london music – edward rogers

Ed Rogers.jpgEdward Rogers at The Borderline, April 24th

Fortuitously, I just so happened to be in London the same weekend my dear New York friends were in town, and even better, Ed, Don and James were playing at The Borderline with Colin Blunstone!

I can’t remember how many years I have known Ed and Melani–but I do remember my embarrassing introduction to Melani…. a smoker at the time, we were at a Woolsey downtown christmas party, and i had just taken a (terribly shy and nervous) deep inhalation, only to have someone say “this is Amanda….” I opened my mouth and exhaled a large cloud of Silk Cut (or Marlboro light) smoke right into her face… I was mortified, but Melani  – queen of graciousness – did a slight head dodge, smiled and carried on chatting.

I didn’t cross Ed and Melani again for a couple of months. As part of an ASCAP Songwriters workshop, Marci Drexler had been teamed up with Joe Condirraci (fabulous voice, beautiful man) who was in a band – The Green Rooftops – with Ed. Attending a Loser’s Lounge at the Fez with Joe, we ran in to Ed, and Joe introduced us as “She’s English, He’s english… thought you might get on…” And we did. Ed and Melani have been the closest of friends ever since. We had weekly Sunday dinners for years, I’ve celebrated Greek Easters, thanks givings, christmas’s and welcomed in numerous new years together. I love them as family.

I think it was 2001 when Ed asked me if I wanted to write some songs with him. I had just had knee surgery and was hobbling around on crutches, taking things slowly… my well of solo song writing reserves had slowed down (i used to infuriate my wirebird band members with “I’ve got a new song” every week) so I was open to trying out this co-writing thing….

And so was born the Bedsit Poets. It was a really sympathetic combination and we had a lot of fun…Ed has an endless reserve of words, and I have a bounty of melodies and harmonies. Together, I edited and added words, he input rhythm, sound and structure. Sometimes we came at it from the opposite angel. I had the words, he had the music, sometimes, we had nothing but created something. We recorded a great album (the summer that changed) with the Kennedy’s, Ed found a label Bongo Beat to give the album a home, we added a third partner to the mix, guitarist Mac Randall, and then recorded a second album – Notel Rendezvous – with Don Piper (ever since, my go to producer/ engineer/mixer..he’s awesome!). At a certain point though, with a third albums worth of songs on paper and tape recorders, we decided to take a hiatus.

Ed has gone on to record four solo albums, three of which I have had the pleasure of doing the cover art for (Sparkle Lane, Kaye and Glass Marbles), and his output continues to be abundant. Of course I prefer some songs to others (as with any artist), but there are some real gems in Ed’s catalogue that stand out for me – street fashion; borrowed & blue, blackpool nights; looking for stone angels. Ed is like a sponge, he observes the world around him intently… people, places, things… and he has them all covered in his songs. Even with recurring themes, he finds a different consideration…it’s as if he is still mulling over certain themes and will continue to explore them from every angle until he is satisfied that he understands. His albums are like the an Encyclopedia to Ed…what he thinks about, what he sees, what he sees in others, what he loves, what hurts him, his past, his present his future.

FJames Mastro.JPGlanked by Don and Ed, the Don Piper.jpgsoundscape is full and rich, dynamic, and varied. Musically, nothing else necessary (but you know it will sound great augmented with the band too), so it was great when Marty Piper-Wilson who just so happened to be passing through town as well, joined them on stage.

The crowd loved Denmark Street Forgotten… (the song reflects on the end of one of London’s musical meccas as the new swanky inter-rail link is built. From the 50s to the present day, UK’s Tin Pan Alley hosted the NME, Melody Maker, Elton John, David Bowie and the Stones amongst other. The 12 Bar Club and Enterprise rehearsal studios are closed, but funnily enough, just recently, the Sex Pistols have come to save the day! As Britain gets ready to celebrate the 40th anniversary year of Punk (in and of itself slightly perverse), No 6 (where the Sex Pistols recorded the first demos of God Save The Queen and Anarchy in the UK 1975-77) and No 7 Denmark Street, have be awarded Grade 2* listed status by a Conservative government Heritage Minister… so it can’t be pulled down!!!)….But I digress.

 

With the powerhouse engine of support, encouragement, sounding board, idea generator, editor, photographer, organizer and best dressed lady I know, Melani Rogers is the 5th Beatle of this band 🙂  The show was great, succinct, tight.

Ed is a born show man, he loves it on stage, talking to the crowd, getting them engaged, and it is always done with that special ed rogers smile, passion and a joy of life.

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paris music – the flamin groovies

The Flamin Groovies Le Petit Bain, Friday April 29

In Screen Shot 2016-04-30 at 10.53.15 AM.pngfull transparency, I have to declare there is a predisposition to positive bias – The Flamin Groovies were one of my favorite bands growing up; my first NY band, the Wirebirds, spent many an hour playing flaming groovy songs in the music building 1206; and road trips require a Flamin Groovies sound track (perfect time to brain wash a five year old in to loving them)… so when I heard they were coming to Gay Paree, I had to get tickets (thanks melani for the heads up!)

My other bias… a  Metro, boulot, dodo life also means a night out is a hot ticket item.. I’m already giddy! I had also managed to persuade two of my dearest french girl friends to come with me! I am living the life, right now, so of course, I’ll love the evening! I skip down the stairs at Metro Quai le Gare, I had already spotted our meeting location, Chez Lili et Marcel (highly recommended), their awning blazoned in sans serf retro lettering, and crossing the road I saw my friends through the window, already seated, chatting and laughing. I caught MP’s eye and she turned and gave a huge smile and wave, followed by Edith’s little jump of joy in her seat! Through the window photo op… but no time here… we were on a mission – catchup, eat, and get to the show on time.

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Flamin Groovies at Le Petit Bain.

I had anticipated a 9pm start based on DJ and opening acts being listed on the bill, so at 8:30 I started to get a little anxious… (flash back to hanging out on the beach, assuming Matthew Sweet would be 2nd or 3rd on the bill, I actually missed him), so we headed over to Le Petit Bain…a strange looking floating box bar, on the actual Seine, and next to the Josephine Baker Swimming Pool (in the actual Seine!).

The crowd was a mix of old and young rockers, lots of jeans and leather jackets, black hair, grey hair, pink hair, biker boots, beatle boots, (my friends lovely light suede channel boots). I almost had a wave of…“my people…they exist in Paris as well as NY!”… the unifying force of music! No disrespect to my well dressed rocker friends in NY, but the Parisians do have a certain je ne sais quoi in the way they put it together! So amidst the très chic (and not so chic), we went down the stairs into Le Petit Bain floating Tardis club with 450 others.

Perfect timing! Weaseling our way through the crowds we got fairly close to the front and waited for the show to begin…Teenage Head was what I in and what they started with. We danced, I sang along, Feel a Whole lot better, She Tore Me Down, First Plane Home, Slow Death, Tallahassee Lassie, Between the Lines, Yeah My Baby amongst others before closing with Shake Some Action! Much fun!

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Founded in 1965, this is Cyril Jordon and George Alexander’s 51st year as Groovies! Chris Wilson joined in ’71 (after Roy Loney’s departure) and in ’76 (teaming-up with Dave Edmunds producing) they came out with the fabulous Shake Some Action. FullSizeRender-3.jpgThere are only five Flamin Groovies albums, but stuffed with gems.

The band – Jordon, Wilson and Alexander, joined by Victor Penalosa on drums-was a mix of tight and loose, sometimes fingers didn’t FullSizeRender-5.jpg
seem to work exactly how I imagined they would like them to (George also had pinky and ring fingers taped at their base), vocals were a little gravelly, but why I am even saying that, the energy, the performance, was great. The club was full of joie de vivre –  on and off stage.

All my worries that my friends, with slightly different musical tastes, we not going to enjoy themselves, dissipated as they smiled, laughed and bopped along! Per MP’s message this morning… “Très chouette hier cet anti métro boulot dodo”…  alive again!FullSizeRender-4.jpg

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paris music – bachar mar-khalife

Bahar Mar-Khalife at La Maroquinerie, Monday February 8th

IMG_0414.JPGI wasn’t sure where I was going or what to expect. A friend had invited me along to listen to some music, so I said yes.

The discrete door was easily identified by the long queue of people, shivering, chatting, the couple in front of us sharing a bottle of Moët, waiting to open their jackets and bags for security inspection. Past security, we went into the court yard and then through the door to the right and down the stairs, entering the band-sticker-covered lobby and in to the performance space.

No seats?! I’m getting old, I thought. The room was already full as we made our way down to the mosh pit where we stood shoulder to shoulder with other attentive audience members listening to the solo female artist playing her jumbo guitar, switching between vocal mics and making loops to accompany herself with hypnotic repetition. She was good, but I found it a bit too repetitive to enjoy standing! Maybe if I was sitting, lying, letting it wash over me, I would have been happy. She finished, and we waited.

FullSizeRender (1).jpgBachar entered the stage, a small compact man, 30 something, Lebanese/Parisian, shaved head, beard, T-shirt and jacket. He started to play his keyboard. simple, quiet. unassuming. He started singing Hallelujah, repeating the word over and over, intertwined with Moroccan gwana rhythms. He dedicated the piece to children who have died young. From an interview (portrait of the musician) he explains “The hallelujah does not belong exclusively to the West. It is sung in the churches of the East in Arabic, Aramaic and Assyrian. So for me there is nothing contradictory about combining a hallelujah with a gwana rhythm!” When the band crashes in, full force, polyrhythmic, multiple key signatures, 5/4, 4/4, 6/8, combine with styles of classical, reggae, speed metal, disco …I don’t really know what it was. I haven’t done drugs or alcohol in over 10 years, but I was on a trip! I forgot that I was standing, that I was holding bags from work, that I had a baby boy at home, as I swayed and bobbed on top of, inside, along side this varied sonic landscape.

FullSizeRender.jpgThe drummer was awesome, such IMG_0471.JPGa great smile as he played – I can’t even begin to describe the rhythms that were coming from the drums and piano.  The bass player reminded me of the lovely and talented Brad Albetta 🙂 Solid, substantial, smooth!

It was great; powerful, complex, layered, textured, mystical, magical…. the energy on stage was intense, and mirrored in the audience.  It was a great show. Very, very happy that I ventured into the unknown!

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london music – the zombies

Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent at Rough Trade East, London on Tuesday FebruaDSC_0674.jpgry 2nd

It’s not everyday you get to see Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent performing an intimate “acoustic” (ok.. it’s an electric piano) duo set as if they were in your living room… and, yes, they were great. Chris White (former Zombie songwriter and bass player) was also in the crowd along with old die hard, and new young, fans…

DSC_0689.jpgTheir songs have withstood the test of time. Colin’s voice was in fine form as it leapt and sprang over familiar melodies. And such great melodies! Comfortable yet tricky, the songs provide a range to be reckoned with, and Colin moved around them as if they are putty in his hand. It somehow doesn’t seem that surprising that both Rod and Colin were choir boys growing up! They are such lovely people… funny, charming and fascinated by the world around them and so willing to share. Rod’s piano playing was (and is whenever I have seen him) full of exuberance and joy. He always looks like he’s having a blast.

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These are two lucky men! They have some fabulous songs to keep performing, She’s Not There, Tell Her No, Time of The Season, Care of Cell 44, A rose for Emily – 
and they seem to genuinely enjoy each other’s company, laughing and bantering…

The Q&A session was charming with a couple of stories, including the unplanned inclusion of mellotron all over Odessey and Oracle to take advantage of the instrument that John Lennon had left behind at Abbey Road. As Colin says “Now I know I’ll never get over you!” The Zombies live on!DSC_0915.jpg

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