Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Southside and the Jukes Rock the UK

So I return to NYC and what happens? It frickin' snows! In October! Geez ... the weather in the UK was better! LOL

Speaking of my trip, you can read all about it over at Jukesnet. I still have one more entry to do, but the first four parts are posted: London, Southampton, Cardiff, and Bristol.

Top Ten Moments of the Tour (in no particular order)

1. Johnny's brilliant narrative of what men must give up in the name of love (Bristol)
2. Getting to catch up with my cousin in London after 20+ years
3. Jeff Kazee's super-cool performance of "I'm A Man" (Bristol)
4. The St. David Spa and Hotel in Cardiff
5. John Conte's bass solo in Southampton
6. Spending time with my friend BJSunnynight
7. FINALLY getting to hear "Some Things Just Don't Change" (Wolverhampton)
8. Not getting killed while crossing the street
9. Shopping at Harrod's
10. UK fashion magazines (a subscription to UK Vogue in the States is like $100!)

Here are a few of my favorite images from the shows.

...oh those eyes...

..ok..not the best quality ever, but it was a very funny moment...

..man vs mic..

With the Fall concert season in full swing, things are kicking into high gear here. Looking forward to concerts by Gavin DeGraw, Southside Johnny and the Poor Fools, Outside the Box, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and Audra McDonald this month.

As I always say, "so much music, so little time."

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Two Great Nights - No Bus Rides Necessary!

As if y'all didn't know ... I love living in NYC. *faked look of shock* LOL

The biggest reason why is because on any given night, there are dozens of amazing concerts going on around this city. And as someone who lives and breathes music, I know that I will NEVER be without somewhere to go to listen and be inspired. But, that also means there is always the possibility that conflicts may arise. Such was the case this past Tuesday when my favorite conductor was at Carnegie Hall and the Early Elton Trio was performing at Rockwood Hall.

Aries don't like to be forced to choose...
...and BAJ is a textbook Aries. *wink*

So I appeased the "classical geek fan girl" in me and went to the CD signing with Valery Gergiev at Juilliard which left me free and clear to go experience the brilliance that is Jeff Kazee/John Conte/Rich Pagano.

Sure, lots of singers and bands play songs by Elton John. But, that's not what this is.

It's about that perfect combination of the material and how it's communicated. It's not about nostalgia, but about hearing a song you know and feeling like you're experiencing it for the first time. And it's about the performers inviting you to join them on an emotional journey. These guys do this in spades.

I always come out of an EE show feeling mentally exhilarated and exhausted all at the same time. This show was no exception. I actually only took one picture during the entire show (which I tweeted.) Other than that, I just sat and listened and felt the music. Incredible.

Not yet recovered from that show, the next night brought the Jon Bon Jovi and Friends benefit event for Poly Prep Country Day School at the Best Buy Theater. I so love going to that theatre -- it is about two blocks from my apartment. (yay! no buses! LOL)

I had planned on attending this for several months as a friend affiliated with the school had purchased a ticket for me. They eventually opened it up to the general public -- as a result, it was nice to have the opportunity to catch up with many friends who I hadn't seen since the end of the tour.

The show opened with a number of performances by students of the school. Some were actually quite good, including this 11-year old rocker girl doing her own songs ... and with the likes of Jeffrey Lee Campbell (Sting) and Shawn Pelton (SNL) no less. Lucky girl!

As is the case with JBJ charity shows (and why I enjoy them so much), the set list was a mix of Bon Jovi songs and great cover songs like Start Me Up, Sympathy for the Devil, Twist and Shout, Under Pressure, The Letter (My Baby Just Wrote Me a Letter) and this one ...

It's always nice to see Jon truly enjoying himself when he does these events. And I was enjoying myself as well ... even during WSYCGH. Haha.

Although I was sitting pretty far back, I did manage to take a few pictures.

...as you can see, Mr. Bon Jovi dressed up for this one...nice jeans, Jonny. I wonder what his ringtone is. I'm thinking it's not "Living on a Prayer" like the woman who was sitting behind me. LOL

...I love this one with Lorenza...

All-in-all it was a fun night. Certainly gave me my Jovifix ... at least for a while.

And, hey! This week's musical fun isn't even over yet. Friday I get to introduce a couple of my Canadian friends to Outside the Box who will be doing a set or two at Bowery Electric.

So much music. So little time.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Keeping Busy...

As expected, just because Bon Jovi isn't on tour doesn't mean the guys (and me, too for that matter!) aren't still running around -- whether it's Jon shooting an Advil commercial (I'm assuming you brokered some sponsorship deal for the Soul Kitchen on this one, Jon. Yes?) or Tico hitting the links in support of a good cause (umm ... I could really use some help with my irons, T. Thanks.) As for me, I ran into one of the guys this past weekend at an event down in Baltimore.

For the past nine years, the Casey Cares Foundation has held their Rock 'N' Roll Bash. The event features an all-star band of musicians and raises a ton of money to help kids with life-threatening illnesses and their families. You know the truth about musicians is ... they spend a lot of time hustling for gigs, but are total softees and always the first ones to step up to do a benefit show. Seriously, it's true.

Anyhoo, I knew two of my favorite people (Christine Ohlman and Jeff Kazee) were doing this gig and it's a cause that is important to me and it sounded like fun, so off on the bus I went.

To say the night was a lot of fun would be a huge understatement.

The band is led by saxophone superstar Mark Rivera who has been playing forever with Billy Joel and Ringo Starr. In addition to Christine (SNL band) and Jeff (Jukes, etc.), the line-up included Tommy Byrnes (Billy Joel), Anton Fig (Letterman), Jeff Carlisi (.38 Special), Derek St. Holmes (Ted Nugent) and Hugh McDonald (y'all know who he plays with, I guess.)

They alternated sets with two tribute bands...High Voltage (ACDC) and Bad Medicine. I will admit, I had some great laughs watching the Bon Jovi tribute band. The frontman really did have some of Jon's moves down, including the Godforsaken "it's alright" section of WSYCGH. Haha.

But anyhoo, the all-star band played three sets I think and covered a slew of songs like Hungry Heart, Brown Sugar, Some Kinda Wonderful, Born to Run and just about every song that has the lyrics "rock and roll" in it. LOL. I really enjoy watching great musicians who are obviously enjoying what they do. And these guys were having a blast.

Master of Music Ceremonies, Mark Rivera

Mark, Tommy Byrnes, Hugh McDonald

Christine Ohlman (and the best earrings ever!)

Jeff and Tommy

Tommy and Hugh

Jeff and Mark

Tommy and Hugh

I loved Christine bringing up a ton of women on stage and doing Brass in Pocket by The Pretenders.

And though I have seen Kazee do this song a few times, I think it was the best version of Van Morrison's Domino yet.

The band played for hours. There was open bar and buffet (including some kick-ass fried green beans!) The venue was really cool (the Ram's Head Live) and I met a ton of fun people of all ages who gave me a million suggestions as to what to see during my whopping two free hours in Baltimore on Sunday. LOL Pretty darn good night.

So, I HIGHLY recommend if you're in the Baltimore/DC area, you should check it out next year -- it seems to usually take place in October. The ticket price is extremely reasonable (hey, we're Jovifans, no ticket price can shock us. Haha.) Oh ... and, if you don't live there, make a mini-trip out of it because there actually is a lot to see ... and the Inner Harbor area was awesome.

What's next? October is insane - Early Elton Trio at Rockwood Hall (yay!), MEMPHIS opening in Memphis (and we say good-bye to Chad Kimball as 'Huey' on Broadway. *sigh*) Then it's five shows in the UK with Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes. But, I'm kicking off the month with the annual Light the Night walk for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I truly appreciate all of you who have given to this campaign. THANK YOU! Anyone who would still like to donate ... see the box in the upper left corner of the blog.

Until later. Rock on!
Big Apple Jen


p.s. Thanks for all the messages in the last couple of days re: me vs the marble staircase. Outcome of bout ... stairs:1, bajg:0, wrist: -1. I'll be fine. Torn ligament. No surgery. :) No bassoon for 4-6 weeks, though. *pout*

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Forces of Nature Tour 2011

Greetings y'all ... hope you are well ... and safe. This whole Irene Hurricane/Tropical Storm has certainly walloped the East Coast of the U.S.

I've been on a road trip around the Northeast (nice timing, huh?) with my friend Tasha ... 4 Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes shows in 5 days basically. You can find my reviews, pictures, etc. over on Jukesnet.

But here are a few quick words on how things have gone so far...
1. War protest in Pittsfield, MA
2. Hurricane Emergency Kit ... beer and Slim Jims?
3. Kazee's Crossing Guard Service
4. Naked BBQ?!
5. Dog vs Pool

...and we're only halfway through the slew of shows! LOL

So follow these links to see what the heck I'm talking about:

Part 1: Pittsfield, MA
Part 2: Freeport, ME

Monday, August 22, 2011

Black and White in Living Color

note: we take a break from our regularly scheduled Jovi/Jukes ramblings for this special report...no worries, I'll be back with more Jovistuff soon

I will admit it. I am quite addicted to (most) pianist/singer/songwriters. They’ve always resonated with me. Not quite sure why … maybe it’s because I can actually play the piano and I can’t play guitar. Seriously! I suck. And, what’s that about? I can play the frickin’ bassoon – which admittedly most people can’t – and yet, the “every man’s instrument” that the average bloke can at least decently strum while sitting around a campfire totally befuddles me!? Ugh. Ok … rant over. Moving on.

Back to the subject at hand.

Yes, they get me every time – those black and white keys - from Elton John to Michael Feinstein, Billy Joel to Barry Manilow (oh, be quiet … they’re good songs!) And then there’s the “newer” generation of pianist/songwriters … like the fabulous (and quite adorable) Gavin DeGraw.

But today I’m writing about one of my new favorite artists. I was introduced to Jon Regen through the Jukes' Jeff Kazee (yet another pianist/singer/songwriter.)

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you’ve seen me posting about Jon Regen’s new album, REVOLUTION. In a stroke of brilliance, he started streaming the yet-to-be-released cd in its entirety on his website sometime back. What a great thing! How often do you have the opportunity to listen to a full record before buying it? I liked the concept because it’s usually the obscure track (rather than the single) that you end up falling in love with … right?

So after listening to it for a few weeks, I finally sent Jon a message asking when exactly I could buy it so that I could finally turn my computer off. Being the nice guy he is, he immediately drops a signed copy in the mail to me. Yay! Now, I could have “One Part Broken, Two Parts Blue” on constant repeat! (When you buy the album, you will, too. Trust me.)

Born in New Jersey (what is it with me and Jersey musicians?! haha), to me, Regen’s music really just captures the feel of New York City so well. It's this great mix of jazz and pop, a beautiful way with words (check out "Spirits of the Soul" *sigh*) and a groove that just gets into you.

Gotta love that line: You hold me close then you push me away...there's a doctor you should see about your split personality. :-)

So, in short I'm telling you ... go buy this album. Period. Right here ... click right here.

And if you live in/near NYC, join me at The Blue Note on September 12th for the cd release show. You know how to reach me ... @bigapplejen on twitter.

P.S. And well, since I did mention Gavin DeGraw… if you haven’t heard his new single “Not Over You” where have you been? It’s all over the radio. His new album is coming out in September as well. Yay! Check out this great acoustic version with him and Billy Norris. Glad to hear Gavin is recovering well and looking forward to seeing him back on the road.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Not Just Another Walk in the Park

Greetings friends! Sorry for the delay ... I've been looking for my writing mojo for the past couple of weeks now. If anyone sees it, please send it back my way. :-/

Regardless of my inability to string together words these days, I figured I better just keep plugging along or I'll be still writing about the Bon Jovi UK trip from June while I'm packing for the Jukes UK trip in October!

Anyhoo, on to Hard Rock Calling in Hyde Park.

It seemed that everyone and their brother was coming to this show and it was fantastic to meet up with so many friends - from the Netherlands to Italy to Australia to Germany. Though entry was a bit of a disaster (NOT the fault of the fan club, but the local security who had no clue/care what the process was) I was lucky to get a spot in the third-ish row surrounded by some absolutely AMAZING ladies from the UK.

(don't forget! you can always click on the pictures to make them larger)

(yeah, that white arrow in front of Jon's mic stand ... that would be me!)

I will not lie. It was a long day. I hadn't really slept well since I arrived and was still quite sick at this point (as could be told from my food intake for the day, which consisted of three french fries and four cough drops.)

But, the weather was absolutely gorgeous and the sun was shining ... good thing, because the red jacket just isn't right without the Michael Jackson sunglasses (sorry, Jonny ... it's growing on me ... really it is. LOL)

But, before we get to Jovi, I must mention that helping the day to move along, we were treated to several other artists prior to "our boys" coming on stage -- including Vintage Trouble (who was the support act for every show I saw) and the legendary Ray Davies, among others. But, the artist that really grabbed me was an American guitarist/singer/songwriter named Lissie.

I'm looking forward to checking out her stuff a bit more...an interesting mix of folk and rock...and definitely that "indie" spirit.

So, eventually Bon Jovi took the stage. By now, most of you have seen videos of the show, the special that VH1 Classic did on the event or listened to the live radio broadcast (either that night or since.) Therefore, you already know that it was a spectacular night. The crowd was fantastic ... of course it helped that you had all the fan club members together right at the front, which simply created this incredible singing force! :-)

And for a guy who was very much in need of knee surgery, Jon Bon Jovi was running around that stage, jumping and "dancing" (haha) for a good three hours. Richie's solos were on fire, Tico was pounding as hard as I've ever heard and David was ruling the keys with his blond curls blowing in the breeze. In some ways it felt like the Lost Highway Central Park show ... on steroids. LOL

Here are just a few of the ridiculous number of pictures I took during the show ...

...the great Ray Davies (if you watch the VH1 Classic footage, you can see our friend @DavidsRosie rocking it out in the front row! Yay!)

...I never get tired of this shot...

...or this one...

...and the photo master, David Bergman, at work...

...and the guitar master at work...

...one of the absolute best moments of the night..."Hey God!" ...enough said...

...an ELECTRIC performance of "Keep The Faith"

Hey, Hugh...don't hide back there!

