Sunday, September 24, 2017

CHARLES BRADLEY...REST IN PEACE, SIR, WE HARDLY KNEW YE...

I am absolutely ashamed to say that, until his death yesterday, I had never heard of the great talent that visited this earth for the past 68 years, not getting his music "out there" until 2011, when he was 62 years old.

I'll be up front with you. Mr. Bradley moves my soul when he sings. Go here while reading this tribute and listen to AIN'T IT A SIN while you're reading this humble prose.  We'll start with that one. I know it's gonna make you forget all about this blog post you're reading.

I'll wait until you cue it up. There. Got the volume right? Have you ever heard anything like this voice in your life, other than perhaps the likes of the late Robert Johnson, the late Louis Armstrong and other great blues talents that long ago left our realm.

These great blues singers, they had one thing in common apparently, from the video interviews with Mr. Bradley on YouTube and the articles I've read online about him. They  had a real bad upbringing and perhaps, a troubled continuing life. Indeed, if there is a modern face of a soulful blues singer, it was Mr. Bradley.

That is not the defining fact of a man. The good Lord above gave Mr. Bradley an ability to sing that forged Mr. Bradley's unique sound that fell somewhere in between Al Green and the late James Brown.

I hate that I'm writing the phrase "the late" so many times already.

As the lead singer of an late 1980's original Houston blues band  that I played drums for, Joyce Bradshear once intro'd a song at a gig by stating, and I'm paraphrasing here..."That it's funny how something so sad can make you so happy. People listen to the blues when they're down, when they're troubled about something, and the whole grieving process of the song just somehow make you in your situation feel better about your blues". That quote doesn't do her justice.

About now you should be ready for another gem of Mr. Bradley, and this one was a real surprise. Although I'm in my fifties, and spent the mid 60's until now just obsessed with lots of different kinds of music, I'm not the biggest Black Sabbath fan. Yes, there are a few songs like Paranoid and Iron Man that I like somewhat, but it was really the songs like Crazy Train from Ozzy's solo career that were more accessible musically to me.

So I discover yesterday that one of Mr. Bradley's cover tunes was called Changes and was done originally in 1972 to an awful and dreary musically composed tune by BLACK SABBATH. Mr. Bradley takes CHANGES and makes it a totally new song.

Mr. Bradley has 3 albums that he released in this short period of being a professional bluesman. I'll give Mr. Bradley the honor of mentioning his loyalty to his excellent band. He kept the same band over the last 7 years, and that's something a lot of rising star singers and guitarists often don't do. 

They get more famous, more experienced musicians to play with them. I'd actually be surprised if his management and label had not at some point had a run made at them by any number of experienced musicians, wanting to start a band with Mr. Bradley singing. Old guys, guys that have been playing the blues for a living for as long as Mr. Bradley's band has been alive.

If that didn't happen, with regional stars or former semi-major blues musicians looking for that next great gig while he was alive, it certainly would've happened soon as his immense talent was being heard daily by so many others.


Mr. Bradley's story reminds me of my good friend CAROLYN WONDERLAND a  blues siren and songstress herself and of her persistence in the music business in Austin.

 A talented blues guitarist as well as trumpeter, I've been watching and waiting for the rest of the world to notice her intense talent since she was 15 and busing tables at the Monday Night Blues Jam at the now defunct Dan Electro's blues bar in Houston, Texas. 

That would be exactly 29 or 30 years ago. As the drummer for the house band on many of those nights for the last several years of my law school days, Carolyn would get up and sit in on a tune with the band. You knew one day she'd be noticed and be famous.

If memory serves, after one of her regular appearances at the Harley festival in Stugis, she was hired by and did a tour playing guitar with none other than Bob Dylan.

For a taste of Carolyn's music that you'll come back to at Christmastime, go to BLUE LIGHTS, song written by the man who taught me how to blues drum beginning in 1984, when I was first in one of his bands, the legendary Kenneth Blanchet, or "Little Screaming Kenny" as he's known. 

Screamin' thought my drumming was too busy., "too cymbally", he said. And he was right, it was. Way too busy. 

He complimented my rock sensibilities, and then handed me a stack of old blues albums and told me to take them home and tape them and bring them back and listen A LOT to them to learn how to play blues drums. Screaming taught me that less is more, many times musically speaking.

But that's the fellow who wrote Blue Lights, and I sure would have liked to have heard Mr. Bradley belt out that number.

You can find several albums of tunes out there from Mr. Bradley. Rest in Peace, sir. I will continue to listen to your legacy.



Friday, September 15, 2017

R.I.P. HARRY DEAN STANTON-YOUR MUSIC TOUCHED THE DIVINE

I stole part of the above title from a comment on a great Harry Dean performance of the classic Jim Reeves song "He'll Have to Go"  at his 80th birthday party.The audio is not so great on it.

But the audio is pretty dang good on a wide variety of other Harry Dean Stanton Band tunes available on youtube. My favorite is this version of LOVE POTION #9. Looks like some Hollywood studio pros backing him, especially the trumpet player. I'd love to know who he is, as his playing sounds very familiar. In any event, the trumpet solo starting at about 1:35 is just absolutely awesome.

