Archive for June, 2020


Just Add Music…

A consistent activity in my movement repertoire was missing a great motivator: Music. I ride my bike for an escape, to be present with the outdoors, and for a chance to hold a conversation with myself. To maximize the conversation and have a clear thought process, distractions had to be at a minimum. I never hindered my concentration and rides with a soundtrack. Today’s period and my simple mind began to question why not.

I strive to hone in on something specific to contemplate and discuss while riding. Consistently my self-talk would be rudely interrupted. Out of nowhere, the last song played before departing enters my head. This made me realize – though I never took action – my last musical move was vital. It’s dire if I was rappin’ and dancin’ with my youngest five minutes before a ride and “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” is setting my ride’s tempo. Being shackled by the last play caused me to reevaluate what courses through my head.

During this phase of improving upon my ride experience, we entered an unknown era of a pandemic. This brought flexibility into my day, a chance to increase my cycling volume. But the sudden and great increase caused burn-out. Riding became a chore, one that I had to find something inside of me to make happen.

When in a rut, re-evaluate and attack from a different angle with a fresh approach. Removing riding or drastically reducing the volume would equal an irritable person. This period was trying enough, if I have the power to control my demeanor through my actions, happy-inducing activities remain.

To combat unwanted songs bouncing around my head, and as an extra push to ride, music was going to be the experimental variable. On a trail early one morning, free of cars and most trail users, I attempted a ride with one earbud. My thought process was to place the right bud in and tuck the left into my jersey. To hear anyone looking to pass, I wanted the ability to hear out of my left side. Still to this day, I’m rockin’ one bud in.

Incorporating music into my ride is a habit. I expect it, and dare I say it, require its motivational power. We all know music can impact our ability to push harder than before. Sometimes it’s the message behind a song that angers you, the hard-hitting beat make your legs attempt to keep up with the rhythm’s tempo, or it’s simply a fun-ass track that puts a pep in your pedal stroke.

There’s a reason fitness classes create uptempo, bright playlists, the music helps to accelerate you. My playlist was created upon the arrival of Spotify back in 2012; at this point, it’s deep, full of hard-hitting songs meant to intensify and motivate a workout. It ranges from angst-ridden crunchy rock, to party-like jams your favorite hip-hop DJ might drop, with electro heavy bangers dialed in for the sweaty club. In another life, the type of music I’d queue up before stepping out to party. And now a playlist solely for movement.

I monitor ride data and consistently compare current versus previous rides. When comparing a plugged in ride against a non-music one, the intensity is cranked; times are improved upon, mileage is greater, and most importantly, music continues to further be a part of every move I make.


KLK W/ Rosalia

Am I too old for abstract experimental electronic? Some might consider it avant-garde, others would criticize its lack of melody and declare it “noise”. The distortion, sonic boom-like pulses and not readily available song structure might scare many away. My listening evolution seems to do the opposite of what age is supposed to do: Be inclusionary, no matter the genre and its approach at musical composition. The ability to be anti- discriminatory in life has never been more relevant. No need for any bias towards something unconventional.

Arca, a Venezuelan producer reimagining pop music through various genres by using explosive percussion, haunting soundscapes, interspersed celestial vocals and any other technique to push pop music forward, recruited Catalan’s nuevo flamenco songstress Rosalia for “KLK”. Ajendra Ghersi, known as Arca, opts for an explosive reggaeton beat with a chopped up glitchy base where Rosalia’s voice can be woven into this club ready experiment.

Spotify’s Release Radar is my safety net. Even though I routinely return to an artist, a guest spot on an unknown artist’s release can easily be missed. But the Radar knows, the powers that be categorized me as a Rosalia fan and asked me to take a chance on a collaboration with an unknown. With my headphones on, protecting any potential listeners from experiencing Arca’s reimagined cacophonous pop music, I realize sometimes all I need is a beat to appreciate cyber-like electronic noise.


Last (Night’s) Picture Show

If you’re going to revive live music for Illinois, for the cause, go all in. Bring an eclectic 30 song deep setlist spanning your discography, don’t hesitate to throw something unexpected to your fans; and cover appropriate songs for the times. Roll the dice and perform in an unconventional venue: A drive-in movie theatre. Local H pulled out all the stops as they graced the Harvest Moon Drive-in in central Illinois for last night’s Part I of a two-part series. Part II debuts tonight and this sequel is bound to not suck.

It’s been a quarter since live music, the kind where you can’t control the volume and the band can feed off the audience’s energy. The Chicago-based duo Local H haven’t been stagnant during these three months, but like you, they live for and crave the live music experience. It wasn’t going to be the other guys breaking down live music barriers.

Scott Lucas and Ryan Harding continue to take chances, pique my interest, and be music industry leaders during these unprecedented times. And for that, I simply say: Thank you.

Local H at the Harvest Moon Drive-in Photo Gallery via Car Con Carne


Reviving Live Music w/ Local H

If it’s anyone who’s going to innovate, and be an active participant in bringing back a semblance of normalcy to the music scene, of course it’s Local H. As reported previously, the Chicago-based duo has been more active than most during this unprecedented era we’re slogging through. All the virtual gigs, acoustic performances, and Scott’s video journaling were Local H keeping their knives sharpened for Illinois’ 1st live concert post COVID-19. The hard hitting, never one to back down easily duo, is projecting live from the drive-in at Harvest Moon in Gibson City, IL this week.

The Chicago Sun-Times has an excellent write-up on Local H’s last few months of helping to support the scene, the logistics of rockin’ a drive-in theatre, and Lucas’ thoughts on the good this period has created for artists and fans.

Local H Starts Reviving Live Music With Drive-in Concerts


What Do You Say!

Regardless of the year a song was released, it may be brand-new to my ears. It’s not necessary to criticize the current state of releases, you always have the option to step back in time and explore a previous era or genre. Since I do dabble in funk, soul, rockabilly, amongst other sounds from the 60s, Spotify notifies me via my Release Radar of reissues and collections from the past debuting today.

Chubby Checker, the early Rock N Roller with a knack for dance tutorials, best known for his rendition of Hank Ballard & The Midnighters’ “The Twist”, was an unexpected artist in my Release Radar. “What Do You Say!”, a concise, yet formidable ditty from 1963 was a pleasant surprise nestled in between 2020 debuts.

Cameo Parkway, a Philadelphia-based label from the late 50s and 60s spreading upbeat love with sounds like Checker’s, has compiled a collection of Chubby’s entitled Dancin’ Party: The Chubby Checker Collection (1960-1966). “What Do You Say!” is one of 21 movin’ and groovin’ dance numbers that cooks from start to finish. The Wurlitzer, a breakneck rhythm, Chubby’s plea for eternal adoration, and sexy sounding backup singers remind me there’s always great, new music out there.


A Dangerous Queue

It’s dinnertime, the mood is set with The Dave Brubeck Quartet’s Time Out LP. A perfect accompany piece to a family-friendly dinner. The instrumental jazz meshes perfectly with the relaxing aura an outside meal amongst the trees and sunshine has created. Time Out is upbeat at times, peaceful at others, contemplative throughout, and lacks offensive language.

When streaming, I incorporate three different devices to listen to Spotify. Silly in reality, but convenience is king when you’re a parent who sets his day to a consistent soundtrack. If I queue up tracks on my mobile and stop the music mid-queue, it will be continued upon hitting play next time on any device in Spotify; if I stream via my iPad in the kitchen, that previous queue will continue after one newly selected song plays. Depending on what’s happening, and who’s present in the room, this can either be irrelevant or mission critical.

Dave Brubeck Quartet’s Time Out record kicks off energetically with “Blue Rondo a la Turk” with a bright, frenetic piano melody. The melody provides many bookends throughout as each member improvises between the initial piano refrain. When listening to music amongst my family, I respect their ears and maintain a reasonable volume. But we’re outside, the smooth sound of jazz is setting the stage, the dial is cranked more than usual.

Spotify has a crossfade option, and on the dinnertime device, it’s set to three seconds. As the quartet brings it all together for the finale of “Blue Rondo a la Turk”, they fade out, the rat-a-tat-tat fades in:

“Back at it like a crack addict/Mr. Black Magic, crack a bitch back” Killer Mike explosively spits in the introduction to RtJ’s adrenaline fueled banger of an opener “Yankee and the Brave”.

My body instinctively springs up, throw my plate onto the table, and sprint with extreme urgency over to my device. My wife, never one to appreciate a fair share of my musical choices when I listen independently, shouts, “Oh, we’re now listening to Daddy’s gangsta-rap!”. After clearing out the queue, I saunter back to my meal and retort with, “Yeah, that’s more of a protest rap.”


Jens Sells Me Artisan Soap

I purchased a bar of soap because of Jens Lekman. While perusing the farmer’s market, a vendor’s soap table caught my eye; I quickly gravitated toward what he was hocking. Sure, it was an artisan soap display, with their unique, high falutin scents, quirky shaped bars, and unlike Irish Spring prices. This vendor only needed “sandalwood” in his soap’s description to hook me.

“What’s that perfume you wear….and it smells so good/that sandalwood, that lavender/that lemon ginger, I must still love her”, longingly proclaims Jens Lekman on tropically influenced “What’s That Perfume You Wear” off 2017’s LP Life Will See You Now. The Swede possesses an uncanny ability to pen expertly crafted pop songs with melancholic themes. It’s that catchy, stick in your head penmanship of Jens that caused me to instantly think of “What’s That Perfume You Wear” when my eye caught “sandalwood”. The truth, hell if I even knew what a sandalwood is or its scent.

A song or a waft of a forgotten scent can trigger a memory; what comes to mind can be a fond experience of years past, a great pop song, or in Jens’ case, a longing for an ex-lover.

One displayed word took me on Jen’s journey inspired by beach vibes with infectious steel drums, a chugging bassline, and a masterfully executed buildup to a rhythm extravaganza, where I struggle to not display my sexy sway.

You needn’t rush out and purchase sandalwood laced soap, but use this 3.5-minute escape to at least freshen up your 2-Step…


Let Me Be Your Chlorox Wipe

Artists are aware they have power and many are wielding that proverbial sword with their music. What better medium helps us groove, jolt us alive, and boost our mood? Canadian funksters Chromeo have unleashed “Chlorox Wipe”, a hilarious Corona-themed dance song. Dave 1 and P-Thugg have discovered their way into a girl’s heart: reincarnate into a disinfectant wipe, they possess the power to be needed and rubbed all over in an urgent manner.

The track bubbles with an 80s dance party theme choreographed by robots with swagger, talk boxes, and shiny synths. Dave 1 excitedly sings, “Let me wipe your surface/because that don’t make me nervous.” The duo, never one to shy away from tongue in cheek sexually themed maxims, spits smile-worthy lines from start to finish: “You took me for granted, now you’re paying twice the price/and I would feel superior all up in your eareas.”

“Chlorox Wipe” appears on Chromeo’s Quarantine Casanova, a 5 song EP of socially distanced tracks leaning heavily on the duo’s standard fare: funk, plastic synth tones, and a carefree let’s enjoy this time attitude.

From their Bandcamp site: All proceeds from this sale will be donated to Know Your Rights Camp’s COVID-19 Relief Fund.

It’s Friday, turn it up, let the riddim’ and silliness hit ya, and let Chromeo wipe you down…


Hawks’ Night in Canada EP2

The virtual show lives on as we trudge through the muck that is 2020. My favorite Ontarion returns with Hawksley Night in Canada from his father-in-law’s basement on June 18 at 8PM EST for Episode 2: 75 minutes of Hawksley performing our favourite songs alongside special segments such as “Hawk Talk” and “Pet Songs”.

His creative “Hawk Talk” segment gives his fans the opportunity to dial him directly. This time, I’m ready to break into the man’s basement to blabber sweet nothings about what his music has meant to me and now us. And if the call fails multiple times, we can hypothesize and improvise how the conversation would have looked.

Workman’s initial Night in Canada was an experience that brought a smile to my face, had me bobbin’ my head and movin’ with his powerful voice and accomplished instrumentation. The combination of songs pulled from various albums, including his Greek tragedy The God That Comes, his creative segments we didn’t expect, and a sincere sense of excitement and gratitude from Hawksley, helped us to temporarily forget we were even in any sort of quarantine. To all artists stepping up for our entertainment, thinking differently than before, and giving their all for art’s sake, we applaud you from afar.

Snag a ticket here.


They Shut the Show Down in MY Town…

Is alcohol allowed? No, but we do not search vehicles.

Surreal times call for drastic measures. It’s been imperative that everyone thinks differently than they were before. You’re a business, damn, best start getting creative; in the service industry, don’t dare think you can continue your tired, inefficient take-out; and if you’re a rock band, one that has publicly declared you’re in it for life, you can’t be stagnant, you must be willing to stretch.

The drive-in movie theaters are open. Stay in your vehicle, keep your physical distance if you leave your car, and no one gets hurt. If we can watch a movie in this environment, what is stopping us from changing the medium from film to formidable rock, blown through your FM system care of hard-hitting, musical entrepreneurs Local H?

Harvest Moon, a drive-in located in Central Illinois, about two hours south of Chicago is hosting the explosive duo on June 25 and June 26. Local H as a band have graciously played virtual shows from their now-defunct “Bunker”; frontman Scott Lucas has been almost daily sharing mini-sets or songs via social media.

If their virtual shows have been any indication, once the scheduled entertainment ends, the duo has yet to project the finale. 2020 brought a hard stop to live music. But now, thanks to ever-evolving Local H, a vehicle, an admission, and a love for rock n roll provides you Bound for the Drive-In. Lucky viewers might be in for a double feature.

Upcoming Shows:


June 2020