Hey, I’m back! Sorry for the long break between posts – I was sick, but am better now. And I watched about 5 straight hours of The Man in the High Castle on Amazon, which I can report as a pretty good way to pass sick time.
Anyway, I did get to see Dashboard Confessional at the TLA about a week ago. DC is an emo band, with both rocking tracks and little strumming acoustic songs. They are good, but not incredible. It was a show worth seeing, and they ran through a lot of their big-time “hits.”
DC is out of Boca Raton, Florida and lead by Chris Carrabba. (He also runs a chain of mediocre Italian restaurants under his surname.) They are a four piece band and include Scott Schoenbeck on bass (good shots of him below), AJ Cheek on lead guitar and Ben Homola on the kit. Just so you know, it's hard to get a good picture of the drummer, but I think I succeeded this time. The band is well-rehearsed and obviously enjoy playing together.
It was an interesting crowd. I hadn’t been to a show that was majority female in a long time, but this one surely crossed the 50% threshold. Seems like women don’t like punk and other crazed music as much as men. Nonetheless, everyone had a good time.
And everyone but me seemed to know the words to EVERY SONG. In fact, there were a number of times when Chris would start the song, then keep playing and step away from the mic to allow the crowd to belt out the rest of the lyrics. I’m not a big fan of that oft-used piece of stagecraft as I actually go to hear the musician sing his own songs, but it is interesting to see how many people have a lot of free time on their hands to memorize lyrics to about 20 songs.
Two bands opened for DC, but they were so unmemorable that I can’t remember their names. Sad but true. I give them both an A for effort, however. DC said that they were going to play a long set because they didn’t have another show the next day, but only played about 1.5 hours – that’s the opening set for Marah. And that’s not very long given that they have 6 albums out, but it was fine with me. I had to work the next day anyway.
Here are a bunch of pictures of the band. As always, I fought hard for you so that I could get close to the band and capture the action. You have to admit that the quality of the pictures is getting better (well, maybe you don’t have to admit that, but it would be nice to lie to my face if you see me).
By the way, check out Chris's t-shirt. Danzig! Hahaha, is that a spoof on the crowd or what? I used to work with a guy in Buffalo whose last name was Danzig, and I always thought of the heavy metal band by the same name whenever I was dealing with the dude. The fun of rock 'n roll in the workplace, huh?
And with that, I’ll be back shortly with another review of a badass band, Cloud Nothings, at Union Transfer. Plus much, much more. Keep on checking – the kid is back! Later, y’all.
The endless drought in California seems to be over. Some major winter storms have pounded the Golden State, and with it came news that Mavericks, a famed NoCal big wave surf spot, was going off. I mean 30+ foot waves. So while I sit here on a very soggy East Coast winter day, I'm thinking that someone, somewhere is jamming in some major league surf. To show you what they are doing, take a look at this video and enjoy.
Until next time, hang loose.
I Know What You Want
Admit it. You keep coming back here wanting to know where those songs are about blue and green eyes. It's either that or you want yet another spa, nail parlor, or branch bank - sorry, I can't help you with those, but everyone else in the world seems to think these are needed and necessary. I'm going to stick to my original thought and go back to great songs about eye color.
Here are some great blue-eyed songs. Do you like blue eyes? I can dig them sometimes, but the best color will be revealed below. For blue eyes, we first have the Who with, what else, "Behind Blue Eyes." Here 'tis:
Let's not forget about CSN's classic, "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" about Judy Collins. Great harmonies on this one, which explains why they had to get Neil Young out of the band before they could record this one.
Elton John also did a song called "Blue Eyes." I was never a huge EJ fan, but they tell me this song is good. They are probably wrong. Nonetheless, it's here and is not going away.
One last blue-eyed song: Willie Nelson's classic, "Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain." This one is great, and I don't need them to tell me that.
Enough! Enough of this blue-eyed stuff. How about green eyes? If you're old enough, you'll remember the band Sugarloaf. And Sugarloaf had one great song: "Green Eyed Lady." It was a good one to listen to late at night during high school years. Think about that while grooving to it one more time. And get a drink (or get rid of one) before you hit play below because this version goes for more than 7 minutes. Dig it!
Now, I told you above that I would reveal the most gorgeous eye color of all, and here it is: hazel. What color are my eyes? Well, hazel! What a shock, huh? Hazel eyes have depth, feeling, and can give that funny twinkle that everyone wishes they had. So what song is about hazel eyes? Oh man, The Darkness's "Girl With The Hazel Eyes." This song rocks it hard, so have fun and enjoy this one.
Friends, that's enough songs about eye color. But there are tons of other songs about eyes in general. And BRP will be back to revisit the eye subject one more time to cover that fertile ground.
This week, it's back to the concert scene. Keep coming back so that you can be sure to catch my review and pictures of the first band of 2017. Trust me, you'll be happy you did because they are terrific.
Have a good one, and thanks for coming back often to BRP. See you later, cool kids.
I was just in London. Man, what a great city! Lots to see and do, and the people are friendly and polite. And they speak English (well, a form of it at least, haha) so it’s very easy to get around and communicate. We did a lot of touristy stuff, but no live rock ‘n roll. Say what? Sad but true. I checked to see what bands were in town, but didn’t recognize any of them.
But I did see some music shops and other rock-themed items that are fun to share. Ready? Let’s go.
First, here is a picture of where I stayed. A humble abode at the end of the Pall Mall. Pretty, no? And a good location to boot.
Waaay back in the day, the BBC refused to play rock music. True. Londoners needed European and pirate radio stations to meet the demand of those that wanted to rock. In 1973, a domestic radio station, Capital Radio, started to play rock. Here’s a picture of the building, which now sits atop a TGI Fridays restaurant, and a song by the Clash about the sad state of rock on the airwaves in the late 70s in London:
There were music shops around, quite a few actually. I took a couple of pictures. The Brits seem like they are still heavily into vinyl and CDs as we saw both being sold on the street (Portobello Market in Notting Hill) and in stores. I’m old school and like tangible ownership, and this suits me perfectly.
I saw this guitar at St. James’s tube station with a picture of the underground map on it. It’s cool.
Here’s a few pictures of one of the few live music acts we saw. They were jamming on the street, BRP did an amazing outdoor dance much to the shock of the proper British, and it was fun. We also saw street musicians in the tube stations and in outside areas like Trafalgar Square. Too much Dylan! But then again, anyone other than Butch Trucks can sing Dylan and have it come out better than the original.
And a couple of museum photos of rock stars (here’s Amy Winehouse and a link to her rehab song, poor thing):
Rock inspirations (Henry VIII, the original misogynist, and inspiration for the Herman’s Hermits):
And the Rosetta Stone (translating rock lyrics from hieroglyphs to Demotic to Greek, and all done in Memphis):
It’s always fun here at BRP. Hope you are well. Be calm and rock on!
It's Just "Beautiful" Baby
I recently saw the play “Beautiful” about Carole King and her music. If you haven’t seen it yet, I think it’s worth going out of your way to take it in. The show traces Carole’s rise from being a 16 year old girl selling her first song to Don Kirschner, through her making the fantastic “Tapestry” album. In between, she adopts her stage name of King (her real last name is Klein), marries her collaborator Gerry Goffin, co-writes a huge number of hits, divorces Goffin, moves to LA, and then finally steps onto the stage herself to sing her own compositions for “Tapestry.”
King is an unbelievably successful songwriter. She wrote or co-wrote over 110 songs that charted on the Billboard Hot 100. Damn, girl! Unless you walled yourself off during the last 50 years, you have heard many of King’s songs. But they were often performed by others, so you might not recognize them as being her songs. They were performed by, among others, The Chiffons, James Taylor, Little Eva, Aretha Franklin, Herman’s Hermits, The Monkees, and the Drifters. Regardless, she is prolific and remarkably successful.
