Archive for bonus tracks

david crosby on the election

david crosby.

david crosby.

On Halloween Day, I spoke with two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee David Crosby for an advance story on his Nov. 19 performance at the Norton Center for the Arts. Nearly all of our conversation centered on his current music, specifically the tunes making up the “Lighthouse” album he released earlier this month, along with discussion about his 50 year recording and touring career.

Being that Crosby, 75, has been such a vocal social and political commentator through his music since the 1960s, I could help but ask him his feelings regarding the impending presidential election. As our feature piece on the Norton Center concert won’t run for another two weeks, I’m sharing Crosby’s brief election comments here.

A note: I did not ask him specifically about any candidate. My question was simply this: “Would you please share your sentiments on this election season?

Here was Crosby’s reply:

“I don’t think there is any more dangerous person to this country than (Donald) Trump. I think he is a terrible person, and I also think he is not very bright. It would be a disaster. So I’m going to vote for Hillary (Clinton). I would have picked somebody completely other than the both of them. But I think Trump is truly dangerous. He does not have control over himself and he’s not an adult. I think it would be a disaster to let him run the country.”


bonus tracks: the brubeck brothers quartet

two generations of brubeck: sons chris (left) and dan (right) with father dave (center).

two generations of brubeck: sons chris (left) and dan (right) with father dave (center).

Our preview piece on tonight’s performance by the Brubeck Brothers Quartet and the Lexington Philharmonic had to exclude, for reasons of length, a wonderful remembrance by Chris Brubeck of when his famous father, jazz titan Dave Brubeck, was inducted into the Kennedy Center Honors in 2009. As this year’s Honors ceremony was telecast earlier this week, we thought we would share Chris’ story of how the four Brubeck sons kept their performance at the telecast a secret from their dad until show time.

“Oh my God, we went to such amazing lengths for him to not know we were going to be there. For example, when my wife and I rode with my sister all the way from Connecticut to Washington, we didn’t even let my sister know that we were going to be doing it. And two of my brothers were actually hiding in different hotels in Washington so they couldn’t possibly run into my dad.

“My brother Darius and I… our dad knew we were in Washington because of a different ceremony that we were invited to. But dad also knew that the people getting the Kennedy Center Honors don’t get to play at the ceremony. It’s all done as a tribute. He said, ‘Oh, I’d sure love it if my sons would be the people that would play to honor me.’ The producers said, ‘We’re sorry, we really can’t do that. We’re going in a different direction.’

“The different direction was this incredible all-star band with Christian McBride and Bill Charlap and Bill Stewart, Miguel Zenon – all these great guys. And Herbie Hancock was in there. It was just unbelievable. But even live, my brothers and I were hidden behind this piece of scenery onstage. So our dad really, really had no idea we were also going to be there until we began playing.

“The producers always want to have what they call the ‘gotcha’ moment, emotionally, from the recipients. They want to catch that on camera. They told me that was one of their very favorite all-star takes of that moment. It was just so great. At the time, I thought that was probably the pinnacle of my dad’s life, the culmination of the whole mission our family has been working in during his lifetime, and it turned out to be true. He only played a few more years after that.”

bonus tracks : ray benson

ray benson.

ray benson.

Our featured story/post yesterday on Asleep at the Wheel dealt primarily with the band’s new Bob Wills tribute album Still the King. But founder and frontman Ray Benson had plenty more to say about his storied swing band.

On the musicians who inspired and helped him: “I was always helped by people coming up. Commander Cody was a good friend who helped us. Van Morrison got us our first notoriety, really. Without the help of people like that we wouldn’t have gotten to where we did. When we got to Austin, it was like we knew everybody. It was a small town then. It’s a big town now, though. It’s never been a competition, either. While we have been grateful to win a lot of awards, award shows also make me a little nervous because I don’t want to compete with my friends. I want to cooperate with them. I love working with other musicians.”

On Van Morrison: “We went to the Bay Area. Commander Cody helped us out there. We had this gig every Tuesday night. Van heard about it and said there was this great country band he had heard. He would come down and play with us and mentioned us to Rolling Stone magazine. That sent a flood of people from LA. He put us on a bunch of shows. Van is the man. He’s quite an artist. But that was a nice little kick in the butt. All of a sudden, this unknown little band had these people in LA looking for it.”

