Show Reviews

by Max Ink Staff Writers


Mary Wilson - photo by Michael Sherer

Mary Wilson - photo by Michael Sherer

Mary Wilson, BB King’s, NYC, 2.3.17

Show Review By Michael Sherer
Posted: Feb 2017
(1657) Page Views

Mary Wilson has been a part of the music and cultural fabric for about fifty five years through being an original member of The Supremes. Coming from humble beginnings in the Brewster-Douglass Housing Projects in Detroit, The Supremes were one of Motown’s earliest signings in ‘61 since Berry Gordy formed it in ‘59. It’s been forty years since Mary left The Supremes, at which point they disbanded. Diana Ross left in ‘70, with various members coming and going in the intervening years. It’s the original trio of Mary, Florence Ballard and Diane Ross (changed to Diana) that’s most fondly remembered by most true fans.

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Ron & Ernie Isley - photo by Michael Sherer

Ron & Ernie Isley - photo by Michael Sherer

The Isley Brothers - BB King’s, NYC, 1.14.17

Show Review By Michael Sherer
Posted: Jan 2017
(1824) Page Views

The Isley Brothers are one of the most legendary and important groups in R & B and music period. Among other distinctions, they have a major one of being the only group to have been in the top 50 of the Hot 100 charts during the ‘50’s, ‘60’s, ‘70’s, ‘80’s, ‘90’s and 2000’s.

Founded as kids in ‘54 in Cincinnati Ohio, they consisted of brothers Ronald, O’Kelly, Rudolph and Vernon Isley. They were initially a gospel singing group until Vernon’s death a few years into their existence after he was tragically hit by a car at the age of thirteen while riding his bike in their neighborhood. This devastated the remaining three brothers and they temporally disbanded out of major grief. It wouldn’t be until ‘59, and after having relocated to Englewood, New Jersey that the young men found formidable success, as their first big hit song that year, “Shout,” went on to sell over a staggering million copies. After bouncing around between a few record labels, including Motown, they would find their true calling with a more funky, hybrid and sophisticated sound in the late ‘60’s. By then they were on their own resurrected label, T-Neck, which had previously been distributed by Atlantic Records a few years prior. It was shut down after some time when Atlantic dropped them and they tried their luck on Motown. Seeking much more artistic and overall control, they resurrected T-Neck in ‘68 with Buddah Records now distributing it. (That would change again to the much more powerful Epic in ‘73.)

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Lee Rocker - photo by Michael Sherer

Lee Rocker - photo by Michael Sherer

APAP - Hilton Hotel, NYC, January 6th - 10th, 2017

Show Review By Michael Sherer
Posted: Jan 2017
(1865) Page Views

Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) is one of my favorite music based event series to come around every January. Held at NYC’s flagship Hilton Hotel on 6th Avenue at 54th Street, it consists of loads of eclectic showcases of musical artists/groups, workshops, luncheons, discussions and more. This includes many tribute bands/artists and original artists performing. This year I was most interested in guitarist Larry Carlton and John Pizzarelli playing together, the Branford Marsalis Quartet, Lee Rocker of the Stray Cats, (featured in photo) Peaches & Herb, Terence Blanchard and Heart To Heart, which is a tribute to Heart that features two former members, those being bassist Steve Fossen and drummer Michael Derosier. There are tons more.

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Adam West (Television's Batman) - photo by Michael Sherer

Adam West (Television's Batman) - photo by Michael Sherer

New York Comic Con - Jacob Javitz Center, NYC, October 6th - 9th, 2016

Show Review By Michael Sherer
Posted: Oct 2016
(629) Page Views

I always look forward to the annual New York Comic Con convention, held at the Javitz Center and other surrounding venues. Designed as a fan convention covering comics, animation, graphic novels, Japanese manga comics, video games, movies, toys and television shows, the convention has grown, to borrow a familiar related phrase, “in leaps and bounds” since being formed in 2006. In fact, that would be an understatement. It’s a massive success, with a staggering 180,000 fans attending this year’s three day convention.

