Saturday, September 6, 2008

Do you (You!) feel like I do?

For the first time in a couple years, I loaded up my vehicle today and headed over to our local flea market at the old drive-in theater to peddle my wares and make a few extra bucks.  Apart from the old movie screen having been torn down, not much has changed there—same ol' crowd, same ol' routine.  If they ever decide to field an Olympic Low-Baller team, they can recruit its members right there at the Swap 'n' Shop, as nearly every time I go to sell there, some schmuck tries to get me to sell something for less than half of my asking price.  I even had some mongoloid today who tried to pay for a $6 item with a $100 bill!  Another thing that kills me about this particular flea market is how they don't even enforce their own rules.  For example:

—No pets:  I see people walking their dogs there damn near every time I go.
—No loud noise/music:  There are boom-boxes going off everywhere, not to mention lawn mowers, chainsaws and such being test-driven by potential buyers.
—No food or drink:  People everywhere (including yours truly) not only eat and drink there, but sell food and drink there!
—No pornography:  I didn't seem him today, but there's usually some Cecil B. DePorno scalawag selling XXX-rated DVDs right next to the men's room by the snack bar.
—All vendors must collect sales tax:  Riiiiight...

Another thing I get every time I go to sell is "How much are ya gettin' for yer CDs?" even though the prices are clearly marked on the little white stickers I went out of my way to affix to them.  Makes me want to ask these fools, "How'd you get this far in life?"  Then there's the idiot smokers hovering over my valuable baseball cards on the table with their ashes dangling precariously from the end of their cigs—makes me feel like Billie Bird in Sixteen Candles with the spatula trying to catch the other old gal's ashes while she's cooking...

Amid all the folderol surrounding John McCain’s running mate Sarah Palin, the term "vetting" has been used quite a bit.  Until this week, I was totally unaware there was such a word, which basically means to check out or investigate someone’s background thoroughly, and it sounds to me like McCain didn’t exactly do all his homework on this gal, given the various scandals and FUBARs she has been/is involved in, and not just the one regarding her knocked-up offspring.  Speaking of which, while I generally despise the use of the suffix "gate" when applied to political scandals these days, I’ll make an exception for this one, which the media have dubbed "Broken Water-gate".  Friggin’ brilliant!  Don’t forget to boil water and tear sheets…

As for Ms. Palin, I'm still kinda stuck on the Michael Palin/Monty Python thing with her.  Every time I hear that surname, I think of "Albatross! Albatross!"  Can't wait to see her do the "Fish-Slapping Dance", either.  Oh, she's a lumberjack and she's okay...

Speaking of political scandals, Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick stepped down this week after admitting to various and sundry misdeeds while in office, including obstruction of justice and perjury, plus, a felony assault charge against a Wayne County sheriff deputy.  No wonder the Motor City has such a bad rep when even the freakin' mayor is a thug…

There was a whopping throng of less than 600 people in the stands on Wednesday for the Florida Marlins home game vs. the Atlanta Braves—not exactly a ringing endorsement for a team trying to get the Sunshine State to build them a new stadium.  According to some folks on the ‘net, it was so quiet in the stands when Braves manager Bobby Cox came out to argue a call with the ump, that the entire exchange could clearly be heard on the Atlanta radio broadcast.  Part of the blame for the low attendance is the beastly hot weather for a game that easily could’ve been scheduled at night instead of as a "getaway" day game for both teams, especially considering the Marlins had the next day off altogether, and the Braves only had to "get away" back to Atlanta, which is about an hour flight from Miami.

And it’s not like the Marlins are a terrible team, either—they were still in the race until about three weeks ago.  No offense to the good folks down that way, but I’m beginning to think the state of Florida should’ve remained strictly a Spring Training baseball site, given the poor attendance at both Marlins and Tampa Bay Rays games.  Granted it doesn’t help that the Marlins are trying to play baseball in a football stadium and the Rays play in a dismal dome, but that’s no excuse for such low attendance when they at least have competitive teams on the field.

I’m very unimpressed with the uninspired nickname created by the new Oklahoma City NBA franchise—"Thunder".  Boring!  Thunder sounds so minor-league to me, for some reason—how about something a little more unique like the Oklahoma City Microburst?  I was also kinda hoping they might revive the name of an old soccer team OKC used to have that I thought was pretty clever—the Oklahoma City Slickers...

"Guitar Man"—JERRY REED (1968)  "I led a four-piece band of jammers…"  I was reminded of this one the other day while listening to Jerry’s Best-Of CD.  Unaware back when I was a kid of what jamming meant, I thought Jerry sang, "a four-piece band in jammies."

I’m going with my head instead of my heart this year, thus I’m picking the Dallas Cowboys to win the Super Bowl this season.  I have them playing the Colts in a re-match of SB V, and I see the mighty Patriots faltering a bit this season—they can’t keep it up forever.

In a related front, I pulled a Favre and decided to come out of retirement and play fantasy football again this year after all.  My draft went well, as I got Tom Brady as my QB and the entire Patriots defense, and guess who New England plays first—the Kansas City Chefs.  Loooooking goooood!

My good friend Stacy—1,800 miles away in Seattle—sent me a nice little piece of Raytown nostalgia last night of an old department store I practically grew up in, Sam's Bargain Town.  The place was located about four blocks from my mom and dad's house on 350 Hiway (the main drag in Raytown), and I used to hoof it up there all the time when I was a kid.  I bought my first Kiss album there—Kiss Alive! for a whopping $6.38.  In fact, much of my early record collection was purchased there—and sometimes shoplifted before I knew better!  My brother even worked at Sam's part-time when he was in high school and my mom and sister used to work right across the parking lot at an old-school burger joint on the corner called White's Drive-In—I'd give my left nut to time-travel back there for just one more double cheeseburger and a big ice cream cone.  I even used to hit tennis balls off the side of the Sam's building in the empty parking lot all the time—great memories...

