My Review of One Way Out: The Inside History of the Allman Brothers Band

<em>One Way Out: The Inside History of the Allman Brothers Band</em>” border=”0″ src=”” /></a><a href=One Way Out: The Inside History of the Allman Brothers Band by Alan Paul
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

How do you recount a history as varied, long-lived, and chaotic as The Allman Brothers Band’s? By telling each person’s version of history, which Mr. Paul does with balance, humor, and without sanctifying the flawed humans that comprise the ABB (OK, maybe he sanctifies Duane a bit, but who doesn’t).

This book deepened my appreciation for the music and heightened my listening of the various incarnations of the ABB. Not a sordid tell-all, just a coherent history of how the quirky musical institution can be celebrating 45 years of incredible music.

View all my reviews

Review of My Life with Deth: Discovering Meaning in a Life of Rock & Roll

My Life with Deth: Discovering Meaning in a Life of Rock & RollMy Life with Deth: Discovering Meaning in a Life of Rock & Roll by David Ellefson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Mr. Ellefson tells an entertaining life story, and manages to stay true to his rocker, sobriety, and spiritual roots – without evangelizing.

I especially enjoyed that he’s clearly reflected on the path he’s travelled, and shares insight from what he’s learned, without excessive spleen-venting or hindsight-based revisionism.

View all my reviews

A review of 4-inch wide Italia Straps for Bass Guitars

I’ve been playing a lot of bass lately. That’s a good thing. Some of my basses weigh 12 pounds. That’s not a good thing.

I recently started using a neo-web type strap, which is made of neo-prene or something similar. It’s wide and a bit stretchy. Although a strap like this does re-distribute the weight, the slick nature of the material tends to exacerbate neck dive. I found myself going back to a narrower strap that was leather and suede.

Some online comments lead me to check out Italia Straps

2013-06-19 13.36.57


I purchased Black + Suede and a Mahogany strap.

On the whole I am pleased with these straps.

Here’s a review of pros & cons:


  • Pros:
    • Reasonably priced
    • Very sturdy leather
    • Wide form
    • Leather looks, feels, and smells great
    • Classic buckle-free adjustable design
  • Cons:
    • Leather is so thick that I had to compress is with a clamp and some washers before I could put my Dunlop Dual Design strap locks on. It was manageable, and should be very secure, but it was an extra step and extra effort.
    • These straps actually are so thick that they weigh almost a pound each (15 oz.). If you’re really concerned about total weight between bass and strap, that might be a factor. For me the sturdiness, strap-width, and suede backing make 15 oz. of weight acceptable.
    • Leather was a bit stiff at first. However I have a sense it will grow more supple with use.

Short version: Good value, good construction, I am happy with these straps.

Playing with Paul Bolger of Mr. Blotto

I was lucky enough to serve as house bass player this past Sunday. This was a really fun night – great music.

14-04-28 working mans jam_2549

Paul played nearly the entire night, with many local musicians. Paul has an encyclopedic knowledge of songs and was equally comfortable singing/playing lead or playing rhythm behind someone else. A total “mensch”!

Review: The Music Lesson: A Spiritual Search for Growth Through Music

The Music Lesson: A Spiritual Search for Growth Through MusicThe Music Lesson: A Spiritual Search for Growth Through Music by Victor L. Wooten
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m actually not sure how I feel about this book yet.

It is similar to one of my favorite books of all time, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, which opens with “What follows is based on actual occurrences. Although much has been changed for rhetorical purposes, it must be regarded in its essence as fact.”

What I like about this book is that it asks higher-level questions about music (primarily creating it, but also listening & appreciating it). It’s not a technique book, it’s an attitude book.

What I don’t like are primarily two things:
The prose is somewhat pedantic seems to be aimed at about a 6th or 7th grade intellect (perhaps it is)
The “miraculous occurrences” are to some extent, like something you might read in a free magazine you pick up at a new-age shop

But that criticism seems overly harsh, and I really did like this book. I think part of the point is to suspend dis-belief and see what it has to offer.

I also think that there is enough here to warrant a re-reading. No doubt Mr. Wooten is a musician of great talent and achievement and can obviously teach something about it to those of us willing to listen.

View all my reviews

Review: Room Full of Mirrors: A Biography of Jimi Hendrix

Room Full of Mirrors: A Biography of Jimi HendrixRoom Full of Mirrors: A Biography of Jimi Hendrix by Charles R. Cross
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Because the author focuses on Hendrix’s roots and early experiences, it provides a much more humanizing perspective on the man. It’s probably a fair criticism that his later life receives an only moderately detailed treatment. However there are many other books that do this sufficiently well. I am not aware of a book that provides such an intimate and well-researched glimpse into Hendrix’s early life and relationships.

The fact that Hendrix was able to accomplish anything in view of his abusive and neglected child-hood speaks volumes to his level of passion, determination, and genius. It only further illustrates the tragedy of lost potential in this musical magi.

I learned a lot from this book, and I thought I knew a lot before reading it.

View all my reviews

Review: When Giants Walked the Earth: A Biography of Led Zeppelin

When Giants Walked the Earth: A Biography of Led ZeppelinWhen Giants Walked the Earth: A Biography of Led Zeppelin by Mick Wall
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Great Zeppelin Bio, a balanced in treatment of history, cultural roots and impact, musical legacy, mysticism, greed, and debauchery.

I thought this was very well written and well conceived. The only slight criticism would be the author’s semi-apologist views of Page’s plagiarism. It’s clear he’s a huge fan of Page’s but he also does describe Page’s flaws and mistakes. Robert Plant does not receive the same apologist’s hall pass.

The flash-back dialogues are fanciful, but add a real-ness (although the author clearly explains they’re imagined) to the proceedings. They add a nice first-person perspective to what may well have been going on.

View all my reviews

Joe Walsh – Look What I Did! – The Anthology

I forgot how great many of Joe Walsh‘s songs have always been. Obviously he’s a great guitarist and prominent member of the Eagles. But sometimes it easy to forget that there’s an intelligent melodic songwriter behind that guitar-playing-burnout persona he often projects. Want proof? Check out “Joe Walsh – Look What I Did! – The Anthology”

Marquette Reunion Class of 1987 / Surrender Dorothy & R. Mutt @ Shank Hall July 28 9:00

It turns out that the Marquette Reunion Class of 1987  has arranged for Surrender Dorothy, R. Mutt, and the Gracie Lou Revue to play at a reunion-associated event at Shank Hall (1434 Farwell Ave, Milwaukee WI) on July 28th, beginning at 9:00 pm.

Even though the event is confirmed, due to the way the reunion committee is organized, we’re not sure how much information about this will be made part of the official MU reunion information packet.

Shank Hall is an excellent venue for live music, so it should be a good time! The MU event site is here, and the Class of 1987 FaceBook page is here.

And . . . as long as we’re on the subject . . . “JiggleFest” is on Sept 15th this year, at Bradford Beach