Tag Archives: The Blasters

One last look back at 2011

Here’s my 2011 list of concerts.  A little shorter than some years, but I had a lot of work distractions in the past year, so it’s actually a pretty good tally all things considered.  There’s a lot of quality there and a few once in lifetime shows.  I’ll make a few individual notes where appropriate  (But, of course there’s a review of each if you’re so inclined to read more.

Phil Vassar – A nice little private show at the PCMA conference for people with a CMP designation.  Fun and loose show.

Robert Randolph & the Family Band

Chromeo – A bit of a letdown, but I’m still hoping to see them again and see how they evolve.

Richard Cheese & Lounge Against the Machine

Delgado Brothers

Jeff Beck & Imelda May – Once in a lifetime and one of the best shows I saw all year.

Prince – Another show that for all the hype was a bit of letdown.

Doheny Blues Fest – Tedeschi/Trucks, John Fogerty, Experience Hendrix, Mavis Staples, The Blasters, Funky Meters, Big Head Blues Club, (Plus others) – Two great days on the beach.  A couple misses, but mostly hits. Tedeschi/Trucks being the very best of day 1 and the Blasters the best of Day 2

KSBR Birthday Bash – Brenda Russell, Kieko Matsui, Brian Bromberg, Dan Siegel, (Plus others) – A really cool gift from my friend Eliott.

Eels – Confounding and complex.  It was great in some very unexplainable ways.

U2 & Lenny Kravitz (2x) – Night 2 was the better of the two nights, both were strong but night 2 has the edge (pun intended).

Weird Al

Kansas & Blue Oyster Cult – Not very good, one of the most disappointing shows of the year for me.

Rock Candy Funk Party – Going back in January, a top five evening and surprisingly it’s not once in a lifetime, looking forward to it very much.

Barenaked Ladies – Good, but not great.  More and more I miss Stephen Page.

Return to Forever & Zappa Plays Zappa – I’d say that along with Jeff Beck this were the most amazingly talented musicians I saw all year…or in many years.

Frank Turner – My best find of 2011.  Seeing him in February once again!

Fountains Of Wayne – I wanted this to be better, bit it wasn’t up to the pervious levels I’d seen them perform at.

Airborne Toxic Event – Another cool find of 2011 and this was the Filmore show in SF that was really cool.

Big Head Todd w/Ruthie Foster and Charlie Musselwhite – Again, a sort of letdown show and slightly disappointing overall.

Airborne Toxic Event, Tokyo Police Club, Built to Spill – Good headliner, the rest of the bill was hit and miss.

Bob Segar – Just reviewed, the man still has it!  Great show.

So there you have it.  My 2011 in a nutshell.

Looking ahead to 2011 I already have four shows slated.  Joe Bonamassa, Frank Turner, Social Distortion and Roger Waters.  Plus, I know Springsteen is touring.  So, lots to be excited about in the coming year.  Thanks as always for reading!  Happy New Year!


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Doheny Blues Festival Day 2 – May 22, 2011

What a difference a day makes….

Looking back, I was a bit cranky about yesterdays show and I’m still not sure why?  It had high points as I noted, it just didn’t connect as deeply as I’d hoped.  Well day 2 was a whole different story.  Something in the air?  Something in water?  I don’t know, but today was just one highlight after another, with a few surprises tossed in for good measure.

The parking situation was better (early arrival I guess).  And I was in place a few minutes early for the Back Porch kick off by Cesar Rojas and Dave Hidalgo of Los Lobos.  I’ve been loving these guys for close to 30 years and I’ve seen them tons of times.  They never disappoint.  The tool the stage with Cougar Estrada of the band on drums and fellow named Sal on bass.  They dove right into the blues with “300 pounds of joy”.  A couple songs in they pulled the first Los Lobos cut “The Neighborhood”.  They sounded great, trading licks and vocals with the ease of a couple guys who’ve been playing together for around 40 years….(wow)….

The fifth song was a smokin’ version of the Sonny Boy Williamson’s (via the Allman’s) “One Way Out” followed by what they called some latin blues the song was, “Cumbria”.  Then, a nice version of “That train don’t stop here anymore” and cover of the Sir Douglas Quintet’s “She about a mover” with a fun audience sing along.  The last two songs featured a special guest in the form of Terrance Siemien (who I’d missed the day previous).  His great accordion playing highlighted a couple of older Los Lobos tunes.  “I got loaded” and “Don’t worry baby”.  The set was everything I’d hoped for and more.  Seeing a chunck of a band that I’ve loved for a long time, up close, relaxed and playing a cool selection of their material and covers.  I loved it.

I walked to the second stage as Ana Popovic was just starting up.  I have to say, she was pretty good.  A confident singer and decent guitar slinger with an international band (she’s from Yugoslavia I believe.)  I stayed for about half her set and shot some nice photos.  Here’s a couple samples of my shots:

I left her set a little early and headed to the main stage to wait for Mavis Staples.

Mavis came out and boldly started with an a cappella version of “Jesus is Mine”, she was joined by a three piece band and three back up singers including her sister Yvonne for her next numbers “Wrote a Song for Everyone” and “Creep Along Moses”, both from her new album.  Then came her version of the Band’s “The Weight”…brilliant.  The sun had come from behind the clouds and I sat back on the grass feeling the ocean breeze and listening to one of the phenomenal voices of the 60’s/70’s.  Yeah, I was having a much better day to say the least.  She closed her set with “I Belong to the Band” from her new album and then jumping back to 1970 “Ill Take You There” from the Staples Singers.  It was a brilliant set of old and new material (The new stuff is really strong) and sort of what I’d hope the Funky Meters might have been like the day before.  Well, that was yesterday, and this was Sunday at the church of gospel and blues lead by a legend.  All thumbs up so far for the day.

Here’s a nice acoustic version of one of her new songs:

Walter Trout was up next, I went a checked him out, but it wasn’t really connecting in the same way as the last couple acts.  Although, his song “Working Class” stood out in my mind.  I opted to go and grab some lunch…(event that was better today).

I moved back to the main stage for the first big surprise of the day for me.  The Big Head Blues Club with Big Head Todd, Cedric Burnside and Charlie Musselwhite flat out floored me.  Opening a cappella (hummm, a theme today?) was Big Head Todd Mohr. with the Son House number “John the Revelator”….wow.

This set was everything that the Hendrix set could have been for me yesterday.  These guys just tore it up.  They didn’t stick to Robert Johnson, adding in a really great cross section of classic blues.  I can’t say why they connected when other bands didn’t, but they just clicked for me.  I can’t want to go find some of their music.  Total surprise, and totally  awesome.

Here’s an older video of one of the songs that they did that pretty much had an entire field of folks up and shimmying in the sun…John Lee Hooker”s “Boom Boom”….

Okay, one more….”Come on in my kitchen”….

I skipped the last number to go grab a good spot for the Blasters…sure glad I did.  I ended up right at the edge of the stage in front of Dave Alvin.  I may have shot some of my favorite concerts shots ever.  The light was perfect, the expressions were awesome.  And, I felt about 30 years younger bopping around in the crowd.  Here’s some shots first.

The Original Blasters

Dave Alvin - I love the reflection of his guitar in the glasses

Dave Alvin and John Bazz

Phil Alvin

Dave Alvin

Dave Alvin

Thumbs up from Phil Alvin

Here’s the setlist: “Red Rose”, “Border Radio”, “Poor Fool”, “Hollywood Bed”, “Troublebound”, “Help You Dream”,”I’m Shakin'”, “Baby Don’t You Lie to Me”, “Crazy Baby”, “Come Back Baby”, “Goodbye Baby So Long”, “Please, Please Please” (James Brown cover), “American Music”, “Dark Night”, “Blue Shadows”, “Marie Marie” and “One Bad Stud”.

Not a weak cut, not a bit of filler.  Just 100% revved up rock and roll.

Maybe there were never top of the charts, but they (along with Los Lobos and Joe Jackson in that era) totally opened me up to different styles of and types of music.  To see them all on the same stage and be standing in front of them was a huge thrill.  It was a reunion that fully lived up to my expectations and hopes.  I’ve not had that much flat out fun at a show in a while.

I went over to listen to John Fogerty headline with some trepidation.  I was buzzing from the Blasters set and I’d seen John a few times.  He’s a Hall of Famer for sure…but, I just wasn’t sure he’d bring anything new to the table.  Well, he did.  Anytime you’ve got a band powered by Kenny Aronoff and you’re playing songs that almost all are in the DNA of the crowd, it’s hard to miss.  And he didn’t.

“Green River” swirled with swampiness as did “Born on a Bayou”…”Who’ll Stop the Rain” was accompanied by a story about going to Woodstock.  “Suzie Q” and “Lodi” were tight and memorable and “Looking out My Backdoor” took me back to being 10 years old and hearing it on the AM radio in my mom’s car.  Like I said, these songs are in our DNA.

