My decision to dive headlong back into music has proven to be one of the most fruitful choices I’ve made recently. When your children become teenagers — reducing parents to chauffeurs, ATMs, and little else — you need to find a productive way to spend your time. Music was the perfect choice. Again.
I finished my first book, called I Can’t Be the Only One Hearing This: A Lifetime of Music Through Eclectic Ears. I even found a publisher for it. I hope to have it on bookshelves and inside e-readers by spring.
I saw more bands perform this year than I did in the last four or five years combined. Granted, 37 of them were in one place (God bless Progtoberfest), but I saw enough shows to realize I’d actually forgotten about a couple of them. The ones I remember were truly special: Victor Wooten, Adrian Belew, Brand X, Hudson, John McLauglin, Mike Keneally, The National, Grizzly Bear, Kneebody, El Monstero, Rhiannon Giddens … the list goes on. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: live music is the best.
In addition to finding a new musical home at Planet Score Records in St. Louis, I visited record stores in Baltimore, Nashville, and Chicago. If forced to pick an absolute favorite, I would probably go with Grimey’s in Nashville.
It’s a good thing I’m working a lot of overtime, because I bought an absolutely embarrassing amount of music. Between the out of town trips, Planet Score, and Amazon, I have been positively inundated with records and CDs. And I’d be lying if I said I’ve played everything.
It started innocently with the Beatles 50th anniversary box set of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band:
But then things got out of hand. My rational side swore up and down I wouldn’t get caught up in all the King Crimson box sets. My Crimson Fanatic side just laughed. Before I knew it, this had happened:
I made four trips to Chicago this year. Here’s a chunk of the haul I brought back:
Here’s the stuff I bought in Nashville:
And here’s what followed me home from Baltimore:
I wish I had bought more music indigenous to the Baltimore region, like I ultimately did everywhere else. But that idea didn’t occur to me until after the trip. Oh, well. Next time.
I’m also slowly being introduced to a world where musicians are asking me to review their albums. This is very flattering, and I’m happy to do it, wherever time allows. My favorite of the lot so far came from Joe Deninzon and Stratospheerius, whom I also saw at Progtoberfest.
I interviewed Joe and many others I saw in Chicago last October. Soon, I will be assembling a series called The Bands of Progtoberfest.
And after nearly a decade, I find myself eager to play guitar again.
What an amazing year this has been! How can I possibly top it? Well, the wheels are already turning.
I hope to start work on my next book late next summer, after completing a couple of professional obligations. I have at least four ideas for music books. I’m most enthused about a book on the Jazz my late father loved, and how he passed that love on to me.
As of this writing, I have nine road trips scheduled for 2018. This includes three trips to Chicago and a return to Nashville. I also hope to visit Kansas City, Louisville, Memphis, and Cincinnati, among other places. Of course, I’ll be on the hunt for regional music. My daughter will be with me for two of the trips, and she’s rapidly becoming a music junkie like her old man, making record store trips that much more fun.
I have tickets to see Steven Wilson, Dweezil Zappa, and Progtoberfest so far. I might have two more shows lined up by this time tomorrow. Joshua Redman, Buckethead, Ramsey Lewis, Celebration Day (a Led Zeppelin tribute) and The Musical Box (celebrating vintage Genesis) are on my radar. I won’t be spending a great deal of time at home.
So many of my favorite musicians put out new records last year, I find it hard to believe they’ll do it again. That’s all right, because that means I can look into the more than 600 albums waiting for me on Bandcamp, my favorite music app. I’ll do my best to stay on top of things, and report what I find.
If you’d like me to check out your musical efforts, you’re welcome to reach out to me via the comments on this blog, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m not even gonna try to guess where my guitar playing efforts are going to go, if anywhere. I only know the door to possibility is open, and I’m going to take a peek, and see what’s on the other side.
If all goes well, 2018 will be an unbelievably busy year.
I can hardly wait!