All posts by Stephen Macaulay

From the Sports Desk (Yeah, Right)

This coming Sunday Super Bowl LV will be held in Tampa. The LV for those of you who have given up counting like an ancient Roman is 55. Tampa is in Hillsborough County, Florida, which is far below places like Miami-Dade County when it comes to COVID-19 cases and deaths (as of February 1, M-D: 373K cases; 4,905 deaths//Hillsborough, 101K; 1,319 deaths), but it still makes the top 5.

The main act during the halftime show is The Weeknd. Presumably he has been residing in the U.S. because he is Canadian, and the U.S.-Canadian border is closed to all non-essential travel until February 21 due to the pandemic, and somehow acts at a football game don’t seem like the definition of “essential.”

According to the NFL, there will be 25,000 fans and 30,000 cutouts in attendance at Raymond James Stadium, which has a capacity of 65,890 humans. Presumably you could really stack in the cutouts.

For some people, the Super Bowl is about the game (in this case, the Kansas City Chiefs vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers). For other people it is about the ads. And for a non-trivial number, the halftime show. (In case you are wondering, Super Bowl I’s halftime performers were the University of Arizona and Grambling State marching bands. Isn’t that somehow more football appropriate than a guy who has racked up three Grammy Awards, five American Music Awards and nine Billboard Music Awards?)

The Morning Consult, which has become my go-to place for things of a statistical nature, has surveyed U.S. adults to get their favorability ratings for the Super Bowl halftime shows from XLIV, which was held in 2010, to LIV, last year. In terms of performers for those two games, it was a band that liked to call itself “The Who” in 2010 and Shakira and Jennifer Lopez, featuring Bad Bunny and J Balvin in 2020.

The people surveyed were given three choices: Favorable. Don’t Know/No Opinion. Unfavorable.

The performer who has been the most popular at the Super Bowl in the last decade? Bruno Mars. His performance in 2014, with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, was rated 59% Favorable and just 14% Unfavorable.

The performer who has been the least liked? Madonna. Her 2012 halftime show, with LMFAO, Nicki Minaj, M.I.A. and Cee Lo Green, had a Favorable rating of 44% and an Unfavorable number of 32%. That is not only the lowest Favorable number (there is a six-point difference to the next lowest, Maroon 5, featuring Travis Scott and Big Boi, at 50%), it is the highest Unfavorable number (with Maroon 5, featuring Travis Scott and Big Boi at 25% Unfavorable).

With the exception of Madonna, all of the other acts are all 50% or more Favorable.

Continue reading From the Sports Desk (Yeah, Right)

Truckin’

As there has been a decided tendency on my part to write these things with numbers—many of which have something to do with an alphanumeric that ends with “19,” which I promise not to go into today—here are some numbers that, unless you are into the pickup version of trainspotting (the actual British pastime, not the Irvine Welsh book or the Danny Boyle film), you’re probably unaware of.

In 2020 Ford sold 787,422 F-Series trucks. That means that every single person in Seattle could have gotten an F-Series truck last year. The F-Series has been the best-selling pickup for 44 years. That goes back to 1976. The top three songs Billboard Top 100 singles list for that year are (1) “Silly Love Songs” by Wings, (2) “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” by Elton John and Kiki Dee, (3) “Disco Lady” by Jonnie Taylor. Yes, a long time ago.

There’s more.

Ford hired the Boston Consulting Group late last year to run some numbers on the importance of the F-Series to the U.S. economy. And it turns out that the F-Series supports about 500,000 jobs in the U.S. (this doesn’t mean there are 500,000 people building pickup trucks but that if you take direct employees and dealer employees, there is a multiplier effect leading to that figure). And another multiplier figure: the F-Series contributes about $49-billion to the U.S. Gross Domestic Product.

All of that may seem rather nebulous (unless “Silly Love Songs” is now stuck in your head and you’ve pretty much glazed over the preceding paragraph).

So here’s something that makes it more tangible, perhaps.

The revenue for the iPhone in the U.S. is $55-billion, which explains, in part, why Apple is so valuable. The revenue for the F-Series is $42-billion. The revenue for the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL combined is $40-billion. (And you might have thought the Super Bowl was a huge deal.) And speaking of sports, all of the Budweiser product sold in the U.S.: $15-billion. (Don’t drive an F-Series, or anything else, for that matter, after consuming some of that.)

And in the context of companies with which we’re all familiar, the F-Series has more revenue than McDonald’s, Nike, Coca-Cola and Starbucks.

A final thing about Ford and pickup trucks: Henry Ford is credited with inventing the pickup, with the first model rolling off the assembly line in 1925. (Among the popular songs in 1925 were “Ah-Ha!” by Ted Lewis and His Jazz Band, “Let’s All Go to Mary’s House” by Savoy Orpheans and “Yes Sir, That’s My Baby” by Ace Brigode & His Fourteen Virginians.)

Yes, there actually is something to do with music in all of this.

It’s the phenomenal popularity of trucks in country music.

For a reason that is absolutely mysterious, a British vehicle insurance site, money.co.uk, worked with a U.S. data scientist, John Miller, to analyze country music and trucks. There were more than 16,000 songs analyzed from the past 50 years.

From that base it was determined that 4.16% of all country music has a reference to trucks. The decade of the 2010s had a full 8%.

Continue reading Truckin’

Four Things I Really Didn’t Write About

1.

I had thought about writing about the latest Morning Consult survey numbers regarding those who are thinking about concert going. It shows that 47% of those surveyed say it would be in more than six months and 26% that they don’t know or have no opinion. As you can see, that means it is a big “not good,” with 73% looking out at the future, or not looking much at all.

In addition to which, Morning Consult pollsters found that 22% of Republicans are ready to go to a concert right now, and just 11% of Democrats, so you might have to rethink your political orientation.

2.

Then I thought about some further bracing information that I read in Spiegel International with a German virologist, Christian Drosten. (No, I don’t know why I am reading Spiegel International, nor do I know why I read an interview with a German virologist whom I’ve never heard of, but I do know that there is something that I think is worth sharing, especially if you’re thinking about going to a concert in six months or more.)

Drosten said that he is “quite apprehensive” about what might happen in the spring and summer. Now while he was specifically talking about Germany, it isn’t too far a leap to apply some of this to the U.S. (which, I’m guessing, is where most of you who are reading this reside, and for those of you who are, say, in Germany, Schönen Tag):

“Once the elderly and maybe part of the risk groups have been vaccinated, there will be immense economic, social, political and perhaps also legal pressure to end the corona measures. And then, huge numbers of people will become infected within just a short amount of time, more than we can even imagine at the moment.”

Imagination is boundless. That’s clearly a big number.

Kicker #1: “It will, of course, be primarily younger people who are less likely than older people to have severe symptoms, but when a huge number of younger people get infected, then the intensive care units will fill up anyway and a lot of people will die. Just that it will be younger people.”

Youth may be wasted on the young, but COVID doesn’t care.

Kicker #2: When asked if he thought that as winter turns to spring and spring summer there would be a reduction in the number of cases (i.e., in about six months, when those people might be ready to attend concerts): “I am afraid that it will be more like in Spain, where case numbers climbed rapidly again after the lockdown was lifted, even though it was quite hot. In South Africa, too, where it is currently summer, case numbers are at a high level.”

Continue reading Four Things I Really Didn’t Write About

Trophy in a Morgue or on the Mantlepiece: Roll the Dice

“The deteriorating COVID situation in Los Angeles, with hospital services being overwhelmed, ICUs having reached capacity, and new guidance from state and local governments have all led us to conclude that postponing our show was the right thing to do. Nothing is more important than the health and safety of those in our music community and the hundreds of people who work tirelessly on producing the show.”

