Check Another One off the List: Benatar

music musings, beaverdamusa.comThanks to Groupon, I get to check another artist off the “I Wish I Could See Them Just Once” list.  This time, it is Pat Benatar.

Shockingly, I have never seen her.  Through the years it was either timing or money.  This past time, it looked like it was going to be both.  The ole budget was getting hit pretty hard with concerts and the schedule was pretty full.  Then, sadly, I received a Groupon e-mail announcing Pat Benatar tickets for $22 each.  I say sadly because that means tickets weren’t selling, but I wasn’t too sad to take advantage of it.  I quickly snagged two tickets to see her and her husband of 30+ years, Neil Giraldo at the beautiful Schermerhorn Symphony Center.  The event was billed as an acoustic evening, so that made it all the more intriguing.pat b -1For a Groupon ticket, the seats were pretty dang good.  They were about 2/3 back on the main floor, right in the center.  The opening act was a long tall drink of water named Logan Brill (www.loganbrill.com).  She played a mix of covers and original tunes.   I’m not sure if she was a Nashville add-on or on tour with Pat, but she had the voice and could best be described as bubbly.

Unlike arena shows, there wasn’t dry ice, lasers, or flash pots when Pat & Neil came onto the stage.  The lights went down and the crowd was treated to a film clip of Pat and Neil through the years.  After a couple of minutes, they simply walked out, took their seats, and said “Hello”.  The evening was billed as an acoustic show and it basically was that.  I say basically because they used a few tracks of sounds effects or drums, but it was simply Neil on the keyboards/guitar and Pat singing.  If you have ever watched “Storytellers” on VH1, that was the show that night.  In between songs, Neil or Pat would explain how the song came about or give a little insight about the song.

Pat and Neil have been playing together for over 35 years and been together for almost that long.  I recently watched an interview with them and their love for each other came through.  After seeing them together live, it is even more obvious.  He is the shy musician who puts it all together and is perfectly content letting her be out front in the spotlight.  One noticeable thing is that he always calls her Patricia and she calls him by his nickname Spyder.  They even teased about getting on realtor.com and moving to Nashville, like everyone else.

As Pat went through her hits, it was obvious that the pipes are still intact.  There are very few artists that can hit the high notes that they did decades earlier – Pat is one who still can.  Memorable moments include:

Chill bumps when they did Promises in the Dark

Learning that Neil played with Rick Derringer when he started out.

Didn’t realize We Belong was an anthem for some.

Pat mentioned that You Better Run was the second video ever played on MTV.

Neil produced Rick Springfield’s Jessie’s Girl.

Neil said that the key to a successful song is ensuring that folks recognize the song within the first measure.  After this, he said “like this” and the opening of Love is A Battlefield started.

As they encore started, the crowd clearly wanted Hell is for Children.  Pat explained that they hadn’t worked that one up acoustically and was sorry.  Neil jumped in and started playing the riff and we were treated to a single verse of it.  It was the second chill bump moment of the evening.

It was great to finally see Pat live after so long.  She and Neil didn’t disappoint and are proof that love can survive in the world of rock and roll.

Zach – waiting on the next Groupon

P.S. – Set list:

All Fired Up

We Live for Love

Promises in the Dark

In These Times

We Belong

You Better Run

Outlaw Blues

True Love

Jessie’s Girl (snippet)

Hit Me with Your Best Shot

Love is a Battlefield

Encore

Hell is for Children – (single verse)

Heartbreaker (with Ring of Fire thrown in the middle)

 

 

Nothing May Happen

erica bryan, behind the mic, beaverdamusa.comAs my EP enters its final stage of production (mastering), I can’t help but wonder what the outcome of years of bringing this EP to life will be.

This EP represents the full circle of coming to Nashville at 12 years old and singing karaoke on Broadway, dreaming I’d be back one day. It’s the culmination of learning what the heck songwriting is, and years of songwriting with different writers, and the challenge and satisfaction of writing by myself.

It signifies the decades and immeasurable amount of money my parents spent helping me master the craft of singing. It symbolizes the countless hours of learning the different instruments I wrote each song with and the innumerable miles driven to play each song live with my band.

Once production wraps up, I will be sitting in the offices of record labels, management, song pluggers, lawyers, and professional friends and colleagues who will listen to it and then tell me the verdict of their thoughts.

When I released my single, “This House Is Haunted,” I received great remarks from people in the industry. A CEO of a songwriting publishing company told me that this song would surely be picked up by a big artist. The head of a major artist management company raved about my vocal performance.

My idol told me she watched my music video and loved it. A record label told me they loved it and couldn’t wait to hear more of my music! And while I feel proud with the headway I made with that song, none of those remarks changed my life. I was still the same girl hustling for myself. I was proud that people liked it so much, but at the end of the day, nothing happened as a result of the “right people” liking it.

