As a fan of a wide variety of popular (and not-so-popular) music from the 1950s (and sometimes even earlier) up through the present, one of my bucket list projects for years has been to put together a list of my 100 favorite songs of all time. At some point I decided that, once I got around to figuring that out, I could put it out on a blog, for the infinitesimally small proportion of the Internet world that might be interested. So, here we are. While the Top 100 will be a major focus, I also plan to post on a variety of other musical (and occasionally non-musical) topics, in which you may or may not be interested. (If a particular posting doesn’t ring your bell, you’re only a few clicks away from a dancing cat video on YouTube.)

Monday, February 26, 2018

James Hunter Six w/ Three Man Soul Machine – Pearl Street Warehouse, 2/24/2018

This was our first trip to Pearl Street Warehouse, in the new Southwest DC Wharf District along the Potomac waterfront – we had driven by the construction on a regular basis on the way to Nats games. There’s an extremely wide expanse of underground parking that’s underneath virtually the entire area, along with a nifty app that provides real-time updates on the number of available spaces. We were thus surprised to see a “P – FULL” sign as we were about to turn off Maine Avenue, but an attendant directed us to turn right into what the map said was “Water Street”, but appeared to be more of an alley. Once we got into the garage, we were becoming somewhat frustrated as a number of the green-lighted spaces turned out to be for EV charging, otherwise reserved, or basically non-existent, despite teasing signs promising 30+ empty spaces. Fortunately someone was leaving and we grabbed their spot. The underground color coding and directional signs were quite good, and once we got back to street level on Pearl Street we were right across from the club.
The club (21 and over for all shows) features a diner as you come in, before you turn left into the lower level of the performance space. The downstairs seating plan varies depending on the show; for this one there was an empty area for dancing in front of the center of the stage, with rectangular tables on each side and some round tables for standees (of which there were many) in front of the bar in the rear. We had paid a few dollars more to get tickets for the small second-level mezzanine above, which was farther from the stage but much less congested given the number of people standing below. The sound was quite good; there was more chatter than I’m used to at the Birchmere or Rams Head, which was not an issue for this show but might be for more acoustically-oriented acts.  The table service and food were good, although they had run out of the listed Flying Dog brew.
Hunter and crew were up to their usual excellent standards, keeping the sold-out crowd entertained throughout an 18-song set that mixed four tracks from his recently-released Whatever It Takes album with plenty of older material. Highlights included the songs where various band members were able to stretch out (“No Smoke Without Fire”, “Don’t Do Me No Favours”, “Believe Me Baby”), his obligatory cover of “Baby Don’t Do It” by The “5” Royales, and the closing “Talking ‘Bout My Love.”
I was impressed enough with Three Man Soul Machine to buy their CD at intermission (a bargain at just $8). Primarily a jazz combo, although with some soul and funk, the trio (sax, organ, drums) demonstrated their chops in a 40-minute opening set that mixed originals with a few covers, including “When I Fall In Love” and an inspired version of the Stylistics’ “People Make The World Go Round”. The set was all instrumental, except for a mid-set tribute to the old American Basketball Association (ABA).
James Hunter Six setlist

Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Association – The Birchmere, 2/20/2018

I bought the first two Association albums when I was in junior high (and subsequently re-bought them on CD), and was impressed that all of the tracks held up well over the years, not just the hit singles. I had never seen them live, and almost didn’t get to this year; I had a ticket for their sold-out Saturday night show at the Rams Head in Annapolis a couple days earlier, but the roads weren’t in good shape and I decided that chancing what would have been a 2-hour round trip in ideal weather was more than I wanted to try. (As it turned out, there did wind up being an accident on my route.) Fortunately I was able to get a ticket for their show 3 days later at the Birchmere. The rush hour traffic to Alexandria was lighter than usual, so I got there shortly after 4:00, was the 6th “group” in line, and wound up at table 317 – close to the center, one of the tables that are parallel to the stage and just in front of the divider.
The current 6-man lineup includes 2 original members, the son of another original member, and the brother of a guy who joined the group in 1967. The first half of the 95-minute show was good but not spectacular – the opening “Windy” had a little too much percussion for me, and I wasn’t all that fond of their reworked version of “Walk Away RenĂ©e” – but things picked up when they got to “Six Man Band”, which rocks harder than most of their material. They also got to my two other favorite obscure singles during the second half of the show, “No Fair At All” and “Goodbye Columbus” (for the encore). The main set ended with a bang, starting with Jim Yester’s hilarious “Avocado” (Weird Al’s parody of “Desperado”), continuing with a 7-song medley of hits from The Big Chill, and concluding with “Cherish” and “Along Comes Mary”.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

