Thursday, August 30, 2012

Having An Open Mind

How many times do we make our minds up & then nothing can change them?  We all do it in many aspects of life - people, food, locations, industries, political parties, and music.  I ran across this story today and it really hit a chord with me.


This is a story of a guy who was very adament about his dislike of Billy Joel's music and then opened his mind just a little bit.  He set out to listen to every single Billy Joel album and blog about it.  I will let you read the story (or the title) to see what the outcome was. 

The key point is that he was willing to try it.  How many times have we said that we wouldn't like a particular food, but then finally try it to find out we love it?  I have always said that I don't like raw oysters, though I love seafood in general.  Well, this summer I tried raw oysters again to see if my tastes had changed.  Still don't like them, but at least I verified my opinion.

I try to have an open mind, especially when it comes to music.  Play my iPod on random and you will hear Christmas music, rock, country, gospel, easy listening, and many other types of music.  Now, if I can be as open-minded about others things in my life...... 

Let's try it.

Zach, a Tennessee Squire

Friday, August 24, 2012

Twenty-five years ago

The date – August 24, 1987. Ronald Reagan was President, George Bush (daddy) was VP, gas was around a $1/gallon, the DOW was at 1,939, Starship’s Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now was popular, and we were watching L.A. Law, Cosby, Cheers, and Family Ties on television. It was also the day I walked into the Corporate offices of HealthTrust, Inc. – the Hospital Company (HTI) for my first day of work. We didn’t have laptops or cell phones. Yes, I remember the implementation of e-mail and voice mail. Ancient, huh?

It was also my first job after college. I am also proud to say that 25 years later – I’m still here. Yes, the name on the front of the building has changed and the people sitting around me have changed. On that day 25 years ago, it would be five and a half years before I would meet the love of my life and another two and a half before I became a father. Pretty wild to think about.

When I started at HTI as a Staff I Auditor, I can’t say that I intended on having a career as an internal auditor or in healthcare. It was a job that paid real money, involved wearing a suit, carrying a briefcase (important!), and I got to travel. Life was definitely good!

Speaking of travel, I have gotten to see several places that I probably wouldn’t have ever seen if it wasn’t for the job. I have traveled from Seattle to Miami and several points in between. I’ve eaten seafood at Gladstone’s on Malibu Beach, watched two shuttle launches (one from the beach & the other from a plane), saw Kenny Rogers throw a perfect game in Arlington, saw the guys throw fish at Pike’s Place market, see John Denver at the Western Washington State Fair, visit an ostrich farm in Victoria, Texas, have authentic Cajun food at Mulates in Breaux Bridge, and eat my way (obviously) across the country. Speaking of that, here is a tip from a seasoned traveler – eat at local places at least once per trip. You can always eat at Outback, O’Charley’s, etc. Go where the locals go. It makes the trip memorable and you see what the town is all about.

People – people who need people. Sorry, ADD kicked in there. I have made so many friends through the years. There are some that I have met along the way that I still consider very close friends. Many were a part of the HTI family. The HTI family – that will require a completely separate blog. Some have died along the way, some have dropped off the face of the earth, and some still drift in and out of my world occasionally. Several though are still on my frequently dialed numbers in my phone. I often tell the newbies – never burn bridges; especially in Healthcare – in Nashville. There are several examples of folks crossing paths multiple times with multiple companies. Always good to keep up with folks.

As I close this blog, I am sitting in a different chair than I was 25 years ago. About two years ago I moved from Internal Audit to Corporate Accounting. Same company, just a different department. Still love my job. Today, I have a laptop, voicemail that I can listen to through my e-mail, and a cell phone that has hundreds of times more power than our first desktop computer. Times have definitely progressed and I hope I have as well.  I also have a wife that has stuck by me for over 18 years (18 years…..) and two boys that rock and make my world. Life is indeed good.

