CHRISTINE PERFECT McVIE: “Godspeed”  

   Many moons ago I saw a “perfect” woman take the stage of FILLMORE EAST, something I was not expecting. At that moment I was a bit disappointed as a major shift of personnel for the band I wished to hear had drastically changed. A few weeks prior to this engagement I had purchased tickets to see (Peter Green’s) FLEETWOOD MAC and up until the days prior to that night I was wholly anticipating seeing one of my favorite guitarists and “his” band once again. Then, well…he disappears. On my turntable at the time was the album “Fleetwood Mac” aka “The Garbage Can Cover”. Back on November 22,1969 I experienced JOE COCKER with THE GREASE BAND, FLEETWOOD MAC (with Peter Green) and an opening act of KING CRIMSON at Fillmore East in New York City. This billing was a memorable one as CRIMSON blew the house down in the opening 35 minutes. Then, FLEETWOOD MAC topped it with its one hour plus set. While COCKER had the head bill he carried a severe liability. After FLEETWOOD MAC left the stage THE GREASE BAND was musically no match for either act. I was in awe of CRIMSON and MAC. I had to see FLEETWOOD MAC again.‘Black Magic Woman’, ‘Albatross‘, ‘Man of the World’, ‘Oh Well’ and ‘The Green Manalishi’ all rang in my head in great anticipation. But unbeknownst to me PETER GREEN left the band May 1970.

   TICKETS TORN IN HALF: August 29,1970: SAVOY BROWN/ FLEETWOOD MAC/ FAIRPORT CONVENTION@FILLMORE EAST. Back to Fillmore East for what would be one of my favorite shows for the summer of 70. This one featured Savoy Brown, Fleetwood Mac, and Fairport Convention all British acts sharing the bill. Fairport once had Sandy Denny who was not in the band any longer but still had Richard Thompson on guitar/vocals. Fleetwood Mac was missing Peter Green (the main attraction guitar/vocals)which was a huge disappointment to me but this newer FLEETWOOD MAC now had Christine Perfect (John McVie’s wife) on board full time (keyboards and vocals) and they did some KILN HOUSE stuff which rocked. Savoy Brown was Kim Simmonds but Chris Youlden (vocals) was no longer a member. Lonesome Dave did the voice and shades of FOGHAT were born.

   This new version of FLEETWOOD MAC, one of many more versions to come, had this new piano player, a singer who offered different styles of songs and rearrangements of older material AND she was a “looker” as was said at the time. As much as I was disappointed in not seeing PETER GREEN there was something about this new beginning to FLEETWOOD MAC that excited me.

   CHRISTINE PERFECT McVIE became a permanent member of the band. The BOB WELCH version was up next with “Future Games” and then “Bare Trees” both lps moving THE MAC further from their original blues based origin but closer to what the band would become. Then,“Penguin” the band added BOB WESTON (slide guitar) and (IMO horrendous) vocalist DAVE WALKER (from Savoy Brown #7). The “Mystery To Me” era, WALKER is fired so vocal duties are split between WELCH and CHRISTINE. Its release has the band back on heavy radio rotation. However, the drama known as FLEETWOOD MAC rears its ugly head again as MICK FLEETWOOD finds out that his beautiful wife JENNY BOYD (George Harrison’s sister in law) is having an affair with BOB WESTON, BOB is ultimately fired and the band cuts the tour short moving back to England.There, as a four piece they record “Heroes Are Hard To Find”, a beautiful collection of tunes sung perfectly by WELCH and CHRISTINE.

   Unfortunately, meanwhile back in the States…CLIFFORD DAVIS longtime manager of said FLEETWOOD MAC going back to their blues days (1967 in England) was upset with the band for cancelling the tour midway through. He decides to have FLEETWOOD MAC book a new tour of the U.S., a tour without any members of FLEETWOOD MAC participating. Unbeknown to the concert going public, we buy tickets.

   TICKETS TORN IN HALF: January 26,1974, Academy of Music- FLEETWOOD MAC/KISS/SILVERHEAD. I’m there for FLEETWOOD MAC. SILVERHEAD, well I had no idea who they were, still don’t. KISS was on a return performance from their debut at the same venue on New Years Eve. That night their set was cut short as Gene Simmons set his hair on fire.This night, KISS set the entire venue of 3000 on fire, not literally. A great show with lights, fire breathing, fully costumed performers and ear drum shattering loudness. Then, FLEETWOOD MAC appears. I notice MICK FLEETWOOD is not on the kit, No John McVie, No Christine…strange looks all around the crowd, “Who are these guys?”, guys playing instrumentals and no noticeable MAC tunes. Boos start, getting louder by the moment. An announcement is made that refund vouchers are available at the box office, to which I took my two. This was a bogus FLEETWOOD MAC, a band put together by the alleged owner (a past manager) of the “brand name” FLEETWOOD MAC. This “band” hit the road while the true members were sorting out problems with alcohol, drugs, relationships, etc. Immediately after this, the true band members grab the reins, moves to The States (were the touring money was), BOB WELCH leaves and FLEETWOOD MAC hire Buckingham and Nicks, the rest is history, or…

   The 10th album, recorded by the 10th lineup of the band in 8 years time, 1975’s FLEETWOOD MAC took one full year to finally run up to the top of the charts. February of 1977 “Rumours” is released, a true “pop” album. No shades of the original band of 67 existed any longer. However, CHRISTINE as a vocalists continues to shine. The album explodes, Number 1 for weeks/months at a time. 

   TICKETS TORN IN HALF: June 30, 1977- FLEETWOOD MAC @ Madison Square Garden. In my collection of memorabilia I saved John Rockwell’s NYTimes review of FLEETWOOD MAC’S “Rumours Tour” stop at Madison Square Garden, for what reason I don’t know. The show was great for its time but I longed for Peter Green’s FLEETWOOD MAC. This band was so much different. Overall I thought the show was pretty good.

