Golden Slumbers


It is thrilling that Western New York has been racking up major event level concerts at an increasing rate in recent months. I don’t know if it is the stability of the ownership at our major arena, but it is a good thing, as you can never have too much music. Paul McCartney and his great band are coming to Buffalo for the first time and I believe those who are going are in for a thrill.

I mean, pick your metaphor, Shakespeare the way the author intended, etc. When musical history walks among you or at least drives itself nearby, it would behoove you to do what you can to see the show. I took that in 2010 the last time Sir Paul was near this parts and it was worth the effort of schlepping up to Toronto to see him, at the surprisingly reasonably priced Air Canada Center, excuse me, Centre.

When some body of work has been part of your personal soundtrack for so long, and the guy who created it still has the goods to deliver, it is a pretty amazing experience, enough so that “Let ’em In” was a thrill to hear, and I didn’t think that was possible. He has a great band working with him, so I’m sure attendees are in for a treat as he has made music with this group longer than any other, including those chaps in the 60s.

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You are going to get that picture, proof you were there, something to remember by, something to brag from. I get it and obviously, I am guilty of that too, but stow the phone and savor the moment. The Eagles took some flack for on their recent tour having a no-phone policy, to the point of Glenn Frey even teasing a song introduction with “there is a story about this song, and I’ll tell it as soon as this guy down front finishing texting.” While jerky, he did have a point. It was a good reminder to savor the moment. The memory of hearing songs you’ve heard all your life come to life by the guy who created them will be more long lasting than any crappy video you want to share on youtube.  The above is the one picture worth taking from McCartney’s first night in Toronto in August 2010.

The band was in fine form and for a gentleman with some miles on him, Sir Paul was in fine voice. There were Beatles numbers, Wings tunes, and various McCartney solo hits that gave the audience a nice cross section from an impressive career, something even non-fans have to admit.

My son has a respect for a lot of old school British rock and it meant the world for me to bring him to his first major rock show and have it be a Beatle, I mean, a friggen Beatle. It’s pretty hard to top that. But here’s probably the best souvenir I will ever take away from a show and I’ve been to a bunch.

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He’s a lot taller and I’m a little grayer, but he still talks of the experience and unlike a lot of shows, I still remember it like it happened yesterday. I don’t have any other images, no bootlegs or crappy video. I got a pin and my boy got his first concert shirt. Part of that was the event, part of that was the idea of the event. Much was made when the show was announced for here how fast the tickets disappeared. Concert tickets for as long as I can remember have had a tough battle finding their way to fans. The screams for legislation on ticket distribution were pretty laughable to me. When you got that body of work and amazingly have never been here, there will be some demand.

I watched as a woman nearby stopped to film a few precious moments of the Eagles recent stop in her phone, complete with flash on fullbore. Why risk getting tossed out when the moment is there to enjoy.

McCartney’s appearance at the First Niagara Center is indeed a once-in-a-lifetime appearance.

Enjoy the show. Be in that moment.

 

 

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Bad Santa


In the days leading up to Halloween, I was in my nearest Target and the Christmas decorations/trappings were starting to spread out from the corner of the store, like the slow moving spill that you don’t have enough paper towels to clean up. Ever since I became a bachelor once more, I’ve always struggled a bit with this season. One of the issues with paycheck to paycheck life is trying to tend to holiday business for my kids. They aren’t lacking and their amazing mom and I seem to be able to do all right by them, but it always feels like there is some kind of intangible “something” I didn’t think. I got too wrapped in balancing books and making sure it was “right” that I was unprepared for the generosity of my two amazing coworkers who were very generous with me. I felt like a complete heel. Fixing that this year (they were first).

I watched a story last night about “Is it too early?” as two radio stations have already switched over to an all Christmas music format and at least one mall is having Santa arrive today. Everybody’s doing it seemingly, because everybody is doing. I guess I wonder what’s the damn rush. We really don’t need more time, especially if it is all about “things” and it shouldn’t be. It’s like buying a big SUV because other folks are driving big SUVs, peer pressure with a retail component. One of my favorite things in recent years is a little brunch my kids, their mom and the occasional friend partake of together and it’s been about just hanging out.

That’s why the excessive push to get there, especially on the parts of adults, wrankles me a bit. For a two day holiday, that is the focus of the time period from Thanksgiving onward, more time doesn’t seem like something that is needed. I mean, it’s more than a month that I have to escape the Ray Coniff Singers or pretend that “Wonderful Christmastime ” is a good Paul McCartney song when the reverse is true.

I guess this all festered in my little brain as I work to see about getting my daughter home for thanksgiving (It’s okay, dear, you can skip a couple of classes). One of the news reports have some stores moving from opening at 7 am on friday, to midnight Thanksgiving to just a full day of “Black Friday” on Thanksgiving. That kind of stinks. One catastrophe at a time. We aren’t in such need of new flat screens that an extra day or two needs to come into the equation.

Settle down, ya’all, move too fast and the thanksgiving mashed potatoes will give you a stomach ache.

Christmas can start when Santa finishes the parade, we really don’t need to turn into Lord of the Flies with wrapping paper.

“You Never Give Me Your Money”


It’s an epidemic, I tell you. All these buildings are throwing themselves in front of senior citizen drivers. Apparently it is a call for more drive through lanes. Just to be safe, I’m going to park behind the folks car when I go visit next.

As I write this, the Sabres are 2-0, the Bills 3-1 and it is 75 degrees on an October day in Buffalo. I can’t help but wonder if some other Rust Belt city lost a bet.

I’m beginning to think that people watching the people occupying Wall Street might have a complete grasp as to why the original occupiers (occupiees?) showed up in the first place.

