MICK’S PICKS CONCERT REVIEWS – 2004
The Asylum Street Spankers, Espresso Cafe 12/15/04
When I heard The Spankers were playing the Espresso Cafe in San Jose around Christmas this year I thought what a GREAT place to throw a Christmas get-together! So I put out the word to all my friend and got about 18 friends to confirm and I was at the door EARLY so I could get the first and second rows for us! This place only holds about 80 people and it was a SOLD OUT show 3 days before! Being so small The Spankers, who are now using mikes at bigger shows, were able to play without “the demon electricity”! The latest line-up is really great! Two fairly new additions are Charlie, on mandolin and banjo and, and a fella named Sick on fiddle. Sick has REALLY started to fit into the band well since the last time I saw them…he is VERY animated! He comes forward to do a cover of Nine Inch Nails “Closer”… which he tells us is about bestiality… with everybody in the band adding animal sounds… definitely a high point of the show! Charlie, the newest member, is a dynamic banjo/mandolin player and can sing a very good back up low end vocal…he will fit in very nicely with a little time. Other cool tunes, for me, were Christine’s wonderful rendition of Harry Nilisson’s “Think About Your Troubles” and Christine and Wammo’s duet on “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”. The band has been through some change as of late but I have a feeling that this line up will be staying together for awhile… they seem to get along well! Out of the 18 people that were in our party, I think about 10 were “Spanker virgins”… I am sure they are all now fans of this crazy outfit of musicians. A word of warning to all of you who passed on this show… They are in talks with producers about doing a comedy/variety TV show… DON”T miss them next time, or you may NEVER get to see this very entertaining group again in a small venue.
Shawn Colvin / The Neville Brothers, Flint Center 12/11/04
Last Thursday night I checked my email to find an note from KFOG saying I was the winner of a pair of tickets to see the Annual KFOG Concert For Kids at Flint Center in Cupertino! I was going to go to my pals X-mas jam party but I just could NOT pass up this chance to see TWO great artist at a GREAT venue! (Sorry I missed the party, Len…hope it was GREAT!) I tried to get somebody to go with me but NOBODY was available…so I went alone! And I’m VERY glad I did. Shawn Colvin came out first with a very inspiring version of Donovan’s “Catch The Wind”. This along with The Beatles “I’ll Be Back” were the only two cover songs she did this night , but she could have just walked away after just those two song and I would have been happy! She knocked BOTH of these songs out of the ballpark, with her own unique take on them.( If you pick up her new greatest hits CD you get the Beatles song as a bonus track.) She went on to play lots of her own beautiful songs, including her big hit “When Sonny Came Home”. As she played I thought to myself how I had never thought of her as much of a guitar player. Well I was SO wrong! Shawn can play her Vintage Martin D-28 acoustic like some of the best acoustic guitarist I’ve ever seen! I thought of Leo Kottke,as she finger picked her way into my heart. Her storytelling between songs was just gut-busting! She really does not hold back at telling the audience WHATEVER she wants! This lady was a treat to see live… Then the Nevilles came out and filled the Flint Center with their own brand of New Orleans Funk/ Soul music. Brothers Aaron, Art, Ivan, Charles and Cyril, along with other VERY talented siblings, grooved on many old and new songs. Aaron, of course, did his big hit “Tell It Like It Is” and he is NOT the only great voice in this band. ALL members traded off all night long on lead vocals and they are ALL just as good as Aaron! Cyril is the sax player who gives the band the haunting signature solos. On the cut “Yellow Moon” he did a call-and- response thing with the guitar player that was just AWSOME!! They did a cover of the old reggae classic “River Of Babylon” and an acapella version of “Amazing Grace” by Aaron sent chills up my spine! I had seen this band years ago but I enjoyed this set SO much more! There is just so much history behind these guys and they just are class incarnate!
Sally Timms and Johnny Dowd, Cafe Du Nord 12/05/04
Got to catch an interesting set by Sally Timms and The Johnny Dowd Band at Cafe Du Nord in SF last Fri the 7th. Cafe du Nord is a very cool venue, as it was an old speak-easy back in the 20’s, and has a very warm vibe to it. It is very small and always good sound. We got to the show a little late due to the poor parking situation, but missed only about 3 songs by Johnny Dowd. This fella I had been wanting to see for awhile now. He is a VERY interesting song writer from Oklahoma. Johnny must be in his 50’s and must have had quite an interesting upbringing. His songs range in subject matter from incest to cross-dressing. His sound is a very dark eerie surf/garage thing. the band consists of a drummer, who also plays moog “foot-activated” bass, lead guitarist, who also plays accordian, synth and weird backing vocals and Johnny on lead vocals and guitar. I gotta see this guy again sometime! Very unusual and cool. At one point Chuck Prophet, well know SF singer/songwriter, came up and played some nice guitar on one song. This was a great set. Then Sally Timms, of Mekons fame, came out with Johnny and his band backing her up. She did most of her new album,” in the world of him”, and three Mekons songs, Corporal Chalkie, Wild and Blue and Bomb. This band was a perfect match for Sally…something different from the Mekons. Her voice was in fine shape this night, even if she did confess to “too much cigarettes and red wine”. This ladies voice is just beautiful… if you like the quite, wispy sort of thing. In the end she did a short encore set doing duets with Johnny Dowd on a couple of his songs. I LOVE the Mekons, and I’m sure Sally does too, but she seems very confident doing the solo thing…and rather good at it too!
Wilco, SJ Center For The Performing Arts 11/13/04
Hi Everybody- Well all you fools who missed Wilco’s 3 SOLD OUT shows in the Bay Area Nov 13, 14 and 15 missed seeing something that is not seen in the pop music world very often… innovative, experimental and cutting-edge creativity! This is what Wilco is all about. When they started out, rising from the ashes of alt-country pioneers Uncle Tupelo, they were doing the country thing, albeit done so on the edge. Then they started to veer… into a different form of pop. When they arrived at their controversial Yankee Fox Trot album, a couple years back, they were starting to do things that had never been heard on rock radio and some things that never would! Then came this years album, A Ghost is Born. Two songs on this album are over 10 minutes long! This is not radio friendly… but songs off this album are being played on the “good” stations around the world. The show at the San Jose Center For performing Arts on Sat the 13th consisted mostly of songs from “Ghost”. They did 11 of the 12 songs from this album. The only songs they did not do were the 15 minute long “Less Than You Think” and the amazing I-Tunes bonus track “Kicking Television” ( Leader, Jeff Tweedy, said “This band sucks at this song, so we don’t do it”). The rest of the set consisted of 4 songs from “Yankee”, 3 songs from “Summerteeth”, 2 from “Being There” and 2 from the great Woody Guthrie tribute album done with Billy Bragg. There were A LOT of highlights to this show… Hearing the amazing 10 minute plus song “Spiders (kidsmoke), this song is just SO loose yet SO tight at the same time… the beautiful songs “Hummingbirds”, “Theologians”and “Jesus etc”, three songs that could be outtakes from the Beatles “White Album”, really showcase how beautiful Tweedy can be at writing pop ditties… hearing the “Summerteeth” hidden track “Candy Floss”… seeing my wife dig this noisy pop band, quoting Holly, “I still don’t like the noisy parts… but,man, they are really great musicians!”… Seeing Jeff Tweedy in such a great mood and loving his band, quoting Jeff, ” Man Glen, your are just smokin’ on those drums tonight!”… soaking in all the great solos from the amazing new guitarist, Nels Cline, infamous LA session man…new players Mikael Jorgensen and Pat Sansone fitting into the Wilco groove… getting to hear “California Stars” with the great Woody Guthrie lyrics…This show was a great way to whined down a fantastic run of shows for 2004. Whatch this band, they will continue to make great innovative music for a long time to come. Oh, I almost forgot to mention the opener, Carla Bozulich. Her set was short but very interesting. Nels Cline came out and did one song with her, he was in her old ban The Geraldine Fibbers. I would like to see her sometime in the future do a small club gig…I think her music would work better in that setting.
