Sunday, January 27, 2019

I Remember You: Skid Row at 30

"Skid Row was slightly different from contemporary albums by Warrant and Great White because it contained less "fake-gutter narratives of sluts and bad boys", and instead leaned more towards Bon Jovi's earnest anthems." Erik Davis Spin Magazine June 1989

1989 gave us Skid Row's debut self-titled album. Personally, I can only hear some of these titles as read by MTV VJ Adam Curry or Headbanger's Ball host Rikki Rachtman as they seemed on heavy request rotation, along with Aerosmith, Queensr├┐che, and Poison. It was different, heavier, and the songs weren't just about love and partying. 18 and Life told the story of Ricky who threw his life away, Youth Gone Wild was  about the questioning of authority, and that video for I Remember You - who can forget that sad story? 

For those of us who cut our teeth on Poison and Bon Jovi, Skid Row was the stepping stone to heavier music and gave us an outlet for our teen angst. While not without controversy, the band toured for the next 17 months and even played in the Moscow Music Peace Festival and would open for and play with a myriad of the 1990's super groups: Aerosmith, Guns N Roses, Pantera, and Soundgarden.

Big Guns
Sweet Little Sister
Piece of Me
18 and Life
Rattlesnake Shake
Youth Gone Wild
Here I Am
Makin' a Mess 
I Remember You
Midnight / Tornado

Stick It To Ya - Slaughter

Released on January 27, 1990, Stick It to Ya was released at the end of the makeup era of the hair bands. The PMRC need not worry about the content of this album. The songs were heavier and however the power ballads were all seemingly an octave higher. This album was also safe. It wasn't filled with the angst of Guns N Roses, the songs became anthems, like Up All Night and Mad About You

While the band was at first synonymous with Up All Night, many of us remember where we were the first time we saw and heard Mark Slaughter singing Fly to the Angels. That voice hitting those notes of song written for someone long lost, of course romanticized by a Amelia Earhart figure in the video.

Even with a follow up album and a song in Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey, coupled with the loss of their guitarist, Slaughter never

Eye to Eye
Burning Bridges
Up All Night
Spend My Life
Thinking of June
She Wants More
Fly to the Angels
Mad About You
That's Not Enough
You Are the One
Gave Me Your Heart
Loaded Gun

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Living In A Land Down Under

It's ineffable, I know I won't be able to find words sufficient enough to describe the feelings, but maybe I can at least find words that can evoke the feeling of certain moments. I never would have believed there was anywhere in the world with a sky so blue or full of so many stars, beaches so magical, people so humble, moments so ephemeral that to capture all of the senses is impossible. Seemed like an opportune time to start a journal. ~Paula Carlson 2000

Celebrating Australia Day does have its controversy, as it marks the landing of Colonial ships on Australia's shore. The mistreatment of the aboriginal indigenous population is still being reconciled, but at least they are taking the steps to do so. Their plight highlighted, always be a man who was ahead of the time, by David Bowie in his Let's Dance video, showing the prejudice against the native population. 

Now let's talk about the Irish? Sentenced to Van Diemen's Land for various crimes, the thought was to banish them away from the mischief they were causing in Ireland. Their suffering captured by Bobby Sands in a poem that was later turned into the song Back Home in Derry.

Van Dieman's land is a hell for a man
To live out his life in slavery.
When the climate is raw and the gun makes the law.
Neither wind nor rain cares for bravery.

And let's not forget about Australia's sacrifice in World War I. Ever wonder why there is so much pride and remembrance when it comes to ANZAC Day? 10,000 men of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (Anzacs) died in 1915 in their first ever campaign.

Australia has become a stereotype,  banished to the barbecues, beer, and Vegemite category thanks to Crocodile Dundee and Men at Work.  But Australia is a bit more deep than that. Being a good 'mate is what typifies an Aussie. They either love you or they don't When they love you, they will never forget about you. They're funny, hard working, and loyal. Think of Steve Irwin when you think of Australia. 

Australia is a land filled with gangrenous and beautiful animals, beautiful landscape, and newfound respect and appreciation for the aboriginal rights and their land.

