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 | 1 Comment »

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 »


“Coming Home: A Stranger In The Smokies”: Review

Posted: June 6th, 2023 | Filed under: Book Review, Ruminations | 2 Comments »

Before advising why you should consider reading John Wade Christensen’s “Coming Home: A Stranger In The Smokies,” allow me please to answer the question being asked by the elephant now staring over my shoulder.

Were it not so worthy of your time, would I be reviewing this book for public consumption?

Transparent answer: Yes.

John Christensen — the Wade he included to distinguish himself from another author — is my good friend.

During the halcyon daze of the 70s, when he wrote features, music reviews and sports for the Louisville Times, he was my next door neighbor.

He was my runnin’ podner.

There are tales. Some of which could be shared if there was time. Many of which shall remain sealed in a lock box hidden beneath the floor boards.

(I am referenced twice in the book, once in the acknowledgments, once in the text.)

For decades, he desired to write a book about his spiritual quest and evolution.

So he has. Read the rest of this entry »


R&R Repast: WLAC & James Brown

Posted: May 19th, 2023 | Filed under: Culture, Music, Rock & Roll Rewind, Ruminations | 1 Comment »

This is a remembrance of my first college concert.

James Brown Revue.

Fall ’63. In Doremus Gymnasium at Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Virginia.

For the full story we need to go back to where the story starts. The winter prior, my senior year in high school. When my pals and I discovered WLAC 1510 AM Nashville. (We were far from the only ones. Such as the Brothers Allman — Greg and Duane — have spoken of the station’s influence. So too, Robbie Robertson up north of the borderline.)

It is a 50,000 watt clear channel station, which means its signal carries long and far after dark. Which is when the station’s otherwise pro forma programming shifted into soul and blues. That which had not so many years prior been dubbed “race music.”

I fell in love, we fell in love, regaling each other in the mornings with tales of the evening before’s programming.

The DJ that we most loved was a fellow who on the air went as Big Hugh Baby. Hugh Jarrett had once been a member of the Jordanaires, backing Elvis often.

For us, he was the raucous guy whose patter was full of sexual double entendres, aimed it seemed directly at us and frat boys across the land. Though his primary sponsors were Royal Crown Pomade, baby chicks and Randy’s Record Shop in nearby Gallatin.

Guys would call in, advising Big Hugh on the air, they were in the midst of reverie, and needed some help. (As I did once during spring break in Florida.) Read the rest of this entry »


JazzFest ’23, Wknd 1: Friends, Fine Tuneage and a Turducken Po Boy

Posted: May 7th, 2023 | Filed under: Food, JazzFest, Music, New Orleans | 8 Comments »

So after entering on Day 2 of my 34th JazzFest, I was on my way to grab a Crawfish Strudel before heading to the Gentilly Stage.

Because nothing bellows, “Good Mornin’ JazzFest!” like a Frozen Latte and that unique Crescent City delight.

I got a text from an old JF pal Mitchell, whom the Film Babe and I met with his bride Suzette a dozen or so years ago as we were all on way the Day Before for some in store performances at Louisiana Music Factory. They’re yearly regulars now, this year herding a group of 13.

We’ve been able to hook up just about every year, to catch up, etc, etc. Many of his gang were where I was headed, so we hung for awhile during Johnny Sketch.

It was just one of the blessings of this year’s Fest, where sharing with friends enhances the experience,

Indulge me for a second while I explain why that’s important for me.

My first Fest was a half century ago. I’d been introduced by an old college chum Marc, and hung with him. For years I’d go down alone, come home and in a a display of ego-driven musical oneupsmanship would lord it over my friends. Like, “I’ve got this goin’ on, and you don’t.”

Then one year in the early 90s, I was sitting in a smaller tent, listening to a sublime solo set by Aaron Neville, distraught at myself because I Didn’t Have Anybody To Share The Moment With. Since then, on purpose, I’ve been able to share the experience with pals from home, pals I’ve made through the years from New Orleans and elsewhere. Read the rest of this entry »


My Favorite JazzFest Moment: Aaron Neville 1988

Posted: April 22nd, 2023 | Filed under: JazzFest, Rock & Roll Rewind | No Comments »

Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise, next week I’ll be at my 34th.

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

I write about JazzFest. I talk about JazzFest. My walls are adorned with JazzFest posters and photos I took there decades ago with one of those cameras where you had to take the film to Walgreens to get developed.

JazzFest is the gravitational pull of my year, has been the epicenter of my musical fixation for decades.

Such has been my incessant preaching about it, more years than not I’ll get a call from someone going to their first who wants a primer on what to expect.

There are a couple of questions I get asked. On a yearly basis, who were my favorite acts?

My answer to that one follows a pattern. I’ll advise that I’m more interested in local New Orleans performers, Third World groups and acts I’ve never heard before than mainstream headliners such as 1/2 of The Who, whom I heard in ’70 when they were whole.

Which is to not disregard that this year, I’m looking forward to Tedeschi Trucks Band, my faves, as well as Robert Plant & Allison Krauss.

The other question, and my purpose here, what is my favorite JazzFest moment ever?

There have been so so many great ones.

Frankly, just walking in on the first morning each year is a thrill.

There’s the moment Richard Thompson defined it all from the Gentilly Stage while tuning his guitar between songs.

“Where else would you possibly want to be right now, except in New Orleans at JazzFest?

Where else indeed.

As for music. Professor Longhair at my first Fest. Mighty Chariots of Fire once in the Gospel Tent on an Easter Sunday, when it felt like we were levitating. Legendary Ernie K-Doe at a Dew Drop Inn Revisited night show. Allen Toussaint too many times to count.

Ali Farke Touré and Ry Cooder on the Congo Square stage. New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars about a decade ago at the Lagniappe Stage. Randy Newman singing “Louisiana 1927” when it was pouring, the raindrops as big as softballs.

Mahalathini & the Mahatolla Queens in ’90 when I danced so much, I sweated through all my clothes including socks and shoes. Topsy Chapman and Doreen Kechens and Tuba Skinny in the Economy Hall tent.

The Fats Domino/ Dave Bartholomew reunion.

But there is THE moment.

In 1988.

Not sure why I didn’t make it back down until ’81 after my first one in ’76. I do know why I didn’t make it back after that until ’88. I had to clean up my act, move on from some debilitating habits, and become secure with all that before returning.

When I made it back, I was a mad man for the music. Literally. I couldn’t get enough, charging from stage to stage trying to make up for lost time.

Oliver Morgan and Jesse Hill and Leo Nocentelli and the Hackberry Ramblers and Bobby Cure and Los Lobos and the Radiators and Little Feat restart (with Bonnie Raitt playing Lowell George slide parts) and Sugar Minott and Buckwheat Zydeco and Hank Ballard & the Midnighters and Salif Keita and Al Green and Henry Butler.

As they did for decades, the Neville Brothers closed Fest on the biggest stage. (Dr. John was at the other end of the track. Choices have to be made.)

Cyril, Charles, Art and Aaron were then at the top of their game. They were everything wonderful about New Orleans music and more.

Midway through the set, everybody left the stage except Art on piano and Aaron at the mic.

He sang “Arianne.” Honest, I just teared writing that sentence remembering the joy.

It was so beauteous and transcendent, The trills, swoops and swirls of his voice carrying me to a blissful space I’d never been.

Such that I had enough even though their set was far from over. For the first time in my life I was totally sated. At the end of the tune, I turned, walked to the car and awaited the others.

I vowed I’d never miss another JazzFest. But for ’91 when I was recovering from a car accident, I have not.

— c d kaplan


Rock & Roll Repast: Eric Burdon at Portland Neighborhood Fest

Posted: April 9th, 2023 | Filed under: Rock & Roll Rewind | 2 Comments »

I’m a lifelong rock & roller. I got stories. Lots of ‘em. Here’s another.

It was the fascination of the moment.

There on a lovely summer’s evening, in one of the town’s nether neighborhoods, at a street fair on a makeshift stage in the middle of the street in front of a few hundred locals was a legit rock & roll Hall of Famer.

It was too sweet.

As for the lore behind Eric Burdon’s appearance (with estimable Brian Auger on organ no less) in June 2000 on Northwestern Parkway during the Portland Neighborhood Festival, well, we’ll get to that in a moment.

There’s a reason it resonated so deeply here.

As an adult, I’ve always fantasized about hosting a big bash. Inviting all my friends from all walks of life going back to my childhood. Send out invites, advising it would be a dance party, but not revealing who would play.

I wanted it to be a gotcha. Taking in the gasps of the assembled when whoever walked on stage.

At different stages through the years, the daydreaming went to, oh, Springsteen, a doo wop spectacular, Fats Domino, Dion, others.

Came close once. When Joanie the Film Babe and I were going to marry in ’06, she bought in to the grandiose idea. We rented a big room. Started to plan the whole boffo wedding reception like no other. Read the rest of this entry »


“Succession” & “Ted Lasso”: Final Seasons Reviewed

Posted: April 7th, 2023 | Filed under: Film Reviews Podcast, TV | No Comments »

The other night, while breaking matzoh with some folks, we eventually got around to chatting about TV series we watch.

And telling each other about ones they had never heard of but “had to watch.”

No matter apparently to one of my pals that he and I have totally different tastes.

Soon enough the discussion got around to a a couple of national faves, both in their final season.

“Succesion.”

“Ted Lasso.”

What do I think of the last go round of the former on HBO and the latter on Apple TV+?

Listen below and find out.

Audio MP3