Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Twenty Five Years Ago

Twenty Five Years Ago...

With a ticket I waited over 5 hours in line to purchase...

Some old fashioned way on a cold sidewalk before dawn-break...

I arrive at the Coliseum for Night One like a gladiator alone...

Completely enthralled at the spectacle of old and new Rock Royalty...

Here, of course, for The Stones but Guns N' Roses battle valiantly...

Cussing and spitting and imploding in front of tens of thousands...

My first ever witness to a full blown break up on stage.

Axl quits and falls awkwardly from the stage into the sea of madness...

Seizing the moment and sprinting the Olympic track like he planned it...

Rock N' Fucking Roll almost from another planet...

Yet the Glimmer Twins leave nothing to the imagination...

Winning the night and the crowd and the world once again...

The Olympic Torch burning brightly like the ultimate cigarette lighter.

Avoiding a punk-ass mugging on the way back to my car...

No one was getting this Steel Wheels Denim jacket...

The merchandise stand took credit cards.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Thirty Two Years Ago

Thirty Two Years Ago...

In the back of a car driven by a friend of a friend...

Heading eastbound from East Lansing...

Road-tripping all too soon from my supposed new home...

To see Roger and Pete and John but no Keith...

In a Teenage Wasteland stupor state of mind...

Expecting brilliance under the Dome...

But getting muddled and manic darkness instead.

Eddie Money duly entertained...

Yet The Clash egregiously agitated...

"Welcome to the Pontiac Trash Can..."

And The Who battled to bash the place down...

Awaking inexplicably back in a dormitory bunk...

I shake off the cobwebs and the rust and the dust.

Rock is Dead, they say...

And we could have been should have been...

Long Live Rock.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Thirty Three Years Ago

Thirty Three Years Ago...

On four of five sold out nights...

Reveling in the electric atmosphere of Pine Knob...

Perched on rainbow wall of painted rock-band logos...

Watching thousands of friends I do not know by name...

Leaping and Staggering and Dancing their way to the lawn...

To worship America's Greatest Live Band of All Time...

I find my strength and my peace and my place.

School is in and life is on and girls are an enigma...

But this place has become my Sanctuary...

And Seventeen feels like the long journey's end...

With Peter Wolf as my mentor, my guide and my light...

It's the One Last Kiss of summer...

And a Houseparty that must never ever end.

Thirty Three Years Ago...

The J. Geils Band and I were poised to rule the world...

And my Rock N' Roll die was cast.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Thirty Six Years Ago

Thirty Six Years Ago...

I lay burrowed in a dark brown bean bag chair...

In a room filled with flowery wallpaper and frilly bedding...

Sporting huge headphones that transported me to another dimension...

Hypnotized by the sounds that burned indelible images onto my brain...

Of dangerous love and gutters and discotheques and trash...

Of booze and pills and powders...

Of cocktail parties on the streets.

As the eight-track tape remained firmly lodged in place...

The awkward chunk of the switching regularly interrupted my utopia...

But only temporarily momentarily...

For I was days away from turning fourteen...

In the midst of the most complicated yet simplistic time of my life...

And The Rolling Stones were all that really mattered.

Thirty Six Years Ago...

Some things never change...

Except I need a new bean bag chair...

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Motley Crue in Grand Rapids Concert Review - The Final Tour is DOA

Motley Crue kicked off their Final Tour last night in Grand Rapids, MI...
and they bombed in a most spectacular D.O.A. train-wreck fashion unlike any mess I've ever seen.
Fire and Brimstone and Pure Disaster.

Motley Crue The Final Tour T Shirt

Here's a recap of the show, in my humble opinion...
Alice Cooper was phenomenal!

In a short opening set of just less than an hour, Alice ripped through hit after hit.  He brought out his new guitarist and his snake.  He looked great and sounded great.  The band got a chance to show off, there was confetti, an electrocution and a beheading.  All in a days work, Alice Cooper is the consummate showman and proved that Rock N' Roll is not dead.  But perhaps I should re-phrase that...

The audience watched Alice die on stage TWICE last night.
Then we all watched in horror as the headliner died for real.

Its hard to put into words how horrible and unprofessional last evening's concert really was.
The show literally came to a GRINDING HALT three separate times.
The first stoppage came just three songs into the ridiculously loud set when Tommy Lee broke his bass drum. Well, that led to some Mick Mars noodling until he clearly got fed up and the entire band disappeared for about 10 minutes.  "Tommy fucked that up!" said the team-player lead singer.

A few songs later, when the guitars went out Mick Mars screamed that he couldn't play because he had "no fucking ears" pointing to his malfunctioning earpiece monitor.

The band quickly lost the crowd during the third stoppage when it became apparent to all that this wasn't just a case of "first night jitters."  After being set up in the Van Andel Arena for two weeks prior to this opening night, the show was clearly under-rehearsed and technically flawed.  Again, I stress that Alice Cooper had ZERO problems with his set.

Tommy Lee on the CruciFly

Motley Crue may have bit off more than they can chew with this monster stage and overblown production, with a show that is as fat and bloated as the lead singer.  And I'm sorry, but does Vince Neil even know the lyrics to his own songs anymore?  We've all know for years that he can't hit the high notes, but he holds the microphone out to the crowd to back him up on EVERY FUCKING SONG.  It's a travesty that a front man can be this insulting to a paying audience.  He publicly blamed everyone but himself for the show's problems last night.  But here's a thought...take a look in the mirror Vince, if you can fit your inflated reflection into one, and take some heat for this debacle yourself.  Learn the words to your own hit songs and actually sing them.   Is that too much to ask?!

"I need to pray that we get through this set..." - Nikki Sixx onstage last night.
"They didn't..." - Me last night.

Motley Crue B Stage Encore

The only redeeming quality to the entire night was the encore B-Stage performance of 'Home Sweet Home'. When the band actually stripped down the bombastic noise and played their instruments, they sounded great.  Too bad the entire show couldn't be like this.

Will they right this ship and fix the mistakes by this weekend?  Probably not.  Sorry folks in Milwaukee, but you better prepare yourselves for an expensive let-down.  Don't worry though, the fire and smoke bombs will probably work properly.

Kudos also to the un-billed first band, the Raskins, who came on prior to the ticket's start time of 7:00pm. Sorry boys, I missed the first part of your set but the kickass closing run through The Stooges' "Search and Destroy" was epic!  Well Done!

"All Bad Thing Must Come To An End" is one of their own taglines to this end run
and from what I saw July 2nd, it's already over.

Here lies Motley Crue...
1981 - July 2, 2014.

#RIPMotleyCrue indeed.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Beck Opens For Beck At The Fox Theatre in Detroit! Concert Review

Beck fans in Detroit got a "Two For One" deal Saturday night when the scheduled opening act didn't show.
June 28th's concert at the fabulous Fox Theatre took on an air of uniqueness when an announcement was made around 8:45 to the rather antsy crowd…

Due to unforeseen circumstances(?), Beck would have to warm up the audience himself with an "acoustic" set before returning with his full "electric" set after a short intermission.  A first in my book and I'm guessing by the ecstatic reaction inside the Fox that everyone seemed perfectly cool with the unexpected lineup change!

On With The Show!

With his full band, Beck ran through a 10 song set filled with slower numbers and new tunes.  Posed with this bizarre position, he seemed in great spirits and the change-up really challenged the band to step up and deliver, which it did mightily! Beck even played a song that he wrote for Johnny Cash about 20 years ago, telling us that we've never heard it because he never sent actually sent it off to the Man in Black!

Yes, I've got a Devil's Haircut in my mind...

After a short break, Beck promised to rendezvous with us and come out with "guns blazing" and that's what he did with a power packed set filled with bombastic early versions of 'Devil's Haircut', 'Black Tambourine', 'Hell Yes' and 'The New Pollution'.

