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, August 13, 2018

Lyle Lovett & His Large Band – Wolf Trap, 8/10/2018

Row L, Seat 25 (leftmost “center section” seat)
The more things change, the more they remain the same.
This is certainly true of Lyle Lovett & His Large Band. You can count on impeccable musicianship in a wide variety of styles. (The Wolf Trap program blurb listed “country, swing, jazz, folk, gospel, and blues”.) Most of the players remain the same; some have been with him for over 20 years. The basic structure of the lengthy, intermission-free set (about 2 ½ hours) is pretty standard: an instrumental intro (typically “Blues Walk”) that allows all of the band members to stretch out before Lyle takes the stage, a mostly upbeat sequence featuring the full band, a more acoustic/introspective mini-set in the middle that includes headlining takes by fiddler Luke Bulla and guitarist Keith Sewell, and a rousing final sequence (ending this night, as is often the case, with “Church”), and an encore or two. Classics such as “If I Had A Boat”, “Here I Am”, and “That’s Right (You’re Not From Texas)” find their way into almost every show.
The changes, of course, are what makes the experience so rewarding over the years. When compared to the previous time I saw them two summers ago, “Penguins” found its way to the beginning of the show, right after Lyle came on, while Francine Reed’s “Wild Women Don’t Have The Blues” moved to near the end. A couple of non-Lyle songs that he had contributed to movies, “Gee, Baby, Ain’t I Good To You” and “Straighten Up And Fly Right”, appeared. And Lyle and Francine broke out some dance steps on both “Gee Baby” and “Penguins”. I don’t recall hearing “Choke My Chicken” before either live or recorded, and I don’t think I’d heard him do “Cute As A Bug” or “San Antonio Girl” live before. Those two are both from the stellar My Baby Don’t Tolerate album; an extended version of the title cut was one of the evening’s highlights.
My new favorite coming out of the show is “This Old Porch”, which he co-wrote with fellow Texan (and Texas A&M student) Robert Earl Keen. There’s a great article about it in an old issue of Texas Monthly, and the video is outstanding.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Shuffle #108 (August 9, 2018)

Going Mobile – The Who
Big Train (From Memphis) – John Fogerty
For Her Love – Marshall Crenshaw
Need To Belong – Jerry Butler
Why Walk When You Can Fly – Mary Chapin Carpenter
Workin’ On A Groovy Thing – The 5th Dimension
Marie Marie – The Blasters
Judy’s Turn To Cry – Lesley Gore
Take Me To The River – Talking Heads
Don’t Worry Baby – Los Lobos

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

August 5, 2018 – Nats 2, Reds 1 – Nationals Park

Attendance: 33,486
Duration: 2:39
Weather: 90 degrees, Partly Cloudy
Wind: 5 MPH, L to R
Umpires: HP: Jeff Nelson. 1B: Chad Whitson. 2B: Manny Gonzalez. 3B: Andy Fletcher.
Game notes – the Nats scored their only runs early, on a second-inning HR by Matt Wieters and a two-out RBI double by Harper an inning later … Tanner Roark had another strong outing, lasting 7 innings after surviving a 4th inning that started with 4 straight singles … Madson and Herrera finished things off by retiring all 6 batters they faced
Other – the actual crowd appeared to be significantly smaller than the announced attendance on an extremely hot, humid afternoon … our old go-to parking area was fenced off due to impending demolition/construction, so apparently we will need to find somewhere else

