Archive for November, 2013

Sometime around 2000, my friend Rich asked me if I wanted to go check out a performer named Dan Hicks. He was apparently legendary, and his latest album featured a number of well known musicians, including a few artists I liked, so it seemed like a safe gamble to go see him play. He was scheduled at the Cambridge, MA House of Blues, headlining the show for an act that I don’t recall – a guitar-playing singer-songwriter. I convinced my roommate Jeff to go with us – we dropped $20 per ticket and went inside. After grabbing a beer and finding a decent spot to stand for the show, we waited for the opening act to start.

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In 1999, my friends Al and Kelly and I went to Houlton, Maine for the 4th of July. Al originated there. Kelly and I learned to love Houlton for other reasons. They had a modest carnival for the 4th, but they always had the perfect musical act to play, one that was big at one time but had definitely seen better days. I remember catching John Cafferty and Survivor at the Houlton Fair, and the fireworks display, while no rival to that of a big city, was enough to make you clap and cheer. In 1999, I honestly don’t recall anything about the Houlton Fair except the ride home.

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When I worked at Rational Software in the late 90s, they hired a new VP of Human Resources named Michael. My first impression of him was at our holiday party, where he shushed a few people who were talking during executive presentations, and then proceeded to look on and listen with an interest level I only wish I could ever have for executives giving speeches (yawn). The way he shushed the others kinda bugged me, but I thought “OK, the man got to be a VP – he must be doing *something* right.” My girlfriend at the time, who also worked for Rational, actually knew him from a previous job and said he was a really nice guy. But I hadn’t met him – I’d just made a snap judgment of him from his one action in front of me. I was just a lowly engineer, and he was at the top of the HR department – it was unlikely we’d ever meet on level ground.

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As a child in the 70s, I could easily blame my lack of vocabulary and crappy radio reception for misheard lyrics, but this one stayed with me into my 40s, where I now enjoy a much stronger vocabulary and the crystal clarity of digital audio. The song in question is Let’s Groove by Earth, Wind, & Fire.

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In my sophomore year of college, I took a philosophy class, probably to fulfill a gen-ed requirement. The class was full of all kinds of characters, but one guy in particular always chimed in – you know, the kind of guy you love to hate. His name was Graham Smith, and for the longest time, I just loved to hate him … until one day he showed up to class with a small box that said on the side “Thanks to Gravity – CDs $7.” Truly, what went through my head was that he was selling CDs of various national bands, and thanks to gravity, their price had come down to $7 instead of the sky high $15 that they cost at the mall. I really thought that. Turns out that he was in a campus band by that name. I gambled and parted with a five and two ones to see what his gig was all about. I didn’t know I was in for a ride.

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Being a bassist, I always have to lock in with the drummer if we’re to be a competent rhythm section. Combining that with my love of many types of music, I thought it would be fun to create a list of songs that start with just a drum intro and see if people could guess what the song is. When I consider a drum kit, I picture a limited set of ways to introduce a song, but it turns out that there are a LOT of ways that drummers have introduced songs over the years, and some of them are unmistakeable. Others … not so much. Watch this video and see how many you can guess. Oh, and share it with your friends if you enjoyed the challenge.