Showing posts with label music. Show all posts
Showing posts with label music. Show all posts

U2 and The Lumineers Perform at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey

It was a picturesque day. Sunny and cool. We loaded up the SUV and headed west over the bridge past the New Jersey State Fair to a nearly empty parking lot. We were early. The anticipation of seeing The Lumineers and U2 reached a crescendo as we sat in folding chairs looking at the entrance to MetLife Stadium with the clear blue sky dotted only by passing airplanes.

U2 performs at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey on June 28, 2017. (NJ.com)

Seeing U2 perform was on my bucket list as the band's canon of music has provided a soundtrack for much of my past. The addition of The Lumineers to the bill was serendipitous as I missed seeing them last summer at the Prospect Park Bandshell and the Ommegang Brewery in Cooperstown, NY.

We were seated in section 116 adjacent to the sound stage. The sound was perfect during The Lumineers performance, but hit some dissonance during U2's With or Without You that resulted in minor deductions from the judges.

Each front man shared personal stories that made this live performance particularly memorable. Wesley Schultz of The Lumineers reminisced about growing up in New Jersey prior to moving across the river to Brooklyn. His car was broken into for reasons that escaped him as his radio was still intact. It was during his next river crossing when he realized the thieves made off with his E-ZPass. The episode inspired the song Slow It Down.

The Lumineers perform at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey on June 28, 2017. (Twitter/The Lumineers)

Bono wove his well-known political endeavors into the performance and paid particular homage to the band's special guests. He named each of their spouses and children and thanked them for being there before launching into Ultraviolet (Light My Way) that featured a montage of famous women throughout history.

As luck would have it, I brought two remarkable women with me for this unforgettable show.


Say Hello 2 Heaven Chris Cornell and Gregg Allman

I hopped in the back of pick-up truck and sped toward Manhattan for the much anticipated Guns N' Roses concert. We had just finished our shifts at IHOP and two of the waitresses had changed out of their blue plaid frocks into fishnet tights and black leather jackets. Their lips were painted ruby red and their friends provided the transportation along with a case of beer. One of my fellow refugees was not going for Guns, he was going to see the opening band Soundgarden. He had on a Badmotorfinger t-shirt that was well worn.

Chris Cornell performs in 1992.

That concert was my introduction to Soundgarden and the emerging Seattle music scene. I can still hear Chris Cornell shake the walls of Madison Square Garden as my neck snapped back and forth with each passing rocker chick who left nothing to my teenage imagination. I would hear that same booming voice again some years later when Audioslave played atop the marquee of The Late Show with David Letterman  and shook the neighboring building were I worked 32 stories above.

News of Chris Cornell's passing was shocking. He was the beacon that led the way for the tumultuous talent in flannel shirts who occupied the nation from coast to coast for more than a decade. Chris Cornell had a voice. Not only to shake the concrete walls where he performed, but also to carry the beleaguered hearts of his generation. His lament for the loss of his friend Andrew Wood on the Temple of the Dog album is eerie as it is a fitting eulogy for himself: There's just one thing left to be said, Say hello to heaven.

There's Nobody Left to Run With Anymore

With zero time to comprehend the loss of Chris Cornell, we were hit with the passing of Gregg Allman. I've lost count of how many Allman Brothers shows I've seen and how transported I was at each one across each state I visited. There is one show that stands out. It was not due to the sheer power of Gregg Allman's voice, rather it was due to its absence.

Gregg Allman and Cher circa 1975.

It was late morning in the summer of 1995 when my phone rang. My friend broke the news that Jerry Garcia had passed. I met my friend at our familiar spot and friends dropped by at various times to grieve the loss along with us. We went to the Allman Brothers show that night at Jones Beach where the crowd was in a somber mood. 

The Allman Brothers took the stage and Dickey Betts addressed the crowd by saying, "We lost a brother today." It soon became apparent that Gregg Allman had lost his voice, so the band played many of the songs Dickey sang including Ramblin Man which they had retired after its chart topping success. The Black Crowes were in town and the Robinson brothers joined the band for a spirited rendition of Southbound. Gregg did manage to to sing No One to Run With that featured a montage of fallen musicians with the recently added Jerry Garcia. 

As I look at my music shelf, a good percentage of it comprises Chris Cornell and Gregg Allman records. The impact these musicians had on my life can be measured in decades. I take comfort in knowing they left behind many recordings and I imagine the choir of angels has gotten even better.    

LP Into The Wild

Laura Pergolizzi, aka LP, has a smash hit, Into The Wild,  that seems to be on constant replay in my home courtesy of Citi's commercial that features a woman climbing up a steep and stony precipice before reaching its pinnacle. This image may well personify LP's career at the moment.

LP


I met LP around the time her second album, Suburban Sprawl and Alcohol, was released. She performed at my cousin's wedding, which was held on a perfectly manicured lawn of an old estate in Huntington, NY. It was a beautifully simple ceremony where she played her guitar and sang while the bride approached among rows of folding chairs with properly attired people like a scene from The Great Gatsby.
When the ceremony concluded, LP played the new couple and their guests off the lawn and in to the manor where a sushi station and well-provisioned bars were propped up in meandering, palatial rooms. It was at one of these bars where I introduced myself to LP as my uncle walked by with an accusatory glance.

LP
I think it was her suggestion to wander the estate and we did as children exploring something for the first time. We discovered the courtyard from a balcony under which a young couple was kissing and then we darted off down a corridor to the master bedroom, which was serving as the bridal suite. There was an open bottle of champagne and another one in reserve, so we helped ourselves. She produced her guitar that had been stored there earlier for safe-keeping and played me one of her songs. I was struck then as I am now with how easy and naturally music emanates from LP. She seems to possess the spirit of Edith Piaf, a songbird of another era. When she finished, she handed her guitar to me and I played her one of my originals, which she said she liked or at least that's how I choose to remember it.

Later, when they were packing up the bars and people were searching for the keys to their cars, I found LP sitting near my mother and my aunt and they asked her to play them a song as if it were a line from Piano Man. She obliged and played the cover song of her knew album, Suburban Sprawl and Alcohol. I had a deeper appreciation of the song having discovered that she and I went to the same high-school earlier in the evening. It was beautifully written and authentic and I was hooked.

When I lived in Park Slope, I would catch her when she and her band played at Southpaw or at Mercury Lounge in the East Village. Her shows were as terrific then as I imagine they are now with a more intimate crowd. During one of her performances, when she engaged the audience, I shouted out our high school name and the year she graduated, which I dare not speak (think Mets). She found me after the performance and asked me not to do that again.

Now I'm a dad living in the suburbs and I still listen to LP's albums on my commutes to and from the city. They're as relevant now as they were before and as timeless as the artist herself who seems to age like Dorian Gray. It's about time the world knows LP. As they say in showbiz, overnight success usually takes about 15 years. Well, dear, to the victor goes the spoils.

LP with girlfriend Tamzin Brown.

LP - Into The Wild (Live):


Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, especially when the obligatory YouTube cover is from an American Idol contestant such as this one from Rebekah Devivo Ostro:



Work's an Easy Place to Fall in Love

I sure as hell ain't no Justin Bieber, but I am fascinated that this "music video" was shot on an iPhone and published to YouTube in the time it takes to fry an egg, although my eggs tend to be more palatable.

The days of recording on a four-track and then mixing tapes to play in the car or wherever else you had a "captive" audience are shrinking in the rearview mirror.



Thanks to my son, Shane, for contributing his background vocals on this track.

PS - Happy Birthday, Mom!

Time to Short Carrie Underwood

Having been on board since her American Idol win, I think it's time to short Carrie Underwood.

While I agreed with Simon Cowell's early prediction that Carrie would out sell Kelly Clarkson, I fear now that her lack of humility will cost her market share, much the way Clarkson's did when she spurned Clive Davis.

A friend of mine who lives in Nashville tells me Carrie has a reputation of being "hard to deal with" and her recent comments at the American Music Awards may give credence to it.

If you recall, Slash and Scott Weiland were announced as presenters of the award for Country Artist of the Year. As Slash came out, Simon Le Bon of Duran Duran, who had just finished performing, ran over and shook his hand. Then Slash walked up to the mic, took a drag of his cigarette and said with an air of self-deprecation, "they'll let anybody into this place." He then went on to say that Scott "was country before country was cool," paraphrasing the hit song with a hint of sarcasm before Scott, who looked like a leather clad skeleton, read the nominees.

When Carrie accepted the award, she said something to the effect that "had I known that Scott Weiland and Slash would be presenting this award, I'm not sure how I'd feel about it ... I love country music." After the dig sunk in, Scott gave an incredulous nudge to Slash, who was probably too busy staring at Carrie's legs to give a damn.

Need I remind Carrie that country hasn't always been Faith and Tim and billboards in Oklahoma of Garth Brooks' new babies. There are less degrees of separation than one might think between Slash (who can only be beat by the Devil in the new Guitar Hero) and the prescription drug addiction of Johnny Cash or President Reagan's pardon of Merle Haggard. One need only look at the lines on George Jones' face to know country artists haven't always been clean living, bible thumping debutantes. Carrie should give Lorrie Morgan a call and ask her about her late husband, Keith Whitley, or listen to Willie Nelson play Whiskey River in a bar filled with bikers and pot smoke if she truly loves country music.

While country fans are among the most loyal, I suspect Underwood will lose emerging fans to the likes of Kelly Pickler and her rumored boob-job and newcomer Julianne Hough of Dancing With the Stars fame, who I am bullish on. After all, without songwriters and musicians to back her, Underwood may be another pretty face with big pipes. I fear her lack of humility may have her riding shotgun in Britney's station wagon before she can say "damn y'all." Bright side is Slash will probably be waiting for her at the bar.

Amy Winehouse Is Gonna Straighten Your Ass Out

Listen up Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears! Amy Winehouse is gonna get on a plane, and she's gonna come out there for the day, and she's gonna straighten your ass out when she sees you. Do you understand me? She's gonna really make sure you get it. Then she's gonna get on a plane, she's gonna turn around and she's gonna come home. So you better be ready Friday the 20th to meet with her because she's gonna let you know just how she feels about what a rude little pig you really are. You are a rude, thoughtless little pig, okay!?!

Fergie's Glamorous Is Flossy Flossy

The first time I heard Fergie's Glamorous I was wearing a tuxedo with the bowtie in my pocket and ordering a Red Bull and vodka at the gentleman's club across from The Ed Sullivan Theater on Broadway that goes by the clever name of Flashdancers.

At the time, I didn't know it was Fergie. I wouldn't have expected it to be her. When I was last in L.A., the valley girls were using the term "Fergie Bad" to describe gross faux paus in vernacular and/or attire. And then my friend Ralph saw her on Lexington and 53rd and said she was short and had bad acne.

The short thing doesn't bother me and the acne usually befalls pretty girls after a night of clubbing, dancing ... which brings me back to the strip club and the stunning silhouette of a girl shaking her hips to the Glamorous, the flossy, flossy and my friend buying me a lap dance so I am ensconced in wickedly divisive perfume.

It was during American Idol, the one where Fergie appeared on the undercard with Prince. She was great, whatever she sang, but before she took the stage the girls in the room where I was watching the show were speculating that she might sing Glamorous and I asked them to sing the chorus and one of them did and I recognized the song and my nose filled with perfume.

I heard it on a narrow road in the misty Ring of Kerry and I heard it on Chambers Street when cutting crosstown from the Brooklyn Bridge to West Street. The same stretch where I heard My Humps the first time. Fergie made that track, but I still think of it as a Black Eyed Peas thing and there ain't nothing better than sipping a fantastic Bloody Mary on a golf course in Santa Barbara while the guy about to tee-off starts humming that song to relax and pepper ends up in your nose from a spontaneous guffaw.

I watch the video via the Web 2.0 and listen to it on my gaming speakers and not only enjoy it, I get it. "If you ain't got no money take your broke ass home" ain't a mantra for a gold digger, it's her dad's message that she'll always have a roof over her head, so she can go for it.

I wonder if the stripper on the pole at Flashdancers got that message or if after the four millionth time she released the hook on her bra while that song was on it has become white noise. Perhaps she too knows the evil nature of money is you can always add ... That's why I hate math, books have a conclusion. Blessedly, so does subtraction.

Thank you, Fergie! Thank you for making me look up the word flossy. Oh yeah, nice lady lumps, too.

Hunter S. Thompson Interviews Keith Richards

Check it out ... There's about ten seconds of choppy film in the beginning, then Keith Richards and Hunter S. Thompson mumble through memories of the sixties beside some healthy looking cannabis sativa. The actual interview runs about five minutes then segues into "Eileen" by Keith Richards and The Expensive Winos. Kudos to 88medicine88 for the post.

To the Left, to the Left

Everything you own in the box to the left.

I played Beyonce's Irreplaceable video on Yahoo! Launch a half dozen times this evening. Perhaps it's my impending departure from PR Newswire that makes it relevant, not that the corporation is a sugar mama who caught me driving another girl around in the car that it bought me, but more like I'm the scorned lover and you must not know bout me.

It's hard for me not to gush over everything Beyonce does, but this song is immensely beautiful, so much so that I am convinced Victoria's Secret should have had its models parade down the runway in a bra and hot curlers, but I don't think any of them are ready for this jelly.

Speaking of which, last night I sat on the couch and watched Gisele run to and from the catwalk in high definition, a brave new world even Huxley would enjoy. While it's true there is not a trace of cellulite on any of these ethereal specimens, there is only so long one can stare at Karolina Kurkova's cameltoe before feeling imbecilic, or gaze in wonder at Justin Timberlake's head, which is as perfectly round as a bowling ball. Not that I want to hurt him in anyway, but I can't shake the image of his head spinning in the ball return at Chelsea Piers; bringing sexy back, I guess.

Nor could I shake the image of Al Sharpton prancing down the catwalk wearing those angel wings, no doubt an amalgamation of the local news tease and effervescent eye candy. I neglected to mention I was smoking a fine Cohiba cigar and sipping a chilled Winterfest, which enhanced the juxtaposition of NYC outlawing trans fat, the Dunkin Donut's Fritalian jingle, and the filler of Gisele saying she wanted to wrap it up cause she was hungry. Naturally, I imagined her and the other models hitting up the drive thru at Taco Bell followed by the lipstick smirk of Channel 7's Bill Ritter saying with a simultaneous air of incredulity and twinkle in his eye that they all became sick due to the E. coli outbreak. Poor Adriana Lima, shown spitting up green onions with ripped hot sauce packs in her lap, but I digress. Has anyone seen Liz Cho?

To the left, to the left, everything you own in the box to the left.

So don't you ever for a second get to thinkin you're irreplaceable.

Open Mic

After not playing out for nearly a decade, I decided to go down to the open mic at Bar Four last night.

I have many romantic memories of this dimly lit lounge in Park Slope, only a few blocks from where I live. Among them is winding up there at the end of a neighborhood pub crawl, knowing it would stay open past four a.m. in spite of its moniker.

While the ambiance is still in tact, the addition of the stage has not only changed its landscape, it has heightened its vibe. One might say it feels like Williamsburg in the South Slope, but without an air of pretension, which is why I thought I'd give it a shot.

The place was crawling with talented musicians and I wondered if I was in over my head. I already made the mistake of eating a burrito beforehand and although it was tasty, it made me gassy, which is never a smart move prior to having microphones pointed at you. Of course ordering a beer to calm my nerves didn't help.

One of the musicians who played before me ripped off some delta blues reminiscent of Mississippi John Hurt and I wanted to split, just grab my gig bag and take off. After all, the biggest audience I had in the past year was my weeping fig tree and my girlfriend, who usually raises the volume on the TV when I play.

As if sensing my cold feet, the host, Tania Buziak, sought me out and reassured me that I belonged among those present. She confided in me that she still got nervous before playing, even at this, her own open mic. She said she was amazed at the remarkable growth some of the musicians have shown after a few appearances, and then, like casting a stone in a still pond, she reminded me that I was up next.

I grabbed my guitar and headed to the stage where I was greeted by the soundman, who was unaffected by the madness. I told him I can't decide whether to use the high-back chair or the stool, so he made an executive decision to go with the stool and then adjusted the equipment around me. I sat there strumming furiously trying to remember the words to these damn songs I wrote and then the monitors came up and I was off like a prom dress.

Thirty seconds in and I was sweating like a stuck pig. I dared not look at the audience, fearing they'd show me the contempt well known to fat, out of shape strippers who mercilessly solicit lap dances. After the first song, my shirt was soaked through and my mouth was as dry as the Gobi. I looked over my shoulder and winced to find my beer sitting on a ledge, way out of reach. With the adrenaline pumping, I pushed on through the second song, grateful two was the limit.

I finished to the obligatory applause of the crowd and hopped off the stool, eager to get out of Dodge. But before I packed up, the next act took the stage and I did not want to be rude by exiting during their performance. My eyes fixated on the nearby sit-down Galaga video game and a guy walked by me on his way to the bathroom and said, "good song, man."

