VOTE!

We abandoned our “safer at home” environment for a little while, but it was for a good cause.

The most important item on our “to do” list has now been taken care of.

Here’s hoping you can cross it off your list, too.

Stay safe.

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R.I.P. Lou Pallo

We were saddened to hear the news that our friend, New Jersey guitarist, Lou Pallo, who was part of the Les Paul Trio, died on Wednesday, October, 28, at 86.

Lou Pallo with Les Paul (Photo Credit: Chris Lentz)

We first met Lou in 2003 when we were in Nashville for Muriel Anderson‘s “All-Star Guitar Night tribute to Les at the legendary Ryman Auditorium.

Lou was an accomplished jazz guitarist who, along with his lengthy association with Les, recorded with and/or shared the stage with Tony Bennett, Keith Richards, Sammy Davis, Jr. Rickie Lee Jones, John “Bucky” Pizzarelli and many others.

We thought it might be an appropriate tribute to Lou to share the on-air conversation we had with him on WGN radio the night we’d just learned of Les Paul’s passing. That night Lou reflected on his lengthy friendship with Les and the chemistry they had on stage. This conversation is one of many interviews and personal memories found in our book about Les Paul, “A Little More Les.”

The man who sat alongside Les playing at Fat Tuesdays, the Club Iridium and anytime we were fortunate enough to see Les, at the tribute night down in Nashville at the Ryman, at his homecoming in Waukesha and at the Pabst Theater, in Milwaukee is Lou Pallo.  Lou joins us now. 

SK: Lou, thank you for joining us and first of all please accept our condolences our sympathies on the loss of your dear friend.

Lou:  Yes, thank you he was a very dear friend and a great musician.

J:  Amen. Lou, how many years did you work with Les?

Lou:  I worked with Les 25 years

S:  How’d you meet?

Lou:  Going back to when I was a teenager I played Les Paul and Mary Ford “How High the Moon” on the jukebox and it just knocked me out.   I said, “Wow! What a sound.  What a sound!  Unbelievable!”  And I just played it over and over, maybe 50 times and at that time it was 5 cents to play the jukebox.  It was a  78 then.  I just idolized him.  Then in ‘60-‘61 I was at a bar in Greenwood Lakes, New York and he was sitting at the bar, I didn’t know it was him.  He called me over and said “My name is Les Paul” and I said “THE Les Paul?” He said, “Yes.”  I said “Oh my God, all my life I’d wanted to meet you.”  He gave me his phone number and I went to his house the next day and from then on we became friends.  But, to work with someone you really idolize that’s an honor.

S:  When was the first time you worked with him professionally?

Lou:  I was working a gig in New Jersey in 1975. I was by myself, I was a single and he would come in.  In fact, one year he came in eighty something times.  We counted.  He would come in with his guitar, he lived up the street from where I worked.  So, he would bring his guitar and sit in with me and it was just fabulous.

J:  I bet you were just pinching yourself saying, “This is just too cool.”

Lou:  Oh, exactly.  He just knocked me out.  He was great.  He was a great man.  I really feel so bad today.

S:  His sense of humor always shone through, not only in the conversations we had with him on the air and conversations he had with other people but, the musical conversations he would have.  There were times when he would play these licks and he’d be looking at you and I could tell the two of you had these little musical jokes going on didn’t you?

Lou:  Yes, yes we did.  I was always looking at him and he’d look at me and I knew exactly what he was thinking of.  I knew just where he was going with all the experience of being with him.

J:  And, even though he’d done thousands of shows when he was going to do a show he was there for the show. Ready to perform, focused, in the zone.

Lou:  Oh yes.  Yes, in the 25 years we did two shows every Monday.  We’d get to the club at 4 in the afternoon and we’d be on that stage from 4 til show time.  We said he was a perfectionist yet, he said he wasn’t.  He was a perfectionist.

J:  I remember we were sitting in the auditorium at the Ryman for the sound check and even though the man wore hearing aids, he knew the sound he wanted and he worked with the sound crew until he got the sound he wanted.  That was his m.o. he came to work and he was going to do his job right.

Lou:  Exactly.

S:  Lou, I know this has been a long day for you but, if you could put into words not only how you think Les will be remembered but, how will you remember Les?

