Saturday, February 28, 2015


     Brrrr. When Mrs. Black-N-Gold awoke from her nice, warm and cozy bed this morning, it was a freezing 6 degrees outside. It was so cold outside, it could stop time. Thank goodness this is the final day of February as Mrs. Black-N-Gold surely has the "Cold Weather Blues" to quote the great Muddy Waters.

     As long as there has been blues music, there have been songs about the weather and the winter is certainly no exception. Many musicians would use the chilly temperatures as a metaphor for their relationships with their significant other.

     In 1935, Blind Willie McTell released "Cold Winter Day", telling his woman "you need me on a cold winter day". Well that is definitely true in these conditions, when the barometer dips below freezing and you need someone to hold you close and keep you warm.

     Sonny Boy Williamson wasn't so lucky. In his song "Nine Below Zero" he sang "that woman wait till it got nine below zero and put me down for another man". Boy, that woman sure was cold-blooded. She must have had ice water in her veins to give old Sonny Boy the deep freeze like that.

     Muddy Waters wasn't finished with the winter weather when he wrote "Cold Weather Blues", oh no. See, Muddy migrated from the Delta and moved up north to the Windy City of Chicago, a town known for its blistery winter weather. That's why Muddy sang "it's so cold up north that a bird can hardly fly. Now you know I'm goin' back down south, let this winter pass me by" in "Cold Up North". Was he actually singing about the freezing cold temperatures or was his lady giving him the cold shoulder? Maybe, both.

     And we mustn't forget Stevie Ray Vaughan's hit "Couldn't Stand the Weather". Stevie says "all these years that you and I've spent together. All this, we just couldn't stand the weather". Sounds like SRV's relationship could use a log on the fire.

     So yes, relationships are conducive to the weather. But fear not, spring is just around the corner and with it warmer weather to heat things up. Until next time, boys and girls. Keep It Bluesy!

Friday, February 27, 2015


     Now that baseball is meaningful in the Pittsburgh area again, Mrs. Black-N-Gold spends hours upon hours reading, watching and listening to the latest news from around the diamond in hopes of soaking up as much info as she can about our Pittsburgh Pirates. In the early stages of spring training, when there isn't much major news to report, the MLB network, the beat writers and the sports talk show hosts like to get a little chatter going by creating lists. There's always "The Greatest Player in History" discussion. And there is "The Face of the Franchise" conversation. Another big one is "The Mount Rushmore of MLB".

     Lately, there has been a dialogue regarding the "Best Outfield in Baseball". Some people feel it is the Miami Marlins, led by MVP RF Giancarlo Stanton. Others are more defensive-minded and choose the speedsters of the AL Champion Kansas City Royals. And there are those that go more for star power such as the outfield that the San Diego Padres amassed this offseason or the Los Angeles Dodgers outfield that features Cuban phenom Yasiel Puig.

     True, Mrs. Black-N-Gold looks through the sports world in her black-n-gold-tinted glasses. Call me a bit biased but I feel the Pittsburgh Pirates outfield has the potential to be The Best Outfield in Baseball.

     You have CF Andrew McCutchen as the anchor. At 28 years of age, Cutch is the elder statesman of the group. He is also the de-facto leader of the Outfield of Dreams. And he has the resume to back it up. Cutch has won the NL MVP and finished in the top 3 in voting 3 times. He is also a 4 time All-Star, a Gold Glove winner and a 3 time Silver Slugger. He carriers with him a career .299 batting average with 128 home runs, 462 RBIs and 143 steals. He can hit, field, and run, the total 5-tool package.

     LF Starling Marte doesn't have the kind of hardware that Cutch does. Yet. He did finish as a finalist for a Gold Glove last season. He got off to a slow start last year but had a strong second half, good enough to finish with a .291 batting average, 13 homers, 56 RBIs and 30 steals. He is expected to put it all together this season and finally keep the Marte Partay going all year.

     RF Gregory Polanco just got a small taste of the Bigs last season. El Coffee set a new Pirates record by hitting in his first 9 games straight to start his career in Black-N-Gold. He did cool off considerably, getting sent back to Indy for a spell. This season, RF is his job to lose. Polanco is willing to work to show he belongs. He took the season off from winter ball. He spent the offseason working out with Marte in the Dominican Repulic, gaining 12-15 pounds of muscle in the process to alleviate the wear and tear of the 162-game grind.

     This outfield has it all: Speed to cover the spacious outfield of PNC Park and to burn up the basepaths, a couple of cannons on the corners in the form of Marte and Polanco to gun down runners, and great eyes to make contact and ignite the Buccos offense.

     Is this The Best Outfield in Baseball? If you're not convinced that they are you sure will be by the end of the season. The Outfield of Dreams will certainly be a nightmare for opponents this year. Let's Go Bucs!!!!!

Thursday, February 26, 2015


     Chew tobacco, chew tobacco, spit, spit, spit! The NFL recently held their scouting combine in Indianapolis. Your Pittsburgh Steelers as well as every other team in the league, had representatives their to assess and analyze the latest round of the Underwear Olympics.

      Mrs. Black-N-Gold would not be disappointed if the Steelers used all of this year's draft picks on defense, because their needs on that side of the ball are plentiful. She recently read an article that discussed "if" they want to draft a cornerback, there are many options to be had. What do you mean "if"? True, the Steelers are resigned to stick with the much-maligned Cortez Allen, he of the recent big contract extension. They also seem likely to go with veteran William Gay on the opposite side. Antwon Blake filled in admirably last season but can he continue to do so if he gets the call? Considering the Steelers surrendered 27 passes or 40 yards or longer the past 2 season, I'd say they definitely need to draft a corner.

     Of course, safety is a position of need, as well. Will this be the year that Shamarko Thomas shows why the Steelers traded up to draft him? Like CB Allen, the Steelers forged a financial commitment to Mike Mitchell and have to cross their fingers and hope he works out. There's no one else the Steelers can hang their hat on at safety. Better take a long hard look at that position in the draft, too.

     The linebacker position is another big question mark. More so at outside linebacker. On one side they have the oft-injured, inexperienced former first-round pick, Jarvis Jones. Jason Worilds would be on the other side if the Steelers 1)tag him again or 2)sign to a long-team deal. Neither choice regarding Worlids is very prudent for the Steelers. He has been inconsistent and injured throughout his career. Sounds like another position they need to fill in the draft.

