Mapping Happenings

A Sort-of Music Oriented Blog

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Welcome to my blog!

After years of visiting and reading blogs, I have finally decided to do one of my own. Thanks for stopping by! Here I plan to describe what I am listening to, live music events I attend, and my thoughts about various artists of the present and past, as well as my thoughts on about anything else I want to share; most everything will tie back to music in some way or another. But let me first start out telling a little about myself.

Who am I?

First, I am not a professional musician. I have friends who are. I am not a music instructor. But like so many, music has always been a big part of my personal life. I played B flat clarinet in high school. Learned guitar as a teenager and took lessons for 2 years from a prominent jazz guitarist in Washington, PA - Anthony (Tony) Janflone, Sr. During the time I was taking lessons Tony's band Marshmellow Steamshovel folded and he formed the Super Blues Band with George & Bill Heid. Later, Tony was part of the Gene Ludwig combo and recorded a CD with them in 1998, "Back on the Track". Great album. I had heard somewhere, unconfirmed, that Tony's instructor was Joe Negri, of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood fame (Handyman Negri). I also had heard that Negri was George Benson's instructor, and also taught Ralph Patt, the inventor of major-thirds tuning. One thing is for certain; Tony and George Benson jammed together in the early to mid '60s. I have Negri's "Afternoon in Rio" CD from 1998, and it is well worth tracking down. Tony's son, Tony Janflone, Jr. is an exceptional blues/rock guitarist and is quite popular in the Pittsburgh & Tri-State area, as well as gaining international recognition. He has several CDs out, going back to the 90s. His "Live at the Blues Café" CD is my favorite.

I played in a band locally in my late teens and early 20s (1970-1972). There were several personnel and name changes with the drummer and I being the only constants. But college studies took priority and all of us in the band sort of faded away from performing. I sold my electric guitar and amp in the early 80s. I still have my acoustic, and play at home occasionally. My clarinet was lost in the move to California in 1999 but I had not played it in years. I was in a male Gospel vocal quartet for awhile in the late 80s, as well as doing community theater from '78 through '85, including musicals. That's the extent of my music performance experiences.

My parents were proficient in playing the phonograph, radio, and television but unfortunately no musical instruments. My older brothers played clarinet and trombone in high school. My parents grew up during the Great Depression, and were fans of big band swing, as well as Dixieland music. My clarinetist brother turned me on to Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" when I was five (1958). My sister was a big fan of Bobby Rydell, Bobby Darin, Frankie Avalon, and Fabian when I was in grade school so I heard their music a lot. We only had a 45 rpm player until I was 13 (1966), at which time we obtained a phonograph that played LPs. However we had a stereo reel-to-reel beginning in 1963. My parents made the transition from big band to Herb Alpert's Tijuana Brass & Percy Faith in the mid '60s. I didn't really have a musical identity independent of my folks (except for classical music, as I was exposed to it in school) until my freshman year in high school. That's when things changed.

The Best Memories from 2009

On Where Pianos Roam

For posterity, I wanted to document some of the most memorable moments I experienced in 2009.    There have been some amazingly wonderful times .  .  .

Last January, I was blessed to visit my good friends Leigh and Chris in Seattle.  I stayed for a few days and brought along Oreo and Buttercup.  I ate a HUGE burrito, hung out with a troll, visited Bainbridge Island, visited the grave of Bruce Lee and his son, had a lovely ferry ride, wandered aimlessly through a cubist library, and pretty much took photos of O and B all around the city.  More than anything, I enjoyed spending time with Leigh, Chris, and their beautiful daughter Sophia!  It was the best trip ever.

In February, my sister made a second attempt at teaching me how to knit.  The first time it happened I got really frustrated and tossed it all aside.  For whatever reason, something stuck this time around.  My first project was a beautiful maroon and beige scarf that I still wear to this day.  So far, I've knitted eight scarves, two hats, a bracelet, and half of a throw blanket ever since.  It is such relaxing and rewarding way to pass the time.  I'll be knitting more in the next year.  Here is a photo of the first scarf I ever knitted:

Last February, I visited Atlanta with my friend Chris.  We were mainly there to see an Antony and the Johnsons concert, but we decided to make a whole weekend out of it.  Of course, I took Oreo and Buttercup along.  We visited some fancy malls, and I ate this AMAZING butternut squash dish that I will never forget as long as I live.  It was a really wonderful trip.  My friend Chris was the best host ever!  Here he is being slightly embarrassed having his picture taken with a miniature piano and a rowdy bench:

Simply put, it was one of the best concerts I have ever been to.  This was one band that did not need a bunch of crazy pyrotechnics and theatrics to put on a beautiful show.  They were on tour to support the release of the new album "The Crying Light" and sang most of the songs from it.  There was even a cover of Beyonce's hit song "Crazy In Love".  I sat in the front row in direct sight of Antony playing the piano.  It was so mesmerizing.  After the show, my friend Chris and I got to meet Antony.  He signed a copy of his CD for me, and I gave him a copy of my album "Seahorses".  It was the best concert ever!  For sure, I will see them perform again whenever I possibly can.

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