lovelytheband – Lovely The Night

So for full disclosure, Jordan Greenwald who plays guitar, keys and sings back up is my second cousin’s son… And if I understand the whole cousin thing, he is my second cousin, once removed.

Regardless, I would not give him a pass just because of our relationship. If he and the band were off, I would find a diplomatic way to say something…maybe not here…but I would speak up and be constructive.

Luckily for me, and for all of you, Jordan is a kick ass musician, and also one of the nicest people you will ever meet. His stage presence is phenomenal and his talent is huge. I have had the pleasure of watching him blossom from a beginner, to a total shredder and to see him happily in a truly fantastic band is a really great thing!

lovelytheband features Mitchy Collins, of the band Oh Honey, a great pop duo, who has released a number of really enjoyable EPs. This new band is definitely a step away from the bright and poppy anti-Civil Wars, but clearly Mitchy’s talent moves in many sensibilities.

In addition to that, I got to watch him work behind the scenes a little bit, and there is a real class and kindness to him, as well. I tell you, that is a refreshing thing to see and gives me hope for the future of music. Talent is one thing, and there is a lot of it out there, but to be nice and decent on top of that is sadly unique and a real standout. So here’s hoping that will go a long way!

They band was opening for Goody Grace, and had special guests on drums and bass for the night, but will now be joined by new drummer, Sam Price (he is the one on the left, Mitchy is in the middle and Jordan is on the right)

 

Arriving on the Sunset Strip brought back many memories… and seeing the line of young people, mostly girls, made me feel old. It’s an odd thing when you realize you could have fathered…literally…90% of the audience. Sigh…

 

Once we got inside, I realized that The Roxy needs a major overhaul! They are notorious for either not running the AC or not having it work, and Monday night a few weeks back was no exception. The place is a sticky floored, sauna. The band was drenched, we were drenched… and even young women, who always seem to be freezing, were perspiring. Yeah yeah… it’s historical, but come on. It’s clearly a “confused” venue…

But that mostly did not matter… The crowd was so into this band, and the fact that this was their very first live performance gave it that extra energy boost. Though I will say, you would never have known this was a first show! This is a band to watch… killer musicianship, great songwriting, and great guys! And…they genuinely love playing together, which is infectious. The audience was eating it up!

Their seven-song set featured:
Emotion
Make You Feel Pretty
Coachella Weekend
Stranger
Passionfruit (Drake Cover)
Broken
Friends

The closer, “Friends” is another hooky, catchy song that had the crowd singing along. I can easily hear many of these songs on a great movie soundtrack or TV series.

Billboard claims (and thanks for the article Rania Aniftos) this “Brand-new alt trio… came together on a drunken night in West Hollywood.” I know nothing about that… fingers in my ears… but from the opening notes of their amazing, catchy and still stuck-in-my-head hit “Broken” the influence of MGMT is clear.

Mitchy says that “Broken” “is about finding someone who is just as f—ed up and lost as you are, but somehow you make it work together. Everyone is a little bit broken inside, nobody’s perfect. This song is an ode to the broken ones.” The song is utterly infectious. Again, in a good way… You want this infection, trust me!

Billboard also mentions Pixies, who I’m not sure I agree with, and Grouplove, as other influences. The last one I totally get, especially their album Never Trust A Happy Song. 

So go checkout lovelytheband! They’ll be in Chicago and New York next week, and “Broken” has hit over a million plays on Spotify. Boom!

Also special kudos to Julia, the best Merch Girl in town! MERCH!
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Metal Monday – General Thoughts And Rockin’ Ramblings (Part One)

So a couple of general thoughts hit me as I was writing my Iron Maiden posts. I knew I wanted to do something about Metal in general…the history, the different styles, etc.

Then my buddy Jason posted something that I thought was worth exploring, specifically about Maiden. And then my friend, fraternity brother and other Metal Mentor, Barry gave some awesome insight into his love of the genre… and Boom!

Since neither are guest blogging, you’re stuck with me. But these are the two who Metaled me up… And hey, look, Boys! Thirty some odd years later it worked! I’m hooked!

METAL MUSIC
So where does one start when looking for info. on any given subject? Wikipedia, of course.

“Heavy metal… developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the United Kingdom and the United States. With roots in blues rock and psychedelic/acid rock, the bands that created heavy metal developed a thick, massive sound, characterized by highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos, emphatic beats, and overall loudness. Heavy metal lyrics and performance styles are sometimes associated with aggression and machismo.”

