Tag Archives: musician

Tom Petty (RIP)

The first time I heard Tom Petty – and I mean REALLY heard Tom Petty – was at a ski condo where I spent many winter weekends during high school.  If you consider a lot of his songs being in high school could not have been a more fitting time.

My family had a time-share with another family on an area condo.  Every other weekend we would pack up the van and trek to Snoqualmie Pass.  As I passed from Freshmen through my Senior years I had to spend less time skiing and snowboarding and more time studying, all while looking out the condo windows at the frozen hill I’d rather be sliding down.

One night during the winter of ‘89/90 some folks down the hall at the condo building had a party.  They put on Full Moon Fever (1989) and blared it.  The album was crisp and clear, you couldn’t miss it from anything else going on in the building.  The distinct sound of Tom Petty’s voice, the memorable tracks from this solo album …  The folks down the hall played this album all night.  It was the only album they played … all night.  Everyone else in the building, myself included, were trying to sleep, and apparently no one had the nerve to go down the hall to bang on the damn door and demand they shut it off!  My suspicion remains that the folks started playing a CD* copy of the album on repeat, partied and then passed out.
(* Here’s where I show my age – people were just starting to get CD players then – and the copy of the album I heard couldn’t have been a tape cassette because there wasn’t a long enough pause anywhere for the tape to run out … which is kind of funny & coincidental when considering what the listener hears at the middle of the album.)

Yep, the first time I really heard Tom Petty I REALLY didn’t like his work – not because of anything having to do with his music but because of the lack of sleep I got that fateful night coupled with the inundation of the singular album.

Some years later (still in high school) I had gotten that sleepless condo night and that repeating album out of my system.  On weekend evenings I caught a late at night music show on PBS – I have no idea what the show was.  For weeks I tuned in because this show was cool and I didn’t have a social life then (either).  I would watch whatever band was being featured and then the show would close out with playing a number from a Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers concert.

Every week the concert would pick up where it left off, and over a number of weeks I caught most of the performance.  Something about the music and the presence the musicians had caught me.  To this day I don’t know what the specific concert was or much reference to make for the footage – and I would love to see it again.  All I recall was that there was this HUGE tree prop behind the band on stage, and I think chandeliers hung from the branches.  Their performance was engaging, electrifying, authentic, and the roots of rock’n’roll were palpable.

It was after that I started paying attention, learning about where Tom Petty came from, observing his accomplishments, hearing the arc of his music as he continued to mature ….  and yet that authentic, palpable thing always remained.

I get the impression that some folks think that because I play bagpipes that I’m not a musician, that I don’t tie in with the rest of musicians the same.  While I hold the opinion that there is a vibe every musician experiences that comes with their genre of instrument, there is a vibe that all musicians share.  I didn’t start out as a bagpiper, I’m not now only a bagpiper, and with that I’ve always viewed myself as a musician first.  When you appreciate the work of another musician both from an audience standpoint and from musician standpoint …. when someone who’s work was incredible and they move on …  it hurts in two ways.  You lose a star in the night who was a point of great creation, and you lose someone you understand because of the vibe you shared with them.

In some of the themes that Tom wrote and sang about – love, hate, and loss – my relationship with his work has been that.  First I hated his work, then I came to love it.  Lately we lost the man, and yet we can remain grateful for the gifts he gave through his art and dreams.

Thomas Earl Petty (October 20, 1950 – October 2, 2017)

Tom Petty – YouTubeWikipedia – IMDB

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers  – YouTubeWikipedia – IMDB

Searching for Sugar Man (2012)

Written 10Oct2016 – 28Oct2016

“Searching for Sugar Man” is the unbelievable-but-true story of an iconic musician who did not know he was famous – for his influential music and for seeming to have never existed.

Yeah – you read that right.

One night in 1968 Detroit, two renowned producers (Mike Theodore & Dennis Coffey) intentionally went to a back-alley bar to hear a musician known as Sixto Rodriguez.  So impressed with his craft they quickly offered him a recording deal.  To their surprise, when his first albums were released in 1970 & 71, Rodriguez’s albums tanked.

As the singer/songwriter faded into obscurity, bootleg recordings of Rodriguez’s surprised album found their way around apartheid South Africa. Here, unbeknownst to him, over the following two decades Rodriguez became a cultural phenomenon.

“Searching for Sugar Man” gives the account of two Cape Town fans in the late 1990s endeavoring to solve the mysteries surrounding their hero.

LINKS

NOTE – Dennis Coffey & Mike Theodore also worked with Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, The Supremes, Gladys Knight, Ringo Starr, The Four Tops, and Wilson Pickett, among others.  Yeah, these guys are no joke.  Also, this film does not draw attention to the fact that Sixto Rodriguez did get attention in Australia – which it receives some criticism for, suggesting that it is ‘myth building.  The argument against that is that it is not attempting to build a story about this artist but instead to tell the story of the two fans and their search into the history of this artist.

Change Taking Place(?)

Over a year ago I made my biggest residential move yet — from Seattle to beautiful Whidbey Island.  Not that far, I know– but being an old-school Seattlelite, it’s kind of a big deal.  If you weren’t born & grew up in the city decades ago, you might not understand, just bear with me…

Without getting much into how Seattle has gone down-hill since the 1980s, I’ll just say that moving to Whidbey has been good for me … mostly.  The attitude and pace of the island is much like how Seattle was as so many years ago.  Island-living is familiar to me as my family has history here and I spent a lot of time visiting while growing up.  This made for a comfortable transition also enabling me to move closer to my parents and to help support them.  Then there is the matter of having dealt with 2 burglars, 1 car prowler, and a few uncontrolled threatening dogs and one of their idiot owners … hence ‘mostly’ … but I digress.

A large portion of my move occurred relative to employment — and my gross lack thereof.  This came with the projection of starting a baking business for myself, which I’m excited to say looks to launch soon.  I have many ideas of how I want to develop this company as employment for myself and others and as an extension of my creativity.  Keep an eye for Whidbey Island Baking Company and my biscotti, in the mean time look up Biscotti Journey on FaceBook.

When I moved from Seattle to Whidbey I told myself that I wanted to keep current as a Seattle musician — I wanted to keep working with musicians I’d already connected with along with gaining new experiences.  I also wanted to keep gigging with my band and being of service to private events.

A year+ later I have found that this has proven to be challenging and costly.  Frankly, when I moved to Whidbey I was broke — which included no longer having a personal vehicle.  I’m grateful for public transportation and the use of crash space at friends’ places, but the dividends of doing most-things-musical in The Greater Seattle-etc Area I’ve found to not be worth it.  Mostly what I mean by this is solo gigs.

The long and short of this is that I’ve been wrestling with what I want to do and how I want to do it.  The greatest expense to my playing in the Greater Seattle Area is my time.  I want to still play with my band, I want to work with other musicians, and I want to do some solo gigs though I imagine I’m going to be much more selective about my private gigs.  More than anything I want to focus on developing my playing and work on my album concepts — I’d also like to try and start performing house concerts.  In truth, with a company about to launch, that’s also going to take a lot of my time, and I predict I’d have to direct prospective clients for private performances to other qualified pipers.  I’d like to further develop what I’ve explored only a bit before — building my presences online with video broadcasts, YouTube videos, and e-marketing my albums.

Mostly, I see this as a shift in my existence as a musician an opportunity to direct myself on what I’ve most wanted to do.  It is an interesting question to ask musicians thought — if you could only do one which would be, only record and not perform or only perform but not have any recordings to sell or get played on radios or stereos?