So, as I gear up for another round, hopefully hearing how good it is (I may not be that lucky!), I have to brace myself for the chance that: nothing may happen.

Although that may be the case, I have to remember that I’m proud of what I made. These songs are the best versions of themselves. These songs came from real places and emotions in my life, and whether or not people like them does not diminish the years that were put into making this the quality of music I’ve sought to achieve.

And more than anything, I’ll know I reached my goal if these songs resonate with the people who listen to them. I hope you relate to my blissful happiness, my deep sorrow, my aching hurt, my boiling anger, and my desire for strength.

If the string sections well up and make you want to do something bold, or my sad songs make you want to cry, or that driving guitar rhythm makes you drive a little faster- then I’ll know I did my job and my music was made for something, not nothing.

“If You See Someone Without a Smile, Give Them One of Yours”

music musings, beaverdamusa.comIf you have been around Nashville at any time over the last couple of weeks, you have probably heard or read that phrase.  It is attributable to Mr. Billy Block.  Billy passed away on March 11 after a very brave and public fight against cancer and most news stories referenced his famous line.  There was even a calling for folks on social media to post pictures of themselves smiling with friends and add the hashtags #billyblock and #smiles4billy.

If you have been in Nashville over the last few years, you have heard of Billy unless your address was 100 Boulder Lane; and you lived in the basement.  From his Western Beat shows at various locales (where he promised a $6 show for just $5), his Locals Only radio show (where he played unsigned artists), Captain Billy’s Whiz Bang (at Puckett’s Boathouse) or his hosting the Silver Stars talent show (think AARP Idol), he was everywhere.  I was chatting with someone in the promotion side of the music business and they described Billy as one “who always had something going.”  You can read the various summaries of his music career elsewhere, but in short, he was a drummer who played all across the country and moved to Nashville where he pushed the Americana style of music here.

I first met Billy through a mutual friend as we were working on a golf tournament for JDRF locally.  Billy would also serve as emcee at our award dinners.  He would show up in his tux and give us that big smile.  I would always see him through the years at JDRF events.  Billy didn’t have a direct connection to JDRF, but his connection was through our mutual friend.  Every time you would see Billy, he would smile, shake your hand, and make your feel like you were his long lost friend who he hadn’t seen in years.

As I mentioned before, he fought a very brave and public fight against cancer.  He always closed his Facebook updates with the phrase “All Faith, No Fear”.  Whether you are fighting cancer or not, those are great words to live by.  I saw Billy several months ago at a music recital where my youngest son was playing.  Billy’s boys’ took lessons at the same store and he and his wife, Jill, were there as well.  After the line to see him shortened up, I went up and chatted with him.  He still had that smile though you could tell he had been in the fight of (or is it “for”) his life.  Even though I hadn’t seen him in a few years, he smiled, called me by name, and asked how I was doing.  That was just the way Billy was.

Billy’s had a celebration of life service last night (03/24/2015) at the Ryman.  Where else would it be?  It appeared to be a great night of music, reminiscing, and, yes, celebrating Billy’s life.  I saw someone post that Billy did beat cancer – he claimed the life eternal, where there is no cancer.  Godspeed Billy Block, Nashville’s lights are a little dimmer, but heaven’s is a bit brighter.

Zach

Musing While I Am Still Able

musings 250_edited-1No, the headline is not referring to the North Korean’s shutting down my Music Musing blog or the Beaverdam Tavern.  It is referring to the fact I am truly feeling old – musically, if that makes sense.  While my soon-to-be 51 trips around the sun have taken their toll on my body, I am truly feeling out-of-touch with the music world.

For a while now, this feeling has been lurking in the back of my mind like an awkward, nerdy kid at the prom – back in the shadows.  I scan the upcoming shows at our local arena and for the most part recognize the names, even if I don’t like them.  For instance, Eric Church set an attendance record at Bridgestone this past weekend.  I have heard of him – wouldn’t go see him in my living room, but still I know him.  So I scan the line-up for the Ryman auditorium:

  • Gregg Allman – ok, still alive I guess.  Seats still available for the show tonight.
  • Ben Howard – Thought he was directing movies when not at the Andy Griffith convention.  SOLD OUT!!!   People might be confused as me.
  • John Mellencamp – know him, like his stuff.  Tickets available.  Hmmm.
  • Trampled by Turtles – what the heck?  Who are those folks and how the hell can you not outrun a turtle?
  • Diana Ross – Still around – wonder if she will have a video of Michael Jackson?  Creepy.
  • Shovels & Rope – Sponsored by Lowes?
  • Lee Bice – American Idol right?  Getting better.
  • Willie Nelson = Sold out for two shows.  Good for him.  Folks must think he is passing one around, if you know what I mean…..
  • Hozier – Sold out.  Three shows.  Didn’t know they had a gym in the Ryman.

Okay, you get my point.  Then here comes the Bonnaroo lineup.  No, I won’t go, but it is cool to see who is coming.  The headline states – Billy Joel to headline Bonnaroo.  Now we are talking!  Finally a big name to hit Bonnaroo.  Then I start reading the other performers – uh-oh:

  • Mumford & Sons – Know them.  My youngest loves them.
  • Deadmau5 – Did the proofreader fall asleep on that one?
  • Robert Plant & the Sensational Space Shifters – Not a Led Zep reunion, but cool.
  • Hozier – Again?  Maybe the championship game after the early rounds at the Ryman?
  • Spoon – For soup or your nose?
  • The War on Drugs – Guess the preceding question’s answer was “nose”.  Bet these folks will be busy at Bonnaroo from what I hear.
  • Tears for Fears – They were top 40 when I was in college.  Guess they are touring since healthcare costs are going up.
  • Shabazz Palaces – Sounds like a place where WMD’s were located.
  • Between the Buried & Me – Isn’t that a preacher?  Maybe they will pass the plate.
  • Pallbearer – Maybe opening (or closing) for Between the Buried & Me

Bottom line – I know I am old and really understand now how my parents felt when I brought home Van Halen, REO Speedwagon, Styx, Blue Oyster Cult, Cheap Trick, Loverboy, KISS, etc.  I realize it is a “passing the torch” kind of moment, but it doesn’t make it go down any easier.  I will be over here in the corner with my iPod listening to my golden oldies.

Until next time –

Zach – aka the old Geezer

Fan Fair: Hide Your Women, Children and Household Pets

musings 250_edited-1Fan Fair.  Those two words strike fear in the hearts of every Nashville native, except the funnel cake vendors.  If you aren’t familiar with Fan Fair, it is a gathering of country music stars, wannabes, has-beens, and their fans.  Here is a blurb from the website (http://www.cmaworld.com/cma-music-festival/event-details/) :

Launched as Fan Fair® in 1972, the very first Festival was attended by 5,000 people and was held at Nashville’s Municipal Auditorium. The event moved to the Tennessee State Fairgrounds in 1982, then to Downtown Nashville in 2001. The 2010 and 2011 Festivals sold out Nashville’s LP Field with 65,000 Country fans attending per day. The 2013 festival’s daily attendance was a record-setting 80,000.

The festival changed its name from Fan Fair to the CMA Music Festival in 2004.  Whether it was the move from the fairgrounds or the name change, the festival has changed over the years.  Imagine the frog turning into the handsome prince, the ugly duckling becoming a swan, or the ugly girl from high school becoming a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model.  It has become cool to go to the Fan Fair.

In the old days, the fans would start arriving from Omaha, Flagstaff, Green Bay, Meridian, Davenport, and other similar points in their overloaded motorhomes complete with “I Love Reba” or “Twitty City” bumper stickers.  They would come out wearing cut-off blue jean shorts, polyester moo moos, wife beater shirts, and chrome mirrored sunglasses.  Fan Fair was always held the first week in June and it would always be hot, humid, and stormy.  I would say more, but I will just say two words – humid and polyester.  Tickets were only available for the entire Festival – tickets were not available for individual shows.  A ticket got you into the exhibit halls where the new, old, popular, and unknown country artists would literally stand/sit in a booth all day long signing autographs, posing for photos, hugging, and kissing every fan that came by.  [Don’t forget the humidity and polyester].  Record labels would also have shows each night highlighting their current stars while peppering in sets by the up and coming stars.  Also, the artists would use this time to have fan club gatherings.

There were also tours of the stars’ homes, treks to where George Jones drove his lawnmower to the liquor store, visits to Twitty City, and the brave ones ventured about 70 miles west to Hurricane Mills to see the Loretta Lynn ranch.  But let’s not forget the greatest attraction – Opryland USA.  This was Nashville’s now-defunct music-based amusement park. It was concrete city – (again – forget humidity, polyester).  Locals were known to give wrong directions, point at cars acting like someone famous was in there and other things to torture the tourists.

Fast forward to 2004 – the name was changed and the location was downtown on lower Broadway (the new cool spot).  They also started selling individual tickets to the nightly shows at LP Field (Titans stadium) and there were numerous free stages (newcomers) throughout downtown.  All of a sudden, local people started going to the shows and purposely going downtown (vs. avoiding it).  The average age dropped, the polyester was replaced by cotton, and the women got a lot better looking.  What?  It is now actually cool to go to Fan Fair – eh, CMA Music Festival.  As much as I trash it, I must admit that it is pretty cool to be able to have a giant meet & greet for everyone in a particular genre of music.  I wish rock & roll would do that – Bonnaroo doesn’t count!

Hats off to the CMA folks for re-inventing the event and packing downtown every night for four nights. The city’s coffers appreciate it.  Now, where’s my funnel cake?

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