Sunday, October 7, 2012

Antics in NYC

You remember that one song that just sticks with you -- you hear it once and then you can't shake it. Usually - one hit wonders - right? I immediately fell in love with Adam Ant when I heard Goody Two Shoes. Similar to artists in the past - I waited patiently to go to the mall and pick up whatever music he had (yes, on cassette). I came home with Strip, Friend or Foe and Vive le Rock.

Incredibly, every song I heard was magic. Being a trumpet player, I loved his use of horns in Desperate But Not Serious and A Place in the Country. I love the play on  songs like Strip and PussNBoots. He had a neo punk new wave sound. I had been through my Ramones, Clash and TRex phase and this combined the two and added some brass and sarcasm. Quick, witty, well written songs. In love with Adam Ant.

THEN -- on my favorite show (still) to this day -- Northern Exposure. He played a self loving rock star who visited Cicely. He was supposed to end up in Italy but wound up with the lovely Alaskan locals instead. With a rockin' case of carpal tunnel he helped Ed make a video, assisted in the commitment of strong loved between Shelly and Holling, and stumbled over the meaning of life with Chris Stevens.

Years went by and I never thought I would see Adam live.
But -- after a re-scheduled February show, October 6th at the Best Buy Theatre (yes, the same theatre I said "Yes" in )

The awesome Brothers of Brazil opened for him. I never thought I would hear a punkish version of Imagine and like it -- but I did. I loved their Amy Winehouse tribute with the song Papparazzi. And I would be remis if I did not say I loved the drummer's skirt / kilt.

Finally - the time arrived and Adam entered the stage and sang with his back to us for what seemed like an eternity (it was about 30 seconds). Then -- the reveal.

It was him. But how would he sound? The answer: absolutely rocking incredible. All those popish songs that most thought they would hear were rediscovered punkish vibe songs. The bass was turned up, his vocals were amazing and he sang -- 20 songs without taking as much as a 30 second break. The real die hard fans (me me me) strolled to the front as to not bother those who did not know the words to every song. We belted out all the tunes and danced up a storm. My surprise was Kings of the Wild Frontier and Lady. Would have loved to have heard Friend or For but hey -- I ain't complaining. Yes -- Goody Two Shoes, I lost my voice singing - actually screaming. Full circle -- heard it, found it, loved it, seeing it.

In the end - there is something I need to remember or fans need to learn. Adam is an advocate for those with mental health issues. He's been through hell with his bipolar diagnosis and turns out (like many of us for whatever the reason) music is his therapy.

I cannot wait for his new album to drop -- we heard one song last night and he's still got it and I cannot wait to see more! Vive le Rock Adam Ant!!

Set list from October 6, 2012 - Best Buy Theatre
Plastic Surgery
Dog Eat Dog
Beat My Guest
Ants Invasion
Deutscher Girls
Stand and Deliver
Room at the Top
Kings of the Wild Frontier
Whip in My Valise
Vince Taylor
Desperate but Not Serious
Never Trust a Man (With Egg on His Face)
Goody Two Shoes
Vive Le Rock
Christian D'or
Lady/Fall In

Fat Fun
Red Scab
Get It On(T. Rex cover)
Prince Charming
Physical (You're So)

A few songs from Adam Ant live at Best Buy October 6, 2012. Turn the volume down on these -- I was close so my speakers went wild!!
Ant Music

Desperate But Not Serious

Get It On

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Bring It On Home

On May 18th, Dana Fuchs came home to NYC to play a show at the Highline Ballroom. Now, for those of you who don't know who Dana is, she has got soul. She may have broke into the scene playing Janis Joplin in the off-Broadway Love Janis, became a known the voice and face of Sadie in Across the Universe  but it is on the music stage where she shines.

I have seen Dana a few times on stage, but this show she dedicated to Love (in its many forms) on May 18th was on fire. Dana's point was well received during the show: isn't the point about all religions just to simply love one another?? Below are some videos I took. Apologies ahead of time for the sound, I was a little close to the speakers. 

If you get the opportunity to see her - you won't regret it. She puts her heart and soul into each show.

