Sunday, 21 April 2013

I love that dirty water.......

The Standells were a band from L.A in the early 60's, who'd had no success, when they were signed to a new contract by Capitol Records. They were put to work with Producer Ed Cobb. Cobb had recently been to Boston and been mugged on the Charles River Bridge. He wrote a song celebrating the famously polluted river and the City of Boston and presented it to The Standells. None of the group had ever been to Boston but they liked the song. The recording was exactly what Cobb wanted from the band. The Stonesish riff, the spoken intro and the lean, sinuous sound were more of the 'garage' tone he wanted, rather than the poppier sound they had been known for. Dirty Water reached no.11 in the Top 100 and was a huge radio hit. The Standells never troubled the charts again. The story might have ended there if it hadn't been for the sports-mad City of Boston. The Patriots football team started playing it over the p.a in the 80's, the Bruins ice-hockey team followd suit but it was when the Red Sox baseball team started using it after every home victory that Boston fans took the song as their own. With 81 home games in every season, there was plenty of chance for Red Sox Nation to sing the line that ends the chorus, "Boston, you're my home."
This week, after the terrible events at Monday's marathon, the City was waiting for the Sox to come home from a very successful road trip. They were due back at Fenway Park on Friday night but the curfew and lockdown of the entire City meant that the return was delayed until Saturday when, with the suspects caught or killed, Boston could relax a bit. Fenway Park became the focal point for an outpouring of emotion and remembrance that the Americans do so well. The hard fought Red Sox victory was met with a roar from 40,000 fans that said more about the City and the week's tragic events than any words could. Then, almost unnoticed, that guitar riff rang out over the p.a and fans hugged and sang and cried. When the little song got to the last line of that first chorus, 40,000 tired, emotional, happy voices yelled out "Boston, you're my home." And, for the first time in 5 days, It really did feel like home. Bostonians are a famously gritty, hard-working, hard-playing bunch. On several trips from the U.K we've spent many happy hours at Fenway and in the bars and restaurants along Boylston Street. We love the place, the people and the Red Sox. 5 weeks from today, we'll be back at Fenway. Can't wait. In a way, Boston feels like our home, too.

Monday, 1 April 2013

You know they say...

you should never meet your heroes? I have loved Steve Lukather for 35 years, since his band, Toto, burst onto the American charts with Hold The Line. My wife & I have seen the band umpteen times and followed the careers and lives of the various members, through tragedy, crippling illness and some wonderful music. Luke was the session player of choice for every producer going in the 80's. I guarantee you have an album that he is on. Thriller? It's all Toto. So 'Luke' is out on the road in Europe, where he and Toto are still a big draw, promoting his 6th solo album, Transition. There are only 2 UK dates so I splashed out on the VIP package for the 2nd one, at The Robin 2, Bilston. The package was for a meet & greet and the sound check. We arrived at the venue in plenty of time and were shown through to the stage area, given a laminate each, a t-shirt and poster. Within a few minutes, Luke arrived. He looks fit & healthy, after years of burning the candle at both ends, snorting it up his nose and writing the book on rock excess. We're almost the same age but he looks a WHOLE lot better than I do. He is instantly jokey and funny, putting all of our nerves at ease. There are 25 of these VIP tickets at each show so it is intimate enough. When it is our turn to have stuff signed he is lovely, engaged and interested. He carefully signs Jan's t-shirt that she's wearing, making sure I'm watching, then signs my rare Toto 25 shirt from their 25th anniversary tour. He comments that you don't see many of them. I get him to sign my poster to my brother, Phil. He lives in Perth, Oz and is a stunning guitarist himself. Luke is his hero and inspiration. We tell Luke that Phil missed the recent show in Perth by Ringo's All Starr Band, which Luke was in, because he was in South Africa on business. "Oh, bummer, man. Tell him I said 'hi.'" was the reply. We get our picture taken and he moves on to the next person. Everyone gets a hug, a firm handshake and questions about how far they've come. He is constantly thanking people for coming. Finally he gathers us round and answers questions for what seems like ages. Then it is sound check time. His band consists of Steve Weingart on keyboards, Mrs Weingart, Renee Jones on bass, and Eric Valentine on drums. They are tight, well drilled but relaxed. They are all unbelieveable musicians. Luke laughs and jokes his way through the whole thing, taking off other guitarists, Sammy Davis Jnr and generally acting the clown. After an hour and a half, he says farewell and thanks us all, again. The gig is stunning and he is genuinely stunned by the wall of noise that greets the end of the first song. The band are so good and he is really enjoying himself. Remember, this is the guy that Jeff Beck calls the Best On The Planet. After 2 hours, he's gone and we're hot, sweaty and happy. It has been a fantastic experience and we're both floating as we leave. So, they say you should never meet your heroes. Well, sometimes, 'they' have no idea what they're talking about. Apart from the photo with him, the other photos are by Jan, from our vantage point right at the front. Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos Sound check Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos