R.I.P. Tom Petty

b04fd9aab2eccaac649fb64d12fb27ad_400x400.jpegThis morning, I learned about the death of Tom Petty who passed away on October 2.

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An Icon Turns 90! Happy Birthday, Chuck Berry

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Also, after 38 years since his last studio record, Chuck Berry and band will be releasing a new studio record in 2017. Keep on rock n’.

Posted from PunkNews.org

Rock icon Chuck Berry will release a new album for his 90th birthday. This will be his first studio album in 38 years. The album is called Chuck and it will be out in 2017 via Dualtone Records. Berry recorded the album with his long time backing band, Charles Berry Jr. (guitar), Ingrid Berry (harmonica), Jimmy Marsala (bass), Robert Lohr (piano) and Keith Robinson (drums).

My Music For Outdoor Recreation

bowDuring the warmer months, my family is very active outside. We enjoy going hiking, hunting, fishing, shooting, biking and taking in the sites around our area. But, when Fall is close, that’s our favorite time of year. And music is always there from the my player that has over 13,000 songs.

Music is always there. You don’t realize how accessible music has become since we’re in the digital age. It is the same as listening to the record player or the CD with you kicking back with a few beers or drinking a tall glass of iced tea? No! However, with the digital age, music is portable and compact and fits in your pocket or a holder. For me, I love all kinds of genres and this blog is beginning to reflect that.

metoo.jpgI love this time of year. The air is getting crisp, the leaves are beginning to change, and many people are gearing up for the opening of hunting season here in Pennsylvania which begins on October 1. I too am a hunter and I am gearing up after having practiced my skills all year long, it’s time for me to head into the woods. In fact, it’s a family affair. My oldest son goes out with me and many times my wife and youngest son will also head into the woods with me.

Many musicians are hunters as well. Three stand out. The first is Uncle Ted Nugent. Not only does he hunt, but he also wrote many articles about the subject, mainly about archery. He has the popular hunting show called “Spirit of the Wild.” Another is Eric Adams, lead vocalist for the Heavy Metal band Manowar. He at one time also wrote articles about bow hunting which he took up during his spare time. Even guitarist Joe Perry of Aerosmith is a hunter. Athletics like Bo Jackson are hunters. Bo has pretty much done everything. I have always respected Bo Jackson when I was a kid.

When I head to the gun range before those practice sessions, I enjoy just plugging my Zune player into my truck radio and hit shuffle. I get a chance to clear my mind from the busy workweek that just went by. My player may play Muddy Waters one minute and Megadeth the next. So there’s no telling what I will have playing from song to song. Once I get to the range, everything is turned off.

fishMy favorite songs to listen to before and after my practice sessions at the gun range are, “Hanger 18” by Megadeth, “Stranglehold” by Ted Nugent,  “Highway Star” by Deep Purple, and “Stone the Crow” by Down. There’s many others too, but, these four are good to get me pumped and to get me focused.

The same way when I go hunting. I love to listen to Ted Nugent’s “Hunt Music” album or “Spirit of the Wild.” In fact, the song “Fred Bear” off of “Spirit of the Wild” that Ted Nugent wrote is about the founding father of modern archery. Fred Bear was born only a mile from where I live. I also love to listen to traditional music such as Bluegrass. After the day is over, it’s nice to just get back into my truck and turn the Zune player on and just relax to something by Neil Young.

When I go fishing, I love to hit shuffle on my player and just drive to the lake with my family. When I get to my fishing spot, I love to listen to long drawn out live songs. Neil Young’s “Tonight’s the Night” is a good one. Depending on the version, this song could be almost thirty minutes long live. Or I love to listen to something more traditional like Bluegrass or Blues. It all depends on the mood during the first hour or two when I am there.

biking.jpgUsually, when we go fishing, we go early in the morning and stay till about supper time. On those hot hazy days, just listing to some Delta Blues is just so relaxing. The rawness of the music just speaks to you. I love to hear the sound of the slide or the eeriness of the guitar.

When I go biking or hiking, I love to listen to something that has a faster tempo. AC/DC is a great band to listen to, or maybe Hank III.  On my bike, I have a cell phone holder that holds my phone where some of my music is stored. Just riding in the mountain with something Classic Rock playing, helps me to loose track of time and I can begin riding with no care in the world except for my surroundings.