(partial from Rockwell) FLEETWOOD MAC’s debut Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden—the first of two performances there—was a confirmation of its newly won status as this country’s most popular and best poprock band—except for, maybe the Eagles. And by and large it was a superior show to the group’s outing earlier this year at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, L.I. With one crucial exception.That exception was Stevie Nicks. Miss Nicks, along with Lindsey Buckingham, gave the three British veterans in the band the spark that lifted Fleetwood Mac into its current status. Miss Nicks composes wonderfully sinuous, mystically compelling songs, she is about as alluring a performer as rock can offer and, at her best, she sings with a huskily seductive individuality.

   But she had two problems Wednesday. The first and less important had to do with her onstage manner. Always a languorous wanderer as a performer, she pushed her lackadaisical loopiness too far. She managed to come in on cue and to remember her words, but at her worst she looked like a glamorous female equivalent of Joe Cocker, and in general her slack meanderings were more a cause for concern than for fascination.

   Far more serious was the state of her voice. Miss Nicks has nodes on her vocal chords, and her condition has worsened appreciably since the Nassau date only three months ago. The band canceled its sold‐out Syracuse concert Tuesday because of her throat, but it didn’t seem to help much.

   It was at this point in time that I gave up all hope that FLEETWOOD MAC would be the MAC I remembered, this was a very different ensemble. My taste did not lean toward a twirling, spinning woman dressed in black. I preferred the blonde playing piano and singing off to the side. RIP, CHRISTINE McVIE.

DANNY KALB: Master Guitarist RIP

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   I don’t remember the exact time of year, probably early 1967 when my Dad’s friend got a few records that “fell off the truck” as he said. He listened to each and said they weren’t his cup of tea so he gifted the small stack to me, a young 15 year old record collector. There I found a Phil Ochs album, one by Buffy St. Marie, a Dave Van Ronk collection, and two BLUES PROJECT albums, “Projections” and “Live at Cafe Au Go Go”. While none made a heavy rotation on my turntable at that moment in time the “Projections” collection did garner some interest, especially a few months later while listening to TEN YEARS AFTER doing the traditional gospel number “I Can’t Keep From Cryin’, Sometimes” which AL KOOPER arranged for THE BLUES PROJECT. Then, The BLUES PROJECT spun more frequently and were heard more often during the evening hours on WNEW_FM radio.Later on I found there was a connection between PHIL OCHS, DAVE VAN RONK and DANNY KALB co-founder of THE BLUES PROJECT.

   Over the many decades of collecting music and going to concerts I must admit that I never saw THE BLUES PROJECT live and never purchased one of their albums as the first two albums were gifted to me and my buddy gave me two cds, an “Anthology”(1997) of “the BLUES PROJECT”. After reading of the death of DANNY KALB at age 80 (November 19, 2022) I did a bit of research while tossing the double cds on for a go.In retrospect I found his guitar playing to be amazing stuff, especially when the songs are listened to in a chronological sequence. So, today I offer my sincere condolences to the family and friends of DANNY KALB and regret in hindsight not having listened to this master guitarist over these many years. REST IN PEACE, Godspeed, DANNY KALB.

Farewell Yellow Brick Road: Part Two

   He’s like everyone’s favorite uncle at the wedding, you know, the guy who’s been married twice, beat a substance abuse issue, loves to sing, moves from table to table entertaining everyone with family stories of the last 52 plus years. Lately, he has a tough time walking let alone dancing but he’ll give it a shot. Dressed to the nines, by night’s end his pants need to be adjusted and his shirt tail is hanging out, his glasses askew and every one knows it’s a piece but who cares, he’s up and going to sing every song we know, maybe a bit off key but hell, he’s gonna sing and play every song we know. No matter what we, his audience, are expected to join in, to have a great time, he’ll make sure of it.

   Sir Elton John aka Reg Dwight is currently on his FAREWELL TOUR which according to his original plans would last for approximately three years, give or take a few years as COVID threw us a few curves. This tour is giving him and his band enough time to circle the globe, visiting five continents while performing over 300 shows. This trek around the world is no easy task for any touring band but this act starring a 75 year old performer along with his entourage, well, they are not just any act, this is SIR ELTON JOHN, a beloved citizen of the entire world.

  It has been 52 years almost to the date when I first experienced ELTON JOHN. To me, Elton John is a phenomena, one I saw on his very first tour of the USA, November of 1970 at FILLMORE EAST. There that weekend for two nights, four shows he shared a bill with the headlining LEON RUSSELL. Needless to say, that night was amazing and I became a fan. On November 8 of 2018, during the FAREWELL: GOODBYE YELLOW BRICK ROAD TOUR, ELTON was performing at MADISON SQUARE GARDEN, my 14th time seeing him in his 52 year career, and that’s not including the times he guested with other acts in the New York area.(The Beach Boys one time and Bonnie Raitt another).

   Tonight, November 20-21, while I experienced the entire performance of 23 songs on Disney +  I thought of how the years have slipped away, gracefully for the most part with a few slips. In 1970 this new act, Elton John, well by the end of his set I was standing and shouting for “more” along with the other 2600 plus folks. We were in total amazement. He was fantastic, performing on a grand piano accompanied by a bass player and a drummer, just a trio. Elton John literally lit up the stage (with a Mickey Mouse light attached to the front of his pants) while performing backward kicks ala Jerry Lee Lewis off of his piano. A few night previously he and band did a live radio concert on station WPLJ-FM  (I taped it) which the following year became the 11-17-70 release. ELTON Fillmore setlist: “CAN I PUT YOU ON”, “COUNTRY COMFORT”, “HONKY TONK WOMEN”, “BURN DOWN THE MISSION (this was a WOW moment)”,“MY BABY LEFT ME/GET BACK/GIVE PEACE A CHANCE”.

   (#2)April 10,1971: ELTON JOHN/ SEATRAIN/ WISHBONE ASH @ FILLMORE EAST. This was a three night engagement, two shows a night. Everyone I knew was scrambling for tickets so my two were priceless and the offers for at least one of my two were enticing. This weekend ELTON JOHN stole the hearts and souls of all non-believers. This trio’s (Elton, Nigel Olsson, Dee Murray) set produced numerous rounds of thunderous applause. He was on his way to stardom, no question. I arrived home as the sun was rising on Easter morn.Set List: Your Song, Sixty Years On, Border Song, Ballad of a Well Known Gun, Friends, Can I Put You On, Country Comfort, The King Must Die, Honky Tonk Women, Amoreena, My Father’s Gun, Indian Sunset, Talking Old Soldiers, Take Me To The Pilot, Burn Down The Mission Encore: My Baby Left Me/Get back 

 (#3)JUNE 10,1971: ELTON JOHN@ Carnegie Hall, the midnight show. A date stood me up, canceling out on me at the last minute. So I’m stuck with a very hard to come by ticket. A couple I knew were driving so I took advantage of their offer and set off for the friendly skies in their car. I met a guy I worked with from the college newspaper staff at the door who needed a ticket, I handed it to him while he told me about the BYRDS concert at Fillmore East the previous night when ELTON JOHN showed up unannounced to perform a short solo set. Tonight, inside Carnegie Hall, ELTON did an acoustic set first, just he and a piano. After a short intermission we were treated to an incredible electric set. Incredible, it truly was.  It was early morn with the sun rising as I slept in their Volkswagen heading home. SET LIST: From my notes: Opened with “Your Song” closed with” The King Must Die”.

NYT:(6/12/71)Elton John appeared Thursday and again last night before an impassioned audience at Carnegie Hall, in what must be the best‐produced rock concert there in a great long while. Mr. John—actually Reginald Dwight, he took his stage name from two British musicians, Elton Dean and John Baldry— played a long and beautiful concert divided into two parts. On Thursday, the first half saw him soloing at the piano, playing new songs and older ones that he felt weren’t suited for a rock band. “Your Song,” “Skyline Pigeon” and one that I seem to recall as titled “Old Soldiers” went down especially well. For the second half, he was joined by his regular accompanists, Nigel Olsson, drums: and Dee Murray, bass. They played “Country Comfort,” “Honky Tonk Women” and a stunning version of “The King Must Die.”The sound engineering was perfect, save for a slight tendency to lose Mr. John’s voice at the very loudest moments. Never have I heard such good sound from a rock band in Carnegie Hall. Mr. Olsson’s drums were amplified perfectly, and he gave a performance that was often beyond breathtaking. Elton John and his lyricist, Bernie Taupin, clearly are deserving of their popularity. Not everything they turn out is genius, as some quarters of the rock world seem to expect. But Elton John is good often enough to make close scrutiny a necessity.

 (#4)Oct 9,1972: ELTON JOHN “Larry Legs Smith Tour” with The Sutherland Bros and Quiver@ Nassau Coliseum, This is NOT the ELTON JOHN I saw the last few times in smaller venues. He is ready for the big time and big time shows. HONKY CHATEAU was released in the spring and became his first #1 album in the US. Set list from my notes, not all inclusive: “Your Song”, “Levon”, “Rocket Man”, “Can I Put You On”, “Mona Lisa and Mad Hatters”, “Country Comfort”, “Have Mercy On The Criminal, “Crocodile Rock”, “Take Me To The Pilot”. The band now included guitarist DAVEY JOHNSTONE and LARRY “Legs SMITH once a member of The Bonzo Dog Band.

JUNE14,1974: BEACH BOYS/ KIKI DEE @ NASSAU COLISEUM The HOLLAND TOUR w/ Elton John guesting on “Barbara Ann” and then Paul Simon  joins the Beach Boys doing “Fun, Fun, Fun”,both encores.

 (5)Nov 29,1974: ELTON JOHN @ MSG :Taking the train in we hear that JOHN LENNON guested with ELTON on I SAW HER STANDING THERE the previous evening. A WOW factor was added. We had pretty good box seats to the stage right, seated behind NEIL SEDAKA and his wife. Neil was a gentleman when we spoke, he started the conversation. Lights dim and FUNERAL FOR A FRIEND/LOVE LIES BLEEDING opens the show. Geez, that was amazingly good. CANDLE IN THE WIND brought out the cigarette lighters, BENNIE AND THE JETS, GOODBYE YELLOW BRICK ROAD, and then when he played LUCY IN THE SKY WITH DIAMONDS I thought, “here he comes” but no, JOHN LENNON did not perform that night.

(6)AUGUST 11,1976 ELTON JOHN@ Madison Square Garden with KIKI DEE. WPLJ-FM gave out buttons to the attendees of this seven night stand at THE WORLD’S MOST FAMOUS ARENA. The band consisted of the musicians playing on his last two endeavors  ROCK OF THE WESTIES and BLUE MOVES. They opened up with GROW SOME FUNK OF YOUR OWN, performed LUCY IN THE SKY WITH DIAMONDS, DON’T GO BREAKING MY HEART with Kiki Dee, and closed with SATURDAY NIGHT’S ALRIGHT (for Fighting) before  called back for YOUR SONG and PINBALL WIZARD. Well worth the price of admission.

