Up Close and Personal

music musings, beaverdamusa.comThrough the years, I have attended musical events at various sized venues.  Sizes ranged from stadiums to small listening rooms.  However, I had never been to a house concert until a couple of weeks ago.  A house concert is exactly what it sounds like, a concert at someone’s house.  The seating is very limited due to the fact that the show is in someone’s living room – usually.

This house concert was held at the home of my friends, Ric & Helen Olsen.  So you don’t pry yourself away from this riveting musing, Ric was the guitarist for the band Berlin (Take My Breath Away from Top Gun).  In his basement, Ric has basically set up a small stage complete with sound and light systems.  So the setting was great to listen to music.

The musical guests were Jaime Kyle, Dave Jenkins, and Walter Egan.  I’ve mused about Jaime and Dave before (Jaime & Dave).  If you didn’t know, Jaime is a singer/songwriter extraordinaire from Nashville and Dave (her husband) is the founder and lead singer of Pablo Cruise.  Walter Egan is known for his hit Magnet & Steel back in the late 70s.  The couple of times I have seen Walter out, I have really grown to appreciate his songwriting.  

The house concert was a great opportunity to see some fine musicians and songwriters up close and personal.  The format was the typical songwriters round with each taking turns showing off their proudest achievements like a parent does with their children.  Sometimes their proudest achievements are not necessarily the most well-known.  My favorites of the evening were:

  • Walter’s Old Photographs which was inspired by Walter reclaiming personal photos from the May 2010 flood here in Middle Tennessee.
  • Jaime’s Untangled which has been a favorite ever since I heard it back in 2000 for the first time.
  • Dave’s Living Inside Your Love about Jaime.  As I told him that night, this song has legs and I wouldn’t be surprised if you hear it on the radio sometime.

Regretfully, someone forgot the keyboard, so we couldn’t hear Jaime’s latest song Grace.  Do yourself a favor and go find this song on YouTube.  You will thank me.  The forgotten keyboard and other technical glitches just added to the evening in my opinion.  It made the performances human and real.  Not some slick over-produced show that is the same night after night.  

My first house concert was a blast and I hope Ric & Helen do more.  It is a great way to listen to music and interact with the artists.  Go find yourself one and go.

Musing on a cold December day…


It Happened Again

music musings, beaverdamusa.comI found the Christmas spirit again.  It was right where I found it a couple of years ago – at a large church in downtown Nashville.  A couple of years ago, I mused about finding the Christmas spirit by listening to of all things – tubas playing Christmas carols (Tuba Christmas).

Regretfully, work prevented me from attending last year, so I made sure my calendar was blocked off to allow plenty of time to make it there for this year’s performance.  The performances have become so popular that there have been two performances for the last few years.  

This year didn’t disappoint.   As I sat in the pew, I again found myself singing along with over 120 tubas as they played through Christmas classics such as Joy to the World, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, and the witty Santa Wants a Tuba for Christmas.  Again, I was amazed at the sound these instruments made.  It truly is surprising how beautiful these instruments are.

Though I didn’t get to go last year, a couple of co-workers went based upon hearing about it from my Musing column.   They loved it and vowed to come back this year.  They kept their promise and even took in both shows!  This year was extra special because my beautiful bride got to attend with me along with a good friend of ours.  Since they were TCVs (Tuba Christmas Virgins), I was worried that they would be disappointed after I had hyped it up so much.  I believe I do have a couple of converts.  

I guess the Joy I feel in sharing Tuba Christmas is indicative of a lot of things.  I am reminded of the old Sunday School song goes “Hide it under a bushel? No!”  We all get caught up in the bustle of Christmas and worry whether we have enough presents.  As I age, I realize that joy comes from sharing experiences and feelings – not necessarily things.  

Take some time this Christmas and throughout the year to share things that make you happy with others.  Whether it is going to an event together or just letting someone know about a great new artist you discovered, share it.  It will bring you and the other person joy.

Peace to you at this Christmastime and go share some joy.  Thanks for reading throughout the year.

