Weekly Wilson - Blog of Author Connie C. Wilson

"There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries." (Julius Caesar; Act 4, Scene 3).

Category: Music (Page 2 of 13)

Bette Midler Plays United Center on June 18, 2015

Bette Midler peered out at the crowd of all ages and said, “It’s nice to see so many of my fans are still able to drive at night.” I laughed out loud. Bette and I are contemporaries, and there is much truth in her meant-to-be-funny remark. Later, when she said that a new Apple Watch was “the first step on the road to douche-baggery,” I laughed loudly again from my seat in the rafters, as my son had just received his watch in the mail that day (a prize from his work, PSI Metals of Germany, for creative thinking on a “brainstorming” competition.) Bette sported a short pink number with lots of sparkly bits at the hem, neck and sleeves for the opening numbers and went through a few costume changes, but nothing like Cher, for example. Her final outfit onstage was a red, glittery sequined number that was quite form-fitting, and the 69-year-old looked good in it. (She said, “Don’t I look good?” as the concert opened.) Bette worked in all the favorites I wanted to hear the most, especially “Wind Beneath My Wings” (from “Beaches”) and “From A Distance.” Her encore number, with 8 musicians backing her on trombone, saxophone, cornet, percussion, etc., a la Bruno Mars’ band, was “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B.” If I had any criticism of the night, it would be that Bette didn’t resurrect “Delores Del Lago, the Toast of Chicago,” except in some flashback photos, which I will post if I can. If you see a seam down the middle, that is because these were images flashed on the large screen backing Bette. The two side screens did not seem very large, another minus if you were as far away as it was possible to get and up high. (Thank heavens for my 30 zoom). From here, I’m going to try to post photos, which may or may not work out, for me, but where there’s life, there’s hope, and you’re getting this from someone diagnosed with (borderline) diabetes and cancer (squamous skin) in one week, so I’m hoping.

 

Ben Folds Performs with the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra on June 6th, 2015

Ben Folds (formerly of the Ben Folds Five) performed with the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra on June 6th at the Chicago Theater.

As he has done since an enthused audience member shouted out, “Rock this bitch!”, Folds composed an original composition with the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra members.

We were in the 7th row, almost exactly where this video was shot, and it is truly amazing to watch creativity in action.

Here is the film:

Razzleberries Christmas Cats Appearance on Dec. 6, 2014

Holiday Appearances for The Christmas Cats

2014 “I Heart Radio” Show in Las Vegas on Sept. 19, 2014

“Coldplay” performing at IHeartRadio Show 2014 in Vegas on 9/19.

 

The I Heart Radio show in Las Vegas on September 19 (Friday) was a star-studded affair, the fourth such gathering of the most popular artists performing today. Lorde, for instance, (whom I did not get to hear) was scheduled to perform, as was “One Direction.” For months, the airwaves have described the show as “sold out.”

I attended the very first I Heart Radio show in Vegas, and soon learned that my version of “sold out” and the radio station’s idea of “sold out” are two different things. There were plenty of empty seats at that first concert, as the venue at the MGM Grand is a huge arena not unlike our local civic center and seemingly as large, inside, as the United Center in Chicago.

Therefore, when I knew we were going to be in Vegas for other reasons, I asked the concierge at Mandalay Bay to see if she could secure a ticket and—guess what? “They just released some more seats.” Nevermind that the seats were high up in the nosebleed section: for $150 I got to hear/see Taylor Swift, Coldplay, Ariana Grande, Motley Crue, Usher, Alesia Keys and some local D.J. named Steve Aoki. I learned that other younger performers, many of them rap artists like “Lil’ Wayne” were performing in a field opposite the Luxor the next day (Saturday), outside. Therefore, I opted for the  six-hour concert taking place inside and, aside from nearly falling down the stairs two times (I was about 8 rows from the top) when the concrete stairs gave way to less sturdy ones, it was a great show. Certainly it was far more topical and current than acts like Donnie and Marie, who were performing elsewhere in town.

