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Live Review: Stevie Wonder, Houston

Posted in Review, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 21, 2015 by 30daysout

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At 8:55, the great Stevie Wonder was escorted onto the stage to a standing ovation at the Toyota Center by his daughter, Aisha Morris. Yes, the same Aisha crying in “Isn’t She Lovely.” She is lovely and quite curvy, but that’s another story. Wonder proceeded to apologize to the sold out crowd for being almost an hour late, but he said it had been a tough day. One of his band members, Keith John, was found unconscious in his hotel room. He made sure to let us to know that no matter what we hear, it was not drug-related. Clearly shaken,Wonder then told the crowd a little about the album we were about to hear…Songs in the Key of Life. He then walked over to his keyboard and proceeded to rip into “Love’s In Need of Love Today.” With this we were on our way to an amazing musical extravaganza.

Members of the Houston Symphony joined Wonder on a beautiful version of “Village Ghetto Land” and then he proceeded to blow the roof off the place with a back-to-SonginKeyback-to-back tour de force of “Contusion,” “Sir Duke” and “I Wish,” featuring the legendary Nathan Watts on bass. “Knocks Me Off My Feet” was next and, in a word, was unbelievable. At the end of the song, he let his backup singers show off a bit, and told the crowd his band likes to “jam,” which they proceeded to do to the great delight of the crowd. He even let one of the Symphony violinists have a solo. “Ordinary Pain” finished off side 2 and brought Aisha Morris front and center with two other singers for the soulful ending that resulted in a standing ovation from many, including me. He ended the first set with great versions of “Saturn” and “Ebony Eyes,” two songs off the “Something Extra” 7″ single that came with the original album.

After a short 20 minute break, Wonder proceeded to tell us he has 9 children, and was looking for the men to give him some respect, which we did. He also told his daughter Aisha that “I saw you before your mama did.” A stellar version of the song he wrote about her, “Isn’t She Lovely,” kicked off the set, followed by “Joy Inside My Tears,” clearly the most soulful tune of the night and one that left Wonder with tears streaming down his cheeks. “Black Man” and “All Day Sucker” were incredibly funky and “Easy Goin’ Evening (My Mama’s Call)” showed off Wonder’s incredible ability to play the harmonica.

“Ngiculela – Es Una Historia – I Am Singing” started off side four, one of the best sides of any album ever. After performing his vocal part with one of his backup singers, Wonder sat down to play an instrument that I didn’t recognize. He proceeded to include versions of “Tequila” and Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel,” a tune that sent the crowd into a frenzy. Wonder explained the beautiful “If It’s Magic” is about love and it’s magic power. He sang to the original harp track performed by Dorothy Ashby, who he said died before the success of the album. “As” brought the crowd to it’s feet and a rousing “Another Star” kept them dancing for another eight minutes. Wonder then asked us if we were ready to go home, to which we emphatically said NO. He then sat down at the piano to play “When the World Began,” a new tune he’s working on with David Foster. It was so new, he screwed up the beginning and had to start over.

He again asked if we were ready to home, to which we screamed louder…NO. At this point he said “Stevie Wonder has left the building….I am now “DJ TICK TICK BOOM.” A DJ set up on the piano allowed him to tease with some of his classic tunes. He then did brief versions of “Livin’ for the City” and “For Once in My Life” before ending the night with an energetic version of “Superstition” that had the crowd dancing in the aisles.

This was a magical night of music. I had been waiting for this since I received the album as an Easter present in 1977 and Wonder and crew did not disappoint. As I watched him perform you could tell that he is on a different level of life than everyone else. Maybe not being able to see helps him see everything better than the rest of us. All I know is that if everyone had Stevie Wonder’s spirit there would no war, no racial hatred and the world would be a much better place.

Stevie Wonder Official Website

Review: “XIV” by TOTO

Posted in Uncategorized on March 19, 2015 by 30daysout

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There are very few bands who are still jamming nearly 40 years after first getting together. TOTO, however, is one of those bands. It has survived bad reviews, the deaths of founding member, drummer Jeff Porcaro, and just last week his brother, bassist Mike Porcaro, (who lost his nearly eight year battle with ALS), lawsuits, and everything in between. Every time they get knocked down, members David Paich, Steve Lukather, Steve Porcaro and Joseph Williams seem to dust themselves off and come back with a vengeance. Their new album, TOTO XIV, is evidence of that.

