Sunday, September 9, 2012

In Memory of Rid

Dan Ridley, 1972-2012

We met on the internet just before Christmas in 2007, which is embarrassing enough so I'm not going to tell you which site. Our first date was to see Rhett Miller at the Horseshoe. My idea, of course. His ongoing joke was, "I may be good looking, but I'm not nearly as good looking as Rhett Miller."

We lived about one and a half miles apart in downtown Toronto. Our birthdays were four months apart. He got me addicted to the TV show Intervention. We loved eating at Sweet Lulu's on Queen West, and then going for walks in Trinity-Bellwoods park after dinner. Or hitting the Foggy Dew for nachos and a drink. We would hang out on the rooftop patio at his condo building, with portable coffee mugs full of booze, and watch the city go by, or watch the fireworks from Ontario Place. We frequently watched movies by his favorite directors: Darren Aronofsky and David Lynch. He had a big pouty lower lip that I loved kissing. I called him "Rid," an abbreviation of his last name, Ridley.

We both loved music, but differing styles. Dan was a recovering metal-head and a fantastic guitar player. His favorite bands and artists included Jeff Martin and The Tea Party, Syd Barrett, Jimi Hendrix, Dimebag Darrell, pre-Jim Dickinson Iron Maiden, early Eddie Van Halen, old Black Sabbath, among many, many others. In the mid-90s he had recorded several albums of his original guitar work. I only saw him shred on his electric guitar once. When I met him he mostly played his 12-string acoustic, always in the DADDAD tuning (I think). Being left handed and self-taught, he played his right handed guitars on his lap, Jeff Healy-style. It was amazing to watch. Here is a video of him playing his electric guitar in 2007.

He wasn't so keen on my musical tastes. I took him to a Lucero show and he hated it and left early (it may have been due to the obnoxious Lucero fans though). He was only slightly more enthusiastic about the Drive-By Truckers. For the most part he liked Josh Ritter, and he did like Joel Plaskett (who doesn't like Joel Plaskett?). We spent New Years Eve of 2009 and 2010, at The Sadies annual show at the Horseshoe. He liked The Sadies because Travis and Dallas Good are killer guitar players. They have a completely different style than Dan does, but he appreciated their skill.

He left ridiculous comments on my blog. See the recent comment in the Anthrax post by "Professor Strangewiener." Or the comment by "Large Wang" on the post Groupies, or Lack Thereof. Or "Chucky Cheesedick" on the post Rocktober Redux. What a joker. My blog is littered with dozens of goofy Ridley comments, all "disguised" with ridiculous names. He also helped me write a post once, see Rocktober 11th.

Dan and I weren't an official "couple" for more than a few months. We figured out pretty quickly that we had some huge philosophical differences. But there was no huge blow-out or yelling match when it ended. Dan was a very even keeled, mellow guy, much more so than I am. When we broke up I cried for a few days, got drunk, and went on with my life. We reconnected a few months later, over the show Intervention, of course, and we started hanging out again. We joked that we had no friends and that all of our other friends were married and boring and had kids and were living in the suburbs, which wasn't that far from the truth. When you get to be in your mid to late 30s, it's difficult to find new people who share some of the same interests that you do. Dan and I enjoyed each others company, and we didn't have that many other people to hang out with on a Saturday night in downtown Toronto. We were actually closer friends when we were not an official couple.

Cuddly gifts from Dan
Even when we weren't a couple, Rid always brought me sweet little gifts on holidays or when I was sick. He knew that I loved dogs, so he brought me little stuffed puppies. I have a Schnauzer, a German Sheppard, two Jack Russell Terriers, plus a really cuddly Teddy Bear. We went up to his family cottage near Dorset, Ontario, one weekend. His cottage was his favorite place in the world. He loved the Dorset, Bracebridge, Huntsville area of Ontario, and wanted to retire to that area someday.

My job in Toronto was winding down, and I couldn't get a biotech job in Canada. Heck, even my friends who were Canadian citizens were having hard times finding jobs in Canada, and several of them relocated to the US for work. When I moved to Boston at the beginning of 2011, Dan helped me pick up my U-Haul truck in Eastern Toronto. I remember the feeling of his down winter jacket on my face when I cried into his shoulder because I didn't want to leave Toronto. He promised to visit me in Boston, even though his passport had long ago expired, and he hadn't been on a plane in 17 years.

Hampton Beach, NH, 2011
He followed through! He got his passport renewed, and bought a plane ticket, and met me for a week in Beantown. We saw the historical sites, did a road trip to the beach and to a Daytrotter show in Maine, saw Myrtle the Turtle at the New England aquarium, and survived Hurricane Irene by bunking down at my place with lots of junk food, booze, and bad TV movies.

