Sunday, November 30, 2008


Damn, I should be out skiing today! It's been dumping in the mountains for the last two days, with at least a couple feet having fallen at Loveland ski area. Alas, I must stay home because the wife flew out to DC this morning (I don't want to imagine what that flight will be like considering the weather she'll be flying through), leaving me to take care of my daughter today (my son's stayed behind with the inlaws in Wyoming). There's about five inches of snow on the ground outside the house and it's still coming down. The first heavy snowfall of the year, for both down here and in the mountains.

It was during one of these big dumping storms in early 2007 that I was sitting in the truck listening to Van Halen that I vowed to see them live in concert whenever to come back around. I would have been dancing outside with the stereo cranked were it not for the foot+ of powder covering the ground and the blowing snow that would have quickly filled the truck interior. My dream came true later in the year when VH announced the tour, then backed out of it, then committed a second time, leading to December 1, 2007 when I saw them in Portland Oregon.

In recognition of that one year anniversary, I pulled out Van Halen's December 1, 2007 show at the Rose Garden in Portland Oregon. Popped it into the stereo and was disappointed to learn that the quality of the recording was so poor that I decided against listening to it. What I'll need to do is remaster the sound to improve its playability and burn another CD set for future use.

I return to Portland in a few days to visit some friends. I hope to spend Thursday and Friday skiing, the location to be decided upon based on the best snow available. Looking at the webcams for WA and OR ski areas indicates that they have received very little snow, with several of the mountains hoping to open up by mid December. I'm leaving the good snow in Colorado to ski snow patches and rocks in the Pacific northwest. Hope they too get dumped on in the next few days.

Mind wrapped in music
His sanity on the line
Nothing feels the same

You really got me
Don't know where I'm goin'
Follows to its end

Wants to believe
Angels wait in the heavens
Reunion of friends

One in a million
Begins to know how it feels
Friends going one by one
After dumping the Rose Garden concert, Saturday night's show turned out to be disc 1 of Van Halen's The Best of Both Worlds album.

This is what Wikipedia says about the album:

"The Best of Both Worlds is a greatest hits album by American hard rock band Van Halen, released in 2004. The title "The Best of Both Worlds" references both their song of the same name, and the fact that the album has the greatest songs from their two main vocalists David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar. The album featured three brand new songs from the band with Hagar vocals, but Eddie Van Halen took over the bass work typically done by Michael Anthony. It featured no songs from the band's last studio album, Van Halen III, which featured Gary Cherone on vocals."

It was great listening to the clean, crisp sounds of a studio album. But albums and song compilations lack the spontaneity and energy of a recorded concert. I'd much rather listen to a good concert recording instead since it is of an actual event, performed before an audience. The purpose of my virtual concerts are to get into the mood and share that experience as closely as possible.

Listening to The Best of Both Worlds allows one to more clearly understand the differences in Dave's and Sammy's styles, and how the sound of the band changed with the transition from one to the other. Ones more visceral and gritty, the other more polished and thoughtful. Both are Van Halen, both are good, all have Eddie leading the show with his killer guitar. Click on the picture of Eddie and Valerie below, "Solid As A Rock" to read what Eddie has to say about his split with Dave and his new style of music as he began the move to Van Halen II.

I found a bunch of high quality photos of Eddie and Valerie Bertinelli taken by LIFE magazine photographers. They'll show up in the blog posted at a later date.

They got married on April 11, 1981. They had a son, Wolfgang "Wolfie" William Van Halen, on March 16, 1991. On July 9, 2002, they announced that they had been separated since October 2001. She filed for divorce on December 5, 2005 which was finalized on December 20, 2007. Valerie admitting they split because they were both unfaithful. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, Valerie acknowledged that both she and Eddie were to blame for the marriage breakdown. The 47-year-old says, "I cheated. He claims to this day that I cheated first, but I don't know. I don't know about the timing."

Friday, November 28, 2008


I was scheduled to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with the in-laws in Wyoming, but I backed out at the last minute, leaving me here at the house alone. I think it had something to do with hearing "tough shit" one too many times. I enjoyed sleeping late without being disturbed. Since weather was moving into the Colorado Rockies, I decided to pack up the ski gear and head for the hills that evening. I was hoping to have dinner out, but all restaurants were closed. I therefore had Thanksgiving dinner with Ronald McDonald in Idaho Springs.

