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Columns > Itzys Illusions - Steve Itzkowitz

Published: 2003/10/30
by Steve Itzkowitz

Business in the Front, Party in the Back

Welcome to this month’s extravaganza featuring some new bands, some old bands, some jam bands and of course some funky bands. It was familiar faces in familar places and as usual the music was at the center of it all. So take a load off, sit back and enjoy the ride . . .
What if You Came To See the Opening Band?
Soulive w/Ivan Neville The House of Blues, Sunset Strip Friday October 10, 2003_ A big game night if you will for Team PAKM as we headed to our 'home' venue the House of Blues in Los Angeles. I don't know what it is, but since I've been going to this club since 1996 it has always had some sort of special connection. It's gone through different management and security has been changed and enforced, but watching music performed their live is always a thrill. I headed over with I-Dog and met Molasses and Uncle Beas over by the Foundation Room enterance as GeeMo had done us a huge proper by leaving us not only Foundation Room access but tickets in the VIP area downstairs for the show. In our version of fantasy jamband, GeeMo would get a Texas Hat Trick assist style with his performance. So we're totally styled out and we see more of the squad inside including JPar, Papa JPar and JPar's brother, the Ark. Well we got to our seats and Soulive hit the stage with special guest star, Ivan Neville. Trust me it was more like Ivan Neville and Friends, as Soulive seemed to shy away from their material and rather concentrtated on being a back up band of sorts for Ivan. Don't get me wrong, it was really hot, it just shows how versatilie these guys can be. In fact, Ivan sat in with Soulive this past April at the Knitting Factory which was a great night too. After the set, Team Pakm headed upstairs to the Foundation Room and ran into the latest member GT and with valet, Ms. T. Then I ran into Ivan Neville on the back stairs and we chatted for a few minutes. I asked him out Art 'Poppa Funk' Neville was doing as he didn't perform with the Nevilles at the Long Beach Blues Festival in August. Ivan said he was doing better and was looking forward to playing with the Funky Meters in and around New Orleans later this fall. I believe George Porter said the same thing as well recently on his website. We were talking about different things including Ivan's tenure in Joan Osborne's as well as the time he was at the Mint at a Robt. Walters show. He said, 'oh yeah that's right down the street from me' and I said where do you live, 'he said West L.A' and I said, 'which street?', and he replied, 'Brockton between Wilshire and Texas' and I was like, 'Ivan, we're neighbors, I live on Saltair (a block west of Brockton). Hilarious. So if I start to hang with Ivan you'll hear about it in the future. The headliner for the evening was ME'Shell Ndegeocello, the female bassist. I caught a little bit of the show with SFC and Summertime as I ran into them when I came back downstairs. As I was watching her play, I couldn't help but notice the diversity amongst the crowd. There were fans there for Soulive, but the majority came to see Me'shell play, but the music was more groove toned and way less funky. Team Pakm called it a night during the set and ventured back to our respectful abodes. *Top 5 CD's That I've Acquired Recently* 1. Gil Scott Heron--Piece of A Man---This is the guy who did 'The Revolution Will Not Be Televised', remember that from those Spike Lee Nike spots years ago. It's like poetry meets funk meets soul. Plus, the album cover makes him look like Nat X, Chris Rock's character from SNL about the same time those Nike ads ran. 2. Neil Young--Harvest Moon--The liner notes say that this album came out in 1992, but I thought it was way before that. Well, you'll see why I bought this one later on in the issue, but with back up singers Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor and Nicolette Larsen amongst others you'll know why. Incidentally, Larsen who also recorded 'Lotta Love' and is posthumously on a baby cd I got recently for Team Dray out in ChiTown. 3. King Curtis--Live at the Fillmore West at the bequest of Kman and Mo I finally picked this one up and cannot put it down. Their version of Buddy Miles 'Changes' is so dirty that I had to take a shower after listening to it. Trust me. Get in the swamp for this one and bring your hip boots as it gets deep. 4. Michael Feinstein and the Israeli Philharmonic--I got this one for my mom and she's finally using her cd player in her Camry. She says it's great and Mom's are always right, so I gotta give it a thumbs up. Plus the fact it was her birthday present made it all the better. 5. The Meters with the JB Horns live From the MoonWalker--absolutely funkified fantastic show. The odd thing is that Art Neville is not with the Meters in this one either. It was one of those nights though were it was pure magic. My only problem is that the JB Horns consistently plug themselves. They shouldn't have do that, we all know who they are, shouldn't they? *Same Venue, but Funky All Night Long* _Galactic The House Of Blues, Sunset Strip Friday October 17, 2003
Well the coach called for a team meeting at the Grafton Hotel prior to the show and lo and behold the entire squad showed up for a pre-game chat. At one point in the room you had, GeeMo, Uncle Beas, I-Dog, JoJo, Jpar, Summertime plus lady Pakm’s Molasses, EmDog, Court and AG. So we were in for a fun time and that’s exactly what we got. We headed over to the HOB and surprisingly there was plenty of room on the floor. Now I often get ranked on for seeing bands more than a few times if you know what I mean and Galactic is one of those bands. But I hadn’t seen them since their New Years show at the Warfield back in December of 2001, so it had been a while for this kid. When they were in L.A last year around NYE’s I was in SF and when they played the Warfield again in 2002, I was at the Oakland Coliseum with the then Other Ones. And when they were on tour with B.B King, Jeff Beck et al, I was in New Hampshire leading services all summer. So I was anticipating some good ol’ fashioned funk, but I was totally aware that they may go in the other direction and play a lot of stuff off of their new disc, ‘Ruckus.’ Well we got a little bit of both and thensome.
