Rock & Roll Repast: Dance Crazes

Posted: December 7th, 2023 | Filed under: Music, Rock & Roll Rewind, Ruminations | No Comments »

I’m a rock & roll lifer. I got stories. Lots of stories. Here’s another.

When it comes to 50s and 60s dance crazes — a cultural phenomenon long ago far away — I have a singular personal if somewhat fuzzy memory.

At an Atherton High School sock hop — that’s what we used to call dance parties, kids — Jenni Lehman and I were doing the Twist.

Russell Garth, an old school principal if ever there was one, came up to us, wagging his finger, ordering us to cease and desist immediately. Actually, given my memory lapses, it might have been his right hand man, Mr. Tague, JMA’s Guidance Counselor, who neither guided nor counseled.

“We don’t dance like that at our school.”

So much for our act of “rebellion.” Read the rest of this entry »

Rock & Roll RePast: Lyrics of Leonard Cohen

Posted: November 16th, 2023 | Filed under: Culture, Music, Rock & Roll Rewind | No Comments »

I am a lifelong rock & roller. I’ve got stories. Lots of stories. Here’s another.

It’s a game college hoops fans play while sitting around musing about their favorite sport.

If you need one play to be drawn up in a huddle to win a big game, what coach would you choose to do it?

Which rather specious analogy brings me to the subject or rock & roll lyrics.

Who is the best? Who is in the conversation?

Dylan (No first name necessary). Duh.

Joni (No last name necessary).

Paul Simon. Lucinda. John Prine.

Chuck Berry. (Surprise entry I know, but go listen to his wordcraft, brilliantly tapping into teen zeitgeist.)

Rock the coin into the slot/ Gotta hear somethin’ that’s really hot

There are others, of course.

Most of all, the enigmatic fellow who is the subject today.

Leonard Cohen. Whose universal fame came later in life. When his persona and craggy voice had softened.

His was a life of contradictions. Trysts. Chelsea Hotel. Rebecca DeMornay. Joni Mitchell. The spiritual. Jewish. Buddhist. A half decade of seclusion in a Zen monastery.

Late in life, he needed to tour incessantly to make up for the money a manager pilfered.

Cohen’s stature had been magnified by the popularity of his most famous tune, “Hallelujah.”

Which attention ironically only manifested itself, after John Cale crafted a stirring version on the tribute album “I’m Your Fan.” Read the rest of this entry »

It’s Not Rock & Roll, But I Like It

Posted: October 29th, 2023 | Filed under: Culture, Music, Rock & Roll Rewind | No Comments »

I’m a rock & roll lifer. I got stories, lots of stories. Here’s another.

And now for something completely different,

How a love for gut bucket rock & roll, the back beat, but a willingness to move beyond, can lead down rabbit holes resonant and satisfying.

My fascination started with the Founding Fathers. The architect Little Richard. The Killer Jerry Lee Lewis. The Fat Man Fats Domino. Johnny B. Goode. And the most primal Bo Diddley.

Top 40 Radio — rock, rock, rock & roll radio — was actually more inclusive than we sensed in those early days of the 50s and early 60s. A typical list of weekly hits would include not only US Bonds “Quarter To Three” but Lawrence Welk’s “Yellow Bird.”

Not only crooner Al Martino’s “Here In My Heart” but also country keyboard legend Floyd Cramer’s “San Antonio Rose.” Not only Slim Harpo’s “Rainin’ In My Heart” but the Chordettes “Never on Sunday.”

Then led by Dylan and the Beatles, after suffering through an era of Fabian, the genre expanded beyond all boundaries, becoming Rock. The classical underpinnings of Emerson, Lake & Palmer. Electric Light Orchestra, and the truly operatic Queen.

Ian Anderson’s flute. John Luc Ponty’’s violin. The madrigal-ish stylings of Fotheringay. Ravi Shankar. Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

And so I moved beyond Chuck Berry. Read the rest of this entry »

King Crimson, Alexis Korner (+ Humble Pie): R & R Repast

Posted: October 16th, 2023 | Filed under: Music, Rock & Roll Rewind, Ruminations | No Comments »

I’m a rock & roll lifer. I got stories. Lots of stories. Here’s another. 

Starting in ’70, the year I finished law school, somehow passed the bar, and got a real adult job, ventured into psychedelics, I also attended my first rock festival.

Where I heard the whole panoply of music being made in rock’s most experimental era. Bands I didn’t know that intrigued me.

So, having the means, I started going to every concert in town whether I knew the music of the groups on the bill or not. Most of the time I heard something that resonated.

If not, there was always the scene.

King Crimson topped the bill at one of those at the Convention Center in the early 70s.*

At least that’s how I initially remembered the show and submitted this remembrance. Until my knowing and alert editor at the FPL — thank you, Mel Fisher — wondered if it wasn’t the show where the headliner was actually Humble Pie?  She sent me a photo of the concert poster. Read the rest of this entry »

Rock & Roll Repast: My First Song

Posted: September 27th, 2023 | Filed under: Music, Rock & Roll Rewind | 2 Comments »

I’m a rock & roll lifer. I got stories, lots of stories. Here’s another.

