Stars Shining Without Darkness

Stars that shine in our lives  without darkness who fill the silence in our lives with the warmth of their music.


The Ventures – Walk Don’t Run (1960)
Achieved worldwide fame with their own distinctive instrumental style that inspired countless young guitar enthusiasts to practice practice practice the Tacoma Washington groups fretboard virtuosity and start their own groups in the early 60’s.Walk Don’t Run was originally a jazz tune by Johnny Smith in 1954, going on to be interpreted fingerstyle by Chet Atkins in the mid 50’s before The Ventures cut their version.Great guitarists are not great because of their technique they are great because of their passion.
Laura Tate – The Boy’s Are Back In Town (2017)
I just love this masterful rendition of Thin Lizzy’s classic from Dallas born Actress Singer Laura Tate which mesmerised me when I first heard it on Noel Casey’s After Midnight Radio Show on 103.2 Dublin City FM. Laura has reimagined and reconstructed Phil Lynott’s tune bringing out the young man Dublin back street emotion and feeling in the lyrics superbly. What is a sacred classic rocking Thin Lizzy anthem has been respectfully converted into a warm heartfelt, bluesy, soulful, jazzy vocal ballad. The Gardai arrested two kids in town earlier, one was drinking battery acid and the other was eating fireworks so they charged one and let the other one off.
Electric Light Orchestra – Bouncer (1980)
Nobody moved The Beatles creativity legacy needle forward or better in 70’s / 80s than Jeff Lynne and the Electric Light Orchestra and for me, it’s captured on Bouncer which was on an ELO early 80’s B Side gem on the flip side of Four Little Diamonds no pun intended. History repeats itself which is good because most people don’t pay attention the first time anyway.
Earl Scruggs & Lester Flatt – Foggy Mountain Breakdown (1949)
An enduring anthem of bluegrass and banjo music featuring the genre changing 3 finger style banjo picking style of Earl Scruggs. The song and the musical style first grabbed my attention in the Bonnie and Clyde movie as well their Ballad of Jed Clampett theme song for The Beverly Hillbillies but over the years I admired the courage of these guys to experiment with altered tunings and mixing up major and minor chords to create tension and atmosphere. Both musicians had cut their teeth touring with Bill Monroe before launching their own partnership.
Earl almost experienced many injuries over his touring career in car and plane crashes but always bounced back with a fighting spirit to his music.
I will guarantee you that the day you step outside your comfort zone by making success your goal is the day you discover that adversity, risk, and daring will make life sweeter than you ever imagined
Junior Wells & Buddy Guy – Look Over Yonder Wall (1965)
This LP was a game changer when it first came out for Chicago Blues which had only been popularised by singles up to that point and inspired countless guitarists to take the blues and follow the blueprint laid down here by Buddy Guy on guitar, Jack Myers on Bass and Billy Warren on Drums with Junior Wells on the Mississippi Saxophone and frontman duties. This is a good landmark in the evolution of Chicago Blues in that some of 50’s energy had branched off into Rock and Roll but there has always been a Chicago sound captured here that stays close to the original electric Muddy Waters foot stomping road house Chicago juke joint blues of the 50’s. Never seen Junior Wells unfortunately but I have seen Buddy Guy many times over the years in Dublin, Bishopstock,Chicago, New Orleans and he is Mr Bluesman in my book.
The leader must know must know that he knows and must be able to make it abundantly clear to those about him that he knows
Chris O Leary Band  – Hook Line and Sinker  (2015)
Enjoyed a great foot stomping performance from the stocky former marine and New York Blues Harp blower Chris O Leary and his band of great musicians in the Harbour Bar in Bray. My first visit to this venue married with a superb high energy show that paid homage memorably to Sonny Boy (Rice Miller) Williamson and Chris’s love for the music of New Orleans. A seasoned group of musicians on stage many of them involved with Levon Helm’s musical projects prior to leaving us for the great beyond. Very entertaining front man Chris revealing a lot about his relationships and inspirations makes it a fun experience for fans.
I am attracting loving relationships into my life.
Bob Dylan – The Times They Are A Changin  (1964)
This protest anthem came into my life as a result of coming across and reading Steve Jobs autobiography  while  in a Airbnb holiday home belonging to a computer programmer down in Portroe Tipperary looking out over Lough Derg where Steve recalls his obsession with the music of Bob Dylan and his penchant  for collecting bootlegs of Bob’s  concerts and rated this live version as one of his favourites which refreshed the song in my life. Bob used his love of old Irish ballads to construct the structure and style of the song and being the gifted wordsmith that he is, fashioned the perfect protest song. Bob’s lyrics come right across the room and grab your attention by the lapels.
