Show Reviews

by Max Ink Staff Writers


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
(2288) 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
(1869) 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
(2412) 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
(1919) 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
(1592) 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
(1200) 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
(1732) 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
(1252) 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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Punky Meadows - photo by Michael Sherer

Punky Meadows - photo by Michael Sherer

Punky Meadows, BB King’s, NYC, 6.14.16

Show Review By Michael Sherer
Posted: Jun 2016
(2499) Page Views

Former Angel guitarist Edwin “Punky” Meadows has been completely out of the music world for decades. He was running a tanning salon in Virginia for many years. Hailing originally from Washington D.C., he was near home but far from what he’s known for, that being rocking out in a band on mostly Fender Stratocaster type guitars and paying close attention to his appearance while doing so.

With his first recording in 35 years and his first ever solo outing, called Fallen Angel, Meadows is back. This resurrection is very much owed to partnering musically with songwriter, guitarist and singer Danny Anniello. They wrote some songs together and things progressed from there. Danny was present on stage, as well as Chandler Mogel on vocals, Bob Pantella on drums, Charlie Calvin on keyboards, Randy Gregg on bass and two back singers named Jessie Wagner and Amy Anderson. Former Angel bassist Felix Robinson played bass on the record and performed on two of songs during the show. He normally plays the whole show on this tour but he wasn’t feeling well that night. The crowd was glad to have him at all, though.

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Cage the Elephant - Orpheum Theater Madison WI June 2016 - photo by Alexa Williams

Cage the Elephant - Orpheum Theater Madison WI June 2016 - photo by Alexa Williams

Cage The Elephant with Twin Peaks and Portugal. The Man - Orpheum Theater Madison WI June 11, 2016
Cage the Elephant conquers Madison's Orpheum Theater
Show Review By John Noyd
Posted: Jun 2016
(1583) Page Views

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 - photo by Michael Sherer

Zakir Hussain, Charles Lloyd & Eric Harland - photo by Michael Sherer

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

Show Review By Michael Sherer
Posted: Jun 2016
(1324) Page Views

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 - photo by Self portrait by Gordon Parks

Gordon Parks - photo by Self portrait by Gordon Parks

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

Show Review By Michael Sherer
Posted: May 2016
(387) Page Views

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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