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Welcome back, my friends, to the "Battle" that never ends.
We're so glad you could attend. Come inside! Come inside!
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This is 'BATTLE OF THE BANDS' ('BOTB') where you listen to different recordings and vote for the one you like best. A new Battle gets posted on the 1st of each month and on the 7th, I place my own vote, tally 'em all up and announce the winner.
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Friend? Foe? Stranger? No matter, ALL are welcome. So pull up a chair, pour yourself 24 oz. of DOG BITE High Gravity Lager (or the poison of your choice) and turn it up to Eleven!
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[NOTE: Links to the first year of 'BOTB' (#1 - #24) can be found at the very bottom of this page.]

Friday, February 21, 2020

BOTB RESULTS: FEB. 15, 2020 (Or, TOM WAITS VS. TOM WAITS VS. TOM WAITS)

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My unexpected February 15th BATTLE OF THE BANDS contest took place HERE, and it was Tom Waits versus Tom Waits versus Tom Waits. Guess who won!
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The BOTB installment was actually a tribute to my late friend MARTY BRUMER, wherein I related to y'all what was probably his favorite of my many stories. And I also featured Tom Waits because Tom's 'BROKEN BICYCLES' was quite possibly Marty's very favorite song. But the theme was 'Songs That Mention Reno'.
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Well, I'm walking on down Virginia Avenue
Trying to find somebody to tell my troubles to
Harold's Club is closing
And everybody's going on home
What's a poor boy to do?
~ Virginia Avenue
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I told y'all how, in 1986, while on a road trip with my buddy Pooh and a stuffed dog named Muddy, I suffered the worst hangover of my life. After upchucking on Geiger Grade a 7&7 that I drank at Harold's club on Virginia Street in Reno, I spent the whole day and night lying in bed at the Sugarloaf Mountain Motel in Virginia City, Nevada.
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Then with my double barrel shotgun and a whole box of shells
We'll celebrate the Fourth of July
We'll do 100 miles an hour spending someone else's dough
We'll drive all the way to Reno
On the wrong side of the road
~ Wrong Side Of The Road
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I also told you how Pooh and I inadvertently drove out of Reno on the wrong side of a closed or unfinished stretch of freeway.
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Hang on, Saint Christopher, on the passenger side
Open it up tonight the devil can ride
Hang on, Saint Christopher, now don't let me go
Get me to Reno, got to bring it in low
Put my baby on the flat car, got to burn down the caboose
Get 'em all jacked up on whiskey, then we'll turn the mad dog loose
~ Hang On, Saint Christopher
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And I told you about that laminated night Pooh and I spent in Reno at Xenon's Lounge and Circus Circus, all jacked up on whiskey and... God only remembers what all else. (Black Russians? Gin & Tonics? Margaritas?) And how Pooh got so drunk he couldn't even find his way back to our motel without help from me.
{*Cough!-Cough!*}
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Pooh at the Bucket Of Blood Saloon, 1986.
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The exact same spot as it looks today (or, as it looked two days ago - Wed. Feb. 19, 2020.
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I was pretty sure that 'Virginia Avenue', the most mainstream, most commercial-sounding (most "normal") of these three Tom Waits songs would win the Battle. And I figured that 'Wrong Side Of The Road', the most rough 'n' ragged sounding of the three songs, would come in third place. But this only shows to go ya how difficult predicting BOTB outcomes can be.
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Virginia Avenue = 4 votes
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Wrong Side Of The Road = 6 votes
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Hang On, Saint Christopher = 3 votes
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For me, the contest was definitely between 'Wrong Side' and 'Saint Christopher'. And it was SO-ooo close between those two songs that I decided in advance that if it came down to it, I would cast my vote in whatever way necessary to break up a tie, or to avoid creating a tie. But, thankfully, it didn't come to that, because 'Wrong Side' was going to win no matter how I voted.
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After much deliberation, I gave my BOTB bote to 'Saint Christopher', by about a 51%-49% advantage.
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It was a lower than usual turnout, but I thank every one of you who took the time to come by here and read my long, long story; listen to the 3 songs; and to cast a BOTB bote in my contest! Thank you, All!
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I hope you'll return for my MARCH 1st BATTLE OF THE BANDS installment.
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EXTRA  CREDIT:
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At the peak of his powers, I think Tom Waits was an unsurpassed lyricist. I mean, it takes an extraordinary talent - I would argue a "genius" - to come up with lines like "Catch the tears of a widow in a thimble made of glass" and "Poison all the water in the wishin' well".
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Although I never heard or read this anywhere, knowing how many references to people, places and things Tom Waits tended to use in his songs, I have long believed that most likely this verse...
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Strangle all the Christmas carols
Scratch out all the prayers
Tie 'em up with barbed wire
And push 'em down the stairs
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...was inspired by the following famous Richard Widmark scene from the 1947 film noir 'Kiss Of Death':
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Saturday, February 15, 2020