Hiking is the same way. I look at the landscape and if it’s steep or if I am hiking the Appalachian Trail, music actually helps to give me a push to see what’s beyond the next ridge or around the corner. Next thing you know, you been out hiking for hours when you realize that it’s time to get back to the truck.

livinghistoryThe same way when we go camping in Virginia. I love just setting the Zune player on shuffle and just sit outside and read a book around the campfire. Even then, the variety of music that is playing just helps me to relax and pass the day. Next thing you know, the sun is setting and you just feel refreshed.

I am also a living historian, not a reenactor. On my way to and from an event, I again, love to listen to my Zune player. I try to pick out songs that deal with history such as “Gettysburg” by Iced Earth. When I arrive, it’s all business until the event or living history is over. I do a lot of public speaking when I am at the events. Telling the stories of our past and connecting people to that time period. I do Civil War and French and Indian War periods of American history. Once in a blue moon, I also do WW2 because of Fort Ritchie being so close to the battle park that I manage.

Whatever the case may be, music is there. It’s the life blood of today’s society. There’s so many genres and so many sub-genres. Although, I blame the digital age for destroying the fun of going to the mall and buying records or CDs, it is easier today to carry a small MP3 player with hundreds of songs on it than what it was when I was a kid who brought several cassettes or CDs at one time to listening to.

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My Dirty Dozen: These 12 Influenced Me As A Guitarist

12651358_10207404378326369_2896867740385706438_n.jpgWhen I was growing up and learning how to play the guitar, I often looked for content to enhance my skills. Up to that point, I had bluegrass, country or  oldies. Now, I did learn from the oldies from guitarists like Chuck Berry or George Harrison or John Lennon of the Beatles. From the Country music world I often learned from guitar greats like Jerry Reed, Luther Perkins (Johnny Cash), or Carl Perkins.

As I was exposed to other music genres such as Hard Rock, Blues, Heavy Metal and Punk, I began expanding my knowledge of styles. I loved the free form of Punk music for example. It had riffs and sloppy leads. I fell in love with Delta style Blues such as Muddy Waters. His style was so raw. Neil Young was another guitarist that I loved. His dropped D tuning turned my world around. Then you had Megadeth. Although, Megadeth had several guitarists in the band, each one brought out a different style to he sound.

But looking back, I have always had those records that I enjoyed playing over and over again. These records were my true beginnings as a young guitarist.  It has always been said by my wife, that my musical tastes are very wide with the fact that I can listen to the Misfits one minute and turn around and listen to AC/DC then Bluegrass afterwards.

  1. I remember when I purchased Led Zeppelin II and hearing Jimmy Page on that record for the first time. I was blown away. The music was rooted so deep into the Blues, but yet, it was so heavy. Many consider Led Zeppelin as one of the first four major bands to create “Heavy Metal.” Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and Uriah Heep are the other three bands.
  2. I also remember the first time I heard Black Sabbath’s “We Sold Our Souls For Rock N’ Roll.” A collection of songs on two LP’s from their first five records. I remember the heaviness and the leads of Tony Iommi. The first songs that I learned how to play was “Paranoid”, “Iron Man”, “War Pigs” and “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.” The drop down tuning of Iommi was amazing. This record also opened me up to Jazz music.
  3. George Thorogood “Live” was another record I was exposed to. During the 11th Grade FFA Convention, I played “Nighttime” during the talent show. I won seventh place that year. The next, I placed second with one of my own songs. George Thorogood taught me how to play the slide. Deeply rooted in traditional Blues, Country and Rock n’ Roll, his music was fun to play.
  4. Deep Purple’s “Machine Head” was another great record. Ritchie Blackmore’s style was totally different than that of Jimmy Page, Tony Iommi and others. “Smoke on the Water” and “Highway Star” were among my favorite songs to jam to. Now, Dio and Deep Purple led me to Rainbow, a side project of Ritchie Blackmore. This man could play Classical and play the Blues.
  5. Neil Young and Crazy Horse’s “Everyone Knows This Is Nowhere.”  This record taught me how to merge Country, Folk and Rock together with the drop D tuning. “Cinnamon Girl” was one of the first songs that learned how to play lead on. It was also Neil Young whom sort of taught me to play banjo. The cords he plays in that drop D tuning are the same that are used on the banjo.
  6. AC/DC “High Voltage” was another album that influenced my skills. Angus Young and his brother Malcolm were the perfect duo.The licks that Angus plays are in many ways reminded me of Chuck Berry. His leads are easy to play and yet I enjoyed what Malcolm’s complex guitar parts on songs like “Can I Sit Next To You” and “Little Lover.”
  7. Danzig’s debut in 1988 was another record that I often jammed to. John Christ’s Jazzy style of guitar mixed with Danzig’s Punk attitude, both made this a great record. “Mother” was one their songs that I quickly learned how to play.  “Twist of Cain” was another song that I quickly mastered. It wasn’t long until I could play the entire record.
  8. “One More For The Road” by Lynyrd Skynyrd was a great all around record. “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Free Bird” were two songs that I could play all day on the guitar. Gary Rossington and Steve Gains were both brilliant. Then you throw in Allen Collins. It was Country, it was Rock and it was Blues.
  9.  Judas Priest’s “Stained Class” was another record that exposed me to something new. It was heavy and it was fast. “Exciter” was the first song that I learned from this record. I remember the sheer speed of the opening riff and the first lead from that song.  K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton were two great guitarists.
  10. The Four Horsemen’s “Nobody Said It Was Easy” was another album that I quickly mastered. The riffs for the most part were the same from song to song, but the leads were easy to learn for a boy of 13 years old.
  11. Eric Ambel and Roscoe’s Gang was another album that I totally wore out. “If You Gotta Go, Go Now” was a totally fun to play on the guitar. I love his version of Neil Young’s “Vampire Blues.” The entire album was fun to play along with. It also helped me to establish me as a vocalist.
  12. The Who’s “Who’s Missing” was another album that I learned much from. Many covers on here that allowed me to develop my own style when playing when I joined a band. Pete Townsend to me was what Rock n’ Roll was about. The man sure knew how to play. “Leaving Here” and “Bargain (Live)” were two songs that I remember playing all of the time on guitar.

