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Archikulture Digest

Urinetown (The Musical)

Urinetown (The Musical)

Theater West End in Sanford, Florida

This is a fitting show for today’s situation. Times are tough, and everyone suffers as they wait to pay to pee. And no chance of doing it in the bushes gets you sent off to “Urinetown, ” the cops will arrest you and send you to “Urinetown.” And just like the farm mom and dad sent your first pet dog to, you ain’t coming back. We get our exposition from Officer Lockstock (Geluso) and Little Sally (Mangus). They explain how things runs: Mr. Cladwell (Sam Lipsey) runs the “Urine Good Company ©” They hold a monopoly on all the Public Conveniences, and no unauthorized micturition is allowed. When you gotta go, you gotta go the UGC. We meet the dregs of this city at Public Convenience #9, run by Penelope Pennywise (Aubrey Gore) and her idealistic assistant Billy Boy Bill (Atkins). The misery of the masses convinces Billy to raise a revolution, and they kidnap young Hope Cladwell (Dimoglou) and flee into the sewers. And like so many revolutions, the rich get richer, the dead get deader, but nothing really changes. Idealist Billy is sent to Urinetown, and without professional management, the revolution pisses away all the potable water, ultimately leaving the poor dead and dehydrated, and the rich sunning in Rio. So much for Idealism.

While the audience was limited and this was a one weekend student production, it was quite enjoyable. I hear the run extend due to a municipal plumbing problem which is about as much irony you can have in Sanford, FL. The story line here feels like a parody of Les Mis, complete with the big production numbers, limited of course by the technical constrains of Theater West End and the fact everyone had to sing through a mask. This did tend to limit audibility somewhat, but the Covid limited seating compensates with fewer sound absorbing patrons and their candy wrappers. Acting was excellent all around with Lipsy’s Cadwallader suitably sleaze and his adjective laden daughter Hope creates a nice family tension. Sally seems mostly a commentator to Geluso’s narration. The musical quality was good even if recorded, and the addition of a few non-script commenting on the virus lines drew a few good added laughs.

Like all theatrical operations, times are tough at TWE. There’s no concession service, and it will be a few months before a full run of a show crosses this stage. That may well be “American Idiot” which ought to sell well. But at least tonight the show did go on, and it went on quite well. And in the recent dark days, they redecorated the lobby, and it looks much nicer.

theaterwestend.com

Categories
Print Reviews

Tampa Bay Noir

Tampa Bay Noir

Edited by Colette Bancroft

Akashic Books

All of the books in the Noir series follow the same formula. A group of writers with personal ties to a city contribute tales from the dark side. The mayhem occurs in specific parts of town, making place integral to the stories. I love the series because they explore interesting places from the shadowy nooks where the bad people are. I have a personal connection to this edition. Tampa Bay has been my home for over 30 years and I’ve seen editor, Colette Bancroft moderate discussion at book signing around town. She’s also the book editor for the Tampa Bay Times newspaper.

Tampa Bay Noir is divided into four sections: Suburb Sinister, Blood in the Water, Grifter’s Paradise and Family Secret. Each section has stories that follow those themes. I’m going to talk about my favorite story from each section to give an idea of what’s going on. If you read this collection, you may have other favorites.

In Suburb Sinister, I liked Lori Roy’s story “Chum in the Water.” Set in the ritzy, Tierra Verde development near the mouth of Tampa Bay, we’re introduced to a down on his luck real estate speculator who got caught with too many condos when the market tanked. Dale is a quick flip specialist, the kind whose speculation drives up prices. Roy let’s us watch Dales life fall apart even as he schemes to outsmart the loan shark who lent him money. Rather than pay off his debts, he gambles on hiring a hit man. One moral of this story, don’t try to hire hit men who were hired to take you out.

Blood in the Water’s stories are kind of like hallucinations induced by heat stroke. Sterling Watson’s story, “Extraordinary Things” is set in Pass-a-Grill, the southernmost village of Pinellas County’s barrier Islands. We meet Lee Taylor at the landmark Hurricane bar and grill. Lee is taking a chance meeting up with a woman he doesn’t really know. The story is a variation of a mistaken identity story and the long term repercussions of a chance meeting. This is a noir story, so you can guess that this blind date doesn’t go well for Lee.

Grifter’s Paradise is my favorite section in the collection. Ace Atkins turns in a story about a con man fleecing lonely women who are looking for love. “Midnight Preacher” explores the rotten underbelly of televangelism. My favorite story in Grifter’s Paradise is “Jackknife” by Danny Lopez. This story is set in Gibsonton back when it was still largely a community of carnival workers. The story revolves around ex-cop turned private eye, Wes who gets a call for help from an ex-lover as a hurricane is headed for landfall in Gibsonton. Wes drives into the path of the storm to rescue his ex, only to be frustrated when she insists they look for her current boyfriend. The hurricane hits, people go missing and we find out just how unreliable our narrator Wes is.

My pick from the Family Secrets section is Colette Bancroft’s story, “The Bite.” This story is set in the Rattlesnake neighborhood (which is the part of Tampa I live in). A 12 year old girl who’s trying to make sense of the strange neighbors across the street tells the story in first person. The neighbor’s father drives a fancy car and lives on base while his wife and children live off base in dire conditions. We see through her eyes that domestic violence isn’t always physical.

Being a local, it’s cool to read about locations and think, “I’ve been there.” Tampa has enough sordid and colorful history to deserve another volume. There is nothing set in Ybor City (but then Ace Atkins’, White Shadow and Dennis Lehane’s, Live By Night are set in Ybor City’s gangster past).

www.akashicbooks.com

Categories
Event Reviews

Collective Soul

Collective Soul

Busch Gardens, Tampa, Florida • February 29, 2020

Tampa, Florida’s Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival Series kicked off its 2020 concert lineup with a bang as ’90s alternative darlings, Collective Soul, played to a packed audience on a very chilly evening. The temperature may have been cold, but the music was red-hot. Freshly purchased Collective Soul swag including zipper hoodies could be seen all about, a smart purchase for many underdressed patrons. Founding frontman, Ed Roland (who now goes by E Roland) and the rest of the post-grunge group offered up 80 minutes of their signature heavy riffs and catchy hooks that have long endeared the multi-platinum rockers to a very loyal fan base. There’s a good reason for that, too.

