A Southern Christmas Haiku

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mists dance in the light -
children sleep snugly knowing
wondrous joys await
© Reese

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Rollin’ Golden Pub - 2015

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After 2014’s wondrous success of the Rollin’ Golden Pub, there was no doubt that it must keep on rollin’.  For any who might suspect that a rollin’ golden pub would present a significant insurance risk, not to mention a public hazard, you would be correct.  However, the RGP is simply a vehicle for sharing Captureassorted brews, offering, most typically, a platform from which to pour (the tailgate) and, in adverse weather, provide shelter from the storm.  Truly, there  is no mobility involved, until the present property owner becomes alert to their increased premises risk, at which point the RGP will roll on.

Rather than immediately delving into the details,  a statistical review may first be helpful to shed light on past experience and provide a predictive path forward.

 

  2014 2015
# of Pub Visits 12 15
# of Beers Sampled 34 63
Avg Alcohol % 8.6% 8.4%
Ratebeer Avg 98.5 97.1
BeerAdvocate Avg 94 91.7
# of Brewery States 15 41
# of Foreign Beer 4 2
Ratebeer 100’s 10 17
BeerAdvocate 100’s 4 5

 

CEO’s everywhere should be drooling.  For an extra 25% of activity, we almost doubled (185%) our output.  Er, intake.  That is the result of planning, endurance, dedication and beer mules.  What’s that?  Beer mules.  These are people we send on buying errands as they travel.  Friends.  Coworkers.  Direct reports.  Bosses.  Get ‘er done (check the link; no sexism here!).   However, our beer mules are more like beer bees, despite their faithfulness and utility.  This comparative article shows the type of competition that the RGP faces in our acquisitions.  Yes, brethren, we need your help for 2016!

In other results, we slightly reduced our alcohol by volume (ABV) consumption.  That wasn’t intentional, but if it makes you feel better that we’re not challenging our sobriety at the conclusion of a tasting, there you go.  And, on that subject, we are savvy enough to know that it is not the ABV that is the issue.  The percentage matters, of course, but it’s the volume that may imperil us. Don’t worry! We’re professionals at managing risk, thus:

RGP Bylaws

The following are understood to be the operating principles of the RGP, an IFG (Informally Formed Group) without legal standing, to meet approximately monthly at a publicly undisclosed parking space, for the tasting, enjoyment and subsequent judgment of beers reputed to be of the very highest quality or which, in a pinch, have a really cool label.

Forthwith, RGP members shall:

1.  Limit group consumption to a total volume of 72 fluid ounces, in due regard for preventing injury to public health and civility.

2.  The presenting host member(s) are required to arrange for suitable glassware and product refrigeration for each scheduled event.  And a bottle opener.

3.  A quorum is required for a standing event to take place, a quorum being defined as more than three members but fewer than five. 

4.  As requirements for IFGs are, by definition, not well defined legally, if at all, the RGP hereby establishes that its count shall be four members, such that the quorum requirements can be met.  Such is considered fitting and appropriate so as to not overtax participants with a deluge of e-mails, conflicts, cancellations, delays, etc. etc. etc. so that such good times may be first be scheduled and then enjoyed.

Henceforth declared,

February 16, 2015 Anno Domini.

*All beers for one, one beer for all*

It should be noted that our volume limit is not always exactly 72 ounces, but any variance lies well within our unstated margin of error.

Directly related to our almost doubling of output, our average scores by the rating agencies declined somewhat.  If we pursued “the best” as a sole pursuit, our supplies would be scarce and our gatherings infrequent.  We find our results to be acceptable, as the average ratings remain within the “Excellent” range as defined by the advising authorities.  Additionally, with consideration given to the supply chain difficulties of conniving rogues (see previously linked article), we achieved an exceptional year for our beerholders.

