Saturday, April 21, 2012

Today Should Be A National Holiday

If you are on Long Island head on over to Looney Tunes in West Babylon.  They still have quite a bit of inventory left from today's releases but it is going fast.

Happy Record Store Day!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Man Behind The Drums

Asked what band he would want to join, Eric Clapton said The Band.   They were the quintessential American musical group who looking back birthed an entire genre of music.  Robbie Robertson wrote the songs and Richard Manuel was their soul but Levon Helm was their heart.  We've all known this day would come as he has been battling cancer off and on since the late 90's but the news today still hits home really hard.  I've never met Levon, but he has been a big part of my life through his music for over 35 years.

When I was a kid in the 70's it was all about Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith.  Then I saw The Last Waltz on HBO around '78 and my musical journey changed forever.  Who the hell are these old guys (that's pretty funny looking back) and why haven't I heard this music before.  My parents were vast musical wastelands so it was by accident that I heard all of these great sounds.  I was hooked and it led me to so many other great artists over the years, but I kept coming back to the Band time and again.  I was hooked from the first song...

These guys made a sound that uniquely American music and Levon in particular was, for me, the voice. I bought it all from Big Pink right up to The Last Waltz and I've been playing the crap out of them ever since.

One of my big music regrets is that I was too young to ever see them live. I was so excited a couple of years back to catch Levon and his Ramble band a couple of times. It may not have been the same but it was, well it was wonderful. His voice was pretty shot by this point but the joy and love came shining through. My family had been playing Electric Dirt pretty heavily at the time. My son is still singing Tennessee Jed...he thought it was one of his because when Levon sang one he owned it.

I really don't have the ability to put into words how much Levon has meant to me over the years. A true American treasure that won't soon be forgotten. If you don't know this already you have some catching up to do.  Rest In Peace Levon.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

2012 - Not Off To The Best Start

I was hoping to hear some great music this year but so far after 1/4 of the year passing I am less than knocked out.  I know things will pick up but there hasn't been too much to fire me up thus far, the exception being Wrecking Ball which keeps on getting better.  Two releases in particular have been a disappointment, one from a group that I really like and one that has been hyped to hell and back.

I have to admit that I have not seen the Alabama Shakes live which is supposed to be something special.  The hype made it sound like they are right up my alley music wise but so far...I got nuthin'.  The songs come off as half baked and not ready for prime time.  I've tried a few times but I just can't get into it.  So much for this year's next big thing.

The new Lucero is more of a problem for me as I really like these guys.  It's not that the new record is bad...far from it.  The issue is that it is not great and I want it to be.  This is like a slicker version of 1372 Overton Park (which I really liked) but with too little grit.  Will the songs come to life live, probably (I'll find out next week) but after a bunch of listens I find myself not exactly seeking this one out to put on the turntable.

Maybe my thoughts will change...that happens all the time, but so far I am less than thrilled with either of these releases.

I have some thoughts on Dr. John and Joe Pug coming up some time in the near future. Things are beginning to look up.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Prisoners of Second Avenue - KJ Farrell's

Prisoners of Second Avenue are Jimmy Vivino, Rich Pagano and John Conte and they bring back the sounds of the late 60's and early 70's (think Fillmore).  All three musicians are fixtures on the NYC scene (Jimmy and Rich are in the Fab Faux as well) and all are damn fine players.  This is not your typical cover act.

PoSA make for fun night out.  If your tastes lean towards Cream, The Band, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix and the like you should check them out if you get the chance.  Last night they played classics from all of these legends and more.  Good times.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Bruce Springsteen at the Izod Center - April 4th

I wasn't going to go this tour.  I've seen Bruce and the band so many times over the years that I thought I could sit this one out.  The tickets were damn near impossible to get and I wasn't going to pay a scalper.  I was always able to get tickets before so this one I was sitting out.  Then the record dropped and I kept playing it and playing it.  I absolutely love Wrecking's everything a Springsteen record should be.  So in the end what did I do?  I paid the scalpers.  And I am so glad I did.

Bruce is never less than good and so often great that you can take him for granted.  I've see pretty much every tour multiple times for over 30 years and have enjoyed them all and absolutely loved most nights.  Did I mention that I am a fan?  What is really amazing to me is how the shows are getting better over the past 15 years.  The Reunion tour was really good...lots of old classics.  The Rising tour was full of great new songs and it morphed into these mega celebrations by the time it hit the stadiums.  The Magic / WOAD tour was a fan's dream by the end with those great Giants Stadium shows and the E. Street and River nights at MSG, not to mention the Seeger Sessions and solo shows!  Last night was as good as those those nights and sometimes even better.

You can tell how deeply Bruce feels about the new music. It takes center stage and the expanded E. Street Band is more than up to the task of making it come alive. Last night he played 7 of the 11 new songs and then came the tour premiers!

Wow! Three off the River (Ties That Bind, Jackson Cage and Ramrod), Candy's Room and a stellar version of Racing In The Streets. I've seen dozens of shows over the years and this one seems to pop up infrequently on the nights I go. Last night's version with the full horns was simply breathtaking. It needs to be in the set more often. And then there was Johnny 99 getting the FULL band treatment. A big highlight.

The only bummer for the night is the gaping hole left by the loss of the Big Man. Jake is pretty good in his own right and the crowd is loving him, but there is no denying that we are indeed missing a few pieces on stage. The video montage during 10th Avenue Freeze out was an emotional time for all. A nice touch that should be there every night.

I can't say enough good things about Wrecking Ball and Rocky Ground is becoming a favorite. Great performance last night with Michelle Moore. Trapped is a long time favorite and was a great way to kick off the encores. I really have nothing bad to say. I would have liked Land of Hope and Dreams, but with all the surprises who am I to complain?

Anyone have an extra for Monday night?