Wayne Hancock – High Noon Saloon 2-8-2017

Wayne “The Train” Hancock. Artist least likely to be liked by me, but, I can attest that I do.

This is the reason I saw him AGAIN. There is just something about the feel of a Wayne Hancock show. He has been described as juke joint swing and I guess that fits, but there is more too it than that. He is like a honky tonk Miles Davis, gathering talent around him and letting them shine on traded solos during the songs.

Wow, did I really write that?

Anyway, I have seen him a few times before and was stoked for this show. He was touring a new album that’s called “Slingin’ Rhythm”, which is exactly what he does. This was also a chance to visit my High Noon Saloon vinyl art that I donated to the bar.

There are no ticket stubs to show, they were will call as the only option, but I did get a flyer


the lines are in the poster itself, there is another flyer printed on the back. Not the best print, but that’s okay because I also got an actual poster from the show!


and while the first band set up, Wayne was just hanging out at the merch table so I bought his new album on vinyl, which he signed for me


and got my picture with him


I hope I don’t appear too crazed fan-boy. I was actually trying to hold my smile for the flash and gave up just before it went off. Good pic though Josh. Thanks.

I also had Josh take my picture with my vinyl art which the High Noon Saloon put in their O’Cayz Corral memorial display. Pretty nice company to keep.


Josh and I nestled up to the bar and took in the first band Pupy Costello and The New Hiram Kings. They were more country leaning than Wayne, but pretty good. The played a short but entertaining set.


Note the steel guitar. What am I doing here?? I used to positively hate steel guitar. Sigh. In recent years I have come to realize it is used in music other than old sappy drawly country music and come to accept and admire it.

Josh and I with a phone lighted we were here shot.


Then it was time for Wayne!

We made our way to stage front, the best place to see Wayne and staked a claim dead center. There were some regulars there and a small gathering of cowboy hat wearing folk off to the left.

Wayne and the band came onstage to some woo hoos but it was an unpretentious arrival and they were still setting up. I got a shot of Wayne’s road weary but cool Chuck’s. Weird I know, but it’s a cool shot.


Then all of a sudden, they were just playing. No hello I’m Wayne, just let’s start this jam.

After I stopped yelling my appreciation of the music starting I tried to get some pictures. One thing about Wayne… his hand like never stops strumming, so almost every picture I have just has a blur where his right arm should be.


That’s what happens when you’re slingin’ rhythm I guess. You go Wayne!

The band this night consisted of 2 guitarist stage left, sorry guys, bad picture…


and a stand up bass and steel guitar on the right…


with Wayne dead center. He was right in front of us.

The music is the same as always, fantastic honkey-tonk with extended jams back and forth between all the members of the band. I even loved the steel guitar. It was great. They played plenty of songs from the new album and loads of songs from previous albums. I knew almost everything and was singing along like a fool.



The crowd was loving every minute of it and there were only a few drunk fools who were yelling requests a little too boisterously. Aren’t they at every show? Sheesh. We enjoyed out spot down front.


It’s hard to describe the feel of one of these shows. There is a sense of familiarity with the music and the show is not at ear-piercing decibels and the crowd is pretty sedate normally. It’s just a good time show and great music. I hope he keeps making music for many years to come. I love these shows.


During a break, Wayne went to the back of the stage and fixed a broken string.


No roadies for this guy. No giant bus outside. He does it himself. He came back and jammed some more and I tried to get a still shot of him playing, but it was not to be.



Picture or not, the show was fantastic. He played great and did not disappoint as usual.

If you ever get a chance to see him, you have to go. He comes around every year or so and he is still recording, so you should get a chance. I have seen him multiple times and every show is better that the next.


and strum and strum and strum…

You killed it Wayne!

Come back soon.

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Sorry Trent (Not The Actual Events)

I am fully aware that artists evolve. It is a completely natural process that an artist is shaped by the styles of the time, personal experience and the state of the world around him/her.

Miles Davis comes to mind. I mean the cat played the same instrument for decades, but he has distinct eras to the sound of his music. When you play that long, it happens and most believe that if you don’t change, you stagnate.

That being said, as a listener, you can appreciate the artist style change and evolution, but, let’s admit it, you have your favorite albums and the further the artist deviates from those efforts, the less you are likely to love it.

I have noticed this from Trent Reznor for a while now.

I tend to have a penchant for liking a period of an artists work more than others. I am a completist, so I buy everything from my favorites, but sometimes I am sad about what is coming into my collection.