 

Like so many other entities, our results also indicate an intentional effort to keep American jobs.  We cut our imports by 50% and greatly increased our domestic purchases.  Supporting “local” businesses depends on where you are, or, for our endeavors, where the brewery is located.  As such, we  applied ourselves to supporting each State within the Beer Union.  In the course of two years, through our own reconnaissance and our tireless plying of obligations from  our beer bees, we have sampled beers from 46 of our States.  Plus, the District of Columbia.  Arkansas, Nevada, South Dakota, and Wyoming… we’re coming for you.  This ambition is more difficult than the average reader may appreciate.  Our general “cut” line is a 90 score on Beer Advocate.  Certainly, we’ve enjoyed beers rated less, but some States can only get you so far.  Which begs the question:  If an almost unpopulated State like Idaho can deliver a beer with an 85 rating, what’s Tennessee’s excuse?

We demand quality.  And while the beers we tasted this year with a 100 rating from BeerAdvocate marginally increased, the Ratebeer result almost mirrored our increase in intake percentage.  Well done, troops.  And, in the course of the two years, we’ve had three of Beer Advocate’s Top 10 beers, and five of their Top 20.  In consideration of the high demand for these beers, some of which are available only at the brewery, it’s a strong achievement.  We’re golden.  Or orange.  Or, let’s just segue to Julius.  Absolutely delicious.

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That then, is the summary of our annual report.  We encourage you to click on our icon below for our full calendar year results, now doubled in size from one page to two, which will open an Adobe .pdf view.

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Dulles – My Favorite Airport

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I’ve been traveling significantly more for my work the last two years.  New places are good to visit, especially if I have time to venture beyond the local company office or a client’s facility.  In the pursuit of visiting places that are distinctively local and that are open after business hours, that typically leaves breweries.  That said, I’m not unaware of the places I pass by or through or other opportunities. 

I’ve been through Washington Dulles International Airport three times now. I was struck by the architecture my first visit, and on the third, I had time to take some photos with my fairly capable iPhone.  Among many historical footnotes, Dulles was the first to be designed specifically for jets, opening in 1962.  It’s said in Wiki that it is “highly regarded for its graceful beauty, suggestive of flight.”  Perhaps, as you can judge for yourself from Wiki’s picture:

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It is striking, but it is the interior that I favor.  The roof/ceiling is the dominating feature.   It’s made of precast lightweight concrete and hangs on tension cables (catenary) somewhat ominously without the support of any interior columns.  The roof is supported, therefore, only by the walls, which are angled outward to bear the load.  Considering the minimalist steel structures and the ample light, I’d call it simple elegance. 

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This is one of two airports owned by the Federal government, and from a visitor standpoint, this facility seems to be something they that did and continue to do right.  For example, they have likely resisted efforts to paint, finish, or otherwise artistically “improve” upon the unfinished concrete surface.   And, it has blessedly remained absent of any attempts of further finishing or decoration. 

Another favorite is the simple styling of the airline kiosks, which run the length of the terminal.  In short, it’s an old terminal that despite updates has retained its then “Modern Movement” retro look.

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The traffic control tower looks like a cross between an aircraft carrier bridge and structural Jenga.

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Elsewhere, the facility maintains a simplistic styling, with open sight lines and color consistency throughout.  Here we have a walking platform that looks suitable for sparring Jedi.

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That walkway runs above the passenger shuttles, which run within lighted enclosures.

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Where escalators are involved, it’s open areas that emphasize angles.

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Lastly, the color is maintained at the departure gates as well.

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The airport’s architect., Eero Saarinen, also designed New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport terminal and the St. Louis Arch (another catenary structure of a sort).  As well, he designed MIT’s Kresge Auditorium (a spherical dome of concrete set on only three points) as well as the MIT Chapel, a simplistic cylinder with… a moat.

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The Economically Displaced

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My career has offered the opportunity to visit all sorts of industries, manufacturers, wholesalers, real estate owners and more.  On the one hand it’s all very interesting to see how things get made and occasionally meet the people who moved ideas forward to create companies and, one hopes, personal wealth.  Back in High School, it didn’t really take a careful eye to discern those that were moving forward immediately into college or a specific trade based on their interest.  The rest… I really had no clue what their next steps were and didn’t dwell upon it.  Having visited employers over the years, I’ve seen the jobs that people take when they lack skills and/or a higher education.  In other words, I’ve seen a lot of crap jobs that I’m thankful that I don’t have to do.  Operating a machine press.  Fileting chicken breasts.  Sewing garments.  “Material handlers.” Rendering.  De-shelling shrimp.  Logging.  There are many more, which involve either the extremes of manual labor and/or mindless repetition. 

Wall-e

Thank you, Henry Ford.  Tradespeople used to develop advanced skills, guaranteeing their livelihood until the production line simplified tasks and made human labor interchangeable, increasing productivity and lowering per unit costs via wage reductions.  Fast forward to one of my favorite movies, WALL-E.   The people who have fled Earth are on a spacegoing cruise ship until the despoiled Earth may recover.  Over generations, they have lost muscle strength and possibly bone density due to space travel and the lack of a need to work.  Other than being obese and possibly lazy, a question is how appealing that future is, to recreate full-time and be served by robots.  As I occasionally think to myself, “I was born for a life of recreation but wasn’t provided the financing.” Drat.

That vision expectation demands, as underpaid (ahem) fast food workers would declare, social engineering solutions so that everyone by virtue of being born can enjoy their deserved bounty.  After all, if the Kardashians get all the toys, why can’t everyone?   Closer to reality, I have a broader appreciation of the trends I’ve witnessed… exporting of jobs due to global competition and lower wage costs, warehouses with automated picking and sorting equipment, individual tasks replaced by robots that are safer, more efficient, and reliable, etc.   For a business owner, there’s a lot of pressure to provide products at a price that will sell.  Quality has to be exceptional to command a high price (iPhones) or productivity has to be super efficient to make a profit in intensively competitive products (Amazon).  Viewed another way, if you were a business person, would you prefer a larger workforce with the assocaited wage increases, increasing benefits costs, vacation schedules, absenteeism and a host of other issues, or a more predictable production environment aided to the greatest extent possible by automation?  At a minimum, those tasks that do not require skills  or are repetitive are ripe to go.   Need that chicken cut up into sections?  Get a robot with appropriate software to scan it, analyze and calcualte the optimal cuts, and engage a high pressure water jet to cut and trim it.  While you’re at it, build a smart conveyor system that sorts and sends the parts to the next stage, be it breading, packaging, individual quick freeze, etc,   Multiply that by however many production lines there are and…  you’re not only competitive, but as a business owner, you’re probably profiting more.   It’s not just manufacturing, wholesale or agricultural jobs where machines are dominating.  Driver-less taxis may be next.

How about logging?  It’s difficult and very dangerous work.  Can it be automated?  You betcha.

 

In this case, that machine displaces three additional employees in a crew, and outproduces manual methods by a high multiple.

Well, those are just issues for unskilled laborers, right?   Not so fast.  Let’s say you’re young, not worried about eye diseases but want a new prescription.  Get out your smartphone.  Buy an app and save on the expenses of an optemistrist visit.  Society (and parents!) has encouraged its youth to get into high-tech, and they’re great at it, writing code that essentially replaces the “thought product” of humans and coupling it with systems that work great… while displacing people from their jobs or occupations.   Here’s a lengthier article with some specific examples. 

I’m not arguing for/against or assigning blame.  Economic disruption doesn’t just upend businesses, but people as well.  We all know that from the impact of a Wal-Mart in a small community, the same Wal-Mart we shop at because we’re controlling our personal costs just like employers.   Still, for the moment, it seems that the people with “job security” are those who build automation and can service/repair it.  For a time.  A healthy consideration should also be given to the trades that affluent or well educated parents would caution their kids to avoid, but plumbing, electricians, etc… those are jobs that require skills and knowledge… and can’t be automated.

