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Category Archives: music

A Gem of a Band

Last Saturday my husband Steven had an early shift at work. When I mentioned to him a jazz band would be playing at Gems Along the Mohawk and it was free, our plans were made.

Gems Along the Mohawk is located at 800 Mohawk St. in Herkimer, NY. It boasts retail shops, a fancy restaurant (The Waterfront Grille) and Erie Canal cruises. Most recently they added a pavilion. This is where the band, Blues Maneuver, was playing.

We started to hear the band as we walked to the far side of the building, and we were immediately glad we came. They play a mix of music, including jazz, swing, Motown and Cajun (at least, I think it’s called Cajun; I recognized one of the songs from the soundtrack of The Big Easy, a movie that takes place in New Orleans) (yes, showing my musical ignorance; really I’m quite disgraceful).

The band is such fun to watch, because the members are so obviously enjoying what they do. The pavilion area is not too large; we were able to sit fairly close. We luckily found a tiny bit of shade. It was quite a sunny day.

Another improvement on Gems Along the Mohawk was renovations in a second building, located next to the shops and restaurant. We’ve noticed that building before, looking rather disreputable. Now it is in beautiful shape.

When the sunlight started to get to me too much, we went inside and looked at the retail shops. The sign says “Retail Shops,” but it is really one big room with a lot of little areas, representing many local and area attractions. I found some postcards of the Lil Diamond Cruises. Must go on one of those soon.

After that we were a little peckish so went into The Waterfront Grille for a snack. Sitting at the bar we could still hear the band, although we couldn’t see them any more. I made a note of their name and when we got home immediately Liked them on Facebook.

The Blues Maneuver Band (that’s how they’re listed on Facebook) also have a website, http://www.bluesmaneuverband.com/. I hope to hear them play again soon.

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I’ll Say the Lights Went Out

I have always been cursed with the habit of listening to the lyrics of popular songs, at least when you can understand them. I think I’m going to instate a new feature where I talk about some of the more egregious ones. I will begin with the granddaddy of all stupid lyrics, “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia.”

I will begin with the premise that the reader knows the lyrics. After all, this was one of the great hairbrush songs of the ’70s (you know, where you used a hairbrush as a microphone and sang along with the 45?). So if you don’t know the song, you might like to go listen to it, then read the rest of this.

From beginning to end, the song is ridiculous. First stanza, the guy’s been gone for two weeks and stops for a drink before going home to his wife. What kind of a marriage is that? His wife shouldn’t have cheated on him; she should have dumped his sorry ass!

His friend Andy, for reasons best known to himself, tells him his wife isn’t at home and has been seeing “that Amos boy, Sid.” Then when the guy sees red, Andy confesses he’s been with the wife himself. Excuse me, what? Why would you tell this to a man that is already seeing red? What kind of a death wish does this Andy have, anyways? Nobody is really surprised when, a few lines later, we learn that Andy doesn’t have many friends.

One thing I was never clear on: Was the wife seeing both Andy and Sid Amos or was Andy throwing an innocent man into the line of fire? If they would have made a movie of this this song (I’m a little surprised they didn’t), Sid would have had a pathetically small part.

With only a passing thought to his missing wife (“must’ve left town”), the brother goes off with murder on his mind. I believe this is the first time the singer mentions that it’s her brother. And in the first indication of how dysfunctional the family is, we learn that the only thing his father left him was a gun. Well, maybe Papa was poor. I guess he’s dead and we needn’t concern ourselves with him, but I must say he certainly didn’t raise his kids right.

Off through the woods to kill Andy, Brother sees somebody else’s tracks (only now do I wonder how he could see them in the woods with the lights out) (really, this song is the gift that keeps on giving).

Where to begin with the next event? He’s going to kill Andy, finds out Andy is already dead. Instead of saying, “Saves me the trouble” and quietly going home and getting on match.com, he calls the police. And not by picking up a phone and dialing 911 or even saying, “Operator, get me the police!” (it was the ’70s, after all) (yeah, that match.com line was an anachronism): he fires his gun. The mind boggles. How did he even find his way home from Candletown when he clearly does not have the brains he was born with.

My sisters and I speculated that the judge was riding around in the car with the sheriff, because the “make-believe trial” happened so fast. I imagine the lack of ballistics report and investigation of clues such as the small footprints saved a lot of time.

They must have strung him up pretty fast, though, to not give his little sister time to pipe up and say she done it. Kind of a disingenuous argument after all: “I didn’t have TIME to save my brother and get hung myself!” Fast as she was about shooting everybody else, I find that a little hard to believe.

