Monday, November 10, 2008
Last night I experienced a true slice of history, when I was privileged to see David "Honeyboy" Edwards performing at the Tupelo Music Hall in Londonderry, NH. Honeyboy is the Real Deal... an original Delta bluesman, born in 1915 (ten years older than B.B. King!) and playing guitar in jukes before he was a teenager. He used to gig through the south with Robert Johnson himself back in the 30's, and was actually with Johnson the night he was (purportedly) poisoned and died.
This was a show in the tradition of the oldest delta style, albeit electrified... two men with guitars, plus an accompanist on blues harp. The second guitar was a guy named Rocky Lawrence, himself a dazzler with the acoustic guitar and someone I'll be watching for in his own right; Rocky opened with an acoustic set of his own before Honeyboy joined him on stage and his playing is fantastic, in a style very much patterned after Robert Johnson himself.
Honeyboy's first set was a little disjointed at first, as they had some amp problems that resulted in trying to mix Honeyboy's electric Gibson through, as near's I could figure, the same line as Rocky's mic'd acoustic. But the soul was there and when Honeyboy sang, he drew us right in. The second set, on the other hand, was magical. Honeyboy was locked in, playing in his own world leaving his accompanists doing there best to follow along! He also told a few great back-in-the-day stories, or riding the rails in the 40's, stowing away on freight and mail trains to get from place to place. Fantastic. The man was also gracious as could be... 93 years young and still waiting for every autograph to be satisfied, not seeming to mind chatting with all comers.
I fear there are fewer and fewer players like Honeyboy around every day... see them when you get the chance, for you won't get many.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
And yes, we expect to be at the Adventurer's Club for it's Last Call Saturday night. Kungaloosh.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Pretty much perfect weather... sunny, high 70's... but no cloud cover so the sun was a bit brutal during the middle of the day. I've got the sunburned forearms to prove it where I had my sleeves rolled up! Buster made out better as he used the umbrella I found in the Bluesmobile's trunk, though he wilted for a while in the heat anyway. By 2pm it was already improving and all was good. It was an all-day event, 11am-7pm. Since we were parked in the stage area we had to get there before they opened, at 10:30am, to park and then couldn't move the car again until after the grounds had cleared, around 7:30pm. So a long day.
The toughest part for us was certainly getting up at 8am, as we're well-known night-owls. Buster & I made a pact to try and get to bed by midnight the night before... and we did!
....Two hours later we both got up, since we weren't sleeping, had a quick snack and got to sleep around 3. Sigh.
The first band of the day was Jason James and the Bay State Houserockers... High-energy start to the day, Jason plays like Thorogood with lots of dance music, very enjoyable and must be awesome in a bar setting! Next was Ottomatic Slim, whom I'd heard of but knew nothing about... damn good harp player, put on a great show. For his last song he asked if he could bring a friend up to join him... and up came Magic Dick! Of course, there could only be one last song for Dickie... "Whammer Jammer" live, hadn't heard it from him in many years! I should'a videoed it but was too busy drooling at our luck. Highlight of the day!
Next came the Bruce Marshall Group, whom I've seen around a few times... great player, very tight band. The highlight here was a tribute to Robert Johnson he did with some beautiful slide guitar. Wonderful.
Next came The Love Dogs, another group I'd only heard about but they were quickly added to my list of local favorites! Very funky, good horn section... much like a slightly smaller Roomful of Blues, or a bluesier Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. Awesome, fun stuff, and the one CD I bought that day was from them. Not to mention the lead singer, Eddie "Duato" Scheer, had the coolest purple suit we've seen in a while! From just a little bit of distance he looked like The Joker, but in a good way!
Lastly was the headliner, Ronnie Earl. Ronnie's an awesome Chicago-style guitarist, who loves to make his guitar cry and pull the emotion out. I've seen Ronnie before, though it'd been quite a while, and he's always fantastic!
The festival was holding a couple of charity auctions, one of which was for a gold-plated Lee Oscar harmonica signed by Dan Aykroyd. I bought two $5 tickets... but of course didn't win. Fortunately it was won by someone near us, so I at least got a good look at it afterwards:
Sorry for the focus, in the bright sunlight it looked like the photo came out better than it did, should'a used a macro mode. Ah well, you get the idea....
