Sunday February 11, 2007



Today was more of a domestic day. In the morning, I stumbled across the "Unedited Purple Rain" audio and I had to check it out. Most of the edits that Prince made were the best thing to do but that full 11+ minute version of "Computer Blue" is amazing. And I still think that "God" should come after "Darling Nikki" as it was meant. You know I'll be making my own edit of the album now!

In the morning I talked to Grandma. For those of you who think it never happens, we had a major disagreement on how to proceed with her "situation". The difference in me and "them" is I'm not going to give her an ultimatum. I'm going to let her make the final decision. I have the faith in her that she'll eventually make the right decision even if it doesn't look like it. We'll see.

After that, I decided to put together a Fleetwood Mac Video & Live Anthology DVD. As far as I know, none exists. I had some files on a backup drive, simply threw 'em together and hit "burn". Then I went and did grocery shopping. A while later, I had a great one-of-a-kind DVD. I wound up watching the whole friggin' thing. I couldn't resist. It was relaxing.

In the evening, I watched the GRAMMYs. I almost wish that I hadn't wasted the time but I felt like I had to partially because I voted for the first time this year.

The broadcast was fairly dull. The so-called surprise Police reunion was nice to see if not as inspiring as it could've been but the rest was even more lame than usual. How many performances did Justin Timberlake have? What's with the attempt to be American Idol in the middle of the show? And how long does anyone need to pay tribute to The Eagles who aren't even nominated for anything? (Oh wait - they were paying tribute to Don Henley...yeah, right!) The most ludicrous thing to me was when that Rascal Flatts dude sounded like he was singing "Warm smell of Cletus rising up through the air." I couldn't help but shout at the TV, "It ain't about your redneck pal in the backseat, bo." At least it was a laugh. The only thing that I thought was truly great was Mary J. Blige's performance. She knows how to do it. Christina Aguilera's "It's A Man's, Man's, Man's World" was also good but someone needs to tell the girl to ANUNCIATE! I also was able to tolerate John Mayer's performance. Again - it's good to see guitar being appreciated. The biggest disappointment was a totally lackluster closing performance by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I've seen these guys repeatedly and I know what they can do. This, by comparison, was more like a rehearsal with lots of confetti.

And just for the record, this was my first year that my vote was counted for the GRAMMYs and I acknowledge that I'm partially to blame if you think the winners weren't the right ones. And yes, I did vote for the Dixie Chicks in many of their winning categories. I did it not necessarily because the songs is that great but because it was better and more deserving than the competition. I'm glad they won. So there. It's about time Rick Rubin got his production awards too.

Still, I must say that I'm glad that I didn't go to L.A. for it. I considered it. I had my invite from N.A.R.A.S. This is the first time that I was invited. It was tempting. My friends Daniel and Brandy went. We talked about all going together. Instead, I stayed home. I don't know if we'd have the band solidifying if I'd been preparing to go to L.A. and then been gone this weekend.

I don't know if I believe that everything has its purpose but at the moment, as things seem to be falling into their proper places, it's hard not to accept it as fact.




Saturday February 10, 2007

I got a phone call from Mike this morning. He let me know that he finished working on his mix of "An Uncertain Flight". I'm looking forward to hearing it. He also wanted to know if we needed him to come up for rehearsal. I told him that I wasn't sure what was going on but I'd let him know as soon as I know something. That's the truth. I didn't know at the time. You know, Mike's got a lot of crazy stuff swirling around him right now. I hope he can put some distance between himself and the problems soon. He's so talented and it's hard for me to see him not being utilized like he should be. As always, I wish it could've worked for us but we waited as long as we could (plus a year) and that's not counting the other bands we've attempted. I still say he needs to get into a market (like Athens or where ever) and join an established band. He's one of the best.

Besides talking to Mike, I had to get that Marshall Crenshaw pic resed up and sent out. It was relatively easy. When I looked at the original pic, I was shocked that I was able to get anything usable out of that shoot. I had to do a bit of work on the image. The original was mostly red and dull. Under the circumstances, I think I worked minor miracles on it.

Then it was off to practice. We wanted to go back in and see if the other night with Josh was a freak thing. We logged in a 3-hour rehearsal at Nuci's today but before we played a single note, I asked him if he really wanted to jump into this ocean that we call the Critical Darlings. I let him know how demanding it would be and I expressed the difficulty of it all. He made it clear that he wanted the gig. I told him that if he wanted it and was sure that he could do what the job entailed, he's got the gig.

It was that simple. I believe the Critical Darlings are now a quartet. The official announcement is forthcoming.

Josh Couillard - drums
Frank De Freese - bass
Chris McKay - vocals, guitar
Joe Orr - guitar, vocals

Yep - that looks good. All we have to do is sink our teeth into it and I believe this will absolutely be the definitive lineup. Of course, there's at least one other drummer who I really would like to work with. I may get in touch with him to work with me on some side project stuff. Overall, I must say that Josh fits in best overall. He doesn't fit in visually as well as Dave. He doesn't hit as hard as JB. But there's something Darling about him. I believe he's our man. Wish him (and us) luck as we begin this new adventure.

"The trip has just begun, my willing friend."

We began the adventure with a REAL practice. It wasn't as fun and off the cuff as the other night but it was a strong beginning. I can't even describe all that we attempted today. I know we did "Colors In Black & White", "Until The Road Ends", "Sometimes I'm Sam", "I Won't Stand Still", "Phony", "Scared Of Myself", "The Only Way", "Waiting For The Siren", "Sadder Day", "Goodbye Tuesday", "Towel Cape Song", "I Know Too Much (For My Own Good)" and several more. Not bad for a "first practice".

I remember spending some time working out the extra-difficult ones, too. When I showed Josh the required beat flip in "(Save It For) Another Day", he just looked at me and said "You're going to make me have to practice, aren't you?". Oh yeah - we don't just want the beat. We want THE BEAT. We also worked on "Give Up Town" and "Down" in detail. It was hilarious hearing Frank, Joe and Josh doing the rocking part without me while I worked out the drumming details. Without my part, the rock part sounded like Yes or something. I couldn't help but laughing. I had no idea that a progressive beast was underneath my chords. For the first time in history, we also pulled out "Tonight Never Happened" with all electric instruments. I had the idea to have Frank feedback in key for the intro. I didn't know that it would be so massive and overwhelming sounding. Add in Joe's harmonics instead of the "organ part" and you have a very different sounding intro. It's cool, though. I may prefer it. I think this may wind up a center piece of the show. It's hard to tell until we air it out but it's definitely much more than it ever has been.

Oh yeah - we attempted "I'll Be Fine", too. To my surprise, Josh didn't even have any trouble sliding in and out of the 7/8 solo despite the fact that he hadn't heard the song yet. I can't wait 'til he hears it and we actually know it. Joe also added a beautiful arpeggio part that made me think of Robert Plant's original solo guitarist Robbie Blunt.

Here's the bottom line. Whether or not anyone else gets it or cares, The Critical Darlings are going to be an amazing band. My goal is to be the best band in Athens in 6 months (no small task when you see who our competition is) and for everyone in Athens to KNOW that we're the best band in Athens in 12 months. From there, who knows? By then, we should have a new, even better album available.

I cannot wait to watch it unfold.

There's nothing like working hard, believing and pushing yourself only to see it begin to flower. That's happening now.

When I got home, Amanda had an urge to go to Cracker Barrel (not a favorite of mine but I was willing to try it again). We went. She had a great dinner. Mine was (ahem) edible. I noticed my heart rate going a little irregular as I'm still not back up to full yet. I decided to experiment. I took a potassium pill. Within 15 minutes, everything had regulated. I wonder if a potassium deficiency has been part of my problem. If it is, that's easy to fix. Of course, that made me wonder if that would've helped my Dad. It's easy to let my mind wander and think that maybe if he would've had a simple, over-the-counter potassium pill that he might be alive today. It's hard to decide whether it makes me feel better or worse that something so simple might've made a difference. I couldn't let myself dwell on it as it doesn't matter least not in regards to my Dad.

In the evening, I decided to relax and hit some bootlegs. Amanda and I first watched part of a Bowie compilation. It had some truly rare pieces. I never knew there was a video for "Let Me Sleep Beside You". Seeing Bowie so young and before he figured out his character is a great lesson. You can watch him develop in compilations like this. There's also footage of him winning a glorified battle of the bands with a little tune called "Space Oddity". We watched up 'til about '77. There was a killer version of "Heroes" with a mix that I've never heard. I prefer it. We stopped there to make time for a full-length show. I decided I'd watch Jimi Hendrix's Atlanta, GA appearance on July 4, 1970 at the Atlanta Pop Festival.

It's so amazing to see something like that and realize that Atlanta had something so massive and important. It's even cooler when I realize that I've actually worked with the guy that put it together (Alex Cooley). How does that festival not measure up to the likes of Woodstock, Monterey, Altamont or heck, at least the US Festival? I guess it's because it was in Georgia instead of New York or California. Still, 400,000 people showed up on that Independence Day to hear a bill that included Jimi Hendrix, Procol Harum, B.B. King, Captain Beefheart, The Chambers Brothers, Mountain, Ginger Baker's Air Force, Richie Havens, John Sebastian, Jethro Tull, Ten Years After, Ravi Shankar, Spirit, Poco, Rare Earth, Bob Seger, Mott The Hoople, Grand Funk Railroad and many others. And heck, that was the second one! The one in '69 beat Woodstock by a full month and featured Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin, Chuck Berry, Blood Sweat & Tears, Canned Heat, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Delaney & Bonnie, Joe Cocker, Johnny Rivers and a slew of other ones. I guess it figures that no one would remember those amazing shows outside of the area now. No one ever gave Music Midtown the respect it deserved and it drew about the same amount of people every year for over a decade. I experienced about 5 of them (the last few as a staff photographer) and hope every year that it'll be back.

To me, watching this Hendrix show reminded me once again of that connection between a great performer and their audience. It's too bad that so few current artists have those golden threads shooting out of them and into each individual fan that Hendrix had.

To paraphrase the great (if debatably true) John Adams legend,

"At least Prince still lives..."




Friday February 9, 2007



Well, as of today, I've had a chance to talk to all of the guys about the drummer situation. I feel like we're on the verge of that new day that we kept hoping would come. I could be wrong but I doubt it. Things are starting to feel good again after a long drought.

I got a last minute request today from Marshall Crenshaw's organization to use an image of mine for a poster for him. I'm not particularly proud of these images (bad lighting, grainy shots, etc.) but according to his publicist I have the only pictures that he likes and is willing to use! What a compliment! It's particularly cool coming from Marshall Crenshaw. You may know him from playing Buddy Holly in La Bamba. Or from being John Lennon in Beatlemania. Or from playing the music teacher on The Adventures Of Pete & Pete. I will always think of him as the brilliant and underrated solo artist that brought "Someday Someway" to the world in addition to so many other great pop songs. If you click here, you can see the pic that I took of him that he wants to make a poster. It's the first one up of him. Be sure to notice who wrote the live review that accompanies the pics. I still say Tom Bavis and I made a great team.

Q-Sign / Star Zero guitarist Andy Ainsworth and I had an email chat today too. He's thinking of coming in to spend next Saturday night with me just to catch up. It's been a long time and it's always fun when he does it. I need to introduce him to the new kid in town while he's here!

Oh yeah - I also uploaded a slew of songs to Broadjam that weren't previously there. There are several old Q-Sign recordings, at least one Star Zero and some demos that I've posted. I use Broadjam to submit my stuff to industry wants and some of those old songs fit better. I might as well license those suckers if I can, no? Click here to check out what's been upped.




