Sunday, March 30, 2008


I came across a website called "Songs In Haiku, Lyrics Distilled To Three Lines Of Verse". It can be found at, so go check it out. Earl, Kaman, Dianne, and Patrick all contribute to the site, taking requests from their guests and then posting haikus about artists, albums or individual songs. Last week I requested they make an attempt to write about Van Halen and they were gracious enough to post the resulting haikus. I share these poems, and a few others they wrote, with you below:

Past troubles and tears
are the basis for new dreams.
Be strong and climb high.

Learn from our failures.
We stand on our broken dreams
to reach for new ones.

Life has you in tears,
be strong and strive for new dreams.
Leave the past behind.

Use tough times and tears
as motivation to keep
reaching for your dreams.

Bill was a bad man,
'til he found a good woman.
Now William is whipped.

Delinquent decides
that with a pretty teacher
school isn't so bad

Please visit their site and enjoy their haikus for a long list of artists/bands.


Sunday was super concert night that spanned both the Dave and Sammy eras. It started off with the boys appearing at the Poliebro in Caracus, Venezuela on January 16, 1983. It was great hearing the old set list containing many of their early hits. Eddie was front and center on this boot, just burning up the strings from beginning to end.

Eddies hot tonight
Loud riffs fill the cold night air
Magic from the past

Stoked up on the juice, I was not ready to call it quits when the CD ended so I went inside and popped in Van Halen's "Live Without A Net" DVD, filmed on August 27, 1986 at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in New Haven, CT.

This video was released for the purpose of introducing Van Halen fans to their new singer Sammy Hagar. And they succeeded because it was a smokin hot concert during which the energy and quality of their music came through loud and clear! A must have for any VH fan.
After seeing this concert, I'm convinced that the band was transformed in a subtle and positive way, with the addition of Sammy's creativity and energy. A lot of good songs came from this new collaborative effort. I can't wait to dig into the new downloads from this era!

Saturday, March 29, 2008


A tiring week at work led me to skiing dude Rick's office doorstep late in the afternoon where I had a cigar and we bullshitted. I made him jealous of the fact that I received approval to take some time off of work to do a late season ski blow-out trip to the central and southwest corner of Colorado beginning next Wednesday. A road trip with a "party on the pass" planned for every night. In preparation for that event I've been downloading a bunch of concerts from the Sammy Hagar era of Van Halen. Not wanting to be a David Lee Roth snob and recognizing that Eddie, Alex and Michael were still producing great music after 1984, I decided to explore and get a feel for the "Van Hagar" incarnation of the band. I'm sure there are fans out there that would say I'm being sacrilegious for listening to that music!

I pulled out one of their Balance Tour appearances in Japan, October 30, 1995 in Osaka. Great sounding boot in which I had merged all the songs into a single track that more closely reproduces that concert atmosphere. Sammy does not have that natural talent DLR had for putting people in the party mood, but he's still good. It took a little while for me to warm up to their new groove, especially the unfamiliar set list, but once found I was into it. The boys played well this night and I was reminded of all the other VH hits that came out in the 10 year period after 1984. In an effort to learn more about their music from these years, I recently picked up their "5150" album (released March 26, 1986) and their "Balance" album (released January 24, 1995), the second of which kicked off this Balance world tour that brought them to Osaka. It's like a whole new window has opened up to me, revealing a side of the band I know little about! I'm going to enjoy this!

Sunday, March 23, 2008


Skiing on Saturday was a mixed blessing. Eric went with me to Ski Cooper, which meant no party on the pass as I had to drive up with him very early Saturday morning. I was stopped and ticketed by the Jefferson County sheriff on I-70, clocked going only 81 mph. Within a half hour I had passed every vehicle that passed me while sitting on the roadside. An inch of fresh snow dusted the slopes and made for a fine day of carving turns on the packed powder slopes. Light snow alternating with sunshine. We departed by 3 PM, joining the moderate traffic on the highway. That damn Idaho Springs tunnel is a bottleneck that drivers can't seem to adjust to. Some fool a few vehicles ahead breaked hard in the tunnel, causing the truck in front of me to do the same, blue smoke coming off their tires as they tried to stop from hitting the car in front of them. I breaked hard too, wheels locking as they tried to grip the pavement. I was resigned to the fact that we'd impact but my truck began skidding sideways and I took my foot off the break, turned hard and shot into the adjoining lane, missing the vehicle in front by inches. I passed the pile up, car debris on the road, a liscense plate cartwheeling down the tunnel. Few vehilcles emerged from its opening behind me. Give me a high five Eric!