It's ironic with a name like Sam's that as soon as the Wal-Mart in Raytown opened in 1987, that was the beginning of the end for our Sam's, as they couldn't compete with the Evil Empire and closed a couple years later.  The building was demolished in the mid-'90s to make way for a new strip mall.  The old Sam's pharmacy still operates about half a mile up the road at an Apple Market grocery store.  The other Sam's store (long since closed) on Truman Road—pictured here circa. the late '70s—still sits in the 'Hood on Truman Road, but has gone through numerous encarnations over the years.

You can read all about Sam's and other old-school retail stores on this dandy website.  Now here's the funny part—I'd visited that same website before last night, and didn't realize it!  I pirated the TG&Y pics for a previous blog entry on this very same subject a few months back and didn't even notice the Sam's photos up top—go figure.  Mucho appreciation, Stacy, for taking my memory for a nice little jog—you made my week!

A Diamond In The Smooth

While tooling around L.A. (where “the sun shines most the time—and the feeling is laid-back”) last month, “Solitary Man” came on the car radio and it dawned on me that I’m long overdue here to pay tribute to singer/songwriter Neil Diamond, who was a big favorite of mine growing up.  It’s easy to forget how prolific this guy was back in the ‘60s and ‘70s before he started putting out schlock in the late ‘70s and started wearing sparkly shirts in concert.  Pretty much everything he did up through 1977’s “Desiree” was pretty good stuff, then things kinda went to hell in a handbag starting with 1978’s “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” (with Babs Streisand) and continuing with 1980’s “Love On The Rocks” (phew!).  He’s another guy I’d like to have seen in concert in his prime, and I hear he still puts on a good show even today, except on the nights when he sounds more like Redd Foxx gargling razor blades, as happened during Neil’s concert debacle last month in Columbus, Ohio, after which he honorably offered full ticket refunds to those fans who felt screwed.  Diamond could’ve easily taken the money and ran, but he didn’t, and I find that commendable in this day and age.

He’s a household name now, and about as mainstream as a musician/singer can get, but can you believe Neil Diamond was once banned from performing at Brigham Young University in Utah in the early ‘70s?  The Mormons claimed it was because his hair was too long, but something tells me it might’ve had more to do with him being Jewish than the hair, but whatever.  ND was all over Top 40 AM radio when I was a wee lad, and he even though I barely understood what the heck he was singing about sometimes—“Crunchy Granola Suite” (?!?)—I just thought he was a cool dude, and his classics have certainly stood the test of time.  Which begs the question, why the fuck isn’t Neil Diamond in the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame yet?  I bet the average music lover could easily reel off the names of 10-15 Neil Diamond songs and not know one friggin’ Leonard Cohen tune, yet they voted Brother Leo into the Hall last year.

—A little silly trivia for you:  I believe Neil Diamond is the co-holder of the world record for the shortest title of a Top 40 song ever—1973’s “Be”, which is tied with Bread’s “If” from 1971.
—I vehemently disagree with Neil’s line from “Bring Me Flowers” where he says, “Yesterdays don’t count anymore.”  They have to count for me, musically, because there ain’t shit to listen to today, and the future of popular music looks very dark, indeed.  Therefore, I have no option but to mine the past to find music that pleases me…

My all-time Neil Diamond Top 15:
15) “La Bamba” (1968)  I get the feeling Neil can’t speak Spanish worth a lick, but he does his best Ritchie Valens impression anyhow, and it’s a total hoot.
14) “Desiree” (1977)  ND was starting to sound a bit schlocky here, but I’ve always liked this song, for some reason.
13) “Kentucky Woman” (1967)  Not sure which version I like better, Diamond’s or Deep Purple’s primal 1968 cover of it.
12) “Song Sung Blue” (1972)  A favorite from the summer of ’72 for me, Neil seemed to suffer from Lawrence Welk Syndrome when he sang the line “start to feelin’ good-a”, but we’ll forgive him.  A one and a two…
11) “Sweet Caroline” (1970)  I still don’t fully understand how or why Red Sox Nation has adopted this one as its unofficial anthem, but it’s a fine Top 40 single all the same.  I love the live version from 1971’s Gold album where Neil kinda flubs the line “but then I know it's growing strong” and confesses, “I never could hit that note” on strong.
10) “Holly Holy” (1969)  Sounding like it was recorded in a church, this one made a nice bookend to go along with Neil’s other 1969 pseudo-religious biggie, “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show”.
9) “And The Grass Won’t Pay No Mind”—Mark Lindsay (1970)  Neil also recorded this one himself, but I prefer Lindsay’s version.  Even though it’s really not all that spectacular a song, I love it because every time I hear it, it just takes me back to a simpler time when the world wasn’t so fucked-up...
8) “Thank The Lord For The Night Time” (1967)  Apart from “Cherry x 2”, this was Diamond’s finest Rocker.
7) “I’m A Believer”—The Monkees (1967)  Is there not a more quintessential Pop single than this monster?  It had the hook, it had great lyrics, and The Monkees were some lucky bastards to have this one handed to them.  Diamond’s “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You” was also a big hit for the “Prefab Four—to wit, Brother Neil earned quite a few nice royalty checks in his day.
6) “Longfellow Serenade” (1974)  I loved this song when it first came out because it sounded to me like a really cool “grown-up” love song.  I remember my older brother didn’t much care for it, and often tinkered with the lyrics, singing “for I was horny—but she was ugly!” in place of “for I was lonely, and she was lonely.”  Fun memories, all the same.
5) “I Am…I Said” (1971)  From about the fall of 1970 through about the summer of ’76 (when Kiss corrupted me) was my Golden Age of Top 40 radio, if you will.  The radio was my constant companion during this time, and “I Am…” was an early favorite from that magical year of 1971 where virtually everything they played on WHB here in K.C. sounded so good to my 7-year-old ears.  I loved how this one sounded so lofty and dramatic with the horns and strings backing it.
4) “Cracklin’ Rosie” (1970)  One of the earliest songs I recall from my “Golden Age”, it was on the charts when the Partridge Family first came along, as well as when Smokey & The Miracles’ killer “Tears Of A Clown” came out—radio heaven for yours truly!  This song features some of the prettier acoustic guitar fills you’ll ever hear, in harmony with ND singing the verses.
3) “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show” (1969)  A Jewish guy from Brooklyn doing Southern Baptist preacher shtick is every bit as preposterous as the late Junior Samples singing arias from La Boheme woulda been, but Diamond somehow made it work, so preach brother, preach!  I always loved singing the line “pack up the babies and grab the old ladies” when I was a kid.  Even though the first three words of this song are “Hot August night…”, for some reason it was years later before I ever made the connection between it and the title of Neil’s highly successful 1972 live concert album.  I just assumed it was really warm and it was August when he played that concert, hence the title.  Oh, dopey me…
2) “Cherry, Cherry” (1973—live single version)  I loved the 45 release of this cut from Hot August Night, but was very miffed when I discovered years later that someone had overdubbed electric guitar fills onto the 1973 single that gave it a little extra kick, because they were nowhere to be found when I first listened to HAN.  The single version also omitted a nice piano solo by someone named Allen.  If anyone knows where I can find a CD copy of the ’73 single version, please let me know—all I have left of it is a very scratchy 45.  Oh by the way, the original 1966 studio version doesn’t suck either—this is one of the catchiest Top 40 tunes you’ll ever hear.  I remember some Gin Blossoms-type alternative bar band we saw back in the ‘90s called They Came In Droves even sounded really good playing this one.
1) “Solitary Man” (1966)  This one was so good, it got a second chance and was reissued in 1970 after it stiffed out in ‘66.  I prefer the original Bang Records version over the one that came out later on Columbia Records with the unnecessary electric piano backing.  The trombone bits that back up the chorus made this song sound very dramatic and gave it that extra little bit of oomph.  This one would definitely make the soundtrack to the movie of my life story…

