Thursday, December 30, 2010

It Takes A Village

Greetings friends! Hope this finds you well and surviving the holidays (whoa oh, we're halfway there!) And for those who got slammed with the snow, hope you've been able to entertain yourself while holed-up in your house/apartment/whatever. I DO believe it was for times like these that YouTube was created! LOL

Anyhoo, I wasn't planning on posting until after the new year, but this blog is mostly about my trials, tribulations and triumphs while following around my favorite musicians. So, I couldn't neglect sharing the "fun" that was my day yesterday.

For some reason, I have never seen Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes at The Birchmere in Alexandria, VA regardless of the fact that it is literally five minutes from my old apartment (I spent a year and a half commuting back and forth -- working at our firm's DC office during the week and spending the weekends back in NYC.)

I decided the time had come, so off I went to our nation's capitol.

Well, due to getting dumped on at work (what?! like getting dumped on by Mother Nature wasn't enough?!) I ended up not being able to leave for the show until the same day. No problem though - I've taken the bus ($30 round-trip!!) a zillion times without issue. Well, not this time. *rolls eyes*

The bus was late leaving. Then it took nearly 45 minutes to get out of NYC. Then there was a ton of traffic on the reduced speed NJ Turnpike. Then we get to the last toll in NJ just before you go over the Delaware Memorial Bridge. It was at that time, everything stopped. The road had become a parking lot. As the minutes ticked away, I kept looking at my watch and freaking out. We had managed to go 0.25 miles in 1.5 hours. This was NOT looking good.

I found myself reaching out to the internet via my Crackberry ... and through the wonder of Twitter and Facebook I attempted to keep some semblance of sanity (a preemptive SHUT UP to those who would insert a comment here. LOL)

Ultimately, a 4.5 hour bus ride became an 8-hour marathon. Ugh. But, I appreciate the dozens of tweets and fb posts from my wonderful (yet slightly wacky) friends. As a dear friend said, "it was like tracking Santa on Christmas Eve!" LOL

So...I'd like to say a few special thank yous:

- to @jeanie_ann for sending real-time point-to-point travel estimates via the I-95 website (" where are you now?")

- to @zoe211 for consistently sending me positive vibes/tweets/texts for hours and hours *muah*

- even to @jeffkazee regardless of his later admission that he was quite amused by my increasing level of angst (ummm...thanks a bunch for your support...I think)

But "good guy of the night" definitely goes to drummer Tom "Goose" Seguso who chivalrously offered to feign illness in an effort to delay the start of the show. Thanks Tom, you ROCK!

Now, as for the show!

I can see why the band (and many other artists for that matter) include The Birchmere in their list of favorite venues. There is definitely a warmth and intimacy to the place, even though it holds A LOT of people. And the place was PACKED ... totally sold out. (Yay Jukes!) After an "interesting/slightly frightening" cab ride from Union Station, I arrived at 8:29pm (literally only a minute to spare!) and totally lucked out to find a single seat at a table maybe 20 feet from the stage on the keyboard side.

The great thing about a Jukes show is that you'll never get the same thing twice. And I mean NEVER. There were so many great moments during the show last night that I wish I had filmed the whole thing.

Every band frontman needs a sidekick (for lack of a better word) to bounce things off of both musically and in terms of stage banter. And the repartee between Johnny and Kazee is one of the best around. Whether it's Jeff vs Johnny debating the value/spirit/wonder of Christmas or Jeff cheekily informing Johnny that after he brilliantly improvised a version of "Hold on William Searington" that the fan had actually requested "All I Want is Everything." Priceless!

On top of all the laughs was, of course, great music. The new material from "Pills and Ammo" continues to simply astound. I think it was one of the best versions of Cross That Line I'd heard yet ... and I've heard a few. I was delighted to hear When Rita Leaves, which was eventually played after the first attempt morphed into a fantastic cover of Ben E. King's Spanish Harlem. Making the whole transportation ordeal worth it was a breathtakingly soulful 2nd verse of my favorite song (Lost) sung by Mr. Kazee.

Due to where I was in the hall, I didn't feel quite as connected to the horn section as I usually do ... yes, when it comes to the Jukes, location is everything. Nonetheless, as usual, the guys played and "danced" with joy befitting the season and bari sax god Eddie Manion was incredible on Unchain My Heart.

After a good 2.5 hours, the night sadly came to an end ... but with an incredible performance of Hearts of Stone that left everybody in awe and wanting more. *sigh*

Luckily, I don't have to go thru too much withdrawal ... for Friday we ring in 2011 at the Count Basie in Red Bank, NJ. I can't wait to see what magic we get tomorrow.

So, wishing you all a happy and healthy, music-filled new year.

Note: By the way, the SSJ photos in this post are by the fantastic Jerry Frishman. Isn't that black and white one of Johnny absolutely GORGEOUS?! You can visit his website to see more of his work. :-)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

Greetings, friends. Just wanted to do a quick post to wish all of you a happy holiday season. Thanks for reading my babbling throughout the year, it's MUCH appreciated. Peace and love to you!

... and, it just wouldn't be Christmas without this video ... *sigh*

"See" you in 2011.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sound Familiar...?

Happy Monday y'all. Ugh.

So ... there are a few web pages I visit every morning as soon as I get to the office (oh, I mean, as soon as I wake up....right...that's it!)

Besides CNN, the NY Times and the ultimate news source, Facebook (!), I always, ALWAYS check in on the Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes site.

