This morning on my way to work I listened to Tush from ZZ Top, one of my favorite guitar riffs. When you can recognize a song after just a few notes, most of the times it means it’s good. This made me think about other rock riffs I like. And while it’s of course impossible to do great rock music justice in one list, following are 20 of my favorite riffs in no particular order:
Tush (ZZ Top)
Day Tripper (The Beatles)
(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction (The Rolling Stones)
A little tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan, who was one of the greatest electric blues guitarists
This morning, I listened to my blues playlist in iTunes. One of the songs was Hank Ballard’s Little Sister performed by Stevie Ray Vaughan. Every time I listen to Stevie, I get goose bumps. I think he was one of the most amazing electric blues guitarists.
In addition to Little Sister, which was included on Stevie’s 1985 album Soul to Soul, some my favorite tunes from him include Pride And Joy (from Texas Flood, 1983), Cold Shot (Couldn’t Stand the Weather, 1984) and Tin Pan Alley. The latter, which also appeared on the Couldn’t Stand the Weather album, is one of the best slow blues tunes ever, in my opinion.
Sadly, Stevie died in a helicopter crash in August 1990. He was only 35 years old. But his music undoubtedly continues to live on.
I’ve been fortunate to have seen many terrific shows over the years, and I hope there will be many more to come.
I think my first concert was the German rock band BAP in 1983 – the same band I saw earlier this month during a short trip to Germany (see my separate post on this). Following is a list of other artists I’ve seen:
Huey Lewis and the News
The Doobie Brothers
The Beach Boys
Earth, Wind & Fire
Stevie Nicks & Don Henley
The Rolling Stones
KC and the Sunshine Band
The Allman Brothers Band
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
It’s hard to say which concert has been the best thus far. Paul McCartney (who I’m psyched to see again in July after more than 25 years!), Bruce Springsteen, Pink Floyd, The Who, The Rolling Stones and The Eagles certainly are among the most memorable shows.
I know Springsteen is going to be at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ in late August. The Boss is still going strong and I would love to see him again – should be a great home play!
There are many other music acts I haven’t seen yet and would like to see: Bob Seger, Buddy Guy, Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin (I know, unlikely Robert Plant and Jimmy Page will ever agree to a reunion!), Deep Purple, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Neil Young, Scorpions, Stevie Wonder and U2, to name some. So many great music artists, such little time – not to mention the money you have to pony up these days to go to a concert!
And then there some I wish I could have seen like Elvis and of course The Beatles – though McCartney’s show I saw in the late 80s featured plenty of Beatles music and oftentimes sounded just like the Fab Four! There are other great artists who are sadly gone like Joe Cocker, Stevie Ray Vaughan and David Bowie.
I suppose I have to be grateful for the many terrific concerts I’ve been to. Plus, there should be plenty of opportunities to see additional shows!
While I had heard of Buddy Guy before, it was not until a few months ago that I began exploring his music – better late than never!
It all started when I came across Whiskey, Beer and Wine, a song from Buddy Guy’s most recent studio album Born to Play Guitar, released last year – the title couldn’t be more fitting!
What an amazing guitarist and what a fantastic tune! When I listened to it for the first time, I could picture Jimi Hendrix before my eyes. And no wonder, from what I read, Jimi was one of many top-notch guitarists who were influenced by Buddy. Others include Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Keith Richards and Stevie Ray Vaughan, to name a few.
It’s also amazing to me that when you listen to Born to Play Guitar, you certainly don’t realize Buddy is close to 80 years old. He seems to have the energy of a young Jimi Hendrix!
Buddy was born in Lettsworth, LA on July 30, 1936. He started performing with bands in Baton Rouge in the early 1950s. His debut solo album, I Left My Blues in San Francisco, came out in 1967. Buddy has since released 16 additional studio albums and various live albums. He has also collaborated with numerous other artists on more than 20 albums.
Born to Play Guitar and six other of Buddy’s albums have won Grammys for Best (Contemporary) Blues Album. I think this record speaks for itself.
I know it’s impossible to know all music, but if you like Blues and were like me just a few months ago, go and check him out! And if you need additional encouragement, a clip of Whiskey, Beer and Wine is here.
During a recent short trip to Germany, I had a chance to catch a show of my favorite German rock band, BAP.
When planning a recent short trip to Germany, I coincidentally learned BAP were doing a 40th anniversary tour – an opportunity I did not want to miss. In fact, I moved up my departure by one day, so I could make the concert – and it was totally worth it!
