When I Was Young….

Typhoid Mary @ The Cotati Cabaret – 1991

Back in 2019, the former bass player of my old band (Typhoid Mary) sent me a video of one of our performances from 1991. He had asked me if I could try to clean up the audio (I couldn’t do it very well). But what a walk down memory lane he provided.

There is a lot I don’t remember about that night. But there are things, mainly emotions, that I remember very clearly. In summary:

  • This was a transition point in my life. I believe this is the 1st performance I ever did free of any mind/mood altering substances as I “cleaned up” earlier that year. Prior to that, I had 6 years of performance experience in various states of inebriation. So who you are seeing on the right of the screen with all the dark hair and the Flying V is a confused person who hasn’t figured out that he’s wearing the proverbial “old clothes” that are beginning to not fit the person any more. I didn’t know it at the time but this was the beginning of the end of my wanting to play in a Rock band. Up to this point, I was chasing the “Rock and Roll Fantasy” of sex, drugs, and Rock and Roll. The thing is, it was a fantasy, and a painful one at that. I was pretending to be something that I wasn’t. As much as I wanted to be a cross between Jimmy Page and Keith Richards, I wasn’t. Once I started getting some clarity, I started getting honest and realized that my creative side needed to align with my insides, which were starting to change. This is the beginning of the “spiritual awakening” referred to in my bio.
  • As for the song, I can’t remember how it came about. I know this is the 1st time we played it live.
  • From right to left, the members were me on guitar, Corey Irving on vocals, Forrest Maestretti on drums, Andy Rowser on bass, and Dave Broyals on guitar.
  • A side note: A few months after this show, on December 7th, 1991, we were preparing for a big gig in San Francisco when Corey, the handsome guy in the middle, decided to skip band practice. This INFURIATED me! Forrest and I went searching for him. We found him drunk at a local club (which pissed me off even more). BUT, I did meet a beautiful woman that night, the future Mrs. Imberg. 30+ years later, I’m still happily married to that beautiful women I met that night. So, in a strange way, I have Typhoid Mary and, specifically, Corey Irving to thank for me meeting the love of my life.

Funny how life works….

Steve Von Till

Steve Von Till @Rumba Cafe in Columbus, OH 6-July 2022

I got to see Steve Von Till, best known as the guitarist and vocalist for Neurosis, do a performance of his solo music in a very intimate setting. It was wonderful! He was accompanied by some fantastic musicians including the celloist Helen Money who also opened the show. I summarize the vibe with the words “ethereal”, “organic”, “haunting” and “beautiful”. The music demanded a reverence and emotional engagement from the audience.

I’m very grateful to have been there, especially as I have missed two opportunities to see Neurosis, the last miss was due to my fathers failing health in 2019. I was determined not to miss this opportunity to see Mr. Von Till display his more contemplative side and he did not disappoint.

If you are unfamiliar with Steve Von Till or Neurosis, please check out https://www.neurotrecordings.com/, the record company he co-operates. There, you can learn all about Neurosis, Steve Von Till, Scott Kelly (the other guitarist/vocalist from Neurosis), and a variety of cool artist.

My Tribute to Vangelis

Vangelis in his Nemo Studio circa early 1980’s

Evángelos Odysséas Papathanassíou, better known as Vangelis, passed away in Paris on May 17th, 2022 at the age of 79. To much of the world, his name is unknown. His music has been heard by millions, likely without the listener knowing the name of the artist, via movie soundtracks, TV commercial, or some parody of his most successful composition, the Oscar-winning soundtrack to “Chariots of Fire”. Even amongst his legions of fans, not a whole lot is known about him outside of his musical output (even, in some quarters, the proper pronunciation of his name). He was a private man who, likely unintentionally, created a mystique. He was also a brilliant musician who, along with the likes of Klaus Schulze (also passed away this year), Tangerine Dream, and Jean Michel Jarre, innovated the use of synthesizers that paved the way for a myriad of genres, styles, and techniques, affected both popular music and film soundtracks. It is fair to say that popular music would have evolved much differently without Vangelis. It is a certainty that my own life would have evolved much differently without Vangelis. This is my tribute to him.

When I was 10 years old, I was introduced to two albums that sent my interest in music into overdrive. The 1st was “Alive” by Kiss which spawned a life-long love with Rock and Roll. The other album was Vangelis’ “Heaven and Hell”. On the face of it, these albums seem completely contradictory to each other in style (and they are through the prism of genre, image, and marketing). And how I came about the albums were complete different as well. I discovered Kiss on my own via the packaging of the album and thinking “what are these guys all about?”. With Vangelis, that was my Dad playing that album on his car cassette deck repeatedly. I remember thinking how majestic and cinematic the music was. I loved it from the moment I first heard it.