When Nine Inch Nails released Year Zero (2007)


and The Slip (2008)


I liked them, but in subtle ways I felt that the direction of the music was becoming less jagged and hard-edged. There was a softness creeping in.

Then came: Ghosts I-IV (2008)


This album was all instrumental and although I liked it, it was background music. There was no punch, no standout, it was good, but a sort of sound experiment. In reality it was a view of things to come as Trent and Atticus Ross would create admittedly great soundtrack music. This music was not created as Nine Inch Nails though, so it is what it is. You know going in what you are going to get.

Then came the release of Hesitation Marks (2013).


I was excited by the hype and early praise for the album and purchased my first Nine Inch Nails on vinyl.

Here is my post after listening to it:


Suffice it to say I was not blown away. It had some great moments, but in terms of order of play… I would play almost any other NIN album before this one. It was a bit of a disappointment. Sorry Trent. The album was a bit drony with less breaks and tempo changes and hardly a sharp corner to be felt throughout. Where was the angry, f you I’ll record in the Tate murder house if I want to, dark innards spilled out for all to see Trent that I used to know?!

He wasn’t on here. Maybe wishing he was and being disappointed is on me.

What followed was more soundtracks, again, fantastic work, but not Nine Inch Nails. I kind of postulated that the follow the money principal would keep Trent in soundtrack work forever more, that maybe the Nine Inch Nails brand was worn out for him.

Then came the announcement of a 5 song EP called “Not The Actual Events” (2016).


First of all, the cover is a weak simple rehash of the cover of his Still (2002) live album.


Was this his homage to the equally drab (Sorry David) “David Bowie – The Next Day” cover? Whatever it was, his first chance to wow me was lost immediately. I have become accustomed to his often “feeling over substance” style covers, often incorporating simple textures or blurred images and other artsy styles that make a statement of some sort. Not sure what he was going for here. I rallied with a hearty “don’t judge a book by its cover” admonition and played it.

The first song, “Branches/Bone” was heartening. There was a bit of the old Trent, punchy guitar and driving beat and    —-ack, it’s over. The whole song clocks in at only 1:47, so when you start grooving on it and get up and start pogoing and shaking your head, abruptly it’s over.

“Dear World” follows with softly spoken and not sung lyrics with a bit of a computer tinge. Hope you like the beat, it barely changes throughout. Come on man, just give me one scream?

“She’s Gone Away” is a great song, and luckily the longest of the EP at 6:00. This song has the same kind of spoken lyrics as “Dear World” but the music behind it is harder and more jagged. I love the vocal effect at 1:52 in. Sort of like a slow scream? This one is pretty steady and similar throughout, but the music saves it. Bravo Trent. This one would go on my mix tapes for sure.

“The Idea of You” has more spoken lyrics like the previous songs, but they are even harder to make out and the music is just a Ministry sounding backdrop for the blurry vocals. The chorus is good I will admit, but this is the kind of song that would translate to a live show great, but I think the studio treatment effects ruin what could have been a great song, and we end up with just an ok song.

Then we get to song 5… “Burning Bright (Field on Fire)”. Maybe it’s just me but this song COULD be great, but the production makes everything sound so muddy that when you get to the chorus “…break though the surface and breathe…” it is the only part you can latch on to.

Come on man, I know that voice is strong. I want to hear it!

I’m not asking for all the anger from the 80’s, you can temper it a bit, but this album, that I was hoping would be a return to form is a confusing mix of substance.


I’m gonna go listen to “Broken” and reminisce.

Sorry Trent.

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Preparing To Open Blackstar

Today would have been David Bowie’s 70th birthday. I along with the rest of the world are faced with a 3 day stretch that include both his birthday and sadly… death.

2016 took a lot of musicians with it, for me however, none was as staggering as David Bowie. In fact, it affected me in ways I really didn’t understand. I listened to side 1 of “Young Americans” over and over for a week and most oddly, was unable to open my pre-ordered copy of “Blackstar” that had been delivered.

For whatever reason, I decided to pay a bit extra and got the clear vinyl version. It was sitting there still in the box (I was waiting to do an opening video) when I heard that he had passed. I was stunned like the rest of the world. However, while the rest of the world devoured “Blackstar”… I just kept listening to “Young Americans” side 1. I could not bring myself to even open the shipping carton, let alone the album itself.

Ridiculous? Maybe… I just didn’t think the time was right.

I tried to stay away from most reviews of the album, but eventually had gleaned enough to know a bit about what I will be hearing, but I still couldn’t open it.

