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Saturday, April 30, 2016

A to Z Challenge - 2016

We made it to the end of the A to Z Challenge! I am so excited that I actually completed one whole challenge.  I think having the Sunday's off made it a lot easier because I could use those days to catch up on reading other participant's blogs and write some of my own if I needed to.  It also helped to pick a theme I was comfortable with and have the ideas for each letter picked out in advance (at least most of them).  I want to thank all the kind people who stopped by during the challenge and left me comments.  It definitely kept me going knowing that there might actually be someone reading what I was scribbling about.

So, Z is for...


Dusty Hill (bass guitar) Billy Gibbons (guitar and lead vocals) and Frank Beard (drums) have been together for more than 45 years!  They started as a group in 1969 and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.

Interesting that Dusty and Billy are well known for their beards and yet Frank Beard only sports a mustache at the most.

We saw them at Shoreline in 2010.  There were three groups playing that day.  The opening act was .38 Special and we felt that they should have been the second group because there was hardly anyone in the stands that early and we felt it affected their performance.  Plus, the group they had playing second was some kind of heavy metal band.  I don't even remember the name and we didn't even stay to watch them but roamed around the grounds until it was time for ZZ Top.

ZZ puts on a great show and they do a bit of synchronized playing which is pretty neat.  

They used the screen behind them very effectively and showed clips of some of their videos from the MTV era...

Jimi Hendrix

 and played tribute to Jimi Hendrix, who they said was a great influence on them.

 When it was time for Sharp Dressed Men, they put on jackets with tons of sequins that lit up.  Their microphone poles changed colors as well.  

Eliminator is my favorite album of theirs as it has the songs Sharp Dressed Man, Legs and Gimme All Your Lovin.

They will be performing at the Mountain Winery this year but we did not get tickets to see them, although they were on the short list.  They were a bit more expensive than we wanted to pay.  I did just read, while doing some background for this, that Billy Gibbons broke his shoulder earlier this month going up the stairs to one of their shows so they have had to cancel some performances until he recovers.  I hope it is soon!

And there you have it!!! I actually made it to the end of the challenge in one piece!  Again, thanks to the organizers for giving us all the opportunity to share our blogs and for encouraging us along the way.  Thank you most to those of you who have stopped by on occasion to leave a message and I definitely have found some new blogs to follow by visiting yours.  I already have an idea for the next A to Z so I will be back next year!!!

Friday, April 29, 2016

A to Z Challenge - 2016

Down to two days in the A to Z Challenge!

And "Y" is for...Yodel

Yodeling is the rapid changing of high pitches and low pitches and came from European countries like Austria and Switzerland.  The Sound of Music has a yodeling song in it as you would expect.

The cowboys could yodel as well.  Roy Rogers and Gene Autry were known to yodel.  There is no yodeling in the Cowboy Jack song, though.

The Lion King also contains a yodeling song.  I'm pretty sure everyone has heard this one, but to tie the beginning of my abecedarium to the end, here is an a cappella version of the yodeling song, The Lion Sleeps Tonight performed by Straight With No Chaser:

One more day.  Anyone want to make a guess what "Z" is for?  See you tomorrow for the last day of the challenge!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

A to Z Challenge - 2016

Three more days for the A to Z Challenge.  I think these are the three hardest ones!

X is for Xylorimba!

A Xylorimba is not really a cross between a Xylophone and a Marimba as you might think.  I knew what a Xylophone was.  I think every child has had one of those at one time or another.  I certainly remember playing with one.  It looked like this:

I think I learned how to play the "Do, Re, Me" song but that's about it.

I had not ever heard of a Marimba, however.  It looks like this:

Obviously it has more keys and a different range of notes than just a xylophone.

The xylorimba looks like this:

A xylophone on steroids if you ask me.  I could try to explain the differences and similarities between them, but frankly, I don't have enough musical background to do it properly and if you are really interested, you can Google them and check out the couple of songs on YouTube like I did. 

It is, after all, getting to the end of the challenge and I am running out of time and ideas.  My real job has kept me very busy the past week and I am stretching it to get these done on time.  I'm giving myself a pat on the back for finding xylorimba instead of just using xylophone!