BATTLE OF THE BANDS: 2020, FEB. 15th (Or, TOM WAITS AND DRUNKEN COWBOYS IN RENO)

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BATTLE OF THE BANDS (BOTB)
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This Battle is dedicated to my great friend 
[link> MARTIN  BRUMER
Born: February 15, 1960  
Killed by a car thief on: July 18, 1989

His all-time favorite song may have been 
[link> 'Broken Bicycles' by Tom Waits
And his favorite of all my stories was probably 
this one which I'm about to retell below:
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"I lost my Saint Christopher 
Now that I've kissed her"
~ Tom Waits
'Tom Traubert's Blues' from the album 'Small Change'
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Producer Bones Howe has said that another experience inspired "Tom Traubert's Blues". Recalling the experience, Howe said, "He [Waits] went down and hung around on Skid Row in L.A. because he wanted to get stimulated for writing this material. He called me up and said, 'I went down to skid row ... I bought a pint of rye. In a brown paper bag.' 
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"I said, 'Oh really?' 
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"'Yeah – hunkered down, drank the pint of rye, went home, threw up, and wrote 'Tom Traubert's Blues' [...] Every guy down there... every one I spoke to, a woman put him there'."
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"The piano has been drinking
And you can't find your waitress
With a Geiger counter
And she hates you and your friends
And you just can't get served without her" [*]
~ Tom Waits
'The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me)' from the album 'Small Change'
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[*Was Waits psychic? How did he predict in 1976 what The League Of Soul Crusaders would experience at Zucky's from 1981 through 1984 or '85?]
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On the evening of February 10th, I left a comment on one of John Holton's blog bits. The subject was Bubble Gum Pop music, and you can find that blog bit and my comment HERE.
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However, in part, I wrote the following:
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>>... Musically, I am all over the map (although Jazz is #1 for me), and as fate would have it, at this moment, I am listening to some of the strongest “anti-Bubble Gum” on record (a compilation CD of Tom Waits recordings, including songs like ‘Frank’s Wild Years’, ‘Mr. Siegel’, ‘Hang On, Saint Christopher’, and ‘I’m Your Late Night Evening Prostitute’ Ha!-Ha!).
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I wasn't planning to post a BOTB installment on the 15th, but TOM WAITS and the city of RENO, in Nevada, and Marty Brumer's upcoming birthday intruded into my peace of mind. So, going with this new-found inspiration, I am giving you another 3-Way BOTB with the following theme:
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TOM WAITS Songs That Mention RENO
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Muddy (STMcC's stuffed dog) watches from the safety of the car while Stephen starts up a campfire in Somewhere, USA.
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One of my very best friends in this life is nicknamed POOH. Originally, he was nicknamed Lynth. But over time, Lynth got lengthened to Lynthy-Pooh. Then Lynthy-Pooh got shortened to Pooh. But over more time, Pooh got lengthened to General Poohregard. And, eventually, the nickname General Poohregard was shortened to Pooh. (That's a true story. And, no, you CAN'T make that stuff up!!)
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In 1984, I quit my job as a commercial sign designer and decided to make my living by betting on the race horses at Hollywood Park. (That was a job that lasted 5 or 6 weeks!) 
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During those weeks, Pooh and I did a lot of drinking in Venice at the '99-Cent Club' (aka Azteca's 99-cent Margarita Special from about 10:00 AM until 1:00 or 2:00 PM).
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When Pooh and I weren't day-drinking at Azteca Mexican Restaurant, we were day-drinking at his place in "The House At Pooh Corner". That's where Pooh turned me onto the albums 'Trouble In Paradise' by Randy Newman and 'Small Change' by Tom Waits. At that time, those were our two favorite albums "To Booze By".
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In 1986, Lynth > Lynthy-Pooh > Pooh > General Poohregard > Pooh and I agreed to do a major road trip, driving from Los Angeles to Devil's Tower in Wyoming, and back again via the Grand Canyon and Virginia City, Nevada. Really, the whole point of the trip was to drink a shot of whiskey and a beer together at the 'Bucket Of Blood Saloon' in Virginia City. But we decided to take the long way there. (Remember this! You'll need it later.)
