April 24, 2020 by Jay Minkin
Day 1 …. I have accepted a challenge (from Edward Benjamin Blau II Esquire) to post seven albums that I love – one album per day. He’s changed the rules a bit, though… so here is how this will go:
These will be records that had an effect on me, not necessarily because I love them, but because they represent something in my life. So yes, posting albums WITH EXPLANATION as a way to connect with my Facebook friends. Your comments would be nice as well. Each day I will ask a friend to take up the challenge. This is number one. Let’s unleash the love and memories …
U2 was coming to Cleveland’s old Municipal Stadium October 6th, 1987 touring behind the record shown below. A great album that pushed the band into the next hemisphere of popularity and importance. We had just moved to Akron in July and there was no way I could spend hours standing in line at the Chapel Hill Sears Ticketmaster location. When I arrived about 30 minutes before they went on sale the line was 50 yds long in the parking lot. Wearing a shirt & tie, I made a sign out of cardboard that I needed two tickets and hoped someone buying 2 (limit 4 or 6) would help me out. Somehow I got someone’s attention near the front of the line and I offered to buy one of their tickets if they bought me two. We ended up in the first row of upper box seats on a blistering cold night with winds howling off Lake Erie. What a show.
The Hitchcock twist to this tale was the night I came home from work prior to heading up to the concert. My wife Ellie had been to the doctor that day and we found out we were going to have a baby. October 6, 1987.
Day 2 …
Ah, the memories overwhelm me. There’s not a lot to do growing up in Canton, Ohio when you’re 16 with a driver’s license. What’s crazy is that the best thing happening was driving north on Cleveland Avenue to a little po-dunk one stoplight rural community (mid 70’s) called Uniontown. It was there we found salvation … classmates Sally & Red were part of the handful of friends making the journey to Boulder Junction. This old lumber built structure made dulcimer/wood instruments and would host musicians on the weekends. Performing on a tiny stage on a monthly rotation were the likes of Alex Bevan, Charlie Wiener, Jim Ballard, and the man with the booming voice John Bassette. With no liquor license (only natural fruit juices were sold) we had no problem attending. Closing your eyes and listening to their records can literally take you back to that heavenly space.
Ah, but the Hitchcock twist to the tale. As one of the major instigators of planning the Senior Cut Day Party, I took a flyer and wrote a letter to John Bassette pretty much describing the above and wondering if he would come perform. Never heard back from him. On the afternoon of this epic day, Steve Red Michel was playing guitar on the sound system we set up in the shelter. A large African American man shows up with a guitar. OMG he showed up. He played several songs then disappeared. Like an angel ….
Thanks Alex B for inspiring me to tell this story. 💖 RIP John Richard Bassette
22/29/1941 to 11/9/2006. 💖
Day 3 …
It was only in January that I took an extended weekend roadtrip to Memphis. I’ve been to Music City several times for AmericanaFest, but had never driven the extra three hours to see the historical landmarks of Staxx, Sun, Graceland, and the Lorraine Motel. Breaking up the trip with overnights in Nashville each way equated to finding some good live music. Brandi Carlile was playing the historic Ryman Auditorium and had sold out all 6 nights! The secondary market prices for good tickets were pretty steep, but I kept my eye on the listings. Finally, I found 2 single tickets on the main floor aisle Row Q and S for $40/each.
After trucking down the highway, checking into our hotel, and having dinner. It was off to the Ryman. Brilliant singer/songwriter Natalie Hemby (part of The Highwomen) opened and I kept my eye on some empty seats in front of me. As soon as her set ended, I grabbed Ellie and waltzed her down to the 9th row where four spots were unattended. Needless to say, this is where we remained.
Brandi Carlile put on a show that was Springsteen-esque. Besides Hemby, The War & The Treaty and Sheryl Crow were guest performers. The Grammy Award artist and producer of several albums by other songwriters just blew the audience way leaving it all on stage. I bought this record when I came home.
The Hitchcock twist to the tale is that this would be the last big show I’ll see for the foreseeable future … January 16, 2020.
Nirvana (full-band instrumental)
Hold Out Your Hand
Lovesick Blues (Hank Williams)
A Case of You (Joni Mitchell)
Do Right Woman, Do Right Man
(Aretha Franklin) (with The War and Treaty)
If She Ever Leaves Me (The Highwomen)
Redesigning Women (The Highwomen)
Redemption Day (with Sheryl Crow)
Pride and Joy
Party of One
Day 4 ….
