Showing posts with label concerts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label concerts. Show all posts

Monday, August 10, 2015

How I spent my Friday night


This is how I spent my Friday night last week.

That would be, as you might discern from the photographs from my indispensable iPhone, spending an hour and a half or so at the Loretta Lynn concert at Omaha's Holland Performing Arts Center. Third row center.
 

As the cliché goes, "a good time was had by all." Especially Loretta, I think.
 

THE COUNTRY legend is 83 years old now, and she has more voice left than many singers 15 years younger than herself. She even fielded a few requests from the crowd of about 1,000, including one song she hadn't performed in a decade and a half.

She only struggled with a few lines. At 54, I doubt I would fare as well with a song I'd sung last week in the shower.

This was a new concert experience for me -- a show that was the stage equivalent of sitting down at your favorite aunt's kitchen table, drinking strong coffee and telling stories. That, my friend, is something that leaves you feeling blessed for the simple things in life, which turn out to be some of the biggest things of all.

Best yet, she says she's about to start on a new album with Jack White. Can't wait.


Monday, December 09, 2013

Sequester, bane of man's inspiring


You can look at this video of a glorious flash mob by the The United States Air Force Band a couple of ways.

First, the pop-up Christmas concert at the National Air and Space Museum was a glorious thing -- an unexpected musical encounter with beauty and joy. If this version of Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" doesn't move your heart, you may not have one.

Second, The USAF Band has been reduced to staging flash mobs. Thank your local member of Congress for that. It's too bad ol' Johann Sebastian never wrote a little something called the "Sequester Blues."

Ironically, it's those same trolls who befoul the U.S. Capitol who are most likely to see a performance of this scale by a military band. In the federal universe, Washington, D.C., is the center of gravity -- or, if you like, the black hole that sucks everything toward itself.

Still, even in Washington, a military orchestra has to resort to a flash mob. The sequester forbids the armed services from spending any of its own money on promotional or "community-outreach" events. This means that if you're a fan of service bands, you're seriously out of luck out here in the provinces.

http://odc.omaha.com/index.php?u_page=5002&p=4131
Last year's Heartland of America Band concert
IN OMAHA, the annual holiday concert by the Air Force's Heartland of America Band, based at Offutt Air Force Base here, used to be a glorious thing. For us and our friends, it was a Christmas tradition. In recent years, budget cuts shrank . . . and shrank . . . and shrank the band. This year, the sequester killed the Christmas concert.
A 26-year tradition of downtown Omaha holiday concerts by the Air Force's Heartland of America Band will end this year, a victim of federal budget cuts.

The Omaha World-Herald had sponsored the popular series each year since 1987, giving away free tickets to readers who sent in coupons clipped from the newspaper.

But the rules of the budget sequestration forbid the service branches from spending any money on promotional or community outreach events. It's the same rule that has grounded the Navy Blue Angels and Air Force Thunderbirds precision-flight teams and canceled a summer air show at Offutt Air Force Base.

“We're sad that this tradition is coming to an end. I think the Heartland of America Band is sad, too,” said Joel Long, The World-Herald's communications director. “But with the current state of the sequester and financial constraints, there was no other choice.”

In place of the downtown concerts — held since 2005 at the Holland Performing Arts Center — a much smaller band will play a series of community holiday concerts at local high schools, said Doug Roe, the band's director of operations. Suburban Newspapers Inc., a World-Herald subsidiary, will underwrite concerts Dec. 14 in Bellevue, Dec. 15 in Gretna, and Dec. 20 and 21 in Papillion. The Opinion-Tribune newspaper will sponsor a concert Dec. 8 in Glenwood, Iowa.

“These high school auditoriums aren't the Holland Performing Arts Center,” Roe said. “But through the medium of music, we're still going to entertain.”

Military bands in America date back to the colonial era, a time when commanders sometimes used music to guide troops in battle. Bands always have played at funerals, promotions, command changes and military balls.

In the modern era, their public concerts also are a public relations tool — and for many civilians, their only direct contact with the armed forces.

“For that hour and a half we're on stage, we ARE the Air Force, we ARE the military,” Roe said.

But budget cuts have battered military bands generally in recent years, and the Heartland of America Band in particular.

In 2011, Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., persuaded her House colleagues to slash the Pentagon's music budget from $388 million to $200 million a year.

“Spending $388 million of the taxpayers' money on military music does not make our nation more secure,” McCollum said in a message posted last year on her House website. “It is excessive and a luxury the Pentagon can no longer afford.”

That prompted the Air Force to cut 103 band positions across the service, eliminating two of the 12 active-duty bands and sharply cutting two others, including the Heartland of America Band.

As recently as 2007, the Heartland Band featured 60 airmen. That was cut to 45 in an earlier round of budget cuts, and then to 16 in June. The eight-state region it used to cover — stretching from Montana to Iowa, and North Dakota to Kansas — was cut to a single state, Nebraska, plus a few nearby counties in Iowa.
WE INHABIT a nation whose leaders have plenty of money for financing foreign fights and entangling the American people in pointless wars of choice. We endure a government that can find a billion or three -- or 500 -- for Wall Street interests, yet the Heartland of America Band can't even field a decent flash mob anymore.

But because "government spends too much," we haven't a red cent for music. For joy. Or for lots of other things that build America and Americans up, as opposed to tearing some other country down.

I would imagine Bach -- not to mention Jesu, of joy of man's desiring fame -- might take a dim view of that, and of the barbarians we have become.

Friday, June 07, 2013

After further consideration. . . .


Kanye West was right.

Watching Taylor Swift preen and oversing her way through Marianne Faithfull's masterpiece, "As Tears Go By," is too much to bear. She needs to go away. Now.

What's worse is that the shameless and decrepit Mick Jagger has so little respect for the song he and Keith Richards wrote that he co-leads the charge in its defilement. At least Richards' acoustic-guitar work is nice.

Still, it's increasingly clear this is a band that should have hung it up before it released the "Some Girls" album in 1978. The destruction of a great legacy began then, and it's now being capped off with the band's sad and shambles-worthy 50th-anniversary tour.

WATCHING the concert videos from this tour -- videos released by the Stones themselves -- is like going to the open-casket funeral of someone who died in some horrific, fiery accident . . . with the narcissistic, imbecilic Swift preening her way through the proceedings.

Only this grotesque spectacle is totally self-inflicted.

I would have preferred to remember the deceased the way they were, back when I was young and they were good. But now I can't. The mangled, charred corpse of the "World's Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Band" forever will be branded on my brain.

File this under "The Dangers of Planning Your Own Funeral."

Crap. Even getting myself Keith Richards wasted couldn't make me forget what can't be forgotten.

Thanks, guys.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Boss, a soap box & 'that f***ing Obama'


In case you were wondering, this is where Mrs. Favog and I were for several glorious hours last night.

As is the norm for The Boss, it was a hell of a show at the CenturyLink Center Omaha. He hasn't lost a thing performing live since I saw him at the LSU Assembly Center on Nov. 11, 1980. Funny how you remember the actual dates you saw Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, isn't it?

Anyway . . .  ever seen a 62-year-old man crowd surf? I have now. Complete awesomeness.

And I totally got teary eyed when Jake Clemons, the late Clarence Clemons' nephew, did The Big Man's solo on "Thunder Road" and struck The Pose. He even looks a lot like the young saxophone god -- except for Jake's big hair.

That said. . . .


DURING the course of the show, we had to endure Mr. Obama Lover getting up on his damn political soap box.

Can you believe he made an impassioned pitch for us to give to the local food bank?! My Bible says if you don't work, you don't eat. It's somewhere in the back. Maybe the front. Whatever.

I was so outraged about all this political crap that I almost got up and walked out right there. I would have, too, if I hadn't thought that some layabout 47-percenter was waiting to take my seat. Concert welfare, don't you know?

Dammit, it's time to TAKE BACK AMERICA from the socialists . . . one rock concert at a time!

No retreat, baby, no surrender!























Cue Jonathan Swift.


It used to be that you didn't necessarily have to tell people you were being a sarcastic smart ass. We live, however, in an era that has killed satire, being that there's no more ceiling for bat-s*** craziness in politics or the greater culture.

So. . . .

Just so you know. . . .

Bruce's only soap-box moment in the entire show was a pitch for the Food Bank for the Heartland, of which I am fully supportive. What did put me off, though, was some a-hole in the men's room proclaiming "If he says anything about that f***in' Obama, he's gonna get booed off the stage!"

Yeah, that pissed me off. That and a whole world of hair-on-fire partisans who can't even let a man be entitled to his own political proclivities lest he be vilified, demonized and ostracized for them.

Bruce campaigned for Barack Obama. I didn't vote for the man (though, to be fair, neither did I vote for Mitt Romney). So what?

If you ask me, you don't have to be a communist to be quite Stalinist nowadays. Such is life in a country where we hate us, we really hate us.

Cue Jefferson Davis. Oh, wait. . . .

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Vote for the black Muslim. It's important.

Madonna lectures on political science. Not safe for work . . . or young ears.


The only part of Madonna Louise Ciccone that's anything like a virgin is her brain, having for 54 years avoided being deflowered by a serious thought.

Monday night, the chastity belt around her cranium was cinched up extra tight as the crowd at her Washington, D.C., concert got three minutes' worth of Politics for Dummies . . . by Dummies.
"Y'all better vote for f***ing Obama, OK? For better or for worse, all right? We have a black Muslim in the White House."
And the crowd goes wild.
"Now that is the s***! That is some amazing s***! That means there is hope in this country. And Obama is fighting for gay rights, OK? So support the man, goddammit."
AND THE crowd goes wilder, stopping its whoops and yelps only long enough for the singer's political-science pupils to breathe through their mouths.

Tonight, the absent-mind professor sent a statement to the serious media -- in other words, Perez Hilton -- to clarify that she was being "ironic."
“I was being ironic on stage. Yes I know Obama is not a Muslim (though I know that plenty of people in this country think he is.) And what if he were? The point I was making is that a good man is a good man no matter who he prays to. I don’t care what religion Obama is – nor should anyone else in America.”
OH . . . okaaaaay. Sure, honey bun. Whatever you say.  

What? Oh.

I apologize. I was having a flashback to what my wife tells me whenever I try to BS her that blatantly after being caught saying something moronic.

See, it doesn't count as irony without an eye roll or air quotes. Them's the rules.

OTHERWISE, you're just being an idiot. You know, like if you'd stripped half naked to show off your new "tramp stamp" -- it said "OBAMA" -- then made a solemn vow to the faithful:

“When Obama is in the White House for a second term I'll take it all off.”

Mighty big talk for a woman who does that just to celebrate Tuesdays.

And Wednesdays.

And. . . .

Friday, July 06, 2012

'The mask I polish in the evening,
by the morning looks like s***'

From Moscow on the Hudson, Omaha's Conor Oberst tries to
keep up with underprivileged New Orleans teenagers busking
on a French Quarter street corner. Metaphorically, at least.

The other night at TD Ameritrade Park, Omaha officially -- in my mind, at least -- exposed itself as too big for its britches.

Simultaneously -- again, at least in the mind of this 24-year Omaha transplant -- it exposed itself as the cow-town version of a "hill William." You know, a hillbilly with pretensions. That often happens when your own great PR goes to your head like straight double bourbons on your 21st birthday.

To be fair, though, Omaha was goaded into it. It was confronted with something that wasn't
A) Journey, B) Keith Urban or Kenny Chesney, C) Conor Oberst whining in the key of Z about how woebegone is his life to an audience of angst-filled emo navel gazers . . . for a six-figure paycheck.

I should have figured that when a band like Cowboy Mouth is slated to be the entertainment sandwiched in between the TD Ameritrade Home Run Derby and the start of the
Omaha World-Herald 's Fourth of July fireworks show, nothing good could come of it.

To begin with, who thinks a band that lives somewhere near the corner of Joe Strummer and Professor Longhair (just a short block from Lynyrd Skynyrd Avenue) will appeal to a general audience in a town that touts itself -- somehow -- as "the new Seattle" of the indie-rock world . . . but can't support one decent radio station? Where Saddle Creek -- the little record company that nearly made Omaha almost-famous -- can only get one act onto the playlist at the closest thing we have to an "alternative" FM station?

C'mon. This was an event where people willingly forked over $7 for really bad beer and enjoyed it. Where Journey droned over the PA system like a Dave Heineman press conference, and people sang along. Like Dave Heineman.

Because they like it . . . and him.

Where people itched for that grand moment in the fireworks show where the pyrotechnicians blow shit up to yet another "patriotic moment" of Lee Greenwood schmaltzing his way through "God Bless the U.S.A." And the crowd . . . goes . . . wild!

Because we're hip that way in the Big O. Er . . . I mean "O!"

After Cowboy Mouth's mistaken decision to willingly walk into such an ambush -- one where Journey- and Lee Greenwood-lovers booed and yelled "Nooooo!" when drummer-frontman Fred LeBlanc asked "Do you want us to play one more song?" then tweeted and Facebooked about how the band and the show "sucked it hard" -- the New Orleans quartet's only consolation (other than what one hopes was a big paycheck) had to have been "God Bless the U.S.A.'s" omission from the fireworks extravaganza.


I'LL GIVE the naysayers this: The audio mix for the miniconcert was awful . . . because nobody turned off the stadium PA system, which caused an unbearable echo. Presumably, Cowboy Mouth wasn't in charge of the speakers ringing the ballpark in addition to its own sound system in front of the center-field stage.

Presumably, that was an all-Omaha clusterf***.

Still, the ugliest audience this side of Bob's Country Bunker may have forgiven all if only Fred LeBlanc would have counted down into a stirring version of the Rawhide theme. Or maybe "Stand by Your Man."

But a rude audience and a disaster of a booking isn't what's pissing me off.

There's no accounting for taste, or cultural differences
(and on that account, Nebraska and Louisiana might as well be on different continents) . . . or even for what percentage of the booboisie ends up attending big events that feature bad beer and relatively cheap admission.

And fireworks.

To overuse an overused phrase just a little bit more --
it is what it is.

What pisses me off, for the record, is arrogance tag-teaming with invincible ignorance. What pisses me off is when someone, thinking he's stating a fact as obvious to all as "The sun rises in the east," says something that's instead as gobsmackingly arrogant as it is unspeakably stupid. Like a local newspaper acquaintance after the fireworks show announcing to all who could hear that Cowboy Mouth wasn't his "cup of tea," which is fair enough, but then that "there must be 1,000 bands in Omaha better than that."

You probably best know me as someone with a raging love-hate relationship with Louisiana, my native state. And as a Nebraska transplant who generally is thrilled to be one.

It may surprise you, on the other hand, to know that I'm someone who, more often than not, just keeps his mouth shut instead of interfering with a body's God-given right to make himself look like an idiot, an ass . . . or both.

IT USUALLY surprises me when -- and where -- my inner pissed-off, ready-to-kick-Yankee-butt coonass from Baton Rouge erupts with full force. And as a native Baton Rougean, it surprises me even more when it's in full-throated defense of New Orleans.

"A thousand Omaha bands better than Cowboy Mouth"? Really? Leaving issues of musical taste aside . . . really?

What I told the guy, rather loudly, was this: "I'll guarantee you that 999 of those Omaha bands aren't anywhere as good as Cowboy Mouth. And I'll lay money on that."

I can say that because I've actually listened to Cowboy Mouth apart from an ill-conceived gig with shitty sound. For example, in the case of the band's 2006 "Voodoo Shoppe" release, I was left dancing and crying in the space of a single CD. And all you need to defeat a know-nothing is to know a little.

The guy walked away kind of stammering after I committed the ultimate Midwestern sin of being impolite in the face of complete bullshit. The effect is enhanced when someone thinks they're stating the obvious -- and then you call bullshit.

On the Plains, that moment when a blowhard is left defenseless by the belief that he couldn't possibly require one might be called "All hat and no horse." When I was a kid in Louisiana, we had a more colorful way of putting it: "His mouth overloaded his ass."

We Louisianians may have our problems -- and God knows our native state has more than its share of bad ones -- but one of them is not being boring. Boring might be more of a concern someplace that aspires to be the next musical Seattle instead of the next musical New Orleans.


DELUSIONAL,
arrogant and silly are definite immediate-action concerns for people in "the next Seattle" who think any but a couple or three local bands could hang for five minutes with a ragtag assortment of teenagers from the Tremé (or the Ninth Ward, or Central City, or the Seventh Ward) learning how to be a proper brass band on a French Quarter street corner in "the first New Orleans."

It would be like Nebraska touting far and wide the quality of its football program and the warmth and classiness of Memorial Stadium fans, only to have the "sea of red" raining Jack Daniels bottles upon visiting opponents after the Cornhuskers lose yet another game by 75 points.

Let's you and me examine some facts, Omaha.

Cowboy Mouth has been together for two decades. It's made more or less a go of it nationally. More importantly, it has made a go of it in New Orleans which, for all of its myriad problems and poverty, probably has more inherent cultural depth and musical talent in an average neighborhood than 21st-century Omaha has had to work with altogether as it pulls itself up toward the emo-wracked cultural nirvana of . . . Seattle.

I dunno, maybe a venerable and successful New Orleans rock band might get more respect here in Coolsville if Fred LeBlanc and company wore more plaid flannel. Sang more about the sheer psychic hell of living life in one's pasty white skin. Drank more Pabst Blue Ribbon and less Abita Turbodog.

And likewise, maybe people might really start to think Omaha really was Coolsville if Omahans started acting a lot less like Hicksville.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Music festivals, we may have a problem


Again.

Another outdoor concert, another thunderstorm, another stage collapse, another five people dead. The deaths at the Pukkelpop festival in Belgium late Thursday come as the death toll in Saturday's stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair rose to six.

The latest bad news comes from
MSNBC:

The death toll from a fierce thunderstorm that mangled tents and downed trees and scaffolding at an open-air music festival in Belgium has risen to five, officials said Friday.

Hasselt Mayor Hilde Claes said that two more people died overnight. About 40 were injured, 11 of them seriously, she said.

Chicago-based band Smith Westerns was on stage when the structure collapsed around them, NBC station WMAQ reported. None of the band members were injured but their equipment was destroyed.

Organizers canceled the annual Pukkelpop festival near Hasselt, 50 miles east of Brussels. Buses and trains were pressed into service to transfer the 60,000 festivalgoers home.

The brief but violent thunderstorm on Thursday evening tore down concert tents, several trees and main stage scaffolding. Panicked concertgoers ran through fields of mud looking for shelter.
DO YOU think there might be a pattern here?

Do you think that the typical design of the typical outdoor stage might be inherently unstable and prone to collapse during weather not atypical for spring and summer -- outdoor-concert season?

Let's review. And note that I've probably missed some incidents from the past couple of years.



August 13, 2011. Indianapolis, Ind.



August 7, 2011. Tulsa, Okla.



July 17, 2011. Ottawa, Ontario.



July 6, 2010. Concho, Okla.



Aug. 1, 2009. Camrose, Alberta.