Roger Reis

Roger Reis

Wednesday, 07 September 2011 16:15

Carrie Underwood at Ravinia; Just fabulous


“If you’re feeling good make some noise” – Carrie Underwood

It was Labor Day weekend at Ravinia in Highland Park. Everywhere through the crowd were candlelit picnics on this cool breezy Sunday evening. Daylight was just beginning to fade and the stage was set for Carrie Underwood to entertain a sold out show.

An orchestra was set up on stage with a country band intermingled amongst them. Before the concert the orchestral instruments warmed up on stage for the show. In the center of the stage were the conductor’s podium and a black full concert grand piano.

The band walked out and took their places. You hear the occasional scream from someone who can’t stand the wait any longer to see the 2005 American Idol winner. Carrie Underwood makes it out to the stage and the place just lights up with excitement. The person they came to see was finally there to sing.

Opening out the night was the hit song “Cowboy Casanova.” The upbeat pop country piece was done to perfection by the huge band that was on stage. Underwood was right on the money within the entire presentation. The violin hit the solos just like the record with smooth flowing precision.

The song “Change” was just a tremendous delight to hear it played out live. The blending of the orchestra on this song was impeccable. The strings played their parts making it feel bigger than life as the song was building.

A sweet violin melody leads into “Wasted.” The harmonies of angels were singing out during this dramatic piece. It seems their graceful voices were put here for one reason, to sing. Carrie Underwood has proven that she was more than just a flash in the pan for a moment artist. Six years later she is still going strong and won’t be going anywhere soon, but up. Her vocal abilities were polished beyond perfection as she harmonized with the background singers over the beautiful music.

Before they played “American Girl” Carrie told a story about the song. Every time they played it they would bring some young lady up from the audience to sing with. The last time she was at Ravinia, a pretty young lady came up on stage and then chickened out at the opportunity at the last second. The entire idea backfired on Underwood, but “She is here tonight” said Carrie. “I saw her earlier and I wanted to dedicate this song to her.” It would’ve been nice if the girl would’ve grown the courage to sing it on stage this time. Maybe on Carrie’s next time through Chicago.

The sweet sounds of “Temporary home” started out so mellow and it was just a beautiful piece to hear. The guitars blended with all the strings. The soft piano backing up the words “I can see Gods face” sent chills through your spine.

The country ballad “Jesus take the wheel” was absolutely the highlight of the show. When this song starts out, it comes in slow with strum of the guitar and accented with violin accompaniment. The story being told within the lines of the song is very well written. How could Underwood ever top this song? Don’t worry she will, but seeing it in the amazement of Ravinia on a cool evening couldn’t be any more like Heaven.

Underwood explained that this is her third time playing at Ravinia and that she “always enjoyed playing here. It has such a relaxed feeling. Wish we had a place like this where I’m from. Hope you know how good you got it.”

Underwood told stories about what she has been doing. Lately, playing with puppies and hanging out with her husband has been taking up a big part of her free time. Talked about the fact she did over a hundred shows last year. She continued and talked about having a journalist background to fall back on just in case music doesn’t work out for her. The only thing she needs to write is more songs. She will never need the journalist background, but might work well with composing music.

Within every note it is quite obvious that Underwood has an amazing voice in every way. She has grace and can bring it down to Earth with soul. American Idol seems like it was just so long ago.

During the performance Underwood had a very sensitive microphone. Occasionally she wouldn’t pull back far enough from the microphone causing a breath pop through the speakers. It sounded very unprofessional although most people seemed to be oblivious to it. The unwelcome sound was not overpowering enough to make the show not enjoyable, but to a trained ear it was nuisance. Adjustments must have been made by Underwood or the soundboard because it did go away after about a half dozen songs.

 For over one hundred years Ravinia has been having concerts like this during the warm summer months. As this summer is winding down, where else would you rather be than amongst these manicured gardens seeing an incredible act like Carrie Underwood? The sold out show was proof without a doubt that this young lady has touched a lot of people with her music. As this night of music ends, people are bused back to their cars parked at the Botanical Gardens and slowly the parking lot thins out. It wasn’t just another fine evening at Ravinia. It was a night with Carrie Underwood. She is an amazingly talented young lady and truly is an American worth being idolized. She was just fabulous!


On Saturday night a little after 7:00 P.M. ticket holders were having their tickets scanned in as they walked through the door. Even the ones who knew how great these musicians were had no idea what was about to hit them. No one had any idea how incredible this show was going to be. The super groups, Return to Forever-IV and Zappa Plays Zappa, were in Hammond, Indiana at the Horseshoe Casino and The Venue was a great setting for this musical display.

After paying the outrageous toll, climbing the mile high bridge, you come over the Ski-way to the bottom of the bridge to the first exit which takes you to where you want to be. As you walk in the doors, you are reminded by the smell of smoke that you aren’t in Illinois. You make your way across the building to The Venue. You find your seats and you are ready to start the show.

Opening out the evening was Zappa Plays Zappa. The amazing and talented band conquered old classic Frank Zappa Material with ease. The band led by Dweezil Zappa played every intricate change with precision and clarity. The comical lyrics and stories within the music made it hard to ever take this music seriously, but they were told amongst some of the toughest music written in the twentieth century.

