Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Reach Up and Touch the Sky

Rolling right along with blog hits via the Jersey Shore (see previous concert entries on Garry Tallent and Little Steven, not to mention more than a few passing references to a certain Boss), this time we're checking in with Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, still having a party after all these years.
John Lyon, better known simply as Southside for the past 40+ years, was one of several acts to emerge from the Jersey Shore, home of the Stone Pony nightclub and multiple other hotspots that helped produce some of the greatest musical acts of our generation.
Southside actually graduated from high school with the aforementioned Tallent, not to mention another early member of the E Street Band, Vini Lopez.
For this outing, we once again enlisted the Godfather himself, my brother Jimmy, and even managed a rendezvous with the music encyclopedia on two feet, Mike O'Connell, not to mention fellow Boss boss, Ken Gordon.  Between the six of us, we've notched dozens of Southside shows these past decades.  For Andrew, it was his first exposure.
The venue was the Blue Ocean Music Hall in Salisbury, so for these E Streeters, that first meant a pit stop not at the Jersey Shore, but the Seabrook Shore.
A father/son relationship on the rocks
Right out of the gate, Southside was armed and ready with his flyswatter
I saw Southside multiple times during the 1980s, when I had just started dipping my toes into the live concert pools.  You were always guaranteed a raucous club party whenever the Jukes came to town.
Stevie Van Zandt and Southside were inextricably linked in the band's early years, with Stevie playing a number of roles with the group.  Many of Stevie Van Zandt's songs have since become the lyrical background of many of Southside's club shows these past 40 years, and the two remain close friends, with influences frequently bleeding into one another's on-stage performances.
In the ensuing decades, several other members of the E Street Band have toured or recorded with the Jukes, including the Big Man Clarence Clemons, Garry Tallent, Mighty Max Weinberg, Sister Soozie Tyrell, and Patti Scialfa, who would go on to become Springsteen's wife.
Can't let the blog pass without trumpeting the talent of Southside's horns section - John Isley, Chris Anderson and Neal Pawley
So once again, thanks Southside, for allowing this longtime fan to reach up and touch the sky and create a new soul-filled, soulful musical memory with family and friends in the process.
 I know that it's getting late
But I don't want to go home
I am in no hurry baby time can wait
I don't want to go home
Listen to the man sing his song
I don't want to go home
I don't mind baby to stay alnight long
Cause I don't want to go home
Listen baby
I know we had to try
To reach up and touch the sky baby
What ever happened to you and I
That I don't want to go home 

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Still Disciples After All These Years

October 16, 1982 - to date, it remains one of the hands-down LOUDEST concerts this music aficionado has ever attended.
(Rivaled only by Roger Waters at the Worcester Centrum on March 30, 1985.)
The show?  Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul at 15 Landsdowne Street, Boston.
Admittedly, the club itself wasn't that large, which contributed to the ear-splitting volume.   Course, it also had a lot to do with the performer - Miami Steve Van Zandt, frontman for Bruce Springsteen, who was exploring a foray into a solo career with his Men Without Women album.
The Boston-born Miami Steve had broken off from touring with Bruce after the Boss's Nebraska album and prior to Born in the U.S.A., which rocketed Freehold's favorite son into the rock and roll stratosphere.
Suddenly, here was Little Steven, bedecked in bandana and leather jacket complete with a Disciples of Soul rocker, and a band all his own, not to mention a sound.
I have to admit, I was a big fan from the outset, as were several of my fellow E Streeters, especially John Piekos.  Yes, things took some sideways detours with Stevie's political Sun City anti-apartheid anthem a few years later, but Men Without Women, coupled with his follow up album, Voice of America, still hold a special place in my music collection.
Which brings us to September 29, 2017, a new tour with Little Steven and a return to the Orpheum Theatre in Boston.
In the 1980s I was lucky enough to see several music acts at the Orpheum, including the Police and a little known band from Dublin, U2, in May of 1983.
This time, I had not only the guy who introduced me to all things E Street, but the next generation E Streeter in tow as well - my brother, Jimmy and son, Andrew. Jimmy, by the way, was the one who took me to my first Little Steven show 35 years ago, so it all comes around. 
Drawing from his latest album, Soulfire, Stevie and his Disciples riffed through several of the new tracks, but also paid more than ample homage to the music of some of his Asbury Park cohorts, including Southside Johnny and Gary U. S. Bonds.
The show featured street corner Doo Wop, soul sounds, R&B, blues - heck, he covered just about every genre he could squeeze into the 2 1/2 hour rockfest 
It was akin to a night spent listening to his varied Underground Garage discography over on Sirius radio.  A tremendous five-man horns section, complimented by a trio of non-stop dancers helped make for a packed stage of frenetic music talent.
It's no secret that Stevie and Peter Wolf, the former front man for the J. Geils band are best buds -the Wooba Gooba with the Green Teeth is a staple at virtually any Springsteen Boston-area show over the last 30 years, and almost always ends up sharing a microphone with Van Zandt.
This particular night, he resurrected a couple of J. Geils songs from the music crypt - Lookin' For a Love and Freeze Frame - both which kept the sold-out crowd on its feet hearkening back to the Boston-based band's 1980s tandem of hits.
Stevie wrapped up his show with the song Out of the Darkness, from his second album.
Released 33 years ago, its message and lyrics seem even more poignant in today's divided society.

