Posted April 28, 2010
A beautiful message that we all must remember. Enjoy.
Video by souluniversity
Posted April 28, 2010
A beautiful message that we all must remember. Enjoy.
Video by souluniversity
I’m honored and very excited to let you know that I now have three articles published online, one of which is a feature article.
“Chickenfoot Revives Rock ‘n’ Roll” can be found at http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/view/106286
“Chickenfoot: Self-Titled CD Review” can be found at http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/view/106957
and “Chickenfoot Review and Photos” can be found at http://www.fortcollinslife-times.com/DesktopDefault.aspx?tabid=2297
I’m working on sending articles to various magazines online and in print and will keep you posted as to my progress there.
As for my book, “Dance of the Electric Hummingbird,” I continue to send queries to agents. The right one will come along when it’s meant to be. In the meantime, I am revising the text a-gain for probably the seven-hundredth time. It’s a labor of love though.
Thank you for all your support. And thank you to all of you who have left comments here on my blog! Keep them coming!
Posted July 1, 2009
There are so many things I should be doing other than writing about this, but the unexpected death of Michael Jackson has thrown me into a tailspin. Death does that to us. Just when we think we’re going on our merry way, thinking we need to make sure we put the trash out on Tuesday, or get the bills in the mail before they’re late on the 15th, suddenly we are body-slammed by something much more powerful, something that makes us realize how very precious each day is.
I was expecting Farrah Fawcett’s death, but it was still a tragic loss. What a beautiful lady she was; she had indomitable class and she presumably maintained those qualities right up until the end. I used to love watching her on “Charlie’s Angels” in the ’70s and my brother had her famous poster on the wall in his bedroom. Farrah and her fellow actors back then—Jaclyn Smith and Kate Jackson, showed us that women can be both sexy and strong.
Unfortunately Farrah’s death was overshadowed by that of Michael Jackson’s…
My youngest son came home from work and told me the news. As when I heard about the death of John Lennon, at first I thought it was a joke.
And to a lot of people, apparently it is a joke. While I was in the grocery store the other day, I overheard a man at the check-out telling jokes to the clerk—jokes about Michael Jackson’s and Farrah Fawcett’s deaths. I can take a joke with the best of them, but when I heard what he was saying, something cold and slimy seemed to crawl up my spine. I wanted to say, “Have some respect for their families, will ya?” but I knew if I opened my mouth, I’d be inviting trouble with a man who had already passed judgment on a person he didn’t even know.
The fact remains that none of us will ever know what really happened with Michael and the boys he was accused of sexually molesting. Sure, like O.J. Simpson, he was acquitted. But I have a different opinion of the O.J. case and I won’t go into that. Michael, on the other hand, was a different story. While he was obviously an eccentric person, I’d like to give him the benefit of the doubt about the molestation. (I am in no way condoning his behavior however.) Not because he’s dead, but because from what I’d seen on television and the news, Jackson was robbed of his own childhood. Because of this, he seemed to spend his entire life searching for it. I remember seeing an interview with him once. Michael climbed up in a tree and the reporter on the ground below him asked, “You’re 45 years old, Michael, aren’t you a little old to be climbing trees?”
“It’s fun!” Michael chirped, “you should come on up!”
Eccentricities aside, Michael Jackson was and always will be an icon. I saw him carry the huge responsibility of being frontman for The Jackson 5 when they first appeared on TV with their huge afros. How cool that was! He was the same age as me when they became famous. I can only imagine the immense burden this role would be on anybody, much less a child. And he went on to change the world; Michael truly did bridge a gap between races. His music appealed to all; his dancing talent inferior to none.
What makes someone a celebrity in the first place, is the fact that their personification reveals a part of ourselves many of us have a hard time getting in touch with; it doesn’t matter if we like them or not.
