Musical Taste Transitions (personal soundtracks of life)

My earliest recollection of musical exposure was standing in the living room gyrating my hips and keeping time to the music with exaggerated right leg and foot movements all the while mouthing the words to an Elvis Presley song playing on my Parents 8 track tape player. Why was I doing that you ask? The answer is pretty simple you see, the music moved me and made me want to dance but also it entertained my Mother! The song that was playing was Hound Dog, one of the most popular songs from him. Some of my other recollections include upbeat disco songs playing on the record player by a very well known group the Bee Gees. My Mother was absolutely entranced with Berry Gibb of the Bee Gees and I remember distinctly my Mother being very excited for Saturday Night Fever to come out in the movie theaters so she could listen to her favorite band and see her favorite actor John Travolta.  Throw in a Kenny Rogers album, and some Eagles Songs and that was my child hood exposure to music. Still to this day I love those songs and those bands I was exposed to and those songs pop vivid memories into my head from my child hood.

When I talk about musical transition I am not necessarily talking about how sometimes songs start at a high tempo or a low tempo and either slow down or speed up. Those types of transitions are classic and iconic such as Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin or In The Air Tonight by Phil Collins. I am talking about a persons’ musical transition. The transitions that people make when they move from genre to genre during their life. I believe that music is a part of peoples lives whether they like it or not. A person can choose to be a huge fan of music (like me) or choose not to be. There are people who just listen to music on the radio  and do not really buy Albums by groups and there are other people that have to have that one bands album or all of their albums or that one pop single that everyone loves (all about that bass comes to mind). My point is that music is part of our environment even if we don’t get into it and start playing a musical instrument like people do. (like me again). The earliest group gatherings had music playing. To illustrate my point can you think of any advertisement that does not include some sort of music in it? If you can think of one please post it in the comments because I cannot think of any. Every Movie that comes out has music in it. Every TV show that is on has music in it or at least at the start of it.

Because music is a part of our environment and a part of our lives I submit that everyone has a soundtrack. Everyone has some song or tone or mind numbing guitar solo that effects them. A song or sound that pops memories into their heads however fleeting they are. It brings a person to a past time in their life if only for a brief second, that is a persons soundtrack. Lets face it, life goes on and stuff happens, good stuff, bad stuff, romantic stuff, energetic stuff, even high adrenaline stuff. It happens to everyone and I am willing to bet that, like me, it has an effect on your musical taste. One day you could be listening to the latest pop song when all of a sudden something happens and then next day blues music really starts to appeal to you. One day you could be driving your truck to a party listening to the new Luke Bryant album. When you arrive at the party they are playing really heavy aggressive music and you spot that special someone, the one girl or guy that will no doubt change the direction of your life and all of a sudden you start digging the new heavy aggressive music. This does not mean that during this musical transition you forsake all other music you listen to before, the new transition just adds to your memories, it adds to your soundtrack. Everyone has a sound track!

This post went way longer than I expected it to but I want to leave you, my faithful reader with my musical transition, my soundtrack so far!

1971 – early 80’s – Elvis Presley, Eagles, Bee Gees, Beatles (early soundtrack while growing up)

early 80’s – late 80’s – Hair metal, Kiss, Van Halen, Motley Crue, Ratt, Twisted Sister, Ozzy, (Hormone racing, Immortal feeling time in my life)

late 80’s – 2004 – Classic Rock, Alternative, Grunge, Led Zeppelin, Bad Company, Rush, Souxsie and the Banshees, Sisters of Mercy, The Church, The Cure, Depeche Mode, Smashing pumpkins, Nirvana, Letters to Cleo (Awakening period and transition to adulthood)

2004-2015 – Delta Blues, Blues, Blues Rock, Robert Johnson, Blind Willie, Son House, Charlie Patton, Muddy Waters, Freddie King, BB King, Dr John, Jonny Lang, Joe Bonamassa (Troubled Times, Sad Events, Hard times in my life)

2015 – present – Delta Blues, Blues Rock, Jazz, country (well not just yet but I am trying to like it) Classic Rock, Funk (Optimism is the key to victory, Awaiting new and wonderful adventures that are just around the bend. This is me finding myself again)

Above is my musical soundtrack chronological timeline. I would be interested to see how others timelines look like so feel free to post it in the comments. Thanks for reading and I will do my best to post more frequently.

-SMB-

 

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My Guitar and Me Part 2

Hey, are you still reading? That means I did not completely bore you in Part 1 and that makes me happy!

We now fast forward to the year 2004 nearly 20 years after I received my first guitar. Needless to say in those 20 years a lot happened including; finishing high school, fighting for my country (USN), finishing a Bachelors degree and starting my adult working life. Through all that time my musical interest did not waver, instead it grew and transitioned (I have another post planned about that) and soon my interest included just about every musical genre there is. Music was always with me no matter where I went or what I was doing. So why did you not play your guitar you ask? The answer to that question is a little too complected for the objective of this post but suffice it to say I felt I failed miserably at it the first time so why try again.

In 2004 it started again. By it I mean the guitar bug. I was in one of the musical transition periods that people have some times and I was looking for something new to get into. I started thinking of where I came from and the musical influences of that region. I come from the south but more specifically the deep south where blues originated. I come from New Orleans which is a musical melting pot that was not to far from Mississippi and the delta region. I started doing research on Blues Music and lore. During this research I introduced my self to some of the most influential artist of the early 1920’s and 1930’s. Artist such as Son House, Robert Johnson, Willie Brown and the first great delta blues man Charley Patton. This music grabbed a hold of me and throttling me saying “where the hell have you been?” “You should have been here all along!!!!” The music swiftly dragged me a long with my feet in the air struggling to become grounded again. It was a world wind of information and music hitting my senses from all sides. I was entranced and began to get pulled deeper deeper. I decided that I needed to pick up my guitar again and start playing again but there was one problem. The Epiphone Les Paul was no longer in my possession after I got out of the Navy. I have no Idea where it went but it was no longer with me. I had to get another guitar some kind of way. I managed a deal where I bought a used Samick artist addition dreadnought acoustic guitar off a church guitarist who no longer used it. I then bought a blues guitar theory book and proceeded to teach myself the blues. Unfortunately I did not have the music theory background needed to understand exactly what I was doing or needed to do and progress was slow and showed little results. At the time I did not have the extra income to be able to afford lessons so again I put the guitar down and did not pick it back up for 10 years.

2014 was slowly drawing to a close with only a month and 2 weeks remaining in the calendar year. I remember specifically the night that I caught the bug again. I was driving and running errands while jamming to this musician I had just stumbled across while surfing the internet. He was an amazing guitarist but not only that he had great songs also. Songs that were significant to me in my stage of life, songs that again filled my soul with hope and desire much like the blues did when I first started listening to them in 2004. That musician is Joe Bonamassa and the album I was listening to is his latest studio album Different Shades of Blue. As I was running my errands I noticed a guitar store that I could not remember being at that location before and so I decided to check it out. I walked into the store and felt immediately like I walked into a place that I would be spending a lot of future time in. The first thing I noticed was the music playing in the overhead speakers. It was good rock & roll from the classic rock era of the mid 70’s. I also noticed the hundreds of electric guitars and basses hung up on the wall along with other musical instruments on display around the store. I started walking around and browsing when I noticed a sign that said “Year End Special” “Buy one months lessons get the second month Free”. My heart skipped a beat and I quickened my pace as I walked up to the counter for more information. After asking a lot of questions and getting a lot of answers I signed up for December and January paid my money and started dreaming again. I walked around the store salivating over the electric guitars for a while until I had to go and complete my errands. I started my lessons the very next month on my acoustic guitar and started researching electric guitars. In July of 2015 while still keeping my lessons and progressing in guitar, I completed my Masters Degree in Project Management. The result of that completion wasIMG_20160222_154944992 (1) (2) a gift of my current Epiphone Les Paul from my Dad and my Aunt.

To this day I still practice just about every night and attend lessons once a week. I can say that I feel myself getting better and more confident and that dream when I was 13 is becoming clearer and the reach is not as long. The dream of playing in an arena and having fame and fortune has changed as I have gotten older. I simply want to be able to create music or play music for the love of it and maybe, just maybe, become good enough to play in a local party band in front of crowd.  Being on stage and playing for people just once would make that 13 year old boys dreams come true. As I continue in my progression as a musician I am finding out that the end result is cool but the journey to get there is the most fun.

 

-SMB-

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My Guitar and Me Part 1

It all started when I was 13 years old (well almost 13) and really into hair metal. Such great hair metal bands come to mind like; The Scorpions, Kiss, Van Halen, Motley Crue, White Snake, Ratt, Ozzy and so many more. I was into the screaming hammer-ons,  pull-offs and tapping past the 12th fret on the B and high E strings. The blood boiling solo’s that marked that certain wonderful age of metal that I love to this day. The time when greats like Eddie VanHalen melted your mind with his fast paced high pitched solos. This was the time when the electric guitar started fires in young hearts and minds. This is the time that, for me, the addiction started.

