Thursday, July 29, 2010

Blues In Orbit

Not only is Blues in Orbit the name of my radio show, but it is a classic Duke Ellington album. An album, that as a fan, often seems to go overlooked.

Before I ever became a disc jockey, dancing permeated my soul. For years I spent multiple nights a week lindy-hopping. I became part of the scene, living and breathing the dance. Somehow, dancing became part of the marrow of my bones, a precious life giving substance that couldn't easily be infused in others.

To a dancer, the songs are life. Nothing can rupture your Aorta or Carotid faster than an uninspiring song. Dancers everywhere want inspiring music and will frequent a club based on who the dj is. You see, the djs are either viewed as serial killers of the dance or messiahs. The problem is that what one person likes others may not like.

Even before I loved dancing, I loved music. When I was young my mother said "Tombstone, you love music more than anyone I know and it's unfortunate that you don't have any talent for it." Thanks for telling me my singing sucked before I made it to American Idol, Mom!

This love of music reminds me that despite my affair with dancing, there are many songs to enjoy that aren't danceable songs. I could always understand that an album by a great composer like Duke Ellington could contain some songs to dance to and some to just sit and enjoy.

Blues in Orbit is just one album. There are some songs I love to dance to. Some songs I love to relish--love to feast on. I imagine myself at a table, enjoying one of the seven sins--gluttony. Some songs might even dribble down my chin as I imbibe myself on the intoxicating power that is Ellington's music.

The inebriation I feel at the music lends me to keep the Blues in Orbit album for whatever occasion may be fitting. Once, when I asked a swing dj to play "The Swinger Get the Blues, Too" at a dance, he told me he didn't have the Blues in Orbit album. I was horrified. My terror grew as I learned dance dj after dance dj didn't have the album. I have to satisfy myself that when I dj a dance, I can play songs from the album.

I understand that, to the public, the Blues in Orbit album never was or will be, what some other Duke Ellington albums are. The album came later in his career (albeit 14 years before his death). I think often critics and the public spurn the later work of artists. One reason could be that the critics and populace want artists to be unchanging, unevolving creatures. They remember the glories of an artists prime and try to pigeon hole the artist as only being relevant in that prime. Evolution is often the most damning, career murdering effect that can occur in an artist's life.

Why do I mention this at all? The smoky jazz-joints that are portrayed in Hollywood's golden age are gone. Some of those musicians such as Duke are gone. Had I lived in the era, I would have made it a point to visit some joint--dressed like Cary Grant or some such Hollywood type, and listened to the music. But I will never know the era, except through the music, the dance and film. I can live the era through those things.

Now that the dust has settled and Duke has been gone, and the critics gone...try out the album. See if you like. Listen to it and live it. See if it doesn't have a place on the shelves with what people might consider his more classic albums.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Arriving Somewhere but not Here

Today I threw Porcupine Tree's 2005 realease Deadwing into my CD player. I hadn't listened to this album in awhile. I remember how my friend Cas was trippin' off of the track Arriving Somewhere but not Here. He would listen to the song over and over. Sometimes music is addicting...well, music is always addicting, but that is beside the point. I think it is more succinct to say that sometimes individual songs are addicting. Like your own personal brand of heroine...if you know what i'm sayin'.

I certainly went through an addiction with this album. I dig it. But the song Arriving Somewhere but not Here reminded me of something we all know and understand. Life never turns out how we expect it too. I happen to think that that is one of life's Grand Designs (to use a different band's song title).

Ten Years ago, I wanted to be graduated from school. I never thought that I wouldn't graduate until I was nearly 35. I certainly didn't want to graduate from Weber State University either. However, I must say that I enjoyed my time at Weber State University and if I hadn't gone there I would never have enjoyed some experiences that reside on my so called "bucket list."

Since creating a short tale called "The Time Toilet" in the fifth grade I have wanted to be a writer. I have written short stories and books, but have yet to be published. That's o.k. I am still Arriving Somewhere, but not Here. To quote the band Rush, "the point of the journey is not to arrive."

With all of life not turning out the way I expected, I could have chosen to be bitter. Instead, I have learned to see that life can be exciting and tomorrow you may be in a new and exciting place. I have also learned that today's challenges and puzzles are not yesterday's. New meaning and insight will arrive, as well as new people and experiences.

More important than arriving somewhere is becoming. The Japanese have a business philosophy called kaizen. It's a word for "continual change for the better," or "improvement." They use it for business and learning. I think that kaizen should be a way of life, of continually changing and improving life, relationships, work ethics and the overall quality of your life and the lives of others. If one continually adopts this philosophy I believe you truly will be Arriving Somewhere, but not Here.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Sombras De Noite


My girlfriend gave me permision to rant, so therefore, I rant. As far as the warning is concerned I feel like I should have adopted my best pirate voice and quoted Pirates of the Caribbean.

