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Gabby Parsons
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Posts from June 2014

World's Worst iPod: Sugar Loaf "Don't Call Us, We'll Call You"

The trials and tribulations of a band trying to get a record contract are related in the 1975 hit "Don't Call Us, We'll Call You" by Sugar Loaf. This song, which was actually recorded two years earlier, made it up to #9 on the chart.

What's not to love about this song? A cameo by Wolfman Jack, the touch tones of the White House phone number...a Beatle reference?  This song has that and more.

One little tidbit for you--Sugar Loaf was originally called "Chocolate Hair," which they changed when they got a record deal. Good move!

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Four days gone by too fast

Bonnaroo is over and as I unpacked my bags, swept out the tent and caught up on my sleep I can only think about how incredible my time in Tennessee was.

Before I even start to attempt to convey my time there I have to thank Triple M for sending me there and for setting me up with guest passes. To have those extra perks that come with guest passes made Bonnaroo that much more special. What special perks? Well, there was the camping area that’s not even on the map and is filled with lots of shade and free showers. Plus, a guest hospitality tent set up with a big screen live streaming the headliners; special entrances into Centeroo, Which Stage and What Stage; bleachers at the What Stage; and a back entry so we didn’t have to wait in a long line of cars waiting to enter the camping area.

I did get to see my top four acts and was not disappointed. I had a great spot for Jake Bugg’s set, where the only time he spoke was to say ‘thank you.’ Otherwise, he just performed and I swear he looked a bit unsure of how to react to all the attention from the crowd. He didn’t need to make his hour about anything other than his music.

Jack White was mesmerizing, bringing music from the White Stripes through his solo work on Lazaretto to the audience. I used the bleacher seating to my advantage and didn’t leave until the last final notes of his encore. I think he ended up going two and a half hours and kept saying if we wanted him to keep going, he’d keep playing.

Avett Brothers were as great as I expected them to be. I did spend a bit of their slot making my way through the crowd of who-knows-how-many-thousands of people to find some friends but it was hard to not dance along with everyone else as I wove around the sea of swaying bodies.

But, the best performance I saw at Bonnaroo goes to Sir Elton John who was joined on stage by Ben Folds for one song and had Two Cellos perform with him. When I saw Two Cellos on stage I’m pretty sure I squealed just a bit. Things just fit together too well, from the visuals on the screen to the fact he didn’t spend much time talking to the audience to the Buzz Lightyear balloon launch during Rocket Man.  The only downside was that when Elton’s two hours were up, he didn’t play any encores. So after his performance, the few fireworks that were lit seemed awful lackluster.

Since Bonnaroo is filled with so much, I missed out on a lot of great music due to checking out other acts. I heard Arctic Monkeys put on a great show and that a group of people almost took out the Miller Stage after climbing on top of it. But, each day I saw four full sets from different bands that I’d never seen perform before or had even heard prior to the festival. Suggestions had me checking out St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Valerie June and the Glitch Mob.

What made Bonnaroo special was more than just the great music – it was the people I met. First, there were the camp neighbors. We had a couple who worked with a video production company that was interviewing artists (I offered to help with the Damon Albarn interview), the couple with Crazy Mountain Brewing Company who freely gave out six pack samplers, the pair who were also recipients of radio station contest, and the guys from California whose roommate worked with the company that produces the festival. They all had suggestions on what band to see and understood the pain of there never being any toilet paper in the port-a-potties. And those were just the people next to us. Others I saw in guest camping included musicians and the guys responsible for the Terminator and Point Break movie events. I can say there is nothing quite like walking past The Unlikely Candidates on your way to the shower.

Then there were the staff I saw every day as I walked to Centeroo. The security staff worked 12-hour shifts so there was plenty to time to chat. One kid who stood out was posted at the main venue entrance. He was super excited to report seeing Skrillex walking around backstage a few hours before his set. After standing in the sun for 12 hours and occasionally having to deal with angry people I would probably have wanted to call it a day. This kid instead headed to the main stage to watch shows before getting a couple hours of sleep. He and I exchanged a lot of high-fives, the unofficial greeting of Bonnaroo.

I also had the chance to spend time with some friends and get to know them a bit better.

