Music

Colin Hay at Canal Room

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I was very late to the blogging world. Rob Page (CEO of Zope Corporation) needled me for a while, and I finally relented. My only goal was to document our lives (mostly the good memories) in excruciating detail, so that as our memories fade (or fail), we’d have a record to look back on, semi-authoritative.

In doing so, I told the stories of our lives in chronological order, because I was writing for myself. After a while, when covering music events became a major theme here, Lois strongly requested (she would be annoyed at me if I said insisted) 😉 that I cover the headliner first, then the opening act, then our background story. That became my pattern, which I’ve been faithful to for a long time now.

That isn’t the case for this post (already, given this long intro), but really for another reason.

In every performance that we’ve attended for the past six years, if there was an opening act, the headliner at least acknowledged the opening act, typically thanking him/her/them, and usually requesting another round of applause. Often, the headliner gushes about the opening act. Occasionally, the headliner brings out the opening act to do a number with him/her/them, or surprises the audience by joining the opening act during their stint (Girlyman has done that a few times in our experience).

Last night was the only exception. Colin Hay didn’t acknowledge (or even mention) the opening act, The Paper Raincoat. For that, I will cover their part of the show first, and then cover Colin’s piece. They deserved the mention last night, and still do this morning. I would have preferred for it to come from Colin, who has a wee bit more influence than me, but here goes my take.

We saw Colin Hay live for the first time two weeks ago, at the Birchmere, covered in this post. We both loved the show, Lois in particular. I noticed that he was playing two nights at the Canal Room (4/15 and 16). We weren’t scheduled to return to NYC until the 17th, but Lois got very excited about the prospect of seeing Colin again, in particular in such an intimate venue (we’ve been to Canal Room once before).

He had different opening acts for the two nights. I listened to both on their respective MySpace pages (The Paper Raincoat page is linked above). Both were good, but I particularly liked The Paper Raincoat. While it didn’t hurt that they were the second night (altering our trip a bit less), I really did prefer to hear them live, given the choice.

So, we locked in tickets to see Colin again, influenced by the fact that The Paper Raincoat sounded like a group we would like. We were right!

While there are many differences, I would say that The Paper Raincoat has a similar sound and feel to The Weepies. You won’t confuse the two, but if you like The Weepies (and we do, a lot), then you’ll like The Paper Raincoat.

I encourage you to listen to all of the songs on their MySpace page, and to read the detailed biography there. I’ll highlight one unique (and cool) feature about the band, but they go into much more detail in the biography than they did on the stage last night.

While every one of their songs stands alone musically and lyrically, and is thoroughly enjoyable, unlike other bands, all of their songs combine to tell one long story (basically, a novel, unfolding in a series of songs). The concept is very cool, and can serve as an extra impetus to follow the band long term, if they can keep up the genre and keep the story interesting. It’s also the reason for naming the group The Paper Raincoat (but you’ll have to read the MySpace bio to understand why).

Standing on the stage from left-to-right were:

Amber Rubarth playing electric keyboards and mini xylophone. She sings lead and harmony, and writes/co-writes their material. A very talented lady, who also exudes a ton of warmth on stage.

Amber Rubarth

Amber Rubarth

Alex Wong played the guitar, a tiny electric keyboard, and the mini xylophone. He too sings lead and harmony as well as writes/co-writes their material. He has an excellent voice, with a very self-effacing stage presence.

Alex Wong Mini Xylophone

Alex Wong Mini Xylophone

Alex Wong Mini Keyboard

Alex Wong Mini Keyboard

The two of them comprise The Paper Raincoat. In addition to them, they had a guest drummer.

Adam Christgau played the drums, and sang harmony for much of the set. He’s really good, at both. He also did some unique (to me) things on the drums. On a couple of songs, he covered the snare drum with a towel, achieving a very interesting sound. On one song, he put the towel on the Hi-hat cymbal, also to good effect. Finally, he used a brush drumstick on a frisbee. Really? Yes, a frisbee (or at least, that’s exactly what it looked like to me!).

Adam Christgau

Adam Christgau

On their second-to-last number, they did something very cool. Alex had two tambourines in his hand, and he invited Colin Hay up to the stage to shake one with them. After 10 seconds of waiting (jokingly), he decided to offer the tambourine to an audience member (without the invitation to come up on the stage). The tambourine ended up in Lois’ hands.

While Lois was shaking her heart out (pretty well, if I say so myself), Alex and Amber joined Adam, and all three of them played the one drum set simultaneously. It was really cool (not just because I was sitting the closest to the tambourine player). 😉

Amber Adam Alex Drumming

Amber Adam Alex Drumming

They finished their set with an a capella number sung by Amber, with Alex and Adam harmonizing, and playing percussion on their chest and legs. In addition to well-timed hand-clapping (for additional rhythm) by each of them, they did some cool cross-person hand clapping, making it a visually interesting song as well.

The Paper Raincoat A Capella

The Paper Raincoat A Capella

They were on stage for a total of 40 minutes, all of it fun and beautifully sounding. To repeat, they deserved more than a mention from Colin. Of course, if he had given it, I probably would have spent less time on them, so perhaps he did my readers a favor, in giving me an excuse to highlight them. 🙂

Colin Hay came out 30 minutes after The Paper Raincoat exited the stage, at 9:22pm.

Colin Hay

Colin Hay

Everything that I said about him at the Birchmere applied last night. He was hysterical, had a great set list, sang amazingly and played the guitar wonderfully. It was an excellent show. I won’t repeat those things. There were a few qualitative differences in the show, so I’ll concentrate on that instead.

At the Birchmere, Colin noticed a kid in the front row (just a few feet over from us), who was likely around eight-years-old. It caused him to catch himself a couple of times when he was about to say something raunchy, or drug related. He still cursed a bit, but you could tell that he was trying not to do it as much as he wanted to (and told the audience that he normally does).

Well, last night, there was nothing holding him back. If you haven’t heard the F-word spoken in a while, you should try to catch a Colin Hay show, so that you can get your fill quickly. It doesn’t bother me whatsoever (Lois isn’t a fan of this type of communication), so I’m just mentioning it in case any future concert-goer cares to know that in advance.

He also told more drug-related stories (mostly pot, not hard drugs). They were very funny, and usually related to the song he was about to sing (as were his stories at the Birchmere). While there were quite a number of repeats in his comedic stories (quite natural for a given tour, and for an introduction to the same song!), there were also a reasonable number of fresh stories, all well told, and all extremely funny. The audience was (once again) eating out of his hand!

The second difference is that at the Birchmere, the entire show was solo. Last night, he had a special guest, his wife, Cecelia Noel. In addition to having her own band, she occasionally performs with Colin, even when his full band is on stage (you can easily find YouTube videos of the full band, with Cecelia on stage too).

She has an excellent voice, and obviously knows the material cold. She dances in pantomime to the lyrics, which we found a bit distracting, but I’m sure that others enjoyed it immensely. Especially the men, since she’s quite beautiful, and her movements are anything by shy and demure. 😉

Cecelia Noel

Cecelia Noel

Colin was able to work her in to some of his gags as well. One small example is his song Beautiful World. There is a line in there “I Like Sleeping With Marie”. At the Birchmere, he sang that line straight. Last night, with Cecelia on the stage (she joined him for roughly 1/3 of the numbers), after singing “I Like Sleeping With Marie”, he smiled at the audience, and added “Not Anymore”, in the pause between lines, very naturally, very good naturedly, and Cecelia played along as well. It was very cute.

The other difference was the venue itself. Birchmere is very large, with very large tables (it’s a place where you eat dinner and watch the show at the same table). It seats 650 people, and Colin sold it out.

Canal Room is a small venue. The only other time we were there, it was set up in a lounge atmosphere, with plush chairs and sofas, quite spread out. In other words, not all that much seating, allowing a capacity of roughly 100 people (I’m just guessing). Last night, it was set up with tiny fold-up chairs (that hurt my butt quite a bit). That permitted a lot more people to sit, and then they crammed in the standing room crowd around the bar, and in every other corner of the place.

My best guess is that there were roughly 300 people there last night. As with the Birchmere, this was not a crowd that wandered in off the street to hear whoever was playing. These were hard-core Colin-loving fans, that knew every word to every song (except perhaps the gorgeous number that he did from his upcoming August release of his new CD). Whenever he invited the audience to sing along, they were only too thrilled to oblige.

Colin was on stage for exactly 105 minutes, all wonderful. He’s a joy to see live, and I’m sure we’ll do it again in the future.

We got to the Canal Room very early on purpose (we were expecting the more limited seating like the first time we were there). The doors opened at 7:30pm, but we arrived at 6:25 to stand patiently outside. It turns out that we were first on line! The bouncer felt bad for us, and actually suggested we go get a bite or a drink at his favorite place around the corner. There was no way Lois was going to miss out getting the best seat in the house, so we just stood there.

I am actually amazed at how quickly the hour passed, and that I didn’t even have a second of physical discomfort for standing in one place for an hour. Whew. I am also extremely impressed with how organized the Canal Room staff are (and how nice they all are as well).

When they opened the doors, we were the first two in, and grabbed the two center seats in the first row. Aside from neck strain in looking up at The Paper Raincoat and Colin Hay all night, the seats were fantastic.