Produced by ReedPop, it’s a blast for these fans that come in droves and often dressed up in a comic related persona. Personally, I’m especially interested in the actors and personalities that represent characters they’ve played. Some of the actors appearing at the convention haven’t portrayed a character per se. Adam West, (pictured) who of course played Batman in the 1960’s television show, was a highlight for me. Others were, in random order, Lee Majors, Geena Davis, Matt Damon and Keanu Reeves.

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KT Tunstall showing off her Bucky Badger - photo by True Endeavors

KT Tunstall showing off her Bucky Badger - photo by True Endeavors

KT Tunstall - Barrymore Theater September 23rd 2016

Show Review By John Noyd
Posted: Sep 2016
(2392) Page Views

Having decided to start fresh, Scotland’s KT Tunstall downsized her life and moved to California. Thinking she would focus on music for television or film,  she found herself instead waking up at night with big pop choruses in her head. Perhaps it was driving around L.A. listening to Tom Petty and Fleetwood Mac or driving through Laurel Canyon where so much great music was born.  Unable to ignore the songs brewing in her brain, KT went about capturing them on tape and found herself with a record. The idea of family and community resonates through KIN with the album veering away from her previous collection’s downbeat folk to reconnect with her debut’s brash, upstart pop: engineered in embraceable lyrics and filled with insatiable hooks. “A songwriter’s brain is like a juicer blending all their influence together,” KT says, “and you hope you come up with something original, and not something that tastes like beets.” Whether drawing from her love of Patti Smith and Bo Diddley or inspired by seventies FM radio, KT stokes that star-making machinery with big beats and even bigger emotions.
Kicking off her Madison show with a story about her current manager, Jeff, who hails from Milwaukee, and gave her a special gift for the Madison gig after a conversation she had with him about KT being such a honey badger. Tearing off her jacket to reveal a Bucky Badger muscle shirt before launching into a rousing, “If Only,” a pattern was set that KT employed through her nearly two hour show. Tales of song’s meaning, lessons from watching other performers, moving to Venice Beach, the passing of her Dad, all these were tools for KT to connect and engage with the Barrymore crowd. Teaching choruses, starting handclapping choirs and reading t-shirts of the crowd; there was a genuine warmth beneath her rockin’ swagger. Noticing children in the audience after singing a song with a less than family-friendly phrase or two, she explained those words were actually just, “Scottish.”
A veritable dynamo, the pint-sized singer, songwriter and guitarist bounced happily all over the stage, duck-walking and scissor-kicking while her husky voice roared in the rock-pop anthems and curled like a kitten in the tender well-crafted ballads. Ms. Tunstall’s energy was positively infectious, bringing the crowd to their feet and energizing her talented band-mates to match her inexhaustible passion. As a long-time songwriter, KT appreciates other songwriter’s songs as well; injecting a subtle nod to, “Seven Nation Army,” into one of her tunes, melting a good chunk of, “Walk Like An Egyptian,” into her, “Hold On,” and adding a killer cover of Chaka Khan’s, “Ain’t Nobody,” into her encore; insisting a proper Friday night out had to include a cover. Claiming the new record has found her the happiest she’s ever been, KT ended the evening sharing her answer to the meaning of life; enjoy yourself. Whether fanatical fan or casual observer, KT went all out to guarantee any time spent with her insured everyone absolutely enjoyed themselves.

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Tavares - photo by Michael Sherer

Tavares - photo by Michael Sherer

Tavares - BB King’s, NYC, 9.9.16

Show Review By Michael Sherer
Posted: Sep 2016
(1962) Page Views

Before I discuss this show, let me provide some background. Tavares are a group of five Cape Verdean brothers from New Bedford, MA. They’ve been around since the late ‘60’s, and started to get successful in the mid ‘70’s while on Capital Records. A big further break came with their inclusion of the hugely popular Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, released in the last days of ‘77. They had a version of “More Than A Woman” on it, with the Bee Gees original version being more successful, but both are strong and defined the sound of the time. Unfortunately the group didn’t sustain more big hits after that, but could continue touring. With some hiatuses throughout the decades since, they still tour. Currently it’s with four of the five guys.

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Sheena Easton - photo by Michael Sherer

Sheena Easton - photo by Michael Sherer

Sheena Easton - BB King’s, NYC, 7.14.16

Show Review By Michael Sherer
Posted: Aug 2016
(2548) Page Views

At 57 Sheena Easton still looks hot. Especially in her tight fitting blue dress and silver high heels. She’s put on some weight since being in her 20’s during her ‘80’s heyday, but she’s still quite sexy. And she can still sing well and hit the notes. This little girl from Glasgow, Scotland was very big in the early to mid ‘80’s, but as she noted herself during the show she didn’t sustain that popularity past that era and most all of her successful songs are from then. But hits she has, as well as a very unique distinction in being the first and only artist in history to have a Top 5 hit on five different Billboard charts consecutively, with Morning Train (9 to 5) (Pop & Adult Contemporary), “We’ve Got Tonight” with Kenny Rogers (Country), “Telefone (Long Distance Love Affair)” (Dance), and “Sugar Walls” (R&B). Easton’s other hits include the James Bond theme “For Your Eyes Only”, “Strut”, “U Got the Look” and “The Arms of Orion” both with Prince, who wrote and produced them, “The Lover in Me” and “What Comes Naturally”. “For Your Eyes Only” is a beautiful song that Sheena delivered very well here. The theme song from the ‘82 James Bond film of the same name, it captures the 007 franchise at its height of popularity in the late ‘70’s/early ‘80’s with Roger Moore as the lead. For me he was the best Bond. Sheena also has the distinction of being the only singer of any Bond film to be shown singing the theme song.

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Bobby Rydell & Anthony DeCurtis - photo by Michael Sherer

Bobby Rydell & Anthony DeCurtis - photo by Michael Sherer

Bobby Rydell in conversation with Anthony DeCurtis, 92Y, NYC, 7.27.16

Show Review By Michael Sherer
Posted: Jul 2016
(2039) Page Views

This former late 1950’s/early 1960’s teen idol with the highest and most hardened pompadour of them all is now 74. He has one of the deepest stories to tell of his peers. With a book out this year cleverly titled “Teen Idol On The Rocks,” Bobby had an engaging and illuminating discussion with veteran music writer and commentator Anthony DeCurtis. Anthony gave a lovely and thoughtful introduction to bring Bobby out to the intimate audience af the 100 plus year old institution 92 Y on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Anthony noted that as a fellow Italian American and music buff, he’s had much interest in Bobby, who’s real name is Robert Louis Ridarelli. As often is the case, very ethnic names are changed to a shorter, neutral sounding one. Bobby did just that at the start of his career.

The title of Bobby’s book is a double entendre, as he turned heavily to vodka after the passing of his longtime wife and high school sweetheart from cancer several years ago. This led to Bobby critically needing a very risky double organ transplant of his liver and kidneys by 2012. Had he not done so then, he would have had a very short time to live. This highly serious matter was discussed, as were other painful aspects of his life, such as his mother being bi-polar and having a cruel streak throughout Bobby’s life. Given how important family is in the traditional Italian ethos, it was all the more problematic to Bobby and his family members.

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Booker T. Jones - photo by Michael Sherer

Booker T. Jones - photo by Michael Sherer

Booker T. Jones Band, City Winery, NYC, 7.26.16

Show Review By Michael Sherer
Posted: Jul 2016
(1678) Page Views

Booker T. Jones is best known for being the namesake of Stax Records’ house band, Booker T. & The M.G.‘s, after joining the Memphis, TN based company in ‘62 at the age of eighteen. Booker was a local Memphis youth. The company had been formed in ‘57 as Satellite Records but its name was changed to Stax in ‘61. Although the area was quite black, the company was founded by two white siblings and business partners, Jim Stewart and his sister Estelle Axton, who came fully aboard the following year after Stewart began it. Stax is a clever combination of their names. Although neither sibling had any experience or even much knowledge of soul music, they embraced those around them who did and went fully in that direction. The label soon came to represent authentic Southern soul at its best and the envy of many.

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Ohio Players horn section - photo by Michael Sherer

Ohio Players horn section - photo by Michael Sherer

Ohio Players - BB King’s, NYC, 7.16.16

Show Review By Michael Sherer
Posted: Jul 2016
(1291) Page Views

The Dayton, Ohio area of the middle of the mid west isn’t known for much special, but musically they have a claim that is: The Ohio Players. This is one the premiere R & B/funk bands of the ‘late ‘60’s and ‘70’s that actually goes back in their first incarnation to ‘59 as the Ohio Untouchables. And they’re still around, albeit with many breaks along the way since the mid ‘80’s. None of the very original members are in the group, but two early ‘70’s guys are, that being drummer Jimmy “Diamond” Williams and keyboardist Billy Beck. Beck is a major contributor in the songwriting department.

With a three piece horn section of trombone, sax and trumpet adding to the bass heavy, romping funk, these guys tore up the house. ‘70’s classics such as Fire, Sweet Sticky Thing, I Want To Be Free, Heaven Must Be Like This, Love Rollercoaster, Who’d She Coo? and more were played at top level by the current band. I was especially impressed by bassist Darwin Dortch. The bass is, of course, so very key in funk type of music like this.

With the entire band locked in and swinging, the crowd was was really into it. A person next to me stood up and danced to some songs. The only problem with standing is that this venue is usually a seated one, (as it was on this night) so people behind him were blocked. But it’s not easy to stay contained with a blast of great sounding, vigorous R & B/funk of this caliber coming at you.

Diamond did the talking, and explained why he has the numbers ‘72 on his stick bag. He said it was the year he joined the band and because he was voted number 72 in a Rolling Stone drummers poll. (Or it could have been Modern Drummer magazine.)

Be sure to catch these mid westerners for anything but a middle of the road show. They’re front and center and in your face.

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Chris Cornell does the Overture Center in Madison solo acoustic - photo by Sal Serio

Chris Cornell does the Overture Center in Madison solo acoustic - photo by Sal Serio

Chris Cornell with Fantastic Negrito - Overture Center Madison WI July 5, 2016
Higher Truth Tour
Show Review By Laura Sorensen
Posted: Jul 2016
(1871) Page Views

The show opened with a half hour acoustic performance by Fantastic Negrito, a single performer accompanied by a backup guitarist.  Negrito had plenty of wit and humor while also addressing some very serious events in his personal life that included the shooting death of his brother at the age of fourteen, and a near fatal car accident in 2000 that put Negrito in a coma for four weeks. His music is very heartfelt and expressive, full of passion, a great intro to the headlining performance by Chris Cornell.

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John Mayer, Bill Kreutzmann & Bob Weir - photo by Michael Sherer

John Mayer, Bill Kreutzmann & Bob Weir - photo by Michael Sherer

Dead & Company, Citi Field, Queens, NYC, 6.25.16

Show Review By Michael Sherer
Posted: Jun 2016
(1345) Page Views

Citi Field holds approximately 45,000 people, and on this splendid summer night a strong sense of nostalgia for the past and of closure for what’s left of the Grateful Dead was palatable as they perform what could be their last tour. Over fifty years on since forming as The Warlocks in Palo Alto, CA., this can hardly be a surprise.

Original members consist of Bob Weir on guitar and vocals and Bill Kreutzmann on drums. Mickey Hart, who joined in ‘68 as a second drummer, is also in the band. Missing is bassist Phil Lesh. Oteil Burbridge is in his place, and Jeff Chimenti is on keyboards, a chair that’s had several musicians after the death of original keyboardist Ron “Pigpen” Mckernan, who passed in ‘73 from a burst ulcer as a result of excessive drinking. The heart of the band, guitarist, songwriter and vocalist Jerry Garcia, passed in ‘95 from heart failure.

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