Views on pop culture through my eyes

Keith Urban in Concert
Thursday, October 20, 2016
Staples Center

Ripcord Tour 2016

Special guests: Maren Morris and Brett Eldredge

Songs performed: Gone Tomorrow (Here Today), Long Hot Summer, Break on Me, Where the Blacktop Ends, Making Memories of Us, Gimme Shelter, Somewhere in My Car, Blue Ain’t Your Color, Gettin’ in the Way, You Gonna Fly, Days Go By, We Were Us (with Maren Morris), Cop Car, Sun Don’t Let Me Down (With Nile Rodgers), The Fighter, You Look Good in My Shirt, Somebody Like You (with Brett Eldredge), John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16 (Jack & Diane, No Woman, No Cry), Wasted Time, But for the Grace of God, Stupid Boy, Raise ‘Em Up

keith-urban-ripcord-2016-tour-dates-tickets-infoComments: Keith Urban brought his Ripcord World Tour to the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The tour is named after his 9th studio album of the same name. He performed 7 songs from that album, plus a lot of his hits from throughout his career.

What’s cool about Keith is what a showman he is. He’s got the rock star good looks and tattoos. He is an excellent guitar player and banjo player too.

The stage had large video screens on the back of the stage. Plus there was a small stage on the other side of the arena that they used for a few numbers also.

He pulled one girl from the audience to duet with him. She had a sign that read “I need to sing with you to pass my final.” Keith asked her what song she wanted to sing and she said the Rolling Stone’s song “Gimme Shelter” (which Keith recorded with Alicia Keys). She was really going for it, even though her voice was just OK.

Both opening acts showed up in the show too. Maren Morris dueted with him on “We Were Us”; and Brett Eldredge came out with Keith on the small stage and sang “Somebody Like You.” Keith and his band actually made their way across the floor to the small stage, shaking hands and hi-fives when they could.

Keith’s music has gotten much more pop leaning in recent years. Not that there is anything wrong with that, cause that’s what’s popular on country radio. One of the highlights of the night was the encore, when Keith came out and did 2 songs with just him and his guitar: But for the Grace of God and Stupid Boy. He should do a whole concert unplugged!

The first opening act of the evening was Maren Morris. She broke through big time this year with her hit “My Church.” She definitely has a good voice. But she hasn’t developed her stage presence yet. I am sure she will develop it with more touring.

The second opening act was Brett Eldredge. I was impressed with him. He is touring behind his 2nd album “Illinois”. The crowd seemed to dig him as much as I do. This is probably the last time he’s an opener. He’s got a nice voice and a bunch of catchy songs — so don’t be surprised to be hearing more from him.

Thanks to Keith and his band for a great evening.

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Kilts lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

Gwen Stefani in Concert
Saturday, October 15, 2016
The Forum

This is What the Truth Feels Like Tour 2016

Special guest: Eve

Songs performed: Red Flag, Wind It Up, Baby Don’t Lie, Obsessed, Where Would I Be?, Cool, Make Me Like You, Underneath It All, Misery, Luxurious, Harajuku Girls, Let Me Blow Ya Mind, Rich Girl, Hella Good, What You Waiting For?, Rare, Go Ahead and Break My Heart, It’s My Life, Asking 4 It, Don’t Speak, Naughty, Used to Love You, Hollaback Girl, Truth, Just a Girl, The Sweet Escape

rs_600x600-160418075720-600-gwen-stefani-this-is-what-the-truth-feels-like-tour-41816Comments: Gwen Stefani made a triumphant return to the music scene with her latest album and tour — This is What the Truth Feels Like. She is celebrating her 30th year in music this year. She came out of Orange Country in the late 1980’s with the band No Doubt. With their mix of rock, reggae, ska and punk, they were a breath of fresh air on the music scene. Years of touring and recording have earned them a dedicated following.