Thursday, August 2, 2018

2018 XPoNential Music Festival, July 27-29, Wiggins Park (Camden NJ)

Friday wound up being unattractive due to parking and weather issues. The “neutral” (i.e. not from the always-optimistic WXPN folks) weather forecasts from and KYW called for a strong probability of storms mid-evening. The frequently-changing info from the XPNFest web site indicated that only one lot south of the Ben Franklin Bridge would be available prior to 6pm. The RiverLine light rail, which I used before, was not particularly useful, since the last train left the XPNFest neighborhood around 9:30. So Plan A was to get to Camden around 2:30 and (hopefully) park. As it turned out, after circling around several times I was completely unable to find the promised “Lot 6”, and decided to just catch the Wiggins Park performances on the radio. As it turned out, the skies opened up between 7:00 and 7:30, forcing the cancellation of the planned Lone Bellow set. They also wound up closing the XPNFest section of the RiverLine due to flooding, and one couple I talked to while waiting in line Sunday said they wound up parking in a chop shop Friday. In other words, no regrets.
Saturday was hot and humid, but with only a slight chance of rain, so I got there before the gates opened, had no problem parking and stayed for the duration of the Wiggins Park sets. Sunday was better weather-wise, with mid-80s temperatures and nominally low humidity, but it was still really hot in the sun. The crowd seemed like one of the largest I’ve run into, making it difficult to catch the Marina Stage performances if you were set up by the main stage. I found myself running out of gas several hours in, and decided to leave around 5:15.
Two sets were particularly noteworthy, both on Saturday.
I wasn’t especially familiar with Mondo Cozmo, but they took the River Stage midway through the afternoon and absolutely crushed it, winning ovations not only from the up-front standees (a crowd which ultimately extended almost halfway back the main walkway) but also from those of us sitting on the lawn. Frontman (and Bucks County native) Joshua Ostrander got things off on the right foot by sporting a blue Joel Embiid jersey, with the band’s opening “Come With Me” bringing to mind U2 in their prime. Other highlights included “Shine”, “Automatic”, “Tonight Tonight”, and a special, family-friendly edited version of the title track from their latest EP.
A few hours later, Margo Price ended the Wiggins Park portion of Saturday’s festivities on a high note. While I suppose she can properly be classified as “country” – her lyrics definitely fit the mold, and a couple of her songs did feature pedal steel – her top-notch band nevertheless rocked as hard as anyone else who took the stage during the festival. (This includes Price herself, who in addition to her work on rhythm guitar took her place behind the drum kit on two numbers.) Their set featured mostly original material, most notably “A Little Pain”, but they also changed things up by throwing in three well-chosen covers: “Mary Jane’s Last Dance”, “Casey Jones”, and the closing “Proud Mary”.
Quick notes on some of the other performances are below. More detailed recaps are available from WXPN’s “The Key”; some include setlists and/or links to the audio of the performances.
The National Reserve (Friday) – on my target list, reminded me of the Bodeans, bought the last available copy of their CD from the merch booth on Saturday
Katie Frank (Saturday) – reminded me of Paramore, but definitely old Paramore, not the “Ain’t It Fun” lighter sound
Hurry (Saturday) – excellent sense of humor, brought to mind Fountains of Wayne
&More (Saturday) – promising local hip-hop duo, who get bonus points for building their final song “War” on a sample from “The World Is A Ghetto
Natalie Prass (Saturday) – had a real neo-soul vibe, which for some reason I wasn’t expecting
Lo Moon (Sunday) – Broken Bells, anyone?
Hiss Golden Messenger (Sunday) – possibly the chattiest set of the weekend, but in a good way

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Shuffle #107 (July 29, 2018)

It Takes Two – Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock
Down On The Corner – Creedence Clearwater Revival
We’re Rolling On (Part 1) – The Impressions
Good Timin’ – The Beach Boys
Dead And Gone – Gypsy
Get A Job – The Silhouettes
Feel Good Inc – Gorillaz
The Reflex – Duran Duran
Don’t Give Up – Peter Gabriel

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Shuffle #106 (July 28, 2018)

Iuka – The Secret Sisters
10 Rocks – Shelby Lynne
Drown In My Own Tears – Eva Cassidy & Chuck Brown
I Was In The House When The House Burned Down – Warren Zevon
Not For Me – Marshall Crenshaw
Valerie – Richard Thompson
Dead Flowers – The Rolling Stones
Nights On Broadway – The Bee Gees
Closer To Fine – Indigo Girls

Monday, July 23, 2018

July 22, 2018 – Nats 6, Padres 2 – Nationals Park

Attendance: 39,063
Duration: 3:26
Weather: 76 degrees, Partly Cloudy
Wind: 4 MPH Varies
Umpires: HP: CB Bucknor. 1B: Chris Conroy. 2B: Brian O'Nora. 3B: Fieldin Culbreth.
Game notes – Nats took a quick lead in the bottom of the first on an Eaton leadoff single, Harper walk, 2-run triple by Rendon and an RBI groundout by Juan Soto … Scherzer allowed 8 hits and ran up a high pitch count through the first 4 innings, but was able to go 6 and depart with a 3-2 lead … the home team added insurance runs in the sixth (consecutive 2-out singles by Eaton, Turner, and Harper), seventh (RBI single by Matt Adams following a Soto double), and eighth (Harper round-tripper) … meanwhile, 4 Nats relievers allowed 6 more Atlanta hits but no runs over the final 3 frames, with Kelvin Herrera recording the 5-out save … Nats defense was stellar, robbing two Atlanta hitters of extra bases and rubbing out two runners at second base
Other – after all-day rain forced the postponement of Saturday night’s game, this one had a 1:55 delay (featuring a major storm in the middle) before finally getting underway at 3:30, as well as a 1:38 delay at the end of the 6th inning (we left partway through the latter)

Thursday, July 19, 2018

July 17, 2018 – American League 8, National League 6, 10 innings (All-Star Game) – Nationals Park

Attendance: 43,843
Duration: 3:34
Weather: 82 degrees, Partly Cloudy
Wind: 3 MPH Out to Center
Umpires: HP: Ted Barrett. 1B: Jim Reynolds. 2B: Alfonso Márquez. 3B: Andy Fletcher. LF: Mike Muchlinski. RF: Cory Blaser. 