And one of the highlights is reading a new Question of the Week answered by Johnny himself. He is really quite good at penning some really funny stuff on a regular basis. (I'll post a few excerpts below...)

Anyhoo, this week's question was this...

... are there songs in the Jukes repertoire/back catalogue that you just can't bear to sing 'again'?
JC - Abu Dhabi

Man, what is you doin' in Abu Dhabi? Catching a ferocious tan? Building some serious skyscrapers? Or just looking for some surf? Yes. mon ami, there are times I get tired of songs. But you know what? Then I just stop doing them for a while. But even when I think I can't do some tune no more, the band starts it and the crowd responds and away we go. Ya see; a large part of a Jukes show is the audience. Sounds corny, but when we get great feedback from you peoples, we immediately perk up and want to play and enjoy. We never go thru the motions. Even when the crowd is not with us, we get angry and try to kick ass to prove ourselves. That's what makes a Juke. Me included. It's cause our parents hated us and beat us and... no... we just like to play. You know, like real musicians. That's us.

Reading Southside's response, I couldn't help but think...and THAT is where Jon Bon Jovi comes from. Sure, there are nights that all you can muster isn't quite as much as you'd like. But, you go out there - you work hard - you let the crowd help drive you - as Jon would say, you try to "win the night." Being fans, we see the ups and downs from show to show and I think that makes us appreciate our favorite bands that much more.

In truth though, isn't that how we all basically live our lives? You do the best you can at any given moment. Sometimes it's great. Sometimes not so much. Sometimes life kicks you in the ass. Sometimes you kick it right back. :-)

Okay ... enough with the philosphical blah blah blah ... here are a few fun excerpts for your reading pleasure ...

a Miss Bongiovanni reference while talking about the "joy" of tour travel ...

We few, we stalwart, we brave, we....JUKES! The bread truck is a rite of passage for new Jukes and an old friend to the vets. Many many card games and movies and naps and pee stops and lunches on the M1. But we try to keep the trips short. If we could afford a big, shiny tour bus, we would all be spoiled like the Bon Jovians and demand bee pollen and Remy Martin backstage, and where would that get us? Happy? Content? Well rested? No No No; such is not the stuff of Jukedom. We must have angst and anger and fatigue to take on stage and fuel our mission. Would the Crusaders have taken Jerusalem if they crossed Europe on a tour bus? Would Hannibal have gotten over the Alps? (Maybe, but I doubt them elly-phumps woulda fit into a busbunk. And who's gonna shovel? Eddy? I don't think so.) No, riches and luxury are not our fate. We are the warriors of the road, and take pride in our bruises... Shootmeshootmeshootmeshootmeshootme!!!!!!!!! Shootmeshootmeshootmeshootmeshootme!!!!!!!!!

...and from Johnny's most recent "Jive" (these come less frequently but are equally amusing...)

The new CD is going to be available soon. When, exactly? How the f*&%k would I know. I'm the LEAD SINGER! You know; the one who stares off into space between verses and has to be told when to go on stage and when to get off, and when to comb his hair and what town we're in and what his name is? That guy. That's me. And I do a damn fine job, too. Basta. ...

...We are having a release party just about everywhere the law will let us. June 5th at BB's in NYC is for the press and radio and dead sea slugs. Prizes will be given for those who can tell the difference. You can come, but you have to wear a fedora with a press card stuck in it. Or just act obnoxious. That'll do it. ...


Gotta love that! Now, wouldn't it be great if JBJ took a cue from his idol and wrote something for the BJ site every week? #justsaying

Speaking of Idol ... be sure to check out Crystal Bowersox's debut album "Farmer's Daughter" (out tomorrow) ... I never watched the show so I really didn't know anything about her. But, my musical spirit guide is playing on it and he has never steered me wrong (well, maybe once or twice but I think he was trying to get me "Lost." hehe ... bad pun ... it's Monday ... gimme a break.)

p.s. SSJ pics by Linda T (I think) or maybe Tisha/Tasha ... not sure, but they rock! :)

p.s.2. ...added later...just got my copy (signed and everything!) of Farmer's Daughter ... loading it into iTunes right now. :-)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Happy Birthday Johnny!

You know how us JoviPeeps always say "blame Jon"? Well, in the case of today's topic it is the absolute truth.

I discovered Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes solely because of Jon Bon Jovi. They always say look at the influences of the artists you like/respect/admire. So I did. And I found a band and a music that spoke to my heart and soul more than any other ... maybe even more than Bon Jovi, itself.

So today we honor the complicated, cranky, intellectual, sensitive, cynically optimistic man that fearlessly leads that gang of magnificent misfits (himself included.) (Oh, and the fact is, I think he's in truth a really kind-hearted, mushy, sentimental guy. But, I won't tell anyone Johnny. Promise.)

Southside probably wouldn't want a party (regardless of the song) ... he'd most likely prefer to be reading a book somewhere quiet or going out in search of rare birds. But, that doesn't have to stop me from celebrating. :-)

Here's a little video tribute to the LEAD SINGER ... (I'll try to be reasonable in the number of videos but there are just so many good songs, it's very hard to choose #justsaying)

...well, this could explain a lot... ("My Parents are Strange")

...perfection...on so many levels... of my great memories from this last trip to Europe... *sigh*

*yeah, and that would be my head in the first few seconds of the video. LOL*

ok, I won't lie...THIS was my greatest memory from the trip... :)

Anyhoo, an all-time favorite song (along with about 30 others!)

...and because it just never gets old...

So, thank you JBJ ... I will be eternally grateful. :-)

To Southside Johnny ... raise a glass to the comrades we've lost and may you enjoy your birthday in a place where you can't be found. See you at The Birchmere.

P.S. Wanna give a gift to Johnny? Go and vote for the Jukes by visiting THIS SITE.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Concert Spotlight: MSG 2005

So, I was sitting here crunching numbers on the big-a$$ JoviSpreadsheet trying to figure out what the heck I'm going to do about tickets for MSG3 when I started down memory lane.

Living in "the greatest city in the universe" (hey, Jon said that, not me. But at least that time he didn't lie! LOL) I am blessed to be within spitting distance (ewww) of one of the greatest venues in the history of mankind. (is that too over-the-top?)

I can't even count how many events I've seen at Madison Square Garden - well, except the number of Knicks games - that would be ONE. I'm just not a professional basketball fan. But anyhoo, I've been to a ton -- from hockey games and lacrosse and tennis matches to concerts by among others Elton John, Billy Joel (both separately and together), Springsteen, Neil Diamond (hey! don't knock him--he's a GREAT performer!) and of course, the Bon Jovi boys.

I think I've been to every MSG JoviShow ... and there's been some great ones. But, one stands out above all others. And the memory of that single show is what drives me to look at that spreadsheet just a little closer.

You know the one I'm talking about.

The legendary one.

The epic one.

HAND tour night 2.

I got out of that show and walked back to my friend's apartment on 23rd and 1st in near-record time. He lived in a fifth floor walk-up and I literally flew up the stairs. I remember calling my mom and telling her it was the best Bon Jovi show I had ever seen -- to which she replied "you've said that about the last 60-some Bon Jovi shows you've seen." LOL

But, this was no lie. The crowd was amazing, often drowning out the band completely. The band was on fire - every one of them. It was the night Richie sliced his thumb open...

...and Jon Bon Jovi worked himself past the point of exhaustion.

There were two encore sets.

There was a "Living on a Prayer" so loud that the floor shook.

There was a "Treat Her Right" that has never EVER been matched ...

*and look...solos by Bobby Bandiera and Jeff Kazee (go Jukes!)* :-)

I've seen dozens of shows since that one. Some truly wonderful ones. But nothing has ever rivalled those three hours in Madison Square Garden. Period.

So...okay...back to the spreadsheet I go.

Checking circulars. Maybe ramen noodles are on sale this week? LOL

P.S. And, hey! Speaking of my beloved Asbury Jukes, please visit Little Steven's website and vote for "the coolest song in the world of 2010." (Now, I won't tell you which to vote for, but I personally like the one that rhymes with "floss that whine" #justsaying.)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Being thankful...

*warning! mushy post alert!*

Greetings friends! Well, tomorrow is Thanksgiving...probably my favorite holiday. In my family, we had so many traditions when it came to this holiday -- from homemade sweet, hot cinnamon rolls in the morning while watching the Macy's Parade to my dad making his famous cranberry-orange relish to my brother and I fighting over the last of the green bean casserole...oh, and me always getting in trouble for sneaking turkey under the table to the cat. ;-)

But, living in NYC, traditions have changed slightly. I still watch the Macy's Parade...but often in person (like tomorrow...yay to MEMPHIS who will be featured around 9am!) And sadly, my dad is no longer with us to make the relish ... oh, but I do still sneak turkey to the cat. LOL

One thing that hasn't changed over the years, however, is the reminder for me to be thankful...for my friends, my family (complicated as that is) and without a doubt ... for music. In my opinion, music truly is the universal language and the ultimate healer. It can get us thru good times and bad times. It can bring us together regardless of geography or religion. It can remind us of people and places in our past. And it's the reason we continue to make new memories.

So, thank you to...

Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, for their uncanny ability to get me out of whatever cranky-ass mood I'm in...

and my beloved Jon Bon Jovi and his band of brothers, for reminding me to always take life by the horns--work hard, play hard and never give up...

And, since Thanksgiving is the official start to the Christmas season (despite the 11 times Kazee has already heard that Mariah Carey song LOL), here is a fun little ditty/video from the Jukes' Neal Pawley and his cohort in crime Thomas Foyer (aka 11 Acorn Lane)...

So, regardless of whether you live in the States and celebrate the holiday or not, it's never a bad day to just stop and say thanks.

p.s. ...and that includes saying thanks to all of you who continue to read my crazy ramblings, send me pictures/videos/comments/etc. and put a smile on my face. See y'all on the road somewhere. :-)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Greatest New Venue? it possible that the best new venue could be a parking lot? Haha.

I think I should just hang out in the parking lot at the new Giants Stadium (ok, NMS ... whatever.) First, the Bon Jovi boys open the joint on an absolutely GORGEOUS day (thanks L, for bringing the coffee :-) ...

*video by my twitterpal @mezjovi

...and then last Sunday (when the Giants were painfully slapped around by the Cowboys, UGH!) Southside Johnny and his gang played the pre-game for the second time this season ...

p.s. you might not know, but the power went out in the middle of the game -- there is something about Jukes and Jovi and blowing out the electric -- Jovi did it there at the opening show in May and the Jukes blew out the power in the town on Leicester during their EuroTour. :-) With Jon Bon Jovi and the Jukes BOTH at the stadium, it was bound to happen, right?!

Well, that's all for now folks. Working hard, paying for tickets for "that damn band" ... (y'all saw they added a THIRD MSG show right? Note to Jon Bon Jovi: I'm running out of body parts! LOL)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

STILL Smiling...

Well, it's been over 12 hours since the end of the Best Buy Theatre show and I'm still smiling. :-)

Ya know ... every time I want to slap myself silly for spending an obscene amount of money on "that damn band", they put on a show that reminds me EXACTLY why I spend an obscene amount of money on "that damn band." LOL

What an incredible night! From the moment the band took the stage and Jon started "Not Fade Away" ...

I heard him do this ONCE ... years and years ago at one of the solo shows. Just blew me away. :-)

We don't often have General Admission in the States, but I'm always glad when we do. I was able to get a spot basically between Jon and David in the 2nd/3rd ish row. Ironically, growing up, I hated being the tall girl. Now, I thank my dad at every JoviShow that I'm 5'10". LOL

The set list was what I expected ... similar to Letterman but an extra few songs. But, the energy was completely different than the night before. The stage was pretty bare EXCEPT for this absolutely awesome huge gold heart and dagger at the back that would look lovely in my apartment (though I'd have to knock a big hole in the ceiling. Haha.)

And Jon Bon Jovi is no dummy. He had to know that standing at the mic in the middle of the stage that it would appear as if the wings were coming out from behind him like an angel. Art imitating life? LOL I'll post a couple of the pictures my friend B got a bit later ... serious angel-action going on. :-)

But honestly, it was a great show. Nice of Jon to mention MEMPHIS which plays 6 days a week just a few doors down the street. He also talked about the band opening what was then the Nokia Theatre ... that was a good show too by the way, launch of the HAND album. Seems like forever ago now!

And I loved when Jon messed up the words and totally rolled his eyes. The slip was barely noticeable, but his reaction was adorable. And, man, did he ever jump around and dance. He said he wasn't supposed to get sweaty last night ... yeah right, okay.

After the show, a few of us JoviGirls went out for dinner and margaritas (emphasis on the Texas-sized margaritas! Hehe.) It was a fantastic end to an incredible evening. There is nothing like celebrating the true friendships that have been created because of this band. I have met some of the most incredible ladies (and a few gentlemen too) over the years. Definitely makes up for some of the bad moments we've all experienced in the world of fandom.

So, there it is. One fabulously wild night. Up next? The Today Show ... hope my body can make it through. Ugh.

P.S. A HUGE THANK YOU (once again) to Backstage with Jon Bon Jovi for offering fan club members tickets to this! $50 for 2nd row - can't beat that!! Matt, Rob et al ... MUCH appreciated!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Mid-Week Recap

Greetings JoviNuts! Well, we're halfway there (yeah, go ahead ... sing the rest of the line) thru record release week of the Bon Jovi Greatest Hits (TWO! as they made sure to point out last night. haha) festivities. I actually finally ordered mine today ... sorry I'm late Jonny, but no worries -- it still will count for units sold during release week. :-)

Standby for Status
So, a couple of my crazy German girls arrived on Sunday and we all went together to watch the "One Night Only" movie at 42nd Street Times Square on Monday. A bit of a wacky night. They actually couldn't get the damn thing to play! Surprisingly, there were only about 30 people or so in the theater ... a good portion of which were JoviStaff and crew, including among others, the mighty (and always kind) Paul Korzilius, the unstoppable Scott Casey and the guy we affectionately refer to simply as "Trainer." They were all great in hanging out and chatting while AMC tried to figure out what to do. It took nearly an hour, a theater change and a couple of mis-starts before we were able to actually view the movie. Hey, but we did get free soda and movie passes out of the ordeal! LOL

As for the movie itself, it was nice to re-live some of those great moments from the Giants shows in May. (No, I still will not call it New Meadowlands Stadium. So there!) I thought the tracking was actually much better than the MSG dvd in terms of songflow. And, yes, it was alright that they chose not to include Who Says You Can't Go Home. ;-) Not shocked they didn't include Runaway from the first night when the sound cut out, but would have loved to see that ... one of my great memories is when the crowd took over and just kept going.

Seeing Bon Jovi perform (even on film) reminds me of why I really do love this band. They can deliver a song. Period. For example, When We Were Beautiful ... on the record, didn't quite love it. But, Jon's vocal performance of it is consistently amazing. It actually became one of the songs I looked forward to each night I saw them on the last leg of the tour.

All-in-all, I enjoyed the movie and hey, got to see a show and not have my feet hurt at the end. Haha. And my commute home was like 5 minutes (I live on 43rd Street.) I did think it was too short ... and I wish they would have kept in more of Jon's comments between the songs (even if we could all recite it verbatim. LOL) I was disappointed to hear, though, that they don't plan on releasing this on DVD. I think it would be a great addition to our collections.

"The New Fab Four"
I know many of you were able to catch the Letterman webcast show last night. Thanks for all the texts and tweets of BigAppleJovi sightings (... ahh, the green shirt was a hit!) Even though the entry was ridiculous and the later people showed up, the better seats they got (ugh) it was a really fun experience. I'm not one of those people who just has to be in the first row (ok, for the Jukes yes) ... I just want to be able to look Jon in the eye. Really ... one look and a big smile from Jon and I'm toast. Still, after all these years. Haha.

For those who asked about Jon wearing a scarf ... it was quite chilly in there and it was smart of him to keep his throat warm. I wore a scarf too for that matter. LOL The place did certainly warm up though as the band played. And it was great to see them all so relaxed and having fun (especially "fearless leader.") Highlight was definitely the whole "Beatles bow" thing ... first Jon commented about playing there and the great history of the Ed Sullivan Theatre. Then he had Richie join him for a bow. And, best was at the end when Tico was able to climb down from the drum riser and do the bow with them. Very cute. (Also funny was when Jon nearly got ran over by one of the camera guys ... the look on his face was priceless!)

As expected, it was about an hour show with many of the hits we know and love. I even sang along and did the arm calisthenics during Who Says haha ... no, that wasn't me that Jon was making fun of during that song. I didn't expect Keep the Faith so that was a nice surprise. And Prayer wasn't on the original setlist so I'm glad they came back and did that. I truly think Jon was "just getting warmed up now" and would have been happy to play a few more songs, but alack and alas I will have to wait until tonight.

So, up next is the Best Buy show. Yet another teaser -- I think it's only 90 minutes. Ahh, but for $50 you can't beat that. Don't even ask how much I just spent on MSG tickets ... lordy! One slightly used, bruised kidney available for immediate purchase! :-)

P.S. Forgot to mention that Richie's mom was the next row over from me. She was standing and singing and dancing the whole time. It was great to see her and she's always so gracious with fans. Thanks, Mrs. Sambora!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Ahhh...Record Release Week

Happy Monday!! Ok...normally, I would not be so enthused about the start of the week, but this isn't just any week is it? It's Bon Jovi record release week! :-)

Now admittedly, it's not like we're getting anything particularly new with this release - for it is a Greatest Hits compliation and a few songs that we've all already heard via planned "leaks" by et al.'s always an exciting time. And an exhausting one too. Blame Jon Bon Jovi. My schedule for the next few days:

Monday - "One Night Only" at AMC 42nd Street with my JoviGirls
Tuesday - Letterman webcast show from the Ed Sullivan Theatre (a huge thank you to Backstage with Jon Bon Jovi, Matt and Rob for getting us in!!)
Wednesday - the Best Buy (aka Nokia) Theater show
Friday - Today Show (ugh, early morning)

So, stay tuned for recaps of these events. I'll be tweeting from Letterman if possible ... you can follow me at BigAppleJovi on Twitter. :)

It feels good to be back in JoviMode as I have been in serious JukesMode for the past couple of months.

Speaking of Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, I took a quick trip up to Niagara Falls to catch their show at the Seneca Casino on Friday. Ok, quick would not be the most accurate word ... not even close! Nine hours each way on the train (hell, in that amount of time I could have flown back to EUROPE!)

In any case, it was worth every minute. There is nothing like seeing one of your favorite bands when they are firing on all cylinders. And that's what we got on Friday. Welcoming back bass player extraordinaire John Conte (you JoviNuts might remember that he played the Starland show) it was just one of those nights when all the pieces fit in place ... including some classic funny happenings on stage (flying sneakers, flying money, flying mic stands.) Also bought my 19th (to the best of my recollection) copy of Pills & Ammo ... I swear I am single-handedly putting their kids thru college. ROFLMAO

But seriously people, if you love good music and want to have a great time, simply go to a Jukes show. (that picture of Southside is one of my all-time faves ... courtesy of Tisha ... I mean, Tasha LOL! ... I think??)

And, if you have never been up to see Niagara Falls, I highly recommend it! I will admit, at first I was thinking "it's just water, right? How exciting could it be?" WRONG! It was breath-taking. Wish I would have had more time there.

...the rapids...

...both Falls (American, close and Horseshoe, far right)... view while having a cup of coffee...(that's a whole lotta water going on!)

I did take a walk across the border to Canada for breakfast and some great shots of the Horseshoe Falls but those are on the SD card I forgot at home. *duh* Anyhoo, it was a fabulous mini-vacation.

Okay folks...that's all for now. Til tomorrow. As Obie would say, "Rocketh On!"

P.S. The JoviEuroTour itinerary is set! It's gonna be Denmark, Scotland, England and Ireland. Can't wait to see Dublin! :)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Jukes EuroTour Wrap-Up

Greetings friends ... hope this finds you all well.

So ... I never really finished my Europe trip did I?

Well, I'm going to do that now ... whether you want to hear about it or not! LOL

The last post talked a bit about our day in Bremen. I was so excited to have the opportunity to visit one of my best friend's home cities ... and what a blast we had!

One of our first stops was the cathedral (or "Bremer Dom") in the middle of the city. As an American, it's always amazing to explore places with such an incredibly long history. I live in such a young country. The cathedral was originally built in 805 I think and then restored after the war ... it's hard to even fathom how old that is! Imagine the stories those walls could tell!

We spent some time just walking around and decompressing a bit. We listened to the organ and lit a candle for a couple of dear people we'd lost. A very soothing and reflective visit. Just what we needed.

Just outside the cathedral I had my first glimpse of the Freimarkt festival. But first we had to get a picture with the "Town Musicians of Bremen" statue (based on the Brothers Grimm folktale.) Supposedly, touching the hooves will bring you good luck -- and being a musician myself, and having so many friends who are also musicians, I held on for dear life knowing we could use all the luck we could get!

We then stopped to listen to the Bremen Glockenspiel ... a system of porcelain bells strung between two roofs. Watch the rotating wooden panels that depict the "Conquerors of the Ocean". You can read all about it here ... it was VERY cool!! I could have stood there for hours.

By that point, it was definitely time to stop for a pretzel and some beer!

After that we headed to Schnoor -- the oldest part of Bremen. I absolutely loved it there ... all these tiny little streets and buildings, shops and cafes. Its exactly what I pictured "old Europe" to be ...

I was SO HAPPY that our friend Iris was able to take the train in to visit!! We have 'known' eachother online for quite some time but finally got to see eachother IN PERSON (here we are, with Rike in the middle.) :-)

We then headed over to the BIG Freimarkt celebration ... oh lordy!!!

So, I learned a couple of universal laws on this trip. First: that firemen in their gear in any country are sexy -- met an awfully nice-looking lot in Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. Haha. And, second: no matter where you are, festival food is not healthy ... but tastes darn good! Here's how we tried to justify things ...

A Schaumkuss: this MUST be good for you ... it's just egg whites (dipped in chocolate) ... light and fluffy! Yumm!

And, its important to have protein right? So, how about some bratwurst!?

AND!! Did you know that beer has a ton of Vitamin B in it?! See?! Healthy!!

We really did have a fabulous time at the festival. Our trip to the biergarten is a story for another time ... oh ... and me trying to get these damn frogs onto the lilypads in this game ... oh the videos ... the girls have blackmail material for YEARS to come! Suffice it to say, it's not pretty when a type-A personality is taking on flying rubber frogs! LOL

Now, keeping in mind that all us girls met eachother because of our love of all (ok...most) things Jovi, we had to get this picture ...

...and look! We were even checking out venues they should play in Bremen! Jon Bon Jovi, you can play here.

I was sad to leave Bremen, but we still had one more Southside Johnny show before I had to fly back to NYC.

So, the next day (after I cleaned the city out of the new BJ 4-track maxi single with "What Do You Got?"...we don't do singles here in the States), we headed BACK to Holland on the bus. By the way, what is it with the Netherlands and rain?! LOL

My final show on this little excursion was in Groningen. In a recent interview, Johnny called this show "a disaster". Ok, it was definitely one of the rougher nights. The venue, though attractive, was absolutely atrocious in terms of sound. I was 10 feet away and couldn't hear Johnny at all. Tom was pounding his heart out on the drums and we couldn't hear him. All I heard was bass. It's frustrating to play in those conditions, even potentially dangerous from an over-playing standpoint. Add to that, there was the sadness many were feeling about the sudden passing of former Jukes drummer Louie Appel...Johnny's a cappella performance for him of "My Mother's Eyes" took our breath away.

I was happy, however, to hear them do "Lead Me On" which is hands-down my favorite track from Pills & Ammo -- but I really missed JK's harmonies on it. I sang them myself, not that anybody could hear me in that place! (Oh, and if you don't own Pills & Ammo by now, what is your problem!? I've been talking about it for MONTHS! LOL)

The crowd was really into it ... but I'm not sure the band could feel that given the "wet blanket" acoustics of the hall. I give those guys a lot of credit for forging ahead. And for the record, it wasn't me who yelled out a request for "Soul's on Fire" ... but I fully support it! :-)

So, that was it. Four nights. Four different cities. Three Southside shows. Countless laughs. And a few sad sighs. A helluva way to spend a long weekend.

It was great to meet so many friends I've only known online ... see you all in June 2011 when I'm back for UK JoviChaos. Hugs all around!!

P.S. If you missed any of the other posts, here are the links: Amsterdam, on our way to Melle, the show in Melle and a Bremen preview.

P.S.2. So, what's next? Well, we've got the "One Night Only" JoviMovie thing on Monday, the Best Buy show on Wednesday and the (ugh, I really hate early mornings) Today Show on Friday. But up first, a trip to Niagara Falls to see the Jukes...and the wheels keep on turning! :-)

Friday, October 29, 2010

You're Fooling Yourself...

Get up, get back on your feet.
You're the one they can't beat and you know it.
Come on, let's see what you've got.
Just take your best shot and don't blow it.
--from Styx "The Grand Illusion" album (1977)
So, taking yet another break from writing my SSJ travelogue (I promise I will wrap up that trip at some point) I took time to go down memory lane a bit last night.

Like Bon Jovi, Styx is one of those bands people call "a guilty pleasure" but not me. I just call it a pleasure. Period. I grew up on their music -- lots of memories of roller-skating parties, sleepovers and sneaking beer with my friends. Years later, a kick-ass version (if I do say so myself) of their "Come Sail Away" got me out of piano proficiency at Juilliard. No joke!

We have so many amazing venues in NYC, it's quite remarkable. Actually, the last time I saw Styx was at another landmark place, Radio City Music Hall. *sigh* Anyhoo, this was my first show at the newly restored Beacon Theatre. And it looks absolutely gorgeous. If you ever have the opportunity to go to an event there, do it! For some reason, I can't get my picture of the ceiling to post correctly, but trust me ... it's amazing.

The band's current tour is called The Grand Illusion/Pieces of Eight because they are literally doing both of those records in their entirety, just as they were released on vinyl in 1977 and 1978, respectively. Of course, that takes the spontaneity out of it a bit, as you know what the set list is. But that definitely doesn't detract from the great tunes.

For example, long before Jon Bon Jovi saw a documentary about DHL pulling out of Ohio, there was a truly rocking working man song. Isn't it amazing how some things just don't change?! "Give me a job, give me security. Give me a chance to survive. I'm just a poor soul in the unemployment line. My God I'm hardly alive..."

If you don't know the song, here's a clip with the original line-up. (I do miss Dennis DeYoung, I must say. But, it was a treat to have original bassist Chuck Panozzo join them on stage for a few songs!)

And, talk about the original song about being wanted dead or alive, you can't deny the absolutely powerful vocals of Tommy Shaw on "Renegade". That song never gets old. I was super-excited that my seat was about 20 feet from Tommy's mic stand. I've always liked him, both in Styx and Damn Yankees (the band ... not the Broadway musical. LOL)

All-in-all it was a fun show. Given the structure, I didn't get to hear some of my other fave songs like Lady, Lorelei, Best of Times and Crystal Ball -- though I was happy that one of the encore songs was Too Much Time on My Hands. That's always a crowd-pleaser.

And, as for the "guilty pleasure" thing and whether you like them or not ... whatever. I like a LOT of different stuff -- whether it be Shostakovich or Bon Jovi , Southside Johnny or the Dixie Chicks, The Doors or Billy Joel. Like I tweeted last night, if I actually cared what people thought of my musical choices, I certainly never would have played bassoon. #justsaying ;-)

p.s. oh yeah, and on the JoviFront ... apparently we can see where my priorities are as I have my European tour mapped out already but haven't even started packing my apartment (and I move on Sunday! LOL) By the way, looks like it will be Edinburgh, London and the two Dublin shows for me this time. Woohoo!!

ohhh...and p.s.2. The frickin' power went out at the Jukes final show in the UK last night. The band did an acoustic set for the crowd (until it was shut down by the fire marshall.) Damn, sounds like it was incredible! Argh. Next year, doing the WHOLE Jukes Eurotour!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Power and Poise...A Striking Combination

I take a break from my regularly scheduled Bon Jovi/Southside Johnny tour chaos ramblings to say a few words about another great musician...and even greater person.
So ... it may be a rainy, dreary day in New York City today but the sun was certainly shining last night in The Living Room on the Lower East Side. It was another fabulous evening with the talented, generous and kind violinist/singer/songwriter Lorenza Ponce.

This gig was the first opportunity I've had to hear her with her new band and ... wow!

Now, don't get me wrong, I liked her previous gang ... heck, one of my all-time favorite people played in it ... but, this new group of young, rocking musicians truly brings a special spark to the music. It's a much smaller group and you really felt the musical connection from person to person.

As I said to Lorenza after the show, there was a different kind of intensity to the songs ... and a feeling of flexibility and freedom that really captivated the room. A certain amount of that comes from the opportunity to work consistently with a group of musicians. There is a synergy that develops ... a trust that grows. It is called a band, afterall (def: a company of people coming together having a common purpose).

And that comfortability (yes, I know there is a debate on whether or not that is actually a word!) often leads to a situation where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. I definitely felt a sense of that last night.

Here's what they played ...

Daddy's Baby
Baby Please Don't Go
Soul Shifter
Let It Down
Casual Girl
What Happened to You?

I hadn't heard "Daddy's Baby" live before so that was a real treat. On the album, the song took a while to grow on me but having now heard it in performance, I'm sold.

The new arrangement of "Baby Please Don't Go" simply rocks - there is no other word for it. And I think it's quickly becoming a signature piece for her.

Dedicated to a friend, Lorenza and the guys did a FANTASTIC cover of Neil Young's "Ohio" ...if you don't know the song, check out this link. Again, the arrangement was incredibly strong and powerful.

That aggressive feeling carried on to "What Happened to You?" which was on a whole different level than I had heard it previously. I have always loved the story behind that song (which I talked about in my last write-up) and last night's rendition really communicated the frustration, disappointment and disbelief behind the words. Loved it!

I'm looking forward to seeing where Lorenza and her band go from here (hopefully to someplace where they can play a longer set -- hahaha!) Seriously, though, I think she's in for an incredible ride ... and hopefully I can be there to experience some of it.

Next up for Lorenza...two more shows:

November 5th - Bearsville Theater (Woodstock, NY)

November 6th - Stanhope House (Stanhope, NJ)

p.s. I totally dug the Leon Russell tank top she was wearing. Cool. :-)

p.s.2. (trying to read my notes) the band included Jon Loyd (keys), Andy Stack (guitar), Zach Jones (drums) and Brett Bass (bass) ... truth be told, not sure Brett's last name was Bass or if I wrote it because he played bass. LOL. Sorry 'bout that!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Just a Quick Post ...

Not feeling so well today ... will continue posting about my trek-ito (for it was a SHORT trek) a bit later. But, I just found this video of one of my fave Southside Johnny songs from the show in Melle. Take a listen ...

Anyhoo ...

Next up will be our free day in Bremen (Sandy's home!) with a surprise visit from our friend Iris and a crazy night at the Freimarkt Festival. If you're REALLY nice I might post the video of us singing at the biergarten ... haha ... NOT!! What they did to Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive" will haunt me for years to come. LOL

Here's a few images to give you an idea of the fun!

The awesome ferris wheel ... of course we HAD to go up on it!

...the view from the top

Elvis like you've never heard him before ...

...just the beginning of the oh-so-healthy eating day ROFLMAO ... (the best frickin' potato pancakes EVER!)

