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Prince: The Last Concert April 22, 2016

Posted by markgeil in Music.
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To be honest, Prince wasn’t really on my radar at the beginning of this month. I’d pull out an album every once in a while, revel in the music, and put him back on the shelf. Then, on March 30th, I was clearing out my junk email folder when a notice from the Fox Theatre here in Atlanta caught my eye. Prince was coming – wait, in a week? – and tickets were going on sale at noon that very day, not more than an hour away. I hopped on the theater’s site and found the date and times. I couldn’t find any prices, but I learned that there was a limit of two tickets per person, and they would only be available through will-call the day of the show. Prince wanted no scalping.

At a few minutes before noon, I refreshed the page, and saw a screen that said a few patrons at a time would be moved to the purchase page. When noon arrived, the page went blank and that swirly icon appeared, and moments later I was there. I chose the cheapest tickets, picked my seats, and just like that I was crossing an item off my bucket list that hadn’t even been on my bucket list a few days before. On the way home I stopped by a used CD store and found an album I didn’t already own: Emancipation. “Did you get tickets today?” asked the clerk. I was triumphant in reply.

Thursday April 7th arrived and I could scarcely contain my anticipation. I wore a purple shirt to work, fully aware that I was still a middle-aged white guy at an office job. My wife drove downtown mid-day, picked me up, and we went to the Fox to pick up our tickets. Everything was remarkably well organized. I found the table with the letters for my last name, sang “I’m going down to Alphabet Street” to myself, and picked up those two little pieces of cardstock that would soon become the souvenirs of a lifetime.

I went back to work, and two hours hadn’t passed before I got another email from the Fox. “It is with profound regrets that Prince has to postpone two shows scheduled for tonight at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia,” it said. “Both shows, scheduled at 7 and 10 PM, as part of his Piano & A Microphone Tour, will be postponed as the entertainer is battling the flu.” I called Amy, disappointed, and quipped that he’d probably reschedule when we had some other plans we couldn’t miss. The theater said our original tickets would still work, but also offered a full refund. Ha! (So much for no scalping, I thought.)

The weekend passed, and then on Monday I got the word that the show was rescheduled for that Thursday, exactly one week after the previous date. It was clear on our calendar. Just like that, I was back in anticipation mode, listening to Prince nonstop.

Since we already had our tickets, the Thursday redux started later. We were told that doors would open at six, so we grabbed a bite to eat and found that a long line had formed outside the Fox. We debated taking a downtown stroll but decided to just wait in line, finding our place just where the line curved around by North Avenue. There’s a palpable camaraderie before concerts – strangers bonded by at least one shared interest – but I’ve never felt it more strongly than I did that night. Age, culture, ethnicity… none of it mattered. That line of people was so relaxed and happy and helpful to one another I wondered if I was at church. Well, a weird church where people wear lots of sequins and platform shoes and lamé trench coats. The old concert t-shirts I saw were an archive of music history; I knew each was woven with a great story.

Moments after an advertising truck rode by blaring “1999”, we heard loud sirens, saw blue lights, and wondered if a wreck had occurred on busy Peachtree Street. Instead, we saw a motorcycle policeman, followed by two big black Escalades with limousine plates, and another motorcycle cop. Before I realized what I was watching, a tinted window lowered a bit and a hand emerged, waving at us. We’d just seen royalty. The coronation parade lasted all of 20 seconds, but our line was ebullient.

Riding the high that can really only come from seeing Prince’s hand, our line started moving. Snaking around the building, still ever-so-orderly, we made it inside. As we passed the merch table, Amy saw that look in my eye, that inner battle in which my selfish desire for an overpriced concert t-shirt battled against every frugal fiber of my being. Thirty-five dollars? For a t-shirt? “You get in line and get yourself a shirt,” Amy practically commanded. I love my wife.

