Archive for the ‘music’ Category

Tonight, the final episode of “The Late Show with David Letterman” will air on CBS. While I’ll admit that I haven’t watched Dave much in recent years, I would be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to acknowledge his excellence over the years – nay, DECADES.

Back in my junior high and high school days, if I arrived at school the next morning looking tired, more often than not it was because I was up watching Letterman. Between his interactions with great guests (Bill Murray, Tom Hanks, Madonna, Howard Stern, Jack Hanna, etc), his regular interactions with Rupert Jee from the Hello Deli, and Stupid Human Tricks/Stupid Pet Tricks, what wasn’t to love? Guests and skits may tend to stand out, but to me, musical performances will always stick with me the most. Over the years, I’ve enjoyed countless musical guests, from a variety of genres/styles. For many of the older performances, I’d recorded them to VHS, and then additionally dubbed them over to cassette.

So here, from the Vivid Home Office (which may or may not be located in Sioux City, Iowa), is my personal Top 10 musical performances (that I have remembered) from The Late Show with David Letterman.

10) BLUES TRAVELER – “HOOK” (11/1/1994)

9) CHERRY POPPIN’ DADDIES – “ZOOT SUIT RIOT” (7/13/1998)
 

8) ENYA – “ONLY IF” (12/10/1997)
 

7) SPIN DOCTORS – “WHAT TIME IS IT?” (9/1/1993)
 

6) GIN BLOSSOMS – “FOLLOW YOU DOWN” (2/12/1996)
 

5) WHITE ZOMBIE – “MORE HUMAN THAN HUMAN” (7/14/1995)
 

4) COUNTING CROWS – “ACCIDENTALLY IN LOVE” (8/23/2004)
 

3) THE AIRBORNE TOXIC EVENT – “SOMETIME AROUND MIDNIGHT” (1/18/2009)
 

2) MEGADETH – “A TOUT LE MONDE” (2/2/1995)
 

1) GORILLAZ – FEEL GOOD INC (7/10/2010)
 

Farewell, Dave. Thanks for the memories. (more…)

We’ll go ahead and preface this entire entry under the label of “humblebrag”. Over the years, as a fan of various interests (music, sports, etc), I’ve been fortunate to meet a number of people involved in those interests. Plenty of wrestlers. Many musicians. Heck, somewhere out in the interwebz is a photo of myself alongside Vern Troyer (Mini-Me from the Austin Powers movies). If you’ll excuse me for a moment, I need to pick up that name I just dropped.

Very rarely have I ever found myself starstruck at the meeting of anyone – I can easily count those occurrences on one hand. Arguably the most bizarre occurrence was meeting at-the-time-editor of Metal Edge magazine, Paul Gargano. The funny part about it is that it wasn’t even a coincidental or unexpected meeting. We were in Los Angeles for a concert, and he was the interim manager for the band I flew out there for. This was a band whose members I had effectively become friends with over time, so I knew for sure that I would end up meeting Paul. Nonetheless, a tap on the shoulder while in the lower “basement” area of the Viper Room leading to an introduction from him caught me off-guard, and for a brief moment, I didn’t know what to say. Go figure.

Another one of those moments was yesterday. The local alt-rock station here in Kansas City – 96.5 The Buzz – does an occasional event known as “Kegs & Eggs”, where a musician/band will play a short set early in the morning while fans enjoy breakfast and drinks. In this case, the performer was singer/songwriter Meg Myers, who was in town for a show the night before. I’ve been a fan for a while, very familiar with her EPs, had listened to her on a few podcasts (her laughter is contagious), but had never seen her live. Having said that, it was a no-brainer for me to take a few hours off of work to go down and fix that.

I’m not sure at what point they reached capacity at The Tank Room, but I know there was minimal room remaining when I got there, which was about 7am. Meg went on-stage around 9:30, and even with only playing five songs (the K&E performances are usually never full sets), blew the audience away. She has been compared to artists like Fiona Apple, which is not a bad thing at all. Small in stature, but deep with her words & song lyric subjects, and boasting a powerful voice to back them up (look up her song “Heart Heart Head”, and absorb her lyrical delivery almost become Siren-ish towards the end).

Twenty seven minutes and five songs later, her performance was complete, and the crowd let out a collective exhale to catch its breath. I stuck around for a short while to catch up with a few members of the radio station, and at one point, had mentioned that I loved the show but was hoping that Meg would have stuck around after the performance. I was informed that she was still in the building, and asked if I would like to go say hello (YES). As I was walked down towards the back room she was in, I was mentally preparing myself for a scenario of her being in the room, perhaps carrying on casual conversation with a handful of people. Maybe there were already a bunch of people behind the door just waiting to meet her. As it would turn out, my mind couldn’t properly prepare myself for what awaited.

