Monday, March 30, 2015

LARRY CORYELL AT THE BERKS JAZZ FEST 4/17/15


Guitar Master Larry Coryell
makes his Berks Jazz Fest Debut
By Rob Nagy

One of the pioneers of the jazz-rock movement of the late 1960’s, visionary Larry Coryell helped usher in the age of fusion.  For this one time journalism student, the guitar became his purpose.


Exhibiting a passion for rock guitar as a teenager, Coryell didn’t consider himself good enough to pursue a career in music. While at the University of Washington studying journalism, he continued taking guitar lessons, as he was determined to master the instrument.


“Once I realized that I was totally hooked on this music, somewhere between the end of high school and the beginning of college, I knew this was what I wanted to do,” recalls Coryell, from his Orlando, Florida home. “It wasn’t even that I wanted to do it. I had to. I had to do this. This was my mission!”


By 1965, after dropping out of college, Coryell relocated to New York City, where he focused on taking classical guitar lessons.


Inspired by the works of Chet Atkins, John Coltrane, Wes Montgomery and Chuck Berry, Coryell, like so many of his musical peers, was affected by the music of The Beatles, Bob Dylan and The Byrds. It was the combination of all of these influences that played a major role in Coryell’s merging of jazz and rock into his unique playing style.


“You have to break away and find your own sound,” says Coryell. “That’s the challenge of jazz, in my opinion. I have a lot of appreciation for everything, even the negative stuff. I’m grateful that I have an opportunity to advance our music.” 


“It’s a two-pronged thing as I see it,” adds Coryell. “Of course, I want to preserve and respect the tradition that inspired me to become a jazz musician in the first place. At the same time, I feel it’s imperative that I continue to develop my own course.” 


In 1969, Coryell recorded his classic album "Spaces," now revered as one of his greatest works. Featuring fellow guitarist John McLaughlin, Chick Corea (electric piano), Miroslav Vitous (bass) and Billy Cobham (drums), jazz enthusiasts consider this to be the embryo from which the jazz-fusion movement of the 1970’s emerged. 


“It’s really with whom I’m playing that determines a lot of the way that I play,” says Coryell. “I try to play with people who bring out the best in me. Choice of musicians is so important.”


Garnering attention at a time when Jim Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Carlos Santana were attaining international stardom, Coryell was making an indelible mark beyond the world of rock and roll.


“Like any artist, I would like to play as brilliantly as possible,” adds Coryell, “which means more soul than chops, more intelligence than flash. That’s what I want. I’d rather touch people’s hearts than impress their minds.” 


“I’m about to release a new album called “Heavy Feel,” says Coryell. “It sounds like it could have been from the era when “The Police” put out sounds like “Every Breath You Take.” We used that kind of foundation, and on the top I channeled my Ramsey Lewis and got funky. It came out beautifully. I really like it.”


“There are also two selections that are compositions from an opera that I composed,” adds Coryell. “I’m always looking to do tunes from Broadway, so I just thought I would do something from my own musical/big stage production history, which is a grand total of one work.”


At 71, Coryell finds himself in a good place doing something he is passionate about for an audience that remains loyal. 


“I did some serious partying for about 19 years,” recalls Coryell. “I reached a point in my life where it was definitely time to put the toys away, and I haven’t gone back since. Staying healthy and continuing to change, which is very hard to do, is what drives me.”


“It is essential to stay teachable,” adds Coryell. “There is always stuff to learn. I practice every day. I do a lot of arranging and composing, so it’s at least six hours a day. When I’m on the road, I stay up all night and write arrangements. There is always room for improvement, not just in playing but composing. A heart felt jazz composition with soulful soloing, whether with a lot of virtuosity or not - there is no substitute.”


A practicing Buddhist, Coryell routinely draws on his inner strength for the peace and the enlightenment that defines the core of who he is and who he wants to be.


“It’s challenging, but it’s a pleasurable challenge in the sense that if my life ambition is high enough, I can view every possibility, every aspect that’s negative as a possibility for enlightenment,” says Coryell.  “It’s not easy, but if you work hard at it, it pays off, especially over the long run.”


“The forgiveness element in Christianity is a beautiful thing,” adds Coryell. “The mercy aspect is a beautiful thing. In Buddhism, we embrace all of that. When I play, I try to be someone who is enlightening the listener rather than entertaining them.”


Larry Coryell performs at the Berks Jazz Fest Friday April 17, 2015 at 7:30 P.M. The festival runs from April 10 to April 19, 2015. For a complete list of concerts, venues and ticket information, visit www.berksjazzfest.com.