There were only two such tables in the entire venue, each with foreboding signs declaring “NO MERCH SALES AFTER SHOW”, and only two poor souls working each, so here’s where things became far less orderly. I was reminded of that time I squeezed onto a rush hour train in Hong Kong, except that this was once again such a familial mosh pit that no one seemed to mind. Finally, I reached the front, shouted “Number 3, extra-large!” and waved my $35 cash to pretty much anyone who would take it, and walked away with my second souvenir of a lifetime. “Prince”, it read, “Piano & A Microphone”. It was adorned by the moon in various phases. “What’s with the moons?” someone in line had asked. “Who knows?” came the reply, “It’s Prince.” There you go.

I got my cardio in ascending the venerable staircase up, up to our seats and finally saw the stage. A few lit candle stands. A screen with kaleidoscopic projections. And, center stage, a piano and a microphone. A purple grand. It’s Prince.

Seven o’clock came and went. I wondered aloud to Amy if artists ever monitor the lines at merch and hold their start until most people find their seats. Now I wonder if Prince was mustering the energy to take the stage despite his apparently lingering illness. Instrumental music swelled from time to time, teasing, but then, finally, it was time. The stage filled with fog, and a purple spotlight from behind the scrim revealed an iconic silhouette, perhaps the single most iconic silhouette in all of music. The scrim ascended, and his royal highness strutted forward, scepter in hand. You know that song, “Let’s Go Crazy”? We went crazy.

Prince made a lap around the piano, leaned his scepter alongside it, and took his seat. He adjusted the microphone, readied his hands, and sang, with a knowing smile, “Guess I should have known by the way you parked your car sideways that it wouldn’t last.” We went nuts.

“Little Red Corvette melted into “Dirty Mind” and I thought of that ridiculous album cover and giggled. For all his musical genius Prince had some ridiculous album covers. (I just used the past tense, and that’s very sad.)

“Dirty Mind” melted into, of all things, “Linus and Lucy”, the Vince Guaraldi song from the Charlie Brown specials that my kids played at their piano recitals. And just like that, we were at a piano recital, but instead of a nervous third grader, this piano was being played by one of the most musically gifted individuals in modern times. Prince had always been an electric guitar guy to me, who also happened to be able to play just about anything else. But on this, his last night of music, he showed us that he understood the piano in ways that few do. As usual, he spoke rarely, but he did take some time to explain that his father taught him piano. Domestic images from “Purple Rain” sprung to mind, and then vanished when Prince started playing “Chopsticks”. Yes, that Chopsticks. But then, oh-so-effortlessly, he jammed. The Celebrated Chop Waltz was injected with funk, and though it never left its root melody it sprouted branches before our eyes. I marvel at Prince’s voice, but I realized in that moment what a gift it was just to sit and listen to him improvise an instrumental on piano.

A little while later, familiar chords emerged from that same piano, and Prince delivered a soul-stirring rendition of “Nothing Compares 2 U”. I turned to my wife and whispered, “I’m so happy!” That one’s a piano ballad, but it was remarkable to see how other songs like “U Got the Look” and “Pop Life” took on entirely new meaning when Prince reimagined them on the sole instrument. I also realized at one point that I’d been to plenty of concerts during which the audience sings along with gusto, but I’d never been to one in which the audience sings along with gusto in falsetto. It’s an unusual sound!

About a dozen songs in, Prince played a Joni Mitchell cover, “A Case of You”. Afterwards, he walked off the stage. It wasn’t really encore time yet, so we wondered what was up. “Huh,” I said. “Well, it’s Prince.” A short while later he returned and said, “Sometimes I forget how emotional these songs can be.” Had Prince really left the stage to have a cry? I wouldn’t be too surprised. Now, though, I wonder. I wonder lots of things, and they make me sad.

Towards the end of the show, the real encores contained gems. I marveled when Prince covered “Heroes”, my favorite David Bowie song. Now I marvel that both are gone. I applauded when he played “Diamonds and Pearls”. Now I ponder the first line, that I heard him sing only a week ago. “This will be the day, that you will hear me say, that I will never run away.” We all applauded when he played “The Beautiful Ones”. Now I wince a little when I see the song on TV during round-the-clock showings of Purple Rain, and I hear “The beautiful ones, they hurt you every time.” As I write these lines, it’s almost midnight here in Atlanta, on April 21st, and it’s raining. It should be.

