Geoff’s Night Out: Balkansky at Arts at the Armory

Balkansky

Arts at the Armory, Somerville, MA

November 21, 2015

Balkansky and guests

Balkansky and guests; photo by Geoff Wilbur

The Bulgarian American Cultural Center Madara, as part of its 15th anniversary celebration, featured this concert including headliner Balkansky, featuring Theodosii Spassov, Ivan Shopov (DJ Cooh), and Ivo “Kuker” Christov.  I had never been to Arts at the Armory in Somerville before, and while the building is an interesting one on the outside — it is, obviously, a repurposed armory — the performance room itself is a large, admirably unique space. But, of course, this night was about the music, which opened with performers from around the Balkans…

Elitsa Stoyneva and Christiane Karam

Elitsa Stoyneva and Christiane Karam; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Opening Act: Elitsa Stoyneva and Christiane Karam

The evening opened with a traditional folk song performed by Elitsa Stoyneva and Christiane Karam. This talented pair of vocalists were a terrific choice to kick off the night’s performances.

Jasna Duran Band

Jasna Duran Band; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Second Act: Jasna Duran Band

The second act of the evening was a two-song performance by the Jasna Duran Band. In addition to Jasna Duran (vocals), the band consists of Andrea Charls (vocals), Gretchen Schadebrodt (guitar and vocals), Negah Santos (percussion and vocals), and Tania Mesa (violin and vocals). The group opened with a traditional vocal performance; then the band broke out its instruments to perform one of Duran’s very well-written and performed original songs. It was a nice introduction to Jasna and her group’s musical abilities.

Balkansky

Balkansky; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Headliner: Balkansky

The headlining act, Balkansky, is a multi-media performance group consisting of legendary Bulgarian instrumentalist-singer Theodosii Spassov, DJ Ivan Shopov (DJ Cooh), and Ivo “Kuker” Christov providing visuals. Though he performed with three instruments during the evening, Spassov’s specialty — that for which he is widely known around Bulgaria — is the kaval, a traditional instrument in the flute family; for most of the evening, he performed on the kaval.

Theodosii Spassov

Theodosii Spassov; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Musically, the result of the blend of kaval, vocals, and DJing is a unique mix that sounded to me like an extremely intriguing mix of experimental ambient jazz coupled with techno influences (through Shopov’s DJing). As my wife and the other Bulgarians around me pointed out, though, many of the melodies were deeply rooted in traditional Bulgarian folk songs, and the crowd easily recognized it. During one song, in fact, perhaps a third of the audience joined in a traditional dance around the room. Regardless of your familiarity with the origins of the sounds (or instruments) involved, this was an interesting, enjoyable performance fusing traditional and modern musical methods into a unique evening, enhanced by carefully-selected visuals.

Balkansky with Elena Koleva

Balkansky with Elena Koleva; photo by Geoff Wilbur

During the show, Balkansky was also joined on stage twice by local musicians.  For two songs, highly-regarded, talented Boston-based jazz singer Elena Koleva (of the Fifth Season Quartet) lent her voice to the performance. Later, guitarist Asen Vaptsarov (from Berklee) joined Balkansky on stage for a couple songs. The blend of local talent, young and experienced, with the touring tour de force Balkansky rounded out the evening of fun, artistic music, blending seemingly-disparate musical styles seamlessly.

Balkansky with Asen Vaptsarov

Balkansky with guitarist Asen Vaptsarov; photo by Geoff Wilbur

And if you’re still unsure what sort of music I’m describing, which is likely the case since it’s almost impossible to explain, check out Balkansky’s YouTube video for “Rada.”

Closing/Dance Party

After Balkansky played its final note, the night concluded with a Bulgarian dance party, led by Ludo Mlado‘s Peter Petrov, with traditional dance instruction to help those who needed it, though I needed to leave just getting started, so I missed the end of what was certain to be a party continuing much, much later into the night.

