Sean Rowe

There are times in one’s life that change is good. No matter how painful it may be it will always take you to a better place. Music has always been an important part of this journey and currently two musicians have been fine company on this road, Amos Lee and Sean Rowe. Both are equally fantastic lyricist. Please, if you ever get a chance to see Amos Lee live do it. He will be at Red Rocks in a couple of weeks. Sean Rowe is a perfect example of traditional Folk music with a focus on the nature that surrounds his life. This is an important part of who he is and transcends his lyrics and music. Something that has touched me personally in my journey as a man in my 50’s. Lately, I have found a connection with music that is both organic and philosophical, touching my aging soul. Yes, I do still yearn for my punk and alternative music, but musicians that speak to the “heart of the matter” in a journey that may personally bring me back to the roots of a  metaphorical transcendental enlightenment are always welcomed.

I know, this is getting a little bit like Sartre but that is where I am right now my little droogs. So please bare with me. I promise next week’s post will be far more spirited! Enjoy…

To Leave Something Behind

Drinkin’ to Get Drunk Music

No doubt, the best drinkin’to drown your sorrows music is old country western. We all have our standbys such as Merle Haggard, Waylon, George “no show” Jones, Hank and hundreds of other Country Western singers. Recently, I came across someone who can easily compete with these icons of music. Chris Stapleton was born in Kentucky where all good song writers and drinkers come from. Through the years, he has written many hit songs sung by the likes of Kenny Chesney, George Strait, Darius Rucker, and the Dixie Chicks. In 2015  Chris released his first album Traveller. I ask you Mr. Stapleton, why didn’t you do this earlier? I would have spent more time drowning my sorrows with Jack Daniels while playing your music in the background. Do me a favor, click on the title of this song and listen to Whiskey and You. It will make you want to pour a strong one late at night while sitting on your porch under a full moon in the middle of July thinking about a long lost love. You will make yourself wonder why life can be so beautiful and yet so painful at the same time. Enjoy!

Phantogram

Music has a way of defining events in our lives. Like the first time you got stoned. I bet you can remember what record you were listening to. For me it was the actual original vinyl edition of Marvin Gay’s, What’s Going On. It was 1979 or ’80 and I was with my friend Joey from Colombia. He gave me my first joint and there we were listening to the rhythms of this record. It became one of my top 10 records for a long time.

That’s what I mean. Once I hear any of those fantastic songs, I’m back in 1979 (or ’80) getting stoned for the first time with Joey. A few months ago a friend at worked mentioned Glass Animals. That night I gave them a listen and thought “damn!” So I went on Amazon to see what other bands people had checked out that were related to Glass Animals. That’s when I came across Phantogram. I bought Three which was released in 2016. One night I was at home and needed to get out of the house. Having no place to go I ended up on the interstate traveling north. I always have my U2 special edition iPod with the true Wolfson chip and 256 GB SSD. It’s loaded with all kinds of music and I had just transferred Three into it’s digital brain. It was about 1:30 at night and the second song from the album began to play, Same Old Blues. Holly hell is all I can say! I own an ’09 GTI I bought used from a 65 year old Music freak – the best thing I had done in years only because he had planted a fabulous Kenwood stereo in the radio bay. There is a base line in this song that touched me like I haven’t been touched in years. I cannot get enough of this band. And if you ever get a chance to see them live, please do.

Yes, the music is electronica but with much more roots in soul and rock that makes this band’s efforts much more creative and with tons of feelings. It’s not crap! At all. I mean, come-on I grew up on rock and punk and for me to say that I like, no, love this band must mean something. I know I have missed out on a large portion of music only because it can be too easy to rely on things you’re familiar with. The night I drove for hours with the Kenwood in my GTI cranking Phantogram over and over gave me clarity and helped me change some things in my life. When I hear any of the songs from Three, I immediately find myself in that place where I was inspired by the music and the lyrics of Phantogram.

Excuses. We all have them!

