Easy Guitar Chord Tools?


So, every once in a while, these gadgets pop up on Facebook guitar discussion groups.  You get a lot of people poking fun, you get some support.  I had to break it all down.  It’s easy to hate, but some of these may ignite a spark and only be training wheels.  Some of these may enable people with physical or mental disabilities to play some music.  Who should be denied artistic creativity?

 

Chord Buddy, ChorDelia, E-Z Chord, Ez-Fret, WESOLO

Guitar Chord Assistance / Learning Systems

 

Check out all the stats I could find & compile on the Chord Buddy, E-Z Chord, Ez-Fret, & WESOLO Guitar Learning System.

Check out all the details, embedded below:

 

 

Or, check out the full sheet here.  I have websites, prices, lists of chords, and even videos where I could find them.

There is a wide variety of options.  If you can fill in any of the blanks, that would be killer.  If you know of any other similar systems, I could certainly add them.

This doesn’t even touch the Guitar Barre or Hammer Jammer.

 

♪♫♬ 🎸 ♪♫♬

 

On a personal blogging note or two;  I need to update my guitar wish list (and the older list).  The wife got me a BOHO for my birthday!  I have been drawing more mazes.  I may have more time to blog coming up.  I should post some of the mazes.  Someone named Hope recently posted a solution to an old maze in the comments! That makes me super happy.  I’m glad someone enjoys them!

I know I have been bad at blogging.  Life got crazy busy as it does.  I do hope to blog more, not sure if many people read it… but it is fun.  Hopefully if you feel the need, you can keep up with me on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

 

So, I set up a living room rig. 🎸


This morning I felt like playing the guitar. I didn’t feel like jamming in the basement by my work bench where all my stuff is set up. I didn’t bring up the Laney 2×12 or the Orange Micro Terror. I brought out the Fender Blues Jr. & a Yamaha MSR100 powered speaker so I could run my new DigiTech Trio into two different outputs.

The Trio was a birthday present from my wife. It was on backorder from Sweetwater for a while & we have been really busy so this was my first chance to try it out.  I set it up like this…

Living Room Rig Setup

It started out as a pile of stuff in the corner.  Then I remembered that I had an old RCA-Victor TV cabinet in the garage purchased from our house’s previous owner that I thought about turning into an amp someday.  The Blues Jr. fit where the TV went, and the Yamaha PA fit underneath where the speaker grille is.

Then I had a cabinet and I pile of pedals.  So, I cut up a milk crate and made a goofy pedal board with a Donner power supply & some zip ties.  The “board” fits inside the cabinet with the blues Jr. too.  It was a morning long project but it felt good to get it done & know I can jam a lot more easily.  It may be tricky if I just want to use the Trio & some headphones.

I do have a Dirt & Ernie pedal & an A/B/Y that I use to run the Jr. & Micro Terror at the same time.  Maybe a board extension will eventually be in order?  How cool would it be if the doors came off & were the pedalboard?

Oh well.  Enough monkeying.  Time to jam.

I will eventually have to give a serious(?) evaluation of the Trio.  I do already know I want a looper now.  Ha ha.  It was pretty intuitive & loads of right out of the box.  My 4 year old told me to turn it down right away, so it had to be cool.  Right?

 

Monkeying with the DigiTech Trio:

I apologize for the “living room while the wife and kids are home” volume, and the Crocs.

 

My little dude seemed to like the idea.  He has all the moves down.  Maybe some day he will want to play too!

Do you have a living room, bedroom, or other small setup rig?  Share some in the comments!  Any thoughts on any of this equipment?  Any tips for the Trio?  You can comment below here at the blog with WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, or a Gravatar login.

Kyle Dine and Friends | DVD Review


I posted a review of Kyle Dine’s DVD on Amazon, and wanted to share it here…

Kyle Dine is an incredibly talented and extremely creative children’s entertainer.  He also wields the utmost authority on living life while coping with food allergies as he has multiple food allergies himself and is a successful world-travelled musical educator.

These expertly crafted videos are full of incredibly fun and catchy age-appropriate songs and lessons about having food allergies.  How to avoid your trigger foods, hand washing, always carrying your auto-injector, and how to quickly reach out for help if necessary are just some of the topics not only touched upon but driven home by Kyle and his puppet friends.  

As an adult with a severe food allergy I am so glad that this type of resource is available for the ever-growing “club” of the food allergic.  As a parent of a child with food allergies, this is an invaluable tool to help teach a toddler turning into a pre-schooler about the importance of not eating food unless it’s OK’d by mommy or daddy, and for her to let us know immediately if she is having a reaction.  Luckily she loves to wash her hands, so we’ve got that covered.  These lessons are delivered in the fine tradition of children’s programming like Sesame Street or Mr. Rogers, and they work.  Both of my kids were moving to the music upon our first viewing!

