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.]

Sunday, March 27, 2016


Seriously, a Happy Easter to everyone of ya! Rejoice, for He has risen! And I hope you got the chocolate bunny you asked Santa for. [Don't worry, this is not blasphemy. This blog bit has the Jesus Christ seal of approval. Or did you not know that Jesus has a sense of humor, even on a glorious day such as this?]

It's been a part of my tradition since I was a child - a tradition started by Pa & Ma - to eat a chocolate bunny on Easter Sunday. (Proper etiquette dictates that you ALWAYS start with the ears and eat down to the big ol' floppy feet.) Of course I always make sure to buy my chocolate bunny before Easter Sunday because I refuse to conduct any commerce on this Holy Day. And that applies to Christmas also.

One year (1983?) I was in New York City on Easter Sunday. It took me FOREVER to find a chocolate bunny. And when I did, the guy wanted some outrageous price for it. I paid the price. Jesus paid "THE Price", but I paid "the price".

This year I bought me a "Whacky Wabbit"...

I want to share a couple songs and a photograph with y'all today. After which we will resume our regularly scheduled programming.

Let's start with "The Queen Of Gospel", shall we? Here's Mahalia Jackson singing 'My God Is Real (Yes, God Is Real)' - and you'd better believe He is, too!


Now here's a short song that I dedicate to my brother Napoleon (Nappy) whom I love. (John Wayne! John Wayne!) There's a little "inside joke" here but only Nappy can get it:


One of the most unusual and beautiful Gospel albums I've ever heard is 'LIVING WATER: The Surfer's Mass' by The Malibooz (including Walter Egan of 'Magnet And Steel' fame). You can hear the entire inspired album at YouTube by clicking HERE.

Alright, would anybody here like to see me, D-FensDogG, when I was just a little puppy? Thanks to my dear friend Nitro Wilbury Babskiddo who photographed this old photograph for me, I am able to post it on this Easter Sunday.

You are about to see my #1 all-time favorite photograph of my family. This was taken on March 29, 1964 in front of our house at 8551 Jennrich Avenue in Westminster (Orange County), California. We're all dressed up for church on Easter Sunday. [Sadly, my parents couldn't keep up with the payments and we lost that house. It broke my Ma's heart.]

This was the first photograph ever taken of the entire family, all 5 of us - my Ma, Pa, Sister Bonehead (who was just an infant), me (looking like I've been contemplating the meaning of life and didn't like what I found), and the crowning thing that really elevates this photograph to "Classic" status is my brother... just Nappy being Nappy! (Only God remembers what Nappy was pissed about that time.)

Let me leave you with something that sincerely inspires me every time I hear it:

Listen to the voice of Greer Garson when she quotes Jesus in saying "Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God." It gives me chills every time and really makes me want to be pure in heart!


Then He took the twelve aside and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished. For He will be delivered to the Gentiles and will be mocked and insulted and spit upon. They will scourge Him and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.”

And, yes, He did! It was the greatest comeback in history!

Have a joyful Easter, all y'all!

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

Monday, March 21, 2016


STMcC’s Vote On '2016, March 15th: Battle Of The Bands'
(Or, 'Bobby "Blue" Bland Vs. Van Morrison')
 And The Final Tally:

First of all, I want to thank each and every single one of you (and, yes, YOU too!) for taking the time to listen and vote here. All y'all made this a really super Battle Of The Bands (BOTB) contest.

I'll tell you the truth: In creating this Battle (which was almost just an excuse for me to yak about my love of Mexican food), even though BOBBY "BLUE" BLAND is justifiably a legend in the annals of R&B / Soul music, I figured the greater name recognition was going to give VAN "THE MAN" MORRISON a huge advantage. But it seems everyone voted with their ears rather than by "reputation" and y'all turned this into one helluva BOTB installment. So, I thank you for that.

How close was this thang? After 10 votes were in, the Battle was tied 5 to 5. After 20 votes were in, the Battle was tied 10 to 10. At the dawn of the final day for voting, 23 votes were in and Van Morrison was holding on to a tenuous 1-vote lead. I was genuinely concerned about having another tie.

But then 3 more votes came in, Gem Julie's, Doc Cherdo's, and my own...

How did I vote? The same way Gem Julie and Doc Cherdo did. I think both recordings are top-notch. (As a side note, I'm not really absolutely crazy about the song. I like it but would grade it a "B" which for me equates to "Basically Good". There are songs I like better that I could have used for this Battle but I saw the potential here for a classic contest, an exciting dogfight between two legends.)

Truthfully, on this song I prefer Van's band and Bland's tan voice. Had this been Van's more mature, deeper, richer voice, I perhaps would have given him the nod in the "Voice" department as well. But as it was, I had divided feelings on this one. But since in most cases, for me, music trumps vocals, I ultimately sided with VAN "The Man".

Bobby "Blue" Bland = 11 votes
Van "The Man" Morrison = 15 votes

Van Morrison's voice deepened and got a great deal richer over the decades, and although I've always loved the material, I prefer the more mature voice. 'AIN'T NOTHIN' YOU CAN DO' (recorded in 1974) found his voice in that "period of transition"

You can compare the change in his vocal tone by listening to 'ASTRAL WEEKS' and 'IN THE GARDEN' back-to-back. 'Astral Weeks' is the title track of Van's incredible 1968 solo debut (one of the greatest "Solitarily-Drinking-Myself-Into-A-Mystical-Mess" albums of all time), and 'In The Garden' was released in 1986.


'AIN'T NOTHIN' YOU CAN DO' was the first track on Van Morrison's 1974 live album 'IT'S TOO LATE TO STOP NOW'

The following comes from 'The Complete Guide To The Music Of Van Morrison' by Patrick Humphries:

As far as Van live on disc is concerned, his first live set, 'It's Too Late To Stop Now', is unquestionably one of the best-ever live rock 'n' roll recordings. Van was cooking when he came to record these 18 songs. 

'It's Too Late To Stop Now' had Van fronting The Caledonia Soul Orchestra, arguably his finest ever ensemble. ... the orchestra also boasted a five person string section and a two man horn duo ... On it's original release, 'It's Too Late To Stop Now' was soon cemented as one of the great rock 'n' roll double albums ... every note you hear was recorded live - there was not one overdub.

Looking back on the album, guitarist John Platania told 'Mojo': "I would say that tour represented the height of his confidence as a performer", while bassist David Hayes recalled: "When I speak to Van about that album he still talks about it as having marked the peak of his career. He really feels he was on to something very special."

Recorded in Los Angeles at the intimate Troubadour club and the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, as well as at North London's Rainbow. [Side note: I saw my first Rock concert at the Santa Monica Civic, and I spent many nights of my youth watching bands play on the Troubadour's stage.]

In my opinion, every single song on the live album is better'n its studio counterpart, with the sole exception of 'Listen To The Lion'. My favorite track is 'I'VE BEEN WORKING'. Pretty dang funky for a White bloke from Ireland. Listen to the amazing interplay between the musicians on this, the way they come in and then drop out for another musician to take the spotlight. It's like a trade-off of white-hot funky licks... [Play it LOUD!]

'I've Been Working' - Van Morrison

Yeah, that's some ass-kicking Funk! But the whole album is loaded with great Rock, Blues, Jazzy R&B and lovely ballads. In my opinion, one of the truly essential Van "The Man" albums.

Thanks again, All, for making this such a good Battle, and I hope to see you here again on April 1st. I've got something a wee bit o' surprising lined up for ya. 

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

Tuesday, March 15, 2016


Most of this blog bit is actually being composed on Sunday, March 13th. This marks exactly one year to the day that I moved to Reno, Nevada, from Phoenix, Airheadzona. It's been a mixed bag, but mostly a massive disappointment. (Don't get me started, y'all.) 