Through my teen years, my taste in music expanded. My love for Rock took me to heavier genres. But my equal love for ethereal elements that I 1st found in Vangelis led me to the likes of Eno, Tangerine Dream, and Kitaro. But Vangelis was always at the forefront of my taste in what I perceived to be “that” branch of my musical taste (I now make no differentiation between genre and such. Music is like flavors for the ears and heart). I bought every Vangelis album from his debut through his mid-80’s output. I also went so far as to see movies that I probably would never have seen just because Vangelis did the soundtrack work. “Chariots of Fire”, “The Bounty”, “Missing” and such. His soundtrack work was remarkable and such an influence on me. The ultimate soundtrack he did, in my opinion, is “Blade Runner” in 1982. The movie is my all-time favorite movie because it is a phenomenal story but it is also the perfect match of cinematic visual grandeur and equally grand music. I will go as far as to say this is the greatest marriage of music, visuals, and story in all of movie history.

As a musician, an aspect of Vangelis’s work that inspired me was his staunch independence. He invested in his own studio in the mid-70’s when it was truly an investment. He wrote, produced, and performed his own music with little help from others. The collaborations he did have were usually with vocalist like Jon Anderson from Yes. His independence showed that one could create without compromise. I took his example as permission to try to do the same in my own creative efforts.

There are so many memories I have where Vangelis’ music was the soundtrack of…long road trips in the desert with “The City” playing on the stereo….romantic nights with my wife with “Opera Sauvage” on the turntable….countless viewing of every cut of “Blade Runner”, studying the music cues in detail….those formative days in the back of my Dad’s car listening to “Heaven and Hell” while we drove along the California coast. There are countless more memories with Vangelis’ music as the soundtrack.

While Vangelis and Kiss were my initial introduction to music, I have long lost interest in Kiss. Vangelis, however, has been a constant throughout my life. As such, I can say that his music has been a factor in my life longer than any other artist. It has truly been a lifelong love affair between me and his music. I will miss him.

Thank you Vangelis for a lifetime of joy.

Current Affairs….and what I’m NOT doing….

Back in February, my wife and I decided to discontinue our TV service which was a typical deal where we had several hundred channels of content but only a dozen that we would watch sparingly. As is typical of the demographic I represent, a few of those channels were news stations. I must say that of all the stations I thought I would miss, the cable news stations were the ones I’d miss the most….or so I thought….

Now a few months sans TV (albeit we are streaming movies and such), I must say I don’t miss cable news a bit. I’m not going to go on a political rant about the bias and ills of corporate news media (for the record, I avoid FOX News like the plague but am always suspicious of CNN and MSNBC). That said, I do believe its good to stay informed but I have found it not so good to become obsessed with news stories that the networks hype up to keep an audience transfixed for hours and hours.

I say all this to share that I’ve felt a bit more level headed when it comes to keeping up with current affairs. I subscribe to a national news paper and a local one. I avoid social media news feeds and, as I’ve always done, treat all information with a level of discernment. I don’t believe in an unbiased news outlet. Any human endeavor will have some bias. I try to think critically and, most importantly, keep the emotions in check, living by the principles found in The Serenity Prayer (i.e. know what I can and can’t control and don’t confuse the two). If I can’t control matters, why get worked up? Now, if I’m watching cable news with their endless parade of talking heads and opinions, how could I NOT get worked up? But, having removed that element from my life, I’m required to be more proactive in getting my information and more discerning about how I respond to that information.

Leo Kottke

I saw Leo Kottke perform at the Ludlow Garage in Cincinnati this past Thursday. It was an excellent show. Some 50+ years into his career, he continues to perform at an inspiring level with ample doses of humor and self deprecation. This guy is a treasure. His music should be savored and enjoyed.

Klaus Schulze

Today, Klaus Schulze passed away. Yet another pivotal musician has transitioned to the next stage.

Mr. Schulze was a pioneer in electronic music, playing briefly in Tangerine Dream and Ash Ra Tempel before becoming a very prolific solo artist who released a wealth of instrumental synthesizer music. His masterpiece, “Timewind”, was a touchstone for so many musicians and remains my favorite of his works. I also love the more recent collaborations he did with Lisa Gerrard.

Klaus Schulze joins a growing list of musicians who have passed that were key elements to the soundtrack of my life, reminding me of the brevity of life. I am very grateful for the musical legacy and inspiration.

Current listening and what’s going on in the studio

Been looping and creating thick walls of lushness to vamp over….not sure where this is going but it feels good.

I’ve been listening to lots of the following. I share this because….why not….

  • The Beatles: Primarily “Revolver”, “Rubber Soul”, “Abbey Road”, and “Let It Be”. This is a direct result of watching the “Get Back” documentary on Disney+ this past November/December. I’m good for going down a Beatles “rabbit hole” every few years but that documentary kept me in the hole for several months. I love the Beatles and have since I was a kid. They are and will always be the apex of Rock and Roll creativity. The minute someone says that The Beatles are overrated, I tune out…no way! Led Zeppelin will always be my favorite band but The Beatles were generational game changers.
  • George Harrison – “All Things Must Pass”: See above. This is my favorite post-Beatles solo album by any of the former Fab Four.
  • Brandi Carlile – “By The Way, I Forgive You”: My stepbrother has been a huge fan of hers for sometime so I gave her a listen and…WOW!. What a voice….what great songs…I love her!
  • Majid Bekkas – “African Gnaoua Blues”: A Moroccan multi-instrumentalist who melds North African music with American blues brilliantly.