Musing in Music City


Recapping the 51st Annual CMA Awards

music musings, beaverdamusa.comHey, remember me?  Yep, I’m back.  You can guess which answer describes where I’ve been:

  • Witness Protection Program
  • Roadie for Sammy Hagar 
  • Stuck in Nashville traffic

I do apologize for the delay between musings.  In all honesty, sometimes life just gets in the way.  What better time to come back than the 51st CMA awards held on Wednesday November 8?  So, here are my thoughts on the show as it unfolded.

  • The show’s opening was very well done with what looked like all of Nashville on stage singing Hold My Hand by Hootie & the Blowfish.  The start with Eric Church singing Amazing Grace a capella was very haunting.  How did they embalm Ronnie Dunn with him still being alive?  
  • Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley’s opening dialogue was spot on, especially when they poked fun at the CMA’s quickly rescinded rules on what the media could ask the performers about.  
  • Single of the Year – my girl Miranda should have won with Tin Man.  Dang short Aussie (Keith Urban) won with Blue Ain’t Your Color.  
  • Song of the year – Again, Tin Man should have won.  Bet Miranda needs comforting. 
  • Dierks Bentley singing My Town by Montgomery Gentry was a nice touch.  The Rascal Flatts dude should have just sat down.  Cool that Eddie Montgomery came out.
  • Here comes Luke Bryan – time to get a drink.
  • My girl Miranda’s outfit sparked a debate between me and the Mrs. on whether certain “assets” were enhanced.  Those earrings…..
  • Garth – thought the sound funky, then he came out the next day and said he had lip synched to save his voice since he was doing something like 12 shows in 10 days.  Not the first to lip synch on an awards show, but wouldn’t have thought he would have done it.  
  • Brothers Osborne – still confuse them with Rocky Top singers.  
  • Tim & Faith – Faith challenging Carrie in the “how much leg can I show” contest.  Did you know that I’ve been in her bedroom?
  • Nice touch to have songwriter Jimmy Webb playing the piano on Little Big Town’s tribute to Glen Campbell, Lineman for the County.  
  • Thank goodness Lo Cash or Florida Georgia Line didn’t win Duo of the Year.  There is still hope.
  • Glad that Musician of the Year is back where it belongs with Mac McAnally.  
  • Stapleton – needs to wash that hair
  • Carrie singing Softly and Tenderly as a tribute to the musicians lost and Vegas victims was spectacular.  Dang allergies.  Carrie showed again that she has some pipes.  She also showed her humanity by getting choked up during the song.  We all did.  
  • Female vocalist –I’m torn between Kelsea and Miranda –but happy that Miranda won.
  • Eric Church – those shades creep me out 
  • That tall girl (not Nicole) behind Keith Urban needs to move.  Makes Keith look even shorter.

I hope you enjoyed my commentary and know that I mean no disrespect to any artist – well, except for Florida Georgia Line and Lo Cash.  It was neat to see all of the country artists come together in the first major event since the Vegas shooting.  

I promise it won’t be as long before the next blog.  


The Perfect Country Song

music musings, beaverdamusa.comFor years, people have said that You Never Even Called Me by My Name (John Prine & Steve Goodman) sung by David Allan Coe was the perfect country song because it mentions all of the requirements for a country song – mama, or trains, or trucks, or prison, or getting drunk.  These are all wrapped up in the final verse:

I was drunk the day my mom got out of prison
And I went to pick’er up in the rain
But before I could get to the station in my pickup truck
She got runned over by a damned ol’ train

That song may be the perfect country song, but I have a theory about what will make a song popular.  Does it involve drinking, mama, or trains?  Maybe.  What is my theory on a guaranteed country hit? Repetition. Not repetition like Hall & Oates who take a single phrase and repeat it a hundred times.  But repetition in which you take a phrase and put it in different scenarios – especially throughout a life.