Gwen released her first solo album in 2004 — “Love. Angel. Music. Baby.” It was followed by “The Sweet Escape” in 2006. So it has been a long 10 years since her last solo album. There was one No Doubt album in between there, but it failed to set the world on fire. Gwen’s marriage to Gavin Rossdale fell apart. And she started a romance with her fellow coach Blake Shelton from “The Voice.”

Both the dissolution of her marriage and her new romance feature prominently on the new album. And it is one of the year’s best if you ask me. The album features the hits “Used to Love You” and “Make Me Like You.”

Gwen put on a high-energy, non-stop party of a concert that featured hits from No Doubt and her 3 solo albums. She had a big production with backup dancers and costume changes. I especially loved the punk-rock inspired tartan ensemble she wore at the start of the show.

She thanked the fans several times during the night for getting her through the rough times in her life. She looked and sounded fantastic. And yes, Blake Shelton did show up for his lady to sign their duet “Go Ahead and Break My Heart.”

All night I kept asking myself, why haven’t I seen her before? She puts on a fantastic show. I would definitely see her again. One of the highlights for me was when she sang “Hella Good.” The whole venue was jumping literally! It was awesome to see.

And it was cool that she brought out Eve for the 2 songs: “Let Me Blow Your Mind” and “Rich Girl.”

Eve was the opening act. I was not familiar with her songs at all other than the Gwen duet. I am more familiar with her acting from the “Barbershop” movies. She had a few backup dancers, a DJ and a drummer. Lots of songs with attitude, you can tell she probably inspired Nicki Minaj.

Thanks to Gwen and her band for a awesome show! I loved it.

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Kilts lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

Dixie Chicks: We Missed Them

Dixie Chicks in Concert
Monday, October 10, 2016
Hollywood Bowl

Special guest: Elle King

MMXVI Tour

Songs performed: The Long Way, Lubbock or Leave It, Truth #2, Easy Silence, Some Days You Gotta Dance, Long Time Gone, Video Games, Top of the World, Goodbye Earl, Travelin’ Soldier,
Don’t Let Me Die in Florida, Daddy Lessons, White Trash Wedding, Bluegrass Instrumental, Ready to Run, Mississippi Landslide, Cowboy Take Me Away, Wide Open Spaces, Sin Wagon, Not Ready to Make Nice, Better Way

DixieChicks_1200L

Dixie Chicks

Comments: They’re back! And I couldn’t be happier that they are. The Dixie Chicks made a triumphant return to the concert stage this year. The show, the final stop on the MMXVI world tour, marked the first time at the Bowl for the ladies. It was also their first tour in 10 years. A lot has changed since then!

The trio composed of Natalie Maines (vocals, guitar), Emily Robison (banjo, vocals) and Marti Maguire (fiddle, vocals) first burst onto the national scene in 1997. They went on to have 4 successful albums, sold out concert tours and win 13 Grammy Awards. Things changed in 2003 after Natalie Maines criticized then President George W. Bush. They experienced quite a backlash from the country community. And they found themselves on the defensive.

They laid low pretty much for the last 10 years: family time, solo projects. But there was always a hope they would get back together. So it was definitely good to have them back.

The ladies have transcended their bluegrass beginnings. They have tackled country, rock, folk, and alternative sounds on their records. They are a breath of fresh air in the era of bro-country. And it is easy to see their influence in singers like Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert.

The show was a celebration of sisterhood and songs. The ladies had a fun camaraderie like they were real sisters (in fact Marti and Emily are). And I was happy to see that time and distance have not slowed down their liberal values. They had advertisements for — Planned Parenthood, Human Rights Campaign and for a charity helping wrongly convicted felons — playing before the show. They also took a few pot shots at Donald Trump too.

The Chicks performed songs from their 4 studio albums, as well as covers of Lana Del Rey and Beyoncé. Plus, they sang 2 new songs too, so hopefully there is a new album in the works. It was cool that they poked fun at the Presidential Election during “Ready to Run” — with funny images of all the candidates on both sides. I also enjoyed the unplugged segment in the middle of the set as well as the bluegrass instrumental. One of the highlights of the night was their cover of Beyoncé’s “Daddy Lessons.” Natalie commented that “Lemonade” was their favorite album to listen to on their tour. I was happy to see them (Beyoncé and the Dixie Chicks) perform it together on the CMA Awards.

Elle King opened the show for them. She has a nice bluesy voice and had a few good songs in her set including “Ex’s and Oh’s.” She also came out to sing “Landslide” with the Chicks. I did not appreciate that she forgot the words!

Thanks to Natalie, Marti and Emily for a fantastic evening! I really enjoyed myself. Don’t stay away so long!

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Kilts lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

My Mom

My mother, Marjorie LaVenture, died last week. How do you put words onto paper for someone you loved? Everyone here had a different relationship with her… this is my story.100_3551

I am a Momma’s boy — pure and simple. What used to be used as a way to put someone down has empowered me. This woman forever changed my life. And I will always love her and remember her for it.

I am the baby of the family, the last of the four children born to Marge and Don. She took care of me, loved me, supported me and encouraged me throughout my life.

She was the one who took me to amusement parks, movies and concerts. She had a passion for life, and was happy to share her interests with her loved ones.

She always emphasized the importance of relationships… be it with your family, or your spouse. Not to mention having a great relationship with God.

My Mom was easy to talk to. She was more than a Mom, she was my friend. She was one of the kindest and most positive person’s you would ever meet.

I am thankful she brought me into this world. For loving me, even when I didn’t love myself. For being patient and giving. For listening to me and advising me. For setting a good example of what a loving relationship should be in her relationship with my Dad.

I am grateful for her allowing me to grow and learn to become the man I am today. For instilling in me her love of music and movies, and for the time we got to spend together: Be it cooking, decorating for the holidays or just hanging out. I thank her for every birthday card, postcard and note she sent just because. For loving stuffed animals and giving some to me that I still cherish to this day.

This year has been one of great highs and devastating lows. My Dad’s birthday and my wedding were some of the highlights. I know that my Mom would have come to my wedding if she was able to.

Mom, I will miss hearing you voice. I will miss seeing you smile. I will miss you on every birthday, holiday and every day of my life. I will miss the Christmas sing-alongs and joy you brought to my life and so many.

I am a Momma’s boy and I am proud of it. I know she is in heaven having a feast (of everything she couldn’t eat for the last few years) with some friends and family.

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Kilts lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

Thanks for coming back. Part 2 features my reviews of CDs and TV shows. As always, comments are kindly welcomed.

CDs

Dierks Bentley “Black” Dierks is back for his 8th album. Special guests include Maren Morris and Elle King. Stylistically he is not presenting anything new for me, but it is still a solid record. “Somewhere on Beach” covers similar territory to “Drunk on a Plane.” The duet with Elle King “Different for Girls” is a bit of a sequel to Beyonce’s “If I Was a Boy” if you ask me. I hope it’s the second single. Grade: B-

Beyoncé “Lemonade” Queen Bey’s new project premiered as an HBO special, and an exclusive on Tidal. It is her follow-up her self-titled project. Again, we have a visual album and a music album. Stylistically it is her most diverse project yet: rock, reggae, country, gospel, R&B, ballads and more. She attacks the rumors of Jay-Z’s infidelity head-on. Ultimately it is story of female empowerment, especially black women. She is a force to be reckoned with. Grade: A

Kelly Clarkson “Piece by Piece Remixed” Her record company released this to capitalize on her triumphant return to American Idol in it’s final season. She sang a stripped down version of “Piece by Piece” which ended up going viral, and it instantly made it’s way onto the pop charts. You get new versions of 10 of the 16 songs off her last studio album. Grade: B+

Daughtry “It’s Not Over… the Hits So Far” Only the third American Idol alumni to warrant a greatest hits album, Chris Daughtry and company offer up only 2 new tracks on this collection (Torches and Go Down). It is still a great career overview, even if most of the songs are from the first 2 albums (the band has 4). Grade: B

