Monthly Archives: August 2013

That Voice

When I heard late last night that Linda Ronstadt has revealed to
an AARP magazine reporter that she has Parkinson’s Disease
I felt just terrible.  She didn’t do lindaall1anything stupid, or dumb to deserve this. It just happened.  But, when I read further that she has permanently lost her ability to ever sing again, I was crushed.

Memories of all those albums and incredible duets flooded in (I’m sitting here listening to the album she and Emmylou Harris made).  I even saw her on Broadway back in the early 80s in the zany and very campy Pirates of Penzance. And now, to hear that that special gift she has shared with the world for all these years has been robbed from her is tough to take.  Yeah I know, life’s not fair.  Yet, having spent a delightful couple of hours with her conducting an interview in the 1990s, I know that if anyone has the stuff to turn this adversity into some kind of asset, it’s Linda Ronstadt.  That conversation back in NYC was one of the most satisfying interviews I’ve ever conducted.  She sparkled throughout it, celebrated music like some new singer on the scene, and shared one wonderful story after another with me and my listeners.

All the best Linda.   We’re rooting for you.

Read the entire AARP article here.

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By | 2013-08-24T20:39:34+00:00 August 24th, 2013|Uncategorized|Comments Off on That Voice

Wayne Shorter Turns 80: Freedom of Expression!

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As the great saxophonist, composer, bandleader and NEA Jazz Master Wayne Shorter turns 80 years old on August 25th I’m led to simply remember some recent performances I’ve experienced by The Wayne Shorter Quartet. I’ve seen Wayne with pianist Danilo Perez, bassist John Patitucci and drummer Brian Blade at the 2011 Montreal Jazz Festival, at the Detroit Jazz Festival in 2012 and most recently at the 2013 Newport Jazz Festival, where they were joined by Wayne’s old friend Herbie Hancock.

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The title of the band’s latest release is no flippant one. It’s Without A Net. Having heard the performances and talked to the band members, as well as hearing Mr. Shorter’s comments at a panel discussion conducted by former band member Rene Rosnes in Detroit featuring the entire band, I know that their intent is to make music by being in the moment with complete freedom of expression.

 

Since Wayne is a longtime practicing Buddhist he lives his life as he makes his music. The past is gone, the future never arrives and the way to make music is to “be here, now!” Besides enjoying the marvelous output of this great master we can also learn a lot about how to live our lives at the same time, while we wish him the happiest of birthdays!

 

Russ Davis began his career in jazz radio by creating a special program called Jazz Flavours in 1978 at WQXI-FM in Atlanta. Since 1999 Russ has produced and hosted a weekly program  Jazz America for VOA.  It continues today and is heard worldwide each weekend by an estimated audience of 134 million listeners. His latest endeavor is the creation of the world’s Modern Jazz online radio station, Moja Radio.

 

 

By | 2013-08-24T00:36:28+00:00 August 24th, 2013|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Wayne Shorter Turns 80: Freedom of Expression!

A Farewell To Maxwell's

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Maxwell’s, the legendary Hoboken, NJ rock club closed on July, 31st after 34 years.

Although I worked there for the last three years, I started going to the club in 1982 and it’s been my favorite rock joint ever since.
Several things come to mind when asked to explain what made Maxwell’s so special; Firstly, nobody checked to see if you had the right haircut when you came in. The front bar/restaurant was immediately welcoming. The food was great and so was the jukebox and there was always work by local artists displayed on the walls. In earlier times there were dance recitals, poetry readings and a regular film series. It was a great place to hang out even if you didn’t happen to come there for the music that night.

When you did come for the music, you really understood what made Maxwell’s so special. Physically, the back room held about 200 people. The stage was about 2 feet high so you could really see ’em sweat. The sightlines were really good and the sound was always excellent. (Bad sound guys didn’t last very long).max2

The real thing that made Maxwell’s so great was the wildly inventive and eclectic booking policy. Initially, the bookings reflected the tastes of original owner Steve Fallon and later Todd Abramson, who also became an owner through the rest of the club’s run. Both men had great instincts and they were always willing to give new untested artists a shot. If you had something to say, you got a place to say it and an audience that was both eager for, and attuned to, new sounds. Maxwell’s also treated bands extremely fairly. There was always a meal and a drink and even if you didn’t draw enough to make any money, there was often a floor to sleep on and gas money to get to the next gig. A rock club treating a band fairly shouldn’t be a headline but sadly it is and it kept bands coming back and playing there long after they outgrew the club.

You’ve probably heard that R.E.M., Nirvana, Yo La Tengo, Pavement, The Feelies, Sonic Youth, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and err, Oasis played crucial early gigs there. You’ve certainly heard that Bruce Springsteen filmed his “Glory Days” video there, too, but the club also hosted Sun Ra, The Cowsills, Soundgarden, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Doug Sahm, Schooly D, Wanda Jackson, The dBs, Syl Johnson, Alex Chilton, The Go-Betweens and thousands of others. Hell, even Blue Oyster Cult played there once under an assumed name.

I was lucky to see many of the aforementioned shows. I was luckier still to make some great friends amongst the music fans in the room. I spent half of my life going there and I’ll always remember it as club who’s mission was to put great music and great fans together and let it rip; RIP Maxwell’s.

Mike Rosenberg is a life-long music geek, which includes 35 years of hard labor at various record labels, night clubs and too many record stores to keep track of.
The first record he bought was Telstar by The Tornados.
By | 2013-08-20T01:25:55+00:00 August 20th, 2013|Uncategorized|Comments Off on A Farewell To Maxwell's

Full Circle

Can you imagine Paul McCartney giving the final concert at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park? Makes sense doesn’t it? It is, after all, a rather important place in Beatle history. The “Stick” is the location of the very last Beatles’ concert EVER (not counting the Let It Be rooftop lunchtime set). The S.F. show ended their US tour back in the summer of 1966. Little did the other lads know that John had privately made up his mind about ending touring. He was done with the insane road schedule, all the non-stop screaming and the crappy sound systems that met them in every city.paulfinal

Now word has just slipped out of City Hall in San Francisco that something big came up while hellos were exchanged at the big Outside Lands Festival at Golden Gate Park last week. Mayor Ed Lee, Paul and Phil Ginsburg of the Park and Rec Department were chatting backstage before Paul and his band hit the stage last week before 65,000 concert goers. Paul congratulated Mayor Lee on being the first Asian mayor of San Francisco and mentioned Candlestick Park getting ready to meet the wrecking ball. McCartney then stunned the mayor by saying “Well, if you are going to tear down the stadium next year, we should think about us doing the last concert there.” Just like his concert with Billy Joel at the old Shea Stadium a few years ago before they tore it down, Paul now wants to do the same thing on the other coast. Wow, that came together fast!

candlefinal.BTW, on August 29, 1966 the Beatles played for 30 minutes in front of 25,000 fans and the tickets were priced at $4.50 and $6.50. I gotta feeling those numbers are going to be just a bit larger if this Candlestick farewell happens.

By | 2013-08-20T00:55:41+00:00 August 20th, 2013|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Full Circle

If These Walls Could Talk

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Call me weird, but I’ve always been fascinated by recording studios.
When I was young I used to closely examine photos of bands
shot in studios while making their masterpieces, like some kinda junior, musicologist detective.  The Beatles at Abbey Road, the Bryds in some LA studio or Dylan (always in shades!) at the mid-town CBS studios in NYC.  It’s like they were musical, mad scientists and these were their laboratories.  Always late at night in their element, cooking up some gem that in a few months time would get mixed and pressed into vinyl.  Ultimately, making it to me and my turntable at some radio station.  It was truly a magical process!ray5

Here in the Bay Area as I head home every night from my radio gig, I often find myself driving by one of THE legendary studios of the 70s and 80s.  It’s the world famous Record Plant, Sausalito.  There it is, in an industrial area, closed up and for sale.  Occaisionally opened up for some groovy wine and cheese party.  “Ooh, this is where Fleetwood Mac recorded Rumors, may I have another cabernet?”  Yeah, it’s the room where Rumors, The Dead’s Wake of the Flood, Santana’s Supernatural, Gregg Allman’s Laid Back, Nils Lofgren’s Cry Tough, Stevie Wonder’s Songs In the Key of Life, and John Fogerty’s Centerfield all happened!  It’s a California landmark.  Yes, if those walls could talk!

ray2One of the more famous radio broadcasts on KSAN back in 1973 was with Bob Marley and the Wailers here at the Record Plant.  Saxman David Sanborn told me recently that most of the famous recording studios are now gone.  Artists just don’t seem to record in big rooms anymore.  What a shame.  Let’s hope this building stays standing and gets another chance to make some sonic magic.

By | 2013-08-18T14:21:26+00:00 August 18th, 2013|Uncategorized|Comments Off on If These Walls Could Talk

Another Feather In His Cap

Congrats to one of my very favorite piano players on receiving America’s most prestigious arts award; The National Medal of Arts. New Orleans legend Allen Toussaint was at the White House last month as Prez Obama honored and placed the well deserved ribbons and medals on Allen Toussaint and a marvelous gang of Americans including Renee Fleming, Herb Alpert, George Lucas and Elaine May.t1

Allen Toussaint is part of a rather long, impressive line of New Orleans pianists and trailblazers that runs from Jelly Roll Morton, Professor Long Hair, Fats Domino, and Dr. John to Toussaint. With tunes like “Mother-in-Law”, Working in the Coal Mine”, “Southern Nights and “What Do You Want the Girl to Do?” he has written or had an arranging hand in some of the Crescent City’s best stuff. Elvis Costello, Aaron Neville, Eric Clapton, Boz Scaggs and Paul McCartney have all admired and worked with this legend. I’ll never forget Allen sitting down at the piano and joining us in the studios of the CD 101.9 in New York. It was June 8, 1998 and while broadcasting the Pat & Ray Morning Show he broke into a very funky N.O. styled version of Happy Birthday for yours truly. One of my coolest memories…EVER. Allen, you’re the man!

Here’s one to add to your collection—his 2009 Bright Mississippi release on Nonesuch. It’s about as funky, down home and original as an album can be. There is truly nothing like a New Orleans piano player at the top of his game. It’s like a musical history lesson pouring out of the speakers. t2

By | 2013-08-18T14:07:05+00:00 August 18th, 2013|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Another Feather In His Cap

George Duke 1946-2013

We lost George Duke earlier this week.  Just 67 with so many good years ahead, I find his passing very sad.  He was such a gift to the music world.  What a keyboard player!   All smiles and laughs backstage and in the dressing room.  He’d make his way to the stage and piano waving and grinning to all in the crowd.  But, as soon as the music started, he was a funky, focused, one of a kind master at the piano.  Watch out, “Dukey” was on stage!duke2

I was first introduced to George’s playing in my old progressive FM radio days.  In one of those little FM studios with dim lights, incense, freaky artwork, beads hanging around the turntables and always GREAT speakers blasting, we’d play cool stuff on the air.  In between Led Zep, Steely Dan and the Beatles we’d slip in Nick Drake, Brand X, and the Flying Burrito Brothers…and then, there was Zappa.  Frank Zappa always had the best bands going.  He hand picked special cats to be on his records and in his band.  Sitting at the Fender Rhodes electric piano in my favorite Zappa period was Northern California’s George Duke.  A boatload of talent with the tastiest licks, fills and solos that always seemed just perfect no matter what tune Frank had just called out.Duke swam in many musical seas; jazz, pop, rock, R&B, Brazilian, and progressive music.  A truly inspired player who could nudge along a band and make them take whatever tune they were in the midst of playing and make it special.  Cannonball Adderley to Zappa, to Milton Nascimento and even Michael Jackson, he played with all the greats.   He even had a big top forty hit with bassist buddy Stanley Clarke called Sweet Baby.  A bittersweet pop, R&B masterpiece from the early 1980s that yours truly probably played once too many times on the air. But, I never got tired of his energy, creativity and soul.

I’m about to order his last CD (DreamWeaver) which was just released about a month ago and deal with the fact that I’ll never see the smiling George Duke hit a stage and brighten up a room and audience ever again.

Goodbye George.

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And, thank you!

By | 2013-08-17T23:52:20+00:00 August 17th, 2013|Uncategorized|Comments Off on George Duke 1946-2013

Gregg Allman In Paperback

I finally got around to the Gregg Allman book, My Cross to Bear, which came out recently in paperback. What was I waiting for? It’s so much better than I could have imagined. gregg2

Like the Keith Richard’s autobiography, I’m surprised at how thorough and honest this read is. Man, in detail, we hear how the Allman Brothers Band struggled, starved and clawed their way into existence. The whole time honing their chops as they became, for a spell back in the early 70s, the #1 band in America. Yes, there’s some Cher gossip, as well as lots of road stories. BUT, the main thing is, the curtain is pulled back on Gregg’s relationship with his talented brother Duane. After Duane’s early death the brotherly love, competition and chemistry still lived on. With close to twenty years of sobriety Gregg Allman gives a clear, fabulous retrospective on one man’s special life in the wild word of rock n’ roll music. He’s an American original that has seen it all and his music stories are worth the read.

By | 2013-08-17T23:29:28+00:00 August 17th, 2013|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Gregg Allman In Paperback