The Charlatans’ Jon Brookes: Tribute to a Fallen Drummer

Posted by Jay
jon brookes, the charlatans, drummer

R.I.P. Jon Brookes, Drummer of The Charlatans UK

The drummer of one of my favorite bands died on August 13, 2013. Many people here in the states are not familiar with The Charlatans UK as they never received as much press and radio airplay as  did their British contemporaries like Oasis and Blur during their 90s heyday.  This is a great shame.  The Charlatans UK have outlasted these two bands and have released 11 proper studio albums.  All of their albums have charted in the Top 40 of the UK Albums Chart, with three of their albums reaching number 1.  In addition they have had 17  Top 30 singles and 4 Top 10 singles in the UK Singles Chart.  They have quite the knack for writing great pop songs rooted in funk, blues, rock, and psychedelia. I like to think of them in the lineage of The Rolling Stones; however, they also have been clearly influenced by other predecessors such as The Stone Roses, New Order, and even Pink Floyd.

Jon Brookes was a great drummer who always provided a solid foundation and interesting rhythmic flourishes to the music of The Charlatans UK since their start in 1989. It’s been cited that he was influenced by the likes of John Bonham and Keith Moon, as well as the sounds of American soul music. Unfortunately while on tour in the states in 2010 he suffered a seizure during a performance and was then diagnosed with a brain tumor. He fought his illness with grace and great strength. He loved playing drums and it wasn’t long before Jon returned to the stage in 2011 and 2012 to perform several more times with the band he helped form.

The band had announced in July 2013 that Jon had undergone another operation in relation to his brain tumor, but that it had gone well and that he would remain in the hospital for further treatment. Unfortunately, it was announced on the morning of August 13th, 2013 that Jon Brookes passed away while in the hospital.

Jon Brookes was 44 years old. It is always sad to hear when someone passes away, but it is shocking and heart breaking to lose someone at such an early age. The Charlatans UK have lost a great drummer and a great friend. My condolences go out to Jon’s family, friends, and loved ones. Rest in peace in rock and roll heaven and thank you for sharing your gift with the rest of us.

During his illness, Jon Brookes became involved with the The Brain Tumour Charity. If you would like to donate to this organization in memory of Jon Brookes, please visit the following link:

In addition, I urge anyone who stumbled upon this post to check out The Charlatans UK; you might like what you hear. They are huge in the UK, but with the exception of some early hits have for some reason flown under the radar here in the states. Here is a link to the bands website:

My New Camera Bag and the Unheard of Customer Service from Case Logic

Posted by Jay

Case Logic SLRC202For a recent trip, I decided to purchase a new camera shoulder bag for my digital SLR. The shoulder bags which I had been using felt a little clunky and I just did not like the mechanics to take the camera in and out of the bag. After looking at plenty of bags, I found the Case Logic SLRC202 to be just what I had been looking for. It was definitely more compact and had just enough room for the accessories I would need, i.e., extra lenses, sd cards, lens cleaner. I especially liked how the top cover actually opens away from you which for me makes it less cumbersome when pulling the camera in and out of its compartment. In addition, this bag employs aCase Logic Hammock Suspension System Case Logic Hammock Suspension System which allows you to place the camera with the lens facing down so the camera is suspended with the lens not actually touching the bottom of the bag. This not only keeps the lens from bouncing against anything when setting the bag down, but also makes it easier to pull the camera out in a ready to shoot position (as opposed to some bags where the camera sits inside the bag with the lens in a horizontal position).

Although everything about the bag was as I had expected, I unfortunately began to have trouble with the bag after just two-three days of actual use. One of the most important features of any camera shoulder bag was beginning to fail. The nylon fabric loop that is stitched to the actual bag which the shoulder strap attaches to was coming undone! On this bag, each loop on either side is attached at two points to create the loop and one side of one of the loops was already about halfway undone. This was unsettling to me since I was already on my trip and still had another week to go; I needed this bag to survive the duration. I managed to pull a MacGyver on my bag by using a metal clip to attach to the strap and one of the holes on the zipper for the side compartment and fortunately this provided enough reinforcement so that the bag survived the rest of my trip.

When I returned home, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to exchange or get a refund from the place of purchase (because of their 30-day return policy). So my only recourse would be to contact the manufacturer and hope that they would not give me a hard time with the warranty process (the item does have a 25 year warranty BTW). To my surprise, when I contacted Case Logic I was immediately put through to an actual live human being who I explained the situation to. The person I spoke with explained to me that they would issue a replacement with absolutely no cost to me and that he would email me a warranty claim form right away. All I had to do was take a couple of photos of the bag’s defective areas with a brief description and it email it back to their claims department. That’s it. The very next morning, there was an email from Case Logic informing me that they had processed my claim and that the replacement item was being prepared for shipment and that I should have it within 5-7 business days. When I replied asking if they could provide me with a tracking number, I received a prompt response which was forwarded to their fulfillment department and just a couple of hours later I received the tracking information. The bag arrived when they promised and now I hope I don’t have any more issues with the replacement (hopefully the original bag was just defective in the way it was stitched). I generally wouldn’t write about such an experience, but I think that a business that stands behind their product and offers such excellent customer service should be commended. Good customer service is unfortunately becoming a thing of the past and despite my initial problems with the product, the way this company handled the situation was a welcomed breath of fresh air.

Dave Matthews Band not playing Seattle…again.

Posted by Jay

The Dave Matthews Band

So I was catching up with a good friend of mine who lives in San Francisco and she tells me that she has tickets for the September Dave Matthews Band concert at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View – just a relatively short 40 mile drive south of the city.  I’m thinking, “hey that’s great, wish they would play a show in Seattle.”

The thing is, Dave Matthews is known to be an on-again, off-again resident of our fine city of Seattle, WA.  However, for some unknown reason he and his band refuse to play anywhere within a forty mile radius of Seattle.  However, if you are willing to drive over the mountains and far away to Eastern, WA – 150 miles to be precise – then you are more likely than not part of The Dave Matthews Band’s faithful who gather at The Gorge Amphitheater on his annual Labor Day weekend series of shows.

I admit I am not a member of The Dave Matthews Band’s faithful followers.  I am more of a casual fan whose first and only time watching the band live was when they were the opening act for the Rolling Stones during the Bigger Bang tour at Qwest Field here in Seattle.  I believe this is the only time they have performed a show in Seattle since I moved here in 2004.  As a musician, I did enjoy this show very much though the sound wasn’t very good.  Apparently, Mick and the boys were not willing to share but just a small portion of their magnificent sound system.  It was evident, however, that this was a group of fine musicians who love to put on a great show.  And as a drummer, I was very impressed with Mr. Carter Beauford.

It’s not like I don’t travel to see some of my favorite bands; however, these shows usually take place in other cities.  In fact going to a rock concert is actually a great excuse to travel and visit nearby cities such as Portland, OR or Vancouver, BC.  We get to spend the day or two soaking up the culture, checking out the local scene, and going to – more often than not – a great show.  Now, I will make the 150 mile drive to The Gorge Amphitheater in Quincy, WA; however, I usually reserve this journey for bands that I absolutely love.

Don’t get me wrong, The Gorge Amphitheater is a a beautiful place to see a show.  The venue sits above the Columbia River and it truly is an experience to watch the sun set behind this natural and breathtaking backdrop.  However, aside from the amphitheater there really isn’t anything else to do in the general vicinity.  Having lunch and going  for a stroll through the charming “Main St.” of Ellensburg, WA is nice, but it’s still a small town located about 40 miles from the venue.  Once on the amphitheater grounds, you can forget about modern plumbing.  There are no modern bathrooms here, just porta potties aka “Honey Buckets.”  Unfortunately, at a venue this large that literally draws thousands of people these “Honey Buckets” are not the most pleasant things to encounter after driving all day to get there.  And again, because of the out of the way location, your only options after the show are to camp out on the adjacent grounds, drive and spend the night in a place like Ellensburg, or drive back to where you came from (which for me would be another 150 miles through the Cascade Mountains back to Seattle).

I just wish that instead of playing exclusively at The Gorge Amphitheater every single year, that The Dave Matthews Band would consider playing somewhere closer to the city (Seattle or Portland).   Not everyone who likes the band has the facility to make the trip to The Gorge; so they are in fact alienating a portion of their fans.  Seattle and Portland have some great venues and I am sure that the band would attract  a broader audience as well.   In fact, I would go out and buy more albums if I knew that I could go see them live more often without having to undertake the journey to Quincy, WA.

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