Welcome back, my friends, to the "Battle" that never ends.
We're so glad you could attend. Come inside! Come inside!
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.
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!
[NOTE: Links to the first year of 'BOTB' (#1 - #24) can be found at the very bottom of this page.]

Thursday, February 12, 2015


Howdy, All Y'ALL! Remember me? Didja miss me? I didn't miss me because I went with me on a Reno, Nevada "Beer Run". Yup. Drove one thousand, four hundred and forty-four miles on the ultimate Beer Run.

Before I get too far into this, I wanna wish a "Happy Birthday" to all the folks out there who are celebrating a birthday today. Everyone except for Abraham Lincoln that is. I don't wish no "Happy Birthday" to murderous, Constitution-destroying White supremacists. But that's a story for another (defunct) blog, ain't it?

So, yeah, just got back from a trip to "The Biggest Little City In The World".

You see the Harold's Club sign on the left? That's the place Tom Waits is yakking about in the song 'VIRGINIA AVENUE' on his first album, 'Closing Time'. It's also the place where I had a little hair of the dog that bit me the night before (Seven & Seven) on the morning of my all-time worst hangover. Then Pooh and I packed our stuffs and headed up Geiger Grade for Virginia City. Unfortunately the 7 & 7 didn't stay down, and I later wrote a poem about it titled 'TRYING TO UPCHUCK YOUR LIFE ON GEIGER GRADE'. Wanna read it? Yeah, I thought not.

Anyway... so I went on this extensive Beer Run to Reno and just barely missed seeing Todd Snider in concert while I was there. I could have seen him perform at The Nugget - I called and a couple seats were still available the morning of the show - but I decided to stay in my hotel room in my shorts with a beer.

But I kept notes on my beer guzzlin', 'cause beer is serious bidnizz. (Don't worry Brother Beer Boy Bryan Bodyguard Betty, those notes are comin' to yaz soon.) I even found a new favorite beer. Yup. Lagunitas 'SUCKS' had done been dethroned. So, we're yakking about a very successful Beer Run, and I even visited Virginia City without upchucking on Geiger Grade!

At one point, I found myself on Virginia street, on the Northwest corner of the bridge over the Truckee River...

...and I made a wish for Tiny Tim's second hit song by tossing a 1980 quarter into the Truckee River. Then I gave a buck to the long-haired 25-year-old with an acoustic guitar and an adorable 3-month old puppy, and I told him that my buck was a down-payment for him to learn the song 'Beer Run' by Todd Snider.

I yakked at the kid how Todd Snider had started out doing the same thing he was doing...

Todd Snider With Acoustic Guitar And Dog
...and that the song 'Beer Run' would make him a lot of tips. (The kid actually took notes on what I was saying. Yeah, I have a rather commanding presence.)



"Let me have a Three Musketeers, and a ball point pen, and one of those combs there, a pint of Old Harper, a couple of flash light batteries and some beef jerky."
~ Toad 

So, I drank a brewery's worth of beer, took notes (to be passed on to 'A Beer For The Shower Bryan' soon) and found a place to move.

But now I'm back in Hell, Airheadzona and past the time I shoulda posted my last 'Battle Of The Bands' results.

First, my thanks to all y'all who voted even though I was away and couldn't really respond to yer comments.

Here's how it toined out:

The song was 'THE SKY IS CRYING', the competitors were Stevie Ray Vaughan and Gary Moore. Counting my vote for Gary Moore, the contest ended like this...

Stevie Ray Vaughan = 6 Votes
Gary Moore = 11 Votes

Many years ago I purchased a copy of Gary Moore's album 'BLUES ALIVE' for my then Brother-In-Law (who also dabbled in guitar playing). When he heard Gary's version of 'The Sky Is Crying', he made some remark about it being a nice tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughan. I bit my tongue and thought: It's hardly a "tribute" when he just outplayed Stevie and made his version sound like electrified crap.

I was hoping that Stevie Ray Vaughan's reputation would keep this from being a shutout, and I think to some degree, that did indeed happen. And I appreciate that a couple of voters admitted that they came into the Battle predisposed to vote for Stevie, but their objective ears convinced them that Gary's version was better. And it damn sure WAS!