These 12 records were it. As a young lad playing the guitar, there were the 12 records that inspired me to play. Although, many more have since inspired me, it was these 12 that were starting points for me. The Doors first record was what inspired me to pick up the bass guitar, but that maybe another posting for the future.

Bluegrass Legend Ralph Stanley Dies

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Rob Crawford – Ralph Stanley

On Thursday, June 23, 2016 we lost Bluegrass Legend, banjoist and vocalist Ralph Stanley. I remember when I first heard Ralph Stanley. It was back in the early 1990’s and I was listening to the Bluegrass station and his version of “Orange Blossom Special” came on. It was like nothing I ever heard. It was Bluegrass gone Heavy Metal.

I then began going through his catalog and come t find out, I heard many of his songs back in the early 1980’s. Either way, he was one hell of a banjoist, songwriter and vocalist.

Good Bye to One of My Favorite Heavy Metal Bands, Manowar

I’ve been into Manowar since 1988 when the “Kings of Metal” was released and I was 11 years old. I was blown away by heavy riffs used by Ross the Boss, the vocals of Eric Adams. The shredding of Joey DeMaio on bass, which I will add is on hell of a great bassist. You combined these three factors in with the thunderous drumming by Scott Columbus and you have one hell of a great heavy metal band….the Kings of Heavy Metal.

Manowar has always represented what heavy metal should be and what heavy metal will always be. Even after a few line up changes, that included Karl Logan, Donnie Hamzik, David Shankle, and Rhino,  I always looked forward to a new Manowar album. Although, in the last few years, I must admit, that they have released and re-released the same material. I figured it was a matter of time until the torch that Manowar carried would be handed down to a new generation of heavy metal bands. That day has now come.

My hat is tipped for a band that has been true to it’s word, it’s fans and it’s style from being the loudest band of ALL-TIME to the phone call I received from Joey when I purchased one of their t-shirts. From leather to chains, swords, axes, shields and the hammer, Manowar will be among the great forefathers of “True Metal.” Looking back on their studio albums, I have decided to rank them to my favorites:

  1. The Triumph of Steel
  2. Kings of Metal
  3. Sign of the Hammer
  4. Battle Hymns
  5. Hail to England
  6. Into Glory Ride
  7. Louder than Hell
  8. Fighting the World
  9. Warriors of the World
  10. Thounder in the Sky
  11. Lords of Steel
  12. Gods of War
  13. Battle Hymns 2010
  14. Kings of Metal 2014

R.I.P. Prince

86103158.jpgAlthough, I was never a fan of Prince, I must admit he was a talented musician and a great guitarist. He was a teen icon when I was growing up back in the 1980’s-1990’s when Pop music ruled the airwaves. Prince has done it all. He could write music for any genre from Country, Blues to Pop and Rock. He was 57 years old when he died on April 21, 2016.