     Inside linebacker isn't quite as bad as outside. At least they return Pro Bowler Lawrence Timmons. LT has the distinction of being Head Coach Mike Tomlin's first pick. He's one of the few that has panned out for the Steelers on defense. Who will play inside with LT? Ryan Shazier was drafted in the first round to do so last season but could not stay out of the trainer's room. Vince Williams and Sean Spence filled in capably. Actually, Mrs. Black-N-Gold likes Williams. Spence was on his way to looking like a keeper until he shredded his knee early in his career. He's been battling to get back onto the field ever since. Still, there's more depth at this position than most.

     The defensive line will be anchored by rising star Cam Heyward. The Steelers will try to mix and match until they find the right combos to fit with Cam. Stephon Tuitt showed flashes in his rookie season of last year and will need to fill a bigger role this season. Depth on the line would not be a bad thing.

     Mrs. Black-N-Gold read a mock draft prediction that has the Steelers taking a defensive end to fill the role of outside linebacker in the first round. This is nothing new as the Steelers have done this repeatedly through the years. But as more and more teams employ the 3-4 defense that the Steelers do, finding players to play that position becomes more difficult. Also, typically, it's a project-type player that they draft. The Steelers have too many needs on defense to afford themselves a project pick.

     There is also the question of the Steelers "Final Four" on defense. You know who I mean, DE Brett Keisel, OLB James Harrison, S Troy Polamalu and CB Ike Taylor. Keisel and Harrison played brilliantly at times last season. Unfortunately, Da Beard's season ended on injured reserve with a torn triceps. This is the same injury that ended Aaron Smith's career a few years ago. Harrison recently announced his intention to play another season. Whether or not that is in Pittsburgh, remains to be seen. No one has heard what Troy and Ike intend to do. Mrs. Black-N-Gold loves all 4 of these players as much as the next Black-N-Gold bleeding, towel-waving, Iron City-swilling fan. However, do us all a favor and move on. There is a reason the youngsters aren't up to par yet and it's because they've been stuck behind these graybeards on the depth chart for far too long. Let them follow Coach LeBeau to Tennessee if they must. It's time to cut the chord.

     Except for a few minor tweaks to the offense, that side of the ball is set. And in conclusion let me just say, Put the D back in the defense. Let's Go Steelers!!!!!!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


     Call Arnold Slick from Turtle Crick and tell him it's a great day for hockey! Your Pittsburgh Penguins take their show on the road to the nation's capital as they faceoff  for Rivalry Wednesday against their division rivals, the Washington Craps. These are your keys for tonight's game. 1)This is a huge division matchup for the Pens. They haven't beaten Washington yet this season and have only scored 1 goal in the process. The Pens need to set the tempo and dictate the pace of this game. Score early, score often, score BIG with lots o' Goals, Goals, Goals! . 2)The Pens are coming off a big weekend of 2 straight wins. They also are 1 point ahead of the Craps for 3rd place in the Metropolitan division. If it's 3, it's for me! 3)The Pens need to knock Craps jagoff Alex Ovechkin off his game. We really haven't had a guy get under an opponent's skin since D Robert Bortuzzo got suspended for knocking out Jaromir Jagr way back at the beginning of the season. Ovechkin is a real jagoff who needs knocked down a peg or two. Take him to the woodshed! Let's Go Pens!!!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


     Another legendary artist will make his way to the Pittsburgh area soon as Leon Russell is scheduled to appear at Jergel's Rhythm Grille in Warrendale on Wednesday, March 25 at 8pm.

     Born on April 2, 1942 in Lawton, OK, young Leon took up the piano at age 4. He began performing at the tender age of 14 in the Tulsa area with the Starlighters. That group also included JJ Cale and helped forge the "Tulsa Sound".

     Ultimately, Leon moved to Los Angeles to find work as a session musician. Once in LA, Leon began studying guitar with Elvis Presley's guitarist, James Burton. In the late '60s, Leon added arranger and songwriter to his growing and impressive resume.

     As a sideman and as a solo act, Leon crossed over into many genres such as the blues, rock & roll, gospel and rockabilly. Along the way he played with such diverse acts as The Beach Boys, George Harrison, BB King, Frank Sinatra and countless others. In 1969, Joe Cocker turned Leon's "Delta Lady" into a hit from his "Joe Cocker" album. Leon co-produced and arranged the album that would reach #11 on Billboard's Hot 200. He also helped organize and performed on Cocker's "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" tour.

     In 1970, Shelter Records released Leon's self-titled solo album. It featured one of his most covered songs "A Song for You". Leon worked with Bob Dylan in 1971, playing piano on the single "Watching the River Flow" and "When I Paint My Masterpiece". Leon appeared at the "Concert for Bangladesh" in the summer of '71. 1972 saw Leon tour in support of his second solo album "Leon Russell and the Shelter People". The tour was one of the biggest grossing tours of the year. His 1972 hit single "Tight Rope" featured the B-side "This Masquerade". George Benson's version hit #10 on Billboard's Hot 100, earning Leon a Grammy nomination for "Song of the Year" in 1977.

     Leon's 2010 collaboration with Elton John and Bernie Taupin produced the double album "The Union" featuring both Leon and John. Rolling Stone considered the album 3rd best of the "30 Best Albums of 2010". It also resulted in a Leon/John tour. In 2011, Leon was honored with induction into both the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriter's Hall of Fame. April, 2014 saw the release of Leon's latest effort, "Life Journey" .

     Come and take a journey with Leon at Jergel's on March 25.  It will be a trip you won't soon forget. Until next time, boys and girls. Keep It Bluesy!

Monday, February 23, 2015


     "He shoots and scores!" That cry rang out quite a bit this weekend for your Pittsburgh Penguins as they won back-to-back games. They blasted the Blues 4-2 on Saturday night and pounded the Panthers last night 5-1. That is a welcome relief for Mrs. Black-N-Gold. With the putrid play of the Pens of late, she thought she was going to have to take her favorite hockey team to task for their lackadaisical play of the past three months.

     Thank goodness Coach Mike Johnston decided to shuffle the lines a little. And let us not forget the continued Vezina-like season of G Marc-Andre Fleury. Even when the Penguins faltered, MAF continued to stand on his head and display why he is, without a doubt, the Pens MVP this season.