On the Austin, Tx. music community: “I’ve been in this town for 42 years, and it has always welcomed creative people and supported them – Janis Joplin and all those folks, rock bands, blues groups… Mother Earth, all those great bands. Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys weren’t really an Austin band, but they certainly played here. So when I moved here, it was like a haven. Now, it’s grown considerably. You know, we have a thing here now called Health Alliance for Austin Musicians that gets health care for musicians who can’t afford it – health care and mental health care. We have a city council that supports the music community. We have hundreds of venues, small and large, that present music. I don’t think we could have done what we’ve done without the support of this town.”

On Asleep at the Wheel’s all-star alumni: “Somebody said to me the other day, ‘Hey Ray. I actually met somebody today who didn’t play in Asleep at the Wheel. That’s amazing.’ But yeah, Bob Dylan’s bass player Tony Garnier, was with me in the ’70s. Larry Franklin, of course, has done all done all those sessions in Nashville. Junior Brown was in the band in the ‘80s. It’s just been an incredible bunch of people that I’ve been honored to play with.”

On his lengthy string of performances on The Late Show with David Letterman: “We’re hoping to fit that in again before he retires. That would be fun. There is a great place for music on that show, I’ll tell you what.

On what Lexington audiences can expect from Monday’s performance: “Listen, man. Wait till you see the band we’ve put together. I’ll let it be a surprise, but it will be pretty cool. Hang on, strap into your seat belts, get ready. We’re Asleep at the Wheel.”

Asleep at the Wheel performs for the 800th broadcast of the WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour at 7 p.m. March 23 at the Lyric Theatre and Cultural Arts Center, 300 East Third. Tickets are $20, $30. Call (859) 280-2218 or go to

keb’ mo’ on joe cocker

keb' mo'

keb’ mo’

During my recent interview with Keb’ Mo’, viewable elsewhere on The Musical Box as a preview story for his Jan. 28 concert at the Lexington Opera House, I asked about Joe Cocker. The late vocalist, who died Dec. 22, befriended Mo’ early in his career and eventually invited him on the road as an opening act. Mo’ replied with a detailed tribute of Cocker that deserves to be shared in its entirety.

Here is a glimpse of the Joe Cocker that Keb Mo’ knew.

“Joe Cocker was amazing to me. The first time I met him was in the early ‘70s – probably ’73 – backstage at the Troubadour in Los Angeles. He opened the door and fell down drunk right in front of me. Really. Literally. I’m like, ‘Holy (expletive). Here I am, 22 years old and Joe Cocker has fallen on the floor drunk right in front of me.’

“Now I had been listening to Mad Dogs and Englishmen and to all of his earlier stuff for at least a couple of years. I was a huge fan of Joe Cocker, so what I saw didn’t bother me. A few years later You Are So Beautiful came out. He came back again and I started listening to him all over again. Then early on in my career, he let me open for him. We did a whole tour and he took very good care of me.

joe cocker.

joe cocker.

“One of the last times I saw Joe Cocker was in Aspen. He shouted out, ‘Hey Keb. How are you doing there?’ I was playing a solo show, so he said, ‘Still can’t afford a band, eh?’ There he was ragging on me. His wife was great, too – the sweetest woman and such a supporter of him.

“I’ve been listening to Joe Cocker my whole life, and every time I saw him sing, he sounded better. He was not declining. He just sang better every time. Listening to him, I would just be like, ‘Whoa.’

“Joe Cocker, to me… I mean, what a life. What a musical treasure for the world. What a life well lived. When I first met him, he was not a man without problems. He was an inebriated man who had fallen on the floor in front of me. But who had actually fallen was a giant, a genius, an icon. Throughout my life, he was one of the folks that showed me that you don’t judge people. You don’t judge people based on where they are at any moment in their life. You look at what they do and how they are. Joe Cocker, Dr. John and Charlie Musselwhite, people like that, have taught me that lesson in a huge way.

“I was never into drugs or anything like that. That was ever a problem for me so I never understood how it was a problem for anyone else. But I do understand what it means to be human, about what it means to fail and to get back up and be who you are despite the demons.

“So I thank Joe Cocker and I’m so grateful for him being in my life.”

bonus tracks: terry bozzio on frank zappa

terry bozzio, patrick o’hearn, frank zappa and eddie jobson in 1976.

We spoke to drummer Terry Bozzio last weekend for a piece that will be posted on Friday regarding his clinic performance sponsored by the Drum Center of Lexington.

Due to space limitations, we had to exclude the following passage. Here Bozzio describes events leading up to his three-year stint with Frank Zappa, the guitarist, composer and bandleader that essentially introduced the world to the one of the most celebrated rock and prog drummers of the past four decades.

“I have to give credit to my teachers and my music education at College of Marin (in Marin County, California). I went there for two years and got an associate in arts degree as a commercial music major. When I left College of Marin, I immediately got a couple of show gigs in San Francisco and started playing with all the jazz guys there. Before you know it, I was one of the better known guys.

“My first recording experience was playing behind Jack DeJohnette, one of my favorite drummers. He was actually playing piano on John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme with Joe Henderson and Eddie Henderson on saxophone and trumpet (the recording session was for trumpeter Luis Gasca’s 1974 album, Born to Love You). I fell into this amazing situation. Then when Frank Zappa had auditioned all the drummers in Los Angeles, he started looking in other towns. (Zappa keyboardist and future funk/fusion star George Duke called Eddie Henderson and asked if he knew any drummers and he said, ‘Yeah, Terry, the guy I played with on this record with me, is really good.’ So I got the audition with Frank and won it, although I didn’t think I was good enough.

“Zappa was 10 years older than me and a true genius. It was an incredible experience, an incredible learning experience. I was challenged and pushed and he brought things out in me that I didn’t know I could do – the character and acting development, ways to sing and play drums at the same time, odd time signatures. It was all stuff I didn’t know I could do.

“He was just wonderful. Always push, push, push, push, push. I ended up doing a movie (Baby Snakes), 10 albums and three world tours with him – orchestral stuff and Saturday Night Live, too. Just an amazing experience. It was like marine boot camp. From there, I’ll take credit for whatever talent I developed through the work I’ve done. But if it wasn’t for Frank Zappa, you wouldn’t know who the hell I am.”

bonus tracks: mike cooley (more words from cooley)

mike cooley.

Here are a few extra remarks from our interview with Mike Cooley that didn’t make the final cut of our advance piece/post on Saturday’s Drive-By Truckers piece due to space.

+ Regarding a new Truckers album: I’m sure at some point, we will all want to go in and record together, even if we’re not thinking about an album. Once we do that, the ball will start rolling.

+ Regarding the possibility of hearing new songs at Saturday’s show: Well, I’m not planning on bringing anything new in (laughs). I don’t know if we’re going to have time to do that. We start in Memphis and then go Lexington the next day, so if anything new comes up, it will probably be closer to the end of the tour rather than the beginning.

+ Regarding songwriting inspirations: All of these songs have been written over a period of several years at different ages living in different places going through different experiences. So I’m not really looking for anything in particular. Every now and then there may be something that I think I may want to write about that I will carry around for a long time. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it never does. Mostly I just start playing something that sounds kind of good to me that inspires the humming of a melody and maybe a few words, and maybe I’ll figure out later where that’s actually going. Sometimes what you’re actually going to do with it reveals itself later in the process. Sometimes it’s may be a few years after you’ve written it and put it out that you go, ‘Oh yeah. That’s what’s I meant.’ That happens.

+ Regarding influences from  the South: You can’t really get away from it. Sometimes I think, ‘Man, it would be kind of nice to throw some other flavors in there.’ But that’s who we are. I can’t really he honest with myself and disregard that. That’s the most important thing about writing to me. It’s about being honest with yourself and being who you are. If being from the South happens to be it, then good luck changing.

+ Regarding mainstream commercial success: Sometimes your more loyal fans can feel marginalized by all the new success and it turns them off. And usually, once the big, sudden wave moves on to the next thing, the loyals never wind up coming back. As much as I would love to have the big mansion and the swimming pool of money… actually, I don’t really want those things… but the big hit single can be the kiss of death, for all the beautiful things it brings for awhile.

+ Regarding the working relationship with Patterson Hood: It comes totally naturally. That’s why we’ve kept playing together. It’s been that way from the very beginning. We’ve gotten better at it. You know, we didn’t meet until we were around 20 years old. But for all practical purposes, we grew up together. I mean, most everybody is still pretty damned immature at 20 years old. If you aren’t, you’re probably not normal. Musically and artistically, we were very green, so we totally grew up together in that respect.

the joe lovano dozen

In anticipation of Saturday’s concert at the Singletary Center for the Arts by Grammy winning saxophonist, composer, bandleader and all around jazz man Joe Lovano, we offer this ‘get acquainted package’ – a 12 pack of essential Lovano recordings. The first six come from Lovano’s immensely prolific catalog on Blue Note Records. The rest are collaborative projects where Lovano’s presence on saxes and woodwinds are no less profound. Together they form the foundation of one of the most creatively fruitful jazz careers of our generation.

Out in front. Six critic’s picks from Joe Lovano’s expansive Blue Note Records discography.

