Friday, January 28, 2011

A Night For Lovers...MUSIC Lovers

Wow! What can I say about last night's JBJ & Friends show at Starland? Well, a whole helluva lot!

Jon Bon Jovi put together a night for MUSIC lovers. With definite influence from Bobby Bandiera, the show was one big rock-n-roll revue featuring my beloved Southside Johnny, as well as Bob Burger and Lisa Bouchelle, among others. Thanks to all who followed the Twitter play-by-play. I had a blast sharing the experience with you.

Even before the screen featuring information on the Parker Pavilion was raised, you could tell there was a LOT of gear on stage. I could see a line of stands for horns (which of course got me all crazy) and percussion plus drum kit plus a BUNCH of mics and amps and ... and ... and ...

Little did we know what we were TRULY in store for! of course, I was trying not to rely too heavily on all the rumors that Southside was going to be up there too. I always love seeing them together, my two favorite guys in the world (who REALLY need to coordinate their concert schedules a bit better so I don't have to run around QUITE so much! LOL)

As the night progressed, it was a constant stream of "oh, man, I LOVE that song" ...

I thought it was poignantly beautiful for them to open with "Help" considering the purpose of the evening's show.

But, it was not to be a night focused on melancholy was a night to PARTY! And what better way than a horn-heavy, rockin' version of CC Rider?!

Just about everybody had a chance to sing a song ... and there were some great performances especially by Bob Burger on "She's Not There." If you don't know Bob Burger, you should check him out ... he's a great songwriter sometimes working with Glen Burtnik, another Jersey Shore legend (umm...I'm not sayin' you guys are old, by the way! LOL) I'm hoping somebody got Bob on video.

Well, and, you ALL know of my love of all things Southside Johnny ...

oh, before I continue...must give HUGE shout-out to Deb308 who ALWAYS takes the best should all definitely subscribe to her channel on YouTube #justsaying

Okay, back to the show. As you can see from list, Jon eventually did a few Jovi songs. But honestly, I would have been fine whatever he chose to do. As I said, this was not a show for just Jovipeeps, this was a show for MUSICpeeps ... stuff that has always resonated with me.

This was a night where I felt you see the human Jon ... the fun-loving, likes to hang with his friends, do the songs he loves, rediscover the joy of music, type of Jon. Dancing and singing and swaying his hips, joking and laughing, it makes you think "damn, he must throw a really good backyard barbecue!" LOL

As for the venue, entry, etc. I think most of us thought it would be a similar entry procedure as last time at Starland. I wasn't really prepared to stand out for several hours in line, but if you wanted a relatively decent spot you had no choice but to wait. Luckily, regardless of the 31,486,380 inches of snow we had, the temperature wasn't nearly as brutal as the 2009 show. THAT was ridiculous! (speaking of all the snow...I'm still very bummed my dear friends S and B were not able to fly in...#NotHappyWithMotherNatureRightNow)

We did end up getting a decent's a picture taken by my pal @hugsy2k who was with me and @Zoe211 and her friend T. I'll be sure to post some of Zoe's pictures in a bit. She was dead center 2nd row. :-) Additional thanks to Z for sending me home with some kick-ass Greek food. LOVE YOU!

Oh, and a note to Starland...hey!...maybe try promoting an UPCOMING show to the people standing in line?! Just a thought.

They had this "welcome to an evening of JBJ and Friends" recording on a constant loop for HOURS. We could all recite it verbatim. And I love how they emphasize he's playing "LIVE" ... well, he certainly wouldn't be playing dead now, would he? Haha.

Gotta go for now...will be back later with more pictures and more mundane commentary. LOL

P.S. Oh, and I got a JBJ guitar pick! Yay!

P.S.2. THIS JUST of Zoe's pictures...SSJ on harmonica. He and Bobby had a great little impromptu jam session at the end. :-)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Put Me In (Cold), I'm Ready to Play Today

*blog title sung to the tune of "Centerfield" by John Fogerty*

Greetings friends! Hope this finds you well and enjoying a great start to the new year.

I wasn't going to post for a while, but I just simply had to talk a little about Friday night. I will keep it brief ... ok ... probably not.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I was very much looking forward to the return to the stage of the Early Elton Trio. Having had a less-than-lovely week, I was counting the hours until the start of the show. So, after a completely unproductive Friday afternoon at the office, I headed over to Rockwood Hall. (For those of you who have seen Lorenza Ponce at The Living Room, Rockwood is basically down the block and around the corner.)

