For years I felt like one of the select few who knew her. When I first joined AudioScrobbler in 2005, absence of her recordings was one of the standards by which I judged the LAUNCHcast's catalog better than here.
During 2006 she became streamable and in July I tagged her as lesser known yet streamable artists which, by then prevailing standards, would've meant that she had less than 10K listeners, on Last.FM.
Over time, her notoriety's grown'n'grown and, hey hey, my girl's: topped a million plays on Last.FM (with 130K+ listeners), her Breakfast on the morning train was Grammy nominated, won British & BBC jazz awards ... and now she's been knighted! - Awarded with the medal of Knight of the French Order of Arts and Literature (Ordre des Arts et des Lettres) by Christine Albanel (French Culture Minister), during a ceremony at the Quai Branly museum in Paris. 31 March 2009
No opening act; who could open for them? (Although we do have a local prog band, Cryptic Vision, they're rather closer to prog metal.)
This was the penultimate stop of the tour, and Wednesday night's show will be shorter. Ruth Eckerd Hall holds about 2100 people. It looked like all the $75 seats were full, only about half the $55, and most of the $35 seats. The crowd skewed older than me, and one couple in front of me had brought their teenaged son! The guy next to me had seen them live before--in April, 1979!
They started off according to tradition (as I understand, having never made it to a show before), with the excerpt from Stravinsky's Firebird. Ruth Eckerd Hall has very little backstage, and all the players ended up out front long before the excerpt ended. They kind of looked at each other with that "I guess we'll wait" look.
But as soon as that faded, they launched right into Siberian Khatru (again, following tradition).
Now, take a moment, and imagine you play or sing in a cover band (Close To The Edge, in this case) for your favorite artist of all time. Then imagine them calling you and asking you to join them. (I'm not ina cover band, but if that happened to me, they'd have to drop the "Elvis Costello and the" and just call us "The Imposters". And it would never happen.) Let me tell you, Benoit David's voice was scarily similar to Jon Anderson's, and of course, his stage antics echo Jon's. It's only when he speaks that you hear the Quebecois accent.
And Oliver Wakeman: He's got Dad's talent, and I didn't see him smile until the second half. So, yeah, might as well have been Rick. But no cape.
Anyway, they went straight into I've Seen All Good People, just as I've heard it on the Classic Yes album, only with simpler little solos at the "introductions" (and it would have been silly for Benoit to actually introduce the rest of the band).
Benoit then said the next song was a special request--from him! He said he never heard Yes do anything from Tormato, and Onward is one of his favorites. Steve seemed a little ragged on this, occasionally going to Alan who gave him big nods on every beat. He also had a slightly different note pattern, I think, with the first and third notes of every six, instead of first and fourth, being the same. It just sounded a little odd. But, hey, how many years has it been since he'd played it before this tour?
They dug back even farther with Astral Traveller. Man, I thought we were in for a serious deep tracks night! But most of the rest were the old favorites.
Next was Close to the Edge. The whole thing. Awesome! This was really the only time I heard Benoit's voice break, on the "Not right away, not right away" lines. But, damn, those are high for anyone. I can certainly imagine Jon's voice cracking up there at the end of a tour. Have I mentioned how impressed I was with this pinch singer?
Now, at the halfway point, Chris and the others graciously yielded the stage to that Gollum with a Guitar, Steve Howe (his hair is thin and wild, his eyes seem to bug out, he wraps his skinny frame around the Gibson while his spidery fingers run up and down the neck, and he makes these sudden movements, turning to the audience as if to ask, "Are you following me?") for bothMood for a Day and Clap (I think I was the only one clapping on the backbeat, but that's how I roll).
Steve took his break, and Chris brought us his new song, Aliens are Only Us From the Future. During the show, I kept thinking, "What album is this from?" and of course, it isn't. I dug up a youtube clip from the (I think) Columbus, OH show:
They said good night, but of course came back for the encore: Owner of a Lonely Heart. WTF? So not what I expected at this show, and certainly not in the encore. But they followed that with Roundabout, which had most of the audience on their feet and clapping, and some of us even singing along.
A great show, and I am thrilled to have finally seen them live (and I think I said yesterday, it was from ninth row center--amazingly good seats considering I bought them day of the show!).
The Big Heat arrived last week, and it's been getting a ton of play in the car (which doesn't show up on last.fm). The Blonde likes Stan a lot better than Wall of Voodoo (although there's still a special place in her hear for Back In Flesh).
I really, really like the title track. "Everybody wants another piece of pie today, she said." That really brings Twin Peaks to mind, but of course the album is from 1986, so it anticipates the show ("the front page of a newspaper dated 1992" indeed!).
The out-of-control piledriver; the passive cab driver; the super-salesman ("I just read the map and steer"); all great stories. And, yes, this week everybody "wants a real deal." 76 years ago we got the New Deal, and now we want the Real Deal.
This is all in the Wikipedia article linked to above, but: It's a relatively recent play (off Broadway in 2004, Broadway in 2005) about a singer of questionable talent but sufficient fortune to buy her way into a series of recitals in Depression-era New York City. The act became a cult phenomenon, and she actually sold out Carnegie Hall in 1944.