I’ve always been fascinated with how passions germinate, evolve. Still have no clue.

I’ve got a couple, and despite all the contemplation do not understand where the depth of the obsessions came from. Though I’m grateful for them.

I do however know exactly when they started.

For U of L basketball, the date is December 8, 1952, at age 7 when my parents took me to an 89-85 Cardinal win at the Jefferson County Armory.

As for my rock & roll affliction, the moment came early summer of ’57 in Bernie and Bobby Rosenthal’s den.

I was 12 years old, and anxious to start junior high school in the fall. They were a few years older than me. Our mothers were best friends, so I spent a bunch of time at their house.

Though my memory is dim, I don’t recall being too conscious of the music scene then. WAKY 790, Louisville’s first real rock & roll station didn’t debut until the following year.

Bernie was a big music fan. Loved R&B. (I lost touch with him through the years, but ran into him sometime in 70s at an Albert King show at the Water Tower. Figures.)

He’d just received one of those seven record specials from Randy’s Record Shop in Gallatin, Tennessee. The mail order store had become nationally known by advertising on clear channel WLAC out of nearby Nashville.

The records were 78 rpm. 45s were just becoming the new standard, given their smaller size and greater fidelity. The Rosenthals, like my parents, only had a system that played 78s,

( A year or two later, I bought my first 45 player for $19.95, with earned money, after lusting for it for weeks as it sat in Ben Snyder’s Department store window.)

Bernie started playing his new wax. Read the rest of this entry »

Allman Brothers Band at Atlanta Pop ’70

Posted: September 13th, 2023 | Filed under: Culture, Music, Rock & Roll Rewind, Ruminations | 2 Comments »

Merrily, Don, the Mailman and I arrived in Byron, Ga. on the 2d of July in 1970.

The Atlanta Pop Festival would start the next day.

Little did I know it would change my life.

Arriving ahead of time allowed us to avoid the heavy traffic which backed up the interstate for miles. We set up camp on the grounds by a grove of trees, just a short walk to the festival stage area.

That Thursday night I meandered over to a small stage back in the woods across the road. I listened to a couple of bands, the name of only one of which I recall.

Chakra. How very 70s.

The other remembrance of that evening — the weekend was generally a blur for reasons that needn’t be explained — was a guy at the mic kept saying, “Stick around, Sky Dog is gonna come and jam.”

I had no idea Sky Dog was Duane Allman. I’d never heard him play — that I was aware of at the time — or even of him.

Then, oh my, did I. Read the rest of this entry »

Rock & Roll Repast: My First Show

Posted: August 29th, 2023 | Filed under: Music, Rock & Roll Rewind | 2 Comments »

I’m a rock & roll lifer. I’ve got stories, lots of stories. Here’s another.

In a sec, I’ll explain how I know for a fact the exact date and year of the first show I ever attended was the “Biggest Show of Stars” on July 29, 1961.

At Fairgrounds Coliseum, which has always been Freedom Hall to us locals.

The lineup was “headlined” by Dee Clark, whose hit, his only Top 10 tune at #2 on the charts, was “Raindrops.”

The lineup included Jimmy Reed, The Pips (before they were Gladys Knight and, singing among other songs their current hit “Every Beat of My Heart”), Phil Upchurch Combo (“You Can’t Sit Down”), Ben E. King (“Stand By Me”), Chuck Jackson (“I Don’t Wanna Cry”), The Miracles (before they were Smokey Robinson and) plus Shep and The Limelites (“Daddy’s Home”).

Such were the lineups of shows that came through in the early days of rock & roll. A headliner, usually someone with more gravity than Dee Clark to be honest, like Fats Domino or Jackie Wilson, then a bunch of new, up and coming acts. Read the rest of this entry »

Rock & Roll Repast: My Most Fun Concert Ever

Posted: August 11th, 2023 | Filed under: Music, Rock & Roll Rewind | 3 Comments »

I’m a rock & roll lifer. I got stories, lots of stories. Here’s one.

There are many reasons why some concerts are more memorable than others.

Of course, there’s the music, which can be special beyond expectations. Or, an unknown opener that blows you away.

But, it could be something peripheral. Somebody you hooked up with that night. Or broke up with. An accident on the way home after the show. Something else going on that you are bummed you missed, after you find out about it the next morning. A drunk throwing up on you during your favorite tune.

I remember just a few aspects of a show by The Youngbloods at Louisville Gardens around ’71 or so.

Yet I’ve always called it my most fun concert ever. Read the rest of this entry »

Rock n Roll Repast: TTB in Indy

Posted: July 20th, 2023 | Filed under: Music, Rock & Roll Rewind | 3 Comments »

I’m a rock n roll lifer. I got stories, lots of stories. And opinionations. Here’s the latest.

This one’s a short trip with Mr. Peabody in the Wayback Machine.

Back to last Saturday night in Indy where I heard the Tedeschi Trucks Band.

