October 28, 2011

Concert Review - Blast from the Past

Way back in this post, I talked about the musical influences in my life and where they came from and who introduced me to them I mentioned two college buddies who got me interested in lots of music. Among the most prominent were Jethro Tull, George Harrison and John Lennon. But they also introduced me to some obscure music including a singer/songwriter named Shawn Phillips. Believe me when I say that Phillips is off the beaten path. He worked with such immortals as George Harrison, Donovan and the Beatles. Lived with Donovan and Paul Simon. Among his adventures is living in Texas, Italy and now South Africa. He spent three months in the hospital when a boat propeller entangled his very long hair and crushed his skull. He studied opera. He was a fireman in Texas for a number of years. And, his music is an eclectic mix of jazz and folk and rock and electronic and funk and bluegrass with some opera thrown in for good measure. His guitar playing is outstanding. Bio Here

I first listened to him in 1972 and immediately fell in love with the devil may care attitude so evident. Social consciousness, rebellion against everything considered status quo, a sense of anger and wonder, often in the same song, made it easy. I collected his record albums (hey kids, check with your parents, there really were records, about 3x the side of a CD, played on a victrola [hey kids check with your parents about victrolas…]) and listened to him all the time. We got to see him in concert several times too when he played small venues in Manhattan and Long Island and he always put on a great show. Over the years I continued to listen to him, on occasion and I converted his albums to CDs.

Now fast forward, oh I don’t know, maybe 35 years or so. My friend in work, Tom, is an audiophile, has a collection of thousands of CDs of bands popular and obscure. He sees someone in concert at least once a week on average and has been to several big music shows including one in Austin Texas in the spring. One day while discussing some music, I mentioned Phillips. He knew the name but had never heard him. At the time I was moving from CDs to digital storage and offered him one of the Phillips CDs and he like it a lot. I ended up giving him all the ones I had. One day after that he came to me with some exciting new. Phillips was going to play at a local club. Tom suggested getting tickets and we did. The show was two nights ago and I still am on a bit of a high.

The place was full, maybe a hundred people of so. This is just a great way to see anyone and we were not disappointed. Phillips put on a fantastic 90 minute show. He started with a song from long ago, played 3-4 brand new pieces and then embarked on a nostalgia tour of his early to mid career. He had about 9 guitars on stage and some electronic equipment. On four different songs he used looping. This is where he would record a basic track and sing with it, then add a second track as he replayed the first, now recording both. He did it this way on one of the songs. On two others he did three tracks which sounded great. For his finally he laid down 6 tracks using 6 different guitars, including a bass guitar and then pulled out a seventh one and proceeded to play about a 5 minute guitar piece over the recording. This was an absolute show stopper. People got up to give an ovation during the final solo, it was so good. When done, he bowed, said he needed to change his shirt and would return to autograph stuff. Tom had brought his camera and a couple of the CDs and a crowd of about 15 people remained. He came out and talked to each person individually. I got to shake his hand and told him that the last time I had shaken it was about 30 years ago and he laughed, saying he remembered that venue very well. Both Tom and I got pictures with him and left with big smiles on our faces.

If you are feeling adventurous, you can go here to listen to 12 of his songs.

One final note. Both Tom and I noted that he really seemed to enjoy being up on stage and playing. He is not pretentious at all as many musicians are and besides bantering with the crowd and telling many stories, he sometimes would just sit back while playing, with closed eyes and a smile on his face.

October 24, 2011

MassExodus Update: "The Car, Cat and Clothes Tour"

So, as our departure date approaches ever so quickly, our pile of boxes and items on our list of things to do grows exponentially and a slight sense of panic rises up. Like that time you threw up a little bit in your mouth. You know, you feel it and sense it but at least not everyone knows what is happening unless you decide to tell them. Well I think I just threw up a bit in my mouth…

This past weekend, CollegeBoy home on his fall break, his girlfriend MissNicole and MillieJupiter spent time helping us prepare for our trip ahead. They were a combined moving company, counselors, life coaches and sounding board through the weekend as we discussed all manners of our adventure from which dishes to keep, give to them or get rid of, to planning around Kanye, our brat of a cat. What was 3 boxes in the living room on Wednesday night, has grown to a Himalayan pile of boxes and items in the living room, threatening to obscure the view out the picture window. What was a disjointed collection of multiple lists of work for us became just a few massive lists of chores, growing longer and longer despite crossing items off the list as done. Sets of dishes, Christmas decorations and various personal possessions were chosen by the kids, packed in boxes and sent to their appropriate new home. We talked about all manners of our plans, how to do it, when to do it, and why we chose to do it the way we were doing it, until all the planning ran together in one big headache. We began the process of helping our cat prepare for the move, a story all by itself. And, I came up with a name for this next step of our adventure called retirement – “The Car, Cat and Clothes Tour”.

We are driving one car down to New Mexico. This was an easy choice as one of our cars could make the 2500 mile journey, the other sometimes having trouble making it down our driveway. Among the issues discussed this weekend was what to pack in the car, cat planning and an itinerary for the trip. This plan included saying goodbye to family and friends in 3 different parts of the country. This plan includes bringing one piece of furniture on the first leg of the journey while keeping the rest of the cargo to a manageable minimum, including a cat. This plan includes stops in the places, towns, villages, cities, hamlets and hovels such as Binghamton, NY, NYC, Gainesville, VA, New Bern NC, Savannah GA, Tallahassee, FL, Biloxi, MS, New Orleans, Katy TX, Houston, San Antonio too, Carlsbad, NM and finally, after some 10 days and nights, Las Cruces New Mexico. This trip makes my head spin, but I am loving every minute of it.

In the counseling/life coaching/sounding board areas, were things like where to sleep along the way, people to see or not see, cat tranquilizer versus homeopathic remedy versus catnip supply, Pods versus U-Box, professional help versus teenager assistance, what to take versus what to leave, car tires, getting rid of the second car, computer problems, plans and fixes, putting up smoke detectors. While quite a daunting list of things to figure out, it also was just part of beginning to say goodbye to our kids. They have known for a long time that this was our plan, but still it is hard, so hard to say it. This hit home the hardest when CollegeBoy tweeted Said goodbye to @tfabp and @mrsfabp. The next time I see them I will be visiting them in New Mexico!” But as was pointed out to me, we will be seeing them sooner than this past summer when he was in Manhattan on his internship.

So the countdown to Las Cruces, New Mexico has begun. Less than a month until we arrive in the Land of Enchantment. Dream realized.

I think I just threw up in my mouth a little bit…

October 16, 2011

MassExodus October Update: Going, Going, GONE!!!

For the past two + years, we have had a dream. A simple one. We wanted to retire to New Mexico. The warm weather, the sense of adventure, the call of the desert, whatever, we had this dream. And for a long time, this dream seemed to be unattainable as were beset with roadblocks. Repairs and issues and poor housing market and the list goes on and on. The latest was the oil leak in our front yard, documented here, that made it seem less like a dream and more like a wish. The weather was changing, the house wasn’t selling and our frustrations constantly spilled out at each other.

During this darkest of times the last several weeks, random people, almost out of nowhere, said to me that good things were going to come and helped me feel better. Mrsfab and I started to look at some creative things we might do such as rent the house or rent to own it or anything to get that dream working. We had several people say they were interested but, there was always a BUT, the finances couldn’t work out or the oil spill scared them or something else got in the way. Then, last week, Mrsfabp had a Tarot Card reading. Do I believe in that sort of thing? No. Did it make her and thus me feel better? Yes. The cards said *(well, the reader said it, the cards just laid there…) that we needed some patience and that things were happening for us and we smiled and hoped but expected nothing. We have faced too many “If’s” to expect something different. And then out of the blue, there was a craigslist ad, a retired military family, needing some housing and in a blink, a deal was made. By mid November, we will be headed to Las Cruces.


It is as if a giant stone has been lifted off of our backs. We have been staring at each other in disbelief and just shaking our heads and then breaking out in smiles. It is going to happen.

We started a list of things to do – packing things, moving things, doctor things, retirement things and have several pages of things that must be done before we leave our home for the last time on our way to a new adventure. We have people to see, places to go, miles to drive (2500+ a first educated guess.) There is going to be sweat and arguments and tears and goodbyes. There is going to be stops and starts, worries and carefree moments. There is going to be change but we like that.

The next 4 weeks (yes, we are beginning our adventure now and expect to leave for New Mexico in less than 30 days…) are going to be a whirlwind of activity. Our kids, our friends, our families will all experience something from this as well as we will. I’m scared. I’m nervous. I’m excited. We are moving to Las Cruces.

I really hope to continue to document this wonderful trip we call life but I imagine that it will be so time consuming that sometimes I won’t be able to write all about it, but I promise I will. Hey, I’m going to be retiring and will have some time on my hands.

In my next and subsequent posts for a while, I plan to flesh out the plans we have, post our trip itinerary and keep you updated about what is going on.