To stay up to date with Larry Coryell, visit www.larrycoryell.com.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

GARLAND JEFFREYS



The Legendary Garland Jeffreys

comes to Sellersville


By Rob Nagy

Exemplifying the reality of the human experience through words and music, multiracial singer songwriter Garland Jeffreys is the genuine article.

“I don’t classify myself musically,” says Jeffreys, speaking from his New York City home. “I don’t think about it. I write a song, a groove, a rhythm, and then lyrics come. It could be one or the other. It could be the lyrics that start out. Then I try to develop them into a story, into something that’s meaningful. It’s always about that. It always has to have some kind of power in it as far as the lyrics. It’s not arbitrary in that way. I want to say something; something that reaches out to people. I’d feel like I wasn’t doing the right thing if I was just writing something that had nothing.”

Jeffreys, a Brooklyn native of African American and Puerto Rican descent, was routinely exposed to a variety of artists, igniting a passion for rock and roll, jazz, reggae, soul, folk and blues.

“Growing up, there was a lot of music in my house,” recalls Jeffreys, “ - not being played, but the music that I heard my folks listening to -everything from Louis Armstrong to Nat King Cole.”

“Music and songs have always been, and continue to be, a way to express myself,” added Jeffreys. “People are going to get a variety of styles from me. I like to do that - a real spread of different things, all kinds of influences, always with my point of view that comes from my heart - what I feel, and what I think. This is what I do. I don’t stick with one style. I find it limiting.”

Possessed by a hunger to play music for as long as he can remember, Jeffreys eventually found himself in the heart of the mid 1960’s New York City music scene.

The legendary Gerde's Folk City, The Bitter End, Gaslight and Kenny's Castaways provided Jeffreys a stage for what rapidly evolved into an audience eager to hear his racially conscious themes.

Years later, following racial abuse he experienced while attending a New York Mets game at Shea Stadium, Jeffreys captured the complexities of racial tension in America on his powerful “Don’t Call Me Buckwheat” (1992) album.

“I’m interested in all kinds of people,” says Jeffreys. “If I can persuade people to be friendlier to one another, that’s part of my story. I say what I think and continue to say what I think the world should be like, especially when it comes to race.”

“I want to see more of an interracial world,” adds Jeffreys. “In some ways, we can’t help that - it’s already happening. In other ways, there are still limits on all of that. I’m an optimistic kind of person.”

Signed to Atlantic Records in 1973, Jeffreys released a highly anticipated self-titled debut album. Not included on the record was the single “Wild in the Streets.” A favorite on AOR FM rock stations at the time, the song has become an anthem for Jeffreys and is one of his most widely recognized works. 

Remaining true to his music and his message, the poetic Jeffreys made his debut on the European and U.K. record charts with the release of his “Matador” album in 1979, peaking in the Top Five.

Two years later, his “Escape Artist” album would make the Top 100 in America on the strength of the single “96 Tears.”

“I just came back from playing a tour in England that was just fantastic,” says Jeffreys. “It was great rocking with my band and having a lot of fun making music. Jimmy Page came down to one of the shows. That was great. The crowds were really cool.”

“I’m glad there is still interest,” adds Jeffreys. “For some reason, I’ve never really pursued the English market. I went last year, and we had a great little reception. This time was even better. We played from Scotland all the way down to the bottom of the U.K. I’m quite thrilled about it.”

Jeffreys was featured in the 2003 documentary “The Soul of a Man,” part of the film series “The Blues” produced by Martin Scorsese.

Look for a new album release from Jeffreys later this year as a follow-up to his 2013 jewel, “Truth Serum.”

“I’m in a great place,” says Jeffreys. “I’m a pretty happy guy these days. Things are going very sweetly. It couldn’t be better. I keep going. I’m fortunately healthy. I’m out there for an adventure to play music and wherever that takes me.”

Garland Jeffreys performs at the Sellersville Theater; located at 24 West Temple Ave., Sellersville, PA, on Saturday April 18, 2015 at 8:00 P.M. Tickets can be purchased by calling 215-257-5808 or on-line at www.st94.com.

To stay up to date with Garland Jeffreys visit www.garlandjeffreys.com

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Late Franny Beecher of Bill Haley and the Comets/ Benny Goodman Band 1921 - 2014



A photograph I recently located of me with Franny Beecher, formerly of Bill Haley and the Comets and The Benny Goodman Band. One of the greats that seldom gets mentioned. Taken backstage in Wildwood, NJ 2004.

Monday, March 16, 2015

THREE DOG NIGHT RETURNS TO LANCASTER, PA


 
Rock Legends Three Dog Night
To Play The American Music Theater

By Rob Nagy

Rising out of the tempestuous late 60’s political and music scene, Three Dog Night emerged with catchy, upbeat, simplistic songs that instantly resonated with the masses.

“In that era, everything was down and oppressive and against the man,” recalls co-founding member Cory Wells, speaking from his home in Las Vegas, Nevada. “We took the high road and went with everything positive - all positive songs, and we tried to keep things happy. If I had to pick a song, I would have to say that “Joy to the World” was the one that really emphasized Three Dog Night as a band.”

The brainchild of vocalists Cory Wells and Danny Hutton, who added friend and vocalist Chuck Negron to form a harmonic trio, Three Dog Night released an astonishing 21 successive hit singles, 11 of which made it to the Top Ten.

The Band recorded a dozen successive gold albums.   The songs “One,” “Joy To the World,” “Momma Told Me (Not to Come),” “ Black and White,” “Shambala,” “Celebrate” and “Old Fashioned Love Song” ignited the band’s popularity and legitimized Three Dog Night’s place in rock stardom, much to the dismay of harsh music critics.

“Three Dog Night was several forms of music formed into one band,” recalls Cory Wells.  “We had different singers with different avenues. I was the R&B guy. Danny was the middle of the road Beach-Boyish kind of guy, and Chuck was the balladeer. So, each song had its own element.”

“It was incredibly easy, and it seemed liked it was meant to be,” added Wells. “I was blown away by how fast things happened for us. We did a demo of an old Rascals tune called “If You Knew.” We presented that to the record company and they were chomping at the bit. They all wanted us. So we had this big playoff, so to speak, at this club, and the record companies came in to bid.”

After signing with Dunhill Records, Three Dog Night released their eponymous Platinum debut album, also known as “One,” in 1968.

“We went into the studio and just did all the material that we had, and this thing just took off,” recalls Wells. “We had all these singles coming off the first album, and they were on the charts. It was faster than I even thought. I had no idea that this was going to take off so quickly. It sort of caught us flat footed a little bit at the time.”

Wells, Hutton and Negron enlisted the full-time talents of back-up musicians Mike Allsup (guitar), Jimmy Greenspoon (keyboards), Joe Schermie (bass) and Floyd Sneed (drums) to round out the official line-up of Three Dog Night.

The single "One" was the group’s first Top Ten hit in 1969.  One year later, "Mama Told Me (Not to Come)" would become the first of three number one songs.

Three Dog Night’s music pervaded the airwaves throughout most of the 70’s. "Joy to the World" (1971) spent six weeks on top of the charts and became their biggest selling single. “Black and White" (1972) was their third and last number one single. The Show Must Go On" (1974) marked the band’s last single to reach the Top Ten.

Enormous fame led to inevitable power struggles between the band’s record label and management, and the trials and tribulations of super stardom also took a toll on the group. With a decade of success under their belt, Three Dog Night unfortunately disbanded in 1977.

“Management wanted us out touring, because that’s how they made their money,” recalls Wells. “The record company wanted us recording, because that’s how they made their money. So, we were barefoot and pregnant - kind of a good spot to be in when you’re in demand.”

“I was challenged, because other people chose to take different routes in how to celebrate their success, if you know what I’m saying,” added Wells. “That became a major challenge – the extra curricular enjoyment of success. I did many, many years of working clubs.  So, I think I was more grounded about how to handle success whereas some individuals went straight from their bedroom to the coliseum. So, they were having a hard time adjusting to success, and I think, of course, that is a downfall.”

Three Dog Night, featuring Wells and Hutton, reunited in the early 80’s. Missing was Chuck Negron who, by now, was battling serious drug addiction and would not return to the group.

“When the separation came between Danny and I and Mr. Negron, we didn’t want that, to be honest with you, but it just happened to turn out that way,” recalls Wells. “You have to move forward or you’ll die.  So, we moved forward. Michael and Jimmy stayed with us, and we had the nucleus of the band. The original bass player died, and the drummer had some medical issues that stopped him from touring with us.”

Five decades later, Wells, Hutton and Allsup remain as the core of the original Three Dog Night. Sadly, Keyboardist Jimmy Greenspoon passed earlier this month after a battle with melanoma.

The band is flourishing on tour, and is hoping to record new music when time allows.  Routinely performing sold out shows around the world, Wells is elated by the adulation Three Dog Night still receives.

“It’s cool, and it’s amazing,” says Wells. “We were at the right time and in the right place. The planets were all aligned. This should have been dead 25, 30 years ago, and yet we’re still there. We’re still going on. We’re very, very lucky. We’re very fortunate that we’re able to still do this. I know so many people that go to a job that they hate to do, and here I am.  I have the luxury of going to work and doing the thing that I absolutely love to do.”

Three Dog Night performs at the American Music Theatre, 2425 Lincoln Highway East, Lancaster, PA 17605, on Thursday March 26, 2015 at 8:00 P.M. Tickets can be purchased on-line at www.amtshows.com or by calling  (800) 648-4102 - (717) 397-7700.

To stay current with Three Dog Night visit www.threedognight.com


Sunday, March 15, 2015

HERB ALPERT AND LANI HALL ALPERT ARE COMING TO LANCASTER 3/29/15



The American Music Theater welcomes Herb Alpert and Lani Hall Alpert

By Rob Nagy


Music icon, philanthropist and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Herb Alpert, who turns 80 later this month, is back in the spotlight with the release of his latest album, “Herb Alpert In The Mood.”

Offering a collection of more than a dozen classics masterfully interpreted and arranged by Alpert, the album features American standards “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” “Blue Moon,” “Begin The Beguine,” “Spanish Harlem,” “When Sunny Gets Blue” and “America The Beautiful.” 

“Some songs pop up into my memory bank for whatever reason - I don’t know,” says Alpert from his Malibu, California home as he prepares to hit the road for more concerts. “When that happens, I see if I can pursue it and do it in a way that hasn’t been heard before. If it’s daunting, I pass on it. I’m super spontaneous. I try to do it as naturally as possible without fighting it. If something is fun for me to play, I think there will be a certain amount of people for whom it will be fun to listen to.”

“’America the beautiful’ - I wanted to do that because this country is a melting pot for people coming from all different parts of the world,” added Alpert. “We used percussion instruments from the seven different continents, put them all together and created this ‘America The Beautiful.’


This is a country where creativity can flourish. You can’t say that for many countries in this world.”


The new album features Alpert’s wife of 46 years, Grammy Award winning vocalist Lani Hall Alpert. Lani is best remembered as the voice of the hit Sergio Mendez 60’s group “Brasil ’66.”  She sang the title song in the 1983 James Bond film “Never Say Never Again.”


With nearly two-dozen albums to her credit, Lani won her first Grammy in 1986 for “Best Latin Pop Performance” for her album release “Es Facil Amar.” 


Herb Alpert rose to international prominence in the 60’s with his group “Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass.”


Responsible for recording the classic songs “A Taste of Honey,” “Spanish Flea,” “Whipped Cream,” “Casino Royale” (movie theme), “Lollipops and Roses,” “Tijuana Taxi” and “This Guy’s in Love With You,” to name just a few, Alpert is the recipient of 9 Grammy Awards, 15 Gold records, and 14 Platinum records, with worldwide record sales surpassing 72 million.


“I like the way I play,” Alpert modestly admits. “I remember in the 60’s when I was doing the Tijuana Brass.  I was doing the “Whipped Cream” album. I was sitting on top of the consul listening to a play back of “Taste of Honey.” I said to myself, ‘Man, this is good. I like it.  I would buy this (laughs).’ I think part of being a good artist is you have to underwrite what you’re doing.” 


“Timing and good luck are important,” says Alpert.


“It’s hard to predict that. You have to be at the right place at the right time, and if you’re prepared you can walk through the door. I think the mass appeal of all artists is honesty. I’m not trying to play to impress anyone. I’m trying to experience my own creativity and be as honest as I can in delivering those melodies. I was looking into my own way of expressing myself, and when I found it with that Tijuana Brass sound, it was a happy moment in my life.”


Forming the immensely successful A&M Records with Jerry Moss in the early 60’s, Lani came to the attention of Herb when the label signed “Brasil ‘66” in 1966.  A relationship with Lani ensued, and the couple remains inseparable to this day.


“I’m crazy about her, says Herb. “She changed my life. Last December we celebrated our 41st wedding anniversary. We’ve been together 46 years. She is an extraordinary person. She has this honesty that is unrelenting. She is honest to a fault. She’s smart. She’s a great writer. She’s a wonderful partner. She’s a wonderful wife. She’s a great compliment to what I’m doing.”


