Thursday, March 29, 2018

Thursday This And That

Burton Cummings:   
GREAT Burton Cummings review … and, as always, spot on.  

Hi Kent -
Good to read the great review you gave Burton Cummings but I am waiting for the reunion concert with Randy Bachman.  I remember all their songs with a band backing them up.
Burton and Randy had a distinct sound together which should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. " American Woman"  is a National Anthem in Rock and Roll ... and Randy didn't do 'too bad' with his "Takin' Care of Business" either!
Hope they come together soon.  That would be a complete SELL  OUT for Mr. Onesti!
Keep Rockin',
I can assure you that it is Ron Onesti's dream to reunite these two one more time.  NOTHING would please him more.  (And he's on great terms with both of them … but in the end, it all comes down to Randy and Burton.)  All I know is that we have seen it FAR too often … especially lately … take the moment to do it NOW while you still can … NOBODY knows what tomorrow may bring … and it SURE would be sad to see these guys end things on a sour note.  (kk)

Here's my review of the FRIDAY Night Burton Cummings show at The Arcada Theatre …
It was another fine time at the Arcada Theatre in St Charles, IL, a lovely old place that goes back to the silent films era … and, free parking just a block away!
Opening the show was a four piece, unplugged-style group, calling themselves The Chicago Hitmen.  Since I can’t find anything about them online, I’m wondering whether they might have been an ad-hoc, pick-up band.  The bass player / vocalist, and acoustic guitar / vocalist, definitely sounded like pros, trading lead vocal chores, and showing great range and power.  I have to say that I’m generally not a fan of percussionists on cojones … might as well be hitting a table.   As for the lead (acoustic) guitarist, I’m thinking he was too low in the mix, to where he had to play super hard for him (and us) to hear his soloing, where, playing easy would’ve allowed him more fluidity – too much effort involved, causing his lead parts to sound labored.   I was impressed with a lot of what they did, though, covering some oldies and classic rock.  “Tied To The Whipping Post” and “Not Your Stepping Stone” were a couple highlights.  Some great vocal harmonies.
Then came the legendary Burton Cummings ...  “An old Irish guy, alone on a Japanese keyboard”   Gotta start by saying: You know I love ya, Mr. C, but enough already with the “I’m so nervous, being up here without a band to hide my not-so-perfect piano playing.”   Along with that, the “’Smoke Gets In Your Eyes’ is SO hard to sing”… c’mon dude, that’s why we pay you the big bucks (oh, and in the verse, that’s an augmented, not a  dominant  7 going up to the IV Maj7th).  And, “watch me  do three things at once on ‘Mack the Knife.’  Don’t worry … “Mack” was just as amazingly awesome as when I first heard you do it decades ago …  sheesh.   My point being, this guy doesn’t have qualify these things.
I was never too crazy about the opener,  “ You Saved My Soul,” due largely to the breakdown vocal portion right before the final chorus –but perhaps that’s just a personal problem.  Speaking of which, him doing  Guess Who rockers such as “Hand Me Down World” (takes a lower melody line through the chorus … guess he didn’t want to drop it another step) and “No Time” (which depends so largely on the back-up vocals and lead guitar riff), both felt very lacking.   Again, probably more a personal problem, in that I’ve seen him and the band do these a gazillion times, and would’ve preferred more  piano-suited material instead.  Less fully immersed, less fanatical fans no doubt needed to hear those tunes, I’ll allow.  
I will say that his  delivery of “No Sugar / New Mother” cooked very nicely, with a lot of fine boogie chops on display.  Although it sounds like he’s dropped the key considerably, “Stand Tall” was a highlight.  Probably the most poignant line of the song, “Sometimes late at night, when there’s nothing here except my old piano / I'd almost give my hands to make you see my way”, he paused between lines in a way that was tremendous and sublime.  Another highlight was “Sour Suite,” a song I consider to be one of his best, sans co-writer tunes.
He chose a great song, “Dream of a Child” to close the set.  He really did have us in the palm of his hand with that one.  Proves that, even with a (well-chosen)  non-hit obscure tune, he can make it  a highlight of the evening, that he need not feel a prisoner to playing just the hits. Speaking of which, I wonder if anyone missed “These Eyes?”
It certainly should be gratifying for Burton Cummings to be able to play two dates (this show was sold out), where someone like Peter Noone and Tommy James, a couple legends with more stateside individual name recognition, require a full band to play the same venue.   
Burton Cummings, up close and alone, did not disappoint.
Daniel Hudelson
Burton told me again backstage that he really DOES get nervous going out there alone, even after all this time.  There's just something about being out there "naked and afraid," as he put it … leaving everything to chance.  Sure he's got his act down pat … he's been doing it for YEARS … and let’s face it, his audience will forgive him just about anything … and he’s so frickin’ good at what he does that the confidence should always be there … but maybe those nerves are a good thing … keeps him on his toes and his aim to please.
Still, I cannot help but wonder sometimes if he might want to mix things up a little bit, if only for his OWN enjoyment, since there is such a deep catalog to draw from.  (Being out there alone eliminates the risk of "Stump The Band," too … why not take a couple of requests from the audience just to mix things up once in awhile … who knows, you may find one that goes over really well that you'll want to include in your next solo show!)
Had I been able to go backstage BEFORE the show, I was fully prepared to request "Bus Rider" … they played the HECK out of that song here in Chicago back in 1970 … and I think that one … and maybe "Star Baby" might make for a couple of energized tunes to pick up the pace here and there.
Still, I left feeling completely satisfied … and that's the thing about a Burton Cummings concert.  You're just not gonna see a bad show.  The material is SO strong … and he executes it SO well … that he need not deal with a case of "the nerves" … the folks are gonna love him no matter what he does!  (kk)