Australia has also given us some wonderful talent, great movies, and delicious food (well, not all Aussie food has Vegemite associated with it).

Music (alphabetically)
Air Supply
Bee Gees

Nick Cave 
The Church
Crowded House
Natalie Imbruglia
Olivia Newton John
Little River Band
Men at Work
Madison Avenue 
Midnight Oil
Kylie Minogue
Dannii Minogue

Savage Garden
*Spotify Australia Playlist

Crocodile Dundee

Mad Max
Muriel's Wedding
Ned Kelly
Priscilla Queen of the Desert

Food (And Drink)
Bundaberg Rum
Meat Pies
Tim Tams
Victoria Bitter beer

When you see the Southern Cross for the first time
You understand now why you came this way
'Cause the truth you might be runnin' from is so small
But it's as big as the promise, the promise of a comin' day ~Crosby, Stills, and Nash


Friday, November 30, 2018

Happy Merry Hanukkah Christmas Oi!

It seems as if everyone loves the music this time of year – Christmas music playing all the time in the stores as we shop. But – let’s look at some non-traditional holiday songs; the ones that do not typically get played in aisle five of  Duane Reade

Christmas In Hollis – Come on, this is beautiful folks – this song is so wrong it’s right. Run DMC stereotypes galore, this song puts the hood into Christmas 

Christmas All Over Again – by Tom Petty. Again, an original Christmas tune – played in Petty-esque simplicity – 

Christmas Time – Smashing Pumpkins. Billy Corgan is Tim Burton’s dream soundtrack singer – he makes Christmas seem so Smashing Pumpkins in this song which is hauntingly beautiful. 

Oi to the World – No Doubt … a punk Christmas tune that only Gwen Stefani could get away with covering. A song of forgiveness and bourbon – highly recommend.

Ave Maria – Chris Cornell and Eleven – Traditional yes, but not with this voice. Beautiful – powerful.

  I would never have imagined the next one. So I wanted a Hanukkah song but never thought I would come across a Hanukkah song like this. Please get ready to dance: Chanukah Jewish Rock of Ages - Official Hanukkah Song.

I’m not even a Tom Waits fan – but this is awesome! Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis. Sad  song – but beautifully done.

 Fairytale of New York – This song is so New York, you can smell the bar at 4am. Beautiful (as much as Shane McGowan can be beautiful) duet with Kristy MacColl.

Christmas Must Be Tonight – My Morning Jacket. Jim James does not stray from the Band original. Classic and should be heard by

A New York City Christmas Tradition of sorts for us in the emergency response community. Shilelagh Law wrote Christmas in New York Again after the 11th and it captures holidays and remembers those no longer with us.

Making ChristmasNightmare Before Christmas – Eerie holiday song from one of the best movies ever made. If you want to play Christmas music starting after Halloween, you should start with this one!

Merry Christmas Everyone - Happy Hanukkah and have Very Blessed and Happy New Year!!!

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Jeff Buckley - It's You I've Searched So Hard For

He played a version of Indifference for me. Man, I tell you, I'll never forget the way he  did it...I was just fuckin' of the most memorable moments of my life. ~Eddie Vedder  

It isn't a surprise to anyone that I am slightly obsessed with singer Jeff Buckley. I was left breathless when my friend asked essentially, what's the big fucking deal with Jeff Buckley? (Completely paraphrased with my exaggeration after three glasses of red wine of course). I would have appreciated some sensitivity but nonetheless...So what is the big deal about Jeff Buckley?

From the second I heard Jeff in Australia, he had my soul. There is something both romantically and tragically mysterious about Jeff. And yet there is something so pure about him. Recently, I met a musician who worked with Jeff and spoke of his musical talent as well as his goofiness. 

Let's break down the elements of Jeff Buckley.

He is the son of a musician with a tragic ending.
Irony and rock and roll coincidence that Jeff not only looked and sounded like his father, folk legend, Tim Buckley (who walked about from both Jeff and his mother, Mary) but he also died suddenly, at the height of stardom. Also ironically, he was "discovered" at a musical memorial for his father at St. Anne's Church in Brooklyn.

His octave range and musical abilities impressed Bono, Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, and Paul McCartney.
I started to play Grace constantly.  constantly and the more, the more I listened to the album, the more, the more I heard — the more I appreciated of Jeff and Jeff’s talents and Jeff’s total ability to which he was just a wizard and it was close to being my favorite album of the decade. We actually made a point of going to hear him play and seeing and it was absolutely scary. One of the things is a little frightening was that I was convinced that he probably did things in tunings and he didn’t. He was doing things in standard tuning. I thought, oh gee he really is clever isn’t he ? He quite clearly had his feet on the ground and he said his imagination was flying, flying way, way out there, beyond, beyond. Jeff Buckley was one of the greatest losses of all. ~Jimmy Page

He was handsome
(No words necessary).

He only released one album Grace was the only album that Jeff blessed to Sony. While he was working on Sketches For (My Sweetheart the Drunk), it was not in the stages of even being ready to be released, with Jeff reportedly unsatisfied with the recordings. We've been blessed with many previously un-released tracks and live performances. But many wonder - what would Sweetheart have truly been if Jeff had done waded into the Wolf River.

He was enigmatic yet simple.

When Jeff loved people, he loved them unconditionally. Whether others thought that someone was a big freak or the best person in the world, it didn't make any difference to him. He loved people for what they were, unconditionally. However, he wasn't the kind of person that someone could pursue any sort of friendship with; it usually had to be on his terms. He said that he was like a cat. When I come around - it's going to be often, but it's going to be when I want. ~Leah Reid

He was schizophrenic in a good way. I mean, he was always an actor. The last week he was here I was going to get lunch and he was coming out of this Mexican restaurant and he saw me walking down the street so he started prancing like a fairy. And I said "Jeff, someone's going to pull you over in a pickup truck and kill you, just like in the end of Easy Rider they're gonna shoot you off your bike." He thought that was hilarious. I felt really awful because I warned him about everything except the river. ~Andria Lisle

He died at the pinnacle of his career.
Jeff had everything in front of him...and it terrified him I think. Many times he would play under pseudonyms or false band names just to be able to play a club. He didn't want to be heckled, swooned over, or lied to. Jeff just wanted to play music. Grace might have been the purist Jeff Buckley album we could have ever been gifted had he lived.  

 The day I discovered Jeff, the truth that I would never hear that angelic voice live was thrust upon me by the checkout girl at the record store. Yes, I went out and bought every CD released with his name. He haunted me in my dreams...seriously. He lived under my bed but would chase me around the apartment, laughing. Ever since that first day, the very same day I heard Jeff, he has been a part of me. Ask people, I give them Grace as a gift. I tell them to listen to him. Turn down the lights, turn up the sound, and experience Jeff the way he wanted us to.

Jeff's song Mojo Pin, as he said, was a song about a dream. Mojo Pin, could be a reference to a drug, a needing of something or someone to be desired. The song paints a picture of a tortured lover who asks for their return otherwise seeking solace in Mojo Pin. When you ask anyone who gets Jeff, who understands the need to hear the voice, feel the soul, this song suffices. Jeff describes the torture he lays upon us ... Well it's you I've waited my life to see ... It's you I've searched so hard for...

**Quotes taken from the book Jeff Buckley A Wish For Song by Merri Cyr. **

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

How Jeff Buckley Introduced Me (Indirectly) To Hannah Williams And The Affirmations

The story of Hannah Williams seems to be written in lore from day one. Her father was a musically gifted minister, and her mother let her join the church choir at the age of 6. Hannah could read music before she could properly read words. Now she‟s an unstoppable force of incredible, once-in-a-lifetime talent.

At an Annual Jeff Buckley Tribute, I met a drummer from Bristol. Somewhere between Grace and Mojo Pin, he mentioned he was a drummer in a band. He then asked if I had ever heard of Hannah Williams. 

Europe had the opportunity to enjoy Hannah Williams since 2012. Hannah is a phenom who was "blessed by Sharon Jones" and remind me ever so much of Helen Terry. Backed on the 2016 album Late Nights and Heartbreak by the sensational Affirmations, the band is finding fame across Europe. The album is filled with classic soul, songs of heartbreak, and the title track has been sampled by Jay Z's album 4:44.

What? How come you've never heard of Hannah Williams and the Affirmations? I honestly don't know. They are not known well in the States - yet.  Having seen them for their performance this year at Brooklyn Bowl, the raw emotion and high caliber talent of the band will propel these talented musicians quickly into larger venues and hopefully more music festivals. Spread the word and let's hear more of Hannah Williams and the Affirmations on this side of the Atlantic.

You can check them out on tour in Europe this fall.

 Thank you to Jeff Buckley and to Jai for introducing me to the Affirmations and to Hannah Williams.

The Affirmations are:
James Graham - Organ, Piano and Wurlitzer
Adam Holgate – Guitar
Adam Newton - Bass Guitar
Jai Widdowson-Jones - Drums
Nicholas Malcolm - Trumpet
Liam Treasure - Trombone
John Pratt - Baritone Saxophone
Victoria Klewin, Hannah Nicholson and Hannah Williams- Backing Vocals.  

Saturday, October 20, 2018

The Big Dipper over the Ghost of the Columbia River

PMCarlson 2018

At the moment the Dave Matthews Band tickets went on sale for Labor Day weekend, it was fate. Upon also realizing that the trip would include a stop in a music mecca, and then realizing that two must see 90's classic TV show filming locations were located conveniently along the route between Seattle and The was going to be a priceless experience. 

The takeoff song was planned and this kicked off the journey to the Pacific Northwest.
It seemed appropriate to begin a trip to Seattle with Eddie Vedder. Between Jaws and MadMax and an appropriate grunge soundtrack, the flight was quick and soon the edges of the Cascades could be seen as the plane readied to land. 

Evergreens. Love. Welcome to Seattle.
PMCarlson 2018
Of course first destination was Pikes Place Market...what amazing choices of fresh and affordable food and flowers! And then the first Starbucks of course. We met a new friend at The Lodge, a wonderful and comfy cozy bar / restaurant / hotel on downtown. And then jet lag kicked in. 

Day two became a day to pay tribute to all things grunge. First stop was at The Museum of Pop Seattle (MoPOP for all you cook kids). First up was to see the new Pearl Jam exhibit. 
PMCarlson 2018
 While prepared to see a life size Andrew Wood statue ... seeing a life size statue of Mother Love Bone's Andrew Wood with arms outstretched as he rose out of the earth like Mount Olympus, covered appropriately in was a but overwhelming. 

The exhibit is a must see for any Pearl Jam fan. Eddie's notebooks, the tape Eddie made for Stone, the awards, pictures, just everything you could want to see and more - including a giant Ten-like Pearl Jam to take pictures in front of. 

The museum also pays homage to Nirvana and Jimi Hendrix, as well and hosts other rotating events. The Chris Cornell statue unveiling was moved from it's August date ... so another trip is needed to see it. 

Music history sightseeing makes you hungry so the adventure continued to Toulouse Petit, a wonderful culinary delight in the Queen Anne area of Seattle. Music history sightseeing also makes you thirsty and want to play pinball. Highly recommend this Rudy's-esque Coney Island-themed bar, Shorty's on the lower part of Queen Anne. Of course we met more friends there ... and played some pinball as well!
However, there was still music history to explore and no better place to continue than in picturesque Kerry Park. Gorgeous views of the skyline, but for music lovers, also the location of a famous Andrew Wood photo, arms wide open and embracing all things rock and fabulous. 
PMCarlson 2018
The  next stop on the grunge tour, no, not the bench outside of Kurt Cobain's house, but the statue that inspired a very famous song by Seattle's Soundgarden: The Black Sun statue in Volunteer Park (also home to Bruce and Brandon Lee's graves). 

That evening, our adventure took us to The Pacific Inn Pub located in Fremont, home of also, the Fremont Troll. Best fish and chips and fish tacos ... and not just because Anthony Bourdain ate there.
Conveniently located a ten minute walk away, was Highdive, a live music venue with a lot of funk andsoul. Every Thursday, a bunch of musicians from a bunch of bands join forces and become Marmalade. Must See!!! 