     Were we all pushing the panic button too soon? Was it just a case of the Pens needing to get healthy and get used to each other again? I don't know about you, but Mrs. Black-N-Gold was beginning to think, to quote the great Yogi Berra that it was "getting late early" for our Pens.

      Not only did the Pens defeat a Stanley Cup contender in St. Louie and a team battling for their playoff lives in FLA, they managed to do so as they received contributions on the power play. The power play was a part of the team that was sorely lacking "power" for most of the month of February. And their two biggest stars, C Sidney Crosby and C Evgeni Malkin may have finally found their mojo. Sid and Geno both chipped in 1 assist each on Saturday. On Sunday, Geno had 2 goals and 1 assist while Sid had 2 assists.

      But, hold your horses. Don't go ordering tickets to the Stanley Cup finals, just yet. Have the Pens finally figured out what the funk ails them? Maybe. Maybe not. A better test will come on Wednesday when they travel to DC to faceoff against the Craps. The Craps who embarrassed the Pens at home last week. The Craps who have only allowed the Pens to score on them once this season in 3 meetings. The Craps, a tough division opponent who is jockeying for playoff position with our Pens. The Pens have only 7 wins against divisional foes this season. It's time to correct that in a big way. Starting Wednesday. Let's Go Pens!!!


Sunday, February 22, 2015


     Great balls of fire, it's a hockey night Pittsburgh! Your Pittsburgh Penguins faceoff against the FLA Panthers tonight at Consol Energy Center. These are your keys for tonight's game. 1)The Pens look to build off of last night's 4-2 win over the Blues. The Panthers are coming off a 4-1 loss at Ottawa yesterday. Kick 'em while they're down! 2)The Pens have been mired in a funk,  of late. However, they've defeated FLA in 9 of their last 10 on home ice. There's no place like home! 3)The Pens are expected to start Marc-Andre Fleury in goal tonight. In his last 7 starts at home vs. FLA, Flower is 6-1-0 with a 1.93 GAA. The Panthers expect to start backup G Al Montoya. He has lost 4 out of 5 against the Pens and carries a 4.37 GAA. Score early, score often, score BIG with lots o' Goals, Goals, Goals! Let's Go Pens!!!


Saturday, February 21, 2015


     Donna needs a donut and your Pittsburgh Penguins need a win. It's a great day for hockey! The Pens take their show on the road tonight as they battle the Blues in St. Louie. These are your keys for tonight's game. 1)The Pens need to find some power for their power play as they're 0 for their last 20. The Blues are middle-of-the pack in the league on the penalty kill, 17th at 81.0%. Man-up! 2)The Pens need to find their offense and their mojo, too. They're only averaged 1.9 goals in their last 9 games. Break out the Motley Crue for some Goals, Goals, Goals! 3)The Blues are sitting pretty for a playoff run. They're second in the Western Conference Central Division at 38-16-4, 80 points. Their home mark is 22-6-2. The Pens are in a tailspin, losing 3 in a row. They've fallen to 4th in the Eastern Conference Metropolitan Division at 32-17-9, 73 points. Find the win column! Let's Go Pens!!!

Friday, February 20, 2015


     Well, it won't be long until your Pittsburgh Pirates return to PNC Park to begin another exciting season of baseball. With the new year comes anticipation of what the season will bring. Mrs. Black-N-Gold is hoping it will bring a division title and trip to the World Series, at least. What Mrs. Black-N-Gold also is wishing for is a new Pirates theme song. She feel it's time to retire the Buzz Poets' "A New Pirate Generation". For one thing, it's not so new. It's been around quite a while. For another it sounds extremely generic and reminds Mrs. Black-N-Gold of a commercial. That's probably because the Bucs use it in all their commercials, as well.

      Actually, Mrs. Black-N-Gold has been kicking the tires on this idea since the end of last season. She read an article ranking MLB's victory songs. Surprisingly, "A New Pirate Generation" ranked as high as #18. Now don't get me wrong. Mrs. Black-N-Gold always root, root, roots for the home team and she always supports live local music which the Buzz Poets are. I've never had the pleasure of catching their act but this song certainly doesn't entice me to do so.

     What the Pirates need is a song that will 1)inspire fans to cheer on the Buccos and/or 2)instill some home town pride in the fans in the stands. The former would be the feeling you get that fires you up when an AC/DC-type rocker comes on the radio. The latter is what you comes over you when you hear the Clarks or Donnie Iris playing. "A New Pirate Generation" doesn't cut it.

     I also recently read an article during last season's playoffs that encouraged the teams still in the postseason to invite local talent that have gone on to greater heights to sing their hometown team's national anthem. If we put that in the same context as the victory song, there are some good options available.

     No, I don't mean "Genie In A Bottle" by Christina Aguilera. I don't even mean "Lightning Strikes" by Lou Christie (that one is a bit dated, although I like it). I personally like the tried-and-true "Beat 'Em Bucs" by the Benny Benack Band from the championship season of 1960. Thing is, I'm sure that one would go over like a lead ballon with the younger crowd.  How about "Love Is Like A Rock" by Donnie Iris? I really like the Clarks' "Cigarette" because of it's opening guitar chords but the politically-correct police wouldn't allow it. Of course there is the Wiz Khalika anthem "Black & Yellow". Sure it's really Black-N-Gold but it's a hit song from this century by a local guy who's gone on to international fame. I also dig the tune by Gene The Werewolf "I Only Want To Rock & Roll". I know hardly anyone outside of Pittsburgh has heard of them but it is a rocking good tune. And that's what people want to hear after a Pirates win, as they're raising the Jolly Roger. Not some bland song that they always hear on the Pirates commercials.

     Got any good suggestions? I'm all ears. Who knows, a new song may help lead the way to a Pirates World Series this year. Let's Go Bucs!!!!!

