Summertime Concert Previews - May issue of Palm Beach Arts Paper
Summertime blues? Check. South Florida venues have it, along with summertime folk-rock, glam-rock, comedy-rock, classic rock, jazz/fusion, and modern rock and pop.
As tourist season ends, locals get a chance to turn up the heat, especially at open-air venues like Coral Sky Ampitheatre in West Palm Beach, Mizner Park Ampitheater in Boca Raton, and Bayfront Park Ampitheatre in Miami. For those more inclined toward air conditioning, there are multiple indoor concert halls and nightclubs beckoning people to get out of the kitchen.
Like Bob Seger, Ted Nugent, Motown soul artists, and Kid Rock, [B]Greta Van Fleet[B] emerged out of Michigan. But unlike any of those performers, the seven-year-old quartet is most often compared to 1970s rock titans Led Zeppelin because of the band members' similar mixture of blues, folk, improvisational, and world music influences. Consisting of early 20-something twin siblings Josh Kiszka (lead vocals) and Jake Kiszka (guitar/vocals), younger brother Sam Kiszka (bass/keyboards/vocals) and family friend Danny Wagner (drums/vocals), the group has enjoyed a meteoric rise, releasing two EPs and two albums since 2017 and rocking the charts amidst pop and hip-hop artists. Its latest full-length release, [i]From the Fires[i], won the Grammy Award for "Best Rock Album" in February, and the band will perform at the 50th anniversary Woodstock concert in New York in August -- as will a fitting fan and forefather, Led Zeppelin vocalist Robert Plant.
8 p.m. May 7, Bayfront Park Ampitheatre, 301 Biscayne Blvd., Miami (305-358-7550, $50 and up).
He may have literally tried to use his celebrity as a get-out-of-jail card after a drug bust in the past, but 77-year-old singer, guitarist and songwriter [B]David Crosby[B] remains one of the signature remaining voices from the Woodstock era. Crosby has a handful of solo recordings since 1971, the latest being last year's [i]Here If You Listen[i], but the Los Angeles native is best-known as a founding member of groups The Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash, each of which he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with. After appearing on The Byrds' first five albums, Crosby appeared onstage with Buffalo Springfield (which included singer/guitarist Stephen Stills) for the first time at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, hastening the formation of CSN. That group became even more of a force after fellow singer/guitarist Neil Young made it CSN&Y in 1969, resulting in classic releases like [i]Deja Vu[i] and [i]Four Way Street[i].
7:30 p.m. May 21, Parker Playhouse, 707 N.E. 8th St., Fort Lauderdale (833-215-5121, $74 and up).
Clown? Cover artist? Goofball? The gift of California-born singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and satirist Alfred Matthew [B]"Weird Al" Yankovic[B] is that he doesn't ever appear to try to take himself seriously enough to attempt to avoid any of those tags. As a child, choosing accordion rather than guitar lessons charted Yankovic's left-of-center musical course, and earning a bachelor's degree in architecture fueled one of his more popular recent parodies, the autobiographical "White & Nerdy," inspired by the Charmillionaire & Krayzie Bone hip-hop hit "Ridin.'" Yankovic's rise to fame started with such video mashups of 1970s and 1980s hits like The Knack's "My Sharona" ("My Bologna"), Michael Jackson's "Bad" ("Fat"), and The Police's "King of Pain" ("King of Suede"). His latest release, the 15-album set [i]Squeeze Box[i], earned Yankovic his fifth Grammy Award for "Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package" this year.
8 p.m. June 6, Au-Rene Theater at Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 S.W. 5th Ave., Fort Lauderdale (866-820-4553, $73 and up).
[i]Modern Family[i] may be one of the most popular network TV series in recent memory, but it has nothing on the modern family that is blues juggernaut the [B]Tedeschi Trucks Band[B]. Singer/guitarist Susan Tedeschi and lead guitarist Derek Trucks, married since 1999, each simultaneously led their own successful self-titled groups and raised their children before combining forces in this 12-piece ensemble a decade ago. The group earned a Grammy Award for "Best Blues Album" for its 2011 debut [i]Revelator[i], but as with all families, hardships followed. Trucks, also a member of the Allman Brothers Band from 1999-2014, has lost former band mates Gregg Allman and his uncle, Butch Trucks, since 2017. And on the day the new TTB album, [i]Signs[i], was released in February, its gifted keyboardist/flutist Kofi Burbridge died at age 57 during heart surgery. Nashville-based keyboardist/vocalist Gabe Dixon has filled his slot on the 2019 tour.
7 p.m. June 29 at Mizner Park Ampitheater, 590 Plaza Real, Boca Raton (800-877-7575, $39.50 and up).
