Category Archives: Music

I’m Still Standing

Mostly meant to reassure those of you that know where I live and know that a tornado hit my city yesterday, that all is well with us. The tornado hit just a mile away, where my husband’s business is (it has minimal damage, though the garage next door was demolished and the debris piled four feet high against the back door of his business, so that the door couldn’t be opened; still, just dents and missing shingles, seemingly). Our house creaked and thumped somewhat alarmingly from our basement perspective, but nothing except branches down. Despite many trees down and some relocated, and a lot of property damage, no serious injuries, thankfully. (My heart goes out to those in Joplin, MO.)

Right after the storm:

and an hour later.

(If you are interested in seeing storm photos, you can see the local newspaper’s photo gallery here.)

Although this post’s title is meant to say that we, and our house, and my husband’s business, and our little Japanese maple, are all still standing, it’s also very apropos in that earlier this month, I finally got to see Elton John perform, and indeed perform that very song. After his concert here had been cancelled by more freak weather, our late April snowstorm.

It was a great concert, and well worth the wait.

Still standing, indeed. Almost three hours of non-stop performing, in his mid-60s — wow. A performer, indeed.

Me? Besides still standing, I’m still knitting. More soon.

From the Sublime to the Ridiculous

You will come to understand the title of this blog post….but you’ll have to keep reading!

A (what was intended to be brief) wrap-up (I hope) of Sock Camp. Maybe.

I hadn’t shared yet that I went out a day early, just to see friends and hang out in the wonderful Seattle area, since there would be no extra time at camp, nor after. (On the way, I saw this mysterious communication at the Minneapolis airport.

Apparently, fiber-bearing animals were sending me messages?)

My friend KT sweetly picked me up at the airport, took me to lunch at Pomegranate Bistro (NOM!), and thence to her house for a couple hours of knitting and talking in her crafty hideaway.  (The mother-in-law apartment in her house is her craft area.  It is awesomeness.  Not just for knitting, but for quilting and all KT’s other artistic endeavors: she is incredibly creative.  KT is a sock camper also but went the second session, so we were not going to see each other otherwise!) I also was a magnet for her beautiful cats, Frog and Tink.  😀

Then I got to go with KT to see her sons’ Montessori school (my daughters went to a Montessori school until just last year — wow, when I think about it, from when the eldest started Montessori preschool in 1999 to last spring 2009 when the younger completed 5th grade at her charter Montessori school in the public school system, I always had at least one child in Montessori for a decade!).  That was really cool, to see a lovely, and different, Montessori school.

Bad blogger.  No pics.  Too busy talking, apparently.

KT then, in a demonstration of true knit-sisterly love, drove me to my friend Astrid’s house through rush hour traffic on I-5 in the rain, with her two young men in the back who did become slightly bored with the process, small gentlemen though they are.  KT, you are a saint!

Thereafter, Astrid and her husband Greg very generously fed me and put me up overnight.  After a wonderful meal, the usual engaging conversation that occurs any time Astrid and Greg are in the room, and a stormy night/early morning, which I slept through most of, an absolutely gorgeous morning greeted me.  At which point, I remembered my camera…though I just realized I haven’t yet taken a picture of the way cool hand-dyed yarn that Astrid gave me!  (But it’s somewhat similar to this one in her etsy shop, but without the sparkle, and more colors.  Very pretty!  I love it!)  Here’s the view from Astrid and Greg’s deck on a stunning Seattle spring morning:

A few remnants of rain

soon evaporated, and after a lovely breakfast, Astrid continued her generosity by driving me to Sock Camp at Port Ludlow.

We had a lovely trip across the Kingston-Edmonds ferry!

And I got to show Astrid around the Inn at Port Ludlow a bit before she headed back.

The mountains came out to be seen, for Astrid.

We got to see a sea otter swimming by the docks!

So, after hugs were exchanged and Astrid headed home, I explored a bit, took a few more pictures,

had dinner in the bar with new and old friends, and then that evening

Sock Camp officially kicked off with a dessert reception and the sorting of the Tribes.  And the laying down of the Camp ground rules by Steph, baby Maggie and Tina.

After that….it was kind of a blur.  Oh, gee.  I wish I could have blogged concurrently, there is still so much to tell you, but this post is getting too long already!  But one highlight was mid-camp: the Talent Show.  Wow.

The knitters who come to Sock Camp are an amazingly talented bunch.  Knitting, of course.  But in many other ways.  I saw Dorie’s incredible quilt that left me almost speechless….it took a third place at American Quilter’s Society’s Paducah show (this is A Big Deal in the quilter world, and if you saw the quilt, you’d totally get it.)  My picture is abysmal:  I hoped the Harlot would blog her photo, but not to date.  (The quilt tells the story of Bernard, the timid cat who dreams of Africa.) And then there was Anne’s artwork, of which my photos are completely blurry, but you can see it for real at the link.  Amazing.

If I had done my little talent show offering AFTER those — I’m not sure I would have dared to perform!  But, I deliberately signed up to go first.  My voice was extremely iffy, as I was just recovering from a prolonged bout of The Plague (OK, some nasty virus that settled in my lungs).  So I drank some bourbon and hot tea, on the advice of my musician husband (though not too much bourbon, or I would not have been able to stand, let alone perform).  And quick, before my voice ‘went’ any more than it already had:

I got up and sang a little song about socks.  Written by yours truly.

So now you see the reason for the title?  Between my last post with the angelic teen voices singing a lovely song, the beautiful scenery at Astrid’s house and at Camp, and then my teammates (Dorie and Anne were both Fellow Foxes in Socks!) with their incredible art….definitely The Sublime.

and then — there is this….

Maybe This Time”. Definitely on the ridiculous side of the Sublime vs. Ridiculous scale!

(For the unedited song, with chatter before and after, including the American Idol-style “Camp Idol” judging by Steph, Tina,  and Stephen, see here…. this video also hints at the hidden story behind the name of one of Blue Moon Fiber Artsnewest colorways!)

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

This is the Night Sky that greeted me on my way home late-ish from work last night.

venus-and-ashen-light1

Venus is at the top left, and the sliver of the new moon/waxing crescent between the tree and our neighbor’s house.

So, no, there is no real star in the above picture!  But wait, and you’ll find out the real reason for the post title.

I was only home briefly, as we were on our way to see Bobby McFerrin at our local fine arts college.  I had gotten tickets for the whole family, and one extra so that the Gothlet could bring a friend.

What an amazing concert and incredible performer.  Not just that voice (with its four-octave range) and the vocal innovations of his one-person a cappella arrangements, but the energy and the creativity that overflowed the stage, and the entire 1000-seat sold-out theater.

At one point, he asked for audience members to come down and sing with him — to sing a song of their choice and then he would sing along in accompaniment and counterpoint.  I nudged the RockStar (who really does have a voice that’s a gift).  No one came down right away (we’re a bunch of diffident German/Scandinavians, and the college students, who are less shy, were all in the upper balcony).  So my (13-year-old!) RockStar got up and walked to the stage first; hopped up and sat easily on the edge of the stage with Bobby McFerrin in front of a thousand people with a cordless mic in her hand.  She sang “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” a cappella (of course) with perfect pitch and perfect poise.  (It was the first thing that came to her head that she knew he’d know, and which I think was inspired: she had such a sweet, pure tone; started off singing it ‘straight’, and on the last repetition, played with the melody slightly; and because it was so familiar, he really had fun with playing with his counterpoint second part.)  Then she got a hug.

WOW.

Later on, he asked for a small choir up on stage, and the Gothlet, not to be outdone, went up there with her friend (they have sung together in a city youth choir).  Also very cool, though they kind of got lost among the big people visually, but what they sang with each other and with Bobby was awesome (we got to sing with them too, at the end).

Wish I could have recorded these moments, but do you know what?  When I videotape or photograph something, I don’t see it quite the same way since I’m paying attention to framing the picture etc.  (I did have my camera with me, even.  But resisted the temptation — 1) not allowed, 2) see above, and 3) takes bad video!  Just wish you could have seen it too so you could know this wasn’t just a fond mother bragging.) In the end, perhaps this was better, since I was purely in the moment — 100%. 

Twinkle, twinkle, little — RockStar.

(I know, I know, not so little any more.)

Shine on!

Silent Night

The RockStar’s middle school combined grade choir singing and signing “Silent Night” last Thursday.  (Two of the RockStar’s friends appear at the beginning: singing the alto in the duet, and also the signer on the left.)  Watch to the end if you watch: it’s very cool.

Merry Christmas to all that celebrate it.

Where’s That Pause Button When You Need It?

Another crazy weekend done, and now only 3 days until Christmas.

Gulp.  Possibly the least-prepared I’ve ever been.  The house is a disaster area, we don’t have our tree up, I’m not even sure which presents I don’t have yet.

But I haven’t been sitting around eating bonbons!

Going in reverse:

Just got done portraying “Esther”, the matriarch of a nomadic shepherd family coming in to Bethlehem to try to sell a couple sheep. Unfortunately, the village is very full and the village elders (like the one below) wouldn’t let us in to sell our sheep because there was no room yet to do so.  So we pitched our tent outside the city to bide our time, and talked to people coming through for the census.  And I spun wool into yarn, naturally.  Pictures to come at some point (from other people’s cameras).

shepherd-and-elder

(That village elder would be my father!).

Lots of fun, I’m exhausted, and I now have six balls of singles to ply.  Not the best yarn in the world, but it IS yarn (and will be plied yarn soon.  Well,  after the holidays).

Night before that, shepherding not sheep, but six preteens through the snow to see the movie “Twilight”  (the majority for the second time; I think they’re in love with Edward).  Plus an Urgent Care visit (nothing serious, just annoying).