“In 1968, the first heavy metal bands such as Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple attracted large audiences, though they were often derided by critics. During the mid-1970s, Judas Priest helped spur the genre’s evolution by discarding much of its blues influence; Motörhead introduced a punk rock sensibility and an increasing emphasis on speed. Beginning in the late 1970s, bands in the new wave of British heavy metal such as Iron Maiden and Saxon followed in a similar vein. Before the end of the decade, heavy metal fans became known as “metalheads” or “headbangers”.

A couple of things stand out for me. First, it amazes me how things that are on the fringe become so mainstream at a certain point in time. Zeppelin and Deep Purple are Classic Rock bands to me! Granted I came to them later in their careers, but that was normal FM Radio/East Coast listening. And let us not forget that The Beatles started off as the enemy to many a parent. Then the Stones came out as the even more evil rockers! And of course, speaking of Metal, Iron Maiden was cast as devil worshippers.

Some folks consider AC/DC a Metal band, but to me they are just hard rock and one of the highlights to come out of Jason’s Boom Box. Same with KISS. And while Judas Priest was always blasting that summer, I never really listened to Metal on a regular basis. In fact, when people asked me what musical genres were the ones I knew the least about, I would always say Rap, New Country and Metal.

Now Rap and Hip Hop come pouring out from behind my daughter’s closed bedroom door (No, that is not really it!!!), along with a fair amount of Show Tunes! Though I am also happy to say that her playlist has a heck of a lot of Classic Rock on it!

I will admit that I got into NWA, Dr. Dre, Tupac and others all “after the fact.” Way before my daughter, but after the fact…and I will also admit that I do get “parental” from time to time, as I hear certain lyrics being sung by my kid. Ugh.

And I always had a soft side… and I guess I still do… as my favorites of the time were Steve Miller Band and The Eagles. My first concerts were more Classic Rock than anything else, too. Chicago and Orleans was my first. Then The Eagles, Heart and the Little River Band

Usually as people get older their musical tastes get smaller and more “refined”.  Not me! My tastes have been growing and expanding for a long time now. And as I said, I seem to come to certain things late… like Metal! Which also has friends accusing me of doing to try to stay young. That’s not the way I work. I listen to what moves me, what grabs me and I do not care where and who it comes from. More politicians need to do this with good ideas! It should not matter what side of the aisle it comes from! A good idea is a good idea, and the goal must be to problem solve, help and create joy.

But this post is about MUSICAL JOY! So what is it about Metal that has taken such a hold on me? Iron Maiden is in regular rotation. I love the new Metallica album, and the Judas Priest 30th Anniversary CDs are kicking me into gear. I wrote about how studies have shown that this music can actually relax people. I can actually see that, but for me, it just makes me happy and energized, and I love to CRANK IT! To 11!!!

Barry wrote:
“It’s all about the energy. Metal still motivates me and gets me pumped like no other genre. And the metal bands that I like best – the ones that exhibit extreme technical precision like Dream Theater, Iron Maiden, Queensryche, etc. – appeal to me from my early years as a classically trained pianist. (Which is probably why I enjoyed grunge, but never got into it as much as I did metal – the precision was always a little lacking for me.) I am also a huge fan of guitar virtuosos like Reb Beach, Paul Gilbert, Nuno Bettencourt, John Petrucci, George Lynch, et. al. – their craftsmanship and precision continue to astound and inspire me.

Right on, Barry!!!

Robert Walser (author of Running With the Devil: Power, Gender, and Madness in Heavy Metal Musicsaid that Metal’s “most influential musicians have been guitar players who have also studied classical music. Their appropriation and adaptation of classical models sparked the development of a new kind of guitar virtuosity [and] changes in the harmonic and melodic language of heavy metal.”

 

And specifically on Maiden, Jason wrote:
“I think another thing that is important to mention — for the uninitiated — is to not pre-judge Iron Maiden because of Eddie (their mascot, who is on all their graphics). Maiden is not what you might hate about metal — in fact it’s quite the contrary. Musically, their material is high-energy and rocks hard (and they are great players), it’s mostly very melodic and their lyrics are unobjectionable (no cursing, no objectifying of women, and many have historical context, e.g., “The Trooper,” about the Crimean War, “Aces High,” about the WWII air wars and Battle of Britain, “Where Eagles Dare,” based on the great WWII film, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” based on the Samuel Taylor Coleridge poem, etc). They are all smart individuals, family men, and their lead singer actually flies the band plane (a fully loaded 747 with the band gear, not a little prop plane.). With streaming services, it’s easy to sample their music or their bio-pic, “Flight 666.” Enjoy the journey and Up the Irons!”

