zephyr illusions photo by donna October 1992. The view atop Chasseral, Jura Mountains looking across Switzerland to The Alps on the horizon. Fog, intensely thick, rising from Lac Bienne and stretching its fingers high onto the Lignières-Plateau de Diesse after wholly filling the valley below the plateau.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Dedicated To 2 People... 2 Friends...

...whom i've never met *in real life*, but have had only 'online' contact. online contact very true and genuine and i am sure if we were to ever meet up in real time and space we would enjoy a conventional 'real world' friendship, too.

To Prof. Kienstra, (real identity reserved to maintain his freedom of expression in anonymity) who reads this blog and gave me great recommendations and support on my recent trip to his home country... beautiful, diverse, historic, modern, progressive and paradoxical The Netherlands. Prof. Kienstra made my Netherlands Adventure more exciting and fun by following my travels via my blog journal entries and posting comments and suggesting sights to see and places to check out. he also continues to give me incentive to keep writing and using this blog as an outlet for self-expression. bedankt voor alles en voor je energie, Prof.! :)

To Dreadful Snake Guy (real identity reserved to protect all super heros of the world; lol :p ) who seems to connect with my inner feelings, my experiences, my basic emotions in some abstract, but very real way. while DSG and i lead very different day-to-day lives, he somehow seems to share much the same fundamental perspective and value of life as do i. i'm always pleased and happy to listen to his audio postings via his podcasts and enjoy exchanging mails and messages with him from time-to-time. hehee, and besides, DSG plays/enjoys some totally awesome music, possesses a deep understanding of music and appreciates how music moves the soul... gotta love that quality in anybody with whom we share this world! :)

So, after Prof.'s recent comment asking me what's up with me and why i don't post blog entries very often anymore (thanks for missing me and my writings :D ) and to DSG's most recent podcast sharing his beautiful and moving Christmas Mass experience in Shanghai, China (see my comment on his website) i want to say...
thank you for adding to my most eventful, exciting and fulfilling year 2005. 2005 is the Chinese year of the Rooster. i am a child of the Year of the Rooster and my discovery of friendship with you both (among the other people who have touched my life) has only added positivity and beauty to this past year of life on this Earth.

oh, and it cannot go unsaid... i have also, in this Year of the Rooster, renewed through more frequent contact, my lifelong friendship with my first inspiring friend, Camille. Camille, my first really understanding *real life* friend, has always been dear in my heart. i'm very content that we've again began to exchange communiques on a regular basis... i send out my love to you and yours... please consider this entry dedicated to you, too, Camille :)

Monday, December 05, 2005

Had another of those nights where live music lifted me to that place where i love to be...

Feeling bored, i decided to venture out on a Saturday night for a couple of beers and what i thought would be the usual local fare of listening to boring talk of football and getting hit on by redneck men drunk on Budweiser and testosterone. fortunately, i can say that i got lucky and the evening went otherwise...
On impulse, i went to a pool hall bar that in years past had a reputation as a place of barroom brawls ... what the hell, i was feeling adventurous and wanting to break my boredom, so why not check the place out. upon entering, i was surprised when asked to pay a $3 cover charge. i was delighted to discover that i had chanced upon one of the rare occasions to hear live music in this near music-barren town. woohoo! what a great unexpected treat to break my boredom.
I gladly paid the $3 charge to hear 'Free Shots', the talented cover band who i had the good fortune of hearing for the first time a couple of weeks or so ago (see 20 november 2005 entry of this blog).
It was a great evening... the crowd was friendly, happy, dancing and totally into the music, no fights occurred, there was no boring talk of football and everybody was very warmly socializing and interacting with each other. there was no negative vibe in the air and it seemed all were having a good time.
It was a very enjoyable 4 hours of hearing great covers of rockin' tunes by a great variety of '70s & '80's bands including (but not limited to) Lynyrd Skynyrd, Molly Hatchet, Cheap Trick, Aerosmith, Guns 'n Roses, AC/DC, Van Halen, ZZ Top, Golden Earring, Rolling Stones, Roy Orbison, Pink Floyd, Beatles, Eric Clapton, Neil Young... so many great songs. there was even some fun one-hit-wonder songs like Wild Cherry's 'Play That Funky Music' and that 'Jenny 8675309' song (who did that one?). hehee, a highlight for me, personally, was when the two rhythm guitarists and the bass player left the stage area and stood right in front of me playing during the finale.... i felt like they were playing to me and i loved it! :D i guess the evening was as fun for Free Shots as it was for the crowd because the band responded to an encore request before saying goodbye and calling it an evening. there was a nice connection between band and audience, indeed.