Dweezil is a highly underrated guitarist. The most incredible guitar runs of the night came from the hands of Zappa. He ripped through the songs with complete syncopation, through very complicated pieces. He stepped up to the plate and tackled these songs for the crowd appearing very cool and laid back. He seemed lost in his own little world as he focused on the music coming through his ear monitors. There was no fancy stage show, just kick ass music. That’s all this crowd wanted to see anyway.

The band involved in backing up Dweezil on this quest was amazing to see. Including Zappa, there were eight musicians that made up this ensemble. Sheila Gonzalez played saxophone, flute, keyboards, and sang within this lineup. This one is really a Jill of all trades and was a necessary piece of the puzzle.

Pete Griffin comes in on bass guitar holding the bottom end together. He had a few real warm bass parts to provide. On all sorts of percussion instruments was Billy Hulting who hit out some rhythms that sounded almost robotic. This machine doesn’t make a mistake.

Jamie Kime chimed in on guitar helping this group pull it all together. He himself is a guitar virtuoso without a doubt. On vocals was Ben Thomas who did a number on the old stuff that won’t soon be forgotten. His vocal abilities are fitting, but the man’s way of telling a story was very charismatic. He is truly an entertainer of a highest caliber.

Joe Travers takes the roll on top of the riser hitting with dynamics and power creating wicked drum rolls. Chris Norton finalizes a great band within everything that he does. He is surrounded by keyboards, a laptop, and a few other gadgets to get the old school sounds. Every one of these musicians has a key part in this band. Together they make up Zappa Plays Zappa.

Some of the songs chosen to be performed were “Don’t You Ever Wash That Thing,” “Pojama People,” and the classic “Don’t eat the yellow snow.” “Dancing Fool” was another whimsical song that was done to perfection. During their shared stage time they had a guest violin player sporting a candied blue electric violin. Jean Luc Ponty sat in for one of the compositions and he added some magical tones to the music that was just a delightful moment.

As their show ended there was no encore for this group. Instead Dweezil Zappa did a very cool thing. He reached down at the front of the stage and started to sign autographs. The stage hands started switching the bands up and get everything ready for Return to Forever IV. Dweezil signed autographs, took pictures, and shook hands with everyone who came up to the front of the stage. Just when everyone thought he was done, he proved them wrong. It was now time for the next act and he was still signing all the way up until a few minutes before the lights dimmed. That is such a rare thing to see and very well appreciated by the fans. It was a very nice gesture from a first class act.

It was time to see the musical masters do it up. No intro music or fancy anything. They just walked out, waved hello and started playing. From the opening notes if Return to Forever IV, it was quite obvious you were about to see greatness.

Chick Corea destroyed the egos of any amateur keyboardist in the room within his falling runs. His quick finger style was beyond just being skilled. The keyboardist extraordinaire wowed the crowd within the first few minutes of playing. At one point he even pulled out his most popular piece “Romantic Warrior.” He made the comment to the audience, “If you weren’t here …..” shrugged his shoulders and smiles, “you wouldn’t be here,” then walked back to his keyboards.

Stanley Clarke, “the master of everything,” has to be the best bass player ever. The audience at The Venue Saturday night couldn’t imagine seeing a bass player that is any better than Stanley Clarke. He played bass solos on acoustic and electric basses that were slapping and thumping away. He did runs that today’s top bass players couldn’t find by accident even once.

Jean Luc Ponty is just a graceful act. This gentleman played some intricate pieces himself. The strings were touched by his bow to help create some magical moments. At other points he did stuff in a pizzicato fashion sometimes trading off with a complimentary guitar piece. He made reference to the old days of performing Zappa’s music stating that “Dweezil was only 4 years old at the time. It’s nice to see his band doing Frank’s music so well.”

Lenny White stepped up to introduce a piece. He said, “It’s really nice to play music for people who appreciate it. We’re gonna play you some manly music now, cus we’re a man band.” He went back to this drum kit and proved it. His modest sized kit was all he really needed. Honestly, this man could make pots and pans sound good. His drum solo was filled with some offbeat jazzy stuff that is really an acquired taste that not all ears can appreciate. Only handfuls of drummers are as talented as Mr. Lenny White.

Frank Gambale is amazing guitarist in all respects to share a stage with these fine musicians has to be an honor. As the night proceeded, the talents in his hands were not used much as he appeared only to be a gun for hire. During some songs he sat back on a chair and bopped his head to the music. For as much talent as this six stringer has, it seems like his talents were wasted. He looked like the first string quarterback sitting on the sidelines being punished, itching to jump in and play.  

As Return to Forever IV played, the time allotted was running out. They finished their last song and said their goodbyes. They signed a few autographs, shook some hands, and they were gone. They may never have sung a note in any songs, but they said a lot within their instruments of choice. The theater started to clear out and the stunned crowd dissipated into the casino. The ones that made it back to their vehicles right away after the show got to enjoy a traffic jam that awaited another vehicle in the parking garage.

A fantastic night of music was once again held at The Venue within Hammond, Indiana’s Horseshoe Casino. The super groups of Return to Forever IV and Zappa Plays Zappa were the talented entertainer’s of the evening. This was an amazingly talented show to see.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011 12:56

Woodsbash 2011; It was a rockin’ good time

Big Randy knows how to throw a party! Some of the best parties of the summer in recent years have been in Schiller Woods in the form of Woodsbash. For the tenth anniversary celebration it was a fantastic time. Woodsbash 2011 was a blast!

