Category Archives: Music

My Friend Mark

I guess the universe was trying to tell me something.

Yesterday I was trying to find something to watch. Lately, heck not so lately, how about for the last year, I haven’t watched many new things. I’ve been going back to old tv series, shows where I find the characters comfortable and like old friends, so I’ve binged watched so many things I was running out of stuff to see. I decided on a documentary on Steven Spielberg, mainly because I couldn’t figure out anything else and I wanted to watch something while I ate my dinner.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T.; these were movies that made me think of my friend Mark. I’ve talked about Mark recently passing from COVID, but I’ve put off thinking too much about him. Mark was one of my oldest and probably one of my best friends. We hadn’t really talked a lot in more than a few years. We used to live next door to each other. I moved, he moved, he got married, I moved again. Life happens and sometimes it’s hard to stay as connected. But for twenty years at least Mark was huge part of my life.

I remember seeing these movies with Mark. I can still remember coming out of the theater after ET, it was a cool evening, I remember, and how excited we were after seeing the movie. We ended up at Shoney’s afterwards, that was our end of the night place to go, pig out at the breakfast bar and recount what we had just seen.

In those days, and for the next twenty years, it was me, Mark and Sal. Others came and went with the group, but there was always the three of us. We were always together. Years later when I went to Atlanta and saw old friends Jason and Claire and their son, who I hadn’t seen since he was probably a year old and now he was 17, he said to me that he felt like he knew me, that it was always “Sal, Mark and John” whenever his parents talked about us.

Movies were such a part of our lives than. Every weekend we’d go see at least one, sometimes more, and than discuss to death. If we didn’t go to the movies we would rent movies. This was the days of Blockbuster, we’d go rent a couple movies, go over one of our houses, mostly it was Marks, and order a pizza and spend the night eating and watching movies.

I remember one night, I think at Mark’s parents house, we spend the night playing toss across. It was the three of us and Jason. I mean we spent hours playing this game, throwing those bean bags at that huge board.

Every movie that was discussed in the documentary made me think of watching it with Mark and Sal. Then last night I went to bed and dreamed. Of course the dream was of Mark and Sal. I rarely, almost never, remember my dreams. I wake up and it’s a wisp of smoke, my dream vanishes into the ether. But this one I remember, it didn’t make a lot of sense, but then dreams don’t always. I remember though Mark and Sal were in it.

And finally coming home today, after work, I plug my phone into the car and turn on my music. What comes on, but Foghat. Fool for the City. The first real concert I ever attended was, of course, with Mark and Sal, at the Warehouse in downtown New Orleans and was Foghat.

The universe is trying to make me remember my friend. Like I could ever forget him. We spent too much time together. He meant too much to me.

We’d take vacations together. We traveled to DC together. We took a train to Montreal. We traveled Florida from Jacksonville to Key West back up again. In Florida, after leaving Disney, Mark was driving, he turned on the highway and right after getting on the road we realized we were on the wrong side, it was one of those divided highways and we hadn’t realized it. Mark pulled over right away, we were about to turn onto the right side, when on the hill ahead of us some guy in a truck stopped, why I don’t know, we weren’t coming towards him anymore. But another guy on a motorcycle came over the hill behind him, didn’t see the truck in time and ran into the back of it. Luckily no one got hurt, but Mark ended up getting a ticket because technically he was in the wrong. But if that other guy hadn’t stopped, nothing would have happened.

Or the goats attacking Mark in Bush Gardens. It was a huge petting type zoo. Mark opened the feed for the goats while walking among them and within minutes they were all over him.

I could go on and on with the stories. It’s hard to believe he’s gone and I won’t ever talk to him again. I hadn’t talked to him in a long time, but part of me always assumed that I would one day. There was no way I wasn’t going to talk to him again. It was Mark, one day we’d sit down and talk about movies, or music or something.

Mark was my friend and I miss him.

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Voices to hear: Theresa Andersson


Another Simply Six interview with Theresa Andersson.  I love her music and her shows are always very entertaining.

1. For many artists, they cite a defining moment for themselves when they knew they wanted to be a singer. For many it was the appearance of Elvis on the Ed Sullivan show, to another generation it was the Beatles’ appearance on Sullivan half a decade later. Is there such a defining moment for you?

