POCO – Infinity Music Hall Hartford, CT – February 24, 2018

Poco played the Infinity Music Hall to a sold out crowd of dedicated fans. The band is celebrating their 50th anniversary and is still giving it their all.
Poco in 2018 consists of Rusty Young – pedal steel guitar, banjo, Dobro, guitar, mandolin, lap steel guitar, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, vocals; Jack Sundrud – bass, acoustic guitar, vocals ; Michael Webb – keyboard, accordion and mandolin; and Rick Lonow on drums, percussion.
Rusty Young, Richie Furay, Jim Messina, Randy Meisner and George Grantham were the founding members of the band Poco in 1968. Although most of the original members are no longer playing the four present this night were very much into making an enjoyable night for everyone. They are still holding up the traditions of one of the most well loved bands of the late 20th century.
Rusty started out the evening with a big smile and made the comment that the guys in the band were “All Fired Up” before launching into the well known song. The audience clapped along and got right into the spirit of the night.
They then played “Good Feelin’ To Know” which was followed by “Rose of Cimarron” It seemed like Rusty may have had a slight cold and coughed a couple of times during the songs. But, that didn’t detract from his recognizable voice and the band’s top notch playing.
Jim Messina, one of the founding members and the opening act to Poco, did a walk on to play a couple of songs. You could tell by the banter between Messina and Young that they still after all these years are friends and enjoy the chance to perform together. The audience got a kick out of it too.
Rusty Young quipped between songs about Poco’s history. He shared with the audience a couple of stories. He and Messina joked about a some of the early years and what they went through together.
Being the only 50 year member of the band Young did make one solo album “Waitin’ for the Sun” but that was recently. The bulk of his half century in the band was only recording with Poco.
The audience sang along to one of the best known favorites “Crazy Love.” Everyone knew the words with no prompting. It was nice to hear an entire hall of voices singing with the band.
Michael Webb got in a guitar solo as he sang lead on “That’s What Rock and Roll Will Do” from the All Fired Up album. A tune that’s about the rock and roll life on the road. It was a little more hard edged than the normal Poco songs and showed a different side to the band.
Jack Sundrud took the lead on the heartbreaking tune “Hard Country.” He did a wonderful job with the song that describes the loss of farms on a grand scale and the emotions of those left behind.
It’s still fantastic to see Poco out there and performing a setlist that most people are pleased to hear. There are certain songs that most bands know the public associate with their name, their anthems so to speak. Rusty and the band are keen to make sure that even though they can’t do all the hits and songs the audience calls out for they give a great mix. Each band member is allowed to shine and take the lead on different songs.
It was a wonderful evening of great toe tapping music that brings you back to a simpler time. One of my favorite bands of all time, I’m glad they’re still hanging together after all this time and making such enjoyable music.
http://pocoband.com/
Review by Donna Erichsen
Photos by George Bekris

 

Setlist
All Fired Up
Good Feelin to Know
Rose of Cimarron
Pickin Up the Pieces
My Friend
Call It Love
Heart of the Night
Keep on Tryin’
Crazy Love
Rock and Roll
Hard Country