As the door opened to let me into the room, I saw her. All alone. Completely lost in her emotions as she sat there playing piano. One one hand, I wanted to say hello in the worst way and compliment her on her music and the performance. On the other hand, I could have stood there and watched her play piano for hours. Finally, I got the words “Excuse me, Meg?” to leave my mouth, and had a very brief exchange. Many thanks were said – from her to me for coming out to the show and supporting her, and from me to her for being an incredible artist who is amazing at putting mood to music. Our conversation was maybe two minutes at most, but I got lost in time.

To Meg: If you should happen to see this – Thank you again for putting out some of the best albums I’ve heard in quite some time, for being an even better live performer, and for giving up a couple minutes of your personal/alone time to talk with a fan who found himself lost within thoughts and almost struggling at times to convey those thoughts into words.

With Meg Myers (and the piano to the left), 7/23/2014 at The Tank Room in Kansas City MO

With Meg Myers (and the piano to the left), 7/23/2014 at The Tank Room in Kansas City MO

With 2013 coming to a (very quick, to me) end, it’s time to sit back and reflect on what the last 365 days have brought me. Some good, some bad, some elation, some heartbreak. Lots of lessons learned, and lots of new friends and acquaintances made. Here are a handful of the year’s highlights…

I don’t go out to concerts nearly as much these days as I did during my single/non-family days, but I did get the opportunity to catch two shows this year that were both monumental to me. In April Amy and I took in a performance by the living legend of St. Louis, Chuck Berry, at the legendary Blueberry Hill. Even at age 86 (87 now), the man still handles his business, and sounds as good as ever. That was a bucket list item for me. The opener for that show was the Andy Timmons Band (Timmons, formerly of Danger Danger, has done a multitude of studio sessions with great musicians, and his solo work is stellar).

The other concert for me this year was, also at Blueberry Hill, the 25th anniversary tour of the “Vivid” album from Living Colour. I’ve been a fan for years, and that album in particular is one that I hold in high regard within the category of “No-skips”.  I can let it play from the opening second of track 1 to the closing seconds of track 11, and not feel the need to skip over anything inbetween. An added plus was the opening act, the Steve Ewing Band (side project of the lead singer from The Urge).

I further submerged myself in the mix of St. Louis radio this year, in due part to several gentlemen. After a station/format rebrand, I (re) familarized myself with the group of Brian McKenna, Jeff Burton (formerly of 105.7 The Point), and John Edwards as Midday Mayhem on 590 The Man. Meanwhile, over on the internet radio broadcast side of things, a 3-man operation consisting of Ron Godier, Wade Trent, and Joe Cochran on TalkSTL.com created general shenanigans on their (scheduled) daily broadcast of WTF. In late June, they took their show on the road, for two days of broadcasts in Topeka KS at the Equality House (directly across the street from the Westboro Baptist Church). After joining them for both days, I left with a greater understanding and appreciation for everything the Equality House & Planting Peace Peace do, along with having made a number of new friends and contacts. Wade is out of radio now, having had his work as a musician really take off in the past few months, and Godier & Cochran are now on nights on 920AM along with the incomparable Brad Mulholland as The Daily Wrap.

My passion for mixed martial arts (MMA) grew by leaps and bounds this year, largely in part to the long-awaited and much-deserved UFC debut of Kansas City’s own “The” James Krause. He parlayed his success in the octagon this year into success with his business ventures, and bought into co-ownership of his gym, GrindHouse MMA, in Lee’s Summit (Jennah and I went out to visit the gym early last month; their setup is simplistic, yet phenomenal). I’ve also been able to familiarize myself with a number of other local/regional fighters, both professional and amateur.

The year brought a fair amount of success for various sports teams I follow.

– The St. Louis Blues returned to the playoffs for the 2012/2013 season, although they made a quiet and relatively uneventful exit. Prior to today’s game vs Minnesota, the Blues already have accumulated 26 wins on the 2013/2014 season – the first time in franchise history that they’d have more than 25 wins at the end of the calendar year.

– The Kansas City Chiefs rebounded from a forgettable 2012 season (both in terms of schedule/standings, and the stigma of a player murder/suicide) with a successful 2013, earning themselves a solid wild card slot, and travel to Indianapolis for playoffs this weekend.

– The New Orleans Saints will also return to the playoffs, clinching a wild card position this past weekend, and will visit Philadelphia to face the Eagles.

– The St. Louis Rams… well, they ALMOST finished with an 8-8 record.

– The St. Louis Cardinals returned to the World Series, and were two games away from being 12-time champions.

