Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Paul McCartney fires up the Hollywood Bowl

Paul McCartney, as photographed on the video screen. The shot of the Hollywood Bowl and fireworks were taken during "Live and Let Die."

I still can't believe that it has been more than 40 years since The Beatles broke up, and nearly 50 years since the Fab Four arrived on the international stage.

Watching 67-year-old Paul McCartney tear through a mind-boggling set of material dating from the early 1960s to the dawn of this century in a sold-out show at the Hollywood Bowl last night (Tuesday, March 30) was worth the ticket price for sure. But what is even more impressive is how McCartney and his music (whether performing his own songs, or gems penned by John Lennon and George Harrison) defy the "here today, gone today" mindset of modern-day celebrity and pop culture.

Although I was seated way in the back of the gigantic venue (I purchased my tickets through American Express pre-sale and despite getting online immediately, got terrible seats), McCartney and his strong four-man band delivered magic for close to three hours.

While McCartney's best-known staples were all delivered in fine form ("Let It Be," "Hey Jude," "Yesterday"), it were many of the alternative choices that delighted me most. I first caught McCartney live with his band Wings back at the Forum in the late 1970s (I think it was in 1976) and he played few Beatles songs at that show. Nowadays, McCartney raids music's most illustrious catalog and we fans can only shout (and sing along) at our good fortune.

On Tuesday night, McCartney offered up a two-tier take on Harrison's "Something." He began the song alone accompanied by the actual ukulele (a small four-string musical instrument) given to him by Harrison before the rest of his band came in with an arrangement resembling the version on Abbey Road. Lead guitarist Rusty Anderson provided the wonderful solo.

A few songs later, McCartney noted that he was going to perform a song he had not played on tour in America until this current one; what followed was a lively, feel-good "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" that pleased kids of all ages.

He also performed Lennon's haunting lines in "A Day in the Life" (as well as his own), before going into a crowd-rousing "Give Peace a Chance" in tribute to his old bandmate.

But what made this show particularly memorable for me was the inclusion of more rare stuff.

When it came to choice Beatles tracks, there was "Two Of Us" and an extended "Paperback Writer."

One of my favorite songs from the Wings era is a great soulful rocker "Letting Go" from his Venus And Mars album. And while the original recorded version boasts a horn section and had a slight funk groove, the guitar-anchored take offered up at the Hollywood Bowl was fantastic.

Sir Paul and company even kicked off the night with the title track from that great disc, a song that boasts the apt lyric "rock 'n' roll at the Hollywood Bowl." And there is no doubt that the Bowl's incredible outdoor setting was the perfect place to stage the dazzling fireworks that soared into the cold night as the band rocked out playing "Live and Let Die."

It takes a lot to drag me up to the Hollywood Bowl on a weeknight, to fight the gridlock and fork over $21 to park (no kidding! I paid just over $11 for my ticket to see McCartney & Wings 35 years ago!), but this was a concert experience I'll always remember. A Magical Mystery Tour indeed.

Here is the setlist from Tuesday (the concert began at 8:13 p.m. and ended at 11 p.m.):

1) Venus and Mars

2) Jet

3) All My Loving

4) Letting Go

5) Got to Get You Into My Life

6) Highway (The Fireman)

7) Let Me Roll It

8) Foxey Lady (a short instrumental jam of the Jimi Hendrix classic)

9) The Long and Winding Road

10) Nineteen-Hundred and Eighty Five

11) Everything's Fine

12) My Love

13) I'm Looking Through You

14) Two Of Us

15) Here Today (a moving tribute to John Lennon)

16) Dance Tonight

17) Mrs. Vanderbilt

18) Eleanor Rigby

19) Something

20) Sing the Changes (Fireman)

