Sunday, September 18, 2016

Tom Jones Returns to the Road! Boston show slated!


The legendary Tom Jones is back!



Late in 2015 Tom Jones released a new album Long Lost Suitcase (S-Curve Records) and autobiography Over The Top and Back (Blue Rider Press) to great acclaim.   Starthing this week, Jones will hit the road for his first major tour of the United States in support of his latest album and will make stops in New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Los Angeles and more. Fans will hear songs from Sir Tom's latest release as well hits and deep cuts from his career repertoire.
 
Long Lost Suitcase was mostly recorded at The Distillery, a little known studio facility in Wiltshire. Some of the players are familiar from Jones' previous albums, including drummer Jeremy Stacey (who also plays in Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds), bassist Dave Bronze, and of course Ethan, who plays guitar or keyboards on most tracks. New to the team was Andy Fairweather Low, a fellow Welshman and peer of Tom’s from the early ’60s R&B scene, who started out in The Amen Corner and later proved his guitar mastery on tours with Roger Waters and Eric Clapton.
 
The result is a powerful collection of thirteen newly-recorded songs that includes the Celtic hoedown "Honey, Honey" by The Milk Carton Kids, the rollicking R&B tune "I Wish You Would" originally by Billy Boy Arnold and made famous the Yardbirds, a stripped-down version of Willie Nelson's "Opportunity To Cry" and many more.
 
 
US Tour Dates:
 
9/20: Philadelphia, PA - Tower Theater
9/21: New York, NY - The Beacon Theatre
9/23: Boston, MA - The Orpheum Theatre
9/24: Mashantucket, CT - Grand Theater
9/25: Washington, DC - Warner Theater
9/28: Montclair, NJ - Wellmont Theater
9/29: Pittsburgh, PA - Benedum Centre
10/1: Northfield, OH - Hard Rock Rocksino
10/2: Louisville, KY - The Louisville Palace
10/3: Chicago, IL - House of Blues
10/5: Kansas City, MO - Uptown Theater
10/7: Tulsa, OK - Brandy Theatre
10/8: Thackerville, OK - Winstar Casino
10/11: San Francisco, CA - Masonic Centre
10/13: Los Angeles, CA - Hollywood Bowl w/ Van Morrison
 
For everything Tom Jones be sure to check out his official website

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Phish - XFinity Center - Mansfield MA Friday July 8,2016