A content Squire   Z

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Some Things Never Change

Well, my favorite band of all time blew into Nashville on April 27, 2012 and I was definitely there.  Yes, Van Halen returned to Nashville after a long time - so long that the last time they were here, it was at Starwood and Gary Cherone was lead singer (insert full body shudder).  The best I can determine is that it was 1998.  Since then, Gary left, Dave came back (for an awards show), Dave left, Sammy came back, Sammy left, and then Dave came back.  It is enough to make you dizzy.

I will let you know my pre-show biases - I am a Sammy Hagar fan, even though I have been a Van Halen fan since the late 70's when VH I came out.  I think Sammy brings more musically to the group while Dave brings showmanship and little musically.  I also think that the band hosed Michael Anthony when he was dumped after the Sammy reunion tour in 2004 even though I understand Eddie wants to share the stage with his son.

My youngest son, Kyle, attended the show with me at Bridgestone.  He was super pumped to see the show and I don't think he could have been kept away.  We were lucky enough to see the show from a suite with my long time Van Halen running  buddy Joe.  Joe & I grew up together and have traveled all over the Southeast to see the band since the Fair Warning tour.  Unbeknownst to us, two other high school classmates were in the suite.  It was almost just like 1982 all over again.

The opening act was puzzling to say the least until they took the stage - Kool & the Gang.  Yes, Kool & the Gang.  When they started (kudos for prompt start), there were probably only a few more folks in the seats than on the stage.  K&G had 11 folks on stage who were either playing instruments, singing, or just standing there dancing.  These guys can take a song and stretch it to about 8 minutes with various sing-alongs and solos.  I would venture to say there was maybe one or two folks in the band who were there during their rise to fame and I never figured out which one was Kool.   Even so, they provided a high energy show chocked full of hits, including some that I had forgotten.   
  • Fresh
  • Tonight
  • Emergency
  • Misled
  • Too Hot
  • Hollywood Swinging
  • Jungle Boogie
  • Ladies Night
  • Get Down on It
  • Celebrate
After the preliminaries were complete, it was time to get on with the show.  On a very simple stage (except for the drive-in theater sized screen behind the stage), Van Halen had returned to Nashville.  From the start, the energy of the crowd was pegged out and the rock & roll was LOUD!!! Some observations from that night:

Eddie played the best I have seen in many years, if ever.  I attribute it to the fact that he is sober and focused on the music.  He really looked like he was having fun, especially playing with his son and brother at the same time.  He definitely gets the highest marks of the nigh.t

Wolfgang held his own.  He played good solid base & looked like he belonged up there with his Dad.  I had read that he is the one who encouraged Eddie to dust off a lot of the early deep cuts.  If so, thanks Wolfie!! 

Alex provided the same great beat that he always has provided.  His drum solo was surprisingly short and included tracks for the first time that I remember.  While he has played to music (live by Eddie & M.A.) before, this was the first time that I heard percussion sounds in that music - i.e., cowbell.  He too looked like he was having fun.

Ah, guess it is time to "review" Diamond Dave.  I must attribute the title of this blog to him.  SSDD when it comes to him.  While he tried, his shtick in between songs grew old in a hurry.  He consistently missed the timing and phrasing of the songs.  He did a good job on the new songs because maybe they were more in his range than the older songs.  At one point, he went on for about 5 minutes about his herding dogs, complete with video footage.  DLR had a little hardwood dance stage on the main stage where he pranced and did his moves throughout the night.  At one point he asked for it to be wiped down and when no one appeared, he asked again.  Finally, during Panama, he asked for the "[bleep] stage to be wiped".  Reminded me of a spoiled little rich kid.

Speaking of footage, the previously mentioned drive-in sized screen was used to show black & white live footage for most of the show.  The other times were small video clips with the predominant subject being Diamond Dave.  If Dave executed one of his kicks or jumps, the screen would slow that again in slow motion.  Obviously, the video feed guy was on Dave's payroll.