So you can see how and why these two are my Metal Mentors… Jason on a Teen Tour, and Barry as my Frat House roommate in College! We listened to a hell of a lot of great stuff back then, Boys! And this does not even include all that Al Jarreau and Spyro Gyra, Barry! What? We needed to charm the ladies!

Come back next Monday for Metal Monday – General Thoughts And Rockin’ Ramblings (Part Two) when we talk about all the different sub-genres of Metal and more!

 

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My Maiden Voyage – An Iron Maiden Virgin No More (Part 3 – The Concert Review)


I really did not expect this post to be a three-parter, but they say that 600 words are about all people want to read in a blog…and there was just so much fun, side stuff that came up, so here we are! (And do NOT word-count this one… DOH!)

Let me set the stage again. The venue is The Glen Helen Pavilion. My first visit, so I was also a Venue Virgin. Yes, this was a big day for me. The stage and sound are great… unlike the Forum, whose sound can SUCK, depending on where you sit. But as I said, the venue is a pain in the ass to get to and park at, especially in brutal holiday traffic.

Since there are no ins and outs we missed Exodus, which in retrospect was probably a mistake. Though I heard they had major sound issues. We caught a bit of Kamelot, who were okay and got to see a lot of Ghost, who were actually pretty good. The whole gothic, all wearing masks thing freaks me out a bit (Jason warned me)…as do songs mentioning Lucifer (Read Nice Jewish Boy) but this Swedish metal band formed in 2008 had some skills and really got the crowd going.

And speaking of the crowd… As I was coming out of the Men’s “Lounge” a guy at the very back of the line asked me “European?” Clearly I was too hot to get it, so when I said no, he said “Neither am I, but hopefully I will be soon.” (Insert Rimshot.) There were lots of “in bathroom” jokes flying around. Ahhh… men and our beer!

Maiden apparently does not call audibles like the other Bruce (Springsteen, that is) and so their set list has not changed in a long, long time. Fine for the first time viewer…but I would guess long time fans would want it mixed up a little. I knew going in I would not get to hear my favorite Maiden tune, “Run To The Hills,” so I guess I will just have to go back for the next tour. And yes, I WILL BE BACK!

Do they have huge “Eddie” inflatables, changing backdrops and monsters attacking the band? Hell to the yes!!!
About 25,000 in attendance? Check.
A few first timers? Oh yeah!

So away we go! Buckle up, Michelle, Casey and Christian. Rocking with you was a blast!!! Thank you for the food, drink and everything else! Thanks to KLOS for the tickets… Thanks to Leihua and Larry in advance for the kick-ass shirt… And Jason, thank you, thank you, thank you for the intro and kick in the butt! Your money is safe!!!

The PA system started blasting UFO’s “Doctor, Doctor” which we knew was their entrance tune and is such a great rocking song! And then my first Iron Maiden show shot out of the gate. The songs were heavy from the new album, Book Of Souls, (six out of a 15-song set) but I quite like the first two songs they did (also one and two on the record), “If Eternity Should Fail” and “Speed Of Light”…which I really, really dig. I also love the sing-along anthem “The Red And The Black” and it’s “Whoa oh, oh oh oh… Whoa oh, oh oh oh…”

But of course the biggest reaction was for the classics… and Maiden’s catalog is deep. Highlights for me were “Children Of The Damned,” “The Trooper”, and the set closer “Fear Of The Dark.” The encore was a perfect trifecta with “The Number Of The Beast,” “Blood Brothers” (soooo NOT the other Bruce’s tune) and the great ender “Wasted Years”!

The band is currently made up of:
Founder and bassist, Steve Harris (1976-present)
Guitarist Dave Murray, who has been there almost as long (with a short stint in 1977, and then from 1979 on)
Bruce Dickinson on vocals… and NOT the famed producer with the same name. (1981-1993 and then 1999 to present)
Janick Gers on guitar and with the band since the ’90s.
Adrian Smith on guitar, who went from 1981-1991, then took a break and came back in 1999 to present.
Nicko McBrain is the band’s fifth drummer, but has been playing with Maiden since 1983!