21) Band on the Run

22) Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

23) Back In The USSR

24) I've Got a Feeling

25) Paperback Writer

26) A Day in the Life

27) Give Peace a Chance

28) Let It Be

29) Live and Let Die

30) Hey Jude

31) Day Tripper

32) Lady Madonna

33) Get Back

34) Yesterday

35) Helter Skelter

36) Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band Reprise

37) The End

Monday, March 29, 2010

Orianthi, Piebald and others standout at Bamboozle

Photo credit: Drew A. Kelley
This story was originally published earlier today on the Orange County Register Web site in the Soundcheck blog.
With any kind of festival featuring so many artists spread across a trio of stages, there are sure to be hits and misses. Fortunately, there were a number of highlights strewn throughout Sunday's (March 28) second half of the Bamboozle California to make the even worthwhile.
Strumming awy on the side stage was Bobby Long, a British singer-songwriter with a rick, authentic baritone, who delivered his songs to the lone accompaniment of an acoustic guitar. He got a small but enthusiastic crowd to listen to winning songs such as "Penance Fire Blues."
Following Long on the side stage was San Diego-based We Shot the Moon, a gifted quartet that performed a 30-minute set highlighted by the infectious "Miracle," the driving "Red Night" and the piano-anchored "The Brightside." Singer Jonathan Jones' voice (notably his use of a distinctive falsetto) and inventive keyboard playing provided the extra element to bring depth to the group's mix of indie, Britpop and modern rock, blended into a sound all its own.
Although Orianthi (pictured above) has performed or appeared on recordings with the far-flung likes of Michael Jackson, Steve Vai, Carlos Santana and Carrie Underwood, there is no doubt the 25-year-old Australia native is rapidly becoming a star on her own. Performing on the main stage, the virtuoso may not yet have found the ideal way to combine AC/DC-esque riff-rock ("Think Like a Man"), 1980s-mining Van Halen ("Feels Like Home") and commercial pop (her biggest hit, "According to You had everyone dancing around). But she can sure shred on the guitar.
Her half-hour appearance was noteworthy simply because it was such a break from so many of the other alt- and indie-styled rockers. With her mix of blues and metal sensibilities, Orianthi wound up one of few truly alternative acts of the festival. And on song after song she provided dazzling and stylish guitar work, whether in quick licks or extended solos.
Not every act was so convincing, however. I grew bored with the Ready Set, out of Fort Wayne, Ind., and walked away after two songs. The quartet worked hard to involved the audience and played its alt-pop with zeal, yet their songs and music just weren't strong enough to sustain my interest.
The same can't be said, though, of the powerful reunion set from Piebald. The four-man outfit, celebrating a number of upcoming reissues this spring (as well as a live DVD, Nobody's Robots - A Farewell to Piebald), the group rocked hard, immediately connecting with a fanatical crowd positioned in front of the side stage. The band's mix of hardcore, emo, Americana and Devo-ish quirkiness continues to be a winning formula.
And this post wouldn't be complete without a nod to the amazing performance by Something Corporate. The headliner took the stage right on schedule (8:30 p.m.) and proceeded to play 14 great songs over the course of 65 minutes. It was great to see one of Orange County's best bands back in action again. Writer George Paul reviewed their set at length and you can read that in the Soundcheck blog at

Reunion of Something Corporate a wonderful thing

Photo credit: Drew A. Kelley
The timing couldn't be more perfect. Last night, I caught Orange County's own Something Corporate in a glorious reunion show on the Main Stage at The Bamboozle at Angel Stadium in Anaheim. The band was great and the crowd packed in front of singer-pianist Andrew McMahon, lead guitarist Josh Partington, bassist Kevin "Clutch" Page and drummer Brian Ireland was enthuasiastic. Big time.
Today comes a press release with more exciting news about Something Corporate, a band I have covered dating back to the mid 1990s when all of the members were attending high school in South Orange County:

The Reunion of Alt-Rock favorite Something Corporate includes concerts, new recordings and retrospective "Played in Space: The Best of Something Corporate"

LOS ANGELES, March 29, 2010 -- After a multi-year hiatus, Something Corporate has reunited, marking the occasion with a return to the studio and the stage, as well as a retrospective 2-CD collection. Played in Space: the Best of Something Corporate (Geffen/UMe) will be released April 27, 2010 and brings together 14 highlights from the acclaimed Orange County, California band's career to date. The first disc contains alt-rock favorites "I Woke Up In A Car," "If You C Jordan," "Punk Rock Princess" and "Space." The bonus CD includes a new recording, "Wait," an exclusive remix of "Forget December," the fan-favorite rarity "Konstantine" (played with power in Anaheim last night too!), the previously-unreleased in the U.S. "Watch The Sky," and a new remix of "I Woke Up In A Car" by Owl City's Adam Young. A version exclusive to iTunes also includes a new recording, "Letters To Noelle."

Just having played Bamboozle Left, the performance at Angel Stadium in Anaheim on March 28 was a homecoming for singer-pianist Andrew McMahon, lead guitarist Josh Partington, bassist Kevin "Clutch" Page and drummer Brian Ireland. They will also play Bamboozle Chicago on May 15 and Bamboozle East on May 1. To coincide with the announcment of these shows, the Something Corporate online merch store, is also relaunching. The new store features both new T-shirt designs as well as a few classics.

Since going their separate ways in 2004, McMahon founded Jack's Mannequin, released two critically acclaimed albums and defeated leukemia, while Partington formed the band Firescape. Only a brief appearance at Bamboozle Left in 2006 had brought them together until January 2010 when they re-entered a studio to "revisit a couple of demos ("Letters To Noelle" and "Wait") that," said McMahon in an interview with the Orange County Weekly, "we still loved and that we always wanted to get to."

Something Corporate's piano-driven punk-pop tunes debuted with the indie release Ready...Break in 2000 before its widely-avaiable 2001 EP Audioboxer, which included "Walking By" via Drive-Thru. The band made its major label debut with 2002's Leaving Through The Window. Played in Space: the Best of Something Corporate culls eight of that album's tracks: "I Woke Up In A Car," "Hurricane," "Fall," "I Want To Save You," "Cavanaugh Park," "If You C Jordan," "Punk Rock Princess" and "The Astronaut." 2003's North contributes "Space," "She Paints Me Blue," "Mee and the Moon," "Down" and "Ruthless."

At the dawn of the new millennium, Something Corporate was hailed as one of rock's most promising new forces. A decade later, Something Corporate is back.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Laurence Juber to perform in O.C. twice this weekend

This article was posted on the Orange County Register Web site on March 25, 2010. I took the photo seen here a few years ago at the NAMM show in Anaheim.

One of the world's best-known acoustic guitarists is returning to south Orange County for two performances this weekend.

Laurence Juber will appear in Dana Point on Friday, March 26 and in Mission Viejo on Saturday, March 27 as part of the Lord of the Strings Concert Series. Juber's latest album, "Wooden Horses," released in October by Seal Beach-based Solid Air Records, features the two-time Grammy-winning guitarist performing instrumental works that showcase his technical virtuosity and artful arrangements.

The 14 tracks on "Wooden Horses" allow the composer and fingerstyle guitarist to showcase acoustic guitar on the Latin-tinged "Guitar Noir" and the tender "Being Here with You" while delivering a "wow" factor with speedy fretwork on the jazz-minded "Maple Avenue Strut" and the ragtime-mining title track.

"Wooden Horses" was released a few months after another album featuring Juber's guitar work. "Poppin' Guitars: A Tuneful of Sherman" features instrumental guitar arrangements of songs by the Sherman Brothers. Juber's take on "A Spoonful of Sugar" (originally featured in the movie "Mary Poppins") is part of that 15-song collection.

