Tuesday, January 07, 2020

Dear Mr. Fantasy

It seems like deconstructionism is taking its toll on me. Even just reading for escapism, I can't seem to get loose of politics and economics.
  1. "Quillifer the Knight", by Walter Jon Williams, 2019, 643 pages. The 2nd of this series, the 1st is blogged here. Court intrigue, dragon slaying, etc. Williams is reliably enjoyable. But, another novel that is, if not glorifying, at least spreading the memes of feudalism. Sigh.
  2. "Ninth House", by Leigh Bardugo, 2019, 643 pages. I kept seeing references to this on various lists, so I decided to give it a try. Who knew that Yale was secretly Hogwarts??? Did we really need a book about Yale secret societies? The author is a Yale grad. Gee, I'm so disappointed we didn't have secret magical societies at MIT. It is a good read.
  3. "The Ten Thousand Doors of January", by Alix E. Harrow, 2019, 417 pages. I was reminded at 1st of "The Never-Ending Story" - a good thing. A very nicely constructed story of the multiverse.
  4. "The Scar", by China MiƩville, 2002, 767 pages. The 2nd of the Bas-Lag (the name of this world) series. I think I read the 1st, "Perdido Street Station", shortly after it came out in 2000. I have come to appreciate MiƩville's writing more in recent years. More horrorish than I prefer, but very impressive world-building and bizarre races and creatures. This is an interesting story, but the protagonist/narrator is fairly unlikable. It still works though. I have purchased the 3rd book of the series, "Iron Council".
On to some short stories, I think.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Moving Fast, But Not Fast Enough

I was going to just forge ahead on another book but then remembered I hadn't blogged my last 5 reads. Unread collection in Kobo reader continues to grow - still 62 left after taking these out. A good problem to have, I guess.
  1. "Auberon", by James S.A. Corey, 2019, 78 pages. An Expanse Novella. A nice little story set in the Galactic Empire pivot segment of The Expanse. Can the new incorruptible Fascist government stay that way?
    I watched the 1st 4 episodes of "The Expanse" on Prime Video last night, FTW! I feel very comfortable with these characters.

  2. "The Menace From Farside", by Ian McDonald, 2019, 119 pages. A novella set on the moon of McDonald's Luna series. The title refers to a female rival of the moody, female teenage narrator. I guess I'm too far away from moody teenagers, I really didn't care for that much. Some action & plot, etc.

  3. "Time Was", by Ian McDonald, 2019, 97 pages. I decided to give McDonald another chance. Another novella, this one was a evocative and charming tale of accidental time travelers and the bibliophile who is tracking them.

  4. "Factoring Humanity", by Robert J. Sawyer, 1998, 343 pages. I remembered reading a Sawyer ("Calculating God" I think) from the Lexington Public Library years ago and liking it fairly well. I think this one was a BookBub bargain - I might not have bought it if I had realized how old it was. What was I'm sure germane social commentary at the time is now horribly dated. This is a 1st contact story, with some AI thrown in. The main character, a scientist, behaves in a completely unscientific way that I found unsettling.
    I looked up Sawyer on Wikipedia, he has the letters CM and OOnt after his name. CM is the Order of Canada and OOnt is the Order of Ontario. He's Canadian, and apparently they still do this goofy monarchist crap. The Order of Canada is the 2nd highest honor, 1st is the Order of Merit which can only be awarded by Canada's monarch, Queen Elizabeth II.
    Is that some stupid shit or what? Maybe if Britain had gotten rid of the monarchy decades ago they wouldn't have all these old farts wanting Brexit. Very sad.

  5. "Ancestral Night", by Elizabeth Bear, 2019, 599 pages. The Culture lives! Bear give props to Iain Banks' Culture series. Galactic civilization, ancient aliens, smart-ass AI shipminds, ships with long, snarky names, humans with direct control of their brain chemistry.
    The novel is very, very talky, and felt to be at least its 599 pages. The main character's mind has been extensively reconstructed, and she uncovers several versions of why. She is way beyond neurotic.
    The foil to Bear's The Culture analog The Synarche is libertarian pirates. Some timely political discussions, the pirates general being painted as freedom-loving psychopaths. "Libertaranism - the I got mine, fuck you party" is 1 of my taglines.
    Bear also quotes directly another of my taglines: "There is enough to go around", directed to the main pirate figure.
    I suspect there will be more of this series, titled "White Space", and I look forward to them.
I also went to clear the magazine stack for December after these books. Sky & Telescope is transitioning from the Zinio app to ... something else. Couldn't find the December issue, just February - they publish fairly far ahead so people can plan their observing schedules. After a very unhelpful reply from their customer service, I decided I'm going to quit reading it, and not renew my subscription, which expires in April. I get plenty of astronomy news and pix from several blogs whose RSS feeds I follow. Wow, end of an era, I have been getting S&T for 30 or 40 years. Does this qualify as an old dog learning a new trick? Or unlearning an old trick?

Monday, December 02, 2019

Music In - and Almost Timely!

August, September, October, and the 1st 1/2 of November.
  • Of Monsters And Men, "FEVER DREAMS", 2019, 11 tracks. Well-engineered alternative rock, no standout tunes. 3 stars.
  • Buddy Guy, "Skin Deep", 2008, 12 tracks. Someone requested that I work up the title track, "Skin Deep". It was a good tune & I enjoyed working it up. Of course, it is the standout track on the album. 4 stars for "Skin Deep" with Derek Trucks on slide guitar, 3 stars for the rest, despite Clapton playing on 1 song & Robert Randolph on 2.

  • Dave Alvin, "The Best Of The HighTone Years", 2008, 18 tracks. This was pulled up for purchase on my friend Steve Konopka's computer at the time of his death. His wife went on and bought it, she said this guy was 1 of Steve's favorite guitarists. The material is all over the place - folk, country, rock, southern rock - apparently he considered himself Americana. I don't have an Americana genre so I made him Southern Rock. 3 stars.
  • The Teskey Brothers, "Half Mile Harvest", 2018, 10 tracks. A recommendation from an old friend & coworker who is in the process of becoming an Australian. You listen to this & go, OK, black dudes in the US playing some decent R&B. Then find out, 4 white Australian dudes playing some decent R&B. 4 stars. Here's "I Get Up".

  • Pernice Brothers, "Spread The Feeling", 2019, 13 tracks. Bandcamp I think. Very nice, reminds me of, maybe, Matt Duncan, or the Jayhawks? These guys have been around since 1996, but this is their 1st album since 2010. 4 stars. They have broken my system, there are no videos for this album on YouTube yet. I was going to include "The Devil and The Jinn".
  • Ra Ra Riot, "Superbloom", 2019, 12 tracks. There very latest. OK tunes but I realized one of the things I really liked about their 1st album, "The Rhumb Line", which included a 5-star song, was the strings. I think they had female violin & cello players. No more strings anymore, just synthesizers. I'm guessing intra-band romances got terminated. Too bad. 3 stars.
  • The Grateful Dead, "From The Mars Hotel", 1974, 8 tracks. Saw a reference to this and wondered why I didn't have it. No great tracks; "US Blues" probably the strongest. 3 stars.
  • Winds, "Venus And Mars (Deluxe / Remaster), 1975, 28 tracks. Someone was telling me I needed to listen to "Magneto And Titanium Man", which was on this album. At $12.49 for 28 tracks, this wound up being quite the music value. In addition to the original album, there are several singles that were never on an album: "Junior's Farm", "Sally G", others? There are also 10 or so outtakes, jams, not of much interest unless you are a total Wings/McCartney fan. 18x 4-star, 8x 3-star, 2x 2-star (for old versions, standard handling). Here's "Sally G." recorded in Nashville. Pedal steel FTW!

  • Jorja Smith, "Lost & Found", 2018, 12 tracks. Bandcamp. English R&B singer/songwriter. Very nice stuff, only 22 YO. 4 stars. Here's the 1st & title track, "Lost & Found". It takes a while to get going, but it is worth the wait.

  • Delta Sleep, "Younger Years", 2019, 6 tracks. Bandcamp. Decent tunes, a little too loud for me. 3 stars.
  • Jakub Zytecki, "Nothing Lasts, Nothing's Lost", 2019, 11 tracks. Bandcamp. Polish prog rock, what's not to like? Very interesting guitar work, creative stuff. 4 stars. Here's "Sunflower".