Looking Ahead

Balkansky’s North American tour continues for about two more weeks: Dec. 1 at the Padonia Village Clubhouse in Baltimore; Dec. 3 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Atlanta-Northlake in Atlanta; Dec. 4 at Molly Malone’s in Los Angeles; Dec. 5 at the Great Town Hall in Seattle; Dec. 6 at the Croatian Center in San Francisco; Dec. 10 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego; and Dec. 12 at the John Dutton Theatre in Calgary. (Dates and locations are listed on the group’s website.)

Geoff’s Night Out: Sarah Borges at The Backyard

Sarah Borges

The Backyard, Brighton, MA

November 20, 2015

Sarah Borges

photo by Geoff Wilbur

The Backyard is an interesting venue, hosting house concerts, typically in — you guessed it — the backyard. In late November, however, the concert was held inside, in a very unique downstairs space. As is often the case with house concerts, The Backyard’s concert series consists of a potluck before the show, a concert-style performance, and a little mingling afterwards. I had not seen Sarah Borges perform before, but she came highly recommended, so I made an effort to get out to see her perform this year; this concert, indoors at The Backyard, was my best opportunity.

The Concert

Sarah Borges

photo by Geoff Wilbur

Shortly after I first heard about Sarah, I briefly checked out her music online, but that was months ago, so I entered this concert quite unaware of the style of music I was about to hear. And, indeed, the music is easy to identify but hard to describe. She’s bluesy, rockin’, rootsy, rockabilly, with a hint of old-school country but an alt-rock/punk-rock edge. Got that? (Sarah’s SoundCloud page lists her style as “Rock/Americana/folk/indie,” so yeah, that sounds about right.) It really works, and it provides a fun concert atmosphere. Musically, she could share the stage with anyone from Karen Nash (Americana/country) to The Empty Hearts (old-school Orbisonesque rock) to The Baghdaddios (NYC raucous punk-rock) and still win over their audiences. Others who came to mind during various portions of Sarah’s two sets were Patsy Cline, Elvis Presley, Joan Jett, and The Wonders (yes, the band in That Thing You Do!). One tune even evoked for me the Beatles’ “I Saw Her Standing There.” As I said, an intriguing mix that really works.

Sarah Borges

photo by Geoff Wilbur

A few songs stood out for me (actually many, but this is limited to those whose song titles I could easily discern, as I was not familiar with Sarah’s music prior to this gig). The first was a tune with great energy, “Can’t Go On This Way,” which features a little ’50s, old-school rock rhythm and stylistically fitting vocals. “It Comes to Me Naturally” is a rollicking number that could be a cousin to Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode.” Finally, “The Waiting and the Worry” is a tuneful, catchy crowd favorite that features Sarah’s insistent vocals at their best, well-placed guitarwork, and a hook that might keep it in your mind for days.

In summary, this was a fun concert from a charismatic singer — heck, a charismatic band. A great evening out. And proof why I’d heard so much buzz about Sarah before finally getting out to one of her gigs.

Looking Ahead

Sarah Borges

photo by Geoff Wilbur

Sarah’s next performance is tonight, November 28, at the Narrows Center for the Performing Arts in Fall River, Massachusetts. Her next flurry of performances is four shows in four nights with Amy Black (Dec. 16 at The Grey Eagle in Asheville, NC; Dec. 17 at The Evening Muse in Charlotte, NC; Dec. 18 at Motorco in Durham, NC; and Dec. 19 at IOTA in Arlington, VA), followed by a return to Massachusetts (December 31st at the Lizard Lounge in Cambridge; Jan. 9 at Atwood’s Tavern, also in Cambridge). Of course, all of Sarah’s upcoming dates are listed on her website.

