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Posts Tagged ‘San Francisco’

Gold (Jefferson Starship album)

Gold (Jefferson Starship album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It helps to be somewhat hard of hearing when you go to a Jefferson Starship concert.  If you’re not, don’t worry, you will be for the next one.  I really can’t remember the last time I was at a real rock concert…ok yes I can. Last one was about 2004 when I saw Courtney Love in San Francisco and that only counts as half an attendance because I was seated in the reserved  balcony seats (relegated to those special friends of a band member) and so the din was more or less concentrated on the mosh pit people.  The time before that was about 1990 when I went to a Neil Young concert (don’t ask).

Last night we had tickets to see Tommy James and the Shondels and the warm-up act was supposed to be The Young Rascals.  Ok fitting enough for an aging bunch of baby boomers.  Well about a week ago, an email went out explaining how the Rascals road trip was taking a detour and Jefferson Starship would be replacing them AND if we wanted out money back we could have it.  I really didn’t want to exchange the tickets or return them; The pickin’s were slim enough this year for us.

So far we’ve been to The Raise the  Roof benefit concert and The Lettermen, who were just great.  Saturday night and the auditorium was pretty full.  Out comes a short stocky gray-haired man, a lanky blonde wearing black and white spandex tights similar to a court jester and then a youngish bald-headed guitarist and another aging-hippie type gray-haired guitarist with a bandana around his head.  So that’s what a rock group of the early 70’s looks like 40 plus years later!

Jefferson Starship was/is a rock band formed in the early 1970’s by several members of the psychedelic rock band, Jefferson Airplane.  I think some of them were still on an acid trip.  And for sure the guy sitting behind was definitely pharmaceutically happy.  It was a most unpleasant experience!  The music was loud and that’s an understatement.  The guy behind us was just as loud trying to carry on a conversation with a person two seats away.  I didn’t understand ONE WORD they sang.

And added to my general dismay over the music, I wasn’t feeling well either.  The night before, I felt a raspy throat and told Peter I was sure I was coming down with something.  By Saturday night, I was sucking on hard candy and Hall’s trying not to cough during the concert.  Not that anyone could have possibly heard my coughing anyway.  Well I did get sick and am still in the throes of a sinus infection post bronchitis.  Why do I mention this?  This blog was started July 23rd and here we are at August 2nd and I haven’t had the energy to finish this post or write another.  I hope to be on the mend soon and back to writing blog posts on a more regular basis.

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This past weekend the weather was about as glorious as you can get.  Not too hot, not too cool, not too windy – JUST PERFECT!  Everybody was out and about on Saturday including Pbenjay’s staff photographer, Murray Head.  I, on the other hand, was still switching my winter clothes with my summer cl0thes and ironing and ironing and ironing.  Luckily for you, dear readers,  while I was ironing, Murray was moving around the City and snapping some great scenes.

  THIS IS NEW YORK!

Union Square, chess game, gambit

Check!

On any given Saturday, you can always find lots of chess players.  Some come to learn, some to watch and some to win!

New York City, Manhattan, Chrysler Building

Looking Uptown

Union Square Greenmarket, radishes,
purple flowers, green heart, spring in New York City

A Tiny Green Heart

Union Square Greenmarket, flowers for sale

Flowers for Sale

butterfly, spring in New York City

Long Live the King

All photos courtesy of Murray Head

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Tony Bennett performing at a Library of Congre...

Tony Bennett

I expected to be thrilled, impressed and entertained last Saturday night;  We went to see and hear Tony Bennett in concert in the Great Auditorium.  I didn’t expect to cry…

The show opened with Tony’s daughter, Antonia, who sang several songs to warm up the audience.  This audience did not need warming up.  The auditorium holds about 6,000 people and my guess would be that there weren’t more than 600 empty seats and that includes a wraparound balcony!  Antonia is sweet looking and sounding, but certainly lacks real depth to her voice.  She doesn’t have the timbre and resonance of a singer with a strong voice.  Unable to sustain or project, Antonia manipulated  the microphone by pulling it away from her mouth as she trailed the last notes of a line.  Oh well, this is not about her anyway.

Tony walked on stage to a very long and loud standing ovation.  He was clearly thrilled to receive it and to be on stage.  He appears to love performing;  He plays to the crowd, he sings and he relates bits of his career and who he sang and worked with along the way to stardom.  He ends almost every song with either his arms raised up as if in “ta dah” and “there you have it” or salutes the audience with two thumbs up.  I don’t remember (that far back)  if these gestures were always part of his performance or not, but then again, who cares? He has the pipes and a magical velvety-all-in-the-right-places voice.

He sang song after song, sometimes really belting it out and you wonder how does a man his age still maintain that voice and the ability to sustain such high notes for so long.  Yes, he was quite surprising in that regard.  We were regaled with the likes of Smile, I Wanna Be AroundFly Me to the Moon, and The Best is Yet to ComeAnd then he charmed us all with what he referred to as his hits;  The Way You Look Tonight, Because of You, The Very Thought of You, As Time Goes By, Once Upon A Time, Because of You and of course,  I Left My Heart in San FranciscoJust AMAZING! Really freaking amazing!  The entire audience leapt to their feet at the end of I Left My Heart in San Fransisco and it was truly one of the longest standing ovations I ever witnessed.   Of course he was perfect for the Auditorium crowd, 95% of whom listened to his soft crooning voice during their teen-age and twenty-something years.  Oh and how those memories flood back to you!

A summer night on the Jersey Shore, in a remarkable venue – an enormous wooden structure that is well over a hundred years old, and Tony Bennett singing love songs to you.  I have never ever sat in the front row of a concert;  Last Saturday night, Peter and I had front row seats  and I sat there mesmerized by his performance.  Was it that he sang so well?  No, of course not; He was a great singer, now he is a legend who still can hit some of those high notes,  and sing a love song to every woman in the room at the same time.

I’m not sure exactly what song put me over the edge;  The first tear rolled down my cheek somewhere between The Very Thought of You and Once Upon A Time. Yes, the words are beautiful.  Yes,  Tony crooned the words beautifully but I don’t think those two things brought on the tears.  Well at least not completely.  When you are my age and you know you are closer to the end of your life than the beginning and you see someone 20 years older than yourself doing something he not only does so well but also loves doing it, you, well at least I, was really emotionally moved. In a way, this consumate artist who makes every song his own and has been doing so for 60 years of his life and mine, creates a level of comfort that makes him seem like an old friend.  The tears are the good-byes to my youth, the days when I heard Tony Bennett sing so many of these songs.  Listening to songs that you probably made out to, danced to and day-dreamed over what seems like another lifetime ago, it dawns on you that it was a lifetime ago!

Tony sang his last song, blew kisses to the audience and left the stage.  The crowd would have none of it. They stood up, clapped and clapped and clapped some more.  The musicians stayed on stage so I thought maybe he would come back and he did!  He sang one more and still they wanted more.  He tried to leave the stage and the audience applauded longer and louder than before.   So he brought Antonia out and they sang a duet and then he was gone.

There was one other special moment during the concert and this had more to do with where we were than just with this great singer.  Tony Bennett, like every other single performer I’ve seen at the Auditorium said that this building, this great venue is a magnificent structure in which to sing.  To prove that they don’t build them like this anymore, he asked that the entire sound system be turned off and then he sang;  his words washing over  the audience much like the shore a couple of hundred feet away!  Clearly he was heard at the back of the room and top of the balcony, proving the mastery of his own talent and that of the craftsmen who built the Great Auditorium 140years ago.

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