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Concert Trek - Episode 21

At long last, the final chapter...

101) Pat Benatar/Night Ranger (Tuesday, August 28, 2001Starlight Theater) Ticket price: Free

My ticket to this concert—normally $29.50—was a belated birthday gift bestowed upon me by my friend Rose.  Thanks to her season ticket-holder status at Starlight with her husband, Rose was able to snag us some phenomenal seats—seventh row, just to the left of center.  Night Ranger opened with a very spirited 45-minute set, during which guitarists Brad Gillis and Jeff Watson and bassist Jack Blades all snuck down into the audience and played one song while roaming all around us.  This was way before I had a digital camera, or I’d have had some awesome close-ups.  Watson also tossed numerous guitar picks into the crowd, and Rose caught one of them.  Meantime, they played all their biggies, as well as the surprise inclusion of the big Damn Yankees hit that Blades sang on, “Coming Of Age”.  I was never a huge NR fan, but like Loverboy and .38 Special, they’re a good band, yet not quite a truly great one.  I’ve seen them play live twice, and they were certainly one of the better opening acts I’ve ever encountered.

SET LIST:  Touch Of Madness/Rumors In The Air/Sing Me Away/ We Like To Rock/piano solo/Sentimental Street/Four In The Morning (I Can’t Take Any More)/When You Close Your Eyes/Coming Of Age/Don’t Tell Me You Love Me  ENCORES:  Sister Christian/Rock In America

A little while later, Pat Benatar hit the stage, and to my delight, looked infinitely better than she did the last time I saw her in 1997 (see Episode 16).  Instead of those gaudy green Sears Toughskins, this time she wore black leather pants that left no doubt she still had a nice ass! Hubby Neil Giraldo was still sporting his silly bleach-blonde hair (no offense, but I think that looks so faggy on guys!), but he still played guitar just like a-ringin’ a bell.  Pat sounded a lot better than last time, too, and the show got off to a promising start with my personal Pat favorite “We Live For Love”, followed by “Shadows Of The Night”.  Then it all but ground to a halt after four songs when Pat and Neil trotted out their 17-year-old daughter Hayley and her two teen lesbo buddies to lip-sync three songs while Pat and the band disappeared. I was in the middle of a beer run when this all took place, and when I returned to my seat, I was like “What the fuck is this?!?”  While I commend Pat and Neil for indulging their daughter, did they really think an old-school Classic Rock crowd would be impressed with these Britney Spears wanna-be’s?  While Hayley is somewhat talented, there’s a time and place for everything, and I thought this was pretty cheesy the way they did this little dog-and-pony show in the middle of Pat’s set.  I could see these girls maybe as an opening act before Night Ranger—maybe—but they were totally out of their element here.  The crowd politely applauded the trio when they finished, but it was awkward applause, at best.

Pat resumed her set (with no further interruptions) with the surprise inclusion of “Invincible”. She and Neil also did an acoustic rendering of “Love Is A Battlefield” that wasn’t half-bad, and was thankfully minus the hoochie-mama choreography from the infamous video thereof—quite possibly the penultimate ‘80s cringe moment. “Hell Is For Children” and “Heartbreaker” closed the set to a vociferous crowd response, and “Promises In The Dark”, “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” and "All Fired Up" were the encores.  While a major improvement over her performance at Sandstone in ‘97, I was still a bit disappointed with this show.  There were too many glaring omissions for my liking—“Fire And Ice”, “You Better Run”, “Treat Me Right”, “Le Bel Age”—and the set lacked some continuity, thanks to the little detour we were led on with Hayley.  At least I got to see Pat Benatar up close, therefore for that alone it was worthwhile…

SET LIST:  We Live For Love/Shadows Of The Night/Somebody’s Baby/We Belong/-------set performed by daughter Hayley------Invincible/Love Is A Battlefield/True Love/Hell Is For Children/Heartbreaker ENCORES:  Promises In The Dark/Hit Me With Your Best Shot/All Fired Up

102) B-52s/Eddie Money (Friday, August 31, 2001Liberty Memorial Mall) Ticket price: $8.00

The annual Kansas City Spirit Festival was held over Labor Day weekend in ’01, and they had a pretty good music lineup this time around.  I’d always heard that Eddie Money puts on a good show, so I decided to check him out, and sure enough, he put on a decent set.  For some reason, I don’t remember too many details about this show (must have been the Foster’s), but I do remember Eddie kept reeling off one-liners between songs like “People ask me ‘How’d you get to be such a great blues singer?’  Easy—I became a Kansas City Royals fan!” (Place rim shot here.)  He did most of his biggies and finished with “Two Tickets To Paradise”.  Not a bad set, but I think he’d have been more enjoyable in a smaller venue like the Uptown Theater or Memorial Hall.

