Tag Archives: Live Music

From the Ticket Stub Bin – One Song

Today’s Music: See Below.

A hard ticket to get...

We’ve all heard covers of songs. Sometimes it’s almost a note for note cover of the original (Rascal Flats covering Tom Cochrane’s Life Is A Highway). Sometimes it brings the song to a whole new, previously unimagined level (Jimi Hendrix on Bob Dylan’s All Along The Watchtower).
And sometimes you get to hear three different versions of a song that you never expected to hear live in the first place.

One year, I was lucky enough to see Eric Clapton, Tony Bennett and Tori Amos in concert. Not together (Though that would probably an incredible show!).
All three of them did Somewhere Over The Rainbow. From the Wizard of Oz.
Let me refresh your memory…

She sings it with a child’s wistfulness. It’s a beautiful song of innocence and aspiration. Really, you have to be pretty jaded to not feel anything when listening to it.

Tony Bennett was a contemporary of Judy. By all accounts, they were friends.
When I saw Tony, he led into this song by describing what a wonderful person Judy was, and how much he missed her.
That version seemed laced with sadness, perhaps regret.
The version below is more fun and playful. There’s hope, but Tony’s voice makes it seem more like a fond reminiscence of someone unavoidably detained…

During an encore set, Clapton came out with his acoustic guitar and launched into the song.
I think he does a great job with it. His version is interesting to me, because (by all accounts) he’s made it over the rainbow. I think he has a very fun take on the song, not least of which is “Really? Clapton is doing that song? Live?”
But he doesn’t turn it into a Clapton tour-de-force. There is plenty of room for the rest of the band to shine and fill, and his jazzy version really does sound good to me.

Tori has a…distinct style. Many of her songs I honestly find a bit disturbing. Which I think is what Tori is going for. She writes a lot about pain, and I think that carries through well in her music.
When I saw her and recognized the song from the intro, I expected it to be a creepy, bent version of a classic.
But what she did instead, for me, is unlock some of the true meaning of the song. She sings it with such heartache, such longing, that I, as a listener, could only hope and pray that she would make it over the rainbow.

One song. Three unique perspectives. Each a highlight of their show.
But of course, just for giggles, I have to throw this one in too. Just because it’s fun.

So a question for y’all: What song cover made you think about the original in a whole different way?


An Adventure – Learning to Sail

Today’s Music: Jimmy Buffett


In a June, quite some time ago, Ms. Diamond needed to get certified as a Life Guard.
So, one day in the cafeteria, she dropped the brochure for the place she was going for the lifeguard course on the table.
Being a nosy S.O.B. (though it’s possible sh offered it to me – not sure – been a lot of drinking between then an now), I looked through it.
Sailing! Learn to sail on a lake in Pennsylvania! One person Sunfish! Oh.My. God.

At the time, I was listening to way too much Jimmy Buffett. Parrothead, (mostly) recovered, that’s me.
One of the things Jimmy sings an awful lot about (besides drinking, and women, and food and islands and…) is sailing.
And here was an opportunity to learn it on the cheap!

So I went. My sisters came along to learn to Scuba Dive (in the same lake), but I was there for the sailing.

The first day, it poured. So they brought the sailing group (there was sailing, lifeguarding, scuba, and a bunch of other classes being taught that week) into a cabin. The instructors told us about themselves, told us about the boats we’d be using, and asked us what we wanted to get out of the class, and to draw a picture of it.
I wrote Sail like Magellan. The picture I drew wasn’t quite as bad as this, but lord, it wasn’t good:

Not even Magellan could keep this afloat.

Fortunately, making us artists wasn’t the point of the course. Making us sailors was.
They taught us how to put together a sunfish and take it apart. How to step the mast (insert it in it’s slot so it wouldn’t leave the boat when the sail was filled with wind), how to run the lines (ropes on a boat are called lines), how to tell where the wind was coming from and how to trim the boat (adjust sails and heading (direction) for the wind).
They taught us about the hardware on the boat – the stays and guys, tiller and running rigging, and how all of them held the boat together and made it go.
They taught us witty sailor sayings – “red sky at night, sailors delight, red sky at dawn, storm coming on”, “tiller to boom to avoid doom”, “rain before wind, better stay in. Wind before rain, soon set sail again”.
All phrases that I’ve found useful even in my daily landlubber-ous existence.

And they taught us how to sail.
Picture 5 newbies, each in our own boat, trying to sail in formation. Okay, we managed to get more or less to the same part of the lake, more or less at the same time. But when they told us to sail in close formation, we all managed to get in exactly the same part of the lake at exactly the same time. And had a massive pile up.
I think that was the first time I fell out of my boat, avoiding the nose of another that parked itself on top of me.

But slowly we learned. We understood the points of sail, learned how to trim a sail to take the most advantage of the wind. How to get out of irons, or steer for a buoy.
And we learned to not crash into each other. Unless we really wanted to.

On the last day, we were allowed to sail around on our own. When time was up, I steered in, coming up to the dock neatly against the wind. I put my hands on the dock – to hoist myself out of the boat – my feet still in it.
And the boat, which wasn’t tied down, started to drift…away…from the dock…

Which was the last time I fell in.

I’m sorry I couldn’t find it, because i really wanted to scan and post my Upside Down Award, for falling creatively out of boats. I earned it, dangnabbit.

And before you leave the post chuckling at how i wasted a week, several years later I was invited to crew on the Around Long Island Regatta on a boat something like this:

Image from Charterworld.com

I got here from a Sunfish.

Friday Foolishness, and Check. Your. Calendar.

Today’s Music: GWAR
The video is slightly disturbing, the music isn’t bad. Think KISS on a really bad high. Their guitarist passed away last night, so they are Today’s Music as a tribute.

Next, to the old business –
The hands down category winner to last weeks Friday Foolishness poll is Other.
The Written In answers are as follows:

– Are you suggesting that only bloggers should be responding to this poll?
– I ain’t admitting to nuthun.

In reference to the first answer, you know, it didn’t even occur to me to add a non-blogger answer. How silly of me…

And now, on to the new silliness!!! (even though there is rarely anything but silliness around here…)

I was going to go with a rant today, since there was Christmas music playing when I bought my coffee this morning. When I paid, I asked the girl if it was a one-off, but no, apparently that’s all they are playing now. And for the next. 8. weeks.
But I think I’ll save that for a more detailed diatribe, maybe this weekend.

So, in keeping with the theme of Friday Foolishness, another question.
This was going to be part of another entry, but I would like your thoughts on the matter.

And non-bloggers should be able to get in on this one too!
(If you write in an answer, please include contact info if you like)

‘Cause folks, it don’t get no foolisher than that.
Have a good weekend!

A conversation with IrishPaul

Today’s Music: Sammy Hagar

IrishPaul Instant Messaged me on my way to the train this morning.
Here is the conversation…

IrishPaul –
Happy 50th birthday to moody bastard Larry Mullins junior

El Guapo –
That’s why you’re up at 7 am?

IrishPaul –
Going to bed now. Was watching a movie.
Why are you up?

El Guapo –
You. Suck. I’m going to work.

IrishPaul –
What kind of a****le goes to work before 6pm? Don’t forget, we’re going to The Drums next Monday.

El Gupao –
Real world a****les. Haven’t yet found a surfing sponsor, so off I go.
Yeah, I’ll be there.

IrishPaul –
Right. I’m off to bed alone – bonus.
You going to Chickenfoot.

El Guapo –
Bah, not a big enough fan. Thought you hated Hagar.

IrishPaul –
I do but want to see Michael Anthony Hall and Joe Satriani. So I’ll bear with it.

El Guapo –
Have a good time.

And since I know he hates that crap, today’s music is Sammy Hagar. Because I had to be on my to work at 7 am. And he was finishing his day bartending form last night.

So there it is, a tiny snippet of my real life.


Cut it out, Canada.

