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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Guns N Roses: does anyone care anymore?

I just read a news article stating that the continued delay of Guns N Roses' album "Chinese Democracy" is still going on as they announce another schedule change. Axl Rose, the only remaining member from the original GnR lineup, attempted to bring his new project to the spotlight on the MTV Video Music Awards back in 2002. More than 4 years later, no album and several cancelled tour dates. I have seen a download with the album name on it but it sounded like nothing more than some leaked demos, and they sounded horrible. If this is what has taken so long to release, Axl's future in music is in serious trouble.

Does anybody even care?
I find it hard to believe that anyone is sitting at their computer sifting through forums for GnR updates, with any kind of anticipation. Being that GnR's prime players helped form Velvet Revolver, fronted by Stone Temple Pilot singer Scott Weiland, the sound that made Guns N Roses what it was will not be intact. Velvet Revolver doesn't even sound exactly like GnR did, although the edgy and dangerous energy is definitely there. I think it's ridiculous that Axl is using the GnR name for his project.

Back when GnR released their ambitious "Use Your Illusion" albums I was very impressed and the opener on the second disc, "Civil War" is one of my very favorite rock songs. That should have been the end if their future was in question. If they would have disbanded and gone their separate ways, each member could have left with some dignity and respect. Of course, everyone but Axl still has that respect. Before forming Velvet Revolver and releasing a double platinum-selling Grammy-winning self-titled debut, Slash and Duff released solo albums both during and after their time in GnR. Gilby Clarke also released an album with a fierce rocker called "Cure Me Or Kill Me". Axl has done nothing more than try to convince the music industry that he's still around and relevant, if that's even still possible.

This is definitely a spontaneous posting. I saw the article and immediately came to this blog to write. I just couldn't believe that after all this time, Axl Rose could be so arrogant as to think that people still care and want to hear from him. If you have an opinion either for or against the new GnR album, I'd love to hear it!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

My Musical Journey

Growing up during my grammar school days, music was always just something that filled the background of everyday life for me. My parents had a pretty nice stereo in the living room (the kind that no one ever uses) and they'd play Eric Clapton or Fleetwood Mac records. As the years came and went, I started to pay attention more and acquired a taste for different types of music. I went through the usual phases that everyone did through the 80's. Early on, it was The Police, Tears for Fears and Hall and Oates that I would play regularly. When Van Halen released "1984" (in 1983) I took notice but wasn't completely hooked just yet. I had some other favorites like Aerosmith, ZZ Top and Led Zeppelin to educate me on classic rock.

I remember when my dad bought his first cd player and the first cd he purchased was Bon Jovi's "Slippery When Wet". I believe the year was 1985 and it probably cost him close to a thousand dollars, with extremely limited features.

When I was about 12, I got a very nice stereo with a cd player and my first cd was Def Leppard's "Hysteria". The first cd I purchased on my own was the soundtrack to Top Gun. The theme song with the guitar sounded really good on my stereo, and that's the best excuse I have for that purchase. Later on, I got into some real rock like Guns N Roses when they debuted "Appetite For Destruction." In 1989, Aerosmith released "Pump" which shot them into the spotlight with "Love in an Elevator" and "Janie's Got A Gun" and still remains one of my must-own albums. My sister's boyfriend at the time knew how much I loved those songs and got me that album along with Rolling Stones' "Steel Wheels" which was popular.

When Van Halen released "OU812", their second album with Sammy Hagar, I quickly started my love for all things Hagar. I bought "Standing Hampton" which is his strongest solo album pre-Van Halen. In 1991, the album that literally rocked my world arrived. Titled "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge", Van Halen's cd was a pure masterpiece. I saw them on tour for that album, as well as another show to support the live album they recorded on the original album tour. That was it for me, I was hooked. No other band had that kind of affect on me, at least not until Pearl Jam released their debut "Ten".

Now, originally this post was just going to be about Pearl Jam and how much I love them. However, I thought it would be fun to take my readers down memory lane; mainly for the purpose of reviving some old cd's that are at the bottom of the pile these days.

**IF YOU HATE PEARL JAM, DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER**
(What follows this notice is my declaration of love for Pearl Jam so you won't enjoy it)

When they first arrived, I heard "Alive" and "Evenflow" on the radio and saw the videos on MTV and they were good but I didn't catch on until I saw them on MTV Unplugged. After that, I immediately ran to the store to buy "Ten" and played it every day without fail. To this day, I don't know exactly what it is about Pearl Jam that captured me but their music means a great deal to me. My life was never filled with the kind of angst that Eddie described in songs like "Alive" or "Black" but it feels so easily accessible still. They performed "Animal" from their sophmore cd "Vs." on the MTV Awards in 1993 just before the cd was released. That song lit a fire under my ass and still does to this very day. Very few songs get me fired up like "Animal" and I've been very fortunate to have seen it played live each time I've gone to a Pearl Jam show.

In 1995, they released "Vitalogy" which had a much different, darker sound than their first two albums. That album spawned the crowd pleaser "Betterman", a song written about "the bastard who married my mama" as Eddie has introduced it in concert. This is the song that Eddie usually asks the crowd to sing, and everyone usually participates.

Not long after "Vitalogy", they released "No Code" which most critics would label as an "experimental" album. Two of my favorite songs of all time, not just from PJ, are from that album and they are "Off He Goes" and "Present Tense". Their next album "Yield" is the one that I think brought them back to "Ten" status. That album is among my top 3 of theirs and songs like "Given To Fly" and "Wishlist" remind me of why I love this band so much.

Next up was "Binaural" which referred to a recording technique which involved recording the space around the instruments rather than the instruments alone. The word binaural means "of or pertaining to both ears" or "used by both ears". The opening track, "Breakerfall" is heavily reminiscent of The Who and a few others are as well. Their first single from the album "Nothing As It Seems" had a very distinct intro with some Neil Young style in the guitar work. Overall this album seemed like a giant step forward musically for the band. "Riot Act" followed that album soon after and opened with "I Am Mine", which plays out like a haunting slow dirge (think Irish drinking song) with an optimistic vibe. It's intro is much like "Nothing", mentioned above, in the sense of an intro that quickly sucks you into the song and sets the tone.

Their latest offering which was released in May of 2006, is their eighth studio album (self-titled but known as "Avocado" for its album cover). The first single, "Worldwide Suicide" shows off Eddie's political side and gives you a good taste of what this album has to offer.
It is one of their most rocking albums to date, and one of their most critically accepted. Of course, anyone who loves Pearl Jam knows that they throw in a few slow songs to showcase Ed's soft side. "Gone" is a prime example of that, even though the song does go into high tempo in parts. They end the album with what has become one of my very favorites of theirs, "Inside Job" which was written by guitarist Mike McCready along with Eddie Vedder.