Check it out here:
There's a sadness all around us
There are words we're too afraid to say
The things that I thought would last forever
Are changing every day
There's a hunger can't be satisfied
And the streets are filled with rage
It's time to dig deep inside ourselves
And face the life we've made
It's gonna take two of us
Ijust can't do it all on my own
I see the day gettin' brighter
Hold me a little bit tighter
Out of the darkness in hand in hand
Baby together we will make our stand
Reach out and touch me we can win somehow
I know there's nothing that can stop us now
Oh, baby, come with me out of the darkness
I've lived my life trapped with trouble
Now it's time to make a new start
I thought the only justice in this world
Came from an angry heart
Now I know there's got to be love to protect us
But we can't wait for it to come
I know there's more to life than black and white
The sooner we learn, the sooner we've won
It's gonna take the two of us
I just can't make it all on my own
If you are a fighter
Hold me a little bit tighter
Out of the darkness and hand in hand
Baby together we will make our stand
Reach out and touch me we can win somehow
I know there's nothin' that can stop us now
Oh baby, come with me out of the darkness
Peace, love and understanding!
35 years later, still a Disciple.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Fourth Family

A glorious day in the Commonwealth of Chelmsford, and if it's the Fourth of July, you know what that means?  Time for the extended circle of family and friends to join with about 10,000 other runners for a two-mile jaunt through town that has begun to rival even the vaunted Boston Marathon in its glory and spectacle.
Speaking of spectacles, there was this
Yes, the motif of the parade, while always red, white and blue, this year was definitely paying homage to the First Avenger himself, Captain America.
As you can see, the team represented #TeamCap well.
#TeamIronMan was elsewhere, stealing the spotlight from Spider-Man
The Nicholson Brothers, Before
Packed crowd for the start on Parkhurst Road
Mamma would be pleased as punch to see her six grandchildren lined up and ready to run together
And they're off!
Johnny and Heather took an early lead.
Heather, in a flashback to this year's Boston Marathon, could only cast a glimpse over her shoulder at her old man trailing behind
Andrew makes a point of always knowing where the camera is
Ben wanted to make sure everyone knew who the hard-core runner in the family was.  We didn't have the heart to tell Zachary the race was only beginning, he wasn't crossing the finish line for another two miles.
Hanging with one of the biggest Captain America fans I ever met, John Greenwood.  I thought I was sweating until I saw the gear he had to wear for the parade to follow. 
So yeah, a T-Rex, Captain America, and Chewbacca were out there cheering us on
As always, Ann Piekos and Ann Marie Borges were at their Official Carson Road Race Photography Pitstop at Mile One, snapping away.
Seriously, I've been doing this race for at least 25 years, and you can always count on their mid-course pics.  That is, of course, if they get the obligatory Universal Call Sign to let them know you're coming.  (And if you have to ask, you don't know us at all.  I'll give you a hint - he's in their first pic)
Zachary keeps his head held high, heading in to the finish 
And finally, the After shot of the Nicholson brothers.
Heather couldn't be in the pic, she was too busy hunting freeze-pops. 
Great job to all the runners.  The event has really become a staple of quality family and friend time.  No one cares about their finish times, no one cares about their pace, no one cares about how garish their socks are, it's just a fabulous opportunity for everyone to get together to not just celebrate our nation's birthday, but to celebrate the bonds that keep our families and friendships strong all year long.
And with that, it's off to chow down at the day's many cookouts.
Happy Fourth, all!

Monday, June 5, 2017

A Real Tallent Show

As of this writing, I've seen Bruce Springsteen in concert 63 times since 1980 and I expect (and hope) there'll still be a bevy of Boss shows still to come.

For approximately 55 of those gigs, standing to Bruce's left, usually receded into the background near Professor Roy Bittan's pianos, has stood one of the most reliable bass players the music industry has ever witnessed (with apologies to bassist extraordinaire John Entwistle).
Mr. Garry W. Tallent isn't know as the most flamboyant or scene-stealing member of Springsteen's E Street band, but he has always been a steadfast, reliable, and concrete pillar of quality bass in your face, thunder from down under musician whose role in the E Street Band goes back to Bruce's earliest music days more than four decades ago.  In fact, Garry has been with Bruce longer than any other member of his heart-stopping, pants-dropping, hard-rocking, booty-shaking, love-making, earth-quaking, Viagra-taking, justifying, death-defying, legendary E Street Band.
So recently, when we heard that this original E Streeter was bringing a solo tour to Somerville to the Rockwell. a small group of E Streeters - myself, Andrew, my brother Jimmy, and uber fan Ken Gordon - decided to check out the show to see what the Tennessee Terror would be like as the frontman flying solo, in town to promote his first album Break Time.
Tallent was born in Detroit, and grew up on the Jersey Shore (first playing the tuba, a skill that would make its triumphant return in Wild Billy's Circus Story), but Garry Tallent is closely identified with his southern style of rockabilly music.  He first started playing with Bruce 46 years ago, in 1971.
He's done with work with Marshall Crenshaw, and is close friends with Southside Johnny, whose influence - and songs - were obvious in Tallent's Somerville performance.
As the blog's headline previews, it was the proverbial Tallent show.  Garry has a great voice to carry the tunes, and easily stepped into the role of bandleader with his capable backup band flanking him on stage.  He was high energy, engaged, and clearly, having an absolute blast playing music.
A side note - the Rockwell was an amazing venue to catch this kind of performance.  Tallent has played in front of 70,000+ with the rest of the E Street Band, but his energy and connection to the audience in a crowd of just more than 100 was electric, palpable, and an unforgettable intimate connection to the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer.
Afterwards, we were all able to meet Garry, where he posed for pictures, signed autographs, and chatted music history with anyone who wanted to spend the time with him.
Garry, if you're reading this blog (with its reach deep into E Street nation), thank you from a longtime fan, and now, a lifelong believer in the sheer Tallent that has played such a remarkable and indelible role in this E Streeter's rock and roll run through history.