Mimi's Blog

Grnderswitch and Genesis

So back to my music collection and the alphabetizing that still thrills me. When I last mentioned it, I had wrapped up the letter “F.” The “G” section in my homegrown collection takes up an entire shelf. It includes all the Peter Gabriel albums that he couldn’t manage to put a title to and all the original Genesis albums. I probably should upgrade to Genesis remasters but it’s rare that I can actually hear a difference. I do have a vinyl copy of “Honest to Goodness,” the first Grinderswitch album. I haven’t listened to it since the 70s but I feel like it’s a rock and roll memento and I am quite proud that it’s in my collection. I don’t even remember what they sounded like. Maybe I should drag out the turntable.

The Whole Album Experience

Every so often, I enjoy listening to a complete album from start to finish. I mean iconic albums from the seventies and eighties. I know artists put thought into the order of the songs. In fact I was told, many moons ago, that the best song on the album is never the first track on the album. If you listen in album order, you might catch a subtle theme or feel a build in tempo that the artist intended. Sometimes it’s just a vibe that you can only get by listening from start to finish.  Most albums I listen to have 3 or 4 songs I like. A great album to me means I like all but one or two songs. And it’s a lot easier now to skip what you don’t like than it was in the seventies when you had to lift the needle and recue the record. I think the whole album experience is worth a revisit every now and then.

Rocking with Herkimer Diamonds

Herkimer Diamonds started forming half a billion years ago. I started looking for them just this past weekend. I finally took a trip to one of the two diamond mines in Middleville. Tourists and rock hounds have been visiting for years, but my relationship with the double terminated quartz crystals has just begun. Hammers, chisels and safety glasses were the only equipment I needed and you can actually rent this stuff at the mines. I’m glad I wore jeans but a pair of shin guards would have been better protection from the chips and chunks of rock that flew everywhere. I liked swinging the hammer-no misses therefore no bruised hands. I liked digging in the dirt for crystals. And, I liked yelling, “I found one” at the top of my lungs. It was a good day at the mine.

The State Fair is Americana

For many of us, having a State Fair in our backyard is a plus. A big Fair nearby allows for multiple day trips.  You can set aside one day for amusement rides. One day for the animal barns. One day for exhibits and shows. I think people-watching is the best part of the Fair. Where else can you see so many couples with matching airbrushed tee-shirts and strollers packed with a neighborhood’s worth of kids? Where else is it acceptable to eat corn-on-the-cob while you walk? I do a lot of staring. My better half likes the food. He calls it “carny food.” Even though you can get lemonade anywhere, it seems to taste better at the Fair. The same goes for fried dough and ice cream. The State Fair is Americana at it’s best and worst and I wouldn’t miss it.

You Can’t Share a Camp Chair

Perhaps the greatest invention since the car cup holder is the collapsible camp chair. Bringing your portable chair into shows means comfort. You can even supersize your chair with recliner-like extensions and crazy hanging storage, too. Most chairs come with two cup holders which enables two-fisted drinking if you’re up to it. And they are pretty lightweight although I am not good at stuffing it back in its carry bag. How did we live for so long with just a blanket? The blanket covered the anthills but offered no padding. It didn’t even provide a good sight line to the stage. However, the laying of the blanket was most important. It was territory! You had a plot and a place. The blanket created patches of real estate that sober concert-goers hopped over and drunk concert-goers trampled. And sometimes you shared that blanket with someone you met at the show…. You really can’t share a camp chair.

Box Sets are for Suckers

As a fan of many classic rock bands, I seem to be buying a lot of box sets lately. If it is a band I really love, I don’t care what reviewers say about the release, I am going to buy it because well, I am a fan. My music collection is busting out at the seams with boxes of all shapes and sizes. I only want the previously unreleased songs and the demos and the alternate versions but, I have to buy the whole box set to get those tracks. And I have to buy the correct box set because most artists release several versions. There is the vinyl version-no, thanks. The deluxe version which usually has the extra tracks I want and the super deluxe version with books or photos and a DVD. That’s the stuff I will look at once that will remain in the box never to be seen again. Box sets seem to be the perfect way for an artist to make money without doing anything. Incredibly, musicians are making money on the very songs that they rejected, that were not worthy many moons ago. Must be plenty of suckers, er, fans out there like me.

Rocking the River

It doesn’t take much coaxing for me to get out on a river in a canoe. I love canoeing. I would go every day if I could haul the canoe myself but I can’t so I have to wait until my better half feels like carrying and dragging 70 pounds. I’ve only been out a handful of times so far this season and the next to last time was a bit of a scare. I knew I would tip over in a canoe at some point. Everyone does. I can swim and am not afraid of the water. I was not prepared for how intense tipping a canoe is near a fallen tree in the middle of a river bend.  It’s a lot different than dumping in a lake. The canoe immediately fills with water and the current pins it against the tree. Plus, you get to watch your paddles float down the river. It was only about 3 feet deep where we tipped but the force of the water made it feel like we were under Niagara Falls. I don’t know how we got the canoe out but we did. We paddled a bit with sticks until we caught up with our paddles. We were wet. We were tired and we learned that rocking the river in a canoe is not to be taken lightly.

Summer Comfort

Music just sounds better in the summer. Blue skies and hot sun do wonders for whoever is on stage. Sometimes it’s the people I am with and sometimes it’s what’s in the red cup that sparks the moment. It could be my favorite band or it could be someone I have never heard before but add summer ingredients and I am sure to enjoy the music. It’s that vibe that puts me on the road to travel hundreds of miles to see a band I just saw inside three months ago. I guarantee I will love the outside performance more. I love the summer vibe.

My 25 year old cassette

Bon Jovi has just announced that the band will be releasing the definitive 25th anniversary edition of “New Jersey’. This is one super deluxe re-mastered package that I am actually interested in. My only copy of “New Jersey” is a cassette and it may be time to get a CD copy. That cassette has lasted for 25 years, without a case, stuffed into the glove compartment of a car I only drive 3 months of the year. Through temperature changes and frequent scrambles for license and registration, that cassette is still playable. I look forward to that first top-down day each year when I reach for that cassette, stuff it into the factory-issued in-dash cassette player and turn the knob to ten. That cassette, a pair of sunglasses and an open road has been my welcome summer ritual for 25 years. That cassette has served me well. Maybe I don’t need that super deluxe re-mastered CD boxset after all.

Flooding the Yard with Sound

I have retreated to my music collection now that I can relax on my back deck with no fear of a snow storm. It’s been a long time coming. My neighbors on the north side of my house are also taking advantage of warmer weather. They have already peeled back the pool cover and have plunged right in. Although I love the sounds of kids laughing and having fun in the sun, I dislike hearing adults that shout at rather than speak to each other (frankly I don’t need to know that much about them). While they bellow “cannonball” every five minutes, I am flooding my yard with the Allman Brothers Band. Live at Fillmore East Allman Brothers Band. Great jams, dueling guitars and just enough volume to drown out the Mark Spitzes next door.