Dec 112014

In honor of one of my favorite Phillies of all time, who’s been traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers, I’m reviving this Throwback Thursday post from October 2009 on The Main Stage. I’m happy to report that all is well with Mom.

This one goes out to the Phillies’ Jimmy Rollins and my Mom. Jimmy wrapped up maybe the most amazing game I’ve seen in person. In last year’s Phils-Brewers NLDS I saw Brett Myers draw a 32-pitch walk off CC Sabathia followed by, a few batters later, a Shane Victorino grand slam. But there was still a lot of baseball left to play. Nevertheless, a pure lovefest broke out that seemed to follow the typically cranky town of Philadelphia through the 2008 playoffs.

Tonight’s two-out, two-run gapper in the bottom of the 9th by “midget” J-Roll off giant (no quotes needed) Dodgers’ closer Jonathan Broxton was IT, the end of a game that most teams have no business winning at this time of the year. Regardless of what happens the rest of this season, this Phils team isn’t most teams. I was there with my oldest friend, and he was there in relief of my Mom. We were supposed to attend this game together, but she’s going through some tough times at the moment and couldn’t make it.
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Jul 102014

As the eyes of the baseball world prepare to gaze on Minneapolis and Target Field next week, why not watch this mini-doc on Minnesota music to get in the mood?

They are doing a nice job of keeping “the stars” on First Avenue nice and fresh, although I think the gal in Babes in Toyland is way off on the timing of when they started painting them on the side of the club.

Apr 062014

Sounds of the hall in roughly 33 1/3 minutes!

In addition to the hits and singles in tonight’s episode you will hear a few dingers, bloopers, dead quails, and a ground ball with eyes.

Baseball 2

[Note: You can add Saturday Night Shut-In episodes to your iTunes by clicking here. The Rock Town Hall feed will enable you to easily download Saturday Night Shut-In episodes to your digital music player.]

Playlist after jump

Jul 162013


When I think of all the musicians whose contributions to culture I don’t like in the slightest despite my suspicion that they’re probably good eggs if I got to know them, Huey Lewis tops the list. I don’t like a single song by his in the slightest. It’s not that I dislike many of of his songs to the degree that I dislike the songs of, say Journey or Billy Joel. I just don’t like his music—not a thing about it, not even the fact that he works in a meat-and-potatoes stylistic range that is a healthy part of my diet. Not even the fact that Elvis Costello used members of Lewis’ pub rock band, Clover, on My Aim Is True helps me appreciate the career of Huey Lewis. Perhaps John Mellencamp is the only artist working in my basic food groups who comes close to boring me as much.

Music aside, there’s one thing I appreciate about the public works of Huey Lewis, one thing that he’s done that actually takes more talent than simply being himself, or a close facsimile thereof: taking a piss in Robert Altman‘s Short Cuts. Lewis showed promise as an actor. Wasn’t he in a movie with Gwyneth Paltrow about 10 years ago? I was tempted to see it for his acting, but it looked like he was going to sing in it, so I didn’t bother.

Finally, there’s a second thing I can enjoy about Huey Lewis, although admittedly this is more a result of his good egg tendency: his opinions on pre-recorded music at sporting events. Read about them here (thanks to Tvox for passing this along). Despite getting some kicks over players’ walk-up music, I think Lewis is right. Let the sounds of the game itself, including the fans, reign. Give the real organ player some! Suit up the marching bands! Let’s hear it for dead air!

May 032013
Hunkering down at U. Penn's Spring Fling, circa 1986.

Hunkering down at U. Penn’s Spring Fling, circa 1986.

I don’t know about where you live, but where I live, in the Philadelphia area, we are enjoying the most glorious, Classic Spring season in recent memory. It’s been sunny most days with just enough rain a few nights a week to keep the budding vegetation satisfied. The temperatures have been in the 60s, which I’ll take at this time of year. Some people, like my wife, wish we could get a month-long stretch of weather in the mid-70s, but I think that’s asking for too much. Often, at this time of year, we’re slogging through a full week of rain and temperatures still in the high 40s. My nearly half-century experience in this area tells me that once the thermometer hits 75º F in Philadelphia for 2 or 3 days in a row that a quick spike to 90º F with stifling humidity is just around the corner.

I’ve been so carried by the weather this April and the first few days of May that I’ve found myself having flashbacks to carefree spring days of my youth. As with many of my memories, a soundtrack is quickly associated. Days like this remind me of rushing from school or work to meet up with friends and start hitting the bong and/or the $6 case of beer. Freshman year at a college outside Chicago, during a week of just this sort of weather, I recall a friend and I placing stereo speakers on the windowsill of my dorm room and blasting the soundtrack from Apocalypse Now, a double-album set composed of the most of the movie’s dialog and sound effects, for passerby to hear: “Saigon…shit!”

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Apr 062013
Sounds of the Hall in roughly 33 1/3 minutes!

Sounds of the Hall in roughly 33 1/3 minutes!

Spring comes in many forms. Sometimes as a day in March, perhaps it’s Easter or maybe it’s a robin in the backyard. I’m sure that a majority of those who frequent the Hall equate Opening Day as the true sign that spring has sprung. The weather has little to do with it. I’ve seen a snow around these parts on Opening Day. At least we know that warmer days are ahead. And despite what Sports Illustrated will have you believe any team has a shot at October glory. So enjoy the season…

Baseball SNSI – April 6, 2013

[Note: You can add Saturday Night Shut-In episodes to your iTunes by clicking here. The Rock Town Hall feed will enable you to easily download Saturday Night Shut-In episodes to your digital music player.]

Dock ellis

Padres knew the no-no ball


Million dollar arm


Mar 192013
Phil and Don? No, Phil and Joe.

Phil and Don? No, Phil and Joe.

So much sad and disheartening news floating around on my longer-than-usual evening browse through Facebook tonight: Bobbie Smith of The Spinners died. I grew up loving that band. Just this evening, in fact, while driving home from a long client presentation through a wintry mix on the New Jersey Turnpike, one of their songs came on the radio. That’s right, I was listening to sports-talk radio, got sick of hearing people talk about stinking college kids wearing t-shirts under their tank tops and their basketball tournament, which dudes who barely graduated from high school foam at the mouth over in hopes of winning $200 in an office pool. I hate the sight of college basketball players wearing of a t-shirt under a tank top. It’s not right. It’s sad. It’s like watching fat kids in the pool with a t-shirt sticking to their fat rolls. Who are they kidding? You’re playing basketball, kid: wear a tank top! (College football players don’t know how to wear their uniforms either, with their exposed calves…It’s even extended to the NFL, with the whole sleeveless Look. Come on, man, I want to watch big men pound each other as much as the next guy, but I don’t want to see a 360-pound lineman’s fat rolls being squeezed out from his armpits.) Anyhow, I got sick of the March Madness talk and flipped through the couple of music stations I have saved. The Spinners played, and I sang along to whatever old Spinners tune it was the oldies station was playing. (Next they played “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” and I bailed. That’s not an “oldie!” That’s the musical equivalent of a t-shirt under a tank top.)

I also read that a guy named Jason Molina died. The name rang a bell. At first I thought he was one of those bearded, mediocre folk-rock dudes who manage to appear on The Tonight Show and other major outlets despite seeming to have generated no organic buzz. Like that Ray Montaigne (sp?) guy. His music’s all right, but you’re telling me there aren’t 2 bearded, mediocre folk-rock dudes in any music scene who couldn’t draw the same amount of people to a club as him? What do I know? Upon further investigation I was reminded that Molina was the man behind Songs:Ohia, an actually good folky band I first learned about through a contribution to a tribute album on which my band appeared. I thought their contribution was the strongest of the batch. This story was especially sad, sadder than the fat kid jumping into the pool in his sopping wet, skin-tight t-shirt. Molina was 39 or so. His body gave out from drinking.

In contrast to these stories I took a modicum of delight in news that Michelle Shocked spouted off on some hateful anti-gay rant at a recent show in San Francisco, I believe. She declared that “God hates fags,” or something like that, and expressed a fear of gay marriage. Much of her audience walked out. The club shut down her performance, and 8 of her next 11 scheduled venues canceled her coming appearance. My mild sense of delight was in no means related to the content of her shocking new beliefs but in the fact that I never liked her music, her entire schtick, and all the people who bought into that schtick in the mid-’80s or so. She was at the fore of a wave of “serious” artists whose stance seemed to be way more important than their music. Too many of those artists struck me as being props for people who couldn’t take a stand of their own. It was “package-deal” music. “I’ve got no beef with homosexuals,” God said when informed of Shocked’s comments. “I simply never found Michelle’s music that interesting.”

The musical discussion that really made me stop and think, however, came from Crystal, the wife of a Townsman, and a former contributor herself, in fact. I hope she and her husband don’t mind me reposting her status:

Quick! Think of a song that makes you happy. Putting together a playlist for someone. I’ll start, Joan Jett’s Bad Reputation…

I wanted to chime in and play along, but you know what? I’m not sure that any song actually makes me “happy.” All the favorite songs that came to mind that make me feel the wonder of life and the cosmos, or whatever, inevitably make me feel a little sad as well. Not sad in an I’m-drinking-myself-to-death way or even sad like the kid in the pool in his t-shirt, but a little sad at the knowledge that the beauty of the song I’m hearing cannot last forever. Maybe it’s like that orgasmic state some French thinker dubbed la petite morte.

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