Sunday, October 21, 2018

Wateshed Nature Center - 10/20/2018

A few images from a Saturday walk at Watershed Nature Center....  Really nice day, quite windy, though.

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Lots of effects here:

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I was near the back of the watershed when I heard a train, so I hustled out to see it:

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And lest anyone worry about such things, I did NOT pass the no-trespassing sign.  Even though it seems to be a little  ... ...  unclear.  That train was rocking, I was close enough for my tastes anyway.

Charleston SC Part 3 - Drayton Hall (Exterior)

On eof our day trips during our Charleston SC trip was to Drayton Hall.  Drayton Hall is an un-restored 18th century estate.  As noted at  National Trust for Historic Preservation site:  "Established in 1738, Drayton Hall is an icon of colonial America architecture and identity. After seven generations of family ownership, the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, and devastating hurricanes and earthquakes, the main house remains in nearly original condition. Never modernized with electric lighting, plumbing, or central heating or air conditioning, the main house is unfurnished, allowing the beauty of the architectural details to become the focus for visitors. Surrounded by ancient live oaks and bordered by the historic Ashley River, the entire site—including the historic grounds with its broad vistas, vanished structures, and rare period features—serves as a testimony to America’s heritage"

We really enjoyed this place.  Very fascinating place, beautiful grounds, great stories.  One interesting thing:  The interior of the house is not restored.  Bare wallsopen spaces.  I gather some folk don't really like that, but it really allowed me to feel the space.  Look for another post of interior photos.

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Saturday, October 20, 2018

Album Review - Jules And The Polar Bears - Got No Breeding

Artist:  Jules And The polar Bears
Album:  Got No Breeding
Released:  1978

Jules and the Polar Bears was a short lived band from the late 70's.  I have a promo version of this album, which was given to me by my freshman year (college) roommate.  I think his girlfriend got it from the Duke newspaper, or maybe the radio station.  They gave me a couple of albums back then, stuff they didn't like.  And all of which I did!

The promo package, besides the gold stamp, includes an 8x10 promo photo of the band, and a 2 page typed bio from Columbia records.  Rather cool.  

Jules and The Polar Bears was centered on songwriter Jules Shears.  He's probably best known for writing the Cyndi Lauper hit "All Through The Night". 

This is a really strong album, very very good.  A little hard to describe, which may be part of the reason they didn't catch on.  Some of the songs kind of remind me ever so slightly of early Police, but not the "white reggae" stuff.  Think "Next To You" or  "No Time This Time".  Or maybe it's just the semi-similarity of vocal style between Jules Shear and Sting.  Or maybe not...  Anyway, here's how Allmusic describes it:

Jules and the Polar Bears' debut album, Got No Breeding, fell into a commercial twilight zone shortly after its release in 1978; the music was too quirky and the wit of the lyrics was too curious for the mainstream rock audience, but the band's approach was too firmly rooted in mainstream pop for the new wave crowd, who Columbia thought would be the record's likely target audience (and the shaggy picture of Jules Shear and his band-mates on the cover wasn't likely to encourage the skinny-tie wearing record buyer). However, in time Got No Breeding became a cult favorite, and with good reason -- it's a superlative collection of smart, well-crafted pop tunes played with enthusiasm and élan by a great band.

It has been one of my favorite records since I got it.  Or at least one of my favorite obscure records! 
My favorite songs include: Driftwood From Disaster, Shadows Break, You Just Don't Wanna Know, Convict, Got No Breeding.  There are no weak songs.

Back Cover:

Inner sleeve:

Charleston SC - Part 2, Waterford Park

Way, way, way behind on processing photos from our South Carolina trip...

Here's a few more from 10/1/2018, our fist evening in town.  We walked from the hotel down Market Street, then wandered the historic area for a bit.  After sunset, we walked back up King Street to our hotel.  The photos below are from the north end of Waterfront Park.

Looking from the pier at the north entrance of Waterfront Park, looking south across a marshy area.  The larger building on the right is (I think) Charleston Branch Pilots Assn. and the slightly smaller building is (I think) Carolina Yacht Club.

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Last light.  The sun was setting off to the right, illuminating the clouds over Charleston Harbor. 

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Looking from the pier towards Charleston, as the light fades.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Beaver Dam State Park

Last Saturday, we were looking for an excursion.  Not too far from home, but someplace we hadn't already been 1,000 times.  Looking at the map on my phone, I noticed a small-ish splotch of green about 45 minutes north of us.  Scrolling in, I see Beaver Dam State Park in Plainview, IL.  Quick google, and it looks like a good candidate.  And close enough to Staunton for a quilt shop side trip.

A nice drive, and a nice park.  Not huge, but calm and peaceful.  And a few photos to boot.  Click for larger versions.