  • Le Big Zero, "Ollie Oxen Free", 2019, 9 tracks. These are friends of my daughter Erica in Brooklyn. She sent me the t-shirt, I figured I'd better get the album. A good effort, but a little too punkish for me. 3 stars.
  • Juana Molina, "Forfun", 2019, 4 tracks. Bandcamp. Argentinian punk, what's not to like? Normally hard for punk to get 4 stars in this blog, but, I liked the energy of these. Molina has been around for decades. Here's the 1st track, "Paraguaya Punk".

  • Charly Bliss, "Supermoon", 2019, 5 tracks. Bandcamp. Power-pop from Brooklyn, FTW! Alternative with decent guitar & female singer. Here's "Slingshot".

  • Redeyes, "Unfinished Theory EP", 2019, 6 tracks. Bandcamp. Way mellow electronica/dance. Very enjoyable listening. 4 stars. Here's the intro "The Unfinished Theory". I like the name & concept.

  • Bahamas, "Bahamas is Afie", 2014, 12 tracks. I really enjoyed his latest, "Earthtones", blogged here. So I'm working backwards through his stuff - this is album 3/4. I just really like his voice & guitar. Thanks to musical friend Josh Brown of J. Renders Southern Table & Bar for the recommendation. 4 stars. Here's "Waves".

  • Muddy Waters, "I'm Ready", 1978, 12 tracks. His prior 1977 album, "Hard Again", blogged here, was fantastic. I've worked up 3 songs from it, 2 at the request of my Canadian harpist friend Owen Evans. "Hard Again" was produced by Johnny Winter. There is not a bad song on that album. "I'm Ready" a year later, I'm guessing wasn't produced by Winter. Overall, pretty blah. 3 stars.
  • Vampire Weekend, "Father Of The Bride", 2019, 18 tracks. Apparently they lost a member. 18 tracks is a lot, generally pretty high quality & sounding like Vampire Weekend. 4 stars. Here's "Harmony Hall"

  • Blind Faith, eponymous, 1969, 6 tracks. The supergroup of Clapton & Baker from Cream w Winwood on keys and Rick Gresch on bass from Traffic. Only 6 tracks. 3 stars for "Do What You Like", which is just too long. 4 stars for the rest. Here's "Can't Find My Way Home", which I recently played in the latest incarnation of Acme Dance Band: Brent Carter on guitar & vocals, Haywood Ferguson on harp, Steve Parrish on drums, & me on bass & vocals. I played "Sea of Joy" Back In The Day. Not so good, oops!>p>

So, 19 more albums, reviews current through mid-November. Next Music In will prolly be late March. If anybody not a bot reads these Music In posts, you will have noticed that I need more good new music. So, plz comment with any new music recommendations. [I know, crickets.]

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

A Binge

After figuring out last time that I had read book 5 of the "Gods and Monsters" series, I decided to binge the other 4.

The underlying plot of all the books is that Jehovah aka Yahweh staged a coup and drove all the other pantheons out of, what, metaphysical space and into meat space, which understandably created a power struggle here on earth. There also new gods a la Gaimann's "American Gods", and fictional gods (aren't they all?) a la Cthulhu. Meanwhile, all the father gods seem to have disappeared - and nobody has seen Jebus. Hmmm, I'm glad not to have to read about Jebus, but, maybe a little bit chickenshit on the part of the authors?

All these books are written with the snark dial set to 11.

The whole series is:

  1. "Unclean Spirita", by Chuck Wendig, 2013, 417 pages. We meet Cason Cole, who is a grandson of Lucifer and a son of the stag god of nature. Most of the characters in this one are Greek gods.

    This ebook also contains a 2nd novella "Drag Hunt", by Pat Kelleher, which features the great trickster god Coyote, who appears again later on in the series.

  2. "Mythbreaker", by Stephen Blackmoore, 2014, 295 pages. The protagonist is Louie "Fitz" Fitzsimmons, who is the only sane prophet alive. Prophets can channel gods and write their stories. Several pantheons are vying to obtain his services.

  3. "Snake Eyes", by Hillary Monahan, 2016, 307 pages. The protagonist here is Tanis Barlas, a snakish woman who is a daughter of Lamia. The snake people are pursued by their ancient enemies the Gorgons.

