Archive for the ‘Music’ Category


Of late, every vocabulary-deficient knuckle dragger on Craigslist seems to use the word “vintage” — often several times — when posting an ad for music gear. (I’m waiting with bated breath for them to start using the term “artisanal.”)

So, it seems like an appropriate time to remind readers of what the term actually means.

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VINTAGE, adj. As used on Craigslist, old, overpriced, beat to hell. More simply, “shit,” as in “vintage guitar amp.”

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–from The American Heretic’s Dictionary (revised & expanded)

American Heretic's Dictionary revised and expanded by Chaz Bufe, front cover


Junior Parker

It’s hard to tell you how much I love the music of Herman Parker, Jr., better as known as “Junior Parker” (1932 — 1971), who died at a tragically young age of a brain tumor.

He was a great vocalist, harmonica player, and songwriter.  Today, he’s probably best known for the Grateful Dead’s desecration of his iconic “Next Time You See Me,” which done right (that is, relaxed, behind the beat, punchy on the stops) is one of the most enjoyable songs to play ever written.

(A particularly painful musical memory is of playing a more-or-less-okay version of the tune a decade ago at a pick-up gig, and hearing a bystander say, “I hate that Grateful Dead shit.” If they only knew . . .)

Junior wrote and recorded prolifically during his tragically short life. His recordings are marked by a very high level of musicianship. a hard-edged but smooth sound that was a mix of Chicago-style, jazz-blues, and R&B; and, oh yeah, he wrote dozens of wonderful originals.

His most recognizable tunes are probably “Next Time You See Me,” and “Mystery Train.” The one I love the best, though, is “Crying for My Baby,” which drives like a mother due to the pushed horn punches on the final triplets of the “2” and “4”; (James Brown probably learned a thing or two from Junior about horn punches.)

The best compilation of his tunes/performances is the long-out-of-print and now way overpriced “Junior’s Blues.” But buy damn near any of the collections, and you´ll be pleasantly surprised.

Enjoy.

Joke of the Day 3-29-17

Posted: March 29, 2017 in Humor, Jokes, Music
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Calavera by Miguel Posada

“If we could play a tune on a skeleton as on a marimba, we would be tapping a spinal chord.”

–Stuart Faxon

(The above image is Miguel Posada’s most famous calavera.)


Sharp & Pointed: You grew up in Phoenix, but I can’t imagine you as a shitkicker. What kind of music were you listening to back then?

Al Perry: I don’t know about that. I have some definite shitkicker elements. I’m an intellectual redneck! (Someone else called me that). So it was country around the house, like Marty Robbins and Eddy Arnold. Spent a lot of time in my room with a little transistor radio listening to the AM top 40 of the Sixties, and what was considered oldies back then.

Sharp & Pointed: Who were some of your favorite bands and solo artists then?

Al Perry: I started out with the Beatles, like many of us that age. Then went to Cream, Airplane, Hendrix, and such.

Sharp & Pointed: Has your opinion of them changed over time? If so, how and why?

Al Perry: I don’t like hippie or psychedelic stuff so much any more. Hendrix is still good though I didn’t listen to him for many years. Some of the Cream stuff is too self indulgent for me now. Still like the Beatles, though now I don’t pay as much attention to them as I did. You could not escape them then. They were on the radio all the time. Same with the Beach Boys, who I’ve loved for a long, long time. I don’t even listen to hardly any rock anymore. Bores me. I got through the Seventies on jazz and blues. Parker, Coltrane, Dolphy, Muddy, Clifton, and the like.

Sharp & Pointed: When did you start playing music? What instrument(s)? What styles were you playing?

Al Perry: Had piano lessons for a short time, then guitar. Like this was in third grade. Glad I had them though, they really helped out later. But really, it was well after high school before I became interested enough in playing to take it up. By that time I was sick of rock and was starting to explore blues and jazz. Seventies Rock got REALLY stale. ‘Til the Pistols shook everything up and got me interested again.

Sharp & Pointed: When did you start playing in bands?

Al Perry: In college.

Sharp & Pointed: What kind of music?

Al Perry: My first band was the Subterranean Blues Band here in Tucson. We did OK for the short time we were together. Played parties then later got some great opening slots: Roy Buchanan, John Cougar, Blasters, Fabulous Thunderbirds, maybe more. Don’t remember. Then I was in the Hecklers, a sort of “roots punk band” that was very loud and pretty fun, we were reviewed in Maximum Rock n’ Roll, and Jello Biafra was a fan. I’ve known him for decades now. The Hecklers morphed into the Cattle.