I could probably go on about all the conversations I had with friendly strangers I encountered, but I won’t. The word friendly though barely covers what I encountered at Bonnaroo. Maybe it was something in the water, but people seemed to be a bit nicer to each other at the festival; they looked out for each other. If someone was sleeping under a tree, you merely walked around them and let them be. You could always start a conversation with anyone by asking what performance they enjoyed the most, who they were most looking forward to seeing, what their opinion of Kanye was, or if they could hear Skrillex’s performance from their campsite.

So as I adjust back to regular life where you don’t randomly high-five strangers or run into musicians hanging out near the artist hospitality area I can only think that this won’t be my last Bonnaroo. Because I too hope to one day where a shirt with #Bonnagrannies  printed on the front.


 
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World's Worst iPod: Rocky Burnette "Tierd of Toeing the Line"

Rocky Burnette was the son of legendary rockabilly artist Johnny Burnette and was part of a resurgence of rockabilly in 1980. This song made it up to #8 on the chart.

You may not agree with Kitty that this song is awesome, but you've got to attest that the cheesiness of this video elevates the song to epic status.

 
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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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World's Worst iPod: Gunhill Road "Back When My Hair Was Short"

This song only made it up to #40 on the pop charts in 1973, but it's been seared into Kitty's brain ever since.

Alas, it was the best chart position ever attained by the trio called Gunhill Road.

It's one of the first examples of pop culture talking about hippie disillusionment. At least that we know of!

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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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It's all happening - I'm going to Bonnaroo

Me and Jamestown Revival, who will be in Madison Tuesday night. They��
You know how sometimes something seems too good to be true? A few weeks ago I learned that yes- sometimes it can be true. I entered the Triple M Bonnaroo Backstage Blogger contest and never thought I would win. I mean, there must be thousands of people who would enter.

Luck must have been on my side because Wednesday morning my friend Jason and I are headed to Tennessee for four days of music and camping.

You may be wondering why I signed up for the contest. First of all, I like music. I try to get to a show at least once a month. It can be a local band, regional group or a national touring act. Basically, the joy of seeing live music keeps me going to shows. I can have fun whether I am there with a friend or alone, although let’s face it; you’re never really alone when you’re at a concert.

I also wanted to take a vacation. I’ll be taking off five days from work for Bonnaroo. Everyone needs a vacation and the last time I took a trip was last year and that was a day-trip to Chicago.

But mostly, it’s about the music.

Since May 22, when I learned I won the contest, I have been researching who was performing. Let’s just say, the list was a bit overwhelming. Thankfully I made a decision that I was going pick four can’t miss acts – Jake Bugg, The Avett Brothers, Elton John and Jack White. If you haven’t listened to Jake Bugg I highly recommend it. He’s from across the pond and puts out some great music.

And Elton John – I mean what can be said that already hasn’t been? Personally, I hope for a giant Tiny Dancer sing-along among the crowd.

There are a few other events I would like to check out while there like Craig Robinson at the Comedy Tent and the 2 a.m. showing of the original Friday the 13th.

People say Bonnaroo is a marathon so I hope I can avoid my desire to see everything the fest offers. I want to remain laid back and just go with the flow. And get some amazing pictures to share with as many people as possible.

Since we’re camping I’ve gone into over-prepared mode. Some people might just grab a tent, some essentials and be done with it. I’m more like ‘hey, I better pack this because I just might need it.’  Thankfully, my parents had most of the camping supplies. When I was  a teenager my family started going camping in tents. In the last 15 years we changed from tents to a pop-up camper. I’m guessing I’ll probably be a bit uncomfortable but who needs a mattress when you’re going to be too tired from a day of fun to worry about comfort.

Even as a write this, I can’t believe it’s actually happening. I’ve been counting down the days but I’m still not convinced this is real. Is it possible for one person to be this lucky?

So big thanx to Triple M for sending me to Tennessee. Now, time to finish packing (and double checking) and trying to get through two days of work before I leave on my adventure.

Photo: Me and Jamestown Revival, who will be in Madison Tuesday night. They’re also going to Bonnaroo to perform.
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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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World's Worst iPod: Spandau Ballet "True"

Spandau Ballet only made it up to #4 in the United States with their 1983 song "True," but it was even a bigger hit in England.

It seems a lot of Triple M listeners liked this song because it was in the movie "Sixteen Candles," while others thought it was just a little too slow and drippy.

Here are "the Spans" on the British TV show "Top of the Pops."  Enjoy. Or don't.

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