Friday, August 11, 2017

Replay America - Live at the NYCB Theatre - August 3rd, 2017

On August 8th, the crowd at the NYCB Theatre was brought back to the 80's when the stars of the Replay America came to town. Fans of 80's music all throughout the NYC area met at the NYCB Theatre in Westbury, Long Island to see the star studded lineup of The Motels, Naked Eyes, Taylor Dayne, and Billy Ocean! And each artist really gave the fans their money's worth with a show to remember.


Opening the show was The Motels...
















When the band came out, I wasn't sure what to expect since I only knew The Motels through their hits Only The Lonely" and "Suddenly Last Summer". When their set was over, I honestly wanted to hear more! Martha Davis vocals still sound great, and they were a real breath of fresh air. Their performance was just the right act to set the mood of the show. Meeting them backstage after their performance really gave me much more respect for them. They were very nice and down to earth. Martha mentioned to me that they'd be releasing an album later this year, so be on the lookout!






Next up was Naked Eyes...



If you know anything about 80's music, then you'll remember the big synth driven hit "Always Something There To Remind Me". That song is one of the many from the 80's that are guaranteed to be stuck in your head upon hearing. I was always curious how this would sound live. Well I got my chance on this night and it was real cool to hear it. Basically it sounded just as you would expect it, with a slightly more acoustic guitar sound thrown in by lead singer Pete Byrne. Once this song came on, everyone got really into it and was singing along. It was a great moment that drew the crowd in. Also a side note: Pete was a really cool guy to meet with after the performance. I was glad that I got the chance to chat with him for a bit after his set. Now on to digging up some more songs in the Naked Eyes catalog to listen to.








Next up to perform was... Taylor Dayne

Now this is an artist that I am very familiar with. Who hasn't heard the opening notes to "Tell It To My Heart" and then immediately got transported back to a middle/high school dance?? I know that this song in particular was a HUGE part of my middle school years because it was played EVERYWHERE and the video was constantly on rotation on MTV! So this was one act I was looking forward to see. Before Taylor went on stage, I had the privilege of meeting with her for a bit. She was very friendly and is the kind of artist who is great with her fans. So it's no surprise she still has a loyal fanbase after all these years.



As soon as she went on stage she immediately energized the audience and had (mostly) everyone on their feet singing along and dancing. Her set was a compilation of her biggest hits. The obvious highlights were "Don't Rush Me", "With Every Beat Of My Heart" and then her finale "Tell It To My Heart"! The crowd really got into it as she belted out her biggest hit. After all these years, her voice is still powerful and can really captivate an arena. She really gave her fans what they wanted with her memorable performance that night. 






After Taylor was.... Starship!



Another staple from the 80's, Starship was best know for their hits "We Built This City" and "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" (the theme song from Mannequin). The band is still touring these days, however the only original member is Mickey Thomas. After all these years, Mickey still sounded great. Yes, his voice is not the same it was 30 years ago, but it was still vintage Mickey. But don't let that stop you from seeing them! Singer Stephanie Calvert had some big shoes to fill, but she did an awesome job filling in as the female vocalist. Mickey and Stephanie sang their hearts out to the crowd with the obvious hits like "Sara". But it was "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" and "We Built This City" that got the crowd into it. Sometimes certain bands have the tendency to mail in a performance, Not Starship. They seemed grateful for their fans and did what they could to give everyone a good experience.  And what more could you ask from an act that's been around since the 80's? Overall, I'm really glad I finally got to see them in person.










Last but not least was.... BILLY OCEAN!



This was the performance I was looking forward to the most. Billy has been once of my favorite artists since the 80's, and I still play his music on a regular basis. His supporting band got the crowd pumped when introducing him, and once he came on stage, the energy surged in the theatre. For a guy who is 67 years old, he does not slow down one bit! He was singing and dancing all around the stage and moving with more stamina than some guys half his age! The crowd fed off of his energy and was enthusiastically singing and dancing along with him. 







Billy's was, by far, one of the best live performances I've ever seen. And I've been to quite a few. With a smile that lights up a room, and a true passion for his music, there wasn't one part of his performance that disappointed. If you weren't singing along in the crowd, Billy made sure he did his best to get everyone to join in. He was a professional in every sense of the word. Some of the songs he sang were "Loverboy", "The Colour Of Love", "Suddenly, and of course "Caribbean Queen", "When The Going Gets Tough", and "Get Outta My Dreams (Get Into My Car)". There was even a cover of Bob Marley's "No Woman, No Cry" which is on his latest album! Every second of his performance was pure fun. This is a guy that knows how to work a crowd. Next time Billy comes to the NYC area, I'll be sure to see him again!

On a side note, I met Billy after the show,. Not only is he one of the nicest celebrities I ever met, but he is one of the nicest people that I've met in my life. He seemed very genuine and a true class act that cares for his fans. 