Sharp & Pointed: Who were some of the bands and musicians you were playing with then?

Al Perry: George Howard was vocals and drums in the Subs. Also the late Pat McAndrews on guitar. My buddy Lee Poole. We are still in touch a lot. Same with George.

Sharp & Pointed: Did you do vocals when you started playing in bands, or did that come later? If so, when?

Al Perry: After the Subs I played bass for a couple months in a Southern Rock Band. We actually did an album. Whoa! My first record. Highly prized collectable now. Not. I was only meant to be temporary and left. Lack of interest in that stuff. Then it was the Hecklers. I sang a little in that and wrote all the songs. That morphed into Al Perry and the Cattle.

Sharp & Pointed: You moved from Phoenix to Tucson ages ago. When and why?

Al Perry: I moved away at the first available opportunity, which was school. Had to get out. Hated it in Phoenix.

Sharp & Pointed: Why didn’t you ever move back to Phoenix? Why not?

Al Perry: Haven’t you ever been there? It’s HORRIBLE. Even when I go up I come back as soon as I can. I still have many great friends there though. It’s gotten better there, but I would not want to actually live there. 

Sharp & Pointed: When did you start playing cowpunk (alt-country? whatever)? Why?

Al Perry: I guess that was the Hecklers and then Cattle. Both bands explored roots type music, doing that stuff but with a modern energy. Punk was happening and that injected some fresh whatever into rock. I did not really think that mixing stuff up inappropriately was unusual. It was just what you did. I didn’t try to do anything, it just sort of happened. I guess I was an early inventor of “cowpunk” or at least it’s fun to frame it that way. HAW!

Sharp & Pointed: What’s the best experience you’ve ever had playing music?

Al Perry: Too many to mention, my friend.

Sharp & Pointed: What’s the worst experience you’ve ever had playing music?

Al Perry: WAY too many to mention! HA!

Sharp & Pointed: You play both in bands and as a solo performer. Which do you prefer, and why?

Al Perry: I like bands of course. It is fun to hear your songs fleshed out. It’s also like a gang. I only do solo because I am so lazy anymore.

Sharp & Pointed: What do you like about playing in bands?

Al Perry: Fuckin’ rockin’ out LOUD dude.

Sharp & Pointed: What do you dislike about playing in bands?

Al Perry: Guys messing up my vision. Idiots who don’t have musicianship. It is important to play for the song, not for yourself. Some clowns don’t get that.

Sharp & Pointed: What do you like about solo performing?

Al Perry: The only thing I like about it is that it’s ME and me only that is responsible for the success or failure of any given performance.

Sharp & Pointed: You’re a prolific songwriter. What’s your songwriting process? Or is there more than one?

Al Perry: I am absolutely not prolific, unless you count these instrumentals and stuff, that I just consider thrown together. To me, songwriting is really a vocal, lyrics, verse chorus kind of thing.

Sharp & Pointed: How has the music biz changed over the years?

Al Perry: No one is interested anymore and there are way way way too many people in bands.

Sharp & Pointed: Is it harder or easier to make a living playing music now than it was 20 or 30 years ago? Why?

Al Perry: Much harder. People are not interested.

Sharp & Pointed: Has American pop music (everything from jazz to rock to country) been getting better or worse during your lifetime? Why?

Al Perry: Worse, of course. But I am interested in so many things, there is always something new to discover.

Sharp & Pointed: Are there any aspects of current American pop that you particularly hate?

Al Perry: I actually like some current pop stuff. That comes as a surprise to a lot of people. Kelly Clarkson, Meghan Trainor. Super cheese factor stuff.

Sharp & Pointed: Among relatively recent American bands and musicians, are there any that you particularly like? Why?

Al Perry: I mostly like the groups of my friends. As I said I’m not so interested in rock anymore.

Sharp & Pointed: You have a Youtube channel. What’s its name and what kind of stuff are you putting up on it?

Al Perry: It is alperryism. I put up these dumb little videos I make on imovie. I do some instrumental soundtracks, those are fun.

Sharp & Pointed: What are your musical plans over the next year or two?

Al Perry: I’m officially old now. I find my interest is declining.

Sharp & Pointed: Do you have any advice for young musicians? If so, what?

Al Perry: Buy some drywall tools and learn how to use them, because you are never going to make a living with music. Go into real estate. You are in for a lot of heartbreak and frustration otherwise. Unless you have a trust fund.