18th Annual Bridge School Benefit, Shoreline Amphitheater 10/23/04
Hey Everybody- This is quite late but I just wanted to fill you in on our adventure at the Bridge School Benefit show on Oct 23rd at Shoreline Amphitheater. Things started out a little “ify” as I drove up to meet Ron at Rasputin Records in San Jose. It started to rain. I had read that there was a 60% chance but I was still HOPING for the other 40%. Seeing this show was out doors and we had lawn tickets… I was prepared with a nice low lawn chair and a rain suit! We were able to get to the lawn, stake out a spot and set up our chairs just in time before a good down pour started. The show had not started as of yet so we hustled back to the bar for a shot and a beer. This being Oct 23rd, and that being my Natal day, I figured I would indulge a little more than I normally would. So after a couple beers we could see on the video in the bar that Peggy Young was starting the show off talking about the kids that benefit by this great tradition of a rock fest. Then Neil came out and started in on a solo acoustic version of “Suger Mountain”. We were still waiting for Ron’s wife and friends to show up and they were to meet us in the bar. But I just NEEDED to see Neil do what he does so I split, by myself, back to the lawn. He did three song before he introduced the duo of Tegan and Sara. These two girls are very funny and write some pretty cool pop songs. I really like the song “Walking with a Ghost” off their new CD called “So Jealous”. Eddie Vedder, from Pearl Jam, was next with a solo acoustic set. Ron and gang had still not arived back at the lawn but I knew that Ron’s affection for Eddie was not very high and he really didn’t miss much. Except Eddies GREAT version of Dylan’s “Masters of War”. With the line “Even Jesus would never forgive what you do!”, it seemed that this song had been written yesterday with a certain president in mind. Also His version of the song “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away” got people ready for the great Beatle songs to come later in the show. I think the gang showed up some time between Eddie and Los Lonely Boys and the rain came down and the night started to settle in. Los Lonely Boys were just great as the three of them just sat on stools with acoustic guitars and sang beautiful harmonies on 7 of their original songs. These guys will be a band I will go and see in the future do a full set, with the full band. They must ROCK! After The Boys darkness had set in and it was time for me to head for the restrooms and get lost for the first time. Outdoor rainy night festival note: In the dark all people with ponchos in lawn chairs look the same. In my inebriated state, I did not think to find a “landmark” to find my way back so I just stood in the isle, as near to out spot as I could find, and watched Sonic Youth do a set that just did not work in an acoustic setting. I can now understand why they were “Booed” at a previous Bridge show 13 years ago. This band should just do full bore distortion in a club setting…they do THAT very well! So as I stood there with a little lost lame lamb face, Ron’s friend sees me and directs me back to my spot. By that time I all ready had thoughts of never finding them and having to take a cab home! AHH! It was so nice to sit down on my sopping wet lawn chair! I was happy!Next was Ben Harper and his Innocent Criminals and he put on a very passionate set with his very tight band. The rain had let up by then but I had ripped the butt out of my rain suit a little earlier so my ass was soaked…and not a happy ass at that! But with the arrival of the Red Hot Chile Peppers things seemed better. I was really looking forward to seeing this band again. The last time was back in the early 90’s at One Step Beyond! They came out strong with their hit “By The Way” and then into a cover of Neil Young’s “Lotta Love”. This is a band that really CAN do Rock hard or acoustic! They pulled off their tune so nicely and the covers were great! Including The Looking Glass’s 60’s song, “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)” and Robert Johnson’s “They’re Red Hot”… a fitting end to their set! Off again I went to the little boy’s room… only to get lost AGAIN when I got back to the lawn!( Why did I not find a landmark after the FIRST time!?!) SO I stood in the aisle AGAIN during part of Tony Bennett’s wonderful set. All of a sudden Ron steps out of the crowd waving to me, “HEY! I’ve been waving at you for 15 mins! Are you going to come sit down or what?!” I felt a little more stupid than I all ready felt and went and sat my soggy butt back down on my lawn chair…but I was happy again! Tony would have been the real hit of the show…if Paul hadn’t been there! Bennett seems like he is in his 20’s and puts SO MUCH passion into the standards he does.At one point McCartney came out and sang a duet with Tony on, a song Tony sang at Paul and Heather’s wedding, “Just The Thought Of You”. As Paul ran off stage, after the number, he shouted out, “I got to sing with Tony Bennett!”, and it seemed like he was actually smitten! This whole set was a big hit with the crowd! I heard a young kid behind me turn to his pals and exclaim ” Dude!, this guy is SIC!” …which means he is very good…I think! Of course he ended his magnificent set with his HUGH hit “I left My Heart In San Francisco”…WHAT a gentlemen he is!
By the time Neil Young came on to do his set I had decided NOT to leave my spot again during this show…it was just TOO traumatic the first TWO times! I had been looking forward to Neil’s set SO much I think I was just a little let down by it. It was OK… and his duets with his wife were great but I guess I just wanted MORE!! Paul came out and just blew me away! It was my first time seeing a Beatle and I will go see this guy again when he comes back next summer! It just comes down to this for me… I grew up on these songs…they are my life… and it all just makes me weepy! Here is his setlist… 1. Baby You Can Drive My Car 2. Til There Was You 3. In Spite Of All The Danger 4. Blackbird 5. Here Today 6. Follow Me *new song* 7. Only Love Can Break Your Heart 8. Michelle 9. Yesterday 10. Get Back 11. Let It Be 12. Lady Madonna 13. Hey Jude (With everybody!)
All these great old Beatles songs with a young band that REALLY pulls them off well! Pauls voice and energy is SO good… makes me wanna scream like a little gurl! But I didn’t… I just enjoyed myself! Highlights… Neil and Paul doing Neil’s “Only Love Can Break Your Heart”, his story of the Beatles sitting around at parties, in the early days, doing songs that sound french! And then doing “Michelle” for us, and of course “Let It Be”…after which he exclaimed “Let It Be Kerry!”… Oh well all dreams can’t come true… but for me this night …I got to see a Beatle perform.
Gillian Welch, David Rawlings and Old Crow, The Filmore 10/09/04
Last Saturday I went to the Filmore to see some more “Ol Timey” music. It really seems to be the big thing these days. For me it started a couple years ago with The Asylum Street Spankers( well, they are sort of “Ol Timey, at least that’s part of their repertoire!). Then when the Coen Brothers movie “O Brother, Where Art Thou” hit the screens it seemed EVERYBODY wanted more fiddle and banjo! Well they got it. Now you can’t even swing a dead possum without hitting something Blue or Grassy!
