Sunday, December 31, 2006

Music City Bowl Fun

Michelle, Matthew and I had a great time at the 2006 Music City Bowl in Nashville watching our beloved Wildcats put it on the Clemson Tigers.

Though Clemson was heavily favored by all of the experts, Kentucky used trick plays, a well balanced offensive scheme, and a hard hitting defense to pull off the upset. LP Stadium holds nearly 70,000 people, and I would estimate that 50,000 were cheering for the Wildcats. The big win was a great way to end 2006.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Winding Down A Musical December

A busy musical December is always fun. Among the venues I worked this month are Giuseppe's, Caproni's, Laurel County Library, Blackridge Hall, Arlington Country Club, Dudley's Wine Room, private residences, and Madison Hills Christian Church. All of them were either solo gigs or duo performances with Dad or Kevin Moreland. This is the first December in my professional music career that I did not work a rock and roll job. I enjoyed the solo and duo work very much, but kind of missed playing my tenor sax in a rock and roll band. I plan to fit a few more rock and roll gigs into my schedule in 2007.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Michael Franks' "Watching The Snow"

I've been a Michael Franks fan since I first heard "Popsicle Toes" in 1976. He always surrounds himself with the best jazz musicians in the world and writes nice tunes. On most music I find myself listening primarily to the music itself and not paying much attention to lyrics. This is not true, however, when it comes to recordings of vocalist Michael Franks. His lyrics are wonderful, often filled with humor, and always clever.

The other day I found myself listening to his 2003 holiday album titled "Watching The Snow". The arrangements are good, the musicians fantastic, the music excellent, and the lyrics fabulously whimsical and tongue in cheek and filled with Michael's thoughts and cravings of love. I particularily enjoy the delightful flute and soprano sax work of sideman Chris Hunter.

Excerpts from "Island Christmas"

I don't want to smell those chestnuts
Roasting on an open fire
But I can peel you a banana if your heart desires
I want an island Christmas this year

I want no more Christmas carols
Counting birds up in pear trees
I want you to smear some sunscreen
All over me
I want an island Christmas this year

We'll decorate a mango tree
And you can string some lights on me
No snow to shovel Christmas Day
We'll snorkel through a turquoise bay
While others plod through "Jingle Bells"
We'll roam the beach collecting shells
I understand flannel pajamas
Are not allowed in the Bahamas
Handel's Messiah's far too glum
A repertoire for the steel drum

Excerpts from "I Bought You A Plastic Star (for Your Aluminum Tree)"

It gets pretty cold here at night
Down to sixty degrees
There's angel-hair up in the palm trees
It sure looks like Christmas to me
But Santa's been grounded
His reindeer came down with T.B.
So I bought you a plastic star
For your aluminum tree

We barely recover from pumpkins
And Thanksgiving time
When those acrylic-bearded Santas
Start clanging at Sunset and Vine
That snowflake in hell
Has more chance to stay mellow than me
So I bought you a plastic star
For your aluminum tree

This is a fun album and a must have for Michael Franks fans. Also of note, Franks has arranged for proceeds from this album to go to the no kill shelter sanctuary and animal welfare organization "Hearts United for Animals". Pretty cool!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Soul Music Internet Station

A new internet radio station,, took to the airwaves on December 1. The programming is focused on horn-driven soul, funk and jazz, in the spirit of artists such as Tower of Power, James Brown, Edgar Winter, Candy Dulfer, Maceo Parker, Jack Mack & The Heart Attack, Lenny Williams, Doc Kupka's Strokeland Superband, and many more. This online station is a bad boy!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Celebrity Look-a-likes

Several celeb look-a-likes are seen frequently at Giuseppe's. The resemblances are uncanny!

Sam Drucker (Green Acres) and The Waynester

Roger Ebert (Film Critic) and The Chuckster

George Clooney (Movie Star) and The Gigster (Me)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Shhhhhh! Silence! You're In A Library!

I enjoy playing at the Laurel County Library. They have me visit to play jazz and Christmas tunes in early December each year.

I play in the main area of the library. There is always a nice group of folks studying, researching, surfing the internet, browsing, and listening.

As I bring my equipment into the building I notice how quiet it is in the library. If I listen closely I can hear a page turn or an occasional cough or clearing of the throat from someone in the back. This is certainly a gig that will not require subwoofers, a stack of Marshall amplifiers, laser light show, or super mixing board. As I assemble my sax in the silence of the room I remember Mrs. Smart, the librarian at my high school, constantly reminding us to be quiet. She would always say "Shhhhhh! Silence! You're in a library!"

Now that my gear is set up and ready, I need to decide on a first tune to play. I know I'll need to pick something that can be played very softly. Basically my game plan is to quietly "creep in" with the volume so that the library folks are not overwhelmed with sound. After careful consideration, I decided to play "The Sound of Silence" as my quiet opener. I followed it with "Quiet Nights (Corcovado)" and then some Christmas tunes, jazz, pop ballads, and swing. It was great seeing the Askews and other library regulars again.

With friend Johanna Askew

I'm not sure that Mrs. Smart would have approved of music in the library, but the folks at Laurel County Library did. Music in the library covers up the sounds of page turning, coughing, clearing of the throat, and the librarian's "Shhhhhh" warnings. Libraries can be places of excitement, as evidenced here.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Holiday Gathering at Blackridge Hall

Every year Jim Black hosts a gathering of friends and clients at Blackridge Hall, his gorgeous bed and breakfast mansion. Last night Dad and I once again played music for the festive annual event.

Dad at Blackridge Hall

Mr. Black had the mansion looking terrific in a beautifully decorated Christmas theme. His eighty guests had a great time touring the facility, eating, drinking, and dancing to our music.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Christmas Lights At Caproni's

Click on the photo to enlarge

Christmas lights are on display at Caproni's in Maysville. Owner Jerry Lundergan has once again outdone himself with a wonderful display of lights around the restaurant. Located beside the train track next to the Ohio River, the lights shown above of the train is only a portion of the restaurant's display.

I broke out the Christmas jazz for my gig there Saturday night. As is usual for our Saturday nights, we had an excellent crowd and a good time was had by all. There was also a private Christmas party in the Rosemary Clooney room.

Maysville is a beautiful little town and one that loves to decorate with Christmas lights during the holiday season. A drive through Maysville at this time of the year is heartwarming and will give certainly get you into the holiday spirit.

Friday, December 01, 2006

New Favorite

At my Giuseppe's gig last night Steve prepared me blackened mahi-mahi and shrimp. It was absolutely fantastic. I would rank it in my top three best tasting dinners of all time.