   A few night later (August 18,1976) while we were at Wollman Rink in Central Park enjoying a concert by Muddy Waters and Bonnie Raitt, surprise….Elton John joins Bonnie to sing harmony on two tunes.

(7)Aug 7,1982: ELTON JOHN@ MSG. Quarterflash opens. Haven’t seen Elton since 1976 when he toured with his ROCK OF THE WESTIES band but this time Davey Johnston returns to the band, with Nigel on drums Dee on bass, etc. The quartet is all I need for this the last night of the tour and last of his 3 sold out nights at MSG. Elton opens with FUNERAL FOR A FRIEND/ LOVE LIES BLEEDING,ALL THE GIRLS LOVE ALICE, SOMEONE SAVED MY LIFE TONIGHT, some new stuff, his tribute to JOHN LENNON, oldie but goodie WHERE TO NOW ST. PETER and plenty of hits before closing out with a medley of WHOLE LOTTA SHAKIN GOIN ON/I SAW HER STANDING THERE/TWIST AND SHOUT. It’s well worth the night out.

 (8)OCT 14,1984: ELTON JOHN again at MSG (4 shows in 4 nights and then they play one a month later) He was so good last time out that we had to see him again.THE BREAKING HEARTS tour was the basic quartet with an additional keyboardist. TINY DANCER and LEVON opened the evening, the hits mixed with new stuff and of course YOUR SONG:Set list:Tiny Dancer, Levon, Lil ‘Frigerator, Rocket Man, Daniel, Restless, Candle in the Wind, The Bitch Is Back, Who Wears These Shoes, Sad Songs (Say So Much), Bennie And The Jets, Philadelphia Freedom, Blue Eyes, I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues, Kiss the Bride, One More Arrow, I’m Still Standing,Your Song, Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting with two Encores: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Crocodile Rock

(9)Oct 18,1988 Elton John at MSG “REG STRIKES BACK” Tour featuring Davey Johnson as musical director and a whole new slew of musicians and singers. But the songs, especially early on in the set were amazing. Sixty Years On, I Need You to Turn To, The King Must Die, Burn Down The Mission, Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word, Have Mercy on the Criminal, Funeral For a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding, Tiny Dancer, The Ballad of Danny Bailey, I Guess That’s Why They Call it the Blues, Philadelphia Freedom, The Bitch Is Back, Sad Songs (Say So Much), A Word in Spanish, Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters 1&2, Daniel, Rocket Man, I Don’t Wanna Go On With You Like That, Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting), Your Song, Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, I’m Still Standing.

(10)October 9,1992-ELTON JOHN “The One Tour”@Madison Square Garden . We are back four years later for one of his 7 scheduled shows at THE WORLD’S MOST FAMOUS ARENA.Two months ago Elton John played two nights to a sold out SHEA STADIUM, which we passed on. He is newly sober and basically using the same band as 1988.Set List: Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me,I’m Still Standing,I Guess That’s Why They Call it the Blues, Philadelphia Freedom, Burn Down The Mission, Tiny Dancer, Simple Life, The One, I Don’t Wanna Go On With You Like That, Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters [Parts one and Two], Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word, Daniel, The Last Song, Funeral For a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding, Rocket Man, All The Girls Love Alice, Sad Songs (Say So Much), The Show Must Go On, Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting), The Bitch Is Back, Candle In The Wind, Your Song.

 (11)Oct 16,1999: ELTON @ MSG two sold out nights with ELTON JOHN/SOLO just he, bearded wearing a purple suit playing the piano. You know it is going to be a killer show when he opens with “Your Song” and then plays for almost 3 hours. (Video available on Youtube): Setlist: Your Song, Skyline Pigeon, The Greatest Discovery, Border Song, Harmony, Daniel, Honky Cat, Rocket Man, Tiny Dancer, Better Off Dead, Philadelphia Freedom, Elton’s Song, Sweet Painted Lady, I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues, Ticking, Carla-Etude, Tonight, Burn Down The Mission, The One, Blue Eyes, Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny), Take me to the Pilot,  Levon,  Crocodile Rock,  Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me, Circle of Life,  Bennie And The Jets,  Candle In The Wind.

(12)Nov 2, 2006: ELTON JOHN @ Nassau “Captain and The Kid Tour”, five years since our last visit, this time he’s with a full band. SET LIST: Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding, Bennie and the Jets, Philadelphia Freedom, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Believe, Tiny Dancer, I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues, Take Me To The Pilot, I Want Love, Someone Saved My Life Tonight, Postcards From Richard Nixon, Tinderbox, Blues Never Fade Away, The Bridge, The Captain and the Kid, Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters, Sorry Seems To Be the Hardest Word, Rocket Man, Daniel, Levon, Crocodile Rock, The Bitch is Back, Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting), Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me, Your Song.

(13) (NYT)March 25,2007 ELTON JOHN:60 Years On The Birthday Celebration @ MSG: (NYT)Elton John celebrated his 60th birthday on stage Sunday March 25, making a record-breaking 60th appearance in New York City’s Madison Square Garden. Wearing rose-tinted glasses and a black tail coat, the singer-songwriter performed more than 30 hit songs spanning more than four decades. He recalled two of his most memorable appearances at the storied Manhattan venue: a 1974 date in which John Lennon joined him on stage for the last time, and a performance following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Elton John’s longtime lyricist Bernie Taupin serenaded him with a chorus of “Happy Birthday,” accompanied by comedians Robin Williams and Whoopie Goldberg.

Elton ended his concert with his first hit single, “Your Song.” He has sold more than 200 million albums worldwide.

(14)Nov 8, 2018 ELTON JOHN “THE GOODBYE YELLOW BRICK ROAD FAREWELL TOUR” @ MSG:  It’s 11 years since we sat in his presence, tonight my wife’s birthday. A really strange night, packed, house, pre show dinner and drinks at Cafe 31, a walk in the rain around the arena as the usual entrance was closed off, finally at our seats as the house lights dim to “Benny and The Jets”. It is obvious that the soccer moms directly behind us would rather be chatting about their kids goals all freaking night. It was probably by the time “Tiny Dancer “ was played that I had had enough and told them “Shut the fuck up”, to some applause from members of our section of seats. But soon they forgot my warning and had to be reminded by a lady seated behind them.  By the end of the show the soccer mom’s greeted me with a “Fuck you, thanks for ruining our night” or something like that.

NOTE: In March COVID 19 hits and the tour is postponed for two years.

Set list: “Benny and the Jets”, “All The Girls Love Alice”,”I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues”, “Border Song”, Tiny Dancer”, “Philadelphia Freedom”, ”Indian Summer”, “Take Me to the Pilot”,  “Someone Saved My Life Tonight”,  “Levon”, “Candle In The Wind”, “Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding”,  “Burn Down the Mission”, “Believe”, “Daniel”, “Sad Songs”, “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me”, ”The Bitch Is Back”, “I’m Still Standing”, “Crocodile Rock”, “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting”, “Your Song”,  “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”

 November 20, 2022:  So, tonight as we near midnight with no soccer mom’s chatting behind us, our seats are excellent, the price of admission is affordable, the bathrooms are clean, and the drinks are prepaid, we are home on our couch watching the Disney+ presentation of ELTON JOHN @ DODGER STADIUM. Yo Reg, “thanks for the memories and God bless”, I’m gonna miss you”…Set List:”Bennie and the Jets“, “Philadelphia Freedom“,”I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues“”Border Song“, “Tiny Dancer“, “Have Mercy on the Criminal“, “Rocket Man“, “Take Me to the Pilot“, “Someone Saved My Life Tonight“, “Levon“, “Candle in the Wind“, “Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding“, “Burn Down the Mission“, “Sad Songs (Say So Much)“, “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word“, “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me“, “The Bitch Is Back“, “I’m Still Standing“, “Crocodile Rock“, “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting“:Encore “Cold Heart (Pnau remix)“, “Your Song“, “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road“.

937 Days: (Part 2) TEDESCHI TRUCKS BAND

Today’s Listening Pleasure: TEDESCHI TRUCKS BAND “I Am The Moon”

   It was almost like landing on Mars or being in a bad dream where the everyone have left the arena except you. We arrived at the parking lot early expecting to wait for a spot but there were plenty of empty spaces. Got our train tickets and were directed to the track almost immediately catching an express to PENN STATION, 5 stops. Boarding an almost empty car, fifty-seven minutes later we arrived at our destination, an almost vacant train depot. I asked myself, “Is this really PENN STATION ?”. Heading over to the “taxi cue” which to my surprise had only a few folks in line, we got a ride to our first stop, THE EMERALD INN on 72nd Street. Funny to see the meter which added a $4.20 “congestion surcharge” fare as soon you hit the zone. Twenty bucks, tip included, and we arrive at the door.

   There we are greeted immediately by our server who promptly brought our drinks, while asking, “You going to the show?”. “You bet”, I responded. He then explains that he attended Friday’s gig of this “residency” at THE BEACON and how the entire band and crew celebrated Saturday night after the show, all closing THE INN at 4AM. His review was, “The band is on fire this tour”. I am more than excited now.

   Not tech savvy especially with E-tixs but with the assistance of the ticket taker at the door “we are in”. Over to the bar, we are greeted by a smiling server who completed our order. Took the stairs two levels up and saw that my usual Upper Tier seats were not what I ordered, we had Lower Tier which was not the view I expected. Lights dimmed and an announcement was made that a surprise guest would take the stage, “Ladies and Gentlemen, HOT TUNA” (acoustic Jack and Jorma). “Don’t You Leave Me Here”, “Hesitation Blues”, “Good Shepherd”, “and a few others before closing out with “San Francisco Bay Blues”.

NOTE: On October, 13 at 11:30 a.m. Jefferson Airplane will be honored with the 2,737th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the category of Music. The star will be located at 6752 Hollywood Boulevard. Accepting the star on behalf of the band will be Grace Slick, Jack Casady, and Jorma Kaukonen.

   A long intermission occurred and I was getting antsy. This was TEDESCHI TRUCKS BAND’s 50th gig at THE BEACON and was promised to be a special evening. It turned out to be special, however it was not the two long sets I was expecting, just one long amazing one.

   The band just released a four (4) set cd entitled “I Am The Moon” so they (tonight) selected songs to introduce to their live set, one in particular (Pasaquan) was a shining moment of Derek’s guitar mastery. “Turtle Blues” and “Don’t Think Twice” brought JORMA and JACK back to the spotlight. JACK’S solo was breathtaking. The set morphed into “Whipping Post” to thunderous applause. A 3 encore set closed out the evening.

   So, it has been 937 days since my last concert and this one was a doozy.

to be continued

Oh, Ye, gentle mistresses and most distinguished gentlemen, and others… The opinions and observations are solely my own views, and I take full responsibility for any errors of fact, not to mention any predictions that prove to be wildly inaccurate.

SEASON OF THE WITCH (Part 2): The Long Island Home Hotel

  “It was a private hotel…for the care of persons afflicted with mental and nervous derangements, near the Great South Bay and Ocean; 32 miles from New York.” so ran an advertisement in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Aug. 15, 1884. 

   Truth be told THE HOTEL (Long Island Home Hotel for Nervous Invalids) and two other adjoining facilities (Louden Hall, and Brunswick Home) located in AMITYVILLE were licensed institutions for the “care of idiotic and feeble-minded persons.” and arranged by classifications of the inmates “who represent every grade of idiocy and imbecility.”

