Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wolf Hunt Controversy

Despite criticism from both sides of the debate, the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board recently unanimously approved a gray wolf hunt.

The harvest limit was set at 201 animals, nearly a quarter of the state's population. Hunters and farmers seeking relief from wolf attacks on their livestock argued at the that the number was too low, pointing out the DNR has estimated as many as 880 wolves may roam the state, far exceeding the department's goal of 350.

According to the DNR, there were 162 wolf packs active in Wisconsin in 2010, including 23 in Central Wisconsin and 139 in Northern Wisconsin. A pack consists of at least two adult wolves, and at least 47 of the packs had five or more wolves.

Those are just some of the facts I just read out of the Shawano Leader. Here's what I kno
w already... Wolves are the largest wild member of the canine family. They are highly sociable and live in packs up to six to ten animals, led by a dominating alpha male and female. The dominant pair is a charge of the pack, raising the young, capturing food and maintaining territory.

A wolf pack's territory may cover up 20 to 120 square miles. That is a lot of ground to cover! A fact that does invite conflict with wolves biggest enemy, humans. Remember this, wolves by nature are shy and timid around people and are rarely seen.

A glimpse of Wisconsin's history with wolves may offer insight on the strug
gles between man and wolf, according to the DNR... Before Wisconsin was settled in the 1830's, wolves lived throughout the state with a estimated population of 3,000 to 5,000 of these creatures. Explorers, trappers and settlers transformed the native Wisconsin habitat into farmlands, hunted the bison and elk to extirpation, and reduced deer populations. As their prey species dwindled, wolves began to feed on easier to find prey-livestock. This did not go too well with the farmers, whom put pressure the Wisconsin Legislature to put a bounty on the wolves. By 1960, wolves were declared extirpated from the state.

A similar story occurred among the lower 48 states with the exception
of Minnesota, which claimed to have 350 to 500 wolves in their state. In 1974, the federal government recognized the dire need of the wolves by placing them under the protection of Endangered Species Act, making it unlawful to kill the wolves. About this time frame, some wolves from Minnesota reentered Wisconsin and established home in the northwest corner.

In 1979, the DNR began an extensive recovery program for the wolves by the intense monitoring of these creatures. Attempts to capture, attach radio collars and radio-track wolf movement throughout the state. Part of recovery program was not only to educate, provide legal and habitat protection and provide compensation for problem wolves, but to set a goal to reach 350 wolves in the state for reclassification to a threatened species. This goal was reached in 2004. As of
now, there are about 880 of them.

As their numbers increased, so did the the conflict between man and wolf. In 2012 so far, there has been eight confirmed cases of wolf depredation in the state, six of them to livestock and other two to hound dogs. So far the state has paid out $214,794 this year in compensation for the losses. (Some of them may be fraud). This raises a concern to farmers and dog owners. A concern that may be well valid.

The hunting season will begin Oct. 15. Permit sales will begin Aug. 1, with an application of $10. License fees are $100 for residents, $500 for nonresidents.

This whole thing raises some thoughts out of me. 880 wolves doesn't seem too big of a number to me compared to about 1.16 million deer and about 40,000 bear in Wisconsin. Are the farmers using wolves as scapegoats? True, wolves are carnivorous creatures that have attacked livestock. Yet, the bear population has exploded in the the northern regions of Wisconsin in an alarming rate, creating a nuisance out themselves. And yes, they are being hunted. Are the bear responsible some of the attacks? At an 880 wolf count is a wolf harvest really necessary? I understand the farmers' plight, for they do have a right to their investments. Is $719 for a lost cow or $1500 for a lost hound enough compensation? Would getting rid the wolves solve the problem?

I'm not a NRA lover nor a PETA activist. I draw my line the middle somewhere. I don't hunt, yet my father does and I have no real issues those who do. He has taught me t
he integrity of a good hunter, that is take what you need and leave alone the rest. However, I do enjoy spending time the in woods taking wildlife pictures. I dream of the day where I can gaze into a wolf's eyes just before I snap a shot, for I have never seen a wolf in the wild (save for a few tracks). Wolves are an integral part of nature's ecological system. They help keep the deer population under control by feeding on the young, old, sick and the weak. It's the way Mother Nature conducts her business....

