Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Kids-My First by Peter Reum

On this occasion, my oldest daughter's 29th birthday, I remember her birth by my first wife vividly. Her coming into this world was difficult. Her mother and I had taken Bradley classes, and we decided to try to do things without medication. We had delayed our children by 10 years, which was a wise decision, as neither of us were ready for kids until then. It seemed that I sowed many wild oats in my 20s, and by 31, I had earned two graduate degrees, and money was flowing more substantially than ever before. We had bought a home, and I really thought it would be our home lifelong.

That first home had 3 bedrooms, plus a room for my ever burgeoning record collection. Insanity by vinyl multiplied. We searched for names, and Kalinda, a word from the ancient language Sanskrit meaning sunlight, was our choice. She was born in the Greeley, Colorado Hospital, and her Apgar Score at 1 minute was only 2.  Having been trained in Early Childhood Development, sirens went off in my head. Her mother was still dealing with the afterbirth when Apgars at 5 minutes were 5. By 10 minutes, she had "pinked up" to 8, and at 15 minutes, she was a solid 9. Her screams rang out as she discovered her world, and she calmed down when placed with her mother. Those first few weeks were heaven, as we learned her rhythms and she learned ours. My father asked me how I liked being a father myself.

She was always inquisitive, always spirited, fiercely independent, and wanted to do things herself. More than most of my other children and step-children, my first was observant, and learned by watching. Her mother's intellect was prodigious, and she inherited it. Friends of mine and her mother's dubbed her "Kalinda the Wonder Child." She was expressing her needs clearly by 7 months and walked early.   She loved being read to, and I read her stories nightly for her first 4 years. Preschool was a good experience for her, and she enjoyed the company of other children. By 4, she had developed a sensitive temperament, which she hid well.  From me, she developed a wonderful sense of rooting for the underdog, a quality she retains to this day.  She does not suffer fools who discriminate against others well, nor do I. She had the unique experience of growing up with a sister with cerebral palsy, and loves her sister dearly.

It must have been  hard being the sister who is "gifted" in a family with a newly diagnosed little sister who was a special needs child. Kalinda accepted this role, and, to my knowledge, never showed a bit of jealousy about the amount of time her parents spent with her younger sister in various therapies, special education programs, and other forms of intervention designed to help close the delays her sister had developmentally. As Kalinda entered school, she developed an interest in horses that she kept for most of her elementary school years. She became an accomplished rider, and despite a few falls and broken bones, kept on riding. She also developed a love of singing that she maintained all the way through her secondary school years. She has a beautiful soprano voice and a great ear.

When Kalinda was 10, her mother asked me to leave, and the pain she had in her eyes as I packed and moved out is seared in my soul forever. Her mother and I had grown apart, and we had a painful and protracted divorce that only hurt Kalinda more deeply. She expressed her anger to me, and presumably to her mother as well. I don't know, I was not there. I remarried on the rebound, and my second wife clashed personality wise with Kalinda.  They never really were able to tolerate each other, making Kalinda's relationship with me even more distant. I take full responsibility for this. It was a mistake I will always regret.

I moved to Montana, and Kalinda visited me the first two Christmases I was here. My second wife had died, and I was devastated. To this day, it is hard to determine whether the divorce or my second wife's illness and death was most shattering. I still could not see Kalinda's pain, and I wish I could have. Her mother remarried, and her second husband was a true gentleman. He did not try to win Kalinda over, but simply respected her feelings for what they were. This was a lesson I hadn't learned, and it hurt Kalinda.

Fast forward into the post high school years, and Kalinda went to college. She was absent from my life, and had good reason to be. I had been arrogant. Her mother helped her as best she could,
and to Kalinda's credit, she got through a rigorous undergraduate program in 3 years. She met her future husband, and they ended up getting married and went to graduate school in Montreal. Kalinda got her M.A. in History, and the couple had the first of two children they have today.  The children are beautiful, and have the delicate features their grandmother had.

They live an ocean and a half away, and when Kalinda visits, she comes to see her younger sister. Last time, she generously spent time with me for a few hours, and shared herself with me a little. Her talents are many, and her husband appears to be a generous and attentively loving man. For this I am very grateful. When her mother died, I couldn't help but wonder what things might have been like if I had gotten my act together and stayed, instead of selfishly being self-occupied.  I wish there was a way I could have made amends in a manner Kalinda and her mother could hear.

They say the "woulda, shoulda, couldas" will eat away your soul. I believe it. My beautiful first born is a woman, a mother, an artist, a wife, and a citizen of the world. She has embraced the cultures of other countries, using her camera and her inquiring mind to learn about things I only dreamed of learning. Her mother rests at peace in Colorado, and my Higher Power has seen fit to give me a second chance to be a dad with her sister, now 23, and 3 stepdaughters and 2 children with my wife. My "second family" is a blessing, a chance to make a difference in the most important job a man can have, being a father and stepfather.

Kalinda has a gift for photography that is truly remarkable. Her site,, is a collection of photographs that I love immensely. Every few months, I go there to see what my oldest has found wonderful about the world in her travels. If I live long enough, my hope is that one day, I will be privileged to meet her family. In the meantime, once a year formally, and hundreds of times informally, I celebrate her life and her gifts, which are many. She is unique, my first, and nothing can take her place in my heart. You only have your firstborn once, and today, I celebrate her and her life....Kalinda.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Brian Wilson/Alan Jardine/David Marks/Jeff Beck Tour 2013 by Peter Reum

There are disadvantages to living in Montana. The biggest one for me has been the dearth of top tier concert tour stops here. The Wilson Band/Beck Band tour has been one of those lost opportunities. There are people who contend that Brian has been touring often enough that people may have lost the impetus to catch shows Brian and his band play. Well, having listened to a live recording of the tour, I am certain that people like myself who didn't go have lost a great opportunity to see two titans from the Sixties play their music.

The first thing to say is that Brian and his band continue to be masters of whatever tunes from Brian's palette they choose to play. Those of us who caught the Jimmy Fallon Show got a tiny sample of two hours of great music. Our Prayer/Danny Boy is a sample of the encore the two  bands have been playing. The combination, on first blush appears unusual. The tunes side into each other beautifully. As with Surfs Up, Jeff Beck's ability to make a guitar sing is astounding.

Brian, Alan, and David's set with their band recalls the best of Brian's music, with Alan's incredible voice adding power and honesty to what is already some of the most emotionally honest music ever written.  I was blessed with an audience recording of a concert from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania that is a terrific document of this tour. The show consisted of a little over an hour of Brian, Alan, David, and he band, followed by roughly an hour of Jeff Beck with his band, with the final 25 minutes of the show devoted to a unified set by both ensembles.

This show begins with a chillingly beautiful acapella version of Their Hearts Were Full of Spring, Brian's signature vocal tribute to his Four Freshmen mentors. The band then begins the introduction to California Girls, with Brian singing lead. The version here is playful and bouncing. There is a pretty 12 bar vocals only break near the end of the song. Do It Again is next, with David Marks playing perfect surf guitar over the complex vocals that come in during the choruses. Paul Von Mertens plays what sounds like a bass sax, which holds the bottom together. It rocks, and that is what great surf music should do.

Alan then does Then I Kissed Her, and just like the C50 Tour, he nails it. The version here could have come from Summer Days (and Summer Nights). There is no other Beach Boy who can sound so authentic, so true to the original Beach Boy recordings.  Don't Worry Baby follows, with  nice backing vocals and a pretty lead from Jeff Foskett. A tribute to Dennis Wilson follows, with David Marks telling a great story about Dennis chopping down a tree that David at age 6 fell out of and broke his arm. David then does a splendid version of Little Bird with backing vocals eerily true to the original Friends album recording. Probyn plays some banjo behind  David.

A concert segment follows that highlights American Music. It begins with Brian's arrangement of Ol' Man River, which then segues beautifully into Cottonfields. Again, Alan's incredible vocal brings the authority of the original recording by The Beach Boys into a live performance. The pedal steel in this version helps replicate the single version by the Beach Boys perfectly. Til I Die is next, with its wistful organ and vibes behind a suitably solemn group vocal effort. Brian echoes his backing vocal part on the record. Sail On Sailor is sung by Brian, with this version sounding more blues based than usual. The banjo is faintly present in the background. Brian's versions of this tune the last couple of years have allowed him to reclaim this tune as his own.

Brian loves Heroes and Villains, and has also reclaimed that tune as his to sing in the last two tours. The spooky bicycle rider keyboard part is very audible in this version. The acapella break eats their lunch at first here, but they pull it out and then go into the waltz time cantina section.  Brian then returns to sing the final verse. Probably my favorite tune that this band plays live, Marcella, is next, with a rocking backdrop and some suitable harmonica from Paul. The version here is less guitar and more keyboard based, with a nice bridge. As with some of the other tunes in this show, the sound is a little closer to the original recording than in the past. There is some great guitar work, presumably from David.

The title track from Pet Sounds follows, with the band shining. There is some lovely guitar and Nelson Bragg and Mike D'Amico really stand out on this tune. Paul's sax break here again highlights the jazz roots of many of Brian's compositions. Brian does God Only Knows, singing it more sweetly in the style of Carl's original vocal than in the past. In all, Brian's vocal is loving, sensitive, and tasteful. Sloop John B is next, with Alan taking Brian's first verse. Brian's doubling of Alan on the chorus shows that nothing is lost. Brian takes the second verse, The acapella break is spot on. Alan returns for the third verse, with Brian doubling. Concluding the Pet Sounds segment of the show is Wouldn't It Be Nice. The lead sounds like Alan, with Brian doing the bridge.  The vocals are simply beautiful.

