Thursday, November 09, 2006

Me And The Boy

Heading towards what will be the first Christmas that Liam will have some idea of what's going on I find myself wondering just how much the little guy understands the world around him. Certainly he's got his parents number - we get conned on a daily basis. If he wasn't so darn cute I would have a real problem with him!

My 80's Past

First it was YouTube. Pat Bishow starting posting vintage Mosquito videos much to the delight of tens of people. My associates at the office, especially the *younger* ones, certainly got a kick out of them. It was fun to see them and I have to get off my ass and post some stuff that I have. Now there is a fierce bidding war on eBay for the Mosquitos EP, a sealed copy no less. Actually there are two bids, with the current bid at $36. Considering I just bought the new Who CD for $9.99 I am impressed.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Rebel, Rebel

Most of us who play guitar become someone different when we strap on our instrument. Ralph Santiago transformed into Ralph Rebel when he came to play. I knew Ralph from the rockabilly scene and to be honest I thought he came off as a bit of a snob but the man could play, was a talented producer and his love and respect for the genre was the real deal. Its upsetting that the unfortunate events that led up to him taking the cure will perhaps define the man and it is a sad example of how selfish and uncaring the media can be. That being said I will point you here where you can check out Ralph's musical legacy. Rock on brother.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Little Willies

I heard the Little Willies on the radio and thought they sounded pretty good. Then I found out that Norah Jones was in the band. Now I hate them.

Life is funny that way.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Elvis Show Must Go On!

Saturday, January 7th, 2006. By the time the curtain dropped on Elvis Show IX in 1998, we had done just about everything. We had singing dentists and insurance agents. We had a kid bring down the house. We had an actual replica of Elvis and Priscilla's wedding cake on stage. I had been brought on stage on a surfboard. There was an Elvis poet who recited poems specially written for the show. We had performed such chartbusters as "Do The Clam" and "Yoga Is As Yoga Does." The last three years were sold-out performances in a 600 seat theater. And then it all ended.

The reasons were many. First there was greed. The owner of the IMAC theater in Huntington had charged us $2500 to rent the room for the past three years. I was lucky enough to find a sponsor every year to cover this cost, so we could donate all of the proceeds to charity. I made my annual call and was told that the fee was going to be double - $5000 - due in part to "trouble he had with a Zen Tricksters show." What that had to do with my show I will never know. But that was just too much money to ask anybody to pony up and I had to find a room that would accomodate what had become a pretty huge undertaking with over 20 musicians and 40 plus singers taking part.

Then a death in the family took a lot of the wind out of our sails. That, combined with some fragile relationships between core band members led to my decision to call it off for that year. Which then turned into an eight year layoff. Thing is it was a lot like hitting your head against the wall - you don't realize how good it feels to stop! Not that it wasn't always a great event - with great people, but it was a lot of work. And when it slipped away, it was easier to let it go then to reel it back in.

Well, it's back.

After getting the call from Scotto I wasn't quite sure that I could put anything together in a week. My current band, The Blaggards, were on a hiatus so that wasn't going to work. Then Scott told me that Mike Bifulco said he was "ready to anything I needed." If that was the case, then what had to be done was obvious - I had to put together the old band - and with a few phone calls, The Purple Gang was set to ride again.

I knew that there would be no problem getting singers involved. Because this happened with such short notice - I only had a week before the gig - I couldn't have an open call like past Elvis shows. So I sent out a few emails to the guys who had been there from the beginning - Tom Ciorciari, Tom Pfeifer, Roy Wilson, Jon Geffner, Mike Drance and Tom Gould. Drance and Geffner called with regrets, but I was glad to get a call from Gary Jude Anderson and Pete Ludivicio, both long time Elvis Show performers. To round it out and continue the Elvis Show tradition, we had a couple of newbies - Bill Walsh and Keith Hille.

We decided that since this was a comeback of sorts, we would pay tribute to the '68 Comeback Special and open the show with an acoustic session. We had two rehersals, one with the band and the singers and one for the acoustic set. Then it was showtime!

