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Long Island Retro Gaming Expo, Day 2 August 14, 2017

Posted by Mike C. in Art, Football, Internet, Music, Personal, Photography, Sports, Technology, Travel, Video, Video Games.
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I’ve been to jazz performances, comedy acts, and New York Comic Con. But yesterday marked my first time at a retro gaming convention. I made my way to the Cradle of Aviation Museum in East Garden City for the second day of this year’s Long Island Retro Gaming Expo.

Within the last year, I’ve become a regular YouTube viewer, gravitating toward channels about computers, music keyboards, video games, video game and console collecting, and what equipment to use to get the best picture quality out of video game consoles on an HDTV. These videos inspired me to start the Mike Chimeri’s Music Collection YouTube series. Here’s the latest episode:

Two of the YouTube channels I watch are The 8-Bit Guy and 8-Bit Keys, both run by David Murray. (He also has a website.) In a video earlier this year, David announced he would be appearing at the Long Island Retro Gaming Expo. With that in mind, I bought a ticket for the second day.

When I purchased my ticket, I was automatically subscribed to the expo newsletter. With a month to go, the schedule was released. It turned out the first day would be more eventful, with many guest speakers, including David. In fact, my friend Jill and her son Mark went on the first day and saw him speak. But I chose to stick with my decision to only go to the second day, since David was also listed as a vendor.

I left for the Cradle of Aviation Museum, part of Museum Row, at 11:30. 20 minutes later, I was there.

I was directed to a desk, where I exchanged my ticket for a wristband.

I also bought into a raffle at the information desk:

After a few minutes of walking by vendors, I spotted David Murray. I introduced myself and we had a brief conversation. He graciously allowed a picture with him, which his wife took:

It slipped my mind that he should sign something until he brought it up after the picture. I had him sign my program:

It turned out David wasn’t a vendor on the second day because he had sold all his merchandise on the first day. I was disappointed, but still honored to meet him and his wife. Be sure to check out The 8-Bit Guy and 8-Bit Keys. And if you like what you see, consider supporting the channels on Patreon. I do.

After that, I toured the rest of the vendors.

I held off on buying anything until I was ready to leave.

The tournament room:

The second floor had freeplays on various consoles and CRT TVs, as well as arcade cabinets:

I gave Mega Man and Castlevania a try, but struggled and gave up after losing a life:

I played a successful level of Dr. Mario, a favorite of mine:

I’ve always liked how the “Chill” tune briefly pays homage to “St. Thomas” by Sonny Rollins.

I first discovered the arcade version of Tetris at the since-closed Kutsher’s Hotel in 1995. My former dentist also had a Tetris cabinet for many years. Back in 2010, I bought the rare, unlicensed NES port on eBay. The music and gameplay sound just like the arcade. I also have the licensed Nintendo version.

I subscribed to Nintendo Power for several years. Game Genies for many consoles helped me greatly. The NES version allowed me to beat Super Mario Bros. 3 many times.

Here are R.O.B. (Robotic Operating Buddy), the Virtual Boy, and the Power Glove:

One of my cousins had a Virtual Boy, which I tried in 1995, six months after the Kutsher’s weekend, and did not like.

I quickly walked the third floor where there was PC LAN freeplay:

Back on the second floor, AfroDJMac played our favorite retro tunes:

Madden:

A corridor of freeplay:

Back to the first floor:

Board games, or tabletop games:

In just over an hour, I’d seen everything. All that remained was to go back to the Vendor Hall and buy some games I’ve always wanted, but never owned. Consider this the equivalent of a pickups video. The games I bought were:

Nintendo Game Boy:

  • Monopoly
  • Elmo’s ABCs (don’t judge)
  • Mickey’s Speedway USA

Sega Genesis:

  • Tecmo Super Bowl

Nintendo 64:

  • Cruis’n World
  • Top Gear Rally

Nintendo Gamecube:

  • Super Monkey Ball

Nintendo DS:

  • Kirby Mass Attack

I also bought a Nintendo Game Boy Advance SP model AGS-101:

For over a decade, I’ve had the frontlit AGS-001. I was satisfied with the quality until I found out in this My Life in Gaming video…

…and this Metal Jesus Rocks video…

…that there was a second model, the AGS-101, which was not only backlit, but brighter! The difference is amazing. On top of that, as you saw, the GBA SP I bought was a Limited Edition Pikachu version. I’m not into Pokémon, but it’s still special to have.

I was hoping to get a Sega Saturn at a decent price, but did not succeed. I’ll have to settle for eBay sometime in the future.

There was one item I bought that was neither a game nor a console. It was pixel art by Joseph Uzzo who has a blog called Nestalgic Bits. I picked out a standing sprite of Raccoon Mario from Super Mario Bros. 3:

I may have only been at the Long Island Retro Gaming Expo for a couple of hours, but I had a great time. Thanks to the expo staff, the vendors, the Cradle of Aviation Museum, Joseph Uzzo, the Murrays, and my fellow game enthusiasts.

A day at two museums and one park July 21, 2017

Posted by Mike C. in Art, Education, Film, History, Jazz, Music, Personal, Photography, Travel.
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One day last July, my friend Lori Downing and I toured the Fire Island Lighthouse. On Wednesday, our destination was Corona, Queens, to tour a pair of museums. Our first stop was the Louis Armstrong House Museum on 107th Street, followed by the Queens Museum in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. In between, we walked through the park to see two relics from the 1964 New York World’s Fair: the abandoned New York State Pavilion, and the Unisphere. That part of this post includes home movies my grandfather shot at the fair, as well as recollections from my aunt Randy and Hank Neimark.

It took an hour and a half to get to our first stop due to heavy traffic on the Long Island Expressway (I-495) and Grand Central Parkway, and limited parking spots near the house. We parked a block away on 108th Street.

It would be 20 minutes until the next tour, so we walked through the garden…

…and looked at the pre-tour exhibits:

Photography was not allowed during the tour, but was allowed everywhere else.

