This afternoon, I spent almost two full hours at a meeting for a local information security group.
The group is composed of an entirely suspected group of people. Almost everyone over 35 years of age was White and Male. Almost everyone under 35 years of age was Male and Not White. There were four women out of approximately 30 people.
Information security staff members from the two largest privately owned companies in the United States were there. Students, a teacher (although I don’t think any of his students will ever learn anything), non profits, under and unemployed, the military.
I realized that for all of the years I’ve worked in information technology or with computers we have all been telling lies.
The conversations are the same, the problems are the same, the answers are the same.
We have been telling lies.
Extant lies for empty purposes. To support our technology myths and fairy tales.
Technology is not magic. Devices are not bewitched and we are not gurus or wizards or profits. Most of us are barely adept at supporting an ever expanding shell that is not of significant self to shore from the impending crash.
But we have continued to tell lies. We tell them to convince money we can win a war. We plan them to believe we will adjust quickly enough to counter even the basest of failure or ignorance. We create them to fill the absolute void between zero and one. We theorize singularities of perfect purpose. We check boxes and build straw kingdoms for a statistic impossibility of survival.
This is not a war we can win. No defense or plan will succeed. In this fight there is not a winning outcome. We are due to realize that there will be compromise. We can stop the wheel or let it fall off or be gone before we see it fail.
We should focus on learning to fix things again. Of building with materials that will last or serve their purpose and be reworked into a resource for the next compromise.
I certainly didn’t do that on the concert attendance front.
But I DID start broadcasting again, something I’ve sincerely missed.
Utilizing the categories from last year, here’s what I enjoyed during my musical journeys in 2016:
I listened to a LOT of pop music this year. As a child, I didn’t have a lot of musical diversity in my life. Lots of hymns and classical music. My continuing appreciation of pop music is perhaps an attempt to stay connected to the wonderment I had in my late teens and early twenties as I discovered so much.
Carly Rae Jepsen keeps pumping out catchy, well-crafted, body-movin’ tracks. I particularly enjoyed this one during 2016:
This track by Bridgit Mendler was also a favourite:
On the flip side of pop tarts…
“Tenderness on the Block” is a song I first heard on Shawn Colvin’s 1994 album Cover Girl. I’ve long considered Shawn a premier arbiter of cover songs. This particular song on this particular album fell flat on my ears. I think Shawn does an admirable job with her version, but I never really liked it all that much.
I don’t remember what spurred me towards listening to the original. I’m also not sure I ever made the connection that Warren Zevon wrote it. My most significant recollection of Warren is him playing on the Letterman show during the final months of his life. Warren and Dave combined into something very poignant and moving. I miss them both terribly.
Maybe it’s the piano part or the Jackson Browne harmonies in the original that makes me love it.
Kacey Musgraves and Buddy Miller provided my best covers pick this year. From the Cayamo Sessions At Sea – Buddy Miller and Friends album. This is LIVE folks:
If I Were Cooler…
I took a wonderful sidetrack into the electric blues this year. There is so much about this music that I don’t know. A very rich and complex history.
I’d never heard of Freddy King until I found this song:
This song is a masterpiece. Produced by the great Leon Russell who was taken from us by the monster that will be forever known as 2016.
I also listened to many tracks from the Tedeschi Trucks Band. I love the vibe and culture that Susan and Derek are creating and fostering with their studio and production efforts. I hope to be able to support them by seeing them live as soon as I can.
Their NPR Small Desk Concert is a rough, brilliant gem:
Best Concert Experience
In March of 2016 I got to realize a dream and see two AMAZING musical acts. The Suffers and Lake Street Dive played First Avenue in Minneapolis, MN. Some of my favorite musical acts (Low, The Replacements, Hüsker Dü) made their stars in this venue.
I was standing in line to enter and I found myself right next to his star on the outside of the building (it was still white then). I looked at it and considered that I should take a picture. But I didn’t, the line moved, and then Prince died.
I’m probably about 15 feet to the right of where this video was shot. It was a great way to end a great concert.
I started broadcasting again in 2016.
