Saturday, November 28, 2009

I Still Believe

OK Kids;

We here at the Brothers McC wear our hearts on or sleeves. We do it proudly and without apology. Sports, Film, TV, Politics, Religion ... you name it, we have an opinion about it. And, for the pricer of a pint, we're happy to tell you it ... all night long if we must.

But it's music that burns the hottest and deepest in our souls. And even through the three of us find plenty of common ground, there are still the acts that make us travel our separate ways. Knowing, in our hearts, that the other two brothers are idiots for not 'getting' what is so plain to see. Luckily ... this is not one of those cases. re: The David Johansen Group.

There was a time when there was no better band on the planet (with the humbled exception of one Mr. Springsteen) than The David Johansen Group. My brother and I would travel near and far to watch this band total destroy any and every stage that it stood upon. The songs were great, the music was loud & brash, and the band's live show felt like a runaway train, rolling downhill and closing in fast on a bridge that was out. No one knew what was gonna happen next ... and that's what made it all fun.

Well, the Senior Member of the Brothers McC dove back into those waters a few nights ago. And, without his permission, or permission from Major League Baseball, I will rebroadcast his thoughts.

I still believe.

David Jo In Trenton

I am leaving for a Thanksgiving run to Rhode Island in six hours. I just got back from seeing "An Evening With David Johansen" at The Trenton War Memorial. It was David and a four piece combo including Brian Koonin (Scott - you'd recognize him from early-mid 80's David Jo shows) as musical director. The entire crowd (80 to 100 graybeards) was seated on the stage. It was crazy intimate and the sound was fantastic (as possibly Scott, Reber and Michael could attest).

Of all the rock stars pushing 60 plus, I can only think of one who provides a bigger rush for me than David Jo, and that's Bruce. I believe David Johansen to be an incredibly under rated singer. He gets bashed for gruffness, but the guy can sing. Whether handling scuzzy glam rock, a menacing bossa nova reinvention of "Melody", classic blues or torchy jazz, David Jo brings heart, humor and soul to every note.

Opener "Funky But Chic" (schwing!) set my heart racing and my little fingers texting. I mean, it’s only the opening song on one of the five greatest rock and roll records ever made. I immediately thought of all the magical nights chasing David Jo around the quad state area of PA-NY-NJ-DE. From The Bottom Line (nothing like seeing DJ on his home turf) to The Fast Lane (Scott and I saw 1979 into 1980 with two shows and no dates, but at least that girl at our table flashed her tits at us at midnight) , from Ripley's (where I sang "Reach Out" with David Jo at one show and he personally shook the hand of every audience member at another) to Glassboro State College (with Blondie, Elvis Costello, Moon Martin and Marie O'Donnell), and from Alexander's (the drunkest show ever) to The Tally Ho (the Tally-fucking-Ho!), I remembered all the nights celebrating real rock and roll with the ultimate fun junkie. And mostly I thought of Scott, Beth (yeah we're still tight - don't even think about it) and Jim McNulty, because they shared many of those nights with me. And I had wished so much that they were there with me tonight. And if it's true you can't go home again, then it's just as true that it pays to get out the house once in a while.

The first (actually only) text was to my sister Beth and it said simply "Funky But Chic". And she knew. And I knew she knew. David Johansen held a mystical quality for us. He was an iconic legend but also the life of a party you couldn't believe you were invited to. It's similar to the feeling experienced at The Hold Steady shows over the last couple of years, but deeper and drunker and crazier, because being 22 and king of the world is a combination that just can't be beat.

I was aware of The Dolls but in 1972 they weren't my band. They were an exotic diversion with an allure and mystique that as a 15 year old went way over my head. But in May 1978, WMMR dj David Dye interviewed David Johansen just as his self titled debut was released and he was in town to play The Tower opening for Patti Smith. I remember David Dye played “Frenchette” (and I am forever in his debt) and later remarked to David Jo that it was a “great, dumb song”. Even though I had just heard the song for the first time, I knew what David Dye meant but I also thought that was selling the song short. David Jo politely disagreed, for the song is nothing less than the celebration of rock and roll. When all else fails and “we can’t get the kind of love that we need or that we want, let’s just dance”. Let’s rock and roll because there’s really nothing else to do. Because in 1978 and 1979, I needed David Johansen. I needed something to believe in. And I needed fun.

In Almost Famous, I always think of that first David Jo album when Sapphire (yeah Sapphire) talks about the band-aids and how they “truly love some silly little piece of music, or some band so much that it hurts.” For the first time in a long time, I felt that pain tonight.

So who’s with me this Saturday for “An Evening With David Johansen” in New York?

p.s. In typical Teek Time fashion, I got to the Tower that night in May 1978, got in line to buy a ticket and the guy in front of me was some record company mook with a mullet, who got his comps and then held one extra up and said “who wants it?” I still had hops back them and snagged that free row SS (about 20 rows back) bad boy. My concert karma was ON.

For those who have read this far, and seriously who would except Beth, Scott and McNult, below is tonight's set list. I scribbled it on a bunch of white space on an ad in the Sports Illustrated I brought to read because the concert going life of 52 year old rocker can sometimes be a solitary one. GEEEEEK!

And if you’re wondering why I sent this missive to you, it’s because all of you, at one time or another, believed or continue to believe.

Funky But Chic
Plenty of Music (Dolls – One Day)
Melody – slow vamp bossa nova
Boom Boom (John Lee Hooker)
Making Rain (Dolls – ‘Cause)
Rope (The Let Go Song)
Eight Men, Four Women (O.V. Wright) “I am crazy to sing this one”
Maimed Happiness (Dolls – One Day)
Better Than You (Dolls – ‘Cause)
Big City
Temptation to Exist (Dolls – ‘Cause)
Crazy For Love
New Song (“Don’t make me wonder”)
You Don’t Know What Love Is (Billie Holiday)
I Ain’t Got Nothin’ (Dolls – One Day)
Bohemian Love Pad
Take A Good Look At My Good Looks (Dolls – One Day)
Lookin’ For A Kiss
My Reverie (Sarah Vaughn / Tony Bennett)
Animals Medley

And I’m now leaving for RI in five hours. If I didn’t at least need a wee bit of sleep, I could have kept writing until dawn.

p.p.s. Don't forget to check out Teenage Kicks Top 100 of the decade.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Again ... Some Sports Stories Aren't About Sports

I really love when real men step up and surprise us!!!

Josh Cribbs walks with late coach's son on his senior night

In a dismal year for the Cleveland Browns, wide receiver/returner Josh Cribbs has proved to be one of the only bright spots. Last month he showed he's equally good off the field.

The Pro Bowler traveled to Berea, OH to walk onto the field on senior night with the son of one of his former college coaches. Michael Drake, a senior receiver at Stow High School, lost his father, Mike, in 2005 to lymphoma. He had assumed he'd be accompanied by his mother and sister for senior night introductions and was stunned when he saw Cribbs arrive minutes before the game.

''I looked, then looked away, then said, 'Why are you here?''' Michael recalled. ''I was shocked.''

A receiver, cornerback and holder for extra points, Michael said Cribbs offered advice before his final game.

''He said, 'Play your heart out. This is it. Give it your all. Don't ever stop on any play. Keep pushing,''' Michael said. ''I almost felt worried. I didn't want to look bad for him.''

Michael's late father recruited Cribbs to play at Kent State and served as a father figure to the Washington, D.C. native during his time at Kent. Mike Drake was the offensive coordinator for the Golden Flashes during Cribbs's freshman and sophomore seasons. Cribbs played quarterback in college and credits Drake for helping him drive home the fundamentals that he still uses today. So, when the idea of returning for senior night was pitched to Cribbs this summer, he didn't hesitate.

It's a small gesture, but it says a lot about the character of Cribbs. He apparently didn't feel the need to talk about it publicly; this happened Oct. 30 and, as far as I can tell, yesterday's report in the Akron Beacon Journal is the first it's been mentioned. Similarly, Drake's mother is quoted in the piece as saying that Cribbs took great pains to underplay his presence at the game for fear of taking away the spotlight from Michael and the other seniors. This shows a humility that other professional football players could sometimes stand to emulate.

By Chris Chase,202608

Monday, November 2, 2009

It's Only Rock & Roll ...

On Saturday, September 2nd, 1995, my brother Trip & I drove to Cleveland, Ohio for the inaugural Rock & Roll Hall Of Concert. It was completely insane; Dylan, Springsteen, Chuck Berry, Johnny Cash, Mellecamp, James Browne, Soul Asylum, Dr, John, Bon Jovi, John Fogerty , Al Green, The Kinks, The Pretenders … the list just rolled on and on.

Well, this passed week, the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame staged a benefit concert at Madison Square Garden. This time, the show was spread over two nights … but all the stars came out to play again. What can I say??? Simply AMAZING!!!

1) A killer 20 minute film clip covering the history of rock & roll. And, it is worth noting that if you ever get to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame – go see the film clips – they will blow your mind.

2) Tom Hanks gives a great speech on having to tell your Dad that: this music means something to ME!!! That's why I have to play it LOUD!!!"

3) Followed up Jerry Lee Lewis playing a solo/piano version of "Whole Lot Of Shaking"

Already I know it's gonna be a great night. The sound is PERFECT!

Crosby, Stills & Nash (with band) take the stage to start their set:
The set included: Woodstock, Marikesh Express, Almost Cut My Hair, as they say – the hits just kept on coming.

Bobbie Raitt joins them; she sings lead on "Love Has No Pride" - Then Bonnie stays on stage while Stills sings "Midnight Rambler" - Jackson Browne joins them: The Pretender. And this is followed by James Taylor: Mexico

Love The One You're With – well, this just smoked, where all the singers traded lead vox. Then CS&N added a Buffalo Springfield song: Rock & Roll Woman - Ending with an all hands on deck version of "Teach Your Children"

Second Set:
Another great film montage. Then Paul Simon and his band take the stage and play the hits: Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes - Me & Julio - You Can Call Me Al. Them with Dion: The Wanderer – Then CS&N join Paul for acoustic "Here Comes The Sun" – then back with his band, we get: Late In The Evening

Little Anthony & The Imperials go all acapella: Two People In The World (which blew the roof off the place).

Then ... Art Garfunkle walks out ... with no introduction, he just walks out to a center mic - the entire Garden goes ballistic.
Sounds Of Silence - Mrs. Robinson - Not Fade Away - The Boxer - Cecelia - Bridge Over Trouble Water

Third Set: Stevie Wonder & his band. After an embarrassing 15 minutes of no vocal mic (the crowd just kept cheering to keep Stevie smiling), this guy owned the stage.
Opening number: Dylan’s; Blowing In The Wind - (Uptight) Everything's Alright - I Was Made To Love Her - For Once In My Life - Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours - Boogie On A Reggae Woman. Smokey Robinson joined in: "Tracks Of My Tears" - John Legend sings: Mercy Mercy Me. Then a complete Stevie sings Micheal Jackson’s: The Way You Make Me Feel (in mid song, Stevie breaks down in tears). BB King joins in: The Thrill Is Gone. Stevie & the band rip “Livin' For The City” – then are joined by Sting for: Higher Ground/Roxanne/Higher Ground. Stevie brings it to a thunderous end with with Jeff Beck: Superstition.

Then ... Bruce ... and all bets are off!!
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out - Hold On, I'm Coming (with Sam Moore) - Soul Man (with Sam Moore) - The Ghost of Tom Joad (with Tom Morello) - Fortunate Son (with John Fogerty) - Proud Mary (with John Fogerty) - Pretty Woman (with John Fogerty) and Jungleland to end the set.

The encores are pure celebration: A Fine, Fine Boy (with Darlene Love) - Da Doo Ron Ron (with Darlene Love) - London Calling (with Tom Morello) - Badlands (with Tom Morello) - You May Be Right (with Billy Joel) - Only the Good Die Young (with Billy Joel) - New York State of Mind (with Billy Joel) - Born to Run (with Billy Joel) – Then ending with an 'all hands on deck' - Higher and Higher. Five plus hours later … it’s time to grab a cab.

Night 2

Introduction – Film clips (same as Night 1); Tom Hanks (same as Night 1). Then Great Balls of Fire - Jerry Lee Lewis

Aretha Franklin & her band: Baby I Love You - Chain of Fools - with Annie Lennox – (Then the show comes to a screaming halt): Some song from the broadway musical: Ragtime (It took the life out of MSG); New York, New York. Then Ms. Franklin gave the crowd what they wanted: Think: with Lenny Kravitz; and ending with: Respect. Overall, an OK set.

Jeff Beck (filling in for Eric Clapton, who cancelled due to illness) surpised me with just how entertaining he can be – and, just how thrilled he was to be there.
Drown In My Own Tears - Freeway Jam - As We Part As Lovers - People Get Ready (with Sting) - Let Me Love You Baby (with Buddy Guy) - Foxy Lady (with Billy Gibbons of ZZ Topp); Then an incredible instrumental version of The Beatles “A Day in the Life: - Note to Trip: This set was a whole lot of fun. Even you would have dug it!!

Now was the biggest surprize of the night for me. These next guys were a boatload of FUN!!! Metallica!!!!
For Whom the Bell Tolls - One - Turn the Page (Bob Seager cover) - Sweet Jane (w Lou Reed) - White Light/White Heat (w/ Lou Reed) - You Really Got Me (w/ Ray Davies) - All Day and All of the Night (w/ Ray Davies) - Iron Man (w/ Ozzy Osbourne) - Paranoid (w/ Ozzy Osbourne) – then a really big stunner, a perfect Stone Cold Crazy (A Queen cover), ending with: Enter Sandman

Then U2 doing what U2 do best: entertain the hell out of the crowd:
Vertigo – Magnificent - Because the Night (with Bruce Springsteen & Patti Smith) - I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For (w/ Bruce Springsteen),
Mysterious Ways - Where is the Love (w/ Black Eyed Peas), then ... the unannounced, HOLY SHIT moment of the night: Gimme Shelter - w/ Mick Jagger (Fergie, from The Black Eye Peas NAILED the female vocal part!). - Stuck In a Moment You Can't Get Out Of (w/ Mick Jagger) and closing with: Beautiful Day.

What can I say? It is very rare that nights deliver on the hype that surround them, but these two nights delivered … and then some. And, to this old guy, it was a great reminder, folks with guitars are still the best live ticket out there.