If it seems like the [B]Dave Matthews Band[B] appears at Coral Sky Ampitheatre in West Palm Beach every summer, it's because it practically does. Which isn't a bad thing, since the group has been one of the top touring acts since forming in Charlottesville, VA in 1991. Matthews' impassioned lead vocals and complex, underrated acoustic guitar playing are always a highlight, and the founding rhythm section consists of rock-solid bassist Stefan Lessard and fiery drummer/vocalist Carter Beauford. Scene-stealing saxophonist Jeff Coffin, previously with Bela Fleck & the Flecktones, replaced founding saxophonist LeRoi Moore (1961-2008) around the same time that lead guitarist Tim Reynolds joined. Trumpeter/vocalist Rashawn Ross and keyboardist/vocalist Buddy Strong round out the lineup, certain to play material from gems like [i]Crash[i] (1996) and [i]Before These Crowded Streets[i] (1998) as well as last year's [i]Come Tomorrow[i].
7 p.m. July 26 and 8 p.m. July 27, Coral Sky Ampitheatre, 601-7 Sansburys Way, West Palm Beach (800-854-2196, $65 and up).
Seattle-spawned band [B]Heart[B] returns to touring in 2019, a few years after founding sisters Ann Wilson (vocals) and Nancy Wilson (guitar/vocals) split up in what seemed like a soap opera script. Riding high after an overdue 2013 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame -- complete with a ceremony performance with seminal former band mates Roger Fisher (guitar), Howard Leese (keyboards/guitar), Steve Fossen (bass) and Michael Derosier (drums) -- Heart derailed in 2016. While on tour in Washington, Nancy's then 16-year-old twin sons got permission from Ann's husband, Dean Wetter, to look through her new tour bus providing they close the door so her dogs couldn't escape. When they didn't, Wetter assaulted them and was arrested, avoiding jail time through a guilty plea agreement. After performing separately through last year, the Wilson sisters are now back where they belong co-fronting Heart, one of rock's all-time great live acts.
7 p.m. August 16, Coral Sky Ampitheatre (877-582-9297, $45 and up).
Veteran rockers [B]Queen[B] couldn't have asked for a better career booster than [i]Bohemian Rhapsody[i], last year's biopic of the band with an emphasis on vocalist/keyboardist Freddie Mercury (1946-1991), portrayed by "Best Actor" Oscar-winner Rami Malek. After floundering in the years leading up to and following Mercury's death from complications with AIDS, Queen practically went on hiatus. Bassist/vocalist John Deacon left the band in 1997, leaving only guitarist/vocalist Brian May and drummer/vocalist Roger Taylor, who let it lie dormant until 2004, when they recruited former Free and Bad Company vocalist Paul Rodgers through 2009. Current vocalist Adam Lambert rose to fame by finishing second that year on [i]American Idol[i], and joined forces with the royal rockers in 2011. Bassist/vocalist Neil Fairclough, keyboardist/guitarist/vocalist Spike Edney, and percussionist/vocalist Tyler Warren round out the current touring lineup.
8 p.m. August 17, BB&T Center, 1 Panther Parkway, Sunrise (866-820-4553, $300 and up).
There may be no more enigmatic of a figure in popular music over the past 30 years than Los Angeles-born singer, songwriter, keyboardist and guitarist Bek David Hansen, who now goes by the name Beck Hansen, but is best-known as simply [B]Beck[B]. The 48-year-old's stage name, for example, is only the last name of one of rock's greatest guitarists, Jeff Beck, and the singular Beck was first known as an acoustic performer within Greenwich Village's anti-folk scene in the late 1980s and early 1990s. After moving back to L.A., he decided to experiment by recording hip-hop -- much like the Beastie Boys did -- and released the 12-inch vinyl single "Loser" in 1993. To Beck's surprise, it created a bidding war among major recording labels, and he's never had to look back since, also traversing country, jazz, funk and blues through his latest release, [i]Colors[i] (2017). Opening is popular Kentucky indie-rock band Cage the Elephant.
8 p.m. August 30, Coral Sky Ampitheatre (888-456-8499, $29 and up).
"Moving On!" is the theme of the current, and possibly last, tour by British rock icons [B]The Who[B], as expressed by guitarist/vocalist Pete Townshend (set to turn 73 years old) and vocalist Roger Daltrey (75). And those two certainly know a thing or two about moving on. When hyper-kinetic drummer/vocalist Keith Moon (1946-1978) died of a drug overdose, they replaced him with Kenney Jones from 1978-1988. When signature bassist/vocalist John Entwistle (1944-2002) died of a heart attack, he was replaced on tour by Pino Palladino for the next 15 years. Still, the group was a sonic force from 1965-1975, appearing at Woodstock and releasing two stellar rock operas ([i]Tommy[i], [i]Quadrophenia[i]) and one of the great concert albums, [i]Live at Leeds[i]. Current personnel includes bassist Jon Button, keyboardist/vocalist Loren Gold, drummer Zak Starkey (Ringo Starr's son) and guitarist/vocalist Simon Townshend (Pete's brother).
