Sunday, December 31, 2017

Live and Let's Fly

Like an Eagle 

     Amazing. Experiences. Making Soul. It's all we take with us so why not now: "take a chance while you still have the choice." I ask myself in December 2016 after too much grief and pain compounded years done: time to look up and away and out --time to make some sweet times new. Fifty, 50, a half century old is the date for me this 2017. Taste the air fresh and make it happy again. Then a good business transaction gave me some cash to be spontaneous and grab that first ticket, that first compulsive reason for why and how to conquer it alone, and that first launch into an adventure, seeking memories for my very own happiness' sake.
     I had travelled to Washington, D.C. 2016 December, missing out on some guitar time with my dear nephew, but coming home with nice family vibes and a new ease about travel. First and foremost my dog was safe while I could leave and I would never again if that could not be. Finally with some ease of mind that my baby was in good hands while I ventured a few days out alone, I started plotting and planning a special year of live music events. Round-out to my other happiness factor: my guitar. Killing pain, I had spent every evening the last 2 years hovering over my music collection, a joint and a Jameson, and my (finally built project) Stratocaster. There was already good mojo in the thing from building it (much help from dear friends), and now there was imbibed vibe and overtones from me hovering with it over my lost brother, Django. I played soothing tunes for him as we lost mobility to death. It's impossible to express the depth of this connection, but I can say as I write this it is still plugged in ready for the evening on the same clear strings that I haven't yet been able to bang out of tune.
     (Long, long lost) feeling again what I wanted to do with it, I decided to observe as much stance and provenance on the instrument as possible. I had a good early seat for the Hendrix Project in March, so as much as I could muster with times and available bucket funds (and worked-for-it-karma), I seriously set to see more guitar heroes of mine.
     My heart (and nightly bandmates) for the last straight year had been with Joe, the James Gang, Eric, Ten Years After and Alvin. When the House of Blues dates came up I was playing So What and Rides Again by rote and all I had was callused appreciation for Joe. His playing was lightbulb for me and the last year learning riffs and songs had been deep medication. Gratitude in hand, I booked the meet/greet with floor seats (the man can stand playing for me I can certainly stand too)! Wow, it was way too fast (and you never can chat about everything you want (and think about saying)), but you shake hands and stand together smiling for a few moments. Wow. Hard to tell him how much my handmade Strat meant every time I strummed "Mother Says" or how much "Help Me Thru the Night" really meant to my life too. The GA seat was front center #1 so I couldn't have experienced better --I watched my hero PLAY!    Thank You, Joe! I love that I grew up with your music, my first cassette was 'But Seriously, Folks', and I can actually play "Funk 49" now. I watch the Rockies games with my dad and hear "Rocky Mountain Way" every time they close a win! 
  • January 21     Joe Walsh                        House of Blues, Las Vegas                              ** Waddy Wachtel    
    Waddy Wachtel & Joe Walsh
  • January 24     Karin Allyson                            Dazzle Jazz, Denver 

  • February 19   James Hunter Six    Baur's Listening Lounge, Denver 
    The James Hunter Six
  • February 21   Rene Marie                                Dazzle Jazz, Denver 

  • March 7        Experience Hendrix         Paramount Theatre, Denver                               ** Billy Cox, Buddy Guy, Dweezil Zappa,        Chris Layton, Zakk Wylde, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Mato Nanji,      Ann Popovic, Jonny Lang, Scott Nelson, Noah Hunt, Henri Brown,   Tim Austin, The Slide Brothers             
    Buddy Guy, Tim Austin, Billy Cox, Mato Nanji
  • March 28      Gypsy Swing Review                   Dazzle Jazz, Denver                              ** Kristi Stice 

  • April 16        Neil Bridge                                  Bull & Bush, Denver 

  • May 4           Christian McBride Trio               Dazzle Jazz, Denver
    .... last of the old Dazzle stage listening room ....
  • May 17         Eliane Elias                                 Dazzle Jazz, Denver 

  • June 14         Hamilton DeHolanda           Dazzle @ Baur's, Denver 
    Hamilton and his 10-string bandolim
  • June 24         King Crimson                         Bellco Theatre, Denver 
    NO CELL PHONES! (until Mr. Levin takes his out then..OK)!
     Most intense, most musically challenging, most notes, my brain hurt in blissful numb when this concert was over. Three (3) drum SETS playing unison full to harmonic, dissonant tapestry that was just ...insanely marvelous. I truly thank a friend for tipping me to this happening -along with James Hunter- and locking in some aural goodness (and beer and wine) by some very real tickets. Great venue, Bellco, aptly suited for an erudite crowd, I admit I've never experienced a better, more respectful listening audience. As we filed in we're greeted with beautiful Tibetan bowl singing and 2 giant placards reading ABSOLUTELY no cell phones! Introductions said the same, but added "Mr. Levin likes to take photos of you so when he takes his phone out you're welcome to take as many as you like." I never saw one cell phone glow until taking that picture when we all dove in --just a great concert moment! Elite like the music, the only lights were cast from a single light bar directly over the stage. Never garish, it transitioned hues over the musicians and their glistening tools just as their music did, gently swaying emotions, temperatures, and thought with the songs. True to their name, a stage so intensely lit crimson I have never seen elsewhere. Simple was powerful, especially in The Court of the Crimson King.
     I must also make noted transition here (nyuk ;-), as the best jazz club in the region moved their premises this May/June. Real-estate is a b*^)# around Denver, so they moved into the Baur's space closer to downtown and the improved proximate amenities, public, and parking. Baur's was already a listening lounge regularly booked by the M|A|S, so it fit to see the move despite the kerfuffle and building pains. We've seen many shows since and it's been a good transition. Cheers to great music!
     And speaking of vinyl, I've been affectionate to as many stacks of the vintage sleeves I can find and sift through lately. What's been best is a long hot summer day walking good lazy riverside with my beautiful German Shepherd then a nice drive, jaws-out-the-window to the cool record store, walking through much historic bliss with nice pettings and wagging tails, coming home to a cool house with cool finds and rounding evenings out with sweet hot vintage music, loud as *%&^ thru the Klipsch and the good whiskey! O my, there is such a good argument to be made for growing up in the analog 70s when sitting and listening to displacing speakers was really something (still is here, fyi, so come on over)! Anyway, of particularly painstaking perusal prowess prior to a performance haste I give you a pic of this accumulated respected repertoire...

  • July 31          Steve Miller Band         Red Rocks Amphitheater, CO                              ** Peter Frampton  
    Frampton Comes Alive!

    Red Rocks Amphitheater

    "Somebody Get Me a Cheeseburger!"
  • August 8       Dweezil Zappa           Arvada Center for the Arts, CO  
    The Others Of Intention /
  • August 9       Diego Figueiredo                 Dazzle @ Baur's, Denver

  • August 12     KUVO Live at the Vineyards                                                                                                 Balistreri Vineyards, Denver              **Bobby Watson's All-Star Quartet, Kansas City Jump Band                             
  • August 13     Colorado Music Hall of Fame                                                         Fiddler's Green Amphitheater, Greenwood Village, CO              **Joe Walsh,  Joe Vitale,  Kenny Passarelli,  Bill Szymczyk, Michael Martin Murphy,  John Oats,  Nitty Gritty Dirt Band,     Amy Grant & Vince Gill,  Todd Park Mohr,  Randy Owen,            Richy Furay,  Garth Brooks                                 

    ..nice Barnstorm presale seat, but forgot about that POST IN THE WAY!

    R.I.P.  Dan Fogelberg
  • August 15          Neil Bridge Trio             Dazzle @ Baur's, Denver                                **Steve Denny  
    point <> counterpoint, student <> master
    Empire State

    "Blowin' In The Wind"

    Electric Lady
  • September 7      Bill Charlap Trio                                                                                         Village Vanguard, Greenwich Village, NYC                               **Lee Konitz      
    ..sacred corner of jazz history
  • September 8      Eric Clapton             Madison Square Garden, NYC                               **Jimmy Vaughn, Gary Clark, Jr.  
    September show @ The Garden 


    Gary Clark, Jr., Jimmy Vaughn, Eric Clapton
     I have never been to New York until this trip. January to Las Vegas had me excited and confident and I really (really) wanted to see Eric. Honestly, (and playing his music so much for so many years now I know why), I'M SO GLAD I "just did it" despite the exorbitant ticket costs. The year had spoiled me regarding seats though, so I made as much an effort to see my hero PLAY and went for as close as possible. I know for fact the 1st rows those 2 nights were going for an insane 4 grand! I settled into a very comfortable row 11 thank you very much. Legendary performer on hallowed, historic stage, I pocketed the ticket and just got there.
     Keeping the musical precedent for my NYC venture, I sought another highlight my 2 nights there taking a first bite of that big apple. My jazz roots honed in on a show at the Village Vanguard. I did alright, after a great day with an awesome walking group around Greenwich and getting my Bleecker St, Blue Noted, Electric Lady bearings. I walked back like an arrow that evening from my hotel, sucking up a great pizza slice along the way, then positioning smartly right next to the drummer, Mr. Washington. Insane jazz ..just ..fantastic. So this cool ol' gent shuffles in mid-1st tune, sits just right of us on the back bench and starts to unpack his velcro bag. He stands after a bit and starts to join in with his alto sax, taking solo in queue and rounding out with some melodic scat singing. "Ice cream!" they greet him after the song and applause: "Ladies & Gentleman, please welcome Lee Konitz." Wowo .. legend right here on legend turf! The music just got better the rest of the night into the second set. Cheers to you my Bronx table friend, Willy. Piano men.
     This trip was all about the music for me so I visited few places I could that meant something to my musical roots. Awesome to wander and taste Greenwich, bike and listen to Central park, chat with the ESB roof attendant and stroll around Manhattan. I just took it all in and loved every minute. It truly doesn't sleep, and much I'd heard about it was true: hard to stop people from moving but when you do they'll give you their blood. I'm amazed so much humanity can be built into an area; consider myself world-travelled and from a major US city, but there truly is no comparison. NYC is so much of everything at any given time it is breathlessly timeless.


  • September 16      Farm Aid  2017       Full Televised Broadcast,                                                                  Burgettstown, PA                                                        I didn't actually attend this, but I did enjoy the full concert in my home with very nice screen & volume. It's been important to me now for years and I know I'll attend someday for real, but seeing Willie and Neil and John on stage this year was exciting and my donation was good. Thank you farmers! Keep US growing!                                                                                                                                               
  • November 8        Santana                      House of Blues, Las Vegas  
    "Soul Sacrifice"
  • November 19      Joe Walsh                   House of Blues, Las Vegas  
    "Life's Been Good"
     Can I just say what an incredibly awesome music year this has been!
     I made myself a good birthday this special five decades now, booking 2 great seats to Santana and setting aside some nice vacation time with pops. We booked a couple of nights at Mandalay Bay for the gig and added another LOVE show at the Mirage the next night. It was nice to have the company and we gratefully dined and drank well and relaxed in good style. The Cirque troupe had fine-tuned their show tremendously since we first saw them in 2015. It's definitely a must-see if you have any ear for Beatles. Everyone in Las Vegas talks about the Santana show with the same haloed reverence and the same comment that it's never the same. True. It's Carlos Santana and that is all you need to say.
     So, as the doctor seemed ordered I visited that fantastic venue again and cashed in on some free miles. Compulsively fast I went back stealthily solo and got rid of that stupid little guilt demon forever. Just do it  ...was and is a great adage. I did not have (or had not heard) Joe Walsh's Analog Man until I toted my signed new copies home from that so-cool January 21 show. When I went to the CMHoF in August, proud of my own Caribou Ranch connections and 1970s Colorado barnstorm childhood, I drove home late glorious unadulterated left fast-lane with that album full blast. I really felt awesome --after 6 weeks my truck was finally repaired shiny and "Funk 50" made a sweet loud I-25 sail (trust me narrows locals you know). With the same guitar-slinging homage I went back to House of Blues, sitting sweet 202 this time and soaking the best sound and the best visual stage. It was fantastic, humbling Walsh bookend to the year of so many good stages. Again .. calloused thanks and appreciation, Joe. "Never know until you try.." I met a Korean war veteran before the show, sitting there in front of HoB. I shook his hand in strong gratitude and chatted with him best I could vet-to-vet, and long enough to be very humbled by some stories. I mentioned the guy playing here tonight just kicked off a cool cause for veterans -it's called Vets Aid. I gave him a hearty salute, grateful that he wore his cap so everyone could see. Thank you all veterans.