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I have taken MANY road trips all over the USA, but I still consider the 'Show No Emotion In A Big Way' Tour, in 1986, one of my very favorites of all time!
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Basically, Pooh and I just drank our way across the Western United States, and created many magnificent memories in the process. Below are some selected photos from the 'Show No Emotion In A Big Way' Tour:
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"Woke up this morning and I got myself a beer" ~Jim Morrison -- STMcC, very hungover one 1986 morning in Bullhead City, Arizona - directly across the Colorado River from Laughlin, Nevada.
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"Woke up this morning and I got myself a beer" ~Jim Morrison -- Muddy in the same motel room in Bullhead City, Airheadzona, and every bit as hungover as STMcC was.
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STMcC and his stuffed buddy, Muddy, hitchhiking in Airheadzona, along an original stretch of the old and fabled 'ROUTE 66'.
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Muddy sitting smack-dab in the center of the original ROUTE 66. The driver of the oncoming white automobile must have been thinking: 'What The Phuq?!'
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Muddy (the stuffed dog) & STMcC in 'Prairie Dog Town', Wyoming.
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Spectacular sunbeam captured on film by (hungover) STMcC in The-Middle-Of-Nowhere, Wyoming.
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Pooh, killin' his 666th bottle of "Road Soda", at Devil's Tower, Wyomin'. 
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Muddy 'n' me at Devil's Tower, Wyoming.
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Pooh, watching the Sun rise over the Grand Canyon in Arizona.
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On our way back to L.A., the plan was to drive right through Reno, Nevada, and head straight up the mountain pass called Geiger Grade, proceeding to legendary Virginia City for that shot of whiskey and a beer together at the 'Bucket Of Blood Saloon'. (You remember? The real point of the trip?! Pooh had never been to Virginia City, and I wanted to introduce him to the 'Bucket Of Blood Saloon'.) But when we pulled into Reno, I insisted that we stay there one night, and leave for Virginia City (just 30 minutes away) the following morning. Pooh said, "I don't know. I have a bad feeling about this place."
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And that's when I called Pooh a derogatory slang word that starts with "p" and ends with "ssy". (I'll let "u" figure it out.) So, we got a motel room in Reno, two or three blocks from Virginia Street - the primary thoroughfare in downtown Reno - and we promptly went out drinking... and drinking... and drinking... and drinking... etc., etc., etc.
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UHP! I WAS AN IDIOT!! 
(I shoulda listened to the "Pooh-ssy".) 
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I got completely laminated at 'Xenon's Lounge' (a long-defunct watering hole) and I drove everyone except the bartender out of the lounge by playing The Beach Boys' 'IN MY ROOM' about 666 times consecutively on the jukebox. Then Pooh and I staggered to Circus Circus and drank some more.
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Finally, at some point, Pooh decided he should stop drinking and go to sleep, so he told me he was going back to the motel. I said, "Fine. But I'm gonna stay here and drink."  
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So, Pooh walked out of Circus Circus. ...And about two minutes later, he walked back in and said to me, "I don't know where the motel is."
I said, "Damn it, Pooh!! What's wrong with you?! Alright... I'll show you where the motel is, but then I'm coming back here to do some more drinking."
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He and I walked out of Circus Circus together and... wandered hopelessly lost around downtown Reno for what seemed like hours!! Eventually, we showed a taxi cab driver our room key with the motel's name on it, and he said he'd never heard of the place. (That was the genesis of our now-famous line, "Nobody helps drunken cowboys in Reno.")
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And the very next thing that Pooh and I knew, we woke up in our motel room in the morning with absolutely no recollection of having found the place the night before.
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I had the WORST HANGOVER of my entire drinking career. Pooh and I crawled to HAROLD'S CLUB on Virginia Street in downtown Reno, and I ordered some "hair-of-the-dog" (a '7&7').
