I have yet to discover Graham Parker's music. An article a Sunday or two ago in the New York Times about Judd Apatow mentioned that Parker was on the set of his forthcoming movie, so I wonder if he did the soundtrack. Loudon Wainwright contributed to an earlier Apatow movie, "Knocked Up."
I'm sure there are at least a couple of GP tunes on the soundtrack. The band does appear in the movie, as a band that Paul Rudd, being a music promoter, is shepherding through their reunion tour. (A question of life imitating art, eh?) I guess the theme is that Rudd is trying to relive his youth by reviving his old favorite band.
Apatow is apparently a longtime Parker fan and phoned him to see if there was any chance of the band being willing to get together for the movie. Graham replied that they had already decided to record together and were well on their way to producing a new album. They agreed to delay the release a few months to coincide with the movie's release.
Graham also filmed a few scenes with Rudd, although who knows how much will make the final cut. Graham is hilariously funny, so I'm hoping he'll be in it a fair bit.
My great worry is that they will become hugely successful and will soon be headlining at large venues. I don't want to be priced out of Graham Parker tickets, and I don't want to have to watch him from the rear balcony because scalpers snapped up all the good seats the minute they went on-line. I've enjoyed being able to see him in more intimate venues, either solo or with various backing ensembles. Of course, that is purely a selfish reaction. Graham and the Rumour are really nice guys (at least the three I've met) and wonderful talents, and they deserve as much success as they can get.
The lineup of the seventh annual Roots n Blues n BBQ Festival was recently announced, and boy, am I happy: John Hiatt is coming to my little town! Along with Steve Earle, Johnny Winter, Bela Fleck, and lots of other performers. John and Steve are even scheduled to play together as well as separately. It all happens Sept. 20-22 in Columbia, Mo.: rootsnbluesnbbq.com/. This assuages some of the jealousy I feel for those of you who have Dave coming to your town next month. I haven't seen John Hiatt live since he performed with Little Village. Any board members who are drawn to Missouri for this festival, please let me know!
John Hiatt and Steve Earle playing together!!? That's an amazing pairing. I hope they'll enjoy it. I've seen John play a few times with Lyle Lovett, and the two of them really bring out the best in each other. Both Hiatt and Earle are great storytellers and songsmiths, so they should have a rousing mutual appreciation session.
And you saw Little Village back in the day? Man, am I jealous. I'll never be able to turn back the clock to see them.
Now you've planted a bug in my mind. By next September, I ought to be free for some serious travelling, and I've got a good friend in KC whom I owe a visit....
I guess this is the place to lament the closing of Maxwell's. I lived a few blocks away from it for a few years. The week before I was to move away, Maxwell's gave me a wonderful going away present: a four-night gig by Jonathan Richman. I attended every night, then sold my furniture and moved away. I have fond memories of Hoboken but I hear it is not what it once was.
PROCOL HARUM / Saturday, September 30th, 1972 at the Eulachhalle Winterthur, Switzerland
Life is great when you are 19!
That’s what I thought when I was on my way from Zurich to Winterthur where Procol Harum would perform tonight. They had become one of my favourite groups in the last couple of years.
While the train was gently on its way to Winterthur, I was reading the New Musical Express. Exciting things were happening musically. Status Quo had returned with a bang – “Paper Plane” was their first massive hit worldwide. A new band, Roxy Music, had entered the charts with their hit “Virginia Plain” - a song displaying a complete new sound and a positive approach. T. Rex had turned electric and had another massive hit with “Metal Guru” whereas Mott The Hoople convinced the market with their astounding version of David Bowie’s “All The Young Dudes” and Slade thrilled their fans with “Mama Weer All Crazee Now”. Famous groups like The Kinks, Ten Years After, The Doors, Jethro Tull and last but not least Procol Harum kept on delivering solid albums with well-crafted songs - “Everybody’s In Show-Biz”, “Rock’n Roll Music To The World”, “Full Circle”, “Thick As A Brick” and “Live In Concert With The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra”.
Procol Harum’s unique concert was supposed to start at 08.00 p.m. As I was already there at 04.30 p.m. I had the chance to meet and to chat with Gary Brooker (the group’s musical mastermind, singer, songwriter, pianist) and his wife. Chris Copping (organ) joined later. Then they were off for the soundcheck.
The band were on time. They started the concert with an extended version of “The Devil Came From Kansas” from their highly acclaimed album “A Salty Dog” (1969). This excellent song allowed Mick Grabham to display his technical and musical skills as a guitarist. It was the band’s first appearance ever with him – the great Robin Trower and the amazing Dave Ball were his predecessors.
The group performed then the suite “In Held ‘Twas In I” in its full length from the album “Shine On Brightly” (1968) with the participation of Keith Reid - together with the Munich Symphonic Orchestra under the special direction of musical director Eberhard Schöner and the Swingle Singers from Paris featuring the great Christiane Legrand. They played as well songs from their forthcoming album Grand Hotel - the title track, “Bringing Home The Bacon”, “A Souvenir Of London”, “Toujours L’Amour”, “T.V.Caesar” and “Fires (Which Burnt Brightly”) – featuring again the one and only Christiane Legrand. Classics like “Homburg”, “Shine On Brightly”, “A Salty Dog”, “Whisky Train”, “Broken Barricades”, “Simple Sister”, “Conquistador” and “A Whiter Shade Of Pale” followed.
Having started the gig at the sold-out venue with “The Devil Came From Kansas” and having played more than 2 1/1 hours Procol Harum closed the outstanding Saturday night’s event with a fiery and unplanned rendition of Little Richard’s “Good Golly Miss Molly”. I thought: “Jesus, they even know how to rock!” Gary was in complete control of everybody and everything but nevertheless taken aback about the audience’s wild response to their encore.
Before leaving the stage, Gary turned to me and said with thumbs up ”See you soon, Al”. And off they were.
It had been an unique performance on a very special night. And what a combination - band, orchestra and choir!
Outside the stars were shining bright and the ambiente was full of sound. This very first concert in my life made such a huge impact on me that I remember it as if it had been yesterday!
Sorry to be away so long. I seem to go through spurts of being on and spurts of being off. I'm off when my inner Luddite takes control and on when he recedes. I have suppressed him in order to share this article, and maybe he'll go away for a while now.
Hiatt played a great set on Friday night. A friend of mine says he saw him some years back when he gave a performance that looked like he just didn't care. I don't know about that, but he was clearly enjoying himself on Friday. He said it was the last night of a tour that started a couple months ago, and maybe that's why. Or maybe it was the great outdoor venue. Or maybe my friend is full of **** and he always enjoys himself. I saw him a long time ago, opening for someone at the Bottom Line in his Slug Line days, and then later playing with the late, lamented Little Village at the Palladium, or whatever it was called at that point. So I was certainly ready to see him again.
Hiatt followed Steve Earle, and some of the publicity said they would each play a set and also play together, but they played only one song together when Hiatt joined in on Earle's encore, a song by J. J. Cale I didn't know, something about a mama.
Hiatt reached as far back as 1987's Bring the Family, which is when I and a lot of other people started listening to him. From that record, he did "Memphis in the Meantime" and "Thing Called Love," the latter with a thank-you to Bonnie Raitt for making his longevity possible. He did four songs from the next year's Slow Turning: the title song, "Drive South," "Tennessee Plates," and "Paper Thin." And he did "Real Fine Love" from Stolen Moments, so we got a good helping of what I think of as early Hiatt, when I bought him on vinyl. I don't haul out the vinyl that often, and this reminded me how great those songs are. Of course he did "Perfectly Good Guitar" and "Cry Love," from the beginning of the CD years. He did one of my favorites, "Crossing Muddy Waters," introducing it as "another song with a lilting melody and depressing lyrics." Then two songs from the new record, "I Just Don't Know What to Say" and "Blues Can't Even Find Me," and that's all I remember. The set was not very heavy on newer stuff. I would have liked to hear "Have a Little Faith in Me," but I'm not complaining.
As I said, Hiatt seemed to be having a great time, doing some weird dances and sticking his tongue out a couple of times like Loudon Wainwright and Kiss. He wore glasses -- not sunglasses, but to see with. The band was really tight, and I enjoyed seeing a simple four-piece band after Earle's larger group. I can't believe I've been following Hiatt for 25 years!
I won't report on Earle or some other acts I saw because I don't know their music, but I'll say a little about my second favorite act, which was Bela Fleck and his wife, Abigail Washburn. They had a baby a few months ago and were still walking on air. They both played banjo and Abigail did most of the singing. They played the one song they managed to write together since the baby's arrival, an instrumental that still has no name. (An audience member suggested "Happy.") She sang a song in Chinese about a baby. Bela played themes from his latest record, a concerto for banjo and orchestra(!). Abigail played some lovely songs from her new record, City of Refuge. I bought both CDs from the merchandise booth.
Well, that's it. My wife is there now to hear Mavis Staples, but I'm festivaled out and have things I need to do. I guess this was one of them.