I think I’ve always known that I wanted music to play a major role in my life. At the age of 7 one of my friends entered a talent contest and I felt deeply jealous because I didn’t know about it and had to wait another year to sign up.

2. When you’re not creating music what are you listening to? Who are some of your favorites?

Nina Simone, Duke Ellington, Air, Aphex Twins and Wildbirds and Peacedrums at the moment.

3. What would you say is your greatest moment so far as an artist, either on record or live?

My most recent record “Hummingbird, Go!” really feels like an artistic arrival for me.

4. Do you believe music can change the world or is just something to listen to? How much can music influence current events?

Well I think music can have a theraputic and inspiring quality. We all listen to music in a different way, so I can only speak for myself. I cannot imagine a world without music. I do like movies that are quiet though ( must be my Strindberg influence).
I once bought an iPod because of the song in the commercial…..

5. How has technology affected the music industry? How has technology affected your career as a musician?

If by technology you mean the Internet I say it’s been fantastic! Sites such as YouTube makes it possible for the independent artist to showcase her stuff without first bring judged by a small panel. It let’s the people decide. And THAT is a beautiful thing.

6. Now for my Barbara Walters question: If you were a pair of shoes what type of shoes would you be?

A comfortable yet stylish shoe made out of high quality leather. I would be made for walking. I would be hugging the foot of my bearer and supporting her weight putting a spring in her step.
My color would be chocolate.


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Voices to hear: Interview with Brian Stoltz


brian stotlz

This interview originally ran on the site Voices to hear.
Brian Stoltz is a singer/songerwriter from New Orleans. He has worked with such artists as Bob Dyaln, Neville Brothers, Dr. John, the Meters and Aaron Neville. He has released three solo albums on his own.

1) For many artists, they cite a defining moment for themselves when they knew they wanted to be a singer. For many it was the appearance of Elvis on the Ed Sullivan show, to another generation it was The Beatles’ appearance on Sullivan half a decade later. Is there such a defining moment for you?

It was 1963. I was eight years old when I first heard The Beatles sing “She Loves You” on WTIX-AM in New Orleans. I was launched into a transcendent, joyous state. I had entered a whole new paradigm. The world made more sense. Around the same time, the radio was also playing “I Want To Hold Your Hand”. That’s when music changed for me. Until then the radio was just something in the background. I listened to my mother’s records like the “Sheik Of Arabi” and some old Fats Domino records. I was attracted to music – interested in hearing new sounds – but hearing The Beatles for the first time was a powerful, emotional experience. By the time they appeared on Ed Sullivan’s Sunday night television show I was, in my mind, a musician. There was never a time in my life when I thought otherwise. Providence just handed it to me.
In September 1964, The Beatles came to New Orleans to play City Park Stadium. I begged my mother to take me, but she would have none of it. Looking back, she was probably in fear of getting crushed by the manic crowd, but being refused, I was very upset. Things calmed down when on the day of the show she came home from work with a copy of “Meet The Beatles” for me. I was ecstatic! This was my initiation into the art of album-listening. I was nine years old telling people that I was going to be a musician like The Beatles. They would laugh and say, “You are? What instrument do you play?” They would laugh even harder when I told them, “I don’t play anything – but I will”.
There have been many defining moments like when I first heard Hendrix – and when I got Dylan for the first time. But hearing The Beatles on the radio for the first time is the all time defining moment.

2)When you are not creating music what are you listening to? Who are some of your favorites?

Currently, I am listening to a few new things – The Raconteurs CD, “Consolers Of The Lonely”, Radiohead’s “Rainbows” and probably my favorite new release, Drive By Truckers’, “Brighter Than Creation’s Dark”. I saw them on one of the late night shows. They did a song called “Two Daughters And A Beautiful Wife” – one of the most beautiful songs that I’ve heard in a long time. I bought the record and found that there are a lot of good songs on there. I am also listening to the latest Neil Young record, “Chrome Dreams 2”, a Chris Whitley “Anthology 1991 – 2001” and a Curtis Mayfield & The Impressions “Anthology 1961-1977”. I am still listening to Tom Waits’ “Orphans” and his “Real Gone” albums.
There are a lot of records that have held up over the years that I keep in rotation like the entire Dylan catalog, most of the Hendrix releases, including many bootlegs that I have, the Beatles catalog and an assortment of old local records like “Best of Lee Dorsey”, Earl King (The Imperial Years), Dr. John’s “Desitively Bonnaroo” and assorted Allen Toussaint.