Thursday February 8, 2007





More signs of advancement on the band front came today. It looks like that deal with Side B Music for C'mon, Accept Your Joy may be happening after all. When I didn't feel like we could properly live up to our share of the deal last year, I nixed it. Jerry and I got back in touch coincidentally this week. We had a talk and it looks like it may go ahead. It'll be a little later than planned but it will happen at the right time!

I also heard about Anna Nicole Smith. What a shame. Not only because of her newborn daughter not having a mother anymore but because all of those jokes won't be as funny. So - is it me or does anyone else suspect Howard K. Stern of the methadone related deaths of Anna's son and her? I know - autopsy results aren't back yet but I've a feeling that they'll find methadone in her, too. And I've a feeling that I know where she got it from.

Yep - having all of those millions and no son to inherit it means that whoever is the father of that newborn daughter stands to gain the dough. Talk about motive! No wonder "real fathers" keep coming out of the wood work. What a sad story.



Wednesday February 7, 2007




You're kidding right? I hear that people are complaining now that Prince's performance at the Super Bowl was "too suggestive". 20 years ago, I'm sure it would've been...even 10 years ago. But since his Jehovah's Witnessing, it's not a possibility - at least not in the way these people are saying. Look, just because a guitar's longer than it is wide does not a phallus make. The minds that believe that was the intent need to have their minds a little better examined. I bet those people don't even realize that Prince sang one of the most Christian pop songs in history. You'd think they'd be glad that he pulled off that coup. Yes, that's right. If you didn't realize it, "purple rain" is forgiveness. Listen to the rest of the lyrics and it will all coalesce. "Let me guide you to the purple rain" indeed!

I heard the first results from the recording sessions for Atlanta band Standalone today. While their style isn't my thing, I've got to say that the recordings are exactly what they need. They sound mainstream and big budget. Everyone involved did a great job. Even more intriguing to me is that their point man is set up to be ours for Satisfactionista. ("It's getting better all the time...") So yeah - good things are coming. All we have to do is make it to 'em.

My day centered around an appointment with an ENT. It was a follow-up on my condition despite the fact that I hadn't seen him before. His diagnosis? Well, he said I didn't have "classic Meniere's", which I've been previously diagnosed as having. What he had to say made perfect sense. He diagnosed it as labyrinthitis. Considering all that happened, I buy it. He didn't say that I didn't have Meniere's. He simply said that's not the problem here and that if I do have it, it's a bit different in me. Of course, if you look at the two, you can see how easily they can be confused.

They also did my first real audiogram / hearing test in a long, long time. I've been kind of scared to get one after all of the shows I've worked and played. I shouldn't have worried. Granted, my tinnitus is still a monster but it is one that I loosed on myself by not wearing earplugs when I started going to concerts so young. They did an ear test and then a skull / inner ear hearing test. The results were consistent with each other. That means that my tinnitus / aural nerve damage is permanent and that hearing won't come back. That's the bad news. The good news is that I apparently have no actual, substantial hearing loss. It just seems like I do because the ringing is so loud that it drowns out other sounds in between the 4-6 khz frequencies. The audiologist seemed particularly surprised when I asked her if I should raise my hand at the beeps that I couldn't actually hear but could tell were happening. She stopped to ask me about it. I explained that while I couldn't hear the beep, I could hear a type of oscillation in the tinnitus that isn't usually there. That's how I could tell when it was making a sound even though I couldn't hear it. I guess that explains how I can often "hear" sounds that no one else can despite the fact that there are sounds that others can hear that I can't. I remember when we tracked the Q-Sign record that there was a sound that drove me crazy in the second verse of "Scared Of Myself". No one else could hear it and everyone told me to leave it alone. I insisted that in mastering it be fixed. Guess what. They put the audio signals on the computer and voila! It showed on the visual reading of the sound. So even though no one but me could hear it, they removed it by seeing it. That lead to the studio version of "Scared Of Myself" that you still hear to this day.

In the evening, Frank, Joe and I got together for another drummer audition. If truth be told, it only took the intro and first verse of our first song ("Towel Cape Song") to feel something happening. That's the first time I've felt something like that during these series of auditions. His name's Josh Couillard and while I can't say what's going to happen yet, I will definitely say that Josh is a strong contender right off to bat. After we played "Towel Cape", he did so well that I figured I'd put him to the test. So we pulled out the brand new "Sadder Day". I explained what I was going for and what we wanted. I started it and he nailed it. It sounded like a band. He hit the transitions, knew where fills should be without me telling him and most importantly, knew where to leave space. From there, the rehearsal was a free-for-all. We did "Sometimes I'm Sam", "Waiting For The Siren", "Into My View", "Colors In Black & White" (with all transitions nailed with my hand cues), "Taking Its Toll" (which he said he could play 10 times in a row if we wanted - it rocked!), "Until The Road Ends" (which felt different and more powerful), "Phony", "Goodbye Tuesday", "The Only Way", and on and on. We got a lot done during our time. We even sidetracked a little bit. After talk of the Van Halen "reunion", we ran through jams of "Dance The Night Away", "Panama" and a full rendition of "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love" that I didn't even know we knew! None of us could believe when the time was up. I broke a sweat tonight for the first time from playing rock and roll in a long time. We were rocking.

We're still supposed to have a couple of get togethers with others but I'd be lying if I was to say anything other than that I have a very strong feeling about Josh.

When I got home, Amanda asked me how it went. I replied "We may have found our drummer". After my usual answers to that question, she was shocked (but probably not as shocked as me).



Tuesday February 6, 2007








A piece of my day was spent editing and uploading my pics of Dierks Bentley and Cross Canadian Ragweed. If you want to see the pics, click here for the Ragweed shots and here for the ones of Dierks Bentley.

I can't believe it's been almost 2 months since my last actual shoot.

I'm torn right now between wanting to jump back in with both feet or holding out some more. I'm getting so much of the rest of my life caught up and in order that I think holding off for a little longer may serve everything in the best least for the long run. There's a nagging voice that keeps telling me that.

This is my sabbatical as it were. I needed the time. I needed it to see what was happening around me, to figure out where I actually am and where I'm going instead of always focusing on where I have to be. This is good. I'd still rather it have not been forced on me by a miserable illness but now that I'm getting over it, I'm finding a real purpose in the alleged downtime.

Tonight, I finished up watching a Led Zeppelin concert from Seattle in 1977 that I started at some point over the weekend. Geez, those guys played forever. It's a 2-DVD set and I started the second one tonight. In the first HOUR of the second half, there was only about 8 minutes of song. The rest was solos. Of course, the "Achilles Last Stand" / "Stairway To Heaven" double shot alone tend to make you forget the overkill. What a band!



Monday February 5, 2007

This is country star Dierks Bentley after his run-in with Delilah. With this hair style, he hardly even looks like the same guy. At least I got some of the first shots of "the haircut" tonight!



Okay, so Van Halen is reuniting with David Lee Roth but not Michael Anthony. Well, it may be Van Hal but it ain't Van Halen. Have you ever thought about those early hits? I've said it before and I'll say it again. Michael Anthony's harmony vocals were as distinctive and important as anything else in that band. Sing "Dance The Night Away" in your head. Or "Jamie's Crying". Or "Panama". If you sing any of those choruses, you're probably singing Michael's part. Oh well. Whatever. It really seems that Edward Van Halen is determined not to satisfy anything but his ego. I'm sure Wolfgang Van Halen (Ed's son) will be perfectly serviceable on bass. Heck, he may even be amazing. It doesn't matter. Having Billy Sheehan join Van Halen wouldn't improve the original formula, much less Wolfgang. If you're going to "reunite", we want the original quartet. You know, an actual reunion. That being said, I'll be at the show if I get a chance but still...

