Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Playing "Tag" & "Connect the Dots" @ the Same Time

The title of this post may, understandably, confuse you.  Read on though, and hopefully you'll see where this writing leads, and how you can play "tag" and "connect the dots" all at the same time.

As kids, we've all played "Tag" at least once.  The game where one person is "It", and chases the other players around.  If the designated person "tags", (touches), a player, that person is out for the rest of that round.  Or in another version, the tagged person is the new "It", and play continues.

Either way, as stated, it's a game that kids everywhere play at one time or another.

As we age, we begin noticing other types of tag, like price tags.  This theory leads us to "Dot 2" of our connect the dot game.

We become aware of  material things we want, and need, and what it costs to have these things.  Price tags, of course, are a way of telling prices, and if we can afford the item or not.

No matter the size, shape, or color, if there's something that shows the price of an object, it's a price tag.

One of the items that usually comes with a price tag is paint.

There are 101 uses, at least, for paint, and probably as many, or more, types, colors and prices of that paint. The type of paint most associated with "tag" however,  is probably spray paint.  If you're still following along, we've reached "Dot 3".

What used to be called "graffiti", is now referred to as "tagging".  It's still basically the same graffiti that's been around for eons, though over the years there have been cases where the paintings have become quite elaborate.  With this change came the name change of the art to "tagging."

Like graffiti, tagging is usually done on the sides of buildings, railroad cars, overpasses, and wherever the tagger is able to get to, to create their unique art.  Some of these designs can be very elaborate and beautiful; it's just too bad it's usually done in places it's not supposed to be.  That's a subject for another time though; on to "Dot 4".

"Dot 4" is the sole reason I've written this post.

In social media, blogs, etc., "tagging" means to label something with key words.  These words will help others find your musings when searching for things on the internet.  For example, if something has been tagged with the word "hippopotamus", and someone does a search using that word, anything tagged with the word "hippopotamus" should come up in the person's search.  At least that's how *I* understand it to be!
When having a blog it’s good to tag each post as soon as it’s written. Tagging should not be put off  for say, 4 1/2 years, or 293 posts into blogging.  I learned this lesson first hand a couple weeks ago, when it dawned on me that I hadn't ever tagged anything I'd written.

This discovery has lead me to going back through all 293 posts, and tagging each one, (no matter how big or small the post), with as many keywords as possible.  

Along this new journey, I’ve learned how much I’ve written about the weather and that I sometimes repeat things in a different way.  I’ve also refreshed my memory on some of the posts I’d forgotten about.

The bright side?  I guess that would be there aren’t more posts to go back through; STILL working on back tagging!  Also good:  I’ve been tagging the most recent posts as soon as they’re written. 

Sometimes even things that can be embarrassing, one needs to share with others, because even though it’s a stupid thing, it is kind of funny.  

Still not sure how "tag" and "connect the dots", can be done at the same time?  Me either; but the thought sounded good in my head, so I wrote this post. The game, "tag", is what I thought of  in addition to tagging; things just kind of spiraled from that to "connect the dots", and so on. As I explain it, it's just how my brain malfunctions. ((SMILE))

 Rather than just delete this post, I decided to share it with readers anyway.  Maybe someone out there will help figure the connection out!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

REVIEW--"The Big Revival"--Kenny Chesney

On September 23, 2014, Kenny Chesney released "The Big Revival", his fifteenth studio album in his twenty year career.

While it's safe to say Chesney has changed and improved over the years, it's also safe to say that his past few albums haven't changed much. There's always the fun songs, the beach songs, the reflective songs; a mix of tunes that has served Chesney well, maybe too well.

It seems that Chesney has become complacent in the music he puts out.  He's found what works, and rather than expanding and improving on it, he seems happy to just keep putting out more of the same.  Even his descriptions of songs don't seem to change from album to album.  Each one seems to be about his life, touches his feelings, tells the story of small towns, growing up in those towns, and so on.
That's not to say Chesney's music isn't good, it's just not as new and fresh as it was a few albums ago.