They came up thumping with ‘Moil’ off the new disc, it’s the one with the Led Zeppelin beat and Stanton Moore really delivers the goods with his rhythmic drumming. Houseman had some company up there as well with special guest, the Housewoman, Sister Teedy, joining in on the fun. She added a new dimension to the show with her straight out blues style of singing. Big props to Houseman to for his version of ‘Higher Ground.’ Things got interesting when Cheme from Robt. Walters 20th Congress joined in for ‘Doomed’ and later on after the funkiest ‘Hamps’ Hump’ this side of the Southern California Fires, Galactic was joined by Robert Randolph on the peddle steel for the encore of ‘Little Miss Lover’. Then it donned on me, the Family Band, Robert’s band was hanging out in the Grafton as well prior to the show. So after the show, somehow we were back upstairs in the Foundation Room and who do we see, but the String Cheese Incident’s Michael Kang. SCI had just performed on Thursday afternoon at CBS Beverly on the Craig Kilborn show. Oddly enough, one of Kang’s exes had just done some physical therapy work on my back earlier in the week. Small world. During the set break, I ran into Willie Waldman up in Galactic’s dressing room. Willie was hoping to sit in with Galactic but didnt’ get the chance with Cheme showing up as well. He’s a funny cat. Check out his website when you get a chance. After the show it was back to the Grafton for a celebratory victory party and then finally somehow back to the Westside.
It’s a School Night, Remember ?
Robert Walters 20th Congress w/Will Bernard Trio @ The Temple Bar, Santa Monica, Wed. October 22, 2003
Another band who I hadn’t seen in a while showed up to play at a familiar haunt as the RW2C took the stage complete with a new look and guitarist, Will Bernard. The last time I saw Robt. play was in December with the Grey Boy All-Stars up at he Fillmore, but I hadn’t seen in RW2C in quite a while. I met Uncle Beas, Molasses and her friend Kristen inside as I watched the Will Bernard Trio play some funky riffs on the Temple Bar stage. The crowd was about 30-40 strong at this time and it was my first taste of Will Bernard. I’d heard of him, but now after seeing him I’d say his sound reminded was a cross between Steve Kimock and G. Love for some reason. Well at least that’s what I was getting. Honestly, I had a third guitarist, but I’m drawing a blank. Anyway, the stripped down version of Team Pakm arrived and played a little pool during the set break. The games ended in a draw 1-1 as Molasses and I beat Team Beas with a litte Sicilian style pool (very defensive and boring)playing. Also in the crowd were Tony Vegas and with Emil and Maude, who just signed some record deal. I’ll plug her sooner or later, her album that is. RW2C took the stage finally close to 11:30pm. And hit they did, launching into some serious thumping funk. It was interesting to watch the interplay between Bernard and Cheme and Robt. They really seemed to be enjoying playing off each other. I was wondering how they could keep this up all night. The Temple Bar started to fill up bit hit a cresendo around 12:15am and minute by minute people would be exiting. So there was more room to dance, but the clock was running the show on this night and I headed out with Tony Vegas and Team Pakm and called it a night.
Random Top 5 S.N.L Sketches
1. JingleHeimer Junction—with Tim Meadows as the host of kids show and has 4 players who come up and do songs and dances for the kids, the only problem is that each of their letters spell out an expletive that starts with the letter f and ends with the letter k and isn’t firetruck. Will Ferrell of course is hilarious in this one.
