2 miles from here). Picture above is the patio yesterday afternoon.

Officially, this is a worse storm than December (more snow), with wetter snow (heavy and more prone to freezing).

At least it's a sunny day today, though not expected to rise above the 20's. Big problem for the gig will be parking (can I even get close enough to unload my gear?

Oh, Well. Mother Nature always gets the final say.

Monday, February 1, 2010


I'll be performing solo at Buzz Bakery on Monday evening, February 8th starting at 8pm. Come on out for the music, for a drink (beer and wine), and/or dessert and coffee. Hope to see you there. I'll be performing songs from my two CDs, new songs, and maybe some tunes from Bob Dylan, Jimmy LaFave, Jimmy Buffett, Loudon Wainwright III and others. Speaking of others, here's a little bit of info on some of my early influences...

Musical Influences

Learning to play the guitar, brought contemporary and popular music back into my life. After a number of years of listening mostly to classical music, it was fun to rediscover the music of the 60’s and early 70’s and some of the better folk music. There was a wealth of good material to absorb and play. The Beatles were at the bottom of everything, since they were my original favorite group. Comparing the Rolling Stones and the Beatles, I have always chosen the Beatles. And when listening to the Beatles, I have generally been more a fan of John Lennon than Paul McCartney, although I probably know more of Paul’s songs, although I've forgotten how to play most of them.

I was pretty distraught about John’s death. It was as if one of the better parts of my own childhood had been killed. I learned Norwegian Wood to play specially at the Single File Open Stage the week that he was killed.

There were concerts at the Old Town School and I became acquainted with the likes of John Prine, Steve Goodman, Michael Smith, Corky Siegel, Stan Rogers, Doc Watson, Jim Post, Bob Gibson, Tom Paxton and a slew of other artists. I also became aware of a new generation of local songwriters like Tom Dundee, Thom Bishop, Chris Farrell and Marty Piefer. We would hang out at clubs or at the local stages during Chicagofest to hear these new artists. I particularly liked to go to a club like Somebody Else’s Troubles or The Earl of Old Town and sit near the front and watch performers play guitar. I picked up ideas for my own playing and sometimes I wound up learning a few of their songs.

During some benefit concerts for the Old Town School in 1981, I got to meet Roger McGuinn, who many years earlier had passed through the School on his way to becoming a Byrd. I really didn’t have much of anything to say to him, and it was an awkward few minutes, but it was a thrill just to shake his hand.

Some artists I got to know primarily through their recordings. Several albums by Loudon Wainwright III helped me through a romantic breakup in 1980. Songs like Mr. Guilty and Down Drinkin’ at the Bar became part of my repertoire and I still sing them on occasion.

A few years later, in 1984, I read a concert preview in the Chicago Reader for a songwriter named Bruce Cockburn. While I had already missed the concert, the article piqued my interest and I went to the local record store and bought the only thing they had of his, a cassette tape of Stealing Fire. Almost instantly, he became my favorite songwriter and remains so to this day. Over time, I have also become increasingly impressed with the emotional and stylistic range of his guitar playing. I've seen him perform a number of times over the years, both in Austin and in DC. While I've never warmed up to the overtly Religious songs (Lord of the Starfields, for example) in his catalog, fortunately they are few and far between, especially on the Albums starting around 1980.

Any list of songwriter influences would be incomplete without mentioning Bob Dylan. He was a huge favorite, as you can imagine, at the Old Town School. His songs were a large part of the teaching curriculum. I have learned, and forgotten, many Dylan songs over the years. Two have pretty much stayed with me: Tangled Up in Blue and Shelter from the Storm.

Other more recent influences include David Wilcox (fabulous guitar player, I particularly like his older less - new age material), Richard Thompson (acoustic and electric wizard), Stephen Bruton, and many, many more....