If you count their live album "Live On Two Legs", their double-cd rarities collection "Lost Dogs", and their "Rearviewmirror: Greatest Hits" albums, they have released eleven albums in a little over fifteen years. It's easy to say that they don't make their fans wait very long for a new offering.

Of course there's also the official bootlegs they sold in retail stores and online. Back in the day when they were still making a name for themselves, I dabbled in bootleg purchases and got a few gems along the way. Some had remarkable sound quality, others sounded like the recorder got covered with a towel or something. When I found out that Pearl Jam were releasing official soundboard recordings of the entire Binaural Tour, both European and US legs, I was overwhelmed with excitement. I always thought it would be great to have a recording to each of the shows I had been to so I could think back to that night and remember what was going on as each song played. To this day, when I hear the crowd sing the opening to "Betterman" from the 6/1/2003 show @ Shoreline (the day before my birthday), I vividly remember the rush that swept through me while looking over the crowd, singing in unison.

Just thinking about all the music they've made and how each album carried me through a period of my life, I'm getting excited all over again in anticipation for their next release. If you haven't heard much of Pearl Jam or quit paying attention when they stopped making music videos following "Jeremy", give them another chance. I'm willing to bet that after years of perfecting their sound, you may be impressed all over again. On my right sidebar is the links to both Amazon and Best Buy where you can purchase all of their albums. I get no profit from referring you, they're just two of my favorite online sites to shop for music.

**BUYING TIPS**
If you are going to purchase any of their official live recordings, buy the following:

10/22/00 - Las Vegas, Nevada
This album marks the 10th anniversary of their very first show performing together and provides a great deal of storytelling by Eddie Vedder. The setlist includes "Crown of Thorns" which was a song performed by the band Mother Love Bone. Jeff Ament (bassist) and Stone Gossard (guitars) emerged from that band after the death of Andrew Wood to form Pearl Jam.
07/11/03 - Mansfield, MA
This show came from the Riot Act tour and includes an acoustic set they performed before the concert that night. It is a three disc set with a terrific set list.

Seattle, Washington, November 6, 2000
This was the final show from their Binaural tour of 2000 and boasts a very impressive setlist, covering material from their entire catalog up to that night.

Those titles in bold were copied directly from Amazon so use them to search for those albums for purchasing. The key to buying live material is finding a well-rounded setlist and I think these three shows are a great example of that strategy.

Monday, February 26, 2007

It's a boy!!

My wife and I are expecting our first (maybe only) child in July and found out this morning that we'll be having a son. Most everyone who found out we were having a baby has guessed that it was a boy, including my wife. We have friends with their own personal theories as to why they guessed as they did, but none of them mean more than any old wives' tales.

The past few years have been quite a leap from where I was not long ago. I feel like my sister and I are running parallel these days. We both got married last year, only a few months apart, and now we'll be having babies a few months apart as well. She and I both laugh about the whole situation of thinking back a year or two ago and trying to predict how your life would be. Neither of us thought we'd be married and expecting child at this point. My wishes are coming true in full force though. I'm married and we are doing quite well and having a baby early into my thirties. That was something I always wanted to happen, but some bad personal choices were putting my plans in serious jeopardy. Luckily, I jumped my hurdles and came out a winner.

My wife's "baby clock" started ticking more loudly and quickly than ever once we got married so I knew a baby was coming soon. It's still a shock, no matter how prepared you think you may be. It was on Election Day when I got the news. I was going to vote and just as I pulled up I got the call after she took the test. She said that the second she did it, it came up pregnant; no guesswork needed. I knew it was coming, but it still took a little bit to sink in. I don't know if it's the same for every father-to-be out there, but for me everything sunk in when I saw the first ultrasound. When you see that tiny little person doing jumping jacks in your wife's tummy, it all comes together.

Now that we know what we're having, it's shopping time! Being that my wife has shopping in her DNA, she's ready to go! My father and his wife are generously purchasing our nursery furniture and bedding so now we get to pick out the bedding, and clothing. Now I don't care if you're the most macho man on the planet, a 300-lb linebacker with 20-inch arms and rabies, baby clothes will get you feeling all warm and fuzzy. These days, nearly everything that can be made for babies, is made. Tiny hiking boots, polo shirts, it's all there. The hard part is keeping yourself from buying one of everything. If you ask me, buying pricey clothing for babies is purely insane. I'm talking about Baby Gap and any other trendy spots like that. They won't know what they're wearing and unless you're a complete snob and blurt about it, no one else will know either. Once they're toddlers, that is the time to show off your fashions. Old Navy have some great styles for kids' clothes and you can get a lot more for your money. For all of you who think I'm cheap, you obviously don't know me. I'm just more rational about things and don't think that a baby needs clothes that are twice as expensive, because of the name on the tag, that will fit for about a month or two.

If you have some input on having babies, dressing them, or anything you'd like to mention, please leave a comment.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Bon Voyage!

For most of my life, I've had a negative outlook towards crusies. I've always felt like I wouldn't want to be on a boat all day long, because I'd be limited to whatever the boat had to offer. My dad has tried on several occasions to get me and my sister to go on a cruise with his wife and her kids. I kept declining, based on my close-minded ideas.

I want to say that I was completely wrong in my thoughts, just so I could say that I put my guard down and reaped the rewards of an awakening. I want to say that, but I can't.

My wife's parents took us on a cruise which ended just two days ago. We set sail on Monday, February 19th after driving from Merced, CA to San Pedro (near Los Angeles) where the ships are docked. It was a long drive and we were all excited to get there and board our ship. It was named Monarch of the Seas and, by size alone, lived up to its name. To stand at the base of the ship and gawk at it from all angles, side to side, up and down, is amazing. Upon arriving, we presented our credentials, such as passport and check in paperwork.

Passengers are given a "Sea Pass" which is your ticket on and off the ship at ports and what you use to purchase anything beyond the dining room and buffets. If you want some ice cream from Ben and Jerry's, it's charged to your card. The same goes for alcohol of any kind, or any shopping on the ship. There are tax free, duty free shops where you can buy alcohol and cigarettes in large amounts and save a lot of money. For instance, normally a large bottle of Absolut Vodka will cost you around 18-20 dollars depending on the store. In the shops, it's two bottles for 21 dollars. Of course, there is a limit to how much you can buy to prevent purchasing for resale.

We got on the ship and the lobby area was swirling with music and welcoming services everywhere. Not even 10 feet from the door was a table setup with drinks of many varieties for those who like to start drinking as early as possible. The ship makes its money from the alcohol and gambling in the casino, no doubt. Our first dining experience was in the dining room, which was nice. Our whole gang dined together the first night. Our head waitress was from South Africa. We learned quickly that most or all of the staff onboard, were from outside of the U.S. The menu was setup in courses, giving you the impression of a very expensive restaurant you'd go to on the mainland. Kacy's mom and I got Scallop risotto for our starter and both were quite impressed. It turns out that it was the best thing I ate all week on the ship, and my opinion of the food otherwise declined each day after.

Now, I doubt anyone goes on a cruise just to eat so I'll get on with the stops along the way. First stop, where we arrived on the first morning of our cruise, was San Diego. Along with my first time on a cruise, this was my first visit to San Diego. We walked from the port to Seaport Village, a seaside shopping community with everything from custom made tiles to Harley Davidson merchandise and a Wyland gallery. Along the way, we stopped to admire the USS Midway, an aircraft carrier parked at port there. The carrier was massive and there was a large assortment of aircraft parked on deck. Along with a few helicopters, there was an F-14, which was made popular from "Top Gun" as the plane flown by Maverick and Goose. There were a few others, but I'm not an expert on navy aircraft so I won't make bad guesses. For Kacy's uncle that was the highlight of the trip. We did some shopping, had a local brewed beer, and headed back to the ship.

That night, Kacy and I tried the buffet while her parents returned to the dining room in formal attire for the nights theme. There was a split in dining preferences between my wife's parents and her aunt and uncle. I just wanted to go where the food was best, so that night in the buffet was the only night we didn't eat in the dining room. It could be said that my expectation of the food onboard could have set me up for disappointment. However, all I hear is how great the food is on these cruises and you can eat morning, noon, night and all hours in between if you desire. So, I think I've been setup by others' praise rather than my own expectations.

The next morning, we arrived at Catalina Island. The ship could not dock there, because there was not a port large enough to hold the beast that was our cruise ship. We took a smaller boat from our ship to the shore, which they call "tenders". Our time in Catalina Island started with a guided tour on a trolley around the island's main attractions. The guide was very animated and entertaining and we got some knowledge and good laughs out of it. He mentioned that the Wrigleys were the first full-time residents on the island. If you thought of spearmint gum all of a sudden, you're on the right track. However, you must also include Wrigley field and the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs would play spring baseball on the island and there is a resort on the island which used to be their clubhouse.

So, after our tour we set foot to the main drag of shopping. I got a great shirt and the girls got a few things as well. After Kacy's aunt and uncle headed back to the ship, the rest of us had lunch at a place on the water. I'm a sucker for clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl and I wasn't disappointed this time. After lunch, we wandered for a while and got back to our ship. Kacy and I weren't quite satisfied so we made a trip to the buffet. We spent some time on the deck two levels atop the pool deck so we were nearly at the highest point on the ship. We were laid out on some lounge chairs reading and taking in the fresh air. I must note that I am not fond of high places, so I was quite impressed with myself for being up there with no apprehension.

Our afternoon reading session moved to cocktail hour followed by dinner in the dining room. At this point, we have a bit of a relationship with the staff which made it nice. We had talked with a man up in the bar atop the ship about what his experience working on the ship is like. He was from India, and early into his time onboard. The staff spends 6 months working non-stop on the ship, with a couple months off after that. Some staff get a day off here and there depending on their station. Other staff, like our head waiter I mentioned before, work 7 days a week for dinner along with lunch or breakfast service. She explained that she didn't mind because she was there to make money, not to have days off. They all live on the ship in special quarters. She mentioned that the captain has "an apartment" onboard and is only there for 2 months at a time. While the food isn't as impressive as the overall appearance of the dining area, the experience is what people go for. The staff treats everyone like royalty. They are all very professional and make sure throughout your whole evening in the dining room that you are well taken care of. After dinner each night in the dining room, some entertainment followed. Usually, the entire staff would form a circle around the center of the room and sing. Sometimes, they'd put something on their heads and dance around. No matter what, a night in the dining room was always more than just eating dinner. Kacy and I ended the evening with a routine trip to Ben and Jerry's before shutting down for the evening.

Our last stop on the cruise was Ensenada, Mexico.
For anyone who thinks of white sand beaches and turquoise blue water, this isn't it. Ensenada is a very poor town, filthy in appearance and surviving only from tourism and business from the cruise ships. Women walk the streets with one or two children in tow, holding up their empty cups waiting for passersby to toss in a coin or two. Personally, I think the use of children is for sympathy but it still didn't seem to work as most of their cups were all empty. You cannot avoid being solicited by the street vendors which line the streets with their suitcases of jewelry and other products. Children are everywhere selling homemade items, along with the others.
We took a small bus into town from the ship and our guide gave us the shopping do's and don'ts for making our purchases. One thing he mentioned which I still haven't fully accepted is that the Black Pearl from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, is docked in Ensenada after being purchased by a couple and put there for tourism. The ship looks very close in resemblance so a part of me is ready to accept it as fact. He said that they planned on having tours of the ship at some point. I would have thought that Disney wouldn't sell such a huge relic to be docked in a run-down port to sit and rot. Moving on............

We walked up and down a street or two before stopping at "Mango Mango" which is across the street from Papa's and Beer. From what I read, Papas and Beer owns MM. We had some chips and salsa along with a few drinks. A few of our group had to take advantage of the "no-strings" margarita offered to cruise ship guests. We walked around a little more but it didn't take much time before we headed for our ship. On the pool deck, we all enjoyed a drink in comfort and agreed that Ensenada was not on our schedule if we did this cruise again. For our last night on the boat, we all spent some time in the casino. Kacy and I barely played, because we don't have the luck or the money to play very much. Before bed, we packed up our bags and set them out for the porters to take. You have to do this so they can get the luggage in place to pick up when you depart the boat.

We woke up, had a quick breakfast and got in the longest line I've ever been in. The line was to get off the ship and we thought we were done. The second we cleared the ramp getting off the ship, it was an even longer line to go through customs. Like a herd of cattle, we slowly moved closer to the doors going into customs. We got to our cars, and started the long journey back home.

So, returning back to my opening statement, I wish I could say that my original thoughts of cruises was wrong. We enjoyed our ports and spending some time together on a trip. This was actually the first real trip we had all taken together so it was worth it just for that. I didn't like the schedules everyone had to follow, but I did get used to it after the first day. If we decide to cruise again, I would favor an Alaskan cruise with a different cruise line. On our first day back home, we saw a commercial for Princess Cruises in Alaska and a waiter is bringing out huge lobster tails to a couple by the pool. That is something I could definitely get excited about! Of course, getting off the boat and fishing for some monster would be the ultimate goal of that cruise.

All in all, I have to say that while I was not impressed with many aspects of cruising, I am now willing to consider it again with an open mind.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

UPDATE TO BREWPUB POST

Thanks to a reminder from Pamm (author of the Alaska blog on my sidebar), I've added Rubicon Brewing Company located in Midtown Sacramento. I did think of it when when writing my brewpub post but did not include it because I hadn't been there so long. However, after hearing it mentioned, I remembered that it was a very good place for beer and food and deserved the attention. Thanks Pamm!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

SUPPORT LOCAL MUSIC!!

I have a few friends in the Sacramento area that are in bands and trying to get as much exposure as possible. These are all great guys and each of their bands have different sounds.

Radio stations hardly give local music a chance to be heard. In fact, the two radio stations in Sacramento dedicate about an hour a week to showcasing local talent. One major supporter of local music is Mark Gilmore, who hosts 98 Rock's Local Licks in Sacramento. He has shown up to many shows of my friends and truly wants to help local acts get known and signed. However, he cannot do this alone and as radio listeners we have the power to make these bands get the recognition they deserve.

If you think about it, every band had to start somewhere. Major label acts Cake, Tesla, Deftones and Papa Roach all came from the Sacramento area. Chris Isaack came from Lodi, Train and Journey are from San Francisco. No matter how big a band becomes, they came from obscurity and got where they are by people helping them get their name out there.

Therefore, I'm calling on all fans of music, specifically rock, to take a listen to the bands below. Click on their banners and it will take you to their MySpace page. You can listen to a few of their tracks on the music player whether you have a MySpace account or not.

Go and check them out, and bring some friends. These people are all friends of mine and are very grateful when people come to see them play and tell others about it. The best thing you can do for these bands is to post their banner and a link to their page on your MySpace page or blog if you have one.


Monday, February 12, 2007

And the Grammy goes to......

Every year, I look forward to watching the Grammy awards to see if music justice is served. The performances are usually mediocre at best, but seeing some of my favorite acts get the recognition they deserve is what I'm really after.

The night started with a very brief performance from the reunited Police. Before starting "Roxanne", Sting shouted "Ladies and gentlemen, we are the Police and we're back!" After such a long absence I must say I felt a bit short-handed. We waited for more than 20 years and got about 3 minutes worth of "Roxanne", and much of it was just an improv jam. Aside from a brief reunion for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, they had not played together in more than a decade. A tour has been set starting at the end of May, which the band has described as "three guys on stage, that's all". What I can say about The Police is that after so long apart, they really looked excited to play together. If that holds up, their tour will easily be among the best of the year.

In terms of musical justice, last night the Dixie Chicks got justice handed to them five times.
They performed their song "Not Ready To Make Nice" which was a defiant stance against those who turned on them for their political beliefs. Back in 2003, vocalist Natalie Maines shamed President Bush regarding the war in Iraq and their careers and lives were threatened. Radio wouldn't play them and it seemed that the world was all done with the Chicks.....until now. They won for record and song of the year, as well as best country album beating out American Idol winner Carrie Underwood. The top Grammy prize, Album of the Year, was announced and once again the Chicks took the stage as Natalie declared peace by saying "we're ready to make nice."

Mary J. Blige, known as the queen of hip hop soul, took home the awards for Best R&B album for her multiplatinum-selling "The Breakthrough" and best R&B song for "Without You". Mary was rudely interrupted during her acceptance speech for Best R&B Album, which was the first Grammy win of her career. As the "finish your speech" music was cued, Mary started name-dropping as fast as she could and some internet sites claim a total of 55 names were mentioned.
As far as I'm concerned, the evening is all about giving musical credit where it is due, so each recipient should be given the opportunity to thank the people who helped them to acheive their award, without fear of being rushed. Mary performed twice during the show, first with an orchestrated take on "Without You" and then joining Ludacris on their collaboration "Runaway Love" from his Best Rap Album winner "Release Therapy".

As Ludacris took hold of his Grammy for Best Rap Album, he shouted "so y'all are telling me all I had to do was cut my hair to win a Grammy?" and was later heard saying "today is pretty much the best day of my life."

John Legend, newcomer Corinne Bailey Rae, and John Mayer shared the stage as they took turns during one of the more memorable performances of the night. Both Legend and Mayer took home Grammy awards as Legend got Best Male Vocal performance for "Heaven" while Mayer took Best Pop Vocal Album for "Continuum" and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for "Waiting On The World To Change".

This is the point where the Grammy awards took a wrong turn for me. John Mayer beat out both Justin Timberlake's album "Futuresex/Lovesounds" and Christina Aguilera's "Back To Basics", two albums which boast significantly greater vocal ability than Mayer could ever conjure up. Aguilera's album was a huge change in direction for her as she channeled the jazz siren within. Justin's cd is the modern day equivalent of Michael Jackson's "Thriller", and they were beat out by the whining, constipated sound of John Mayer. What's done is done I suppose and my gripe is only partial being that Justin and Christina both won a Grammy, as Christina took Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for "Ain't No Other Man" and Justin got Best Dance Recording for "SexyBack" and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for "My Love" featuring T.I.

On the Rock front, Red Hot Chili Peppers took awards for Best Rock Performance by a Group and Best Rock Song for "Dani California" as well as Best Rock Album for their double-cd release "Stadium Arcadium". For Best Hard Rock Performance, Wolfmother took the award for "Woman", a huge upset as Tool lost out for "Vicarious". For the Rock category, my biggest confusion is the absense of Pearl Jam's eponymous 2006 release, which is the first album since their debut "Ten" which critics didn't completely rip to shreds. In fact, most critics' reviews gave high praise for the new album. Pearl Jam even created videos for a few of the album's tracks after releasing 5 albums without videos to support them. Of course, since MTV has moved to reality shows for the majority of their schedule, I doubt anyone even noticed.

Of course, no one can forget the infectious "Crazy" by Gnarles Barkley. They were rewarded with a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album for "St. Elsewhere".

All things considered, I think the industry got things right this year with the few exceptions I mentioned above. With 2007 shaping up as the year of reunions, I'm hoping that next year's Grammys showcase what we've been missing.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Everyone's A Critic

In case you haven't guessed from the title, I'll be sharing some reviews of various things I've come across living in Sacramento. Sometimes it'll be a restaurant, sometimes an album that surprised me, in a good or bad way.

For this installment, I'll be sharing my views on various breweries in the greater Sacramento area and sometimes beyond. Keep in mind that I'm just a normal guy who loves beer, not some uppity food critic who's opinon makes a restaurant owner rip his hair out in fear of a bad review.

A few of my regular brewspots:

River City Brewing Company
Located in Sacramento's Downtown Plaza below Century Theater. I must first mention that I've known of this place for a long time now through a friend who is a sous chef there. He was one of my top people in my Jamba days. However, that has nothing to do with my opinion of the place. Their stuff speaks for itself. My wife and I went there on our first date. I was happy to go there just to say hi to my friend and have some good beer with average food. I know this is a brewery, but their food is not typical brewhouse grub. There are a number of very complex dishes there, most likely created to compliment their wide variety of brews. Personally, the Vienna is my favorite of their beers. Aside from Vienna, I have tried the stout, Kolsch, and the Golden Pale Ale and all are enough to boast about. They have a pot roast that is remarkably different from what is usually expected. I have had their St Patty's dinner which is served with a special pub mustard that provides just enough bite without setting your mouth ablaze. Their brewmaster salad is among the top 3 salads I've ever had in my life. If you have not yet visited this fine brewery/eatery, please do so.

http://www.rivercitybrewing.net/


Sacramento Brewing Company
There are two locations, one in Town and Country Village at Fulton/Marconi and the other on Madison near Sunrise, called The Oasis. Both serve pretty much the same food and beer. Their Red Horse ale is my favorite there, with the Sasquatch Scotch Ale at a close second. Red Horse is crisp and the Scotch ale is very smoky. I would liken the Scotch to a Guinness style beer but much better. Their food is not quite as upscale as River City but the prices are. I've had the Ribeye, which was very good, but I think where they exceed expectations is in their appetizers. Nearly all of their starters are worth your time, especially the garlic or blue cheese fries. They take a bag of bag of oil along with garlic or blue cheese chunks and toss the fries in the bag right in front of you. If you're on a date, be prepared with a lot of Altoids. All in all, a great place to visit. The Fulton/Marconi location has live music during the weekends which makes for a fun time. Some friends of mine known as Nothing Like Negative play a free acoustic show on the first Saturday of every month.

Great beer, great food, and acoustic rock makes for an evening that's pretty hard to beat!

http://sacbrew.com/


BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse
There are several locations on their website but I've been to the Folsom and Fresno locations. Both were equally good. The Pirahna beer was my favorite but the others pale in comparison to the breweries mentioned before. It makes sense why they put restaurant before brewhouse in the title. Their food is great. They have the biggest potatoes you've ever seen, about two pounds on average. They stuff or cover them with amazing combinations, like the grilled chicken, broccoli, alfredo sauce and cheese. They serve Chicago style pizza in many varieties.
If you're going there to drink, try a sampler to get a feel for all the varieties they have.

http://www.bjsbrewhouse.com/


Rubicon Brewing Company
Rubicon is located on Capitol ave at 20th street in Midtown Sacramento.
I added this review after Pamm reminded me of how great it was. I'll be honest, it's been a long time since I was there so my memory isn't as fresh as it was with the others mentioned above. I do remember having their India Pale Ale and their Amber and they were good. Their food is what I remember most, like BJ's. They have incredible sandwiches and their onion rings were very good. Rubicon even serves breakfast for all you early birds out there. I will have to go there again soon to refresh my memory but what I do remember was an enjoyable experience. Pamm reminded me of the Rubicube which can be filled with a beer of your choice and fits in your fridge.

http://rubiconbrewing.com/default.htm


Streets of London Pub
Two locations in the Sacramento area, at 18th and J St and in Folsom on Bidwell.
Now, they may not brew their own beer but this place boasts one hell of a beer selection and incredible pub style food. Dishes like bangers and mash (sausage and mashed potatoes) and fish and chips are the cream of the crop. The atmosphere is fun and friendly, both inside and on the patio. The J Street location is more casual to fit its surroundings, with the Folsom location on Bidwell has a more upscale feel. A billiards table provides some sporting fun in Folsom while darts is popular at the J Street pub. They have an excellent appetizer sampler with items like fried zucchini and a scotch egg, along with beer battered mushrooms. For an English pub experience as authentic as the food itself, stop by Streets of London some time. If you really want to get in spirit, order an Irish Car Bomb! Keep in mind that their Folsom location has a full bar while J St sticks to beer and wine.

http://www.streetsoflondon.net/


That concludes this installment of brewery raves and reviews.
If I find a hidden gem, I'll surely pass it along.

If you have visited any of these and would like to share your experience, please leave a comment. If you have been somewhere I haven't mentioned and want to recommend it, please let me know. I'm always on the lookout for a new watering hole.

The Jamba Era

Back in '97, life was not going as planned for yours truly. I was pretty much shifting through jobs because I still had no idea what I wanted to be doing (just before turning 21). I was living here in Sacramento for the first time, with my sister and brother in law. The strange part of it was that she thought it would be fun. So, my life as a third wheel began. It was actually a very fun time as I was introduced to some very cool people and started to really feel like Sacramento was my new home, which was a big deal.

As a Fresno boy, I was one of those guys who didn't really plan on leaving. I had the same friends from elementary school all the way through graduation and that was something I wasn't ready to let go of. Everytime I'd go back to Fresno after moving here, I would approach the sign for my exit and I still felt like I was going home and it was a long time before I started feeling that way about Sacramento.

I worked with my brother in law, who is a software engineer and back then was working on his own. I did the typical office help duties, invoices and such. I even got to tamper with some systems he was working on for some friends. This was my introduction into the world of computers and I was enjoying it. That was until Dan changed directions and moved into software alone and I was just not "wired" for that kind of work.

I went with my sister one day to a Jamba Juice for a smoothie. (why else right?) I had heard of smoothies before, but I had no idea that this kind of place existed. It was amazing, and I was hooked the second it hit my lips.

My sister thought it might be a good idea to apply there, so I did. That's when I met the woman who would be my manager at a new location. She and I talked and quickly formed a bond that has lasted 10 years, far beyond our days with Jamba. I told her that I was interested in management, but since I had no prior experience she told me that I'd start like everyone else but she'd keep me in mind when the opportunity came up. I trained at one store and took to the job very quickly. I was filling in for people left and right, which got me more money and helped me solidify my blender skills quickly. The manager at the training store was starting to regret not keeping me for his own, but knew that my manager needed people for the new store.

The new store opened and things were going great. I truly felt like this was a place where I could trive as a person and start to reinvent myself, which is exactly what I did. Not long after the opening of the store, I became a keyholder and took on some extra responsibilities. Time flew by and everything was great.