Between sets I made my way out of the bar and contrasted the relief I felt walking home to the anxiety I felt on my way there. This thing that makes people write music and compels them to perform it is mysterious, but for every hack like me, there is a kindred soul who will one day enhance the human experience.

I'm certain there were plenty of seeds at Bar Four last night and the hosts tended to each of them like dutiful farmers. Who knows what will grow from it, but I'm pretty sure my contribution was fertilizer.

The Strokes

The Commute

I was standing center aisle on the subway, one hand on the pole, the other propping up my book, when this guy started yelling at the woman sitting next to him.

"Bitch, you better shut the fuck up; you don't know me; I'm sitting here, reading my book, I'll fucking hurt you; you don't understand, I'll fucking hurt you; I don't care if you're a woman; you gonna talk shit and you don't even know me."

I looked up from my book and the guy was flashing a mouthful of gold teeth in this girl's face. There was another lady to his left, who had a concealed dog in her purse that started barking.

"Ah, shit, now I'm making the dog cry; you don't know what kind of serious shit I'm capable of; you don't know who I am, let's keep it that way."

We pull into Jay Street where I cross the platform and make my connection. A mariachi was picking the guitar all precise and singing with his gal. When they were done, he went around hawking his CD.


The Strokes

I saw The Strokes at the Hammerstein Ballroom on Saturday night. The show had the electricity of Pearl Jam at the War Memorial in Rochester, N.Y., during the Five Against One tour.

The kids were going crazy. I had to have a couple of Red Bull and vodkas to keep up. Luckily, the bartender had a heavy hand. We hooked up during the Eagles of Deathmetal, who were good, just in a different league.

The Strokes came up on Manhattan's Lower East Side like modern day Ramones. This was their third show back from a month in Europe, where their last two stops were Dublin and Belfast, Ireland. And now they were home, eating well, smoking great dope. Casablancas actually looked like he showered and put on a clean shirt for the occasion. He said, "It's gonna be a real shit storm tonight. You guys are great!"

This cute girl was dancing in front of me, tight ass jeans, t-shirt, tilted cap. I tried to give her room, but she kept rubbing up against me like I was meant to sire her children. The Strokes hit us with everything they wrote. Man, it was tight, Razorblade, Someday, Last Night. The stage was drenched in purple haze with the crowd bubbling over like a pot of boiling water, and this girl kept thrusting her hips at me like I was a hula hoop. Later, outside on the curb, I saw her, but she looked away.

Speaking of Strokes

Life is Kirby Puckett, who played baseball with the kindred enthusiasm of a little leaguer. Who won championships. Who got hit in the eye socket by a fastball from his friend, Dennis Martinez. Who was elected to Baseball's Hall of Fame. Who died of a stroke at 45.

And the Award Goes to ...

Sure Keira Knightly and Salma Hayek were ravishing, but one cannot overlook Jessica Alba, and for all you haters out there who say that's the closest she'll ever get to an Oscar, she was sitting a few rows in front of Keanu Reeves.

Orange Crush, Yo!

L.A. Woman was a student at Pace not long ago and I, a guest at her table. She acted like my friend. She had talent.

I, a broken Chevy of a talent, watched her exploits on the stage, in film, music video and TV back before she was posing in her underwear on myspace.

One night, the Jimmy Kimmel show was on in the background when I heard a familiar voice. Jimmy and Kathy Lee Gifford were performing karaoke at a local bar and L.A. Woman was the emcee, wearing a rainbow-colored wig that reminded me of a snow cone.

Now I envision myself, dressed like Jack White, blowing into that bar. She doesn't notice until I take the stage and then her curious brown eyes quiz me.

I practice all the time, in the bathroom, in the car, in front of the mirror; one head phone on, the other dangling to the beat.

And she smiles like she's practiced a thousand times as I belt out U2's Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses, which may be Bono's most challenging vocal. The crowd wants to send a text message on my behalf when I hit the falsetto like a long jumper off the lift and nail it like Lindsey Jacobellis wished she had.

I am trampled by euphoria and see her tap you rock! with her eyelashes as Jimmy and Kathy Lee help me from the stage like I'm Elvis.

Sidebar:
The Velvet Underground knew what they were doing on Heroin.