Dean Roland

Michelle Wilson
Dean Roland

Collective Soul is one of the few acts that successfully blends the heavy stuff with the pop crackle to create an aural triumph. But it’s even more than that. They own the stage from the moment they appear. E Roland’s easy rapport with the crowd combined with the high energy and genuine smiles on stage makes it obvious that these guys still love every minute of what they do. The Georgia-based collective also includes Roland’s brother, guitarist Dean Roland, and bassist Will Turpin, both also original members, as well as guitarist Jesse Triplett and drummer Johnny Rabb.

Will Turpin

Michelle Wilson
Will Turpin

Taking the stage at 8pm after Elvis Costello & The Attractions’ “Pump It Up” engaged the crowd, the band members took their places including the flamboyant frontman, who sported a yellow plaid suit with a black tee shirt and a white cowboy hat. Kicking off strong with “Heavy,” “Why Pt. 2” and “Shine,” everyone was up on their feet dancing and singing along. Roland sat down at the piano and played a beautiful intro to “Shine,” bringing enormous cheers. It happened to be Johnny Rabb’s birthday, so Roland offered Happy Birthday wishes and joked, “leave it to Johnny Rabb to be born on leap year.”

Jesse Triplett

Michelle Wilson
Jesse Triplett


Johnny Rabb

Michelle Wilson
Johnny Rabb

Culling from their career-spanning archives, the Peach State entertainers treated the theme-park throng to such hits as “Better Now,” “Precious Declaration,” “December,” “AYTA (Are You The Answer?), ” “She Said,” “The World I Know,” “Gel,” “Where The River Flows,” and “Run.” Also featured were two tracks off their latest release, Blood (2019), including “Over Me” and “Right As Rain.” E Roland played acoustic guitar on several of the songs. The original show set list had a new tune, “All Our Pieces,” but it was not played at this show.

E Roland

Michelle Wilson
E Roland


Jesse Triplett, E Roland, Will Turpin

Michael Yanko
Jesse Triplett, E Roland, Will Turpin

Paying homage to fellow Georgia boys, Roland and company did an incredible cover of REM’s “The One I Love.” “We’re from Atlanta, Georgia and growing up these guys were our idols. They are only six or eight months older than us,” joked Roland. He explained that they really wanted to do one of their songs because it was very important to them as a band.

Johnny Rabb, Jesse Triplett, Will Turpin, Dean Roland

Michelle Wilson
Johnny Rabb, Jesse Triplett, Will Turpin, Dean Roland


E Roland

Michelle Wilson
E Roland

As a writer and photographer, Collective Soul is one of my absolute favorites to cover. The consummate musicianship and unfeigned stage camaraderie paired with sincere fan interaction all add up to a show that never disappoints and always concludes on a positive, uplifting note. As a concertgoer, you walk away just a little bit lighter than you came in, and that’s a great feeling. Don’t miss Collective Soul if they come through your area. It will be money well spent.

E Roland

Michelle Wilson
E Roland


Check out the full gallery of photos from Rock Legends Photographers.

rocklegendsphotographers.smugmug.com/ROCK-CONCERT-PHOTOS/COLLECTIVE-SOUL-Busch-Gardens-Tampa-FL-2-29-2020

www.collectivesoul.com

Categories
Event Reviews

Tommy Emmanuel

Tommy Emmanuel

with Ida Mae

The Plaza Live, Orlando, Florida • February 26, 2020

The Plaza Live in Orlando, Florida played host to a wonderful acoustic performance from Tommy Emmanuel and opener Ida Mae on a drizzly evening in Central Florida. The two acts wowed the almost-capacity crowd in the intimate setting of the erstwhile movie theater. Just off the Joe Bonamassa “Keeping The Blues Alive At Sea VI 2020” cruise, the riveting performances were a fine complement to each other.

Ida Mae's Chris Turpin and Stephanie Jean

Michelle Wilson
Ida Mae’s Chris Turpin and Stephanie Jean

Kicking off at 8pm and offering a 40-minute set of soulful harmonies and scorching resonator delta blues, the British husband-wife duo (Chris Turpin and Stephanie Jean), Ida Mae, was an absolute treat. It’s no wonder that they just won this year’s “Artist On The Rise To Luck” competition and will be performing at Luck Reunion 2020, a musical extravaganza at Willie Nelson’s ranch. The couple moved to Nashville a year and a half ago, and they have covered 75,000 miles throughout 43 states (“And we’re still married!”). Their indie release, Chasing Lights, was released back in June and received high praise. “As you can probably tell, we’re not from around here. English kids get obsessed with blues.” they joked. They describe their music as British blue-eyed soul and acoustic Americana, which is spot-on. “Do we have any blues fans?” asked Turpin, which received raucous applause and cheers from the crowd. He also relayed a deep history of the resonator. Highlights of their set included “My Girl Is A Heartbreak,” “Sweet Abandon,” “Baby Your Mine,” and a Woody Guthrie cover, “What Did The Deep Sea Say?”. They graciously thanked Tommy Emmanuel for the touring opportunity and their set seemed to end almost as soon as it began, after which they met fans in the lobby at the merch table. Keep your eye on this band with their fresh sound and youthful exuberance.

Tommy Emmanuel

Michelle Wilson
Tommy Emmanuel

Australian-born, Nashville-based guitar wizard, Tommy Emmanuel, took the stage at 9pm and thrilled the audience with a two-hour set. With his unique finger-picking technique and uncanny ability to sound like an entire band with just an acoustic guitar, it is not surprising that he twice has been named “Best Acoustic Guitarist” by Guitar Player magazine. Emmanuel does not read music but rather plays by ear, an incredible feat for such an intense player. His easy rapport with the crowd made it seem as if he was performing in someone’s living room rather than in a venue. With irresistible charm and wit, he kept fans enthralled as he peppered in witty anecdotes between the music. “My albums never get released; they escape.”

