Sunday, December 27, 2009

Brenda Lee's "Coming on Strong"

"Daddy, can we take Brenda Lee with us in the car?"

It's a question my seven-year-old frequently asks me as we head out the door. Brenda Lee's music has definitely had an effect on my youngest daughter, and I think YouTube should get some of the credit for that. To be sure, my daughter certainly enjoyed a lot of the old Brenda Lee records I play around the house before she ever saw a picture of the singer, and she also knew that Ms. Lee cut a lot of those great sides as a kid. But it wasn't until my daughter saw some old black-and-white videos of the young Brenda Lee knocking out audiences with that big, big voice that she bought in for the long haul.

So if you find that your daughter (or son) is spending too much time with the latest "American Idol" flavor-of-the-month or Disney Channel pop star, take a few minutes, sit your kid in front of your computer, and introduce that child to "Little Miss Dynamite."

Friday, September 4, 2009

Bear Down

To kick off what I hope will be a Super Bowl season for the Chicago Bears, I'm posting a video for "Another Super Bowl Shuffle (Chapter Two)." I co-wrote and recorded this song a few years ago with my buddies The Hoyle Brothers, but I never bothered to make a video for it.

We had a lot of fun with this song during the Bears' 2006-07 season, performing the tune live on WGN-TV, as well as on The Eric & Kathy Show, which is a morning radio powerhouse here in Chicago. We even managed to get some airplay on 50,000 watt giants like WGN-AM 720 and WLS-AM 890. All cool stuff for a lawyer like me.

In any event, here's the video:

Bear Down.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Live Music -- Saturday, August 15

Join Chicago guitar ace Stevie Doyle and me this Saturday night for three sets of hard-charging jukebox favorites at Finley Dunne's Tavern, 3458 N. Lincoln Avenue.

Showtime is 9:00 p.m., and there's no cover. We've invited Blago (who lives within jogging distance of the tavern) to join us onstage for a twisted version of Elvis's "Treat Me Nice," and we'll be happy to let him do "Jailhouse Rock" as an encore.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

It Was Thirty Years Ago Today . . .

It was thirty years ago today that I hopped the wall along the left-field line and ran around on the field at Comiskey Park during "Disco Demolition Night." I was fourteen years old.

After jumping the wall, it took me about ninety seconds to realize that I was in way over my head. I quickly headed back to my seat and watched the madness unfold. Eventually, scores of Chicago police officers in full riot gear cleared the badly damaged field, and the White Sox forfeited the second game of a double-header against the Detroit Tigers.

But I've gotten ahead of myself.

My brother Mark turned twelve on July 12, 1979. To celebrate his birthday, my mom decided to take her five boys -- then ranging in age from seven to fourteen -- to watch the White Sox play. (Mark has always been a huge Sox fan.) My mom had been widowed about nine months earlier, so even under the best of circumstances, an outing like this, with five kids in the station wagon, meant that she had her hands full.

Unlike me, my mother did not listen to Steve Dahl's morning radio show, so she had no idea that a radio promotion called "Disco Demolition Night" was on the bill between games. I didn't tell her about it because I thought she might cancel the trip from suburban Villa Park to 35th and Shields if she knew something potentially subversive was afoot.

Once we arrived at the ballpark, it had to be obvious to my mom that this was not a typical baseball crowd. It looked (and smelled) a lot more like a cross-section of the lawn at the Alpine Valley Music Theater during a Blue Oyster Cult/Nazareth twin-bill.

Toward the end of the first (and only) game that night, I left my family and wandered out to the left-field bleachers to take a look around. Folks throughout the park appeared to be pretty plastered.

Then, after the first game ended, Steve Dahl blew up a bunch of disco records, thousands of people stormed the field, and all hell broke loose.

As I said earlier, my adventure on the field lasted no more than ninety seconds. By the time I headed out there, people were flinging pieces of broken disco records like Frisbees. These scraps of broken vinyl, however, were more like ninja death stars, and I knew enough to get the hell back to my seat. I saw little honor in becoming a casualty in the "War On Disco."

Before leaving the park that night, I shelled out six bucks and bought myself a black "Disco Sucks" t-shirt to commemorate the event. My mom saw the shirt as soon as we got home, and she immediately cut it to pieces, telling me, "No son of mine is going to wear anything with the word 'sucks' on it. No son of mine is even going to use the word 'sucks.'"

Thirty years later, that t-shirt would probably fetch a few bucks on eBay. It's too bad -- in fact, it downright sucks (sorry, Mom) -- that I didn't get to keep that souvenir from "Disco Demolition Night."

Happy birthday, Mark.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Good King Rich (the music video)

Here's the music video for "Good King Rich," a song I penned right after Mayor Daley's recent trip to Switzerland.

Great thanks to the folks who helped me bring this tune to life.

GOOD KING RICH (words and music by Matt Farmer)

(Spoken Intro)
This is an open letter to the International Olympic Committee:

As you travel the world these next few months
Being wined and dined in five-star restaurants
In Madrid, Tokyo, and Rio De Janeiro, remember this:

You're upholding the proud tradition of your predecessors,
Many of whom allegedly accepted bribes
In exchange for awarding the 2002 Winter Games
To that paragon of urban virtue - Salt Lake City, Utah


Well, you can scrap that bid from old Madrid
Say adios to Spain
And just say no to Tokyo
With its fancy bullet train

And if you're ill at ease speakin' Portugese
Then Rio ain't your town
Oh, but Good King Rich, he'll scratch your itch
When he throws that cash around


Well, some folks say that it don't make sense
To hold the Games in the 312
They say our city's broke; schools are a joke
Well, friends, that just might be true

Oh, but Good King Rich, he'd rather fight than switch
You know how the story's gonna end
With all the King's family and all the King's friends
Lining their pockets again and again

(Repeat Chorus)

(Verse w/ tag)

From the two-flats and the bungalows
We applaud his every scheme
From a tax increase to a parking meter lease
He's helping us live the dream

Now with a wave of his hand and a line in the sand
He's gonna bring the Olympics home
So damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead
He's gonna get us a velodrome

We can't pay for salt when there's ice on the streets
But at least we'll have a velodrome

(Repeat Chorus (w/ tag))

Yeah, Good King Rich, he's gonna scratch your itch
When you bring those games to town

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Hitting The Studio

This Monday night, the gang and I will hit the recording studio to offer our twisted musical take on Mayor Daley's crusade to bring the 2016 Olympic Games to Chicago.

(Spoiler alert: We believe it's a horrible idea that will serve largely as a conduit for continued corruption.)

We look forward to sharing our work with folks around town as soon as the song is in the can.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mid-Month Music

This Friday night, Brian Wilkie (pictured) and I return to Finley Dunne's Tavern for three sets of hard-charging jukebox favorites. Brian will be armed with his Telecaster and his pedal steel guitar. He's one hell of a picker.

Finley Dunne's is located at 3458 N. Lincoln Avenue, in Chicago's Roscoe Village neighborhood. Showtime is 9:00 p.m., and there is no cover. Hope to see you.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Must-See TV?

For the past six months, I've made it a point to watch (or record) "The Marty Stuart Show," which airs every Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. (CST) on RFD-TV -- "Rural America's Most Important Network."

Marty's thirty-minute show is taped before a live audience on a spartan set in Nashville, and it's loaded with live music -- no skits, no interviews, and only a minimal amount of schtick.

Each week Marty and his phenomenal band, The Fabulous Superlatives, play a couple of tunes. Marty's wife, Connie Smith, generally joins the fray for one song. The kicker, however, is the weekly guest. It's generally someone who doesn't surface on TV -- perhaps because there aren't many opportunities (outside of American Idol and the late-night talk show circuit) for folks to sing and play on TV anymore.

In past weeks, Marty has featured legends like Wanda Jackson, The Del McCoury Band, Charley Pride, and Dallas Frazier. Equally important, he's also given airtime to great new acts like The Steeldrivers and The Quebe Sisters Band.

Marty's show reminds me a lot of The Buck Owens Ranch Show -- and that's a good thing. Buck's show aired regionally some forty years ago, and it's now available on DVD at Buck's website.

While I have Marty on the brain, I'll throw out a plug for "Souls' Chapel," his 2005 gospel record, which remains in heavy rotation at my house after four years.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

This Saturday -- April 11 -- Live Music at Finley Dunne's

This Saturday night, April 11, I'll be joined once again by my buddy Brian Wilkie (pictured here) for three sets of hard-swingin' jukebox favorites at Finley Dunne's Tavern. Brian is one of the finest guitarists/steel guitarists in Chicago, and it's always a treat for me to play with him.

Finley Dunne's is located at 3458 N. Lincoln Avenue, in Chicago's Roscoe Village neighborhood. Showtime is an extra-early 8:30 p.m. Finley Dunne's has great food, parking is plentiful, and there's no cover charge.

The temperature is supposed to climb to 50 degrees on this April Saturday night. Hope to see you at the tavern.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

We're A Winner

As we approach Inauguration Day, I keep thinking about one Chicagoan who passed away nine years ago. His timeless music certainly should -- but probably won't -- be filling the air at all the balls and parties on January 20.

Curtis Mayfield.