2016 Kia Sorento Video Road Test

Our latest Video Road Test, the 2016 Kia Sorento, has just been posted on Consumer Guide Automotive’s Daily Drive website.  Just click on the link above to take a spin and see what you think.

2016 Kia Sorento

2016 Kia Sorento

And don’t forget, if you want to check some of our previous road tests and some of the other goodies we’ve been pouring into the Daily Drive tank, just point your browser right here.

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R.I.P. “Rusty”

As 2015 ended we received some sad news.

Some called him Rusty.  Some called him Russ.  One of his Facebook pages listed him as Russ Les Paul Jr.  In announcing his passing, The Les Paul Foundation website lists his name as Lester “Rusty” G. Paul.  In the big picture, it didn’t matter.  Anyone who was privileged to really get to know him quickly knew they could call him a friend.

Although we had talked to him many times on the phone along with his Dad, Les Paul, our first in-person meeting with Russ was in December of 1996 when his famous father played Chicago’s House of Blues.  That night when Les Paul joined us at WGN radio for a 3 plus hour on air interview Russ was quietly documenting the entire evening with his video equipment.

Any time we saw Les, if it was in Nashville at Muriel Anderson’s “All-Star Guitar Night” tribute or in Waukesha for Les’s homecoming or Milwaukee for the House of Sound opening and Pabst Theater concert, Russ was at his Dad’s side, not just as a family member, but as an enthusiastic supporter.  In fact, in light of his own recent loss of a few toes to diabetes, Russ thought Les’s Waukesha homecoming concert was just the kind of good medicine he needed.

This gentle man was his father’s biggest fan.  We’ll never forget the night we got a phone call at home from Russ, as excited as he could be, because he just had to share the news that his Dad had was going to be inducted into the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame.  Even with all of the awards and acclaim that Les Paul already achieved, any new acknowledgement of his Dad’s impact was a singular point of pride for Russ.

A 2 hour phone call with Russ would not revolve around him but, rather, the new album, TV show archiving or appearances his Dad was working on.  Yes, he had his own band, often performing with artists such as Les Paul’s godson Steve Miller and others and was an accomplished recording engineer, but most important to Russ was making sure Les Paul got the spotlight and attention.

We’ll also never forget the morning of August 13, 2009 the day we woke up to 22 calls on our answering machine.  The first of the messages was so soft we both leaned into
the machine to better hear what the caller was saying. It was Russ calling to tell us that his dad had passed away. Russ said,“The news is reporting that Dad died today, the 13th, but he actually died the 12th.” Russ wanted to make sure we heard the news from him first.

The last time we saw Russ in person was at the Club 400 gathering after Les Paul’s funeral, in Waukesha, Wi.  We were very touched when Russ told us that he and Les considered us family and wanted us to attend.  The Club 400 was where Les Paul and Mary Ford first performed together and it was a fitting location to celebrate Les.

Steve & Johnnie with Rusty Paul

Steve & Johnnie with Rusty Paul at the Club 400

During one of the last conversations we had with Russ he was enthusiastic about our book, “A Little More Les,” and, even though he was still in a rehab facility, he was optimistic about his future.  He was excited that Epiphone was going to produce a Rusty Paul signature bass and talked about some of the players he wanted to join him when his band would start touring again and come to Chicago.  He suggested the possibility of doing a tie-in with our book at a planned Chicago Theater appearance that would see him returning to the same stage his Dad played in front of packed houses.

Unfortunately, as 2015 came to a close Russ lost his long battle with diabetes.

Click here to read the Les Paul Foundation’s announcement of Russ’s passing.

What a gentle man.  What a good son.  What a good friend.

We’ll miss him.


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Happy New Year Fran Tate!!

Well, I just had a conversation that was the cherry on top of a fabulous year!  We have been keeping up on our dear friend, Barrow Easter Bunny, Fran Tate via her family.

