September 16, 2007

STEVE VAI @ The Fillmore, San Francisco, CA 9.12.07

My last concert review assignment for Billboard/Mobilebeat -- what a bummer!

I have to say THANK YOU again to Billboard & LG for this wonderful experience -- I've enjoyed every minute of it, and hate for it to end!

But what an amazing show to get to see and photograph for my last assignment -- Steve Vai at the historic Fillmore in San Francisco.

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September 13, 2007

Butch Walker & The Lets Go Out Tonites; San Francisco, CA; 9.7.07

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Butch Walker has the type of career and respect millions would die for. From his role of front man of punk-pop band Marvelous 3, who had a hit in "Freak of the Week," to his great songwriting ability (he has written for the likes of Avril Lavigne, All American Rejects, Bowling For Soup, Pink, Fall Out Boy and many others), his current and long-standing successful solo venture, or his well-known producing abilities, this is a guy working non-stop in the music industry and doing a hell of a job.

Though he is technically a solo artist, Butch records and tours with his own band, and they are on the road now in support of their latest album, The Rise and Fall of Butch Walker and The Lets Go Out Tonites. When a date in San Francisco was added, I knew this wasn't a show I wanted to miss - I'd yet to catch Butch live and had heard nothing but high praise from my friends fortunate enough to have already.

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September 11, 2007

JEFFERSON STARSHIP @ The Sausalito Art Festival, Sausalito, CA 9.1.07

This assignment was definitely a highlight for me of the Billboard/Mobilebeat experience.     "Are you available Saturday to cover 'Jefferson Starship' at the Sausalito Art Festival?"   HELL YEAH!!! This is not like any Art Festival I'VE ever been to.   First of all, it's in one of the most beautiful spots in the world, Sausalito, on the San Francisco Bay -- you drive over the magical Golden Gate Bridge to get there, which to this day, is still exciting to me.    (You can also take a Ferry across the Bay from San Francisco.) 0901071801

Once again I'm amazed at the quality of the pictures I can take with this LG phone!!

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September 05, 2007

Ben Kweller; San Francisco, CA; 9.4.07

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One of the best things about being a Mobile Beat blogger is having the opportunity to attend shows by artists that I probably wouldn't have gone to see otherwise. Enter in Ben Kweller. Though I own a couple of his albums, I don't know his music very well. I can't really imagine that I would have jumped at the chance to go see him on my own, but when making my list for shows I'd like to cover for Billboard, I felt I had to put this one down. I've heard great things about Ben and was excited to see what the fuss was about for myself.

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August 22, 2007

ZAPPA PLAYS ZAPPA @ The Berkeley Community Theater, Berkeley, CA 8.20.07

0820072016a_5I'm sure you remember what the late Frank Zappa named his son, don't you?   Dweezil.   Dweezil Zappa.    And don't forget about Dweezil's sister, Moon Unit!   (Brother Ahmet and sister Diva's names aren't nearly as ... memorable!)

But WOW ... who cares if he has a goofy name ... Dweezil Zappa is an awesome guitar player, and I have so much admiration for what he's doing.

Dweezil was taught to play guitar by a member of his father's band in the early 1980's, "guitar god" Steve Vai.   Dweezil is an INCREDIBLY TALENTED musician.    He can play the hell out of that guitar!

He's had a successful career not involved with his father's music -- he was an MTV DJ, he's appeared in movies ("Pretty in Pink" comes to mind), he's played in bands, and has composed music.   

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August 21, 2007

KEB' MO' & ROBERT CRAY BAND, @ The Mountain Winery, Saratoga, CA 8.16.07

First of all, a big THANK YOU to my nephew Kevin and his wife, Devon, who gave me two tickets to see Keb' Mo' and Robert Cray at The Mountain Winery for my 50th birthday in April!     I'd never seen Keb' Mo', but Gary has a couple of his CDs and I knew I liked his music.     Gary often reminds me of one of Keb' Mo's lines ... "You don't have to shave your legs for me ..."    I like this guy!!    (Gary AND Keb' Mo'!)    We were both very excited to see him.