Sweet G has been a tremendous asset to Woodsbash as she has helped promote this event or the last five years. This was most likely her last year working on the committee for Woodsbash and is deciding to step down. This lady has helped out so much on these events over the years and not all the credit does go to Randy.

The day started out with the usual rain in the morning scaring a lot of music lovers away. As luck would have it, the skies cleared up and the sun came out for a bit to help out in having a better time. An abundance of the partiers that weren’t afraid to melt still showed up and didn’t mind the couple of raindrops that fell later in the day as it was quite refreshing.

The entertainment was awesome as always. Starting out the show was the band Sonic Pistol. The sweet sounding grooves provided by the tight rhythm section were very cool. These guys kicked off the show and helped to knock the sleep out of the eyes of the vampires within the crowd. If they didn’t wake you up, you might want to see a doctor because you might be dead.

Old Chicago area veterans Diamond Rexx came up next and jammed for your entertainment. The aging musicians within this band date back to a much simpler time for Chicago area musicians. Some of the old Thirsty Whale crowd showed up and it was definitely a nostalgic moment. The band played and had some cool tricks up their sleeves. They rocked!!

The up and coming Veilside came out and jammed their asses off. Very cool group with all the makings of a band that should succeed. Each one of the members in this band is a solid show themselves. Together? As a band? They are unstoppable!

The final act of Woodsbash 2011 was Loveblast and why not save the best for last. This guitar oriented band makes use of the talents within the hands of their guitar slinger. The rhythm section creates the templates for the guitarist to showboat his playing. With multiple influences driving this band from the hair metal days, this is one of the bands that got it right.

Woodsbash would not be complete without Jell-O shots, kickass music, and the heavy metal Godzilla. A guy dressed up in a Godzilla suit wearing a leather jacket walked around the crowd and posed for pictures. To be trapped within a hot suit during an above eighty degree day should make just about anyone pass out from the heat. Inside this custom suit are battery operated fans to help keep the guy inside cooler as he entertains the crowd.

The day after Woodsbash 2011, many heads needed aspirin, the woods needed to be cleaned, and Big Randy needs to start organizing Woodsbash 2012! He keeps saying that he isn’t going to do it again; that this year is the last year. He said it last year and the year before. It’s a lot of work for one person to organize and headaches come with it.

Funding is the hard part of the equation. To throw a party like this will cost an upward of a thousand dollars. In the last few years, Randy, Sweet G and a few others working behind the scenes have done a Winterbash that helps to fund the Woodsbash. It has been a successful idea for the last few years, but it is becoming tougher on the comittee. The obligation and commitment to run a show like this is huge and in future years, Randy may need to get some help with setting it up and with the funding the entire event. If he decides to put the torch down, someone else needs to pick it back up. Donations to the event are always welcome and that is what really helps to put on this party. Thank you Randy and Sweet G for doing this!!


The Venue inside of Hammond, Indiana’s Horseshoe Casino always has some of the best acts that come through the area. The setting for a show is a top notch facility with not a bad seat in the house. The theater will start to fill up and the entertainer du jour will start their show. On Saturday night, a seasoned performer graced the halls of The Venue with her angelic voice. After a half century of singing for her supper, musical super star Patti LaBelle sang her heart out for a packed house. It was just awesome!

From the opening song to her final bow, Patti Labelle was a graceful musical angel and the eyes of the concert goers could not be turned away. The very young looking Labelle was sporting a mini dress and showing lots of leg as she sang hard for everyone. This ripened singer really knows how to put on a show. Her voice was strong and beautiful with a lot of dynamics. She was just phenomenal in every way.

“If You Asked Me Too” was introduced as that hit song by Celine Dion in which she sold millions of copies of the song and Patti “only sold two” she said jokingly. She then began her original song and did it better than anyone else had. It was being performed the way it should always be done, by Patti Labelle.

Everyone was dancing in their seats when “New Attitude” started up. The song made famous through the 1984 movie Beverly Hills Cop was so intense with energy. The representation of the digital age was present within The Venue and this song took people back to fond memories of a crappy blue Chevy Nova being driven down Rodeo Drive.

The show marched on through a sea of hits. She nailed a great version of “Over the Rainbow” taking the crowd under her spell. When the opening line “Hey sister, go sister, soul sister, go sister” started out, people started dancing. “Lady Marmalade” was being done live and the queen of the stage was in command. She sang the song “On My Own” that she had done with Michael McDonald and it was beautiful.

During the course of the show, the set list seemed to go on and on with the band sounding incredible. The bass, the drums, the guitars, the singers, the keys, and Patti made a flawless combination. Never a sour note or an offbeat moment could be noticed. The group of traveling entertainers came in and tore the roof off of The Venue.

The night came to the point where the band has to pretend like the show is over. They wave their goodbyes and walk off stage. The lights never went out on the stage and The Venue started to get loud. They absolutely had to have some more of Patti Labelle and her smoking band. Finally a little bit of life is seen on the stage and the place cheers with excitement.

The anticipation was killing everyone. What was she going to do to close out the night? Which one of her hits was she going to bring out now? The crowd anticipated a gem and that is what they received. The strongest performance of the night was not a song written by Patti Labelle. Instead, she chose a song from the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, to end it. The “Earth Song” started to ring the first few notes and everyone in the place knew what she was about to do. Did she really dare to touch such a strong song of Jackson’s? She did! The song was perfect all the way through and Michael would be so proud to see the incredible version done.

