September 19, 2007

9/17: Buckcherry @ Hard Rock Cafe, NYC

Encore Blog...Rev up your engines!

“Excuse me sir…can I sit on your bike?” asks the 5’1, four-eyed English teacher. Forget fancy car shows and pimped out sedans. Four wheelers are for wussies! Monday night, Broadway’s Times Square was lined with the sweetest rides in town for Bike Night at the Hard Rock Cafe. Bikers from all over rode in to show off their choppers, compare chrome jobs and above all else, rock out to hard core L.A.-based band Buckcherry. 

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(Ross's competition)

To say I’m not much of a biker chick is an understatement. I owned leather pants once in my life, probably back in 1996 when I also thought putting my hair in hot rollers was stylin’, but ultimately came to realize that neither was a look I could pull off. And the closest I ever came to a tattoo was getting my hand henna painted down in the West Village on some incense-infused street corner. But, when Billboard asks if you’re able to cover one last show, you definitely don’t hesitate…and you definitely don’t care if it’s your favorite band playing or one you know absolutely nothing about. You’ll blog about the Wiggles if it means keeping your pro bono night job for just a little bit longer. So upon telling Billboard I was on board for the Buckcherry show at Hard Rock (though not revealing to Ross what we were seeing until showtime), I charged up my LG, did a little I-search about the artist(s) in question and stuffed my complimentary black backpack with an extra black and white marble notebook floating around my classroom. Hey, someone might as well use it!

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September 17, 2007

9/14: DMB @ Sound Advice Amphitheater, WPB, Florida

It’s only fitting that my final blog be from a DMB show! What an incredible summer this has been! Once again, thank you Billboard for letting me live out my dream as a music journalist. This was the best, won’t-pay-my-bills job I ever had! And to those of you who've actually taken the time to see the music world through my eyes, even for just a night or two, I hope you enjoyed!

Not having seen DMB since exactly one month prior on August 14th (can you feel my withdrawal shakes through the computer?)at SPAC, and having to experience Alpine Valley vicariously through mid-show texts and message board posts, I was counting down the days to my Florida excursion. Shacking up at hotel de Grandma and Grandpa offered a slightly different type of pre-show prep (brisket, anyone?), but no trip to the Sunshine State would be complete without some QT with the fam, right! After picking up my seat date Reid and fellow concert buddies Casey and Kristen from their poolside pre-party, it was time for the show at Sound Advice!

Um, is this a sauna or an amphitheater?? Can someone turn up the A/C please!?!? At around 8:30 pm on a steamy Friday night, DMB strolled onto the stage and thanked their sweaty, screaming fans for coming. It wasn’t too long before Dave astutely observed that it was “a little warm in here” and was in need of a wardrobe change. But, the sticky heat didn’t slow down the band or the audience. The guys put on an awesome show, the crowd was full of energy, and I was psyched I made the trip down south to see my favorite band in a new venue.

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September 16, 2007

9/9: Farm Aid Press Conference @ Randall's Island, NYC

If there was one show I really wanted to cover to this summer, it was Farm Aid…even writing a letter to the Farm Yard advocating for myself (which proved unnecessary anyway when you have Billboard in your corner). For those of you unfamiliar with this annual event (calling it a concert just doesn’t do it justice), here it is in a nutshell:  “Farm Aid is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to keep family farmers on their land.” Rock legends Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp organized the first Farm Aid show 22 years ago in 1985 to raise awareness about the loss of family farms and to raise money so that family farmers could keep their land. Dave Matthews joined the board of directors in 2001. Over the past 2 decades, it’s turned into a huge, all day affair that includes incredible musical performances, delicious food (all organic and family grown, of course) and information about how we, as music abiding citizens, can help support Farm Aid’s “Good Food Movement.” As a lover of both good music and good food (those of you who know me know that one doesn’t necessarily supercede the other), there’s no way I was missing the chance to blog about Farm Aid, especially since this was the first year it was going to leave its footprints on New York soil! Rather than staging this “longest running benefit concert series” somewhere in America’s heartland, as it has more often than not done in years past, Farm Aid’s board decided it was time to bring their big show to the Big Apple. Woohoo! I’m not the biggest fan of festival type shows (usually feeling cheated by the shorter set times, overwhelmed by the massive crowds and frustrated with the usually restricted general admission view), but Farm Aid is different…aside from the obvious (i.e. great music and food), it’s for a good cause and there’s a great “we’re one big happy family” vibe in the air. Quite simply, it’s just a really fun day! Oh, and Randall’s Island has actual seats in addition to GA lawn.

