Concert Review: Spencer Sutherland at The Chapel, San Francisco

The Chapel is a new venue for us.  First impressions were less than stellar – our “e-tickets” were coming up as “invalid” when they were scanned, causing some problems that had to be sorted out by the staff. It turned out to be equipment error on their scanner and it all worked out, but that was a rough start. I will say though, the staff was very nice and polite during the entire thing and very apologetic when they realized it was a problem on their end. So, hats off to the Chapel staff for excellent customer service!

The ceiling of the Chapel Lounge. Looked much cooler in person!

Cloe Wilder was the opening act, however we got a late start and the aforementioned ticket issues, so we missed her set completely…

Dylan Conrique was already on stage when we got in the door.  We didn’t have any idea of what to expect, as we were unfamiliar with her work, but suffice it to say, there were no surprises.  Her “band” consisted of one guy, alternating between guitar and keyboard, and a laptop. Not exactly exciting to watch. It was the musical equivalent of cotton candy… overly sweet, full of hot air and almost completely without substance. I couldn’t help but think this young lady must have grown up on a steady diet of Disney movies and Arianna Grande… To be fair, she’s really, really young so there is a LOT of room for growth. Her voice is actually nice, but her music is bland and a lot of it WAY TOO DULL for a live setting. She has a lot to learn about pacing her set and song selection. I doubt eliciting yawns and eye rolls was what she was striving for, but that was the reaction of this writer…

Spencer Sutherland came out, and honestly I didn’t know what to make of him from the start. Picture this: sleeveless, yellow satin, bell-bottomed jumpsuit with white fringe! I mean, honestly? I couldn’t tell if he was being “ironic” in the hipster sense, or if that is what the cool “new” thing is. Between the outift and his weird “Kung fu moves”, it was a bit like watching someone imitate Harry Styles, channeling Elvis Presley. Frankly it was a little off-putting and just weird for weird’s sake.

Musically, he sounded good BUT he relied HEAVILY on backing tracks, which is kind of a bummer to me. On the one hand, I get it – touring is very expensive and paying all the expenses for an extra few musicians can make the difference in whether you can go one the road or not. On the other hand, when you’re watching a singer engaging with the audience, his mic is NOWHERE NEAR HIS MOUTH, and yet you’re hearing his voice along with 3-part harmonies(and nobody in the backing band is singing!)…well, that’s a WTF moment for me. And a lot of other music lovers I know. ESPECIALLY in a small venue! You can maybe fake it a little better in the Enormo-Dome, but from 15 feet away, you’re not fooling anybody.

His band was solid, but nothing stands out in their performance. Spencer didn’t engage with them at all during the set, and they didn’t do anything to add to the visual aspect of the show whatsoever. It could’ve been a studio session based on the band’s excitement level.

And again, when you rely on backing tracks extensively the band is LOCKED into a precise tempo and length of the song, so there is no room for improvisation, no letting loose, no “life”… which kinda defeats the purpose of a LIVE show, right?

Did they sound good? Yes. Was he entertaining? Yes, fashion sense aside. But was is a great show? Nah. I’ve seen worse. FAR worse. But I wouldn’t be rushing out to see him again. Which is a shame really, as I do like his music.

To be fair, this was his first tour as a headliner, so he’s still gotta find his feet and I suspect he will continue to get better if he keeps it up.

All in all, it was an OK night. Nothing earth shattering, but nothing horrible either. I’d give the whole shebang a B-.

Thanks for stopping by!

LMAO:Chris Porter at Rooster T. Feathers, Sunnyvale, CA

Friday night was a great night of laughs for us! Our daughter was kind enough to pick up tickets for a comedy night at a legendary local comedy club, Rooster T. Feathers, in Sunnyvale.

The featured comic was Chris Porter, one of our favorite current comedians. This was our second time seeing Chris live and we were thrilled to get the opportunity to him him again!

The club itself was great. I’d never been there before, despite the fact that it’s been in our “backyard” since the 1980s. The Mrs. had been there once before – at her Bachelorette Night, 31+ years ago! It’s a small room – we were maybe 10 feet from the stage – but it’s a great place for comedy. Nice room, decent sound, friendly staff, and spotlessly clean bathrooms. I’d be more than happy to go back, and would absolutely recommend the place.

The MC for the night was a young man by the name of Maxx Eddy. He was pretty funny and certainly shows promise as an up-and-comer.

The opening comic was Emily Van Dyke. We’d never heard of her, and while I wouldn’t say she was great, she certainly had her moments and there were more than a few LOLs during her set.

Chris Porter delivered a fantastic set and had us rolling pretty much the entire time. He did all new material, with the exception of one “old joke”, done by request of the peanut gallery.

