Saturday, June 28, 2008

Lions And Tigers And Bears

Saturday in Cleveland, and the weather is supposed to be bad. It wasn't raining when I left the hotel this morning, but the weather forecast was threatening. So I had to find some place to go that didn't leave me out in the middle of nowhere in the middle of a downpour. So I decided to visit the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. I haven't been to a real zoo in about four years, so it was quite the experience. I've got a much better camera now than I had then, and I put a big long lens on the end of it. I got some really great pictures and had a lot of fun. Once I get back to Florida, I'll go through them and post some more good ones, but for now you get one lion, one tiger and one bear. Enjoy!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Rock And Roll To The Rescue

Just in case you had any doubt, here I am at The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in Cleveland, OH. That's me on the right, turning my bass into a pile of toothpicks. My buddy JR is on the left trying to drum up a storm on a handy stool. And the inside of the Rock Hall actually looks like that, there was no retouching done on that shot. None at all. Trust me. Please ignore my nose growing... The outside of the hall actually looks like a giant pyramid, which I'm sure you know. And in case you wonder why I'm not showing you page after page of cool rock memorabilia, pay attention to the small sign I photographed at the entrance.

(Sorry about the screw-up with these pictures. I guess they weren't visible for a couple of days. I stuck them back up, but they probably won't behave like all the other pictures on the blog.)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Merry Christmas And A Half 2008!

Here we are, halfway between last Christmas and next Christmas. That makes it Christmas and a half, or, as it's less commonly known, Ernie's birthday! But it's you who's going to get the present. I had a very productive trip to the fancy record store up in St. Pete the other day, and I got a handful of great Christmas singles, many of which I'd never seen or heard before. Of course, some of the them are the type of novelty record that you'll wish you'd never seen or heard, but I think it makes for a nice change from the usual old Christmas records I typically share out around here. I threw this share together without a lot of time (in fact, I'm posting this on the previous Saturday, but I've got it set to pop up for public view on the right day when I'll be working in Ohio), so it's just a collection of tracks with no covers, no specific order, and no real theme. But I'm going to tell you a little about each of the tracks, and in the order that I've been listening to them, so that may be the order you want to put them in. If not, no big deal. So why don't you go ahead and follow this link to Ernie's Christmas And A Half 2008 Single Collection? And I'll start telling you about each of the thirty tracks I've included.

Bobby Salvatore-Stick 'Em Up Santa-What better way to kick things off with a little bit of gunplay? Santa finds himself looking down the barrel of a gun in this one, which is certainly not going to earn this little boy a place on the 'nice' list.

Mona Murry-Gonna Kidnap Santa Tonight-This one made me think of Brenda Lee's song about lassoing Santa. Not the music so much, but at least the title. And it continues on with the theme of crimes against the big guy.

The Brian Babcock Explosion With The Circle Of Sound Singers-CB Santa (Big Red)-The first of a block of trucker songs about Santa. I guess this was a pretty popular theme for a while in the 70s.

Thurmon McKinney-Santa Claus And The Truck Driver-I guess those lonely truckers didn't have a lot to do out on the road, so they make up songs about Santa.

Homemade Theatre-CB Santa-How many songs can there be about Santa and a CB radio? Well, at least two.

Larry Cartell-Cowboy Santa-I was working on a whole CD for a while that featured sort of a cowboy Christmas theme. This would fit in right among all the tracks I found. And Santa yodels.

Burl Ives-Grandfather Kringle-This one is a request that someone sent in a few weeks ago. I found it on the LP she mentioned, but then I saw the single and figured I needed it. And again, who knew that Kris Kringle could yodel? I think this is Burl Ives first Christmas song. I shared out one of his last Christmas songs last year.

Buddy Mullins-Easter Eggs On The Christmas Tree-Two holidays for the price of one! Actually, there are several more holidays mentioned in the song. I think this is some sort of protest song against daylight savings time, but I'm not sure. It's just a little odd...

Bey Ireland-All I Want For Christmas Is A Go-Go Girl-You can't go wrong with a go-go girl! This one is for all the guys out there.

Joan Shaw-I Want A Man For Christmas-And this one is for all the ladies out there. I wish I had a better copy of this one, but it looks like it's on CD if you want a cleaner copy.

Little Rita Faye-I Fell Out Of A Christmas Tree-Another in the great tradition of little girls singing a slightly off-kilter song about Christmas that kids will love and adults will find to be quite grating. But I like it. Anna Russell did a whole routine about such songs, which I shared out a couple of years ago.

Bobby Sabatino-I'm Gonna Hang Up Mommy's Stocking-Another in the great tradition of little boys singing a slightly off-kilter song about Christmas that kids will love and adults will find to be quite grating. But I like it. The sound on this one is pretty poor for some reason. Perhaps it's a transfer from 78. I tried recording it several times, but it never really got any better. Oh, almost forgot. One of the co-writers on this one is J. Fred Coots, best known for Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town.

Clinton Caldwell-Santa's Copter-What can I say? The elves build a helicopter for Santa. There's even a little helicopter and a Christmas tree etched into the dead wax around the runout groove. And the song isn't as good as Gene Autry's Santa's Coming In A Whirlybird song.