That is part of a joint statement from Harvey Mason, Jr., chair and interim president/CEO of the Recording Academy; Jack Sussman, executive vice president, Specials, Music, Live Events and Alternative Programming [there’s a lot to unpack with that list], CBS [no there isn’t]; and Ben Winston, GRAMMY Awards® executive producer, Fulwell 73 Productions.

The three were announcing that the presentation would be postponed from January 31 to March 14. They made their statement on January 5.

This is being written on January 16. According to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, Los Angeles County leads the nation in confirmed COVID-19 cases: 990,632. Cook County is in second place, at 429,270, or about 57% of LA. Deaths? LA County is number one with a bullet, at 13,504 deaths. Cook is at 8,939.

This is not to make light of those numbers. Not at all.

But it is to draw attention to the fact that things are not good in LA County—to understate things.
According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) of the University of Washington, today (January 16) there are 391,609 deaths in the U.S. from COVID-19.

March 14? The projection is that that number will increase to 540,433. Deaths.

Continue reading Trophy in a Morgue or on the Mantlepiece: Roll the Dice

The Winning End

To enter Hipgnosissongs.com please confirm you are not accessing this website from: the United States, Australia, Canada, Japan or South Africa or in any jurisdiction in which such an offer or solicitation would be unlawful.

A few weeks back, when I wrote about Bob Dylan selling his song catalog, I figured that that would be that.

Little did I realize how this is not a one-off but becoming something of a trending phenomenon.

This past week Neil Young sold half of the rights to his 1,180-song catalog to Hipgnosis Songs Fund Ltd. (Jimmy Iovine and Lindsey Buckingham also sold.)

That disclaimer up there: It is at the bottom of a homepage of legalese. This is serious business. Go beyond the homepage at your peril.

In the site, which is, make no mistake, about making money, not music, there is this description:
“The Company’s Investment Adviser is The Family (Music) Limited, which was founded by Merck Mercuriadis, former manager of globally successful recording artists, such as Elton John, Guns N’ Roses, Morrissey, Iron Maiden and Beyoncé, and hit songwriters such as Diane Warren, Justin Tranter and The-Dream, and former CEO of The Sanctuary Group plc. The Investment Adviser has assembled an Advisory Board of highly successful music industry experts which include award winning members of the artist, songwriter, publishing, legal, financial, recorded music and music management communities, all with in-depth knowledge of music publishing. Members of The Family (Music) Limited Advisory Board include Nile Rodgers, The-Dream, Giorgio Tuinfort, Starrah, Nick Jarjour, David Stewart, Bill Leibowitz, Ian Montone, Rodney Jerkins, Bjorn Lindvall and Chris Helm.”

Bet you never thought you would see Iron Maiden and Beyoncé in the same sentence.

According to a story in the New York Times in December 2020, Mercuriadis, whose fund then had spent $1.7-billion on hoovering up catalogs—Times: “Hipgnosis owns, in full or in part, 188 songs by Jack Antonoff, a collaborator of Taylor Swift; 197 by Debbie Harry and Chris Stein of Blondie; 814 by RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan; 315 by Mark Ronson; 1,068 by Dave Stewart of Eurythmics; and production royalties for 108 tracks by the hip-hop producer Timbaland”—said that he’s doing it because “I wanted to be able to do something that would contribute to having the music industry recognize that the songwriter and the producer are really the star of the show.”

So by buying up the catalogs, said songwriters and producers get more ready pocket money than they would have otherwise had. I must admit I am a bit mystified as to how producers make money off the deal, though I suspect they must.

Clearly, Mercuriadis, who may be a fan with exceedingly deep pockets, to say nothing of ready access to the pockets of others, isn’t doing this entirely for Sir Gawain-pure purposes. There isn’t that large warning on the top of the Hipgnosis page because all ye who enter are going to come out unscathed: this is about betting on the come.

Continue reading The Winning End

On New Year’s Day

On January 1, 1959, Johnny Cash performed at San Quentin State prison; what is interesting is that he’d released “Folsom Prison Blues” in December 1955, and didn’t play at Folsom Prison until 1968, when he recorded a live album there. He followed that up in 1969 with Johnny Cash at San Quentin. When he played the show on New Year’s Day in ’59 Merle Haggard was in the audience; Haggard had been convicted of trying to rob a roadhouse in Bakersfield in ‘57; failed at an escape from Bakersfield Jail, so was transferred to San Quentin. While Cash had never been a convict, Haggard had spent time in several prisons; that New Year’s Day performance by Cash was, Haggard later said, instrumental in his becoming a musician, something that he’d tried to do prior to the Bakersfield job, obviously unsuccessfully at that time.

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On January 1, 1953, Hank Williams—whose given name is Hiram—was being driven to Canton, Ohio, for a concert. Williams—who’d had a long bout of problems with alcohol, amphetamines, etc. (his drunkenness lead to his dismissal from the Grand Ole Opry in 1952; he became part of the show in 1949), although it should be pointed out that he was plagued by severe back problems and later a heart condition, so odds are the substance abuse was meant to relieve the pain—was found dead in the back seat of the Cadillac he was riding in. He was 29. One thing that Williams had pulled off that few others have managed as well as he did was to record as “Luke the Drifter.” Apparently, Luke the Drifter performed religious recitations, which Williams figured would not exactly be helpful vis-a-vis his public career. Somehow songs like “My Son Calls Another Man Daddy” and “Moanin’ the Blues” wouldn’t be Luke the Drifter-approved.

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On January 1, 1962, one of the great fails of all time took place: The Beatles auditioned for Decca Records. And Decca decided that Brian Poole and the Tremeloes would be a better pick. In July 1963 that band made its way to the charts for the first time in the UK with a cover of an Isley Brothers hit, “Twist and Shout.” The Beatles had beaten the band to that song, having released their version in March of the same year. The Tremeloes evidently knew a good thing when they heard it: in a post-Poole lineup, they covered “Good Day Sunshine” in 1966. It didn’t make the charts. Back to the Beatles for a moment: although January 1, 1962 was a Monday, did people really work that day in the UK?

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On January 1, 2007, BBC Radio 2 (According to the company: “The remit of Radio 2 is to be a distinctive mixed music and speech service, targeted at a broad audience, appealing to all age groups over 35”) announced the results of a poll that had been taken of approximately 20,000 of its listeners. It indicated that the greatest British band of all time was not the Beatles. It was Queen. This makes one question the vaunted “wisdom of crowds.”

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On January 1, 1890, the first Rose Parade was conducted by the Pasadena Valley Hunt Club. The association with a football game didn’t occur until January 1, 1902. There is a notable university in Pasadena, California Institute of Technology, better known as “CalTech.” It was established in 1891. It had a football team. The Beavers never played in the Rose Bowl. CalTech did have an “appearance” at the Rose Bowl in 1961. Some clever Sheldons managed to switch flip cards used by the cheerleaders for the Washington Huskies so that people in the stands would be directed to unknowingly spell “CALTECH” during halftime, which was picked up by the national NBC broadcast. (The CalTech football team ceased to exist in 1993.) On January 1, 1972, the first rock band rode on a float during the Tournament of Roses: Three Dog Night. Which makes one question the wisdom of the organizers in Pasadena back then. On January 1, 2021 there was no Rose Parade, having been canceled due to the pandemic. It was the first time the parade had been canceled since 1945, due to a world war.

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On January 1, 1975, Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham officially joined Fleetwood Mac. In April 2018 Buckingham was “fired” from the band, ostensibly because of Stevie Nicks. He sued the band in October for dismissal. He had a heart attack in February 2019 and underwent open heart surgery. Due to the intubation, his vocal cords were affected. He recovered and was to have made his first return to a stage at the Beale Street Music Festival, which was to have taken place May 2020, was pushed back to October 2020, and was cancelled. In December 2020 Stevie Nicks sold 80% ownership of her song catalog—including “Dreams,” which had a massive boost in 2020 due to a TikTok video—for a reported $100-million.

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On January 1, 2021, I thought I’d wish you all a good one for the year. The pandemic isn’t over yet. It is not likely to be for several more months. It will. But still: be careful. Because while we are all ready to get out there, know that on February 27, 2020, someone who shall go unnamed said, “It’s going to disappear. One day — it’s like a miracle — it will disappear.” We’re still waiting.

2020 at End: I Tried to Be Positive. Honest

As this is my last entry for 2020, I had planned to make it somewhat more, well, positive than many of the things I’ve written of late. Seems that for the past several months I’ve been writing about the consequences of COVID-19 on our music and our lives, and very little of that has had a proverbial silver lining. Then in the months before that it appeared that I had become the official Glorious Noise obituary writer, a dubious distinction at most.

But then I learned that Leslie West had died. I will confess that I am not a fan of Mountain, that I never found “Mississippi Queen” to be particularly engaging. It sounds to me like a variant on something that Lynyrd Skynyrd might have done. Or perhaps Def Leppard. Whereas the former are from Jacksonville, Florida, and the latter from Sheffield, England, West was born in New York City and was raised in Hackensack, New Jersey. Go figure.

The little interest that I had in Mountain was a result of the participation of Felix Pappalardi, whose name was familiar to me from his production work on Cream’s Disraeli Gears, as I was—and continue to be, albeit with a different fervor—a big fan of Cream. So if Pappalardi worked with West, it had to be worthwhile. But that didn’t really work in my estimation, even though I was arguably predisposed to like the band.

Of the members of Cream it was—and continues to be—Jack Bruce for me. He was one of the most innovative and accomplished bass players of the 20th century, and if you do an eye roll and think of “Sunshine of Your Love,” I suggest you give a listen to “You Burned the Tables on Me” from his third solo album, Harmony Row, or the work that he did with Kip Hanrahan. Then your eyes may open wide.

One of Mountain’s minor hits (or I guess for it the adjective can be removed) is “Theme for an Imaginary Western,” a cover of a song written by Jack Bruce and Pete Brown, which originally appears on Songs for a Tailor, Bruce’s first post-Cream solo album—produced by Pappalardi.

Pappalardi left Mountain and was replaced on bass and vocals by. . .Jack Bruce. Or at least a newly named band was created in 1972, West, Bruce and Laing. (Corky Laing played drums in Mountain, so the band wasn’t too far away from the original.)

In my estimation this was one of the bad choices that Bruce had made in his career, but presumably he was looking for a revenue stream. What is odd is if you listen to the solo album that Jack Bruce released after leaving West, Bruce and Laing, Out of the Storm, you’ll undoubtedly conclude that Bruce’s talent was wasted playing with West. (When Bruce went out on tour in support of that solo album, he enlisted Mick Taylor to play guitar: that is more of a balance of talent.)

Bruce formed the Jack Bruce Band and Jack Bruce & Friends during the 70s and 80s, but ended up collaborating with Robin Trower on two albums, B.L.T. (presumably that would be for Bruce, Bill Lordan (drums) and Trower; it is interesting to note that on the cover of the album, the font size for Trower’s name is significantly bigger than the other two) and Truce (in this case, Lordan was gone and just Bruce’s and Trower’s names appear on the sleeve, in the same font size). As for these two records, even though Trower, a remarkably capable guitar player, is a good foil for Bruce, they strike me as being somewhat mediocre.

Bruce became something of an itinerate musician, playing with all manner of musicians, some good, some questionable. He died of liver disease in 2014.

Pappalardi? He died of a gunshot wound in 1983. His wife was convicted of negligent homicide.

Of the two more famous musicians that he played with: Ginger Baker died in 2019 (Bruce and Baker collaborated in a band with guitar player Gary Moore—BBM—which released an album, Around the Next Dream, which for some odd reason features a picture of Baker smoking a cigarette (naturally) and wearing angel’s wings: Clapton is god but Baker is a seraph?); Clapton is still with us.