Two more, Y and Z.  Stay tuned! 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A to Z Challenge - 2016

We are really getting down to the wire here in the A to Z Challenge!  Just a few days left.  I am pretty proud of myself to have made it so far.  Hope you have been able to come along too.

Today, W is for Woodstock.

According to Wiki, it was called the Woodstock Music and Art Fair.  Interestingly, I don't hear much about the art fair part.  Three days of peace and music (which actually extended into a fourth day), August 15, 16 and 17, 1969.  The article gives the history of how it came to be and the list of performers and what they were paid.  

Poster of the logo designed by Arnold Skolnick

I had just graduated from grammar school and was definitely not aware of this huge affair that was happening in New York, the other side of the country!  I liked listening to music on the radio but had never been to a concert so I didn't feel the pull.  Rolling Stone has listed it as one of the 50 Moments that changed music history.  Wow.  32 acts and 400,000 people.  Wow again.

Even given that I have now turned into a concert addict (yes, I'll admit that), I don't think I would try to attend something of that magnitude.  Three days in the mud, lots of people, and probably no way for me to get close enough to see anything just does not sound appealing.   I'll wait and see the movie...yes, there is a Woodstock movie.  There is a three day event in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park called Outside Lands and while that is practically in my backyard, I don't even think of going.  While I believe in peace and love, I guess the part of being a free spirited hippie escaped me.  I need my creature comforts:  bathroom, shower, clean clothes.      

I did find one other interesting fact while I was looking up this subject, Charles Schultz named his bird, Woodstock, after this concert.  Did you know that?

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A to Z Challenge - 2016

V is for Venue

We are very fortunate to live in an area with quite a few different venues at which to see our favorite performers.

A bit to the northeast of us is Concord Pavillion.  We have only gone to a few concerts there since we have to drive and it can take an hour or more to get there.  It was, however, the venue at which that first concert was when I won the tickets.  That story is here under R for Radio.  As is usual with venues these days, Sleep Train bought naming rights so they sometimes call it Sleep Train Arena.

Just across the San Francisco Bay is Oracle Arena, home of the Warriors basketball team.  We live close enough to the BART terminal so that we can hop on a BART train and leave the driving to them.  It is just a short walk from the station to the Arena and by doing that we don't have to pay for parking or deal with the stress of traffic crossing the bridge.  A most exciting thing happened there when we met Journey guitarist Ross Valory while we were seeing Bob Seger.  He was in the Club area and he very graciously came over and talked to us and took a few pictures with my husband and I.  He even gave me his autograph.  What a thrill.  We have tickets to see the Who there next month.  That is the start of our season.

We also live close to the train station and we can hop on the train and get to AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants.  We have seen the Giants many times and have been to concerts there to see Sir Paul McCartney and most recently ACDC.  We were on the field for that concert and my husband was able to grab a handful of the outfield dirt where his favorite Giant, Hunter Pence, plays!  We will be seeing the San Francisco Fest there later this year with Journey, Santana and the Doobie Brothers, reminiscent of the old Day on the Green type concerts.  


In Hunter Pence territory

To the south of us are three more venues.  The first is Shoreline Amphitheater.  We have seen quite a few concerts there.  It has a large canopy like a circus tent under which are most of the seats, but they also have a lawn area where you can sit and have a picnic.  I prefer the closer seats.  We saw Heart there one year and just as they started to sing the song Reign O're Me, a Who cover, it started to rain!  It was magical.  This year we are seeing Def Leppard and REO Speedwagon there.

Rain falling during Reign O're Me

Next is SAP Center, home of the San Jose Sharks hockey team.  We have seen lots of shows there as well.  We will be seeing Sting and Peter Gabriel there for the Rock, Paper Scissors tour.  We've never seen either of them so it should be great!