The show opened with a band called The Old Crow Medicine Show. This is a bunch of “yungins” that grew up on AC/DC but found themselves when they heard Bluegrass. These fellas are very good players and songwriters. Their new album is produced by David Rawlings so he invited them on his tour. They came out playing with the fervor of a punk band. Ron said to me “Hey, David Rawlings is playing with them!”, but all I saw was a long haired dude who they introduced as Bucka Jim Bob…or something to that effect. Whoever he was he was GREAT! This was such a great set that the unheard of happened…the crowd made them come out for an encore! I have only seen this happen couple times in my concert going career… an encore from the opening band! But they deserved it… they were just SO wonderful. It was now Gillian Welch and David Rawlings turn. When they hit the stage I noticed the “Long haired dude” WAS David Rawlings (Any other time I had see him on TV he had short hair!), and Gillian asked the crowd, “Didja all figger out it was David on stage with Old Crow?!?”. This duo proceeded to knock out socks off with their down home harmonies and awesome guitar and banjo pickin’! Gillian Welch is a very good singer/songwriter, but without David Rawlings she would be like a lot of other good artists. Rawlings is of a certain breed of guitarists… he solos like he is hanging on the edge of a cliff and might fall off at any minute! Right when you think his solo is about to fall apart he finds a way to pull it out…and with LOTS of beauty and finesse! I compared him to Jerry Garcia and Ron added, “Yeah, but the difference is Davids solos GO SOMEWHERE!”. Both David and Gillian come from a rock background also and it shows in the way they attack their music. After two long sets, they were brought back for an encore and Old Crow Medicine Show came out with them. They did a fantastic rendition of The Band’s “The Weight” and a couple other songs that ended up making this another one of those shows were I just have to say…
Go see these artists if you get the chance!
Todd Rundgren, Heritridge Theater 9/24/04
Hey Everybody- A couple Fridays ago I got to see Todd Rundgren again, the second time this year! The first time was a solo show and as great as it was I wanted to see him with a band. So this time I got my chance at the newly remodeled Heritage Theater in Campbell. This is a great new venue but this being the FIRST rock show to be presented there it was a little weird. Seeing that a bunch of Fascist little old ladies run the place things like dancing in the isles and drinking water in the theater were prohibited. But that didn’t get in the way of this tremendous show. Todd and his band, which featured Kasmin Sultan on bass, from the old Utopia band, Prairie Prince from the Tubes on drums, Jesse Gress on second guitar and John Ferenzik on Keyboards, put on a show that was really an arena type show squished into a tiny little theater. Before I go on to rave about the show I’ll tell you the two little down points. First Todd didn’t even play the keyboards ONCE! But he did make up for that with LOTS of cool guitar solos. Which brings me to the second down point, being the first rock show at the theater, the mix was a little off. Todds guitar should have been turned WAY up! But still this was such a great show! We had third row seats so we had a great vantage point to watch this bands amazing talents. Todd started out with songs like”Truth”, off the new album “Liars”, the rapping “Fascist Christ,” a furious “Mammon” and the Eastern-inflected “God Said” revealed Rundgren’s views quite clearly. It seemed like he was trying to scare off any of the republican riff-raff at that point. The show only slowed down, but not in intensity, for “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” performed straight in tribute to the Beatles, who have so influenced his music. Alot of the set consisted of very cool soul/funk send ups. I was hoping for older stuff too and I got a VERY different version of “Born To Synthesize”, an updated version of “Hello it’s Me” and an anthem from 1973 called “One Victory” which seemed to work very well even today. Todd Rundgren is such a GREAT performer, he is crazy, talented and VERY young at heart. For a guy who is 56 years old, he acts like he is 20! O.K… he does have a little pot belly starting to develop but that just means he shouldn’t where that “man-dress/kilt thing” he wore at one point! Speaking of fashion, each member of the band came out in different types religious garb and the stage was very cool with an arch for each member to stand in. It reminded me of a famous old etching I have seen somewhere… so cool! Here I will again say that if this performer comes around again, with a band, go see him. You will not only see rock history, vocal gymnastics and amazing guitar licks…you will see an artist that is just as valid as he was when he started way back in the 60’s.
Ryan Adams and Ollabelle, The Warfield 9/22/04
I had a chance to see Ryan Adams again last night at the Warfield in SF. This was the fourth time I’ve seen this fella perform in the last two years and I was not disappointed. The opening band was Ollabelle and as they started their set it was VERY mellow so we stepped out into the lobby for a drink. When we got back this band was still in “dirge” mode. At that point I noticed that Ryan was playing lead guitar with them. He played guitar with them for the WHOLE set! His playing was just amazing! This just might have been the best lead guitar we would hear the whole evening out of him. The band is a southern style gospel, old time churchy, alt-country band and never REALLY left the slow tempo vein all night except for a great gospel choir accapella piece and one or two terrific rave ups in which Ryan just burned on guitar. It looked like Ryan was part of the band the way he just fit in so well. It seemed like he had been playing with them every night. It was a fantastic set if you were ready for the slow tempo…or just on Queludes!
Ryans set was not the best set I’d seen him do but it was still VERY impressive none the less. he did lots of slow stuff also… it was just the theme of the night I guess.
But when he rocked…HE ROCKED HARD!
The new band, The Cardinals, were not as good as his old band but still were tight and pretty hot musicians. Ryan charmed the crowd, except Frank, with his usual banter that made you feel like you were in his living room. At one point he had been babbling for an extended period and just stopped and exclaimed, “Shit! This is all you guys fault with your Humbolt County weed and all!”. As he started to do a couple more solo acoustic songs he asked “Hey guys, no more throwing your boxers up on stage! I mean I don’t like touching my own nuts let alone ANYTHING that has come that close to yours!” We all took this to be in reference to the “Ryan Adams cute factor”. He is just very appealing in some strange way. He is a geeky, nerdy guy with messy hair and a bad suit. But oh so charming in a goofy sort of way. If I was a chick or gay … I would be even MORE into this guy! He is just SO fun to watch! So I can understand why people are throwing there panties up to him… sex symbols of rock have been putting up with this since Elvis! This is a BIG part of his “show” but he is also just one kick-ass singer/songwriter/guitarist too! As I always say about him, he has the “Robert Johnson Factor” about him. He has the ability to make a crowd get all weepy when he plays his songs. Deal with the devil? Hmm… maybe. Considering the major alcohol and drug abuser that he is, you really need to see this guy before he self-destructs.
The Vibrators, The Blank Club 9/10/04
Hey Everybody- Early this morning I found out Johnny Ramone ,guitarist of the greatest punk rock band in the world, The Ramones , had died of prostate cancer at the age of 55. There is just one Ramone left, Tommy, the one who really LOOKED like he would died young! I’ll never forget hearing the Ramones for the first time, at the age of 15 or 16, being just BLOWN away and gathering up all my heavy metal albums I had been listening to for a year or two and just getting rid of them. I just figured I wouldn’t need them anymore…
PUNK ROCK WAS NOW THE FUTURE!
Sure The Ramones are now in the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, for what it’s worth, but it would have been cool if this band had been appreciated a little earlier. Just so all the members could have relished in it.