And whether one feels disdain toward him or awe, the name of Michael Jackson has affected us all. Let us not dwell on the negativities associated with his name, especially since the worst of his accusations was never proved. Perhaps it is our own insecurities and inequities that produced the sad and lost soul that tormented him in the first place. Let’s heal his wounds right now by not carrying them, in the form of our judgments, any further. Let’s remember the man for the gift of love and immeasurable talent he gave the world.
May you rest in peace, Michael, thank you for brightening my life with your music.
May you rest in peace, Farrah, thank you for showing me that true beauty can also be strong.
So many amazing things have happened to me over the past few years, that when I was given the invitation to submit an essay about what was important to me, I jumped on it.
The “This I Believe” organization has published my essay entitled “From Ordinary to Extraordinary” and it’s now online. I guess they’ve had a lot of trouble with their website, because they notified me in June that my essay was published and I was only able to find it recently.
Please check it out if you’re interested!
You can view it by clicking here: http://thisibelieve.org/essay/65675/
As far as progress for my book, I have finally finished what I hope to be the last really major revision (of my own doing, that is). In between work and family, it has taken me more than 10 weeks to complete. I’m giving the manuscript to my editor next week and we shall see what transpires after that. This time I really feel DONE though. I’m feeling really good about it, although I know it’s waaaay too long—100,000 words and needs to be cut back. That’s where the expertise of someone who’s objective comes in; one tends to become rather fond of one’s own words sometimes!
So please stay tuned. I have a lot of posts in the works and ready to add to my blog; I’ve just been working like mad trying to finish my book.
Here are some samples of what’s to come: “Rock ‘n’ Roll Hell is Heaven,” (about Aerosmith), “Drummers and Mysticism,” “Mitochondrial Eve,” “John Donne’s Holy Sonnets” and more!
Aug. 11, 2009
Author’s note: I wrote the following over a week ago. It has since become news that Aerosmith’s lead singer, Steven Tyler, fell off the stage at the Buffalo Chip Campground during their concert in Sturgis, SD on August 5, 2009. According to www.rapidcityjournal.com, Tyler was reported to have broken his shoulder and sustained stitches in his head.
Godspeed and healing, Steven!
(Aerosmith stage curtain photo by maduarte)
* * * * * * *
My sons say I’m out of the loop and that may be true to some extent. During the late ‘70s and most of the ‘80s when others were enjoying rock ‘n’ roll, I was busy trying to survive as a single mom, so I missed out on a lot. But I’m making up for it.
I guess there has to be a first time for everything, and Aug. 1 was the first time I’d seen Aerosmith in concert.
They played with ZZ Top at Fiddler’s Green in Denver. The ticket price was outrageous, but I’d been reading a lot lately about the many injuries the members of Aerosmith have sustained during the past few months so I figured I’d better go and see them. It may be my last chance to experience one of the legendary rock bands of my generation.
Lead singer Steven Tyler had recently had a bout with pneumonia and pulled a muscle in his thigh, warranting the cancellation of several scheduled stops on this tour. You can’t very well replace a lead singer with a voice and face like his. Bass player Tom Hamilton survived throat cancer a few years ago and is currently recuperating from “non-invasive” surgery. David Hull, who played with Aerosmith in the past, is now covering for Hamilton. Guitarist Brad Whitford hit his head and had to have emergency surgery, requiring him to sit out several shows. Lead guitar player Joe Perry had to have knee replacement surgery twice.
See what I mean? So I paid the $150 per seat ticket price and went. A man sitting next to me said that his friend had done sound or something for them years ago. “Even the Grateful Dead said they’d never seen anyone who did as many drugs as Aerosmith,” he told me. I guess it’s a miracle they’re still kicking.
Anyway, I won’t critique each song or style because I’m not intimately familiar with their music. However, I will give you a first-timer’s perspective.
ZZ Top opened the show and they always rock. I’ve seen them before and it never ceases to amaze me that a three-piece band can put out such a big sound.