An interminable set change ensued before the B-52’s came on.  I managed to snag a pretty nice vantage point in my lawn chair off to the stage right side and the group put on a fairly spirited set.  Kate Pierson was (and is) still a doll, and exuded lots of energy on stage.  The sound was pretty crappy, apart from when they did “Roam”, and “Deadbeat Club” from Cosmic Thing was a welcome surprise.  They’d only played about an hour or so when they leapt into “Love Shack”, which naturally got the biggest response.  “Rock Lobster” was the encore, but I didn’t hear all of it because I headed for the exits to beat the inevitable Crown Center traffic clusterfuck.  Not a bad show for eight bucks, though.

103) Mark Lindsay/Gary Lewis/Mitch Ryder (Saturday, September 8, 2001—Olathe Town Square) Ticket price: Free

My earliest memories of being alive are of listening to my older siblings’ Paul Revere & The Raiders albums when I was three years old, and lead singer Mark Lindsay was my first musical idol—he was every bit as cool as Batman (Adam West) in my book!  My mom took the whole family to see The Raidas at Starlight Theater in 1971 when I was seven, and I have very vague memories of that performance.  While I generally abhor these multi-act ‘60s “nostalgia” music revues, I decided to attend this one at the Old Settler’s Days Fest in Olathe in hopes of perhaps meeting that very first musical idol of mine in person, and darned if I didn’t!

Mitch Ryder opened the show and acted just like the has-been that he was.  He only did five songs (three of which weren’t even his), and he wasted a good ten cumulative minutes of his set telling jokes to kill time.  I never did like “Devil With A Blue Dress On” anyway.  Immediately after Ryder, Gary Lewis came on.  The Playboys were the backing band for the entire show, and were quite good, actually.  Gary was a bit on the nerdy side, but they put on a decent set, doing all their big hits, including “This Diamond Ring” and “Everybody Loves A Clown”.  I kept waiting for him to imitate his old man and go, “Way-deee! Way-deee! I’m falling dowwwwn!” but he never did.

Meantime, there were a couple of oddities at this show.  For some reason, there was this conglomeration of deaf people standing off to the side of the stage, and there was in fact a signer right in front of the stage interpreting the lyrics for them—I’ve never seen that at any concert before.  Then there was this old redneck just off to my right trying to control his dog on a very long leash, and he eventually tied the dog up to a tree and just left him there.  Meanwhile, the dog is barking its ass off and harassing anyone who came near it while the old man was sitting in his car with his fat-ass ugly (I assume) wife in the parking garage behind us.  Uh, gee, you couldn’t leave the fucking dog at home tonight?  Finally, a cop came along and kindly asked the old fuck to collect his pet, and it was a mighty struggle for him to get the dog back in the car.  What is it about public gatherings that makes people act so goddamn stupid sometimes?

Anyway, back to the show.  Near the end of Gary Lewis’ set, I made my way around behind the stage on the street to see if I could catch a glimpse of Mark Lindsay before the show, so I parked myself in the chair on the corner near a building which I suspected they were using as a dressing room.  Sure enough, a little while later, Mr. Lindsay (who was much taller than I ever realized) was being escorted by one of Olathe’s Finest over to the backstage area.  I wandered back around behind the stage, and Mark immediately goes into a stretching routine, which surprised me a bit until he got on-stage and I saw whythe guy moves around a lot up there.  He opened with “Steppin’ Out”, followed by “Just Like Me” and “Hungry”, and the man was in fine voice, and was clearly the standout that night.  They also did “Louie, Louie”, which took a few detours into other classic Rock tunes like “Sunshine Of Your Love” and “Heartbreaker”. Mark dug out an old Revolutionary War Raider coat for that one too.  As I expected, he did “Arizona”, followed by “Indian Reservation” and “Kicks”, which was followed by an encore of Chuck Berry’s “Rock And Roll Music”, during which Ryder and Lewis rejoined Mark on-stage.

Meanwhile, they announced that all three guys were going to sign autographs at the left side of the stage, so I quickly got in queue for it.  I had to wait about 20 minutes or so, and endured these old rednecks in line reciting all their favorite Rock groups (this one ugly bitch behind me liked Arra-Smith, Evvis, the Mooda Blues, Fureigner, et al).  I finally got up to the signing table, and whipped out my Raiders Greatest Hits CD insert for the man to sign, and his assistant gal kindly handed it to him and told him my name.  I shook hands with him and said, “Hi Mark, how you doin’?” and he thanked me for coming.  I said, “The last time I saw you in person was almost exactly 30 years ago this month when I was a wee lad of seven.”  He said, “How oldseven?  Well, I must have been about eight or nine then.”  Before heading out, I said to him, “Don’t never stop rockin’, man,” and he said, “Not as long as it’s funwe’ll keep doing it.”  Helluva nice guy, Mark Lindsay is.  Mission accomplished!  Ironically, Olathe is also where I met John Entwistle and almost met Lemmy from Motorhead.  Must be something cosmic about that town Lemmy called “almost Kansas City.”

I was euphoric on the way home, and I was in a great mood also because football season started the next day, and I was barely a month into my new (and current) job that I really liked at the time, and everything seemed just peachy…until that terrible Tuesday three days later when everything went to hell in an Al-Queda handbag for this nation.