As the media wage war on the Top 1% of wealth holders vs. the rest of the population, I’d expect the wealth gap to worsen… and we’re reminded regularly that it already is.  Perhaps that’s the result of technological advancements moreso than the attributed uncaring greed.  If Wal-Mart is going to sell your favorite product at a price you can afford, the suppliers have to reduce their own costs.   Taken to it’s logical end, how do all those displaced people get by?  Taxation of the 1% can’t feed, clothe, and shelter the… let’s say 80%.    Where the dispossed become suitable numerous and motivated, societal upheaval ends may be ugly.   Well, I’m cheery today, so let’s see what Steven Hawking is getting at when he warns of “technological socialism.”  The headline gets it wrong, but I’d generally agree with the possibility that he suggests.  We’ll always have our poor, but the recent downturn in the economy displaced many who could not and still can not find jobs to return them to their prior incomes.  Certainly part of that is economic shrinkage, but faced with cutting employees, consider the improvements that companies made in efficiency out of the pure necessity of it.  Leaner management, smarter operating systems, fewer positions.  

And finally, an article about paying people for being alive, something which we do for a sizeable portion of our population already.  With this kind of progressive thinking, the future is awesomely bright for mankind on all fronts.  We just have to figure out who will pay for it, and leave WALL-E to clean up the mess.

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All Them Witches–Dying Sufer Meets His Maker

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Another year comes to a close, and… this just in.  All Them Witches is a Nashville based band that has everything to do with happenstance location and nothing to do with stereotypes.  Dying Surfer Meets His Maker is an odd title but also aptly named.  If you’re thinking sort2015-1-2-2 of a stoner, hippy, psychedilc sound based on the “Surfer,” you may be right.  If you’re thinking of the Silver Surfer and a jam band that makes the sounds for traveling through space to an ill end, you may be right.  I’ll tend with the latter, due to the band’s motif of “stars.”

This is an interesting album, one that improves with each listen and one that fares best when heard as a whole.  I’m undecided on “El Centro,” that promises much with a Black Rebel Motorcycle Club aggression, heavy, dark and ponderous.  But at 8:25 in length, I expect it to go somewhere.  This varies a little but never has a payoff.  Maybe hippies like it that way.  To me, it whets the appetite but ends up sounding like filler.  Skipping that song, though, what an enjoyable album this is, part instrumental jamming, part tightly writen song structures, with obtuse lyrics or spoken word passages that suggest a liveable disappointment regarding an acknowledged but inaccessible god… maybe. 

Whatever.  The music is great, and this album is built to be heard as a whole.  There are highlights, certainly. “Mellowing,” an acoustic instrumental, is where the album begins to soar.  This serves as a beautiful prelude to “Open Passageways,” one of the album’s two standout tracks.  Similarly, the curiously titled “Instrumental 2 (Welcome to the Caveman Future)” serves as a preparation for “Talisman,” the song that captures the spirit of the whole endeavor perfectly. 

I’m hoping this CD will keep my interest, and as their limited past recordings suggest, they’re already evolving, developing an intentional focus.  I want to hear more.

Suggested: “Talisman” and “Open Passageways”

4 of 5 STARS_thumb

 

 

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Decatur CD

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I remember at the dawn of CDs a music enthusiast who lived his dream by opening a store named Atlanta CD, a bit of a misnomer as it was located in Roswell, GA.  It was a treat because... they had a store full of CDs, not a rack of CDs amid rows of vinyl.   Those vinyl albums sold for $7 and CDs sold for twice that, but cleaning vinyl discs, while a labor of love, is a labor, as is flipping it over after 20 minutes.  And despite best practices and intentions, a snap, crackle or pop may appear which I can only characterize like this:  You’re in this listening “place,” then you’re cast from it immediately, once for the interruption and twice for the desperation to determine if further cleaning would remove the blemish or if you were stuck with it forever.   So, yeah.  Double me up on that pricetag.   That was circa 1987, and I guess I didn’t travel often enough from Birmingham to keep Atlanta CD in business.  It wouldn’t be a sole occurence in the years to come.

