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.

A Great Big World Album Review

On Growing Up

A Great Big World (made up of the duo Ian Axel and Chad Vaccarino) released their first major record label album yesterday to what seems to be great initial success on iTunes – currently #1. The group has been together since college and came roaring into the music scene earlier this year when a song of theirs was covered on the Fox hit show Glee (“This is the New Year”). Earlier this fall the duo toped the charts worldwide with their hit “Say Something” particularly the version featuring Christina Aguilera which had it’s debut on the NBC hit show The Voice.

(agreatbigworld.com)

Their Sound

With only hearing their first single off of the album “Say Something” I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from their sound. It was a pleasant surprise to hear that not only do they use piano as the lead instrument on their ballads and slower tunes, but also jam out on some of their more pop inspired tracks. While listening I found myself making references to artists like Sara Bareilles and Billy Joel who have coupled strong songwriting with great musical chops to create a dynamic that is refreshing in the current pop music scene. Listening through the album A Great Big World seemed to have a strong sense of who they are and who they want to be which was nice to hear from such a “young” group! Below are some of the favorite tracks from the album!

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