+ Joe Lovano with Gunther Schuller: Rush Hour (1995) – Drawing on material by Duke Ellington, Ornette Coleman, Charles Mingus and himself, Lovano teams with conductor and Third Stream pioneer Schuller for a variety of orchestral and chamber adventures.

+ Joe Lovano Trio: Trio Fascination – Edition One (1998) – A sumptuous sampler of trio tunes, from the hushed soul of Ghost of a Chance to the spacious swing of 4 on the Floor – all cut with the extraordinary bassist Dave Holland and the late, great Elvin Jones on drums.

+ Joe Lovano Nonet: 52nd Street Dreams (2000) – Utilizing an effortlessly warm and spirited tenor sax sound, Lovano fires up his Grammy winning nonet for a repertoire that leaps from Miles Davis to George Gershwin with spry arrangements by Willie “Face” Smith.

+ Joe Lovano Street Band: Viva Caruso (2002) – Jazz meets Pagliacci? A tropical tenor sax take on Santa Lucia? Such are the delights when Lovano tackles the repertoire of opera icon Enrico Caruso for a toast “from one great Italian tenor to another.”

+ Joe Lovano and Hank Jones: Kids (2007) – The ageless Hank Jones almost steals the show here. But Lovano creates intimate and animated dialogue with the pianist on this live recording of tunes by Rodgers and Hammerstein, Thelonious Monk and more.

+ Joe Lovano Us Five: Folk Art (2009) – A novel quintet lineup of piano, bass and two drummers ignites some of Lovano’s most satisfying compositions. Substitute bassist Cameron Brown for Us Five all-star Esperanza Spalding and you have the band that plays the Singletary on Saturday.

 On the side. Six sterling recordings featuring Lovano in a supporting and/or collaborative role.

+ John Scofield Quartet: Time On My Hands (1990) – Arguably the finest of Lovano’s recordings with guitarist Scofield (well, 1991’s Meant To Be and 1993’s What We Do were pretty cool, too). Bassist Charlie Haden and drummer Jack DeJohnette round out the fun.

+ ScoLoHoFo: Oh! (2003) – A wonderfully intimate all-star summit featuring Scofield, Lovano, bassist Dave Holland and drummer Al Foster. The gentle bluesy sparring of Lovano and Scofield on Right About Now typlifies the album’s grand sense of fun.

+ Pat Martino: Think Tank (2003) – Cut six months after Oh!, Think Tank mounts muscular swing from underrated guitar great Martino with help from Lovano, pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba, bassist Christian McBride and drummer Lewis Nash.

+ Paul Motian/Bill Frisell/Joe Lovano: I Have the Room Above Her (2005) – Drummer Motian’s long running trio with Lovano and guitarist Frisell has never sounded more spacious, warm and mysteriously atmospheric than on this sublime ECM recording.

+ Marc Johnson: Shades of Jade (2005) – Another great ECM outing with bassist Johnson fronting a band that again pairs Lovano with Scofield. But the gorgeous, hushed exchanges between tenor sax and pianist Eliane Elias on Apareceu turns Jade to gold.

+ McCoy Tyner: Quartet (2007) – A live recording led by piano titan Tyner. Hearing Lovano, bassist Christian McBride and drummer Tain Watts navigate the outageously majestic turns of the ‘70s Tyner masterwork Sama Layuca is pure joy.

New route for Macys parade

The Record (Bergen County, NJ) November 24, 2009

The Record (Bergen County, NJ) 11-24-2009 New route for Macys parade Date: 11-24-2009, Tuesday Section: NEWS Column: DID YOU KNOW For the first time since it stepped off in 1924, the Macys Thanksgiving Parade will not march along Broadway. Organizers had to find a new route when Broadway became a pedestrian zone, which prohibits floats and other vehicles.

First called the Macys Christmas Parade, the extravaganza started on 145th Street and made its way six miles down to Herald Square. For the first few years, animals from the Central Park Zoo were featured. site macys printable coupons

By 1927, Macys volunteers towed the first helium-filled balloons, which included Felix the Cat and were released at the end of the parade. They burst on the sharp edges of the New York skyline, so they were made stronger the following year. go to web site macys printable coupons

Since then, colossal replicas of cartoon and action characters have floated through skyscrapers, annually delighting 3 million spectators lining the streets.

A new sailor Mickey Mouse will appear this year, 75 years after his debut.

Floats were introduced in 1969 and are still made in a former Tootsie Roll factory in Hoboken. The floats, which can be up to 40 feet tall, fold up for the trip through the Holland Tunnel on Wednesday evening and are reassembled during the night on the Manhattan side.

The parade route was shortened in 1946 the first year it was televised locally to the popular Broadway path. It went on national television the following year and has since built an audience of 44 million viewers.

Illustrations/Photos: ***

the top 10 reasons to go see jean-luc ponty

In anticipation of Saturday’s performance by Jean-Luc Ponty at the Singletary Center for for the Arts, as well as a preface to a detailed interview we will feature here on Friday that was conducted recently with the jazz violin giant by phone from Paris, we offer this primer. Here we have, in chronological order, 10 albums spanning 40 years that detail the emotive depth, stylistic invention and sheer fun that make up the music of Jean-Luc Ponty.

+ Sunday Walk (1967) – Though not officially his debut recording, this expressive quartet session was widely viewed as Ponty’s international introduction. The band included pianist Wolfgang Dauner, who still performs duo concerts with Ponty.

+ King Kong (1969) – A wonderfully animated record devoted almost exclusively to the compositions of Frank Zappa that shifts from the wistful quartet reading of Idiot Bastard Son to the 20 minute Music for Electric Violin and Low Budget Orchestra.

+ New Violin Summit (1971) – A long out-of-print concert recording that lands Ponty squarely in fusion territory. Having Dauner, guitarist Terje Rypdal and prog rock hero Robert Wyatt on drums as a rhythm section enhances the electric spirit.

+ Visions of the Emerald Beynold (1975) – The final Mahavishnu Orchestra collaboration featuring Ponty and guitarist John McLaughlin. Hearing the two musically butt heads on Eternity’s Breath, Part 2 remains a beautifully fearsome experience.

+ Imaginary Voyage (1976) – A watershed fusion recording, Imaginary Voyage sported expansive compositions (the four part title tune), a solo violin work drenched in echo effects (Wandering on the Milky Way) and even a bluegrass/bop hit (New Country).

+ Cosmic Messenger (1978) – Arguably the finest and most popular of Ponty’s Atlantic albums, Cosmic Messenger was a tighter but denser exercise with layers of keyboards and guitars augmenting Ponty’s increasingly otherworldly violin sound.

+ Individual Choice (1983) – The first of two largely unaccompanied albums where Ponty created compositions dominated as much by synthesizers as violin. Among the very few guests: bass guitarist and future American Idol judge Randy Jackson.

+ Tchokola (1991) – A career changing album that unplugged Ponty from computers and sequencers in favor of grooves from Senegal, Cameroon and Nigeria. The album’s heavily West African cast is still reflected in Ponty’s live performances today.

+ The Rite of Strings (1995) – A summit featuring three of fusion music’s foremost celebs (Ponty, bassist Stanley Clarke and guitarist Al DiMeola) playing in an entirely acoustic setting. A 1975 Ponty fusion classic, Renaissance, becomes a perfect fit for the sessions.

+ The Acatama Experience (2007) – While guitar pals Allan Holdsworth and Philip Catherine make cameos, Acatama de-emphasizes guitar and electric playing for a gentler but no less absorbing sound. The unplugged solo piece Desert Crossing is a mind-blower.

Jean-Luc Ponty and His Band perform at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 14 at the Singletary Center for the Arts. Tickets: $25, $28 and $32. Call (859) 257-4929.


Post-Tribune (IN) April 6, 2007 THIS ELECTRONIC VERSION MAY DIFFER SLIGHTLY FROM PRINTED VERSION Alex’s Cafe Rating: HHH Price range: $ The fish buffet reels hungry diners in to Alex’s Cafe, housed in a converted schoolhouse in Hobart. Walleye, perch, shrimp and rainbow trout are among the featured fish on the buffet table, as are pierogi, Bourbon Street chicken, cevapi and more. Try to leave room for dessert.

7305 Grand Blvd., Hobart Phone: 942-2300 Fiesta Palace Rating: HHH Price range: $ A small restaurant inside a big building, Fiesta Palace has a small menu, but the food is big in taste and size. Tacos, burritos and Carne Asada, typical Mexican fare, are on the menu, as are some not-so-typical items such as the appetizer Queso Panela. Come with a hearty appetite, because portions are large.

6220 Broadway, Merrillville Phone: 887-3377 Amarillo Roadhouse Rating: HHH Price range: $ The promise of all-you-can-eat shrimp and buckets of free peanuts lure you into Amarillo Roadhouse in Schererville. Hefty servings of steak, chicken, seafood, sandwiches and more bring you back to this family-friendly restaurant. The baked sweet potato is a special treat.

1924 Indianapolis Blvd., Schererville Phone: 322-1142 Mia Cucina Rating: HHH Price range: $$ Located at Aberdeen in Valparaiso, this restaurant offers a variety of chicken and pork items and sandwiches, with pasta having the widest selection. Servings are generous and delicious, and be sure to leave room for dessert. Appetizers range from the basic bruschetta to the more unique tomato fondue.

210 Aberdeen Drive, Valparaiso Phone: 548-3300 Joey’s Seafood & Grill Rating: HHHH Price range: $$ Seafood says it all for Joey’s, as it’s offered in so many ways. Fish and chips, shrimp any way you want it, ocean fish, lobster and more seafood highlights the menu. Portions are healthy and entrees come with warm corn muffins and two sides. here carne asada marinade

936 Joliet St., Dyer Phone: 322-9595 Three Floyds Brewing Co. & Brewpub Rating: HHH1/2 Price range: $ While beer is a major draw to this location, the food is also good enough to make a return trip worthwhile. From half-pound sirloin burgers to brick-oven pizza, steaks to fish and chips, portions are hearty and cooked to order. Several unique sandwiches are offered too, so there’s lots of choice, all done well. Service is friendly and attentive.

9750 Indiana Parkway, Munster Phone: 922-4425 Northside Tap Rating: HHH1/2 Price range: $ This former restaurant, bar and hotel now only offers food and libations, but what it does is done well. Bar food is the theme, with burgers, sandwiches and munchies — like cheese sticks, onion rings and chicken tenders — the main attractions. Hot wings are popular, as is the Italian beef sandwich. Portions are huge and you order at the bar.

712 Calumet Ave., Valparaiso Phone: 465-0885 Baker’s House Bakery, Cafe and Catering Rating: HHHH Price range: $ This tiny house serves as cafe, bakery, caterer and gourmet food shop. Cafe offerings include sandwiches like pulled pork, turkey, tuna, chicken and more, to soups like broccoli cheddar. Breakfast foods are also abundant, with bagels, muffins, Danish, doughnuts and quiche. Many foods are available to take home as well.

6004 Miller Ave., Gary (Miller) Phone: 938-9931 Maxine’s Rating: HHHH Price range: $$$ Although billed as continental cuisine, the menu leans toward the Italian part of the continent. Pasta selections abound, with sauces ranging from olive oil to marinara to pesto. There are also entrees of steak, pork and seafood if pasta’s not your dish. All was well prepared and service was prompt and courteous.

521 Franklin St., Michigan City Phone: 872-4500 TJ’s Steakhouse Rating: HHH Price range: $$$$ This chic and intimate hideaway compares well to some of the best steakhouses in Chicago. While appe-tizers like escargot, blue point oysters and crab cakes are excellent, the steak entrees are expertly prepared. And the soup is divine.

777 Resorts Blvd., East Chicago Phone: 378-3330 El Salto Rating: HHHH Price range: $ One of three El Salto locations in Northwest Indiana, this newest site offers superb Mexican fare in the old Munster town hall building. Variety is the key here, with 30 combination plates, lots of dinner specials, house specials, special combinations and fajitas. Food is well presented, well served and well timed.

805 Ridge Road, Munster Phone: 836-0600 Dish Rating: HHHH Price range: $$$ Though located in a strip mall, this restaurant offers far more than standard fare. Daily specials are offered and can include such varied offerings as angel hair pasta, risotto, ribeye or mahi mahi. Menu entrees include steaks, pasta and seafood. Food and service are all first rate. here carne asada marinade

3907 N. Calumet Ave., Valparaiso Phone: 465-9221 Chuck & Irene’s Rating: HH1/2 Price range: $ This eatery is more bar than restaurant and serves up fare typically found at bars, including a long list of sandwiches — burgers, hot dogs, ham, sausage, etc. The daily menu features a couple of steak and taco choices. There are also daily specials, as well.

6110 Kennedy Ave., Hammond Phone: 844-9812 Bogie’s Restaurant and Bar Rating: HH1/2 Price range: $ The menu here features a long list of sandwiches, from Italian beef to British chicken, as well as burgers, pasta dishes and “homemade” favorites. Service is great and the food is fair.

391 W. U.S. 6, Valparaiso Phone: 764-1154 Naughty Grapes Rating: HHH1/2 Price range: $$ While the menu here is limited, what’s on it is done well. Entree offerings included Mediterranean chicken pasta, filet mignon, shrimp scampi, black-pepper seared salmon and sauteed tilapia. Seating is also limited in the main dining area, but a piano bar is available as well.