Aerosmith came onstage when the sun was going down. They played most of my favorites: “Sweet Emotion,” “Dream On,” “Rag Doll,” “Walk This Way,” “Dreamweaver,” and “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.” They sounded great although Tyler and Perry seemed winded much of the time. It was the altitude in Denver, I’m sure. Not an out-of-state singer’s best friend.
Every live show I’ve seen recently has had one aspect that really stuck out for me. This time it was Steven Tyler. He has to be the consummate rockstar—the very embodiment of the word. At 61, he still looked and sounded fabulous. He was dressed in silver, glittery tight pants that accentuated his tight ass and his lean, toned body. He wore a black tank top with the Aerosmith logo on it in rhinestones and had about 10 bracelets on each wrist. His fingernails were painted with a strip of black down the center of each one.
Now I’m not normally one who thinks men who wear makeup and nail polish are sexy, but I have to admit, Steven Tyler is sexy.
He knows how to hold his body and his long thick hair just right to create maximum effect. He has all the rockstar moves down to a science—perfect spins, suggestive poses, hip thrusts, and a special mic stand which he hauled everywhere. It had his initials painted on it and was decorated with sheer and glittery scarves that hung to the floor. He used them to slide back and forth between his open legs or wrap around his face throughout the show. Several times, he demonstrated his proficiency on harmonica and once on drums.
The lighting was the most elaborate setup I’d ever seen. No wonder this concert cost so much! Colored lights on huge sections moved up and down above the band, there were smoke machines and fans to blow the performer’s hair and clothing just right, even a fake fire flaming around Joe Perry during one solo. Above the stage were four large screens that moved up and down and played various scenes or showed close-ups of the concert. My favorite was when each screen had huge moving flames on it. Combined with the music, the smoke and the red and orange bars of lights and single lights whose beams crisscrossed across the stage, I felt like I was in rock ‘n’ roll hell and it was heaven!
Joe Perry did an amazing job. Like Tyler, Perry is another consummate rocker—he has that refined, rock star attitude. The tour was called “Guitar Hero: Aerosmith Presents Aerosmith,” and was a combination of the game and Perry playing live. He had a duel with his Guitar Hero caricature after which, he asked the audience: “Who won the match—me or the cartoon?”
Of course there was no comparison.
At one point, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons came out for a jam session. It seemed that touring with Aerosmith has affected “That Little Ol’ Band from Texas,” because they brought out an extra amount of spice from one another. And Gibbons’ voice, well, like Tyler’s, is legendary. Uh hm, hm, hm…
From the opening blast, where the stage curtain dropped to the floor, revealing thousands of shooting lights, the sparkling performers and the thunderous music, I was so glad I went. These boys may be getting up in years, but you’d never know it to see them; they still have it. And they’re doing it up in a big way—rock ‘n’ roll that pounds the “Sweet Emotion” out of you the way it should be!
Aug. 22, 2009
Melissa Etheridge is one performer I’ve always wanted to see live in concert. Since the late ‘80s, her raspy Janis-Joplin-vocal-style has always fascinated me.
I’m not one who’s normally impressed by singers with harmonious voices that sound like the trickle of water in a backyard pond as it slides over carefully-polished stones (although I love Bocelli). My soul is stirred by the ones who scream from deep down in their personal torments of love, anger, frustration, elation, and blow those sweet, meticulously-placed rocks to bits.
Melissa does this. Has always done this.
On August 15, 2009, she performed for Bohemian Nights 2009 in Fort Collins, Colorado, as part of her “Live and Alone 2009” tour. She took the stage with just her guitar, but then played piano during a rendition of a Joan Armatrading song. She also played harmonica, telling the audience that a solo performer sometimes needed a harmonica. Nice reference to Dylan.
Etheridge, who is a breast cancer survivor, said that she now sees life in a new way, and one of her most passionate songs was “I Run for Life,” about that very thing. “I run for the truth, for all that is real,” she sang. The message that came through was the unselfish need to be there for others, to remind them that the “C” word is not a death sentence. I can’t think of a better purpose for a song than to inspire others.
