Dave Gregory Departs

One of rock’s finest guitarists and a true gentleman, Dave Gregory, has decided to retire from his glorious time in Big Big Train. Here’s Gregory’s message on social media today:

I’d like to say how very touched I was to read the many comments and tributes from you folks, that flew in following the announcement of my departure from Big Big Train and the cancellation of the U.S. tour. Thank you everybody, I hope eventually I’ll be forgiven for letting the side down at this point. Events have reached a crossroads and it’s best that I make a move now to allow the band to re-group and make future plans.

The excellent Randy McStine will soon be occupying the vacant spot stage left, and I wish him and Big Big Train all the very best for the future. There’s a chance you may see, or hear me perform with them again somewhere down the line. I’d like to thank all the band members and road crew for their past brilliant work in helping put the band where it is today. Big thanks also to the behind-the-scenesters Sarah EwingKathy SpawtonSteve CadmanNiall HaydenNellie PittsGlenn CodereSue HeatherTobbe JansonGeoff Parks , Simon Hogg and all who assisted in making last year’s Grand Tour the success that it was.

Once again thank you all, we are sure to meet again at some point – Coronavirus willing – so please stay healthy, stay safe.

As sad as I am about this news, I can’t help but remember and remind myself that Gregory has given so much beauty and integrity to the world: in XTC, in Tin Spirits, and in Big Big Train.

What a blessing this man is.

From my perspective, the only living guitarist who rivals his soul and ability is Alex Lifeson. What a great time to be alive. Thank you, Dave!

A Little Hope From Mr. Morse

Neal Morse is giving away a collection of songs called Hope And A Future.

Here’s his letter explaining his motivation:

From Neal Morse:

“As we all crowd around our televisions and read our news feeds concerning the ever-changing nature of the coronavirus, I am sensing a wave of hopelessness, fear and uncertainty unlike anything I can remember.

“Many times there have been extreme difficulties in regions or nations, but this is a trial for all humanity…and, as in any time of testing, many will fall into the depths of hopelessness. When hope disappears, all seems lost.

“But it’s not.

“So I have been thinking…what can I do? How can I help? I shared that feeling with the Radiant team and we came up with this idea: a free collection of Neal Morse songs titled “Hope and a Future”.

“I’ve tried to interject elements of hope in my music for as far back as I can remember, so we have made a special album of songs from my entire catalogue, accenting the uplifting and affirming, to help you navigate these unchartered waters with peace and blessed assurance.

“Effective immediately, you can download this collection of songs free of charge from the Radiant website by clicking the button below.

“My deepest desire is that you will find something in these songs — a word, a phrase, a concept — that you can latch onto and will help you and your family through this season.

“Your download will also contain a document that we put together containing some great quotes regarding hope.

“In closing, let me encourage you with this. No matter the circumstances or how things appear, let “the love that never dies” fill your heart today and be the “wind at your back” that brings you to a “peaceful harbor” in the days ahead.”

With much love,

Neal

You can download the album (which comes with a very nice PDF booklet) here.

The solution to ‘cancel culture’ is true community | Acton Institute

Prior to this, I had prided myself on writing seven-, eight-, or even nine-page handwritten letters. My family and friends had filled our letters with news, with details of great adventures, with reviews of the latest books we had read and music we had heard. We filled the entire page with snippets of poems or lyrics, with some rather inexpert doodles; sometimes, I’d paste photos into the letter or squiggle in some band name such as Rush, Talk Talk, or Yes. There was an individualistic art to long-form letter correspondence.

