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Cage the Elephant - Orpheum Theater Madison WI June 2016

Cage The Elephant with Twin Peaks and Portugal. The Man - Orpheum Theater Madison WI June 11, 2016

by John Noyd

Returning nearly one year to the day, Cage the Elephant once again stormed Madison’s Orpheum Theater, packing a powerful new album along with a lightning-sharp line-up comprised of Chicago’s Twin Peaks and Portland’s Portugal. the Man. Originally slated for the Alliant Center, the downgrade in venue size only made the sold-out evening more the compact powder-keg of explosive commotion; capping one of first really hot days of the summer with one of this year’s hottest nights for monumental rock.

Big, loud bands practiced in the art of fusing electric blues, crunchy funk and jammy psychedelia into pro-active party-jams, the killer triple bill stoked technically proficient expedition of soulful out-of-control rock ‘n roll. Portugal, the smallest and least animated of the three, upped the ante with an energetic emcee assigned to pumping up the already-rabid crowd who also provided a valuable service grabbing exclusive on-stage video for a few lucky stage-huggers. The five-piece Twin Peaks shaked and quaked backed by two guitarists, three lead vocalists plus keyboards, bass and drums that kept them on a runaway train for their entire thirty minutes set. While headliners Cage, expanded their super-tight quartet with two additional players to upgrade their heavy sound into rafter-wrecking proportions.

A tight-knit nucleus of admirers converged early to catch Twin Peaks’ well-tended engine mow over a solid concoction of sweat-soaked and focused indie-rock romps. By the end of the Windy City band’s blustery set, the Orpheum’s main floor was a dense hive backed up to the sound board ready for Portugal’s churning journey. The rainbow-rockers’ galactic crashes and cosmic gospel united the audience in a communal trance that sky-rocketed in the last third of their hour-long set after a firing shot of the Stones’, “Gimme Shelter,” erupted into face-melting renditions of, “All The Light,” and, “The Home;” throwing in a roaring, “She’s So Heavy,” portion of The Beatles’, “I Want You,” before closing with a thundering, “Purple, Yellow Red and Blue.” A well-deserved breather gave people time to recover from Portugal’s feverish finish and to prepare for the evening’s main event. Fittingly, the core members of Cage slowly strolled out one at a time to ever increasing applause until lead singer Matt Schultz made his entrance, announcing, “Last time was memorable, let’s one up that shit.” Breaking into a bombastic, “Cry Baby,” from their recent, “Tell Me I’m Pretty,” Matt launched himself into the crowd,-surfing over a sea of appreciative supporters. Aided by fog-machines, strobe-lights and multi-colored lasers, the band quickly made good on their ballsy promise.

Informing the theater they were heading home for a short break after their Madison show, Cage the Elephant’s set list took on an sympathetic layer of homesickness. The group’s desolate themes telegraphed in jack-hammered ambitions appeared somewhat paradoxical; their potent odes to isolated heartbreak packaged in pro-active catalysts that bonded fans in pathological solidarity. As the crowd sang along to, “Back Against the Wall,” with full-throttled honesty, “..you got me where you want me again, and I can’t turn away,” the lyric’s unrequited insights met a tidal wave of compassion. The song continues, “I’m hangin’ by a thread and I’m feelin’ like a fool.” Closing the night with a solid three song encore and another crowd-surfing turn, the Schultz brothers would be fools to think anyone would leave them hanging on anything but hopes for another song.




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Zakir Hussain, Charles Lloyd & Eric Harland

Charles Lloyd, Zakir Hussain & Eric Harland, The Town Hall, NYC, 6.11.16

by Michael Sherer

Atmosphere and cerebral/spiritual fortification are the first things I think of when I reflect on the excellent concert by the trio of saxophonist Charles Lloyd, tabla player Zakir Hussain and drummer Eric Harland. In the tradition of John Coltrane’s “Sheets Of Sound,” this group knew when to pour it thick and when to hold back and be very quiet and mysterious. While veteran Lloyd and the much younger Harland are more from a jazz - avant garde school, Hussain, also a veteran musician but not as far back as Lloyd, brings his spiritual, Indian background and excellence. All three men are so high caliber, and Lloyd plays piano and flute as well. He also makes some sounds on the drum set, and he and Harland switched places a couple times as Harland made some sounds on the piano.




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Gordon Parks

Gordon Parks Foundation Annual Award Dinner & Auction - Cipriani, NYC, May 24th, 2016

by Michael Sherer

On May 24th The Gordon Parks Foundation held their annual awards dinner and auction to honor the late Gordon Parks. The elegant venue was at Cipriani, just east of Times Square in New York City. The mission of the foundation is, in their words “to honor individuals who have contributed their lives to the arts and permanently preserves the works of Gordon Parks and other artists, making it available to the public through exhibitions, books, and electronic media, and supports artistic and educational activities that advance what Gordon described as “the common search for a better life and a better world.”

Honorees include Founders of Public School and Creative Directors of DKNY Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow, artist and entertainer Janelle Monae, photographer LaToya Ruby Frazier and Equal Justice Initiative founder Bryan Stevenson. Leonard Lauder and Judy Glickman Lauder were presented with the Gordon Parks Patron of the Arts Awards. The evening’s Co-Chairs included Alicia Keys, Kaseem ‘Swizz Beatz” Dean, Karl Lagerfeld, Usher IV, Grace Raymond and Alexander Soros. Guests included Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Robert DeNiro, Ronald Perelman, Sheila Nevins, Russell Simmons and Kathleen Cleaver, with musical performances by Jon Batiste and Stay Human.




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Keith Richards, 1971

Norman Seeff at The Photography Show by AIPAD, April 14-17, 2016, Park Avenue Armory, NYC

by Michael Sherer

For the past 36 years The Association of International Photography Art Dealers, AIPAD, has been presenting its annual exhibition in the historic Park Avenue Armory in New York City. Featuring more than 85 prominent photography galleries from throughout the country, this is a major show. A variety of genres are on display, including contemporary, modern, nineteenth-century and photo-based media. I always have a great time and stroll up and down the labyrinth like set up in this very charming and classic venue.




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Freddy Cole

Freddy Cole & band - Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, NYC, 2.11.16

by Michael Sherer

It was a real treat to hear this living legend, especially in the spacious, classy and high rise venue Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, a part of Jazz at Lincoln Center. It’s located adjacent to Columbus Circle on Broadway at 60th Street, Manhattan. Mr. Cole, 84, still plays piano and sings at a high level and has a fine band. They are Harry Allen on tenor saxophone, Herman Burney on bass, Henry Conerway on drums and Chris Kaiser on guitar. Each instrument sounded clear and the blend of them all was very tasteful. The volume was just right.

The theme was love songs for Valentine’s Day, and there were many gems. My favorites were “Blame It On My Youth,” “Where Can I Go Without You,” “Since I Fell In Love With You,” “Never Trust A Woman’s Kiss,” “Say That You’ll Be Mine,” “It Was All My Fault” and “I’ll Be Seeing You.”




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