Pain. Gain.

From the Gratefulness.org website – I highly recommended you sign up for their daily email.

Dreams So Real was part of the Athens, GA scene in the mid-80s. The song above comes from their 1988 release Rough Night in Jericho. Check it out below.

To Be a Winner, Be You

Jon Batiste took home a fistful of Grammys a couple of weeks ago, including the highly coveted Album of the Year award for We Are.

In that moment, it would’ve been very easy for him to thump his chest. Instead he opened his heart.

So classy, so gracious, so humble… and he spoke the truth. We don’t find music so much as music finds us… when we need it the most.

I loved his parting words: “Be you!”

We each have our own path, our own craft. Work at it every day. You may not make the Grammy stage, but you come out a winner in the game of life.

I listened to Jon Batiste on the Broken Record podcast a few weeks ago and was really blown away by his heart, and his wisdom, and his love. Check it out at the bottom of this post- it’s mandatory listening.

In the interview, Jon Batiste makes it clear that he didn’t get to where he is on his own. He talked about his mentors. Their role is crucial.

One of Jon Batiste’s mentors was his father, who urged him to “tell the truth.”

Another was his cousin Alvin Batiste, a legendary New Orleans jazz musician. Alvin pushed Jon out of his comfort zone, and it made him better at his craft:

Your ability, your talent, the innate thing that you have within you… can be applied to anything. It doesn’t just have to fit the thing that you know you’re capable of doing today…. that’s why I don’t believe in limitations of genre or limitations of creativity in any way.

Jon Batiste

Sometimes the highest hurdles are the limits we impose on ourselves. Congrats to Jon Batiste on his Grammy success. And congrats to YOU on your continued success in whatever path you choose.

Here’s Jon Batiste’s full interview on the Broken Record podcast:

Community. Theater.

When Mrs. Dubbatrubba and I were in New York recently, we took in a Broadway show.

Sidebar: I don’t know why you have to say “took in” when you’re talking about attending a B-way show. — it sounds like you’re adopting a stray cat or adjusting the waistline of your Sansabelt slacks — but it’s the law.

We “took in” The Book of Mormon. (Go figure, even when I try to add some culture to my normally Neanderthal-like existence, I wind up watching something South Park-related.)

You probably wouldn’t peg me as a Broadway musical kind of guy, and you’re right. I tend to lean more towards indie concerts in small clubs, not the neon lights of the Great White Way. But I loved The Book of Mormon. Sure, it was funny… in fact it’s irreverent as heck… but it also was semi-poignant.

When you see a musical live, you get a tremendous appreciation for the talent of the performers and the craft of the creators and crew. The music, the lyrics, the choreography… the talent is off the charts.

photo credit: New York Times

Putting together a Broadway show ain’t cheap, especially if it’s a musical. There’s an orchestra, elaborate sets, costumes, special effects… and only about one in five shows actually makes money for its investors. You’d have better luck playing Three-card Monte.

The stuff happening on stage is special, but there’s something very special about the audience too. There’s a sort of alchemy that happens when hundreds are folks are in the same theater. And unlike sports, they’re all rooting for the same team. Experiencing a play in a communal setting is magical. We all could probably use a bit more more time spent watching stages and less time spent staring at screens.

Broadway may be out of reach — geographically and/or economically — but there’s great community theater in pretty much every decent-sized town in this country (except maybe Orlando… sorry, The Book of Mormon joke). The shows may have slightly less glitz and glamor, but they’ve got just as much heart.

Get off your couch and get to a theater (or theatre… or even cafeteria) soon. It’ll put more unity in your community.

There was only one slight bummer to our Broadway experience: We didn’t get to see Kyle Selig as Elder Price. Kyle is the fiancé of my first cousin once removed, Erika Henningsen… who starred as Cady Heron in Mean Girls on Broadway (that’s where she and Kyle met), and plays Young Gloria in the Hulu series Girls5Eva. Kyle first starred in The Book of Mormon many years ago, but recently came to the rescue for a two-week fill-in stint when COVID hit the cast.

That’s OK, we can catch Kyle in eight episodes of the new FOX TV series Welcome to Flatch – it premiers tomorrow night at 9:30 p.m. Eastern.

One Man’s Trash… is My Treasure

I’ve gotten into vinyl albums of late, and have done a lot of crate digging at the local thrift stores and flea markets trying to add to my collection without spending an arm and a leg.

Most times it’s a waste of time… a lot of sifting through the oeuvre of Andy Williams, Engelbert Humperdinck, “Sing along with Mitch” and the Ray Conniff Singers.

Me? Not so much in love with this…

The selection certainly fits the age bracket of the folks whose closets are being cleaned out by their offspring after they pass away.

Occasionally I’ll find a decent album or three as I mine the stacks. But today I struck gold. Check out this mother lode:

I’m most excited about the two Elvis Costello albums, the Clash’s London Calling (a two-LP set), Joe Jackson (an oft-overlooked gem) and Born to Run. But the Pete Townshend solo ones are pretty cool too… I’ve always like The Call….can’t go wrong with The Byrds… you get the idea.

Not bad for a whopping $4.63. (Albums were half-priced today.)

Kinda makes all that time starting at Andy Williams albums worthwhile. Almost.

Looks like I won free tickets to the gun show…

For Those About to Folk Rock, We Salute You

Ellis Paul celebrated his 57th birthday last night with a few dozen friends. Pretty standard old guy stuff. Except Ellis was on a stage, at a small theater, and his friends were in the audience.

Ellis Paul is a singer-songwriter. A folk musician. A traveling minstrel, really. He’s been doing his thing in similar settings for three and a half decades.

No strobe lights, no smoke machines, no flash pots, no video projections. Just Ellis and his acoustic guitars. Here’s the thing: Ellis Paul doesn’t need all the rock star stage frippery to blow an audience away. It’s the songs, the stories, the music… connecting with the audience at their souls, instead of on the surface. That’s what really matters. And Ellis Paul delivered in spades last night, as I’m sure he does every night.

He’s a kid from rural Maine — potato country, apparently — who went to Boston College on a track scholarship, hurt his knee, picked up a guitar, and never looked back. All those open-mic slots on the Boston folk scene decades ago helped him hone his craft. It’s great that artists like Billie Eilish can release albums from their bedroom, but they’re not learning the nuances that can only come from a live setting. Mic technique, vocal dynamics, the pacing of a set, when to throw in a joke, when to break out the most popular song.

Toward the end of his set last night, Ellis unplugged and wandered out into the audience to sing “Annalee”…. so simple, yet simply amazing.

It was Ellis Paul’s 57th birthday, but the folks in the audience are the ones who got the unforgettable gift.

I went to the show with my buddy John Sandman, who often will go up to the artist at the merch booth and give them some cash, saying “I listen to your music on Spotify, so here’s some cash to replace what I would’ve spent on your albums.” Not a bad philosophy – if Spotify isn’t paying much in royalties (and they aren’t), we can!

Touring and merch sales are how indie artists survive, and gigs have been few and far between these past couple of years. So if you go to a show and love it, give the artists some “certificates of appreciation.”

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