Thanks Billy for giving us a performance to remember! 





Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Blues Traveler - Live in Morristown, NJ - 7/15/17


 It was like '95 all over again...

This past Saturday, Blues Traveler made a stop on their current tour to Morristown, NJ at the MPAC (Mayo Performing Arts Center). On this night, old and new fans were treated to an energetic performance that showcased BT's catchy sound. John Popper lead the band with his amazing harmonica skills and belted out songs from the band's wide catalog of songs. As if this show didn't already have a cool 90's vibe to it, it was really cemented when they performed a cover of Sublime's "What I Got" that hammered it in. I found that to be a nice version of one of the great songs of the 90's. Of course, the band is still putting out some good new songs, but BT will always be associated as one of the 90's greats. Not surprisingly, the audience got the "Hook" and the "Run Around", which got everyone out of their seats and dancing. It was a fun time that the fans really enjoyed. Their set ran close to 2 hours, and the audience enjoyed every minute of it. The band's got a knack of seamlessly flowing from one song to the next without long breaks in between. And the jam sessions! What can I say? Each member had their moment to shine throughout the show by having their own jam session, showcasing their skills. They were all good, but I must say the keyboard solo really stood out to me. It's just something you have to see in person to really appreciate it. Overall, the performance was a lot of fun and I wouldn't hesitate to see them live again next time they come around.






Monday, June 26, 2017

Huey Lewis & The News - Live at NYCB Theatre in Westbury, NY



When it comes to slowing down, these guys apparently didn't get the memo.

For the second time in less than 6 months, Huey Lewis & The News were back in the NYC area to treat local fans to another live show. Last time they were here, they performed at the historic St. George Theater in Staten Island. This time around (June 21st) they played in Long Island at the NYCB Theatre. So how'd they do this time? Well let's just say the 2 plus hours sitting in traffic on the Long Island Expressway was totally worth it.




From the moment you heard the "thump thump" heartbeat played in the theatre, we knew we were in for something special. Naturally, the boys came out and got right down to business by opening the show with The Heart Of Rock and Roll. The crowd broke into a frenzy during the opening song. Feeding off of the energy, the band elevated their performance and carried that on throughout the entire show. 

There's no surprise that the band went through almost the entire catalog of their greatest hits. Hits like  "I Want A New Drug", "If This Is It", and "Stuck With You" soared through the theatre while the fans joyfully sang along. One minor complaint from me would be that they didn't play "Perfect World". But hey, we can't always get what we want right? 



Huey, a true professional at getting the crowd pumped up, would occasionally shout "Are you still with me??" The audience would reply with a boisterous "YEAH!!!" I noticed once they broke into "Heart and Soul", the crowd participation felt like it was at its peak. Most of the crowd was up out of the seat singing along and dancing. 

Leading towards the end of the show, they played hits like "Back In Time" and of course "Power Of Love", For the final song, the boys broke out into a full on jam session by playing "Working For A Living". In my opinion, that was the best song to close out the show. 

For all the fans, old and new, it truly was a night to remember. This is a band that has been at it for almost 40 years and they're still going strong. Their music has been the soundtrack for my youth, as it was for so many others, And you could see that the fanbase is still loyal after all these years. It was a truly memorable show, and hopefully they'll come back soon! 





Monday, February 27, 2017

Huey Lewis and The News - Live at St. George Theatre, Staten Island, NY (Feb. 26, 2017)



Huey Lewis and The News rolled through NY last night and put on a memorable show for all ages.

To be honest, I'm ashamed to say that despite being a lifelong fan of these guys, I have never seen them live. When Huey (who's quite the showman) asked the crowd if there were any first timers, I was one of the many that shouted. Huey then sarcastically said something like "Where have you all been? We've only been doing this the past 39 years?" Laughter ensued and then the band jumped into the next song on their list.

That was a common theme of the night. The band would play a few hits. Huey would interject with some funny anecdotes to get the crowd laughing, and then go right back into another song. Needless to say, there wasn't a dull moment during the show.

So, overall how was the show?

AMAZING!

It was everything I expected it to be. The band sounded as tight as ever. For those of us (like myself) that were too young to see them during their prime in the 80's, this was as close as you could get to experiencing that. Sure, this wasn't the Sports tour, but if you were to close your eyes during the show and imagine you were there, you'd be able to go "Back In Time" and live that moment.



To open the show, the band came out to Heart of Rock and Roll which the audience responded with a raucous applause. They then jumped into My Other Woman, and then I Want a New Drug. Following that was an extended version of Jacob's Ladder, which was one of the highlights of the night that featured a wonderful harmonica solo by Huey. The run time of the song was just over 7 minutes long!



Of course, they then proceeded to play fan favorites like Hip To Be Square, Heart and Soul, and Power of Love. In the midst of all that, they even squeezed in a recent song titled While We're Young. The catchy tune is a testament to the band itself. While they may be getting older in age, they're "not quite done yet" as Huey said introducing the song.



And thankfully for us fans, they aren't done yet. They're still touring with the energy and passion of a band in their 20's. And hopefully, it stays that way for more years to come!



A huge thanks to Huey's manager (pictured with me below) Lol Halsey for setting all of this up.



Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Huey Lewis and The News in NY (Sunday February 26th!)



38....

THIRTY EIGHT!!!

That's how many years Huey Lewis and The News have been together!

How many bands can you think of that have been around that long and are STILL TOURING?

You'd be hard pressed to find any.

And yet, the band that took us Back In Time, showed us the Power Of Love, and reminded us the Heart of Rock & Roll is still beating is right in the middle of a tour, and is coming straight to NYC on February 26th!

If you're like me and grew up listening to this legendary band, but never had the opportunity to see them in concert, here is your chance. The band is coming to the St. George Theater in Staten Island, NY.

Fellow residents of the NYC area, you don't want to miss this!

You can find out how to get tickets by going here!




Friday, January 20, 2017

Sherlock: The Essential Arthur Conan Doyle Adventures

Due to time constraints, I needed the help of Amica Paige (www.amicatonic.blogspot.com) for this great book. Enjoy!

This review would have gone out sooner, but, you see, there was the case of the holidays.… And one is the wiser for not taking it in stride, unless one delighted in guilt-tossing, drama, excommunication and loved ones. Honestly, though, I would rather toss myself in bed—which, now that I think about it, might have been what actually held me. But this isn’t about me.

What can I say, but, being that this is the first edition of Sherlock I have ever laid my hands (and eyes) on, quite literally—I have only a vague notion of the scope of the ever-expanding Holmesian world, further shaped by the very fandom it created, which has spawned countless adaptations all across the media, chief among them being the current hit BBC series? Why anything I should say make a “pennyworth of difference” to Sherlock devotees who, I imagine, own attics full of treasures, if not libraries, on the “unofficial consulting detective” that could topple even the most impressive “mind palace” like Magnussen’s? Regardless, I must admit: this is a celebration for committed followers and new admirers (I’m in) of the arguably (in)famous, invincible, enigmatic, evasive, eccentric genius of a sleuth—if slightly,  no, precisely off-the-center and obsessive-to-the-point-of-psychotic, and rightfully so: after all, it is a “high-functioning sociopath” we follow, isn't it? But what to tame the beast of Baker Street and his exacting spirit that he does not self-destruct without our consent? Well, that calls for a different sort of strength, if a complementary and not necessarily an equivalent, opposing force, embodied in the gentle(r), steady(ier) mien of the ex-army captain, Dr. John Watson, who is no stranger himself to frailties and danger. Deferential in manner (out of high regard for his companion), the doctor’s power of observation is no less sharp. Of his early assessments of Holmes, he asserts: “[His] smallest actions [are] all directed towards some definite and practical end.” (“A Study in Scarlet” 21) Which may very well be the case in our world, let alone the sleuthing world, since “there is nothing so [sic] unnatural as the commonplace” (“A Case of Identity” 208)—lest we be left totally bereft of meaning, which, fortunately, isn’t the case the last time you (and I) checked(?), I’m assuming; and which brings to mind a simple notion: that we all need someone to look after, who watches over us for a sane balance, and if for nothing else but the sake and “science of deduction”no? But let’s save all my guesswork for another time.

SHERLOCK The Essential Arthur Conan Doyle Adventures should make a happy addition to the fandom and an excellent starter edition for more mature readers of all ages. I only wish that co-creators Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat (considering their seeming dedication to the Conan Doyle canon and their level of involvement in the BBC adaptation) had written a more substantial piece for each selected title, instead of pitching in a few phrases, which seems somewhat inadequate in presenting such masterpieces, but that’s just me. Nonetheless, the Victorian cover is no small treat, featuring Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch as the partners-in-crime in the BBC series—now, if that isn’t awesome as whipped icing on a cake! But the book’s true value, of course, lies in its content: Doyle’s detective tales—all 19 of them—including the first ever Sherlock adventure, “A Study in Scarlet”; the least adapted “A Case of Identity”; and the ever famous, “The Hound of the Baskervilles.” The legendary author’s prolific work spans sci-fi, romance, poetry, plays, and crime fiction, the latter of which had earned him his rightful place on the literary stage. Like his fictional character Watson, Doyle was a doctor, which served instrumental to his writing: he wrote as he waited for patients.