"The Big Revival", like Chesney's previous albums, follows the same groove and path that his fans have come to expect.  While this makes fans happy, it's not necessarily gaining him more fans, and may even possibly drive a few fans away with the tediousness of his musical choices.

"American Kids", the first single released to radio, is the typical, catchy, feel-good song that plays well on radio.  It's upbeat, all-American, small town fun in a three to four minute package.  It's the kind of song that catches your attention and makes you curious to hear more.

Unfortunately for "The Big Revival", "American Kids" is the highlight of the album.  While there are a few stand out songs, on this CD, including the title track, none quite equal the first single.  In fact, Chesney's next single, "Til It's Gone", doesn't seem as good a choice for radio as say, the title track.  Where "American Kids" is an upbeat, lively tune, "Til It's Gone", just kind of drones on and on, with nothing in the lyrics really standing out to catch your attention.

Chesney did team up with Grace Potter once again, this time for the tune "Wild Child".  This song is actually not too bad, and would be a good choice for a future single.

That's pretty much "The Big Revival" in a nutshell.  Just change the title of the CD, the song titles, and twist the music around a bit, and that's it, you've got a Kenny Chesney album; nothing really new to hear, but good if you like to stay in a comfort zone with music.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Concerts + Crowds = Chaos

I've been going to concerts for as long as I can remember. I'd also estimate that at least 50% to 75% of those concerts over the past half century have been general admission seating.

For those who may not know what general admission seating is, it's where everyone pays the same price for a ticket to a concert, regardless of whether they're in the front or back of the concert venue.

I remember in the late 70's large venues held concerts that featured "festival seating".  In other words, it was general admission, with everyone scrambling for a seat when the doors opened.

There were often injuries that resulted from this; and in 1979, at a Cincinnati, Ohio Who concert, eleven people were killed in a stampede for seats.

Despite this tragedy, to me at least, it always seemed once the rush for seats was over, the crowds at any given concert were fairly decent and friendly.

Then again, maybe it was the types of concerts I went to back then.

I was more into oldies, pop and country rock at the time.  Probably the most "hard core" rock act I'd seen by then was when Aerosmith opened for Three Dog Night in 1974.

By the 1980's, there were some rock acts that were known for having rough crowds at their shows.  Most of those artists and bands though actually catered to that type of audience, so it was almost expected that things would get crazy at concerts.  In fact, I went to college with a guy at the time that spent his weekends at various local hangouts.  If he didn't have at least one bruise or cut by the time he was back in class Monday, he considered it a bad weekend for fun!

By the 1990's, my concert going was at it's peak.  There was always some artist or band, new or old, that I just had to see. 

This is when I circled back to listening to country music more, while still enjoying the other music I'd grown up with.  It's also the time I started noticing a shift in how concert crowds were behaving.

The rough, rowdy crowds that had once seemed confined to the punk scene, had started spilling over into the more mainstream rock and pop world.

A perfect example was when Weird Al Yankovic performed at the Clark County Fair, in Ridgefield, Washington.

The shows were free then, with fair admission.  My son, Josh, was approximately 6 years old at the time, and a huge fan of Weird Al.

I took him to the afternoon show, and got him right up to the stage; unfortunately, we didn't stay for the show.

Before the concert even began, several audience members began throwing things, ripping up stuffed animals, and generally caused a riot.  It actually got dangerous enough that we left.

Despite this incident though, most of my concert going was uneventful, as far as the behavior of the crowds was concerned.

Fast forward to about the past 5 years or so; around the time country music really started to be more pop/rock oriented.  With this new trend, it seemed country concert goers were also picking up the habits of rock audiences from years past.

At first I didn't really notice it where I live in the Pacific Northwest.  Yes, there were always those few in the crowd who would get drunk and rowdy, but were still considered harmless.

My first real glimpse of a rough country music concert crowd was in Fargo, North Dakota.  I would never have expected a concert featuring Julie Roberts, Chris Young and Emerson Drive to draw the type of crowd I encountered.  These people made the crowd at Weird Al look tame!  Poor Julie Roberts was just trying to get through her set, when someone in the middle of the crowd threw a gallon size drink container at her, almost hitting her in the face. 
The same crowd pushed, shoved and elbowed people in front of them, trying to make it to the front of the stage.  At one point, during Emerson Drive's set, security actually had to stop the show, until order was restored.