– The Kansas City Royals finished 5 games over .500 (their best season finish since 1989), and look to be in reasonably good shape going into the 2014 season.

– The Florida State Seminoles (my dad’s alma mater) returns to the national championship picture, undefeated, slated to go against Auburn next week.

The best of the best in my sports world, for 2013, was Sporting Kansas City. If you haven’t known me for a long time, this statement won’t ring as true to you as it will with those who have known me for years or grew up with me, but my passion for Sporting parallels that for the Cardinals (I can probably go three weeks without repeating a single Cardinals shirt or jersey – I’m quickly catching up with SKC gear). As the Kansas City Wizards, they came a long way from a team that nearly moved out of Kansas City a decade ago, to a team in 2010 who pulled off a huge upset victory in a friendly against EPL powerhouse Manchester United. 2011 marked the debut of the franchise rebrand, now known as Sporting Kansas City, along with their new stadium. They’ve made playoffs in all three seasons since then, culminating 2013 with winning their second MLS Cup.

2013 was not without its personal losses.  March brought the passing of my aunt Gail, who finally was overwhelmed in her battle with cancer. Although anticipated, especially with her final weeks being spent in home hospice, her death still hit me hard. I’m beyond appreciative of my daughter, for she was my rock during a very difficult time. She embraced and carried around the stuffed sheep my parents bought her to keep her occupied during the visitation, and she gave much-needed hugs and cuddles. She held my hand at the graveside service, only being momentarily distracted upon hearing a train passing by a little less than a mile away.

At the end of November, my parents faced the difficult (but correct) decision of putting one of their two cats down after he suffered multiple seizures, the later of which Phenobarbital was unable to control. Of the two (Simon and Garfunkel), Garf was the shy one, but would love you unconditionally once he got to know you. The first time I visited back home after their adoption, I didn’t see Garf for the better part of the first two days. Over time, and future visits, he warmed up to me and would remember me each time I came back home to visit, and was a total softy. I/we don’t have any scheduled trips back home to St. Louis anytime soon, but I face the fact that sometime between now and that next trip, I need to find a way to somehow explain to Jennah that her play buddy won’t be around anymore.

On a lighter, but still hard-hitting note, my car died earlier in the year. Coming home from work and daycare in early February, and the engine blew while on the highway. We were fortunate enough to be on a downhill portion of the highway at the time, and not only coasted down the offramp that was about a half-mile ahead, but lucked out with no traffic at the bottom of the ramp, allowing me to coast the car onto the street and into the parking lot of a gas station/truck stop uninterrupted, bringing the car to a stop in their lot. The process of getting the ol’ Punker back up and going again was long, stressful, and not cheap, but did get a smile out of knowing that the replacement engine that is in there now came to me from a shop along Route 66 in Illinois.

It would seem fitting that the end of the year would end up being the brightest to me, personally. Jennah is now 3 years old (3 and a half in February), and while she wasn’t quite at the age to really understand everything with Christmas last year, she was all about it this year. Helping out with decorations. Making sure the tree was on every day after daycare. Looking around for Christmas lights along the drives. No help needed from momma or daddy, she handled the unwrapping of presents all on her own this year. And I know that for as much as she enjoyed it this year (and subsequently made ME enjoy Christmas that much more), it’ll only get better next year.

I now await the conclusion of this year in its final few hours, and look forward to what 2014 brings. Here’s hoping that you (yes, you) will be a part of it.

Oh, and my New Year’s resolution? 1280 x 1024. Now you know.

Cheers.

Back on November 28th of last year, I penned this little ditty regarding the changes at KJCK-FM, 105.1 Jack FM here in Kansas City. Imagine my surprise when, about three weeks ago, a morning show was resurrected on Jack FM. Welcome to the era of “Jenn and the Tall Guy”. I tuned in for all of about two minutes of their segment time, and it’s two minutes of my life I can’t get back. The “Tall Guy” (real name, Dan Persieghl) sounds like he works too hard to sound like an overproduced Ryan Seacrest, and his personality is completely overpowered by his co-host, Jenn Ryan. In terms of the show’s power balance, she clearly has his balls in a jar on her side of the studio. They sit there, subjected to mundane Hollywood gossip talk and the like. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt that they discuss more than this, but I couldn’t tune out quickly enough.

Truta – I’m sorry you’re gone, but I’m glad you’re not a part of this trainwreck to the ears.

Let’s rewind back to the end of November, after the changeup at Jack. For lack of a better term, I was a radio station orphan. Having walked away from the only station I regularly tuned in to for years, I was a free agent. I seeked to find a new home. Ultimately, I found my home and my new on-air family with alt-rock station KRBZ, 96.5 The Buzz.