Also plenty of good beers to try all day, from all sorts of regional microbrewers. It was like the old "Happy Days" episode, where Richie tells his dad, "All they had was beer... in teeny little glasses!" "How many tiny little glasses did you have?" "72." I stopped with 12 though, over a 6-hour period, and each only 3.5 ounces; had to get Buster home safe, after all! (Didn't stop me from having a couple more "full size" brews after I got home though, along with my weekly glass of bourbon shared with Jake over the phone.)
So all in all a fantastic if very long (and tiring) day. Buster did well with the long day, and mostly enjoyed himself, but he's not sure he'll be up for another one this season. That's pretty understandable, and not something I'd push, so we'll see if we're done for the year. There's a couple more coming up over the next few weeks all nearby, but none we're expected at, so we'll just see how we feel week to week. Either way, August has been an awesome blues month!
(As always, there's additional photos on the Flickr site.)
Monday, August 18, 2008
It certainly was a great show! My only "complaint", is Thorogood came on after Buddy. Don't get me wrong, I love Thorogood, but Buddy is after all a god. Still, it may be that Buddy didn't want to close, he came out and did an amazing 45-minute set, Thorogood did close to 90 minutes with multiple encores. So it made for a long night. (There was also a local band before Buddy.)
The show was actually opened by Peter Gammons... ESPN baseball correspondent ("The Commissioner"), who came out with Red Sox GM Theo Epstein to welcome us to the venue and then did his own 30-minute rock set (with Theo sitting in on a couple of songs.)
Buddy hasn't lost a step, he looks unbelievable for his age and didn't slow down. Most of our photos came out horrible (they're up on my Flickr site), but a couple came out nice:
As always Buddy went for a walk around the entire venue, playing a 15-minute guitar solo the whole time, here he is as he passed by our aisle (though his attention was elsewhere... as was mine!):
He did quite a few songs from his new CD ("Skin Deep") and was plugging it heavily, the material he played was all great. He also invited up Quinn Sullivan for a couple of songs, a local, 9-year-old guitar prodigy who blew everyone away, truly phenomenal! (Quinn appears on the CD as well for one song.)
Thorogood was also great as always, and had everyone on their feet (including Buster, who's a big Thorogood fan and knows most all his songs) dancing through his whole show.
A lot of folks were yelling for Buddy to come back out with George at the end, but no luck. I suspect that Buddy wanted to pour everything into his set and then be done.
We were exhausted by the time we left but yeah, a great great night.
Monday, August 04, 2008
The show was electric. The moment the curtains went up the band blasted into a "Soul Finger" instrumental, the band members all lined up side by side at the front of the stage forming a wall of power pushing out into the audience, horns blaring. Wow! Elwood and Zee came out afterwards to a boogying John Lee Hooker-like riff, and broke into "Sweet Home Chicago". The show was powerful and relentless, it kept coming at you song after song, all great fun and fantastic music.
The Brothers did what they're known for... provided a fun-spirited, high energy package showcasing great music performed by an incredibly strong band. They covered the Blues Brothers "era" front to back, from the first "Briefcase Full of Blues" album ("Messin' With the Kid", "Almost", "Rubber Biscuit" and of course "Soul Man") through Dan and Jim's own "Have Love Will Travel" album from a few years back ("Have Love Will Travel", "300 Pounds of Joy", "Swinging Party" and "Driving Wheel", amongst others), and much from in between. Judy Salgado did a great rendition of "Natural Woman", that woman's got a voice on her! They closed by dedicating to "She Caught the Katy" to "Joliet" Jake (John Belushi), and finishing with "Soul Man". They encored with "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love/Love Light".
Though Elwood doesn't move quite as well as he used to (much like myself!), the choreography, while less manic than Back In The Day, was fun and well-suited to their abilities. Zee also spent quite a bit of time during numerous songs roaming the audience, and inviting others to dance... mostly the hot ladies, of course! (Excepting on "300 Pounds", where he was belly-wumping with a few other larger gentlemen from the crowd.)
Another special treat for me was the inclusion of James Montgomery playing harp with the band (instead of Jimmie Wood). James is a very dynamic harp player and a New England blues institution, I've seen him play many times over the past 20+ years and on several occasions have shared beers with him. (He actually used one of my harps in a show he did in Cambridge once... I swear I didn't think it could do the things he was doing with it!)
