Hey BRP fans, did you watch TV tonight? Perhaps ESPN? If so, you might have caught the Virginia Tech Hokies come back from a 24-0 halftime deficit to beat the Arkansas Razorbacks, 35-24 in the Belk Bowl.
Sure, it wasn't the most prestigious bowl. But it was important because the Hokies notched their first 10 win season in a while. They beat an SEC foe. They will likely be ranked in the final top 20 poll. And they extended the nation's longest bowl streak at 24 straight. Plus, they played for the ACC title this year.
Justin Fuente has all Hokie fans drooling at the bright future for VT football. He is a great recruiter and with the foundation left by Frank Beamer, it is obvious that brighter days are in the offing. In other words, the Hokies are BACK, baby.
We'll be back to the music soon enough, but I just wanted to let you know that BRP is feeling good tonight! Rock on, my fellow Hokie fans, and for those of you who are not yet converted to the Hokie bandwagon, there is still space for you to come aboard. And oh yeah, the men's basketball team is 11 - 1, and knocking on the door of national ranking, too.
You came back for more! You’re either a glutton for punishment, or simply want to see what I can do to prove to you even more that, yes, I am a know-nothing dipshit. I’ve subjected you to abuse before, but most of it was of the musical variety. Now, I’ve polluted the world of cinema, too. Where’s the justice? I don’t know, but If you’ve read this far, I figure you want me to demonstrate yet again that I have no idea what I’m talking about. Roll film!
The Decline of Western Civilization and the Clash’s Rude Boy are both terrific punk films. DWC traces the LA punk scene with bands like X, Black Flag, the Circle Jerks and others being showcased. It really captures the time and place well – the nihilism, slam dancing, and rough side of the California dream. Good stuff. And the Clash? Well, I loved that band, and this film has some amazing concert footage and interviews that are fun. It’s hard to imagine how energetic their live shows were, and the behavior of the English punk fan base is ridiculous. Another time piece.
Sticking with the punk theme, Sid and Nancy is my pick for the Sex Pistols movie to see. Yes, there is some bombastic b.s. in the film, but the story of Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungeon is unbelievable. Set among the whole Johnny Rotten-Malcolm McLaren backdrop of the Pistols, this story follows two hard core drug addicts barreling through rock’s underbelly. Vicious was probably the most “punk” of all the English musicians and his violent, crazy relationship with his girlfriend was complex, grotesque and yet, sometimes, sweet and loving. It’s compelling.
Phew, better get away from the punk scene after that. Let’s go waaaaay back to another great biopic: The Buddy Holly Story. It’s hard to imagine that Gary Busey stars in this film given his present persona, but he did a bang-up job as the horn-rimmed early rock revolutionary. It’s a really good story ending with the tragic plane crash death of Buddy Holly. The story was good enough to make me go back and explore the music of this prodigy from Texas. The beginnings of garage rock lovingly displayed.
What about Purple Rain? Yes, it’s slow paced, has bad dramatic scenes and is misogynistic (it’s Prince, after all). But the music itself is amazing, and worth watching just for that purpose. With Prince now dead and gone, it also is a reminder of what an amazing artist he was. And does anyone remember Phantom of the Paradise, Brian DePalma’s homage to Phantom of the Opera in a rock setting? I can’t imagine Hollywood putting anything out like this today, but I liked it back when I saw it in high school. I haven’t seen it in decades – did it hold up?
There are some big Hollywood films out there, too. Ray is probably known by everyone reading this blog, and Jamie Foxx’s portrayal of Ray Charles covers the gamut of human emotions. It’s really a terrific film, recognizes that Charles was one super-talented musician, and a movie that is highly recommended. Other big-time films of note are Walk the Line about Johnny and June Carter Cash (my mother-in-law hilariously called JCC a “tom cat’s kitten,” haha). It’s another great story and solid film. Johnny Cash was country’s true outlaw – a rock ‘n roller at heart. There is a so-so movie about James Brown called Get On Up – unfortunately, a movie miss about one of the most amazing and influential soul/funk performers of all time. I still listen to JB – he was unbelievable, and his dancing is the best! But the movie wasn’t that good.
Hey! You’re still with me? Coool. I’ll be back for the final segment of this amazingly astute blog post. The whole world is pondering “what’s next?” Here’s a secret: check back soon and you’ll find out.