Album Review: Casey Weston – Young Heart

Casey Weston – Young Heart

Casey Weston

photo courtesy of Casey Weston

The Backstory

I discovered Casey Weston through ReverbNation back in 2013. She was one of the website’s featured artists. Her entire 2013 release, Find the Moon (on CDBaby, where you can purchase a download or physical CD; also on bandcamp, where you can listen to full songs) was available to listen to on her ReverbNation site. I downloaded the songs that were available as free downloads and added them to my listen-while-I-work playlist. They soon rose to the top of my list. I was amazed by Casey’s vocals, her lyrics, the ease with which her songs were listenable and memorable. Indeed, while the full 13 songs on Find the Moon are outstanding, ranging from “Crazy Fools” and “The Good Times” to “Back to the Start” and “Ain’t Life Beautiful That Way,” it’s one song, “Happy,” that became a must-listen for me for several months. Catchy, country, sarcastic and independent, it’s a song that appeals to country fans, pop fans, and anyone who likes clever lyrics. As I like to say (and have tweeted), with apologies to Pharrell Williams, Pharrell’s “Happy” is only the second-best song of that title released in 2013, behind Casey Weston’s. Surprisingly, after discovering Casey’s music, I later discovered she had been a final-eight contestant (as part of Adam Levine’s team) on Season One of The Voice. I watched that season of The Voice but didn’t remember Casey; I guarantee if she had been singing her own songs, though, I couldn’t have missed her.

So it was after more than a year of continued appreciation for Casey’s Find the Moon album that I decided to pre-order her Young Heart CD in early 2015. (In CD format so I could more easily play it in my car.) In fact, Casey Weston’s Young Heart is the second of only three CDs I have ever pre-ordered (and I blogged about my first pre-order, blues singer Danielle Miraglia’s Glory Junkies, in my “Road Back” series). I was confident I wouldn’t be disappointed by Casey’s CD, and (spoiler alert!) I wasn’t.

I discovered a lot of great music in my last 2-3 years as a “civilian,” before relaunching my writing career. With that as the backstory, I’m glad to finally be able to share with you the best new country artist I discovered during my hiatus from music journalism, Casey Weston.

CD Review of Casey Weston: Young Heart

Casey Weston - Young HeartFrom the first time you hear Casey Weston’s voice you know it. She’s country. She’s 100% country. She could sing Mötley Crüe’s “Shout at the Devil,” and it would be country. She could sing Lorde’s “Royals,” and it would be country. She could sing the entire soundtrack of The Phantom of the Opera, and it would be The Phantom of the Opry. Casey’s voice has the lilt and the twang. And the emotion, so much more than you’d expect from such a young country singer, still solidly in her early twenties. And power, so much power when it’s called on, yet also the softness that suggests deep lyrical understanding. And a solid lower register, as well, that drives the verses of some of her songs. Casey’s the complete package, and it would take perhaps just the smallest break to break her huge on country radio (with the occasional crossover pop hit). But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Casey’s current album, Young Heart, showcases the various different styles of her music. First, there are the young, energetic songs. The ones that would take over pop-country radio in a heartbeat. Songs like album-opener “Play It All Again,” which is about the sort of energetic pop-country you’ll find on the country charts, and “Little Bit of Everything,” a celebration of individuality and the seemingly-contradictory parts that make up an interesting person’s whole. (“Play It All Again,” by the way, has introduced the phrase “a good kind of crazy” into my family’s lexicon. Then again, that’s what lyrics with well-turned phrases can do.)

Casey Weston

photo courtesy of Casey Weston

Then there are her more timeless mid-tempo and uptempo numbers. Indeed, Casey’s voice often expresses the depth and experience of a much more mature country artist, and she draws upon that particularly well on a couple of this disc’s tunes. Mid-tempo “Waking Up” tells a good story about coming to one’s senses. “No Strings Attached,” meanwhile, is a cheatin’ crooner that comes across as if from someone with a whole lotta life experience. And such well-crafted lyrics; you’ll find yourself singing along with the chorus once you’ve committed them to memory. (In fact, I’ll link to the Bandcamp page for “No Strings Attached” so you can read the lyrics while you listen.)