She finally waved goodbye for real and Patti was gone. The band and this pop music icon had just taken a crowd and put smiles on everyone’s faces. The entire evening had been a nonstop session of sweet music. No one could have been disappointed by the performance that had been seen. It just wasn’t possible.

If you are looking for a good concert to see you might get lucky at The Venue in Hammond, Indiana’s Horseshoe Casino. On a beautiful Saturday evening in July, a crowd of people got lucky and saw Patti Labelle. It was just awesome!

Generosity at its finest! Chicago’s very own radio station WDRV (97.1 FM) celebrated their tenth birthday with some legendary musicians at the Rosemont Theatre. The classic rock groups Jethro Tull and America teamed up with WDRV for this amazing Monday evening. The ticket prices were quite reasonable as well as this was a free concert. The amount of fun that was to be had was truly priceless.
The spot on the dial has existed since 1955 when the radio station first came about as WNIB. So many changes to the station were made over the years, but on April 2, 2001 history was made. The air waves first broadcast the call letters of “WDRV.” They have been playing “timeless rock” for so many years that they have become a part of Chicago music scene.
The iconic voice of Steve Downs came out accompanied by Bobby Skafish to introduce the show. Downs discussed WDRV and how they have done this birthday celebration since they started and every year “it’s a free concert.” He handed the microphone over to Skafish who also pumped up the crowd that was ready for this show to start. A group of fans were singing “Happy Birthday” to “W – D – R –V.” As they hit the last line, “…. happy birthday to you,” the lights went out and it was time to start the show.
america-band11A classical sounding musical creation was used as an intro for the band America.  These folk musicians started the show and went straight for one of their biggest hits, “Tin Man.” They played through every one of their classic hits such as; “Sister Golden Hair,” “Ventura Highway,” and “Lonely People.” Their set even included an incredible version of Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock.” The group has harmonies that were so flawless within every song they did.
Their set seemed to go very fast as it was one hit after another that was being played out for the pleasure of the audience. Before you knew it they were doing the routine of pretending they are done while the crowd cheers for an encore performance. They conveniently left their biggest song until last, “A Horse With No Name.”  Everyone within the place was singing along with every word.
Each of the bands had their own sound man for the show and the band America could’ve made a few minor adjustments. During some songs the bass guitar was over powering the acoustics that were strumming, while at other times the vocals couldn’t be heard clearly enough to sing along with. Overall America was a very good opening act and history was made with the two groups. This was the very first time America had shared a stage with Jethro Tull, but it was quite apparent after the intermission why they were the headliner.
The audience ran for the bathrooms and concession stands during the band change up in attempt to fulfill their needs. Crowds of people were there to help in this birthday celebration. The lights dimmed letting everyone know it was almost time to start the second half of the show. As people made it back to their seats Bob Stroud came out to pump up the audience. The voices of Chicago radio were present to witness a great music event.
The lights finally went out for the main act of Jethro Tull. It was time to witness the greatness of a highly underrated band. A spotlight lit up on drummer Doane Perry as he hit his sticks together for a few clicks to count the band in and start out “Living in the Past.” The entire band jumped in and the four musicians played as the man of the hour walked out with flute in hand. The one legged flute playing madman Ian Anderson came out playing the melody line on the flute and the packed house cheered. Ian’s eyes peaked over at the audience making motion that he was embarrassed by applause. Oh yes, he knows how to ham it up.
As soon as the song was over with, Ian started picking out the intro to “Thick as a Brick” on his small half sized guitar. The best show in town was well on its way. With the faithful steed of Martin Barre at stage left, this band couldn’t play a bad note if they tried. The sounds of a distorted six string were raging through the heavy songs and on the slower songs “Lancelot” showed his dynamics as he played with grace. He has been right by Ian’s side since 1969 through everything. Just an amazing individual and a class act that no other guitar player wants to follow.
The man on the skins kept the tick tocks in line all night long playing difficult drum lines from a top his riser. He looked down to the band mates making eye contact during climatic interludes. Doane Perry drove some of the heavier songs from behind the Premier kit with power and has been doing so with this band since 1984. To a lot of the true fans, it would not be a Jethro Tull show without the big-foot of the bass drum.
Off to stage right were the newest members of Jethro Tull, Keyboard player John O’Hara and Dave Goodier. O’Hara duplicated the difficult keyboard parts of his predecessors with precision. Every single piece that he played sounded like the albums within the vast Jethro Tull library. Goodier stepped up and filled the mighty big shoes of the low end masters that came before him as well. The band even played “Bouree” with a newer and more melodic bass solo in the middle. The solo from the record done by Glen Cornick had been swept away and replaced by a newer more intricate piece. WOW!
Jethro Tull had been performing the entire Aqualung album during this U.S. tour that ended at the Rosemont Theatre. Instead of playing the complete album as they had done on this tour, the band compiled a special set list just for this show. As the set included all but three songs from Aqualung anyway, not too much was missed that was seen the night before at The Chicago Theater. Slightly different version of “Mother Goose” and “Up To Me” were a refreshing change to hear.
A white spot light hit the stage and Martin stepped into it to play the six most popular notes from this band. The six notes that put them into a heavier music class than what they really were. The drums joined in and “Sitting on a park bench ….. “ was uttered. The man who was being classified as a dirty old man for years by the unknowing because of the lines in this song was now performing the bands most popular hit. The title track “Aqualung” seemed to be what everyone had been waiting for. The coolest guitar solo, heaviest guitar parts, and thundering drums went on for six minutes during this classic rock song. They finished and the band waved good bye for the first time.
The crowd cheered and John O’Hara finally made his way back to the keyboards for one last song. He made a gesture and played the opening piece to “Locomotive Breath.” Across the stage Martin joins in with his melodic guitar riffs until everything starts to build when the rest of the band comes in and jams the introduction to a heavy classic rock anthem. A chord is held and out comes the leader with flute ready. The song starts and Anderson rides the song all the way to the finish line. Complete with guitar and flute solo in the bridge that was performed to perfection.
The song finished and Ian waved “bye bye – bye bye.” The band took their bow with Ian representing his flute in a phallic like gesture.  They took all their bows, waved goodbye one more time and galloped off for their dressing room. One of the coolest bands to ever hit the stage had just played and left a lot of people in shock as to how good they really are. They are a highly underrated band and it was quite clear how awesome they were as the crowd picked up their jaws that been sitting on the floor for the last hour.
The night wound down as the concert goers quietly made it to their vehicles. They walked past the parked WDRV promotion vehicle parked in front of the Rosemont Theatre as they said thanks to the radio station. The tenth birthday celebration was just an amazing time for everyone that attended. This was just a hell of a show to see. Jethro Tull and America? Together? …….. and it’s a free show? This is something that most music fans would have paid to see as it truly was worth the price of admission.


