Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Best and Worst of Music 2008

This is just a quick list and I know that I'm forgetting some good and not so good music. If I remember something worthy I'll update the list. To be on this list means that it has to be something that I might have interest in so people like Brittney Spears and her ilk aren't even considered. They are by definition bad music already and not worth my effort to review. Time has not been on my side what with taking care of my 20 month old son so please be kind and remember that this is only my opinion. You don't have to agree with me and if you notice any mistakes well.........get over it. Let's get started shall we?

Best of 2008

Alejandro Escovedo – Real Animal – I absolutely love Alejandro’s music so it was a bit unusual for me to find that I couldn’t get past the first few songs. It was only after several repeated listenings that I began to really appreciate this entire cd. It is simply wonderful.

Tesla – Forever More – Tesla comes back with great music and even greater lyrics. Their song ideas are extremely good and always make me think. The music is as always out of sight.

AC/DCBlack Ice – Also back (from down under) is this great rock band with a great rock record. They are a timeless band and it shows on this release. Easily their best release in the last 15 years or so.

D.A.D.Monster Philosophy – This one is under constant rotation in my cd player. It has great lyrics and a nice variety of song styles and is solid from track 1 to track 13. Everybody I have played this for really likes it. These are just very good rock songs. Enough said.

Grupo FantasmaSonidas Gold – This band has received a Grammy nomination in the category of ‘Best Latin Rock/Alternative Album’ which doesn’t even fully define what their sound is all about. You could call it cumbia/salsa/jazz/funk/rock and still not quite get it right. I just call it good music.

Kings of LeonOnly by the Night – It’s nice to hear a singer have some real passion in his voice instead of simply running scales. It starts off very slow and I almost couldn’t get past that. Luckily I did and the moody presence had a way of growing on me.

MetallicaDeath Magnetic – Look for a post on Metallica soon and my thoughts on them. They’ve managed to finally return to their roots and do it well. That means a lot coming from me.

Los FabulocosLos Fabulocos – Take some cali-mex roots music and mix it with blues, zydeco, conjunto, norteno, blues, rockabilly and rock n roll and this is what Los Fabulocos sounds like. Kid Ramos is well known in the roots and blues music community and his guitar drives the music. Plus my 19 month old absolutely loves them, what better plug could you give them?

JourneyRevelation – Arnel Pineda does a fantastic job of sounding close to Steve Perry while keeping his own identity. Journey is back in a big way but unfortunately I couldn’t see them live this year. Hopefully they’ll come back around next year.

Kings XXV - This is another one has slowly grown on me. It took several listenings before I came to really appreciate the quality that Kings X brings out.

Night RangerHole In The Sun – Very solid effort from this long running group. They manage to branch out and try some different things musically while still building on their trademark sound.

WhitesnakeGood To Be Bad - Although some songs sound extremely familiar David Coverdale still sounds great as do the songs. Sounds like popular Whitesnake mixed with Slide It In era Whitesnake. Doug Aldrich brings a bit of a harder edge with his guitar mastery.

DokkenLightning Strikes Again – Don Dokken can’t hit the high notes he used to but that’s okay, not many vocalists can. This is vintage Dokken sounding music and it’s quite good.

White LionReturn of the Pride – Although only singer Mike Tramp is back they still manage to turn in a solid effort after being away for a long time. One of the many bands that I “could” have seen this year but never did. You can read about that in an earlier post as well.

Rick SpringfieldVenus In Overdrive – For at least one song (What’s Victoria’s Secret) Rick’s vintage power pop sound from the early 80s is back and for me that makes it worth it. When you add in all the other good songs this is a no-brainer.

Worst of 2008

Def LeppardSongs From The Sparkle Lounge – Joe Elliott just can’t do it anymore without having his vocals heavily synthesized. It comes off without any real emotion.

Sammy HagarCosmic Universal Fashion - See my previous posts about my views on Sammy’s latest.

Guns N RosesChinese Democracy – Ditto.

