Friday, November 8, 2019

Love me some good news.

It has been a while since I’ve posted.  Interesting how many posts around here seem to start off that way.

Life has got in the way and Facebook as an example is a quick burst of getting a thought out to people, but it is nice to sometimes elaborate via a blog post.

I’ve been involved with a project at work for the last few months.  Like most things it has its ups and downs and now that it is live it has had its ups and downs as expected.  On top of all that I was tasked with another project for the same team.

Earlier this week I spent over 5hrs on a conference call, doing 98% of the speaking.  I don’t mind really.  It’s not that I love the sound of my voice, it’s just where I feel I can lock in to a groove and “go”.

Later in the week I had a conference call (not lead by me this time) and before it got started one of the upper managers from the previous project called me out.  “Thank you for all your time this week, it was very good and very informative”.  Always nice to hear and even a slight bit embarrassing so I followed up with “Thank you, I am glad I was able to help” to which was followed by them “I am not just saying that, you were great you should be proud of the job you did”.

That will stop you.

To break the ice I said “Is (my boss) on the line?”  Did (my boss) hear that?  It was met with laughter and a little more pleasantries which was really great.

As a trainer I do try to encourage people, especially the newer hires.  A quick “I am hearing good things about the job you are doing” can be a huge weight to lift for them.

It’s easy to go to the break room and slag off someone, but man I gotta tell you compliments feel way better to give.

Friday, March 29, 2019

The lost art of..........

For a while I was really in to recoding live shows and trading them.  I used to really love going to a show, recording it then at work the next day listening to the recording.  It was even more fun if it was a band that I heavily traded.  I’d know I was the one that captured the moment and in most cases I’d be trading that show off to a close circle of tapers/collectors.

Today I was listening to a deluxe version of Queens of the Stone Age “Rated R”.  Basically it is a two cd set, the first is the album, the second cd is b-sides and then a show from 2000.  It just took me back.

I used to run a D8 DAT deck for many years and then as the technology was expanding the D8 became even more of a hindrance.  I updated to a much smaller unit that recorded to a memory stick vs physical media.  It was odd, but the results were still the same.

Security has ramped up even more at shows so trying to sneak the gear in became less and less appealing to me.  Why get stopped at the door, or not let in at all when trying to record. On the plus side as well is I’ve been attending shows with friends the last few years.  For a bit nobody wanted to go out during the week so going alone taping would keep me ‘busy’ which was always a welcome distraction.  I’d camp out in my spot, not drink and mind my own business.

It is a silly point now since people live stream via their phones, or record on their phones and that is a post for another day.

I should dust the deck off soon.  Get to a show and just roll and see what happens.

The trade list is still out there, largely untouched for years.  Less and less people want the clutter of physical media, myself included.

Hard work to get all those shows.  Recording, mailing, trading.  Miss those times, then I look at boxes of un-listened to cds.

Monday, February 4, 2019

A Football post - the Superbowl and leading to it.

So I started to write this before the Superbowl…so lets leave it here..and then add some.

This past weekend the New England Patriots…did it again.  They won a game in heart stopping, gut check, don’t turn away fashion.  Something that, lucky, we have been on the plus side more often than not. (Patriots beat the Chiefs in overtime)
I want to start it all off by saying I am a casual fan of football, but that is not even fair.  I’ve been to a few games, I am curious about the score of the game, the standings.  Heck I even own a little gear, but I am not this over the top crazed fan.  My heart is more with the Bruins, but man we are lucky.
What is amazing to think about is just the sheer dominance the team has had for close to twenty years.  Read that again. TWENTY years.

My son has no real concept of the Patriots having a bad year.  Yes we haven’t made the playoffs, or won the division, but this is so common to us as well we take it for granted.  Or do we?
Now one thing to keep in mind is yes the patriots have been to the Super bowl a lot, and won a lot compared to other teams but they never make it easy on themselves.  Outside of their first ever Super bowl beat down by the Bears (their first, and hey the Pats did score first in this game) no Super Bowl game has been a blow out for either team.