I persuaded my dad to buy me an electric guitar for my birthday and promised him that I would practice a lot. You know how 13 year old kids sometimes make promises to their parents that they want to keep but sometimes seem to be unable to. Well that was me, the kid with big dreams! Dreams of an arena stage illuminated with all the colors of the spectrum dancing to the beat of the music and me in the middle of it all, shredding with the best guitarists in the world for a crowd of 40 thousand or more and of course who would not include world wide fame and fortune!

My Dad took me to the store in early September of 1984 to pick out my electric guitar. I remember this day very well because it was right around my Birthday and VanHalen had released their biggest selling album every 1984 in January. As I perused the selection looking for the one guitar that would yell at me,”hey pick me! I am the one!”, I had to keep one thing in mind, the guitar had to cost under $100.00. I must have walked the wall for what seemed like an eternity looking at prices and designs and waiting for that voice. For full disclosure I must mention that at this time I did not know much of anything about the construction of a guitar. I had no clue about the different woods that are used or even the different tones that that certain pickups can make. For instance, I had no idea that a humbucker actually limited humming when plugged in to an amp. I had no idea that there were such things as single coil pickups as apposed to dual coil pickups. That the sounds of these pickups were different, dual coil pickups give you darker richer tones while single coil pickups give you a lighter louder tone. I was a complete novice and the only thing I knew is that when Eddie Vanhalen (VanHalen), Mick Mars (Motley Crue), Robbin Crosby (Ratt), Mathias Jabs (Scorpions), Randy Rhodes (Ozzy), and Vinnie Vincent (Kiss) picked up their guitars it sounded incredible and I needed to do that. I needed to make those sounds and make that music and my new electric guitar was the ticket.

I walked the wall some more and then heard the voice! I stopped in my tracks, saw the guitar that met the cost requirement. It was going to be mine! I pointed to the wall, looked at my Dad and said that is it, that is the one! It was a 1984 Epiphone Les Paul in Ebony. I picked it up then remembered I needed an amp and accessories and so I went through the choice of those things. I think the Amp I got was a no name 10w amp with tone control and gain control. Dad purchased me some lessons and I was well on my way to Fame Fortune and the heavy metal hall of fame so I thought. 

1984 Less Paul

After several lessons where I learned how to read tab and play Rock You Like A Hurricane by Scorpions and of course Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin,  I came to the realization that playing the guitar was hard and you had to practice a lot. To a 13 year old that was work and what 13 year old wanted to work. Needless to say I kept up with the bands and my musical taste were expanded as music became a big part in who I was becoming. My guitar started collecting dust in my room as I no longer picked it up to practice. Sure I would pick it up occasionally to impress a girl when I brought her up to my room or my friends who I knew did not play an instrument but I didn’t stick with it. Keep in mind in the mid and late 80’s the resources that a budding guitar player today has were not available. Resources like Youtube lessons, Internet tabs, digital downloads or even software programs that teach you how to play. During this time the way you learned is by lessons, friends, by ear on cassette tapes, and an occasional VHS video of your favorite band or a video lesson. In that time that i was most impressionable and could learn things fast I hung it up and called it to hard to play! Looking back now I think if I would have only stuck with it!

Seems like I ended this post on a down slope but fear not as part 2 is just around the corner and boy have I got news for you. This is not the end, this is the beginning! The beginning of a lot of things to come on my blog. There have been several changes in my life and new doors have opened showing the possibility of several new adventures to explore and several worthwhile stories to post so my one or maybe two readers will continue to be entertained! Feel free to post comments!

-SMB-

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Sawnee-Burnt Mountain Century Challenge Ride Report (Well Over Due)

If you all remember way back in April I signed up for the Sawnee-Burnt Mountain Century Challenge as an epic end to 30daysofbiking challenge. My goal of that ride was to A. do my first ever organized bicycle ride and B. see if all my pedaling from the pasts 30 days paid off and boy did it ever paid off. I signed up for the 25 mile ride which would mark the single longest ride I have ever done on a bicycle as an adult. I say as an adult because when I was about 14 years old and living in Gretna Louisiana (which is on the West bank of New Orleans) I rode my bike on one summer day about 30 miles round-trip to see a girl in Bell chase Louisiana. Maybe I will write a post about that adventure sometime. It was very interesting if memory serves me correctly. But I digress, where was I…… Oh yeah the ride report!