   After researching these facilities one realizes the significance of the  early days of the LONG ISLAND RAILROAD to the growth of the communities along the line. The LIRR sponsored twice a day shuttles, carriages drawn by two horses taking guests from the Amityville station to the facilities.The RR also did the same for the ARGYLE HOTEL, a legitimate hotel in Babylon. Further investigation finds studies by the New York State Commission on Lunacy that many of these “guests” to the LI HOME HOTEL were seeking a break from the “rat race”, checking in for what they thought would be a short stay but found… “Last thing I remember, I was running for the door, I had to find the passage back to the place I was before… “Relax”, said the night man, “We are programmed to receive, you can check out any time you like, But you can never leave”Welcome to the Hotel California, such a lovely place such a lovely place…

to be continued

HATCHET MARY

   Change of scenery, the leaves are falling, temperatures are dropping, as we head into the SEASON OF THE WITCH. Let me digress for a second, I first heard the tune “Season of the Witch” by DONOVAN about the same time when I first experienced “Hatchet Mary’s” grave. Some say it has to do with teenage initiation, like your first cigarette, your first drink, first whatever. You hear the stories and bide your time until someone, usually a bit older not necessarily wiser will say, “Let’s go to Hatchet Mary’s grave tonight”. “Yea, what fun” you think…then, IT HAPPENS.

   Almost every small town has a “legend”, many have the same named one, HATCHET MARY, aka MARY HATCHET.  Ours was  located in Amityville, an actual grave site at THE MOTHER HOUSE of The Sisters of Saint Dominic, off of New Highway, on a dirt road next to a group of trees. The stories were Mary was hung from a tree for being a witch, OR, she hung herself because her Navy boyfriend never returned to marry her OR…so many different stories, and a few had to deal with hatchets.

   Click your heels three times, say“Betelgeuse” three times, or as we knew “park your car near the grave, flash your headlights three times, honk your horn once and turn the engine off.” According to the legend, the car won’t start again until Mary appears. Being about 15 years of age I was not too sure I wanted to “see” Mary but I had to go because peer pressure dictates it. Four couples in a station wagon and away we go…

to be continued

937 DAYS LATER…Part 1

Today’s Listening Pleasure: LED ZEPPELIN: “Rock N Roll”

It’s been a long time since I rock and rolled

It’s been a long time since I did the stroll

Ooh let me get it back, let me get it back

Let me get it back, baby, where I come from

It’s been a long time, been a long time

Been a long lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely time

Yes, it has

It’s been a long time since the book of love

I can’t count the tears of a life with no love

Carry me back, carry me back

Carry me back, baby, where I come from, whoa-oh-oh

   The last thing I remember was walking the streets of Manhattan, down 8th Avenue to the corner of 35th Street, being seated with my two friends at a restaurant when Fausto the greatest waiter in NYC formerly of CAFE 31 served me a double Grey Goose on the rocks without me even saying a word. The place was strangely empty. My usual order of fried calamari was placed on our table followed by veal parm over pasta. Fausto brings over a bottle of red wine to help us celebrate our meal. We pay the tab leaving a generous tip and proceed to THE WORLD’S MOST FAMOUS ARENA, finding the surrounding streets and area almost completely void of humans. This is unusual, this is Midtown Manhattan for Christ’s sake. A few hours earlier my bride told me about a virus that was making lives difficult. Could this be related to that? Before I left home she loaded my jacket pocket with a pack of tissues and a small vial of hand sanitizer while informing me to “be careful”, to wash my hands with the gel regularly and avoid crowds. “Impossible”, I told her. It’s March 10, 2020 and what is left of the Allman Brothers Band AKA THE BROTHERS @ 50 will be playing THE GARDEN to a sold out crowd.

   Here I am, 937 days later (2.567 years), finally, in NEW YORK CITY. What the fuck happened? COVID-19 is what happened. In the interim we missed my Mother-In Laws 90th birthday, a few weddings were postponed, a funeral was missed due to crowd restrictions, the pub cancelled our St. Paddy’s Day Annual Event, we had to have a car parade instead of a Sweet 16 for my granddaughter, and on and on.We had food and drink delivered to the house, searched for paper products and awaited the day and time when we could get our inoculations.Sports were abbreviated, and/or teams placed in a bubble, I did my taxes on Zoom, and voluntarily returned tickets for not one but two concerts. But here I am 937 days later…

to be continued…

TERRESTRIAL RADIO:”Yuck”

   Right off the bat I will disclose that as a younger man the advent of a clear FM broadcast channel and the music played on said channel might have been linked to my steering away from having a career in baseball. A fair to good hitter, an outstanding All-star infielder, and while not the ace of the staff I was a pretty good pitcher. Then, slowly, something happened.

   It just might be the two AM radios that I remember most. Two radios exactly the same model except one was black which was in my parent’s bedroom on Dad’s nightstand, the other a white model on top of the Frigidaire in the kitchen. Very rarely if ever would either be on but when one was, especially “whitey” in the kitchen, the sounds would be amazing. The magical tunes seemed to send the cares and woes of this seven year old far away. When I was tall enough to switch it on that one in the kitchen got a good workout. Then Christmas of 1959, I received a small transistor radio all for myself.The first tune I heard was MACK THE KNIFE by Bobby Darin and life would never be the same.

“Oh, the shark babe has such teeth, dear,

And he shows them pearly white

Just a jack-knife has ole MacHeath, babe

And he keeps it out of sight”.

   In 1865 Guglielmo Marconi was credited with inventing the “wireless” that is the first practical signaling system, therefore he was later granted the title of the “inventor of the radio”.

