This Is Me--2019 A to Z Theme

The Challenge of 2019 was the 10th! Since this was kind of a milestone year for A to Z my theme was a retrospective of sorts, looking at my 10 years as a blogger as well as ruminations about my life as it is and as I hope it yet can be. I've got places to be and people to see along the way. Hope you'll join me for this part of my journey...

Always a work in progress--welcome to my blog.

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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Take Your Percussion and Beat It! ( #BOTB Results )

    I don't know about my own six degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon, but I know about my personal connection to Paul Kohler and Dennison Jackson--the musicians in my most recent Battle of the Band match.   Here is that story...


       My first years of life were spent in Cleveland, Ohio.  This would have been from 1951-58 when the vaudevillian concept of variety shows took to the dance floors of night clubs across the United States.  Television was becoming an entertainment force with which to contend, but still Americans enjoyed nights out on the town filled with revelry and entertainment.

       During those years my parents worked most weekends in this club circuit performing their juggling act.  As a child I remember hearing the names of certain other performers popping up in my parents' conversations, and on occasion some of these acts would even stop at our house to visit. 

        There were quite a number of nationally known performers living in and around Cleveland at the time.  Over time acts would cross paths and form friendships.  One of my favorite acts was Paul Kohler.  He had established himself as the national xylophone champion in 1937 and had been a hot ticket on the show circuit for many years.

         I was fortunate enough to see Kohler's act on a few occasions.  Being a child at the time, I particularly liked his Christmas show where he would dress up in a bear costume and play his novelty xylophone numbers.  He'd be billed as "The Kohler Bear" and why wouldn't a kid like that?  For me though, his best musical novelty was when he'd play a flashy xylophone (or marimba) with dazzling lights using lighted percussion mallets.  It was pure eye candy combined with musical virtuosity.

          After we moved to San Diego California in 1959 the night club and show circuit basically dried up for my parents   During those few years my father began encouraging my younger sister to enter talent contests in the region.  With a unique act that combined acrobatic dancing with juggling and magic tricks, my sister started winning most every contest she entered.  Eventually her act made it to the top state competition in Sacramento.

          There's not much I remember about that contest that probably was in 1962.  My sister didn't win, but she came out as a finalist.  What I do remember is a teenage drummer who wowed the crowd with his drumming.  Beyond that--and what really captured my appreciation--this drummer had his kit and sticks painted with colorful fluorescent paints which, when the stage lights were doused and the stage was illuminated by black light, created a psychedelic display that drove the audience wild.

          As I figured was his due, that young drummer captured the top place in that talent show.  The name of that drummer was Dennison Jackson and he was the inspiration for my most recent Battle of the Bands...


Battle of the Bands Results



     
            I figured this would be just a silly slow summer Battle, but actually it was one of the closest races I've seen from beginning to end.  Going in I had no idea who would win this pairing and judging from the responses I'd say this was as much a vote on instrument preference as it was on artists talents (which both artists have an abundance of in my opinion).

           Close race that this was I ended up with the deciding vote.  It was a tough one for me, but based on childhood sentiments and a musical preference for xylophone I gave my vote to Paul Kohler...

Final Vote Tally

Paul Kohler                9

Dennison Jackson      8


Next Battle of the Bands on Sunday September 1st

          Yeah, it's almost fall.   I remember having this lament not so seemingly long ago, but it was really a year ago.   No point in saying much more than that.








Thursday, August 15, 2019

hard to beat Battle ( #BOTB ) Kohler vs Jackson


Look out folks cause here it comes:  The clink of the xylophone and the beating of drums!   Are you annoyed yet?...


Image result for rush drum kit
Neil Peart's drum kit. Photo by John Leyba, denverpost.com/reverb

       Over the years I've amassed a number of live concert albums.  Aside from distracting crowd sounds, one of the most dreaded moments for me of any concert recording is the drum solo.  Sometimes they are fantastic with a high level of creativity, but often--for me--it is agonizing filler that I might tend to skip over when it becomes too much for my listening enjoyment.

       For most of us there are likely certain musical instruments that can be grating to us at certain times (or maybe all the time).  I've come to appreciate just about any musical effort by someone who has honed their craft to some degree so I might be more musically tolerant than some of you.  But I can understand where some of you might not want anything but small doses of some instrument like the bagpipes (sorry John Holton).