Brett Eldredge “Illinois” This is his second album. I decided to take a chance on him since he is opening for Keith Urban on his tour this year. He’s got a nice voice, and I instantly liked some of the songs. Will see where he goes with his career. Grade: B

Ariana Grande “Dangerous Woman” Ariana’s 3rd album is just as good as her previous one “My Everything.” Contains the hit title track as well as “Into You.” And I am beginning to get a sense of her as a woman and an artist… something I wasn’t sure about last time. Grade: A-

Nick Jonas “Nick Jonas X2” Nick’s breakthrough solo project has been re-issued in a special deluxe edition with 7 additional songs. So you get the hits from the original like “Chains” and “Jealous;” plus remixes of those 2, and a couple of new songs too like “Levels” and “Good Thing” (with Sage the Gemini). His pop-R&B sound is finally starting to grow on me. Grade: B

Miranda Lambert “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” I am just catching up on this girl. And I have enjoyed every one of her releases. This is her 2nd album and includes the hit “Gunpowder and Lead.” So you get fiery uptempo songs with a ttitude and tender ballads too. Grade: B+

Little Big Town “Wanderlust” One of the year’s biggest surprises for pop music fans. This is the country group’s collaboration with Pharrell Williams, who co-wrote and produced the album for them. You get their trademark vocals, but the tracks are pop tunes for the most part. Danceable, fun, and definitely hook filled. I loved it the moment I heard it. Includes the fantastic first single “One of Those Days” — which is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Grade: A

Rascal Flatts “Changed” Rascal Flatts has never been much of a ground-breaker with their career. The country trio has a successful formula that they don’t mess with. So you get the big ballads, some good party tunes and nice vocals and harmonies. They have been consistently good through their whole career. Grade: B+

Blake Shelton “If I’m Honest” I am a fan of Blake, but this one is not doing much for me so far. “She’s Got a Way with Words” and the duet with girlfriend Gwen Stefani are the stand-outs for me. The rest is just OK. Hopefully it will grow on me. Grade: C

Sugarland “The Incredible Machine” This was the 4th (and so far last) album from the country duo. It contains the hits “Stuck on You” and “Tonight.” I hope that they get back together again to make some new music. Grade: B-

Keith Urban “Ripcord” Keith’s latest CD, has a few things in common with his last one “Fuse.” Is it country? If it is, it is very pop-oriented country. He has guest stars like Nile Rodgers, Carrie Underwood and Pitbull even on this album. I would love for Keith to try pop fully for one record, like Taylor Swift’s “1989.” That would be interesting. I believe Keith’s pop leanings, whereas with Tim McGraw it didn’t fit for me. Grade: B-

Jimmy Wayne “Sara Smile”
I first came to know this singer when he opened for Wynonna Judd on one of her tours. This is his 3rd album featuring the title track — a remake of a Hall & Oates song. They are featured on the song too. He’s got a nice voice, but some of the material is not up to par. Grade: C

 

TV

Animal Kingdom
Based on the Australian film of the same name, this TNT series follows the exploits of a crime family: a mother and her sons and grandson. The location has been moved from Australia to Southern California’s beaches. The cast is lead by Ellen Barkin and Scott Speedman. Everyone is good looking, and there is a decent amount of male flash on display. Sex, drugs, bad behavior — so far I am enjoying it. Grade: B+

Mad Men (Part 2 of Season 7)
I have been a big fan of this show through the years. I missed the last season, because I didn’t have a TV for a good portion of last year. So now I am finally catching up with it on Netflix. I have to say this last season was a bit of a disappointment to me. It was all over the place. So much of the stories occurred away from the ad agency. And they tried to give everyone a decent ending except Betty it seems. Grade: C

Greatest Hits
Billed as a special event limited summer series, this show brings back hitmakers of the past (like Rock Springfield and Backstreet Boys) singing their greatest hits as well as current hitmakers (Pitbull, Meghan Trainor) too. Each episode covers a 5-year period like 1980-1985; 1990-1995 etc. The show is hosted by Arsenio Hall and Kelsea Ballerini. This shows reminds me of “Hit Me Baby One More Time” a summer show from summer’s past that brought back old hitmakers to prime time. It was good to see some of the stars on here, even if they aren’t as good as they used to be. I hope they bring it back next summer. Grade: B

Do you agree with my reviews? Please sound off in the comments. I would love to know what you are watching and listening to.

