Sunday, April 29, 2012

Wayne Shorter quartet at Lincoln Center


4/29/12 09:27 Traffic on the LIE was heavy in Queens. I watched as time extra time I gave myself seep away as the car crawled in the fast lane. No accidents reported on the radio, it was Saturday night west bound traffic heading into the city. When I feel myself getting stressed out, I put it in God’s hand. Like life the traffic is not in my control, but I looked for openings and weaved in and around some drivers. Crossed over Ed Koch Bridge, down to 58th and across town and up Eighth but had to circle around Columbus once like a fool - I cursed out loud for following the GPS. I parked the car with minutes to get inside. Walked past a long line waiting to get tickets and took a cramped elevator up. I was closer to a young man, so much I could smell his hair. Found where I had to go, around and up the stairs. Minutes… then the rush dispelled as I took my seat. I took in the warmth of the Rose Theatre, which enhanced the show as the colors in the room faded to deep red and blues. I knew I was in for something special. Lincoln Center has created a unique theatre. When it comes to going to jazz concerts, I accepted the stark reality years ago, I will go by myself; ever since Betty Carter at the Bottom Line when Freddie Hubbard made a guest appearance. Go alone. There are not many jazz fans. But the isolation in the crowd allows me to absorb the music, the lights, and the long shadows in the corners. The lights dimmed. Wayne Shorter’s quartet walked out onto the stage. Mr. Shorter walked slowly with a slight bent back and appeared heavier than when I saw him perform at Carnegie Hall at Ron Carter’s 70th birthday celebration. I’ve seen the quartet’s drummer Brian Blade perform at Birdland with Pharaoh Sanders and became a fan. He played on a vintage Gretsch drum kit and from resources the bass is extremely rare. If you have an opportunity to see him, stop everything and go. The man explodes on the stool, kicking and bouncing but maintains a disciplined monk like rhythm. He used a towel at one point, making a soft sound over his bass. The bassist John Patitucci and Brian were going back and forth in union. I was distracted more by watching those two than Shorter who leaned against the grand piano as the pianist Danilo Perez played at times haunting music. The group has played together for ten years, they gelled together, the moment Mr. Shorter raised his two fingers they carried the last song for an extra measure. It appeared as if Shorter had some difficulty with his tenor and switched back to the alto. What distinguishes each performance is Wayne’s ability to create a new sound. His minimal approaches reminded me of Miles Davis, but this group continues to create their own standards.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Levon Helm brings memories of uncle Gene

17:59 This station is Northport My uncle Gene was a tough man, he had a beard, a raspy voice, smoked Camel non filters. He had tattoos up and down his arms and there were a few naked women their faded inked still breasts caught my attention the most. I wanted a tattoo of a naked woman on my arms. It never happened and doubt it ever will. Back in 1976, we were visiting Uncle Gene and Aunt Betty in California. The Band played a farewell concert live on TV. Was it the Last Waltz? I recognized some of the songs that were played that night, it may be the fact I heard The Weight so many times, but I recall the care free Robbie Robertson wearing a sports jacket and looking stylish up on the stage while the rest of the players were banging away at their instruments. I think it was Robertson who broke up the band, wanted to be a solo rock star. When it was time for the band to play their last song, I heard my tough uncle crying, this was it…The Band was no more. His hands were in his face and I was surprised to see he was that upset. The next time I heard him cry was the time I had just moved to Cali and we were in a bar in Los Gatos drinking beers. I told him I wanted to be like him, drive a truck across the country. No, he said and grasped my hands as if praying over them; be like your father…he is a good man. It’s difficult for a young ignorant man to know their father is a good man, responsible, but the life on the road was more appealing. I moved to California to follow a dream and was getting a lesson on life and learned more about despair and addiction. Gene died of cancer a few years after that, he was a broken man. One of the last times I saw him, he was homeless living in the back of a barber shop with my aunt. Levon Helm passed away yesterday of cancer, he was the leader in The Band and for the past few years has played live. He was diagnosed with throat cancer back in ’98, so the idea that I could see him brought back memories of uncle Gene who I am not sure if he saw him or The Band. Anyway, I bought tickets to see Levon Helm play in central park a few summers ago. It was a night like this, overcast yet warm with a breeze blowing. Since I couldn’t find anyone who really wanted to go, I went by myself. The backdrop of the city buildings against the passing stream of low clouds was breathtaking. On the stage the man played his drums, so happy to be playing with a wide smile on his face. They played a song from the Brother Where Art Thou movie and I was loving it, even with the eventual pellets of cool rain and flashes of lightening, the show was distinct and while the music filtered through the crowd I thought of uncle Gene with his faded tats and nodding in unison to the beat from the passing clouds. May Levon continue to bless the crowd with his music.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

