Friday, January 29, 2016

One of the Zs...

I had front row seats at the Performing Arts Center when I first saw ZZ Top in concert in 2008.

Took some amazing close-up photos of the two bearded guys.

Guitarist Billy Gibbons is the one with the reddish long beard.
Dusty Hill plays bass and the drummer, who has no facial hair, is named Frank Beard.

The three had been together more than 40 years and, today, still are. Billy wanted to experiment  with a tour that included a stop in Havana, Cuba.

Wednesday night at the Charleston Music Hall (CMH) I enjoyed the solo tour by Billy Gibbons and the BFG's.

I wished he had taken off his hat so I could see his face that was in shadow.

Bob Dylan did something similar with his hat so guess I'll just have to get used to it.

Two - not just one - ladies on drums. Nice.
Different percussion sounds from each.

Piano on one side of the stage and an organ on the other.

A large tilted mirror was positioned behind and above each player.

This gave us an excellent view of their hands as they ran up and down the multiple keyboards.

Had seen a similar mirror set-up like this at Pat O'brien's dueling pianos in New Orleans many years ago.

This touch adds a nice element to the entertainment.

Billy was scheduled to play in Charleston back in November but had to postpone it due to illness.

Had a lot of fun "enhancing" this shot of the opening band Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown.

They opened right on time and I think all the sound levels were cranked up to 11 or 12!

No problem. I always/usually have my professional earplugs with me.

And, this time, there was no NYC cabaret singer comic  trying to climb onto my lab.

I think she realized I had a good sense of humor.

When she invited a much younger man to join her onstage for the finale, my buddy said she had told me I didn't have enough bone mass.

At my age, my strong point seems to be sitting comfortably in a plush seat, enjoying music being created and giving strong applause.

(Click on the photos and links for more details.)

I hope you get out and support live music. That helps convince performers to come to Charleston. Yay!

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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Two VERY interestings evenings...

 Went to see St. Paul and the Broken Bones at the CMH* Thursday night.

It was my third time enjoying the "Man from Alabama" in an array of settings.

About two years ago, I saw him for the first time EVER at the cozy Pour House in West Ashley.

He closed the Spoleto Festival last year and I would have been there for sure, but I was out of town.

Next time - June of last year - was when he opened for the Rolling Stones in Atlanta.

He's been really traveling but at the CMH, (*Charleston Music Hall) Thursday night,  I got a close look at  the sparkly shoes he has filled!

The opener was Banditos, also from Alabama, and Mary Beth Richardson was the torrid vocalist.

It was a joyful evening of music in one of my favorite music venues.

When (St.) Paul Janeway hopped down from the stage to dance and sing bogeying up and down the center aisle, I switched my camera to capture a great video.

Glad I did but now I have to figure how to edit and  post it!

Friday night, a second "Night to Remember," had me seated in the 7th row, on the aisle, at the downtown Sottile Theater.

It was the middle night of Theater 99's Comedy Festival weekend and Bridget Everett was the headliner.

I knew only that she was a stand-up comic/NYC cabaret singer and I was wise enough to avoid sitting up close in the first several rows.

In the past, I have been briefly singled out by a comic and wanted to avoid that happening again.

I felt pretty hidden  among the 400+ comedy fans in the theater.

It was quickly obvious that the word bawdy was invented especially for Bridget.

Uh oh, as she headed for the steps to come down off the stage, I recalled that "cabaret" means mingling among the small tables and getting the patrons involved.

Lots of laughs.

She was working the crowd on the other side of the room, getting cozy with an older gentleman, his wife and their daughter.

The seemingly good natured comments quickly became X-rated.

I could live with that...for them, way, way over there.

Most everyone in the theater sighed with relief that they were not the object of Bridget's hands-on actions.

Her lovey-dovey pats and triple entendres had me squirming  because she seemed to be working right on the aisle.

Sure, you're ahead of me here.

My side of the theater was next and she stopped, tousled my white hair and said "Your name is Gary, right?"

Then began a dialogue - I tried one-word answers -  but was distracted by my buddy sitting next to me.

He whipped out his phone cam to capture the moment. 

By then Bridget had stripped off her loose draping dress and pressed my head into her ample bosom.

Actually, I was lucky. 

She had named a few other fellows up and down the aisles and invited "Tim" to join her onstage. 

Much younger, he seemed more relaxed than I and certainly was stronger, as was quickly proved!

She sat in his lap then had him lift her up in his arms.

I groaned, glad it was NOT "Gary" up there.

Well, you have to have a big finale, especially for a comedy & cabaret act. Something unexpected.

"Tim" was told to lie down and extend both feet up in the air.


Bridget slowly leaned toward him, got settled, and surged forward to complete the balancing act over him. My legs would not have worked like his and I would've been very close face-to-face with a big partner.. my new BFF.

As the crowd moved out of the Sottile, I got waves and cheers from giggling college girls.

"Way to go, Gary, you were great."

One white-haired guy slapped me on the back and said "Thanks, Gary, you took one for the team." 

Guess he was sweating it in an aisle seat.

(Click on the photos and links for more details.)

Oh, I was asked if that was going to be my new profile photo on Facebook... what do you think?

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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Glenn Frey, one of the original EAGLES, has died

 I am fortunate to have seen The Eagles in concert twice.

Found this nice breakout shot of co-founder Glenn Frey, taken during a February 24, 2014 concert in Atlanta.

Had seen them perform almost 10  years earlier here in Charleston at the Coliseum, on March 5, 2005.

Checking details, I found that Frey collaborated with Jackson Brown in writing their first big hit in 1972 - "Take It Easy."

Frey is in the center of this 2014 concert shot.

As it happens, I had just a few days ago seen Jackson Browne in concert at the Performing Arts Center and he played that hit he co-wrote with Frey.

Some sources credit Frey with contributing the classic line about being in Winslow, Arizona when "a girl, my Lord,  in a flatbed Ford, slows down to take a look at me."

Wonder if the Winslow Chamber of Commerce ever sent a thank you note to the band?

Talk of songs that give one a good vibe, I think some more praise is due for a thirsty well made "Tequila Sunrise?"

Lovers of a 'Rita cheer no doubt and raise a salt-on-the-rim glass in salute.

Speaking of older, classic performers, I saw the Rolling Stones twice last year, once in Atlanta and then again three weeks later, in Raleigh.

First time I saw B.B. King was in September 1997 at Brittlebank Park, where he headlined a free concert that also featured J. Giels, Tower of Power and Robert Cray.

He apologized when he sat down on a stool after about 15 minutes. We didn't mind as thousands of us sat on blankets next to the Ashley River on a balmy evening.

Did I mention it was a free show?

This mural of B.B. was one of several at the old Plex. Wonder if it was saved when the place was torn down?

Saw him many times over the years. Several times I was in the front row, leaning on the stage railing at the House of Blues in Myrtle Beach.

He even handed me one of his guitar picks.

Another long-time blues star I've enjoyed live is Buddy Guy.

Yep, he handed me a pick too.

This trip down the musical memory road started with the Eagles.

I hope to see many more more notables.

ZZ  TOP qualifies. Saw them at the PAC (center seat in the front row).

Next week will see guitarist Billy Gibbons at the Charleston Music Hall (CMH).

I just noticed the zipper pull is a miniature handcuff. Haha.

Sit close and your camera captures such fine points.

(Click on the pictures and the links for more details.)

Did I also mention I really, really like live music.

Please support it!

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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

ESPN and I do battle...

Like many, many others, I "cut the cord" 2-years ago and pay $20* a month now just for the internet connection. 

And Amazon is working on a way to offer that without going through a cable company. Someday soon, I hope.

 For viewing, I bought a $40 Leaf 30 HDTV antenna and get great reception of all the major broadcast
 network stations.

I sadly watched NASCAR  abandon its fans by going to NBC Sports Channel and FOX Sports.
They left the channels that do not require a cable package or an extra monthly subscription.

Pro football is still on network channels but college ball has sold out to ESPN. 

No cable package means no ESPN. 

Oh, you could pay X number of dollars and get ESPN 1, 2 and 3 a la carte. 

There's even a site called Cord Cutter that shows what it costs per month to pick-and-choose just the channels you want.

So I watched the College Championship game between  Clemson vs Alabama, with the live feed of the overhead MEGACAST Spidercam, available for free on the internet.

Could see it only on my computer monitor but, I have a 27" screen, so more than adequate.

Great views as it floats overhead, zooming in and panning around each time the ball changes hands. Best of all there are NO commentators telling us the obvious.

Well, there also is no SloMo or replays. And a long pass usually  has the receiver far, far away but I was able to watch the game.

At the halftime, as each side took turns having its marching band on the field, I saw a technician signal the camera-in-the-sky to be lowered down  on the sideline as he changed something on the unit. Maybe batteries?

Not the best way to watch the game but ESPN has not banned the Spidercam....yet.

*When I cancelled cable on Comcast, they wanted $56 a month for me to just be online. Their competitor offered new customers that for $29.99 a month for 12 months. Just before that ended, I called Comcast - as a new customer - and got a year for $19.99 a month.

As that year ends, I'll check its competitor again.

(Click on the photos and links for more details.)

Thanks for tuning in to see alternatives to ESPN.

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Saturday, January 02, 2016

"Leggo my logo."

Each year, on New Year's Eve, the newspaper I retired from has a "Drop In For Retirees."

Gives old timers a chance to see friends and take a walk through the building to see what's changed.

I like to do that each year between 1-3 pm because they set out a buffet so I get another "freebie" from the paper.

This year I was surprised to see a very large replica of our 8-lane Ravenel Bridge in the conference room.

Made entirely from Legos.

Even the cables.

And a variety of tiny Lego vehicles, including a yellow school bus, an 18-wheeler and small cars.

Columnist Brian Hicks quipped the only thing missing was a sideways SUV, swerved against a bridge railing, blocking traffic.

Of course, it would be difficult to read the three signs the distraught driver had painted on his vehicle, warning police to stay back.

Paul Sharry, the retiring head of the paper's corporate HR, was there with his wife on his last day of 39-years with the paper.

He said he was looking forward to NOT having to set the alarm clock.

An article on display stated that Paul had started out in 1976 in the Circulation department.

I reminded him that he should plan to come to the quarterly luncheons of our Retirees Group, called the 134 Gang*. He appreciated that it was meeting at a sensible 11:30.

Paul said "Sure, why not, I'll probably have nothing else to do that day." 

*(134 is the long-time address of the paper on Columbus Street and, earlier, also at its plant on Meeting Street).

I filled a plate, picked up a bottled water, and wandered over for closer looks at the Lego-built bridge.

It was pretty detailed, including the 8-lanes that replaced the former 2-lane and 3-lane bridges dating back to 1929 and 1966.

Growing up in Charleston, I drove many times back and forth to the Isle of Palms and Mt. Pleasant on the John P. Grace that opened in 1929.

This was with one lane going in each direction. Yikes.

The Grace was still being used when I came back to Charleston and did my first Bridge Run in 1994.

That turned out to be the last use of that bridge for the annual run and the next year, the event was moved over to the 3-lane Silas N. Pearman Bridge that had opened in 1966.

I walked the Run for the next 11 or 12 years and did my last one in 2005 over the new Ravenel.

I joked that I had done all three and didn't have to do another Run/Walk until a newer bridge was built.

No, I don't consider the Lego one a "new" bridge.

I did get a bonus years later when a friend asked me if I wanted a piece of the Grace Bridge. Duh, I said, yes I would like to have that.

 It became part of my 13 Bridge Run bib numbers display. Let me stress, I WALKED each of those years.

Earlier I have blogged about my grandmother who ran a boarding house downtown.

Several of her guests included workers on the bridge in 1928 and a Supervisor.

One chilly Sunday morning, the Supervisor took her out to the Charleston side of the bridge under construction.

Thankfully, they took the time to pose a few photos.

We have several views of her in her cloche hat, prim purse and shiny patent leather shoes.

You rock, Granny!

(Click on the photos and links for more details).

Thanks for stopping by for a retiree's view of The Bridges of Charleston County.

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