The bar, a joint called Drew's in Centerport was small. Really, really small. I was told that it was small, but I had no idea. We set up best we could and hit the stage. The opening set was a blast. We went around trading songs with Memphis Mike slapping away on a Rendezvous ribs box. Then after a short break the band took the stage. It didn't feel like 8 years since I had last played with these guys - and, if I say so myself, it didn't sound like either. We ran through the 30-plus song set without stopping, bringing up each singer with great support from the crowd, which was flowing out through the door. It was fun to watch the expression on some of the regulars who came in wondering what the hell was going on! There were girls dancing on the bar, a rockin' band and great hair everywhere you looked. This was no ordinary Saturday night in Centerport!

Everybody rocked. Gary Jude, recovering from a stroke and walking with a cane, still had boundless energy. New comers Bill Walsh and Keith Hille fit right in and are welcome back anytime. All the regulars - Tom C, Tom P, Tom G, Roy Wilson, Pete - delivered as they always do. Even Scotto got in the act as a guitar was passed around during Little Sister for solos.

I have to really hand it off to the band - Mike Bifulco, who is as good as it gets on guitar; Sean O'Neil, just the go-to guy for something like this; and, of course, Memphis Mike who's love for the music makes everything real. The crowd was great, too. I don't know what it is about the Elvis Show audience, but they just get it. They support everybody who steps on that stage, giving big cheers to all. However I think that the biggest cheer of the night came when I announced that after the eight year layoff, we would be doing the show again on a yearly basis. I'm not saying that it is going to be on the level of the last few Elvis shows, but we'll see what happens.

You can see a clip from this year's show here.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

It's Official - I Am The World's Worst Blogger

Try as I may, I never seem to have the time to write posts for my blog. Not that the world is waiting for each of my little stories - but if for no other reason just to add my views and opinions on to the scrap heap that we call the world wide web. But it is a new year - happy new year, btw - and hopefully things will improve. I do want to continue with the Mosquito story and keep tabs on my new band, The Blaggards who - if I do say so myself - rock quite rightly.

For me and mine 2006 has begun on a great note. My son Liam is at the zenith of little guy glory and at 18 months, a bonafide genius (in his parent's opinion). As I mentioned earlier, my band is sounding great and the addition of Mick Hargreaves on bass has really taken things up a level. A great player, singer and a very cool guy as well.

Right after the new year I received a call from none other than Scott Savit (Hey Steve! It's Scotty Watty Do Dah Day!). I see/hear from Scotto about once a year so it's always a treat. He was looking to put on an Elvis birthday tribute at some local pub - still doing his thing - and was reaching out to me out of respect. It has been some years since I did the last Elvis Show and I had passed on his request last year, handing over to Roy Wilson and the Buzzards. I was about to do the same this year when he mentioned that Mike Bifulco had told him to tell me that "he was ready, willing and able to do anything that I needed."

For those of you who do not know Mike the thing you need to know is that he is supremely talented individual. And when Mike is up for something you are guaranteed to have a good time. We had played together for years, first in the Purple Gang and then the Bluebeats, but in the past few years had lost touch. It didn't matter - we got together to go over some of the songs and it was great.

And with that, the Elvis Show was back. A phone call to Memphis Mike, who then called Sean O'Neil and like that the Purple Gang was back for one big night. This was going to be an old-school Elvis Show - no production numbers, no big band - just the Gang, back in a bar, inviting friends up to celebrate the King. One rehearsal - 45 songs! - and it's showtime!

It wasn't possible to put out an open call, but I reached out to some of the originals. Tom Pfeifer, Tom Coriciari and Roy Wilson, who had performed at all 10 previous Elvis Shows came right on board. Joe Rock and Tom Gould who have been highlights of the more recent shows answered the call. Sadly, originals Jon Geffner and Mike Drance couldn't make it due to prior commitments. Then I get a call from the man himself - Gary Jude Anderson! Gary, who had a stroke earlier this year, was also an original performer. And to keep the tradition alive a few new faces will make the scene.

We decided we would kick off the night '68 special style - sitting around doing an acoustic thing before th band kicks in. Don't worry - I will NOT be dressed in a leather suit!

It all happens at a little joint called Drew's in Centerport on Saturday, January 7th. No cover and no guarantees. If you are around, come down and kick off the year Elvis style!