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Kilts lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

It’s that time again for my inner critic to come out and make my tastes known. So what movies and DVDs have I been enjoying? Read on for my recommendations or pans. Part 2 will be focusing on CDs and TV shows.

Movies

Barbershop: The Next Cut
Ice Cube resurrects his hit “Barbershop” movie series. This time he’s brought in Nicki Minaj and Common, as well as series regulars Cedric the Entertainer and Deon Cole. The drama centers around gangs infiltrating the neighborhood, and possibly recruiting his son. So the shop, stays open over a weekend and offers free haircuts as a way to bring the neighborhood together. Both funny and topical too — I enjoyed my visit back to the Shop. Grade: B

Captain America: Civil War
Captain America and Tony Stark’s Iron Man face off against each other in Marvel’s latest superhero extravaganza. The rest of the Avengers (minus Thor and Hulk) are forced to choose sides in this battle. Captain thinks the team should not be beholden to any government body, while Tony wants them to sign a document which puts limits on what they can and should do as a group. Inspired turns from Black Panther, Spiderman and even Ant Man help to keep this movie fun and moving swiftly. The action sequences are great as always. You’ll enjoy yourself. Grade: A-

The Jungle Book
Director Jon Favreau has created a live-action version of Disney’s animated classic “The Jungle Book.” Featuring the voice talents of Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Scarlett Johansson, Bill Murray as the animals and plus newcomer Neel Sethi as Mowgli. This movie is one of the most entertaining movies I have seen this year. You have laughs, you have great action sequences, and you have a few songs too. I was impressed. I would definitely see it again! Grade: A-

Money Monster
Julia Roberts and George Clooney star in this movie directed by Jodie Foster. Clooney plays a TV host who has a show called Money Monster where he gives financial advice. Julia Roberts plays the show’s producer. Jake O’Connell costars as a disgruntled man who takes Clooney and the show hostage over a bad stock pick. I liked this movie, but really felt that they set up a situation that they didn’t know how to resolve. So the first part of the movie was better than the ending. I was expecting some big statement about the 1% or even gun control — but you never get it. They could have pushed it much further. Grade: B-

Purple Rain
Reissued in theaters after Prince’s death, it was good to see this movie again after so long. Prince’s performance, particularly the music sequences, still stand strong. Apollonia, well, not so much. I especially didn’t care for the abusive boyfriend bit considering what we saw in real-life with Chris Brown and Rihanna. Glad to hear that the Revolution will be reuniting, just wishing their leader was still with us. Grade: B-

The Secret Life of Pets
From the same studio that brought you the Minions, comes this new animated feature that imagines a day in the life of household pets. So we get dogs, cats, a bird even a bunny interacting with one another and having an adventure in the big city. I liked it, and had fun, but ultimately it was sort of forgettable. Featuring the voices of Louis CK, Eric Stonestreet and Kevin Hart. Grade: B-

X-Men: Apocalypse
The 6th movie in the X-Men franchise is again directed by Bryan Singer. This one concerns the return of the world’s first mutant — Apocalypse, who has been buried under the temples of Egypt for centuries. He is back and wants to destroy the world. The film stars Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender and James MacAvoy. So you have the fan favorites Raven, Magneto and Charlies Xavier. Plus you see the origins of Jean Gray, Storm and Cyclops. The story is a bit all over the place, but I still enjoyed myself. It will be interesting to see where things go from here. Grade: B-

 