Well, one of my favorite bands, They Might Be Giants, is coming to a local venue, and I'm not going to be there. Why? Mostly, because it's on a Tuesday night.
Now, I know bands can't have all their shows on weekend nights. But Tuesday? And Jannus Landing is outdoors, and has no seats. That's right, every ticket is SRO. I didn't know that until I went there a couple of months ago for Toad The Wet Sprocket. The Blonde and I had great "seats" for that show (see my last post), but I have a feeling TMBG might draw a little more than TTWS (the Johns are still actually together, recording albums, etc.).
But I'm getting to that age where (a) I have to remember my earplugs (forgot them for TTWS) and (b) I have to go home at 11 or I'm useless until I get a morning when I can sleep in (so I take a morning off work, or zombie through until the weekend).
Not only that, but there's this almost-seven-year-old complication that requires arranging babysitting anytime we want to do something without her. Just try getting a sitter until midnight on a school night (and we just had one Saturday night for a great performance of Haydn's 1st Horn Concerto & Debussy's petite suite and a slightly pretentious Rimsky-Korsakov Scheherazade, courtesy of The Florida Orchestra).
So instead I'm treating myself to a Giants marathon, starting tonight, playing all the albums I have (which is most or all of the non-compilations) in release order. Everybody wants a rock to wind a string around, but sometimes I'd like to toss the rock at tour coordinators.
Thu 17 Jan – Toad the Wet Sprocket, Stephen Kellogg & the SixersOMG! Randy has gray hair! Well, so do I, so fair enough. He came out for a sound check on the kit after the opening act, and I had to convince myself it really was him. I had a good view: The Blonde and I stood (did I mention there aren't any seats in Jannus Landing's courtyard? I'll remember that next time!) only about ten feet from the edge of the stage.
The opening act, Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers, did not suck, as promised. Their tunes were bouncy, rocked a bit, and entertained, even if I thought they went on a bit long.
Ninety minutes after the "show time," Toad hit the stage. Yup, they're older; Glen's cut the mop short (as the current Last.fm artist picture shows, and we've seen it short in his solo gigs, e.g. last year at Skipper's Smokehouse), Todd sports a Van Dyke and a gut like mine behind the guitar, Randy's gone gray, and Dean's looking, well, softer than he did twelve years ago--but aren't we all?
With only a couple of obvious flubs (both involving Dean telling Todd and Glen respectively, "Wrong key!"), they still have their repertoire well in hand: they played all their radio hits, and most of the more popular songs (a couple were missed, in my opinion, such as Torn, but that's life; they did skip Hold Her Down, and you know, that's all right with me). Some of Todd's solos have changed: matured, perhaps, following his interest in roots rock and country. (What I could hear, that is; your old-fart reporter forgot his earplugs, and his ears are still ringing almost twenty-four hours later. Dang, it sucks to grow old.) They also took on one tune from Glen's latest, Mr. Lemons. None from Dean's or Todd's ex-Toad work? Oh, well. They had a guest from Todd's current band playing lap steel and mandolin who was quite good.
As usual, they threw in a cover (in the encore, no less): David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust. The surprise was spoiled just a little bit, as this was the tune Glen started in the wrong key. Great fun, though!
And I felt I got my money's worth when they played perhaps my two favorite Toad tracks, Windmills and Butterflies, one right after the other in the middle of the set. I love Butterflies because of the extremely close harmonies and the bass line. That was one of the first tunes I learned after getting my first bass guitar.
Definitely one of the better shows I've seen this year (beat Police; Rush would be number one running away, if I'd been as close as I was last night).
I have a new tag. On my dashboard, Last.fm offered me a listen to a band I hadn't heard of, The Gathering, called The Mirror Waters. Go take a listen (with the volume low, if you're not a metalhead); I'll still be here.
Back? I got to about the second line of what's known in the metal world as "death grunt" (which I tend to avoid; I'm a singer, and that just isn't singing, to me), and I thought, "My God! This label signed Cookie Monster!"
Hence, "cookie monster metal"--tag in good health.
This Friday, November 16, tune in to Tampa's WUSF 89.7 (that's available online, as well) at 11am and 2pm, Eastern time, to hear excerpts from the latest Richard Zielinski Singers album, American Voices, Volume 2, along with an interview with Dr. Z himself.
Our release concert is Sunday, November 18, at 3pm at the Palladium in St. Pete.
The Richard Zielinski Singers are back in the studio this weekend, recording the second in what we hope will be an annual series, American Voices 2. We plan to release it in October, when it will be available (like American Voices) on CDBaby and iTunes.
Any atmospheric sound effects can be attributed to Tropical Storm Barry, which made landfall this morning!
Rick (or "Z") is a perfectionist, who beats us when we hit a wrong note (well, it feels like that when he stops the choir and glares at you). If you've recorded with a group of four, or even twelve, imagine trying to get a complete take with forty musicians all getting it exactly right. From a mathematical perspective, if any one musician's chance of making a mistake is p, the chance of none of us making a mistake is (1-p)^40; if p is as small as half a percent, there's nearly a twenty percent chance someone will err; if p is two percent, it rises to over fifty-five percent! Augh!
Anyway, we have over half the tracks in the can, with a session tomorrow afternoon and then another in July. I'll let you know when the album is available!