A real standout feature of Free Shots is their amazing ability to recreate the illusion that you are hearing the original band perform.... for instance, i can say with absolutely no hesitation that there is no AC/DC tribute band that could out perform Free Shots either musically or vocally. Free Shots do an amazing job of covering all the songs on their extensive playlist, but something uncanny happens when the rhythm guitarist straps on the bass guitar and the bass player takes front stage behind the mic for AC/DC and Guns 'n Roses tunes... i find it incredible that anybody can hit those high notes with such completeness and consistency. wow, gotta hear it to believe it.
I used to (erroneously) think cover bands and the musicians who play in cover bands to be a bit inferior to bands and musicians who play original music. but, my opinion regarding cover bands has been changing over the last few years and experiencing Free Shots is truly reinforcing my growing respect for good cover bands. i'm realizing that good cover band musicians are like good studio musicians.... although under-rated, under-appreciated and under-recognized for their skills and contributions, it takes a lot of talent to effectively duplicate a particular and recognized sound. i asked why Free Shots doesn't perform original music (they are certainly talented enough) and various members of the band said that even though they do write original material they cannot get together to rehearse due to scheduling conflicts with their individual day jobs. further reinforces how skilled these guys are as musicians since they only get together to play when they are working a gig. wow!
The major characteristics that make Free Shots so successful and incredibly appealing as an act is the versatility among the members as far as the ability to play multiple instruments and their diversity of vocal range and confidence to do lead vocals. it's this aspect of multiple skills that sets Free Shots apart from other cover bands that i've heard and lends them the freedom to cover songs of a great spectrum of bands..... this diversity and the fact that they've got an awesome lead guitarist who knows how to use a fretboard well beyond amateur status.
I've always been a drummer & bass player kinda fan, but i do appreciate good guitar playing when i hear/see it. and, Free Shots has one helluva lead guitarist, J.Z. Lucas... quite accomplished at playing in a clean, fast style using tapping and legato to capture and captivate. J.Z.'s skill definitely plays a big part in Free Shots' ability to cover songs by Van Halen and other high profile rock-guitar bands that most cover bands might be hesitant to attempt. interestingly enough, J.Z. plays left-handed guitar even though he is right-handed! ? [gotta find out more about how this came about next time i see them play!] truly amazing stuff. keeping true to the versatility that sets Free Shots apart, J.Z. plays more than lead guitar... he also plays keyboard, and, [this is my favorite part!], he plays drums, too. i'm not sure why, but to the music fan inside me there is something especially captivating about an accomplished tapping-and-legato-playing guitarist who can also pick up drumsticks and play a drumkit with skill.
Anyway, i'm happy to have found a good band to look forward to hearing from time to time since moving back to this hick hometown of mine. it's really reassuring to me that i'm not the only one around here that loves music and finds a way to pursue the passion while holding down a day job... i may not have the talent to play, but i do have the appreciation for how music touches and moves the soul. my contribution to the whole music vibe is to be a fan... and i'm looking forward to the next time i can see/hear Free Shots play, again :)

Btw, another cool thing about that unexpectedly fun Saturday night was the fact that during the evening we got our first real snow of the season... my first snow in 12 years since returning from living in Florida. it was pretty to see the snow falling and refreshing to feel the snowflakes on my face. there was already about 2 inches (5 centimetres) of snow on the ground and it was my first time to drive on snow in 12 years. i made it home without incident feeling quite content with the events of the evening. lol, but, the next day i suffered when i had to shovel the snow from the front walkway of my apartment :p

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Some Time To Share

I sleep
To escape into darkness
And awaken
In a dream of light
Unsaid words once misunderstood
Are now visions
Flashing brilliant like dawn
Confusion fading into shadows

Always knowing
We live in worlds apart
Each with a different reality
Yet sharing in common
Simple songs in our heart

No misplaced thoughts
No intentions untrue
No reasons to seek anything
Other than some time to share
To talk with each other
Only some time to enjoy
The caring friendship that grew

For too long
But now no longer
Questions haunting
Flooding my mind
What words did I say
What things did I do
To make you not want to stay
To make you want to go away
Into a world made of blues

Waking from cold darkness
The fading shadows pass
In the welcomed light
It becomes clear
It wasn’t just me
Seeking some time to share
Seeking some time to talk
Only wanting to enjoy
Some time in warm friendship
So true

I know now…
You were there, too

Sleep comes
With dreams of the day
I will awaken to the visions
Of unsaid words understood
Friends in the warm open light
With no shadows of doubt
Finding some more time to share
Finding some more time to talk
Only wanting to enjoy
Some more time in friendship
So true

Now I wonder…
Are You here, too
In a world made of many hues
Not a world made only of blues