I’m familiar with “What a Wonderful World,” but not enough to know it was recorded in 1967. That means this year marks its 50th anniversary:

The gift shop at the entrance:

The tour began just after noon. Our guide was Elaine, a museum docent that lives only 12 blocks away. She brought us back to the exhibit room for a short introductory DVD. It was then that I learned his name is pronounced phonetically, as in “Lewis,” not “Louie.” After the DVD, Elaine guided us to the house.

Everything in the house is nearly as it was when Louis’s wife Lucille died in 1983, 12 years after his passing. Even the doorbell, which Elaine rang before we walked in, was original.

After walking in, Elaine guided us to the living room, which included portraits of Louis and Lucille, lavish furnishings, and a Spinet piano (which he didn’t play).

Louis and I have something in common: home speech recordings. His medium was reel-to-reel tape; my media were cassette and microcassette. When I was younger, I would record myself, either talking about what I’d been up to recently, interviewing family members, or co-hosting a “radio show” with my cousin Chris. That last one was also recorded on video. While we were in the den, Elaine played a few examples of Louis’s speech recordings. As we learned later in the tour, he also recorded singing and trumpet improvisation from home.

The next stop was the downstairs bathroom with bathtub. The wall and ceiling were all mirrors. After that, it was on to the dining room, which led into the kitchen. Floral wallpaper adorned the walls and part of the ceiling. The cabinets and dishwasher were blue while the counter, sink, and dual oven (with six gas burners) was white. A can opener was built into the wall along with a compartment with paper towels, foil, and plastic wrap. Adjacent to the kitchen was a smaller dining room, which served as Louis and Lucille’s bedroom while Lucille’s mother lived with them and stayed in their bedroom.

The tour headed upstairs where the aforementioned bedroom and recording room were located. The bedroom had a double-size bed with drawers on either side, paintings of scenery hanging on the walls, Mylar wallpaper, a lamp, and a chandelier. The Mylar wallpaper carried into the spacious bathroom and closet. The recording room had reel-to-reel tape decks, amps, a record player, radio, shelves of records and tapes, a desk, and a portrait of Louis painted by his friend Tony Bennett. Bennett signed it with his real surname: Benedetto. Actually, the tapes and records are housed at Queens College, but will move to the Education Center that is going to be constructed across the street from Louis’s house.

That concluded the tour. I didn’t list everything that Lori and I saw and were told by Elaine, but I feel I’ve shared enough. I highly recommend taking the tour. Plan your visit here.

When we got back outside, Elaine suggested we pose with Louis’s cutout. She said it was necessary to gesture as he did:

Lori suggested taking one with Elaine:

In the gift shop, I bought a sticker, pin, picture postcards, and a DVD of an American Masters documentary from 1989: Satchmo: The Life of Louis Armstrong. Some of the interviews were filmed in the living room.

Before we left, I signed the guest book:

Lori and I walked back to her car and we drove to the Queens Museum at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

As I noted at the top, we walked through the park first. On our way to the Unisphere, I got a great view of the New York State Pavilion:

The Unisphere:

Lori walked toward the fountains, but I stayed behind; I didn’t want to get wet:

A different angle:

A closer look at the New York State Pavilion:

I even caught a quick glimpse inside the pavilion right before the gates were closed:

They were open because New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio toured the interior earlier in the afternoon.

Lori was fortunate enough to attend the 1964 New York World’s Fair, as did my grandparents, parents, and my parents’ siblings. My maternal grandfather, Arthur Rose, brought his movie camera to the fair and captured what he saw. The film, along with all of his home movies, was transferred to VHS 30 years ago. Six years ago, I transferred the VHS tapes to an external hard drive and then to DVDs.

Here is what my grandfather captured:

I also posted the film to Facebook, which garnered nothing but positive feedback and memories. My aunt Randy Stephen (née Rose), who was in the film, had this to say:

That was really wonderful, Mike (although I can just imagine how many times grandma must have yelled at grandpa for his camera work 😝)! I do remember going to the World’s Fair a few times, although I was only 6 or 7 at the time. The kid going crazy in the beginning must have been Bruce Goldberger, since I saw his mom, Ann, in the movie, as well. They were our neighbors in [the] Colony Park [section of Freeport].

Hank Neimark – a fellow alumnus of LIU Post and its radio station, WCWP – was there, too:

Michael Kosmin (Charter WCWP-FM guy) and I, claiming that we were doing radio reports on the ’64 World’s Fair, managed to get rides on the Goodyear Blimp. We contacted Goodyear PR, got permission over the phone, and with Nagra in hand headed out to the now abandoned Flushing airport. Of course we weren’t on the air yet, butcha know…. What a thrill. Over Manhattan, over the bridges, and over the Fair. We hitched on to the blimp twice.

Thank you to Hank and Aunt Randy for your stories.

Before heading into the Queens Museum, I heard a plane flying overhead – likely approaching nearby LaGuardia Airport – and quickly photographed it:

Founded in 1972, the Queens Museum is housed in the New York City Building, a pavilion built for the 1939 New York World’s Fair and used again for the 1964 fair. In between the fairs, it was the home of the United Nations General Assembly for the U.N.’s first few years of existence. (Sources: Building History | Queens Museum, Queens Museum Wikipedia entry)

Lori and I looked at a few exhibits in the museum, starting with another relic of the 1964 World’s Fair: the Panorama of the City of New York:

I had to sharpen the pictures below since they came out blurry.

I didn’t have to sharpen these:

World’s Fair Visible Storage:

This houses memorabilia from the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs.

Nine: 2017 Queens Museum Studio Program Exhibition:

Our second museum trip concluded with the Neustadt Collection of Tiffany Glass:

After I bought a book of World’s Fair postcards in the gift shop, Lori and I returned to the car and she drove me home. There was heavy traffic going back, too, so it took another hour and a half to get home. The traffic gave us plenty of time to talk and listen to the jazz CDs I brought with me.

I had a wonderful time at the museums and in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. Thanks again, Lori. Until next year.

