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CONCERT REVIEW: Foreigner, Cheap Trick, and Jason Bonham celebrate different events

Unless it’s one that loves it, there’s usually a reason behind why a band, or two, or three, will go out on tour. This year, Paul McCartney and Billy Joel don’t have a reason – – They’re touring just because they love it. But then, there are some that have a reason. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are celebrating forty years this year. So is Foreigner, who decided to bring an all-American band that was around at the same time as them.

Cheap Trick.

About a handful of 70s arena rock bands that are still together have all, or most of their original members, Cheap Trick being one of them. On the other hand, groups like Journey, Asia, and Chicago are still rocking, but most of their original members are gone. Foreigner is one of those groups, but in my mind, Foreigner is one of those few groups that whether or not you’re a fan of them, you’ll do whatever it takes to see them live. Lou Gramm may not be with them anymore, but Kelly Hansen takes his place better than most second front men in rock do, or have.

Jason Bonham, son of the late Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, is also tagging along, and as you can probably imagine, he’s just celebrating Led Zeppelin in general with his Led Zeppelin Experience. Zeppelin’s formation will be turning 50 in two years, so maybe Jason Bonham will be on the road with some other people then. They were up first on the stage at, as the ticket stub promised, 7:00 sharp. Lead vocalist James Dylan and Bonzo Jr. took Tampa on an electric ride through ten of Led Zeppelin’s greatest hits, (Whole Lotta Love, Over The Hills And Far Away) somehow excluding the sing-along Stairway To Heaven. “We’ll be back here in Tampa sometime later this year,” Bonham announced at the end of his set. The LZE will not return to Florida this year as of now, but Bonham himself will be playing drums with former Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony, and Vic Johnson in VH singer Sammy Hagar‘s supergroup, The Circle in Coachman Park on September 17.

At 8:00, “the best f*cking rock band you’ve ever seen, Cheap Trick,” was introduced to Tampa, and the Amphitheatre for the second time in two years. Their last show in Tampa was last September when they opened for Heart and Joan Jett & The Blackhearts on the Rock Hall Three For All tour. The Hall Of Famers opened their set with their trademark intro song, Hello There, followed by a cover of Day Tripper by The Beatles. Robin Zander, wearing all white, as usual, wailed out the hits created with original guitarist Rick Nielsen (California Man, The Flame, Dream Police, to which Robin literally fell onto his knees for near the end) and also some tracks from their new album We’re All Alright!, which released in June. The set came to what seemed like a premature end when Zander brought out his daughter Robin-Sailor, and some friends of hers, to wrap up the show with the iconic Surrender.

The clock struck 9:27, and literally everyone not seated began rushing back to their seats. The theater was loud, yet unenergetic during the first two bands. Now, it was time for the real deal. The black curtains fell and revealed the modern incarnation of Foreigner, along with guitarist Mick Jones, the only remaining original member of the group. “I’m not sure if all of you aware of this, but this year is Foreigner’s 40th anniversary.” frontman Kelly Hansen bragged, to which the roar of the crowd was the received response. The entire set was nothing but wall-to-wall hits, (Cold As Ice, Feels Like The First Time, Urgent) with Hansen strutting around in white tights, giving a Steven Tyler sort of vibe to the show itself.

 

Original guitarist Mick Jones with special guest, original drummer Dennis Elliott.

And if you were wondering, yes: Juke Box Hero was performed at the end of the main set, and it was truly epic.

Hansen left the stage during the intro, and a minute later, appeared out of nowhere on a rising pole in the crowd, singing the first verse of the rock classic. Except they didn’t just rip through it. At what would be the 4:18 mark of the original 4:18 album version of the song, the first verse was just concluded. Juke Box Hero was not just a performance like the other songs that night – – it was a complete rock and roll odyssey. But they were just getting us warmed up for what was to come.

An encore of the 80s smash hit I Want To Know What Love Is was given along with Tampa’s Blake High School choir, and once the eight-minute rendition of the song had come to an end, the crowd was pretty confident that it was over. That Foreigner had brought 40 years of rock and roll to Tampa, but frankly, I really feel bad for whoever left early. “Is there anything you wanna say to ’em, Mick? Maybe any special friends you wanna bring on out?”

Who else walks out but original drummer Dennis Elliott?

Denny got up to current drummer Chris Frazier‘s kit and smashed out the beats of Long Way From Home, and of course, Foreigner’s other signature song, Hot Blooded. As unexpectedly mind-blowing this was, it wasn’t the first reunion this tour. Last month in New York, Mick Jones brought up Lou Gramm, along with original members Ian McDonald and Al Greenwood for the first time since 1979.

I’m pretty confident in saying that everybody went home either happy or drunk. But hey, whether you felt like the flame, or needed cooling, or were as cold as ice that night, Foreigner proved that even without Lou Gramm, they still bring stars to people’s eyes, jukebox hero or not.

A future show I will be reviewing

Greetings to you, if you keep up with my blog.

For the past few months, I’ve been reviewing some big name classic rock shows in the area of Tampa, Florida. But another big name act that I feel I must review will not be stopping in my town on this tour for any public shows. While it’s not likely that he’s going to retire anytime soon, I don’t want to dodge a chance to see the other living, breathing Beatle. I am pleased to announce that on November 11, I will be heading to Atlanta to see Ringo Starr and the All-Starr Band, and I will release a review of the show the following day.

I am pleased to announce that on November 11, I will be heading to Atlanta to see Ringo Starr and the All-Starr Band, and I will release a review of the show the following day. The All-Starr Band features musicians who played with big name bands throughout the years. Gregg Rolie from Journey, Steve Lukather from Toto, and progressive rock legend Todd Rundgren are the headlining members of the twelfth incarnation of Ringo’s band.

I look forward to continuing writing reviews for you. Some upcoming ones will be Foreigner/Cheap Trick/Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience at the Amphitheater, Yes feat. ARW at Ruth Eckerd, and possibly Ed Sheeran at Amalie.

See you on the road.

– Josh Dezern

 

Ringo Starr and the All-Starr Band coming to Clearwater, but not the way you think.

Photo source: http://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/images/ringo-starr-3.jpgThis week, Sir Paul McCartney made his long awaited stop in Tampa for the first time in 12 years. But the other living Beatle is also headed for the Sunshine State.

Ringo Starr and the All-Starr Band will already be making a stop in Florida this tour, just in Ft. Lauderdale for two nights at the Parker Playhouse. But sometime before or after those shows, he will play Clearwater. But it won’t be a ticketed performance. Ruth Eckerd Hall has a very exclusive “Friends Of Music” club that you must be invited to pay to get in, and only special people who have paid roughly $5,000+ get full access to exclusively private concerts by big name artists that do not take place at Ruth Eckerd Hall. Artists through the years have included Hall & Oates, Foreigner, Styx, and Toby Keith.

Ringo’s last time in Clearwater was in October of 2014 with his beloved All-Starr Band. It probably won’t happen, but in the meantime, here’s hoping that the performance will be made public. If not, maybe Ringo will drop by Tampa for at least one more public show before retiring to his octopus’s garden.

Peace and love.

Art Garfunkel is coming to Clearwater

Photo source: https://media.npr.org/assets/img/2012/08/31/gettyimages_98654373_wide-a34e34b16a9776a652782f8f94736fcec4c36dad.jpg?s=1400
Art Garfunkel performs at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in 2010.

Sure, every fan of folk rock wishes that Simon and Garfunkel would set aside their differences, and reunite for at least one more tour. But the best we can get to that is by seeing them as solo artists. I saw Paul Simon about a month ago, and I personally think that the only performer that can top that show is Billy Joel. But a lot of people forget that the other half of the world’s biggest folk rock duo is also still active. Though it’s been ten years since Art Garfunkel released a studio album, he still tours small venues around the globe consistently. However, he almost lost that ability in 2010, when he was robbed of his honey voice. He claims that he’s been getting it back slowly but surely, and it sounds like he is. It’s not 100%, but Artie likes to take his voice to the limit at his shows by trying to hit some of the higher notes during Bridge Over Troubled Water.

He’s already been to Florida this year, but like his former partner, he played some shows away from Tampa. Audiences in Fort Pierce, Homestead, and Key West were given “an intimate evening” of nostalgia.

But now, he’s back in Tampa.

Art Garfunkel will play Clearwater’s historic Capitol Theatre on Saturday, January 13. Tickets go on sale Saturday at 10:00 EA, and will range from $49.50 – $105. He played the same exact venue in 2014 to a sold-out crowd. Also, if you’re enough of a fan of him, Garfunkel is also embarking on a book tour to promote his new memoir, What Is It All But Luminous, and will be making a stop to talk at Miami Dade College on October 15. Vouchers are required to get in, but one is good for two people, and cost $29.91.

CONCERT REVIEW: Paul McCartney goes “one on one” with Tampa

 

Where were you on September 17, 2005? Maybe you were a teenager, child, or toddler. Maybe you didn’t live in Tampa. Hell, maybe you weren’t even born yet. But some special people were at Amalie Arena, then known as the St. Pete Times Forum, seeing Sir Paul McCartney, a quarter of the biggest band of all time, live. It was only his third time in Tampa. Until his 1990 stop at the old Tampa Stadium, his only time in Florida for a ticketed performance was in Jacksonville with The Beatles in 1964.

But now, things are different.

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Paul McCartney playing away on one of his two pianos onstage at Amalie Arena.

In April, the people over at Amalie Arena made the groundbreaking announcement that Sir Paul was going to stop there on his “One on One” tour. Presale began on TicketMaster the day following the announcement, and when the day came that they actually went on sale, they were insanely close to being sold out. Those that had seats that were behind the stage were probably feeling incredibly lucky because we all knew that if we didn’t have a ticket already, we’d have to be dedicated to Macca enough to buy an overpriced nosebleed seat on StubHub, and then face the fact that there would be a slight chance that you wouldn’t get in, considering all the asshole users on there.

Usually, Paul’s fans wait outside the stage door area for his black SUV to pull in, and maybe to be waved at. Tampa fans were totally in on this, but not many people saw him wave in the end, because it rained so hard, my jeans were still moist by the time I left the venue that night. Us fans were sheltered underneath the hood of an alternative entrance after he arrived, just waiting to get inside and out of the rain.

The doors opened at 6:30, food and merchandise stands opened, and at 8:38, the blue lights went out, and Macca took the stage in a white button down and blue blazer. The show opened with A Hard Day’s Night, a song that he hasn’t played on tour since The Beatles’ 1965 tour.

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Paul McCartney told stories of his career, and cracked jokes with Tampa on Monday night.

Every element of the show, from the 39 song set list to the psychedelic laser show during Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite!, made the tickets worth purchasing in every way. Paul took Tampa on a one on one ride through his 60+ year career, going as far back as The Quarrymen, which was the band that would evolve into The Beatles. He also played music as recent as the first few verses from his 2015 collaboration with rapper Kanye West and singer Rihanna, FourFiveSeconds.

Paul told stories of all kinds, from the time he saw Jimi Hendrix open a show with Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band two days following its release, when he was told by the Russian Defense Minister how his records helped him learn English, and to when he fell in a hole onstage during his last visit to Tampa. “I’m lucky to be here tonight.” he remarked. He often spoke between songs about what inspired them to be written, and at least a quarter of them were Lennon-McCartney songs. He dedicated songs like Love Me Do to the late Beatles producer George Martin, and Maybe I’m Amazed to his first wife, Linda.

But the two major dedications he made were to the two fallen Beatles, John Lennon and George Harrison.

Paul dedicated his 1982 album track, Here Today to Lennon, following a twenty-six second applause, after Paul demanded to “hear it for John.” The song was written shortly following his 1980 death in New York City, and was written as “like, a conversation we never had, where I could tell him things I couldn’t tell him.” A lot could have been gotten out of the entire show, but he concluded that segment with a really good life lesson:

“If you want to tell someone something, tell them now.”

Later on in the show, Paul was handed a ukulele, and began a relatively upbeat rendition of the George Harrison penned Beatles track, Something. But out of nowhere, once the first three verses were complete, the entire backing band broke in and finished the song off the way it originally sounded, with a slideshow of photos of primarily Harrison scrolling by.

Following his main set ending with Live and Let Die, which involved about four explosions and some fireworks, and Hey Jude, which surprisingly did not start much of a sea of cellphone flashlights, Paul brought up two fans to the stage: A mother in Paul’s Sgt. Pepper outfit, and her son, sporting a black shirt with the Beatles logo on it. They, by Paul’s request, danced onstage together to Get Back. “Speaking of getting back, we’ve gotta go home!” he concluded, to which boos and moans were his response. His band ripped into the medley you hear at the end of the Abbey Road album, which involved Golden Slumbers, Carry That Weight, and The End. “And hey, we’ll see you next time!” were his final remarks to Tampa.

Many people probably doubted that, but from the good spirits Paul was in, and the way he sang and played, there just may be a next time. But hopefully not with a twelve year gap in between.

5 Concerts You Must Go To Before You (Or They) Die

Most everyone has been to a concert, whether it was The Beatles, Taylor Swift, U2, Beyonce, Soundgarden – Well, you get the gist of it. But there are certain ones that I have been to that have absolutely changed my life in one way or another. So I’ll be counting down the top 5 concerts you must see before the band breaks up, the artist dies, or you die. And just know that I will be ruling out modern artists, and Weird Al.

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5) Paul McCartney

Though his voice is not what it used to be, the former Beatle’s musicianship has not left him. Paul McCartney has toured with two other groups in his 60+ year career, and even so, the people of the world are still ecstatic to see him without Ringo Starr, the only other surviving Beatle, or Denny Laine, former guitarist of Wings.

McCartney’s dazzling stage includes not one, but two jumbo screens. And they are pretty damn jumbo, too. If you’re sitting all the way in the back, McCartney in person will likely look like an ant from your point of view. But with the two vertical screens zooming in on him on either side of the stage, his face up-close will be at least mostly visible. He plays for almost three hours a night, filling his setlist with songs that span his entire career, including selections from his latest record New, songs from his days as the frontman of Wings, and even one of the first songs he ever wrote with the late John Lennon as The Quarrymen, In Spite Of All The Danger. Then, of course, he rips through most of the McCartney voiced Beatle songs you would expect to hear – – Blackbird, Hey Jude, Let It Be, and A Hard Day’s Night (which is part of his current tour’s setlist for the first time since when he was touring with The Beatles in 1965) just to name a few.

Normally when a performer blabs in between songs, it really pisses me off. But McCartney on the other hand, tells stories every few songs that are worth hearing. And they’re very different from one another, from when Jimi Hendrix opened a show with a newly released Beatles song, to when Paul met the Russian Defense Minister for the first time.

I haven’t seen Ringo Starr and his All-Starr Band yet, but even so, no one can compare him to McCartney, even if they were both members of the biggest band of all time.

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4) Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

Tom Petty has always been the laid back one of the music world, in spite of his wild side with cocaine and chain smoking. But the Florida-born Free Fallin’ composer embarked on his 40th anniversary tour with his longtime band, The Heartbreakers. Firstly, some of Petty’s opening acts over the years have been outrageously big names – Chuck Berry, Pearl Jam, Stevie Nicks, and The Allman Brothers just to name a few. And this year’s tour has primarily had former Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh, and most recently, country musician Chris Stapleton opening. When Tom and his band get onstage, he treats the audience like they’re guests in his living room that he can be himself around. On his stop in Tampa, he even turned around after a song to take a smoke. But regardless, Tom is very open to “feelin’ the mojo in the room,” and making sure that his audience has the time of their lives every night.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES3) Yes feat. Anderson, Rabin and Wakeman

Last year, Yes fans finally got the reunion they wanted. For what seemed like an eternity, the only Yes that we knew still toured only featured three early/original members: Guitarist Steve Howe, drummer Alan White, and until his 2015 passing, original bassist Chris Squire. But now, another incarnation of Yes is out there: Original lead singer Jon Anderson, lead guitarist of the 90125-era Trevor Rabin, and keyboardist Rick Wakeman have come together for the first time since the Union album, and are currently working on many projects. Their first tour together was billed as simply ARW: An Evening of Yes Music and More, and was a wild success, especially in the US, the UK, and Japan. Anderson’s soprano voice has not deteriorated in the slightest bit, as haven’t Rabin and Wakeman’s instrumentation. They also had two backing band members: On drums, Louis Molino III, and on bass, Lee Pomeroy, who imitates Chris Squire’s sound so perfectly, you think that Squire may as well be there.

Their lighting is very different as well – They have a massive prop piece directly behind them, where lights, and even special effects, are projected throughout the show. Anderson tells very brief stories in between few songs about how, where, and when the songs they play were written. If you don’t like when artists blab in between songs, don’t be skeptical at all, as he only does so about three or four times total. They play songs from both eras of Yes: the progressive one with Wakeman present, and the rock/pop one with Rabin present. Anderson was, needless to say, involved in both, so he knows exactly what he’s doing the whole night.

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2. Paul Simon

Paul Simon is one of those artists that you’ll likely just be honored to be in the vicinities of. His songs are legendary, he’s a twice Rock and Roll Hall Of Famer, and he has won the Grammy for Album Of The Year thrice within seventeen years, the first time alongside his former partner Art Garfunkel. But at his live shows? You think he sounds good on his albums.

His backing band is about the size of Brian Wilson’s – about 10 musicians, one of which, Bakithi Kumalo played on the original Graceland album in 1986. Usually, a large backing band can mean another add-on to an artist’s ego. But in terms of Paul Simon, these guys are just making every song sound precisely the way it did on the original album it was on. Now as for the man himself, at 75 years old, Simon still sounds as fresh as he did in the 70s and 80s. The only sign of age is when his voice quivers ever so rarely. Paul tells (and often entertains) his audience stories of his career, his travels, and of a lady who once asked him to play a song he didn’t write, and to his knowledge, doesn’t exist as a song.

Generally, Paul plays small venues rather than stadiums or hockey arenas, and typically in a small venue, the ushers and often times even the artist will do whatever it takes to make sure that you follow the venue’s rules that nobody plans to follow, such as staying seated throughout the entire show and not taking photos of any kind. But Paul sums up how it should be very simply: “If you wanna stand up and dance, that’s cool with me. Just think about the guy sitting behind you.

                 

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I’ve only seen him once so far, in Tampa. This was the best shot I could get, as I left my camera at home on accident that night.

1) Billy Joel

Billy Joel has one of the most astounding, yet somewhat shortest, songbooks in American history. Sadly, I’m biased, but in my book, you either love him or don’t know who he is. While his music can crush your depression, seeing him in concert is even more uplifting.

For one thing, audience etiquette is very important to some artists. I’ve heard Brian Wilson tell people to “please be seated” after dancing to a song from Pet Sounds, and I’ve also heard about Art Garfunkel raiding somebody on the spot for having her phone out to take a photo. The Piano Man on the other hand just does not care. There could be people smoking pot and having sex right there in the front row, and all he’d do is do him. He doesn’t care about cameras, recording devices, and all the rules that the venue provides for the sake of the artist. Sure, he believes in people having a good time, and a big part of this makes him the greatest.

If you haven’t heard by now, when tickets go on sale for a new show, all the tickets in the first few rows are not listed. Why? The day of the show, Billy sends his road crew to the very back of the venue to offer folks with nosebleed seats some front row seats. He wants nothing but to see the real fans who can’t afford floor seats, rather than the “gold chainers,” as he calls them.

He often jokes with the audience, and pokes fun at other artists, an example being when he plays a few bars of Your Song by Elton John, and stopping at the point of which the lyric is “I don’t have much money.” Billy calls bullshit, and the audience laughs along. His interaction with the audience in general really goes to show that while Billy, needless to say, wants the money from the tickets, he gives 20,000 people the best show they’ll ever see. He gives them “fielder’s choices” at least once a night, in which they choose a song for him to play, and he’ll play the chosen song, based on the applause and cheering volume. For example, he often throws out two songs from his The Stranger album, having the audience select either Just The Way You Are or Vienna. Surprisingly enough, they always choose Vienna.

The stage equipment and his backing band are also key items to his shows. While his boss plays, guitarist Michael Delguidice often takes the mic to sing the operatic Nessun dorma, and closer to the end of the show, he’ll sing, and play, a song or two by Led Zeppelin. Now, regarding the stage equipment? The light shows are breathtaking, and while they do not involve lasers to my knowledge, every song has different colors, patterns, and in some songs, the lights blink to the rhythm of the song. For example, during Movin’ Out, the lights blink repeatedly as Billy sings about how working too hard can give you a heart “attack-ack-ack-ack-ack-ack.” Finally, if you get bogus seats and are worried that you’ll only be seeing the back of Billy the whole night, not to fear. His piano sits on a rotating circular platform the whole night, and it spins into a different direction every other song or so. It’s like a slow-going human sized Lazy Susan.

The only advice I leave you for one of Billy’s shows is as follows: Do NOT, under any circumstance besides getting lucky at the last minute in the box office, get tickets behind the stage. They are available for purchase, but you could get really unlucky, and only see half of Billy Joel the whole night. But if you take a chance and buy cheap front-of-the-stage seats, you just might get lucky and see the Piano Man up front.

CONCERT REVIEW: DanTDM strums and games for Clearwater

A YouTube star on tour? On a real-life stage? Get outta town.

Clearwater’s Ruth Eckerd Hall has been hosting acts from YouTube stars since Dan and Phil brought “The Amazing Tour Is Not On Fire” to Clearwater last year. It was a sold out show that had the energy of a Beatles concert at the height of Beatlemania. Just about every teenage girl in the Tampa Bay area was there. But what if there was a YouTube act that the younger kids could enjoy? Specifically the gamer kids?

Enter DanTDM.

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DanTDM played his acoustic guitar at Ruth Eckerd Hall
British gamer Dan Middleton (aka The Diamond Minecart) has been a YouTube sensation since he first created the “The Diamond Minecart” YouTube channel in 2012. Since then, he has accomplished over 10 billion views and over 15 million subscribers, mainly consisting of kids ages 5-13. Dan is currently on the second leg of his first ever US tour, and he decided to stop in Florida for four shows, two of which were in Orlando.

Clearwater was his final Florida stop. I only attended because my younger brother is a huge fan. I, personally, prefer live shows from longtime musicians and bands, but you know what? Almost all of the non-fans in the venue underestimated Dan’s showmanship skills.

Starting ten minutes before showtime, just about every kid in the venue chanted “We want Dan!” from 10 minutes before the show began, to when Dan actually ran down the right side aisle of Ruth Eckerd Hall to greet the sold out crowd of kids ages 5-14, many of them having dyed their hair blue to imitate their hero. After a brief intro from Dan, the story began: An “Evil Dan” kidnaps Dan’s beloved pet pug Ellie, and it’s up to him and his science – – and cellphone – – crazed friend, Eve, to get through Evil Dan’s challenge to get his pug back. And how else?

Through video games, of course.

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DanTDM gets in on a science experiment with touring mate, Eve
He selected a number of kids from the audience to take on each other, and play solo on the games Dan was challenged with. And these weren’t VIP kids. While they were all much closer than I was, these were just normal audience members who likely didn’t buy the meet and greet pass, which sold out within days.

At the end of it all, Dan and Eve made us promise that we’d keep all that we saw a secret. So while I can’t say much more, I’ll say for sure that even though my brother had a better time than I did, it was a much better show than I expected. And if you have kids who love DanTDM, or if you are a kid who loves DanTDM, this show is a blast.

But just remember to scream loud and bring your diamond sword, and maybe, you’ll get picked to come onstage.

Vinyl: Three Memories, Three Years Later

When I was twelve years old, I started to love music. But as great as just about everything ever recorded being available at my fingertips was, there was just something about another format that fascinated me.

“Vinyl’s cool,” I thought to myself.

On this day in 2014, I had just come home early from a road trip to Ohio because something was up with my house, and my parents had to be there to take care of it right then and there. My friend I was visiting there had a record player, and a nice little collection of classic rock, classical, and Disney records. I only had two at that time: In 3D by “Weird Al” Yankovic, and Give My Regards To Broad Street by Paul McCartney. As much as I wanted one, I didn’t have a turntable until I turned thirteen that July. My only source of playing records was on my grandparents’ Crosley 5-in-1, (which at the time I didn’t know that it was a huge mistake to abuse my two records on that thing.) which was why I brought both of my albums with me to Ohio.

But a few days after I arrived home, my parents decided that they enjoyed antiquing in Ohio so much, they were going to give it a try down here. We tried three different antique shops looking for (primarily) albums that were worth it. I only found two I knew, one an album, one a 45. The album was by this guy B.B. King, who I had always loved, but not enough to pay $30 for. The 45 was by The Monkees, being the theme song to their TV show on side A, and Mary, Mary on side B. Again, I had always been a fan of The Monkees, and had seen Davy Jones live before he passed away. But I think I’d even agree now that regardless of whether or not I have a turntable now, $10 is a bit much for a 45 without the original picture sleeve.

But what I didn’t know was that I was still going to go home with a record that day.

The last antique shop we hit was full of old tools and such. That place only had four records that I could find. Three of those four were country records by folks that I had never heard of. But guess what fourth record sat there in the corner, staring at me for $1.10?

Bridge over Troubled Water by Simon & Garfunkel.

Not only had I been a longtime fan of them – Paul Simon, both solo and as a member of S&G was (and still is!) in my top 10, top 5, and top 3. I had to buy it. On the ride home, I was proud of myself – I finally had an album that did not come from a family member. While it was used, it would be another few months until I got my first album that was mine the entire time.

On this day in 2014, I began to collect vinyl. Here are some of my favorite memories of it over the last few years.

2015

My primary digging spot has been Bananas Music in St. Petersburg, FL since March of 2015. I went digging there maybe once or twice a month. But what was my third dig ever there was actually one of the greatest times I look back on.

It was a Saturday in May. I was just about to graduate from eighth grade, I had played the lead role in my school musical the night before, and we all nailed it. For the first time in years, I felt totally alive and enthusiastic inside. My folks drove me out to my favorite record store to celebrate the beginning of summer, and my totally awesome portrayal of Horton The Elephant in Seussical Jr.

I selected Bananas.

Just my haul that day just gave me more enthusiasm that I have had in about two years. Here’s what I got that day, along with its price.

Don McLean – American Pie ($3)

The Sound of Music Soundtrack ($3)

Elvis Presley – Elvis’ Golden Records ($5)

Paul McCartney – Tug of War ($5)

George Harrison – Cloud Nine ($8)

Simon & Garfunkel – Bookends (8)

Billy Joel – The Stranger ($1)

Billy Joel – 52nd Street ($1)

You Don’t Have To Be Jewish ($1)

I think 2015 was my best year for vinyl. I got a reissue of The Beatles’ infamous butcher cover, a bootleg of their rare Christmas album for $10, and a first pressing of Simon & Garfunkel’s debut album, Wednesday Morning 3AM. In spite of all that, this had to be my best haul.

I didn’t know it at the time, but this was the haul that really kicked off my collection. I already owned about 40 albums at the time, but considering how rapidly my taste in music was rising, I needed a wider selection of artists. Cloud Nine was an album I had been hunting for since the year before. George was always my favorite of the Beatles because his solo career is insanely underrated. If more people today knew that he was a member of The Traveling Wilburys with Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Jeff Lynne, and Tom goddamn Petty, his music would probably be a lot more recognizable than it is today. Tug of War was a suggestion to buy from a friend that I, unfortunately have cut all communication with since, and honestly, it was amazing in its own right. Finally, my uncle, like me, has a top 20 artists list, and Billy Joel is #3 on his rock and roll list. (which is a little low for me) After he gave me his An Innocent Man album from when he was a kid, I told him that I really enjoyed it, and he told me to look for The Stranger.

I found it with 52nd Street, back to back. $1 apiece.

But the highlight that day was You Don’t Have To Be Jewish. During the holidays, one of my dad’s colleagues had me listen to a skit from this old comedy album on MP3, and it was so funny, I wondered how the hell I missed this in my 13 years alive. (whatever) I immediately scoured eBay and Discogs for a vinyl edition of the entire album, and because it’s out of print, the prices they were going for were pretty high for me. But I found a first (and only) pressing of it in the back room where they have discount albums from $1 – $3, while I was just casually digging. It didn’t have an inner sleeve, but frankly, that day, I did not give a crap.

I filmed my first thirteen minutes digging there that day, and I wish I had caught my reaction to YDHTBJ.

2016

A lot of good and bad things happened in 2016. Bad? We lost David Bowie and Carrie Fisher, I broke my leg pretty badly, and the biggest mass shooting in American history occurred an hour and a half away from my house. But a lot of good happened, too, which is why I’ll be sharing two memories from here, as this year, not a lot has happened, considering the fact that I’ve only been out on two digs total this year. What?!

Right after Christmas, I was given notice that I no longer had to drive all the way out to St. Pete for my albums, because a new shop in Clearwater was opening. Every month, they hold a record show where sellers in the Bay area come in to buy, and sell records. I couldn’t go to the one in January because I was out of town for it. But in February, a friend of mine met up there for our second out of many digs to come.

This shop had a huge shelf that was about 8 and a half feet tall, full of $1 records. And you never knew what you’d find. You could find Soundgarden, you could find Gary Dee Bradford. Anything was possible. Most of the albums I got that day, except for one, were $1, and it all totaled up to about $25 total.

Yep. 21 records in a day. (well, actually 22 because I bought a Queen Greatest Hits album at a street market for $5 earlier that day)

While they weren’t in pristine condition, most of them played so well, I still have them. But there was one that my dad bought for me, and it was the $5 album: an original pressing of Purple Rain by Prince, just without the poster. This was about two months before he passed away, so not being a passionate fan of Prince at the time, (I became one like, a month later) I really just threw it in my collection and let time go on.

Then, in March, I broke my leg.

I got to take two weeks off of school – Only because the second week was spring break. To ease myself before the surgery I had on it, I decided that it would be pretty cool to try and get through all of my albums. I started out with the ones I didn’t really enjoy at first. Purple Rain was one of them. I finished the album, and it was like a spiritual awakening. I couldn’t believe that being the music freak I was, I had never heard it before.

When the news broke a month later that Prince passed away, I was mortified. I was just now getting into his music, and just the night before, I looked for tickets to if he was ever gonna make a tour stop in Tampa. (which he only did once in his entire career in 2001) As soon as I got to my turntable, I started spinning Purple Rain, and I remember turning off all the lights and silencing my fan when the title track started playing on side B. I only wanted to hear Prince, without the AC on.

2016 (part 2)

2017 has really not left me with many amazing memories of vinyl, so I’ll write about a memorable one that I had with a friend of mine in October 2016.

I had known about this huge record warehouse in St. Pete since 2014, but I had never been to it. They said that they had over 3 million pieces of vinyl, which was about right. My friend and I had been to just about every record shop in town, so we (I,) wanted to check the warehouse off the list. I had gone to a YES reunion concert with Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, and Rick Wakeman the week before, and I only had two YES albums in my collection, so I figured that this warehouse was the perfect opportunity to find some.

As soon as we arrived, we walked up the green metal stairs to the entrance and opened the door. The first person we saw was one of the owners, sitting there pricing some albums. The first thing she says to us?

“Sorry, boys. We don’t sell prog rock here.”

We didn’t look like punk teenagers or anything. Even though I had bleached blonde hair at the time, I was wearing a Billy Joel t-shirt with jeans. My friend was just wearing black, black, and black. No big deal, right?

We kinda just ignored her, because we just wanted to start digging.

My friend that drove me out here is a hardcore metalhead, so obviously, I expected him to be looking for metal classics: Mötley Crüe, Cinderella, and of course, Metallica. But while he found Theatre Of Pain by Crüe, he found some other albums that I never expected him to even consider.

He was holding Frontiers by Journey and an album by 38 Special. “Really? 38 Special?” I asked him.

I had a stack of my own records I was going to buy (Monkees, Bob Dylan, Yes, etc.) that was going to total up to about $50, so who was I to judge? I think the best part of it all was check-out. When the owner who told us that she didn’t sell prog there rang my albums up, she got to The Yes Album by Yes last.

“So I actually did find some prog, now didn’t I?!” I sarcastically bragged, to which no response came from her.


Collecting vinyl has been painful, wasteful of money, and often times torturous. But it’s all been worth it, because one day when I have kids of my own, they’ll have a way to learn about the old days. Well, actually, come to think of it, vinyl has really made a huge comeback in recent years, which thankfully, I was a part of.

Music legend Tony Bennett is coming to Sarasota

Photo source: https://parade.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Tony-Bennett-Slams-Modern-Music-ftr.jpg

Tony Bennett is 90 and still kicking. And because of his consistent touring, he’s played the Tampa Bay area at least 9 times in the last 16 years.

After all, he is 90 years old, so many people who go to see him will more times than not think that it’s their last chance to do so. But they’re wrong every time. Tony completely defies his age: He still has his voice and energy, he’s formed a friendship with Lady Gaga, and he even jogs onstage sometimes.

But let’s get to the point here, okay?

Tony Bennett will play the Van Wezel Performing Arts Centre in Sarasota for the first time on Friday, September 8. This will be his second time in Florida this year, having also played the Mahaffey Theater in St. Pete in early March.

Tickets are now on sale at vanwezel.org, ranging from $57.00 – $147.00.

If you love him and have never seen him, buy those tickets as if it actually is your last chance to see Tony. Just keep in mind that while he may have left his heart in San Francisco, he’ll be back sometime next year.

Why McCartney’s arrival in Tampa is so important

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This is it, Beatle fans of Tampa.

T-minus fifteen days until Sir Paul McCartney brings his One On One tour to Amalie Arena.

The former frontman of Wings is finally returning to our state, his last time in Florida being in Jacksonville on his Out There tour. It’s bound to be one of the biggest nights Tampa has ever had.

Here’s why.

1) This is Sir Paul’s first time in Tampa since 2005. That’s right. 12 years since he played Amalie Arena. (then known as the St. Pete Times Forum)

2) His opener will most likely be A Hard Day’s Night, a song he has never played solo live until this tour, and since 1965, when he was with The Beatles. The One On One Tour is also described to involve some surprises, such as a dazzling stage setup, and a performance of a song by The Quarrymen (The Beatles before they were The Beatles), In Spite Of All The Danger.

3) The week Sir Paul will be there will involve three living legends in a row performing. On July 8, Rod Stewart with Cyndi Lauper will take the stage, and on July 11, original member of Pink Floyd, Roger Waters, will bring his US + Them Tour to the dome. With all due respect to those artists, Paul’s show is guaranteed to be the pinnacle of it all.

It looks like tickets have sold out on TicketMaster, but if you’re really dedicated to seeing him, you could either pay big bucks on StubHub, or simply try your luck and show up.

If you have a ticket, I’ll see you there.