I not only recommend this for food allergy families, but I would say that extended family who may not understand food allergies, your child’s friends and their parents, and organizations like schools, churches, camps, & clubs could all benefit from the knowledge and entertainment provided by this set of DVD’s.  This programming ought to play on constant rotation in your family’s pediatric allergist’s office waiting room.

This can and will serve as an incredibly fun way to open the door to creating a fun, safe, and confident approach to living with food allergies.

Kyle Dine & Friends: Allergy Awareness with Songs, Puppets, and Games

Kyle Dine & Friends

 

Yinzburg makes some tasty BBQ for y’all…


YinzBurgh BBQ on UrbanspoonLast night before the band played a show in Bloomfield, my wife & I stopped with some friends at Yinzburg BBQ on Baum Blvd. in Bloomfield.  Last time I was in that building it was a Roly Poly, and it’s certainly a different place now.

Yelp | Pittsburgh BBQ

Yelp | Pittsburgh BBQ

I’m a huge fan of BBQ and I have been reading great reviews about the place online, so I was very anxious to check it out.  (Also, I’ve been in a BBQ mood lately.)  Of course with the whole shellfish allergy thing, I took a look at the menu online before we went down.  My mouth was watering at all of the delicious prospects.  Thankfully, there is no deathfish present on the menu.  I’ve sadly gone to places before that have had daily specials or menu revamps that aren’t online… so I decided to send them an email.  I was met with a quick, friendly & inviting reply from owner & chef Richard.  His philosophy seems to be summed up in his email signature:

1. Barbecue is a cuisine; Barbecue sauce is a condiment!
2. The sauce is served on the side.
3. The love is in the rub!

When we walked in we were greeted by a woman with a sweet southern accent who asked us if we had ever been there before.  We indicated that we hadn’t & got a lesson in the 4 main & 2 hot barbecue sauces.  I liked the vinegar one & the signature red…  And, I liked that you could get 2 different ones with your meal.  Next time I might get the mustard sauce.

I had the brisket & pulled pork combo with the signature red & vinegar sauces (served on the side, so you can apply or dip however you like), the coleslaw, and a root beer from Natrona.  I tried both meats sans sauce, and they were incredible.  I found myself having a hard time deciding which sauce I liked better with which meat.  The coleslaw was creamy and flavorful.  I also had a sample of my wife’s mac n’ cheese (she got a delicious looking half chicken), and our friends’ collard greens.  The mac n’ cheese was nice & creamy and the collard greens were delicious.  I’ve sadly never had any until now.  We even had a very satisfied vegetarian in our midst who seemed to really like the smoked tofu wrap.  It’s not every day you find a BBQ place that serves vegan and vegetarian items.

There were two 2-seater tables outside, and 2 tables with standing room only inside.  We stood as we dined,negotiating around the mountain of food in front of us.  Halfway through the meal, I was already planning what to order for my next visit.  Next time it’s chicken & ribs… maybe the black eyed peas on the side.  Next time will also be soon!  They asked us to tell our friends… and if you’re reading this… you’re my friend, and you need to go check this place out!

I was so enamored with the food… I forgot to take a photo to upload to UrbanSpoon… oh well, maybe next time!

☘ Flogging Molly, fights, fiddles, friends, family, folk, & fools… ☘


Had a great time last night at Stage AE for the Flogging Molly show!  It was a nice evening out, much closer to home than the last Flogging Molly show that we had to drive to Cleveland for, and we didn’t wait too long to buy tickets this time.  (Last time, we waited too long & it sold out!)  After arriving home from work, Bethany & I headed to Dormont Dogs for a nice quick meal.  (I had the Connecticut Ave. dog minus the onions, it was fantastic!)  We then battled and easily defeated the tunnel monster on the way to the north shore.

We got there early, because I’m generally OCD about getting to shows early.  We lined up outside behind the mob of green & black T-shirts peppered with the occasional tartan patterned kilt or someone who didn’t get the memo about wearing green to a Celtic punk rock show.  There were more people than I had expected.  It was windy, but not unbearable.  We were entertained by the 3 or 4 scalpers passing by asking for extra tickets.  One guy had his leg in some sort of brace or cast, and one guy was on a bike.  They mustn’t have scored any, because I didn’t see anyone selling them.