Then, after a few evaluations, our store was made a training store. Any retail food chain manager knows that it's a huge compliment. It means that the company finds your store to e an example for others to follow so you'll train the future managers. Two new hires were brought in and I was assisting in the training of them both. Things got social between one of them and myself and I found myself involved futher than I had thought would be possible. It was around this time that I was approached to become asst. manager of my store. I was training in the bay area, so she and I were getting closer. Casual dating turned into to a relationship. She lived in the bay area and got a new store out there, but the store was not going as planned for her and caused her much grief.

I knew that the regional manager was impressed by her during training so I made it known that she was available if there was a store in the area for her. Upon hearing of this, she immediately put her into a new store closer. That's when you'd think that everything started to progress for her and I. What I didn't know is that she was homesick to an extent that caused resentment for anything that didn't remind her of home in the bay. She would criticize things about Sacramento time and time again and hearing her bash my new home was not something I was in favor of. The decline happened fast, and we found ourselves living together physically, but emotionally she was very far away. I started going out and putting my life back in order waiting for her to move on. A phone conversation killed what was left and it was done. I was upset for a while, some of my friends and family saw it first hand. But I was not broken, and soon after I was back on my feet.

Work was changing with some new faces, including a new regional manager.

The dynamic of the store changed and I wish I could say it was for the better. Our team suffered a huge loss with the death of one of our newest members. We all attended the funeral and I read a poem I had written for his parents as a memorial to him. Some of the people in the store posted a bit of a shrine to remember him. We got closer as a group, but soon everything would change. Following some controversy revolving around the funeral my manager, my first contact at Jamba and mentor up to that point, was let go.

We were given a lot of answers but none that made much sense. At this point, the store was in complete disarray. Many of those who worked there literally just stopped caring about doing their job as they always had before. I arranged a meeting with the man that would replace my former manager. He was a very nice guy who had the opportunity to take a brand new store but chose ours. I guess he was up for a challenge! The first few months were scary. He was against anything that my former manager supported and many people were not conforming. To his credit, he was just trying to get the store back to what it once was, a fun place to work and a fun place for people to come to. People were let go, and feelings were hurt. A few months later, the store was doing better than it ever had. The people that mattered took to the new manager's style and all was well. The ones who objected were gone.

This is the point where I made a huge mistake. I had been talking to the new regional manager about getting a store of my own to run as manager. He recommended a manager down in Fresno who had asked about me after hearing of me through meetings. So, I took the opportunity to get back to my old hometown and be with my old friends in hopes of moving into my own store. It was during my time in this store that my sister was pregnant with my first nephew. I was working one night and got a call from my mom saying that my sister was in labor at the hospital and she was going up there. I arranged for the shift supervisor who was working to close up and I left with my mom. There was no way I was going to miss the birth of my sister's child. Apparently, after I left the store got a bit busy and no one was called in to help out. I was blamed for the incident and written up for it. It was at that moment that I knew I should never have gone back to Fresno. That manager was not the right person to help me in my goals. After that, I did as much as I could to make any negatives in that store into positives. Many of the people working there flat out hated this guy. I started to wonder why my regional manager had this guy picked as the person to develop me. Things went downhill and eventually I was gone.

In summary, I can tell you that the end of my time at Jamba was a huge low point in my life. However, there is not one second of my time there that I regret. I met some wonderful people, some of which I still talk to, 8 years later. I experienced pain, friendship, love, and it made me the person I am today.

As far as the company, it's a much different place than it was during my time.
The product is just as good, but the people are a little less colorful.

I may have left out names, but the events are all excactly as they occurred.
For any of the people who were a part of this experience and read this blog, thank you for being a part of this huge chapter in my life. Please leave a comment, I'd love to hear from you.


For anyone who has any questions about Jamba Juice, feel free to ask.
I'll tell you anything you need to know, with the exception of the recipes.

In the 3 years that I was with Jamba Juice I was rarely sick, always full of energy,

and in the best health of my life.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Concerts Part 1

So I'm sitting here at work and have nothing to do as usual and I was thinking about all of the concerts I've been to. The dates are as accurate as I can remember so if any of you want to challenge or correct me, feel free.

To the best of my memory, here's the list:

Van Halen F.U.C.K. tour May 1992 Selland Arena
Rod Stewart Unplugged Tour 1993 Shoreline Ampitheater
Van Halen Live: Right Here Right Now tour 1993 Shoreline Ampitheater
Aerosmith Get A Grip tour with Jackyl August 1993 Cal Expo
Richard Marx @ Fresno Fair 1993 Paul Paul Theater
Rush Counterparts tour February 1994 Selland Arena
Aerosmith Get A Grip tour with Collective Soul October 1994 Cal Expo
Pearl Jam Vitalogy tour June 1995 Golden Gate Park
Eagles Hell Freezes Over tour 1995 San Jose Arena
Van Halen Balance tour with Slash's Snakepit 1995 Arco Arena
Pearl Jam Vitalogy tour November 1995 Spartan Stadium
Dave Matthews Band July 1997 Cal Expo
Sammy Hagar Marching To Mars tour August 1997 Memorial Auditorium
Sammy Hagar Birthday Bash @ Cabo Wabo Cantina October 1997
Tool Aemima tour August 1998 Memorial Auditorium
Dave Matthews Band October 1998 Arco Arena
Cake secret show 1998 The Press Club
Gypsy Kings 1998 Concord Pavilion
Cake Prolonging The Magic tour 1999 Memorial Auditorium


KWOD Big Friggin' Day ft. Cake, Blink 182, Lit, Silverchair, Limp Bizkit, Kid Rock, Live, Sugar Ray, Smashmouth June 1999 Shoreline Ampitheater

Pearl Jam Binaural Tour October 2000 Selland Arena
Korn Pop Sux tour with Disturbed November 2002 Arco Arena
Pearl Jam Riot Act Tour June 2003 Shoreline Ampitheater
Godsmack Faceless tour March 2004 Memorial Auditorium
Korn Greatest Hits tour December 2004 Arco Arena

Downshift (several shows from 2004-2006 at various venues)
Nothing Like Negative (several shows from 2004-2006 at various venues)

Taste of Chaos w/ Downshift, Killswitch Engage, My Chemical Romance, The Used, others
2005 Arco Arena

I'll be sharing some stories and facts about these shows in Part 2 of this post.
Of course, with each new show I see the list will grow so you may want to check back on this post from time to time. I'll post a quick message whenever there is an update to make it easy on all of you.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Pearls of Wisdom/Words to live by

I'll start off with a small phrase which I created myself which can be appreciated by both sides of the fence.

A poor man with friends understands wealth in a way that a lonely rich man never will. --JK

And now some words on:

Love--
I've loved before and now again and I know that the only way to truly love is by holding nothing back. People will get hurt in love, that's something that has to be accepted to fully experience it. When you find the one person you know that you'd avoid hurting at any cost, you've found love. People may get hurt, but you know that with what you have between you, healing is always a part of that hurt. You do not love someone if you don't hurt when they're away. When you hold your feelings away to protect yourself, you're only cheating yourself. Make sure that those who mean something to you know what they mean. It does no good to have a silent admiration towards someone. People need to feel needed, loved, appreciated. Without feeling as such, they have not the ability to understand the importance of passing their feelings on to those they care about.

Kindness--
I've lived my life knowing that kindness is the only true investment that never fails to return. There is far too much suffering and cruelty in the world to add to. Deep down mankind is a considerate, compassionate species, but somewhere along the way several of us lost what we were instinctively given at birth. We are said to be god's children but if he loves us, we need to love ourselves and one another the same or his cause is lost along with our own.

Being--
There is no tolerance in me for hatred, bigotry, racism, or abuse of any kind from one person to another. For each person whom hates someone of different race or religion, there are many who struggle with the world they live in because of those who hate. I would like to think that there are more people who accept others regardless of any differences, but that would make me naive.
I am who I am today because I made a decision long ago to lead a life where people can see that there is kindness. You'll see it everywhere, but not nearly enough. After 9/11, it seems that because we were shown just how vulnerable we are, people started to band together as we should every single day. However, it wasn't long before the novelty wore off and now we are back to shouting at each other in traffic because we lost our patience and compassion for one another. How are we to coexist much longer like this? The fate of the world is not a solid concept, it is fluid and it is only how we decide to strengthen our attitudes toward a future that a future becomes a possibility.

In light of the current situation overseas, we are shown that severe hatred can destroy several thousands of innocent lives. The people who have lost their lives probably didn't even care about why we were at war. They probably were on their way to work or to buy food for their family, just trying to get by. The actions of few affect the lives of many, whether positive or negative.

The only true measure or guidance I can provide to conclude this is that it is up to every SINGLE individual to make a choice to change you views about people in general and life in every facet. When you walk by and see a person of a different race, don't look away. When a person does not pray to your god, do not cast him away. Embrace the differences between you, and understand that some of the greatest and most influential people in this world were not of one color, or one religion.

**ATTENTION GIRLS**
If you're still reading this, then you're definitely the audience I was seeking. The "bad boy" you think is so cute will hurt you later on. I am not saying that all "bad boys" will do this. It can be nothing more than a shell over a very decent interior. However, why would a good person hide under a disguise? Nice guys will be overlooked and shot down time and time again because girls want that fun, loose, wild guy who wears hip clothes with crazy hair....or so they think. The nice guy is whom you'll seek when your bad boy leaves you in the cold because you start growing up and want to raise a family and he just wants to party. All I can say is to be wary. When you let a man in early, possibly your "first", you are setting yourself up for a bad line of relationships. Do not look past the damage he causes just because he's all you know. Relationships are meant to be learned from to prepare you for the ultimate relationship, marriage.

I know of girls through friends who have remained with horrible men who will abuse them physically and/or mentally/verbally. They stay because leaving that person seems incomprehensible. If this one person is all you know, it seems that you can't be without them, but how far does it have to go? How many bruises will you cover before your dignity fails? Can you look your friends in the eye and say that you love the one who will punch you in the face and degrade you before others? To what extent do you feel the need to stay with someone before you finally reach the point where it's gone too far?

The Buffalo Theory and how it relates to drinking

As told by Cliff Clavin on "Cheers":

"Well ya see, Norm, it's like this... A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo, and when the herd is hunted, it is the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are killed first. This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole, because the general speed and health of the whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members. In much the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as the slowest brain cells. Excessive intake of alcohol, as we know, kills brain cells; but naturally, it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first. In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine. That's why you always feel smarter after a few beers."

I believe this is among the inspirations for "Real Men of Geinus"

Does marriage really change anything?




My wife and I got married on May 20th of 2006 after being together for roughly a year and a half. We did the long distance thing and then very untraditionally got engaged. This consisted of us talking about getting married, which took the spontaneous beauty of a proposal out of the picture in my opinion.

Ever since getting married, everyone asks "what does it feel like" or
"does it feel different now?"
If you ask my wife and me, it doesn't change anything. We still feel and act the same way we did before the wedding. Yes, it's official now but it doesn't mean we change who we are. It just changes the state of our relationship a bit, legally speaking. Kacy changes her name so I guess it would affect her more than me. We always laugh when people ask that because it makes us wonder if we're the only ones who feel this way.

Think about celebrities like Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn who've been together for more than a decade but remain unmarried. Of course, there's also KISS bassist and "lord of the tongues" Gene Simmons who has somehow escaped marriage to Shannon Tweed even though they have two children. I totally understand Gene; who would want to marry a former Playboy playmate who genuinely wants to be married to you? He pokes fun at it with their annual "unniversary" while the children wonder how they ended up with such a clown for a father. At one point, Shannon performed an ambush wedding on Gene but once again he escaped.

However, we're not celebrities. Somehow, the veil of Hollywood casts an evil spell on all who attempt to enjoy wedded bliss. We working stiffs somehow have the ability to make our marriages last longer than a football season, if we're really committed.

To me it's simple.
I grew up in a broken home which is a lousy term for that situation.
I would see my dad on occasion, usually when it was convenient for him. As a kid, I didn't know any better though so it never affected me. I'm not the kind of guy to let my past dictate my future so these days my dad and I are good friends. Later in life, my sister finds it necessary to call my dad out for his lackluster performance. You see, she's my half sister as we have the same mother but my father was husband number two for mom. Needless to say, she and my dad had very different views on life and communication was an issue. Both of our parents have been married at least twice, my dad on his third. I think I can speak for both my sister and myself in saying that the experience had us coming away with more respect for marriage. She has been married now for more than eleven years, which is more than either of our parents have achieved thus far. Sure there have been some bumpy roads along her path of marriage, but she and her husband have found ways to continue down the road together and I couldn't be more proud of the example they're setting.

Marriage is something that I felt I had to be successful at, not only to learn from my parents, but to prove to myself that I could commit to someone and make it work no matter what. Little did I know before meeting my wife Kacy that marriage would be relatively easy. I don't think it's a matter of perfect compatibility, it's a matter of two people who truly believe in marriage and happen to just simply get along very well. There are instances of tension, but mostly caused by sarcasm or misunderstanding. Kacy told me long ago that she thinks the secret to marriage is to never go to bed angry. For all of you reading this, go ahead say it "gee, why didn't I think of that". It sounds so simple, but somehow divorce still exists in discouraging numbers.

I think that the introduction of a child is what changes the dynamic of a couple. There is so much to discuss and agree upon that never gets done until the baby is crying and there is no milk ready and someone forgot to pick up more diapers. That's when a couple starts to turn against each other if they're not prepared. Case in point, my sister. I think that before my wonderful nephews came around, she and her husband had their share of communication breakdowns but when it came to parenting styles the true wall was built inside each of them. It took them a while, but I feel like they're doing well overall.

I guess marriage and all that comes with it will be a different story for every couple out there.

So, I'd be interested to hear from our married friends or anyone who's married that wants to share.........."does it feel different to you?"

I personally think that even though I feel the same as I did before the wedding, a marriage is a very important experience to have. It teaches you how to work at something you believe in to keep it healthy. As for divorcees, I can understand that there comes a point when the relationship is not salvageable (in the event of cheating, as an example.) However, so many people these days are much too quick to throw in the towel. How about trying to work it out? Call me whatever you want, but I call myself an optimist. I also just believe in marriage as an institution that you need to maintain, rather than just something to do if you've been together long enough.

Van Halen returns with Diamond Dave, at least for now!

Well, it's official! Eddie and Dave have put down their weapons long enough to make another go at salvaging Van Halen's reputation. Perfect timing for such an event, being that they are being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March this year. David Lee Roth was with the band from 1978 to 1985 until his replacement Sammy Hagar "jumped" in from 1985 to 1996. Both singers are being inducted with Van Halen for being heavy contributors to the band's huge piece of rock history.

Back in 1996 after internal conflicts led to Hagar's solo resurrection, Roth had a very short return only to record two new tracks for their Best of Volume 1 compliation. Following his abrupt ejection for the second time, Hagar and Roth shared a stage on the Sam/Dave tour which was initiated by Hagar. Much of the tour has been chronicled on Sammy's "Long Road To Cabo" DVD, although all you see of Dave are a few short clips from backstage footage. Being that it is Sammy's DVD, it's his concert footage that the DVD is focused on. There is a moment in the DVD in which Sammy reads a critic's review of the Sam/Dave tour. From the sounds of it, Sammy emerges victorious while Dave's performance is scorned.

Of course we can't forget "Van Halen III", led by Extreme singer Gary Cherone. Musically, the album could be honestly noted as a huge step forward. Some of the chords that Eddie threw in were reminiscent of classic Van Halen while others were very different, taking them in a new direction. Vocally, it was a complete flop. Listen to "Without You" and you cannot escape the pitiful attempt made by Cherone to clone the vocal power that Hagar displayed. Cherone was quickly dismissed following a dismal response by critcs and fans alike.

From 2000 to 2004, there was nothing. No news, no hints at what was to become of Ed, Alex, or Michael Anthony. Then in 2004, after a few talks between Alex Van Halen and Sammy, a reunion tour took place to accompany a much more complete "best of" collection called "Best of Both Worlds" featuring the most popular music from both the Roth and Hagar era, including three new tracks featuring Sammy on vocals. Appropriately titled, the first new track was called "It's About Time." From a critics' standpoint, this was a mediocre outing and it was reported that near the end of the tour the same old problems were haunting the band once again, including Ed's alcohol usage. Fans at the final show in Tuscon were treated to a barrage of shrapnel as Ed smashed his guitar, along with any hope of a new cd with Hagar.

Throughout the turmoil, Michael Anthony and Sammy Hagar have long been friends and played together outside of Van Halen. Apparently, that eventually became a thorn in Eddie's side as Michael has been replaced by Ed's son Wolfgang. According to interviews, Wolfgang can play guitar, bass, and drums as well as sing. He joined Van Halen for a couple dates on the 2004 tour with Sammy.

So, the question is..........does anybody care anymore?

I'm guessing tickets are going to be upwards of 200-300 dollars. From what I've heard, Dave's voice is shot so basically the only chance they have is if Ed's son Wolfgang has the chops to back up Dave enough so that no one will notice. If that's the case we'll have to hope he didn't take after his dad for vocal ability. If you haven't heard Ed's singing, listen to him growl "Humans Being" during the song of that title. Also, he took singing duty from temporary stand-in Gary Cherone on "Van Halen III" on a track called "How Many Say I". Personally, as much as I love the handful of Roth tunes I can stand, I'm thinking that this tour is going to be more like the equivalent of a grill brush on a dinner plate amplified to 100,000 watts of ear drum terror.

Back to the topic of Hall of Fame induction time...........
Sammy has said in interviews that he has not yet spoken to Ed or Alex regarding the ceremony aside from a congratulatory phone call. In another interview he has said that he believes it would just be a spontaneous thing and hopes that all can put aside their differences and simply enjoy the moment. I'm hoping that his optimism isn't just the foolish ramblings of a dreamer. Nothing would please Van Halen fans from both era more than two see Ed, Alex, Michael Anthony, Dave and Sammy stand on one stage and collectively take a bow for their HUGE contribution to rock music. After that, one or two songs from both singers to show that they're all grown ups and they can rise to the occasion. OK, I know that last line may be a pipe dream but no one knows what will happen until it does so I'm gonna roll with that idea for now.

If you're wondering what side I'm on in the whole Hagar vs. Roth thing, here it is...........
I am absolutely unwavering in my stance that Van Halen was a wonderful band when Roth left, but they became an icon once Sammy Hagar joined. Of course you'll want to know why I feel as I do and I'll tell you. Sammy Hagar has been recording music for more than 30 years and his solo career has been highly successful in and out of Van Halen. Quickly after his fallout with the VH brothers, Hagar went to the studio and put out a terrific album "Marching To Mars." A few albums later, he created what I consider his best solo cd since Standing Hampton titled "Ten 13". Of course for all Hagar fans you know this to be a nod to his birthday (Oct.13). Sammy is approaching the 60-year mark and shows no sign of slowing down. Ask anyone who's seen Sammy since Van Halen and they'll tell you that above all, he's just out there playing for the fans who still know that "There's Only One Way To Rock", and Sammy knows just how.

Following Roth's departure he made a few cd's that did nothing more to prove that his music career apart from Van Halen was just a bad idea. So Dave is back and willing to take another beating from Ed and Alex in hopes that maybe, just maybe, this time something good may come of it.

To keep up on Van Halen updates, check out the
Van Halen News Desk or the band's main page http://www.van-halen.com.

Thank you Tony!

This blog was inspired by a friend of mine, Mr. Tony Holt, creator of http://tonyremembers.blogspot.com.

His writing is very entertaining, so stop by and leave comments.
Tell him that SharkByte sent ya!