SET LIST:  Steppin’ Out/Just Like Me/Hungry/Louie Louie/Arizona/Indian Reservation/ Kicks  ENCORE:  Rock And Roll Music

104) Dave Edmunds/Ryan Van Imming (Wednesday, May 15, 2002Grand Emporium) Ticket price: $15.00

The Grand Emporium was a fairly legendary blues and jazz venue in the heart of the Midtown area of K.C. near Westport.  I’d always heard people raving about what a cool place it was and at the time I was having some personal problems and was hoping an evening of Dave Edmunds-type Rock ‘N’ Roll in a cool venue would pick up my spirits.  Unfortunately, neither did…

As soon as I set foot in the place, I was totally unimpressed.  I’d always heard what great atmosphere this place had, and how all the great Blues, R&B and Jazz people loved playing there, yadda yadda yadda, so I was taken aback by what a dump this place was!  It was your basic over-sized hole-in-the-wall bar with a stage—i.e., a fucking dive.  It was downright scummy in places, and even worse, there was no place to sit (my fault for arriving so late), so I wound up standing around in the back near the toilets.  Apart from the Beaumont Club in Westport, this was the worst venue I’ve ever attended a concert of any kind in.

The show had already begun when I arrived, as the opening act, Ryan Van Imming, was playing a solo acoustic guitar set.  I quickly noted that there were no drums or other instruments set up on the dinky little stage, which was about the size of two phone booths side-by-side.  I then realized that Edmunds was going to play a solo acoustic set as well—this from the same man who at the height of the “Unplugged” era in the mid-90s, did an album called Plugged In, as a not-so-silent protest to all the wussy acoustic stuff people were doing then.  I was never a fan of the whole “Unplugged” thing anyway, despite of how it indirectly led to the Kiss reunion in 1995.  To me, acoustic guitars should be used only in moderation—they’re the equivalent of black-and-white TV as opposed to the “color” of electric guitar.

I was fully-expecting Dave and his backing band to play, but I tried to keep an open mind about the acoustic thing.  The opening act Van Imming wasn’t bad, but he got rather boring after a while.  Edmunds came on after a short break and he did indeed play acoustic guitar all night.  He alternated between his biggies and some instrumental stuff (like the late Jerry Reed’s “The Claw”, et al), but I didn’t like how he did little medleys, like the first two verses of “Crawling From the Wreckage” and part of “Queen of Hearts”, etc.  The crowd was also quite annoying, as they were drowning Dave out at times with their incessant chatter.  Dave seemed to get the biggest response to “I Knew The Bride” (which he didn’t truncate), but he did truncate “I Hear You Knockin’”, which is utter heresy!  He showed a little class though, by doing a tribute to the recently-departed George Harrison with a nice rendition of “Here Comes The Sun”.  He saved the best for last, too, following an acoustic encore of Fats Domino’s “I’m Ready”, he whipped out his Fender Telecaster, turned on a drum machine, and tore the place apart with “Sabre Dance”, and the crowd went nuts.  It was nice to see Dave live again, but I really would have preferred seeing him playing electric with a full band.

SET LIST:  Blue Moon Of Kentucky/The Claw/Girls Talk/Lady Madonna/Warmed Over Kisses/Mystery Train/Walk Right In/Crawling From The Wreckage/Queen Of Hearts/I Knew The Bride/Sukiyaki/A Mess O’ Blues/I Hear You Knockin’/Promised Land/Here Comes The Sun/Classical Gas/Mozart In G-Minor  ENCORES:  I’m Ready/Sabre Dance

105) The Who/Robert Plant (Sunday, August 25, 2002--Verizon Wireless Music Center, Indianapolis) Ticket price: $30.00

I was really pumped in the Spring of ’02 when The Who announced they were touring again and when the dates were announced, the closest they were coming to Kansas City was Indianapolis (a proposed St. Louis gig was subsequently scrubbed, for some reason), so naturally I ordered me up a ticket on-line and couldn’t wait to see the ‘Orrible ‘Oo again.  I was really pumped until June 27, 2002, that is.  When I heard the terrible news that John Entwistle had died, the first thing I looked at was my concert ticket tacked on my bulletin board, and I felt so deflated.  I immediately assumed that the tour would be cancelled altogether, and was extremely miffed when it was announced that the tour would resume in a mere four days following The Ox’s passing.  I understand there are logistical problems in canceling/rescheduling concerts, but I thought it was very disrespectful of Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey to just callously move on that soon—as if they’d merely lost one of their roadies or something—without a more suitable period of mourning.  The fact that John’s replacement, Pino Palladino, was already lined up to jump right in didn’t sit well with me either, but at the time I was unaware that Entwistle wasn’t taking very good care of himself, so in retrospect, Pete and Roger probably did the right thing.  I was even more disappointed to learn that John’s death was caused in part by cocaine—I thought he was smarter than that.  Drugs are bad, mmmm-kay?

In the interim, I debated whether to even bother attending the show or not, as an Ox-less Who wouldn’t have been as much fun for me, but I figured the ticket was paid-for, so I might as well go.  Turned out to be a good move, as it was still an enjoyable concert.  The venue, then known as Verizon Wireless Music Center (who knows what it’s called now), is actually located a little ways northwest of Indy in Noblesville, right smack dab amid the cornfields of central Indiana.  For being out in the sticks, it was a fairly impressive outdoor joint, and light years better than our Sandstone and St. Louis’ Riverport Amphitheaters.  I liked the layout of the place, as you actually enter from behind the stage, and they have this huge concession/souvenir area which you pass en route to the seating area.  The lawn is sloped much more evenly than Sandstone, and its pitch is less steep, plus they have this wooden fence at the top of the hill that actually holds in some of the sound.  Like Riverport, the seating pavilion has a roof over it, and there were four pretty decent video screens in place.  I generally don’t care for these outdoor “sheds”, as the promoters call them, but this one is easily the best I’ve been to so far.