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Downtown RENO - 'HAROLD'S CLUB' on the left. Photo taken on the most hungover day of my entire life!
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We left Reno and headed for Virginia City. But we were both so hungover that somehow we found ourselves driving completely alone on a stretch of freeway. We couldn't understand why there were no other cars on it. We also couldn't understand why all the freeway signs were pointed backwards!! 
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Apparently, it was an unfinished piece of freeway. Or maybe a section of freeway that had been closed for repairs. (That hilarious scene in 'Planes, Trains, And Automobiles' always reminds me of Pooh and I "driving out of Reno on the wrong side of the road".) 
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This is Geiger Grade:
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While we were going up Geiger Grade, I said to Pooh, "Pull over. I think I'm gonna get sick." So, Pooh found a place to pull off to the side of the road, and I knelt in the dirt, but nuttin' came up. So, I got back in the car and we continued up Geiger Grade. And about two minutes later, I told Pooh, "Pull over. I think I'm gonna throw-up." Pooh found another place to pull off the road, I knelt in the dirt and upchucked that 7&7 ("hair-of-the-dog") that I had drunk at HAROLD'S CLUB in Reno.
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That incident inspired a free-form poem thingy that I wrote years later. It was titled [link> 'Trying To Upchuck Your Life On Geiger Grade'.
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When we got to Virginia City, instead of getting a shot of whiskey and a beer together at the 'Bucket Of Blood Saloon', we rented a room at the Sugarloaf Mountain Motel. I crawled into one of the beds and told Pooh, "I'm done for the day." It was probably about 10:00 AM at that point.
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Pooh decided to go explore the town, and I told him he could drink in any of the many saloons, but to stay out of the Bucket Of Blood Saloon, so we could go there tomorrow and get that shot and a beer together. Pooh agreed and headed into town.
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I spent the entire day in bed, on my back, staring at the ceiling. Then it got dark. And late. And Pooh still wasn't back. Finally, I heard running footsteps in the gravel, approaching the motel. The door opened and Pooh staggered in. I asked him, "Is someone chasing you?"
He said, "No", and fell face-forward onto his bed. He kicked off one of his tennis shoes and then immediately passed out. I spent the next hour or two literally "waiting for the other shoe to drop". It never did.
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The next morning, it was Pooh who had the hellacious hangover. "You didn't go into the Bucket Of Blood yesterday, did you?" I asked him.
"Well, I didn't think I did", Pooh answered. "But then this morning, I found this in my shirt pocket." He held up a Bucket Of Blood Saloon cocktail napkin for me to see. Then he added, "...And I'm starting to remember that maybe the bartender kicked me out of there last night."
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Later on, Pooh and I went into the Bucket Of Blood Saloon to finally get that long-awaited shot of whiskey and a beer together. The bartender looked up from behind the bar, took one glance at Pooh, and said, "Oh... I remember you from last night".
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Pooh at the scene of the crime, and wearing an "improper" cowboy hat.
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STMcC (wearing a "proper" cowboy hat) with Muddy on the bar of the Bucket Of Blood Saloon.
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Back home after the vacation, STMcC's eyes are saying: "I'll never go on a road trip with that Pooh ever again!"
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Over the subsequent years, Pooh and I went on a few more road trips together, but they weren't crazy, drunken affairs like our trip to get shot of whiskey and a beer together at the 'Bucket Of Blood Saloon' had been. In fact, on the very day that we got back to L.A. from the 'Show No Emotion In A Big Way' Tour, Pooh quit drinking. He's been sober for over 30 years. 
{*Pooh, you winnah! You winnah!*} 
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Pooh (with a Mickey's Big Mouth) at Ashland Park in "Dogtown", 1986. The last day he ever took a drink.
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Alright, let's get on it. Let's get ON this thing!...
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TOM WAITS Songs That Mention RENO
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VIRGINIA AVENUE {*Really named "Street"*} -- 1973
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v3CEkvvpCF4