Friday night marked the 20th time I’ve seen Phish.  
Granted, depending on your taste in music (and desire to see live shows) is either a big number or a laughable low number.
After a particularly rush partial day at work my first indication of a “different” evening arrived when I was in the store getting supplies for later.  As I drew my wallet from my pocket to pay…no debit card.  
I was already running later than I wanted so I left my merchandise on the counter and raced home to look for the card.  No luck.  Call to the bank, cancel the card, confirm last transaction was mine just a day before etc.  That part is a major “whew”.  My buddy met me about 45 minutes later and we were on our way.
I’ve chosen to pay for parking at the Xfinity Center for some years now.  The place has been open for over 20 years yet the stories still linger of folks sitting in long lines of traffic going to/coming from.  I just don’t have the patience.  Typically a conversation with friends that have never done this goes like this.
Me: I bought premier parking
Them: Why would you pay..It’s free?
Me: After that final note is struck I can walk to my car and be IN my driveway within 20 minutes.
Them: blank stare
Me: Try it with me
Them the night of the show when tires are rolling – GREAT IDEA!
The lot scene was fine.  Not that I’d have partook anyway, but still it was a nice evening.
The band hit the stage about 7:40.  Opening with “Party Time” they seemed in fine form, but just glancing from my open air seat it seemed WOEFULLY undersold.  There were rumors it was sold out and rumors it was not. (It got VERY full).  The new light show was something to behold even a few hours before it really got dark.  “46 Days” followed, then “Poor Heart” in to a newer some “The Dogs”.  It seemed a little slow for my liking, but whatever I was ready.
“Bathtub Gin” followed and that can go either way.  The band didn’t take it where I had hoped and I still was feeling sort of out of the loop.  Then it happened.  My least favorite tune “Fast Enough for You”.  Gah.  ZZZZ boring. Lame.dull.  Uggh.  (After the show I see it was the first time in 2 years they played it..oh yay!).  Now I won’t say I was “mad” but I was bumming out.  Mind you I was pretty darn sober but this set was going nowhere for me personally.  “How Many People Are You” and “Strange Design” were okay, but still nothing.  “Fuego” was a lot of fun and I felt we were warming up more and that went in to “Cities” which saw Trey roaming the stage and a super long jam.  Okay we are on a roll.
First set ends with an a capllea version of “Space Oddity” originally by David Bowie.  Now this was neat, cool, and they sounded pretty good.  Well, at least the parts I could hear.  The audience around me, if they were not nose deep in their phones, were either talking or signing along…loudly…off key..and not knowing the words.  Set 1 was thankfully coming to a close and I felt okay..set 2…lets do this.
After an okay set break (they used to say 15 minutes but that is long gone) they came out for “Ghost->Light” not too bad but we could be really pushing it on the jam side (for me).  The band went in to “Wolfman’s Brother” which was a welcome smile from me.  The band was going along and then..it happened.
No sound
No PA
No instruments
Crowd yells as at first it almost seems like a “silent jam”.  My buddy says “Do they know the sound is out?”
After a few moments the band departs the stage and we sort of sigh.  
I felt like it was going to take a LOT for me to get back in to this.  After five minutes the band was back.  Kudos to the crew for a pretty speedy correction.
The downside was we folks outside the main pavilion were then left out in the cold when it came to the PA.  There was no real audio push for anyone outside the pavilion.  People were talking so much it felt like we were outside a crowded bar.  The band played on: Chalk Dust, Saw it Again, Back on the Train but I was just growing increasingly more frustrated with everything.  “Slave to the Traffic Light” sounded great and the band really unloaded on this.  It might have been the show saver…had I been in the pavilion.  I’d had enough..as had the band they left the stage at 10:40.  Time to get out of here.
They encored with “I am the Walrus” that I listened to while walking.
I make no bones about this show.  I was disappointed.  The funny part is friends that were closer “LOVED” the show.  That is typical for me at Phish.  If I love it most hate it..if I am “meh” I am in the minority.
The Full Set:
Set I: Party Time > 46 Days, Poor Heart, The Dogs, Bathtub Gin, Fast Enough for You*, How Many People Are You, Strange Design, Fuego, Cities^, Space Oddity
Set II: Ghost > Light > Wolfman’s Brother^^, Chalk Dust Torture, Saw It Again > Back on the Train > Slave to the Traffic Light
Enc: I Am the Walrus
Notes: *Last time played 8/3/14
^Trey broke a string and switched guitars mid-song, also introducing his guitar tech, Brian Brown. Trey then switched to Marimba Lumina and Mike played Trey’s guitar.
^^During vocal jam the PA cut out and the band left the stage. Unfinished.

Still, will I go to see them again?  Yes
Will I download the show and listen to it? Yes
Will I continue to tell people I am disappointed? Yes.
Regardless, it’s the power of the live show.  The band appears to be in fine form.  They look healthy, seem to be playing off one another well.  Just an off night perhaps.
Lets see what 21 brings…

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

A new..not so cheap toy.

I had been eyeing a drone for some time.  I am not sure why.  I am not a photographer and never was really in to “remote control” cars for example.  That is probably because the sheer number of batteries it took to run them and it was always a hassle a few days after Christmas or your birthday, so it would sit unused.

The Phantom Drone had always struck a chord with me.  It just looked cool, seemed reasonably priced and could do some neat things.

So…I finally bought one.  Went with the DJI Phantom 3 Standard.

Figured I’d share my thoughts a few days out.

Ordered it on line from the DJI site on a Sunday and it arrived on Thursday.  That experience was “ok”.  Outside of a “thanks for your order” I felt I was checking their web site every few hours for an update.  It was in “payment pending” for what seemed like days.  Regardless, it did arrive.

