Friday night, I happened to be channel-surfing and saw that CBS was carrying a Garth Brooks’ concert, live from L.A., to benefit the firefighters who fought the recent wildfires out west. Having nothing better to do at 9:00pm, CST (yes, I’m old), I decided to tune in a see old Garth do his magic.
You see, in my “Blue” period, I was a huge Country Music fan and other than George Straight, Garth Brooks was as big of a country artist as it gets. Garth had many hits in the 80s and 90s and I always had a particular fondness for his ballads like To Make You Feel My Love (written by Bob Dylan) and The Dance.
His concerts were legendary for the passion in his performance and the overall high-energy. Everyone that I’ve known who has attended one of Garth’s shows said two things: 1.) It was worth every penny they paid; 2.) The guy is seriously talented.
So, I looked forward to settling in, hearing and seeing the great Garth Brooks, and being wowed once again. Unfortunately, it was not to be. Garth was really off. I don’t know if he couldn’t hear his tone, was ill or just way rusty, but virtually every song was out flat or out of tune and at points he seemed to be screeching. He covered with a bunch of yells to the crowd and let them sing some verses, but it was just not good. It was more glaringly evident how bad it was when his wife, Trisha Yearwood came out and sang perfectly in tune and then again, when Huey Lewis came out and sang Workin’ for Livin’.
Here’s an excerpt of Friday night’s Garth:
Callin’ Baton Rouge
The unofficial anthem of Louisiana may have been irreparably damaged. Now, contrast that with the loveliness of Garth past, singing one of Mr. D’s all-time favorite songs:
We were on the third row just right of center in a full house. The opening act was a local public high school choir, LeFlore Preparatory.
They were very good and quite moving. Their opening number was a very spirited African song that really set the positive tone of the evening.
They featured several solos that were all simply lovely. It was really quite inspiring to watch these enthusiastic, young people obviously committed to music.
After an hour, the announcer came out and welcomed Aaron Neville. Now, Aaron is a literal mountain of a man. At 66, he is buff and looks a full 25 years younger.
He opened with I Don’t Know Much and thanked his duet partner on that song, Linda Ronstadt, at its conclusion. Next came Stand By Me and Ain’t No Sunshine. In doing a little pre-concert research, I found out that these two songs, in particular had become special prayers for Aaron Neville.
Our local paper had a write up on the Aaron Neville concert on Friday. In that article, Aaron stated that this mini-tour was helping him get over the loss of his wife of 48 years to lung cancer last January. I had no idea.
Aaron Neville married Joel Roux (pronounced Jo-el) in 1959 when she was 18 and he was 17. His mother actually signed their marriage license because he was not of legal age. Through substance abuse, a prison stint, a rollercoaster career and four children, Joel was his best friend. He credits her with saving his life by throwing him out in the early years of their marriage and calls her his backbone. Dedicated Catholics, they both credited prayer and St. Jude with saving Aaron and turning their lives around.
Their life was anything but easy. Even after his 1966 hit, Tell It Like It Is, wealth and fame were illusive. Aaron supported his family by working the docks at the Port of New Orleans. Eventually, he started a band with his brothers and concentrated on the funky, back beat music of the Mardi Gras Indians, which is part of his heritage. His Warm Your Heartalbum was wildly successful as a solo effort and life got a lot easier for the Neville family.
Joel finally retired from her 20-year career at Charity Hospital of New Orleans and joined Aaron as informal Ambassadors for New Orleans and found a special place in the music industry with the fabulous rhythms of the Neville family, including The Meters, the Wild Tchoupitoulas, and of course, The Neville Brothers Band. All was really good until 2004, when Joel was diagnosed with lung cancer. Through prayer, radiation and chemotherapy, she went into remission. And then…Hurricane Katrina.
Aaron and Joel Neville lost their home and all of their possessions, as did many of their family. Aaron was in New York, on tour, when Katrina hit and has gone to New Orleans only once since the storm — to bury his dear wife. He has an asthma condition now that he feels would be exacerbated by living in New Orleans and the unknown environmental hazards that may be lurking. He also didn’t want to risk Joel’s fragile health by being in such a risky environment. However, he never abandoned New Orleans and has done dozens of benefit concerts to raise money for musicians and the people of the city, at large.
In November, the Nevilles announced that they will be back to play the 2008 JazzFest in April. It is a long awaited return that many residents view as a milestone in the recovery. It should be quite a joyous occasion, however I’m sure that for Aaron it will provide a stinging reminder of loss and what is missing. Great and enduring loves — particularly those who overcome adversity and trials — generally leave a gaping void when one is gone and the other is left to carry on.