I found my turn out on the road up to Loveland Pass. Cranked up the CD and pulled out a cigar for another party on the pass with Van Halen. It had begun snowing lightly before I finished the second half of the show. A mild evening so it was a comfortable sleep, being almost too warm. Snow plows patrolled the highway beside me all night long.

Spent the whole day skiing at Loveland. Three ski lifts and about ten runs open. It had snowed about three inches overnight, making for good packed powder conditions, with some patches of "powder" to be found here and there. It snowed lightly all day long, with the sun trying to break out but it never succeeded. A good day of skiing with no major lift lines, probably because everyone was out holiday shopping this "black Friday". The weather followed me home as it's snowing outside the house as I write.

Mountains jut skyward
Black against the nighttime sky
Snow clouds brush the peaks

Distant peaks obscured
Like cold fog it rolls in
Snow begins to fall

The plows flashing lights
Freeze frames snowflakes in the air
Blade sparking the road

Look up at nights sky
A break in the clouds above
Stars embed the black

Take their final bow
The loud cheering is over
Ear ringing silence

Beds down in the truck
Listens while it snows outside
Tapping on the glass

The air is alive
Clouds release their icy load
Large snowflakes falling

Gray clouds drifting by
Back lit snowflakes fill the air
Suns orb comes and goes

My show of choice was Van Halen's concert at The Forum in Montreal, Quebec, on April 19, 1984. I believe this recording was taken from the homemade DVD recording of the concert. vhboots say this of the audio:

"While the video is fantastic, the audio recording isn't the greatest, but it is the best it is going to get. The audio is mainly lacking in high end due to the camcorder equipment of that time. There is also some wicked bass distortion that crops up during "Everybody Wants Some". The show is presented complete with the only edits being during long breaks between songs towards the end of the show. You can hear the band and the crowd is relatively low in the mix with no distracting participants near the filmer. Overall this mono recording just lacks the fidelity to rate it any higher. The show itself is a great performance in front of a very, very enthusiastic crowd."

I noticed two things while listening to the recording. The first was that Eddie plays better as he got older, particularly his concerts in 1995 and 1998. I really sense that by 1984 Eddie was simply going through the motions, as was Dave, during his performance. I get the sense that the older, more mature Eddie was really putting his heart and soul into his guitar, less showman, more musical artist. The second thing I noticed was that rappin Dave was really more a vaudevillian style act by this time than he was an impromptu performer: same gag lines again and again and not much more. This is where Sammy was different in that he appears to make a sincere effort to connect with the audience, having something new to say to each crowd he faced with every concert. By 1984 Van Halen had reached an end point, with the best behind them. They seem tired, their interest waning. Eddie and Alex made the right decision to reinvigorate the band with the addition of a new lead vocalist. They succeeded with the addition of Sammy Hagar. It is for these two reason that I really like the Sammy era music. Unfortunately I have about four times the number of Dave era recordings than Sammy bootlegs. I'm always looking for ways to expand my late 80's and 90's collection.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


I just stepped in from a chilly, starry night.

Finally carved up the Ponderosa pine that I cut down last weekend. Even with a chainsaw, it was long hard work cutting through the nearly two foot diameter trunk down to a size that would fit into the fireplace when split. My weekends seem to be filled with mind numbing chores, just what I need to exorcise the crap that fills my head after a full week at work.

I skipped doing a concert Saturday because I wanted a good nights sleep, free from an alcohol buzz. But the craving grew and I am weak. I broke down and pulled out VH's 5150 album "leftovers", a collection of sound checks, rehearsals and a few cover tunes they played back in 1986. Lots of Eddie jamming and Sammy chatting with the band and roadies. The audio quality varies from section to section, but overall is pretty good. It was made better with a small bit of tequila and a cigar. Dancing in the darkness of my driveway.

Lives ruined by crack
Wino begs for the bottle
Mine is Van Halen

They've all come to hear
Entranced without a whisper
Lets his guitar sing

Come and get it:

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Woo-hoo it's Friday night again!

