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A Quick Thought On Memorial Day

This is a repost of last year’s Memorial Day post. I don’t think I could say it any better.

While it’s never wrong to thank a veteran for his or her service, that is not what today is for. Save that for Veteran’s Day. Today we remember the ones who never got to take off the uniform, those that never came home, the ones that paid that ultimate sacrifice. So we do not “celebrate” Memorial Day, we respect what it stands for. Now granted I will have my cookout and drink several adult beverages, after all, it is an extra day off of work. But in the back of my mind, and hopefully yours too, we will remember our brothers and sisters of all branches of the military and hope that their sacrifice wasn’t in vain. As an Army retiree and the proud father of a soldier, today weighs heavily on me and my family, I am so very grateful for those that served before me and after me. So lift a glass of whatever beverage you choose, and thank those we can only remember, those who fell on the battlefields the world over. And pray that the wars will end, and peace will reign. Amen.

Peace,
B

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100?!?!?!

In all the hubbub and craziness of this weekend, with it being St. Paddy’s day, the last weekend of Bike Week, and one of my former soldiers and his wife coming for a visit, I missed that I now have 100 followers on this little blog!

This just blows me away!! It may not be much, but it’s more than I ever thought would be hanging around. It has been a very emotional weekend, but this just is the icing on the cake.

Partying like it’s 1992 all over again!

For those that have been here since the beginning, a most loving “Thank You!!”, and for those new to this experience, a most hardy “Welcome!!”

And we’re under two months until we go to Scotland!!

Peace,
B

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What’s Stuck In My Head – January 3

Now, this takes me back to high school (shudder – I hated those days). Back in those days, I was a band geek. I stall am a geek, just no longer a member of a band. But in theory, it’s all the same. The reason this song is stuck today is probably because I have a little mini-reunion with some of my high school band members tonight. </sigh>

As a trumpet player the band Chicago (A.K.A. Chicago Transit Authority) was my go to band in my late teens. The way they blended rock, horns and political statements was mesmerizing to me. They used a rather unique lettering or font on the album covers. I even started making any papers I had to turn in at school in this font, at least for any titles and drop cap type of format. Mainly hoping it help hide the usual lame prose I was turning in! Doubt it helped any.

This track is from the first album Chicago Transit Authority released way back in 1969. It was 1970 that I picked up the trumpet, and this song jumped out at me immediately.

While gaining some success as a cover band, the group began working on original songs. In June 1968, at manager James William Guercio‘s request, the Big Thing moved to Los AngelesCalifornia, signed with Columbia Records and changed its name to Chicago Transit Authority. It was while performing on a regular basis at the Whisky a Go Go nightclub in West Hollywood that the band got exposure to more famous musical artists of the time. Subsequently, they were the opening act for Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix. As related to group biographer, William James Ruhlmann, by Walt Parazaider, Jimi Hendrix once told Parazaider, “‘Jeez, your horn players are like one set of lungs and your guitar player is better than me.'”
Their first record (April 1969), Chicago Transit Authority, is a double album, which is rare for a band’s first release. The album made it to No. 17 on the Billboard 200 album chart, sold over one million copies by 1970, and was awarded a platinum disc. The album included a number of pop-rock songs – “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?“, “Beginnings“, “Questions 67 and 68“, and “I’m a Man” – which were later released as singles. For this inaugural recording effort the group was nominated for a Grammy Award for 1969 Best New Artist of the Year.


According to Cetera, the band was booked to perform at Woodstock in 1969, but promoter Bill Graham, with whom they had a contract, exercised his right to reschedule them to play at the Fillmore West on a date of his choosing, and he scheduled them for the Woodstock dates. Santana, which Graham also managed, took Chicago’s place at Woodstock, and that performance is considered to be Santana’s “breakthrough” gig. A year later, in 1970, when he needed to replace headliner Joe Cocker, and then Cocker’s intended replacement, Jimi Hendrix, Graham booked Chicago to perform at Tanglewood which is considered by some to be a “pinnacle” performance.


After the release of their first album, the band’s name was shortened to Chicago to avoid legal action being threatened by the actual mass-transit company of the same name.[19]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago_(band)

The track I’m linking to below is the original album version, not the radio edit. So it has the original piano intro that is cut for radio. But, more important to me, is Lee Loughnane’s trumpet solo, which is where the radio version usually starts. This solo, along with Chuck Mangione and Maynard Ferguson, is the reason I picked up the trumpet, to begin with.

The song was not released as a single until two tracks from the band’s second album, “Make Me Smile” and “25 or 6 to 4“, had become hits. It became the band’s third straight Top 10 single, peaking at  No.  7 in the U.S. and No. 2 in Canada. Because the song straddled years in its chart run, it is not ranked on the major U.S. year-end charts. However, in Canada, where it charted higher, it is ranked as both the 59th biggest hit of 1970 and the 37th biggest hit of 1971.
The original uncut album version opens with a brief “free form” piano solo performed by Lamm. A spoken verse by Lamm is mixed into the sung final verse of the album version. The single version does not include the “free form” intro, and was originally mixed and issued in mono. A stereo re-edit (beginning from the point where the “free form” intro leaves off) was issued on the group’s Only the Beginning greatest hits CD set.
A 2:54 shorter edit (without opening fanfare or piano break, starting at the trumpet solo) was included on the original vinyl version of Chicago’s Greatest Hits, but was not included on the CD version. This shorter edit was included on the CD version of the compilation album If You Leave Me Now. This version was used as a radio edit version. A shorter version at 2:46 (starting midway through the trumpet solo) was issued as a promotional single, which finally appeared on 2007’s The Best of Chicago: 40th Anniversary Edition.
A live version on the Chicago at Carnegie Hall box set presents an expanded version of the “free form” intro, which itself is given its own track.
Various versions of the song receive airplay; the promotional single edit is the version played on certain ‘Classic Hits’ stations and 1970s radio shows. For example, radio station KKMJ would play the promo edit version on its ‘Super Songs’ of the 70s weekend. Classic Hits KXBT would also play the promo edit, and by contrast the True Oldies Channel would play the 3:20 single version. An AM radio station in Boston (WJIB 740 which also simulcasts in Maine as WJTO 730) plays the original vinyl Chicago IX edit.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Does_Anybody_Really_Know_What_Time_It_Is%3F

I apologize for the lame video, but like I said, I used this version since it has the original piano intro. Just start the video to listen to the song, and go do something more visually entertaining.

Peace,
B

P.S. If by chance, you need me to help with something, anything, this evening to get me out of this mini reunion please let me know..  Not that I’m looking for an excuse or anything…

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Veteran’s Day Smoke-Out (And A Birthday)

(I originally was calling this event a “Throw Down”, but since I was the only one running the smoker, that title just didn’t fit. Kinda hard to “throw down” against yourself!)

Yes, I’m a bit late, but it was a very busy weekend. I seriously doubt I had more than 8 hours total sleep between Friday night and Sunday morning. Keep reading and you’ll understand.

The Sunday party was excellent. We had about 30 – 35 people show up. We had friends and family come in from an hour or more away, and folks from just down the street. Several kids for granddaughter-the-younger’s birthday.  Lots of food, craftbeer, whisky (and whiskey), and did I mention food??

I picked up a not quite 10-pound pork butt and a not quite 16-pound beef brisket from my local butcher on Wednesday. While I have smoked a brisket this size before, I have never smoked a butt ever! I was somewhat apprehensive but very eager to try.

I started the butt about noon on Saturday. The plan was to heavily smoke it (I used a combination of hickory, cherry and apple woods) until it reached about 140º F internal temperature. I had recently purchased a little device to help maintain the temperature in my big ol’ smoker and to keep a better eye on the meat temperature as well. And I had nothing but problems with this device.

It’s called a “CyberQ Cloud”, put out by The BBQ Gurus. I had already done a test run two weeks ago to make sure it was working as expected. One excellent feature is that it can connect to my home Wi-Fi setup and I can sit inside and watch a webpage that has all my temps, timers, and just about anything else being monitored. But for whatever reason, it just would not connect to my Wi-Fi even though it showed it as available in the list. Iimg_20181110_105555.jpg tried calling the support 800 number, but they’re not open on the weekends? Seriously? You have to figure that most people BBQ on the weekends (unlike my family – we’ll fire up a grill anytime!). Yet there was nobody to answer the phone. “Please leave a message and we’ll get back to you” is NOT good customer support. I even tried to contact them via their Twitter, and never got a response.  I could still use the unit, I just had to run in and out to check the monitor since it wouldn’t connect to the cloud.

We used “Cool Smoke Rub” all over the outside and injected it with a basic solution of apple juice, salt & sugar and other stuff.  The butt reached the target temp about 6PM. I let it sit a little longer while we ate dinner.

MVIMG_20181110_175152

After the smoker but before wrapping and into the oven.

Then I wrapped it in foil and placed it in a low (225º F) oven for overnight.  It didn’t need any more smoke since I had very heavy smoke going the entire time it was in the smoker.

So it was time to trim the brisket, inject with a beef broth solution and dry brine it. It would not get its “Big Bad Beef Rub” until tomorrow morning.