Jim Messina – Infinity Music Hall Hartford, CT – February 24, 2018

It was a fantastic evening at the Infinity Music Hall with a spot on performance by the legendary Jim Messina and his band. Messina was joined by Gary Oleyar – fiddle and guitar, Craig Thomas – saxophone, woodwinds and percussion, Dave Beyer – drums and Michael Brady on bass. Together they gave the audience a truly memorable performance.
I think Jim Messina has never received the recognition from the public nor his peers that he deserves for his contributions to the music many of us heard in the 1960’s and 70’s and continue to hear now well into the 21st century. Messina was a member of Buffalo Springfield. A founding member of Poco and Loggins and Messina. All three of these bands are now legendary in the music industry.
Prior to becoming a member of Buffalo Springfield Messina was already an accomplished guitarist and producer. He began engineering while still in high school under the tutelage of guitar greats like Foy Willing of the Riders of the Purple Sage and other western music greats. He was already building a career in record engineering before he was approached to join Buffalo Springfield at the request of the group and  Atlantic Records founder and president Ahmet Ertegun. Messina became a bass player for the band replacing Bruce Palmer who was leaving. He played and toured with the Buffalo Springfield up until the completion and release of their album Last Time Around.
Messina and Richie Furay joined together in 1968 as founding members of Poco, which was a turning point band in music of the era joining country and rock together is what was forever after called country-rock. Messina left Poco and went his own way after tiring of the touring schedule and his desire to go back into producing.
In 1970 Loggins and Messina was formed. With Messina’s background even Kenny Loggins said right from the beginning, Jimmy was the producer. Loggins was a songwriter and had never made a record, put a band together or many of the things that bring a successful band to fruition. So Jim was the leader. Their first album was released in 1971 and together the duo made a total of 12 albums including live and compilation albums.
After parting ways with Kenny Loggins, Messina recorded four solo albums: 1979’s album Oasis; 1981’s eponymous Messina featuring guest performances by Jeff Pocaro, Joe Pocaro and Victor Feldman; 1983’s One More Mile; and 1996’s re-imagined retrospective of concert favorites Watching The River Run Revisited.
The concert at the Infinity was a mix of songs from each band Messina has been in and included a walk on by Rusty Young from Poco to play slide guitar on “Listen to a Country Song.”
There was a medley of Loggins and Messina songs “Traveling Blues,” which he said held special meaning now that he has children, “House on Pooh Corner” and “Thinking of You.”
They performed “Be Free.” Messina on mandolin with Oleyar on fiddle, and Thomas on flute had the audience stomping and clapping. A song that cries to free your soul. Always one of my favorite Loggins and Messina songs it was a pleasure to hear it done so well. Messina’s voice is still strong and he hits every note perfectly. His playing is just as precise and snappy as ever.
The encore was two well known favorites “You Need a Man” and “Your Mama Don’t Dance.”
Messina’s most recent album release, Jim Messina “In The Groove” with special guest Rusty Young, was recorded live in concert at The Clark Center and The Lobero Theater in Santa Barbara. It has been released both on a 12” Vinyl LP, as well as on an 8 gig “Flash Drive” the size of a credit card and is entitled Jim Messina “Access All’ Music/Video/Data, and can be used for future downloads and discounts. Because the vinyl LP can only hold 71 minutes of recorded music, it only contains the concert set and not the encore. However, since the “Flash Drive” is 8 gigs, it holds the entire 101-minute concert and encore. In addition, the Flash Drive contains a 27-minute video Encore (You Need a Man and Your Mama Don’t Dance”), the album’s artwork, the original set list (that was edited down) and the song lyrics.
I sat and had a talk with him after the concert. He is a kind, gentle and soft spoken man. You could easily pass hours just listening to the stories of his life. Many of his fellow musicians through the years had gotten caught up in their careers, drugs or alcohol and never got to fully enjoy the fame they worked so hard for.
Married with a family Messina has a firm belief that there is more to life than just his music. That life is to be lived fully and happily. He spends his off time on his ranch with his donkeys, ducks, dogs and a cat. He surrounds himself with friends from all walks of life. Not isolating himself to just the world of musicians. He tours but does it at his own pace. A set of 4 shows over a week or two in a certain geographical location and then back home to his family.
For those of you sailors who wonder if he still sails. He used to have larger boats but these days he would prefer to teach his daughter to sail on a lake or somewhere more forgiving than the ocean. He wants her to have the experiences of sailing just on a smaller scale. He said cruising the San Juan islands in Washington state would be nice because the water is still clean, the air is clear and the scenery is beautiful.
At the age of 70, although you would not think he was that age, there are no plans of slowing down. Being raised in Texas he is thinking he would like to go back to his roots. The next adventure they are considering is moving the family and animals to Texas for a new life there. The plan includes doing 4 performance tours at upscale roadhouses in various Texas locations.
I have no doubt this is what will happen if he wants it. He knew at a very early age he wanted a career in music. He stated he’s had guardians and maybe some guardian angels from the start that helped him launch his career in the music industry. From the short time I spent with Messina it appears he has no problem fulfilling any dream he sets his mind to.
Don’t miss the chance to see this music legend perform. Jim Messina and the band are masters at their craft. Each and every band member exceeded my expectations.
http://www.jimmessina.com
Setlist:
Mojito Moon
Traveling Blues
Medley:
Watching the River Run
House on Pooh Corner
Thinking of You
Danny’s Son
Whispering Waters
Kind Woman
You Better Think Twice
Listen to a Country Song – Holiday Hotel
Be Free
Angry Eyes
Encore
You Need a Man
Your Mama Don’t Dance
Review by Donna Erichsen
Photos by George Bekris

 

 

Joe Satriani’s G3 Tour

Joe Satriani’s G3 Tour

Oakdale Theatre – Wallingford,CT
Feb. 8, 2018

Joe Satriani – John Petrucci – Phil Collen

 