  4. "Food of the Gods", by Cassandra Khaw, 2017, 307 pages. Note, I also purchased "Rupert Wong, Cannibal Chef", 2015, 99 pages, which wound up being part 1 of 2 in this book. And I notice that part 2 is available as a separate ebook, "Rupert Wong and the Ends of the Earth", 2017, 204 pages. I find this kind of double publication confusing and annoying, and it led me to purchase the same content twice - a ripoff to my reckoning. Ghouls, Chinese gods, Greek gods, new gods, and Lovecraftian gods are now in play.

  5. "The Last Supper Before Ragnarok", by Cassandra Khaw, 2019, 222 pages, blogged here. This makes more sense and is more enjoyable after having read the others and getting the backstories on all the main characters.
All in all, lots of fun with mythology, old and new, which I always find enjoyable.

Time for some science fiction, I think.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

A Bit More Variety

5 book reports this time.
  1. "The Corn King and the Spring Queen", by Naomi Mitchison, 1931, 985 pages. I blogged Mitchison's "Travel Light" here. This one seems to be regarded as the best of her 90 or so books. Set in the Black Sea area, Sparta, and Alexandria around 150 BC. Fairly historical, except for a main character who is a practicing witch. Very good account of fertility magic; Stoic and Epicurean Greek philosophers; an attempt to reinstill traditional values in Sparta; intrigue in the court of Ptolemy, king of Egypt, in Alexandria.

    I was surprised, for 1931, at its matter-of-fact retelling of Greek homosexuality, particularly between older men and (pre)pubescent boys - Wikipedia does say that the book was somewhat scandalous for its time.

    The book has lots of interesting characters and ideas and plenty of plot. By the end I was definitely ready for it to be over. Then there was a very random Appendix set 100 years later which seemed to me to be almost completely pointless???

  2. "Crucible of Time", by Jeffrey A. Carver, 2019, 481 pages. The 6th of this series, I thought it was supposed to be the last 1, but, no ... still 1 more in the pipe. This installment pretty much follows in the footsteps of #5. Our expanded team of intrepid galactic trouble-shooters gets mostly reunited. I'll be glad to put the last one behind me.

  3. "seeing is forgetting the name of the thing one sees: expanded edition", by Lawrence Weschler, 2009, 336 pages. Subtitled "Over Thirty Years Of Conversations With Robert Irwin". This was a belated birthday gift from my oldest daughter Erica, the Brooklyn graphics designer.

    Robert Irwin is (still alive, age 91) an LA based artist, active since 1960. He is a fascinating genius of a man. He grew up in the LA area, into cars, girls, dance contests, and gambling in his teen years in the 1940s; he went to various art institutes; he supported himself in a lot of his adult life betting on the horses.

    He did some abstract impressionistic paintings to start, but quickly got a LOT more conceptual. A painting should have no images; it should be only what was in the artist's mind when he created it. With his Line paintings in 1962, he spent 2 years creating 10 12"^2 paintings in a solid color, usually orange, with 2 1/8" horizontal lines somewhere. He said things like "moving 1 line up a tiny fraction of an inch completely changed the result".

    Next up were his Dots paintings - 2 of which were vandalized by some very serious art critics in Sao Paulo. Then came his Discs, which were paintings without frames.

    Trying to abstract his way out of the figure/background dichotomy of paintings, he became an installation artist. He later designed gardens, buildings, all kind of stuff.

    I really liked 1 story he recounted. A NYC art critic was in LA for a show & got into a discussion with Irwin of Folk Art. To the NYC guy this meant pottery etc. Irwin found an ad for a hot-rod being sold. He took the critic to meet the late-teens guy who was working on a new hot-rod. All the aesthetic decisions the guy was making, expose bolts or not, how many coats of paint - to Irwin this was modern folk art. The NYC critic was having no part of it - as opposed to LA, NYC has 0 car culture. When he couldn't convince the critic, Irwin stopped his car somewhere in Southern California and told him to get out. Nice!