This was powerful and her sincerity contagious.
She also played a lot of my favorites: “Chrome Plated Heart,” “Like the Way I Do,” “Bring Me Some Water” (which has always been my favorite Etheridge song), “Come to My Window,” “I’m the Only One,” and “I Want to Come Over,” in which I could feel her longing for understanding pounding out with every syllable.
Melissa’s appeal is her honesty. I heard so much angst in her songs—the kind that flows in the veins of great rock music and merges with the chords like a potion that heals from the inside out. Her music is clearly a yearning for self-understanding—isn’t that what we all long for?
She also sings a lot about angels and love, but not in a soft way. Melissa’s got rock ‘n’ roll boots and she’s going to stomp you with them!
Like most out-of-state musicians, she seemed a bit winded due to the altitude, but toward the end of the show, she really kicked it into gear: hair flying and literally beating the notes of out her guitar. For an encore, she did a Janis Joplin tune “Piece of My Heart.” I don’t know a whole lot about Melissa, but Joplin had to have been a very big influence for her musically.
Toward the end of the concert, a college-aged girl next to me in the crowd was jumping up and down, pumping her fist in the air and screaming at the top of her lungs, causing those near us to stare. She kept apologizing to me, saying: “I’m really sorry; I swear I’m completely sober. Melissa is my very favorite!”
I just smiled. “You don’t have to apologize. You’re supposed to have a good time. That’s what it’s all about!”
And that’s also the difference between a person who merely gets up onstage and plays a guitar and someone who makes you feel it!
I was even lucky enough to get one of Melissa’s guitar picks. (I collect them.) On one side, it says: “The Dreams We Create” —another positive omen for me, I take it.
Concert Review—Chickenfoot at the Fillmore in Denver, Colorado
September 11, 2009
I am a writer. And when one is striving to maintain professionalism, it is one’s duty to present an unbiased account of the subject matter, is it not?
I tried. I really tried, but I just couldn’t do it. I was swept “Down the Drain” and it was so, so fine…
I first saw Chickenfoot perform at the Fillmore in San Francisco on May 17, 2009. It was their third live performance as a band; their debut CD had not yet been released. That show blew me away.
The Denver show topped it.
Chickenfoot was tighter than ever. And they delivered the kind of rock music that’s timeless and unforgettable.
The thing that continually amazes me about this band is that none of them upstages the others. They are all top-notch musicians in their own rites but they complement one another beautifully and it seems so effortless.
That evening, I had a backstage tour ticket. Our group was escorted into the venue to watch Davy Knowles and Back Door Slam, the band who would be opening for Chickenfoot, do their soundcheck. Davy is only 22 years old, but he has the soul of an old blues man. His music is in the same vein as that of Jonny Lang. Rock and the blues will never die as long as there are talented people like Davy keeping the soul alive.
We were then escorted into Chickenfoot’s dressing area, a room a little larger than a closet, where all the trunks of clothes stood open and waiting for the band. I think Sammy’s trunk had more shoes than shirts! Michael Anthony’s still had the “VH” logo on it from his Van Halen days.
We were then taken to the hospitality room where the band hangs out before the show. There was a small drum set for Chad Smith, guitars, amps and equipment for Joe Satriani and Mikey, including Mikey’s signature Jack Daniel’s bass with two small shooters of JD stuck in it, a portable wine trunk stocked with about two cases of wine for Sammy, and platters of fruit, sweets and snacks. And of course, Sammy’s bottle of Cabo Wabo tequila was chilling in the refrigerator.
They then took us onstage and showed us all the guitars in sectioned crates, the sound board, the snakes of cords, floor lights all in position, amps and Chad’s drums. What a strange feeling being up there and looking down at the empty room which would soon come to life with music and screaming fans. The Fillmore has huge glass chandeliers hanging from the ceiling over what used to be its massive dance floor.
I couldn’t help but think about the many people it takes to put on a show of this caliber and how hard their lives must be.
After the tour, those of us who wanted to participate were given a digital recorder to record the song “Sexy Little Thing.” Apparently the band wanted audience footage to use for an upcoming video for their website. What a great way to get the fans involved! I took one but couldn’t figure out how to use it until about half-way through the song. But it was fun anyway.
We were then allowed into the venue to wait for the show.
When Chickenfoot came onstage—with their square peace sign logo lit up above them, lights flashing, their energy tore from them like an avalanche breaking loose. “The Foot” had been unleashed!
“Avenida Revolution” was just as powerful and exciting as it was the first time I heard them play it–thundering, brazenly grabbing you by the throat and never letting up.
After a few songs, Sammy joked about the altitude, saying: “You only have to smoke one joint and do three shots and you’re f—ed up in Denver!” He also said that the last time he was here, it snowed and he and Mikey were hoping that didn’t happen again. You never know in Denver.
This time the setlist was arranged differently and I liked how they changed it up so that it didn’t follow the same sequence as their album.
Chad Smith demolition squad
Throughout the evening, Chad must have thrown out at least six dozen drumsticks into the crowd. He even pulled a woman out of the audience and had her sit next to him during Hagar’s “Bad Motor Scooter,” inserting drumsticks into the front of her low-cut top, pulling them out one by one, playing a few beats and then tossing the stick into the audience. Drumsticks were bouncing all over the stage and landing in the audience. At the end of the show, he kicked his drums over, then grabbed his high-hat cymbal and held it over his head before tossing it to the ground. The man is a maniac! The way he pounds those drums shakes the entire earth. He doesn’t sit obediently behind the drums and keep the beat like all the other drummers I’ve seen. Chad messes with your mind. He’s all over the stage; he gets up and sits on the speakers or his drums, and he teases Sammy: “You’re f—ed up when you come out of the dressing room, Sam, and when you come out of the hotel!”
He also announced that the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) had officially certified that Chickenfoot’s self-titled debut album had gone gold! (Sold over 500,000 copies)
Satriani outdid himself. He was such a pleasure to watch, as he made his guitars move mountains, sing ballads and erupt in ferocious blazes with ease. Then he just stood there and smiled while Sammy and Chad hammed it up. This man has more talent than anyone I’ve ever heard and yet he remains humble. At one point, Joe took out his video camera and filmed everyone onstage and off.
Mikey was more outgoing than in the past—he walked to the edge of the stage and interacted with people in the audience. He sang an occasional lead vocal—and did a great job of it. His backing vocals and signature bass style are well-known in rock music and that night he did not disappoint. His vocals were spot on and his playing better than ever. Rarely is he as front and center as he’s been in Chickenfoot and he deserves to be! At one point, Mikey brought Sammy a cup with booze in it. Sam took a swig, then Mikey finished it off, and went over and screamed into the microphone. Crazy!
Sammy’s voice never wavered; it was strong and solid, yet melted into velvet for “Learning to Fall.” He delivered a stellar performance from the first note to the last. He jumped, danced, pranced across the stage, reached out and acknowledged the audience and had them singing along, fists in the air and jumping up and down. The Denver crowd really seemed to love his performance of Montrose’s “Bad Motor Scooter,” which he played on his slide guitar, and “Oh Yeah,” in which he had them all fully engaged and joining in.
He asked the crowd how well the Denver radio stations were playing their music and the audience booed. I have to agree–Chickenfoot needs more air time in Colorado.
Their rendition of “My Generation” by The Who and a teaser of Led Zeppelin’s “The Immigrant Song” were a real treat. I wished they would have played the whole thing because what they did play sounded phenomenal. I think Sammy sang “My Generation” even better than Roger Daltry. Apparently these guys can play anything.
Notably absent from the setlist was “Running Out.” Don’t know why they didn’t play this.
I lost it again during “Learning to Fall.” I’d seen them perform this live before, but I just couldn’t help myself. There is something about the music, Sammy’s voice, and the harmonies in this piece that takes over and rips me apart. I couldn’t stop the tears. There was however, a moment where Joe usually plays a note that rises up out of the music like a fast-forward video of a rose blooming, rising out of the ashes into its glory. For some reason, Joe chose to change the notes he played this time; he didn’t take it all the way up like he did before and the impact wasn’t as great. It was still an awesome song and a great performance, though.
“Sexy Little Thing” exploded. The band was so tight on this—I think this had to be one of my favorites of the night. Also “Get It Up,” where the lights flashing on and off accented the sheer muscle of this band, who were all over the stage.
“Down the Drain” was dirty, nasty and solid. It made me feel like I was being sucked into something forbidden, glorious, dark and full of soul. Joe’s guitar solo went over the edge—a wild and wonderful trip into his heart.
Through this entire concert, I tried to maintain a professional approach, to be able to relate this experience to my readers in a professional manner, (which I’m obviously still not doing) but how can you remain professional when the music is so captivating that it pulls you in and forces you to lose control? (Because that’s what it’s supposed to do!) Where do you draw the line for the sake of objectivity—maintain an equitable distance as opposed to becoming so involved in the moment that you don’t even care who you are anymore?
How can you be disciplined when Sammy is so into the music that he’s standing on his tiptoes, holding the microphone in both hands, bending backward and screaming: “it’s all… down… the drain… Yeahhhhhhhh” and Joe is cranking out sounds on his guitar so fast and furious that you can’t even see his fingers moving over the strings, Mikey is pounding his bass, Chad is owning the night and it’s all blending like one big fusion of music and spirit?
As spectators, we have no ammunition. We are blown to smithereens.
It doesn’t get any better than this.
Oct. 16, 2009
My husband and I returned home last night after 12 days in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. I’m sitting here at my kitchen table, which is loaded with the Halloween motif our son put up while we were gone, an empty bottle of tequila given to me by Sammy Hagar at one of his concerts (it was half full when he gave it to me), my digital camera and camera cards, a bottle of cipro antibiotic (a must for a trip to Mexico), a colorful, hand-painted fish mobile I’d purchased at one of the shops in Cabo and a pile of junk mail and bills that’s still too intimidating to tackle. Oh, and the decorative candle in the centerpiece of my table has been replaced with one that looks like a bleeding skull.
I’m still trying to process everything that took place over the past few weeks. It rained most of the time we were in Mexico—rained in Cabo!So I didn’t get much of a tan. But when the sun came out, it was marvelous. On our last day, yesterday, I got up early to watch the sun rise over the Sea of Cortez and the rocks of Land’s End. My photos don’t do it justice.
The sun was hot pink as it lifted out of the water and the higher it rose, the hotter it got until it drew beads of sweat from my skin. There were two cruise ships in the bay and hundreds of fishing boats heading out to sea, something that hadn’t taken place for several days due to Tropical Storm Patricia—how ironic is that name?
But yesterday morning Cabo was back to her normal, splendid self—hot, humid and sunny. It seems so dark here in Colorado, but at least it’s not snowing.
As I get back into the swing of my old life, I will tackle the task of finishing revisions of my book and keep you posted on its progress. I’m almost finished. I will also write more about Cabo and Sammy Hagar’s concerts while we were down there (my husband and I were fortunate to be able to acquire tickets to all five shows), and I’ll post a few pics.
Besides Cabo’s alluring beauty, I did have several moments during this trip that I consider somewhat mystical—interesting at least. One of those moments was when a woman sat next to me on the plane from Phoenix to Denver and the two of us hit it off as if we’d known each other before. Maybe we have—she told me that she owns a metaphysical bookstore in California. It never ceases to amaze me where the writing of my book “Wings of Rock” seems to be taking me.
For right now though, I have about 50 loads of laundry to catch up on. Stay tuned…