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This week’s song comes about from one inescapable fact- Life goes on. Music is a huge part of my life, as evidenced by this blog, the shows I go to, even many of the friendships I’ve formed and kept over the years. I have enjoyed some truly exceptional music over the years. Here’s the thing though… bands age, musicians die (as we saw this past week with the passing of Asia & King Crimson’s John Wetton at just 67), and before you know it your playlists are occupied by ghosts.

This doesn’t make their music any less amazing or cease to touch my heart. However, over time one misses the anticipation of a new album from a favorite band and the excitement of a live act, especially an act introducing and passionately performing fresh music, not simply trotting out their greatest hits list. Mind you, I love the hits, bring on those classics. Still, with 2016 being such a devastating year for musicians (we just lost so damn many good ones) my dear concert-going friend, Michelle, and I came to one inescapable conclusion… we needed fresh meat. Time to find some new bands to augment our musical, metal storm of joy.

Turns out, that’s not so easy. The 1970’s produced some amazing hard rock, the 1980’s were the glory days of metal, and the 1990’s saw plenty of innovation. Nowadays, sure metal is being made, but less so than some other genres.

God bless northern Europe!

Power metal is enormously popular there. Thanks to strong concert attendance, merchandise sales, musical downloads, and a thriving festival scene (I so want to attend Wacken) bands can survive, even thrive. Consequently a number of bands are carving out impressive careers. So much so that they can afford to travel the United States. *huge grin* Last year Mitch (yes, I call her Mitch) and I went to see Delain, Nightwish, Blind Guardian, and Sonata Artica. (Not all on the same bill.) These bands are actively composing and touring with passionate, complex, melodic music.

I’m sharing with you a favorite, I Have A Right by Sonata Artica out of Finland. Yep, Finland. Man, do I love northern Europe. Thanks, guys.

This song was written about child abuse (as the video shows), but considering the vaudevillian antics of American politics I believe it works well for the rights of the American electorate. And that’s all I’m saying about that right now.

 Please enjoy their video here.

This post was written by Erika Gardner. She’s a native Californian, lifelong lover of fantastical adventures, and a dedicated Whovian. If you enjoyed it, please sign up to receive updates on www.erikagardner.com   Or you can follow Erika on Twitter @Erika_Gardner, “Like” her Facebook page Erika Gardner- Writer and Storyteller.Or check out her contributions to the BBB Blog.

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This week’s song might not make a lot of sense at first, but bear with me… yes, I KNOW it’s NOT Monday.

Over our kids’ Winter Break we visited Maui. We had a great time, but I have to admit… it’s getting harder to keep the kids’ attention. They are almost 18, almost 16, and almost 14. The siren songs of their peers, social media, and online video games call to them. You’d think that an island paradise with beautiful beaches, fabulous restaurants, amazing activities, and parents willing to spend money would at least TEMPT them, but not always.

Imagine my surprise when one of the best moments of the trip came as we were stuck in traffic south of Lahaina, trying to return to the Kaanapali Beach and our resort. Because we clearly weren’t going anywhere fast, we put David (our oldest) in charge of the radio. He treated us to some of his playlists.

My husband and I exchanged shocked glances when he busted out some favorites from the Disney Days… and not only did David and I sing, but his sisters and dad joined in– all of us singing at full voice. Words I didn’t even remember that I knew. Dorks. Happy dorks. A return to the days of cartoons, legos, crayons, and play-doh. Good times.

So for a little while in the traffic on Maui I had my babies back again- all of us, singing, badly, off key, but happy. A great vacation moment.

Here is the Colors of the Wind from the cartoon, Pocahontas. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

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Here we are on top of the world… dorky but happy! May all your vacations be as joyous!

This post was written by Erika Gardner. She’s a native Californian, lifelong lover of fantastical adventures, and a dedicated Whovian. If you enjoyed it, please sign up to receive updates on www.erikagardner.com   Or you can follow Erika on Twitter @Erika_Gardner, “Like” her Facebook page Erika Gardner- Writer and Storyteller.Or check out her contributions to the BBB Blog.

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This week’s song is No More Drama by Mary J. Bilge. Not metal, certainly, but an emotion laden, passionate song and I dig passion. Thankfully my day-to-day life contains little drama. As I’ve gotten older I find I have less and less time for it and for those individuals who flock to it—moths to its alluring but exhausting flame. There is too much I wish to do and too many people I’d love to spend my spare time with, time that I find more and more precious as the years slide by.

Years sliding by… that’s an excellent start to a central theme to this week’s post. Midlife crisis. When I was younger the words seemed a bit of a joke. Such a cliché, laden with images of men and women’s thickening middles and thinning hair. The specter of eyes losing their sparkle, and clothing just a bit out of step with the current trends. It brings echoes of ridiculous red sports cars and paramours far too young to be on the arm of their aging suitor… this dynamic applies equally to men and women these days. See, ladies, we’re breaking that glass ceiling bit by bit, even the gross parts.

I’m an optimist so I’m convinced I’m just hitting my midpoint, perhaps not even there yet. *big cheesy grin* This means I’m due to live to ninety-four, but hey, let’s go big, centurion style. You’re all invited to my 100th birthday party. Regardless, if I haven’t past the midpoint then I can see it. What’s more, the people around me can see it, too. A whole generation of crazy kids who can’t shake the feeling that somehow time has almost caught them. Though not old, there is a shared sense that we won’t be young forever.

Most of us are still attractive, we can catch someone’s eye. We feel good. In large part, we are healthy. Yet, looming in the back of our minds is an ugly thought: for how much longer? These are the years when a person needs to seriously take stock of their life. Are we ready for retirement? Have we chosen our friends wisely? Our careers? Our spouses? If there’s a dream to be fulfilled then are we truly chasing it? Or has it slipped beyond our grasp?

At the end of the day these all blend into the one big quandary… If in fact our days are finite then how do we want to spend the time allotted to us?

That’s where the song comes into play. (See how I circled back?) One of the decisions that has the biggest impact on anyone’s potential for happiness is who to spend that time with. For many that decision involves a partner, a spouse. I am both lucky and unlucky in that regard. I married an adorable, loving, hard-working man whom I’m crazy about. When we’re together it’s good, very good. Problem is, he is that hard-working guy and he takes his role as provider very seriously. Translation? He travels… a lot. So, that’s rough. I’m white-knuckling it until I can go with him or his circumstances change (ie retirement).

But I know I picked a good guy.

I’m watching very dear friends wrestle with their home situations. Some have already made the leap, while for others it’s only a matter of time. You can hear it in their voices, grieving for the death of a marriage they don’t even realize they’re leaving yet. In almost every single instance, I’m convinced it’s the right choice for both partners. The drama, the continual bad news, the sadness that permeates these households is not good. Not for the spouses, not for the kids, not even for the pets. Marriage is work. It is commitment. It is compromise and sacrifice. But not this much sacrifice. Not this much ugliness. Not you and your spouse bringing out the very worst in one another.  The road from point A to point B is long and will suck, but I hope it leads to happier times. And there’s that word again. Time.

Time is short and precious. Our days are numbered whether we recognize the fact or not. Make them good days. No more drama, no more pain. Sing it, Mary.

So you’re having a mid-life crisis? Good for you! I hope you are finding a way to make your life worthwhile, a road to happiness for yourself and for those near and dear to you.

Lyrics to No More Drama by Mary J. Blige

So tired, tired of these drama
No more, no more
I wanna be free
I’m so tired, so tired
Broken heart again
Another lesson learn
Better know your friends
Or else you will get burn
Gotta count on me
Cause I can guarantee
That I’ll be fine
No more pain (no more pain)
No more pain (no more pain)
No drama (no more drama in my life)
No one’s gonna make me hurt again
What a player fool
Go through ups and downs
Nowhere and all the time
You wouldn’t be around
Or maybe I like the stress
Cause I was young and restless
But there was long ago
I don’t wanna cry no more
No more pain (no more pain)
No more game (no more game messin with my mind)
No drama (no more drama in my life)
No one’s gonna make me hurt again
No more tears (no more tears, I’m tired of cryin’ every night)
No more
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This post was written by Erika Gardner. She’s a native Californian, lifelong lover of fantastical adventures, and a dedicated Whovian. If you enjoyed it, please sign up to receive updates on www.erikagardner.com   Or you can follow Erika on Twitter @Erika_Gardner, “Like” her Facebook page Erika Gardner- Writer and Storyteller.Or check out her contributions to the BBB Blog.

Let’s face it. The news has not been good. I wish to be clear on my politics:

  • The news makes me cry. Just about every day now it seems.
  • I support our brave police forces. They lay their lives on the line every day. I thank them and salute them.
  • I believe black lives matter- yes, they all matter, but if I’m a mother of a black child… I’m a little more nervous. And rightly so.
  • I want to be informed, but the information I glean hurts.

This past weekend my sweetie and I went to a wedding. It was the marriage of two people I’d never met. The groom works with my boy. I like the groom. I like the bride. It was a delightful gathering with fun people. We danced. I adore dancing.

