Category Archives: Articles

Ticketstubs: Marilyn Manson in Grand Rapids, 1999

I miss having a friend with access to a corporate luxury box at the local arena. It’s the perfect way to see artists you don’t care about enough to pay for your own tickets. [DP disagrees. -ed.]

I know this sounds gross, but stick with me.

Back in the late 90s I had a good friend who was the pop and candy buyer for a large regional grocery store chain. Coca Cola had a box at the newly opened Van Andel Arena and my friend could get us in to pretty much any concert that came around.

We were in our twenties and like all members of Generation X we were very concerned about selling out. Especially now that we had decent jobs that paid pretty well. So when we got into the box my friend was adamant about refusing to allow the sales reps to talk business. That way we could maintain our punk rock integrity despite the fact that we were sitting in a luxury suite in a venue named after the co-founder of America’s greatest pyramid scheme. The only interaction I remember having with the Coke dudes was them offering us drinks and pizza.

We were subverting the capitalist system from within. We were sticking it to the Man! (We were young and silly.)

But we saw some good shows from that box (Tom Petty, Cher) and some mediocre ones (Aerosmith). The only time I really wanted to go to something but couldn’t was Britney Spears; the pervy old salesmen and executives didn’t have any spare tickets for that one.

But the best was when my friend would request seats to shows the sales reps absolutely would have never attended for any other reason than to nurture their relationship with a big client. And that’s how I got to see Marilyn Manson.

Continue reading Ticketstubs: Marilyn Manson in Grand Rapids, 1999

The Chain, Broken

Two of the things that have long fascinated me are (1) what makes a band a band and (2) why performers continue to perform long after ordinary people move on to something else in their lives besides that which created their livelihoods.

As for the first point, the issue is that of membership and then lack thereof: if there is a “critical mass” that makes a band what it becomes known to be, does the absence of one or more individuals change the chemistry, as it were, of the band? Does the band contain an individual or individuals such that with out them the band would be something other than it had been? For example, consider The Beatles. If Lennon or McCartney had left the band while it still existed, would it have still been The Beatles? What about Harrison or Starr?

The existing members of a band (or perhaps their manager and/or promoters) typically, when losing a key member, find someone who seamlessly integrates so that there is little difference: Consider Journey post-Steve Perry and Yes sans Jon Anderson: their replacements are cover band material extraordinaire.

Lindsey Buckingham was, in effect, recently fired by his band mates in Fleetwood Mac. And he was, in effect, orally and audibly replaced by two people, Mike Campbell, formerly of the Heartbreakers, and Neil Finn, he of Crowded House.

Presumably, Campbell and Finn got their positions (jobs?) because they would be resonate with what can be considered the “sound” of “Fleetwood Mac,” a band that Buckingham was part of for 33 years: 1975 to 1987; 1997 to 2018. After all, Buckingham was instrumental, literally and figuratively, when it put out Fleetwood Mac, which solidly established the band in a way that resonates today (“Say You Love Me,” “Landslide,” “Rhiannon”) and Rumours (“Go Your Own Way,” “The Chain”).

With the departure of Buckingham, the five-person group has become six.

Continue reading The Chain, Broken

Riot Fest 2018: Whole Lotta Shakin’

I’ve been attending big music festivals in Chicago every summer since 2005, but it’s been many many years since I arrived anywhere near early enough to see the opening wave of bands. There’s always bands I’d kinda like to see who play before 2:30pm but 3-day music festivals are work and you have to make sacrifices for your health and sanity.

Riot Fest scheduled Liz Phair to play at 2:10 on Friday this year. That’s early. Especially for a Friday. And even more so since I no longer live in Chicago. But I love Liz Phair, and it’s been a while since I’ve seen her in concert. In fact, I had tickets to see her in Detroit on Thursday but once the Riot Fest lineup was released, I decided to skip it. But that made it mandatory to arrive in Douglas Park in time.

I didn’t need to worry. Getting in to the park this year was easier than ever before. In fact, we made it inside with plenty of time to see festival opener Speedy Ortiz, who coincidentally is opening up for Liz Phair on her current tour. They were fun and cool. And their 30-minute set flew by.

The best thing about Riot Fest is that it’s got a small enough footprint that you can run around from stage to stage in no time. Five or ten minutes is all you need to get from one to the another. Unfortunately, this also means there’s soundbleed from other bands if you’re not standing directly in front of the stage. But it’s great to be able to skip around and get a sampler platter of everything that’s happening.

Continue reading Riot Fest 2018: Whole Lotta Shakin’

The Resolectrics – Open Seas

Any bluesman will tell you it’s a game of sleight of hand. They all employ little tricks that confound and surprise you, which is essential for keeping music that is based on simple structures and patterns exciting.

The second album from Portland, Oregon’s The Resolectrics is a study in sleight of hand. One of my favorite live bands in a city filthy with great live bands, this three-piece has an uncanny ability to get sometimes stodgy Pacific Northwest audiences shaking their moneymakers. They do it with an infectious blend of blue-eyed soul and swampy blues they’ve developed over a few years of bouncing up and down the coast, which is what you’d expect to find in their sophomore release. And you do…but also so much more.

Photo © Tim LaBarge 2018

An equilateral triangle has three equal sides, which can be leveraged in architecture distribute weight and provide strength and stability. The foundation of The Resolectrics is certainly centered in rhythm & blues, but a foundation is something you build upon and what this band has built goes well beyond what you’d expect from the recent crop of bands hoping to be the next White Stripes, Black Keys or any other variation of black and white. The Resolectrics’ power is in the gray areas; the musical corners that aren’t as easily defined. It’s in these shadows where The Resolectrics confound and surprise you. They just as easily weave in Pet Sounds and Revolver as they do Electric Mud.

It’ll be interesting to see what other tricks they bring to bear and if this album is any indication, the skies will be wonderfully gray as they continue to sail their open seas.

The Resolectrics: Web, Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, Spotify

Godspeed, Bandit

It’s hard to describe just how unstoppable Burt Reynolds was at his peak in the late 70s, but here’s a quick (if somewhat disconnected) example: I had a babysitter when I was in elementary school whose dad was a Burt Reynolds impersonator. And he was good. He was a dead ringer and he’d even borrow a black Trans Am from a friend’s car lot when he made appearances. And then he’d be mobbed at those appearances. Absolutely mobbed, even though everyone knew he wasn’t actually Burt Reynolds. He was close enough to get everyone in an absolute panic. That’s how long The Bandit’s shadow was; we could all shiver nervously in it as it was rebroadcast from a midwestern dad’s borrowed Pontiac.

Born in 1936, his breakout film role was as Lewis Medlock in Deliverance in 1972 and he played the leading role in The Longest Yard two years later, but let’s be honest: Burt Reynolds as we know him was born in 1977 with his role as Bo “Bandit” Darville. He had the exact mixture of goofiness and bravado to pull off the lead role in a ridiculous road film where he takes a bet of $80,000 to haul 400 cases of Coors beer from Texarkana, Texas back to Atlanta in 28 hours. Yes, that was the premise of one of the biggest movies of the 70s (Wikipedia says the film the film eventually grossed $126,737,428 in North America, making it the second-highest-grossing movie of 1977, right behind Star Wars). That’s how weird it was back then.    

Reynolds proceeded to make a career of basically playing his own rogue-ishly charming self in a variety of films, including Sharkey’s Machine, Six Pack, Stroker Ace and maybe the most ridiculous film I’ve ever seen, Cannonball Run. Seriously, if you haven’t watched that film lately do yourself a favor and catch one of the viewings that are sure to make up cable TV’s programming this weekend. It is insane.

While Reynolds continued to work pretty regularly throughout the 80s and 90s, it was his role as Jack Horner in Boogie Nights that reminded us again how awesome he was and how integral he was to Hollywood in the 70s. It’s particularly fitting that it appears his final role will be as George Spahn, the rancher who owned the property where the Manson Family was arrested in 1969, thus marking the end of the 60s and the dawn of the era of Burt.

Ten-four, good buddy. Keep your shiny side up and we’ll see you at the next Cannonball Run.

Continue reading Godspeed, Bandit

New Moody Little Sister video: I Got Soul

Video: Moody Little Sister – “I Got Soul”

"I Got Soul" – Official Music Video – Moody Little Sister

Single out now on 8 Ball Records.

Full disclosure: I once washed dishes with Moody Little Sisters Rob Stroup and Naomi Hooley. We were up in Washington, at the foot of Mt. Adams where a group of musicians and friends would host an annual camping trip. The annual Hoot Family Campout was a welcomed wind down from what were usually busy summers in Oregon when everyone scrambles to soak up the sun before the rain returned. In the spirit of this communal event, everyone pitched in to help around the camp and I was pulling my shift in the kitchen with Moody Little Sister. We had a laugh and swapped some stories before taking our places in the breakfast buffet line. The Hoot Family is where you make fast friends and though I haven’t seen either since that morning (they moved to New Mexico and I moved to Michigan), I like to think we had a good time.

Moody Little Sister’s video for “I Got Soul” touches on community and estrangement and how, sometimes, you can pull yourself back to earth if you just stop to look around at who’s with you. Recorded with Pete Droge at Puzzle Tree Studio on Vashon Island, “I Got Soul” is the perfect blend of 70s smooth and…well…country soul. The single is the first for a planned 2019 full-length release.

Moody Little Sister: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Stick Arounds Video: Get You Back

Video: Stick Arounds – “Get U Back”

From Ways to Hang On, due this fall on GTG Records. The single is available for free download from bandcamp.

Goddamn, marionettes are creepy. There’s something about how they kinda hover in between childhood memories and nightmares that ensure they always leave you looking for your mom.

The Stick Arounds have cobbled together some old footage of these spooky bastards in support of the first single from their upcoming album, Ways To Hang On, due in October. Hearty midwestern rock with big guitar hooks and desperate lyrics. It’s a simple story and one best told in a sweaty, loud bar with beer soaked floors.

The Stick Arounds: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Missed opportunity: Come on Pixies, you know we love you!

You may have heard that the Pixies are celebrating the 30th anniversary of Surfer Rosa with a big box set.

Three CD and Three LP editions out on September 28th, 2018 with new artwork reimagined by original designer Vaughan Oliver and the bonus disc, Live From The Fallout Shelter – one of the earliest recordings of the band, a radio concert that first aired in late 1986 on WJUL-FM in Lowell, MA.

It’s cool that they’re digging up a rare old concert for this, but what a missed opportunity to reissue these classics with the respect they deserve by gathering up all the music they recorded during this era.

It’s easy to imagine what could’ve been.

We all know that Come On Pilgrim was originally recorded as a demo tape to try to get a record deal. It worked, of course, because 4AD heard it and signed the band. 4AD selected 8 of the 17 songs from the demo and released them as Come On Pilgrim, clocking in at a generous twenty minutes and thirty seconds of music.

Most of the remaining nine songs were subsequently re-recorded and released on later albums and singles. Songs like “Broken Face” and “Here Comes Your Man.” All of those nine original demo versions were eventually released by spinART Records in 2002. They’re awesome.

And there’s no reason they shouldn’t be included in a special deluxe anniversary edition. Especially since the 17 songs altogether add up to under 39 minutes.

Continue reading Missed opportunity: Come on Pixies, you know we love you!

When KISS rocked Cadillac, Michigan

Every single thing about this article from FOTO magazine is amazing: “When KISS Rocked Cadillac – KISS was on the cusp of superstardom when a small, conservative town in northern Michigan invited the band to visit. The rest is rock history.”

It sounds like a Hollywood screenwriter’s fantasy: a small-town high-school football team turns around a losing season, inspired by the music of wildly theatrical rock and rollers from New York. The team contacts the group with an unlikely ask: Would they consider visiting, so the town can say thanks? The band, on the cusp of superstardom, agrees — resulting in one of the most improbable, wholesome, heartwarming stories in rock history. But this was no movie: the year was 1975; the town was Cadillac, Michigan; and the band was KISS. Here, after unearthing never-seen photos from the event, FOTO celebrates an unrepeatable pop-culture moment, and speaks with a man who helped make it happen.

Cadillac is a small town (population: 10,000) in the middle of rural northern Michigan. As a kid we would drive through it on our way “up north” to nicer places like Petoskey or Mackinac island. The expressway ended right before you got to Cadillac so we’d often stop at the Dairy Queen or the Big Boy. We’d gawk at the sign for a place called Stopless Topless. But in 2001 MDOT extended the expressway all the way up to Manton and since then there hasn’t been any reason to stop in Cadillac.

But back in 1974 Cadillac High’s assistant football coach played the team KISS music in the locker room to inspire the team. They went on to have a winning season and the coach wrote to KISS to thank them. So the next year when KISS was on their Alive! Tour they were invited to participate in the homecoming parade and receive the key to the city.

This isn’t a new story. And there was a lot of local press around it in 2015 for the 40th anniversary. But FOTO has found a trove of previously unpublished photos taken by Irish music journalist Fin Costello, and they’re unbelievably awesome. See for yourself.

And then check out some of the previous coverage and photos, because it’s all great.

“When KISS Visited Cadillac High School in 1975” by Lou Blouin (Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine, October 2015).

“Gene Simmons on 1975 Cadillac High School concert and parade: ‘It was almost as if we landed on Planet KISS'” by John Gonzalez (MLive, September 29, 2015) with an equally great gallery of 23 photos that were given to Coach Neff by KISS in 1975 with permission to use with no restrictions.

“Cadillac’s connection with Kiss endures 40 years later” by John Hogan (Detroit Free Press, October 8, 2015).

“KISS does a high school Homecoming” by Danny Arruda (ESPN, March 1, 2010) with a bunch of great photos, including some in color.

Jim Neff’s Cadillac KISStory

Cadillac KISStory Tour!

And check out a great video, below, featuring archival footage from 1975 as well as some interviews from 2010 with Gene, Paul, the coach, a couple football players, and the head cheerleader, who has a story that shouldn’t surprise anybody.

Continue reading When KISS rocked Cadillac, Michigan

Return of the Village Green Preservation Society

As I am someone who has long enjoyed the music of the Kinks and the Doors, you might think that I would be over the proverbial moon with the recent announcements—one iffier than the other—that (1) the Kinks are reuniting and (2) there is a 50th anniversary version of Waiting for the Sun coming out this September.

As for the first, Sir Ray Davies (must give the man his propers) told the BBC that he was getting the band back together to record an album, having been inspired by The Rolling Stones’ recent spate of European concerts. The Kinks were formed in ’64, managed to get banned from touring in the U.S. for four years starting in ’65, and disbanded in ’96. The last bona-fide Kinks album, To the Bone, was released in ’94. In addition to Sir Ray, the band included his brother Dave, Mick Avory, and Pete Quaife. Quaife died in 2010. So the reunion would be of a trio, not a quartet.

As for the second, the Doors formed in 1965, and consisted of Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, and Robby Krieger. Their first album, The Doors, appeared in 1967. Waiting for the Sun was the third album, appearing in 1968. L.A. Woman was their last proper album, as it was released in April 1971 and Jim Morrison died in July of that year.

So while there is certainty that the Doors album will appear, whether the Kinks record or not is something that remains to be heard.

And I hope that they don’t.

Realize that the band hasn’t existed since 1996. That’s 22 years ago. The band itself existed for 32 years, which is a long run by any measure and the body of work that it produced includes some of the best songs of the late 20th century.

Continue reading Return of the Village Green Preservation Society