Monday, April 23, 2018

The F Word: Sing, sing, sing

Posted By on Mon, Apr 23, 2018 at 4:39 PM

The F Word. An online column for Frank De Blase to pontificate, ruminate, placate, and salivate. We'll have reviews and previews, we'll discuss trends in local and national music scenes, and we'll try to do it as reverently as possible. Yup. Let's get started.

For this week’s F Word, we’re coming up with songs that have numbers in them, kind of like license plate bingo: “9 to 5,” “The Magnificent Seven,” “Eight Days a Week,” “One,” “It Takes Two,” “Love Potion No. 9,” “Ten Years Gone,” “Take Five,” “99 Problems,” and so on.

And of course, you can’t leave out Paul Simon’s “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover.” A quick ring on the phone from Steve Gadd brought Simon and the song to a gobsmacked, starstruck audience in Kodak Hall at the Eastman Theatre last night.

Let me back up and explain a little. Last night proved to be a Prime Time, funkified, celebratory affair at the seventh induction ceremony for the Rochester Music Hall of Fame. The show was completely sold out and stayed that way for more than four hours; my butt is still asleep. From the opening segment with Alyssa Coco, Bree Draper, and Danielle Ponder to the cacophonous collision at the night’s conclusion that included all inductees and guests jamming on Hendrix’s “Purple Haze,” it was a show to remember.
My only complaint was the show’s flow; it dragged a little. All the nominees are each prolific artists in their own right, but they could have trimmed their sections just a bit. However, the Tony Levin and Steve Gadd portion of the evening could have gone on forever. Gadd positively rocked the vibes while Levin redefined the bass before our very ears — all before giving us a lesson in how to leave your lover from the leaver himself, Paul Simon.

Simon, a secret surprise guest, approached the mic and asked if the crowd had any requests. Rabid shouting ensued and continued until Simon said in his classic deadpan “I don’t take requests.” He did however, play “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover” — Gadd wrote and recorded the song’s drums — and “Late In The Evening,” which Levin wrote the bassline for.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention John Beck’s solo piece — before going over to the drums to regale us with a jumpin’ version of “Sing, Sing, Sing” — and The Campbell Brothers, who over the years have drained my vocabulary of superlatives and hyperbole. Suffice it to say, they move me to tears … Hey, that’s another one: “99 Tears.”

I Scene It

This past Saturday was Record Store Day, where at the Bop Shop they had guest DJs spinning 7-inch nuggets from their personal stash, like Greg Townson, who spun my request of Bill Haley’s “40 Cups of Coffee” (there are those numbers again).

Over at the Record Archive, Hanna PK played with her group The Blue Hearts and rocked the house. It was the best she’s ever sounded. She sang pretty and played gritty. She rocked and rolled, bopped and strolled, all over the baby grand’s eighty-eights. I’d like to hear her do Connie Allen’s “Rocket 69” or Jackie Brenston’s “Rocket 88,” considered by some to be the first rock ‘n’ roll record. I just know she’d do a number on them.

Later that evening at Sticky Lips BBQ City Music Hall, I saw Nobody’s Marigold in the dark. It’s not like the lights were down for atmosphere; there were none. They sounded great augmenting themselves around new stuff with a nod to their former Raw Magillys selves. I know it ain’t new, but I like it, like it, yes I do.

Play Along with the F Word

In this week’s cover story, “Parkinson’s, cannabis, and hope,” I threw in a Chuck Berry lyric. If you can find the lyric in there, you’ll win a new local CD. Name the song it’s from and you’ll get two. Email me at the address below.

By the Way

Mary Gauthier plays Tuesday at Lovin’ Cup, for those who dig their happy mixed with some adroit bittersweet. And Friday, April 27, it’s the new and improved Hi-Risers at The Arbor Loft. See you there.

Any questions? Any answers? E-mail me here at F-out.

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Monday, April 16, 2018

The F Word: One Step Beyond

Posted By on Mon, Apr 16, 2018 at 5:02 PM

The F Word. An online column for Frank De Blase to pontificate, ruminate, placate, and salivate. We'll have reviews and previews, we'll discuss trends in local and national music scenes, and we'll try to do it as reverently as possible. Yup. Let's get started.

This F word is gonna deal with lyrics, real and non-existent. You see, artists don’t always write lyrics for a piece of music, relying instead on the title to convey what the music means. Sometimes, that's with mixed results: Link Wray’s 1958 hit, “Rumble,” was banned because authorities saw it as a way to fire up juvenile delinquents. They were afraid it would cause knife fights and rumbles to break out in the playground, just because of the title. And poor ole Link was just trying to write a stroll.