Juber, a member of Paul McCartney and Wings in the late 1970s and early '80s, earned a Best Rock Instrumental Grammy for the track "Rockestra" (featured on Wings' 1979 album "Back to the Egg"). During Juber's solo career, he picked up a second Grammy for his guitar arrangement of "The Pink Panther Theme" featured on the "Henry Mancini - Pink Guitar" collection released in 2004. Juber has released more than a dozen full-length discs since hsi debut, "Solo Flight," in 1990.

Highlights of his solo discography include "LJ Plays the Beatles" (2000), "I've Got the World on Six Strings" (2006) and "PCH" (2007). Juber will perform at the Dana Point Community House, 24642 San Juan Ave., Dana Point, at 7:30 p.m. on March 26. He will also perform at Mission Viejo Civic Center, 200 Civic Center, Mission Viejo, at 7 p.m. on March 27. Tickets are $25.

For more information, call 949-842-2227 or visit

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Rolling Stones ink DVD deal with Eagle Rock Entertainment

This arrived in my box today. For fans of The Rolling Stones '70s-era gems, this news is epic.

New York, NY (March 18, 2010) - Eagle Rock Entertainment are delighted to announce that they have signed a deal with the Rolling Stones to release two DVDs this year. The Rolling Stones have long been viewed by many as Britain's most important rock 'n' roll band and these releases, concentrating on some of their finest work laid down in the 1970s, will certainly cement that reputation.

The first of the releases Stones In Exile is the story of the making of the classic album Exile On Main Street, which was released in 1972 as a double LP and is considered by many to be their masterpiece. This title is due to be released in June 2010 with substantial bonus material and follows the boradcast of the main show by the BBC in late May, and the reissue of the album at the same time.

The second of the releases is Ladies And Gentlemen...The Rolling Stones, the legendary Rolling Stones concert film from 1972. Fully restored from the original film, it will be released nationally in cinemas and then receive its first ever authorized DVD release. The title will also be released in high definition on Blu-ray in the Autumn of 2010.

The Rolling Stones line-up featured on both Stones In Exile and Ladies And Gentlemen...The Rolling Stones is: Mick Jagger (vocals), Keith Richards (guitars) Bill Wyman (bass), Charlie Watts (drums) and Mick Taylor (guitars). NOTE: Mick Taylor is scheduled to make a rare live appearance here in Orange County, CA when he headlines at The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano on Thursday night, May 13, 2010.

Geoff Kempin of Eagle Rock commented, "We are delighted to add a band of such unparalleled caliber as the Rolling Stones to our catalogue and are delighted to bring to consumers a pair of such important and high quality titles."

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Music of Ireland celebrated on 'Welcome Home' collection

'Music of Ireland - Welcome Home'
With the arrival of St. Patrick's Day tomorrow, now is the perfect time to celebrate the music of the Emerald Isle.
A new collection Music of Ireland - Welcome Home was released March 2, with both CD and DVD/CD versions of the release serving as companion media for the two-part Public Television (PBS) special aired this month. Ireland is a small island in the north Atlantic, but its musical influence is as mighty as any nation on the planet. While U2, Van Morrison, Bell X1, The Saw Doctors, The Corrs and The Cranberries are among my favorite of Ireland's musical exports in the rock era, there are countless more artists worth embracing that draw on the traditional Celtic roots of Ireland.
Music of Ireland boasts more than a dozen selections showcasing the authentic spirit of a sound that has influenced Americana folk, bluegrass and modern rock. When those mostly unfamiliar with traditional Irish music have asked me why I enjoy it so much, I tell them it is a combination of the rousing sing-alongs, jigs and haunting ballads performed courtesy of a palette of fiddles, mandolins, banjos and various other instruments that magically blend with the voices and melodies that are seemingly part of the DNA of those who come from Ireland.
The Music of Ireland features new material from Grammy Award-winners Moya Brennan, The Chieftains and Sinead O'Connor, as well as Academy Award-winner Glen Hansard (The Swell Season), Damien Rice, tenor Ronan Tynan, Damien Dempsey, Andrea Corr (who is the lead singer and plays tin whistle with The Corrs) and more. From O'Connor's fusion of traditional Celtic and world music styles in her "Song to the Siren" to the gorgeous blend of Uilleann pipes, fiddle, flute and Irish harp that enhance a collaboration between The Chieftains and Moya Brennan ("Lullaby for the Dead"), this fine disc serves as both an introduction for the uninitiated or a welcome addition to long-time fans of Irish music.
There are several ways to get either the CD or DVD (which features a bonus music CD of material not included on the regular CD release) version of Music of Ireland - Welcome Home. Shoppers can get them at Barnes and Noble stores that sell music, and can also purchase the tracks digitally via And they will be bundled as a bonus gift for those who donate to their favorite PBS station during pledge drives.
For more information, visit
And Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Toad the Wet Sprocket impresses in show at The Galaxy