These guys are in their ’60s and rocking like 20 year-olds! Jumping, bouncing, running, going crazy and having the time of their lives. That on-stage joy is infectious, and while I know they have had their in-fighting issues, as does almost every band, it sure seems like this is a Rock N’ Roll Brotherhood!

Also keep in mind that Bruce Dickinson had throat cancer AND throat surgery. I caught his voice dropping out from time to time, but DANG… What a showman, and ALL OVER THE STAGE!

It was at this show that I realized the true meaning of Head Banging!!! Actually, head banging, neck snapping, body aching!!! In fact, Michelle and I both kept commenting on how physically sore we would be the next day… and as my head went up and down to the beat, I could feel almost a Rock N’ Roll concussion coming on. Ah, to be young again. And why did I not get into Metal in my ’20s???

Before the show was over, Bruce said a few things I wanted to share. He pointed out that we may have noticed a few mistakes…but that is what happens when a band plays live and without hiding people backstage or using “canned” vocals. Cheers to that!

I cannot tell you how many bands do this… bands that you would never think would do this. Hell, when I saw Fleetwood Mac in Anaheim on the last tour, we were sitting so high and to the side we could see an extra drummer “hidden” behind the wall next to Mick’s drum set up… and while he did not drum on every song, I was floored!

The last things Bruce said were pretty powerful. Basically he said that “everyone came in safe… and everyone needs to leave safe. Right?” The crowd roared, though I have to say, the huge bonfire some of the fans made in the lawn area gave me concern…and I questioned how security did not shut it down. But…
Oh yeah!!! They made an actual and rather large BON FIRE in the middle of the lawn sitting area, and danced around it all night long… actually ran around it in a circle!!!

The band takes their bows and throws guitar picks and drum sticks out into the adoring crowd and heads off stage as Monty Python’s “Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life” comes over the PA. This is more than appropriate as Metal music often seems to have a dramatic flair, and regularly involves a battle between Good and Evil. It can be mythic and iconic, in music and lyrics…and certainly in stage antics!

Here is the setlist…

  1. If Eternity Should Fail
  2. Speed of Light
  3. Wrathchild
  4. Children of the Damned
  5. Death or Glory
  6. The Red and the Black
  7. The Trooper
  8. Powerslave
  9. The Great Unknown
  10. The Book of Souls
  11. Fear of the Dark
  12. Iron Maiden
    Encore:
  13. The Number of the Beast
  14. Blood Brothers
  15. Wasted Years

But what I would like to leave you with, is one of the last things Bruce said to the crowd:

It’s a message that should resonate with all of us. And as I posted on Facebook, it’s a shame that so few of our leaders and politicians speak up like this.

He said: “We need to come together, do no harm and go to bed with whoever we want to because we love them.”

Amen.

 

And Long Live Rock!!!

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My Maiden Voyage – An Iron Maiden Virgin No More (Part 2)

As my buddy Rob and I were leaving a post workout meal at The Habit two weeks ago, we decided to do a quick Trader Joe’s run before they closed. He asked me if I was going to see America at the Canyon Club on July 1st, and while I LOVE America, I told him I HAD to go see Iron Maiden that night, but as of yet, I had no tickets.

I got in my car for the two-minute drive to Trader Joe’s, and as the radio came on, I kid you not, the DJ on KLOS was literally announcing free Maiden tickets for the 10th caller.

Dial, busy, hang up. Again. Dial, busy, hang up. Again… Ring, ring, ring…
“Who’s this?”
“Marc.”
“Hi, Marc. You just won a pair of tickets to see Iron Maiden.”
“Ummm. Wow! Okay… I have to tell you this story…”
And so I regaled her with what had just happened… and yes she loved it!

Talk about putting something into the universe…WOW!!!

July 1st – Glen Helen Pavillion – San Bernardino, CA… CONCERT DAY!
The build up was a bit crazy… My first buddy bailed. Then my cousin bailed. But that gave me the chance to offer the ticket to my friends Michelle and Casey (He had NEVER seen them either!) Casey’s son Christian (21) also joined us… and yes, unlike his Dad and me, he had seen them about 9 years ago.

The drive out there SUCKED. And because of Waze re-routing my friends, I wound up doing the whole drive solo… and it was a CRAWL… THE. WHOLE. WAY. OUT!