Robert Cray ... what can I say?     He's awesome, but I've seen him three times in the past year alone!   He opened for Buddy Guy at the Mountain Winery last year, he opened for Eric Clapton in San Jose in March, and we saw him at the Crossroads Guitar Festival in Chicago just a couple of weeks ago -- and now he was going to be opening for Keb' Mo'.   (Or so we thought.)   When I got stuck late at work I thought, "It's OK if we're a little late because Robert Cray is opening and we HAVE seen him three times just in the past year."     Then, when Gary and I decided we were both hungry and we really needed to eat something on the way, we stopped at a great little Fish & Chips place for a quick dinner on the way (I called ahead and our food was on the table for us when we arrived!) ... so we spent a little extra time doing that, but not a problem, because ... after all, we have seen Robert Cray three times ..

We arrived at the Mountain Winery for the 7:00 PM show at about 8:15, just in time to catch the last few songs of KEB' MO'S set!!   AAAUUUGGHHH!!    HE was the opening act ... for Robert Cray!!     (Don't they usually put the main act's name first, in larger letters with the opening act's name in smaller letters second?    Well, the advertisements and tickets and everything else said, "KEB' MO' and The Robert Cray Band.")     Well, enough whining about that ... we weren't sorry that we "HAD" to see Robert Cray, just that we'd missed a good hunk of Keb' Mo's show!

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August 16, 2007

TEA LEAF GREEN @ The Sweetwater Saloon, Mill Valley, CA 8.13.07

I was very happy to hear Billboard had been able to get me a ticket to the sold-out concert by up-and-coming local band Tea Leaf Green at another historic music venue, the Sweetwater Saloon, in Mill Valley, California.

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August 07, 2007

The Format; San Francisco, CA; 8.3.07

The Format, The Honorary Title, Limbeck, Steel Train and Reubens Accomplice. The line-up of this tour was a big flashback to 2002 through 2004 for me; almost all of these bands were ones I listened to frequently then. While I haven't kept up with most of them as well lately, I was thrilled when I saw this group would be touring together once more because it's guaranteed to be a good show.

There were two disappointments to start out my evening, the first of which was that upon stopping by the box office to get my ticket, there was no photo pass to go along with it. I had been looking forward to being able to get up close and get good shots of everyone, but sadly that was not able to happen. Second disappointment was by the time I got inside (if there is one thing I have mastered, it is getting lost in San Francisco no matter the amount of times I've been there), I had just missed Reubens Accomplice; I have seen them live before and they put on a great show.

When I saw Steel Train was setting up to go on next, I tried to get as close as I could since they were who I was most excited to be seeing. The Great American Music Hall was jam-packed, so it was difficult to get that great of a view, but once the band started playing I cast those worries aside and focused intently on the music itself.

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August 03, 2007

ERIC CLAPTON'S CROSSROADS GUITAR FESTIVAL @ Toyota Park, Chicago, IL 7.28.07

I still can't quite believe I got to go to Chicago to see ERIC CLAPTON'S CROSSROADS GUITAR FESTIVAL!!!     The minute they went on sale, Gary got on-line and bought tickets ... they sold out in 23 minutes.     This was our "summer vacation" trip planned long before I won the Billboard/Mobilebeat contest, but of course I ASKED Billboard if they could get me photo/press access since I already had a ticket.    (They tried their best,  but couldn't.)     You'll see that the quality of the photos I took at the concert aren't as good as they could have been if I were able to get "up close and personal," but this will give you an idea of the kind of photos "normal people" (who don't go through life with "special access")can take with this LG camera phone!

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July 31, 2007

BRYAN LEE & THE BLUES POWER BAND @ Buddy Guy's Legends, Chicago, IL 7.26.07

My long-awaited trip to Chicago finally arrived!    Gary and I are BIG Eric Clapton fans -- he's got a 37-year old son named Eric after you-know-who, and I, a more recent fan, have a dog named Layla!   (Speaking of Layla ... she is a VERY SPECIAL Dalmatian, and was just bred -- so we hope to have a houseful of little "Laylas" soon.   As the doggie people say, "Keep fingers & paws crossed!")    Anyway, we are BIG blues fans, and BIG MUSIC FANS in general, and when we heard Clapton was putting on another "Crossroads Guitar Festival," this time in Chicago, Illinois on July 28th ... our summer music festival travel plans were SET.   We both have to work for a living ... I have two young kids (and three dogs) ... as much as we'd LIKE to, we can't do them all.     No doubt about it ... there would be no 10K Lakes or High Sierra or Vegoose or any other trips this summer for us ... we're goin' to CHICAGO!!!