Instrumental music can be a catalyst for those words and urges in your head, and a song with lyrics can be flexible and contradictory as well. I’ll never listen to Stealers Wheel’s “Stuck in the Middle” the same way again after seeing the bloody scene Quentin Tarantino used it in in “Reservoir Dogs.”

I’m sharing this practice, this quasi-meditation, with you because we’re not always graced with the fidelity to audibly pick out the words in a performance. Or maybe you just like to daydream. You can, however, join the band in your head and create specific, personal music — your own private symphony with its own story line. It may sound nuts, but I do it at virtually every show I check out.

I applied this technique when I went and saw Tom Hanney’s “Blues and the Harmonica” class recital at the Backroom Lounge with some 20-odd harmonicas on stage. I didn’t have my expectations set too high, and I figured there was the possibility it could be a trainwreck. It had the potential of sounding like a fire drill, what with all that stainless steel up there, all trying for the same notes. That’s what I thought anyway, and I was all prepared to set it to the fractured words in my head.

With a prompt from Hanney, the harmonica orchestra set upon “When the Saints Go Marching In.” And you know what? It was absolutely gorgeous. It sounded like tiny violins played by butterflies that fluttered by my imagination.

Here are some hints: Next time you’re in an audience or underneath your headphones or in the car, try to visualize the mood or the colors the music conveys. Are the instruments angry? What are the drums saying? And again does the title say anything? Try this exercise to get more out of your music listening experience. More on this in the future.

I Scene It

Wednesday, and it was back at the Backroom happy hour with some ska band aptly named Some Ska Band. The joint was packed. I’ve seen the pre-gig jitters before — hell, I’ve had them. But Some Ska Band was in a dead panic as I arrived: the band’s lead singer was home worshiping the porcelain god. Fortunately the band knew a fair amount of instrumentals that I could dig and let loose in my brain. Between that and a couple of fellows in the audience who knew enough ska standards to fill up the set, Some Ska Band emerged victorious and one step beyond.

It was the most anticipated show of the year so far: Abilene’s 10th anniversary show at The Harro East Ballroom Friday night with JD McPherson, Woody Pines, and Jake La Botz. I missed Woody Pines but made the scene in time for La Botz’s set of primal, blues-based rock ‘n’ roll. Just the man and his guitar captivated the capacity crowd with satirical, lyrical tunes from a dark place deep inside. His guitar sounded menacing as he picked random patterns beneath his reedy baritone. I could listen to this cat all night.

McPherson and his band burst out onto the stage in a cloud of feedback and preceded to shake the walls. The light show belied the bands dungaree demeanor a little, but the songs are so good that they could have been wearing clown suits and it wouldn’t have mattered.

After the show I watched the crowd pour themselves across the street into Abilene without a funnel to hear Bobby Henrie strum and croon with The Goners. By the time I made it outdoors I had somebody else’s wallet in my pocket and a ringing in my ears.

By the Way

Check out my interview with songwriter Mary Gauthier. It’s online now and in print Wednesday.

We've got a Fresh Cut coming Wednesday with Komrad's newest single, "Control."

And I’m curious: What are you guys looking forward to at this year’s Jazz Festival? Or if there's anything you want to discuss, catch me at F out.

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Monday, April 2, 2018

I Scene It: NoBunny at Photo City

Posted By on Mon, Apr 2, 2018 at 2:06 PM

A live show can change your mind, I’m telling you. If you’re on the fence about a band and not really sure if they deserve your love, just give them the live test. I’m not saying the recordings fall short. I’m saying that with the perfect storm of audience participation, reciprocity, a good sound man, silly string, and flying underpants, you’ve got a show, sluggo.

I’m talking mainly about NoBunny, who when I walked in, liking a little bit and left liking a lotta bit. The band was put together a lot tighter than they appeared at first. It was the audience, frankly that was behaving like maniacs.

Now I was already amped for the weirdness within by the openers, The Fox Sisters and Rotten UK.  Rotten UK was as derivative of Bludwulf, its former self, as it ever was — and that's not a bad thing. Not everyone dug them all the way down, and one patron said to me, “Do you know why this band is together? Because they hate music.” Well, I love music and I love this band, but I do have to say lose the phony British accent, please. Next, The Fox Sisters positively pounded out the blue-eyed soul and gave it a black eye. No ballads on this night, just good ol’ soul music delivered with a stomp and a shout.

NoBunny came out in bunny masks and cut-off jeans and preceded to rock the joint right outta the garage. The band came off like Jane’s Addiction on a pogo stick, but almost got upstaged by the audience’s shenanigans, including tossing Easter candy into the ceiling fan (it’s never any fun until someone gets a SweeTart in the eye), throwing underpants  at the band, and spraying silly string. ‘Twas the most fun I’ve had with my pants on in a long time.

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