I generally like Stevie Ray Vaughan (SRV). Decades ago, when I still wasn't really greatly familiar with his recorded output, I called my favorite radio station (KLON - which broadcasted Jazz and Blues in the Los Angeles area) to find out who that was kicking guitar butt on a song they'd just played. Turned out it was SRV doing 'CROSSFIRE'. That got me started buying several of SRV's albums. The guy was great. A little bit overrated, but still great.

I believe Gary Moore's version is slightly better vocally. But since this is really mostly about the guitar, I'd say Moore beats SRV hands down. SRV's reputation aside, Moore has more exciting chops, the dynamics of his playing are superior. At the 4:17 mark, Moore brings it down and does some bone-deep soulful Blues playing, only to kick up the angry angst again at around 6:50 - WHAM!-WHAM!-WHAM! DAMN! Dudes and Dudettes, if THAT doesn't get your heart racing, you're not only dead, but you're buried and skeletal.

On the other hand, SRV had already done and said everything he was going to do with the song by about four or four and a half minutes. The rest of the 7:20 running time was simply superfluous. And I hate to admit this, but every time I've heard SRV play this version of 'The Sky Is Crying', when he goes into that long guitar stretch, my mind starts to wander: Did I pay that bill on time? Did I remember to change the watering times for the lawn? Did I have five beers or six? Well, frankly, in all the buzz, I kind of forgot myself. Does this punk feel lucky? Should I check the refrigerator to see if there's still one beer left?

If you prefer SRV's guitar tone, due to the differences in guitar makes, that's a valid argument. But then why not just listen to Danny Gatton instead? Gatton and SRV played somewhat similar guitars (a Tele and a Strat), and Gatton was known as "The World's Greatest Unknown Guitarist", "The Humbler" (because even legendary guitarists like Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck wouldn't take the stage after he had), and "The Telemaster" because he played the Telecaster better'n anyone ever did. In fact, Steve Vai, no guitar B-lister himself (he played every single note you hear by both guitarists in THIS guitar duel film clip), said:

"Danny Gatton comes closer than anyone else to being the best guitar player that ever lived."

Gatton is certainly the best I ever heard. More on Danny Gatton in a future 'Battle Of The Bands' blog bit.

Well, thanks again to ALL OF YOU who commented and voted. My next BOTB installment, in just a few days, will not be a guitar extravaganza like this one was, but it's going to feature a truly great and ultra-romantic song.

Be here or be... somewheres else.

My Love To All Y'all.
Sorry I've missed so many of your blog bits over the last week and a half, but I'm back now and keeping my evil eyes on y'all and whatchoo post.

~ Stephen T. McCarthy


  1. Ha! Who cares about Lincoln when there are so many other important people born on this day.

    Finally, a BATTLE that ended as it should. Lately, I haven't been able to vote for a winner anywhere, including my own, but anyone who didn't vote for Moore should be taken out and...be very sorry!

    Too bad about Todd, but I hear he plays what will be your new hometown every so often so...Next time,eh?

  2. I missed seeing the voting blog post, so I'll at least leave a comment here.....although I'm not sure what to say. I'm so confused, but you know it doesn't take much ...... I'll just say, "Glad you're back, Stephen T!" Missed ya ~

  3. Saw TS at the MIM a couple of weeks ago-a couple I met while waiting to get my copy of "Daily Planet" signed were die-hards and were ending their run of shows in Reno (I think they went to ten shows in all).

    You were probably better off not going...all acoustic (although he did a few songs on the piano in Phoenix), and while I did not think he was too over the top liberal in his chatting, I think I have a higher tolerance for it than you...

    I forgot all about BOTB until I saw everyone's tally posts, so missed voting, but I would have had a hard time with this one...love both versions, and while I think I like SRV more than you, I agree that he's a little on the overhyped side.

    Can I vote for George Thorogood's version? I heard that one first!

    Let me know how your trip went! If you told me about the TW/Reno connection, I have forgotten.