Night before that, a piano recital. The Gothlet’s.  Here she is, demonstrating (under duress) the latest in Wisconsin evening fashion.

the-well-dressed-wisconsin

Well, OK, she changed her footwear for the actual recital.

It’s always fun to see the recitals, remembering that it wasn’t that long ago that she was the size of the kindergarteners at the same recital, whose feet are nowhere near touching the floor.

small-piano-player

And now she looks like this.

10-year-old-pianist

This recital was a bit of a stressor for me, too, as we played a duet; the which I only found out about two weeks beforehand (getting not so good at the telling me about these things, the Gothlet is — or isn’t).  Then, because despite finally getting on the stick and practicing her little fingers off, she was NOT getting the hang of the duet.  (I think it was a little above her level.)  She could have just skipped it, but we ended up changing to a different duet — 3 days before the recital!  LOTS more practicing ensued, on my part too (I’m really not that good a piano player, I only took piano for a few years, and this is starting to approach my limits).  But we pulled off  “Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” with a few minor wobbles but a strong finish.

The night before:  The RockStar’s choir concert (she had a short solo).

choir-concert

Though I recorded her solo on my not-so-great-sound-quality camera, I’ll spare you that.  However, I will want to share with you the choir’s rendition of “Silent Night”.  Her choir director performed it in a way that seems to be becoming a yearly tradition now: first sung as an a cappella solo (duet this year) with accompanying ASL signing; then choral singing with accompaniment; then humming with choral signing; then signing silently: truly a “Silent Night”.   It rather gives me goosebumps.  The RockStar’s friend did signing and another friend sang the alto part for the duet.  I thought I had uploaded the song to YouTube, but it was the wrong song.  Thus I’ll add in the YouTube video once I get it uploaded, or blog it later…I didn’t want to delay this post ANY MORE.

Before that:  working late, some child had to go shopping emergently as I recall also, and then there was Nutcracker, of course, with a band concert in the middle.

No action pictures from the Nutcracker performance (not allowed to photograph in the theater), but here’s the Chinese dancer in the dressing room..

dressing-room-chinese

Who received a floral tribute….

nutcracker-flowers

She danced beautifully.  And in a very rat-like manner when appropriate.

Phew.  I think that brings us up to speed.  Now for choir rehearsals tonight and tomorrow night for a Christmas Eve cantata, and a RockStar home puking today.  (Cross our — frequently washed — fingers that no one else gets the bug.)

Now, I’m still looking for that TRULY Universal Remote with the Pause Button!  The one that works on Life too!  Seen one anywhere?

A Little Song, A Little Dance, A Little Knitting

Last night was my 13-year-old daughter, the RockStar’s, first public show choir performance of the school year.    (And so it begins.)  (Actually, it’s relatively mellow at the middle school level.)  But she had a crazy end-of-the-weekend — which meant I did too.  All weekend gone at a confirmation retreat (and it’s kind of like sleepovers, they tend to come back sleep-deprived from these); arrive home well after the time she’s supposed to be at the performance venue (her director knew this would be the case, but the retreat took priority); speed make-up and hair (oops, dress should go on BEFORE the hot rollers — I could have told her that), and onto stage without having a chance to rehearse, to perform 5 songs (the other middle school did 3) during one of which she sang a solo.  After a dinner break, do it again, then immediately leave for a Nutcracker rehearsal that she was also late for.  Poor RockStar.  (And I don’t say that very often.)  Of course, assisting with that was most of my Sunday afternoon/evening too.

But the concert was great.  This was part of a fundraiser for one of the high schools’ show choir, so also in the concert was that very highly regarded HS show choir, their girls’ show choir, and a second middle school choir.  I enjoyed all the performances.  My husband and other daughter chose to come to the later show and just hear the RockStar’s choir.  They’re not so much into the show choir thing.

show-choir-november-08

rockstar-show-choir (jazz hands!) jazz-hands

And I could knit a bit here and there.  (Lots of waiting time, and a lasagna dinner after the first show.)

So what am I knitting currently, now that the Coulee shawl is off the needles?  (Speaking of which, my only photographer around yesterday afternoon was the Gothlet.  She was willing — she loves photography.  A quick glance at the results on the camera showed that my 10-year-old takes pictures at least as good as my husband does, I think.  But the pictures are on her brand new camera (she’s been working hard and is a good saver!) and it doesn’t play well with PhotoShop as far as uploading automatically.  So I have to wrestle them out when I have time.  Which obviously I didn’t last night — the shawl photo shoot was in the 5 minutes before the RockStar got home.)

Well, there’s a certain little baby hat which is almost done, for a certain little Boston-area baby who is also almost done.  I’ll wait to show you that.

Also, I started a scarf two days ago.  Once again: there’s a story.  (There’s always a story.)

When the Gothlet was with me at Ewetopia Fiber Shop last Friday during spinning intro (and also, Kathryn had asked about Rhinebeck, so she and her mother got subjected to Rhinebeck show and tell for a bit), Gothlet got a bit bored since there wasn’t the opportunity for her to get her hands on a spindle right then.  So — I had an inspiration.

