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Monday, May 03, 2010

SIXTY IS THE NEW FIFTY...


I’m turning sixty in the next week and I can hardly believe it. People who are sixty are not me. I can’t be sixty. I don’t look or feel sixty, at least in my mind. I’m married to a younger man that looks almost as young as he did when I met him 23 years ago. I pick my granddaughter up from school everyday and go to her school events just like I did when my kids were in school. I blend, bottle, label and sell a line of body care products. I’ve become quite adept at computer skills like web building, blogging, and social media. I have an ipod, iphone, and an imac. I listen to loud music and go to rock concerts on a regular basis. And I drive a hybrid car.

Sure, I have my personal challenges. A knee that acts up, little aches and pains, moving slower. But overall I’m healthy and I’m not on any medication. I’m still active, productive, and high functioning, in spite of my physical drawbacks. 

On the other hand, turning sixty has its advantages. After being a hormonally crazed menopausal woman for 15 years, sixty is the time to emerge from that emotionally challenged period. You’re back. You’re energized. You’re ready to come out of your cave and get back into the world. To use your knowledge and wisdom for good. It’s a right of passage. You’ve become the Wise Crone.

Over the weekend, I attended two different concerts. They were artists from the 70’s; Leon Russell was the first one, Poco and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band the second. All three of these artists attracted the same audience, fifty and sixty something’s, just like me. Just like them. Even older maybe. I observed the oldsters as they arrived and found their seats in the venues. I’ve probably seen the same faces show up at concerts in KC for forty years. So many are familiar, very few unfamiliar. We don’t know each other, but yet we do.

I noticed we all have similar characteristics; lines and wrinkles in our changing faces; balding men with ponytails of varying shades of gray; larger physiques; rounding bellies; slight limps; leathery skin from too much sun; bifocals; cigarette stained fingers; scraggly facial hair; women with tell-tale roots in their dyed hair; worn concert t-shirts. Some younger fans, but not many. All there for the music. Flocking like moths to the flame, feeling like kids going to their first concert. Eager. Excited. Stoned.

At Leon Russell’s show at Knucklehead’s Saloon, I watched as two well-dressed couples worked their way through the noisy crowd of fans who were clapping and whooping it up to Leon’s honky tonk piano. These two couples weren’t your typical old hippies; they exuded wealth and privilege, but were there for the same reasons. The Music. The Magic of Leon’s voice and poetic lyrics. The Connection. The Community. The Tribe.


During both shows, I watched as men put their arms around women or held their hands as some song was transporting them back to their youths. Memories flooding in of what those melodies meant to them, what they represented in the weaving of their lives, bringing back those precious moments. Music does that.

I studied the glowing faces of the congregation as they left. Music their religion. Wishing there were more. Still buzzing. Smiling. Looks of satisfaction. High on the music. Tipsy on the beer. All their ailments and problems and challenges gone for a few hours.

So, I say sixty is the new fifty. My generation of oldsters and empowered dames are redefining sixty. We are a new lot. We’re not like the sixty year olds we remember when we were kids. We might be a little beat up, but our minds don’t know that. When we’re listening to our favorite song by our favorite musician with our favorite baby, we don’t care about the aches and pains. We are lost in the enchantment of the music that will never die. The 'rock and roll medicine' that soothes our souls. Being sixty ain’t so bad.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

I'm Back...

Well, decided to fire up the old blog again. It's been a couple of years. Facebook has taken over the world since I wrote on here last, but I've figured out how to incorporate it all. Will try to post interesting and informative updates on current news and views. Till tomorrow...

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Police in St. Louis...

Ok, so Mark talked me into going. He insisted, saying just because I decided not to go didn't mean he didn't want to see them. So we bought $50 tickets online and took a little getaway in St. Louis for the show two weeks ago.

It took place at the Scottrade Center downtown, a place alot like Kemper here in KC. We went down to the venue early in the day and went backstage to connect with our friends on the crew. The production manager Charlie Hernandez, whom I've known for 25 years, said they would be out for at least a year and do 4 legs of the tour. (Maybe coming to KC.) On the other hand, Danny Quatrochi, Sting's longtime guitar tech and personal assistant told us that he thought it would be good if they made it together for this first leg of the tour. Ha! Different stories from different parts of the touring entourage. They both offered us tickets, but we told them we'd already purchased some. "There isn't a bad seat in the house," Charlie exclaimed.