About 6 months later, when things had calmed a little, I was able to find a black vinyl version of “Blackstar” and ordered that. I still haven’t opened it.

Then, during a period when I was not working and my idle hands needed to create, I discovered that I could cut records into portraits of musicians as good therapy. My first creation?



It was a bit jagged but a success nonetheless. I went on to turn this into a hobby and Etsy store, but moreover, I think it helped me to get out whatever it was that was keeping me from experiencing more Bowie.

January 10th I have set aside some time to open and listen to my black vinyl version of “Blackstar” for the first time on the unfortunate anniversary of Bowie’s death. Like back in the old days of album buying, I plan to sit down, pour over the liner notes, listen along, wonder at the pictures and design, and just immerse myself in it for the duration.

I have seen pictures and videos of the inside of “Blackstar” so it will not be a complete surprise, but I’m sure there is still much to discover.

Yesterday, Joe and I stopped into Guitar Center to get him some new strings. While we were there I discovered that they sell vinyl albums.


The prices were staggering (sorry Guitar Center) but I checked out the “Nothing Has Changed” album you can see top right, and then I noticed it… you can just see it on the right side of the shot. There was a copy of Blackstar, opened and ripped, sitting there.

Bowie’s Lazarus face was showing through the star on the cover.


So cool. I love the stars too. I have made cutouts of those for my music room.


These are also cut from vinyl. My medium of choice.

Holding the album in my hand I did peek into the gatefold and saw the inside but stopped short of taking the sleeves out. It seemed like a sign that I had run into this as I prepare to open and listen to my copy.

I am fully aware that waiting a year to listen to this album was weird, and there is a faction of folks who would probably say that the buildup will ruin it, that it can’t live up to the high pedestal that I seem to be putting it on. I am prepared for anything though and no matter what the music does for me, it’s knowing that he put this album together knowing that his death was imminent that makes it such a vital experience.

Maybe I just wasn’t ready until now. Today I celebrate his birthday, in 2 days I listen to “Blackstar” to celebrate his life.

Happy Birthday David Bowie.

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The Aural Retentive At Strictly Discs

At a recent visit to Strictly Discs store in Madison to spend some of my Etsy store profits, while at the counter paying for my haul… I casually asked if they ever hosted art sales. Understandably I was told that space was limited and that wasn’t something that they really did. It was what I expected, but I left my card anyway.

I just had them made after all.


Cindy suggested the bit on the back.  Thanks Babe.


I took the records I had bought and headed home for a stint in the music room.

To my surprise, later that night I got an e-mail from Strictly Discs! They liked my work and wanted to know if I would be interested in selling them there on consignment. This was something that they really hadn’t done before, but were willing to try. I was blown away.

After a few exchanges we settled on a plan and I brought a batch into the store for them to check out. After checking them out, they held onto what I had brought in and our collaboration was begun.

They have them displayed (for those of you familiar with the store) at the top of the stairs leading to used vinyl nirvana in the lower level, including the best dollar bins in the city!



The opening batch is Beatles, Prince, Bill Evans, Blondie’s Debbie Harry, David Bowie (with Alladin Sane lightning bolt) and Jimi. They look great hanging there in formation.

So, no matter if any actually sell, I have to give Strictly Discs props for trying it. They are going out of their norm for me, and I appreciate it.

Stop in and check them out.

Or check out Strictly Discs online:  http://www.strictlydiscs.com/

Tell them The Aural Retentive sent you!


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Honor Among Thieves – Joey B. Banks Birthday Bash – High Noon Saloon – November 6 2016

To say that I was eagerly awaiting this show was an understatement.

I have never actually SEEN Honor Among Thieves despite their large presence in Madison and elsewhere throughout the years I have lived in the surrounding area. My friend Dalton did. He loved them and tried several times to get me out to see them, but work, school, kids and life in general prevented it.

I did catch them on the radio and recorded what was to become a favorite tape of mine for a long log time. It was an in studio performance by Honor Among Thieves of the United Mind Workers release on WORT. At that time I don’t think I had ever heard fiddle and guitar married so perfectly and the songs really hit me at just the right time.

Years later when seeing bands in Madison was an easier reality it seems I had missed the boat. A few years back I missed a show at the Knuckle Down Saloon by a few days. Booo!

At any rate, through some conversations with Andy the guitarist who happened to see a post I did on Honor Among Thieves I got even more of their releases. Andy signed and sent them to me. So generous and so cool. Check out my video on YouTube about the collection I have.