There’s also a song on Young Heart that throws in a little of Casey’s trademark attitude. It’s not exactly sass; it’s more like spirit combined with clever lyrics. This is the stuff I really love. There were a couple songs like this on Find the Moon; here, there’s one, the balladic “Never Come Back.” (“Do us both a favor/Don’t come back/Please never come back …”) It’s not as if the rest of the album is devoid of this spirit; rather, this song is fully packed with it. Great for one or two tracks per album; a bit of a trademark her fans certainly look forward to.

One of the more unique songs in Casey’s repertoire, a tune that’s a little more rocking and has a feel and flavor I couldn’t quite place, is “Graveyard.” It has a speaker-rattling rhythm, a little darkness, is very lyrically interesting, of course, and showcases Casey’s vocal agility, lending additional variety to an already-quite-varied album. This song is so engaging that there’s even one spot during which, when my wife and I are listening in the car, all conversation stops so we can sing along with Casey, “You make me go insaaaaane.”

Casey Weston

photo courtesy of Casey Weston

Young Heart closes with a sentimental, drippy romantic ballad. And no ones squeezes the emotion from a balladic lyric any better than Casey does. “Lock & Key” is a lyrical and emotional gem. This song, if it became widely known, could be a first-dance wedding favorite. Great lyrics. (“We fit perfectly/Like a lock and key/I was made for you/You were made for me…”) Classic delivery.

There you have it. An amazing album from a talented young country singer. Casey Weston’s voice is instantly recognizable, and her music is the sort of varied, well-constructed country blend that could be the foundation of a long, successful career. With luck, success will find her soon enough. In the mean time, those of us “in the know” can enjoy some amazing country music the rest of our friends don’t yet know about.

What’s Next?

For Casey, hopefully a fast-growing career. I don’t generally plan to write such long reviews, but I am absolutely, exceptionally impressed by Casey Weston’s music, and I hope a few more of you can discover it through this article. I also hope she tours the Northeast sometime in the near future, though that’s mostly just so my wife and I might get a chance to see her perform live.

For the blog, I’m already working on a few more reviews in and around my busy work schedule. I’ve also been having discussions with a few writers — mostly people who wrote for my old publication, but also others I know from my old magazine publishing days — who have expressed an interest in writing for this blog. So I look forward to continuing to treat you to great music reviews, news, and interviews and introducing you to some great additional voices who will do the same.

As for you, if you enjoy reading about great music regardless of genre, please also check out some of the other articles I’ve written in the few weeks since launching Geoff Wilbur’s Music Blog, and please consider signing up to receive this blog in your inbox. We plan to post no more than once per day — initially, as we get started, likely a lot less — so you won’t have to worry about a clogged inbox. On your PC, there’s an option to subscribe at the bottom of the column along the righthand side of this page. On your smartphone, the e-mail subscription option should be at the end of this page.

First Two Weeks Recap

Geoff Wilbur’s Music Blog – The First Two Weeks

Introduction

I have a few album reviews in-process at the moment, as I fit writing time in among the work I do for my “real” career. As is the case with all of the writers who will be joining me (or, in many cases, rejoining me from my days publishing Geoff Wilbur’s Renegade Newsletter), we can’t write as much as we’d like because we have other responsibilities, as well, and do this because we enjoy it. In any case, I thought I’d recap the eventful first two weeks of the site; hopefully I’ll have a new review or two for you by next weekend.

Since the blog is still new and many of you have probably discovered it partway in, I figure a post with links to each of the initial batch of articles may help you find the posts/bands of interest more easily. I know there was a flurry of them surrounding the website launch, though that has now, obviously, calmed a bit.

The Launch

Obviously, we kicked off with an introductory post.

