Category Archives: original content

Greeting from Germany!

Paul is vacationing in Germany! Yesterday we spent the day in Cologne – a really beautiful city, including the stunning cathedral. And yes we climbed the 500 step spiral staircase to the top!

When we were leaving this group of young people set up in the public square in front of the cathedral in the rain to busk. As you can see from video this wasn’t just one or two on guitar or horn but a group of 10 – full horn section with percussion. I have no idea who they were or what they were playing but I thought it was pretty cool to hear.

Sweet Child O’ Mine as performed by a Double Bass Orchestra

Some of you know that my teenage son plays the double bass.  Every summer for the past few years he has attended a week long music camp in Baltimore called BassWorks – all bass players, just bass players.  One of the highlights of the week is the final concert where the entire orchestra of 82 bassists plays a classical number and a “pop” number.

I was excited when I heard they were going to be doing Guns N’ Roses, and it doesn’t disappoint.  See what you think!

The Smithereens (with guest lead vocalist Marshall Crenshaw)

Last night I got to see some live music. That’s not a shocking statement for me. I love live music. A friend and I went to see the Smithereens play at musikfest café in Bethlehem. It’s a small venue seating about 350 people.

The Smithereens made a name for them selves locally mostly in the late 80s and early 90s. They had several top 50 hits and a few videos on VH1 and MTV. They never made it really big but over the years they’ve  continued to record on and off.

Founding member, lead vocalist and principal songwriter Pat DiNizio unfortunately passed away in 2017 after a series of injuries and other  health problems. That was seemingly the end of the band however they are embarking on a tour this year and recruited veteran singer Marshall Crenshaw,who had done some work with the band in its early days, to take over as lead vocalist. After watching their two hour plus show last night I can say that they made the right choice.

The band sounded great, they were tight and the vocals were terrific. The show felt like  part tribute to their lost brother and part pure celebration of the music. They spoke lovingly at times of Pat and how some of the songs were created. They still played with the passion and joy that often seems to elude musicians who’ve been playing much of the same music for 30+ years. These guys were childhood friends and it still shows.

They of course played their hits, including “Only a Memory”, and closed the show with “A Girl Like You” their biggest hit but the stand out for me was “Blood and Roses” They also threw in a couple covers including the Beatles and Interlude in the middle of one long guitar solo where the  Who popped in.

By now, people my age are used to seeing their rock ‘n’ roll heroes perform and tour well into their 60s and 70s. Jagger and Springsteen and Townsend though, are playing in front of 50,000+ fans and are getting PAID.

These guys are playing in front of 350 really appreciative fans. They’re not getting rich and they’re not going to be famous* but they’re doing it for the love of the music. They are soldiering on without a key founding member and that’s pretty cool

  • They HAVE been inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame!

New Music Discoveries

Love Keep Kicking – Martha

I included a song by this band in a January new music post (here), although the song Heart is Healing was actually from 2018, and was a teaser for a forthcoming album.  Well, they have a new single out, Love Keeps Kicking, which is the title track for the album due April 5 on Dirtnap Records.  Like Heart is Healing, Love Keeps Kicking is a smart pop punk song with a catchy as hell guitar line about the travails of love.

You said love keeps kicking the shit out of me and there’s no solution I can see
No happy pill, no drinking bleach, no permanent lobotomy


Seventeen – Sharon Van Etten

From her 5th studio album, Remind Me Tomorrow, Seventeen is Sharon Van Etten‘s homage to her old neighborhoods in NYC, and how her favorite haunts have disappeared or permanently changed.  Its also her talking to her seventeen old self, with both nostalgia for the way she used to be, knowledge of what she did right (or not) back then, and conjecture as to how her teenage self would view her adult self.  Much more expansive than her previous work (the addition of synths helps), the song continues to grow on me with every repeated listen.



Maggie Rogers – Fallingwater

Maggie Rogers is a 24 year old singer/songwriter from the Eastern Shore of MD who incorporates electronica influences into folk song structures.  She first gained some attention a few years ago when Alaska, a composition class song she put together for a masterclass with Pharrel Williams visibly moved him (you can see the video here).  I first saw her when she opened for Mumford & Sons last year here in DC.  Fallingwater is from her debut album Heard It in a Past Life. I love her voice, and also that a 24 year old local is doing her own thing, blazing her own trail into pop music.


Killer – Palehound

Palehound is a guitar trio from Boston led by Ellen Kempner on guitar and vocals, Larz Brogan on bass, and Jesse Weiss on drums who formed in 2014.  I heard this song on a NPR Music new music show and was immediately taken by its dark, moody atmospheric feel, the whispering vocals, and the ominous lyrics about protecting your friends whatever it takes (literally).  The guitar line propels the song along, and the lyrics give enough clues for you to know that the man who mistreated the singer’s friend will not have a happy ending.

When you winced and turned your head and wept, that’s when I knew
That it’s not enough to run that dog out of this town
My weapon’s cold in the backseat, hunt that monster down


Til next time….