Send in the Hounds

Like many this week I realize that a newsletter is a bit of overkill at this point.

My blog has basically been my newsletter. And so it shall continue that way for the time being.

This week I  want to share one of my absolute favorite childhood musical memories. At about age 10 or so I played the trumpet as did my brother. We’d practice in the mornings before going to school. We had 2 dogs at the time – Flash- a German Shepherd who was dumb as topsoil and Charlie a little mutt spaniel who was a tough little SOB. They began to take keen interest in our playing. One day they started howling along with our practice and from then on not a session went by without Flash and Charlie launching into their version of the Hallelujah chorus as soon as the first trumpet tones reached their ears.

It got downright Pavlovian- to the point that as soon as they saw our trumpet cases come out they’d let out a few practice yips and do a bit of warming up with a few half moans just to loosen the tonsils. And then when we started playing they would really let er rip. To them it was the morning singalong and it was great.

So Christmas rolls around and the dogs and I are in the car at the little shopping complex near our home. My dad is in the hardware store getting some Christmas lights or something-the snow is lightly falling and it’s really feels quite seasonal. Down the walkway comes a makeshift brass band made up of various students and parents who have been traveling to the various small shopping places in the area and spreading festive cheer with a bit of music. They park themselves in front of the hardware store –right in front of our car.  They begin  O Come all ye Faithful

Flash and Charlie, who’d been snoozing in the back seat, spring to life! “Can it be? Bonus singalong time?”  Tilting their heads back and in sheer joy they launch (with now magnificent well practiced doggie voices) into  brilliant  canine accompaniment! In the distance, another dog, not to be outdone chimes in as well.

And so it was that  3 dogs did an absolutely rousing version of O Howl all ye Faithful with brass band accompaniment – only to be disappointed when the band decided to quickly relocate to a less Fido populated area.

But it was magic -they were dogs and they were singing. Bravo!

Week 6 -Blogging -I’m a Goofy Uncle

I’ve been scanning all sorts of music related blogs this last week and one thing has become abundantly clear –  I’m older.  Virtually every one of the industry blogs I encountered was written by someone a goodly number of years my junior. And good on em. A lot of them were so smart -I read a particularly entertaining one  at NME debating the greatest lyricists of our time. But for the most part, while loving the snippets of lyrics and the vigorous exchanges  I didn’t know enough of the music. There is a lot or ear opening to do. In our own group -Sioux Newberry rattling off about 20 indie blogs in the Toronto area alone. That’s fantastic! – The current music scene is so vital – the heart and soul of it so terrific. I feel like some goofy uncle in the face of it.

I come from a different place and have had a bit of a time finding music blogs I’d contribute to. There have been a few-but I found that  I’m actually helping things in reverse-that in my searching I’ve discovered a couple of great artists and a wonderful website  and want to give them more exposure.

So this may well be the beginning of The Goofy Uncle Blog series.  Nah-I’m too handsome.

Here are a couple of blogs/contributor sites

http://www.blogcritics.org/music

http://www.folkalley.com

And here are 3 things you must check out

http://www.aurgasm.us

http://www.toddburge.com

http://www.robertethington.com

 

 

My first 12 seconds with the Beatles

My life transformed  forever late one night as a kid while watching  our 3 station black and white tv well past my bedtime.The volume was way down so my parents wouldn’t know I was up. What I saw were 4 odd looking guys finishing a song. What I heard was  ” I WANNA HOLD YOUR HA -A – A – A -A  AND!” And with that -the damage was done.. These guys with the funny hair then bowed in unison and Jack Paar said “Those were the Beatles.”  As he spoke those words my entire  molecular structure changed. It’s was as if I’d become magnetized – strummed to forevermore ring in some new and perfect way.

it was not first love -it was not getting religion-it was not first obsession. I had become, within the course of  a single inventive triplet ending, embedded with an art form.

From those moments onward I’ve wanted to buy music and write songs.  I still have the first 3 singles I ever bought  All My Loving,She Loves you and I Wanna Hold your Hand and the first album Beatlemania 3 days later. I still have some of the shite young ripoffs of She Loves You somewhere. I wore out about a hundred batteries in my parents portable radio playing it under my pillow at night scanning every radio station within range for music(reception was better after 10 pm). And there were great and varied songs  to be heard -stuff from the Kinks,Dusty Springfield,The Stones,Millie Small,The Animals -and of course the Beach Boys The Lovin Spoonful and the Byrds. But only one group was best of the best.And I got them in one -hell less than one  – a tenth. They were first in and nobody else came close.

I can still remember defending them and scoffing at those who preferred The Dave Clark Five and other one or two  hit wonders who had British accents and knew 3 chords. Publishers seeing a quick buck even put put out a magazine -The Dave Clark Five versus the Beatles-  claiming that the DC Five were more popular. I was incensed -murderous!.

Over the next few years the need to sound as Liverpudlian as possible faded from my list of priorities. But the grand anticipation of a each new single or release grew and grew.  A Hard Days night -8 Days a Week, Yesterday,  Eleanore Rigby,  Nowhere Man, Yellow Submarine.  There it was-wit silliness,tragedy,love and angst all wonderfully produced and rendered each in less than 3 minutes.

