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Amy Grant takes a contemplative look at Christmas; in Phoenix 11/13 for concert

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Amy Grant’s latest album, “Tennessee Christmas,” looks at the holiday season from a grounded, somewhat offbeat perspective.

Sure, there are the songs one expects: “Joy to the World,” “White Christmas” and “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” performed as a playful duet with hubby Vince Gill. But then you get something like “Melancholy Christmas,” which is underlined with a sadness that also reflects the season. The lonesome “Another Merry Christmas” includes verses about a woman in a nursing home and a man who has post-traumatic stress. To Grant’s credit, the tune’s mood is more contemplative and reassuring than the gloom and doom suggested.

“I absolutely wanted something that talks about the less-sexy moments of the holiday,” Grant says, calling during a five-hour car ride. “The snot-cry meltdown where the dinner you worked on so hard for your family turned into an argument and everyone’s not speaking to each other: Those things happen to all of us.”

Read the rest of Amy Grant’s interview at the AZCentral website here & purchase your tickets to “Christmas with Amy Grant & Michael W. Smith” at Grand Canyon University Arena November 13th here!

Culture Club reunites for international tour via Echo Magazine

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The 1980s was an era where such gender-bending fashion icons as Prince, Annie Lennox, Michael Jackson and Pete Burns, Dead or Alive’s lead singer, were rampant on the Top 40 charts.

No blast from the ‘80s pop past would be complete without the music and the style of George O’Dowd, aka Boy George, who embodied the essence of that era even before he burst upon the international music scene as the lead signer of Culture Club – the 1980s mega-group that has reunited for a world tour that’s heading to Phoenix Aug. 23.

Boy George, who always wore make up and dressed in fashions that were flashy and feminine, rose from the London nightclub scene and reflected the cultural New Wave that swept through England, the United States and the music charts.

cultureclubsmall Often associated with the second British Wave in music, Culture Club, which formed in 1981, capitalized on their strong signature look and monopolized the new cable network called MTV.

Boy George’s presence and influence was everywhere. He even made the cover ofCosmopolitan, a women’s magazine. When asked in an interview by The Huffington Post whether he associated more to being male or female, he answered, “I wanted to kind of look like a woman. And I did for a while – and then I got hairy!”

In an infamous moment of Grammy history, Joan Rivers was on hand when Culture Club won the 1983 Best New Artist award. In a live telecast from London, Boy George remarked “Thank you, America. You’ve got taste, style and know a good drag queen when you see one.”

Yet, Culture Club’s impact extended far beyond Boy George’s flamboyant persona and tabloid headlines. Along with Boy George, Culture Club’s original lineup included Mikey Craig (bass), Roy Hay (guitar, keyboards) and Jon Moss (drums and percussion). The group achieved stunning success, scoring three Top Ten U.S. hits from their debut album, Kissing to Be Clever, and becoming the first group to hit that milestone since the Beatles. They sold more than 50 million records with ten singles that reached the Top 40. “Time (Clock of the Heart)” is included on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s list of 500 songs that shaped rock and roll.

In his article “Rock: British Culture Club,” Stephen Holden, music critic for The New York Times, said “Culture Club blends soul, rock, funk, reggae and salsa into a music that programmatically reconciles white, black and Latin styles.” He added that, “Mr. O’Dowd made the group’s best songs – the Motown-flavored ‘Do You Really Want to Hurt Me’ and the Latin-inflected dance tune ‘I’ll Tumble 4 Ya’ – shine like jewels.”

The aim of Culture Club’s music, as described by Boy George, is “to be creatively fluid to make everything we do a little different. We want to be a bridge between white rock and black soul,” he said, adding that he wants “Culture Club to represent all peoples and minorities.”

Despite group’s commercial success, significant pressures within the band led to its’ break-up. Boy George’s drug addiction and the end of George’s and drummer Jon Moss’ four-year relationship took its toll. The group split after their 1986 album, From Luxury to Heartache, amidst growing tensions in the band.

Flash forward to 2016 and all four original members have rejoined forces for the reunion tour.


 

Click here to read the interview with Culture Club drummer, Jon Moss, and click here to buy tickets to see Culture Club August 21st in Las Vegas at Pearl Concert Theatre or see Culture Club August 23rd in Phoenix at Celebrity Theatre!