Lou:  I’ll never forget him, I can tell you that.  Every time I pick up a guitar he’ll be there next to me.  Thank you for remembering him in Chicago and continue to do that.

J:  We certainly will.  Tonight we celebrate his life and you were the perfect person to start out with so, thank you Lou. Good night.

S:  I remember when we saw Les in Waukesha I was so impressed with Lou’s guitar and it’s a Les Paul.  I got a chance to tell him how much I loved the sound of his guitar and he said, “Les does too! He’s always trying to buy this guitar off me.”

J:  Lou was such a big part of the show.  Not only because of his skill as a guitarist but, he’s a great vocalist too.

S:  One of the fun parts of the show is when Lou sings, “Making Whoppie” and Les would sit with his arms folded over top of his guitar and when Lou got to the line “makin’ whoppie” Lou would stop and Les would hit just the right notes and the crowd would go nuts!

J:  Yes! He knew just the right notes for the punch line and the audience would be like putty in his hands.

Lou Pallo performs “Makin’ Whoopee” with The Les Paul Trio

Following Les Paul’s death in 2009, Lou kept performing at the Iriduim Jazz Club, in New York, and recorded a tribute album titled “Thank-You, Les.” Joining Lou on the album were Keith Richards, Steve Miller (Les Paul’s godson), Slash, Billy Gibbons and others. He also recorded the Jersey Guitar Mafia album with Bucky Pizzarelli, Frank Vignola and Al Caiola.

Lou Pallo may not have achieved the world-wide headliner status of some of his famous on-stage partners but, when he joined them or they joined him, it was on a level playing field. Lou Pallo was the consummate professional and friend who only made any stage partner sound better.

Somewhere there’s music and Lou and Les are reunited. If you listen … really listen … you can hear it … and the resounding applause.

R.I.P. Lou Pallo

Posted in Guitar Related, Les Paul, Music, R.I.P., WGN | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Our Halloween Poem

Well hello again dear fiends … er, friends. It’s that time again and, as usually happens this time each year, the closer we get to Halloween, the more requests we get from many of you asking about the Halloween poem that was a part of our show for many years.

And so, once again crawling out from the depths of Halloween’s past, it’s the return of our Halloween Poem.  It’s a fun “trick” to add to your bag of treats for your little people.

Of course, this year is not like any we’ve shared before. The scary reality that is 2020 means that, unlike previous years when we would suggest you invite a bunch of little people to your Halloween party and share the poem with them, this year we’re offering it to you as a possible fun option for your own child or children who may be going a bit stir-crazy from staying “safe at home” and just might welcome the idea of a fun, at home, event this Halloween.

For the uninitiated, this is a poem which, in one form or another, we’ve been presenting on radio and the Internet for several decades.  Honestly, we don’t know the origin of the poem. A listener sent it to Steve many years ago in a galaxy far, far away in the days before him n her became HimNHer.  The positive response to the poem and the fun it can provide, particularly for kids, at a Halloween party resulted in it becoming one of our annual traditions.  And, as Steve’s Dad always said, “Tradition is a fine thing as long as it doesn’t become a habit.”

But, we digress …

OK, here is how it works.  Tell your little person, or little people, that you’ve got a special Halloween treat for them. Then, just get them in a dark room and read them this story of a young man who went to school to learn to be a first-class ghoul.  As you’re reading the story, in the dim light, you pass out items that are supposed to be body parts.  Johnnie has put together a list of things you can use to simulate the body parts.  To make the story even scarier, you can play the audio of Steve’s voice reading the poem.

To read and hear the Halloween poem just click on this link.

Again this year, we have to say a huge THANK YOU to Dave Marzullo, one of the hardest working SPIRITS at WGN Radio for jumping through more Internet hoops than you’ll ever know to make our Halloween poem and it’s audio available.

Even in this high-tech world, each year we hear from a lot of people telling stories of the fun they had with the kids and this old school Halloween poem.  Hopefully, you’ll be one of them.

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Crockpot Apple Butter

If you are not familiar with Apple Butter allow me to explain…there is no butter in Apple Butter. It’s spicy applesauce that’s cooked til it caramelizes and turns into a concentrated fruit spread for toast, muffins or in cookies or fruit bars etc.

You can use Fuji, Gala, Macintosh, Jonagold and toss in a few Granny Smith.

