It’s dark and cold

I’m surrounded by mewling and yipping beasts

some even dare the pretense of a roar

the herd lurches on

an undead thing soon to rise


From the FB Archives…

Someone asked me tonight, “what is best in life?”. I’ll forgive that they called me Mr. Young – even FB knows thats my Dad. But it got me a-thinkin’. I know, I know, nothing good can come of that. So, I says to myself, what is “best in life?” This is what I think today is best in life. Uncertainty, foolishness, fearlessness and passion. Life is uncertain – embrace it, ride it like a wave. Be a fool. Be a fool for something, someone – be unselfconscious in all you do. Be as silly, whimsical and happy as you can manage. Laugh, smile and make others laugh. That is a true gift, making others laugh. Don’t be afraid – fear feeds on itself and will suck the strength out of you. Fear and its partner worry will tie you down. F’em! Charge ahead, damn the torpedoes! You know what you love – do it. There is no substitute. It doesn’t have to be a great grand endeavor. Just give yourself to it. And then, from my personal perspective, there are some things that I consider best in life – a nice whiskey, a crushing riff, a long slow kiss, the laugh of a child, the warmth of the sun, reverb, a properly cooked steak, the love of friends and family, the awesomeness of the universe, the sound of coyotes on a cold autumn night, sharing a bottle of wine, cooking for others, the wind in my hair, a long run, having my hand held, a warm breath on my neck, a finely crafted beer, a candle lit dinner, a slow dance and bacon. So, for what it’s worth, that’s my answer today. Ask me tomorrow, and I may very well give a different answer. Cheers, peace and love

It’s been a long time…

Thirty three years ago next week I saw Led Zeppelin’s third to last performance with the original four members in Mannhiem, Germany.

Last night I saw the next best thing to seeing the band that reformed for the fabled O2 concert in 2007.

We went to the local concert shed to see Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience open up for Heart.  Believe it or not, I had never seen the Wilson sisters perform.

It was a typical hot and humid June night and thankfully we had seats inside the pavilion.  The setting sun was still very intense from our seats in the 300 section, near the back of the building.  We had our shades on for the first half of Bonham’s band’s set.

Eventually the sun dropped below the tree line and we could begin to see the images on the large video screens on either side of the stage.

The Led Zep Experience ran through a quick set of Zeppelin standards, with Jason occasionally addressing the crowd from behind his kit.  The passing and subsequent absence of his Dad, though 33 past, is obviously still an emotional subject.

The band consisted of a trio of hired guns on vocals, guitar and bass.  They did a solid, if unremarkable, job with the material.  It’s clear that Jason is the star here.  Vocalist James Dylan is from the Northern Virginia area, so he had quite a few local supporters.  He’s a Plant sound-a-like, even if he is a Daughtry look-a-like.

The band was rounded out by Tony Catania on guitar, and Michael Devin on bass.

Jason, I think Bonzo would be proud.

After a brief intermission, the Anne and Nancy and crew took the stage to the power chords of their signature rocker, “Barracuda”.

Heart ran through set heavy on the hits, with couple of pleasant surprises.  Nancy did a solo acoustic cover of Elton John’s “I Need You to Turn to” that was really beautiful.  “She’s really underrated as a performer”, I shared with my date, “but she’s in the Hall of Fame”.

Other than the train wreck, “Dear Old America”, it was a solid set with some heavy riffs and the sister’s legendary vocals.  No “Dog and Butterfly”, but they did play “Mistral Wind”.

As the final notes of “Crazy On You” rang in the night and faded, the lights dimmed and Jason Bonham’s drum riser was rolled back out on stage for the “encore”.

Anne and Nancy appeared center stage.  Anne on acoustic guitar, Nancy on mandolin and they proceeded to play the “Battle of Evermore”, a Zeppelin tune they’ve been covering for probably 30 years or so.  It was, if the word can be used on a Led Zeppelin song, sublime.

That was followed by some of my favorite Zep tunes, “The Song Remains the Same”, “The Rain Song”, “The Ocean”, “Kashmir” and “Stairway to Heaven”.

“Stairway” was the closer and they included the choir, albiet a smaller version, that appeared with them on the Kennedy Center Honors awards show honoring Led Zeppelin among others.

Short of seeing Jimmy, Robert and JPJ together on stage again, this is probably as close as a Led Zeppelin fan will get to seeing the band live at this point.  Anne Wilson is undisputedly the finest interpreter of Plant’s Led Zeppelin vocals. Finest.  Ever. Period.

It’s a show well worth your time.


MedalOh the things we get ourselves in to…

Yesterday I found myself in Charlotte, North Carolina at the US National Whitewater Center to participate in a Spartan Race.  What is a Spartan Race you might ask?  You might.  Google it.

