Day Ja Voo

Day Ja Voo. I have been following them for years, from fundraisers to dive bars to summer outdoor venues to my own living room. Watching them play and hearing the first few notes of a favorite song leads me to break into a smile and sing along. The love I have for the music and the guys (and their wives) is unparalleled. Let’s go back to the beginning of this journey to fandom.

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The first time I went to see this talented trio was when they were playing for a fundraising walk at Longbranch Park, raising money for children with cancer. I said a quick hello to Vinnie then found a tree to lean on, away from the action, to wait for them to perform.  The teams of walkers started to stream into the picnic area, groups of people wearing tshirts and carrying signs with pictures of kids who had some form of cancer.  As the groups continued to flood in, I realized that some of the kids were no longer living and for some reason, I was so overcome with emotion that I could barely make it to my car without sobbing.  I did not see the guys play that day.

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And You Can Call Me Queen Pee

20 years working at Barnes & Noble and there are so many stories I could tell: people I have met, books I have recommended, celebrity sightings, crazy questions, one of a kind events, and lots of other things I could talk about. And yet the one thing that stands out is the honor bestowed on me by my coworkers: Queen Pee. A lot of work has gone into the making of Queen Pee. Not only have there been numerous instances of cleaning up the bathroom, I have also been been cursed out by other managers because I was not on duty on days when a bathroom incident had occurred. And yet with this glamorous life I lead, my band wives want me to give it all up.

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I have a long and proud (?) history of cleaning restrooms at Barnes & Noble. When I first started working there, I cleaned the bathrooms just about every night (before my manager found out that we didn’t need to vacuum and empty garbage and clean the bathrooms every night because we actually had a maintenance line in the budget!) My first workman’s comp case involved me getting new contacts because I had splashed toilet bowl cleaner in my eye.

 

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Vinyl Live 6

It’s Friday night and I am just home late from work, sitting in front of the TV channel surfing.  No one is more disappointed about this than my dad, who admonished me for not having more exciting plans because he says he is living his life vicariously through me.  Normally I do have a lot of fun nights,  Take last weekend, for example.

Vinyl Album Live 6. This show recreated three iconic vinyl albums performed by local musicians here in Central New York.  It was sold out, with dozens of disappointed people standing outside the Palace Theater in Syracuse wondering how that they could have missed out on getting in (I heard that Vinyl Live 5 was only 2/3 full). One of the albums was Hotel California, so it does make you wonder if it would have been sold out if not for the popularity of Glenn Frey, who had died earlier this week.

Anyway, I had heard how great it was last year and thought it would be a fun night of music and invited my friends Chick and Bryan to go along. Three albums were chosen and three bands assembled from local musicians to perform each of those albums in their entirety. In addition, there were other musicians who sat in for certain songs (I think they may have been music students from Signature Music, where some of the admission money collected was donated to.)

This is where I confess that although I did own vinyl when I was younger (Barry Manilow Live counts, right?) I never really experienced it the same way so many people my age did, sitting down and listening to it from beginning to end and having an experience. This is how so many of the performers learned to love all the songs. I usually enjoyed my favorite bands through greatest hits compilations so I didn’t appreciate the lure of the album.

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The Saddest Laugh Is Silence

I went out to a local open mike night up on the hill (Syracuse University) last week to check out one of my musician friends. I never really thought about how open mike means that anyone who has anything to say at all would be eligible, including standup.  This is when I learned the saddest laugh is silence.

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My friend was number 12 on the list, so I sat through 11 acts (3 of them music), and the MC.  In total, to get to the part of the show I was waiting for, I had to sit through 9 stand up acts (my friend only made it through 4 before he decided to ditch). To quote someone I saw on the internet (juggler Michael Davis), a comic says funny things but a comedianwill say things funny. These guys did neither.

Now I have a sense of humor.  People in my famiiy think I am very funny, as do most of my friends.  The other night the band wives and I laughed and and laughed and laughed all night long!  I will drop an f-bomb when germane to the story but I do not think that someone has to swear every third word just to make something funny (if you do enjoy this kind of humor, check out Drunk Mom on Facebook.)