Peel and core 6 pounds of apples. That’s 10-12 medium apples. 

Slice or chunk apples and put in the crockpot/slow cooker.

In a bowl mix:1 cup of white sugar1 cup brown sugar (I use 1/2 dark & 1/2 light brown sugar) 

Add 1 TB of cinnamon, 1/2 tsp of nutmeg, 1/4 tsp ground cloves, 1/4 tsp salt
Later you’ll need:1 TB vanilla 

Mix sugar and spices and add to apples. Toss apples to coat.

Put the lid on the crockpot and set the crockpot on low. Next,  set your timer for 10 hours. Yes, 10 hours!

In 10 hours take the lid off and add 1 TB vanilla extract. Stir and leave uncovered simmering on low for 2 more hours.

When time’s up use an immersion hand blender or potato masher and carefully (because its dangerously hot!) smash any pieces that are left intact.

You’ll have a deep brown smooth apple spread. You can refrigerate it til its cool then pour into jars and keep refrigerated. No canning process is necessary.

This recipe makes 4 generous pints.

Enjoy,

Johnnie 

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Goodbye Summer… Hello Autumn 🍁🍂

Remember boys and girls how, months ago, in a previous post about The Wonderful Tree Lady we told you that, if you were good, stayed safe and washed your hands, you might see more of The Wonderful Tree Lady’s adventures in future posts?

Well, it seems you’ve been good and, since we’ve just found out that The Wonderful Tree Lady has been at it again, we wanted you to share a few pictures with you of  some of the magic she sprinkled around to welcome Autumn in to our house.

The Autumn tree by day.

The Autumn tree by night.

 

It wouldn’t really be Autumn without a scarecrow now, would it?

A few goodies on the table.

The Wonderful Tree Lady has a good eye for design.

She likes pickup trucks, too!

Could some candy corn be hiding in that box?

Along with sharing these pictures with you, before she left, The Wonderful Tree Lady wanted to make sure we shared a warm Happy Autumn greeting from our house to yours.

Stay safe!

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B.B. King — The Thrill Ain’t Gone!

Riley “B.B.” King would have turned 95 on September 16th, 2020.

I’ve been thinking about him and, if you’ll indulge me, I thought I’d share a little of what’s been playing in my head.

In no particular order:

As a kid, I was aware of B.B. from the days when I lived on Chicago’s south side and, late at night, used to turn my radio to, sometimes distant, stations that played his music.  Now and then I would see a poster advertising a B.B. King appearance at Chicago’s legendary Regal Theater and would try to imagine what one of those shows would be like.  It wasn’t until 1965, when B.B.’s seminal “Live At The Regal” album was released, that I got to hear the reality and it was miles ahead of any fantasy I’d had.

B.B. King’s “Live At The Regal” album

To this day, every time I listen to that album, I just start smiling.  His interplay with Lucille and interaction with the audience is a defining “lightning in a bottle” moment that captures just how good B.B. was.

And, yes, he really was THAT good!

One year earlier, in 1964, the same year the Beatles took over the airwaves, it blew me away the first time I heard “Rock Me Baby” being played on WLS.  B.B. King being played on a really big deal Chicago radio station was, to my mind and ears, indeed, a big deal!

A decade later, I would be working at WLS and have the chance to meet and interview B.B. for our weekly artist profile show, “MusicPeople.”  My strongest memory of that interview is that B.B. couldn’t have been nicer. You know how sometimes you’re afraid to meet your idols because they won’t live up to your expectations? Well, B.B. far exceeded any expectations I had.  A large man with a large smile and warm personality quickly put me at ease and, even though I had a few notes in my pocket, helped make that interview seem much more like just a friendly conversation.  A copy of that interview is hiding somewhere in our audio archives and, one of these days, when it floats to the top of the pile, I’ll post the audio.

Thankfully, that first meeting turned into the first of many friendly conversations with B.B.

Years later, when I was at WIND and, years after that, when Johnnie and I segued to WGN radio, B.B. was nice enough to join us on several occasions.  It wasn’t unusual, even if he’d just finished a show or we’d been told by one of his P.R. people to keep it a short conversation, for B.B. to make it obvious that he was enjoying talking with us and was happy to stay longer.