7:30 p.m. September 20, BB&T Center (800-854-2196, $51 and up).
One of the greatest jazz/fusion drummers of all-time, [B]Billy Cobham[B] celebrates his 75th birthday (May 16) by including a rare South Florida nightclub appearance by his all-star Crosswinds Project -- with trumpeter Randy Brecker, guitarist Fareed Haque, bassist Tim Landers, keyboardist Scott Tibbs and bassoonist Paul Hanson. A native of Panama who moved to Brooklyn, NY with his family at age 3, Cobham's militaristic playing style was honed as a member of the United States Army band from 1965-1968. Groundbreaking recording sessions from Miles Davis and Milt Jackson to James Brown and George Benson followed, and Cobham became a star by matching guitarist John McLaughlin beat-for-note in the incendiary fusion act Mahavishnu Orchestra in the early 1970s. The drummer's 1973 solo debut [i]Spectrum[i], and 1974 follow-up [i]Crosswinds[i], are also examples of his amazing ambidexterity, speed, and precision.
Martin Barre story - May issue of Palm Beach Arts Paper
If there could be a Mount Rushmore of musicians who changed the entire trajectory of the popular rock bands they joined, by sheer force of their inclusion, guitarist Martin Barre (www.martinbarre.com) of Jethro Tull would be on it. Perhaps with fellow guitarists Steve Howe of Yes and David Gilmour of Pink Floyd, plus drummer Neil Peart of Rush.
The natural inclination would be to compare Barre, who appears with his self-titled band for "A Night of Acoustic Delights" shows at the Arts Garage in Delray Beach on May 3 and 5, to the other guitarists. Yet Gilmour, who replaced original Pink Floyd guitarist Syd Barrett in 1967 (with each appearing separately on the group's second album, [i]A Saucerful of Secrets[i]), and Howe, who replaced original Yes guitarist Peter Banks in 1970 for the band's third release ([i]The Yes Album[i]), led their acts further into commercial success by re-shaping their acidic pop and vocal harmony-driven progressive rock styles, respectively.
Peart and Barre actually made Rush and Jethro Tull change shape even more. With original drummer John Rutsey, Rush's self-titled 1974 debut was more blues-based than the fantasia the trio would become known for afterward, largely because of Peart's lyrics and virtuosity. And Barre replaced original Jethro Tull guitarist Mick Abrahams after the group's bluesy 1968 debut, [i]This Was[i], leading to uniquely classical-and-jazz-influenced rhythms, harmonies and melodies.
Singer/flutist/guitarist Ian Anderson's recognizable voice was practically the only identifiable element on [i]This Was[i] for future fans among roots music chords more akin to Cream, the Jeff Beck Group, and Led Zeppelin. But on Jethro Tull's standout 1969 follow-up, [i]Stand Up[i], Barre's playing commandeered the band's U-turn toward all-time preeminent progressive rock act status, perhaps even more as a live act than in the studio. And true to form for a 72-year-old British gent, he downplays his importance regarding such a tectonic Jethro Tull audio shift.
"It wasn't me who changed things as much as Ian's songwriting," Barre says by phone from Hudson Falls, NY between his band's first two "Celebrates 50 Years of Jethro Tull" tour stops, each at the Strand Theater. "I wasn't a blues-based guitar player, and we weren't writing or playing blues-based material anymore. But the late 1960s was a fantastic time to have started a band. We worked hard to distinguish ourselves, and it paid off."
Jethro Tull's output of releases stormed through the 1970s; decreased in the 1980s, and dramatically slowed in the 1990s, when Barre started his solo recording career. Most of the handful of releases under his own name have come since 2012, when Anderson dissolved the group (he's since toured with his self-titled solo band, excluding Barre, for commemorative 50th anniversary shows). Barre likewise celebrates Jethro Tull's golden anniversary by playing its material on tour stops throughout Europe and the United States, including May 1 at the Seminole Theatre in Homestead, May 2 at the Key West Theater, and May 4 at RosFest in Sarasota.
"Our first night of playing the Jethro Tull material last night was pretty amazing," he says. "We've put an incredible amount of work into rehearsals, with everyone giving it their all. The crowd went absolutely berserk."
