Posts Tagged Entertainment

A Boy And His Guitar – Tony Lucca – Music Monday

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, there’s nothing quite like seeing music live. Well, last Saturday I got to attend the Tony Lucca show at The Prophet Bar down in Dallas’ Deep Ellum. I brought along my dear friend Kelly and had one of the best nights I’ve had in recent memory.

There were three acts slated for that night: Griffin Schmucker, Zach Balch, and the headliner Tony Lucca.

Griffin was…okay. The drummer was awesome, actually. Everyone else seemed to be going through the motions. They didn’t feel connected to the music. I blame this on Schmucker himself. He was a little too high on the smell of his own “glory” to care about servicing the audience or the music. He was serving his own ego. From what I have seen, that never works out well. Now, he may have just been nervous. However, when you mention you’re doing a charity show, you should know all about the charity instead of being dismissive about it. How can you get people to care enough to come out and spend their money on a cause if you don’t care? Further, he made some snotty comment about the audience not being able to spell his name so of course Kelly and I took out our phones and spelled it exactly right in order to Google him. Don’t talk down to me. Don’t assume your audience can’t do something. Don’t be rude to people there just because they may have come to see someone else. This is how you lose potential fans! Plus, he introduced only himself and his BFF the guitarist. Um, now you’re rude to the band? Wow. No, thank you.

Zach and his band were great, thankfully. Every one of them, especially Balch himself, was engaged in the music. They LOVED what they were doing and it showed. Sitting ten feet from the stage I could feel the drums in my chest. Especially, I enjoyed the two songs that were just Balch, his back-up singer, and a violinist.  The banter was great as well. He engaged with the audience, he engaged with his band, heck, he introduced them all and gave them credit equal to himself. He played to us, with us, and that is priceless.

That being said, Tony blew them both out of the water.

I knew he would, but I was not prepared for how MUCH he would. It was just him and his guitar up on the stage and yet he filled the room. He wove pictures and emotions that were touchable and filled up little corners in my heart. His banter was real and inclusive, reaching out to share his experience with us and make it ours. My favorite song was Anchored, a love song for Los Angeles. I also really enjoyed Fight Song, Long Love Letter, Starting Over, Foxy Jane, and Death of Me. If I don’t stop there I’ll just start listing every song off the three albums Kelly and I bought after the show.

At one point during the encore, when he was singing a song called Always, I felt tears filling my eyes and beginning to roll down my cheeks. Looking over at Kelly I saw that she was right there too. Now that, right there, is the mark of a master to me. He didn’t just fill our ears with joy, he touched our souls.

If that weren’t impressive enough, he didn’t just stand there playing his guitar and singing. He used his voice and the microphone as instruments in and of themselves. I’ve said that music is my drug and my religion. Well, some of the things he did with his voice made me feel like I was flying high and in church all at the same time. I wanted to yell “amen” and “hallelujah” after certain of the vocal acrobatics he performed.

After his performance, Kelly and I nearly tripped over ourselves to buy the three available CDs. As we stood there, clutching our treasure, Tony came out to mingle. I made a couple aborted attempts to speak to him, but was stymied by people wanting photos. Kelly told me to stop being shy and I smiled. When the young ladies wanting their photos were done, I touched Tony’s arm and he turned to face us, smiling.

Now, you all know I am a goof. I say embarrassing things to people who have awed me. So this was the portion of the evening where I babbled my thanks for his performance and that listening to him was like being in church, and how he was part of Kelly’s live show education. He took all of this in with grace and charm, thanking us for coming and for our kind words. He shook our hands, and we floated away, blissful. In the car, I realized that we had neither asked for him to sign the CDs, nor asked for pictures to be taken with our phones. Duh.

That being said, we had a fanTAStic time with just a boy and his guitar.

 

Who have you seen live recently? How was it?

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Fangirl Friday – Captain America (Beware Spoilers)

The First Avenger

Last week I saw Captain America in the theater. It did one of my very favorite things a period film can do. It remained true to the mind-set of the time in which it was set. I get really frustrated with period pieces that feature anachronistic sexuality **cough**Titanic**cough**. Heck, Cap didn’t even get to first base in this movie! Which, I must say, was a breath of fresh air. He was sexy (even as a 90 pound weakling, Chris Evans is gorgeous, but I might have a thing for skinny guys) and brave and honorable. I loved that the only kiss was actually stolen by a woman.

Respect meant something real and tangible once upon a time, as did honor and loyalty. Of course, that’s what Captain America as a character is all about, right? So it would have been extremely out of character to have him shag the woman he loved before they had even had a first date. Sorta like Superman getting drunk in a bar. Ahem.