   To me it seems humorous and somewhat prophetic that the town I live in, Copiague, New York, a small hamlet located on the south shore of Suffolk County, Long Island would once have been named Marconiville.  There is still a large iron awning in the center of town proudly declaring to all visitors “MARCONIVILLE”. And of course, there is the obligatory Marconi Blvd, which years later in my story will be the location of The Record Rack, a short lived but interesting shop where I purchased many of my vinyl wares. Yes, at one point in his life Marconi resided in my town, however so short a time it was.

   In November of 1967 I was purchasing mostly albums, having drifted away from single (45rpm) releases.This change in my purchasing, as well as the purchases of like minded teens listening to the same current music, was due in part, a large part, by one singular event; that being the change in FM radio broadcasting.

   (A brief history thanks to Allen Sniffen) In 1966 the Federal Communications Commission ruled that major market FM radio stations could no longer simulcast their AM sister stations.  FM had to become separate with individual programming.  This was deemed necessary to allow FM to grow and develop its own audience.  The ruling put radio station owners in a bind.  They needed to come up with new formats for these weaker and less desirable stations. Since FM was more difficult to receive,  its universe of potential listeners was much smaller… and so was its billing. 

    The new formats therefore had to be both different and relatively inexpensive to program. It was in that environment that RKO General Broadcasting launched its new WOR-FM  (98.7Mhz) “Hot 100” format on July 30, 1966.  The name is deceiving because, in fact, it was the first progressive rock station in the country.  It marketed itself as stereo as a way to distinguish itself from AM radio.  The problem was that many of the records played by the station were not in stereo.  While it was true that most record albums were stereo, singles were not.  Since the singles came out before the albums, much of the new music it was breaking was in mono.

   So to me as a 14 year old, my listening experience changed overnight, well actually after purchasing an AM-FM radio which did not exist in my house.The newly staffed WOR-FM hired some of NYC’s hottest “Top Ten” dj’s, specifically MURRAY“The K”(Kaufman) from 1010 WINS, SCOTT MUNI from 570 WMCA and later 770 WABC, and ROSKO, the coolest sounding person on the radio, anywhere. Murray The K appeared to be the draw for WOR-FM and the “new” MURRAY was a 180 degree departure from what I was familiar with while listening to him on 1010 WINS (AM). This was not “Top 40” jive talking any longer, as a matter of fact it was a “cool” MURRAY, one who it has been claimed broke the song  “Society’s Child” in the Summer of 67 (because it should be heard), as well as PROCOL HARUM’s “Whiter Shade of Pale” simply because HE “liked it”. AND Murray was famous in the area  for his holiday stage show extravaganzas, the last which brought THE WHO and (as billed) THE CREAM to NYC for the first time, Easter of 1967. My buddy went and raved about those two bands.

   But WOR-FM was a short lived experiment as program directors tried to rein in the playlist, to the chagrin of the radio hosts. Murray was fired in September of 67 despite having the highest rated FM program in NY, even higher than most AM shows. During his short tenure at WOR-FM “The K” attracted not only a large audience but in the audience advertisers found a different demographic, a newer demographic, that being a more mature college aged kid and with this newer, older audience the station drew in record companies as their advertisers.

    Record companies had found the station (WOR-FM) was highly valuable at influencing sales of rock albums especially new artists and groups like Cream, The Doors, Jefferson Airplane, and The Jimi Hendrix Experience, acts which were having their records played and /or being introduced. At WOR-FM (October 1967)with a new tighter playlist ROSKO quit while “on the air”. He was soon found (October 30,1967) hosting the 7PM to midnight program at the “all girls dj’s” of WNEW-FM 102.7 FM. WNEW-FM was a MOR station with an entire staff of female Dj’s, a unique experiment at the time. But at the 7PM hour Rosko had a free hand to “do his thing”. JONATHAN SCHWARTZ (10AM- 2PM) was added on November19, and a few days later SCOTT MUNI (2-6PM) joined the staff. ALLISON STEELE  later dubbed “The Nightbird” (2AM-6AM) was held over from the formerly “all girl” staff and WNEW-FM took off.Note: a few years later the line up included John Zacherle and Pete Fornatale with Vince Scelsa added on weekends.

    Today, this FM experience is an unlistenable offense to the ears. Psycho babbling “Morning Shows” with an announcer (no longer dj’s) ramble on while a partner is laughing uncontrollably. Example: #1: “He was wearing a yellow shirt…” #2 responds while chuckling, “A yellow shirt?”…#1: “yes, yellow”…#2 laughing even louder, “No way, truthfully, a yellow shirt?”…#1: “Yes, yellow”… #2 is now just laughing and sounds like he is hitting his hand on a table…#3 joins in: “Did you say yellow?”… and on and on it goes for five minutes. All of the above is almost verbatim. It sucks, what happened? The music played is all top 40 hits heard on all the other stations. Truthfully, this is not broadcasting but rather “narrow” casting with a cast of idiots.

to be continued…

Oh, Ye, gentle mistresses and most distinguished gentlemen, and others… The opinions and observations are solely my own views, and I take full responsibility for any errors of fact, not to mention any predictions that prove to be wildly inaccurate.

Today’s Listening Pleasure: Satellite Radio (Meg Griffin)

“SO LONG”…”You Said What…?”

Today’s Listening Pleasure: THE DEAD KENNEDYS: “Rawhide” 

   Needless to say at 70 years old I am still a sucker for the old black/white 30 minute television westerns I grew up with, some got even better when the programs grew to one hour in “living color”. “Gunsmoke” was a true favorite of mine. In hindsight I would have to question the integrity of the characters as represented in each episode. First, the star is U.S. Marshall Dillon who regularly patrols the wooden walkways of Dodge City looking for miscreants, criminals, and those on the “most wanted” posters found in his office. Usually, the Marshal is drinking beer in the saloon with his trusted companion “The Doc” and also found at a table is “Miss Kitty” the owner/operator of the saloon and brothel upstairs. In today’s world, let’s just say the constant public drinking of the “Doc” and Marshall would be frowned upon, and to be hanging with “Miss Kitty” a “lady of the evening” at their side, enough said.