If there is a heaven they sure got a kick-ass punk rock band now…
At the same age of 16 I got into another band called The Vibrators. To me THIS was the coolest band on earth! They rocked as hard as any punk rock band but they had a lot of REALLY good melodic lead guitar. And man did they have cool songs! Well, I never got to see this band until last Friday night at the Blank Club here in San Jose. John Ellis , the lead guitarist, left the band long ago and the drummer, Eddie, and the leader, Knox, have kept the band going in some form or fashion all these years. I needed to see this band. I had seen a lot of great punk band in the early days, The Ramones, Crime, Sex Pistols, The Dils, The Avengers… but The Vibrators were my favs and now I had my chance! I will just say that I am happy I got to see this band even if it was one of the sloppiest shows I’ve ever seen. Knox now handles all the guitar parts in this trio. And I have to say he is NOT a very good guitarist! All the melody that was the original guitar parts was pretty much gone. He tried to do lead but really couldn’t pull it off. Eddies drums were tight and the new bass player was a real punk looking dude. But without John Ellis on lead this was just a O.K. punk rock band. The set had it’s high points in the middle somewhere after they had warmed up a little… the classic “Baby, Baby” was pretty good and “London Girls” rocked.
PLEASE if you like punk rock go out and buy their first album PUREMANIA and revel in what this band was.
Nickel Creek, Mountain Winery 9/08/04
Hey Everybody- As I sat watching Nickel Creek perform their show at Mountain Winery last night I finally figured out a way to describe them to you… They are a Bluegrass/Jazz band with a Hard Rock sensibility. Chris Thile, Sara Watkins and Sean Watkins are REALLY into Rock music BUT they just so happen to be virtuoso Bluegrass and Jazz players! After just seeing these musicians perform as Mutual Admiration Society just a couple months ago I kinda figured this was going to be a more “Bluegrass” show… and I was right. But this band is ANYTHING but just a Bluegrass band. The Jazz riffs flow freely through out the set and inserting Nirvana’s “Lithium” into the middle of a song is nothing unusual for these guys. Becks “Two Turntables” ended up, with the same fate, in the middle of another number. These were GREAT cover “injections” into GREAT songs, but they also did full covers of The Beatles “Taxman” and lots of cool old Bluegrass tunes as well. I just can’t say enough about these guys being OUTSTANDING players. As with the M.A.S. show, Chris Thile just blew me away with his mandolin playing. He is the best I’ve ever seen on the instrument. He pounds, scratches, strums and seems to brutalize his instrument but then plays the sweetest riffs you can imagine…all the while jumping around and dancing as he plays! Be sure to see these guys in ANY incarnation they come around as in the future!
The Sweet Harmony Traveling Revue, Mountain Winery 9/03/04
Hey Everybody- Just wanted to chime in about the Emmylou Harris, Patty Griffin, Buddy Miller show I saw last Friday at Mountain Winery. This tour of GREAT singer/songwriters was initially billed to include the GREAT duo of Gillian Welsh and David Rawlings… BUT they dropped this tour ,to start ther own tour, a couple nights BEFORE the show we saw! I REALLY wanted to see these two performers, so I was kinda bummed ( if you would like to see these two we are going to their show at the Fillmore Oct 9th! It will be GREAT!). But even without Gillian and David this “Traveling Revue” was a terrific show. Each of the performers came out and did solo stuff, Patty and Buddy’s REALLY standing out. But I have come to realize WHY Emmylou does SO many “duet” recording… this is were she shines! She has done some really beautiful solo recording over her long career but her duets are just the best. In every situation that Emmy came out with one of the other performers and sang WITH them…well this was just the cream of the show! Some of the highlights were… Buddy’s MAJOR distorto guitar riffs, Buddy’s Bob Dylan cover, Patti’s band and her WHOLE set, everybody singing together on an encore of the Byrds “Turn, Turn, Turn”.
This was a very nice evening under the stars, with the crickets singing along, at Mountain Winery.
I’m back at Mountain Winery on Weds to see those FANTASTIC youngsters, NICKEL CREEK, just off the outstanding tour as MUTUAL ADMIRATION SOCIETY. We are just HOPING that they will tour THAT band again!
Patti Smith, The Catalyst 8/21/04
Hey Everybody- It just seems like I can’t go to a show these days without it being AWSOME!… pretty terrible problem, huh?!?
And when it’s at the Catalyst, well it is just ALWAYS a GREAT show!
On Friday, I made a last minute decision to go see Patti Smith… I had wanted to go but nobody else could go with me so I just wasn’t sure! But the more I thought about it and that I had never seen Patti and she is in her 50’s now…well I just figured this might be my last chance to see her! SO I went! There was no opening band and she played for 2 hours. The house was packed to see, who I now refer to as the, “Mother Teresa of Rock n’ Roll”. She came out all smiles and went right into three in a row rockin’ tracks from her latest album “Trampin'”. She then proceeded to tell the audience about how she had been hanging around Santa Cruz during the day and how she was very impressed with the homeless shelter and how it was not a government run shelter. And then she added “The soup was really good too!”. She then picked up a electric guitar and took some time to play the Byrds “So you wanna be a rock n’ roll star”, which she had a hit with years ago. The cool thing about this rendition was she pounded on this Strat ALOT during the song but never played an actual note or chord! And it sounded pretty cool! She played most of her songs that I know and more, but didn’t play here biggest hit, and my favorite, the Springsteen co-penned, “Because The Night”. But it didn’t even matter cuz all the other songs she did were SO great! “Dancing Barefoot”, “Space Monkey” and “People Have The Power” and, of course, “Gloria” were just some of the highlights.Then their was the new song “Radio Bagdad. “It’s the point of view of a mother who is protecting her child as her home is being bombed,” Smith explained in an interview, “and she’s trying to remind her children of their heritage–she’s trying to protect them. It’s a humanistic song; it’s not a political song. That mother in ‘Radio Baghdad’ is no different than the mother crawling in the rubble in Picasso’s ‘Guernica’ with her child.” This song was SO powerful and SO dynamic…it was just AWSOME! Her Band consisted of her husband, Lenny Kaye on guitar, Oliver Ray on 2nd guitar, Jay Dee Daugherty on drums and Tony Shanahan on bass and keyboards. This group of musicians is perfect for Patti, not a GREAT rock band, but REALLY GOOD at what they do…very dynamic. Patti pulled out a clarinet for a couple songs and squawked on it…this even sounded good! Patti Smith is really not that good looking of a lady but she has a strange presence about her. She can dance and move in a very sexy way and then turn and spit… She wore very tatter clothing with a peace symbol scrawled in marker across her chest and made this look HOT!… She was very happy but sang of troubling things… and when she sang… well let’s just say the only word that come to mine is POSESSED! So with her views and the way she gets them across so eloquently I tend to think she should be named the first “Saint of Rock n’ Roll!
I’m sorry I missed the night before, at the Catalyst, when P.J. Harvey performed… I here it was GREAT. But P.J. owes alot to Patti for forging the way and enabling her to do the music she does today.
Ken Stringfellow, Cafe Du Nord 8/07/04
The show on Saturday, with the man with the perfect name for a guitar/piano player…Ken Stringfellow, at the classy Cafe Du Nord in San Francisco was another fun one! We showed up early and the opener was doing a sound check. We all instantly thought it was Ken cuz this band sounded like Ken’s “other” project The Posies! We looked and saw it was the opener, Junior Panthers and when back to our bar seats. We thought “This is kinda weird ..a Posies tribute band opening for Ken! We didn’t give this band anymore of a listen than that… didn’t do much for us at all. Then Ken came out and did his solo set of mostly new material, off his new album, Soft Command. Most of the set he accompanied himself on piano but did about 4 or 5 songs on guitar also. This guy is a GREAT singer/songwriter with a great stage presents. His in-between song banter was VERY spaced out this night…most of which could not be understood by any of us! He might have been going off verbally cuz of the offensive loud babbling in the bar by LOTS of regulars who were there only to drink and babble and didn’t give a crap about Ken’s music. Give a listen to Ken’s new album… it has influences from Harry Nilisson to Randy Newman and The Beach Boys.. GREAT ALBUM!
