James
07 January 2012 @ 03:56 pm

Originally published at jamesrsutton.net. You can comment here or there.

When I was about 12-13 years old, we lived in Bonners Ferry, Idaho on the “Jay And Bee”, a ranch specializing in Angus beef and hay farming. Owner Bob Neumeyer for some reason decided it was a good idea to let me drive his work trucks around the ranch and help him with chores that I could handle. If memory serves, both trucks were early 80s Chevrolet C/K model pickups, one a brown and tan dually and the other a red and white fleetside. In one of the trucks was a working 8-track player along with copies of Van Halen I and II.

That time was important for me because not only was I barely a teenager and driving, I also succumbed to the charms of hard rock music for the first time in my life. (This was around the time I originally got into The Police, but before ever hearing Rush.) I believe it was during this time that my life-long passion for music began and Van Halen was definitely a contributing factor.

Although I do enjoy a couple of the Van Halen records with Sammy Hagar, the VH magic was only really there during the David Lee Roth days in my opinion. The fact that the boys have managed to get things together and put aside differences for a new album and tour really makes me happy.

Below is a video posted at vhnd.com of the band playing a song from the new album at a gig in NYC this week. The sound quality and mix is poor but it’s good enough to know what we’re in for. For the first time in Van Halen history, I am actually impressed by the bass playing. With Dave back in the band and Wolfgang on bass, Van Halen has my full attention once again.

 
 
 
James
01 January 2012 @ 10:07 pm

Originally published at jamesrsutton.net. You can comment here or there.

In our basement is a pool table that up until recently, was covered in stuff and unused for well over 25 years. Having a proper, 9′ pool table in my place of residence has been a dream of mine since I was a boy. To me, having such a beautiful table ignored and wasting away like that was absolutely criminal.

From what we’ve worked out, this table appears to be a 1940s Victor “Atlas” model complete with a brilliantly designed ball return.

Here are some photos of the table before anything was done to it. Notice the complete set of very cool, yet unusable clay balls:


The original and moldy green felt was replaced with new felt in dark charcoal, the cushions all the way around were replaced, and the rotting pocket liners were replaced with black liners. The old clay balls were also replaced with a set of Belgian Aramith Premium balls. The lights I installed over the table are $15 pendant lights from IKEA.

Thanks to the amazing hard work and assistance of many people in our family (you know who you are), along with the very friendly staff at Cagle’s Billiards, we now have a gorgeous and incredible playing billiards table in our home. This is very much a dream come true indeed.


 
 
 
James
16 December 2011 @ 07:51 pm

Originally published at jamesrsutton.net. You can comment here or there.

I agree with reviews I’ve read that say this year’s Jewbelation anniversary ale is the best yet.

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Shmaltz Brewing from Saratoga Springs, NY has brewed the Jewbelation annually beginning with their eighth year. It contained eight different hops, eight different malts, and an ABV at 8%. We’re up to fifteen now and I’m impressed with just how mellow this ale has become.

Although there are fifteen of each, the malts really dominate the hops here. With the 15% ABV, I expected a big alcohol presence and I did get a little alcohol bite in the nose initially. But once I tasted it, it was all about the smooth maltiness.

I found a bomber at my local shop for just $5.99. It’s a proper, affordable seasonal that all malt lovers should try.

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James
07 December 2011 @ 09:26 pm

Originally published at jamesrsutton.net. You can comment here or there.

On November 21st of this year, Rush released three box sets containing remastered versions of their Mercury releases. People often complain about how labels re-release music solely to rip off the dedicated fans, selling them the same music over and over. Although I believe that in some cases this is true, I can confidently say that the “Sector” sets are absolutely worth our hard earned money.

Andy VanDette did the remastering and I am completely blown away by how much he improved upon these albums. I know the entirety of the Rush catalog very well, having listened to their music more than any other artist since the early 1980′s. When you spend a lot of time with something, you know straight away when it has changed, for better or worse. When I think about where technology was when these records were made, I don’t believe it was possible to make them sound this good.

I chose to listen to 1984′s “Grace Under Pressure” first, noting immediately how transparent it sounded. I could hear everything very clearly along with things I had never heard before. It was like I was hearing an album I’d listened to probably close to a hundred times since its release, for the first time again. All of Geddy’s bass parts that I’d turn up to an unhealthy volume to try and make out, Alex’s buried guitar parts that I never truly appreciated, and Neil’s hidden finesse on the drums was right up front and demanding my attention.

With each album I listen to from this amazing collection, I’m reminded yet again of why Rush is and will always be my favourite. For those Rush fans out there that have memorized every note and every lyric on these early recordings, get yourself a copy of the Sector sets (add them to your x-mas list!), throw on a set of headphones, and discover them again.

As far as I’m concerned, I have no need to listen to any of the other copies of these records ever again.

(Please note the following, taken from rush.com: “We are aware of some slight technical issues surrounding the CD of ‘Fly By Night’ inside the Sector 1 box set release and the DVD for ‘A Farewell To Kings’ inside the Sector 2 box set that some fans are experiencing. It stems from a production flaw and it is currently being addressed. As soon as production is completed a formal announcement of how to replace the discs will follow shortly. Please be aware that there may be a time delay in shipping and receiving the disc and we sincerely apologize for this inconvenience.” – Geddy, Alex & Neil)

Available at rushbackstage.com (1,2, & 3) and on Amazon here.

 
 
 
James
03 December 2011 @ 08:34 pm

Originally published at jamesrsutton.net. You can comment here or there.

We’ve got The Nightmare Before Christmas on blu-ray playing and we’re decorating our little tree.

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I also have, ahem… for the third year, a pint of Stone’s “Sublimely Self-Righteous” for the occasion. It’s deliciously piney and perfect.

 
 
 
James
17 November 2011 @ 09:36 pm

Originally published at jamesrsutton.net. You can comment here or there.

As of this morning, I have completed my fortieth year on this planet and I’m feeling very alive and well. I’ve always embraced my birthdays positively and with each year I look back fondly on what I’ve learned. Frankly, I have no desire to experience the naïveté of youth again.

I’m proud that I have the most wonderful wife in the universe and nothing but the best of family and friends. I’m proud that in the last year I’ve managed to work exercise into my daily routine and have lost 20lbs. I’m proud that whilst being forty years old, I also read comics, have long hair, and have rock band stickers on my car. I’m proud of who I am and with each year I look forward to more ways to better myself.

Tonight we play Lord of the Rings: War in the North on PS3 for the first time and due to the fact that today is the 17th, I’ll be enjoying what has turned out to be three seventeens. (I didn’t plan it I promise!) The 17th Anniversary Wood Aged IIPA from Great Divide and some of The Macallan 17:

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James
13 November 2011 @ 01:26 pm

Originally published at jamesrsutton.net. You can comment here or there.

We took some time off at the beginning of November to do some travelling, spend time with friends, and see some shows…

The Opeth and Katatonia gig on the 1st was a show I’d been dreaming of seeing for years. They’re two Swedish bands that I have a lot of respect for and seeing them both play on the same night was really a treat. Below are few images from the show. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any of Katatonia.

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On the 3rd we saw Gogol Bordello perform a slightly improvisational set of acoustic songs in Burlington. It was undoubtedly a special evening of music. A band called “The Honky Tonk Queen City Three” opened the show, playing a country/rockabilly kind of thing. I was quite impressed with their playing, especially the pedal steel player. I didn’t get any pics that night but here’s a shot posted by the Burlington Free Press.

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On the 10th we saw Steven Wilson here in Baltimore and I was floored by how good it was. It was my first time seeing Wilson play without Porcupine Tree. He assembled an astounding group of musicians for this tour and they pulled off his very dynamic solo material flawlessly. I loved the incorporation of woodwinds and what I consider to be the most intelligently designed modern stringed instrument in existence, the Chapman Stick. The first part of the show was played behind a sheer curtain with video projected onto it.

At the end of the night, Steven came out wearing a single side canister gas mask. I thought it was very cool and fit in nicely with the musical vibe of the evening.

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James
08 November 2011 @ 08:21 pm

Originally published at jamesrsutton.net. You can comment here or there.

For those interested in the “Deluxe”, Best Buy edition of the new Rush blu-ray, here’s what you get:

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I’m really looking forward to sitting down with this one. I still need to finish Neil’s brilliant new DVD as well.

 
 
 
James
01 November 2011 @ 07:51 pm

Originally published at jamesrsutton.net. You can comment here or there.

We’re off this week and although we’re tired already from all the fun we’ve had so far, we’re continuing on tonight at the Opeth / Katatonia show. We managed a spot at the front:

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James
30 October 2011 @ 06:21 pm

Originally published at jamesrsutton.net. You can comment here or there.

I’m very happy to say that we are on vacation all of this week. The after party clean up is done and we’re feeling fine. I’m catching up on the “Jennifer Blood” comic series and enjoying Xbeeriment’s “Black Force One” smoked imperial stout from Denmark. Very nice indeed.

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