The whole film was beautifully done from the beginning to the sneak peek at the end of the credits. The colors were lush and vivid. The acting was solid, consistent, and elegant. The script was tight, and flowed well. What? Superhero movies aren’t allowed to be great cinema? Look, critics can moan and bluster all they want about their elitist view of what makes for a good film. Nine times out of ten, I won’t want to see what they see as “great art” because it doesn’t entertain me. If I want stories of unrequited love, emotional abuse, or people muddling through a series of horrible life choices then I have my own memories to look at, okay?

To me, good movies help me escape, give me hope that better is out there. They affirm that good guys DO win and bad guys are obliterated. This film did that. Not because Cap was the paragon, but because there was someone out there who believes his virtues and morals are valid and showed that on the screen. Real life is crappy enough without being force-fed “realistic” films. Plus, the fight scenes and explosions were really cool.

So, what about y’all? What do you want in your entertainment? What movies get your motor revved? Is there a movie you think I should review?

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Fangirl Friday – Harry Potter – I Open At The Close

Coat of arms of Hogwarts, the fictional school...

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I blame Nick Rhodes. Honestly, almost all my fandoms can be blamed on a member of Duran Duran. I started reading the books when Mr. Rhodes made a (seemingly) offhand remark about Muggles.

Now, with the series at a close, I look back at one of the most influential series of our time. Reading had been on the wane until J.K. Rowling made it fun again. Make no mistake, there are lessons to be learned in the series. Things like friendship, loyalty, hope, and a score or more other virtues were woven into the seven books chronicling a young wizard’s growth.

Each book was darker than the last, which some folk complained about. I agreed with it. Our world gets darker as we grow older and accept more responsibility. Things get harder. We have to make more and more sacrifices. Even so, Rowling handed us Pandora’s box, with hope still fluttering around inside it. Hope that good will triumph over evil, that there are still honorable, kind people in the world.

I love those books for many reasons. First, they are an escape. Even if we don’t pay mind to the broader meanings, dragons and goblins and magic transport us out of our mundane existences to a more exciting place. Second, as stated before, they bring hope, a desperately needed commodity in this world. Third, they brought reading back. Justin Timberlake may have brought sexy back, which is all well and good, but bringing reading back in this age of instant gratification was nothing short of a miracle, yes?

People learned patience as they waited for each new book or film in the series. And even though there were those jerks who bootlegged things and put them up on the internet days before release, we still had to wait while they were being created. No matter what else she does in the future, J.K. Rowling has gifted the world with wonder, inspired new generations, and for that I will always admire her.

 

How did you all feel about the Harry Potter series? What did you learn (or just enjoy) while reading? If you’ve never read them, then why? Please share your thoughts here!

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Wordsmith Wednesday – Jim Butcher’s Ghost Story

Ghost Story (Butcher novel)

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I love reading. I mean, I’d rather read than do almost anything else. When my friend Laura handed me the book-on-CD of Storm Front, the first in Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series, I was very excited. Mostly because it was being read by James Marsters. Halfway in, I was hooked. I now own all the books and several of the books on CD.

Ghost Story is the thirteenth book in the series, and was just released. My mom and I both squealed with joy when it arrived from Amazon. Yes, you read that right. My 67-year-old mother squealed like a 13-year-old in anticipation of this book. I’ve read it through once already (in one day), and after I read it again for comprehension there might just be a spoilery review headed your way. Because, like Joss Whedon before him and George Lucas before him, Jim Butcher is my master now. If only I could figure out how to do that in the Star Wars font. Sigh.

What about you guys? What books, or series, turn you into a kid on Christmas morning the instant the get into your hot little hands? What author enthralls and entrances you the most?

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Fangirl Friday – Fandom Midwife

Today is a very special day. We’re going to talk about a beautiful event: birthing someone into a fandom.

Coming into a new fandom is a lot like being born. Sometimes it’s fast, easy, and plop! We’re in a new world full of promise and hope. Sometimes, it’s excruciatingly slow, with long and painful labor, and we emerge into a new life kicking and screaming. I’ve had both happen to me, and everything in between. The best experience though, is being someone else’s midwife. Guiding them into the world, watching their face light up, hearing them express their joy and wonder and opinions for the first time is… well, it can be addictive.

Currently, I am inducting my dear friend Kelly into the Buffyverse. She missed it the first time around, though her sister watched both the Buffy and Angel tv series, mostly because of her age. However, at nearly 21, she’s ripe for the humor and pathos woven into this particular universe of Joss Whedon‘s making. Plus, she prefers her vampires to NOT sparkle.