We spent a while wandering the site, enjoying the (rather cool) October day.  I want to go back sometime and check out all of the trail around the lake, they said (at the concession stand) it is about 3 miles.  And the concession stand even had a wine tasting from Plainview Vinyard and Winery.  So we had a few tastes, and picked up a bottle to go with our evening meal.

This one is from just 1.5 miles or so northest of the park....

Monday, October 15, 2018

Album Reviews - Index

OK, I've done a few of these album reviews now, and intend to make it a regular thing.  I'm hoping folk enjoy them; comments (and even requests) welcome.  My intention has been to focus mostly on stuff I own on vinyl, and stuff that is somewhat obscure.  But, as you can already see, that's not exclusively true.

You can see them all with the tag albumreviews.

Anyway:  here's what I've done so far:

Artist    -    Album    -  Released -   Posted (datecode)

And, as a bonus, here's a link to Matthew L.'s reviews at WPTS.  He's my go-to source for new music.

So what's next?  Brian Protheroe?  Dumptruck?  Roy Buchanan?  Tonio K? I doubt I'll ever run out of of options...

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Charleston, SC - 10/01/2018 - Architecture

I'm running rather slow on processing images from our recent trip to Charleston, but working on it.  Here's a few from Monday, October 1st, the day we arrived.

Originally opened in 1856, though it seems the steeple was rebuilt after Hurricane Hugo in 1989.  Still an active establishment.  We did a lot of walking during our week, and this church was on the way between the hotel and the historic section of town.  So we passed it a lot. 

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Pretty cool building.  The building was built in 1841, and has been home of the Confederate Museum sine 1899.  Underneath is an open air market area that runs several blocks.  We didn't go in the building, but thought it looked cool from the outside.

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The city's oldest congregation, dating back to 1680.  Looks like the current building dates to 1836 and the tower to 1850.

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Saturday, October 13, 2018

Album Review: Sugarloaf - Sugarloaf

Artist:  Sugarloaf
Album:  Sugarloaf
Released:  1970

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Sugarloaf is probably best known for the oh-so-awesome hit "Green Eyed Lady", which peaked at #3 in late 1970.  That's certainly where I know them from. It hooked me from the beginning, with a groove that appealed to the future bass player hidden deep within me.  Or, as another put it:  "A neat song with an interesting bass line that, I think, is borderline progressive…especially for a pop song."   I'm pretty sure I had it on 45 (in my original, long lost 45 collection, but that's another story).  But I later had it on a compilation album.

During the early 80's, I decided I needed to have the full-length album version (6:53) rather than the edited single version (3:33), so I searched out the album.  I'm pretty sure I found this new (but in the cutout bin, see the bottom right corner) at a record store in the DC area (rather than mail-order, or something else pre-internet).  [aside:  yes it is true, I don't remember every detail of  getting every album I own]

Anyway, this album is an interesting snapshot of 1970, starting with the album cover and straight into the music.  The album only has 6 songs, with all but 1 over 5 minutes in length.  Most surprising to me (back then) is that 3 of the 6 are instrumentals.  That includes versions of the Yardbirds' "Train Kept A-Rolling" and The Band's "Chest Fever" (with an intro segment from Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor.  Also a pretty standard 12-bar blues song:  "Gold And The Blues".  Along with Green Eyed Lady, the song with vocals include "West Of Tomorrow" and "Things Are Gonna Change Some".  West of Tomorrow is a particularly nice, in a sort of flower-power way:

"West of now and east of yesterday,    love explodes into a righteous day
sending me so high I'll always stay.   West of now and east of yesterday," 

"Things Are Gonna Change Some" is very Jazzy, complete with 5/4 time.

Not a great album, but certainly a good one.  I'll go 3.5 stars.  And I'll say "Pretty Obscure", because while it had one big hit, who even heard the rest?

And I have to include a transcription of this bit, from the inner liner, because it is awesome:

One of the truly encouraging facts about contemporary rock and roll is that its creative demon has spread to every corner of America. From Montana to Texas, from New Haven to Mendocino, wherever people of the new generation gather to listen to music, there is certain to be a good band putting down some exciting and original sounds. No longer does rock and roll have to be imported from San Francisco, Chicago or Los Angeles. New groups from the rest of the country have overtaken the establish centers and are going full speed ahead on their own.

Sugarloaf from Denver, Colorado, is in excellent example of this phenomenon. Here’s a group of young musicians that plays an incredibly solid brand of new music. Each member of Sugarloaf has been working within the rock idiom for more than a decade. Each of them has achieved genuine mastery of his instrument and uses every song as an opportunity to express his personal freedom. Together they form a very cohesive and resourceful musical organization which grows in creativity day by day. The people of the Rocky Mountains are fortunate to have such an accomplished group in their midst.

