Trippin' Round the Mitten: Full of Happiness, Fun and Kibitzing!

Randy Kaplan's Trippin Round the Mitten

TRIPPIN' ROUND THE MITTEN, the sixth album from award-winning singer/songwriter Randy Kaplan, is an album that, though it is marketed to kids…. is not just for kids.

It’s not, because it is full of fun happiness and storytelling that you can’t help but like, no matter who you are.

An extremely well-educated, well-rounded man, who has lived in many places around this country, it easy to see (and hear) the many people Kaplan sites as influences to his music and mirth-making: people such as Steve Martin and the Marx Brothers, Robert Johnson and Woody Guthrie.

But as a fellow native Long Islander, I personally would say his biggest influence was hailing from Dix Hills, a mere half-hour or so as the crow flies from my home town of Port Washington--and I dare say that is where he must have first learned his art of kibitzing (so apparent throughout this CD in between and during the songs).


SIRENA - "Stealing Your Heart and a Whole Lot of Soul"

That's not just the tagline of their latest album, "Of a Sister Sky", it's a reality. Like waves on a shore, SIRENA brings music and theater crashing together, creating a majestical performance that would make Poseidon proud.
Together, Amanda Ellis, Sam Nolte, and Tegan Elliott Cast Off to bring their talents to the stage and studio once again.
Even though they took a hiatus, fans can rest easy that the sirens aren't ready for their swan song yet. The time away from their popular show seems to have brought them Much Closer. Their friendship shines in their smiles and their love for each other is expressed in their closeness. When asked what brought them back together, Tegan immediately pulled Sam and Amanda in for a warm embrace, "These ladies", she said with a smile.

The Sounds of SIRENA Will Captivate You

The Sterling Renaissance Festival is a 7 week long event, that takes place on the weekends, featuring street actors, artisans, and stage performances meant to immerse visitors in the 1500's.

One such performance, by a trio of Triton's temptresses, will captivate you. I'm talking about:


Sirena is a musical/theatrical, experience that takes you back to mythical times where the sirens call would lure in shipwrecked lovers. Sailors both loved and feared them as they would become hypnotized by their song and lose their souls in the process.


The Heirs Drop Newest Single, Suburban Wonderland

The Heirs

Los Angeles-based indie pop band, The Heirs, debuted their highly anticipated single and music video for “Suburban Wonderland” on July 14th, 2017, available worldwide.


Heart Plays With A Lot of Heart in Eagle Rock's Reissue of HEART: ALIVE IN SEATTLE

Heart - Alive in Seattle

HEART: ALIVE IN SEATTLE on DVD from Eagle Rock captures the band Heart at the culmination of their 2002 tour in their home town of Seattle, Washington.

When I was growing up, there were not many female rockers who could play with the best all-guy rock bands of the day. Sure there were some who could rock, but few who could rock-out like the Wilson sisters. In fact, how many bands played covers of Zeppelin songs while Zeppelin was still playing music themselves, and got away with not being thought of as a cover band? (It didn’t hurt that Robert Plant had a girlie high voice in those days, which Ann could match and actually carry a tune better.) Heart proved they could play others’ rock as well as their own with equal aplomb.

They were the real deal then, and they are the real deal here.


AJ Lee Ain't Your Granddaddy's Bluegrass

AJ Lee Album Cover

AJ Lee (no, not the wrestler, this one has real talent!) is a seven-time Female Vocalist Of The Year award winner as voted by the Northern California Bluegrass Society (which in itself is quite an accomplishment, considering she is only 19!) and is releasing her second solo album aptly named AJ LEE.

With an album consisting of just six songs, AJ is not timid here about taking on the likes of Graham Parson and Bob Dylan, showcasing a unique style that has been compared to Alison Krauss.

And that is important, because like Alison Krauss, this is not your Granddad’s Bluegrass. If you’re thinking Bill Monroe, Flatt and Scruggs, or The Dillards (aka The Darlings from THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW), you’re barking up the wrong tree.

For lack of better words, this is more “modern” Bluegrass--modern in the sense that Bluegrass, just like Rock or Country, has evolved over time to become something of its own that, while different, is still rooted in it’s past.


From Williamsburg to the World, BROOKLYN BABY Hits Home

Joanie Leeds Brookly Baby

It was once said that there are two kinds of people in this world: people from Brooklyn, and people who wish they were. In the newest album from Joanie Leeds and the Nightlights, BROOKLYN BABY, we have a kids’ record by a bona fide Brooklynite, with many songs centered on kids growing up and living in that wonderful corner of the world.