Despite Diamond Dave's shortcomings on vocals, the rest of the guys marched on through the songs.  If DLR missed a lyric or timing, they just kept playing and let him jump in, rather than waiting on him.  Reminded me very much of a drunken businessman singing karaoke in a bar.  At one point on the drum riser were Eddie, Alex (of course), and Wolfie.  Three Van Halens and two generations playing Van Halen music - quite a sight.  The songs were a good mix of the new ones and some great oldies, including some deep classics (Romeo Delight & Hear About It Later).  Here is the set list:
  • Unchained
  • Runnin' With the Devil
  • She's the Woman
  • Romeo Delight
  • Tattoo
  • Everybody Wants Some!!
  • Somebody Get Me a Doctor
  • China Town
  • Hear About It Later
  • Oh, Pretty Woman
  • Drum Solo
  • You Really Got Me
  • The Trouble with Never
  • Dance the Night Away
  • I'll Wait
  • Hot for Teacher
  • Women In Love
  • Girl Gone Bad
  • Beautiful Girls
  • Ice Cream Man
  • Panama
  • Guitar Solo
  • Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love
  • Jump
I must say, it was a great show,   Wolfgang rose a lot in my book (like he is worried about that) and DLR gets an E for effort, but doesn't really rise any positions.  Eddie - what can I say?  The man was on his game and proved why he is revered as one of the all time great guitar players.
Remember, if it is too loud, you are too old!
Zach, A Rockin' Tennessee Squire

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Culture Meets Country

First, I realize that it has been a long time since I posted a blog. I have started several, but just haven’t finished them. Hopefully, this one will jump start the juices…

For three evenings on April 5-7, 2012, one of country music’s stalwarts met culture at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville as Steve Wariner performed both his hits and his tribute to Chet Atkins with the Nashville Symphony.

Upfront, I must let you know my bias toward Steve. I first met Steve about ten years ago through his work with JDRF where he and his family have worked countless hours through the years. Though I am not a true country fan, Steve gets a head start with me purely from his JDRF work and our relationship through the years.

I have long been a fan of combining mainstream music with symphonies. My first exposure was a Moody Blues show in Nashville. Hearing rock music combined with symphony music proves that music is music – it just depends on how it is arranged. Through the years, I have heard the likes of Aerosmith, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Styx play with symphonies and the music was incredible. Friday night was no exception for Steve.

Chet Aktins was Country Music back in the day, both behind and in front of the microphone. It has long been documented that Steve played in Chet’s band before he launched his solo career and was one of a select few to have the “cgp” (certified guitar player) designation bestowed upon him by Chet. Steve put out a Chet Atkins tribute a couple of years ago and his gig with the Symphony was to showcase that CD.

The symphony started with four rousing numbers by composers with a lot of vowels in their last name and were obviously not from Cheatham County. Steve walked out with just his guitar and began playing. The first part of the set list was devoted to his hits. Also, did you know that Steve wrote and performed the theme song to TV’s “Who’s The Boss”? I didn’t, but he performed that song as well. Then he played several songs from the Chet tribute album, pausing in between to tell stories about Chet or his wife Leona. During this section, there were pictures of Chet showing behind the stage. He showed why he earned that “cgp” designation. Combine Steve’s playing and singing with the symphony and the result was some beautiful music. Here is the set list for the evening (songs from My Tribute to Chet Atkins are in italics):

  • Life's Highway
  • The Weekend
  • Brand New Life – Theme song from “Who’s The Boss”
  • Holes in the Floor of Heaven
  • Sails
  • Reeding Out Loud
  • Blue Angel
  • Leaving Luttrel
  • Producers Medley
  • 6120
  • Leona
  • Chet’s guitar
  • I’m Already Taken
  • If I Didn’t Love You
  • Encore – The Flower that Shattered the Stone

After the show, Steve signed copies of his CD in the lobby and mingled with attendees. Country did indeed meet culture that night and the result was a resounding success.

Zach, A Cultured Tennessee Squire