Long time Chicagoans will remember the, now shuttered, Mill Run Theater, in Niles, IL.  This was a really nice “theater in the round” venue located in a near-north suburb of Chicago.  In 1972, when I heard the site had booked Ray Charles with B.B. King as his special guest, it became a “must see” event for me.

Mill Run stage bill for The Ray Charles show with B.B. King

Not surprisingly, it was a really memorable evening with the two blues legends.  B.B. opened the show and, with all due respect to Ray, who of course later in the show proved that he was the Genius, if B.B. had been the only act, the audience still would have felt they got more than their money’s worth.  Seeing, B.B. with Lucille and his incredibly tight band up close and personal brought back the smiles that accompanied my listening to “Live At The Regal” in the previous decade.  This was one of many nights when I’ve wondered, “Why do they call it the blues, when it makes you feel so good?”

Speaking of seeing B.B. live, one of my favorite videos that shows just how cool B.B. was is this one where he breaks a string on Lucille right in the middle of a song and just keeps singing while he changes the string.  Take a look.

Now, THAT’S cool!

I’ve mentioned Lucille and, on the off chance that any of you reading this don’t know who she is, I’ll explain that Lucille is the name B.B. gave to all of his guitars.  The name came about after B.B. ran back into a club that was on fire to retrieve his guitar.  He later found out that the fire was started during a fight over a girl named Lucille.  While Lucille took on various shapes early on, for most of his career, she was a Gibson ES-355.  I was more than a little pleased when I found out that was B.B.’s weapon of choice because that’s the same choice I made back in 1959 and she’s still my main guitar today.  In later years, B.B. played and endorsed a signature custom model that Gibson and Epiphone made specially for him.  One of the recent additions to my guitar family is the Epiphone version of Lucille and, while my 59 will always be my #1 guitar, I can easily see why B.B. loved her.

Doing a little “porch pickin'” with Lucille

Now, playing as well as B.B.?  Well … I can dream.

But, speaking of real players, my long-time friend and former guitar partner back in the late 50s and early 60s, Kal David, who also carved out quite a legendary career, including being recognized as one of the world’s best blues guitarist himself, credits B.B. as having been his first idol.  Kal and the wonderful Miss Lauri Bono were scheduled to open for him when B.B. fell ill during a performance at the House of Blues, in Chicago and had to cancel the final shows of, what turned out to be, B.B.’s final tour.

At the beginning of this missive, I said that’ I’d been thinking about B.B. and just wanted to share a little of what’s been playing in my head.  Well, I have and that’s it … for now.  But, I can assure you that lots of B.B. will continue playing in my head and lots of other locations throughout the universe for a long, long time.

The song may say “The Thrill Is Gone,” but the soul of this man and his music lives on.

Steve

Posted in Guitar Related, Music, Partly Personal, R.I.P. | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

2020 Lexus NX 300 F Sport Road Test!

Our Video Road Test, of the 2020 Lexus NX 300 F Sport is now posted on Consumer Guide Automotive’s Daily Drive website.

2020 Lexus NX 300 F Sport

So, what did we think of this compact premium SUV?

Just click on this link to take a ride with us and see for yourself.

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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77!

Sunday, July 26, 2020, I (Steve) observed the completion of 77 turns around the sun.

In no particular order, I thought I’d share a few thoughts about that milestone.

This was the first time I’ve marked a birthday in the middle of a pandemic.  I won’t complain if it’s the last.

Johnnie makes the best birthday cake!

Johnnie’s gluten-free chocolate fudge layer cake with vanilla frosting!

Actually, anything Johnnie makes is the best!

2020’s pandemic party curtailed any in-person birthday party events and substituted video screen connecting.  I’m not one for big parties anyway, but I do look forward to the small gathering of family and friends that usually populates our patio.  One of the things getting together via video underscored was that while loved ones may not have been physically present, love was.

During a birthday video chat with a relative, who shall remain nameless, Johnnie and I learned that, if you’re holding your cell phone low enough and close enough to your nose, you can look just like Mr. Potato Head.

Now that I’ve put 77 turns around the sun behind me, I’m probably a bit more aware of the prevalence of ageism and it’s one of the many “isms” I won’t put up with.  But then, I felt the same way when I was 17.  I’m not sure if that means that I haven’t grown up or if it means more people need to.