This was sadly the first time I’ve seen a show with the big room opened up.  I need to get to more shows down there.  (The 1st time I was there was to see Dethlehem and they were on the smaller bar stage.)  It’s a fantastic venue.  You have a nice view all around.  The only thing I’d change is having the floor slightly sloped… but then again I’m just short.  After getting a superficial pat-down at the door, we stopped & said hi to Jeff who was working & not setting any fires.  Then we made our way to the bar where I got a Killian’s Irish Red because I can’t really take too much Guinness.  The wife opted for water.  At a Flogging Molly show?  Water?  She must be the more responsible half.

We joined the pack of Yinzers crowding the merch table as we tried to get a look and get up front.  It was easy to see that the dude wasn’t taking orders from any other dudes… so my wife ordered our shirts and a patch once we squeezed our way to the front.  As I was getting a dollar out of my wallet to pop into the tip bucket, it fell into my beer.  So, dude got a soggy dollar & a dry dollar.  Sorry.  Not that sorry though.  You can still spend it.  I picked up a Devil Makes Three CD too.  I saw them online & liked what I heard.  I asked the merch guy which one he suggested.  He showed me the 1st album & the live one.  He seemed to indicate that the live one was a nice cross-section, so I went with that.

To the floor!  It was still relatively easy to make our way to the center & almost front of the floor.  Things were starting to pack in as we got there, it was pretty good timing & placement. We thought.  Bethany thought she smelled a skunk, and we were too far away from the obligatory dreadlock kid for it to be Patchouli & BO, so it was most likely the extremely pungent weed that we were smelling burning much later. (I bet area Taco Bell locations had a surge of customers after the show.) Our friend Laurel made a last-minute decision to come to the show, so she joined us right as the lights went down…

Brothers of Brazil | Stage AE (Pittsburgh, PA) 05/10/2012

Brothers of Brazil | Stage AE (Pittsburgh, PA) 05/10/2012

The Brothers of Brazil were up first.  Imagine a young Fred Schneider (or Michale Ian Black) on guitar and Billy Idol (or maybe even Johnny Rotten) on drums.  These dudes were quite interesting.  The guitar-work was amazing, & the drummer was quite the showman & very entertaining.  They had this weird samba punk rock vibe… it was odd.  I’d see them again.  I dunno if I’d buy an album.  It was fantastic that they opened & closed with a theme song.  I believe these dudes will do well for themselves.  I don’t think Bethany & Laurel were as amused as I was.

The Devil Makes Three | Stage AE (Pittsburgh, PA) 05/10/2012

The Devil Makes Three | Stage AE (Pittsburgh, PA) 05/10/2012

Up next was The Devil Makes Three.  The crowd stated getting a little more packed in, and a drunken kid beside me ruined the first 2 songs by slurredly “singing” loudly & off-key directly into my ear, until he decided that the crowd wasn’t as into it as he was, and muttered something about us being lame & pushing forward.  These dudes rocked quietly, but they play really well.  They have great melodies & harmonies… even though they were minus their regular bass player.  I have no idea what to call it. Is it folk? Alt country? Blues? Punk? It’s close-to-but-not bluegrass or rockabilly.  All I know is that I like it.  I’m gonna say if you like punk rock, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, or old folk or blues stuff… you ought to check these cats out.  They win the award for coolest guitars too.  Cooper McBean played a mean-looking old archtop with what I think was a P-90 mounted in it.  it looked like it had been left out in a sandstorm after someone dumped some paint-thinner on it.  I wanted it.  He mainly rocked the banjo & a tenor banjo.  The lyrics are great.  Check out this comic set to the lyrics of the song “The Bullet”.  I will see this band next time they’re in town!  Bethany really dug them too, being a country fan and all.  I think Laurel was trying to figure them out.

Well, we enjoyed the part of the set that wasn’t ruined by belligerent drunken meat-heads.  Starting at about the same time as The Devil Makes Three, the crowd directly behind us was swaying & getting rowdy.  Oh well, it’s a concert. We’re in the middle of the floor. That’s what happens. Until these testoster-tools behind us start arguing about something.  I heard something about touching or talking to a sister. I’m not sure. Maybe they were bumping into each other, maybe someone was trying to bump uglies. I was trying to pay attention to the blisteringly talented  band on stage. There was arguing, shoving, and a guy getting in the middle. Somebody’s “bro” got in the middle and then calmed things down.  Security was eying them and pointing flashlights from the ramps on the side, but apparently not responding.  Then everything was “cool” and it remained calm, for a song or two anyway.  All of a sudden I hear “oh my god!” and my wife is on the floor on her ass.  I pulled her up and swung around and yelled something to the effect of “Who the [expletive] knocked my wife on to the [expletive] floor?”  Two dudes larger than me in height and girth (one in a kilt as well as a drunken stupor) looked at me with an expression that can only be descried as “oh shit”.  I turned around to ask Bethany if she was OK.  She nodded.  I swung back around to the now large gap in the crowd surrounding the two sweaty ass-clowns and demanded that they apologize to Bethany. They did, looking like a dog that just took a dump on the living room floor, as security arrived to further scold them and ask me if Bethany was OK. Next time how about responding before a bystander gets knocked over?  I guess she saw one dingleberry trying to choke the other dingleberry as she got knocked down.  I would expect this kind of crap at a metal show, but for folk punk?  Way to uphold drunken Irish fighting stereotypes, McPotatoheads.  I don’t know if I would have punched those guys, or what… but apparently my tone of voice or the look on my face told them not to mess with me.  I thought security was going to drag me into it too as he was asking if Bethany was OK.  Later Laurel laughed as she said she thought I was going to swing & she’d end up jumping on the fat guy & throwing punches too.  Maybe we’re all a little too violent?