3)What would you say is your greatest moment so far as an artist, either on record or live?

There have been so many great moments like finding myself on The Rolling Stones’ “Tattoo You” tour with The Neville Brothers, after being out of work for six months recovering from carpel tunnel surgery. Another tour that I hold fond memories of was the first Amnesty International “Conspiracy Of Hope” tour. We were on the road with U2, Peter Gabriel, Lou Reed, The Police and a host of luminaries, raising awareness of the plight of political prisoners around the world.
But the memories that remain the clearest are of being in the studio with Bob Dylan, working on his “Oh Mercy” album (1989). The producer, Dan Lanois, set up the recording gear in an old house in uptown New Orleans. This was a quiet, but intense time. I was open to taking in as much as possible from the situation. Having the opportunity to watch Bob work was a real education and inspiration for me. There was no pomp or real pressure to perform – just a few guys sitting around in a tight circle playing real music. These more quiet moments are burned into my memory with more intensity than any of the hoopla that accompanies big tours.

4)Do you believe music can change the world or is just something to listen to? How can music influence current events?

Everything affects every thing. I don’t feel that music by itself can change much, but the ideas in songs can make a difference. The thoughts we have and the things we say can make a difference. Every thing affects everything. We are living in an age where it is important for us to explore the things we have in common – the things that link us as human. It is time to forgive shortcomings and differences and face life in a fearless manner. Music can influence current events when artists speak fearlessly – and we are living in a time where we just can’t fake it. Songs can inspire individuals to change, but it is individuals who must bring about change.

5)How has technology affected the music industry? How has technology affected your career as a musician?

Technology has certainly changed things – some for the better, some for the worse. I have mixed feelings about it all since I am a bit challenged in the technical department. I am still trying to master e-mail. But on the upside I think it is great that, with good quality recording gear becoming more affordable, songwriters and musicians can pull up a drum loop and instantly have a foundation to create over – or that they can lay down that 3 o’clock in the morning idea in an instant. In this regard, it saves time and money. Digital editing has also given us some time-saving features when you compare it to the old days when tape was spliced with a razor blade. But the question is “does all this technology really save us time in the long run?” No, because we now have too many options – and it is within boundaries and limitation that creativity occurs. Having so many options has watered down the creative process. There is a lot of the same crap out there.
There was a time when an artist had to perform because a mic was placed before him and his performance was simply captured. The engineer used his ear to find the sweet spot and then placed his mic. It was about capturing sounds in a way that did not require much manipulation after the fact. Of course there are still many artists and engineers who record this way in the digital world, but it seems to me that as the technological bar gets raised it takes more of an effort to make things sound good because of the range of options.
My recording engineer George Cureau and I recently experienced this when George installed Pro Tools in his studio. We were already recording with an automated digital console and a 24 track HD recorder. This system is functionally old school. It allows us to record in an analog fashion, but with the time saving feature of not having to rewind tape. The console has good EQ’s in it so he can tweak sounds fast. When we transfered songs to Pro Tools to mix we discovered that the overall sound was wider and more expanded, but with no punch – and it lacked depth. It takes more plug-ins to get the same effect that we used to get with a quick adjustment on the board. So in this regard it is not faster.
I find some of the music recorded today unlistenable. My ears get fatigued listening to some CD’s. A lot of new releases are just mastered too hot. Some CD’s, even at a moderate listening level, hurt to the point that I have to turn it off. I can rarely get through a whole CD. When I listen to older records on vinyl or on cassette, the music even at a loud level, just washes over me. It is easy to be absorbed by the music. When I listen to some CD’s I feel like I am being attacked and I have to listen at a lower level. Neil Young summed it up nicely when he said that “Digital could be weaponized.” The albums that I own on CD do not sound as musical as those same records I have on vinyl or cassette. And now we listen to mp3’s which sounds smaller to me than any of those other formats. So, it’s not really getting better in quality. And people don’t care. I recently read a story about a record that Trent Reznor did. Inspired by Radiohead’s decision to let fans pay what they want for the record, Trent decided to give away a lo-fi mp3 version of the music, and I believe charge full price for the good quality, full CD version. A lot of the freebies got downloaded, but he did not sell many quality versions. Sadly, I don’t think many people know the difference anymore.
In the download age, the CD stores have become extinct. I guess this is good for the environment, but I like to hold the record (or CD) in my hand. I like to read the credits. What about the artwork and the lyrics on the inside? Sure you can download that too, but it seems that people have lost interest in that, or they don’t have time for it any more. And we are back to the days of the single. A lot of people just buy the song they want to hear as opposed to the whole album. This could be good as it forces artists to be more discriminative and write better songs, but what about the album-oriented artist who’s in-between songs are just as important as the hits that stand out?
Also, recording analog on magnetic tape allows more mystery and magic to occur. Digital recording is cleaner, but there is such a thing as too clean. That’s why they have tape saturation plug-ins to dirty things up to sound like tape. It doesn’t really, and the whole concept doesn’t make much sense to me. With things so clean, it’s harder to get sounds to mesh. The colors do not blend like they used to. The lines are too clear-cut. Not just in the music world either. Video doesn’t look better than film. Digital photos do not look better than film. When you look at concert footage shot today, it has no mystery to it. Old performances shot on film have a mystique and magical quality that lacks in today’s digital world. But like everything else in our consumer-driven age, we are slaves to the drive to produce, with little regard for what lies in essence or for the future.

