Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Eve birthday grooves, simple and complex

It's gonna be a night for partying, no doubt about that.  It's not every day that you usher in a new year.  We're not just talking nationwide here, we're talking a worldwide celebration.

Goodbye 2012!  Hello 2013!

I'm content to bring in the new year in a relatively quiet way -- spent with family members at home eating chips and dip, maybe watching a movie or two, playing some games and listening to some music, tuning in to a rockin' New Year's Eve show on television as it gets closer to the stroke of midnight before giving my lovely wife the first kiss of a new year and hugging the kids.

That's how it'll be this year.  But two of our kids are away from home this time, and our oldest is getting ready for a big life adventure of his own to start his year, living out a dream.  It's going to be a very quiet, very simple New Year's celebration at home for us this year.

But I know exactly where there's going to be one whale of a party today.  I know because I was at one just like it at this same time last year.  It's not your typical New Year's Eve party.  There's a birthday celebration that goes along with it.  It's a birthday celebration for a musician, a "brother" of mine who has a whole lot of good musician friends to play with.  It's filled with good food, good drinks, good friends, family, and plenty of good jamming.

My "brother" is a musician who appreciates a solid groove, whether it's soul or rock or blues or jazz or fusion or something even more progressive.  It can be a groove that's funky, simple or more complex.  But there's one thing that it has to be more than anything else:  the groove has to be SOLID!

My "brother" and I have spent many hours listening to those grooves together, mostly in our younger years.  That's how it was last year at this time too.  While I was being lazy as I tried to kick a nasty cold, he was busy tooling around his house -- setting up microphone stands, mics, cables, guitar stands, guitars, a drum kit, amps, a laptop computer to record it all -- and the music we listened to back in our younger days was playing on the stereo while he was working away.  It was music that brought smiles to our faces, even all these years later.  Just like it used to be.

When his numerous other friends arrived for the party toward late afternoon and the live music started playing, it was good.  It was very good.  It lasted for hours, pretty much non-stop until the clock ticked midnight and 2012 arrived.

It was all about the groove.  It will be that way again this time around, I'm sure.

Happy birthday, "bro!"  Happy New Year, y'all!

Enjoy the grooves!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Kickstarter campaign continues on CNN

Lester Chambers' campaign to raise funds to record a new album eclipsed its goal of $39,000 by Christmas Eve, and the campaign won't even be over until January 9.

It was eclipsed thanks in large part to an article on

The CNN interview projected on a wall.  (Photo courtesy Dylan Chambers)
That made for a very nice Christmas gift for Lester and those close to him.

The day after Christmas, an early New Year's celebration started taking shape.  That's because Lester and his son Dylan got up early for a limousine ride to a San Francisco area television studio for a live, cross-country interview on CNN.

This is how a Kickstarter project to raise money for new music can get exposure.  It's good for musicians everywhere, and it's good for the fans.  A win-win proposition.

Welcome to the modern world of recording music!

Here's an excerpt from Lester and Dylan's live interview from Wednesday morning.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Lester Chambers makes the front page, goal reached

Lester Chambers and Alexis Ohanian have reached a goal in a fundraising pledge drive that was launched less than two weeks ago in order for Lester and his band of Bay Area musicians, The Mud Stompers, to record a new album.

The goal was $39,000 to at least cover minimum expenses by January 9.  They eclipsed that goal Monday afternoon.  By Monday evening, Christmas Eve, the campaign had raised over $43,000.  It doesn't have to stop there.

It helped to get an early Christmas present via a front page article on  Click on the link below to read it yourself.  The word is spreading.  On Web, "Time Has Come" for '60s singer

Dylan and Lester Chambers

One song that gives me goosebumps every time

There is one song out there that gives me goosebumps every time I hear it, and I've heard it countless times.  It's not something that we hear on a regular basis until this time of the year, but to my ears it's one of the most beautiful songs ever written.

The notes and words that come from the chorus alone are enough to bring a lump to my throat.  I can be a softie that way.

It's a song that was composed by Adolphe Adam in 1847 to the French poem "Minuit, chr├ętiens" (Midnight, Christians) by Placide Cappeau (1808–1877).  It's seen a few different versions, but my favorite is the one created by Unitarian minister John Sullivan Dwight, editor of Dwight's Journal of Music, a singing edition based on Cappeau's French text in 1855.

It goes like this ...

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
'Til He appear'd and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born;
O night divine, O night, O night Divine.
Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here come the wise men from Orient land.
The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friend.
He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King, Before Him lowly bend!
Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever,
His power and glory evermore proclaim.
His power and glory evermore proclaim.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Reaching "The End"

Well, here it is, 2:30 p.m. Mountain Time on Friday, December 21, 2012 ... and the hype of the day is the Mayan calendar, and "the end."  And I'm still here, so far.

Come on, you knew it had to happen.  We're a civilization that loves hype.  We thrive on it.  Even when it involves "the end of the world."

We have fun with it.  When it comes to people like me -- music junkies like me -- we find music to go along with it.

It's all so predictable.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The beauty that can come from "Landfill Harmonic"

Is it possible to make beautiful music from instruments made out of items found at a landfill?  The documentary "Landfill Harmonic" could answer that in a marvelous way.

Photo courtesy "Landfill Harmonic"
This is a project that was brought to my ettention by an old high school friend a few days ago.  I'd never heard of it until then, but once I watched a piece of it, I was amazed.

The project's Facebook page tells more of the story ...

Landfill Harmonic is an upcoming feature-length documentary about a remarkable musical orchestra in Paraguay, where the musicians play instruments made from trash.
Cateura, Paraguay is a town essentially built on top of a landfill. Garbage collectors browse the trash for sellable goods, and children are often at risk of getting involved with drugs and gangs. When orchestra director Szaran and music teacher Fabio set up a music program for the kids of Cateura, they soon have more students than they have instruments.

That changed when Szaran and Fabio were brought something they had never seen before: a violin made out of garbage. Today, there’s an entire orchestra of assembled instruments, now called The Recycled Orchestra.

Our film shows how trash and recycled materials can be transformed into beautiful sounding musical instruments, but more importantly, it brings witness to the transformation of precious human beings.

Who couldn't get behind a project like that?

Monday, December 17, 2012

"Old school" meets "new school," part 2

Lester Chambers and Alexis Ohanian
I wrote here last week about co-founder Alexis Ohanian and soul/rock/blues/gospel music legend Lester Chambers teaming up on Kickstarter (at to launch a public funding campaign so Lester and his current group, The Mud Stompers, can record a new album in the coming months, and so Lester can "pay it forward" by giving money back to the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund charity with part of the proceeds from his new album going to Sweet Relief through Ohanian's Breadpig site.

Tomorrow will mark a full week since Lester and Alexis' Kickstarter campaign was launched, and the goal of reaching $39,000 just to cover recording expenses by January 9 is under one-fourth of the way there as of this writing.

It's a busy time of the year, that's for sure.  One thing to consider during this time of giving might be to look at this campaign as a way of sharing a special gift for friends or loved ones in a variety of ways through the investment in/purchase of new music that could be given to music fans through the items that are available by pledging at the various levels:  a digital copy of the new album for a pledge of $10 or more; a limited edition CD and more for a pledge of at least $20; all of these items plus a specially designed shirt or an autographed copy of the new CD ... it just gets better.

And don't think Lester and The Mud Stompers aren't ready to get this thing going.  Here's a nearly half-hour taste of an appearance they made on a Bay Area public television program in the last few months.

Friday, December 14, 2012

When the music comes alive: Teach your children well

In light of what's happened today in Newtown, Connecticut, where 26 people -- including 20 children -- were gunned down in a mass shooting, only one song comes to my mind now.  Only one.

Teach your children well.

You who are on the road
Must have a code that you can live by
And so become yourself
Because the past is just a good bye.

Teach your children well,
Their father's hell did slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picked, the one you'll know by.

