Wednesday, December 12, 2012

RIP: Ravi Shankar

Sitar virtuoso and famed Indian musician, Ravi Shankar, passed away yesterday. Like many others my age, I was introduced to Ravi and all Indian music, through the Beatles. Hopefully, this is last of these events for the holiday season.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

RIP: Dave Brubeck

Jazz pianist Dave Burbeck passed away today. I was first introduced to his music through Keith Emerson, who used Blue Rondo a la Turk as a frequent encore piece, throughout his entire career.

Although I never got to see Dave live or meet him in person, I did know his son, Dan, since he lived around Woodstock, and played in Jazz Fusion band called the Dolphins.

Guess I'll have to listen to Time Out tonight.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Thomas Dolby at the Parish

This past Wednesday, I had a second opportunity to see Thomas Dolby in less than a year. This show was originally slated for Lambert's, but was subsequently moved to the Parish, because of strong ticket sales. Both places are small, intimate venues, so I was very encouraged that the sound would not be an issue this time, unlike the last.

The Marquee

I originally found out about this show, because I subscribed to his mailing list several years ago, when he reemerged with The Sole Inhabitant tour, after almost 15 years away from the performance stage. In the interim, Thomas had moved to the Silicon Valley in the US, and launched a very successful Music/Technology company, Headspace, that had made the Beatnik plug-in for web browsers. In fact, wanting to work there, I had seriously contemplated trying to go have an interview Headspace, at one point.

About a month or so before the show, the mailing list had a message that if you replied with a copy of your ticket receipt, you would be put on a VIP list for an after the show Meet and Greet. So, of course I did that. In the end, it meant that I received a wristband, and was allowed to stay after the show and get an autograph. No pictures, though. (Not what I expected, but you get what you pay for ;)

The opener for the show was local, Austin band, Knifight. They sort of fit with Dolby, although I didn't find them too engaging, to be honest. Dolby went on just before 10PM and played close to 2 full hours. His band was very good, and the sound was excellent. I was unable to find the names of the musicians, but do know that it was supposedly the first gig for his bass player, who was fantastic, none the less.

Thomas Dolby

I made a vain attempt to capture the setlist, but I am not familiar enough with his material after 1984, to immediately identify some of the songs, in his catalog. He had explicitly asked the crowd after saying that it was the bass player's first gig, whether we wanted him to play it safe or throw caution to the wind and play what struck him at the moment. The crowd said to go for it, so I'm not sure how close it was to this setlist, from the night before, in Boulder. Clearly, at least one Boulder fan has their shit better together, than I do ;)

Thomas Dolby

All and all, it was a great night of music. I left having an even greater appreciation for Thomas as a songwriter, after the night was concluded.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Peter Gabriel at Red Rocks

TOAPP Camp pays Dividends

I try to keep tabs on the various musicians I admire through their websites. In the case of Tony Levin, I was already tracking his site in preparation for camp this past August.

On one of my regular visits to Tony's site last spring, I noticed that he was going out on tour with Peter Gabriel, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the release of So. After carefully looking over the tour dates, I zeroed in on the Red Rocks show.

I had always wanted to see a concert at this legendary venue, this show was on a weekend, the Ravens played on the Thursday night before that weekend, and I had close friends in Denver (no hotel required). Shot, score!

The Pièce de résistance came at camp. Tony had a sign-up sheet, and promised to try and get any campers with tickets to one of the Peter Gabriel shows, back-stage/hospitality passes. Browsing the list at camp, I could see that myself and 3 other campers would be present at the Red Rocks show.

Arriving Early at the Venue

The Park which includes the Amphitheater is in the foothills of the mountains, southwest of Denver. I estimate that it somewhere between 1,000 to 1,500 ft above Denver. The drive in is stunning and breath-taking, as you slowly climb the hills heading toward the large sandstone formation.

We arrived at the Box Office early in order to pick up the passes. I was given 2 passes. I used one myself and gave the other to my friend's spouse, who was also a big fan. She had enough wisdom to take a lot of pictures, some of which are mixed in with mine in this post. (Thanks Sarah!)


As you can see in the picture above, it is quite a workout walking up the ramp to the base of the amphitheater. The air was particularly thin for a low lander like me.

On the way to the entrance to the back stage area, I stopped to take a picture of the empty venue from the front of the stage. As you can see, the seats have a respectable slope. The capacity is said to be approximately 9,500.