SJFS 2017 Night 1 recap May 8, 2017

Posted by Mike C. in Audio, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Photography, Radio, Travel, Video Games, Weather.
13 comments

Other SJFS recaps: 2008, 2008 meet-and-greet, 2009, 2010, 2011, 20122013 Night 1, 2013 Night 2, 2014 Night 1, 2014 Night 2, 2015 Night 1, 2016 Night 1, 2016 Night 2, 2017 Night 2

On Friday and Saturday nights, keyboardist Jay Rowe hosted the 15th annual Smooth Jazz for Scholars in his hometown of Milford, Connecticut. The concerts benefit the Milford Public Schools music department. Friday’s headliners were Will Donato, Nick Colionne, Jeff Kashiwa, and Rick Braun.

It was ten years ago April 28 that I attended SJFS for the first time, making this my 11th year in attendance. Like that first time, my parents came with me.

We left for the Milford Hampton Inn at around 2:30. It had been rainy and windy all day, but the rain let up and wind diminished about a half hour into our drive. Unfortunately, we encountered heavy traffic throughout, especially in Connecticut.  Under normal traffic, we’d be at the hotel in an hour and 45 minutes, but the drive took nearly twice as long this time.

Perhaps as a good omen, the Watercolors channel on SiriusXM played “Smooth Ride,” the title track from Jay’s latest album:

Watercolors was on throughout our not-so-smooth ride. I also spent the first half of the ride breaking in my new Nintendo 3DS XL. I played a couple of 3DS games – Super Mario 3D Land and Mario Kart 7 (just the time trials) – as well as two DS games – Mario Kart DS (again, only the time trials) and You Don’t Know Jack.

After checking in and settling in to our third floor rooms, we made our way to the home of Smooth Jazz for Scholars: Veterans Memorial Auditorium, located in the Parsons Government Center. Along the way, we ate dinner at Wendy’s.

At 8:10, the show began, as Kevin McCabe of Jumpstart Jazz welcomed the audience and thanked sponsors:

The show opened with performances by West Shore Middle School general music students, directed by Chris Kalafus:

…and the Foran High School Jazz Ensemble, directed by Jessica Shearer:

Then, it was on to the main event. Jay Rowe’s house band consisted of Rohn (“Ron”) Lawrence on guitar, Dave Anderson on bass, Trever Somerville on drums, and Steve Scales on percussion. Pictures of the band and headliners can be seen below, but first…

SET LIST
1. Bumpin’ on Hollywood (Jay Rowe)
Originally heard on: Red Hot and Smooth (2006)
Featured musicians: Jay Rowe (keyboards), Jonathan Law/Foran High School horn section, Rick Braun (trumpet), Will Donato (alto sax), Jeff Kashiwa (tenor sax)

2. Funkability (Will Donato)
Originally heard on: What It Takes (2010)
Featured musicians: Will Donato (alto sax), Rohn Lawrence (guitar)

3. New Life (Will Donato)
Originally heard on: Will Power (2005)
Featured musician: Will Donato (alto sax)

4. When You Love Somebody (Nick Colionne)
Originally heard on: Influences (2014)
Featured musicians: Nick Colionne (guitar, vocals), Jason Grant (drums)

5. The Journey (Nick Colionne)
Originally heard on: The Journey (2016)
Featured musicians: Nick Colionne (guitar), Jason Grant (drums)

6. Movin’ Up (Jeff Kashiwa)
Originally heard on: Play (2007)
Featured musician: Jeff Kashiwa (tenor sax)

7. Do It Again (Jeff Kashiwa; Steely Dan cover)
Originally heard on: Upcoming album
Featured musician: Jeff Kashiwa (tenor sax), Rohn Lawrence (guitar)

8. Notorious (Rick Braun)
Originally heard on: Body and Soul (1997), Sessions: Volume 1 (2006)
Featured musicians: Rick Braun (flugelhorn), Will Donato (tenor sax)

9. My Funny Valentine (Rick Braun; standard by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart)
Featured musician: Rick Braun (vocals, muted trumpet)

10. Everything is Alright (Rick Braun)
Originally heard on: Around the Horn (2017)
Featured musicians: Rick Braun (trumpet, vocals), Rohn Lawrence (guitar, vocals), Jay Rowe (keyboards, vocals)

11. Morning Call (Nick Colionne)
Originally heard on: The Journey (2016)
Featured musicians: Nick Colionne (guitar), Jason Grant (drums)

12. Supersonic (Will Donato)
Originally heard on: Supersonic (to be released July 2017)
Featured musicians: Will Donato (alto sax), Jeff Kashiwa (tenor sax)

13. Hyde Park (The “Ah, Oooh” Song) (Jeff Kashiwa)
Originally heard on: Another Door Opens (2000)
Featured musicians: Jeff Kashiwa (tenor sax), audience (“ah, oooh”)

14 (Finale). Grazin’ in the Grass (Rick Braun; Hugh Masekela cover [a.k.a. “Grazing in the Grass”])
Originally heard on: Shake It Up (collaboration with Boney James) (2000); Sessions: Volume 1 (2006)
Featured musicians: Everyone

As promised, here are the pictures. We start with the “Bumpin’ on Hollywood” horns:

Jay Rowe:

Rohn Lawrence:

Dave Anderson:

Trever Somerville:

Steve Scales:

After “Bumpin’ on Hollywood,” Will Donato went to the lobby to start “Funkability.” He worked his way through the audience, picking out my friend Kelly along the way to the stage:

Now, the on-stage shots:

Tenor sax on “Notorious”:

Nick Colionne:

Vocals on “When You Love Somebody”:

Working through the audience on “Morning Call”:

Spotting my camera:

Striking a pose:

I gave him an approving thumbs up as the audience laughed.

Jason Grant was on drums for Nick’s songs:

Jeff Kashiwa:

Rick Braun on flugelhorn for “Notorious”:

On hitting the last note: “I can do it!”

He did:

Muted trumpet for “My Funny Valentine”:

Regular trumpet for “Everything is Alright”:

Rick also sang “My Funny Valentine”:

…and “Everything is Alright”:

Rohn backed him up:

And so did Jay!

Will and Rohn:

Jeff and Rohn:

Rick and Will:

Rick and Rohn:

Will and Jeff:

The finale: “Grazin’ in the Grass”:

Jay had some closing remarks as the song wound down:

The last note:

Before I left for the night, I caught up with Will Donato and we posed for a picture:

It’s always nice to see him. He’s been very complimentary of my work, and was when we spoke Friday night. It goes without saying that I’m fond of his work, as well. When I posted on Facebook yesterday that I was back home, he left the following comment:

Mike! It was so great to see you! You always make me feel so welcome when I travel back east! I respect and admire YOUR talents! WD

Reading that now brings a smile to my face.

A recap of Saturday night’s show can be seen here.

Acoustic Alchemy at Iridium on my 35th birthday November 20, 2016

Posted by Mike C. in Food, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Photography, Radio, Travel, Weather.
3 comments

Other Acoustic Alchemy recaps: June 2008, October 2010, June 2012

11/24 UPDATE: I forgot to note that this trip to see Acoustic Alchemy at the Iridium came ten years to the date after seeing Yellowjackets at Birdland on my 25th birthday. I referenced that trip back in April.

Thursday night, on my 35th birthday, I took a trip to the Iridium in Manhattan’s Theater District to see British contemporary jazz band Acoustic Alchemy perform. It was my first time back at the venue since October 2012, one week before Hurricane Sandy.

Following Chieli Minucci and Special EFX at the Long Beach Jazz Festival in September, I learned through fellow audience members that Acoustic Alchemy would be playing at the Iridium two months later, on November 17 and 18, to close out their U.S. tour. My birthday falls on the 17th, so I bought a ticket for that night. There were two shows each night, at 8:30 and 10:30. As usual, I chose the early show.

Since I would be on my own at the Iridium, birthday dinner and ice cream cake with my family was moved up to Wednesday night. My parents, sister, and I ate dinner at Margarita’s Cafe, a Mexican restaurant in North Wantagh:
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Ice cream cake was waiting back at home:
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We usually get Carvel cakes, but this one was from Friendly’s. It tasted just as good.

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I spent much of my 35th birthday afternoon responding to “Happy Birthday” wishes on Facebook. One of my friends, radio personality Don Tandler, quipped in his wish that I’m no longer in the young demographic, which is 18 to 34. I got a chuckle out of that.

At about 4:10, I took an extended walk from my Wantagh Woods home, to make up for not running, to the Wantagh LIRR station and bought an off peak round trip ticket for Penn Station. I boarded the 4:59 train and arrived an hour later. I responded to more birthday wishes on the train.

I was told the Iridium door wasn’t opened until 7:30, which meant I had a lot of time to kill. Rather than take the 1 Subway train to West 50th Street, I walked all the way from Penn Station to the club.

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The walk took twenty minutes. I stood outside for about ten minutes before figuring out I could wait inside at the bottom of the stairwell.

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I was first in line.

Once staff began letting ticket holders in, a few minutes before 7:30, I chose a seat at a center table right by the stage.

While waiting for the set to start, I took a picture of the monitor as this upcoming event image was on screen:
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8:30 arrived and the show began. The image below was posted to Acoustic Alchemy’s Facebook page a few minutes in:

You can see me, camera in hand, right by the stage. You’ll also notice the stage has been renovated since my last visit.

Acoustic Alchemy was made up of Miles Gilderdale on electric guitar:
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…and acoustic guitar:
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“The Detroit Shuffle” vocal medley:
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Filling in for Greg Carmichael was Nate Najar – a native of St. Petersburg, Florida – on acoustic guitar:
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Rounding out the band was Gary Grainger – out of Baltimore, Maryland – on bass:
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Vocalizing on “One for Shorty”:
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Gary’s brother Greg on drums:
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…and Fred White on keyboards:
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There were ten songs on the set list:
1. Homecoming
Originally heard on: Reference Point, 1990; Arcanum, 1996; Live in London, 2014

2. Overnight Sleeper
Originally heard on: Natural Elements, 1988; Live in London, 2014

3. Mr. Chow
Originally heard on: Red Dust & Spanish Lace, 1987; Arcanum, 1996

4. The Detroit Shuffle
Originally heard on: American/English, 2005

5. One for Shorty
Originally heard on: Roseland, 2011; Live in London, 2014

6. Clear Air for Miles
Originally heard on: Back on the Case, 1991

7. Ariane
Originally heard on: Blue Chip, 1989; Live in London, 2014

8. The Beautiful Game
Originally heard on: The Beautiful Game, 2000; Sounds of St. Lucia, 2003; Live in London, 2014

9. Catalina Kiss
Originally heard on: Blue Chip, 1989; Arcanum, 1996

10 (Finale). Kidstuff
Originally heard on: The Beautiful Game, 2000

Here are wide shots, starting with Miles’s high notes on “The Detroit Shuffle”:
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The finale – “Kidstuff”:
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The last note:
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“Thanks so much, guys!”:
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There was a meet-and-greet after the show. I let Fred White know on Facebook, in the days leading up to Thursday, that I was coming, so he was happy to see me. The feeling was mutual. It was also nice to see Gary Grainger, who I first discovered through his appearances – and Greg’s, as well – on many Ken Navarro albums. I had a female audience member take our picture:
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My camera’s lens focused on the wall rather than us, which happened in a few attempts at a picture the night before at Margarita’s. Since time was short, I didn’t have that audience member take us again. I told Fred, “I’ll get it in editing.”

Thank you to Miles, Nate, Gary, Greg, and Fred for their musical 35th birthday present. I had a blast.

And thank you to everyone that passed along birthday wishes the day before, on, the day after, two days after, and even three days after my birthday.

Jeff Dunham at Carnegie Hall October 22, 2016

Posted by Mike C. in Comedy, Hockey, Internet, Jazz, Media, Music, News, Personal, Phone, Photography, Politics, Sports, Travel, TV, Video, Weather.
Tags: , , , , ,
1 comment so far

(10/26 UPDATE: I have censored the few curse words that were in the recap.)

(10/23 NOTE: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said Jeff’s show ran “about 70 minutes.” I have corrected that to read “2 hours and 13 minutes.”)

I was in Manhattan for the second night in a row yesterday. Thursday, I was down in Greenwich Village to see the Chick Corea Elektric Band. Yesterday, I was uptown at Carnegie Hall to see ventriloquist and comedian Jeff Dunham. Pictures weren’t allowed during the show, which was part of Jeff’s Perfectly Unbalanced Tour, but I took my plenty before and after. I had to use my iPhone 6 because mobile devices were all that were allowed.

This was my fourth time at Carnegie Hall, but the first time in the Stern Auditorium. My previous three trips were to see pianist Lisa Hilton in the intimate Weill Recital Hall.

Jeff Dunham and his crew made their way to Carnegie at around 4:30. Jeff posted live video of the walk to Facebook:

About an hour after that streaming video, I left the house for the Wantagh LIRR station. It was the last day of a warm and humid air mass. Nonetheless, like Thursday night, I wore my green spring squall jacket in case of rain. There was nary a drop; only fog and mist when I returned six hours later. There had been rain earlier in the day, but while I waited for the 5:59 train for Penn Station, Wantagh was in between rain bands. The band to the east must have been intense because there were impressive cumulonimbus clouds:
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Low cumulus clouds set in starting in Queens, appearing dark against the setting sun.

There were New York Islanders fans on the train through Jamaica. They changed there for the Atlantic Terminal train to Barclays Center where the Islanders went on to beat the Arizona Coyotes 3-2.

The train arrived at Penn Station at 6:55. From there, I took the E train to West 53rd Street and walked four blocks to Carnegie Hall.

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Once there, the crowd had to wait until 7:30 for the Stern Auditorium doors to open. After getting a bottle of water, I got to my balcony seat. Trivia, social media posts, and pictures were shown on the monitor:
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The ceiling:
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There was a welcome announcement at 8:03 following by three intro videos at 8:06. Since they’re from Jeff’s YouTube channel, I’ve included them below:

After an auto-tune montage, the show officially began at 8:16. The voice of Achmed the Dead Terrorist announced Jeff and he walked on stage. I looked at him on the monitor most of the time since I was so high up.

I took ten pages of notes in a 7 x 5 notebook. Below are some of those notes. I’ll try not to give too much away.

Jeff’s opening act:

  • Informal election vote: Hillary – cheers, Donald – more cheers
  • Why he’s a ventriloquist
  • Family – daughters, Audrey, twin boys
  • How Jeff and Audrey found out they were having twins, Jack and James
  • The twins’ birth
  • Changing diapers in NICU
  • Breastfeeding
  • Baby pictures – meme photo (“I CAME OUT OF YOUR WHAT???”), then actual photos: their first birthday, Jeff holding them like dumbbells, at Disneyland
  • Left stage, came back
  • Videotaping show to include message to sons when they’re older

After the opening act, it was time to open the boxes and bring out the characters. Walter came first:

  • “Oh, shut the hell up! (mocking laugh)”
  • Joke about New Jersey
  • How do you get to Carnegie Hall? “Uber.”
  • Joke about auditorium appearance
  • Sick of election garbage – doesn’t like either candidate – like going in for colonoscopy
  • Cut to a video:

  • “You know, folks tell me that I should run for president”
  • Wife
  • Life after death
  • “If Trump becomes president, José’ll be out of the show” (a reference to José Jalapeño on a Stick)
  • Being an older parent
  • “Say good night, Walter.” “Thanks, everybody!”

Before bringing out the next character, Jeff announced that his next special will be taped in Dublin, Ireland, in May for Netflix. It will debut in August. The theme will be family. Jeff found out he is of Irish descent. To that end, a new character he tried out at Carnegie Hall was an Irish baby he was trying to get adopted:

  • Big head
  • Adult voice with brogue
  • Influenced by the other characters (“I keel you” from Achmed)
  • Much smarter than apparent age
  • Cursing (from Peanut)
  • Mother gave him up for adoption
  • Vaccination/shots – “Gin, rum, vodka”
  • Can’t walk, but can pub crawl
  • “All the drunks just think I’m a leprechaun”
  • “And that’s the new baby!”

Bubba J:

  • “I’m doin’ pretty good!”
  • “…watchin’ NASCAR and drinkin’ beer”
  • Twins
  • Wife
  • Running for president
  • “Press the flesh”
  • Debate/da bait, defense/da fence, Syria/Siri
  • Fracking: “Me and the wife are down to once a month”
  • “Say good night, Bubba J”

Peanut:

  • “Dat’s goooooooooood!”
  • (singing): “New York…..”
  • “Two infants at your age, how the hell did that happen?!”
  • Running gags (toward Jeff, into mic): “’cause you’re old”, “’cause you’re an a**h***”, “’cause I’m an a**h***”
  • Porn riff (“chicka-chicka-wow-wow”) – baby-related dirty talk
  • Caffeine zaniness – “It’s great!”, “Yes!”
  • Coffee enema
  • Lost a shoe – “No, dude, I found one”
  • Peanut fell off and his mouth was stuck open – after a few minutes of incoherent speech (“ahh***”), Jeff closed it
  • “Jeff-fa-fa”
  • “Nnnnnnyeow!”
  • Spoke to two men in the front row
  • Hearing aid joke (pretending to cut out)

Achmed the Dead Terrorist:

  • “Most beloved terrorist throughout the world”
  • Achmed’s origin story – tried out Dead Osama a year after 9/11, six blocks from Ground Zero – crowd loved act – retooled as Achmed starting in Spark of Insanity
  • “Greetings, American infidels!”
  • Usama Bin Laden is “dead dead”
  • “Do you know me, infidels?!” – cheers – “Thank you, I keel you (2x)”
  • “Achhhhhmed”
  • “It’s not funny!”
  • “Silence! I keel you!” – cheers – “Thank you, I keel you”
  • Achmed’s many kids: “…and Steve”
  • Games
  • Life story: “Once upon a time, (boom!). The end.”
  • Presidential election
  • “Oh! Bomb! Ah!”
  • Questions: “Dear Achmed…” – by my count, 19 questions – Favorite breakfast cereal: “Life” – Hugh Jorgen (huge organ): “I can’t believe you fell for that!” – Legs fell off, then arms, then ribcage

After one last joke, that was it. Since it was over, I resumed photography. There was one last bit of business for Jeff: a crowd selfie with his wife Audrey.

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Here’s how that selfie looked:

As you can see, balcony members weren’t in the picture, but I don’t mind.

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In all, Jeff was on stage for 2 hours and 13 minutes, leaving the stage at 10:29.

I took a selfie of my own a few minutes later:
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Then, I made my way down the stairs, through the lobby, and out the door. Merchandise was available in the lobby:
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Rather than walk back to West 53rd Street to take the E train again, I walked to 59th Street-Columbus Circle station.

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I took the 1 train back to Penn Station:
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I would have taken the 11:08 LIRR train to Wantagh, but there happened to be an 11:01 express train that didn’t make local stops until Wantagh. So, I boarded that one. There were some passengers that didn’t realize it was an express and had to change at Jamaica for the later, entirely-local train. It only took 43 minutes to get to Wantagh! Now that’s what I call express! I wouldn’t have arrived until 20 minutes later had I taken 11:08 train.

Thus ended my six-hour adventure. Jeff was hilarious, as always. I wish the show was available on video so I could watch it again and again. My notes and memories will have to do until then.

While I slept, Jeff was live on Facebook as his YouTube channel surpassed one million subscribers!

Congratulations, Jeff, and thank you to fans like me for getting the channel to a million and beyond.

Chick Corea Elektric Band at Blue Note October 21, 2016

Posted by Mike C. in Comedy, Internet, Interviews, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Photography, Radio, Travel.
4 comments

After a month away from the Blue Note Jazz Club in Greenwich Village, I returned last night to see the Chick Corea Elektric Band. It was the first of two shows in two nights. Tonight, I’m going to see ventriloquist and comedian Jeff Dunham in the Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall. Pictures aren’t allowed, so that recap will be all words. (10/22 UPDATE: The recap of that show is now up. I was allowed to take pictures before and after, but I was still quite descriptive. Jeff’s YouTube videos and social media posts are also included in the recap.)

After the seating issue when I went to see Lee Ritenour in August, I opted for a seat further from the stage last night. It was still cramped, but my table seat was against the wall, which meant I was free to get up to take pictures without getting in anyone’s way. It was quite a workout, in addition to the 7.6 miles I ran in the afternoon. I was seated across from Phil, an avid Chick Corea fan from Vancouver, and his wife Kim. They made the time before the show worthwhile.

Now, the backstory: Pianist, keyboardist, and composer Chick Corea turned 75 back in June. In honor of this milestone, Blue Note arranged a two-month celebration/residency, which began Wednesday night with the first of five nights of the Chick Corea Elektric Band. The residency ends with Return to Forever meets Mahavishnu (Orchestra, I assume) from December 8 through 11. That show will combine half of Return to Forever, Chick and drummer Lenny White, along with Mahavishnu John McLaughlin on guitar. Victor Wooten will round out that band on bass.

The Elektric Band featured its definitive lineup, first heard on Light Years, the band’s second album, in 1987.

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Chick Corea played keyboards:
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…piano:
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…and, during the encore, keytar:
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Eric Marienthal was on alto sax:
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…and soprano sax:
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Frank Gambale on guitar:
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John Patitucci on bass:
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…and Dave Weckl on drums:
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The 8:00 set consisted of six songs with extended solos. The songs were:
1. Trance Dance
Originally heard on: Eye of the Beholder, 1988

2. C.T.A. (Miles Davis cover)
Originally heard on: Paint the World, 1993

3. Jocelyn – The Commander
Originally heard on: To the Stars, 2004

4. Beneath the Mask
Originally heard on: Beneath the Mask, 1991

5. Silver Temple
Originally heard on: The Chick Corea Elektric Band, 1986

6 (Encore). Got a Match?
Originally heard on: The Chick Corea Elektric Band, 1986

The encore started with an audience call and response intro. Chick would play:
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…and the audience would echo:
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Then, “Got a Match”:
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The last note:
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After the set, I briefly caught up with drummer Dave Weckl and we posed for a picture:
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I had a longer conversation with saxophonist Eric Marienthal, whom I’ve seen perform many times: with the Rippingtons in 2005, David Benoit in 2006, at Smooth Jazz for Scholars in 2008, solo in 2011, and with the Jeff Lorber Fusion in 2014, my first time at the Blue Note.

Just as we were posing for a picture, bassist John Patitucci walked by and I asked if he could get in, too. He did:
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I interviewed both Eric and John on The Mike Chimeri Show over a decade ago. All interviews can be heard here. (Out of self-consciousness, I haven’t listened since editing them for air.)

The Chick Corea Elektric Band put on a thrilling show last night. If you’d like to see them and get the same thrill I did, they play at 8:00 and 10:30 tonight, tomorrow night, and Sunday night.

Here is the rest of Chick’s residency schedule:

  • October 26-30: For Miles
  • November 2-6: Three Quartets, the Leprechaun Band
  • November 9-10: Experiments in Electronica
  • November 11-13: Flamenco Heart
  • November 16-17: Chick Corea Big Band
  • November 18-20: The Piano Duets
  • November 22-23: Chick Corea & Gary Burton
  • November 25-27: Origin II
  • November 30-December 4: The Music of Return to Forever – Acoustic
  • December 7: Chick Corea with John McLaughlin
  • December 8-11: Return to Forever meets Mahavishnu

10/30 UPDATE: Highlights from all five nights of the Elektric Band at Blue Note were posted to Chick’s Facebook page:

2016 LIU Post & WCWP Homecoming, 2017 Hall of Fame Announcement October 10, 2016

Posted by Mike C. in Airchecks, Audio, Comedy, Football, Interviews, Jazz, Media, Music, Personal, Photography, Radio, Sports, Travel, Video, Weather.
7 comments

Earlier recaps: 2008, 2009, WCWP 50th Anniversary (2011), 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015

Later in this recap, I share airchecks from my pre-recorded Homecoming Weekend show that aired early yesterday morning. To see and hear my live show on Friday, click here.

After kicking off Homecoming Weekend on Friday, I returned to the campus of LIU Post for Homecoming itself.

On my way to campus, I put on WCWP, whose signal wasn’t entirely clear at first, and listened to the Post Pioneers‘ Homecoming game against the Saint Anselm Hawks. The game had begun moments earlier and it was already 14-0! As my mother turned toward the Abrams Communications Building, where WCWP is located, the Pioneers scored their third touchdown to go ahead 21-0.

When I made my way from WCWP to Bethpage Federal Credit Union Stadium, all part of my Homecoming Day routine, it was 35-14 with a minute to go in the first half.

Before standing by the gate adjacent to the field, I photographed the carnival rides in the parking lot:
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Skies were cloudy and the air was mild and humid. There was spotty drizzle, but not enough to scare me away. (My camera isn’t weatherproof.)

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Joe Szadok and Jeff Kroll, on the right end of the press box (their left), called the game for WCWP:
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The series of pictures below are the touchdown to increase the Pioneers lead to 41-14, followed by the extra point that made the score 42-14:
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The Pioneers would go on to rout the Hawks 63-20 (thanks to a missed extra point) and improved their record to 6-0.

On my way back to WCWP, I zoomed my camera lens to 300 mm lens as an Emirates airline jet flew low in its descent toward JFK International Airport:
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The spotty drizzle intensified to a light rain shower, so I had to put my camera under my jacket for the rest of the walk back. Except for walks to and from Hillwood Commons for snacks from the vending machine, I didn’t leave WCWP until my dad picked me up an hour into Mike Riccio and Bobby G.’s radio show. More on that later.

I was pleasantly surprised to see faces from my early days at WCWP, especially Joe Manfredi, the former director of operations:
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Also on hand were Billy Houst and Karen Fiorelli, who took this picture of Joe, him, me, and Jay Mirabile:
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Jay is my biggest champion, always propping me up on Facebook, complimenting me and my talents.

John Zoni hosted the halftime and postgame shows:
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Bernie Bernard, who once again had a show after the football game, spoke to Jeff and Joe, still in the press box, during the postgame show:
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Here’s Bernie, moments into her show:
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When she wasn’t playing music, she played host to a cavalcade of alumni, starting with Bobby Guthenberg, AKA Bobby G.:
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Next were Jeff Kroll, fresh from the press box, and Pete Bellotti to announce the 2017 inductees to the WCWP Hall of Fame:
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The 2017 inductees are Neil Marks, John LiBretto, and John March.

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Jay Elzweig gathered by Jeff and Pete’s mic to discuss his history with WCWP and “The Original Hootenanny” show:
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Jay resurrected “The Hootenanny” in a show that aired at 4AM yesterday following my show.

Bill Mozer, who had his camcorder and 4-channel portable recorder set up in Studio 2, also spoke briefly. I was diagonal from Bill’s setup and shot the pictures you’re seeing here from the same spot.

After a few songs, David Kaplan was next to speak:
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He invited his daughter Alexa, a student at LIU Post, to join him at the mic.

David and Alexa gave way to more songs, then Roger Luce and Mike Schanzer (AKA Magick Mike Hendryx):
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Mike had a solo segment, as well:
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Unlike on Friday when he followed me, I followed him in the interview chair (via vidcaps):
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Bernie’s last aircheck of the show included Jett Lightning and Wolf German, a former student of hers:
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Wolf is enthusiastic and affable, and it was a pleasure to meet him. Jett agreed.

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Jett stuck around for Mike Riccio and Bobby G., and Bill Mozer checked on his setup:
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After the above picture, I packed up the camcorder and tripod and left Studio 2. I came back in for one final shot during Mike and Bobby’s phone interview with Chuck Taylor:
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As you see, Jay Elzweig stopped by the studio before he left for the night.

When I got home, I edited pictures, selected which to post here and Facebook, and began mixing camcorder video with my recording from the FM tuner and studio board. All the while, I listened to the rest of Mike and Bobby’s show, and Bruce Leonard and John Commins after them. Here’s the final cut of the video, which I rendered and posted to YouTube yesterday afternoon:

While waiting in Studio 3 for my dad to pull into the parking lot, I had Jeff Kroll take pictures of me with Alana Leider:
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…and John Zoni:
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Then, I took pictures of Pat Kroll and Lew Scharfberg:
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Alan Boritz and Pat Kroll:
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Lew Scharfberg, Jeff Kroll, Bruce Leonard:
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…and finally, Bill Mozer and Bernie Bernard:
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Thus ended a busy day at LIU Post. It’s always great to catch up with alumni I know and meet alumni for the first time. It’s also great to hear the various shows throughout Homecoming Weekend. “I’m listening to the very end,” I wrote in the WCWP Alumni Association Facebook group during Jeff Kroll’s 10PM show last night. “You sound great, Jeff.”

Here’s how Jeff signed off just before midnight:

Until next year, I’ll leave you with airchecks from the prerecorded Instrumental Invasion with Mike Chimeri that aired at 2AM yesterday:

…and the playlist.

As I noted last week, I recorded the show from home. It sounded great on the web stream, which I was awake to listen to.

Shelly Peiken book discussion and signing October 5, 2016

Posted by Mike C. in Books, Music, Personal, Photography, Radio, Travel.
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10/5 UPDATE: A revision I made today in the WordPress app changed the link to this post. I originally posted this on SEPTEMBER 25, not today.

Back in March, I wrote about my experience reading songwriter and Freeport native Shelly Peiken‘s (“PIE-kin”) book, Confessions of a Serial Songwriter. I was hoping for an opportunity to meet her in person the next time there was a book signing in New York City or here on Long Island. Over the summer, that opportunity came to be as Shelly invited me and her fellow Facebook friends to an event on Friday night at Turn of the Corkscrew Books & Wine in Rockville Centre, not too far from the LIRR station. I proudly committed to going, as did many other friends from her youth in Freeport. That includes my mother Lisa, who grew up within walking distance of Shelly.

My original itinerary to get to Turn of the Corkscrew was similar to the previous Friday’s journey to Long Beach for the Long Beach Jazz Festival. The only difference is I would eat an early dinner at home before leaving for the Wantagh LIRR station where I would take the 5:59 train. Mom would meet up with me in RVC, as it’s colloquially known, coming from work in Freeport. That never happened because Mom decided to come home first so we could go together. We did, leaving the house at about 5:50. We arrived a half hour later. Shelly wasn’t due to speak until 7:00, but I always like to be early so I can get a prime seat.

After having a can of diet ginger ale and two chocolate chip cookies, I took these preliminary pictures:
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Shelly arrived on time, hugging my mother Lisa on the way to the podium:
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For about an hour, Shelly read excerpts from Confessions of a Serial Songwriter
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…and sang a few of her songs:
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The songs were:
Bitch” – #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 for Meredith Brooks in 1997
Almost Doesn’t Count” – #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 for Brandy in 1999; #19 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart for Mark Wills in 2000
Human on the Inside” – #59 in Australia for the Divinyls in 1996; #30 on the Billboard Adult Pop Songs chart for the Pretenders (as “Human”) in 1999
Who You Are” – #8 on the UK Singles chart for Jessie J in 2011

Mom loved “Almost Doesn’t Count.” “That’s very pretty,” she complimented after the last chord. “Thank you, Lisa,” Shelly cheerfully replied. Mom added, “It’s my kind of song.”

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Shelly also admitted she’s working on an audiobook version of Confessions. I can’t wait to hear it.

After Shelly’s friend Suzan Koç took a group picture of her with all of us in the first few rows, it was time for the signing portion of the night. I had my copy ready and Mom bought a copy, too.

She wrote the following in my copy:

Mike –
I love that you came
Nice to meet you in person
Shelly

I couldn’t agree more.

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Here’s what she wrote in Mom’s copy:
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Lisa –
I cried when I saw your face
Shelly

Aww.

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As the crowd thinned out, all that remained were Shelly and her friends. They sat, reminisced, and looked at childhood pictures, for a half hour. I sat with them and took it all in.

Before sitting down, Shelly gathered them for a picture:
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From left to right, there’s Linda, Lisa, Celeste, Shelly, Lisa, and Peggy.

Thank you again, Shelly. I had a wonderful time, and I know (friends) did, too. Tell Suzan it was nice to meet her, too. And thank you, also, to Carol Hoenig and Peggy Zieran, the co-owners of Turn of the Corkscrew.

Kerry Kearney Band, Special EFX at Long Beach Jazz Festival 2016 September 19, 2016

Posted by Mike C. in Jazz, Music, Personal, Photography, Travel.
2 comments

On Friday, for the first time in four years, I came to the second day of the four-day Long Beach (NY) Jazz Festival. This was the festival’s 14th year and the sixth year I’ve attended.

I was there to see Chieli Minucci and Special EFX, but was treated to blues by the Kerry Kearney Band beforehand.

Despite running 7.6 miles earlier in the afternoon, I walked a mile and a half to the Wantagh LIRR station just before 4:00. I waited for the 4:27 westbound train, which I took to Lynbrook. Then, I switched platforms to board the Long Beach train. I took the same two trains four years ago.

After I arrived in Long Beach, I walked to Brixx & Barley for a pasta dinner. I had eaten there with my parents and sister on Mother’s Day after we walked the Long Beach Boardwalk.

Unfortunately, there was still a lot of time before the Long Beach Public Library was opened to patrons. So, I walked to the nearby Starbucks and treated myself to dessert. There were only a few people outside the library when I left, but a crowd had gathered when I returned. I was still able to get a front row seat when the doors opened at 6:45.

The Kerry Kearney Band went on just after 7:00.

Here’s Kerry in action:
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The rest of Kerry’s band was David Cohen on piano:
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Gerry Sorrento on bass:
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Mario Stiano on drums:
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…and Nydia “Liberty” Mata on percussion:
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I saw Nydia perform with Alan Bates at the 2008 festival, and she played the steel drums during cocktail hour at my friends Jenni and Clemente’s wedding reception a few weeks after the 2011 festival.

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The band was also joined by Victor Poretz on harmonica:
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…and Charlie on trombone:
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A few wide shots:
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The last note:
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The set lasted about an hour. A half hour later, it was time for Chieli Minucci and Special EFX.

As with the Kerry Kearney Band, Special EFX was introduced by Steve Adelson, Long Beach Jazz Festival founder and Chapman Stick player:
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Chieli played electric guitar:
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…and acoustic guitar:
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Jay Rowe was on keyboards:
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Jerry Brooks on bass:
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Joel Rosenblatt on drums:
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…and Antoine Silverman on violin:
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As always the set list was a mix of Special EFX tunes and Chieli’s solo work. Here’s the list:
1. Courageous Cats
Originally heard on: Jewels (Chieli), 1995

2. Dance on the Delta
Originally heard on: Yet to be released album

3. Crazy Eights
Originally heard on: Genesis, 2013

4. Daybreak
Originally heard on: Global Village, 1992

5. Speak to Me
Originally heard on: Masterpiece, 1999

6. In Memory of Elizabeth Reed (Allman Brothers Band cover)

7. Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers (Stevie Wonder cover; based on Jeff Beck version)
Originally heard on: Renaissance (Chieli), 1996

8. Kickin’ It Hard
Originally heard on: Night Grooves (Chieli), 2003

Antoine Silverman did not perform on #1 and #7.

Various shots of Chieli Minucci:
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Jay Rowe:
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Jerry Brooks:
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Joel Rosenblatt:
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