Last but certainly not least is the Mountain Winery in Saratoga.  We first went to the Winery in 2007 and the next year they did a remodel of the concert area.  Since then we have seen two or three shows a year there at least and last year it was four, giving us the "Loyalty Club" benefits this year.  We managed to get front row seats last year to see Pat Benatar and my husband was able to bump fists with Neil Giraldo.  That was a real neat experience for him.  I tried to take a picture but he was standing right in front of me.  This year we will be seeing them again along with shows by Boston, Foreigner and Peter Frampton.

Fist bump with Neil Giraldo

And those are just the bigger venues.  We are also close to San Francisco and have gone to Cobb's Comedy Club to see Ben Bailey (The Cash Cab guy) and Roseanne Barr; to the Curran Theater to see Jersey Boys; the Orpheum to see Rain, the Beatles tribute and the Warfield to see Ron White.  

As I said, we are very lucky to be able to have such a wide variety of venues so close at hand.  I definitely have my work cut out for me with scrapbooking all of these special events!  

How about you?  Have any special venues close to you or do you have to travel to see shows?  Only 4 more letters to go!!!  Visit the A to Z Challenge center to see how other members are doing!

Monday, April 25, 2016

A to Z Challenge - 2016

Extremely short post today...

U is for Ukulele...

The most moving rendition of this song I have ever heard.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Israel "IZ" Kamakawiwo'ole

Ukulele at its finest.

See you tomorrow for V!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

A to Z Challenge - 2016

T is for Tickets...

Thank goodness for Sundays!  A day to catch up a little.  I have been really busy with work the past few days and have not had time to prepare posts and/or check out any of the other blogs I've started to follow through this A to Z Challenge.  If I'm going to be able to afford the tickets to the concerts we see, I better do my real work first!

Which leads me to today's topic, the search for the Golden Tickets.

  I wrote a post in January about this subject.  In it I describe my concerns and recent frustration with getting tickets to see Adele, which sadly we were unable to do!

In the "olden days" there were Ticketmaster outlets in the "record shops" and you could get tickets there.  No more record stores means no more outlets.  You can go to the venues directly and wait in line on the days tickets go on sale, but not everyone lives close enough or has the time to do that.  You can try calling Ticketmaster, but in reality, I believe that is just a person in front of a computer the same as I am and they have no special powers to getting good seats.

The whole process of getting tickets can be stressful.  I find myself breaking out in a sweat, mind racing, fingers flying on the keyboard, eyes on the clock, waiting for it to hit 10:00 (that's the time most tickets go on sale around here).  Once I actually get in to the ticket selection part, I have trouble sometimes making a decision...can I get closer if I give these tickets up?  I have learned that they usually start offering the seats in the back first and work their way up to the close seats but if you miss that window or the tickets are popular, the good seats can be gone and you'll get stuck with the upper deck.  Oh the horror!

As I've said before, we have 9 concerts planned for this year, running from May to September.  I have gotten spoiled and I want to sit as close as I can and for the most part I am willing to pay for those good seats.  I do not want the "VIP" or "Fan club" experience so I know it will be hard to get in the first 10 rows most of the time, but I'm willing to pay almost up to $200 a ticket to see someone we really like.  I would have paid more than that to see Adele but wasn't even given the chance!

Because we saw four shows last year at the Mountain Winery, we were given "Loyalty Club" benefits this year which meant that they were having a pre-sale just for people who had done that.  Since the venue itself only holds about 2500 people, our chances for good ticket selection turned out to be great.  We got tickets in the front section for each of the four shows we are seeing there this year and I am particularly excited for the Foreigner concert where we are in the 2nd row!  Since we are seeing four shows this year, our "Loyalty Club" benefits will extend to next year.  Now if we could just get Adele to go there, we might have a chance!

So, that's my T story and I'm sticking to it.  What about you?  Any special tricks to getting good tickets?  Willing to wait in line 30 minutes or more? Love to hear about it.  

Friday, April 22, 2016

A to Z Challenge - 2016

S is for Saxophone...

My favorite instrument are drums.  That beat really gets me moving; however, there is something to be said for the saxophone as well.  By far the biggest saxophone I've ever seen is the one played by Alto Reed (how cool is that for a name of a sax player?) who plays with Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band.  It looks like it is almost as big as he is.