At one point deep in the evening, the dapper and slinky genius turned his back to the audience and stood in awe of his own band…"you guys are unbelievable!"

Beck and his band ROCKING Detroit!

It was a night full of surprises including the obligatory rock, funk, groove and pop mixed with giddy fun, quirky dancing and crime scene tape.  It had been a while since Beck had been in town but judging by the reception, he should now know not to stay away so long.

Even with its 'Sexx Laws', Detroit Rock City is "Where It's At"!

And seriously, the Fox Theatre is a FABULOUS place!
But what is the deal with all the late-comers jammed up in the aisles at the start of every show??

Even the Lion in the lobby was pleased!


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Peter Wolf Concert Review: The Ark in Ann Arbor

I do declare:
(with an exclamation point AND a period)

The Front Man extraordinaire played two sold out solo shows at The Ark in Ann Arbor on Sunday May 4th and Monday May 5th, proving once again that he's a Rock N' Roll force to be reckoned with.  Backed by a stellar three-man version of 'The Midnight Travelers', Wolf played out and laid out the history of Rock, Soul, Blues and Funk, with some Country and Bluegrass mixed in for good measure, all in two hours time.

The J. Geils Band, Wolf's OTHER outfit, is so revered here in Detroit that Peter admitted he was nervous about performing these two shows without them.  I can only imagine that he worried about the audience's ability to accept his presentation of mostly solo material in such an intimate setting without screaming for "Houseparty" or the "Southside Shuffle"!

If he ever doubted us before, he needn't worry anymore.  
Wolf had the entire room eating out of the palm of his well-worn hand from the moment he leapt into the spotlight.  From his trademark hair, fedora hat and skinny legs to his slinking stage-prowling swagger, this guy is the ultimate showman. I'm not sure that anyone else in the business could pull off what he did in Ann Arbor the last few nights.  He looks great, he sounds great, he is great.

Both evenings were sublime, with Wolf telling stories between almost every song.  The killer 400-seat venue quickly transformed into a living-room setting with Peter talking to us as old friends over old-stories of days gone by.  Except his stories all involve spectacular settings and spectacular individuals like Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Muddy Waters, Tennessee Williams, Merle Haggard and Mick Jagger!  What a life... I wonder if there is anyone famous left that Wolf hasn't shared a drink with?!

The set list was basically the same each night with solo gems like 'Growin' Pain', 'Long Way Back Again', 'Tragedy', 'Waiting On The Moon' and 'Long Line' mixed in with some crowd-pleasing Geils' numbers like 'Cry One More Time' and 'Give It To Me'.  The Monday night crowd was treated to a few extra encores, including 'Start All Over' and it seemed as if Wolf didn't want the love-fest to end. But a few selections each night truly stood out...

'Five O'Clock Angel', the pet-name of Tennessee Williams' first drink of the day, is such a powerful and moving song and was presented so masterfully both nights that it pulled on my inner-demons and conjured up that deep, dark craving for alcohol.  And I haven't even had a drink in almost a decade!  Whoa.

Pre-Show at The Ark in Ann Arbor...Front Row!

'Nothing But The Wheel' and 'When Women Are Lonely' really let the band shine. Duke Levine is an artist on the guitars, banjo and mandolin with exceptional string-bending Telecaster skills and it was a pleasure to sit directly in front of him both nights watching him quietly work his magic.  Marty "Dr. Jazz" Ballou on Stand Up Bass dropped the strong booming beat throughout the evening and Kevin Barry worked some ultra-cool lap steel guitar licks in as well as acting the foil for Wolf's crazy story-weaving antics.

We can only hope that Peter Wolf and The Midnight Travelers put out some promised new music in the near future. This group is capable of greatness and they deserve a continued run in the concert business.

To quote Wolf from the poignant 'Long Way Back Again' from his 1998 'Fool's Parade' album:
"It's a goodnight and all the stars are shining
I look back at the long old road a winding
And I just hope there's something there worth finding
It's a long way back again."

Thank you Peter Wolf, from the bottom of my heart.
Don't worry my friend, I thing you've got a future in this business yet.

No Camera Policy During Peter Wolf's Concert.  Kinda Nice!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Party With MTV's Nina Blackwood at The Henry Ford Museum!

The six words that absolutely changed my life and perhaps even altered the course of human history:
"Ladies and Gentlemen, Rock and Roll..."

MTV blasted off in 1981 with that stunningly simple introduction and the televised music video era was born. At the heart of the beast, between the constant 24 hour a day barrage of incredible visuals and sounds, was the five dynamic and uniquely individual VJ's: Nina Blackwood, Mark Goodman, Alan Hunter, J.J. Jackson and Martha Quinn.  This gang quickly became as famous as the Rock Stars that they introduced and kept music-junkies like me glued to our television sets, even if it meant skipping class or work so as not to miss a thing! Ahhh, the good old days...

Women Who Rock Preview Party

Fast forward to today and MTV is unrecognizable to a music lover like me.  But now, courtesy of the fabulous Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn Michigan, you can join me in celebrating our LOVE FOR MTV AND ROCK AND ROLL! The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland is presenting a new travelling display arriving here at The Henry Ford and running from May 17th - August 17th 2014 celebrating all things female in Rock N' Roll.

Women Who Rock: Vision, Passion, Power is a groundbreaking interactive exhibit featuring artifacts belonging to the greatest women in Rock N' Roll; from Janis Joplin, Tina Turner and Aretha Franklin to Joan Jett, Madonna and Lady Gaga.

Kicking the entire event off in GRAND ROCK N' ROLL FASHION is NINA BLACKWOOD herself. The stunning original MTV VJ is hosting a PREVIEW PARTY on Thursday May 15th at The Henry Ford. Don't miss out on this one-of-a-kind chance to hear the stories and see the exhibit before it even opens to the public.  Ever want to get "VIP" treatment or go "BACKSTAGE" at a rock show?  Well, here's your chance!  Or maybe it's even your opportunity to relive the old days and do it AGAIN.  (Don't worry, I won't tell. Your secret is safe with me!)

I recently got a chance to ask Nina a few questions in anticipation of her heading our way on May 15th.

Nina, Our town has such a spectacular Rock N' Roll history.  As you prepare to head for The Henry Ford Museum, can you share any Motor City-related stories, memories or Rock Star encounters with musicians from Detroit Rock City?

-I Have always liked Detroit...great music has come out of the city...from the Motown days straight thru to the MC5, Iggy and the Stooges, Bob Seger, Jack White, etc, etc.  Growing up in Cleveland Ohio there was a kinship with Detroit.  A lot of Michigan based bands played the city and of course we could hear Windsor Canada's flame thrower of a radio signal, CKLW!  I definitely still have a soft spot in my heart for the Motor City all the way around.  Recently I read two fine books about the area: 'Detroit City Is The Place To Be' by Mark Binelli and 'Detroit Rock City' by Steve Miller.  That being said, I am quite honored to be participating in the 'Women Who Rock' event in your city.

Thinking back to all those "Women Who Rock" that came through the MTV studios while you worked there, who stands out as the most genuine and easy to like?

-Tough question as I have several.  Chrissie Hynde and Joan Jett both personify straight ahead no frills Rock & Roll. Also both are animal lovers and vegetarians as I am :). Stevie Nicks...a one of a kind legend. Debbie Harry...the "coolest Rock Chick in the Universe" as Madonna once called her...pretty much say it all right there.  Ann and Nancy Wilson...I once asked them if they would adopt me as their Rock and Roll little sister...so very proud of them.  Annie Lennox...another exquisitely talented and unique artist...and also a vegetarian!

Any stand out as the opposite of genuine and easy to like?

-As for the opposite of genuine...I will keep those thoughts to myself! ;)

You always made your job at MTV look so easy.  Was it really as much fun as it looked?

-It was an amazing gig and time.  I feel so fortunate to have been part of the beginning of MTV which at the time was thoroughly groundbreaking.  Living in NYC was wonderful!  We (Mark Goodman, Martha Quinn and Alan Hunter) wrote a book which describes it all in detail. "VJ: The Unplugged Adventures of MTV's First Wave" really captures what the whole experience was really like.

Thanks Nina!  See you soon in Dearborn!

Tickets to the Women Who Rock PREVIEW PARTY on Thursday May 15th featuring MTV Original VJ Nina Blackwood, and also WDET's own Ann Delisi, are available NOW through May 9th, 2014, but they're going FAST!

Gain perspective and get inspired with a backstage pass to preview the Museum's new exhibit, along with a delectable strolling supper, open bar and amazing desserts!  Tickets are only $125 each and are available by calling (313) 982-6001 or by visiting the Henry Ford website: www.thehenryford.org 

THURSDAY MAY 15, 2014 FROM 6:00pm - 9:30pm



Friday, April 18, 2014

A New Best Friend

It took me almost 18 years,
but I've found another new best friend.

I've been rolling with seven best friends for a while now and really figured that at this point in my life that number wouldn't be changing.  And I was totally cool with that.  Great people have come and gone, passing through various stages of my life, but only a rare few have risen to the top and stayed there.  I'm sure that I'm not alone in this realization and maybe with that number I'm even better off than most.

True Friendship is a priceless gift from the heavens.

The Wifey gets the 'blue ribbon' for the simple and clear fact that she swooped in out of nowhere and transformed me into the person I am today.  My heart swells when I think of where we've been and where we're headed.  I am honored to call her my best friend, forever. My dad and my brother are in the mix too, even with a massive lifetime-amount of ups and downs. Whoa, I'm so lucky to still have them to lean on. When I take a look outside my immediate family, the number shrinks fast.

One friend has elevated himself from casual acquaintance to hanging buddy to genuine trusted mate.  It took some time, years actually, but our friendship has become something that I value immensely. Memo to him: Thank you for being always being there and please know that you can call on me whenever you need to.  Oh, and thanks for being a trusted reader of this humble blog of mine. You're a member of a VERY small club!

Three guys are cemented for life.  That die is cast.  I've known these loyals for a combined total of 125 years. That's a mind-blowing number, huh?  No matter what happens between us or how many miles separate us, I am bound to each one of them to the bitter end.  I'm so thankful for them and don't tell them that nearly enough.  So, on the odd chance that one of them actually bumps into this blog post...
Hi Friend. You have no idea how much I appreciate you.
(Better yet, I think I'm going to call each one of you today!  A much safer and surer way to deliver the message.)

Just when I felt lulled into contentment and inevitably fulfilled in the best friend department, a new force rocketed into my life late last year.  Never has it happened so fast and felt so perfect, a friendship that seems to span my entire existence. Perhaps even more.  Now thanks to this newest oldest friend, the doors have swung WIDE ?#@*&%! OPEN again on some all-new and improved adventures.  I've never had a friend quite like her before and I positively couldn't be happier.

Life is mysterious and dangerous and awe-inspiring and exhilarating.
Stay positive and open-minded in your travels and the rewards will occasionally be spectacular.

If you see me and my Newest Oldest rocking together through this life, please come forward.
Don't be shy and
Don't be afraid to join us.
Smile, climb on-board and hold on.
Step Right Up people, we are always OPEN...

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Andrew Loog Oldham's Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Fiasco

Andrew Loog Oldham was inducted into The Rock And Roll Hall Fame on April 10th 2014
in Brooklyn New York, but he did not even bother to show up and collect his prize.

The Rock And Roll Hall of Fame is one BIZARRE conglomeration of music and mystery.
A Frankenstein-monster of sorts, really, with its true creators puppeting the beast while constantly shrouding themselves in anonymity.