Arriving at our hotel after midnight Wednesday night (with a big thunder storm approaching), we decided it was too late to strike out in search of live music that night (silly us!), so Thursday night, after a day of sight-seeing in a surprisingly BEAUTIFUL and CLEAN big city (with no homeless people sleeping in doorways, and the most gorgeous flowers you've ever seen growing in planter boxes and hanging baskets EVERYWHERE) we headed over to Buddy Guy's "Legends" to see Bryan Lee & the Blues Power Band.

Bryan Lee & The Blues Power Band were H-O-T.    This guy is one busy musician ... check out the schedule on his website (https://www.braillebluesdaddy.com/schedule_dates.html) and you'll see he's booked 5-6 nights a week through October.

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July 26, 2007

Rebel Alliance Jam, Blakes on Telegraph, Berkeley CA 7/22

Once again my travels brought me in to the Bay area for another unbelievable weekend of musical bliss. This time it was a weekend at the Greek Theater for two nights. Saturday nights show was headlined with The String Cheese Incident, Sound Tribe Sector 9, and The Disco Biscuits. This was an evening that featured some of the groundbreaking acts in the realm of live electronica. The String Cheese Incident showed off their diversity by bringing the electronic edge the first night, and following that with a completely different feel the following night. By enlisiting help from the bluegrass and americana feel of both Railroad Earth and Hot Buttered Rum String Band on Sunday night, S.C.I.'s musical diversity highlighted why so many people are willing to travel so far for their concerts.

Following an daytime bluegrass themed show at the Greek Theater, there was an allstar jam with members of all three bands that took place in an intimate 200 person venue called Blakes On Telegraph:
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Ryan Adams & The Cardinals; Berkeley, CA; 7.24.07

When I found out I'd be covering Ryan Adams, I wasn't sure what to expect. I'd liked what I'd previously heard of his music, but wasn't too familiar with much of it and didn't know what the live show, or the man himself, would be like. But as most of us settled into our seats, Ryan went up and down the aisles taking song requests from fans all over the theatre, kneeling down or grabbing an empty seat nearby in order to attain eye-level with them as they shared a conversation. Watching him interact with his fans was enough to bring a smile to my face, and that smile never left the rest of the night.

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July 24, 2007

STRING CHEESE INCIDENT (2) @ The Greek Theater, Berkeley, CA 7.22.07

There's something very special about this band and the way they make you feel.    They have the ability to "take you to another place."     I think this photo says it all -- just take a look at the rainbow of sunlight shining down while String Cheese was playing one of their encores with Railroad Earth.

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HOT BUTTERED RUM, RAILROAD EARTH @ The Greek Theater, Berkeley, CA 7.22.07

Don't know how we managed to do it ... even after 7 hours of dancing the day before, we were able to get up the next morning and get back up to Berkeley (with the help of a little Extra Strength Tylenol and lots of coffee) for another show!     Gates opened at 11:30 am, and the show started at 1:00 pm.    Another gorgeous day ... a nice breeze, but in the sun on the concrete bleachers at the Greek Theater, it was HOT.   Despite the heat, the crowd was just as happy as they'd been the day before.
Sunday was a Bluegrass day -- with local San Francisco band Hot Buttered Rum opening.   I've seen these guys before and they are H-O-T.    These guys are young and enthusiastic, and they really endeared themselves to this Mom of 2 boys when they announced that all their Moms were in the audience that day.