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Setting up shop at Icahn Stadium on Randall’s Island was the perfect choice, allowing the perimeter of the open field to be lined with concession stands of organic, family farm grown goods. From healthy versions of concert staples like French fries and chicken tenders (my personal concert meal of choice) to falafel, chicken kabobs, Cliff bars, granola and yogurt…us urban folks had a virtual smorgasbord of fresh, delectable choices to sustain us throughout the unusually hot September afternoon. Even the performers weren’t immune to temptation. Early in the day we spotted Tim Reynolds sampling some of the eats, and mid his acoustic set, Dave suggested we get some of the organic corn dogs, admitting that he “already had five.” Umm, perhaps a night I’m not tempted try to sneak onto his bus after the show. See, I’m not completely insane ;-).

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September 16, 2007

9/9: Farm Aid @ Randall's Island, NYC

Typical of festival type shows, the earlier part of the day was reserved for shorter sets, by less mainstream names like Polka rocker Jimmy Sturr, country crooner Billy Joe Shaver, rock n' rollers the Supersuckers, and The Ditty Pops, who proved their devotion to preserving the environment by biking over to the show (so said Darryl Hannah upon introducing them). 21st Century country stars Montgomery Gentry kicked off the transition into longer stage times with a 4 song set that included "Hillbilly Shoes," "Daddy Won't Sell the Farm," "What Do You Think About That" and "My Town."

Hassidic rap wonder Matisyahu stole the still sun-drenched afternoon portion of the show by bringing his religious infused rhymes to the mainstage. "Kodesh" aptly paid homage to the water, but it was his off the hook beatbox jam that was most inspiring and had us singing his praises! Derek Trucks took his own band out on the stage for a soulful set before joining the Allmans and then Mellencamp later in the night. The guitar phenoms wife Susan Tedeschi lent her harmonizing vocals to "Soul Serenade" and "Key to the Highway." Alterna pop/rock band Guster followed with a longer set filled with their put-a-smile-on-your-face-make-ya-wanna-bop-up-and-down organic tunes.

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Guster Set List:  Captain, Manifest Destiny, Satellite, Amsterdam, Airport Song

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Carmen and Camille @ S.I.R. Studios, NYC

Those of you still recovering from last week's MTV Video Award’s Britney Bomb need not fear any longer. The future of the world’s existence, and more importantly its potential to produce worthwhile pop princesses, is secure. Enter onto the music scene Carmen and Camille, 22-year old twin sisters from Vancouver who have been singing and playing music together since they were 5-years old. Key phrase there: “playing music.” These girls, sort of channeling Stevie Nicks with their long blonde hair, all black attire and hanging silk scarves, are as much talented instrumentalists as they are singers. Camille serves as vocalists, guitarist and songwriter while sis Carmen adds harmonizing vocals, flute and sometimes tambourine. The twin team has hit the hottest spots throughout Canada, sung their way through Budapest, Australia and the Caribbean, and recently starred as one of the only female fronted, non-metal acts at Locobazooka up in Mass.

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September 13, 2007

9/8: Tea Leaf Green at Blender Theatre at Gramercy, NYC

As if a 3 night run in NYC wasn’t enough, Tea Leaf Green topped off their third and final show at The Blender Theatre at Gramercy by giving their east coast fans a double dose of their California-based folk infused rock. How can you not love (and respect) a band that opens for itself!?!? Saturday night’s show treated all in attendance to Coffee Bean Brown, TLG’s mellower, acoustic twin brother. Before hitting us with 2 full sets of high energy rock n’ jam, the guys warmed us up with about an hour of their more folk inspired, west coast sounding harmonies and tunes. A sucker for an unplugged guitar, this was one of those rare occasions where I might have enjoyed the opening act just a bit more than the headliner….though I suspect there’s not too much competition between these two alter-egos as to which one steals the show. Ain’t no room for a 50 Cent vs. Kanye West smack down on this stage!