Otis Redding cover -  I've Been Loving You Too Long  

 Bible Baby

Led Zeppelin Encore - Your Time is Gonna Come


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

I Thought You Needed a Meter Maid

I truly don't know how to top the last couple of weeks musically, theatrically, historically and gastronomically (and with special Broadway guests). Way back in '11, when I began to plan this year, I failed to think through how close everything would be (I basically forgot there was no June 31).  The title of this post will also be explained - so start your guessing now. 

The start of the adventure that began as the Carlson Bethel to the Beach Tour would become the Bethel to the Beach, to the Stadium, to the theatre to the Five Points Tour. It was an adventure, full of unknowns, excitement and Scottish elves.

It seemed like a really long way up to Bethel NY. Maybe the constant delays in Jersey made matters worse but after hours we started to see the iconic Catskills. Then signs for Bethel - the actual home of the original Woodstock, began to appear. For some reason, up to even beyond this point, my husband hadn't let that fact sink in. We checked into our very Dirty Dancing Catskill resort hotel. The selling point for me was there was a shuttle to and from the venue.

Now, I 've been going to see Dave since the early 90's and when I saw some of the kids in attendance I began to feel a little aged but who cares. Off the bus, through the turn style, huge beers in hand - the lighbulb finally dawned for my other half. I said, let's go see where it happened. He kept asking: It happened here - right here? We walked over to the fence they place to mark off where, in 1969, hundreds of thousands of music fans didn't know they were going to change the world.  I feel like we just landed on the moon. Between the tears and the smiles and the do you remembers?...we were standing at the precipice of rock and roll and music history.

There is still a feeling of love and general "chillness" in Bethel. While watching the ultra talented Delta Spirit, families, high school friends, first dates, you name it filed in to see Dave for their first or 400th time. The set list was incredible -- it was a show for the die hards -  Satellite was a perfect journey back to the beginning of the Dave adventure and who doesn't love a Jimi Thing? The Grey Street encore ending was a surprise and a joyous one a that. I added another feather to the Dave Matthews hat in a gorgeous and historic venue.
  • Grace Is Gone
  • Eh Hee
  • If Only
  • Minarets
  • Seek Up
  • Shake Me Like a Monkey
  • Proudest Monkey
  • Satellite
  • The Riff
  • Seven
  • Funny the Way It Is
  • Mercy
  • Typical Situation
  • Gaucho
  • Jimi Thing
  • Cornbread
  • Pantala Naga Pampa
  • Rapunzel
  • So Much to Say
  • (with Little Thing tease)
  • Grey Street
Back at the hotel - a night for true rock and roll junkies, cheeseburgers, champagne and a bubble bath. I had to prepared for part two of the weekend. OFF TO JERSEY.

The morning began as if it were scripted - Umphrey's appeared on the Satellite radio to usher us onto our journey south. The ride seemed to go incredibly quick as the green, rolling Catskills became the Garden State Parkway. We entered Neptune Township and the smell of salt air welcomed us to the Jersey Shore.

We made out way to the glorious beach before I overheated (as I tend to do like a 1958 Chevy) and soon I had sand in my toes. While sitting on the beach, I thought to myself, how cool, someone is getting psyched for Umphreys. I could hear the progressive sounds wafting through the salty air. Then I realized - it was the actual Umphrey's McGee sound check. Life is pretty freaking awesome at this point.

Next up was getting some delicious food at Porta National Park. Think of a big warehousey garage with picnic tables, a gigantic bar, brick pizza ovens and a bocce ball court! Phenomenal food to have prior to a show at the Stone Pony. I highly recommend the Nutella Dessert Pizza. Now, on to the show.
I had never been to the Stone Pony so the chance to be there was incredible. The Summer Stage is set up in an adjacent parking lot. I wondered how Jefferson would amaze us with his light show in a parking lot in Asbury Park. He didn't disappoint. He actually added to the sunset, the red clouds and the sliver of a moon that lit up the sky. I was able to catch up with fellow UM fan JWelsh at the soundboard just before I heard the familiar sounds of Metallica - Sad But True. Unreal - it was the Gorillaz/Metallica mash up. And if the awesome version of Mantis was not enough, Kris Myer's second time at the mic singing a cover of Danzig's Mother brought this show over the top. 
  •  Tango Mike
  • Spires
  • Weird Dood
  • All In Time
  • Women Wine and Song
    (with G Love on Harmonica)
  • Wizard Burial Ground
  • Dim Sun
  • Deeper
  • Sad But True/Clint Eastwood
    (Gorillaz/Metallica mashup)
  • Mantis
  • Day Nurse
  • All In Time
  • Tribute to the Spinal Shaft
  • Conduit
  • Mother
    Danzig cover
  • 1348

The night ended with coffee ice cream and a walk along the boardwalk and somehow we ended up barefoot. But we passed the now defunct Casino made famous by Bruce Springsteen and paused to reflect on what a wild music ride it had been. But of course it was not over yet. 