The small group of about 20 of us was led to the Hospitality area. It was well stocked with drinks, and snacks. It was one of three such areas, that I observed. There was quite a bit of activity back stage, all well organized, and running like clockwork.

Hospitality Suite


After a short wait, Tony arrived and welcomed us all.


Of course, one of the first orders of business was to take a shot with the 4 TOAPP campers.


While Peter himself didn't make back to our room, keyboard player, David Sancious, did stop by. Also present, as a fan, rather than a performer on this night, was Paul Richards, from the California Guitar Trio.


Guitarist David Rhodes was the last band member to stop by our suite. Here you see him posing with my friend, Sarah.


The Openers

Of course, the back stage fun had to came to an end. So, we found our seats in the amphitheater. Ane Brun was originally supposed to be the opener for this tour, but she had became unexpectedly ill.

As a result, Peter's backing singers, Jennie Abrahamson (on piano) and Linnea Olsson (on cello) played a set of Jennie's music. It should come as no surprise that the acoustics in this venue are exceptional, and this only enhanced, an outstanding performance. I am not familiar with Jennie's music, but have ordered a CD, after hearing her.

As the show began, a nearly full moon was visible above the stage, and the lights of downtown Denver were visible, down below, behind the stage.

Peter's Band takes the stage

The stage change over was completed in short order, at which time Peter walked out on stage, and announced that the show would be served as 3 courses:

  1. An appetizer
  2. A main course
  3. And desert ( the So album in its entirety)

Peter Gabriel

Peter's band consisted of the following personel:

The setlist seems to be constant during the tour. It contained several magic moments. Peter was also able to get the entire crowd to sing along, at several key times.


The last note of the show ended at 10:58PM. (Two minutes before the 11PM curfew). For the remainder of my days on this planet, I will never forget this night.


On the way out, I snapped one last picture of the crew breaking down the stage.

Breakdown after the show

Post-show Update

Tony Levin has posted some of his pictures from the show.
Tony Levin's page

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Devo and Blondie at Stubbs


I bought these tickets a while ago, even though I wasn't thrilled about the venue, Stubbs BBQ. I'm always up for seeing the Spudboys from Akron, they are one of my favorite bands and I've seen them many times over the past 35 years.

For this show, Devo were the openers. I'm not sure if they are switching off with Blondie or not. The lineup is still the Mothersbaugh and Casale brothers, and Jeff Friedl on drums. Unfortunately, with a split bill like this, their set list was shorter than normal.

Devo at Stubbs

The only other comment I have, is that the doors opened at 6:30PM, and Devo started fairly early.


So, during my punk rock days in high school (the late '70's if you must) I bought a copy of Parallel Lines, when it was first released. While I had always enjoyed the album, I had never seen the band live, nor listened to any subsequent releases.

Debbie Harry is now 67 years of age, is in better shape than some 30 years old I have seen. Her backing band included:

  • Chris Stein - original member and current guitartist
  • Clem Burke - original member and current drummer
  • Leigh Fox - bass
  • Matt Katz-Bohen - keys
  • Tommy Kesseler - guitar

I enjoyed the second set, which you can find listed here. Although I took several pictures with the iPhone, none of them were clear.

I had a great time, but I was surprised at the fact that I was leaving the venue at 10:30. Well within the noise ordinance limits.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

RIP: Michael Burks

I have been listening to music podcasts for over 7 years, ever since I bought my first iPod Mini. One of my favorites is the Roadhouse podcast, which is published weekly. The host, Tony Steidler, is very passionate about the Blues genre, and has managed to secure very favorable terms with several Indie record labels, including Alligator Records, to play their catalogs.

Four years ago, I was listening to a show, and a singer/guitarist from Arkansas, really caught my ear. I found out his name was Michael Burks. I immediately went out and bought several of his albums, and listen to them often.

Fast forward to last night, I'm listening to the Roadhouse again, and immediately recognize that one of the songs is Michael. During the segue, Tony mentions that Michael passed away at the age of 54, on May 6th of this year. I cursed the fact that I never got to see him play live.