Hey Kent ...
Glad to see you had a great time recently with Guess Who's Burt Cummings. As a former groupie now grandma, I find that it is  always amazing to see the happy pics of how you get to rub shoulders with all the oldies rock stars.  I never fail to be surprised who will be seen with you and how you get to do the things you do. Do you walk up to the back stage manager and just say I have a blog and would like to meet the star and have a pic taken? Gee, I wish I could do that!  LOL
Luckily, in the past, I have had the pleasure of meeting many oldies stars.  Here are the names of some:  Mitch Ryder (2x), The Young Rascals' Felix Cavaliere, Bruce Springsteen, The Duprees (had dinner with), and The Eagles' Joe Walsh to name a few.  The Chicago venues seem to have the "corner on the market" though because of the many stars that perform there, one after another. Your being able to meet them all makes you very fortunate.  Kudos to you, Kent.!!!
P.S.  I can’t wait to see the "Chappaquiddick" movie.  It seems that Mary Jo and I had a lot in common.  She grew up a mile from where I currently live for over the last 50 years, up the hill and in the next town. Whenever I pass by her house I do think of her even though we never met.  I have read so much about her over the years, that I feel like I know her.  (At one time, we were both living on the borders of each of our respective towns.)  She and I both attended the same secretarial school, different locations, but not at the same time.  Had she lived, she would be older than me.  An even more mind boggling coincidence, is that Mary Jo's ancestors and parents are from the same area in Pennsylvania of which my family and ancestors are from for over 200 years. Again,  just minutes away. Amazing coincidences!  
I have really been looking forward to this one, too.  I always found the circumstances surrounding this event to be pretty fascinating … how Kennedy could leave the scene of the crime, so to speak, and not report anything for ten hours, using the time instead to concoct the perfect version of the story to tell the police and the press.  While it pretty much killed his chances at a Presidential run, he was still afforded a life-long high profile career in politics … all the more amazing in and of itself.  It opens in theaters next Friday, April 6th.
As for the photos, I pretty much only go backstage to visit these days if I already know the artist.  I did an extensive interview with Burton Cummings a few years ago and we’ve been friends ever since.  I try to say hello whenever he plays here in Chicago.  (I have been a life-long fan from Day One … between the Guess Who days and Burton’s solo career, I’ve probably seen him 35 times now … and NEVER been disappointed by a show.)
Also being friends with Ron Onesti, who runs The Arcada Theatre, doesn’t help … so I’ve got a lot of those “staged” shots there in front of the clock, which is the usual photo area backstage in the dressing room area.  Thanks to Ron, I’ve been able to meet a lot of my musical heroes over the years so yes, you’ll find me back there with the likes of Little Anthony and the Imperials and Nelson and several others.  But for the most part, it’s just a chance to visit with the artists we’ve crossed paths with during the course of doing Forgotten Hits for the past 18 ½ years.  I interviewed Tommy Roe backstage at The Arcada … will usually stop back to say hello to guys like Peter Noone and Tommy James and a few others (like all the Cornerstones guys) and will hopefully get the chance to do so again when Lou Christie, Bobby Rydell, Freddy Cannon, The Box Tops,  Chuck Negron and a few others pass thru town in the months to come. Believe me, it’s still a real kick for me to be able to meet and visit with these guys.  As I’ve said a thousand times before, I will ALWAYS be a fan first … so sometimes I have to pinch myself to think that I’m hangin’ out backstage with these guys.  I love the opportunity to help promote some of these shows and then getting the chance to see them perform live on stage.  It’s a blast! (kk)

A second backstage shot with Burton from last weekend ...