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WRONG SIDE OF THE ROAD -- 1978
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OrtawKgq0Tc

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HANG ON, SAINT CHRISTOPHER -- 1987
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBqFq0c1ANU

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Alright now, “you know the gig”... I welcome you (whether I know "you" or not) to vote for your favorite of these songs in the comment section below. And feel free to tell us WHY you chose one song over the other.
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After voting here, I suggest - actually I insist - you pop over to the blogs of the other 'BATTLE OF THE BANDS' participants to see which songs they have chosen and vote there alsoVote your vice...   Vice your voice... 
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Voice Your Vote...
TOSSING IT OUT by clicking HERE
MIKE'S RAMBLINGS by clicking HERE
THE SOUND OF ONE HAND TYPING by clicking HERE
@ JINGLE JANGLE JUNGLE by clicking HERE
@ THE DOGLADY'S DEN by clicking HERE
@ CHERDO ON THE FLIPSIDE by clicking HERE
@ CURIOUS AS A CATHY by clicking HERE
@ AI LOVE MUSIC by clicking HERE
@ STORMS & STARDUST by clicking HERE
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As I've done in the past, I will continue to return to my 'BOTB' blog bits on the 7th (or 21st) of each month to post my own votes and announce the winner.
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Friday, February 7, 2020

BOTB RESULTS: 2020, FEB. 1st (Or, TONI VERSUS BRUCE VERSUS WES)

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STMcC’s Vote On '2020, February 1st: BATTLE OF THE BANDS' (BOTB) - Or, TONI FISHER Versus BRUCE BLACKMAN Versus WES MONTGOMERYAnd The Final Tally:
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DogGs & DogGettes ~
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The "anti-Valentine's Day" song was 'THE BIG HURT' and the Battle took place HERE. It started out looking like it might be a nail-biter, because after the first 6 votes were in, all three of the contestants had two votes apiece. But then Miss Toni Fisher (whose original recording of the song was a big hit in 1959) began to pull away from the competition.
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Still, it was a pretty decent Battle. Initially, I expected Bruce Blackman would likely win but, in fact, he got the least number of votes of the three contestants.
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Of the three artists, Toni Fisher certainly brought the greatest sense of "hurt" (or "Ouch-eth") to the song, but for me, personally, the Battle was strictly between Blackman and Wes Montgomery. See, I wasn't at all impressed by the lyrics. (I could scrawl something at least that good on a cocktail napkin before I was even halfway done with my first Mojito.) Therefore, to me, the real attraction of the song is its melody and instrumentation. I really liked the cool sophistication that Bruce Blackman brought to the table with his very pleasing voice. And, naturally, I dig the extraordinary six-string magic that Wes displayed. Man, did that guy know his way around a fretboard!! He had such a delicate touch and made his intricate playing sound so effortless! Plus, I really love the added layer of depth that was provided by the violins and cellos in the arrangement.
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It was a tough call for me, but Wes barely edged out Bruce to get my vote. However, nuttin' could stop Toni Fisher from snagging First Place:
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Toni Fisher = 9 votes
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Bruce Blackman = 3 votes
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Wes Montgomery = 4 votes
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My sincere thanks to all y'all for playing along by listening and voting! I couldn't-a done it without ya!
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I will be back here again on March 1st with yet another edition of Battle Of The Bands. And I hope you will be back here then, too! Thanks, BOTB boters!
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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