Buster loved the whole show and was dancing to many of the songs... dancing is his thing. He was the hit of the resort, too... though we'd hemmed and hawed about it we did end up going to the show in full Blues regalia, Elwood and Buster side-by-side, with the Bluesmobile in the garage.
We got so many compliments and were so comfortable in the suits (which I haven't often worn in public since Jake joined the Marines way back then) we were wondering, Why did we hesitate? It may be time to let Buster and Elwood Blues become more commonly known around New England. Let's see, we're going to a Buddy Guy/George Thorogood show in two weeks... and rumors persist about a possible return to the area by my own Joliet Jake within a couple of years....
After the show Jim Belushi, still in uniform, signed autographs in the lobby. I got a new copy of "Have Love Will Travel" autographed for Jake, and for myself asked him to autograph a clear peel-off mailing label that I then put on the Bluesmobile's dashboard. It'll do until I get a chance to get the car itself autographed one of these years... Buster also got an autograph and he's quite proud of that. Here's Zee autographing Jake's CD:
All in all a fantastic night. The concert itself, so long looked forward to, was so emotionally powerful to me that it was hard to recall specific sights and sounds even an hour afterwards... just the emotional high.
We also hooked up with a couple of friends we've met through the online Blues Brothers forums, and that was great... Marc "Stein529" from New Hampshire, and Adam "ElwoodJones" from Connecticut. Below Buster and I are pictured with EJ in front of the Bluesmobile after the show:
It was great seeing them (I'd met Marc once before, and regret I didn't catch up with him again after the show) and it's fun having a circle of Brothers in the area.
Now the next goal: to get to see a Blues Brothers show together with Jake! We had an extra ticket for him but he wasn't able to make the trip up from Missouri this time. But with the new House of Blues being built in Boston, we're hoping the Brothers will perform there when it opens and we'll be trying hard to score seats to that one. Keep the Faith.....
(Below, I couldn't bring myself to put "ELWOOD" on the knuckles for this show; there was only one Elwood in the house that night in my mind! So I tried something different:)
(There's also a few additional photos on my Flickr page, links at right.)
Monday, July 14, 2008
In the meantime though, yesterday we took a ride into Harvard Square to hang out for a bit, so of course I stopped by the former Harvard Square HoB. Last I'd heard it was a BBQ joint, now though I found it to be a serviceable Irish pub, Tommy Doyle's. Here's some pictures, and a few more can be found on my Flickr site.
The still-familiar (if you've seen the original) facade, now painted green instead of blue:
The downstairs restaurant area:
The once-great music hall upstairs:
Saddest to me was seeing the old hand/feet impressions in the cement of the adjoining driveway, several more of these at the Flickr site but here's The Colonel's:
So there's an overview, not quite the same! And for those who haven't seen the original Cambridge House, obviously quite different as well from the much larger venues that it spawned. It was so intimate, a fantastic club... but of course only a few hundred people to a show.
Sometime in the next month or two I'm planning another drive-by of the Lansdowne Street site where they're building the new Boston House of Blues, scheduled to open this winter, to get some updated pictures. It'll have to be on a non-game day (Rde Sox), though!
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
To follow up on my letter to WDW below, I did get a response already... Tuesday morning I got a lengthy phone message on my answering machine from a representative in the "executive offices" of WDW. Though the gist of it was, "It's a Done Deal, sorry", it was at least a fairly personal message and clearly I was heard... that of course makes me feel a bit better about things, even if still mourning the Adventurer Club's imminent passing. (If I can find a place to post an audio file of the message I'll link to it from here later.)
I can only hope that if enough people speak up, maybe they'll re-open it in a new location somewhere in the future... there's precedent, as they did that with Chef Mickey's restaurant after it closed in the Village in '95.
And on the Plus side, it does now look like Jake & I will in fact be in the Club on its last night of existence (and hopefully the night before as well), to close out the place! If the crowds aren't so bad we get shut out, that is... we'll worry about that in a few months.
