ACT's production of
"The Beard Of Avon", a new play by Amy Freed (Mick LaSalle's wife!)
BAD COMPANY (again!)
Greetings, loyal and devoted
entertainment junkies ! Hope 2002 has been treating all of you well so far.
This issue marks exactly one year since I unofficially came on board as
Kimberlye "Almost Famous" Gold (since last month was actually the delayed December issue) and I hope you have
been as entertained by my ranting, I mean reporting, as I have in my attempts
to entertain and inform you! I will continue, in my bizarre, I mean, unique
fashion, to bravely carry on, using the SF Herald name to break down whatever
doors I choose to bring you all the news that I see fit to print (Hey, Chris Hitchens, use me
to get pissed off!!) Thanks to all
who showed up for my host/featured performer duties at Nickie's Open Mike Night
(460 Haight St. 415-621-6508)) on January 23. A great time seemed to be had by
all, nobody bugged me too badly whining "When am I going on?", and I couldn't have asked for a more attentive
audience for my featured slot.
I'll be doing it again on Wed. February 27, 9pm - 1:30 am (hosting). "But when are you playing again, Kimberlye??" I deeply feel all of you asking. An absolutely wonderful new place, I am thrilled to report! Actually, it's the grand opening of the new hot restaurant and bar owned by one of the Herald's favorite clients, the utterly delightful and oh-so-charming Francois Alvarez. He has closed Mr. Ralph's Caf˙ and has moved his whole operation across the street to the former Francisco & Molly, now known to one and all as ZEBULON, at 83 Natoma Street (at 2nd St.) 415-975-5705!! Check out our "World's Most Corrupt Restaurant Critics" review in this month's issue. Yours truly will be making her musical debut there on Friday, March 15, from 7pm - 10pm, and if all goes well, this could turn into a once-a-week lovefest! So please come down, drink, eat and show your love!
FYI: This month I had fully intended to include my concert review of the reformed, original members of Concrete Blonde at the Great American Music Hall, January 24, a review of their new CD, "Group Therapy" and my interview with lead singer Johnette Napolitano. But to fully express how life changing I have found this CD to be, (their first in 8 years!) and how utterly cool, profound and ingratiating this talented artist proved to be in our interview, I've opted to save it till next month and give Johnette and the band a proper feature treatment (like I did with Paul Rodgers and Bad Company last year). Meanwhile, to any music lover who is over 25 years old and has been around the block more than once: open your mind, heart and ears, get your ass down to the nearest record store and buy "GROUP THERAPY" - now!!!! Cheaper than a shrink and much more fun, baby!! Plus you'll enjoy my piece so much more... Since I already covered lots 'o ground this month - and have been asked to take up less space - to make more room for advertisers ($) and Harris Rosenbloom's sex life (?), let's get a move on, lil' doggies...
Ghostwriting, pseudonyms, and battles over authorship and copyright infringement have plagued Hollywood and Broadway for decades. Somebody's always stealing somebody else's stuff and trying to put their name on it, being sued for doing it, or if it really sucks, they just slap the name "Alan Smithee" on it and disassociate themselves completely. All in the name of what is hip, cool and green, my friends. For those non-historians among us, this practice supposedly goes back centuries (back to the bible?) to the alleged cover-up of who really wrote the collective works of that ultra-prolific dude, William Shakespeare. Except back then it was un-cool to be a playwright, so the in-crowd of the Elizabethan court needed a front to dish out their guilty literary pleasures. The contention is that at least one ultra hip, dashingly decadent, bi-sexual dude, the Earl of Oxford, Edward DeVere, used an almost illiterate, wanna-be actor Willie S. as a puppet to hide behind, and other respected luminaries such as Francis Bacon and Queen Elizabeth herself may have followed suit! Horror of horrors! The shame, the deceit!