Day Three:  A visit to TV history on the way to The Gorge.
The morning started out the way you imagine a Seattle morning starting out with the cliche rain and fog. But for the drive ahead it was perfect. For this morning, I would visit the homes of two of my all time favorite TV shows: Twin Peaks and Northern Exposure.  Both are quirky but one is dark and the other funny. Both had an impact on me growing up. Have you ever visited the town of
your favorite TV show? Do it! If it exists, it is a priceless experience. And if you are a Twin Peaks fanatic, you must check out Twin Peaks Tours. He is a true fan that we met
along the way and will guide you through Agent Cooper's arrival to the final place Laura Palmer was seen by James Hurley. Snoqualmie and North Bend are quaint towns that are worth visiting even if you are not a fan. Don't forget to stop by Twede's Cafe to get a hot cup of coffee as black as the sky on a moonless night and damn fine slice of cherry pie. 

The drive from Seattle along route 90 is magical and if you're never seen real mountains before, you will be amazed. Next Stop: Cicely Alaska, real name Rosyln.Walking the streets where the characters actually filmed both shows was unforgettable and quite priceless. Walking into The Brick for a beer and strolling along the main street was a highlight. 

Day Three Continued: The Gorge
The landscape shifts drastically from green and rocky mountains to the desert. Close your eyes and you can make yourself believe you're in the Southwest. We made our home for the next three days in Ellensburg. A college town that also hosts a rodeo on Labor Day weekend.The anticipation was growing to see the venue. Touted as one of the best live music venues, the Gorge Amphitheater sits above the Columbia River, giving the concert goer a magnificent view before enjoying the show. And magnificent it truly is. 
PMCarlson 2018

It is easy to spot someone who has never been to The Gorge before ... there is much anticipation as you crest the hill past the vendors and merch table. And then you see it ... pictures cannot do it any justice. The land opens up before you and the music, caught by the natural amphitheater, is amplified as you try to get that grin off your face of how truly amazing it all really is. 

On to the show. This year's DMB shows included The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Moon Taxi, and Margo Price. And as the sun set, the Big Dipper could be seen sitting perfectly above the stage. 
Three nights and 63 Dave Matthews Band songs. Perfect weather. Perfect crowd. The experience was worth traveling thousands of miles. Seeing families, couples, friends, all gather to enjoy music under the stars and create memories seems to be the goal of shows at The Gorge. 

The drive back to Seattle via Route 2 was just as stunning and breathtaking as driving on Route 90 through Snoqualmie Pass. Slow, the desert scene shifted back to evergreens. But there was still one more music adventure to take in Seatttle.
 Easy Street Records in West Seattle is probably most famous for the Mother Love Bone Mural (re-painted a few years ago by Jeff Ament). You can go there for food and to shop for some great music. They also host many live events. And if you're in the neighborhood, I suggest you take a drive to Alki Beach. Totally not expecting this gorgeous beach oasis. BUT so worth visiting. 

Vacations are for relaxing I suppose, so a visit to one of Seattle's sensory deprivation floating tanks was in order. While there are several, Level Float Spa caught my eye because they also offer neuro spa, light and sensory therapy (and they also offer unlimited packages!). Not familiar with sensory deprivation floating? Check out this post for more information.

Of course we dined at Pikes Place Market but we wanted somewhere that the locals frequent. A nice dinner before heading back to reality. It was ironically named The Brooklyn.  Once we were inside, I understood that they were trying to replicate the 50's Brooklyn diner with a bit of Dick Tracy - like mystique and exaggeration. The food was amazing. 
Let me repeat this ... the food was amazing. No egg creams, but they do specialize in local fare full of flavor and originality.

It's always very sad leaving a new place that your soul totally is into, but alas, that time arrived. Two more stops before the airport. 
Dicks. Admittedly, very good for fast food. I also regret not getting the shake. But save room for your amazing meal and wonderful service in Georgetown's Nine Pound Hammer. We never would have found this place if it was not for our hotel concierge. Funky and out of the way makes Nine Pound Hammer a new favorite. 

The trip, over too fast. New friends. Old friends. Lots of music. Evergreens. An adventure with my best friend. Highly recommend Seattle.
PMCarlson 2018 - Kerry Park