On one hand you've got the Rock Hall Museum in Cleveland Ohio, which houses the physical portion of the body. I've been there a handful of times and it's always fun and worth the trip.  I'm still not sure WHY the building is in Cleveland, but I've come to grips with that inane decision long ago.

On the other hand, you've got the Rock Hall Foundation which is based god-knows where.  (And in this case "god" is probably Jann Wenner from Rolling Stone magazine.)  This is the clandestine arm of industry moguls and press elite that deem an artist worthy of the "Hall of Fame" moniker. If its been 25 years since your debut album, then you're eligible for induction. The premise is a worthy one, but the yearly decisions can be real head-scratchers and some are outright insults.

Why are some acts inducted and some aren't?
Why are different genres other than ROCK AND ROLL being honored each year?
Why did the induction ceremony itself used to be held privately at the Waldorf-Astoria?
Why is it now held in public arenas in Los Angeles and Brooklyn?

The answers, as always, lie in the trail of MONEY. READ: HBO broadcast rights.
The Rock And Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is now nothing but a TV AWARDS SHOW.

So how does this rudimentary recap lead me to the story of Andrew Loog Oldham's MIA Induction?
Stick with me here, folks...

Rock Hall of Fame
He and his image floated above the fray...

Andrew was being honored for his revolutionary career as the manager, producer
and all-around dream-peddler of The Rolling Stones during the 1960's.
Also honored in this year's class was his counterpart from The Beatles, Brian Epstein.
Fair enough, and well-deserved, on both fronts.  I mean are you kidding me...
These guys simply CHANGED THE WORLD with their visions, that's ALL!
Careers worthy of the spoils of the Rock Hall, indeed.
But alas, the industry is fraught with many perils...

I wrote Andrew a personal email about a month ago, thanking him for propelling The Rolling Stones onto the path which would eventually and inevitably find me.  And I asked him this bold question:

By any remote chance, are you looking to round out your table at the Rock
Hall Induction Ceremony?
My best friend, Veronica Varlow, and I would love to sit with you and your
esteemed guests on the floor at the Barclay Center.
The evening will undoubtedly be a gas, and if you've got two extra chairs
then please consider inviting us!
I'd so enjoy watching you receive your honor and toasting you with a tall
Arnold Palmer or a Coca Cola.
The Rolling Stones altered the trajectory of my life and you, sir, are to be
commended for sending them my way.  Bravo.

His response was rather intriguing:

thanks for having the imagination to compose your communication.
tiz appreciated, o

As the event grew near, word came out the Andrew had broke his leg and the injury might prevent him from travelling. We exchanged a few more emails and he let me in on the real reason for his planned non-attendance:

no alas i am stuck in frankfurt in a hospital with bone broke in hip.
in frankfurt airport last week... too much hand luggage, too much airport !
fact is i was not going to brooklyn anyway.
the people there had made my invitation an univitation.

At one point, I likened the nefarious Rock Hall Foundation to the mob and he corrected me coining them
the "velvet mob" and summed up his feelings perfectly with this line:

... they tell you who is going to induct you. brian epstein has no choice- i do.

In the days since, I have read that Andrew was only offered two tickets to his own Induction Ceremony and that Brian Epstein's family wasn't even invited at all!  Peter Asher ended up inducting both of them in one swift speech, without a single person present to even accept the trophies.  What a complete and utter debacle. And yes, even the rock-geek that I am had to look up who Peter Asher was on Wikipedia.

The entire story makes me sad.  A pathetic way for an industry icon to be treated, for sure.

I am prone to believe that the final straw for Andrew wasn't his broken hip nor the puzzling pick of Peter Asher, it was the insulting "+1" on his invitation card that convinced him to stay home. After all, he had been gearing up to celebrate in Brooklyn with his family and Veronica and yours truly, all faithfully by his side.

Here you can see "our" empty table down in front...

Memo to Andrew Loog Oldham:  
Our paths will undoubtedly cross some day and when they do, I'm buying the Arnold Palmer's.

Memo to the Rock Hall Foundation: 
 #@!% off.