The plan was to get up at 3AM Sunday morning so I could get the brisket on the smoker by 4AM. Due to the problems I had with the CyberQ, I changed my alarm to 2AM to give me time to get it working again.  And since the universe hates me, I was up and out of bed at 1AM. What a life.

It took a factory reset to get the CyberQ reconnected. Thankfully there is ample documentation on the web for the device. It only took about 45 minutes to get it back up and connected. Whew!

So the brisket when on the smoker about an hour earlier than planned. No worries, it can be held in a faux cambro (basically an empty plastic beer cooler) for up to 5 hours without a problem.

MVIMG_20181111_030142

This what a brisket looks like at 0 dark 30!

The brisket probably weighed in around 14 1/2 pound or so after trimming. And since I didn’t separate the two muscles that make up a brisket, I knew this would take quite a bit of time. Following a very basic plan for brisket is simple.  Smoke (I used all mesquite for this brisket) until it hits the “stall”.  This usually occurs around 150º – 170º F.  Mine kicked in about 160º F.  I then wrapped it in butcher paper in a process known as the “Texas Crutch”.  Some use foil for this step, but I prefer to use the paper. I believe it leaves the “bark” (that wonderful outer crispy edge) much dryer and crunchy. It also will help cut down on the cooking time. Once the brisket is wrapped, you return it to the smoker (or an oven at 235º F or so) until it reaches an internal temp somewhere around 195º F or so. When you hit the mark at 195º then cut the point muscle off from the flat muscle. I then test the flat for tenderness by sliding my temp probe into various areas of the meat. If it slides in “like buttah” then you’re good to go, if not you can continue to cook until it reaches the 203º to 205º F range. But be careful, it’s very easy to overcook and dry it out!

When I separate the point, they become the wonderful concoction known as “burnt ends”. What I like to do, and Wifey® requires that I do this any time I’m doing brisket,

IMG_20181111_135412

Chunking the point

is to chunk the point up and throw in the pan that has been set in the smoker to catch all the drippings along with some warmed Au Jus and then covered and set in a warm oven to braise for a time. There are no “set times” for any of this. Every piece of meat and every smoker are different. Throw in other variables like weather (I had to pull the brisket off the smoker early due to a sudden rainstorm and finish it in the oven), and you can’t go by time. The temperature and tenderness of the meat is what makes it done.

These little flavor bombs are damn tasty. And look how juicy those are.

On Sunday, the CyberQ redeemed itself. It worked as expected, and I enjoyed sitting in the garage with my music playing and watching my cook being recorded on the web.

The butt shredded up very nicely! I had also made a vinegar sauce for the butt. As much as Wifey® loves her brisket, I love pulled pork even more. My grandmother taught me that if any meat is seasoned and cooked properly it won’t need sauce.  Seeing as she had, as a widow, at the height of the great depression, a successful BBQ restaurant, I’ll believe her. But I do like a vinegar sauce with my pulled pork. MVIMG_20181111_172713

And I’m very happy to say that several folks said the magic words – “Best I’ve ever had!” and “It didn’t need any sauce”.  I take that as the highest compliment to be had. Thank you all!

I guess it was a good cook in any event. With all that meat, there was damn near nothing left. I was really hoping to have a pulled pork sandwich from lunch Monday, as I think I had one burnt end, one slice of brisket, and maybe two tastes of the pork.  I did graze on all the other side dishes that friends brought, and some we made, but I didn’t get much of the meat.

 

This is all that was left.. (And I brought it for lunch today!)

MVIMG_20181112_080139

A little bit of pork, and one lonely brisket slice!

And my beautiful granddaughter-the-younger had a good birthday with her friends as well. I do believe her uncle’s (son-the-elder) gift was the hit of the party! A Harry Potter Lego set.

I have no idea what time it was when I fell asleep. I remember most everybody leaving, especially those that had to drive an hour or more. All I remember was sitting down with a nice craftbeer and nodding off. It was a very long day. It started at 1AM, and didn’t end until that evening. I’m way too old to be up that long. Wifey® and I were smart enough to take Monday off. We knew that we’d be in no shape to do anything. I slept most of the day away.

Here are some links to the recipes and instructions I’ve been using.

Amazing Ribs. Meathead Goldwyn’s website. I have used many of the FREE recipes several times, and for this cook I used both his Big Bad Beef Rub Recipe and the Lexington Dip North Carolina Hill Country BBQ Sauce Recipe.  He has a great book too.  Meathead: The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling available everywhere.

Smoking Meat. Jeff Phillips website. This was the first website I found several years ago. I have used many of the resources available here. For this cook I based my pork butt on this guide.

