Friday, May 31, 2019

The F Word: An apology to Margaret Explosion

Posted By on Fri, May 31, 2019 at 2:43 PM

People who brandish cell phones at shows are distracting and disappointing. It’s rude during performances, as it encroaches upon an artist’s time and that of their audience. Put the phone down and dig the show, sluggo. Live in the now.

But this isn’t a rant at millennial meatheads and their all-important tools of hipster oblivion. This is an apology to Margaret Explosion.

Wednesday night I found myself at The Little Theater Café wallowing in the ether and digging the images this group routinely paints in my head. As the open-minded melodies really kicked in, the brain candy got more acute and I started hearing words coming out in a sort of celestial-Beat cadence. “Shit, I gotta write this down.” But alas, I had no paper, So I clicked on my phone’s notepad feature and began to write:

Space cowboy
Got stars for spurs
He’s got his
You’ve got yours
Rocket to the moon
On a Wednesday night
It was a tight flight
Out of reach
And outta sight


As I was right in front of the band, they could see me with my mug buried in my phone. Guys, I’m sorry. But I wasn’t playing Candy Crush, nor was I downloading celebrity nudes. I was writing lyrics that will someday turn into something I’ll perform while some clown live-streams it.

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Friday, May 17, 2019

The F Word: Redacted

Posted By on Fri, May 17, 2019 at 12:50 PM

Overkill thrashed and trashed Anthology along with Death Angel last Wednesday. It was all faded denim and faded tattoos in the mosh pit, which routinely dispensed the wounded like a thrash-metal Pez. Overkill singer Bobby Ellsworth screeched and raged on the stage, part-Wicked Witch and part-motivational coach: “C’mon Rochester, I can smell ya but I can’t hear ya.”

My first stab at taking in the Lilacs and their soundtrack was on S-a-t-u-r-d-a-y night with NYC’s asphalt troubadour, Willie Nile. He and his black-clad trio played four-on-the-floor rock ‘n roll, where all fear to tread, except perhaps Paul Westerberg. It was the perfect blend of punch and poppy.

Later that night at Skylark, with maximum gorgeousity and skill, the Sirens & Stilettos burlesque troupe                                                                                                            and if you weren’t there to witness it , then you’re                                  -.

The following Monday, Danielle Ponder and the Tomorrow People, along with The BB King Blues Band, rocked indoors as the inclement weather shut down the Lilac Festival for the day. Everyone raves about Ponder’s voice, myself included. But her command of the stage and the audience should also be noted. She puts the buzz in the biz and had us wrapped around her finger so tight we left looking like a bunch of sprung springs. She didn’t leave much room to rock for The BB King Blues Band, who laid it out rather straight and perfunctory in Ponder’s wake.

On Wednesday night, back at the Lilac Festival grounds in Highland Park, Eli “Paperboy” Reed played slick soul with some rather sloppy guitar. But it didn’t detract from the show. In fact, it added a bit of humanity to his voice — a voice that was, frankly speaking, almost too good.

Weather-wise, there was more of a drazzle than a drizzle. Mother Nature apparently had a full bladder and a migraine during Paperboy’s set, and didn’t let up with the chilly waterworks until Lee Rocker slapped the first few descending notes of “Stray Cat Strut.” Rocker busted the clouds with his group and played all the hits we wanted, including guitarist Buzz Campbell’s take on my single-most-favoritest song, Santo and Johnny’s “Sleep Walk.” Hearing these Stray Cat tunes outside the context of the band proved in my mind how perfect its catalogue remains, to this day.

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Monday, May 6, 2019

The F Word: Twitterpated immensely

Posted By on Mon, May 6, 2019 at 2:20 PM

CITY music writer Frank De Blase shares his thoughts on live sets from Maybird and McKinley James. - FILE PHOTO
  • FILE PHOTO
  • CITY music writer Frank De Blase shares his thoughts on live sets from Maybird and McKinley James.
If you get a lot of live bodies to flood the joint, Radio Social can come off sounding pretty good acoustically. This place is a gas. The music still has to contend a bit with the thump, roll, and crash of bowlers bustin’ maples, but it’s not so bad. I mean, it could be a rifle range. But no, it was simply the background clatter of gutters and strikes as Maybird unveiled its new album,”Things I Remember from Earth” front-to-back this past Friday.

Because I was timing my arrival —- I don’t want to go to a show too early and stand there wondering what to do with my hands, or screaming into someone’s ear “Good, good’ Unfortunately this caused me to miss show opener Mikaela Davis’ set, but the beautiful vibe she exuded from the stage was still palpable.

Maybird was put together right and tight and outtasite as they combed through each track of the album and gave it a psychedelic dusting, which revealed hints of Joy Division. What makes Maybird cool is that each member of the band is a utility player, ready to sub in or switch on. There’s no slack. Don’t nobody ride the bench on this team.

Later the same night: Straight outta Nashvegas, Rochester homeboy McKinley James rocked to a full Abilene house with another guitar player, Austin John Doody, who strangled his snow white Stratocaster from beneath the brim of his cocked fedora (remember: if you’re going to play on stage wearing a hat, make sure you put some English on it).

It twitterpates me immensely to my core, to hear James writing and performing more and more of his own stuff. He’s taking a turn into soul and R&B, where it’s not as cluttered as, say, the rockabilly James was playing when he busted in on the scene a few years ago. Now the songs are stressing their own importance, sharing space with James’ incendiary guitar work.

I split Abilene to catch the Link Wray birthday show just in time to see the bands loading out. As hot, angry tears rolled down my face, I bellowed, “Have you seen Junior’s grades?”

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