What does Alan Cumming and a one man version of Macbeth have ANYTHING to do with music? Cabaret, I tell you. I fell in love with Broadway the day I saw Cabaret. I knew Alan was a gifted actor and stage performer and his performance of Macbeth via a man in a mental institution was haunting and perfectly adapted. At one point, I could see all of the characters in front of me, as opposed to just one man in white hospital attire. I do admit, a part of me wanted him to break into I Don't Care Much at the end - but the three curtain calls were enough.

The extremely hot week was not over though. As Saturday hit 102 degrees, I prepared yet again to conquer a new musical journey: Roger Waters, The Wall at Yankee Stadium. Everyone was beyond excited from the reviews from the night before. We could see some of the props to expect as planes hung over our heads.

9PM. And it began. Even more incredible as I thought it would be, I was immersed in Roger Waters' vision of Pink's tormented world.

Each song I expected Bob Geldof to come out dressed as Pink but Roger had it covered. It was on the scale of ZooTV as images overloaded our senses and sounds bombarded us from all around. The wall was built the wall was torn down.

 But you know better than to think the story ends here. We met up with our friend and musician (who needs to start playing again!) Andrew at the shows end. As I was agreeing to help him out with a battle of the bands contest, the hubby in the passenger seat began to doze off. As we approached the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel toll booth, he snapped awake and stated: I thought you needed a meter maid. A blog post title was born, kuddos to Andrew.

Andrew dropped us off at Kelly's Bar and we played about $20 of songs on the jukebox and, never being one to leave in a buy back situation, we didn't leave until 3am (after I drunk tweeted Nicole Atkins of course). Leaving meant walking towards home and stopping at the diner.

Oh, no, it's not over yet. Wednesday I gladly helped out Andrew at Tammany Hall (the NYC one, not the one in Worcester). I have to admit, every time I go to the Lower East Side, I fall more and more in love with it. I see how Gogol Bordello got their start on Avenue B. It's a convergence of every nationality you could imagine alive with music and food on every corner. You have Mission Chinese and Ward Six and of course, Tammany Hall.

So my job was to basically work the door. Give out a ballot, make sure money gets taken, or if you are a VIP, your name gets crossed off. Simple. Three bands, great music, get to listen to good excuses why you should be on "the list".

So as I said, yummy Mission Chinese is right next door. Unfortunately they are closed on Wednesdays. So we fielded everyone - sorry, they're closed ... closed on Wednesdays ... try again tomorrow. Until, one of those desiring foodies looked so familiar. Dr. Strojan my creative writing prof? No - it, it really is --- Wilkommen! Joel Grey from Cabaret fame (yes, Jennifer Grey's father). After apologizing profusely that the restaurant was not open, I received a hug....from Joel Grey.

This is only round one folks. I know it's been a long post - but damnit I've been busy. What's up next you ask? The Catalpa music festival (more Umphreys), Devotchka, Motley Crue, Kiss, Bruce Springsteen and Adam Ant. I have been blessed - I am thankful for my musical year so far. Let's keep it rolling.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Second Wind

Conquering Central Park's Cat Hill

Five years ago I would have laughed in your face if you had told me that I would run a marathon.  I never liked running, To be honest, I still don't enjoy it as much as swimming. It's work. It's hard. It's the completion of a challenge that I enjoy the most. So last August I signed up for the Pittsburgh Marathon. The entire time I was thinking to myself what the hell am I getting myself into? The funny thing is, the more people told me I was crazy, the more I wanted to do it. 26.2 miles was going to be mine.

Running my first half marathon in Pittsburgh in 2011 was a challenge, but not impossible. How would I conquer double the mileage, the last six episodes of The Walking Dead, the year of concerts and work? I figured music would get me through it - it always does. What I didn't know is how "inside my own head" I would really be during the entire race.

January 15 - day 1 and it felt like the same old routine, at least for the first four weeks. Then those miles just kept growing - and growing. I learned the importance very quickly of not only being hydrated but having the proper electrolyte balance at all times. Good bye headache and hello actually feeling good after a run. I quickly landed a "long run" routine, making Saturday the day of choice. Eventually that meant no late Friday and a nice nap Saturday afternoon.

My first 18 miles run was St. Patrick's Day. My final lap -- the longest I would have every run to date - was clockwise in the park (while 90% of everyone else was running counterclockwise). The music was good - hearing Billy Joel's song Second Wind gave me a chuckle, but it was the smart ass 5kers that brought got to me. Why don't you run the way everyone else is? As I continues up the hill they were all running down (the Great Hill) the following words escaped from me: When you run this park three times before 8am, then you can tell me what to do.

I couldn't believe I did it. The first of three 18-20 mile runs. It didn't seem as bad or as daunting as I thought it would be. Yes - the music got me through a lot of it. Those 6 and 7 am runs can be lonely and I spent a lot of time with Kings of Leon, Depeche Mode and Motley Crue. But what goes up -- must come down -- and I thought I was going to fall flat on my face.

It seemed like a tight muscle or a strain - but eventually turned into not being able to strike the ground without thinking my femur was going to shatter. I had gone from long runs to barely being able to walk without pain. I was angry, depressed, scared, frustrated but had so much support from not only my love but from some wonderful folks on twitter (yes, this is you gpescatore, corybelcher and modejay) I had positive feedback that it wasn't over. I wasn't supposed to taper for another two weeks but was forced into it early. The good news was that no one could find anything wrong - the bad news was that the pain would not stop. Last ditch effort - a 2 hour deep tissues hot cold sport massage. I am indebted to my dave gahan looking therapist - who finally, after three weeks of pain - set me free. I had one week to now mentally prepare. Friday morning greeting me with a twitter message from Dara Torres --  It's good to be nervous...I always am b4 I race. It means ur ready! All the work is done, just enjoy the experience!

The City of Bridges welcomed us. Open, sunny, hot . The forecast was for upwards of 80 by noon on race day. Not only had I not run over 5miles in almost 4 weeks, I despise heat. Actually, anything over 70 is heat to me. I would have rather ran in the snow - 25 degrees out in my bare feet than deal with a run in the heat. But, I would do my best.

Water, carbs, water, carbs, salt, carbs .... rest rest rest. We drove some of the full marathon route Saturday -- and when I saw Forbes Avenue, I knew I was in for a challenge. The nerves began. I calmed them with a live webcast of My Morning Jacket from the New Orleans Jazz Fest. But, I tossed and turned and had that feeling that you get before the first day of school - jumpy, sick, anxious. My alarm could not go off soon enough. I soon found out that getting compression pants on after a three day carb load is no easy feat.

The cool air would soon burn off as soon as the sun touched the horizon. I was ready. We were ready. The hubby and I went to our own corrals. Little did I know, how nervous he was - for me. He knows I overheat like a 1958 Ford Fairlane Sunliner. Little did he know, I had a plan. And little did I know, the residents of Pittsburgh also had their own.

My wave started at 0740. They used Chariots of Fire type music to bring us to the start. Then we were off. I had a brief dejavu moment but quickly my thoughts turned to the journey ahead. Something odd happened though. Yes, I had my songs with me, but I was paying more "in my own head" if you will. The bands and crowds along the route were great and I actually did get a lot of energy from them. I took some advice from one of the hubby's fellow firefighters (and a recent Boston marathoner) and reserved my energy - I didn't push it the first half. I knew between the two mile - 200 foot incline hill and the increasing heat and sun, I would need the energy for final miles.

The first half was uneventful - and sticking to my plan, I was dousing myself with water at every station. It was getting hot and the sun was already burning. As the split between the full and the half on the Birmingham Bridge approached, I was greeted with the following sign: YOU HAVE NOW COMMITTED TO THE FULL MARATHON COURSE. Then I saw a man on the course for the half collapse. Slow, hydrate, finish became my mantra.