Not knowing when the dawn will come I open every door
Nina Simone – I Wish I Knew How To Be Free (1967)
When we lost the great movie reviewer Barry Norman who was a man of true confidence who knew what he liked and accepted no substitute it reignited my interest in this song which was his theme song in more ways than one. The common denominator for me for both Nina and Barry was honesty and passion and the courage to stick to your convictions.
Honesty is something you can’t wear out. 
Bennie Spellman – Fortune Teller (1962)
This was a popular cover tune for the mid 60’s R&B and Mod groups and I have listened to various interpretations but nothing compares to the New Orleans singers original especially after my visit to New Orleans which helped me define the magic of music from that region. Bennie also worked on Venus and Mars LP for Paul McCartney & Wings in the 70’s.
Originality is simply a fresh pair of eyes.
Sweet Cecilia – Love Is Easy (2017) https://www.sweetceciliagirls.com/
Ever since I witnessed this passionate exciting and beyond cool family band at the New Orleans Jazz Festival I have kept in touch with their musical adventures. Laura, Meagan and Cousin Callie create amazing harmonies that float effortlessly above the flawless rhythms. A fine display of lead guitar on this tune that perfectly complements the architecture of the song. Full to overflowing with enthusiasm and love for their late Dad local music hero Al Berard, their Louisiana roots, and musical heritage and incorporating their talents into making a difference for their community. I got their latest album from CD Baby and it was in my letterbox within a few days https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/sweetcecilia3
The family is one of nature’s masterpieces.
Karl Blau – That’s How I Got To Memphis (2016)
Every now and then I connect with a radio DJ who appears to park their musical taste in the same garage as mine and a consistent favourite is Carol Moran who pops up from time to time on RTE Radio 1 schedules and unfortunately not often enough and that is where I fell in love with the music of Karl Blau and his brilliant interpretations of classics like Tom T Hall’s That’s How I Got To Memphis.
Falling in love consists merely in uncorking the imagination and bottling the common sense.
Grand Funk Railroad – Some Kind Of Wonderful (1974)
One of the band’s favourite singalong tunes on the tour bus from the 60’s when they were travelling on the road. One day someone suggested they record their own version and it was a huge hit for the Flint Michigan Stadium filling rock band. I was a big fan although the music press gave them a hard time on this side of the water. Sadly all that hard work has been tarnished in recent years by a toxic separation that has seen Mark Farner doing his own thing with all kinds of court constraints around use of branding. 
Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realise you’re wrong
The Pretty Things – Big Boss Man (1964)
From the same neighborhood as The Rolling Stones with a passion for rocking up electric Chicago Blues like Jimmy Reed’s classic and their own classics like Rosalyn and Don’t Bring Me Down. The band done their best to adapt with the changing trends over the years but bad timing and poor management directions did’t do them any favors.
It’s always about timing. If it’s too soon, no one understands. If it’s too late, everyone’s forgotten.” 
Martin Simpson – First Cut Is The Deepest (1983) http://www.martinsimpson.com/
The guitar has been the doorway into music for me all my life and when I hear someone who has refined his craft into a fluent language like Martin then it is the greatest buzz on the planet. Martin’s  interpretation of the music he plays reveals no demarcation lines or boundaries just an open heart and passion.
Somewhere out there is a unique place for you to help others–a unique life role for you to fill that only you can fill. 
Lonnie Donegan – Michael Rowed The Boat Ashore (1961)
As a Michael growing up as a kid I had an indifferent attitude to this song as it generally prompted people to sing the chorus to me when I was introduced. It seemed to trigger a subconscious ad lib with people until Mick Jagger came along and I conditioned all to my forename preference. The song itself goes back to a gospel traditional sung by enslaved African Americans and being adopted as a freedom anthem around the time of the American Civil War. Before the blues boom of the 60’s Lonnie Donegan was the man who popularised 3 chords with traditional folk, gospel and blues for the people called skiffle motivating young future Beatles to go out and by guitars.
Memories of our lives, of our works and our deeds will continue in others.
Kaz Hawkins – Get Ready  (2014)http://kazhawkins.com/
Enjoyed Kaz Hawkins kicking up a storm on stage at the Wespelaar Blues Festival in Belgium on my blues travels this year. I was blown away by her powerful presence on stage and a lovely lady to meet afterwards where I picked up her Get Ready LP. Kaz has got more recent material but I am thrilled I connected with the title track which doesn’t get any better than this. Kaz has a magnificent voice and surrounded by tight musicians and well produced arrangements this is shake the foundations blues soul from the blues belle from Belfast city.
If you have a set back don’t take a step back get ready for the comeback.
