Round XXIV
- My Continuing Adventures As A San Francisco Rock Journalist

This month:

Paul Rodgers at Shoreline Amphitheater

Jenna Mammina at the Fox Theater

Unsung Heroes and Zeros

August 2003 - After two issues of “Best of the past five years”, how could I possibly give you the 411 on everything I’ve been up to? Tres’ impossible! So I’ll just pick ‘n choose the cream o’ da crop from here and there. Go see Jay and Tracey at DiPietro Todd Salon at the Fillmore and Post Street locations, respectively (415-397-0177). They are my new fave styling superstars! And check out Integrative Chiropractic – they will heal your mind, body and spirit (510-444-1777). Ciao’, baby!

Jenna Mammina at The Fox Theater, Redwood City, June 26

On a warm late June evening, I caught the eclectic chanteuse’s opening set for dinosaur ‘70s crooner Dan Fogelberg. Although the sparse crowd was obviously a bunch of diehard old Fogelberg-eys, Jenna Mammina and her tasty partner in crime, guitarist Andre Bush, pulled them in, one breathily beautiful note at a time. With her expressive hands and engaging smile, she delivered songs from her new album with Bush, The Art of The Duo as well as her previous two CDs. Particularly beautiful was a new original song, “A Moment’s Magic”, co-written by Bush and J. Bendich. Her now classic and sexy cover of Elvis Costello’s “Watching the Detectives”, where she goes into a scat about all her favorite TV sleuths, brought a few audience members to their feet. I lasted exactly three songs into Fogleberg’s set. It was so stuck in the ‘70s, I could feel my hair feathering back and my eyeliner clumping…

Paul Rodgers Band (w/ Greg Kihn and Boston) at Shoreline Amphitheater, Mountain View, July 31

It was the return of “The Voice” – sans his band Bad Company, on an uncommonly sultry late July evening. Unfortunately (I think), I was walking the 9,000 miles from the parking lot just as Greg Kihn was jamming out on his hit “The Breakup Song” (Remember that “na na na na na nah” part?)
It was your usual throwback to the ‘70s (tacky dated mullet and perm rock crowd), although I must say it was less scary looking than the Frampton & Journey howl I attended back in 2001. The theater was about 3/4 full when Rodgers and his solo band, including Howard Leese, original guitarist for the band Heart (who has not changed at all since the ‘70s either) took the stage. Twirling and throwing around the mic stand like it was a baton, Rodgers led his own rock parade, opening with “Rock Steady” like it was the national anthem and the crowd went nuts. I don’t know how this guy does it, but Rodgers, who is somewhere in his fifties, looks better, has more energy and is in better form vocally than he has ever been! And this is in spite of a broken collarbone (!!), the result of a bicycle accident from earlier this year! Rodgers alternated between Bad Company hits like “Feel Like Makin’ Love”, where he let the audience “exercise their vocal rights”, and songs from The Firm along with his solo albums. The band backed him up nicely, but it was Rodger’s show all the way.

Boston sounded, and looked - well, exactly like Boston always did, which if you were a fan, was great! I honestly wasn’t paying much attention, but in between our backstage activities, I did catch part of the set. I was impressed to see they had added this young, blonde, total babe female bass player who was nailing all the high vocal parts. Good move, dinosaur rock men. Bring on the babes!

Unsung Heroes ‘N Zeros

Keep your ears and eyes open for the next Miggs record. Don Miggs and his merry band of alt/pop rockers are gonna be the next big thing outta the San Francisco Bay Area – as big as Counting Crows or Train. Mark my words…

Till The End Of Time – Larry Ching
Forbidden City Records

Known as “The Chinese Frank Sinatra” in the ‘40s and ‘50s at Chinatown’s Forbidden City nightclub, Ching would have died in relative obscurity, if not for ex-Rolling Stone senior editor Ben Fong-Torres. BFT produced 82 year old Ching’s first and only CD in February of this year, with the help of Dr. John Barsotti from SF State. Ching performed at his CD release party on June 28, where Mayor Willie Brown declared it “Larry Ching Day” in San Francisco. One week later, on July 5, Ching headed for the big nightclub in the sky. If you still love the “old songs”, like “Embraceable You”, “It Had To Be You” and “All Of Me” (like so many contemporary artists do), it would be a crime not to add Ching’s sweet tenor voice to your collection. The last few cuts are re-mastered from one original recording from the ‘40s, and they are breathtaking. Thanks to BFT, Larry’s legacy lives on…

Echo – Echo
New Line Records

Back in the early ‘90s I used to see Joy Askew perform in New York clubs like the Bitter End, and when I caught her trio at Bruno’s recently, she was absolutely mesmerizing. Covering standards such as the opening track, “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” and her own fine compositions like “Surrender”, Echo mixes layers of computerized textures with haunting Annie Lennox-like vocals, horns, guitars and all kinds of innovative stuff. It’s on the cutting edge – and yet falls right into that genre that is being played on all those car commercials. Which translates into $$$. Age ain’t nothin’ but a number…

Jenna Mammina & Andre Bush – The Art Of The Duo
Mamma Grace Records

Standards are all the rage, and have been since they were hits back in the day. This stuff never goes out of style. Nobody, I mean, nobody exemplifies that better than Ms. Mammina, with some stellar backing by her buddy Mr. Bush. The aforementioned original tune “A Moment’s Magic” is exactly that, and covers of The Beatles “Here Comes the Sun” and classics like Billie Holiday’s “Them There Eyes” can soothe the most savage of souls. You’ll be “Jonesing for Jenna” after one hit.


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