Cool Smoke.  BBQ Champion Tuffy Stone’s website. The website doesn’t have much in the way of free recipes, but his book; Cool Smoke: The Art of Great Barbecue has a crazy amount of good stuff. 

CyberQ Cloud. The BBQ Gurus have a whole line of BBQ stuff. From full on smokers, to tongs and other accessories.

I hope this little post was something enjoyable for you to read. Hopefully, the food porn didn’t make you drool too much!

And thanks again, to everyone that came over. I enjoyed myself, and I think ya’ll did too! (And a special thanks to those that helped put away the food, the grills and other parts and pieces after I had crashed for the night!)

Peace,
B

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P.S. Who’s up for Turkey Day???

Music Habits Tag

My wonderful friend Kiersten over at Once Upon A Spine (you should go read her blog for some great book reviews and recommendations) tagged me for this post.

So, to start off, thank you m’lady.

As with any tag type of post, there are rules. Why are there always rules???  But here they are:

RULES:

  • Tag the creator (did that)
  • Thank the person that tagged you (did that too)
  • Answer all the questions (will do next)
  • Tag 3 other bloggers (gonna be tough…)

DO YOU DOWNLOAD SONGS OR STREAM ON APPS LIKE SPOTIFY, WINK?

I do both.  I have premium accounts on both Spotify and Pandora, plus an Amazon Prime account.  My music comes from all over. I do download some of my Spotify playlist to listen to at times. Spotify limits downloads to just over 3000 songs, and my current playlist is much longer than that, so I can’t download all of it.

WHAT’S YOUR CURRENT FAVORITE SONG?

No way I could limit myself to one favorite song. Whatever could be listed as “my favorite” will change depending on many factors. And since I’m stuck in the 60’s and 70’s (with just a little of the 80’s thrown in), all my favorites have become “classics”. Which is funny, since when I was a radio DJ (so very long ago) we called it “Album Oriented Radio” (AOR). I don’t consider myself a “classic” by any means.  But, “No Reply” is my favorite song by The Beatles, “Stars” and “As The Raven Flies” by Dan Fogelberg, “Wild World” by Yusef/Cat Stevens (his music saved me during the troublesome years of High School), “Into The Mystic”  by Van Morrison, “John Barleycorn Must Die” (Wifey® hates this song) by Traffic, and I could go on and on. I won’t go into the Blues side of things.

LAST SONG YOU LISTENED TO?

“Nothing Compares 2 U” by Prince (did you know he wrote it?) is currently playing.

WHO ARE YOUR ALL-TIME FAVORITES?

This list could go on and on and on…

  • The Beatles, of course
  • Dan Fogelberg
  • Yusef/Cat Stevens
  • Any combination, or solo venture, of Eric Clapton and Stevie Winwood
  • Any combination, or solo venture, of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
  • Bruce Hornsby (with or without The Range)
  • The Hollies
  • Van Morrison
  • Joe Cocker
  • Heart
  • Joe Bonamassa (especially when teamed with Beth Hart)
  • Tedeschi/Trucks Band

HAVE YOU BEEN TO ANY CONCERTS?

Way to many to list here. Heart (three times), Linda Ronstadt, John Denver, Crosby & Nash, Blue Oyster Cult, Firefall, Alabama (when I was a country DJ).  And the list continues.

DO YOU PLAY ANY INSTRUMENTS?

I play guitar (about 50 years now), both electric and acoustic, but prefer acoustic. I also play around with harmonicas. I’ve been told I have a very nice singing voice too.

DO YOU PLAY YOUR SONGS ON SHUFFLE OR CHOOSE A PLAYLIST?

I create my own playlists, then shuffle it.

NAME ONE SONG THAT YOU ALWAYS SKIP WHEN IT COMES UP ON SHUFFLE

Since I create my own playlists, this doesn’t happen often. But, like Kiersten, I will always skip “Stairway To Heaven” and anything by Skynyrd. Way too much air-time when I was younger.

DO YOU PREFER PLAYING SONGS ON SPEAKER OR LISTENING IN EAR/HEADPHONES?

Speakers when I can, but usually earbuds (so I can turn it up to 11 and not bother anyone).

IS THERE ANY POPULARLY PLAYED SONG THAT YOU DON’T LIKE?

Don’t know. I tend to avoid what passes as “music” these days (and get off my lawn, you damn whippersnappers!!!)

WHERE DO YOU USUALLY FIND NEW MUSIC?

My sons recommend artists to me now and then. Some I have added to my playlists (Shinedown, Theory of a Deadman etc..).

DO YOU LIKE SONGS BASED ON TUNES/BEAT OR LYRICS?