Though I squeezed in my initial 9-part series in the first week, I launched with the promise that, once established (and once we have some subscribers, which we now do), I’d not publish more than one post per day (and generally, at least initially, much less than that). This is so you can safely subscribe without worrying about an overflowing inbox. (If we ever do gather so many contributors that it’s tough to limit reviews to one a day, I’ll give you plenty of warning, and I’ll still try to space the posts out as much as possible.) And if you’d like to be exposed to great music across all genres, I’d suggest you do. There should be a “subscribe by e-mail” option in the bottom right of your screen when you scroll down, along the right side bar. Or, if you’re on a phone, there’s an option at the bottom of the post. As a subscriber, you won’t have to worry about missing a post announcement on Twitter (or on Facebook which, as we all have been told, doesn’t share posts with everyone who “likes” a page).

My Road Back to Music Journalism (9-part series)

This welcome message was followed by a nine-part series of articles chronicling nine events over the last four years that eventually led me back to writing (and publishing) again after more than a dozen years away, this time in blog format. I’ll add a brief note below each of these links, but know that everyone I wrote about in my nine-part “Road Back” series is a highly-recommended artist. If you want to discover great music, start here.

#1: Milenita – Discovering a New Artist By Picking a CD Out of a Store Rack

More than just the soft jazz vocalist I suspected when picking up this CD, Milenita has pop influence on her tri-lingual (English/Bulgarian/Spanish) CD, Gato.

#2: Van Ghost Discovering a New Band at a Festival

Van Ghost is a fantastic, vocal-driven arena rock band, though with a bit of versatility, as well. As a band, these guys hit my personal rock ‘n roll sweet spot.

#3: Dr Scardo – Discovering a New Album Through Twitter

Dr Scardo’s Dark Dog Days CD is dark, issue-driven pop music. An interesting combination of styles integrated into each other seamlessly. Absolutely worth checking out, as there’s very little else out there comparable.

#4: Sonya Titus – My First Music Review Tweet

Since I began rediscovering new music again a couple years ago, Sonya’s song “Now” was one of the first songs I felt particularly strongly about. If it had been picked up by radio stations, it could have been the song of the summer in 2013. I’ve heard many more of Sonya’s songs since then. It was no fluke; she really is that good.

#5: Marina V – My First CD Purchase Directly from Artist; First House Concert

Marina V is a singer-songwriter with catchy songs, an identifiable voice, and an engaging public persona. I reviewed both her latest, phenomenal CD and the fun house concert in installment #5 of my “Road Back” series.

#6: Next Stop Atlanta – My First International CD Purchase

Rocking pop-punk band Next Stop Atlanta, sadly, doesn’t seem to be performing together anymore, but their music lives on, and some of their songs are my go-to tunes when I need a little raucous energy pick-me-up.

#7: Danielle Miraglia – My First CD Pre-Order

Rocking, catchy blues singer with an original style and an identifiable voice, Danielle Miraglia is local, so I’ve been able to catch her live three times in the past year, but I pre-ordered her CD before the first of those shows, based solely on her impressive previous recordings.

#8: Bridget Davis and the Vikings Kings – Discovering a New Band at a Bar

Though technically similar to my Van Ghost discovery at a music festival, this time I actually spoke with the artist at the event. Unlike the artists at the other live non-festival events I had attended, I had not communicated with (or even known about) Bridget Davis and the Viking Kings before the show. Perhaps the most unique thing about event #8 was that it was the event that finally convinced me to return to writing.

#9: Ilona – Invitation to a Music Industry Showcase

One of the other singers I’ve tweeted extensively about, London-based pop-rock singer Ilona has some powerful vocal chops that rank with the best. And Ilona showcased her amazing voice at her industry showcase in New York. I’m especially glad I got to the New York show since Ilona wasn’t performing when I was in London recently.

Five Nights in London (5-part series)

London

Proof that I didn’t spend all my time in London in dimly lit barrooms

I just completed the “My Road Back” series in time for my 6-day, 5-night trip to London. While there, I caught one show each night and blogged about it the next morning. It was an incredible trip, as the London music scene welcomed me more enthusiastically than I could have imagined, leaving me wishing I could stay another week.