How Dale Murphy is a rarity among men & seeing The Baseball Project at the Met



. I bought tickets to see The Baseball Project at the Met, but by Friday afternoon it was obvious from the responses either no thank you or there were other plans, that I was going solo. What sucked was the potential to pay $30 for parking on top of the ticket no one was going to use. There was a forum before the performance, breaking the color barrier with Jackie Robinson’s daughter as well as two columnists, William C Rhoden and Sean Kirst, as well as Dale Murphy. One of the people I invited to the event was my coworker Drew and on Thursday I let him know I had an extra ticket. He apologized and said he couldn’t make it since his father was in the hospital and the prognosis was not good in fact they signed the DNR release papers. Dale Murphy is Drew’s hero so I was sorry he could not make it. I was even more sorry Ali couldn’t be there since she loves REM and especially meeting or talking to Peter Buck and or Mike Mills though my wife has a secret love for Michael Stipe. The forum was provoking; describing the black cat incident the Jackie encountered in Syracuse and how he reacted to bigotry, the black cat incident is when some of the opposing players through a black cat into the field and told Jackie there goes your cousin. When he hit a double and eventually rounded third to home since he was hit in, he called out to the Syracuse Players that he guessed his cousin was happy…Rhoden described how we need to be honest with history as well, when black players were segregated to hotels outside the city limits there was a demand for equal housing. When the news hit what the outcry was, many black players refused to participate since being outside the city, meant there were no curfews and they partied all night without anyone caring. Dale Murphy is a kind gentleman. I found him after the forum and before the Baseball Project went on stage and asked if he could sign a ball I brought. After he handed the ball to me, I asked him for a favor. “I have a colleague who considers you to be his hero, but he could not make it tonight since his father is sick in fact they signed the DNR papers. His face went from a smile to concern. I could tell he wanted to help. If I call my friend would you mind speaking to him and giving him some encouragement? Sure. We walked out to the lobby and I called Drew. Hey, I got someone who wants to talk to you…they spoke for a couple of minutes and Dale said God Bless and handed me the phone. God Bless you Dale Murphy…by the time I got back to my seat BP was performing on the stage. The sound in the Bonnie J Sacerdote Lecture hall/theatre which holds 700 was crisp. The orchestra was close to a full capacity. I read one review of the performance on another blog and swear the person must have been sitting close by since our pictures are similar. With Mike Mills on piano and organ and bass their sound was more distinct, it would be a nice addition to have Mike join permanently. I’m including a video as well to give you an idea of the sparse stage, the slide show backdrop of old baseball cards that made the night even more worthwhile, though the highlight was a new song specifically written for the museums baseball card collection or better known as the Jefferson R. Burdick collection. I guess with a name like Jefferson Burdick Scott McCaughey could feel inspired…after the show, I gave Peter a copy of the novel Killer Commute since I used the lyrics from the REM song Mr. Richards, here is his holding his copy. He signed some BP records and as always is down to earth. I had Scott sign a few things as well and asked if there was a possibility the Young Fresh Fellows would ever play in New York or on the East coast. Scott said he doubted it since most of the other guys have family obligations but he seemed surprised someone was asking about them. Good news, The Young Fresh Fellows are releasing a new album. Last fall I wrote to Steve Wynn and mentioned what Ali was going through, since I missed one of their gigs. When I introduced myself he seemed or was being nice to remember who I was. Briefly I told him who I was and he asked how Ali was and to give her his best. Steve mentioned BP is tentatively set to play the city winery on July 5th and hoped to see us there. I have to tell you, Steve is a sincere gentlemen, I met two very caring men last night. As I was walking out I thought I would miss Linda since I had most of their signatures on their album High and Inside, but there she was in the aisle; she explained to us (me & the) women she was speaking to how she went out and bought the astro turf as a home depot and bought the broken bobble head on EBay…she gave the bobble head a Seattle Mariner to Peter as a memento. OK, for Record Store day The Baseball Project has a limited edition run of a 45…limited to only 300. Steve said he has 50 that he is selling at shows and they’re going fast. I bought one at the show and had it signed and ordered one last week from Euclid Records: http://www.euclidrecords.com/catalog/product_detail.jsp?id=4864179