Saturday, July 05, 2008
"...You will exit as a friend." An open letter sent to the Walt Disney Company, regarding the recent announcement of the impending closing of Please Island in Walt Disney World and, most significantly, the Adventurers' Club -
I'm sure this is a waste of effort, and doubt very much it would ever be read by anyone of consequence, but I must state my feelings on this one. There was a time when I'd have felt writing a letter to the Disney Company very useful. Now, it seems to be about the corporate, not about the magic it used to represent. But I'll sully onwards anyway, martini in my hand.
I can't begin to state my shock, sense of betrayal and outright anger at the recently announced decision to close one of the most unique venues in a place that prides itself on one-of-a-kind entertainment, the closing of Pleasure Island and especially its crown jewel, the Adventurers' Club.
The Adventurers' Club is uniquely Disney, and also unique to Disney... No Disney characters or corporate branding and yet seething with Disney magic and fun. To replace it and the surrounding clubs with an "iconic attraction, in the form of a giant, tethered balloon that will take guests 300 feet into the air"... well, usually I'd have to travel as far as my local COUNTY FAIR for such excitement! And a design-your-own T-shirt store? Yup, that'll save me a trip to Cafe Press on my computer! There is nothing special, unique or iconic about such plans. It just cheapens Disney further and further to the level of entertainment I can easily find locally without traveling 1400 miles and spending tons of money on.
I've been going to WDW once or twice a year - with maybe two years skipped, including last year - for almost 25 years now. I first visited the Adventurers' Club in the fall of 1989, not many months after the Island opened. Every year I still proudly display my original cheap, plastic membership badge pin from that first visit, which always impresses the cast. I remember when the barstaff were all Nash. I've danced for Babylonia, and sung with Samantha. I've had the bartenders work their magic for me, on myself and on many many friends I've brought there over the years. It is without question the highlight of my trip every year... we tend to visit the club two or three times every trip we make. My 11-year-old son loves it as much as I do, and is so proud of his own little rubber "participation" pin he earned two years ago. He's as upset about this as I am, so it's not just an "adult entertainment" perspective. It's our preferred nightlife destination when in Florida, and a significant reason we keep coming back.
I'll mention a few of the other reasons I keep coming back to WDW (keeping in mind we especially enjoy the atmosphere, food and drink aspects of WDW more than the rides, which are bonus to us).
Favorite restaurant: Alfredo's in Epcot. Oh yeah, forgot, that's gone.
Favorite quiet hide-away for a quiet mid-day or evening drink: The Matsu No Ma Lounge in Epcot, where I first tasted sake 15 years ago and have loved it ever since and where my son has delighted not only on the origami presents from the servers, but on a few of them remembering him visit to visit, sometimes a year apart. Oh yeah, that's gone too now, absorbed into the main Japan restaurant.
Favorite WDW attraction, ever: Horizons. I still weep. Mission: Space is fun, but there's no spirit, no soul, no happiness. Just a cool simulator ride. Great as an addition, but came at the cost of part of Epcot's soul. As did World of Motion and the abomination that is the "re-imagineered" Journey Into Imagination.
Speaking of abominations, do not even get me started on the new Enchanted Tiki Room! Once a favorite guilty pleasure - my web domain, "hail the Tiki", is not a Polynesian reference but a tribute to that once great, imaginative show before it became just more character shill - it has been decimated into a Saturday morning puppet show. Again, I can get better entertainment and a county fair.
At the moment, the only truly special place on a personal level for me (even if not so much for the rest of the family) that sounds like it's been untouched is the Rose & Crown Pub in Epcot. Let's see how long that lasts.
Boo, Disney! Boo. I quickly went from shock and depression to anger and actual RAGE at hearing about the Club's eminent closing. To add insult to injury, I fly in to Orlando for this year's trip on September 28th. According to the press release, the very day after the Club closes. Swell. The family and I have already been planning next year's planned two-week trip down to WDW, and we are now seriously debating going elsewhere. Disney may still have great rides, but the MAGIC is spilling out faster than sand through a clenched fist.
Give us back our magic. Spare the Adventurers' Club, if not Pleasure Island. And if you won't, well, much as I hate to suggest it as it would itself diminish this great concept, but if you won't, FRANCHISE it. Sell the concept, the characters, and open Clubs around the country.
One better darned well be in Boston.