Today’s Music: Oh, Canada

I like Canada. A lot.
I’ve been there several times, most recently to see The Cars at Sound Academy in Toronto.
I’ve loved seeing the Changing of the Guard ceremony at Parliament in Ottawa.
I loved hanging out with Charles DeLint at the bar he plays at weekly. He invited me up onstage, and lent me a guitar so we could rip through a twelve bar blues riff with his band.
He took us out for lunch after we spent the day exploring the Byward market, a really nice indoor/outdoor shopping area filled with the products of local craftsmen and street musicians.
My wife (the most wonderful girl in the universe) and I spent a lovely afternoon strolling through the Ottawa government seat, and walking along the Rideau river.

Manhattan at noon, 29 October

I’ve skied at Tremblant and loved, and have nothing but nice things to say about Montreal.

More recently, I’ve enjoyed the tulip festival. They really are beautiful. The way you arrange them shows why you elevated the festival to a national event.
My wife and I loved your museums, and admired the clean orderliness of your street.

Brooklyn, 20 minutes after Manhattan

And on the same trip when we went to see The Cars, we also stopped at Niagara Falls. It’s true, the view is better from the Canadian side.
So all the times I’ve been to Canada, I’ve had nothing but fun.

Queens, 35 mjinutes after Brooklyn

But you have a dark secret.
Any architect building a freestanding home in an open area will tell you, build the hedges along the north.
During winter, the cold air comes down from the north. That’s how the jet stream works.
And what’s north of New York?
That;s right. I said it.
Canada is sending us the snow.
I like snow. I like sledding, skiing, sitting on the porch watching it build up. I like driving in fields through it, catching it on my tongue, and making naked snow angels in it. Ok, that was once, and i was really drunk at the time. But I enjoyed it.

But now you’ve gone too far. It’s October. There are another 60 or so days of fall. Which I can’t enjoy. Because it’s snowing.
The snow Canada sent.

Look, I admit it, the U.S. can be mean to Canada. We ignore you, we run roughshod over your entertainment industry by selling you our music/tv/movies. And I know you have to pay more for those same books and dvds we insist on sending you.
But I’m begging you, please, turn off the snow.
I gave your anthem the “Today’s Music” slot.
I like real maple syrup.
I’ll even admit (under duress) that I own a Bryan Adams cd (it was a long time ago and I’ve no idea where it is anymore.)

So stop with the snow already. At least for another month or two.

The view out my window 15 minutes later.

Or we’ll send back William Shatner.

From the ticket stub bin – Rodrigo y Gabriella

Today’s Music: Groovelily


Every so often, I hear a new band that makes me stop what I’m doing and listen.
One band like that was Rodrigo y Gabriella. The first time I heard their debut CD, it was all I could listen to. I’d been taking guitar lessons at the time, and I went between wanting to play like them, and just thinking I should put it down and give up.

Rodrigo and Gabriella had been in a speed metal band that broke up. They picked nylon sring acoustic guitars, went to Ireland and started busking, developing a style that was a combination of speed metal and classical guitar, with flamenco flares. The result is astounding.
So when they announced dates at Terminal 5 in Manhattan, I made sure I got tickets.
Terminal is a good sized room (capacity ~3000), with 2 balconies and plenty of bars. No seats, and the crowd gets a bit sloppy (watch where you step!)
The night of the show, I met my girl (the most wonderful girl in the universe!) for a quick dinner nearby, and we went over to the venue.
It was packed. Sold out.
The main floor was wall to wall bodies, as were the balconies. Not sure how full the rooftop smoking lounge was, but everything inside was full.
There was an opener. I don’t remember who the opener was. That’s a good thing, as the opener wasn’t good at all.
Then Rodrigo and Gabriella came out.
Just the two of them, on their two classical guitars. Beating. The. Hell. Out of them.
They were really good. At times their hands were moving faster than my eyes could easily track. Rodrigo was stretching the individual strings, doing leads over intricate chord and rhythm patterns Gabriella was pounding out. And she was also working in slaps of her guitar top, doing rhythm guitar and percussion at the same time!
They played through the whole album, but the highlight of the show for me was Gabriella’s solo.
Rodrigo did his solo, then left the stage and Gabriella came back on by herself. She started off slowly, speeding up as her chord changes grew more complex and her strumming hand also drummed the guitar top faster and faster between strums.
Then, and this is what really blew me away, she laid her head down on the side of her guitar and kept playing, even faster and more intricately.
I’ve never seen anything like that. Her entire body was attuned to and focused on her guitar. Her music was transcendent, going beyond a performance to almost a religious experience.
When she slowed down and finally stopped, smiling out at the crowd, the room exploded in applause.
Rodrigo came back out, and the two of them played the rest of the set, which was incredible.
All told, they did about an hour and forty five minutes, a decent length set.

But if they had only done twenty minutes, and that twenty minutes was Gabriella’s solo, that would have been worth the price of admission.

The Cars Live (at last!!!)

Today’s Music: The Cars – Move Like This
Today’s Adventure: Removing my head from my bottom

The Cars came out of New Wave, but transcended to main stream success in a way few other “New Wave” bands did.
Their songs had great hooks, occasionally great lyrics (though honestly, it was sometimes very hard to figure out what the heck Ric Ocasek was talking about!), and as a band that came of age at the start of the music video era, some great videos.

And then, in 1988, they broke up. The band members wandered off to their own projects, Ric Ocasek got into producing and writing songs for others,and Benjamin Orr, the bassist, died.

The story goes that Ric Ocasek was going through a bunch of songs he wrote , trying to decide on studio musicians to record it with, and instead, called up his former bandmates –
Elliot Easton on guitar, Greg Hawkes on keyboards (and now bass as well), and David Robinson on drums. Ric plays rhythm guitar, sings and writes the songs.
And they put out Move Like This. Which sounded exactly like The Cars.
And they announced a tour.

For me, this was a big deal. The Cars were one of the first bands I was aware of and wanted to see, but they broke up (you can keep the New Cars, thanks) and a member died, and Ric Ocasek said “no way in hell” to a reunion.
When tickets for the new tour went on sale, there was no way I would miss it.

I ended up seeing them at Sound Academy in Toronto(a story for another post), and Roseland in NYC.

Both shows were in mid-size Standing-Room-Only venues, about 2000 – 3000 capacity. Both stages were the same, both sets were the same.
They came out and opened with Let the Good Times Roll , a classic. From there they moved into Blue Tip from the new album, and the set list was a nice combination of old and new.
The sound of the new songs is so consistent to the old band that there was nothing jarring in the set list, no feel of jumping from one era to the next.
Ric Ocasek stayed up front the whole show, often just strumming his couple of chords. There was very little interaction with the crowd, and he moved very little.
Hawkes was frenetic behind the keyboard, and at times seemed a bit overwhelmed, especially when coming around to the front and strapping on the bass (when he also gave a shout out to Benjamin Orr).
Easton had several songs where his leads transported him. While The Cars are not (and never were) a jam band, his solos were interesting and far ranging, going from high tinkling notes all the way up the neck, to crunching lines that growled out of the amps.
Robinson on drums kept time solidly, but there was not much beyond the basic rhythm – no interesting fills in his set.

It was good to see them, but in some ways, it was like watching a live video of their albums. One of the joys of going to see live music is the additions, the interaction, hearing new twists on lyrics or music, and The Cars offered very little of that besides the guitar solos.
But the band was on, they played well, and as someone who waited twenty two years to see them (and got to see them twice!), I though they put on a really good show.
the stage dressing and lighting was used to silhouette the payers, and added a nice touch. The sound at both venues was great, and the music was clear and easy to follow.
The crowd was into it, and their enthusiasm made up for the straightforwardness coming off the stage.
Ric even looked a bit uncomfortable, a few times saying “Thank you” after a song, then staying at the microphone a bit longer, without saying anything, for a brief awkward pause. Then the next song would start and they’d get right back into it.

The Cars of yesteryear were icons. The Cars of today seem like they were going out there to acknowledge that, even if they couldn’t quite match it.

But their new album, Move Like This, is great.
And in the words of Irish Paul: “The Cars? Seen ’em”.