While walking out of that two and a half hour dream of a show in the great outdoor pavilion downtown in White River State Park, I thought “that’’s the best live performance of music I’ve ever attended.”

Which feeling, as many incredible concerts I’ve been blessed to experience through the decades, I can’t recall saying. Favorite? Yes. Top Ten? Yes. But never singular best. TTB was great just a few months ago at JazzFest, but nothing like this.

Acknowledging my propensity for hyperbole and my belief TTB is the best performing rock band extant — my favorite musical ensemble — I’ve attempted in the days since to objectively assess my subjective opinion. As much as that’s possible.

So, before getting to the show’s highlights, allow me to share the critical criteria used to vet my judgement.

Are the band members top shelf musicians, and do they fit together seamlessly? Check. Check.

Were they on top of their game, taking their repertoire to fresh, uncharted levels? Check.

Were the improvisations inspired and devoid of indulgence? Check.

Were there surprises? Check.

Were the band and the crowd locked in, feeding off each other’s energy? Check. Check. Read the rest of this entry »

Lucinda @ Headliners: Rock n Roll Rewind

Posted: July 13th, 2023 | Filed under: Music, Rock & Roll Rewind | No Comments »

I’m a rock n roll lifer. I got stories. Lots of stories. Here’s another.

At her most brilliant, Lucinda Williams fashions truly evocative imagery from the most simple of lyrics.

None more concise than she sang with her most forlorn voice in the first song on her album “Essence.”

Lonely girls/ Lonely girls/ Lonely girls/
Heavy blankets/ Heavy blankets/ Heavy blankets/
Cover lonely girls

Was it a break up? A lamented one night stand? The passing of someone close?

It’s of no matter. We get what she is writing about, and it resonates because we’ve all been there.

She crafts basic desire “I just want to see you so bad,” an ode to the sweet ache of longing. Her songs are full with marvelous turns of phrase and pinpoint observations, “I see you there at the piano/ Your back a slow curve/ Playing Ray Charles and Fats Domino/ While I sang all the words.”

Then there’s that indelible orgasmic moan in the opening verse of “Right In Time.”

Lucinda’s been at it for a half century. Now, post-stroke, 70 years on, she’s getting more praise than ever upon the publication of her autobiography, “Don’t Tell Anybody the Secrets I Told You,” and her rightfully acclaimed new album, “Stories From A Rock N Roll Heart.”

She’s played Louisville any number of times through the decades. Read the rest of this entry »

Beatles Live Chicago ’66: Rock & Roll Repast

Posted: June 25th, 2023 | Filed under: Music, Rock & Roll Rewind | 2 Comments »

I’m a rock & roll lifer. I’ve got stories, lots of stories. Here’s another.

Seeing the Beatles live in concert is in boldface on my resumé.

Which is frankly the best way to express the experience.

It’s more a gotcha of oneupsmanship when playing rock & roll smackdown than it was any sort of extraordinary musical experience.

Not quite like hearing Hendrix play the National Anthem live at midnight on the Fourth of July ’70 with fireworks at Atlanta Pop. Or hearing Van Morrison at the Hollywood Bowl sing the entirety of “Astral Weeks” in concert for the first time ever on its 40th anniversary.

Those are gotcha moments, but for the music and history.

My pal Moop and I were at the opening show of the group’s last tour on August 12, 1966 at Chicago’s International Amphitheater.

How without tickets we came to be sitting in a box on the stage is a quick story. One of the show’s MCs was his cousin DJ Ron Britain at WCFL AM, the sponsoring Top 40 station. His wife Peach met us at the stage door, and walked us in. Simple as that. Easy peasy.

The audience was mostly teen girls. Beatlemania.

The security was a somewhat over done it would seem. My memory is that there was an usher in the aisles at the end of every row, and every couple feet in front of the stage.

There were several opening acts. All of whom were on the bill at every stop of the 14 city tour. Read the rest of this entry »

Janis @ Freedom Hall 1970: Rock & Roll Repast

Posted: June 14th, 2023 | Filed under: Music, Rock & Roll Rewind | No Comments »

c d kaplan is a rock & roll lifer. He’s got stories, lots of stories. Here’s another one.

Of course there was Janis.

A member of the First Name Only club, Joplin is frankly superfluous.

She’s also firmly entrenched in another grouping of Classic Rock icons. Arguably leader of that pack.

Those who bared their entire being on stage. What she sang was her entire soul laid bare.

I’ve seen a few others similar. Rickie Lee Jones played the Palace back before she cleaned up her act. About 2/3ds of the way through her set, she was so in her cups she sat forlornly on a stool, decrying her woes as if to a barkeep over her beer in the corner tavern.

Greg Allman, whose father was killed by a hitchhiker and who lost his brother in a motorcycle accident, never moved on from that incredible mourning that rose from within. The first lyrics he sang on the debut Allman Brothers album were “I have not come to testify/ Yeah/ About our bad bad misfortune.” Then proceeded to share that very hurt until the end.

And Janis, oh dear Janis, never ever held back. Read the rest of this entry »