How Dale Murphy is a rarity among men & seeing The Baseball Project at the Met



. I bought tickets to see The Baseball Project at the Met, but by Friday afternoon it was obvious from the responses either no thank you or there were other plans, that I was going solo. What sucked was the potential to pay $30 for parking on top of the ticket no one was going to use. There was a forum before the performance, breaking the color barrier with Jackie Robinson’s daughter as well as two columnists, William C Rhoden and Sean Kirst, as well as Dale Murphy. One of the people I invited to the event was my coworker Drew and on Thursday I let him know I had an extra ticket. He apologized and said he couldn’t make it since his father was in the hospital and the prognosis was not good in fact they signed the DNR release papers. Dale Murphy is Drew’s hero so I was sorry he could not make it. I was even more sorry Ali couldn’t be there since she loves REM and especially meeting or talking to Peter Buck and or Mike Mills though my wife has a secret love for Michael Stipe. The forum was provoking; describing the black cat incident the Jackie encountered in Syracuse and how he reacted to bigotry, the black cat incident is when some of the opposing players through a black cat into the field and told Jackie there goes your cousin. When he hit a double and eventually rounded third to home since he was hit in, he called out to the Syracuse Players that he guessed his cousin was happy…Rhoden described how we need to be honest with history as well, when black players were segregated to hotels outside the city limits there was a demand for some for equal housing. When the news hit what the outcry was, they refused to participate since being outside the city, meant there were no curfews and they partied all night without anyone caring. Dale Murphy is a kind gentleman. I found him before the Baseball Project went on stage and asked if he could sign a ball I brought. After he handed the ball to me, I asked him for a favor. “I have a colleague who considers you to be his hero, but he could not make it tonight since his father is sick in fact they signed the DNR papers. His face went from a smile to concern. I could tell he wanted to help. If I call my friend would you mind speaking to him and giving him some encouragement? Sure. We walked out to the lobby and I called Drew. Hey, I got someone who wants to talk to you…they spoke for a couple of minutes and Dale said God Bless and handed me the phone. God Bless you Dale Murphy…by the time I got back to my seat BP was performing on the stage. The sound in the Bonnie J Sacerdote Lecture hall/theatre which holds 700 was crisp. The orchestra was close to a full capacity. I read one review of the performance on another blog and swear the person must have been sitting close by since our pictures are similar. With Mike Mills on piano and organ and bass their sound was more distinct, it would be a nice addition to have Mike join permanently. I’m including a video as well to give you an idea of the sparse stage, the slide show backdrop of old baseball cards that made the night even more worthwhile, though the highlight was a new song specifically written for the museums baseball card collection or better known as the Jefferson R. Burdick collection. I guess with a name like Jefferson Burdick Scott McCaughey could feel inspired…after the show, I gave Peter a copy of the novel Killer Commute since I used the lyrics from the REM song Mr. Richards, here is his holding his copy. He signed some BP records and as always is down to earth. I had Scott sign a few things as well and asked if there was a possibility the Young Fresh Fellows would ever play in New York or on the East coast. Scott said he doubted it since most of the other guys have family obligations but he seemed surprised someone was asking about them. Good news, The Young Fresh Fellows are releasing a new album. Last fall I wrote to Steve Wynn and mentioned what Ali was going through, since I missed one of their gigs. When I introduced myself he seemed or was being nice to remember who I was. Briefly I told him who I was and he asked how Ali was and to give her his best. Steve mentioned BP is tentatively set to play the city winery on July 5th and hoped to see us there. I have to tell you, Steve is a sincere gentlemen, I met two very caring men last night. As I was walking out I thought I would miss Linda since I had most of their signatures on their album High and Inside, she was in the aisle and I explained to the women she was speaking to how she went out and bought the astro turf as a home depot and bought the broken bobble head on EBay…she gave the bobble head a Seattle Mariner to Peter as a memento. OK, for Record Store day The Baseball Project has a limited edition run of a 45…limited to only 300. Steve said he has 50 that he is selling at shows and they’re going fast. I bought one at the show and had it signed and ordered one last week from Euclid Records: http://www.euclidrecords.com/catalog/product_detail.jsp?id=4864179

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Nada Surf plays a sell out at Webster Hall