Joe Jackson 06.16.16 at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

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On Thursday June 16th, Joe Jackson kicked off his summer 2016 tour by performing to a sold out show at the Scottsdale Center For The Performing Arts.  This tour is promoting his latest studio album, Fast Forward.  Joe explained that the Fast Forward album is a combination of 4 sessions that he did in New York, Berlin, Amsterdam and New Orleans.  Originally, he wanted to release each session as a separate LP, but instead was convinced to combine them into a single album.  Joe and the band came into town a couple of days early so they could rehearse for the tour.  Joe said that unlike a lot of other bands, they don’t like to play the same set each night, but like to change up the nightly set to keep things fresh.  Joe and the band played a combination of new Fast Forward songs and older hits during their 2 hour show.

The show started with Joe doing a solo set of 6 songs on his Roland RD800 piano.  The second song, Home Town was about revisiting his childhood home town of Portsmouth, England.  His longtime bassist, Graham Maby joined Joe on the 1979 hit song, Is She Really Going Out With Him.  During the next song, Real Men, Joe and Graham were joined by Doug Yowell on drums and Teddy Kumpel on guitar.  Joe explained during the show that Kings of the City is about kids from a small town moving to a big city and discovering what is different and what is lost.  Later they played Scary Monsters, a cover of a David Bowie song.  After Sunday Papers, they did Keep On Dreaming and Ode to Joy, from the New Orleans Fast Forward session. They complete the main set with Joe’s top 20 hit, Steppin Out.

After a few minutes, Joe and the band came back and played a 3 song encore.  During the last song, Slow Song, each of the band member slowly bowed and left the stage, with Joe being the last as his piano completed the song.

Review and Photos by Fred Kuhlman. Read more & find out Joe Jackon’s set list over at Beneath A Desert Sky!

3 Doors Down 06.10.16 at Talking Stick Resort

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3 Doors Down came to Talking Stick Resort on Friday June 10th, promoting their newest album, Us And The Night.  Originally, the show was scheduled to be outside at the resort’s pool, but due to the possible extreme heat and afternoon storms, it was moved inside to the Grand Ballroom.  Brad Arnold, 3 Doors Down’s front man, even made a comment during the show about how hot it was getting off the bus.

3 Doors Down was formed in 1994 in Mississippi as a 3 member band, but Brad Arnold is the only original member remaining.  In 2000 they released their multi-platinum album, The Better Life that featured a number of singles including their first big hit, Kryptonight.  The current band member are: Brad Arnold (Lead Vocals), Chris Henderson (Lead and Rhythm Guitar), Greg Upchurch (Drums), Chet Roberts (Lead and Rhythm Guitar) and Justin Biltonen (Bass).

The show started when Greg started a drum sequence and then the rest of the band joined him on stage.  They started with Danko, It’s Not My Time, and Citizen Soldier.  The band looked like they were having fun and interacted with the crowd.  The crowd responded and were on their feet during the entire show singing and dancing along with the music.  When the band got to Be Like That, the crowd really started singing along to a point that Brad turned the mic toward the crowd.  Chet and Chris were constantly going to the front of the stage and jamming to the crowd.  Justin was all over the stage laying down the bass track.  It was nice seeing a show where the crowd was having fun and really into the music instead of just sitting and listening.  The band finished their main set with Kryptonight.  After a couple of minutes they came back for a 3 song encore.

Review and Photos by Fred Kuhlman

Click here to see more amazing photos at BeneathADesertSky.com!

Shawn Phillips with Roger Clyne at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

ROGER CLYNE

On Friday May 20th, Danny Zelisko Presents brought two Phoenix favorites back to town at the Scottsdale Center for the Arts.  It was the long awaited return of Shawn Phillips with special guest and local artist Roger Clyne.  The show started with Roger Clyne for about 45 minutes. After a stage change, Shawn Phillips played for 2 hours.  It was an evening of two different styles of rock music.  Roger and his band played a very upbeat and energetic flavor of rock, while Shawn did a laid-back solo performance.

ROGER CLYNE

Somehow over the past 20 years I have never seen Roger Clyne and his bands.  Boy was I surprised and happy.  I love basic rock music (love classic rock) and Roger did not disappoint.  He has an early Eagles quality and style to his music, with a dash of Southern Arizona/Mexican flavor in his sound and lyrics.  The band’s style has been described as, “cross genres with songs showing an Adult Alternative Rock/Pop/Americana/Reggae/Mariachi influence”, but Roger simply states they are a “Bar Band.”  Normally Roger has the entire band, “Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers (RCPM)”, but tonight they had a very simple lineup of Roger Clyne doing vocals and playing acoustic guitar, Thomas Laufenberg on electric guitar and P.H. Naffah on drums.  Two of my favorite songs from the night were California Breakdown and Heaven on a Paper Plate.  This is one of those bands that you need to see live to really appreciate.  Roger had energy and passion and Thomas was outstanding on lead electric guitar.  If you get a chance to see RCPM, please go – I personally cannot wait to see them again.

