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.)