Before we go any further… I have to say… these are LOVELY people. I mean really, lovely. And I thank them from the bottom of my heart. Thank you, Heather and Brent, for reminding me of what humanity’s greatest defense against hate, intolerance, and flat-out idiocy has always been…

LOVE. KINDNESS. COMPASSION.

Every day people living every day lives… opening a door, giving a hug, smiling while making eye-contact. We survive because of a shared warmth, a community, and desire to better ourselves.

Heather and Brent- As your song, your first dance played, I immediately teared up. I had not yet met you, but I felt a profound connection with you. And that’s our shared connection… that’s humanity. And that is why we’ll get better, we’ll do better. The news has been dark before but we have survived, even thrived. We will do so again… so long as we have someone to Lava

Go… Hug someone…I mean it! Go….listen and find someone to Lava.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uh4dTLJ9q9o

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This post was written by Erika Gardner. She’s a native Californian, lifelong lover of fantastical adventures, and a dedicated Whovian. If you enjoyed it, please sign up to receive updates on www.erikagardner.com   Or you can follow Erika on Twitter @Erika_Gardner, “Like” her Facebook page Erika Gardner- Writer and Storyteller.Or check out her contributions to the BBB Blog.

 

2016 has already proven to be the year of the dead rock star. Especially if you happen to be a male, say 68-72. We’ve lost some greats: David Bowie, Glenn Frey, Dale Griffin, Paul Kantner, Natalie Cole, Maurice White, and, this one hits closest to home, Jimmy Bain, long time bassist to Rainbow and Ronnie James Dio. My blog threatens to become an obituary column, which I NOT want, yet how can we allow these greats to pass without a note?

Friday, as I eagerly looked forward a superb evening with my dear friend Michelle (aka “Mitch”) which entailed a dinner out and a concert, translation food, wine, and heavenly music, I heard yet another piece of terrible news. Keith Emerson died.

Three words, but unless you are a music fan, geek, aficionado such as myself, you can’t know the pathos laden in those sixteen letters. Keith Emerson is likely the greatest keyboard player of our time. No, he is, or was, that good. I remember seeing Yes (many times) with my amazing friend and college roommate, Jim. Rick Wakeman’s keyboard skills amazed me to such an extent that I said, “Surely, he has to be the best there is?” Jim turned to me and said, “No, because Keith Emerson exists.”

It was a couple of years until I got to see Emerson one summer night at Cal Expo in Sacramento, CA. At the time he played in Emerson, Lake and Palmer. However, my favorite lineup remains the Emerson, Lake and Powell- they rocked a bit harder. Substitute the perennial Carl Palmer  for the late, lamented Cozy Powell (awesome drummer!!!). Five minutes into the show, I remember turning to Jim and saying, “Because Keith Emerson exists.” Jim smiled. “Yep,” he said.

Sample Emerson on the piano here.

And that pretty much summed it up. Keith Emerson towered above the other rock keyboardists of the century. As good as they were, and some are VERY good, Alan Parsons, Jens Johansen,the above mentioned Rick Wakeman, Jon Lord, Rod Argent, Mark Kelly, and Tony Banks among others. If you were unfortunate enough to miss his time, Google it- you’ll see.

The song everyone knows even if they don’t realize it, Lucky Man.

To top sadness off with tragedy, Emerson shot himself. One bullet to the head. He was 71. I don’t know what demons he fought, the dragons he failed to slay. I only know that the world is bleaker for his passing. Music lights our lives, inspires us to seek the road ahead, and coaxes us to dream anew.

My personal favorite Emerson tune (originally Emerson, Lake & Powell)

So Mitch and I sat at dinner, with our very nice bottle of wine and toasted to the genius, the amazing proficiency, passion, and gift that Emerson brought to rock. There was mourning as well to be sure. But if you have to lose someone so great, an artist of such power then at least have the right way to honor him. For Michelle and I after we toasted the man we went to a concert. We saw Nightwish, a band from Finland whose keyboardist, Tuomas Holopainen, comes from the neo-classical, power rock tradition that the great man so loved.  Hearing one Emerson’s heirs on stage? Well, it wasn’t the man himself but the passion lived on.

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We listened to metal with a driving keyboard edge, metal that owed something to Keith Emerson’s genius and followed his tradition. Click here for a sample of Tuomas Holopainen’s solos.

Keith Emerson- R.I.P. Much love.

 

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This post was written by Erika Gardner. She’s a native Californian, lifelong lover of fantastical adventures, and a dedicated Whovian. If you enjoyed it, please sign up to receive updates on www.erikagardner.com   Or you can follow Erika on Twitter @Erika_Gardner, “Like” her Facebook page Erika Gardner- Writer and Storyteller.Or check out her contributions to the BBB Blog.

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