Then, Oranger, the headliners came out and AGAIN we thought this band sounded like the Posies! We didn’t give them much attention either, cuz our pal, Raymond, introduced us to Ken ( he’s known him for awhile) and we were talking to him and eating cupcakes a fan had given him…VERY tasty! Ken had told us he might be doing a song with Oranger, but the way he had talked rather negatively of them in his rantings during his set, we really couldn’t understand this. We are sitting there talking to him and, all of a sudden, he splits without even a goodbye and heads for the stage. We do the same right behind him to watch! He jumps up on stage and the band goes right into what I find out later is Buffalo Springfield’s Down To The Wire. But this was NOT the Buffalo Springfield rendition! This was Screaming Jay Hawkins meets James Brown doing the song VERY HARD! It was SO GOOD! Then they go right into The Association’s Never My Love… This was the PERFECT rendition! Just like the original! Ken’s voice was great with pretty good backup voicals by the band. THEN to top off the set, was another cover, The Monkee’s The Porpoise Song! it was fantastic with a 5 or MAYBE 10 minute weaving guitar solo by Ken and the two guitarist in Oranger. We all just looked at each other and said “WOW”! We were VERY glad we waited the band out. I talked to Ken’ a little more after the set, to ask him about writing with Alex Chilton and the new Big Star album they just finished, and he just said “You will love it”.
I KNOW I will!
Be sure to check out ALL Posies albums if you haven’t all ready… their stuff is SO GOOD!
The MotherTruckers, Mulligan’s 7/31/04
Hey All- Well I am FINALLY getting around to writing my review to a couple of the best shows I’ve see as of late. On Thurs July 29th we went up to SF to check out a new group called the MUTUAL ADMIRATION SOCIETY. Now, this group consists of Glen Phillips lead singer of Toad The Wet Sprocket ( GREAT BAND! Check ’em out!) and the innovative young bluegrass /pop trio Nickel Creek (GREAT BAND! Check ’em out!). But for this special tour they added a bass player and a drummer. But not just ANY bass player and drummer. Along for the ride was John Paul Jones, from a little known band called Led Zeppelin, and Pete Thomas drummer from Elvis Costello and the Attractions! Now even WITHOUT this PREMIERE Rhythm section, this band would simply amaze you with great harmonies and jazz-like solos on the fiddle, acoustic guitar and mandolin, respectively. But add these two legends and you now have one of the best bands I have EVER seen! The show was pretty much split up to include a good portion of Glen Phillips/Toad songs and another good portion of Nickel Creek songs. In addition, add in the covers of the Beatles “Taxman” and Led Zeppelin’s “Goin’ To California” (done instrumentally, just John Paul Jones on mandolin and Sean Watkins of Nickel Creek on acoustic guitar) and “Gallow Pole” ( done with the FULL band…AMAZING!!), and a couple of great Randy Newman songs. But the real star of the show was Chris Thile, the young mandolin player from Nickel Creek. This guy is just one of the most talented players I’ve ever seen. A veritable “Hendrix” of his instrument, he just over-shadows all the other players. Glen is a GREAT singer, Sean is a great acoustic guitarist, Sara is a great fiddle player, John Paul is an OUTSTANDING bass player…but put Chris in front of them doing what he does on mandolin and you just don’t notice the other players as much.
I REALLY wish I would have talked this one up more to you guys …it was a sold out show at the independent cub, with their wonderful state-of-the-art sound system and was a show I wish you all could have seen! If you are REALLY lucky people they will NOT make this band a “once in a lifetime” event!
THEN on Sat July 31st a gang of us went to one of the worst venues I have EVER had to see a band perform at to see the MOTHER TRUCKERS. This club, Mulligan’s in Redwood City, is a nice enuff little bar and grill BUT IT IS NOT MADE FOR ROCK SHOWS!!! Please Mike tell the fellas that put on this show for the station to find another place to do benefits at. This show should have been done down the street at the Little Fox! But even as uncomfortable as this show was, the Truckers again pulled it off and impressed all that were in attendants. This band is a MUST for us all to see, here in the Bay Area, while we still can, cuz if it were up to me they would be on a record label touring the world! But they are not signed to a label so, at the moment, they are just the BEST band in the Bay Area! The soon to be married couple of Josh Zee and Teal Collins are so good. Great harmonies, RIPPING guitar solos and Teals voice…oh yeah… TEALS VOICE! This lady can REALLY belt it out ! And she plays a mean ukulele too! Add a great pedal steel player and a rock hard rhythm section and you have The Mother Truckers. There original songs are excellent, irreverent and funny. They are country/ rock.. with an accent on the rock…hence the covers of AC/DC’s “TNT” and Led Zep’s “Rock n ‘Roll”! PLEASE DO NOT MISS THIS BAND BEFORE THEY ARE TOO BIG FOR THE LITTLE CLUBS!!!
Calexico, Music in the Park San Jose 7/17/04
Hey Everybody! Had the chance to check out Calexico for free on Cesar Chavez Park in San Jose last night. This was the second time I’ve seen this band and as I watched them I thought to myself, “This is what Americana music is ALL ABOUT!” This band is just IT… guitars… acoustic, Mosrite, Dan Electro, up-right bass and PEDAL STEEL! Vibes, cheesy synths, drums and HORNS!!! Calexico does American music SO WELL…mixing in elements of Hispanic music and making what you could call …the “Southwest Sound”. This band is from Tuson, Arizona, and they bring the beauty of the desert with them where ever they go! Along with all their wonderful originals they included covers of Love’s “Alone Again Or” and a song from the infamous LA punk band, The Minutemen. I did not recognize this cover but it WAS one of the best songs of the set! The show was sponsored by KFOG and one can only hope that they will start playing this band a little more than once a week!
If you get the chance, they will be at The Filmore TONIGHT with the brilliant Neko Case…SEE THIS BAND!!!
Sarah McLachlan, the Shark Tank (HP Pavilion) San Jose 7/9/04
Hey all- Well… Even thou I missed the REALLY cool show in LA( Ask Bobby about the Gram Parsons Tributes last Fri and Sat!),I just thought I would give you a little review of the Sarah McLachlan show last Friday night at HP Pavillion (aka the Shark Tank!). Sarah being one of Holly’s favorite artist, I had snagged a couple REALLY GREAT seats when tickets went up for sale about 4 months ago. Two rows up from the floor and the first section from the stage made these seats ALMOST as good as the seats I had for the Prince show! We got there early enuff to see the opener Butterfly Boucher (She does a cool cover/duet with Bowie of his “Changes” on the Shriek 2 soundtrack…but there was not a mention of this at the show!) This young lady is a very cool pop singer/songwriter/bass player with a pretty good band backing her up. We liked her set quite a bit and I might just pick up her album if I find a cheap used copy! Sarah set was close to 2 hours long and VERY dynamic. Everything from the quietest acoustic ditty to fully distorted din. Her song “Witness”, one of my favs, was just perfect with it’s distorted fuzz guitar backing. She rearranged most all her songs to be just different enough to notice… some were very different! But these new arrangements were just so nice that it didn’t even matter… it was just really cool! The intro to the song “Hold On” was her rendition of “You Are My Sunshine”…and it worked! She did most all of her hits and then some. The songs off the new album sounded better than the album. With a couple encores, including a cover of the Beatles “Blackbird”, this ended up being a really Terrific show! I think I might just wanna see her again some time.