Last year a friend participated in the Spartan Run at the same location and after she regaled me with her exploits, I thought, “hey, I can do that”.  Apparently I also said it out loud.  I really need to be more careful.

The forecast for the day was rainy and in the mid to high 30’s.  Why did the weather forecasters pick yesterday to be right?

I had a start time of 9am and we arrived at the USNWC well before 8 to check in and get suited up.  We collected our race bibs and timing chips and got marked.  This last part was new to me.  It simply involved having your bib number written on your body with Sharpie so your body could be identified in the event your bib fell off.  Mine did.  I choose the back of my left calf and my face.  Sharpie ink is hard to wash off, I still have the numbers on my leg.

I joined my wave at the starting line about 15 minutes prior to the start.  It was interesting to see the choices my fellow runners made regarding their kits.  We had everything from soldiers in full BDUs and gas masks to a couple of idiots in just running shorts.  More on them later.  I choose shorts with base layer long sleeve under my Rush running jersey along with my trusty Adidas trail shoes.  I also had on my cotton beanie, the one I bought for the Inauguration Day parade but didn’t wear.

The first mile was really fun, a nice trail run through the woods – I could’ve done that for many miles.  Many.

Near the end of mile one was the big “OUT” sign, right before the first obstacle.  If you wanted out, now was your last chance.  Well, that or on a stretcher…

Obstacle number one was a mud pit.  Well, a big hole filled with muddy water.  Did I mention that it was cold?  One of the other runners just about lost his shoes to the mud’s suction.  I decided a dog paddle was the easier way.

From there they put us in the river.  Really. The Catawba river runs adjacent to the facility.  The water was actually a bit warmer than the mud pit.  This was the last time I would feel clean until my post race shower.

Upon exiting the river we came upon a couple of the aforementioned shirtless idiots being rescued by the EMTs.  From the looks of things it was for hypothermia.  They were wrapped up in space blankets, shivering in the back of an all-terrain vehicle.

The next obstacles were walls that had to be scaled.  7 and 8 feet.  Have I ever mentioned that I have no vertical leaping ability?  I hit the wall running and jumped to get ahold of the top.  I felt like a fly hitting a windshield.

One of the great things about this race was the instant camaraderie among the runners.  I got a boost over the 7 foot wall and worked with a team of Aussies to get all of us over the 8 footer.  I joked with a fellow male runner about how “shrinkage” caused by the cold water was very helpful when straddling these walls .

The rain was unrelenting.  Many of the Spartan Race obstacles always involve mud.  Yesterday they all did.  Thanks to my trusty trail shoes, I never lost my footing or traction.   That meant that every time I hit the deck, it was on purpose.  Many of my fellow runners could not say the same thing.  How’d that tree feel, dude?

Burpees?  Really?  30 burpees?  What’s a burpee, you might ask.  It’s a form of torture that should be banned under the Geneva Convention.  Seriously.  It was also the penalty for failing to complete an obstacle.  30. We used to call them squat thrusts in PE class.  They suck.  I did 120 of them, give or take.  In the mud. With rocks.  It really sucked and my knees bare the evidence.  I was, however, never alone.  Misery truly does love company.

I did great on the “feats of strength” obstacles.  These included pulling a rain soaked rope attached to a weight, dragging a concrete block up a muddy hill and back down, flipping a tractor tire over four times, and carrying a rain soaked – did I mention it was raining? – sand bag down a hill and back up again.

The obstacles that involved balance and/or climbing gave me the most trouble.  The rain certainly didnt help, but neither did not having the proper upper body strength to body weight ratio.  I knew this would be an issue going in, so I was prepared to struggle.

The final hurdle was a fire pit.  I thought every stop should have had fire.  Man, it was miserably cold.  I didn’t stop shivering until I was in the car and well on my way back to Salisbury.  That’s with a bowl of chili, two cups of coffee and a milk stout!

Why?  Why, you might ask, would I – do people, do these events.  I can’t speak for others.  I did this because I was afraid I couldn’t and I needed to prove to myself that I could.  I have found that at every race there is always someone older than me, fatter than me and slower than me.  This tells me two things.  One, that I have no excuses and two, that others hear the same voice that I hear.  Get up, don’t die sorry.

Oh, and I did it for the medal – it’s pretty bad ass!

P.S.  “Spartan the F*ck Up!”

P.P.S. Thanks to Beth and Cecilia for being our cheering section.

What If

What if this is all we have

that heaven’s a cruel hoax

and hell’s an empty threat

that when we’re gone

from this mortal coil

we’re done

only a memory

to those who remain

it’s said that matter cannot

be destroyed

and we’re made of stars

so, where does our dust go?

Bands I’ve seen over the years…

Update of the ongoing and growing list…
  1. AC/DC
  2. Judas Priest x3
  3. Queen
  4. Rush x6
  5. Led Zeppelin
  6. ZZ Top x2
  7. The Police
  8. Cheap Trick x2
  9. Asia
  10. The Black Crowes
  11. The Alarm
  12. Kings X x4
  13. Journey x3
  14. Peter Frampton
  15. Bob Dylan
  16. Emmylou Harris x2
  17. Buddy and Julie Miller x2
  18. The Proclaimers
  19. The Cranberries
  20. Toad the Wet Sprocket
  21. Dream Theater x2
  22. Zappa Plays Zappa
  23. Queenscryche
  24. Iron Maiden x4
  25. Kansas
  26. Foreigner
  27. Scorpions x2
  28. Def Leppard x3
  29. Gamma
  30. Jethro Tull
  31. Thin Lizzy
  32. Rolling Stones
  33. J. Geils Band
  34. Jason & the Scorchers x3
  35. Randy Newman
  36. Simon & Garfunkel
  37. The Everly Bros
  38. Carbon Leaf
  39. Seven Nations x5
  40. The Trans-Siberian Orchestra x3
  41. Saxon
  42. Motorhead x3
  43. Heaven and Hell (Black Sabbath w/ RJD)
  44. Larry Norman x2
  45. Eddie From Ohio
  46. Shawn Colvin
  47. Jonathon Waite
  48. April Wine
  49. Krokus
  50. Girlschool
  51. Styx x2
  52. Nickelback
  53. Papa Roach
  54. Hinder x2
  55. Saving Abel
  56. Los Lonely Boys x2
  57. Los Lobos
  58. The Young Dubliners
  59. Great Big Sea
  60. Phil Keaggy x4
  61. Second Chapter of Acts
  62. Blue Oyster Cult x2
  63. The Machine
  64. Stryper
  65. The Thompson Twins
  66. Howard Jones
  67. TNT
  68. Loudness
  69. Testament x2
  70. REM
  71. The dbs
  72. Dan Fogelberg
  73. Chicago
  74. Earth, Wind & Fire
  75. Pete Yorn
  76. Over the Rhine x3
  77. Bill Mallonee x5
  78. Ted Nugent
  79. Molly Hatchett
  80. Wishbone Ash
  81. Pat Travers
  82. Johnny Winters
  83. Gibb Droll
  84. Moe.
  85. Savatage
  86. The Galactic Cowboys
  87. Saga
  88. Susan Tedeschi
  89. Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers
  90. Accept x3
  91. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers with special guest Stevie Nicks
  92. Social Distortion x2
  93. Collective Soul
  94. Bryan Adams
  95. Trey Anastasio
  96. Christopher Parkening
  97. Bruce Cockburn
  98. Epica
  99. Blackguard x2
  100. SignalThreat
  101. Megadeth
  102. Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers x3
  103. Alice Cooper
  104. Godsmack x2
  105. Halestorm
  106. Alter Bridge
  107. Bullet for My Valentine x2
  108. Seether x2
  109. Sevendust
  110. Red Fang
  111. Avenged Sevenfold
  112. Pop Evil
  113. Skillet
  114. Foo Fighters
  115. The Joy Formidable
  116. Ryan Montbleau Band x6
  117. Disturbed
  118. Trivium
  119. Straight Line Stitch
  120. Machine Head x2
  121. In Flames
  122. Black Tide
  123. Three Days Grace
  124. Escape the Fate
  125. Theory of a Deadman
  126. Sabaton
  127. Sound of Thunder
  128. Slayer
  129. Anthrax
  130. Slipknot
  131. The Devil Wears Prada
  132. Asking Alexandria
  133. Alice Cooper
  134. Drake White
  135. Blackberry Smoke
  136. Dixie Power Trio
  137. Ana Popovich
  138. Soundgarden x2
  139. Silversun Pickups
  140. Capital Cities
  141. AWOL Nation
  142. Stacie Collins
  143. Deanna Bogart
  144. Mavis Staples
  145. Bonnie Raitt
  146. Quinn Sullivan
  147. Southern Hospitality
  148. Indigenous
  149. The Slide Brothers
  150. Trampled Under Foot
  151. Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience
  152. Heart
  153. Motionless in White
  154. Butcher Babies
  155. Job for a Cowboy
  156. Amon Armoth
  157. Mastodon
  158. Five Finger Death Punch
  159. Rob Zombie
  160. Battlecross
  161. Children of Bodom
  162. Monster Madhouse
  163. The Deathbillies
  164. UFO
  165. Godspeed You Black Emperor
  166. Nine Inch Nails
  167. Ryan Montbleau solo acoustic
  168. Amber Rubarth
  169. Clutch
  170. The Mike Dillon Band
  171. DeafHeaven
  172.  Between the Buried and Me
  173. Intronaut
  174. James Taylor