Loud Music is a $40 Fine

Just my personal blog.

January 11, 2007

A Vonage Adage

We decided we needed an incoming phone line for Fine Art Touch. A friend of mine has been using Vonage for a while now, and he loves it, so I figured why not try Vonage. I went to their web site on Monday night (January 8th) where I started the order, but I had a few questions, so I figured I’d call Vonage directly and complete the order.

The person I talked to at Vonage was obviously a non-native English speaker. But his accent wasn’t that hard to understand, so I didn’t think anything about it. Anyway, I wanted to get the unlimited line ($24.99 month), a toll-free number ($4.99 month), and a fax line ($9.99 month). On the Vonage site, they advertise a “Free phone adapter if you sign up directly from Vonage”. The phone adapter supports up to two lines and lets you plug into any network port and have phone access. It’s portable so you can take it with you and anywhere you can plug into a network connection instantly becomes a phone line. Nice.

Vonage also had a nifty cordless phone available with a base that plugged directly into the network port. I figured that was perfect for what we needed. So, I ordered Vonage’s unlimited service, toll-free number, fax, and the Vtech cordless phone.

Or so I thought.

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January 7, 2007

Bobby Hamilton, RIP

Wow. I just surfed over to Jayski’s site a few minutes ago and was stunned to see that Bobby Hamilton had passed away.

I think everyone had expected him to get better, but the cancer must have been worse than publicized. I’d guess that that’s what he wanted; he didn’t want the team or the public to be distracted by or fixated on his illness.

I got to see him race at the Fairgrounds a few times. He gave Casey Atwood a lot of help when he was getting started, and Atwood drove the #43 at the Fairgrounds that was owned by Hamilton. One memorable moment was when Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was practicing for a late model race at the track. He and another car wrecked, and both cars burned to the ground. Everyone was ok, but Earnhardt was left without a ride.

Hamilton offered Little Earnhardt the use of one of Atwood’s spare cars. That season, Atwood was driving Fords. Little E had to get permission from his dad before he could drive the Ford.

The racing world lost a truly nice guy today.

January 7, 2007

Webb Wilder, Unplugged

We went to see Webb Wilder play last night at Puckett’s Grocery in Franklin. As his website said, this was a “limited personnel gig”. That is, it was Webb and Tony Bowles, both on acoustic guitars.

I’ve been to Puckett’s Grocery in Leiper’s Fork many times, and had their great hamburgers. But this was the first time I’d been to the one in Franklin. You could fit the complete Leiper’s Fork store inside the dining area of the Franklin location, and still have room. Where Puckett’s Grocery in Leiper’s Fork is a grocery first and a music venue second, it’s just the opposite in Franklin.

A few weeks back, we saw Webb and the Beatnecks at the Bluesboro. They had a deal for $29.95 you got admission to the show and dinner for two. At Puckett’s, it was $29.95 and admission to the show per person (or you could pay a $15 cover for just the show). I like Webb a lot, but that’s still kind of steep.

But, the show was worth it. Webb opened up with a song I’d never heard before (and the name escapes me). Then went into songs like “Pretty Little Lights of Town” and others he usually plays with the full band. And Tony actually sung backup on quite a few songs! Very well, I might add.

They also did two new songs that Webb had written in the last few months, and I can’t wait to hear the whole band do them. He also did “Original Mixed Up Kid”, which the band normally doesn’t do, so that was refreshing.

The nearly 90-minute set ended with Human Cannonball.

I think it’d be interesting for Webb and the Beatnecks to do an “unplugged” show some time, with Tom on an acoustic bass guitar.

We’ll be checking Webb and the full band out at 3rd & Lindsley on February. If you’re a fan of good music, you should “pick up on it.”

January 4, 2007

If I Ruled NASCAR, Seven Years Later

Below the fold is the second column I wrote after I created Racindeals.com (sadly, the current version of the site doesn’t go back that far (to 9/3/1999)). The gist of the article (and the whole reason I created Racindeals.com) was to get off my chest things that, as a race fan, I felt NASCAR needed to do to make the sport better.

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December 28, 2006

Music City Motorplex

Not sure why the “big” newspaper in Nashville didn’t have anything on this, but The City Paper reported on the 21st of December that the speedway at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds, currently known as Music City Motorplex, has changed hands to some extent. By March, a new company will own 80% of the company that now runs the track.

