2011 Rock Hall Nominees: Who will get in? Who won’t? Rob tells all

With the 2011 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees just announced, there are a couple easy picks and many nominees that elicit a “huh?”  Plus, the slights just keep on comin’ 

First, who is not nominated: Cheap Trick, Rush, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Devo, Stevie Ray Vaughn or KISS. And how about Willie Nelson? It’s criminal, I say. 

Among the 15 artists, first-time nominees (artists who released their first record in 1985 are eligible for the first time) include Bon Jovi, Tom Waits, Neil Diamond, Donovan and Alice Cooper. Previously nominated artists include J. Geils Band, LL Cool J and the Beastie Boys, along with New Orleans legend Dr. John, disco queen Donna Summer, and R&B/disco act Chic. Also nominated are Laura Nyro, Darlene Love, Chuck Willis and Joe Tex.  Continue reading “2011 Rock Hall Nominees: Who will get in? Who won’t? Rob tells all”

Remember Them? Detroit’s Rockets Return

The Rockets (then)

There once was, and is again,  a rock and roll band from Detroit called The Rockets.  A helluva rock band.  No big hits, but Detroit rock radio embraced them, and they were local heroes from 1972 until they faded away in 1983.

The pedigree that made them noteworthy were two leaders that were driving forces behind the Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels.  Johnny (Bee) Badanjek (drums) and Jim McCarty (guitar) both fueled the R&B rock and roll craziness of Ryder’s sound, and, as musicians do, eventually left the band to do their own thing.

They became the Rockets. 

You could have dubbed them “Kings of the Openers”; they opened for the big rock bands of the time  – and not just in Detroit. They traveled with KISS, Seger, ZZ Top, among many.  But they never could get any bigger than that.  Never had a big radio hit beyond the Motor City.   But even the band’s later stuff , like “Rollin’ By The Record Machine” elicited a vintage Bob Seger energy.

With lead vocalist Dave Gilbert, the Rockets reached their biggest success in 1979 with a Top 40 hit doing a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Oh Well”.  The hard partying Gilbert  ended up taking a job hanging drywall, and died  in 2001 at age 49.

Badanjek is one of rocks truly great drummers.  And McCarty an engaging, gritty rock guitarist.  They had continued to play music, just not together.  That changed when they formed the Motor City Music Review in 2009, a Motown/rock and roll cover-type band. Then into a band called the Hell Drivers, with new frontman Jim Edwards. Things started to happen. 

Promoters in Detroit and Flint and Toledo started to call.   How about a Rockets show? So they morphed back into The Rockets. And if the story ended here, with the band playing bars in Detroit, it would still be good, right?  Continue reading “Remember Them? Detroit’s Rockets Return”

Indiana Music: Cara Jean Wahlers new album “Goodnight Charlotte”

After Indianapolis singer/songwriter Cara Jean Wahlers saw cellist Grover Parido perform with Blueprint Music a few years ago, she talked to him about working together. It led to the duo’s collaboration on Goodnight Charlotte, Wahler’s new 12-song collection, featuring her vocals and guitar, and Parido’s cello, piano and bass.

A stunningly beautiful set of quiet-yet-engaging songs, it is anchored by Wahler’s in-you-ear vocals, and Parido’s achingly gorgeous sound. Whether his contribution is part of the atmosphere, or is a solo that creeps from the background and engulfs the listener, his playing is pointed and pretty, soulful and satisfying.

The album is music for your head and your heart. Think “Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down” for the 2010’s

The opening song, “Chinatown” reveals the gifts both players bring. Wahlers is a cinematic writer, building scenes in songs that a listener’s mind can see. Rain on a face. Trinkets in a pocket. Throughout, Parido adds weight to chord changes, and slides forward when warranted.

Wahlers best moments come when she drops details on the listener.

On “Orange Blossom”, she sings how “pine needles sting my bare feet.”

In “California”, she compares a love to AM radio, both “barely able to stay in tune”.

With “Mark’s On The Earth”, she sings: “I am tired of trying to prove that I am beautiful, burning for you. I am tired of trying to prove that I am good enough – broken hearts can burn too”

Wahlers works inside a pleasing Joni Mitchell/Ricki Lee Jones/Emmylou Harris template – more West coast than rural – and a hint of Indiana in her voice helps anchor a sound more organic than shiny. Parido’s piano visits regularly and then backs off. There’s space in the album’s soundscape for instruments to appear and then recede – a sympathetic mix providing room for voice, piano, cello and Wahler’s anchoring guitar work.

“Black Dog” may be the best song on the album, about falling in love with Steven and his dog. And yes, Wahlers references the Led Zeppelin song near the end of her tune, supported by Parido’s Zep-like lines.

Not sure if anyone will make a smarter, lovelier record in 2010. Wahlers and Parido have created an intelligent and gentle album, hearfelt and soulful in it’s quiet beauty.


Indiana Music: Album Release from Scott Kellogg; Rusty Bladen and Duke Tumatoe at Winefest

A pair of outstanding Americana musical evenings for our Southern Indiana readership….

On Friday night (Sept. 24), Scott Kellogg hosts an album release show for debut solo CD, Silver in Their Veins. He’s been name-dropped by me for his work on Bloomington Americana darling Bobbie Lancaster’s first solo record earlier this year. Kellogg will share the stage with the Shiny Sounds band, which includes Lancaster. She and Nick Einterz will open the evening with their own music.
8pm / John Waldron Arts Center – Bloomington, IN / $10.
Latest tracks by Scott Kellogg

Duke Tumatoe and Rusty Bladen team up for a Winefest show at Chateau de Pique Winery in Seymour, about an hour south of Indy off of I-65. Bladen opens with Indiana rock (sounds like Petty) and tunes from his recent Homegrown Treasures album before Dr. Duke hits the wineheads with his blues/rock. The show is free; a beer garden will be open. FYI: Governor Davis plays Friday night, and the winery website says there is free camping (!)

5:30pm / Chateau de Pique Winery – Seymour, IN 47274 / free