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Set List:

Coffee Bean Brown opener: Dreaming Without Sleeping, Rattlin’, I’m Not Fit, Barnacle B, Honey Bee, Biscuits, Packing Up, Carter Hotel, Cowboy’s Lullaby, Slip Away, Cops Took My Weed, For Every Lonely Lady, Harvest Time

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September 11, 2007

9/7: Afroskull @ Parkside Bar and Grill, NYC

Another Friday night…another night of discovering one of the many multi-talented, yet lesser known bands here in NYC. This time, it was off to the Parkside Bar and Grill on the Lower East Side for some “superfunk.” Laying aside all set plans to go home and kick my feet up after the completion of my first week back at my “real” job, I took the advice of trusted music lover and frequent concert companion Randy and ditched my four DVR’d episodes of General Hospital (yes, Sonny is STILL alive…don’t lie, you know you were wondering) for a couple of hours of what was promised to be great music. When Randy told me we were going to see his friend’s band, Afroskull, doubt immediately kicked in and visions of mullet-clad 80’s cover bands soared through my head (sorry Randy, couldn’t resist). Afroskull!?!?! Are you kidding me?? But, truth be told, Randy’s never steered me wrong…and what’s in a name anyway, right? After investigating further into the origin of the band’s name, I’m definitely not ashamed to admit that the meaning behind it WAS lost on me http://www.afroskull.com/theband.htm.

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September 10, 2007

Ari Gold @ Joe's Pub - 9/4, NYC

ENTOURAGE!  Ok, you know I had to make that reference.   Once again, I got to head down to Joe's Pub to check out Ari Gold's CD Release party.  Woohoo.  The place was packed so I found a place at the bar to enjoy the show from.  To be honest, I had no idea what to make of the show when I got there.  They were setting up a few stands for his backup singers.  They were both wearing masquerade-ish masks.  Throw in the guitarist, drums and saxaphone.  It was crowded up there.  Actually, I think there was a keyboardist, too. 

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September 05, 2007

8/29 Herbie Hancock Quartet, Ridgefield Playhouse, CT

Icon. Hero. Innovator. Just a few of the words used to describe the piano virtuoso that is Herbie Hancock. He’s a virtual legend in his own time, performing a Mozart piano concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at only 11 years old, joining the Miles Davis Quintet in his early 20’s and winning numerous Grammy Awards (not to mention an Oscar as well) for his solo work as a jazz pianist and composer. WHEW…did you get all that? I’m exhausted just writing it! To think that my biggest thrill at 11 was New Kids on the Block.

Needless to say, when I heard Mr. Hancock was making a stop at the little Ridgefield Playhouse, I immediately put in a request for the show. It’s not often you get the chance to witness first hand the talents of such a musical genius. I was as awestruck as I thought I’d be (if not more so), despite Herbie’s frequent chatter and interaction with the crowd…case in point, ME!

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September 03, 2007

8/28: Aaron Lewis @ Nokia Theater, NYC

One of the best things about being a Mobile Beat Blogger is going to shows that I most likely wouldn’t have heard about or thought I’d be interested in seeing even if I did know about them. Enter into my inbox an e-mail from Billboard asking if I could cover the Aaron Lewis (lead singer from alternative turned mainstream rock band STAIND) show at Nokia Theater. I’ll admit I was never a hardcore STAIND fan when the group hit its peak around 2001 with Break The Cycle, but signature (or dare I say radio friendly) hits like “Outside” and “It’s Been Awhile” frequently blared through my MTV screen or car radio…albeit just loud enough to drown out my tone deaf voice as I belted out Lewis’s angst-laden lyrics right along with him. So when I read that the shaved headed, tattooed rocker was stripping down for a solo acoustic show, “HAVE GUITAR, WILL TRAVEL” I was intrigued and immediately on board. Throughout the night I had to keep thanking myself for taking this assignment because it was definitely one of the most amazing and intense nights of music and, ironically, humorous shows (more about that later) I’ve attended this summer.  Not only does Aaron Lewis have one of the most incredible yet under appreciated voices in music today, he is also one of the most introspective and sensitive songwriters who really unveils all about himself in his emotionally vulnerable lyrics. Large-scale, smoke ‘n mirrors rock shows beware. Lewis’s back-to-basics, no frills 2+ hrs set is unscripted, real and raw…and funny??

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