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!

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!

Just Like Old Times…

Last night I had a fantastic experience and I’m still riding the “high”!

For the first time in literally decades, I got a chance to sit down with one of my oldest friends for a songwriting session, and it was like a spigot was turned on – the music just flowed like it hasn’t in years!

This was just what the doctor ordered, it’s been way too long since I was able to just create and I missed it even more than I realized.

In the matter of just a few short hours, we planted the seeds of 6 new songs right outta the gate. It was remarkable and thrilling to say the least.

Remember to feed your soul folks, it’s good for your health and your spirit!

Thanks for stopping by!

Concert Review: ASHE at Bimbo’s 365, S.F.

Here we had another show where I knew almost nothing about the artist we were going to see, ASHE. She came through town some time ago and the Mrs. wanted to go see her, but when we learned of the show, it was sold out.

Turns out she was doing doing a gig after her “Outside Lands Festival” performance the day before, and as luck would have it, she was playing at Bimbo’s, a club I’ve been dying to go back to for ages!

Bimbo’s 365 on Columbus Street in San Francisco is an iconic spot. To give you some context, the last time I was at the club, the Mrs. was pregnant with our now 28-year-old daughter! And the club was old back then! It’s a great old school, vintage night club. They used to even have “cigarette girls” walking the club selling smokes and gum and whatnot, like out if a film from the 1940’s. Even today they still have bathroom attendants to trun on the faucets, hand you towels and such. It’s a throwback, for sure, but kinda nice at the same time. Reminds you of a simpler era, and the vibe elicits a little more manners and social grace than you find at most night clubs.

The opening act was Adam Melchor, also unknown to me. He came out, just him a guitar and I was proud of myself for keeping an open mind, since I’ve been very pleasantly surprised at the last couple solo singer/songwriter performances I’ve seen. Well, Adam broke the spell of pleasant surprises. While he’s a fine guitarist and his voice is not bad at all, his music left me completely flat. No surprises, nothing out of the ordinary, nothing exciting. And what made matters worse was the talking between songs. Good grief! He played roughly 40 minutes and I’d say 15 of that was him blathering on.

Clearly he had some fans in the place, and they were singing along with him and all, but for me and the Mrs., it was boring and entirely forgettable. Again, not to say he was “bad”, it just wasn’t our cup of tea.

Ashe came out strong and her band was really holding their own. It was a unique lineup – drummer, a violin/keyboard player and a guitarist/bassist that switched back and forth, depending on the needs of the song.


As I mentioned earlier, I wasn’t really familiar with her material, but what I do know of it, is very “modern” production – think synthesizers and computers – so to hear the songs with real musicians and actual (not virtual) instruments gave it a whole new sound and feel for me. And yes, as a musician I will say (with utter bias) it was better live than recorded.

Ashe herself was a great performer. Her voice was strong, her energy level was high and she was clearly there to put on a show. My only gripe was there was a little too much “downtempo” music. Her fans were thrilled with the set list though, and singing along to nearly every song, so that is just a personal preference of mine. I like my live shows to keep me energized, not stifling a yawn and the night wears on!

All in all, I give her performance a thumbs up. Not the best thing I’ve ever seen, but far from the worst. And she’s mighty young, so if she sticks with it, I’m sure she’ll just keep getting better and better. I’d certainly go see her show again, I’d just hope for a more well suited opening act!

Thanks for stopping by!

Concert Review: Red Hot Chili Peppers at Levi Stadium, Santa Clara.

FINALLY!!  I have been a fan of RHCP since the first time I heard “True Men Don’t…” on KSJS (San Jose State College radio) back in the early-1980’s. 

Fast forward 40 years, and I’m still a fan but for whatever reason I’ve never had the opportunity to catch their live show.  (I did get to see their drummer Chad Smith at a drum clinic a number of years ago and he was amazing!)

When I got a notice for a pre-sale on tickets back in October of LAST YEAR, I jumped at it.  You never know when their last go-round might be…  So yeah, been sitting on these tickets for nearly 10 months and could barely contain my excitement!

In all honesty,  I’m not a fan of stadium shows.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been to several dozen of them, but my expectations are pretty low nowadays for them.  Nevertheless,  I’ll take what I can get when it comes to the Chili Peppers!

The venue, Levi’s Stadium,  is realitively new and this was my first event there.  It’s generally home to the 49ers, and I loathe football so they were never a draw for me to check out the stadium even though it’s practically in our “backyard”.  And truthfully,  I have yet to hear anything good about the place so I was a little disappointed when I learned that is where the show was being held.

The opening act was Thundercat, whom I first learned of several years ago but wasn’t terribly familiar with.  I did know he’s a phenomenal bassist, so I was excited to see him live.  Sadly, the traffic situation surrounding the venue was so bad we missed his set completely.  Strike One for the venue.