Hailing the Tiki (and Babylonia!), but losing my faith,
Kunguloosh! (To use our all-purpose greeting, and you can guess its meaning in this context.)
- Bismo "Traveling"" Beerbelly
Hailing the Tiki Since 1985!
Friday, July 04, 2008
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Monday, June 09, 2008
Mostly an uneventful weekend, which was nice as we've been keeping so busy the last few months. The Momma's mother came over for a (semi-surprise) visit Sunday afternoon. (Semi, 'cause The Momma knew she was coming but the message hadn't filtered down to me!) That was fun though, she was coming out to watch a blues concert I'd recorded a couple of months ago. "Lightning in a Bottle" was recorded at Radio City Music Hall a few years back, in 2004, and features as amazing a line-up of talent as you'll ever see in a single concert. The songs trace the history of the blues, starting with an African folk song and following the music through slavery, Jim Crow, the travel north to the cities... a fantastic concert if you get a chance tom see it. (Yup, it's available on DVD at a bargain price!)
Not long until we get our next vacation, a cruise to Bermuda to celebrate my parents' 50th anniversary. After a long winter with a lot of flus, colds and too much snow, yeah, I'm ready for the trip!
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
Buster originally didn't have much interest in Iron Man, though I'd told him he'd probably like it a lot... and he did, he agreed it was much more fun than Indy.
The Bluesmobile had been out of service last week with a bad voltage regulator, got that fixed and had no problems with her at the drive-in, a pretty good battery "torture test" since we're using the car stereo for the double-feature. (I fired her up for a few minutes in between movies.)
Now we're getting into vacation season again, finally! Family vacation's not too far off, when we'll be going on a cruise to Bermuda to celebrate my parent's 50th anniversary this summer. Should be a great trip, with the whole extended family going. Buster and The Momma have never cruised, and are waiting to see how they like it; I've only done it once (way back in 1989) but it was one of my favorite vacations so I'm looking forward to it.
Further out, Jake & I are in discussions for our annual blues get-away, looks like early in the fall this year... As always when we hit the road (or the skies) together, be afraid, very afraid!
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Monday, May 26, 2008
But overall, I didn't think much of it.
The middle was... okay. Not bad, some good fun in there, I especially liked the scenes at and around the college. The beginning should have been exciting and fun, but something about the pacing, the timing of everything just didn't work. It's always been traditional to jump right into an adventure with Indy in these movies, but after 19 years I think that was a big mistake here... we should've been introduced to Indy in his "mundane" classroom life first... let's see who our hero has become, before following him back onto the field. Think of the fun if we spend 20 minutes or so with Professor Jones, and then he has to go back in the field with Mutt so we get a big reveal scene of him putting on the costume once more! But no.
I see what they were doing. They're playing on the 50's B movie plots, as they did with the 30's and 40's adventure serials. Okay. But, it didn't work with the same character from those earlier serials.
It was fantastic, awesome to see Karen Allen back as Marion. But, she didn't really have much to DO now, did she? And except for the one fun dialogue scene in the back of the Russian truck (and it's set-up while they're sinking in the jungle), there wasn't a lot of chances for real chemistry between the two of them.
And man, is there some bad dialogue, especially near the end... wow.
So not too much detail here, still don't want to give away spoilers, but I think it was an opportunity missed. Some nice moments to treat the fans, subtle ("I've got a bad feeling about this") and not-so-subtle (Sean Connery's photo, a statue of Denholm Elliott). It's absolutely still a must-see to any fan of the franchise. I also know a few people that really liked it, though most are in the middle (I'm slightly below the middle, I'd say!) So go, and make of it as you will.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
The Israeli tourist was about to use an ATM in the main street of Kerikeri, in the far north of the country, when the men whistled, the New Zealand Press Association reported.
She calmly stripped off, used the cash machine, before getting dressed and walking away.
The woman told police she didn't take too kindly to the whistling from the men repairing the road.
"She said she had thought 'bugger them, I'll show them what I've got'," Police Sergeant Peter Masters told NZPA.
"She gave the explanation that she had been ... pestered by New Zealand men. She's not an unattractive looking lady," Masters said.
"She was taken back to the police station and spoken to and told that was inappropriate in New Zealand."(Original Story Location)