.
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 of the same song and vote for the one you like best. A new Battle gets posted on the 1st and 15th of each month and six days later, on the 7th and 21st, 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.]

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

BOTB RESULTS: 2018, FEB. 15 (Or, VAN MORRISON VS. SLAVIN' DAVID & LOOSE GRAVEL)

.
.
First, I thank each one of you who took the time to listen 'n' bote on my most recent installment of 'Battle Of The Bands' (BOTB). This one was a part of my 'Battle For Los Angeles' series (subcategory: 'The Battle For Dogtown') and it featured songs and artists with a connection to Venice Beach -- a part of "Dogtown".
.
CUTEST DOG EVER, POSING IN "DOGTOWN"
.
Some of you may remember that in my previous Battle of 2/1/2018, featuring Danny Gatton, I wrote this: Circa 1994, Larry, a friend and co-worker of mine -- who also happened to be a guitarist in a local Blues band -- gave me a cassette tape he'd recorded for me. It was titled LITTLE GUITAR DITTIES: "Lelly's Favorites". "Lelly" was a pet name we had given to him at work. [Remember this -- you'll need it later!]
.
Well, it's now "later": Larry Rosen (LarryR), a member of the band Slavin' David & Loose Gravel, who wrote the song 'Walking Down The Right Path', which did battle against Van Morrison's 'Venice, U.S.A.' here, is also the aforementioned "Lelly" who made me aware of Danny Gatton all those years ago! And not only is my friend and former co-worker, Larry one of the "Loose Gravels", but another friend and co-worker, Lonnie Millsap, actually designed the album cover for 'Rock And Roll Road':
.
.
This Battle wasn't much of a battle. In fact, for Van Morrison, it was almost an exact dose of negative karma: In my 10/15/2017 BOTB installment, the song was 'Good Morning, Little School Girl', and Van The Man clobbered Taj Mahal 12-4. In this "contest", Slavin' David & Loose Gravel clobbered Van Morrison 13-4. As you do unto others, it shall be done unto you.
.
My vote also went to David & Gravel. I like Van's 'Venice U.S.A.' well enough as a rather vague but upbeat "mood piece", such as Van sometimes likes to do, but I much preferred the Spiritual message and loose, gravelly guitar work provided by my buddy LarryR in 'Walking Down The Right Path'. 
.
A few voters commented that they felt Van's song was a bit too long. I concur, and so did Patrick Humphries:
.
'The Omnibus Press Guide To The Music Of Van Morrison' by Patrick Humphries (1997): It is when Van gets riffing that 'Wavelength' kicks up a gear. As a straightforward story, 'Venice USA' wouldn't detain the casual listener long, but Van manages to infuse it with genuine buoyancy, even if it does eventually overstay its welcome by a couple minutes. The melody combined with Van's scat singing help the song gain momentum...
.
That pretty well nails 'Venice, U.S.A.'. It really is one of the most "buoyant" songs I've ever heard, but also drags on a bit too long.


.
4 1/2 years of BOTB has taught me that trying to create a competitive Battle is much closer to a hit or miss art form than it is a science. There are a number of possibilities to consider and evaluate, and not-always-easy decisions that a BOTBer must make.
.
Usually, I try to keep a very even BOTB playing field, but sometimes I'll agonize over angles and nuance. For example: In this Battle, I figured that due to his worldwide fame, Van Morrison would have a subconscious advantage over the mostly unknown Slavin' David. The video I really WANTED to use for 'Venice, U.S.A.' made the song seem even more buoyant and likeable, and diminished the sense that it was overlong. And I felt that Van probably already had too much of an upper hand right from the get-go.
.
Unless specifically asked to do so, voters are expected NOT to let the images in a video influence how they vote on the music. But I think it probably occurs sometimes regardless, due to human nature. So, rather than risk giving Van a double-advantage in the Battle, I decided to use a video for him that matched the static image video I was using for Slavin' David.
.
But now with 20/20 hindsight, seeing how badly Van got slaughtered, I find I'm second-guessing myself and thinking this might have been a much more competitive BOTB installment had I used the video for 'Venice, U.S.A.' that I really like.
.
If you can, watch the following video, listen to Van's song again, and tell me if you think your vote for Slavin' David & Loose Gravel might have gone to Van The Man had I used the following video instead of the one I did. I definitely think that 'Venice, U.S.A.' works better as a soundtrack for appropriately themed images than it does as a stand-alone song.
.
And, for those of you who perhaps have never experienced Venice Beach, California, this video gives you a terrific idea of what a typical Summer day there looks like. It will also give you glimpses of the turbaned guitar player, Harry Perry, and the Sidewalk Café & Bar, which I specifically mentioned on the Battle page HERE.
.
VENICE, U.S.A. --- Van Morrison
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibEImDrlj18

