Friday fanfare: “The Rattlesnake Trail”

Rock Island isn’t exactly one of Jethro Tull’s most acclaimed albums, but it’s actually got some really nifty stuff on it, including this toe-tapper that I particularly love to play while driving…….

Friday fanfare: “Speedway at Nazareth”

One of my absolute favorite songs is this Mark Knopfler number from his 2000 solo album Sailing to Philadelphia, which then became a staple of his live shows after that. It’s a great song, about the life of a mid-range stock car driver going from race to race. Knopfler’s songwriting excels at creating characters, and many of his greatest songs end with a killer lengthy instrumental. Indeed, that was the hallmark of Knopfler’s work with Dire Straits, and there’s a lot this song has in common with “Telegraph Road,” my favorite Dire Straits song.

Anyhow, here’s one of many stellar live performances of the song from a 2010 concert in Cordoba:

Friday fanfare: “Fire on the Bayou”

The New Orleans traditional song variously known as “Iko Iko” and “Fire on the Bayou” and any number of other titles has been performed by a variety of musicians over the years, most famously the great Dr. John. One of my absolute favorites, though, is by Jim Byrnes, the Canadian actor/musician probably best known for his role as Joe Dawson on Highlander: The Series. This version, from his live album I Turned My Nights Into Days, is fantastic.

Friday fanfare: “Then the Music Begins”

In the 1990s, I was part of a rock/blues/country group called the Don’t Quit Your Day Job Players. We started out as a trio — me on percussion, Peter J. Heck on lead guitar and vocals, David M. Honigsberg on rhythm guitar and vocals. Pete and David would trade lead vocals on various songs, and were sometimes joined by Alexandra Elizabeth Honigsberg on violin or viola, Rik Cleary on bass, and Eric Raymond on flute.

We cut a CD in 1996 entitled TKB, with Alexandra, Rik, and Nat Andreassi on drums joining in. Rik and Alexandra would eventually formally join the band, and then Pete left, replaced by Steven L. Rosenhaus. Steve is also a songwriter, and plays guitar and mandolin, and with this lineup in place, joined by Tom Laubenthal on drums, we recorded our second CD, Blues Spoken Here, in 1999. Rik quit the band after we cut the CD, and we went through a bunch of bass players and drummers over the next year and a half before we called it quits in 2000.

Steve and David both recorded solo albums after that, and Steve was kind enough to ask me to sit in on percussion on three tracks on his A Man Like Me. Here’s one of them, “Then the Music Begins,” a hauntingly beautiful number with some great Spanish guitar work and a bongo beat I’m particularly pleased with. Check it out…..

Friday fanfare: “Slippery People”

The existence of The Last Waltz precludes Stop Making Sense from being the greatest concert movie ever made, but Jonathan Demme’s movie of a Talking Heads concert from 1984 is pretty damn awesome, and this is one of my favorite songs from it, the stellar live version of “Slippery People,” which is a decent little new-wave-y/reggae-ish song on Speaking in Tongues, but live in the movie is a much more intense, rockin’ number with guitars and bongos emphasized over synthesizers.

Friday fanfare: “New York State of Mind”

A year ago today, I went to a Billy Joel concert with a dear friend, the first time I saw Joel in concert, even though I’ve been a fan of his since childhood. (As an attendee of a Catholic High School, “Only the Good Die Young” was a favorite of mine as a teenager, and “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant” will always be a favorite of this Italian American.)

Here’s one of my favorites of his, because it’s about my city: “New York State of Mind.”