Roger Clyne’s Set List:                  (Album)
Maybe We Should Fall In Love    (No More Beautiful World)
Tell Your Momma                           (Honky Tonk Union)
Counterclockwise                           (¡Americano!)
Mekong                                              (Fizzy Fuzzy, Big and Buzzy)
Marie                                                  (Unida Cantina)
California Breakdown                   (The Independent)
Sleep Like A Baby                           (Sonoran Hope and Madness)
Green& Dumb                                  (Honky Tonk Union)
Never Thought                                (Honky Tonk Union)
Banditos                                            (Fizzy Fuzzy, Big and Buzzy)
Heaven on a Paper Plate              (Unida Cantina)

SHAWN PHILLIPS

SHAWN PHILLIPS

I grew up in the 60’s and my music listening started with Motown and folk rock.  I listened to CSN, Donovan, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and Mamas and Papas.  In the later 60’s and 70’s I moved to more heavy rock with the Stones, Deep Purple, The Who, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath.  But I still have a deep love of folk rock as my guilty pleasure.  In the 70’s, I moved to Phoenix and I was lucky enough to go to a lot of concerts when tickets were only $5.  At the time, the Celebrity Theatre was the premier venue for small concerts.  This is where I saw Shawn for the first time.  I had no idea who he was or his style of music, but the ticket was cheap and I had a friend going.  Having zero musical ability, I really appreciate people that are blessed with it.  Shawn is one of those rare people that can both write and play beautifully complex music.  I loved his style of folk rock music and over the 70’s I saw him at least five times.  His Rumplestiltskin’s Resolve concert was one of my favorites.

Somehow I lost track of Shawn after the 70’s.  When I saw that he was coming back, I had to go to see if the magic was still there.  I was concerned when I saw he was doing a solo performance, since in the past he always had a band with him.  I did not know if he would be able to play all of his music or was only going to do an acoustic version of his songs.  The stage was setup with a chair and 8 guitars, 1 bass, 1 acoustic and 6 electric guitars.  When he first started to play, I assumed he was using a backing track to provide the percussion and other guitar tracks.  I later learned that only the percussion section was a backing track.  All of the guitar notes were done by Shawn in real time.  According to Shawn, “That includes the brass at the end of the first song and the orchestral string section in the 3rd song of the 3 ballads I sang in sequence. This was the midi guitar going through a Roland GR 20.”  There were sometimes 3 or 4 layers of guitar sequences in each song and Shawn played them all.  The real trick was he needed to loop and sequence them together to make the music sound great.  After understanding what he did, I was even more impressed by the musical ability and engineering that went into the show.  Two of my favorite songs were Everything She Gives Me and the 3 song ballad, L Ballade / Ascent / Motes of Dust.  Shawn is in the process of creating a new album which should be out this year.  If you like folk rock music then I believe you will enjoy this show.

Shawn’s Set List:                                         (Album)
Song For Sagittariuns                                (Second Contribution)
Believe in Life                                              (Do You Wonder)
Withered Roses                                           (Contribution)
Wishes Are The Dreams Unrequited    (Rumplestiltskin’s Resolve)
Fondest Dreams                                          (No Category)
Hey Miss Lonely                                          (Faces)
Calico and Rainbows                                 (No Category)
Moonshine                                                   (Collaboration)
Spaceman                                                     (Collaboration)
Anello Where Are You?                            (Faces)
L Ballade / Ascent / Motes of Dust       (Contribution/)
Dancing in Survival                                  (-)
Whazzat / Early Morning Hours           (Second Contribution)
Dream Queen                                             (Bright White)
Man with a Gun                                         (-)
Starlight                                                      (Perspective)
Power of a Woman                                   (The Truth If It Kills)
Everything She Gives Me                       (Living Contribution: Both Sides)

Encore
92 Years                                                      (Furthermore)

Click here to see all of the photos from that night & read more of Fred’s reviews!

Review and Photos by Fred Kuhlman

Dream Theater rocks Mesa Arts Center

 James LaBrie on stage at the Mesa Arts Center (Photo by Mike Mertes)

 

Progressive rock band Dream Theater played an exciting show on Thursday, May 5th at the Mesa Arts Center, and our Art Director Mike Mertes was there to take photos of the momentous show.

The band played its double LP concept album, “The Astonishing,” from start to finish. The band started playing at 7:30 p.m. and finished a little bit after 10:15 p.m., with only a short break around nine, Mertes said.

One of the highlights of the show was John Petrucci’s piercing guitar solos before the band’s brief break, Mertes said. Throughout the entire show, lead vocalist James LaBrie showed off his amazing talent by expertly belting and whispering out each lyric.

Mertes said the show was visually stunning, and pleasing throughout the entire show, and that it was one of the best he has been too.

The track list from “The Astonishing” included:

Act 1
Descent of the NOMACS
Dystopian Overture
The Gift of Music
The Answer
A Better Life
Lord Nafaryus
A Savior in the Square
When Your Time Has Come
Act of Faythe
Three Days
The Hovering Sojourn
Brother, Can You Hear Me?
A Life Left Behind
Ravenskill
Chosen
A Tempting Offer
Digital Discord
The X Aspect
A New Beginning
The Road to Revolution

Act 2
2285 Entr’acte
Moment of Betrayal
Heaven’s Cove
Begin Again
The Path That Divides
Machine Chatter
The Walking Shadow
My Last Farewell
Losing Faythe
Whispers on the Wind
Hymn of a Thousand Voices
Our New World

Encore:
Power Down
Astonishing

Review & photos by AZBigMedia.com. See more photos on their website!

Quite the Experience: Jason Bonham has a ‘whole lotta love’ for Led Zeppelin

Jason Bonham thinks of his late father, Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, in the fondest of ways.

He recalls playing the instrumental song “Moby Dick” with him, and his strong father-son bond. But, unlike others who have lost their dads, Bonham has the ability to share his memories on the road with Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience, which comes to the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix on Friday, May 13. It was originally intended to be one tour in 2010, but it has expanded to a more frequent event.

“After the first tour, it took on its own life, really,” Bonham says.

The two-hour show homage to the elder Bonham features Led Zeppelin “hits”—Bonham said there were no hits, per se—and occasional deep cuts and B-sides. Bonham also rolls film footage of his father and his family.

“The setlist is the hardest thing to decide,” he says. “We actually reach out on social media and ask fans, ‘What would you like to hear on this tour?’

“But then I have to remember there are certain people who haven’t seen the show before. I have to make sure the key songs are represented. As much as Led Zeppelin didn’t have hit single, let’s say, there are certain anthems like the ‘Whole Lotta Loves’ of the world, ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll,’ ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and ‘Kashmir.’ I always find that those are songs that have to be in the show.”

That said, he loves the variety his shows offer, including acoustic numbers or deep tracks.

“That, to me, keeps it fresh for us,” adds Bonham, 49. “We like to change it up a bit. Some of the songs have never been played live.”

Read the rest of this article at EntertainerMag.com and get your tickets for Jason Bonham: Led Zeppelin Experience May 13 at Celebrity Theatre now. Great seats still available!

Hello It’s Him: Todd Rundgren reflects on the difference between his pop hits and the art that followed

Until this week, I’d never known of any music fan to say an unkind word about Todd Rundgren’s “Something/Anything?,” a two-record triumph of deeply soulful power-pop that even now remains the singer’s most successful work.

Then Rundgren called and did his best to set the record straight, shrugging off “I Saw the Light,” a slice of unassuming pop perfection, as a song that took him all of “20 minutes flat” to write because by then, he understood the formula.

Those songs are merely the result of well-honed craftsmanship — not art — to Rundgren’s ears. The art came later, starting with the album after “Something/Anything?,” a very different sort of masterpiece called “A Wizard, A True Star.”

Rundgren understands that other people like those early records more than he does, though, which is why he’s agreed to play his more accessible material on a tour being billed as “An Evening with Todd Rundgren Spanning Five Decades of Hits.” He’s even taking it back to his days as the leader of Nazz, who did the original version of his biggest solo hit, “Hello It’s Me.”

Read the rest of the article at the Arizona Republic, and get your tickets for Todd Rundgren May 8 at Celebrity Theatre now. Great seats still available!

Graham Nash at Talking Stick Arena April 23: Review

Graham Nash was born in England and was one of the founding members of the 1960’s pop band, The Hollies. They produced such great songs as Here I Go Again, If I Needed Someone,Bus Stop, and Carrie Anne.