Night #1 – Bob Malone at the 100 Club

My week kicked off with a great Bob Malone concert. Bob is the quintessential blues keyboardist and a heck of a songwriter in his own right. Though he plays Boston a couple times each year (and I first wrote about him in 1998), this is the first time I’ve seen Bob perform live. It was a great way to kick off my London series. Openers Amy Eftekhari and Loose Moorings were also a treat.

Night #2 – Blurred Vision at 229, followed by 5 acts at The Bedford

My second night began with a last-minute surprise, as I found myself added to the guest list of Blurred Vision’s London showcase. With an album produced by Terry Brown (Rush) in hand, this Canadian rock band performed an early set before a group of invited guests. Following that set, I headed down to The Bedford for an interestingly formatted evening. Two sets of five acts, each performing two songs per set. The performers were Joel Bailey, Alice Gullick, Velvet Engine, Sherika Sherard, and The Lemmingtons.

Night #3 – Sonya Titus at The Troubadour

This was the first show I added to my itinerary. After a couple years following and tweeting about Sonya’s music (see “Road Back” #4), I was pleased to finally get to see her perform. You can read, of course, about the show in great detail in the article. Her performance was flanked by a pair of other talented vocalists, Saraswati and Bradley.

Night #4 – Tom Lukas at The Distillers

I was having trouble finding a place to go on Friday night. There was a great pop-punk show on the edge of town, but it was going to involve a bus and a couple trains to return. So instead I decided upon The Distillers. More than one top-notch musician I know had played the room, so I wanted to see it. And I checked out singer-songwriter Tom Lukas’ music briefly before deciding that, even though it was a cover song night, I’d like a chance to hear him sing. Turned out to be a particularly friendly crowd that night, and what perhaps seemed like the weakest of my five nights out upfront ended up quite enjoyable.

Night #5 – Bernie Tormé at The Borderline

This show was an immense stroke of good luck. Indeed, while I had the first three nights planned before my arrival, I was in London before I saw a listing for this show. A little web search was all I needed to tell me this was going to be an old-school rock concert featuring a guitar shredder whose name I’m almost ashamed not to have known, given his pedigree. Along with opener Rusty G’s, Bernie Tormé’s gig was a throwback to the concert-caliber club shows I used to cover regularly in my early rock journalist days with hard rock/heavy metal magazine Tough Tracks; this was a great finale to my visit.

Next

I’m working on a few album reviews, still have a little cleanup to do on the website design, and need to reach out to my writers to get them going, too. But I thought that, since the website kicked off with a such a flurry of articles you may have missed some, a recap such as this could help, especially by including hot links to each of the entries.

Also, as I mentioned before, to avoid missing any articles, please do consider signing up to get them via e-mail. There’s a link at the bottom of the right-hand column if you’re online; on your phone, there’s a place to sign up at the bottom of the page.

Cheers, and enjoy!

Five Nights in London #5: Bernie Tormé

Bernie Torme with Rusty G’s

The Borderline, London
October 31, 2015

Bernie Tormé

Bernie Tormé; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Geoff’s Night Out: Five Nights in London #5

I was in London for five nights and planned to review one show each night. I accomplished that goal, and this is a review of Night #5. I wasn’t sure where to go on Saturday night as recently as yesterday, but after a bit of research, I stumbled across Bernie Tormé’s gig at The Borderline and thought a night back in my original genre would make a good end to the trip. As a few of you may know, hard rock/heavy metal has always been my “home” as a genre, and one of my earliest writing gigs was for Tough Tracks magazine “back in the day.” So reviewing this show was sort of like going back to my roots.

In fact, The Borderline reminded me a lot of Axis, which was one of the clubs where I spent a lot of time in Boston way back when I started as a rock journalist. So yes, you’ll find me “going there” from time to time. It’s still my music, even as my tastes have broadened with so many years of reviewing every type of music sent my way.