“We have a very special relationship, and we know it,” added Lani. “We’re aware of it, and we don’t take it for granted, that’s for sure.”


Lani recently released an audio book entitled “Emotional Memoirs & Short Stories,” a collection of fiction and non-fiction stories from her days growing up in 1960’s Chicago.  As Lani narrates, the listener is taken on an emotionally charged journey.  The book brings to life themes of adolescence, depression, relationships, sexuality and survival, enveloped with the music of Herb as well as other composers.


“It’s not an autobiography,” says Lani. ”It’s a book of ten short stories. When I was writing the book, I could hear music behind the scenes. I really thought I’d like to see what it felt like to hear music behind the narration. I had some things that I remembered Herb had recorded. I was told about this website called ‘Extreme Music,’ where all kinds of composers put pieces of their work, and you can lease whatever you choose. So, I started listening to these pieces. With each piece that I heard, I could see a scene in my head of something somewhere in the book, and that’s how I started piecing it together.”


“I felt like the book was coming to life,” added Lani. “It just felt so alive to me when I heard how the music made it feel. The music added an emotional landscape to the whole book. I’m really happy with how it turned out.”


Hall’s book is available for a limited time as a free download at www.lanihall.herbalpertpresents.com


Speaking of her talented husband, Lani Alpert says, “It’s very inspiring for me to be constantly around someone that’s that gifted and to see the amount of work he does.  He’s prolific with painting and sculpting and his music, recording, arranging and composing. It’s contagious.”


“I’m a lucky guy,” says Herb Alpert. “I know I’ve been blessed. I know that I have a gift and I want to share that gift. I’m still having a good time playing and I know I can make a certain amount of people happy with the music and I’m going to continue doing that.”


Herb Alpert and Lani Hall Alpert perform at the American Music Theatre, 2425 Lincoln Highway East, Lancaster, PA 17605, on Sunday March 29, 2015 at 7:00 P.M. Tickets can be purchased on-line at www.amtshows.com or by calling  (800) 648-4102 - (717) 397-7700.


To stay up to date with Herb Alpert visit www.herbalpertpresents.com.

TERRANCE SIMIEN AND "THE ZYDECO EXPERIENCE" RETURN TO SELLERSVILLE



 
Terrance Simien and “The Zydeco Experience” Return to Sellersville

By Rob Nagy

Grammy Award winning recording artist Terrance Simien is on a mission to preserve the heritage, integrity and longevity of zydeco music.

I’m a roots musician from the source,” says Terrence Simien, while on tour in Hawaii. “I’m from the southern part of Louisiana, where the music was born. I grew up 10 miles away from the city of Opelousas, which is the birthplace of zydeco.”

“The origin of zydeco music dates back to the 20’s, when people were doing jure´ [French for juror].  The Creoles would sing soulfully - almost confessing or testifying to the jure’, which was considered the most African sounding music in America,” added Simien. “There would be gatherings, and people would stand around in a circle clapping their hands, stomping their feet and passing around a jug, and drink and start singing. Everybody would have a verse in the song, and it would usually be something that happened during the day or during the week or years ago, something funny or something sad. The music went from that to where the accordion and the fiddle and the triangle and washboards and all added to it. It just kept evolving like that.” 
 
Inspired by the late Clifton Chenier (heralded as  “The Daddy of Zydeco Music”), Simien, while still in his teens, surfaced in the early 80’s fronting his first zydeco band, “Terrence Simien and the Mallet Playboys.”

With many of the originators of this style of music having passed on, Simien felt a responsibility to keep the rich history and the artistry alive lest it fade away.

“People came from the Caribbean to New Orleans with African, Spanish, French and native influences.  It was all mixed in,” says Simien. “Listen to that old ska music. That’s when you hear the similarities between that and zydeco. But it’s also a Creole thing. We are all Creole people with that Creole connection. It is all about honoring the traditions and the source of the music,” added Simien. “I’m very into the preservation of the freedom of identity the music has always had.”

Zydeco came to the forefront internationally in the late 40’s and early 50’s. Artists like Clifton Chenier, who was the first to label the genre as zydeco music, added electric instruments and amplification to the mix. Chenier ultimately caught the ear of rock and roll disc jockey Alan Freed.  He joined Freed on his concert tours, sharing the stage with artists like Etta James and Chuck Berry.

