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Kitty Dunn

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Mayflies: faschinating, or horrifying? You decide.

The mayflies were out in full force over the past couple days. Now I've heard about these insects over the years, but have never experienced a mayfly swarm. I think I'm pretty happy about that.

Apparently the mayflies were so thick they showed up on National Weather Service radar! This fact intrigued me, so I thought I'd do a little investigating to learn more about these critters that show up in such massive hordes.

Lo and behold, I found this informative, and creepy, video on youtube.

Sleep tight, and don't let the mayflies bite.

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RIP Johnny Winter--that guy sure could play

"For me, blues is a necessity."

That's a quote from blues guitar great Johnny Winter, who died on Wednesday in Zurich, Switzerland. He came to prominence in the late 1960's after he was featured in a story in Rolling Stone magazine, put out 20 albums and produced some others that were pretty amazing--three for Muddy Waters, and the hit song "Rock and Roll Hootchie Koo" for Rick Derringer.

I got a chance to see Johnny Winter twice--first at the Belleville Blues Festival, where I got to introduce his band (along with Triple M's Gabby Parsons), and again at the Crossroads Guitar Festival in 2010. While he appeared to be quite frail on both those occasions, he could still play the hell out of the guitar.

Here he is at Crossroads, playing what might be the BEST version of Bob Dylan's "Highway 61."

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Warren Buffett and Paul McCartney: the conversation

By now you've probably seen that "selfie" taken by a kid in Nebraska with Warren Buffett and Paul McCartney sitting on a bench in the background. (No? Click here).

But I have something more exclusive..the transcript of the conversation these two rich guys had after they enjoyed a treat from a nearby ice cream shop.

Here's a portion:

McCartney: You never give me your money, you only give me your funny paper.

Buffett: And in the middle of negotiations, you break down. I never give you my number

McCartney: You only give me your situation.

Buffett: And in the middle of investigation, I break down.

(unintelligible garble)

McCartney: One sweet dream

Buffett: Pack up the bags and get in the limousine

McCartney: Soon we'll be away from here. Step on the gas and wipe that tear away

(Disclaimer: I listened to Abbey Road A LOT over the years, and this may or may not be part of the Buffett/McCartney chat).

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The new Pink Floyd album won't be what you're hoping for

A lot of Pink Floyd fans got a little bit excited over the weekend, after the wife of David Gilmour announced that a new Pink Floyd album would be coming out this October.

Even though Roger Waters wouldn't be a part of it, the idea of the first new songs since Division Bell was certainly intriguing. But now a spokesman for the band says, in not so many words, that the new album will be made up of leftovers from the Division Bell sessions back in the early '90s...instrumentals and ambient music.

What? I guess some never-before-heard jams from that era could be interesting. But let's face it, it's not nearly as enthralling as the idea of brand new songs.

While we wait to see what comes of this new album, enjoy this video in which the band seems to be in an unusual mood.

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Johnny Cash/Sheryl Crow duet is pretty cool

Johnny Cash recorded a version of Sheryl Crow's 1996 song "Redemption Day" before he passed away...and now Crow makes use of it in a new video. The song, with back and forth vocals from each of them, is haunting, and made even more so through the images used in the video.

Usually I'm not a fan of resurrecting dead people for new performances, but somehow I think this one works. Do you agree?
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Beatles albums return in glorious mono!

Good news for vinyl junkies and Beatle fans. The Beatles organization is finally re-releasing the British versions of the band's catalog in mono!

What's the big deal about that? In the 1960s, the British economy was a bit sluggish, so most people who bought albums bought the mono versions, since they were around a buck cheaper. And so to the Beatles, the mono mixes of the album were much more important. For example, when the Sgt. Pepper album was mixed, all four Beatles were in the studio and had a say in the finished product (along with George Martin of course). But when the stereo version was mixed, no Beatles were present and it was done much more quickly.

What's extra cool about this re-release is that the records were cut without using any digital technology using detailed transfer notes made by the original cutting engineers, using a rigorously tested Studer A80 machine  to play back the precious tapes, and the new vinyl was cut on a 1980s-era VMS80 lathe.  The original album art and packing is also being recreated.

If you are a Beatle fan and have never heard the mono versions, you are in for a treat! There are so many differences on the Sgt. Pepper record alone. For example, the song "She's Leaving Home" is actually recorded at the correct speed!  The stereo version came out much slower than the band intended.

These mono LP's will come out September 9th on 180 gram vinyl, available individually or in a super fab box set (that will only set you back $374.98 and includes a free T-shirt!)  You can pre-order them now on the Beatles website.

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Listen to music, help kids!

Remember the '90s band Sister Hazel? Well they're going to be in Madison at the Majestic Theatre this Friday night (June 20th) for a benefit for Gio's Garden, along with opener Kings of Radio.

What's Gio's Garden? It's a great non-profit organization that helps families with special needs children up to age 6, helping them get access to needed services, and providing therapeutic respite care.

My buddy John Urban made this extremely cute video promoting the event. Be sure to watch until the end. It will definitely put a smile on your face.

Click here to buy tickets.

ROCK FOR RESPITE - THE RETURN OF BENICIO from John Urban on Vimeo.

 
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Who else read Gone Girl?

The book Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn was on bestsellers list for more than a year, and finally came out in paperback. I kept looking for it at used book stores, and finally got ahold of a copy last week. I read it in two days.

It tells the story of a man whose wife goes missing on their 5th anniversary. I can't tell you much more, I will give it away.

One thing I will tell you:  I have never before been so manipulated by a book. I was very excited to read this book because opinions on it were so far separated.

On the website goodreads, I gave it four stars, but did so reluctantly. The book completely sucked me in, but was driving me crazy at the same time. Who the heck is the protagonist here? I'm not accustomed to switching allegiances so many times in a book. This book was on the New York Times bestsellers list for over a year; I wonder how many people who bought it threw it across the room at some point!

What did you think of Gone Girl? I'd love to hear your opinion. In the meantime, check out this trailer of the movie version. It's coming out in October.
 
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A Kinks comeback? This could be awesome

So it looks like the Kinks may be getting back together. Both Ray and Dave Davies say they've been talking about getting the band back together, recording a new album and going on tour, and that drummer Mick Avory would be part of it.

Now the Davies brothers are famous for not getting along, but it looks like they agree that they don't want to reunite if it's just an "oldies tour," and Ray says he'd like to do some writing with his brother again.

A few years ago, I had a chance to interview Ray on the phone, and he told me he'll never run out of song ideas, because most of his songs are about characters he meets--and he carries a notebook around to jot down ideas at all times.

No timeline was announced for this reunion, but hopefully Ray and Dave can keep the fisticuffs to a minimum long enough for it to happen.

And I'm keeping my fingers crossed about them playing some of the old hits on the reunion tour.

Here's the last comback hit for the Kinks. When "Come Dancing" charted, they hadn't had a hit for ten years.


 

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D-Day 70 years later: Kitty's dad's story


This week marks the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the Allied invasion of Normandy. Twenty years ago I chatted on the phone with my dad about his experience there, and wrote it down so I wouldn't forget.  Here's a portion of that story:










The other day I asked my father if he was watching all the TV programs marking the 50th anniversary of D-Day.

"Why in the hell should I watch it? I lived it," he snapped, with more than a little attitude.

I'd heard a few stories over the years about my dad's five years in the Army Air Force, but on the 50th anniversary, I thought I needed a refresher course.

My dad, James T. Dunn, served from 1939-1945. He was a waist gunner and bombardier on B-17's and B-24's, and in June of 1944 was stationed just 50 miles from Omaha Beach. He spent 19 hours in the air on June 6, 1944, 15 of them on oxygen.

"We had to fly around for four hours before we could even get to our plane in line," he told me. "I saw planes I had only seen before in books. Every single plane the Allies had was up in the air. I bet planes that hadn't flown since World War I were up in the sky over France that day."

A weather front had moved in, so during his first mission that day, his crew didn't shoot or drop any bombs because it was too cloudy to see the targets. It was on his second D-Day mission that the real drama happened.

"We were supposed to be the lead plane, but somehow we got lost and didn't have any planes to lead. Even our two hotshot navigators had no idea where we were," he said.

My dad thought they were saved when they saw an airfield just ahead. Heading in for a landing, they were so close to the ground he said they could see a buggy being pulled by a brilliant white horse. "But then piles of dirt surrounding the airfield started shooting at us. A good chunk of our tail was cut off but somehow we got the hell out of there. We weren't sure if the fire was friend or foe, so we didn't dare shoot back," he said. "To this day, I didn't know if were were over Holland or Belgium."

Over the Atlantic Ocean, he said the tension increased and tempers flared.

"Then one of the guys put a handgun to the radio operator's head, shouting "Hampton, if you don't turn on that radio and get us some help, I'll blow your head off."  In a flagrant violation of the rules, Hampton broke radio silence. Then, he said, "two British Spitfires came to our rescue and we followed 'em in."

I asked my dad if that was the most scared he'd ever been in his life. He paused, and then told me he didn't have time to be scared. He said he was was "too busy doing his job," adding "but everyone sure did a lot of praying."

My dad, who passed away in 2004, received many medals for his service in World War II, including the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with three clusters. With his crew above, he's in the front row on the far right.
 

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