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Dharma All Stars recap 4 July 31, 2009

Posted by Mike C. in Jazz, Personal.
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Last night, I returned to a packed Mirelle’s restaurant in Westbury, New York, to see drummer John Favicchia’s band, Dharma All Stars.

This time, there was Chieli Minucci on acoustic…

…and electric guitar:

Jack Knight on bass:

Misha Tsiganov on keyboard:

Bill Harris on tenor saxophone:

Brad Mason on trumpet…

…and flugelhorn:

And John Fav on drums:

The band played one wild set:
1. Horizons
2. Te Estremeces
3. Coincidence
4. Sing a Song of Song (Kenny Garrett cover)
5. Snakes (David Sanborn cover)
6. Sister Cheryl
7. Kukuc





Next Thursday, Dharma will be at bass player Gerald Veasley’s Jazz Base in Reading, Pennsylvania.  The only difference between last night and this next one is Dave Anderson will be on bass and John Scarpulla on tenor sax.


Rippingtons Smooth Cruise recap July 24, 2009

Posted by Mike C. in Jazz, Personal, Travel.
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On Wednesday, I returned aboard the Spirit of New York for the 6:30 PM sunset cruise out of Chelsea Piers’ Pier 61 in New York, New York, to catch the weekly Smooth Cruise.  Last year, I was on hand for Spyro Gyra.  This time, it was the Rippingtons.  It was the first time I had seen them since August 2007 at the since-closed IMAC.

My parents, sister, and I left for Chelsea Piers around 4:25.  About 15 minutes in, as we were on the Long Island Expwy. (L.I.E., I-495), I started taking pictures from my seat in the back of the car.  You may remember I did the same thing going to and from Smooth Jazz for Scholars in May.

Last exit in Nassau County:

Last exit before the tollbooth for the Queens-Midtown Tunnel:

In Manhattan:

Herald Square/Macy’s:

11th Ave.:

We turned at West 24th St. and again at 12th Ave.:

The Spirit’s cruise route took as down the Hudson River, through New York Harbor, up the East River, and back. Unlike last year, I didn’t spend much time on the Empire Deck bow, but I did take a few pictures when I was out there.

The Empire Deck (second floor) is where the concert took place.

The Rippingtons featured Russ Freeman on acoustic and electric guitars:

Dave Karasony on drums:

Bill Heller on the keyboard:

Rico Belled on bass:

And special guest Jeff Kashiwa on alto and soprano saxophones and EWI (“E-wee”; electronic wind instrument):

1. Faith
Originally heard on: “Brave New World,” 1996; Russ’ solo album “Holiday,” 1995

2. Welcome to the St. James’ Club
Originally heard on: “Welcome to the St. James’ Club,” 1990

Jeff switched back and forth from EWI and alto sax:

3. Modern Art
Originally heard on: “Modern Art,” 2009

I spent a few minutes on the bow during this song to take pictures.

Lower Manhattan:

Brooklyn Bridge:

The Brooklyn-Queens Expwy. (B.Q.E.; I-278):

Back inside, Bill Heller used a vocoder for the last few lines of “Modern Art”:

Ballad Medley:
4a. Victoria’s Secret
Originally heard on: “Welcome to the St. James’ Club,” 1990

Jeff was on soprano sax for this…

…and for…
4b. Pastels On Canvas
Originally heard on: “Modern Art,” 2009

4c. Vienna
Originally heard on: “Weekend In Monaco,” 1992

Here, Jeff returned to EWI:

5. Aspen
Originally heard on: “Curves Ahead,” 1991

These pictures were taken from my table:




Jeff was one deck above on soprano sax, but I had no idea until after the song was over when he came down the stairs, sax in hand.  I looked away for a minute and he was gone.  I heard him, but didn’t see him.

I returned to the stage for…
6. Spirits in the Canyon
Originally heard on: “Topaz,” 1999


Bill had an extended solo midway through:

7. Santa Fe Trail
Originally heard on: “Curves Ahead,” 1991

I looked out the window and noticed we were near the Statue of Liberty.  So, I went outside to take two shots of that.

Picturesque, isn’t it?

Back inside…

A wild drum solo by Dave!






Then, a break from Ripps tunes for one song by Jeff:
8. When It Feels Good
Originally heard on: “Back In The Day,” 2009


9. Body Art
Originally heard on: “Modern Art,” 2009

Bill returned to vocoder…

…for Rico’s funky bass solo:


That was the last song of the set…or was it?






Black Diamond
Originally heard on: “Black Diamond,” 1997

Jeff played EWI once more on this:

11. Purple Haze (Jimi Hendrix cover)

12. Fire (Jimi Hendrix cover)

“Purple Haze” featured two lines of vocals from Rico and more vocoder from Bill.

On “Fire,” Rico sang the first few lines…

…and Jeff and Voco-Bill backed up the chorus:



And that was it.

There was a meet and greet one deck below.

Here I am with Russ, Rico, Jeff, Bill, and Dave:

Me with my friend Kat Sarracco and Dave:

Kat was aboard for both the 6:30 and 9:30 cruises.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable cruise and concert for me this year.  Or as my friend Ryan Grabow would put it, it was a Ripping good time.

7/27 UPDATE: Kat’s pics can be seen here and here.

John Tesh Tilles Center concert recap July 13, 2009

Posted by Mike C. in Internet, Media, Music, Personal, Radio, Travel.

Last Saturday, I attended John Tesh: Music & Intelligence for Your Life, Live in Concert, at the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts at C.W. Post.

I left for the campus at 5:00, walking to the N73 (MTA Long Island Bus) bus stop bound for Hicksville.  That bus arrived at the stop around 5:15 and at LIRR Hicksville Station 25 minutes later.  I passed part of the time at the adjacent Dunkin’ Donuts.  Then, it was off to N20 bus stop and on to C.W. Post.

I shot this picture of the Tilles Center north entrance and Atrium exterior as I arrived:

The concert was hosted by KJOY 98.3 (WKJY-FM) and sister station Love 96.1 (WLVG-FM), both of which air “The John Tesh Radio Show.”

As of today, both station’s websites still have a video from John promoting the concert.

The KJOY version:

The Love 96.1 version:

The south entrance, adjacent to the Abrams Communication Building home of WCWP 88.1 FM and myWCWP.

The KJOY van:

The view from my seat before the concert:

KJOY’s Bill Edwards, whose weekday radio show precedes John’s, welcomed us:

Next to welcome us, and by extension warm us up, was Gib Gerard, the Tesh.com web producer:

Gib also operated the graphics emanating from the monitor during the concert.

Gib and Betsy Chase, the Vice President of Programming and Executive Producer for the radio show, look for potential bidders for the robe John wore Friday night at the Garden City Hotel:

The winning bid was $450.  The money will go to feed a child through World Vision.

The winning bidder later gave the robe back so it could be bid on again.

Betsy also does the “Did You Know?” tidbits for the radio show, as she demonstrated by saying “Did you know John Tesh is from Long Island and his birthday was Thursday?”

The audience erupted in cheers:

I think that’s a yes.  🙂  (I never put emoticons in my blog posts, but it was necessary here.)

Then, it was time to begin.  I apologize for some of the washed out pictures.

John’s grand entrance:

1. Barcelona

2. Garden City

Only John and Tim Landers, the music director and bass player, performed on this one:

3. Bastille Day

This began with a bass solo by Tim:


Chelsea Ward on vocals:

Gannin Arnold on guitar:

For the next song, John shared the story of the first time he met Breeze Lee, his daughter Prima’s hip-hop ballet instructor.  Then, he invited Breeze on stage:

And Breeze was interpreting the beginning of…

4. Trading My Sorrows

John can sing, too:

Everybody had a hand on vocals throughout the show, except for Breeze and drummer Dave Hooper (he might have, but I couldn’t see him from my seat).

5. Draw Me Close

John tells the audience how the song “Roundball Rock,” NBC Sports’ NBA theme, came to be:

6. Roundball Rock

He stopped midway through and brought out an NBA regulation size basketball, signed by him and the band, for an audience member to dribble to the “Roundball Rock” beat:

A girl named Shannyn came on stage and hilarity ensued.


I won’t give details, but one of her responses to a question by John led him to say, “In the 20 years I’ve been doing that, that’s the best answer we’ve ever had!”

High five!






“How ’bout a hand for Shannyn?”


Gib dressed casual for the second set to illustrate how casual this set is:

Open The Eyes of My Heart

8. Give Me Forever (I Do)
John wrote this with James Ingram and performed it at his wedding to Connie Sellecca.

9. I Can Only Imagine

10. The Breeze Lee Challenge
This is where John and the band individually challenge Breeze Lee with their instrumentation; or in Chelsea’s case, vocalization.  In turn, Breeze challenges the band by interpreting what they play.  It is left up to the audience to decide who whether the band member wins or Breeze wins.