As I looked up Forbes Avenue and the start of mile 12, I noticed that we were a formation of ants, trying to stay in the shade. Almost half way done I thought. That was the longest mile of my life. Seeing the towering Cathedral of Learning at my alma matter meant that hill was behind me. It was around here that I knew how challenging this would be. The sun glared - any water I splashed on myself dried quickly. It was also here that the bustling downtown turned more into the residential neighborhoods. Around mile 14, I rounded a corner to be met with a Grateful Dead cover band -- I wish I was  a headlight on a Northbound train!!! I screamed that line with the band singing I Know You Rider and it gave me some energy, but that only lasts for so long.

The further we went, the more people understood their role as spectators. This is my favorite part of the run. Miles 19- 22 we were met with families, bar owners, firefighters. We were doused with garden sprinklers, fire hydrants were opened for us and bar tenders handed out cups of ice. Seriously, I would not have been able to make it without you all. I am humbled and deeply indebted. Ice stuffed down sports bra -- I lumbered on until I saw Heaven - I mean the city skyline and a two mile downhill entrance into the city.

Almost there. by mile 23, the water was getting warm - and the heat kept on creeping in. Across from the Church Brew Works, I saw people handing out shot glasses. Are you kidding me I thought. How could anyone take a shot. Cold Beer Here ... What?? No ... Beer? Well, that is different. I quickly moved towards the line of bartenders and took the white cup and drank cold, fresh beer. I Love You So Much - it is rumored that I said before starting the descent again.

Mile 23, 24, almost there. Almost back into the canyon of the city. Mile 25 I began to scan the crowd for my husband (who finished the half in a little over two hours). I ran in front of two girls in neon green shirts - we kept on encouraging each other -- and then I heard him. Sweetheart, I am so proud of you!!! My better half was now off the sidewalk running next to me. Do you know how hard it is to cry and run at the same time?? He promised me a Guinness at primanti's and left me at the doorstep to mile 26.

Remember when I said mile 12 was the longest mile I have ever ran -- well, that last .2 is pretty long as well. It just never seemed to end. And Pittsburgh organizers, the only issue that I had with the entire experience was the fact that you paved those last .2 miles immediately prior to the race NOT A GOOD IDEA. It was LaBrea tar pits. Complaint aside. I saw it. The finish. I crossed it and received my medal. Wow - I just finished a marathon I thought to myself. I am kinda hungry.

So yeah, it took me five hours, but I did it. It was also 81 degrees. I am proud of the accomplishment and cherish the experience. Goal set. Goal accomplished. Onwards to the NYC Marathon November 4th

As I did last year - here is the song list that played on my shuffle. The music didn't impact me as much as I thought it would - but there were moments. Delirium maybe seeped in for some of them:)

Further on Up The Road – Bruce Springsteen: Irony plays into my first song again (last year it was Travelling Without Running by EMF)

Regulator – Clutch Good powerful pace song -- made me think of The Walking Dead episode Nebraska

Same Direction – INXS Peppy song - wanted to jump up and down like Hutch would  at shows

Policy of Truth – Depeche Mode I always crank DM - good beat. Dave ran by my side

After Midnight – Eric Clapton I wish it was after midnight - I'd be done. How many more miles?

Star Dog Champion – Mother Love Bone Yes! Some MLB

Papa Was a Rolling Stone – George Michael Good energy - but church choir led me thru this mile

Maneater – Hall and Oates Hit forward on this one

Call of Ktulu – Metallica \m/ \m/ Yes!!!!!

Lonely Days – Bee Gees Good morning mr sunshine -- he brightened my day for sure

Uncle Albert / Hands Across the Water – Paul McCartney and Wings The butter wouldn't melt!!

The Weight – Umphreys McGee Sweet Jesus - I was crying when this played.

