Concert Review

“Rock this bitch!” Ben Folds had just finished his second song in the set after the intermission, when an audience member screamed out from the balcony, “Already?  We just started!” Ben Folds turned around to face his backing band for the evening, the venerable San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, and said, “I should probably explain this.” In Chicago, years ago, at a live show, a fan screamed this out and Ben Folds wrote a song on the spot. Now, “Rock This Bitch” is a Folds tradition. He plunked out a concept, muttering something about jazz to himself, and then gave each section of the orchestra a different assigned part. With about three minutes of preparation, Folds had a melody composed, and assigned parts to sections of the orchestra. The cellos, violas, violins, bassoons, and percussionists all had their own parts to play, over which Folds improvised a jazz melody and lyrics that were part pontifications about rocking this bitch, part lyrics to the Beverly Hillbillies theme song, all backed by a world class orchestra.

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o.a.r. headlines Live in the Vineyard 2016 Night 1

o.a.r. headlines Live in the Vineyard 2016 Night 1

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s that time again: Live in the Vineyard. For those unfamiliar, this is a biannual celebration of food, wine, and music, featuring a mix of hit artists and those that are up-and-coming. Events take place in locations all over the Napa Valley, typically culminating each (weekend) day in a concert at Napa’s Uptown Theatre. The event is exclusive in the sense that essentially the only way to attend is to win tickets via one of many contests available via the internet or the radio. This year’s fall event took place last weekend, with Friday night’s show a representative mix of the new and the tried-and-true: Britain’s Got Talent star Calum Scott, bluesy soul married duo JOHNNYSWIM, up-and-coming singer/songwriter Wrabel, American Idol winner Phillip Phillips, and celebrating their 20th anniversary as a band, o.a.r.. [read the whole post]

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I think Shakespeare might have been seeing into the future of BottleRock when he said “parting is such sweet sorrow.”  True story: on the last day of the inaugural festival in 2013, I remember thinking that I was like a kid at summer camp; I wanted to just keep coming back, but I knew that if I showed up the next day, all my friends would be gone and it would just be a big, sad mess that would leave me emotionally scarred.  Thankfully, though, after an amazing Day One and a lovely Day Two, I still had a whole final day to see, and this time, my bestie had come to join the fun. [read the whole post]

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After a smashingly successful day one, I couldn’t wait to see what BottleRock 2015 had in store for me on Day Two. I got a bit of a late start and arrived just in time for Scott Weiland and the Wildabouts.  This is one of the things I love most about the typical BRNV lineup: excellent blasts from the past, and you get a chance to see them in a whole new way.  (In BRNV years past I’ve been treated to Weezer, Heart, and the Spin Doctors, to name a few.)  I overheard someone saying that they thought the Wildabouts were “very STP,” and I can’t say I entirely agree.  Sure, it’s been quite a while since I heard much Stone Temple Pilots on the radio (much less even listened to the radio…), but I loved them, and so I remember enough.  Weiland and his Wildabouts were fun to watch, sounded great, and Weiland definitely still has the chops, but I think the biggest similarity between the two groups is simply Scott Weiland himself (and perhaps that both fall into the genre of rock).

Scott Weiland & the Wildabouts

Scott Weiland & the Wildabouts

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Ahhhh, BottleRock. It’s hands-down my favorite time of year. What could be better than waking up to the sounds of fantastic headliners sound-checking from my open bedroom window? (This year, specifically, it happened twice: once with Imagine Dragons, and again with No Doubt. Not bad. Not bad at all.) Anyway, besides the excellent wake-up call, it’s all mild May weather in my gorgeous hometown of Napa, full of the best food, wine, and beer you can find with fantastic bands. I’ve never missed a day of this festival’s three years (and counting), and hope I never have to. Here’s what you missed this year: [read the whole post]

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Seeing Simons & Lucca together is always a treat.

Tony Lucca will always have a special place in my heart…and my career. I say that because it was just about this time four years ago that I wrote my first review for Spinning Platters. I had met editor Gordon Elgart not long prior and discussed writing for him, but it was completely spur of the moment when I invited him to join me to see Mr. Lucca at the Cafe du Nord and cover the show. He asked, instead, that I do it myself. I admit, having never written anything of the sort, I was intimidated. But I did it, and I suppose the rest is the proverbial history? Anyway, I digress. Suffice all this to say that I was happy to catch him last Thursday evening at Yoshi’s Oakland. Even better, he had recently added my beloved Keaton Simons to his band, and offered me a little pre-show time for a chat. [read the whole post]

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Show Review: Matt Nathanson & Gavin DeGraw with Mary Lambert at Berkeley’s Greek Theatre, 6/20/2014

June 25, 2014

Okay, I’ll be the first to admit my folly: I was tardy to the Gavin DeGraw party. I mean really tardy. It’s not that I’d never heard of him or didn’t enjoy his music. It’s just that, for some reason, while my friends were all obsessing over him back in 2004 when he first came […]

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Show Review: Eric Hutchinson with Saints of Valory at The Fillmore, 5/1/2014

May 3, 2014

You can’t believe a word Eric Hutchinson says. Don’t believe me? See for yourself: his new album even admits it’s all Pure Fiction. Tall tales or no, I wanted to hear just what Mr. Hutchinson’s been up to since I saw him last, so I rounded up a couple girlfriends last night and headed out […]

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Show Review: Imagine Dragons with The Naked and Famous and X Ambassadors at SAP Center, 2/13/2014

February 16, 2014

Over the past three decades, I’ve called many a band my favorites, but of course over time, preferences change and so have I. For me, the ones that “stick” are those that tend to have qualities I can’t find elsewhere: a voice so unique I recognize it even a new song, a melody I can’t […]

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Show Review: Matt Nathanson with Vicci Martinez and Parachute (Mix 104.9’s Chris-Mix 2013) at Wells Fargo Center for the Arts, 12/12/2013

December 15, 2013

One of the best things about the Christmas season is that it, like summer, is a great excuse for radio stations to bring cool bands and artists together for a show that’s a celebration, and always a fun time. This year, the one I chose was Mix 104.9‘s 8th Annual Chris-Mix, last Thursday night in […]

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