Graham left The Hollies in 1968, moved to California and joined fellow musicians, Steven Stills and David Crosby, to form CSN. Later Neil Young joined the group to create CSN&Y. CSN (and CSN&Y) were known for their songwriting and amazing harmonies. CSN&Y played the original Woodstock festival in 1969 and were leaders of the counter-cultural revolution of the 1960s. Graham has been inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame twice, first with CSN and then again with The Hollies. In the late 60s, Graham became politically and environmentally active and over the years wrote a number of songs including Military Madness, Chicago, Immigration Man, Barrel of Pain and Soldiers of Peace.

I was lucky enough to personally meet Graham back in the 1980s at a concert in Tucson. He was very gracious, unlike a lot of musician back then, and we talked not about music but about photography. At the time Graham was collecting Ansel Adams (legendary American western landscape photographer) originals. Graham was very much into photography both from an artistic and technical point of view.  I thought it was amazing that here was an outstanding musician and songwriter that also shared my passion for photography. Over the years, Graham has produced a number of photographic images and even sold a 2000 print collection through Sotheby’s auction house.

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Graham Nash appeared at the Talking Stick Resort Showroom on April 23, 2016.  This tour, Graham is doing a 2 man show with fellow musician, song writer and producer, Shane Fontayne.  Graham plays acoustic guitar or piano while Shane accompanies him on electric or acoustic guitar. The song selection ranges over the course of Graham’s career, starting with Bus Stop when he was with the Hollies, to Immigration Man when he was in CSN and also his latest solo work.  Known for his vocals and harmonies, Graham’s voice is still as strong and clear as when I saw him in 1974 and 1980.  The show was over 2 hours and consisted of 2 sets with a short intermission.  Graham talked about how he came up with some of the songs.  Immigration Man was written because he got pissed off when only he was detained by American immigration when CSN&Y were returning from a show in Vancouver, Canada.  He came up with Wind on the Water while sailing with David Crosby and they saw a blue whale and his concern about the slaughter of whales.  One of my favorites, Chicago was written about the riots at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968 and the trial of the “Chicago 7”.  On a lighter note, Our House was written after he and Joni Mitchell went to an antique store and she picked out a vase – it was a cold gray day in LA, so when they got home, he said, “I’ll light the fire while you place the flowers in the vase that you bought today”.

This is my third time I have seen Graham, once with CSN&Y and twice solo.  This is a must-see show.  There is no glam or outrageous stage production, just 2 musicians performing amazing music and sharing the history of it.  Talking Stick Resort Showroom was also a perfect location for this show – it has amazing acoustics and the small venue gives you the feeling of intimacy with the artists.

The setlist included:

  • Set List 1:
  • Bus Stop
  • I Used To Be A King
  • Immigration Man
  • This Path
  • Myself, At Last
  • Just A Song
  • Wind On The Water
  • Wasted On The Way

Set List 2:

  • Simple Man
  • Taken At All
  • Golden Days
  • House Of Broken Dreams
  • Back Home
  • Cathedral
  • Our House
  • Chicago

Encore:

  • Blackbird
  • Teach Your Children

 

Review and photos by Fred Kuhlman, you can read more reviews by Fred on BeaneathADesertSky.com.

‘Making a Murderer’ Lawyers Discuss Justice After Steven Avery via The Rolling Stone

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Fans of Netflix’s 10-part true crime docuseries Making A Murderer may still be debating Steven Avery’s guilt or innocence in the 2005 murder of Teresa Halbach, but there is one thing on which there is near universal agreement –Dean Strang and Jerry Buting are the heroes this documentary series desperately needed. Even with rose-colored glasses firmly affixed to one’s face, Making A Murderer is a brutal reminder of how tenuous a guarantee “the right to a fair trial” actually is. At worst, it was the soul-crushing story of how one man could be falsely convicted and imprisoned twice in his lifetime. If not for Avery’s Wisconsin-born, norm-core styled defense attorneys, this would have been bleak bingewatching indeed.

The care and attentiveness they extended to their client as well as his entire family (not to mention the filmmakers), stood in stark contrast to the dismissive treatment doled out by local media, law enforcement and the district attorney’s office. The pair’s earnest pleas for justice and certitude — combined with Strang’s lustrous hair (does he use ALL the conditioner in Wisconsin, because it’s shinier in person?) — and Buting’s imposing stature, literally turned them into heartthrobs. There were Valentine’s Day cards, many memes and even a @SexyDeanStrang,Twitter account. Strang has even been tapped to star in his own docuseries, reportedly titled Dean Strang: Road to Justice.

Read the whole story at THE ROLLING STONE and grab your tickets for A Conversation on Justice
Making A Murderer’s Dean Strang & Jerry Buting at Celebrity Theatre, August 12th now! Great seats still available here!