What do you think about proposed wolf hunt? What are your thoughts?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Deep Purple Keyboardist Jon Lord Passes Away

"Jon passed from Darkness to Light"

Former keyboardist from the legendary hard rockin' British band, Deep Purple, has passed away at the age of 71. Straddling a Hammond B3 organ, Lord 's powerful, driving tones helped turn Deep Purple and Whitesnake into two of the most popular hard rock acts in the '70's and the '80's.

Pioneering classical-blues fusion into his trademark Hammond/Leslie combo, Lord was a founding member of Deep Purple in 1968. Lord pushed the Hammond-Leslie sound through Marshall amplification , creating a growling, heavy, mechanical sound that gave a rhythmic counterpoint to guitarist Ritchie Blackmore's lead playing. It also allowed Lord to compete with Blackmore as a soloist, with an organ that sounded as heavy as a lead guitar. Here is some of the greatest rock classics like "Smoke on the Water", "Space Truckin'", "Highway Star" and "Child in Time" came from...

Deep Purple dissolved in 1976 and Lord went on to Whitesnake with vocalist David Coverdale. Feeling the pressure of a rather limited role with the band, he left to reform Deep Purple in 1984. The second coming of Deep Purple was successful, resulting a hit album Perfect Strangers and a high grossing reunion tour. Lord stayed there until his retirement in 2002. Since then, Lord has mostly worked on classical rock solo albums.

In 2011, Lord was diagnosed as suffering from pancreatic cancer, a normally swiftly developing and deadly form of cancer. Lord died on 16 July 2012, surrounded by his family at the London Clinic after suffering a pulmonary embolism.

Here is how I remember Jon Lord, back when I saw Deep Purple at Alpine Valley in the summer of '85....

May he rest in peace....

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Cheap Trick and Aerosmith at Summerfest

What a difference a few days can bring....

The heat wave that paralyzed Southeast Wisconsin, baking it like a blazing, superheated oven had moved over to the east. The cool winds over Lake Michigan had brought the much needed relief over the dry and parched landscape. Still no rain, at least not yet....

The standing room only on the shuttle buses were a sign of things to come. With the temperatures down to a more comfortable level in the high 70's, flocks of people migrated towards the Summerfest grounds, packing it like anchovies in a sardine can. It grew even more crowded as the day drifted along... As Tender heart Bear and I, along with some close friends of ours, filtered through the hordes met of with some good friends ours like, Aaron from the band Full Flavor and Dan and his lovely wife Cindy. Conversations were great and the beer flowed freely.

With heat gone, good beer and good friends is was perfect night for some good old fashioned rock and roll....

As the clock struck 8:00 (Or should say 10? It's a joke...) Cheap Trick burst into action, led the quirky guitarist, Rick Nielsen launched the band into their raucous blend of rock and roll. Trademark checkerboard guitars flashed in the spotlights while vocalist Robin Zander, dressed in his customary Dream Police cop outfit, belted out the words to classics like "Clock Strikes Ten" and "ELO Kiddies". The show was on!

After being bombarded by some classic tunes, Cheap Trick, kept rolling along, laying down some more... 12 string bassist Tom Petersson held his ground, thundering the audience with his own tune,"I Know What I Want". Nielsen tossed a KISS record so far in the masses, that it somehow managed to reach the middle of the arena on "Surrender". Zander sang his heart out during the "The Flame". The crowd roared to their feet upon hearing the first notes of "I Want You to Want Me'. Rick's own pride and joy. Daxx Nielsen, filling in on the drums for Ben E. Carlos set the the backbone for the band seamlessly. The biggest highlight of the show was the five necked guitar that Nielsen brought out in the closing number, "Goodnight" . Never have seen one those before....

At this point, Tender Heart Bear and I looked at each other as if to say, this going to be one a hell of a great night....

The setlist

Clock Strikes Ten
ELO Kiddies
California Man
Ain't That a Shame
Sick Man of Europe
Baby Loves to Rock
Need Your Love
I Know What I Want
The Flame
I Want You to Want Me
Dream Police

Aerosmith was the headliners for tonight's show... This is band that just won't quit rockin'! Aerosmith earned their stripes early in their career with their massive success of their phenomenal 1975 release, Toys in the Attic. Wildfire success followed by endless tours, drug and alcohol abuse and the the departure of the original guitarists Joe Perry and Brad Whitford, led to the downfall of this great American band.

Under new management, Aerosmith cleaned up their act and checked into rehab. After signing under a new label, Aerosmth reunited with the original members with a new attitude. Renewed, revived and ready to rock, this Aero Force was set to take on the world. Thanks to the help of MTV for spawning an unbelievable set of hit singles and albums, Steven Tyler and the boys set a course of world domination. A success story that still stands today and unparalleled by any other act ever.

Undaunted by the recent fiascoes surrounding Steven Tyler's employment as an American Idol judge and near break up rumors, these Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees come out to do what they do best....ROCK! Starting with the opening bars from their title track of their fifth album, Draw the Line, Aerosmith proved that they will never be forgotten. Joe Perry blazed his slide up and down his famed glass guitar. The Demon of Screamin' vocalist, Steven Tyler dressed in a black vest, a golden turncoat, jeans and a red bandana twirled his trademark scarf dressed mic stand to the sky as if the lead the band. The Toxic Twins were taking no prisoners!

As Aerosmith was barreling though their 19 song set list, they stuck basically to their golden classics from the '70's with a few great tunes from the 90's for good measure. Guitarist Brad Whitford led the band through a searing replica of "Last Child" from the Rocks album. Joe "F@#king" Perry seared the frets off his guitar on "Boogie Men" while he sang his ass off on "Combination". Tom Hamilton displayed his bass prowess, introducing the band to the legendary classic "Sweet Emotion"; even nudged Perry for a killer song ending guitar solo. Tyler rapped and danced has way through the fan favorite, "Walk this Way". Skin master Joey Kramer even banged his head (literary!) on the drums during his solo.

Their were many highlights in this show. For me, it was the between of the tossing of the colorful lights and the performances of "No More, No More" and "Lord of the Thighs" of the endless sea of cellphone lights of Tyler sat down on the piano to perform "Dream On". Only two songs, "Oh Yeah" and "Legendary Child" from their upcoming release, Music from Another Dimension were played. This is the classic Aerosmith show, the way it's meant to be played...The way I like it!

The setlist:

Draw the Line
Love in an Elevator
Oh Yeah
Livin' on the Edge
S.O.S (Too Bad)
Last Child
Drum Solo
Lord of the Thighs
Boogie Men
What It Takes
No More No More
Legendary Child
Sweet Emotion
Mother Popcorn
Walk This Way

Dream On
Train Kept a' Rollin'

As we were corralled out of the packed Summerfest grounds like herds of cattle through mazes of fences, I couldn't help my smile knowing I had witnessed a great show. Then again, I could tell you about the first time I saw Aerosmith. Seventh row at Alpine Valley... Then again, I could wait till another time....

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Alice Cooper and Iron Maiden at Summerfest

HOT and HUMID....

The words I'd describe the night... The temperatures rose to a sweltering 102 degrees while the moisture in the air made the humidity almost unbearable. I was wondering if we were going to make it. Water...the panacea of the gods, was a necessity. Armed with 24 oz refillable bottles of H2O, Tender Heart Bear and I strolled through the gates of Milwaukee's largest music festival, Summerfest. Slapped with Extreme Heat Warning by the National Weather Service, Summerfest provided the means necessary to find relief from the inferno: misting stations, air conditioned buses parked on the grounds and over staffed medical teams ready for emergencies.

It didn't stop us from having a good time... After we met up with good, close friends of ours, we strolled across the scorching asphalt to the Marcus Amphitheater to see Iron Maiden with special guest Alice Cooper. Surprisingly, it was a little cooler inside than I expected it to be. Thank god, for the gentle breezes off of Lake Michigan for some relief. Every little bit counts...

As the clock struck 7:30, the curtain dropped for the opening act, Alice Cooper. Six musicians burst into action, crowding the stage that was already filled by Iron Maiden's super-sized stage. On stage left was Ryan Roxie and Tommy Henrikson, both on the guitars. Filling the other side was the 27 year old blond guitarist Orianthi from Micheal Jackson's band and bassist Chuck Garric. Filling in the skins for Glen Sobel was Jonathan Mover. Where was Alice Cooper, the Master of Macabre himself? Perched high on the right stage pedestal wearing a mechanical spider arms like contraption belting out the words to "Black Widow". A vision of Dr. Oct from Spiderman came into my mind upon seeing this. The theatrics had begun...

The 64 year old rocker roamed across the stage like a confident and seasoned veteran. His conviction and charisma captured my undivided attention. The band, especially Orianthi (I originally thought that was Alice Cooper's daughter, but it ain't) rocked hard, bringing on the retro feel and bringing me back to the '70's. Well, almost... That odd feeling almost left me when we began to notice two young kids more half our age head banging and singing away to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee. Thinking I knew a quite a bit about Alice Cooper, these kids knew more!