Mr. Dave Will Have Kids, Parents "Feeling Good"

Mr Dave Feeling Good

You know, it’s a good time to be a kid because it’s a good time for children’s music.

It seems kiddo music has evolved into different styles of their own: there are bubbly kinds, country kinds, Jazzy kinds, and hip hop/urban kinds. And that is awesome because there are kiddos all over this country, in the city as well as in the suburbs and country, and they each have things particular to the way they live.

The latest album here from the Windy City’s own “Mr. Dave” Dave Hamilton, FEELING GOOD, is one such album that speaks to kids everywhere and includes those who are living in the city, doing this with a not so much nautical, but an island sound to it. That’s not to say every song has a watery beat to it. Nay-nay, this album, while only 10 songs long, communicates to kids everywhere with jazzy tunes, eclectic rock, and hip-hop tunes with a heavy bass tone, as well as songs with a surfer sound to them--and that’s what makes this album such fun.


Roll Over, Beethoven, Chuck Berry's Coming Home

Chuck Berry

If there's a Rock and Roll Heaven, they had one hell of a venue last night.

Chuck Berry, the Father of Rock and Roll, passed away March 18, 2017 at the age of 90. He leaves behind a legacy of several hit songs that formed the foundation of modern rock music, with songs like "Maybelline," "Rock and Roll Music" and the unforgettable "Johnny B. Goode" which played an instrumental and unforgettable role in the Steven Spielberg classic BACK TO THE FUTURE.

It's arguable that without Berry's music, itself influenced by blues musicians T-Bone Walker and Muddy Waters, there would have been a very different sound from groups like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, as well as just about every other classic rock and roll group that owed their inspirations to the native St. Louisan.


Best of Hullabaloo Volume 2 Brings Wholesome Country Style to Kids

Best of Hullabaloo V2

Hullabaloo, a duo made up of Steve Denyes and Brendan Kremer, have been friends since kindergarten and have been successfully making children’s music for years. Now they have just released their 2nd greatest hits album, comprised of songs from five previous albums released from 2010 thru 2015.

Oddly, I found I was not familiar with their music prior to this release. I say 'oddly' because even though they play children’s music, they have sold over 30,000 records, so you would have thought I would have at least heard of them. Well that’s my bad, because after listening to it several times, the words that I found myself jotting down throughout listening to the songs that best sum up the music here are 'fun' and 'wholesome.'

This is the type of children’s music you don’t have to worry about whether it’s suitable or not...this is music for kids no matter how young.


From Page to Stage, Junie B. Cast Album Entertains

Junie B. Jones Cast Recording

THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW had a character that would appear from time to time. He would always introduce himself by saying, “It’s me! It’s me! It’s Ernest T!”

I’m referring of course to Ernest T. Bass, played by venerable actor Howard Morris; a character that was a fun, boisterous, and self-confident, and you couldn’t wait to see what he’d get into next. Well...It's she! It’s she! It’s Junie B.! And Just like Ernest T., if you had ever read one of Barbara Park’s series of books to your child, or along with your child on your own, then you were smitten by a young girl with the same attributes that you couldn’t wait to see what she would do next.

Junie B. Jones was my daughter’s favorite series as she was growing up (and the same age as Junie). I can remember the excitement of seeing a new one at the store and the fun of reading it and talking about her exploits, and the anticipation of when will the next one be coming out.


Waylon Jennings: The Lost Nashville Sessions CD Review

Waylon Jennings: The Lost Nashville Sessions, available now on CD and vinyl.

I'm not a big fan of modern country music. I recently spent an hour in a greeting card store--I'm very picky about my cards--and I finally asked am employee what we were listening to. "Modern Country on Pandora," she replied. "Okay, but is this just one really long song, or what? I've heard the same chords in the same time signature for nearly an hour. The same alcoholic references too, near as I can tell." The young lady turned and walked away in huff. Everybody is so easily offended these days but I guess I don't have much room to talk. After all, I'm offended by failed rock star wannabes yodeling about beer, thinking that wearing a cowboy hat makes you a cowboy. It doesn't. Wrangling steer, that makes you a cowboy. 


Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow Shines Once Again!

Richie Blackmore Rainbow

In June of this year, something incredible happened. After almost 20 years, Ritchie Blackmore reformed Rainbow for a trio of shows that rocked the Heavy Metal world, proving that while time and tide wait for no man, when it comes to playing great rock and roll, age doesn’t matter a hill o’ beans!

