Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Just When I Thought it was Safe LOL

Happy Tuesday y'all. Its another dreary, ugly day in the Big Apple but this IS the city that never sleeps, right? Ugh.

I was hoping that with the Bon Jovi boys on a break before the Giants shows (yes, I'm STILL calling it Giants .... none of this "New Meadowlands" stuff for me!) that my schedule would slow down just a bit.

Ahh ... but the music gods conspire against me. Haha.

So I took a train ride down the shore on Friday to catch the Kazeedigs show at the Stone Pony. Damn, I love that venue ... lots of great memories there between Jukes shows and walks on the boardwalk. The band was doing the complete "Exile on Main Street" by the Rolling Stones ... and though, I wasn't completely familiar with all the tunes, just the energy and verstatility of the musicians was awesome. As usual, whenever Southside is involved with something, its a whole different dynamic. Haha.

Here's a great clip of one of the encores (which I DID know LOL!)

A couple of other highlights included a vocally searing version of "Let It Loose" by Jeff Kazee and a down-and-dirty "Stop Breaking Down" by my favorite Brit, Neal Pawley (that's what my tweet "Smitten with (a) Britain" was about...) It was a great night. :)

What's next?

Well, I'm super-excited that my friend L is able to get me in to a private Melissa Etheridge show on Thursday night--yes, the same night that Jon Bon Jovi is playing a charity gig at Cipriani 42nd Street. Would love to stop by the event, especially given my own ongoing leukemia battle, but alack and alas I can only be in one place at one time. Supposedly, Etheridge is on the attendee list for that event as well. Hopefully she will be very late ... after a long, long show. :)

If you haven't heard "Fearless Love" from her new record, take a listen to this acoustic version. The woman can ROCK!

But seriously, I AM going to take a bit of a break from running aruond like a crazy person before my doctor throws me in the loony bin! But no worries, there are new Jovi pics and videos coming ... for with this first leg done, its time to do the "best of" recap. Haha.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Battle of the Broadway Bands

Now THIS is why I live in New York ... on tap this week ...

Last Night - the Broadway opening of "American Idiot"
Tonight - Kenny Chesney's Summer in 3D movie opening at Lincoln Center
Thursday - "Memphis" (yes, AGAIN!)
Friday - Jeff Kazee's Kazeedigs at The Stone Pony
Saturday - an all-night scrapbooking crop (gotta capture all these great memories, right?!)

So, first up ... "American Idiot" ... holy cow what a night it was!

Broadway openings are always a spectacle. But, considering all the hype and the rockstar aspect of the show, last night was chaotically surreal as expected.

I scooted out of the office a bit early to head up to the theatre and meet up with my friend L (who got us the tickets in the first place ... THANKS, L ... love ya!) When I arrived, there was already quite a crowd both in front of the theatre and across the street to catch the red carpet arrivals.

There was no shortage of star power - Whoopi Goldberg, Rosie O'Donnell, Edie Falco, Donald and Melania Trump and Camryn Manheim, among others. (I'm pretty sure I was standing next to Tracy Pollan for quite some time, Michael J. Fox's wife. I will never forget that character she played in Law & Order ... brilliant!)

side note: a dear friend of mine is an investor in the show and attended the pre-show cocktail party and post-show blowout ... I'm waiting to get his report LOL ... but he's already on a plane to California this morning

And last, but certainly not least on the celebrity front was Steven Van Zandt (yes, the one and only Little Steven! more on that later. You can see him in this picture from the lobby ... just look for the purple headscarf LOL. See?! COMPLETE chaos!)

Anyway, back to the show. L and I had seats up in the balcony (close to God) in the first row on the side. Every seat was filled (of course) and the energy of the crowd was just electric.

Here is how I'll sum up the show ... I would definitely see it again. The songs are fantastic - we all know them - and the staging is fantastic, if not a little over-the-top (that's okay ... heck, this is supposed to be entertainment.) There are some great voices in the cast ... and though the show is very ensemble-driven - lots of huge production numbers, etc. - you can see the individual talent in many of the actors.

The use of scaffolding during the show is incredible ... at one point they tip the whole thing on its side while the actors are performing on it. The pace of the show is relentless and must be absolutely exhausting ... can't imagine keeping that level for 8 shows a week. I think it is a very different type of energy than "Memphis" which is also physically, especially vocally, demanding.

One of the best moments of the show for me, actually, is the end where the ENTIRE cast comes out with acoustic guitars to play "Time of Your Life" ... absolutely takes your breath away. SUPER COOL!! And they weren't faking it ... they were playing. I absolutely loved it.

(here's a little snippet L got!)

I think one of my issues with the show is its a lot of the same thing (angst angst angst), though I did feel the songs did flow very well in terms of the plot (which admittedly, is a bit weak.) I never really felt a connection with any of the characters -- I was impressed by the people playing the parts, but not necessarily the parts themselves. In my opinion, it already seems a bit "dated" in some ways ... keeping in mind that when Green Day wrote the record in 2004, society was in a different place.

As for the staying power of the show, I don't think its going to be one of those that becomes a staple in the musical theatre repertoire. Its for a particular place and time. Given the language of the lyrics, its not quite appropriate for young kids. A good portion of the Broadway world relies on tourists ... and I'm not sure this would be one that "a family of four" is going to go see.

Anyhoo, back to last night. So, after the show it was chaos trying to get OUT of the theatre. In a total grunge manner, you are encouraged to actually sign the wall of the hallway as you exit. Here's my "John Hancock" LOL

Much to my sheer delight, I got stuck right behind ... you guessed it ... Little Steven! Now, most people loved him in The Sopranos, and of course as part of the E Street Band ... but for me, what I love are the songs he has written with and for Southside Johnny. So, after he signed the wall (actually above the door as we were trying to get out) I mentioned that to him. Then we talked a couple of minutes about the show until we finally were able to escape to the street. Its a bit blurry (yes, I was a bit nervous) but here's him signing the wall LOL

Well, L and I stayed afterward to catch the cast as they were coming out and I was able to get my Playbill signed by just about everyone! I also was able to meet the guys from Green Day, who deservedly, looked to be just about the happiest guys on earth last night.

Afterward, L and I had our picture taken in front of the stage door with the opening night artwork (but I'll have to post that later after L has uploaded all her pictures - she got some fantastic ones of the cast!)

Here's the Playbill :-)

So ... why did I name this post "Battle of the Broadway Bands" ... well, because Tony Awards season is fast-approaching and its going to be interesting to see how everything pans out. There is a lot of talk about whether "American Idiot" is eligible for "Best Score" ... it wasn't originally written FOR the theatre (like "Memphis" was) ... but it was a concept album that was written with the vision of a production. As y'all know, I feel a strong connection to David Bryan, Joe DiPietro and the cast of "Memphis" and have my fingers crossed that they all will do well at the Tonys. And, hopefully, I will actually be attending the ceremony. Hehe.

In the meantime, though, I'm just happy to have these opportunities to see great live theatre.

New York, New York --
A hell of a town,
The Bronx is up and the Battery's down.
The people ride in a hole in the ground.
New York, New York --
It's a hell of a town.

(from Bernstein's "On the Town")

P.S. And wasn't it funny that in my last post I quoted one of Little Steven's songs ... and then, BAM ... I meet him. Ahhh. :-)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

It's Been A Long Time...

It's been a long time since we laughed together,
It's been a long time since we cried ...

(written by Steven Van Zandt on Southside Johnny's Better Days album)

Well, it HAS been a long time. Sorry for the delay ... so much has happened in the last couple of weeks ...
- the five Jovi shows (I never did really write about Mohegan 2 or DC)
- an off-the-wall Jukes show at BB Kings
- an amazing gig by Jeff Kazee and Jeff Golub at this tiny bar on the UWS
- the release of Lorenza Ponce's new album "Soul Shifter" (more on that later)
- the Memphis webcast interview (see this post)
- etc etc etc

But, I promised I'd recap the Memphis CD signing ... so here I am.

So, last Tuesday I met up with my friend Linda (all these pictures are hers!) and her friend Taylor to catch the cast perform songs from the show and sign the newly released cast recording. T was able to arrive at Barnes & Noble early and was number ONE in line, and though I'm not a first row kind of person for these things (BJ shows are a totally different matter LOL), we ended up sitting dead center right in front of the stage.

After a brief introduction by the B&N guy and some quick media pictures, David Bryan and Joe DiPietro came out to serve as quasi-hosts for the afternoon. We all know that David can be funny, but I swear that he and Joe should do stand-up comedy. They were hysterically funny. And, I do believe David recognized me (how could he not after that run of Jovi shows? I'm sure he was thinking "oh lordy, her again. LOL)

A clip of David and Joe talking about the record ...

Joe Depietro and David Bryan Introduction from Memphis the Musical on Vimeo.

First up was the song "Change Don't Come Easy" which was great ... the actor who plays Huey's mom is fantastic and really delivers it with a lot of spunk. And I love that comical line "so stop with all the dramaaaa" ROFL It seems that David and Joe re-wrote a song for this character many, many times. Well, it may have taken a while, but they definitely got it right!

Next up was Montego singing "Colored Women" ... and she once again blew me away. I had heard her that close up when I went to Joe's Pub back in May of last year (you can read about that here) but it never gets old. She has an incredible presence on stage.

David actually told a funny story about when he was working on the song at the studio in his house. We all know that David has a very powerful, commanding voice and I could totally see him belting this out with a complete depth of emotion. He opened the door to find his twins (who were 10 at the time) and one of them said "Dad, you are NOT a colored woman" (I'm sure with all the attitude a typical kid that age has. LOL)

In any case, Montego just nailed it.

After Montego, Chad Kimball took the stage for "Memphis Lives in Me." For those who haven't seen the production, when you do, you will be crying your eyes out during this song. It comes at such a pivotal point in the show and Chad will just take your breath away.