Thursday, February 19, 2015


     Shave my face with a rusty razor, it's a hockey night in Pittsburgh! Your Pittsburgh Penguins faceoff against the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight at Consol Energy Center. These are your keys for tonight's game. 1)The Pens need to pick up a divisional win as they've only won 7 games this season versus division rivals. Now would be a good time to find the win column against 25-27-3 Columbus. Sink Columbus! 2)The Pens anemic offense has dropped them to 12th in the league in goals per game, averaging 2.8. The Blues Jackets are #26 in the NHL in goals against, giving up an average of 3.1 per game. Beat the Blue Jackets black & blue with Goals, Goals, Goals! 3)The Pens are currently 6th overall in goals against, giving up 2.4 per game. Columbus averages 2.6 goals per game, 21st in the league. Stand tall and stop the Jagoffs! Let's Go Pens!!!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


     In 1975, NBC launched the ground breaking show "Saturday Night Live". It combined the elements of comedy and music into a 90 minute show that was "Live from New York". The show helped launch the careers of the members of the cast, the "Not Ready For Prime-Time Players". In 1976, two members of the original cast, John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, developed a sketch that featured the characters of "Joliet" Jake and Elwood, the Blues Brothers. Their first appearance on SNL was January 17, 1976. Jake (Belushi) was the lead singer and Elwood (Aykroyd) the harmonica player/background vocalist.

     Originally the band was called "The Blues Brothers' Show Band And Revue". The Blues Brothers were backed by some of the best musicians in the business including members of SNL's  band as well as the famed Stax Records house band. No slouches here. On April 22, 1978 the band made their first appearance on SNL as the musical guest. Their final "Saturday Night Live" appearance was November 18, 1978. Although, Belushi and Aykroyd left SNL in 1979 to pursue film careers, they were not ready to leave behind Jake and Elwood.

     Belushi and Aykroyd bonded over blues when SNL cast members would unwind at Aykroyd's blues club "Holland Tunnel Blues" after tapings. Ironically, even though Belushi was born and raised in Chicago it was Aykroyd that introduced Belushi to the wonderful world of blues as they would play favorites on the jukebox and jam with musicians at the bar. A love of soul and blues blossomed into the Blues Brothers act as the duo donned sunglasses, black suits and skinny ties. Belushi's love of the blues intensified when he met singer/harmonica player Curtis Salgado on location while filming "Animal House". Growing up in Canada, Aykroyd was indoctrinated into the blues at an early age at a local club that featured many of the top blues acts of the day.

     In 1978, pianist Paul Shaffer helped them enlist some of the best musicians around to form the backing band. The result was the Blues Brothers debut album, "Briefcase Full Of Blues", released November 27, 1978. It skyrocketed to #1 on Billboard's Hot 200 and went double platinum. The album was all covers of some of their favorite tunes. It was an opportunity for Belushi and Aykroyd to pay homage to the blues and soul artists that they loved. The disc also spawned 2 hit singles. "Rubber Biscuit" peaked at #37 and "Soul Man" reached #14.

     Ultimately, a tour and the Blues Brothers movie followed. The movie featured more of the Blues Brothers idols such as Cab Calloway, Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin. It was another way for Belushi and Aykroyd to keep the blues alive.

     Sadly, Joliet Jake is no more as Belushi OD'd March 5, 1982. But his memory still leaves on with his brother Elwood as Aykroyd has teamed up with James Belushi and John Goodman, among others, to continue to preach the gospel of the blues. After all, they are still "On a mission from God". Until next time, boys and girls. Keep It Bluesy!


Tuesday, February 17, 2015


     Scratch my back with a hacksaw, it's a hockey night in Pittsburgh! Your Pittsburgh Penguins faceoff against the Washington Craps tonight at Consol Energy Center. These are your keys for tonight's game. 1)This is a big game as both teams jockey for position in the Eastern Conference Metropolitan Division. The Isles lead the division with 75 points. The Pens are hot on their trail at 73 points. The Rangers are 3rd at 71 points, followed by the Craps with 70 points. A win here could help give the Pens the shot in the arm they need against division rivals. Beat the crap out of the Craps! 2)The Pens may see life from their power play after falling to 8th overall at 20.7%. The Craps are 18th on the penalty kill at 80.7% Man-up! 3)The Pens have slid down to 12th in the league in goals per game with a 2.8 average. Fire up the Crue for some Goals, Goals, Goals, baby! Let's Go Pens!!!

Monday, February 16, 2015


     This week the Westminster Kennel Club holds their annual Dog Show at Madison Square Garden. In honor of the occasion, Mrs. Black-N-Gold celebrates the foot-stompin', good-time music of the late great Hound Dog Taylor and The Houserockers.

     Theodore Roosevelt Taylor was born in Natchez, MS on April 12, 1915. In his younger days, Hound Dog played piano, not taking up the guitar until he was 20. In 1942 he moved to the blues capital of the north, Chicago, IL.

      He didn't become a full-time musician until 1957. Even then, Hound Dog was not well known outside of Chicago where he played in the clubs and bars of the black neighborhoods and at the famous Maxwell Street Market with his band The HouseRockers. His slide guitar work was influenced by Elmore James. Word spread around the Windy City of the six-fingered guitar player as he was born with six digits on his left hand.

      In the late 1960s, Hound Dog traveled to Europe to perform at the American Folk Blues Festival. He returned to the Chicago area and continued to entertain Chicagoans with his band mates Brewer Phillips on guitar and Ted Harvey on drums. A fellow named Bruce Iglauer was so impressed with the raucous blues of Hound Dog and the HouseRockers that in 1970 he started his own label, Alligator Records, so he could record the group. The debut album "Hound Dog Taylor and the HouseRockers" was released in 1971. Iglauer managed and booked the band nationwide, appearing with such luminaries as Big Mama Thornton and Muddy Waters. The band were the featured performers for several years at the Ann Arbor Blues Festival and were garnering accolades from several different publications.

     The band had a loyal following in the Boston area, where Hound Dog influenced a young George Thorogood. Several years later, George would give a shoutout to Hound Dog on his "Live" album.

     Hound Dog released his second Alligator album, "Natural Boogie" in 1973, continuing to build a strong following across the country. "Beware Of The Dog" was a live album recorded in 1974. Hound Dog passed away from lung cancer at age 60 on December 17, 1975.  The live album was released shortly thereafter and earned a Grammy nomination.

      In 1984, the Blues Hall Of Fame honored Hound Dog by inducting him posthumously. The Blues Foundation named his debut album the Classics Of Blues Recording Award in 1996. Alligator released "Hound Dog Taylor-A Tribute" honoring the man who helped put their label on the blues map, in 1998. Artists who contributed to the album included Elvin Bishop, Lil' Ed and The Blues Imperials, and Ronnie Earl.

      Today, Hound Dog's "genuine houserockin' music" continues to leave it's imprint all over the Alligator label as well as all over blues music in general. Anywhere there's a foot-stompin', house rockin' good time, you can be sure that Hound Dog Taylor helped get those tails waggin'. Until next time, boys and girls. Keep It Bluesy!

Saturday, February 14, 2015


     Buy same a drink and get his dog one too. It's a great day for hockey! Your Pittsburgh Penguins take their show on the road to Chicago as they faceoff against the Blackhawks this afternoon. These are your keys for today's game. 1)Since C Evegni Malkin has returned to the lineup from a lower body injury, the Pens have gone 4-1-0. Go, Go, Geno! 2)Marc-Andre Fleury is the likely starter in goal for the Pens. MAF has given up just 1 goal in his last 3 starts. His last 2 road games were shutouts. Flower Power! 3)The Pens power play has fallen to 8th in the league at 20.9%. They haven't scored on the PP in their last 6 games. Chicago's penalty kill is tops in the NHL at 87.8%. The Blackhawks have given up just 1 PP goal in their last 7 games. Man-up with loads of Goals, Goals, Goals! Let's Go Pens!!!


     Happy Valentine's Day from Mrs. Black-N-Gold. Have you been hit by Cupid's arrow or do you have the Valentine Blues? Many years ago, the great Eric Clapton had the blues over unrequited love. It was one of music's most famous love triangles and produced one of the greatest albums of all time, Derek & the Dominos "Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs".

      George Harrison met his future bride, Pattie Boyd at the height of Beatlemania, during the filming of "A Hard Day's Night". Their's was a whirlwind romance, the lovable moptop and the blond beauty who was a sometime model and was on set as an extra in the movie. The couple became engaged on Christmas, 1965 and married January 21, 1966. Throughout their marriage they tried to weather the strain of affairs and fame, eventually divorcing in 1977.

      In the late 1960s Eric Clapton befriended George Harrison. They became guitar brothers in arms, best friends. Clapton also fell in love with his best friend's wife. Unable to win Pattie's heart at the time, Clapton tried to escape the inescapable be using herion, shutting himself off from most of the outside world for three years. Clapton was able to pull himself together long enough to record this magnum opus, pouring all his love for Pattie and the pain of her marriage to George into this powerful masterpiece.

     Derek and the Dominos consisted of Clapton on lead vocals and guitar, keyboardist Bobby Whitlock, Carl Radle on bass, drummer Jim Gordon and guest guitarist Duane Allman from the Allman Brothers. Clapton choose the name Derek and the Dominos for the band as he wanted a form of anonymity, going so far as to omit the band's name from the album cover. This was a stark contrast to the "Clapton Is God" and super-group days of Cream and Blind Faith. Clapton had previously worked with Whitlock, Radle and Gordon while they all performed in Delaney & Bonnie & Friends. Ironically, George Harrison is rumored to have been at the band's first recording session. Allman shared his lead guitar and slide guitar talents for 11 of the 16 songs on the album.

     The album cover featured a reproduction of the painting "La Fille au Bouquet" by Emile Theodore Frandsen de Schomberg. It is said that Clapton saw a likeness between the painting and Pattie Boyd. The album was released on the Atco/Polydor label in November, 1970.

      The opening track on this double-album tour de force is the Clapton/Whitlock easy-listening "I Looked Away". Clapton sings of the sin of loving another man's woman but that he'd keep on sinning. Track #2 digs deeper with "Bell Bottom Blues". You can hear the pain in his guitar playing and the anguish in his voice when he sings "Do you want to see me crawl across the floor for you. Do you want to hear me beg you to take me back". Clapton indeed has the blues as he sings "If I could choose a place to die, it would be in your arms". This one is a Mrs. Black-N-Gold favorite. "Keep On Growing" picks up the pace. This is another Clapton/Whitlock composition. In this one Clapton is "praying Lord that she could understand me". Next is a cover of the Jimmy Cox tune "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out". This is a depression-era song about going broke. Clapton's turn makes it more of a song about losing love then about losing money. The Clapton/Allman guitars on this song cut you to the bone. On "I Am Yours" Clapton just continues to repeat the first verse over and over. In it he says "I am yours, however distant you may be". That says it all. "Anyday" is another Clapton/Whitlock collaboration. Clapton continues to profess his love to Pattie, "Anyday, anyday, I will see you smile". The final cut on the first disc is "Key To They Highway" a blues standard made famous by Big Bill Broonzy. This song shows the power of the two-headed guitar monster that was Clapton/Allman.

     The second disc opens with "Tell The Truth", another song by Clapton/Whitlock. They perform a call-and-response type of vocal by trading verses back and forth. There was an earlier version of this song recorded and released that featured Dave Mason of Traffic as second lead guitar. Clapton had the record company pull the single from release. The more well-known version is the one featuring Allman that made it onto the album's release. Next up is "Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad", another favorite of Mrs. Black-N-Gold. Tears well in her eyes every time she hears the line "You know I can't go on living without you". And, oh those guitars will break your heart even as Duane plays a lick of "Joy To The World" towards the end. Next is the slow blues burner "Have You Ever Loved A Woman" by Billy Myles. Clapton pours his heart out in this one, you can feel how heavy his heart is. On this song Clapton sings of loving a woman who belongs to his "very best friend". A searing version of Jimi Hendrix's "Little Wing" follows, as do more tears. One of the very best covers of this song you'll ever hear. "It's Too Late" follows, with a it's country-flavored blues. Clapton cries out "It's too late, she's gone". "Layla", Clapton's ode to Pattie is the most famous off all the songs on this double disc, garnering Clapton many awards through the years. The song was also inspired by "The Story Of Layla And Majnun" by poet Nizami Ganjavi. The beautiful piano coda at the end was written by drummer Jim Gordon. This beautiful, heart wrenching album closes with the haunting "Thorn Tree In The Garden". A fitting end to one of the most heartbreaking love triangles in music.

     This double album has it all: blues, killer guitar work, lyrics that will rip out your heart and vocals that will tear you apart. Until next time, boys and girls. Happy Valentine's Day. Keep It Bluesy!

Friday, February 13, 2015


    The trucks are loaded and rolling towards Bradenton, FL as your Pittsburgh Pirates pitchers and catchers report on Wednesday. Mrs. Black-N-Gold doesn't care what the groundhog said, spring is just around the corner. Today she gets you ready with a look inside the Bucs bullpen.

