music


Gustavo Dudamel conducting Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony may have been listed as the star of the show (and it was fantastic!), but the reason I bought tickets to the July 13, 2017 performance at the Hollywood Bowl was that my beloved Vin Scully — eternal voice of the Dodgers and of ALL of Los Angeles — was on the bill to narrate Aaron Copland’s “Lincoln Portrait” and he did so beautifully with characteristic humility and eloquence.
 
The chance to hear again what has been the voice of ALL of my summers as a native angeleno was something I couldn’t pass up, nor could I not memorialize the occasion.
 
NOTES: Scully’s narration begins at about the 8:20 mark. An encore performance is scheduled for July 18, 2017, at the Bowl. This performance was recorded (faaaaar better than me and my handheld recorder from Section J) and is scheduled to be broadcast July 30, 2017, on KUSC-FM (91.5). Gawd bless my fellow audience members. This was my first visit to the Bowl in several years where everyone was pretty much completely quiet throughout the whole program.
 
If the embed at the top is not functioning, here the direct link to my YouTube post: https://youtu.be/rUbrYgvWMFI

In the months of 1989 leading up to the birth of my daughter things were not at all great financially or emotionally, but at the time we had a relatively sweet deal managing the 20-unit Van Nuys apartment building in which we were living in exchange for free rent on the two-bedroom we occupied.

Not long after she was born in September of that year it was decided that we would relocate to manage a building in Burbank, almost triple the number of units at only about half-off the rent, in part because a friend of my then-wife’s lived in the building and encouraged her to take the opportunity. There were pluses: it was in a better neighborhood; a newer building with nicer amenities. But in the end it increased the stretch on our finances and our already rocky relationship to the breaking point and I ended up moving out in January of 1990.

After all this time, my biggest regret of that whole inevitable failure as a man and a husband and a father? Leaving behind the stereo I’d inherited from my mother when I moved out on my own in 1985. Mind you, it was nothing fancy. Made by Admiral, it was called the Solid State Sterophonic High-Fidelty system, and without getting too overly sentimental, it played aaaaaall the music across the first 21 years of my life. Barbra Streisand, Carole King, Nat King Cole, Henry Mancini, Rossini, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Mendelsohn, Dvorak, Fleetwood Mac, Vicki Sue Robinson, The Beatles, The Who, the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, countless Broadway soundtracks, Louis Prima, Kansas, Journey, Queen, and on and on and on.

What happened was I had at some point in my early independence I upgraded to a Marantz system and thus unceremoniously relegated my mom’s to the garage storage compartment where it sat throughout the duration of meeting my future ex-wife, moving in with her, getting married, getting pregnant, et cetera. Then when it came time for that move to Burbank, I couldn’t find the key to the storage compartment’s lock and just said to hell with it and left it behind.

Compounded by my mom’s disappointment that I didn’t bring it back to her when I quit using it, my abandonment of it has bothered me ever since, up to and including this past weekend, when it disturbed me that we didn’t have a functioning phonograph with which to play my Nat King Cole Christmas album this season. That in turn triggered the thought of the number of Christmases it spun on the able Admiral and so of course in this day and age I googled “Admiral High-Fidelty Stereo System,” and wouldn’t you know? BOOM. In full jaw-drop, I found one available on eBay, looking pretty much in a similar well-worn condition that my mom’s was when I banished it to the garage:

s-l1600

It should be no surprise seeing that picture auto-triggered some verklemptification.

According to the Indiana seller’s description everything works but the record player, which is in need of a needle. The asking price is a prohibitive $329.99, especially considering I ordered a suitcase style self-contained stereo phonograph from Wayfair for $70 that should arrive by Friday.

But I’d be a liar if I denied putting this old lady on my Watchlist. And you really shouldn’t be too surprised if I end up putting in a low ball offer as we get near the end of the 27 days left at auction.

Susan and I went down to Club Nokia as guests of the Grammy Museum and relished in the almost four hours of standing-room-only awesome that was last night’s Woody Guthrie Centennial Concert.

Below is the video view from my iPhone as Rage Against The Machine’s absolutely incredible Tom Morello, tore up the place with the music he wrote for Guthrie’s unsung lyrics titled “Ease My Revolutionary Mind.” The “choir of angels singing” that Morello references during the intro include the likes of Jackson Browne, Graham Nash, Joel Rafael and Joe Henry (the phone’s picture quality blows, but the sound quality of the great song is solid):

Artists who came out to celebrate Woody Guthrie’s birthday included: Jackson Browne, Graham Nash, Dawes, John Doe, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion, Joe Henry, Kris Kristofferson, Tom Morello, Van Dyke Parks, Joel Rafael Rob Wasserman, and Ronny Cox.

For a 2009 Blogging.la series on songs about Los Angeles, about a week after what would have been Guthrie’s 97th birthday, I wrote of discovering his little-known “The New Year’s Flood” a ballad he penned in the wake of the devastating 1934 disaster that struck the Crescenta Valley, killing at least 40 people.

