Concert Review: Lettuce at the Fillmore Auditorium, SF.

I’ll say right up front that I only recently learned of the existence of the band Lettuce. The Mrs. actually discovered them first and played a track of theirs while we were in the car about a month ago, and I was knocked out by how great the song was. Fast forward 24 hours and I’ve got a dozen or so songs of theirs on my playlist, in heavy rotation! During the course of my digging into their repertoire, I discovered they’ve been around for over 20 years!! I was shocked to say the least. That a band could be so good and yet – as a dyed-in-the-wool music fiend – I had never even heard OF them, much less their music, was astounding to me. Frankly, I was embarrassed. But, better late than never!

As luck would have it, just a couple weeks after I learned that Lettuce existed, I found out they were playing two nights at The Fillmore in San Francisco, one of our favorite venues. Even luckier, after mentioning it in passing to the Mrs., she picked up a pair of tickets for us as a surprise!

The opening act of the night was a guy by the name of Keifer. We listened to a couple of his tunes before the show and thought, m’eh… We got there a little late and he and his band were already into it on stage. The first thing we hear when we walk in is the drummer breaking into a drum solo… Eye roll… I’ve been playing drums myself for 45+ years, and I pretty much hate drum solos. So we made our way over to the bar to grab a couple drinks before heading back onto the floor.

The band was comprised of keys, bass and drums. All clearly talented, but the music was a little bland. They finished the set however, bringing out the keyboardist and trumpet player from Lettuce to augment the band and that was a STONG finish!

Keifer and band

After a short intermission Lettuce hit the stage and BOOM! They were off and running. Now, I’m much too much of a newbie to their discography to know the names of their songs (and I’m terrible with song names anyway, especially in instrumental music!) but wow, they just grabbed the entire room right outta the gate! Heads were bobbin’, everyone was grooving, it was a GREAT vibe!

Lettuce gettin’ it on!

The band is a 6 piece unit – guitar, bass, drums, keys, saxophone and trumpet. The perfect combo for a funk outfit! And let me tell you, every single one of these guys was ON POINT! They were so locked in as a unit – and this is some pretty complex music – it was really something to see. It is just awesome to witness a group of musicians so in command of their instruments and yet simultaneously just flowing, like it’s second nature to them. It’s just not the same as seeing a symphony or a highly technical jazz or prog-rock act. When skill and soul unite, the outcome is nothing less than spectacular. I was beyond impressed, I was MESMERIZED! The icing on this delicious cake was their bassist. I don’t know his name or anything about him, but he was absolutely, positively stunning. His groove was so deep, and solid as a rock. He was slinky and gritty and funky and just straight up phenomenal. The kind of bass that’ll give you “stank face” it’s so damn groovy! What a delight!! I’ve played with dozens of bass players over the last 30+ years and out of those dozens I’d say 3 of them were spectacular. The bassist from Lettuce was every bit as good, if not better, than those 3. Really special.

Another aspect of the band that really caught my attention was that whenever there was a gap for a particular instrument, one of those players had some sort of percussion instrument in hand, filling up the sound. On the surface you might think how much difference can a tambourine or a shaker make? Well, it makes a BIG difference. All those little extra voices, those nearly imperceptible accent notes really just gave a glistening polish to an already stellar performance.

I can say with full confidence that I am officially a FAN of Lettuce! I have a lot of their material to absorb still, but I seriously dig what I’ve heard so far. It may have been my first show with them, but it certainly won’t be my last!

A big thank you to the bands and the crew that make these shows happen. And an extra big THANK YOU to the Mrs. for the great surprise!

Thanks for stopping by!

Just Like Old Times…

Last night I had a fantastic experience and I’m still riding the “high”!

For the first time in literally decades, I got a chance to sit down with one of my oldest friends for a songwriting session, and it was like a spigot was turned on – the music just flowed like it hasn’t in years!

This was just what the doctor ordered, it’s been way too long since I was able to just create and I missed it even more than I realized.

In the matter of just a few short hours, we planted the seeds of 6 new songs right outta the gate. It was remarkable and thrilling to say the least.

Remember to feed your soul folks, it’s good for your health and your spirit!

Thanks for stopping by!

Concert Review: Lyrics Born at Moe’s Alley, Santa Cruz CA.

Tonight was our second time catching Lyric Born’s live show, but our first venture into Moe’s Alley in Santa Cruz.

Opening act was Mak Nova, a female rapper from Santa Cruz whom we’d never heard of. I listened to a few of her songs beforehand and wasn’t terribly excited for the set, but luckily she had an outstanding band that gave up an excellent performance. Mak’s performance was ok…nothing really grabbed me. To be honest, she seemed too well ‘rehearsed’, as in every move seemed calculated and not exactly genuine. But like I said, her band killed it – I especially liked her bassist – so overall I’d say it was a decent set, but I wouldn’t go out-of my way to see her again.

Anticipation was high for LB, his last show was spectacular and we were hoping for a repeat of the awesomeness. Unfortunately, it was not to be.

His band was scaled way back from the last time we saw him – just drums, bass and guitar – and while his band is stellar, it just wasn’t nearly as fantastic as the last time around.

Don’t get me wrong, he was still good. Just not great.

Nonetheless, it was a fun night and a chance to see some musicians at the top of their game, which is always a good time! Beats a night of Netflix, hands down!

Thanks for stopping by!

A little bit of this and that…

I realized yesterday that time has flown by since my last post and once again I’d dropped the ball.

Nothing all that noteworthy has happened in the last couple weeks, just life rushing at us at 100 mph.

We got back from our trip to Pismo, and I was feeling on top of the world. Rested, recharged and ready to get back to the real world, with many “to-do’s” to do, plans to make and goals to achieve.

It was all well and good ’til that Thursday night when a call came in from the fire alarm monitoring company- a water flow alarm went off just before 9pm…which means *something caused water to move in the fire sprinkler system. Never, and I mean NEVER a good call to get.

So basically, from Thursday August 25th, through last Thursday, September 1st things were a bit over the top tense. And I’ll leave it at that.

Cast iron + direct contact with the earth = trouble.

While this was going on, the Mrs. and our girl were both getting started for “back to school”, with their classrooms being occupied by the varmints as of last Monday, August 29th.

So, I’ve been a little preoccupied lately, and the blog took a back seat…

Despite the drag of life, I did manage to do a few fun things.

I finished another book – “A Great Reckoning” by Louise Penny. This was a random recommendation from Amazon actually. I’d never heard of the writer, who turns out is quite prolific, but the book was good. It was your typical ‘whodunnit’ detective novel, with a lot of unexpected twists and turns, and some very memorable characters. Not earth shattering or life changing in any way, though certainly a fun read nonetheless that didn’t take any real commitment to finish. She kept it compelling enough that I found myself WANTING to read it, to discover how it all went down. Perfect lite fare for a vacation/beach/lazy Sunday escape.

I also went on a treasure hunt and dug out a bunch of old cassettes containing a bunch of my earliest music we recorded back in the day. My old music partner moved back to the area some time ago, and we thought it would be fun to “digitize” these so we could listen to our oldies but goodies from days of yore. Hopefully more to come on this in the not too distant future.

Lost gems from the 1980’s and 90’s!

And last but not least, my daughter and I hit the Caravan Lounge in downtown San Jose last Saturday night.

The Caravan has been a dive bar since at least the mid 80’s, and I hadn’t step foot in the place since maybe ’92 at the latest but they didn’t have bands playing there back then. Some time later it became a somewhat legendary spot in the South Bay for punk bands and the more underground scene, which I’d kind of outgrown by then, so I never had gone there strictly for music until the last weekend.

Things didn’t pan out as planned unfortunately… the band we went (and I really WANTED) to see – the Wet Bandits, we didn’t see. The flyer for the show listed the Wet Bandits and nobody else, with a start time of 9pm. We got there at 9pm and found there was in fact an opening band, whose name I forget. Anyhow, the opening act didn’t START their set until 10:15, which was a drag. Then on top of that they were just boring, frankly. We figured they’d do a 30 minute set since they started so late, but at the 32 minute mark,the guitarist sat out and we were “treated” to a drum and bass duo jamming God knows what… At that point I called it a night. Don’t get me wrong, I love trios, and I can absolutely get down with some drum and bass jams, but these guys needed more time in the garage before they put themselves in front of a crowd. Bush League stuff, at best.

The bright side was getting to hang with my kid, just the two of us. It doesn’t happen all that often, so I really appreciate it when it does!

Yesterday was just a boring day of laundry and chores and super fun stuff like that. The Mrs. is a bit under the weather (back to school = cooties galore) so she’s lying low trying to recuperate before going back to classes this week. Me? No rest for the wicked…Working on the “holiday” per usual, massive deadline looming in a week. And I’m on-call for Jury Duty this week. Yay.

Oh, and did I mention we’re in the midst of a heat wave? It’s been in the high 90’s for the last 3 days. Supposed to be 103 today. Hotter tomorrow. Good times.

Thanks for stopping by!

Concert Review: ASHE at Bimbo’s 365, S.F.

Here we had another show where I knew almost nothing about the artist we were going to see, ASHE. She came through town some time ago and the Mrs. wanted to go see her, but when we learned of the show, it was sold out.

Turns out she was doing doing a gig after her “Outside Lands Festival” performance the day before, and as luck would have it, she was playing at Bimbo’s, a club I’ve been dying to go back to for ages!

Bimbo’s 365 on Columbus Street in San Francisco is an iconic spot. To give you some context, the last time I was at the club, the Mrs. was pregnant with our now 28-year-old daughter! And the club was old back then! It’s a great old school, vintage night club. They used to even have “cigarette girls” walking the club selling smokes and gum and whatnot, like out if a film from the 1940’s. Even today they still have bathroom attendants to trun on the faucets, hand you towels and such. It’s a throwback, for sure, but kinda nice at the same time. Reminds you of a simpler era, and the vibe elicits a little more manners and social grace than you find at most night clubs.

The opening act was Adam Melchor, also unknown to me. He came out, just him a guitar and I was proud of myself for keeping an open mind, since I’ve been very pleasantly surprised at the last couple solo singer/songwriter performances I’ve seen. Well, Adam broke the spell of pleasant surprises. While he’s a fine guitarist and his voice is not bad at all, his music left me completely flat. No surprises, nothing out of the ordinary, nothing exciting. And what made matters worse was the talking between songs. Good grief! He played roughly 40 minutes and I’d say 15 of that was him blathering on.

Clearly he had some fans in the place, and they were singing along with him and all, but for me and the Mrs., it was boring and entirely forgettable. Again, not to say he was “bad”, it just wasn’t our cup of tea.

Ashe came out strong and her band was really holding their own. It was a unique lineup – drummer, a violin/keyboard player and a guitarist/bassist that switched back and forth, depending on the needs of the song.


As I mentioned earlier, I wasn’t really familiar with her material, but what I do know of it, is very “modern” production – think synthesizers and computers – so to hear the songs with real musicians and actual (not virtual) instruments gave it a whole new sound and feel for me. And yes, as a musician I will say (with utter bias) it was better live than recorded.

Ashe herself was a great performer. Her voice was strong, her energy level was high and she was clearly there to put on a show. My only gripe was there was a little too much “downtempo” music. Her fans were thrilled with the set list though, and singing along to nearly every song, so that is just a personal preference of mine. I like my live shows to keep me energized, not stifling a yawn and the night wears on!

All in all, I give her performance a thumbs up. Not the best thing I’ve ever seen, but far from the worst. And she’s mighty young, so if she sticks with it, I’m sure she’ll just keep getting better and better. I’d certainly go see her show again, I’d just hope for a more well suited opening act!

Thanks for stopping by!

Concert Review: The Dip at the Guild Theater: Menlo Park, CA.

We’ve been waiting soooo long to see these guys! We had tickets for a tour a couple years ago that was canceled due to the Plague, then we were supposed to go see them last week in San Francisco. Unfortunately, life was busy kicking us all in the nuts last week, so we pulled the plug in the 11th hour in hopes that we’d make the Menlo Park show the following Tuesday.

Sadly, more misfortune followed…The Mrs. tested positive for the Plague Monday morning, and the poor lady was knocked flat. But, our daughter had already purchased the tix so the Mrs. insisted that we make a father/daughter night out of it.

We felt bad to leave her all by herself, with nothing but NyQuil and the cat for comfort, but it turned out to be a great night.

This was our first time at the Guild Theater and had no idea what to expect. Well, it was GREAT. Super easy to find, parking was maybe a block and a half away and FREE, the staff was friendly, the bartender prompt and the place was simply beautiful, with a great sound system and acoustics. A+ with a cherry on top for the Guild! And one final note, that I didn’t notice until we were leaving the venue, they’ve got the swankiest AND cleanest restrooms I’ve ever seen in a nightclub. Kudos!

Of course the fact that it WASN’T in San Francisco adds fifty-bazillion bonus points!

The night started out with a tidy half-hour set by semi-local singer-songwriter Jennah Bell, who hails from Oakland, CA – just a hop, skip and a jump up the road from Menlo Park. Neither my daughter nor I had ever heard of her and she wasn’t listed on the bill, so we didn’t even know if there was going to be an opening act.

Jenna Bell, the real deal.

I’ll be honest, singer-songwriters are NOT my thing, especially in a live setting. Don’t get me wrong, I admire the hell out of them for having the fortitude to get up in front of a room of strangers, just a single instrument and a voice, and let it all out. That takes a lot of guts. I just don’t want to listen to it, generally speaking. This being my frame of mind, when she walked out on stage my initial (internal) response was “Oh no…”

Well, let me say, I’m an IDIOT for jumping to conclusions. We really enjoyed her set, and she was just delightful as a person. I can’t put my finger on what it was that made her different from the standard singer-songwriter, but she is. In the best possible way. Her style is unique. She doesn’t sound like anyone else I can think of, a truly authentic, original sound. Her set included two cover songs, and she took a HUGE risk covering legendary songs, but she made them completely her own. (I won’t give any spoilers on the songs, but they’re both massive (vintage) hits that EVERYBODY that knows 60’s music knows) It’s nearly impossible to make a cover of a tune better than the original (not that it hasn’t been done) and I’m not saying hers were “better” exactly, but when you completely turn a song inside out to where it sounds nothing like the original and it STILL sounds amazing?!? Yeah, that’s some talent right there.

Ms. Bell’s set was a really unexpected, pleasant surprise and I look forward to hearing more from her.

Next up, it was The Dip’s time to shine and boy, did they!

Honestly, I don’t really know anything about The Dip, where they are from, how long they’ve been around…but from the first time I heard them, I was hooked. Their sound is hard to categorize- take a little Motown, a chunk of jazz, some crooner-type lounge music and throw it in a blender, with a fine dusting of funk thrown on top and you get close to a description, but only close.

Basically speaking, since that’s really all I know, they are a 7-piece operation. Drums, bass, guitar, guitar/lead vocals, baritone sax, tenor sax and trumpet. Each and every one of these guys were on their game, and as a group they were TIGHT! It wasn’t a high-energy show, but it isn’t exactly high energy music either, more of a slow burn groove, with lots of twists and turns along the way.

Hollowbody tone + Bigsby tremolo = Heaven!

The band played a good hour-plus set, then came out and did another 3 tunes for the encore. My only beef, and this is strictly personal, is that in a couple of my absolute favorite songs, they played them completely different than the recorded versions, like an entirely new arrangement. This can be cool, and they actually did great job with they way they did it, I was just looking forward to hearing them at least somewhat like I knew them… But honestly that is just me being nit-picky, it really didn’t detract from the show in any way. Overall, it was a stellar showing from The Dip, and I will ABSOLUTELY go see them again should the opportunity arise. We’ll done gentlemen!

Thanks for stopping by!

Concert Review: K. Flay at the Regency Ballrom, SF.

K. Flay is a weirdo, and we love it! This was our second opportunity to catch her live and she. was. awesome!

We’ve been to several shows at the Regency Ballroom, and it’s a fun place for shows, just no surprises insofar as the venue itself.

The Regency glamour!

A group (?) by the name Corook started off the night. A 3 piece outfit, vocals/guitar/banjo(!!!), a drummer and a guitarist/keys player. The leader of the ensemble was very likable, and had a great rapport with the audience, despite claims to being “new at this”. It was a short 30 minute set, full of quirkiness and fun. The highlight for me was the the tune “I don’t f*uck with Snakes” – hilarious! All in all it was a great introduction to a new, promising artist.


The middle act was Kid Sistr (sic), a 3-piece, all female band. I’ll be honest, I have a soft spot and an innate respect for trios, especially one’s that don’t rely on a bunch of electronics and loops/backing tracks to fill their sound. These young ladies were just a good, old fashioned power-trio, with no special effects, no gimmicks. While it wasn’t the strongest love performance I’ve ever seen, I was impressed by their songwriting. The complexity belies their youth. Musically they are very solid, vocally is where the youth and lack of experience shows. I’ll give them props for having the guts to throw a cover of the Beastie Boys “Sabotage” in their set. When I heard the opening riff, I though “oh no!”, but they actually pulled it off. Good on ya girls, glad to see the kids out there doing their thing and making it happen!

K. Flay took the stage right about 10pm She opened the set with “Four Letter Words”, and just came out swinging! Her band was tight and on point, not a note or beat out of place.

The last time we saw her was a few years ago, when nobody had really heard of her yet. We liked her then, BUT we LOVE her now! She can be at times menacing, as though she’s prowling the stage looking for a fight…then she’s just completely losing herself, flailing around like a maniac, and sometimes she was just locked into the groove. Her band was definitely a backing band. They weren’t really part of “the show”, and it mattered not at all, as K. Flay was simply in command of that stage. Unlike most ” solo female” artists, she doesn’t need a gaggle of back up dancers, a bunch of props or costume changes to entertain. I defy anyone to see K. Flay live and NOT be enthralled by her performance.

K. Flay, getting down to business!

All in all, it was a great night. Some excellent performances, some really great songs and just a great vibe all night long.

Thanks K. Flay, et al, it was a night to remember!

Thanks for reading!

Flashback Friday! Post-hippie San Francisco Bay Area.

Everybody with two brain cells to rub together and even the most rudimentary grasp of history knows San Francisco was THE music mecca of the 60’s. Countless legends broke out of SF in the 60’s and 70’s, but what a lot of people don’t remember are the awesome Bay Area bands in the 80’s and 90’s.

For today’s flashback I’m going to focus on my faves from the SF “scene”. Not all the bands were FROM San Francisco, but they all played there because that is where the vast majority of the venues are in the Bay Area.

And before anyone gets their panties in a wad, I will NOT be including metal or hip-hop in this Flashback. Yes, there were plenty of them around – well, not so much hip-hop as metal, but those scenes were still burgeoning. The Rock/New Wave/Punk bands were getting most of the attention. At least throughout the 80’s. I do like hip-hop and some metal (Def more into hip-hop than metal for sure tho) but there were so many bands back then that I loved, I’m just going to focus on them.

And here we go!

Wire Train. The BEST of the Bay…IMHO

To me, this album was the Pinnacle of SanFran music in the 80’s. I was fortunate enough to see them live a few times and even got to hang out with them backstage at a couple of those shows.

Once while working in downtown San Jose I ran into their drummer Brian and we had lunch together on Market Street. Super nice guys, outstanding records.

Shut up and DANCE! Words to live by!

Ok, this wasn’t their best song maybe, but it sure was fun! Every dance floor I ever witnessed would be PACKED when this song came on. And Pearl could really belt it!

Should have been HUGE…

Eddie and the Tide were born just a little outside the bay, but they made their mark here. This record was produced by Eddie Money (RIP) as I recall and got tons of radio play here on KOME and KSJO, two of San Jose’s biggest stations at the time. This video, or at least parts of it, were filmed in Santa Cruz when I was (practically) living there, so they felt like the Home Team to me.

Back when they were THE rising stars here, there was a contest on KSJO – A “Best of the Bay” thing where local bands would get a song played and the listening audience would call in to vote for the best song. The “prize” was an opening slot for Eddie and Co. at an old club in Campbell called Puma’s. Much to our shock and delight, my band won and we got the opening gig. It was the first time we played with a real “pro” band, not some kids coming out the garage like us, plus radio people at the gig… It was incredibly exciting and terrifying at the same time and by far the biggest crowd we’d played for up until then. Good times. Great memories. I was absolutely certain they were going to be a huge band, but for some reason they just never took off.Pity.

I was maybe 14 when I first heard Romeo Void, and was hooked. They were pretty creepy sounding to me and really captured the gritty sound of the city. Short lived band, but the songs have withstood the test of time. Still sounds creepy and gritty 40 years later. The dissonant guitar still gives me chills.

Last but certainly not least, Translator. You could not get away from this song when came out, it was infectious and everywhere. Surprisingly, these guys beat the “sophomore slump” and put out a brilliant second album. I only got to see them once, as an opening act for someone I can’t recall at the moment.

Ok folks, that is all I got for the day. Don’t fret if I missed your favorite, this is a mighty fertile field. I’ll come back to dig up some more gems from this Era before too long.

Thanks for reading (and listening!)

Mason Dixon Survivalist Association

Be a Survivalist who is a “Jack of all Trades”, master of some (preferably the life saving and life protecting arts).

Dio's Workshop

Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it – no matter if I have said it! – except it agree with your own reason and your own common sense.” – Siddhartha Gautama, a.k.a. the Buddha

Official Website of Jennifer C Lindquist, Artist

The Boring Old Man

The ramblings of an old weirdo about whatever crosses my mind...