Of course I went on to other things and have grown to deeply appreciate music and artists of every style. But nothing sits deeper in me than those 12 seconds or so.

Several years after the Beatles broke up another group came along to ignite me. One that anchored my 20’s and one I still admire today. But that’s another story.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Delayed Reaction to Whitney’s Passing

I was never a big fan of Whitney Houston. Of course she had an amazing voice but I always found the act a bit too slick. But there was one unforgettable exception.

I was a bartender in Vieques -a little island off the coast of Puerto Rico, for 6 months in 1990. At the time two thirds of it was used as a military base for all kinds of training and maneuvers. On weekends the soldiers were allowed to come into Esperanza and many of them hit the bars to get royally blitzed. I got to know quite a few of them -they were kids 19 20-I think the oldest of them were no more than 25. They’d get zonked on Mind Erasers and get picked up by a transport vehicle that would take them back to the base. They were respectful,fun and I liked them a lot.

A year later I’m back in Vieques at the bar just after the outbreak of the Gulf War. I’d been told that a lot of the guys from the Vieques base  were now there on the ground and I was thinking of them. The Super Bowl .was about to start and Miss Houston sang the National Anthem.

For those moments her voice touched the ears of God. For those moments every parent of an enlisted child sent their own soul to protect their loved ones. For those moments I thought of every one of the kids I’d met the year previous and prayed for their safe return.

In the midst of a massive production with jets flying overhead hers was the magnificent voice of humanity and it could not have been more perfect. I’ll remember her for that. She was never better.

 

Driving Burning and a Uke

I was very busy with practical stuff this week –I drove a lot-probably about 500 miles doing this that and the other. I have a variable commute – I live in Point Roberts Washington and work primarily in Vancouver(about a 20 -25 mile jaunt) and Seattle (an respectable 140.) This week I was summoned down to Seattle once and to Vancouver 5 times. Toss in some medium sized trips to attend some musical happenings and it felt like I was always driving. It normally doesn’t bother me as it gives me time for extended thought and a break from the ever present computer screen –but of course this week it was one traffic snarl after another. I had some dire thoughts –dark shameful thoughts about my fellow man on several occasions .I confess to wishing many of them ill. Loudly. It wore me out.

Saturday was the day I slotted for cleaning up our property and I busted my ass at that for several hours. I loved the fresh air and a chance to build a fire and burn things . There’s a very basic contentment that settles in when you build and tend a fire over a number of hours .  But by about 4pm I was tired, smoky and ready to deal with my little music room that was a complete mess as I was rearranging things .

But Shite!  I realized earlier that I too had received the non updated version of the Challenge book.  Coming up with a YouTube video was the task at hand.   So here is one recorded on Saturday amongst the rubble of my room, bagged after a long week  and smelling like burnt alder.  All I had in me was goofiness so here’s a uke tune.-Kokanee Canary Canoe

http://www.youtube.com/rossd1785

 

Clutter, Mama and a secret prize

Image

Over the past year I have made a conscious effort to de-clutter my life   I periodically do this –go through my closet and look at the things I have not worn  since I bought them quite dispassionately say “you’re outta here” and get them off to  a thrift store .  Same with books, tools ,things I’ve inherited  but  have no room  or taste for.  But this year it has been about curbing the habit of accumulating things I don’t need or have the time for.

So the week 4 challenge was approached with that attitude.

I confess to a jaundiced view of Twitter. I’ve seen too many self absorbed statements from some hyped up reality star being treated as hard news.

As I said in response to watching the Twitter in Plain English video.  I do not believe that life is what happens between blogs and that that is the reason you should Twitter.  Life is what happens when you’re not constantly writing about it .

Life needs it sweet mysteries. Life needs surprise .  I do not feel the need to be a 24 hour news cycle of myself.

But launching my opinions about Twitter without trying it would be wrong so I signed up .  I’m rossdouglas2u if anyone is interested and right now I ‘m patting my 3 legged cat named Mama.

I share pictures on Facebook- I don’t have thousands of pictures so Flickr’ is not yet something I need.  And most of the pictures are not of me –Mama features prominently.

I’m more drawn to the music sharing areas –so this week I created a Facebook band site and put some stuff up on Music Alley. I now for some reason have two Facebook band sites  and have not yet figured how to delete one of them so my technical brilliance continues.

When I get around to employing it I think the widget idea is a great one –updating everything in one fell swoop is very appealing.

But the fact is – I don’t have the time to make effective use of all this stuff.

To pursue all of it right now would be to create a clutter of things I may never get to.

So I’m picking one or two apples off the tree and leaving the others to bonk me on the head when I can make the best use of them.

 

I’m recording some new songs right now and that’s exciting  – working with new musicians, crafting tunes.   I’ll be sharing them in due course -in fact, if you’re reading this-send me your email address and I’ll send you a new tune.

 

And since I mentioned her a couple of times –Here’s a link to  Mama

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150249470887750&set=a.10150249470882750.328142.611482749&type=3