I still have boxes and files full of these letters received from friends, and I cherish them as some of my finest possessions. I hope and trust the recipients of my letters feel the same. These letters represent small but mighty little communities: neighborhoods, suburbs, towns, republics, and – sometimes – dynasties of letters.
— Read on www.acton.org/religion-liberty/volume-30-number-1/solution-cancel-culture-true-community

family feastday: feast of st. joseph

March 19 is the Feast of St. Joseph, the patron saint of my mother’s side of the family, the Basgalls and the Kuhns. The traditional family prayer:

“O God, whose attribute it is to be always merciful and to spare, protect us through the intercession of St. Joseph from crop failures. In order to make ourselves, at least to a certain extent, worthy of this grace, we solemnly vow to keep the feast of St. Joseph as a holyday of obligation for all time and to spend some hours of that day in public prayer.” 

Later, they prayed “the powers that be to preserve the growing crop, destroy grasshoppers, worms and bugs and finally to mature the grain, allow a bountiful harvest and furnish a high-priced market.”

What matters is that something is happening – AmandaAchtman.ca

Hans Jonas was born into a German Jewish household in 1903. As a boy, he longed for excitement. However, the most exciting events always seemed to be happening elsewhere. It seemed unlikely that he could fulfill his boyhood “dreams of glory” in the monotony of everyday life there.

Before the First World War, the most significant world events in his memory had been the sinking of the Titanic and the Balkan Wars. Comparing these events to his “charmed life — in a country that had known nothing but peace for decades, that was flourishing economically, and as a child in a comfortably situated family,” he found his life and the lives of his family members to be very boring.

— Read on amandaachtman.ca/2020/03/18/what-matters-is-that-something-is-happening/

Did Edmund Burke Support the American Revolution? ~ The Imaginative Conservative

Again, it is possible that Burke actively disliked the principles of the American Revolution, but there exists no such evidence one way or another. What we do know is that Burke, when pushed, supported the American cause for independence, though he very much lamented the breakdown and breakup of the British commonwealth.

From my perspective, Burke was a vital ally in the cause, as patriotic to the American cause as any American revolutionary leader. He not only defended our cause, he did so in a way that could have easily been regarded as treasonous by his own people.
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2020/03/edmund-burke-support-american-revolution-bradley-birzer.html

eCHOS OF GILBERT HIGHET?

READ MYRON MAGNET’S THOUGHTFUL PIECE.

https://www.city-journal.org/humanities?utm_source=City+Journal+Update&utm_campaign=70042a1bd0-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_03_16_01_31&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_6c08930f2b-70042a1bd0-109326713

No one captures the tragic paradox of culture more poignantly than the twentieth century’s greatest poet, William Butler Yeats, who came away from the carnage of World War I fearing that we humans “are but weasels fighting in a hole”:

Civilisation is hooped together, brought
Under a rule, under the semblance of peace
By manifold illusion; but man’s life is thought,
And he, despite his terror, cannot cease
Ravening through century after century,
Ravening, raging, and uprooting that he may come
Into the desolation of reality:
Egypt and Greece, good-bye, and goodbye, Rome!

As our own civilization ravens and uproots, only to come into the desolation of false and lying illusion, so far more farce than tragedy, that’s my worry, too. Watching the hard-eyed troops surge by in Communist China’s 70th anniversary parade in October, the rank upon rank of fit young men and women toting high-tech weaponry and marching with eager determination, as if treading down all before them, it was hard not to wonder how we’d fare if we ever had to fight them, given President Xi Jinping’s undisguised imperial designs. As I watched, I couldn’t help remembering the 2016 photos of American sailors kneeling in humiliated submission on the deck of their U.S. Navy patrol vessel, which they had allowed diminutive Iranian gunboats to seize without firing a single shot in the Persian Gulf. Did they not believe, had they not been taught, that they had anything worth defending?

Myron MagnetCity Journal’s Editor-at-Large, is a National Humanities Medal laureate.

US SAILORS IGNOMINIOUSLY CAPTURED IN JANUARY 2016
SOMEHOW I still take hope in the fact US Marines would not have given up so easily.

The Neal Morse Band – Live In Brno 2019

The Neal Morse Band has just released its document of last year’s Great Adventour, the tour in support of their The Great Adventure album. As usual, it is a generous package consisting of 2 CDs and 2 Blu-ray discs.