However, there are two areas in which Reno has offered more than I anticipated. Two things I really love are 1) old buildings with vintage signs, and 2) Mexican food.
I like my food bold and spicy, which is why Mexican has always been my favorite. I'm sure I could eat it every day and never grow tired of it. I'm an Angeleno - born and raised - so I consider myself a connoisseur of excellent 'South Of The Border' food.

Surprisingly, I think, overall, Reno may have more top-notch Mexican restaurants than Phoenix has. I've found five I really like, but two are too expensive.

Believe it or not, my #1 choice can actually be found in a casino. For food quality, great atmosphere, lowest prices, and good service, you can't beat 'PANCHO & WILLIE'S CANTINA' in the Western Village casino:

But what's cooler than old buildings with old-style signs? And Reno has a plethora of 'em. (Eventually I'll do a blog bit that highlights my favorites.)
However, there's one place where my love of vintage buildings and signs and excellent Mexican food come together, and that's 'CARLILLO'S COCINA' (aka 'CARLITO'S COCINA').

It's located in a tiny, authentic 1950s diner. The place seats only 25 customers at the counter, from which you will be only a few feet away from the owner while he cooks your meal. His wife will wait on you and his Pa puts all the finishing touches on the plates - everything arranged with an eye toward color and design. I'm not kidding! The food is excellent but Carlillo's is only open for breakfast and lunch and is closed on Sundays. (I asked the owner / cook once which Mexican restaurants he liked best in Reno, outside of his own. He said that he cooks so much Mexican food during the week that he prefers to eat Pizzas and Hamburgers. Ha! I un'erstan' that.)

I found the place one day by accident. I was driving by and saw that miniature 1950s style diner, looking like it was a set for the movie 'AMERICAN GRAFFITI'. I had to park so I could get a closer look. From the street, it appeared to be out of business, but pressing my nose to a window I could see that it was truly a functioning restaurant that was merely closed for the day. I made it a point to return when it was open.

I've probably eaten there about 7 or 8 times now, and in those visits I've heard at least 4 other customers say that it was their first time and they were definitely coming back again. It does a lot of repeat business. You can read local reviews by clicking HERE One of my favorite dishes at 'CARLILLO'S' is the Chilaquiles Con Salsa Verde, but I've enjoyed everything I've tired thus far. (You gotta sneak in your own Margaritas spiked with Habanero sauce because 'Carlillo's' serves no booze, and Mexican cerveza is no bueno anyway.)

I hear ya. You're asking: "OK, but what does all this have to do with 'Battle Of The Bands', DogG?" 
Well, on one wall in 'CARLILLO'S COCINA' there's a video jukebox that sometimes plays old Rock 'N' Roll. You know, stuffs like 'Runaround Sue' by Dion And The Belmonts.
I was in there having breakfast one morning when the biggest hit song for legendary Rhythm & Blues singer Bobby "Blue" Bland, 'Ain't Nothing You Can Do', played on the jukebox. I  immediately thought that might make a good 'Battle Of The Bands' match-up with Van Morrison.
So, even if you can't dig into the food at 'CARLILLO'S COCINA' while rubbing elbows with a cool, sexy, charismatic guy like me at the counter, you can still vote on the music.


Alright, let's get on it...



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 also. (If their ‘BOTB’ blog bits aren’t posted yet, pour yourself two shots of ‘Grand Marnier’ over ice – do it twice – and then return to their blogs to vice your voice ...vote your vice ...voice your vote.) 

Voice Your Vote @ ‘FAR AWAY SERIES’ by clicking HERE.
@ ‘TOSSING IT OUT’ by clicking HERE.
@ ‘YOUR DAILY DOSE’ by clicking HERE.
@ 'MIKE'S RAMBLINGS' by clicking HERE.
@ 'CURIOUS AS A CATHY' by clicking HERE.
@ 'THE DOGLADY'S DEN' by clicking HERE.
@ 'ANGELS BARK' by clicking HERE.
@ 'J.A. SCOTT' by clicking HERE.
@ 'NOVELBREWS' by clicking HERE.
@ 'QUIET LAUGHTER' by clicking HERE
@ 'REINVINTAGED' by clicking HERE.

@ 'HOLLI'S HOOTS & HOLLERS' by clicking HERE. 

@ 'EVIL POP TART' by clicking HERE.

As I've done in the past, I will continue to return to my 'BOTB' blog bits on the 7th and 21st of each month to post my own votes and announce the winners in the comment sections. 
~ Stephen T. McCarthy 

Sunday, March 6, 2016


Well, I hope y'all made it through yesterday safe and sound. You know the saying: "Beware The Fives Of March".

[Yeah, yeah, I know. But I like my way better. Besides, what the hell is an ides? That just ain't no good English, if'n you ask me.]

Thanks to Arlee Bird of the blog 'WROTE  BY  ROTE' for making me aware of this musical challenge. It looked like fun so I thought I'd join in. (You know how I am about having fun!) I borrowed and edited Arlee's intro to suit my own needs here.

Debbie at DOGLADY'S  DEN had the following meme at her site recently. The premise is to use song titles of a favorite band or artist to answer a series of questions.  

I'm a big fan of the pre-1983 TOM  WAITS.


After his fabulous soundtrack for the movie 'ONE FROM THE HEART' he began doing weird(er) things with music just for the sake of being weird(er). You know, when your percussion becomes dry cat bones drummed against an empty Budweiser can, you begin to lose me. Sorry! 

But in my opinion, the pre-'83 Tom Waits was perhaps the finest lyricist in music history. It was my good friend General Poohregard (Pooh!!!) who introduced me to the music of Waits circa 1981. We used to like drinking at his pad while listening to Randy Newman's 'TROUBLE IN PARADISE' album and the 1976 Tom Waits album 'SMALL CHANGE'. Later, I got so into the early Waits recordings that I acquired them all on compact disc.

In this musical challenge each song title is a link to the recording at YouTube - click and dig those crazy lyrics!

             Here is my life according to Tom Waits:
My Life According to Steppenwolf, The Doglady's Den

Q and A

Are you a male or female? 
Little Boy Blue
Describe yourself:
 Bad Liver And A Broken Heart

How do you feel?:
Describe where you currently live:
 Wrong Side Of The Road

If you could go anywhere, where would you go? 
Your favorite form of transportation:
 Ol' '55
Your best friend is:
 A Sight For Sore Eyes
Your favorite color is:
 Candy Apple Red
What’s the weather like? 
 On A Foggy Night
 Favorite time of day:
 Closing Time
If your life was a TV show, what would it be called?
Up Shit Creek Again
What is life to you?
 Fumblin' With The Blues
Your relationships:
 Better Off Without A Wife
What is the best advice you have to give?
 Lie To Me, Baby
If you could change your name, you would change it to:
 Mr. Siegal
Thought for the day:
 You Can't Unring A Bell
How you would like to die:
 Drunk On The Moon
Your soul’s present condition:

Not only is Tom's second release, 'THE HEART OF SATURDAY NIGHT' (1974) my favorite of Waits' albums, but it's also one of my Top Ten favorite music albums of all time! As you can see by clicking HERE, the cover illustration was inspired by another album cover from a very famous singer.

Give this music challenge a try! It's great fun. Pick one of your own favorites and get creative wid it.

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

Be sure to pay attention to 'On A Foggy Night'. I don't want you to miss your offramp.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016


On February 26, 2016, Miss Andi of the blog [link:] 'MUSIC & WORDS' presented me with the 'Music & Words Award'. (Incidentally, she also said that I gave [link:] the best acceptance speech in the award's history.) Thank you, Andi!

Here are the rules: 

Once accepted, the award process has five steps:

  1. Link back to the person who nominated you
  2. Answer the questions with words AND music
  3. Pass the award on to 5 bloggers who inspire you with their posts about music
  4. Tag your post with #MWA, for Music&Words Award so that we can all find you down the line
  5. Quote these 5 steps and the award icon in your post. You can display the icon on your sidebar as well. 
I don't know how to do "Tags", so I had to leave that part out. But here's the rest of it...