Guitarist Joe Satriani began the G3 tours over twenty years ago and since its inception the legendary guitar player has invited two other highly regarded rock guitarists to play each tour with him. The artists each have their own set to showcase their solo talents before coming together at the end of the concert to jam for a few songs. This entire style of show works really well. To keep the tours fresh and the audiences wondering the lineup of artists changes each tour. This year’s lineup includes G3 veteran John Petrucci of Dream Theater and first-timer Phil Collen of Def Leppard.
First up was Phil Collen’s band Delta Deep. They played a great set of blues-rock songs. Debbi Blackwell-Cook, Collen’s bandmate and blues singer gave a wonderful range pushing performance belting out the blues. At one point her and Collen battled voice and guitar pitting her multi range voice against his guitar from the deepest baritone to high soprano. Collen’s guitar and her voice add such a soulful sound to the music.
Joining Collen and Blackwell-Cook was Grammy Award winner Forrest Robinson on drums and Robert DeLeo on bass. Their set included Delta Deep’s “Mistreated” and “Down in the Delta.” These cuts off the newly released “East Coast Live” album were rolled out with a great reception by the audience. Delta Deep and their blues sound was a hit with the crowd.
Setlist:
Quadrant 4 (Billy Cobham cover)
Yo 2
Joe
Bless These Blues
Burnt Sally
Mistreated
Down in the Delta
John Petrucci’s set began with the lights dimmed to a deep dark blue and the bass notes started a somber reverberation through the theater. The founding member of the progressive metal band Dream Theater performed “Wrath of the Amazons” and “Jaws of Life.” Both songs were in the heavy metal genre he is best known for. He laughed after those songs and said “Someone has to bring the heavy metal.”
Following those songs Petrucci who was backed by Dave LaRue on bass and Mike Mangini on drums lightened the mood by launching into “The Happy Song.” That was followed by “Glasgow Kiss” also a lighter tune from his Suspended Animation album Then it was back on to his heavier music metal riffs that he is best known for. His playing was spot on and during “Damage Control” he showed his expert alternate picking technique that is difficult to master but Petrucci makes look effortless.
Set List:
Wrath of the Amazons
Jaws of Life
The Happy Song
Damage Control
Glassy-Eyed Zombies
Glasgow Kiss

Joe Satriani finished out the trio taking the stage with his chrome guitar. Starting off the set with energy he played with passion and excitement moving from side to side of the stage. He even crouched down at one point and played with his teeth. His popular songs “Satch Boogie,” “Always With Me, Always With You,” were done perfectly and the master at solos made his guitar scream and moan.
While “Surfing With the Alien,” was played a screen projected behind the band animations of the Silver Surfer. Satriani’s excitement, animation and endless energy were infectious throughout his performance. He had the crowd on their feet clapping and shouting.
I particularly liked “Cherry Blossoms,” off his newly released 16th album “What Happens Next.” This was followed by “Thunder High on the Mountain.” He then rolled right into “Super Funky Badass” also from “What Happens Next.” If Satraini is growing older he is hiding it well because he looked like a 20 something rocker with his full range of facial expressions as he coaxed every whine and scream out of his guitar. It’s like his guitar is just an extension of his arms and part of his being.
Satriani is an amazing guitarist and his set flew by in a flurry of wailing guitars and drums leaving the audience wanting more. His band with Mike Keneally on keyboards/guitar, Bryan Beller on bass and Joe Travers on drums was a fantastic accompaniment to Satraini. At one point the drummer Joe Travers did an awesome solo that had the crowd cheering and stomping for more. A grand performance by the legend Satriani and his band.
Setlist
Energy
Catbot
Satch Boogie
Cherry Blossoms
Thunder High on the Mountain
Super Funky Badass
Cataclysmic
Headrush
Circles
Always With Me, Always With You
Drum Solo
Summer Song

G3 Jam
After Satriani’s band concluded their set Petrucci, Collen and Blackwell-Cook joined him on the stage and jammed together. The three played “Highway Star” by Deep Purple, “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder and “Going Down” by The Alabama State Troupers.
Highway Star (Deep Purple song)
Superstition (Stevie Wonder cover)
Going Down (The Alabama State Troupers cover)
The evening was great and the crowd enthusiastic and rose for ovations numerous times during the show in appreciation. I haven’t seen a G3 tour before and the unique presentation was refreshing. I would definitely see a G3 show again. Joe Satriani and his G3 tours is something any guitar enthusiasts or fan of great music should see. The G3 2018 tour will continue this year in both the USA and Europe though June. If you get the chance don’t miss it.
More information on the G3 Tour and each individual artist:
http://www.satriani.com/G3
http://www.satriani.com
http://www.philcollenpc1.com
http://www.deltadeep.net
http://johnpetrucci.com
Review by Donna Erichsen
Photos by George Bekris

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga

Joanne World Tour

Mohegan Sun Arena

Nov. 9, 2017

Getty Images for Live Nation
It was a fantastic performance by Lady Gaga for the sold out crowd at Mohegan Sun Arena. A perfect venue for a top act like this. The center of the arena was all open festival standing. Although midway through the first couple of songs most in the upper sections were on their feet as well. Because as Lady Gaga said “It’s a party and what do you do at party? Stand up and dance.”
Lady Gaga performed with her band and dancers a combination of songs from her newest release “Joanne” and many of her older hits. She’s a pop queen but there is so much more there than just a pop star. Her voice is strong and beautiful and she plays variety of instruments from guitar to piano. She is absolutely nonstop energy from start to finish.

Getty Images for Live Nation
As Gaga and her dancers changed into their many different costumes a video panel in front of her band was raised and lowered with changing video images. There was never really a pause in the night even when she was not singing. It was exciting and vibrant.
The song “Angel Down” was dedicated to the victims of the San Antonio shooting. It was touching, timely and sadly relevant in this year of tragedies.
One of the tour bus drivers we spoke with said the entourage includes 29 semi’s and 12 buses. That’s a major movement of talent, machinery and lighting. It is obvious though when you see the elaborate stage and props come to life during the show. There were lifting riser stages, trap doors and lighting stretching from the front of the area to the second stage half way back and on to the final stage at the back of the arena. Giant mushroom shaped blobs on the roof turned into walkways between stages and projected close ups of her singing. Gaga does her part to keep americans employed.
Lady Gaga dedicated “Edge of Glory” to her good friend Sonja Durham, who died in May from Breast Cancer, and to a member of her troupe whose first anniversary of her father’s passing is approaching.
Gaga clearly has a love for all people and is a fiercely outspoken woman and champion of the LGBT community as well as a strong promoter for women’s rights. She speaks of her love for all people and seeks to bring all genders, races, beliefs under one roof for a night of pure entertainment. Forget the differences and stand up and have a party.
Lady Gaga’s real name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta. Her middle name was given her in honor of an aunt she never knew. The song “Joanne” is a tribute to that aunt as well as the tour.  She performed the song on acoustic guitar flanked by two of her band members also on guitars. A touching song tribute that was personal to her and showcased her voice and the fact that she needs no dancers and band to back her.
For some of her fans, or “Little Monsters” as she calls them, it’s a life changing experience to attend her concerts and a pilgrimage to be done over and over again. As the show draws to a close letters and cards are hurled on the stage by those close enough to get theirs to land at her feet. The dancers collect the items and Gaga reaches down for one to open and read out to all. It’s a long eloquent letter but she reads the entire thing. It speaks of how this one person’s life was changed by years of attending her shows and friends made in the process. She asks an eager face in the audience if that was his letter, he nods. Gaga goes down in the audience and gives him a kiss and a hug before returning to the stage. She’s a class act.
Gaga strolled the length of the bridges to go from stage to stage out to her grand piano for encore song “Million Reasons.”
This was the most elaborate concert I’ve seen. When she is 45 and touring sure maybe it will be a toned down version of this, but make no mistake she has the voice and star quality to carry her for many decades. But, for now I am glad she puts on the show all will remember. This afterall is what Lady Gaga is known for, her over the top shows and dancers bouncing across the stage with her in perfectly choreographed unison.
A show everyone should see at least once.
Review by Donna Erichsen
Photos courtesy of Getty Images for Live Nation/Kevin Mazur
www.ladygaga.com
mohegansun.com
Set List
Diamond Heart
A-Yo
Poker Face
Perfect Illusion
John Wayne
Scheiße
Alejandro
Just Dance
Love Game
Telephone
Applause
Come to Mama
The Edge of Glory (Piano Acoustic)
Born This Way
Bloody Mary
Dancin’ In Circles
Paparazzi
Ambulance
(Contains elements of “Paparazzi”.)
Angel Down
Joanne (guitar acoustic)
Bad Romance
The Cure
Encore:
Million Reasons

 

 

 

