Concert Log: Neko Case & Ray Lamontagne at the Greek Theater, Berkeley, CA

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I finally got a chance to see Neko Case live. It was a shortened set since she was the opening act for Ray Lamontagne. The show was at the Greek Theater in Berkeley. She sounded great, and played mostly new stuff from her latest album that coincidentally was released that day. Fortunately, she’ll be coming back on her own tour in the winter. I hope to see her then.

Neko Case by daylight.

As for Ray Lamontagne. I wasn’t there to see him but figured what the hell. I know enough of his songs and I’ve seen plenty of singer-songwriters types. I’ve been blown away by the power of a single voice and an acoustic guitar. So I was surprised to see him with a full electric band.

I know he has a reputation as a very private person, but it felt like the audience and his band were interrupting his set. We left early, so I don’t know if he ever interacted with the audience or his band. While we were there he didn’t.

HiFi

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Last summer, we bought a 1962 Maganox HiFi with a tube amplifier. Shortly after we brought it home, it stopped working. We have been looking hi and lo for someone to fix it. In the meantime, we bought a modern turntable to scratch our record itch.

Upcoming Summer and Fall Concerts

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We’ve got a crowded calendar of upcoming live shows all at great venues:

Willie Nelson with Kacey Musgraves, August 19 at the Greek Theater in Berkeley.
We were watching an interview of Willie on CBS Sunday Morning and I said, I really want to see him before he dies. He’s the last of the real country singers I remember listening to growing up. Lo and behold he was coming.  So we grabbed our tickets. Also, I’ve been wanting to go to the Greek ever since I missed seeing the Ramones there in ’92.

Dwight Yoakam with Los Lobos August 24 at the Wente Winery in Livermore.
We have seen Los Lobos so many times, I’ve lost count. I’m bragging not complaining. I love those guys. The concerts at Wente are a lot like Ravinia in Chicago – outdoors and classy.

John Mulaney October 5 at Symphony Hall, San Francisco.
One of the few standup comedians my wife doesn’t hate. John Mulaney is hilarious, plus this is going to be a gorgeous setting. We’re taking our daughter who loves John too. I’ve wanted to see the inside of Davies Symphony Hall, but not necessarily a symphony – don’t tell anyone.

Father John Misty with Phosphorescent October 7 at the Greek Theater in Berkeley.
This will be our second time seeing him. The first was in 2015 at the Wiltern in LA. By far one of the best shows I’ve seen in years (next to Mayer Hawthorne at the Fox). I love how people think he’s a prick and a pompous ass. It just shows that people don’t get satire. Kind of reminds me of Urge Overkill in that regard.

Hi Fi

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Linda has been on the hunt for an old school hi fi since we bought our daughter a turntable for her birthday. The original plan was to check the Treasure Island flea market, but we didn’t feel like making the drive. So she hit Craigslist and five minutes later found the perfect match.

It’s a Magnavox with a tube amp. Judging by the style, I’d guess it’s from the 60s. It sounds pretty good. We dug out some vinyl from our vast collection and spent a good chunk of Saturday showing the kids what “real” music is.

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"real music"

“real music”

Mayer Hawthorne tonight

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We have tickets to see Mayer Hawthorne tonight at one of my favorite theaters, the Fox in Oakland. I’ve been dying to see him for years. I became a fan with his debut album, “Strange Arrangement” in 2009. I first heard him on KCRW’s Eclectic 24 stream and a free Starbucks download of “Maybe So, Maybe No”.

Update

The show was excellent. If you get a chance, check him out.

It was a great evening all around. We had dinner at Flora in downtown Oakland, right across the street from the Fox. I’m loving downtown Oakland in general. Years ago, there was never any reason to go there, but now it’s happening. It hasn’t been totally updated like San Francisco, Chicago, or New York. There’s a still a good mix of old an new businesses.

 

The Grammys

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Last night I caught the tail end of the Grammys. I must be a masochist, because I hate most award shows. Compared to most, the Grammys are the least authentic. That includes the Oscars, because I expect actors to be feigning sincerity.

Recognizing David Bowie’s contribution to music made perfect sense. I would have preferred someone other than Lady Gaga to do it. I think she’s talented, but let her Madonna’s tributes when she dies.

We really didn’t need another montage of his 10 radio hits. We’ve been hearing those around the clock since he died. It would have been more interesting to hear from the diverse range of people who worked actually knew him. I would have loved to see an uncensored Iggy Pop up there.

I liked the B.B. King tribute with Gary Clark Jr., Chris Stapleton, and Bonnie Raitt, because I like them. The Grammys tributes are such a conceit, not because they’re so mawkish and self-congratulatory. It’s because they’re obviously done more to promote the flavor of the day act.

Ben Harper

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Just bought tickets to see Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals for an August show. It’s at the Fox, the same theater I took my daughter to see Marina and the Diamonds.

I really wanted to see him again after the Bridge concert this past fall. Even better, he’s playing at one of my favorite venues in the Bay Area.

I assume it’ll be an electric show instead of acoustic since he’s appearing with the band.

David Bowie died

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Woke up this morning to the news that David Bowie died. That’s a huge downer. Linda and I are were both big fans. He was one of the few artists to stay relevant without getting too hackneyed or corny (okay, there was the horrible “Dancing in the Streets duet with Jagger). You hear people going on and on about the Stones, Dylan, and especially Paul McCartney. None of them ever really updated their sounds or tried anything new. Sure, Dylan did a Christmas album, but I digress. Unlike Bowie they’ve been irrelevant, longer than they were relevant. Neil Young is the only other artists I can think of off the bat who has done something similar for so many years.

Roctober

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It’s been quite a month musically for me. In the course 8 days, I went to 4 different concerts.
Father John Misty Marquee
The first one was Father John Misty down in LA at the Wiltern Theater. We’ve been wanting to see him for a while. His only Bay Area appearance was a festival with 100 bands I didn’t want to see, so we opted to go south instead.

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A few days later, I took my daughter to Marina and the Diamonds at the Fox Theater in Oakland. She’s a great performer and her music sounds much better live than in recordings. I went with a buddy and his daughter. It’s good thing too, because I had a flat tire waiting for me at 11:30 pm in downtown Oakland. Not the best place for that.

Luna at the Fillmore

At the last minute another friend of mine pinged me to go see Luna at the Fillmore in San Francisco. I’m not a huge fan of shoe-gazing smug rock, but they kept it together. The audience of decrepit hipsters didn’t age so well.

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Lastly, we went to the 29th annual Bridge School Concert. It’s a fundraiser for a very special school started by Neil Young and his ex-wife Pegi. This was our second time, and like last year, it was an eclectic acoustic line up. The biggest surprise for me, was how much I enjoyed Ryan Adams. He’s a prolific songwriter, but he seems like a moody prick. I’ve heard “Give me something good” so many times on XM. But his live, solo acoustic version was much better.