I was recently in Decatur, GA for a concert, and decided to opt for a quick detour to metro Atlanta’s only remaining quality CD store.  Yeah, Best Buy still has a rack of best sellers that is replenished annually for Black Friday, and used CDs can be found everywhere in a few remaining stores that sell comic books, action figures, DVDs, Blurays, gaming cards and anything else that might touch the wallet of the presumed demographic.  I called ahead to see if they had the CD I wanted, from an obscure band who had only been released it several weeks earlier.  They did.  I asked how much it was, and was asked/told “how much you got.”  I could hear the tension, and I understood it. 

Why does anyone buy something from a retailer?  This depends on the product, but it comes down to a “I want it now” price vs. “Wait for it in the mail” price.  I’m willing to pay more to support a local business, but, truthfully, that difference is not stricly defined.  It depends.  And, as I don’t live anywhere close to Decatur, this isn’t a decision that I have to make that regularly.

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When amazon.com arrived some years ago, I thought it was the savior for my music purchasing interests.  Big-box retailers with massive selections like Tower or Virgin weren’t convenient, and smaller chains like Turtle’s maintained selections that primarily met the needs of people who listen to pop music or who were, like me, replacing thier albums with CDs.  And never mind going to a Record Bar or Musicland in a mall… $18 for a CD?  egad.  But for me, spying that imported copy of Renaissance’s “Song for All Seasons” made me a spiritual disciple of searching “the big river.”  For whatever reasons, other countries led the U.S. by far in converting  more obscure works to CD, the very things that were the target of my musical quests.  Amazon became a habit, but it still held second place for new releases.  New music demands a listening asap.  And that could be found in some store down the street.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO, continues to push at innovating online retailing.  My “Wait for it price” has surprisingly not increased as the competitors are essentially banquished.  Whatever reservations I had about paying Shipping & Handling seem to have vanished now that I pay a good chunk for Amazon Prime, a sum that I probably come out ahead on but haven’t taken the time to study.  And whether it’s the USPS delivering on Sundays or Bezos’ investigation in having drone deliveries, having to wait means less, especially in areas where Amazon now offers same day delivery (not to my street as yet).  He’s disrupted commerce by providing products and services in a new way, and he recognizes the potential for others to disrupt his model.  I won’t enter the ethical argument of displaced business owners and their workers.  I feel for them all, just as I feel for production methods which keep workers unskilled.  But. 

That “but,” multiplied many times over by the CD buying public, has netted Atlanta one quality CD store… that result no less because of a full generation of those who prefer digital streaming, iTunes, etc.  (Note, there are several other notable CD stores remaining in the area that others may prefer, but I’m confident in the line between “notable” and “quality.”)

So what is a quality CD store to do these days?  1) Charge a fair price,  2) Maintain an inventory that people desire,  3) Know your product, and 4) Treat your customers well.

Well, they had my CD.  It was the owner, Jerry, who took my call, and he offered to hold it.  Deal.  I had a few minutes to browse before meeting friends.  It’s not a large store, maybe 1300 sq.ft. of retail space.

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To keep with trends, he has some vinyl and some used CDs, but the main rack for my interests is at the right above.  In this and other visits, I’ve noticed that he maintains an excellent selection of CDs for artists favored by a discerning buyer.  You’re not going to be exhillarated by the Bieber selections here, if there even is one.  But, let’s say Robin Trower, a 70’s era guitarist who was exceptional then and remains so now:

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To find 10 different titles is amazing anywhere and unfathomable in a store of this size.  And that’s the secret.  Vary the selection, but keep the quantity simple.  You’re not going to sell two of the same title on the same day.  Sell one, buy another to replace it.  Listen to your buyers.  Know their tastes.  And add your own appreciation of music to the mix. 