.
I thank you all again for indulging me with your patience, time and votes (or "botes", as Julio sez). Because February is such a short month, I will be returning here with a NEW BOTB installment in just 8 days from today. I don't know yet which song I'll be using, but I've got a list 8 miles long to choose from.
.
~ Stephen T. McCarthy
.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

2018, FEB. 15: BATTLE OF THE BANDS (Or, VAN MORRISON VERSUS SLAVIN' DAVID & LOOSE GRAVEL)

.
Yes, it's time once again for . . . 
.
'BATTLE OF THE BANDS' ('BOTB').
.
Only this time it's . . . 
.
.
Alright, let's get on it. Let's get ON this thing!...
.
"DOGTOWN" is an area in Los Angeles that comprises the Southern portion of Santa Monica and the Northern parts of Venice, including Venice Beach. "Dogtown" has often been referred to as 'The Birthplace Of Extreme Sports' because it was the epicenter of the "radical" skateboarding explosion which began there in the mid-1970s.
.
Two movies have been made about Dogtown and the skateboarding craze that it gave birth to. The first movie was a documentary and the second one starred Heath "The Joker" Ledger:
.
.

.

.
Dogtown also happens to be where I grew up, from 5th grade (1970) through high school and beyond. My family lived in South Santa Monica, so close to the border of Venice (exactly 11 houses away) that my brother, Nappy, once played for a North Venice Little League team (which came in first place)...
.
NAPPY (STANDING) 4th PERSON FROM THE RIGHT
.
Growing up a mere 17 blocks from Santa Monica Beach / Venice Beach, to say that I spent some time there would be a massive understatement. Before it gave birth to Extreme Sports, Dogtown gave birth to a famous Rock band you may have heard of called THE DOORS.
.
THE DOORS ON VENICE BEACH
.
THE DOORS AT THE VENICE CANALS
.
JIM MORRISON MURAL AT VENICE BEACH
.
In the 1970s, when I was living nearby, Venice Beach was sometimes called "Where The Debris Meets The Sea". Today, it is said to be L.A.'s second most popular tourist destination, after Disneyland. Dogtown no longer looks like a ghetto (er-- uhm... well... for the most part), and the rents and home prices are astronomical.
.
THE VENICE CANALS TODAY
.
NO, YOU CAN'T AFFORD TO LIVE HERE NOW
.
Today's 'Battle Of The Bands' installment -- part of my 'Battle For Los Angeles' series -- features two artists who have a personal history with Dogtown and have written songs which mention or allude to it.
.
The first competitor really needs no introduction. According to an old source, VAN MORRISON once lived in Venice, California, for awhile. Included on his 1978 album 'Wavelength' was a song he wrote about the place titled 'VENICE, U.S.A.' Give it a listen and see what ya think...
.
VENICE, U.S.A. -- Van Morrison
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-HZen4vjBI

.
.
This Battle's second competitor probably DOES need an introduction. Unless you've spent time in Dogtown, chances are you're not familiar with SLAVIN' DAVID & LOOSE GRAVEL...
.
Undoubtedly, the most recognizable of the street musicians from Venice Beach is the turbaned, roller-skating, electric guitar-playing Harry Perry:
.
HARRY PERRY AT VENICE BEACH
.
But another Venice Beach busker who made a name for himself locally was Slavin' David (Breitman). His song 'Flim Flam' was the 15th track on the compact disc 'Spirit Of Venice, California', a compilation album of the best known Venice musicians:
.
.
.
In 2011, Slavin' David and his band, Loose Gravel, released the album 'Rock And Roll Road'. One of the songs on the collection, 'WALKING DOWN THE RIGHT PATH', was written by Loose Gravel guitarist Larry Rosen (aka LarryR), and he has described it as "a song about spiritual growth".
.
Like the lead vocalist, Slavin' David, the guitarist and songwriter LarryR has a long personal history with Dogtown. He used to live on Venice Boulevard and one October morning in 1980, he found himself at Venice Beach's legendary Sidewalk Café & Bar nursing some "hair of the dog" that had bitten him the night before. Sitting with him was a woman of... shall we say, "dubious character".
.
SIDEWALK CAFE & BAR, VENICE BEACH BOARDWALK
. 
In his song 'Walking Down The Right Path', LarryR penned the line "then just when the end seems near, a light comes shining through". He has said that it was on that 1980 October morning at the Sidewalk Café & Bar on the Venice Beach boardwalk when he experienced his "first moment of clarity... the lightbulb going on". Right then and there he decided to quit drinking and recently celebrated 37 years of sobriety.
.
Therefore, LarryR's song, 'Walking Down The Right Path', has a lot of real-life, first-hand Dogtown experience behind it:
.
WALKING DOWN THE RIGHT PATH -- Slavin' David & Loose Gravel
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lpQam-IhGGw