In the summer before my Junior year in high school, I started with an hour long newscast (Newton At Noon) on KBCU FM 88.1
It took me about 5 minutes to realize that I loved the medium and the capability of radio. It was one of the primary reasons I came back home to attend Bethel College and I did my best to continue the tradition of the station during my educational career there.
This year, I did my first streaming show. I’m not sure if this is “radio” or not, but I structured my shows this year in the same manner I’ve almost always done them. Loose, free; playing what I want when I want to. My initial shows were on Anonradio.net (I’ve linked to show archives). Now, I’ve built my own streaming audio server and broadcast HERE.
Sometimes it doesn’t work, but I’m usually on live from 9pm Central for 1 hour.
I can’t let 2016 be ANYTHING but pure Purple. Amazing, bicycle-loving, Epoch DEFINING, elemental; singular – Prince . prince
Everything is purple today, but my heart is blue. The loss comes from an extraordinary artist disappearing. And I realize that I will never get to see him perform live. Even worse is the missing of his singular uncertainty. Of what he would sing or write or say or show next.
Prince was a new world for me. I was a large, pasty white 10 year old farm boy when I first heard the revelation of his music. Prince is why I bought that first James Brown CD at 15. He’s why I could not satisfy myself with just ONE Parliament or George Clinton recording.
Prince is the tiny dynamite personification of why I love music.
The vague creatures who paint pictures for my eyes
Carry me out over minors and
Bury my ears warm under the sonic sun
The first time I heard Chris Stapleton play and sing one of his songs I knew I will keep listening until I experience the loss of faculty to do so. Mr. Stapleton had quite the prodigious year. CMA awarded him “New Artist of the Year” and he garnered a tanker’s anchor of other trophies. He even got to duet with Justin Timberlake.
Chris utilized his years of inside Nashville experience and output to achieve recognition from the music machines and maintain his uber credibility. To label him neauveau Outlaw is derivative to both the originals and Chris’ fantastic lyric and tune crafts. I was fortunate enough to see him perform with Willie, Kris, Jamey Johnson, Shooter, and his talented wife Morgane this summer at:
That concert in Austin is the best live event I’ve ever attended. It was another huge showcase for Chris and Morgane’s talents. They can also enrapture from the other end of the performance spectrum. Example below (Whiskey And You is one of the best songs ever created):
Kacey Musgraves also played the Outlaw concert. I had heard of her before yet hadn’t examined her music.
I tend to prefer voices with presence, Johnny Cash, Shawn Colvin, Aretha, Sarah Vaughn, Alison Krause… Kacey’s voice is not large or unique.
She sure as hell was born to write and sing great songs. My understanding is that Willie Nelson has, as he often does, helped to guide and support her artistic life. Her album released this year “Pageant Material” is a great collection of songs that highlight her lyrical wit combined with a great ability to create memorable sonic hooks. Even a standard kiss-off song like “Keep It To Yourself” from 2013’s Same Trailer Different Park provides the point without malice. And it contains the characterizations and interesting metered rhymes that make Kacey interesting.
My favourite of her output so far is “Family is Family”. Damn fantastic country song:
I’m been making an effort to expand my funk horizons and the best thing I found this year was The Meters. They were originators on the New Orleans Funk scene in the 60s and 70s. Successful in their own right and providing backing foundation for the likes of Allen Toussaint and Dr. John.
Sissy Strut is the funky grove in my head all the time now:
My other favorite groove for the year is from a Colombian band – Bomba Estereo
I love a a cover song that makes me remember the greatness of the original song and amazes me by the interpretation. Here are my favourites I discovered in 2015:
Learnin’ to Fly – The Weepies from Sirens (2015). This musical duo continues to imagine and perform some of the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard. The album they released this year is a great celebration of Deb’s successful battle against breast cancer and how their entire family used music as bulwark, salve, and sustenance.
This cover was recorded on somewhat of a lark to fill extra studio time. I think it is perfect:
As much as a bald, fat, married, 41 year old father of four boys under 13 can swoon, THAT’S how much I love Ruth Moody. Her work with The Wailin’ Jennys and collaborations with artists like Mark Knopfler are beautiful. Her cover of Springteen’s Dancin’ In The Dark is amazing.