The Chocolate Watchband, Little Fox 7/01/04
Hey ya’all- Frank and I went and checked out the Chocolate Watch Band reunion show at the Little Fox in Redwood city last night. The opening band was a 20-something trio called The Invasion. They did British invasion covers like Yardbirds, Count 5, etc. They did a cool cover of The Beatles “Sgt. Peppers Lonley Hearts Club Band/ A little Help From My Friends”…Frank thought it was “missing” something but I thought it sounded GREAT!!! Then the Watch Band came out and these guys are in their 50’s… one of the dudes looked as if he was a “grand dad” and had to be nudged awake at times! But they REALLY ended up pulling it off. The lead singer could kick it out pretty good after all these years ( this bands prime was 1964 thru 1967!). He was sorta a Mick Jagger sound-a-like in the old days and still rocked pretty good! He also dragged out an instrument called a Therimin… this thing is the instrument that makes the “scary” sounds in old horror flicks. I wanna get one of these things! It is so cool…you just plug it in and wave your hands over it and in squeals for you! The lead guitarist had went with the times and now has a guitar synthesizer, which enabled him to do stuff like “Backward” guitar solos! VERY COOL! About 3/4 of the set was pretty tight, but the other 1/4 you noticed they were having some little problems. After the set we found out they had just ONE rehearsal before the show and had not played together for quite a while! This tidbit made the show THAT much more impressive. They also did a cover of Lucinda Williams, GREAT song “Essence”, to show they dug cool “new” music too… but they barely pulled it off and it just made me wanna hear Lucinda do it. They play again Saturday at Brookdale Lounge in the Santa Cruz mountains and in Downtown San Jose for the 4th of July hoards on Sunday…
This is a historic band… I recommend seeing them if you like 60’s pop/ psych music.
Asylum Street Spankers, Moe’s Alley 6/16/04
Hello all- just wanted to chime in on the Asylum Street Spankers show the other night at Moe’s alley in Santa Cruz. I’ve now come to the realization that when seeing this band you will get something different EVERY time. It may one time just be a new drummer ( last time it was the addition of drummer Scott Marcus from the one of the GREATEST Austin, TX bands, Glass Eye!) or maybe the “coming into his own” of the new guitarist ( Nevada Newman is VERY MUCH an important part of this band as of now). But the other night a few things were different. To start off Scott, the drummer, had a family emergency so he was gone. So Wammo and the new fiddle player filled in on drums. it worked out fine and you really didn’t even notice. But when this new fiddle player( his name is “Sick”!) played fiddle, he was even BETTER that the fella he replaced! He didn’t have the personality of the old fiddle player but he sure had the chops! Then there was the new piano player. For those of you who have not yet had the privilege of “experiencing” The Spankers, they have never had a piano player! So this was something VERY NEW. It add a layer of “Class” that the band has never had. This piano player, Reese Gray, was something to be ssen to believed! To watch and listen to him was like seeing old footage from the 30’s. He is the REAL thing! And a GREAT singer also. So the show over all was as wonderful as the other 3 or so time I’ve seen them but another new thing was the use of the “demon electricity”! YES they have decided to plug in because they want to start playing bigger theaters and can’t do this without electricity. They did have some sound problems but I’m sure that will be straightened out in the future.
PLEASE, those of you who have been putting off seeing this band… NOW IS THE TIME! The piano player will not be in the band for long…
SEE THEM SOON!!!
Franz Fredinand, The Grand 6/04/04
We checked out this band from Scotland called FRANZ FERDINAND last Friday night at a really classy venue in San Fran called The Grand . It was a building built around 1910 and nicely restored. Sort of like the Great American Music Hall only smaller. So we missed the opening band (The Blood Arm) cuz we were having beers at a “dive” bar next store to the Grand. This bar had THE BEST jukebox I’ve seen in a LONG TIME… Dead Boys, George Jones, The Meters, James Brown,The Sonics…very cool! So by the time we got in it was time for the second band Sons and Daughters, also from Scotland, to come on. This band was very minimal in their playing, no lead guitar, some mandolin and VERY TIGHT! Kinda sounded like new wave WIRE meets FLEETWOOD MAC! I will be checking out some of their recordings soon! Then came FRANZ FERDINAND these Scottish blokes, while performing, look as if they wanted to be the Wonders from that movie “That Thing You Do” ! REALLY Poppy with great guitar interplay between the two lead singers. They trade off leads singing and guitar, and at times I hear the Stranglers…if the Stranglers sang happier songs! You also here other late 70’s/early 80’s influences… like XTC, quite a bit. This band writes some of the coolest upbeat pop song around right now… They were just signed to Sony records a couple months ago and you can pick up their new CD pretty cheap at most CD store right now.
EVERY song is GREAT on this disc!
Prince, The Shark Tank 6/1/04
Hey everybody! The Prince show was just FANTASTIC! We just got REALLY lucky and got the BEST seats in the house! 4th row (which really ended up being 2nd row!) right in front of the runway in which the mighty Purple One would stand to play his guitar and sing! rather than do my regular review, I’ve decided to just pick apart the Mercury’s Brad Kava… here is his remarks… Prince turned San Jose’s Shark Tank into a giant funk factory Tuesday night, with people dancing on up into the rafters.
After being announced by a videotape of Alicia Keys inducting him to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, this Minneapolis soul maestro’s theater in the round at the H-P Pavilion made for great intimate visuals from almost every seat.
You could clearly see his pencil moustache, his cufflinks, his black tuxedo top and his slick, but restrained dance moves. (The floating bed and strip show are long in the past.)
I’m kinda glad I missed the daze of the bed and strip show… even if Prince IS a good looking man, I got a look at enuff “man-skin” for A LIFETIME at the Extreme Elvis show!
But for a good chunk of the two-hour and 40 minute show, this ever trim, seemingly ever young performer, lost a battle with a tin-roofed shed better suited for hockey than music.
HUH!?! From were we were sitting the sound was not too bad for a HUGH concert…I’ve heard A LOT worse!!!
Which was a pity, because in previous appearances at San Jose’s 7,000 seat Event Center and the 1,000-capacity Fillmore, his big band made funk that was as skillfully played as a Miles Davis jazz opus and as rich and deep as as a Mozart score.
Now at the Event Center show, I WAS WAY IN THE BACK of the hall…and it ROCKED, but the sound SUCKED! Maybe poor Brad just got bad seats as the Shark tank and was a little cranky about it!
All that may have been there in the Pavilion, but it was hard to tell, particularly in the first set, which included hits such as “Let’s Go Crazy,” “I Would Die 4 U,” “I Feel for You” and the new song “Musicology.” The bass and drums trundled around the ceiling like an out of control hockey puck; the horns were shrill and the vocals were so overblown it was hard to make the words out.
I guess they just mixed the show for me! Sound was pretty good! During this part of the show Prince did “covers” of two songs he had written for other artists… “I feel For You” which he wrote for Chaka Kahn and “Glamourous Life” which he wrote foe Sheila E… both were done the way only prince can do it! EXCELLENT!