Steve & Johnnie with Fran Tate

Steve & Johnnie with Fran Tate

**For the uninitiated and anyone else wondering “Just who is this Fran Tate person and why is she called the “Barrow Easter Bunny” just click on this link to be taken to the article Colleen Mastony wrote about Fran in the Chicago Tribune**

I was recently given a phone number that by-passes the switchboard at the Anchorage care facility she is living in. I’ve tried that number several times and began to think I was given a wrong number.  Today I called again. Lo and behold, the phone was picked up on the second ring and a nurse asked for my name, spelling of my name and said she would be happy to ask Fran if she wanted to speak to me.  Suddenly I heard a loud voice say, “Do I know her? Yes, yes, give me that phone!” I was so happy to actually hear her strong, clear, voice and the Fran laugh.  She said she was comfortable and getting stronger everyday and thought that after losing a leg to diabetes she was ready to talk about a prosthesis so she could get “back in action!”

She said she has been overwhelmed by the number of cards she has received.  Thank you all for taking the time to do just that.  She said the cards are all over her room and she hasn’t had a day go by since the first of the month without a new stack of cards arriving!  I could tell it has meant so much to her.  If you sent a card, you did a good thing!

I asked if she is able to keep up on her extended Pepe’s North of the Border Restaurant family (the restaurant burned to the ground in’13).  She said yes, many are still in Barrow but, sadly many of those who had worked for her for 15-20 plus years were forced to move to the lower 48.  She did mention that another Mexican restaurant has opened in Barrow and as Fran put it “it’s in someones backyard I think!”  She actually said she still dreams she will be going back to Barrow and showing them how it’s done.

That’s our Fran! The incredible strength and spirit that first took her to Barrow as the lone woman working on the Alaska Pipeline came though loud in clear.  Before we hung up she had to catch up on us and our family and she’d heard through listeners that we had a book out.  I asked if we could send her a copy and she said, “Please! I do miss my music, doing my radio show and talking about music.”  Guess where I’ll be Sat. morning.  Yep, in the post office mailing a copy of “A Little More Les” to Fran Tate c/o Providence Extended Care 1035 Compassion Circle Anchorage, Alaska 99504. If you haven’t dropped her a card or note, do.  I think hearing from the WGN Radio listeners is good medicine!


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So, What Are We Doing New Year’s Eve?

Just in case you haven’t checked our Events page, we thought you might appreciate this reminder of how our New Year’s Eve plans are shaping up.

10 PM – 2 AM (Or whenever the Blackhawks game wraps up) — It’s the return of Steve & Johnnie’s “Cheap Date Life After Dark New Year’s Eve Extravaganza” on WGN Radio!!

This year marks the the 21st anniversary of the first time we rang in the New Year on the air with you from the Showcase Studio!!  We’ll have live, in studio, performances from several guests, including the man who sang lead on many of The New Colony Six’s hit records, Ronnie Rice, as well as Josh Solomon and Erika Brett from The Empty Pockets, and a return visit from Magoo, and we’ll turn on the blue light for the “Waitress With The Blues,”  Jamie Holesha, who will be joined by Giles Corey.

Watch this space for updates on more guests and as much fun as we can fit in.

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Christmas Eve on WGN Radio

In the midst of your last minute tree decorating or Christmas present wrapping, we hope you’ll be able to spend a little time with us as we rock around WGN radio‘s Christmas tree.

S&J Tribune Christmas tree editWe’ll be on from 1-4PM and, along with guitarist extraordinaire, Joel Paterson, unveiling some brand new Christmas treats, we’ll have a few surprises as we do our best to help Santa find his way to your house.

Ho, Ho, Ho?  Heck yeah!

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Now THAT Was Fun!

We had an absolute blast this morning at WCIU-TV hanging with Melissa Forman and Dr. Laura Berman on You & Me.


Melissa Forman and Dr. Laura Berman with Steve & Johnnie

If you didn’t get to see it, just click this link to check out the video.

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HimNHer & You & Me

In case you haven’t been checking our Events page, just a quick reminder that we’ll be up early Tuesday morning, Dec 1st.

“Why ?” you ask.

Well, it’s because our “A Little More Les” tour is heading to WCIU-TV to join Melissa Forman and Dr. Laura Berman at 8AM on You & Me.

Hope you’ll HimNHer on You & Me.

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