We start with drummer Dave Hooper…

Next, Tim Landers…

Followed by Gannin Arnold…

Chelsea Ward…

After a few lines of “At Last,” she threw Breeze a kiss:

And then, it was John’s turn:






The big finish:



The audience erupted in wild cheers and applause.


Wow!  I, Mike Chimeri, think it’s safe to say Breeze Lee was your big winner!

He gave a thank you wave to the audience:

After John recalled how he, Connie, and Prima got involved in volunteering, and recommend it to the audience, it was on to…
11. Rescue

I, too, recommend volunteering.

12 (Finale). Spanish Steps

Gannin had an extended guitar solo:

Breeze Lee returned…

…to interpret wild keyboard and organ solos by John:

Throwing in the modulation wheel:

Switching to the organ:

Doubling up on organ and keyboard:

And back to keyboard:

Dave Hooper soloed on drums:

Then, the final measure of the night:


The concert was quite an experience.  Not only did I hear great music and singing, but I learned a thing or two along the way.  Thank you very much to everyone involved, and thank you to Betsy Chase for helping me remember what I forgot or didn’t know.  Appropriately enough, now I know, and you all know, too.  Thanks for reading.

7/14, 1:25 AM UPDATE: My recap has been linked to on John’s concert calendar page and concert homepage.

John Tesh at Tilles Center tomorrow! July 10, 2009

Posted by Mike C. in Media, Music, Personal, Radio.
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John Tesh will be performing at the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts tomorrow night at 7:30.  It will be the first time I’ve ever seen John live in concert and my first trip to the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University in three months.  I was there for Long Island Radio & TV Day, which, coincidentally, was held at Tilles, but in the Lobby, Atrium, and Patrons Lounge.

I don’t think this will be anything like the jazz or rock concerts, cruises, or small gigs I’ve been to.  I hope I like it.  I’ll have a recap up within a week.

7/12, 12:15 AM UPDATE: The concert was pretty good.

7/13 UPDATE: Here’s the recap.

IMAC closing…for now? July 3, 2009

Posted by Mike C. in Jazz, Media, Music, Theatre.
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An exterior shot of IMAC that I took in July 2006 following a David Benoit concert.

I’m late in posting this, but here goes.  The IMAC (Inter-Media Art Center) is leaving its location of 26 years in Huntington, New York.  IMAC’s future is unknown, but as a semi-regular there for four years, I hope very much that it is reborn at another address.  We’ll see.

IMAC executive director Michael Rothbard released this statement:

IMAC leaves the Huntington Theater

First, Kathie, our staff, Cleo and I want to thank the many patrons who have enjoyed so many of their favorite artists at the IMAC Theater over the years.

An old, decaying building with too many flaws to continue to manage, exponentially raising costs and declining support have brought us to the conclusion that it is time to move out of the building that have been renting for 26 years and pursue a new mission.

IMAC has been a pioneering organization since its inception 36 years ago when we became one of the 13 original Media Art Centers. Our mission was to establish a professional video production facility to serve Artists, non-profit organizations and independent producers from Long Island in an attempt to facilitate a whole new range of television productions that never existed before.

In 1983, IMAC was the first on Long Island to turn an abandoned theater into a non-profit performing arts center whose mission was to present a wide range of music not normally found on Long Island. In the last few years, a number of townships have revitalized their abandoned theater “eye-sores” into successful venues and a number of universities are regularly presenting programming echoing the IMAC model. Now the music and artists that we first brought to Long Island can be found at many of the new venues and we feel we are not pioneering any longer.

IMAC has decided to broaden its mission and return to its pioneering roots in a number of ways. One of our new directions will involve using electronic media to better connect audiences with venues in ways that will help increase revenues to venues and connect patrons to venues in new and easy ways. Additionally, IMAC will be available for a wide variety of arts consulting projects.

Huntington has been revered as a cultural Mecca for well over two hundred years. It’s obvious that a world class town like Huntington, being the “Little Apple”, needs a world class theater. Toward that end IMAC and the Huntington Town Supervisor, Frank Petrone will explore the possibilities of bringing back a state of the art performing arts center to Huntington.

Please stay in touch. Visit our site from time to time to see what’s going on and feel free to email us at info@imactheater.org.

Musically yours,
Michael, Kathie, Cleo and the staff

Further reading:
Newsday: Influential music hall closes in Huntington
Newsday op-ed: IMAC’s closing marks the end of the mom-and-pop music hall era
Newsday column: What’s next for Inter-Media Art Center’s founders?
Long Island Press: Exit Stage Left
Times Beacon Record: Curtain down on a quarter century