Robert Plant finally came on just as the sun was going down and opened with a really slow, non-descript moody tune that I didn’t recognize.  Plant, dressed all in white and still maintaining his trademark mane of curly hair, looked and sounded great.  The next tune kicked his set into gear, and hearing him do Led Zep’s “Celebration Day” was a bit of a surprise and RP’s guitar player (whose name I didn’t catch) was pretty impressive.  The set list was a bit surprising too—half Zeppelin and half Plant.  The crowd naturally went nuts during the Zep stuff, which included “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You” off III, “Going To California (Indiana)” and “Whole Lotta Love” as the encore.  He also did “Tall Cool One”, but I was surprised that he omitted most of his other ‘80s stuff like “Big Log” and “Burning Down One Side”, but he could only do so many songs as the opening act.  I imagine on his theater tour that he later embarked on, he included lots of the ‘80s stuff as well.  I wasn’t real sure what to expect from Plant as a solo performer, but he weren’t too bad.  It was also quite a privilege to be able to see two of the greatest Rock ‘N’ Roll front men on the same stage on the same night.

SET LIST:  ????/Celebration Day/Morning Dew/Going To California/Tie-Dye On The Highway/Fixin-To-Die/Four Sticks/Tall Cool One/Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You  ENCORE:  Whole Lotta Love

During the set change, they played a brief movie showing rehearsals for the Who tour just a couple weeks before Entwistle died and the crowd reacted nearly every time John appeared on screen.  Pete and Roger and the band came on about ten minutes later, opening with “I Can’t Explain”, followed by “Substitute”, and they were off and running.  Pete later introduced the band, which included the usual suspects Rabbit Bundrick on keys, young master Zak Starkey on the drums, Pete’s bro Simon Townshend on backing vocals and second guitar, and Palladino on bass.  Pete only referred to The Ox in passing, saying that they had had a “tricky day” a while back and that during rehearsals it was apparent that John’s voice “had gotten a bit dodgy”, thus he wouldn’t have done any singing on the tour.  When introducing Zak, Pete said, “If anyone else of us dies, we might be in trouble, but you know this guy…”  I was disappointed that they didn’t honor The Ox a bit more than that.

Meantime “Another Tricky Day” was a surprise on the set list, but it came off really flat, in part because Pete and Roger couldn’t hook up properly on the vocals, and partly because Entwistle’s bass line was so heavy on the original recording, and it was sadly missing here.  I could’ve done without “You Better, You Bet” in favor of say, “Shakin’ All Over” or “Young Man Blues” perhaps, but otherwise, it was generally a good set, and Townshend was cooking on guitar just like he did two years (almost to the day) ago when I saw them in Dallas.  Roger was in fine voice as well, but Pete did most of the talking on stage again this time. “My Generation” was a bit a disappointment, mostly because of the bass solo.  In all fairness to Pino, he’s a fine bassist, but this was like trying to replace the Wayne Gretzky/Michael Jordan/Tiger Woods of bass players.  Apart from standing still all night, Palladino didn’t resemble Thunderfingers at all.  “Won’t Get Fooled Again”, ended the set, and I was windmilling away again, just like in Dallas.  For the encores, Pete and Roger chose to play three Tommy classics to wrap things up.  All in all, this turned out to be a far better show than I anticipated, but The Who just wasn’t the same without their anchor on stage.

SET LIST:  I Can’t Explain/Substitute/Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere/Who Are You?/Another Tricky Day/The Relay/Bargain/Baba O’Riley/Sea And Sand/5:15/Love, Reign O’er Me/Eminence Front/ Behind Blue Eyes/You Better You Bet/The Kids Are Alright/My Generation/Won’t Get Fooled Again  ENCORES:  Pinball Wizard/Sparks/See Me, Feel Me

After this concert, I unintentionally went into retirement as a concert-goer.  Oh sure, there were numerous concerts I thought about attending, and I even had free tickets to one or two, including the infamous Sammy Hagar/David Lee Roth tour debacle in '02, but for whatever reason, I just didn’t go.  Essentially, after over 100 concerts, I’d pretty much seen it all and done it all, and with concert ticket prices being absolutely obscene now, they're just totally not worth it anymore.  There are still a few people I’d love to see, like Springsteen and U2, but I just can’t see paying 60 bucks-plus for nosebleed seats.  I’d much rather spend 20 bucks on a concert video DVD and enjoy it over and over in high quality sound.  Little did I know at the time that The Who and Robert Plant would be my last concert.  Until…

106) Shooting Star/Head East (Saturday, July 12, 2008Kearney Amphitheater) Ticket price: $5.00

…just two months ago.  Just out of the blue, I un-retired and attended my first real concert featuring nationally-known acts in nearly six years at a new venue in Kearney, MO with several friends, a few of whom are musicians themselves and play in a local band.  Kearney Amphitheater just opened this year and it’s sort of a mini-Sandstone and while it wasn’t totally completed yet, it wasn’t a bad place to see a show.  There are no permanent seats, thus it’s all lawn, and patrons are encouraged to bring their own chairs, and the sightlines and sound system were quite good.  I would estimate the crowd was about 2,000 or so to see a couple of longtime local favorites bands, each of whom still had one original member.  We caught a huge break with the weather too, as it had been hotter than blazes all week until some showers came through during the day and cooled things off to a more human level.