     Much of the bullpen is pretty well set. Returning relievers RH Jared Hughes (1.96 ERA, 1.09 WHIP), LH Tony Watson (1.63 ERA, 1.02 WHIP) and RH Mark Melancon (1.90 ERA, 0.87 WHIP) all posted ERAs under 2. Mark the Shark converted 33 of 37 save opportunities, too as he and Watson earned All-Star nods. New to the bullpen will be LH Antonio Bastardo by way of Philly. Bastardo brings with him a 5-7 record with a 3.97 ERA from last season. However, he did fan 81 batters in 64 innings.

     The remaining 1 or 2 spots in the bullpen will be up for grabs with some intriguing competition. RH John Holdzkom looks to show that his rise from minor league oblivion to MLB was no fluke. The 6' 7" righthander is looking to build off of the 9 innings pitched in which he struck out 14 opponents for a .133 BA. RH Radhames Liz is said to have electric stuff. He looks to stick with the big league club after bouncing around the Majors, the minors and the KBO the last few years. He is expected to be another Pirates reclaimation project as the Bucs pitching gurus hope to harness his big arm and turn into into another weapon out of the 'pen. LH Bobby LaFromboise is another pitcher hoping to build off of last season's opportunity in Pittsburgh. The problem is the Pirates aren't expected to carry more than two lefties in the bullpen.

      The Bucs also need an arm out of the 'pen that can give them a spot start or go long relief. Candidates for that role are RHs Stolmy Pimentel, Casey Sadler and Brandon Cumpton. None have really been impressive in this role for the Buccos. Mrs. Black-N-Gold did appreciate Cumpton's efforts in a starting role for the Pirates the past few seasons.

      The back end of the bullpen looks strong, the Pirates just need to plug a few leaks and the Shark Tank can perform swimmingly again, as the Pirates sail to the NL Central Division title and the World Series. Let's Go Bucs!!!!!


Thursday, February 12, 2015


     Make me a milkshake, Malkin, 'cause it's a great day for hockey! Your Pittsburgh Penguins finish up back-to-back games tonight as they take their show on the road to Ottawa to faceoff against the Senators. These are your keys for tonight's game. 1)The Pens are coming off a big win last night over Detroit, 4-1. The Sens picked up a win Tuesday over Buffalo, 2-1. Score early, score often, score BIG! 2)The Pens won 3 of their last 4 games. Veto the Sens with Goals, Goals, Goals! 3)In their last 7 outings vs Ottawa, the Pens are 5-1-1. Keep it in the win column, baby! Let's Go Pens!!!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


     Let's go hunt moose on a Harley 'cause it's a hockey night in Pittsburgh! Your Pittsburgh Penguins return to the home ice of Consol Energy Center tonight as they faceoff for Rivalry Wednesday against the Detroit Red Wings. These are your keys for tonight's game. 1)The Red Wings, 31-12-9 and 71 points are fairly evenly matched with the Pens, 30-15-8, 68 points. They're so evenly matched that the 2 teams have split the last 8 games in the series. Detroit is 14-8-3 on the road while the Pens are 17-8-3 on home ice. There's no place like home! 2)Pens G Marc-Andre Fleury is on a tear. He recorded shutouts in his last 2 starts. Shut down Motown! 3)Detroit has won 3 straight. #4 would not be great. Fire up the Crue and the Goals, Goals, Goals, baby!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015


     Batter up! Ok, we may not be hearing that call from the umpires just yet but spring is around the corner as pitchers and catchers for your Pittsburgh Pirates report to Bradenton, FL next Wednesday, February 18. While the starting lineup looks pretty well set, there are some questions regarding the pitchers, both starters and relievers. Today, Mrs. Black-N-Gold goes inside the Pirates dugout to take a look at the starting pitchers.

Starting rotation

1)LH Francisco Liriano. No doubt about it, the Bucs brought Frankie back to be their #1 guy. He needs to rebound from last season's injury bug and prove that the Pirates didn't make a mistake when they signed him to the biggest free agent contract in their history.

2)RH Gerrit Cole. The Pirates are still waiting for the Cole Train to assume the #1 starter role. Cole is another pitcher that suffered some injuries last season. He'll look to comeback in a big way if he steps up and shows why he was chosen #1 overall in the 2011 amateur draft.

3)RH AJ Burnett. AJ is another pitcher looking to stay healthy. Although he missed no time last season while in Philly, he did pitch with a hernia for most of the season. The injury and the fact that Philly was one of the worst teams in MLB could be contributing factors to why AJ led the majors in losses. AJ is looking for one more season in the sun and wanted to come back to Pittsburgh. Hopefully the return is beneficial for both parties.

4)RH Vance Worley. Worley was another one of the Bucco's famed reclamation projects last season. He's looking to prove that it was no fluke. Vance needs to be the Vanimal from start to finish.

5)LH Jeff Locke/RH Charlie Morton. The lefty Locke is expected to hold down the fort until Morton his healthy enough to return to the rotation. Ground Chuck has been quoted as saying he can be ready for Opening Day. If so, Locke could be another lefthander out of the bullpen and work long relief/spot duty for Clint Hurdle.

There are definitely some intriguing options waiting in the wings should anyone get injured or falter. RHs Brandon Cumpton, Casey Sadler and Stolmy Pimentel all have picked up some innings with the Bucs. RH Jameson Taillon is looking to pick up where he left off prior to Tommy John surgery early last season. RH Nick Kingham is also expected to make a push for the big league rotation some time this season.

It looks like the Pirates have a wealth of starting pitching options. That is never a bad problem to have, especially if the injury bug is floating around the clubhouse like last season. There are certainly many question marks but also many pitchers to help plug the holes. If the pitching staff can remain healthy and in good form, this could be one of the strongest rotations in the majors. Can't wait for word out of Bradenton to see how it shapes up. Let's Go Bucs!!!!!

Monday, February 9, 2015


      Since the mid-1970s Pittsburgh has been home to one of the most renowned soul singers in the world, the fabulous Billy Price. The Billy Price Band will be bringing Billy's wonderful "blue-eyed soul" to the Jozart Center for the Arts in California, PA on Saturday, March 14. It will be a great opportunity for fans both young and old to enjoy the soulful sounds of Billy and his fantastic band.

       Born William Pollak in Fair Lawn, NJ on November 10, 1949, Billy has made a name for himself both locally and internationally. Billy has played pubs and bars and concert halls and festivals both near and far, extending over to Europe and back again. Billy first came to prominence with his associations with the late Roy Buchanan, the Nighthawks and Otis Clay. Billy Price and the Keystone Rhythm Band were Pittsburgh legends. They became a much-talked, in-demand act across the country, touring and recording together from 1977-1990.

     Along the way, Billy drew praise from Living Blues Magazine, the Washington Post and, of course, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Billy continues to record and tour with the Billy Price Band. His live show still gets audiences out of their seats, dancing in the aisles to old chestnuts such as "Can I Change My Mind" and "El Dorado CafĂ©". His latest effort, 2013's "Strong" keeps 'em coming back for more.

      His show on March 14 starts at 8pm. Get there early as you'll not want to miss a single note. Billy Price truly is a legendary performer in every sense of the word and his band backs it up. Until next time, boys and girls. Keep It Bluesy!


Sunday, February 8, 2015


     Tonight the recording industry honors their own as the 57th Grammy Awards ceremony takes center stage. Fans of the blues won't have much to cheer about. The great Buddy Guy was honored last evening with a Lifetime Achievement Award, along with George Harrison and the Bee Gees. Unfortunately, that ceremony is not scheduled to air tonight.

     However, the Grammys will give a nod to the blues by presenting the Grammy for "Best Blues Album". As they say on the broadcast, "The nominees are...."

1)Common Ground-Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin Play & Sing The Songs Of Big Bill Broonzy-Dave & Phil Alvin
     The Alvins team-up for the first time in 30 plus years to celebrate the music of the late, great Big Bill Broonzy. This does not disappoint. The Alvins put their stamp on Big Bill's music with their rockabilly, country-blues flair.

2)Promise Of A Brand New Day-Ruthie Foster
    Ruthie Foster presents a folky/inspirational kind of blues. This album is filled with optimistic sounding blues, like chicken soup for the soul, with an uplifting vibe.

3)Juke Joint Chapel-Charlie Musselwhite
     If you like your blues heavy on the harp, this CD will blow your mind.

4)Decisions-Bobby Rush with Blinddog Smokin'
     This is a first-time team-up that feels like Bobby Rush and Blinddog Smokin' have been collaborating for years. It's a funky kind of down-home blues that makes you move.

5)Step Back-Johnny Winter
     Johnny Winter's final album is a tour de force that takes your breath away. Featuring some of the biggest and brightest names in the blues, Johnny re-works classic blues and leaves his fingerprints all over the place.

Blues fans will certainly want to see their favorites honored this evening. They'll just have to suck it up and get through the Beyonces and Iggy Azaleas of the world first. Until next time, boys and girls. Keep It Bluesy!

Saturday, February 7, 2015


     Get in the fastlane grandma, the bingo game is ready to roll 'cause it's a great day for hockey! Your Pittsburgh Penguins wrap up their road trip through western Canada tonight as they faceoff against the Vancouver Canuckleheads. These are your keys for tonight's game. 1)The Pens have not been scored upon on this road trip, thanks to back-to-back shutouts by G Marc-Andre Fleury. With last night's 4-0 win over Calagary, the Flower set a new team mark with his 8th shutout of the season, tops in the NHL. Congrats to Flower. This helped the Pens win 2 straight. #3 would be great! 2)During last night's win, C Sidney Crosby started to emerge from his slump, notching 2 goals and an assist. Slap me silly, Sidney! 3)Vancouver tries to recover from Thursday night's 5-1 loss to the Sharks. Crack the Canuckleheads with Goals, Goals, Goals! Let's Go Pens!!!

Friday, February 6, 2015


     Donna needs a donut 'cause it's a great day for hockey! Your Pittsburgh Penguins continue their trek through Canada tonight as they faceoff against the Calgary Flames. These are your keys for tonight's game. 1)The Pens look to build off of Wednesday night's 2-0 win over Edmonton. C Evegeni Malkin scored a goal in his return to action. LW David Perron continued his torrid pace, scoring his 7th goal in 13 games with the Pens. G Marc-Andre Fleury notched his league-leading 7th shutout. Keep up the pace. Get fired up for the Flames! 2)The Flames are coming off a Wednesday win, too, defeating San Jose 3-1. They're 8-2-0 in their last 10 and have won 3 straight. #4 would not be great! 3)The Pens power play has fallen to 7th in the NHL at a 22.2% clip. They need to take advantage of the man-advantage against Calgary. The Flames are 25th in penalty kill at 77.9%. Power up the power play with Goals, Goals, Goals! Let's Go Pens!!!

Thursday, February 5, 2015


    Western Pennsylvania-area fans of smooth, blue-eyed soul and hoppin' blues harmonica are in for a treat this month. You have two chances to catch the Memphis Grease Tour featuring John Nemeth and the Bo-Keys. The tour stops at Moondog's in Blawnox, PA on Friday, February 20 and the River City Ale House in Wheeling, WV on Tuesday, February 24.

     John Nemeth, world-renowned soul singer, songwriter and blues harmonica player, was born during the country's bicentennial, 1976 in Idaho. Growing up in Boise doesn't give one much opportunity to grace audiences with soul and blues but John made the most of it. He started off playing church functions and it blossomed into the local music scene of area pubs and other establishments.

     Eventually, John took his show on the road to Oakland, CA. While there he caught on with Blind Pig Records. He was given opportunities to play with musicians such as Anson Funderburgh, Junior Watson and Elvin Bishop. He also caught on with acts such as Robert Cray and Keb' Mo', joining them on various tours.

     John has released 7 albums since 2002. His solo debut was 2004's "Come And Get It". In 2006 he signed with Blind Pig. Funderburgh produced his 2007 CD "Magic Touch". His 2009 disc "Love Me Tonight" climbed as high as #6 on Billboard's Top Blues Album Chart. The follow-up, 2010's "Name The Day" matched the chart success of the previous release. 2014 saw the soulful bluesman win the award for "Soul Blues Male Artist of the Year" at the Blues Music Awards.