    Erica also got me, by the same author, "true to life: Twenty-five Years of Conversations with David Hockney". I have found that art must be done in small doses, particularly when Erica is involved. Good art is like getting punched real hard in the head - I need to definitely control the dosage. So this 2nd book will be put off for a good while - hopefully I will remember to come back to it.

  4. "The Last Supper Before Ragnarok", by Cassandra Khaw, 2019, 222 pages. Apparently this is Gods and Monsters #5 - I've read only 2 others by Khaw, here's the latest. Hmmm, this shows as "Persona Non Grata" series - no mention of "Gods and Monsters" - apparently we have some quantum series indeterminacy, hopefully the competing wave functions will collapse out soon. Researching, the GaM novels 2 & 3 are by other authors, just bought #1 & #4 by Khaw. Persona Non Grata seems to indeed be a different series, with the demon-possessed cheap detective protagonist.

    I somehow thought this was novel length, but it is another novella. Very good use of competing mythologies, an interesting cast of somewhat supernatural characters. A fun read. Khaw is from Malaysia, and incorporates much Malaysian (and Chinese) mythology and cuisine.

  5. "Ninth Step Station", by Malka Older & others, 2019, 414 pages. From Serial Box: 10 episodes, feeling very much like TV series episodes, an intro (pre-credits teaser), followed by 4-5 Acts. I have pretty much sworn off of TV police procedurals as of 2-3 years ago. But, these have some good new SF elements - eye implants with IR vision, other implants/bionics, drones everywhere - so I gladly un-foreswore procedurals for at least this series.

    Following serious earthquakes & a lame North Korean attack, followed by a Japanese response, the Chinese have invaded Japan & hold the western 1/2 of Tokyo. The other half is what's left of the Japanese government propped up by US peacekeeping forces.

    Our main character is a Tokyo police inspector (lesbian or bisexual of course), her partner is a Japanese-American peacekeeper forwarded in the spirit of cooperation. It does the good thing of having each episode have a case to be solved, while meanwhile a larger story arc re China vs Japan + US develops. It is well done, but I was a little burnt out by the end. But, the ending sets up Series #2 for lots of drama, as the China vs Japan + US narrative heats up.

Time to go back to the magazine stack. I just switched my last print magazine, Technology Review, over to electronic only, yay! But, I am embarrassed to admit, somehow with my magazines all being electronic I seem to be losing track of where I am on the stack much more easily. Hard to beat a stack of physical magazines being read and then moved to a different physical stack across the room for tracking.

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Weather Is Broken

I've been going back & forth about writing this post, I've decided in the best Dumbass traditions to let 'er rip!

I have looked at weather maps every day for over 40 years. I think I could be a decent weather forecaster - but, I have never read a single book on the topic, oops - that might be a start.

My browser fires up with 6 tabs open to weather sites:

  1. NWS radar
  2. Current US Weather Map
  3. Wind map
  4. Global Jetstream Forecast
  5. Lexington KY 10 Day Forecast
  6. National Hurricane Center
I have been telling people for a couple of years now: forget everything you thought you knew about weather. Weather is changing. Weather has changed. It's a whole new world out there.

Case in point. On (?) Sep 23, Lexington had its 1st rain in 24 days: a totally weak-ass cold front finally came south, and generated < 0.1" of rain. The same occurred 4 days later.

So, after record rainfall in September 2018, record lack of rainfall in September 2019. After those 2 pitiful rainfalls, we went right back to the 3rd or 4th 5-6 day stretch of highs in the mid-90s.

The drought finally broke on October 6: finally, in late evening, a serious, drenching downpour, FTW!!!

Here's a pic of the NWS radar at 5:30 PM, September 27. Those dim blue areas are what the radar normally looks like at night. They basically mean there is no weather - you're just getting low-level scattering off of hills, etc.

What did the weather map look like? No weather - just 2 highs dominating the entire southeastern US.

The wind map confirms: no wind in the SE US.

Here it is 2 days later, after one of those weak-ass cold fronts came through: huge highs over the entire eastern US. No weather. Drought.

So glad we finally got a decent rain. But no rain in the forecast until Saturday, so I will have to go back to every-other-day watering of my vegetable & my wife's flower gardens.

Weather is broken.