All I can say is, If you like SRV, Robert Cray, or Buddy Guy, then you will enjoy Michael's music, too. Even though this news is 4 months late, I couldn't let it pass without a mention.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Three of a Perfect Pair Camp - Sophomore Year

Day 0 - 8/19/2012

Preparation for this trip was much easier, since I pretty much knew what to expect from last year. I flew into Newark Airport the day before, and spent the afternoon with some friends in New Jersey, before heading up to Middletown, NY. I crashed early, knowing that I was looking at some long days and nights.

Day 1

Waking up early the next morning, I headed over to Alto Music to rent some gear, and then drive up to Big Indian from the west. This trip is very scenic, and takes you by Rondout Reservoir, part of the NYC water system.

Rondout Reservoir

I arrived at the Full Moon about 45 minutes early, stumbling upon the entrance just as I was beginning to think that I had gotten lost. I immediately saw my friends Steve and Dawn Webster (from last year's camp) and Markus Reuter talking in the parking lot. Said hello to them and proceeded inside to get my keys.

TOAPP 2012 Welcom

After getting my room key, schwag, and throwing my suitcase in the room, I ran into Pat with Deb's son, Jeremy Minten (another Austinite). We walked to the barn, to help set up. John Sinks and Bob Frazza already had things well in hand.

Shortly afterwards, almost everyone else arrived, and we convened in the Barn to be welcomed by the band. Here they discussed the basic schedule (always subject to change), and took some questions. The rest of the day was filled with Happy Hour on the front lawn, dinner, and then a concert by Ade, Tony, Pat and Markus.

During the afternoon, I took John Sinks up on his offer from last year to learn about sitting and the first few exercises related to picking, from GC. He also showed me his electric mandolin, a very cool instrument. Later in the week I did something similar with Jim Lange, who showed me a few more GC exercises.

The day (or night rather) ended with the jams, kicked off by Tony Levin playing a blues with some of the campers in the Roadhouse. I spent my time in the Cafe jamming with several people, and had a great time.

The only problem of the day was losing some of the photos from my iPhone while transferring them to my laptop, due to a bad cable. Fortunately, I had a back up cable to prevent further loss.


Day 2

I woke early, and really enjoyed my coffee in the crisp mountain air. As you can see, the weather was beatiful. Mornings at the Full Moon are always punctuated by Breakfast. Once again, everyone I spoke to was very happy with the food service at the resort. You very much look forward to meal times during the week.

The Valley View House

The morning began with a Q&A session about what it takes to run a band, and how this differs from being a session guy and/or side-man. Of course, the campers had plenty of questions, and the band relayed some interesting personal stories, particularly the mistakes they had learned from.

Later, during lunch, Pat had a copy of the first contract he signed. It was somewhat humorous in that it seemed like it was for an indentured servant, rather than a drummer.

Campers Listen

Band Seminar


Before lunch, the Adrian, Tony, and Pat held classes about the gear and techniques they use. These were very interesting, even if you don't play guitar, bass or drums.

The band of course, is also looking to learn from the campers. During the bass session a camper Mike, from Christchurch, New Zealand (the furthest traveler this year) got up and showed off his custom made, 10 string bass guitar.

Kiwi Mark and his 10 string bass

After lunch, Tony Levin had prepared charts for Thrak in preparation for the Jam, on Wednesday night. The battle plan was to open and close with Thrak, and have a long improvisation in the middle.

The key parts of Thrak are that it has two accompanying parts one in 5/4 and one in 7/4. The lead line or melody is based on diminished (or symmetric) scales. Tony had prepared 50 copies of some handwritten charts in bass and treble cleft.

After class some enterprising campers with Sibelius on their laptops, transcribed these into prettier versions, as well as preparing charts in B flat for the one trumpet player in camp. People were rehearsing Thrak all over camp.

Northern Lights Lodge

During the day and afternoon, Markus and Tony were giving private one on one sessions with campers, as lessons. I asked Markus if I could learn something about Touch Guitar, with no previous experience on any stringed instruments. He said, most definitely, yes. So I signed up for a session, Wednesday morning. (More on that later).

In hindsight, I wish I had taken the opportunity with Tony, as well, because he wasn't just doing bass lessons. He was talking to people about the music biz, and asking what their goals were. The feedback from Tony and Markus was positive enough, that Adrian said he was looking forwarded to doing one on ones at the next camp.

