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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Music in the Garden of Eden: Amos Lee @ The Edgefield 8/12/11

Never have I seen such a transformation as the one that occurred  at The Edgefield Amphitheater..... I had a bad experience at The Edgefield last summer at the first of two Bob Dylan/John Mellencamp shows. The wheelchair seats were in the rear of the lawn and not elevated.. I brought my concerns to the attention of the management and received what was without a doubt the fastest response I have ever gotten from anyone. The response included apologies, promises to review an alternate Wheelchair location and an offer of tickets to the next Dylan/Mellencamp show!!!  Truly wonderful customer service! This summer, I saw that Amos Lee was doing a show at The Edgefield. I e-mailed the person who had been so kind to me last summer and asked if the wheelchair-seats had been moved. As this was in April, days before tickets went on sale, (yes I am that big of fan) they replied that they were unsure of the plans, but that they would be happy to offer me a spot on the VIP guest list! After I recovered from euphoria-fueled shock, I gratefully accepted. The day came, and I made my way to the VIP section, en route I spotted the new location of the wheelchair-seats, on a hill just to the side of the VIP section! I couldn't believe they were improved that much! I can't wait to use them, and plan to on Sept 4th for Ray LaMontagne. I thoroughly enjoyed the VIP Experience, and Amos Lee electrified the gorgeous summer night with his unique brand of ethereal rock-soul.

I cannot tell you how great it feels to be treated the way The Edgefield has treated me. It is so refreshing to be listened to, and be valued as a costumer, after spending a lifetime running head-first into a brick wall of apathy and indifference with just about every other company in similar situations. I humbly, almost tearfully, bestow a newly created Crippled-Critic Rating on The Edgefield: The Glittering Golden Ramp of Fame!!!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Gospel of Marc: Marc Broussard @ The Aladdin Theater 6/24/11

I know, I know, another religion-inspired title, and this one is almost gratuitous. Marc Broussard did not sing anything explicitly religious, but the title is apt because of the way he sings--he sings like a Charismatic Preacher, one expects to see him with a cobra in one hand, and a Bible in the other. He is pure Bayou Soul. It explodes out of him, I'm not sure why an image of a snake-handling preacher enters my mind except that I think they must have a similar mindset, the same dare-devil attitude, possessed by a spirit few others understand.

I bought my ticket on the strength of his "Carencro" album. I had my appetite whet for the Aladdin show by a brief performance in the KINK Lounge. It was the most ambitious thing I have ever seen on that small stage, which usually has an artist accompanied by a pianist, if that. Broussard's performance on the other hand had 5 musicians on stage-the show was delayed nearly an hour due to set-up time. Let me tell you, it was well-worth the wait!

The Aladdin Theater show was amazing, and I first saw the image of a snake-handler when he did his best-known song, "Home," during which he executed a completely unexpected flip.

When the show was over, I raided the merchandise booth and bought every CD I didn't already own, and a T-shirt. Someone passed me the set-list and because I was still so amped-up from what I had just witnessed, I decided to hang-out for a while by the tour bus. The drummer came out and asked if I would like to meet Marc, and I said 'yes.' He told us to wait a little bit while Marc finished his meet-and-greet with contest-winners. We waited, and soon the drummer emerged again, this time he went back in and pulled Broussard away from the meet-and greet (ain't I special?) He signed a lot of my stuff, and was an incredibly cordial, and down-to-earth person, (I always expect musicians to be somewhat lost in their own head, how else could something so otherworldly emanate from them?)

I left The Church of Rock & Roll once again with my soul satiated and refreshed until next time.....

Monday, April 18, 2011

I have Glimpsed Heaven: Paul Simon @ The Showbox at the Market, Seattle WA, 4/17/11

We arrived at the box office early. They passed out wristbands, one blue, and most importantly for your Crippled Correspondent, one orange ADA wristband... We dined at the pub inside the theatre, I had to use the weirdest lift I've ever seen to get down to the dining area, a flat platform that flipped-out over the stairs.... It took a long time to figure out how to make the return trip, I thought for one horrible moment I was stuck downstairs.  They got it working, and awhile later they asked people wearing the ADA wristbands to come forward. I couldn't resist, I said "ADA, the three sweetest letters in the English language." The crowd laughed.

We entered the showroom, I'd say its closest Oregon equivalent would be The Crystal Ballroom in both layout and vibe, funkiness combined with old-world class-- there was a beautiful chandelier.... Best of all, there was an open-floor, which meant that I got to park my lucky butt front-and center!!!!!!

Simon's set began slowly, "Boy in the Bubble" seemed a little more down-tempo than usual, a good stylistic choice to match the intimacy of the venue, I thought. He did a cover of Jimmy Cliff's "Vietnam" and told us that it was what inspired "Mother and Child  Reunion." (Only a genius like Paul Simon could combine a reggae  protest-song with a Chinese restaurant menu item and come up with "Mother & Child Reunion.") He played the two songs back-to-back and by-God, we mere mortals could glimpse the influence...... He also covered "Mystery Train" and I was hoping he'd stay with the train-theme and play "Train in the Distance", but alas. However, he did play "Hearts & Bones" and ripped my soul in half.

He mixed in some cuts from his new album, "Dazzling Blue" and "So Bueautiful or So What" and they sounded even better live.

Then he tore the roof off with "Diamonds on the Shoes of Her Shoes" and "The Obvious Child." "Obvious" transported me somewhere else, it was like an out-of-body experience....

 There is no way I can recall all of the twenty-odd songs he played that night. "Sound of Silence" "That was Your Mother" "Still Crazy" and "Crazy Love Vol. II" were among them.... I'm still not over the high of repeating a front-row experience I haven't had in twenty-one years (!) He is a master, that's all I can say.....

Sunday, January 23, 2011

I Worshipped at The Church of Rock & Roll: Amos Lee @ The Crystal Ballroom 1/21/11

Between this post and my last one: "Praise Be to The Concert God" I run the risk of over-using religious language.... Well, that's I risk I'm going to have to take, because I have come to believe that live music is indeed akin to a "religious experience." A musician has the ability to connect your soul to his, and you share a transcendent feeling....

I feel that way at every Amos Lee show, I've been to so many I've lost count. I have been to every formal performance in Portland, (and even a few radio sessions) ever since seeing him open for Bob Dylan in '05. However, Friday's show at The Crystal Ballroom was by-far the best.

Amos Lee's new album, "Mission Bell" will be released this Tuesday, the 25th. I believe it is his best offering yet, and its Gospel-infused songs certainly contributed to the jubilant Church-like atmosphere.

Friday's performance held particular significance for me personally. Weeks ago I posted a photo of Amos & myself on his Facebook page, with a caption asking him to please sing the Paul Simon songs he had sung at The  Brooklyn Academy of Music tribute show. On the night of the concert I ran into Amos's drummer, Freddie Berman, who recognized me from previous performances, he told me that he had seen the caption and would "put in a good word" to Amos.

Sure enough, the first song of the encore was a soul-stirringly beautiful version of "Peace Like a River" I hope from the bottom of my heart that he will record that song, along with "Homeward Bound." (The other song from the BAM tribute is "Nobody", and it is included on an I-Tunes exclusive EP.) It too is wonderful beyond description. Hearing the words of one hero in the mouth of another is truly something to behold.

The night was unforgettable, I will treasure it forever.