That day that always comes for all of us arrived for Harry Dean Stanton. Living to 91 is a damn great thing, particularly when you remained active in your art until it was your time to go.

I wrote some eight years ago about Harry Dean and my great admiration for him HERE and told some of my stories about chasing him all over Hollywood. To keep up with Harry's gigs in those pre-internet days, friends would send me the gig pages from the Los Angeles Chronicle and I subscribed to a magazine called Music Connection for a number of years, which covered the music scene in general in LA.

Ah, Harry Dean, you brought so many of us so much pleasure with your acting and your  singing and your art. 

Although I am a musician, I'm not an actor, yet the fact that Harry Dean's acting career really didn't take off big time until he was 58 years old, after decades of character actor roles, gives me hope that I'll shoot off into the stratosphere SOON on my future ventures, since I'm nearing that age.

Harry Dean kept a low profile personal life. Off the top  of my head, I recall that at some point after moving to LA, he and Jack Nicholson roomed together for several years, in a remote house in one of the beautiful canyons and hills overlooking Hollywood. You can't tell me those guys didn't have some fun in that house!

He served our country in the U.S. Navy as a cook and was in the Battle of Okinawa. Do you think that experience was what drove Harry to acting? Even as a cook, men you've gotten to know disappeared and died. You saw the disfigured. Maybe that was what led him to leave his studies in Kentucky and head to Pasadena to study acting, as did other of his day that were WWII and Korean War vets.

Harry was 7 years older than my late mom and dad. He took a chance. A big chance. While my parents successfully pursued the American Dream, guys like Harry were still doing character parts.

When El Fisho Jr. was much younger, in elementary school, like his dad he developed an interest in U.S. military history. We watched Kelley's Heroes many many many many times, an extremely safe movie nowadays and hardly violent at all. Heavy on dialog. It captivated me as a child when it was on T.V. 

I made a point to indicate who Harry Dean was and tell him of some of my fascination with his acting and his music. Over the years, he's seen several movies and shows with Harry Dean, but he's not the fan I am. My wife is a big fan, but again, apart from a few good friends spread throughout The Great State of Texas and a few other places, there are few I've met that share my fascination with Harry Dean.

It is said Harry's passing was peaceful. I've been in that same hospital that he passed in many times for various medical testing.

I'll always remember seeing him play music. As great as his acting abilities, he always touched a subtle nerve in the music he played. Go to YouTube and do a search on his name. I've provided a few links about, and Love Potion #9 remains a big favorite. I'll get it going on the phone bluetoothing to the car stereo driving down the road and hitting repeat a few times. I really need to find out who that trumpet player was as I'd like to hear some more of his stuff.

I'll write some more soon about Harry Dean. He made the world a better place. He made me laugh and feel different feelings and his music levitated me to a joy that certain bands do. He has charisma in his musical delivery.

I'll close with one of my favorite clips from the movie Repo Man,
where Harry Dean is schooling his protege Emilio Estavez on the CODE OF THE REPO MAN It's so hard to believe this clip was from a movie that released 33 years ago. Man, it just seems like yesterday we rented that on VHS and cracked up. It was one of those outstanding movies of that time, along with Paris, Texas and Taxi Driver and so many great masterpieces.

Here's THE CODE from the CODE OF THE REPO MAN:

An ordinary person spends his life avoiding tense situations. A repo man spends his life getting into tense situations.

Bud: [doing speed with Otto] Never broke into a car, never hotwired a car. Never broke into a truck. 'I shall not cause harm to any vehicle nor the personal contents thereof, nor through inaction let the personal contents thereof come to harm' It's what I call the Repo Code, kid!
 Don't forget it--etch it in your brain. Not many people got a code to live by anymore.

To some, Repo Man might not be on the level of more dramatic movies. There is all kinds of stuff going on in Repo man, with Emilio stuck in a highly dysfunctional family and  as a former punk rocker, just looking for his place in life.

I hope your spirit is happy and free, Harry Dean.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

A REAL COLT DREAM THAT REALLY IS COMING TRUE!


YES MY FRIENDS, like the election of President-elect Donald J. Trump just two short months ago, EVERYTHING is coming up roses! 

As an aside, thank goodness for Kellyanne Conway. I'm glad she's staying on. Her statements over the past few days over the Meryl lecture and the pre-speech attempt to incriminate President-Elect Trump over what has of this writing shown to be a mess of baseless allegations and things that didn't happen, paid for by first the Republicans then then Democrats.

As for Kellyanne, I hope they find great schools for their kids but I also really hope her genius Supreme Court practice attorney of some renown is appointed Solicitor General. Heck, I've read his resume online, he's way qualified in Supreme Court Practice, if I read correctly, for almost 20 years now, and the perfect age, to be a Supreme. Why not? The man is highly qualified.

Most lawyers never get to practice before the Supreme Court. My late Father argued a landmark case before the Court over 40 years ago, and was awestruck by the experience, even being a big city lawyer used to jury trial and appellate arguments.

Mr. Conway, again this is from memory, has been practicing repeatedly before the Supremes since the late 90's, and likely in many other courts as well. But I get the idea SCOTUS is his specialty.