Next up was Beck.  We’ve seen Beck twice before and he was actually better than expected.   We never went to see him specifically, and I wouldn’t say we’re big fans of his, but he was on a couple other bills in the past and we were pleasantly surprised by how good his show was.  This time however, he really knocked it out of the park!  Really great energy,  the band was tight and you could tell they were having a really great time with it.  Another pleasant surprise!

Finally after months of anticipation the Chili Peppers hit the stage, opening with a kinda wild improv of guitar,  bass and drums before launching into their set with “Can’t Stop”.  The guys were on fire!

Anthony – who will be 60 this year! – looked fit as ever, full of energy and his singing voice has improved quite a lot over the years. Clearly the hard work has paid off.

Guitarist John Frusciante (who I was thrilled to learn was back with the band) was great, though live it’s impossible to play his parts like the recordings – they’d need another 2 or 3 guitarists backing him up to recreate his studio wizardry.

Chad Smith was solid as a rock and just straight up bombastic. A joy to watch.

Flea as you might expect, was the life of the party and put it all out there, every minute of the set. He’s in a class by himself as a bassist and his performance was top notch. Unfortunately the sound in the venue was less than stellar and a few times when he really went off the sound turned to mush, but overall he put on a great show.

Overall, I’d say the night was a mixed bag. On the venue itself, a solid thumbs down. I won’t go into my gripes, but it would take a MASSIVE draw (like Stevie Ray Vaughn or Prince coming back from the dead!) to get me back to that place. The band played great, and they played a couple of my favorites, but their set list was a bit of a disappointment if I’m being honest. And they only played for an hour… which for a band with a 40 year history and a deep catalog of material, seemed a bit of let down.

Nevertheless, it was fun to see them finally and I’m not sorry I went. I wish I’d had a chance to see them in a smaller venue back before megastardom put them in arenas, but I am grateful I got to see them at all, especially with this lineup, which in my opinion is the magic RHCP combination.

The MAGIC combination!

And when all is said and done, I got to spend a lovely summer night outside with my family, listening to some great music. Those are the kind of things that make life worth living!

Thanks for stopping by!

Concert Review: Des Rocs at the Independent, SF

Another trip to one of our favorite venues, the Independent in San Francisco.

Tickets for this show were a birthday gift from my daughter, so that made this show just that much more special!

This was our 4th time seeing Des Rocs live and it certainly won’t be the last!

The first time we saw Des (Daniel Rocco, by birth), he was the opening act, and we were floored. He’s an incredibly talented vocalist AND guitarist, but what really seals the deal is his charisma. He’s one of the most engaging front men I’ve ever witnessed, and he’s been better every subsequent time we’ve seen him.

Needless to say, both our excitement and anticipation levels were very high for this show.

The opening act was First in Flight, whom we’d never heard. Talk about an unexpected surprise! The band was fired up from the start, and the whole set was a high energy affair. Their music is a little tough to describe…the best I can do is “modern/alternative rock, with a very slight nod to hair metal”. And I mean that in a good way…strip away all the hairspray, eye liner and spandex from “hair metal”, and you will often find talented musicians and catchy tunes. Overall, they put on a great show and are now on my watch list for future gigs. Well done gentlemen!!

First in Flight from SF

Next up was The Blue Stones, also new to us. This is yet another 2-piece guitar/vocals and drummer/vocals group, and they weren’t messing around! Their set was powerful, and both these guys obviously knew their way around their instruments.

Not to be confused with the Black Keys!

My only “gripe” with their set (if you can call it that) was that the guitar got a little lost in the mix. He had a really tasty, overdriven, fuzzed out tone, which I love, but it got a bit swamped in a live setting. I suspect – though have no proof yet – that their recorded material is stellar. Some really fine musicianship was on display and I look forward to digging deeper into their catalog.

A LOT of sound from just two guys!

When Des hit the stage it was electric, right outta the gate.

The band (drummer and bassist) are the same two guys that have been backing him since the first time we saw Des, and they were both on their game and obviously still having a lot of fun with it, which is infectious!

Des himself…what can I even say? If you’ve never seen him, you are missing out. A musician like this comes along so very rarely, it’s difficult to describe what he does to a crowd. Aside from his singing and guitar work (which are exceptional, without question) he just comes across as so genuine and personable, he just draws you in immediately and you get totally enveloped in what’s happening on stage.

Des Rocs,a legend in the making!

I’ve been going to rock shows for 40 years now, and have seen literally hundreds of bands. From the biggest bands the world has ever heard to the flash-in-the-pan, never heard of ’em groups and I can tell you with 100% conviction that Des Rocs is SPECIAL.

If you ever get the opportunity, go check him out, you will not be disappointed!

Thanks to all the musicians (and crew that makes all the magic on stage possible!) for a hell of a night. This was a fantastic night of music, with unexpected treats, and I couldn’t be happier about it!

Thanks for stopping by!

Concert Review: Jack White at Shoreline Amphitheater

I’d been waiting with great anticipation for this show, and planning on a thoughtful and thorough review of the show. As it turns out, the show left me “speechless”… I’m still processing what we witnessed and words just don’t seem to do it justice.

The event was a “no cell phone” thing, so I have no photographic evidence, but it wouldn’t have made it any more understandable than my failing words do.

In short, it was electrifying, mesmerizing and unlike any other performance I’ve witnessed. Jack White is one of those guys that gives you the impression that he couldn’t possibly NOT do what he does. He makes you believe in “hand of God” stuff. He’s a vessel. The only comparison I can think of is an old fashioned, fire and brimstone, tent revival Preacher, and he’s gonna save your soul or die tryin’. It was the most spiritual experience I’ve had in a long time.

Thank you Mr. White. That was an evening we won’t soon forget.

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!

Concert Review: Magic City Hippies at The Catalyst, Santa Cruz, CA

There have been a lot of things over the last 2 years that have really taken the wind out of our sails.  This “plague” that they’re still trying to convince of us nearly destroyed live music, but thankfully it’s starting to trickle back and last night we got to see one of our favorite live bands, Magic City Hippies!

Full disclosure,  I (and my family)  LOVE this band!  We’ve got all their CDs, I’ve got everything they’ve put out on vinyl, the Mrs. and our daughter both sport their t-shirts…our Spotify libraries are chock-full of their music, the girls follow them on IG, and we’ve been to every Bay Area show they’ve done.  If there was a fan club for them, like in the old days, one of the 3 of us would probably be the president of it!  So yes, I am biased.

The Catalyst in Santa Cruz is *somewhat legendary.   It’s been around for DECADES.  I’ve been catching shows there since the 1980s and in fact even played a gig or two there myself way back when.  I still love it there.  Very cool vibe, great bands coming through, cheap drinks…what’s not to love?

To say we were anxiously awaiting this show would be the understatement of the century.   We got in a groove of seeing roughly 20 shows a year, then Covid hit… and boy, did we need a fix!!!  We’d been sitting on the tickets for months, and this show is our scheduled kick-off for a plethora of shows we’ll be attending over the next several months.

The opening band was Bay Ledges.  I’d never heard of them, but MCH has had some great opening acts in the past, so our hopes were high.

The band was a two piece outfit, a drummer and a multi-instrumentalist/vocalist. Right off the bat, the odds are stacked against them in a live music setting. It’s tough to put on a compelling show with only two people up there.

Bay Ledges

I’ll give them this, their songs were pretty good.  As a two piece they are relying on a lot of samples and loops to fill out their sound.  For a drummer, this is an arduous task, as you’re locked in to a computer generated tempo that does.not.deviate.  Bay Ledges’ drummer was rock solid in this regard and literally didn’t miss a beat.  The vocalist had a decent voice and was not bad on guitar.  He also spent a lot of time tapping pads and tweaking knobs…much like watching a DJ, which is slightly more fun than watching paint dry.  That is honestly my only point of criticism for these guys.  They played live music, they did NOT put on a show.  They presented themselves as though they’d just returned from a day of checking out garage sales and they just generally lacked charisma. It had the feel of watching a couple buddies practice… The good news is that is easily overcome.  With some effort and more gigs under their belts I’m sure they’ll become more entertaining.

Then the Hippies hit the stage.  They opened with “Diamond”, one of thier newer tunes, and the crowd was drawn right in.  Until this point I had wondered how they would pull off their new material live, as it is much more “studio-esque” than their earlier stuff, but I had NOTHING to worry about!    The room was enthusiastic and in high spirits, and the band was simply on fire.    They had a new guy sitting in on keys and guitar, and he fit in seamlessly.

That’s the new guy, far right.

The Hippies ripped out a solid 90 minute set, which unbelievably contained the entirety of my personal Top-10 from their catalog. Wrapping up the set with my all-time favorite song of theirs “Fanfare”, was the cherry on top of an unbelievably excellent show!

Close enough to the stage that I was able to capture the set list!

Then after the shortest break ever, they came back and just knocked it out of the park with the encore, rounding out my Top 10 by including “Indiana”, perhaps my favorite song from their Modern Animal album.

This show allows marked the return of their original drummer Pat, who’d (for reasons unknown to me) sat out the first portion of the tour. Pat is a fantastic, if unconventional, drummer and it was great to see him at the kit. The guys were obviously stoked to have him back on stage with them and they all seemed to be having the time of their lives.

Pat is BACK!!!

Magic City Hippies are one of those bands that, in my not-so-humble view, are BETTER live than on record. And their records kick ass. There are only a few bands I’d put in this category, and they’re all heavy hitters – U2, Dave Matthew’s Band, and Primus come to mind… That’s pretty good company.

Overall, I can’t say enough great things about this show. It was exciting, it was a great vibe, and it showcased some spectacular musicians at the top of their game!

Welcome back to California MCH! Thanks for an amazing night! We can’t wait for the next one, which thankfully is TONIGHT in San Francisco! We’ll see ya there, front row like always!!

Thanks for reading!


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