Although Toad the Wet Sprocket hasn't released an album of new material since 1997's outstanding Coil, the quartet still performs a few dates every year to the delight of the band's enduring fan base.
On Friday night, the outfit proved that there are few acts better to revisit the past without being buried by it. While the majority of songs in the band's 21-song set came from TTWS's trio of best-known '90s releases (Fear, Dulcinea and the aforementioned Coil), the group offered up some rare music from its earliest days with a shimmering "Way Away" from the band's 1989 debut Bread and Circus the uptempo pop-rocker "P.S." (unreleased until 1999 when it was included on a retrospective) and the evolving ballad-to-rocker "Torn" from 1990's Pale.
Although there was a looseness to the set (notably singer-guitarists Glen Phillips and Todd Nichols having to frequently tune their own guitars), Toad continues to use the power of its songbook and its ability to perform those songs with precision to please audiences like the large one that filled the Galaxy on Friday.
Phillips' voice continues to marvel, whether singing the haunting lines of "Something's Always Wrong" or fiery folk rock of "Fall Down," and Nichols' guitar work was displayed in all ways subtle ("Crowing") and straightforward ("Brother") over the course of 90 minutes. And the use of spot-on two- and three-part harmonies added power to many of the songs, especially on the country-folk of "Windmills."
The set list included all the band's best-known hits ("All I Want," "Whatever I Fear," "Good Intentions" and the night-ending "Walk on the Ocean"), but was clearly lifted with the inclusion of Toad's line-up (including original members Randy Guss on drums and Dean Dinning on bass and backing vocals) backing Phillips as he sang his solo material (including a wonderful "Everything But You" from his album Mr. Lemons).
As time marches on, these Toad outings become more precious. And as Phillips sang so movingly as the concert moved to its inevitable conclusion: "And somebody told me that this is the place / where everything's better, everything's safe."

Area band Whalen opened the show with a solid mix of country-styled rock in the tradition of the Eagles and Poco. The highlight of the band's set were the catchy "Better All the Time" and "Live Like a Daydream."

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Watch DEVO on TV's 'Yo Gabba Gabba' on March 11

It's about time that the influential band DEVO returned to the well-deserved spotlight. Here is the latest news about the band and how you can tune in/Tivo/DVR to catch the group play a new song on Thursday, March 11, 2010:

Burbank, CA – Oh No, it’s DEVO! That’s right, D-E-V-O performing a new song on Nickelodeon and Nick Jr.’s YO GABBA GABBA this Thursday, March 11, at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. respectively.
Mark, Jerry, Bob 1 and Bob 2 will perform “Watch us Work It,” on the YO GABBA GABBA show this coming Thursday carried on both Nickelodeon at 10:30 a.m. and again on Nick Jr. at 1 p.m. PST. Check local listings in your time zone for details. Can also check for further info.
Once again, go directly to to be part of a public color study to help determine the outcome of necessary and important data to be used by DEVO! It’s fun and you’ll help make history before history is made!
Spud Fashion never dies! Display your allegiance with new DEVO merchandise @ If you haven’t already, hear “Fresh” now at:

Monday, March 08, 2010

The Bird and the Bee's tribute to Hall & Oates

John Oates, guitar in hand, made a surprise guest appearance with The Bird and The Bee on March 5.
Anybody that is a frequent reader of this blog or my music coverage in The Orange County Register knows I am a long-time fan of Hall & Oates.
So it's no surprise I'm pleased with The Bird and The Bee's Interpreting The Masters Volume 1: A Tribute To Daryl Hall and John Oates, set for release by EMI's Blue Note Records on March 23, 2010.
Here is the release from EMI that landed in my inbox earlier today:
The Bird and The Bee, the duo of singer Inara George and multi-instrumentalist/producer Greg Kurstin, kicked off a musical scavenger hunt for their fans today by premiering all nine songs from their new album Interpreting The Masters Volume 1: A Tribute To Daryl Hall and John Oates on nine different Web sites: AOL Spinner, BrooklynVegan, Entertainment Weekly, Idolator, MySpace, PerezHilton, Prefix, and SPIN, and USA Today. The acclaimed band's third full-length album, which will be released March 23 on EMI's Blue Note Records, is a love letter to famed "rock and soul" duo Hall & Oates that features eight classic covers along with one new (and awesome, I might add) original song "Heard It On The Radio."
The Bird and The Bee played a once-in-a-lifetime concert on Friday night (March 5) at the El Rey Theater in Los Angeles to celebrate the album release, and were joined on stage by very special surprise guest John Oates for performances of "Maneater," "She's Gone" and "I Can't Go For That." In a rave review in today's Los Angeles Times, writer August Brown wrote that Oates "couldn't have asked for a more articulate love letter than the one the bird and the bee just gave him." The entire concert was webcast live at, and will be archived on the site starting on Monday, March 22.
I know I was at writer Whitney Matheson's popular Pop Candy blog on USA Today earlier today and they were streaming "Private Eyes." It sounded so great that I had to go back and listen to my digital advance of the full tribute album. I'll have more to say about this wonderful The Bird and The Bee tribute the week of its release.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Upcoming shows aplenty: BugGiRL, The Church & more

BugGiRL will be in Huntington Beach on March 2, 2010.
For those of us who live in Orange County, the good news is that bands going on tour that land in Los Angeles increasingly offer up shows behind the OC too.
March and April 2010 offer up plenty of great shows. While we'll have to drive to Hollywood to see Sir Paul McCartney or head east to see Muse, Devo, Band of Skulls and tons of others at the Coachella fest in Indio April 16-18, there will be plenty of concert choices in our own backyard.
Things kick off tomorrow, March 2, when the Australian sister/brother duo BugGiRL (Amber and Clinno) perform at Fitzgerald's Pub, 19171 Magnolia St., Huntington Beach. Since forming in 2004, BugGiRL has performed throughout Europe, North America and their native land Down Under. They are touring in support of their latest release, the five-track EP Blood, Sweat & Beers. This record, the band's third, is described in a press release as "a blast of fearless rock 'n' roll."
If you don't catch the band in Huntington Beach on Tuesday, they play in Banning, CA on March 3.
One of my favorite power-pop bands of the '90s, the Gin Blossoms, will return to The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano on Saturday night, March 27. Also on the bill is one of OC's best Americana outfits, The Fallen Stars.
Also coming to the Coach House is Australia's The Church. The legendary band, which formed in 1980 and is best known for its 1988 hit "Under the Milky Way," is kicking off its tour of the U.S. as part of the band's celebration of its 30th year together with this special acoustic-styled show.
Finally, for those not making the trek out to Coachella next month, Canadian singer-songwriter-guitarist Bruce Cockburn is headlining at the Coach House on Friday, April 16.
For more information on any of the upcoming concerts at The Coach House, visit or call the venue at 949-496-8930.