Barre's latest solo CD, last year's [i]Roads Less Travelled[i], features him playing with vocalist/guitarist Dan Crisp, bassist Alan Thomson, drummer Darby Todd, and female singers Alex Hart and Becca Langsford. The same personnel appears for the Florida shows. The disc traverses the acoustic and Celtic styles that became familiar within the Jethro Tull catalog, but also leans more into blues and even occasional R&B material.
"I'm very much my own person as a composer," Barre says. "In Jethro Tull, I always contributed riffs and ideas, and those will always be there. But as much as I want to keep that flame alive with shows celebrating the band, I also want independence from it. So in Delray Beach, myself, Dan and Alan will all play acoustic guitars on a mix of my instrumentals and vocal tunes sung by Dan, Alex and Becca. Plus bouzoukis, mandolins and percussion; covers of songs by The Eagles and Steve Winwood, and of course a healthy mix of Jethro Tull material."
On his Jethro Tull-themed tour stops, commemorative CDs are available, and Barre's personnel is augmented by original Jethro Tull contributors Clive Bunker (drummer from 1967-1971) and Dee Palmer (arranger/keyboardist from 1967-1980). Crisp capably handles Anderson's vocal parts while playing rhythm guitar and doing some harmonized solos with Barre; Thomson navigates the distinct lines of Jethro Tull bassists from Glenn Cornick and Jeffrey Hammond to John Glascock and Dave Pegg, Todd trades off with Bunker as he and Palmer elicit past glories, and Hart and Langsford sing lead and backing vocals.
And then there's the signature, punctuating, stinging solos, chords and accents by Barre, whose 43-year tenure in Jethro Tull made him the band's co-pilot to Anderson. The two never even had to negotiate the use of the Jethro Tull name for touring purposes after its demise seven years ago.
"Ian said that there would be no Jethro Tull without him or myself in the band, even though he probably regrets saying that," Barre says with a laugh. "So there's no need to discuss using the name for touring, since neither of us is calling our band Jethro Tull. I have tremendous respect for Ian. He taught me a lot about discipline, and he's an incredible composer and lyricist."
One of Barre's prized possessions from the Jethro Tull years is its Grammy Award, however curious, for "Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance, Vocal or Instrumental" for its 1987 album [i]Crest of a Knave[i]. Hardly hard rock or metal, the band seemed destined for runner-up status to American act Metallica, nominated for its breakthrough [i]And Justice for All[i] release. No one from Jethro Tull even attended the Grammys.
"Our record label, Chrysalis, wouldn't even fly us out because they said we had no chance of winning," Barre says. "Thanks, guys. But I'm proud of it. I keep it in the studio where everyone can see it. Who cares if it wasn't in the right category? It means someone appreciates what you've done. A precious thing, and having only one, in some ways, makes it even more precious."
Incredibly, Barre's intricate solos, chords, lines and harmonies, within the complex structures of Jethro Tull's music or his own, are the result of self-teaching. He doesn't even read music.
"I play by ear," he says. "You pick up a few bad habits that way, but when you take lessons, you can also take on somebody else's bad habits. I might write down a note to play somewhere in a piece to remind myself, but everything is mostly played from ear training and memory."
"I always loved Martin Barre's playing with Jethro Tull," says Steve Snel, a veteran, Coconut Creek-based jazz/fusion and popular music guitarist. "I saw them live several times early on after the band formed, and he always had great guitar tone, and was able to craft very musical parts that literally made the songs."
Indeed, Barre's imprint on modern music is etched across Jethro Tull classics like "Aqualung," "Cross-Eyed Mary," "Locomotive Breath," "Thick as a Brick," and "Minstrel in the Gallery." The group released a stellar 1978 double-live CD, [i]Bursting Out[i], that included all of those tracks and beyond. And the progressive rock stalwart's great shows in South Florida included a 1979 date at the Hollywood Sportatorium, with opening act UK, in which the stage was rigged like a pirate ship for the tour to support Jethro Tull's [i]Stormwatch[i] album. Reminded of such 1970s highlights, Barre makes a bold promise.
"Our emphasis is always to entertain the audience while also entertaining ourselves," he says. "And not to blow my own trumpet too much, but I think the shows we're doing now are on a par with those tours. I really believe that. Last night was exhausting, but so rewarding, and I think things will get even better as we get rested and more attuned to the material and to each other. It's very exciting."
See the Martin Barre Band at 8 p.m. on May 3, and 7 p.m. on May 5, at the Arts Garage, 94 N.E. 2nd Ave., Delray Beach ($40-$75, 561-450-6357).
SunFest started out in West Palm Beach, FL in 1983 as a small, grassroots event with mostly local jazz artists and community orchestras, but has mushroomed since -- especially since 1996, and the naming of executive director Paul Jamieson. With the organization since 1990, he discusses the successes, challenges and complications of booking what's become a world-class music festival.