MARCH 9, 2016   Santa Fe Brewing Company – Nut Brown Ale


     Today, I am drinking and reviewing Santa Fe Brewing Company’s Nut Brown Ale. I sit here sipping and thinking about how long my hair is getting to be. There was a time, when I was a young man, that I had long hair. I had thick, beautiful, flowing locks of silky smooth goodness the color of a golden ocean sunset. My hair was the color of dreams. It made men and women jealous everywhere I went. It affected my relationships. I heard some extremely envious folks even would shave their heads, both men and women, rather than look at inferior hair in the mirror. Herbal Essence wanted to use my hair for a commercial. They were, however, unwilling to break any barriers and feature a man having an orgasm in the shower. They wanted to digitally place my mane onto a woman’s body. I was willing to let them do it, but my hair is loyal and refused to appear on film without me. My hair would never sell out.

Although it broke my heart, one hot summer day I cut my hair, reducing it to one-inch stubble. I had to. I loved my hair and my hair loved me, but I knew the day would come when some crazy obsessive hair-stalker would fall of the edge of sanity and kill us both. Probably with a knife and scissors whilst we slept our beauty sleep. So, to save us both from a young and grisly death, I cut my hair. It has been many years since I’ve flipped the gracious locks, what which could only be have been created by some kind of intelligent creator that went to art school, out of my eyes. As it is now grown over my brow and near my eye sockets, I figure it is time to get my “ears lowered”. I can’t die young; the world can’t revolve without me. But I digress. This is a beer review, after all.

     I’m listening to Corin Raymond’s brand new album Hobo Jungle Fever Dreams as I drink the Nut Brown and, I gotta say, it is one heck of an album. Lovin’ it! Raymond’s lyrics are nearly as beautiful as my hair used to be. (Disclaimer: My hair is still beautiful. We [my hair and I] just don’t flaunt it. It’s relatively short and we wear hats a lot.) He’s a realist with an idealist heart and his timing with the words is startlingly original and comfortably familiar. I saw him play in Kansas City at the Folk Alliance International Conference and he blew me away. One heck of a Canadian songwriter, folks. I highly recommend his new record. Especially the song “Hard On Things”! But I digress. Sorry. This IS a beer review, I promise.

     Oh yeah, I should probably mention that I brought home a CD from Kansas City that another Canadian, Rueben DeGroot gave me. It’s a live recording of his band Rocket Surgery and I have been listening to it quite a bit. He’s got a really relaxed lyrical style that doesn’t take itself too seriously but retains a solid, solid message. The band jams, too! The arrangements are pleasingly loose (though tightly executed) and just plain fun. I got to hang out with Rueben a bit and he’s a great person as well as a great musician. You should check his stuff out.

     Wow. The last track from Hobo Jungle Fever Dreams is now playing as I write this (and drink the aforementioned beer) and, man, oh, man is it good. Fuckin’ masterpiece. What a great album!

     Speaking of masterpieces, I listened to Tulsa’s own Grazzhopper this morning, too. Cody Brewer is the mastermind there and his new record is amazing as well. I expect most of the people reading this already know that, but if you haven’t heard it, google it and buy it. Now.

     Hey, did ya’ll know that I am a fish monger? I got a job at a fish market here in Tulsa last summer and I like it, though it is incredibly dangerous. Red Snapper, a.k.a. The Fish of the Devil, a.k.a. The Fire that Burns Underwater, a.k.a. The Red Fish of Death, have terribly sharp spiny points all along their fins that are poison-tipped and often impale the most skilled of mongers. My manager, Andy, is missing a pinky because a few years ago, he pricked the tip of it while filleting a Snapper and, luckily, the assistant manager was close by and hacked Andy’s pinky off with a fish cleaver before the poison could travel up to the rest of his body. Don’t take your local fish mongers for granted. They stare death in the eye all day long so you can enjoy the benefits of a healthy seafood diet. Omega-3’s ain’t free, folks.

     Also, don’t go into a fish market and cheekily exclaim that “Something smells fishy in here!”. We’ve heard it many, many, many times. It’s not that good of a pun and we know it smells like fish, and so do our wives and dogs when we get home.

     Alas, I digress once again. You don’t care about Andy’s pinky. You just want to know what I think of Santa Fe Brewing Company’s Nut Brown Ale.

     Speaking of Santa Fe, I played a show there last October while touring with the venerable Levi Parham, who sings the dusty bowly Okie blues. He’s got a couple superb records under his belt and recently signed and recorded with the Music Roads label down in Texas. He tours all over the place so go see him and then patiently await his new album coming out, I assume, in the next few months.

     Speaking of Levi Parham, not many people know that he used to work in a secret lab for the U.S. government. He was a trainer of chimpanzees and the best there was until he figured out that the military was conducting fatal nuclear radiation experiments on them. After teaching them sign language and how to operate a flight simulator, he had developed a bond with them, most notably a young wise-cracking chimp with one eye named Levi. I think they had a special relationship because they had the same name. It gave them a lot to talk about.

When Levi (the human) figured out that the chimps were dying from the experiments, he did the only thing a God-fearing chimp tamer could do. He freed the chimps and smuggled them back to their natural habitat in Africa. They were all happy to be there, except for Levi (the ape) who had a hard time saying goodbye to Levi (the human). It was an emotional scene, to say the least, when Levi (the human) finally convinced Levi (the ape) that he was better off in the wild.

     Needless to say, Levi Parham, heartbroken by the whole experience, never wanted to train another chimp, so he became a musician. You learn a lot about a guy when you tour, traversing those many miles.