I have only one excuse and that is, MY LIFE HAS BEEN TRAGIC. But that is neither here nor there. We all live and suffer through tragedies and most times it makes us stronger in the end. I won’t bore you with this but rather, let’s get on with the show…

I have been broadening my music collection and taste and want to share some of the lovelies I’ve come across. So over the next few weeks I’ll be posting a lot of bands that I consider worthy of serious listening. Here are a few of my prime choices:

Phantogram

Portugal. The Man

Majical Cloudz

Frighten Rabbit

The Yowl

Pearl Jam (I know, but give me a chance to explain)

Glass Animals

The XX

And much much more. So pay attention and open you minds to what I’d like to dump in there.

Life On Mars? or I Buried Paul

I was talking to a friend yesterday about David Bowie and we were talking about all the stories we’ve heard in the media about his life and death. It’s true that we all die sooner or later (sorry for those who didn’t know this yet, looking at you man-bun wearing hipster guy) but it hits home when someone you grew up listening to dies. And now we are arriving at a time in current history that all the great musicians that changed rock are reaching their destiny. What will happen the day Jagger dies, or Paul McCartney? I personally believe music will finally die (Dan McClain) and we will see the beginning of the end of Western Civilization.

Like many who remember where they were the day Kennedy died (I was 2 months old sucking on a bottle in a cardboard box full of sticks) I remember where I was when John Lennon, John Belushi, Bob Marley, Freddie Mercury, Marvin Gaye, and Elvis died. For example, it was a hot rainy day in August, 1977 when my mom and I were driving to a mall in Guadalajara and on the radio it was announced that Elvis had left the room for good. Shortly after, we were taking the escalator up to the second floor of the mall and my mom who was in front of me thought I was standing right behind her. She turned around singing in a deep voice, “you aint nothing but a hound dog,” to a middle aged Mexican woman who then looked scared and pushed past my mom quickly walking up the rest of the escalator ride. I stood there laughing and my mom’s face turned bright red.

Ringo is 75 and Paul McCartney is 73, Jagger and Kieth Richards are both 72. Chuck Berry is 89, yes he is still alive. Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard and Fats Domino are all still kicking in their 80’s! In 10 years most of these guys will be dead and an era of Rock icons will be over. Ask any kid under 25 who any of these musicians are and you’ll get a blank stare in return. Yet every once in a while some kid will know about these grandpa’s of Rock and excitedly want to talk about how they’ve been influenced by them. To these few kids out there, I raise my glass and toast you. You guys are the ones who will carry the flame of true Rock & Roll to the next generation.

The other night on our way home from my son’s piano lesson, we started singing Life On Mars? and I realized if I do my job right he too will be one of the few that carries that flame. Thank you David Bowie and the rest of the artists who have influenced so many. The world would have been less without you in it.

Lyrics damn it! It’s the lyrics

Currently I’m on a flight to Cancun, Mexico. As we travers the friendly skies I’m listening to Artic Monkeys, AM. The nice thing about being on a two hour flight and listening to music via Bowers & Wilkins headphones, which I truly love, is that you can give quality time to the lyrics of the songs you’re listening to. L Y R I C S – something that has been lost in the modern white man’s world of music. Now, that being said, I’m not going to say all is lost. There are plenty of bands out there creating worthwhile and entertaining music. But much of it can be at the expense of good and meaningful lyrics. Hey, there was a time when musicians wanted to say something about the world around them and not simply that their heart is broken because of that bitch Maybaline who left him for some hard working farm boy in Nebraska. 

Because we are rapidly coming to the end of 2015, I want you to make a promise to yourself, that in the year of our lord, 2016, you will NOT listen to crap music anymore and instead, dedicate your time to something worthwhile. Pay attention to the words that are being yelled at you through your headphones, Beats or otherwise. Find the meaning of your poor insignificant life in the words of some ambiguous band that makes your life either better or worse. Hell, it’s better than just aimlessly listening to crap music all your life.

Thank you from your friend here at stöogez and your intellect may thank you as well.