On The Radio:
Did you see Don Imus' 50th anniversary retirement interview on CBS Sunday Morning show?  Loved him at WNBC with Wolfman back in his DJ days.  He was funny, THEN.  One of the special moments was one I recorded when he and Wolfman were hosting a weekend show nationally on NBC stations' "Monitor" show.  Imus loved to impersonate Wolf and did it often on his show then.  Of course, Wolf sold EVERYTHING from Mexico in the 60's on XERF/B including baby chicks!  Attached is Imus' great bit he did on one of those shows that I played a few time on MY radio show in the 80's. 
Clark Besch

Here’s the whole segment – along with the background story.  (kk)

Of course, there’s Loyola Fever going on here right now as The Ramblers make their first Final Four since 1963 when they won it all.
To help celebrate, Me-TV-FM is featuring the music of 1963 throughout their regular programming this week as we cheer on our most unlikeliest of underdogs to the next round.  (Personally, I think we need to get Sister Jean out there in a cheer-leading outfit to put this thing to bed once and for all!  Can you believe it?!?!  At 98 years old, she’s become a pop culture icon!  I love it!)  kk

This And That:
Local Forgotten Hits Readers have the chance to enter for a chance to win tickets to see Al Jardine perform at City Winery Chicago on Monday Night (April 2nd).  We’ve got a couple of pair of tickets to give away, thanks to the good folks at the venue … so if you haven’t registered yet, drop me an email at and we’ll throw your name into the hat.  We’ll pick the winners this weekend.  (kk)

Hi Kent –
I would love to see Al Jardine again, but by himself. I can't register since I will be out of town. He also has a background with folk music so his music selection will be very interesting. 
Good luck to the winners. Looking forward to your review! 
PS  And thank you for the info on Ringo coming to Chicago. I saw him the last time around and would love to see him again.

Hi Kent, 
Al Jardine live in concert sounds like something I’d love to experience.  I interviewed Al for our Dick Biondi documentary and he is a true gentleman and a huge talent.
Thanks for the opportunity, Kent!

Our FH buddy Rick Levy tells us about a new pop package tour that’s been put together by Paradise Artists.
This one will feature The Buckinghams, The Grass Roots and The Box Tops … between them, they had 28 Top 40 Hits!  Should be a night of pop music magic.  (Hey Rick … let me know when this show is going to hit Chicago … this would be a great one to see!)  kk

Hello ...
Rick Levy here ... Manager and Guitarist for the Memphis legends THE BOX TOPS. 
I am so very proud to announce that our agency, PARADISE ARTISTS, is presenting a brand new, hit filled package for national and international audiences. 
AMERICAN POP:  STARRING The GRASSROOTS (California pop rock); THE BOX TOPS (Memphis soul, rock, blues; The BUCKINGHAMS (sweet Chicago pop)  [The Box Tops and Buckinghams use HORN SECTIONS]  Between them, 28 TOP 40 CHART HITS …
Each band self contained …  this is not a house band show … so you get the best and full show from each artist –
family friendly, all ages, shows, fairs, festivals, conventions, corporate, casinos, clubs , cruises 
Contact:  AMERICAN POP / PARADISE ARTISTS / (805) 646 8433 for booking information

Hi Kent –
I found some short programs on Youtube that you might find interesting.  It is called Behind the Vinyl and they talk to people who created music while their song plays in the background.  The episode lasts only as long as the song.   There are three that feature Andy Kim and a couple of others featuring Dennis DeYoung.  You should check them out.
Gil McAuliff
There are a ton of these already posted … just got YouTube and search “Behind The Vinyl”.  (kk)

12/11/65:  I am pretty sure I have submitted this before, but the Yardbirds doubled up on that date. They drove to Rockford in a serious snow storm and played at the Rock River Roller Palace later that night as well.
Robert Campbell

I don’t recall seeing these before so thanks for sharing!  Pretty amazing when you think about it … to do two shows a day in two different cities (some 90-100 miles apart) in the thick of Winter in Chicago!  (kk)

Hi Kent, 
I got a message from a fellow in the UK who is looking for information about a couple of groups that I am not familiar with and I thought you or one of your subscribers might be able to help him.
I'll send him a link as well. Thanks.
Eddie Burke

His message is as follows...

Hi Eddie
Yann Here from London UK. I am a Dj & a Record Collector.
I am doing some research about some old 45rpm recorded at Hartford, Connecticut.
Does TYRAND GOLD sounds familiar to you?  Recorded in 1966
Song call: More / By the way?
I am trying to get in touch with those guy about their music.
And also looking for another band call Louzzett and the Fabulous Swans.  Thanks in advance.
Neither of these artists charted nationally so I’m afraid I’m not of much help … but perhaps somebody else on the list can offer up some information. (Dave The Rave or Tom Diehl … this should be right up your alley!!!)  kk

And Finally:
And now . . . yet another Chuck Buell Interior Design Concept for the Offices of “Forgotten Hits.”   
This time, it’s a personally unique Feature for FH’s Executive Washroom.

CB ( which stands for "Conceptual Boy!" )
I tell you what, Chuck ... if I ever DO make any money doing this and can afford a huge, pretentious executive office building high on the hill, you are the very first guy I'm going to call to decorate it!!!  You've got some GREAT ideas here!  (kk)