Found More Great Music Online Yesterday

We all live our lives through music or we wouldn’t be human. When I talk to people about their childhood and teen years, they inevitably mention their favorite songs. They come up fast. They are etched in their brains along with memories of family, school, special events and milestones. I, too, remember when I was young how I would listen for hours on end so that I committed dozens of songs to memory. These you never forget. When I hear one of them today by accident or intention, I get a pang of nostalgia throughout my body. I am sure you know the feeling; it is part of our youth.

Well, nothing much has changed. As an adult, I still listen to music for hours on end. Instead of doing it under the bedcovers, I am at my desk in front of my laptop. A good day doesn’t go by when I don’t find some great stuff online. With the Internet, the music world is your oyster. I am afraid of missing something so at least a few hours every day are devoted to “research.” It’s a wonderful life! I am the envy of friends who don’t have this kind of time. They look forward to my recommendations so they can get a dose of my favorites after work or on weekends. I expect the same from them.

The other day, I was sitting upright in my chair awash in music. I was almost hypnotized. The problem was that later in the evening, I had a very stiff neck. In fact, my shoulders were super tight and felt achy. I had never gotten to this critical stage before without stopping and taking a break. It is said that you should get up and move about every hour that you are sedentary. Otherwise you won’t live as long. Horrors! I didn’t obey the rule that day, so I paid the price. I usually walk to the kitchen or go outside for a while if it is a nice day. I have also been known to lie down or stretch on the floor. I learned my lesson.

But I had a remedy. Let me tell you about the wonders of a handheld back massager. I was given the gadget as a gift and didn’t fully realize its value until now, even though my friend sent me this link when she bought it for me: You can quickly relieve tension and stress or undo the ravages of sitting too long. You hold it in one hand and apply it to the tight spot, and voila! The ache is gone. It is a veritable miracle.

While I still believe you have to get up periodically and perform some kind of physical exercise, the massager takes care of any residual effects of your long-term posture. This was a surprise to me and a welcome one. Every computer user knows the consequence of hunched shoulders and a bent back. I say, learn to sit up straight and enjoy the music!

Jumpin’ to the Music

I love being regarded as the music guru in my inner circle of friends. I don’t brag about my extensive collection; I just share it and everyone now knows what I am about. I am a music fanatic, like many people I know, and my eclectic taste has taken me far in terms of experience and knowledge. I can see why people count on me for advice and recommendations. No wonder when a party is afoot, I am asked to supply the music. I am most happy to oblige. I will tailor it perfecting to the event and guest list.

When I found out the party was to take place at an indoor trampoline place, I had to switch gears. Nothing low key. No one has to a converse and be heard above the music. I envisioned rows of these in-ground jumping devices filled with gleeful people having a lot of fun. A trampoline will jostle any depression or stress right out of you. It is a great idea for a gathering. I will be participating myself. Music is piped in and I can bring my laptop and hook it up. I will sort it all out beforehand and become the DJ of the day with ease. I am not used to being a party music planner, but why not. I know what I like and what other people appreciate. It will be lively and buoyant, just like the trampolines. I see everyone “jumpin’ to the music!”

It went off beautifully as I had expected. It was almost a no-brainer. There is so much music, instrumental and vocal, that applies. It was hard to narrow down the choices. I wanted something contemporary with a smattering of oldies. No one wants to go to a party and hear what they could get on their cell phone or laptop. A good time is full of surprises. I wanted to provide a listening adventure while everyone jumped about. And, yes, it was totally successful and everyone commented on how much fun. “The music made it,” said one smiling face. “Perfect pairing of song and mood,” said another. They all thanked me for coming and performing my job so well. I left the venue beaming with pride and then looking for ways that I could recreate the experience for a house party later, when I discovered this web page:

Meanwhile I am back to my usual routine of exploring the Internet looking for new stuff to archive. I am a kind of one-man grassroots music historian. I keep notes on all the various eras and key contributors. Someday I could write a book. It will be digital with embedded videos of famous performances and excerpts from the best songs of all times. I will do it in volumes according to era. I know this has been done for certain decades, but I will give it my own unique twist. It won’t be all the obvious selections. People will discover what they never knew existed.

The Ultimate Garage for Garage Bands

I started this blog to talk about music of all kinds and my interest in grassroots archiving—hence the name you see. If you are wondering what this is, it is no different than any other usage of the term in politics, for example. The grass roots culture also refers to social media resources that help the common folk (your average Joe so to speak) promote their own views and experiences on line.  I am a one-man-band with my own agenda that I have created from scratch with no help from the so-called “elitist systems” that distribute music. There is no judgment here. It is me, a purveyor of pop culture, doing his own thing by collecting his favorite music. I do it my own way by downloading and borrowing. No need to get formal about it.

All this blather aside, I am a self-styled music fan who goes for the great and innovative. It’s all exciting to me in any form whether on classic vinyl or digital platforms. Music stretches across time and is constantly changing shape. As long as something is fun to listen to, whatever the genre (pop, classical, rock or country and everything else in between), I am rapt. If I revealed my inventory, you would be amazed at the variety. It is all archived for me and others to enjoy.

Obviously, given my interests, sound quality is of utmost importance. I long to build a studio with every technological advantage but homey enough for “garage bands.” Guess where it is going to be? The garage! This is where I have excess space since no car is ever parked in it. I even posted about it on Facebook to get my friends interested. The floor is still pristine without a trace of oil in sight. It is totally open and airy. I have already designated a spot for the top-tier recording equipment. The walls will be padded and a cooling fan placed in the ceiling. The only problem with the last item is that the ceiling is a bit lower than normal. I hope it doesn’t matter. I suppose you can install a fan in most any space, provided you make the right Ceiling Fan Choice. I assume that I will be able to find an adjustable mounting system so the fan can sit very close to the connection with no extension rod. It would then be free and clear of human traffic and no one fear bumping their head.

I need the ceiling fan to keep the bands cool so they will not complain. (Did I mention that I will have a mini fridge loaded with icy beet?) The fan is far more economical than putting in central air. The alternative is a window unit, but then I would have to put in a window. Ha! The ceiling fan is the less complicated and most cost-effective way to go. They are inexpensive, highly function and super quiet these days. It won’t interfere with the recording session at all. It is going to be the ultimate private recording studio in town!

Persistence Can Pay Off!

Since I like a lot of older music and a lot of non-mainstream artists, it can be hard to find some of the music I want. The digital revolution in music hasn’t always extended to back catalogs, or at least not as quickly as I would like it to. It’s a real shame because so much if it is really good, worthwhile music that needs to be preserved for future generations. It is kind of annoying that you can get every terrible song that every one-hit wonder in the digital age can produce but real classics from talented artists aren’t available. Just because they were unfortunate enough to be born before the advent of computerized recording studios.

I’ve always got stuff on my to-find list. It would be my full-time job if I didn’t need money to buy what I find!

On weekends, I am often spending time looking for old records at garage sales and flea markets. When I strike out with those, I’m calling up record shops and contacting recording studios to ask about back catalogs. I’ve made good friends with a lot of the music stores in a day’s drive of my house, and most of them will call me when something comes in that I might be interested in (here’s a pro tip from me to you: make friends with these people, it is definitely worth it!) Speaking of friends, my close friends joke that I actually need to have something to look for. That if I ever found everything I ever wanted to listen to, I’d either drop dead or I would fall into a serious depression. One particularly smart friend of mine claims I’d probably just find something else to look for — which is the most appealing situation as far as I’m concerned, to be totally honest!

Yesterday I was off to an estate sale in the off chance that there were some old blues records in the offering. I struck out in that regard, which would have stung a little, but I did not leave empty handed! I did find an old big band compilation I didn’t even know was out there. I snatched that up right away. I love when stuff like that happens, it definitely pays to have an open mind and a watchful eye.

If you’re interested in creating a well-stocked back catalog of great vintage music, here are a few tips: you’ll need older technology to play some of it, so it’s worth investing in a quality record player and tape deck. Some even have digital recording capabilities if you want to be able to transfer it to something more moderm. Remember, there’s no point to looking for something that you can’t play once you find it. Second, do some internet searching on archival sites – you never know what’s out there, it may be easier to find than you think. Third, check YouTube. While this seems counter-productive, many people who have found rare music will play it in videos. It may not be the best quality sound but at least you’ll get to hear it. You can also ask the finder if they can tell you where they got it, or any other questions you may have about the recording. Third, make friends with people who have access to recordings. Whether it’s somebody at a record company or your local music store, when people like you and know what you’re looking for, they’ll let you know if it happens to cross their paths. My fourth and final tip is just to keep looking, anywhere you can think of: libraries, auctions, garage sales, bargain bins, your relatives’ attics or basements, or even storage units. Don’t get discouraged easily!

The Vinyl to Digital Transition

I know a lot of people who would much prefer to listen to even current music on vinyl. There’s something about the needle being placed on the record, or the warm quality of the record that makes it a better way to listen to music.

Don’t get me wrong, I love vinyl. I love being able to hold my music in my hands, to look at the liner notes and the sleeve, to be able to read the printed lyrics and see who wrote each song. And I definitely enjoy the rich, retro sound of records, especially when the music itself is older and it is an original recording.

But, having said that, one thing I do know is that the older the recording is, the less likely it’s going to be that I’ll find it. And if I do find it, the odds of it being in good condition go down dramatically. That’s frustrating, because the original owners didn’t really know that 50 or 60 years down the line somebody else would be hoping to hear one of these songs for the first time, so they weren’t necessarily as careful as they could have been.

