2017 Ford Escape Video Road Test!

Our new Video Road Test of the 2017 Ford Escape has just been posted on Consumer Guide Automotive’s Daily Drive website.   Just click on this link to take a spin with us and see what you think.

2017 Ford Escape

And don’t forget, if you’d like to see some of our previous road tests and take a look at some of the other goodies we’ve been pouring into the Daily Drive tank, just point your browser right here.

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We’re Heading Back to Les Paul’s House of Sound

Just in case you haven’t checked our Events page in a while, we thought our friends in Milwaukee might like to know that we’re headed your way for a very special event and we’d love to see you.

Saturday, 6/10/17

11:00 AM — On the weekend of, what would have been, Les Paul‘s 102nd birthday, we’ll be doing a special appearance/book signing/presentation at Discovery World, in Milwaukee, WI, the home of Les Paul’s House Of Sound.

Russ Paul taking a video of Les with Johnnie & Steve at the opening of Les Paul’s House of Sound

The photo above was taken the day Les Paul’s House of Sound opened.  If you notice, Les held Johnnie’s hand as he walked through the exhibit.  That’s Les’s son, Rusty Paul, taking the video.

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2017 Chrysler Pacifica Video Road Test!

Our Video Road Test of the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Touring-L has just been posted on Consumer Guide Automotive’s Daily Drive website.   Just click on this link to take a drive with us and check it out for yourself.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Touring-L

And don’t forget, if you’d like to see some of our previous road tests and take a look at some of the other goodies we’ve been pouring into the Daily Drive tank, just point your browser right here.

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Chuck Berry: An Appreciation

Chuck Berry taught me how to play guitar!

Oh, sure there was that first year of formal guitar lessons I had, taught by an accordion player who played a little guitar on the side.  But, after that first year, when I found myself just jamming with my teacher I decided to go another way with other “teachers.”

Instead of walking into the music store and sitting down with sheet music in front of me, now I walked into the record store and walked out with my “lessons.”  The first of those “lessons” came in the form of a 78 titled “Roll Over Beethoven.”

I still have it today.

And, try as I may, I still can’t master all those wonderful licks the way Chuck Berry played them.  But then, maybe I shouldn’t feel that bad because, as good as the Beatles version was, George Harrison got close but didn’t quite master Chuck’s licks, either.

My guitar education continued on with additional “teachers” whose lessons were constantly spinning on my turntable.  Teachers such as Scotty Moore, Duane Eddy, Cliff Gallup and, of course, Les Paul.  But a constant thread in all of my early guitar education was Chuck Berry.

“Johnny B Goode” was a revelation!  But then, so was “School Days” and “Carol” and “Sweet Little Rock And Roller” and “Oh Baby Doll” and … and … and too many others to list.

Before long, I had segued from buying Chuck’s singles to adding the instrumental cuts on his albums to my “must learn” list.  If you’re only familiar with the hits Chuck sang and you’ve never heard Chuck Berry instrumentals, do yourself a favor and do an immediate YouTube search for Chuck Berry titles such as “Blue Feeling” and “Mad Lad” (Both played on a pedal steel guitar.) and additional titles such as “Guitar Boogie,” “Rockin’ At The Philharmonic” or “Woodpecker.”

My point is, as much of an incredible lyricist as he was (And, HE WAS!!!), when Chuck was in the mood, he PLAYED and laid down ground rules that still strike relevant chords with guitarists of any era.

But, of course, although Chuck was laying down ground rules for me and thousands of other budding guitarists, his impact went FAR beyond just wood and steel.

The word “amazing” is, unfortunately, overused today to the point of almost having lost its meaning.  However to say that Chuck Berry was a truly AMAZING lyricist who deserved to be called “the poet laureate of Rock & Roll” isn’t exaggerating at all.  It’s simply telling the truth.

For example:

“New Jersey Turnpike in the wee wee hours
I was rollin’ slowly ’cause of drizzlin’ showers
Here come a flat-top, he was movin’ up with me
Then come wavin’ goodbye in a little’ old souped-up jitney
I put my foot on my tank and I began to roll
Moanin’ siren, ’twas the state patrol
So I let out my wings and then I blew my horn
Bye bye New Jersey, I’ve become airborne”

If your mind’s eye isn’t seeing that scene in vivid detail, after hearing or reading those lyrics, I’ll be amazed.