Hope you all have a great day. If you missed the announcement, three new fan club trips are now posted at Backstage with Jon Bon Jovi. DUBLIN here I come! Me, a pint of beer and every James Joyce site known to man. :-)

Countdown has begun to Best Buy Theater show ... and the arrival of a couple of my crazy German girls! Woohoo!

Friday, October 22, 2010

4/4: Night 2 Melle Show

Continuing on my quick flip through Europe, we come to night 2 of my trip and the Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes show in Melle, Germany.

After all the emotion the night before, the band (and us too) seemed to relax a bit and just have a good ole time at this show. Ok, there were definitely some chaotic moments ... actually right from the get-go ... like when Johnny took my camera during the second song while I was trying to take a picture of Eddie. LOL

...and here's the picture he got for me ... thanks, Johnny!

I always talk about how this band never follows the set list, right? Well, here's a great example of a typical gig. Original written set:

...and here's what was actually played...

Talk to Me
I Played the Fool
Cry to Me
Everybody Needs Somebody

Walk away Renee
Cross That Line
Woke up This Morning
Love on the Wrong Side of Town
This Time It's for Real
Umbrella in My Drink
Harder Than It Looks
Coming Back
Into the Harbour
Sweeter Than Honey
Tango till They're Sore/Alabama Song
Nobody's Fault but Mine
Trapped Again
Hearts of Stone
Working Too Hard

First Encore:
You Can't Bury Me
I Don't Want to Go Home

Second Encore:
One More Night to Rock

Those in bold were not on the set list ... and then there was "Take It Inside" which was on the set list twice but not played at all. LOL

I was so happy to hear them do a couple of what I affectionately call 'Jeff Kazee songs' ... those with extensive piano parts or particularly Jeffrey-esque harmonies. Of course, sometimes things got a little messed up, but that just adds to the whole joy of a Southside show. In any case, "Into the Harbour" is one of my favorite songs so I'm glad Johnny stuck with it ...

*video by Rike*

You really can't blame Glenn, the intro Johnny sang really DID sound like "Tired Skin" Haha!

And sometimes you want to just do things yourself! LOL

Here's a few other pictures.

A rare clear image of the Energizer Bunny Billy Walton ... stand still Billy, I'm trying to get your picture!

In lieu of Tom's regular set which has a Pills & Ammo bass drum cover, they improvised with just sticking a t-shirt over it! Haha.

and the man himself.

At one point during the show, Billy's guitar string broke so Johnny came over and played a solo on it. Haha.

...and I love this one...

Once again, Johnny took someone's camera ... this time Steffi's! ... and walked all over the stage and took pictures with it. I'll be sure to post those later. He got some really great shots!

...and what is this ... a quick nap Johnny? Or a mini-Vulcan mind probe?

We were all so sad when the show ended as it was our last night together -- Beate and Steffi had to go back home. In Amsterdam we had all joined arms and sang along to "Hearts of Stone" (which got some cute looks from the band members). But tonight, we all did a vodka shot together and celebrated our friendship and the plan to see eachother again. (p.s. Johnny, you missed out ... we had one for you too if you had come out after the show!)

And so ends Day 2 in Europe ... what's next? An amazing day off in Bremen. Stay tuned! :-)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Europe: 4 Nights, 4 Cities con't

Day 2 (part 1): Road Trip to Melle

"Woke up this morning (in Amsterdam)
Looked around for my (wooden) shoes.
Couldn't find nothing
But this half-empty bottle of booze (wine)"
--from SSJ & the Jukes "Pills & Ammo"
* I did a little editing to the lyrics...*

And the journey continues ...

Here's a picture the next morning of me and the girls (Sandy, Steffi and Rike) ... minus Beate who had already left for the train to our next destination. We look pretty good considering the absolute lack of sleep we'd had already at this point.

After checking out of the hotel, we got on the road ... stopping in Amersfoort for some breakfast and a little shopping (if you know anything about my crazy German girls it's that they can shop with the best of 'em!) Luckily it had finally stopped raining ... instead, it was snowing!

It didn't take me long to remember why I could never live in Europe ... CROISSANTS! Dang, I could eat those every day for the rest of my life. Croissants in the States are not nearly as good. Period. But, not just croissants, all kinds of crazy pastries. So I decided to try this traditional Dutch one with spicy meat paste something or another inside (can any of my friends from Holland tell me what it was I actually ate please?! LOL)

Back on the road, we made a quick surprise stop at DavidsRosie's to say "hallo!" ... you Jovifans know her from her infamous "no Jon, not you! David!" moment in London at the 02. Click here to see video. It was so great to meet you Rosie! Hope you like the little MEMPHIS care package. :-)

A few hours later (and one video of us singing Living on a Prayer to the radio that I hope never ends up on Youtube!) we arrived in Melle, Germany and checked into the hotel. What an absolutely quaint little town. We were right by the city hall with this nice view from our room ... and the chimes (which Beate and I called "Bitsy Ben") that went off every 15 minutes ... ayyyy. Haha.

The venue Southside Johnny was playing is basically a dance hall attached to a restaurant/bakery. Seems the owner of the place really loves the band and they play there nearly every tour. There's even a great mural of them on the wall of the hall. Can't believe we forgot to get a picture - it's very cool ... yet strange ... all at the same time. It made us contemplate blowing up a picture of Jeff Kazee and doing a cardboard cut-out to put on stage. LOL

Here's me in front of the venue.

I also have a picture of me kissing Johnny's cheek on the poster ... maybe I'll send that to him for his own personal collection. Hahaha.

Next up ... the show in Melle ...