    I'll just get on back into my short


  4. So it sounds like your trip went successfully and you will be moving. Hope the move gets you more on the upside, but the way I see it is where we go doesn't change things about life as what we take with us.

    Once again we've seen the good old matter of preferences at work in this post. "Beer Run" is funny, but not something I'd listen to that often. I liked Arlo's "Alice's Restaurant" and Jaime Brockett's "Legend of the USS. Titanic" a lot too but they're novelty songs and not repeated listening on a loop songs.

    Don't see the see absolutes either between the two guitar songs either, just opinions--but that's my opinion. And we all got some, right?

    Now I'm anxious to see what you got up your musical sleeve for the next Battle. I enjoy love songs just fine--not too thrilled with Valentine's Day though. You should see all the candy my wife's students gave her. It makes me sick just looking at it all. Probably make me sick eating it too.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

    1. BOIDMAN ~
      Yes, the trip was a success. Hopefully things keep rolling this way.

      This move - and all around change - has been long, Long, LONG overdue and it will certainly be an improvement from what's been going on here in my life for the last 3 years. Yeah, it won't be paradise (that comes after death) but just the change of scenery alone will be a positive thing.

      I agree that 'BEER RUN' is just a funny novelty song; it's not something I would listen to often either, but it's fun to play once in awhile.

      As for my BOTB between SRV and Gary Moore, I definitely hear pronounced differences in the guitar playing. So much so that the longer version holds my attention all the way through, while the slightly shorter one causes my mind to wander every... single... time. To my ears, that's obviously a major difference being picked up.

      Yeah, I'm with you in the anti-Valentine's Day club. My song will be romantic but not sickly sweet like too much sugar.

      Thanks for stopping by, Boid Bud.

      ~ D-FensDogg
      'Loyal American Underground'

  5. -------- FAE --------
    Who needs Todd Snider while the Beach Boys are still touring anyway?

    Yeah, to me, the Gary Moore version was head and shoulders, pride and joy better'n the Stevie Ray Vaughan version. I like SRV quite a bit, but his playing seemed somewhat uninspired to me on this track. I mean, this stuffs is right in my wheelhouse and yet my mind wanders while SRV noodles. Moore, however, holds my attention all the way through with a bit more structure and power.

    -------- BECKY-O! --------
    Don't feel bad, because I don't know what I was saying either, even though I wrote this blog bit. Sometimes I just like to open the doors and windows in my mind to see where the wind will blow.

    -------- LC --------
    Based on YouTube videos, I don't think Todd Snider has toured with a band in quite awhile; I think he's always - or nearly always - just playing alone and acoustically. Based on seats still being available the morning of the show, in a small, intimate nightclub-sized venue, he must not make a lot of money touring even without having to divide it amongst a full band of musicians.

    George Thorogood's version was the first one I'd heard too, years before hearing SRV's or Gary Moore's. However, I'd still vote for Moore over Thorogood's also.

    The trip was fine. A lot of driving but I found a place to move and signed a one-year lease. Looks like there's work up there, too.

    Hmmm... I don't recall whether or not I ever mentioned that it was Reno's 'Harold's Club' (no longer there) that Tom Waits was referring to. I've known about it for a long, long time, but it may have never come up in our many discussions. Waits calls it Virginia AVENUE but it's really Virginia STREET.

    In fact, Waits mentions Reno in a few songs. HERE'S ANOTHER ONE. I guess all us old drunks have a thing for Reno.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  6. Hey, Welcome back! Glad your Beer run turned out to be a success -- Best of luck to you in Reno!

    And don't be too hard on Abraham Lincoln -- if there weren't no Abraham, there wouldn't be no Lincoln automobiles, without no Lincoln cars, "Hot Rod Lincoln" would never have sounded the same ("Hot Rod Rambler"???) now would it?

    As to your BOTB -- Not sure why, but I had you figured for a Gary Moore vote. Maybe it's just my tinnitus and my addled brain cells misfiring, but truthfully, I still prefer SRV. I 100% support you having your opinion, and I certainly can't argue too strongly about the merits of Moore's playing.