I wanted to go ahead and start the disc spanning in my short drive from the store.  I slit the package, opened the sleeve and no CD.  No CD?  I’ve been buying albums, casettes, and CDs, in my reckoning, for 37 years.  I have never bought any of these to open the sleeve and find no product within it.  Until now.  Great.  I hate returning things, moreso for the “little guy” who somehow knew to stock “Dying Surfer Meets His Maker” by All Them Witches.  Anyway… Jerry, somewhat frequently referred to on Yelp as an amalgam of “old bearded guy,” apparently has seen it happen before.  Miracles, he had another copy, which he opened to verify that the CD was properly ensconced within and non-begrudingly sent me along my way.  That’s customer service, folks.  I hope he gets a credit from his supplier.

I don’t envision myself driving to Decatur any more frequently than when I go to Eddie’s Attic or the Decatur Art Festival, but I’ll continue to make time for this store.  Oh, and the awesome Brick Store pub.

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Windows Live Writer Won’t Connect

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I’ve searched the title of this blog a number of times over the years, always finding threads where Google points at Microsoft or vice versa.

If you found this page and are a bit frustrated, there is great news!  Microsoft, the absentee owners of Windows Live Writer, finally yielded the code to the aggravationOpen Source community.   The short of it is that the new equivalent, Open Live Writer, has Google’s OAuth 2 authentication system, which means… the software will synch to Blogger as it should, without you having to figure out where to find that dang link is to generate a one time “app password for less secure software.”

Announced Dec. 9th, Open Live Writer works now, and I trust that it will only get better.  You can read more about the technical details and download a working copy (for free) at the .NET foundation.

This whole “issue” for bloggers is somewhat stupefying.  First, that across blogging services, there are really very few blogging options when it comes to third party software choices.  I’ve tried several, they all have various shortcomings so that no one is fully satisfied – and generally suffer for lack of updates.  Where Windows/Open Live Writer shines is importing and placing images, which is more complicated or inconsistent in other software.  It seems like competition would have netted a better product by now.

The second surprise is that Microsoft essentially let it go for free.  There are many who use this product, and it’s surprising that someone somewhere had not offered a few bucks for it… a while ago.  I’m not complaining with this good news.  My blogging is likely to increase now that I have a way to write that is familiar and compatible to my needs (and works).

I don’t blame Google, whose free Blogger service I use, for improving their authentication systems.  However, for a company that profits from their search engine, I’m surprised that they hadn’t devoted some attention to improving thier own direct blogging interface at the Blogger site, which has a bare minimum for WYSIWYG entry. 

Whatever.  I look forward to seeing the software evolve, finally.

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Ralph Stanley - Live at Eddie's Attic

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That, ladies and gentlemen, is false advertising.  I admit I'm not a Ralph Stanley fan.  I hadn't heard his name or his music before this show.  I'm a music enthusiast, though, offered a quite affordable evening out.  I like some bluegrass music but not enough to know the history of it.  It's easy to research that Dr. Stanley holds an esteemed position within that genre, beginning with The Stanley Brothers and the Clinch Mountain Boys.  Accolades include a National Heritage Award from President Reagan, National Medal of Arts by "W" Bush, a member of the Grand Ole Opry, inducted into the International Bluegrass Hall of Fame... etc.   

This was his 6th annual appearance at Eddie's attic.  There was an enjoyable opening act who played 6 or 7 Christian songs on solo acoustic guitar, thankful for the opportunity to play at Eddie's for several days.  Next was a bluegrass band whose name I didn't catch but who had received the Dove Award, a music award specific to Christian music.  They were pretty good, but played too many songs for a second opening act.  The leader of the ensemble had recounted a story of being two years old, on stage and holding the leg of his "paw paw" then played a song about him.