The band ,whoever he has playing with him at that moment, was brilliant! Candy Dulfer (who, Frank tells me has some GREAT solo albums out on her own!) and Maceo Parker ( From James Brown fame) on sax were great! Of course I go to a prince show to hear the man rock his guitar. And I got a lot of that! His playing and singing were just in TOP form!
It brought to mind a cartoon by Gary Larson about what dogs hear when we speak: “Blah, blah, blah, blah, Fido, blah, blah, blah.” Here it was: “Thud, thud, thud, thud, on the one, thud, thud, thud.” The one melted into the two, three and four, and the whole thing was a sad, overcooked stew instead of the crisp, tight sound you’d get in a place with better acoustics.
This review is starting to remind me of that cartoon…
To his credit, the artist, who turns 46 Monday, broke it down after the first loud hour with a 40 minute, stunningly beautiful acoustic set. Dressed in white pants and a polka dot shirt, he sat in the middle of a stage shaped like a big cross, on a barstool that spun, and crooned with only an acoustic guitar.
This was the low point of the show..Princes song don’t REALLY lend that well to an acoustic set…
It was funkman as folk singer, and it was as crafty as it was surprising. In every show this musician has done something to stretch his audience’s expectations and show off a new aspect of his musical ability. This set was another new twist.
I think he has been rather afraid to do “solo acoustic” for a long time…he has just started to do this in the last few years! He needs to keep the FUNK UP!
He ran through an almost Bob Dylan-like “Little Red Corvette,” which was a wonderful turnaround on one of his most played funk hits. He led a singalong during “Cream” and pulled out a masterful “On the Couch” from the new “Musicology” album that was included with every ticket and handed out as fans entered the arena.
He pulled out a song from his own high school years, Chaka Khan’s “Sweet Thing” and added a taste of “Raspberry Beret.”
He took a sidestep on a cover of Elvis Presley’s “Jail House Rock,” throwing out three lines and stopping. “We can be Prince, but we don’t want to be no King,” he joked.
On the Couch was GREAT, Sweet Thing was very cool… just wish he would have REALLY done Jail House Rock… it sounded GREAT! But this was just a little too long at around 8 songs… half of them were good and he should have stopped there!
He censored a few swear words here and there, cupping his microphone during a bluesy “12:01,” and when this now religious Jehovah’s Witness sang about “going down south” and drew hoots from the audience, he laughed and added, “down south to Mississippi.”
When he came back electric, he brought his VERY LARGE keyboard player out to do a cover of Sam and Dave’s “Soul Man” and just rocked it hard!!
The band returned for “Sign O’ The Times,” “The Question of U/The One” and Alicia Keys’ “Fallin”’ and “Take Me With You” with either the sound a bit less muddled, or our ears so numb from the earlier blasts that it didn’t matter anymore. You could make out the changed lyrics to the encore, “Purple Rain,” imploring listeners to “Open up your Bible and thank your god one more time.”
The purple guitar, played Carlos Santana style, added to the spiritual moment shared by an audience that truly reflected the diversity of the Bay Area, mixing ages and races more than any other show in recent memory.
“Carlos Santana style”? I didn’t here that! Guess he was just dreaming about the LAST time Prince played San Jose when Carlos came out and did “Soul Sacrifice” with him!
On their way out, they were ripping open CDs getting them ready for a play on the way home. It was nice that he gave everyone a free CD. I wish next time he’d give us all tickets to a smaller theater or a sound system that can make a hockey tank sound like a music hall.
This was just the kind of show I NEED to see if I am going to have to pay such high prices. If my seat is close to front row, the performance is great, the sound is good, the players rock and you get a CD, well…
I guess I’d be willing to pay for it…once in a while…
Anybody willing to pay $400.00 to see Madonna?
Just thought I’d ask!
Los Lobos, The Catalyst 5/27/04
So I had seen this band two times before… once many years ago at the old San Jose convention center downtown. This was right after LA BAMBA and they did ALOT of Hispanic stuff ALL the “homies” were there and they sang along,in Spanish (of course), to every song! It was a GREAT show and I was impressed. Then about three monthes ago I saw them again with my pal, and HUGH Los Lobos fan, Mike. This show, at the BIG Fox in Redwood City, was primarily a acoustic show done through lots of amps. They did a DEAD cover, a little jamming, some hits, sounded VERY good and opener Lila Downs blew a lot of people away! AGAIN I was impressed and Mike told me that you never knew what kind of set you would be getting from Los Lobos and that I should see one of their Catalyst shows in Santa Cruz some time.
The show opener was a Santa Cruz rockabilly band trio called, The Chop Tops. Pretty good stuff but everytime I see a rockabilly band I just find my self wishing I would have been around in the day to see Gene Vincent or Johnny Burnette and the Rock n’ Roll Trio… NOBODY can do what those guys did! But they were fun and the guitarist was influenced by, my favorite guitarist. Chris Spedding!
From the minute Los Lobos came out they just ROCKED… ROCKED the fast songs, ROCKED the jams, ROCKED the slow songs. To show how hard they ROCKED… they did a blistering cover of Hendrix’s “Are You Experienced?”! They just didn’t stop! This is a THREE guitar attack… three REALLY GOOD lead AND rhythm players! Steve Berlin on sax and keyboard textures… lots of layers and textures in general from all the guys in the band… There really wasn’t much “hit song” action…they just ROCKED! Mike has see this band 6 or 8 time, I think, and he said this was THE BEST show he had seen them do! It was one of the best shows overall that I’ve seen too! By ANY band. You never know what kind of a show you will get from Los Lobos… and we got one even BETTER than their NORMAL shows!!
These guys LOVE the Catalyst… see them there if you get the chance!
Extreme (-ly inadequate!) Elvis, The Blank Club, San Jose 5/15/05
SO… just where to start… we had heard the rumors about this guy… and we went ANYWAY!! Call us BRAVE…call us just plain STUPID… let’s just say it was an interesting way to spend a Saturday night. The Marching band came out first, not 40 strong, but a good 20 players at least. They were cool… lots of talent there, 2 drummers, 3 more percussionists. But then Elvis came out… I think his clothes came off before he was done with the first song of this Black Sabbath tribute show. Within a few songs he had urinated off the stage onto the dance floor. (I keep thinking that hiring a guy like this REALLY lowers my respect for the club owner. I mean, who do you send out after the show to clean up? I think I feel differently now about the guy who sets these show up.) At this point Elvis is running through the packed crowd rubbing his sweaty, obese, buck naked body on everybody! Girls AND boys! He REALLY likes to get people cornered who can’t get away and make out with them… he came close to us a few times and I was sort of frightened he would want to get intimate with me! We escaped without getting ANY of his bodily fluids on us. But people on either side of us were not so lucky. Well, it depends how you look at it. The well endowed young lady on my right was there for the sole purpose of GETTING him to do something to her! And he did… grabbing and pulling down her blouse and sticking his face in between her fully exposed breasts… and she was in heaven! Incidentally, it was her birthday. But really, the marching band was GREAT! OH! And the scantily clad Vegas style dancing girls with rifles doing cool choreography to the “brass” Sabbath renditions was mildly interesting. All the while Elvis would continue to undulate on the floor and rub more sweat on all his adoring fans. BUT REALLY, the marching band was a pretty awesome group!
