Monday, October 31, 2011

Brothers here and now.

I'm a proud subscriber to Steve Dahl's podcast.  I became a fan of Steve when he was on WLS-FM in the early 1980's; My family moved to the Chicagoland area in 1981, and I discovered Steve and Garry in 1982 when I spent my summer behind a large lawn mower.  When I transferred to Western Illinois University in the Fall of 1984, one of the bonding points I shared with Artist James was our mutual admiration of the Stever.

A few years later, we went to see Steve and Garry at a live show, somehow scoring 2nd row seats.  Right in front of us, Steve's younger brother, Rick Dahl, sat and drunkingly heckled Steve throughout the entire show.  Steve probably didn't mind, as he was drunk, too.  I could have been.

Steve later conquered the majority of his addictive demons, becoming sober in 1995, and in the past year, got a handle on his food addiction, dropping over 65 pounds and is happy to be maintaining  a sub 250 weight.  He had a huge CBS contract, which paid him until July of this year, even after they took him off the radio 3 years ago.  Instead of finding work back in Chicago radio (which has fallen terribly since the late '80's to late '90's Golden Age), he has decided to subscribe his daily podcast - about 2 hours a day of distilled Steve commercials, no breaks, just enjoyable banter.

Steve's brother, Rick, passed away last week at the age of 52.  Steve has flown out to LA, where Rick had been living with their father for the past several years.  As Steve described it, he and Rick shared many of the same demons, but Rick was unable to conquer his.  Steve's widowed father had been Rick's caretaker for many years, and now he and Steve are trying to clean up loose ends and figure out the future.  While they were not exactly estranged, they lived different lives, especially since Steve cleaned up his act and became an almost normal husband, father, and now grandfather.

This news provides another sign to me, that perhaps I should reach out to my estranged brother.  I spent many years reaching out to him, trying to find him a job, trying to provide some sort of example of a normal, responsible life.  He has two children from a now-failed marriage, his ex-wife and kids live in Ohio (I think), and my brother lives in the suburbs in an apartment near the painting company where he works.  He has lost his driver's license due to repeated DUI's, and with all his outstanding debts, I have no idea how he survives financially.  He has misbehaved to the point where I can no longer get him a job, and I haven't seen him in five years, since we moved my father to Illinois from Indiana.

My brother worked hard to earn my ire.  I won't detail his transgressions, but he let me (and my father) down when we really needed him to be an adult.  I'd like to forgive him and move on, but I'd also like to punch him in the nose.  Of course, I'm sure my heart will melt when I finally do see him...probably at my dad's funeral (whenever that will be).

Forgivness is the hallmark of my faith.  I have forgiven a woman who almost killed my son while driving drunk.   I'm sure I can forgive my brother, as well.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

It was 20 years ago this year....

In 1984-85, my friend and songwriting partner, James Plakovic (Artist James) wrote a number of songs, hoping to become working composers and lead lives of exciting dissapation whilst collecting huge royalty checks.

Although the dissaption part may be a reality, we're still waiting on the checks.

One of the songs we wrote, "In Your Arms" was one of those mid-1980's power ballads in the realm of The Scorpions, Def Lepard and Motley Crue.  We toyed with it for quite a while, performing it with just bass and guitar, trying to capture just the right feeling, if not the right sound.

Prior to his wedding in 1991, James found a way to get us into a studio to record a couple of songs.  Our good friend, Kurt Kvandal, could play the drums, and he was in town for the wedding anyway, so he rounded out our little power trio.  We recorded "When Will We All See The Light", an homage to Peace and Love and all things Meher Baba, as well as "In Your Arms".

I'm sure that Kurt had heard us perform these songs in one form or another, but had never played them.  I don't remember which song we recorded first, but I do remember (trying to act like some kind of record producer/arrangee) telling him that "In Your Arms" was "an homage to Def Lepard".  He knew exactly what I wanted, and we proceeded to record this song.

Our first pass was drums, bass, and rhythm guitar, and I don't think we had to do too many takes to get this down.  I added at least one lead guitar (if you could call it lead guitar) track, a lead vocal and probably one backing vocal.

James was the Executive Producer and Mix consultant for the final version.

A few weeks ago, this song popped up on my iPod mix (while I was texting James about something else), and I decided on the spot to post this song on Facebook using their video posting capability.  For the visual portion, I scanned a bunch of photos from our vast and storied past, and also threw in some "after" photos, if only to prove that we turned out okay.  I found some photos of The Who from the period that inspired us most, as well as an older Peter Townsend.  He in no way endorses this song.

We had a buddy who wanted to be in our "band", and he is featured in some of the early photos.  Don't know what happened to Ralph "Lou" Mahkovec, but we're thinking fond thoughts of him today.

Yes, that is Pat Foley, famed Chicago Blackhawks announcer, who was kind enough to stand next to an overserved young man for a 'photo opportunity' before a game in the early 1990's ("Hey Pat, a photo opportunity" was exactly what I shouted at him).

Big glasses and bad facial hair.  Pretty wives who loved us back then (and now, too). 

James is now "An Artist", published, displayed, and galleried.  He has a daughter whom he adores and an amazing wife.

Kurt won a life and death battle with a construction site nail, and has three lovely grown-up daughters to go with his lovely wife.

I continue to live by my wits, with a wonderful daughter and son, and a wife who seems to put up with me.  I look all mature and grown-up on the outside, but we all know better, don't we?