6)Now for my Barbara Walters question: If you were a pair of shoes what type of shoes would you be?

Well, if I had to be shoes, I’d like to be a pair of Prada boots (which I happen to own). They are not for everybody. Some may find them pretentious, but fact is, they are very comfortable, the older they get the better they look and they are very well made and will last me the rest of my life. A true classic!

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Voices to hear: The Interview Book

vth final version

This is the cover to the before mentioned interview book reprinting some of the Simply Six interviews.  Hopefully to be published shortly.

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Voices to hear


In 2007 I created a music site called Voices to hear.  The main purpose of the site was to talk about music that you didn’t hear on the radio or see written up in the music magazines.  I wanted to talk about come of my favorite artists and find others that someone else might like.  To be honest most of the writing was press releases and other pr writings from musicians.  I did some reviews and some features.  My favorite was a interview segment called “Simply Six”.  It featured the same six questions I gave to the artist.  I thought this was simple that it wouldn’t take a lot of time from the artist and they would be able to get it done easily.  Also I liked seeing the different answers from the different artists.  Some gave simple few word answers, others took pages to answer the questions.  I ended up doing hundreds of these interviews.  I’m collecting around a hundred of them in a book version that I should be publishing soon and hopefully I’ll follow up with a second volume after that.

The purpose of this post is that for the foreseeable future I’m putting the site on hiatus.  I have done a terrible job of updating it over the last year or so.  As I get back more into my comic book writing I find myself with little or no time to give to the music site.  I don’t want to say it’s dead, I’d love to go back to it one day, but for now it’s resting.

Well, not completely.  Whenever I want to talk about some music, review a new cd or concert, or maybe even get someone to answer a new Simply Six, I’ll be posting on this site, under the Voices to hear banner.  This way I can try to keep it going in some small fashion.

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If you bought tickets through Tickemaster in roughly the last decade you might have some free tickets coming to you.  Due to a lawsuit they are offering people that bought tickets from 2013 and back about ten years free tickets or discounts, I would imagine based on how many tickets you bought within that time frame.  To see if you have any tickets coming to you go check out the Ticketmaster site.  I did and discovered I have 17 free tickets coming to me and about that many more with discounts.  (And the free tickets actually are two tickets.)  I went to a lot of shows during that period.  The only down side so far is that they aren’t listing any of the shows that you can redeem your free tickets towards yet.  I’m hoping that they are halfway decent shows and not something I will have no desire to go see.  More on this as it develops.

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Shannon McNally

And to show that this site is going to be an all encompassing one (and the last one for the night) I present one of my favorite singers and writers/performers in the world.  She’s from New York originally, but lived in New Orleans for many years and I used to see her live in concert many a time.  After Katrina she moved to Holly Springs, Mississippi so my chance to see her has greatly diminished, but I still love her music.