After a quick stop at Sugar Cafe for a cup of coffee, I went and got in line. As a Jovigirl, I have no problem with lining up early, but it was frickin' FREEZING outside. I honestly thought I would never get the feeling back in my fingers and toes again! (I am so not looking forward to the parking lot at Starland for Jon Bon Jovi & Friends later this month. #justsaying)

The last time I saw EE, they were playing BB King's so to see them in a much more intimate space was a real treat. It is a split-level venue with only a few tables downstairs close to the stage and mostly standing room. My friend and I were lucky to snag bar stools with a clear view of the piano keyboard ... a MUST for me.

Musicians must learn to perform in whatever environment they are thrown into. Sometimes it's an ideal situation (like Carnegie Hall) ... sometimes ... well ... it's not (for example, playing Haydn 'Creation' in the middle of the Amazon Jungle in Peru. No joke. That's a story for another time, though.)

In the case of Jeff, John and Rich, they had no time in the venue Friday prior to the show. Add to it that, for pianists, they are obligated to play whatever is rolled out in front of them. (Luckily, this seemed to be a pretty decent Steinway.) Add to that, it was like 15 degrees outside and everyone's hands were cold. After just a few minutes of getting some general sound levels and having (as Jeff described it) a "blind date" introduction to the piano, they launched the show with this:

Pretty incredible, huh?

...and then they just kept playing...and singing...and playing...and singing.

All-in-all they played a 1.5 hour set that included better-known songs like Levon, Take Me to the Pilot and Country Comfort (which I always want to call Southern Comfort. LOL) as well as deeper cuts like My Father's Gun. But the highlight of the night for me was an out-of-this-world performance of Madman Across the Water. You can find it on YouTube here ... which is great ... but experiencing it live. Lordy! It left me speechless (and y'all know me ... that is quite a feat!)

Of course, I've seen Jeff Kazee and John Conte play quite a bit (ok, A LOT) as they are both Jukes. Rich Pagano is best known as the drummer for The Fab Faux, but like the others, does a ton of other work. All three can really sing. All three can really play. Listen to this! (Oh, and don't miss Conte's super-cool lick at 4:17 ...)

Then, they followed that with Grey Seal! I honestly don't know how Kazee's hand didn't literally fall off. I am thinking that arm/hand massage gift certificates are going to be his favorite Christmas and birthday gifts. LOL

With the new website and an announcement that they will be playing later in the year in Hempstead, NY, I'm excited that I will be able to see them perform again soon. If you are in the tri-state area I highly recommend you catch their show.

Well, that's all for now folks. Until later ...

p.s. Videos courtesy of Marc M. who recorded just about the whole show. THANKS MARC! Chocolates are on the way!

p.s.2. Also, be sure to visit the Early Elton Trio's facebook page.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Year In Review it's a little late, but nonetheless, here it is. My 2010 in a nutshell (wow! now, THAT'S a loaded statement! LOL)

*I can't find my envelope with all my Jovi ticket stubs...I'm bummed*

Top Ten Shows
I had the privilege of attending A LOT of events this year...some memorable, some not-so-much. Not nearly as amusing as Letterman's Top Ten, but probably more meaningful ... here's the list in order: (you can click on title of each to read the corresponding blog post)

1. Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes at The Stone Pony (July)
I went to over 25 SSJ shows in 2010 ... each one of them was an unforgettable and unique experience. But this show, in particular, holds very special memories for me. In addition to an amazing set list on a perfect summer night, there was humor beyond belief as well as some personally poignant moments. I still carry around Andy York's guitar pick as a reminder of that night. It was clearly the #1 show of the year for me.

2. Bon Jovi in Honolulu (February)
Paradise + Bon Jovi = *Sigh*
It was a treat to completely miss the snowstorm in NYC, instead opting for mai-tais on the beach and beautiful evenings under the tiki torches. Less of a concert and more like two open rehearsals, we were lucky to hear some incredibly rare tracks that hadn't been played in YEARS. What a great way to kick off The Circle "Centipede" Tour.

3. Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes at The Paradiso in Amsterdam (October)
Don't even know where to begin. A lot of laughter, a bit of sadness. It was an incredible show in an absolutely gorgeous venue with some of my closest friends. It kicked off four wacky days of cars, trains, trams, planes and wine, beer, chocolate and pastries (the 4 major food groups?)

4. Bon Jovi opening the "New Giants Stadium" (May)
What a crazy whirlwind THAT was! The Big Apple became Bon Jovi Central for that week. Everybody and their brother coming to the States for the shows ... my crazy Germans, the Italians, the Aussies, the UKers. A little bittersweet now - it was the beginning of some great friendships and the end of some others. Let's not talk about night 4 though ... ouch ... poor Jonny.

5. Early Elton Trio at BB Kings (March)
Easily one of my fave shows of the year. What is it about EE shows always happening when I'm having a crap week?! Divine intervention maybe? Whatever the case, there is nothing like rediscovering great songs you forgot about while watching fantastic musicians playing their hearts out. Nice.