Which brings me to the positive subject that I’d planned to write about, the Save Our Stages Act, which is a $15-billion part of the coronavirus relief package passed by Congress. One of the main sponsors of the bipartisan bill is Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota—she worked with Senator John Cornyn of Texas, a stalwart Republican and evident music fan. On December 21 she took to the Senate floor and stated, “And this was about — yes, Nashville and New York, but it was just as much about the Fargo Theatre or a small small country music venue in Texas. And while we see the light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccines, we know that it will be quite a while before these businesses which operate on such thin margins as it is can keep going.”

Continue reading 2020 at End: I Tried to Be Positive. Honest

Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow

“Since 2016 we’ve had the privilege of booking and promoting over 3500 shows across Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, and Houston,” it says on the homepage of Margin Walker Presents. The company claims to be the “largest independent promotion company in Texas.” Or at least it was.

“Even with strategic changes in the business, painful staff cuts, and taking loans and grants, sadly, we at Margin Walker Presents have not been immune, and it breaks our hearts to announce that this wild ride has come to an end, and we are closing the business. . . .”

Another victim of COVID-19.

And one can only presume that there were all of the musicians that the company had booked over the past few years who are now facing huge difficulties. No gigs to play. Or no gigs that pay. Pay enough to pay the rent and get groceries. Musicians who had once had side hustles are now having to put those undertakings front and center—assuming that that is still a possibility.

Anyone who has spent any time in Austin knows that the music scene there—even with the ever-encroaching gentrification caused by the corporations that want to take advantage of the “Weirdness” of Austin, not realizing that their very presence works to normalize it—is robust. Venues from Austin City Limits to small bars in residential neighbors with backyard patios with stages provide a wide array of music.
Although now that could be in the past tense.

For now.

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Although the focus here is on rock and roll, the same day that I read about the closing of Margin Walker Presents there was a striking story in the New York Times. It was about professional musicians, organized musicians. As the story by Julia Jacobs opens, “When the coronavirus outbreak brought performances across the United States to a screeching halt, many of the nation’s leading orchestras, dance companies and opera houses temporarily cut the pay of their workers, and some stopped paying them at all.”

These are brand names, like the New York Philharmonic and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Metropolitan Opera and the Kennedy Center.

Not all of the people that are being impacted are musicians. There are stage hands, as well.
Jacobs’ story notes that the New York Philharmonic is cutting the base pay of musicians by 25% through mid-2023, with a rise afterward, but still leaving the people making less in 2024, when the contract expires, than they are now.

At the Boston Symphony a three-year contract has been signed that includes a pay reduction of an average 37% the first year, then increasing subsequently “but only recovering fully if the orchestra meets at leas one of the three financial benchmarks.”

And the odds of that?

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But there are the vaccines. There is hope that they will have a significant effect on people’s willingness to go out and resume life that looks something like it did before March.

Continue reading Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow

Dollars, Sense and Soundtracks

A word or several about the reported $300-million+ that Bob Dylan reportedly will be getting from Universal Music Publishing Group for his catalog of 600+ songs, songs written from 1962 until now. That is $500,000 per song. Yes, some of them—“Blown’ In the Wind,” “The Times They Are a Changin’,”“Like a Rolling Stone,” “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”—are certainly well known. One assumes that there are many, many, many others whom only the most dedicated Dylan fan would know or even be aware of (as I am not the most dedicated Dylan fan, I’ll not name any).

While it does make one wonder whether he’d gotten a few more dollars were he to have used the “g” rather than the “’” in the title of some of his tunes, we’ll let that go. Dylan has sold some 125-million records during his career. If we look at this as being a 58-year career (starting in 1962), this would mean that Dylan has sold an average 2.1-million records per year.

The times certainly are changing. For example, according to numbers from Billboard, Taylor Swift’s Folklore has become the first—and only—album to sell more than a million times in 2020.

Since her self-titled album of 2006, there have been nine Swift albums that have sold more than a million copies.

These are:

Taylor Swift: 5.75 million
The Taylor Swift Holiday Collection: 1.08 million
Fearless: 7.21 million
Speak Now: 4.71 million
Red: 4.49 million
1989: 6.25 million
Reputation: 2.28 million
Lover: 1.22 million
Folklore: 1.04 million

That is a total 34.03-million albums during a 14-year period. Which means that Swift has sold an average of 2.4-million per year, just edging Dylan out.

To be fair to Ms. Swift, she is 30 years old. Dylan is 79. She, presumably, has a whole lot more music in her to come than he does. [Correction: Swift turned 31 yesterday. -ed.]

This might lead some of you to think that I am making a comparison between the two musicians, causing a certain level of apoplexy among you. Yes, while I am making a comparison, this is not a comparison of talent.

Rather, it is a comparison of numbers.

Continue reading Dollars, Sense and Soundtracks

Of Residencies, Air Fryers & Gibson Guitars

I haven’t been to Las Vegas since January 2020. Was there for CES, not the tables. Things were still normal then. At least as “normal” as Vegas can be. Although the massive influx of the rabid technology enthusiasts who go to the city for that event—so many people that the only amount of social distancing that occurs would be measured in millimeters, not feet—change the dynamic. Because the Uber and Lyft networks are crushed, cabs are sometimes necessary. The cabbies are not particularly happy with the tipping that doesn’t happen—or happens at an infinitesimal rate—from those who can’t wait to see the latest from Samsung or Qualcomm or companies that essentially only the employees have heard of.

I was staying at The Delano. A hotel within a hotel. A means by which the proprietor can jack the rates disproportionately by providing a modicum of upped amenities. And a separation from the gaming floor. But in order to get an extraordinarily expensive cup of coffee it is necessary to go through to Mandalay Bay, where the shops and restaurants are found.

It was necessary to pass the theatre hosting “Michael Jackson ONE by Cirque du Soleil.” Given what came out about Jackson’s proclivities it seems like a strange show. Yes, there is the music. There is the man. But somehow the sale of jeweled gloves seemed strange. And the pre-show gift shop was always jammed.

But that’s Las Vegas.

One of the things that Las Vegas has become known for regarding concert performances is the “residency.” As in the individual musician or group plays at one of the multitudinous theaters night after night. Presumably they also stay at said hotel casino. But probably in a place like The Delano.
During the past few years there have been seemingly endless runs by people like Celine Dion, and shorter ones for the likes of Van Morrison (five dates at the Colosseum at Caesars). Other performers have included Lady Gaga, Janet Jackson, Cardi B, Britney Spears, Elton John, Cher, Mariah Carey, Billy Idol, Aerosmith, Bruno Mars, Bryan Adams Christina Aguilera, Chicago, Santana, David Lee Roth, the Doobie Brothers, Foreigner, Sting, Gwen Stefani, and, of course, Rod Stewart.

(I once met Donny Osmond in the jetway of a flight going from SLC to LAS. We chatted a bit. Yes, he was going back to perform at the Flamingo with his sister. He was (a) not surprisingly, nice and (b) taller than I would have expected.)

Know that residencies is not a new phenomenon by any extent.

Elvis rocked the Las Vegas Hilton from July 1969 to December 1976. Six-hundred and thirty-six nights of “Burning Love.”

Turns out he was a slouch compared with Donny & Marie: they had a run of 11 years, doing 1,730 shows. And Donny was still nice to some stranger on a Delta flight.

One of the other interesting things—and this is more of a new(ish) phenomenon—is that it has gone from a place where you could find lavish buffets for under ten bucks to a place where you’re going to pay dearly for a meal at a restaurant that is owned and possibly operated by a celebrity chef.

Among them are Wolfgang Puck, Guy Fieri, Gordon Ramsey, Bobby Flay, and Emeril Lagasse. To name but a few.

Which brings me to the Emeril Lagasse Power Air Fryer 360, the device you can buy for about $200 that allows you to bake, broil, toast, slow cook, air fry, and more.

Continue reading Of Residencies, Air Fryers & Gibson Guitars