I was saddened to hear of the sudden passing of Ric Ocasek. I handle these kinds of passings a lot better than I used to, but somehow this one got under my skin more than I thought it would.
I remember very well when the !rst album by The Cars came out. I was 16 years old. It was highly successful, and of course, I bought it immediately. The album had a fresh and clean sound that was unlike a lot of what you heard on the radio. Being a huge Queen fan, I was also excited that Roy Thomas Baker had produced it.
I liked The Cars a lot, but when their second album “Candy-O” came out in 1979 I was in love with them and totally hooked. I wore that 8-track out. I still have memories of my first summer out of high school, laying by the pool with my girlfriend and listening to it over and over. And it was a staple in my car stereo from 8-Track to cassette to CD. I remained a big fan and followed them until they disbanded. Last year I purchased all of the reissues on colored vinyl, and The Cars got a LOT of new spins on my turntable. It felt good to give their music a lot of attention again.
Ric reminded me of Joey Ramone. If you had met them both before their success, and basing them only on the physical appearance you would have thought they would have been the last people in the world to become rock stars. But they were both brilliant, quirky songwriters who gave us some of the timeless rock and roll and pop music of their generation. Damn, where does the time go? To quote the late great Eddie Money, “I wanna go back...and do it all over.”
Starting at a very early age like most young boys, I forever dreamed about being like and working with my heroes when I grew up. Never really thinking, of course, it could ever really happen. Through my life as a musician, I have been fortunate enough to meet many of my heroes. I have also had the chance to work with a handful of them.
I placed the musical artistry, versatility, and brilliance of Gino Vannelli on an extraordinarily high pedestal not long after first hearing his music in 1975. For the serious musicians, scholars and dedicated fans who have consistently followed his career from 1973 until now no further explanation is needed. If you are only acquainted with Gino’s top 10 radio hits, then you owe it to yourself to catch up on all you have missed. It will be a road well worth traveling.
Gino Vannelli tops the list of any musician living today who I ever had dreams, or fantasies if you will, of working with. When I had the chance to start studying with him several years back, it was like the sky had opened for me, and I was profoundly grateful and honored. So imagine my delight when he recently asked me to be a background vocalist in his new video.
Gino’s new video is a Spanish version of his beautiful song, “Road To Redemption” from his new CD, “Wilderness Road.” To help him accurately translate and articulate his vocal performance, Gino brought in the famous and widely respected South American songwriter, pianist and recording artist, Alejandro Learner. I was not familiar with Alejandro or his distinguished career at the start, but after the video shoot and dinner afterward, I found out how doubly blessed I was. He was a very genuine, friendly, and kind man. He even brought us all delicious South American chocolates!
To round out the rest of the ensemble, Gino brought in local Portland musicians, vocalist Lauren Steele and stand up bassist Cary Miga. I had met Cary previously when Gino was auditioning musicians to perform on the album which he will be producing and recording for me in 2020. Cary is a great guy, a lot of fun and a fantastic bass player. Lauren Steele is a beautiful, talented young vocalist, and it was a joy to sing with her.
We shot the entire video in one day on August 13, 2019. That is great for the budget, but it all seemed to go by too quickly and was over before we knew it. Gino and Alejandro were in a great mood, and there were a lot of laughs, which I think comes through warmly in the video. Afterward, we had dinner at Tad’s Chicken N’ Dumplins in Troutdale where we enjoyed more laughs, conversation, and great food.
When dinner was over, we all said our goodbyes and I got into my black rent a car which just happened to be parked next to Gino’s black car. If only they had been in the shade, it would have made for the perfect evening.
I encourage you to take the time to watch both versions of “Road To Redemption.” For your convenience, links are posted directly below. Last but not least please visit www.ginov.com and www.amazon.com and complete your Gino Vannelli record/CD/DVD collection.
Still walking the night...
When I was a child we had one electronic visual tube in our home. The Boob Tube. “The Boob Tube,” as it was a"ectionately called by my Mom and Dad, is of course, the television set. “The Boob Tube” has proven over time, in my opinion, to be quite an appropriate name for this little recreational appliance. It appears to me that it e"ectively and continuously proceeds to make larger “boobs” out of all of us. Time and time and time again. Myself occasionally included. Before I go any further, and not meaning to o"end, I wish to clarify my chosen adjective for our friendly little electronic playmate. I use the term “boob” as a noun. It’s de!nition meaning a stupid person, fool, or a dunce. A little harsh, maybe. But I would assume that we can all !nd reference in our own life where television has made a dunce out of us. Probably more than once. But to be completely fair, not everything on television is bad. Far from it, actually.
Television is full of educational programs that when used properly and in moderation can be an extremely useful tool in ones growth. But on the other hand we have shows like American Idol, The Voice, Reality TV, etc,. etc., etc., that while entertaining to some (and yes, we all need our own individual form of entertainment), they do not go a long way in showing us reality, or stimulating our urge to educate ourselves and grow. In fact, in my opinion we are just regressing further and further thanks to good ole’ prime time. As it has been since the beginning of the television era, we are completely at the mercy of the media. Well, that is until YouTube came along.
YouTube has grown into one of the most powerful and widely used media machines in the world. I believe the main reason is that we as individuals are responsible for its programming. Not a board room of suits in Hollywood. We have the capability to upload, educate, watch and entertain ourselves like we wish to be served. That is huge. Thank you very much. While I have had a You Tube account for quite some time, I have just recently become educated on how useful a tool it can be for promotion and e"ectively getting my music and my message out to more people. Call me a late bloomer. What the heck. At any rate, I am intrigued and hope that you will join me on my visual journey. To where I am not so sure, but I am very curious to where it will take me and hope you will tag along for the ride. I will be posting new videos every Monday and Thursday and I encourage all of you who enjoy what I do to check them out, comment and share them with your friends if you so desire. Your small donation of a few minutes could possibly make a world of di"erence for my music. You just never know.
So, there it is. Thank you for letting me bend your ear, and thank you for giving me yours for so many years.
You can subscribe and view my channel at .
"Ramblings From Jeff" - is a dedicated personal blog page within JeffPike.com written and posted by Jeff Pike.