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…a new music review series: Music for Word Lovers. Linnie had the idea to start such a series herself a while ago, but having the attention span of a fruit fly (Mmmmmm!!! Banan…..), she hadn’t quite gotten around to it yet. Now, since she got Tom hooked on Lit.org too, she thought it would be fun for both of us to take our love of music and form a new kind of collaboration.

We’ve been making music together for almost ten years – about as long as we’ve been a couple. These days, we’re not playing out live so much. We host an Open Mic Night at a little nearby joint every few months. In the meantime, we’d like to take turns telling you about the music that inspires and engages us. Much of it is likely to be relatively obscure. Some of it will be "old" by music biz standards, but hey, good music ain’t milk, dammit. It doesn’t go bad in the back of the fridge.

First, a little background on our respective musical lives, tastes, and idiosyncrasies so you have some idea where we’re coming from (besides left field.)

Tom is, if there is such a thing, a born musician. He started learning to identify the instruments of the orchestra by ear while still in footed PJs, and started piano lessons before his feet could reach the pedals. When the Beatles debuted on The Ed Sullivan Show in honor of his twelfth birthday, he figured out that girls go gaga over guitar players. Besides, it‘s easier to tote a guitar around campus as a chick magnet than a piano. The rest, as they say, is science fiction….errr… history. He plays keys, guitar, bass, and can find his way around just about any fretted stringed instrument (and a few without frets).

Linnie is, by contrast, a born redhead. She didn’t exhibit any particular early musical talent other than a tendency to experiment with vocal harmonies on such grade school standards as "Michael, Row the Boat Ashore," much to the mystification of her music teachers. ("What the…? Who the hell is doing THAT?") Her first object of musical passion was the jazz vocal group The Manhattan Transfer. She learned more about vocal harmony in high school choir as her vocal range slid downhill from soprano, through alto and into tenor. She graciously bowed out before being called upon to attempt bass parts.

Many years later, when we got together, we discovered our voices blended quite nicely, thank you. Tom gave Linnie her first hand drum, and she has reached the point where she can usually find "One." (Sometimes she gets it mixed up with "three," but usually self-corrects before a rhythmic train wreck ensues.) Together we’ve built a repertoire we call "bad-attitude folk music," which includes healthy dollops of folk, classic rock, blues, and the occasional quirky country song.

Our different musical perspectives – Tom is primarily a player while Linnie is still a singer at heart– make for interesting discussions. Tom will ask, "Remember that opening guitar riff to [insert title of song here]?" Linnie will nod reflexively as her eyes glaze over and she tries to mentally retrieve the lyrics to whatever song he’s talking about.

In the middle of a performance, Tom may suddenly set forth on a stream-of-semi-consciousness medley, leaving Linnie racing to keep up. Linnie’s been known to let Tom strum an opening vamp several times before she realizes, "Oh! That must be one of MY songs he’s playing! I wonder which one?" When Tom’s singing a song he’s performed for thirty years but can’t come up with the first word of the third verse, Linnie patiently and dutifully feeds him the lyrics.

So there’s no telling what might happen once we start WRITING about the music we love. We’ll each pick our favorites – especially stuff we think literate, creative people would enjoy – and tell you why you should shell out the bucks to add it to your own collection. The only rule is that there are no rules. Some of the music we tell you about may not even have words. That doesn’t mean that word lovers won’t hear the "poetry" in it. Conversely, if the writing is great but the musicianship, recording, or production is in the dumper, it probably will only rate an honorable mention at best.

One of us will probably take the lead in reviewing a given recording, and the other may or may not add his/her two cents worth, but you can be confident that any music reviewed under this avatar has the Spiny Norman Seal of Approval. We hope you enjoy the show.

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A Musical Duo Which Defies Description


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