B-I-G kudos to Jerry’s Automotive & Towing (Olympia, WA)

One of the first things that most attracted me to Jerry’s Automotive & Towing (Olympia, WA) was their advertisement of “full service”, and their absolute willingness to make the term actually MEAN something!  It’s not just that they pump your gas for you, wash your windshields & check your oil (if you ask them to), they are, in a certain sense, a “throwback” to an era I was part of… I used to work at the pumps, changed a few tires and was there to watch as the “machines” came in & sorta’ “took over the business”.  Well, with these folks, you get both the high-tech capability and professional manner, but also a sense that you “belong” there!

I’ve been using their excellent services for a good year or two now, and there are several reasons:

Towing service – they offer full-service & highly qualified towing that is unparalleled in this town!

Full pump service – as mentioned above, when you pull up to a pump, you can expect quick and professional service to get you right back on the road again!

Highly-qualified mechanics – I trust both the top & bottom end work on my 1966 GTO to their lead mechanic, and that’s something that doesn’t often happen

If you’re looking for a place you can trust to get the job done, & done well, you need look no further.  The best example of their mechanical ability and professional manner is setting the timing on that GTO… I’d already been to a couple of other places, and thought I had it pretty well set, but when the condenser blew in my distributor, I asked Rob (the mechanic) if he could take a look at the timing, since he was going to have to replace the points anyway.  Within one short afternoon, he called me back & said the timing was set, & the car was ready to pick up… I can’t tell you just how overjoyed I was when I got behind the wheel & torqued that goat a bit to test out the timing…. the guy NAILED it!  Prices are (extremely) reasonable, and they will work closely with you to make sure you get just what you want (& need)…  I’m giving them my MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, and suggest that you may want to check them out the next time you’re in need of a tow, a repair, or just a good old friendly fill-up!  Again, KUDOS to y’all at Jerry’s Automotive & Towing.  (be sure & tell them you read about them here, too, ‘k?).

Bill Wren – Road To Chiang Mai (special review by Zzaj)

Bill Wren – Road To Chiang Mai:  This is Bill’s third release, & I’ve reviewed each one with increasing anticipation for the next.  After some personal tragedies hit him hard, he wound up (as artist-types often do) re-thinking where he was at & what he was doing!  After re-marrying around 2012 (I believe), he went on a honeymoon trip to various places ’round the Pacific, and a part of that was an extended trip to Thailand.  As I listen to compositions like the beautiful “Harmonia“, it’s very easy for me to picture some of the lush scenery in Thailand, and it brings back memories for me of long motorcycle treks through the entire northern part of the country (some simple, but lush, vocals are absolutely grand).  What most sets Bill’s work apart from other composers is his innate ability to use the sonic to enhance the listener’s images of what Bill was seeing when this music was first conceived.  From a personal perspective, Bill said he felt that the 2:59 “Ebb and Flow” came close to signifying his personal transitions during the difficult times after his first wife’s passage, and as you listen to it, you’ll hear (in most intimate detail) the sadness/joy/emotion he was feeling when the piece was realized… I just loved the keyboard and harp/string interplay on this piece.  Of course, he wasn’t alone in putting this marvelous music together, either… his musical partner Frank Ralls (who has been with him on each of his three releases) produced this one & so had a great amount of influence on the finished album.  The title track, Bill’s composition of “Road To Chiang Mai“, is both powerful and subtle at the same time (something I experienced a great deal when I lived in Thailand)… strong influence of the Orient shines through (I can easily visualize those elephant trains carrying the opium south to Bangkok as I listen to this – whoops – that’s another story, lol).


One of the things that was most impressive for me during my own travels between Pattya Beach, Korat and all the towns in between was the friendly spirit of the people in the country, and my personal favorite song of the thirteen offered up for your aural pleasure captured that friendliness in a most amazing way – “Enchanted Kingdom” will lift you out of whatever “bad place” you may be (or have been) in, and make you realize with full-string orchestral airiness and abounding POWER that a life well-lived, especially through the times of darkness, is truly what you’ve always been after.  Bill, Frank and the whole crew of players who did the music (Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Mandolin, Banjo: Micah Gilliam; Electric Guitar: Judson Crane; Bass Guitar: John Gibson; Live Strings: String Mob LA; Penny Whistle: Jim Farrelly; Drums, Piano, & Orchestral Programming: Frank Ralls; Voice: Aubrey Logan, Ben Bram, Tim Davis; Violin Solo: Ann Marie Calhoun; Cello Solos: Ben Lash, Judy Kang, & Nick Curry) turn in a performance that you won’t soon forget!  I’m more than “just impressed” with the music created here, and give it a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of a (perfect) 5.00 – meaning that it also gets the “PICK” for “best and most inspiring orchestral work”.  Get more information at Bill’s website.       Rotcod Zzaj 


Arun Shenoy “A Stagey Bank Affair” (special review by Zzaj)

Arun Shenoy & The Groove Project – A STAGEY BANK AFFAIR:  It’s been a while since I wrote my first review of Arun’s splendid instrumental works (issue # 131), and I’m even more enchanted on this new release than I was on that first album.  One part of this new release that got me excited immediately is the new video that accompanies it for the title track, “A Stagey Bank Affair”… (watch below):

As you’ll see (& hear), this short clip does a far better job of explaining the “spirit” of circus & merriment that Arun & The Groove Project evoke with their high-energy/high-talent compositions than mere “words” can express… this goes far, FAR beyond the “contemporary instrumental” framework noted in the promo sheets… this is full-blown fun, and certainly will merit new consideration by the Grammy Awards (the album I reviewed earlier was nominated for the 55th awards) (& remember to pass on to your friends that you heard it FIRST right here – this one will not only be nominated, but will WIN).  Arun’s stellar guitar work is complemented by one heckuvva cast of players… Ravichandra Kulur Flute; Jeff Coff and Nick Stefanacci on Saxophone; Jonathan Anand Wesley, Ed Roth and Dave Gross doing Keyboards; Felipe Praino, Jim Kimo West and Owen Gurry on Guitar; Ian Cameron Violin; Duke Purisima Bass; Jerry Chua Drums; and Don Hart providing Orchestration.  As you listen to tunes like “Speedway Rush“, featuring some astounding flute work from Ravichandra, and some wonderful orchestration, you’ll realize right away how powerful this musical extravaganza is!  The high-energy vibe and total beauty created on the 4:10 “Mary Go Around“, will make you fall in love with it right away – I particularly loved the keyboard/flute duos on this tune.   For some strange reason, the emotion-laden violin on “Sad Clown” evoked aural images of the Beatles “Fool On The Hill” (not quite sure why).

Of the ten excellent tracks offered up for your merriment & aural enjoyment, it is the the 4:57 “Hot Head Balloon” that got my vote for personal favorite… it most clearly illustrated (for this reviewer, anyway) what they were trying to do for the listening & viewing audience… bring to life the carnival/circus that life can (and should) be every day… in other words, Arun knows just how to use his music to inspire joy and fun!  If we had more music like this rolling round the globe, no one would be interested in thoughts of war and mayhem running so rampant today.  I give Arun and the Groove Project players a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for this totally absorbing musical adventure.  “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is a 4.99.  Get full information on the project, the players and Arun at his page for this fantastic album.         Rotcod Zzaj