Don't you ever ask them why, if they told you, you would cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.

And you, of tender years,
Can't know the fears that your elders grew by,
And so please help them with your youth,
They seek the truth before they can die.

(Counter Melody To Above Verse:)
Can you hear and do you care and
Cant you see we must be free to
Teach your children what you believe in.
Make a world that we can live in.

Teach your parents well,
Their children's hell will slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picked, the one you'll know by.

Don't you ever ask them why, if they told you, you would cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

When the music comes alive: The 12-12-12 concert

I wasn't able to catch the 12-12-12 concert for Hurricane Sandy relief Wednesday night as it was happening, but a lot of my friends on Facebook were talking about it.

They were talking about Kanye West's skirt.  For some reason, I wasn't sorry that I missed that.  But there was other Facebook chatter going on to make me wish that I could have seen it.

That's where the beauty of the internet shines through.  That's where there's a good chance I'll be able to find something from the benefit concert I'm bound to enjoy.  Like seeing the surviving members of Nirvana getting together again, and having Paul McCartney lead the way with Dave Grohl pounding the snot out of those drums.

Yeah, stuff like that can bring a smile to my face.

It's times like the 12-12-12 concert when the music can truly come alive.  And with the 12-12-12 concert, it was all for a good cause.  That's the beauty.

A Reddit "Ask Me Anything" session with Lester Chambers

Would you like to see and maybe be a part of a fascinating "Q&A" session with blues/soul/rock/gospel music great Lester Chambers on

The stories Lester tells in this "Ask Me Anything (AMA)" session on Reddit today are like a trip through music history.  To see it all, click on the link below or copy and paste the address

I am Lester Chambers:  AMA on

Lester Chambers and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

When the music comes alive: Ravi Shankar

The music world is in mourning.  Sitar maestro Ravi Shankar -- father of pianist/vocalist Norah Jones -- died Tuesday, December 11, at the age of 92.

He collaborated with some musical greats -- George Harrison, violinist Yehudi Menuhin, saxophonist John Coltrane, composer Phillip Glass and conductor Andre Previn.  That's what helped him to bridge the gap between East and West.  Shankar was a traditionalist in Indian classical music, and those musicians from the West -- Harrison in particular -- were crucial to helping Panditji build that bridge.

Between appearances in legendary events like Woodstock, Monterey Pop, and Harrison's concerts, his music in the film "Gandhi" and any other time he showed his mastery of one of the world's most unique instruments -- whether it was live or recorded in a studio -- Shankar's status as a musical legend has been assured for years.

"Old school" meets "new school" in music world

It's rare that I have or will ever "cross channels" between this blog and my other personal blog, but in this case I can't resist because it does involve music, and it involves my musical friend Lester Chambers.

Lester Chambers and Alexis Ohanian
Lester -- a part of the iconic 1960s and early '70s rock/soul/psychedelic/gospel group The Chambers Brothers -- is part of an impressive drive to get some new music of his out there.  It's even more impressive to know that internet entrepreneur Alexis Ohanian, a co-founder of the social news and entertainment website Reddit and an activist who played a key role in stopping SOPA legislation in Congress earlier this year, is helping to back up Lester's effort.

They're doing it by kicking off a fundraising drive through the Kickstarter public funding platform online.  The effort was launched Tuesday morning.

New music has already been recorded by Lester and his group The Mud Stompers.  The funding is designed to cover the expenses of recording a new album by Lester and The Mud Stompers, featuring members of the legendary Tower of Power horns and others.  Part of the proceeds from the new album will go toward the non-profit charity Sweet Relief Musicians Fund, which has helped Lester himself through the years.

Organizers are hoping to raise at least $39,000 in order to record the album between now and January 9.

For more information, click on the link below to my article at the blog A View From The Middle (Class).

Alexis Ohanian:  Lester Chambers' "time has come"

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

When the music comes alive: At Folsom Prison

There are a lot of good, live country music albums.  But are there any out there that could possibly top Johnny Cash's "At Folsom Prison" from his January 13, 1968, show at California's Folsom State Prison?