That’s why archiving music and reissuing back catalogs are so important. For example, I can’t tell you how much I would be willing to pay for an original copy of Tommy Johnson’s Alcohol and Jake Blues because I have a better chance of becoming the King of England than it ever happening. There are rumored to only be 3 copies in existence of that record (one of which appeared on ebay, of all places! In case you’re wondering, it sold for $37,100) However, I have a copy of the song itself. Did I have any problems settling for the scratchy MP3 that Amazon has available? Not really! You want to know why? Because I’d rather be able to hear the song than just wonder what it might have sounded like.

When you have music like this, that’s so old and rare and important – it’s really depressing to think that they might disappear. Nowadays, we have digital master copies of everything, but the original recordings of most of the really old stuff is gone. The only way you can find them is to locate one of the commercial pressings. The odds go way down when there wasn’t a big press run and as time goes by.

Amazingly, there are people out there who are looking for, and buying, these old records. Best of all, many of these people are remastering and converting the songs into digital format and making them available to others. Record companies who do have master copies are digitizing and releasing old music as well.

I think that is an amazing benefit of new technology: to take something rare and amazing, and make it available for others to experience. Music shouldn’t only be for those with a lot of money, it should be accessible to all.

The Importance of Archiving Music

Music has always told the story of the people who created it. It doesn’t matter if it is a song that accompanies funeral rites or a dance tune, music puts a culture into context. When the songs of a people are lost, so are the values of that group. Things vanish into the long march of time, never to be heard again.

Nowadays, this does not need to be the case. In this day and age where everyone has a microphone in their computer, tablet, or phone, it is easier than ever to record the music of today. Our only limitation is hoping that the technology of tomorrow is capable of playing the songs of today – think about it: how many record and 8 track players do you think are still in existence? Would you even know what to do with a cassette tape?

I really think it is our obligation to take things that are on those sorts of outdated technology and continue to archive them, to bring them into the digital age and preserve them for whatever medium comes next. And I’m not just talking about old studio recordings, either. Bootleg and professionally recorded concerts allow fans to hear live performances that took place across the world and in the past whenever we want, allowing us to feel like we are there ourselves. Those are also worth preserving.

It’s also a great way to explore the evolution of music. Art constantly inspires itself, and music is no exception. Sounds grow and change through interpretation, time, and talents, creating something new along the way. In order to study music, it is beneficial to be able to see the way it traveled across the globe and time, how changes both great and subtle created offshoots, how artists bring their own style and experience to the table and make it their own.

There were so many talented musicians that died before I was born – some long before – and without others taking the time to preserve the sounds of people like W.C. Handy, Robert Johnson, Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong, the Beatles, and Elvis Presley, I would never have been able to hear them. These are some of the most influential names in music, and I shudder to think what would have happened if later generations of musicians wouldn’t have had access to hear some of these innovative titans.

There are sites like FreeMusicArchive, the National Jukebox at the Library of Congress, and are worth checking out if you’re interested in exploring the past through music. YouTube is actually another great resource, as people make videos of their collections – some of which are rare finds! There are also archive museums like at the Fisk, and at the Center for Popular Music Studies at Middle Tennessee State University dedicated to the history of music. The more value we place on preserving music, the more motivated people will be to do so.

Great Guitarists

Sometimes a really great guitar line can totally make a song. And great guitarists can inspire people to pick up the instrument themselves to learn how to play. I know that is what happened with me – I gave it up, because I am just not that good at it, but I still enjoy a good guitar player. Of course, I am a big fan of the classic greats like B.B. King, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Les Paul, Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana, James Burton, and Chuck Berry. But there are plenty of others out there who aren’t as well known and are pretty amazing as well.

I thought it would be fun to shine a light on a few guitar players that are so good you should hear them, but you may not know them at all. I’ll even give you a song or album to check out, too, so I’m not sending you into obscure record stores with just a name. Without any further nonsense from me, here’s the list:

Kyle Fosburgh. You may not have heard of him, but if you like acoustic or American folk music, you should check him out. Especially the album One Night. It was recorded in one session that took three hours, if you can believe that. I especially like the instrumental songs, where you can really appreciate his guitar skills.

Bernie Williams. If you follow baseball at all, his name might be familiar to you: as the centerfielder of the New York Yankees, he was on World Series championship teams four times. What you might not know is that he’s a pretty accomplished Jazz guitarist. He’s received a Latin Grammy nomination and had a couple of Billboard chart toppers. If you’re interested in hearing his music, I recommend Moving Forward. Between Williams’ talent and a host of guest performances, you’ll be seriously impressed.

Chris “Critter” Eldridge. He plays guitar with Julian Lage and Punch Brothers, and also performs as a solo artist. I am especially a fan of his music with the Punch Brothers, a band with an interesting blend of classical music and progressive bluegrass. They have only gotten better as time has gone on, and I really love The Phosphorescent Blues.

Lastly, Igor Presnyakov. This Russian-born guitarist got his start in rock and roll bands, moved over to Big Band, and then transitioned to fingerpicking. He does an amazing job with arranging music, as he was a student of classical music in his native Russia. While there aren’t a lot of albums available (check out Acoustic Pop Ballads), he is a bonafide YouTube star. Check out his channel for great original works as well as amazing takes on some well known covers.

These names only scratch the surface of the talent that’s out there. Please let me know if there are names that I missed, or specific genres that you want me to touch on in a different post in the future.

My Taste in Music

Like most people, my early music tastes were influenced heavily by what the rest of my family was already listening to. The things you are exposed to while you’re young certainly help shape the things you like (or don’t) as you develop your own tastes.

Lucky for me, most of my family had pretty good taste in music. My grandparents listened to a lot of big band and blues music, and I developed a real appreciation for the sound. My parents were definitely more progressive and preferred rock music. My siblings, who are older, got me into hip-hop, rap, and alternative music. People were always giving me something new to listen to, intentionally or simply through the fact that it was playing so loud there was no escape.

Throughout this musical education, I sought out the sounds that spoke to me the most. I became a big fan of strong guitar lines and interesting melodies. The great thing about loving the sound of guitars is that so many different styles of music incorporate it into the sound. Looking for great guitar players no matter what type of music really broadened my musical horizons.

For example, my current favorite guitar players are Joe Bonamassa, Julian Bream, Syran M’Benza, and Davy Knowles. They are blues-rock, classical, African, and folk guitar players, respectively. I don’t find it weird at all that I like all of them. On the other hand, I think it is amazing that they all play essentially the same instrument and yet it can be so versatile and have so many different sounds.

I have been able to incorporate so much of my musical taste into my daily life. Different music suits different moods for me. Sometimes I like the ease and peace I get from classical music, especially the completely instrumental kind. For some reason, I find music without lyrics less distracting when I am working or trying to concentrate on a difficult task. Other times I like blues or rock music, especially when I’ve had a bad day. I like to have jazz music playing when I’m cooking, and Top 40 type music during parties. Usually when I need to feel creative (like right now when I am trying to write this post), I’ll listen to world music.

I would not fault anybody who liked only one or two styles of music, but I do think that they are really missing out on a lot of other great styles. Everyone has their preferences and opinions, and I’d never tell you that you were wrong for only liking a certain genre. However, I also feel that if you keep an open mind, you never know where your new favorite song is going to come from. I think that’s a pretty awesome thing.

I Know Where I’m Going From Now on

Hello, music fans. Welcome to my blog. It will involve my love of music of all times from anywhere in the world of any genre. New artists are always welcome in my collection—the more innovative, the better. I even collect vinyl records from the olden days of yore, what I call the mid twentieth century. Now digital recordings are the exclusive denizens of the mainstream—mostly downloaded from the Internet. You can still keep physical albums apart from your digital library on your laptop or cell phone. This is known to music lovers worldwide, but I want to assert where I stand in terms of what I value—the old and the new. How about you?

I am fortunate to be able to listen to any music I like at work, even though I am not alone. My co-workers count on me to make the sound system selections of the day. No one else dares to question my content. There is so much variety that everyone looks forward to a new discovery. Boredom is never a word used to describe our background music. It energizes us and puts us in a good mood. If you are tired or down, try some uplifting song; it will work wonders. The odd thing about my office is that the music is piped into all the bathrooms, like it is in an elevator. This way, I don’t miss one word of a song or one note of an instrumental composition.

Taking a restroom break is a necessity of life so why not make it more pleasant. When the staff bathroom was in repair, I had to use the manager’s private one. I was surprised at the luxury. The faucets were gorgeous! Why spend the money, I asked. He replied that state-of-the-art design is not that expensive. A fabulous sleek and shiny Brizo faucet runs about $400. I knew they were more, because I’d been reading about them at I gave him a strong look and he knew what it meant. Why not put one in the employee bathroom? Meanwhile, I knew just where to go from now on. After the staff restroom was in good order, the manager hoped that we would all go back to business in our own private sphere. I wasn’t in a hurry.

To get us to return to normal, I expected to see a new Brizo within a week, but no, not yet. It took a few reminders before it finally appears. I had shamed the manger into this replacement. I looked up the price online and the model chosen ran $700. Wow, this was a splurge. He had to resort to the big books to lure us into resuming our old habits. It was okay with me. I appreciated the gesture and the assumption that we are all equals. Who knew that this attitude would manifest itself in a brand-new, elegant and expensive Brizo faucet.