On an extremely hot day, straight out of Hades, concert goers gathered for the Bonnaroo festival in Manchester, Tennessee as they have done for a decade now. With only a thin layer of sun block on for protection, the area in front of the stage was filled up by young people flirting with potential sunburn from hell to see a fantastic band. Grace Potter & The Nocturnals took the stage in the afternoon and shocked everyone who was watching. They were just phenomenal!

From the beginning of rock and roll music, bands have made wonderful musical creations for the world to hear. They leave their stamp of art work out for everyone to experience. With Potter's recent top ten hit "Paris (Ooh La La)" it is quite apparent that they are really going to mark the world as their territory. As time slips by, we will find that Grace Potter & The Nocturnals have a lot to offer the music appreciators of the world. They absolutely rocked the hell out of Bonnaroo.

The confident Potter is a multi instrumentalist and showed off her talent through the set list despite the unbearable heat. The group of five musicians is one of the most talented groups of the day and it doesn't appear that they will be going away for a very long time. As they work in the footsteps of artists like the Kinks and James Brown, Grace Potter & The Nocturnals musical career will be something to watch as they rise to the top. They have had an incredible start and they really should be watched closely to see what tomorrow brings.

Grace Potter & The Nocturnals have played Bonnaroo several times before. They have been playing the fest consistently for a few years now. The charge of energy that comes from this band as they perform live is amazing. They have power like the Stones and know how to add in some melodic moments that may somewhat resemble a Pink Floyd style. Everything blends together among the technical guitars, thumping bass, and rumbling drums. With the talented eye candy of Grace Potter at the helm, this band is going to be just huge.

The band waved and said goodbye at the end of their set and left the audience pleased with a fantastic show. Grace Potter & The Nocturnals entertained the crowd with some good quality music. While they wowed the audience, all of their hard work could be heard within their music. It was quite clear that this group has been influenced by all the cool musicians of the 60's and 70's. Whoever they were inspired by originally, it melts down into a real good group. The mix of the musicians in this band and their influences makes this a group that would be very hard to contend with in skill and over all coolness. This group is definitely going to be leaving a lasting impression for rock bands to come.

Unfortunately, with all the heat that was present in Manchester, it was really hard to enjoy the incredible display of talent that was unfolding right before your eyes. Music fans bobbed their heads as they wiped the sweat from their brow. They were drinking anything and everything in an attempt to beat the Tennessee heat and they were losing. With temperatures in the upper nineties, it was almost impossible to enjoy anything while baking in an oven. This group would have been great to see in a cool, air conditioned environment.

After the festival was over, the rumors of a rough crowd came out. Allegations of thefts happened throughout the camp grounds. As the concert goers enjoyed the music, thieves lurked around camp sites. The happy concert goers came back to their sites only to feel violated. Over the course of the four day music festival, apparently a few bad apples helped to spoil the bunch. Very sad and heartfelt reports came out that a young lady was raped during the event. It does appear that this festival that is being referred to as a “mini Woodstock” was not all rainbows and puppy dogs.

Teenagers were running around drinking Red Bull and Monster energy drinks, as they passed their joints acting a fool. Under a tent a young man smokes a pipe of opium as two girls sit next to him holding a baby as they smoke marijuana. All sorts of drug paraphernalia was on sale at the fest promoting the use of drugs to the crowd. Skimpy clothing was a way to keep cool, but some Bonnarroo attendees chose a much freer clothing option, nothing.

Within the mix of musical acts comes a very wide demographic that was attending this show. Racist statements were made about having an artist like Little Wayne playing the same show with bands like Buffalo Springfield. Comments about “Wiggers” and “Niggers” made for a stressful time for some and were completely unnecessary.

Tickets for the 2012 Bonnarroo festival are on sale now, but there are a lot of things to consider before making a purchase. There is a huge potential for the entire weekend next year to be a gigantic heat wave as it was this year. There is a chance that concert goers could be involved in a violent crime. If you are at all worried about the heat or you are just too old and civilized, this may not be the show for you. If you do miss it, you could be foregoing a chance to see someone who is just a musical superstar like Grace Potter & The Nocturnals. They’ll leave you singing “Ooh La La La La La La La.”  



The Nocturnals

Matt Burr - Drums

Scott Tournet – Guitar, Harmonica

Catherine Popper – Bass, Vocals

Benny Yurco - Guitar, vox

Friday, 03 June 2011 12:48

Jann Klose in concert; Just awesome!

The winter has thawed, the temperatures have risen, and the rains wash away the evidence of the crimes called winter. The Skokie Theater (7924 N. Lincoln Ave. Skokie, Ill. 60077) was definitely the place to be for a little relaxing music and help the audience shake off the cabin fever they have been experiencing since the middle of October. Jann Klose stunned the crowd with musical moments that won’t soon be forgotten. Concert goers attended not just a concert, but more of a showing of ecstasy.
The lights come down on the stage that was set with care and the adrenalin starts rushing through your body as it becomes engulfed with excitement as the concert is about to begin. Seeing a professional musician perform is like taking a spin on a thrill ride at your favorite amusement park. They take you down a road sending you spinning with intoxication. The music provided by Jann Klose was the thrill ride for the evening. His voice and guitar work were definitely an “E ticket” attraction.
The Grammy nominated Klose spent the evening playing and singing his heart out. Nice selections from all five of his studio releases were played and a sweet set list of songs was laid out before the audience to enjoy.  A song performed to perfection was “Doing Time” from his 2007 release, Reverie. This song is truly a masterpiece and possibly the best song written by this artist so far. The peaceful little ditty has uniform, tranquil, serene moments that make it just a delight to listen to. “Doing Time” is a wonderful gem of a song!
The evening seemed to be packed heavily with good quality music by Jann Klose. His ability was apparent on everything he played. This artist touches your musical inner spirit down deep within your soul, and becomes a part of you. He makes your foot tap, your head bob, and moves you around the room. This musician actually becomes such a huge piece of your inner core.
Klose continued to strum his way through the evening playing one great song after another. The musical works of art were flowing from the stage. The singer songwriter started the show with confidence and everyone within the theater got to see a show that was fantastic and a great reproduction of his studio works.
As the night wound down, Klose brought to an end his presentation of musical greatness. He gracefully entertained a receptive audience. As he said his farewell to the crowd it was apparent that there was just a cordial musical presentation that could not be beaten.
With winter finally getting shown the door, the Skokie Theater had a very nice musical presentation that wowed everyone. Jann Klose shook off the cabin fever for the lucky individuals who were present to see the showing of ecstasy. The excitement was over and the ride had come to a complete stop.  As the concert goers exit this musical ride of excitement, they depart the theater speechless. They have never seen such a phenomenal show. Odds are they may never see a show this strong again. Jann Klose is just awesome!!
Friday, 07 January 2011 17:37

Jackie Mason: A comic’s comic

“A Jew never laughs without looking at his wife for approval.” – Jackie Mason

Funny is a good way to be classified if you are involved in comedy. For a comedian, it is much better to be classified as a “side splitter;” making the audience hurt from the joke because they laughed so hard. Ordained rabbi turned comic, Jackie Mason, has never been classified as just funny, but only a “side splitter.” He has always been a comic’s comic.

Seeing Jackie Mason tell jokes is like stepping into the ring with a prize fighter. He will hit you with so many jokes in the matter of just a few minutes that it hurts. First he will hit you with an upper cut of a one liner. Then he gets you on the left side and then the right side. As he keeps going he gets more and more powerful with each joke told. He doesn’t give you a chance to breathe and he knows he is funny.

Jackie has been involved in the performing arts for over six decades and has become a comical legend. If you look up funny in the dictionary you find a picture of Mason. His ability to take an audience and tear them up with his jokes is just amazing. Absolutely a remarkable comedian to see live.

Jackie started out in the “Borscht Belt” as a comedian in the 1950’s. He shortly after became an ordained rabbi in his mid-twenties. After three years of being a rabbi, Jackie quit the synagogue to become a comedian. He later stated that, “Somebody in the family had to make a living.” He had almost instant success. Everybody was starting to love Mason and his popularity began to grow by the early 1960’s. He had made a few appearances on the “Ed Sullivan Show” that jump started his career and finally released his first comedy album I'm the Greatest Comedian in the World, Only Nobody Knows it Yet! The ball was rolling for the young comedian as he started to gain some momentum. He was on fire!


Jackie Mason had an incident that caused him to be banned from the “Ed Sullivan Show” in 1964. During a Mason monologue, Ed Sullivan was off camera and gestured that Mason should wrap things up. The nervous Mason responded to Sullivan by telling the audience, "I'm getting two fingers here!" He then gestured back, "Two fingers for you!" All footage taken of his outburst didn’t show what Mason did with his hands. Sullivan was outraged and he was quite certain exactly what he saw. The ban lasted for a year and half and Mason made his final appearance on the show once the ban was lifted.

Mason bounced back and had a successful career within standup comedy, radio, television, and movies. He had multiple T.V. specials and appeared on several shows including “30 Rock” and “The Simpsons.” Mason also performed in the movies; “The Jerk,” “History of the World: Part I” and one of his funniest roles was as Jack Hartounian, in “Caddyshack II.” He referred to everyone at one point in the movie as a “fonzinoon” and then he gave the definition. “A fonzinoon is a guy who farts in the bathtub and bites the bubbles.”  