David Crosby and Friends

David Crosby and Friends

Garde Arts Center

May 29, 2017

The Garde Arts Center outdid themselves with this concert. Although they have hosted many great shows, this show was spectacular.
Growing up as a child of the sixties one the voices in the soundtrack of my youth would have to be David Crosby. He and his counterparts were a representation of the era and the outspoken cry for justice and political change in America. To see him now as an adult completes a cycle of decades of changes. Changes in age, political climate, people. Crosby has accepted those changes and evolved into a still relevant voice in American music. Though the Vietnam war is long over we are still embroiled in ever present political strife as much now as ever.
Crosby, never one to shy away from his political stance still speaks for peace and love. He has an opinion on what is right and what is wrong in America and what we as American’s allow to happen in our society.
This was such a memorable concert on many levels. To hear Crosby play his older tunes was one but also to hear his musical evolution brought it to another level. He has for almost the last two decades enjoyed playing with one of his sons. James Raymond, Crosby’s son, is the keyboard player in the band and also co-author of many of Crosby’s newer works. They have worked together since forming the band CPR (Crosby, Pevar & Raymond) with Jeff Pevar on lead guitar in 1996.
Crosby gathered together some friends to tour with him, Truly talented friends they are. As Crosby stated during the concert each band player is an accomplished musician on their own and have had their own bands. The friends are James Raymond (keyboards/vocals), Jeff Pevar (guitar/vocals), Michelle Willis (keyboards/vocals), Mai Agan (bass) and Steve DiStanislao (drums/vocals).
Starting off his career with The Byrds, then on to Crosby, Stills, Nash. Continuing with the addition of Neil Young for a time.  Crosby was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame and inducted twice for his works with the Byrds and CSN, and he was a founding member of both bands.
Crosby released his first solo album, If Only I Could Remember My Name, in 1971 and his solo career is still going strong to this day. This past October he released Lighthouse. His newest release “Sky Trails” was available for the concert patrons to purchase only at the venues on concert nights.
There were the obligatory Crosby, Stills and Nash songs. Along with each song though there was a short explanation of where that song belonged in his life. The reasons for writing them and where his mind was at the time and who among the greats of 60’s rock he was associating with during the writing and performing of those songs.
Crosby said that all his life when he had an emotion he squashed but felt he needed to air he would air it by writing a song about it. “In My Dreams,” was the opening song of the evening. Followed by a song he wrote about Jim Morrison. The Crosby, Stills & Nash song “Long Time Coming” finished up the first set and the band took a short intermission.
After the intermission they returned to the stage and went right into a CPR song “Map To Buried Treasure” They played a Crosby & Nash song “Homeward Through The Haze” and then “Angel Dream.”
Jeff Benedict, prize winning author and native of New London, CT, who wrote the book “Little Pink House.” “Little Pink House” is a story of one woman’s fight to keep her house which was being taken by the law of eminent domain. It tells of how large corporations or governments can remove a person’s right to live in a home they purchased and call home simply because it is in the way of development. The Garde Arts Center concert was important because the fight the book and film were based upon is the case that took place in New London.
The book was made into a movie and while searching for inspired music for the movie Benedict thought of asking long time friend Crosby. Crosby an opponent of taking of homes for eminent domain of course agreed and wrote the song “Home Free” Jeff Benedict invited Crosby to play at the Garde Arts Center and the song was performed live for the first time ever at this concert.
They finished up with a rousing version of the CSNY hit “Déjà vu.” The encore to follow was full of patriotism and a great rendition of “My Country ‘Tis Of Thee”
At 75 years young David Crosby sounded fantastic as did his friends. Their voices filled the theater with such wonderful harmonies. Crosby’s vocals were so strong all we can hope for is that he continues to play for many years to come. Hopefully he will also do a encore performance at The Garde Arts Center in the near future. If he does I am sure the house will be full of eager patrons waiting to hear his beautiful music.
Set List
In My Dreams
Morrison
Tracks
She’s Got To Be
At The Edge
Laughing
1000 Roads
Long Time Gone
Map To Buried Treasure
Homeward
What Are Their Names
Home Free
Angel Dream
Low Down Payment
Delta
Deja Vu
Encore
My Country Tis
http://www.davidcrosby.com/
http://jamesraymond.com
http://pevar.com
http://www.michellewillis.ca
http://maiagan.com
Review by Donna Erichsen
Photos by George Bekris

 

 

 

Steve Winwood

Steve Winwood

Grand Theater at Foxwoods, Mashantucket, CT
April 28, 2017

Steve Winwood has a career that spans decades. He started as a member of  The Spencer Davis Group at age 14 in England. He went on from there to Traffic, and then to Blind Faith one of the first super rock bands. Once leaving those bands and embarking on his successful solo career he has carried on through time with hits of his own. It is great to see such an iconic legend of an era still out there touring.
Winwood was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of  Traffic in 2004 and won two Grammy awards. He was nominated twice for the Brit Award for Best British Male Artist: 1988 and 1989.
The evening started out with Winwood on the mandolin as he and the band played his well know hit “Back in the High Life Again.” He was accompanied by Richard Bailey on Drums, José Neto on Guitar, Edwin Sanz on Percussion, and Paul Booth on Saxophone.
Then they rolled into “Pearly Queen” and then “I’m a Man” from his Spencer Davis Group days. They followed that with “Fly” off his Nine Lives Album.
“Higher Love” was one of his US Billboard Hot 100 number ones that they played. Though Windwood does not speak to the audience too much while performing he was clearly happy to have his daughter Lilly Winwood come on stage and accompany him in singing “Higher Love” as well as on “Gimme Some Lovin’ ” during the encore.
The first encore song was the ever popular “Mr. Fantasy.” Always one of the audience favorites and a must play at any Steve Winwood concert.
The song list was not lengthy, but there were some great solos by each of the band members. It had the feel of an earlier time at concerts when bands would jam on longer during live performances.
Winwood’s voice still sounds as good as ever. I last saw him 11 years ago and he has not lost a bit of his edge. I would recommend this concert to anyone wanting to hear great music spanning 4 decades. I only wish there was enough time in one concert to cover his many songs and styles of singing.
It was also refreshing to see Winwood’s daughter, Lilly Winwood open for him. She played an acoustic set of cuts from her newly released debut EP titled “Silver Stage.” Her voice was soulful, beautiful and wise beyond her years.
Set List:
Back in the High Life Again
Pearly Queen (Traffic)
I’m a Man (The Spencer Davis Group)
Fly
Them Changes (Buddy Miles cover)
Can’t Find My Way Home (Blind Faith)
Had to Cry Today (Blind Faith)
The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys (Traffic)
Empty Pages (Traffic)
Light Up or Leave Me Alone (Traffic)
Higher Love (with Lilly Winwood on vocals)
Encore:
Dear Mr. Fantasy (Traffic)
Gimme Some Lovin’ (The Spencer Davis Group)
(with Lilly Winwood on vocals)
By Donna Erichsen
Photos by George Bekris

 

Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt

Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt

Garde Arts Center, New London, CT
January 20, 2017

The Garde Arts Center was the perfect setting for Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt’s intimate acoustic duet performance.
The Garde is a historic theater in downtown New London celebrating it’s 90th anniversary. The theater still has the feel of the majestic performing houses of the early 20th century with cloth seats, ornate decorations on the walls and balcony seats. It holds a little over 1400 patrons which was a perfect size for this show.
The show consisted of two excellent singer, songwriters, Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt and a couple of acoustic guitars for each artist. That’s it. No fancy sets, lighting shows, neon or strobe lights. Both men came out dressed in their Sunday best, suit and tie. It was just about as pure as it gets. Lovett and Hiatt made this work perfectly and the audience didn’t need it any other way. The show was a combination of songs from each performers vast library of tunes intermingled with witty banter about being on the road and life with other performers over their decades of touring.
Lyle Lovett would sing one of his songs with back up harmony and accompaniment on guitar by Hiatt. Then the roles would reverse and John Hiatt would sing with harmonies by Lovett. The format was entertaining and spanned country, blues, Texas swing and some of their mainstream alternative country classics. They sang both the award winning songs and lesser known obscure ones.

They both have so many songs to choose from that, as Lyle Lovett mentioned, they go into each show with no real setlist and float from one song to another picking lead in from the previous song. They played off each other like a straight man and his sidekick. Both have a dry wit and an easy style of country humor that brought the audience along with laughter. It was such an easy night akin to sitting around country store in Texas or a barstool in Memphis picking and storytelling. If it is scripted beforehand you wouldn’t know.
Lovett is a songwriter and actor is addition to his longstanding career as a country, blues and Texas swing singer. He hails from Texas and has 20 albums in his storied career. His other lesser known talent is comedy. He had the audience going from chuckles to full out laughter at his insights in the preambles to the songs. He performed “She’s No Lady” and “Her First Mistake” as well as the very Texan “Don’t Touch My Hat”. He also included some of his lesser heard tunes to round out his half of the songs. His deadpan humor made each song more enjoyable.
John Hiatt has done 22 albums has been singing and playing for 40 years. He played with many of the greats. His voice is more grizzled than Lovett but that only serves to compliment the harmonies of Lovett’s tenor better. The best of his playlist were brought out “Seven Little Indians” and “Drive South. He crooned his blues toned “Cadillac with Tennessee Plates” to the audience delight. There was a new song “Over the Hill”, a great song I hope to hear more of in the future. Hiatt played his harmonica with gusto and his playing has only gotten better over the years. But, Hiatt has another talent that surprised the audience, he can whistle. I don’t mean just whistle. He belted out a whistle that was pitch perfect and resonated throughout the theater like a fine tuned instrument. It was one of those wow moments where you can hear a pin drop in the audience. I think he took most everyone by surprise judging by the applause as the song ended.

 

Many went into the theater for this sold out show expecting a great concert. I don’t think the audience expected to be as blown away as we were by such an exceptional concert done with the most minimal of equipment out there, a couple of guitars and a harmonica. This is a pairing of talents that was meant to be. New London may be in the middle of New England, but it was all Tennessee, Louisiana and Texas in the The Garde this January night. The Garde outdid themselves booking these men and I sincerely hope we see them back there in the future. If you get the chance do not miss this duo. Grab your tickets and see them while you can.