Throughout the event, David and Joe would pop up on stage to say a few words and share some anecdotes about the art of collaboration (it seems Joe can easily be swayed with a good cup of coffee?! LOL) and the learning curve that came in terms of David writing for Broadway (he now knows what the definition of an "11 o'clock number" is.)

Once the performances were completed, we had the opportunity to have our CDs signed by the cast. Actually, the whole process was super-simple and it was great that Joe recognized me from the night before.

Here was the finished product. :-) (I actually got one signed for my mom, too ... she is waiting anxiously for it to come to Cincinnati ... hint hint)

And a little video recap of the event ...

Memphis Live @ Lincoln Center Barnes and Noble from Memphis the Musical on Vimeo.

It was a fabulous afternoon diversion ... for then I had to return to the office to finish a proposal. But, no worries ... I just bought a ticket to see the show again (I have lost count ... maybe that's time 11 or 12?) as a birthday present to myself. See?! I can always find a way to justify it. Haha.

Okay ... that's all for now folks ...

Oh ... except ...

If you haven't ordered your copy of Lorenza Ponce's new album, you should do it NOW. The fabulous (or crazy) Lorenza has decided to sign every CD purchased in April. Can't wait to receive mine ... but in the meantime am enjoying the video of the live performance of "Soul Shifter"

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Memphis STILL Lives in Me - Part 1

I'm totally beat so this is going to end up being in two parts ... sorry

Greetings fellow Jovifans. Hope this finds you well. We are experiencing some INCREDIBLE weather here in NYC ... hope that Spring has sprung where you are too. :-)

Its been a great couple of days celebrating the release of the cast recording of "Memphis". Y'all know how much I love this show ... I have not been shy (umm..am I ever?) regarding my feelings about it. If you never read my original review, you can do so here.

The first event I attended was a live webcast last night. The format was a question and answer with Montego Glover, Chad Kimball and Joe DiPietro. Though I didn't care much for the moderator (she seemed to be basically focused on one subject), I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience and the opportunity to meet and hear these fabulous artists up close.

You may not realize how long this show has been in development (about 6 years!) ... or the fact that Chad and Montego (as well as many other members of the cast) have been there since the beginning. As a result, they both completely embody their roles - having nurtured and grown with them over the course of time. Furthermore, it is abundantly obvious how much they care for each other as people, which comes thru both onstage and off.

There were so many great moments during the hour-long conversation. Here are a few:

I loved hearing about the trip they all took down to Memphis ... Chad describing the feeling of singing about the corner of Beale and Main while ACTUALLY singing at the corner of Beale and Main. (and how cool is it that the touring production is going to OPEN in Memphis?!)

And Joe describing how he and David Bryan first "met" on the phone and they talked about the score to the show. David expressed an interest in them working together so Joe suggested he write one song and they'd take it from there. Joe hung up the phone thinking he'd probably get something in a couple of weeks -- so he was floored when he received a cd by FedEx the NEXT morning (it contained the incredible song "Music of My Soul.") And thus a great collaboration was born.

And hearing Montego talk about being given the gift of creating Felicia Farrell (though I think WE are the ones who have been given a gift by her performance of it.) Its very hard for any of us who have seen the show to imagine anyone other than her and Chad in their roles.

They talked briefly about the First Lady attending a performance a few weeks back, the physical demands of doing a show 8 times per week ... and about the changes the show has been thru during its development.

As I mentioned to Joe after the session, its been such a treat to watch this musical's rise to stardom ... I remember when they opened in Boston (well, a bit outside of Boston - I think it was the North Shore Music Theatre) all those years ago. So, its not just the cast and the creators who feel a sense of pride and ownership, its also the fans who feel so connected to this show.

When asked what one thing they would like audience members to get from seeing the show, Joe said he simply wants them to be "blown away." Well Joe, we are ... by the music, the story, the acting, the energy, the emotion, the history, the entertainment, the pure enjoyment. Thank you!

I know a couple of people who watched the webcast ... I'm hoping WNYC will archive it somewhere. I'll be sure to post a link if they do.

*Picture by Raellen Foreman (thanks for letting me use it, R! See you soon.)

P.S. Tune in tomorrow for my thoughts on the FANTASTICAL record signing event at Barnes & Noble. :-)

Monday, April 5, 2010

Am I the Only One...?

Am I the only one who is frustrated by the haphazard announcement of our fave band's concert dates?

Here's the scenario ...

You are all excited about scoring pit tickets to (what you think is) the last show of this leg of The Circle tour ... you and your PIC (partner-in-crime LOL) ... in the pit ... in The (Great!) Windy City ... its worth the sacrifice ... the travel ... the sleepless nights and the ramen noodles ... and then ...


They announce its not the last night afterall. You are totally bummed.

BUT ... no worries ...

You and PIC will be 2nd row at the Toronto show ... woohoo! ... the show there is always great ... and then ...


They announce a second night (thus relegating the concert you are attending to "first night status.")

So ...

note to Jon Bon Jovi: Please don't make every night 1 in a city "the standard set list night" and then make night two "the special night." Mix it up a little. The people sitting there paid the same regardless of whether its night 1 or night 2. Just sayin'.