Wednesday, July 25, 2012

He Moved On Up

RIP Sherman Hemsley
He gave us George Jefferson and for that we love him. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

My Cross To Bear

I know the hits by the Allman Brothers Band.  I haven’t listened to Live at the Fillmore all the way through. I always felt like I should.  After reading My Cross To Bear, I need to make it to the Beacon in March. 

Gregg Allman’s style is conversational.  You know this is coming from him.  There is humor.  His southern descriptions of incidents are amusing and I found myself laughing out loud a few times.  This is not a kiss and tell scandal book, which adds to its greatness.  

The message of the book:  do something you love and make it happen.  Once Gregg picked up a guitar, (he taught Duane how to play) he never wanted to do anything else.  He did originally toy with the idea of being a dental surgeon.  He didn’t care how many people he played in front of as long as he was playing.  It was all about the music.  His brother bullied him into the band and staying with it.  His brother bullied him about a lot of things, but was also his biggest defender.

There is no whining in this book. No blame to pass around. Gregg doesn’t rely on demons to justify his well-documented drug and alcohol abuse.  He opens the book with the murder of his father.  He was two when it happened; Duane was three. He thinks the reason he was married so many times (he‘s engaged to the 7th future Mrs Allman) is that he was looking for a friend.  He hates being lonely. The title of the book, My Cross To Bear is a bit misleading. I know it’s a play on the song It's Not My Cross To Bear from their first album.  I thought it might be full of self-loathing. Thankfully it’s not. 

The brothers started out in cover bands.  In one of their earlier incarnations, The Escorts, they opened for the Beach Boys in 1965 in Florida.   Duane and Gregg played in several bands before The Allman Brothers Band came to be.  Gregg started writing songs and it gelled.  They didn’t look or sound like any other band out there.  They loved the blues.  Gregg has a snide disdain for the “British Blues”. 

This autobiography has mass appeal. For music lovers it’s a must read.  I knew the basics about the Allmans (although I did think that Duane was killed by a peach truck, which is rumor and not fact) and didn’t listen to them growing up. I still loved this book. What resonated the most was the dedication, time and practice that went into the music.  If anyone wants to make it as a musician today, read this book, follow their music regiment (skip the drug/alcohol phases).  How many rookie musicians can you think of today that would just set up shop in a park and play just so they can play? 

Yes, he touches on his marriage to Cher. No he doesn’t malign her. Did you hear Chaz on Howard Stern tell the story of Gregg picking her up from school one day and not bringing her home until 11pm because he couldn’t remember how to get there?  This was before cell phones and I’m sure Cher was freaking out. 

The heart of the book is the music and it’s that love that makes this book work.  

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Do you have a 1979 ticket to see the Who? It's still good

The Who announced that the last stop on their upcoming tour will be Providence RI.  The last time they were suppose to play there was 1979. That show was cancelled by the mayor who feared a similar stampede as the one in Ohio that left 11 people dead. 

If you still have your ticket and didn't get a refund, you can use that ticket to see The Who on February 26th.  In 1979, the highest ticket price was $14.  For the February show you're looking at a bit higher pricing at $57.50 to $127.50.  Holding on to that ticket for 34 years garnered a $113.50 in value.  If you redeem that 1979 ticket you will also be helping out a cause, as money will be donated to the Special Olympics of Rhode Island.  I wonder how many people actually have those tickets and will anyone bother to redeem it?

In case you were wondering, for this North American tour, Roger, Pete and the gang are revisiting Quadrophenia.   There is also a boxed set coming. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Who's Got Dylan's Guitar?

July 25th, 1965 The day Bob Dylan went electric at the Newport Folk Festival.  Who owns the Fender Stratocaster he was playing?

History Detectives (airing July 17th on PBS) thinks Dawn Peterson, a pilot's daughter has it.  According to the Huffington Post, her father flew many musicians in the 1960's.  Dylan allegedly left the guitar behind on a flight.  The pilot contacted Dylan's people and no one claimed the guitar so now it's in Dawn's possession. Her father died when she was 8.

Guitar expert Andy Babiuk was hired by the show to authenticate the guitar and he is 99.9% certain it's one and the same.  Dylan's lawyer Orin Snyder says Bob still has the guitar.   "He did own several other Stratocaster guitars that were stolen from him around that time, as were some handwritten lyrics. In addition, Bob recalls driving to the Newport Folk Festival, along with two of his friends, not flying."

I haven't found anything that states when the guitar was actually left behind.  Dylan may have been using it at another show, flew with the pilot and left it behind.  Unless Dylan finds the guitar and produces it, we may never know, but it will be fun to watch the process reveal itself on History Detectives.  

Here is a video of Elektra Records founder Jac Holzman talking about the significance of Dylan's electric performance. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Sitting At The Cat's Table

 The cat’s table is far from the coveted captain’s table.  Or as Miss Lasqueti says, “We’re in the least privileged place.”  You can only guess who’s coming to dinner. 

Can you imagine being 11 years old and told to board a ship by yourself for 21 days?  Your mother will be waiting for you in England when you arrive from Colombo, Ceylon You’ll have an older woman/friend of the family to “watch over you”, but she’ll be in first class and maybe you’ll have a few encounters with her.   You will be in steerage.  You will unexpectedly find out your cousin Emily is also on the ship, but she isn’t assigned to the cat’s table. 

This is the story of Michael (nickname Mynah), who narrates his journey from an 11-year-old boy in the early 1950's to adult.  The Cat’s Table is penned by Michael Ondaatge, who also wrote the English Patient.   

Michael has two partners in crime that are the same age and together the three of them have a lot more substance than their labels would assume.  Nobody is really what he/she seems.  People’s personalities and purposes unfold over time.  Being confined to a ship allows for intimacy and an unveiling of a person’s history.  There is plenty of unveiling that goes on which forms the life of Michael.  A whole world is open to him as some of the assorted adults he meets are a thief, a prisoner, a tailor and a spinster or at least that’s their introduction.   

Nicely paced and wonderfully written, The Cat’s Table is a worthy read. 

NPR's interview with Ondaatge who says that his goal in writing The Cat's Table wasn't to rediscover the boy he was; it was to write a fictional version of something that had been forgotten.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

If Maroon 5 Had A Sense of Humor They'd Be The Musgraves

If Maroon 5 had a sense of humor and didn't take themselves so seriously, they'd be The Musgraves.  The Musgraves are too much fun.  How much do you love the line She Got The Last Of Me?

They are based in Birmingham England where another one of my all-time favorites (English Beat) hails from. Must be something in the water there.  It doesn't look like they've graced our shores yet, but their performance on So Graham Norton points to a great live show.  That show was performed with borrowed instruments as their stuff was stolen just prior to the show.  I think it's a right of passage that every band has some equipment stolen in their early career.