Chuck Berry brought a kind of poetic imagery to Rock & Roll that hadn’t been done before and, along with his guitar playing, that style of Rock & Roll poetry laid down the ground rules for generations of song writers and performers who still follow them to this day.

And then there was that DUCK WALK!

To say the VERY least … Chuck Berry cast a LONG shadow.

However … if you saw the 1987 movie “Hail! Hail! Rock & Roll” you know that long shadow also covered some pretty dark spaces.  Depending on the day, Chuck could be more than a little difficult to deal with.  In fact, some would attest that being difficult to deal with was more the norm for Chuck than not.

I interviewed Chuck Berry in the early 70’s around the time his only #1 record, “My Ding-A-Ling,” was charting.  While I came to the interview with all the respect and admiration I could hold for one of my long time idols, it only took about 5 minutes to realize that this was going to be a “pulling teeth” interview.  Chuck was in a mood and brought a ton of attitude to the conversation.  Was the attitude necessary?  Of course not!  But, that day, that was just part of the Chuck Berry experience.  And, BECAUSE it was Chuck Berry, I went on with the interview and made no objections.

A man loaded with extraordinary talent, Chuck Berry was also a man loaded with contradictions.  As hard as it might have been to really get to know Chuck Berry, I felt that I knew him a lot better after reading his incredibly honest take on his own life, “Chuck Berry: The Autobiography.”  Anyone who listens to Chuck Berry lyrics will know that Chuck Berry wrote this book.  It’s obvious these are Chuck’s words, not those of a ghostwriter, and these words will probably tell you more about the man than anything else you can find.

In the mid 90’s a WGN radio listener saw Chuck in Las Vegas.  She knew Johnnie and I were big fans of his and asked him to autograph a photo for us.

As you can see he signed it as if it was already 1999.  She asked him why the 1999.  He said he hoped to still be performing then.  Chuck Berry was still performing in 2016 … and his music will still be playing long after … even in outer space.

Hail! Hail! Rock & Roll!  Long live Chuck Berry!


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Hangin’ With Delbert McClinton!

Those of you who have been with us for a while know we’re huge fans of multi-Grammy award winner and legendary singer/musician, Delbert McClinton.  We’re also very fortunate to have known him for quite some time.  Delbert was one of the artists who were nice enough to let us use one of their live performances on a charity CD we did, in 2000, called “Life After Dark.”

Steve & Johnnie’s “Life After Dark” CD

Well, we hadn’t seen Delbert in a while and when we heard he was going to be appearing at one of our favorite haunts, Space, in Evanston, we immediately made plans to stop in and catch up.

Delbert couldn’t have been nicer.  We had a great conversation and he was nice enough to let us record some of his performance.

Steve & Johnnie backstage with Delbert McClinton at Space, in Evanston.

The video of some of our conversation and Delbert’s performance of one of the songs from his new album, “Prick of the Litter,” are now posted on the Steve & Johnnie page of WGN Radio’s website.   We hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Just click this link and turn it up!


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Dashing Through Monday’s Snow …

Proving that timing is everything, assuming we can all make it through the predicted snowfall, this Monday, March 13, at 1:15 PM, our “A Little More Les” book tour lands at the The Nineteenth Century Club, in Oak Park (178 Forest Avenue, Oak Park, IL, 60301) for an appearance/book signing.

And yes, along with sharing many personal and behind the scenes stories about the legendary Les Paul, we’re bringing a VERY special Les Paul guitar with us.

Steve & Johnnie holding a VERY special Les Paul guitar.

We’ll tell the story behind the guitar when we see you. Hope you can join us. For more information, just click on this link.

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2017 Toyota 86 Video Road Test!

Our Video Road Test of the 2017 Toyota 86 has just been posted on Consumer Guide Automotive’s Daily Drive website.  So, what did we think of the morphing of the former Scion FR-S into this new/old Toyota model?   Just click on the link above and see for yourself.

2017 Toyota 86

2017 Toyota 86

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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