None the less, Adrian did teach several classes devoted to mastering the parts of Three of a Perfect Pair, and reviewing Frame by Frame. These classes went surprisingly well, particularly Frame. A class of 30 was divided into two sections, playing Adrian's and Robert's parts, respectively. At the end of the first session, it was listenable. A testament to Adrian's ability to teach and communicate.

The day ended with a continuation of the being in a band seminar, followed by another late night of jams, at the Roadhouse. One camper, my friend, Marco Machero, got an unexpected treat. He was asked to join the band on Red, and nailed it!

Marco Plays Red with the band

Day 3

My morning consisted of waking at 7AM, followed by the three S'es, then breakfast. The morning consisted entirely of classes, and my appointment with Markus in the Yurt, was a half an hour into Adrian's first class. Rather than go to that, I hung around outside the Yurt, and looked at the Esopus Creek. (Managed to spot a hummingbird in the process!)

For my lesson, Markus strapped one of his custom made U8 guitars, on me. We went over how to properly balance and hold the instrument, and discussed the overall relaxation of the body. I was able to draw upon what I have learned as a pianist, particularly from the exercises in Gyorgy Sandor's book, On Piano Playing, as well as my past experience with Tai Chi Chuan. The rest of the lesson consisted of some exercises called the Son and the Daughter. These exercises were consistent with some of the Acoustic Guitar exercises John Sinks had shown me, during the previous day.

I discovered through my conversations with Markus, that many of the people selected for touch guitar during GC, started as pianists, including him. Not surprising, I guess. The biggest problem for me now, the cost of a touch guitar. I must say after trying a Chapman Stick and the U8, I much prefer the latter.

The Yurt

At the end of the morning sessions, a truck showed up for the setup and load-in of about 50 Amps began, for the large Jam.

Unloading the Amp for the Jam


Wednesday afternoon also marked the arrival of the remaining ABPT and Crimson Projekct members, Tobias Ralph and Julie Slick. A quick rehearsal was held for Thursday's show, but nothing anywhere near as comprehensive, as last year. Unlike last year's camp, this year they were coming off of a tour, not about to start one. From the get-go, everything was already tight.

Some highlights of the rehearsals during the camp were that we got to hear them play Sleepless, and Sex, Sleep, Eat, Drink, Dream, songs that they didn't play on the tour.

Full Double Trio

Other notable events occurred during the afternoon. The Full Moon Resort is host to multiple music camps, of which TOAPP is but one. While our camp was underway, Allman Brothers band drummer, Butch Trucks, was present with his manager, looking over the facilities.

Thrak Jam

After last years Jam, Tony decided to utilize a Crimson song as the launchpad, for the Mega Jam. This year, he settled on Thrak.

Charts were prepared, and classes setup to teach any camper with the desire, the key parts of the song. Pat conducted similar sessions with the drummers. I sat in on several of Tony's sessions, and decided to tackle the melody, which is based on a diminished, half-whole tone scale.

A smaller group of us joked about and an a cappella interlude, during the improv. We actually convened a mutant, barber-shop quartet to sing the diminished scale melody, accompanied by some drones. Tony thought it was a great idea, but when the actual time came, all of my cohorts backed out. ;(

The actual jam was about 40 minutes, and was a load of fun. The campers were joined by the entire Crimson Projekct, and Butch Trucks. Like last year, Bob Frazza, our fearless sound dude, made a recording of the jam in all of its glory. Tony then transferred it to USB keys, and one was given to each camper.

After participating in this for two years, I must say it's a lot of fun. I was disappointed however, that we didn't arrange a large group circulation. (Maybe next camp).

Tobias Ralph

Thrak Charts

Tony Conducting

The night concluded with yet more jamming in the Roadhouse.

Day 4




Jack and Ade

The last full day of camp is a little more relaxed, mainly because other people were packing up the band's gear for the show at the Bearsville Theater, on this night.

Adrian did another guitar class, and then band held a Q&A session, in the barn.
Things died down to around 2PM, and a group of us older farts, took a nap in the lobby of the main lodge.

As we were congregating out front waiting for the buses to take us to the Bearsville, famed Jazz drummer, Jack DeJohnette, arrived and toured the grounds with Butch Trucks. It made me wonder what was being planned, but I didn't find out.

After about a 35 minutes bus ride. (Our crew took the short bus, of course). We arrived at the Bearsville Theater in Woodstock, for dinner and the soundcheck.