I’m back, did you miss me? I missed you something fierce. I’ve been sitting here with my makeup all done waiting for you to come back. I am ready to move on to Scene Two of my latest dribble about rock movies. Ready, set, action!
One crazy fun movie is School of Rock. Jack Black plays Dewey Finn, a loser rocker who ends up substitute teaching at a prestigious private middle school, and teaches the kids to rock it. Black is funny as hell in his role – he was made for this one – and the story, while a bit over the top, is never so asinine that you can’t playfully tag along. And it ends with the kiddos playing AC/DC’s Long Road to the Top, which you’ll be humming for days after seeing the movie. Great stuff, highly recommended.
Now, you have to pick one of the 60s festival movies, like Woodstock or Gimme Shelter. Different genres for sure. Woodstock is kind of fun archival stuff now, and it’s a hoot to see some of the bands perform. Alvin Lee tears it up in a way that Ten Years After never seemed to capture on record, and seeing super acts go for it (the Who, Hendrix and other legends, like … Sha Na Na?! … is cool. Gimme Shelter, on the other hand, illustrates the underside of classic rock, where the Stones end up hiring the Hells Angels to act as security for the free Altamont concert, and the bikers end up killing Meredith Hunter, his murder being kind of the centerpiece of the film. A sometimes difficult movie to watch, it documents the official end of the Summer of Love stuff in California, and shows what class A assholes the Stones can sometimes be.
Does anyone like That Thing You Do besides me? Tom Hanks is cool in this one, and Liv Tyler does a bang up job, too. Hanks, who plays the professional manager of a one-hit wonder band called, well, The Wonders, tells the songwriter what he wants in the next song and delivers one of the best lines in rock film history: “I don’t want any of this lover’s lament crap. I want something peppy, something happy, something up tempo. I want something snappy.” Me, too! Anyway, the story follows The Wonders, a fictional band set in the early 60s who are touring around the country in a rock ‘n roll show featuring a bunch of other acts. The thrill of seeing their record on vinyl, hearing it played on the radio for the first time, and the ultimate pull of real life for the band members are all captured with sweetness, affection and realism. And the song itself, a made for the movies number, is very catchy. I like this one even though it is sometimes a bit too bubblegummy for me.
I was never really able to get into the big-time concert films. Sure, like the other teenage lemmings, I went and saw Led Zeppelin’s The Song Remains The Same, the Stones Ladies and Gentlemen, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd’s The Wall, etc. I’m sorry to say that none of these really are good enough to recommend, although a lot of people like The Wall. I just don’t like Pink Floyd all that much.
There is a good one called It Might Get Loud that features three guitarists discussing their craft and bouncing ideas and creative musings off of each other. It features Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, The Edge of U2, and Jack White of The White Stripes. You come away with a new appreciation for how each one developed a signature sound, how skilled they are as musicians, and how they go about making music. Jack White is wicked weird, but cool, too. The Edge is an interesting enough bloke, and Page is simply a legend. A creep, too, but a legend nonetheless. It’s worth the 1.5 hours.
I’m not a huge Eagles fan, but I like some of their songs well enough, particularly New Kid In Town (that’s a joke). A friend told me that I would like the documentary about them, and on one night at home while flipping through the cue on Netflix, we went for it. Well, I will say that my buddy was correct. This is one entertaining documentary that tells the story of a band that was HUGE in the 70s and 80s. Even if you don’t like them, well, trust me on this one. A good way to waste some time hanging out on the couch in suburban America.
I’m going to end Part Two right there. I mean, how can it get any better than the Eagles? Desperados, I’ve finally come to my senses, and now have a peaceful easy feeling about the entire movie thing. No more life in the fast lane for us today. In fact, I’m already gone.
I’m an equal opportunity music lover. If there isn’t a great live show in town, or I can’t convince someone to go with me, I can still sit on my duff and watch a rock oriented movie. Rock is the subject of many films, and there is a 50 year history of celluloid rock exploits. I came up with a huge list of worthy movies, and have split this blog into four parts in order not to overwhelm you. Welcome to Rock At The Movies, Scene One.
Let’s get this out right now: this list is incomplete. It is also not in any order – I’m not doing the typical American thing of “the top ten rock movies of all time.” That’s for the hacks at Rolling Stone. I just want to list some entertaining flicks that capture, in some way, great rock themes. I don’t necessarily like all the movies listed below, but even those that I don’t particularly care for are worth discussing. You’ll see what I mean if you keep reading.
If I forgot something, please let me know. I haven’t seen every movie out there, and it could easily be that I am not even aware of the movie. So bring it on, ok? And now, let’s rock!
I’m going to start with Almost Famous. This is a great semi-autobiographical movie done by Cameron Crowe. It follows a 15 year old budding rock critic as he somehow hooks up with both Rolling Stone Magazine and the fictional, up-and-coming band known as Stillwater. He tours with them, hangs out with them, garners their trust, bounces his story ideas off of Lester Bangs, and then tells all. Along the way, he meets up with Kate Hudson playing a groupie called Penny Lane, whose pathetic existence ends with a broken heart and a massive drug overdose, but with two guys falling in love with her, too. There are some great scenes, and the movie covers a lot of the 70s excessive touring antics of bands like Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith. Trust me, if you like rock, you’ll like this movie.
This is Spinal Tap. You can watch this movie and think that you are actually watching a true documentary on a heavy metal band. But it’s all just clichés and made up antics. So many great lines, so many great scenes. It’s the stuff of legend by now, and one not be missed. I’ve liked it for so long that I own it on VHS tape – I can’t believe I just admitted that to you.
How about a documentary? One of the best that I’ve seen is called Muscle Shoals. It traces the story of Jim Hall, who grows up destitute outside the small Alabama community of Muscle Shoals. He has an early adulthood tragedy, spins out of control, and ultimately ends up setting up a music studio in town. If the story ended there, it would still be a good movie. But it doesn’t. No, Mr. Hall’s studio has local session musicians called the Swampers who play backup to some of the biggest names in rock and soul – Percy Sledge, Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, and the like. Duane Allman is a session musician there for a few years before he starts the Allman Brothers. The Swampers then up and leave and set up a competing studio across town, and the names of big-time bands continue to roll in to record, like the Stones, Lynyrd Skynyrd, etc. It’s a really compelling movie.
Let’s end scene one with an old-school throwback. The Beatles did a bunch of movies back in the day. They are all still kind of interesting. But A Hard Day’s Night is like a backstage pass to hang out with the Fab Four at the height of the Beatlemania period. I don’t think it was supposed to be a great film, but it’s really fun to watch. Check it out if you haven’t seen in it in a while. Its innocence and great music will have your scratching hard at your nostalgia bone.
Cut! That’s it for Scene One of Rock At The Movies. I’m not much of a movie critic, I know, but I appreciate a good story. So tomorrow we’ll get a few more films listed all of which are great rock stories. OK, dudes and shorties, see you next time.
Hey Christmas revelers, I have to take a quick break from music to go back to a favorite topic of mine: my massive collection of Hokie stuff. I knew that I had some Christmas-themed Hokie gear, and now that the season is here, I've taken it out of its boxes and am ready to share it with you. Most are simply tree ornaments, but I also have a VT stocking. Without further ado, here are the photos:
Most of the ornaments are cool, right? I even have the old-school Gobbler one in there. The one that looks like a dog collar is a dog collar. One of our little dachshunds used to wear it (he had a matching VT leash, too), and it became a Christmas tree decoration so that we could remember him. He was a really good bad dog.
And just to prove that my obsession isn't all VT related, here is one more ornament that is appropriate for the theme of this blog:
I have one more non-music themed post that will entertain you. In the meantime, rock on and Merry Christmas! And GO HOKIES!
Hey rockers, just a quick Merry Christmas from all of us (that means me) at BRP. And if you don't celebrate Christmas, Merry whatever to you, too. To me, it's the spirit of the holiday that is most important: love, caring, sharing and peace on Earth. So whatever your taste in holidays, enjoy the heck out of them, and be cool to your fellow humans!
Here are a few tasty nibbles for the holiday season. Who knew that this stuff existed? Why, BRP did!
A few final thoughts. First, I'm going to be on vacation over Christmas, but will still be posting between eating massive quantities of food and watching football on TV (Go Hokies!). In fact, I've been working on some great stuff, so check back often. Second, give the gift of BRP to your friends and family this holiday season - it doesn't cost you anything, just pass along the website address and let them enjoy. You'll be forever remembered - hopefully fondly.
Finally, for you who think you are too old to rock, check out these fun pictures. Rock remembers you, so keep on rockin'.
