Thursday, May 31, 2012

Bob Dylan in shades at the White House

Bob Dylan was at the White House on Tuesday receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In true Bob fashion, he showed up for the ceremony in his dark glasses. Bob sporting shades at the White House. That is classic. Hello Mr. President, good to be here. Sorry you can’t see my eyes.

For those too young to remember, Bob Dylan invented cool. Before Bob there were a few cool cats like Frank Sinatra, James Dean and Marlon Brando. In the 60's, Bob took a bit from each of them and then took cool to a whole different level.

While his music was setting the folk world on its ear, he was also starting fashion and style trends. He did it without the help of YouTube, Twitter, Facebook or social media sites. His influence on our culture was enormous.

Here he is on the cover of Highway 61 Revisited:

Here is that signature dot shirt on the Tour 66:

And don’t forget the houndstooth check suit from the same tour:

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

On tour with Sons of Fathers

What is a 60 year old man doing out on tour with a rock and roll band? That's a good question. The answer is: having a hell of a good time, hearing some incredible music and watching history in the making.

It's no secret that I am very high on a new band called Sons of Fathers. Since last fall when I first heard their debut album, I have been spreading the word about this very talented group. In spite of my enthusiasm for the band, I had only been to one live show until recently.

 Last week with a few days to kill, I decided to sign on to the tour as photographer, unpaid roadie and life coach. I began with a show in Washington DC at the Hill Country BBQ. Can't say much about the food at that joint, but the room was good and the show was excellent. The after party in the wine cellar at the Mansion on O was even better. BobCat Numero Uno is still talking about it.

The unique sound of Sons of Fathers comes from the blended vocals of Paul Cauthen and David Beck. On the record, this sound sets them apart from anything being played on the radio today. Seeing them live is even better. On stage, the visual combination of Cauthen's inspired guitar work and Beck's love dance with his upright bass is captivating. When you add the rest of the band to the sound, you have something that is about to explode. Listen to this song from the DC show which will be their next single:

From DC, the tour moved on to Asbury Park, NJ. With visions of Bruce in my head, I walked the boardwalk and admired the sights. What a funky, interesting old town.

 The band played at The Saint which is nice old venue. Once again Paul and David delivered the goods, but that night I was also struck by the playing of the band. Dees was channeling his best Levon on the drum kit and the addition of Bryan Mammel on keyboards gave the band a fatter live sound. Considering that Bryan just joined the band on this tour, I can't wait to hear him once he really gets settled in.

Another recent addition to the band is Tony Browne. His lead and slide guitar adds punch and depth to the SOF sound. His playing and contribution is growing nightly. I hear a young Jimmy Page in the making.

Here is another song from the upcoming album Big Diamond Waltz recorded at The Saint:

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Kentucky Derby, Animal Kingdom, Larry Redmon and Mint Juleps

 The first Saturday in May is the best day of the year. It is better than Christmas, birthday, golf weekend or the first day of quail season. It is even better than hearing the Sons of Fathers live. Sorry guys.  If you have to ask what happens on the first Saturday in May.....hit delete now.

 Derby 2011 was especially exciting for me since I was all over Animal Kingdom who was the long shot winner. I am studying hard trying to catch lightning in a bottle two years in a row, but I'm not counting on it. Nevertheless, it is going to be a great weekend. Read below what I wrote in a post on Derby a few years back. Good luck. I hope you pick the winner.

The Kentucky Derby is one of the premier sporting event in the world. For 135 years, the race has showcased top equine athletes at Churchill Downs, which is one of the great race tracks in the country. In addition to the horse racing, the Derby is a great spectacle of people watching. On Saturday, over 100,000 people from all walks of life will be at the track. There will be movie stars, rock stars, racing fans, show ponies and drunken college kids in the infield who might not even watch the race. There is a very wide range of fashion on display at the event.

I was lucky to be introduced to Derby in 1983 by a true gentleman and good friend from Louisville, Bill Blodgett. It was a great start on a lifetime of Derby experiences, because Bill has a true love for the Derby and everything that goes with it. Bill had access to a great box and the best parties in Louisville. He showed me the ropes of Derby, included how to "sweeten" a mint julep from a hip flask of bourbon. 30 years later, I am looking forward to seeing him at the track on Saturday.

In 1987, I joined the Walmac Farm Derby posse. Since this group is based in Lexington, the Derby schedule is slightly different. It might seem strange to do the Derby from another city (Check with Perry S on this), but it does open up some other social events. When the Madden Party was still in existence, it was the only way to go. I could tell you more about the Madden Party, but this is a family blog. Seriously, it was a huge charity party on the night before Derby every year. Held at Hamburg Place Farm, the party was an extravagant event that included interesting costumes and usually some kind of nudity. Many lasting friendships were made under those big tents.

Part of our Derby routine is going to see Larry Redmon play on Thursday night. I have seen Larry at many places over the years, but recently he has been playing at his own club called Redmon's in downtown Lexington. If you have never heard Larry, you are missing a great live act.

Before a crowd of rowdy college kids with only an acoustic guitar, he holds court. Drawing on a lifetime in the Bluegrass and a love of real country music, he puts together a set that includes original songs like Garth Brooks Ain't Playing Here Tonight, Last Kiss, Another Blue Grass Morning, and Propane. The later is my personal favorite. Sung to the tune of Cocaine, it is a comic tale of white trash country life that includes the memorable lines: When your hands are hot/And your cousin's not/Propane. Redmon's show is a celebration of the music of the American South and it is damn good. He plays real country music and calls bullsh*t on what Nashville is putting out these days.

In the live show, Larry also covers a number of classic songs by John Prine, Chuck Berry, John Fogerty, Steve Earle and David Allan Coe. Every night ends with the unfurling of the confederate flag and a rousing version of Dixie that morphs into Sweet Home Alabama. I hope to see you there on Thursday night.

Being a wine and vodka drinker, I don't drink bourbon during the rest of the year. I guess I am scared if I drink any of that dirty water, I might end up on the ground or dancing that old Saratoga no-step. Mint juleps at the Derby are a different thing. I don't know what they put in those drinks, but they taste good and do enhance the whole Derby experience. I am looking forward to have more than one this weekend.