Q1: What does music mean to you?
First, I wanted to be a famous baseball player. Then I wanted to be an actor. Then I wanted to be a professional writer. Then I wanted to drink my weight in beer each and every day. (I only sorta-kinda achieved two of those goals.) 

Finally, when I decided that what I really wanted to do the MOST was become a great musician... it was too late. I missed the boat and missed my calling, but next lifetime for sure! While I'm wating for that next lifetime, I greatly enjoy listening to the music of others. 

Music is my favorite of all the art forms. Part of the reason for that is because music is unquestionably the most Spiritual of all art forms, and I'm a Spiritual kinda guy. 

Q2: What is your first music-related memory?
The answer to that question can be found HERE. 

Q3: What was the first album you’ve purchased yourself? 
I had owned 3 music albums before I ever actually purchased one myself. The first one I ever got was the debut LP by The Monkees. It was a gift for my 8th birthday, and I loved it.

But the first time I ever spent my own money on music albums, I purchased three at the same time (circa 1975) at a Tower Records store in Westwood Village (Los Angeles). Those three were these three:

'THE  BEATLES  1962 - 1966'

Those were all on LP ("Licorice Pizza"). Today, I have none of those specific releases on compact disc, but I do have CDs by those same bands. Here's the list of what I have today:

The Beatles: "White Album"
The Beach Boys: 'Pet Sounds' -- 'Endless Summer' -- 'Sunflower' -- 'Surf's Up' -- 'Greatest Hits, Vol. 2' -- 'Greatest Hits, Vol. 3: 1970-1986' -- 'That's Why God Made The Radio'
Chicago: 'The Very Best Of Chicago: Only The Beginning'

100 points for anyone who can accurately guess which of those 3 groups I like the best.
Q4: What was the latest music you purchased? (No online streaming or free downloads, I’m talking about cash here!)
Well, technically speaking, the last music I purchased (compact discs) were gifts for friends of mine. But I believe I can safely assume this question is seeking to discover what was the last music I purchased for myself.

This was a tougher question than it might seem. You see, my music collection is in the neighborhood of 250 CDs. Everything I really, really want, I already have, so I don't buy much music for myself anymore.

But I took the Q seriously enough to start plowing through my collection and racking my brain for the most likely suspects. After a couple false stops, I actually came up with the definitive answer:

The album 'BEAUTIFUL LOSER' by Bob Seger. For me, this is the only Seger album I simply must own. Before moving to Reno last March, I was able to listen to the copy I'd given to my Brother for Christmas one year. But when I left him in Phoenix, I also left 'Beautiful Loser'. I acquired my own copy within a couple months of arriving in Reno.

The title track, [link:] 'Beautiful Loser' always reminds me of my best friend Kelly "Andy" Anderson who killed himself in 1986. The song [link:] 'Jody Girl' always makes me think of my Ma who passed away in 2005. And the song [link:] 'Momma' reminds me of the troubled relationship my Ma and Brother had when he was much younger. Any one of those songs can bring tears to my eyes if they catch me at the right moment. It's a "Must-Have" album for this sentimental fool. 

I wrote a full-length review of the album HERE which some people seem to have enjoyed reading.  

Q5: Which song did you listen to last? (No cheating, come out with the dirty pleasures!)
The last song I listened to prior to receiving this award from Miss Andi was 'My Baby Left Me But I'm Cryin' 'Cause I Sliced An Onion' by Yoey O'Dogherty And His Corn Liquor Boys.

Naw. I'm just kidding. I haven't played any Yoey O'Dogherty music in almost a month. In truth, the last song I'd played was [link:] 'Never My Love' by The 5th Dimension. (I adore 'em!) 

Here are the bloggers I'm bestowing this award upon. (Y'all can thank me by sending beer... or money. "How about tens and twenties"?)

