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The Eagles coming to Orlando

2016 got off to a rough start. Exactly a week after David Bowie’s death was announced, one of the Eagles‘ co-founders Glenn Frey passed away of arthritis. After only a full band performance of Take It Easy in tribute to him on the Grammys that year, original frontman and drummer Don Henley claimed that the band would never play again. So as bassist Timothy B. Schmit went off the grid, guitarist Joe Walsh toured with Bad Company and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and Henley toured alone, it looked like the Eagles were indeed history.

But earlier this year, it was announced that they would reunite to headline Classic East and Classic West, two two-day stadium concerts held in New York and California with major names performing. Following the group headlining Steely Dan and The Doobie Brothers, the Eagles embarked on a four date tour across the eastern United States. Atlanta was involved, but of course, no Florida.

However, for the first time since 2015, the surviving members of the Eagles, along with Frey’s son Deacon, country legend Vince Gill, and special guests Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefers, will return to the Sunshine State. On April 14 2018, the legends will rock Orlando’s Camping World Stadium. Tickets go on sale December 2.

This clearly looking like an exciting year for Florida concert wise. With Billy Joel, Taylor Swift, and Alice Cooper all on the way to the Tampa area, it looks like we will, just like last year, be showered with legends.

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BREAKING: Jerry Lee Lewis coming to Florida Strawberry Festival

There aren’t many early and original rock legends still standing, let alone performing. With the deaths of rockabilly giants Fats Domino and Chuck Berry this year, that leaves only two. Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis are the only members of the first Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction still alive. Little Richard announced his retirement in 2013, but while he may not tour anymore, he now openly focuses on his religious faith, and is back on the anti-homosexual side, of which he’s gone back and forth over the years. The Killer on the other hand, does not play back to back dates on back to back tours anymore, but he still plays a few shows a year.

The Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On singer will headline during the Florida Strawberry Festival in Plant City. His date will be March 2, 2018 at 3:30pm. Tickets have not, to my knowledge, gone on sale yet, but will be priced at $30, plus admission to the festival. Lewis’ last time in Florida was six years ago in Naples, so even if you have to take a day off work, or leave early, now is the time to see the last of the rockabilly legends.

CONCERT REVIEW: Ringo Starr and the All-Starr Band bring peace and love to Atlanta

The closest you can get to “seeing The Beatles” these days is by going to see the last two standing members during their solo shows. This year was truly the Year Of The Beatles for me – – I saw Paul McCartney at Amalie in July, and I actually traveled out of state to see the other living Beatle.

Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band stopped in Florida this time around, but Fort Lauderdale in the middle of the week was not gonna happen, and his private, invitation only Clearwater show at Ruth Eckerd was also not gonna happen. So, I decided that just in case he (God forbid) retires to the ole’ octopus’ garden in the shade before he can come back, I would travel to Atlanta to see them at the Fox Theatre.

Around 8:10, the twelfth, and longest running, All-Starr Band (featuring prog legend Todd Rundgren, Mr. Mister’s Richard Page, Toto’s Steve Lukather, and Santana’s Gregg Rolie, just to name a few) got set up in front of the nearly sold out Atlanta crowd, without the boss present.

“Ladies and gentlemen…” one member began. “would you please welcome RINGO STARR AND HIS ALL-STARR BAND?!” Oh man, did they get welcomed.

As the the lights went up and the All-Starr Band, going on five years, ripped into the Carl Perkins penned Matchbox, which The Beatles gave their take on in 1964, the luckiest drummer in the world came jogging out to the roar of Atlanta. With his cherry red blazer on, Ringo spread “peace and love” across the theater with his trademark peace hand gestures.

“Yes, I know my name… there’s a girl waving” Ringo remarked two songs in. While trying to “tell a little story,” he kept on being interrupted for a solid minute by the audience. “Half my act is talking to the audience, that’s why I forget what I’m doing.” Finally, Ringo introduced “the only song we’ve ever written by Lennon, McCartney, and Starkey,What Goes On, off of The Beatles’ 1965 landmark Rubber Soul album, and that got the audience on their feet.

The four key members of the All-Starr Band were then introduced through their music. Rundgren’s first number of the night was his 1972 hit I Saw The Light, followed later on by Bang The Drum All Day (of which he actually banged on a little drum), and closer to the end, his band Utopia’s Love Is The Answer. Before his second was performed, the All-Starrs helped him jokingly effortlessly perform “a brand new song” that they “worked all afternoon on,” which was a ten second lick of his other solo hit, Hello It’s Me. “I swear, it sounded so much better in rehearsal.” Rundgren joked.

Next up was Gregg Rolie, who also got three songs, all by Santana. First up was Evil Ways originally written by Willie Bobo. Following later on throughout was an odyssey through Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen, and Tito Puente’s Oye como va, which was also a Santana cover. Rolie also played in Journey for a period in time, but no signs of them whatsoever were displayed.

Of course, you gotta have some mainstream in an All Starr Band show. Steve Lukather was there representing Toto with his touring saxophonist and backing vocalist Warren Ham. “This is a beautiful theater, it’s a beautiful place. Sold out? Alright!” Of course, Toto really had three hits that are easily recognizable, all of which were performed separately: The earworm Rosanna, the synthed-up Africa, and their 1978 debut single Hold The Line, all of which included three to four minute sax solos from Ham. “Alright, stand up. Here’s another one for you, everybody get on up!” Lukather ordered. And stand up we did, and danced, we did.

Next in line was the lead singer for Mr. Mister, the one and only Richard Page. Many people may not know him or his band by name, but I’m sure everyone has heard at least one of his three songs. Two of them – Kyrie and Broken Wings – were hits from his band that gave the show such an energetic vibe, there was no need for the audience to bolt the words out to him. There was also a slow dance Page song played, You Are Mine, described as “a song you may not know.” “These iconic musicians, amazing hit songs, something for everybody. I gotta say most importantly, it’s being onstage with…the legendary.”

Who was he pointing to? Touring drummer Gregg Bissonette? (man, Ringo must really like Greggs.) With all due respect to him, no. Of course, you can’t have a Ringo show without Ringo songs, both with The Beatles, and on his own.

Ten songs in, the drummer jogged over from the drums to a keyboard (Yes, a keyboard.) to rip into Don’t Pass Me By, off of The Beatles’ legendary White Album. “I’ve written lots of songs, but this is the first one.” he claimed. More Beatle hits kept on coming, including Yellow Submarine (“I don’t think I have to tell them about this song. Ya know, if they don’t know this song, they’re in the wrong venue.”), and the first Ringo voiced tune, Boys. He then began blending his songs in with the All-Starrs’, playing three of his most famous solo songs. First came You’re Sixteen, then Back Off Boogaloo, and of course, Photograph.

The night concluded with his other two voiced Beatle songs – 1965’s Act Naturally, and off of Sgt. Pepper, With A Little Help From My Friends, with a surprise guest on Ringo’s drums, Chris Fryar of The Zac Brown Band. “Zac! You made it!” Ringo pointed out towards the audience. “You gonna shave your beard? Ha ha ha, he’s not really there.”

After the legend ran offstage for a minute or two, the All-Starrs began playing the chorus part to Ringo’s fallen bandmate’s Give Peace A Chance, a fitting end to a Ringo show. As it played, he came jogging back out without a jacket of any kind, and just his sparkly black peace sign shirt to make more of his hand gestures. “Remember, peace and love, peace and love is the only way.” he reminded us on his way out.

Though he’s right either way, we could always use more in this world.

 One Long Month Later…

It has now been a month since we lost the frontman of my favorite American rock band.

When I learned that Tom Petty had gone into cardiac arrest, I was absolutely inconsolable. But I didn’t take it like losing a celebrity. I took it like losing a close friend or a family member. Being a member of the amazing Tom Petty Nation! on Facebook (which he was VERY aware of) helped me really get to know Tom. I originally joined a week before my only concert of his, just to find out what to expect as for merchandise, setlists, etc. Long story short, I decided not to leave. Moving on.

Though I never met him, Tom had a personality unlike any other. A breathtaking, but sometimes questionable, sense of storytelling and songwriting got me through some rough times in my life. His often times twisted sense of humor on his SiriusXM show made me see the best in him and really feel close to him. Though he most likely never knew of my personal existence, (unless he saw a photo of Tiny Tom) he knew that all of us were out there. He just loved his fans with a passion.

I hate to say it, but because of his chain smoking, I knew from the beginning that we would lose Tom in the not too distant future. However, never in a million years did I think that he would pass a week after wrapping up the biggest tour of his career.

Mike, Benmont, Ron, Scott, Steve.. Hard as it is, I really hope you keep your fearless leader’s music alive for the rest of time. While we don’t know for sure what the future holds for The Heartbreakers, nobody is pushing anything right now. I’m still numb from this loss myself. Everybody needs to take their time. Whether your favorite song is Free Fallin’ or Crawling Back To You, whether you’re a fan or a Heartbreaker, we’re all in this together.

– Josh Dezern, 11/2/2017

CONCERT REVIEW: Roger Daltrey kicks off five date tour in Clearwater

Roger Daltrey kicking off his mini tour at Ruth Eckerd Hall.
Roger Daltrey kicking off his mini tour at Ruth Eckerd Hall.
Guitarist Simon Townshend, brother of Pete, playing and singing
Legendary lead singer of The Who Roger Daltrey kicks off A Quick One While Pete’s Away in Clearwater.
Singer-songwriter Leslie Mendelson opened for Roger Daltrey on Monday night.

You know those tours that some legendary artists do when they play really intimate venues, and dig really deep into their careers? Springsteen is doing it without the obscure songs, and Weird Al is about to do it next year. But now, it’s Roger Daltrey’s turn.

If you’re not crazy for British rock legends The Who, but enjoy them for their hits, this was not really the show that would be up your alley.

The A Quick One While Pete’s Away mini tour was announced back in August, and features only Who lead singer Roger Daltrey and members of The Who’s backing tour band, including Pete Townshend’s younger brother, Simon on guitar. There are only five dates on this so-called “tour:” Three in Florida, and two in Niagra Falls.

Around 7:30, a somewhat newcomer to the music world, Grammy nominee Leslie Mendelson, opened with selections from her 5+ year career and her new album, Love & Murder. One of these songs were created with help from The Grateful Dead’s own Bob Weir. Really.

“Roger and I go way back. Well, we actually do.” Mendelson bragged halfway through. She once played Baba O’Riley with The Who during a benefit gig for charity. “I was tossed a harmonica, and I said ‘But I don’t play it.’ And they said ‘Well, you do now.'”

“The New York weather is following me around!” she earlier joked while acting surprised about how Florida’s weather has suddenly become cooler. Following her 35 minute set with guitarist Eric Kimock, a brief intermission occurred, as she made her way near the Ruth Eckerd lobby to where two Daltrey shirts were being sold to sell and sign CD copies of Love and Murder. Fans were immensely impressed at this new talent, but at 8:21, the lights went down for the real deal. The Pinball Wizard and company walked out to Clearwater for the first time in eight years.

Following a few jokes of how forgettable the night may be if he forgot the words, the band ripped into the overture from The Who’s legendary 1969 rock opera, Tommy. Immediately following was their smash hit, Pinball Wizard, also off of Tommy.

As the songs kept dropping, they got more and more obscure. 1981’s Another Tricky Day was dedicated to Donald Trump. “Nothing to do with me, but I’m sure he’ll relate to this song.” There were also some songs that were obscure enough to have never been played in front of a live audience, be it Who, Townshend, or Daltrey. Athena off of 1982’s It’s Hard, the second most recent Who studio album, hasn’t been played since the tour to promote that album.

But the biggest surprise was the debut, the literal live debut, of The Who’s 1975 album track, How Many Friends, which has never in written history been performed live by the band. “Way back when we recorded this in 1975, you even wondered, and I doubt many of us can, count on our friends.” Daltrey recalled. “I knew people with…millions of friends.”

Just about every song had the audience give at least a standing ovation, from the doo-wop style Daltrey earworm Days Of Light, to the song to thank us fans for being fans (Without Your Love), to the electrifying Baba O’Riley. The latter had every member of the audience frenetically howling out the words, as you would likely expect – – After all, it was The Who’s biggest 1970s hit. (with the possible exception of Who Are You, which was also performed to a standing crowd.)

Two songs from The Who’s 1971 live album, Live At Leeds were performed. Young Man Blues and Summertime Blues have faded away into obscurity compared to the other tracks on that album, but you know what? Nobody seemed to care.

The night ended with Roger and keyboardist Loren Gold playing Heading Home, a brand new song from a “forthcoming album.” Needless to say, it’s never been played anywhere else before, at any time.

Daltrey is very openly involved in the Teenage Cancer Trust charity, which helps out teenagers with cancer. “At least, before they turn eighteen, and get moved in with old farts like me.” Daltrey pointed out. He praised the Tampa Bay area for having three hospitals working together to fight teenage cancer, including Moffitt.

And just keep that in mind. The next time you buy something related to The Who, be it a ticket, a licensed shirt, or Roger’s album when it releases, there’s a good chance that at least a portion of your sale will go to the trust.

Frankly, they deserve it.

Why Go To Epcot This Time Of Year?

Ah, Disney. The happiest place on Earth. Where you can take your kids to do nothing but ride rides, see an occasional (VERY occasional) show, and eat a burger and apple slices for $10.
Not this time of year.

Since 1995, Epcot has held the annual Food And Wine Festival, a fall event with kiosks around the world showcase. Each kiosk is labeled by country, and will serve small portions of three or four meals from that country. They also have celebrity chefs, special events, and concerts that you can attend for free.

The Food

A sausage wrapped scotch egg. Yes sir.
A limited time offer “glownut” from the new Light Lab.
A chocolate picante. (spicy chocolate) This is your excuse to come to the festival.

Food being served during this festival are not but limited to innovative and amazing. Some of the meals being served belong to a certain country, while others belong to themed cuisine. Not all of it is necessarily American, but regardless of its nationality, this is not a year to be forgotten.

With Epcot’s brand new Light Lab, which made its debut this year, you can order alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, including vanilla tonic water and cotton candy, all under blue lights. There is also, for a limited time, the Glownut, which is, you guessed it, a donut that glows in the lab.

I think the highlights of this whole festival, however, was the Sausage Wrapped Scotch Eggs, (you heard me) and the Chocolate Picante, which is literally spicy dark chocolate mousse.

The Music

Bassist of Toad The Wet Sprocket Dean Dinning.
Lead guitarist of Toad The Wet Sprocket Todd Nichols, who builds most of his guitars.
Lead singer of Toad The Wet Sprocket Glen Phillips

Epcot has its famed World Showcase with pavilions of various countries worldwide. One of them just so happens to be the United States, which involves a mini amphitheater. Usually, the American Music Machine, which is literally Disney’s edition of Pentatonix, comes out to do a show on the stage. But not always.

Since the 90s, the theater has had 35 minute long free concerts of many big names (to an extent) during their festivals. 9.9 times out of 10, you won’t see any Hall Of Famers, and if you do, they will more times than not, be on an Art Garfunkel level there. However, Little Richard (one of the few Hall of Famers to play), Simple Plan, Howard Jones, and a Monkees reunion featuring Micky Dolenz and the late Davy Jones (who was a regular at Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival) in 2011 have been on the stage at one point or another. Then there are regulars who have been coming to the festivals since the beginning, such as Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone, Dennis DeYoung of Styx, and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. 

But last year, they added some new acts. One of them was alternative 90s rock band, Toad The Wet Sprocket.

The All I Want performers have been on the road all year, and rocked Clearwater’s Capitol Theatre on Thursday night. “I can’t wait to get outta here so I can go ride Pirates of the Caribbean again, make up some lost time.” frontman Glen Phillips joked during their third set Saturday night.

The group flew right through six or seven hits per set, as their time was limited. But the entire lineup wasn’t present. Randy Guss, their longtime drummer, has been home with a few cracked ribs for awhile. Due to this, Josh Daubin from Beta Play, one of Toad’s many opening acts, is filling in for him this tour. 

The third and final set did not involve the “grand fireworks finale” that Phillips promised, but it did feature the recent Architect Of The Ruin, and their hit Walk On The Ocean to cap it off.

Celebrity Chefs


I’ve met Restaurant: Impossible‘s Robert Irvine twice now, thanks to this festival. Nuff said.

Billy Joel coming to Tampa

Source: http://www.tbo.com/events-tampa-bay/billy-joel-takes-requests-from-packed-house-at-amalie-arena-20160122/
Billy Joel on his last stop in Tampa in 2016.

Billy Joel is one of the most prolific, talented, and iconic artists of all time, and there’s nothing that you can do about that. Even though I’m (sadly) biased, in my book, either you love his music, or you’ve never heard it. But in spite of that, Florida is spoiled rotten by his live music. He’s been on the Billy Joel In Concert Tour since early 2014, where the first three stops were arenas and stadiums in Sunrise, Tampa, and Jacksonville, all cities in Florida. Since then, Billy has stopped in Miami‘s American Airlines Center in 2015, Tampa’s Amalie Arena in 2016, and Orlando‘s Amway Center in 2017. Additionally, since December 2014, the Piano Man has rung in the New Year annually in Orlando and Sunrise.

I saw Billy in Tampa in 2016, and of all the class acts I’ve been to, this one could not be topped by anything. Because it was his first show since the deaths of David Bowie and Eagles co-founder Glenn Frey, he played tributes to them both: A snippet of Rebel, Rebel, and then Desperado without his backing band, and Take It Easy during the long pause in The River Of Dreams. But now, after what seems like ten years, he’s coming back, two years later.

Billy Joel will be playing Amalie Arena in Tampa on February 9, 2018 for the third time in 4 years. Tickets go on sale on TicketMaster.com October 27, starting at $49.50. If you’ve never seen Billy, please go. I can assure you that you will have the best night ever. And also bear in mind that Billy reserves the front row seats for the real fans who get the cheap seats. So if you’re a risk taker, (and a hot chick) maybe you can try your luck and buy a nosebleed seat.

CONCERT REVIEW: Jon Anderson’s Yes show no signs of perpetual change in Clearwater

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It was only last year – – This past Saturday to be exact – – when prog legends Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, and Rick Wakeman brought Yes music to Clearwater. But this was Yes like you’ve never heard before. Steve Howe and Alan White were not present in any way. It was the three mentioned, along with Louis Molino III on drums, and from Jeff Lynne’s ELO’s backing band, lefty Lee Pomeroy on bass.

In April, rather than new music, the second US leg of their tour was announced, where they wanted to hit some towns they didn’t play last time around. But they must have loved Clearwater’s energy so much, they came back. Oh, and not to mention like, three other dates in Florida. (in order, Melbourne, Clearwater, West Palm Beach, and Miami)

Like last year, the show’s beginning at precisely 8:10 alerted us with a symphonic rendition of the main riff of Perpetual Change. Following the backing members, Rabin in his black t-shirt, and Wakeman in his wizard cape (because why the hell not?) walked out from opposite sides and hugged to the roar of the audience. The four ripped right into 90125‘s Cinema, and the night began.

In the middle of the song, Jon Anderson came fluttering out, completing the lineup. As he hopped onto his platform so he could reach the microphone, the opening riff of Perpetual Change could be heard.

Many changes were made from last year’s setlist to improve, or deteriorate, the fans’ wants. I’ve Seen All Good People replaced with the Fragile album track, South Side Of The Sky, and off their massive 1991 reunion album Union, Lift Me Up replaced with another Rabin-era song, Changes. Really, the only major blow was the removal of The Meeting, an Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe song, which was replaced with I Am Waiting, off of 1994’s Talk.

But who’s anybody to complain? Anderson bolted out the 12 songs played in two hours, Rabin shredded out a solo running roughly four minutes near the end of Hold On, and Wakeman pounded out an organ solo just as long in the middle of their 20 minute 1977 epic, Awaken. And you can’t forget about the backing members either. Pomeroy got a number of bass solos, some of which could convince you that original Yes bassist, the late Chris Squire was present. Molino smashed out hits with an energy that greatly differed from what original drummer Bill Bruford or current drummer of Steve Howe’s Yes, Alan White had.

But the part of the show that was perhaps most unexpected was the jam session at the end of their main set. Following the end of their smash hit Owner Of A Lonely Heart, all five of the guys began to play solos, change key, and even stop to listen to the backing members. When both guys finished, they received a “thumbs up” of approval from Rabin. Last time around, Rabin and Wakeman simply walked off stage and into the first five or six rows of the audience. But hearing Yes simply jam out, and do a brief cover of Sunshine Of Your Loveby supergroup Cream was better for a fan who just came for the music.

Anybody can run up and touch Rick Wakeman’s glittery cape, but not many get to hear Yes cover Cream.

“Some of these songs were written 42, 3 years ago,” Anderson stated following the end of South Side Of The Sky. “That’s before most of you were born!” Most of the fans in the house were either in their 30s and had grown up in the Rabin era, or in their 40s, 50s, even 60s, who got to know Yes during, or perhaps before, Wakeman’s time. There was also not a soul who grew up with Anderson’s replacements, Benoît David or Jon Davison.

The show wrapped up with an encore of Roundabout, which excluded Squire’s bass solo. It had just about everybody in the nearly sold out house on their feet, singing and clapping along to the kings of prog. Will the guys tour together again? It’s very likely – – With new music on the way, a Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction earlier this year, and a name change to Yes feat. ARW, (as oppose to simply ARW last year) perhaps this won’t be the end of the road.

And even if it is, there’s always Howe and White.

Clearwater classic rock fans, get ready to have a hole in your wallet

Alice Cooper’s last Clearwater show was in August of last year
Foreigner rocking the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheater on August 2.
 

Brought down about the cancellation of the Scorpions and Megadeth concert on Sunday? Well, here’s some good news. Another hard rock/heavy metal legend will be in the Bay area on his 2018 tour, and he just released a new album a few months ago.

Alice Cooper will give Ruth Eckerd Hall “a paranormal evening” on March 23, 2018. Tickets go on sale Friday at 10am on rutheckerdhall.com, and will start at $48.75. Or, perhaps you’re a big enough fan to pay $743.75 for the “front row insanity package,” which includes a post show meet and greet. Insanity indeed.

But that’s not all.

Only a few days before that, on March 18, Foreigner will also rock Ruth Eckerd with a Rock Symphony Orchestra. Tickets for that go on sale at a currently unknown time and date, as Ruth Eckerd has not officially announced the show yet, but it appeared in their 2017-18 season guide released today. However, when tickets go on sale, prices will start at $53.25. It seems like a lot, but if this show is anything like the breathtaking 40th Anniversary Tour stop in Tampa back in August, it will be worth every penny.

The Moody Blues coming to Clearwater

When it comes to prog rock, it’s been a good year for Florida. We’ve gotten Steve Howe’s version of Yes in February, Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters in July, and next week we will get Yes featuring Anderson, Rabin, & Wakeman. But another prog group released a legendary album that turned 50 this year. They embarked on a tour promoting its birthday, but went no further southeast than Georgia. But they have added another leg.

The Moody Blues, along with “a Rock Symphony Orchestra,” will play the entire Days Of Future Passed album at Ruth Eckerd Hall on January 13. Tickets go on sale this weekend, and start at $68.75. Though The Moody Blues are down to three original members, now’s your chance to see them. After what happened this week in the music world, I think it’s safe to say that we should go to any older musician/band’s concert that comes to town that we love. Who knows? This could be the last time The Blues ever tour.