BAP, now actually called Niedeckens BAP, was founded in 1976 by front man, Wolfgang Niedecken. The band’s characteristic feature is that all of their songs are performed in “Koelsch,” a German dialect spoken in the area of Cologne, an old city located on the river Rhine in Western Germany.
The first time I saw BAP was at a small venue in Bonn in 1981 after they had released their third album, fuer usszeschnigge, which took them from regional to national fame. While BAP did a few international tours, their popularity mostly has been limited to Germany – largely because of their German lyrics.
The recent concert took place in the Southern German town of Neu-Ulm. The venue was great – Ratiopharm Arena, an indoor arena that is also used for basketball games. Even though I was seated up and in the back, I had a great view, since the arena is relatively small.
I have to say BAP did an amazing show. During more than three hours nonstop, they pretty much played all of their most popular songs – and with 17 studio albums, they have a huge repertoire!
Wolfgang Niedecken is the only member left from the original formation, though it’s fair to say he has always been the band’s main driving force. A couple years ago, longtime drummer Jürgen Zöller and guitarist Helmut Krumminga left, so I was a bit skeptical how the “new” BAP would sound. But with Ulrich Rode (guitar) and Sönke Reich (drummer), Niedecken brought in two top-notch musicians. The line-up also included Werner Kopal (bass), Anne De Wolff (multi-instrumentalist) and Michael Nass (keyboards).
The band sounded absolutely amazing – in fact, I would go as far as to say they sounded as good as never before! This show was actually recorded by regional German television channel SWR1. Following are some clips I was fortunate to have subsequently found on YouTube. The albums on which these tracks originally appeared are in parentheses.
Nix wie bessher (Amerika – August 1996)
Aff un zo (Aff un zo – June 2001)
Jraaduss (für usszeschnigge! – October 1981)
Arsch huh, Zäng ussenander (BAP & various other artists – 1992)
Alexandra, nit nur do (Zwesche Salzjebäck un Bier – May 1984)
I realize it would probably be pure coincidence for almost any American rock fan to have ever heard of BAP. Unfortunately, the American iTunes store is pretty measly when it comes to German rock music. But if you’re curious, there is one BAP album available there, Radio Pandora, which was released in 2008. It’s not a bad album to get an idea of the band’s music, though they have released better music, in my opinion.
Music has been my passion for more than 30 years. This blog is about my thoughts on my favorite artists and their music.
Music has been my passion for more than 30 years. My initial exposure was listening to FM radio back in Germany in the mid 70s. I spent hours taping songs on music cassette tapes, using a cheap cassette player.
When I was 12 years old, I started taking lessons with a terrific guitar teacher, Peter Notzem. He was instrumental in developing my love for music that continues until this day. Unfortunately, I’ve lost contact to him. Peter, if you are out there and by some crazy coincidence read this, please reach out – I’d love to catch up!
Peter not only introduced me to classical music, but right from the get-go, he also taught me the basics of folk and pop/rock guitar. It was largely because of him that I started paying more and more attention to The Beatles, a band I love to this day. In my late teens, Peter also got me started on how to play the electric bass guitar. He was playing in a great cover band at the time, and every now and then I had a chance to watch them rehearse.
Shortly thereafter, perhaps not surprisingly, I joined a band myself. These guys were older and much more experienced musicians. In retrospect, I find it amazing they accepted a young bass player who essentially still was a beginner! I worked very hard to improve my skills, and music truly became my life next to college. The leader of the band was writing his own songs, and we spent countless hours practicing and refining. We even recorded demos and sent them to a record company. Needless to add we did not become famous, but music had changed my life forever.
A transfer to another university for my graduate studies put an end to my band activity. For various reasons, I never returned to actively playing music, though I’m sometimes getting really itchy – especially when I see live performances! The one thing that hasn’t changed is that I continue to listen to great music and going to great shows.
My taste is pretty eclectic, including 50’s rock & roll, blues, rock in all of its shapes, country, hard rock, pop metal, soul, funk and even disco. My favorite decades of music are the 60s, 70s and 80s. I’m a strong believer in true craftsmanship, i.e., real instruments and real singing – if music has great lyrics, even better! What I generally don’t like is artificial, computer-generated stuff. Sadly, I feel much of today’s music falls into that category, but there continues to be some good stuff out there!
This blog is about my thoughts on artists I admire and their great music. While writing has been an important part of my job in public relations for more than 18 years, this is my first foray into blogging. I’m excited I’ll be writing about my passion, though I’m not quite sure where this journey will lead me.