Category Archives: Music

The Beatles, my boys and a birthday

If I think back on music from my childhood, The Beatles  immediately come to mind.  They were definitely the soundtrack of many car rides in my memory.

Freshman year of high school, I remember the painful decision of which album to pick – the Red One or the Blue One.  I don’t remember which I ultimately chose.  I know I loved it.

When my oldest son was born, 5+ weeks early, I didn’t have a pediatrician, nor did I know a single lullaby or nursery song.  Or so I thought. Doing the new baby rock and walk, I found myself humming Beatles’ songs, sometimes even murmuring the lyrics.

My first digital camera had a memory stick that held about 8 images or a seconds long video.  There was a mini movie of the oldest 2 Lilly boys singing their hearts out to Hey, Jude, including all the Judy, Judys and a perfectly timed and heartfelt “Ow.”  I have no idea where that memory stick is and it doesn’t matter. I’ll never forget that moment.

My youngest child turned nine today on the very same day that marks 50 years since The Beatles invaded America.  Perfect synchronicity.  Quinn’s love for The Beatles is pure and relentless, just like him.  He hasn’t yet tired of discussing the tragedy of George’s cancer or John’s assassination.  He knows the words to countless songs and when he doesn’t, he enthusiastically makes up his own.

What remains inside of us is a wonder only second to what, in fact, comes out.
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Filed under aging, birthdays, Boys, family, favorites, Music

Music lessons

During last night’s run, a song I was unfamiliar with came on my Spotify playlist.  The voice was familiar, but it took me a minute to bring the vocalist’s name to my lips…Lana Del Ray.  As I listened, a face popped into my mind and I smiled, thinking of the now-graduated student who had brought her music to my attention.  CF was a most ardent supporter of Lana and I can thank him for exposing me to her.  He also  introduced me to one of my now favorite high school movies, Easy A, a movie he said I had to watch because I reminded him so much in voice, mannerism and appearance, of the main character played by Emma Stone.  Nice kid, right?

I started thinking about other students who have shared themselves and their enthusiasms with me over the years.  I realized that, after working with thousands of kids for close to twenty years, the ones who left the greatest impression upon me, are the ones who taught me something.  The students I will always remember are those who opened a door and invited me to peek into their worlds, generally  through music.

There was CL who I will always immediately think of when I hear Voodoo Chile, picturing him on a semi-dark stage, eyes shut, playing his guitar as the audience of students gathered before him saw him in a profoundly different and new way.  JF was the student who I looked to for help when I received an iPod and was completely clueless about what to do with it. I brought my humble little iPod Nano to him and he took it home and loaded it up with music both familiar and new to me, impressing me with the breadth of his musical collection. How could you ever forget the person who brought Ornette Coleman into your world?

RS was one of those kids that I ran into at a show or two.  I knew I had passed muster when he came to me one day and started talking music.  He turned me on to M. Ward and his related projects, She & Him and Monsters of Folk.  We almost ran into each other a while back in Palm Springs and I know the day will come when we’ll both be in the same audience again.  DC taught me about Amy Winehouse and encouraged me to get onboard the retro R&B train, a move I’ve never regretted.  SE schooled me about Mumford & Sons and the Silversun Pickups and gave me, through her own experiences, a chance to look back at my high school years through a different prism.

There are days at school when I feel weighed down by my role as library cop, days when I feel as if all I do is correct behavior and enforce rules.  A nighttime run, plugged into a playlist, gives me a much-needed opportunity to reflect on some of the more positive interactions I’ve had with students, the opportunities I’ve had to learn from them.  So many students, so many bands, so much music, so much learned.  So very privileged.

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Filed under Education, Music, musings

Rocking out the summer – part 1

1234252_10151851105492889_627358023_nIn the past few months, I’ve been to some really great shows up at SPAC. Despite the cold start to the season, Memorial Day weekend, when Griffin and I went to see both nights of the Dave Matthews Band, and the ridiculous prices demanded by Live Nation for shows and refreshments, I gotta say, it was a great summer of music.

Last week, I wrapped up my SPAC 2013 schedule with two different but equally enjoyable shows. Wednesday night was my umpteenth time seeing the Allman Brothers – it’s practically a summer institution, right? The night was made special, though, by the addition of Steve Winwood as an opening act. And the company I was keeping, of course.

Generally, the Allmans are a lawn ticket event for me, but there was a special TravelZoo offer which I took advantage of to land two balcony seats for less than $60. This was my third Steve Winwood experience and, while I prefer him in a smaller, more intimate venue like the Egg, he never disappoints. He truly is a legend and I can’t imagine ever tiring of listening to him play, particularly when it’s Blind Faith and Traffic tunes.

The Allman Brothers, playing with a full lineup including Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks, were their usual hard rocking selves. Greg continues to sing most of the songs, but Warren seems to be stepping up to the mic a bit more these days. While there was no Whipping’ Post, a couple of other nuggets were pulled out and I’d consider it a solid show. A definite highlight was when Winwood joined the gang for a cover of the Band’s The Weight – pretty awesome and unforgettable.

Ask the Allmans and I’m sure they’ll agree – Saratoga Springs is certainly the August place to be.  Check out this Seen gallery for some great crowd shots.

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Filed under Events, Music, Saratoga, SEEN, SPAC, Summer

The sky was dry but it rained the blues

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Missed my camera – big time!

I did it.  After 25 years of living in Albany, I finally made it up to SPAC to take in some of the Freihofer’s Jazz Fest this weekend.  Wow!  So, that’s what it’s like to be treated like an adult at an event at SPAC.  Bravo!

I promise this isn’t going to be an anti-Live Nation rant, but, I have to acknowledge how much more pleasant an experience this concert was than the typical rock show at SPAC.  I mean, for Pete’s sake, they were giving away cookies.  When was the last time Live Nation gave you anything other than a firm pat down?  The bottled water was literally half the price we paid a week prior at the Tom Petty show and the beers were similarly discounted.  I think premium drafts were $6.50.

We were freely allowed to bring in snacks and beverages of our own choosing and cameras were also permitted without the ridiculous stipulation a la Live Nation, that those with removable lenses are not allowed.  I left my Nikon at home, fearing rain, but took about a million mental pictures of the beautifully diverse crowd doing their thing with tarps, blankets, martini glasses and elaborate food preparations.

We drove through a deluge in Albany to arrive at a miraculously and vaguely sunny venue .  Apparently Saratoga had a mere drizzle and we guaranteed that things would remain dry by remembering to bring our umbrellas through the Charlie gate. We snagged a spot on the lawn, enjoying the sounds of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and relaxing into the peaceful Sunday afternoon vibe.

The legendary Tony Bennett, at the ripe old age of 86(!), put on an unforgettably lovely show.  Seeing him was a once in a lifetime opportunity and he impressed me with the strength of voice, his physical appearance and the tremendous class he exuded.  They don’t make them like that anymore!  It was a true thrill to be in the audience while he performed.

Buddy Guy closed the show in a downpour of soulful blues and thunderous guitar licks.  Holy crap – that man is 76 years-old and he smoked it.  There was no calling it in – he simply killed it.  The songs he chose to play highlighted the family tree of guitar players with which any modern music lover is familiar – Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and Stevie Ray Vaughan, each of whom made virtual appearances on the stage.

Among all the veteran musicians playing, there was also a beacon of the future present.  Fourteen-year-old Quinn Sullivan, of New Bedford, MA, ripped it up playing along side of the masterful Guy.  His playing reminded me of Clapton, but his stage presence was all Derek Trucks.  The future looks bright.

The biggest thrill of the night for me was when the remarkably nimble Buddy Guy came down into the audience and I anticipated where he would ultimately end up – right in front of me.  Like, I could have touched him if I was one of those people who invades the personal space of someone.  I was giddy.  Great show, great company, great night.

Those taut arms, way up high on the right?  Yep, mine!

Those taut arms, way up high on the right? Yep, mine!

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Filed under concerts, Events, Music, Saratoga, SPAC, Summer

Don’t do me like that

Sunday evening I trucked it up to Saratoga to see Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.  Believe me, the drive did not compare to the time a group of us traveled via bus and maybe (?) train from groovy Greenwood Lake to the Nassau Coliseum to see the very same band.  Yep, I’m an old school TP fan and I’ll always have a special place in my heart for these guys since they were my first arena rock and roll show – 1981, Brendan Byrne Arena.

As always, the band played with heart and humor.  Tom Petty made just the right amount of anecdotal commentary with the crowd and played a great mix of old and new(er) tunes.  As expected, he closed with American Girl, a song which remains a favorite of mine despite the whole Silence of the Lambs connection.  His lyrics aren’t often cited as poetic, but he does have a plain directness in speaking which manages to convey emotions pretty effectively.  It was a fun show and my date, who coincidentally (or fatefully?!?) had attended a show from that very same 1981 tour, was the perfect partner for the night’s adventure, an adventure which ultimately ended at the Schenectady County Airport with some gawking at Tom Petty’s private jet.
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Sounds like an awesome night, yes?  Well, let me share a couple of my complaints with you…

The ticket prices were outrageous. $50 for a lawn seat is pretty damn obscene when you’re spending your night breathing in secondhand tobacco smoke and dodging drunks who are literally falling down.  It seems there’s no benefit in pricing the tickets high, assuming that’s an effort to keep the riffraff out.  Maybe not over-serving the crowd would be a good idea?  It is rather remarkable that folks manage to get so totally inebriated when beers are priced between $9-12 each.  I suppose one might as well drink alcohol because paying $4.50 for a 20 oz bottle of Dasani water is no bargain.  If you get drunk enough, you would have a hope of forgetting where all your hard-earned money went, I guess.  I realize that my first concert was a long time ago, but the price of tickets and refreshments (don’t get me started on the merch!) certainly seems out of whack with the general state of inflation.

Come on, SPAC/Live Nation give me a break – otherwise you won’t be seeing this face in the crowd.

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Filed under aging, beer, concerts, Events, Music, Rant, SEEN, SPAC, Summer

Catching up with Moms@Work

image:timesunion.com

image:timesunion.com

Griffin and I went to a concert.

I anticipated summer and clarified my economic reality with a comment.

And discussed the economic reality of American women, in general.

An imagined dream come true.

There’s an upcoming event you should think about attending.

I had a really, really bad day.

Dads had their day.

And Sally Ride escaped the atmosphere, but didn’t quite get out of the closet.

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Filed under Boys, concerts, Events, family, Moms@Work, Music, News, NYC, Observations, relationships, Uncategorized

4, 3, 2…

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The “jam” in Mountain Jam must be code
for mud, right?

Four of us attended Mountain Jam for what was consecutive year number three and I learned two very important things… the first had something to do with knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that everything will be fine because your oldest friends always have your back.  The second was equally practical but involved mud, and boots that no longer kept the mud out.  The ultimate message was the friends are for forever and the boots can be replaced.  End of story.photo(134)

One last thing – the crowd at this event was fantastic – peaceful, friendly, fun and colorful as hell.  Getting these shots was a joy!

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Filed under concerts, Events, favorites, friends, Music, road trips, SEEN, Uncategorized, upstate New York