"Psst! Avast there. It be too late to alter course, mateys. And there be plunderin' pirates lurkin' in ev'ry cove, waitin' to board. Sit closer together, and keep your ruddy hands in board. That be the best way to repel boarders. And mark well me words, mateys; Dead men tell no tales! Ye come seekin' adventure with salty old pirates, eh? Sure you've come to the proper place. But keep a weather eye open mates, and hold on tight. With both hands if you please. Thar be squalls ahead, and Davy Jones waitin for them that don't obey."

Tuesday and Wednesday are cool days. I host radio shows. Webertainment Weekly on Tuesday night from 7-8 in the evening and Blues in Orbit from 7-10 in the evening. During those days I come up with a playlist for Blues in Orbit. It's a great time scouring CD's and websites for music to play. New music, as well as classics and unknown artists. (How do you like that sentence frag Nazi's?)

Before I launch into my tirade, let me say this "I am grateful to all of the music promoters who send new music my way. Without the promoters, I couldn't make Blues in Orbit the fun time it is."

Now, for the rant or squall if you will. There be nothing more tiring then receiving a new CD from an artist who records nothing but jazz standards. I get three or four CDs a week from artists who don't have an original song on the album. Trust me Davy Jones be waitin' at the bottom of the Caribbean for the remnants of your jazz career after the squall dashes your CD to pieces.

Does that mean I don't like covers, or jazz standards? Not at all. The title of this blog is based off of a great cover of Sombras De Noite (Night Shadows) by George Khan off of his Secrets from the Jazz Ghetto album which is a mixture of new tunes as well as previously released tracks.

Mr. Khan did a great job of mixing jazz standards as well as original recordings. Of course, this isn't Mr. Khan's first album. However, if it was and it had nothing but covers on it...well, that doesn't bode well for his CD. Why do I want to listen to a CD full of songs everybody and their mom has recorded over and over again? jazz artists...are we straight? No more CD's full of jazz standards...right? Else I may have to enlist the aid of Davy Jones and the Kraken to wipe out your career.

Okay, that might be a little harsh, but I find the albums that catch my attention most are the ones that contain either all originals, or originals with a smattering of standards. There have been many times where an artist's CD had all originals with one standard and the standard was the song that caught my attention. It can happen.

To the promoters I say this..."Thanks again for all you do. I spend many hours reviewing all the music I recieve, whether I pass on it or not."

In the meantime, Yo-Ho Yo-Ho It's a Pirate's Life for Me! I mean, who doesn't want all the loot, rum and wenches they can handle?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


The enormous yellow sun has burst from the clouds to provide vibrancy and life to the desert. Riding the radio waves, a voice breaks through the crackling and distorted channel to inform the populace that mid-week showers approach. The desert will once again be pelted by precipitation.

Nature can't decide what she wants.

There is no question that the People know what they want.

Far away, the black beast engulfs the shores. How long will the beast hold us captive?

We all face giants. Some have giant faces. Some live in giant places.

For me blogging is a giant. I find that people are fascinated by blogging...the myriad of possibilities that blogging introduces would take up mountains of virtual space. I've seen blogs introducing people to new businesses and industries. I've read about people's vacations and cake recipes. I've read about people who forgot to do the laundry. The consequence? Going commando to the gym!

Being relatively new to blogging, can I tell you what I've realized? I've realized this. I don't want to read blogs about the same banal, personal, mundane experiences people post about on Twitter and Facebook. "I'm eating a peanut butter sandwich as I sit on the throne!" Are you? Let me comment on your tweet.

"I don't effin care!"

Twitter did a study...don't quote me on the numbers, but they found that most of what people tweet is "totally mindless blabber." Thank you Facebook and Twitter for introducing me to someone else's "I'm in line at Target!"

I care more about your cake recipe, family vacation, or recent revelation about life than your mundane experiences that help me in no way whatsoever. The stuff that I like most is informative and well thought out. Having finished writing a book about ghosts and zombies, I've found blogs about agents and publishing most helpful. I find blogs about music helpful to my radio show. I find blogs about my friends life experiences refreshing. Except when they post about the menial details of their life. Yes, I do have better things to do than read the play by play of your day at work.

I guess it's good that I don't know how people go about gaining an audience for their blogs, otherwise some of those people who publish their minute by minute activity would be slaying me in the comments section of this blog.

Besides, if I knew how to gain an audience for this blog I would use it to expand into some huge money making venture. The extra dollars would make up for reading about your peanut butter and honey sandwich while you sat on the john. Or was it strawberry jelly? I could probably buy my own peanut butter and honey sandwich and post about it here, or on Facebook. Then I could claim my life is productive. No, really--it is.

Back to the giants in Nature. Oh god of the yellow sun, would you please shine in California this weekend? I would like the money I spent on race tickets to be well worth it.

