Late Night Ramble

Pleased to report my latest single/video, “Late Night Ramble” premiered 11/22/2022 at The Big Takeover. The fine folks at the takeover have been generous and loyal supporters of my music and words, for longer than I can remember, which is a long time. Ramble is the eighth video to drop from ”The Day Deserved,” which is what happens when one releases an album during a pandemic (2021). Props to Pat Meusel for the creative and Wellesian single shot motif on this one. Thanks, as always, for listening.

Ybor City

Together WILL be a better world.

So, this past October, I went to my doc for my annual physical, after which I go into the little room to get my blood drawn. The clinician looks at me and says, “are you a musician or an artist?” Both, I said. “What art do you like?” All kinds, really, and I tell him I was just at the Dali in St. Pete. “Oh, yeah, I’m from Tampa. I’m a singer in a heavy metal band and played all over down there.” So, I told him I’d also explored Ybor City for the first time and he said that was the only part of Tampa he liked, he was Cuban. He asked about the chickens. Yes, they are still there. Small world, as they say.

Ybor City and its nexus, is a National Historic District; the community was founded in 1885, when Vicente Martinez-Ybor and other cigar manufacturers came to set up shop, along with thousands of immigrants from Cubs, Spain, and Italy. For the next half century, it was a cigar-making hotspot. Strolling about, the architecture reminded me a bit of New Orleans or Key West; there are lots of cigar shops still (although only one factory) and I ate black bean cakes and plantains at the Columbia, sitting at a bar that dates back to its 1905 opening. Chickens still ramble at will in the streets and though loud motorcycles roar and souvenir shops compete, it felt a bit timeless, still.

Also, on my list was visiting the Tampa Baseball Museum, just opened up in Al Lopez’ old boyhood home. For those who don’t know, Lopez was a catcher and manager, from Ybor City, who trailblazed his way into the Hall of Fame. In the days of less than creative non-PC nicknames, his moniker was “Senor”. Big baseball fans there, starting with semi-pro teams of Cuban immigrants, moving on to Negro Leagues, Women’s League, Minor Leagues (the Tampa Smokers!) and now the Rays. All told, 89 players from Tampa have made the bigs.

Again, best part of traveling around is just seeing where it takes you and then, sharing your discoveries. (Dateline October 22, 2022)

Melodicas and Gorillaz

My son Jude goes to college in St. Pete, so for an early birthday gift, I bought him tickets to Gorillaz in Orlando (10/21/2022) and I was chuffed in that he still wanted to go with his old man. He got into Gorillaz as a teenager as he started to explore music more independently, beyond what I’d turned him onto and while I was a little bit familiar with Damon Albarn, Blur, and this venture, Jude would share all the records and I listened through his ears, digging what I was hearing.

I think Gorillaz is a genius concept, it’s like Plastic Ono Band or Mountain Goats, where it’s pretty much Damon’s show, but the framework allows for all sorts of guest artists (Elton, Bobby Womack, Lou Reed, De La Soul, Mick Jones of the Clash), and the expansive backing band continually morphs as a result, taking bows as applicable, while keeping it cohesive. The animation by Jamie Hewitt also allows kids a gateway to the music band – in front of us was a 12 or 13 year old girl with her parents, absolutely over the top into it. Her first concert, I bet, which was great to see. I also think Albarn should get more props for completely switching gears stylistically, in a sort of Dylan or Bowie-esque way Highlights for me – “Up on Melancholy Hill” (so Kinks-like), “Momentary Bliss (i.e. “We Can Do Much Better than That”, “Clint Eastwood” (of course) and “O Green World” (really nice shifts, musically).

Since this is a version of social media, I have to slide in a humble brag or me-connection, so let me say this was the second time this year I’ve seen someone play melodica onstage (the other being Belle and Sebastian). I play melodica on a track or two on every record I’ve done for YEARS, so you know, this makes me feel vindicated.

Leading Nowhere

Working on a new book, poems that are tied together by their impetus or inspiration, although not necessarily in the way one would typically think.  Don’t want to give too much away until it comes together, but this piece, “Leading Nowhere,” is a new one that could be among the selections.  It was inspired by a visit to an abandoned road, tucked away in the North Carolina woods. Enjoy.

Road to Nowhere, NC
Have Less

Leading Nowhere
In the middle of a forest
Sits a large concrete tunnel
Meant to take a highway
Like a woman takes her man
With abandonment and wonder
Possibility and ease
Reckless love, unfinished
Birds fly around the opening
Turkeys rustle at the edges
But closer in, all darkness
Graffiti and perspective
Free hugs. Have less.
Someone drew a penis
Someone drew the flag
Dissonance unsettled
City in the country, looking for
Shopping carts filled with cans
Sleeping bags and bodies
Huddled in the darkness
Because that’s what I am used to
In the city that I live. Instead
Drip drip drip. Water
Falling from a fissure
In the solitary ceiling
Leading up to heaven
Like a sewer of the mind
Another deserted road
Lost and leading nowhere

It is what it is what it is…

Best part of posting in the online world? For me, sharing perspective, followed by giving shout-outs to friends and people I admire, to spread the word. In that regard, here’s a snap and a nod to Jonathan Richman (w/Tommy Larkins) from their recent gig at the Blue Room in Nashville. People were insanely polite and only pulled out the phones at the very end.

Anyways, Jonathan was fantastic, per usual, a true genius at work. Opened with one of my faves, “I Was Dancing in the Lesbian Bar” and played two of my other faves, “That Summer Feeling” and “When We Refuse to Suffer”. Lots of great new material from his new album, “Want to Visit my Inner House,” as well. And last but not least, the epic, “Everybody Loves Dolly”, appropo for the Music City.

Every time I see him, live, it’s like witnessing a master class in how to command an audience. Just Jonathan on a nylon stringed acoustic, miked, with hardly any effects, while Tommy keeps the beat on a conga drum. And yet, he rocks, swings, makes people laugh and makes people think, with the unique quality to be serious and silly at the same time in his songs and his presence. Deceptively simple, you don’t see the wires. Always a treat, always joyful, the night ending with a sold-out house following him to the land of zen, singing “it is what it is what it is…cold pizza.”