One of the roles that is most commonly miss-credited to Jackie Mason is the role of the Aardvark in the cartoon “The Ant and the Aardvark.” The voice was actually done by John Byner and was meant to be an impersonation of Jackie Mason. Apparently Byner did such a good job with the voice that he had most people fooled.

Currently Mason is performing a weekly morning segment on the John Oakley Morning Show in Toronto. Jackie comes on for a brief segment in the morning to throw in his two cents. He also completed a feature film called “One Angry Man.” The movie was modeled after “Twelve Angry Men,” but needed to be tailored to fit the Jewish comic. He also has completed another movie that is scheduled to be released in 2011. The movie is going to be opening in Florida and moving around the country. He is scheduled to be at The Horseshoe Casino’s theater The Venue (777 Casino Center Drive, Hammond, Indiana) on March 12, 2011.

In 2006, the organization Jews for Jesus used Mason’s likeness for a pamphlet. His picture was set next to the quote “Jackie Mason … a Jew for Jesus!?” Mason filed a lawsuit against the organization for the unauthorized use of his likeness and won. The court papers that were filed with Mason’s comments within the documents stating that “While I have the utmost respect for people who practice the Christian faith, the fact is, as everyone knows, I am as Jewish as a matzo ball or kosher salami. ”

Mason made claims that the organization had used his likeness to gain attention and try to convert people to their side of thinking. The group Jews for Jesus responded to the suit by saying, "Shame on him for getting so upset about this." The lawsuit settled, with Mason accepting the apology from the Jews for Jesus organization.

Mason has been accused of racism a few times over his career. In 1991, Mason made the comment about the mayor of New York, David Dinkins, that he was "a fancy schvartzer with a moustache." The NAACP criticized mason for his comments and he later apologized. After that he was accused of racism when a comic of Christian Arab Palestinian descent, was removed from opening for him at a Chicago appearance.

In 2009, Mason did it again. One of the worst people he could have said anything about was Barack Obama. During a live performance Obama was referred to as a "schvartzer" which in Yiddish and German it loosely translates into black or Negro. Later Mason’s comments came out trying to back pedal. "I'm an old Jew. I was raised in a Jewish family where 'schvartzer' was used. It's not a demeaning word and I'm not going to defend myself." A black political commentator Angela McGlowan defended Mason's comments and strongly disagreed that he was trying to use the term in a racist fashion. "It's easier to insult someone's mother than it is to insult Barack Obama," said Jackie. He had been chased down by reporters after the incident. He cursed at them and told them he has said worse things about other minorities.  

Mason has been making fun of politics during his entire career. He thrives off of the punch line. "If you wanted to hear politics, you'd go to Henry Kissinger, you wouldn't go to hear Jackie Mason. The reason I speak about politics is because I know I can get a laugh out of it. As soon as I tell a line without a laugh, I don't tell it anymore,” says Jackie.

This man’s comical career has been an amazing thing study and watch how it unfolded. So many comedians over the years have tried to be Jackie Mason, but there is only one problem. There will never be another Jackie Mason. He joke telling style is unique and no one can tell the punch line quite the same way.

As Jackie Mason enters into his sixth decade within the performing arts it doesn’t seem like the man will ever slow down. He has made people hurt from his jokes and stories in a clever way like no other comedian could. The side splitting ex rabbi has always been a comic’s comic and always will be.




Jackie Mason Quotes

"Eighty percent of married men cheat in America. The rest cheat in Europe."

"Politics doesn't make strange bedfellows, marriage does."

“It’s no longer a question of staying healthy. It’s a question of finding a sickness you like.”

“I was so self-conscious, every time football players went into a huddle; I thought they were      talking about me.”

"Did you know that the Jews invented sushi? That's right - two Jews bought a restaurant with no kitchen."

“I have enough money to last me the rest of my life unless I buy something.”

Music was coming from the monitors as the curtains started to open slowly. Fans peaked through to get a glimpse of the blue lit stage. The crowd was ready to see the main attraction at Chicago’s House of Blues on a cold December night. Sister Hazel started to play and any thoughts of the frigid temperatures outside were quickly forgotten. It was a fantastic night for music.

Chicago was graced with two shows by the band from Gainesville, Florida, Sister Hazel. The group came out and performed some of their best songs such as “All For You” and “Change Your Mind.” They brought out so many songs with the intentions of entertaining the crowd and that is exactly what they did. Going along with the holiday season they played the Christmas rock song “Run, Run, Rudolph” which had everyone dancing. The Soggy Bottom Boys would have been proud to see the song “Man of Constant Sorrow” to be played so close to the original. It was a flawless performance and sounded just like the CD.

Front man Ken Block led the band with the upbeat guitar oriented songs, to the vocally driven a cappella sections of other ditties. His lead vocals were sweet sounds to the ears. Vocally the entire band blended well with each other within every song. Ken’s acoustic guitar work was done in a fast paced strumming style. His guitar was a clear representation of how hard he plays. He was well on his way to wearing a hole in the body as a lot of country and folk players had done in the past.

The bottom end was provided by Jett Beres. He played the same five string bass during the entire show through a bass rig that could move the Earth. Within the main floor, the rumbling could be felt within your feet. He had quick fingers that played the kickass bass lines and a tone that made everything he played sound warm. He also has a very wide range vocally. He brought the definition of three part harmony a new meaning.