I am not sure what I was thinking, but I decided to unpack the drone thinking I might have some quick fun before I really read the directions.  Mind you, it had been raining for 5+ days and was still pretty damp out, but by god I was going to get that drone off the ground!

The manuals are below average at best.  It’s not a simple “plug and play” type deal.  I am glad I had my laptop close by to hit up the internet for various ideas and thoughts.  Finally after a good 30 minutes of the drone beeping and flashing I just had to put it away.  Way too much for this late in the evening.

I let things charge up and watched some hockey.

It can get nerve wracking and frustrating.  There were at least two updates I needed to do to the firmware.  Most videos I saw indicated this, but we are talking 30+ minutes of an update.  Again, I was ready to fly this!!

Finally the rain broke and it was time to fly it. (2 days later…)

Brought out to the back yard and tried to sync stuff up.  Did everything I could…the drone would not take off.  I was getting a message that the RC was not connected (RC = Remote Control) so after I shut it all down, lugged back inside to then google what the hell that meant I was good to go. (Just another re-sync).

I like to consider myself a calm person, but I was starting to get upset.  I paid a fair amount of money for this drone and the rotors still had not even spun.  You use your cell phone (or tablet) as part of the remote and I realize I have the internet at my fingers in a way, but you have to disconnect the drone etc etc.  I’d much rather have a “pre flight checklist” in the manual.  Here is what you need to do, here is what may happen and how to fix it.  Easy right?

Back outside I go…we are beeping we are ready.

Then I realize I have no idea how to get the rotors to start up.

None

Back inside to look that up.  (for your reference pull both the control sticks down and inward and hold).

Okay…good to go.

Back outside, and I get another message that I am in “beginner mode”.  That is all fine and good.  What this basically does is puts a set distance/height on your flights until you get used to the controllers.  Even after a few days I am still in this mode honestly.

Control sticks down…..and……….

Contact.
Up it slowly climbs.

I do have to say it’s pretty cool.  Actually it’s really cool.  In flight you can change from video to still pictures so you capture your flight.  Be aware there is NO audio on the video.  That makes sense.  The drone itself is not super quiet.  It is not LOUD but you certainly know you are flying it.  When the drone is low and your are nearby you can feel the air moving.

Like anything else it is getting easier, but that is because I am curious to know more.  I am all over YouTube looking at videos on set ups and other ideas.


As you can tell I’d like to learn more about image resolutions etc to get “nicer” looking pictures.

Technical Breakdown
What you get – Drone, two sets of rotors, a battery, charger and remote control.  You get a box with some random stuff that they don’t tell you what it is or it’s needed for.  One device is used to hold the rotor in place so you can attach the rotor blades.  The camera is attached and has a lens cover as well as a plastic piece that holds the camera in place.  Also you get a micro SD card that inserts right in to the camera.

Set up – Attaching the blades is easy.  Hand tighten.  The cap on the camera I found “tight” and was worried as I was pulling it off I’d damage the camera.  The plastic holder I’d like better instructions 
on how to “use it again”.  The camera hangs under the drone and it has to move pretty easily but I feel like it “jostles” too much when putting the cap/plastic holder back on.

Charge time – The remote plugs in to your computer and takes about 1 to get full.  It arrived to me with more than half.  The battery charges pretty quick and it too was about half charged.  The flight time has been about 25 minutes, pretty much what I’ve read everywhere.  The remote appears to hold a good charge for 2.5/3 hrs.

Things you may want to get sooner than later – A second battery.  Some sort of “case” to both protect and organize your stuff.

Before you fly – Ask friends that have drones for help/advice.  Be PATIENT.  Stuff is out there, but I got frustrated.  I was trying to be smart and read up on things but the material just was NOT there in the box.  Write some ideas down for yourself (or bookmark videos).  My suggestion is to just have some ideas so you can try it out.  Also register it online.  It costs 5$ and it’s good for 3 years.  I’ve seen suggestions as well to write the # right on your drone in marker and also put a “reward if found” w/your phone # sticker on the drone. 

