Sunday, December 13, 2009

New Video for Carolyn Sills' George Bailey

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Founder of Dungeons and Dragons Dies

Today marks a sad day for fantasy role players everywhere. Gary Gygax, co-founder of the Dungeons and Dragons game, died today. He was 69. The members of Silent Stereo Records are not ashamed to admit that our formative years were dominated by two things: music and Dungeons and Dragons. In fact, the two often went hand in hand, as we listened to Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath while embarking on our imaginative adventures.
Dungeons and Dragons has changed and evolved from the game we used to play as children. But we are still steadfast fans of the original incarnations of the game. Like analog recordings, the original version of the game still holds a certain beauty and simplicity about it and while later versions added more bells and whistles, it is the first incarnation of the game that we remember most dearly.

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Nashville Trip

We took a little trip to down to Nashville last week. On our way, we stopped by the Carter Family Fold in Hiltons, VA. For any fans of traditional country/bluegrass music, the Fold is a must see. Every Saturday, people gather at the fold to hear some great music, some corny jokes, and dancing, all under the watchful eyes of the spirits of A.P., Mother Maybelle, Sara, June, Anita, Johnny Cash, and many other legends. Honoring the legend of the Carters, the performances have a religious element to them and no profanity or bad behavior is tolerated.
Once in Nashville, we took in all the history. The first floor of the Country Music Hall of Fame is so full of music lore that one could easily spend two or three hours up there. The second floor was less exhilarating for me, as I'm not very interested in the likes of Garth Brooks and Travis Tritt, but entering the rotunda, with plaques bearing the names of Patsy Cline, Hank Williams, Jimmie Rodgers, and others is a special experience.
So too is entering the Ryman Auditorium. Here is where the Grand Ole Opry used to perform. Just going up on the stage and walking the aisles of the legendary theater is treat enough, but the hall also holds a fair amount of memorabilia.
Unfortunately, the current music scene in Nashville isn't exactly what I expected. I stopped in at Tootsies, the bar behind the Ryman where Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings would go drinking, to hear some local music. Suffice it to say that the band played some Garth Brooks, as well as "Play That Funky Music," and "Another Brick in the Wall." Not exactly the music I was looking for. Fortunately, the drummer only used his double bass pedal a few times.
Either way, the city of Nashville is definitely worth visiting. You can truly feel the presence of all the great artists who passed through the city on their way to music stardom.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Winchester, VA

Two weeks ago we took a little trip to Winchester, VA, birthplace of Patsy Cline. After traveling down Patsy Cline memorial highway, we arrived at a small, nondescript graveyard. Patsy's grave would have been all but anonymous--she's buried under her married name, Virginia Dick,--were it not for the wreath and card someone had left on Patsy's birthday. However, in another part of the graveyard was erected a memorial bell tower with Patsy's name on it.
The town of Winchester itself made little mention of Patsy Cline, although a Patsy Cline museum is slated to open next year and one drug store where she worked had a cardboard cut out of her in the window.

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Monday, July 16, 2007

Who Would You Rather Watch?

This past week, Silent Stereo friends The Dansettes backed up two soul pioneers, the Mighty Hannibal and Young Jesse at a raucous show in Brooklyn. It was amazing to see the effort these two gentlemen, both in their late sixties at the very least, put into performing. When Young Jesse and Hannibal weren't regaling the band with tales of their encounters with Sam Cooke, Wilson Pickett, Ray Charles, and the Beach Boys, these two dynamos told the band in no uncertain terms what live performing was all about. Even though the two men have been friends for more than forty years, each of them saw it as his duty to try to blow the other performer off the stage. The show was an event, with Hannibal and Young Jesse both dressed to the nines, each of them exhorting the crowd to give them more, each of them straining the limits of his vocal cords. All in the name of a good show and bragging rights at the end. Now compare that to your typical, "too cool for school" modern band. Many of these performers act like it's a drag for them to be up there on stage. Who would you rather watch? I'll take Hannibal and Young Jesse any day.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Birthplace of Rock?

Check out this interesting article from the New York Times about the dispute between two South Jersey towns--Gloucester City and Silent Stereo fave, Wildwood. Both are claiming standing as the birthplace of rock and roll after hosting early Bill Haley gigs.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Al Jackson, Where Have You Gone?

I just listened to all of Booker T & the MGs "Soul Men" album, 25 tracks, over an hour of music. Not once--not once--did the great Al Jackson do any cheesy hi-hat garbage. Drummers and other musicians will know what I'm talking about: opening the hi-hat on the upbeats, using two hands on the hi-hat, throwing in 16th notes during the beat. All he did was lay down an amazing, yet simple, groove, around which the whole song builds.
Jackson's drumming was a stark contrast to the performance I witnessed today. Booker T. Jones, Donald "Duck" Dunn, and Steve Cropper played an outdoor show today in Brooklyn backed by that master of soul drumming, Anton Fig (of Late Night with David Letterman fame). Now clearly, Fig is quite technically accomplished as a drummer and I would go so far as to say that he perhaps could emulate Jackson's style if he so desired. But he didn't. Instead of a faithful tribute to the subtlety and soul of Al Jackson, I was subjected instead to tasteless overplaying. It was bad enough that Fig overused the splash and china cymbals; when he started in with the double bass pedal I was apopolectic. The worse thing about is that Fig could have enhanced the music simply by playing less--it took more effort to ruin the songs than it would to just lay back and let the rest of the guys do their thing.
Technical ability is of obvious importance in music, but so is the ability to listen. I'm not sure what Fig listened to in order to prepare to play with Booker T, but it wasn't Al Jackson.

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