Alto Reed

His sax intro to the song "Turn the Page" is quite haunting.  

A little more lively saxophone performance is that done by Thom Gimbel of Foreigner.  The song "Urgent" is one that really gets my blood flowing, especially that sax part.

Thom Gimbel

Here is a little video I took when we saw them at Mountain Winery a few years ago.

We were lucky to have pretty good seats.  Forgive the shaky camera, it was hard for me not to dance!

My daughter, Rachel, also played the sax in her school band for one year. Here she is marching in a parade in our town.    

Okay.  There's the S-word for the day.  Not many letters left but we are coming to some really tricky ones.  Hope I can make it.

How about you?  Like the sax?

Thursday, April 21, 2016

A to Z Challenge - 2016

R is for Radio

I have a love-hate relationship with the radio.  When I was a teenager I loved listening to the radio.  Of course, at that time I had few options, it was the radio or records (as in the vinyl type).  I mostly listened to KFRC or KYA which were the "rock and roll" stations at the time.  I could listen all day and it never seemed like they repeated the same songs, or maybe I just didn't notice.  I never remember hearing useless chatter between the DJ's either, or again, maybe I just didn't notice.

Along came CDs and iPods and the like and when I was able to download songs on my computer and listen to them that way, the only time I really listened to the radio was when I was driving in my car.  All of a sudden the stations kept changing formats.  It seemed like the stations I was used to listening to started playing hip hop and rap instead of my usual rock.  The disc jockeys started playing stupid games and making prank phone calls.  When I did find a station I liked, they played the same songs over and over.  I kept thinking that if I was able to have thousands of songs on my iMac, which would take me days to play them all without repeating, why couldn't the radio stations do the same?

And then there was MAX.  In 2006 MAX 97.5 FM, which was a relatively new station on the dial in my area, actually did something wonderful.  According to a newspaper article at the time, the executives did a market research and found out that "...announcers weren't adding much to the listening experience...MAX listeners are people who were not satisfied with traditional stations and said they'd just as soon have just the music."  WHAT?  Someone actually listened to their listeners?  MAX got rid of all the disc jockeys and proclaimed that they were the "station that plays whatever it feels like!"  They got John O'Hurley (the actor who played J. Peterman on "Seinfeld") to do spot promos and they just played the music.  All the time.  They did have a spot about every hour or two where they would run a few commercials but it wasn't even five minutes worth it didn't seem like.

I was in HEAVEN!  I even called the radio station (something I had NEVER done before) to tell them how much I appreciated their programming AND THEY USED THAT ON THE AIR!  Several times I was driving and heard my voice on the radio saying how much I liked it.  How cool is that?

MAX did have contests to win concert tickets but instead of having to call at a certain time or answer a trivia question or be a certain number caller, all you had to do was send them an email with your name and address.  That's it!  So, of course I sent them an email, but didn't think too much about it because I never win anything.

And then one day, after sitting through a jury selection process (I did not get interviewed but it was getting close), I came home to find a letter from MAX FM.  At first I thought it was just an advertisement and then I read the letter:

OMG!  I had actually won!  I was SO excited.  I had only been to three concerts in my life and the last one had been three years before.  The seats were in the second level so it wasn't exactly front row and no one made a big deal about my husband and I but that didn't matter to me.  Huey Lewis and the News were fantastic.  We were a little disappointed with the Chicago performance but the whole experience was just a thrill.  Of course I made a page in my concert scrapbook for it:  

The pictures I took were not the greatest but I remember every bit of that night.  The next day I called the radio station again to tell them thanks for the tickets and let them know how much fun we had.  They used that as a promo spot too!  I did not hear it but one of my friends did and told me they had heard me on the radio.  Wow, I was almost famous!

I had such a good time that I decided I wanted to start going to more concerts.  I had not gone to them when I was growing up and now that our kids were older, I figured my husband and I deserved to have a night out once in a while.  I got us tickets to see Journey and Def Leppard later that year and since that time we have gone to at least four concerts a year.  This year we are going to 9!

