Welcome to WeeklyWilson.com, where author/film critic Connie (Corcoran) Wilson avoids totally losing her marbles in semi-retirement by writing about film (see the Chicago Film Festival reviews and SXSW), politics and books----her own books and those of other people. You'll also find her diverging frequently to share humorous (or not-so-humorous) anecdotes and concerns. Try it! You'll like it!

Category: Music Page 1 of 15

Connie plays 4 musical instruments and her daughter is a graduate of Belmont University in Nashville with a degree in Music Business and once worked for Taylor Swift. She may comment on concerts or reminisce on concerts of old.

Dave Grohl & Foo Fighters Respond to “We Are the 1,000” Documentary with Concert in Cesena, Italy

The heartwarming story of a small Italian town (Cesena, Italy) and its wacky crusade to convince Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters to come give a concert in that town is the central drama of “We Are the Thousand,” a film written and directed by Anita Rivaroli.

Even more inspiring in this story about Fabio Zaffagnini’s creative approach to the problem of getting one of the most popular bands on the planet to visit a town of roughly 100,000 residents is the joy that the participants created in organizing and launching their hare-brained project and, in the process, creating an enduring musical monster.

Make no mistake: this was a Herculean task that the team worked on for over a year.

“We Are the Thousand” (SXSW Photo).

The idea was to gather 1,000 musicians and have them all form one big band. The first (and only) song they were all going to try to learn to play together was Grohl’s “Learning to Fly.” The crew set to work crowdfunding and trying to raise the roughly 40,000 Euros that was the bare minimum needed for the project. Among the problems: not enough headsets for everyone and no money to buy them.

There also was the matter of the distance that sound travels and how the members of the group would manage to play in synch, when they were going to be filling the Parco Ippodrome, a large outdoor race track area near Cesena. That was when one of the organizers thought up the idea of a visual metronome, like a stoplight, which the drummers could see and, therefore, keep on the beat together.

Musicians from all over Italy and Europe, hearing about the project, sent in videos of themselves playing their instruments or singing. From those rough “auditions” the 1,000 were selected and—at their own expense—told to show up on July 26, 2015, to be part of the event.

The “Rockin’ 1000” were from all walks of life: truck drivers, doctors, perfume shop workers, you name it. One said, “We’re forced to live a normal life to support our dreams. So we keep our shitty jobs to keep our dreams alive.” Another shared, “It was about achieving something.” Termed “a sociological and musical experiment,” the band is shown taking a pledge not to showboat and/or show off during the practice sessions. Then they begin rehearsing.

The drummers, all drumming in unison, “felt like an earthquake” said one participant. Another said it was as though a shock wave had gone through the arena, as the musicians were “flooded by sound.” And the sound is pretty good!  As the organizers said, “An engine like this can take us a long way.” Another added, “It gave me goosebumps in every language in the world.”

With the guitars, singers and drummers playing their hearts out—(although cautioned, “Don’t hit the drums like a madman!”)— the one thousand became “the biggest rock band on Earth.” Said one, “What we did here is just a huge, huge miracle.”

After the video shoot of the gigantic rock band performing at Cesena’s racetrack, the plan was to post the video, asking Grohl and the Foo Fighters to come play a concert in the small Italian town. Once posted, on July 30th,—four days after the performance— the video began to climb in hits: 10 million hits—-15 million hits in 3 days—-26 million hits. It finally got Dave Grohl’s attention. He explains (in Italian), “Well, now we have to come. It’s f***ing amazing!”

“We Are the Thousand” (SXSW Photo).

There are then the scenes with the band members attending a Foo Fighters concert and, for some of them, playing alongside Dave Grohl. Fabio’s crowd-surfing to the stage was one of the highlights of the film. Actually getting to meet their idols is obviously life-changing for the band members. “It changed the spiritual current. It changed how people think,” said one.

Fabio from Fasignano does not disappoint, continuing his efforts to maintain “the biggest rock band on Earth” and entering the arena dressed in a robe that says, “The Italian Stallion” (a nod to the movie “Rocky”).

The extreme joy of producing music with others is not to be under-estimated. Renato—a participant from Perugio who had just received a bad health diagnosis—described the act of playing in the band as better than any therapy he might have asked for and, one year later, is still playing with “the Rockin’ 1000.”

Cinematographer Pasquale Remea has captured the elation of the crowd and the joy in human community that music can and does provide. It’s a feeling that those who have participated in a band or an orchestra or a chorus or a choir can relate to and even some of our most influential films have acknowledged that music is “the universal language,” as Spielberg’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” testified.

This documentary (in Italian, with English subtitles) is a feel-good film for our time. It goes on well past the triumphant Dave Grohl scenes to show that the sheer joy of producing harmony is as euphoric, in its own way, as making a dream come true through hard work, creative thinking, dedication, and an influential video that achieved its goal.

 

James Corden, on January 19th, Salutes the Inauguration with “One More Day” from Les Mis

Sergio Rizzuto on September 10th “Weekly Wilson” Podcast

Sergio Rizzuto as The Pardoner in “Hard Kill,” opening 8/25

I passed the halfway point in podcasting tonight, with the 27th show in a year-long commitment on the Bold Brave Media Global Network. The show is entitled Weekly Wilson, just like my blog, and, aside from not being able to do a show after the derechco of August 10th knocked out my Internet and our power, things have run fairly smoothly…..until tonight.

My sincerest apologies to guest Sergio Razzuto, who was a trooper in soldiering through the several times we were knocked off the air by “technical difficulties.” Said Perry, the engineer, ‘Don’t let the listeners know.” Uh…..do you think the several minutes of dead air might be a give-away? I will say that this was the very first time we’ve actually been knocked off the air while the show was in progress.

The show uses Skype and, for some reason, we were hung out to dry at least twice.

It was truly a rough evening on the air waves. I’m sure poor Sergio felt the same way!

The topics we covered were interesting. Sergio—who is related distantly to famous baseball player Phil Razzuto—was an interesting, articulate guest, who has credits as actor (17), producer (22), director (2), writer (2), cinematographer (1) and music (1). He has been acting since 2017, beginning with a small role on the TV series “Billions.”

There were also technical glitches with the sound quality that we traced to the speaker phone on Sergio’s cell phone, which we were able to address once we got on the air and stayed on the air.

Sergio Rizzuto, co-star of “Hard Kill.”

A true Renaissance man, Sergio shared that he possesses a restless creative spirit. He was awarded the ICE Award by Villanova for his interesting business ideas. He has also had a café in Brick, NJ (now closed); Fit Society with 1.5 million followers; E-MC Clothing, Buyu—an app described as a cross between Amazon and Craigslist, a clothing line with a Neil DeGrasse Tyson tie-in, and interest in all facets of the film-making process. Next up for Sergio is the starring role in a movie based on the real-life UFC welterweight fighter Josh Sammon who died, tragically, at age 28. On a completely different topic, Sergio has the ability to master a Rubik’s cube in something like 27 seconds. (Yes, it was in the movie).

Sergio played The Pardoner in the new Bruce Willis/Jesse Metcalfe movie “Hard Kill.” My thanks to him for slogging through the technical issues with me Thursday night. If, after reading my review here, you are interested in seeing a Bruce Willis popcorn movie, it is available on Amazon Prime and elsewhere.

Suzi Quatro as Leather Tuscadero on “Happy Days”

Suzi Quatro: “If You Can’t Give Me Love”

Suzi Quatro To Guest on Weekly Wilson on Thursday, June 25

Suzi Quatro, rock & roll legend, will be calling in to chat on the Weekly Wilson program of Thursday, June 25th.  (Bold Brave Media Global Network and Tune-In Radio; 7 p.m. CDT on Thursday.) U.S. audiences often remember Suzi best for her portrayal of Leather Tuscadero on “Happy Days” and her hit “Stumblin’ In,” which rose to #4 on the United States charts.

The official Suzi Quatro documentary feature SUZI Q, which charts the 54-year career of the pioneering female rocker who burst onto the scene in the 70s, is set to (hopefully) open in theaters July 1st and release on VOD and DVD with special bonus features on July 3rd, courtesy of Utopia. I watched it before the pandemic struck. I wonder, now, if the plans to release it in theaters represent yet another hurdle thrown in the way of one of rock and roll’s trailblazing female performers.

