I doubt I'll write about any of it here, because I've posted the link (below) which will take you to my reviews of the shows; I haven't been posting lately because of the time demands of both the shows and the review writing. (But I'm Baa-ack... and this time... its personal.)
Anyhoo, let me make my first post back about something important...
We've been TiVo-ing (and I don't care what the pundits say, TiVo will flourish as a company because I just used their brand as a verb and you know what I meant) old episodes of Mad About You. I had forgotten just how good that show is. The writing, and the interplay between Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt (who is consistently brilliant on it) is so good that by the last 2, 3 years of the run, each episode is like a little movie. A perfect, compact comedic movie. Art, for sure. Oh, I should also mention one of my favorite comedians, David Steinberg, who directs most of them, certainly most of the later ones.
Indeed, the combination of remembering how good Mad About You was-- contrasted with what crap the Friends spin-off Joey is-- have together led me to the re-assessment that the show Friends, rather than being innocuous and occasionally funny, actually really sucked (outside of the first season, which was funny at the time and holds up.)
Give me a half hour of Jaimie and Paul over ten years of Ross and Rachel any day. (Yeah, alright already, they were on a break.)
By the way, Seinfeld and Friends exist in the same TV universe-- thanks to Mad About You. Of course you probably have some dim awareness that Lisa Kudrow, who played Phoebe on Friends, had a minor recurring role as a ditz waitress on Mad About You, and that character was subsequently written into Friends as Phoebe's twin sister (indeed Jaimie and best friend Fran make a crossover appearance on a first-season episode of Friends.) What you may not remember is that Paul Buchman had sublet his old bachelor pad to Seinfeld's Kramer (who guests on a Mad About You episode, in which Paul cuts the cord to his bachelor past by giving Kramer the lease.) Hence Seinfeld, Mad About You, and Friends all exist in the same TV universe-- in the same way that Beverly Hillbillies, Petticoat Junction, and Green Acres once did. (And the Andy Griffin Show, The Danny Thomas Show, and Gomer Pyle did).
Why in God's name do I know this crap? More importantly, is there any way to get paid for knowing this crap?
Anyway, no time to "blog" (I'm just getting used to that word as a noun, much less a verb), my free time writing will be dedicated to Allmans reviews till their gone. See the post below for a link to them.
Labels: The tunes
I've gone to at least a few shows every year; they have become quite special. The Allman Brothers cycle has them beginning the year with rehearsals for the Beacon run, at which they debut and test out modifications and additions to the setlist. Last year we were treated to Dr. John's "(I Walk On) Gilded Splinters," and the Band's "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down." These songs stayed in the set the rest of the year, as did the classic "Afro-Blue," made famous but not composed by Coltane. In 2003, after not having played the tune since '74, they opened the first show of the run with "Wasted Words."
Since 2003, when the band essentially reached out and plucked me, inviting me to write features for their magazine and the liner notes for their DVD, I have caught almost every Beacon show. Last year, all 9; this year I am ticketed for all 10, including the benefit for the Big House, a cause to which you should make a donation. The benefit show, the last of the run, features drummer Jaimoe's band; Oteil Burbridge and the Peacemakers; the Derek Trucks Band; Warren Haynes's Gov't Mule; and the Alllmans. It will be one for the ages.
After the Beacon, the band plays a few odd shows, gearing up for the summer shed season, during which they hone and refine their chemistry; as great and epic as the Beacon gigs are, the band keeps getting tighter as the summer wears on. I am all giddy looking forward to tomorrow night's opener; for me the Beacon is like Spring Training, Opening Day, and the World Series all wrapped into one. For a lot of us, in fact.
I am looking forward to the great music-- to losing myself in it for 2 weeks. And of course for the friends-- Bill and John and the gang at Hittin' the Note, the magazine; Kirk, tour manager and my official Allman Brothers "handler." Manager Bert. The crew-- Earl, Slim, and so on (Slim is responsible for the outstanding sound in the house, and on the band's Instant Live shows sold at Clear Channel venues.) And the guys in the band, who are uniformly gentlemen, although Gregg Allman, the most famous one, is generally scarce, the result of the burden of 36 years of recognizable fame. But Derek, Warren, and Oteil are as approachable and nice as could be-- I'm drawn to guys who play stringed instruments-- and Butch Trucks and Jaimoe, the original drummers, are both funny and charming company. Marc Quinones, the percussionist, is also accessible and courteous. And of course I get to see my Allman Bothers buddies, who come from all over the country-- and the world-- to catfch Beacon feaver. I won't name any because I'll leave some out.
I remember one tableau that sticks in my head. I was watching the show from back stage; i think this was last year, and you watch from the wings. You are close, but it aint really the best vantage point, as the (great) mix is targeted to the house, not the wings. Anyway, Derek, Marc, Jaimoe, and Oteil were clustered around the drums before curtain rise, sharing some conversation and laughs. Haynes wandered over, presumably to see what was so funny, and joined in the fun. In that moment, you saw how easy these guys are with each other, how much they enjoy and respect one another. Legend has it the vibe wasn't always so "peachy" in the band. But it is now, and it shows in the music. For the next 2 weeks, if I may steal Kirk West's line, I'll be the kid who ran away and joined the circus.
Labels: The tunes