If there are, I'd like to know about them.

Columbia Records didn't see fit to invest much money into the project, which was a groundbreaking effort at the time.  But it turned into a hit, reaching the top of the country chart and the top 15 on the national album chart.  All these years later, it's gone triple platinum.

It was an album that turned Cash's career around.  With June Carter, Carl Perkins and the Statler Brothers along to back him up -- and with that Johnny Cash bite -- it was hard to go wrong with this one.

Monday, December 10, 2012

When the music comes alive: Peter Frampton

I was looking through a list of "Rolling Stone's Top 25 Best Live Albums of All Time," and with any list like that there's sure to be something that music fans disagree with or see missing, and they're sure to say something about it.

That was how it was with this particular list.  Oh, there were some great ones in the list.  What was interesting was how many comments there were about one particular album that didn't make it.

"Where’s Frampton? Are you kidding? You can’t leave him off, he was too much a part of our times ..."

" ... where the HELL is frampton comes alive?"

"Frampton Comes Alive = #1"

Yeah, it goes like that.

It's pretty much impossible to please everyone in subjective things like this, and many  people could and would argue that -- for various reasons -- there are better live albums than Peter Frampton's "Frampton Comes Alive."

But it's hard to argue with the "popular vote," and Frampton's breakthrough solo live album (after a few less-than-successful studio recordings coming on the heels of his time with the band Humble Pie) was huge in terms of sales and time spent on the charts:  the album spent 10 weeks at the top of the Billboard charts; it was the best-selling album of 1976, selling over 6 million copies in the U.S. and became one of the best-selling live albums to date; it was voted "album of the year" in the 1976 Rolling Stone readers poll; it stayed on the chart for 97 weeks and was still #14 on Billboard's 1977 year-end album chart.

It was an album that turned Frampton into a household name, made him a movie star, and even today you never know when you might find Frampton showing up in a television commercial.

And it all started with "Frampton Comes Alive."

Friday, December 7, 2012

Kickin' Tail and Takin' Names Week: Bad to the Bone

This is a week for music so powerful, it has a kind of force that can knock you out just thinking about it.  It's relentless.  It can stick with you for a lifetime.

And here's where this week of "kickin' tail" was inspired.  It came to me last Sunday, as I was driving that morning to do a few hours' worth of work.  I was just in one of "those moods," with my beat up pair of cowboy boots on, and as I was finding a radio station to listen to as I was driving my pickup truck, I came across the familiar strains of a scorching guitar.

My favorite classic rock station was doing one of its "weekend blocks" of songs by artists, and I came across George Thorogood and The Destroyers doing "Bad To the Bone," along with a couple more tunes from them.

I was happy to come across that.  It set the tone for my whole week.

So, who do you love?  For me this week, it's been those "tail kickers."

And it all started for me with George and The Destroyers.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Kickin' Tail and Takin' Names Week: Frank Zappa

This is a week for music so powerful, it has a kind of force that can knock you out just thinking about it.  It's relentless.  It can stick with you for a lifetime.

In the world of progressive rock, there's one name that comes to my mind that fits the mold of a "tail kicker."  That would be Frank Zappa.

He was always one to speak his mind and not hold back, whether it was through his recorded music, in a live performance, in an interview, or appearing in front of a Senate committee.  Zappa saw the world the way it is, warts and all, and he described it the way he saw it.

Frank could "kick tail" through his lyrics or just strapping on a guitar and letting it all hang out.  He wrote music that was insanely challenging, and could kick the tails of the best players on their particular instruments.

He was one of a kind.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Rest in peace, Dave Brubeck

A large piece of classic jazz music history is gone now.  Pianist and legendary quartet leader Dave Brubeck died today of heart failure, one day short of his 92nd birthday.

Brubeck wrote some jazz classics such as "The Duke" and "In Your Own Sweet Way."  But it was a song written by his saxophonist Paul Desmond, "Take Five," that the Dave Brubeck Quartet will be remembered for by most.  And the album that song came from, "Take Five," has gone into the history books as one of the great jazz albums ever recorded.

