A Concert Edition of a Forgotten One-Hit Wonder

Back in the early 1990s, Chicago native Michael McDermott was being hailed as the next Dylan or Springsteen or mutant hybrid Dylsteen with a harmonica for a mouth. Even author Stephen King was quoting McDermott lyrics in his books while calling him “possibly the greatest undiscovered rock and roll talent of the last 20 years.” Was he? Take a listen to this rocker from 1993’s Gethsemane album.

Pretty strong tune that one can still hear from time-to-time on WXRT in Chicago. I’ll fight anyone who disagrees with my assessment. Alas, initial fame was not kind to him, and he ended up having to rebuild a broken life and career. He now lives in the Chicago suburbs with his family while making new music in his home studio. And he still plays live shows, one of which I will be seeing tonight! But I’m not sure he will perform “West of Eden.” Here’s why.

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I, Audio Dinosaur

I am an unapologetic audio dinosaur. I know my kids like to listen to what they want, when they want. Not me. Radio still tickles and tantalizes my audio antennae. It helps that I can easily listen to Chicago’s WXRT at 93.1FM, one of the great radio stations in the USA. Before you tune me out since you don’t live in Chicago, you can also listen to WXRT using the radio.com app on your PC, tablet, or phone. We can listen together!

Why do I prefer a live radio broadcast rather than using Spotify or another streaming app that allows me to listen to exactly what I want? I like to be surprised, and WXRT still surprises me. When I first started listening in the mid-70s, WXRT was an evening-only music station. During the daylight hours, the 93.1FM station featured Spanish language programming. But when darkness fell, the language changed to English with understated FM deejays spinning music on vinyl. And what music! They played progressive rock, jazz, blues, folk, and even classical.

Times have changed, and WXRT is now a slicker, corporately-owned music giant. Sure, they play some newer songs sometimes too much. But they play plenty of new music heard nowhere else and lots of old music, with always a surprise to lift my spirits. It may be rarities like The Polecats singing “Make a Circuit With Me” or “Belly of the Whale” by Burning Sensation. And I can’t help but smile if I happen to catch Perry Farrell’s dog kick off “Been Caught Stealing” by Jane’s Addiction on the radio when I’m in the car with the windows open on a warm, sunny day. I know I can play those songs anytime I want, but it always is a nice surprise and thoroughly gratifying when someone else who also appreciates those songs plays them for me. There’s a 3 or 4 minute bond that forms, as fleeting as it may be.

And then there are the WXRT special features like Sunday morning’s Breakfast with the Beatles, Saturday Morning Flashback, or new music on The Big Beat. I was moved to write this today as I listened to all-vinyl Friday. Vinyl album sides are being played in their entirety, taking me back in time to listen to some timeless music. I’ve already heard album sides from Bonnie Raitt, The Cars, CS&N, Billy Joel, Supertramp, and the Rolling Stones. I’m looking forward to hearing an upcoming album side from Chicago’s own John Prine who succumbed to Covid in 2020. To me, this is radio at its best, harkening back to the halcyon days of progressive rock radio when many a deejay may have put on a 20 minute long song by Yes so he or she could step outside for a couple smokes/tokes. And the hiss and pop from the vinyl is just so viscerally stimulating and satisfying for me to hear. I guess that not only makes me an audio dinosaur, but an analog audio dinosaur. I will gladly wear that title. Try and take that title from me at your own risk. I may hiss or pop at you.

A Reason to Love Chicago

I am grateful for living my life in the Chicagoland area for many reasons. Winter weather is not one. However, one reason is that we have Lake Michigan, a huge body of water to enjoy, with zero sharks. Take that, ocean lovers! But another is that Chicago is politically cool, sometimes in subtle ways. I was listening this morning to WXRT, still the world’s greatest radio station that you can listen to at wxrt.radio.com, and the big news they reported at 8AM was Trump’s stop in Chicago today where massive protests are expected to cause major traffic disruptions. I would be there except I am preparing to protest a local issue tonight. Anyway, the Trump visit news was followed by this set of music.

  • American Idiot by Green Day
  • Fighter by Joseph
  • Creep by Radiohead
  • Immigration Man by Crosby & Nash
  • Is She Really Going Out With Him by Joe Jackson

When I tweeted the DJ to ask if he was making a political statement, he replied that he was just “rockin’ Chicago.” Sure. Keep rockin’, man.

New Music for Old Rockers – July Concertpalooza Edition – Part 2

My July Concertpalooza rolls on with another FREE show, the third freebie in a row. I received free concert tickets from the world’s greatest radio station, 93.1 WXRT in Chicago, to see Heart and Sheryl Crow play Chicago this past week. Neither act is very musically-relevant anymore except in a historical context (Heart definitely being rock ground-breakers as the first hugely successful female-fronted band), but both acts are still making new music, hence this tour.

But before Sheryl Crow took the stage, there was a young opening act. I think she started playing right before we parked the car, and then finished before we took our seats. It was a very long walk from where we parked.

Ours were decent $69 seats (thanks ‘XRT!), but we did have to sit a couple rows behind the guy who likes Five Finger Death Punch AND Heart. That’s quite a range of musical tastes. Crow1

His wife had sunglasses on the whole show, even after dark, and looked a lot like one of the party-goers in this pic from the Rocky Horror Picture Show …

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Radio > Streaming

My oldest son thinks I’m crazy, but not for the many legitimate reasons that exist that can be used to make a solid case to question my sanity. He thinks I’m crazy because he can’t understand why I enjoy radio more than just streaming songs off a playlist. This post is for him (and maybe a set-up for a new recurring blog feature in 2019), so I hope you will enjoy it, too. We have lots of words and clickable links to come.

I love music. It has been an important part of my life since I was little. I’m not sure how that happened. I have almost zero musical talent and I swear my guitar winces whenever I pick it up. As for my voice, I regretfully admit that I have a voice made for pantomime. Regardless, I have written and arranged songs over the decades. These days I wisely stick to writing lyrics, although I always seem to have opinions about the arrangements. Here’s a favorite song of mine that I released with friends in 2017, and more info about our music is available at www.sunsetsrising.com. Looks like we’ll be releasing some new songs in 2019.

I think streaming is fine. When my son gets into my car, he’ll plug his phone in and stream new music for me that he thinks I may like. Sometimes he’s correct, and I do my best to forgive his grievous breach of automobile etiquette that clearly decrees that whoever drives controls the radio. It is the law.

I streamed (music, in case you were wondering) when we had a houseful of guests for Christmas Eve. I like my quirky Christmas songs, so I made sure my playlist had these holiday classics:

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Don’t Seek The Music; Be The Music

Let me just start out by saying that the title of this blog makes no sense except that this post is about music and my quest to become one with music. You will only find out at the very end if I reached that lofty goal. I workshopped many alternate blog post titles, and they all sucked as much as this one, so what’s the point of even trying? It’s good enough (maybe too good?) for the likes of us.

Moving on, this is my longest blog post ever, and perhaps the longest ever in the history of blogging. I have no interest in checking, so let’s just take my vague hunch as gospel truth that this is a record-setting post. It is chock full of nonsensical words in a seemingly random order that would rival a Sean Spicer press conference, links to older posts (in a pathetic attempt to increase views), pictures, animated gifs and video links. If you are not up for a herculean, visually-stimulating blog post, bail out now. Warning, do not click the “Continue reading.”

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