A Crowded Penthouse 

A crowded penthouse, perched as a friendly siren,
Calling to all who may listen or join.
A flashing lighthouse of the truly cool,
Omitting groovy colors and sounds.
Rock and Roll professed in its most modest form
And endured by its makers.
An emotional bonding of mood,
Yes temporal, yet planted like seed;
A catalyst of values, we play and dance.

In the easy unwinding from climactic hours
Of six-string wooden guitars and songs,
This painting of a modern day minstrels orgy
Fades to a serene awe.
All that I see looking in at entranced fiends
Is genial lads engulfed in blue light;
An abstract portrait.
All that I hear, the strongest lure I know,
Is the beautiful voice of a sincere angel
Mating with notes from taught steel.
And tonight... Landslide is her parting song to us.

- JT

Joey Camp 

August 9, 2009

I am the only counselor at “Joey Camp” today as it is a hot, muggy, sticky summer day.  It’s getting hotter and hotter and hotter each and every year.  Joey D. is playing outside on “Docks” deck along Bang’s Lake in Wauconda; about 80 miles from the Tinley / Orland where Joey resides and the closest lake being a retention pond.  The boaters and bikers are eased and receptive to Joey as he starts off with a “Looped” version of “Can’t Always Get What You Want” into “Stir It Up”.  I am always impressed with Joey’s sound control and quality when using only one main speaker and no monitor.  He stands in front of the speaker which is pushing sound across the entire 40’ by 80’ dining and bar area without the tiniest peak of feedback.

I enjoy even more to spy the other listeners who are drawn into the “Looping” mechanics.  I see a dozen, or so, patrons watching curiously as they hear the rhythm guitar continue while Joey steps on peddles and drops in a bass line and then picks the leads.  They understand that he is not using “pre-records”.  They clearly understand that it is all him, with a little help from his little friends. 

“My occupational hazard being, my occupation’s just not around”; my reluctant mantra.  Joey rolls through a “Me and Julio” medley including seven different songs and slightly different tempos all ending with a chorus of “Me and Julio”.  That’s how you play a four hour gig by yourself. 

Medleys show us the common genetics of classic hits that are usually elusive to non-musicians.  In fact, the most common genetics of rock-n-roll are the keys of G, C, D and E which contain genomes (properties) allowing strains of A, Am, Em, sharps and sevenths to color the progression changes, yet still within the major make-up of the four standards of rock-n-roll.

Strumming arrangements and tempo create progressions which give a song its identity and causing compositions of the same genetics to reveal themselves completely different.

Not unlike the carbon-based individuals that do the composing.

Again we ask, “Does art imitate life, or does life imitate art?”

- JT

Friday the 13th 

November 13, 2009

A busy day amongst a busy, busy week “pays off” with a quick jaunt to the C.B.P. in the D.G. where we find Joey D. and accompaniment on a “not so ominous” Friday the 13th.  I recall many psycho-sematic-induced creepy Fridays that fell on the 13th in the autumn month but this particular evening is without such mysticism.  Bart and Joey are working the C.B.P. playlist of Marley, Grateful Dead, CSNY and Sublime hits.  Being the few opportunities I have to hang with Joey when he loops or leads “The Catch”, I get to hear the songs Joey has added to his repertoire lately.  I get to hear what he’s finding and likes.  J.D. is pure; like a child who is always discovering new candies.  He chooses songs to play based on the quality of the song rather than the popularity of the song or how well he can play it.  Fearless.  
As Joey Derus is a committed student of music, he is an ideal teacher.  Today he teaches me to focus more on strumming than holding notes; to consider my right hand as my drummer (timekeeper), my groove, my pilot; my best friend.  Many believe that the best way to teach is to speak the student’s language.  On this topic, I am one of the many.  If I could just learn everyone’s language, I could teach the world; but what would I teach?

- JT


Northeastern Illinois University band concert starring Joey Derus, Tony Tabor and a forty person-plus ensemble.  A real concert of dedicated “students of music” playing in unison, and in sections, using forced air through wooden and brass tubes, sticks and mallets colliding with taught skins and strings. They “tune” in sections and the house lights drop as we embark on an adventure that stimulates our imaginations with complicated arrangements of rhythm, harmonics and percussion.

A George Gershwin composition takes us on a slightly whimsical instrumental story which has been famed by animating the final eighteen minutes of the 1951 “American in Paris”. I presume, the music coincides with the actor’s emotions, thought s and actions where no words are necessary.  A wonderful world for those who can see it…from the audio arrangement.  

After the concert, Joey D., Tony T. and myself roll out from the NEU theater and boogie westbound to Homer Glenn’s Vista Lounge while the Bulls and Celtics go into overtime. We arrive as Noah muscles a turnover for a lay-up and draws a foul.  126 – 123. Celtics foul... foul... foul.  Bulls WIN 128 – 127.

There are times like these when I should be solely focused on earning more money, developing my son’s work ethics, working on home projects, helping my wife with adult responsibilities and practicing guitar, but certainly not running around with friends to concerts and jamming in bars. My weaknesses and crutches are enabled by rationalizations. Murphy pulls up to an “unstable table”.

Dynamics.  Joey and Tony understand the value of dynamics. The two of them alone can make a three minute song feel like an epic jam simply by involving slow builds into fantastic furies and then BAM!...mellow and harmonic. Mood swings oiled by dynamic arrangements of melody, taught strings and skins.

As we approach midnight, we move into something sublime. The door is open to the patio full of smokers and it feels like “summertime” in the LBC.  

- JT

Welcome to the Chronicles Music Review 

This Chicago land is parent to a most diverse family of Art and Science, of work ethics and leisure, caution and courage, open minds and conviction, knowledge and wonder.

Here we share our “highs” and “lows”

We welcome love and pain

We cross paths and gather. 

We indulge in the eclectic and need to feed our senses with aromas and spices, and audio feasts that give reason for us Social Animals to stray from our dens and we experience life “LIVE”.

This Engine of dynamics pushes verses upon melodies upon rhythms that make us shake our bones and shift perspective.

So with words, words, words, that paint a thousand pictures; come share your experience of living “LIVE”.        

- JT