Finally, it was time for Flogging Molly!  Despite all of the drunken violence, the smell of burning leaves in the non-smoking venue, the guy in front of me repeatedly backing himself into my junk, getting sweat on me from the shirtless guy, and paying $12 for parking, we were having one hell of a great time!

Flogging Molly | Stage AE (Pittsburgh, PA) 05/10/2012

Flogging Molly | Stage AE (Pittsburgh, PA) 05/10/2012

If you’ve never seen Flogging Molly in action, I’m not sure how to describe it.  Seven people come on to the stage and sound like 70.  The crowd really started moving so I pushed Bethany & myself forward & off to the side as we lost Laurel with the first wave.  She found us not too long after that.  Dave King & company ripped through a bunch of hits & some stuff that they don’t regularly do live.  I remember it being a long set & how I liked every selection.  I could have watched them go for many more songs, even after the encore.  I can’t pick a favorite track, I like so many of them.  I really enjoyed “What’s Left of the Flag”, “If I Ever Leave This World Alive”, “Float”, & “The Son Never Shines (on Closed Doors)”, & of course “7 Deadly Sins”.  The inter-song banter keeps things light with songs that can have such heavy lyrical matter all the while to a happy beat.  You get the feeling that they’re all playing right from the heart.  You have this killer group of musicians that can probably between them master any instrument you might have lying around.  Dennis Casey has his hands full trying to compete with & leave room for all of the other instruments.  I was glad he got a spot for a guitar solo of sorts, in with the Guinness chug.  Every time I see a Celtic punk band, I get the urge to buy a Telecaster.  At any rate, Flogging Molly did not disappoint.  We’ll see them next time they’re in the ‘Burgh, Cleveland, or anywhere else nearby.  I know Bethany loved it, I think Laurel did too.  After the show, we ran into my cousin Patience.  Taste in awesome Irish music must run in the family.

☘☘☘☘☘☘

Your favorite pizza sucks, my favorite pizza rules! (Part 3)


CHAINS.  I wanted to tackle the prominent area pizza chains for part 3.  (You read parts 1 & 2, right?) I’m really not supposed to eat pizza right now thanks to recently diagnosed GERD/Acid Reflux/Barret’s Esophagus, but I have eaten many pizzas from these many chains over the years.  I’m going to be extra picky about my pizza from now on.  I’ll probably stick with Slice on Broadway and Aiello’s.  But the event may come up where I need to pick a chain place again, and here’s where they fall…

Fox's Pizza Den on UrbanspoonFox’s (or Fox’s Pizza Den) is pretty good.  The different locations aren’t always consistent, but when you find a good one… stick with it!  I really dig the one in Bridgeville as of late, but the one closest to home is the one in Brookline.  I grew up on Fox’s in Murrysville, as it was the only place who would deliver to my house out in the boonies.  I don’t know if Fox’s recently revamped their UrbanSpoon profiles or what, but I know I’ve reviewed the one in Brookline, but it’s not there.  Their pages all seem to have little to no reviews or votes.  I remember going on & on about the wedgies.  In fact, I found it at another source

WedgieGimme a Wedgie!
It’s not the sick twisted fantasies of a nerd that likes being dominated by bullies…  It’s a call to order the best #%@$ing sandwich you’ve ever had.  It’s served up on a pizza crust instead of a bun.  How awesome is that?  The steak one is my favorite, but I’ve never seen one that doesn’t look appetizing.  Just make sure you’ve got plenty of napkins on hand.

Their pizza is pretty damn good too.  There was a Fox’s near where I grew up in the suburbs, but they never had a menu this vast.  I sometimes end up getting the fried zucchini or the potato wedges… but really can’t ever eat anything after finishing a whole wedgie.  In fact, my wife & I even sometimes just split one to avoid over-stuffing.  Ordering for delivery is usually the standard half hour to 45 min., and they’re usually there before they said they were going to be… so that’s a plus.  You can’t go wrong with Fox’s.

Vocelli Pizza (Dormont) on Urbanspoon

Vocelli Pizza is another one that must have purged old UrbanSpoon reviews.  There’s virtually nothing there.  I used to love Vocelli’s, even if they’re just named after a made up Italian sounding word.  The service at the local one went down hill, and this is what it used to say on UrbanSpoon:

I used to love this place, & would order quite frequently.  But, the last time we got a Buffalo chicken pizza, there was hair on it.  My wife called & told them, they said they’d send a coupon for a free one next time.  We never got any coupons, and were hungry for their food again… so I got a stromboli and the wife got a buffalo chicken pizza… and the pizza had hair on it again.  She found it (luckily) on the first bite.  So, she called the call center. She of course, didn’t eat any more, so we could show them.  The delivery boy showed up… was incredibly rude, didn’t look at the old pizza, and practically threw the new one at my wife.

I don’t know why he took it personally… I was gonna tip him for coming out the 2nd time because he didn’t put hair on the pizza… but with actions/service like that, they can shove it.  I always tried to tip well too, as we (used to) get pizza form there all the time.  This was enough to end it.  There’s plenty of other pizza shops around, apparently they don’t need our business, anyway.  Hair in a pizza once?  I can see it happening.  Twice within the span of a month or two?  That’s just absolutely ridiculous.

So… in closing, I’d say what used to be a great place has now sunken to a.) being filthy, and b.) having terrible customer service.

…but in all fairness, after a while we did go back & they seemed to have weeded out the bad employees.  I’ve also tried their artery-clogging Alfredo sauce on a pizza, and loved it.  My triglycerides did not.  I do like Vocelli’s normal sauce, and they generally make a consistent pie & decent subs.  If you’re ordering for a crowd, I’d say Vocelli Pizza is an across-the-board crowd-pleaser.

Vocelli Pizza

''Vocelli?'' Sure, that sounds Italian enough!

Papa John's Pizza on UrbanspoonPapa John’s rules with their online ordering.  The sauce isn’t quite as good as Vocelli’s, but they do always give you the tasty garlic dipping sauce and a Peperoncini.  They do rock as far as consistency.  You know what you’re getting every time.  I wish they had subs, I always like to get subs… especially turkey, or sometimes you’re in the mood for a pizza-shop Italian sub.  But then again, maybe they just want to focus on pizza & doing it well.  Check out these amusing blog posts about Papa John’s:

Little Caesars Pizza on UrbanspoonLittle Caesar’s, what the hell happened?  When I was a young lad, we would pickup a pizza after we left Network Video (a place where you rented VHS tapes for the kids out there), we’d pop into Little Caesar’s for what I think was called a Bigfoot… two big-ass square pizzas side by side?  I’d always want breadsticks, because I have an unnatural love for carbs.  I was sad when Little Caesar’s all but disappeared and was relegated to Kmart stores for some strange reason.  When there was a recent resurgence, and a subsequent person paid to stand on West Liberty Ave. and sling a Little Caesar’s sign… I was excited.  We tried the new incredibly cheap pies one night… and they were terrible.  The sauce is definitely much more bitter than I remember, and perhaps in my old age I forgot about all the grease that adorns (soaks) their crust.  I still like the breadsticks, and $5 is pretty good for the amount that they give you, but $5 of crap is still crap.  If I’m in the mood for punishment, need an immediate meal, and it’s a week where I need to pay for dinner with couch change, I may go back.

Cici's Pizza - Bridgeville on UrbanspoonCiCi’s ought to change the name to CaCa’s.  I’ve only ever been there once, but that’s all I need.  Wow.  It was like eating wax & tomato soup spread out over crackers.  Who cares if it’s cheap and all-you-can-eat when it’s absolutely terrible nutrition?  My high school cafeteria served better pizza, and even better pizza imitation food.  I think there was a salad bar, and an unholy “mac n’ cheese” pizza.  I don’t remember much other than the dried crusty partial pies getting tanned under the hot lights and maybe even someone shouting a welcome when we walked in.  I just wanted to leave but had paid and tried to just stay & eat my few dollars worth.  CiCi’s won that day.  There’s no way I had eaten more of that crap than hat I paid for.