We had one drunkard in the audience that kept blurting stuff out loud to Chris – not exactly a heckler, but a distracting dingbat nonetheless. Chris took it all in stride and managed to riff off her nonsense, which turned the interruptions into some great laughs. A true pro!

All in all, we had a great night. Chris Porter just keeps getting better and we look forward to seeing him again as soon as the opportunity arises. And we’ll certainly be keeping an eye on the upcoming shows at Rooster T’s, it’s a fun place and right up the road. A great change from driving all the way up to San Francisco!

Thanks for a great night Chis, Emily and Maxx!

And thank you for stopping by!

Concert Review: Lettuce at the Fillmore Auditorium, SF.

I’ll say right up front that I only recently learned of the existence of the band Lettuce. The Mrs. actually discovered them first and played a track of theirs while we were in the car about a month ago, and I was knocked out by how great the song was. Fast forward 24 hours and I’ve got a dozen or so songs of theirs on my playlist, in heavy rotation! During the course of my digging into their repertoire, I discovered they’ve been around for over 20 years!! I was shocked to say the least. That a band could be so good and yet – as a dyed-in-the-wool music fiend – I had never even heard OF them, much less their music, was astounding to me. Frankly, I was embarrassed. But, better late than never!

As luck would have it, just a couple weeks after I learned that Lettuce existed, I found out they were playing two nights at The Fillmore in San Francisco, one of our favorite venues. Even luckier, after mentioning it in passing to the Mrs., she picked up a pair of tickets for us as a surprise!

The opening act of the night was a guy by the name of Keifer. We listened to a couple of his tunes before the show and thought, m’eh… We got there a little late and he and his band were already into it on stage. The first thing we hear when we walk in is the drummer breaking into a drum solo… Eye roll… I’ve been playing drums myself for 45+ years, and I pretty much hate drum solos. So we made our way over to the bar to grab a couple drinks before heading back onto the floor.

The band was comprised of keys, bass and drums. All clearly talented, but the music was a little bland. They finished the set however, bringing out the keyboardist and trumpet player from Lettuce to augment the band and that was a STONG finish!

Keifer and band

After a short intermission Lettuce hit the stage and BOOM! They were off and running. Now, I’m much too much of a newbie to their discography to know the names of their songs (and I’m terrible with song names anyway, especially in instrumental music!) but wow, they just grabbed the entire room right outta the gate! Heads were bobbin’, everyone was grooving, it was a GREAT vibe!

Lettuce gettin’ it on!

The band is a 6 piece unit – guitar, bass, drums, keys, saxophone and trumpet. The perfect combo for a funk outfit! And let me tell you, every single one of these guys was ON POINT! They were so locked in as a unit – and this is some pretty complex music – it was really something to see. It is just awesome to witness a group of musicians so in command of their instruments and yet simultaneously just flowing, like it’s second nature to them. It’s just not the same as seeing a symphony or a highly technical jazz or prog-rock act. When skill and soul unite, the outcome is nothing less than spectacular. I was beyond impressed, I was MESMERIZED! The icing on this delicious cake was their bassist. I don’t know his name or anything about him, but he was absolutely, positively stunning. His groove was so deep, and solid as a rock. He was slinky and gritty and funky and just straight up phenomenal. The kind of bass that’ll give you “stank face” it’s so damn groovy! What a delight!! I’ve played with dozens of bass players over the last 30+ years and out of those dozens I’d say 3 of them were spectacular. The bassist from Lettuce was every bit as good, if not better, than those 3. Really special.

Another aspect of the band that really caught my attention was that whenever there was a gap for a particular instrument, one of those players had some sort of percussion instrument in hand, filling up the sound. On the surface you might think how much difference can a tambourine or a shaker make? Well, it makes a BIG difference. All those little extra voices, those nearly imperceptible accent notes really just gave a glistening polish to an already stellar performance.

I can say with full confidence that I am officially a FAN of Lettuce! I have a lot of their material to absorb still, but I seriously dig what I’ve heard so far. It may have been my first show with them, but it certainly won’t be my last!

A big thank you to the bands and the crew that make these shows happen. And an extra big THANK YOU to the Mrs. for the great surprise!

Thanks for stopping by!

Out and About:  Dita Von Teese at the Palace of Fine Arts, SF.

Saturday night the Mrs. and I went and did something completely different, we experienced our very first Burlesque Show at the San Francisco Palace of Fine Arts with the one and only Dita Von Teese.

I’ll be honest,  I didn’t really know much about her other than her bringing the “art of burlesque” back into the mainstream, I just knew my wife always appreciated her aesthetic.  So when I saw she was coming to the city I grabbed a pair of tickets so we could go see for ourselves what all the fuss was about.

