Note: This email marks the beginning of my year end summaries. These are your requests. And I am more than pleased to comply. It also helps me get a perspective on exactly what I have seen and done, and what I need to do in the future. It has been a most worthwhile exercise. And I thank all of you for that!
I promised that 2014 would be a better year for music. Last year (2013) was quite sad, save for the big Boss (Bruce Springsteen) concert in San Jose. But the rest of the year was dismal, or completely missing. So, I am going to get January started with four concerts. Let’s hope it carries over to the rest of the year.
Start the year off right with a true folk legend, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, he of two Grammy fame, and ties to many of the greats in the music of his era. Follow this up with an all Beethoven program at the San Francisco Symphony under Maestro Michael Tilson Thomas.
One piece between the two Beethoven works was a “modern” five environments of exploration by Mason Bates. Strange, mostly weird sounds, but I did find three more musical instruments that I can add to my repertoire. They are, hold your applause now, the broom, the manual typewriter, and two sandpaper blocks!
Other legends coming to the Bay area are Chick Corea, performing with Bela Fleck. Corea is a master jazz and fusion pianist in the post John Coltrane era. He attended Julliard for six months, then quit to join Cab Calloway, and later, the great Miles Davis. He has been nominated for 59 Grammies, and won twenty! A banjo and a piano, a strange mix, very eclectic, but somehow the results are extraordinary.
Later in the month, the fabulous Eagles, performed in San Jose. You can probably name at least three songs. Remember Elaine’s boyfriend who thought “Desperado” was his inspirational song. Can you name the four members? Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Bernie Leadon, and Randy Meisner, with a total of six Grammys. And whatever happened to that lead singer gal named Linda? It was a great show!
How is this for luck or good fortune. One of my all time favorites, Paul Simon, is playing in Seattle with Sting? Two legends for the price of about three. I have seen Paul Simon solo acoustic, with his big band, and with Artie the G, and with the San Francisco Symphony. And Sting I saw in Concord with The Police. Their voices are still strong and clear, their music truly great and timeless. As I have said, many times, you must see these great performers while they are still alive!!!
Time for a little jazz, with legend Hugh Masekela, the African horn, specifically flugelhorn player. He appears at the new San Francisco Jazz Center, on Franklin Street in the City. It will be my first visit there.
Follow this up with one of my favorite bands of all time, Air Supply, playing in Vacaville. They have been around for about thirty plus years, but their hits still ring true. And we sat in the front row!
The only reason to visit the state of Texas, and Dallas in particular, is to attend the free Bruce Springsteen concert in Dallas. It is part of the big NCAA Final Four festivities in downtown Dallas. While I may attend a basketball game, the music is the reason for going! So, who goes all the way to Dallas for The Boss? And then who goes to the Dallas Symphony Orchestra to hear Handel’s Water Music? Me. But their horn players were weak, but the woodwinds were very good.
Back in the Bay Area, we went to see Jay and the Americans at Yoshi’s in San Francisco. What a treat to hear some old doo wop music that we often see on PBS pledge drives. In fact, this is preferable to watching the pledge drives. And it is amazing how involved they were in the success of many other artists, like Neil Diamond, Gene Pitney, and Roy Orbison.
While in Ann Arbor, I caught the spring concert of the University of Michigan concert band. Sadly only about 50 people showed up, and to top it off, it was free. What gives? Perhaps the trombone solo is a little too eclectic for many music lovers.
I will be out of the country for most of the month of May. I will probably not attend any musical events that any of you have ever heard of, since I will be in Japan, and Russia (Siberia). I have heard much bad music in Russia, in bars, clubs, and on the street. The lowlight was the “Numusic” symphony in St. Petersburg, with a squeaky oboe, blaring trombone solo (again!), and ear-splitting vibes. Many of you still call it Leningrad!
Perhaps one of Canada’s best is singer Sarah McLachlan, who is appearing at the Greek Theater on the UC Berkeley campus. I have always enjoyed her songs. She has won two Grammy Awards, and sold over 40 million albums world wide. She also founded the Lilith Fair tour which showcases female musicians. She is so talented, along with singing, she played the piano, guitar, and ukulele. What a great talent.
I always enjoy the summer series of the San Francisco Symphony. They will perform one of my all-time favorites, George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, along with some Bernstein, Copland, and Ravel’s Bolero. Then again to Davies Hall later in July for an evening of ABBA music. Summer and the San Francisco Symphony is always a great time, a little lighter, and lots of fun!!!! And dinner in the City is great fun.
I actually have talked to some people that do not know about the 4th of July music and fireworks on television. I much prefer this great celebration, either from Boston, NYC, or DC. The local shows are just not worthwhile, dealing with people (over a million), traffic, and mosquitoes (not necessarily in that order!).
A solo cellist is not my idea of a great evening of musical entertainment, particularly when he plays Bach. Yo-Yo Ma does deserve the benefit of the doubt. But in Berkeley’s fabulous Greek Theater, I just think a bigger, fuller sound is needed. And thank you Beth for keeping me company.
Bruno Mars is one of the most dynamic young entertainers in show business today. Winner of multiple Grammy Awards, he appears in Tahoe at the Harvey’s Outdoor Theater. He is from Hawaii, and we saw his uncle sing and dance last September at a friend’s wedding in Honolulu. I was able to catch a goodly portion of his concert (long story).
Aside from hearing some non-descript bands down in the Fresno area, music was at a premium as we are getting ready to move.
When in Seattle, the place to go for music, music history, and musical greatness in the Experience Music Project (EMP) at Seattle Center, created by Paul Allen. I always enjoy the Jimi Hendrix exhibit, this year with emphasis on his many concerts in Great Britain.
As the year winds down, I see that my concert going has also dwindled. I guess I am just too busy to get over to the San Francisco Symphony just one more time. Does it count if I saw Steve Perry, formerly of Journey, sing at the Giants NLDS game?
Vegas presents many options, none too good right now, in my opinion. Wait, Lady Antebellum played for free on the Fremont Street Experience, as we walked by.
So, my music year ends on a down note, so to speak. But how many other music fans had to endure not one, but two trombone solos in a year? I deserve some new earplugs or headphones for hazardous duty. The trombone is not a desirable solo instrument, unless accompanied by 75 other trombones to make, alas, from Music Man, Seventy Six Trombones!!!
The only highlights were The Boss and Bruno!!! This was followed by Yo-Yo, and Sarah, Simon and Sting. Maybe the music year was not so bad!!!!
P.S. I am stopping my yearly musical summary. I may try something else. Thanks for reading, and please keep enjoying the music genre of your choice!!!