Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Treadmill That Couldn't...

Using a treadmill probably is not as healthy as walking outside around your house.

But city streets don't seize up and catch fire when you're trying to stay fit.

We're not talking "second-hand" smoke here.

It happened quickly just as I finished my daily half-hour routine.

The belt jerked and jolted me as it slammed to a stop.

I maintained my balance and saw smoke rising and a bright red glow down around the motor area.

Flipped off the power switch and grabbed a handy fire extinguisher.

Pulled the pin and aimed the nozzle "at the base of the fire."

White powder shot forth and smothered whatever was going on in there.

The smoke alarm let me know it was working.

I turned the treadmill over and gave another shot directly at the motor housing.

Then I opened the shop door, rolled the exhaust fan to the opening and started clearing out the smoke and white powder still lingering in the air.

My "gym" was my dad's 50' x 20' workshop.

Because he worked with wood, fire was a fear and he kept many small red 2-pound fire extinguishers around.

I've added a few more around the house and I check to make sure the arrow on the dial stays in the green.

That means it's charged and ready to use.

The one I grabbed does not have a date on it but, when the 9-year old treadmill suddenly quit and flared, it snuffed the problem nicely.

Hmmm. How to find someone who made a New Year's resolution to exercise. And now uses his fancy treadmill just to hang his exercise clothes on.

I mean, I have to continue to try and stay fit.

Don't want to end up as a "couch potato."

(Click on pictures for more detail.)

Think I got the last treadmill at Sears.

Guess I'll start my search there. Thanks for stopping by.

Check the batteries in your smoke detector.

Labels: , , , , ,

Saturday, April 27, 2013

"...and the Silver Bullet Band."

Oh, and in front of the band is Bob Seger.

I was seated SO close, I could not get all of the band in one shot. Yikes. Nice complaint!

The horn section is on a riser to the right and a grand piano player.

A grand piano and a fellow playing it who also was pretty grand.

I had seen Seger once before, years ago but this show was better.

Longer show, great song list, 14-people on stage backing him.

Here's your 1960s Rock & Roll master from Detroit.

 Four decades. So far

Sitting in the 5th row means if you were any closer, you'd probably have to pick up a guitar and play.

Or perhaps hoist an over-sized saxophone. Big and shiny.

Yes, the man goes by the name Alto Reed but - checking around - I found he really answers to Tom.

He's been with Silver Bullet for about 35 years and is a big part of the band's sound and success.

Seger played many, many of his hits for us this night including songs from his 1975 "Live Bullet" album that finally brought him into the national spotlight.

Turn The Page (On the road) marked his shift from a popular regional band to a national one.

His 1976 follow up album "Night Moves" hammered home that this was gritty rock and roll and captured the strong spirit of the 1970s live concerts.

When he sang the title song, it demonstrated his intensity and emotional power, descriibing a young man's sexual discovery and bittersweet passage into adulthood.

Robert Clark "Bob" Seger is a great rock & roll singer, songwriter, guitarist and pianist.

He showed us all of that, along with a friendly, comfortable presence on stage.

The Grammy Award winner was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.

He hinted that his future plans would be a major change for him.

 No more touring? No more recordings?

"The end is imminent, but not in sight," he stated.

Just before the show started, I glanced up to see 2 of the 3 lighting guys climbing into position.

VERY high above the stage.

I noted the safety harnesses they all wore.

They handled the "follow spots" that evening, keeping the bright light emphasis where it belonged.

(Click on the photos for more details.)

Two concerts in Charlotte within 3 weeks.

April has been a busy musical month and I saw a LOT of big trucks on the highways.

Be careful out there.

Thanks for stopping by.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Short show at the Pour House...

Most shows at the Pour House in West Ashley start late. An "early show" means it begins before 11 pm.

The regulars start coming in around 11 no matter what time the musicians actually start.

Read carefully: it might say DOORS open at 8 and the music starts at 9.

The opening act might start around 9 or later. That happened a few nights ago when "Paul and the Tall Trees" actually began at 9:50 and finished their part a scant 25 minutes later.

The Extraordinaires - the headliner's band - then took the stage and started playing.

Good sounds. Nice active horn section.