     The year back home in honesty had been recovery from Mother Nature and her hailstorm wrath in May. My truck and house were pummeled with tennis ball ice and everything, unfortunately, took back seat to claims and reparations. I actually came back from NYC and painted my entire house by hand because of the new roof, notwithstanding the sudden need to make the improvements and get 'er done before the snow flies. Working often past dusk, I still took the evenings off with my guitar, as plugged in and playing soothed both the nerves and the dog. All of these icons and players I've seen were making sincere impressions on me. I'd come back home after each event and lose myself in those tasty approaches I'd just seen; the effect, the feel, and the vibe just had to get out. I got what I went for each of these shows: inspiration, and I always came back to the comfy home studio zone and wrote songs and tirelessly played 'til sunrise. Memories muscled and sights to seal the ears, my spirit is so much better and refreshed. Power of soul, I sealed this guitar year with a long-wanted Memphis ES-335 (thanks Alvin and Chuck). So the guitars have finally come back into my life as intended after many years of soulless drought. It's good to play well enough now again to express my heart and write my own songs. My new ES has '777' in the serial # (2017 build, btw, and I wish the best for Gibson and hope they concentrate again on this icon and make things shine again). A cumpulsively random Karmic purchase calling me to it like a magnet in early December, I find it consoling the machine that helped finance the first adventure to all these 'guitar' adventures this year was a serial # 777. Good luck indeed --nice circle.

     Last entry here for this entire 2017: I made a sweet solo drive up to Casper, Wyoming. The Foo Fighters had been back on my brain, seeing that fabulous concert in Greece on PBS. ƒƒ always have sent the 1st happy birthday email since I signed up 2002. Dave has been another hero to me (living a rocknroll life that I left for domestic in 1987). When I got back to that November Joe Walsh concert, I was able to watch the video show completely this time. So cool the photo montage, seeing so many musicians and great people through the years. No surprise to see Dave Grohl in many of those photos --so awesome to see him doing all that he's been doing within the mileau of all our music heroes. Good Fuel!
     So here's the deal mr memories 2017 music blogger post (so I can recall some later year with clarity, as well as give my nephew some guitar time): I got back from the Clapton concert, see, and was relieved numb and happy to be back home after all that effort. A comfy late summer day back with my dog I did just what I mentioned: at the record store I picked up a great EC CD set, and while perusing, went up and actually asked what it was we were listening to (hunch knowing). "That's the new Foo Fighters album just released today" ... no sh*&t , serendipity, grab copy, and listen all the way home all week loud wow! I went to their site and saw this amazing 2018 tour already mostly sold out, no Denver date, but a cool show just 4hrs north of me. Hmmm. Last hurrah frosting on the year got a ticket and booked a room, then braced for a December drive through treacherous snow (so, yay too, finally got needed new tires). Perhaps not strangely, there was a reminiscent urge too of a young me that drove a couple buddies 150 miles in treacherous snow and ice in my ol' Mustang to see Yngwie Malmsteen in December 1986....). So easy dog safe with pops and his pup for a night, I made a smooth drive to the Hilton there and settled in my room by 11:30pm --not a worry at all about Wyoming wind or snow. Nice to sleep in, I had breakfast and just walked the green belt before relaxing back at the hotel. Pure luck this was the same place where the band was staying (buses parked right next to my truck next morning early after coming down from the Montana show the night before--just incredible huge fast moving entourage of rockstar crew. I had walked up to the venue that day and dropped my jaw at all the semis parked there in the back lots). Walking back to the lobby I got to to say hey with Tyler and Nate. Chance good proximity along with a lot of great Colorado Foo fans who had done the same driving up dedicated for an incredible small show. Awesome indeed -just pure rock concert. Another new album of music --fantastic work from a great band. I picked up a vinyl copy of Concrete And Gold at that show. High plains great drive fresh tires going home the next morning blaring Mountain and Rush and everything else,  I settled in good on that vinyl copy that evening home done year finally done. Needless to say, (even savoring the flip break to spin side 2), the neighbors heard the album that night! And I will say, most definitely, I AM AN ANALOG MAN!

Rock On (and keep your T-shirt clean)!
  • December 6        Huston Person               Dazzle @ Baur's, Denver 
  • December 10      Foo Fighters                Casper Events Center, WY 

Rest In Peace

Tommy Allsup
Chuck Berry
Greg Allman
Glen Campbell
Tom Petty
Fats Domino
Malcom Young