Sharp & Pointed: You also do artwork in addition to music. When did you start doing that?

Al Perry: I have always dabbled in it. But in the last few years I started doing these watercolors. It’s actually gone pretty well, and I have even sold some. I was part of a group show at the Fleicher/Ollman gallery in Philadelphia, an established gallery, and it was quite an honor.

Sharp & Pointed: Where can people see some of your artwork?

Al Perry: I think you can look around online. Or get hold of me. I’ll mail you a postcard.

Sharp & Pointed: Other than music and art, what are your other interests?

Al Perry: Drugs, alcohol, contempt, boredom. What kind of question is that? Music and art? Hello! What else is there?


An Understandable Guide to Music Theory front coverby Chaz Bufe, author of An Understandable Guide to Music Theory: The Most Useful Aspects of Theory for Rock, Jazz & Blues Musicians

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Earlier this afternoon, I was talking with my friend Mick Berry, co-author of The Drummer’s Bible: How to Play Every Drum Style from Afro-Cuban to Zydeco, and part of our discussion concerned the good and the bad aspects of being a musician. Here they are, in no particular order:

  • Front cover of The Drummer's Bible Second EditionBeing a musician means you’re never done. There’s always something else you could be doing (such as putting in another hour of practice) that would be musically useful.
  • It provides a constant source of guilt, often at not practicing enough.
  • It provides a constant source of self-doubt. Have one bad rehearsal or practice session and you’ll find yourself asking questions such as, “Who do I think I’m kidding?” and “Why do I even bother?” If, god help you, you have a bad gig, you’ll also get a heaping helping of self-inflicted humiliation (even though the audience won’t notice unless you’re really stinko).
  • Being a musician provides near-constant entertainment, usually in the form of near-constant conflict with other band members.
  • Being a musician is a financial drain, a black hole of expenditure. You’ll never have enough gear, or good enough gear, and gear obsession can easily reach Spinal Tap-like levels of collection frenzy. My pal Abe, who has the disease bad and spends money accordingly, told me recently that his wife walked in on him while he had pictures of guitars on the screen, and she asked him, “Why can’t you just look at porn like other guys?”
  • Being a musician means you’ll probably end up working for minimum wage, if that. In some major cities, there are so few places to perform, and so many musicians who want to perform, that some bars charge bands to play. It’s not that bad here  in Tucson, but pay is still depressingly low. As the old joke goes, a musician is a guy who loads $5,000 worth of gear into a $1,000 car to drive 100 miles for a $50 gig.
  • Being a musician provides you with a constant source of creative frustration if you perform original music. Audiences do not want to hear your originals, no matter how good they are. Rather, they want to hear tunes they already know, no matter how awful, no matter how moldy. This is why the highest paid bands, at least on a local level, are usually tribute bands — which are a tribute on the part of audiences to musical sloth and on the part of musicians to musical despair.
  • Finally, being a musician means that you’ve discovered, and hold in your hot little hands, the only thing that makes life worth living.

“It should be simple

For us to get along

‘Cause I’m always right

And you are always wrong”

–Al Perry and the Cattle, “Little by Little,” off the “Losin’ Hand” CD

Drummer Humor

Posted: February 12, 2017 in Humor, Music
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Since I moved to Tucson 25 years ago, I’ve played (“playing” meaning at least one paying gig) with 4 vocalists, 3 bassists, and roughly 20 drummers — I lost exact count ages ago, and I’m not even counting the ones that spontaneously self-combusted.

So, I appreciated the following ad that just appeared in the Musicians section of Tucson’s Craigslist, and have a hunch you might, too. Enjoy!


Qualified, Easygoing Drummer at Your Service

Decades of experience and a professional demeanor, I am the drummer you’ve been looking for.

I do not have a car and I do not have my own drums. I love to drink and I like to hit people in the mouth when I’ve had a few. I’ve hurt people before and I’ll do it again.

I will not learn your original material unless I’m paid $75 per hour per gig and I must be paid in advance. I do not know many covers and cannot commit to learning new ones unless I really dig the song.

My influences include Staind, P.O.D., the theme song to Malcolm in the Middle, and old Black Eyed Peas.

Additionally, I will need to crash with you for a while, as I do not have any source of income outside of my musical endeavors.

I cannot stress enough how much your band needs me at the rhythmic helm of the rock and roll ship. Call now.

Also, I do have a small narcotics habit.


About the only thing the anonymous genius who produced this forgot to add was, “Great rhythmic control. I can either rush or drag — I’m in control!”