Rusty G's

Rusty G’s; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Support Act: Rusty G’s

It seemed rather odd seeing just two band members on stage, and the powerful wall of music the power duo puts forth is incredible. The band opened with a raw hard rocker with a surprisingly tuneful vocal. The next tune was rawer with a little punk influence and great, manic drumming. Rusty G’s then proceeded to open its next number Blue Oyster Cult-ishly, more raw but with nice tempo changes.

Overall, Rusty G’s are a solid rock band. I still can’t get over the fact that such a full, catchy hard rock sound comes from a 2-piece. Musically, the band is really good at finding and maintaining a rock ‘n roll rhythm in its songs — or for stretches of songs, as Rusty G’s will change the rhythm sometimes within a song. They’re an impressive live band, and not just because of the drummer’s flying hair.

Bernie Tormé

Bernie Tormé; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Headliner: Bernie Tormé

Wow! It has been a long time since I’ve seen a guitar god in action, and Bernie Tormé has the pedigree to accompany his flying fingers. The dude’s an axemaster extraordinaire! I’ll let you look it up for yourself if you don’t already know him, and though this style of music hits my sweet spot of music knowledge, I’ll admit I wasn’t familiar with him until I checked out his résumé before deciding to attend this show.

Oh, but the packed club knew exactly who he was. They knew all of his songs back through his musical history. Many even helped crowdfund his new album, Blackheart. And I was about to experience what they already knew. Bernie Tormé can shred with the best of them.

Indeed, right from the start of first song “Wild West,” Bernie and his power trio were obviously in the big leagues. That was followed by a straight-up rockin’ tune with a bluesy-ish vibe and a catchy rhythm… and oh my god, the guitar licks!

Bernie Tormé

Bernie Tormé; photo by Geoff Wilbur

Just about every song had some amazing guitar and was driven by trademark heavy metal rhythm section. The vocals and song styles were well-structured yet raw-feeling, as if your favorite band in concert, without any of the bells and whistles that cleaned up the sound in the studio. This was a rawk and roll concert, baby!

There were a couple of songs whose opening rhythms were reminiscent of a cross between the rhythms of Scorpions’ “The Zoo” and George Thorogood’s “Bad to the Bone.” Bernie pulled out a harmonica on another hard-rocking tune. Many of the songs marched along full steam ahead, but Bernie can throw in some hooks, too, to get fans singing or at least moving to the song on the first listen. And there were, in fact, a couple of songs with audience-participation vocal parts.

Just past the midpoint of the show, the band took a seat on the front of the stage, Bernie grabbed an acoustic-electric guitar, and the group treated its crowd to a one-song change-of-pace.

In all, if my count is correct (and it may not be), after 14 songs (15 if you include the drum solo), the band left the stage, only to be recalled enthusiastically for a two-song encore. The first, which Bernie began with the phrase “you should know this one,” was rocker “No Easy Way.” He and his band followed that with mellower “The Party’s Over.”

And with that, a real rock show ended, and Bernie and his band left the stage to mingle with their throng of supporters. I can think of no more felicitous end to my five nights in London that a return to my roots by covering a guitar god-driven hard rock/metal club show.

What’s Next?

Certainly, at least for a while, the flurry of articles will subside. I have some ideas for review but will also continue to set up the behind-the-scenes items, including getting some other writers up and running for the blog so it isn’t just me doing all the writing anymore. Also, I’ll be back at work again, so I’ll lack the free time I’ve had that has allowed me to write 14 articles in the last two weeks.

But please enjoy these first 14 articles, look back through them if you haven’t already and discover some great music spanning several genres. And do subscribe so you’ll get them delivered directly to your inbox. (There’s probably an option to do that in the bottom right of your screen, at least if you’re viewing this on your PC.) Now that we’re launched, I do promise not to clog your inbox. My rule of thumb will be no more than one a day, a rule I’ll possibly never break now that we’re up and running and actually have subscribers. Indeed, I’m glad to be back writing about music again, and I hope you will continue to enjoy reading what my team and I share with you on Geoff Wilbur’s Music Blog.