So the morning of the ride cam and I arrived a good hour before my start time which is actually amazing considering that punctuality has never been a strong skill set of mine. I was amazed that I was not the only one that was their early. I parked and started checking over my bike. Next to my truck a guy pulled in and also started preparing for his ride. As I looked over the guy John I think his name was pulled out a specialized carbon super looking road bike with top of the line everything on it. After I finished staring at the bike for what had to be 5 minutes I made a “great bike comment” and then introduced myself. I told him I was riding the 25 mile and he said he was going to do the full century. He also stated that he had to be done with the ride and back home for a wedding at 3:30 pm. when we figured it all out he had to average about 15 mph to make it in time. We laughed about that for a bit and then went back to making sure our bikes were ready. I wonder if he made it to the wedding on time? I may never know. Fast forward to the ride start.

The first group of riders to go were the century riders and the 3 quarter century riders and then they let my group go. There was about 25 to 30 of us doing the 25 and 45 mile ride so a decent size group. When we started the ride I was hanging with everyone pretty good through downtown Cumming Ga. We wove in and out of streets as the route hurled us along towards Sawnee Mountain. I was pretty impressed with myself that I was hanging with the group as long as I did and then the first climb. After heading through town at about 14 mph when that first climb hit I was slowing way down. I saw the group ahead of me getting further and further away and then the second climb hit. By the time I crested the top of the climb and ready for a fast decent the group just vanished, they were nowhere to be found. Then the realization set in that I was DROPPED from the main group and there was no one else behind me. For a second their panic set in as I realized that during all the turns that we were taking at the beginning of the ride I did not see any route markings as I was following the crowd ah but I had my trusty queue sheet so I was okay so I thought. about an hour into the ride I found the first rest area which was right about where it should have been on the queue sheet. I rested there for a few minutes and tried to get intel on the main group. Turns out they had passed this rest stop about 20 minutes before I arrived. Not only was I dropped but I was being totally out paced. I didn’t get mad at this fact I basically laughed a bit and said to myself. I’ll get stronger someday. I was having the best time I have had in a very long time. The route was absolutely stunning and it was demanding but not the you’re gonna die kind of demanding, it was a good route and a great ride so far. I headed further down the route following what i thought was the correct route only to find that I had the queue sheet wrong and was missing markers left and right. I rode 10 miles off route not realizing it but when the turns I took brought me back to the same rest area I decided to ask how the route was marked because I was missing all the turns. They informed me that the arrows painted on the street were supposed to tell me where to go. I said “there are arrows on the street?” see I had gotten so caught up in the ride and the scenery that I totally missed all the route markers.

I weighed my options at that point. If I headed back on the loop to where we started I would be a few miles short of 25 and I thought to myself that being short mileage most certainly would not do. I decided I would re-ride what I had already done, find the route markers and finish the ride with the full 25 miles. Once I knew what I was looking for the route was well-marked and it was very hard to get lost. During the whole ride I went through two different counties and several grueling climbs and several mind altering descents it was awesome.

I finished the ride with 35 miles instead of 25 miles and boy did I feel awesome worn out but Awesome. I had just ridden the longest on a bike I had ever done in my adult life and I caught the bicycle bug bad that day. I felt after the race that I could make it up any hill and ride with anyone. I WAS A Cyclist! I have been riding almost every day since then and love it. I bought a new bike and I have some big dreams in my brain. Stay Tune I have all kinds of good stuff planned.

-SMB

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Sawnee-Burnt Mountain Century Challenge

I enrolled myself in my first ever organized long ride that will start tomorrow morning at 8:30am. The Century Challenge consist of several different options. There is a 25 mile ride, a 44 mile ride, a 75 mile ride, and 100 mile ride or century. I signed up for the 25 mile ride not believing I could manage the 44 or even longer with the amount of riding I have done since April 1st. I think the 25 mile ride will be a good challenge for me with about 1500 feet of total climbing. The route for the 25 mile takes you up part of Sawnee mountain and then back down again. Looking forward to that downhill :). I am a bit nervous and my one hope is that I finish the whole 25 miles. The ride is fully SAG which means people driving the route in cars looking for troubled cyclist and helping them. I will have a full ride report after the ride and maybe some pictures to.