TOTO albums usually open with a big, hard rocking track, and “Running Out of Time” is just that with a signature lick from Lukather. The bandtoto_by_heather_porcaro_hr
gets political on the hard-driving “Holy War,” and the ballad “Unknown Soldier” featuring a great vocal by Luke. They wrap their arms around the lonely on the excellent “Orphan” featuring the album’s best vocal performance by Williams. “Burn” is powerful track with a beautiful piano part played by Paich, who never ceases to amaze with his talent. They revert back to the days of the Farenheit LP on the Steve Porcaro penned love song “The Little Things.” Porcaro never had more than one song on any album, but they were always memorable and still some of the band’s best. “Chinatown” is vintage TOTO with Paich’s stirring piano opening, and featuring original TOTO bassist, David Hungate, who is also joining the band on tour. The ballad “All the Tears” features a stellar hook and “Great Expectations” starts off with Paich’s sad, lonely vocal and then got into another stratosphere in the same vein as YES. The final “bonus” track “Bend” is reminiscent of “A Secret Love,” the final track on Hydra.

It’s been nearly 10 years since TOTO released new music. In that time, lead singer Bobby Kimball left the band (again), Mike Porcaro was forced to leave the band due to illness, drummer Simon Phillips was replaced by Keith Carlock, and Paich and Steve Porcaro decided to return to the touring band to help raise money for ALS. Porcaro says this is no half-assed attempt to just put music out. He says in the band’s EPK that “everyone is playing like their lives depend on it.” It sure sounds like it.

Toto Official Website

“Orphan” by Toto

“Holy War” by TOTO

“Burn” by Toto

“TOTO XIV” EPK

Curefest 2015: Humble, TX Family Raises Funds to Fight Brain Cancer

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on March 14, 2015 by 30daysout

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In September, 2011, then 47-year old Phil Baumann started experiencing severe headaches. Then he started getting into his car on the passenger side instead of the driver’s side. When he would talk on his cell phone, his arm would be stretched out to his side and not bent up to his ear. His family doctor thought it was a sinus problem that was causing the headaches and the odd behavior, but after a trip to the emergency room, he found out he had a large tumor on his brain. After an MRI, he found out it was malignant. Glioblastoma Multiforme Grade 4, one of the worst forms of brain cancer, was the diagnosis. This type of cancer is particularly damaging because it’s relentless. In other words, once surgeons remove the tumor, it keeps coming back.

This is what happened to Phil. Surgeons at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston took out his tumor and six months later it reared its ugly head again. But luckily, it came back in an area of the brain right above where the tumor was and this gave doctors a chance to treat it. Instead of opting for another surgery, he entered the Delta 24 clinical trial. The trial involves injecting a modified cold virus directly into the tumor. Since entering the trial in April 2012, Phil has seen his tumor shrink every 8 weeks to the point where it is now non-existent. Of the 29 people in the trial, only two others had the same outcome. Baumann feels more than blessed.

Most people who deal with a disease as devastating as this one would be happy to receive good news and move on with curefest-ft-page-fliertheir lives. However, you have never met Phil and his wife, Misty.  In 2012, they put on the first Curefest at the Humble Civic Center in Humble, TX, just north of Houston. The event raised more than $150,000 and helped fund nine patients in the Delta 24 trial at M.D. Anderson. The money raised at Curefest 2015 will go towards a new phase of the trial that is looking at the effectiveness of injecting stem cells directly into the bone marrow, and sparing patients the pain of a needle in the skull every 8 weeks.

This year’s event will feature games and activities for the kids, a silent auction, and a live auction. A slew of local bands will start at 11 a.m. with American Idol top 10 finalist, Sundance Head, headlining the 12-hour event.

My band, The Crashers, played Curefest 2013 and it was amazing to see how the community came together for this event. Friends, family and strangers from all walks of life donated time and treasures to help this family make a difference in the lives of people who are searching for a miracle.

“It takes your breath away when we see how the community has supported our family and our quest to find a cure for brain cancer. ” said Misty Baumann. “It’s going to be a great day.”

Like the song says…”take a sad song and make it better.” The Baumanns are doing just that.

What: Curefest 2015, featuring American Idol top 10 finalist, Sundance Head.
You can purchase your tickets here.

Where: Humble Civic  Center, 8233 Will Clayton Pkwy., Humble, TX

When: 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.

“Darlin’ Don’t Go” by Sundance Head

 

New Song Alert! “Marley Jane” by Duane Dulane

Posted in Uncategorized on September 4, 2013 by 30daysout

“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

There comes a time when you no longer give a shit what people think. I have finally reached that point when it comes to my musical ability.  “Will they like it?” is a phrase that will no longer permeate my mind or my soul. Here it is. You either like it or you don’t. You either want to listen or you don’t. I’m throwing it out there whether you like it or not. Trying to please everyone but yourself is a useless exercise. It’s very tiring and not very productive.  Am I a great guitar player? Far from it. Am I a great singer? Far from it. Am I a great songwriter? Far from it. However, all three make me happy, so I will continue to try and get better everyday.

This rant is not about any single person, group, place or thing. This is all about me. It’s me telling the demon who tries to bring me down every minute of every day that enough is enough. I will no longer listen to you about anything, especially music. Crawl back to your hole and bother the millions of others who call you friend. I have no use for you.

Now that I got that out of the way….the video above is for a new tune called “Marley Jane.” It’s a tune about watching your daughter grow up and realizing how much time you wasted not enjoying it more. Pursuing this, pursuing that. Missing the little things while you chased things that lead down the path to nowhere. Looking at her picture and saying to yourself…”when did you become this beautiful young woman?” “Where was I?”

The song pretty much wrote itself. It’s easy to write about a blessing. My daughter is a blessing to everyone she meets. She takes after her mother. I got lucky twice.

If you get a chance, let me know what you think. Enjoy!

SXSW Day Three: I’ve Done Everything For You

Posted in SXSW, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on March 16, 2013 by 30daysout
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Rick Springfield, lookin’ good at age 63.

Friday is usually the craziest day of the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) music festival in Austin, Texas. By this time, any rational plan or schedule has gone out the window as one gets caught up in the hurricane of music, madness and sweaty humanity.

We had the noblest of intentions to serve you, dear reader, on Day Three by volunteering for sea duty aboard the U.S.S. Lone Star Riverboat, a party that was to be regaled by the metal band Goatwhore. But alas, as we approached the dock along Austin’s tranquil Lady Bird Lake (actually an easygoing reservoir of the usually fast-rushing Colorado River), we saw that about 500 other intrepid souls had the same idea.

The crowd’s color of choice for t-shirts, body ink and Death Metal was black – for the next few hours these would be our people. But a deck hand for the Boatwhore cruise, apparently looking for curvy cruise mates, strolled to our part of the line and told us: “There is no way you’re getting on the boat. About 18,000 people signed up for this, and it holds only 90 people.”

Blue Sky Riders

The photogenic Blue Sky Riders, from left: Loggins, Middleman and Burr.

And so our ship sailed, with us still standing on dry land. Passengers and crew sailed off into the Texas night, dancing under the stars to the roar of Goatwhore. We hope and pray they made it safely back to shore.

The day was not without its pleasures, and surprises. Atop the sunny and breezy patio of the big Whole Foods Market flagship, people nibbled on vegan tacos and sipped coconut water while listening to a decidedly mellow lineup of musicians. Then, a last-minute addition: Rick Springfield.

Lookin’ good at age 63, Springfield busted out of an L.A. jail last week and performed with Dave Grohl’s Sound City Players at a big show on Thursday evening. He apparently wanted to play a little more, so this short set would be solo acoustic.

The crowd’s color of choice for t-shirts, girlfriends and recyclable totes was pastel – and for the next 20 minutes this would be 1981 all over again. Springfield flailed energetically on his guitar and invited the crowd to sing along on “I’ve Done Everything For You” and “Love Somebody.”

He even played one from his new album Songs For The End of the World, a bit of anxiety called “I Hate Myself,” which of course he also turned into another singalong.

And then, “Jessie’s Girl.” How can you resist? SING ALONG! “Lovin’ him with that body/I just know it!

At this point you may be wondering: Why would someone like Rick Springfield appear at SXSW, which is designed to showcase and break out new artists (and suck up to superstars)? Well, SXSW is also a good vehicle for established artists to play and get their new projects in front of audiences and hopefully, get their careers back on the rails again. With that short acoustic blast on Thursday, Springfield may not have propelled himself back to the top of the charts but he got his name on the minds of a few hundred people (and in front of you, dear reader).

Right up next was another act, Blue Sky Riders. A Nashville trio playing smooth country pop, the band consists of husband-wife Gary Burr and Georgia Middleman, both country hitmakers. The third voice belongs to Kenny Loggins, who divorced from Jim Messina in the 1970s to become King of the 1980s Soundtracks.

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Raul Malo, center, rouses The Mavericks on the outdoor Waterloo Records stage.

BSR sailed into “I’m A Rider (Finally Home),” the parenthetical title track from their debut album. Uptempo tunes like “Just Say Yes” and “You’re Not The Boss Of Me” went down well with Middleman’s ballad “Little Victories.” The voices blended seamlessly, making a musical meld slick enough to slide painlessly into country and adult contemporary playlists. The breeze wafted BSR’s delicacies like dandelion florets, away from the Whole Foods patio and across busy Lamar Street where yet another resurrection was about to take place.

The Mavericks, also a slick country rock outfit, played Waterloo Records’ outdoor stage behind the new In Time, their first studio album in a decade. The band played acoustically, accompanied by mariachi horns, two accordions and the soaring tenor of front man Raul Malo. The Tex-Mex menu included “Back In Your Arms Again,” “Dance In The Moonlight” and “Come Unto Me,” all from the new work.

There were a lot of people standing in the afternoon sun, so Malo kept the party going with an extended run-through of the band’s biggest hit, “All You Ever Do Is Bring Me Down.” Malo thanked everyone for coming out, and said it was cool to be playing at a real, live record store. “Help ’em out, because they’re really hurting,” he said of record stores in general. “Frankly, I’m tired of buying all my music at Walmart.”

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Paul Janeway, right, fronts St. Paul and the Broken Bones’ soul revue.

We did see some worthy new talent: St. Paul and the Broken Bones, a white-boy soul/R&B unit from Birmingham, Alabama, fronted by Paul Janeway. Screaming and shouting the soul like James Brown was his babysitter, Janeway ripped through a set of Southern R&B that went down well with the morning’s first tacos. His closing punch of Otis Redding and Sam Cooke, then a selection from the songbook of Tom Waits, was mighty fine.

Today (Saturday) is the final official day of SXSW, and the day when all of the week’s rumors come to roost. This we know – Justin Timberlake is playing someplace tonight, as are the Smashing Pumpkins and John Fogerty. Vampire Weekend shows off its new material this afternoon at the Austin Convention Center, a whole bunch of hip-hoppers are here and the 1,200-person-capacity La Zona Rosa club hosts an artist currently known as Prince. Hoo boy.

Check out SXSW 2013 photos on our Flickr page

SXSW Preview: Behind A Great Band, There Was A Great Woman

Posted in SXSW, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on March 10, 2013 by 30daysout
GOF still FK - photo credit Austin Hargrave

Freda Kelly, subject of the documentary Good Ol’ Freda, which will premiere at SXSW. (Photo by Austin Hargrave)

When Freda Kelly began her job as a secretary in 1963, the shy 17-year-old believed she was merely going to work in a cramped office. She couldn’t have known she was about to step into history. Kelly was hired to work for an up-and-coming rock group based out of Liverpool, England, just a few months before that band would conquer the world.

Freda had faith in her boys, The Beatles. And The Beatles had faith in Freda: she managed the band’s fan club and served as the secretary for their Liverpool office, often working side-by-side with their manager Brian Epstein. She worked for The Beatles for 11 years, longer than the band was together. Then she faded into obscurity, loyally protecting the stories and people she kept close to her heart.