After two or three songs, the MC stepped to the mic to announce "Let's give him a great big Charleston, South Carolina welcome!!"

Then, the  STAR headliner of the night, Charles Bradley, exploded onto the stage.

He has been called "The Screaming Eagle of Soul" and, as a young man,  performed as a James Brown impersonator under the name of "Black Velvet."

He showed quite a few of Brown's moves - often dropping down into a split - and playing around with the microphone, hoisting it and the stand into the air.

Not sure what he does to protect his voice but he was indeed singing, screaming and shouting...a LOT. The fans loved it.

After about 25 minutes, he left the stage but came back shortly, wearing a different outfit.

Reading about Bradley online, it says he often comes into the audience for hugs at the end of the show.

The copy quotes him as saying "Not just the first few rows, I like to go all the way to the back of the room."

"That's where I used to stand to see shows and I want everyone to know I appreciate them."

At the end of this Thursday night show at the Pour House  -  just before midnight -  Bradley bounded off the stage  and, I guess, right out the side door.

We didn't see him or the band members again despite the heavy applause and chants of "one more song."

Charles Bradley missed a bunch of hugs from fans who had paid I felt an unusually high $18 cover charge at the door.

(Click on the pictures for more details.)

I didn't stop at the Merch Table for a copy of his second album "Victim of Love" that was released a few weeks ago.

The table was set up way at the back of the room.

My cat was surprised to see me home so early.

She noticed my colorful expensive wrist band.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Crossroads Blues concert...

The 2 times a year Blues Festivals actually are not "at" Kiawah. Nor "at" Seabrook

You don't have to go through security.

We park in the Newton's grocery store parking lot at Freshfields Village. It's on Johns Island between the two island gated communities

Arrived early enough to watch the final stages of the giant tent being erected on the village green.

This is the 9th annual Blues By The Sea and the second year (I think) of the tent being used.

I first saw the 40' x 90' tent in October 2011 and thought then it was a great idea.

It was purchased with Kiawah Island accommodations tax dollars and would ensure such events happen rain or shine.

Good for businesses and encourages more visitors to come check out the area. I'm sure concerts result in increased spending for dining, shopping and room nights.

Also don't remember seeing Food Trucks here before.

I was pleased to see a line forming for BBQ at the Low Country Street Eats truck.

There was a booth for a few years by Taco Spot and I regret I never tasted what they offered at the shows I attended at Freshfields.

I discovered them later next to Home Team BBQ in West Ashley. Glad I did. Check it out.

Gary Erwin, founder of these seaside events, is on keys (aka "Shrimp City Slim") as his new discovery Shelly Waters plays guitar and belts out songs.

Born in Louisiana in the heart of Cajun country, Shelly is known as the Swamp Pop Princess.

Yes, the fisheye lens effect has captured the entire stage...with a bit of distortion, as usual.

A cloudy day was predicted and the sun never did break through. It was pleasantly cool.

The rain held off until just a few minutes before the final act was finishing so the entire 2pm to 7pm was completed.
Professor Bottleneck (red jacket) on guitar and Harmonica Frank were born in Germany and play the Blues all over Europe.

Gary met them overseas and invited them to his Kiawah bash.

They were the opening act, followed by Gary and his band, featuring Miss Waters.

Next up was Frankie's Blues Mission, from Atlanta.

Their "mission," Frankie announced, is to present Blues, Jazz,  R&B and Zydeco with all the energy they can muster. And they did.

They were joined on stage by (L) Billy Flynn, who, as they say, has been a mainstay of Chicago Blues style music since the 1980s.

He was born in Green Bay, Wisconsin, only a 3- hour drive from Chicago, and got started when he was 14 years old.

Flynn plays with the show's headliner Billy Boy Arnold who came on to get the crowd up on its feet, dancin' to the beat.

This Chicago player, singer and songwriter took informal  harmonica lessons in 1948 when he was a 12-year old, from the legendary John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson..

His 1955 Vee Jay record had several songs that were covered in England by The Yardbirds, The Animals and David Bowie.

In the printed program, we were reminded this is his first performance in the Carolina Lowcountry.

It also was announced that the Accommodations Tax Committee has already approved funding for NEXT April in 2014.

There will be a 10th annual Blues By The Sea.