     John now makes his home in the blues capital of the world, Memphis, TN. That is where he hooked up with his most excellent band, the Bo-Keys. John continues to tour the world, pouring his soul into his singing and paying homage to his harp heroes, Little Walter and Sonny Boy Williamson, every chance he gets. Don't you miss out on you chance to see "Memphis Grease" in all its glory. Until next time, boys and girls. Keep It Bluesy!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015


     Eddie Spaghetti, it's a great day for hockey! Your Pittsburgh Penguins take their show on the road to the Great White North as they faceoff tonight against the Edmonton Oilers. These are your keys for tonight's game. 1)Hope springs eternal for the Pens as a change of scenery may do them good, especially against the Oilers who are 14-28-9 with 37 points. Feast on the bottom-feeders! 2)Edmonton is coming off a 5-4 shootout victory over San Jose on Monday. They are 5-5-0 in their last 10 and 9-15-2 at home. The Pens are reeling from a 4-0 thumping by Nashville on Sunday. Some good news: they are 11-6-5 on the road. Road warriors! 3)Edmonton may be the cure for the Pens offensive woes. The Oilers are 28th in the league in goals against at 3.3. Goals, Goals, Goals, baby! Let's Go Pens!!!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015


     On April 18, 2015 The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame will induct this year's class into their hallowed halls. The Paul Butterfield Blues Band will be included in that ceremony for their long-overdue honor.

     Paul Butterfield was born in the heart of the blues, Chicago, IL on December 17, 1942. Trained as a classical flutist, Paul soon found his passion in blues harmonica. Frequenting the blues scene of his native Chicago, Paul jammed with the likes of Muddy Waters, garnering encouragement to continue keeping the blues alive with his exhilarating harp playing.

     Paul began performing with Elvin Bishop and Nick Gravenites. The Paul Butterfield Blues Band was formed in 1963. Consisting of Paul on harp and vocals, Mike Bloomfield and Elvin Bishop on guitar, Mark Naftalin on organ and drummer Sam Lay and bassist Jerome Arnold from Howlin' Wolf's band. Performing at both Fillmores, Monterey Pop and Woodstock, the band brought Chicago blues to the psychedelic generation. \

     Their self-titled debut for Elektra Records, released in 1965, featured many blues favorites that highlighted Paul's dynamic harmonica as well as the dual onslaught of Bloomfield/Bishop. Songs such as "Born In Chicago", "Blues With A Feeling" and "Shake Your Moneymaker" introduced the blues to the hippy contingent. The band also made an appearance at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965. Bloomfield, Arnold & Lay helped Bob Dylan go electric for the first time at this historic festival.

     Their follow-up album, 1966's "East-West" was recorded at Chess Studios in Chicago. It climbed as high as #65 on the Billboard pop charts. It continued to introduce the world to their fusion of blues, jazz and psychedelia.

     Eventually, Lay left the group due to illness and was replaced by Billy Davenport. Bloomfield ultimately left to form "Electric Flag". The lineup continued to change as 1967 saw the release of
"The Resurrection Of Pigboy Crabshaw". This was their highest charting album, peaking at #52.

     As the lineup changes continued, the band became more of a horn-driven & jazz based, big-band kind of sound. Their final album was the soul-influenced "Sometimes I Just Feel Like Smilin'", recorded in 1971. In 1972 Elektra released the retrospective "Golden Butter: The Best Of The Paul Butterfield Blues Band".

     Following the dissolution of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Paul formed "Paul Butterfield's Better Days". Unfortunately, they were not, failing to achieve the commercial and critical success of his previous band. Better Days final album, "Live At Winterland Ballroom" was recorded in 1973.

     Paul continued to perform both as a solo artist and a sideman. He played with Muddy Waters on Muddy's final Chess release. He appeared with The Band at their "Last Waltz" concert. He toured and recorded with former Band members following that appearance.

     Paul passed away on May 4, 1987, from an accidental overdose in North Hollywood, CA. Bloomfield had proceeded him, also passing in California from an OD back in 1981. They were two stars that burned out much too soon. But for one brief moment they were the blues' brightest young stars. Until next time, boys and girls. Keep It Bluesy!

Monday, February 2, 2015


     Yesterday, your Pittsburgh Penguins suffered another punishing loss. This one came at the hands of the Nashville Predators on the Pens home ice, 4-0. Where, oh where, have the wins gone for the Boys of Winter? The Pens inability to find the net and to keep opponents out of the net has wreaked havoc on this team for quite sometime now. Not just this season under first-year head coach Mike Johnston, either.

     No, this malady has been plaguing the Pens for the past several seasons.  The Pens have been in meltdown-mode ever since they won their last Stanley Cup. From flameouts in the playoffs, to early exits and injuries, all have been blamed for the Pens playoff woes.

     Maybe, just maybe, it's time to start blaming the players. Holding them accountable for their actions or lack-thereof. There's no denying that another injury-shortened season to LW Pascal Dupuis has been a major blow to this team. As is the season-ending injury to young D Olli Maatta. And then there was Mumps-gate. It seems like the mumps epidemic has sapped the Pens of their mojo.

     Great teams don't look for excuses. They use them as a motivational tool. True, the Pens say all the right things off the ice. They just don't do the right things on the ice. It's time for this team to walk the walk as well as talk the talk. Stop looking so lethargic as the losses continue to loom large. You've got to be able to play big in big games against big opponents instead of laying a big egg.

     It seems like Mrs. Black-N-Gold had to make a similar speech regarding the Pens porous play just last week. Apparently they weren't listening. If they have another early exit from the playoffs or fail to make the postseason at all, they'll have plenty of time to listen to the pundits pontificate about their latest postseason plunder. Time to get your acts together and get in the win column! Let's Go Pens!!!

Sunday, February 1, 2015


     Hallelujiah Hollywood, it's a great day for hockey! Your Pittsburgh Penguins hit the home ice of Consol Energy Center this afternoon as they faceoff against the Nashville Predators. These are your keys for today's game. 1)The Pens have beaten Nasvhille 5 straight. #6 would be great! 2)Nashville is coming off a 3-0 shutout at Colorado on Friday night. Meanwhile, the Pens look to stay in the win column following Friday night's 2-1 OT win in New Jersey. Score early, score often, score BIG with plenty o' Goals, Goals, Goals! 3)The Pens have not won back-to-back games since January 10 and 13. We're due. Keep stacking wins! Let's Go Pens!!!