“That was the first time that zydeco music had gotten that kind of exposure,” recalls Simien. “His music was really the first to get out of Louisiana on that level. He was the most famous artist that traveled and made records – a great songwriter and musician. He was the baddest of the bad (laughs).  Clifton Chenier will always be the king of Zydeco!”

With dozens of collaborative and solo recordings under his belt, Simien and his longtime band, “Terrance Simien and the Zydeco Experience,” won the first Grammy Award for Best Zydeco or Cajun Music Album in 2008 for “Live! Worldwide.”

In 2014 Simien’s album “Dockside Sessions,” featuring traditional zydeco songs and works by Bob Dylan, the Grateful Dead and Toots & the Maytals, won a Grammy Award.
  
Simien has contributed music to TV movies and commercials as well as the films ”The Princess and the Frog,” “The Big Easy,” “Exit To Eden” and “A Murder of Crows.”

Whether he is sharing the concert stage or the recording studio with Paul Simon, Dr. John, Stevie Wonder, Dave Matthews or Los Lobos, Simien remains a vibrant and noble ambassador of zydeco and Creole music education and advocacy.

A self-proclaimed student of American and world history, Simien and his “Creole for Kidz” music program visited the Ukraine with stops in Kiev, Dnepropetrovsk and Georgia in 2012.

Teaming with his wife and business partner Cynthia, Simien created the “Creole for Kidz & The History of Zydeco” performing arts program. Launched in 2001, “Creole for Kidz” has touched the lives of more than half a million K-12 students, teachers and parents throughout the U.S. and abroad.

“Every year we reach thousands of kids,” says Simien. “They really get into the music. It’s the type of music that’s fun and energetic. The history behind it connects with a lot of different cultures and a lot of different people that came together in Louisiana, just like all of America.”

“We work with kids from all different economic situations,” added Simien. “We would really like to reach the kids from the lower economic situation. Kids are kids, no matter where they come from. I think the kids from the lower economic situation don’t get a chance to experience something like what we have.”

“Having their faces light up and seeing they really connected with the music,” says Simien, “I feel like I gave them a vision outside the unfortunate situations that they come from. Just that vision alone, something that simple with the music, can bring them into a different place.”

In 2003, the Simiens founded “Music Matters, Inc.,” a non-profit advocate for music artists in Louisiana offering gratis services with emergency financial assistance, access to musical instruments and equipment and help in negotiating performance contracts. They have also raised thousands of dollars to send zydeco and Cajun music Grammy nominees to the Grammy awards.

“The older I get, the more I see what music is doing for people. It’s such a blessing to be able to do what I’m doing.  I’m the luckiest man in the world. I smile a lot because there is a lot to smile about (laughs).”
  
Terrance Simien and the Zydeco Experience will perform at the Sellersville Theater; located at 24 West Temple Ave., Sellersville, PA, on Thursday March 19, 2015 at 8:00 P.M. Tickets can be purchased by calling 215-257-5808 or on-line at www.st94.com.

To stay up to date with Terrance Simien visit www.terrancesimien.com.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

GRAMMY WINNER JERRY DOUGLAS RETURNS TO THE PHILLY AREA

Grammy Award winning music legend Jerry Douglas performing at the historic Colonial Theater in Phoenixville, PA 3/7/15

Friday, March 13, 2015

THE PASSING OF THREE DOG NIGHT KEYBOARDIST JIMMY GREENSPOON




February 7, 1948 – March 11, 2015

Keyboard player Jimmy Greenspoon, an original band member of the iconic
American band Three Dog Night, has died at his home in North Potomac,
Maryland. He was 67.

Three Dog Night announced his death that occurred on March 11th and followed
a brief but valiant struggle with cancer. Greenspoon joined the band in 1968 and
had been working with them up until October 2014 when he took a medical leave
of absence to pursue treatment for metastatic melanoma.
“I will be forever shattered by his death,” said Cory Wells, co-founder of the band,
“Jimmy cared so much about excellence in the music and always made sure we
had what we needed on stage and in the recording studio. I was amazed by his
photographic memory, his love for music. I will miss my fellow Aquarian brother
and will keep him in my heart forever.” Danny Hutton, the other Three Dog Night
co-founder, met Greenspoon in the mid-60’s. “He was like a brother to me, I
knew him since he was just a teenager and he was my oldest friend in the band,”
states Hutton. “Also, Jimmy was a critical part of our early history, bringing a
sound to the band that helped develop our style; he left an indelible mark.”
Jimmy was born in Los Angeles to Adolph Maurice Greenspoon, a successful
entrepreneur, and Mary Thompson, an actress. He was a classically trained
pianist who also excelled as a pop musician. Starting his first band while still in
high school, the surf-band New Dimensions that released three records, he went
on to form several other bands before landing with Three Dog Night.
During his wide-ranging career, Greenspoon was a songwriter, composer,
manager, travel agent, author and DJ but mostly he was a brilliant keyboardist.
Hailed as an inventive player who was passionate about all forms of music,
Jimmy also worked with Linda Ronstadt, Lowell George, Chris Hillman, Red
Bone, Jeff Beck, Tim Bogert, Carmine Appice, Michael Lloyd, Kim Fowley and
was a featured artist on a 2015 release with The Royal Philharmonic.
His work with Three Dog Night however defined his career and his musicianship
is heard throughout their well-known hits “One”, “Mama Told Me (Not to Come)”,
“Eli’s Coming”, “Joy to the World”, “Black and White”, and “Shambala” among
others that propelled Three Dog Night to the top of the charts in the late 60’s and
early 70’s when they sold more records and concert tickets than any other band
in America.

Jimmy is survived by his wife, Susie, daughter, Heather Miller and
granddaughters Rachel and Kayla Miller. Services are pending.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

ROGER HODGSON HITS THE CONCERT TRAIL IN 2015




ROGER HODGSON, formerly of SUPERTRAMP,
2015 Breakfast in America World Tour
Roger Hodgson co-founded Supertramp in 1969 and was with them until his departure in 1983. During the 14 years that he was with the band he wrote, sang, and arranged most of the enduring rock standards that made Supertramp a worldwide phenomenon.  His timeless classics - “Give a Little Bit,” “The Logical Song,” “Dreamer,” “Take the Long Way Home,” “Breakfast in America,” “School,” “Fool’s Overture,” “It’s Raining Again,” helped the band sell well over 60 million albums.

KEB MO AT SCOTTISH RITE IN COLLINGSWOOD, NJ 3/11/15

Keb Mo and his band captivated a near sellout crowd! Stay tune for my impending review.




Saturday, March 7, 2015

JAZZ GUITARIST MIKE KENNEDY AT CHRIS' JAZZ CAFE/ REVIEW





Jazz Guitarist Mike Kennedy
at Chris’ Jazz Café

By Rob Nagy

Jazz enthusiasts, enduring a frigid Friday night, recently gathered at Philly’s Chris’ Jazz Café to celebrate the release of guitarist Mike Kennedy’s latest album, “Insulation.”

Having masterfully written and recorded this first-rate collection of new original compositions, Kennedy and his outstanding trio (Mike Frank (Piano/Wurlitzer), Paul Gehman (Bass) and Dan Monaghan (Drums)) performed two flawless sets featuring material from the record.

From studio to the stage, the quartet performed with precision and ease. Spirited renditions of “Bell,” “Meridian,” “Verb,” “Reminder,” “Yours Alone,” “Compression,” “My Account,” “Elastic” and “Insulation,” along with selections from Kennedy’s prior releases, evoked earnest cheers and applause.

The mild mannered Kennedy smiled and took the occasional bow as he glided from song to song.

While Kennedy was undoubtedly the focal point of the evening, he gave each player ample time in the spotlight.  Sizzling solos highlighted many of the evening’s selections, treating both the band and the audience to a joyful night of classic improvisational jazz.

For Kennedy individually, this was a jubilant homecoming. Having grown up in the Philadelphia area, he currently serves as the esteemed Guitar Chair at the University of the Arts. Many of his students and their families and friends were in attendance to witness a glowing performance. Watching their enthusiastic appreciation of Kennedy and his music made the night even more pleasurable. 

If you’re a fan of classic or contemporary jazz, make it a point to check out Mike Kennedy, one of our City’s music treasures. 

To stay up to date with Mike Kennedy, visit www.kennedymusic.com.

Photo by Rob Nagy

Monday, March 2, 2015

THE MARSHALL TUCKER BAND RETURNS TO SELLERSVILLE MARCH 18th



The Marshall Tucker Band
to Rock Sellersville

By Rob Nagy

“The Marshall Tucker Band,” led by co-founding member and vocalist Doug Gray, is still going strong after 43 rocking years.

“I still have the fire and passion for what I do,” says front man Doug Gray, from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. “It’s all about being committed to the music and being loyal to the fans. I’m never going to let that go away. “

“I feel like the Marshall Tucker Band was meant to be on this earth,” added Gray. “I think the reason people look forward to coming to see us is that they met their girlfriend, boyfriend, husband or wife or got married to one of our songs. They want to come and celebrate that memory that we helped to create with them years ago.”


Leading an exceptional line-up of veteran musicians (Marcus James Henderson (keyboards and flute), Rick Willis (guitar), Pat Elwood (bass), B.B. Borden (drums) and Chris Hicks (guitar)), Gray sees no reason to pull the plug on Marshall Tucker anytime soon.

“A lot of people are saying this is the best line-up we’ve had in years,” says Gray. “It doesn’t hurt my feelings. I know how good our first band was, and I know that’s what has kept us around.  I know it’s the loyalty that these guys have which is why people are selling out our shows and asking us to come back.”

“Our original band was great,” added Gray. “This new band is great. It’s just a new style, a new kind of great. It’s music that is flowing. It’s music that people are putting their hearts into. If you’ve seen us, you know what that’s all about. It’s about being great every night - being really solid and tight and making people wonder how in the world you can still do it and have that emotion. People ask me that a lot. I say, ‘well, when the music’s good and the foundation’s good, you can build the tallest building.’”

Formed in Spartanburg, South Carolina in 1972 by Gray, Toy Caldwell (lead guitar), Jerry Eubanks (keyboards, saxophone and flute), George McCorkle (guitar), Paul Riddle (drums) and Tommy Caldwell (bass), the band merged rock, R&B, jazz, country and gospel to create the classic sound of Marshall Tucker (a name the band spontaneously pulled off the key tag of the rented warehouse where they first rehearsed; they later discovered the moniker belonged to the prior lessee of the space, a blind piano tuner).

Marshall Tucker’s self-titled debut album was released one year later, featuring the single “Can’t You See.” Re-released in 1977, “Can’t You See” reached Billboard’s Hot 100 and was soon regarded as one of rock and roll’s greatest songs.  Music website Ultimate Classic Rock solidified the song’s standing in 2012 by recognizing “Can’t You See” as the greatest Southern Rock song ever recorded.

“Toy walked in and said, ‘I got this song,’” recalls Gray. “As the lead singer I tried to sing it, but it just didn’t sound right. I said, ‘the way you sing it is testified. You need to sing that.’ If you listened to the first version of it, it was testified in a real simple southern rock type of thing. He sang that song like he was almost angry, but he was smiling while he was singing it. I can’t imagine a better song.”

The hits kept coming. “Fire on the Mountain” (1975), “Heard It in a Love Song” (1976), “Dream Lover” (1978) and “Last of the Singing Cowboys” (1979) all helped secure the Marshall Tucker Band as one of Southern Rock’s greatest.

While riding a wave of commercial success, tragedy hit home when Tommy Caldwell was killed in a car crash in 1980.  His brother Toy, then Marshall Tucker’s principle songwriter, left the band in 1982.  Succumbing to health issues, he passed away in 1993.

After the 1983 disbanding of the original group, Gray and Eubanks resurrected Marshall Tucker, recording and touring until Eubanks departed the band in 1996.

For more than a decade, Gray has remained as the cornerstone of the Marshall Tucker Band, who perform as many as 150 concerts in a given year. The band has released a series of albums (“Way Out West Live From San Francisco 1973” (2010), “The Marshall Tucker Band’s Doug Gray: Soul of the South” (2011), “Greatest Hits” (2011) and “Live! From Spartanburg, South Carolina” (2013)) that keep Marshall Tucker in the hearts and minds of their loyal fan base.

“For people to recognize these songs and say, ‘man, that’s a pretty good song,’ and still want to hear those songs - it’s more than overwhelming,” says Gray. “The real reason, I think, people continue to come see the Marshall Tucker Band is that we don’t let them down.  We know our foundation is the strength in the unity of the band. Once we walk onto that stage, we don’t think about anything else except how good we can make that particular song work. That’s the legacy of the whole Marshall Tucker Band - to go out there and play your a-- off and show people how good you really are regardless of what period of time.”

 “I’m just pleased that people still want us,” says Gray. “It excites me. It gives me life. It makes me feel good. All I want to do is keep playing.”

The Marshall Tucker Band performs at the Sellersville Theater, located at 24 West Temple Ave., Sellersville, PA, Wednesday March 18, 2015 at 8:00 P.M. Tickets and can be purchased by calling 215-257-5808 or on-line at www.st94.com.

To stay up to date with the Marshall Tucker Band, visit www.marshalltucker.com.

Photo by Clay Terrelll