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: 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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