Motley CrueSaints of Los Angeles – This just didn’t go over for me. They tried too hard to show that they were still relevant and the lyrics especially suffer drastically.

ExtremeSaudades de Rock – To be honest I have only heard a few songs off of this travesty but it was enough to put me off. They were absolutely dreadful.

Bret MichaelsRock My World – Let’s see, a couple of lame new songs added to a bunch of songs from previous solo releases adds up to crap. That about sums it up.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

One Hit Wonders Or Not?

My favorite podcast (Stuck In The 80s) frequently does shows with topics like One Hit Wonders of 1983, 1984, etc. Invariably when they tab an artist or group as a one hit wonder they get a slew of complaints from all over the world from fans who assure them that their favorite artist/band had many more hits than they give them credit for. They offer as evidence the chart positions from their countries for these artists. For me this is a problem. You see if I am living in America and am doing my own list it means I’m talking about the American charts. I didn’t grow up in England, India, Peru or any other country. I grew up listening to music and watching videos in America so it only makes sense to refer to the American charts since that is what I experienced and lived through.

It doesn’t mean that there weren’t any foreign bands on the list, just that I’m using my country of origin as the basis for my information. There are a ton of foreign bands whose music I adored (still do as a matter of fact) such as The Clash, The Specials, The English Beat, Big Country and countless others. Unfortunately I did not live in these bands countries and as such the favorite songs of that era by these individual listeners in their country has absolutely no bearing or influence on my life because I never experienced it. The flip side to this is that they never experienced mine either. I’ve listened to quite a few interviews where an artist talks about how in America a particular song was huge but in his own home country it did nothing at all. There are artists who couldn’t get recognized by their own mothers here in the states but in Japan are revered as god-like creatures. It all depends on where you live and where you come from, what your influences are and what touches you personally and makes an impression.

So when you hear a one hit wonders or top songs list ignore the fact that your hair starts bristling on your arms, neck and ears over the injustice that you feel is being done to your favorite artist. Take a breath and remember that just because a song was huge in your country does not mean it was huge all over the world. Feel free to make your point that said band was more than a one hit wonder where you come from but also understand that it’s not necessarily so all over the world. Don’t take offense. Live and let live and remember that I’m not wrong, I’m not right, I’m just opinionated.

Should Kid Rock Get To Choose His Punishment?

Kid Rock has something he wants to get off his chest. You see he and others got into a fight at a Waffle House and he got arrested. He was given community service and he petitioned the judge that his punishment should be for him to put on shows for troops overseas. That sounds great, right? Give the troops a little entertainment, shake a few hands and sign some autographs then everybody is happy. Except for the judge that is. The judge said no to Kid Rock's request. Kid Rock is so angered by this seemingly Un-American gesture that he's letting everybody know about it. He's posted about it on his website and is getting lots of free press over this situation. He actually has the temerity to suggest that the judge is against our troops who are serving their country and risking it all for our freedom (even though freedom is an illusion but I digress). Of course all those fans who are members on his website are rallying to his side with their usual misinformed garbage comments fully supporting him.

The only problem is that Kid Rock is leaving out a few important details. First is that he has done these shows for the troops before and has every intention of doing them again. He is to be commended for that. It's good to see people supporting the soldiers. However this does appear to make his motives a little suspect. Second is that before the judge made his decision Kid did a benefit at a local Waffle House and raised money for charity. That's good right? Except for the fact that he appears to have done this to influence the judge. Basically Kid Rock wants to pick his punishment and wants it to be something he would have done anyway. Where exactly is the justice in this? Where is the lesson for Kid Rock and anybody who listens to his music? The only lesson I see is do whatever you want and when you get in trouble you get to do what you do for a living. Wow, what a hard lesson to learn from. Go play music for soldiers and have them heap adulation on you so that your head can swell a little larger.

Here's a thought. What if you or I, the "regular" people had the same thing happen to us? Would we be able to pick and choose our punishment? I'm talking about the bus drivers, the teachers, the clerks and the other anonymous masses. For some reason I think the judge would tell us what our punishment would be and it would be punishment. We would have to sacrifice money and time, time away from our families in order to have justice be served. There would be no comfortable airline flights, no praise and glory wherever we go. We would not be catered to, our every wish fulfilled immediately. If Kid Rock were to have his way there would be nothing to make him learn a lesson and act like a responsible adult instead of getting into fights at 5 am in all night diners. He'd just buy his way out of it again by doing his job, what he makes a living doing.

If you can't tell by now I fully support the judges decision and commend him for it. Kid Rock needs to get off his high horse and get over himself. He did the crime so now he must do the punishment and stop whining because he can't choose what it will be. He does a disservice to himself and all those who truly have learned their lessons in life and strive never to repeat their past mistakes. We can no longer passively support the privileged few and let them have their way. I for one hope to see him picking up trash on the side of the road or some other such activity. Then he would earn my respect. But hey, it's only my opinion, what do I know? I'm only a veteran of the first Gulf War.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The 2008 Concert Year

2008 seemed like it was going to be a banner year of concerts for me. Instead I suffered through disappointment after disappointment which means it was a pretty normal year. The Nuevo Anos started off great with a David Lee Roth led Van Halen reunion (sans Michael Anthony which seemed quite odd) in February and was quickly followed in March by a bill that included Dangerous Toys and Junkyard and then I finally saw Tesla the following week. To say that I was giddy and flushed with excitement would be an understatement of enormous proportions. Next up in April was Rush. I am a great fan of Rush and this was my 6th time seeing them. So far so good as every show delivered and more than met up to my expectations.

With May there only seemed to be one show that might seem possible. Huey Lewis and the News were playing and I thought that my wife might like to go. No really. Look I’ll admit that they had quite a few good songs back in the day that I did like listening to but unless something like free tickets fell into my lap I really wouldn’t go out of my way to see them. It’s nothing personal against them; there are quite a few groups from the 80s that I feel that way about. So anyway, since we were going to Peru at the end of the month we decided to save our money. The trip to Peru was for several reasons. First was for my wife to see her family whom she had not seen since she came to America (except for her mother who lives in Pennsylvania) over 5 years ago. The second reason was for her family to see our son who at the time was 13 months old and is the first grandchild and great-grandchild in the family. The third reason was with my expert planning; the only band that I could find that I wanted to see playing in Lima while we were there in June was Megadeth. While I am not a huge Megadeth fan I do like a lot of their music so I thought this would be a great accent to the vacation. Unfortunately money was tight due to some unforeseen emergencies and the fact that my brother in law informed me that the concert stadium was not exactly in great condition and was not very close which all added up to no concert for me. But that’s okay I thought. Even though this was disappointing for me there are plenty of concerts this summer when I get home that I can see. Right? Right? Why do I hear crickets?

Once we had returned to the states Rancid was playing but money was still tight so I had to reluctantly pass. In July Rocklahoma rolled around but I had already decided not to go due to the lineup sucking mightily. Seriously, there was not one single day that had enough groups playing that I wanted to see that would make it worth my time and money. I could have seen Jetboy except I didn’t find out they were playing a show here (a day or so before they were playing Rocklahoma) until they were halfway through their set at a club literally 3 blocks from my house while I slaved away at work. Also in July there was the sold out Journey, Heart, Cheap Trick triple bill in Oklahoma City and The Romantics here in Tulsa at The Cherokee Casino. I’m amazed that I didn’t see a single show from these bands, any of which I would have been more than happy to see play.

August came upon me while I was still lacking in funds, notice a pattern here? So I could not see Judas Priest and Motorhead in Oklahoma City. Nor could I see Rick Springfield or Matisyahu when they played in Tulsa. September was relatively quiet for me as I only missed seeing the Georgia Satellites at the Tulsa State Fair. After the previous summer months that was a relief to only miss one possible show. At least my reason was good, I had the opportunity to work overtime and somewhat replenish my limited funds. October brought good news as I was able to see Night Ranger at The Tulsa State Fair. Finally some good luck and fortunate timing paid off. They played a lively set with all of their classics and two songs off of their new cd, Hole in The Sun.

October saw Tesla returning to the state but since the show was in Oklahoma City during the week my wife decided that I could not go. For some reason she thought that spending time with her and our son (not to mention working) was more important. That left one final possibility to see a show this year. In November, a scant 4 days before my birthday White Lion were playing in town AND my wife agreed to let me go as a birthday present. Unfortunately I woke up that day feeling like good enough to work but not good enough to go to a crowded, smoky bar and was in no mood to go out and enjoy them. There ended my chance to see any more bands before the year was out. You might be thinking that couldn’t I see a band this month before the year is over? Isn’t Duran Duran playing in Tulsa this very night? Yes they are however they fall into the category of Huey Lewis and The News where I would go if I received free tickets but I’m not spending my money on them. Of course to win tickets I’d probably have to actually try but that’s a different matter entirely. I think I can safely say that there are no other bands I’d like to see coming anywhere remotely close to me before the end of the year.

At least next year will start off with a bang. I’ll be seeing AC/DC and The Answer on January 26th. AC/DC is the top group on my concert wish list and The Answer is a very good Irish hard rocking band that shows great promise. Plus today I heard that The Pretenders will be in town in February so that’s a possibility. With a little luck and some great planning perhaps I can make 2009 be the banner year that 2008 should have been. Wish me luck.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

What Really Happened with Journey?

This is a mystery that’s never really been solved and is straight out of a dime store detective novel. Journey was a group at the height of their popularity that self-destructed going down in an incredible flame out but to this day many fans still wonder just what went wrong. Sure there’s been a lot of supposition but even thought the band itself has addressed this issue it always feels like something has either been left out or plain left unsaid. Using interviews, word of mouth, modern science, a slide rule, a smattering of innuendo and my extensive imagination I will try to clear up the foggy mess that has been left behind and make it clear for everyone to understand just what I think happened.

It has been documented that guitarist Neal Schon wanted Journey to rock more while vocalist Steve Perry wanted the group to continue down the path of ballads and mid tempo songs that he had been leading them on. This was an extremely successful path I might add. Every band will have arguments which normally lead to creativity and better songs and such was the case here. People tend to forget that Journey could flat out rock and they proved it with songs like Stone In Love and Any Way You Want It. In 1983 during the bands downtime Schon decided to flex his rock muscles with a side project called H.S.A.S. The acronym stood for the band members last names: vocalist Sammy Hagar, Neal Schon on guitars, bassist Kenny Aaronson and drummer Michael Shrieve. They recorded a mostly live album at the end of that year that featured the song Top of the Rock and a cover of A Whiter Shade of Pale and briefly toured in 1984. Keep in mind that this was music that did not fit with the direction Journey was going in nevertheless Schon felt he needed to get it out there.

Now Steve Perry has also stated in an interview that he felt like this was a distraction and that Schon should have been focusing on the band. So he did the natural thing of course and recorded his own solo album. It featured the ballads Oh Sherrie (which was an ode to his girlfriend who broke up with him not too much later) and Foolish Heart, both songs sounding remarkably like Journey songs. Oh Sherrie shot to # 3 and Foolish Heart went to # 18 on the charts. I believe this was Steve Perry letting Neal Schon and the rest of the band know that he didn’t need them to do Journey. He could and would do it on his own if he felt like it. The point was made and Schon lost control of the group that he had co-founded. Perry promptly sacked bassist Ross Valory and drummer Steve Smith and replaced them with session players (most notably Randy Jackson) as the band recorded the album Raised on Radio in 1986. Although the band had several hits and reached # 4 something was clearly missing. Perry’s mother was ill while the album was recorded and he was away for periods of time which made everything more difficult. After the tour the band members decided they were through and Perry ended up taking a break.

He would not release another solo album until 1994. In 1996 the popular lineup of Journey re-united and recorded the cd Trial By Fire. While preparing for a world tour Perry suffered a hip injury and decided to wait on surgery thereby postponing the tour and losing all momentum that they had built. The rest of the group grew tired of waiting and decided they would continue on without him which upset Perry tremendously. By now Schon and keyboardist Jonathan Cain were now leading the bands direction. This desire to keep it going would later affect Perry’s replacement Steve Augeri who developed vocal problems and was out of the group in 2006. He was replaced by Jeff Scott Soto who did not sound enough like Perry and the fans let the band know about it. He was gone in a blink of the eye, barely lasting a little over half a year. That brings us to Journey’s current vocalist Arnel Pineda who sounds extremely close to Perry while maintaining his own identity. The band released a stellar double cd with him in 2008, Revelation, which went platinum and headlined a sold out tour with Cheap trick and Heart.

So there you have it. My opinion on what really happened to this once and now current great band. There’s been too much of hurt feelings, pain and head-butting over control of the direction of the band. For those of you who dream of the day that Steve Perry will return to the fold and once again man the helm of Journey I say quit dreaming and forget about it. It will not happen for a long time if ever. Neal Schon has regained control of his group and will not let go of it again and Steve Perry will require complete control to once again be a part of this great group. I don’t see this happening now and perhaps never. But that’s okay. I’ll still pay to see Arnel lead the band as long as they continue to have something to offer the fans. I’ve seen them with Perry and Augeri and just missed the chance to see them this past summer with Arnel. But that’s story for another day.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Chinese Democracy review - Just say no little bobcat.

I had this post all ready to write with a witty comment about it being appropriate that Axl n Roses dropped a turkey on us a few days before Thanksgiving. Unfortunately I was unable to get on the computer yesterday so all that careful planning went to waste. Truth be told Chinese Democracy is not a turkey but hey, it made for a good punch line.
For me though, this album just does not work at all. It has nothing in it to hold my interest. Thankfully though I didn’t drop any cash on it. Instead I went over to their myspace page and listened to it and for that fan friendly gesture I thank Axl and the band. The fact that this took so long to come out and that it’s not REALLY Guns N Roses did not factor into my opinion at all. I judged the songs on their own merits. For my personal taste there is far too much guitar god shredding on the first few tracks. That’s where the guitarist attempts to put as many notes as humanly possible into a small piece of the song. I don’t like speed metal for this very reason and I surely don’t like it when someone tries it in any other kind of music. I’m all for a good blistering solo but on these songs it sounds forced, something a good song should never do.
There is also a lack of continuity from song to song as if the order was just thrown together. Or maybe Axl picked the titles out of a hat and put them in that order. Either way it doesn’t flow well. Axl has always had a distinctive voice and could screech with the best of them (and I mean that in a positive way) but there are times on Chinese Democracy where he loses control of it and goes out of tune. Inexplicably this made it onto the final product which is strange in that he has exercised such control over this project for such a long time one would think that he would have fixed problems like this.
I have no doubt that this album will do well enough but I don’t believe it will end up matching GnRs biggest hits. Some people are throwing the genius tag on Axl but he hasn’t convinced me so I have to vote no on this one. Maybe we’ll see another GnR release before our mid fifties but given Axl’s track record I doubt it. One thing I’ve always wondered about is why he didn’t just go solo instead of investing all of his time and effort in making the other band members give away their rights to the name Guns N Roses? His name was sufficiently big that a solo album released under his name would have had just as big an impact as under the band moniker of GnR. Unfortunately the long wait coupled with countless broken promises of a release date and Best Buys strange, underwhelming lack of promotion over what they call the biggest release of the year has lead to an even larger lack of anticipation over this cd finally being released. Well, time is of course the final judge and years from now we can look back and decide for ourselves if it was all worth it. For me, the answer is no.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Music Reviews - AC/DC, Tesla and Sammy Hagar

I've been meening to get this done for a few weeks and finally got around to finishing it. I have reviewed 3 recent cd releases and given my (in)expert opinion, for what it's worth. Agree or disagree as you wish but here are my reviews:

AC/DC “Black Ice”

This is a very good release from these Australian masters. AC/DC often get tagged with having every song sound the same but it’s not quite true. To be sure a lot of their music does sound similar but not all of it sounds exactly the same. Amazingly that’s what people not only do not mind but have come to expect from them. That’s why track 4 “Anything Goes” is a love it or hate it song for most fans. The boys break from tradition and try something a bit different and totally unexpected. This song isn’t as bad as it’s made out to be but does sound like something that would have been done by a much different band. Most of my favorite songs are on the front end such as “War Machine”, “Big Jack” and “Spoilin’ For A Fight.” That doesn’t mean that the 2nd half is a let down by any stretch of the imagination. There’s more of a bluesy feel to it which is fine by mean. The Bottom Line: This cd is well worth the money as the boys from down under are back and rocking.

Tesla “Forever More”

I have to say that I just recently got into Tesla thanks to a friend from work who shall remain nameless (that means you Marv). Sure I listened to their hits in the 80s and enjoyed them but for some reason never went any further with it. That atrocity has been corrected. I saw them earlier in the year and they flat out blew me away. That only made me hungry for new Tesla music. Simply put this is an extremely good cd that you need to go buy. The topics/lyrics of tracks like “So What” and “Just In Case” amaze me with their insight. Then there is “Private Ledbetter” which deals with a family and what they must be going through while their son, brother, etc is fighting for his country in Iraq. It doesn’t preach or puff up false patriotism. No, the song only tells it like it is. There are enough rockers and ballads for everyone. Basically put this is Tesla doing what they do best. Do yourself a favor, first buy this cd and then go see them if they come anywhere close to you. You won’t be disappointed unless of course you’re some mopey emo kid and then you’ll be thrilled by being mopey.

Sammy Hagar “Cosmic Universal Fashion”

I’m sure to get some hate on this but this cd is simply dreadful. I used to love Sammy before he joined Van Halen when he really was The Red Rocker. I even went to see him open for ZZ Top at my first ever real concert. Now I know he’s older but still, for awhile he was doing his “Jimmy Buffett on steroids” thing but this is something altogether different. I found the title track to be simply atrocious. Programmed drums with music filtered in and out and Sammy’s semi-spoken vocals just doesn’t sound good at all. This song is supposed to be a sequel of sorts to Van Halen’s “Right Now” content as well as in video but it ends up being a jumbled mess. On his cover of The Beastie Boys “Fight For Your Right To Party” he does punch up the song but it doesn’t really do much for me. The cd closes with a live version of “Dreams/Cabo” that just goes on too long and clearly shows that Sammy cannot hold a candle to Dave’s (Lee Roth) stage patter. At least I found someone who agrees with me (and very closely) on this lump of coal. Head over to http://www.melodicrock.com/ and check out their cd reviews to see their thoughts on this and other releases.

There you have it. Feel free to leave a messsage and I'll add it as soon as possible. Coming soon: Chinese Democracy review, Stuck In The 80s and how well (or not) the 2008 concert year was for me.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

2008 Presidential Election

Election 2008

Whichever way you look at it history will be made in this year’s presidential election. For the first time ever either a black man will be elected president or a female will be elected vice-president. Unfortunately it won’t make much difference whether a democrat or a republican wins the presidential race. Let’s face it, they always trumpet their political and social differences and broadcast them for all to see however once elected all of that gets thrown out the window and it all becomes about trying to stay in office. Their promises are empty and offer only an illusion of making the slightest bit of difference or change.

That’s right; the whole thing is a grand illusion. It doesn’t matter who wins because nothing will change for those that really elect the president. We don’t do that. We can only choose between the lesser of two evils that we are offered. The best, most qualified person for the job will never get within sniffing distance of being elected because they can’t be controlled. To be elected president you have to answer to so many money people who really run things behind the scenes. Basically you have to sell out on a major scale and lie to yourself that at least you’ll be able to do a few good things while in office.

Why do you think we have a two party system? Simply put because it’s much easier to control everything that way. Once you start adding the variables of three, four or more parties that have legitimate chances of winning it gets much harder to control and influence. The powers that be have fought so very hard against allowing a third party candidate to even get invited to the debates. The last time that happened they had to resort to having him labeled as a loon in order to discredit him. Both parties will even tell you that if you vote for a third party you are throwing your vote away. So by voting your conscience for the person you feel is right for the job it’s considered throwing your vote away? Why would they say this? Because if you vote for a third party you will hurt their control, their illusion of power. Ultimately if more people would vote their conscience and take votes away from them perhaps it would force them to make some real changes and actually do some of things they promise in their campaigns.

The last thing I want to say is that if you vote for Palin because it so important to have a woman as vice president or if you vote for Obama because you feel it is equally important to have a black man as president then you need to be slapped in the face and lose your right to vote. The only reason to vote should be to give the best person this incredibly important job. But that’s not the way it works so I guess we’ll find out soon which way history will be made. Let’s see how many more controversies will come about. At least this year neither McCain nor Obama has a relative governing a state so we know that eliminates the specter of the last election rearing its ugly head (although you can never say never) but I’m sure something else will pop up.

After saying all of that does it mean I’m so discouraged that I won’t even vote? Not on your life! I’ll be there “throwing” my vote away or as I see it voting the way I see fit. See you there.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

AC/DC tickets too expensive?

When word started spreading a few months back that AC/DC was to release a new album and start a tour before the year was over I was very excited. You see, AC/DC is one of those groups from back in the day that I never was able to see in concert most directly because they never came around anyplace close to where I was living. When you’re young it’s very easy to think that it’s no big deal if you can’t see a concert, you’ll just catch the band the next time around. That certainly backfired for me before with groups like The Police since they took over 20 years to tour the “next time around.” The more I thought about AC/DC the more I came to believe that this is it for them. By the time they finish this tour, take a break and relax, they most probably will decide it’s time to end this chapter of their lives. When you look at their age, combined with how long it’s been between their current album (Black Ice) and their previous album (2001s Stiff Upper Lip) it doesn’t look good for the future. Of course in a few years they may decide to do it all again, who’s to say?
So I sat their thinking about all of this and decided that now was the time to see them in concert. There may not be another chance so I needed to take it while I could. My wife even agreed and said she’d go to see them with me. Somehow I just knew that they would play here in Tulsa. It just made too much sense what with the new BOK Center opening up and booking all sorts of national tours to fill their seats. Why not AC/DC? The first leg of the tour was announced and unfortunately they were not coming anywhere close to us. Still, I knew it would be a long tour and that I’d just have to wait patiently until the 2009 dates were announced. My faith was undiminished. This would be the year.

Then I started hearing rumors of how much tickets for this tour were going to cost. It was incredible, astounding, unbelievable, ridiculous and a whole lot of other big words. Interestingly enough, the price would not increase the closer you got to the stage. No, the price would be the same if you were front row or in the highest of the nosebleed seats. I’m still internally debating how much sense that makes. After factoring in all the extra fees (don’t get me started on this topic) that come with the opportunity to buy a concert ticket nowadays I knew the price would exceed $100 per ticket and most likely be in the $115 range if not more. Given the downturn in our economy and the recent fiscal crunch in my own household I started thinking that the only way I’d be able to see AC/DC was if I was able to win tickets, not an easy or enjoyable prospect to say the least.
Ah but luck decided to shine her fair light upon me. We were a bit behind at work and my manager let me have a few hours of overtime. I consoled myself with the thought that at least it would pay for half of a ticket and decided to have faith that more overtime would be forthcoming the following week, so then leaving my reservations behind I jumped into the ticket buying stream with full force. My reward was to receive decent seats in the middle left which should afford a very nice view of the stage. Best of all, I did receive enough overtime to the following week to pay for the tickets. My faith was rewarded and life goes happily on. Now I have something to look forward to these next 3 months or so. A light at the end of the rainbow so to speak.

There is no way possible that I could justify taking money out of the household, away from raising my baby, to fund this attempt at reliving my youth, at seeing a group I never had the chance to see when I (and they) were quite a bit younger. Indeed I could not have afforded buying these monstrously overpriced tickets without the overtime from work and quite honestly I don’t know if I will ever do so again. To spend so much money when there are other things that the money could be better spent on seems to be so self indulgent that it makes me feel as if I am doing something wrong. Then after some (quick) deep thinking I have come to see the truth of it all, that this is living. This is enjoying life and making memories and that’s what it really is all about. Sure I could invest the money in something for the house, an extra payment for the car or some other form of drudgery but seriously where’s the fun in that? It comes down to the fact that there are times where you have to have some fun doing something instead of planning to do something. And that is what I have chosen to do. It’s the right thing for me. I’ll let you know how it goes.
I've added this postscript late because I found out that the terrific Irish group by the name of The Answer will be opening for AC/DC on this tour. This is incredible news as I've enjoyed their first cd and anxiously await their second. This will indeed be an amazing concert and hopefully well worth the wait and the price.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Night Ranger @ The Tulsa State Fair October 1, 2008

Night Ranger played at the Tulsa State Fair on Wednesday October 1st. Having never seen Night Ranger play live before I was quite happy to see this show. They sounded great and didn't miss a beat with new guitarist Joel Hoekstra and keyboardist Christian Cullen. The show only lasted about an hour but they nailed just about everything, even a song from their album "Hole In The Sun" that was released earlier this year. The surprise of the night was a cover of AC/DC's "Highway To Hell" to start off their encore which was followed by "Sister Christian" and finished with "(You Can Still) Rock In America. In all they played all of their major hits and most well known songs and it was a great night of music. Now I can finally mark them off of my wish list for groups I've never seen. And just who is on that list? Well, that's another list for another time.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Tulsa State Fair and Night Ranger

Wednesday will be a big day in my house. My wife and I are taking our 17 month old son to the Tulsa State Fair. This is the only day we are going this year. Personally I do not enjoy going to places like this where there are huge, monster crowds but this year I am looking forward to it for 2 reasons.

The first and most selfish reason is that Night Ranger is playing. The deal is you get to see them for free with your ticket to the fair. I never got to see Night Ranger back in the day and I feel that they are the best music group at the fair this year. I always enjoyed their music. Most people remember them for playing slower songs like "Sister Christian" which was a huge hit for them but my preference leans toward their harder rocking songs like "You Can Still Rock In America" and "Don't Tell Me You Love Me." People tend to forget that they did indeed rock hard with their twin guitar attack and thumping bass and drums. Earlier this year they released a new CD entitled "Hole In The Sun" which does have moments that sound like the old Night Ranger while also modernizing their sound and focuses on less ballads and more rocking. Pick it up if you feel like taking a chance on an old band doing something new. Come on, give it a shot.

My second and more important reason is that this is the first year that my son will be able to really enjoy the fair. We went last year but he was only 5 months old and couldn't comprehend what was going on around him. This year not only will he understand but he will be able to interact with us and with all of the kiddie rides, animals, etc. I might enjoy it even more than him to tell you the truth. Just the idea of standing next to him on the merry-go-round or watching his face light up when he sees the animals and all of the lights and sounds. There will be so much for him to take in he'll probably be in sensory overload within minutes. In reality I just want to give him the chance to experience with me all the things that I never had the chance to do with my father. I just have this need to be there to teach and lead him through life so that he can develop the tools necessary to grow up healthy and happy. Maybe this is a pipe dream because I know that by the time he's a teenager he probably won't want to be around his old man but at least he'll have the opportunity. As long as we keep rocking together for a little while I'll be happier than you can ever imagine and that's what it's all about.