SMB

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Day 4 Through 9

Days 4 – 9 have been a series of quick 1 to 2 mile rides do to work and Easter, with the acception of Saturday evening. I ventured out at dusk with the intent of riding a new loop that would take me out of some of the busy roads and hopefully add some distance to the already 7 mile loop. The new route worked out really well witht he acception that it only added 3 tenths of a mile to my route. I plan on getting in a longer ride this weekend depending on my work schedule. Hopefully I will have some more pictures to share.

SMB

 

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Day 2 and Day 3

So last night was a very quick ride up to the front of the neighborhood then back again because of work and scheduling so not much to tell about Day 2 other than I rode.

Day 3

I started from my house as it was just beginning to become twilight where I live. The air was a little cooler with some wind blowing. There was a Storm off to the south you could see it rolling in but unabated I kept cranking the pedels. I trucked down the most dangerous road around my house to get to a subdivision that I knew has a good loop I could ride. The loog goes through a nice quiet neighborhood that has small streets. The whole place looks like a small English or Irish viliage with a lot of green and trees.  After a quick 2 mile loop I made my way back home. Another Day down!

Day 3 of 30 days of Biking

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7 Miles isnt Bad

So I started 30daysofbiking today with a little 7 Mile ride broken up in two parts. Today was very busy with church and family obligations I was feverishly trying to figure out how to get my 1st ride in. I was worried that with everything going on I may not make it. The last thing that was on the list to do today was going to dinner with my dad and then it hit me. I could ride to his house, go to dinner, then ride home after hanging out for a while.

The first part of the ride:

It started out very nice with the sun starting to make its turn towards rest in the evening and the weather nice breezy with a high temp of around 86 degrees. I headed up the street from my house full of excitement. This was the first time I had been on my bike in well over 2 years and boy did I feel each crank as I slowly realized while riding that the Journey to my dads house was pretty much all up hill. I hit the steepest of the grades about 1 and 1/2 miles into the ride. I literally thought I was going to have to dismount and walk the bike up. Never the less my stubborn side kicked in and I made it up the incline slower than the jogger across the way from me. (okay here is where you can LYAO) I can tell you that next time if I meet said jogger on the route again I will not allow him to beat me up the hill.

The Dinner:

Once I had arrived at my destination I quickly dried off and changed into my dinner gear that I was carrying on my back. We got in the car and went to a small mom and pop Italian restaurant near his house that has always been good every time we have gone. The place was not very crowded and they had a live singer singing all Sinatra songs. The atmosphere was good the food was great and the company was excellent. We finished up and headed back to the house where we chatted some more while a Star Wars Marathon was playing on tv in the background. Soon it was time for me to depart for home.

The Ride Home:

By the time I had left my Dads house (around 8:55pm) the sun had already started its 12 hour rest. My Dad was a little concerned about the ride home but I assured him it would be okay. I turned on my front and back lights on my bike and headed back home. As the journey to his house was mostly uphill, the journey from his house was……. you guessed it mostly downhill. I don’t have my computer installed on my bike yet but I assume I was heading back home at a pretty good clip and managed to shave off about 5 min of my trip time to my dads house.

It was nice to be back on my bike again and I am looking forward to more and more rides like this one. Ill try and post some pictures next time. Until then C YA!

SMB

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The Cleric Quintet: Book 4 The Fallen Fortress

How can you not love a book that is packed full of action and adventure. This book has a ton of great adventures from fighting a dragon to fighting impossible odds. Intrigue was also part of the book as you learn a lot more about Cadderly and his origins and family history. It was a classic take the fight to the bad guys and I was immersed in the story from the beginning. It was a very well done book and I think if the series would have ended with this book it would have been a fitting end but there is one more to go and I cannot wait to see what RA Salvatore has in store for the last book.

SMB

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The Cleric Quintet: Book 3 Night Masks

The first book was set in the would be home of our Hero The Edificant Library. The second book was set in the Elven forest of Shilmista. This latest story catches up with Cadderly in the bustling metropolis of Carradoon. As with the first to books Cadderly is our clerical hero that is seemingly thrown into all kinds of difficult situations not by his on will but apparetnly by the will of his God. A god the we see in this third book that seems to favor Cadderly above all others of the order. I thought this was another good book in the series. Heck I have not been disiponted by any of the books so far. If you have decided to read these books or have read them tell me what you think.

SMB

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