The Bard Himself
This subject is tackled to much laughter and thought provoking effect in Amy Freed's new play, "The Beard Of Avon." Freed (who is married to SF Chronicle film critic and our pal Mick LaSalle), is a critically acclaimed, Pulitzer Prize nominated playwright for "Freedomland" in 1998. She has proven herself somewhat of an "authority" on this subject, a "super sleuth", if you will, whose mission it is to rake over the coals many of the hottest icons known to wield paper and pen (or plume). From Edgar Allan Poe to Sylvia Plath, (Ryan Adam's influences - should we be asking questions, Amy?) she's cleverly knocked 'em all off their historically high literary horses. Interspersing contemporary psycho-babble into Shakespearean dialogue, ("I have a most pernicious deficit of my attention's ordering"), Freed has nailed this subject to the proverbial wall with dead on performances by Matthew Bolston as babe-in-da-woods Will Shakespeare, Rene' Augesen as his in-need-of-attention wife, Anne Hathaway, a delicious turn by Marco Barricelli as "hot-to-trot-no-matter-what-ya-got" DeVere, and exhilarating, perfectly paced staging by director Mark Rucker. A minor distraction: a few of the supporting players in the company slightly resembled "Backstreet Boys", but given the current crossover climate of pop music and acting, maybe they were...
"Bad Company Likes My Company!" Bad Company at Konocti Harbor Inn Resort & Spa, Kelseyville, CA, January 19th, 2002
When the drummer and original
member of one of the most famous and influential rock bands in history goes
out of his way to make sure you can cover their show, what does a fledging
rock journalist do? a) politely decline b) say you'll have your people call
his people c) get the hell in your car and
get the hell up there!!!
The correct answer, my friends would be "C -ya" so I grabbed SF's
hottest new artist Laurie Jacobs (who's previous concert experience included those hard
rockers Barry Manilow and Neil
Diamond), shoved my "Almost
Famous" baseball cap on my head, an overnight bag, and my favorite redhead
in my little red Mazda 323 and took a 3 hour tour up north. Simon Kirke, the mensch
(coolest) of all drummers, (see www.sfherald.com under my columnist link to hear more on this subject) was such
a prince and gentleman, he enlisted Bad Co.'s mgt. to hook us up with a room at the Inn, ladies
and gentlemen! And only to cover the show and hang out! Really! Nobody tried
to hit on us! (well, in the band, anyway, but I'm getting ahead of myself...)
The boys from Bad Company, whose company I didn't really mind.
After a very pleasant, scenic
drive with no mishaps, we arrived around 5pm, took in the glorious Clear Lake
view, and got out to check in.
Many 30/40/50 something baby boomer/ aging rocker dudes and dudettes must
have had the same idea, because there was a long line already waiting in the
lobby. We finally got up to the desk, and lo and behold, we were registered
under Bad Company and
Simon Kirke. We were with the
band, man! And not
as "band-aids"! (you've all seen the movie "Almost Famous", right??) We were "Press", baby! Our room was just
beautiful, and as soon as we got in, Simon phoned to make sure we'd gotten
in all right and said he'd see us after the show.
Mensch again! We got
dolled up and went to get our tickets and passes at Will Call. As we approached,
this big, beer-bellied, bearded, salt 'n pepper-haired biker dude was waiting
for his tickets. He had on a tight black T-shirt that said: "If You Are
What You Eat, You Can Be Me By Morning". He told us today was his 50th
birthday and said to my flame-haired friend, "Red hair and blue eyes
- you're hot!" Then he turned to me and said, "She's hot!" Go, Laurie! We were escorted to our seats on
the side of the stage in the VIP section, where Laurie pulled something out
of her giant bag she'd brought and promptly began stitching a pillow cover !! Desperately wanting to appear "cool", I asked her did she have to do that now, and she replied, "Idle hands are the
devil's playthings." My hot, red haired, blue-eyed date was Martha
Stewart, Betsy Ross, and
Dr. Laura! The tour manager came out to check on us and make
sure we "had everything we needed",
(I could have used a drink,)
like we were special guests from, yep, Rolling Stone, or something!