Tommy Emmanuel

Michelle Wilson
Tommy Emmanuel

In addition to several of his popular instrumentals, the guitar master also played “Sixteen Tons” (Merle Travis), a song that was a huge success for Tennessee Ernie Ford and covered by many others. Before he played this cut, Emmanuel hilariously gave thumb-picking lessons as he joked that it was for the two people who would “get” it.

Tommy Emmanuel

Michelle Wilson
Tommy Emmanuel

In a heartfelt moment, Emmanuel described becoming an American citizen. “Ladies and gentlemen, you are my fellow Americans because I became a U.S. citizen. It took me six years to get my green card but it was worth it. I love this country so much. It’s nourished me in every way.” He shared a story about growing up in Australia and as a ten-year-old boy, his father passed away. The musical family continued to perform, but it was difficult for the young musician. He said that the music of Chet Atkins really got him through the tough times. He mailed off a letter to Nashville for Atkins, addressing the envelope simply as “Chet Atkins, Nashville, USA.” To his surprise, the letter was received and a package arrived at his family home including a signed promo shot of his musical idol. Years later, Emmanuel became very good friends with Atkins and even recorded with him. The late Atkins described him as one of the greatest guitar players he had ever seen.

Tommy Emmanuel

Michelle Wilson
Tommy Emmanuel

Another highlight moment was when Emmanuel brought up Charlotte, North Carolina’s Joshua King to play searing blues harp and lead vocals on Percy Mayfield’s “Hit The Road Jack” and blues harp accompaniment on Bruce Springsteen’s pop hit, “I’m On Fire.” He also brought out openers, Ida Mae, to acknowledge their performance and to allow the crowd to recognize them once again.

Other gems included “Fuel,” which he wrote during a four-hour train ride from Paris to Cologne and which incorporates difficult time changes (“for the people who get that!”), “The Duke,” his ode to John Wayne complete with the actor’s signature swagger, “Deep River Blues,” “Blue Smoke” (another Merle Travis cover), “Lewis and Clark” (“I send it out with all my love”), “Avalon” (another Chet Atkins cover written by Buddy DeSylva, Al Jolson and Vincent Rose), “Classical Gas” (Mason Williams), and his always-popular Chet Atkins version of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” (Harold Arlen/Yip Harburg). “We got any Rolling Stones fans? Good. Here’s some Beatles tunes.” The acoustic Beatles montage is always a treat and the crowd ate it up.

Tommy Emmanuel

Michelle Wilson
Tommy Emmanuel

Surprisingly, about half the crowd consisted of folks who had never seen Emmanuel before. What a joy it must have been for them. The old timers shouted out requests – I’m “pretty sure” I even heard “Freebird” in there. “Music – I call it the happiness business,” said Emmanuel. And he is absolutely correct, as the packed house remained until the 11pm ending and left with smiles on their faces and music in their hearts. Catch these two phenomenal artists if they come through your town. It will be some of the best money you ever spend.

Check out the full galleries of photos from Rock Legends Photographers.

rocklegendsphotographers.smugmug.com/BLUES-CONCERT-PHOTOS/TOMMY-EMMANUEL-The-Plaza-Live-Orlando-FL-2-26-2020

rocklegendsphotographers.smugmug.com/BLUES-CONCERT-PHOTOS/IDA-MAE-The-Plaza-Live-Orlando-FL-2-26-2020/?fbclid=IwAR3A367herkZE_LxXJ7Poc27aT8jrbMV1XGtSCycmR5ma72vPG9xBg-JoK4

tommyemmanuel.com idamaemusic.com

Categories
Event Reviews

Joe Bonamassa

Joe Bonamassa

Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater, Florida • February 24, 2020

Fresh off his “Keeping The Blues Alive At Sea VI 2020” music cruise, Joe Bonamassa kicked off the first evening of a two night-residence at Clearwater, Florida’s Ruth Eckerd Hall. Playing to a packed house for over two hours, the slick, impeccably dressed, renown blues guitarist thrilled the crowd with his axe arsenal, signature sizzling licks and sensational vocals. He was backed by his usual seven-piece dynamic touring band including Michael Rhodes (bass), Reese Wynans (keys – Bonamassa was quick to point out that Wynans grew up in Clearwater, much to the crowd’s delight), Lee Thornburg (trumpet), Paulie Cerra (saxophone/vocals), and Anton Fig (drums), who had just rejoined the tour after a seven-month hiatus, as well as Australian powerhouse backup singers, Jade MacRae and Juanita Tippins.

Joe Bonamassa with Michael Rhodes and Juanita Tippins

Michelle Wilson
Joe Bonamassa with Michael Rhodes and Juanita Tippins


Joe Bonamassa with Michael Rhodes, Jade MacRae, Juanita Tippins, and Reese Wynans

Michelle Wilson
Joe Bonamassa with Michael Rhodes, Jade MacRae, Juanita Tippins, and Reese Wynans

While Muddy Waters’ “Tiger In Your Tank” played, Bonamassa and company took the stage and kicked off the blues-soaked soiree at 8pm with their rollicking, horn-laden interpretation of the Willie Dixon-penned blues classic. Led by Bonamassa’s incendiary guitar prowess, the mighty collective then played three cuts off Bonamassa’s latest, Redemption, including “Evil Mama” with its nod to Led Zeppelin, “Just ‘Cos You Can Don’t Mean You Should,” a B.B. King-esque track spotlighting the keys phenom that is Reese Wynans (“He is a machine.” – Joe Bonamassa) and the fast, horn-heavy “King Bee Shakedown.”

Joe Bonamassa with Jade MacRae, Michael Rhodes and Reese Wynans

Michelle Wilson
Joe Bonamassa with Jade MacRae, Michael Rhodes and Reese Wynans


Joe Bonamassa with Michael Rhodes, Reese Wynans, Jade MacRae, and Juanita Tippins

Michelle Wilson
Joe Bonamassa with Michael Rhodes, Reese Wynans, Jade MacRae, and Juanita Tippins

The cover of Kenny Neal’s slow burner, “If Heartaches Were Nickels” (Warren Haynes), was a real highlight. The subtle keys and horns perfectly accented Joe’s haunting vocals and searing guitar, while Jade MacRae’s piercingly soulful solo stole the entire song and garnered a standing ovation. One of the things I really admire about Bonamassa is his ability to step back and allow each member of his band to shine. There is so much talent on that stage and he does not take it for granted.

Joe Bonamassa with Michael Rhodes, Reese Wynans, Jade MacRae, and Juanita Tippins

Michelle Wilson
Joe Bonamassa with Michael Rhodes, Reese Wynans, Jade MacRae, and Juanita Tippins


Joe Bonamassa with Michael Rhodes and Reese Wynans

Michelle Wilson
Joe Bonamassa with Michael Rhodes and Reese Wynans

Another gem was the cover of Tampa Red’s “Don’t You Lie To Me,” famously recorded by Albert King as “I Get Evil” and adopted as a smashing set staple by Bonamassa with prominent horns and keys as well as nicely featured vocals from the backup singers.

Joe Bonamassa with Michael Rhodes, Reese Wynans and Jade MacRae

Michelle Wilson
Joe Bonamassa with Michael Rhodes, Reese Wynans and Jade MacRae

Working in some new material from a forthcoming release, the combo performed “A Conversation With Alice,” a pop-driven number with a Steely Dan/Hall & Oates feel. It’s a bit of a departure from Bonamassa’s blues roots but the crowd really dug it.

With it’s dreamy, Middle Eastern vibe that slowly built to a blues-infused rock crescendo, “Blues Of Desperation” blew the roof off Ruth Eckerd Hall as did Tim Curry’s “Sloe Gin,” both prime examples of Bonamassa’s versatility as a blues artist. Wynans is featured on keys at the beginning of the latter.

Joe Bonamassa with Reese Wynans

Michelle Wilson
Joe Bonamassa with Reese Wynans

Following band intros, the group launched into a smokin’ cover of Delaney and Bonnie’s “Well, Well.” Once again, Wynans’ steamy keys backed Joe and his blistering guitar solos while MacRae slayed the Bonnie Bramlett vocal.

Paying homage to Willie Dixon with an off the chain “Tea For One/I Can’t Quit You Babe,” Bonamassa then broke into a raucous John Mayall cover of “Little Girl” followed by ZZ Top’s “Just Got Paid,” culminating at 9:50 with a brief exit and return before the stunning two-song encore including “Woke Up Dreaming” and “Mountain Time.” Both songs were co-written by Bonamassa and Will Jennings, and in true Joe style, he conveyed another witty anecdote about his final co-writing effort with Jennings. “I won’t be writing with you anymore,” Jennings shared, because his composition, “My Heart Will Go On,” was used for the motion picture, “Titantic.” “They’re using some Canadian singer,” Jennings confided to Bonamassa, and the rest was indeed, history, as Celine Dion’s mega-hit recording of Jennings’ masterpiece made him, as Bonamassa playfully phrased it, “filthy f-cking rich.”

Joe Bonamassa with Anton Fig

Michelle Wilson
Joe Bonamassa with Anton Fig

Anyone who has ever been to a Joe Bonamassa show knows how funny he is on stage, with a dry, self-deprecating wit. He confessed that they got thrown out of the Beachcomber Bar in Clearwater Beach (“Wreaking havoc in your fine city!”), which gave rise to ripples of laughter throughout the audience. Somewhere in the midst of the show a fan yelled out the cliched request for Bonamassa to play “Freebird,” to which he fired back, “I will not. F-ck you!” He quickly apologized for cursing, noting that his mother was present at the show. (Of course, he hilariously dropped the F-bomb later on as well.)

Joe Bonamassa and full band including Lee Thornburg, Paulie Cerra, Anton Fig, Michael Rhodes, Jade MacRae, Juanita Tippins, and Reese Wynans

Michelle Wilson
Joe Bonamassa and full band including Lee Thornburg, Paulie Cerra, Anton Fig, Michael Rhodes, Jade MacRae, Juanita Tippins, and Reese Wynans

There are few performers on today’s contemporary blues scene who offer more bang for your buck than Joe Bonamassa. Together with his outstanding band, they give it everything they’ve got at every single performance and leave fans walking away with a truly memorable experience. If you’re a blues fan and you’ve never seen a live Bonamassa performance, you truly are missing out. Catch up with his tour dates below and get yourself to a show. It will change everything you think you know about contemporary blues. I guarantee it.

Check out the full gallery of photos from Rock Legends Photographers.

rocklegendsphotographers.smugmug.com/BLUES-CONCERT-PHOTOS/JOE-BONAMASSA-Ruth-Eckerd-Hall-Clearwater-FL-2-24-2020

jbonamassa.com

Categories
Event Reviews

Yacht Rock Revue

Yacht Rock Revue

House of Blues, Orlando, Florida • February 8, 2020

A few weeks ago I was emailing with a publicist concerning a particular band, when he asked if I would consider covering Yacht Rock Revue at House of Blues Orlando. Uhhh…who? I had never heard of them, but quickly schooled myself through several internet searches. And then I was intrigued. Their backstory is an unlikely but awesome thing of beauty. The Atlanta-based collective started out as a goof in 2007, performing ’70s and ’80s soft pop hits and even donning wigs and polyester. It was “supposed to be” a one-time gig but to everyone’s surprise it took off, and the band has been touring steadily ever since. The “Hot Dads In Tight Jeans” (also the name of their forthcoming album of originals – their first) garnered such a huge following that they quit their day jobs. Eventually, deals were signed with Live Nation and SiriusXM. It doesn’t get much better than that. They even do private corporate events. They play to sold-out crowds (this one no exception) of die-hard fans who line the stage barricade wearing “yacht” captain hats. This is NOT just your typical tribute band. This is a first-class group of multi-talented, high energy musicians who know how to work the crowd and keep them engaged throughout the show. I literally looked at my phone to see what time it was, and 45 minutes had passed in what felt like five. The place was packed and there wasn’t an inch to move. Lucky for us, we were allowed to photograph the entire show and remain in the photo pit. And what a show it was.

Peter Olson, Keisha Jackson, Nicholas Niespodziani, Greg Lee, and Mark Bencuya

Michelle Wilson
Peter Olson, Keisha Jackson, Nicholas Niespodziani, Greg Lee, and Mark Bencuya


Nicholas Niespodziani

Michelle Wilson
Nicholas Niespodziani


Peter Olson

Michelle Wilson
Peter Olson

Yacht Rock Revue includes frontmen Nicholas (Nick) Niespodziani (guitar/percussion/vocals) and Peter Olson (guitar/percussion/vocals), Mark “Monkeyboy” Dannells (guitar/vocals), Mark “Question Mark” Cobb (drums/vocals), Greg Lee (bass/vocals), Mark Bencuya (keys/vocals), David Freeman (saxophone/keys/EWI/vocals), and Keisha and Kourtney Jackson, a soulful mother/daughter backup duo. I can’t say enough about the talent that was on this stage.

Mark

Michelle Wilson
Mark “Monkeyboy” Dannells and David Freeman


Greg Lee

Michelle Wilson
Greg Lee

Now, you may be saying to yourself, ’70s and ’80s light rock? Really? REALLY. Who doesn’t love that stuff? And their renditions are spot-on. Songs from Christopher Cross, Michael McDonald, Jackson Browne, Steely Dan, Boz Scaggs, Kenny Loggins, America, Little River Band, Hall & Oates, Robbie Dupree, Lionel Richie, Toto, Ace, Fleetwood Mac, Ambrosia, Paul Simon, George Benson, Rupert Holmes, Gerry Rafferty, and even Queen – they were all there, and they were stellar. Some of these singers have even shared the stage with the band in the past. There wasn’t a single tune that the fans didn’t know, and everyone sang right along. Peppered in were two tracks off the aforementioned new release, Hot Dads In Tight Jeans (“Step” and “Bad Tequila”), and they blended seamlessly with the covers. The dazzling light show (courtesy of “Peaches”) only added to the allure.

Mark

Michael Yanko
Mark “Question Mark” Cobb


Mark Bencuya and Kourtney Jackson

Michelle Wilson
Mark Bencuya and Kourtney Jackson

Clad in form-fitting jeans, ’70s-style polyester shirts and even a leisure suit, the band took the stage at 8:45 as 10cc’s “I’m Not In Love” filled the venue. Opening with “Sailing” from Christopher Cross and running through a soft rock extravaganza, the concertgoers definitely got their money’s worth. “Orlando feels good tonight! I knew these were our people! I could feel it! Not only is this our biggest crowd ever but our best! Thank you!” Hit after hit kept coming as the capacity crowd of 2,500 belted out the lyrics with the band, all the while dancing and having a great time. The band played until 10:40 and briefly exited, returning to offer a two-song encore, Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al” and a mind-blowing “Bohemian Rhapsody” from Queen, wrapping it all up at 10:55.

Nicholas Niespodziani

Michelle Wilson
Nicholas Niespodziani


Peter Olson and Mark

Michelle Wilson
Peter Olson and Mark “Monkeyboy” Dannells

It’s hard to offer “highlights” because everything was incredible, but some standouts included Michael McDonald’s “What A Fool Believes,” two of my favorites from Hall & Oates, “Rich Girl” and “She’s Gone” (which they absolutely slayed), Toto’s “Africa” and “Rosanna,” America’s “Sister Golden Hair,” Little River Band’s “Lady,” “Hey 19” and “Reelin’ In The Years” from Steely Dan, Paul Simon’s “Late in The Evening,” and crowd favorite, “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)” from Rupert Holmes (“You ready to sing along Orlando?”). There were numerous sax solos, but two true gems were during Ambrosia’s “Biggest Part Of Me” and of course, Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street.” Also mixed in was Lionel Richie’s “Running With The Night,” a new and welcome addition to their set. At a few different points, Nick and Peter grabbed instant cameras and photographed Monkeyboy and Freeman, tossing the pictures out into the crowd.

Mark

Michelle Wilson
Mark “Monkeyboy” Dannells and Peter Olson


Mark

Michelle Wilson
Mark “Monkeyboy” Dannells, Peter Olson, Keisha Jackson, Nicholas Niespodziani, Greg Lee, and Mark Bencuya


Mark

Michelle Wilson
Mark “Monkeyboy” Dannells, Peter Olson, Kourtney Jackson, Nicholas Niespodziani, Greg Lee, and Mark Bencuya

I have to admit that going in I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I came out a Yacht Rock Revue convert. There was such a fun, energetic vibe coursing throughout the HOB. I don’t think anyone left before it ended, and I doubt anyone wanted it to end. I can’t wait for them to come back to Orlando! Get out and see Yacht Rock Revue if they come through your area, and take a trip down ’70s and ’80s memory lane with some amazing musicians.

Michael Yanko

Check out all of the photos from Rock Legends Photographers:

rocklegendsphotographers.smugmug.com/ROCK-CONCERT-PHOTOS/YACHT-ROCK-REVUE-House-of-Blues-Orlando-2-8-2020

www.yachtrockrevue.com

Categories
Event Reviews

Moloko Plus

Moloko Plus

with Void Machine, Individual Two, and Black Knight Satellite

The Nook; Orlando, FL • 04/25/19

There’s a tiny bar in the Milk District of Downtown Orlando. No, it doesn’t serve milk. Although, you could probably get a damn good milk stout. If you mostly stick to Gringos and Sportstown, you’ll miss The Nook on Robinson only a few doors down, where once a month a local experimental music group called Moloko Plus can be seen and heard from the busy street. When first walking in to The Nook on Robinson, it might remind you of your friend’s living room. It’s cozy and welcoming with string lights, small cafe tables, a beautiful bookcase with esoteric novels, and an interesting mannequin of a butt that resembles something you probably stole from your neighbor in college.

The Nook on Robinson

Arianna Davis
The Nook on Robinson

By the front door, right in front of the giant window that overlooks Robinson Street, you’ll find several tables connected in a pattern resembling that of dominos carefully butted up against each other. (How many times can I say butt in this article?) The table closest to the window holds several modular setups designed by Void Machine, the first performer of the evening. The cables running to his setup are everywhere. Trying to trace them back to their original output and input would be quite a task for an unassuming person, but he knows each and every single one and how one simple wire change can create the sound to elicit the right emotions from the crowd. Inputs and outputs are what make up almost any genre of music, but experimental electronic music takes this idea to a whole new level. Void Machine begins his set as most of the patrons in the bar lower their voices to listen closely. For someone experiencing this for the first time, they might question whether or not the artist is doing a sound check or simply just diving right in. It doesn’t take long for one to be transported by the sounds to a scene in an ’80s film where the protagonist is driving fast around town trying to sort out some conflict in his head, tapping the steering wheel as the beat continues. Each time you find yourself getting lost in it, Void Machine pulls you out with something new and unexpected. The best part is watching as people pass by but decide to stop and stare in awe of the all of the lights and cables coming from the custom built modular setup.

Individual Two

Arianna Davis
Individual Two

“I like the beeps. I like the bloops. And the blinky lights,” says Teege Braune, a regular to the monthly Moloko Plus shows. Each month brings a unique set of talent from the great Orlando area. It’s spaced between other ‘Monthly Modular Meetups’ where new and old electronic music artists come together to test out and show off their setups to fellow musicians before unleashing them to the public.

Sean, the only human component to Void Machine, looks up from his modules and politely asks, “Is my time up?” It’s an informal exchange that either embodies the laid back low key atmosphere of the venue or of the musicians.

Void Machine

Arianna Davis
Void Machine

Winter Park native Will Randall, otherwise known as Modal Plane, doesn’t happen to be on the ticket this particular evening, but has a chance to jam with Void Machine. The two play off each others creations with Modal Plane sitting and Void Machine standing. One sitting and one standing only adds to the contrast of their equipment. Modal Plane is on a much smaller setup while Void Machine’s modules tower over him.

As they finish, they are greeted with applause from the bar. A curly-haired man with a digital mixer on an iPad in his hand walks up and thanks Void Machine and Modal Plane for their impromptu jam. This is about as close to a vocal artist as it will get for a Moloko Plus night. He invites the next performer up, John Irby or Individual Two, who saunters over to his setup which includes a larger keyboard than seen on the other tables so you can almost expect that things are going to get a bit crazier. Now we’ve moved to the scene of that ’80s film where the protagonist is beginning to realize what he needs to do. There’s an urgency to the music but the artist is calm, cool, and collected the entire set. So much as a twinge of a smile barely crosses his face as he focuses on his keyboard all while turning knobs in what appears to be a random pattern. Individual Two finishes his set softly. The audience cheers.

Black Knight Satellite

Arianna Davis
Black Knight Satellite

The curly-haired man returns. He’s better known as Pressurewave or Jared Silvia for short – the co-organizer of Moloko Plus. He thanks Individual Two and coaxes another round of applause from the audience. This time, Jared has some exciting news to share with everyone: a new cassette tape music label called Circuit Church. Yes, cassettes, with all of their tape hiss and nostalgia… they’re making a come back. Their first cassette release will feature Modal Plane’s music that was heard briefly earlier in the night.

The last artist of the evening – Zac Adkins, a popular tattoo artist by day and Black Knight Satellite by night – is still setting up. His setup resembles a key grip’s nightmare similar to that of Void Machines, and one would wonder if it is custom built as well. Finally, we’ve reached the fight scene of the film. Black Knight Satellite sound hits with a harsh contrast to Individual Two but excellent nonetheless. It’s inviting as the evening begins to wind down. The new set of blinking lights helps to reinvigorate the crowd and sparks many conversations just outside the doors of The Nook.

Void Machine + Modal Plane

Arianna Davis
Void Machine + Modal Plane

Many artists from Moloko Plus attend these monthly shows whether they are performing or not. This level of support for each other is just another reason to attend this spectacular event and support local music in Orlando overall. Every musician there is willing to discuss or explain the artistry that is experimental electronic music and it is highly recommended that you take them up on it. It’s not just music. It’s science, math, emotions, and art all rolled up into one.

Black Knight Satellite finishes his set and is greeted once again with applause. The evening has finished. One can only pray to the lord of Circuit Church to thank him for Moloko Plus, and be thankful that only the artists have to figure out how to pack up all their equipment and get it home safely.

www.facebook.com/molokoplusorlando

Categories
Event Reviews

Blue October

Blue October

with Mona

House Of Blues, Lake Buena Vista, Florida • May 3, 2019

Alternative rockers Blue October graced House of Blues Orlando with their mighty presence for a two-night run of their “King” Tour on May 3 and 4. In 1995, the multi-platinum-selling collective formed in Houston, Texas and offered a unique blend of genre-crossing styles. Their 2006 breakout album, Foiled, produced the huge hits “Hate Me” and “Into The Ocean.” With the 2018 release of their ninth studio album, I Hope You’re Happy, the band has never sounded tighter. Justin Furstenfeld, the founding frontman/singer/songwriter/guitarist is one of the most charismatic, engaging musicians out there.

Click here for our fun, pre-show interview with Justin!

Justin Furstenfeld

Michelle Wilson
Justin Furstenfeld


Ryan Delahoussaye and Justin Furstenfeld

Michelle Wilson
Ryan Delahoussaye and Justin Furstenfeld

A true raconteur, his poetic music is his testament and he is quick to share again and again how grateful he is for second chances. After a series of personal and professional upheavals, Furstenfeld has found his way back to the light and is only too happy to share his positivity through his stories and music. Like the proverbial phoenix rising from the ashes, Furstenfeld has become a beacon of hope for countless fans. Blue October has almost a cult following, and it is well deserved. Along with his brother Jeremy Furstenfeld on drums and multi-instrumentalist Ryan Delahoussaye (all original members), the band is rounded out with bassist Matt Noveskey and guitarist Will Knaak. A Blue October concert is unlike anything else I have ever experienced. Days and days after the show, it still resonates within me. That’s some pretty heavy stuff, but that’s Blue October.

Jeremy Furstenfeld

Michelle Wilson
Jeremy Furstenfeld


Will Knaak, Ryan Delahoussaye and Matt Noveskey

Michelle Wilson
Will Knaak, Ryan Delahoussaye and Matt Noveskey


Justin Furstenfeld

Michelle Wilson
Justin Furstenfeld

Buzzing around the venue before the show, I spied a man wearing a Blue October tee shirt from the band’s European leg of their tour. I asked him for permission to take a photo, and he and his wife could not have been more gracious. Turns out, they were from Oxford, England and recently had seen the band, loving them so much that they booked a trip to Florida just to see them again. It’s the kind of truly cool story that this band inspires.

Nick Brown of Mona

Michelle Wilson
Nick Brown of Mona


Justin Wilson of Mona

Michelle Wilson
Justin Wilson of Mona

Opening the show at 8pm was Nashville-based indie rock band, Mona. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but they were fantastic. With Nick Brown on keys/vocals and Justin Wilson on drums, the two-man team packed a powerful punch into their 30-minute set. Brown mentioned that he once lived in Lakeland, Florida, eliciting cheers from the Florida crowd. The seven-song set featured “In the Middle,” “Ain’t It Sick,” “Pavement,” “Like You Do,” “Some Kind Of Rage,” “Lean Into The Fall,” and “Love Divine,” the closer with just Brown on keys/vocals and some amazingly long-held vocal notes. “I don’t care who you worship, what color your skin is or who you fuck. If you believe in music, I believe in you,” stated Brown. Wrapping up at 8:30pm to make way for the headliner, the band got rousing applause and cheers from the crowd.

Matt Noveskey

Michelle Wilson
Matt Noveskey


Justin Furstenfeld

Michelle Wilson
Justin Furstenfeld

Taking the stage at 9pm, Blue October kicked it off with the title cut from Sway (2013) complete with Delahoussaye’s poignant violin accents. Other cuts off the same record included “Debris,” “Things We Do At Night” and “Fear” during the encore. Mixing in “Into The Ocean” (Foiled 2006), “I Want It,” “Home,” “Coal Makes Diamonds,” and “Leave It In The Dressing Room (Shake It Up)” (all from Home 2016), “Amnesia” from the second album (Consent To Treatment 2000), and “Jump Rope” (Approaching Normal 2009), the band also played the gems “King,” “How To Dance In Time” and “Daylight” off the latest record (I Hope You’re Happy 2018).

Will Knaak, Ryan Delahoussaye and Justin Furstenfeld

Michelle Wilson
Will Knaak, Ryan Delahoussaye and Justin Furstenfeld


Justin Furstenfeld

Michelle Wilson
Justin Furstenfeld

Furstenfeld’s acoustic medley to open the encore was a real highlight of the evening, including “Further Dive (The House That Dylan Built)” (I Hope You’re Happy 2018), “18th Floor Balcony” and “Hate Me” (both off Foiled 2006). Everyone sang along and it was truly chill-inducing. Hearing the stripped-down acoustic version of “Hate Me” gave it a whole new sound. Closing out with “Your Love Is Like A Car Crash” and “I Hope You’re Happy” (I Hope You’re Happy 2018) with the aforementioned “Fear” in between, one of the best shows I’ve ever attended was over before I knew it and I became a permanent Blue October disciple. We photographed the whole show in the photo pit, and I can’t quite describe the feeling of watching/listening as the entire enraptured crowd sang the lyrics along with Furstenfeld.

Will Knaak

Michelle Wilson
Will Knaak


Ryan Delahoussaye and Justin Furstenfeld

Michelle Wilson
Ryan Delahoussaye and Justin Furstenfeld


Matt Noveskey, Justin Furstenfeld and Ryan Delahoussaye

Michelle Wilson
Matt Noveskey, Justin Furstenfeld and Ryan Delahoussaye

It’s not often that I simply gush about a band, but I cannot stress enough how phenomenal this one is. Even if you don’t know them or their music, check them out online and if they come through your area, do not even hesitate to buy tickets to their show. It will change your life. I guarantee it.

“You don’t have to be broken to be a Blue October fan.” – Justin Furstenfeld

Ryan Delahoussaye, Jeremy Furstenfeld, Justin Furstenfeld and Matt Noveskey

Michelle Wilson
Ryan Delahoussaye, Jeremy Furstenfeld, Justin Furstenfeld and Matt Noveskey

Check out the full galleries of photos from Rock Legends Photographers.

rocklegendsphotographers.smugmug.com/ROCK-CONCERT-PHOTOS/BLUE-OCTOBER-House-of-Blues-Orlando-FL-5-3-19

rocklegendsphotographers.smugmug.com/ROCK-CONCERT-PHOTOS/MONA-House-of-blues-Orlando-FL-5-3-19

Read Christopher Long’s in-depth Ink 19 review of I Hope You’re Happy: ink19.com/2018/08/magazine/music-reviews/blue-october-4

www.blueoctober.com www.monatheband.com

Categories
Event Reviews

Don Felder

Don Felder

Disney Epcot® International Flower & Garden Festival — Garden Rocks Concert Series, Bay Lake, Florida • May 6, 2019

Walt Disney World’s 2019 Epcot® International Flower & Garden Festival — Garden Rocks Concert Series continues to offer quality performances from stellar talent, and this year is no exception. Don Felder, formerly of The Eagles, thrilled the theme park crowds with a three-evening stint from May 5 to 7. He looked and sounded amazing, and he seemed genuinely thrilled to wow the intimate audiences before him. Each night, the seasoned rocker and Florida native pumped out three 30-minute sets at the American Gardens Theatre. I was lucky enough to catch the final set on the last evening. It was a seven-song Epcot® sojourn down Eagles memory lane. I doubt there was a single person there who wasn’t taken right back in time to the 1970s, when The Eagles ruled the airwaves with epic hit after hit. Felder was backed by guitarist David Myhre (who has toured with Tanya Tucker), bassist Jeff Coffey (former bassist/vocalist for Chicago, 2016-2018), drummer Chris Ralles and keyboardist Timothy Drury.

Don Felder

Michelle Wilson
Don Felder

Don Felder

Michelle Wilson
Don Felder

Jeff Coffey, Don Felder, David Myhre

Michelle Wilson
Jeff Coffey, Don Felder, David Myhre

During some of the sets, Felder mixed in the title track off his newly released solo album, American Rock ‘N’ Roll, ( stores.portmerch.com/donfelder/featured-products/american-rock-and-roll-lp.html ), which features a slew of guests including Sammy Hagar, Slash, Richie Sambora, Orianthi, Peter Frampton, Joe Satriani, Mick Fleetwood, Chad Smith, Bob Weir and more.

Don Felder

Michelle Wilson
Don Felder

But the final set was straight-up Eagles cuts: “Already Gone” (On The Border, J. Tempchin/R. Strandlund, 1974), “Peaceful Easy Feeling” (J. Tempchin) and “Witchy Woman” (D. Henley/B. Leadon, both off Eagles, the 1972 debut album), “Seven Bridges Road” (S. Young, never officially recorded for a studio album but released on Eagles Live 1980), “Heartache Tonight” (The Long Run, D. Henley, G. Frey, B. Seger and J.D. Souther, 1979), and “Life In The Fast Lane” (J. Walsh/G. Frey/D. Henley, Hotel California, 1976). As soon as Felder’s iconic Gibson EDS 1275 SG Double Neck Arctic White, 12-string guitar appeared on stage, EVERYONE knew what was coming. The discernible opening notes of “Hotel California” (D. Felder/D. Henley/G. Frey) rang out on the balmy Florida evening and then just like that, the half-hour set was over in what seemed like seconds.

Don Felder

Michelle Wilson
Don Felder

Don Felder and David Myhre

Michelle Wilson
Don Felder and David Myhre

This concert series offered by Disney/Epcot® is such a perfect way to enjoy some of your favorite performers in an intimate setting. What a treat it was for Don Felder to entertain park visitors with an Eagles songbook. After all, who doesn’t know and love the hits of The Eagles? I only wish it had been longer.

Don Felder

Michelle Wilson
Don Felder

Felder is on tour in Europe right now. If you’re lucky enough to be there, do not miss the opportunity to attend a show.

Check out the full gallery of photos from Rock Legends Photographers.

rocklegendsphotographers.smugmug.com/ROCK-CONCERT-PHOTOS/DON-FELDER-Epcot-Orlando-FL-5-6-19

www.donfelder.com disneyworld.disney.go.com/entertainment/epcot/flower-garden-rocks-concert-series

Categories
Event Reviews

The Church

The Church

The Social, Orlando, Florida • April 23, 2019

Australian alternative rockers The Church rolled into Orlando on the second leg of their 30th Anniversary Starfish Tour and played an intimate set for a packed house at The Social. Their breakout album literally brought the band overnight worldwide success with the help of their dreamy, iconic track, “Under The Milky Way” as well as the harder, Blue Oyster Cult-esque “Reptile,” which features unmistakable opening riffs. Ironically, “Under The Milky Way” ALMOST didn’t make the record, but the band’s manager heard the song and made sure it was included. Thirty years later, the anthemic gem is as fresh as ever.

Peter Koppes

Michelle Wilson
Peter Koppes


Tim Powles

Michelle Wilson
Tim Powles

Founding member and frontman, Steve Kilbey, original guitarist Peter Koppes, long-time drummer Tim Powles, guitarist Ian Haug and multi-instrumentalist Jeffrey Cain packed in two high-energy sets of music and a two-song encore. The hour-long first set from 8-9pm consisted of Starfish in its entirety, followed by a short intermission and then a healthy mixture of career-spanning jewels. Kilbey’s dry wit and knack for storytelling kept fans laughing throughout the evening. The venue’s advertising screens were directly opposite the stage, and Kilbey joked that he never thought in 2019 he would be playing a gig in Orlando and seeing himself on the screen with “a really botched attempt at dyeing [his] eyebrows,” and asked if it really had to be on? Sure enough, they turned off the screens and he thanked them.

Ian Haug

Michelle Wilson
Ian Haug

Listening to Starfish from beginning to end was like taking a trip back in time. The opening one-two punch of “Destination”/”Under The Milky Way” thrilled the crowd as did “Lost,” “Spark,” (a real highlight) “Antenna” and “Reptile.” “Ladies and gentlemen, in 1986 we were doing a soundcheck in Texas…a stormy afternoon when Peter Koppes came up with this little riff.” That “little riff” was the intro to “North, South, East and West.” Ending the first set with the album closer, “Hotel Womb,” the band from down under proved that their unique sound still translates into an amazing live performance all these years later.

Peter Koppes and Jeffrey Cain

Michelle Wilson
Peter Koppes and Jeffrey Cain

Following a twenty-minute respite backstage, the band returned at 9:20pm for another blistering one-hour set of catalog nuggets covering eight albums and one EP. Opening with “Anaesthesia” (Holgram of Baal, 1998) and closing with “Tantalized” (Heyday, 1985), the band covered a rich mixture of music. Offering “Toy Head” (Further/Deeper, 2014) and “Sealine” (Forget Yourself, 2003) back to back, Kilbey threw in band intros laced with humor in between the two songs. Other highlights included “Metropolis” (Gold Afternoon Fix, 1990), “Another Century” (ManWomanLifeDeathInfinity, 2017), “Constant In Opal” (Persia, 1984 EP), “Day 5” (Uninvited, Like The Clouds, 2005), and “Ripple” (Priest=Aura, 1992).

Steve Kilbey

Michelle Wilson
Steve Kilbey

After a brief exit the band took the stage once again to heartfelt applause and cheers, and Kilbey addressed the house. “A long, long time ago in another universe, we were just another scruffy band in Sydney playing to five people. And then we had this song…was on TV and then the next week we had 900 people – hooray! And we’re gonna play that song for you right now.” That song was none other than “The Unguarded Moment,” a smash hit for the then-up-and-coming band off their debut record, Of Skins and Heart (1981).

“Okay ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for having us. It’s very appropriate we leave you with our last song. It is indeed about Florida,” said Kilbey, and they closed it out with “Miami.”

Michelle Wilson


Michelle Wilson

It’s always a special evening when a band plays up close and personal at a small venue. For fans of The Church, it could not have been more perfect to enjoy one of Australia’s Paisley Underground pioneers. The packed venue was a true testament to just how beloved this band still is. As they wrap up this second leg of their anniversary tour of Starfish, one can only hope that a new release will be somewhere down the horizon.

Check out the full gallery of photos from Rock Legends Photographers.

rocklegendsphotographers.smugmug.com/ROCK-CONCERT-PHOTOS/THE-CHURCH-at-The-Social-Orlando-FL-4-23-19

www.thechurchband.net