The Bearsville Theater



I posted the set lists over here.

After the show, a significant number of the campers, the band, and families hung around a bonfire, down near the campgrounds. This went well into the night, with me finally crashing after 4AM. Just like last year, we hung out drinking shots and eating Doritos. (Thanks Stan!)

Day 5

The final day consisted of breakfast, taking a group picture and checking out.

Autograph Line


Saying Goodbye

Post camp

Unlike last year, there was no hurricane. I headed back up to Kingston after returning my gear to Middletown, and caught my old piano teacher, John Esposito's gig at Prospect Park, in Troy, NY. This put an extra punctuation point on the whole trip.

Only one question remains, When is the next camp? 2013 or 2014?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Protomen at the Red 7

Arrival at the Red 7

It seems the Protomen are still on the rise. Granted, there were two shows going on at the Red 7, but the line to get in to the club, was all of the way up the hill to Red River, and wound around the corner.

Many of the people around me were there to see the Protomen, and I talked for a while with a guy standing next to me, from New Braunfels. He was long time fan, and was joined by a friend, a filmmaker making a documentary about the band, who had toured with them full-time, when they played at Game Over video games.

When I got inside, it seemed both inside and outside were packed. There was really no AC inside for our show, so I pitied the bands in makeup and costumes.

Amanda Lepre

Like the show at Emo's that I saw last year. Amanda Lepre returned as an opening act. I got the feeling this was a different band than I had seen previously. She has very good vocal and guitar chops, so her 45 minute set was enjoyable.

Amanda Lepre


I didn't enjoy this band, as much as the opener. It seemed they were more costume and gimics, than music. If there had been AC, perhaps I would have found their 45 minutes more tolerable.


The Protomen

This time around, the Protomen opened with a Queen song, Flash. After finishing, the lead singer promised more Queen interspersed throughout the set. For the most part, however, the set consisted of material from their first two albums, sticking to the Mega Man theme.

The Protomen

I estimate that they played about 90 minutes, and sounded fairly good despite the crappy PA, and sweltering conditions. I'm hoping that perhaps they will be able to graduate to better venues in the future, with their rising success. It would be nice to see them at least once, in a venue that didn't feel like a sauna.

The Protomen

Towards the end of the show, they mentioned that they would be returning to the studio to records, Act III, which was great news. They did a one song encore, Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody, which was very well received. Everyone in the crowd was singing along, a sign that the band had the audience in the palm of their hand.

The Protomen

I still highly recommend this band, particularly if you want to catch a group on their way up. I know that I have always enjoyed their shows.


Someone did the honors, and posted the set list.

Monday, July 16, 2012

RIP: Jon Lord

As I logged on to Facebook tonight, I immediately saw a post by Keith Emerson that Deep Purple keyboardist, Jon Lord had passed away. Details of his prolific career can be found on wikipedia.

I will probably spend part of this evening listening to Machine Head.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Crimson Projekct and Dream Theater at the Moody

Crimson Projekct

Some friends of mine and I got these tickets ages ago. While excited at the prospect of seeing my friends again, I had been forewarned that they would only be doing a 45 minute set, opening for Dream Theater. The logistics were such too, that neither I, nor any of the other Austin campers were able to meet up with the band. Actually, I did run into Pat, but we were only able to talk briefly.

Set List

The music went by very quickly, but none the less, the crowd enjoyed it. My one take away from tonight was that Tobias Ralph and Markus Reuter are beasts.

  • B'boom - Thrak
  • Dinosaur
  • Elephant Talk
  • Red
  • Frame by frame
  • Thela Hun Ginjeet
  • Indiscipline


This night almost seemed like one big tease. Not matter, there will be plenty of time to hear Crimson music and socialize in late August, when I return to camp.


Dream Theater

Unlike my friends, I'm not a huge Dream Theater fan. I don't hate them, but I have long felt that they sacrificed musicality and soul, on the altar of technique. I found it kind of humorous that during the show, James LaBrie commented on that fact they are accused of having no soul, and then tried to disabuse the band of this reputation. If anything, he made matters worse drawing attention to this.

They were of course touring to support their new album, and also had new drummer, Mike Mangini. Honestly, I seem to really only like their early stuff, and so far, I'm still in the Mike Portnoy camp. Honestly, I think he will be back with the band in the future.

The setlist for the show can be found here.