Heart – The Beat Goes On

heart-2013-tourHeart made a stop at the Comcast Center in Mansfield, MA to rock a warm, humid night last Friday.  Fresh off their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last spring, Ann and Nancy Wilson brought the latest incarnation of the band out for an audio and visual feast that more than fully satisfied the musical belly of the nearly sold-out venue.

With food like this I could gorge day after day.

Heart could have played for three days and still have had plenty left in their tank.  They came onstage and unleashed a set that was almost in a perfect chronological order of hit after hit covering their successes from the seventies, eighties, and nineties.  The band was tight, the sound was extremely well-crafted, and I learned first-hand that Ann Wilson can still belt out vocals that simply put her on a different plane than most female singers.

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How The Music Industry Has Changed

slide-pot-mixing-boardI’m going to show my age here but I don’t care, I’m not ashamed of my age.  Could you imagine what I’d have to do if I were?  Organ transplants, plastic surgery, hair implants and all kinds of other things.  I was watching Late Night with Jimmy Fallon the other night and one of his guests was Tommy Mottola.  For fifteen years Mottola was the head of Sony Entertainment (parent of the Columbia label).  He is a co-owner of Casablanca Records.  Oh, and he was married to Mariah Carey for a while.  At the moment he is married to Mexican singer Thalia.

Fallon and Tommy were talking about Mottola’s career.  I must say, that career is pretty impressive.  He helped Hall and Oates land their first recording contract, and he was the talent manager for a few artists you may have heard of, like Carly Simon, John Mellencamp, Diana Ross,  and Taylor Dayne in the 80’s.  In the 90’s he handled Mariah Carey, Gloria Estefan, Shakira and Anastacia.  He represented Jennifer Lopez in the early 2000’s.  That’s quite a list.  Mottola is also viewed as someone who revolutionized the promotion of music through new mediums like music videos and corporate sponsorship for music tours. (more…)

CD Review: Rod Stewart – Merry Christmas, Baby

Each of the past few years, just before Christmas, Kim and I seem to pick up a new Christmas CD.  We’ve experimented with compilations, hard rocking sets, standards, even soundtracks from some of our favorite television Christmas classics.  Yesterday we picked up Rod Stewart’s new Christmas CD titled Merry Christmas, Baby.  We got home, jumped into the spa and gave it a listen.  The phrase really, really, really impressed doesn’t begin to describe how we feel about this holiday offering from one of rock’s legends.

Rod Stewart - Merry Christmas, Baby

After listening to the CD it’s quite apparent Rod didn’t put this disk together as a means to make some quick cash by putting out a Christmas album.  This disc is eloquently produced and arranged.  Rod is in top form here and proves that he can still hit the high notes.  His vocals are clear, honest and thoughtful.  Most of the CD is a smooth, bluesy trip into Christmas standards like Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, White Christmas, Winter Wonderland, Blue Christmas and Let It Snow!  Let It snow!  Let It Snow! (more…)

Mission Accomplished

I’m awake early on the day after Thanksgiving.  Why?  No, I’m not participating in any of the Black Friday shenanigans.  That’s not me.  I’m up early because we achieved all of our goals on Thanksgiving Day.

GOAL #1 – Coffee while reading news headlines on my laptop followed by making a classic breakfast of eggs, sausage and toast.  This goal was a necessity because Thanksgiving is a drinking holiday for us and it is imperative to get things started with caffeine and food in our systems.  CHECK.

GOAL #2 – Get into the swim spa with our designated drinks of the day and get the party started.  It was a beautiful fall day in New England without a cloud to be found in the sky.  It was 55 degrees and the spa was set to 100 degrees.  A nice, relaxing two hours in the spa puts a warmth into your body that lasts for hours afterward.  We enjoyed the spa while Cheli layed in the grass on a gorgeous day. (more…)

Thankfully, Davy Jones Was No Whitney Houston

Davy Jones passed away last Wednesday of a heart attack.  He was 66.  He was also a huge, wonderful part of my life while growing up.  Yes, I watched The Monkees every week, and yes, I saw the first run episode of The Brady Bunch when he made Marcia a hysterical mess by going to the prom with her (although I didn’t realize they had proms in junior high school).  That was a different time than now, obviously, but it sure was a great time.  It was a time when we could believe in something and not have it torn down by the oversaturation we have these days.  We all knew Davy as a short dude from Manchester, England who could sing, dance and act and that was good enough for us.  The girls were seduced by his charm and pin-up good looks.  He was the first of his kind and quite possibly the last of his kind.

I found it interesting to compare the lives and deaths of Davy Jones and the recently departed Whitney Houston.  Both were big performers, both were celebrities, both were talented in many ways, but the similarities stop there.  Once fame was achieved, one chose a path of self-destruction while the other chose the road of enjoying life.  One rested on laurels and one continued doing the things he loved to do without controversy, without drug busts, without domestic violence, without stints in rehab and without winding up in the tabloids.

The other comparison I found interesting and somewhat disturbing was how Whitney Houston’s death was described by many as a major tragedy while the news of Davy Jones’ passing was met with little fanfare and almost a ho-hum attitude.  When it comes to the contributions both of these people made to our society, I found that to be a backward model and a sorrowful reflection of what’s important to us today.  I guess it comes down to how you put a value on one’s life after they’ve gone.  Everyone measures that differently.  I choose to measure it by the positive impact you have made on society or individuals while you’re here. (more…)

I Had A Frampton Flash Forward!

Sometimes our interest is piqued by curiosity, the unknown or the simplistic want of adding to our own internal Rolodex of knowledge.  Our interest can also be heightened by something we already know and are comfortably familiar with.  Where real-life surprises can happen is when you experience something you’ve always known that completely amazes you at an entirely new level.  Something that so exceeds your expectations you feel the need to tell people about it.

Last night at the Lynn Memorial Auditorium in Lynn, MA, I had a Peter Frampton flash forward.  It was like going back in time to see the future.  I was a witness to this old, weathered guitar God of the 70’s and 80’s up on a stage with his trademark Gibson Les Paul, his fingers moving up and down that fretboard with lightening precision, a band that was tight and very well rehearsed and a smile on this God’s face that reminded us all about the real reason why rock and roll exists in the first place.  Here he was, Peter Frampton, performing the entire Frampton Comes Alive set list, a knock down version of Soundgarden’s Black Hole Son and a spattering of other recent tunes, loving every minute of the chance to once again grace the stage with his unique, timeless talents.  You can easily tell he has learned many things about life on and off the road since those days when women drooled over his long blonde locks and bare chest.  He’s been through the typical rock and roll grinder and has come out on the other side a fresh, vibrant, meaningful performer on the stage that is once again his and at his command. (more…)