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Let's see, it's been so long since I've just said "hey" and let you guys know what's been up with me. It's been a lot, actually.

Two weeks ago Katelynn, Malori and I drove up to Detroit to have lunch with Cathy and another dear, dear mutual friend I don't get to see nearly as often as I would like. When I heard she was going to be in town (er near) lunch was an absolute necessity. There was a secondary motive for running up there - but -- anyhow, I get a head of myself.

There was a private concert being held by a radio station that was. . . well run by freaks. . to be brutally honest. We wanted in. . . but I was pretty sure going in that it just wasn't going to happen. So we faced the day with the attitude of lunch with friends is always awesome, and anything bonus, is just that bonus.

To sum it all up -- oh my goodness did we get bonuses!!! Katelynn was *especially* thrilled and walked around on air with a huge smile on her face for days.

Which was good for her. Last weekend some so called friends were suppose to come over, but they all bailed, which really sucked. We ended up having a good weekend anyway. We went to the Storm games on Saturday and Sunday. Alli came with (:::waving hi to Alli:::) and it was a lot of fun, even if our team does kinda suck.

Cathy and Paul came down on Sunday, and Malori came over because the concert we went to in Rockford last year was *FINALLY* being broadcast on HD NET, so it was a Rick-fest. Brad made a great big bunch of ribs for dinner, and I made a bunch of fixings. I opened the wonderful bottle of wine Cathy had bought me for my birthday last November and we kicked back to try and see ourselves on tv. Alli was over, and she started watching with us, but when after a while she bailed and went back downstairs to play pool with the guys.

Let's see -- Cathy saw Malori
Malori saw me
I saw Katelynn (twice)
Katelynn spied me once too I think

I don't think anyone picked Cathy out, but she was SOOOOO sick, she spent a lot of time in the hallway at that show. We also saw a lot of other familiar faces. . it was a lot of fun.

I went to Books-A-Million yesterday to just look around. To my surprise I found the latest in LKH's Anita Blake series on an endcap. (I thought it came out this next Tuesday) The paperback novelette (as she's calling it) Michahis suppose to just be a mini-taste between novels, and she plans on doing more of these that focuses on specific relationships between Anita and the many many many men in her life. This one of course is about her and Michah. It's about 250 pages, and I knocked it off in about 3 hours of reading. Yes, a very easy read. Yes, it was good enough to keep me turning pages. I've always been intrigued with Michah, the mysterious were-leopard king, even though he's only been around for the last few novels in the series. .

I became extremely hopeful when in the first chapter my absolute favorite character, Asher, was mentioned more then he has in the last two or three books, but I should have known it would be short lived. This was Michah's story, after all. On the plus side, this book focused much less on Anita's weird and twisted sex life. On the minus side, the story lacked, her attempt at working in a mystery with the romance failed. . .mostly I guess, there was just never enough of the story developed for me to give a flying F one way or the other what happened to the zombie, or what the FBI agents big secret was. I wanted to know about Michah, yes the mystery was the catalyst story that got them on the weekend out of town away from all the other major characters, but it was/is really undeveloped.

If you big on the series though, it's well worth the read for the insight, and the sneak peak at the full length novel coming in June, Danse Macabre (The first chapter included in the paperback) was a special treat.

Current Mood: busy busy

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In my conversations with Gretchen it became obvious that first and foremost she is a songwriter. Her passion for the art was not only evident from the interviews, and in her bio, but in the incredible details in the songs themselves. I was curious whether she was a methodical writer, who focuses on the art in a ritualistic way, or was the type who had to wait for the muse to strike. Her response,

If I have some kind of a deadline to fulfill then I'll write every day, usually at a coffee shop, always by hand. Otherwise, inspiration really has to strike. I'll often come up with lines in my car. There have been times when I've written a line on a gum wrapper with eye-liner while in the car.

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Growing up in the small town of Selma Alabama, the members of Laylines witnessed racial segregation. The lesson they learned from that was to accept diversity and to embrace all things new and different. The result was to funnel that energy into their music.

This is certainly evident in their self-titled EP, Laylines. Only three songs, but these are three distinct and original tracks. The songs are melodic, lyrical, rich, full and clearly are meant to be played loud. I hear several influences, but the songs, and the band itself, are unique.

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What can be said about Crosby, Stills and Nash that hasn't already been said? They are one of the best known vocal groups in music. With their three very distinct voices and writing styles, they have blended and harmonized to become one of the most recognizable sounds around. If there isn't at least one familiar song on this re-mastered and reissued CD, then you've most likely been living under a rock.

It is a complete album of three-part harmonies, something that was intentional on the part of the guys, recalls Stephen Stills in the liner notes:

We picked the songs that were meant to be sung three-part and tossed out the songs that were better as solo album songs. That's why there were great solo albums that followed.

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Upbeat and warm classic pop rock is how I would sum up As This is Futuristic, the recent release from the band The Apparitions. The CD is full of characteristic rhythms and beats that are comfortable and familiar, but with a modern "garage" feel to it.

The band formed in 2003 and according to their website is

Stylistically wedged somewhere between the Pixies and The Flaming lips, The Apparitions feature two distinct vocalists and a three-guitar sonic assault that is dynamic, angular, and full of wiry tension.

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Part three of our continuing coverage of Gretchen Lieberum, February's featured artist of the month, is an interview. Gretchen gives us a candid look at her personal life as well as her professional one and shares some of her thoughts on the music industry in general.

You recently had a new baby. Are you finding that your daughter is affecting the tone of your songwriting? The time you have for songwriting?

At this point, I am finding it hard to find time to take a shower! As for how my daughter, Iris, will affect the tone of my writing, I honestly don't know. I imagine that it will to some extent. Having a baby has been such a powerful, amazing experience, and a real lesson on how quickly time passes, and how important it is to live in the moment and appreciate what is in front of you. Those themes will probably worm their way into my next album.

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Trajectory is the debut release from the brand new hip-hop group Martian Colony. The group -- consisting of G-LA, ERNI, PESO, Uptown, and Gingero19 -- was formed under the guidance of record producer Blacky-Amen. Following in the footsteps of the many that came before them, the album is a collection of melodic raps. The rhymes are catchy, and dare I say in some places actually cute. (Yes, I'm using the word cute while talking about hip-hop.) The rap is backed up with both electronic instrumentation and harmonious hooks both notably delivered.

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Paul McCartney, a thirteen time Grammy winner, will perform for the first time at The 48th Annual Grammy Awards. The pop/rock legend will grace the stage for what is being hailed as a very special performance. This year, McCartney is up for three Grammy's: Album Of The Year and Best Pop Vocal Album (Chaos And Creation In The Backyard) and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance ("Fine Line"). McCartney was also honored with The Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1990 and President's Merit Award in 2004. Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres will introduce the unprecedented performance.

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Over two-thousand artists will gather on February 10 in Austin, Texas, for the 18th North American Folk Music and Dance Alliance convention. They will spend four days listening to and discovering new talent as well as discussing how to effectively market folk music around the world.

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