I suck!


Yes. I suck and there is no denying it. I suck because I promised myself this blog would be a weekly thing, and that has not happened. My last post was October 26th? What the hell! Why can’t I just commit to this thing?

The new year is rapidly approaching and what better time than January 1, 2016 to commit once again to this all so important project. Therefore my dear readers, I commit that starting January 1st, I will make this a weekly blog. I know you’re spinning around with excitement and can’t wait to see what I have in store for the new year. Here’s a glimpse of bands I will be reviewing:

Louis Jordan
Nuclear Evolution
Black Radio
Flogging Molly
Butch Walker
Seasick Steve
Chrissie Hynde
Hot Rod Circuit
Ryan Bingham
Turnpike Troubadours
Arctic Monkeys
Beck (Maybe)
Los Lobos
Maná
Steve Earle & The Dukes
and many more…

So please stay tuned and I promise wondrous things. Until then, have a fucking fabulous holiday!

Why is music music?

How Memories Play With Who We Are

I’m a non-practicing Cultural Anthropologist. When I say “non-practicing” I mean that I don’t work as an anthropologist anymore – I haven’t for a long time. But, I still look at the world through anthropologic eyes. My job affords me plenty of observation time as I watch social interactions between people and groups of people. I work in a retail store in an affluent part of town where the medium annual household income is well over a million dollars. Everyday I experience the centuries old practice of trade in goods. Cultures haven’t changed that much since before Christ. It’s true that in urban areas markets have been replaced by strip malls, but we still practice the ritual of buying goods with objects of worth, i.e. money.

So what does this have to do with music? A lot. Ask yourself, have we really changed that much since we left the “jungle” and started to build great civilizations? True, we have a lot more luxuries at our disposal, but what makes up a society hasn’t really changed that much. We still barter, hunt, fight, cultivate, converse, make art and create music. Now we just do it on a much bigger scale but the essence of what makes up a civilization hasn’t changed.

Music has always played an important part of a society. Early civilizations used music as a means to bring peoples together, to unify, celebrate and to ritualize cultures. We are still doing this today. Music definitely is a way that defines individuals while at the same time unifies those individuals under a similar umbrella, think Punk music of the 70’s and 80’s. Or the age of Aquarius in the 60’s. During the second world war there was plenty of music rallying the troops and our country to victory. During the 18th century Mozart rebelled against the crown to create music he thought would be more appealing to his fans and groupies. Throughout history there are defining moments that were clarified by music. What is it about music that touches us in a way that makes us human? Think about this. How many times has a particular song being played on the radio taken you back to a particular place and time? I’m going to mention three songs below. Three songs that I am sure will create some sort of feeling in you, that can can take you back to this specific place and time in your past. Here we go…

Boston – Don’t Look Back

-M- – Pop Muzik

Michael Jackson – Thriller

The thing that really fries my noodle when I think about this is the fact that there are millions of people with millions of different memories that are attached to these three songs. People may not remember -M- but as soon as you hear the organ and then the synthesizer you know the song and back you go with what ever memories you have. What’s even crazier is how these memories are created and locked in our brain.

Our body is created from cells and each of these cells will eventually die and be replaced with new ones. For example, the cells that make up your skin last roughly a little over a week. Therefore, the next time it’s been over a month since you’ve seen your friend, they actually are a completely “new” person because all their skin cells will have been replaced with new ones. The oldest cells in your body are found in your gut. The cells that make up your pancreas for example, remain for over 15 years. However, the craziest thing is the cells in your cerebral cortex, the part of your brain that holds long term memory, aren’t replaced for 23 years. And when they are, your memories are replaced with a copy of the same memory. In other words, let’s say you haven’t heard a song in well over 25 years and all of a sudden you hear that song and it takes you back to high school on a warm spring day just before spring break. You’re having lunch with your friends and you hear that song for the first time on the radio that’s playing on the table. That particular memory that’s been sitting locked in your cerebral cortex all these years and has now been unlocked for the first time in 25 years is not the actual memory but a copy of that memory that was passed on from the now dead cells that originally experienced the memory. So the actual memories we have of the past are not really the actual memories but are copies of those memories. And the physical person you are today, is not the same person you were 25 years ago. Even you memories, the things that help define who you are, are not the same.