Dan left Boston on August 29, 2011, and that was the last time I saw him. We talked on the phone a lot. I went through a nine month bout of unemployment, and he frequently checked in on me to see how I was doing. According to my phone, we last spoke on August 13, 2012. I needed to vent about some frustrations with my new job and with living in Boston, and he had recently reconnected with an old friend and he was excited to tell me about it. His last e-mail to me was on August 25, commenting on my new purple clothing, "I am wearing some tight purple underwear at the moment..."

I received an e-mail from Dan's sister on Tuesday, September 4, saying that Dan had died early that morning of a heart aneurysm. At first I thought it was some sick, fucked-up joke. Don't only fat old men in their 70s have heart aneurysms? When I realized it was true, I was hysterical with grief.

I talked to Dan's mom yesterday and she said that even in the ER he was making jokes with the doctor about the show Intervention, because they had given him fentanyl for the pain in his abdomen. I think his demeanor even while in severe pain is one part of his lasting legacy. In the four and a half years that I knew him he always had a positive outlook on things. He rarely complained about anything, and he always made the best of every situation. Even cracking goofy jokes to lighten the mood when things got a little too serious.

I snapped the top photo on February 3,2008, when we were hanging out in the sun room in his condo, goofing around. He grabbed his guitar and I took a photo. Who knew that four and a half years later that photo would be part of his hometown newspaper obituary.

The second half of his legacy is his music. He loved the guitar and recorded several albums before I met him. In more recent years he didn't play as often, or create that much new music, but he still loved it with a passion. I posted four of his albums below, three are of original music and one, Covers Galore, is of arrangements he made of songs that he loved. Please download them and share them with all music lovers. I also posted a track from each as an example of the album. My favorite song is "Forbidden Fungus."

Since I haven't seen Dan in a year, his passing still seems inconceivable to me. I feel like he could call me or send me a funny e-mail at any time. I can hear his laugh and feel his hands. I saw a weird guitar on Thursday and wanted to take a photo of it to send to him. He loved his family, his friends, his job, his condo, his family cottage, and his life in general. How can someone with so much love die of a hole in his heart?

Metal Head Suite
Download: Liquid Braino (1995)

Forbidden Fungus
Download: New Aged Noodlefest (1996)

Soft Planet
Download: Freak for Hi-Fi (2001)

Careful with that Axe Eugene
Download: Covers Galore (2004)

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Lucero Women and Work interviews

Lucero just released a killer video including interviews with all of the band members on being in the band, and the latest album Women and Work. Enjoy!

On My Way Downtown
Buy: Women & Work (2012)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Feel Bad For THE MAN

"Rock and roll is all about sticking it to the man!" – Someone

Now that the Democratic National Convention is in full swing, I figure it's time to post the August Feel Bad for You Mixtape. This month's theme is THE MAN! The dogs days of summer are only made worse by sitting in your cubicle and slaving away for THE MAN! At least that’s how I came up with the theme for this month's mixtape. Though THE MAN could be your boss, the government, whitey, your woman, Nashville record executives, your landlord, etc. I told the contributors to be creative with this one.

1. Snog - Corporate Slave
Remote Control (1997)
Submitted By: Bryan
Comments: This one was easy. Snog was bashing corporate america long before it was fashionable to do so and I knew as soon as you said the theme was "The Man" I had to include one of their songs. This song originally appeared on their 1997 album Remote Control but this particular version of it is from their 2006 retrospective Sixteen Easy Tunes For The End Times. Hope y’all like it as much as I do.

2. Ben Folds - The Ascent of Stan
Rockin’ the Suburbs (2001)
Submitted By: @philnorman
Comments: You wondered why your father was so resigned. Now you don’t wonder anymore…

3. The Clash - Clampdown
London Calling (1979)
Submitted By: April @ Now This Sound Is Brave
Comments: "The men at the factory are old and cunning / You don’t owe nothing, so, boy, get running / It’s the best years of your life they want to steal"

4. Chuck Prophet - American Man
¡Let Freedom Ring! (2009)
Submitted By: hoosier buddy
Comments: Chuck Prophet is the Captain America of guitar-slinging singer-songwriters. His trademark scarf and vest let you know he’s comfortable with the way he looks. The musical influences in this one song alone are a veritable melting pot of American culture. Twang meets classic rock and celebrates the love child with shameless 80′s riffage, His shield is the honest truth about what’s wrong, what’s weird,and what’s going on: "American man, three times your size, with blood on my lips, milk in my eyes." We all recognize this American man. Heck, some of us are him. Proud as hell, too!

5. Neil Young - Ohio
From: bootleg (1971)
Submitted By: tincanman
Comments: I had so many 'Man' punisms running through my head to impress you with I almost forgot the ultimate 'The Man hath run amok' song.

6. Woody Guthrie - Vigilante Man
Dust Bowl Ballads (1940)
Submitted By: Gorrck

7. Ralph Stanley - I Am The Man, Thomas
Ralph Stanley And The Clinch Mountain Boys: 1971-1973 (1995)
Submitted By: Truersound
Comments: I AM THE MAAAAN!

8. Minus 5 - Dear Employer (The Reason I Quit)
Down With Wilco (2003)
Submitted By: toomuchcountry
Comments: Oh yeah? Wow now you’re minus SIX my friend! I’m outta here.

9. OPM - Heaven is a Half Pipe
Buy: Menace to Sobriety (2000)
Submitted By: Ryan (Verbow @
Comments: I remember this song getting a lot of play round the turn of the millenium. I don’t know if I would say its a good song but it makes me bob my head and laugh thinking, “yeah all I need is my board and my weed – the man can go eff himself!”

10. Peter Tosh - Legalize It
Legalize It (1976)
Submitted By: Simon
Comments: On the eve of Jamaican Independence 50th Celebrations and on the day the country is poised to make it a male/female sprint double gold at London 2012, then it's got to be Peter Tosh's "Legalize It," this Wailer gave the bird to The Man and if the stories are to be believed that's what cost him his life. Beat this Snoop Dogg.

11. Rodriguez - This Is Not A Song, It’s An Outburst: Or, The Establishment
Buy (mp3): Cold Fact (1970)
Submitted By: BoogieStudio22
Comments: It's the establishment, man.

12. John Keating - Jesus Christ Superstar
Sound Gallery Vol 1 (1972)
Submitted By: Bowood
Comments: Andrew Lloyd Webber on FBFY, it was always on the cards.

13. Anthrax - I’m the Man (Def Uncensored Version)
I’m the Man (1987)
Submitted By: Rockstar Aimz
Comments: Gorrck sent this CD to me in 2001 when the anthrax scare hit the east coast. We told one of our other friends that "I got Anthrax in the mail." She said, "Are you serious!!!" Our friends are not too bright. And we are immature.

14. Furnaceface - We Love You Tipper Gore
Just Buy It (1992)
Submitted By: Lord Summerisle
Comments: A song about "The Man" that's about A woman.

15. Screeching Weasel - A New Tomorrow
Anthem for a New Tomorrow (1993)
Submitted By: annieTUFF
Comments: So, when I heard the theme for this month was "The Man," I thought of rebelling against status quo, rejecting the norm and living your life the way you want to live it. Instantly I thought of this song, Screeching Weasel is a band I’ve loved for years. It doesn’t matter what music I’m listening to, or if I’m going thru a "only listening to Buck Owens on repeat/surf music 24-7/or whatever else constantly" phase, I’ll always be able to add a Screeching Weasel song to my mixtape (or really…we all know it’s a playlist…but mixtape just sounds better dudes, ok?). Anyway, back to this particular song, anytime I’m starting to question my life choices I can listen to this song and instantly feel better, really. Sound dumb? Who cares, it works for me.

16. Roger Alan Wade - Cars and Guns
Stoned Traveler (2009)
Submitted By: Adam Sheets

17. Drive By Truckers - Puttin’ People On The Moon
The Dirty South (2004)
Submitted By: TheOtherBrit
Comments: This was the first song that came to mind when I thought about The Man keeping ya down, especially convenient with the Mars landing just happening.

18. Bradley Wik and the Charlatans - Friday Night is for the Drinkers
Buy (Bandcamp): Burn What You Can, Bury the Rest…
Submitted By: Cowbelle

19. Pete Yorn (w/Natalie Maines) - The Man
Buy: The Nightcrawler (2006)
Submitted By: Trailer

20. The Countdown Five - Money Man
B-Side/Shaka Shake Na Na/Money Man (1969)
Submitted By: @popatunes
Comments: This theme seemed a bit of a challenge finding something that wasn't an obvious 'The Man' protest song, (my interpretation of the theme) so I was lead deep into the garage for an enjoyable excursion that distracted me to from my initial, but thought this little b-side gem from Texas City's The Countdown Five was worth sharing. Y'all know by now I have soft spot for low-fi psych garage grooviness. The band had two Billboard Top 100 hits, "Uncle Kirby" and "Shaka Na Na."