I had a very busy week at work, spending some time in downtown Denver. Over lunch one day I went to David Cook's Fine Art Gallery to see a few pieces of art produced by a couple favorite artists, Gustave Baumann 1881-1971, block print above) and Birger Sandzen (1871-1954, painting below). I love their work and enjoyed the pleasure it brought holding their framed art in my hands to study the fine details of the masters work. The gallery was in the process of preparing for an "opening show" that evening and the various pieces of art were scattered around waiting to be hung on the wall. They had many other beautiful paintings of mountainous landscapes that are like eye candy to me.

Thursday night I met up with a bunch of guys, an annual tradition of having dinner and a few beers before going to the Paramount Theater to watch the latest ski porn flick produced by Warren Miller, Children Of Winter. Heart pumping scenes of phenomenal skiing in fabulous mountain landscapes through deep, blowing powder, all accompanied by loud foot stomping music. The exuberant audience cheered, hooped and hollered throughout the show. We went to Earls afterwards where we had a few drinks, eyeing all the attractive waitresses. At the theater they passed out coupons for a free lift ticket to one of three mountains. My goal will be to use it and ski Steamboat before mid December.

Last weekend I thought I would hold off doing anymore outdoor concerts with Van Halen in order to build up the craving in advance of my trip to Oregon in a couple weeks. But Friday night arrived and I could not resist the desire to dance on the prairie to their loud beat. I caved and picked one of their early shows. Van Halen at the Hammersmith Odeon in London on June 1, 1978, the first of four nights they played at that concert hall during their first world wide tour. Van Halen was the opening act for the headliner of the evening, Black Sabbath. Their playing is awesome! This is what Ian Christe says in his book The Van Halen Saga about these shows:

"Van Halen was so good opening for Black Sabbath in England in 1978 that Sabbath toppled and broke apart immediately afterward. Their lead singer, Ozzy Osbourne, became completely demoralized and left the group. Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler later quipped sardonically that it was the first time after eight albums that Warner Bros., their American label, had ever bothered to come see the band - and then only for the sake of catching Van Halen."

This is one of their '78 soundboard recordings and so the quality is excellent. You can download it from here:

The 1978 shows are special for me because it was 30 years ago that I first heard of Van Halen while working in Washington state. The job with the USGS had me hiking the forest mapping the geology of a low grade ore deposit that intruded rock laid down by ancient volcanoes that have long disappeared. From the tops of ridges and mountains I could see Mt. Rainier to the north and an unblemished beauty called Mt. St. Helens to the south. That's why this upcoming trip to Oregon/Washington is special in that I will be returning to where it all started, to indulge in late night concerts in the deep forest, knowing that a full day of skiing lies ahead.
Held them as babies
Life's advance yields young manhood
Taller than me now

Viral infection
Thoughts play in an endless loop
Lodged deep in his head

Mind so infected
Roaches scurry in his skull
Driving him insane

Looks up at the stars
Circle through the centuries
Yearns for forever

Consume to excess
To the corners of his mind
Mouth tastes of his bile

Sucking on a stub
Voyage into the beyond
Circles, then descends

Piano man speaks
Describes the things I have done
Says all the right words

The years have gone by
Footsteps often repeated
Same streets that I've been

Cold wind on his face
Immune to its effects
Forty proof headscarf

After the Van Halen concert, I popped another album into the trucks CD player and enjoyed the sounds of The Killers. Tickets to their January 17th concert are in hand, I can't wait to go!

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Wanting some quality from the Sammy Hagar era, I pulled out Van Halen's March 11, 1995 show at the Pensacola Civic Center in Pensacola, FL. First day of the Balance Tour, excellent recording, the band performing at their very best. A classic bootleg that I will never get tired of. According to VHBOOTS there are several variations of this show, all of high quality. I'm not certain whether the recording I listened to is the "Impulsive Balance" version, but it can't be too far off. It works for me.