Midnight Rider – Allman Brothers I don't remember this song

Headlong – Queen Great song with a driving beat

Up Al Night – Slaughter I never would have thought I would hear this running a marathon

Fat Bottomed Girls / Good Times – Umphreys McGee I was at the show!!!!! Smiles from me

Livin’ in the City – Stevie Wonder Made me miss NY:(

Harlem – Bill Withers Really made me miss NY:(

Kyrie Elaison – Mister Mister I need this at the end -- not now silly Shuffle

Small Victory – Faith No More I wanted to jump like Mike Patton - too much energy waste though

Saints are Coming – U2 Took me down Carson street - flat, very flat Carson street

Never Let Me Down – Depeche Mode Heard this while crossing Birmingham Bridge

Slider – Gavin Friday Made it half way up Forbes and needed a faster beat

Crocket’s Theme – Miami Vice Woo hoo!!! Crocket and Tubbs

When the Levee Breaks – Led Zeppelin My levee may break -- Half Way Point

I Wanna Be Sedated – Ramones Always a good tune to pick up the pace

Desperately – Slaughter Desperately needed some dance tunes

The Drugs Don’t Work – The Verve Enough with the damn drugs -- I just want a beer!!

Should I Stay or Should I Go – The Clash Don't remember this song

Blood Sugar Sex Magik – Red Hot Chili Peppers Imagined that Keidas wrote this for me (delirium)

Ballad of John and Yoko – Beatles Thought of my hubby and how proud I was of him

How Soon is Now – Smiths Too mellow -- I really needed speed metal at this point

I Got Life – Hair Or a good Broadway show tune

Angel Dance – Robert Plant Love you my Golden God but I hit forward

Me and Julio – Umphreys McGee I salsa'd this song (in my mind at least)

House is Rockin – Stevie Ray Vaughan Nice beat - kept me going

Riot Act – Skid Row Little too angry for me at this point - hit forward

Handle with Care – Travelling Wilburries Love this song - but need to rethink it being on marathon list

Letter to NYC – Beastie Boys MCA!!!! He had passed that weekend so this song was perfect!!!

I Can Hear the Hills – North Mississippi All Stars I can hear the freaking hills my ass ... I feel them!!

Too Funky – George Michael Runway walking with Derek Jeter -- long long story but go with it

Edge of Glory – Lady Haha Wondered if Gaga would run in a pair of Louboutin's

Free Bird – Lynyrd Skynard Too late -- needed this song earlier

Don’t Dream it’s Over – Crowded House Fave song in the world -- but not what I needed

Yellow – Coldplay The hubby's ring tone -- I began to miss him.

Home Sweet Home – Motely Crue Skip

Alive – Pearl Jam yes - I found the true meaning to this song

Touch of Grey – DSO Made me smile - cause I was at the show throwing m&ms at the keyboardist

Cowboys from Hell – Pantera Yes -- I will destroy this course!!!!

Fun Lovin’ Criminals – Fun Lovin’ Criminals Too slow -- made me want to saunter down Delancy Street

Personal Jesus – Depeche Mode Mile 23 -- Beer -- Dave Gahan -- Me HAPPY

Never Let Me Down – Depeche Mode I imagined the crowed and Dave Gahan swaying

Lady with a Spinning Head – U2 Beer will do that to you

Gimme Shelter – Rolling Stones Mile 24 into 25. I will forever relate this to the last song I heard while running my first marathon.

I let the crowd take me home


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down

I can’t assume to know where our heroes go when they die. Nirvana. Heaven.The tremendous band in the sky, assembled in the round, together there on a sun-kissed, better shore. Whatever it’s called, wherever it is, you can betthe farm that today the bells are ringing there, and the people are singing.Because Levon knows what we can only guess: That there is no last waltz.That we’ll forever file in through the barn door with the ones we love, drawn by the firelight, grab our children and go round and round in a dance interminable. We doe-see-doe. We stomp the boards. Shout. Kiss. Cry. Sing.Spin. Laugh. Squeal. Study the stars through the gaps in the ceiling. Simon Felice Requiem for Levon
The Weight

I have been to many a concert in my 34 years, but I think I may have been witness to musical perfection last night at the Brooklyn Bowl. The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, A Benefit to Save the Barn was held in honor of Levon Helm who passed away in April. With acts such as Nicole Atkins, Ian Felice, Marco Benevento, Joe Russo ... you knew great music was going to be played. The energy was incredibly high and positive from the first note of Ophelia to the last beat of The Weight.