While it was thrilling to see Aaron Neville on Sunday night, there was a certain pall and sadness to him. In particular, when he sang Amazing Grace….
Now, Aaron makes no bones about his faith. He’s Catholic to the core. He’s tatted up with crucifixes (including one on his cheek) and the face of Jesus on his huge bicep. He wears a St. Jude medal for an earring as a simple reminder of how a “hopeless case” can be redeemed.
However, my symbol is a little bigger and has more attitude. He had on a crucifix necklace as well as a rosary and an Our Lady of Guadalupe t-shirt. Being Catholic ourselves, we totally get Big Aaron. He’s thankful to God for saving his life and uses these outward symbols to proclaim his love of Christ to the world…and to maybe influence others in need. Perhaps that’s why is his music is so particularly lovely.
He sang for over two hours and didn’t clutter the performance with much chatter at all. He just really went to work and gave us great music. A few of the highlights:
Tell It Like It Is
Please Come Home for Christmas
A Change Gonna Come
O Holy Night
Here are a few pictures I took from the show:
After the show, Big Mike, the keyboardist was out at the front of the stage talking to folks. Mr. D. had bought a fleur de lis Aaron Neville hat before the concert to support New Orleans and the re-building (because we’re loyal like dat) and we asked Mike if he could get Aaron to sign it. He said sure and got Jason the Roadie to go back stage. Within two minutes, we had our keepsake.
Well, I am back from my handicapped trek to Louisiana for our “Girls’ Weekend”. While it wasn’t easy, it sure was fun. We thoroughly enjoyed the getaway including: food, a little gambling, great company, some bodacious and very affordable pina coladas, and of course, the Taylor Hicks concert Saturday night.
First, let me say that the Paragon Casino in Marksville, LA is certainly “off the beaten path”. Fortunately, one of my D-i-Ls is from around those parts and got us there promptly and safely, mid-day on Saturday. We lounged around the pool and spent about an hour pouring money down a rat hole….uh, I mean gambling. After a very nice dinner where we saw Loren Gold and Brian Gallagher having their supper, my party wheeled me through the crowded casino and to the Mari Showroom, where the concert was being held.
Our seats were very good. We were about 15 rows back on the left of the stage with a big aisle in front. As it happens, even though the tickets were purchased way before my accident, we happened to be sitting on the handicapped aisle….fate, no? They were a little late getting started, but at about 9:10 p.m., Soul Finger, started and the band (all dressed in black shirts) took the stage. The stage was completed with “Little Ray” at the bottom of the drum platform, right next to the harp case and mic.
Then, Loren Gold announces….Ladies and Gentlemen, Taaaayyyyyllllorrrr Hhhhhiiiiiccckkks.
Taylor came out in a black button down, jeans and tennis shoes. He looked great and seemed very relaxed. He talked quite a bit to the crowd and was happy about being back in the South, even though it was hot. He talked about loving Louisiana, which immediately endeared him to the crowd.
I was very pleased to see that Taylor played quite a few songs from my suggested Set List. He started out with Soul Thing, followed by Heart and Soul. I captured some pretty good pictures with my zoom lens but the back lighting wasn’t as good as the House of Blues, so I did a little editing. Here’s one I captured during Heart and Soul.
He followed up with Just to Feel That Way and then pleased me greatly by introducing My Friend, with a sweet little soprano sax solo by Mr. Brian Gallagher. Awesome.
It was great. I hadn’t heard that one live yet, so I was thrilled. He was definitely having fun and looked very fit and comfortable. While he was really good at the Mobile and New Orleans concerts I attended this Spring, this was strikingly different. There was a certain air about the performance. Like a cloud was lifted and his spirit was a bit “free”-er. Whether it’s because of his AI “reign” being officially over; increased confidence from playing a successful, full tour in the Spring; his new girlfriend; or the fact that he had a week off from performing and was back in the South from a prolonged stretch up North; he looked like he was really happy to be there and was having a great time. His vocals were spot on and his trademark “passion” in the performance was certainly there, with a vengeance.
The set list included the following, with many “tags” embedded:
Wherever I Lay My Hat Don’t Let Me Down The Deal Hold On To Your Love Heaven Knows The Maze (with a long tag of Do You Believe in Magic?) Gonna Move (with a special nod to Louisiana of Gov. JimmieDavis’ You Are My Sunshine as well as Smoke of a Distant Fire) The Right Place The Runaround
The harp was ultra-hot on the last number and the crowd LOVED it. Me too, as I love me some harp.
Then…..the Encore. The stool came out, then Taylor. Then a guitar was brought out to him and then his harp brace and finally, the harp. What followed was simply remarkable. Taylor, by himself, playing guitar, playing harp AND singing Randy Newman’s Louisiana 1927. If you’ve never experienced this gem, here is Taylor’s version from the Open Door Sessions back in 2004.
For expediency’s sake, here is a YouTube of Taylor’s Louisiana 1927 as the backdrop to a Hurricane Katrina video.
Here are a few pictures I took during that performance, as well.
He ended with one of my favorites, Take Me to the Pilot. A really great performance. My girls all agreed that the stage is where Taylor shines. To really appreciate Taylor, his talent and energy, you have to see him “live”.
I was very glad that I went, even though the going wasn’t the easiest. For those of you who have asked about my recovery….it’s going ok. I still have pain in the leg that I’m hoping starts to subside. Two or so more weeks on crutches and then a walking boot for a few weeks. This was certainly a great “pick me up”.
To conclude, I leave you with a couple of favorite pictures that I captured of, as one of my girls says, “The Silver Fox”.
Went back to work today (for most of the day) and what was waiting for me, but my AUTOGRAPHED Marc Broussard CD, SOS: Save Our Soul.
Now, I am fiercely proud of my Cajun heritage and all that entails, but Marc….he’s special. He’s from the Lafayette area, as am I, except I’m from the South side of town where he grew up on the North side of town. Regardless, it’s God’s country. Folks work hard and play harder and music is ALWAYS at the forefront.
Marc’s Daddy, Ted, is a member of the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame as a renowned guitarist for the famous Boogie Kings, headed up by G.G. Shinn and for years, a musical fixture in South Louisiana. While flavored with Cajun French Music and Zydeco, the main focus of this music is Stax and Old Soul. Marc now takes this music to a new and revived level with his new CD, comprised mostly of lesser known covers by signature Soul artists.
One of my favorites on the CD, Love and Happiness, was written and originally released by the Reverend Al Green. Another very interesting throwback to the old South Louisiana bands is Bobby Womack’s Harry Hippie.
Just for me, Marc included one of my absolute favorite songs on this CD, Otis Redding’s I’ve Been Lovin’ You. This is the first song that Mr. D and I ever danced to, so it holds a very special place in my heart. I didn’t think that anyone could do it justice but Otis, however Marc comes close. And, did I mention that he’s Cajun?
So far, the reviews of SOS that I’ve seen are stellar. I mentioned the track listing for SOS in the recent “covers” post, but I failed to extoll how this CD is so artfully seated in “soul”. You can sample all of Marc’s new songs, here. Marc has really stayed true to the music that he loves and this release is really the closest to true soul music that I’ve heard in a very long time. Toby Lightman provides an added dimension on the Staples’ Respect Yourself, as well as one of my all time favorites:
And, Marc’s got serious issues with TPTB in the music industry. He’s vocal about treatment of artists by radio and record companies and the fact that an “artists’ alliance” is sorely needed. This recent article in the Orlando Weekly underscores Marc’s disdain for the manipulation of music:
As far as Broussard’s concerned, he’s got the best job in the world and the business end takes care of itself as long as he stays true to the music. He hires great musicians and lets them loose. Sound simple? Sure. Yet, Broussard’s aware of how people screw up such a simple plan.
“Today, music is, you hire a great fucking drummer and on the record you have some representation of that drummer’s performance, but it’s not that drummer’s performance. He lays down a couple measures of the groove and they take that one section and paste it over and over, and it takes out the humanity.” Broussard pauses. “I’m not into that.”
Marc really is all about the music and has been innovative in finding ways to get his music out to as many people as possible with the belief that if the music is good….really good….people will BUY it.
I had been planning to give a review of Van Morrison’s new compilation, The Movie Hits, when my good friend, NOLAGirl suggested that I give a listen to Elliott Yamin’s new self-titled CD. So, I’ve decided to do both. The Elliott Yamin review is first, followed by Van the Man. Likely the ONLY time that’ll ever happen.
Elliott Yamin –Elliott Yamin
First, let me say that Elliott’s style has never been something I liked or gravitated to, however I did like a few of his performances on American Idol, particularly A Song for You (included on this CD, as well). However, like many R&B singers he “over runs” the song with vibratos and whatever you call the running up and down the scale. I know folks will say that that’s the way R&B is supposed to be and maybe so, but it’s just not my cup o’ tea. I prefer to just hear the voice without all the gyrations of notes up and down. It’s not that hard to listen to, just not something that compels me to “power listen”, i.e., obcessively play in the house, car, and at work until I know the CD forward and backward.
There’s something about Elliott that’s bothering me. While I’m all about “making the most of what you’ve got”, his transformation from a year ago is a little eerie. A bit plastic. And these don’t even show the “Extreme Makeover” of his teeth. While he looks great, he just doesn’t look like Elliott anymore….at least to me.
The CD, however, does sound like Elliott. I like a few of the tracks alot, a few ok, and a few — not so much. Here are the ones that I like:
Movin’ On is the first release and I like the beat.
Find A Way Good beat with a “Stevie Wonder feel” and a bit of a protest.
Free Great “groove” song…message here?
A Song for You The Donny Hathaway anthem that Elliott, so richly did on “the show”. I love this song, in general. Elliott’s phrasing is a little rigid but, all in all, it’s good.
The other songs are similiar sounding to these and are “just aw-ite” for me. The Bonus Track of Whiter Shade of Pale is really unnecessary and awkward on this CD. A few of the songs are self-described, like Train Wreck and Alright, except that it’s not. (Think Theme from Shaft.)
Lastly, here’s Elliott’s first video and new single release, Wait for You. OK.
I think this the CD, overall, is a quality release. After all of the hand-wringing by his fans, his patience and taking time with this release pays off. I’ve not purchased an “idol” release outside of Taylor Hicks and if it not for this review, I likely wouldn’t have purchased the CD, but may have bought one or two tracks. However, he should do very well in his “genre”.
In February, Van released 19 tracks from “The Movies”….his songs used in movies. I have to admit, seems as though I hear Van’s music everywhere, but especially in the movies. In the following track listing, you can see the numerous movies that has included a Van song. I’m sure that not all are mentioned, as the first I ever heard of Van Morrison was from the song Into the Mystic in a movie called “Immediate Family” starring James Woods, Glenn Close, Mary Stuart Masterson, and Kevin Dillon. The story is about a childless couple trying to adopt a baby from a teenage couple, but I digress. In the middle of the movie, I heard Into the Mystic and watched until the end and the credits so that I could see who it was. Then, I went out (yes, to the Mall) and purchased Moondance and my music life hasn’t been the same since.
On this CD, Into the Mystic is listed as part of the “Patch Adams” Soundtrack, but I know better (as usual). Here is the entire Track Listing and the corresponding movie that it was a part of:
“Gloria” (performed by Them) (from The Outsiders)
“Baby, Please Don’t Go” (performed by Them) (from Wild at Heart)
“Jackie Wilson Said” (from Pope of Greenwich Village)
“Domino (Live) (from Clean & Sober)
“Moondance (Live) (from An American Werewolf in London) (previously unreleased version)
“Queen of the Slipstream” (from Extreme Close-Up)
“Wild Night” (from Thelma & Louise)
“Caravan” (Live with The Band – from The Last Waltz, 1976)
“Wonderful Remark” (from The King of Comedy)
“Brown Eyed Girl” (from Born on the 4th of July) (previously unreleased version)
“Days Like This” (from As Good as It Gets)
“Into the Mystic” (Live) (from Patch Adams)
“Hungry for Your Love” (from An Officer and a Gentleman)
“Someone Like You” (from French Kiss)
“Bright Side of the Road” (from Fever Pitch)
“Have I Told You Lately” (from One Fine Day)
“Real, Real Gone” (from Donovan Quick)
“Irish Heartbeat” (with the Chieftains) (from The Matchmaker)
“Comfortably Numb” (Live with Roger Waters, The Band & The Rundfunk Orchestra & Choir – from The Wall Concert in Berlin, 1990) (from The Departed)
Here is Caravan with The Band from “The Last Waltz”. Superb.
Probably my most favorite song on this CD is Jackie Wilson Said…
Here’s a live performance, for good measure….
Fun, musical and ALL Van.
Of course, included are some of the Van “staples” that we’ve come to know and love. In addition to Gloria (G-L-O-R-I-A):
These songs spark the memories of summer bar-b-ques, the beach, and cold “hot” nights dancing one song after another at the local watering hole when I was a younger. These are all still part of my life….so much so that one of my “babies” is named Domino. (He digs Van, as well.)
In the movie, “The Matchmaker”, with Janenne Garafolo, Van’s Irish Heartbeat is featured. Great acoustical tune with Irish flutes. LURVE this tune.
A few other favorites…..
Days Like This
Brightside of the Road Whimisical, wonderful tune from the Jimmy Fallon/Drew Barrymore flick, “Fever Pitch”…..nice. Great little bit of harp.
A personal favorite from “One Fine Day” with George Clooney (mmmmm…..) and Michelle Pfeiffer. I love this movie and the ending with Have I Told You Lately is perfect.
Have I Told You Lately
Lastly, to bring it full circle, here’s the YouTube and the CD live recording of Into the Mystic.
Into the Mystic
In case you haven’t guessed, I am a HUGE Van Fan. I’m biased, so sue me…..