Like Rudolph, I have to run now. Lots to do before the holiday sets in, like eat all of the chocolate covered peanut butter cookies and devour an entire bag of Nacho cheese Doritos. Oh, and yes, I have one last concert this year - Butch Trucks of the Allman Brothers. I'll be back with a review of that show, too, so don't forget to indulge in your holiday treats at BRP. Love you all, see you soon.
I grew up in Northern Virginia and did most of my youthful rock damage in and around Washington, DC. There were a number of rock clubs in Georgetown back in the day, all of which are now gone – the Cellar Door, the Bayou, Desperados, d c space. As Georgetown morphed into the charming but boring place that it has become, great rock moved toward downtown. The original 9:30 Club at 930 F Street was my go-to club after the decline of Georgetown.
The original 9:30 Club was a cramped and small basement space with a stage in one corner, a bar in a back room, a lounge area where the same people seemed to be hanging out for every show, and a low roof that would drip during the summer due to the heat/humidity/sweat generated in the room and condensing on the ceiling. It also had a roof support pole in the middle of the performance space room where a female employee would be hoisted to video each show (where are those tapes?) to project the show on the TVs located in the club.
I saw a lot of bands there, many of which I can’t remember anymore. But I do remember some great shows there by the Buzzcocks, the Fleshtones, the Young Fresh Fellows, Joe Strummer, Big Audio Dynamite, Wreckless Eric, Shoes, the Slickee Boys, Date Bait, and Fishbone. Alas, I moved to Philly, the 9:30 Club moved to bigger and better quarters in the U Street corridor, and the old venue was razed and is now occupied by a Marriott Courtyard hotel (I’ve stayed there, ironically enough).
Anyway, I miss that crappy old venue, but got a trip down memory lane when I was in the “new” 9:30 Club this fall. They have a little museum room in the new venue that has a collection of either LPs or CDs of virtually every band that played at the Club, and they are in chronological order of when they played. It’s cool, and I spent some time there digging on the display. Lots of great bands played there, some of whom went on to huge commercial success (think REM) and many of whom fell off and went to the obscure graveyard of former rock bands.
Anyway, just a little tribute to a great club that was a cool part of my young adult life. Hat’s off to you, 9:30 Club! And for BRP followers who prefer visual stimulation, a couple of pictures of the museum room at the new location follow. Thanks for indulging me, and have a great day!
Merry Christmas, Philadelphia! The Bielanko brothers, Serge and Dave, and their great band, Marah, performed their Philly holiday spectacular last night at Underground Arts. They brought along a slew of people to enhance the show – the three women back-up singers known as the Shalitas, a four piece horn section, Matt Cappy on bagpipe/tin whistle, and the standard five-piece lineup of the main attraction itself. It was awesome, and is going to be a BRP holiday tradition going forward.
Regular readers know that I saw Marah in November at BrawlerFest, and I thought that they rocked it hard. A great live act? Yes, one of the best that Philly has ever produced. So I was pumped to see them again last night. And, man oh man, they did not disappoint.
Underground Arts is an interesting club. It was festooned for the Christmas season with decorative candy striping on the exposed pipes, garland, and a Christmas tree on stage. Which was perfect for the holiday spectacular. Marah came out and got right into the spirit of the season with a snow machine that sent the flakes flying on the stage while the band rocked. You can see the snow in some of the pictures below. Dave B. also wore a Santa hat during the show, and drummer Dave Peterson ended the show by dumping the Christmas tree onto his kit – primarily because he was exhausted and he just couldn’t play anymore.
Marah played a solid three hours. And they put on their normal ramshackle, raucous, uninhibited rock ‘n roll show that was remarkable in so many ways. It all started with Cappy blowing on the bagpipes, and ended with 16 people on stage (including the two roadies!) cranking through Christmas tunes and Auld Lang Syne. In between were great original rock songs, a cover of “Love Train,” a break from the stage with Dave B. jumping onto the UA bar and playing two songs on the banjo/acoustic guitar, and a heckuva lot of fun all around. It was the type of show that had me grinning from ear to ear, and my two buddies in full agreement that it was a great show.