If you’ve never seen the Palace of Fine Arts, you should.  It is really a sight to behold.  Stunning in both it’s design and in the craftsmanship of the buildings themselves.  In fact, it’s such an amazing place, the Mrs. and I had wedding photos taken there over 30 years ago! And the view at night is really spectacular.

They just don’t make ’em like they used to…

The Theater was someplace we’d never been, and it was smaller than I’d anticipated.  (I learned after the fact, the capacity was 961)  It was however, packed with patrons,  most of whom had really gone all out for the night and were really dolled up, so to speak.  The “people watching” aspect was as enjoyable as the show itself!

The show was described as a “variety show”, and I wouldn’t exactly call it that.  Not in a traditional sense, anyway.  There were however a number of different performers aside from Dita herself.  Some were great, some were m’eh.  We were a bit surprised at how slow- paced the acts were.  We had expected a more high energy sort of spectacle, but it was entertaining nonetheless.

To be honest, I was most impressed with the stagecraft of the whole thing. The costumes, the lighting, the props…all of it was really top notch and a lot of fun to see. My only gripe was the sound system, it was not good. At all. But otherwise, I can say without reservation that it was a visual spectacular unlike anything I’ve witnessed in my life. Due to the “adult” nature of the show, picture and video taking was prohibited, so I don’t have anything to share, but trust me, visually it was very well done.

The Mrs. and I both really enjoyed the show and were glad to have gone. Though we did both think it was probably something we wouldn’t do again, unless there was some very particular reason to, such as some special guest we are interested in or something. Regardless, we’re glad we went, we had a fun night out and got to see a lot of interesting people and experience a side of the Palace of Fine Arts we’d never seen. And yeah, Dita looked beautiful too!

Thanks for stopping by!

Road Trip!/Concert Review: Dogstar at Gold Diggers, Los Angeles.

Tonight was a rare and once in a lifetime event. We were cordially invited to the “record release party” celebrating Dogstar’s new – yet to be named – album.

Dogstar, back in action!

Full Disclosure: Bret Domrose, the guitarist and vocalist for Dogstar is my best friend. He and I came up together, learning the ropes of playing live shows, song writing and being serious, professional musicians. In fact, the very first band Bret was ever in – The Laters, circa 1984 – had me as the drummer. He and I went on to form several bands afterwards, culminating in a record deal with an indie label that went bankrupt just prior to our record’s release, and from there our lives took very divergent paths.

Bret, doin’ his thing!

There is a good chance if you’ve heard of Dogstar at all, it’s because of their infinitely famous bassist, Keanu Reeves. It is true that they got a lot of breaks that most bands wouldn’t have received if it weren’t for Keanu, but bottom line, Dogstar is a great band with a lot of really fantastic songs.

Tonight they played their first live show in DECADES, playing their recently recorded album, in its entirety. And let me tell you, it’s going to be a great album if this gig was any indication!

There is evident growth in the songwriting, and Bret’s guitar work has never been better. Keanu is a solid bassist and really held things down with his playing. Drummer Rob did something I’ve never, and I do mean NEVER seen, playing a harmonica solo while playing drums!

It was a great set, the band was in good spirits, the sound was great, the energy high and the crowd was all smiles!

It was an awesome night. We were able to see a bunch of old friends that we haven’t seen in ages and I was able to introduce our daughter to Keanu finally after hearing about him practically her entire life. (When she was only 2 years old, I went on tour with Dogstar so she’s heard the stories about my times with Keanu and Uncle Bret many times over the years!)

Our kid in the foreground, Mr. Reeves in the background…

It was so good to see Bret on stage again, and I’m really proud of the work he’s put in and the really stellar songs that came out of the project. He’s an extremely talented guy and I feel lucky to call him a friend.

The Boring Old Man and Bret Domrose.

Thanks for a great night guys. I can’t wait to get my hands on the new record!

Thanks for stopping by!

Road Trip!  Los Angeles/Hollywood, CA

Into the heart of Darkness…

Unlike the late Randy Newman, I do NOT love LA.  It’s been a few years since I’ve been here, and I was in no hurry to return but one of  those “once in a lifetime” things popped up, and here we are!

Our lodging for the next couple nights…

The trip took us roughly 5.5 hours, not too shabby!  On the way we made a pit-stop for fuel and restroom facilities and found an Arby’s,  so we had to stop there too.  Say what you will about Arby’s… People seem to love ’em or hate ’em, but we love their sandwiches.   All their locations in our neck of the woods have closed down, so this was our first time in one for years and we were quite happy with our decision to stop in!

We checked into the Roosevelt Hotel,  which has quite the history: the first Academy Awards were held here, Marilyn Monroe lived here for some time…many Hollywood legends have stayed here over the decades.  Some say a few are still here, haunting the joint but so far we’ve seen nothing unusual.