I held my "party on the pass" in front of the house Friday night, listening to the boys play at the Sun Plaza Hall in Tokyo on June 22, 1978. Excellent audience bootleg. You can tell the crowds were not wild and crazy like the ones elsewhere, the band just doing their job putting on a standard concert. Too tired Saturday night after skiing to go outside and do it again. Sunday evening I listened to a compliation of live songs from their 5150 album while smoking a cigar, the setting sun flaming the clouds to the west. The one bad thing about my concerts at home is that I'm afraid the neighbors can hear the blaring truck stereo, even thought he nearest one is 300 feet away. There's no such fear in the mountains! Can't wait to get back to my normal routine next weekend!

A light snow falling
Clouds break to reveal the sun
Mountain air sparkles

Backyard party band
Crowds dance to their primal beat
Right from the stoned age

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


March 18, 2008: Hello, this is Ticketmaster Customer Service with an important alert for your upcoming event. Van Halen scheduled at Bradley Center on Monday, April 7, 2008, at 7:30PM, has been postponed. The new date is Monday, April 28, 2008 at 7:30pm. Original tickets will be honored for the new date, or you may obtain a refund by following the instructions below for your applicable delivery method.

The party is back on!!

High on the music
He's flying to Milwaukee
No plane is needed

Goes through bad withdrawals
Seeks medical experts help
Doctor Van Halen

Heeds the sirens song
Distant music in his head
He's lured to the rock

Worships Van Halen
His Mecca in Milwaukee
The faithful gather

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Reports of new snow in the high country convinced me to drive up Friday night, arriving at the Clinton Gulch turnout below Fremont Pass at around 10 PM. The highway was real slick, with vehicles skidding off onto the roadside, including a jack-knifed truck blocking the east bound lanes. 8 to 10 inches of fresh on the ground with starry skies above. On this evening I decided to go back to 1984, the pinnacle of VH's fame and glory. May 9, 1984 at the Cow Palace in San Francisco. Although the quality of the bootleg was not one of the best when compared to some of the recent ones I've listened to, it was still very good. I stomped out a place in the snow, opened up the truck door wide and turned it up loud. Nearly 2 hours of music took its toll on the truck battery, draining it sufficiently such that the stereo shut off just before the final song. I knew then and there I was screwed, considering the freezing cold temps would further drain/hinder battery recharge. I went to sleep hoping for the best, still riding the tequila wave. I was told temps in Leadville the following morning were around 0 F. It was one of the few nights where I wish I had some additional insulation.

The following morning I hitched to Copper Mountain and got a tow truck to give me a jump start. I made it to Ski Cooper around 10 AM where I carved up the fresh powder for several hours. Many areas available to make my own tracks the whole time I was there, particularly in the trees. By mid afternoon I was beat, mostly because I was coming down with some illness that was making me feel weak and achy. The great thing about leaving a little early is that I beat the late afternoon rush hour traffic. I spent the evening framing the autographed Diver Down album, now hanging up in the house. Looks sharp!

Still waiting for VH to reschedule the shows. In the meantime, I continue to download more from the Sammy/Gary era for future parties on the pass!

Road glistens with ice
Headlights reveal its victims
Flashing red and blue

Killer music cranked
Amps power Eddie's guitar
Killed truck battery

Clear crisp mountain dawn
Backside lurks in nights shadow
Sun blazed summits shine

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


LOS ANGELES, CA March 10, 2008 Seventeen concert dates on the Van Halen tour are being rescheduled so that Eddie Van Halen, who is currently under doctors' care, can continue medical tests to define a course of treatment. The tour will resume on April 19th.

Oh well, better luck next time. If and when they reschedule, I will be there.

Their poor performance
Eddie's intoxicated?
The audience too

Eddie's playing sucks
But through the crowds drunken haze
He sounds wonderful!