Section 312, Row D, Seats 18-19 – great seats, on the aisle and almost directly behind home plate. Not sure how we managed that … 

Overall summary – It was the perfect game for 2018, with almost half of the plate appearances ending in one of the Three True Outcomes (strikeout, walk, homer). The 10 home runs obliterated the previous All-Star record of 6, and there were more strikeouts (25) than hits (20). Only one run scored on something other than a four-bagger. Somewhat unexpectedly, relief aces for both leagues were pounded, and a starting pitcher got the save. Beyond that, it was actually a calm game for the first 7 innings, and an offensive explosion for the final 3. 

Game notes (innings 1-7) – hometown hero Max Scherzer got the start for the NL, fanning Mookie Betts and Jose Altuve to begin the evening, adding Ks of Jose Abreu and Salvador Perez to end his outing in the second after an Aaron Judge homer … Mike Trout added to the AL lead with a round-tripper off Jacob deGrom an inning later, but Willson Contreras got the home team on the board in the bottom of the frame by taking Blake Snell deep on his first pitch … the NL finally tied it following the seventh-inning stretch on a shot by Trevor Story off Charlie Morton … other than that the pitchers were in control, with Phillies ace Aaron Nola tossing a scoreless 5th … Bryce Harper struck out in both of his plate appearances

Game notes (innings 8-10) – in the top of the 8th with 2 on and 1 out, Joey Votto dropped a pop fly for an error (drawing boos and sarcastic cheers for the rest of the game), and Jean Segura made him pay by homering on the next pitch for a 5-2 AL lead … Christian Yelich got one back in the bottom of the inning with a HR off Morton … in the bottom of the 9th, pinch-hitter Scooter Gennett electrified the crowd with a one-out, two-run homer of AL saves leader Edwin Diaz to tie the game at 5 … the hometown good feelings wouldn’t last long, as the visitors scored 3 in the top of the 10th, starting with back-to-back longballs by Houston teammates Alex Bregman and George Springer off Ross Stripling … Votto only partially atoned for his earlier miscue by homering on the first pitch from J.A. Happ, who nevertheless earned the first save of his career
Other – there was a big storm earlier in the day, but only a brief, relatively light rain during the game … we were able to get going quickly on the Green Line after the game (which ended just before midnight), and a Red Line train was just arriving when we got to Gallery Place, but we then had a lengthy wait there waiting for a problem ahead of us to be cleared up


Tuesday, July 17, 2018

July 15, 2018 – Team USA 10, Team World 6 (All-Star Futures Game) – Nationals Park

Attendance: 38,071 (many disguised as empty seats)
Duration: 3:01
Weather: 86 degrees, cloudy
Wind: 9 mph, Out to LF
Umpires: HP: Malachi Moore. 1B: Edwin Moscoso. 2B: Kyle McCrady. 3B: John Mang
Section 306, Row C, Seats 3-5 (still on the 3B side, but down the LF line)
Game notes – back and forth game, with most of the runs scoring on the 8 home runs, 2 of them courtesy of Dodgers OF prospect Yusniel Diaz (World) … 18-year-old fireballer Hunter Greene (USA) of the Reds, who was the 2nd pick in last year’s draft, hit triple digits with each of his 19 fastballs, one of which (at 102.3 mph) was turned around for a 2-run HR by White Sox OF Luis Alexander Basabe … the US finally took the lead for good in the bottom of the seventh off Philadelphia pitcher Adonis Medina, a last-minute addition to the roster (he replaced Enyel de los Santos, who wound up as the starting pitcher for the Phillies earlier in the afternoon) … frequent mid-inning pitching changes contributed to the length of the game

Monday, July 16, 2018

It’s not just Roe. Worry about Chevron too.

How this Supreme Court pick could cement Trump’s real economic legacy
“In its 1984 Chevron decision, the Supreme Court declared that when a law passed by Congress is silent or ambiguous on an issue of how an agency should exercise its regulatory authority, the courts should defer to the reasonable judgment of the agency. In the years since, this “Chevron deference” has provided the legal basis for hundreds of regulations protecting consumers, workers and the environment promulgated under laws that, in many instances, could never have anticipated the economic, social and technological changes that would necessitate them decades later.
“But to the business community and legal and ideological conservatives, Chevron has come to be seen as a giant legal loophole that has led to the creation of a vast “administrative state” that has encroached on the power of Congress to make the laws and the judiciary to interpret them. And no two judges have been more closely associated with the campaign to pare back Chevron, or overturn it completely, than President Trump’s first two Supreme Court nominees, Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.”