Roger Reis

Roger Reis

Tuesday, 03 October 2017 04:24

Suzanne Puckett; Poetry at its finest

You tore him down! Discredited his name ~ Made him lie, cry and beg ~ Hold his head in shame
 
Poetry writers have been around since the beginning of time. People enjoy their works of art as they connect with the emotions of the writer. The reader feels the mood the writer was in when they wrote the piece at hand. Their eyes become one with the page as the words dance among their visual cortex and their imagination flows. Suzanne Puckett is one of those writers that you can connect with and her writings are just amazing.

Suzanne, who goes by the nickname ‘Snoopy,’ was raised in a small town of Ohio, and is currently living in Dundalk, Ireland. She has spent a lot of her life writing from her personal experiences in which she has had many. Influenced by Maya Angelou and William Butler Yates, her poetry is something to read.

Puckett went through some life changing times that actually became the inspiration for some incredible works. “I love to write about the human condition, nature, and drama. Specifically, the conditions us humans have that deal with emotion, mistakes, and redemption.” Suzanne continued, “I get a good amount of my inspiration from the beauty in life, as well as, the tragedy in life. I have learned that embracing both are of equal importance.”

Snoopy is really busy with her writings right now. She has been published. Watermark Press released an Anthology book of poems in 2000 which included one of her poems, “Core of Revenge.” She self publishes on Facebook at the page Poetry of Suzanne Puckett.

“I am also currently working on a book of some of my collected works of poetry that I am self publishing.” The book was set to come out in September of 2017, but the release date has been delayed. “I am currently waiting on the artist for the book to finish their part of it. So, it looks like it will be released closer to the end of this November.”

Although Puckett does not have a favorite poem she tends “to view all of them as equally important.” She discussed more writings, “I would have to say that the screenplay that took me thirteen years to write is the piece of writing that is really closest to my heart. I am making a movie. It's in pre-production right now with a working title Programmed. It is loosely based on my experiences as a teen.”
Her poetry was recently featured on the radio show Asylum for Your Soul. The show originates in Ontario, Canada; Whistle FM 102.9. Host Ken Cowle who is a publisher and also a poet thought highly of the works from Suzanne Puckett to have her works mentioned on the air. She was the featured writer and unveiled several of Puckett’s works.

A piece that shows some darker times is one called “Abuse.” The opening attention-getter reads, “They tried to break me, drain me Rape life from me, well, let them try.” The piece continues about washing her brain, doing the time, and being told where to go. It’s a very emotional piece that shows the inner mind of Puckett.

Her magnificent writing “Full Circle” is a piece that just touches your soul. The words jump off the page as the reader engages the poem and keeps their interest within every word. It grabs you and brings you into the piece. Every single one of her writings does this as they are truly great works of art.

“Bee in Your Hive” is a very interesting poem. “It was written for a dear friend who was feeling down. I wrote it to cheer her up.” It’s a well written poem that states, “Take me with you in spirit.” It’s just a beautiful thought put to paper.
 
Lay your fear down
At my feet
Relax
Have a seat
As I walk inside of you
Silently
Hold me with your heart
So tight
Remember me
Use all of your might
In your time of need
Throughout your plight
 
Poetry is not something that you can just whip up. It’s very time consuming to find the right words. Snoopy is a writer who takes her time in finding the right things to say. “Missing me” is a poem that shows a unique writing style. She discusses reuniting with a former love who just doesn’t seem to be interested. “You kissed me but you completely missed me,” are the words to describe disappointment. The poem describes how beautiful things could be, but he kissed her “Without a care.” Sad poem, but it’s something that everyone in their life goes through at some point; seeing the heartache of human relations. Suzanne finalized this poem with the conclusion, “I’m still here.”

Several other pieces can be viewed on Facebook including “How I went,” “Renewal,” and just an incredible work of art call, “Peace and Tranquility.” This piece of poetry has a mourning side to it as it discusses the loss of someone who went through a terrible time during his last minutes of life.

Suzanne Puckett really has a way with words. She catches the reader and becomes one with them. The writer is grabbed by their imagination and taken into the poem. The reader feels the life experiences for the piece at hand. As they become one with the piece, it’s quite clear that Suzanne Puckett is one of those writers that you can connect with. Her writings are just amazing!

 

Nearly fifty years since the start of an amazing rock band, Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull takes up for another tour most recently making a stop at the Chicago Theater. With him, he brought his classic songs and jammed away. Needless to say, the night was filled with incredible music.

A few minutes after 8 p.m. the lights dimmed to let everyone know it was show time. People made their way to their seats excited in anticipation of an explosive show. The upscale Chicago Theater was an excellent setting for a night with a musical mastermind. The ushers were helpful, fans were happy, and then the lights faded.

The show started and the powerful rock band painted the canvas of music for the evening. The earlier portion of the show contained a couple gems; “Living in the Past” and “Nothing is Easy”. These crowd pleasers were just what everyone wanted. They kept nailing the riffs in a refined way and delivering the music.

Ian Anderson brought along some really sweet sounding flute to the theater. His musical ability and showmanship is second to none. Playing fast-paced flute while standing on one leg while making mischievous looks are all part of his unique skill set.

Up next was a rewritten version of “Heavy Horses” that had a different twist. New lyrics were added to the song, but there was also a virtual singer involved. Screens behind the band were in sync with the show and had singers on the screen that were pre-recorded.

A favorite among so many, “Thick as a Brick” was yet another a great selection from Jethro Tull. The current lineup of musicians did the piece justice duplicating it. The presentation of the edited version makes quite a nice show and demonstrates the musical insanity of Ian Anderson.

Band Members;
Ian Anderson – Guitar, Flute, Mandolin, and much more!
David Goodier - Bass
Scot Hammond – Drums and percussion
John O’Hara – Piano, keyboards, and accordion
Florian Opahle – Guitar
 
The night went along playing one Tull song after another. Ian’s magic flute shines on the song “Bourree”. The instrumental piece always makes the fans happy. The polished up version was a perfect selection for their set. It wouldn’t be an Ian Anderson show without a classical piece like this one from J.S. Bach. The only way to continue was with “Farm on the Freeway”, “Too old to Rock n’ Roll, Too Young to Die,” and “Songs From the Wood”. Then the band took a quick intermission.
 
The crowd was very pleased at the start of the first set with “Sweet Dream”. Florian Opahle had his guitar tone set just right to mimic the record. Everything he does shows he can handle the guitar work produced on Jethro Tull albums. He nails the riffs and sound all while making it his own.

“Dharma for One” is a jam that ends up in a drum solo. Scott Hammond played some of the most incredible rolls going all over the kit in what was a seriously hard piece to play. His style and ability match, or surpass, that of any drummer around.

The deep bass feeling from David Goodier on “A New Day Yesterday” was the start of the blues jam that got some people moving. He blended well with John O’hara on keyboards. All of the musicians have some seriously good chops.

“Aqualung”! The opening guitar riff is one that stands out well. The heavy guitar-based song had the crowd on their feet and moving. The solo was incredible as well as the rhythm section. Once the song was over with the cheering didn’t stop and unfortunately the words, “Bye-bye! Bye-bye!” were said. No one was going to let them leave without playing one more song.

The band did not let their fans down. The song began and the audience was happy. The FM hit, “Locomotive Breath” gave a final punch to the show. The bug eyes and over the top leadership within Ian provided a memorable show. His song writing and musical styling was a pleasure within a live setting to see. The man is way beyond a flute player. He is a showman.

After almost fifty years of being involved with music, Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull continues to tour with no signs of stopping and no reason to. The Chicago Theater was a perfect setting for the magic flute work of Ian and his amazing band. As always, they were a delight to see.

 

Sunday, 13 August 2017 17:40

Latin Paradise - Santana Live at Ravinia

The summer concert season continues at Ravinia. Midsummer brings to the Midwest one of the toughest guitarists on the planet. The act that has graced the stages with the most famous performers at Woodstock has come to Ravinia in Highland Park for yet another incredible performance. The oldest outdoor venue in America was the setting for two sold out nights. Santana graced the stage and, by night’s end, everyone was completely blown away.

A zero-humidity night with slight breezes made for the perfect setting for an outdoor concert. People from all walks of life entered the manicured grounds at Ravinia for the one band show. Dressed to impress, concert goers were seen dancing salsa-style to the rhythmic sounds of a Latin influenced band. It was just amazing.

Opening the night with “O Paradiso” was a great way to start the evening. The mood had been set. The smooth guitars over the Latin percussion made feet move and caused hips to shake throughout the entire evening. Carlos Santana had taken charge and he wasn’t leaving without impressing each soul that watched and listened to his band in awe.

“Are You Ready” kept the musical train rolling. As the crowd clapped their hands and stomped their feet, the music clearly ran deep into each fan. The music was not only being heard, it was being felt. Ray Greene was the vocalist. Greene took the songs and presenting them with his incredible voice that sounded as if it was handed down from the heavens.

The night kept going with “Love Makes the World Go ‘Round”. This Deon Jackson cover was a perfect selection for the evening. The opening guitar riffs combined with the vibra-slap kept the audience’s attention and the adrenaline levels high.

“Maria Maria”, “Foo Foo” and “Corazon Espinado” were amongst the next selections played. The grace and style of the band that was on stage was incredible. The rhythm section was spot on never missing a beat. The combination of an incredible bass player (Benny Reitveld), drummer (Cindy Blackman Santana), and Latin percussionist (Karl Perazzo and Paoli Mejias) were the underlayment for a fantastic evening. Carlos held notes so long that it seemed like they would never end and no one wanted them too. He followed up with fast-paced guitar runs and had a sweet guitar tone from his Paul Reed Smith.