My 'BOTB' partner-in-crime, FAE of the blog Far Away Series
DIXIE POLKA of the blog DC Relief 
GIRL WONDER of the blog Your Daily Dose
DOC CHERDO of the blog Cherdo On The Flipside 

And because I really should include someone who is NOT in the motorcycle gang Hell's Lady Friends...

JEFFY of the blog J. A. Scott  


It’s time once again for Battle Of The Bands’ (‘BOTB’).

Alright, let’s get on it...

Today's Battle song is one I really love titled 'POINCIANA'.

Wackypedia sez: "Poinciana" is a song ... written in 1936. The tune is based on a Cuban folk tune "La canción del árbol" ("The song of the tree"). The poinciana tree itself, delonix regia, is a tree introduced to Cuba from Madagascar. Glenn Miller performed it in the late 1930s with his civilian band and then again in 1943 using lush strings with his Army Air Force Band. Benny Carter and Bing Crosby both issued versions in 1944.

It was widely popularized in the 1952 film 'Dreamboat' and subsequently became a Standard covered by [many] artists ... featured again in the 1995 film 'The Bridges Of Madison County'. In 1978 disco duo Paradise Express recorded a version which made the top 20 on the disco charts.


For this BOTB installment, I'm using my all-time ever favorite band, the Glenn Miller Orchestra, against my all-time ever favorite guitarist, Danny Gatton. If you don't think this is going to be hard on me, casting a vote for only one of them, then you're sadly mistaken

First, the Glenn Miller Orchestra with that classic, lush, dreamy and ultra-romantic signature sound that it had. Miller got that signature sound by using a clarinet (initially, the phenomenal player Irving Fazola) in tandem with four saxophones, often doubling an octave above the lead.

'POINCIANA' - Glenn Miller's Army Air Force Band

And now Danny Gatton (September 4, 1945 – October 4, 1994).

Steve Vai said: "When someone uses the phrase 'the best guitar player in the world', I usually go into an exhaustive discourse on how music is art and you can't judge art and there are many different ways that people play the guitar and it's impossible to be considered the best because then you would have to master all styles and that it's all right to have favorites, etc., etc., etc., blah-blah-blah. But I feel okay in saying that Danny Gatton comes closer than anyone else to being the best guitar player that ever lived."

I concur 100% with Steve Vai on all of that.  

Remember, PLEASE, that this is all about the music, NOT the visuals. Close your eyes if you need to. But if you're sure you can watch Gatton play his guitar without letting that influence your music-only-vote, then watch this live performance, and gaze upon his fingers as they slip like sticks of melting butter flowing over the frets. He chews gum while he's playing and makes it look ridiculously effortless. Simply unreal. 
'POINCIANA' - Danny Gatton 

So, what's it gonna be? The classic, lush, romantic signature sound of Glenn Miller, or the impossible dexterity of Danny Gatton's buttery fingers?

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 also. (If their ‘BOTB’ blog bits aren’t posted yet, pour yourself two shots of ‘Grand Marnier’ over ice – do it twice – and then return to their blogs to vice your voice ...vote your vice ...voice your vote.) 

Voice Your Vote @ ‘FAR AWAY SERIES’ by clicking HERE.
@ ‘TOSSING IT OUT’ by clicking HERE.
@ ‘YOUR DAILY DOSE’ by clicking HERE.
@ 'MIKE'S RAMBLINGS' by clicking HERE.
@ 'CURIOUS AS A CATHY' by clicking HERE.
@ 'THE DOGLADY'S DEN' by clicking HERE.
@ 'ANGELS BARK' by clicking HERE.
@ 'J.A. SCOTT' by clicking HERE.
@ 'NOVELBREWS' by clicking HERE.
@ 'QUIET LAUGHTER' by clicking HERE
@ 'REINVINTAGED' by clicking HERE.
@ 'HOLLI'S HOOTS & HOLLERS' by clicking HERE. 
@ 'EVIL POP TART' by clicking HERE.

As I've done in the past, I will continue to return to my 'BOTB' blog bits on the 7th and 21st of each month to post my own votes and announce the winners in the comment sections. 

~ Stephen T. McCarthy