 

I took my trusty 16 zoom camera and captured some shots which I will share with you here, and I attempted to upload video footage, although my first attempts to mount it here have been a bust.  We’re back in the Midwest now, but the 50th Chicago Film Festival commences soon, so stay tuned for more interesting posts, as I have the ability to see documentaries from around the world and feature length films, as well. Additionally, Oliver Stone, Liv Ullman, Michael Moore and Kathleen Turner are just a few of the big names expected to grace the Festival this anniversary year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quad City Symphony Pops Concert in LeClaire Park on September 6, 2014

Saturday, September 6th, the Quad City Symphony Orchestra, now celebrating its 100th anniversary, staged its annual Pops Concert with Michael Cavanaugh. Cavanaugh sang and played the songs of Billy Joel in the play “Movin’Out,”(which I saw in Chicago on my birthday some years back). Cavanaugh was also very good at involving the audience and joked about the train that inevitably came chugging through the area during the concert.

Centennial Bridge in the distance, near sundown, on September 6, 2014, Saturday.

Centennial Bridge in the distance, near sundown, on September 6, 2014, Saturday.

This time out, the advertisements suggested that Cavanaugh would be singing the songs of Elton John, but Elton John was just one small part of his repertoire this cool, fall-ish evening.

We held off on buying tickets to the event because it rained buckets just the day before. (I know; I was caught in it as I entered the Jewel Food Store on Kennedy). When it became apparent that the evening was going to be dry and relatively warm (temperatures dropped to the high fifties at one point, but, for most of the evening, it was comfortable) we decided to drive over and give it a shot—-somewhat late.
Because we were late, the $40 ($20 per adult) price tag seemed a tad high. We first stopped at the Front Street Brewery and, eventually, wound our way over to the grounds. By this time, the concert was well underway and we were outside the fence, somewhere near the entrance to the Rhythm City Casino. Did we want to shell out $40 for the remainder of the concert, or would we be happy simply listening to the tunes, like all the boats pictured on this page?
We set up our lawn chairs near what appeared to be permanent rest rooms (which were inconveniently locked). For the rest of the concert night, we would advise various concertgoers that the doors were locked. It was somewhat amusing to watch both men and women attempt to enter, only to be stymied by the locked building (which does bring up the question, WHY would the city lock this building on the night of a concert that supposedly drew a crowd of 10,000 ?)

 

Impromptu football field immediately in front of the lawn in front of the band shell.

Impromptu football field immediately in front of the lawn in front of the band shell.

As we approached, we heard a Paul McCartney tune (“Live and Let Die”) and, as time went on and we enjoyed the new Ferris Wheel that has been erected near John O’Donnell Stadium (which, I realize, has a newer name now), we heard all sorts of melodies that were not Elton John tunes. I recorded one (“Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”) which the soloist said was his favorite tune. The “Riff Raff” piece contained refrains from songs such as “I Love Rock and Roll” and “Eye of the Tiger,” so, no Elton John there, either. And the crowd request was a Billy Joel song, which seems apropos.
After the concert seemingly concluded, my husband was intent on getting out ahead of the traffic, so we missed (a) the 1812 Overture, a tradition (b) the cannons being fired over the Mississippi and (c) the fireworks that accompanied this finale. By that time, we were back in the patio section of the Front Street Brewery, listening to the cannons and enjoying crab cakes.
P1040033I had not been to this concert since the year they advertised a Motown program. The group that year wasn’t very good and an elderly woman with a walker fell on the uneven sidewalks right next to us inside the park. We ended up dialing 911 and helping her, so I don’t remember much about the concert experience, except that the singers were off-key. (I heard the Beatles one later was good, however.)
One bit of good news: Yo Yo Ma is coming to town to play with the Symphony. I saw him with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and he was wonderful.

Bruno Mars @ Tinley Park (Chicago), June 20, 2014

P1030641Bought tickets for Bruno Mars at Tinley Park on the lawn to celebrate Amanda Burkert Kelly’s graduation from Western Illinois University. We were so far away that Bruno was pretty much a speck, and my attempts to sneak closer to shoot video were met with resistance from the PTB. However, I did get the following pictures and really bad video.

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Queenbert (Adam Lambert & Queen) @ the United Center, June 19, 2014

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Alex Preston Bites the Dust for Finals of “American Idol”

Last night, while I was enjoying “Motown, the Musical” at the Oriental theater in downtown Chicago, Alex was eliminated from “American Idol” in one of the more anti-climactic developments in the competition. In fact, earlier in the day, I had tweeted that it looked like our new American Idol was Caleb Johnson, no matter what. It was simple logic that dictated that Alex would get the boot this night. It would be so much “neater” and “easier” if the two were most comfortable onstage (Caleb and Jena) got the nod.

Which they did. The “Finals” will be Caleb (who had injured his vocal cords when he appeared on the show on Wednesday) and Jena (who should really just give up and spell her name “Gina” if she wants everyone to pronounce it that way).

Caleb has been consistently the Powerhouse and, with the routine exception that Harry Connick, Jr., wanted him to sing fewer shout-out-loud numbers and more ballad-like beautiful songs, he always had the best production values: things exploded, microphone stands were trashed; fire—all the usual histrionics onstage. Gena had one good night with glow-in-the-dark sticks and, at only 17, she definitely has a bright career ahead of her.

On the other hand, what was the name of the girl who finished second to Philip Phillips? You don’t remember: Join the club.

I do think Jena (say it “Gina”) will go on to greater glory because she is so comfortable onstage AND has a good voice AND can play piano while singing (no small feat.) The voting found her in the bottom 3 one night during the competition, however, so that bodes ill for her winning it all.

We both went off to watch the fantastic Broadway hit (me for the second time) secure in the knowledge that it would be Jena and Caleb, with Caleb winning. And we were right.

“American Idol” Boots Sam Woolf on Thursday, May 1st, 2014

HarryConnickJrAt the end of Thursday night’s “American Idol” program, Harry Connick, Jr., could be seen mouthing the words, “I didn’t see that coming” to his fellow judges.

What Judge Connick was referencing was the surprising vote given to the 5 remaining contestants, where those still standing could stay together as a team of five and two would be voted off next week, instead, OR one contestant would bite the dust, as per usual.

My spouse commented, “Well, this isn’t exciting at all. You know they’re all going to vote, ‘Yes, stay together as a team of five.'”

Except that they didn’t.

The vote was (supposedly) anonymous and TWO of the five remaining contestants said, “Lower the boom.” And Sam Woolf was let go, as a result.

I am going to speculate a moment on who may have voted to use the guillotine this night.

First, it is quite obvious that Caleb Johnson is going to be in the Finals unless there is some very unusual circumstance that arises that I cannot predict. I have been of the opinion that Jena Irene would be the second finalist because she is, quite obviously, the most at ease on stage, despite her relative youth (17). The others left in the competition are Jessica Meuse, who had a good night on Wednesday, and Alex Preston, who also was viewed favorably by the judges.

Personally, I thought that Alex Preston would get the boot. He is a good musician, but he has no “cools” and what’s with the no socks look? If the group of five HAD voted to boot two out next week, instead, my spouse and I were convinced it would be Alex and Jessica. [Perhaps we should have remembered that Sam had to be “saved” by the judges and has been in the bottom three more than once.] But we didn’t remember that. We both thought that Alex, while a good musician, was too geeky for the finals and that Jessica is the lesser talent of the girls.

So, we now have four finalists: Caleb Johnson of Asheville, North Carolina; Jena Irene of Farmington Hills, Michigan; Alex Preston of Mont Vernon, New Hampshire; and Jessica Meuse of Slapout, Alabama.
They are listed in the order I think they may finish, but, again, Alex and Jessica, for me, are interchangeable entities. What he has over her in musical expertise and artistry, she has over him in appearance, presence and cools.

If I were a betting woman, I’d guess that Caleb voted “no” to “sticking together as a group” (so much for the good times P.R. the show churns out each year). Caleb probably just wants to get to the end and get the golden ring, which it looks like he will do.

As for, “Who was the SECOND “No” vote?” I’m guessing it wasn’t Sam Woolf, but I wouldn’t put it past Alex or Jessica or Jena Irene to oust one of the others. After all, it’s a competition and they all want to win.

But who will? Caleb, of course. The Big Question is: who will come in second?

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