Brubeck's style, his playfulness with time signatures, and his mere presence will be missed by many.

Dave Brubeck's biography on Wikipedia

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Kickin' Tail and Takin' Names Week: Steve Earle

This is a week for music so powerful, it has a kind of force that can knock you out just thinking about it.  It's relentless.  It can stick with you for a lifetime.

There've been many country music songs and artists who've fit that description, and the lives some of those musicians have led have fit that mold.  Steve Earle fits the mold pretty easily.  He's been married several times, served some time behind bars, and when it comes to being outspoken ... well, Steve Earle isn't one to mince words.  He'll tell you what's on his mind, in great detail.  He believes what he says, says what he believes.

That makes for quite the activist.

Steve Earle's songs reflect that attitude of his.  Whether it's doing someone else's songs, like The Chambers Brothers' powerful "Time Has Come Today," or one of his own (my favorite of his being "Copperhead Road"), it's music that has quite a bite to it.

Kind of like the bite of a copperhead.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Kickin' Tail and Takin' Names Week: The mighty Zep

This is a week for music so powerful, it has a kind of force that can knock you out just thinking about it.  It's relentless.  It can stick with you for a lifetime.

To start it off, I'll turn to a band that's been on a "high" lately and has never really faded away in the hearts, minds, and ears of so many classic rock fans even though it ceased to exist as a full-blown group with the death of its "heartbeat" -- drummer John Bonham -- in 1980.

John Paul Jones, Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Bonham
Of course, I'm talking about that force of nature known as Led Zeppelin.

It's not every band that can get together for a huge one-off concert at London's O2 Arena the way Zep did in December 2007, and have the official film of the event -- Celebration Day -- become so highly anticipated when it appeared in theaters and on home video nearly five years later.  They may have been missing John Bonham's powerful drums, but not by an awful lot.  John's son Jason makes for a very worthy fill-in for his father.

And, let's be "blunt" here.  Back in the late '60s, when the Zep was launched, how many people would have predicted that Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, and John Paul Jones -- the surviving members -- would be standing in the finest attire, looking all spiffed up, to receive the Kennedy Center Honors, as they did on Sunday?  The celebration continued the following Monday night with an interview on The Late Show with David Letterman.

It's all most definitely a "high" for a bunch of rowdies who've been rocking people's worlds for years.  It is cause to celebrate.

Bobby Whitlock and CoCo Carmel play live on web Friday

Legendary musician and songwriter Bobby Whitlock of Delaney & Bonnie and Friends and Derek and the Dominos fame and his wife and musical partner CoCo Carmel will be "broadcast" live worldwide this Friday, December 7, at 7 p.m. Central time on in their first-ever appearance on that website, it was announced today.

For tickets to the 30-minute show, click on the link below.

Bobby Whitlock and CoCo Carmel Live on StageIt, Friday, December 7, 7 p.m. Central Time

For more information on how works, click here.

Bobby Whitlock is most notably known for being a member of Derek and the Dominos, also as co-writer with Eric Clapton of many songs from the album "Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs."  Bobby has played with George Harrison and also appeared on George's "All Things Must Pass" album.  He has been featured on many albums, including The Rolling Stones' "Exile on Mainstreet," Buddy Guy's "Sweet Tea," Dr. John's "Sun Moon and Stars" and many more. In recent years, he married CoCo Carmel Whitlock (singer/writer/musician/producer/engineer).

CoCo was married to Delaney Bramlett, whose songs and records she engineered and co-produced including her first solo cd entitled "First Fruit," the CD "Sounds From Home" and countless songs over a 13-year period.  Bobby and CoCo have released eight records in total. They recently did a short tour in India and had a traditional Hindu wedding. Their ninth release together is scheduled to be released in 2013, called "India Number 9" in honor of the people and music they experienced while there.  CoCo is also putting the final touches on a live cd recorded in Austin to be released in 2013.