But now, after 50 years, Freda Kelly steps up to tell some of those stories in a new documentary, Good Ol’ Freda, which will make its world premiere this week at South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin.

GOF still 2 - courtesy of Tripod Media

Ryan White (courtesy of Tripod Media)

The film’s director Ryan White had an inside track to Freda – his uncle is Billy Kinsley, a founding member of the Merseybeats, which also came from the 1960s Liverpool music scene. “I grew up going back and forth to Liverpool all my life,” says White. “My aunt and uncle are very good friends with Freda.”

He spoke to us just as he completed a last-minute frenzy of finishing his movie before the trip to Austin. Even before its premiere, Good Ol’ Freda has received accolades that suggest this film may be something special.

After Austin, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum has dibs on a showing of the film in April during the Cleveland International Film Festival. The movie is also scheduled to be shown at the Atlanta Film Festival later this month.

Getting Freda to sit down for his camera was a bit of a coup for White, who admits he’s still amazed at the unshakeable loyalty and love this woman has for her former employers. “She is simply a remarkable woman with a very remarkable story,” he says. “For 50 years she has resisted numerous offers and even lots of money to do a ‘tell-all’ book or film. She’s just that loyal and protective.”

So why did she decide to step before a camera now? “Freda likes to say that she is living on borrowed time,” explains White, “and she jokes that she can go at any moment.  But when her first grandson was born I think she re-evaluated her life and decided this was something she wanted him to know about his grandmother.”

White conducted 30 hours of interviews with Freda, and also talked to other surviving members of The Beatles’ inner circle: former press officer Tony Barrow, journalist Larry Kane and even Angie McCartney, Paul’s stepmother.

“Freda was really more than a secretary … she really became part of The Beatles’ family, and did so much for them,” says White. “But she also did so much for the fans, on The Beatles’ behalf. She gave the fans personal attention, collecting autographs and even snipping little locks of hair to send off.  She would get different Beatles to chew a bit of gum which she’d stick to a letter and send it off to some girl on the other side of the world.

“Freda is amazing, and this story is a time capsule … a look into an era that will never happen again.”

GOF still - courtesy of Freda Kelly

“Good Ol’ Freda” with Paul McCartney, back in the day. (Courtesy of Freda Kelly)

Good Ol’ Freda takes its name from a recorded aside by one of The Beatles, likely John Lennon, in a 1963 Christmas recording sent to members of the group’s fan club. George Harrison thanks the people running the fan club by name, and when he thanks Freda the shout “Good Ol’ Freda” can be heard in the background.

Of course White got the approval of The Beatles themselves, but in a very unique way. He asked to use some of the group’s songs in his film and approached the two surviving Beatles and the estates of Lennon and Harrison for permission. The Beatles’ music is one of the most sought-after, and fiercely protected, catalogs in popular culture. The actual recordings have only rarely been licensed for use in movies or TV; when the show “Mad Men” used a snippet of a Beatles song in an episode last season, it cost the producers $250,000.

But White got permission to use four Beatles songs, including “Love Me Do” and “I Saw Her Standing There.” He won’t say how much he paid, if anything, for their use but consider this: the entire film was produced for around $58,000.

“It just demonstrates the respect that the living Beatles have for Freda,” White says. “She never sold out the four guys … her story is a study in ethics and the meaning of true loyalty.”

White will be on hand to introduce his film to audiences at SXSW in Austin, and he is excited to share this moment with Freda herself, who will also go to Austin for the premiere. The director had to talk Freda into making the trip, not because she is shy … but because she had to take time off. She still works as a secretary, for a law firm.

“It’s going to be a great moment,” White says. “It will be fun to experience this alongside Freda.”

Good Ol’ Freda official web site

SXSW official web site

Video Du Jour: Jack White on “Austin City Limits”

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on January 4, 2013 by 30daysout
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Jack White on “Austin City Limits.”

See what really went down when Jack White and his bands taped an episode of “Austin City Limits.”  Episode premieres January 5 on PBS, check local listings for time and channel.

Austin City Limits official web site

BONUS: Here’s “Love Interruption” from the TV show.