2. Dr. Hoffritz—played by Phil Hartman, is a doctor who only delivers female babies. My favorite line, ‘Well, every now and then a little girl is born with a penis and testicles . . .and of course they have to be removed and then reshaped.’ Hilarious sketch, with Bill Murray as the dad who’s had 5 of his 7 daughters under go this procedure. I miss Phil.
3. Superman’s Memorial Service—-Sinbad crashes the memrial service as Black Lightning, but Jimmie Olsen (Rob Schneider) doens’t let him enter the room. Very fun sketch with Sandler as the Flash, ‘All I can do is run fast, Superman could run as fast as me, but he never mentioned it once.’
4. ‘Hidden Camera Commercials’—what are they hiding? The spokesman says to an unaware Chris Farley, ‘Do you realize with switched your regular coffee with Colombian coffee crystals?’ Farley goes,‘what?’ and the spokesman repeats himself, Farley pauses and then freaks out complete with tossing pies at random folks until he is knocked out by a frying pan wielding chef. Classic.
5. Elijah the Prophet—played by Jerry Seinfeld, as he shows up for a seder and is a wise guy, Elijah. ‘Lady what is this, Manischevitz? I would feed this puddle water to the Philistines.’ An all time favorite.
New Experience, New Music, New Hairstyles
The 17th Annual Neil Young Bridge School Benefit Concerts Shoreline Amphitheater, Mountain View CA, Saturday October 25, 2003
I got the call from my ol’ college buddy Chi about joining him as a volunteer for the Bridge School by selling raffle tickets and posters throughout the show(s) to raise money for the school for physically and disabled children. Neil Young has been putting on these shows and all proceeds go directly to the school. It turns out that Chi and our other buddy, Kosh have been doing these shows since 1998. Well all I have to say is that I wish I did more of these shows. My journey started Friday night up the 5 and I made it to Chi’s place by 1-1:30am. I knew we had an early call time, so I wanted to get some rest. Plus the fact that the Bay area was in the midsto of an Indian summer. Well we got up and had to pick up Kristen and Tara before meeting Kosh and his crew in down town SF. Chi and I crooned along with a 5/19/77 killer version of ‘El Paso’ much to the shegrin of the citizens of the city by the bay. Anyway, we arrived via caravan at Shoreline around 11am and set up our tables throughout the venue and backstage to sell the tickets and posters. And it was getting hot, real hot. Well finally the gates opened and the fans starting coming in to the venue. The lawn people arrived first and immediatley stared running to the sacred ground before security warned them to slow down. Then we were given our marching orders to sell, sell, sell! We worked out a music schedule for our Team Chi table. In fact, I was able to catch Neil Young play acoustic ‘Sugar Mountain’ on guitar, he played a tune of ‘Reactor’ and then was joined by his wife, Pegi, harmonica player Mark Ruffalo and 3 Native Americans who danced while he Pegi sang ‘Comes A Time.’ Very cool. After Neil, I went back to the tables to sell and managed to catch the tail end of the Counting Crows set, which sounded great. Later on as I was covering for someone back stage, Chi grabbed me and said, ‘come with me.’ And the next thing you know we’re watching Pearl Jam perform acoustic. To give you an idea of how the stage looks, the 30 or so kids who are in the school are situated on risers behind the musicians. Pearl Jam was great their high light had to be their rendition of Johnny Cash’s ’25 Minutes.’ I have to give Eddie Vedder a lot of credit on that one, it was remarkable. He then dedicated and performed ‘Where Has my Baby Gone?’ to one of the students to the delight of the audience. It was then back to work for Team Chi. Kosh would come by the tables to check up and collect proceeds from the days event. He had us shut down our table during Willie Nelson’s set and we all met back up at the main tent. The main tent had posters from each year plus these fantastic photos of previous years including 12-4-88 from the Oakland Coliseum, a shot of Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Neil Young and a very young looking Rob Wasserman. Pretty cool stuff. We all went in for the Crosby Stills Nash and Young performance. During their opener the only 2 people standing were standing in front of me. So classic. It was like the SNL sketch set at a Van Morrison concert when Melanie Hutsell (what ever happened to her) is dancing in front of Julia Sweeney and guest host Chevy Chase. Well, I was about to say something when they finally sat down. The CSNY set was great. Hearing Neil sing ‘Harvest Moon’ with CSN makes you want to go out and get the cd, wait, that’s what I did (see above top 5 list). Watching Stills and Young jam together was surreal. They were so in tune. After a great ‘For What It’s Worth’ , the other musicians joined CSNY on stage for the final number, ‘Teach Your Children.’ Then all of a sudden, Willie Nelson emerged from his bus and it appeared that he hadn’t a clue to where he was. He was smiling and sort of clapping, but at least to me I think he was oblivious to where he was. The lights came up and we finished closing down our tables and headed back to SF, because we would need our rest for . . .
Different Day, Different Music, More Bad Hair
The Neil Young 17th Annual Bridge School Benefit, Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View, CASunday October 26, 2003
I’ve got to admit this was the first Neil Young experience for me and I was totally impressed. He brings out a very diverse crowd for these events. People from all over the USA, not to mention Europe came in for these shows. But I don’t get the mullet. It is just a bad idea. I just don’t get, do people look in the mirror and say, ‘hey I look good, I’ll let it grow a little more in the back.’ Not that I have good hair, but I think I have an idea of what looks good and what doesn’t. Anyway, Day 2 was blur. It really was. We got to Shoreline at about 11am and the show had a 2pm starting time. We re-set our tents and worked out our show schedule. Again, I caught Neil’s opening set which was reminiscent of the day before, but still to see Neil play solo is a treat. For the second straight day, I had to hear Dashboard Confessional, Incubus and the Indigo Girls from the tables. Hmm, Mshell Neodeocello, the Indigo Girls, what’s next Itzy, on tour with the Lilith Fair?
Anyway, around 3:45 Wilco hit the stage and that was the one bad that I wanted to see. The last time I saw them was with Chi at the Laguna Seca Daze back during Memorial Day Weekend in 1996. That band has come a long way. Plus they played acoustic, which I’m now a sucker for big time. Their set was clean and they jammed flawlessly. They had that album with Billy Bragg a few years back, but I still hadn’t given them the time of day. That has all changed now. Stephen Stills was on stage watching Wilco and looked uninterested as if he had something better to do, but that just fits the description of Still’s crusty self, but whatever. After their set it was back to the tables for a while. I missed the Counting Crows set in which they performed ‘Thunder Road’ and for the second straight day played to the home crowd by performing, ‘Friend of the Devil’. During the Pearl Jam set, it was me who got stuck alone at the tables. They opened up with the Beatles, ‘You’ve Got Hide Your Love Away’ and for the second straight day played Dylan’s ‘Masters of War.’ We switched up and I got to check out Willie Nelson’s set, which was apparently better from the previous show. I ducked out during Willie’s version of the Hank Williams classic ‘Road to New Orleans’ to see if there was any last minute packing to do. We were in the clear and once again got to check out CSNY’s set this time dead center in row P and with no one dancing in front of me. If CSNY sounded great on Saturday, then the sound on Sunday had to be classic CSNY. The ‘Our House’ is still in my head and it’s forced me to learn the lyrics (it’s harder than it sounds). The ‘Deja Vu’ was less angry (you had to hear Saturday’s version). The set closer of ‘Long May You Run’ was a surprise and was well worth it. The other bands came out again for ‘Teach Your Children’ the Pearl Jam guys were huddled around Neil’s cave like piano and once again Willie Nelson was out of his element as he watched the others play and sing. I think he still thinks he was on the bus.
Pick Up The Pieces
The Closing Of Winterland DVD is available for pre order at 1-800-CAL-Dead
Saturday October 25th also marked the 12th anniversary of Bill Graham’s death in 1991. There were pictures of Bill up in the main tent as well.
I’ve talked to a couple of folks who saw Simon and Garfunkel recently and they both agreed it was tear jerking and not to miss. Hmm.
RIP to ‘Price is Right’ announcer Rod Roddy, ‘What’s Happening’s’ Fred ‘Rerun’ Berry and to one half of the world’s greatest tag team, the Road Warriors as Road Warrior Hawk, Michael Hegstrand died last week of a heart attack at the age of 45.
My choice for the Red Sox next manager would to let Jason Varitek be a player/manager. That guy comes to the ballpark prepared every day.
I can’t believe the Boston Bruins demoted P.J Stock, oh wait yes I can. In one of Robert Rays’ last fights he nailed Stock with a right and PJ has never been the same.
My Morning Jacket, will they become the next big thing or the next Spin Doctors?
By the way, Hanson can jam. Listen to their 2nd album. It’s good stuff. Plus now MMMBop is cool again.
I saw the fires on Monday driving back from SF. Scary stuff, I’ve never seen the sky turn salmon then grey salmon. The winds blow the odor of soot as far as Santa Monica.
Who’s My Plus One?
PS I’m hooked on McDonald’s Monopoly game. Any one want to trade?

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