David Buskin w/ Eryn Michel -- Positano Ristorante Italiano (Bethesda), 2/18/2018

I hadn’t been to a World Folk Music Association Showcase since they moved the location to Bethesda, so this was a good chance to catch up with some friends and try out the restaurant. A huge parking garage a block or so away is free on Sundays, which is a big improvement on the parking situation at their previous venue. Service is always a challenge at sold-out music events; our entrees didn’t arrive until the first set was nearly over, no one offered to refill my iced tea or water all evening, and someone else’s appetizer appeared on my bill. They did do a nice job with the penne al’arrabbiata, however.
Eryn Michel accompanied herself on acoustic guitar in a 25-minute opening set that included a couple of originals, in addition to covers of songs done by Emmylou Harris (“Boulder to Birmingham), Maren Morris (“Dear Hate”), and Edith Piaf. After intermission, Buskin (on acoustic guitar and keyboards), with Marshal Rosenberg on percussion, kept the audience entertained for the next 90 minutes. Highlights included a smorgasbord of song fragments rewritten to reflect their writers’ advancing years (“Urge for Going”, “Try to Remember”, “YMCA” turned into “AARP”, etc.), a great rendition of his “All In All” that reminded me of Stephen Bishop at his best, and his classic “Jews Don’t Camp”.

Friday, February 16, 2018

#180 Killin' Kind – Shelby Lynne (2001)

I first heard this one on WXPN while I was driving on Columbus Blvd. one day in Philly; not sure whether I was up there for XPNFest or for a Phillies game. Unfortunately the ensuing album (Love, Shelby) wasn’t nearly as good as its predecessor (I Am Shelby Lynne). This track, however, which was featured in Bridget Jones's Diary, grabbed me from that first encounter and has yet to let go.

#179 Walk Between Raindrops – Donald Fagen (1982)

This is the final track from one of my favorite albums of all time. Who knew being out in the rain could be so much fun?

#178 Things Have Changed – Bob Dylan (2000)

It may or may not mean anything that my two favorite Dylan-songs-performed-by-Dylan are both from movies: “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” (from Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid) and this one (from Wonder Boys). Regardless of the movie link, however, “people are crazy and times are strange” resonates just as well now as it did 18 years ago.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Shuffle #105 (January 31, 2018)

Dimming Of The Day – Any Trouble
Together – The Intruders
Hello Mary Lou – Ricky Nelson
Land Of 1000 Dances – Wilson Pickett
Stop Your Sobbing – Pretenders
Just Let Me Cry – Lesley Gore
Gunslinger – John Fogerty
What Have They Done To The Rain – The Searchers
Why Can’t We Be Friends? – War
Sweet Seasons – Carole King
Another Saturday Night – Sam Cooke

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Burger King Deviously Explains Net Neutrality by Making People Wait Longer for Whoppers

Kind of a cute stunt, especially for those of us who support net neutrality …

Shuffle #104 (January 27, 2018)

Skyfall – Adele
You’re Still A Young Man – Tower Of Power
Oblivious – Aztec Camera
If I Had A Hammer – Peter, Paul & Mary
Send A Little Love My Way – Stephen Bishop
If You Ever Have Forever In Mind – Vince Gill
Happiness Is Just Around The Bend – Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express
Dirty Work – Steely Dan
Shelter – Lone Justice