     Anyway, Santa Fe Brewing Company’s Nut Brown Ale is good. We’ll see ya next time!

beer reviews

April 24, 2016 Oskar Blues Brewery -- Dale's Pale Ale


Today I am drinking and reviewing Dale’s Pale Ale from the Oskar Blues Brewery in Longmont, CO.

A picture is worth a thousand BADLY-PLACED words. A few words thoughtfully arranged are worth a whole bunch of stupid pictures.


Like this:


          so much depends

          a red wheel

          glazed with rain

          beside the white


And this:


           A plow, they say, to plow the snow.
           They cannot mean to plant it, no - -
           Unless in bitterness to mock
           At having cultivated rock.


Plus this:


           For Sale: Baby Shoes, Never worn


William Carlos Williams (“The Red Wheelbarrow”), Robert Frost (“Plowmen”) and (maybe) Hemingway (a possible misquote), respectively, were pretty good at it. So was e.e. cummings:

     wild(at our first)beasts uttered human words
  --our second coming made stones sing like birds--
     but o the starhushed silence which our third’s



How’s a human to paint the history of mankind in one painting? Cummings did it with twenty-four words and a little bit of punctuation. When I internalize this stuff, I realize my songs have too many words. I ain’t no Hemingway who maybe wrote the baby shoe thing, I guess. One of my favorite Bob Dylan tunes is “All the Tired Horses”.


     All the tired horses in the sun,
     How am I supposed to get any ridin’ done?


The score is great and it repeats those words over and over. A chorus of females sing it with some soul and it’s just great. You should listen to it. It’s on Self Portrait.

Anyway, a picture is worth blah blah blah.

Also, I think maybe you SHOULD count your chickens before they hatch. If you don’t collect data so as to calculate your projected losses, how do you plan for the future? Wouldn’t you like to know the average number of eggs that are going to become healthy chickens? If raising chickens is your thing? Seems practical to me.


I’m listening to Robert Hoefling’s album Old Memories & Live Wires. It’s one of my favorite Tulsa records and one of my favorite records in general. Robert’s a good friend and a youngster compared to me. He’s a great lyricist and I don’t think he uses too many words. It’s on the venerable Horton Records label and you should seek it out if you haven’t heard it, though I imagine most folks reading this beer review have heard it and probably dig it.


Funny thing about Robert Hoefling – he was born with twelve toes; seven on his left foot. He lost the extra two to frostbite when he fell asleep waiting in line for a Chipotle grand opening when he lived in Colorado. It was February and he wanted to be the first one to buy a big burrito, so he went there at midnight the night before with a lawn chair, which as it turns out, was a little too comfortable. He says it was worth it, but only because he paid extra for guacamole. While in the hospital recovering, he wrote “Call Me Bad Runnin’” which is one of the best tracks on the album.


Coincidentally, I ate at the same Chipotle years before I met Robert whilst driving around Colorado playing music with Joe Mack, Carter Sampson, Patrick Calaway and Mike “Deucey” Hopper. Joe Mack’s music is wonderful and I listen to his stripped-down album called Pieces all the time. Carter Sampson has a new one out and it’s pretty great, too. She’s a heck of a vocalist and sports some pretty wicked lyrics. It’s called Wilder Side. Patrick Calaway is in a high-energy folk band out of Arkansas called The Squarshers and Lil’ Deucey Hopper is driving around playing music with some various folks. Both guys are great guys and dedicated musicians.


That Colorado tour had some ups and downs. Transportation issues. We took a tired bus that had been sitting idle long enough that someone had deposited a sock they had wiped their butt with in it. Probably through an open window. A bit of bleaching, it seems, didn’t help it run very well. Nevertheless, some great music was played and some mountains were traversed. People have told me I should write a song about it, but I don’t want to have to rhyme with “shit-sock”. People say we should write songs about all kinds of things. They’re usually wrong.

But I digress. This is, after all, a beer review.


I have a good friend named Porter Ragnus and he used to be a folk singer kind of like me except he was a little less censored when it came to writing songs about himself or the way he, personally, felt about things. I tend to avoid writing anything too personal. One of the reasons is the night Porter quit playing music for people. He wrote a pretty good tune, years back, about the tragic death of one of his childhood friends. The song detailed that his buddy had broken his arm when they were both seven years old when he fell from the top of some monkey bars in the schoolyard at recess. The doctors set the arm incorrectly and it healed noticeably crooked at the elbow. Porter’s friend lived the rest of his precious years with a crooked arm. When he and Porter were eighteen years old and in their first semester of college, Porter got a call that his lifetime pal had been killed in a car accident. His body had been broken and he had died young.


Porter was pretty much crushed. It would be the first time he had to bury a childhood friend. When he went to the viewing to see him one last time, in a casket, he noticed that the arm had been fixed. The mortician straightened it.


So, my buddy Porter Ragnus wrote a song about his buddy’s arm. It’s a pretty good tune and it was kind of hard for him to perform it. The night he quit music forever, he played it. He played it with all his heart to a small drunken crowd at a local dive on a Saturday evening. He gave the saddest, most personal song he had written everything he had that night. When he was done, all he could hear from the floor was a dude yelling “Play some Skynyrd, man!”.


So Porter quit. Now he’s a terrible advice columnist. It’s a terrible column and it’s terrible advice.


I know, I know. Dale’s Pale Ale.

Here is my review of Dale’s Pale Ale made by the Oskar Blues Brewery: It’s good.

© 2014 Chris Lee Becker Music