He interspersed some cuts from his recent work, and they held up better than I thought.  “Don’t you Wish it Was True” sparkled for one example.  “Have you ever seen the Rain” lead into a solid version of “Pretty Woman”.  But, even though it was sounding great…I was tired after a long day and didn’t relish standing in a huge line to get a shuttle bus.  So, I split a little early and listened to “Keep on Chooglin” and “Nighttime”b efore I was whisked onto the bus.  As I passed the park on the way to the freeway I rolled down the window and caught the last few notes of “Fortunate Son”.

A heck of a day….really no let downs or disappointments at all.  It was the complete opposite of the day before.  That’s why you go to to see the shows folks.  Some are great, some not so great.  But if you want consistency….buy a CD…otherwise, see a show and enjoy it!

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Wrapping up 2010

Wow, where do I start….

As evidenced by the previous posts I had a pretty amazing year of concert-going.  A near lifelong quest completed, an epic show I’d missed 30 years ago revisited.  A music oriented couple weeks in London.  Countless HOF members of the Rock Hall of Fame….heck a ton of them in just a single week.  Shows with good friends old and new.  Hard to even wrap my head around the whole thing.

Here’s the list:

Keb’ Mo’ – Coach House – Jan 14

The Blasters, John Doe, Rumble King – Coach House – Feb 20

Peter Gabriel – Hollywood Bowl – May 7

Styx, Kansas, Foreigner – Citizens Bank Arena – May 19

Richard Thompson – Royal Festival Hall – June 19

Green Day, Joan Jett – Wembley Stadium – June 19

Elvis Costello – Royal Festival Hall – June 20

Glastonbury – June 23-27

Jackson Browne – Albert Hall – June 29

Jack Johnson – O2 Arena – June 30

Laura Marling, Fanfarlo, Peggy Sue, Smoke Fairies – Hyde Park – July 1

Hop Farm – July 2-3

Jools Holland – Kew Gardens – July 6

Barenaked Ladies, Kris Allen, Angel Taylor – Greek Theatre – July 22

Blondie, Gorevette – Pacific Amphitheatre – August 8

Rush – Irvine Meadows – August 13

Al Yankovic – Pacific Amphitheatre – August 14

Scissor Sisters – DAR Consitiution Hall – August 23

Neil Finn – Largo – September 11

Muse, Passion Pit – Staples Center – September 25

Gorillaz, N.E.R.D. – Gibson – October 27

Bonobo – Music Box – November 26

Roger Waters – Staples Center – November 29

Roger Waters – Honda Center – December 13

Roger Waters – Honda Center – December 14

Twenty three shows and two festivals in all.  I don’t think I could even pick a “best”.  However a few things to note do occur to me.

Worst sound, Scissor Sisters.  Horrible mix that completely left the vocals out, and it’s not like I had a crappy seat, I was in the 5th row.  Really guys?  Totally detracted from an interesting performance.

Only show I left early, Jack Johnson.  It was okay, but very one-note.  I like his studio stuff, but in a huge arena it was lost.  Put the same show in an intimate venue and I might have loved it.  Add to the experience that I was a bit sick that night and it was just not a compelling show.

Most disappointing, Muse/Passion Pit.  Passion Pit left me cold and Muse after all the hype just didn’t live up to expectations.  Lot’s of copped riffs and wasted technology that didn’t go anywhere.  If you want to use technology look to Gabriel, Waters or even the Pet Shop Boys.  This was “sound and fury that signified nothing”…

Most intimate, Neil Finn.  The Largo is magic when Neil plays there and the September show was no exception.  An obscure setlist that actually added to the special feeling of the evening.  You knew even while watching this was the sort of thing that would never be duplicated.  Jackson Browne in the acoustic tent at Glastonbury was a close second.  While the masses grooved to Stevie Wonder….Jackson held court for a few hundred lucky folks and spun magic with his sidekick David Lindley.  Moving and unique almost sell short just how very special a way it was to end my Glastonbury experience.

Surprises…How awesome Gorillaz were in LA after disappointing in Glastonbury.

Bonobo, Midlake, Hot Chip, Fanfarlo, Laura Marling, Mumford & Sons, Two Door Cinema Club, Magic Numbers, The Bees….none of whom I knew before 2010 and who all get extensive spins regularly on my ipod now.

How great Rush could be at doing “Moving Pictures” after being somewhat average the other time I’d seen them previously….this show made up for that one in spades.

Disappointment….U2 having to cancel in Anaheim and Glastonbury…(of course it does give me a couple shows to look forward to in 2011 already…)

Well, that’s it…another year in the books, and an amazing one at that.  Curious to see what 2011 (and beyond) will bring?  But, it’ll be hard for any year to reach the heights of 2010 for me.


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