And, after he called his "paw paw" to the stage, it still took more than a few seconds to realize that this was the Clinch Mountain Boys and "paw paw" was Dr. Stanley, though noted to be a little under the weather and with recent stomach surgery... but he wanted to be there for his fans... 


Well, there he is, singing "Man of Constant Sorrow," a song he popularized in the 1950's.  I'll have to say that I'm glad to have heard him sing it, even it was less than a two minute version.  The next couple songs I don't recall, but both required his grandson to kick start his memory of the verses.  Then it was time for the intermission which invited quite a line of people seeking his autograph and photo. They're the purists called out for an event like this, a chance to see an 88 year old legend.  We had seats in the front row and decided they would be better enjoyed by others who desired to be closer to greatness.  Er, it was a work night.

The first half, at least, did not have any Christmas music either.  Maybe the second half did.  The Clinch Mountain Boys were an enjoyable, talented group though, with three of the members having released their own CDs.  I know I'd enjoy it more with Alison Krauss on lead vocal.

It was a pleasant evening, but going forward, they should advertise the Clinch Mountain Boys and note a possible appearance of Dr. Stanley.  I have no disrespect for the performance, but none of us anticipated his present infirmities, which appears to have advanced significantly in the last two years based on YouTube videos.  




... which actually doesn't fare too poorly against a young Bob Dylan in his first televised performance in 1963.


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David Gilmour - Rattle That Lock

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I’ll never complain that David Gilmour has released something new.  I like his guitar style so much I’ll buy his product unheard.  He delivers that on Rattle That Lock, not in an unsparing way, but in, sadly, too songs that are too subdued and melancholy to be revisited often.  Track by track we’ll go:
“5 A.M.” – a nice way to wake up, but not the ideal mood setter for a CD.  It too closely recalls the recent Endless River coda by Pink Floyd, a lifeless meandering of soothing sounds.

“Rattle That Lock” – I would prefer that he hadn’t taken an 80’s pop approach to this song, particularly the synthesizers, but the tune is decent.  Gilmour’s voice barely manages the strain of the higher notes, but the guitar sees this song through.  In the canon of playlist worthy songs, this one is good for a short season. 

“Faces of Stone” and “A Boat Lies Waiting” – “Faces” has its  moments, but in another era, both of these would be known as album filler.  If anyone listens to the album enough, maybe they’ll become more appreciated.  The tone they set, however, is to deflate any sense of pace.

“Dancing Right in Front of Me” is an offbeat waltz of a song, distinctive stylistically yet finding ample room for his guitar, not quite a gem, but not too far, either.

Gilmour’s guitar salvages “In Any Tongue” which is to say that the solo sounds like it might fit in any of his better songs.  That’s good enough, right?  “Beauty” follows, an instrumental song that might have been borrowed from Floyd’s The Division Bell.  It’s good, though unfortunate that you have to wait for two minutes for the lift.

Although the overall tone of the album is a little too slow and meandering, it does venture into quirky instrumental flashes, if not overall styles.  “The Girl in the Yellow Dress” is a jazzy number that is completely different from anything he’s done before (such as featuring a sax and refraining from a guitar solo), and judged outside of expectations, it’s a real treat…

“Today” continues with visible signs of life.  There’s a lot to like about it, including the tune, backing vocals, and guitar… but there’s nothing to love about it other than it’s not listless.

“And Then…” is a typical Gilmour instrumental – beautiful, showing the craft that his fans have come to love… and requisitely slow enough for his slow slide technique to have its space.

Overall, this is an okay album.  It won’t appeal to fans outside of the Pink Floyd universe, and those, like me, are just thankful to hear something new, even if it isn’t what we hoped for.  The answer isn’t a Roger Waters, but some collaborator with the gumption to remind him that at 69, it’s still okay to rock.  I wonder if he’s met Robin Trower…


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