Review by Donna Erichsen
Photos by George Bekris
Interior Garde photos courtesy of Rita Rivera

 

 

Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders

Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders

 Mohegan Sun Arena

Nov. 25, 2016

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Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders opened the night for Stevie Nicks. At 65 you would think Hynde would be showing signs of slowing down, not so. She prowled the stage guitar in hand with just as much swagger as ever. Hynde and the Pretenders sang for an hour prior to Stevie Nicks taking the stage.

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Hynde played many of their most popular 1980s tunes including “Back On The Chain Gang,” “Brass In Pocket,” “Private Life” and “My City Was Gone”. They all sounded great and were still played with enthusiasm. Her vibrancy on stage has not deminished. The band played tracks from their recent album “Alone” produced by Dan Auerbach, including”Gotta Wait,” “Let’s Get Lost,” “Holy Commotion” and “I Hate Myself”.  Hynde knows when to stick with what works and this album had very much of the same feel as those ’80s rock tunes that made her a household name.

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Known as one of the classic women in rock Hynde still entertains and although she gave praise to Stevie Nicks and downplaying her own influence on rock,  Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders had no problem showing that they are still one of the best known rock bands fronted by a woman.

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www.thepretenders.com
Review by Donna Erichsen
Photos by George Bekris
Pretenders Setlist
Alone
Gotta Wait
Message of Love
Private Life
Down the Wrong Way (Chrissie Hynde song)
Hymn to Her
Back on the Chain Gang
I’ll Stand by You
Holy Commotion
My City Was Gone
Stop Your Sobbing (The Kinks cover)
Don’t Get Me Wrong
Mystery Achievement
Middle of the Road
Brass in Pocket

Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band

Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band

  Xfinity Center in Mansfield, MA – Aug. 20, 2016

“I Don’t Know Tour”

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To those who are Jimmy Buffett fans or Parrotheads, and even to those who are not, a Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band concert is a once in a lifetime thing not to be missed. They are not just concerts. It is an event.
Most concerts begin at about 8 pm. Not a Buffett event. It starts as soon as the officials open the gates, usually about 11am on the day of the concert. The Parrotheads flood in with their cars sporting fins on the roofs and “Buffett or Bust” and “Follow us to Margaritaville” signs smeared on windows. You can spot them coming with their Hawaiian shirts, leis, coconuts and every array of parrot hued outfits and hats that could be imagined in a tropical bird and cheeseburger filled caribbean dream. The pop-up tents, grills, blenders, and inflatable palm trees and other inflatable items decorate each tailgate space with individual ideas of island paradise in a parking lot. Buffett music wafts through the lots and a sea of Parrotheads and Pirates float around the crowd, or island to island, enjoying the company and cheeseburgers of neighbors washed down with an assortment of inventive and tropical drinks.
 When the venue opened at about 7 in the evening the party was in full swing. This no small party by any means. The Xfinity center holds about 19,900 people so you get the idea of how many grass skirt wearing wahines were mingling with the land sharks, some who were also wearing coconuts, throughout the day. If you are going to take in a Jimmy Buffett concert make sure to arrive early and enjoy the pre show in the parking lot. It’s a friendly crowd just wanting to unwind and live for an afternoon on island time.
The Xfinity Center in Mansfield, MA or as it is still fondly know as “Great Woods” is a New England Parrothead staple festival. It draws fans who have come there for so long they have brought their children and now their children’s children, called “Parakeets” for their introductions to the Parrothead life.
Now on to the concert itself. The Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band part of it. Buffett and eleven top notch musicians and singers who make up the Coral Reefer Band took the stage and the crowd went wild. The conch shell horn sounded the beginning. Buffet led in with “SummerZcool”. The audience was on their feet singing along as he went right into “We Are The People Our Parents Warned Us About”. Beach balls flew across the crowd with a few landing on the stage and kicked about by the barefooted Buffett. I don’t think many ever sat down for the rest of the concert.
Buffett played “Grapefruit – Juicy Fruit” followed by “Son of a Sailor” with beautifully sung solo by Nadirah Shakoor. These songs are played so often the whole band could probably do them in their sleep and still pull it off perfectly. Buffett then changed the tone to a more bluegrass style and they brought out the mandolin and accordion for “Gypsies in the Palace” which then led into the “Take It Easy” cover in tribute to the late Glenn Frey of the Eagles.
Mac McAnally took over Alan Jackson’s part in the duet of the cover of Jackson’s “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere”. They then slowed things down a bit for “Come Monday” and “Meet Me in Memphis”. Bass player Jim Mayer took the lead on “I Don’t Know and I Don’t Care” with the chorus of “Spicoli’s Theme” added in from the song Buffett wrote for the movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
At the opening note of “Fins” played by Michael Utley on the keyboard the audience immediately threw their arms over their heads to create fins. Buffett led the audience pointing their fins to the left and fins to the right. He laughed with the crowd and did his own land shark bites from the stage. You would never tell he is turning 70 years old this year. He seemed to draw from some fountain of youth he has found as he bounced barefoot across the stage.
They did an a acoustic version of the song “Delaney Talks to Statues”, the Margaritaville Door Number Three pick of the week. The Door Number Three pick is an opportunity for the fans on the Margaritaville website to choose a song they would like performed live from list of songs that aren’t performed on a regular basis. He does it to change things up because with 27 albums there are always songs many want to see performed. This gives Buffet a chance to showcase the most popular requests.
Of course no Buffett concert is not complete without the standards “Margaritaville”, “Changes in Latitudes” and “Cheeseburger in Paradise”, all on the must play list or the evening would not feel complete.
The crowd roared as Buffett and the Coral Reefers returned to the stage for the encore with Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl” and then “One Particular Harbor” The evening ended with a solo acoustic version of “Last Mango In Paris”.
The entire day was fantastic. They put on a great show with contagious enthusiasm. It was a perfect evening for a summertime island getaway. I would definitely go again.
Review by Donna Erichsen
Photos by George Bekris
SET LIST:
SummerZcool
We Are the People Our Parents Warned Us About
Grapefruit—Juicy Fruit
Son of a Son of a Sailor
It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere (Alan Jackson cover)
Come Monday
Meet Me in Memphis
Love and Luck
I Don’t Know and I Don’t Care
I Don’t Know (Spicoli’s Theme)
(Only the chorus lyrics are sung)
Quietly Making Noise
Fins
Margaritaville
Acoustic:
Delaney Talks to Statues
Gypsies in the Palace
Take It Easy (Eagles cover)
Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes
Jolly Mon Sing
Cheeseburger in Paradise
A Pirate Looks at Forty
Southern Cross (Crosby, Stills & Nash cover)
Volcano
Encore:
Brown Eyed Girl (Van Morrison cover)
One Particular Harbour
Last Mango in Paris