The audience was full tilt, too. UA felt more like a frat house basement than a commercial rock club, with many people there who knew the boys in the band. People sang, danced, rocked and reveled in a great festive environment. Serge came into the crowd at one point, sang a song (see the photo below – he was right by me) and a roadie followed him around with some mistletoe at the end of a pole, allowing Serge to kiss some of the adoring fans, both male and female. It was cool, and fired up the crowd. And Marah fed off the audience, and gave a truly spirited show in their beloved hometown.
I took a lot of photos, and some came out great, and some have some bald guy's head in them. Of course, I pushed my skinny butt up close to the stage so that helped to get some badass shots. There are more pictures below than I typically put into a post because I wanted you to get a sense of what was going on and to see as many of the performers as possible (and, believe it or not, I weeded it down just to the most choice shots). Dave and Serge were clearly the highlights, but the entire scene was super cool.
Enjoy and Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays to the entire BRP legion of loyal readers – yes, all three of you (I told you readership was up!).
Bike Night in Cape Coral, Florida isn’t just for bikers. Nope, even punks like me could go and find plenty of fun in store. Bikers are fine folks, especially the Harley crowd. Yes, they look foreboding in some ways. But most of them are aging baby boomers who just like to hang out with others, show off their bikes, admire custom bikes owned by others, and to check out some live rock ‘n roll. Drinking and fighting? Not so much anymore.
So BRP was there. Hey, check out some of these custom bikes (and two classic restored cars – a Mustang and a Firebird). Nice, right?
God was well represented at Bike Night, too. Florida is still in the South, after all, and there was a guy preaching to the unconverted. He did so under this banner. I, of course, signed right up, but others seemed indifferent. With a come on like this sign, who could resist?
And oh yeah, there was some live rock. Cover bands, mostly, but two were worth mentioning. One was Razing Cape, and the other was Hells Bells. The former did the classic rock cover stuff pretty well: songs by ZZ Top, Guns ‘n Roses, Pink Floyd, etc, were all done with energy and note-for-note renditions. It was fun. A couple of pics:
Hells Bells, on the other hand, is a Knoxville, TN based band with a sole focus: AC/DC. As loyal readers know, I love AC/DC, and think they are the near-perfect rock band. Well, Hells Bells does a great rendition of the Aussie rockers, right down to trying to look and dress the part. They had the act down pat, and rocked out hard playing hit after AC/DC hit. It was really good (my neck still hurts from headbanging), and if you get the chance to check them out, I recommend it. Check out these pictures and you tell me if it doesn’t appear that we’re at an actual AC/DC show. If you scroll down, you can listen to an actual AC/DC song while you scan the photos. Cooooool.
And it wouldn’t be Florida without the sunshine and palm trees, right? These were taken after a beautiful day in the low 80s while Philly was in its recent deep freeze. I like winter, too, especially winter in SoFla, haha. See you soon with more great stuff. Until then, thanks for reading, rocking, fearing and obeying.
It's Christmas time in SoFla, and I took a couple of lousy pictures to try and capture the spirit. One is of the ubiquitous light-wrapped palm tree. You see it everywhere. I like it.
Another is of the new Pompano Beach oceanfront parking deck. Yes, it's a parking deck. But they did a good job on this one. They used old school elements with the signage, and then they also put up these huge wave-shaped sails to block the look of stacks of concrete. And they also light them up in holiday colors during December. Boo-yah!
Need something to do while you're freezing your butt of in Philly? I took in DJ Deejay's act at Silk City last weekend (the boxing was on Friday, the dancing on Saturday - live your lives, little ones). It was quite fun - we had the dancefloor to ourselves for about 20 minutes, and then the hordes came and I had to stop with the high kicks, massive spins and other patented BRP dance floor moves.
One last item, then I'll let you go back to your life. Check out this sign:
Now, BRP was a HUGE skateboarder back in the day. And skateboarding is not a crime! But of course, many skateboarders themselves are criminals, and BRP is no exception to that rule. (And many skateboarders ended up into the whole punk thing, BRP included.)
You have to admire the ingenuity of skateboarders. If you're going to pave paradise and put up a parking lot, a decision over which I have no control, well, I'm going to skate the living shit out of that parking lot. Go ahead, call the cops. I'll outrun them for sure. Been there, done that.
But no GRINDING? Where I come from, grinding is a slow dance. A very sexy slow dance. So where is the picture illustrating that on the sign above? And why no grinding? Is this a church or something? No skating and no grinding? Time for a revolution.
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.