Friday, October 04, 2019

Steven Mets Konopka, 1950-2019

Plus, A Brief History Of The Old Farts Blues Jam (OFBJ)

Steve Konopka, aka Fuzzy to musicians, was born May 14, 1950 and died August 28, 2019.

I met Steve playing at the OFBJ (Old Farts Blues Jam) maybe 10-12 years ago.

  • I first played at the OFBJ in January, 2006 at the American Legion off S. Broadway. I met Lindsay Olive, David Harrod, Donnie Crisp. Bob Hopps, Steve Moore (RIP).
  • Spring 2006 the OFBJ moved to High Life Lounge, formerly Lynagh's Concert Hall, later Cosmic Charlie's, on Woodland. I met Patty Butcher and others there.
  • After a couple of months it moved 3 doors to Lynagh's, where it stayed for 18 months.
  • Then it moved (in, what, Fall 2007?) to O'Neil's for 4.5 years. During that time, the house band was the Here For The Party Band: David Harrod on harp & vocals, Lindsay Olive on guitar, Erik Shields on drums, Bob Hopps on keys & vocals, and Michael Anderson or Matt Noell on bass & vocals.
Here's the oldest picture I can find of Steve at a jam: O'Neil's January, 2012. Steve Parrish on drums, Steven Poe on guitar, me on guitar & vocals, Fuzzy on Harp, Keith Hubbard on keys, and that looks like Jimmy Olive on bass?

[Note, I loaded all these pictures in X-large size so you could make out the faces. Most of them got cropped on the right. So please click on a photo and look at them in camera roll mode to see the whole pic.]

Here's another pic from March, 2012. Lindsay Olive on guitar, me on guitar & vocals, Erik Shields on drums, Fuzzy, Michael Anderson aka Cheesehead on bass, and the OFBJ long-time keyboard player, Bob Hopps. Bob is also an excellent blues guitar player, harpist, and vocalist.

  • After O'Neil's, the OFBJ moved downtown to Cheapside for a few months.
  • It was at Paulie's Toasted Barrel downtown on Main St. for a year or so around 2013.
  • Then it moved to Patchen Pub for maybe a year?
Here's a pic from Patchen Pub, October 1014. Brent Carter (playing Johnny Cash) on my Flying V, Mighty Joe Linville on sax. Gordon Parks on bass, probably SkyJack Miller on drums, Fuzzy, most excellent young guitarist Jeff Adams, and Jerry Woodyard playing the flattop.

  • The jam then morphed into Sherman House Presents the Lexington Blues Jam booked by Matt Noell. It was at Shamrocks on Patchen outside Sunday evenings for 2 years.
Here's a pic of Steve (& me) at Shamrocks July 2015. Great shirt!

Spring & Summer of 2013 I ran the Tuesday Night Rock & Roll Party at Henry Clay Public House downtown on Upper. Here's Steve playing with Lexington blues legend Teedee Young - & his son, who is now part of his band. Logan Lay is on bass.

After Fall 2016, there was no blues jam in Lexington for 10 months. I was missing my playing time, so I approached Steve about doing a duo, me on guitar & vocals, him on harp. He had played a few duo gigs before with Richard Mattingly. I chose Steve because of the 10 or so harp players I had played with, Steve was by far the most versatile. He could find a harp part on almost anything. No offense, but most harp players want to play nothing but blues.

A Digitech Vocalist Live 3 sang harmony with me on 1/3 of the songs (and did autotune on all the songs). I also used a Boss RC-30 Looper on a few songs.

We named ourselves, very imaginatively, Steve & Chris. My older brother is named Steve, so I had heard "Steve & Chris" for all my young life.

We pretty quickly got 50 songs - enough for a 4 hour gig. That grew to 90. So we moved 45 to a Duo Other book. But Steve and I were both horrible about holding the list down. The final count was 122, ha ha!

We rehearsed in the music area of my basement. We tried songs out live at Coralee's Open Mic, which was at Willie's Locally Known on Southland, then Cosmic Charlie's on National, and then The Burl. Coralee was always very encouraging and supportive. After Coralee moved to Nashville, we switched to the Red Barn Radio Open Mic, now Listen Locally Open Mic, at Twisted Cork off of Clay's Mill, Sunday, 5:30-9:00. We played there lots of weeks - 25 set lists in my app - until Steve started to weaken in Summer 2019.