Actually, saying “Music City Motorplex has been sold” is somewhat of an incorrect statement. The track is owned by the city of Nashville. The Fair Board, those folks who cost the city a Winston Cup race in 1984, controls who manages (or in some cases in the past, who mismanages) the track.

In 1995, the management of the track was handed over to Bob Harmon, one of the pioneers of the track promotion business. He used his contacts at NASCAR to bring in a Busch Series race and shortly thereafter a Craftsman Truck Series race. Through his leadership, the track’s premier Late Model division easily averaged 35 cars every Saturday night.

Harmon (and the track) was a victim of his own success. In 1998, Harmon sold his ownership interest to Dover Downs Motorsports, the folks who run Dover International Speedway. Their only interest in the track was to get the two major NASCAR races for the 1.33 mile track they planned to (and ultimately did) build in Wilson County, a little east of Nashville.
Once the big track opened in 2001, their lack of interest in running a short track quickly showed, and the quality of racing suffered for it. The track lease changed hands again, this time to a group of folks led by Dennis Grau. Grau came from the sponsorship end of things, and really had no experience running a race track.

And again, that lack of experience showed. The first thing he did was change the name of the track from Nashville Speedway USA to Fairgrounds Speedway at Nashville. He had some big ideas, and some good ideas, but a national scandal involving a female race driver being, in effect, harassed by the male drivers, was the beginning of the end.

After two years under Grau, the Fair Board granted the lease to the current leaseholder, Joe Mattioli (whose family runs Pocono Speedway). Like Grau, the first thing he did was change the name, this time to Music City Motorplex. The name was a reflection on their desire (or hope) to turn the track into a multi-use venue. An artist’s sketch they released showed a drag strip among other things.

Mattioli brought in veteran track operator Jack Deery. Deery rubbed a few people the wrong way, and the track lost a lot of good people because of it. Deery was released in 2006, and Mattioli brought in Norm Partin. Partin’s been around racing forever, and realized that something drastic needed to be done to get the car count back up from an average of 12. The track would abandon the dreadful experiment of running the main races on Friday night’s in 2006, and would go back to the traditional Saturday night races in 2007.

Now, this latest ownership change just adds another questionable chapter to the track’s history. As someone who was affiliated with the track for nearly 10 years (I owned and operated the official web site for the track, under all of its names, from 1996 until early 2004), I sincerely hope things turn around. Moving races back to Saturday night is a good start. That track has arguably generated more top NASCAR drivers than any other track. It’d be great to see it generate a few more.

UPDATE (1/1/07): I’ve just learned that Music City Motorplex is saying that the Nashville City Paper story I linked to above is untrue. This should be interesting.

December 27, 2006

Woman gets 20 months in prison for loud music

The title of this blog, “Loud Music Is a $40 Fine” comes from the title of a Webb Wilder song. The gist of it is that if you’re in Amarillo, Texas, and you play loud music, then you’ll get a $40. Who’d a thunk that it could really happen: Woman gets 20 months in prison for loud music

December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas

Just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas.

December 20, 2006

Getting Webb Wilder

This guy gets Webb Wilder.

December 16, 2006

Webb Wilder at the Bluesboro

Just got back about an hour ago from seeing Webb Wilder and the Beatnecks at the Bluesboro in Murfreesboro. As always, the band played a great show. The Beatnecks tonight were Tom Comet on bass, Tony Bowles on guitar, and Jimmy Lester on drums (with an extra tom!). They did a rare two-set show.

I’ve heard about the Bluesboro Rhythm & Blues Co. for several years, but had never been there before tonight. We opted for the $29 package which included dinner for two and the cover for the show. The food was ok. The venue itself seems to be popular, since it was pretty much packed.

When we got there we ran into Webb and spoke to him for a few minutes. Then he went off to eat and change for the show and we went to find our reserved table. The crowd was an odd lot. Some, like us, were clearly there to see Webb. Others were there to apparently have lengthy discussions which entailed speaking as loud as necessary to be heard above the band.

Speaking as a former sound man I have to say the Bluesboro’s sound system lacked something. Midrange for sure, since it seemed like the sound was a little too harsh. We sat on the right side of the stage, pretty much in front of a couple of sub woofers and the flying speakers on that side. When the band started, about the only thing coming out of the speakers was vocals and the drums at a low level. I was surprised to not be able to feel the bass, since we were about 10 feet away from the subs; but by the end of the night that had changed.