Awful lot of folks acting like a relative passed away with the passing of Steve Jobs. While that is indeed sad, I don’t think of him in the Edison and Shakespeare types of metaphors that were getting bandied about so freely in the time after the announcement. While I enjoy Apple products and Pixar movies, I think while he definitely was a visionary, part of his genius is letting some truly gifted hands-on folk run amuck, all that results in the toys we call covet.

And speaking of capitalism faux paws (intentional), I can’t fathom the logic in some “entity” chasing the Whole Hog Food truck away from the Bidwell Farmers Market last saturday. If it was a market-eer, maybe they would be some of your Kale for their awesome breakfast sandwich if you weren’t sticking the cops on them. If it was another restaurant, then shame on you. Make good food and people will come to your place. There are plenty of stationary competitors too. Do good work and people will come. People are buying from these rolling merchants because the stuff is good quality. That might be a key, doncha know?

Back to the Wall street stuff for a moment, Peter King is quoted about not wanted to give the movement legitimacy. Well, Congressman, people are upset and making their voices known. Ain’t that a good thing? Isn’t that what a democracy is supposed to be about?  People need heard. When the main republican leadership is and has been nothing more than to take down the President, the democrats mealymouth their way around so it isn’t clear what they stand for and the executive branch spends a lot of time just trying to be liked, and none of them are representin’, yo, people are going to get ticked.

On more mundane matters, I’m curious to see the new films on Paul McCartney and George Harrison, despite both having mixed reviews. Always liked the music of both guys and the possibility of learning a little more is intriguing, but not enough to sign up, even temporarily, for either pay channel they were getting shown on.

I’ve always been a more “trust the art, not the artist” guy, so I’ve never really had a handle on those who fling themselves on the cars or things like that, but seeing what might have gone into building a portion of my life’s soundtrack is a curious thing.

My Sweet Lord


February 25th was George Harrison‘s birthday. The good folks behind his website put the Concert for George up for a streaming feed as a tribute. It is a great show, with plenty of english rock royalty paying tribute to the quiet beatle. If you never have seen it, go rent, borrow, what have ya.

It’s a great send off of great music. Check out this band

Helen Wheels


I made an interesting discovery a number of years ago about driving. You know you are going to do okay as a driver if you can successfully manipulate your dad’s car through the unholy nexus of the Queen-E to the 401 to the 427 in and around Toronto. This happened in 1986 for me while my poor Dad was helplessly strapped in the station wagon in front of us. The fact that we were both going around 80 to keep up with traffic added to the drama. I don’t know know if he was watching me or worried that Mom was driving him. All I know is that when we stopped north of Toronto for a breather before making the final assault to cottage country, the color returned to his face at an impressive clip.

That occurred to me as I drove my current car into Toronto for the Monday Paul McCartney show. With a short commute, I don’t really have to “put my foot down” too much and I was curious how my grand am would handle the craziness that is the Canadian highways. The answer was happily “What else you got?”

I learned that BMW owners don’t like getting overtaken, so I did it a second time. Years of journeying to or through Toronto kick in and I seamlessly navigated onto the Gardiner Expressway and across traffic to Front Street and our base camp, across the street from Spot Coffee ironically enough.

I guess my point in all of this is that it is good to have a car that can handle it. In my car owning years, I’ve been burdened with more than my share of hooptys and who’d a thunk that General Motors would be the one to reverse that trend. It’s a nice feeling to know we can get there, especially when you have this sitting outside your hotel window.

That was a little eerie, to look out your window and see a 50,000 empty room like that, but the proximity to the Blue Jays press box gave us wi-fi to go along with a night of great music.

Who’s the Old Man


Paul McCartney first graced these shores on February 7, 1964. Not being one to miss a big thing, I arrived a day later. 46 years forward, our paths finally crossed at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto on Monday night. You don’t a get a chance to see history walking around too often, especially when he has been so omnipresent in your collection as Paul has been in mine. John was always the popular answer to look cool when asked your favorite Beatle, but being a sucker for a good hook, more of my favorites were Paul’s works. We all go through that transition to where your music starts to grow up a bit as early teenagers and in late 76, I got Wings Over America and the Beatles Rock and Roll Music for gifts and I was off.

Flash forward to Monday night, in the company of my oft partner in crime, my lovely son, who is getting into some eclectic musicians and whose eyes went appropriately Tex Avery-like when this seemed like a possibility. Now, the Air Canada Centre is what the HSBC Arena would like to be when it grows up. Our tickets collectively were just shy of $130 for the pair. Pretty reasonable and we were in the building.

Okay, that’s in front of the building. Here, ya go:

About 18,000 people, as they didn’t sell the back of the arena and we might have been Paul’s guests at a cook out. He is that good. A crack band, all the songs you would expect (“Long and Winding Road,” “Let it Be”, “Hey Jude”), new stuff (“Dance Tonight”, “Sing the Changes”), stuff that flat out thrilled me (“Venus and Mars”, “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five”, “Let’em in”, “Two of Us”) as well as stuff that if you weren’t moved you need a check up (“Here, Today” and “Mull of Kintyre”), it was a great night. Even familiar stuff like “Live and Let Die” were a wonder with great players and some pretty impressive pyrotechnics. The capper of “Sgt. Pepper” with a little of Golden Slumbers medley from Abbey Road was perfect. It’s one thing to have that great selection of songs to work through, but the band was playing them, no going through the motions. The lengthy video montage to start the show was getting on my nerves a little as it went on forever.

But by not phoning it in, I was a happy guy as was my youthful cohort, savoring his first concert.

Well, the Toronto Star got better seats, but we were in the building. Insanely great time. It falls into one of those things I really couldn’t afford it, trying to live with in means and stuff, but sometimes you just have to say screw it and go for it.

The silly grins that my son and I kept exchanging were worth it.