The musicians played musical chairs all night, never taking a set break, and performing some of Levon and The Bands greatest songs. The crowd, a mix of eclectic hipsters and Ramble veterans (such as myself) sang, danced and reminisced together, celebrating the music of Levon. There were many highlights to the night - each moment a special musical memory. Ian Felice taking lead on The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down was beyond stellar. Don't Do It's jam kept going and going with incredible energy - you'd think these guys have done this song for over 20 years together. And Levon himself would have been so proud of the lovely ladies singing Anna Lee.

There have been and there will be many more tributes to Levon. But last night's show embodied the soul of the man and the pure joy that music can bring. We each had our moments that brought us to tears, made us dance up a storm and pause to reflect on that smile that Levon would get when he played. Whether you have been a lifelong fan or were just introduced to his music, the night will go down as memorable and just they way Levon would have wanted: a bunch of strangers becoming friends, singing songs together as if soulmates, laughing,loving and dancing at our ramble, our own last waltz.

Courtesy of Brooklyn Bowl Instagram @brooklynbowl

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Levon Helm was simply one of the greatest drummers ever. But he was also one of the most influential musicians and important artists of our time. Levon had a depth of feel that does not exist anymore. His brilliantly economic parts, lyrical phrasing and incredible touch and tone on the drums were as unique as his song writing and timeless voice. His impact on me cannot be overstated. Getting the privilege to double drum with him last year at our Solid Sound festival was one of the greatest thrills I could ever imagine. He was a passionate man with an extremely gracious, warm and giving personality. That he made some of his best music in the final years of his life, is a testament to his greatness and historical significance. He will be dearly missed.
-Glenn Kotche
If you ever saw Levon Helm perform live, you saw  a man who truly loved music with his every cell. The first time I ever saw Levon perform was at Bonnaroo in 2008. Sitting right up front, I witnessed a man who not only is one of the best Americana / Rock drummers, but someone who embodied what music really should be: an experience. You could see how much he enjoyed playing, but how much he truly appreciated and loved to see other artists perform with him.
On this day of his passing, a friend hit home with the following statement: He was able to do what he loved most until the very end. So very true. Levon was always true to his craft and when he needed help to pay medical bills, he used that love and the memory of old travelling medicine shows to create the Midnight Ramble. I thought seeing him perform at Bonnaroo was special but only until I went to Woodstock. The Ramble takes place in Levon's home in Woodstock. Maybe 200 people are lucky enough to get a ticket for a seat in the studio. The people that attend are all there for the same reason: the pure and simple love of music (and Levon). All ages, from all places with different beliefs and politics sing, dance and share company with a music legend. Could he have played several nights at clubs to make the money -sure, but he wanted it to be done HIS WAY. Levon loved The Band, but he also had his own music and wanted to bring in friends to play as well. He spent years singing with his daughter, Amy, watching Larry Campbell grow into a natural band leader and nurtured the natural talent of Larry's wife and muse, Theresa. Sitting with them at dinner in Bonnaroo, you could see the love and family that was built solely around music.
Levon, both as a solo artist and as the drummer/singer for The Band, will continue to inspire artists who desire the purity of his music. It will be hard to imagine a Ramble without him, but I truly think that would only be the most fitting tribute to man who lived music.
I'm just an honest American human being ~Levon Helm

Monday, April 9, 2012

I Went Back to Titanic

Many of you have no clue that I have been fascinated by the story of Titanic since I was eight. The way it was portrayed in the media was so romanticised but also shrouded in so much mystery since they had not discovered it. I created my own theory in second grade how it really sank (mine stayed in one piece) and was in Nova Scotia when Robert Ballard discovered it in 1985. I believe I embarrassed my parents in the parking lot of the fast food restaurant yelling like I discovered the Holy Grail. This was HUGE! I memorized the National Geographic special and yes I saw the movie a gajillion times.

The movie - ok, yes, it makes it romantic BUT you have to give credit to James Cameron for wanting to capture what happened. Perfect, no - there were flaws and filming oopsies. The story to me isn't necessarily isn't the cross class romance, it's the people treated as second and even third class citizens. People who probably saved for years to take their families to America. It was also filled with names that were making America - the Astors, the Guggenheim's. But - yes, you probably saw it coming a million miles away: it's about the band.