Pizza Hut on UrbanspoonPizza Hut causes me great gastrointestinal distress.  Every few years, I forget and enter a Pizza Hut thinking “ah, it wasn’t that bad”.  Yes, yes it is.  Perhaps I hit an age long ago where Pizza Hut was no longer compatible with my intestines.  Perhaps I was really slow to learn the pattern.  We didn’t do Pizza Hut too much when I was growing up.  Maybe I never built up a tolerance/immunity.  The pizza itself isn’t bad, I’ve had the personal pan, the normal pies, a few lunch buffets… they generally have a good crust & good flavor… albeit greasy.  It’s just that their pie unleashes itself like an assault team on my digestive system.  The one in Greentree is the last one that I visited.  The service was slow, and I didn’t feel welcomed at all.  Hopefully it steels my resolve to skip Pizza Hut in the future.

Pizza Hut Maze

A letter within a maze, for my pals at Pizza Hut. (They never did write back!)

I’ve dealt with Pizza Hut many times in the past…

Ridiculous.

Avoid the Noid

Avoid the Noid!

I know I missed Domino’s, but I was never impressed with their pies… and there’s never one around where I’m ordering.  I did like the Noid commercials back in the day though.  I haven’t tried their revamped pies.  I don’t feel like I’m missing anything.

Did I miss your favorite chain pizza?  Did I miss your most reviled?

Take the poll, it’s only open for a week!

Locksley is a class act.


Last night Ernie and the Berts had the opportunity to share the stage with D.I.Y. wizards, Locksley.  First off, these cats exude cool.  They look like they just walked out of the studio at Sun Records, or belonged on the Chess Records roster in the late 50’s.  In full confidence of all my manhood, I can say that if I were a woman, and into dudes, my panties would have been thrown onto the stage last night.  The best part is that they lack the pretentiousness sometimes associated with such a look.

Locksley is self-described as “doo-wop punk”, but it sure sounds like straight-up super poppy rock n’ roll to me.  Part 50’s ballads, part garage rock, part “Beatles just slashed the speakers” kind of vibe…. I even picked up a little Who and maybe even Pinhead Gunpowder.

These dudes explode on stage.  After their roadies got them all set up, drummer Sam Bair took nonchalantly to the stage, sat down, and started pounding like a madman.  As everyone in the room was spinning their head to see what was going on… the rest of the guys hopped up on stage, picked up their instruments, and joined in with a catchy number.  Bass player Jordan Laz called us all to action, Eastwood Airline bass slung to the side; No feet were to be still, no hands were to be left idle.

They actually implored us to go downstairs during the second song, and try to bring up Smiling Moose bar patrons from downstairs.  Not even the incredible fans that drove in from Ohio donning homemade letter jackets and poodle skirts emblazoned with Locksley logos went downstairs as we was requested.  No one wanted to miss whatever happened next!

Hooky melodies with a beat meant to keep your feet tapping is Locksley’s thing, and they do it well.  Their self-titled record comes across as a little softer, more polite, and gentle than the live show… but make no mistakes, these guys are mean on stage.

Guitarist Kai Kennedy was channeling Johnny Cash in all black with his well-worn cream colored Stratocaster wailing crazy poppy licks, and sweating bullets from the get-go.  Lead vocalist Jesse Laz let bass player & brother Jordan handle most of the inter-song banter, then would step in to croon and make jangly chord changes with his Epiphone Wilshire… A commanding presence that reminded me of Morris Day in Purple Rain.

Locksley

These guys have crazy stage presence.  Any inter-song banter was backed by soft rocking that ramped up just in time to jump into the next tune.  Moves that had to be choreographed but looked like they may have had an organic origin peppered the set.  Microphone sharing with killer vocal harmonies was all over the place.  Everyone who wasn’t tied to a drum kit was in the audience at one point, dancing, rocking, and singing away.  Kai and Jesse locked into this weird grappling maneuver where they played each others’ guitars while spinning around looking like someone trying to get out of a straightjacket.

After the set, handlebar-moustached drummer Sam wouldn’t let me purchase a CD.  Instead, he gave me a stack to pass along.  We gave some out to those who had attended the show, but I still have 2 unclaimed.  Let me know if you’re interested.  The 1st 2 to claim the disc in the comments below, it’s all yours.

Erin “Ernie” Payne & Dave “Bert” (or “the other Bert”) Warren went to a Fountains of Wayne show in Philly a while back, and Locksley was the opener.  Erin really dug what they were all about, and set out on a personal mission to bring them to the ‘Burgh.  I’m glad he did.  I had a great time last night, and I know the whole shebang was a big deal to Erin.  From what I can tell, all of the guys in Locksley and their friends/crew are all-around nice guys who have a genuine love for the music, the stage-show, and the adventure of being a rock n’ roll band.

Stay tuned to Ernie and the Berts’ Facebook page to see photos of the show!

http://twitter.com/#!/LocksleyMusic/status/136883071373942785

Bob Evans Follow-Up Bob Evans Follow-Up Bob Evans Follow-Up


Jelly! Jelly! Jelly!