In their Super bowl WINS they have won by:
3,3,3,4 and 6 points.  (That’s in order of wins by the way).  The 6 was the TD in OT in the comeback game. But this team likes to keep you guessing.

36, 14, 3, 4, 8 points.  The 3 and 4 point loses were to the Giants.
See why we need to check the heart rate?
What this team has been able to do is remarkable.  It was interesting to hear a comment last night during the game is that the Patriots don’t have these “high draft picks” because of their record (that’s fair) but what is amazing is how they prove that getting the right people make the team.  How many #1 or other first rounders have been busts?  Not to say a 5th rounder is not a bust either, but these deep picks keep finding homes in New England.  They buy in to a system and off it goes.

I can’t imagine any player in the NFL doesn’t want to play in/for New England?  I really can’t see a person not wanting to do that.
It can be tough having people dislike your local team.  I understand that many people are thinking “them..again?”  Yes…them again.  I am not sure who the networks or league would look at to have a “marquee” game?  Tom Brady vs Drew Brees?  Young quarter back vs young quarter back.  Two first timers would be fun to watch I guess.  For the most part though people are out of the hype.  For example I don’t follow other teams press conferences and read their injury reports..that stuff all gets forced on you.  Sports TV and Radio will have two weeks (gasp) to build this game up.
That leads to the next two weeks of “speculation”.  There is talk of some big names from the Patriots stepping aside.  If the patriots do it again, and make it SIX wins it would be hard to look at retirement all the more fondly.
Growing up I remember the “lean years” and its been one heck of a ride.  We need to step back and marvel at this from time to time what we are seeing play out before us.

Updated – the day after Superbowl 53
Okay, the Patriots won….again.  Funny how this works.  Now the “lowest scoring superbowl of all time” yet they won 13-3.  So, they actually WON by ten.  Their greatest margin in a SuperBowl win.  We even needed to wait until the fourth quarter to get a touchdown and still had the Chargers driving down the field.  It wasn’t easy and it was borning.  I am not sharing anything new here.  Nobody at work today said they loved the game, or that it was exciting.  It’s easy to see how the ratings were down for the game.
People are burned out on the Patriots and as much as it is a thrill to see them win I think we are getting to that spoiled level.  Actually we have passed that.
It is a great sports town and sports fans realize winning it all is a big deal, and in most cases, pretty rare.  Enjoy it while it lasts…even if its 20 years!

With all of that hopefully you get to experience your team win the “big game” once if your lifetime.  It really is thrilling.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Music...why it matters, at least to me.

Just the other day I was chatting with a friend about music.  It is one of my passions and when I am given the chance to talk about bands/genres that I love it can get a little crazy.

Right in the moment I want to play everything that comes to mind.  Share why I love them, get that person to latch on as well.  Grab a concert ticket…lets go ALL IN for this!!

Its almost scary a times and I try to “reel it in”.  I think how I feel if someone is passionate about something and I am “meh” or only partially interested in it…or don’t have a clue.

In the end though the guy was pretty excited, then texted me the following day saying how much he loved the music and was buying some of their stuff too.

I’ll call this a win.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Random Stuff...sorta all over the map...

Random Musings indeed…

Let’s chat a little about music today.  Not that we don’t do that very often here but I feel compelled to talk about a few things that have been striking a chord with me as of late.

In the Out of Left field category I had to mention The Marcus King Band.  A little back story, I went to see the Tedechi Trucks Band earlier this summer.  It had always heard good things about them live and the ticket was cheap.  The bill was TTB, Drive By Truckers and Marcus King.  Shame on me for arriving about ½ way in to the already short opener for the opener set.  He was terrific and I haven’t been able to get enough of his music.  Just released a new one last week too (just ordered but have yet to listen) and he is back in the Boston area in November.  First show sold out (I am at that one) but a second was added.  Get on the Marcus King train.  He is pretty great.  This is a good primer if you are not sure about him and the solo at the end is awesome, check out Virginia

Also sort of in the same vein I went to see the Outlaw Music Festival.  Willie Nelson was the headliner and I had never seen him live.  I am glad I went for sure.  Sturgill Simpson was another act on the bill and I had been listening to “Sea Stories” a lot as of late.  Alas, he didn’t play it but he is TREMENDOUS live.  File under “Won’t miss him when he comes around” category.

Now to change gears.

I had a buddy text me the other day about this band  
“Four Stroke Baron” Included was a link to this

 I’ve been smitten ever since.  Check out their bandcamp page as some of their older stuff has a “name your price” download.  Throw em a few bucks.  The new album is due in November and you should pre-order it.

Since we are talking about downloading, This Will Destroy You released two albums worth of material in about two weeks.  It sort of drove me crazy because I could not find any information on a cd physical copy ANYWHERE.  Then BOOM they drop this second album and you can order them on CD.  I was too impatient and went the digital route for both.  The cool part is when I saw the band earlier this year I actually spent some time chatting with the guys in the band and they eluded to the fact they had enough material for two records and “would the fans want that much stuff”.  Ummm yep..we do.  They play Brighton Music Hall on October 28th.  I am not sure I can make it out to that one, but should you be in the area they are worth it.  Grab both of the albums here

If you are a casual fan of this blog you know I worship Caspian and they are back on the road supporting Minus the Bear on their farewell tour.  I’ve been listening to three of the Minus albums in a pretty steady rotation.  I’ll admit I don’t know a ton about them but in reading fan reviews etc people are raving about the set they play.  They do two shows at the Paradise in Boston on Thursday the 25th and then Tuesday the 30th.  I think I’ll stay late for one of them…we shall see.  Part of me wants to leave early night one, stay late for night 2, but when I am in the heat of the show(s) who knows.  I do have responsibilities both days “after” so that puts a damper on things too.
Minus the Bear

Changing gears again:               
I sold a bunch of stuff to a local shop to “clean out” and ended up getting some catalog stuff I never had on cd.  The Smiths were the band I grabbed a few albums from.  Along the same vein there is a new Echo and the Bunnymen cd out.  Its called “The Stars, The Oceans & The Moon”.  Is mostly re-recordings with a few new tunes.  I like it, but I liked the original versions as well.  It’s hard when you are used to certain things to get overly excited about the changes.  Some are sped up a little, others are “busier” than you are used to hearing.  I have it with me at work today and want to give it another listen.
The Bunnymens official site

Okay, fourth gear:
There is a new  High On Fire cd out that is pretty great.  I have to say they continue to release stuff that I always find something worthy of.  Yeah, we are all over the map here I understand but should the mood strike you they are pretty good.  Matt Pike also dusted off  Sleep  earlier this year and toured.  The guy doesn’t seem to slow down.    Keeping with the guitars there is a new Earthless  live album due out this week too.  I’ll buy that.  Same buddy that turned me on to Four Stroke Baron got me to see Earthless live a few years ago so I pretty much trust him on most things.    

I think that covers the music realm.

Usual stuff on TV for me.  I have the old habits but nothing has really grabbed me.  The Roseanne spin off started up.  I have that recorded and have yet to watch.  Have high hopes and despite Rosanne’s issues I usually liked that show.  Curious to see where this goes.  Also started (about ½ way done Season 1) of Ozark.  Its good, but I can’t take too many more days off from it.  I am going to start forgetting.  I feel it has its Breaking Bad moments and any time you tell someone you are watching it they freak out with excitement for you…so there is a lot to live up to.  I am almost done with the HBO Series “Girls” as well.  I have to say I really liked this show.  Maybe it’s the 30 minute run time that its easy to get in/out but I do enjoy it for some reason.  Not sure I am supposed to, but I’ll run with it.

Saturday Night Live still remains a DVR show for me.  A buddy once said to me that the really good stuff you’ll see all over Facebook the next day, yet I still seem to record.  There are ok moments but the musical guests so far have done zero for me.  Cuts my viewing time down a lot.
Outside of Sports and my old man “Series Recoding” type shows nothing else has piqued my interest.

Saw Venom earlier this week.  My son wanted to see it and I too was curious.  I thought it was “ok”.  My son felt it was “slow”.  I guess I too kept waiting for that big wow moment.  I’d have been just has happy seeing it on Blu-Ray in a few months.
I’ve been slowly (really slowly) trying to complete the AFI 100 Best American Films list for years.  Typically I try to watch something from that list every 1-2 months.  That turns in to 3-4 months.  I did recently see “The French Connection” and I did enjoy it.  There are some massive duds on that list too mind you.  I get that they were watershed moments in cinema at the time, but some are just brutal.

To sort of set the idea of my goal, the initial list came out in 1998.  I’ve been using that list.  They re-did the list in 2008.  When the 2008 version came out there was “more” movies that I had seen than the 98 list.  So I figured I’d do the 98 list and circle back on the 2008 list.  So…it has been a process for sure.  The idea is neat, but I still have about 30 to go on the 1998 list.  
Here is the 1998 list: it has a link to the 2008 list too.  So for example Titanic is on the 2008 list, but not the 98 list.  Its something fun and more a conversation starter.  In order to check the movie off my list I need to see the film in full..and the unedited version.  I don’t need to see any “expanded” editions just the “original” and in most cases I need to rent the DVD so that is how I’ve chosen to do it.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Guster - On the Ocean Concert(s) and more

Guster is set to bring a weekend of live music, baseball and beer to Portland Maine in August.  Here are some of the details of this (hopefully) on-going series of events.

Guster On The Ocean Concert at the State Theatre
Date: Friday, August 3, 2018 with Caroline Rose.
Time: Doors at 7:00PM; Show at 8:00PM
All tickets are general admission and are just $46. All ages (children under the age of 3 are free).

Guster On the Ocean Concert at Thompson’s Point, Portland, ME
Date: Saturday, August 4, 2018 with Kishi Bashi, Kishi Bashi , The Secret Sisters and Rest Assured , winners of the Maine Academy of Modern Music’s 2018 MAMM SLAM: Maine's High School Rock Off.
Time: Gates at 5:00PM. Concert begins at 6:00PM.
All tickets are general admission and are just $46. All ages (children under the age of 3 are free).

Guster Day at Hadlock Field, home of the Portland Sea Dogs
Date: Sunday, August 5, 2018
Time: Game starts at 1:00PM; Guster activities on the field beginning at 10:00AM.  Band also slated to throw out first pitch.
General Admission Tickets - $9 for adults; $6 for children

Also, the band is partnering with Mast Landing Brewing Company to produce “On the Ocean Pale Ale”.  The beer will be officially launched at the State Theater on Friday August 3rd.  It will also be available at select locations in/around Portland following.

For tickets and more information about Guster On The Ocean, visit

Be sure and follow Guster oInstagramFacebookTwitter  for On The Ocean updates

and last minute weekend announcements.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

U2 - Two Show Reviews. Boston and Mohegan Sun

So this is something new, I’ll try to do two show reviews, same band, same tour, a few weeks apart.

TD Garden, Boston MA
Thursday June 21, 2018 (Night 1 of 2)


Mohegan Sun, Uncasville, CT
Tuesday July 3, 2018 (night 1 of 1)

The two shows ended up being my 23rd and 24th times seeing the band (at least I am pretty sure, I’ll check my information and make the edit)  Basically seeing them is not a “new” thing for me.  Over these years, tours and shows I’ve grown to expect certain things, hope for more things but always leave pretty happy I went through the effort of getting tickets and getting to the show.

For the Boston show I had GA/floor tickets.  I have been VERY lucky the last few tours in that I’ve been getting GA tickets with relative ease (knock on wood) and at face value.  The pre-sale has always worked for me which is a good thing. 

