Playing catch up!

To say the last month has been a whirlwind would be an understatement!

It seems as though things have been firing on all cylinders lately and half the time I don’t know if I’m coming or going!

Work has been busy – the end of the fiscal year, plus the start of a new one brings all kinds of mind-numbing nonsense, but overall things are going well on that front.

The Mrs. had a bit of a health issue that got us into the Urgent Care facility a couple weeks ago, but thankfully that’s all resolving nicely and she’s getting back to full function without any further intervention.

My gym routine has been pretty solid. It took a minute to get back in the swing of things, but I’m feeling confident again and getting stronger by the week. I haven’t got to the point where I’m enjoying it again, but I don’t dread it every morning either, so I consider that progress!

My musical stuff has been going slower than I’d hoped, but again I’m still progressing. My playing continues to improve and I’m slowly but surely getting acquainted with some new gear that will help me continue my pursuits.

Glamor shot…

We just recently returned from another trip up to Oregon, which was fantastic! It was our daughter’s birthday recently, so she and her BF headed up to Gold Beach and we joined them up there for a couple days, just relaxing and enjoying the quiet.

Our view from the patio soaking tub…Not too shabby!

And most recently, just a couple nights ago in fact, we got to see our favorite live band – Magic City Hippies – at one of our favorite venues – the Fillmore, which was absolutely amazing! This was the 6th or 7th time seeing them and they continue to get better every single time.

MCH killin’ it AGAIN!!

So yeah, it’s been a bit of a blur, but in a good way.

More to come, thanks 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!

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!

Concert Review: Magic City Hippies at The Fillmore, San Francisco, CA

Ah, the historic Fillmore in San Francisco! What a place! One of those “…if these walls could speak!” kind of places.

Just oozing with music history…

Countless legendary performers have graced the stage there since the equally legendary Bill Graham started booking acts there back in 1965. The Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, the Doors, the Who, even Frank Zappa! The list goes on and on of the pioneers, the all-out musical legends that have played there. To say it is a special venue doesn’t even come close. That being said, it’s been a LONG time since we’ve had an excuse to visit the Fillmore. As memory serves, our last show there was Dogstar back in 1997 or so (which was an epic show actually) Regardless, we were excited to get back there and share the place with our daughter who’s never had the pleasure.

I was surprised to learn there was a opener for the opening band, a Jake Pinto, who also happens to be “the new guy” I mentioned in my review from last night’s show. He started the night off with a half hour solo set, just him and a vintage Wurlitzer electric piano. He was quite good. I liked his songs, some more than others of course. But as I said to the Mrs.; I like his sound, but it really isn’t conducive to a live music setting. Just a little too mellow. I’m absolutely going to check out his recordings, as he’s a fine musician with a nice voice, but in a live setting his music was more appropriate to a dark lounge, where you’d be dropping in for the drinks, not the show. But, new discovery for listening AND solved the mystery of who the new guy with MCH is, so I give it a thumbs up!

Jake Pinto. Solamente.

Bay Ledges was up next and Wow! What a difference from the night before! They looked better, they played better and their energy level was off the charts. I was pretty impressed this time around. They definitely won me over and now they too are on my follow-up listening list to check out their recorded work.

Bay Ledges, killin’ it!

Magic City Hippies came out with essentially the same set as last night. But with the bigger stage to roam and a bigger crowd to vibe with (and the vibe of the room was ELECTRIC!), the boys just let it RIP!

The Hippies’ guitarist John Coughlin was in rare form, I think the best I’ve ever seen him. In my opinion this guy is the best guitarist nobody knows about. Seriously. The way he so effortlessly blends so many styles together- rock, funk, jazz, reggae – is impressive and his slide work is spectacular. But then, he’ll go and play a bunch of stuff that doesn’t even seem like sounds POSSIBLE from a guitar! The only other guitarist I can think to compare him to is Adrian Belew, who is a living legend.

John. Guitarist. Extraordinary.

And this is not to diminish Robby Hunter’s guitar playing. He’s such a compelling vocalist and front man that I always forget what stellar guitarist he is until I see him on stage. He takes the first lead section in the song Modern Animal and its a scorcher! And when he and John solo in harmony? Nothing finer on a stage, let me tell you.

Robby Hunter, starting fires!

The rest of the band was on point, solid as a rock as always. It was another great night of outstanding music, played by outstanding musicians, leaving everything they had on stage. And further reinforcement of Magic City Hippies being our favorite live band, ever.

Thank you gentlemen, it was a night to remember!

Thanks for reading!

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