At intermission, Lois bolted out of her seat and bought two copies (both signed) of The Paper Raincoat’s EP (four songs, all of which are on their MySpace page). Before the show started, she also bought Going Somewhere by Colin Hay (she bought two different CDs of his at Birchmere). We intended to hang around and have him sign it after the show. Unfortunately, we were really wiped, so just like Birchmere, we bailed and didn’t say hello to him at either place. Some other time…

Girlyman at Barns at Wolf Trap

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Another night, another fabulous Girlyman concert. Same old, same old, blah blah blah. Right? Wrong! 🙂

So, I just covered their April Fool’s NYC show at Joe’s Pub extensively in this post the other day. I’ll try not to be too repetitious, but I will highlight some of the similarities.

I mentioned in that post that Girlyman mixes it up, even on the same tour (in this case, in the same week). That was the case last night too. For the past year, Joyful Sign has been featured in every show, either as an opening number (at Joe’s) or a closing number (at Gravity Lounge, Birchmere, etc.). They didn’t play it last night. Not complaining, just reporting. 🙂

They opened the show with my favorite song, Hold It All At Bay. Since I closed my last post about them mentioning that, I’ll fantasize for a second and say that they did that to specifically make me happy. 😉

Girlyman

Girlyman

Next they played one of our favorites (a very silly thing to say, because 95% of their songs are amongst our favorites), On The Air, which they hadn’t played at Joe’s, but opened most of their 2008 shows with. During the set they also played their new cover of Mary by Patty Griffin, and their new song Wherever You Keep, both of which are so wonderful that it was great to hear them again and start to cement them in our minds.

They did not play Doris’ new song, Nothing Called Home, so we’ll have to wait for our CD of the live recording at Joe’s to hear it again.

So, why did I say that this night was not the same old, same old? (Aside from the obvious fact that all of their shows have a freshness to them!) Last year, at the Barns, they played their cover of Rock Me Amadeus (the previous link is not their version) by Falco. I have been dying to hear it again ever since. I’ve called it out a couple of times during the request section of their shows, to no avail.

Last night, they did the same bit that they did at the Barns last year (which was the only time I’ve seen them do it before). They had the audience vote on which of three whimsical songs they should do, based just on keywords. Of course, their fans know which songs are associated with which keyword, but any newbies wouldn’t know

The keywords were:

  • Backwards
  • German
  • Moose

They voted on them in the order: Backwards, Moose, German. Lois clapped her little heart out for Backwards. It moved the needle, but it was clear that the majority of the audience was holding their vote for one of the next two.

Next up was Moose, which got a ton of applause (Nate also noted some serious whistles as well). I was sure it was going to end up being Moose. Then we voted on German, which is what I wanted, badly. Thankfully, enough other fans wanted it too, as it ended up surpassing Moose. Whew!

Why was it so important to me to hear them do it again? Aside from the instantaneous enjoyment of the song (which they delivered on), I knew that I’d be buying a CD of the performance, so I would finally have a copy I could listen to forever, whenever I am in the mood. Sweet!

Of course, the audience sang the chorus out loud with them, so I’ll be able to enjoy remembering singing my little heart out as well. 🙂

They played a number of songs from Little Star (five in total!) only two of which they played at Joe’s on Wednesday night. They also played Good Enough, something I haven’t heard them play often live, so that was a real treat too.

For the request, so many titles were yelled out it was overwhelming. Nate joked that people had just yelled out their entire repertoire (which wasn’t so far from the truth!). Of course, with 400 people in the audience, even though all of them were Girlyfans, clearly, there would be a wide range of favorites.

After much discussion between the three of them on stage, they settled on Maori. I mentioned in the last post that Maori is stunning, and difficult to nail live. They clearly didn’t intend to do it at the Barns, but with enough people yelling for it (perhaps because they all read my last post!) 😉 they decided to do it again. Gorgeous!

They closed the show with This Is Me (one of the five Little Star songs). They returned to the stage quickly to a standing ovation. They played two more songs. In total, they were on the stage for 100 minutes. Let me correct myself, 100 blissful minutes!

After the show, we ordered our live CD (as we always do). Then we waited patiently to say our hellos, goodbyes and see you next times.

That’s it for the concert, but (unfortunately for those of you who can’t look away from an accident) nowhere near the end of the post itself. 😉

We bought tickets for last night’s show the minute we became aware of it, last October. We saw them at the same venue, the Barns at Wolf Trap last year, and loved the place (there should be no doubt about our loving Girlyman, right?). Even though the show was seven months away, in purchasing six tickets (at the time) together, the best we could do was the fourth row. Later on, we bought three more tickets, and those were relegated back in the 13th row…

Every seat at the Barns gets great sound, but aside from Lois’ poor vision, even well-sighted people lose a lot of the feel of a live performance when they sit further back, given that the faces of the performers are just a blur. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post about Colin Hay, when the performers are funny (in addition to their obvious musical talent), you miss out on some of the raised eyebrows, smirks (at exactly the right second), etc.

Nate was so on last night (is he ever not?), that it was particularly cool to be close enough to him to catch every nuance of his between-song antics.

The fourth row was just fine for that, but our friends who ended up in the 13th row really loved the show, but admitted to seeing more of a blur on the stage than what we saw. Oh well, Girlyman fills the Barns (400 seats!), so you have to pounce early to get seats up front. I ended up in the middle seat in our row, dead center stage, which was perfect!

If you read the last post, then you know that Elizabeth left me a comment that she’d be at the show too. She’s a major Girlyfan as well. She ended up sitting right behind us, and was finally able to bring her daughter to a show (she was too young to attend the last two times, when Elizabeth brought her son). Both her kids are big-time Girlyfans.

Elizabeth also stepped up her support for the band by volunteering at the Merch table. Kudos Elizabeth! We all need to find ways to help and support the people we love and who give us so much joy. Writing these blog posts about Girlyman is one of the ways we try to help, as is introducing them to as many people as we can convince to join us at their shows!

I know that Elizabeth reads my missives about Girlyman and pays attention. At least I know it now, after last night. I usually mention that we really do everything we can (including leaping onto the stage after the show) to snag a set list, whenever we can. That didn’t happen last night, because we were four rows back, and had a lot of people with us.

After we said our goodbyes to Girlyman, Lois told me that she had something in the car that she really wanted me to give to Girlyman. It was a one sheet printout of the last few paragraphs of my last blog about them, including the photo of the youngest Girlyfan. I went to the car and came back in to hand it to them and got back on line. Elizabeth spotted me with a piece of paper, waiting on line (looking like I wanted it signed by the band), and she said to me “Is that tonight’s Set List?”

Unfortunately, it wasn’t, but I applaud Elizabeth’s fortitude in making it through all my wordiness. 😉

On to what we did before the show. Nine of us had dinner at Hunan Lion. We accidentally discovered this wonderful restaurant last year, when we dined there before the Girlyman show. We were seated at a round table, so we were all able to enjoy each other’s company thoroughly. The food was great, again.

Here is a shot of our seven guests with Lois. Ironically, I am not the one taking the picture, as I was off getting the car. A patron who was about to enter the restaurant saw Lois snapping photos of our guests, and offered to take one with her in it. Thanks! 🙂

Guests at Hunan Lion

Guests at Hunan Lion

Recall that we purchased the tickets seven months ago. We didn’t look at them carefully, and we made a pretty big mistake. We were caught in bad traffic on I95 on our way to the restaurant, and we got there later than we had planned. Still, we thought we had plenty of time, because we thought the opening act came on the stage at 8pm.

After dinner, we headed over to the Barns (first incorrectly going to the main Wolf Trap, about 1/3 of a mile down the road). We walked in at 7:58pm, which was cutting it too close, but since we had assigned seats, we thought we were fine.

Unfortunately, the show started at 7:30pm, and the opening act, Adrianne, was about to start her last number. I felt badly that I messed up the schedule, but was grateful that we didn’t miss any Girlyman! Thankfully, they pumped Adrianne’s number in the cafe where we waited, and the sound system was excellent, so we got a taste of what a talent she is. A very beautiful voice!

Lois took a shot of our guests, with me in it this time, waiting in the cafe while Adrianne sang her last song:

Guests at Barns

Guests at Barns

A few minutes later, her set was over, and there was a 20 minute intermission, so we were able to get to our seats and settle in. You already know about the show, so I’ll leave you with one more baby Girlyfan story.

One of our guests was 6.5 months pregnant. After the opening number, Hold It All At Bay, she turned to us and said that the baby was kicking beyond belief. Before you freak out, that’s typically a very good thing, and the mother definitely took it that way! Amazingly, it was the same song that calmed down the 5-week-old that I reported about in the last post. Of course, I have similar tastes to newborns (or even nearly borns!). 😉

After the show, the mom-to-be reported that the baby continued to happily kick along throughout the show. She was very pleased.

If you made it all the way to this point, there just might be a pleasant surprise reward for you (depending on who you are). 😉

The next time we’ll be seeing Girlyman live (at least the next time we’re sure about) will be June 4th, 2009, at the Highline Ballroom in NYC. Since that is a much larger venue than Joe’s Pub, we’ve decided to invite a lot more people than we usually do.

On Friday, I sent a large blind distribution out to a bunch of our Tri-State area friends, inviting them to be our guests at the show. If you are a friend, and didn’t get an invitation from me (then apologies for accidentally leaving your name off the list!), and would like to attend, please let me know.

If you don’t live in the area, then you didn’t get an invitation, but if you will be around on June 4th, or are willing to commit to making the trip, then also let me know.

Hope to see everyone at the Highline Ballroom on June 4th. Let’s sell the place out! 🙂

Colin Hay at Birchmere

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Last night we saw Colin Hay for the first time at Birchmere. I’ve known a lot of his famous songs for nearly 30 years, but I never knew his name, nor even knew that he was the leader of Men At Work.

In fact, more often than not, when I mention to someone nowadays that we love Colin Hay, they say “Who?”. When I say that he was the leader of Men At Work, they say “Wow, I loved them!”.

He became a little more of a household name when Scrubs had him do a number of cameos, including playing a number of his songs. That’s where we discovered him. He joked last night that he had a best kept secret career for 30 years, before Zach Braff selected his song I Just Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You for his movie Garden State. Zach Braff is the star of Scrubs, so after the success with Colin’s music in the movie, he introduced him to the show, very successfully as well.

Colin can do both solo shows (wonderfully) as well as full band shows. The show last night was a solo effort. It’s likely that this entire tour is a solo tour, but don’t take my word for it.

He came on stage at 8:30pm (I’ll cover the opening act later on). There were already three acoustic guitars sitting on the stage, but he had a fourth one already strapped on when he walked out to greet the crowd. I am using the word crowd literally. The show was sold out, and Birchmere can seat 650 people, so this is no small accomplishment, especially in these times, for a solo artist.

Colin Hay

Colin Hay

Interestingly, and more predictable, he mentioned up front that this was the sixth date on the current tour, and the first one that sold out. Of course, he complimented the audience on being so smart. 😉

We have been listening to a lot of Colin Hay recently, so we had no doubt we’d like the show. Even though we were 45th on line to get in, we ended up with nearly the best seats in the house. Right near the stage, all the tables seat 12 people each. So, even though there were 45 parties of people who were seated before us, there were still five empty seats at the table immediately in front of the microphone at center stage. Lois sat in the second seat in (giving the person to her left the best seat in the house, and Lois the third best seat) and I was to Lois’ right.

It’s important to us to sit up close, because Lois is effectively legally blind, and if we’re even mid-pack, everything on stage is basically a blur to her. But, it turned out to be a blessing from another perspective. Colin Hay is simply hysterical. He told very long stories in between most songs (and told one even before he started the show). It was pretty close to a full-blow standup comedy act (which is one of my favorite things in the world), but most of the stories actually related to the song he was about to sing, making them all-the-more special (but no less funny!).

By sitting up so close, we could fully appreciate every nuance in his facial expressions while he was telling the stories/jokes. He’s truly a master story teller / comedian (I’m convinced he could make a living as a standup comic), and that includes his ability to use body language, facial expressions, little noises, etc., to complement his schtick.

So, enough with the comedy, how about the music? Awesome. His guitar playing is excellent, and very consistent. While he picks beautifully on a few numbers, he’s mostly a fancy rhythm guitarist (by fancy, I mean that he throws in picks here and there, a few small leads, and mostly change-of-pace strumming to complement the beat of the song).

What stands out though is his voice, and the lyrics. He’s a great songwriter, both lyrics and melodies, but his voice is really exceptional. It’s very strong, yet very clear as well. Even when he hits very high notes (surprisingly), his voice remains steady and clear.

The sound system (and sound engineers) at Birchmere is one of the most consistently good ones of all the venues we frequent. Last night was no exception. That enhanced his skills, since there was no distraction due to distortion, feedback, incorrect leveling, etc.

He played a bunch of fan favorites (I could hear a number of people behind me singing along to most of the songs). He has a new CD coming out in August, and he played at least one new number that will be on that CD (at least that’s the only one that I recall him explicitly mentioning was from the new CD).

After he said goodnight, he never left the stage (thankfully), and played one more song as an encore. He encouraged the audience to sing the entire song along with him, and many did. He tested them a few times, stopping to sing, to see if people were singing, and more importantly, singing the correct words. It turned out to be pretty funny.

While I’ve seen many solo acts in the past 37 years, many of whom were brilliant, he has to rank near the top in overall showmanship due to his ability to mesmerize with words, as well as with song. He had the crowd eating out of his hands from the minute he stepped on the stage, until the minute he left, which was a total of 100 minutes.

Colin Hay Goodnight

Colin Hay Goodnight

If I had to guess, I’d say he sang for 60 minutes, and spoke/joked for 40. A very good blend. Lois commented to me that given his energy level when he sings, if he didn’t take a break to tell stories, he might not have been able to make it through a 90 minute set!

One of his songs that we love is called What Would Bob Do?, and he didn’t sing it last night (unfortunately). It has a very special meaning to us now, because we just recently wrote a custom version of that song (using only his chorus), and turned it into a birthday tribute song to our wonderful friend Bob! The we in that sentence was his family and friends (there were seven separate writers, all of whom wrote at least two verses each!).

Here’s a link to a YouTube video of Colin Hay doing What Would Bob Do?

Here’s a link to our YouTube video tribute to our friend Bob! (it’s 10 minutes long, just warning you in advance!) 😉

Anyway, to repeat, he was awesome. We bought two of his CDs after the show, but we didn’t hang around to get them signed because the line was long, he wasn’t out yet, and we had a long drive back to Fredericksburg. Next time!

Colin had an opening act, Janet Robin, a solo act as well. She’s been opening for him a number of times on this tour (but not all). Rather than spend too much time on Janet, my summary is that she’s talented in ways that aren’t really suited to a solo act, in particular to an acoustic solo act.

Janet Robin

Janet Robin

She’s a considered a top guitarist by many. There’s little doubt that she has a lot of talent on the guitar, but it struck me that she’d have been more comfortable with an electric guitar than an acoustic one. Again, I could probably elaborate, but we were really there to see Colin, not Robin.

Her voice isn’t that great (at least not last night, but produced, her voice sounds better on her MySpace page, which I’m listening to now, as I type this). We weren’t that impressed with her songwriting either, so that was really three strikes out of three possibilities (though her guitar playing was still reasonably impressive!).

That said, I liked her (not the performance of the songs). Much like Colin Hay, she spent nearly as much time telling stories between songs as she did singing. She’s very funny (in a self-effacing way). In fact, I would have preferred that she played less, and talked more. In addition to enjoying her stories, it made her personally more likeable to me, and I was therefore more tolerant of her performance.

This was in stark contrast to when Chelsea Lee opened for Girlyman at Birchmere. That night, Chelsea’s voice was extraordinary, but her personality was non-existent to negative, making all of us anxiously await her departure from the stage.

Anyway, to be fair, there are definitely many Janet Robin loving fans, including some at the show (that likely came more for her than for Colin). One sat two seats away from us. So, as in all music, it’s a matter of personal taste. If yours are like ours, you won’t be seeking out a Janet Robin solo effort…

Not much back-story to tell here, so I’ll just say that my typical pulled pork sandwich was excellent, as it always is! 🙂

Girlyman at Joe’s Pub

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I know I’m boring my regular readers by repeating that Girlyman is my favorite group. At least you now that this continues to be the case. 😉

Last night was the ninth time that we’ve seen them perform live, and the fourth time we’ve seen them at Joe’s Pub, our favorite club. We love their music and on stage antics enough to want to see them over and over (in addition to listening to their CDs a ton as well). But, while there are repeats (mostly crowd favorites) among the shows, they always manage to keep thing fresh, even within a given tour.

Last night had some serious surprises, even for those that have seen them as often (or even more) than we have. They played three songs that we’ve never heard before.

The first was Mary, a cover of a Patty Griffin song. Absolutely gorgeous. They also told a funny side-story about it, and Patty, who was also on their recent Folk Cruise, Cayamo.

Next was a new song of theirs called Wherever You Keep. As much as I love all three of them as musicians, the magic of Girlyman is their harmony and lyrics. In this new song, Nate plays a beautiful finger-picked acoustic guitar, while Ty and Doris just sing, no instruments in hand. (Saying that Ty and Doris just sing is like saying that Lance Armstrong just rides a bike!) 😉

The fact that there’s only a quiet (but gorgeous!) guitar for the background, makes their voices so front-and-center, that you get the chills seconds into the song. I can’t begin to tell you how much I love this new song, even though I’ve only heard it once! I’m praying that it will be on the new studio CD coming out later this year (they’re hard at work on it now!).

Either way, I will have a copy in a month or so. Girlyman records all of their live concerts, and you can order a CD for $20, right after the show, and have it mailed to you after the tour is over, and they have a chance to mix it. We have CDs of the last four shows we’ve seen (ever since they started offering this service), and we love them all. The CDs include the on stage banter as well.

The last of the new songs is by Doris, called Nothing Called Home. They joked that it hasn’t been arranged yet, and that each time they do it on stage it comes out differently. Doris apologized in advance that she even occasionally forgets some of the words. Last night, they nailed it, Doris didn’t miss a beat, and the random arrangement of the night (Nate joked that it was #57) sounded great to me!

For the past year, they’ve been closing the shows with Joyful Sign (the first song I ever heard of theirs, and one of my favorites). Last night they opened the show with it, setting a different tone than in most of the other shows. Like I said above, they keep it fresh.

They always have a request section, and they did two last night, Young James Dean and Speechless. Wonderful!

They did an absolutely incredible rendition of Maori. Lois and I love this song and listen to it in the car all the time. Neither of us can remember whether we’ve ever heard them do it live though. It’s possible, but given how many times we listen to it on the CD, it’s hard to be sure and separate our memory from reality.

I linked the lyrics above, because the song starts with a startling line:

When I first met you, I said
“My God, get away.
You smell like fish heads.”

Obviously, we know this by heart (and I even joked about it in a Facebook comment recently). Last night, Nate told the story behind the song, and it turns out that the above line is actually true! Anyway, the song is so rich, and their harmonies intricate, that it has to be a very difficult song to nail live (perhaps that’s one of the reasons they don’t do it often), but last night was perfect.

They played a bunch of other favorites, that I could list out (because I snagged the set list, like we always try to), but I’ll let the above stand as the differences, rather than repeat things I’ve said before. As for all four times that we’ve seen them at Joe’s, we were right up against the stage, smack in front of Nate.

Nate Borofsky

Nate Borofsky

Ty Greenstein

Ty Greenstein

Doris Muramatsu

Doris Muramatsu

They came out for an encore and played two songs, also done to perfection. After the show, we stood on line with the rest of their adoring fans and ordered our live CD from the show we just saw. We said our hellos and goodbyes to all three and headed back to the apartment, still aglow.

After we said goodnight to our two guests, we turned to each other and simultaneously said that we each thought that this was likely the best Girlyman show we’d been to. Of course, we both laughed that they’re all great, so it’s a little like splitting hairs, but still, that was our initial instinct, and it hasn’t faded, nearly 24 hours later.

If you tuned in only to hear about the show, go away now. For the hardy among you, here are the background details of how we came to see the show, and the day that led up to it.

Last October, we bought tickets to see Girlyman this coming Saturday (4/4/09) at the Barns at Wolftrap. In keeping with that, we expected to be in Virginia for the week before that show so we purchased tickets to see Cherish The Ladies at the Barns for last night (4/1/09). We also bought tickets to see Colin Hay at the Birchmere tomorrow night (4/3/09).

I’ve written about Cherish The Ladies before. They are fantastic and I was really looking forward to seeing them again, especially on a bigger stage (more on that in a moment). We’ve never seen Colin Hay before, but he’s very quickly become a new favorite of ours, and we are excited to see him tomorrow night (yes, we’re down in Virginia now, so we’ll be able to make that show!).

A month ago, we found out that Girlyman was going to be at Joe’s Pub on 4/1. While I felt badly that we would miss them in our favorite venue, I told Lois that my vote would be to keep our original schedule, see Cherish The Ladies, and then see Girlyman a few days later, both at the Barns. She was torn and wanted to think about it.

After thinking about it for a few hours, she firmly decided that she’d prefer to see Girlyman. We gave our tickets to Cherish The Ladies away to a friend (and colleague at Zope). He went last night with his wife, and reported today that the show was great. In particular, he really liked the step dancers.

I mentioned above that I was interested in seeing them on a bigger stage (which is unusual for me, since I love tiny clubs!). That was precisely because I’ve seen YouTube videos of them playing venues that could support the step dancing, and I loved it, and really wanted to see it live. We saw them at an awesome venue, but a tiny one, where no dancers could fit.

So, even though I missed out, both of us were thrilled that the tickets went to good use. Of course, we were doubly glad that Girlyman created an even more magical night for us than we expected (and you all know, we have high expectations for them to begin with!).

We love to introduce as many people to the wonder and joys of Girlyman, so we never buy just two tickets to see them. Since this show was scheduled to begin at 9:30pm on a Wednesday, we only bought four tickets, because we knew it could be difficult to find people who would want to stay out that late on a school night.

We have been trying to get together for a while with a good friend of ours, and his new girlfriend (new to us, I don’t know how long they’ve been together). When I offered him to be our guests, he wrote back saying that she was a big Girlyman fan, and that they would be happy to join us. Obviously, we liked her instantly, even though we haven’t met her yet. 😉

Unfortunately, Tuesday morning, the day before the show, he let me know that both of them had horrible colds, and would be unable to attend. Uh oh, we realized that it might be tricky to find people at this late date. We were correct. A number of couples turned us down, one after another.

Finally, one friend told me that he would love to come, but his wife was in Japan with their baby. He said he’d understand if we passed and went for another couple. We liked the idea of filling one seat guaranteed, and being able to broaden our search to single people as well.

But, before we broadened our search, I called one of our favorite couples, and invited the husband only (and I made that invitation through the wife, so there was nothing nefarious involved), 😉 knowing that the wife wouldn’t want to be out that late under any circumstances. Thankfully, he accepted, and we were set. Whew.

The next day (yesterday, the day of the show), we had two friends over for lunch. We had the most amazing Sushi meal from our favorite sushi place (conveniently located exactly across the street from our apartment), Hane Sushi. In addition to many of my favorites, I tried the Spicy Lobster Tartar. It’s cooked, so I don’t know why they call it Tartar. That said, it’s one of the more exceptional dishes I’ve eaten lately. Yummy.

Neither of our guest husbands (not the same people that were over for lunch) had seen or heard Girlyman before. Both thoroughly enjoyed the show, and one of them became an instant fan, purchasing one of their CD’s (download) from Amazon minutes after he got home. 🙂

Update: after reading this post, their new fan wrote to me to say that he purchased three of their albums from Amazon downloads! Now he has something to do on the airplane on his upcoming trip. 🙂

The Boys

The Boys

One final Girlyman anecdote that happened today.

At Zope, our VP of Finance and Administration is a big Girlyfan. So is her 5-year-old daughter. Both have seen them live (with us) twice. The mom just had another child less than a month ago. Today, via IM, she was telling Lois that he was particularly cranky, and she was having trouble settling him down.

Lois instantly suggested that she play one of Joyful Sign, Through To Sunrise or Kittery Tide (all three being very up-beat Girlyman songs). A few minutes later, the mom replied that the song that did the trick was Hold It All At Bay. She said “You should have seen the look on his face the minute that song started playing!”

For the few of you that made it this far (congratulations on being masochists), and somehow don’t know this yet, that’s my favorite Girlyman song. So, he’s a kindred spirit of mine, and Girlyman has just increased their lifelong fan club by one very young fan. 🙂

Update: with permission from the mom, here’s a photo of the confirmed youngest Girlyfan, as of 4/2/2009!

Youngest Girlyfan

Youngest Girlyfan

Weekend Birthday Bash

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Our friends from Richmond came up to spend a very special birthday weekend with us in NYC. They were supposed arrive at our apartment by 10am on Friday. That didn’t happen. There were significant snow flurries in NYC (nothing stuck), and the navigation system on the airplane was unable to make an instrument landing at LaGuardia, so while they were descending in NY, they we rerouted to Philadelphia.

I was tracking the flight in real-time and saw that it landed safely. I just didn’t realize it wasn’t anywhere near us… They ended up catching a 12:05pm flight from Philadelphia to LaGuardia, which got in at around 1pm, but that was enough for us to have rejigger Friday’s plans.

We had a blowout lunch scheduled for Rock-N-Sake. I have only eaten there once before, and loved it. I was really looking forward to introducing them to it. We ended up having to cancel that reservation (because they close at 2:30pm and reopen at 5:30pm). Instead, we went up to see Laura at her office and grabbed a light (and very fresh) lunch at Chop’t (a place I was interested in trying after hearing Laura speak highly of it).

(It’s been a long while since I’ve mentioned that clicking on any photo in any of my posts will display a larger image in a separate window/tab, so I’ll mention it again, now.) 🙂

Chop't

Chop't

We walked back to the apartment after lunch and relaxed for a bit. Not too long thereafter, we headed up toward Lincoln Center for dinner. We had tickets to South Pacific at the Vivian Beaumont Theater for an 8pm show and we wanted to eat in the neighborhood. I searched the web and read a ton of reviews, and settled on an Indian restaurant called Sapphire.

We met Laura there. Unfortunately, Chris got hung up at work, and ended up joining us just as we ordered dessert. The food at Sapphire was simply extraordinary. The four of us who ate the Tandoori lamb all claimed that it was the best lamb we ever had. All of the other dishes were superb as well. As much as we were all looking forward to Rock-N-Sake for lunch, if we had eaten there, we would have opted for a very light dinner, and would not have discovered this jewel!

Saffron Shrimp

Saffron Shrimp

Sapphire Indian Cuisine

Sapphire Indian Cuisine

From there we walked over to see South Pacific. Laura thought of this as a special birthday gift for her dad, given his love for this show. She made a perfect choice, because love it he did! The two leads are exceptional. Interestingly, neither of the leads that we saw are the Tony winning actors. Kelli O’Hara left the show on March 7th and Paulo Szot took two month-long leaves, the second of which occurred during our show. Laura Osnes played Nellie Forbush, and David Pittsinger played Emile de Becque.

South Pacific

South Pacific

I suspect that Bob loved this show more than Wicked. As much as I enjoyed South Pacific, for me personally, there’s little comparison to Wicked. Since this was Bob’s birthday bash and not mine, South Pacific was the perfect choice! 🙂

When we got back, Lois and I conked out while the rest of them stayed up way too late watching the NCAA tournament.

Saturday morning we had breakfast outside on our deck. It was chilly, but the sun helped make it not-too-unpleasant. This was our first meal outside in 2009, so it was very special in that respect as well. As much as I love restaurant dining, there are few more special places to have a meal than our deck at the apartment, so I’m glad that the season is finally underway. 😉

Deck Breakfast

Deck Breakfast

After letting the food settle, Sally, Bob, Chris and I went for a long walk. Lois took care of things around the apartment, and Laura baked her magical Apple Pie for a birthday dessert. After walking roughly 2.5 miles, the three of them broke off and headed back to the apartment, making for a five mile walk in total. I continued on my normal walk, roughly 8.25 miles in total.

Mid-afternoon, we decided to foist our presents on Bob. He opened a bunch, one-by-one, but he had no idea what was in store for him as his special gift. After he thought it was all over, we broke out a package of gifts, specially created by his family and friends. In fact, it’s so cool that I will be devoting an entire post to it later on (could be as much as a week from now), but I’ll describe it briefly here as well.

We took a song by Colin Hay called What Would Bob Do, and seven of us wrote our own verses about our Bob. We then had it recorded by Jack Kapanka over a simple background acoustic guitar. We sent 100’s of photos to Jack, who put together a wonderful video synchronized to the words and music. He then produced a DVD of the movie/music. The song is 10 minutes long (we wrote lots of verses), and the result was phenomenal.

The six of us watched the DVD at least five times between Saturday and Sunday, and got a huge kick of out of it each and every time. In addition to the video, Lois created a book with the lyrics and photos, and some song-sheets with the lyrics as well. The full package was a wonderfully creative custom gift for a very special person, celebrating his life (to date) and his amazing accomplishments.

Watching the DVD

Watching the DVD

Like I said, more on this specific topic in about a week. 🙂

Right after viewing the DVD a number of times, we walked up to our favorite restaurant, the Peking Duck House. We had a fabulous meal (as always), and waddled back to the apartment.

Duck House

Duck House

We all gathered in Laura and Chris’ apartment to watch the Duke game, and couldn’t wait for half time to dig in to the Apple Pie. Again, Lois and I called it an early night, and the rest of them continued on with more NCAA action.

Apple Pie

Apple Pie

On Sunday morning, the four of them had breakfast out, and then walked up to attend church services. We then all met up outside of Joe’s Pub at 12:45pm. We had tickets for a 2pm show for Eden Espinosa. This was her solo debut in NYC. Of the many Elphaba’s we’ve seen in Wicked, Eden was by far our favorite, so we were really looking forward to see her at our favorite club.

We had a nice lunch before the show, and she came on, with a five-piece band at about 2:05pm. She has a fantastic voice, with a surprising range (she hits incredibly high notes, with amazing power, and sustains them, even though you think, or at least I think, she’ll miss them). It was a real treat to see her, though I have some small nits to pick with the show.

Eden Espinosa

Eden Espinosa

The volume on the band was too high. They are superb musicians, and there was no distortion, but the place is too small to play that many pieces at that volume. While you could make out Eden’s voice even at the maximum volume of the group, that’s sheerly a testimony to how hard she was belting it out (and sweating as a result, even though it was on the cool side in the club).

Thankfully, she also did quite a number of songs with only the electric piano or acoustic guitar for accompaniment, so it wasn’t all top-of-the-lungs all the time. That brings me to my second nit. Song selection. While she’s great at the full range of songs she sang, I so much more enjoyed the ones with solo accompaniment (not just because of the volume). I don’t think she needs to prove her rock capabilities, at least not in a place as small as Joe’s.

She had a surprise guest, Katie Thompson. She came out and did a solo number, accompanying herself on the electric piano, called What Turns You On (available on the MySpace page linked above). She has one of the better voices we’ve heard, and she plays the piano marvelously as well. It was a real treat. After that, she played another of her songs, and Eden sang along with her, a bit of harmony (beautiful), but mostly alternating verses.

Katie Thompson

Katie Thompson

They played a third song together (with the rest of the band accompanying them as well), and then Katie left the stage.

Eden closed the show with an encore, singing Defying Gravity. We would have been disappointed to miss this one, so we were grateful that she came back out and gave us a taste of Wicked. 🙂

Even with the nits, I was very glad to see her (and discover Katie), and I suspect that I was more critical of the show than the rest of our guests, which is also a good thing!

Lois Eden Laura

Lois Eden Laura

Bob Eden Espinosa

Bob Eden Espinosa

Katie Bob Hadar Lois

Katie Bob Hadar Lois

Laura Bob Sally Chris Hadar

Laura Bob Sally Chris Hadar

Three of us headed back to the apartment to relax, and three more headed to B&H for some browsing (in anticipation of future camera shopping). We all met up at the apartment for a little more snacking on Apple Pie and Cupcakes (and two people even had some shrimp), watched the DVD again, and then we headed out.

We dropped Bob and Sally back at LaGuardia, then headed up to the house. Other than being colder than predicted, and the nuisance of being routed to Philadelphia at the beginning of the trip, it was a picture-perfect weekend, and we hope Bob enjoyed his birthday blowout a fraction as much as we did!

Happy Birthday Bob!

CMA Writers Series at Joe’s Pub

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Last night was our eighth CMA Writers Series at Joe’s Pub, and the first of 2009 (yes, there will be more shows in 2009, one is already scheduled for May 21).

The show started at 6:35pm (five minutes late), and was in the same format as most of the shows. There were five performers sitting across the stage. From left to right (with a picture of all of them together first):

CMA Lineup

CMA Lineup

Dave Berg played the guitar and sang. We’ve seen Dave once before, and loved him then, and last night again. In that post, I mentioned that he sang the first verse of one of his big hits (If You’re Going Through Hell) mimicing Bob Dylan. Last night, he did the entire song like Dylan would, except for the chorus. If you closed your eyes, you would swear Dylan was on the stage.

Dave Berg

Dave Berg

Dave was on comedicly as well, keeping the audience chuckling whenever he opened his mouth (other than to sing). He has a great stage presence, and gets along well with all of the other performers (many of whom he’s co-written with).

Sarah Buxton sang and played harmonica. She’s a rising star in the Country world. She has a raspy, powerful voice, and she hits notes in a wide range. I enjoyed her singing and her songs (at least two of which were co-written with Dave Berg, and one with Bob DiPiero). She has a bit of an over-the-top stage presence (not just when it’s her turn to perform), that was a little off-putting in the beginning. In fact, Lois never really got over it.

Sarah Buxton

Sarah Buxton

At some point in the evening, I got over it, because it started to feel real to me, rather than just put on, but who knows. One of her big hits (co-written with Dave Berg) is Keith Urban’s hit Stupid Boy. It’s autobiographical about her first husband (she’s divorced, and not remarried). It makes a lot of sense when you hear her back-story, and then hear it sung by a woman, and less so when Keith does it, even though it’s a nice song then as well…

To cut her some more slack, there was a reporter from People Magazine in the crowd, who was apparently there specifically to cover her (she’s the only one of the five that appears to be actively pursuing a performing career, in addition to being a songwriter). I think she was playing a bit to the reporter, and the rest of the guys on stage seemed perfectly happy to support her in doing so.

She’s definitely talented, and I won’t be surprised to see her continue to gain in popularity and success.

Bob DiPiero sat in the middle, as usual, running the show. He started this series, and is the one constant in every show. He’s a big-time hit with the crowd (there are many people in the crowd who consider him their favorite, in each show, even though large portions of his selection are repeats each time). He rarely disappoints, and last night he was really on (which he often is).

Bob DiPiero

Bob DiPiero

Rivers Rutherford sang and played guitar. He’s awesome, in every respect. I’ve mentioned a number of times that the quality of the performances can vary dramatically, as these are primarily songwriters, not performers. Some have less-than-stellar voices, some play the guitar passably, etc.

Rivers Rutherford could be a performing star (IMHO). He has a fantastic voice, is a superb guitarist (one of the top two or three that we’ve seen in the eight CMA shows, but not like some of the superstar guitarists that are full-time professional guitarists that I’ve covered many times). In addition, his stage presence is fantastic. He’s funny, his timing is perfect, and he had the crowd in the palm of his hand, the entire evening.

Rivers Rutherford

Rivers Rutherford

His guitar playing is so good that he’s the only person who has ever taken a guitar-only solo during our many CMA shows, and the crowd loved every second of it (including his hamming it up and standing and toying with the crowd while his fingers flew on the frets!). Bravo! Coming back to Dave Berg’s humor, at just the right second, Dave joked that he “remembered when he gave Rivers his very first guitar lesson…”. 🙂

Rivers Rutherford Standing

Rivers Rutherford Standing

Casey Beathard sang and played the guitar. He’s an awesome songwriter (many top hits), an excellent singer, and very solid guitar player as well. Personable, funny, and a very gentle (but excellent) stage presence.

Casey Beathard

Casey Beathard

After Rivers’ little romp on the stage during his guitar solo, Casey cracked up the crowd by standing for about five seconds (with one foot on his chair), emulating Rivers, then saying “That’s all I got…” 🙂 Of course, later on, Dave Berg did something similar, as did Sarah. It was funny, and a touching tribute to their respect for Rivers’ playing ability.

In total, they were on the stage for a very delightful 110 minutes. We’re already looking forward to May 21st. 🙂

Allman Brothers Band at Beacon Theatre

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Two years ago I saw the Allman Brothers Band (ABB) at the Beacon Theatre (without Lois). While I normally write very long music posts, that one was extremely short (mercifully so, say my readers). 😉

Everything I said in that post applied to last night’s show as well. So, you would think that I could make this an even shorter post. Unfortunately, that’s no longer my style, and in addition to telling a little more about our experience, we also have photos, since Lois was with me this time.

We also had tickets to see ABB last year at the Beacon. Unfortunately, that entire slate of shows was canceled due to Greg Allman having a case of Hepatitis C.

The show last night was called for 8pm, but I knew from the show in 2007 that it was highly unlikely to begin on time. I was right. The lights finally went off at 8:27pm, and after three minutes of milling around in the dark, the music began at exactly 8:30.

As in 2007, the sound system was impeccable. You could easily pick out any instrument and follow it clearly. Very cool with so much going on at the same time. As is my newer custom, I will briefly cover each member of the band, in the order they were standing (or sitting) on the stage, then share some of the surprises of the evening.

First a shot of the entire band, so you can get a sense of their placement on the stage:

Allman Brothers Band

Allman Brothers Band

Greg Allman played the organ and electric piano at the far left edge of the stage. I don’t know how he feels inside, but from my perspective, he’s 100% back to normal. His voice is strong, his playing very good, and he seemed in good spirits all night long.

Greg Allman

Greg Allman

Warren Haynes plays lead guitar (essentially the Duane Allman role). He’s awesome, but he’s not Duane Allman. I’ll have more to say on that later, but I actually enjoyed his playing more last night than in 2007, and I also noticed his leadership more last night. He’s the primary traffic caller (at least that’s how it appeared to me).

Warren Haynes

Warren Haynes

Derek Trucks plays lead guitar (essentially the Dickey Betts role). Since Dickey Betts is one of my favorite all-time guitarists, and since he was my favorite ABB member, Derek has some tall shoes to fill for me personally. There’s little doubt that he’s a monstrously talented guitarist, and has played with some of the greatest (including 20 years with ABB, and he’s only 30 now, yes, that’s not a typo!).

Derek Trucks

Derek Trucks

Oteil Burbridge plays the bass. In 2007, I noted that he was amazing. He’s really one of the best rock bassists I’ve ever seen, and he was awesome last night (as I bet he is every night).

Oteil Burbridge

Oteil Burbridge

The four of them form a row across the front of the stage. Behind them is a row of three drummers/percussionists.

Jaimoe plays a normal drum set (at least from my vantage point, but he was furthest away from me). He’s extremely good, but his arm movements are way more controlled than the other two drummers, so it’s a little harder to associate some of the drum sounds directly with him.

Jaimoe

Jaimoe

Marc Quinones plays both a normal drum set, and also a large bongo set with his hands. He probably plays the bongos a bit more (65/35 if I had to guess), and he’s awesome at both.

Marc Quinones

Marc Quinones

Butch Trucks plays the drums, and on one number, also plays two giant stand-up bass drums (like an orchestra would have). In 2007, I didn’t cover each individual member, I only mentioned how amazing the three drummers are. So, I had no idea that Butch is Derek Trucks’ uncle, and actually gave him his start in the business.

Butch Trucks

Butch Trucks

I highly encourage you to read Butch’s bio, linked above, as I too believe that he is the glue that keeps the band’s sound so tight. He’s an absolutely extraordinary drummer (and probably a guy I’d really like hanging out with as well!).

ABB is so tight, it’s hard to describe. That’s with seven people wailing at the same time, and three of them drumming their hearts out. The slightest mistake would be painfully obvious, and they simply don’t make any.

This year is their 40th anniversary, and they’re doing it up in style. Even in a normal year, they typically have surprise guests join them on stage at the Beacon. It can be different people each night, so if you’re only going on one night (as we did/do), you have no idea who it might be, even if you read about who joined the night before.

Right before the intermission, three guys came on stage to join them. Left to right, they were:

Brian Mitchell (the site is not responding as I am publishing this, so I’m not sure this is the correct site!) played eletric piano and organ. He was exceptional, and better than Greg Allman (significantly) IMHO.

Brian Mitchell

Brian Mitchell

Tommy Talton payed guitar (standing to the right of Derek Trucks) and sang some as well. He’s very good, but not as good as either Warren or Derek.

Tommy Talton

Tommy Talton

Scott Boyer was next, playing acoustic guitar (rhythm) and later switching to electric. He was on stage more as a vocalist (singing lead on a few numbers), rather for his guitar skills, which may be considerable, but he didn’t display them last night.

Scott Boyer

Scott Boyer

They played for 75 minutes in total, and then took a 30 minute intermission. When they returned, there was another special guest on stage, Sheryl Crow! She sang three numbers, and played guitar on the last one. She has a fantastic voice, and it worked well with ABB.

Sheryl Crow

Sheryl Crow

In case you aren’t convinced yet, it turns out that the Internet is pretty cool (who knew?). With one Google search, I found a site that has the full setlist from last night, including a YouTube video of Sheryl Crow singing Can’t Find My Way Home (and the concert was just last night!). The quality of the YouTube video isn’t half bad, and you can also see Derek Trucks playing the guitar (Warren to a lesser extent) and Marc Quinones playing the bongos.

Both Brian Mitchell and Tommy Talton joined ABB for a number of additional songs, including the amazing encore (One Way Out). James Van DeBogert came out for the encore only, played the drums, making four simultaneous drummers during the encore. I don’t recall him being introduced.

They played 65 minutes before leaving the stage for a couple of minutes, returning for the one-song encore. In total, they were on the stage for 150 minutes. Given the 30 minute delayed start, and the 30 minute intermission, from original show time until we left was 3.5 hours, a long night for us old fogies.

By now, you are probably praying that this is the end, but unfortunately, it’s not. I still have some more things to share. 🙂

When I wrote the post in 2007, I mentioned that I preferred Duane and Dickey to Warren and Derek. Other than saying that they didn’t duplicate Duane and Dickey’s sound exactly, I am not sure that I could have explained what I really thought the difference was (meaning, was I just lamenting not hearing exactly what I was used to?).

I think I can put it into words a bit better now. One of the reasons is that while exercising today, I listened to the full two CDs of my favorite ABB album, Live at the Filmore East. Since they played both You Don’t Love Me and Statesboro Blues (both on that album), and both were still fresh in my mind, I was able to make the connection.

Duane and Dickey essentially play symphonies, with all of the thematic variations, both solo and in duets with each other, while remaining so true and consistent with the awesome drummers and bass. Every note makes sense in the context of the song. There is also rarely any pause whatsoever. The guitar is wailing non-stop, dancing up and down the frets creating the symphony.

Warren and Derek have the technique, and the physical talent, but for whatever reason (they don’t want to duplicate the old sound on purpose, they don’t like it, they want to innovate and just jam, etc.), they miss the soul of the song (the ABB songs, not their own!). Their leads often seem to be disconnected from the actual song, other than fitting the beat. There are often long pauses as they appear to decide what they feel like playing next.

Technically, it’s all virtuoso, and they are really great guitarists, but when you listen to Duane and Dickey do it (live too, since Filmore East was recorded live!), the difference is so obvious, and magical. Do yourself a favor and listen to Statesboro Blues from that album, and hear what perfection the guitars are!

Having come last night with different expectations, I wasn’t really disappointed at all in the play of Warren and Derek. It was great, just different, and not what I would pick if I could resurrect Duane and Dickey. Since I can’t, I still thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.

On to our final chapter, Lois. While I bought two tickets to see ABB at the Beacon three years running, this was the first time Lois actually came. The first year, she offered the ticket to a friend who is a huge ABB fan, and she went with his wife to see Abigal Washburn and Bethany and Rufus at Joe’s Pub.

The second year was canceled (as noted above). This year, I offered to find someone else to go with, but she insisted that she would give it a try, and bring along her ear plugs! We had pretty good seats (13 rows back, aisle and one in, but very right orchestra).

While the ear plugs worked really well according to Lois, nothing else did. It’s really as far from her kind of music as you can imagine, plus she’s not familiar with it, so there’s no anticipation either, and, as expected, everyone in front of us stood for the entire show! I stood for all but two songs (and didn’t really mind it this time), and Lois stood for three or four songs.

Normally, the thought of standing all night is anathema to both of us. If you’ve read this space before, you’ll recall that we left the Sister Hazel concert before it started (and we really love them!), when we found out that the new Filmore at Irving Plaza is Standing Room Only (SRO). So, why didn’t it bother me last night?

Even though I stood, I had a seat! What? That means:

  1. I had my own space, which was only slightly invaded by the drunk to my right
  2. I could put my hands on the seats in front of me to shift my weight
  3. I could sit when I wanted (giving up a bit of the view), like I did for two songs
  4. I could sit for the entire 30 minute intermission, and for the 45 minutes that we were there before the show started!

Compared to standing in a wide-open room, with tons of drunk people dancing all around you, it’s simply no comparison. Lois couldn’t understand why people choose to stand. The music is more of a sway along rather than a dance along. She was surprised at how slow some of the numbers were, but of course, she didn’t know that many of the ABB hits are really blues-style rock.

I don’t intend to subject her again to this type of show, but I really did love it, all of it, and would happily go again in the future, likely with someone else. 😉

Jerry Jeff Walker at BB King

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A year ago we took seven people (plus the two of us) to see Jerry Jeff Walker at BB King’s in NYC. I wrote about that wonderful evening in this post. The stars aligned for us again this year, as we had company staying with us for the weekend, they love live music, and Jerry Jeff was back in town (celebrating his birthday with the rest of us).

This year there were six of us in total. The show started at 8:03pm.

Last year, Jerry Jeff had three exceptional musicians playing with him, Tommy Nash on the guitar, Brad Fordham on the bass, and Steve Samuel on the drums. Steve Samuel was back again, and I am reasonably sure that so was Brad Fordham (I am embarrassed that I can’t say definitively).

Unfortunately, Tommy Nash wasn’t there last night. He’s a fantastic guitarist, and I was really looking forward to hearing him again. Jerry Jeff introduced his son as the guitarist, saying that he was pressed into action, but he didn’t mention if Tommy was supposed to be there, and what happened to the regular guitarist either way.

Three of us heard Jerry Jeff introduce his son as Daniel (I would swear to that!). But, all web searches show his name to be Django Walker. I’ll come back to him in a minute, and do my normal left-to-right rundown of the musicians.

Apologies in advance for the very poor quality of the photos of the band members. The lighting plus some errors in the settings on our camera conspired against us last night…

Brad Forham played a smoking bass all night, and was the primary harmonizer with Jerry Jeff. He was excellent all night, and had great energy.

Brad Fordham

Brad Fordham

Jerry Jeff was center stage, and for a 67-year-old, has it going in every way (except for maybe hair). 😉 His guitar playing (mostly rhythm) is good, his voice is very strong (and deep), he has more energy than many teenagers, has an infectious personality, is beloved by his audience, and still puts on a great show. Basically, you want to be in whatever room Jerry Jeff is in. 🙂

Jerry Jeff Walker

Jerry Jeff Walker

Behind Jerry Jeff was Steve Samuel, the drummer (I couldn’t find a good link last year, and couldn’t find one again this year, sorry!). Steve plays the drums really well, and given the up-tempo of most of Jerry Jeff’s songs, he keeps everyone in the crowd cooking to the right beat.

Steve Samuel

Steve Samuel

Django Walker played lead guitar and sang. His guitar playing is decent, but not on par with the numerous brilliant guitarists we’ve been hearing for the past few years. That still makes him 14,237 times better than me (meaning, he’s not bad), but it also makes Tommy Nash 972 times better than Django (though Django has many years to improve before reaching Tommy’s age).

Django Walker

Django Walker

Django sang a bit of harmony (well), but he solo’ed on a verse of The Cape (a song we really love), and he was fantastic. Later, he played (and sang lead) a song of his own, Texas On My Mind. He’s really a superb singer, with great stage presence as well. If he played just rhythm guitar (like his dad), or keeps getting better at lead guitar, he will be a force in music for years to come!

They played a bunch of favorites, including one that I covered last year (Up Against the Wall Redneck Mother). This year, I was part of the crowd that yelled out So Well, So Well, So Well during each chorus as well. What a blast.

They played for 77 minutes, then left the stage. A minute later, they were back out for a 2-song encore (like last year). Unlike last year, the first song in the encore was Mr. Bojangles (one of my favorite songs). When all was said and done, they were on the stage for just about 90 minutes, so the show was a little shorter than last year, but still wonderful.

Musically, last year’s performance was better, solely due to Tommy Nash’s amazing guitar playing. But, while this crowd was just as enthusiastic, and just as big fans, they were much more respectful of everyone around them, even when they were partying hearty, and dancing in the aisles. This allowed people like us (less rowdy) to actually enjoy their sideshow, be swept up in it, but still enjoy everything that was going on on the stage as well!

I’m sure we’ll try to be there to wish Jerry Jeff a Happy Birthday next year as well! 🙂

Now for our usual background leading up to the show.

Late morning, we did something we’ve never done before. We crammed six people into our Ford Explorer (all adults). That meant that there were four very uncomfortable people in the back seat, and the two of us in the front had our seats moved way up. We headed up to the house because our guests wanted to see it, and Laura and Chris wanted to see some grass, for at least a few minutes.

We ate lunch at the local diner near the house, and then headed over. Lois and I relaxed in the house, but the four youngsters actually stayed out in the backyard for at least an hour, soaking the chilly, but gorgeous views of the Hudson River.

Youngsters Standing

Youngsters Standing

Youngsters Sitting

Youngsters Sitting

When they came inside, they all conked out for a nap (they stay up later than us old folk each night, so it’s understandable).

Youngsters Sleeping

Youngsters Sleeping

When they woke up, we headed back to the city, and then over to BB King. We had a very nice table for six about 20 feet from the stage, and had a wonderful meal. Lois and I have watched people order the giant Meat Lovers Nachos (supposedly an appetizer) every time we’ve been there, and always thought it looked great, but was too big. Last night, we decided to make it a meal for the two of us. We were not disappointed. It’s really good (Pulled Pork, Chicken, Steak, etc.).

Meat Lovers Nachos

Meat Lovers Nachos

Chris ordered the Mac ‘n Cheese. Rich is an understatement, and the rest of us had to finish it for him. Most delicious.

Mac N Cheese

Mac N Cheese

Good food + good conversation + great show = great evening! 🙂

Two Flew South

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Lois asked me to name this post Two Flew South. She had a good reason, it was clever, so I didn’t hesitate in accepting her suggestion. Let’s not make it a habit though. This is my blog, not hers, and I intend to keep it that way. Of course, all of the photos are taken by her, so we’re partners in this, as we are in everything else in life. 🙂

Vacation is not a word that Lois or I use often. Even when we have a few days where we aren’t technically working, at least Lois (less so me), is working the Treo non-stop, and thinking about work issues non-stop as well. I’m better than she is at shutting that off, but I get sucked in, since I’m with her…

We’re on a two-week road trip at the moment, which is most definitely a vacation for me. Parts of it are even a vacation for Lois, though nowhere near the level that I am enjoying it. Since the road trip is mostly southbound, and there are two of us in the car, the title Two Flew South seems appropriate. It turns out it’s not the specific inspiration for the title (that’s coming later), but that’s why it was so easy to agree on.

The trip started nearly two weeks ago when we left NY and spent the day with our friends in Leesburg. We always have such a great time with them, even though seeing the dad suffer through his cancer treatments is heartbreaking. We then spent a week working at Zope.

Leesburg Friends

Leesburg Friends

We spent last weekend with our friends in Richmond, including a fantastic Super Bowl party at another friend’s house (10 of us enjoyed the game together). I was the only one rooting for the Steelers. That said, I really like Kurt Warner a lot, and wouldn’t have minded seeing him snag the victory. That made the last quarter all-the-more exciting, since the outcome was truly in doubt. A great game all around!

Richmond Friends

Richmond Friends

Super Bowl Party 1

Super Bowl Party 1

Super Bowl Party 2

Super Bowl Party 2

At 6:50am on Monday, we were on the road, officially on vacation (there’s that word again, I’m liking it a lot). 😉

We were headed straight for Nashville. On Ocotber 29th, 2008, we saw one of our many CMA Song Writer Series shows at Joe’s Pub. While the entire show was fantastic, we both were really blown away by Hillary Lindsey, and I highlighted that fact in a post the next day. Through that post, I ended up with an email relationship with a wonderful woman who lives and works in Nashville.

Through that email relationship, we had arranged to meet for dinner on Monday night. We had never even spoken on the phone, a true e-relationship. We asked her to select the restuarant. We met at 7pm at Tin Angel. We had the most wonderful evening. She’s a fascinating person and she picked an excellent restaurant (we all loved our meals). We ended up spending nearly three hours together, and we will definitely look her up the next time we’re in Nashville, and hope she does the same when she’s in NY!

New Nashville Friend

New Nashville Friend

The next day was carved out in advance to be spent with our good friend Jack Kapanka. It was freezing all over the south, Nashville included, so we decided in advance to see the sites from Jack’s car, rather than walk around the city. Jack picked us up at our hotel, and zigged and zagged all around Nashville, telling us about every building as we passed it. I loved every second of it!

We also took a long ride in the countryside, to and through Franklin, TN, gawking at mansion after mansion (they don’t call it Mansion Hill for nothing). We had lunch at a Pub in town (I should have written down the name, because we all really enjoyed our meals!). When we left, three men were approaching us (from quite a distance). Jack immediately recognized the middle man as James Otto. As we walked by them (they were headed to a Sushi restaurant for lunch) Lois casually said “Hi”, and James said hi back, so Lois can officially say that James Otto said hi to her. 😉

One Mansion

One Mansion

We then headed for Jack’s house, catching some incredible scenery along the way (including a bridge that isn’t obviously a bridge, until you’re on it, at which point everything around you is breathtakingly beautiful.

We had met Jack in person before, but this was the first time we were meeting his family. When we got to his house, his wife and toddler twins were there (the older girls were still in school). It’s hard to describe how/why you know you’ll be life-long friends with someone the instant you meet them, but there’s no doubt that this will be the case between us and Jack’s wife.