Sadly, by the next year 95.7 had changed again and had become a country station, the WOLF.  While I don't mind country music sometimes, it's not my go-to and so I went back to using CDs and then eventually my iPhone as my music in the car.  Nevertheless, I blame the radio for my concert addiction.  I guess it could be worse.

How about you?  Ever won a contest?  Have a favorite radio station?  Miss the Oldies?  Love to hear about it!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A to Z Challenge - 2016

And we come to the letter "Q" in our A to Z Challenge.

Of course I thought about Quartet as a great word for my musical musings.

The definition of quartet is an ensemble of four singers or instrumental performers or a musical composition for four voices or instruments.  There are string quartets and barbershop quartets.  Well-known quartets include The Beatles (duh) the Four Tops, The Lennon Sisters and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young to name a few.  Most of the time it is four singers of the same gender, but the Mamas and Papas was a quartet as well.  As far as instruments go, the usual quartet in rock and pop music is two electrical guitars, a bass guitar and a drum set.

I was discussing the quartet theme with my daughter, Rachel, the other day in preparation for this blog and she said, "Mom, you were part of a quartet.  You had three sisters."  Such a smart girl!

And while the only songs we have sung together is the famous "Mother" which we performed every Mother's Day to a captive audience and the occasional Cowboy Jack, more as a joke, here we are with the Stagnaro Girls Quartet:

The first thing that you should know is that these pictures were taken when we were each about a year old.  However, there is 18 years between JoAnne, the oldest, and Jaye, the youngest.  Obviously hairstyles for one-year-olds did not change much over the course of time.  I believe this particular style was made by my mom licking her finger and then wrapping our hair around it and then pulling her finger out.  Perhaps a little hairspray to make it stay?

Each of our names begin with the letter "J."  Handy for a quartet!  My mother claims she never named any of us.  Here's why:

                                                                                                              JoAnne's name comes from a combination of my mother (Josephine) and her twin sister (Antoinette).  That is why she always wrote her name with a capital "J" and a capital "A." She and I are the most alike.  She was 12 years older than me and most of the time she was working or at school.  I was eight when she got married and was so excited to be a flower girl in her wedding.  We got much closer as I got older and she helped me find and decorate my first apartment.


Another aunt picked Judy's name.  I am not sure why other than they liked the name.  Judy is 10 years older than I.  She was my confidant when I was in high school.  By that time she was out of the house and married so I used to go visit her and tell her my sad tales of woe.  I also taught her to drive because she never learned.  I do remember once before she got married that she got into a fight with our parents and climbed out the bedroom window. Her boyfriend brought her back home and it all ended well.

And then there is me.  I always say I was the "wanted" child because there are so many years between Judy and I.  My parents had the dreaded "RH" factor, meaning my dad's blood type was a positive and my mom's was a negative.  In those days they did not have the medications they do now to prevent the blood rejection that comes with mixing types so the doctors told my parents not to have any more children for a while.  With Italian Catholic parents and no birth control allowed,  I could just as easily say I was an "accident" but I prefer wanted!  JoAnne and Judy named me...but since there were 4 Janet's and a Janice in my class all during elementary school, I'm pretty sure that was a popular name at the time.


Last but not least, is our sister, Jaye.  She is five years younger than I am and we say she was a "surprise" because my mom was 42 when she was born, a little older than most women.  The story of Jaye's name is a good one.  The neighborhood women gave my mom a baby shower and they said to her, "What are you going to name the baby?  It has to be a "J" you know."  And my mom said, "Okay, that's what it is, Jaye."  There may have been some issues with the positive and negative stuff with Jaye's birth because I remember it being a pretty big deal with my mom having to go to the hospital urgently because of premature bleeding.  All turned out okay though.  

While not exactly a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Stagnaro Girls Quartet was given a plaque on the brick wall in the kitchen, along with mom and dad. 

Wall of Fame

And here is a more recent picture of the group, although it is at least 25 years old. Sadly, the quartet is now a trio as JoAnne passed away much too soon.  We don't live very close to each other so it is rare that we all get together.  As you can see, I've always had the problem with closing my eyes for pictures.  