513 N. Main St., Crown Point Phone: 661-9002 Gentleman Tom’s Hideaway Rating: HHH Price range: $ This nearly hidden hideaway offers entrees like steaks, pork chops, ham, chicken and surf and turf, but only Wednesday through Saturday nights. On Tuesdays, it’s all-you-can-eat pizza for $3. Not just a slice or two of pizza, but a full 12-inch pie starts you off for a full night of eating.

5830 W. County Road 1250N, DeMotte Phone: 987-5186 El Charro Rating: HHHH Price range: $ Authentic Mexican dishes highlight the extensive menu here. Steak, chicken, pork and beef combination plates share space with shrimp and fish selections. Combination plates are served with rice and beans, and tortilla chips and salsa hit the table when you sit down.

5031 E. 81st Ave. (U.S. 30), Hobart Phone: 947-1737 Great Wall Buffet Rating: HHHH Price range: $ A wide variety of Szechuan, Hunan, Cantonese and Mandarin cuisine graces the buffet tables at this low-key eatery. All the food is hot, freshly prepared and tasty. Items range from egg drop soup to seafood to American fare.

5920 U.S. 6, Portage Phone: 763-7776 Popolano’s Edibles & Spirits Rating: HHHH Price range: $$ Tucked into a renovated, two-story home in Chesterton, this restaurant boasts mainly Italian food. Pizza, pastas and sandwiches highlight the entrees, with everything tasty and filling. A wide variety of martinis is also available for those in search of a tasty cocktail as well.

222 S. Calumet Road, Chesterton Phone: 926-5552 Akropolis Rating: HHH1/2 Price range: $$ Expect a culinary trip to the Greek isles during a visit here. Hot and cold appetizers start the meal, with choices ranging from octopus to saganaki (flaming cheese). Entrees include authentic Greek dishes like gyros, dolmades and spanakotiropita, as well as seafood and pasta.

275 Joliet St., Dyer Phone: 864-1889

bonus tracks with derek trucks

derek trucks

derek trucks

We offered the bulk of our recent interview with guitarist Derek Trucks over the last two days. But there were many insightful comments that didn’t make their way, mostly for space limitations, into the story. Here is the best of what got left behind:

On the 40th anniversary of The Allman Brothers Band and the group’s most recent string of spring concerts at New York’s Beacon Theatre: “It was great. We had Levon Helm, Taj Mahal, Buddy Guy, Johnny Winter, Eric Clapton, Chuck Leavell, Bonnie Bramblett – just some amazing guests. It was nice also that the band dedicated the whole Beacon run – this whole anniversary, really – to Duane (Allman, the band’s founding guitarist, who died in 1971). That’s fitting. I think he’d be pretty happy with the fact that his band has made it this long with so much integrity.”

On other Allman-related anniversaries this year: “It’s my 10th year in the Allman Brothers and the 20th anniversary of the 1989 reunion (the band had dissolved in 1982). It’s also been 20 years now for the band at the Beacon. And I turned 30 this year. Lots of anniversaries; lots of serendipity.

On the influence of vintage soul music on his new “Already Free” album: “I listened to as much Sly Stone and Bobby Womack as I did rock. That’s the music I grew up loving. Whether it was Otis Redding or Sam Cooke, it was all a huge influence. And so, it all comes out. I really think this record, more than any other I’ve done, is the most true to where we’re from. It really feels like an American record. Even further than that, it feels like a Deep South record. You can feel the moss on the trees and the tea colored water out back. The record has that vibe. It’s got all of the influences that are in our blood.

On recording with jazz piano great McCoy Tyner: “Within a few months I got to record with Richie Havens, Buddy Guy and McCoy Tyner. Three different worlds – but these are guys I respect immensely.  McCoy was really a trip, because in recording with him I was also stepping into a studio with (veteran jazz drummer) Jack DeJohnette and (equally esteemed bassist) Ron Carter. I felt like I was in that Sesame Street skit – you know, ‘one of these things is not like the other.’ But it was great. A few months after the recording session, I was playing a jazz festival with my band. McCoy was playing down the street at another venue at the festival, so I got to sit in for the last half of his set. That was just as much fun as the record. And I got the jazz treatment where you rehearse three tunes and go up onstage only to have the guys call three different tunes. It was still great – kind of a trial by fire, though.”

On his performance history in Lexington: “We had a lot of fun there for awhile. We were playing a club called Lynagh’s every year and had some great shows and great times there. We’re looking forward to coming back.”

bonus tracks with chuck leavell

chuck leavell

chuck leavell

Yesterday, we presented the bulk of our recent phone interview with Chuck Leavell as a feature story. But Leavell has such an extensive musical history and was up for talking about any corner of it that a lot of insightful comments had to be omitted due to space.

So here we have an extra: Leavell talking about areas of his musical life not touched upon in yesterday’s piece.

The catalyst for nearly all of these comments is a new concert album, Live in Germany. Leavell recorded it immediately after finishing a two-year tour as keyboardist for The Rolling Stones, the iconic band he has played with for over a quarter century.

Q: On Live in Germany, you play with what amounts to a pick-up band – players that had very little rehearsal time for music that effectively covers your entire career. Can you describe the challenge of whipping this much music into performance shape so quickly with musicians that were entirely new to you?

A: All I can say is the enthusiasm was high on everybody’s part. Once I heard these guys play, I just thought, ‘How lucky am I?’ These guys weren’t fooling around. For their part, though, I think they were looking for a break from their normal routine. Some of the guys work for the HR Big Band (the German ensemble that has collaborated with such disparate artists as Jack Bruce and Bill Frisell). So this was a chance for them to break out of their mold and play some different kinds of music. I needed them, they needed me and it all worked out.

Q: You perform a version of Georgia on My Mind on Live in Germany, which might be seen as a tribute to your adopted home state (Leavell is a native of Alabama). But wasn’t Ray Charles also a formative influence?

A: Without a doubt. When I was about 13, I went to a Ray Charles concert with my older sister. We had some Ray Charles records in our house growing up, so I was familiar with him. But I didn’t give all that much of a thought going to the concert. But when they cranked up… man, oh, man, was it was such an incredible band. He had (David) Fathead Newman on the sax. He had the Raelettes singing so well and beautifully. He had Billy Preston on Hammond B3. And then, of course, there was Ray himself. It was such a powerful experience. It just moved me. It moved me more than any music up to that point. That’s when I seriously started pursuing a career and started to look for better musicians to play with

Q: Live in Germany also includes Compared to What, the early ‘70s jazz and R&B hit popularized by Lexington native Les McCann. How influential to you was that song?

A: Listen, I remember so well when that Montreux record came out by Les McCann and Eddie Harris. Swiss Movement it was called. Listening to that whole record but especially Compared to What was huge for me There was a big ‘wow’ factor when I heard that. McCann’s voice, his piano playing and the song itself, a Eugene McDaniel tune… it all affected me heavily. There was such a cool groove to it. I debated a bit playing that because it’s almost sacred ground. But I just love that song so much and was in the company of musicians that I thought could do it justice.

Q: There are two tunes from your days with the Allman Brothers Band on Live in Germany. One is Jessica, the Dickey Betts instrumental from the Brothers and Sisters album. The Allmans cut that in 1973, when you first joined the band. What was it like playing Jessica with a new arrangement and a pack of younger musicians?

A: That’s a matter of attitude, a matter of your own mind. I get questions from people like, ‘How can you play Honky Tonk Women with the Stones so many times and not get tired of it?’ Or, ‘How can you play Satisfaction or Jumping Jack Flash so much?’ To me, it’s just a matter of approach. You go out like it’s the first time you ever played it. With Jessica, as you mentioned, I got to play it from a different angle with these guys using saxophone to play part of the melody line. That provides an opportunity to freshen things up. We also extended the breakdown prior to the piano solo to build the excitement in that part of the song. Look, man, it’s a joy to have worked on records that have stood the test of time. And certainly Jessica has. It’s great to be able to play it 35 years later.

Q: You are also a tree farmer, forestry expert and staunch environmentalist. With your wife Rose Lane, you run Charlene Plantation in Macon. When your life isn’t fully immersed in music, does throwing yourself into one of these jobs help refresh your perspective when it comes time to work on music again?

A: Absolutely. I spent two years on tour with the Rolling Stones, having that be the focus for that period of time. I then immediately followed it up with my own tour, which was a joy to do. But as you can imagine, I was ready for a change. So to get back home and focus on environmental issues and give to them whole heartedly was wonderful. Now, when I sit back down at the piano, it’s not like I just came off a show with the Stones. My mind has been elsewhere. I have a fresh perspective on the music again.

Chuck Leavell performs at 7 tonight for the WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour at the Kentucky Theatre. Tori Sparks will be the other featured guest. The taping is sold out.

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