And by the way, if you've been paying attention to my listings over the last 6 months or so, you already knew this (and The Police and Genesis reunions) was going to happen.

What? You say you want some more bold predictions?


I predict that Courtney Love will make a remarkable and critically acclaimed comeback within the next 6 months. Let's see if she can not only do that but make it stick.

Whitney Houston's also going to come back and tear up the charts.

I guess I can't predict The Police anymore since they've let the secret slip. Still, I think I mentioned it here a while ago. I believe that The Police reunion tour will outsell the Van Halen reunion tour by at least 2 to 1...maybe 4 to 1.

And to make a longer term prediction, I believe Robert Plant and Alison Kraus are going to take on the 2008 GRAMMYs and win a slew of them. I haven't heard any of the duets they're working on in Nashville but I don't have to hear 'em. Mark my words.

Speaking of comebacks, I'm glad to see that people are all agog over Prince's Super Bowl appearance last night. Was it the best ever? That figures. I was supposed to be there photo'ing this year but decided not to go since Amanda's and my health have slowly been getting better after that crash around New Year. I don't want to slow down the recovery. Still - I could've photo'd Prince twice this week, once at the press conference and at the half-time event. I'll be kicking myself about it forever since he'll probably NEVER let us photo at a show.

As for me, I haven't seen the performance from last night yet. I'll check it out. I doubt it'll hold the impact for me that his Saturday Night Live performance of "Fury" did from last year but I'm sure it'll be cool. I'm especially glad that people are recognizing him as a guitar player. I think that's always been tragically overlooked. He's probably my favorite major guitar player out there right now. I'm glad he decided to school 'em all and that some actually paid attention.

Oh wait - this is a diary. What did I do today?

Well, I got a last minute invite from Velena at the 40 Watt Club to come out and cover a rare club appearance from country star Dierks Bentley and opener Cross Canadian Ragweed. This is one of those shows that's so exclusive that they can't even put it on the calendar because otherwise, they'd be overwhelmed. I decided to come out of my self-imposed semi-retirement and do it. Joe decided to come along. It was good to be able to introduce him to a lot of the 40 Watt staff. Hopefully, they'll get to know each other well over the next little while.

As for the show, Cross Canadian wasn't nearly as rocking as the last time I saw them but they were alright. I couldn't say I was impressed but I enjoyed enough of what they were doing. After they were finished, I went backstage to get the trade shot with Dierks, Barrie and Velena from the 40 Watt, the promoter and Cody from Cross Canadian. This being my first time back out, I was occasionally reminded that I still wasn't quite ready by the way the room would occasionally start moving when I wasn't. I was a bit weird and disorienting but I got through without letting on too much. The worst part was when I was in an extended conversation with Velena, Cody from Cross Canadian and his wife/manager. I really felt off. I had to keep checking my balance. I'm glad that no one seemed to notice. Cody was a cool guy. He and Velena talked about getting them back out and if they do it, I'll do my best to be there. Oh - and Dierks was completely accommodating and nice to me as well.

By the time I got back out front, Dierks had started the first song. was about as generic as it gets. Still, the ladies squealed and the guys rebel yelled like this was it. It was not it for me. But I wasn't taking it nearly as hard as Joe. It actually seemed to make him angry. I think it's safe for me to say that Joe did not like Dierks. I felt bad for him so I got out as soon as I thought I had enough shots. I think I only shot 3 songs. When we got into the car, Joe was still railing. Dierks was not nearly as bad as Joe was expressing but I've gotta say - the part I saw was mediocre at best.

All this said to me was that I have to take Joe to more shows. He needs to see first hand what's working in 2007. Then we'll be better equipped to come out and crush all of it when our time arrives.

Click here for last week with more auditions and the beginning of the end of the long drought and alleged disappearance...