My pal Doug and I took up a spot about 15 feet back from the second stage.  The second stage was towards the front of the area, nearly using the whole floor as a catwalk to get there.  Having seen the previous tour where this same lay out was done I knew where I wanted to be.  For me, being taller is a help.  I settled in towards the back and took in the show.  Once the band did their “second stage” portion I was 2-3 people off the rail and was able to be “one of those people” where I watched more of it than I should have through the lens of my camera phone (camera phones have lenses right??).  It was a solid show and the band did focus a LOT on the new record, which is fine.  It has grown on me over the past few months and the songs are solid live.

For the second show I was behind the stage. I actually did this semi on purpose.  Mohegan Sun was added late, it is and was the smallest venue on this leg of the tour, and to my surprise was only about a 10 minute longer of a ride than a show in to Boston would be for me.  Being the night before the 4th of July (ie No work) I looked in to tickets.  Tried for GA, but was only pulling tickets further away than I’d like and for more money than I’d have liked.  I saw $40 options for tickets so I tried, it was behind the stage and I said why not?  They were cheap, I’d be in the building and I’ve been VERY lucky with tickets in the past so maybe this is/was some sort of sacrifice for the other fans in that I’d give up my “good seats” in the hopes the ticket gods would bless me down the road.  We shall see.
My wife came along to this show.  We don’t’ get to many shows together but she said she had a good time.  I felt bad due to the sight line(s) and all that.  Even though she didn’t know much of the new stuff she said she had a good time.  The balcony was steep and most people around us were either standing for the rowdy songs, or sitting for the other tunes.  I just played along largely just taking it all in.  The second stage stuff was pretty lost to us.  The huge screen that separates the floor was basically right in front of me so it was impossible to even see Larry sitting at his drum kit.  I hate to watch shows on the screens, but I was glad they were there.

The venue was pretty good for a show and I think I’d try to go again.  Would have been nice to have made a night of it, stay down there but a $500.00 per night room rate kept me out.

Here are the two set lists and I’ll break some of that down.  Actually, it is just one since it was the same both nights.

TD Garden and Mohegan Sun Set lists:

Love is All We Have Left
The Blackout
Lights of Home
I Will Follow
Beautiful Day
The Ocean
Iris (Hold me Close)
Cedarwood Road
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Until the End of the World
(Second Set)
You’re the Best Thing About Me (acoustic)
Staring at the Sun (Bono/Edge) (acoustic)
Get Out of Your Own Way
American Soul
City of Blinding Lights
Love is Bigger Than Anything in its Way
13 (There is a Light)

Okay, so time to break things down some.  The band opens with three brand new tunes.  That is okay, it is after all, a tour for the new album.  For “Love is All we Have Left” Bono is inside the screen about ½ way in to the area and then the full band joins him.  Sort of a neat touch to immerse yourself in the crowd early on.

I’ve seen “I Will Follow” a lot.  It is a fun tune, but it’s sort of a tired workhorse for them.  They’d been teasing the Electric Co a few times and that would have been a bit more welcome.  I think it’s time to sit on I Will Follow for a bit.  “A Day Without Me” would be a nice as would “Stories for Boys” heck blow our mind with “A Celebration”, that would be wild.  All that being said “Gloria” was fun to hear and I am not sure I’ve hear it very much, if at all in all the years I’ve been seeing them.  “Beautiful Day” is still fun and gets people going.  “The Ocean” tease was really a chance for Bono to talk as they lead in to “Iris (Hold Me Close)” which is a song that builds and the payoff is usually good.  I see this song going away though (like “Kite”) after this whole tour is done.  “Ceadarwood Road” had the same intro and graphics as the previous tour.  Feels played out and campy honestly, but that riff the Edge has is awesome.  This leads in to a stripped down version of “Sunday Bloody Sunday”.  Here the band all comes to the catwalk and Larry just has a single snare drum.  The tempo drops considerably and the message feels a little lost.  The band does some heavy reliance on the graphics.  I am torn on this tune.  The full “Under a Blood Red Sky” version I could do over and over again, a stripped down version is not really a favorite.  The first set wraps up with “Until the End of the World”.  It was neat to see this from the stage view as Both Adam and Larry return to the stage, but Edge and Bono do a catwalk thing and then disappear down under the stage from the front.