6. Bon Jovi at Soldier Field Night #2 (July)
My hometown. My childhood best friend. Turn the Page. Damned. Need I say more? LOL

7. Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes in Amagansett (September)
What a night!! There was a hurricane-ish. There were great songs. There was free wine all night. There was Jon Bon Jovi. *smile*

8. Lorenza Ponce at The Living Room (May)
I was lucky enough to see Lorenza perform several times during the year, but this one was made extra-special by the dozens of Jovi-ites who were able to attend and the kick-ass afterparty upstairs. Now, THAT was a record launch!

9. Southside Johnny/Jukes AND Bon Jovi at Blossom (July)
Ahhh, Cleveland ... but not quite. Couldn't miss going to this show knowing that my two favorite gangs o' guys would be there together. Ok, so Jon might have been a little loopy due to the pain meds, but he still rocked the whole evening.

10. The Tony Awards (June)
Theatre-wise, it was the year of MEMPHIS. Sure, I saw other things too but lordy, how many times have I seen that show?! So to be there when they won the Tony was out of this world. Don't think I've EVER cheered so loud. Oh, and the afterparty with the American Idiot guys was fun too ... painful the next morning LOL ... but a lot of fun at the time! Haha.

So there you have it. The year that was.

There were so many other good nights - Lifehouse, Daughtry, Melissa Etheridge, Sugarland, kazeedigs (and its poster that I still covet), Rick Springfield, new artists, old artists, other Jovi shows, other Jukes shows. Hopefully, there are more good nights to never know what tomorrow will bring, so you gotta live every day.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Rose Trees CAN Grow in New York City

Happy Thursday friends! ...oh and since this is the first post of 2011, Happy New Year! etc. etc. etc.

Well, the year certainly kicked off with a bang ... aka Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes NYE show at the Count Basie Theater in Red Bank, NJ. I really love that venue ... so many amazing memories over the years. Any of us who had the privilege of attending the Bon Jovi Christmas shows or Bobby Bandiera's Hope concerts there feels the same way I'm sure.

Historically, January and February are two of the slowest months in terms of performance activity. But not this year! The next several weeks look to be incredibly crazy, starting with the Jukes tomorrow night at HighLine Ballroom and ending with the Jon Bon Jovi & Friends show at Starland at the end of the month. And, let's not even discuss February/early March when the many-legged Jovi Centipede Tour struts thru the Northeast.

But for me, the highlight of the month is definitely Jeff Kazee/John Conte/Rich Pagano doing their "Early Elton Trio" show. The first (and actually only) time I've seen them was last March and I've been hoping/begging/praying for another performance ever since. (Note to Maestro Kazee: Sorry for all the cyber-nagging ... well ... not really that sorry.)

Anyhoo, why did I love this show so much?

First off, it's just excellent music. I mean, seriously ... how can you NOT love "Mona Lisas & Mad Hatters"? I don't know ... maybe I have a special affection for that song because I live in NYC. Or maybe because the lyrics feel representative of (my) life -- some paradoxical mix of resignation and optimism. *sigh* Whatever the reason, I can't wait to hear the guys do that one.
And now I know
Spanish Harlem are not just pretty words to say
I thought I knew
But now I know that rose trees never grow in New York City
This Broadway's got
It's got a lot of songs to sing
If I knew the tunes I might join in
I'll go my way alone
Grow my own, my own seeds shall be sown in New York City
--Elton John/Bernie Taupin
Secondly, I love to see (good) musicians doing what they love. And, you're talking some awesome talent. By the way, if you ever want to experience true kick-ass bass playing, just go to a Jukes show and listen to John Conte tear it up on "Trapped Again." #justsaying

I think it is important to say that I am not a fan of impersonators and this show is definitely NOT that. We aren't talking fake personalities and questionable costumes (no! the guys actually dress that way 'normally' LOL) ... we're just talking great songs written by great artists performed by great musicians. So, there you have it: beauty can grow in New York City.

Here's the guys at work...

Also, check out their performance of Amoreena.

I will certainly be there. If you live in/near NYC, hopefully you can join me. Here are the details:

Friday, January 14th at 8:30pm
Early Elton Trio
Rockwood Music Hall
196 Allen Street
Tickets: $12 advance/$15 day of (really, $12?! that's sacrilegious ... worth SO much more!)

Have questions? Need directions? Feel free to contact me at

p.s. also at Rockwood later in February (2/19) is Outside the Box, a good young band from the Jersey Shore (the real Jersey Shore if you catch my drift)...the 1am start time is a killer, though. I'm getting too old for this!