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STRING CHEESE INCIDENT @ The Greek Theater, Berkeley, CA 7.21.07

When String Cheese started to play I looked around at the audience and saw nothing but smiles.    String Cheese appeals to so many people because their music is upligting and just plain HAPPY.    I thought the young people in the crowd were probably there to see the opening bands ... but I was wrong.    We were ALL there to see String Cheese.      And you CANNOT stand still.   In fact, I defy you to enjoy an "Incident" (as String Cheese's shows are referred to) without breaking into a big, goofy grin and/or dancing with wild abandon.

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THE DISCO BISCUITS, SOUND TRIBE SECTOR 9 (STS9) -- opening for String Cheese Incident @ The Greek Theater, Berkeley, CA 7.21.07

First of all ... look at the names of these bands who played at the Greek Theater in Berkeley this past weekend ... Disco Biscuits ... String Cheese Incident ... Hot Buttered Rum ... is anybody else getting HUNGRY???   

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July 14, 2007

CHARLIE MUSSELWHITE @ Windsor, CA 7.12.07

Thursday evening I was able to catch legendary Blues man, Charlie Musselwhite's show in Windsor, California -- a small town about 50 miles north of San Francisco in the beautiful Sonoma County wine country.    (It seems lots of world-class musicians make their home in the San Francisco Bay Area!)    This was an outdoor concert -- it was a spectacular day -- and I think all 26,000 of Windsor's residents (plus all their friends!) were THERE.

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July 12, 2007

HOUSTON JONES @ Stafford Park, Redwood City, CA 7.11.07

I stumbled upon this wonderful gem of a band playing at a summer concert series in, of all places, my local neighborhood park, sponsored by my hometown's Civic Cultural Commission.    (I love this town!)   I had read the description of the band playing tonight, "Houston Jones," describing their music as "high octane Americana" -- playing a mix of everything from electric blues to bluegrass, with a little gospel, folk, rock and country thrown in.

It sounded like fun, so my youngest son (8 1/2) and I changed into our tie-dye shirts, drove through McDonald's for a Happy Meal (and a Caesar salad for Mom), and headed to the park.    I love these outdoor summer concerts ... LOTS of cute kids running around and dancing, families picnicking, the opportunity to run into friends, neighbors (and even relatives! -- I ran into my nephew and his wife), dogs of every shape, size and color ... and tonight we were treated to some truly EXCEPTIONAL music.

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PAGE McCONNELL, very "Phish-y" @ The Fillmore, San Francisco 7.10.07

Chances are, if you're a Phish fan, you will really enjoy Page McConnell's solo tour as it has a very "Phish-y" feel to it. There are even some not-at-all subliminal messages to the audience about Page's musical roots ...

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July 10, 2007

Battle of the Bands; Marshall Law Band, Redwood City, CA 7.4.07

     Welcome to my hometown, Redwood City, California -- a suburb of about 76,000 people, about 25 miles south of San Francisco.   The town's motto is "Climate Best by Government Test."   When a certain "government" was searching for the "world's most temperament climate" back in the 1930's, Redwood City, California was tops on the list.  (Rumor has it that the "government" which made this discovery was Hitler's Nazi party ... but let's not dwell on that -- just remember that the climate is, indeed, nearly perfect.)    And it was a perfect day for Northern California's largest 4th of July Parade.

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July 03, 2007

Warped Tour; Mountain View, CA; 7.1.07

The summer staple for rock fans that is Warped Tour recently kicked off its lucky 13th year and is showing no signs of slowing down. This was my sixth year going and I've come to find that with seven stages and over 50 bands, it would take a miracle of scheduling in order to see all the acts you'd like. Because of so much going on, Warped truly is an individual experience for every person that attends, which makes it a bit difficult to recap as a whole; however, I will at least take you through some of the highlights of my day.

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Circa Survive from side-stage

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Hot Tuna, Fillmore, San Francisco CA 6.29.07

Tonight I had the pleasure of seeing Hot Tuna performing acoustically at the legendary Fillmore in San Francisco.
Hot Tuna was a "side project" started in the 60's by long-time friends, Jorma (pronounced "Yorma") Kaukonen (guitar) and Jack Casady (bass) who were then members of the psychedelic San Francisco rock band, The Jefferson Airplane.

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        JACK CASADY and  JORMA KAUKONEN

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