There is then a few minute break as the second stage gets set up and a piped in version of “Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me” is played on the PA.  I don’t miss this tune at all.

The next six songs are done via catwalk and second stage.  If you have GA this is great, if you have behind the stage a lot is missed.  “Elevation” and “Vertigo” still get the crowd worked up and they are fun.  “Desire” was thrown in there and they put a little twist on the tempo.  It’s more of a sing along tune these days than a breakout.  The band did dust off “Acrobat” from “Achtung Baby”.  A track many fans have waited years to be performed live, we got it. “You’re the Best Thing About Me” was done full band acoustic.  I think this tune will stick around, but I’d like to hear it “electric” next time around.  Adam and Larry disappear and Bono and Edge play an acoustic “Staring at the Sun”.  Its okay, never been a huge song on my wish list of songs to hear live.

“Pride” follows.  A this point Bono is on second stage, Adam and Larry are now on small stages about ¼ back from the main stage and Larry is on his drum kit.  I like how the band continues to be “approachable” in the sense of getting out there “close” to the fans.  Pride has been a staple of the set lists for ages and when it comes on the radio I usually roll my eyes and move on, but live it always grabs me.  Two more newer tracks in “Get out of Your Own Way” and “American Soul” get us just to about the close and we bang out “City of Blinding Lights” as the closer.  This is another track I’ve always been sort of “meh” on, but live it just goes up a level.  For now, I hope it sticks around.

The band leaves and we get a three song encore.  “One” is up first.  Here is another one that I’ve heard countless times live and, much like Pride, I skip over it on the radio, but live it pulls me back in. “Love is Bigger than Anything In Its Way” translates well but down the road, if it remains, its better suited for a mid-set “mellow” section.  The final track is “13 (there is a light)”.  The band played this on the Joshua Tree 30 tour and I left.  Night 1 in Boston I also left.  In CT I stayed through the end.  It’s honestly a pretty lousy closer after a pretty high energy night.  Bono walks the catwalk, then in to the crowd and out one of the side exits…show done.  Sorta of anti-climactic, but it is what it is.

U2 has been doing this for a long time and I will continue to listen to/buy their new material and see them live when I can.

As a longtime fan my wish list is probably not unlike anyone else’s.  Toss out some of the same old staple tracks, dig a little deeper in to your 40 years of history and make each show be “unique”.  I was saying to my wife it would have been nice that if in CT on the final night they pull out something they hadn’t done on the tour.  I am not a huge fan of bands with a  catalog like theirs doing cover tunes, but heck “All Along the Watchtower” as an example is a basic tune for them to toss out there.

The shows all skipped Joshua Tree tracks.  This was okay, but man “Where the Streets Have No Name” is sorely missed.

Songs from this tour/shows I wouldn’t miss:
Sunday Bloody Sunday (this version at least), I Will Follow, The Ocean, Iris, Cedarwood Road, Desire and Staring at the Sun.

Songs I’d really love to see come back:
Surrender and or The Refugee from War.  They’ve never played The Refugee Live so maybe this can be the new “Acrobat”.  “I Threw a Brick Through A Window” would be a trip as would “Zoo Station”.

So you are probably wondering what did I really think?

The Good – The band still sounds great.  You can tell they like what they do and enjoy playing live.  I didn’t hear bum notes and Bono seems to realize his vocal limitations which is good.

The Bad – stagnant set list.  There are just no “surprises” to make the evening feel like you REALLY had to be there.  Sightlines for night two were a drag, but night 1 made up for that.

In conclusion – They still have it.  If you are a casual fan this tour might not have been for you.  Lots of focus on the new stuff but they give you a bang for the buck.  Considering they are in their late 50’s they still give a good 2hr+ show.  See them while you can, but seeing them on multiple nights is probably not necessary.

Finally...tail of two "views"