Reflective Retrospective Recollective


AiXeLsyD 🎸 Gasoline Dion 🎸 Ernie and the BertsSo, recently turning 40 has me reflecting on life in general (which is pretty damn great) & on my accomplishments as a “musician” even though I’m not actively gigging right now.

I’m pretty self-deprecating of my musical talents, but I am proud of the major part of the aural art that I helped create.  I compiled and uploaded a few of my favorites after using Audacity to clip out some silence and mp3Gain to try to get all the volume levels somewhat similar.

If you’ll indulge me I’d like to give my thoughts & memories on each of these songs that I was proud to be a part of with AiXeLsyD, Gasoline Dion, & Ernie and the Berts.  If I have any of the stories, names, etc. wrong, please correct me in the comments.  Being that these are punk rock(ish) bands, you may find the content explicit and/or objectionable.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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  1. Gasoline Dion – “Shameless Plug”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | Tommy came up with this cool shuffling progression and I played a super easy solo over it.  I believe we kept the first take of the solo even though at the time I thought I could do better.  It’s not perfect, but it’s fun.  It was cool to open shows with this then rip into something completely different. It was called “Tommy’s Jam” until an inside joke on a local message board inspired the new name.

  2. AiXeLsyD – “Wait”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | Probably the first song that I wrote that I liked, and probably the first original that we worked on in the band.  We dug on this & recorded it a million times.  It morphed a bit, but was basically the same simple jam.  Ben doubling the vocals an octave lower and the guitar part at the end really fills it out.

  3. Gasoline Dion – “Pickle Farm”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | Tommy had recorded this song solo, and it contributed to the itch that I needed to scratch when we formed Gasoline Dion.  I really liked the melody.  I think he stole the lyrics from Space Ghost or Brak.  This song to me is about not being a square peg that’s forced into a round hole.  I liked singing background vocals & playing guitar.

  4. Ernie and the Berts – “Toybox”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | Erin wanted to start a band to play rocked-out Willy Wonka covers.  That never happened.  This did.  It was the first original that stuck, and an early recording became the soundtrack to a friend’s video project.  Dave learned to play drums in/for this band.  This is a nice simple driving groove and is the perfect vehicle for the introduction of Erin’s gnarly gravelly voice.

  5. AiXeLsyD – “Hopeless & Heartless”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | I wrote this on the outside of seeing someone with a broken heart.  I thought it was pretty catchy.  The “whoa-oh’s” are overkill but oddly necessary in my humble opinion. I think An-Die, Ben, & I are all singing on multiple tracks here.

  6. Gasoline Dion – “Cold”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | This riff was a leftover AiXeLsyD riff that almost became part of two songs but never really went anywhere.  Mike had some leftover Who’s.Keeping.Score? lyrics that Dave & I re-arranged.  Dave & I work really well on arranging musical parts & lyrics. I really really dig Tommy & I singing together on this one.

  7. Ernie and the Berts – “Fred Rogers”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | Erin supposed that a local hero may not really be a hero on this one.  Maybe he read that weird urban legend.  I really like the guitar part here, although it’s missing some kind of effect in my head.  Wah?  Phaser?  Not sure.  Erin let me just go goofy with background vocals here.  I felt like Danzig or that Not-Danzig guy in the Cult.  I love how this song builds into chaos.

  8. AiXeLsyD – “Stand Up”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | This is where it all pulled together, and it was the last proper thing we recorded.  Ha ha. An-Die wrote the riff & lyrics, I arranged them.  Ben came up with the guitar noodling& octaves riff. I think I came up with the stupid  guitar part for the verse. I really dig my guitar solo here,even though I went too long.  (Oddly, this sounds a lot like “Anything, Anything (I’ll Give You)” by Dramarama as played by Buckcherry.)

  9. Gasoline Dion – “Political Songs (With Deep Meaning)”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | I was listening to a lot of the Unseen, I think.  I don’t really write political stuff that often.  This was taking the piss out of that genre.  Dave sounded better on it with vocals.  I scream “feet” in the background and give the creepy laugh at the end.  We lost the original lyrics, so Dave used what he remembered and made the rest up on the fly.  I don’t really think any one ever tried to intemperate a deeper meaning. If they did, they didn’t tell us.

  10. Ernie and the Berts – “Don’t Fuck With Ernie”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | It was hard to tell if Erin was serious or joking a lot of the time. He had a deadpan delivery, and it was hilarious. To deliver this ridiculousness so seriously is hilarious to me.  I think I sort of came up with this riff over top of his bass line.