We ended with “Kiss” and Prince declaring that another family was waiting outside. He didn’t play “Purple Rain” for our 7:00 show, though he would later to close the 10:00 show. I honestly don’t think he had it in him to deliver it twice. He played from around seven until midnight, and his plane home had to make an emergency medical stop, and then I suppose he seemed fine, but apparently he was not.

I had posted a picture of the stage after our show, since no photos were allowed during the concert. Today, a new comment on the picture said that we had seen his last night of shows, ever. I assumed it was one of those silly social media falsehoods that get carried away. Later I learned it was true, and everything we witnessed last week took on a surreal quality. I recalled singing “Kiss” in my finest falsetto, with all my new family members, and that was memory enough. Now, though, I realied it was the last time Prince would ever play the song, so the memory is tinged with gravity and importance and, yes, sadness.

Now that I look back on last week, though, I’m not really sad. I’m grateful for what music can do, and what music was able to do in the hands of its gifted bearer.

prince piano

A Wren in the Hand is Worth Two… October 3, 2012

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Two extraordinary songs, one simple bird:

“And the wrens have returned and they’re nesting
In the hollow of that oak where his heart once had been
And he lifts up his arms in a blessing for being born again”

The Color Green, Rich Mullins, A Liturgy, A Legacy, and A Ragamuffin Band

 

“This is the year when laughter douses charred and burnt-out dreams
This is the year when wrens return to nest in storm-blown trees
Is this the year of relocation from boughs of old despair?
This is the year to perch on hope’s repair”

The New Year, Eric Peters, Birds of Relocation

 

The former is the first song of the Liturgy section of what many consider Mullins’ finest album. Mullins lists 2 Chronicles 6:18 as scripture to accompany the song: “But will God really dwell on earth with humans? The heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!”

The latter is the decisive arrival of hope and light in Peters’ brilliant account of despair and recovery. It praises a God who makes all things new, even things that seem beyond repair.

I assumed that Mullins’ wrens inspired Peters’, so I asked him. As it turns out, Peters did not (consciously, at least) recall The Color Green while writing The New Year. He had his own reasons for his wrens:

“It’s one syllable.” That was his first answer. He has a point. “This is the year when cardinals return to nest in storm-blown trees” doesn’t work at all.

But then he thought for a moment and added this:

“Also, I really like their song.”

The song of the wren is chirpy, staccato happiness. It makes the heart a little lighter. I’m glad it’s sung by a monosyllabic bird.

I read once that there are times when birds sing just because they want to. They have mating calls and warning calls and such, but there are also times when, apparently, birds sing for no apparent reason. Biologists might not understand why, but I do. If the rocks can cry out in praise, then surely the wren can sing a happy song for the Maker of Song.

I pray that I will never fail to marvel at the swaying arms of the oak, or the palette of colors with which God painted the sky and the fields, or the happy, hopeful song of the wren.

And when I need it, it’s good to know that the wrens have returned, and they’re nesting.

The Land of the Living September 24, 2012

Posted by markgeil in Music, Philosophical musings.
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[Upon returning from Hutchmoot, the annual gathering of folks from The Rabbit Room to celebrate music and writing and all things bright and beautiful.]

This guy named Andrew Peterson said this guy named Frederick Buechner said something that really resonated with me, that spoke to my eternal soul, but I can’t remember what it was.

The abundance of Hutchmoot means that words and moments of sublime wisdom fall all around me like shavings from a whittler’s knife, such that I forget more brilliance in one long weekend than I’ve remembered all year. I feel like Rich Mullins when he sang, “There’s so much beauty around us for just two eyes to see.”

My “dream session” happened on Saturday morning this year. The aforementioned Andrew Peterson, as gifted a singer-songwriter as I have known, and Ben Shive, who possesses a preternatural musical intellect, were discussing the life and music of the similarly aforementioned Rich Mullins, the name I fill in the blank beside “All-time favorite musician”. Stoked, I was.

At the appointed hour I made my official photographer rounds to each session and landed at Rich-fest. Which is to say I landed near Rich-fest. The little chapel room was full. The doorway was full. I was three-deep outside in the foyer, straining to listen. I actually cocked my head to one side like a curious dog hoping the scant soundwaves might better land in my ear.