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Raspberry Beret

I’ve always liked Prince but I’m not going to claim that I was one of his biggest fans or that he was one of my favorite performers.  “Purple Rain” and “When Doves Cry” are two of my favorite songs and there are plenty more that I really liked.  Actually one of my favorite songs from Prince was “Raspberry Beret.”  It was sort of a departure coming off his Purple Rain album, but to my there was a simplicity to that song I really loved.  Later Hindu Love Gods (Warren Zevon with REM minus Michael Stipe) did a cover of it that was really good.

I’ve always admired Prince’s devotion to his art.  His struggle against his record label and his subsequent career on his own.  Prince was willing to do more than talk about the problems in the recording industry.  He fought the fight and made music on his terms.

I’m saddened to hear the news of his passing.

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Voices to hear


Many, many years ago I managed a music site called Voices to hear.  I say managed because a lot of the writing came from different pr companies that gave me material to run about their clients.  There was no conflict here because the site was designed to publicize  and highlight music and creators that most times you don’t see in the magazines and on the other bigger sites.  Nothing against the bigger guys, I love me some Springsteen, U2 and others, but there is a lot of good and great music being created and performed every night of the week that goes unnoticed by so many.  Thus the site was born.

One of my favorite features on the site was a feature I called Simply Six.  It was a short interview segment with six questions (hence the title, I knew I couldn’t get anything past any of you).  It was the same six questions that I put to the musicians.  Some replied with short answers and others wrote quite a lot of words in their answer.  Irregardless of the size of their reply I loved these interviews.  It was such a look into their minds and thoughts and was fascinating to compare with each other.

Since I’ve put the site on hiatus (never officially but it kind of crept into that state over time) I’ve tried to bring it back a couple times.  I’d slap a post on it and tell myself that was just the start of a rebirth.  And you know what happened, right?  It was months, if not a year before the next post.  So the site sat there, untouched pretty much.

Until now.  I’m hoping that this time I follow through with my promise and pick up where I left off and continue reporting on the best music you’ve never heard.  It’s  a worthwhile effort.

I’ve made a few changes.  The old site had grown so complicated.  My sidebar ran a mile down the screen it seemed.  If there was a widget or gadget that could be added I added it.  I wanted everything on it.  I’ve pretty much stripped it down to as basic as I can make it.   Sort of like this site.  When I started it I thought about the look I wanted and decided to go as minimal as possible.  That’s what I decided with the music site too.  I took the color background and made it white.  I dumped the majority of the sidebar, leaving only a few widgets there.  The focus on the site now is just the posts.  Writing about the music.  That should be enough.

I’ve started a new feature on the site: Music to Listen to.  This is going to be written by me and pretty much is going to be a review column.  It’s not going to be anything fancy or too sophisticated.   I only now what I like and will tell you why I like it.   One difference in this column than a lot is that it’s not going to just be whatever is current.  In today’s world you can find an old album as easily as you can the one that just came out yesterday.  This column is going to talk about what I’m listening to and what I’m enjoying, be it new stuff or something created fifty years ago.  I’ll try to provide a link to everything I talk about, so you have a chance to give it a try.  With the wide resources of the web today almost nothing is impossible to find.

Please take a few minutes to hop over there and give it read.  I would greatly appreciate it.  Leave a comment here or there.  If I know people are reading it that will definitely help in my desire to continue it.  Click here.


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ts19892 ra1989

I talked about this on my Facebook page.

I’m a fan of Taylor Swift.  I know I’m not her intended audience, but I’m a fan of a well crafted song and she crafts her music very well.

Now Ryan Adams is another matter.  I’m a big fan of his work.  I’ve followed his music since the days of Whiskeytown.  I would pretty much buy anything he puts out and so far I think I have.

Ryan Adams decided to re-do Taylor Swift’s latest album 1989 in what I think I read in one interview as if the Smiths were recording it.  He talked about how he first tried a couple songs on the same type of recording device that Bruce Springsteen used to record Nebraska on.  (Which I think has lead a lot of people commenting that Ryan re-did the album in the style of Springsteen’s Nebraska).   While Taylor’s album is a bright, mostly cheerful pop album (and nothing wrong with that and very enjoyable as such) Ryan’s take on the songs give them a different, more somber meaning.  His version of Shake It Off has become one of my favorites.

It’s really amazing listening to the two albums after I combined them on a playlist with Taylor’s song first followed by Ryan’s version and than burned it all to a CD.  This has become my listening material in the car for the  last few days.


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