(Click on the photos for more details.)

The last time I saw Frankie's Blues Mission was on a cold February night, huddled in a plastic-lined hotel patio overlooking the harbor.

It was part of Gary's winter annual Blues Bash.

Glowing gas heaters fought hard to keep out the cold, the rain, the fog and the chilling wind.

Frankie and his crew had another "Mission".... Warm up the joint.

And, they did.

Today was a delightful Spring Day in Charleston.

The drummer "Clam Chop" waits for his set to begin, smoking and sipping a beer.

Admiring the bright azaleas.

He really is having a good time.

I could tell he is smiling and his beer looks cold.

A happy drummer.

Hard to beat.

A Frisbee Dad has had a lot of practice with his son.

"We've done this since he was 3-years old. He's good at it," he said proudly.

And displayed his fine Frisbee follow-through.

Nice Job Gary. Give yourself some

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Friday, April 12, 2013

High Tide in Hanahan...

I didn't realize it was even raining this afternoon.

A loud crack and then a deep thunder roll and the cat was at my feet mewing "Hey, make that stop."

She probably thought I was causing the noise and commotion. She knows me well.

It was really pouring down so I looked out over the deck and saw there was more standing water than I had ever seen before.

What to do? I grabbed my camera and an umbrella.

Oh, I don't mean there was actual flooding danger for my car.

But it sure was moving leaves all around the back yard.

And forming interwoven circles of rain drops in the puddles.

It was starting to slack off - "Hey Kitty, no problem, I took care of it" - but I stayed up on the deck.

Just found another good use of having a zoom lens for the first time in many years.

My Mom and Dad moved up here to Hanahan back in 1962 and never spoke of any real flooding in the neighborhood.

I grew up in Ansonborough back in the day (1950s) and we were spared high water there too.

So, rain and puddles to me are just pretty things to photograph.

From under an umbrella. With my feet dry.

Predictions are for a sunny weekend with temps in the upper 70s.

There's an outdoor Blues By The Sea concert down in Freshfields Village I want to attend. They announced it's "rain or shine."

Last year the tourism officials at Kiawah Island bought a huge white tent .... just to make sure shows go on as planned.

(Click on the photos for more detail.)

When I came back in with my camera, the cat came out from under the bed.

She thinks I cleared it all up.


Labels: , , , , , ,

Monday, April 08, 2013

Un-banning Cameras...

It used to be that cameras were not allowed in clubs or music venues.

House of Blues in Myrtle Beach comes to mind.  "Your film will be seized" was warned before digital.

By the entrance was a small room with a sign: Pick Up Your Camera Here.

The PAC in North Charleston and the downtown Charleston Music Hall also tried to keep wicked cameras out of their performances.

"Pirating music" with recording devices or making "bootleg" copies we were told cheated the singer or band member.

I've heard  "No professional Cameras allowed," which was defined as one having a removable lens.

But then phones-with-cameras appeared Yikes.

At the Pour House a few nights ago, I prepared to take a picture of Rachael Price, lead singer of Lake Street Dive, and a voice close to my ear whispered "Please, no flash." 

It was the doorman who had taken my "Cover Charge" at the door. Hope he also told the person in front of me.

Home Team - at both West Ashley and Sullivan's Island - hasn't stopped me from taking non-flash pictures. Even of a Zydeco squeezebox player named Johnny Ace.

Whoever added the annoying bright flash on cell phone cameras must have disliked musicians.

The Music Farm - far as I know - has never banned cameras. You catch odd shots.

One night James Thackery's drummer surprised us by moving away from his elevated drum set and marched forward to a steady military drum beat.

I've spent late evenings there enjoying Robert Randolph & The Family Band and many others.

Got some very nice pictures from in front of the stage and from the balcony on either side.

The Pour House offers close up action with your camera as well as having the best sound mix in the area.

Here Rachael Price of LSD, belts a finish to her song.

It helped that the odd placement of the drummer Mike Calabrese on stage right gave me an almost over-his-shoulder view.

Mike Olsen on trumpet & guitar and Bridget Kearney plays the upright bass.

More and more acts are using "elaborate" light shows that add to the entertainment factor.

Earlier in the week I was at the Po' Ho' to see Joy Kills Sorrow.