We also played at LexJam, the 2nd Saturday of the month, 1-5, currently at Ranada's on Old Vine. Steve played at LexJam for ~15 years. Steve loved LexJam and LexJam loved Steve. Rennie Neubecker who runs LexJam seemed to be hit particularly hard by the loss of Steve. Steve & I last played at LexJam July 13, 2019.

Here's the poster Rennie made for the memorial they had for Steve.

We played our first gig at J. Render's Southern Table & Grill May 2017, thanks to the GM there, my musical friend Josh Brown. They were having a special fixed price dinner paired with local Alltech beers, with master brewer Ken Lee - "The Beer of Bourbon Country". We got the dinner and beers for our pay, yay! We passed the audition, and played J. Renders several more times. Here's a pic from that 1st night.

We decided that Steve would wear a baseball cap rather than going with 2 straw hats. LOL! Here we are playing indoors there in November.

We also played Grillfish and Patchen Pub, and here's a pic from Big Blue Martini.

The next year, 2018, we played J. Render's, Shamrocks, Squires, and The Cellar. They liked us everywhere we played, but the same thing happened at Patchen Pub & The Cellar: their in-house music critic, a 30-something dude probably in a band, noticed that we were old! Need younger blood!

Here is the link to the Steve & Chris YouTube channel. 7 videos, 2 of originals from the basement, 2 from Big Blue Martini, 1 from J. Renders, 2 from Grillfish.

Meanwhile, Matt Noell got Sherman House Presents (formerly known as the OFBJ) started again Spring 2017.

  • It was at Life Brewpub off of Richmond Rd. for a couple of months maybe. I remember my daughter Erica who lives in Brooklyn came out and got to talk with Steve.
  • It then moved to Lynagh's and stayed until December 2018. The original house band was Roger Barber on drums, Matt Noell on bass, David Ponder & Brent Carter on guitar. I took over for Ponder in Spring 2018.
  • In Summer 2017, Dane Sadler started the Blues & Groove Jam at Squires, Sunday 7:30-10:30. So we had 2 jams/week for a while, yay! That jam is still going strong. Boogie G. (George Burdette) and J.J. Davis alternate weeks on bass. Both are monster players on bass & vocals, & J.J. also is an unbelievable lead guitarist - Hendrix + Van Halen licks. I've filled in for Dane a few times.
Here's 2 pix of Steve at Squire's playing with Teedee again on June 23, 2019. Teedee is playing my St. Vincent Signature. Dane on guitar, Mighty Joe Linville on sax, and Erik Shields on drums.

The last time Steve played out was at Squires on July 28, 2019, 1 month to the day before he died. I think this pic is from the month before. Erik Shields on drums.

Here's a couple more pix from those last few months. I love this selfie that Haywood Ferguson took. You can clearly see Steve projecting harpiness into Jerry Mayfield, who's projecting it on to Haywood.

Haywood greatly respected Steve's playing and had been learning from Steve for the last year or so. Steve told me several times, he couldn't believe how he would show or tell Haywood something for the harp, and next time Haywood would be doing it. Haywood did Steve & Chris songs with me at LexJam, Twisted Cork, and Steve's memorial. Thanks Haywood!

Here's 1 from April. A good pic of Steve IMO.

My wife & I had both picked up nasty colds on Tuesday, so when Julie called on Wednesday August 28, 10:30 am to tell me Steve had died at 6 am, I could not offer to come over. I went by the following Monday, & Julie asked me to put together music for Steve's memorial - it is what he would have wanted. "How big a band?" "The bigger the better", Julie sez.

I told her 20-25 musicians, we got 19 signed up. Plus, King William Allen was there but did not want to sign up and play. We had 2 electric guitar + 1 acoustic electric amps, 5 mics on stage. We didn't get the 4 piece horn section we were shooting for (the fuzzyhorns), but the 2 horns we got, Mighty Joe Linville on tenor sax and Kevin Sparks on trumpet, acquitted themselves famously.

The memorial was Saturday, September 21, 3-5. We started setting up at 2 but still started 15 minutes late. We went a little over. It was at Clark Legacy Center, 601 E. Brannon Rd, Nicholasville. Past all the Brannon Crossing development, on the left.

Here's a pic without the horns. Len Wujcik on harp, Vanessa Davis on my electric classical + vocals, Ron Northrip on my bass, David Ponder on my Strat + vocals, Brent Carter on his Les Paul. David & Brent totally helped out playing guitar for the last hour. They love to play together, having played in Thirstin Howl with Sherri McGee & Matt Noell. Ron did me a double solid, taking over for me on bass (our planned bass player was a no-show) so I could work the list, and finishing out the afternoon without getting to play any guitar. Thanks David, Brent, & Ron!

Steve & I knew Vanessa from the Twisted Cork open mic. She has a fabulous voice, has written many most excellent original songs, and is a great guitarist. She is a star at the Twisted Cork open mic. It was really nice of her to come out and get that side of Steve's recent music represented.

Here's the full effect, with the fuzzyhorns on the left. That's Randy Ethridge aka Woody on drums. He was from Richmond, moved to FL 4-5 years ago. He was back up for the funeral, that same day, of his 25 YO daughter claimed by the opioid epidemic. A completely tragic loss. He came out to get some musical healing, I think he did.

Here's everyone who signed up. The original list got soaked & smeared by the 1/2 pint of Maker's Mark in my gig bag that decided to sacrifice itself to the gods, so I had to recopy it.

From the time Julie appointed me music director I was sweating bullets that it would go well. But it did go well, Julie, the kids, and her family all enjoyed it. We finished with all the musicians, including 4 harp players trading off riffs, on stage, doing "I Shall Be Released". Brent Carter told me he had to put his sunglasses on during the song, because he was tearing up. I saw Julie singing along, and many others.

Another thing at the end that was completely heart-warming was David Harrod giving out 3 harps to young ones there. Haywood was trying to get them all playing in the finale.

Here's what I posted to Steve's Tribute Wall.

I met Steve 10 years ago playing out at blues jams. He and I started playing in a duo around 3 years ago. My concept of our collaboration was: I would play guitar and sing and keep the songs going so Steve could play beautiful blues harp over them. He could find a beautiful harp part for pretty much anything. Everybody at the jams loved Steve; he was very encouraging to the less experienced players and was happy to act as a mentor - although he was surprised when they actually used the things he taught them. He did not have a mean bone in his body. I still several times a day think "I need to ask Steve about that" or "Steve needs to hear this song". I hope he stays with me for a long time - he will be a good influence. My deepest condolences to his family.
I had not thought of this beforehand, it just came out as I was writing it. But I've thought of it several times since then, and discussed it with people. When someone dies, as we all do, we still have them in our minds. I still think several times a day, "I need to ask Steve that" or "I bet Steve likes this song, I can't wait to hear what he does on harp with it." After people like this die, I think we sometimes try to let our recognition of these occurrences time out, because they make us sad when we realize the person is gone.

But, I think I will try to keep Steve alive in my head. He was one of the nicest people I ever met. He didn't have a mean bone in his body. I think he was always a good influence on me, so I will try and keep that influence around.

But NO Ancient Alien Astronauts! Steve loved that show, I finally watched an episode and, no way!

I have a Steve-shaped hole in my life. I can't imagine how big that hole is for Julie & the kids, Jesse & Rose. But I think his presence in our minds will be a positive influence for as long as any of us can remember.

Penultimately, here's 1 final pic of Steve: from the album cover of "Come Round Baby" by The Stella-Vees, 2007, 16 tracks. Steve was joined by Steve Parrish on drums, Jason Lockwood on guitar & vocals. Lindsay Olive told me he played bass on the album, I have no idea who the bass player in the picture is.

I burned 6 copies of the album and took them to the memorial. 5 were taken, yay! Anytime a track from this album comes up on shuffle play out of 20,000 songs in my iTunes, I immediately recognize Steve's harp.

And finally here is the song about Steve that Dr. Kevin Holm-Hudson wrote in 1 day. Dr. Kevin is a regular & star at Twisted Cork, and a prolific songwriter (and a UK music professor and a member of The Twiggenburys). He woke up in the morning with 2 lines about Steve and wrote 5 verses that day. It was very moving, both at Twisted Cork and LexJam.