       A few of you in my previous Battle commented about listening to harp music was something that was preferred in small to very small doses.  I guess this surprised me since I've always found harp music to be rather pleasant and relaxing. Guess it's just not everyone's thing.

         Maybe some of you feel the same about the xylophone. I have a great fondness for the xylophone though there are times when I'm in no mood to hear xylophone--at least not in the forefront of the music.  But a well placed xylophone part in a musical piece can be magical.

          For me, an instrument that you beat (in other words most percussion--and that includes drums and xylophones) can be extremely annoying just like someone beating on my head.  I've listened to  percussion ensemble pieces and I can't say that I'm a big fan.  I admire the skills.  I'm just not buying the record.

          But sometimes a percussion artist can pull off being center stage.  And when they're good they can be a joy to watch.  This "hard to beat" Battle between percussionists has been lingering in my queue for quite some time.  There's actually a story about my connection to these artists, but I'll save that for my Results post since those tend to be short anyway.

          So in the spirit of short music clips for the summer doldrums, hope you enjoy this kind of peculiar Battle...

Battle of the Bands


Battle of the Bands is the blogging event started by Far Away Series and now hosted by StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands.   This event happens each month on the 15th and on some blogs there is also a Battle on the 1st of the month.  My blog is one of those with a second Battle on the 1st of the month.   The premise is simple:  Listen to the songs presented below and then in the comments vote for your favorite and tell us why you liked it.  Then visit the links listed near the bottom of this post for more Battle action.


         No explanations for now.   Here are two clips of two different artists who beat their instruments.  Which performance do you like best?

Paul Kohler on Xylophone  (1951)





Dennison Jackson on Drums (2013)





Time to Vote!

    Enjoy what's left of summer, but first of all whip through this Battle and give us your verdict.  Listen to each video clip and judge solely on what you hear.  Which artist do you like best?   Pick one and have some fun!  You don't have to know about music to have an opinion since it all comes down to your own personal taste.

         Please vote on your favorite by letting us know your choice in the comment section and tell us why you prefer the version you chose. Then after you've finished here, please visit the other blogs listed below who may or may not be participating this time around. And if you've put up your own BOTB contest let us know that as well so we can vote on yours.




Here are some other places where you might find BOTB posts:

 StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands

  'MIKE'S RAMBLINGS'

'Curious as a Cathy'

Sound of One Hand Typing

Angel's Bark  


Debbie Doglady's Den

Jingle, Jangle, Jungle 


Cherdo on the Flipside

A I Love Music


Winner of this Battle Announced on Wednesday August 21st

         Don't forget to see which artist grabs the most votes in this match.  And remember, I've got a story to tell about the artists in this Battle.  I guess it's kind of like my six degrees of separation story except it's only one degree.  Come back then.  For now I guess I'll just beat it...

        What musical instrument annoys you most?   What instrument can you listen to just about anytime and for extended periods?   Do you play or have you tried to learn to play any instruments?




Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Surprise, Surprise! ( #IWSG & #BOTB results )

       I've reached a point in my life where not much surprises me other than the things in the world that are out of my control--and really those things shouldn't surprise me much either...


The Insecure Writer's Support Group

Join us on the first Wednesday of each month in Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group--a forum of writers who gather to talk about writing and the writer's life. For a complete list of participants visit Alex's Blog





The co-hosts for the August 7 posting of the IWSG are Renee Scattergood,Sadira Stone, Jacqui Murray, Tamara Narayan, and LG Keltner!



August 7 question - Has your writing ever taken you by surprise? For example, a positive and belated response to a submission you'd forgotten about or an ending you never saw coming?

        I can't say that my writing has necessarily taken me by surprise at any particular time other than when I've gone back to read writing from 30 or 40 years ago that actually sounds pretty good to me.  But then, I've got strange tastes.  For me, since high school and college, my writing has gone rather dormant.  If not had been for blogging and a couple goes at NaNoWriMo, my writing of the past decade might have been insignificant as in none to not very much. 

         Thanks to blogging I at least feel compelled to write certain things, but it's more like a homework assignment these days than any overpowering desire to write.  It's almost like I've sealed myself in a cocoon and am waiting for some exultative release from an inner funk.  