Wallace Hartley and his seven other band members played until the very end. It wasn't Hollywood theatrics, that is true fact. The final song they play in the film, Nearer My God to Thee, Hartley himself introduced to his congregation at home in England. The captain asked and he played to soothe those on the ship. Who really knows if anyone ever recalled if they played or even what they played. The simple act of going down with the ship while trying to help in anyway is an act of valour alone.  Outside of the greed and machismo that ultimately led to the demise of the ship, there were many stories of selflessness and courage in a time where class prejudice was not argued.

I watched the film today 15 years having gone by. When I first saw Titanic, I watched for historical accuracy and to see the Titanic come to life. Today, I watched with 15 more years of life experience. In those 15 years since, I lived in Belfast and had a chance to see where the Titanic was built. I now understand what it is like to fall head over heels in love in a very short time - and at a loss for words if I had to say goodbye so quickly.

It is a period we will never revisit -- a time where class injustice was rampant and enough to sacrifice safety in the name of headlines. Today, if it were to happen, we'd have enough life boats, the Coast Guard would be there immediately -- and the band playing would be on youtube in seconds.
Wallace Hartley
Titanic Memorial at Belfast City Hall
Harland and Wolff Shipyard Belfast
Titanic Life Jacket - Smithsonian

Sunday, February 12, 2012

New Year ...Lots of New Music

I felt I didn't see enough live music last year. This year will be different. It already has been, as a matter of fact.

I began 2012 with Gogol Bordello at Terminal 5. Think of it as the steerage section on Titanic. But - it was perfect for Gogol. If you have never seen them - friends have correctly categorized it as heavy metal polka. Their lead singer is a ball of Ukrainian Gypsy energy. They band is made up of many cultures, almost the point of the bands existence. It is high energy and positive and a perfect way to ring in the New Year.

Next up -- my second Ramble at Levon Helm's house in Woodstock. The Ramble is a unique experience for music connoisseurs. Levon Helm, drummer from The Band, hosts a jam session a few Saturday's each month - and anyone from any genre of music can show and play. The first time I ventured to Levon's house in Woodstock, moe. was the guest. Dar Williams would be performing this time and I could not have been more excited. Her song Spring Street has become a bit of an anthem for me and the Mr. The man I would marry asked me to move in with him on Spring Street. AND it was the first song she sang that night:)

While Dar's set was beautiful - she even admitted it was mellow and that once Levon and the band (not The Band - I could only wish) came on, the energy would explode. And it did. Between the New Orleans jams, the Leadbelly covers and the standard Band songs, the energy at Levon's studio was well over the top. What makes the Ramble so incredible isn't just that there are only about 200 guests, it's that these guests each love music to the core. You make new friends, re-connect with old ones and truly get an up close and personal jam session with world class artists.

One week later: Umphrey's McGee. The little band that could from Chicago has been conquering the jam airwaves. They have great new tunes and do dozzies  on the covers. - such as this Thriller / Another Brick in the Wall MashUp
They jam, they rock they make you want to dance. Their bass player, Ryan Stasik, is also a diehard Pittsburgh sports fan :) I have seen them numerous times (the best being at Bonnaroo) but when they come to NYC - they bring a great show ... and the light is so awesome you don't need to take drugs to think you're tripping - although I am sure it would only add to the effect. 

Moving right along ... Primus. Yes, they are back. Les has been touring a while but they band itself just released a new album. Hard to believe it had been 20 years since I saw them last. They sounded just as good as they did years ago -- ok, maybe a bit mellow. Shocked they chose to play the small Williamsburg Music Hall - but happy that I had tickets. The mix of fans was what I expected, young who never saw them (or Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey when it came out), the veteran fans like me and the parents checking their messages from their babysitter happy to have a few hours out on their own. They played the classics and some new tunes, plus a few episodes of the original Popeye cartoons in between. Who could ask for more?

The summer appears to be filling up nicely, too - Neil Diamond in Boston in June and Roger Waters at Yankee Stadium in July ... that should be unfreakingbelievably incredible. The Wall - Live, in the Bronx. I can't wait. October will be the re-scheduled Adam Ant show that was supposed to happen in January - I will try not to get too excited just in case. I did hear a rumor  - about the Stones going on tour to support a new album. They are on my list. That would top off the year in style - now wouldn't it.

Of course there are the last minute gigs and discovering new far I think my resolution is going well ...