Who the HELL is going to San Bernardino for the 4th weekend???!!!
I pulled into the very first and “UNMARKED” lot, and was told by a kid working it:
a) I was in Lot 6
b) It was a short walk to the venue. Ha!

It took me about 15 minutes before I could even see the venue… And yes, I got horribly lost at the end of the night and might not have found my car if it had not been for my good, visual memory)… BUT… This lot offered a very easy out! I think I was at least 30-45 minutes into my drive home, when my friends called to tell me they were STILL stuck in the lot! So much for the $20 “VIP” lot.

Thanks to KLOS for the tickets and a pre-show BBQ, which kept me fed and hydrated and had me winning a Judas Priest CD (Ironic) and a Cheap Trick download of what I thought was the great new album, We’re All Alright!, but was only three songs… Strange!

After that it was back to the grassy parking lot, where we found some shade and drank some beers in the parking lot… Another irony since the venue information says no tailgating, but EVERYONE was doing it. Yes, I am a rule follower… Ha! Thanks to Michelle for bringing a nice selection of booze and making everyone sandwiches! Mahalo!

And what is with you Millennials???  You claim to be so high and mighty on the environment, and then leave ALL your trash on the ground, when a trash can is five feet away. Lazy, entitled you know whats! Another Wow right there!

We missed Exodus, because we thought they were on second. Bummer… though apparently they had some sound issues. We walked in when Kamelot was playing and they were not bad… but not quite my thing.

This was most definitely not my usual concert crowd, and I think many folks thought I was a NARC. Literally! I was NOT wearing black, nor an Iron Maiden shirt… I had no tattoos, and probably looked a bit… well… conservative in my grey and black camo shorts, my Under Armor shirt, my black Nike Big Ten baseball cap and my Ray Bans.

One guy selling bootlegged t-shirts LITERALLY stopped hawking them when he saw me walking towards him, and immediately shoved them under his own shirt and walked quickly away. Doh!

So back to the shirts for a second… I know, I know… I seem obsessed… but there is a method to my MADNESS!

This is an actual picture of Jason’s “A” Maiden Shirt. Look at the care he takes! That is a perfect Gap fold right there, folks! Did you use a board, Jason???
Now I want this one, too… and the Best Of The Beast shirt. Hint, hint… Bday in August… Wink, wink, nudge, nudge… What? Maiden shirts are HIP! But here is my bigger point on all the Maiden shirts.

I was always led to believe that unless it was a really unique shirt, and there were some of those, too… that it was UNCOOL to wear a band’s shirt to see THAT band. Clearly that is NOT the case for a Maiden show!

ALMOST EVERYONE had a Maiden shirt on, which is a HUGE TESTAMENT to their marketing prowess and skill at selling EVERYTHING MAIDEN. There were multiple times when we stopped and told people what a cool shirt they had on. So there you go!

Maiden is one of the few bands that continues to sell out shows around the world… and may also move the most Merch of any band! And believe me…the lines at the Merch tables were deep and wide. Should have snapped a photo of that… and of the selection of probably at least 12 different shirts.

And then there was this…

Genius. Expensive genius!

My buddy Jason did not think I would like Ghost, as they all wear masks, which can be a bit creepy… but they were great musicians and this Swedish Metal band really played to the crowd. Again, the Lucifer references made this nice Jewish boy a bit uncomfortable, but today was about the head banging.

And being with family and friends, of course. I don’t know who these people are, and what you can’t see is that the kid’s jacket also had an Elmo patch on it! And yes, he was wearing ear plugs.

Long live Rock N’ Roll! And yes, I am flashing the Metal Horns!

Come back Friday for the final Part 3, and the actual review of my first Maiden show!!!

 

 

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My Maiden Voyage – An Iron Maiden Virgin No More (Part 1)


Iron Maiden, Metallica, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Korn, Slayer, Motorhead, Slipknot, Five Finger Death Punch, Anthrax, Dream Theatre, Queensryche, Twisted Sister, Exodus, Motley Crue, Dio, Tool, Megadeath, Pantera…

This is part of the list of the top 50 Metal bands of All-Time. Just to get us all on the same page.

With that said… I am so NOT a Metal guy. Judas Priest was as deep as my Metal musical tastes went for many years… And yes, my love and knowledge of them came from my friend Jason’s Boom Box. Readers of this blog will know I have spoken often and lovingly of this magical, music-making box.  They will know exactly just HOW much of my musical loves and Rock N’ Roll education came out of that boom box on a summer teen tour across this amazing country of ours. Sitting in the back of the bus, in the year ____, listening to incredible Rock N’ Roll changed my life… Truly!

(Yes, I purposely avoided mentioning the specific year…mostly because I have to remember which year it was!)

British Steel was on regular Boom Box rotation back then, but that was as far as it went for me… Until a few years ago.

Well, okay… Twisted Sister, Zeppelin (if you include them in Metal) and Motley Crue were always on my playlists, but still.

My buddy Jason LOVES Iron Maiden. And yes, this is the Maiden shirt I want (Hint, hint) Best Of The Beast. But not one with those horrid and thick iron-on, screen prints that stick to your chest when it gets hot! You know what I’m talking about!

I love how Jason was telling me yesterday that he has an “A” Maiden shirt… One from the Piece Of Mind tour, that features “The Trooper” on it. Apparently the whole family knows how to treat this shirt when it makes its way into the wash. And when he wears it out…well…that must mean something special!

We’ll talk more about Maiden shirts in Part 2… And yes, it is a thing!

Jason kept giving me a Money-Back Guarantee… That if I bought tickets for Maiden and did not absolutely LOVE the show, he would give me my money back. Winning tickets from local, Classic Rock radio station KLOS let him off the hook, but I loved his iron clad deal.

So…a few years back I really started listening to Maiden…and… I fell in love with them. Does that even make sense to say in the Metal world? See! I mean, yo Dudes… I really like that kick-ass Maiden shit.

It’s funny how many friend and peers think I’m nuts. I mean who comes to Metal in their… Oops! I almost gave my age away, so let’s just say mid-life years? I sold it as me having a Metal Mid-Life Crisis!

Metal is good. It releases so much. And it makes me happy! In fact, in a 2015 study from Australia’s University of Queensland that was published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, it noted:

“Instead of increasing listeners’ anger, the extreme music calmed them, producing a result similar to sitting in silence. Student Leah Sharman said: “We found the music regulated sadness and enhanced positive emotions… The music helped them explore the full gamut of emotion they felt, but also left them feeling more active and inspired.”

Metal!

When I was back in NYC last year with my daughter, Iron Maiden was playing the Garden (Madison Square Garden for you non-New Yorkers!) I so wanted to go, especially with Jason’s passionate demand that we MUST go and how I MUST introduce my then 16-year-old to Maiden. But the night before I had taken my daughter to her first Springsteen show there, and while she loved it, I knew I kind of owed her the Rihanna concert my very generous friend Snod (college nickname) offered us. And yes, I really do owe you another one now, my friend! So Maiden was out… and Rihanna was in.

Then through a misunderstanding and not realizing I had a friend who wanted to go… AND could have gotten us free tickets…DOH!… I missed Maiden again when they were in LA a few weeks later and playing at the Forum. Not a fan of this venue (See my review of U2 at the Forum) but I would have loved to have been there.

So when they announced their July 1st show at the San Manuel Amphitheatre, formerly the Blockbuster Pavillion at Glen Helen… or Glen Helen Pavillion or whatever the heck it’s called, I KNEW I would be there.

Come back tomorrow for the continuation and review and My Maiden Voyage – An Iron Maiden Virgin No More (Part 2)

 

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Hail, Hail, Chuck Berry – The King Is Dead… Long Live The King.

I do not like writing these posts… especially in such quick succession… But this week witnessed the loss of some musical giants, like James Cotton, and now Chuck Berry.

Why does 2017 want to take up where 2016 left off? I guess that’s the somewhat evil nature of time.

“The King is dead, long live the King.” For someone fairly smart, it took me a long time to figure that phrase out…

Clearly the King died, and it is being announced… and then the new King is being praised and people are wishing him a long life. I know… don’t ask. Sometimes my brain is sluggish.

Some might argue that Elvis Presley was the King of Rock N’ Roll. I’m not so sure about that. I’ll go with Chuck Berry.

And so… the King IS dead… and I am not sure there is anyone ready to take his place. You can’t replace a legend… a Founding Father of Rock N’ Roll… one of the first inducted into the Rock N’ Roll Hall Of Fame… You know… back when they were actually putting rockers in!