The show clearly features a ton of great songs. But it also has a story that moves briskly along, and uses the rivalry of the King/Goffin team against another songwriting team (Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil) to refine the narrative. It works well. But again, the best part of the play is that it is just chock full of tunes you want to sing out loud.
Yes, rock and roll Broadway reviews have been explored many times: Think “Mamma Mia,” “Jersey Boys,” “We Will Rock You,” and on and on. But the sheer breadth of the musical hits here and the different acts that made them famous makes “Beautiful” a bit different and at the top of the heap of the genre. Trust me on this, you’ll enjoy it if you like pop music.
This being a professional play, there is a ban on photos – I took this one before the play began, but the dude in front of me took a video during the show and was visited by ushers during the intermission. They made him delete the video, too! So be careful out there, my friends.
Here are a couple of links to some of my favorite “King plays King” songs, and two more that I thought were just brilliant renditions of her work. I hope you enjoy.
It's All In The Eyes
I don’t know why, but I’ve been stuck on songs about eyes for a few weeks. I think it’s because I heard Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl” recently, and then started thinking about other brown eye songs. That got me to thinking about songs about eye color, and then I moved on to general eye songs. [You’re now following the weird pathways in my brain, and if that isn’t scary enough for you to run away right now from your computer, then maybe you are as warped as me.] Whatever, eye songs are a rich area from which to draw, and I’m going to go off on this tangent for a while.
So let’s start with brown eyes. Van Morrison set a high bar, radio tried to ruin it by editing it, but it’s a great song. We all know some brown eyed girl who thinks this song is about her, right? Haha, it's not, sorry ladies! Just kidding, of course. Without further ado, here we go:
I used to be an Old 97’s superfan. I still like them a lot, but was worried that Rhett Miller was going to tell the cops to start tracing me given how many times I saw them. I still love “Big Brown Eyes,” a song they always play live. Check it out:
Do you remember the db’s? They also wrote a great song called “Big Brown Eyes.” I have never seen them live, but it’s a great song. Listen up:
Ok, I’m sure there are more that I will find on brown. But it’s off to Notting Hill for now, and I’ll be back on this theme for a while. If you have a song or two you want me to write about, ping me and I’ll put it in. As for now, I’m off to live my life, and it’s time for you to go and live yours. Be good, kiddos.
I just finished reading One Way Out, a biography of the Allman Brothers Band. It was a good read about a band that I’ve seen a few times and admired for a long time. Why is this relevant? Well, without intending to do so, I saw a ton of former ABB members playing all over the place during 2016. I saw Jaimo’s jazz/blues band, which was really good, at the Sands in Bethlehem; Derek Trucks with his family band, Tedeschi Trucks, at the Ryman in Nashville; Gregg Allman and his band, who bring a whole new take on classic ABB songs, and also in Bethlehem; Warren Haynes with his “side” band, Gov’t Mule in Baltimore; and finally, during the last week of December, Butch Trucks and the Freight Train at the Funky Biscuit in Boca Raton. Five shows and not one in Philly!
Butch Trucks is a founding member of the ABB, and one of its two drummers. I wasn’t quite sure what we would see when checking out the Freight Train, but was pleasantly surprised. It was a straight on blues-based rock show featuring lots of ABB tunes. And this time, while they played songs like Statesboro Blues and Dreams, it wasn’t limited to those tunes penned by Gregg Allman or non-ABB members. Yes, this band actually paid respect to Dickey Betts by playing an extended and amazing version of Jessica, one of rock’s quintessential instrumentals (as Butch said at the end of the 15 minute or so version, “that was pretty f*ckin’ great”). It’s particularly cool because Butch and Dickey had a very bad split back in the day. But there is no denying that Dickey’s songwriting and guitar playing are a huge part of the ABB success story.
