Our 11/11/11 Event, One Year Later

Wounded Warrior Benefit 11-11-11Last year on Friday, November 11, 2011 we held a Wounded Warrior Benefit Concert at at Champion’s Sports Bar in Highspire, PA. Absolutely everyone involved was pleasant, upbeat, and helpful and the show could not have gone smoother. When my wife Karyn and I tallied up the all the donations including the door cover, raffle, cash contributions, CD sales by participating musicians, and business and online monetary donations we found that this single event had brought in $1,103. Well, we instantly shook the sofa to scrape up an additional eight bucks to bring that total to $1,111, which fits perfectly with the unique date of this event. We did have some expenses which worked out to be about 27% of this gross amount, still leaving a healthy amount to donate to the Wounded Warrior Project through the Sound Off for Vets charity. Beyond this, about 6 bags of clothes were donated for the YWCA Homeless Vets Clothing Drive.

This event could not have been a success without the incredible time and effort of so many people, who I’d like to once again recognize here. First and foremost, thank you to all the Veterans past and present who do more for us as American citizens than any other group.

Thanks to the musical artists who all put on incredible and entertaining performances:

Mycenea Worley
The Group “Meeka” – Romeeka Gayhart, Terry Gayhart, Drew Washington, Wyatt Latimer, and Arte Munoz
Carmen Magro’s Band – Carmen Magro, Chuck Scarpello, Mark Burkert, Rob DiSimone, Dave Murphy, and Steve Sauer
Hot Wing Jones – Steve Montressor, Andy Shemeta, Anthony Pepoli, and Corey Woodcock – I ‘d like to add a special thanks to the guys in Hot Wing Jones, who were the first to arrive, the last to leave, and donated equipment for all the artists to use.

Also, thanks to DJ Kai who provided incredible video during the musical performances as well as entertainment between sets.

Thank you to those who offered support for the event:

Chris Hicks, sound man from Voyager Music
Tim Dyer, videographer who shot about 5 hours of footage and enlisted our event in the international One Day on Earth program so we will be seen all over the world

Thank you to all the people and businesses that donated merchandise, gift certificates, advertising, and/or money to the cause:

Champions Sports Bar
United Water
Fredricksburg Eagle Hotel
Antique Auto Museum
Civil War Museum
Farmer’s Hope Inn
Hollywood Casino
The Porch Restaurant
Adventure Sports
LB Smith Ford-Lincoln
Ultimate Lube and Wash
Classic Rock Review
Susquehanna Entertainment
Jim Hammond
Deborah Delgado
Kathi Guliano

Last but not least, thank you to everyone who showed up last night, added to the celebratory atmosphere, and were very generous in donating to our cause.

Ric Albano, Organizer, Sound Off for Veteran’s Day

Dolphins Flying In the Sky

Dolphin Flying In the SkyNOTE: This article was originally published in the Tuesday Morning Tailback series at BigBlueBullfrog.com.

The Miami Dolphins defeated the New York Jets 30 to 9 on Sunday in the Jets home stadium. There was a lot of nervousness in the stadium because a hurricane was rapidly approaching. The Dolphins are used to being nervous about hurricanes approaching their own home stadium but the Jets are not. The Jets defeated the Dolphins in Miami earlier in the year in overtime. However, the Dolphins shut out the Jets in the 1982 AFC Championship game, which actually held in January 1983 at the Orange Bowl in Miami. It was a very rainy and muddy game, but not a hurricane. The Orange Bowl no longer exists, as it was torn down to make way for a new baseball stadium for the Marlins, who last won a World Series in 2003 against the New York Yankees. The Jets also claim to be from New York but actually play in New Jersey with the Giants (who also claim to be from New York). The Nets used to play in New Jersey and actually admited that they were from New Jersey, but now they play in Brooklyn, which is technically in New York. The Giants won the Super Bowl last season (which was actually held in February of this year). The Dolphins haven’t won a Super Bowl since 1973, which was the same year that Pink Floyd released The Dark Side of the Moon. I saw Pink Floyd in concert twice, both times at Veteran’s Stadium in Philadelphia, the same location where legendary Dolphins coach Don Shula became the winningest coach in NFL history in 1994. That stadium was the home of the Philadelphia Eagles who never won a Super Bowl. Neither the Detroit Lions nor the Cleveland Browns have won a Super Bowl either, although they did meet in a lot of NFL Championships in the 1950s. The most famous game of the 1950s was the 1958 NFL Championship between the Baltimore Colts and New York Giants at Yankee Stadium (the Giants actually did play in New York at the time). The winning coach in that game was Weeb Ewbank, who won two championships for the Baltimore Colts. Despit this fact, Ewbank was fired by the Colts in 1963 and replaced by Don Shula (who would eventually become the winningest coach in NFL history at Veteran’s Stadium in Philadelphia in 1994). Ewbank went on to become head coach of the New York Jets and won Super Bowl III against his former team the Baltimore Colts and coach Don Shula. Shula eventually left the Colts to coach the Miami Dolphins, who defeated the New York Jets 30 to 9 on Sunday in the Jets home stadium. There was a lot of nervousness in the stadium because a hurricane was rapidly approaching. In 2006 I wrote a song called “A New Religion” which spoke of “Dolphins flying in the sky”.

Nobody got that either.

Ric Albano

33 at 3

Imaginary Lines 33Three years ago today, on 09/09/09, we released our biggest release with Imaginary Lines 33. This is a quasi-compilation album, which takes the previously-released Imaginary Lines I (2005) and Imaginary Lines II (2007) and folds them into this massive collection along with 12 brand new songs to form this 33-track, 2 ½ hour odyssey of all original music by Pennsylvania songwriter and producer Ric Albano.

The songs are an eclectic mix of thoughtful and philosophical lyrics combined with unique yet melodic music that, while experimental, remains accessible enough to draw in the passive listener.

It then gets better and better with each successive listen.

Although pressed onto two CDs, the project is actually divided into three distinctive sections. Starting on Disc One, the initial eight songs are actually the newest and most recently produced songs. These are very diverse in style and genre and range from some very pop-oriented to some very unique, such as the collection’s only instrumental; “Rubicon”. The remaining nine songs on this disc comprise the whole of Imaginary Lines I, in near-exact form as it appeared in 2005. This second part of the collection contains the deepest and most richly-produced songs from the inception of the project and Ric Albano wanted to remain as true to their original spirit and technique as possible.

The whole of disc two contains the third and final section of this project, a newly enhanced version of Imaginary Lines II. Upon its original release in 2007, only twelve of these tracks were completed and all were in simple form (by design, to contrast the rich production of IL I). Never quite satisfied with this approach, Ric Albano revisited these songs to add the proper “finish” as well as complete those that were left off. The result is an amazing journey that has the listener humming the hooks and tapping the beats “all the way home”.


The Story of ‘Vieux Carre’

Vieux Carre, 'The French Quarter'With Hurricane Isaac on a trajectory to New Orleans this week, we’d thought it was a good time to reflect on the story of the song “Vieux Carre” which was influenced by the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The song was also influenced by a family vacation that we took to the Crescent City just months before that tragedy, and the extraordinary differences between good times and bad.

That November, 2004 trip was our first to New Orleans. We had a planned vacation to Orlando during Thanksgiving week but decided to start off in New Orleans so my son and I could catch our beloved Broncos who were playing the Saints that week. Naturally, one of the first attractions we wanted to see was the famous “French Quarter” and I remember driving down Interstate 10 and seeing an exit for “Vieux Carre”. My wife, who speaks and reads French pointed out that is where we wanted to go as Vieux Carre is the original French title of “old square” for the neighborhood. Well, anyway we enjoyed our trip, had lots of fun, and the Broncos handily defeated the Saints.

About nine months later Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and, like most people, I was horrified by the images of people trapped for days in the flooded city in the aftermath. One image in particular that chilled me to the bone was footage of refugees who had climbed onto the elevated interstate to get above the flood waters and were trapped in the sweltering heat under that same large green exit sign that read “Vieux Carre”. This, coupled with the horror stories of conditions inside the Superdome (a major evacuation center and the place where we saw the football game in 2004) moved me to write a song about the tragedy.

I originally wrote the song on piano in early 2006, while I was writing a lot of material for Imaginary Lines, but I never really intended to use the song for that project. Three years later, I introduced the song to my band Animal Society, and we worked out a new arrangement. It was recorded for our debut album in 2010, with the mix greatly inspired by the 1980s sound of the band Zebra, who ironically originated in New Orleans.

Listen to the Song:

Ric Albano

Tommy’s Got a Gun

Hunter S. ThompsonOn February 20, 2005, author Hunter S. Thompson killed himself at his home near Aspen, Colorado. That day also happened to be my son’s 14th birthday and he has become a big fan of Thompson’s work (as is evident in this 2010 piece that he wrote).

Anyway, I remember feeling disgusted when I heard the news because he did it while his sonm grandson, and daughter-in-law were in the house and while on the phone with his wife. Aside from my normal repulsion towards suicide, I also found the “grandiose” gesture was a lame attempt to replicate Ernest Hemingway and try to cement his legacy as a rebellious folk hero. I was moved to write some starter lyrics just days after the suicide;

The Hunter could not stand it no more
Couldn’t stand his Aspen slums
He pranced about like a dignitary
But his heart paled to that of a bum
It was so easy to travel the “Heming” way
He reached out with both arms and he embraced surrender
For he could see no solace in yet another cheap bender
No longer was it easy to face the setting sun…

I labeled the new poem “Tommy’s Got a Gun” but soon forgot about it. About four years later, I came across the lyrics and started developing music. Based on a simple, five note riff I worked out an arrangement with my band Animal Society and turned the lyrics into a proper song. To add the remaining necessary lyrics, I went directly to Thompson’s suicide suicide note and lifted some lines verbatim;

Football season is over now, there will be no more games
No more bombs, no more walking, no more fun…
You are getting greedy now, act your old age
17 more than we needed, 17 more than we wanted
Relax, this won’t hurt…

The song never quite worked out for Animal Society but was included on Imaginary Lines 33, with Erik Trabert providing the layered electric guitars and Rons Simasek on drums. Hunter S. Thompson received a full co-writing credit, one his last ever.

Listen to the Song:

Ric Albano