Sunday, May 20, 2012

Good Friends Hard to Find; Harder to Lose

I am deeply saddened by the premature passing of my friend, Jim Montgomery, who succumbed to cancer after a hard-fought battle. I remember Jim in many ways, but mostly as a guy to whom no request from a friend was too much. Whenever I asked Jim for anything, he replied, quickly and with certainty, “Not a problem.”

I first met Jim at LG&E where I learned I could depend on him as both a coworker and friend. Need graphic support at work? Have an impossible deadline? Is your butt on the line? Jim could handle it. Not a problem. 

While at LG&E, I once told Jim I was decorating my basement with University of Louisville memorabilia. Jim was coaching U of L’s club ice hockey team at the time. He surprised me with a puck and jersey. I thanked him. Not a problem. 

I lost that job, but I never lost track of Jim. He continued to support me through the years just as he had at LG&E, listening to me vent and even providing a little freelance work through his own company when I needed it. Not a problem. 

When I wanted to get my resume online to boost a job search, Jim not only told me how to do it, but even hosted it on his servers. Not a problem. 

Hell, if I wanted a beer and a chat, a partner for a backyard Oaks party or someone to argue with. Jim was always game. Not a problem. 

Friends like that are hard to find. Losing him will most definitely be a problem. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Chips off the Old Block

I have talked before about my secret superpower of being able to look at someone’s face and immediately identify their identical twin. Sure, it won’t get you in the Avengers, but it’s fun nevertheless. For example, try this one on for size: professional poker brat Phil Hellmuth, below left, and blind Chinese civil rights activist Chen Guangcheng, below right. Given their claims to fame, something tells me you wouldn’t want to try to bluff either one of these guys.

Phil Hellmuth

Chen Guangcheng

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Lang Lets Guitar Do His Talking

Johnny Lang -- so close we could see him sweat
When an amp briefly malfunctioned at his concert at Horseshoe Casino in Elizabeth, Ind., last weekend, bluesman Johnny Lang lamented the fact that he’d have to talk a bit, which he said isn’t his strong suit. True to his word, Lang doesn’t play to the audience like Buddy Guy does. He doesn’t scream out your hometown. Heck, he rarely even opens his eyes. But that’s OK because Lang lets his guitar do his talking for him.

Lang rollicked through some of his most well-known tunes, including “Rack’em Up” and “Red Light.” He also covered the great Muddy Waters. Even the lesser known tunes delighted with pure, unbridled energy, thanks to a talented band.

At times, the event seemed more like an old-fashioned revival than a concert. If that were the case, then the most spiritual moment occurred when Lang appeared on stage alone and played a heartfelt version of his biggest hit, “Lie to Me,” on acoustic guitar. Once Lang had seemingly finished, the band rejoined him and they romped through it once more. This time it was fully powered and plugged, providing a nice contrast.

I’ve now seen Lang twice. In that time, he has grown from the warm-up act to the featured performer. No one works harder. He seemingly agonizes through every guitar lick and high note, sweating through his t-shirt as he goes. (Trust me, we were close enough to see every bead, thanks to winning a Facebook contest).

And if a few words remained unspoken, no one seemed to mind.