          Waiting could take forever and I ain't got time for that now...

Battle of the Bands Results



         I figured my recent Battle between Harpo Marx and Robert Maxell performing "From the Land of Sky Blue Water" would be a sweeping win for the zany harp player from the Marx Brothers.  He was my vote (after all, it was his clip that made me search out a competing version for a Battle of the Bands match) and I just kind of assumed that most voters would be inclining toward Harpo over the more obscure Robert Maxwell.

        Boy!  Was I wrong about that!

Final Vote Tally

Harpo Marx             5 votes

Robert Maxwell        11 votes


Next Battle on Thursday August 15th!










Thursday, August 1, 2019

From the Land of Sky Blue Water (#BOTB)

I'm not in Minnesota or even anyplace that might be called "Land of Sky Blue Waters", but considering I'm somewhere in the desert then water sounds pretty good right now...

Random photo that kind of relates to this post but not really.

Battle of the Bands

Battle of the Bands is the blogging event started by Far Away Series and now hosted by StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands.   This event happens each month on the 15th and on some blogs there is also a Battle on the 1st of the month.  My blog is one of those with a second Battle on the 1st of the month.   The premise is simple:  Listen to the songs presented below and then in the comments vote for your favorite and tell us why you liked it.  Then visit the links listed near the bottom of this post for more Battle action.

From the Land of Sky Blue Water

       No, this song is not from the Hamm's beer commercial that I recall hearing when I was a kid.  If you weren't around before 1970 or so, you likely don't remember that jingle which was indeed inspired by the original popular song from 1909. 

        This song first caught my attention a while back when I saw the Marx Brothers' film Go West and immediately wondered, "Is there a Battle of the Bands somewhere in this?"  As things tend to go in this BOTB phase of my blog, yes, there is a Battle to be played starting with the Harpo Marx version of the tune.

Harpo Marx   "From the Land of Sky Blue Water"  (1940)

      I always thought Harpo's harp routines were so clever and well performed from a musical standpoint.  Now this clip might be seen as inappropriate in some ways, but that's what the Marx Brothers were all about, weren't they?   Enjoy this first entry...





Robert Maxwell  "From the Land of Sky Blue Water"  (1962)

        Space-pop novelty jazz artist Robert Maxwell wrote or performed a lot of stuff that you've heard but didn't know what you were listening to.  One of my favorites was the "Song of the Nairobi Trio" which was used in a recurring sketch on "The Ernie Kovacs Show" in the early sixties.  Even though some of the more sophisticated comedy went over my 10 year old head, that show was a big favorite of mine back then.  Recently I saw some episodes on TCM when they were promoting a newly released DVD set that is still available.  I was tempted to get it, but then I look at all the various media I have now and figure I don't need more stuff.

       But enough rambling.   Must be the space age pop music.   Get ready for take off...






Time to Vote!

     Like I said, this is kind of a weird Battle perhaps, but give it a shot if you will.   The video might weigh things in a certain direction, but it's worth watching.  Or just listen to each tune and judge solely on what you hear.  Which artist do you like best?   Pick one and have some fun!  You don't have to know about music to have an opinion since it all comes down to your own personal taste.

         Please vote on your favorite by letting us know your choice in the comment section and tell us why you prefer the version you chose. Then after you've finished here, please visit the other blogs listed below who may or may not be participating this time around. And if you've put up your own BOTB contest let us know that as well so we can vote on yours.




Here are some other places where you might find BOTB posts:

 StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands

  'MIKE'S RAMBLINGS'

'Curious as a Cathy'

Sound of One Hand Typing

Angel's Bark  


Debbie Doglady's Den

Jingle, Jangle, Jungle 


Cherdo on the Flipside

A I Love Music


Winner of this Battle Announced on Wednesday August 7th
   
           This will also be my next posting for The Insecure Writers Support Group.  At the moment though I'm not thinking much about writing.  I'm keeping my eyes on the road and my hands upon the wheel and enjoying my last couple days coming home.

         Is coming home one of your favorite parts of a vacation?  Are you an Ernie Kovacs fan?   Do you enjoy zany humor like Kovacs and the Marx Brothers?