This album find Sugarloaf in an experimental mood which carries them into a wide variety of forms. On “Bach doors man/chest Fever” organist Jerry Corbetta discovers the spiritual links between JS Bach’s  toccata and fugue in D minor and Garth Hudson‘s Organ work for the Band.  A marvelous piece of synthesis!  On “things gonna change” the group leaves the Orthodox boundaries of rock rhythm and leaps into a 5/4 pattern reminiscent of Dave Brubeck “take five” and many of the compositions of Frank Zappa.  Bob Webber‘s guitar solo on the cut builds a compelling statement on top of the unusual groove.  Both “green eyed lady” and “the train kept a-rolling” are based on hard rock riffs which of avoid all semblance of the clichéd and redundant themes which prop up many new groups.  The imaginative baselines of a Bob Raymond and tasteful drumming of Bob MacVittie keep the songs moving with real force and direction.  “The train kept a-rolling” is particularly effective at for exactly this reason.

Sugarloaf will surprise you. They play free music and they play it together. Listen to Sugarloaf carefully and you’ll dig it.

Langdon Winner.  

Here's the back cover and inner liner, click for larger versions:

Tuesday, October 09, 2018


No, not Happenstance Photography, though that's a fun site!

But Happenstance: “Chance or a chance situation, especially one producing a good result” ...

So, during our recent travels, we stopped for gas between Raleigh and Fayetteville, NC.  The geotag from my phone says Dunn, NC.  Anyway, I was looking at the map, and saw that I could turn away from the interstate, and make a short side trip down to the next interstate stop.

And we found a fun little derelict shack:

Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame - 2019 Nominees

So, the Nominees were announced for the class of 2019 at the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame.

And I have to say, I'm unimpressed.

Here's the nominees, ranks (as I always do) by the number of songs on my iPod:

  • John Prine (39 songs)
  • Def Leppard (29 songs)
  • Todd Rundgren (16 songs)
  • The Zombies (14 songs)
  • Roxy Music (11 songs)
  • Kraftwerk (5 songs)
  • Devo (4 songs)
  • Stevie Nicks (3 song)
  • Rufas and Chaka Khan (2 songs)
  • MC5 (1 song)
  • Janet Jackson (0 songs)
  • LL Cool J (0 songs)
  • Radiohead (0 songs)
  • Rage Against The Machine (0 songs)
  • The Cure (0 songs)

I thought this would be the the least represented slate of nominees ever, but last year was actually a bit worse (average 7.6 songs per nominee vs 8.3).  Not that representation on my iPod means that much.  Except to me.

My top 3 oversights remain the same as last year:

  • The Monkees (161 songs)
  • The Doobie Brothers (101 songs)
  • Weird Al Yankovic (31 songs)

Monday, October 08, 2018

Newport, TN

On our recent trip, we ended up spending a night at the Holiday Inn Express in Newport TN. We were looking to past Asheville, but not into Knoxville. Newport did nicely, After we had dinner, we decided to explore for just a few minutes, racing the setting sun. Our round trip was probably less than 10 miles, but we found a few nice sights:

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Sunday, October 07, 2018

Trenton, KY

Our last quilt shop during our recent travels was in Trenton, KY.  This led us on a great "Blue Highways" excursion around Nashville, with lots of fun scenes (stay tuned for those!).  And we found a really cool shop:  Quilt and Sew at Golden Threads.  And while my wife shopped, I wandered.  And found some photo ops that I'm pretty satisfied with.  So here you go:

Click for larger versions

Of course, I'm drawn to the old and worn...  The town of Trenton was nice, I just photographed the ragged edges.  

Album Review: Atlanta Rhythm Section - Dog Days

Artist: Atlanta Rhythm Section
Album:  Dog Days
Released:  August, 1975

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If you remember Atlanta Rhythm Section (ARS), you probably remember the smooth sound of their hits from 1977 through 1979:  So Into You (peaked at #7), I'm Not Gonna Let It Bother Me Tonight (#14), Imaginary Lover (#7), Do It Or Die (#19) and Spooky (#17).  Super smooth, gentle groove, radio friendly tunes.

But Dog Days has a different feel.  This album came out in mid/late 1975, and is a little bit more raw...  more of a boogie feel.  Now doubt southern rock.  Now, this is still a super tight band, and they are smooth on this album, but there's more of an edge.  Some distorted guitars, some greasy jams...  I think the defining point is from the song "Boogie Smoogie" where they sing:

"We played a gig down at Cooley's Ballroom
Back when we were breaking in
We tried to play pretty for the people
but the people kept hollering:  BOOGIE

So we boogied"

Personal story aside:  The first time I saw ARS was in 1977, I think in the the first 1/2 of the year.  When A Rock An d Roll Alternative was out, and "So Into You" was on the charts.  They were opening act, I think for CDB.  Pretty sure it was the Stanley Theater in Pittsburgh.  (probably 4/30/1977).  Anyway, I expected the super smooth groove that defined R&RA, but the sound was much more "Dog Days".