We’ve already finished seasons one and two, and are about to start season three. It’s so difficult when she says she loves this or that character to keep my mouth shut about their future on the show. Sometimes I’m very good about not spoiling her, but I do often slip up and blurt something out. For example? Every time Spike comes on screen, I give commentary. I can’t help it. I say things like, “did you see how, given a perfect opportunity, she failed to kill him?” Or, “Oh just wait! You’ll see!” And then I cackle. I smirk and cackle, causing her to glare at me.

My mom, who is watching most of it with us, doesn’t help. She’s always asking for spoilery knowledge when the suspense gets to be too much. “Is Jenny (Calendar) in the whole series? Oh, she’s gonna die, isn’t she?” I bit my tongue almost hard enough to bruise when she asked THAT one. It was such a relief when that question was answered on the show.

It’s amazing to see the conclusions Kelly draws. After “getting to know” Angel, she gave me the side-eye and asked if Stephanie Meyer based Edward off of him. I chortled with glee. I thought that too. I mean, they even have the same hair. Who knows if she did or not, but it’s fun to think about.

I can’t wait to get through the rest of the shows with her and, possibly, the comics. Then we can really get down to spinning theories! It’s absolutely fantastic to revisit familiar territory with new eyes pointing out things from a different perspective. She catches things that I never did, and I see and hear foreshadowing that I missed before, like Xander saying, “once more, with tension.”

What about you? Down what primrose path have you led a friend? Or what have they taught you? Are you still friends?

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Music Monday – The Soundtrack of Your Life

The first music I remember, really and truly know, is the Imperial March from Star Wars. You know, the music that plays as Darth Vader enters Princess Leia’s ship? That’s because that is actually my first memory. I was three years old, in the movie theater with my mom and dad, in 1977. When that music plays, it’s a visceral thing for me. My muscles tighten and my nerves hum with anticipation. Every cell of my body knows that music.

I have a similar reaction to Hungry Like the Wolf, the first Duran Duran song I ever heard. I was ten, and the twelve-year-old boy I had a crush on played drums on it with his friends for the school talent show in the spring of 1985. Instead of anticipation, this song fills me with the imperative to move, dance, and sing along. It fills me with life and light.

We all have those songs, don’t we? Songs that, by us listening to and loving them, have become a part of us. They make up the soundtracks of our lives.

Why are those songs so important? Music is good for the soul. It can be cathartic, helping to leach out pain or anger so that we can continue through our lives. It can help us express our joy, or even show our love to someone. It binds us together on a level that can’t be reached through speech alone.

What happens when people hold candle-lit vigils? That’s right, they begin to sing. It’s usually something simple that one person starts and gradually others join in. Why? Because it brings them closer, chases away the darkness.

I always joke that music is my drug of choice, but it’s true. Wagner’s Flight of the Valkyries can get me emotionally high for hours, as can Walkin’ on Sunshine by Katrina and the Waves. Eclectic, moi?

Skeptical? Go to a concert, a really good one where the band (or singer) engages the crowd. Ride the wave of hundreds or thousands of people singing and dancing and chanting along.

Let me know, what songs get you high? What’s the first music you remember? What gives you that visceral, gut-and-soul reaction? What is the soundtrack of your life?

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Fangirl Friday – All You Need Is Live

Welcome to a new edition of Fangirl Friday! Snowbound in the frozen north (of Texas) mostly because I’m afraid of the loony toons on the road who have no idea how to navigate in weather that we normally don’t get, I’m pretty cozy. It’s all Duran Duran‘s fault.

Last night, I got to see them play live with two of my best friends and one of my sisters. Y’all, I’ve got a confession to make. I am now in love with All You Need Is Now. All the problems I had with it were absent in a live performance. It was a short set because they shared the evening with two other acts, but it was a lovely way to induct my friend Kelly to the wonders of Duran Duran live. Laura and I had spent the morning and afternoon “schooling” her in the ways of Duranies, playing songs they were likely to play, teaching her some of the audience participation stuff they like, and so on.

We braved the icy roads and idiot drivers to get to the Verizon Theater for the Pepsi Super Bowl Fan Jam and ran into my sister, Alia, who had scored a free semi-VIP ticket thanks to one of her friends. After they had been ushered away, our threesome went to find our seats… in the far right corner where we could barely see the stage. While that seems bad, that was a pittance compared to how badly VH-1 managed the evening. But I get ahead of myself.