Butch can still play the hell out of the drums. I mean, he plays like he is in his 20s. And he had a good band with him, featuring a keyboardist/organist, three guitarists (all of whom could sing well), bass, and another percussion guy. Butch’s daughter came up and sang Statesboro Blues. It was a crowded stage, but the band was good and seemed to be having fun with each other.
There was one bad song – a Dylan cover. I can’t remember the name of the song, but the reason that it was particularly bad was that it was sung by Butch. He started the song by saying that it didn’t really matter because Dylan couldn’t sing. True, but Butch, even Dylan is a few rungs up the ladder from you, my friend. Yes, it was that bad: dogs could be heard howling in the alley behind the club, just begging to be put out of their misery.
Butch also went off on a “story” which made me fear that, like Dick Dale, this guy is beginning to lose his mind. There was no point to the story except that Butch met John Lennon, Phil Spector (who he hated) and then got to hang out with Joni Mitchell. Whoop de damn doo. You would think that at this point in his career that Butch would be over having to validate himself by name dropping. But you would be wrong.
All in all, it was a decent enough show. Would I recommend it? For hard-core ABB fans, sure. For those who love the blues, sure. For those who hate jam bands, nope. But we had a good time and enjoyed the evening.
What about the club? It’s located in a very upscale shopping area of Boca, which is already an upscale place. Attributes are that it’s small, has good acoustics and sight lines, and there was free parking. The crowd seemed cool, too, including the 50 something woman who danced as bad as Butch sung. But the Biscuit also serves food and has tables. Where there weren’t tables, areas that most humans would call “aisles,” these are “general admission” areas where a lot of people were crammed. The combination was bad – is it trying to be a supper club or a rock club? Oh, and it’s located in SoFla, so some damn a/c or at least ceiling fans would be helpful when you are stuffing it to the gills with people. One more thing that bothers me: no security pat down. It’s unfortunate that this is necessary, but damn, Paris and Orlando would seem to be enough to warrant something more than collecting money and checking i.d.’s.
OK, I feel better now. Check out these photos for a look at some of the action. I’ll be back with plenty more very soon, so put the billyrocksphilly.com link into your “favorites” list and keep hitting that link. It will be worth the effort! See you soon, rock mobsters.
Rock At The Movies, Scene Four
Yo! This is it! The “who shot JR” of BRP’s take on rock at the movies. I hope you dig it. I’m impressed with you coming back four times. I’ll bet you have a “26.2” sticker on the back of your car, right? Haha, it’s only been a half marathon unlike, say, the rock ‘n roll ABCs. Enough! Let’s do this thing.
Let’s not leave out all of Elvis’s many pictures, my personal favorite being Jailhouse Rock. This was actually a pretty good film about life on the wrong side of the bars of justice – a fate I considered back in the day. As I recall, the rendition of the title song in the movie is an early prototype of the rock video. I haven’t seen any of Elvis’s flicks in years, but I watched them as a boy on Saturday afternoons when no one else was around. Nice memory of having some personal space during my otherwise crazy youth growing up with 6 siblings.
Should The Blues Brothers be included? I don’t want to blaspheme, but these guys were on a mission from God! Belushi and Ackroyd in their prime – a can’t miss film with great cameos, but also pretty funny. The dance scenes are particularly memorable – Belushi proving that sometimes those out-of-shape heavy guys can really move that body. And how can you not love a movie that pays huge respect to the blues, one of the progenitor musical forms that, along with country, brought us rock ‘n roll? Righteous.
While not a rock ‘n roll movie, Straight Outta Compton was a big budget Hollywood popular music film about NWA that was pretty enjoyable. It was also a sympathetic look at some guys who really made it big, but it left out some pretty atrocious behavior on their rise up the ladder. Nonetheless, it captures a time and place in a way not often done, particularly the brutality and routine hassling of the African American community by the police, and the response by some teens who went on to rap heaven. It was a very entertaining way to spend a few hours. Still not enough to make me want to listen to rap, however.