Music is an interesting piece of culture. There are thousands of books discussing every aspect of music, from how it influences us physiologically to how payolas controlled the industry to the intrinsic value of classical music on modern day society. Music will forever be a way I can interpret society and my relationship within it. I appreciate good music and the time I have given to hear it, whether it be live, on a turntable or through my iPod Classic. I simply love music!

Now pass the joint and lets get stoned.

 

 

Camera is for Pictures

In the late 70’s I started to really get into photography. My first camera came via my father, a Canon TL which I still have. My second camera was a Canon AE1 which I got in 1980. I used to take that camera everywhere and it’s the one I learned about shutter speed, f-stops and film speed. A guy in my high school, J.B., had the camera above, a Canon A1 that I used to covet daily. Finally, I bought this camera in a garage sale years after the 35mm mania had died and gone away. I love this camera and wish there was a way to convert it into a digital mirrorless DSLR. But for now I just look at it and reminisce about my youth and forgotten dreams. 

Oh fucking hell, the camera kicks ass. Who gives a crap about nostalgia? By the way, I took this pic with my kickass Fujifilm X-T1 using a vintage Nikon lens off my wife’s old camera. Now that’s cool shit!

The Clash

I’m a real knucklehead some times. I seem to spend too much time in anticipation and not enough in actual enjoyment. Or is it that my enjoyment comes from the anticipation? Here’s where I’m going with this and what it has to do with The Clash. Many years ago we lived in an apartment on Emerson in Mexico City. The year was around 1981 or so. My musical taste ran the gamut. My biggest love was anything punk. There was a small group of us punk kids that ran around together. We even started a band called The Taxis. One day I came home to a group of Canadians sitting around my mom’s kitchen table – something that happened quite a lot back then though not always Canadians, just people sitting around the table. They were traveling in an old ’60-something Ford van. It had broken down and was in the shop down the street. They were spending the day with my family when I arrived home, purple mohawk, chains, etc. They took one look at me and were blown away to find a punk in Mexico. We instantly hit it off and they wanted to know all about the scene.
After we got to know each other through our musical taste, one of the guys went down to the van down the street and brought up a record to give me. It was, London Calling by The Clash. I put the record on and was quickly blown away. That album has become my all time favorite. Every song is great. Of course, the opening track with that driving rhythm, and I know it’s playing in the back of your head right now, is fantastic! My son now shares that as being one of his favorite songs as well.

Now to my problem with anticipation. I loved that album so much that it eventually showed a lot of wear and when the CD version came out, I jumped on it. In return, after some time I lost the album and all the sentiments that went with it. Those Canadians gave me something that held a lot of memories of my youth and a time in Mexico City that is forever gone. I began a quest to find the vinyl version of London Calling and eventually my search was successful. It’s a reissue and therefore new and wrapped in cellophane. I have had it for two weeks sitting on my turn table in it’s untouched condition while my anticipation of unwrapping it and placing it on the B&O turntable grows. I know that as soon as the wrapper comes off, my anticipation will be gone and reality will set in. WTF is wrong with me? “Get over it you dumb ass!”

So this weekend I will attempt to crack the cellophane and open the fucker up. Here’s to you Canadians guys who dropped into my life and left this treasure of a memory – lovers of The Clash and all things good. I salut you.

London Calling
Brand New Cadillac
Jimmy Jazz
Hateful
Rudie Can’t Fail
Spanish Bombs
The Right Profile
Lost in the Supermarket
Clampdown
The Guns of Brixton
Wrong ‘Em Boyo
Death or Glory
Koka Kola
The Card Cheat
Lover’s Rock
Four Horsemen
I’m Not Down
Revolution Rock
Train in Vain