   In more than one episode the “guest” character when leaving the saloon table with some sage advice will say, “So long, Marshall” which got me thinking. What the hell does “So Long” mean…and why would someone in 1870 Kansas territory use that phrase?(Kansas Statehood January 1869)…Hmmmm…

   So here it goes, the etymology of the phrase as best I understand it. “So long” used as an interjection is a parting salutation mostly of unknown origin. Legend has it that it was a slurring of words, that is a “mispronunciation” of Scandinavian phrase “adjo sa ledge” literally  “bye so long” used by sailors, dock workers and prostitutes. The phrase turned up about the same time in 1860 America, Great Britain, and Canada. However, its first use in print was in the last poem in WALT WHITMAN’S “Leaves of Grass” (1860). It was commonly used in subsequent years by laborers and middle class in port cities of the Northeast America, and considered a bit vulgar by the upper class. Picked up in early into the “roaring twenties” by the literary and artists it was then “hip” to use in common vernacular as a proper salutation of departure…”so long for now”

to be continued…

PS: The Arizona Historical Society and The Wild West History Association, documented that Matt Dillon’s TV character was shot at least 56 times, knocked unconscious 29 times, stabbed three times, and poisoned once.

Oh, Ye, gentle mistresses and most distinguished gentlemen, and others… The opinions and observations are solely my own views, and I take full responsibility for any errors of fact, not to mention any predictions that prove to be wildly inaccurate.

MUSIC I NEVER HEARD UNTIL… 

Oh, Ye, gentle mistresses and most distinguished gentlemen, and others… The opinions and observations are solely my own views, and I take full responsibility for any errors of fact, not to mention any predictions that prove to be wildly inaccurate.

Today’s Listening Pleasure: HOWLIN WOLF-“Howlin’ Wolf”  

   Playing stick ball in the street with the fellows, we usually had a battery operated AM radio playing the Top 40 tunes of the day to keep us company. One hot summer day in 1964 I heard a strange sounding song, one that starts off with a guitarist plucking each string slowly, followed by bass, drums, and an organ. Then, the voice, and oh what a voice it was…“There is a house in New Orleans”… “Who is this?, What is this?” I awaited for the DJ to announce the tune. Finally, he said, “That’s THE ANIMALS with “House Of The Rising Sun”. I knew I had to find that single on my next trip to the record store.

   Being a very young teen record collector is a difficult hobby to have. Most of my friends collected baseball cards or stamps, me I needed vinyl. Having limited resources a record had to really kick me in the balls for me to buy it. A paper route helped but not by much so at this juncture in time my items were usually limited to the occasional album but mostly singles, aka “the 45”, hopefully one with a picture sleeve. Stored alphabetically in a small compact carrying case each item was also recorded in my “journal” as to where I bought it, who I was with when I bought it and mostly, why or how I became aware of the recording. Years later this journal would be a blast to read and laugh at. But I digress…

   I finally found “House of The Rising Sun” b/w “Talkin’‘Bout You” as it shimmed up the chart  becoming a #1 hit. A few months later The ANIMALS were on Sullivan, SHINDIG!, HULLABALOO, and again all over the radio with various hits “I’m Crying”,“Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”, et al. All good stuff for sure. “House” was the only ANIMALS single I had, then mid 1966 I bought “The Best of The Animals” album. It was wonderful, gaining a heavy rotation on my turntable. One tune in particular blew me away, “Boom, Boom”. I needed to know more about this recording and who is JOHN LEE HOOKER, the songwriter. I take the bus to TSS which had a great record department. The older guy behind counter, somewhat of a blow hard, knew everything about only what he liked. He once said when describing an album to a customer “it gave me goosebumps on my toe nails, that’s how good that record is”. “WTF is he was talking about?”, I thought.  I searched the bins for HOOKER to no avail. There appeared to be no album nor single by JOHN LEE HOOKER. I was frustrated but determined to find something/anything.The guy at the counter just said, “Nope” when I asked. He obviously either didn’t know who JOHN LEE HOOKER was, OR saw a fourteen year old boy and thought, “get outta here, punk”. A few other less stocked record stores had no HOOKER either.

   Then, two years later while working as a summer intern on Wall Street, all of 16 years old, lo and behold in WALL STREET RECORDS I find the “Concert at Newport” album by JOHN LEE HOOKER. I couldn’t wait to get home to check it out. Amazing, just Mr. Hooker and a bassist, recorded live in 1963. Opening track is “I Can’t Quit You Baby Blues”. A few months later the same tune is on side two of LED ZEPPELIN’S debut album (not credited to JL HOOKER) and it was the opening number when I saw them at FILLMORE EAST, May of 1969.

   Another tune I heard on the radio was “Smokestack Lightning” by a band called SMOKESTACK LIGHTNIN’. I heard this particular song before (Yardbirds) but not like this version, this was slow and deliberate. I knew it was written by HOWLING’WOLF as was “Spoonful” but who was this HOWLIN’ WOLF. Oh my…I got the HOWLIN’ WOLF album (released 1962) aka “The Rocking Chair” lp, and that collection led me to WILLIE DIXON whose recordings were very hard to find. But, I did it…

   In short, the original or so I thought “original” recordings were great upon first listen but eventually I realized these Brits were only reinventing American blues music which me, an American, had never heard until…

to be continued…