What I heard was like the fragmented call of a one-bar cell phone. A couple of audible sentences would thrill me – this really was AP and Ben talking Rich! – and then the whole room would laugh warmly at a statement I did not hear. I heard the start of a discussion about the elusive lyrics of “Land of my Sojourn”, and then someone in the foyer ordered some sort of frothy coffee that made all kinds of noise.

Standing just outside the room, forlorn and frustrated, I was suddenly reminded of my place in this fallen world. I don’t intend to deify Andrew and Ben and Rich, but in that moment they represented a glimmer of the Divine. The conversation in that chapel was something I desired because it spoke, in my language, of the beauty and mystery of the Creator and His Heaven. And I couldn’t hear it all because of an untimely cappuccino. I was a Mullins mendicant wandering off toward a cathedral, aching for the glory inside, stuck at the door.

Then, someone left. And none of my fellow mendicants moved to claim the empty seat. So I did. I took my place inside, where I could hear every word. I was no longer an eavesdropper, but a participant. And then Ben started playing a familiar hammered dulcimer part on his keyboard, and Andrew sang, “Well the moon moved past Nebraska and spilled laughter on them cold Dakota hills.” And then my fellow participants and I started singing along, in that infinity-part harmony that only seems to happen at Hutchmoot. And I felt the thunder, and I saw the Lord take by its corners this old world, and He shook me free to run wild with the hope.

I am home now, and Hutchmoot is past. In some ways I’ve left the chapel again, and I am back in the foyer where cars are double-parked and noisy televisions make their political noise. But I have learned that though we toil on this side of Heaven until eternity, though we are soiled and temporal, the doors to glory are not barred. We might be butterflies, fluttering frantically amidst the fumes of a grimy gas station, but by the grace of God we are butterflies nonetheless, and loftier breezes and cleaner air are in our skies.

I am determined to seek the glorious, and to seek it often.

“I am certain that I will see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living.”

Psalm 27:13

Pomp and Circumstance May 9, 2012

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In a closet in our house hangs a funny square hat with a funny polyester gown, a strangely still pair in the midst of so much activity surrounding their imminent utility. Outside, the magnolias are finally blooming and the relative humidity inches ever higher, portending another steamy summer in the south. Springtime has yet to take her leave, but we know she will, just in time for a certain weekend at the end of May. Cue the pomp and circumstance. It’s graduation time.

Sarah Kate is 18 years old, our eldest daughter, the object of the impending festivities. As she struggles through her last papers and exams, she does so with a satisfying promise of finality, knowing these will be her last last papers and exams in high school. Nonetheless, she needs the grades as she’s leading a tight race for valedictorian. No rest for the weary, at least not yet.

Twenty three years ago, I was a senior in high school myself, pondering graduation and its manifold meanings. I had a soundtrack: a cassette tape of “Songs in the Attic” by Billy Joel. I got it by mail-order from the BMG Music Service in one of those “10 Cassettes for the Price of One” deals. I played it over and over again that Spring of 1989, thinking about the lyrics and their relevance to my evolving place in the world with a profundity that only a high school senior can muster.

My cassette tapes are long gone, most of them worn beyond usefulness, but just the other day I saw “Songs in the Attic” on CD in a bargain bin at a store. One listen, and oh, I’m that wide-eyed senior again! Here are a few words, then and now.