Also, I don't know what Kellyanne's role with the new POTUS will entail, but I sure hate to see her not be the public face in media representing him. At least in times of crisis, I'd prefer to see her repping Trump in tough situations and issues, with all due respect to his recently appointed, one resigned and appointed  PR crew and spokespersons.

But Hillary's defeat is not the only dream that's come true. I, and others I know,  recently had another dream come true...Colt is back in the Double Action revolver business. 

So to shift gears entirely, let's talk about a new Colt revolver. DA. Double Action.

Although for others in the gun industry who read about new products this is not likely real breaking news, but from the linked article about the NEW COLT COBRA PISTOL you can read that it's a fairly recent development. 

I sent Zach at the blog on the right side of your screen that link and he was impressed like me. Also like me, I think he harbors hopes of development of other DA revolvers if this introduction is successful.

Yahoo. We need Colt back in the double action revolver business. 

And Colt, if some web surfing employee or bot is on the web and comes across this, I've got a great business plan suggestion for you.
It's really simple and something you already do.

In addition to getting the Cobra out for sale  
for sale in the VErY near future, and to you need to INCREASE production of ALL of your single action revolvers. Immediately if not sooner. 

AND  as I write this, my shooting heart goes pitter patter like so many other satisfied Colt revolver shooters with the that Colt is HOPEFULLY developing some other great DA revolvers (HINT to COLT: BUILD SOME MORE PYTHON, DIAMONDBACK, LAWMAN and perhaps a .357 Detective Special!) That's all speculation and wishing on my part folks. Not anything I've heard. Just what I'd like to see.

As I said above, let's get those production facilities going 24/7 on the Single Action Colt revolvers. Both the Peacemaker and the New Frontier. 

Since your business issues, I've seen lots of very nice new Colt 1911's from entry level to Gold Cup at my local dealers. There has been a paucity, however, of .38 Super Guns other than the full size all steel Government model. Which, by the way, is a fantastic gun.

But getting back to increasing production for the single actions. Lots of folks I know spend, every few months, some bucks on a long distance or a black rifle in the SA Colt price range, or on high end 1911's from many brands that cost far more than the SA Colt revolvers. Lots of these guys, like me, would buy one on the spot, but I'm just not getting the chance.

Colt, you will sell every one you can make, as you already undoubtedly do since I have not seen a new Peacemaker for sale in at least 7 years in a gun store, let alone ever seeing a New Frontier for sale ever. Or for that matter, I've never seen a New Frontier other than on media and in print.  

Frankly, it's rare to see any Colt revolver be it single or double action, new or used on sale at any gun shop, but the single action Colts are a hard to find bunch for any kind of semi-reasonable prices (within the realm of what is actually reasonable for a Colt nowadays, not some skewed idea of what the price should be).

So yeah, it'd be great if I could snag a nice Peacemaker in ..44 Special or 45 Colt or even .357 or even something with harder to find and more expensive ammo like the .44-40 at MSRP or even a little less or a little more. But I'd prefer the first two over the latter.

Mostly, I'd just like to see A SINGLE new Colt Single Action.

In my gun shop travels, in terms of interesting guns that are not the same fare most gun shops have, I occasionally see Interterms era Walthers and Lugers, Browning Hi-Powers, various 1960's-1980's S&W revolvers, a stray H&K P7 or (rarely) a P9S. Even Mauser pistols! But rarely Colt revolvers.

I can almost count the number of Colt double action revolvers on two hands that I've seen in the last decade for sale. Of course, I bought several of them. But here's a list, with the most recent (and highly overpriced) siting listed last, to-wit:

All guns in excellent condition and Blued except where noted.

1. Anaconda 4" Nickel or Stainless?
2. Python 8"
3. Python 8" with extra 3" (California Special) Barrel, NIB
4. Three  Detective Specials, 3rd Generation, near 100%
5. Python 6"
6. Colt Cobra, 2nd Generation, near 100%
7. Colt Python, 2.5" barrel
8. Colt Python, 2.5" barrel, 85% finish
9. Colt .357 Magnum, 4" pre-model name, 85%
10. Colt Lawman, nickel, 2.5" barrel

So out of the hundreds of Lugers, HK's and other unusual guns I occasionally see in stores, I see about 1 Colt double action revolver a year.

Yes, I know there are stores, like a shop I'll not name in Houston that carries a lot of high end and hard to find firearms, where at some times there are a lot of recent single action Colts for sale. Some extremely fancy and highly expensive. But you will pay a premium price for a used gun there, and again, although I like to troll their website, I have not seen any new single action Colts for sale there in some years, although it's possible I've missed them as I don't troll it often.

And yes, I know Gunbroker and similar sites have Colts for sale, but I like to feel the gun if possible. My friend Zach found me a fantastic .223/20 gauge Savage Model 24 at a store near his house that had a nice webpage, and I bought it sight unseen and it's just a fabulous gun in excellent condition at a cheap price for that gun. Even came with a very nice scope that's dead on accurate. But before I spend larger dollars on a gun, I'd like to feel the action. It's all about the action in a revolver.

How about it, Colt?