The view from our room…

Today we’re just gonna kick about and do some touristy stuff until it’s time to get ready for tonight’s event.  More on that later…  For now, we’re gonna take our daughter to see the Hollywood  Walk of Fame stars and the Chinese Theater with all the famous people’s handprints and what not…  But first, breakfast!

Thanks for stopping by!

Concert Review: The Dip at the Fillmore Auditorium, San Francisco, CA

Saturday night we took another trip up to San Francisco to the historic Fillmore Auditorium, this time for The Dip. This was our second time seeing them and coincidentally the Mrs. was sick again and couldn’t make it. Last time they came to town she had Covid, and this time she’s got a nasty cold and cough, which she figured probably wouldn’t be too welcome in a crowd!

The opening act was a solo female singer / guitarist whose name I didnt catch. Just as well… She didn’t play a single thing that caught my attention, and I was not alone. Everyone in the joint was talking amongst themselves, paying little if any attention to her. She did have a great, fuzzy green jacket though, I’ll give her that. It reminded me of Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street, one of my childhood favorites! Musically, it was dull and devoid of anything original or interesting.

Even the pictures turned out bland…

The Dip on the other hand were on FIRE! They had added a trio of backup singers to the crew, which really filled out their sound. To be clear, they already had a pretty full sound, with 7 musicians on stage but the added vocals was a delightful icing on an already delicious cake!

The band was clearly in high spirits and made note of the special occasion of playing the Fillmore. The vibe of the room was great and the band just really gave a stellar performance.

Last time we saw them, I was really tuned into the bassist and lead guitarist, but this time around it was the drummer and the trumpet player that really stole the show. They both had really standout performances that night.

The singer mentioned during the set that it happened to be the drummer’s birthday… I couldn’t help but think what a “bucket list” kinda night that must have been- playing the historic, iconic Fillmore Theater for the first time, on your birthday AND having the performance of a lifetime!?!? Are you kidding me!?! That’s a dream come true right there…

It was a bummer that the Mrs. missed this one, but I had a great time hanging out with my daughter and we really loved what The Dip put forth for their fans. It was a great show and I look forward to more in the future!

Thanks for stopping by!

Out & About: Movies on the Beach, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

Last night we had a fun night out, over the hill in Santa Cruz. This was sort of a “bucket list” thing for me, so it was an extra special occasion, in that the family indulged me!

I was never much of a horror movie fan, but The Lost Boys was one of the few that I really liked back in the day. I’m sure the fact that it was primarily filmed in Santa Cruz, my home-away-from-home at the time, made it extra special to me and my friends.

The Mrs. and I, along with our daughter and her BF, as well as my BIL Capt. Karel loaded up the wagon with blankets and such and hit the road to Santa Cruz for the somewhat surreal experience of watching a movie on the beach (and Boardwalk) where the movie was filmed!

We indulged in the Boardwalk’s “Monster Corn Dogs” and had a good old fashioned family night watching a classic horror movie on the cusp of Halloweeen, it was a lot of fun!

Sure, the movie is a bit dated and cheesy, but it still brings a smile to my face. And I can’t remember ever having a bad time on the beach! A big thanks to the family for making it a night to remember!

Thanks for stopping by!

Road Trip! Gold Beach, OR.

Today we ventured further north to Gold Beach, Oregon. The town is small and not unlike many other sea-side towns, but we’ve been enjoying it very much.

The view from our room.

After checking in to our spot for the night, we actually took to the road again, driving up as far as Port Orford, OR, just for the heck of it, to see what’s what.

Today is out actual anniversary – 31 years ago today, we tied the knot – so today is the day we spoil ourselves. Very swanky accommodations, unbelievable high end dinner (so good, words fail me) and just cruisin’ around enjoying each other. There are much worse ways to spend the day, let me tell you!

Tomorrow we’ll goof off a bit, then we’ve got a long haul ahead of us to get home. Sadly, both of us have to work in the morning (and I, this weekend also).

Oregon has been delightful, it most certainly won’t be another 40 years before we return!

Thanks for stopping by!

Road Trip! Trinidad, CA.

This week the Mrs. and I are celebrating our wedding anniversary, and we decided to go somewhere we’ve never been just for the adventure of it. Our first stop, Trinidad, California is roughly 6 hrs north of home, so not too bad of a haul to get there.

We got a late start, and it was well past sundown when we arrived, so we didn’t get to see much of anything upon arrival. However, we were greeted by an astounding chorus of sea lions hooting and hollering from the shores below.

As it turns out, that was kinda the highlight of our stay.

Foggy but gorgeous here.

The area is stunning and if we had time to dilly-dally, there were several places worth exploring but this was just a layover…

On to our next stop. To be continued…

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The Boring Old Man

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