If you love the Ramones, what about Rock ‘N Roll High School? I remember some critic calling it the worst film he had ever seen, but he was clearly an imbecile. I watched it with low expectations, and enjoyed it a lot. It’s not Oscar worthy, but it was entertaining, has a literally explosive ending, and features great tunes from the Ramones.
Do you like Metallica? If so, be careful watching Some Kind of Monster, a picture that shows a lot of background into the band and makes you think they are remarkably creative … and also full of themselves. Metallica could very well be the best metal band in history, and Enter Sandman is a great song that is big for Hokie fans. But the band disagreements documented in the movie are the stuff of prima donnas. Nonetheless, the movie is worth watching.
And speaking of high school, have you seen the recent film Sing Street? It’s a coming of age movie set in Dublin in the mid-1980s. It follows the reeling life of its protagonist, Conor, whose home life is falling apart. He starts a band to impress a girl – hey, now that’s a thought! His older brother is the coolest character in the movie, and turns young Conor on to some of the best music of the mid-80s while also parsing out great advice that he himself cannot seem to follow. There is lots of terrific mid-80s new wave music featured, the story is sweet and accurate enough to pass the gag test, and it’s fun to watch the band develop. As for whether he gets the girl? Watch it and find out. It’s coolio.
Tommy was one weird movie adaptation of the Who’s rock opera. Rex Beans anyone? They’re fit for a queen! Anyway, I saw it when I was still in high school (hard to believe that they even had movies that long ago, right?), and it was strange even then. But it had great Tina Turner and Elton John vignettes that were precursors to the music video. The music itself is terrific, of course, but not as good as Quadrophenia, which itself is a decent movie, but isn’t a video soundtrack. It captures the young, angry, soul-searching youth of England in the 60s. Worth a late night spin on VH-1, for sure.
Remember The Commitments? How can you not like a movie about a bunch of rough and tumble Irish guys who love American soul music? The music scenes themselves are worth the price of admission, and it led to two best-selling soundtracks. You’ll want to join a band after seeing this one.
OK, here are two movies which I never saw, but have heard about and included because lots of people like them. The first is The Girl Can’t Help It, a movie that came out in 1956 and includes Little Richard, Fats Domino, the Platters, and Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps. Ed Ward in his The History of Rock ‘n Roll, Volume I, calls it “a brilliant time capsule of rock ‘n roll coming into its own.” Hmmm, that sounds cool. The second is The Last Waltz about The Band’s final concert. I would probably watch this movie if it came on TV, but I was never a big fan of Dylan or The Band. Who names themselves “The Band” as though there were no other? Pretentious bastards. They probably went to The University, too.
What about movies with great soundtracks? There are way too many of these films to recount – Hollywood long ago learned that great soundtracks were another way to make money off of one creative product. But a couple of them are truly memorable. Repo Man ring a bell with anyone? Fantastic punk/new wave soundtrack. Office Space uses gangsta rap to massive hilarity when paired with a bunch of young slacker office workers dealing with The Man and other modern corporate bullshit. Hawaiian shirt day, indeed. The Big Chill has a great Motown soundtrack even if the movie is somewhat trite. And let’s finish with American Graffiti. Both a great film and an early rock ‘n roll soundtrack that shows some of the music that was foundational for a lot of bands that came to fruition in the 1960s.
One last movie, and I have no idea whether or not it’s a rock movie or not. Drum roll, please … The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It was a rock musical in some way, right? But it was also probably the most iconic cult film of the 70s. Everyone saw it and brought along their newspapers, etc. It was a unique, purely American teen phenomenon. Sweet Transvestite, hahaha.
Alrighty, that’s it for me. Phew. What did I miss? If it’s not listed, I may not have seen it, so Bring It On (which itself is a terrific campy cheerleader movie, a genre that may be worth exploring someday. “Brrr, it’s cold in here, there must be some Toros in the atmosphere”). Rock that movie, yeah, baby.
Happy New Year! It’s 2017! OMG!