The Great Adventure is, in my opinion, the NMB’s best album so far, so I was eager to see the show they put on to showcase it. Live In Brno does not disappoint. They play the entire 2-CD album, and close with a spectacular Great Medley.

The show in Brno took place April 7, 2019, midway through their European tour, which followed a North American tour. There are signs of wear and tear on Neal’s voice, but he more than makes up for it with passion and emotion. It is interesting that as the NMB evolves, Neal has become somewhat less of a focal point in their live show, giving up many lead vocal spots to the incredibly talented Eric Gillette, as well as Bill Hubauer. That is fine with me, since Gillette has one of the finest voices in rock today. That said, this is definitely Neal’s production, as evidenced by his energetic moving about the stage, and his creative costume changes throughout the set. At various times he appears as a hooded mystery man, a ragged wanderer, a mad hatter, and other personae.

I’ve rarely seen a group of individuals lock together and perform as one coordinated unit the way Neal (keyboards, guitars, vocals), Randy George (bass), Bill Hubauer (keyboards, vocals), Eric Gillette (guitar, vocals), and the mighty Mike Portnoy (drums, vocals) do during this show. It really is amazing how tight and powerful they are on every single song.

And that is what makes The Great Adventure such an excellent album – the variety and high quality of every song. There is prog, metal, power pop, and balladry contained in this set, and the band successfully tackles these various styles with ease. The highlights are To The River, Hey Ho Let’s Go, Vanity Fair, The Great Despair, and A Love That Never Dies.

A Love That Never Dies is the final song, and as the audience joins with the band to sing the chorus it is a truly ecstatic moment. It’s no wonder Morse is visibly overcome with emotion.

The encore is a 25-minute medley of selections from every one of Neal’s albums beginning with Testimony and continuing through Similitude Of A Dream. What is clear is how consistently excellent Neal’s output has been since he began his solo career. He really hasn’t had a single clunker in his entire discography.

The Blu-ray video of the show is well-shot with lots of different perspectives of the stage. My only quibble is that the mix is a 2.0 stereo one. If an artist goes to the trouble of releasing something on Blu-ray, he should mix it to 5.1 channels.

The second Blu-ray has two almost hour-length videos documenting the North American and European tours with lots of behind-the-scenes footage. Interesting and fun, but not essential. It also includes the official music videos for I Got To Run, The Great Adventure, Welcome To The World, and The Great Despair.

Neal has released visual documents of practically every tour he has done, and The Great Adventour – Live In Brno 2019 is one of the best. Highly recommended for both the devoted fan and the curious.

1939’s “Stagecoach”: The Reign of Justice and Redemption ~ The Imaginative Conservative

The stagecoach, just about to leave town, despite the threats from the Apache, represents American society in every aspect. The local Marshall, Curly, rides shotgun, protecting the stagecoach’s driver, Buck, and their passengers. The passengers include, of course, Boone and Dallas (forced to leave, regardless of danger), a whiskey drummer from Kansas City, Kansas (Mr. Peacock, though everyone refers to him as the Reverend), and, critically, the seemingly-ill wife of an army officer and a high-class lady from Virginia (Mrs. Mallory). As the stagecoach departs, a notorious southern gambler, Mr. Hatfield, attaches himself as “protection for the lady,” and, just as the stagecoach is about to exit town, Gatewood—now illegally in possession of the bank’s money—joins in a getaway attempt, knowing that the telegraph lines have been cut by the Apaches.

En route, Ringo “Henry” Kidd (John Wayne) hitches a ride, having broken out of prison to avenge the killings of his father and brother in Lordsburg. Whatever his crimes, the Kidd is clearly appreciated for his honesty and his good skills.
— Read on theimaginativeconservative.org/2020/03/stagecoach-reign-justice-redemption-bradley-birzer.html