.

PHOTO BY STEPHEN T. McCARTHY
.
Question: Will Van Morrison lose to Slavin' David & Loose Gravel?
 MAGIC 8-BALL sez:  "Very Doubtful"
.
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.

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.  

Vote your vice... Vice your voice...

Voice Your Vote...

.
@ ‘TOSSING IT OUT’ by clicking HERE.
'MIKE'S RAMBLINGS' by clicking HERE.
@ 'CURIOUS AS A CATHY' by clicking HERE.
@ 'THE SOUND OF ONE HAND TYPING' by clicking HERE
@ 'JINGLE JANGLE JUNGLE' by clicking HERE.
@ 'ANGELS BARK' by clicking HERE.
@ 'CHERDO ON THE FLIPSIDE' by clicking HERE.
@ 'RIGHTING & EDITING' by clicking HERE.
@ 'THE DOGLADY'S DEN' 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
.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

BOTB RESULTS: 2018, FEB. 1 (Or, DANNY GATTON VERSUS DANNY GATTON)

.
.
STMcC’s Vote On '2018, February 1st: Battle Of The Bands (Or, Danny Gatton '75 Versus Danny Gatton '93) And The Final Tally:
.
It was a lower'n usual turnout, so I DOUBLE THANK each of you who took the time to listen, evaluate, and vote. Y'all are good peoples!! (But then again, I have no idea what you do at home alone in the dark with other peoples. And, NO, don't tell me. I don't wanna know!)
.
Well, this BOTB was Danny Gatton and his 1975 band going up against Danny Gatton and his 1993 band -- both of them doing 'Harlem Nocturne'. There was phenomenal playing in both recordings. The first one featured extended electric organ and tenor saxophone solos, while the second focused primarily on Gatton's guitar which was doing somersaults, backflips, handstands, Kung Fu, and opening up cans of beer and tennis balls during the slower portions. All in all, probably the most impressive electric guitar fretboard work I've ever heard.
.
The reason I assembled this particular Battle is because I want to use one of Gatton's recordings of 'Harlem Nocturne' in a future contest against another "Nocturne" by another artist, but I honestly couldn't decide which of Gatton's recordings to use. So, I decided to leave that up to y'all. The voting was very close. 

.
If someone asked me to name the greatest guitar workout I've heard, I'd probably have to say "Danny Gatton's 1993 Harlem Nocturne". However, my all-time favorite musical instrument is the electric organ, and my second favorite is the tenor saxophone. The electric guitar comes in third. And for those reasons only, my own vote actually landed on Gatton's '75 recording, despite the mind-blowingness of the '93 rendition.
.
Danny Gatton 'Harlem Nocturne' 1975 = 6 votes
.
Danny Gatton 'Harlem Nocturne' 1993 = 9 votes
.
And the Magic 8-Ball got it right again! The Ball is on a roll. Har!-Har!
.
So... you will all be hearing Danny Gatton's 1993 recording of 'Harlem Nocturne' again in a future Battle Of The Bands contest. But my next BOTB installment, on February 15th, will be another in my "Battle For Los Angeles" series. However, this next time it will actually be about a very specific area in L.A. known as "Dogtown" (which also happens to be the area in which I grew up). So please be sure to contribute your $0.02 in my next Battle. Don't disrespect my hometown by ignoring it!
[;^)}
.
.
For those who'd like to hear a little more Danny "The Humbler" Gatton wizardry on the guitar, until next time, I'll leave you with this straightforward rip-roaring Rocker:
.
FUNHOUSE -- Danny Gatton
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=278k2u46IM8

.
~ Stephen T. McCarthy
.