Eels – Mr E’s Beautiful Blues (2000)
My first introduction to The Eels was a book by main man Mark Oliver Everett who life story unfolding within the pages was gripping and engaging creating all kinds of emotions from endearing,empathy, sadness to cautioned and relief that it was someone else’s life and not mine. His music is passionate and authentic and distilled from the life that runs through the veins of its creator and sometimes you get the feeling he doesn’t even know how good some of his songs are when he protests and resists his record companies releases which go on to become classics of his career like this tune.
Goddamn right it’s a beautiful day
Robert Lucas – Slide On Outta Here (1991)
Picked up a few of Robert’s excellent albums in the 90’s a very authentic blues artist who would go on the join Canned Heat but sadly left us in tragic circumstances a few years ago.
When you commit to live authentically, the curtains will open wide for you. There will be no more hiding backstage in the shadows.
Petula Clark – Heart (1965)
I just love Petula’s voice probably because it triggers memories of singing along to her 60’s hits like Downtown as a kid listening to the radio. Another of Carol Moran’s gems that overwhelmed me in its pure brilliance and intensity.
Nostalgia is like a grammar lesson you find the present tense and the past perfect
Sonny Stitt – Cleveland Blues – 1957
There is a season for all things and this song is an example of a gift I got from a work colleague well over 20 years that although cherished and appreciated at the time I didn’t get the music but now my ears have very much adjusted to the fluent expression of musical proficiency and emotion through the idiom of jazz. Back then I was standing at the gate looking into a field bewildered nowadays I have climbed over the gate and stroll around the headland surveying the intuitive and inventive fertile musical crop around me yet not always sure about it all simply enjoying the moment. Oscar Peterson on Piano and Herb Ellis on Guitar are two beautiful musicians supporting Sonny’s Saxophone.
There are two ways of meeting difficulties: You alter the difficulties, or you alter yourself to meet them.
Frank Zappa & The Mothers Of Invention – Trouble Every Day – 1965
When I get Frank Zappa I get that he was a musical genius and his wit and skillful musicianship falls easily into a category of musical brilliance. I fell in love with the Live At The Fillmore LP in the 70’s and have worked back and forth since with mixed emotion and ability to penetrate what he was trying to do. I recently got around to Freak Out his concept double LP debut from 1966. Frank’s satirical view of the world back in 1965 is as sharp today as it was then as he uses a blues based song structure to drive home his observations on news coverage, sensationalism, racial tension, social injustice. Franks creativity was like turning on a new tap and working your way through the rusty water until it ran clear and perfect like Trouble Every Day. Frank was a musical gardener who sowed ideas for other musicians to refine and commercialise for harvest.
It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.
The Who – Underture (1968)
A feast of Pete Townshend tuned down trademark power chords and fingerpicking creativity in the studio combining many of the musical themes running through Tommy and his previous Who Sell Out  concept piece Rael into an instrumental with counterpoint Keith Moon drumming and John Entwistle playing the bass like a lead instrument with the odd additional toot and other splashes of musical colour in the mix. Pete was refining his own compositional musical architecture technically and musically at this point maximising the studio technology and bridging the gap between classical, orchestral with popular genres of the day folk pop and rock including the creation of the word Underture. 
Deep within us is a creative spirit desiring to be free and we may as well get out of its way for it will give us no peace until we do. 
Texas Kelly’s  – Jealous Knife (Live McGratten’s Capel St.)(early 90’s)
In the late 80’s early 90’s I listened to a lot of Waterboy’s music and exchanging bootleg cassettes of their gigs was the currency and soundtrack on the night shifts down in Sheriff Street Sorting Office. I often dropped into McGratten’s Pub on Capel Street on a Sunday night on my into the CSO to hear a mix of local buskers and local rock and trad musicians like Steve Wickham,Wally Page, Paul Byrne (In Tua Nua) (spine chilling vocal) and I have adored this recording I made one night of this great song, Paul’s vocal performance and everyone joining in beautifully in a Dublin bluegrass vibe. The song was written my Martin Clancy of In Tua Nua and although The Texas Kelly’s released it on CD I have since found out I have not heard the recorded version.
You never know when your making a memory.
Dion – Ruby Ruby (90’s radio clip)
A musical wanderer Dion DiMucci is an artist that has repeatedly popped up on my musical radar over the decades and no matter what genre of music doo- wop, folk, rock , blues  he takes to he makes it sound effortless. As he said in a radio interview I taped back in the days when I taped my heroes on the radio on a C90 and listened to it belatedly on night shift “when you’re doing something you like and it comes out of your heart you can sing it with one lip tied behind your back”. Great artist whose music has kept its power and class.
We are all wanderers on this earth. Our hearts are full of wonder, and our souls are deep with dreams.
The Kinks – Long Tall Shorty (1964)
Great R&B tune from The Kinks first LP which captures the youthful frenzied joy and enthusiasm that was sweeping the London music club scene at the time. Ray and Dave Davies two very talented brothers whose mix of old english music hall blended with pop rock created beautifully whimsical reflective songs about the 60s youth culture that were a huge influence on the music scene over the years. Deserved much more success in America but suffered from bad management, internal bank conflicts and rush of blood to the head decisions at crucial times that denied them opportunities to reach a bigger audience. 
Timing is everything, even the right decision is wrong if it is made to late
Samantha Fish – Hello Stranger (2017) www.samanthafish.com
I had the pleasure of seeing the radiant Kansas City Singer Songwriter Samantha Fish perform in the New Orleans Rock N Bowl and then jamming later the same night in the fast lane on stage and no problem to her with Tab Benoit and Sonny Landreth.. Samantha is an polished guitarist known for her high energy shows packed with well crafted well played songs bringing a distinctive freshness and vitality to her career at the moment fusing slick production soulful blues sensibilities on her latest LP Chills and Fever. 
Listen to the passion of your soul set the wings of your spirit free and let not a single song go unsung.
Question Mark & The Mysterians – 96 Tears (1966)
My first encounter with this song was at a Eddie & The Hod Rods gig in Moran’s Hotel on Talbot Street but the first generation version goes back to the mid 60’s to Michigan garage rock band ? & The Mysterians who played a big influence on the 70’s Punk New Wave Bands. The Farfisa Organ driven 96 Tears was a Billboard No 1 until The Monkees Last Train To Clarksville pushed it off the top spot and then record company shenanigans and line up changes derailed the band’s career. Bassist Mel Schacher joined at one stage before going on to Grand Funk Railroad. 96 Tears has become a popular standard at this stage covered countless times across various genres from Al Green to The Stranglers.
Music evolves in time and what is an illegal gesture in musical terms 100 years ago is now in common usage.
Lani Hall – Love Song (1972)
A good friend Sean Finn with an eclectic taste and collection of music guided me towards the beautiful singer Lani Hall whose career started as a vocalist for Sérgio Mendes  in the 60’s after he happened upon her singing in a Chicago Coffee Shop going on to release her first solo LP in 1972 full of great cover interpretations of classic contemporary songs like Lesley Duncan’s Love Song. Lani has over 22 albums in 3 different languages and is married to Herb Albert and has the gift of creating the perfect pace and rhythm in her approach to a song and it helps when you are surrounded by the world’s best musicians on your records. 
You increase your joy by increasing the pure joy of others.
Sonny Boy Williamson – Ninety Nine 99 (1958)
There was two Sonny Boy Williamson’s one acoustic blues harp pre World War 11 who passed away suddenly and senselessly resulting from an ice pick and Sonny Rice Miller Williamson 2 defining the Electric Chicago Blues period. His Chess recordings are so good and exciting because we not only get his unique fat back harp sound his wry sense of humourous lyrics but all the amazing blues musicians that created the definitive 50’s Chicago Blues sound Willie Dixon, Luther Tucker,Muddy Waters, Jimmy Rodgers, Buddy Guy, Otis Spann, Fred Below with Leonard and Phil Chess at the buttons.
Yes my baby taken sick on July twenty-nine
Yes the one I love she taken sick on July twenty-nine
Her doctor billed her four hundred dollars,
And I didn’t have but three hundred and ninety nine
Melanie – Lay Down (Candles In The Rain (1970)
After a rousing reception at the Woodstock Music Festival in 1969, Melanie was inspired to write this song about how she felt looking out at half a million young people gathered together to celebrate the music they loved. A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle The song also has an additional uplifting gospel aspect for me in that it features the Edwin Hawkins Singers whose Oh Happy Day is my favourite musical hymn. Want to thank Larry Mann for bringing this song back into my life again during a visit.  
If the only prayer you ever said was ‘Thank You’, that would be enough. 
Lonnie Mack & Stevie Ray Vaughan – If You Have To Know (1985)
Stevie Ray Vaughan was a spectacular blues rock trailblazer in the 80’s until his horrific and tragic death in a helicopter crash in 1991. He took all that went before and worked it like no one else to create a monster sound from his heavy gauge strings that stepped on to the same plate as my favourite guitar blues rock guitarists Albert King, Jimi Hendrix,Rory Gallagher, Freddie King, Jeff Beck,BB King, Eric Clapton and Otis Rush. One unmistakable influence was 60’s instrumental hit maker Lonnie Mack (Memphis) and this was Stevie meeting his hero and treating us to the results on a Stevie produced Lonnie comeback LP called Strike Like Lightning.
Heroes are not just giant statues framed against a red sky they are people who say this is my community and its my responsibility to make it better
Tattoo Rodeo – Been Your Fool For The Last Time (1991)  
Mid 80’s to early 90’s seen this American Rock Band make some great bluesy rock southern rock which worked for me because of the amazing vocal performance of Denis Churchill Dries and the production keyboard arrangements of Michael Lorde. Unfortunately their music was branded as hair metal because some of the band had been in a poodle rock band called White Sister, which meant they never really connected with an audience that would have appreciated them.
Timing is everything, even the right decision is wrong if it is made to late
BB King – Roll Roll Roll – (1991)
One time there was Three Kings Of The Blues Guitar Albert King with his funky wide angle bends, Freddie King with his scorching Texas instrumentals and BB Kings with his sophisticated fluid spine chilling solos against his big band sound and big hearted humour. They are all gone to the great beyond but what a legacy of superb music they left us. 
Treasure the love that you receive above all it will survive long after your gold and good health have vanished.
The Faces  – Stay With Me (1971)
When all the stars in this group were on the same page the result was Stay With Me. Ron Wood’s slide/rhythm guitar expertise, Kenny Jones rock-solid drumming, Ronnie Lane and Ian Mclagan adding layers of magic behind the Jack The Lad antics and vocals of Rod Stewart. A song that rips along like a ladder in a stocking about a groupie named Rita and a raunchy one night stand without any commitments which were fitting subject matter for the band famous for having a very good time bordering on debauchery.
So, in the mornin’, please don’t say you love me
Cause you know I’ll only kick you out the door
Yeah, I’ll pay your cab fare home, you can even use my best cologne
Just don’t be here in the mornin’ when I wake up, come on, honey
Teamwork is a constant balancing act between self-interest and group interest.
Hootie & and The Blowfish – Only Wanna Be With You (1995)
From their breakthrough 1995 LP Cracked Rear View and featuring several Bob Dylan lyrics incorporated into the lyrics which resulted in Bob receiving a share of the sales by way of a court settlement. At a time when heavy metal and grunge was hogging the airwaves this alternative catchy as hell, easy listening rock and soul music found favour with 16 million fans around the globe. Frontman Darius Rucker has a voice that appeals to all the mainstream genres Rock, Soul, Country, and Blues and especially movie soundtrack compilations.
Put on a little Dylan sitting on a fence
I say that line is great, you ask me what I meant by
Said, I shot a man named Gray, took his wife to Italy
She inherited a million bucks and when she died it came to me
To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.

Time is like a river. You cannot touch the water twice, because the flow that has passed will never pass again. Enjoy every moment of life.

Cheerful Inspiring Optimistic Music

Mik The Who

In these profoundly troubled times songs open the doors of empathy, comfort the heart and help us get on with our lives.

Horslips – The Unfortunate Cup Of Tea (1975)
Irish Traditional Rock Local Heroes instrumental Cup Of Tea reel  album title track from 1975 which sounds like a session beings unfortunately interrupted by the familiar indifferent Publican at closing time.
Fats Domino – Blueberry Hill (1956)
I get my thrill in life every time I hear this gem originally a Gene Autry cowboy film tune in the 40’s thrown in reluctantly at the end of a recording session by New Orlean’s favourite smiling groover Fats Domino in LA. Energetic party music that makes you happy with complexity in its simplicity full of bounce and playful New Orleans Rhythm N Blues. The second best thing to do with your lips is to smile.
Peter & Gordon – Woman (1966)
Paul McCartney wrote this under the name Bernard Webb to test if he could write a hit anonymously back in 1965 for his then girlfriend Jane Asher’s brother Peter who took it up with the charts with his highly successful Peter & Gordon pop duo. Peter later went on to manage and produce  Linda Ronstadt & James Taylor. Great things are done by people who think great thoughts and then go out and make their dreams come true.
Steely Dan  – Turn That Heartbeat Over Again (1972)
My favorite link between jazz and rock Steely Dan made it all look so easy with an ear catching musical vocabulary applied so well by Donald Fagen & Walter Becker. Music has to be the original environmentally friend human habit recycling yesterday’s musical ideas and inspirations for a felicity of expression today. I feel the song lyrically is a grey unstated plea to St Michael for another chance to relive a life full of bad mistakes and choices but then that is just my imagination.
The Imperials – No Shortage (1975)
The song came into my life after hearing Terry Blackwood & The Imperials perform it with the TCB Band at a wonderful Elvis celebration gig in the NCH Dublin. Elvis loved gospel music and The Imperials added that spiritual high to his gigs in the late 60’s early 70’s  
Clifford T Ward –   Still Not Free (1984)
A reclusive artist gone to the great beyond fondly remembered who created strong melodies and well-crafted fluid lyrics that penetrate deeply and passionately song with a beautiful  tenor voice that creates an atmosphere that has always left me feeling euphoric. A teacher whose poetic music ages well like an old  English treasure horde. The most cut throat and risky trade of them all is the music business very often a destructive force for a gentle artist and I think Clifford was of the view that the best armour was to keep out of range.
Johnny ‘Big Moose’ Walker – Would You Baby (1978)
The essential conditions of everything you do must be choice love and passion.
When Johnny Walker was hanging out in Greenville Mississippi as a young man his long mop of hair earned him the nickname Big Moose. He played piano and bass with all the greats Muddy, Elmore, John Lee, Otis Rush, Howlin Wolf, Ike and countless more from the mid 40’s to the mid 90’s. This track on Alligators late 70’s LP Living Chicago Blues captures good raw Chicago Blues loose enough to draw the audience into the groove but tight enough so that the street beat doesn’t fall to pieces with the pure tone of Louis Myers guitar and the rhythmic instincts of Bob Strogers bass lines and Chris Moss drums adding distinctive spice to the foundations.
Diana Ross & The Supremes – Someday We’ll Be Together (1969)
This was the final Supremes song and the start of Diana Ross’s solo career with Johnny Bristol who wrote the song adding some ad libs to encourage Diana’s vocal performance which were kept in the master. None of the other Supremes Mary Wilson or Cindy Birdsong were involved in the recording but the amazing voice of Merry “Gimme Shelter” Clayton is audible in the mix.
You have no friends you have no enemies you have only teachers.
Loudhailer Electric Company – Gypsy Racer (2016) www.loudhailer.net
Connected with this friendly Hull based band I heard on Tom Robinson’s BBC 6 radio show recently who have brightened up my life with their warm psychedelic creativity.  A honeyed but potent sound marinated in juicy rhythms and a guitar sound shinning into the stratosphere like a spirit in the sky.
Luther Allison – Walking Papers (1995)
Seen Luther play in the then Mean Fiddler on Wexford St a short time before he left us for the great beyond in the mid 90’s. An amazing exciting live blues guitar player and entertainer who refined his craft in the stage shadows of Howling Wolf, Freddie King, James Cotton,Motown Bands, decades of live music circuits and festivals, crowds walking and lengthy well executed climactic solos that were mesmerising.You never know what is enough unless you know what is more than enough 
T Rex – Hot Love ( 1971)
When the cuddly Marc Bolan & T Rex  performed this on Top Of The Pops wearing glitter make up and multi coloured satin outfits  it triggered the start of Glam Rock for me. A folksy elf infatuated with Hendrix riffs on a bluesy rhythm with ex Turtles and Mothers Of Invention vocalists Flo & Eddie on harmonies. Like all fads it was fickle and faded out and not all knew when it was time to go. Treasure the love that you receive above all it will survive long after your gold and good health have vanished.
Bob Dylan – Ramona (1964)
An enduring genius,a unique master who blends the roots of American music with the wisdom of ancient and spiritual literature who has followed his talent with uncompromising courage to bring us to places beyond our imagination or any artistic horizon in my lifetime. To me Bob Dylan is like Joyce, his songs have become scriptures, a daunting, love hate,inspiring mythical genius who makes people comb through every lyric for hidden meaning and his dust bin at times to solve the mysteries of the world. My most amusing memory is of a long haired denim clad student sitting crossed legged in the middle of hallucinogenic smoky, patchouli scented Pembroke Inn one Saturday night in the early 70’s reading aloud  from a Bob Dylan songbook. 
Rickie Lee Jones – Juke Box Fury (1984)
A magical Irish descended gypsy hearted rocker rooted in the crystal pure up-tempo  jazz funk side of life whose smart lyrics and timeless tunes find beauty in the sadness of life. Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely.
Ed Sheeran – Thinking Out Loud (2014)
An idea can turn to dust or magic depending on the talent that rubs up against it.Ed Sheeran has studied the diverse genres that move the generations and solved the commercial nature of his talent with a contemporary yet traditional style proficient and sophisticated beholden to no single musical influence with catchy soulful impactful vocals rubbing up comfortably against some jazzy rhythm n blues guitar beats. Ed’s songs  avoid cliches opting to follow a more difficult route of his own creation full of tuneful authority backed up by the kind of teamwork that ensures if opportunity doesn’t knock build a door especially if you have influential friends like Elton John in charge of your management company. 
James Last Orchestra – The Seduction (Love Theme)(1980)
A chart hit from the Gigolo Soundtrack James Last pulled together a pool of top session players in Los Angeles and New York like David Sanborn on Sax which resulted in amazing evocative and romantic versions of Giorgio Moroder’s The Seduction. I have also found James Last’s LP’s in every charity shop in Dublin mostly in unplayable condition. I guess his audience were inclined to be very generous and compassionate in nature.