Completing the rhythm section is Mark Trojanowski on drums. His timing was better than any clock and his versatility was displayed on everything he played. He was completely on fire during the entire show. He showed amazing dynamics and at times he was a great example of playing less is more. He wasn’t on stage being an animal like other drummers have done. He knew how and when to hit with the absolute correct amount of force. He is just a solid in the pocket drummer.

A great asset to the band is found in Andrew Copeland. This guy provides rhythm guitar, keyboards, vocals, and a solid foundation of music within this rock band. What more could you ask for in a musician? His part within the band is holding down the rhythms and melodies. Within his role, he helps to fill out the bands musical style and sound. He is a very talented musician and it shows within his performance.

Last but not least is Ryan Newell on lead guitar. During every concert, the man who has the spotlight is always the guitar player. Ryan deserved every bit of it as he shined through on what he played. His guitar work is in the same league with some of the great guitar Gods. He played some intricate and flashy guitar riffs that amazed a lot of people within the room, including musicians. When he picked up a slide and moved it across the strings it was just magical.

The best part of the show was when the band broke into the middle guitar jam of “Hotel California” by the Eagles. Newell hit all the tough guitar licks from this classic rock anthem as if Joe Walsh was there himself playing it for you. He was backed up on the double guitar solo parts by Ken Block.

The band did the same customary routine as all other acts do. They pretend they are done with their show and leave the stage knowing damn well that they are coming back out for another song or two. For their encore they came back out and performed the song “Champaign High.” The acoustically based song had left the fans with a smile on their face.

During the show there was a positive energy that flowed around the room. Good, happy music was being played and the audience welcomed the sounds with open arms. As the show went along, the fans felt that positive energy coming from the stage and sent the feelings back to the band with applause and cheers.

The show had ended and the fans left the building. They huddled together in the streets attempting to stay warm as they waited for their cars to be brought to them. Smiles were everywhere despite the frigid temperatures.

Sister Hazel was just an incredible band to see live. Their ability as musicians is unbelievable. The entire group was on the money within all of the songs they played. Five guys performed as if they were one unit captivating the ears and eyes of the patrons at the House of Blues in Chicago. One word describes the show that was done and that is perfection! It was a fantastic night for music.

Thursday, 02 December 2010 18:09

Strictly Jug Nuts – A Band to See


It’s always a pleasure to see an act that is completely unique. Something they do is without a doubt nothing like any other group that you have ever seen. Their show, their gimmick, their music, takes you on a musical journey letting your mind roam freely. Within the band Strictly Jug Nuts, they have captured a live music show that is incredible, original, and leaves a warm feeling within you after they are done.



Strictly Jug Nuts came out to wow the crowd and show off their talent as they always do. Band leader Skip Landt hasn’t been playing banjo for a long time, but he has advanced well on his instrument of choice. For the kind of music being played it may not be the most technically difficult pieces, but to your ears it is magical. Landt helps lead this group of ten musicians into a masterful presentation every time they play.



The group covers some old songs such as “Summer-time” and “My Blue Heaven” that are done in their own style. They move along, chugging through music so effortlessly and always leaves a smile on the face of the onlookers from ear to ear. What an incredible act to see and they continue to amaze audiences.



In 2009, Strictly Jug Nuts was the winner of the Battle of the Jug bands competition. They beat out some great groups during their run for the head spot, but no one could’ve beaten them. The group is just that good. For the 2010 competition, they were invited back to lead off the competition with an unfortunate rule. The previous year’s winner can play as an exhibitionist, but they aren’t eligible to win. The group took the stage at the Irish American Heritage Center (4626 North Knox Avenue - Chicago, IL 60630) with their heads held high. All ten of them were proud to be back and they played as if they were going for the win. If they would’ve been able to qualify, they would’ve been in the running for the main spot again.



They played a few songs leaving your jaw on the floor. The song “Ragmama” was a great little number that had a nice feel to it. The song flowed as it was driven by the musicians. People tapped their feet to the sounds as the songs moved along. They also played three other wonderful numbers; “Richmond Woman Blues,” “You Shouldn’t Say That,” and “29 Ways.” It was a perfect selection of songs for this crowd that came out. Everyone was happy to see this group perform.



Five incredible bands entered the competition with the winner based on audience votes. Bands that entered the competition were: One More Thump, The Schticklers, The Hump Night Thumpers, The Slap & Tickle Band, and The Barehand Jugband. In the end, The Schticklers, claimed the top seat and Strictly Jug Nuts had to pass the torch on to a very deserving band of musicians.



In 2011, Strictly Jug Nuts will be back in the competition fired up and ready to go. As they practice their music and prepare for each and every show, they do so as if it is a competition. They pour their hearts and souls into the music; living their dreams of being a working musician. They are one of the most unique groups in the city of Chicago and really something to see. Strictly Jug Nuts is just awesome. Next years competition can’t come soon enough.




Musicians in the band Strictly Jug Nuts are:


Skip Landt – Banjo, Vocals


Chuck Krauser – Guitar, Vocals


David Kachelon – Harp, Vocals


Fran Landt – Jug, Kazoo, Vocals


Andy David – Guitar, Vocals


Ginny Morin – Spoons, Kazoo, Vocals


Richard Stowell – Mandolin, Vocals


Jacob Fishman – Washboard, Vocals


Petrie Fishman – Kitchenware, Vocals


Steve Brownstein – Electric Washtub Bass

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