“Jingo” helped to keep people moving to the music. Many attendees couldn’t stop dancing in the lawn and pavilion. It was so powerful you could feel it in the ground. The band was so on fire that nothing could stop it.

When “Evil Ways” began the place went wild. A young lady started grinning from ear to ear as she began to dance. Within the first few seconds the joy went right to her face as she proclaimed, “That’s my song!” David K. Matthews was filling all the gaps from behind his keyboards. His Hammond organ was pumping throughout the evening as he screamed on the keys.
The night was also filled with songs that other songwriters wrote. “Higher Ground” by Stevie Wonder and “Troubled Man” by Marvin Gaye were superb choices for this band to tackle. The music was so packed with energy and the sound was clean.

A highlight for the night was “Mona Lisa”. The melody within the guitar was nothing less than ear candy that dripped from Carlos’ strings. The canvas was being painted for the vocalist to sing about an amazing woman worthy of her own song. Latin music was in the air and young lovers were moving to the groove. Tommy Anthony was the backup guitarist and held his own.
A Santana show would not be complete without the Tito Puente song, “Oye Como Va”. The crowd was at their feet singing with every note. There couldn’t be a better way to say, “How’s it going?” The song ended and the band exited the stage for a short period, but they weren’t done yet.

The crowd cheered, clapped their hands, and stomped their feet to bring out an incredible guitarist once more. There was no way he could leave yet. After a few minutes, the video screens started showing clips of people sliding in the mud from the 1969 concert Woodstock. The drums kicked in to begin “Soul Sacrifice”. The tribal rhythm was just the start of the encore.
His wife, Cindy, was a powerhouse drummer. Her work was a driving force and during her solo she proved she could lock horns with anyone else behind a kit. When the song finished Carlos gave props to her amazing ability stating, “That’s the sound of a woman kicking a man’s ass. Spiritually speaking.”

“Smooth”, “Love, Peace, & Happiness” and “The Highest Good” finished out the evening. The lights came on and people started making their way out of the concert venue even though nobody wanted to leave yet. People continued to cheer and sing. The crowd was nearly delirious from an evening of musical greatness and fun.

Highland Park’s Ravinia is the place to be in the summer months. The acts that grace their stages have been superior to a lot of other venues. Musical acts are a dime a dozen, but great bands like Santana really rise to the top in talent. They provide the music to which people love to dance. They put a smile on your face. In short, Santana is a super group on every level.

 

The summer concert season kept rolling at Ravinia with Stephen Stills and Judy Collins. The manicured lawns were graced with the musical talents of two folk singers that started their careers a half century ago. As they went along through the course of a ninety-minute set they presented their own style of serene music for everyone to hear.

Concert-goers were allowed a dry spell long enough to enjoy a good show. The humidity was starting to fade into night as people munched on short rib tacos and sipped wine from Ravinia’s restaurants. The well-groomed crowd mostly decked in white pants and khakis were preparing themselves for a time to remember.

Kenny White started out the evening with a solo piano show. He tickled the ivories for a short warm up to set the tone for the evening. Calm and mellow was the mood for this outing. The opening act was brief, but filled with soft tones that were easy on the ears.

Then came the time for the main act and the legendary artists came out together as if they owned the world. The first song for the evening was the Traveling Wilburys' hit song “Handle with Care”. It was a great way to start off the show and get the crowd’s attention. After nearly fifty years since these two performed together live, Collins and Still fell back into it as if it were meant to be.

Stills had some guitars with him that were not just for an everyday player. Two mid-fifties Fender Stratocasters made their way into the hands of the guitar legend and he was more than worthy to play them. His sound was smooth and pristine. His solo capabilities were incredible and he could even up with any guitar great out there. His voice was crystal clear and very pleasant to hear.

Stephen changed guitars after almost every song. He went back and forth between one of the Strats to a Gretsch Stephen Stills Signature model and a few Martin acoustics. He told a story about buying one smaller bodied Martin acoustic while on tour. He joked how if you are traveling North in Minnesota in February that your musical career was just about over with. After a good laugh from the audience he continued by saying he bought the guitar to perform for the evening.

A white light came up from behind Collins and lit up her hair as if she were an angel. Her voice was refined and her guitar abilities were excellent. Her instrument of choice was a Martin Judy Collins Signature Model. She strummed chords on the beautiful twelve-string while providing some incredible vocal harmonies. She is truly just a stunning woman to see and hear.

The two pulled out some songs that made the crowd very happy as toes tapped and bodies swayed. Judy brought out a bigger hit “Both Sides Now”. The mellow upbeat song was an excellent choice for the set list that put a smile on so many faces. Stills played the classic rock anthem “Carry On”. The CSN masterpiece was like a shot in the arm of adrenaline. After all, they were being entertained by one of their heroes.

Stephen started to strum out the chords to a song that turned out to be a high point for the evening. Once lyrics came out, “There’s something happening here…” the crowd started to applaud with excitement. The Buffalo Springfield song “For What It’s Worth” was heard through the venue and everyone knew the words. The show would not have been the same without the iconic protest song about the Sunset Strip curfew riots.

It came time for an encore and they saved the best for last. “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” written for Judy Collins was a reason that a lot of people attended the show. The torch song was first unveiled for the public at Woodstock in 1969 and it brought this crowd to their feet. Singing along with every word it made the evening complete.

The show ended and everyone started to make their way back to their mode of transportation. The fountain outside the main entrance was lit up in every spectrum of the rainbow. As the colors changed a few raindrops started to fall. Thankfully it held out just long enough for this perfect evening.

Ravinia Festival in Highland Park provided the setting for this great concert that was brought together from the love felt within two musicians. Stephen Stills and Judy Collins graced the grounds with their unbelievable talent and performed a mellow musical set for its well-behaved onlookers. It was a night to remember.

 

A rainy summer night and this party was a guarantee to go on no matter what. The indoor concert venue The Arcada Theater in St. Charles, was the place to be Friday night. The people packed into the ninety-one year old building for a rock show and Femmes of Rock starring Bella Electric Strings gave them just that.

The upscale concert hall was the perfect setting for a rock concert. The walls are decorated with artists that have performed at the Arcada and other music related items. A drum-set chandelier helped to illuminate the main entrance.

From the moment the show started these young ladies strutted their stuff around the stage and played with precision. Each move was well rehearsed. With a pumped up audience to play for, this incredible band performed some of the coolest classic rock songs ever written.

“Kashmir” seems to be a perfect song for this band to play. The Middle Eastern feel is such a natural fit for the violin. These top notch players made a version of Led Zeppelin’s masterpiece that was a perfect opener. Only thought was, how can they possibly keep that energy of the first song? Somehow they managed to do so.

The Femmes of Rock is led by Nina DiGregorio. She dresses in a heavy metal manner similar to that as the Kelly Bundy character, but can play a heavy metal violin. She shreds on the instrument and moves in such a powerful way. This wild child is much more than a pretty face. Her abilities are amazing to see and hear especially with such an amazing band behind her.

Four beautiful women playing violin with a rock band is just something to see. The idea brings classic rock music and a burlesque style show to the stage. The amazing talent and collection of songs selected was all just a perfect combination.

Earlier in the day they were on WGN’s channel nine in Chicago. They played their cover of “Eleanor Rigby” and it was just a version that was remarkable. The choppy swipes at the strings were done so with good mechanics in an almost robotic sort of way. Of course, they played this one at the show as well.

A major highlight of the evening was their cover of the Queen song “Bohemian Rhapsody.” The girls sat down and sang out the song. It was a very beautiful vocal moment that led into violins playing one of the most popular songs ever.

The long jam at the end goes through some of the best guitar solos from the classic rock era. One guitar god after another was displayed out on violin. Music from Deep Purple, The Eagles, AC DC, Pink Floyd, Led Zepplin and many more!! They played a full show, but it ended too soon; left the audience wanting more. Everyone wants to see more of a good show.

The incredible venue of The Arcada Theater does it again by bringing some of the best shows to downtown St. Charles, Illinois. The monumental size of a show that Femmes of Rock with Bella Electric Strings can bring to the stage is amazing. The pure talent is packed into a fun filled night of fast paced violin runs that was a pleasure to see.

Louis Prima Jr. and The Witnesses are packed with energy and are – just pure fun. At no point during the show do they let you forget that they are entertainers. For two solid hours, their upbeat show played hits going back to a different time. Every moment was absolutely enchanting.

The City Winery is an upscale restaurant/concert venue with a superb wait-staff. Their food, wine and, decorated tables made a perfect atmosphere for Louis Prima Jr. and The Witnesses. A well-dressed crowd entered the establishment after using valet parking, ate edible creations that were out of this world, and sipped on delicious wines just prior to the show. Candle lit tables, glass bottles of water and cloth napkins set the scene for one of the best shows on Earth.

For approximately five decades Louis Prima Sr. entertained crowds with his musical show in a positive and comedic way. Performers have been covering his music and style since the 1930’s. Benny Goodman, David Lee Roth, and Brian Setzer are among the most popular names to do versions of the great Louis Prima’s work. His son, Louis Prima Jr., is now paying homage to the music his father wrote and other work from different artists.

The Witnesses came out and started to prepare the audience for an incredible band leader, Louis Prima Jr. The horns were pumping and out walked the man in his striped suit who immediately started to sing the opening number “Jump, Jive an’ Wail.” The music was right on the money with every beat, note, and song performed.

A favorite song for so many people was “Just a Gigolo (I ain’t got nobody)”. The song was performed so well that it was just like the original recording. The Keely Smith role for the evening was covered by the extremely talented Leslie Spencer. Her voice was just as powerful as Keely’s was and she nailed every note with perfection during the concert. The mixtures of the male and female voices were done in the same vein as the original artist to whom this show was patterned after.

Louis took time to speak to the audience like they were friends. He made eye contact with anyone and everyone who was close enough to the stage. He mentioned that recently his son had been sick and was in and out of the hospital a lot over a year and a half. He continued to explain that, “The only thing that held it together was playing with his band and performing on stage for such wonderful people. The people in the band are very important to me.” Without their personal relationships, he would not have been able to go on.

The time during the show was held together by A.D. Adams on drums and Johnathan Frias on bass. These two kept the time so well and paved the road of songs for all the other stand-alone musicians on the stage. On guitar was Ryan McKay with a nice hollow body electric and blended well with the keyboard player Gregg Fox. Their high notes were in sync all night with the sax player Marco Palos and Ted Schumacher on trumpet. Another bottom end performer was the baritone sax player William Pattinson who hit notes that you felt deep down in your soul. Phillip Clevinger was the trombone player and together they all made up an incredible band.

All of them displayed incredible showmanship as they didn’t just come out and play their instruments of choice. They played and moved around without stopping. They aren’t just musicians; they are entertainers.

When “Angelina” began, almost every concertgoer in the place was singing with joy. “Oh, mama zooma zooma baccala” was being belted out at every table during the song about the waitress at the pizzeria.

The comedic number, “Banana Split For My Baby” was a definite highlight during the show. Louis warned everyone that he can never remember all the words of the storytelling song that put a smile on so many faces. He started to fumble the words, but regained himself immediately and laughed. No one seemed to care as he went on with grace describing all he wanted his baby to have.

The Witnesses talent is not just within the instruments they play. They all sing well and proved it throughout the night. Louis took a seat behind the drums and A.D. Admas came out to the front of the stage and they started in with the Chicago song, “25 or 6 to 4.” The horn section played every piece with accuracy. The band also continued to belt out the songs “Evil Ways”, “Proud Mary”, and “Your Mama Don’t Dance”. The entire band was like a jukebox for the evening playing one hit song after another.

Toward the end of the show Louis marched out into the audience with his band members following him in a single file line. They slapped hands, did high fives, and showed everyone how down to earth they really are. They finally made it back to the stage and unfortunately the show was over.

Louis Prima Jr. and The Witnesses laid out such an awesome evening that no one in the entire venue could have been disappointed. The vibe itself expressed from the music and the band’s personality created an overall feeling of warmth. No band could ever leave an audience in a happier mood. The entire evening was just a joy and an honor to see. As people waited in the streets for the valet parking attendants to bring back their vehicles, one man made a comment about the show. “I’m so stoked! I can’t wait to see him again.” Everyone nodded in agreement. It was just a tremendous evening at The City Winery.

 

It’s summer at Highland Park’s Ravinia and the concert season continues with Sheryl Crow and Lukas Nelson. The grounds were jam packed with people ready to see a quality show and they were not let down one bit. The weather was nice, the drinks were cold, and the music was hot! It was a night of pure pleasure.

Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real took the stage first just as the sun was starting to set. This is a super tight group with skills beyond the levels of so many bands in existence today. The band was absolutely powerful and a real treat to see. Unfortunately, as the case with many opening acts, there were a lot of empty seats because too many people are only interested in the headliner. Big mistake, as the openers are sometimes just as good as the main act. A lot of people only came to see Sheryl Crow, but those in attendance for Lukas Nelson undoubtedly became fans of him as well.

Nelson was just at Ravinia a few weeks prior with his father Willie Nelson. Just before the show many music lovers who caught Willie’s show were still talking about Promise of the Real in anticipation of another great performance - and that is exactly what they got. Nelson’s band impressed so many people and left a few asking, “Who is he?” Now they know. Growing up in a family filled with some of the best musical minds, talent has truly rubbed off onto this young man.

Promise of the Real put together some great songs for the audience. “Four Letter Word” is a great little song and well written piece. “Find yourself” was being belted out to a few people who swayed their drink of choice back and forth to the almost reggae style beat created by the rhythm section.

Just before Lukas started to play “(Forget about) Georgia”, he talked about the inspiration to the song. He dated a young lady once by the name of Georgia and sadly, their relationship ended. He stated that he would forever be tormented during performances with his dad as he was constantly reminded of her every time they played “Georgia on My Mind”.