At the time, I just chalked the crowd's behavior up to being a "North Dakota" thing, (for lack of a better phrase).  Though there had been an incident or two at country concerts in my home territory, they were nothing like in North Dakota.  Then came the year the Bull, (KUPL at the time), reintroduced Countryfest.

Unlike the Countryfests of the past, this one was held in the "Ro-Zone" during Rose Festival in Portland, Oregon.  The show was general admission, and like usual, concert goers began lining up in the morning for the afternoon/evening show. 

The difference with that crowd was, trouble started brewing before the gates were even open.  There were those farther back in the line who felt it wasn't fair that they weren't in line first.  Several were plotting how they could rush the ones in the front, to get past them and gain a better vantage point; and they very loudly let this fact be known to anyone within earshot.

Meanwhile, there were others who, despite a no smoking rule, lit up while in line, complained about others not liking it, and any number of things they felt should be different so they would be happy. Then the gates opened and the real  "fun" began.

I'm not opposed to people drinking; if it makes their concert going experience better, so be it.  However, when these peoples' behavior impairs the enjoyment of those around them, it's a problem.  Long story short on this incident; all chaos broke lose, and there were some really mean, nasty, rude people there, who didn't care about anything other than that *they* had a good time. 

Even after that incident though, I still felt like country concert goers were the best of any other genre; until recently.  More and more frequently I find myself not having as good a time as I used to at concerts.  It isn't due to the shows not being good;  90% of the time it's because of an unruly, rude crowd.

 I really feel that there's a direct correlation between country concert goers now, and the turn towards pop/rock that country music has taken.   The way I see it,  with the change in country music, it's attracting listeners who used to listen to other genres; genres where crowds can be a bit rougher at live performances.

At first I thought maybe it's just because I'm getting older; maybe I'm becoming less tolerant.  I really can't compare how I'm feeling with most of my fellow concert goers, since we're all pretty much in the same age bracket, give or take a few years.

My age is also what held me back from writing this post sooner.  I didn't want someone reading it, and thinking exactly that; that it's just the rambling complaints of an old lady. 

I emailed Jake Byron from 98.7 The Bull with my concerns, telling him how I felt, and what I wanted to say.

While Jake said that there will always be those who will see my post as one from a cranky old lady, my feelings, and those of my fellow older concert buddies are valid.  He then validated my feelings more by letting me know that *he* feels the same way I and my friends do. 

Jake is only in his 30's, (the average age of current country music listeners), and doesn't like the rough trend that's entering the country genre. That was good enough for me; it was time to write my blog post, which you've just read.

 It's not that I don't understand wanting to have fun; I totally get that.  I also understand that an artist feeds off the vibe of the crowd.  The more worked up the crowd, the more energized the performer.  I just wish it could be both ways.  I know it's possible, it's been done before.

Friday, September 5, 2014

New Music: Kristian Bush--"Trailer Hitch"

If you've been listening to country music within the past decade, you've no doubt heard of Sugarland.

Originally a trio, Sugarland hit country airwaves in July, 2004 with "Baby Girl", and have been on a roll of hits from then on.

In 2006 group founder, Kristen Hall, left the group, leaving Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush to carry on as a duo.

The end of 2011 also brought an end, (at least temporarily), to Sugarland.  Though both Nettles and Bush say the duo has not split up, they've taken a break to pursue solo projects.  Nettles has put out at least one single, "That Girl", and gone on the road to promote the single and CD.

During the Sugarland hiatus Bush has been writing songs and touring the country.  Whether this is the reason it's taken longer for him to release a song to radio, I don't know.  What I do know is, his first solo contribution to country music was worth the wait.

"Trailer Hitch" is an upbeat, almost tongue in cheek look at life and it's excesses.

The singer tells how much happier he'll be with less things in his life to worry about; and the over all emphasis of the tune is that you can't take things with you when you die.  Or as the song itself states, "never seen a hearse with a trailer hitch".