    To me, this is like two gourmet chefs serving two exquisite, skillfully-created dishes. They're BOTH wonderful, but one person's taste might lean to the one dish which featured a little more garlic, and someone else's taste might lean to the one which had more of a taste of ginger in the sauce.

    Or -- which beer really IS worth a 1400-mile beer run? It varies by taste, my friend: EVERYONE might (or should) agree that no can of Bud is gonna be worth that amount of travel, but if it comes down to two finely-crafted artisan micro-brews, it comes down to personal taste.

    Best of luck in Reno! Personally, I've got no experience with Reno, but plenty of experience with Re-no: That's where I ask my wife for something and she says, "no", but then I re-ask and she re-no's me...

    1. PS:

      And you like MY guitar playing, so clearly your taste is suspect...


      See you in the next BOTB!

    2. Guitar god Chris ~
      Ha! Good point about the "Hot Rod Lincoln"! I stand corrected.

      ... "my tinnitus and my addled brain cells misfiring..."

      Oh, you've got those too, huh? The difference might be that I have a perpetual hangover on top of them. And hangovers will affect a person's hearing... and vision... and speaking... and thinking.

      Yes, of course in many cases when you have two stellar musicians, it just comes down to personal taste. You like tomato, I like potahto, let's call the concert off!

      But if you think I'm going to stand idly by while you insult America by saying a can of Budweiser (no longer owned by America) isn't worth a 1,400-mile beer run!... you are spot-on.

      Fortunately, I do now know the answer to "Which beer is worth a 1,400-mile beer run?" (How do you feel about juniper berries, sage, and wild hops?)

      Yes, I sincerely DO like your guitar playing, AND the combination of juniper berries, sage, and wild hops. So... yes, it seems my taste IS clearly suspect.

      Thanks for the good wishes, Brother. Yep, see ya back here in a couple o' days. Until then, keep on rockin'!

      ~ D-FensDogg
      'Loyal American Underground'

  7. Bring on the evil, STMcC! I've rested up.

    1. Oh, sheesh! Now that you're rested up, I'm too pooped to pop again.

      Will we EVER get on the same page?

      ~ D-FensDogg
      'Fan Of Chuck Berries and Juniper Berries'

  8. HA HA! I knew you would vote for the lesser-known artist. At least you know I am not trying to look good. Your description of your reaction to the two versions of the song are (surprise, surprise) exactly the opposite from my own. MY mind wandered during Moore's version... so much so that I had to stop it and start again three times before I finished it because I was getting bored. You think Moore's is more nuanced. I LIKED it, but found it lagged in those quiet parts discussed in previous comments. It was not nearly as enjoyable to me as SRV's version. Label me as having attention deficit disorder if you please, but at least I can sit through and enjoy a whole opera. I can't get you to even try ONE!

    The sun rises in the east, the Fed prints more money... and you and I disagree again about music. All is right with the world.

      Yep, all is right with the world.

      There might be some songs in which I'd vote for SRV over Gary Moore, this just wasn't one of them. And it might just be a fuel thing... as in, you've been 80-proof low for your entire life, while I keep my brain cells oiled according to the manufacturer's specification.

      Don't worry though, Bro - if you ever break down on the highway, in a remote, desolate place, I will come to rescue you.

      By the way, that reminds me... it may be some days before I can get a "proper" rEply sent to you, but until then, here's a clue for you to ponder:

      You saw where I will be living for at least the next year in Reno even before I saw it.

      You're a smart guy, so I know you catch my meaning. I thank you sincerely for the scouting you did on my behalf. Looks like it wasn't wasted time because it's paying off.

      Yak Mo' Later, Sixboy.
      Gotta go back to bed now; work waits to torture me again beginning at 9 PM.

      ~ D-FensDogg
      'Loyal Senior Citizen Community King'

  9. This is one massive post with mega work-links-stuff.
    Glad you got there, got back here, safely.
    "Beer Run" smacks of "B.I.N.G.O." ~ adult version.
    See ya' at BOTB this weekend.
    sign: peeping Tom


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