Anne Notations

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Men to beat

Just kiss me darlin'
Baby, make it long and sweet
'Cuz I tell you baby, I am the man to beat.

Since my early teens I have had musical epiphanies. Some of these have been in the classical and early-music genres (I was amazed upon hearing Tomas Luis de Victoria's "O Magnum Mysterium" for the first time), but the really vivid thunderbolts came from the realm of rock and blues.

c. 1962-3: The flip side of a 45 rpm record purchased at a rummage sale yielded an R&B gem: "I'm in Love Again," by Fats Domino. I nearly wore the vinyl out.

1964: The little plastic radio in our living room, tuned to New York's 77-WABC AM, broadcast a stunning new song with a driving rhythm and irresistible harmonies. Why did I assume that those four Brits were black Americans? There was something soulful in their voices. The song: "I Want to Hold Your Hand." Beatlemania ensued.

1966: Two favorites that I played over and over on my turntable: "Don't Bring Me Down" by the Animals -- I couldn't get enough of Eric Burdon's sinuous drawl; and "Dirty Water" by the Standells... growling rock.

1967: The album "Are You Experienced?" was released by Jimi Hendrix. The man was a guitar god who looked and sounded like sex. I think my friends who heard snippets of the rough and raunchy rock and blues I loved in my mid-teens -- me, the gawky blonde honor student and Sunday-school teacher -- must have thought I was nuts.

1968: Sitting in a murky lounge of the local CYO with Frank while the Doors played on the stereo. Devil-boy Jim Morrison talked and crooned and moaned and shouted his way through the epic song "When the Music's Over": "Music is your only friend... Until the end." I was in tears when the song ended. It felt like the most profound make-out session of my life.

1969: From down the hall of my freshman dormitory I heard a thumping bass beat and incredible singing guitar. I ran to Val's room and discovered 1) the power of a real stereo, and 2) B.B. King, singing and playing Lucille on the song "Why I Sing the Blues." I bought the album, "Live and Well," and cemented my love of the blues forever. (The song remains a favorite to this day.) That spring, with Dan and his friend "Crabby" Appleton, I saw B.B. open for the Rolling Stones at the old Boston Garden. Mick Jagger threw himself flat on the stage as he sang "Have you heard about the --" WHOMP --"midnight rambler..." The whole night was one big goose-bump.

1983: Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble released their debut album, "Texas Flood." I don't remember when or where I first heard it, but I ran to buy it and I've never stopped playing Stevie's raw and beautiful guitar blues and rock. He came to Providence several times. Now that he's gone, "regret" doesn't begin to describe my sorrow at missing the chance to see him in person. What the hell could I have been doing that was more important?

2004: Melinda hears a song she likes on the radio. It is "Heaven" by a group called Los Lonely Boys. She buys the group's first CD. At home, I listen. I like. I download. I become obsessed with the three Garza brothers from San Angelo, Texas, who play stinging blues a la SRV, romping rock, and infectious pop with three-part vocal harmony. I'm hooked.

June 17, 2005: Kevin and I drive to Mansfield, Mass., where Los Lonely Boys are opening for Carlos Santana at the Tweeter Center, a covered outdoor amphitheater. We are buzzing with excitement. Since last summer Kevin has been taking electric guitar lessons at the Music School, and I've made sure he and our other kids have heard lots of SRV, Cream, Led Zep, BB King, Albert King, and now LLB's Henry Garza.

Kevin on his beginner Fender

Promptly at 7 p.m., the Boys step onto the stage and begin playing "Crazy Dream." The rest of the night is a blur of standing, dancing in the aisles, waving, yelling "We love you!", and listening to the almost unbearably sweet sound of Henry Garza trading guitar licks with Carlos Santana midway through the latter's set.

Henry channeling SRV

So, I've seen the light. So, I just bought tickets to an LLB headliner concert at NYC's Roseland Ballroom in September, and as soon as they go on sale, I'm buying tickets for a Boston concert the following week. Then there's the Big E (Eastern States Exposition) in Springfield, where LLB is appearing in October.

What's going on? Hockey games... Star Wars... now Los Lonely Boys. I'm turning into the world's oldest fan girl. It's Beatlemania all over again! -- but this time with graying hair and bursitis.

Maybe I'm a little nuts. Maybe I don't care, because I'm having too much fun.

Henry and JoJo Garza team up on lead guitar.

*Lyrics from "I Am the Man to Beat," by Los Lonely Boys.


  • "Heaven, I'm in Heaven. And my heart beats so that I can hardly speak"...when I'm listening to Eva Cassidy "Live at Blues Alley". Have you bought all of her CDs yet? Eva has "it". I don't know what "it" is but she has "it". The ability to stir the soul and emotions of the listener through her natural gift and perfected craft. Your friend, Tony : )

    By Anonymous Tony Banana, at Thu Jul 28, 01:12:00 AM EDT  

  • Tony: I have been listening to Eva Cassidy a LOT. She has so much range and can do many genres. "Live at Blues Alley" was my intro to her, and it's great. Also "Songbird" and one other that I have (memory is blanking here). I love the song "Fields of Gold." It's stuck in my brain. Beautiful.
    - Anne

    By Blogger AnneD, at Wed Aug 03, 10:02:00 AM EDT  

  • Anne: "Fields of Gold" is one of my favorite songs by Eva. It was very popular in the women's figure skating competition during the 2002 Winter Olympics. I first heard of Eva while watching ABC Nightline on Christmas Eve 2001. I ordered 4 of her CDs the next day. My favorite Christmas present ever. Beautiful. That's what "it" is. Her art is beautiful and the beholder can become completely absorbed in "it". Beauty is said to be in the eye of the beholder but I think Eva touched a universal beauty. I wish she was still around doing her thing and creating more beauty. I never learned of her until she was gone. Glad to see you can experience LLB in person. ~Tony

    By Anonymous Tony Banana, at Thu Aug 04, 09:32:00 PM EDT  

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