Monday, March 10, 2008


What the hell is going on? I’ve listened to VH since their revolutionary first album shook the airways in 1978, yet it was only this past half-year that their music has assumed a disproportional influence on my life. Thinking about it, wanting it, needing it. I knew I was hooked when I played their music, LOUD, on the truck stereo in that snowy parking lot at Loveland a year ago, making a vow then and there to see them. It was confirmed when a short time later they announced (then immediately postponed) their 2007 tour with DLR at the helm. The hook embedded itself deeper in me when I purchased tickets to see them in Portland. I intentionally pushed it deeper when I began psyching myself up for that trip to Oregon. I rocketed to the stars when I actually saw them live. That only led to deciding to see them again in Denver. A quick search on the web resulted in finding a treasure trove of their bootleg recordings, "new" music that kept it all going. My "party on the pass" weekends include the intoxicating combination of good music, a good cigar, fine tequila, being in a beautiful location and the anticipation of a great day skiing. Like Ivan Pavlov’s dogs salivating when they heard a bell, hearing big rock party band Van Halen has always and will continue to trigger feelings of "good times". To some outside observer it may have the appearance of being in love. Whatever it is, it strikes a chord deep within me that I must feed. I don’t fully understand why it is this way, but I decided a long time ago that I’d rather let it consume me and see where it all leads. You only live once, so let those passions boil over and enjoy it while it lasts!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Party On The Pass: Monarch

Wanting to mix it up, I went for some old and some new tunes.

I "attended" two VH concerts this weekend, the first happening in the driveway in front of the house Friday night. They were appearing at the Starwood in Hollywood, CA on June 30, 1976. The early club scene when VH was beginning to make a name for itself. They sang a bunch of songs I had not heard before as well as some classics that made it onto their first album that came out in 1978. Dave was rappin' with the audience even back them.

I went skiing at Monarch Sunday, driving up the night before. Several inches of fresh snow made for some mighty fine skiing, searching for the deeper untracked powder amongst the trees most of the day. A great little ski area alongside Monarch Pass, with cheap lift tickets and short lift lines. Flurries early and late in the day, with the sun and blue sky breaking out for a short time late that morning. Although much farther away than the Summit County ski areas, when you factor the traffic time into the equation, the drive to Monarch was not that bad. It helps if you drive like a madman too.

I pulled into the Monarch ski area parking lot around 10 pm while it was gently snowing. Cracked open the flask, unwrapped the cigar and then selected the bootleg recording for the night. I again wanted something different and chose "Unchained Monsters", a VH show at the Star Pavilion in Hershey, PA on July 26, 1998. What is different about this one is that it features Gary Cherone, lead singer of the Boston band named Extreme. He made his appearance after both Dave and Sammy fell out of favor with the Van Halen brothers. The boys were on tour following the release of their last ablum to come out, "Van Halen III", earlier that same year. By all accounts, Van Halen III was deemed to be a failure and Gary Cherone left the band shortly after the tour ended in December 1998. Unlike Sammy Hagar, Gary was willing to sing some of the old DLR classics for the first time in more than a decade.

This bootleg blew me away! Gary sounds great. The set list was varied, with some softer songs scattered amongst the fevered pitch of the standard VH party classics. And the quality of this soundboard recording was A+!! I was somewhat apprehensive picking this concert at first, but I was rocking to the music shortly after it got underway.

Eddie's on fire during this concert! His playing was flawless, emphasizing how far he falls when he's on the juice. Other band members come and go, but it's Eddie's guitar that holds it all together. In my opinion, this concert proves that Eddie is the man, the heart and soul of Van Halen!

Download the music
Their digital DNA
Cloned on the stereo

Steel strings burn tonight
Eddie makes his guitar sing
Proof that he's sober

Front men come and go
But the lead guitar inspires
The bands heart and soul

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Rock Legend Crumbles

Rumors are flying over the postponement of four VH shows this past week. You Tube videos of the Jacksonville FL concert shows that Eddie's guitar playing was way off, at the end of which he threw it aside in apparent disgust. This may be history repeating itself, with the quality of Eddie's contribution to the band slipping as the tour progresses, something that became evident on the 1984 tour and thereafter. So its dangerous holding tickets to shows late in their tour.

This is a review from a fan who was at the earlier Fort Lauderdale show:

Eddie and Wolfgang were fighting all night. My friends and I are diehard fans and we were watching all night how Eddie was trying to engage his son without success. He also was unusually out of his mind and we knew it was going to be a trainwreck. We were all commenting on it after the show. Kind of bummed about it but hopefully it can be resolved. It really wasn't Dave. Dave carried the show again. It was between father and son. We think Eddie probably was out of his mind for some reason and Wolfie didn't appreciate that. Anyway, that's our speculation. It was very apparent throughout the show starting halfway and especially during Ed's solo that he was pissed and not on his game.

Shoot up to the stars
Young legends forged on hard rock
They crumble and fall

Gifted musician
Rides the wild vortex of fame
He drowns in its wake

Journey led astray
Lost his grip on the guitar
Searches for the sound

Sunday, March 2, 2008


Saturday night I went to Fremont Pass to climb up and ski the treed ridge north of Clinton Gulch Reservoir. Ten PM when I arrived, a cold wind blowing off the Ten Mile Range, stars overhead. The waiting come to an end when I popped in the CD, Van Halen playing at the Market Square Arena in Indianapolis on July 6th, 1984. A really great sounding bootleg recording. Dave rapped with the screaming Indiana crowd much of the show, happy to be back in his home state. I was flying during the nearly 2 hour recording, flask of tequila in one hand and a cigar in the other. With no one around for miles, I cranked up the truck stereo to LOUD! The wind had picked up, reversed direction and snow began to fall by the end of the concert. My head was spinning when the CD came to an end.

I slept soundly in the back of the truck, snug in my down sleeping bag. Woke up to snowy morning, 3 or so inches having already fallen. I geared up following a quick breakfast inside the truck. I skinned up the adjoining ridge, climbing up through the trees and then reaching a white barren summit swept by a cold wind. If it were a clear day I would have a stunning view of the Ten Mile Range to my east. Came down through the trees, easily carving the fresh snow, only to break through the sun-baked crust beneath, making for difficult skiing. The snow was coming down hard by the time I got back the truck.

The question came to mind this weekend: are my mountain trips really for the skiing or am I more interested in my "parties on the pass", an opportunity to journey back in time to some really good music? I'm finding that both are now equally important and enjoyable. I'm doubly blessed! Not only do I look forward to some of the best skiing in the country here in Colorado, I also have the pleasure of taking a trip back in time to party with Van Halen when they were king of rock 'n' roll!! Party on dudes!

Eddie's Cathedral
His sweet guitar casts its spell
Makes me pray for more

Booze burns the belly
The music sets him on fire
His mind is toasted

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Rappin' Dave

In an effort to get "psyched-up" for Van Halen’s February 1 show in Denver, I began downloading a bunch of their earlier concerts, bootleg recordings either off soundboards or from within the audience. From the early days when they played at clubs in California (1974 – 1975), to the days when they surged in popularity, became a big name act and filled concert venues, drawing tens of thousands of cheering fans (1978 through 1984). In my opinion, this was when they were at their peak, when David Lee Roth was their lead man, before the band declined in popularity with the formation of "Van Hagar" and the destructive influences of alcoholism. Its interesting listening to these bootleg concert recordings, played during my weekend "parties on the pass", because they show how the band evolved over that 10 year period. A young band playing cover tunes during their club days, working in an increasing number of their own songs (mid-‘70s). The energetic, raw and real band breaking out and making a name of their own with the release of their first few hit albums (late ‘70s). Evolving into practiced and vibrant musicians touring the globe at a breakneck pace (early’80’s). Riding the crest of the wave before the crash, when the boys seemed overconfident, the music seemed to loose its energy and spontaneity, and the quality began to slip as a result of the internal rifts and constant partying ('83-'84). Having listened to their music through the years, I now have a greater appreciation for who they are as I’m standing on my dancing feet watching them live during their ‘07/’08 tour. And their evolution has continued, tempered by age and the 22 year gap in time since DLR and the Van Halen brothers worked their magic since the fall. The music now is a bit more restrained (no longer fired up by the wild backstage, alcohol-fueled parties) and the atmosphere is more business-like as they run through their play list of hit after hit. But it’s still an awesome show that gets everyone up on their feet!

What’s also lacking in the current tour is Dave’s rapping with the audience. No more stopping to take a swig from a bottle of Jack Daniel's, rapping about his exploits in the hotel room the previous night. Some people hate it and would rather they just get on with the music. I, on the other hand, love it. While listening to the bootlegs of years gone by I wait in expectation of what may come out of his mouth. Some of it comes from the stage performer who’s trying to rev up the crowd, while much of it is genuine rapping with the audience, fueled by alcohol and an equally intoxicating ego. The things he says just crack me up and contribute to that party atmosphere in their earlier music. It is that connection with the crowd that was lost with Dave’s departure in 1984, and is even lost today as they methodically move through their two hours of music on stage. Eddie’s been through rehab. Wolfgang’s young and just beginning his career. Age has diminished the range and power of Dave’s voice, sapping his confidence along with a less than stellar musical career since his departure in late 1984. Alex still appears to be the drum machine he always was, but that’s not enough to bring back that power they had when they were in their prime. Perhaps if they stay together some of that spontaneity, creativity and confidence will come back. But that makes very little difference to me because their music continues to rock me down to my soul and just having Eddie and Dave together again is enough to restore much of the magic that is Van Halen.

Bodies aged with time
But their music still inspires
It never grows old

Egos crash and fall
Decades long resurrection
The party resumes