Lukas has put together a band of musicians that could challenge any band to a duel. They had to be a real tough act to follow, but if If anyone could follow them it would have to be someone with super musical powers like Sheryl Crow.

Night time had finally come and the cool breezes graced the pavilion seats and manicured lawns, creating the ambiance for a perfect night of music. By the time she took the stage, Crow was playing to a packed house. She opened the show with “Everyday is a Winding Road” then taking the audience down a musical path of her most popular hits.

“All I Wanna Do” was definitely a crowd pleaser and a great way to get people involved in singing the chorus. The music was extremely well rehearsed and vocally she sounded better than ever. As her set of gems continued, she mellowed out the crowd a bit with her cover of “The First Cut is the Deepest”. Then she quickly pumped everyone right back up with her next song “Halfway There”. The lady really knows how to work a crowd.

It wouldn’t be a Sheryl Crow show without the song “If It Makes You Happy”. Her set was just dynamite and arranged very well, as she kept hitting fans right between the eyes with one great song after another.

Possibly the youngest in the crowd was a not quite two-year-old child named Michael who was experiencing his first show. He put his hands together and started his uncoordinated dance during “Soak Up the Sun”. He was an enjoyment to the section he was in and added to the music in his own innocent way.

A major highlight of the entire evening was Sheryl’s cover of an Allman Brothers song, “Midnight Rider”. She gracefully nailed the vocals in her own style that put a smile on everyone’s face. She later ended the night with “I Shall Believe”. Even though it was a full show of boundless material by both groups, a lot of people left wanting more. When the music is that good, who would want it to ever stop?

Highland Park’s Ravinia has a great reputation of putting together incredible performances. The park has been the place to go for entertainment in the area for over one hundred years. Ravinia put yet another notch in the belt of their list of great shows with Lukas Nelson and Sheryl Crow. The festive outdoor concert venue is never a disappointment and always delivers a magical experience as they constantly keep their sites on perfection. Hats off to Ravinia, Sheryl Crow, and Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real for the great event they put forth. Collectively they created a show beyond the wildest of dreams of most. It was just priceless!

 

Graeme Edge, Justin Hayward, and John Lodge brought a show to the Ravinia stage that knocked out everyone who was in attendance. Two full sets of music packed with hits from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s were the band’s musical offerings for the evening. Without a doubt, it was a musical setting that was great to see, hear, and feel.


There is nothing like going into a concert venue to see a favorite band. The crowds of people dress in their best going out attire and get all polished up like a pretty penny. They make their way to the seats to see some good music and moments later lights finally fade and the music starts. Excitement runs through the crowd as the first notes begin.

  
It’s just a magical time during the summer concert season at Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, Illinois. The Moody Blues only add to that magic. The legendary band came triumphantly took the stage and played a no nonsense show, having lost nothing in their fifty plus years as musicians. Their music was absolutely flawless from start to finish.


The first set contained hits from their vast catalog. They opened the show with “I’m Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band)” and grabbed the attention of the audience right away. Hayward and Lodge both have amazing voices and hit every note with perfection. There wasn’t the slightest crack or imperfection in any of the performer’s voice.


Songs from the video age of the 1980’s were a big hit among the fans. “The Voice” and “Your Wildest Dreams” were definitely crowd pleasers. They kept reminding us of their amazing writing capability as their set list unfolded.


“The Story in Your Eyes” was a highlight from the first set that grabbed a few inexperienced Moody Blues fans by surprise. “Oh my God! They’re playing this song too?” If you listen to classic rock, it’s hard to not know The Moody Blues music. It’s still everywhere on the FM dial.

“Steppin’ in A Slide Zone” began with the melodic dynamic build and thrilled the more dedicated fans of this amazing band. The keyboards and guitars were blending so well in what was a great piece of ear candy. For the few that didn’t know the song, I’m guessing it had to impress them as well.


Set two was reserved for the fiftieth anniversary of Days of Future Passed. They played the album in its entirety and this is the reason a lot of people came out to see the famous band. A few people in attendance even gave up their Grateful Dead tickets to witness this once in a lifetime performance.


The monologues were prerecorded by Jeremy Irons and he nailed it. He sounded just like the original recordings. “Tuesday Afternoon” and “Nights in White Satin” were the bigger hits from the album. Getting the chance to see this composition from start to finish was a real treat. It was a musical journey that everyone will remember from the orchestral interludes to the psychedelic writings of 1967. Originally released just after the summer of love, the album is a timeless recording that will always stand out as one of the best of all time.  


Graeme Edge was awesome on the drums and kept hitting them with finesse while not missing a beat. Billy Ashbaugh was an additional drummer brought on the tour to help keep the time within the show. Justin Hayward did such an amazing job on the guitar and vocals, the show wouldn’t have been the same without him while John Lodge provided the bottom end with his bass guitar and brought along some sweet vocals as well. Rounding out The Moody Blues sound, Alan Hewitt performed some amazing keyboards and vocals. Everything he did was just like the original recordings. Norda Mullen is a multi-instrumentalist who fills in so many gaps for The Moody Blues, but really stands out with her flute. The tour also included Julie Ragins, another multi-instrumentalist who just seemed to play everything. She quickly proved she wasn’t there to take up space. Together these people are the current lineup for The Moody Blues and they shouldn’t change a thing. These professional musicians stand out within their instruments of choice. They famously blend so well with one another.

The Moody Blues is just an amazing band in a live setting. Age does not seem to affect this band in a negative way, the musicians defying Father Time. Their musicianship seems to keep getting better as the years pass. It’s always a pleasure to see people refine their talents and put them on display for everyone to see. Ravinia was just a perfect setting for this nostalgic display. It was a delight for everyone who was there.

 

“You were always on my mind …You were always on my mind”
 
Summer warmth and clear skies are finally here. It is time for summer concerts. Highland Park’s Ravinia was the setting for an amazing show. Willie Nelson and Family were in town and the show was spectacular to say the least.

The beautiful lawns we're decorated up with concert-goers that were excited about the show. Happiness and anticipation could be seen within each fan. The weather predictions were calling for rain and they couldn’t be more wrong; there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.
Coolers were filled with beverages and the heat was starting to fade into the evening. It was time for a high-class concert, and, with that, Willie Nelson and his family brought several masterpieces to the stage for a nostalgic musical journey.

Ages of the fans in attendance greatly varied as it was a family friendly show. A young girl by the name of Sienna was attending her first concert. She was just learning to walk and was being corralled in by her family with the help of a few others in the lawn. It was a delight to see the smile on her young face and she quite possibly the youngest person there. With pretzel in hand and baby curls in her hair, she was the preshow entertainment with her cute chubby cheeks.

Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real were the opening act for the evening and without a doubt talent runs through the veins of this young man. His voice, writing style, and guitar ability was like seeing a young Willie Nelson. They were nothing less than incredible.

The song “Find Yourself” was a highlight in Lukas’ show. “Find Yourself” is a funky reggae style song that has a groove and feeling to it that just runs through deep into your soul. A ballad type song singing to a love with disappointment with a blues feel that just tore it up. Lukas undeniably has his father’s genes.

The time came for the main act Willie Nelson. A feeling of joy instantly took over the crowd that glazed their faces when the first lyric was sung; “Whiskey river, take my mind”. The opening three songs, “Whiskey River”, “Still is Still Moving to Me” and “Beer for My Horses” were just amazing choices to kick off this Friday evening show. Everyone sang along with every word.

The band was on fire, following the lead of the country genius as he jam-packed his show with a no nonsense approach. “You Were Always on my Mind” was played while the words were coming out of the mouths of the sea of people in attendance. A lady in the audience had tears in her eyes. She said with a joyful heart, “We can go now.” She was truly happy.

“Mamas’ Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys”, “Crazy”, “On the Road Again”, and “Georgia” were among the set list prompting one sing-a-long after another. “It’s All Going to Pot”, “Shoeshine Man”, and “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die” were played so well that everyone had to be impressed with the overall performance of each.

Lukas plays with Willie’s band as well and the most powerful moment of the show was during their performance of “Texas Flood”. Lukas took the lead vocal and the pipes were like a gift from the heavens above. The song wasn’t just another cover of a song. He became the song and he did as good if not better than anyone else had ever done. It came time for his guitar solo and the man’s entire body twitched with convulsions with every note played, his soulful rendition seen, heard, and felt. If anyone didn’t enjoy this masterful jam, they’re probably not a fan of music.

Bobbie Nelson, Willie’s older sister, graced the stage on piano. She is always referred to as “little sister” by the band leader and for this show it was no different. She really can just tickle the keys and did so in a dim light to one side of the stage.

Since the early seventies Mickey Raphael has been in the band. It just wouldn’t be a Willie Nelson concert without the man. Some of the greatest moments in music history involved him playing harmonica. Raphael is son entertaining, most people could probably have listened to this man just stand there and play by himself. All the members within the band are stand-alone musicians, each as impressive as the next.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. The show was highly engaging and the atmosphere just perfect. Every note was flawless and carried with it the perfect sentiment. It was priceless to see one of the musical greats of the twentieth century. Ravinia is an incredible setting for a show as always. Having Willie Nelson and Family just goes to show the high caliber of talented acts brought in by the famous concert grounds in Highland Park. The weather cooperated and it was a great start to the summer concert season. It’s a time that will not be forgotten. To see a list of upcoming musical acts appearing at Ravinia, visit www.Ravinia.org.

 

There is nothing better than seeing a concert driven with high energy. The audience waits with excitement for the concert to start. The introduction takes place and the band walks out onto the stage. The first notes on the electric guitar come through the monitors while everyone cheers and shouts the name of the man leading the show. A power chord drives the adrenaline up and is followed by fast paced minor riffs. Martin Barre has come to entertain you and the entire performance will be nothing less than spectacular. He’s is just amazing!

Martin had gone his own way in 2011 after Jethro Tull finally dissolved. Several years of performing within one of the toughest groups to ever exist had come to an end and left this six string master without a band. Mr. Barre had decided to start a new group. His current concert experience is fresh with a straight up rock and blues feel. The band is made up of some really great players that are having a good time playing some incredibly intricate music. The overall skill level is just off the charts!

Blues, rock, folk, and much more are the genres that make them up, but they don’t fit into any one category. This group is a four piece that is ready to blow anyone away who comes to see them. It’s a show that is a must see it to believe it. Do you like rock, blues, soulful guitars, and a super band? The Martin Barre Band is the band to see.  

George Lindsay is filling the role of drums and percussion with style that can mimic men who have been in Tull. His skill with sticks and mallets grace his kit with every beat. The foot work on the double bass pedals sounds like machine guns rapidly firing. This young man is big in every way. The percussive sound is huge and fills up any room he is playing in, but he is not lacking in the height category either. Standing six foot eight in height, he is quite an intimidating guy and appears taller than he admits. Don’t let his size spook you because he is a gentle giant and an awesome drummer. After a show, a concert attendee yelled up to him on stage, “George!” to get his attention. He responded back quickly, “That’s Big George!” Then he smiles.

It’s always great when a singer can belt out a song and push it over the top to excellence. Taking the role of singer can be difficult, but Dan Crisp has done an outstanding job. He is not attempting to fill the shoes of a one legged flute player, but rather he stands solidly on the ground as his own man. He has a voice that is very pleasant to listen to. Dan also plays guitar leads and solos that are quite difficult to undertake, but he does songs justice in everything he plays. He has a mad scientist, comical way about him as he moves around on stage. Mr. Crisp has been with this band for quite a while and with a little luck, he doesn’t leave anytime soon.

Providing the bottom end for the band is an extremely talented musician, Alan Thomson. His playing style is filled with dynamics as no notes better be played that don’t belong. It’s not possible for Martin to have picked up a better all around musician for bass. Alan sings backup and also plays slide guitar on the song “Bad Man.” His expertise shines with every swell during his mournful lead. Alan is so into the music that he appears as if he is not having a good time at all. “I may look like I’m not having a good time on the outside, but on the inside, I’m having the time of my life.” This low end master is fantastic to see live and a true gentleman to his fans. All bass players who have played with Martin in the previous years have been incredible and Alan Thomson is no exception. He can’t be compared to anyone else.

Martin Barre is just an amazing guitar player and he won’t let you forget it during any song that he performs live these days. He has taken Jethro Tull songs, ripped them apart, and put together arrangements that just impress the ears. Smiling from ear to ear, this man appears to be enjoying himself. He is actually quite funny too as he converses with the fans between songs. He talks about being a “bad guitar player” and hanging out with the Queen. You don’t have to be a fan of his previous band to enjoy his new show.

Some Jethro Tull fans seem to be divided into two separate camps, but still with respect for each other. Some are diehard Ian Anderson followers and others have preferred to watch the new and improved Martin Barre. Both are performing great shows solo, but most would just like to see them together again. Dave Pincus who has seen Jethro Tull over 150 times said, “Martin’s new band has a freshness and energy level that makes the show two hours of awesome entertainment.”

Martin being the band leader he has formed this concoction of musicians and blended these guys into awesomeness. The crisp sound of the guitars, the bass tone, and an excellent mix on drums helps capture their stage sound for the audience. The man behind the mixing board helps out a bit as well.  

New Day Yesterday, Teacher, and Fat Man are usual Jethro Tull songs that you will hear at a Martin show. In addition, other songs like Crossroads by Robert Johnson will feature Martin on mandolin and for a while it becomes a heavy metal mandolin. The arrangement is nothing like the Cream version at all. Having the mandolin lead the song was a good choice as it gave the song a sharpness that it never had before.

In late August, Martin kicks off his Fall US tour in Iowa. He will be touring the Midwest and upper East coast. He has over 30 shows scheduled and is already posting new shows for 2017! There seems to be no stopping this man. Complete show listing can be seen atwww.martinbarre.com

Martin Barre has come to entertain you and it will be nothing less than spectacular. The towns and cities wait with excitement for Martin Barre to come to the stage. Seeing him and his band is something that will make you happy and feel at home. The show is mostly musical, but he does make you feel like you’re the only person sitting in the audience. It’s just amazing!

 

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