My hearing is basically shot. (See the headphone question) So usually the melody and counter-melody are what catches my attention. I like acoustic guitars and vocal harmonies the most.

NAME ONE SONG THAT YOU THINK EVERYONE SHOULD LISTEN TO.

“American Pie” by Don Mclean. A great story in a song. (But I totally agree with The Hokey Pokey).

I TAG:

America On Coffee

LittleFears

Yeah, I know, I’m supposed to tag 3 people.  But as Meatloaf sings “Two Out Of Three Ain’t Bad”. (See what I did there?)

Peace,
B

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The Year Was 1977

Yes, that was a lifetime ago. I’ll bet some of you reading this were not alive. There may even a possibility that your parents weren’t around then.

My best friend from my junior year of high school, even until now, is Maurice (I’ll leave the last names out to protect the guilty). Maurice and I, or Mo as he goes by now (which is funny since I have a niece named Melissa that also goes by Mo – guess it’s a unisex thing), used to sit and dream big dreams. And we were very seldom under the influence of anything other than, to quote Zonker Harris of “Doonesbury”, “Just getting high on life and America”.  Oh, you probably don’t know anything of “Doonesbury”, here’s a quick tutorial.

One of our dreams was to open a gym in Austin Texas. Mo was very much into bodybuilding, me not so much. When I left for basic training, October of 1976, I stood 5′ 10″ tall and weighed 119 lbs provided I had eaten a large meal beforehand. Mo, on the other hand, stood about 6′ 2″, and had to weigh about 225, maybe 250. And it was all solid muscle. My niece’s little girlfriends (we’re talking 8th graders here, and we are both around 20), loved it when Mo came to the house to visit. Much fawning and adoration went his way.

But to get back to the story. We made up a corporation “The Body Shop” that would be the parent company of all our other businesses. He would have his gym, and I would have my music recording studio and publishing company. Of course, none of this ever happened, nor did we really expect it too. It was just a way to waste time during the day before going out to drink.

Our only other pastime was “The Great Search For The Blue Nehi”. But that’ll be another post. (And Frodo has nothing on our search).

This weekend, instead of going to the St. Augustine Celtic Music Festival like we had planned, instead Wifey® and I cleaned out the closet of what used to my home office. It’s now the bedroom our granddaughter-the-younger. She is 6 years old, so I guess it’s about time we cleaned it out so she has a place to hang her dresses. Of course, my Awia quadrophonic reel-to-reel tape deck, my dual cassette dubbing deck, my turntable and my 4 channel mixing board are still in the closet, simply because I have no other place to put them. I still need to find a place for all my old music books.

I’m sure you’re asking “just where is this story going”? Well, this something I found while cleaning out the closest, buried in the middle of my music books as well.

S&amp;H

I know this very hard to read.. transcription to follow

Some notes: Mo has always liked to try out different names. In this note, he uses “Hezikiah”. He once tried to set up a “New Persona” using the name Merlyn Cully Cross, which he found in a book and was rather taken with. I think he only managed to get a library card with that name. I have had the nickname “Skeeter” for as long as I can remember. Also, there should be a “G Clef” (for you music people between the “Skeet” and “Music”, but apparently this WordPress editor doesn’t have that).

The transcription;

Recorded by “The Foolish Brothers Band” on the “Would You Believe This?” album: “Late For My Own Funeral”.

(c) 1977 SkeetMusic, rights for the world administered by S&H Music, Austin, Tx.

(P) 1977 S&H Music, a division of The Body Shop, Inc., Austin, Tx.

Note: Although this has been copyrighted in July of 1977 and recorded in August of 1977, as of August of 1979 it has not been released due to the fact that “The Foolish Brothers Band” cannot get a major recording company to finance their “Would You Believe This?” label.

The Foolish Brothers Band is (are);

Skeeter: Lead Vocals; Lead & Rhythm Electric Guitars; Acoustic 6 & 12 string guitars; Acoustic guitar body; Various & sundry things lying around the room that make noise; foul words.

Hezikiah: Background Vocals; Lead & Rhythm electic guitars; Acoustic 6 & 2 string guitars; Acoustic guitar body; Anything else lying about the room that makes noises; Dirty language

R.M; D.M; P.B; M.W; K.W; T.W; A.S; L.S; (“The Get Outtahere Choir”); funny little noises in the background

So there you have. A little piece of nostalgia from my misspent youth.  Hope you enjoyed this. I know finding this little scrap of paper gave me great joy, and hopefully, you got a kick out of it too.

And Mo, we definitely need to get together again real soon. Love ya man!

Peace,
B