So… when I saw that H.A.T. was playing at the Joey B. Banks Birthday Bash (Joey is the drummer for H.A.T. among lots of other bands!) I finally had my chance to see them for the first time.


Dalton would have loved to go to this show with me! I thought about him that night. Miss you buddy.

Cindy and I went down and caught the Steely Dane set, which was good. I love Steely Dan.


13 people on stage! That might be a record. They did Showbiz Kids, Kid Charlemagne, and a few others ending with FM. Nice set guys.


Then it was changeover and H.A.T. started setting up. I have to say my fan-boy was in full effect and I had e-mailed Andy to let him know I was coming to the show and I was so excited for the band. Andy was setting up his gear and he happened to spot me and mouthed “Are you Mike?”

I came to stage front and shook Andy’s hand and said nice to meet you. Once again… super cool guy.

The set began and I was transfixed. It was as good as I had heard on all the recordings and YouTube clips and it was even better because it was LIVE and I was here seeing it.


They started with “The Show” and it was fantastic.

I was standing almost down front and tried to get some pictures when I remembered I had a camera in my hand. Love this shot.


Joey (Happy Birthday!) was of course hiding behind the kit.


Even Cindy remarked on how great the fiddle was. He was making that thing talk.


The bass was perfect, keeping time with punches and grooves.


Such a tight group. The sound was mixed right (great job High Noon) and I just don’t think it could have been a better first time experience. They also did “Technical Jelly”, “Unfinished Business”, “Story Of My Life” and ended with “Lickin’ Stick”.

dscn3868dscn3851dscn3832Andy’s guitar was wailing. He really expresses, in his face and his fingers. You can tell he is really feeling it and genuine when he plays. He played heavy and then softer, alternating with real power and a real command of the ranges he can squeeze out of that guitar. It was so fun to watch him. He even did a short Hendrix style feedback moment down in front of the amps. So cool!


Honor Among Thieves was fantastic.


Should have brought my better camera! and sorry Joey that I didn’t get more shots of you. It was YOUR birthday after all.

Give the drummer some!

Anyway, it was awesome to meet Andy finally, the band was amazing and it was a fantastic way to spend my birthday eve. That’s right, Joey and I are one day off. Though I suspect I am way older.

At the end of the set, and Dalton would have been proud, I got a set list!


It’s the little things. This will probably end up framed in my music room.

Thanks Andy and Honor Among Thieves for a great show!

Rock on!

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Heavy Charity

Had to take a picture of this…

Taco Bell/KFC in Waunakee was running a campaign to end hunger. You could donate when you purchased your meal and fill out a card to hang there in the restaurant.

As I was sitting waiting for my order I couldn’t help but notice this group of cards that were not people’s names (usual when donating) but the names of bands, and on the scale of music, towards the heavier end.


Someone had donated and filled them all out as rock bands.

System of a Down, Sepultura, Black Sabbath, Opeth, Rage Against The Machine, Cannibal Corpse… and more. I couldn’t help but smile as I looked at this display of music names.

Nice job someone.

Rock on and end hunger.


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Brandon Beebe – Lone Girl, Waunakee WI 10/23/2016

I have written many times here on the Aural Retentive about seeing Brandon Beebe. No matter what guise he is in, solo, with The Beat Chefs, or recently as Prince in the (still to be written about) Prince Tribute Show: Purple Veins, he is always entertaining and fun to watch. His live looping and smooth voice are a perfect combination.

Yesterday Cindy alerted me to a show right in Waunakee where we live at the new restaurant in town called Lone Girl.


Brandon was playing on the rooftop there and had sent word out by Facebook. He had played there twice before since it opened and this was an extra show because the weather was still so nice.

Timing was good and we took Joe and went down to Lone Girl.

Our we were here shot:


He was set up under the pergola and there was a breeze and the weather was cool and good and I have to say that the rooftop space is very nicely set up there.



Brandon played some Dylan, some Beatles and mixed in his own songs (Neon Trees and Alright) and gave his looping demo to the Bob Marley song “Waiting In Vain” (with Melodica!)


He played some Springsteen too. His style is deceptively mellow because he can really solo too. The atmosphere is not usually built for shredding, but he does it quietly in keeping with the style of the music.



If you have not had a chance to see Brandon Beebe play live, do yourself a favor and find a way. It’s a great show, a good vibe… and you will not be disappointed.

Tell him The Aural Retentive sent you!

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