Another big question I have is: how come she hid the wife’s body were it’ll “never be found” but left Andy lying “in a puddle of blood” for all to see? And come to think about it, who shoots somebody for cheating on their brother? Did I mention dysfunctional family earlier? I guess so!

And can I just say, getting cheated on is grounds for DIVORCE! And when your best friend is sleeping with your wife you FIND A NEW BEST FRIEND! And when your brother faces these problems, what a little sister should offer is a shoulder to cry on and the name of a good divorce lawyer.

I’m sure there are many good songs about cheating wives and bad friends that do not involve murder. They probably won’t make such fun blog posts, though.

Friday Comments About Monday

Well, here it is Lame Post Friday and once again, I got nothing. And not plenty o’ nuthin’, like in that song in Porgy and Bess. But I do have a comment about another song that I was thinking about earlier in the week.

I don’t know who sings it or what the real name of the song is, but it starts, “Monday, Monday,” and goes on to some words I can’t understand very well so don’t remember. The gist of it is Monday is no good to the guy singing because, “Monday morning couldn’t guarantee/ That Monday evening you would still/ Be here with me.” My apologies if I misquote. I haven’t actually heard the song in a while, but it was playing in my head all day one day.

And it was really annoying me! Come on, guy, better to have loved and lost! Who spends a relationship saying, “Oh, I hope we don’t break up before nightfall!” I suppose some do, but then the singer goes on to say, “Every other day (every other day, every other day) of the week is fine, yeah!” What? Tuesday et al. can guarantee that the girl will still be there in the evening? What kind of chick is this that only breaks up on a Monday?

I suppose somebody will argue that Monday is the most stressful day of the week, at least for Monday through Friday workers. If you’re going to have a messy break up, it might as well be on a Monday (oh, I know, nowhere in the song does he say it will be messy; I’m just extrapolating). Maybe there is something special on Monday, or even this particular Monday, that I don’t know because I never listened to all the words in the song (which is unusual for me). Just get through Monday! Then we’ll be together forever! After all, who am I to judge other people’s relationships?

I think it is more likely that someone will argue, “Lighten up, Cindy, it’s JUST a SONG!”

And Friday is just a day. And now that I’ve made my Lame Post, I’m going to go enjoy what’s left of it.

A Short Post about a Band

Saturday night Steven and I finally got to hear a local band we’ve been interested in since we became friends with one of the members: The Rick Short Band.

Our friend is Rick DeJohn, the bass player. He’s a member of Ilion Little Theatre Club (ILT). He’ll be doing sound for Dirty Work at the Crossroads this spring (preview of coming attractions).

Saturday the Rick Short Band was playing for Animal Jam, a fundraiser for the Steven Swan Humane Society. Well, we are all about helping the animals, so this was a win/win situation. We made immediate plans to attend and were delighted to be joined by four other members of ILT.

We loved the band! They rock! I regretted that there was no dance floor, because I would have liked to boogey down. I was at first reminded of how old I am, because it seemed a little loud to me. Then I remembered that I’ve always been a little sensitive to loud music, even in my younger and yet more foolish days. This a minor quibble, though, because rock music is supposed to be loud.

The band plays original music, and it’s not easy to describe music (I mean, how many times can you say, “They rock!”). However, if you go to the Facebook page for The Rick Short Band, you will find links to ReverbNation and you can listen for yourself.

The other members of the band are Tanya Davis, lead vocals; Eddie Reilly, drums; Doug Boehlert, lead guitar; Tracy Bowens, backing vocals; and Rick Short, guitar. I hope to have an opportunity to hear them again soon. Hope to see you there!

Christmas Carol Commentary

Today I attempt to follow my own advice from yesterday and skip the futzing. I have had no Mohawk Valley adventures since yesterday, so I will attempt some seasonal commentary.

The other day I posted a Facebook status that got some good attention. I share it again, with apologies to any readers who are also Facebook friends: So if I know Dasher and Dancer and all them, why would I NOT recall the most famous reindeer of all?

That has bothered me ever since it occurred to me. Now I’ve been looking for other examples of silly lyrics in Christmas songs.

One of my least favorite songs is “All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth” (although I love the cover of it by The Count of Sesame Street). “Been so long since I could say/ Sister Susie sitting on a thistle.” (Have I mentioned that before? Note to self: look at last December’s posts before I publish this.)

Has anybody ever in their life said that sentence at all, let alone felt sad that they hadn’t said it in a long time? Can I just say, if you have a sister of whatever name who is in the habit of sitting on thistles and that forms a large part of your conversation, with or without teeth, I would advise you to get out more (that’s not a run-on sentence).

(Note written later: I looked at my last December’s posts but did not read through them all. I think I’m good).

And another thing: why didn’t anybody offer to walk Grandma home? Or maybe go fetch her medication for her? Maybe they were all drinking too much eggnog, but that reminds me, should she have been mixing her medication with eggnog? A good question for Grandma’s pharmacist.

Oh, and before anyone gets snarky about it, obviously the eggnog was spiked, by implication if not by actual booze.

That’s all I’ve come up with so far. I intend to continue listening to Christmas music, however, so I will report further as developments warrant. Maybe on Lame Post Friday.

Books and Music on a Saturday

I was on Facebook this morning (hey, it’s my day off!) and I saw a post from Basloe Library in Herkimer reminding us that Guitar Group meets today. Come hear some acoustic guitar music, they invited. I love acoustic guitars! I asked what time. 11 a.m.to 2 p.m.

I had wanted to go look for some books of plays, seeking something to replace Dirty Work at the Crossroads for Ilion Little Theatres’ fall production. I had thought to go after work Monday, when Steven could join me. However, acoustic guitar music is a great bribe for going today. Also, I might as well start reading plays as soon as possible, right?

Shortly before 11, therefore, I was at the library, wandering the shelves. I tend to have better luck doing that than looking at the supposed card catalog. I call it supposed, because there are neither cards nor a catalog. It is a computer and we all know, sometimes computers mystify me (OK, it’s not that hard to mystify me). I used to rock those little cards in the drawers! But enough strolling down memory late; I was strolling amongst the shelves.

I quickly found three books of plays and one book about an old Hollywood scandal. I do love an old Hollywood scandal. I went to check them out and asked where the guitar players were.

“I can just go listen, right?” I asked.

“Oh, sure, just listen, learn to play, sing along, they don’t kick anybody out.”

“If I tried to sing, they might kick me out,” I told them, but the folks behind the counter did not think that would really happen.

I found the room and sat at a table in the corner. A man was warming up, sounding really good. A few others arrived and they were all chatting and setting up. They were obviously regulars.

They played a lot of different tunes, mostly older stuff. I confess to singing along with “Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue.” Nobody kicked me out, but I sang quietly just in case. One man played the harmonica. I really enjoyed that. I laughed out loud when they sang the song about Rye Whiskey, particularly the verse about if the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck.

“You didn’t actually bring any whiskey, did you?” I asked. Nobody had. One man brought up the inadvisability of drinking whiskey and driving. He had a good point. I was just kidding anyways. I haven’t had whiskey in years.

I only stayed about an hour, but as I left I thanked them and told them I had enjoyed listening.

“Come again!” they invited.

“I will!” I promised. I intend to. It’s a nice way to spend a little time on a Saturday in the Mohawk Valley.

Frank J. Basloe Library is located at 245 N. Main St., Herkimer, NY, phone number 315-866-1733. They are open Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Thursday and Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (closed Saturdays during July and August), closed Sundays. For information visit their website at www.midyork.org/herkimer, or you can like them on Facebook. Tell them Mohawk Valley Girl sent you.

Fritz at the Folts

Last night I thought I was in for the evening. Aaah! Then I looked at the paper and saw that Fritz’s Polka Band was playing at the Folts Home in Herkimer. I couldn’t miss Fritz’s Polka Band! I love those guys!

I first heard FPB at the Folts Home Summer Concert Series last July. I’ve been Facebook friends with Fritz ever since. I briefly enjoyed their sound recently while I was running the Boilermaker.

Steven and I had already done some minor running around and were about to enjoy a late supper, but it was still prior to seven. I had felt bad earlier in the week because it had been too hot to take our schnoodle Tabby for an evening stroll. I suggested, therefore, that we walk Tabby to the Folts Home and listen for a bit.

It was still warm out but not nearly as oppressive as it had been. After discouraging Tabby from stopping to sniff every damn tree, lamppost and street sign (we let her sniff some; we’re not monsters), we came within earshot of the Folts Home. Right away we heard the rhythm of a polka. Yay!

We had not carried lawn chairs with us and at first we were content to stand on the lawn and listen. Tabby wanted to go check out all the people sitting and listening. I’m sure she would have found somebody who wanted to pet a cute doggy, but I did not want to disrupt the concert.

After a while the sun came out, so I looked around for a friendly patch of shade. We saw some park benches way off to the side so made for those. We could hear perfectly well but could not see a thing. After a while we switched benches. We still couldn’t see the band but could watch some of the audience enjoying the show. I was only sorry nobody was dancing.

We listened to a couple of polkas and a couple of waltzes. Then some bugs starting buzzing around our heads, and Tabby got restless, so we continued our walk. I was glad I got to hear one of my favorite groups at least briefly. It made kind of a celebration for the hot spell being temporarily over.