With the exception of Todd Rundgren‘s long-awaited “autobiography” and a meditation guide, I devoted the past year to reading and rereading the works of Bhante G. Here’s the list of books I read or reread in 2019:
Mindfulness in Plain English (Henepola Gunaratana)
Beyond Mindfulness in Plain English: An Introductory guide to Deeper States of Meditation (Henepola Gunaratana)
The Four Foundations of Mindfulness in Plain English (Henepola Gunaratana)
The Meditator’s Atlas: A Roadmap to the Inner World (Matthew Flickstein)
Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness: Walking the Buddha’s Path (Henepola Gunaratana)
Meditation on Perception: Ten Healing Practices to Cultivate Mindfulness (Henepola Gunaratana)
The Individualist: Digressions, Dreams & Dissertations (Todd Rundgren)
Journey to Mindfulness: The Autobiography of Bhante G. (Henepola Gunaratana)
Loving-Kindness in Plain English: The Practice of Metta (Henepola Gunaratana)
Buddhist Suttas for Recitation: A Companion for Walking the Buddha’s Path (Henepola Gunaratana)
I’m now halfway through a really good book on the music of the Beatles, but as I will not finish it by the end of the year, that book will appear on next year’s list.
The Jerrys have released their first-ever live album, The Jerrys at WZRD, recorded live in the studio at WZRD Chicago 88.3 FM. Ten songs that aired live on the station during four separate appearances from 2012-2018 comprise the track listing:
1. I Even Love You More Than Elizabeth Hurley (At WZRD Chicago)***
2. Ann Taylor Girl (At WZRD Chicago)****
3. New Wave (At WZRD Chicago)*
4. Space Cadet (At WZRD Chicago)****
5. Be Yourself (At WZRD Chicago)***
6. Let’s Groove (At WZRD Chicago)**
7. The King of I Don’t Care (At WZRD Chicago)*
8. Every Girl (At WZRD Chicago)**
9. Bigger Than Oprah (At WZRD Chicago)*
10. What the World Could Use a Lot More Of (At WZRD Chicago)**
*Original broadcast, 2012; Jerry Schwartz (guitar, lead vocal) and Robert Porche (drums, backing vocal)
**Original broadcast, 2014; Jerry Schwartz (live guitar and live vocals with public appearance mixes)
***Original broadcast, 2016; Jerry Schwartz (guitar, harmonica, lead vocal), Robert Porche (drums, backing vocal), and Jim Losby (bass guitar, backing vocal)
****Original broadcast, 2018; Jerry Schwartz (guitar, harmonica, lead vocal) , Robert Porche (drums, backing vocal), Jim Losby (bass guitar, backing vocal)
As summer nears, here’s a quick update on my band and the live album to be released in the coming weeks:
Production and postproduction work have been completed for a new live album. The Jerrys at WZRD will consist of ten songs recorded over four separate performances recorded live in the studio at WZRD Chicago 88.3 FM. I’m currently working on the album art and will post the final track listing when that is available. The album will be released in early summer.
I began recording for a new single by The Jerrys. I like where it’s going, and I’m enjoying making it. There’s no release date at this time.
On May 16, I performed a set with The Jerrys at Rabid Brewing in Homewood, Illinois. It was the first time we played out this year, as well as our first time at that venue (photo). Later that evening, I played solo with a borrowed guitar before being joined on stage by others, including Robert Porche.
For the record, since starting this post I wrote another tune and will begin recording that one soon. There’s always more music on the way!
Nothing ever the same
that’s how things go
You’re not even who you
were a picosecond ago
You can’t step in the same
river twice and all that
No past, no future,
now is where it’s at
In the blink of an eye
the morning is noon
One minute it’s March
and next thing
it’s already June
Time and tide wait for no man
and all that biz
No then, no later,
now is all there is and
At the end of the day
time doesn’t know
Who’s still hanging around:
it stays and the people go
Time flies and life’s too short
and all that stuff
Don’t waste your time cause
life is short enough
And everyone knows
My bandmates and I debuted our new live show on November 17 at Mama and Me Pizzeria in Homewood, Illinois. In all, we played 36 songs, including original music going back to Pop Go The Jerrys, as well as covers of songs by Chuck Berry, Herman’s Hermits, David Bowie, the Kinks, and others. In addition to playing a lot of songs live for the first time, we debuted our new drum head.
It was not our first time playing at the venue. On September 28, we played just over an hour after a rousing set by The Big Boppers. That evening, we played mostly original songs, but did include a few covers, including Tommy James and the Shondells’ 1966 hit, “Hanky Panky.” Originals included three songs from The Jerrys’ new six-song EP, The Wind Cries Jerrys: “Chicago USA,” “Ms Wonderful,” and “Anna Marie.” Watch “Ms Wonderful” live at Mama and Me Pizzeria below.
For the record, field-testing of my new Fender American Elite Telecaster guitar is now complete. Not once during the entire show did any string slip out of the nut. My repositioning the string guide to the “1960s Telecaster” position was the simple solution to a big problem. After a proper setup, the guitar should be ready to play for a long time.
Last month I had the opportunity to field-test my new guitar, a black Fender American Elite Telecaster. The Elite is the best guitar I’ve ever owned. The first time I picked it up, I felt as though Fender had made the guitar just for me, perfect in every way. I couldn’t wait to use it at an upcoming show at Mama and Me Pizzeria.
Several songs into our set, however, I noticed that the first string had slipped out of both the nut and the string guide. As my style more closely resembles Pete Townsend’s than Segovia’s, I assumed the fault was mine and placed the string back where it belonged. No biggie—until it happened again. And again. In all, I must have repositioned the string a dozen times that night (it was the only guitar I’d brought). My “perfect” guitar had failed the test.
String Guide Placement
After more research than I care to admit, I concluded that Fender’s factory placement of the string guide did not provide adequate pressure on the string to keep it in the nut, at least for my playing style. In Fenderspeak, the guide had been placed in the “’50s Telecaster” position on the Elite instead of the “’60s Telecaster” position level with the A string tuner. Additionally, the fix seemed like something that even I could do, so I did it.
Since moving the string guide to the ’60s Telecaster position, I’ve played at full throttle, almost daring the string to come out of place. So far, the issue appears to be resolved, and the modification left only a small hole in the headstock where the guide had been originally. Field-testing of the American Elite Telecaster resumes at our next show.
The Insight Timer meditation app gets my recommendation as the go-to meditation app. While I don’t use most of the app’s many features, the timer and its settings alone make the app worth using. I also enjoy receiving the early-morning reminders I set up to receive each day. If you meditate for any reason, you’ll find this app handy. Check out Insight Timer’s website for more information.
My dad passed away last month, and rather than list facts here—that he was born in Kentucky to a German sharecropper and his wife, that he grew to be a successful man with a wife and six children, etc—I mention his love of music. I am grateful to my dad for many things, but I am most grateful for the love of music that he passed along to me.
In the earliest days of our family, Dad had an electric guitar and amplifier, and he enjoyed playing for fun. We watched Johnny Rivers on television and listened to Duane Eddy records on the stereo, and Dad thought Chuck Berry was the greatest. When I was six, he taught me to play “Secret Agent Man,” “What I Say,” and the Bonanza theme song on guitar, and I played those songs over and over. He sold that guitar one day and never played again, but he bought one for me soon after, and I’ve been playing ever since.
I recall the times Dad drove me and my musical equipment around to practices. I remember him taking a vacation day to watch my band play in a school talent show. I hear him singing as he walked through the house, and when I’m enjoying a tune, I tap my foot like he always did. I think of my dad every day, especially when I play guitar. Life’s better with music. Dad taught me that.