This talented group featured Matt Arcara and his flat-picking talents so I used software to make him a "Poster Boy" for the evening.

Lead singer is Emma Beaton and Zoe Guigueno is bass.

Wes Corbett plays banjo and Jake Jolliff plays a sweet-toned mandolin.

Emma quipped that without the two ladies, it could be called "Band of Beards."

Because I don't use flash, I feel I'm almost invisible.

Especially in a room filled with phone cameras.

(Click on the photos for more details.)

Thanks for stopping by.

Please use your phone cameras responsibly.

Turn off the flash.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Meanwhile, down at the DMV...

The S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles office on Leeds Avenue is sort of a gamble.

Sometimes you breeze in, do your business and are out very quickly.

Other times you stand in line to get to the point where you can stand in line.

Or, more precisely, where you are assigned a number and take a seat and wait to be called.

My driver's license renews this month so I popped over there about 3:30 on Friday.

The line snaked out the door. Ouch.

You shuffle forward and eventually you have your number.

Hmmm..I see they've added something new to help pass the time.

Large Flat-screen tv monitors. With trivia.

Sports headlines. National news updates.

$uccess $tories. "Did you know?" factoids.

And paid advertisers.

Just like you see at airports.

While I sat there ads flashed up on the screen for Trident Tech, State Farm auto insurance, Holt Transmission service, David Hood, Attorney At Law, Road Warriors, Driver's Choice auto insurance, SC HELP mortgage assistance.

But then my number was called and flashed on the screen. Time to go get my picture taken.

Looked at my watch...only been there 42 minutes.

Not bad.

All set for another 5 years.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, April 04, 2013

50 Years Of Playing The Blues...

Went to a weekday concert on Tuesday.  Up in Charlotte.

To hear a fantastic Blues legend.

First time I recall seeing Eric Clapton close-shaved.

He always wore that "stubble effect" growth.

He had it when I saw him before - in 2007 - also in Charlotte.

But his music .... ah yes, the music.

I had a good seat - on the aisle - in the 12th row. The sound was excellent. So was my view.

People would rush up the aisle past me to take a picture, closely pursued by a Security person, who politely said they needed to return to their seat.

And they would snap a picture , turn and go back down the aisle.

There were a few cameras but mainly, the fans used their phones to take away a souvenir photo.

Some persisted and were slow to respond but Security really didn't seem to have a problem with people taking pictures. How refreshing.

They mainly were concerned with keeping the aisles clear.

An eight-person band backed Eric.

Two backup singers, keyboardist, drummer, bassist, second guitar, mandolin and piano man.

A tight group that has played together enough to be a cohesive unit. Knowing when to play, how long and when to step aside. Smooth.

Eric began the evening, standing at center stage.

At least an hour into the show, a chair was brought out and most of the band stepped away.

He sat and played an amazing acoustic set before standing again.

He has a HUGE array of songs that were known and loved by the audience.

He played many Tuesday night.

The sound, as I said, was great. The overall staging and lighting was superior.

You expect a lot when a big ticket touring super star comes to town.

It's mind-boggling to think that the stage was bare when the trucks pulled in.

All of the effects, lights, mics and speakers are moved from city to city by experienced technicians, stagehands and roadies.

And, then, it's all packed up and headed to the next concert, starting even as we are slowly shuffling toward the exits.

The Time-Warner Cable Arena is huge. Seats about 18,000.

If you come out after the show and turn the wrong way, it's quite a walk to get back to where you started.

I know this for a fact.

Locals call the venue The Cable Box.

By the way, all of these pictures were taken from the same spot in the 12th row.

My newest camera, the Canon sx260 has given me a 20x optical zoom lens to bring me in close after starting with a fine wide-angle that can take in the whole stage.

Appreciated the no-hassle attitude of Security and I even complimented one of the guys on my way out.

Don't do THAT too often.

(Click on the pictures to see more detail.)

Inside I saw "authorized"  t-shirts on sale for $25 but didn't buy one this time.

They looked nice but I still have my 2006-2007 Tour one at home.

There also was a $75 poster that came with a protective sturdy mailing tube.

For that price, I hope it was signed by Eric.

Labels: , , , , , , ,