One of the oft-repeated birthday questions is, “What would you tell your younger self?”  Other than a suggestion to avoid gluten, I don’t really know.  But, I am reasonably sure we’d have a good conversation.

Actually, now that I think about it, there is one thing I’d tell my younger self, “Believe it or not, you’re the guy who gets THE girl!”

I share a birth date and year with Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones.  I suppose it’s possible he’s played in front of a few more people than I have but, I know, there is no way he loves making music more.

A little birthday weekend pickin’ on the patio.

Speaking of music, like many of you, COVID-19 and the resulting lifestyle change to “safer at home” along with some family health issues hit the pause button on several things I had planned for my 76th year.  One of them was finally finishing and releasing an album that I’d planned on calling “Spirit Of 76.’  Well, it’s still on the burner for year 77 (the album, not the title) but, if it doesn’t get finished in the next 12 months, the following year, I may have to go really old school … and release it as a 78.

As Johnnie said, “It’s not like any birthday we ever imagined, but we are together and healthy…the best gifts ever.”

And, in 2020, those gifts mean more than ever.

Stay safe.

Steve

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Throwback Thursday: WIND Radio

In a previous post, 1975, we mentioned that we’re going through our photo archives for our second book, tentatively titled “Life After Dark.”  Well, the archeological photo digs continue and we’ve unearthed a few from our days at WIND radio, in Chicago, so we thought we’d share them with the class.

In 1980 Steve interviewed The Village People and Producer Jacques Morali, who were in Chicago promoting the movie “Can’t Stop The Music.”

Steve with Producer, Jacques Morali, & The Village People

As you can see, there was a bit of a stir in the halls when Steve took Leatherman around to say hi.

Steve taking Leatherman (Glenn Hughes) around WIND.

In 1982, WIND did a special Saturday morning remote of Steve’s show and invited listeners to come down, see the broadcast and watch the sunrise at The Adler Planetarium. He invited the new kid, Johnnie, to come down, join the broadcast, and meet the listeners.

HimNHer getting to know each other.

Also joining the broadcast was another WIND personality, our “Night Crawler” friend, Ted Lauterbach.

Ted Lauterbach and Johnnie

It was a memorable morning that gave us a chance to hang out with a few hundred listeners who got up early and joined us for coffee, doughnuts and a great view.

Steve hoping he didn’t get the dreaded “headphone hair.”

All of these photos were taken before we even started dating and it’s kind of fun to look back on “the way we were.”  We hope you enjoy the occasional look into the wayback machine, too.

At this point, we’re probably, at least, a year away from finishing our second book, so don’t be surprised if, as we unearth more “treasures,” we share a few more of our discoveries with you.

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When life gives you lemons …

… make lemon cakes! (Better than Starbucks)

2 Lemon Loaves

Preheat oven to 350

Spray pans with Pam or grease one 9×5 loaf -bake 50-55 minutes

OR

2 med loaf -bake 35-45 min OR

4 small loaf pans-bake 30-35 min (muffin tins work too just adjust the baking time)

Mix all ingredients by hand. No mixer needed!

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar

3 eggs at room temp

1 c sour cream or Greek yogurt

1/2 c vegetable or canola oil

2 TB lemon zest(about 1 lg lemon. Save the lemon to juice for the glaze)

2 TB lemon extract

1 1/2 cups flour (I use King Arthur’s Gluten Free or Cup 4 Cup gluten free flour)

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

And then …

Add the lemon zest to the cup of sugar. With a rubber spatula muddle

the zest flavoring into the sugar or use your fingers & rub the zest into the sugar turning it yellow

Add sour cream or yogurt. Mix well.

Add oil and extract. Mix well.

Add eggs. Mix well but, don’t overwork the batter.

Flour, baking powder and salt can be mixed together and slowly incorporate dry into wet ingredients.

Mix well

Bake according to pan sizes (Test center of loaf with toothpick for doneness).

Let cool

Glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar

Add juice of the lemon that was zested. For extra zing you can add a tsp of lemon extract. Mix sugar and juice until it is pourable but, not too thin.  Add more sugar to thicken

When blended taste.

Too tart?  Add more sugar. Not zingy enough add more juice or extract(careful extract is strong).

Remove loaves from pan and pour the glaze over.

Enjoy!

Johnnie

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