As the first set progressed the sound man kept tweaking things until by the end of the set, the drums (especially the bass), the bass guitar, vocals, and Tony’s lead breaks on the guitar were coming through the mains. Also the volume was way louder by the time they got to the last song; I had to put the old trusty ear plugs in on that one (I normally always wear ear plugs at shows; we saw Sonny Landreth at the Mercy Lounge a few years ago and it was so loud that when my ears hadn’t quit ringing after two weeks, I had them checked and found out I had some temporary hearing loss, specifically around the 4kHz range).

During the break, the sound man turned up the volume on the music he was playing, and I had to keep the plugs in, which made it hard to talk. After about a 25 minute break, the band hit the stage again. It was still weird watching Webb sing and hearing his voice mostly in my right ear, while hearing his guitar from his rig on stage. After “Tough It Out” the show ended, but the audience apparently wasn’t in the mood for an encore, and the sound man turned on the music again. We spoke to Webb again before we left to wish him a Merry Christmas. He did give us a shout out during the second set, asking us how far we’d ever travelled to see him. I shouted “Chicago” but I’m not sure he ever heard.

Here’s the set list (I’m pretty sure the song order is correct):

Set 1:

  1. Down on the Farm
  2. I Just Had to Laugh
  3. Sputnik
  4. If You’re Looking For a Fool
  5. Human Cannonball
  6. No Great Shakes
  7. You Might Be Lonely For A Reason
  8. Poolside
  9. Run With It
  10. The Rest (Will Take Care of Itself)
  11. Meed Your New Landlord
  12. Stay Out of Automobiles
  13. The Only One
  14. Louisiana Hannah

Set two:

  1. King of the Hill
  2. One Taste of the Bait
  3. Goldfinger
  4. Pretty Little Lights of Town
  5. The Devil’s Right Hand
  6. Sittin’ Pretty
  7. How Long Can She Last
  8. You Could Be Cryin’ (not sure of the title; it’s an Otis Rush song)
  9. Mary Lou
  10. Move It
  11. Battle Of The Bands
  12. Flat Out Get it
  13. Tough It Out

Webb’s next show in the Nashville area is at Puckett’s Grocery in Franklin. For details, check out his web site.

December 13, 2006

San Rafael – Not just a city

Another link under the music category on the site is for the San Rafael Band. The San Rafael Band is headed up by a fellow I’ve known for over 25 years, Rafael Vasquez. Rafael’s various versions of the band include a trio, and quartet, and the full band (which I think is 6 or 7 pieces). The web site that’s linked is one that I threw together for him a while back. Now, if he would only keep the upcoming dates updated…

Rafael plays guitar. Now that I think about it, that’s a major understatement. I’d have to say he’s one of the best guitar players I’ve ever heard (I’m not just saying that because he’s a friend; first time I heard him in the studio I was blown away). I’ve heard him play everything from jazz to disco to blues to rock to you name it.

In 1981 (I think it was), I did live sound for a band he was in called The Mix. Rafael, the bass player and the keyboard player were all session musicians at the studio in Knoxville that I worked at part time. (The drummer and lead singer was a fellow named Michael Kitts, who was maybe a little over 5 feet tall; he could really belt out the vocals while playing the drums).

One night we were in a club in Gatlinburg and Rafael was doing a solo and broke a string. I’ve seen other guitar players just completely freak out when they break a string (e.g. Alex Lifeson of Rush; I saw him go through three guitars in one song; every time he’d break a string, he’d stop playing, throw the guitar over to his guitar tech, and pick up another one). You could tell Rafael was “mad” that the guitar string had the nerve to break; instead of the normal length for his solo, he probably played three or four times as long. I just sat behind the mixing board with my mouth open; it was one of the best guitar solos I’ve ever heard (I’m getting chills just remembering it).

When I moved to Nashville in ’82, Rafael had already been here about 6 months (I actually moved to Nashville to do sound for the band he was in at the time called Romeo; the drummer, Ron Ganaway, now plays for Gretchen Wilson). They would do a song called “Goin’ Down” that Rafael sang lead vocals on. In the middle where he was doing the guitar solo, he’d make his Stratocaster sound like a set of bagpipes (and that’s without any of those stomp boxes they have nowadays). Folks would ask them to do the song with the bagpipes when we’d go back to clubs.

Anyway, Rafael’s thing these days is Latin Jazz. He plays around at a  lot of local Nashville Clubs as well as venues around the state. His site has samples of the songs from his two cd’s and his unfinished third cd, so head on over and check it out.