Jelly! Jelly! Jelly!

You read about the Bob Evans fallout and follow-up, right?  In the interest of fully full disclosure, we went back, got a free meal, and had a nice normal dining out experience.  It went well.  LeAnn from Bob Evans wrote to check on me, and I thought I’d share the dialogue.

From: “Purdy, Leann D”
To: [Me]
Sent: Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Subject: RE: Bob Evans – Reference # 720520 / Blog post about Bob Evans

Hi Eric!

 I wanted to follow up with you to see if you had been back, if not I understand.  I do hope that you do at least use your gift certificates to get some of our amazing Wildfire BBQ sauce!

I know you had concerns with what action was taken after your call/email, I can assure you that all of your feedback is used for training purposes, we did forward your comments to the area coach and general manager so that we can ensure that we are providing excellent service.

Have a great day!

Jelly Jelly Jelly!

bef.gif

LeAnn Purdy
Representative, Guest and Consumer Relations

Supporting Bob Evans Restaurants, Bob Evans Food Products & Mimi’s Café Restaurants
3776 South High Street
Columbus, OH 43207
Bob Evans Guest and Consumer Relations: (800) 939-2338
Mimi’s Café Guest Relations: (866) 616-6464
Fax: (614) 492-4971
Bobevans.com

And, my response:

From: [-mE.]
To: “Purdy, Leann D” ; Riggs A.
Cc: [The Wife]
Sent: Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Subject: Re: Bob Evans – Reference # 720520 / Blog post about Bob Evans

Hello LeAnn,

Thank you very much for the follow up!  We actually did get the opportunity to take advantage of a free meal last Thursday night, at the same Bridgeville location.  It was a wonderful experience.  It wasn’t too busy when we arrived… and we seemed to get there right at a shift change, but the service was smooth nonetheless, and we only had to ask once for jelly!

Asking once for jelly & receiving it struck me as a possible bad omen.  Upon arrival, the first thing we heard as we were seated was the waitress at the table next to us (oddly not our waitress) telling her customers that something had been comped or removed from their bill… and the customer was spouting off about something unintelligible.

We had an excellent waitress then waiter, there was no shouting from the kitchen, the food was prepared well.  Some of the carrots with my turkey dinner were dry/cracked, but you’ll get that anywhere.  I didn’t see a manager on duty or patrolling the dining room, but things were running quite smoothly without their presence.

If you talk to the area coach/general manager/managers/team there again, please pass on our thanks for another great meal that was back to what we would call a normal Bob Evans experience.  I didn’t present my BE gift money until the end of the meal, but it didn’t produce any speed bumps and we still have one left!

Thank you for the gift, and both you & Nate for your time, and sincere follow-up!  (Follow-ups?  Follows-up?)

“Jelly! Jelly! Jelly!” may be a good ad campaign.  “Pizza! Pizza!” worked for Little Caesar’s.

Thanks again,
-Eric

Bob Evans Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Can I have jelly? Can I have jelly? Can I have jelly?


Bob Evans Restaurant on UrbanspoonI submitted this to Bob Evans’ contact form:

Last night we had a ridiculous visit to what is normally a decent restaurant.

We arrived shortly after 5:00pm, were seated quite quickly, and were alone in our section (the farthest away from the entrance).  The waitress came to us right away, seemed a little frazzled, and brought us drinks.  By this time another table had been seated in our section.  Our order was taken, a Rise & Shine breakfast for me, BBQ chicken for the wife.

We had actually just dined at this location on Friday evening and had discussed how despite otherwise excellent service & great food, generally my wife has to ask 3 times for jelly.  The standard procedure is that when we order and she gets biscuits, she asks for jelly.  When the biscuits come, with honey and butter but no jelly… she again asks for jelly.  When the meal comes, it’s the 3rd time that she asks for jelly… and usually we get jelly with the check.  It’s like you have it under lock & key or there’s only 1 magical jelly carrier.  I actually suggested that perhaps it’s like the movie Beetlejuice.  One must say “Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse!” to get the title character to appear.  Perhaps one must break the Bob Evans jelly code and ask for jelly three times at once.

No matter how much I wanted her to, she wouldn’t try it last night.  She asked for jelly just one time, and surprisingly, it came with the biscuits.

At this point, the manager walked by and asked if all was OK.  Truthfully, at this point, it was!  We nodded in satisfaction as we said “yes”.

Eventually, shortly before 6:00pm (yes, an hour later) after several other customers had been seated, had ordered, and been served, our waitress apologized for the wait and offered us more biscuits and a free dessert.  We told her the wait wasn’t her fault as she seemed to indicate it was due to a problem in the kitchen.