Raindolls-Disco Santa Claus-Oh, yeah, you knew that if I was sharing novelty records, there had to be some disco. And here it is!

Santa's Disco Band-Santa Claus Is Coming To Town Disco-One disco novelty is never enough!

Barefoot Man-Santa Got A Sunburn-From the floor at Studio 54, we move to a Caribbean island. Hopefully, it's after Christmas, but you never know. Santa certainly needs a vacation. And now we know why Rudolphs nose is red. Turns out that this guy has several CDs available, including three all-Christmas ones. This single certainly predated the CD age, so I don't know if this is the same version as on one of those CDs or not.

Israfel's Son With Connie & Chorus-Rudolph Pouts-Wow! This had to be the most unexpected song of all the records I recorded for this project. Is that a Moog? It's certainly an odd-sounding synth. And those lyrics? This probably qualifies as a song-poem. Play it loud!

George Bowers-Christoper The Christmas Tree-I guessed the end before I got there. Lemme know how you do.

Jim Hubler-Big Bruce, The Big Blue Spruce-Another one? What are the chances of that? You'll understand when you listen to this one right next to the George Bowers track.

Tony Sacco-Jolly Fat Man-Hands down, the best track in this collection. It rises above novelty status into the realm of actually being quite good. I suspect this one will show up on plenty of other compilations out there come Christmas.

Doye O'Dell-I'm Pickin' Fights For Christmas-Maybe I should have stuck this one up at the beginning, with the songs about criminal mischief for Christmas. This one's grown on me since I first recorded it. Like athlete's foot...

Eddy Arnold-I'm Your Private Santa Claus-I've been wanting this track for a while now, and since Mr. Arnold passed away recently, I figured I should go ahead and pick it up. It didn't hurt matters that I got it for a good price. It's not as salacious as I had hoped, but he still gets his point across.

Lisa And The Lollipops-Don'tcha Try To Tell Me There Ain't No Santa Claus-This is the flip side to the song I shared last Christmas. I got a note from a girl claiming to be one of The Lollipops. I tried to get some details, but she didn't write back. She asked for this track, since she didn't have a copy of this single, so here it is. Maybe now she'll share the story of Lisa, et. al.

The LeVine Twins-Twinkle-Toes-Yep, it's a kiddie cover of a great track I shared out a couple of years ago that I really enjoyed. This version, not so much. But it's still worth hearing.

Santa's Gnomes-Santa's Land-Santa has gnomes? I thought he had elves? This is news to me. I think this record comes from one of those Christmas-themed tourist traps that used to dot the South. Yep, look here. I'm betting they don't still sell 45 RPM records.

Bobby Farrell-Santa's Big Red Car-I was hoping for a Beach Boys-Little Saint Nick-type thing, but this is what I got. Still pretty good. Love that guitar intro.

Rosemary Clooney-Little Red Riding Hood's Christmas Tree-This is the flipside of Suzy Snowflake, which I'm sure you've heard. I'd never heard of this track, so I figured I'd throw it in here.

John Greer-Wait Till After Christmas-Another flipside to a better-known song. This time, the other side was We Wanna See Santa Do The Mambo, which is one of those tracks that became more popular recently than it was when it was released, and deservedly so in my opinion. This track is much more bluesy, and much more depressing, than the others in this collection, but it's good.

King Coleman-The Holiday Season-Some more bluesy Christmas cheer for you, this time from the singer who was the voice of The Mashed Potato. I don't know exactly what that means, but just enjoy the music.

The Rocky Fellers-Santa Santa-They had Philipino pop music back in the sixties? Here's some proof. Interesting little song along the lines of Donde Esta Santa Claus or Can I Wait Up For Santa Claus. This song was written by Neil Diamond before he hit it big in the recording industry. Trust me, he got better with time...

And there you have it. Thirty Christmas tunes, and I bet you've heard less than half of them before. I'd heard exactly none of these before I started recording them a week or so ago. Some amazing stuff in there. I hope you enjoy it. Come back in a week or so for Christmas In July, and I'll be seeing you all again come Christmas proper.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Down In The Leaves

Yes, they have toads in Ohio, you just have to know where to look. This guy caught my attention as he tried to hide in the leaf litter caught between the roots of a tree. I couldn't get him to come out of his hole for a better picture, so I took his picture exactly as I found him. No harm, no foul.

The Beginning And The End

In a rare feat that I don't think I have ever previously accomplished, I shot both the sunrise and the sunset today. The pictures aren't spectacular, but just the idea of getting both is pretty cool. The picture above was taken out the window of my hotel in Macedonia, Ohio. The window only opens about 5 inches, so I was crouched down trying to shoot from a quite uncomfortable position. The shot below is the sun setting over the hills on the west side of the Cuyahoga Valley. I was standing on a stone outcropping in the Virginia Kendall Ledges, a beautiful spot in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. It took me a while to find a clear view of the horizon, and I was shooting through a 300mm lens to be able to squeeze between the trees. More pictures to come from not-so-sunny Ohio. Although how can it be not-so-sunny if I saw both the sunrise and the sunset? Long story, and a long day in-between...