As my buddy Frank said, “You’ve got to hand it to him – the presentation is unique. I’ll even give him an A for effort. But on the entertainment meter, I can only score the Extreme Elvis experience a C+ at best, and that’s giving generous marks for the “freak show” factor. I’d move my grade up to a B- if Elvis would just keep his pants on and quit acting like a classless a**hole.” I tend to agree. The guy has NOTHING to show off. No talent for sure and he definitely gives a whole new meaning to the the term “Little Elvis”! I was thinking last night about other “exhibitionists” I have seen over the years, Iggy Pop and Buck Naked, himself, come to mind. Iggy’s talent and charisma made him lovable, even if he was pushing “himself” back into his fly the whole night. Buck Naked was just a class act who would keep his guitar in just the right place the whole set. But this guy could not even spell the word CLASS… take my word for it…don’t go see this act.
BUT MAN, COULD THAT MARCHING BAND BLOW THE BRASS OFF THEIR TOOLS!
Camper Van Beethoven, Tower Records, Mountain View 5/18/04
Hey all- So I ended going to The Camper Van Beethoven free show alone… showed up at 6PM and there was NOBODY there! They started playing within 15 minutes and people started to trickle in by then…over all I think about 30 people showed up.
The band played “kinda” acoustic… no drums, vocals and acoustic guitar, fiddle, electric guitar and bass… but very clean sound, no distortion! They did about 30 or 40 minutes worth of tunes, all old stuff from the first few albums… “Take The Skinheads Bowling” and “The Day Lassie Went To The Moon”… stuff like that. They sounded good but I really like this band FULL THROTTLE AND LOUD… so it was just a laid back performance. The show in SF this weekend should be GREAT! The singer, David Lowery, also fronts the band, CRACKER, which will be opening the show! Must be a little tiring to play in the opening band AND the headliner! He is looking a wee bit worn these days!
They got 3 pretty cool new tunes available on Itunes right now…Check ’em out!
Sparks, The Independent, San Francisco 4/09/04
Hey all- Well… It took me a few days to get around to writing this…
I was a little spaced after getting home around 2AM the morning after SPARKS… the show was really a lot better than I could have imagined! It has been about 14 years since the last time the Mael brothers were in the Bay Area so all I had to work off of, as far as how their shows are, were the glowing reviews from concerts around the world.
The opening act was singer/songwriter/violinist, Lili Haydn and this set was very interesting! The band consisted of a synth player, tabla player and Lili and they showed us what a great set of Alternative/New Age music should sound like…I recommend her new album “Light Blue Sun”…it is not quite as hard edged as the live show but very good nonetheless.
The Sparks show consisted of two sets… First, the new album “Lil’ Beethoven” was performed in its entirety and second, a set of all their “near hits”. The band consisted of Ron on keyboards and drab facial expressions, Russell on vocals and sharp dressed dancing, Tami Glover on drums and vocals, and the GREAT added surprise of Dean Menta (of the SF band Faith No More) on guitar and vocals. They used LOTS of taped music tracks to fill in what the members could not cover. You really NEED to hear “Lil’ Beethoven” to understand this…it is basically a sarcastic Wagnerian hip hop rock opera. They used a very cool minimalist video back drop… minimalist is the key word for this amazing piece of work!
The second set consisted of a lot of their old songs…from 1972 up to the 80’s… they overlooked a lot of their great tunes from the 90’s but it really didn’t matter. It was just so good to see them performing with a guitarist! To hear them doing these old songs was just a treat!
And it was VERY well done… this show was far better than the times I saw the band in the late 80’s early 90’s…primarily due to the inclusion of the “Lil’ Beethoven” set… I liked this album before the show but now I understand why a lot of reviewers are calling it the BEST SPARKS ALBUM EVER! Being a Sparks fan of old I’m not sure if I agree… but at least now I understand where they are coming from.
NRBQ, The Little Fox, Redwood City 3/12/04
Hey Everybody- The NRBQ show at the little Fox in Redwood City turned out to be a little more interesting than expected. After surviving through an opening act that might have been THE WORST singer/songwriter I have EVER heard, NRBQ came out to a PACKED house of fans and blew us away! This band is just something you have got to see… bass, drums and guitar that are just the most perfect rock band you could see and then there is Terry Adams on keyboards…slapping, pounding, tinkling… from jazz to boogie woogie to straight rock and anything else you would wanna hear. This guy is THE MOST entertaining keyboardist you can see. Half their set was songs they wrote between 1970 to present, the other half was covers of pop songs you may or may not remember… about half way into the set they brought out Bonnie Raitt to do about 5 songs with them. Including their song “Me and The Boys” (covered in the late 70’s by Dave Edmunds) and the Rolling Stones’ “This Will Be The Last Time”. They also did a couple of pop songs from the 50’s/60’s I don’t remember the names of. Bonnie was just GREAT singing at her best and playing bottle-neck slide guitar on all the tunes. After she left the stage, the boys went on for another half hour or so and then ended with 3 encores!
This was a show to remember!
Blue Oyster Cult, The Catalyst, Santa Cruz 3/08/04
Hey Everybody! Well the Blue Oyster Cult show at the Catalyst in Santa Cruz last night was GREAT! As opposed to last years show at the same venue. This time around the fellas were in really good spirits and VERY INTO doing a show! Everything from the classics like “Godzilla”, “The Reaper” and “I’m Burnin’ For You” to A LOT of old stuff and songs rarely heard live. Again, this time all the guys had equipment problems, BUT the difference was they didn’t let it get in the way…they just ROCKED!!! I had brought with me a rare BOC promo jacket given to me by my pal Tom Mix (Ex-KSJO DJ GOD), and I got the chance to meet lead singer Eric Bloom and I had him sign it. My buddy Fred got his custom BOC jacket signed also! Meeting Eric was a little disenchanting though… When you think of Eric Bloom you think of a “HEAVY METAL GOD”…kinda like the members of KISS, only without the make-up…wrap-around sunglasses, black leather, windmilling a guitar shaped like the famous BOC logo… so when a little guy about 5′ 5” walks up and looks, sounds and acts like Billy Crystal…well you get the picture. I think I will continue to remember him as the “Harvester Of Eyes”!!!
The Zombies, The Independent, San Francisco 2/29/04
WOW! WHAT A SHOW! Here we have a band that broke up 37 YEARS AGO, and they played with the energy and emotion of a bunch of kids! Colin Blunstone has got to be one of the SMOOTHEST voices in rock history! Rod Argent’s keyboard playing was at its peek…this guy blends the prog rock style of playing just right with a pop sensibility. Just listen to the song “Roses for Emily” off the GREAT Zombies album “Odyessy and Oracle”. They did this song, along with many others from this album, and the beauty and emotion of this piece made me weep like a little girl! I had never heard this song or album before this show. I WAS BLOWN AWAY!!! Then they hit us with all the the big ones…”Time of the Season”, “She’s Not There”, “Tell Her No”, as well as great Argent solo songs like “Hold Your Head Up” and “God Gave Rock ‘N’ Roll To You”. The band was just fantastic, with all the energy and great playing you could dream of. Keith Airie was the perfect choice for replacement guitarist. Argent co-founder and long time member of the Kinks, Jim Rodford, was the only man to fill the shoes of bass player. Jim also brought along his son Steve to fill in as drummer. Everybody in the band lent their vocal talents to what was a wonderful mix of harmonies.
It took us AN HOUR to find a parking place…but it was well worth it!
IF THEY COME BACK YOU MUST SEE THIS BAND!!!