With a new frontman in Ronnie Romero (who sounds oddly in many ways like an amalgam of all of the Rainbow front men through the years) and playing music from Rainbow as well as Deep Purple, these three shows brought it to the audience full on. And now, thanks once again to Eagle Rock Entertainment, this 2CD / Single DVD set captures the best of all three shows and brings them into your living room.


Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Live: Volume 3 Has Best Lineup Yet of Songs, Artists

Rock and Roll HOF Volume 3

It is oft said that the third time is a charm...and I can think of no better example of that phrase than this current release from Time Life. Pressed on limited edition white-and-black swirled vinyl, this third installment of the Time Life series of the ROCK & ROLL HALL OF FAME LIVE hits on all cylinders for me.

With a veritable “Who’s Who” of performers featuring the likes of Carl Perkins, Eric Clapton, The Allman Bros, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Traffic, Keith Richards, Paul Butterfield, Robbie Robertson, and John Mellencamp, what’s not to love? Add to that no sign of Bruce Springsteen anywhere in sight, and it’s a huge win-win proposition!


Frank Zappa, Eat That Question: Remembering a Rock Icon Who Didn’t Care How He Would Be Remembered

Frank Zappa - Eat That Question

Frank Zappa certainly filled his own niche in music. Showcasing his well-known biting social commentary, this video gives a rare (if ever) seen glimpse into the man that was much more than what most people today remember as the fighter who took on Tipper Gore and the PMRC.

Shown through archival interviews and concert/music “videos” from around the world (U.S., England, France, Germany Holland and Prague to name some), the video takes us progressively through his career, although not in a straight line; it was sort of “take two steps forward, take one back” as we are led through the history of the man.


Audioquest Type 4 Speaker Cable: Unchanged Over Years, Uncompromising in Sound

Audioquest Type 4 Speaker Cables

Having bought a new amp set me on a new quest--an “audio” quest, haha!--for new speaker cables that sounded best with my new integrated, which as you may have already seen is a Sugden A21SE Signature--and it is no secret that I ended up choosing the cable I am reviewing here, the Audioquest Type 4.

This is not just a review of a speaker cable, because you could say it is biased since I did choose it. But I wanted to talk about the process of how I came to choose it, and why.


Sugden Revisited: In Which the Reviewer is Motivated to Ownership

One of the few downsides to reviewing audio equipment is that when you are done reviewing it, and you find it absolutely wonderful, unless you’re “Mr. Deep Pockets” you have to give it back.

Such was the case when I finished my review of the Sugden A21SE Signature Class A Integrated. Here was a piece of audio that changed my perspective on listening and enjoying music, and I had to give it back!

If you read my original review, you know how much I love how this integrated makes music, and when I returned it, it left a void in me that my current system (at the time) couldn’t duplicate. My Naim gear made beautiful music, make no mistake about it, but this Sugden just took listening to music to a higher and importantly different plane.


Frank Zappa's Hot Rats Long Awaited Vinyl Release Well Worth It

Frank Zappa Hot Rats on Vinyl

For someone like me, who has been a fan of Frank Zappa’s music for years and also a frustrated record collector who for years had been looking for an affordable copy of this LP in good condition (any of his LPs, for that matter), you can imagine my excitement to realize the end of my quest was at hand now that HOT RATS has been reissued once again, and this time on 180-gram vinyl.



ANDERSON, RABIN and WAKEMAN Celebrates Classic YES at the Fox Theatre

If you read my concert reviews regularly you’ll notice a trend—I much prefer the older acts, the classic rock and roll bands that are now regulated to “oldies” stations. The best shows I’ve ever seen have consistently been by veteran talents. ARW, consisting of Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin and Rick Wakeman of the seminal progressive rock band Yes, proved once again that terrific bands, like fine wine, only get better with age. Why Yes isn’t already in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame I can’t even begin to fathom.


Zappatite Another Frank Zappa Greatest Hits Compilation, With Flair


Some may say what the world needs now is love, not another Frank Zappa Greatest Hits compilation. And some may say, well, why not both?

ZAPPAtite from Ume (Universal Music Enterprises) is the latest in a long line of “greatest hits” albums of one of rock’s most eclectic and off-the- beaten-path musicians ever to come down the pike.

I’m not going to take time here to talk about who Frank Zappa is/was, and what he has accomplished. It would take too long. If, by chance, you have been living under a rock for the last 50 years or so, or were brought up in some sort of sheltered sterile world where originality was not embraced and so you might not have not heard of him, then I would urge you to do some Google searches and sit back for a couple of days to read, read, and read more, then listen, listen, and listen more. While I can’t help you out on the reading part, the CD here can help you out on the listening part.


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