Thursday, March 27, 2008

Another 15 Minutes...

… or was it 20? A chance meeting in a Burnsville Wendy’s led me to my latest shot at fame last night. I’d heard from the fella that overheard my conversation with my wife about learning to play the harmonica that Renegade’s Bar in Burnsville has an open jam every Wednesday night. So I trucked on up to Renegade’s last night and reconnected with my new found friend, who runs sound for a Twin Cities band called “Plain White Toast.” I was invited up to sit in on drums (I’m not quite brave enough to try guitar yet…maybe next week) where I managed to make it through a CCR medley and that old blues chestnut, “Red House.” It was great fun and I’d like to give a big shout out to Nick, Dave and Tiger (and of course, to Howie, for letting me use his drums), and all the folks at Renegade’s, for making it so much fun and helping me to feel at home. To tide you over until next Wednesday, here's a little blues by the master. Check ‘em out at,, and, and keep on rockin'!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Here We Come...

Walkin' down the street...Today in rock history, the last episode of The Monkees TV show was broadcast in 1968. It was their 58th show filmed in a little over 2 years. The series, starring Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith, Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork, was officially cancelled (as was Batman), by the hosting network a few months later. Tork would be the first to leave the group, later that same year, and his face would be conspicuously absent on the cover of the group’s next album," Instant Replay." I was always a big Monkees fan. You have to remember that they were big in my formative years - age 15 to 17 - and they appeared on Saturday morning TV, just like the cartoons I always watched when I was younger. It was probably just as well that they got cancelled - they were getting pretty weird there toward the end, no longer the cute little living dolls that we counted on to make us laugh every Saturday morning. Mickey had curled his hair and was probably smoking dope between takes in his dressing room, Nesmith was getting sick of it all, Davy had taken tambourine-shaking to the limit, and Peter - well, Peter was still goofy, it's true. So let's take a look back at the Monkees in their prime, and you can see why they were called "The Pre-Fab Four" before anyone had heard of "The Rutles." Thanks as always to for the info, and keep on rockin!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Eve of Destruction

The other day I was engaging in one of my favorite pastimes - browsing the cutout bin at my local record store for bargains. I came across a brand new Rhino re-issue of "P. F. Sloan's Greatest Hits," still in its plastic wrapper, a lucky find. For those of you who aren't familiar with Mr. Sloan, he was one of the pioneers of the folk-rock scene in L. A. in '65 and '66; writer of such tunes as "Secret Agent Man" for Johnny Rivers,"Where Were You When I Needed You?" for the Grassroots, "Let Me Be" and "You Baby" for the Turtles, among others; he was the mystery vocalist on Jan and Dean's "The Little Old Lady from Pasadena," and an accomplished writer, producer and studio musician. He was also a performer; when I heard this album of tunes from the heyday of his career, they just knocked me out; they are still as relevant and fresh as they were over 40 years ago. Oh, and he also wrote this little ditty for Barry McGuire - you may have heard of it...

Monday, March 17, 2008

Had To Cry Today

Today in rock history, Rick Grech (Blind Faith) died in 1990, from drug related causes. Born in Bordeaux, France in 1946, Grech was a versatile, accomplished, and sought after British rock musician. He originally gained fame in the United Kingdom as the bass player for the progressive rock group “Family.” In the spring of 1969, former Cream guitarist Eric Clapton and former Traffic frontman Steve Winwood formed the supergroup Blind Faith; in need of a bassist, they immediately recruited Grech, whom they'd both jammed with when Clapton was in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and Winwood was in the Spencer Davis Group. Grech recorded the first Blind Faith album with Clapton, Winwood, and drummer Ginger Baker, a former bandmate of Clapton's in Cream. Their self-titled debut album was regarded as a disappointment by critics, but Cream and Traffic fans in America enjoyed it, and the quartet toured the U.S. to support it. Clapton was disappointed with the quality of the music and the performances, and Blind Faith called it quits. After Blind Faith, Grech was active as a studio musician and made two unsuccessful attempts to form rock groups, but he eventually hooked up with another supergroup, KGB, in 1974. Consisting of Grech on bass, Michael Bloomfield (ex-Paul Butterfield Blues Band and Electric Flag) on guitar, Carmine Appice (ex-Vanilla Fudge, Cactus and Beck, Bogert and Appice) on drums, Barry Goldberg on keyboards, and Ray Kennedy (co-writer of "Sail On, Sailor") on vocals, the group released its homonymous debut that year. Grech and Bloomfield immediately quit after its release, stating they never had faith in the project. The album was not critically well received. Eventually Grech grew tired of the rock scene and retired in 1977, returning to Leicester to sell carpets. He eventually developed a drinking problem, and in 1990 he died due to a brain hemorrhage. Let’s celebrate Rick’s life with this video from Blind Faith’s brief career. As always, thanks to www. and for the trivia, and keep on rockin’

Personal to Mr. Whoamus - check out what Clapton's playing - another Tele attack!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

He's a 'Bird

Today in rock history, Eric Clapton left The Yardbirds in 1965 due to musical differences with the other band members. Clapton wanted to continue in a bluesier mode, while the rest of the group preferred the more commercial appeal of the soon-to-be-released, “For Your Love.” The band proved to be a fertile breeding ground for lead guitarists Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Jeff Beck, who all got their start there. I think at one time, in 1966, Beck and Page were in the group at the same time, resulting in the single "Happenings Ten Years Time Ago”, which features their twin lead guitar attack (with future band mate John Paul Jones brought in to play bass). Unfortunately, no other recordings exist that showcase their twin lead artistry, and Page ended up playing bass on some of their recordings and live shows. What a waste! Jim McCarty and Chris Dreja reformed the Yardbirds in the 1990s, with John Idan handling bass and lead vocals, and touring regularly since then with a number of guitarists and harmonica players passing through their ranks. According the Total Rock website, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page are to possibly rejoin the Yardbirds for a reunion tour some time in 2008, and wouldn’t that be cool! Here is a sample of the “new” Yardbirds. Thanks to and for the trivia, and keep on rockin’!

Friday, March 7, 2008

High Grass Dogs

On this date in rock history, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers played the first of seven sold out dates at The Fillmore in San Francisco in 1999. It was a return to playing live after a two year break. Performances from The Fillmore gigs were filmed and released later in the year on the home video, High Grass Dogs: Live from The Fillmore. The 90 minutes of footage includes renditions of songs from throughout Petty’s career. A strange name for a concert, but then, maybe it means something to Mr. Petty. If you saw them at the Super Bowl half-time show, you know that Petty and the Heartbreakers are still out there layin' 'em down. Here's a preview from the Petty documentary film, "Runnin' Down a Dream." Thanks to for the trivia, please visit, and keep on rockin'!