And there you have "Quartet."  I hope you are having as much fun with this A to Z Challenge as I am.  There are nine days left.  I think I'm going to make it, although there are some letters coming up that could be tricky!  Hope you'll stay tuned...

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

A to Z Challenge - 2016

The letter P was one of the first letters I knew I had a subject for, thanks to my next door neighbor, Aron Marten, the inventor of the Pickstrap Pick!

Again, not being musically inclined as far as playing an instrument, I wasn't even sure what good these would do but after watching a video on his site, The Pickstrap Pick, I can see that they would be mighty handy little gadgets to have if you play the guitar.

They come in different sizes and shapes, depending on your thumb size and what kind of pick you are used to using.  Just the other day I was watching a friend of mine play guitar and he had to ask one of his bandmates to give him a pick during a song because, as he explained it, the song started out with finger strumming but in the middle, he needed a pick.  If he had had one of these helpful tools, I guess that would not have been an issue!

On the other hand, I have gotten a few picks from the bands we have seen...

and if Neil Giraldo had been using a Pickstrap Pick, I would not have gotten it (although, honestly, he had a dish full of them next to him on stage and just picked up a handful and threw them out into the crowd so I'm pretty sure the one I got was not one he actually used).

If you want to know more about the Pickstrap Pick, I'm sure my friend/inventor, Aron Marten, would be happy to chat with you about it!  Go to his site and click on the Facebook link or use the Contact form to send him a message.  I'm sure he can explain more about their many uses.  I just think it's kinda cool to be able to say I live next door to an inventor!    

What do you think of that?  Made it all the way to the P's without hardly a glitch!  Follow along with the A to Z Challenge.  Bet you can't wait to see what can I do for a Q!

Monday, April 18, 2016

A to Z Challenge - 2016

The letter "O."

This is one of the letters I had trouble with.  Looking up "O words in music" led me to "obbligato" which is a neat sounding word, but since I don't know anything about opera (which is another "O" word in which the word obbligato is used and regarding which I know nothing), I didn't feel comfortable trying to write about it.

If you made it through that introductory paragraph without hitting your head against a wall, let me tell you about the word I settled upon:  Ode.

The definition of an Ode is a lyrical poem in which a person expresses a strong feeling of love or respect for someone or something.  It is usually marked by exaltation of feeling and style, varying length of line and complexity of stanza forms.  Now this is something I can sink my teeth into!

The obvious examples for me personally are the Cowboy Jack  and Mother songs I wrote about earlier.  I think both of those could be considered odes.

Putting a different spin on the word Ode, I think the scrapbook albums that I make could also be considered Odes.  While not exactly lyrical or poetic, the albums I make do express a strong feeling of love or respect for someone or something.

I have albums in varying degree of completion for each one of my children:

Amanda Learning Snaps
Jeff Graduating Tiny Tots

Rachel's Castle Cake

one for the Boulder Creek Golf Tournament in which my husband (and now my son also) have participated each year for the past 20 years:

 and I am beginning to work on an album to cover my husband and my courtship and wedding/honeymoon (since we've been married for almost 32 years I think that one's a little overdue!)

I have albums for the trips we made to Disneyland and a small one of my family history:

Of course, the concerts we are attending get an album (a bit behind on that one too since it is now 2016 and I am just working on the concerts we went to in 2009)!  

I am a "traditional" scrapbooker in that I don't make my albums in the digital format, preferring instead to move the embellishments/pictures, etc. around on the page until I get them just right.  Sometimes a page can take me an hour and sometimes they come together quicker than that.  Some pages have lots of pictures, some not so many, just as an ode has varying lengths of line and complexity of stanzas.  

Bringing it back to the musical "Ode," the one that I immediately thought of was "Ode to Billie Joe" by Bobbie Gentry.  Here is that one:

Okay, I think I've done tribute to the letter "O."  What do you think?  Am I stretching the connection between an ode and my scrapbook albums or do you think they make the jump?  Do you know what Billie Joe was throwing off the bridge? 

Hope you are all enjoying the A to Z Challenge offerings and are checking out some of the other wonderful contributions!