Forty-some years later, Dog Days is probably tied with Rock And Roll Alternative as my favorite ARS album.  But with a pretty big drop off to the other albums.

Oh, and ARS featured one of my favorite bass players, Paul Goddard.

Best songs:
Crazy, Boogie Smoogie, Dog Days, It Just Ain't Your Moon, Bless My Soul (instrumental)

All Night Rain (this foreshadows their later hits).

The album cover?  I'd rate that as a POOR....

Obscurity:  This album peaked at #113, and didn't have any Top 40 songs (Dog Days made it to #64).  But I don't think the band is all that obscure, they had 2 Gold albums and 1 Platinum.  I mean, nobody's touting them for the Hall of Fame or anything, but if you were in school in the late 70's you ought to remember then.  not this album.  This album is NOT available at Amazon, but is on Spotify (I think a relatively recent addition, though!).  So I'll say "Kind of obscure".

Back Cover:

Inner Sleeve:

I Went Away For A While, But I'm Back Now.....

Sorry for the lack of posts recently, but we've been travelling.  The wife and I were on a road trip to celebrate our wedding anniversary:  Quilt Shops and Photo Ops!  I didn't take a computer, so posting had to wait.  I do hope y'all will forgive me.

OTOH, I have a LOT of images to plow through, so I ought to be posting a good bit in the new few days.

So, here's our route, or at least the high points.  We started with a two day run to Raleigh-Durham, NC, splitting the drive in Hillsville, VA,  Then a quick stop at Duke, where we met, courted and married.  And a visit with my daughter and her SO in Raleigh.

Then off to Charleston, SC, where we spent most of the week doing the tourist thing.  We split the drive home in Newport, TN, with a quick stop at the Folk Art Center in Asheville, NC.  And a really fun bypass on "blue highways" around Nashville.  And Quilt Shops in Summerville, SC, Dandridge, TN, Crossville, TN, Trenton, KY...  there may be a couple more, need to check w/ the wife.

We passed through 8 states:  Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.  And looking at Google maps the loop was just under 2,000 miles,   By the odometer, we only went about 250 miles more than that, but we did a ton of walking in Charleston.

So now it is back to the grind, with some great memories and lots of unprocessed photos. 

Stay tuned!

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Album Review: Harry Nilsson - Nilsson Schmilson

Artist: Harry Nilsson
Released:  November, 1971

This is one of the first albums I owned.  I think I got it when “Coconut” was on the charts (which peaked at #8 on 08/26/1972.  I have a memory of hearing that song at the pool that summer, while visiting a friend in West Virginia.  I turned 12 that summer, and been entering 7th grade that fall.  This would've been around the time that I was discovering FM radio, and the world beyond Casey Kasem, and this album was a good bridge.

It quickly became my favorite record.  And it has remained a staple in my collection.  It doesn't get played every day, or every week.  But it gets played all along.  Not bad for 45 years down the road.  

While Coconut was the hook that caught me, I was quickly taken in by the rest of the album.  My favorites would include: Down, Jump Into The Fire, Driving Along, Early In The Morning....  The drive of those first 2, the groove of the second two...  it blew my young mind.  the Interestingly, the biggest hit, "Without You" is not one of my favorites.  I don't dislike it, and it is certainly a great song.  Just I like others more.  The only song I didn't really like in my youth was I'll Never Leaver You, a dark sounding song, with piano, voice, strings and horns.  It was a bit too far outside my brain at the time.  Still not a favorite, but I've appreciated it on a different level through the years.  This is a piano album, not much in the way of screaming guitars.  Which shouldn't be surprising as Nilsson was a Piano player.

Obscurity Index:  This was pretty popular at the time of its release.  It spawned three (3) hit singles, two including Jump Into the Fire (#27), Coconut (#8) and Without You (#1).  The album peaked at #3, and is certified gold.  It also garnered a Grammy nomination for Album Of The Year.  So, at the time it wasn’t obscure at all.  

Trivia:  The album was released on Dynaflex vinyl.  This was a process RCA came up with in the late 60's, which resulted in thinner records that were somewhat "floppy".  At least compared to normal records.  I think they touted it to be less prone to damage (cracks and such).  I have several dynaflex albums from the early 70's, but the format certainly didn't take over the world.

Allmusic rated Nilsson Schmilsson 4.5 stars, it carries 554 user ratings, also 4.5/50.  I rated it a 5.0 on allmusic (sometime in the past), and will stick with it.  5.0.

This album is available on Spotify and Amazon Music.  Check it out!

Back cover, and the RCA "orange" label, w/ dynaflex" logo: