Modern Gothic Blues

I really enjoy Jamie N Commons’ style.

I’m sitting at work listening to Spotify’s New Music Friday playlist while finishing up some audit work.  I commonly listen to less engaging material while I work so I can focus on the work but I felt like some variety this morning.  Most of the playlist is forgettable – but I will credit the curators with the inclusion of Jamie N Commons.

Any performer categorized as Modern Gothic Blues has to sit in a pretty narrow niche.  I’ll follow the path into the Related Artists Spotify recommends but I’m guessing he has very few contemporaries.  His voice is compared to Tom Waits – and I get that, but the variety of styles he successfully synthesizes with the Blues is separate from my experience with Waits.

I’m not certain which of his songs to recommend – but I’ll go with the latest from the performer.  Glory.

 

Almost 50 Years Later – Apollo 11

There are still people walking the face of the earth who wrote Assembler code to get the Lunar Module to the surface of the moon.

47 years ago, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped out of the Apollo 11 Lunar Module and onto the surface of the moon.  For the first time in human history, a man walked on the surface of a different celestial object (can’t really call the moon a planet can I?).  All of seven years old, I sat in front of our family’s tiny black and white tv watching the historic moment.

In 1969, we all used rotary phones and rotated platters of vinyl under a thin needle to produce sound.  Everyone smoked cigarettes thinking they were cool.  Presidents were Presidential. Starting with 2001, A Space Odyssey, Star Trek, Star Wars, Alien, Battlestar Galactica and their ilk, the idea of space travel feels almost commonplace. But in 1969, nothing was certain – and nothing was easy.

This modest tweet made its way into my feed earlier today:

And by source code, we mean Assembler code.  Yea – we made it to the moon with Assembler code.  I’m guessing most everyone reading this has little understanding of what it takes to program in an environment that measures space in Ks – not Ms, not Gs, not Ts.  The phone I slip into my pocket every morning has several orders of magnitude greater storage  and computing capacity than the one cubic foot computer which rode to the moon.

There are still people walking the face of the earth who wrote Assembler code to get the Lunar Module to the surface of the moon.

If you are a real nerd, you can read the actual source code on Github.  Yea, that’s right. The actual Apollo 11 source code is on Github.

Crazy.

July 21st came and went and I neglected to post this.  I’ve post-dated the post, but this is actually being published in August.

Highpoint on Columbus Commons

Michelle successfully secured a design role with R.G. Barry in Columbus. We are really pleased for her and happy both kids now are employed in jobs they consider rewarding.  The company looks to be really progressive in their policies and is well thought of in the Columbus market.

She was hired on a Thursday and committed to starting six business days later (a Monday).  Finding a place to live quickly became a priority.  To her credit, Michelle found an apartment in downtown Columbus just 15 minutes from her employer.

 

Taylor Communications

The only constant is change. For the third time six months, my employers name has been changed – this time to Taylor Communications.

I work for a new company.  Earlier this month my employer changed its name from Standard Register Incorporated to Taylor Communications.  In reality, this is the third company I have worked for in the past six months – all without getting out of my seat. The last time I went through this many employers was in 1986.

In March of 2015, The Standard Register Company declared bankruptcy. On August 1st, the company name was changed to Standard Register Incorporated (a wholly owned subsidiary of Taylor Corporation).  People bemoaning the name change and the loss of a Dayton-based institution ignore the first transition.

I am excited by the name change and the opportunity it represents.  Over the past 15 years, change has been a constant.  The Standard Register Company has had cycles of success and failure in that time – but serving a contracting market ultimately resulted in more failures than success. The leadership team in that period worked hard to ‘rewire the plane in flight’ and transition the company to a different marketplace.

To be very honest, the loss of the company name does sadden me.  It is hard to work for a company as long as I have and not have a sense of loss.  Part of my identity has been attached to the company name.  I understand the business imperative behind the name change and accept it – but I will take some time for me to transition to the new world.

Bourbon Trail

In keeping with my longstanding tradition, I’ve written some notes from our latest jaunt through the countryside.  This past weekend, Becky, Michelle, Matt and I followed the Bourbon Trail  (Bourbon Country).  Specifically, we visited a handful of the distilleries between Louisville and Lexington in Kentucky.  We started with the Bulleit Distillery in Louisville.  The next day we visited both Makers Mark and Four Roses.  On the third day (Monday) we visited the Buffalo Trace and Woodford Distilleries near Frankfurt.

We decided back in August our grown children would enjoy a family vacation if we visited the different distilleries in Kentucky.  Being able to tour distilleries with your children is best done when they are adults.  We could only afford to spend three days, so we needed to be efficient with our time. We avoided several of the larger distilleries in the Louisville area so we could visit the less commercial manufacturers. We resolved to purchase those bourbons less likely be found on local shelves. Not every bottle we purchased is obscure – but several can only be purchased at the distillery.

My recommendation to anyone interested in enjoying the Bourbon Trail would be to spend some time researching the distilleries understanding the hours of operation for the tours and the length of time individual tours can take.  Were I to sample the distilleries again, I would focus on those which offer unique varieties for sale. While the Buffalo Trace distillery produces a number of labels, the three they sell at the distillery are all available in our local liquor store.  Woodford Distillery and Maker’s Mark both offered unique bottles unavailable locally.  The tours are great – but you’ll enjoy the unique bourbons when you get home.

Bourbon-Trail

Below I have included pictures (with commentary) of the different bourbons we purchased on our trip:

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Best Covers: I Put a Spell On You

Watching The Voice this evening.  The show is not engaging enough for me to simply watch without a distraction.

One of the performers (Rob Taylor) covered “I put a spell on you“.  He’s a capable performer but I’ve heard better version of the classic.  In our family, the Halloween classic Hocus Pocus with Bette Midler is a seasonal must-see. We all watch it together and because we’ve seen it so many times we can anticipate the actor’s lines.  Bette covers the song very well.  It’s a great Blue’s classic and like all songs in this genre – the best song connects emotionally through the vocals.

I decided to abuse my Spotify account and try to figure out who sang it best.  Pretty much everyone has covered this song.

I think Annie Lennox is a phenomenal performer – but hers is not the best version in my eyes.  Jesse Cook – one of my favorite (but more obscure performers) has  a great version.  Even Marilyn Manson has a version which I like it until the performer insists on singing.

David Gilmour (with Mica Paris) covers the song.  Because it’s David Gilmour, it’s hard not to focus on the guitar styling he brings to everything he does.  Buddy Guy and Carlos Santana create a similar experience – you just can’t escape a guitar virtuoso.  They own anything in which they are featured.  It becomes a guitar performance.

My three favorite performers are Manfred Mann, Joe Cocker, and Pete Townshend.  They all three approach the song as a Blues Standard.  Each adds a unique element.  Manfred Mann is a smooth blues singer.  Joe Cocker is raw and emotional.  Pete Townshend is a polished, nuanced blues singer.

Here’s my favorite:

P.S. I’m not a fan of the honky-tonk versions performed by Leon Russell and Sam Bush.  That just does not work.  People also want to perform this as a jazz standard.  And God save us all, there’s even a Disco version of the song by some obscure group called The Hershey Barr Band.  I’m good with artists re-interpreting songs, but I don’t think this song can be done better in a different style.  It’s a Blues standard and is done best in that style.

P.S.  While I appreciate that Jay Hawkins authored the classic and was the original performer – his performances haven’t matched those who have covered his original work.