Ah, to be young and bad again...
The opener was this boring, mediocre, solo singer/songwriter who didn't even play acoustic guitar (he had to have a guitar player) named Christian Turner. (Hey guys, how come no one asked me, a much more interesting choice?? You supposedly love my!@#$% music!) Ah well...
Thankfully, Bad Company hit the stage shortly after and delivered a
powerhouse hour plus set that was
even better than the one I reviewed last June. They were recording a live CD
and DVD which added to the excitement. They have a very solid new bass player, Jaz
Lochrie, from Paul Rodgers' solo band, who replaced member since the 90's, Rick
Wills. The band was tight as a drum,
and speaking of drummers, beat for
beat, you'd be hard pressed to
find a better rock drummer on the planet than Simon Kirke. And not because he
hooked us up! Ask any drummer in any genre of music, and I'll bet
they'll concur. And he sings and
plays guitar, which he did during on a lovely version of "Do Right By Your
Woman" as a duet with Paul. And speaking of singing and Paul Rodgers, I said it all last year, and I'll say it again:
there is a reason why they call this guy "The Voice". Looking relaxed, in a
long sleeved shirt over jeans (what, no painted on silver pants and muscle
shirt?) he sang all the hits like "Feel Like Makin' Love" (which got an
immediate standing ovation) and
added a couple more obscure songs like "Burning Sky" and some scathing blues, with guitarist Dave "Bucket"
Collwell in fine form. We went out in the house to watch and Laurie's Birthday
Biker Boyfriend came up to us and repeated his mantra, "Red hair and blue eyes
- you're hot!" (I'm planning the
Special guest "star" sitting in on two songs: my "buddy" Neal Schon, guitar player from Journey! (see www.sfherald.com under my columnist link for back story on this guy) After the show, we waited for the band to sign autograph, posters, etc. and alas, Paul was spirited away before I could say hello and ask him how he liked my interview w/ him in last July's issue. Bummer! But the rest of the band was so happy to see us and met us in the bar for a drink and a chat, where Laurie kept exclaiming "I've never been a groupie before!" as she resumed her pillow stitching. (Yeah, that sewing thing really gets those rock stars goin'!) Bucket and Simon had never been given copies of the Bad Co. issue (bad management people!) and sat on either side of me, "Howe-ling" with laughter over the Brian Howe stuff. Bucket said to me "I always knew you were one of 'the good ones!'" Priceless! Neal Schon was seated at the table with some young blonde, and I decided to try and be a polite journalist and strike up a conversation with him about our meeting back in '89.
He looked blankly at me, yawned right in my face, and I realized he was so drunk, I might as well have been speaking German - backwards! Shortly after, the assistant tour manager led him away. I asked Bucket what was up, and he told me they'd polished off a bottle of Petron' Tequilla backstage - each!. "But you're fine!" I exclaimed. "I'm a professional!" Bucket beamed. Simon told us he was so pleased we came "I'm always happy to accommodate 'the press'!" and bid us goodnight. Laurie met some guy called "Quinn" (who's first name must have been "The Mighty") who engaged her in deep conversation (he must have needed a button sewn on). I danced to some scary cover band with the new bass player, Jaz, a cheery Scotsman, who must have had some of what Neal and Bucket had. The other lads (and assorted lassies) went to party on in Bucket's room, and Laurie and I soon went back to our own (alone, thank you!).The next morning Simon called to make sure we were safe 'n sound, had a good time and to say goodbye. He should write a hand book for musicians: "How to Behave Like A Proper Rock Legend & Gentleman" (I've got a few folks in mind to hand it to!) I went for a killer morning walk, breathed in the crisp, clean, Clear Lake air and thanked God, Bad Company, and the SF Herald for a 24 hour rock 'n roll fantasy...
Hot off the presses: (Sunday Datebook section of the SF Chronicle!) "Scotland, PA", a 70's "period piece" starring Maura Tierney from "ER" opening February 15, features, FIVE Bad Company songs on the soundtrack ! Slap me five (times) - "Feel Like Makin' Luuv", indeed!!
"Her Something's All It's Cracked Up To Be - (& Then Some!)" : a review of Nikka Costa's CD "Everybody's Got Their Something" and her show at The Usual, San Jose, January 31, 2002
I guess I've been blessed lately. It's just not that often that new artists come along who truly move and inspire me. Like Macy Gray (whose praises I've sung in more than one column), there is something about taking that old school sound and mentality of '70's soul music and mixing it up with what's hip and happenin' right now that just rings my chimes, baby! The industry has labeled it "neo-soul" (i.e., soul music with a hip hop and pop influence that is actually good) and boasts such recent success stories as Nelly Furtado, Alicia Keys and India.Arie, all of whom have been nominated for/won American Music Awards, are up for Grammy awards, and graced the cover of Entertainment Weekly together. Yeah, those chicks are cool - extremely talented, even - but none has lit my fire and moved me down to my bone marrow like the sassy-assed, fire-crack 'n soul baring hoochie mama Nikka Costa.
As you can now well imagine, I was SO looking forward
to seeing Nikka Costa live'n in color. I opted to check out her 1st
Bay Area show at The Usual in San Jose on January
31 because a) my friend Brenda's boyfriend's brother Dave Farling, a super
nice guy, owns it and b) the date she was at the Fillmore, February 2, was
Ground Hog Day: my mom's first
wedding anniversary without my dad, which would have been their 44th
(Headline read: "Muskrat Love Would Keep Them Together"). Unfortunately,
my "good-daughter" duties prevented me from being able to fully
enjoy what was probably a better show. Unbeknownst to me, there were two
opening acts, (in San Jose on
a "school night", not a great combo) Koffy Brown (who we missed,
due to my unfortunate wallet misplacement - sorry, G.M.!) and "Mystic",
a local female hip hop artist who had a "scratcher DJ" on stage
and sang to tracks. She must
have a pretty big following, because many of the mixed age/multi-ethnic crowd
were singing along to one of her songs that kept repeating "the light,
the light, the light" and there was a story about her in last week's
SF Chronicle Datebook. She was
okay, but to be honest, I didn't pay much attention, as my peak was ebbing, much to my dismay...
and her nine-piece kick-ass band finally hit the stage after 11:30 PM. Unfortunately,
the long wait and late hour had
partially kicked mine, but I still gallantly tried to get my groove on. She
looked great, with all that hair, a long sleeve, white "Prince-esque"
shirt and guess- what-kind-of -pants, but not too outrageous, which suits
her (you should see some of what she's not wearing in those CD pictures!).
Her young, very multi-ethnic band (Newsflash! Osama Bin Laden
was sighted - playing drums for Nikka Costa!!) was very reminiscent
of Macy Gray's line up: horns, background singers, scratch/synth/keyboard
dude, bass, guitar, all stellar players. Setting herself apart from the typical
diva, Nikka doubled on electric and acoustic guitar on several of the tunes,
always a welcome level to add. The mix could have been better, but it was
obvious this chick was nailing every vocal note on the several letter- perfect
renditions of songs off her CD, "Everybody's Got Their Something",
throwing that hair all over the place and stalking the stage like a caged
animal. Mid-set, an extended version of the title track, in which she introduced
each member of the band and let them show their stuff, proved to be
very effective, as was a cover of Sly & The Family Stone's "Thank
You For Letting Me Be Myself".
What wasn't quite so entertaining, however, was her extended banter between songs, which tended to lean toward "jive-tacky" (coin that phrase!), even though she seemed to be having a ball doing it. My illustrious publisher refers to this as "sounding like a wigger" - his "term of endearment" for a white person trying too hard to sound black, which drives him nuts .At one point she spoke bitterly about some guy she claimed some of the songs were inspired by and encouraged the audience to chant on the count of three: "FUCK BOB!" More than once. Charming. Hell, I'm just attributing this to youth - hopefully she'll outgrow it. Her music certainly transcends it. One point she made, however, was right on the money. She complained about radio programmers trying to pigeon-hole her into a format, querying, "Are you 'rock', are you 'hip/hop', are you 'R&B', are you 'Neo-Soul', etc., and she exclaimed, What the FUCK is 'NEO-SOUL??'" (see above CD review for my definition). Touche', little Nikka. Now shut up and sing. We stuck around long enough to hear the first encore, the beautiful "Corners Of My Mind." She'll be hanging around in mine for a good, long while...
Unsung Heroes 'N Zeroes: This 'n That from Here 'n There
These African American hotties opened for Macy Gray last month and I was so impressed I asked them to send me a CD and press kit. Turns out they're the ones responsible for that NBC promo you can't get out of your head, which is the opening and title track of this CD. (Trust me, if you watch NBC, you've heard it. And I bet you thought it was a white band.) Last issue I described them as "Living Colour lite meets "N Sync black".) Turns out I was right on the money. (That's why they pay me the "big bucks", baby!) Corey Glover, lead singer for the real Living Colour, co-wrote "Don't Give Up On Me", one of the best songs on this CD (write more songs with him!) - and certainly the one with the most balls. .While the CD as a whole is highly listenable and very catchy, (good Walkman running music!) lyrically a few of the romantic songs are a little on the cliche' side. The overall message throughout, though, is an uplifting positive one, and the production is so sonically pristine, it almost has a contemporary Christian feel. Not that there's anything wrong with that. God can be an effective marketing tool. They may have a tough time finding their niche, however, because they are an African American band who has blurred the lines of rock, pop, and R&B genres - and you know how tunnel-visioned radio programmers are these days (see above review). But they're charismatic, talented dudes who caught my attention - and getting TV exposure can't hurt . It'll be interesting to see where they land next...
David Allen Baker - "Ten For The Road"
This guy is from Texas, via stints in Nashville, NYC, and currently residing in LA, where he has enjoyed a stint filling John Phillips' shoes in the current line-up of the Mamas and Papas, chosen by the man himself before he died.. (Sounds like an "Almost Famous" story to me -actually, David is a part of mine, having sung background for me in NY and LA, and I did the same for him in Nashville.) So maybe I'm a little biased, but make no mistake about it, this guy is a star that somebody should have wished on years ago. He still looks great, he still sings and writes his ass off, and songs like "If I Knew What Lay Ahead", "Mile Marker 38" and the beautiful "Best Made Plans" and "Hurry Sunday" (certainly Valentines to his wife) are hits waiting to be heard. Not every song is a perfect gem (I actually like some of his older pop songs better), but this guy could sing the phone book and I'd buy it. The production is radio-ready, crisp and clear as a bell. If Americana/country-flavored pop stuff is your bag, you need to stick this one in it now!
Ted Ekman - www.tedekman.com
Acoustic based, singer/songwriter who I bet has listened to a lot of Dave Matthews. Kind like "Creed"/"Pearl Jam" lite with a heavy Stevie Nicks-esque vibrato that I found distracting after a few songs. Works for Stevie, doesn't work here. Lose that vibrato, dude - it takes away from some pretty decent material that should be heard.
Paul H. Taylor - www.brokendishrecords.com
Jimmy Buffet/Eagles/ -ish stuff with lyrics that borderline on cutesy some of the time, but the songs are pleasant enough. However, the vocals are mixed a little hot and his pitch is consistently a little sharp - which made me have to turn it off after a couple songs. With "Autotune" (a recording device that instantly corrects the tuning of all voices and instruments) so easily accessible these days, there is just no excuse for this. Spend a few bucks and re-mix it, man!
Okay, ladies, gents, and assorted variations thereof. See ya next month, one way or another, like Blondie...
To read other articles by Mizz Gold, click here!
Kim can be emailed by clicking here!