Though Kristian Bush may have been almost silent as a member of Sugarland, now that he's chosen to let his voice be heard, it seems he'll be making a big impact on country listeners everywhere.  Give "Trailer Hitch" a listen and see what you think.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Mmmmm....Do You Need To Be Alone?

Attention:  This post may not be suitable for younger readers.

There are very few people anywhere in the world that haven't heard of Voodoo Doughnut and it's crazy doughnut concoctions.

While the Bacon Maple Bar Doughnut is the business' best known item, the doughnut that has me writing this post is the No Name Doughnut.

One Sunday, after attending another event, one of my friends asked if we should go to Voodoo Doughnut.  Since the other friend has never been there, we went.

The friend who made the suggestion was eagerly awaiting her turn so she could purchase her No Name doughnut.  After about a half hour wait, (fairly short for a Sunday), my friends and I bought the doughnuts we'd chosen.

Back in our friend's car, two of us decided, since we were going to lunch, we weren't eating our doughnuts immediately.  Our No Name doughnut friend, (and driver of the vehicle we were in), said she was having hers right then and there.

She'd been waiting for that raised doughnut, with chocolate frosting, covered in Rice Krispies and peanut butter drizzle.

We took off and she was eating her No Name doughnut while driving to our next destination.

As she's driving, and eating, this friend was making "Mmmmmmmmmm, mmmmmmm, mmmmmmm" sounds, because the doughnut was so good.  She did it several times and at one point I asked if she needed to pull over and let the other two of us out, so she could be alone with her doughnut!  We all had a good laugh about it, as she went back to eating and "mmmm"ing. 

We began joking how this friend went for doughnuts that were anonymous, (no name), and other silly things.  I also said she could start a side business, like "phone eating".   It would be like those calls advertised on late night TV; the ones that cost $3.00 a minute. People on diets, who start craving sweets, could call our friend, and she could be on the other end of the line, with her No Name doughnut, her noises...you get the idea.

I told both friends, that all this silliness was giving me ideas about a blog post I could write, and that the more we talked, the more the idea was growing in my head, and I was just going to have to write it.

The three of us managed to make it to our next stop, Red Robin, for lunch, without anymore "mmmm"ing. , As it turned out however, my other friend was about to be added to the blog post for her own "mmmmm" moment.

Red Robin has some of the best honey mustard anywhere, bar none.  

This other friend absolutely loves this mustard, and always asks for extra when she's at Red Robin.  

On this day, she got her food, and started dipping her fries in the honey mustard.  Next thing you know, she's doing the same "mmmmmm, mmmmmm, mmmmm", as the other friend did with her doughnut!  Not as loudly though, since we were in a restaurant, and not the seclusion of a vehicle.

I jokingly said to my friend, "maybe you should take your honey mustard somewhere a bit more private, where the two of you can be alone".  We all had another good laugh; and then I let her know she was officially being added to my blog post about the other friend's doughnut.  

This post is a result of what I told my two friends I was going to do.  It may not seem as interesting just reading it, (you probably had to be there to totally get what was going on), but it was one of those things that got stuck in my head, and needed to be let out.

My only regret about this whole thing is, our other friend that we'd met up with originally hadn't come along with us afterward, so she missed out on the rest of the fun that day.

Friday, August 22, 2014

It's All In Our Heads: A Mish-Mash Of Thoughts & Theories

Things are always happening in this great big world of ours, every second, minute and hour of every day.

While most of the time these things have no correlation with each other, sometimes even the most unrelated subjects will spark a unique connection in one's mind.

That's what happened to me over the past couple of weeks.  First, the death of Robin Williams, then the news that Taylor Swift has left country to go pop.

Both stories had my brain thinking and rethinking about a myriad of things, but nothing that I put into print, until now.

 It's safe to say that there are few people in this world who haven't heard the names Robin Williams and Taylor Swift.
Robin came zooming into our lives as alien Mork from the planet Ork; first on Happy Days, then in his own series, Mork & Mindy, with Pam Dawber.

 Nearly 30 years later, Taylor  grasped fame as a fresh faced 16 year-old singer, ready to take the country world by storm.

Comparing these two side by side, you might think they have little to nothing in common with each other, and for the most part you'd be right.

It's been said that Robin Williams was born to make people laugh; and it's a job he was excellent at doing.  Laughter is what Robin was best known for in his life.

On the flip side, Williams' talent was so vast, he was able to play more serious characters in the movies, and still have viewers enthralled with his work; it's a rarity that few in his business have experienced. No one questioned if he was capable of being so diverse, it was just accepted that he was.

That's why, when it was reported Robin Williams had taken his own life, it didn't surprise me as much as the public's reaction to the news.

Despite the dramatic roles Williams has done, people still categorize him as a comedian, who happens to do some serious work as well.

More than one report I heard though, expressed surprise that Williams would have committed suicide, because he always seemed like such a happy guy.  Every time I heard that, all I could think was, "that's what people saw on the outside, you don't know what was going on in his head".

In reality, most comedians are in the business as a form of self therapy.  Their personal lives aren't that great, and being able to make fun, laugh, and have others laugh at the things a comedian says, helps ease the pain the person is feeling inside.

There have been so many stories of comedians, before Robin Williams, that have told of the sadness in their lives.  Freddie Prinze, John Belushi, and John Candy are just a few who had life issues they dealt with through comedy; so why the surprise that they weren't happy in life?

Then there's Taylor Swift.

I'll be the first to admit, when Taylor hit the country music scene, I dismissed her as just a kid that would burn out quickly, or grow up and air her issues, like other artists had done.

The more she did, and the more control she had of what she did, and how she did it, the more I thought my first impression was correct.

However, as the years went by, and Swift matured, I came to discover that this girl is the real deal.  I now believe she was given so much freedom early in her career, not because she was spoiled, but rather because someone had the foresight to see the true talent the girl has.

At the same time I was changing my mind, the naysayers were stepping forward to bash anything and everything Taylor has done in her short life.  It's like they waited until she was an adult, and all the negativity began surfacing.  It's to a point that it seems Swift can't even breath correctly in some peoples' opinions.

So when Taylor recently announced her next album will be pop, not country, it wasn't a big surprise that it caused an uproar.

Except for die-hard Taylor Swift fans, people began saying all kinds of mean things about Taylor and her decision, without knowing all the facts, (which is usually the case).

While Swift is a singer/songwriter and Robin Williams was a comedian/actor; this is where the two share common ground; with different reactions to that shared space.
Robin Williams was readily accepted as both a comedian and serious actor.  While some critics may have doubted Williams' ability, they were few and far between.  Whether age, or maturity, had anything to do with this, who knows, and it doesn't really matter.  The fact is, Williams was given the opportunity to shine, and show the various facets of, at least his public life.

Taylor Swift has grown up in the public eye.  From the age of 16, to almost 25 years old, the public has watched Swift grow and mature in her craft as well as her age.

Like any young adult, Taylor is still learning about herself and her likes and wants in this world.  The difference for her though, she's done her growing up in front of the entire world.  For some reason people seem to think, because of this, Swift should be different from others her age.  She's consistently put down for behaving like a normal young adult.  And now the change from country, to pop is being used as one more strike against her.

Country and pop have been crossing genres for decades now, so it surprises me that people are in such an uproar that Taylor is exploring that road.

Much like Robin Williams doing comedy and dramatic roles, why shouldn't Taylor Swift be able to explore different genres of music?  It's not like it hasn't been done before.  CMT Crossroads is a great example of mixing genres of music.  Justin Moore's current single, "Home Sweet Home", is a cover of Motley Crue, and even features Vince Neil from the band.

In the recent past, country has warmly received artists like Kid Rock, Uncle Kracker, and Sheryl Crowe, as well as a number of actors and actresses throwing their hats into the country ring.  If country can accept pop/rock artists into their genre, why do they not want to share their country artists with the pop/rock world? The logic that's supposedly behind this thinking escapes me.

And there it is, what has been swimming around in my mind the last couple of weeks.  The thoughts and theories that I'm trying to sort out.  So far, what I've come to conclude is this: What it boils down to is, all celebrities are just normal people like the rest of us.  They have highs and lows; they get sick and have pain like the rest of us.  They have varied interests, ideas, plans, etc., like the rest of us.  The ONLY thing that separates celebrities from the rest of us is, more people know their names. Yes, each one of them had to have some kind of talent to make it as far as they have; far enough to be considered more than just a flash in the pan.  They've survived longer than the 15 minutes of fame each of us dreams of, and they work to stay at that level.

The bottom line always returns to the same thing though; they're human.  They make mistakes, they're vulnerable, maybe even more so than the rest of us.  Why?  Because they're living their lives for the world to see.  Yes, fame was their choice; however, that doesn't mean they can be perfect 100% of the time.  Instead, it means they tend to hide more and more of what's really going on inside themselves, good and bad.

So while the suicide of a beloved comedian, or the switch in genres of a young singer catches the public off guard, it really shouldn't; after all, even celebrities need normalcy in their lives.

All of this is still a huge mish-mash in my mind; it's not easy trying to put everything going on inside one's self in print, and convey it perfectly. After all, none of us can fully know what another thinks and feels; we'll never have all the answers we want as to why people do what they do.

For myself, this post is a way to set my thoughts free from my head.  Thank you for taking the time to read it.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Remembering Lee Rogers

Country radio, (heck ALL of radio), lost a legend today.  Former KUPL DJ, and Country Radio Hall of Famer, Lee Rogers has passed from this world.
Lee spent four decades in radio, all over the United States, spending fifteen of those years at KUPL-FM. That's where I heard his somewhat gravelly, gruff voice for the first time.

I'll be honest, Lee wasn't one of my favorite DJ's at KUPL.  I think it's because I was somewhat intimidated by how gruff and blunt he could be at times.  He definitely seemed to be a no nonsense type of guy.

That's not to say I didn't respect the man though; I did then, and I still do.  I mean, you don't do a job for forty years, and be entered into a Hall of Fame for nothing; obviously Lee knew what he was doing.

It also doesn't mean that I didn't like listening to Lee on the air, I definitely did.  In fact, though I'd been listening to KUPL off and on for years, it was about the time Lee Rogers hit the airwaves that I became a loyal listener of the station.

While I didn't always agree with Lee's opinions, one of my favorite things was Lee's Soapbox.  Those were the times Lee would be on the air telling every listener how he felt about whatever topic he had a rant about at that moment.

So many things are going through my head as I write this, and have been since I heard the news of Lee's passing today.  I've written, and rewritten paragraphs of this post, trying to express what I want to say, and get it right; but nothing seems to do justice for how I'm feeling.

I've read many posts from Lee's former colleagues and listeners, telling their stories of interactions with Lee throughout the years.  They're heartwarming to read, because it sheds light on the real person Lee Rogers was.  He wasn't just gruff and grumbly; he was a human being with a true heart.

I'll take a cue from Lee himself here, and be totally blunt; yes, of course people are going to say lots of nice things about someone when they've died, it's what people do.  The thing is, if Lee Rogers wasn't as nice a person as everyone has said, then there wouldn't be so very, very many posts praising the man for who he was and what he did in life.

There wouldn't be so many former co-workers posting about their time spent working with Lee. And there are A LOT of co-workers in a forty year career!   Heck, I can't even count the number of co-workers Lee interacted with in just his fifteen years with KUPL!

What I'm getting at is, though I may have been intimidated by the man while he was living, those who really knew him have made me come to see just how real he was;  and how he touched so many others' lives in great ways.

I think that's why I needed to write this post; as a tribute to Lee Rogers' life and legacy, and as a small but truly heartfelt apology for not knowing more about what a great human being he was.

Lee, I really wish *I'd* gotten to know you as well as other KUPL listeners did.  I hope I've done at least a somewhat decent job of paying tribute to you here.

Rest in Peace, Lee Rogers.  Maybe someday I'll meet up with you on the other side, and catch up on all I missed while you were here.