Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The White Stripes
Masonic Temple Detroit MI
09-30-2005 to 10-02-2005
a krewechief flashback

The fall concert season is a little light so I thought I'd fill up some space by showcasing concerts I saw before this blog began. Then some I just didn't have the time or energy to publish when I attended the shows.

Since I had a horrific recording experience at MI Fest why don't we start with my first recording ever...a White Stripes weekend in Detroit.

Back in the summer I bought a ticket to a White Stripes show for a friend of mine who had a DAT recorder. He had technical issues. I thought it was time to start doing my own dirty work. It's only a memory if you don't record it. I've got my trusty SONY Mini-Disc and I'm ready to capture my first concert. First three actually, as the wife and I are on a White Stripes pilgrimage.

So many things to learn...how long does the disc record? When is the encore break? Can I flip fast enough in the dark? Thing is, I should have been worried about metal detectors at the door. Only in Detroit, much as I love coming to this city for friends and music.

I had received some sage advice from a taper friend. My rig and mics inside two money belts, under my jeans, covered by a fanny pack that contains my phone, keys and wallet...which I offer up for inspection. Usually that's good enough but they wand me and it detects my mics. They ask me to remove my fanny pack, they wand me again, and it beeps again because it's definitely picking up the mics. I reach into my jacket pocket and show them two cd's, bootlegs of a show from a week ago that I downloaded and am passing along to a friend. It's taken a lot of time already so they pass me by. The next two nights I put my complete rig inside the fanny pack (back pockets), show my keys and wallet and hold it out like I was on a cross. They wand my body and I get in no problem.
I've done about 300 shows since then and haven't been caught at the door yet. Knock on wood.

In three nights we had 86 songs; 2 were done 4 times...a couple teases, the mega-hits, Ball and Biscuit and Dead Leaves on the Dirty Ground. 8 songs were played each night, 3 times; The Nurse, 7 Nation Army, My Doorbell, I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself, Hotel Yorba, Hardest Button to Button, Boll Weevil and Blue Orchid. 9 songs were played 2 times; apple blossom,as ugly as I seem,fell in love with a girl (fast then slow),in the cold night,instinct blues,lets shake hands,little ghost (with the blue moon kentucky line),passive manipulation,red rain. And 36 unique songs were played...even though some of them were just alternate mash-ups.
That's 55 unique songs if my three years in Grade 11 math held up.

It's September 30,2005, my wife's birthday. And I'm treating her to a weekend in Detroit. Jack better bring something along to make it worthwhile.

When a White Stripes concert starts there's prelude, no build-up to a climax. It starts with the orgasm and gets more intense from there. Oh, you take a couple breaks in between to catch your breath but you never quite recover from the opening sonic boom.

Tonight we get screamo versions of Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground followed by Black Math, to get the andrenalin coursing through your veins. This is good showmanship. No sense dawdling around at the beginning. Jack takes a break while Meg does the lead on a subdued Passive Manipulation. Then he stays at the piano to reprise the opener, Dead Leaves, but at a much more leisurely pace. A rare version.

Jack asks Meg where they are before they swing into Hotel Yorba. I Think I Smell a Rat morphs into a complete version of Instinct Blues. Jack's loving the piano tonight and he stays there for a rendition of My Doorbell.

Time for a joke about Kwame Kilpatrick, the ill-fated (read: criminal) Mayor of Detroit who was about to spend some time in jail.
" Kwame Kilpatrick came over for breakfast this morning at my house. He did. Said he wanted to borrow some money. I said, get it like you always get it Kwame. He can't fool me we went to the same highschool. Anyway that's my 'talk with the audience' part of the show." Only it wasn't.

We get into the heart of the show with the ever-present Cannon mashup, this time with When I Hear My Name, the first of three distinct Death Letter mashups, this time Jack sings I Can't Keep Myself From Crying at the stage apron with no mic before ripping into the showcase song of the evening. A rare, and a little goofed up, version of One More Cup of Coffee breaks the mold of your usual show. But it's back to the structured part with Astro, Nurse, Cannon reprise, Cold Cold Night (very good) and Ball&Biscuit, also the best version of the three nights. In between he sneaks in a wonderful Big Three Killed My Baby. That's about all you deserve in a White Stripes show, but there's more to come.

There's still a bunch of new songs to go. When I see these I wonder when or if we'll ever hear them live again. We get a powerful version of I'm Lonely (But I'm Not That Lonely Yet) and the best Red Rain of the three nights. At the end of a wonderful Little Ghost Jack was getting talkative again: "How do feel now? (crowd cheers), That's alright. Alright let's hear how I feel now. (crowd cheers)That's alright.That's about right. Over-medium, I'm kinda cooked over-medium now. That's how I like my eggs if you're coming over for breakfast tomorrow, but I'm going to Kwame's house. This is a song off our new album "Get Behind Me Charlie", it's called Red Rain. You don't mind if I play a little bit longer in this encore do you? I got nowhere to go." I'm thinking, ummm no, I got no more tape left.

A couple more candy-cane songs and the 'Saginaw' version of 7NA with the Bacharach epic thrown in makes it a night. Best of the three, though the other two were no slouches. We got a lot of rare songs...and if they weren't rare in 2005 by the time we had the '06 and '08 Racs and the Dead Weather, with only two righteous tours in between...they are rare now.

Check the songs in the set list below for a few mp3s.

White Stripes 2005-09-30
Detroit MI
Disc 1
01 dead leaves (partial) / 02 black math / 03 passive manipulation / 04 blue orchid /05 dead leaves on piano / 06 hotel yorba / 07 I think I smell a rat /
08 instinct blues / 09 my doorbell / 10 the mayor for breakfast / 11 cannon/when I hear my name /
12 death letter (first he started singing I Can't Keep Myself From Crying to the front rows with no mic) / 13 one more cup of coffee / 14 astro / 15 jack the ripper /
16 the nurse / 17cannon /18 big 3 on piano (finish on guitar) / 19 in the cold night / 20 ball and a biscuit
Disc 2
01 I'm lonely (but I ain't that lonely yet) / 02 as ugly as I seem / 03 hardest button to button / 04 fell in love with a girl (fast then slow) /
05 I just don't know what to do with myself / 06 little ghost / "get behind me charlie" /07 red rain / 08 apple blossom / 09lets shake hands /
10 seven nation army (Saginaw)/11 boll weevil

White Stripes 2005-10-01
Detroit MI
Disc 1
01 / lets shake hands / 02 blue orchid / 03 party of special things to do / 04 dead leaves / 05 passive manipulation /06 cannon/i think i smell a rat / ball and a biscuit / harold, there's something wrong with this guitar* / 07 st. james infirmary /08 death letter tease/little bird/letter out / detroit at 3:30* /09 i want to help you out....from the album Triangle...man, i thought he'd never play this song!* /
10 Stones In My Passway (Robert Johnson) / 11 my doorbell / 12 wasting my time / 13 jolene / 14 in the cold cold night /15 same boy you've always known /16 girl you have no faith in medicine /17 cannon/passive manipulation (guitar and drums)/cannon/i think i smell a rat riff / 18 hardest button to button
Disc 2
01 when i hear my name / 02 instinct blues / 03 laffyette blues / 04 the union forever / 05 the nurse / 06 seven nation army / 07 we are going to be friends /
08 forever for her (is over for me) / 09 red rain /10 i just don't know what to do with myself / 11 hotel yorba / 12 boll weevil

White Stripes 2005-10-02
Detroit MI
Disc 1
01 (who's the cry baby intro) / 02 dead leaves / 03 blue orchid / 04 hotel yorba / 05 the denial twist / 06 apple blossom /
07 i think i smell a rat/passive manipulation/i think i smell a rat tease/harrigan / 08 dead leaves/cannon/john the revelator/cannon /
09 fell in love with a girl (fast then slow and some weird shit at the end) / 10 ball and a biscuit intro (tease) / 11 my doorbell / 12 as ugly as i seem /
13 death letter/grinnin' in your face/death letter / 14 do / 15 screwdriver / 16 blackjack davey /17 ??? / 18 walking with a ghost (tegan and sara) /
19 hardest button to button / 20 ball and a biscuit / 21 seven nation army
Disc 2
01 i just don't know what to do with myself /02 little ghost (with the blue moon kentucky line) / 03 red rain / 04 you've got her in your pocket /
05 astro (slow) / 06 the nurse / 07 boll weevil

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Inagural MI Fest
Michigan International Speedway
featuring The Raconteurs, Sheryl Crow, Ronnie Dunn and more

The Raconteurs 10:00
Sheryl Crow 8:15 - 9:30
Ronnie Dunn 6:45 - 7:45
The Romantics 5:30 - 6:15
Mark Farner 4:10 - 5:10
Jeff Daniels 3:05 - 3:50
Wendy Starland (Special Performance) 2:30 - 2:45
Mitch Ryder 1:25 - 2:10
The Ben Daniels Band 12:30 - 1:00

The Rockets 7:00 - 8:00
Ty Stone 5:30 - 6:30
JEFF the Brotherhood 4:25 - 5:10
Black Belles 3:30 - 4:00
PUJOL 2:40 - 3:10
Black Milk1:50 - 2:20
Thornbills 1:00 - 1:30
Shock Wave 12:00 - 12:30

A weekend festival to celebrate Michigan. Sounds like a plan. I've had some good times in Michigan during my life. Seeing the Lions defeat the Cowboys on a last second field goal at Pontiac back in the late '70's. Springsteen at Joe Louis Arena in 1981. Dylan at Cobo Hall, in Ypsilanti and at the Crysler Arena, The State, The Fox. I was there the night Jack White and Dylan played Ball and Biscuit. 6 shows with the Stripes. Visits with friends. The best cherry chicken dish ever in St Joseph's.

A bit of an inauspicious start for this ambitious endeavour. Tickets prices were suddenly lowered by $20 the week before the show...a portent of things to come. Two days before the show 11 acts were unceremoniously dumped. None of the main acts but it decimated the local talent. Fans of Hotclub of Detroit, Jill Jack, The Juliets, Thornbill, The Ragbirds and the Howlin' Diablos were disappointed to see these bands dropped. Perhaps they reached too high, too soon...

It's not easy coming up with a theme for a road trip to Brooklyn MI...but I found one.

While taking in the best of live Michigan music, I took the opportunity to visit some not so live artists.

Our first stop is Westlawn Cemetery in Wayne, MI, where the soulful Jackie Wilson, is buried. Sad story at the end of a troubled life. Drops while performing his signature tune, 9 years comatose, no way to treat a man with such a vibrant life force.

Getting to the speedway was no problem at all. A 30 minute ride from our hotel, straight into the Wheelchair Parking spot and onto the tram that brings you to the grounds. We have the "VIP Grandee" tickets which cost $20 more than the regular general admission and promised free drinks, food, close stage access and mingling with the artists. I didn't mingle much but the 3 free drinks were worth $21 so the rest was a bonus.

On the side stage Shock Wave were greeting the early bird audience with a cover of Alice Cooper's I'm Eighteen. They were shockingly loud for 12:10 pm.

I didn't mind, 'cause I knew Jack White was performing today.

We're already commited to the main stage and we find ourselves a nice spot about 30 feet from the stage.

Alive and kickin' at 1:25 pm are Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels!
He's flogging a new album, had some blonde cutie in the audience selling copies. Got the crowd on their feet for Jenny Take A Ride and Devil With the Blue Dress. Voice was terrific, still belting them out.

I stick around to watch a minute or two of Wendy Starland. She was added to the roster, even as all those local bands were being dropped. Apparently she's a "special" guest. I heard some mumbling about her winning some songwriting award. As I'm meandering towards the drink line I'm wondering where that was...not country wide, surely, unlikely it's even a state wide award. My guess is it was the Hamtramack Songwriting Award. I believe her greater claim to fame was 'discovering' Lady GaGa.

I didn't mind 'cause I knew Jack White was performing today.

After drinks it's food and a chance to take in the grounds. The organizers have done a terrific job; the drink lines are short, the food lines are short and there's a large variety of choices. Plenty of vendors as well. Wanted to grab a lovely Hwy 61/49 Crossroads necklace but at $100 I figured I'd just go visit it again. The longest line in the place was outside the Third Man Records Rolling Record Store Truck Thingie.

Jeff Daniel's comes onstage to play us some of his contemporary bluegrass stylings. I'd say he was the pleasant surprise of the day. He was happy that the Tigers had clinched their division and started his set with The Tiger Fans Blues . Even though he didn't mention Tramell once I believe my buddy Doug is going to enjoy this song. (This is the only song I was able to salvage from 6 hours of taping and even it's marred by the wind off the stage mics. More on that later.)

During Jeff's set, which included a few Michigan-centric tunes and a cover of I Heard It Through the Grapevine, Jack White was side-stage with his kids.

Between sets I wander over to catch Third Man Record Artists, Black Belles for a few seconds. They look like extras from Wicked. As I'm moving away from the stage the singer notes that it's hard to keep her hat on in the wind. I comment to the lady walking next to me, "Ya, that's what's hard about rock n roll." Without missing a beat she replies, "The wind."

Mark Farner, formerly of Grand Funk Railroad, was the second pleasant surprise of the day. I cut him a little slack for his Made In America rant because he did note it was his wish to get his country back. Opens with We're An American Band. Locomotion was a real treat and Closer to Home was dedicated to the troops.

Time for some more drinks and I come across Little Jack Lawrence watching the end of Jeff the Brotherhood's set on the side stage.

The Romantics. What can I say. There is no greater hell-on-earth than to be an '80's hair band and have to be reliving that decade when you're in your 50's. Ask Flock of Seagulls. Or Duran, Duran. That's why I just took a picture of their drum set.
They opened with a song that had the same melody as their biggest hit, only was slightly slower. Played another one or two vaguely familiar tunes, then they did Talking in Your Sleep, before they closed with What I Like About You. They were well received and didn't suck terribly, although they were a little repetitive.
OK, here's what hell is like in the music industry.

On the main stage we're waiting for Ronnie Dunn and Sheryl Crow. Now looking around the venue, and knowing what I know about the star-making machinery behind the popular song, these two artists are a bigger draw than The Raconteurs. Now I'm not saying they're better than Jack...I'm just saying. And the audience really took to both artists. To me they made vanilla seem exotic. Dunn has a big...truck. With his name splashed across a 30' trailer. Real subtle. His persona exceeds his personality though. Songs were a little light. Too many allusions to being a country addict or freak or bleeding red-white-and-blue. Sheryl Crow was amazingly underwhelming. I was expecting a more powerful set. She pretty well mailed it in. Even her good songs were merely background music, carried more by the audiences enthusiasm for their memory of the songs than the performance itself.

But that's ok, 'cause Jack White is performing tonight.

It's getting a little cool now but we've had a wonderful weather day. Bright sunshine with enough cloud cover to keep you from keeling over unless you were one of the dozen walking-dead who had imbibed a little too much. We came prepared and are sitting with a warm blanket and an open view of the stage. We couldn't see through the packed crowd in the VIP section during the previous two innocuous sets but now we have the equivalent of unobstructed front row seats.

How can that be, you might ask. First off the organizers did a great job of keeping interlopers out of the sequestered area. Secondly Jack has learned a little from one of his three fathers, Bob Dylan. He's learned how to cover up lyric flubs with incoherent mumbling and, it's evident tonight, he's learned how to empty a room.

Now in fairness to Jack most of those who left were predisposed to leave and were making their way towards the exit after Sheryl's set wound down. Some had kids. Some were older than the performers by a couple decades and weren't planning on staying past sunset. It was getting cold so the casual festival goer may have had his fill. Not to mention that on the main stage it was the headliners who were fish out of water. The Raconteurs should have closed the showcase stage, following the Third Man Record bands.

Many of those who did stick around to see what all the fuss was about started to peel out after the 3rd or 4th song. That left about 2,000 people watching the headliners.

I just don't get it.

The Racs were a little loose. Slightly new arrangements for most of the songs. Highlight was Top Yourself. Brendan's songs were good. Jack's showcase songs lacked the emotional punch they used to have. He went crazy on his solo's but his voice was not as captivating as it could be on the epic Blue Veins or Carolina Drama.

Salute Your Solution
You Don't Understand Me
Top Yourself
Old Enough
Many Shades of Black
Intimate Secretary
Switch and the Spur
Blue Veins

Steady As She Goes
Carolina Drama

I'm having a little fun at the expense of some bands but it was a terrific day. The event was well organized and the festival help was gracious beyond anyone's expectations. I mean it was so good I was not even surprised they were offering a happy ending to the concert goers at the exit.

OK, the wife tells me that does not mean what I think it means.

Not leaving good enough alone we stay up drinking 'till 3:00 am and severely pay for it the next morning.

In Woodlawn Cemetery, located south of 8 Mile in Detroit, we find Jackie Wilson's cousin, Levi Stubbs.

Was hoping to get a picture of Ted Nugent's grave.
Imagine my disappointment when I found out he was still alive.

Postscript: Been having some trouble with my recordings this year. Partly due to the fact the shows have been few and far between due to health issues in the family and I got a new rig which I thought I was having trouble mastering. After doing a little research (which I could have done BEFORE I went to the Festival) I found out the H2ZOOM has a problem with it's peak control when in line mode. There's ways around it but the easiest way is...don't fucking use it. I'm going back to my Edirol and Tascam and should have my act together for Coachella 2012.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

MI Fest
Brooklyn, Michigan
September 17,2011
featuring The Raconteurs

...and a host of others.

This is the inaugural MI Fest featuring as many artists with local ties as could be located for a fall concert. The headliners are The Raconteurs, led by rock-god Jack White, bolstered by the rhythm section from The Greenhornes, Little Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler, and supported by sometime member of Queens of the Stone Age, Dean Fertita...all cut their teeth in Michigan bars.

Jack's even brought 5 of  his Third Man Records artists up from Nashville to fill up the third stage.

Jeff the Brotherhood 5:00
Black Milk 4:15
Pujol 3:30
Black Belles 2:45
Thornbills 2:00
Bear Lake* 1:00
The Juliets* 12:15
* non Third Man Records Artists
A second stage is filled with numerous local, not quite nationally recognized acts.


The Rockets 7:30
Ty Stone 6:00
Howling Diablos 4:45
Jill Jack 3:45
Whitey Morgan 3:00
The Ragbirds 2:15
Hot Club of Detroit 1:30
Jessica Hernandez 12:45
Shockwave 12:00
Now while I'm sure there are going to be some special moments at those two side stages I've decided to stay close to the VIP tent for comfort sake and take in the acts at the main stage. There's a slight chance I'll sneak away to see Black Belles but other than that I'm looking forward to virtually all the main stage artists...from Mitch Ryder onwards.


The Raconteurs 10:00
Sheryl Crow 8:15
Ronnie Dunn 6:45
The Romantics 5:30
Mark Farner 4:30
Alto Reed AllStars 3:30
Jeff Daniels 2:30
Mitch Ryder 1:30
The Ben Daniels Band 12:45
Marnee 12:00 
Some confusion at the outset as ticket prices mysteriously dropped in the week before the show. Perhaps not so mysteriously as it is late in the festival season (VooDoo in New Orleans at the end of October has the distinct advantage of being in New Orleans), it's catering to local interest and it's about an hour from Detroit, which is basically not a high-tourist draw. But it's ambitious in it's scope. I'm not averse to the crowd size being less than capacity.
Might have pictures, hope to have sound samples, when we get back home.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Tommy James and the Shondells
CNE Bandshell
with special guest
Andy Kim

So is Andy Kim going to have someone sing Sugar, Sugar so he can do the backing vocals? My guess is that's as likely as Sinead O'Connor getting her Bob Dylan wish.
Time to enjoy a snippet of pop-heaven. Tommy James and the Shondells don't get up this way that often and how can you missing seeing a band that made up a big part of the soundtrack of your youth?

Well, your wife can be recovering from a hip replacement, wheelchair bound, it can be the last long weekend of the Exhibition, complete with AirShow, the weather report can be calling for 6 hours of steady rain with the odd thunder storm thrown in...but it'll take a little more than that.

GO Train to the Ex. More memories of childhood as we pass through the Food Building, meander along the Midway, stop in to the Better Homes building and try to find a decent spot in front of the Bandshell.

This is our first outing since back in June and while it ain't always easy, it's good to be back chasing the music. As it turns out the Air Show was cancelled due to the threat of inclement weather, it only rained for 5 minutes, we got a spot in the first row and didn't have to pay for entry to the CNE.

Cost of Transportation: $8.80
Cost of Food and Drinks: $15.50
Cost of Entry to Grounds and Concert: $0

2 hours of pleasant memories and great music: $Priceless

A little warning on the sound samples. I've been having some trouble learning about my new recording rig and this capture is what they call "hot", in the parlance of the trade. Levels a little high. Taper was absolutely fine, I promise. With a little editing it's listenable, in an AM transistor radio kind of way. While most recordings come with an admonition to PLAY LOUD, on this one you should get a set of little tinny speakers and listen from a distance(g).

Andy Kim
CNE Bandshell

t01 Baby I Love You (Phil Spector et al)
t02 So Good Together
t03 Rainbow Ride
t04 talk
t05 Sugar, Sugar
t06 Happen Again(new song)
t07 How'd We Ever Get This Way?
t08 It's Your Life
t09 Be My Baby (Phil Spector et al)
t10 Rock Me Gently

t11 Baby I Love You (soundcheck)

I guess the obvious thing is that Sinead's going to get to sing License to Kill with Dylan and Knopfler at the O2.

What a great set of songs from a Canadian artist who made a splash south of the border, not needing the boost that comes from our CanCon regulations.
With the exception of the two Phil Spector tunes all the songs above were penned by Andy Kim during a prolific spurt in the mid-60's to mid-70's, the heyday of AM Hit Radio.

He's in great voice, good spirits, treating the songs as gifts for him, as well as us.

Tommy James and the Shondells
CNE Bandstand

t01 Draggin' the Line
t02 Crystal Blue Persuasion
t03 Say I Am (What I Am)
t04 Gettin' Together
t05 Ball of Fire
t06 Tighter, Tighter
t07 Crimson and Clover
t08 Hanky Panky
t09 I Think We're Alone Now
t10 Do Something To Me
t11 Mony Mony
t12 encore break
t13 Sweet Cherry Wine
t14 Mirage/Mony Mony reprise

What can you say about that set list? Well, one thing. I wasn't expecting a 15 minute version of Mony Mony. Tommy James uses this set ending song to introduce the band and to walk into the audience, shake hands, sign autographs...you know, all that post-show stuff. The show was about 60 minutes long. That's 12 other songs in the remaining 45 minutes...much more typical of '60's pop. Songs 7-9 were an absolute slice of nostalgic heaven.