DVDs

Two Days, One Night
This subtitled import from France has an interesting premise. A woman finds herself laid off from her job. Her coworkers were given a choice: a bonus or their coworker gets laid off. She takes it upon herself to convince her co-workers to change their vote over the course of a weekend. Marion Cotillard stars as the employee who tries to win over her co-workers to her side. Grade: B

Southpaw
Jake Gyllenhal stars as boxer who has to redeem himself to regain custody of his daughter. This movie is built on a bunch of clichés. Jake does the best with what he is given, but the script lets us down. Grade: C

The Gift
Another interesting small movie that makes you think. Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall star as a couple who lives are upended after a mysterious man from the husband’s past shows up and won’t go away. Written and directed by Joel Edgerton. It definitely had echoes of “Fatal Attraction” to me, but concerned a scorned friend instead of a lover. Grade: B

Mr. Holmes
Ian McKellen stars as Sherlock Holmes in his senior years as he is facing his own mortality. Laura Linney co-stars as the woman who is taking care of him at his residence. He is trying to hold back his decline and remember the details from his final case. He also starts a friendship with the son of his housekeeper. Despite the good cast, it was just OK to me. Grade: C

 

Plays

In the Heights
From the creator of “Hamilton,” “In the Heights” was the first Broadway hit for creator Lin-Manual Miranda. It concerns a group of citizens, Hispanic immigrants mostly, making their way in the city: Finding love, navigating careers and school, building a better future for yourself and your loved ones. The score is very hip-hop inspired and there are nice solos for a lot of the company. The dancing and choreography were very elaborate too. I really enjoyed myself! Go see it!

Make sure to come back for Part 2 featuring my reviews of CDs and TV shows. As always, comments are kindly welcomed.

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Kilts lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

 

Daryl Hall and John Oates in Concert
Tuesday, September 20, 2016
Hollywood Bowl

Special guests: Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue; Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings

Songs performed: Maneater, Out of Touch, Did It in a Minute, Say It Isn’t So, You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling, Las Vegas Turnaround, She’s Gone, Sara Smile; Do What You Want, Be What You Are; I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do), You Make My Dreams, Private Eyes, Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time)

hall-and-oates-2016-tour-sharon-jones-trombone-shorty-600x476Comments: Daryl Hall and John Oates recently headlined the Hollywood Bowl for an evening of rock, pop and soul. They came out of Philadelphia in the 1970’s, and dominated the airwaves and the pop charts in the 1980’s. It was great to see them getting so much love from the audience on this tour.

First up for the night was Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue. Trombone Shorty (aka Troy Andrews) is the leader of this group. The group was an interesting fusion of jazz, funk, rock and soul. In addition to playing trombone, Troy also sang too. He had an incredibly long trombone solo — with his cheeks going in and out while he was playing. Some numbers were purely instrumental; while others contained vocals too. The band members are all good musicians.

Next up was Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. We had see Sharon before at the Bowl as part of Ricky Minor’s “Global Soul” concert a few years ago. This was the first time seeing her with her band. Sharon is a force to be reckoned with. She is currently battling cancer, but she came out and gave her all to the performance. Their style is very retro R&B/funk. She covered a song by Gladys Knight that I was not familiar with.

I was impressed with both opening acts, but liked the music more of Trombone Shorty. His sound was more contemporary, whereas Sharon’s music was retro all the way. I would have been fine with only 1 opening act honestly.

During the breaks between acts, videos from both Daryl Hall and John Oates solo work played on the video screens. There was a commercial for Oates’ biography coming next year; as well as clips from “Live from Daryl’s House” his web series of him performing with different stars (Aloe Blacc and Jason Mraz along with others).

Finally Daryl Hall and John Oates came on. They will never live down being “Hall & Oates.” And why should they? They can still headline a huge concert tour, and they are more than 4 decades into their careers. Both are close to 70 (68 and 69). There is no new album to promote, their latest being a live album — “Live in Dublin.”

First song of the night was “Maneater” their #1 smash from 1982. They covered a lot of the essentials songs of their career during their set. From early soul classics like “She’s Gone” and “Sara Smile” to their pop-rock 80’s hits like “I Can’t Go for That” and “Say It Isn’t So.” They also included some more obscure songs too like “Las Vegas Turnaround” and “Do What You Want, Be What You Are.” The biggest surprise of the night was “Did It in a Minute.” I don’t think they have performed that one since the 80’s.

So with 2 opening acts, the headliner only got to perform for 1 hour and 15 minutes. I enjoyed the show, and was singing and dancing along to their set. Their music was definitely part of my youth. I did miss hearing “Kiss on my List” and “Rich Girl.” I heard John Oates on the Billboard magazine podcast a few weeks back, and he mentioned about them doing a tour with all obscure songs and non-hits. I would definitely be interested in a show like that. They were one of the most consistent acts in the 80’s and their albums were much more than just their singles.

They chose to end the night with the Delfonics’ 1969 classic “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time).” I was familiar with the New Kids on the Block version of the song from the 80’s. Sharon Jones and another signer were brought on to fill out the sound. They wanted to pay tribute to one of the songs that inspired them.

Thanks to Daryl, John and their band for another great performance in a long career.

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Kilts lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

Smooth Summer Jazz
Sunday, August 28, 2016
Hollywood Bowl

Starring: George Benson, Average White Band, To Grover with Love featuring Jason Miles, Jeff Lorber Fusion

Songs performed: Just the Two of Us (To Grover with Love); Cut the Cake, Pick Up the Pieces (Average White Band); Give Me the Night, The Ghetto, Lady Love Me, Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love for You, This Masquerade, Turn Your Love Around, On Broadway (George Benson)

georgebenson-950Comments: Hollywood Bowl presented their annual Smooth Summer Jazz event this past August. We have gone to see this night of music before starring headliners: Dave Koz as well as Men of Soul (Jeffrey Osborne, Peabo Bryson, and Freddie Jackson). The night is usually comprised of 4 acts over the course of 4-4.5 hours. It is always a nice event to share with our friends.

First up for the night was Jeff Lorber Fusion — a jazz group led by keyboardist and producer, Jeff Lorber. Their music was nice, if forgettable, smooth jazz.

Next up was To Grover with Love. This group was lead by Jason Miles, and is named after the legendary artist Grover Washington Jr. who died in 1999. They performed some instrumentals, and then brought out Maya Azucena to sing for a few numbers. She definitely brightened the night. She was a strong vocalist, and even sang the Bill Withers part on “Just the Two of Us.”

The stage rotated once more and the next act was… George Benson? Huh? I thought he was the headliner? Anyways, I last saw George in 2008 at the same venue. His set list hadn’t changed much since I last saw him. The exception being — “The Ghetto” — a song from Donny Hathaway that Benson had recorded before. He is a consummate performer and definitely had the crowd singing and dancing along to his hits. I think his voice was not as strong as when I saw him before, but he still sounded good. He is also an excellent guitar player and showed that off to good effect. His female backup singer also did a very good job backing him up.

The final act of the night turned out to be Average White Band. This band from Scotland had a few hits in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Their sound is very horn-heavy soul funk. Their best known songs to me were “Pick Up the Pieces” and “Cut the Cake.” But the crowd seemed to know their other songs too, and were singing along to them. The lead singer was good, but lacked the star power of George Benson.

Overall, I had a great time hearing some good music with a bunch of our friends. Thanks to all involved for a fun evening.

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Kilts lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

Are You a Speedo Guy?

It takes a real man to wear a pair of Speedos. For those that are thinking about taking the leap — and getting a Speedo — here are some reasons to give it a try.Red Speedo Jump

  1. Better sun coverage
    Because there is less fabric, you will be able to get a better tan. If I could count the times I have seen guys trying to roll up their board shorts to get a better tan, I would be a rich man.
  1. Less clothing to get in the way
    If you are a swimmer, you have less water resistance with Speedos than with board shorts. You will move easier through the water.
  1. You will assert your individuality
    Who wants to be one of the masses, when you can stand out? These suits are not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you have the right attitude, even heavier guys can rock the Speedo and make themselves memorable.
  1. You will be seen as a risk taker.
    Who wants to be safe and boring? There are plenty of colors and cuts of racing style swimsuits, one to please most everyone. And if you are the only one wearing one at the water park… so be it.
  2. You will like the feeling of wearing so little.
    I get it — it feels good to be naked. But unfortunately, we can’t be naked in most of the world. But next to being naked, I would take a Speedo.

It’s time that men stand up and demand their right to be sexy and show off. Woman can’t have all the fun. So put a Speedo on, and I will see you at the gym, beach, pool party or water park!

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Speedos lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

 

Diana Ross: Still Supreme

Diana Ross in Concert
Saturday, July 16, 2016
Hollywood Bowl

Special guest: Naturally 7

In the Name of Love Tour

Songs performed: Summer Breeze, While My Guitar Gently Sleeps, Fix You (Naturally 7); I’m Coming Out, More Today Than Yesterday, My World Is Empty Without You, Baby Love, Stop! In the Name of Love, You Can’t Hurry Love, Touch Me in the Morning, Love Child, The Boss, Upside Down, Love Hangover/Take Me Higher/Ease on Down the Road, Don’t Explain, Good Morning Heartache, Why Do Fools Fall in Love, Theme from Mahogany (Do You Know Where You’re Going To), Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, I Will Survive, Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand), I Will Survive (Reprise)mr0zbp-b781149345z.120130804141403000gh81f8bkb.1

Comments: Diana Ross returned to the Hollywood Bowl for 2 triumphant shows this past weekend. In a show that celebrated her entire career from the Supremes to the movies to her solo anthems, Diana wowed the crowd with enough energy and star power for someone half her age. And she is 72! I was amazed by her.

Naturally 7, a 7-member a capella group, opened the show for her. They performed Seals and Croft’s 1972 hit “Summer Breeze” as well as covers of songs by Michael Jackson, George Harrison, Coldplay and more.

Tracee Ellis Ross, Diana’s daughter who stars on “Black-ish”, introduced her before the curtain parted. She said she was the 2nd child of Diana’s 5 children. She was thrilled and honored to be introducing her mother.

The opening song for Diana was “I’m Coming Out.” And Diana made a dramatic entrance from the back of the Bowl on an elevated swing that had her flying in above her band. She was dressed in a sparkling red dress with accompanying wrap.

This was the latest stop on Diana’s “In the Name of Love” tour, which she has been on intermittently for the past 3 years. It was nice to see her with a full production. She had a full band with backup singers. And we got the requisite glamorous costume changes throughout the evening too. She definitely knows what the fans want to see.

Diana performed a bunch of her Supremes hits, in full versions this time, unlike other times where she did them in medleys. So we got the big hits like “Stop! In the Name of Love” and “Love Child” but did not get “You Keep Me Hanging On” or “Reflections.” The group had an amazing 33 Top Forty singles in their career, with 23 making the Top Ten.

What was cool was how well known so many of her songs are. The crowd was on their feet singing and dancing along all evening. When she performed “Upside Down” she had her son, Evan, join her on stage as well as his dancer buddy who had danced with Diana before. Usher was also in attendance and he danced and sang a little during that segment too. The crowd was going crazy. Usher bowed down to Diana — deserving of a Diva like she is.

Her voice may not be as strong as it was when I saw her in the 80’s and 90’s, but she still sounded good.

The 2 biggest surprises of the night for me were “Ease on Down the Road” and “I Will Survive.” Sure, she was in the movie “The Wiz” with Michael Jackson, but he was the one that sang that song, not her, in the movie. She recorded “I Will Survive” in 1995, and it is definitely a song that everyone knows and loves.

This concert served as a reminder of the superstar that she is. Thanks to Diana and her band for a fantastic evening.

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Speedos lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

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