I’ve long been intrigued by Roxy Music. As I learned about musical genre labels during my teenage years, they seemed to not be any of them and live inside of many of them at the same time. Lucy Kaplansky has been a longtime folk favorite of mine (along with Jonatha Brooke who provides the duet vocals). Her interpretation helped me to realize that this is a true love song that also breaks my heart.
I Used To Be A King – Shawn Colvin. Graham Nash wrote this song after his relationship with Joni Mitchell ended. My opinion is that Shawn is singing this to herself about her musical career. She is a tough, talented, powerful artist.
Might be my favorite Replacements song. JTE performs this cover like he lived it.
Crossing Muddy Waters – I’m With Her (Sarah Jarosz, Sara Watkins, Aoife O’Donovan)
Written by the legend John Hiatt, this cover captures and extends the heartbreak of the original. These three ladies combine their talents and I can’t stop watching this video.
If I was still a young man…
Pop songs are a pleasure I will never deny myself. I rocked these on playlists throughout the year:
Cool For The Summer – Demi Levato
Empty Threat – CHVRCHES
I so love this Scottish band.
The House That Heaven Built – Japandroids
I wish I would’ve been at more concerts like this in college
Best Live Performance
I went to see Patty Griffith perform in Norman, OK at The Sooner Theater on November 14, 2015. The opening act was Darlingside with who’s music I was entirely unfamiliar. I was really excited to see Patty again. She’s a diminutive powerhouse and seeing her at Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa a couple of years ago was one of the best concerts I’ve ever attended.
Patty was at the end of a long US tour swing; it showed. Her band was in fine fettle and Patty gave all she had. Many I talked to after the concert shared my sentiment that she appeared tired. I can’t imagine the road life of a performer and I look forward to seeing her next time.
When they first walked on stage my inner-cynic whispered, “Great. Another hipster acoustic, banjo quad yelling HEY! every six bars.”
I’ve never been happier to realize the stupidity of my inner-cynic.
These four gentlemen are some of the best live performers I’ve ever seen. They ruled the single microphone setup. The vocals were washed in the warmth of The Byrds and the exuberance of The Beach Boys. I particularly appreciated the mix of electric and acoustic instruments. And, I’m also a sucker for incorporating a carbon-fiber cello.
They engaged our audience through music and conversation in a way that I have seldom seen. I wish them all the success they desire.
One thing I proved this summer is that I take REALLY bad concert pictures with my cell phone.
For instance, here’s Kris Kristofferson:
And here’s a whole passel of my music idols – including: Willie, Buddy Miller, Kristofferson, etc:
Thanks to my father, I was able to attend this once in a lifetime concert event. And even though I had to suffer through Toby Keith bullshit, I’ll never forget it. The lineup was epic, the performances were brilliant; the company was the best I could ever hope for.
I also got to experience what may be the coolest music store ever: South Austin Music
Bill Welker is a hell of a man and I hope someday to be able to return the hospitality he extended to my father and me.
Cheers to 2016
2015 will be hard to top for me.
May your playlists be diverse and incredible. And please share them with me.
This has certainly been an exercise. Took me 2 plus years to complete.
I’ve been having trouble finding books to read recently. I wander the aisles of the downtown Wichita Public Library and either give up or grab something at random. I haven’t finished the last 4 books I’ve checked out. This makes me sad.
My life is certainly busy. The boys are growing up. Playing sports, making art, building Lego ships, Science Olympiad, learning to read, making me laugh. My last grandparent (Mabel) died last week. My parents are getting older. My wife remains as beautiful as ever.
I’ve read multiple articles about how Billy Joel doesn’t really like this song. I’d agree that is isn’t his best. I wasn’t alive for the majority of the historical artifacts listed.
I think that the basic reason I wanted to write through them all was to help myself understand what the past is, where is lives in my life, and how I should try to improve the future.
Thanks for sticking with me through it all. May we still burn on, and on, and on.