Jack's Wife

Jack's Wife

She’s an awesome person in her own right, on every level, but she might also be the best mom we’ve ever observed. That’s saying an awful lot, considering that our Richmond friends include a number of near-perfect moms (our godchildrens’ mom heading that list!). Lois can describe it better than I can, but no matter what’s going on around her, Jack’s wife exudes a strength and calmness, that nearly instantly tames all of those around her (her kids included!).

After meeting the older girls, and hanging for a bit, Jack and I took the oldest daughter and took a tour of their home town. Jack had been telling me for a while about another resident of the town, someone he had met in his church. He really wanted us to meet, so we stopped by his house. It took me all of 10 seconds to know how wonderful this man is, and why Jack likes him so much. We chatted for 20 minutes and then headed back to Jack’s house.

Jack and Older Daughters

Jack and Older Daughters

Shortly after getting back, we took two cars and headed to dinner with the entire family. We had an excellent meal at the Applebees right near our hotel. We said goodnight and were missing all of them by the time we were up in our room. Thanks for a wonderful day to all of the Kapankas! 🙂

Jack and Twins

Jack and Twins

The baby girl does fist bumps on cue!

Fist Bumping Baby

Fist Bumping Baby

On Wednesday morning, we worked in the room a bit, catching up on a ton of emails, then hit the road again. This time, our destination was Atlanta. We got there mid-afternoon, checked into the hotel, and did a bit more work.

At 5:30pm we headed over to a friend’s house. A number of our Atlanta friends also came over and we had an extraordinary home cooked meal. We brought wine from NY, and were really afraid (sure might be a better word) that it would spoil due to the extreme temperature swings throughout the trip (it was 19 degrees that morning in Nashville and Atlanta). Amazingly, the wine tasted yummy to me (and I hope our friends agreed).

Home Made Feast

Home Made Feast

Incredible Pie

Incredible Pie

The next morning we got together with a subset of the same folks we were with the night before for an incredible breakfast at Rise-N-Dine. It’s quite unusual to have an appetizer during breakfast, but we all split three Sweet Potato Pancakes as one. Wow. They were amazing, and I knew I would love my Polish Omelette as well (and I was correct!).

We said our sad goodbyes, lamenting that this wonderful whirlwind 18 hours was ending, and we hit the road for Birmingham to visit our godson. We settled into our hotel in Birmingham, and caught up with some more work. When David called to say he was on the way home from the hospital, we were thrilled to log off and head over to see him.

After catching up for a bit in his apartment, we headed for dinner at Jim ‘N Nicks BBQ. I didn’t realize it was a chain until I just looked it up. It’s a beautiful place. The service was excellent. All that is nice, but get to the food Hadar! Man, it was unbelievable. They start you off with homemade corn muffins that are infused with cheese (subtle, but delectable) that melt in your mouth.

Feeding the Meter

Feeding the Meter

David and I both had the Pulled Pork platter, and Lois had Smoked Chicken that she raved about. We capped it off with some Starbucks and headed back to David’s to cath up on Lost. We were two episodes behind, but David was happy to watch the one he had seen already again, and then he too got to watch the new one from the night before. We’re all caught up now, and anxiously awaiting the next few episodes. The excitement is back (it never left for me, but Lois is into this season more than last year’s).

Being a first-year resident, David is one rung above an indentured slave. Today is one of his all-too-regular 30-hour calls (he leaves early in the morning for the hospital, and doesn’t return until the following afternoon!). That meant we were on own own today. We headed to his apartment after breakfast and set up our computers for more catching up (he was long gone, and yes, it’s still a vacation). 😉

Just before lunch, we headed out for a shopping spree. Being godparents, we had a severe need to populate every empty space in David’s apartment with useful things (OK, so it was really more of Lois’ maternal instincts, but I was happy to play along). We bought a bunch of stuff at Bed Bath and Beyond. Then I dropped Lois at Costco and headed to have lunch by myself.

When we were last in Birmingham, we had another of our friends along with us, Wes. During that trip, both Wes and David told us that their favorite fast-food place is Chick-Fil-A. They couldn’t believe that I had never been in one. We had an aborted attempt to have lunch from there one day (my fault). After the trip, Wes sent us a Chick-Fil-A gift card (thanks again Wes!) to ensure that we made it our business to check it out.

Amazingly, in two consecutive trips to Zope, we were unable to schedule a visit to any of the Chick-Fil-A’s, including the one that is 1/4 of a mile from our hotel! I was determined to make it to one on this trip, and this seemed to be the most opportune time.

So, I drove 1/4 of a mile from Costco and ate a #1 meal in the place. It was excellent, so I now understand why many people rave about Chick-Fil-A (since Wes and David, at least five additional friends have told me that they consider it the best fast-food place). Considering that I still have a couple more meals left on the gift card, I will be thanking Wes again (and again). 🙂

I wandered into the Costco, and was surprised that I didn’t have too much trouble finding Lois, even though she was in the diagonally opposite corner from the main entrance (a very long walk!). She was just about done, so we both were impressed with the timing of my arrival. You would not believe how much stuff she bought. Of course, you might, given that I got to drive to Chick-Fil-A, eat a meal there, and get back, before she was done shopping. 🙂

When we got back, we experienced a few weeks worth of weight-lifting exercise. There is a very steep set of stairs outside of David’s apartment complex, then two more landings inside to get to his unit. We lugged all of the booty up over the course of four or five trips. Given how cold it had been on this trip, I had forgotten that sweating was possible. In addition to the manual labor, the weather broke today, and it was 60 degrees while we were unpacking.

While I am finishing this blog, Lois is on the phone with a Zope engineer, working away (is anyone surprised?). We will relax the rest of the evening (a little late night shopping is on the current agenda, but not for David this time). We can’t wait to see David again tomorrow afternoon (or more appropriately, after his obligatory nap!).

So, what’s left to say? Just the real explanation of the title of the blog.

In addition to listening to a ton of music (live and on the iPod), Lois also reads about music a lot. When something sounds like she would like it, she makes a note. A few times a year, she emails a list to me telling me that the time has come to place a large order. Lois really prefers physical CDs, largely for the liner notes, and I prefer downloads, both because they are cheaper (typically) and immediate (always).

One of the groups that she had on her list was One Flew South. I downloaded it a while ago, but for any number of reasons, we hadn’t listened to it (or most of the others on her most recent list). During this trip, Lois fired up One Flew South. Instant love. Lois thought there were nine voices (the harmonies are so rich), but it turns out that it’s only three guys.

Lois usually zones in on a handful of songs on a CD and she plays them over-and-over, to the exclusion of the others. This happened on this CD as well, and the ones that sang to her, have been listened to more than I would care to admit.

So, after hearing them for the umpteenth time, Lois said, “When you blog, please title it Two Flew South“, and it was so. 🙂

One more week to go on this road trip, and I intend to savor every single moment!

Sister Hazel at Fillmore NYC

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We own two Sister Hazel CDs. In the pre-iPod days, Lois used to bring 20-30 CDs along whenever we took long drives. One or both of the Sister Hazel CDs made it into that pile nearly every time.

In the last few years, even though Sister Hazel is on our iPod, they didn’t get much play. A few months ago, Lois played them, and we fell in love all over again. That made me look to see whether they were touring, and indeed, they had a concert scheduled for NYC last night (December 13th).

It was at the new Fillmore at Irving Plaza, a venue we had never been to. Pretty close to our apartment. I wasn’t crazy about the 9pm start time (we’re old) but we were reasonably excited nonetheless.

We rarely purchase tickets for a show unless the seats are reasonably good, it’s first come first served (so we can line up early), or it’s Girlyman. 😉

The Fillmore is either owned, or exclusively run, by Live Nation. When I purchased the tickets, they were Row 9, Seats 31 and 32. Sounded reasonably good, so we were happy.

We drove from the house to the apartment and spent the day there. At 8pm, we headed to the Fillmore. When we walked in, we were completely disoriented. No seats at all. Everyone standing up (scrunched in near the stage), in a cavernous room with a big screen showing videos covering the stage. A bar in the back. A very young crowd, looking for a great show, but also a ton of drinking and dancing.

So not our scene I can’t even tell you. We asked a few people where the seats were (I honestly thought this might be a staging area, before the concert started. A few people pointed us up to the balcony. There were some small round tables with bar stools, but more people were standing up there.

We went downstairs to the main entrance and asked about the seats. We were told that it was a standing up show, general admission. When the manager came out, he showed us on the tickets that it said Section GA, which we were supposed to understand meant Section General Admission. Huh? GA, but with an assigned Row and Seat?

He said that the row and seat were purely for accounting purposes. Wow, how nice of them to account for where I might have been seated.

Lois asked for a refund, and he refused. After a bit of arguing back-and-forth, he said that he would do what he could, but that I would have to take care of it back on the website that we originally ordered the tickets from. He took down some information from me and said he would submit the info on his side to make the transaction smoother for me.

I’m very skeptical as to whether we’ll get our money back, but we were glad to leave anyway, even if we lose our money. There were two opening acts, so Sister Hazel wasn’t going to be on stage before 10pm, likely between 10:30 and 11pm! That meant that we could be standing until 1am or later.

It simply wasn’t going to happen. As a bonus, instead of spending the night in the apartment and returning to the house in the morning, we hopped a bus back to the apartment, grabbed our stuff, and were home by 10pm. At least the evening ended smoothly…