When I decided to start a blog earlier this past year, I started keeping track of the bands that I was seeing live in 2016 in order to be sure I didn’t miss a review of them. Blogs need a lot of content! Anyway, the revelation to keep track didn’t occur to me for a bit, in fact, not until last March. I couldn’t remember every band I saw before March, but I kept a list of those I attended from March until December. Want to see it? I’m not 100% sure that it’s a good idea to share it as it shows what a crazed person I am, but at the same time, I found it interesting to look at the other day, and thought you might like to check it out.
Now, I didn’t keep track of all the opening acts, bar cover bands, honky tonk party groups or other live music that I saw. There was a lot of that - remember, for every band listed below, they pretty much all had at least one opener. And I spent a long weekend in Nashville that was primarily seeing live music, and Florida is free cover band heaven – check out the archives if you want to be reminded of that stuff. Instead, my list includes only those acts where I spent my hardly-earned money to go see that particular group.
With that said, here we go – the list of BRPs live shows attended in 2016. I did see a couple bands twice, so if they are listed twice, that is noted and not a mistake like Dewey Finn saying he taught Latin twice in School of Rock. I also highlighted bands that are really worthy of acclaim, and if you get the chance to see them live, you should. I also highlighted bands that I would never go see again, truly barf bag worthy. If a band isn’t highlighted, but falls into the great middle, it doesn’t mean that they are bad – in fact, some have great music that you should listen to – but it does mean that their live act may be good, but is not highlight reel worthy. Alright, enough blah blah blah already! To
Robin Trower Thumbs Down, Don’t Waste Your Money
Wilco – Great Live Show
The Feelies – Great Live Show
Tedeschi Trucks Band
Titus Andronicus – Great Live Show
Dick Dale – Thumbs Down, Don’t Waste Your Money
Titus Andronicus (Second Time in 2016, Great Live Show)
Ash – Great Live Show
Catfish and the Bottlemen
Low Cut Connie – The Best Live Show Going Right Now – Do Not Miss These Guys!
Marah – Great Live Show
The Naked and Famous
Marah Christmas Spectacular - (Second Time in 2016, Great Live Show)
Butch Trucks and the Freight Train
That’s a fair amount of live music. I will say that I saw some cool things in 2016. Nothing like this video of The Darkness’s Justin Hawkins from the Trocadero a few years back (yup, I was at this show and witnessed this incredible balcony dive – one of the most rock ‘n roll things I’ve ever seen).
But I finally got to see a show at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, country’s holiest ground, and enjoyed a lot of Philly and SoFla venues. And the bands! Seeing it “snow” on Marah, checking out the best live act in the States right now in Low Cut Connie, dancing yet again to the English Beat, and finally seeing some bands that I love but had never seen live – Teenage Fanclub, Titus Andronicus, DIIV, The Feelies, Wolf Alice and Protomartyr – well, 2016 was a very good year for BRP.
But 2017 is a new year, and I already have some great shows lined up. Tickets are already in hand for Japandroids and Tedeschi Trucks, and I have my eye on Cloud Nothings, Travis Tritt, and a great double bill featuring Willie Nelson and Dwight Yoakam. And some funk – I want some damn funk in 2017! Yowza!
I hope you saw some shows, lived in the moment, and enjoyed the hell out of yourself. If you’re on the fence about going out on the town, well, I’m not a huge Bob Seger fan, but he was right that you can come back, baby, because rock ‘n roll never forgets. Go for it – you’ll be happy you did.
Happy New Year to the entire BRP family of readers and bless you for taking your valuable time to spend it with me. I’m truly humbled, and will continue to try very hard to entertain you in 2017. Come by and laugh at my drivels. Whatever, keep coming back and tell your friends … or enemies, as the case may be. Now on to video versions of rock ‘n rollers singing “Auld Lang Syne” my friends. Keep going - it gets better with each video. Ciao!
My name is Bill, and I live in the greater Philadelphia area. I love music, and I have a lot of opinions. This site is primarily focused on music, but sometimes I get off track. I hope you enjoy.