I’d been a fan of the station for a while, back when The Church of Lazlo was originally on air locally (he uprooted to Seattle for a two-year stint, along with his wife Afentra – we’ll get to her in just a moment). At this time, that was the only regular show on The Buzz I caught, as I worked evenings. During the Seattle years, their morning show was hosted by a guy named Dick Dale, who did nothing for me as a listener. I couldn’t get into it.

Bring it back to current day. Their morning show, “Afentra’s Big Fat Morning Buzz”, is my Monday-Friday ritual from 6am to 10am. Afentra is a sarcastic hardass Greek, yet a sweetheart, and a Red Wings hockey fan, which makes for some fun banter between the two of us. Her partner-in-crime, Danny Boi, is the suburban hip-hop white kid with a knack for writing and recording parodies. Their producer, Mark, is the quiet unsuspecting one of the bunch, although gets his weekly highlight hosting “Fifty Shades of Mark”.

Middays are hosted by Jeriney, who has two very strong suits – her ties and connections to local music, and being very in-touch with the music that defines her daily “90s At Noon” segment. For those reasons, especially the latter, she’s in my wheelhouse.

The afternoon is cemented with The Church of Lazlo, hosted by Lazlo. Sarcastic. Jaded. Detroit native. Pulls no punches. Tells it like it is. Four out of those five put him and I in related company. His co-host, Slimfast, is a gamer and internet/tech aficionado. Their producer, Meredith, is that dirty little hippie girl that you always wondered about. Collectively, they’re the on-air material that I can’t ever get enough of, but cannot have on the radio while my daughter is in the car. Can’t win ’em all, I suppose.

These personalities have welcomed me with open arms, and I interact with them regularly through both twitter and the station’s text line. Uniting worlds, a twitter conversation with Afentra and Lazlo last night ended up dragging Truta into the mix (he was happy to join). The crew from The Buzz are a blast to listen to and talk with, and with them come a great group of listeners – a number of whom I also talk with regularly on twitter. This is my on-air radio family, as dysfunctional as it is.

As word circulated around social media over the New Year’s Day break that the lights were officially off at Westport’s Beaumont Club, I began to weigh the potential reasons why that may or may not be true. While representatives for the venue still have not made an official comment as of the writing of this blog, it’s all but confirmed. The brother of one of my former roommates was a higher-up on the Beaumont Club’s staff, and was informed of the venue’s closure via Facebook. He still hasn’t been directly contacted by his employer.

Putting the bitterness aside, my mind then went to nostalgia. I’ve had some great times inside, and outside of, that building over the years. This even predates my move to Kansas City, as part of one of my weekend trips across the state included seeing Sebastian Bach (of Skid Row fame) back in early 1999. Nearly 14 years later, I’ve lost count of the various bands I’ve seen there. Kottonmouth Kings on multiple occasions. Multiple hair metal bands, including Poison’s Bret Michaels on his solo tour, and Ratt very shortly after 9/11. A full-scale performance from alt-rockers Ludo after an acoustic mini-set earlier that day at the Apple store. A reformed and touring Green Jello/Jelly, with whom I joined on-stage for the band’s performance of Three Little Pigs. I saw Christian rock band Stryper at the Beaumont Club, during which I was approached by a random girl and asked out on a church date. I wish I could say I was making this up (there were witnesses).

In mentioning the roommate’s brother earlier, there were also various occasions that we would stop by the venue when he was on-duty just to visit and mingle. Often times while the club was in country mode, and the mechanical bull in the back of the place was seeing action. While the setup of Beaumont’s main performance area wasn’t the best, and offered some awkward sightlines in the upper bar area, it was still my primary reason for ever visiting the Westport district.

Alas, too many things led to the downfall of Beaumont. Noise complaints from neighbors during the attempts at outdoor summer shows. Venues like the Uptown, and especially the remodeled Midland Theater, became much more attractive for touring acts and could draw the same/larger crowds. The “living room” area of the Power & Light District’s hosting of weekly country themed events, along with various free concerts during the summer, stole plenty of what used to be BC’s audience. If bands weren’t skipping over Beaumont and going to P&L for an outdoor concert option of similar size, they were going into the Crossroads. When you add those up, along with other various factors (rent expenses among them), it was a downward spiral that probably should have shut them down sooner than this.

As my friend Adam Caylor chimed in on Facebook, the venue’s very last show was a Battle of the Bands performance, and he is able to say he played it. Bittersweet, but memorable. The very last event in a long, varied list of events over its 20+ years of operations, including MMA fights and professional wrestling.

So long, Beaumont Club. It’s been fun.