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Ace Frehley at Diamond Jo Casino

Ace Frehley at Diamond Jo Casino in Dubuque, IA

September 11, 2015
by Sal Serio

September 11th… a date that will live in infamy. Not only because of the tragedy in New York City and Pennsylvania in 2001, but because of the brutal rock ‘n roll concert that completely leveled Diamond Jo Casino in Dubuque, Iowa, in 2015! This show was apocalyptic! Another conspicuous anniversary was that this Dubuque concert was almost 40 years to the day since the definitive live album of the 1970s, ‘KISS Alive!’, was released.

The large concert room at Diamond Jo’s (named the Mississippi Moon Bar) has always been a favorite concert venue of mine because of it’s comfort level, excellent sight lines, and the sound is typically impeccable. The Ace Frehley concert on 9-11 was no exception… but, now if they could only do something about the train tracks on 5th Street that lead in to the casino. I literally waited almost a half hour for the train to move out of the intersection so I could get to the place!


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Carlos Santana

Santana - Forest Hills Stadium, Queens, NY, 8.14.15

by Michael Sherer

Carlos Santana has a new and first time all Spanish language CD out called Corazón, and he’s on tour for it. He’s been performing since the late 1960’s, getting a huge and very early break with 1969’s Woodstock Festival in upstate New York with approximately 500,000 people in attendance. Venues and its audiences are a big part of the concert experience. For this concert, a tennis stadium in Queens, NYC was the locale. Opened in 1923, the newly renovated and reopened Forest Hills Stadium has about 13,500 seats, with some 1,200 of them having been added in the lower section. It’s been about twenty years since the was last used for a concert, and it was ‘77 that it ceased to be used for professional tennis and the U.S. Open championship.

The place looked to be at full capacity, with a wide cross section of fans. This is a very good thing, as it’s indicative of timeless and quality music that appeals to all ages, ethnicities and genders. Santana himself is of Mexican descent, and grew up in the Bay Area of Northern California. San Francisco was, of course, an absolute hotbed of counter cultural activity during Santana’s formative years, so he was in the right place at the right time.


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Eddie Van Halen & David Lee Roth

Van Halen - Nikon at Jones Beach Theater, 8.13.15

by Michael Sherer

Since 2007, Van Halen has consisted of Eddie, Alex and Wolfgang Van Halen (son of Eddie and former wife Valerie Bertinelli) and original singer David Lee Roth. One wouldn’t be able to guess that Dave and the rest of Van Halen, especially he and Eddie, had a falling out in 1985 that led to twenty three year split when seeing them hit the stage at Jones Beach in Long Island, New York for their first of two shows there. The first thing we saw was Alex sit down at his sprawling drums. Then came Dave and Eddie sauntering out, spinning around arm-in-arm, and shaking hands while grinning at each other. Finally, Dave kissed Eddie’s hand.

Dave has said that they had the same same old conflicts immediately upon his return to the band, but my solid guess is that the joy and excitement of playing together in the group that they were in since the mid ‘70’s, and in front of huge adoring crowds, makes that go away for the duration of the performances. Surveying the packed audience of about 15,000, I saw a lot of guys in their 40’s and ‘50’s cheering them on. I fit right in as a 45 year old.


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Ginger Baker

Ginger Baker’s Jazz Confusion - BB King’s, NYC, 6.17.15

by Michael Sherer

As is often the case with jazz based groups, this band said nothing as they took the small stage of BB King’s and began delivering their first song, “Footprints”, by saxophonist Wayne Shorter. (This was their sole cover song.) The only man to eventually speak throughout the set was Baker, and his first words were about how he was in hospital and at death’s door with pneumonia just a couple weeks prior, but that God didn’t want him yet. Baker added that he thanks the Almighty for that.

Baker, 75, a habitual cigarette smoker for at least fifty five years and former heroin user for many years is actually quite lucky to be alive. He’s frail, but yet defies his outward weakened state when behind a drum set. Not with power, speed or flash, but with his lifelong gift of great timing, finesse, dynamics, accents and especially the difficult odd time signatures that pointedly separates him from the majority of rock drummers. Baker, after all, started as a jazz drummer in the ‘50’s, and has never left that mindset. If anyone in the audience was expecting even one Cream song, or anything resembling rock, they were in the wrong place. Baker, notoriously cantankerous and volatile, made it clear that has has no tolerance for any prodding from the crowd for such music. He summed this up by getting right to the point when quipping: “Hecklers Will Be Shot.”


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Belle & Sebastian stinking up the Pabst Theater

Courtney Barnett

Enduring the petty jealousy of Belle & Sebastian - Milwaukee, 6.19.15
by Sal Serio

I’m not sure who else recalls the sad condition of 1970s and 80s concerts when the headlining band would deliberately sabotage the opening group in various ways to ensure they would not be upstaged, but it seems those days have not entirely gone away. Truth be told, many elements of this concert pairing befuddled me. Diminutive yet charismatic Australian rocker Courtney Barnett has been surfing a wave of popularity, topping the CMJ charts, and appearing on major late night television programs. Yet, she was opening for boring old fart Scottish band Belle And Sebastian?


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Todd Rundgren

Todd Rundgren - The Highline Ballroom, NYC, 5.6.15

by Bruce Alexander

As he has been for well over forty years, Todd Rundgren is again out on tour promoting his new recording “Global.” Rundgren usually changes up his shows and it’s usually a mixed bag. This was certainly the case here.

Rundgren was actually the only musician on stage. There was a DJ and two dancing girls dressed in futuristic space age disco jumpsuits. Rundgren came out dancing as well, and did some aerobics for good measure. This was all with psychedelic, trippy background strobe lighting. It was a very weird show


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