At this point, I was seriously getting into the show. Although crude at times, the macabre theatrics amazed me. Some of them I guessed would happen. After all, THIS is Alice Cooper, the shock rock king. The snakes, top hats, baton twirling, fake blood, the make up, the costumes, a guillotine and what? A 20 foot Frankenstein! And yes, in Alice Cooper's image... Each had its place among his set of classics- "No More Mr. Nice Guy", "Billion Dollar Babies", "I'm Eighteen", "Poison" and "Hey Stoopid". When the confetti fell on "School's Out" the show was over. I was begging for more....

The setlist:

The Black Widow
Brutal Planet
I'm Eighteen
No More Mr. Nice Guy
Hey Stoopid
Guitar Solo
Billion Dollar Babies
Feed My Frankenstein
Wicked Young Man
I Love the Dead
School's Out

Of course, the stars of the night fell upon the British heavy metal act, Iron Maiden. Maiden roared into the scene back in the '80's, mercilessly annihilating every other metal act out there at the time with their progressive rock like guitar structure and their dark storytelling imagery. With singer Bruce Dickinson soaring vocals and of course, their mummified mascot, "Eddie", the band was indestructible. During the mid '90's Dickinson left the fold and Maiden descended into obscurity with a forgettable singer. Twenty years later, Dickinson is back, along with the addition of a third guitarist, Maiden comes back to life again!

Wrapping the spotlight around tunes mostly culled from their 1988 release, Seventh Son of a Seventh Son album, Iron Maiden mainly focused on their earlier work on this tour. Its a wonderful approach, yet it has its flaws. I'll try to explain as I go on....

Bouncing into action, Dickinson takes control of the stage and making it his domain. At the age of 53, his athletic skills are outstanding! He jumps and leaps over stage monitors. He runs around the back stage props like a demon unleashed, jacked up upon adrenaline like a Monster drink junkie. I seriously don't know were his gets his energy from. but it's unbelievable! And that was the beginning of the action...

From the opening bars of the show's first tune, "Moonchild", Steve Harris' rapid fire bass was relentless, thundering the arena into submission. The triple axe threat of the guitar trio, Dave Murray, Adrian Smith and newcomer Janick Gers intertwined and weaved through the endless time progressions, laying down maps of emotions, leaving listeners in awe- especially on the show's haunting centerpiece "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son". Driving a pulsating beat, connecting and combining the elements together, drummer extraordinaire Nicko McBrain lays down a solid foundation for the band to stand on... This is a force to be reckoned with!

While of the six piece band was driving a good show, the stage show itself was worth the price of the tickets. A U-shaped stage was set up to the likeness of the Seventh Son of a Seventh Son album cover along with a pyrotechnic galore and an elaborate set of props to go with it. Sparkling fireworks on the side and flames in the back, who needs the Forth of July fireworks at this point? It's all here! Along with a 20 foot "Eddie" dressed as a buccaneer dueling with the band and a larger than life "Eddie" similar to the Seventh Son album cover creeping up the back stage adorning flames on his head while holding an unborn "Eddie" still in the womb. Sounds strange, but awesome!

Was this my favorite show ever? No. The Rush show I saw two years ago was much better. The seats I were in wasn't the greatest. I couldn't even get a glimpse of Nicko's drum set. Although Maiden did play many classic tunes like "Run to the Hills" and "The Number of the Beast", I would have preferred to hear "Rime of the Ancient Mariner", "Flight of Icarus" and "Hallowed be thy Name" over "Fear of the Dark" or "Afraid to Shoot Strangers" any day. For the die hard Maiden fans this would work, but me....ehh....

The setlist:

Can I Play With Madness?
The Prisoner
2 Minutes to Midnight
Afraid to Shoot Strangers
The Trooper
The Number of the Beast
Phantom of the Opera
Run to the Hills
Wasted Years
Seventh Son of a Seventh Son
The Clairvoyant
Fear of the Dark
Iron Maiden

Aces High
Evil That Men Do
Running Free

As for the heat, we endured....Grinned and bared it... Got relief on the shuttle bus on the way to our car. The temperature read 89 degrees.

This Saturday is Aerosmith with Cheap Trick....