Roger’s Year in Music 2015 (Part 6): Five musical news items not classifiable by album release.


I can be such a fan boy, though first, something about furniture.

My CD Collection.

It is huge, numbering in the thousands, and like an invasive species of plant life, it threatened to take over all of my book shelves — leaving no room for hundreds of books. Something had to happen, and so of course I continued to procrastinate, until finally the missus evicted my home office (that’s me) from the home library. It (I) was moved to empty space in the rear of the house, and the CDs followed. Now there is proper shelving for them, and an ongoing wintertime project to label, file and shelve all the discs, whether in vinyl sleeves, paper envelopes or jewel cases.

I have become a research librarian, by turns dating and filing … and listening to music I didn’t remember even having. Tactile. Very tactile.

Houndmouth and some love from “World Cafe’s” David Dye.

I’ll continue to “sing” the praises of our hometown musicians made good, but you needn’t take it from me.

Houndmouth named in David Dye’s Top 10 Albums of 2015, by Sara Havens (IL)

“What gets me with Houndmouth is how well this band looks back in time musically. But ‘Little Neon Limelight’ isn’t just about a retro sound; it’s also about songs, two amazing lead voices and equally impressive harmonies.”

Give me just a little more time, and I’ll have Houndmouth fully politicized. It’s always been my goal, you know.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s Class of 2016.

As I wrote on Facebook upon reading the news:

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a piece of crap, and unworthy of my time to comment … and 2016 inductees Cheap Trick, Deep Purple and Chicago are three of my favorite bands ever. Today I’ll observe a moratorium on RRHOF vilification, then it’s back to the usual derision. 

Arguably, given N.W.A.’s pervasive cultural and musical influences, the group’s recognition dwarfs all the rest of it, but lest we forget, the RRHOF is a marketing tool. It isn’t supposed to make sense, and the most interesting aspect of the induction of my three personal favorites is whether their legendary personnel issues will play any part in the festivities.

N.W.A, Cheap Trick, Chicago, Deep Purple & Steve Miller Are 2016 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees, by Gary Graff (Billboard)

… The original quartet and septet lineups, respectively, of Cheap Trick and Chicago are being inducted, while the Deep Purple roster will encompass the group’s first three lineups, including three teams of singers and bass players. Some of the intriguing reunion possibilities for the ceremony include Chicago with singer/bassist Peter Cetera for the first time since 1985 and with drummer Danny Seraphine since 1990, Cheap Trick with estranged drummer Bun E. Carlos, and Deep Purple with guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, who’s been gone since 1993.

The Chicago camp already has contradicted itself on Cetera’s possible return (and ignored Seraphine). The singer is playing cute. Bun E. told Rolling Stone that he’d been invited and would behave, although financial squabbles have been friendship killers for him. The finest observation of all was made by drummer Ian Paice of Deep Purple, the group’s only remaining original member.

“If some people are inducted together, it could end in a punch-up.”

RIP, Jon Lord …

… and Terry Kath. What’s not to love about a guy who writes a song about his dog?

Gary Richrath’s death.

Never once before REO Speedwagon’s 1977 live album You Get What You Play For was I a fan of the band, and my interest lasted only a short time afterward. This said, it was the preferred soundtrack to my debauchery the summer preceding my senior year in high school.

At some point around this time, my gang saw the band at an LRS $1.02 concert in Louisville, performing the set list as recorded on the live album. It was only months before REO’s next release made them superstars.

The dollar-two show was noteworthy for my varsity baseball jersey getting stained with flying blood when a fight broke out up front, but what floored me completely was Gary Richrath, for not only was he extraordinarily skilled at playing his instrument. In addition, he simply had the guitar superstar look down to a science. Richrath was an Adonis. He had the hair, the moves and the swagger. He could choke that neck, too.

I was tall, gangly, socially inept, prone to self-loathing and not at all the air guitar hero type. Here was this short, handsome, curly-haired dude commanding the auditorium. Surely Richrath got the girls. Whatever the vagaries of timing, it hit me hard and was tantamount to a man crush.

Time passed. Lots of time. REO became a huge 1980s-era arena band specializing in power ballads, and I lost interest. Apparently so did Richrath, who departed before the decade’s end and disappeared. He returned for the obligatory “Behind the Music” interviews, then vanished again.

REO was a distant memory, and then my friend Jay burned a copy of the live album for me. I hadn’t heard it in decades, and the memories stirred. In late 2014, I took to the Internet in search of Richrath. It had been 20 years since the VH1 documentary. Where was he now?

Granted, we’re all subject to the ravages of the decades … and yet what I saw on YouTube was unfathomable. Richrath wasn’t recognizable in recent videos, as performing with bar bands in Peoria (he’d returned home to help care for his mother) and in a first-time-in-ages onstage reunion with REO. Bloated and all jowls, he also seemed to have lost his chops.

He died suddenly in September, and the news plunged me into mourning — not for a fellow I never met, but for my own lost youth. That’s the way it always plays out, doesn’t it? The notion of rock stardom is nonsensical in the main. At the same time, I appreciate the rock star helping me through a difficult summer.

The Dubliners.

My father liked big bands and the music of the swing era, and I was introduced to the genre very early. When I began exploring music on my own, thanks to the LPs at the public library, my search took me far beyond Glenn Miller, to the roots of jazz (New Orleans, Chicago and Harlem), and later outward in all directions.

During the 6th grade, my friends began pulling me away from the music heard at home. Early favorites were the Beatles, Steppenwolf and Black Sabbath. Ever since then, when the topic of “favorite bands) arises, the default reply has been phrased in the pop/rock idiom: The Who, Manic Street Preachers, Def Leppard, et al.

Finally at the belated age of 55, it occurs to me how ridiculously narrow a viewpoint this is.

When all is spun and done, surely Duke Ellington ranks up there with Oasis, U2 and the Smiths. So does Bix Beiderbecke.

And so does the Irish “folk” group called The Dubliners (1962-2012). In fact, I need not preface my preference for Ellington, Beiderbecke and The Dubliners with “jazz” or “folk” or any other specific modifiers. Each represents an aggregate musical output through working careers. Each has brought me great pleasure. They’re all part of a huge, wonderful melting pot.

My parents took me to see Duke Ellington perform in Louisville in 1971, but I never once caught The Dubliners playing live. The band constantly toured Europe, and on several occasions our paths were a few weeks from crossing, but a show never came to pass. The earliest and probably best Dubliners lineup was finished before my first trip to Europe started, and yet I’ve always enjoyed the many different configurations that followed.

Moreover, the band’s ethos of a half-century is one worth emulating. Players came and went, and all of the living former members remained family, and performed together from time to time.

Cheap Trick, Deep Purple and Chicago: Take note of this refreshing, mature attitude. Meanwhile, here are The Dubliners in their rare old times, with the classic lineup and Luke Kelly on vocals:

Maybe in 2016, I’ll actually venture to a show.

Roger’s Year in Music 2015 (Part 6): Five musical news items not classifiable by album release.

Roger’s Year in Music 2015 (Part 7): The band Lynched, and New Albany’s perpetual drone.

Roger’s Year in Music 2015 (Part 8): How did I die? A WWI lamentation.

Roger’s Year in Music 2015 (Part 9): Kamasi Washington and his Epic.

Roger’s Year in Music 2015 (Part 10): But first, some 2014 leftovers.