Saturday, September 23, 2006

Whiskey's week in review

Scenes from a bike ride
Scenes from my bike rides during the past week...
Justin has railroad tracks, too...

Sign of the times in north Texas:
horses grazing near the backyards of cookie-cutter houses

southbound freight at Lake Wanda - Sept. 20, 2006

What the hell is wrong with people?

A few days ago, I was sitting in line at my son's school to pick him up when class let out, and I noticed that most of the other parents in line in front of and behind me had their windows rolled up, engines running (and presumably) with the air conditioning on. This was on some of the nicest days we've had this year -- I'm talking full sun, mid- to upper 70s, light breeze... just absolutely gorgeous weather. And these people were sitting there in their minivans and SUV's with their windows rolled up for as much as 15 minutes... are people that oblivious to nice weather? North Texas isn't exactly the worst place in the world to live... we have our share of nice weather days in the spring and fall -- and sometimes in the winter. But having some beautiful days like this just a few weeks after the unbearable heat we suffered in August is a real blessing ... and I'd think people would appreciate them more. To me, failing to appreciate the beautiful days we have is like drowning a mouth-watering prime rib in A-1 sauce, or going to Hawaii and then spending your whole vacation in your hotel room. Why don't more people appreciate a good thing when they see it, and enjoy it for what it is? You tell me, and we'll both know.

From Redneck Mother to Snake Farm

I've been a fan of Ray Wylie Hubbard's work since before I was old enough to even know who he was. I remember living in Temple in the late '70s and hearing my dad play "Redneck Mother" (which Hubbard wrote) performed by Jerry Jeff Walker. More than 20 years later, when my interest in Texas music was rekindled, I discovered some of Hubbard's more recent work. I was attracted to songs like "Conversation with the Devil" (from the "Crusades of the Restless Knights" album) and "Bones" (from "Growl").

Two friends joined me last summer for a trip down to Waxahachie to see him perform a solo acoustic show at the Texas Theater, one of the best and most memorable performances by any of the "Texas" artists I've seen. An obvious highlight was hearing him play "Redneck Mother" near the end of his set... it sure brought back some memories.

I recently picked up a copy of "Snake Farm", Hubbard's latest cd.

I wouldn't say it is necessarily his strongest material, but there are some real gems, including the title track. Hubbard's skills as a lyricist and poet really shine with lines like:

"Ramona's got a keen sense of humor

She's got a tattoo down her arm

It's of a python, eatin' a little mouse

Wearin' a sailor hat that says 'Snake Farm'"

In Waxahachie, Hubbard had the audience doing a sing-a-long with the chorus to that song, which -- over a year ago -- none of us had heard yet.

"Snake Farm, it just sounds nasty

Snake Farm, it pretty much is

Snake Farm, it's a reptile house

Snake Farm, (exaggerated shudder)"

"Snake Farm" may well be worth purchasing on the strength of the title song alone. But there are some other gems that stand out, like the growling "Kilowatt" (with a great, grinding guitar riff that has me thinking of Ray Wylie as the Trent Reznor of the Americana music scene. It's not as big a stretch as you might think...) and a new version of "Resurrection", one of his older songs, played at a slower tempo.

My favorite release of Hubbard's is probably "Delirium Tremolos", which is the one before "Snake Farm". "Delirium" contains some of my all-time favorite Hubbard studio tracks, including songs co-written or co-performed with other artists ("Dallas After Midnight" with Jack Ingram, "Cooler than Hell" with Cody Canada of Cross Canadian Ragweed). Then again, EVERY Hubbard album contains a few of my favorite Hubbard tracks... sounds like it's time to assemble another home-burn compilation... Whiskey's Essential Ray Wylie Hubbard. I'll post the track list when it's finished.

Whiskey's World Series of Pop Culture

Congrats to "Bayou", who once again turned in a correct answer, this time to question # 3: Name the comedian / actor who played the character "Stickpin Quinn" on the 1980s MTV game show "Remote Control".

Bayou's answer, good enough to qualify as correct, was "Either Sandler or Leary...I cant remember without looking it up. "

Yep, it was Adam Sandler, and if memory serves, his appearances on "Remote Control" were the first time I ever saw him on tv. This was before he appeared on SNL or released any of his comedy albums.

So do you remember "Remote Control"? I believe it was the first game show to appear on MTV. Hosted by Ken Ober, the show featured three contestants answering pop-culture-themed trivia questions, two rounds each, followed by a bonus round in which the winning contestant tried to identify nine music videos in 60 seconds to win a grand prize. Wikipedia offers a pretty good summary of the show here...

I'd sure like to get my hands on a dvd of some of those old shows -- probably the best thing going on MTV at the time... well, besides their weekly Sunday night broadcasts of BBC's "The Young Ones"...

No new trivia question today... tune in next time and maybe I'll have a new one.


nr: Jack Kerouac - On the Road

np: MTV - "Room Raiders"


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