Show Reviews

by Max Ink Staff Writers


Noah Gundersen High Noon Saloon

Noah Gundersen High Noon Saloon

Noah Gundersen with Silver Torches
High Noon Saloon October 12th, 2017
Show Review By John Noyd
Posted: Oct 2017
(1411) Page Views

A healthy helping of heart and soul powered Noah Gundersen’s Thursday night show at Madison’s High Noon Saloon. The five-piece band doubled up on keyboards and percussion to deliver a well-coordinated arsenal combating existential crises with ballistic conviction and social afflictions with vengeful chords. From the light-drenched staging to the well-executed pacing, Gundersen threw out musical life-lines and walked emotional tight-ropes with breathless power-ballads exuding a David and Goliath vibe, uniting the crowd and rallying hope all the while seamlessly moving from full band to trio then solo and back to full band. Opening with the slow burning, “After All,” and closing with the climatic, “Bad Desire,” the evening never stopped changing dynamics. A rotating wheel of funeral pyre finales and flickering intimate interludes that inspired alliances between dancing air-guitarists and romantic mosh-pit singers.
A far cry from his simpler acoustic folk beginnings, Gundersen’s recent album, “White Noise,” shows an artist whose compound sound drives earnest certainty into parading crusades and self-conflicting benedictions into crucial resolutions. In performance, the lengthier tunes like, “Cocaine, Sex and Alcohol,” and, “New Religion,” blossomed in epic connections dredging deep and soaring high as sister Abby’s violin swept through brother Jonny’s lusty drumming and ace guitarist in the shadows fleshed out Noah’s passionate passages with delicate intensity while supporting the roaring choruses with finely-tuned fury.
Opener Silver Torches consisted of lead singer Erik Walters playing a solo acoustic set that drew incredible fire from his bold, rich vocals for a ferocious busking of his new rockin’, “Let It Be A Dream.” Both acts took time to remove the spotlight from themselves and point out they had brought on tour a spokesperson for SOS Children’s Villages, an independent, non-governmental international development organization which has been working to meet the needs and protect the interests and rights of children since 1949. A giant clue as to Erik and Noah’s focus in song and beyond, their grateful sincerity filled the night. Frankly, compassion never sounded so fierce or so good.

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 - photo by Michael Sherer

- photo by Michael Sherer

Ted Nugent - BB King’s, NYC, 8.8.17

Show Review By Michael Sherer
Posted: Aug 2017
(1611) Page Views

Right wing politics and classic rock anthems come hand-in-hand at a Ted Nugent concert, and during his show in NYC, a much more diverse and liberal place than most any other, the Nuge needed to be careful and stayed clear of much talking about his politics. He stuck mainly to his meaty and very loud rock and roll for this nearly full club date in the heart of Times Square/tourist central location.

Supplying the volume were a stack of Kustom and Magnatone amplifiers. Nugent, bassist Greg Smith and drummer Jason Hartless could be heard from hundreds of feet away. Nugent, who in the ‘70’s wore a loin cloth on stage, opened with a energized rendition of America’s national anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner.”

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Mick Fleetwood and Anthony DeCurtis - photo by Gianna Bertoli

Mick Fleetwood and Anthony DeCurtis - photo by Gianna Bertoli

Mick Fleetwood in conversation with Anthony DeCurtis - 92Y, NYC, 8.1.17

Show Review By Michael Sherer
Posted: Aug 2017
(1622) Page Views

The first thing I was struck by was how very tall Mick Fleetwood is. At 6’6, lanky and dressed like an English aristocrat, the 70 year old drummer for Fleetwood Mac over its fifty year existence makes for quite an impression. The ensuing conversation between Fleetwood and Anthony DeCurtis, a veteran music based writer and journalist, centered around Fleetwood’s new book, called “Love That Burns - A Chronicle of Fleetwood Mac, Volume One, 1967-1974.” It was put out by Genesis Publications, a high end outfit based in England. On the cover of this very handsome and hand bound release is a doll made by Günther Kieser that was originally featured in the promotion of a Fleetwood Mac tour appearance in Munich, Germany in 1970. It’s included as a numbered print, co-signed by the artist and Fleetwood. It also includes illustrations by former band member Jeremy Spencer and selected memorabilia. Only 2,000 copies of the book were printed, rendering it an instant collector’s item. The cost? Well, be prepared to drum up the sum of 495 pounds, which is $643.

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McCoy Tyner Quartet - photo by Michael Sherer

McCoy Tyner Quartet - photo by Michael Sherer

McCoy Tyner Quartet - Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola at Lincoln Center, NYC, 7.18.17

Show Review By Michael Sherer
Posted: Jul 2017
(1290) Page Views

The Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame at Lincoln Center honored 2017 inductee McCoy Tyner at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola. The other inductees this year for the same honor are Tito Puente and Don Redman. It’s named after prominent financial contributor and supporter Ahmet Ertegun, the late co-founder of Atlantic Records in 1947 and a true jazz appreciator and aficionado. This prestigious honor is determined by vote between ten potential nominees by a fifteen musically orientated person panel. 

The concert began with Todd Stoll, Vice President of Education at Jazz at Lincoln Center, giving a thoughtful and sincere introduction, invoking Mr. Tyner’s importance and influence, and noting a bit about the induction process and history. From there, the other members of the quartet came to the stage and played for about fifteen minutes. Those musicians are bassist Gerald Cannon, drummer Francisco Mela, and saxophonist Sherman Irby. Mr. Tyner then joined them on a gorgeous Steinway & Sons grand house piano, whereby the whole quartet proceeded to play a stirring and excellent set.

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Yardbirds - photo by Michael Sherer

Yardbirds - photo by Michael Sherer

The Yardbirds - Highline Ballroom, NYC, 7.8.17

Show Review By Michael Sherer
Posted: Jul 2017
(1250) Page Views

The Yardbirds started in London, England way back in 1963. With a bunch of hits such as “For Your Love”, “Heart Full of Soul”, “Shapes of Things” and “Over Under Sideways Down” and as one of the inventors of the “rave up” and British psychedelic sounds, they are one of the most influential and copied groups of modern times. They were also one of the earliest British groups to earnestly cover American blues artists, including the Chicago blues of Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, Sonny Boy Williamson II and Elmore James. Songs such as “Smokestack Lightning”, “Good Morning Little School Girl”, “Boom Boom”, “I Wish You Would”, “Rollin’ and Tumblin’” and “I’m a Man” all came of this reverence and made their young audience aware of these relatively obscure black, American blues artists.

Additionally, the group launched the careers of guitarists Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page, as each of them, in that order, started out in the group. It was Beck that initially brought fuzz tone, sustain, reverb, feedback, distortion and hammer-on soloing that fit well and helped propel the increasingly raw style of British beat music which spawned heavier groups such as Birmingham’s Black Sabbath.

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CoCo Carmel, Bobby Whitlock & Ricky Byrd in background - photo by Michael Sherer

CoCo Carmel, Bobby Whitlock & Ricky Byrd in background - photo by Michael Sherer

Bobby Whitlock & CoCo Carmel, BB King’s, NYC, 6.13.17

Show Review By Michael Sherer
Posted: Jun 2017
(1574) Page Views

To paint an overall picture of Bobby Whitlock, it’s clear that he’s a versatile and talented pianist, guitarist, singer and songwriter that’s written or co written some very well known and classic songs, especially in the blues-rock vein. His best known are from Derek & The Dominoes’ only record, 1970’s Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. Whitlock wrote or co-wrote seven of the album’s fourteen tracks, including “Bell Bottom Blues,” “Tell the Truth”, “Anyday” and “Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad?”

Whitlock also played on George Harrison’s classic “All Things Must Pass,” (1971) and two records with Delaney & Bonnie in ‘69. It was through touring with them that Whitlock met Eric Clapton, who was also in their touring band. Clapton is, of course, the “Derek” of Derek & The Dominoes.

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Jimmy Webb & Graham Nash - photo by Michael Sherer

Jimmy Webb & Graham Nash - photo by Michael Sherer

The Cake And The Rain - A Tribute Concert To Jimmy Webb, Carnegie Hall, NYC, 5.3.17

Show Review By Michael Sherer
Posted: May 2017
(2206) Page Views

Legendary composer and lyricist Jimmy Webb had a well deserved tribute concert dubbed “The Cake And The Rain” at the highly prestigious and pristine sounding Carnegie Hall this past Wednesday evening. Proceeds go to the Alzheimer’s Association and I’ll Be Foundation, in behalf of Webb’s long time close friend and fellow songwriter Glen Campbell, who has unfortunately been stricken with the disease. Webb’s wife Laura Savini was the main organizer of this special event.

An eclectic gathering of artists were in tow to honor Webb’s long, successful musical journey. The concert coincides with the recent release of Webb’s autobiography, also entitled “The Cake And The Rain.” Webb, 70, played piano along with many of the performers. They included, in random order, Judy Collins, Art Garfunkel, Johnny Rivers, Graham Nash, Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, B.J. Thomas, Dwight Yoakam, Hanson, Toby Keith, Amy Grant, Michael Feinstein and Catherine Zita-Jones. They each sang two or three songs. Actor Michael Douglas (husband of Catherine Zita-Jones)  was the MC. Douglas and Webb were once roommates, hence their connection and long standing friendship.

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Jackie Mason - photo by Michael Sherer

Jackie Mason - photo by Michael Sherer

Jackie Mason - BB King’s, NYC, 5.6.17

Show Review By Michael Sherer
Posted: May 2017
(3085) Page Views

Jackie Mason has been on the comedy scene for sixty years, and is considered a living legend by many. He’s also had his share of controversy for his choice of material with such topics as politics, prostitution and race relations, as well as a major run in with Ed Sullivan when on his show in 1964. Sullivan had erroneously thought that Mason had given him the middle finger on air while performing, although Mason had in fact not. That’s a whole other story, though I’ll say that while the fallout was a disaster and derailed Mason’s career for two decades, it does provide a good antidote for Mason to tell during his show, as well as doing his famous impersonation of the wooden like Sullivan.

At 85, Mason (born Yacov Moshe Maza) has slowed down but he still has the goods and natural timing that a real comedian must have. And to his credit Mason has almost always written all of his own material. That also includes American politics and culture in general, observational commentary, international relations, antisemitism and Jewish culture. Mason is as Jewish centric as they come, (he refers to himself as “The Ultimate Jew”) and with his strong Yiddish based accent and highly distinct, staccato manner of speaking, he sounds like no one else. A critic for Time once wrote that he spoke to audiences “with the Yiddish locutions of an immigrant who just completed a course in English. By mail.”

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Michael Douglas, Stephen Galloway & Sherry Lansing - photo by Gianna Bertoli/Michael Priest Photography

Michael Douglas, Stephen Galloway & Sherry Lansing - photo by Gianna Bertoli/Michael Priest Photography

Sherry Lansing and Stephen Galloway in conversation with Michael Douglas, 92Y, NYC, 4.28.17

Show Review By Michael Sherer
Posted: May 2017
(1641) Page Views

There’s no doubt that Sherry Lansing has had a stellar and storied career in the film industry. She was the first female president of 20th Century Fox and later went on to become chairman of Paramount Pictures. She’s also been a very successful independent producer. Ms. Lansing recently met up with old friend and colleague Michael Douglas and author Stephen Galloway at the 92nd Street Y to discuss her biography, written by Mr. Galloway, titled “Leading Lady: Sherry Lansing And The Making of a Hollywood Groundbreaker.” Mr. Douglas took the role of moderator and was clearly comfortable asking questions surrounding the book and reminiscing about his long standing professional relationship with Ms. Lansing.