Barbara George – I Know (You Don’t Love Me No More )(1961)
New Orleans gospel singer Barbara George took this much covered gem to the top of the charts with lyrics inspired by her husband who she had married at 16.Covered by Fats Domino, Ike and Tina Turner, Cher and Bonnie Raitt, I Know also became a staple for 1960s British performers including the Merseybeats, Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas, and Beryl Marsden. Good friend and Blues Collector kindly Eddie Soye guided me towards her album many years ago and despite the hardship she encountered in her music career before leaving us for the great beyond in 2006 her voice soothes the soul.  The mind rules the body, when the body is strong and willing the mind has an open channel through which to operate.
Karl Blau – To Love Somebody (2016)
Downloaded his album and bought a ticket for his gig in Whelan’s after hearing Karl’s interpretation of one of my favourite Bee Gee tunes on Carol Moran’s superb Weekend on One 6am – 8am show on RTE I. Unfortunately missed the gig due to family illness but I was there in supportive spirit. Love the Bee Gee’s as did Otis Redding who went to see them and asked Maurice to write a song for him and this was it but Otis tragically died in a plane crash before getting a chance to record it.
Willie Blake – Classical Gas (2014)
When I am in search of a peaceful and relaxing lifestyle I tend to surfing my internet radio for some new age vibes which is where I found this funky chilled out version started to roll around my ear drums like silk. Like water which can clearly mirror the sky and the trees only so long as its surface is undisturbed, the mind can only reflect the true image of the self when it is tranquil.
Elvis Presley – Too Much (1956)
Elvis was a larger than life phenomenon to me growing up he represented everything I loved about good looks, fashion, cool dudes and his choice of musicians was impeccable as demonstrated on this outstanding Scotty Moore guitar rhythm and lead track. Recorded in G# during a weekend session  in Nashville it enters with a bang and builds from there with exciting classic rockabilly n country chromatic passages contained right through the 12 bar sequence. Try it with a capo on the first fret in G or tune down a half step with a thumb pick and finger technique. FB friend Mark Braider tells me Scotty lost his way on the solo but Elvis said he liked it the way it was when asked to re record it another take. Art meets serendipity.
Todd Snider – Alright Guy (1994) www.toddsnider.net
I love clever humorous lyrics and Todd first album Songs For The Daily Planet back in ’94 was baked in appeal. With sleeve notes like “Music has always changed my life. Poverty changed it back again” and his variation on The Who lyric “Did you know that there are people who put us down for no other reason than the simple fact that we get around”. I have always enjoyed having Todd’s music in my life.
A person without a sense of humour is like a wagon without springs jolted by every pebble in the road.
Joe Walsh – I’ll Tell The World About You  (1972)
One of my favourite guitarists Joe refined the power trio format with The James Gang and his work with The Eagles is a yardstick by which mainstream rock guitar is measured. Eccentric sense of humour he ran for President promising free gasoline to everyone and is prone to wearing madcap stage gear. Infectious vocalist like Nils Lofgren this song from his first solo album Barnstorm is a good example of his guitar orchestration and vocal harmony style. 
Patty Larkin – The Letter (1990)
I am always charmed by artists who take well loved songs that are part of the soundscape of your life  and replant, imbue and reinterpret in their own diverse style. Sometimes when you dust off something old you come up with a gem like this stripped back acoustic version of The Letter from Patty Larkin’s Live in the Square album recorded live at Sanders Theatre, Cambridge Massachusetts. 
Robert Cray – Grinder (1983)
One of the great guitarists of my generation with an instantly identifiable 5 time Grammy winning sound and style. He is a dedicated hard working musician an experimenter always willing to take chances which doesn’t always fly with the blues puritans but when he gets it right it’s magical,incendiary, soulful and humourous.
Bert Jansch – Anji (1965)
Seen Bert live at Eric Clapton’s Crossroad Festival in 2010 in Chicago an acoustic finger twister whose complex finger style technique and open tunings influenced the way acoustic guitar styles developed in the late 60’s and 70’s. Jimmy Page,Nick Drake, John Martyn,Neil Young and Paul Simon all emulated Bert’s folky baroque style in their acoustic songs. Anji was Bert’s cohort Davy Graham song which became a rite of passage for acoustic finger-style guitarists. Try it with a feeling rather than accuracy with a capo on the 4th fret in Am with a steady descending bass line that encourages you to use your thumb for the F note on the 6th string. I’m told both Davy and Bert seldom played this the same way twice.
Charlie Christian – Flying Home (1942)
For a lot of electric guitar fans it all started back in the forties with Charlie Christian whose riffs and solos jumping out of  Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton tunes lifted and inspired the likes of Chuck Berry in years to come to grab the baton  and turn it into the  Olympic torch we call rock and roll.
Marvin Gaye – Too Busy Thinking Bout My Baby (1969)
Blessed with a supercharged wide spectrum voice Marvin created  music that provokes a distinctive yearning admiration and pleasure in the listener. Started off as a session singer on Chuck Berry classics like Almost Grown and going on to define the sound of Motown .Some artists make music for the sunny side of the street full of fresh blood and sensations of freedom despite the fact that their personal journey through life is filled with pain and despair, cuts and bruises. Anything worthwhile means the greater the happiness the greater could be the sadness, the more exciting the success the more devastating the failure.One good thing about music when it hits you you feel no pain.
Kate O Callaghan – My Dear (2013) www.kateocallaghan.com
No dream is to high for those with their eyes in the sky and when you witness that wholehearted presence on stage as I did a few months back in Paul Lee’s DC Music Club of an artist totally committed to their craft full of freshness and vitality it allows for a very organic connection between artist and audience.
Otis Clay – I Can Take You To Heaven Tonight (1991)
Otis Clay was a rich soul blues gospel rooted singer who brought his uplifting charisma to stellar recordings in the 60’s and 70’s including Trying To Live My Life Without You which Bob Seger climbed the charts with in the early 80’s,also working with the magic of Willie Mitchell, Johnny Rawls and Dave Specter prior to ascending to the great beyond in 2016. Eddie Soye first gave me a heads up to Otis on a mix tape he gave me  and I picked up a Bullseye Blues  album in the early 90’s called I’ll Treat You Right which connected me with I Can Take You To Heaven Tonight which has that beauty and powerful  blast of emotion that a good song provides.
Gene Jug Ammons – Groove Blues (1958)feat (John Coltrane)
I’ve always been a bit like a horse looking over fence when it comes to jazz.
Music friend of mine Oded puts up a picture of his AM and PM vinyl listing each day and I tend to You Tube his choices on the bus home which led me to this Jazz tune from an inspiring and influential Jug collaborating here with John Coltrane whose creativity and potential was stifled by two periods in jail (10 years) on drugs charges in his prime. Destiny is not a matter of chances it is a matter of choices.
Pete Townshend – Oh Parvardigar (1972)
Pete became a disciple of Indian Spiritual teacher Meher Baba in the late 60’s disillusioned with the world of drugs that surrounded him and his creative process. Parvardigar (Master’s Prayer) is Meher Baba’s universal prayer which Pete put to music using an open tuning CGCGCD on his acoustic in the style of Bert Jansch melodic finger style stillness. His teachings prescribed no rules just a simple don’t worry be happy philosophy in the search to be incredibly alive, enlightened and naturally high where spiritual intuition will keep your feet on the ground and guide your rhythm forward each day.
Freddie King – Dust My Broom (Acoustic)(1961)
One of the 3 Kings of Blues Guitar Playing Freddie alongside Albert and BB created their own individual signature styles of playing that has influenced every guitar player since. Texas born Freddie was the master of the electric Texas Chicago Blues shuffle/instrumental like Hideaway a litmus test for aspiring blues guitar players  and The Stumble using a thumb pick and metal index finger pick for that sharp attack. Even on an acoustic his ingenious gift for hook laden riffs and melodies alongside his visceral emotional vocals jump out of the speakers. Sadly 20 years of relentless touring playing 300 gigs a year the 6 foot giant rocket fueled party loving performer left us at 42 with an incomparable legacy that continues to inspire new generations. 
The Archies – Sugar  Sugar (1969) (Andy Kim)
In late 1969 the charts on both sides of the Atlantic was occupied by this catchy TV Cartoon Series The Archies song. Building on the success of The Monkee’s formula this was another perfect 3 minute pop song that floated around the ear drums like candy it was the perfection of simplicity by a group of Don Kirshners (The Man With The Golden Ear) Brill Building session musicians like Andy Kim who charted again in the mid 70’s with Rock Me Gently and  Ron The Cufflinks Dante whose big hit was Tracy as well as producing Barry Manilow’s LP.Ideas are great arrows but there has to be a bow. 
Richard Thompson – Legal Matter (2003)
Who cover driven by the typical swinging good spirited force that is Richard Thompson. The perfect match because in my view both Richard Thompson and Pete Townshend play the acoustic guitar with the potency of a fighting bull.
Santana – Dance Sister Dance (1976)
From my repeated viewings of the Woodstock movie to standing in a muddy field in Slane Carlos Santana has always mapped out his own corner in the playground. Remarkable fretboard talents leading and creating an irresistible stage and studio synergy this opening track from the Amigo LP  is a good example of the layers of smoking latinesque guitar and polish in Santana’s music which effortlessly lets your heart soar as high as it will.

Pleasure is very seldom found where it is sought our brightest blazes of gladness are commonly kindled by unexpected sparks  

Live With Enthusiasm