Head East scored a huge radio hit around these parts with 1975’s “Never Been Any Reason” and that’s about all I remember them for.  That, and the awful post-game concert they tried to stage after a Kansas City Comets indoor soccer match at Kemper Arena back in the late ‘80s on two flat-bed trailers rammed together at midfield.  I remember they sounded just dreadful, and we didn’t bother waiting around to hear “Never Been…” that night.  They sounded a tad better this time, although the lead singer blew his voice out on the first song and was very screechy the rest of the night.  Original lead singer John Schlitt was long gone, having become a born-again Christian after years of drugs and alcohol abuse, so original keyboardist Roger Boyd acted as the emcee, and the rest of the band were pretty decent musicians for the most part.  To cover for the fact they had so few original hits, HE augmented their set with covers of other people’s songs like Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Pride And Joy”, Trooper’s “Raise A Little Hell” and an old Grand Funk favorite of mine, “Footstompin’ Music”.  The place went nuts when they launched into "Never Been...", during which Boyd employed his handy portable synthesizer, and for a few brief fleeting moments, it seemed like 1975 all over again.  Not the greatest set I’ve ever seen, but the crowd seemed to like the band a lot.

Kansas City’s own Shooting Star featured original guitarist/singer Van McLain and four newer players, including a chick violinist named Janet Jameson to replace the long-departed Charles Waltz.  They got right to work playing their big hits like “Tonight”, “Last Chance”, “Flesh And Blood”, “Hollywood” and my personal SS favorite, “Bring It On”.  They sounded good and tight, and it was almost as if the band had never broken up.  The highlight of the set was probably “Hang On For Your Life”, which had nearly everyone on their feet.  Made me wish I’d seen them during their heyday in the ‘80s.  Not too shabby for five bucks, either.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Post #500!

Another milestone, as Da Comet is now halfway to 1,000 posts in just 21 months of existence.  Seems like I've done more posts than this...

Check out some of the bugle oil being spouted about Alaska Gov./McCain running mate Sarah Palin's 17-year-old daughter being pregnant:

"Our beautiful daughter Bristol came to us with news that as parents we knew would make her grow up faster than we had ever planned...We're proud of Bristol's decision to have her baby and even prouder to become grandparents."Todd and Sarah Palin

"These things happen.  You go ahead and surround the child with love, and you have the child, and the kids get married and you try to make the best of it."Sen. Sam Brownnoseer uhBrownback, (R) Kansas

"Being a Christian does not mean you're perfect.  Nor does it mean your children are perfect.  But it does mean there is forgiveness and restoration when we confess our imperfections to the Lord."James Dobson, Focus On the Family founder

I'm not trying to pass judgment on the Palin family herethis kind of thing happens all the timebut I'm merely pointing out the hypocrisy of the above statements.  Do you believe a word of any of them?  I sure don't, and you know damn well if one of Barack Obama's daughters was 17 and got knocked up out of wedlock, people like Brownnose, Dobson, along with the likes of Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Hannity, Coulter, Pat Robertson and all the other conservative Christian pundits would be all over this thing like flies on shit, excoriating the Obamas' parenting skills at every turn.  At least Obama himself took the high road here, saying, "I think people's families are off-limits, and people's children are especially off-limits."  I can't believe McCain knew about all this and chose Palin as his running mate anyway.  I think Big John may have stepped on his own dick (while wearing spiked golf shoes) and handed the election to Obama on a silver platter here.

Yet another supposedly "clean" celebrity drug addict has fallen off the wagon again, as actress MacKenzie Phillips got busted at LAX over the weekend on drug possession charges.  That's her under the blanket in the pic.  Why do celebs who get busted try to hide from the cameras when they leave the jailas if we don't already know what they look like?  Naturally, Big Mac claimed she was merely "holding" the drugs for someone else.  That's almost as good as Tatam O'Neal's "I was researching a role" excuse.

Ironically, I just got done watching that episode of "Beverly Hills, 90210" from 1994 where Phillips played the drug guidance counselor who conducted the intervention for Dylan.  Maybe she and O'Neal should get together and compare notes...

Speaking of "90210", for further proof that Hollywood is totally tapped-out for fresh ideas, I give you the new "90210" series that debuted tonight.  Some of you might find it shocking that I was a regular viewer of the original show, but I must admit it was a guilty pleasure for me.  I gotta tell ya, Jennie Garth and Tiffani Amber-Thiessen were total babes back then, and even Gabrielle Carteris as the insufferable Andrea (that's right, ON-drea!) Zuckerman wasn't hard on the eyes.  You can tell they're desperate on this new version of it by bringing back that psycho Shannen Doherty, and I'm disappointed that Garth is wasting her time with this crapfest.  Can't they just leave well-enough alone?  Of course not...

I'm finding it more and more difficult to watch Jerry Lewis's telethon as the years go by, aren't you?  While I applaud his valiant effort to do this thing every year, good gracious, the man just looks so bad now.  And so does Ed McMahon, who also now sounds bad.  And having hack has-beens like Tony Orlando for the "entertainment" won't keep me glued to the tube, either.  At least WGN in Chicago continued their long-standing tradition of breaking up the telethon with a Cubs game on Monday afternoon...

I saw Gene Simmons of Kiss doing an interview on MSNBC over the weekend, and he made the remark that the print-media is "going the way of the Edsel".  This isn't the first time I heard this in our instant-information society, especially in terms of the almighty newspaper, which like terrestrial commercial radio, is dying a slow painful death.  I still take the paper and read it front-to-back every day, but I'm currently re-evaluting this practice with an eye toward saving some money.  Anymore, I get the bulk of my news off the Internet and by the time I read the Sports page, I've usually already seen and heard all the news off ESPN the night before.  I'm thinking really seriously about cancelling my daily subscription in favor of just getting the Sunday paper every week.  I also predict the white pages and the yellow pages phone books will soon be a thing of the past...

In a semi-related development, Rolling Stone is shrinking their over-sized magazine down to the same size as Time and Newsleak.  Good thing the aging hippies at Rolling Stone haven't shrunk their rag in direct proportion to its relevance, or it would be about the size of a matchbook cover by now...

Today's weather in K.C.:  Muggy and 88.  Tomorrow's weather in K.C.: Rainy and 64.  Where's my muff?!?

Freddie's dead?

Tell the truth nowwould you run out and buy an album with a title/cover like this?  For more bon mots like this album cover, check out this site!

Jerry Reed, 1937-2008

Was very bummed to hear of the passing of Country singer/guitarist/actor Jerry Reed today at the age of 71 of complications from emphysema.  Before I really got into the music of Johnny Cash over the last year or so, Reed was easily my favorite Country singer/musician, and I practically wore out my older brother's Best Of Jerry Reed 8-track when I was about 8 or 9 years old.  I got to meet the man himself and get his autograph following a concert in 1983, and he seemed like a pretty cool dude.

His full name was Jerry Reed Hubbard, and he of course went on to have a respectable career in the movies, most notably as Cledus "Snowman" Snow (no he's not Hank Snow's brother) in the Smokey & The Bandit trilogy (we'll forgive Jerry for doing that S&TB III debacle) and as the evil foosball coach in Adam Sandler's The Waterboy.  Whenever I watch the latter, I'm reminded of a former co-worker, Bruce, who just loved both Smokey and Waterboy, and the day Brucea black mancame up to me and said, "Man, I never knew Jerry Reed was a singer!"  Dude, who did you think sang "Eastbound and Down"?

Reed's musical forte was humor, which almost always resonates with me, regardless of the musical genre, but it didn't hurt that he had such huge crossover success with "Amos Moses" and "When You're Hot, You're Hot" in 1971 when I was heavily into AM Top 40 radio on WHB.  His non-crossover stuff was pretty funny stuff too, like "Lord Mr. Ford", "U.S. Male", "Preacher And The Bear" and my personal favorite, "Tupelo Mississippi Flash", a hilarious psuedo-tribute to Elvis.  It's easy to forget that JR was a mighty fine musician, too.  Check out "The Claw" (later covered by my man Dave Edmunds), and it's obvious da boy knew his way around the ol' fretboard.  Reed also served as a session musician in the '60s, playing on Tommy Roe's 1963 smash hit "Sheila", as well as Elvis' cover versions of Reed's own "U.S. Male" and "Guitar Man" in the late '60s.  Reed's ballad "A Thing Called Love" (not to be confused with John Hiatt's "Thing Called Love") was also a hit for The Man In Black, and his own version wasn't too shabby, either.

So long, Snowman, we'll catch you on the flip-flop at that Big Choke 'n' Puke in the sky...

Travelblog, Part 4 - The Odds And Ends

A humorous look at some of the goofy shit I encountered on my recent California trip...

If I'm not mistaken, this is an ashtray, correct? If so, why does it display the "No smoking" symbol on the bottom of it?  And what the hell was it doing in my "Non-smoking" hotel room?

Check out the view from my hotel room in downtown San Francisco!  One of the reasons why I wanted to stay downtown was to be able to look out on something besides pigeon poop and a brick wall.  I felt like I'd stepped aboard a time machine in this old 1920's vintage hotel that Super 8 had taken over, complete with old-time fire escape out front and narrow alley in between.  I only wish Super 8 hadn't neglected to mention when I made my reservation that there was no free off-street parking, and that it would cost me 20 semolians a night for valet parking.

It took a little work once I got to this cemetery in Whittier, but I finally found the grave of my man Curly Howard from the Three Stooges.  A previous visitor attempted to spell out "NYUK, NYUK, NYUK" with rocks on the concrete slab.  Jerome Horwitz, you died way too young, but thanks for the laughs, ya knucklehead!

Interesting piece of art here that adorns the L.A. Memorial Coliseumanatomically-correct, yet headless, humanoids?!?  Obee-kaybee...

Believe it or not, this critter was sleeping when I snapped this pic at the famed San Diego Zoo.  I can now also truthfully say I've seen a flamingo take a dump!

...why there would be any reason whatsoever to bring a dog to a ballgame?  That's about as pointless as bringing an infant child to a game, like the people who sat behind me did at the Giants game.  Speaking of dogs in public, I couldn't believe the number of people out and about in L.A. with those pathetic little Paris Hilton dogs.

This would be the infamous Viper Room, out front of which actor River Phoenix bit the big one in 1993 after inhaling practically every intoxicant known to mankind all at once.  Dumbass.

It was on this corner on Hollywood Blvd. that actor William Frawley, better known as Fred Mertz on "I Love Lucy", suffered a fatal heart attack in 1966.  He died just up the block after being dragged to the lobby of the notorious Knickerbocker Hotel, where he used to live for over 30 years.  The "Knick" was also once home to former Stooge Larry Fine until he suffered a debilitating stroke in 1970, and it was the scene of the suicidal leap of famed costume designer Irene Gibbons in 1962.  Scenes from The Graduate were filmed there, as well, and now it serves as an old-folks home.  No doubt about it, Hollywood is a trivia haven!

This would be the men's room in Will Rogers Park in Beverly Hills where singer George Michael was busted by an undercover cop for spanking his monkey there in 1998.  Georgie Porgie naturally claimed his arrest was "entrapment".  More like a colossal career-killing brain fart, Georgie boy...

This john doubled as a convenient rest stop in the middle of the "Tragical History Tour" I partook of during my trip, and ironically, is located just around the corner from the road the Clampetts drove their truck down during the opening credits on the "Beverly Hillbillies".

...and the bum lies by the bay..."

Here's just one example of the riff-raff I saw throughout San Francisco in a pic that was taken on the concourse along McCovey Cove by the ballpark.  I saw literally dozens of these sorry-ass people throughout downtown SF and Golden Gate Park, many of whom apparently have been assigned their own personal shopping cart like this dude.  I don't mean to seem insensitive to people down on their luck, but there are places these people can go for helpunfortunately for them, they don't allow drugs and booze in the homeless shelters...

Into our ever-increasingly short attention span society now comes the advent of TV screens at gas pumps.  Doctor's waiting rooms are fine places for TVs, but at the gas pump?  The price of gas is high enoughwhat do we need this shit for?  How much time does one normally spend at the pumpfive minutes?  Granted most of that five minutes was nothing but commercials, but I didn't really need to see highlights from David Letterman from the night before while pumping my gas, either.