  11. AiXeLsyD – “Dave Ugly’s Girlfriend”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | It’s “Dave Ugly’s Girlfriend”, not “Dave’s Ugly Girlfriend.”  People always seemed to get that wrong.  Dave Ugly played bass & sang for one of our favorite local bands, Useless Torment.  I don’t tell the story as well as An-Die, but Dave was apparently saying he loved him, and An-Die was playing the “even if…” game, and arrived at this.  I remember being “mad” when Sum 41 came out as a punk band rapping.  I think Boner played guitar on this one and Ben played Drums?

  12. Gasoline Dion – “Bitch Pants Opera”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | I don’t know if we could do this one today.  People seem so easily offended.  It’s just a joke.  We don’t really care if you wear girl pants.  We’re not insinuating or implying anything.  We look ridiculous too.  Another Dave vocals song, I am screaming the high parts.  All of us are in the beginning. I think the breakdown was inspired by hardcore /screamo kids in skinny jeans doing the windmill and Peelander-Z’s “S.T.E.A.K.”

  13. Ernie and the Berts – “Ikea”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | Dave suggested I try a little more dynamics with space and clean.  Dave is usually right.  You can do a lot with the same 3 chords over & over. This was a slice of Erin’s life, full of his observations.  We almost got permission to go in & shoot a video there.  Somebody must have really listened to the lyrics.  He had “nicer” ones prepared just in case we needed to sell out.

  14. AiXeLsyD – “Love, Hopes, Dreams, & Smiles”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] |I think An-Die hated this one.  I liked the noodling& the melody.  The lyrics are super dumb & trite.  The song was made infinitely cooler when Ben put in that volume swell in the final mix.  That was never there, then we started doing it live after he did that to the recording.  This could probably be punched-up a little bit more.

  15. Gasoline Dion – “Two of a Kind”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | Tommy sings like an angel.  I have no idea what in the hell he’s talking about here.  I think Dave & Mike made this honky-tonk-ish.  I played a little solo under Tommy’s vocals at the end because nobody ever told me not to.  The end sounds like the Misfits’ “NY Ranger.”

  16. Ernie and the Berts – “I Don’t Wanna”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | Erin stole this one from a band called Suck-Your-Brains-A-Go-Go.  I don’t know if they ever recorded it.  I should ask the man who wrote it some time.  We made it ours. I think Bengt punched-up some of the guitar & added a bit of harmonies during the recording process.

  17. Gasoline Dion – “Shameless Plug (Reprise)”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | Same thing as the first track, second solo take by me with a wah pedal this time. Dave is also on guitar making crazy noises and soloing in between all of my notes.  Ha ha.  If you don’t “get” the speaking part, watch the Josie and the Pussycats movie some time.

I’d love to know what you think, or to read/see/hear your own memories about these bands or in any bands or projects in which you have participated.   Did I miss a song or two that you may have remembered or liked?  Comments (or likes or whatever is deemed social-media-appropriate) on the songs on SoundCloud or YouTube would be awesome and greatly appreciated, too.

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Check out the playlist on SoundCloud:

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Check out the playlist on YouTube:

Can you Dig it?

I think you should be able to download a zip of the collection on Google Drive or SendSpace if you’re so inclined.  If you can’t get it there, let me know and I can email it to you.

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The AiXeLsyD stuff:

The Gasoline Dion stuff:

The Ernie and the Berts Stuff:

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Check out some related posts:

NOTE:  Edited to correct links to YouTube videos, made new ones for some slideshows that were too short.  Also, check the comments!
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Guitarobatics 🎸


I’m on a few super gear-nerdy and G.A.S.-educing groups on Facebook.  To the Awesome Cheap Guitars group, I recently posed this question:

So,what awesome cheap guitar moves have you pulled on stage? I’m a horrible guitar player, but I can wow a crowd with some flash, flair, and goofy-looking guitars. I’m guilty of the checked following…

Dancing E.

Dancing E.

