Jan 212016

I suspect you agree I’m a kinder, gentler, wiser Mr. Moderator. It’s not only apathy that’s kept me from saying anything about the sudden, premature death of founding Eagles member Glenn Frey. It’s also maturity. And increasing fear of The Reaper.

I hadn’t planned on posting any snarky thoughts Frey’s death, and I still won’t, but some Guardian piece lambasting people for mocking Glenn Frey’s death while celebrating David Bowie’s, which a friend posted on his Facebook feed has me feeling like, I don’t know, the meaner, harsher, more ignorant Mr. Moderator of old.

The holier-than-thou tone of the Guardian’s subtitle was enough to make my blood boil:



Who’s this Guardian writer to call younger, nastier, less-afraid-of-dying himself me a hypocrite? Call Younger Me and my ilk rude, immature, disrespectful…sure, but where does it say anyone needs to pretend that Bowie and Frey’s life works need to be considered on the same playing field? Can’t we be respectful while staying true to our own tastes and feelings? I tried, in my reply to my friend’s Facebook post. For the record, after being up there in his thread for nearly 12 hours, I have yet to receive a single Like. I’m not sitting by a large window, looking out at the rain, as a single teardrop rolls down my cheek, but I am a bugged enough to share my thoughts on the death and life of Glenn Frey. I hope my words help as you process this passing:

Jul 172015


No fuss, no muss: it’s not yet Saturday night, but desperate times call for desperate measures, as your host, Mr. Moderator, struggles to get back in the flow of revitalizing the music discussion blog he founded with a core group of contributors many moons ago.

RTH Saturday Night Shut-In 142

[Note: You can add Saturday Night Shut-In episodes to your digital library by subscribing to the Rock Town Hall feed.]

Feb 052014

I’m calling on the counselors, therapists, and spiritual guides walking the Halls of Rock to share your insights and life lessons with the young people in this video. As much as I hate to rain on anyone’s parade, I sense that tomorrow, after they’ve come down from this ecstatic height, these turned-on, tuned-in young people will need some guidance, some words of wisdom, maybe even some tough love to deal with the harsh light of everyday life.

Please identify a young person in the crowd by a description/time of appearance and provide the necessary healing words of wisdom. Be gentle.

Jun 192013


Happy birthday to me. I have turned 50 years old.


Before receiving my AARP card a couple of weeks ago, I had been thinking my 50th birthday would mark the beginning of my middle-age period. Statistically speaking, though, I should have gone middle-age crazy 10 years ago. I’m two thirds gone if I’m reasonably lucky. Shit.


So, I’ve blown my middle-age period feeling like an overweight man in his early 30s, but with the frequently curmudgeonly attitude of a septuagenarian. No sports car. No hot tub. No Tommy Bahama shirts. No island getaways. No golf. Just more records and guitars and rehearsals and recording sessions and baseball games and family and friends and food and Dugout Chatter on Rock Town Hall. There could have been worse ways to spend one’s 40s.

I’m 50, and despite the aches and pains of my first season with neighborhood friends in an over-35 baseball league I’m in consciously better shape than I’ve ever been in my life. Even when I was a kid and playing sports as frequently as the day allowed, I only played to compete. I was never conscious of my body and how prepared it was for whatever game. Stretch? Sure, when there’s a close play at first I’ll stretch like Willie McCovey. Jog? Only if the coach makes us. Lift? Sure, a hoagie or a cheesesteak—or both—to my mouth.

I wanted to share some really deep thoughts about reaching this milestone and how it relates to who I am as a music lover, but I’ve realized that no matter how happy I am with my life, when it comes to music I still hold to many of the same views about things that most people would not stop to consider. Even some fellow music lovers wonder how I can hold so deep a LOVE or HATE for specific musical details. Just last week my close personal friend and drummer, Townsman Sethro, was learning the arrangement for a new song with me when he stopped playing a rhythm on the ride cymbal and said, “Wait, you hate when I do that.”

“What do I hate?” I asked.

“You hate when I do this,” he said, as he tapped out a fancy, dancing pattern on the ride cymbal.

“Do I hate that?” I asked.

“You hate everything,” he said lovingly.

It actually sounded good at this particular point in the song, so I told him to carry on with it, but to avoid not getting too cute. Only in rare cases, I suddenly realized, am I cool with what I consider to be a “cute” pattern on the ride cymbal.

Much is made about the kinder, wiser, gentler moderator I’ve become since launching Rock Town Hall with a group of like-minded friends in November 2002 (when I was only 39 and probably acting like a mature 26 year old), but time has not broken me of some of my didactic approach to musical experiences. On this, my 50th birthday, I will share 50 didactic thoughts on the first 50 musical topics that come to mind. Enjoy, learn, and thank you for your part in making my life about as much as I could have hoped it would be.

Jun 102013
Let's stick together.

Let’s stick together.

A recent Rolling Stone feature on The Rolling Stones featured the 8,456,201st telling of what may be the oldest story in the book of rock: the rapprochement of the Glimmer Twins, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. In my rock magazine-reading lifetime, these articles date back to the release of Some Girls. I wouldn’t be surprised if this story extends back a few album releases/tours earlier. The reasons for the divide shift slightly from personal/artistic- to personal/business-rooted interests as the years pass, but the narrative always drives at the same conclusions: Divided, the Stones give us the New Barbarians/X-Pensive Winos and Mick Jagger solo albums; united, the treat us to another greatest hits package, a world tour, and whatever new dirt can be scraped from surviving band members’ yellowing fingernails. For this, we give thanks and praise.

Is there an older, more frequently told story in rock than the rapprochement of Keef and Mick, and all the mixed emotions their union represents to rock’s core values?

Jun 072013

Brothers and sisters, next time you get pissed at your brother or sister, pull up this clip and see if you can make it past the 2:26 mark without getting some perspective.

If that don’t work, try dusting off your Hummel figurines while playing a Gentle Giant album.

Apr 232013

And then Richie, Richie said, “Hey man, let’s dress up like cops, see what we can do!”

Something, something said, “You better not.”

– Television, “Venus de Milo”

I’ve been thinking about these lines from Television’s “Venus de Milo” since details of the Boston Marathon Bombing and post-bombing reign of terror emerged. I believe the lines refer to an actual prank that old high school friends Richard Meyers and Tom Miller (later known by the surnames Hell and Verlaine, respectively) considered pulling. I’ve been thinking about these lines, because I can’t shake the feeling that the Tsarnaev borthers’ motivation for their recent acts of terror were partially fueled by similarly idiotic notions that usually are quelled by that voice saying, “You better not.”


Call me cynically naive—or naively cynical—but I’ve been a little bugged by the backflips the media, some politicians, and people around me are doing to tie the acts of domestic terrorism the Tsarnaev brothers committed into broader, organized efforts of FOREIGN TERRORISTS. I’m not saying all possible ties shouldn’t be investigated nor that the influence of international terrorist and other political/religious zealotry was absent from their acts, but as a Boston columnist named Kevin Cullen pointed out on an interview I heard on Philadelphia’s WHYY radio last week, these brothers pretty much grew up in America, as part of our culture.

“We ask,” he said at one point, “‘Why do they hate us?’ The ‘us’ is us.”

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