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LIVE SHOW REVIEWS


Tavares

Tavares - BB King’s, NYC, 9.9.16

by Michael Sherer

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

Sheena Easton - BB King’s, NYC, 7.14.16

by Michael Sherer

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

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

by Michael Sherer

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

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

by Michael Sherer

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

Ohio Players - BB King’s, NYC, 7.16.16

by Michael Sherer

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

Chris Cornell with Fantastic Negrito - Overture Center Madison WI July 5, 2016

Higher Truth Tour
by Laura Sorensen

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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