☑ Playing behind the head.
☑ Playing while squatting with guitar in between knees, reaching arm through legs from behind.
☑ Playing while falling/laying down.
☑ Dropping-trou and continuing to play.
☑ Playing on knees bending back until head almost touches the ground.
Sad 80’s dance move with shuffling feet while playing.
☑ Playing on chairs.
☑ Playing on tables.
☐ Playing on the bar.
☑ Walking outside & in another door if possible with a wireless.
☑ Sitting in a seat with a wireless.
☑ Stage-diving.
☑ The Chuck Berry/Angus Young walk.
☑ Switching instruments mid song.
☐ Using a beer bottle as a slide.
☑ Using a mic stand as a slide.
☐ Blowing bubblegum bubbles. (Like Doyle.)
☑ Drinking mid song.
☑ Injuring a band mate by accident. (I chipped the lead-singer/bass player’s tooth.)
☐ Injuring a band mate on purpose.
☑ Improvising a mic stand out of duct tape, a hockey stick, & gatorade bottles. (Hey, we were playing at a dek-hockey rink.)
☐ Playing on someone’s shoulders.
☐ Playing while someone is on your shoulders.
☑ Playing from behind a wooden bear statue with the guitar on the front of the bear.
☐ Putting a lit cigarette under the strings in the headstock.
☐ The amp-hump. (Like Jimi.)
☑ The guitar-as-a-phallic-symbol air-hump. (Like Rex from the Lone Rangers  in Airheads.) 
☐ The guitar toss – Badass edition. (Like Prince – also, check out the falling into the crowd move!!!)
☐ The guitar toss – Oops edition. (Like Prince with the borrowed Epiphone or Krist Novoselic on MTV.)
☐ The guitar toss – Someone else catches & starts playing.
☐ Smoke-bombs. (Like Ace Frehley.)
☐ Set Fire to the guitar. (Like Jimi.)
☐ The windmill. (Like Pete.)
☑ The powerslide.
☑ The failed powerslide.
☐ Swinging from the rafters. (Hard to do while actually playing? This dude did it.)
☐ The “‘round the world” spin.
☐ The failed “round the world” spin.
☑ Yelling out a second story window mid-set for people to come into the bar.
☐ The “nyah-nyah you can’t see me” EVH turn-around.
☐ The flying karate kick.
☑ On the knees.
☐ On top of a piano. (Like Slash.)
☑ Dancing with the crowd.
☑ Duel of the Fates – using another musician’s fretboard as a slide.
 The salute – All in the air.
☑ The Poison-ish choreographed lean.
☑ Lean on a bandmate.
☑ Lean into a bandmate.

I know there are more.  I know photos & videos exist of some of these with me.   I know this post can get goofy. Please, I implore you to share your moves, including videos, animated gifs, and photos in the comments!  This kind of stuff is hilariously entertaining to me.

What’s your favorite to do?  What’s your favorite to watch?  What have you copied?  What have you invented?  What did I miss on this list?  Share your stories and images and favorite stuff from your favorite performers!

Now, for the self-indulgence:

Thanks, Ernie.


The email/text/something came from Dave in a lull.  I don’t know what it was, but I know it wasn’t a phone call.  We don’t use phones to talk.  What is this, the 1880s?  Dave said he knew a cat that played bass who wanted to start something weird.  Dave wanted to learn drums, and they needed a guitar player.  I think the original concept was to cover songs from the Willie Wonka movie.  That never panned out, but Erin told us that he had always been in bands to play bass, but had never really sung.  He wanted to be the singer.  That was cool with me.  I was just happy to be making music & playing shows once again.

Erin took on the role of frontman pretty easily.  That gravely growl was perfect.  The bass playing was very fluid.  All I needed to do was slap out some power chords, and some backing vocals.  Everything was always a work in progress, ever-evolving.  I eventually played slightly more than power chords.  Erin was the writer, mastermind & driving force.  Dave & I just reigned him in a little where we could and only if we thought he may be losing focus.  Focus?  Ha.  We didn’t have much of that.  That was OK.

Practice nights sometimes were about playing songs, and sometimes just about bullshitting.  Sometimes we made some really cool sounds, and by next week we had all but forgotten them.  Who cares?  We were having fun.  Dave & I were old friends by this point, but Erin was right in there.  Somewhere along the way & pretty damn quickly we had that “dudes in a band” bond.  He was the Ernie, and we were the Berts.  It fit.

Erin was always excited at the prospect of a new show, new idea, recording, playing with a new band… new logo, new T-shirt, whatever.  Sometimes it seemed like all of our effort was fruitless… but looking back, it wasn’t.  It only furthered the “us against them” mentality.  I think we played an open stage after 1 or 2 practices?

Erin was always concerned about what was going on in my life, be it good or bad.  He listened.  He actually listened & cared.  That can be rare.  He did the same thing to random people in the bars before we’d play, or after we played.  He liked to talk & he liked to listen.

I don’t know if we were a punk band, a rock band, a fiasco, or a gang… but we were friends.  I wish we had more time, and more shows.  But that’s always how it goes, isn’t it?

Oh yeah.  Erin had brain cancer too. He didn’t let that get in the way.  Oh sure, he’d tell you about it just to make you squirm a little in your seat, but then he’d laugh it off and put you at ease.  Yeah, he’d put you at ease.  That’s the kind of cat that he was.