As expected of Doyle’s detective stories, this tight collection is steeped in secret codes, false identities, seeming trifles, misinformation, and misdirection to keep the suspense going alongside the sharp-as-the-banters crime fighting amid endless red herrings—highlighting, yet again, just what makes Holmes’ and Watson’s team-up so highly appealing. Watch, it may just sling you back on the track of quick wit and a newfound perception to start your year, perhaps. Hey, everyone can hope! Now let’s hear it from Holmes:

“[A] man's brain … is like a little empty attic [that you stock] with such furniture as you choose. […] It is a mistake to think that that little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent. […] It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones.”

Interesting point. Only I’m not so sure it works, especially at family gatherings…. Though we might get away with texting.

Not to drown you in more asides, well, maybe just a little—especially those of you who haven't read the book (nor watched the series), which I find rather shameful if you claim to be a lover of clever characters; though it is also quite a relief to know there are worse readers than me who are slower to jump in the bandwagon, whatever their reason. Blame the “most unimpeachable Christmas goose….” Or, in my case, the Tofurky that flapped its distracted wings from one holiday to the next, not realizing, again, that it is holiday in itself when one immerses in a really good story. This is in no way a disregard of the sometimes-amusing-if-not-awkward-or-all-out-disturbing tales shared at the dinner table, where one might just catch a carbuncle, and blue at that…. Which is why one still puts up with family traditions.

Having tossed enough nods to the book, I leave you with the following excerpts from one of my favorite episodes in the series instead. Loosely adapted from the original tale, “His Last Bow,” which unfortunately didn’t make it in the set (and which I haven’t read yet), “His Last Vow” is the most festive (beside the “The Adventure of The Blue Carbuncle”), though I have not the time to prove my case. Meanwhile, here's to Holmes! And to Watson, who I (we) can only wish to forever remain the intrepid chronicler of their everlasting (mis)adventures! Again, we can always hope, plus it’s the New Year and Season 4 is up! So, delay no more and be a hound like Holmes! Just don’t hound the turkeys, as did the hound of the Baskervilles…. Happy sleuthing! Let me know when you’ve jumped in! Cheers!

Watson:               But it's Christmas!
Holmes:               I feel the same. Oh, you mean it's actually Christmas. Did you bring your gun as I suggested?
Watson:               Why would I bring my gun to your parents' house for Christmas dinner?
Holmes:                Is it in your coat?
Watson:                Yes.

Mycroft:                Also…your loss would break my heart.
Sherlock:              What the hell am I supposed to say to that?
Mycroft:                Merry Christmas.
Sherlock:              You hate Christmas.
Mycroft:                Yes. Perhaps there was something in the punch.
Sherlock:              Clearly. Go and have some more.

Magnussen:          Everything's available for a price. You making me an offer?
Sherlock:              A Christmas present.
Magnussen:          Then what are you giving me for Christmas, Mr. Holmes?
Sherlock:              My brother.

Sherlock:             Oh, do your research. I'm not a hero, I'm a high-functioning sociopath. Merry Christmas!

Like I said, this review should have been posted sooner. Oh, but the holidays…


SHERLOCK The Essential Arthur Conan Doyle is published by Pegasus Books; jacket design by Two Associates with photo from Hartsford Films.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Brat Pack America by Kevin Smokler



As an 80s movie junkie, seeing a silhouette of Judd Nelson’s character from The Breakfast Club on any merchandise is enough to get my attention. So when I saw this book, I was immediately sold. And the faux VHS look is a sweet bonus for stroking my nostalgic addiction.

Brat Pack America offers plenty of juicy tidbits that will satisfy the most ardent 80s pop culture fans. Kevin Smokler doesn't rely on mere opinions about these beloved teen films, but delves into the “where” of what gave these movies their distinct personalities. This book takes you on a virtual trip to the film “settings” of hits, like John Hughes’ films, as well as other cult classics like Lucas, My Bodyguard, Valley Girl, etc. I can picture riding Clark’s station wagons for a Griswold cross-country to the movie locations. I can hear Clark saying, "Hey look kids, there's the football field where Lucas dropped the catch! And there's the school where The Breakfast Club had detention!", and watch Rusty and Audrey roll their eyes. But I’d be right there with Clark and his wide-eyed enthusiasm, complete with a possessed smile.

Smokler treats every chapter with genuineness, as though he sees through the eyes of a kid still living in the 80s, and he wants us to see its youth phenomena. Brat Pack isn't just a book for long-time fans, but can serve as a starter for anyone curious about the period, including those that brushed off its teen movies as silly. When special aspects and hidden layers are presented the way they are in the book, views can change, especially for those who regard the films as not relatable. Though my own views may be biased, being that I’m an 80s devotee, I think there is much more to these films than folks gave them credit for. And Kevin does a stellar job highlighting this fact.

So throw on your Members Only jacket, sit back, and get this book. And don't be a "butthead", as Biff Tanner would say. You won't regret it. Well, unless you go back in time…and screw up your future. Doc would agree.