Maybe it is because people can identify with it as they go through the various stages of their lives.  Maybe it is because that phrase is the hook that you hear.  Either way, I am convinced it works – here are country songs that are written in this manner:

  • How Can I Help You Say Good-bye – Patty Loveless
  • Something in Red – Laurie Morgan
  • There Goes My Life – Kenny Chesney
  • Don’t Take the Girl – Tim McGraw
  • Austin – Blake Shelton 
  • Waitin’ on a Woman – Brad Paisley 

I just ran the numbers based on online sales and I am not sure I can make it on $2.37 a month.  

Oh well, back to the grind.  Thanks for reading.

Musing and looking for a hook in Nashville


A Glimpse into Hell

music musings, beaverdamusa.comVacation time is typically a time where I will read two or three books.  My book selection can range from fiction (Coban, Baldacci, Grisham, etc.) to history books and everything in between.  Over the last few years, I have enjoyed reading autobiographies by some of my favorite musicians such as Sammy Hagar, Jimmy Buffett, Heart, and all of the KISS members’ take on their rise to fame.

nikkiOf all the music books I’ve read, Peter Criss’s Make-up to Break-up – My Life in and out of KISS has been by far the most graphic depiction of the hedonistic “sex, drugs, and rock & roll” lifestyle we all imagine.  Until now.  Meet the new champion – Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue with his 2007 Heroin Diaries.  

I never have been a huge Motley Crue (don’t know how to get those dots above the u) fan.  It’s not that I didn’t like them, I just wasn’t that big of a fan.  I knew their radio hits, but didn’t see them live until 2011 on one of their reunion tours (see Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad from a previous blog life).  The show was loud, foul, and full of every rock and roll cliché’ possible.  I remember seeing a Motley Crue Behind the Music which documented their rock and roll lifestyle.  The one thing I recall most vividly from that show was Ozzy recounting the story of how they were touring with him and basically had a contest to see who could snort what.  Ozzy threw in the towel when they stopped the bus and the Crue snorted a line of ants in the parking lot.

Enough background and on to the book.  Sixx describes himself as one who is constantly scribbling notes, journals, tapes, etc. regardless of his state of mind.  The Heroin Diaries is a one year journal of Sixx’s writing from Christmas 1986 through Christmas 1987.  Alongside each entry, SIxx or others mentioned in the entry, would document their reflections on the entry.   This allows the reader an additional perspective on the entry.  

Not only do you get a glimpse into Sixx’s mind, but you get a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the world of a big time rock & roll machine.  You see how when a band or artist can be used by the record label.  Regardless of what is going on, the label puts the cash cow out there and uses it until it is used up.  

Several things stood out while reading this book – Tommy Lee (Crue’s drummer) and Sixx are dangerous together.  Put Slash from Guns N Roses on the tour with them – hold on to your women and children.  It was exactly what you would expect from a sex, drugs, and rock & roll fantasy on steroids.  Throughout the year there were people that had to see what Sixx was doing to himself, but they apparently turned a blind eye to him.  There were times in his writings that Sixx would acknowledge his addiction and confess to trying to hide it.  He admitted how hard it was to find a vein to shoot up, so he even went as far as shooting up in places (starts with a “p”, ends with an “s” – 5 letters) that make you cringe.

The yearlong diary ends with Sixx resolving to quit cold turkey after he literally died and woke up in the hospital.  Word had gotten around and he actually walked out and saw a candlelight vigil outside the hospital.  Over the last few pages he covers several years and hits the high points of being sober, getting married, having kids and the low points of divorce and falling off the wagon.  

Currently, Sixx can be heard on his syndicated radio show and his new group Sixx A.M.  He is also working on a photography project and who knows what else he has up his sleeve.  The book is truly a glimpse into hell and how someone came out on the other end.  It is a story of reaching out for help and then someone finally pulling themselves out of hell.  All I can say is that I have a new admiration for Nikki Sixx after reading the Heroin Diaries.  I suggest you do the same.

Musing in Music City


Beach Music

music musings, beaverdamusa.comIf you read my last musing, you know that I headed to the beach with the family, and we actually made it back.  While I was lounging in the pool or at the beach, I had plenty of time to think about what kind of music I relate to the beach.