When you fly – go to an open space.  Despite all the cool videos out there of people going in and out of tunnels or whatever…if you are new you want the space.  Just get used to it.  Go up, come down, and go left..go right.  Take a few pictures and land it.  I am waiting to get out of the fear that a 400+$ item is going to fall from the freaking sky.  Seriously go to a local school field or something.  Just have fun.  Leave it in beginner mode so it doesn’t go “higher” than you want.  Law requires it remains in your sight.

When you land – The app on your phone can grab pictures off the memory stick.  Everything needs to be connected to do this (drone and RC) so just convert it so you can upload pictures to your computer or social media etc.  Power it off and thank your stars it landed safely.

So there you have it.  I have to say I really do think it’s cool and look forward to pushing it, and myself to get some neat images and have fun flying it.

Finally the Pros/Cons
Pros:
Price point is good. Camera is good for the beginner/novice
Light
Sharp looking
Lots of online tutorials

Cons
Lack of documentation for start up/first flight.  Really my biggest gripe of all.
Tons of firmware updates (I’ve had it for 2 weeks and done 3 of them)

More to come…have fun!

A few days after I wrote this I took it out of Beginner mode and grabbed this shot.  About 220 feet up.



Thursday, March 17, 2016

Tortoise - The Sinclair, Cambridge MA March 15, 2016


Tortoise
The Sinclair, Cambridge MA
Tuesday, March 15, 2016
Support –Mind over Mirrors, E


Tortoise released"The Catastrophist"  back in January and it is a great return record for them.  Seems it had been quiet from their camp for some time.  When the band announced a string of shows I knew it was fine time I went to see them again.  The last time I saw the band was at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston so the venue felt a little more suited for them on this night.
Arrived when Mind Over Mirrors was performing.  Note I did not say anything about “on stage”.  Nope, set up on the floor right off the sound board.  The music was neat, sort of “drone” but enough that, at least at first, I wasn’t  begging for him to stop.  It was interesting, but 20 minutes or so was plenty.  It sort of felt like PA music so the wait for Tortoise seemed all that much longer.
Arriving on stage with little to no fanfare the members took their places on the stage.  On the front lip of the stage was two drum kits (both facing one another).  There were times when there were two drummers going, and others when there was no drummers.  
The band played about 55 minutes for their “main set” stopping only once to speak about how the primary was being held in their home state (Illinois) and that they were too scared to look at the results.  Other than hand waves that was about all the band did to acknowledge the sold out crowd.
The two encores felt a bit forced.  Why the band did two songs, break, then two more seemed unessesarry .  We still got the music, but the gaps messed up the flow where it was nearly flawless for the previous 55 minutes.
What drives Tortoise is the musicianship.  They are accomplished performers as evidenced by the carousel like ease the band had with swapping instruments.  The audience was respectful and engaged which is always a plus

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Monday, February 29, 2016

New Music - Dead Trains


New from Boston based band "Dead Trains" comes the release "Country Road Bound".  The albums is out now and includes 7 tracks that run that fine mix of punk rock meets country.  Its an odd mix, but it works!

Check out the track "Mean Town Blues"

You can grab the album now.  Check em out!  Looking for some shows to pop up soon too!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Two bands to mention..

The year has been a bit quiet so far on new releases.  I grabbed the new Tortoise record last week.  Called "The Catastophist" its a pretty solid listen. I have to say the cover of "Rock On" is not really what I would have expected. It actually is the one song I tend to skip on the record for whatever reason.

Otherwise I've really been digging on the band King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard.  I read about them in a magazine (yep still old school around here) and it was cool to dive in and check em out.  They are really prolific, releasing 2 records a year at their current clip.  Excited to hear new stuff, get in to it and then be ready for even more new stuff.

The good news is both Tortoise and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard are making local area appearances.  Both bands hit The Sinclair in the next few months.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Hello

The year is coming to a close and the blog continues to be on the back burner.

new job, lots of hockey and just a little change of direction.

I like the blog, I need to decide in the next few weeks really to see what is up.

Happy New Year to all.