This album marks my very first assignment with Lost Highway Records on March 14, 2002. I mailed in a postcard from a Lyle Lovett CD asking fans to be part of the LH street team. After some time passed, I was contacted by the label to assist in the Cleveland market. Those that attended this show remember it was the “migraine” concert in which Adam’s performed without a spotlight on him. I worked dozens of shows (while still running the optical office), including assignments in Columbus, and was later promoted to “Captain” status. Artists included the likes of Adams, Lovett, Willie Nelson, Lucinda Williams, Elvis Costello, Kim Richey, Tift Merrit, The Jayhawks, Ryan Bingham, and John Eddie to the Mercury/UMG label promoting singer/songwriters eventually falling into a category now referred as Americana. When I started writing my music column, I penned a letter to label founder Luke Lewis thanking him for the opportunity to represent LH and moving on. Besides connecting with some of these artists, I met lots of great people along the way …
The Hitchcock twist to this story is a great book by Thomas O’Keefe titled “Waiting to Derail: Ryan Adams and Whiskeytown, Alt-Country’s Brilliant Wreck” that came out on June 26, 2018. Adam’s demise quickly followed with a postponement of released material. The other twist is I chose this album on 04/20/2020 …
Emmylou. That’s all I need to say. One of the most iconic voices in music. She’s on just about everybody’s records lending her gorgeous vocals besides a long and lustrous songbook of her own. Portions of her career with Gram Parsons and her very own Hot Band are Hall of Fame worthy.
I really wanted to see Emmylou in concert and she wasn’t coming to Cleveland anytime soon. I caught wind of a show in Pittsburgh by Calliope – The Pittsburgh Folk Music Society on May 19, 2000 at Carnegie Library Music Hall. Time for a roadtrip.
The space was like walking into a Shakespearean theater. Of course, I had decent seats on the floor of this intimate, old performance space with the small balcony extremely close to the stage. Emmylou was performing with the Spyboy band and ranks in my top twenty concerts. The album shown below is my favorite Emmylou record and gives me chills everytime I hear it.
The Hitchcock twist to this story is that the lead guitarist for Spyboy was the one and only Buddy Miller (wearing the baseball cap). I have become a fan and admirer of both Buddy and his wife Julie’s work; especially due to my wingman I called out with this post.
I initially began writing Minkins Music in January 2007 for Mimi’s Magazine, my longest supporter, before retiring the column in December 2019. A story on Griffin W House back in 2008 during the Flying Upside Down tour took me behind the music and the life of the Springfield, Ohio native now residing in Nashville. Not only was the story a shot in the arm for Griffin, but it elevated my game leading to additional avenues to expand my column.
A college degree from Miami of Ohio in 2002 in English Literature and Writing, his thoughts were to enroll in graduate school, but his poetry professor gave him the inspiration to channel his creativity toward being a songwriter rather than following in his footsteps. The passion and determination in House’s songs have since been filled with personal, richly detailed snapshots of his life and Flying Upside Down received my “Best Album of 2008” award. The record hit singles “One Thing”, “Live To Be Free”, “Waiting For The Rain to Come Down”, and “The Guy That Says Goodbye to You is Out of His Mind” first caught my ear from Mike Marrone, program director and DJ extraordinaire of the somewhat deceased “The Loft” channel on SXM.
The Hitchcock twist to this story is that a lot has happened since for House, as well as my own personal story, with the highs and lows along the roller coaster of living life that all of us encounter. But music, and especially writing stories, is the common thread that connects many of us … including those mentioned in this post 💖.
I grew up in Fort Wayne, Indiana and my sister was a dozen years older than me. Along with children’s records from Disney, Tubby The Tubba, and The Chipmunks, there was a copy of Peter, Paul and Mary sitting out to play on the phonograph. Moving was released on January 15, 1963 and I had just turned four years old. I played songs like “Settle Down”, “Flora”, “Morning Train”, and “A’Soalin” over and over again …. not to mention big hits “This Land Is Your Land” and “Puff”. Along with invisible friend George, they kept me company.
On Feb. 9, 1964, The Beatles made their first live U.S. television appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. More than 70 million Americans gathered around their televisions to watch four young men from Liverpool make history. I had just turned five years old, and we watched Ed Sullivan every Sunday night. The following year Help was released on August 6, 1965 along with a movie on August 25, 1965. Two of the first movies I remember seeing in the theater when I was six years old were Thunderball (Dad’s pick) and Help (Karen’s pick).
In the fall of 1966, the family packed up and moved to Canton. I was seven years old and my sister was long gone to Indiana University.
We lived in a townhouse apartment for a couple years before moving into a little bungalow. At some point my sister transferred from IU to Kent State pursuing a fine arts degree. There were so many historical points on the timeline to mention leading up to the release of Tommy by The Who on May 17, 1969. We received two newspapers a day (The Cleveland Dealer and Canton Repository) before cable and 24/7 news reporting. My folks had a record collection made up primarily of Broadway Shows, Classical Music, and comedy records. I still had my kids records and some 45’s purchased at the local department store Giant Tiger. By this time I was ten years old. I remember sitting in our little bedroom turned family room when my sister said you need to listen to this record. I must have played it a zillion times.
The Hitchcock twist to this story is that I’m not sure if my sister remembers or realizes the influence of these three records on my vinyl addiction. I’m sixty-one years young now. 💖