Zach beachMany artists have carved a niche labeled as beach music or perfected the beach bum lifestyle – I wish I had that job!  Names come to mind like the Beach Boys, Pablo Cruise, Kenny Chesney, Sammy Hagar (of late with his Cabo brand) and the king of them all – Jimmy Buffett.  In the case of Mr. Buffett, not only has the beach lifestyle and persona contributed to music and concert sales, but sales of food, liquor, restaurants, and now even retirement villages.

Often we associate songs with the beach even if they aren’t by a “beach” singer/group.  Years ago, it seemed that the radio stations in Florida played songs earlier than the stations at home.  Whether that is true or just perception, I remember many times hearing songs for the first time in Florida.  If you don’t know, I am a beach bum at heart who loves the ocean and all its beauty.

For what it is worth, below is a few (in no particular order) of the songs which I associate with the beach-

  • One Particular Harbor – this Buffett song speaks to going to a particular harbor where the days just disappear.  To me, it is about going to that harbor in your mind.
  • Changing Channels – this Buffet tune is written by the great Mac McAnally and really doesn’t mention beaches.  It is on my beach list because one night many years in Destin, I got to see Mac at Harbor Docks.  He warmed up by playing this intricate song.  Will never forget that.
  • Boys of Summer- this Don Henley classic just naturally begs of the beach since it talks about summer love.  Whenever this song comes on, you just naturally picture yourself cruising in a convertible with your shades on.
  • Rock & Roll Fantasy – I always think about playing this song over & over on the jukebox in the game room at a campground in Destin when I was a mid-teen.  Those times at the Destin campground were examples of lightning in a bottle – met some great people who I still call friends today.
  • Diver Down – this whole Van Halen album takes me to Panama City Beach in the summer of 1982 and our senior trip.  This album had been out a month and Joe Dillingham & I wore it out on the way south.
  • Sailing – yes, the Christopher Cross song from the 80’s.  How can you not imagine the beach and water as this song plays?
  • Second Wind – this is the deep cut on the list.  This song on Darryl Worley’s debut album is about going away and getting your second wind.  It talks about watching the tide roll in until you catch your second wind.
  • When the Coast is Clear – continuing the “getting away” theme is my favorite beach tune.  This Buffett song (written by McAnally) talks about going to the beach after the tourists have gone.  I guess that is why I am drawn to the more remote beaches in my progressing years – it is a time of reflection and rejuvenation.  

As always, thanks for indulging me as I go down memory lane – or should I say, memory beach.   I hope you find your beach wherever it may be and unwind.

Musing on the sand,


The Family That Travels Together…

music musings, beaverdamusa.comAs I type this, I am sitting on a deck looking over the ocean on St. George Island, Florida.  It is my family’s annual pilgrimage to the beach so we can refresh and rejuvenate.  We also need to recover from the ride down which is the premise of this musing…..

Imagine putting Eddie Van Halen, Zac Brown Band, Aretha Franklin, and Lil Dickey in a car together for eight hours.  That happened on the way down to the beach.  Nothing will start a family bickering quicker than music selection.  

The rule used to be that whoever had the wheel controlled the music.  Somehow, this rule got tossed away like last week’s leftovers.  It seems there was a mutiny against my beloved music by the rest of my family.  Keep in mind that there are over 10,500 songs in my library now. I could probably meet their needs, but alas, I was thwarted.  I even attempted to placate them by selecting the 70’s on 7 Sirius channel, but that didn’t work either.

Whether it was my sweet bride’s “do you have anything other than John Waite” or my youngest blurting out “oh my, it is a throwback to the 1930’s”, it was a solid eight hours of verbal abuse at me or tonal abuse to my ears.  The eldest tax deduction proceeded to play something out of an underground dance club in Harlem.  My virgin ears were tormented and there were words that I had to look up.  

However, there are bright spots in this mash up – like when the eldest sings along to Heart’s These Dreams”.  I must have done something right along the way.  I think the lesson learned is we each have our own musical tastes and if we open our ears, we may actually find something new we like.  We just have to listen…..

Working on my playlist for the trip home……


Journey – a Long Road

music musings, beaverdamusa.comI recently watched Pat Monahan of Train induct Journey into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  I would like to say I had a hand in that…..  If you recall, a few months ago, I mused about the Hall and the fact that I voted in the online poll (Rock HoF).  Well, Journey won, so I had a hand in it since I voted for them.

I found a documentary (thought they were just about nude pygmies & polar bears) on Journey a few weeks ago and spent a lazy Saturday afternoon watching it.  Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey  explores Journey’s lead singer, Arnel Pineda’s rise from lounge singer to performing with the very band he idolized.  It is definitely worth the two hours since it also gives a concise history of the band.  

Journey has seen its share of personnel comings, goings, and even comebacks.  There was a time where it really looked like they might implode, but they persevered.  Obviously, the biggest going was Steve Perry’s departure and the search for a lead singer.  During the Hall induction, it was great to see Steve Perry back on stage with his former bandmates.  He showed class in acknowledging his love for the band and especially calling out Arnel and his vocals.  

Journey was part of what I consider my best value concert ever.  Back in high school, I had purchased tickets to see Blue Oyster Cult at Nashville’s Municipal Auditorium.  Why was I going to see Blue Oyster Cult?  To this day, I really don’t know, but I was.  In the days before the internet, one relied on radio stations and newspapers to announce concerts.  Pollstar, Ticketmaster or Stubhub didn’t exist.  The local rock station KDF teased that a major concert announcement was coming and everyone was speculating who it could be.  The Escape album has just been released and I had a hunch the major act would be Journey.  Well, I sold my BOC tickets and waited for the announcement – sure enough, Journey was coming to Nashville.  So my friend Joe & I drove (remember, no internet) to Nashville after school to buy general admission tickets at the Sound Seventy ticket outlet next to Centennial Park.  

Fast forward to the night of the show and we were down on the floor about two hours prior to show time so we could get up close.  Back in those days, there were no “seats” on the floor – you stood, the entire time.  If you hit the floor that typically wasn’t good and involved people in uniforms, etc…  Well the opening act was Loverboy who had just released their sophomore album – Get Lucky. The lead single from that album was Working for the Weekend and they opened with it that night.  I will forever believe for that first song, they were lip synching.  They didn’t any other songs, but for some reason it looked as if they were on that one.  

Next, Journey came out with Steve Perry in the trademark jeans, yellow shirt, and black tuxedo tails.  For the next couple of hours, I had a front row view as they played through their previous songs and most of the Escape album.  One interesting memory is of Jonathon Cain playing guitar while Steve Perry played part of Stone in Love on the keyboards.  I have seen Journey since, but nothing compares to being that close and being blown away by the music and its volume.

So, it was great to see Journey get inducted into the Hall finally.  Oh, I mentioned it was the best value, didn’t I?  The ticket cost $10.  ‘Nuff said.

Musing on Cheap Concert Tickets


The Bathroom List

music musings, beaverdamusa.comI don’t know how it started, but I have always had a phrase to describe artists I have no urge to see.

“I wouldn’t walk across the hall to see ___________ if they were in my bathroom.”

I think this dates back to college and I may have even stolen it from my college roommate, but it still applies today.  There are some artists who I really don’t care about seeing.  I’m not talking about those who I don’t want to see, but those I really wouldn’t go to see even with a free ticket, limo ride, and open bar.  

I started thinking about this when a particular artist was in town recently and everyone I knew was going.  They were asking if I was going and I actually used the phrase.  This made me think about other artists who would make my “bathroom list”.  So here are the top five on Zach’s Bathroom List:

  • Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – this was the band playing in Nashville last week that made this musing possible.  I really think this can be filed under the “everyone likes them, so I don’t” category.  It seems that like in the early 90’s, someone said “let’s make Tom Petty a rock icon” and it started.  He really wasn’t that popular and then BAM!, the is up there with Elvis & Dylan.
  • U2 – I guess I don’t like people with one word names.  What is a Bono anyway?  
  • Hall & Oates/Brooks & Dunn – I lump these together because they are basically the same – one is pop and one is country.  They each have a singer and what I call a tag along.  John Oates & Kix Brooks have a great gig – stand there, play guitar, but you get equal billing and 50%.  Before you start, I know Hall & Oates have that classic gem Maneater [sarcasm font].
  • Adele – while members of my family love Adele, I don’t.  I get her on a songwriting level, but when she sounds like a cat in a rusty blender – no thanks.
  • Dixie Chicks – as I have said it before – you don’t cover my girl Stevie Nicks and get away with it, especially Landslide.  Throw in that “other thing” and I for sure don’t like them. That “other thing” was just another nail in the coffin, so to speak.

So there you have it.  I realize each of these artists probably wouldn’t go see me in their bathroom either – they would actually call 911.  Thanks for indulging me and reading.  Until next time.

Musing in my bathroom (not really, but it tied in with the musing)


King G

music musings, beaverdamusa.comIn my last blog, I mused about my lovely bride and my trip to Memphis and our visit to Elvis Presley’s Graceland.  Of course, that blog was so long ago that April the giraffe was still getting dolled up to go out on the night she got knocked up.  I apologize for the delay.

The Graceland visit was an add-on to the itinerary for us.  Our primary purpose for the visit was to see the one and only Garth Brooks at the FedEx Forum.   I admit that when Garth first took the music country music scene by storm, I didn’t jump on the bandwagon.  First, I wasn’t a country music fan and secondly, I typically am not a bandwagon person.  I mused about my growing admiration for Garth before (Garth Anonymous) and his “secret” show in Nashville (Garth Wows at Secret Nashville Show), so I was excited to get to see the full blown show that was selling millions of tickets across the country.  If you don’t know, Garth will come to a city for a weekend and keep adding shows until demand dwindles.  I just saw that he is doing seven shows in Kansas City.  The Memphis weekend saw three shows (Friday night, Saturday afternoon and night).  

IMG_0533We were lucky enough to get to tour backstage before the show.  While I can’t remember the exact number, the wattage from the amps was well north of one million and the sound board was nothing less complicated than a NASA control panel.  I also learned that all of Garth’s stage and equipment takes 18 tractor trailers to haul.  Wow.

Garth came out a few minutes late, but made up for it by providing two and a half hours of pure showmanship.  He proceeded to put on a greatest hits show and then some.  The 15,000 or so fans sang every word to every song.  Garth could have just had the band play and just sit back and listen to the crowd.  His wife, Trisha Yearwood, came out to sing In Another’s Eyes with her husband during the show and while Garth rested, Trisha treated the crowd to some of her greatest hits.  One of the highlights for me was Georgia Rain in which she had the songwriter, Karyn Rochelle, come sing it with her.  Karyn just happens to be a longtime backup singer for Trisha and Garth.  Speaking of the band, it was a blend of his and her longtime members.  I believe the least tenured member was around 20 years while the longest was Garth’s longtime keyboard player, David Gant who has been with him since before he was signed.  They were all top notch.

IMG_0528One of Garth’s tradition is to come out for his encore and basically take requests.  He spots posters that fans are holding up and then plays those songs.  While the entire show was great, two things stick out for me – the first was a cancer patient on the front row who Trisha highlighted and dedicated a song to early in her set.  When Garth came back out, he found her and then gave her the cowboy hat he had worn for the show.  The other moment and favorite was hearing The Dance.  It is by far, my favorite Garth tune.

IMG_0524In summary – go see Garth.  He gives 120% and was visibly exhausted at the end with his shirt hanging out and he was huffing and puffing.  The man knows how to perform and leave them wanting more.  The irony that my weekend in Memphis was about two kings is not lost on me.  Elvis took the world by storm when he started swiveling those hips and then decades later, the reigning king of entertainment wows tens of thousands in Elvis’s Memphis.  

Musing in Memphis 


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