Tuesday, September 13, 2016

My nice life

I am cooking dijon pork chops, asparagus and rice for my family's dinner tonight. My son is practicing his trombone in the living room; my daughter is doing her reading assignment on the couch in the den so she won't have to worry about doing it after gymnastics. My wife is still at work at the job she loves. Tonight, I have a rehearsal with the Well Respected Men.

I love my nice life, and I just wanted to share that with you.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Dennis Linde - Under the Eye

So you know how sometimes you get the feeling you're finally going to find the one thing you've been looking for forever on this very day? You've looked high and low, bypassing the obvious eBay route where it lies, overpriced and miles away. You've gone to every store at least twice, asking the snotty clerks who neither know who you're talking about nor care a fig. Months of this behavior can make one feel desperate or even a little crazy--does it still exist? Is it as good as I remember it being, or am I delusional? 

When you finally do run across that copy of Under the Eye, Dennis Linde's 1977 release on Monument Records, you stifle a little yip for fear that the hippie guy at the counter might hear you in time to add another number to the left of the price. Because the price is SO right, especially considering what the record goes for on eBay. 

Today was that day.

Dennis Linde, as you likely know, wrote "Burning Love," recorded by Elvis Presley, the King's last top-ten hit. He wrote "Christmas Eve Can Kill You" by the Everly Brothers. Dennis also wrote "Goodbye Earl" that was a Dixie Chicks standout cut. And he wrote and co-wrote dozens of other songs for country artists like Alan Jackson, Roger Miller, Arthur Alexander and Billy Swan, none of whom had any problems writing great songs of their own.

Under the Eye was an album that came into my life courtesy of the cut-out bin at the Musical Maze record store in Manhattan. With its bizarre cover featuring an outsized old-style fuse hurtling toward Earth, the album didn't exactly cry out as a natural listen. But the first song on side one was "Down to the Station." Linde's version of his B.W. Stevenson hit. Just didn't sound like anything I'd heard before, not even B.W.'s take; it was full of little tweaky sounds, tiny funky guitars, cheesy synth bass, loads of backing vocals. All of these things made me sit up and listen. And I loved it. I played that song over and over again, absorbing the minutiae. 

The rest of the album was as adventurous and dizzying: "There Goes My Heart Again" had a celebratory, nearly bombastic chorus; "The Good Ship Rock and Roll" was an anthem in search of a larger audience; his take on "Ghost Riders in the Sky" was nothing short of insane.

As with so many of the records I collected over the eons, Under the Eye and a couple of the other Linde solo albums I'd collected disappeared. Probably either in a big purge before a move or possibly as a Katrina aftereffect, all I know is it was gone. Then the turntable was no longer a part of my stereo systems, and no Linde records ever made the leap to digital, unfortunately. (When I become king of the world, I will make sure that some sort of anthology by Dennis Linde will become available as one of my first beneficent acts.)

I've spent the last couple of years waiting for this day, and I'm happy to report that Under the Eye is still the breathtakingly weird and wonderful experience I remember it being. Linde died almost ten years ago, but his music retains the maverick goodness that made it so fine in the first place.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Labor Day

My family is spending the Labor Day weekend at Pine Knoll Shores, NC, an island community between Atlantic Beach and Emerald Isle, that boasts a big old oceanside hotel called the Clam Digger Inn

I think it's safe to say that it's been many years since any renovations have been made here, despite coming under new management at the start of the summer; that's a mixed blessing, I guess. The bathrooms are starting to pull apart at the seams, the acoustical tiles are sagging with 'atmosphere' and other guests seem to be dining mainly on Miller Lite, judging from what they were hauling up the elevators last night. It looks like the hot tub is where most of the action is going to be, judging from the clientele and various Yelp reviews of the place.

But at the same time, the lobby and restaurant are sort of charming, with a 60s suburban den sort of decor, which is to say 'dark wood-panelled to the nth degree.' Seafood is served Calabash-style (meaning 'battered and fried' I think, and named after a town in NC), and if you're in a big hurry to be somewhere after supper, forget about it. The food comes when it and the server are good and ready. There's also a bar here in the building somewhere, but I've yet to see it.

And we come for the sand and the water anyway. The fears that Hermine would be potentially wrecking our time here have abated with the bright sun and tide. Only one question: when did it become acceptable to bring your portable speakers out to the beach, to serenade everyone in earshot with Today's Hot Country? Doesn't work for me, sorry. The waves are the music I most want to hear here.

I managed to throw my back out right before we left Durham. So I've been hobbling around on my great grandfather's cane, living on ibuprofen and half-cut iced tea. I'm trying not to spoil the vacation for anyone else, but it has put something of a crimp in my enjoyment of the beach proper (hard to negotiate sand with a cane, I find). But that's okay, there's reading to be done, and I'm truly digging A Pound Of Paper: Confessions of a Book Addict by John Baxter, in which guitar-god-turned-antiquarian-book-dealer Martin Stone plays a pivotal role.

Pine Knoll Shores is just down the island road from Salter Path, where my parents owned a house for many years. It was a sweet little cinderblock rectangle, painted bright yellow, and my parents loved going there to fish and shell and generally relax. It had three bedrooms, a living room/kitchen area, a bathroom and a tiny screened porch that looked out over the Atlantic. They finally sold it when it became too much work to keep it up--the stairs down to the beach were inevitably thrashed and trashed by hurricanes, requiring rebuilding every year; and renters were often inclined to leave damage or messes or take things that belonged to us. 

Every year, my dad took pictures of the house from every imagineable angle, and every year, the encroaching condo world of Pine Knoll Shores loomed larger and larger in the background. 

That was probably the last place my mom and dad regularly left home to visit. I never got to spend as much time there because the time that they owned it was mostly after I was out of the house and in the throes of early adulthood.

We drove down Hoffman Beach Road on our way in yesterday to discover that the house was still there, albeit upgraded significantly. It's been extended in both directions, and there's even a garage built on in front of the old garage. It appears that the previously unmowable yard gets mowed with regularity nowadays.

Part of me wishes I could go say hello to whoever's there, but I sense it'd be a renter and I'd freak them out and invade their privacy, so I won't. But it makes me happy to know that our little bungalow has lived on in spite of the build-up of the whole island. My parents would be pleased as well, I think.

I wish you all a happy Labor Day weekend, and I hope it's as sweet as ours has been so far. We get to make our own memories and relive some old ones, too, even if we have to hear the lilting tones of Luke Bryan from a few chairs down the row...

Friday, September 2, 2016

Stand Against HB2 Finale - Cat's Cradle - Carrboro NC - November 6

In the words of George Sanford, "it's the big one." 

Make plans to attend now. We need you.

The final concert of the Stand Against HB2 series will be held November 6 at Cat's Cradle in Carrboro, NC.

General admission is $15 in advance, $20 at the door, with all proceeds going to help EqualityNC.

Here's who's playing:

The dB's.
The Fabulous Knobs.
The Love Language.
The Veldt.
Olsen Twins.
My 3 Sons.
Happy Abandon.
Onward Soldiers.
Blue Cactus.
the grand shell game.
Matt Phillips & the Back Pocket.
Brett Harris.
6 String Drag.
Tres Chicas.
Robert Kirkland.
Rod Abernethy.
Ur Mom.
Orlando Parker, Jr.

Follow this link for the Cat's Cradle event page with individual band links.
Follow this link for the Facebook event invitation--because I'm not on there anymore, please feel free to share it in my absence.

Follow this link to donate to the Stand Against HB2 GoFundMe page, because it would help a lot, too.