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Aimee Mann captivates the Barrymore audience - photo by Mary Sweeney/sweeneysphotography.com

Aimee Mann captivates the Barrymore audience - photo by Mary Sweeney/sweeneysphotography.com

Aimee Mann brings “Mental Illness” to Madison’s Barrymore Theatre 5.2.17

Show Review By Sal Serio
Posted: May 2017
(2864) Page Views

After more than 30 years in the role of “Music Reviewer” I am happy to report that the activity hasn’t become rote and automatic. Because, often I am pleasantly surprised by the concert experience, especially when it is outside the limitations of my initial expectations. After being asked to review last night’s Aimee Mann concert at the Barrymore in Madison, I definitely walked away feeling like I got way more than I initially bargained for (in my mind, that is). Which clearly begs the question, what did I expect? Well, first let’s look at the latest release by Aimee Mann, titled ‘Mental Illness’, a beautifully crafted album of strong material, anchored by Mann’s driving acoustic guitar rhythms and her lilting singing style. The 11 songs are typically in an introspective, borderline melancholy mood, perfect for a rainy day. But this shouldn’t shock anybody. Mann’s nearly 25 year solo career has been founded on this sort of emotion… a dark humor balanced by melodies that stick in your head long after the record is off the turntable. Akin to watching an excellent drama, and having it’s major themes stuck in your subconscious for days or weeks after.

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Bob Dylan circa 1963 - photo by Jim Marshall

Bob Dylan circa 1963 - photo by Jim Marshall

The Photography Show - Presented by AIPAD, March 30 - April 2, 2017, Pier 94, NYC

Show Review By Michael Sherer
Posted: Apr 2017
(1589) Page Views

Now in its 37th year, The Association of International Photography Art Dealers, (AIPAD), has been presenting its annual exhibition in New York City. This year it was at Pier 94 on 12th Ave at 55th Street. Featuring more than 85 prominent photography galleries from throughout the country, this is a major show indeed. There’s so much to see throughout the isles of this spacious venue. There’s a bar on hand as well. A variety of genres are on display, including contemporary, modern, nineteenth-century and photo-based media. There are also talks given by photographers and artists. This year I was especially keen on hearing veteran photographer Lee Friedlander. He and his wife Maria were interviewed by their grandson Giancarlo. They’re all in business together owning the longstanding Haywire Press, which publishes Lee’s work since he started photographing in the late ‘50’s. Much of that work is known for its urban “social landscapes,” with many of Lee’s images incorporating store-front reflections, structures outlined by fences, street signs, etc. He also loves jazz and took photos of many musicians of this American invented genre, including John Coltrane’s Giant Steps, that wound up on many covers of Atlantic Records in the ‘60’s.

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The Zombies - photo by Michael Sherer

The Zombies - photo by Michael Sherer

The Zombies - The Town Hall, NYC, 3.25.17

Show Review By Michael Sherer
Posted: Apr 2017
(1687) Page Views

I was quite pleased to be present for The Zombies’ last tour as it came through the most major of all its U.S. stops, my hometown of NYC. And what a venue to experience it, the fabled Town Hall, one of the oldest and charming venues in the city. Opened in 1921 in the Times Square area with a capacity of 1,500, its acoustics and sight lines are excellent, especially from my seat a few rows away from center stage.

Some contextual history for this band is in order. They were founded in 1961 in St. Albins, Hertfordshire, England by Rod Argent, Paul Atkinson and Hugh Grundy, with Colin Blunstone and Paul Arnold joining soon after. All were late teenagers still in school. They were originally called The Mustangs, with Arnold suggesting changing it to the far more unique The Zombies. After scoring some hits, the band unfortunately broke up in December of 1967, months before their second record was released in April, 1968. That record, Odyssey & Oracle, is ranked number 100 on Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. This final tour is to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its recording. It contains one of their best songs, written by Rod Argent, called “Time Of The Season.” It was a big hit, peaking at number 3 on Billboard’s Hot 100 in 1969, after building up from its release the year before.

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