It’s a terrific documentary and very entertaining.

Once Suzi Quatro of Detroit City saw Elvis she knew she wanted to be him. In a way, she did become the female Elvis—just not in her own homeland. In the process, she had to overcome some family disapproval, causing her to say, “You’re gonna,’ at some point, pay serious dues.”

Her career was hampered when the man responsible for much of her promotional success, Mickie Most, a promoter who had discovered The Animals and the Yardbirds, quit guiding her career in 1980 with the expiration of their contract. Mickey had urged her to come to England in 1971 when she was just 21 years old. She was the first female bass player to become a major rock star.[2]:1–3[3]

In the 1970s, Quatro scored a string of hit singles that found greater success in Europe and Australia than in her homeland. She reached no. 1 in the UK and other European countries and Australia with her singles “Can the Can” (1973) and “Devil Gate Drive” (1974). Following a recurring role as bass player Leather Tuscadero on the popular American sitcom Happy Days, her duet “Stumblin’ In” with Smokie‘s lead singer Chris Norman reached No. 4 in the US.

Quatro released her eponymous debut album in 1973. Since then, she has released fifteen studio albums, ten compilation albums, and one live album. Her other solo hits include “48 Crash“, “Daytona Demon“, “The Wild One”, and “Your Mama Won’t Like Me”.

Between 1973 and 1980, Quatro was awarded six Bravo Ottos. In 2010, she was voted into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends online Hall of Fame. Quatro has sold over 50 million albums[4] and continues to perform live, worldwide. Her most recent studio album was released in 2019 and she also continues to present new radio programmes.[5]

This excellent film from Australian filmmakers Liam Fermager (director) and Tait Brady explains, “Suzi was the precursor to Joan Jett.” You could say, “Suzi Quatro was Joan Jett before there WAS a Joan Jett.” This message is driven home by riveting rock & roll footage of Suzi in concert and by such fellow artists as  Alice CooperDeborah Harry (Blondie), Joan Jett, Cherie Currie (The Runaways), Tina Weymouth (Talking Heads), Donita Sparks (L7), Henry Winkler (Happy Days), Kathy Valentine (The GoGo’s), KT Tunstall, members of the Quatro family, and many more.

“Suzi Q” portrays Suzi as the trailblazer and inspiration for a generation of women musicians to follow.  As the film says, “It takes a Suzi Quatro to come along and say, to other girls, this is possible.” Suzi is quoted as saying, “I was waiting for my shot” and “As soon as you make it big, they cut you to pieces.  At that time, rock was a male-dominated business.” She also notes, of her work ethic, “I’m obligated to be the best I can be. That’s the attitude I take to my shows.  You’re gonna’ get all of me.”

“Suzi Q” is the story of the girl from Detroit City who redefined the role and image of women in rock & roll. She broke through around the world in 1973. Since that year, she has sold 55 million records in a 54-year career. She was singer, songwriter, bass player, author, radio presenter, poet and she is still touring and recording music, with a new album, “No Control,” her 24th album, released in March, 2019.

Suzi started playing in 1964, ’65 and ’66, singing songs with lyrics like: “I’m a red-hot fox. I’m a wild one.”

Quatro moved to England in 1971, after being spotted by the record producer Mickie Most, who had by that time founded his own label, Rak Records. He had been persuaded to see Cradle—the group that included Suzi and 2 of her sisters— by Michael, the brother of the Quatro sisters who had assumed a managerial role. Like many in the record industry at the time, Most was seeking a female rock singer who could fill the void that the death of Janis Joplin had created. According to the Encyclopedia of Popular Music, his attention to Quatro was drawn by “her comeliness and skills as bass guitarist, singer and chief show-off in Cradle.”

When Mickey Most saw Suzi and her sisters—Patti, Arlene and Nancy—playing and singing, he only wanted the cute, petite bass player. That set the family unit on a path of jealous envy. Suzi, herself, says, “You can always look back with regret…It’s important to be validated by the ones you love the most….But when you look at what you have accomplished, you have to realize that the mistake is that people overlooked you. That’s their mistake.”.

Suzi’s look—leather cat-suit—was modeled on the Jane Fonda film “Barbarella.” Suzi had to leave the country she grew up in to make it. Make it she did, but having your record by #1 in Portugal, France, the UK and Switzerland is not the same as making it in the United States. Her self-titled album, although Number One in Australia, only made it to #142 in the U.S. Even today, she lives in Essex, Hamburg (Germany, a country which embraced her), and, sometimes, in Detroit.

In 1974 Suzi came back to tour America, not having been back in 3 years. When she went home, she discovered that all of her clothes and albums in her childhood home had been removed. She played 65 cities in 72 days and opened for Uriah Heep and Alice Cooper on the Welcome to My Neighborhood tour (April 4, 1978). She even made the cover of “Rolling Stone” (Issue #177). But even Clive Davis couldn’t get Suzi’s songs played in the U.S. on radio and, as Joan Jett says in the documentary, “The key to success in the states has always been radio.”

After the Alice Cooper tour of 1974, there was no real push for Suzi’s music and “Stumblin’ In”, which went to #4 in the U.S., was her highest-charting song in her home country.

Suzi spent 3 years (1977-1979) on “Happy Days” as Leather Tuscadero, playing the younger sister of Fonzi’s girlfriend Pinky Tuscadero. In 1980, following the end of her contract with Mickie Most, who had discovered her and nurtured her career, she signed with Chapman’s Dreamland Records. Dreamland Records folded in 1981, leaving Suzi without a record label.

Suzi had fallen in love with her back-up guitarist, Len Tuckey. They were married in 1976, at which point she had spent 5 years abroad.  Suzi spent 5 years after their marriage trying to have a child. She succeeded, giving birth to a daughter, Laura, in 1982. Her son, Richard Leonard Tuckey, was born in 1984.

The couple divorced in 1992, after 16 years of marriage. Lenny objected to Suzi’s taking a role in a 1986 production of “Annie Get Your Gun” playing Annie Oakley, saying, “You can’t do that and then sell rock and roll in the United Kingdom.” He added, “She didn’t want anybody holding her back.” Today, Suzi is married to German record producer Rainer Haas, whom she married in 1993.

SUZI Q positions Suzi as the trailblazer and inspiration for a generation of women who were to follow after her in the next decade, but whose  trailblazing status was not sufficiently recognized by the music industry and contemporary audiences, especially in North America.

The documentary SUZI Q reminds contemporary audiences of her pioneering influence, white-hot talent and string of incandescent rock hits (CAN THE CAN, 48 CRASH and DAYTONA DEMON) that were the vehicle for her explosion of gender stereotypes in rock n roll. She rewrote the rule book for the expected image of women in rock music and reached millions of people worldwide in the process.

 

Singing in Italy During the Pandemic

Low Cut Connie Fuels March 21st Birthday Party & Will Sing Again on March 23rd

Low Cut Connie, the South Philly group that emulates Jerry Lee Lewis in his prime, played a gig from the bedroom of lead singer Adam Weinert on Saturday, March 21st at 5 p.m. CDT. The group has, on a previous occasion, played the Rust Belt in East Moline, although we saw him at Lucy’s Fried Chicken in Austin, Texas, during 2019’s SXSW.

It was my husband’s birthday on Saturday, so we set up the television to give us the best experience of the show “live” as it played out. It was lively, but parents of small children should be warned that the language is sometimes “R”-rated. (What can you expect during a pandemic?)

The group will play another “live” concert online on Monday, March 23rd. For the exact time in your neck-of-the-woods and to be able to send remarks to the band as they play, go out to Facebook’s (or Instagram’s) Low Cut Connie page and check out the timing.

It has to be better than sheltering in place on a Monday night at home—right?

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“The Song of Names” Is Canadian Entry at Chicago International Film Festival

The program notes for the Canadian film “The Song of Names,” directed by Francois Girard, read as follows:  “Martin Simmonds (Tim Roth) has been haunted throughout his life by the mysterious ‘disappearance’ of his ‘brother’ and extraordinary best friend, a Polish Jewish virtuoso violinist, David Rapoport, who vanished shortly before the 1951 London debut concert that would have launched his brilliant career. Thirty-five years later, Martin (Tim Roth) discovers that David (Clive Owen) may still be alive and sets out on an obsessive intercontinental search to find him and learn why he left.”

Sounded promising. Tim Roth is good in everything he does, and I’m sure he would have been good in this had he been given more to do. I haven’t seen Roth with so little business to conduct in a starring role since he lay on the floor bleeding out in “Reservoir Dogs.”

THE BAD

Then there’s the matter of Clive Owen, a handsome fellow if there ever was one. Except when he is depicted wearing a beard that would make modern-day retired David Letterman proud. The explanation, in David Rapoport’s case, is his Jewish faith, which he rejects early in the film, saying, “Ethnicity is a skin you’re born in and will wear until the day you die.  Religion is a coat that, if it gets too hot, you can take it off.”

And take it off he does, with a grand flourish and a mock ceremony witnessed by his good friend Martin. The story arc we are then asked to accept changes a great deal from this point, where a “teen-aged” David is anti-religion, to the later point in the story, when David has become a religious zealot. Unfortunately, David never becomes likable or admirable and his treatment of others continues to spiral downward.

David came to be Martin’s good friend when David’s Polish father took him to London as a boy genius violinist at the tender age of 13, and Martin’s generous musician promoter father offered to raise the boy alongside his own same-aged son Martin. This temporary guardianship included making sure that David would be brought up in his Jewish faith and receive additional training on the violin.

It is not initially a marriage made in heaven between Martin and David. That is partially because young David (and, truth be told, old David) is an intrinsically unlikable fellow. He is vain, pompous, full of himself, narcissistic, a bit of a thief and rogue, and constantly telling people he is a genius. Think Donald Trump turned musician. As (bad) luck would have it, the Germans sweep into Poland while David is living with Martin’s family and the entire Rapoport family—parents and 2 younger sisters—are killed at Treblinka—although David does not learn this for certain immediately.

David, therefore, lives with Martin and his family for 12 full years, but apparently his allegiance to these kind-hearted surrogate family members is not strong, since, by film’s end, he wants no further contact with Martin, telling him so in a note. (At that point, each boy has lost all original family members, so the note that David leaves, post-concert, is quite brutal, begging Martin not to try to find him again. Martin’s wife Helen sums it up this way: “It’s probably the only unselfish thing he ever did.”)

Throughout the film I looked forward to the arrival on the scene of Clive Owen as the much-sought-after David, because at least the slow-moving scenes of violin-playing might give way to some masculine eye candy. There was one interesting and entertaining violin-playing scene staged in a bunker during the blitzkrieg, where David and another promising virtuoso violinist play. Think “Dueling Banjos,” only with violins. Musically, an “A.” Visually, most of the time with the violins,  not so much.

Imagine the disappointment when David is found after a 35-year search covering 3 continents and:

(1) his beard makes him appear to be a woodsman who has felled one too many trees

(2) he is an even bigger SOB than when he left Martin’s father in the lurch, which may (or may not) have led to Martin’s father’s death 2 months later from a stroke and financial losses incurred

(3) David does not even invite Martin into his home, after 35 years, and

(4) David takes Martin to a synagogue where we learn the true story of why David didn’t show up for the concert on that fateful 1951 evening. Later, after delivering on the 35-year-old debt of a subsequent concert (which we also watch onscreen), David disappears again, leaving behind his violin and a note asking that he never be contacted again.

So that’s the kind of treatment one hopes to receive from their last living relative on the planet. Right?

The true story of where Martin went instead of the concert hall explains the film’s title, “The Song of Names,” which has to do with a Jewish tradition where 5 rabbis memorized the names of all those who died at the German prison camps and, through oral tradition, pass them down first through singing the names and, later, by writing them down. The time required by 5 rabbis to read the many names of those killed in the concentration camps is 5 days, singing around the clock. There is also a bit of a twist in the story that David reveals to Martin, but it is revealed too late to save us from boredom consisting of watching people play the violin for 113 minutes.

THE GOOD

The solo virtuoso violin playing for real, done by Ray Chen, is excellent. The Budapest Symphony sounds wonderful. You can hear Eddie Izzard for a nano-second, pretending to be a BBC broadcaster covering the night of the first concert. The film is based on the acclaimed novel by Norman Lebrecht.

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