How was that for a Facebook or Twitter post?

Monday, May 24, 2010


Turbulent weather has haunted Utah in the last month. Clear skies and warm weather hasn't plagued us enough. But one clear evening, about a week ago, I sat in the grass listening to an amazing talent. Her name? Kat Tingey.

Kat is one of those performers that reaches out from the stage and grabs you by your heart and mind, shocking your system until it overloads. She's probably able to do this because as she's said, "I write songs about emotions and feelings and stuff." It's more likely that her fantastic voice, and awesome songwriting are at the heart of her abilities.

I mention Kat because over the years I have been blessed to know numerous talented people. When I say talented, I mean people who could be celebrities if the Sun, Stars, Moon, and Planets align. When will the celestial bodies create the necessary fluctuations in time and space to bring success to many of the talents that I have known? How does one put themselves into a position to gain new fans? How does one put themselves in a position to gain more success than entertaining Mom and the ten friends who are willing to come see you play time and time again?

In life, sometimes people ask themselves the question "when?" When is it my turn for love? When will the weather get nice? When will he/she realize that I am here for them? When will he/she learn to respect themselves? When is it my turn for success?

My purpose in typing tonight hasn't been to answer any of the deeper questions in life. However, it has been my purpose to spotlight some talented friends that I've known throughout the ages. People like Ryan Shupe and the Rubberband, Kim Anderson, Christy Anderson, Dave Smith, Chris Gillis, Sean Winnie, Steve Bradford, Kyle Monson, Brad Monson, Aaron Castillo, Chad Petersen, Laith Kayyali, Anuj Aurora, David Bosse, some writers whose names I won't mention here, myself, and of course Kat are some who are still waiting for their turn.

As some of you know every title to my blogs is the name of a song. I think Kat's song "When" encapsulates many of the emotions people have when asking that very question, because with many of us, the question remains--When? no matter what the subject is about.

Friday, May 7, 2010


Sometimes song lyrics seem written just for you. Here is one that I think works on multiple levels. Broke by Modest Mouse.

Broke account so I broke a sweat
I bought some things that I sort of regret about now.
Broke your glasses but it broke the ice
you said that I was an asshole and I paid the price.

Broken hearts want broken necks
I've done some things that I want to forget but I can't.
Broke my pace and ran out of time
Sometimes I'm so full of $#!# it should be a crime.

Broke a promise cause my car broke down
Such a classic excuse it should be bronze by now

Broke up and I'm relieved somehow
it's the end of the discussions that just go round and round
and round, and round, and round, and round,
and round, and round, it shouldn't have been anyway
No way, no way, that's right, that's right
uh oh, uh oh, uh oh, uh oh,
uh oh, uh oh, uh oh, uh oh,

It was like everthing was evidence of broken time
your livin on fancy wine
you'll drink it like turepentime
you're starting conversations
you don't even know the topic

Yeah, the song reminds me of a relationship I once had. Nevermind the fact that I certainly have spent money I haven't had. Of course, I've broken a promise or two in my day as well. I'm not sure that any of this has to do with anything...but there you have it. Some thoughts floating into the upper regions of my mind....

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Bruce Wayne on the Run

I played a tune called "Bruce Wayne on the Run" last night on Blues in Orbit. I must say that the kid (Roberto Badoglio) has some chops. The song inspired me so much I had to go home, take off the Superman belt buckle, and replace it with the Batman one. Too bad that the link isn't the tune I played.

Speaking of Batman, Christopher Nolan, writer and director of Batman Begins, and The Dark Knight released information that he will begin work on the new Batman project. He even set a release date of July 20, 2012. I'll be crushed if this is just a rumor.

One day I am going to write a Batman story. Don't worry people, you will love it. I think I have a handle on how to write psycho characters like Bruce Wayne. "Cause a guy who dresses up like a bat clearly has issues."

Monday, April 5, 2010

Cross Road Blues

I went to the crossroads, fell down on my knees.

How many times have you been on your knees at the crossroads?

I have been there many times, and I am approaching the crossroads again. In a couple of weeks, I will graduate from Weber State University. I don't have a job lined up and I really don't want one. Of course I will do what I need to do, but what I really want is to have a career as a writer.

Over the last year, I completed the first book I am happy with. I think it's a fun rollercoaster ride, filled with ghosts, skeletons, spectral trains, Voodoo gods, and zombies. What could be better?

Without a book deal (don't worry, I am out there doing everything I can to get published), I am left with all of the regular questions. What will you do after you graduate? Will you go to grad school? Will you get a job? What can you do with an English degree?

Hence at this crossroads I am about to ask the Lord above "Have mercy, now save poor Wyatt, if you please."

Then I am going to enjoy the journey. To quote Neil Peart--Anything can happen.