Mark Farner

Mark Farner

July 10, 2016 – Mohegan Sun Wolf Den

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To many, when you speak of “Grand Funk Railroad” the person who comes to mind will always be founding member Mark Farner. He was the heart and soul of the supergroup.
Mark Farner led “Grand Funk’ from their breakout concert in 1969 right into the mid 70’s. After “Grand Funk” split up in 1976, Farner rejoined the group a couple of times, which didn’t work out, He has continued making music and performing for decades and has not stopped just because he is no longer with “Grand Funk Railroad”.
During recent years there have been ups and downs. Farner successfully continued his career and in 2012 at the age of 64, cardiac problems finally caught up with him and he underwent pacemaker insertion. Since then he hasn’t missed a beat and is still going strong. Farner says his faith is what keeps him going. Even today you still hear fans say they wish the group would reunite. I doubt that will happen, but it does not matter. He is still the ball of energy he always was and his show is non-stop from begining to end..
They began with “Footstompin’ Music” and rolled right into “Rock & Roll Soul” and then “Aimless Lady”. Farner was energetic and animated. He cavorted about the stage playing up to the audience. His energy was boundless. They blasted away at “We’re We’re an American Band” much to the audiences delight.
Accompanying Mark Farner at the Wolf Den was his band N’rG consisting of Dennis Bellinger on Bass and background vocals, Hubert (The H-Bomb) Crawford on Drums and Karl Propst on Keyboards and vocals. Together they treated the Wolf Den audience to an evening jam full of Grand Funk hits and a few extras.
Farner spoke of the times when songs stood for something and joined a generation collectively toward causes. He then launched into “Ohio”, a well-known Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young song. The band the lightened up the tempo and ended the set with “The Loco-Motion” and “Some Kind of Wonderful”.
They returned to the stage for an encore that started with a fantastic drum solo by Hubert Crawford . When Farner introduced the last song of the evening “I’m Your Captain” (Closer to Home). he asked the audience to sing along and as they did to remember and honor the American servicemen and servicewomen who are keeping the country safe far from their homes and families. He didn’t have to ask the audience to sing along though, they already were and had been all evening.
It was a memorable concert and a treat to see Mark Farner perform so many of the songs he is so well known for, After all these years,he still plays with such energy, enthusiasm and happiness. His voice and guitar playing are still impeccable and he gives his all in concert and his band is a perfect accompaniment to his sound.
Would gladly see them again.
By Donna Erichsen
Photos by George Bekris  www.georgebekris.com

Setlist:
Footstompin’ Music
Rock&Roll Soul
Aimless Lady
We’re an American Band
Heartbreaker
Shinin’ On
Creepin’
Mean Mistreater
Sin’s a Good Man’s Brother
Ohio – Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young cover
Bad Time
The Loco-Motion – Soul Brothers Six cover
Encore:
Drum Solo
I’m Your Captain (Closer to Home)