Constellation of four
Shining brightly on stage
Eddie's supernova

No old school master
Modern virtuoso
Plays his amped up strings

Perform at their peak
Riding the crest of a wave
Lifted by crowds cheers

A sound of pure joy
He asks why this can't be love
Brings tears to his eyes

Play the loud dance beat
Music that is oh so sweet
Eight shot love affair

Thousands cheer for one
Takes them higher and higher
Never disappoints

Controls our impulse
A master with ten fingers
Eddie takes command

Music at an end
Faces his reality
Back to the future

Reached a certain age
Illness has become a plague
His friends are dieing

Saturday, November 15, 2008


A couple storms blew through the Rockies this past week, the second tempting me to play hookie from work to go skiing. But alas, there was to much to be done at work and I'm still waiting for more runs to open on the mountains. Otherwise, the week trudged on, at the end of which Friday night arrived and it was time to party!

This night I chose Van Halen's November 13, 2007 appearance at the Madison Square Garden in New York. A great sounding bootleg in which the entire band performs well. This what Glide Magazine said about their performance that night:

When you think of Van Halen, the one word that comes to mind is excess. On the stage and on the small screen they always seemed insanely over the top. They once dubbed their 1982-83 outing in support of Diver Down the "Hide Your Sheep" tour. No wonder they initially caught the eye of Gene Simmons in 1976.

But after seeing Van Halen in concert, without all the overdubs and with a "a little space" between the instruments, you are immediately struck by how great they are musically. Eddie Van Halen is still a guitar-wielding behemoth. Beyond the quotes of "Magic Bus" and "Dazed And Confused," you could really hear a wide variety of influences in their sound, in particular the blues and Latin elements. Who knew that a self-described good-time party band had more to them.

Age may have slowed David Lee Roth a bit, but he's still got the swagger that earned him a permanent place in the front-man pantheon. From the opening notes of "You Really Got Me," it was obvious what Eddie and Alex were missing all these years. The setlist Van Halen has been playing since their tour began in September covers all aspects of their catalog. Jubliant sing alongs like "Beautiful Girls" and "Dance The Night Away" were mixed in with nuggets like "Mean Street" and "Little Dreamer." Eddie's son Wolfgang, the only alteration to the classic line-up, held his own on bass. There have been rumors that his backup vocals, along with the synthesizer tracks, were prerecorded bits from the departed Michael Anthony. Complaints aside, the main attraction of this tour is to see David Lee Roth fronting the band he helped make classic. Beyond the short hair and the slower gait, there seems to be a little humility mixed in with Diamond Dave's bravado. He seems to be truly appreciative of the opportunity presented to him by the Van Halen brothers and the fans. His fall from grace following his departure has been well-documented. His arrest in Washington Square Park for a petty pot deal, his foray into magic on the Las Vegas strip and his short-lived run as a radio shock jock all melted away once he did that first roundhouse kick. Before beginning "Ice Cream Man," Roth shared a little anecdote about partying back in the suburbs which put the last three decades into context.

That's not to suggest that any of the showmanship has been lost. Roth didn't jump on the Tarzan swing or straddle the inflatable microphone that came for the "Jump" finale. But hearing him rip into "Hot For Teacher (with that barrage of drums from brother Alex) or Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love" was more than worth the wait as was "Panama," fresh off being featured in this summer's hit Superbad.

It would also be remiss not to mention Eddie's eleven-minute odyssey on guitar which featured bits of "Cathedral," "Eruption" and any other instrumental he's ever played. There were times during his solos that he seemed to be playing three guitars at once, but this was unreal. I haven't seen anything like that since the last time I watched Jimmy Page in The Song Remains The Same. The true guitar hero is becoming a dying breed. Enjoy this one while you can.

Stars set in nights black
Only the brightest survive
Brilliant moon rules the sky

Temperature dropping
Truck coated in ice crystals
Sparkle with moons light

Cast upon the ground
Whether sun or moons shadow
Life's companion

Stands in the spotlight
A guitar sings to the crowd
His solo love song

Fingers from a sleeve
Jacket shields from nights cold
His cigar stub high

Consummate performer
Dave struts high upon the stage
Always willing to please

Smile form ear to ear
After years standing alone
Its good to be back

Standing on the brink
Ponders the near empty flask
He might as well jump

Burst of confetti
The band takes their final bow
Concert at an end

Sits at the Garden
Stops and thinks for a moment
Knowing they were here

Download it here: