Saturday, June 18, 2011

Clarence Clemons

It was the mid 80's. The Golden Bear in Huntington Beach was still around. I had tickets for Clarence Clemons that night. He was doing a solo show and I was so looking forward to it. But by the time we got in there all of the good seats were gone. I asked someone who worked there for help, I must have offered a tip. Next thing I know, they seated us in the area they reserved for wheelchairs, right up against the stage. So, our feet are touching this 3 foot stage and Clarence comes out and stands right in front of us. Can you imagine? The didn't call him the Big Man for nothing. When we looked up from pretty much his feet, he looked huge! It was a great night. I'll never forget it. RIP Big Man. You'll be missed by so many.

Grant Lee Phillips and The Section Quartet at Largo

Going to Largo in L.A. is like going to a family reunion; without the stress. The artists are like family, they all know each other and perform with each other. And the crowd... it’s the usual suspects. So, I was only half surprised when Kristy Hanson, a local singer/songwriter who I’ve talked about over the last few years, calls out my name when we get into the open air lobby. After hugs and introductions (Maria hadn’t met Mike, her husband and bass player), we ended up talking for 40 minutes about everything from music (Kristy and Mike are collaborating on an EP) to Google (his new job) to English and reading (both Maria and Kristy have English degrees). Finally it was time to get to our seats. Now, I believe, although I may be wrong, that I met Kristty at either a Section show or a Sam Phillips show when we were seated next to each other. And sure enough, a few years later, the same thing happens. In a couple hundred seat auditorium, we were seated right next to each other. As I’ve said in the past, I love Largo.

The Section Quartet opened the show, doing what they do best, rocking out as a traditional string quartet. As usual, they covered Radiohead (twice), Tool, Queens of the Stone Age and Muse, to mention but a few. The first Radiohead cover was from the album The Bends, which they plan on playing in its entirety on September 23rd in Santa Monica. I understand they will have some guest vocalists, including Grant Lee. Don’t miss it, especially if you are a Radiohead fan.

I’ve never seen Grant Lee Phillips headlining a show and I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I wasn’t really expecting it to be such a great rock and roll show. Grant has this beautiful, you might call it glam rock inspired, voice. His newer material is fairly mellow. But the older, especially the Grant Lee Buffalo songs, are rockin’. This evening, there was an equal mix of mellow and rocking songs. Eric Gorfain played violin occasionally and the entire Section Quartet came out for a few songs; at one point completely filling the room with sound. Grant stuck with an acoustic guitar throughout the show, but with a quick touch of a pedal he was playing some smoking electric leads. As I expected, Grant’s sense of humor kept us all laughing in between songs. Even at the beginning of the evening when the rules were being laid down to us (no cell phones, no texting, no taping), Grant was in the background miming the speaker. This was a perfectly paced show with all the right songs being played at just the right times. What a treat. I can’t wait to see him again. I understand he is planning to return to Largo on July 15th. I know I’m going to be there.

Music Hall Link - Cowboy Junkies 4-1-1996 listen