..ahhh, there he is!

Honestly, I haven't thoroughly reviewed the photos from the second half of the show, but flipping through, this one stood out for sure! Loved that vest, Richie!

Richie really was just incredible that night ...

...and Jon is right...that opening from Tico is all it takes. Speaking of Tico, a few shot of the elusive one ...

...they did play right up until the curfew or within the few minutes after (when they won't be paying hundreds of thousands in fines)...

...but even an amazing night like this one had to eventually come to an end...

I can't really describe the whole experience -- but it felt like you were part of history in some way. It is definitely a night I will never forget - watching a band I absolutely love along with my friends (both old and new) in a gorgeous setting on a perfect summer evening. *sigh*

Well, perfect until you try to get 65,000-plus people out of a park! But, that's a story for another time. LOL

I still have a lot to cover of my trip - there's Bristol and the two Dublins! So, come back ... I promise it won't be so long until the next post. *wink*

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Great Chicago Fire of 2011

Greetings friends! I have NOT forgotten about y'all ... just been busy. I promise to wrap up my UK/Ireland Bon Jovi trip (complete with LOTS of pictures) this week. But, in the meantime, if you want to head over here, you can read about one hot night in Chicago.

Be back soon!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Day 3: Mission Impossible...?

Now…where was I?

Oh, yes. The show and sight-seeing in Edinburgh was truly wonderful, but time to move on to the next destination … LONDON!

Besides the Bon Jovi concert in Hyde Park, I had only one goal for my time in this great city – to visit Wimbledon.

Growing up, there were two sporting events that were absolutely sacred in our house … The Masters (golf) and Wimbledon (tennis). As for tennis … living in New York City, I have attended the U.S. Open many many times. The excitement and energy of the hard courts in Flushing Meadows is incredible. Night matches there are simply electric. But, the grass courts of Wimbledon … that’s pure magic.

After an utterly sleepless first night in London (it was midsummer during my trip, therefore it was totally light out at 4am. huh! who knew?! And remember, I'm still sick as a dog), I headed to The All England Lawn Tennis Club via the tube (which sounds much more refined than “the subway” by the way.)

Though I had joked that I was up all night devising a plan to stalk Roger Federer, the truth was that I had no plan at all! All I knew was that I wanted to be there. And actually, on the train there were constant announcements that if you didn’t have a ticket to not travel to Wimbledon because the queue was extremely long (at least 6 hours to get in … if you get in at all.) But, being the insanely stubborn person I am, I didn't quite listen.

Upon arriving, this is what I found...

...wouldn't it be great if it was this organized for Jovishows? #JustSaying LOL

It was quite apparent there was no way I was going to get in ...

But I would be happy to just see the entrance ... or the souvenir shop ... anything! So, I walked up to one of the gates hoping for even a glimpse of the venue I have loved my whole life.

...there aren't any tickets available for MONTHS so not sure why they actually have a sign LOL...

...finally, the guard says "Miss, your ticket please. You can enter here." ... ayyyy, NOW WHAT?!

Well, they always say honesty is the best policy. So, I went that route. I told him I was from the States and didn't have a ticket. I told him that I have watched Wimbledon my whole life and to just be able to see it and breathe the same air was a dream come true even if I didn't get to see a match. He asks why I didn't get a ticket and I tell him that I wasn't sure if I'd be able to attend because I am traveling the UK going to Bon Jovi shows. His face lights up and he starts asking me all about the shows! (100 million fans can't be wrong!)

Next thing I know, he opens the gate and let's me in! (that's the top of his hat ... don't wanna jeopardize his job ya know!)

He tells me we have ten minutes and he can show me around a little but I can't stay for any matches (COMPLETELY fair as I don't have a ticket and people have been waiting days to get in.)

OMG OMG OMG! I can't breathe ... this is awesome. So, he walked with me and shared a few of his stories about meeting different players. And my dream is realized -- I'm actually standing on the grounds of Wimbledon. My dad would be proud. *sigh*

After my mini-tour, he takes me back to the gate where I shock the *&%$ out of him with a hug and thank him profusely. He tells me to sing extra loud at the Hyde Park show and off he sends me.

Wow. That was pretty cool.

I spent a little time in Wimbledon Village (which was complete chaos because Andy Murray was due to play that day) and then headed back into the city.

After walking around Covent Garden and grabbing a bite to eat...

...I headed over to Picadilly Circus, sort of the Times Square of London...

Not too surprisingly, I felt very comfortable in London. I'm a city girl. I just needed a lot more time there to explore. I'm looking forward to returning in October for the Jukes tour.

I eventually made it back to our hotel to meet up with the girls for dinner and a bit of shopping for Saturday's grand activity.

Next up: the BIG concert ... Bon Jovi/Hyde Park/Hard Rock Calling ... bring on the crowds!