I have one bad ish story about Chuck… not about him, but a concert of his…

I had just moved out to California and a bunch of us hauled out to Temecula for the Wine and Balloon Festival… one of those all day food and music things… None of us were adequately prepared with clothing or sunscreen… or water… The food and water there was too expensive for us young kids… and so we were sunburned and wiped… and by the time the end of the day rolled around, everyone wanted to leave before Chuck Berry, the headliner, came on. But I got selfish and stubborn and mad that we came all the way out to see Chuck and convinced my friend Amy I think, to stay and that we’d drive home alone… She did NOT want to stay, even though I said I’d drive her car… but I basically threw a young adult tantrum… sorry… and it worked… and so I got to see Chuck for the one and only time.

I feel bad for the way I acted, but happy I got to see this amazing rocker!

And also, there was a couple on the grassy hillside behind the stage, totally getting it on… In full view of all of us concert goers… so yes half our binocular viewing was on them! Sex, no drugs (no water) and Rock N’ Roll!

What Chuck Berry meant to Rock N’ Roll is profound. He was the ambassador, he was a true pioneer… he was a showman… he WAS Rock! The way he wrote… the way he played… the way he sang… He influenced so many more to come and crafted an art form… a rollicking, rowdy art form.

Think about just these classics…

“Maybellene”
“Roll Over Beethoven”
“Rock and Roll Music”
“Johnny B. Goode” 

To quote the great Muddy Waters…  or was it Bo Diddley? “The blues had a baby and they called it Rock N’ Roll”!!!

Check out NPR and Wikipedia!

RIP to the Father, the King and guitar riff master!

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Filed under Life... Plain and Not So Simple, Live Music Reviews, Marc's Mixed Bag - A Little Of Everything, Marc's Playlist - Music That Moves Me, The News Blues

The Blues Is All About Feeling – It’s A Blue Friday For James Cotton

“The blues is all about feeling… If I don’t feel it, I can’t play it.” (James Cotton)

My passion for harmonica started in college. I was doing the Mee-Ow Show (an Improv/Sketch Comedy group) at Northwestern University… Go Cats!… and our live band, Dr. Bob And The Fakoktah Blues Band, featured Todd Weeks on harmonica, among several other instruments. I was hooked, and asked him to teach me a bit, which he did.

That summer we took the show to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where Wesley Stace (aka John Wesley Harding) bought me my first two harmonicas.I will never forget the first moment I was able to bend a note… It floored me!

For the rest of the time I was in Chicago, I would haunt the Blues clubs even more, getting to see some harmonica/harp idols like Sugar Blue, Junior Wells and my favorite, James Cotton. I would listen to their records over and over, trying to copy their playing. To this day, I play alongside of James Cotton And His Big Band – Live From Chicago (Mr. Superharp Himself) and “When It Rains It Pours” is one of my all-tike favorite blues tracks!

What makes this record even more amazing… is that I was there when it was being recorded (February 1-3, 1986 at Biddy Mulligan’s, Chicago, Illinois)… Same thing with The Clash’s Live At Shea.  Not bad places to be, let me tell you!!!

I’ll never forget seeing Cotton play one of those Biddy Mulligan’s shows with my friends and frat brothers Barry Flanik and Jon Weiswasser… and Ray “Killer” Allison giving up his kit so that Jon could get on stage and actually sit in!!!

The band that night was:

JAMES COTTON, harmonica and vocals
JOHNNY COTTON, trombone
MICHAEL COLEMAN, guitar/band leader
RAY “Killer” ALLISON, drums
EDDIE HARSCH, piano
DOUGLAS FAGEN, tenor sax
DANNY “BONEY” FIELDS, trumpet
NOEL NEAL, bass

“Born on a cotton plantation in Tunica, Mississippi on July 1, 1935, Cotton learned harmonica directly from Sonny Boy Williamson II (Rice Miller) as a small child.” Quite a career and journey he had… For the rest of  James’ bio I will refer you to the Alligator Records site, his label since 1984. But suffice it to say, with his passing yesterday, the world has lost a true and profound Blues Legend.

There are not many legends left… so grab on to the Blues… turn it up… play it loud and pay homage!

And yes… I make that very same face!!!

RIP James Cotton. Tomorrow, I play for you.

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Filed under Album Review, Life... Plain and Not So Simple, Live Music Reviews, Marc's Mixed Bag - A Little Of Everything, Marc's Playlist - Music That Moves Me