They say that these are not the best of times,

But they’re the only times I’ve ever known

And I believe there is a time for meditation

In cathedrals of our own

I discovered Charles Dickens in high school, my imagination lit with the opening words of “A Tale of Two Cities”: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Isn’t that true of the teenage years? Life is the see-saw that will never balance in the middle, forever swinging radically from one extreme to another. Like me, Sarah would testify that the best of times have outweighed the worst; we have been blessed. I still believe, though, that it’s that “time for meditation” that is so important. One cannot comprehend the 18 year old’s perspective on the world unless one is 18. I don’t think I can fully remember it; there was too much depth in that present reality. I think it must be captured, and that cannot happen without some time to pause in one’s own cathedral. I kept a journal in high school, to do just that. I typed it on an IBM PC, and stored it on a 5 ¼ inch floppy disk, since that computer didn’t even have a hard drive. Finally, my senior year, I printed the whole thing on a noisy dot matrix printer. It’s all gone now. The floppy failed, so the paper was all I had, and I don’t know what became of it. It would be an amusing read now, full of pretentious vocabulary and overblown sentiment. I would enjoy it, I think, and be embarrassed by it, I know, but it’s no great tragedy that it’s gone. It was catharsis at the time, so it served its purpose, and I think it was all very good writing practice for me. Granted, I’m still pretentious and overly sentimental, but I’d like to think I’m not quite as effusive as I was back then.

And as we stand upon the ledges of our lives

With our respective similarities,

It’s either sadness or euphoria

A ledge, indeed! We never moved when I was a kid. In fact, my folks still live in the same house in which I grew up. I had the room at the end of the hall upstairs. It had red shag carpet and a metal desk we obtained from an IBM surplus sale, where I did hours and hours of homework, even that senior year. It also held my prized possession, a Pioneer rack stereo system with a pair of 110-Watt speakers and a 5-disk CD changer that finally enabled me to cast those accursed cassette tapes aside. Since we never moved, the end of high school was probably the first major transition in my life. Now, here in Georgia, we’ve lived in the same house for over a dozen years, so Sarah has known similar stability. She, like me, stands upon a ledge. As I thought about the fates of my classmates, I liked Billy Joel’s polysyllabic wisdom about our “respective similarities”, the tenuous threads that ran through all of our stories. Sure, we had our cliques, our groups that grew into whatever label or stereotype they chose to define them. I knew it should be the other way around, but I had a cynical notion that there were few among us who really acted as individuals. We were not as different from one another as we though, I realized. Some peered over that ledge and felt the sadness associated with departure, with the closing of so rich a season. The same felt the euphoria of new opportunities, their first real independence, and a coming adventure. Others, I’m sure, flipped the emotions. High school had been euphoric, at times, but the future looked bleak. Regardless, I realize now how difficult it is to have any comprehension, as an 18-year-old, of what really lies ahead. And that’s great! What a joy to make your own way in the world, to test the faith that you hope will guide you, without the weight of preconceived notions.

So, before we end

And then begin

We’ll drink a toast to how it’s been

A few more hours to be complete

A few more nights in satin sheets

A few more times that I can say,

I’ve loved these days

I was a good kid in high school, and I did not drink any toasts or spend bon vivant nights on satin sheets. But I often thought myself older and more worldly than I was, so I pretended to identify with these lyrics. I would hear the lilting piano on my massive Pioneer speakers and nod, knowingly, picturing myself indulging in “things refined”. What a punk. I could, however, look back on my halcyon high school days and say with confidence that I loved them. I had the sorts of friends who would sit with me in the dark and listen to a Dire Straits album and ponder the meaning of life. I had a family who loved and supported me. I had summers at the beach, and a car with a sunroof. (Maybe I did indulge in things refined after all. I was still a punk, though.) And I had a girlfriend who would become my wife.

As a father who has fond memories of childhood, I want to engineer the same fond memories into my children’s lives. But I can’t. I can love and support, but I cannot get inside their heads and affect their sadnesses and euphorias. Thank goodness. What a responsibility that would be! All I can do, and all I hope I’ve done, is to be there, praying and encouraging and providing. Sarah’s off to college in August. It’s so soon! But, it’s time. It’s time for her to transition, to step into a great unknown and trust that her faith will guide her. I have every confidence that her future will be a success. However, that’s not what I’m thinking about right now. I’m thinking about what my life was like at her age, and what she must be thinking and feeling. And most of all I’m thinking about how I’m pretty sure she will find time in the next couple of weeks, before the funny square hat leaves the closet, to pause, and reflect, and declare, “I’ve loved these days.”

At the Dove Awards April 20, 2011

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Today is the day, the first time the GMA Dove Awards (the Christian music version of the Grammys) leaves Tennessee and, fortunately for me, lands in Atlanta.

I’m covering the event for www.TheSoundOpinion.com, and I’ve just logged in my first post and tweets. Looks to be a fun day!

Grammy Day February 13, 2011

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My vicarious Grammy experiment has been pretty successful. I’ve gotten frequent updates from Calvin Nowell of NSide management, whose artist Gungor was up for two Grammys. I’ve been posting updates throughout the day at The Sound Opinion. My favorite moment was a nervous text I received just moments before the first award was announced. I was hoping I would get a more emotional feel for what the experience was like, and sure enough, as I watched the live feed online and checked my messages, I was truly nervous!

Gungor was shut out, but I’m not too surprised. The band was a first-time nominee against much more familiar competition, and I was really surprised (but impressed) that they had even been nominated. Truly deserving, though. If you haven’t heard Beautiful Things you should check it out.

I’m looking forward to more feedback, including the band’s reactions to the telecast itself, which I’ll be watching for the next, oh, 4 or 5 hours, depending on how long it takes for Lady Gaga to hatch from her egg.

My Grammy Weekend February 12, 2011

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Remember when I said I was nominated for a Grammy, sorta? I wrote the bio for one of the records that’s up for Best Gospel Rock or Rap Album. Why they group rock and rap is beyond me. Rack? Rop? Anyway, the band in question is on their way to the Grammys, and I’m chronicling their journey over at The Sound Opinion. It’s a bit of an experiment in distance writing, with me still here in ATL getting dispatches from L.A. We’ll see how it goes.

Winter Jam 2011 January 25, 2011

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I just posted a “proper” review of Winter Jam 2011 at The Sound Opinion, a fairly new site for which I’m now writing. Now, for you, a more personal take, a few leftovers, and even some exclusive pics!

Winter Jam is a massive tour – ten artists this year – and I’m always impressed they can get all this stuff and all these people around the country night after night. And though I mention this in the article, I cannot overstate how shocked I was by the crowds. I’ve seen shows with general admission at Philips before, but never a show for which the whole arena, every seat, was basically first come, first served. People showed up, and they showed up early! Every entrance had a thick, dense line of people queued up. The crowds were orderly, jovial even, which was refreshing. I had press credentials and there was even a long line for me to get in, combined as it was with the people who had paid a premium to get in early and with artists’ families and invitees.  

Once we got in, we found a spot in the corner of the floor with easy access to the photo pit in front of the stage. The first ten or so rows were mostly full already, but the rest of the arena remained up for grabs when the doors were opened. This was almost nostalgic for me. I was raised in the day before concerts had “tiered” ticket prices. The standard show had a single ticket price for all seats. The same $15 could get you in a front row seat or in the rafters behind the stage. Diehard fans were rewarded with good seats because of their dedication in lining up hours, sometimes days, outside the ticket booth. I was sometimes among them. Today, diehard fans are rewarded with good seats by forking over loads of cash, something they often cannot do. So, the chance to get up close, down on the floor, for ten bucks, is fantastic. Consequently I’m not a huge fan of Winter Jam’s new VIP membership (paying more for early access) and I wouldn’t be sad if it went away next year.  

A few other observations that did not make the main article:

Plaid could not be more in among the rock star set. Flannel plaid is a bonus. Half the David Crowder Band wore plaid. I dare say the plaid shirt has dethroned the unnecessary scarf as top rock star fashion trend. You heard it here first. I think.

First bonus pic, of plaid, but first some explanation. This was my first concert with a formal photo pass, so it was a big learning experience for me. I learned a new language, with phrases like “bicycle rack”, “the pit”, and “the standard first three songs rule”. I was mainly there for writing, but I had brought a camera, so I figured, why not? And so I bravely entered the hallowed space between the front row and the stage, and pulled out this:

 

Wow. Pitiful. I looked around and saw the real photojournalists carrying things like this:

 

Guess what? I’m buying a real camera! I felt like a total dork, but I’m never one to let feeling like a dork dissuade me from something fun, so I snapped away! And behold, some halfway decent pictures. The best are in the real review. 98% were horrible. To wit:

 Bad Picture

But every now and then, the lighting was right and the artist would stand still for once, and I could at least make out the plaid. Here’s a triple-plaid shot of DCB. I’ll leave it to you to figure out which shirt belongs to which band member.

 

Our seats were right next to the backstage entrance, and the view was great except for a giant crane that obscured a bit of the stage. It was the crane upon which Jody Davis from the Newsboys would fly out over the crowd at the end of the night. I thought it would be fun to drive Jody around, so I took a picture of the controls. I will study up and maybe next time they’ll let me take him for a spin. I’ll wear plaid, to look more credible.

 

The other amusing thing about our spot was the number of rock stars who walked and even sat right by us while my daughter Hannah was completely oblivious. I’d say, “You know that was KJ-52 standing right beside you, right?” and she’d say, “No! Why didn’t you tell me!”, and I’d say, “I’m telling you now.” How she missed KJ-52 and his mismatched fly kicks is beyond me. Jon Micah Sumrall from Kutless made a very early appearance in our midst, and Hannah’s friend, a huge Kutless fan, knew enough to point him out to her. To be fair, he did not have on his hat:

 

so Hannah is forgiven for mistaking him for an average fan. My favorite, hands down, was when a couple of guys from Newsong wandered around our seats. after they left, the guy in the row behind me, incredulous, said these immortal words to his buddy:

“I can’t believe I was just standing next to the guy who sings Christmas Shoes!

Curiosities from the Grammy nominations December 2, 2010

Posted by markgeil in Music, Posts in which I declare myself a Grammy nominee.
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Interesting notes from the recently announced Grammy nominations:

Actual Grammy nominees this year: The cast of Glee. Susan Boyle. Adam Lambert. Justin Bieber.

Zac Brown Band is up against Lady Antebellum in three categories. Time for Grammy to establish some cred. No way ZBB should lose to that insidious Need You Now song, especially since I just learned that it sounds a bit too much like Eye in the Sky by Alan Parsons Project.

There’s a category called Best Improvised Jazz Solo. Do you think that irks the people who spend the better part of a career perfecting an album in hopes of Grammy glory?  “Hey, Herbie Hancock, that sounded pretty good, what you just made up there. Maybe it will win a Grammy.”

There’s a song with all kinds of prominent nominations with the F-word, right there in the title. Pitiful.

Most of the nominees for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album are not too surprising: Barbra Streisand, Michael Buble, Johnny Mathis, even Barry Manilow. The last makes me wince a little: Rod Stewart.

An unexpected nominee for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance: El DeBarge. Really? The guy from Who’s Johnny and Rhythm of the Night? Cool.

It’s ironic, in so many ways, that Robert Plant is nominated for Best Americana Album. It is perhaps equally ironic that Green Day’s nomination is for Best Musical Show Album. alongside the likes of Stephen Sondheim and Burt Bacharach.

I did not know Jeff Beck did a version of Nessun Dorma. I’ll have to hear that soon.

I love the Christian album nominees. Excellent choices, and a little unexpected. The rock or rap album slate is:

Church Music – David Crowder Band
For Those Who Wait – Fireflight
Beautiful Things – Gungor
Rehab – Lecrae
Hello Hurricane – Switchfoot

These are fantastic. And, by the way, since I wrote the bio for “Beautiful Things”, does that mean I am, essentially, Grammy-nominated? Maybe just a little?

Here’s the list for Pop/Contemporary:

Beauty Will Rise – Steven Curtis Chapman
Love God. Love People. – Israel Houghton
Pieces Of A Real Heart – Sanctus Real
Mosaic – Ricky Skaggs
Tonight – TobyMac

Not sure how you could award that to anyone but SCC.

Crowder’s SMS becomes extraordinary video October 20, 2010

Posted by markgeil in Music.
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I’ve written at length here before about the lyrics to the David Crowder Band song SMS [Shine]. My appreciation for the song has not waned since its release, but now I’m flabbergasted by the new video. It’s a bit like that wordless life story montage in the movie Up told via Lite Brite with an ultimate message of redemption that can overcome a heart that’s overcome.