Friday, December 14, 2007

New Giveaway!

The folks at PickPackGo have started a new give-away promotion!

This month, you can enter to win a Sony portable DVD player!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

It's a nice player, and I know this for a fact, because I won one just like it in a give-away a few months ago! Find them here to enter!

While you are there, have a look around... If you are serious about vacationing (and who isn't?), you might be inspired!


Monday, December 10, 2007

CD Review: Hymns, Carols, & Songs About Snow

Over the next few weeks, I'll be telling you a bit about my favorite Christmas music. Why? Because your Gunfighting pal Loooves Christmas music.

Here's a little story for you... it takes place in a sleepy little town...

Time: The week before Christmas, 1991

Place: 19th & L Streets, NW, Washington, DC

Dramatis Personae: The man later to be known as Gunfighter

It was cold. It was early Friday evening, and it was starting to snow.

I was leaving the Bally’s Health Club (that had several years before, been the “Abbey Road” nightclub) and heading for the Farragut West Metro station. I had had a great workout, and was looking forward to my weekend… holed up in my wee humble bachelor apartment. I had a few extra dollars in my pocket that weren’t dedicated to keeping the place warm or lit, or to keeping me fed, so I decided to stop into the Sam Goody’s music shop to see if there wasn’t something new to listen too.

As I entered, I headed straight for the Christmas music. I really love the Christmas season, and to tell you the truth, I was feeling more than just a little lonely. I was just recently divorced, and my ex-wife was taking our daughter to visit with her family over the holiday, and the woman that I was seeing was out of town for some reason that escapes me now. Hearing cheerful Christmas music that would probably be good for me.

As I browsed, I became aware of this really great instrumental music playing in the background. It was all guitar, and all-Christmas… but the two went together better than I could have imagined. As I browsed some more, I decided that the music that I was listening to was the music that I wanted to buy, so I asked the clerk what we were listening to. He showed me the cd, which is the one that you see here: Hymns, Carols, and Songs About Snow, by Tuck Andress.

“Tuck Andress?” I thought to myself, “I’ve never heard of him”. I bought the cd anyway. Transaction made, I went back out into the snow with a song in my heart, in a much better mood than I had been in.

I remember my metro ride, that evening, with unusual clarity… I felt like I had a secret. A pleasant secret all my own, and it was right there in my gym bag. You should have seen the suburbanite commuters! Scared to death by the large, young, black man who smiled at them when meeting their eyes! Even then I was used to the fact that most white people in the city were terrified of me (or what they think I represent), but it was actually funny to watch them squirm on this particular night.

I exited the Metro at Eastern market, and made my way through the whitening streets of Capitol Hill. Past the Post Office, the bakery, Hine jr. High School, and the Natatorium. I walked past that really great liquor sore whose name escapes me now (Haydens?), and went on to my apartment at 6th & A streets, S.E. Once inside, I took a shower, changed and made myself a wonderful dinner of frozen flounder fillets (I ate a lot of frozen fish, canned tuna and/or Ramen noodles in those days… I was broke… but in GREAT shape). I spent a very pleasant evening, listening to this cd… I think I might have listend to it three times through. It was a great night for me, and for all of it’s mundanity, it is a favorite Christmastime memories.

Even now, in 2007, when I am not so broke, and not in such great shape, and looking middle age square in the eye, I still love this cd. Listening to it reminds me of a pleasant moment during a not-so-pleasant time in my life.

If you like listening to Christmas music, and are not afraid of trying something a little different, try this… you’ll love it.

CD Review - Frosty The Bluesman - Michael Powers

Before I begin to talk about Michael Powers’ great recording, let me tell you all that most of the great discoveries that have been made in Castle Gunfighter, have been made by the Lady of The Manor, and not by my humble self. Mrs Gunfighter has this uncanny ability to see a CD and know if it will be good. This CD is another example of this ability.

Released in 1996, Frosty The Bluesman is destined to be one of the secret greats of Christmas music done in the blues tradition. This isn’t hyperbole… I challenge you to listen to Power’s arrangement of Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer (with the vocals of Priestly Thompson) and then listen to it with the same ears ever again.

Although you may have never heard of Michael Powers (I had never heard of him when Mrs. GF brought this CD home a few years ago), you will immediately recognize the talent of this musician/arranger/producer. None of this music is canned or “phoned in”

In addition to the brilliant arrangement of “Rudolph”, other standouts on this cd are: “God Rest Ye Funky Gentlemen”, “Salsa Claus Is Coming To Town“, “The Christmas Song“, “Frosty The Bluesman”, “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”, and the really great final song; "The New Years Eve Gig (Auld Lang Syne)”

Sure, you have heard all of these songs before… every one of them, but you’ve never heard them like this.

This CD is in our top tier of Christmas music, and is a reliable stand out for listening to over a glass of something good, or with your children when you are playing on the floor.

It’s that good.