About the time where I was ready to get up, pay for our drinks, biscuits, jelly, and then leave to go to the nearby Sonic… our food arrived.  I understand that breakfast foods are greasy but my eggs & home fries were sitting in a pool of some oily or buttery liquid, and one of my over-easy yolks was already broken.  The bacon was fantastic.  The potatoes had so much grease on the outside, that when I dipped them into a pool of delicious Heinz ketchup they came out absolutely clean & ketchup free.  I managed to get the yolk out of one of the eggs with the biscuit that had sat there daring me to eat it for an hour.  I left the second egg and most of my potatoes out of disgust for the food and the service.  It had been a particularly trying couple of days and we chose Bob Evans because of the general consistency of the quality & service.  My wife indicated that other than the chicken being slightly over-done, her meal was excellent.  It’s crazy to believe that Bob Evans (the breakfast-food people) messed up such an incredibly simple breakfast.

Bob Evans

Bob Evans

The waitress had indicated some problems in the kitchen without any specifics, but we could hear arguments in & around the kitchen area for our entire visit.  I have no idea why we didn’t just get up & leave after the first 2 tables seated after us had received their food.  Perhaps we were in awe at the chaos.

I declined my free dessert, and my wife decided to get an apple pie to go just because it had been offered as compensation for our wait.  I was too disheartened for dessert, my friends… free or not.  Our waitress offered to refill my iced tea.  I said “no, thanks.”  She came back 10 minutes later & filled my iced tea anyway.  Still no pie.  I just wanted to go.  I was on the verge of just freaking out at the ridiculousness of it all.  We sat for another few minutes as the waitress took care of others around our section, before standing up to just finally go.  My wife just asked for the check as I was exasperated.  The other customers couldn’t wait for 2 minutes while she put a pie in the to-go container, since we had waited over an hour for a simple simple meal?

The waitress had apparently just placed my wife’s apple pie on a plate as we stood to make our escape… my wife said, “Never mind, we just need to get out of here.”  The waitress insisted on sliding the now decimated piece of pie into the Styrofoam box.  We went to pay, and for the first time ever were not asked something to the effect of “how was everything tonight?”  I believe there was small talk about my wife & I coincidentally wearing the same color green.  I think I remained silent for fear of just snapping.  We left a 15% tip, & took home a comment card.  (As a person with a severe allergy to shellfish, I have a small circle of places where I feel safe…  Bob Evans currently has no deathfish on the menu, so we frequent there and I generally tip 20% or more as I’m confident we’ll be returning soon & often.  I have even received excellent communication from your corporate level regarding food allergies & where things are prepared in the kitchen.)

This rant is obviously too long for a comment card.  I may blog it.  I may just leave it in the contact form at the Bob Evans site.  I may print & mail it.

Something was going on last night at Bob Evans in Bridgeville that was not good.  It was a comedy of errors.  The kitchen apparently had trouble producing eggs & home fries in a timely manner, keeping yolks whole, and draining grease/oil/butter from the fried meal.  The waitress was visibly and audibly frazzled as she complained to the customers that she was excessively busy even as most of the section was empty… at dinner time.  Perhaps she was covering two sections?  I’m not sure.  We saw her quite often… just not with our food.  How many others were seated after us & served before us that we couldn’t see?  We heard her arguing with a mysterious voice yelling out from the kitchen.  The manager did not appear to intervene or even suggest that perhaps they not argue so loudly within earshot of the guests… or even to step in, assert her role as a manager and solve the problem.  There was a waiter who appeared to be training a new waitress, happily ignoring all the chaos around them.

We did, however, receive jelly after asking only once.

[Funny note… upon posting this & grabbing a link to UrbanSpoon, I saw an old somewhat bad review that I posted… but we’ve had perfectly reasonable service there since that visit in ’08.]

New AllergyEats App


So, I’ve blogged about Allergy Eats many times before.  You know I think it’s an awesome resource, but can only be useful if users rate restaurants.  Now, it’s easier than ever to do… with new iPhone and Android apps!

AllergyEats Apps!

AllergyEats Apps!

AllergyEats T-shirt

AllergyEats.com

You can read the word from Allergy Eats about the release here or get the app you need here.

Paul from AllergyEats is good people, he recently donated to FAAN for my Food Allergy Walk in Pittsburgh!

I encourage you to spread the word to anyone that you know with food allergies, so we can all take advantage of the awesome ever-expanding database now available anywhere that you can get cell phone service!

http://twitter.com/#!/AllergyEats/status/108896162949496832

http://twitter.com/#!/allergicgirl/status/108895739429658624