I awaken every morning to the sound of soothing music triggered by Sonos. It's one of the great features of the whole house audio system. Then I open up the Sonos app and listen to a half hour of Morning Edition on WNYC while reading the New York Times on my iPad. But at 5:30 I switch to BBC Radio 2 to play Pop Master.
The long running radio game show hosted by Ken Bruce airs weekdays at 11:30am in the U.K. It's a great way to get my mind in gear and being a music freak I enjoy the challenge.
Actually I'm stumped quite a bit on the show. Mostly because many of the questions have to do with music that doesn't make a dent here in the United States. Still, I do fairly well, often times better than the call-in contestants.
You can actually play an online version of the game on the BBC website I linked to up top.
The other day someone asked me why I'd stopped listening to vinyl records. Anyone who follows me on social media, be it Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr knows that I post photos of records that are playing on my turntable. I can't say as I invented this concept but I started taking photos of album covers and posting them to a music message board back in 2006. This was before the smart phone so I would sit at my desk and use the computer camera and take a photo while holding up the album to cover my face. I even did this as a joke back in 2008 after I bought the new Coldplay album in Paris.
Back to the question though. The reason I haven't been posting vinyl session photos is because I don't listen to records much in the summer. That's an indoor pastime. I spend as much of my days and nights as possible outside. And my music listening experience is through Sonos and speakers on my gazebo.
While I was enjoying yet another gorgeous day in Cleveland along the shores of Lake Erie listening to Harvest, a local Neil Young cover band, a good friend of mine boasted about her upcoming trip to Toronto to see Van Morrison. I didn't know he was on tour, I told her.
So this morning I checked out his website for tour dates. It appears his live show schedule is as frustrating as Van the Man himself. Toward the end of the month he plays three shows in northern Ireland before traveling to Canada for three, which includes two in Toronto. That's where she's going to see him at the Sony Centre. And there's still tickets available for Sunday, September 20.
That's it for North America. Three concerts north of the border and then back to Europe for a handful of shows. Some of those dates in November look intriguing. They include intimate shows in Belfast and arena spectacles like the one in London at O2 where he shares the bill with Tom Jones. Now that is tempting.
Here's an odd one. Laibach, the Slovenian prog rock band, Just played a concert in North Korea, their first time in the communist country. The kicker is that they performed the songs from The Sound of Music. You know, "I am 16 going on 17" and "doe a deer a female deer".
I'm not too familiar with Laibach but a cursory look and listen to their Spotify page shows no plays higher than around half a million which shows that I'm not alone in my ignorance. They have a new album out this year called Spectre Deluxe. It's an interesting listen.
Jeanette Catsoulis is a film critic for The New York Times and NPR. She also loves rock and roll.
The Scottish journalist wrote an essay in yesterday's New York Times reminiscing about her first rock concert, The Beatles in Glasgow in 1964. It's a wonderfully written account of a girl coming of age in the rock and roll era and how her concert experiences have left an indelible mark.
In the end she contrasts those innocent and seemingly clandestine concerts to the present day rock show where everyone in attendance is documenting it in real time to the rest of the world. It reaffirms my belief that I was lucky enough to grow up in an amazing time.
It's no surprise that New York City, the largest city in the United States, should have more things to do. There's more people looking to be entertained. Simple supply and demand. But when you actually look at the offerings it's kind of an embarrassment of riches.
For example, I was looking at what bands one might be able to catch on a random night in NYC. Let's say it's tomorrow night, a Tuesday. I'm only going to highlight acts that would be fairly popular to some degree. Ready?
Just across the East River in Brooklyn the stoner rock band High On Fire are playing at Music Hall of Williamsburg. In Manhattan you could catch Rick Derringer at BB King's Blues Club or Cleveland's jazz great Joe Lovano at Birdland. There's also more jazz with Ron Carter at The Jazz Standard. How about Willie Nile at City Winery or Albert lee at Iridium Jazz Club. Two bands who played Cleveland separately earlier this year are on a double bill at Irving Plaza, Psychedelic Furs and The Church. While the summer outdoor concert series at Pier 97 features Counting Crows and Citizen Cope. Mac DeMarco's at Webster Hall and if you really need a reggae fix you can head out of the city to the Westchester County Center to catch Maxi Priest and Shaggy.
Phew, that's a lot of choices. And, mind you, that's just a Tuesday night in the big city. It'd be easy to become jaded by this plethora of musical riches and for someone like me would lead too much frustration over who to see on any given night. And, really, would I ever get a break?