I had knit her this scarf several years ago (shown on frosty snowy grass):

noro-kureyon-mistake-rib-sc

It’s the Child’s Rainbow Scarf (Ravelry link) from “Last Minute Gifts” by Joelle Hoverson.  Two different skeins of Noro Kureyon.  She picked out the colors.

Well, the Gothlet has sensitive skin, and you know how Kureyon is.  Not the softest.  She loves it, loves the colors — but doesn’t wear it.

Plus, it’s called the Child’s Rainbow Scarf because it’s pretty small.

So EVEN before the Yarn Harlot’s recent post, indeed on seeing The Kat’s parade of lovely Noro Striped Scarves, after previously seeing them here and there in the blogosphere, I had thought about making her another similar scarf, but using Noro Silk Garden (I knit her the above right around the time Silk Garden came out, before I had seen or felt any), and probably using the single rib Noro Striped Scarf idea:  I like the pseudo-stockinette-but-without-curling look, the thickness of single rib, and ribbing doesn’t irritate me knitting continental, the way it used to knitting English-style.

Thus, I suggested to the Gothlet, to occupy her time, that she go find two colors of Silk Garden to make a scarf ‘like her old one, but softer’.  (And everything was 10% off that night!)  She was extremely willing.  And she came back with two skeins that I also thought were going to look awesome together.  Only problem:  I would want two skeins of each, to avoid a wimpy scarf.  And there was only one skein left of the one color.

However — I was 99.9% sure I had bought that same color of Silk Garden,  the last time I was at Ewetopia, a month or so ago: 3 skeins for a Pioneer Braid Scarf.  I was certainly willing for the Gothlet to scrounge one of those skeins; the Pioneer Braid Scarf was not yet designated for a recipient, and I was sure I could find another skein somewhere anyway.

When we got home — YES!  Success!  Same color, same dye lot (such as it is).

So here is the Noro Striped Scarf, Gothlet style, which I knit on over the weekend in bits and pieces of time:

noro-striped-scarf-in-progr1

I think the Gothlet has a fantastic color sense.  Now, look at the skeins themselves.

silk-garden-skeins

I’m not sure I would have picked those two out — well, not the bright one (color 258).  (Obviously, I liked the other one, color 252.)  But they play really well together so far, and I think will continue to do so.  Not that La Gothlet minds some brightness and contrast, or what I might myself describe as clashing.

Anyway, she’s got an eye for color.  Whereas, the RockStar’s got an ear for music.  And my husband’s the cook — taste and smell? Besides the ear also.

Leaves me touch, as far as the five senses, I guess.  Mmmm, I love me some nice soft yarn.  Or fiber, now, too!  And I can knit by touch.  Fair enough.

R is for Rock Star

Probably the Former Preteen’s new nickname.

(Before anyone asks – NOT a real tattoo!)

She and her band performed 7 (!) songs beautifully last night, at the church block party.  Because of Rain, the performance moved indoors, to the large multipurpose-type room (where the small children’s games had also been moved).  I’m not sure the little people or their parents were quite ready for the hard Rock, though any profanity in the songs was cleaned up before singing.  (Actually, I heard reports of small ones dancing to the music!)

This kid has talked and sung into mics at her father’s studio since she was about three, and it shows.  Plus, she definitely got her father’s performer genes.  She introduced the band and each song, and seemed totally comfortable up there, whether talking or singing her heart out.

I didn’t take any videos last night, though others did.  I’ll let you know if any are put up on YouTube.  The band closed with “Holiday” by Green Day, though, which I did film earlier on my camera, when it was their only ready-for-prime-time song.

These guys have worked hard, all on their own, for a year.  It’ll be a challenge keeping it up, as three of the band members are now in high school and even busier with H.S. activities; the RockStar has three roles in the Nutcracker Ballet, which leads to great busy-ness, in addition to volleyball and Show Choir plus dance class and assorted other things; and it’s going to be harder to communicate, coordinate and practice when band members are split between different schools.  But if they want it to happen, it will.

Edited to add:  The RockStar wanted me to put up the ‘other’ band picture instead, so here it is.

Hmm, the RockStar’s School Colors fingerless mitts are virtually done (should be finished today).  (I’ll show them to you when they are finito.)  If the boys in the band are anything like my musician husband, I bet the band members would like fingerless mitts too (basic black, of course) — sized snugly and made short so that one can wear them while playing.  (In fact, at least one or two of the above boys are in HS marching band; those practices can get chilly as they prepare for the big Oktoberfest parade!)

I wish there was a me that could just knit!  (And blog, and be on Ravelry, and go to fiber festivals….) I have so many things I want and need to do in the knitting realm!  Wendy’s Diamonds and Purls shawl has a bit more tinking then I can get back on track, and will soon be to the edging once I recover from my boo-boo.  I want to finish Swan Lake, as I made so much progress on it during the Ravelympics, and now I’m to the more straightforward part, which is very do-able.  And there are Christmas presents in my head wanting to get out and be knit.  Not to mention finishing writing up the Hat with no Name pattern (with names!) once the test knitting phase is done, and writing up the Coulee Shawl pattern after reknitting it with modifications, and still I’ve promised to write up the Wedding Pi shawl (that will take a chunk of time).  Then there are a couple design projects in my head that need to be swatched and worked out.  And I still have promised to knit “Heere Be Dragone” for the Gothlet, though I already warned her I would probably only be able to start it after Christmas (her birthday’s in February….)

And every skein of yarn I fondle triggers another idea, another project in my head.

I need a knitting clone!  Or a different lifestyle.  Or both….

Well, at least I can knit at the RockStar’s concerts!

Waiting For Sunday

Waiting for Sunday: The (current) title of The Preteen’s band.

Yes, the 12-year-old is a rock star. She came back from camp directly (well, pausing only for a shower and proper hair preparation) to the band’s first public performance (after one at school). (Two of her bandmates’ fathers are in a weekend band that played at the Farmer’s Market, and Waiting for Sunday played their one song that’s ready for public consumption at their break. Then a thunderstorm hit, so that was the end of everyone’s playing in any case.

This is no bubblegum band, no. As I alluded to before, they chose for their first song an anti-war song by Green Day, “Holiday”. At school, they had to leave out the words to the bridge because it was a bit too strong for school district policies (and they did change one word even now, which I actually think was very appropriate given their age & audience).

But I totally applaud them.

Here they are, live on video: and you’ll be happy to know I’ve improved my camera videography skills since the last Preteen video I put before you (though it’s still a camera and not a camcorder, so the sound quality is not ideal; also, sorry about the false start, the guitarist had just broken and replaced a string, & there is a brief 15 sec delay at the beginning as he makes sure he’s ready; I don’t have editing software….). Lyrics are below since they’re hard to hear often, though clearer than in the Green Day live video of this song, in my opinion…


“HOLIDAY”

Say, hey!

Hear the sound of the falling rain
Coming down like an Armageddon flame (Hey!)
The shame
The ones who died without a name

Hear the dogs howling out of key
To a hymn called “Faith and Misery” (Hey!)
And bleed, the company lost the war today

I beg to dream and differ from the hollow lies
This is the dawning of the rest of our lives
On holiday

Hear the drum pounding out of time
Another protester has crossed the line (Hey!)
To find, the money’s on the other side

Can I get another Amen? (Amen!)
There’s a flag wrapped around a score of men (Hey!)
A gag, a plastic bag on a monument

I beg to dream and differ from the hollow lies
This is the dawning of the rest of our lives
On holiday

“The representative from California has the floor”

Sieg Heil to the president Gasman
Bombs away is your punishment
Pulverize the Eiffel towers
Who criticize your government
Bang bang goes the broken glass and
Kill all [those] that don’t agree
Trials by fire, setting fire
Is not a way that’s meant for me
Just ’cause, just ’cause, because we’re outlaws yeah!

I beg to dream and differ from the hollow lies
This is the dawning of the rest of our lives
I beg to dream and differ from the hollow lies
This is the dawning of the rest of our lives

This is our lives on holiday

So — I’m proud of her as all get-out; she and the other kids have worked hard and done a great job, especially considering they’re 12 to 14-year-olds, and they’ve done this all on their own.

And, in the glorious contradiction and dichotomy of adolescence — she is so grounded for the rest of the weekend.

Illicit opening and use of her mother’s sunless tanner that was brand new in a sealed container, unauthorized use of make-up (at 12, we have rules about when make-up can be worn; while singing with the band was OK, taking it to/wearing it at camp was not); eating Cheetos over the computer keyboard (and leaving them on the computer desk), not moving (her own, even) laundry from the washer to the dryer when asked, not cleaning her room when directed, then whining hard about not being allowed to stay longer at a friend’s house — all in 24 hours! (The punishment is not specifically for using up all the toilet paper and not replacing it, when there was no more toilet paper or even Kleenex in the bathroom, but that incident didn’t make me any happier yesterday morning when I, um, ‘discovered’ the lapse either.) I guess right now she’s “Waiting For Monday”, when the grounding is over (assuming no more incidents today and some cleaning actually happens).

Six more years. . . . Deity help me.

Mom, quit laughing. Don’t think I don’t hear you.

The Power of Bob

Bob who?

Margene knows!

The one and only Bob Dylan!

What mystic power does Bob have?

Well, just because I posted his pants on my blog last week, buried in the rest of the rock memorabilia, a link was put on a major Bob Dylan website called expectingrain.com.

That link generated over one thousand hits that day. Bigger even than the day that the Yarn Harlot linked the Tsock Tsarina and she linked me! (Granted, I think that if the YH had for some inexplicable reason linked me directly, I suspect it might have outnumbered Bob’s pants, since the two degrees of separation link was a fairly minor detail in Lisa’s post.)  I was one of WordPress’ “Fastest Growing Blogs” that day, there for everyone and their neighbor to see.

Just for that, I think I have to let you all admire Bob’s jeans (and guitar) again.

(Here are the pants of a thousand hits.)

The jeans are very faded black Levi’s, with silver buttons sewn on the outside seam, a couple missing. (These were obviously well-loved and well-worn pants.) As a commenter pointed out, it just doesn’t seem right to see Bob’s nether half barefoot, he needs boots. But apparently the Hard Rock Hotel doesn’t own any Bob Dylan boots and of course would not put boots of unknown provenance on. Someone needs to donate some authentic Bob boots so our sense of propriety is intact.

The guitar, as it said in the plaque, is an Everly Brothers (!) model Gibson J-180 guitar, used on stage and on the LPs “In the Groove”, and “Oh, Mercy”. Subsequently, Bob apparently went back to playing Martin guitars (hey, good choice, I have a Martin! Of course, I bought my husband a gorgeous Gibson J-200 for his 40th birthday, right before I presented him with a daughter the next day, and it’s a great guitar as well. Good-looking daughter, too.)

I walked by Bob’s pants many times a day while staying in the Hard Rock Hotel Chicago, since I was on the Bob Dylan floor and the memorabilia and wall art are right by the elevators.

I have felt the power of Bob.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

On a timely somewhat-knitting-related note, go see Franklin’s post from last night and find out about the power within YOU.

Rock Nostalgia

Walking the Halls of the Hard Rock Hotel

So I promised a blog tour of the rock & roll memorabilia here at the hotel I was staying at, while in Chicago recently for a meeting. The meeting was not at this hotel; it was about 4 blocks away. But the meeting hotel was so outrageously expensive, even at the ‘special meeting rates’, that I shopped around — and found the Hard Rock Hotel Chicago! Hotel prices in downtown Chicago of course are pricey, but the Hard Rock, which is on North Michigan Ave., was a good value for what truly is an upscale luxury hotel, with very attentive staff, in a gorgeous historic building.

With unique decor!

Did I tell you Gene Simmons was in my bathroom?

That took me aback, I must admit. Elvis Costello was in my bedroom, less shocking somehow, he’s just dancing above my desk.

(My husband has met and worked with Elvis Costello, and an old friend of ours dated him years ago, so somehow it seems as though it’s OK that he’s in my room, we might have been introduced at some point. Gene, though — another story!)

Back to the nostalgia tour.

I have fond memories of all the rockers on the Hard Rock Hotel Chicago memorabilia list — except Lenny Kravitz, ’cause apparently I’m old. (After the Preteen was born, there was a dramatic dropoff in how tuned-in I was to popular culture. Lack of sleep, and time and energy spent in production of large amounts of milk does that to you.) As I was writing this post, I was listening to some of his music, though, and I like it.

So here are the (less than studio quality) photographs, of the memorabilia of the musicians you (and I) wanted to see, in order going up from the ground floor, with random personal annotations. I took pictures of all, but this post is already WAY long, so I’m only putting in the rockers you all mentioned as your favorites (plus mine, too, of course, I also get a vote!) Click on the plaque thumbnails of musicians that interest you, or anything else small you want to see bigger (I rather like guitars so took some detail pictures).

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Styx

(I know how to spell it, but it was misspelled Styxx on the card in my room, and I thought I was wrong temporarily. Not!)

In junior high school, we had to choreograph a modern dance piece to a popular song, and I chose “Come Sail Away” by Styx.

“I’m sailing away; set an open course for the virgin sea

I’ve got to be free, free to face the life that’s ahead of me.

On board I’m the captain, so climb aboard

We’ll search for tomorrow on every shore

And I’ll try, oh Lord, I’ll try — to carry on.

I’m not sure why in particular I chose this song — maybe thinking about moving on to high school and thence the rest of my life, and the tempo change worked well for a dance number — but I do still have a couple Styx LPs in the basement. “Paradise Theatre”, a concept album, was one I played a lot at one point. (There, Nora and Sandy, two things that also have changed since high school: 1) LPs vs. CDs, and 2) gym class segregated by gender. So far, my girls have essentially always had co-ed phy ed.)

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Rolling Stones.

Dang, I missed their memorabilia somehow. I thought I hit every floor going down, but there may have been a stair weirdness.

Well, the Stones are the Stones. What can one say? They were rocking before I was sentient, during my formative years, throughout my young adulthood, and they’re still rocking. One of the lyrics that I hear in my head when I think of the Stones:

“I’ve been walkin’ Central Park, singing in the dark,

People think I’m crazy.”

Reminds me of walking home from a party at the University of Minnesota in way subzero weather as a college freshman, singing, and the boys walking us home thinking I was bombed. I wasn’t — I just sang all the time in public. (Now I knit in public — and still occasionally sing in public. Some people probably still think I’m crazy. (Or drunk.) My Preteen just thinks I’m terminally embarrassing. Ha!)

Here, in place of whatever the cool memorabilia was that I totally missed, is the elevator of the Hard Rock Hotel; I feel sure the Stones played at least some of these guitars….coolest meeting room names ever.

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Aerosmith.

Steven Tyler’s tour outfit above. Background music for much of my teens. I actually like Aerosmith much more now, I think. The influence of my husband? Though he often tells the story about how I called him, several weeks before our wedding and before he was due to move out to where I was living at the time, after he had been cutting ties, selling guitars, etc., saying (after I’d had a bad 36 hours at work and not enough sleep): “Maybe we should have lived together first?” I was panicking a little, thinking about coming home not to my nice quiet apartment but to, yes, Aerosmith and AC/DC blasting on my stereo! My then-fiancé was a little upset, thinking I had cold feet (I didn’t, just a momentary bit of angst). But it’s true that Aerosmith was part of my angst; too funny now.

My high school boyfriend had “Toys in the Attic”, I remember, and played it again and again. Or was that my brother? Maybe both of them. I think the archetypal Aerosmith song for me from the past is “Walk This Way” — with the guitar/bass licks that get stuck in your head, and the verses whose words I could never quite understand. Maybe that’s just as well. The chorus is pretty straightforward:

Walk this way!

Walk this way!

Walk this way!

(somehow now that reminds me of John Cleese as the minister of funny walks. Or Young Frankenstein.)

And we think pants are low cut THESE days?

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Beatles.

Some of the first songs I learned for myself on the guitar were Beatles songs; so I could sing and play simultaneously. Lennon & McCartney really are one of the best songwriting duos ever in my opinion; they complemented each other, mysticism and passion with those sweet pop melodies and then George Martin’s amazing producing, the cherry on the top. My friends and I used to sing Beatles songs in harmony all the time, and another high school boyfriend had a Beatles band. Definitely the soundtrack to my younger childhood. My daughters grew up with the “Yellow Submarine” movie, their main exposure to the Beatles. One of my favorites that’s in that movie is “When I’m 64”, especially with the animation:

“You can knit a sweater by the fireside.

Sunday mornings, go for a ride.”


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Bob Dylan.

From my home state; “Positively 4th Street” may refer to the street bordering Dinkytown, the University of Minnesota area where Bob Dylan first played folk music (he was a rock ‘n roller with an electric guitar when he came to college from Hibbing, Minnesota). I lived in Dinkytown when I was a student (along with a gazillion other people, of course). “Highway 61 Revisited” definitely refers to the highway which runs from Minnesota, along the Mississippi, down south (here’s pictures of my little piece of it!). When I learned to play guitar, when I was about 8, besides the Beatles, I played a lot of folk music. And one of my favorites, besides “Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall”, for some reason (pre-preteen angst, perhaps), was “The Times They Are a-Changin'”. Picture mini-me cross-legged on my bed with my little nylon string guitar, singing passionately “Come gather round, people, wherever you roam, and admit that the waters around you have grown.” Maybe it was the fourth verse:

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly agin’.
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’.

Boy, my parents put up with a lot.

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BB King.

I love the blues. The funny thing is, I love them more than my husband (it’s funny because he can play the blues like nobody’s business). I love to sing them, way down low in my deepest alto range. I’ve written a couple blues songs in my sordid past. (Now, I think all my creative energy goes into knitting instead.) The archetypal BB King song is, of course, “The Thrill is Gone”, though that always reminds me then of a John Gorka song,

“BB King was wrong, the thrill it isn’t gone,

the thrill it is here, it is now, it is strong.”

So as I’m looking up B.B. King’s website, I find out he was playing in Chicago the night of the day I left. Chicago Blues Festival in Grant Park, free (I LOVE Chicago!). And now I find out that I missed Koko Taylor Friday night! I love her music too. I could have gone to hear some zydeco Saturday night, and if not for the tornado watch and severe thunderstorms, I definitely would have.

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Cheap Trick.

Soundtrack to my high school days, WAY. “Live at Budokan”? Not that I ever had a record, but who needed one, it was blasting from my brother’s basement room. And at every high school dance I went to.

I want you to want me.

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Chicago.

Here are Beth’s horns! Chicago in Chicago, very apropos. Beth or anyone else who wants to read the piano, don’t mess up your neck, try clicking on this:

Supposedly, Chicago was the leading band with chart-topping singles in the 70s. All those classic ballads: “Colour my World”, “25 or 6 to 4”, so many, many more…..

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Madonna.

Always changing and reinventing herself, always a consummate performer.

We are living in a material world, and I am a material girl.

Though I (again) think more of Madonna’s music now in some ways than I did then, I also have a pang of sympathy for the parents of my generation, as they saw this blonde dressed in a pointy bra and hardly there skirt singing ‘Like a Virgin” to their preteen girls.

I love how the mannequin can’t handle the platform shoes.

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AC/DC.

Relegated to the category of “my brother’s music” when I was growing up, other than the hits that were overplayed; now I rather lurve AC/DC. Oh, yeah.

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The Who. (John Entwhistle)

I’ve always loved the Who. Back in elementary school, I used to save my allowance to buy singles. My brother and I would go to the local discount store and buy 45s; you had to put a little plastic adaptor in to play it on your record player. One of my selections was “Behind Blue Eyes”. I played that 45 until I’m sure my brother was sick of it (hey, payback for all the serious heavy metal!): on a little white portable phonograph, which I recall for some reason playing in the driveway, with a long extension cord — probably so I could dance around. You had to put a nickel on the tone arm or it skipped. (I’m sure that did great things to the record’s grooves.)

Tell me, who are you?

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Elton John

Another musician I took for granted at the time, and now recognize as an accomplished songwriter, together with his collaborator, Bernie Taupin. A true performer, and what a varied array of hits over the years! I don’t think I had any Elton John records growing up, but I bought a big collection CD some years ago despite mocking from certain members of my family.

One of my friends drew my name for a “secret santa” thing we do at work; he gave me a tiny ornament that’s a little jointed ballerina made of beads, who sits on my desk clock at work. Every time I see her, I can’t help but think, “Tiny Dancer”.

Blue jean baby, L.A. lady, seamstress for the band
Pretty eyed, pirate smile, you’ll marry a music man
Ballerina, you must have seen her dancing in the sand
And now she’s in me, always with me, tiny dancer in my hand.

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Prince.

My generation’s parents must have hated Prince. This androgynous, provocatively dressing rocker who sang about things they didn’t want us listening to songs about (reportedly Tipper Gore catching her 12-year-old daughter listening to “Darling Nikki” led to album ratings, and all the controversy at the time). I don’t remember any flack from my parents, though I probably listened to Prince more in college than in high school. I saw him perform at First Avenue in Minneapolis back then. I danced my teenage behind off to more Prince songs than I can remember now. He’s a different kind of a guy, but the man knows how to write songs and how to rock funky, I have to admit.

Yeah, they say two thousand zero zero party over
Oops out of time
So tonight I’m gonna party like it’s 1999

(Remember, we were dancing to that in 1983!)

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Annie Lennox

A solo musician as well, but in my life soundtrack, I hear that distinctive clear voice within the band Eurythmics. “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) was playing any time you went out to dance in the early ’80s. But there were so many great Eurythmics songs: “It’s Alright (Baby’s Coming Back)”, “Wrap it Up”, “Would I Lie to You?”, “Right By Your Side”, and one of my favorites, “Love is a Stranger”:

Love is a danger
Of a different kind
To take you away
And leave you far behind
And love love love
Is a dangerous drug
You have to receive it
And you still can’t
Get enough of the stuff….

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Tina Turner

How does the woman do it? Wouldn’t we all like to know? Energy, voice and legs that just don’t quit.

And, as you might have read in my dance manifesto, Tina and Ike Turner’s “Proud Mary” was the music for my first public dance performance since I was 5.

I left a good job in the city
Working for the man every night and day
And I never lost one minute of sleeping
Worrying bout the way things might have been…

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Jimi Hendrix


I grew up taking this ground-breaking singer and guitarist for granted, because he’d been around since forever as far as I knew. I’m told it was mind-blowing at the time, hearing what the man could do on an electric guitar. This was not your parents’ rock and roll! And I won’t tell you the whole story, because it’s my husband’s to tell and he does it much better, but it was sneaking into a Chicago club WAY underage and hearing this skinny black guy that he’d never heard of make his guitar sing, scream and wail, that changed my husband’s life; literally, way back in the 60s.

Purple Haze was in my brain,
lately things don’t seem the same,
actin’ funny but I don’t know why
‘scuse me while I kiss the sky.

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Kiss

More albums from the basement (i.e. music coming up from my brother’s room through the floorboards). The only Kiss song I halfway liked was “Beth“, Peter Criss’ ballad. But they were always entertaining to watch, a grand spectacle, which was (and is) their main claim to fame, I’m thinking.

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Led Zeppelin.

This band opened my ears to what inspiration from folk music and so much more, mixed with electric guitars, shifting rhythms, poetry, could do together. Battle of Evermore. Yeah, yeah, Stairway to Heaven, I figured it out on the guitar like everyone else. But I never played it in public; I spared the world that. “Wanton Song” was the music to which one of my dance teachers choreographed a contemporary ballet piece

for the advanced dancers at this year’s recital; last year, she used “Rain Song” for a very cool dance as well.

These are the seasons of emotion
And like the winds they rise and fall
This is the wonder of devotion —
I see the torch we all must hold.

Hard core Zep fans will recognize “The Object” above.

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Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, this concludes this blog Rock Nostalgia tour, courtesy of the Hard Rock Hotel Chicago! I appreciate your fortitude in reading to the end.

Tomorrow, we return to our regularly scheduling knitting and random programming….