 

Twenty-six minutes of live footage of The Ramones at their motherfucking greatest rock ‘n roll band best during a 1977 performance at The Rainbow in London:

This vid’s a couple/three years old and because I’m such a harumphing curmudgeon when it comes to new music from them whippersnappers nowadays I might never have found these songs —”Joe D” and “Bev D” by Restavrant — if t’weren’t fer Tony “Six Gun” Pierce. Destined to become my Summer Song, better late’n never… I reckon:

Can’t understand a single word the guy’s singing. Don’t care. It’s more than raw and authentic — rawthentic! — enough to get the old fogey in me to shut up, bop my head and enjoy. Punk blues, muzzafuzzas.


Thailand & Cambodia 2055

Originally uploaded by there2roam

During one of our last excursions in Chiang Mai we journeyed to a village cooperative supporting several indigineous tribes from the area, and of course I couldn’t get together with a local family for a brief and very enjoyable gong ‘n drum jam.

Photo by Susan, who’s far better than I am in getting her thousands of trip pix up onto Flickr.

Tony Pierce went to see Roger Waters’ “The Wall Live” concert last night and it brought back memories of Pink Floyd’s original “The Wall” tour. The show was sold out for a week in February 1980 at the Sports Arena.

With no money to my name and a mother who was not a fan of the album and certainly not my obsession with it (I listened to it daily in its double-platter entirety for months), I tried my best to win tickets on radio show giveaways, but failed. So entirely desperate to see what was uncategorically The Rock ‘N Roll Event Of My Lifetime I even contemplated burgling a neighbor or worse robbing someone of their tickets outside the venue.

Fortunately I went neither of those felonious routes, and instead on Wednesday, February 13 — the last day of Floyd’s LA stay I pretended I wasn’t feeling well immediately after dinner, went to bed fully clothed, and after about a year-long 30 minutes of laying there, I stuffed clothes under the covers to simulate a body sleeping, snuck out the window, pausing while straddled half in and half out to not give a fuck if my mom decided to check-in on me and discover my escape. Then I went down to the garage, got on my battered BMX bike and pedaled out from the slums of Beverly Hills in the general direction of downtown via Olympic Boulevard, with neither a golden ticket nor knowing precisely where the Sports Arena was.

Come to think of it, from a cycling perspective that trip could qualify as my first-ever bike commute.

Anyway. When I finally arrived, sweaty, adrenaline filled and out of breath, the place looked and felt deserted with only a few people outside the entrance I was nearest, and I was gripped in horror that I’d screwed up and come all this way a day late. Then as if in reassuring answer “In the Flesh?” exploded from within the arena and I knew the concert was both going on and had only just started.

So ya thought ya might like to go to the show…

Increasingly and frantically desperate would be an understated way of describing how I spent the time basically pedaling around the arena begging a succession of rejecting gatekeepers that getting inside was a matter of life or death until finally finding a somewhat sympathic ear.

“I don’t even need a seat! Please just let me stand somewhere inside!”I implored.

I say the person was “somewhat sympathetic” because he didn’t let me in for free. I had to fork over the seven bucks I had in my pocket — and my bike.

I gave both over without hesitation.

And in I went. The moment I burst through the outer doors I was greeted with the acoustics of “Mother” and I almost cried. In fact I did, but for a different reason as I was immediately approached by a security guard wanting to see my ticket.

Instead, I showed him the performance of my young life, channeling that tearful relief into total sorrow as I turned on the waterworks and bemoaned losing my ticket and only being able to get in because the person outside made me give him all my money — and my bike.

Mother will they tear your little boy apart?

Miraculously, it worked. Embarrassed by my outburst, the guard led me to an access tunnel and told me to calm down. I did, a little. Then he looked around before telling me to go in but insisted that I couldn’t sit in a seat.

“If I find your crybaby butt planted anywhere it shouldn’t be I’m throwing you out!”

I nodded my head off in understanding and gratitude and when he looked the other way I did my best not to bolt headlong down the tunnel to experience what was indeed The Rock ‘N Roll Event Of My Lifetime.

Afterwards, given the amount of second-hand marijuana smoke I inhaled there’s little in the way of specifics regarding the looooong walk home other than I don’t recall my feet touching the ground and in getting back to the apartment not long before dawn I still didn’t give a fuck if my mom had discovered my absence. Slipping the screen off the window and sliding it open, I peered inside the darkened room and nothing appeared out of the ordinary. The door was closed. The clothes I’d stuffed under the covers still there.

Sure enough, the next morning I was awakened with my mom’s typically gruff and no-nonsense call to get up, but that was it. Though completely exhausted, I rose in triumph that the entirely AWOL evening excursion had been a total success. I had torn down several walls to see “The Wall.”

When my mom got home from work that afternoon you know what she found me listening intently to on the old Admiral hi-fi. Rolling her eyes, I turned the volume down and told her that my bike had been stolen. I pretended to be appropriately upset, then I turned up the volume and climbed back into the album with visions of the mindblowing concert in my head.

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