4/8/12 20:32

Nada Surf played to a sell out a Webster Hall last night. Being an old fart myself I could relate to their stories they shared when decades before they came to see bands play at what was formally known to many of us as the Ritz. I heard Daniel Lorca their bassist tell us how he saw Stray Cats practice till he was booted out for honestly admitting he was not with the band. I heard King Creole and the Coconuts mentioned as well. Apologies for missing the opening band, An Horse, but I wanted to make sure my daughter Emma Tess ate some dinner. There was a chance we could not get in, I passed by after getting a wrist band and walked up the stairs. Emma was getting the third degree and I told the bouncer she was with me. How old is she? Eighteen. Emma Tess is fifteen. The bouncer was going to get his boss, but he looked at me and pleaded with me, please don’t let her drink. She’s my daughter and she won’t drink. Instead of going up to the main floor to see the show, we walked out of the venue after the gentleman checking us in said Nada Surf was not coming onto the stage till 8:30. So we made it to a burger place around the corner from Strand Book Shop. Had a bite and went into Strand. Their price tags on some of the books gave their rates compared to Kindle rates. I sensed a fight to keep books on shelves in independent book stores. If we let a corporation feed us their picks of literature which is taking place - we will receive a limited education, one of celebrity biographies, cook books and the like. Before I go there, I have to confess to you. Only recently have I discovered Nada Surf from listening to them on WFUV. So the lights dimmed and the band walked out onto the stage and introduced the first song Clear Eye Clouded Mind off their new album The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy. Many of the songs were off the album, but overall the concert had an array for the hometown crowd who came out. Almost each break the band thanked the crowd. There was a real sense of long distance commitment from the diverse faces of various ages and sexes who peered up at the stage. And I have to say I’m curious to discover more of their music and plan to see them again, come to think of it they are playing in PA in June and I might be able to swing a business trip and catch them again. By that time I hope to have a few of their albums under my belt. The show did start early Matthew Caws their singer said he wished he could let time skip a couple of hours. Maybe projecting midnight although he said the show will be over at 10:15. The new album is a beauty, When I was Young which was played last night seemed to resonate in all of our minds. The next song on the album which reminds me a little of early REM and played on WFUV Jules and Jim. So an early show was fine for me; on the drive back home we listened to the new album and both could relate to their song Teenage Dream since Emma Tess has an ability to ask many questions.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Memphis blister city


The floors are washed. I was in my own world as I swept. A sheet of paper is flapping in the wind in the kitchen, since the windows are open. A train pulled into the station. I went to bed after 1 AM. I didn’t want to disturb anyone but Buk heard me and cried for me to let him out of Emma’s room, I ignored him but Emma got up and opened the door. He raced down stairs. I assumed he thought it was later in the morning. I pulled open the sliding glass door and watched his back stiffen as he prepared to attack a raccoon or an opossum. There was nothing out there, though he boldly stalked the back yard for any intruders. I drank some water and called it a night. The moon was full. It would be a good night to take out the telescope into the back yard, maybe tonight we can set up a fire and sit outside for a little while. It’s still chilly, but the cool air is reassuring that the new ice aged is not about to attack New York, the polar caps are in their diminishing regions and the flowers are blooming on time. Today I will take a run and head over to the gym for a swim and workout. Earlier Ali and I went over our calendars. We made a date when we’d head down to Disney. The next couple of months will be hectic. Between graduations, birthdays, in almost one month Ali will be 40, travelling to San Francisco to present and I hope I can get down to Los Angeles to see my cousin Jason. We’ve talked about it for years. It would be great to meet his wife and children for the first time. He’s invited me to stay over. It means I’m renting a car or flying down to see him. The last time I was in Los Angeles was when the company flew me out there to participate in a cross country drive. I’ve always wanted to drive across the United States, hours on the road, listening to the endless chatter from Gerry the driver or his crooning, he had a decent voice. I knew I was cutting like a hired Kerouac through states I may never get in again, so when the idea was mentioned I jumped at the chance. I have to say, with the group of misfits that we were, we survived though governors kept us at a measly 55 MPH and we barely slept in any hotel or motel for long. It was down for a few hours and back on the highway. McDonalds was the food we ate for the week, each morning we’d stop for breakfast. There were spots we had to stop at to replenish dry ice. One guy had the bright idea that he could replenish the ice as we drove; I told him he could die since there would be no oxygen, nitrogen removes oxygen from the air. Out of the six men who drove with me on that trip, there is only me and the genius who still works at the company. I can tell you I saw Graceland but will never forget the devastating poverty in Memphis, the number of liquor stores with their clumps of unemployed African American men standing motionless - watching the trucks pass their existence.