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New Year New You

Walk into a Barnes & Noble in January and displays with the signage ‘New Year, New You’ can be seen all over the store. Many businesses and industries have similar versions of this theme and prey on people who want to do better and be better in the coming year.

I myself fell victim to this mentality last weekend where friends were gathered to celebrate the holiday season and after a couple of beers I declared the year of 2016 to be the year of 3 things. Of course, now I can remember only two of them (maybe someone from the party remembers the third!!)  2016 was declared (by me) to be the Year of Dates (it’s been a bit of a dry spell for me) and the Year of One Song (the subtle push from my guitar teachers that I will play one song with my band friends, as soon as I get some serious guitar practice in).

Whenever I am feeling like a change is in order in my own life, I head over to my movie shelves and see which of my favorites will inspire me that day. Here is a list of movies that I think are transformative, and inspire me to be better:

Phenomenon (1996)

This story helps me to remember to use more of what God gave me every single day.  George Malley (John Travolta) is an average Joe, until an unexplained moment brings about untapped potential.  How he uses his newfound gifts to better himself and everyone around him is heartwarming and sometimes gutwrenching.  Here’s the movie trailer:

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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

The retail world has ruled my Christmases for 20 years now.   That means that before Halloween we are thinking about and starting to set up holiday displays (my apologies to all those after Thanksgiving purists!).  And even though many people think it starts too early, I do enjoy the Christmas music season.  I admit that I do sneak and listen to the radio stations that play holiday music early.  Compiling my list of favorites, I noticed that they were mostly melancholy. That’s a little weird for me, because although I am capable of my “Ho Ho Ho Your @$$” moments, I am a pretty optimistic person.  In any case, here are two of my favorite holiday people (nephews Nick and Diego) and some of my favorite holiday songs:

 

Blue Christmas by Elvis Presley

My mom tells me that this was one of my early faves.  For Christmas one year she gave each of us (my six brothers and sisters and I) a Christmas kit, which included ornaments, decorations, Christmas cards and a cassette tape of each of our favorite holiday albums.  Mine was Elvis Presley’s It’s Christmas Time.  Now it can be yours too!!  I love this video!  Check out the great tambourine playing.

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Some of My Favorite Christmas Movies

Last night I cuddled up with one of my favorite littles and watched Elf.  You can tell how engaging the story was because she actually cuddled the whole time!  People all around me have been telling me for years how great this movie is, so last year I saw it and was charmed. Now I would like to share some of my own can’t miss holiday movies:

Elf (2003)

I have friends on both sides of the fence on this movie.  Some of my friends, like Bryan, finds it creepy,  My friend Bridgette says it is one of the best holiday movies (she is the one who introduced me to it!)  My friends Shelby and Stephen are always quoting from the movie, and the phone scene is one of her favorites!  What’s YOUR favorite color?

 

Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

This show debuted in 1965 and it has aired on broadcast television every year since then, making this year the 50th anniversary of the classic animated show.  Not many people know that it was originally commissioned by Coca Cola and was produced on a shoestring budget in a matter of months.  Many people favor the rousing speech Linus makes when telling the original Christmas story, but I confess my favorite part is the dancing.  I think it would be really fun to do a flash mob of the dance scene at work (Barnes & Noble) to the song, “Linus and Lucy”.  It’s been done before:

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How I Found Alice’s Restaurant

42 years ago, or 42 Thanksgivings ago, I was in my childhood kitchen tearing slices of stale white bread into little pieces.  Three loaves worth.  I was half asleep wondering why we even had to stuff a turkey and also wondering how long the song on the radio would go on.  It was already playing for what seemed like an hour.  I asked if we could find another station and Mom said no, that this song was a Thanksgiving tradition.  So there I stood, listening to Alice’s Restaurant, tearing slices into little pieces into my Dad’s big bread raising pan.  But that’s not what I am here to talk about.

My mom and dad would listen to Arlo Guthrie’s Alice’s Restaurant every Thanksgiving morning. I am not sure which radio station (she thinks maybe Y94)  it was on. My mom would get up at the crack of dawn (OK, around 7 a,m.)  in order to cook a turkey for the 9 of us as well as any number of strays who would join us.  Stuffing was quite an undertaking, she mixed copious amounts in the bread raising pan and after the bird was stuffed, she put the rest in a bowl to bake (my favorite part of dinner, I didn’t like all the moist stuff that came out of the bird.)  And Arlo would sing.

 

Fastforward 40 years.   I was listening to Alice’s Restaurant for what seems like the very first time.  At least the very first time I can remember.  Teenagers categorically denounce any music parents think is cool, (except for Neil Diamond, in my case!) so I really don’t remember anything about those early Thanksgiving broadcasts.  I became interested in Alice’s Restaurant when my friend Lisa Kane talked about how she loved Arlo and listened to it every year on Thanksgiving.  I thought I had better check it out, so I found it on youtube.  I found it fascinating.

Of course, any song that included a load of garbage being brought to the dump is close to my heart… I do a lot of cleaning at my job and am known as Queen Pee (that tells you what kind of things need to be cleaned up).    Picking up garbage every day is how I roll.

Arlo starts singing about Alice and her restaurant, but gets distracted by the story of a particular Thanksgiving when Arlo and his buddy thought they would do a good deed and take a load of garbage to the dump.  They were arrested for littering (long story) and as Arlo says,  “but that’s not what I came to tell you about. I came to talk about the draft.”

Then Arlo sings about draft notices and then draft tests, at the New York City Induction Center, which was on Whitehall Street, where “you get  injected, inspected, detected, infected, neglected,” and finally selected.  After some shenanigans there where Arlo tried to NOT be selected, his is faced with this query,  “Kid, we only got one question…have you ever been arrested?”  That brings us back to Alice’s restaurant and the story of that particular Thanksgiving.

I had no idea this spoken word performance was so entertaining and it definitely stands the test of time. Arlo does a tour for the song every ten years.  Here’s a performance from 2005 at Farm Aid.

 

 

2015 marks the 50th anniversary of that fateful holiday where Arlo got arrested and Officer Obie had those 27 8′ x 10′ color glossy pictures with the circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each one was to be used as evidence against them, and I am happy to carry on the tradition.  Earlier today I listened to Alice’s Restaurant while making stuffing (Mom’s recipe)  to deliver to my sister and my dad for their celebrations.  I will leave you with one of his latest performances, this one from Blissfest 2015.  Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!!

Want To Be The Ultimate Show Biz Manager? You Need Jimmy Fallon

If you are looking to be the ultimate manager, you need Jimmy Fallon in your back pocket. Looking to reboot a TV  series?  Recreate a very special moment from the original show in a skit on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.  Promoting a new album?  Show off your mad skills with the Wheel of Musical Impressions.  Want to cement your place in pop culture history?  Dance your heart out (again) with a flash mob style performance of your iconic movie dance sequence.  Want to hook the cool kids?  Try out a new app with Jimmy on the show.  Jump start your career by getting a shot on Jimmy’s show. Here are some of my favorite spots (so far) from Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

Footloose entrance with Kevin Bacon

Here is Kevin Bacon’s Tonight Show entrance, dancing to two of the most popular songs from his 1984 movie FootlooseNever performed by Moving Pictures and Footloose performed by Kenny Loggins.  The movie was released long before anyone ever even thought of playing ‘Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon’.

 

Full House reunion on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

Bob Saget, Dave Coulier, and John Stamos all came to wish Jimmy luck on his move to the Tonight Show in this skit recreating a scene from a very special episode of Full House back in the 80’s. Love the hair and catch phrases…and the Teddy Bear Song!!  And there always was a lesson, wasn’t there?   I am looking forward to 2016’s Fuller House.

 

Jesse and the Rippers

Six months earlier, on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, was the reunion of one of the best fictional bands I have ever seen, Jesse and the Rippers with frontman Jesse Katsopolis (John Stamos).  The band performed the biggest hits of their career:  Forever (cover from The Beach Boys), Little Sister (cover from Elvis Presley, jesse’s idol), Hippy Hippy Shake (the Beatles perfomed this is 1963), and Everywhere You Look (the theme song from Full House).  Thoroughly enjoyable.

 

Jimmy Went To High School At Bayside with the Saved By The Bell cast (Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Dennis Haskins, Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, Elizabeth Berkley, and Mario Lopez)

This was a clever skit transporting everyone back to Saturday morning TV and the lives of the kids at Bayside High.  When Zack called a time out, it brought me right back!  It really was amazing that all these years later, they looked very much like the characters they played 25 years ago.  The inside jokes are super fun, too (I especially liked the one about Elizabeth Berkley being a stripper).

 

Lip Sync with Emma Stone

IMHO the best performance of any of the lip syncs I have seen on the Tonight Show.  Jimmy starts out strong with Fancy by Iggy Azelea, but then Emma kills it, with Blues Traveler’s Hook. It was amazing!!  Mr. Roboto by Styx was Jimmy’s second selection and it was well done, but then Emma closed with DJ Khaled’s All I Do Is Win and boy, did she ever!!  Epic.

 

Daniel Radcliffe performs Blackakicious’ Alphabet Aerobics

I had never heard Alphabet Aerobics.  I doubt that anyone can do it as well as Harry Potter did here.  Flawless.

 

Wheel of Musical Impressions with Christina Aguilera

I have seen some fun Wheel of Musical Impressions, but I do love Christina, so that’s the clip I am sharing.  Her impressions of Cher and Britney were dead on.  Jimmy did just as impressive a job as David Bowie and then Michael McDonald.  Also fun to check out is Ariana Grande’s ;ip sync clip (find it on youtube) where she impersonates Britney and then Christina!

 

Dubsmash with Selena Gomez

I had never heard of Dubsmash before I searched it for this post, and does it look fun!!  I will have to try it out and post it.  Here is Jimmy and Selena with scenes from movies and commercials, then one of Selena’s own songs, Same Old Love.

 

Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Neil Young sing Fancy

And finally, I do love Jimmy Fallon musical impressions.  Neil Young, James Taylor, Bruce Springsteen, and a cast of thousands (so it seems).  e has a knack for pairing songs with unlikely performers.  My favorite is Jimmy doing Neil Young singing Iggy Azelea’s Fancy, where he is joined by Crosby, Stills, and Nash.  So many years later and those guys are still in harmony!!

 

 

So Long, Farewell

Saying goodbye is often hard, especially when it is a television series that you have been binge watching for weeks or months.  Fans usually rave about the writing or actors in their favorite shows, but I am sure it’s no surprise that I focus on the music.  Here is a list of my 10 favorite songs in series finales:

1.  Breaking Bad     Baby Blue by Badfinger

I started watching this show specifically because I wanted to see the series finale  (entitled “Felina”) and the final song, Baby Blue. My musician friend John started to work it out on his guitar, so of course I wanted to learn all about the song.  I was hooked by the show almost immediately and was mesmerized by the fantastic writing, binging on multiple episodes every day for two weeks.  I may have been a little dark and morally ambiguous by the last couple of days.  Incidentally, this song led me to my new favorite Pandora radio station, the Badfinger station.

2.  Freaks and Geeks       Ripple by The Grateful Dead

I found Freaks and Geeks on Netflix and savored every episode of their one season.  I thought the finale told such a compelling story of how these characters had grown and expanded their horizons throughout the series.  “Discos and Dragons”  had the cool kid role playing with the geeks, the frustrated rock drummer branching out into disco dancing, and the good girl taking a walk on the wild side.  The Grateful Dead seemed so appropriate for Lindsey’s next chapter.  I found a great version of this song that is part of the Playing For Change movement, which takes musicians from all over the world and puts them together playing popular songs,

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