Don’t get me wrong, we had a fantastic time. That, however, was due to the excellent performances despite the poor management of the event. In a three-performer show that started at seven at night, Duran was billed second. That usually means they play second,or at least they would at any other such event. What that means is that Duranies who had no desire to see the first act has no way of knowing that Duran would actually go on first, their bits being recorded to air in the middle of the televised event. Thanks to Twitter, some knew that Duran would be up first. Thanks to my personal paranoia of being late to anything, our group arrived just after the doors opened at six. We saw the Twitter notice after Duran had played.

 As soon as it was announced that Duran was taking the stage, the three of us jumped up, manning our far out post like good soldiers, cheering, hollering, and dancing to save the world. Admittedly, it had been a few years since I’d last seen them, and hearing them again, even at our far away station was happy. They opened with a classic: A View to a Kill. In the proverbial fan groove, when they announced  they were playing a song from the new album, I was admittedly apprehensive. My friend Laura said that my face and posture actually fell at the prospect. However, midway through the first verse, I finally felt what other fans have been saying this far. I was caught up in the brilliance of Being Followed to which my friend next to me was going crazy.  After the next song, Hungry Like the Wolf, VH-1 stopped the show and made my band wait on stage. SOMEONE MADE DURAN DURAN WAIT. I started ducking for fear of flying pigs.

We waited, mostly impatiently, and then a miracle happened. Laura thwapped my arm, pointing. “There’s your sister.” Sure enough, there she was. She leaned over the railing with a half-smile and gestured. I couldn’t believe it. She was inviting me to come with her. Eyes wide, I said, “Can they come with me?” She nodded and the three of us chased her across the venue until she turned into the pit, and they let us down into the pit! And we SCREAMED. The difference was amazing. The band chatted on stage, and my fangirl heart was imagining all the ways they were thrilled to see us get to move closer. Surely we’d made enough ruckus from way out in proverbial left field to get us noticed. And surely we made their evening by cheering like mad women from where we stood a few dozen rows back. I’m almost certain our little group caught at least Simon’s eye once or twice. I mean, Duran knows who belongs to them, you know?

The rest of the concert passed in an overheated blur including two new songs, All You Need is Now and Girl Panic, as well as such classics as Notorious, Come Undone, (Reach Up for the) Sunrise,  and Girls on Film. My sister even took video of me dancing without me being in any way aware of her doing so. I do remember, however, that the two men in front of us just standing there like lumps actually started to clap and dance after a song or two of us singing along and screaming behind them. The big surprise of the evening was that we didn’t hear Rio! Don’t get me wrong–I’ll never turn down Rio if someone happens to play it. However, for the last ten years, the band has closed EVERY show with this song, and I do mean every. When I hear Rio I start mentally preparing to leave wherever I am. To not hear it was lovely.

The joy of the evening, however, was introducing Kelly to one of the loves of my life. Kelly’s a bit younger than me, but she’s been incredibly gracious to indulge my hobby. I was far more excited about taking her to the show than myself even. I wanted to witness that joy I remember feeling when I first saw them live. And as I mentioned before, Kelly didn’t have the history with them that I did. Her main frame of reference for the band was having played along with their music on “Band Hero.” Bless it for existing. So when they concert started, she knew almost none of the songs, despite her brief introduction to the band. She cheered and danced and clapped along with us, and I figured at that point it was mainly due to being swept away with the crowd. All that changed when Girls on Film played. I looked to my left and there she was, screaming loudly enough to be heard above the others, twenty-year old hands in the air waving, and cheeks pointed so far skyward I thought she might float away! She bounced and danced along finally really feeling like one of us. The energy rolling off her was restorative for me, knowing that my well-aging band could capture an entirely new generation who weren’t born until after their fame had withered away. In that way, the band definitely has a point: all I needed was now. Right that moment when we were all surrounded by pure joy and magic. My ego forced my chest out a bit because for all time I will be part of Kelly’s first memory of Duran Duran. In that way, my legacy lives on with theirs.

When we got home, we stayed up to watch the re-airing on VH-1. If I hadn’t been there, and had to rely solely on their representation of the concert, I would’ve been incredibly disappointed in and for my boys. Their set looked short (only 2 songs aired), boring, and the fans look disinterested when they were shown at all. Which brings me back to the subject of my post. Live shows. Nothing beats live. Don’t ever think that seeing a concert aired on “live tv” is the same as watching my band live. If you can go: GO. Always. Every time. No exceptions. No matter how tired, no matter how complicated, no matter WHAT–make the effort. I’ve yet to regret it.

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