Saturday, May 29, 2010

Thoughts during Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day is a day that we set aside to remember those that gave all, so we could have all.

My family has a rich  history of service to this great country. The majority served in the US navy.

My eldest brother served in the Navy during the Vietnam Conflict. He was stationed in Da Nang, Vietnam and is a retired storekeeper Chief Petty Officer. My other brother jumped ranks and served in the Army.  The Chief's son served in the navy as a Third Class Petty Officer, Gunners Mate Missiles on the USS Sterret CG-31.  

My father was a Third Class Petty Officer, Electricians Mate, served in the navy during WWII.
He mustered out in 1946 while serving on the USS Peregrine AM-373 a Minesweeper.

My Dad's brother served on the USS Vulcan AR-5 right before  the Cuban Missile crisis as a boatswain mate.

My dad's first cousin was a bomber pilot during World War II and was shot down over eastern Europe. I have a marine second cousin who was wounded in the first Iraq war. I have another cousin that recently completed two tours in Iraq.    

I served on board the USS Chicago CG-11 (Fire Control Technician Guns) during the Vietnam Conflict. I never made it to Vietnam as my older brother did.

My great grandfather served with General Pershing and rumor has it he rode during the Pancho Villa Expedition.

Patrick, my new son-in-law has enlisted in the Army and will start his boot camp June 2. He continues the tradition that my family has.

I am proud to honor all of those who gave their all for us.

I will have a personal, silent moment at 3:00 PM Monday to remember them all. I hope you will join me.   

Saturday, May 15, 2010

CD Review: Addicted To The Blues

Addicted To The Blues

Phil Gates

(Setag Music, 2010)

by Steve "Fly" Klein

A funny thing happened when I was preparing to write this review; I was looking over the credits on the CD booklet and noticed a lack musicians on this disc. Without fanfare, Mr. Gates recorded an album of 12 original songs with only single musicians (or in the case of "The Wisdom", two female background vocalists) contributing on only five of the selections. In other words, a real solo album.

I remember back in the day when the term "one-man band" evoked images of a gaudily dressed man with a bass drum strapped to his back, cymbals between his knees, an accordion under one foot, bagpipes under an arm, and a clarinet and saxophone strapped around his neck so he could play them simultaneously while strumming a banjo. Les Paul pioneered overdub recording on acetate disks in the 1930s and released his first commercial success in 1948. But it wasn't until Paul McCartney, Todd Rundgren, and Emitt Rhodes had success in the early 1970s with multitracking themselves on tape that the one-man band reached its height of notoriety.

Mr. Gates sings all of the lead vocals, plays all the guitars, plays bass, keyboards, and edited the drums (I might call it drum programming). While this could mean something was laking, it wasn't. In short, if you didn't read the credits you might not realize it was performed by basically just one guy.

To give you a little background, Phil Gates was born in Chicago, served in the Air Force, played as guitarist in the USAF "Tops in Blue" World Tour that performed at Superbowl XIX, was a sound engineer at a Texas jazz club, and moved to Los Angeles in 1989 to work in the aerospace industry. While in LA he had the opportunity to produce and do session work. In 2006 he created the film score for "My Normal Life".

This is the fifth CD by Phil Gates. Addicted To The Blues is an album of blues and funk with touches of smooth jazz and a little Nashville twang. Phil is a wonderful, soulful guitar player who understands his way around the fretboard as well as a multitude of other instruments. The songs here show real craftsmanship.

"Get Around Me" (with Eddie Baytos on accordion and additional percussion) is a smooth New Orleans type funk song. Nice blues riffs with fun chord changes. Very good arrangement and production perhaps due to the contributions of Matt Forger as engineer on this number (known for his work with Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones). Gates can play a smooth slide guitar as in "Sexy Little Cool" (with Mark Justin on keys) or a grinding, screaming slide like in "Used Me Up". "Evening Train" (with Byron Gaither on keys) shows Phil's guitar prowess with some Nashville pickin', while "The Wisdom" (with Elizabeth Hangan and Gedina Jean background vocals) finishes up the CD with a nice change up as he features a New Orleans second-line syncopation in a song about learning from the wisdom of his departed family and friends. One of the CD's single worthy songs accompanied by a nice, understated guitar solo from Gates.

He grooves ya', he moves ya'; Phil Gates is a big time artist who deserves a listen for his outstanding work on this album.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Sugar Blue to perform at the New Hope Center Blues Fest

Chicago King Snakes

Grammy Award-winning harmonica virtuoso Sugar Blue will perform at the first annual New Hope Center Blues Festival fundraising event Sunday June 6th. In addition to his performance, he will emcee the festivities. The fest will take place at New Hope’s new Crete Campus, located at 25930 South Cottage Grove in Crete, on Sunday June 6th, from 1:00 PM to 8:00 PM.

Sugar Blue (not Pictured) has played and recorded with musicians ranging from Willie Dixon to Stan Getz to Frank Zappa to Johnny Shines to Bob Dylan, he is perhaps best known for his signature riff and solo on the Rolling Stones' hit Miss You from their Some Girls album. He has appeared across America, Europe and Africa at many prestigious festivals - Chicago, Zurich, Den Haag, Antibes, Nice, Cannes, Montreal, Pistoia, Bern, Rapperswil,... Blue continues to appear in clubs and festivals    around the world, and is currently on tour supporting his new release, “Threshold”
The Music festival will feature local blues bands, food, beverages, raffles and drawings, and promises to be a wonderful outdoor event for the whole family.

The musical lineup also includes the Chicago Kingsnakes , the Deb Seitz Band (right), Billy King, (top) Little Johnny and the Unknown Blues Band, (bottom Left) Joliet Al, (bottom Right) and an All-Star Jam Session featuring surprise guests. More details will be forthcoming, and will be posted on the festival website at

New Hope Center is a not-for-profit community service agency serving more than 500 persons with disabilities and their families annually. Their programs are licensed by the State of Illinois and nationally accredited by CARF. Service areas include Southeast Cook County, and Northeast Will County, and administrative offices are in Dolton, Illinois. For more information about New Hope Center and its programs, call Jeff Gajewski at (708) 841-1071 x 227, or visit their website at