The ending of this first part of the show begins with Help Me Rhonda, with Alan killing it. As on the C50 tour, he owns this tune. Jeff does a nice falsetto backing vocal. I Get Around, with its complex arrangement is next. David's solo on the bridge is short but tasty. Brian sings Carl's part on Good Vibrations, and the tune has the ethereal feeling that the studio version has. Some of the mid range theremin parts are done vocally, which is unusual. The cello triplets are reproduced using synthesizers. Fun Fun Fun is moved to being the end of this segment, and sounds out of place there. Despite that, David plays some cool guitar and the harmonies are perfect.

Jeff Beck and his awesome band do the second segment of the show, beginning with Eternity's Breath.  His five piece band is sufficiently versatile to do virtually any type of music, and I found this part of the concert not just enjoyable, but in some instances, transcendent. One is reminded of the best playing that Weather Report did with Jaco. Jeff's guitar is part improvisational, part literal. The drumming and bass here are tasteful and not only keep time, but amplify and complements the other instruments. Eternity's Breath segues into Stratus, a jazz fusion workout that cooks.

Jan Hammer's Even Odds follows, which combines some classic rock drumming with gorgeous guitar work from both guitarists in Jeff's band. The central riff plays off a descending chord pattern reminscent of Layla in some ways. The violin and guitar play beautifully in sync with each other in the last 90 seconds of the song. A tune entitled You Know You Know is next, with the violin and Jeff Beck's guitar again playing off each other. Time signatures go out the window as the band flies through the tune with the aplomb of a unit who intuitively know where each other is going next.  The sophistication of the violin as a progressive fusion instrument is both unexpected and inspiring.

You Never Know is a tour de force of guitar, drums, and synth. It rocks and swings simultaneously, and is perfect for a band of instrumental virtuosi like Beck's. Where Were You is turned into a sad and mournful blues workout, with Beck's guitar quite literally crying. I have not heard a guitarist be able to do this since some of Jesse Ed Davis's work with Indigenous poet and visionary John Trudell. Big Block is next with a menacing beginning out of Mancini's Peter Gunn Theme. The tune evolves into an unusual almost 12 bar blues feel with a machine gun speed guitar workout over it. Again, this band knows exactly where everyone is headed, but the route can vary from night to night. The time signatures again go out the window.

Beck and his band are then joined by Brian, Alan, David, and their band.  They promptly do Our Prayer perfectly, which then is followed by a segment of Smile's Second Movement, which includes part of Child Is Father To the Man segueing into Jeff Beck's astounding version version of Surfs Up on guitar with vocals by Brian and company. What is cool is that the violin plays the intro to Child live. Beck's subtle and restrained guitar throughout Surfs Up is elegant and it is easy to see why Brian was knocked out in 2005 at Music Cares.

Brush With the Blues is next. It showcases Beck at his best, recalling his finest blues rock workouts. Perhaps improbable, but not surprising is the combined group doing Les Paul and Mary Ford's How High the Moon. For those of us who love their work, it is a piece of ear candy. Beck's version of Day In the Life begins in the restrained world weary manner of The Beatles' version, then escalates into a loud arpeggio which fades back into the world weary theme of the first part of the song. The orchestral crescendo is replicated incredibly by Beck, leaving the listener breathless. His final number, Rollin' and Tumblin' recalls Yardbirds days with a great blues rock interpretation of the old Hambone Willie Newbern blues recording from the dawn of recorded blues.

The two bands played an encore, beginning with the best live version of Barbara Ann that I have heard in awhile. Jeff Beck's solo is short but flaming.  Surfin' USA follows, simple, yet profound in its Chuck Berry roots. Beck's slack key guitar on Danny Boy is so evocative of the great Hawaiian guitarists, especially Gabby Pahinui. The vocals are so splendid as to be spiritual. Thus, an Irish song is morphed into a beautiful Hawaiian hymn.

There are so many highlights, and it is hard to identify just a few moments. Suffice to say that for this brief tour, two of the best bands in the world united to create an experience unique, yet probably overlooked by rabid fans of both bands. Two men who admire each others' musicianship synergistically created an experience that anyone who caught this tour will remember with great appreciation in the years to come.  I can barely wait for the album that Brian is cutting with Jeff as a guest artist. Congratulations to everyone who made this tour happen....

Text copyright 2013 by Peter Reum-All Rights Reserved