Really, I haven’t forgotten.


Haven’t been blogging much lately, but I have a new job, am trying to get mazes done when I can, and I’ve been researching several potential purchases to help with said job online.  I will no doubt get back to blogging once things level out.

Any advice on which Epipen leg pouch I should get?  The OmaxCare™ LegBuddy™, the Allergy Essentials Epissentials™ Epipen Holder, or something else?

OxmaCare™ LegBuddy™

OxmaCare™ LegBuddy™

Epissentials™ Epipen Case

Epissentials™ Epipen Case

Medipouch Leg Wrap

Medipouch Leg Wrap

I finally got my prescription renewed, & got a double-pack. Thankfully I’ve never had to jab myself with one.  I did try the practice one a few times.  So, what do you do with your expired ones?  Does anyone take donations or recycle them?

Help Me Reach My Goal!

Help Me Reach My Goal!

Don’t forget, I’ll be doing the FAAN Walk For Food Allergy on Sept. 16th in Pittsburgh, and I could certainly always use more donations!  I’m only about a third of the way to my goal this year, so I can certainly use some help.

I’m also always trying to figure out how to come up with cash to buy more goofy guitars, and Ernie and the Berts is writing more stuff & hoping to record ASAP.  I try to catch other local & national shows when I can.

Of course, I’m also spending time with the wife, as we have some fun stuff coming up… like weddings, hopefully the Renaissance Fair soon, the Food Allergy Walk, a camp service for church, and more.

I’m still not Kmart or McDonald’s, but I do have some blog feedback that I need to address.

I might have some more stuff asking opinions in the next few days.

I haven’t forgotten about blogging.


I haven’t forgotten about blogging.  There’s just been a bunch going on lately.  The band had a few gigs back-to-back, & we’ve been trying to come up with new stuff.  The real job has been rather taxing of late, the workload and hours have increased.  The wife & I seem to have some sort of scheduled social or family function every weekend lately.  Our week at Living Waters is coming up & I’ve been preparing for that.  I started to work on my New York Pro guitar & chronicle that, but got to a stopping point & haven’t had time to get back to it.  I’ve been trying to pull together some mazes, new old, some unfinished… I want to get a bunch ready to go, then look at my best publishing options.  I’ve also been battling a nasty stuffy nose coupled with a summer cold & fatigue.

I’m certainly not complaining, there’s just a bunch of stuff going on.  I felt the need to explain the lack of posts.  I even have some drafts written on what I feel to be some entertaining subjects…  I just need the time to sit, make the graphics & write the posts that go along with them.

If you need some blog feed, check out:

Move Along, Move Along...

Move Along, Move Along…

The first official Ernie and the Berts interview?


<shameless plug>

Check out this interview with Ernie and the Berts from AZ Productions!

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You ought to come see some of these shows.


I’m sure you know I’m one of the Berts in Ernie and the Berts.  I’m sure you know we play shows.  I’m sure you’d have fun at one (or two or three or four).  Come rock out with us some time…

Tue. 06/05/2012 @ Altar Bar - Real McKenzies, Goddamn Gallows, Bloody Seamen, Ernie and the Berts

✟ The Real McKenzies ✟ The Goddamn Gallows ✟ The Bloody Seamen ✟ Ernie and the Berts ✟

Tuesday June 5th, 2012 at the Altar Bar (Also, win Ernie’s Pants!)

Fri. 06/22 @ Ozzie's - Nervous Aggression, Don't Wake the Dead, Ernie and the Berts

☠ Nervous Aggression ☠ Don’t Wake the Dead ☠ Ernie and the Berts ☠

Friday June 22nd, 2012 at Ozzie’s Bar & Grill

Fri. 06/23/2012 @ The Fallout Shelter: Ernie and the Berts, Johnnie Lee Jordan, Alex Payne, Joey Molinaro

☢ Ernie and the Berts ☢ Johnnie Lee Jordan ☢ Alex Payne ☢ Joey Molinaro ☢

Saturday June 23rd, 2012 at the Fallout Shelter

Fri. 07/20/2012 @ The Fallout Shelter: OTiS, Scratch n' Sniffs, Ernie and the Berts

☢ OTiS ☢ Scratch n’ Sniffs ☢ Ernie and the Berts ☢

Friday July 20th, 2012 at the Fallout Shelter

As you can see we have a bunch of stuff coming up.  We generally try to be all kinds of fun.  We’re playing with some exciting bands & artists.  We’re playing some new venues & some old favorites.  We’re playing with bands we love & bands we’ve never met.  Each show is an adventure.  Join us!