We returned for the show around 6:30pm when the doors opened. I was impressed with the ease of parking and the lack of traffic to deal with at the venue. It was very laid back in the building, even letting people pass through with cameras.

On the ride there, we heard the opening act, Fiction Plane, on the radio being interviewed at a local station. They played one of their tunes there in the studio called, 'Two Sisters' (killer song) and spoke with the DJ's. Oh, by the way, the frontman bass player and singer, is none other than Sting's eldest son, Joe Sumner, who is very outgoing and full of personality. This made us very enthused about seeing them perform.
When the three musicians came out on stage at exactly 7:30pm, seats were still empty and fans were filing in. They were very reminiscent of The Police 30 years ago, young, edgy and good. Mark and I really enjoyed the fresh energy. Joe announed that the band would be in the concourse between shows to sign CD's and meet the fans. So we went down from our seats on high to get a load of them. So cute, Joe looks astonishingly like his dad and sounds like him, too. The line to meet them went 1/4 of the way around the circular concourse. They were a hit!
(Go to http://www.myspace.com/fictionplane to hear songs and get more info.)

Mark and I took our opportunity to get closer to the stage, finding empty seats in the $225 section to the left of the stage behind the handicapped section. They were perfect, no one was in front of us. After a 30 minute changeover, the house lights went down and Bob Marley's "Get Up, Stand Up" blasted thru the speakers. Stewart Copeland was the first on stage, positioning himself behind the massive drum set and hitting a giant gong with a mallet. Sting and Andy hit the stage, the lights went up and the extravaganza began, 'Message In a Bottle' led the way.

Good opening, much excitement, plenty of roaring from the 17,000 pumped-up fans. The show went from thrilling to good as it progressed, most of the songs taking on the slowed-down tempo and changed arrangements that we'd heard about. The best thing was watching the skill and craftsmanship of the three seasoned musicians, especially the eager and energetic Stewart Copeland running from his drum kit to an array of windchimes, bells, and various hanging percussion items behind him. All in all, it was a good show, not the show of 25 years ago, but good for the men they are now. As Mark says, "They were angry punks then, they are rich & comfortable now. How could they possibly recapture that feeling?" Anyway, I'm glad I went. The set list is as follows:

Message in a Bottle
Synchronicity II
Walking on the Moon
Voices Inside My Head / When the World is Running Down...
Don't Stand so Close to Me
Driven to Tears
The Bed's Too Big
Truth Hits Everybody
Every Little Thing She Does is Magic
Wrapped Around Your Finger
De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da
Invisible Sun
Walking in Your Footsteps
Can't Stand Losing You / Reggatta de Blanc

Encore 1
Roxanne

Encore 2
King of Pain
So Lonely
Every Breath You Take

Encore 3
Next to You

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Bob Dylan, the Older the Fiddle, the Sweeter the Tune

"Tonight we saw Bob Dylan and his band electrify Kansas City's Starlight audience with Modern Times material and some old ditties revisited anew. Dylan's cinematic snapshots open up wonderful moments in the social climate of America spanning the counter-cultural movement of the sixties to his current perspective on New Orleans. The concert ended with an utterly spine-tingling rendering of All Along the Watchtower, with the crescent moon slipping into the night sky. Bob Dylan seems to appear slightly younger since I saw him last, the grooves more infectious, the mountains more thunderous, and in the midst of it all, an increasingly coherant, comprehensible and musical voice, rendering a message that deconstructs itself immediately, "something is happening, but you don't know what it is, do you, Mr. Jones?" Or in delicate strains, an upright base, softening drums, pedal steel searing the heart, Dylan's piercing commentary finding that beautiful note then as if to obey some sort of divine symmetry, disappearing like a ghost in the machine, as if something has happened and we don't know what it is. But it is not a function of age that diminishes the energy, for it was there at the Starlight, old songs, sacred to us, made fresher still, leaving us with little ripples of spiritual joy."
by Mark

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Police Shows so far...



Well, by now you have probably been hearing about The Police shows that have been occurring since May 28th. The reviews are mixed, but a lot of them are from very disappointed fans.

From what I can extrapolate, the fans that are pleased with the shows are ones that don't mind that the songs are drastically changed and for the most part, unrecognizable. They are just happy to see the band back together, no matter what. And probably alot of them never saw them in the 80's. Here is an example:

The Police Phoenix, AZ June 18, 2007 Review by Les.

"This was a great concert. The sound level was perfect. Andy Summers played some phenonenal guitar solos (Can't Stand Losing You, for example). Every song sounded great. Hearing Synchronicity I and Spirits in the Material World would have been nice, but the show couldn't have been much better. I have a whole new appreciation for some songs after hearing them live. Wrapped Around Your Finger, Can't Stand Losing You, Driven To Tears, and When the World is Running Down were perfect. Don't Stand So Close To Me was played too slow and Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic didn't have pop, I thought it would. Overall this was a 5 star show."

I have watched many of the clips on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/) of the shows and I have to admit I am with the fans that are disappointed. The fans that are not happy with the performances seem to be the ones that saw The Police 25 years ago, like me. Those of us that witnessed the edgy, angry, articulate, powerful force that The Police represented in those early days. I am not saying that they should sound exactly like they did then, that is unrealistic. But I am saying that from what I've read, people want to hear the songs as close to what they were in those days. I know I do. Here is another example:

The Police Oakland, CA June 13, 2007 Review by anonymous.

"The songs were performed so poorly I chose to forget the set list. They opened with Message in a Bottle which was a farce. They closed with the most hideous version of Roxanne ever. The encores were not worth waiting around for.

The short review is that the current Police are a horrible cover-band of their old selves. Sting's gratuitous 'eee-ohhs' were lame, the fact that they tuned down almost every song was pathetic, and some tunes were so altered it took several minutes to realize what they were playing. Sting obviously can't sing the high choruses that are the trademark of Police tunes. Andy Summers sounded like he couldn't care less about musicianship. I heard so many shanked notes and f-ups it was embarrasing. I kept wondering when the Police were going to wake up. The crowd looked confused as well. They tried to rock, but ultimately everyone sat down after it was clear that the Police were tired (and DONE). Most of the songs lacked so much energy it was like watching the show in slow-motion. They were a 33 1/3 record played on about 25 speed. People were leaving in droves before the first encore. We soon followed suit.

I think the best summary of the show comes from my best friend. When another friend said he wanted to hear 'King of Pain' before we took off, my buddy said, 'I don't want to hear what they've done to it'. Basically, this show tarnished all of my teenage memories of a once-awesome band. They are old, can't sing the high notes, need a lot more practice, and they gotta stop playing the b.s. 'new-fangled' versions. I was listening to the Police's adult-contemporary style and was only reminded of Michael Bolton, Rick Astley, and STING."


I personally think that Sting just cannot make himself go back to the past in that way and that he is deliberately playing the songs differently. In his jazzed up, slowed down, off tempo way. It's just who he is and Andy and Stewart are going along with it. I don't want to believe they are doing this for the money, but I'm sure it has a whole lot to do with it.

I wish I could say that they do not sound any better than other bands who were wonderful in the 80's, but Pink Floyd blows that theory. Did you hear them play together for the first time in 25 years at Live 8, two years ago? They gave me chills, even watching them streamed on AOL on my computer. And I read that most people felt the same way. So it is possible to relive the past.

This does not make me want to travel any distance and pay an inflated amount of money to see The Police live. I would rather save my memories of how great they were (and my money) and watch them on TV when they do the Live Earth show on July 7th from Giants Stadium in New Jersey. Watching from the coziness of my own living room. I think that's going to be good enough for me.

If you would like to read some of the reviews by fans, go to: http://www.stingetc.com/concerts

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

New Website is up...

Well, the new website is now up and functioning. Check it out at www.rockandrollstories.info

It is still very much a work in progress, but I will adding more and more stories often. These are mostly excerpts of stories from the book I've been working on for years called, Rock and Roll Medicine, but I'll also be adding stories from my friends in the music business, as well.

So have some fun with your rock and roll memories and let me know what you think. I'll also be happy to take requests for stories.

Be excellent to each other and party on, dude.

Later, Penny

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

New Website

I am about to launch a new website called, "Rock and Roll Stories." I realized I was limited with this blog space from being able to post the stories I have to share of the days I did concert catering.

So I am creating a space big enough to have lots of pictures, stories, articles, bios, paraphenalia, and fun from back in the 80's when all the really fabulous music was occurring.

I will be launching this new website within the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned...