all reviews and photos by John A. Wilcox

Get Back! Beatlemania - The Wall Street Theater, Norwalk, CT 11/08/19

It was the first viciously cold night of autumn and I was in absolute agony! No matter - nothing can stop me from catching a Beatles band, particularly one so close by! A caveat: I did not & do not know the names of the musicians, so for this review I will refer to them by their Beatles monikers. Sound fair? Good! This was a 4 act show with each act representing a period of Fab Four history & the outfits to match. Act 1 took off with I Want To Hold Your Hand. A perfect beginning & well played. Paul in particular stood out. This would continue throughout the evening. He introduced most of the songs and his bass playing was mostly spot on. She Loves You felt right here. Nice harmonies. George sang a mighty fine version of Roll Over Beethoven that captured that early rock 'n' Roll aura. I'll Be Backwas just a tiny bit out of sync, but John's vocal was lovely. Ringo got his turn at the mic with I Wanna Be Your Man. Loose but authentic. All My Loving had quite a nice vocal from Paul that definitely trumped the tepid harmonies. An Exciting Twist And Shout concluded this opening act as the band went off to quickly change outfits.

A trip to Shea Stadium-era courtesy of Day Tripper. Truly a song that never wears out its welcome! I Feel Fine featured sweet harmonies and HELP! had an earnest John vocal. Sadly, a well-intentioned Yellow Submarine was a bit of a mess & the arrangement was all over the place. Taxman was leagues better, only marred by a creaky guitar solo. Drive My Car came to the rescue as we were all off for a much needed break!

Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band was a rather inauspicious start to act 3 with everyone struggling to find the same key & tempo on the first verse. It thankfully came together in time for the transition to With A Little Help From My Friends, which sounded quite nice to these ears. A very decent All You Need Is Love led to a quite solid When I'm Sixty Four featuring a charming vocal from Paul. Strawberry Fields Forever kept the positive efforts going, and the Pepper outfit act concluded with a glorious stripped down solo Across The Universe featuring a lush John vocal and acoustic guitar. Mesmerizing.

As John left the stage, the others returned to lead off act 4 with Paul's ode to pot: Got To Get You Into My Life. John returned in white to take the lead on a moody Come Together. The far more upbeat Get Back was next, grooving and connecting with the crowd. Here Comes The Sun sounded nice and fresh and the George vocal was swell! The band was definitely back on track!

I Am The Walrus was nice and confident. Always welcome to these ears! A slightly abbreviated take of Flying was a surprise highlight of the show. It felt right and added a nice vibe to the set. Paul had moved over to piano on Flying and now sang a very strong Lady Madonna. A singalong Hey Jude brought the crowd deeper into the show. A shining moment in the set! Revolution closed the set on a very powerful note. All were in good form and quite fab! Great John vocal and the band was full of spirit!

The first encore was a full-tilt Birthday that drove the crowd wild! The second was Back In The U.S.S.R. that was no less frenetic. Great to heat up the joint on a frigid night. The evening certainly had its share of lumps and bumps and clams, but in the end the four fab lads more than redeemed themselves!

IncrediCon - Poughkeepsie Galleria, Poughkeepsie, NY 10/27/19

Wow! I got up a bit after 6 AM after a Rocky Horror night out on Saturday! I was beat, but got myself together for the ride up to Poughkeepsie to get to the Galleria by 9 to set up for the convention. I slowly woke up along the way and prepped to guest at another IncrediCon. Once again I shared a table with writer Robert J Sodaro and next to the tables for Joe Sinnott and his family. I treasure every opportunity I get to spent time with the Sinnotts. After close to 40 years, we are all family. :)

Seated across the way from us were 2 local radio guys who graciously played my requests - everything from System Of A Down to Siouxsie And The Banshees to Lush to King Crimson to Black Sabbath - unconventional convention choices to be sure, but they somehow fit the day! The folks running the con were great & went out of their way to be helpful - I felt very well treated. They have my thanks! The set us up near food, bathrooms & fun / funky stores. Who could ask for more? The even had a cake & sang to belatedly celebrate Joe Sinnott's 93rd birthday (it was on the 16th)! Joe turned to me & said great cake, John! I agreed!

Lots of talent at this show. Good pal Ray Felix, Tom Sciacca, Dan Green (who I always wanted to meet!), Ryan G Browne, Caseen Gaines, & Michael Grassia to name but a few. Animation vocal pros Joe Bev, Greg Berg, and the ebullient Brianna Denski among others. Bev & I swapped voices and stories all through the day. We did dueling Popeyes & Ed Norton vs Yogi Bear! What a great guy! My beautiful & talented friend Katie C took time to stop by & chat as well as pose with my decorated skull! There was a sort of breezy air to the day. Everyone was upbeat and friendly.

Lots of vendors & performers. There was a very talented guy playing video game themes all day on the piano. I smiled as he accompanied my walking with the main theme from Legend Of Zelda! Too cool! I picked up a hardcover volume of T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents reprints for a mere 10 bucks! Score! A dizzying assortment of action figures, board games, buttons, handmade clothing, comics, posters, Japanese goods, you name it! If these vendors couldn't scratch your itch, then you're hopeless! I also acquired drawings from Sinnott, Grassia & Felix. I was a happy Buthlis LaHosse award winner! ;)

Lots of cosplayers and families giving their Halloween costumes an early test drive. Several Supergirls, Star Trek folks, Star Wars folks. Oregano the dog came to pose poutily. Fabulous folks of all ages walked the floor to share in the festivities. The nicest security guard I have ever had the pleasure to meet was icing on the cake! I dedicate this review to her & she has my unending thanks! See everyone again in March!!

The Rocky Horror Picture Show - Ridgefield Playhouse, Ridgefield, CT 10/26/19

They keep pulling me back! Last year I hit a showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show in the Hudson Valley with my friend Lisa on Halloween & we both had a fantastic time! This year it came to the always lovely Ridgefield Playhouse, so we had to be there. The shadow cast acting it out was The Home Of Happiness hailing from New Jersey & none other than Brad Majors himself - Barry Bostwick - was joining the lunacy!! It was the place to be!

After a delicious Thai dinner, Lisa & I made our way to the venue & into the lobby. A staffer very kindly offered my disabled butt a chair to sit on as we all waited for doors to open. With all of the blessed freaks, geeks, children of the night, Transylvanians, and gender benders attending, it was a show unto itself. I had tons of conversations & took some of the photos you are currently smiling at! Bostwick joined us in the lobby, signing autographs, posing for snaps, and telling lots of funny tales!

Once inside we had pre-show de-virginizing, rules and regulations from the shadow cast, and hijinx from Barry Bostwick. A costume contest with an overflow of entrants was a delight, then it was on to the film! This shadow cast was sooooo spot on in terms of timings & flat-out hilarious. I will mention the giant inflatable penis but not tell you the activities it was involved in! I almost gagged from laughing so hard. Their Dr Frank was female & totally perfect in the part. Quite a wonderful energy to her. Everyone gave robust performances that had everyone in stitches!

The film is the film is the film. What makes seeing it live in a theatre is what the shadow cast coaxes out of the audience. Folks misbehaving in the best possible ways. Singing. Dancing. Toast tossing. Glove snapping. Fishnets and sideburns galore. Party hats, glam clothes, leather, and perhaps a saxophone or three! Call and response moments. Profanity, butts, and a man with no neck. These are indeed a few of my favorite things!

Drained, raw-throated & laughing, I hit the lobby after the credits and hung out with the cast for a bit. Great folks! Lisa had an awesome time and so did I! A serious note to all other venues: Ridgefield Playhouse is very handicap friendly. Too venues are! We disabled folks just want to have a fun time out. :) Ridgefield Playhouse understands that & I thank them! An outstanding evening!

Steve Hackett - Ridgefield Playhouse, Ridgefield, CT 09/26/19

This Steve Hackett tour features a fine pairing: the lion's share of 1979's Spectral Mornings album as well as the entirety of Genesis' Selling England By The Pound from 1973 as well as tunes from At The Edge Of Light and A Trick Of The Tail. Quite a stacked deck! Joining Hackett for the tour are Roger King on keyboards, Nad Sylvan on vocals & a bit of percussion, Jonas Reingold on basses & guitars, Rob Townsend on saxes, flutes, whistles, keys, percussion & bass pedals, and Craig Blundell on drums & percussion. Everyone but King sings as well. I'd been away from the Ridgefield Playhouse for far too long & I was so happy to be back! Everyone there greeted me warmly & I was all smiles! I was happy and warm and the show hadn't even begun!

Everyday started set 1. Hackett was wailing through that solo with flying colors. Everyone was grinning and in full flight. A hammer of sound! This was followed by a brace of songs from Hackett's latest: At The Edge Of Light. Under The Eye Of The Sun was the first of 3 and showed off every member of the ensemble well. Next were the 1-2 of Fallen Walls And Pedestals and Beasts In Our Time. Deep stuff! They fit the feel of the evening like a glove. Back to the Spectral Mornings album for the lush, plush, luxurious The Virgin And The Gypsy. Layers of sweet harmonies were transporting me to another age.

In contrast, the eerie sonic blast of Tigermoth was full of bullets and ghosts. Even in its instrumental form, it's a harrowing number. Majestic beauty was the order of the day with Spectral Mornings. As always, a Steve Hackett spotlight. That unforgettable melody. Long sustained notes and occasional flurries. Quite a bag of tricks and ideas. Next up was a bit of classical guitar. My addled brain says that it included a bit of Black Light, but I cannot absolutely swear it. It quickly morphed into The Red Flower Of Tachai Blooms Forever. First time I've ever heard it live, and I was floored by the sheer beauty of it. Roger King and Rob Townsend shone brightly here. The dark, moody Clocks - The Angel Of Mons closed the set. Craig Blundell was nothing short of jaw-dropping, delivering a meaty drum solo for the ages. The crowd screamed to take us into break!

Act 2 kicked off with Dancing With The Moonlit Knight. So much going on. That fun guitar solo. Stately keys. Plaintive vocal. Totally epic played with ferocity. I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe) was a fun trip. Great Nad Sylvan vocal & antics. The end section was extended out for soloing from Steve Hackett & Rob Townsend. A splendid time was guaranteed for all. As I was watching a beautiful Firth Of Fifth, I noticed that Rob Townsend played the bass pedal part while Jonas Reingold stuck with the bass. Most excellent results! Unless I'm incorrect, this tour is the first time Hackett has ever played guitar on More Fool Me, as it was always just Phil Collins & Mike Rutherford back in the day. Splendid 12-string playing by Hackett. Emotional vocal from Sylvan & spot-on backing vocal & guitar from Reingold!

Next was The Battle Of Epping Forest in all its oddball glory. My favorite piece on the album. A kitchen sink number. For all that goes on, the band made it seem smooth and pretty much effortless. Of course I sang along with every note. It pairs so very well with the instrumental After The Ordeal. Odd brain fart: ever since my teens, the 2nd half of this song reminds me of a sort of regal procession. A show highlight. Everything that came before found resolution with The Cinema Show. Glistening guitars. Angelic harmonies. Strong rhythm. All topped by that signature keyboard solo. Played to creamy perfection. Leading us into Aisle Of Plenty to close the album. As the number rode into the sunset, I chanted "Peek Frean's family assorted from 17 1/2 to 12."

But wait! There's more! An unrecorded leftover Peter Gabriel lyric from 1973 became Deja Vu. A bonus "deleted scene" in Hackett's words. Soulful and yearning vocal supported by keyboards and choirs and punctuated by Hackett solos and Reingold bass lines. Wistful. An energetic change of gears with a frantic and frenetic Dance On A Volcano that sped out of control to close set 2. Blundell was off-the-wall! The encore was Los Endos with the expected bits of Myopia, Imagining, & Slogans included. A total celebration of all things Hackett! This gig generated enough enery to power Venezuela for an entire month! Special thanks to Adrian for help above & beyond the call of duty!

David Brighton's Space Oddity - The Wall Street Theater, Norwalk, CT 09/06/19

My first memories of David Bowie are listening to The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars back in 1972. I was hooked! I only saw Bowie live once, back in 2002. Great show! So I was totally up for this show. Joining David Brighton (as David Bowie) were guitarists Switch & Paul Nelson; bassist Trent Stroh; keyboardist/percussionist Monica Schneider; drummer Kevin Stevens. A phenomenally tight ensemble. Not sure about Stevens, but all of the others also sang. On to the show! The first set opened with Rebel Rebel. Brighton so inhabited the essence of Bowie that the rest of the show ceased to be a tribute. This was Bowie! I swear. Young Americans followed with Schneider playing a spot-on sax sample. Golden Years was next. Flawless. Brighton added a touch of On Broadway on the tail end. A funny intro brought into Dancing In The Street with Nelson singing the Mick Jagger parts. 100% pure fun!

Back to 1970 for a solid take of The Man Who Sold The World. Very colorful. 2 funky faves were next - Fame and Stay. Dancers were starting to inhabit the front of stage in ever growing numbers. Costume change. Ziggy-era Bowie launched into Hang On To Yourself and a scarily perfect Ziggy Stardust. Next we got a loving nod to Marc Bolan with a glorious cover of Get It On with some sly guitar work. The crowd sang along to every syllable of Changes as they were in the palms of Brighton's hands!

The band brought a friend up to join them on a brief acoustic version of Starman and it was back to business. Space Oddity transported us all to another plane. Beautiful. Brighton pulled out a harmonica for a greasy, bluesy version of The Jean Genie that included a smattering of Love Me Do for good measure! The set ended with a full-throttle Suffragette City that was more powerful than a Sherman tank! I went back to my seat soaked with sweat and grinning like a giddy fool!

Set 2 brought us into the 80s as Let's Dance had everyone strutting & grinding on the floor. Sleek yet full of heat. I was beyond pleased to get a rich take of Blue Jean. The song is so filled with melodic movement and an unforgettable chorus. Cat People was packed with dark, brittle energy and we all ate it up. Mesmerizing. Another perfect moment in the form of China Girl as Bowie / band / crowd were a single beast surrendering to that oily groove. She said Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh...

A quick kick back to the glam days with All The Young Dudes. The magic of the night was getting more & more intense! The crowd gasped & cheered as Nelson came out in full Freddie Mercury regalia to duet on Under Pressure. A definite highlight! It oozed seamlessly into Heroes to end the set. How very perfect! Encores were a singalong dance-along Modern Love nicely contrasted by a melancholy yet hopeful Life On Mars. I repeat my earlier statement: this was Bowie! I kid you not. So elegantly done. So full of love & respect. This was quite special and I left feeling so very young.

RidgeCon 5 - Ridgefield Library, Ridgefield, CT 08/10/19

Much to my surprise & delight, there were 3 conventions to choose from here in the nutmeg state this weekend. I selected RidgeCon 5 at the Ridgefield Library. A wise choice. A giant Stay Puft marshmallow man greeted all comers at the entrance. Very cute! No sooner did I walk in (well, rollate in) than I ran into the gorgeous Harley Nox cosplaying Morticia Addams with her significant other as Gomez. An unusual & inspired choice! After talking a bit, I made my way over to purple-haired steampunk librarian Kristina Lareau looking dazzling in her Hogwarts robe. Lareau was my contact for the show and has a genuine enthusiasm that is most engaging. Speaking of cosplayers, I was totally impressed by Claire Fracasse cosplaying Like A Virgin era Madonna, Summer Orlando as an ebullient Elsa from Frozen, and Molly Virello as a recent era Wonder Woman. Virello and I had a nice long conversation. Quite a talent & devoted to her craft.

Lots of fun stuff for kids of all ages to do. A scavenger hunt, face painting, a scary stories tent, gaming & lots more. I popped by to see the folks at Candlewood Fencing and watched some daring gameplay at the Gamer's Gambit table!

Author Jerry Craft was signing his book New Kid and chatting with fans as was A Tale Magnolious author Suzanne Nelson. As I wandered around, I was delighted to see lots of kids full of smiles and wonder. Parents, teens, and adults were poking about with great curiosity. This was a small con in contrast to the mega-Godzilla-sized cons profiteering across the land. It was, however, jam-packed with heart and joy and imagination. I hit the road grinning and satisfied on a warm summer afternoon. I'll definitely be back for RidgeCon 6!

Lock City Anime & Comic Con - Best Western Plus Hotel, North Haven, CT 07/27/19

It was a very warm day, but pleasant. I believe this was my first time at this venue. Very nice. Comfortable & clean. Courteous & helpful staff. I came to the con with my dear friend Lisa. We checked in & made our way in to the main room.

Lots of cool vendors. I bought some buttons as well as a handmade keychain made by Magenta Fantasies Art. Next to her was a lovely & enchanting young lady in full Lolita garb selling skirts and hair bows. So many interesting goods for sale. Yes, comics. Yes Funko pops. Yes lots of anime goods. Lots of art, books, cupcakes & other foods, pillows, plushies, swords, games, cards - you name it! Sugar Pop Crochet caught my attention with incredible pieces. I couldn't leave without buying some kickin' spicy poultry rub from Wanke's Yankee Hot Sauce and Lisa picked up some spicy... adult products from Athena's!

Lots of talent at the show! I had a nice chat with imaginative author P.J.Fenton. I ran into convention pals Bill Walko, Jeremy Kahn (and his great Alien Summer comic, Tom Ryan, Adam Wallenta, and T.C.Ford. I was delighted to see Cat from Nerd Talk (I was her guest in June on the show!) looking dazzling in her Dr.Who Tardis dress! (swoon) There was a room full of gaming - both videogames & card games. I had an enlightening talk about autism with the folks representing Autism Speaks - visit them at It did my heart good to see how many folks bought merch & contributed to the cause. The fine folks at Table Talk even supplied pies for them to give out for free! Yes - free pie!

What would a con be without cosplayers? Great cosplay of all ages! Cosplayer Nikki Gee rocked my world with her unforgettable Tsunade (from Naruto). She's such a creative, vibrant artist! Daphne (from Scooby Doo), Poison Ivy, Bob Ross Deadpool, Tinkerbell, Harley Quinn, Wonder Woman, Iron Man, Godzilla - so many more! Great conversations with several cosplayers about the work & detail they put into their outfits. Passion & love, folks! This family-based con was a total delight for everyone. Thanks, Felix!!

The Midsummer Fantasy Renaissance Faire - Warsaw Park, Ansonia, CT 07/06/19

2 weeks later and I was back for more Ren Faire revelry! Damsels, bards, belly dancers, jugglers, minstrels, a Selkie & a renaissance Klingon of the Caribbean! I picked up spices from Auntie Arwen & bought a flying eyeball I named "Eyevan." I saw lots of old friends and made several new ones. A cool My Neighbor Totoro tee found its way to my camera. Hugs & kisses from a lovely maiden or 2. Great times, fine music, warm weather, and more smiles than you can count. Wanderers and wastrels - get ye to the faire!

The Midsummer Fantasy Renaissance Faire - Warsaw Park, Ansonia, CT 06/22/19

Another year at the faire! I'm just going to let the photos show you the wonderful time I had!

IncrediCon - The Galleria At Crystal Run Mall, Middletown, NY 06/08/19

It was an early morning trek for just over 90 min to get from my house to Middletown, NY. A smooth ride & a fine venue. Joe Sinnott was the much deserved guest of honor. Joe's family: Mark, Belinda & Dorian were there as well, much to my delight. We've all been like family for decades! Great to see Ray Felix, Robert J Sodaro, Michele Witchipoo, and Jim Taylor at the event! Plenty of other super talents as well, including Joe Bev, Michael Grassia, Jeremy Kahn, Jim Martin, Javier Cruz Winnik, and Ryan G Browne. I'm leaving out far too many other creators, but you get the gist! Lots & lots of talent.

I was asked to sign a copy of Amazing Spider-Man #700, little knowing that my name was on the cover! Marvel had put the names of everyone who had ever worked on the title over the years on the cover, so I was in good company! I foolishly forgot to snap a photo of it! While I was there, I landed a bit of swag: a tall Firestorm action figure; free drawings from Grassia & Witchipoo; several $1.00 comics & a still-sealed Marvel Masterworks hardcover collecting Avengers #21-30 (primo Stan Lee / Don Heck stories!).

Not very many cosplayers at this one, but the few there were sure high quality! I talked lots with the Sinnotts which is always a treat. I gave advice to several young artists & writers. Chatted with lots of pros & vendors & attendees. I had a small break for lunch, but it was a nice, fun convention!

Lots of kids & families. Lots of hardcore fans with amazing love for comics from different eras. Lots of smiles & stories. I must say that the folks in the Middletown area made me feel welcome & happy to be there. I'll gladly return anytime they'd like! IncrediCon was a fantastic day for pros & fans alike!!

The Musical Box - The Wall Street Theater, Norwalk, CT 05/31/19

Before I get into the set, let's get into the band for this show. As ever we have vocalist Denis Gagne, guitarist Francois Gagnon, and bassist / guitarist Sebastien Lamothe. Keyboardist Ian Benhamou is a more recent addition and drummer Antoine Baril is a new boy to the band. Honestly, quite possibly the finest iteration of The Musical Box I've had the pleasure to experience. The show was broken into 3 acts. Act 1 was songs from A Trick Of The Tail and Wind & Wuthering. A medley of ...In That Quiet Earth the solo section of Robbery, Assault And Battery, and Wot Gorilla? opened the show. Imagine my surprise to see Gagne rock the bass on ...In That Quiet Earth! Quite a player. Blood On The Rooftops followed with luxuriant classical guitar from Gagnon and Gagne playing piano in addition to his vocal. Next came a fierce take of Dance On A Volcano. Lamothe and Baril were locked in tight as Gagnon and Benhamou flew during those back end runs. This led to the end instrumental section of Entangled which was cleverly accented by memorable visuals. As an aside - I saw quite a few teens at the show - always heartening to see new generations drawn to great music! Act 1 closed with Los Endos. Powerhouse ensemble playing!

Act 2 was selections from The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway starting with Fly On A Windshield / Broadway Melody Of 1974. Next were 2 pieces connected by the pulse: In The Cage and Back In NYC. So much raw energy! Awe inspiring vocals on both. The redolent tones of Hairless Heart segued into the sexual romp that is Counting Out Time with a killer solo from Gagnon. As one might expect, much of the crowd sang along with Carpet Crawlers - myself included! The act and the set concluded with an energetic Lilywhite Lilith and the back end of The Waiting Room. The screen behind the band proclaimed intermission and up went the lights!

Act 3 featured compositions from Selling England By The Pound back. Way back, starting with A Place To Call My Own from From Genesis To Revelation. Performed by Gagne and Banhamou, it was a piece I'd never heard live nor ever expected to! Speaking of just that, it was followed by both Time Table and Seven Stones. Was I dreaming? Time out here. Let me make mention here that not only were the band playing brilliantly, they were also full of smiles. Clearly they were enjoying the show as well as the energy from an enthusiastic & appreciative crowd! Lamothe and Gagnon's acoustics introduced us to the much-beloved Can-Utility And The Coastliners and was followed by a radiant Looking For Someone that truly captured the spirit of early Genesis. Lots of youthful verve.

It's tough to single out a moment as a high point in such a top notch show, but I'm going to nominate Firth Of Fifth. It was flawless. The band knew it. The crowd knew it. Cheers after every solo. Long standing ovation at the conclusion. I've never heard it sound better. 'Nuff said. Gagne told a charming story about painter Betty Swanwick - she painted the cover to Selling England By The Pound - to introduce After The Ordeal. Gagne showed another facet of his many talents by playing cello on the number! The main set drew to a close with the immaculate pairing of Cinema Show / Aisle Of Plenty with the crowd singing along with all the na nanas. Another standing O as credits rolled behind the band. The rabid crowd earned their encore: The Musical Box. Brutal power and head!! No one in attendance will forget this true gem of an evening! The stuff of dreams!!

Brass City Comic Con - Naugatuck Valley Community College, Waterbury, CT 05/05/19

A chilly, rainy Sunday afternoon. I was feeling a bit under the weather but was nonetheless jazzed to hit the Brass City Comic Convention! I love the Waterbury area and Naugatuck Valley Community College is a very friendly venue. Despite the rain; despite it being the day after Free Comic Book Day; despite it being Cinco De Mayo, a nice crowd of devotees made the trek!

Lots of industry pros: Paul Kupperberg, Robert J Sodaro, TC Ford, Adam Wallenta (& son!), Jim Taylor, Bill Walko, and Ryan McCarthy to name a few. Lots of fine vendors over 2 floors selling comics, art, collectibles, clothing, and all sorts of goods! Cosplayers of all ages as well! Lots of talk about Avengers: Endgame and Shazam! was in the air all afternoon. Great vibes!

I gave pep talks to several young folks looking to break into the comic book biz. Had wonderful conversations with all sorts of folks about everything from bullying to favorite Spider-Man outfits to why folks love Loki and back! Any convention is only as good as the folks you talk to. Thankfully I talked to many, many fantastic folks. Brass City Comic Convention was a rousing success for me. Small but mighty! I came home with my voice a bit shot from so very many fun conversations & full of smiles and grand technicolor memories!

Adrian Belew - The Wall Street Theater, Norwalk, CT 04/11/19

I almost wasn't able to do this show. I'm still recovering from a recent injury. There was no way I was going to miss seeing Adrian Belew play so very close to my home, though! So I made the trek. I was rewarded with an extraordinary evening of great music & great vibes. Starting with opener Saul Zonana. Zonana was a 1 man show, playing keyboards and guitar and triggering backing tracks when needed. I wasn't familiar with all the song titles, but I do know that his set included Sooner Or Later, One Life, and songs from a film he's working on called Fool On A Bicycle. Zonana has a warm, soulful voice and his playing captures your ear & heart. Funny as well. Stellar set!

Adrian Belew is touring with his new quartet. He's joined by the aforementioned Zonana on keyboards, guitar, percussion & vocals, Jordan Perlson on drums, and Julie Slick on bass. The 1st set commenced with a smooth, elegant take of Matte Kudasai. The crowd went loco! I sang along like a little boy to the sunshiny Big Blue Sun - a song I've not heard Belew perform in many years. Pure smiles from ear to ear. A furious Ampersand followed with everyone in the band pounding hard. A joyous and twisted Happy With What You Have to Be Happy With led to a strident, celebratory Young Lions. Belew was searing the fret off his Parker guitar on Beat Box Guitar. He even utilized some sort of wooden toy to jostle the strings at one point. Why?? Why not?!?

A new song from Belew's latest - Pop-Sided. Everybody's Sitting - a song about watching TV on your telephone & other current absurdities. A splendid addition to the Belew catalogue. Incompetence Indifference from Side 3 was the perfect follow up. Next was the nostalgic Back in the Day. Clearly, the band wanted to hear me sing at the top of my lungs, as they played Fish Head. Unless I had a brain fart, I don't recall hearing this one live since I saw Belew on the Twang Bar King tour in the early 80s. The set closed with the dangerous b. Slick was crankin' on bass here. Yowch!!

Between sets I angled my way from house right to house left. I like to mix it up if I can! What Do You Know? (Part 1) started us off on a lovely note. A powerful Of Bow and Drum went into an old fave: Big Electric Cat. The Perlson / Slick rhythm unit was thundering! b3 was mind-bendingly complex. Belew's voice drew me deeply into Men in Helicopters. I cannot neglect to mention how very nice the vocals were all night. Belew was well-supported by Zonana on harmonies. Great to hear that vocal blend. What Do You Know? (Part 2) perfectly bracketed this section of the set.

Another new number called Wait to Worry followed. This new material is addictive! I sang along & was near tears to hear the Bears anthemic Superboy. Everyone in the quartet was locked tight & the piece shone like a diamond. The ticking of a clock was truly poignant on You Never Know - a song written by Belew the day after David Bowie died. Heart-rending. In contrast, Frank Zappa was celebrated with a happy version of City of Tiny Lites featuring truly bodacious stank tone on Julie Slick's bass. Pimpin' and meeeeean!

It was time for an extended visit to Crimsotopia! Three of a Perfect Pair / Frame by Frame / Sleepless / Neurotica / Neal and Jack and Me. All 1 straight into the next. The crowd was awestruck & wild. I believe several roofs were blown straight off! The set closed with a sinewy e. Between the set & the upcoming encore, I thought This is the band. Ade needs look no further! Our encore number was Thela Hun Ginjeet. The gloves were off. Everyone gave more than 100%. A fun, friendly celebration of music and friends on stage & off. I'm still basking in the glow!

The Music Of Cream - The Wall Street Theater, Norwalk, CT 03/23/19

I snuck this one in at the very last minute! I grew up listening to Cream mainly from my older brother initially. I devoured those records. Cream went from blues to rock to eccentricity. In a way I can trace my "gateway" to prog to be Cream, the Beatles & Zappa. A ticket was secured through a wonderful friend & I was in! In addition to this being a night of Cream music, it was a family affair! Kofi Baker - son of Ginger - on drums. Malcolm Bruce - son of Jack - on bass. Will Johns - nephew of Eric Clapton - on guitar. Guaranteed to be interesting at the very least!

Set 1 kicked of with a smokin' N.S.U.. Hey! These guys weren't good - they were great! Highest caliber playing, and it had that feel. Outside Woman Blues followed. This was getting more interesting by the moment. This trio obviously not afraid to hit the more obscure corners of the Cream catalogue. ext we got that riff. You know the riff I mean - the riff that opens Politician. A magnificent, confident vocal and muscular playing from all. The crowd were really into Badge - locked in to Johns' guitar work. Bruce told a wonderful story about his mom writing the lyrics to...Sleepy Time Time. Such a lovely surprise to get this number, too often overlooked!

Deserted Cities Of The Heart is a gem I forgot about until this stellar performance reminded me! Wow! Great vocal and wild guitar were the highlights of the classic Strange Brew. Baker took the mic to intro the always weird Pressed Rat And Warthog. A show highlight with its accounting of the misadventures of the bad Captain Madman, the title characters, and a peg leg with woodworm. Yes, I sang along! Another Wilcox fave - SWLABR. Such a great song and incendiary guitar. Set the first closed with a little tune called White Room. The crowd roared & freaked out. The band soared. All 3 players were a tornado of sound. Stunning!

A video opened set 2. That took us into the ever-fantastic I'm So Glad. I adored the vocal here. Another unforgettable lick for Born Under A Bad Sign. If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all seared its way into my brain in my childhood. Johns related a hilarious tale of Uncle Eric that took us into Crossroads. This is a great place to mention an important thing. Baker, Bruce & Johns i no way coast on their pedigrees. This is a hot, brilliantly talented ensemble with no caveats. They lock in like crazy. Improv sections fly ideas all over the place. Beautiful to listen in on. Truly. It's also worth noting how happy these lads are on stage. They are clearly enjoying playing their butts off! Next up - Sitting On Top Of The World. I enjoyed the space in this tune and how the bad played around within it. Another overlooked treat with Sweet Wine. Solid playing by all with another deep vocal.

So, time to talk about Toad. A drum solo bracketed by an instrumental open and close. Baker made the most of his opportunity. It felt like a journey. Bits were based on bits we've heard. Restructured, re-interpreted. Baker traveled through tribal rhythms - African & a bit of Native American. Jazzy in spots, experimental in others. Never boring. Never indulgent. Lots of toms with cymbal accents for, well, accents. Massive energy balanced with an almost lyric delicacy. Totally engaging. Well done!

Bruce was the focus of We're Going Wrong. Great vocal, fiery bass. Set the second closed with a dynamite take of Sunshine Of Your Love. Pure energy with huge power surges. The encore was a wiry version of Spoonful. This was an evening of fresh playing packed with ideas. While the songs were vintage, the life in them was 100% now!

Almost Queen - The Wall Street Theater, Norwalk, CT 02/15/19

Let's get right to it! Almost Queen are a Queen tribute featuring Joseph Russo as Freddie Mercury, Steve Leonard as Brian May, John Cappadona as Roger Taylor, and Randy Gregg as John Deacon. They took the stage in front of a packed-to-the-gills venue less than 15 minutes from my house! The set kicked off with what I think of as the arena version of We Will Rock You - a much different version than the studio version everyone knows. The band were spot on and incredibly tight. That unforgettable guitar riff meant that Tie Your Mother Down was next. The vocal packed that swagger Mercury was so well known for. Time for Killer Queen featuring Gregg rocking the triangle! You're My Best Friend followed. Wonderful!

The bass / drum pulse that drives Another One Bites The Dust had the crowd hot and bothered. A sizzling Flash kept the heat building. An underrated song. Hands in the air for the anthemic Radio GaGa. It sounded glorious! Plush, lush vocal harmonies dominated I Want It All as the band kept moving from strength to strength.

People that weren't yet born when Fat Bottomed Girls was released were singing and dancing and shouting every word, which shows the power this music has. I must say that the huge moment for me was Don't Stop Me Now. Not the biggest Queen number by any means, but the crowd passionately sang every word. I do believe the band themselves were blown away by that! I Want To Break Free was full of strut. I smiled upon hearing how many folks in the crowd brought their own bicycle bells to ring during Bicycle Race. Outrageous!

One of my fave tracks off of Sheer Heart Attack - Stone Cold Crazy was smokin' hot! Love that crazy guitar solo!! Back to the 1st album for Keep Yourself Alive. It segued into a fine drum solo from John Cappadona. Well done! Big big harmonies and an exquisite singalong courtesy of Somebody To Love. Russo donned an acoustic guitar to rockabilly us all out with Crazy Little Thing Called Love. It was really wave after wave after wave of joyous energy!

The set closed strongly with Under Pressure - loved all the vocal interplay here! Encore time! Russo threw the 1st verse of Bohemian Rhapsody to the crowd to sing. We did not disappoint! Band & crowd converged to give the song the needed vocal beefiness during the "Bismillah" section. The version you all know and love of We Will Rock You was a powerhouse, and the emotionally spent crowd joined for We Are The Champions. As the system played out with the Queen arrangement of God Save The Queen, it was up and out! An amazing, celebratory show that I hope I get to see many more times!

The Genesis Show - Ridgefield Playhouse, Ridgefield, CT 01/05/19

I was thinking back to 1997. At that point in my life a Genesis tribute act was a pipe dream. Since then, I've seen many & heard lots and lots of Genesis material performed with different degrees of accuracy and ability. I was entering 2019 by seeing a new one to me: The Genesis Show. They were coming to the Ridgefield Playhouse to perform all 4 sides of Seconds Out in order! Of course I had to be there! Squonk, with its Boom bap! Boomboom bap! rhythm, started the set off on a powerful note. Everything sounded & felt right. I've listened to Seconds Out a bazillion times, so it's in my DNA. I was already smiling! Carpet Crawlers (or Carpet Crawl - take your pick!) was delicate and lush. I loved the vocal. Next was a favorite number of mine - Robbery, Assault & Battery. The band handled that tricky solo section fluidly. Great energy here & the packed crowd ate it up! An emotional Afterglow finished out album side one. Fantastic keys & vocal. Spot on ensemble work.

Firth Of Fifth OK, I'll say more than that even though the title tells you all you need to know. Regal. Stately. Bass pedals. Chorus mellotron sounds. That solo. Got it? Suddenly, it was 1 O'clock and time for lunch! The silliness of I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe) was perfectly placed & tightly performed. The vocalist even did Phil's little tambourine acrobatics bit. Ear-to-ear grins all around & everyone shouting the chorus! The crowd swelled and glowed during The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. I don't know if the band were aware, but I was. Everyone was locked in. Part of the song. Honestly. We all rode along for the closing section of The Musical Box. The energy had built by this point. I see this as where it changed from a concert to an experience.

So, it was time for Supper's Ready. A gorgeous & fierce version. I was saddened by how very many people left to buy booze during it. A true measure of any Genesis fan: how important is this song to you? I guess the power of alcohol can trump the power of unforgettable music. The band captured every nuance flawlessly. A massive tome of moods and textures. Acoustics, harmonies, and that biiiiiiig 9/8 section. Wonderful! The experience continued!

It's interesting to follow 1 emotional wringer with another.The Cinema Show was exactly what you know it is and what you need it to be. Timeless beauty. A tale juxtaposing a mundane bloke with a bit of mythology. A velvet carpet of acoustics building to that surging solo section. Truly special. Next, that tale from the darkside: Dance On A Volcano. Dramatic anger spinning and pounding until morphing into that high vibration drum duet. This is a great time to mention something that well & truly pleased me. Not only were the drum parts faithful to the Phil Collins / Chester Thomson arrangements, but they were also sonically identical. I don't know if it was the drum heads or mics used or both, but it had that exact sound I've never heard another Genesis act achieve (outside of Genesis themselves)! Yes!! Los Endos closed the magical set on a veritable power plant of sound. A crackling dynamo shooting audio sparks into the crowd!

As if that wasn't enough, we got an encore set of material the band dubbed their Three Sides Live set. This started with the most excellent Dodo / Lurker combination. Dark & power-packed as ever! Next we all got a trio of pop hits: Follow You Follow Me, Misunderstanding, & Turn It On Again. Young women popped out of their seats & started to whoop to each other & dance. More power to them, I say. They're fun pop tunes and the band played them with sparkling accuracy & no small amount of love. Good tunes all!

In a mighty contrast we got the famous 1976 medley of it. and an instrumental section of Watcher Of The Skies. The building seemed to all but explode! For those who trespass against us, Knife closed the evening out. I was happy, shocked, delighted, exhausted as the lights came up as There's No Business Like Show Business came over the system. I need to see this band often & so do you!! They are here & they are now!!

Lez Zeppelin - The Warehouse, Fairfield, CT 12/14/18

An interesting change this year. No opening act. Just unfiltered Zep. The line up for this year was Steph Paynes on guitar, Leesa Harrington- Squyres on drums, Joan Chew on bass and keys, and Marlain Angelides on lead vocals. Set 1 wasted no time. Communication Breakdown ripped through the air. Pow! Good Times Bad Times followed. Angelides was so colorful and strong. Now we were on to the main meat of this set: Led Zeppelin II from end to end! Count me in!! Whole Lotta Love was vicious and Paynes was a 6 string superhero. What Is And What Should Never Be was slinky and seductive. It just sounds so very good live! The Lemon Song was fresh and confident. A song you cannot help but love.

Thank You is always welcome here. A nice little number that contrasts well with all the big songs. Speaking of... the double duty that is Heartbreaker / Living Loving Maid (She's Just A Woman) came next. Harrington-Squyres and Chew being a ferocious rhythm aggregate. Ramble On had the crowd hit a new level of joy, and Harrington-Squyres got to show off her considerable chops on Moby Dick. Bring It On Home concluded the album as well as the set with the band's road guy joining on harmonica. Steaming blues with an even steamier vocal from Angelides! I was a sweatball by this point, so it was good to get a break & cool down!

Chew had a chance to really shine on keyboards with In The Light. Dreamily sensitive playing. Beautiful. So, set 2 was all requests. We wrote them on slips of paper and put them in a jar. Over The Hills And Far Away was the 1st request played. Fantastic! My request was played next. Those who know me well already know it was...Achilles Last Stand! Supercharged and really friggin' difficult to play! The band nailed it confidently. Ten Years Gone followed. I hadn't listened to this song for a bit, so it really hit the spot. Balm for my heart and soul.

Kashmir shook the Warehouse next. Not a big piece, a huuuuuuuuuge piece! All four players were locked together as one. Next was a big kick to the patootie courtesy of Immigrant Song. Yeah! Rock And Roll closed set 2 on a high energy note. The crowd needed, wanted, and demanded an encore. Zep delivered How Many More Times as their final statement of the night. A rampage of sounds and sights. A guy behind me kept shouting You girls ROCK!! Yes, indeed they do!!

Brand X - The Heights At Brother Vic's, South Salem, NY 11/30/18

Back to The Heights at Brother Vic's! I love this venue! This time I was there to see Brand X for the first time in my life. Settled in to a nice table and had superb Sweet chili & hoisin wings (yum). The current iteration of Brand X is John Goodsall - Guitar, Chris Clark - Keys, Kenny Grohowski - Drums, Scott Weinberger - Percussion, and Percy Jones - Bass. Set 1 opened with a scorching Smacks Of Euphoric Hysteria and we were off to the races! The first thing I noticed was how incredibly well Grohowski and Weinberger fit together. They were absolute beasts! Earth Dance followed. A great spot to let you know how awesome a player Clark is. He struck me as sort of the band leader - bringing together cues between members during improvisational sections while playing extraordinarily well. I was all smiles. Next up: Black Moon. Jones and Goodsall were, well, Jones and Goodsall. Masters at what the do. Impossible runs played with total ease. Impressive!

This is a great place to mention that this group was having fun. Not just the barrage of laughingly bad jokes, but humor in their playing as well. An accent here, a deliberately stray note there. Lots of smiles on stage & off. Not Good Enough - See Me! saw the ensemble shine. Everyone had their spot. I was pleasantly surprised to hear the old b-side from Product - Noddy Goes To Sweden Jones in full flow propelling the number. Set 1 closed on ...And So To F.... Rhythmic and raw. Fluid and furious. Break time!

Everyone had their bathroom breaks. I had a cup of Earl Grey. Good to go. Set 2 smacked us in the face with Disco Suicide. I always think of this number as sophisticated. I think it's a proper description. Sections develop. Themes come in and out. Very satisfying. The same can be said of The Ghost Of Mayfield Lodge. I think it's a bit overlooked in the Brand X canon, but a splendid splinter of jazz/rock/prog/fusion! Born Ugly was a dynamo of energy that threw in a hilarious sample of Frank Sinatra singing Strangers In The Night just to keep everyone on their toes!

Goodsall gave a humorously flippant intro to Why Should I Lend You Mine (When You've Broken Yours Off Already).... Such a strong number! Clark got the spotlight for ...Maybe I'll Lend You Mine After All. He extended out the piano-driven number with a wide-ranging number that included bits of Karn Evil 9 (2nd Impression) and Take A Pebble. Lovely colors. Delicate yet grand. The sound of choppers in the air signaled in the moody Cambodia to close the set. I've always been fond of Goodsall's guitar figure that anchors the piece. Several bad jokes later, the encore was a schmokin' Malaga Virgen. Everyone played at breakneck speed and the air was full of melodies flying every which way! What an incredible evening!

The Rocky Horror Picture Show - The Paramount Hudson Valley Theater, Peekskill, NY 10/31/18

The last time I recall going out on a Halloween night was over 20 years ago, maybe 20! Then I saw that this event was occurring. The Paramount Hudson Valley Theater in lovely Peekskill, New York was having a showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show with a shadow cast! I called my friend Lisa & it was a done deal! I love the town & I love the venue. We pulled into town and caught a bite at the Peekskill Coffee House - a magical little joint with great food, great staff, and awesome vibe! Not to mention a gorgeous vampire barista!

Waiting for the show, I met several members of The Apoca-lips Cast - the shadow cast for the evening. Everyone was friendly, open, and eager. Fun conversations. We grabbed seats about mid-way into the theater, on the aisle. Lots of folks were dressed in all sorts of garb - creative iterations of film characters & all sorts of humans and creatures. The show had not yet begun and I was already wildly entertained!

Showtime! The shadow cast opened with a Scooby Doo-themed skit with was vibrant and fun. Fine start! Next up were the rules & warnings for the evening. These were just plain hilarious. This led to singling out the RHPS virgins of the crowd. 14 of them were brought onto the stage to participate in a risque ritual involving the eating of donuts in an...interesting way! On to the film!

As opening credits rolled, the shadow cast took the stage in character, in order. A good portion of the audience had their props at the ready. Rice, newspapers, confetti, rubber gloves, etc. People reciting dialogue. Shadow cast miming & acting out the film. Audience members yelling back at the film. Sensory overload in the best possible way!

We got a gorgeous Janet, a fine Magenta, a fabulous Dr Frank - every role was memorable & campy, and lighthearted. The sexiest windshield wipers I have seen in my life! There was so much to absorb. So many laughs. Sweet moments. Crazy bits. Off-the-wall stuff. As I drove home it struck me how very much work this cast did to entertain us all. Fantastic!

Sadly, all good things come to an end. As the film drew to a close, I felt a warmth, a glow. Film/shadow cast/audience - we were all one. I know that sounds corny. If you were there, you understand. I want to see this every year now. I need to. There was a sense of belonging. Truly. In this current crazy world we live in, we need to go to the lab & see what's on the slab! Before I sign out here - kudos to the staff of the Paramount! Security, box office staff - everyone made us all feel welcome & happy. Thank you all & bless you, shadow cast! Much love!!

IncrediCon - Poughkeepsie Galleria, Poughkeepsie, NY 10/28/18

Up, up, up I went! Waaaaaay above sea level to Poughkeepsie in New York for a comic convention! Not only was I there to cover it, I was there as a guest for my many decades as a professional comic book artist and writer. Drove up with a fellow pro & his girlfriend. The convention was set up in the Poughkeepsie Galleria - a pretty substantial mall. I immediately ran into lots of pros and fans. Young Grace even drew me a pumpkin for Halloween!

I ran into Jeff Shultz, Alex Simmons, Ray Felix and several other comic book pros. Ran into my pal Mark Sinnott (son of inking legend Joe Sinnott) and his wife & son. Was great to catch up a bit! Marty Grabstein, voice of Courage The Cowardly Dog was there as well. Grabstein was hilarious and super-charming. Give this man his own talk show!

Lots of cool cosplayers. Black Panther, The Hudson Valley Ghostbusters, Iron Man, Flash, Optimus Prime, Harley Quinn, and more! I must make special mention of a wonderful spin on Poison Ivy. It was incredibly creative. A different level. I had a conversation with the cosplayer and found her to be fascinating & passionate about her work. A definite highlight of the day!

Lots of interesting vendors. I bought a few items for myself and some wonderful crafts by Jessica Cohen for my great nieces. Jessica and her tablemate rocked! Great handcrafted accessories like earrings and bracelets, plus handcrafted dolls that will knock you out! I regret not buying an astoundingly well made Jiji (from Kiki's Delivery Service) that floored me! Great conversation with a young librarian named Kate - we talked about the 200th anniversary of the Frankenstein novel as well as many other topics. So many highlights at this show. This was the very 1st IncrediCon. Hopefully 1st of many!!

Scott's 50th Progtastic Birthday Bash - Club 47, Milford, CT 08/04/18

I've known Scott Corcoran for a bunch of years. A great guy with a deep, genuine love of progressive music. I was pleased and honored to be invited to his 50th birthday bash. Fellow prog fan Ken Hendricks graciously gave me a ride to the gig (Thanks Ken!) in Milford. Quite a nice venue. Comfy seating, nice staff. I felt very much at home as I settled myself in. I caught up with a few friends - Greg Jones, Brems, Alan & Amy Benjamin - before the first act took the stage.

Laura Meade, best known as a member of IZZ, started the event off on the good foot. Joining Meade were John Galgano on keys, Paul "Brems" Bremner on guitars, Christopher Baldini on bass, and Brian Coralian on drums. Meade's set heavily featured her current solo album Remedium. Sunflowers At Chernobyl, Never Remember, Every Step, Dragons, and Irradiation were all outstanding examples of gentle, highly melodic prog. The numbers just seemed to hit my heart and soul.

The set also included 3 wildly diverse covers: Phil Collins' Against All Odds, Paul Bremner's Lost In A Memory (from his excellent album The Witness), and Chris Squire's Silently Falling. As an IZZ fan, I was so happy to hear Laura Meade carry a set. She has a superstar voice. Impeccable, personal tone & range. Galgano was wonderful on keys & his arrangements perfectly showcased Meade's voice. Brems delivered immaculate solos. Baldini & Coralian were in the pocket. I was gobsmacked!

After a tear down / set up break and consumption of delicious appetizers, it was time for Pinnacle. I've heard their albums, of course, but had never really caught them live. Greg Jones on drums, Karl Eisenhart on guitars and vocals, Bill Fox on bass, guitars, and vocals, and Matt Francisco on keyboards and vocals proceeded to blow my mind. The quartet started with a TNT speed trip called The Garden Of Turbulence. How dare they play so well! Because Of You, and Information Overload kept the vibe going. Jones' drumming was a piston engine emanating power. Music Man had a strong vocal from Francisco. Words had a strong everything from everyone.

New World View had a fusiony bent to it. Eisenhart was a clinic all night - amazing fingers! Too Far Gone was full of colors. Little Tin Angel made me smile. Quite a nice feel. Life In A Year and the closing Flying Colors were full of energy and dizzying bits of flying melodies. Major riffage everywhere! Truly an exceptional, memorable set!

Dinner dinner dinner. Then came 3RDegree. This was the 1 act I was not familiar with, musically. For this show they were George Dobbs - keyboards and vocals, Robert James Pashman - bass guitar, additional keyboards, backing vocals, Bryan Ziegler - electric guitars, backing vocals, Rob Durham - drums. I had no idea what to expect, although I was definitely heartened to see the guitarist wearing a Residents T shirt. Then they started to play... OMG! Just brilliant. Quirky as all Hell - in the very best possible way. Top Secret, Re1nstall_Overture, Connecting, The Gravity all offered pleasingly deft playing, inventive arrangements, and wry, intelligent lyrics.

Olympia just crushed me. Circuit Court and Logical Conclusion reminded me of the Residents on a camping trip with Phideaux. Ones & Zeros and Live With This were modern models of bizarre construction that felt...right. They closed with You're Fooling Yourselves. By that point I was singing along to a song I'd never heard in my life! Seek this band out!

Cake and coffee and cupcakes. Closing out the evening were Stratospheerius - my buddy Joe Deninzon's band. Joining Joe were Benny Koonyebsky on drums, Paul Ranieri on bass, and Michelangelo Quirenale on geetar. They came out guns blazing and tore into Behind The Curtain Deninzon's violin was hovering between sounding like a guitar and sounding like another voice throughout the set. Release and Take Your Medicine kept the ball rolling. The band felt confident and locked in. Lots of flying from Deninzon and Quirenale. Ranieri was just plain dangerous. Koonyebsky was the new guy to my ears and this dude was terrifying. Hysteria and Climbing showed why this may very well be the ultimate incarnation of this band!

Gods and Face were amazing workouts. Heavy Shtettle was a huuuuuge step into the experimental zone! Deninzon asked if they could play 3 more tunes. Of course they could! Game Of Chicken, The Prism, and One Foot In The Next World closed out the evening on a definite high. Great music, great food & great company made for an incredible evening. Happy Birthday, Scott! Many more & many thanks!

The Midsummer Fantasy Renaissance Faire - Warsaw Park, Ansonia, CT 07/07/18

I must say at the outset that it was an absolutely beautiful day. High 70s / low 80s, sunny, soft warm breezes. I went to the faire with my friend Lisa. Excellent company. We both were looking to have a small day of fun. Just a nice, comfy time. We listened to Steeleye Span on the ride up to Ansonia - really fit the mood!

I still have a badly pinched nerve that effects my right leg. I knew that the terrain at the faire is pretty lumpy bumpy, so I used a walker instead of a cane. A good choice! As expected, pretty much every human I met was open and friendly. This faire has a warm, family sort of vibe. I poked into a few vendor tents as I worked my way down to the Momma's Place tent. It once again was my base of operations.

I sat on a comfy glider chair, once more wearing my first mate garb, and started talking to folks. I immediately ran into Granny Grue, the vegetarian zombie. Her bright and bubbly nature automatically makes you smile. An awesome performer as well! I watched Sasha the fire gypsy do her act and talked with a young mermaid and a Selkie! Lots of attendees in character - always nice to see. Turkey legs, fries, popcorn, and macaroni & cheese with pulled pork and bacon wafted through the summer air. nomnomnomnom.

I bought a tasty spice blend at Auntie Arwen's Spices and a deadite Kongo figure at Tintangel's Gate. Lisa bought a stuffed kitty and some genealogy stuff at various vendors. Later we made our way to a tent to see the Graces perform. 3 bawdy women with beautiful voices singing impossibly hilarious risque songs. Their 30 minute slot seemed to be just 5 seconds long! I wanted hours more! Belly dancing, Shakespeare, minstrels (including the Creepy Bard!), jousting, revelry, ribaldry, friends, and unforgettable fun. As fine a time as a human can have!

The Security Project - The Heights At Brother Vic's, South Salem, NY 05/27/18

The venue, The Heights At Brother Vic's, is right off route 123, just over the Connecticut / New York border. A bit past New Canaan, surrounded by beautiful greenery and storybook houses. Once you enter through the huge wooden doors, you find yourself in quite a friendly venue. To your far left is a cozy bar. Right of that is the main room with a stage and tables. Excellent eats & drinks. Relaxed, friendly staff. Vic himself is a cool guy with an obvious love of music. The venue immediately felt like home.

I was there, of course, to see the mighty Security Project give us all an evening of Peter Gabriel music. My 3rd time seeing the current iteration with Jerry Marotta, Trey Gunn, David Jameson, Michael Cozzi, and Happy Rhodes. Set 1 opened with Lay Your Hands On Me. As we all settled in to the show, the band were crisp. The piece felt played in and sharp. Rhodes was in great voice and animated. A fine start. Next was a jaw-dropper for me: Slowburn. I never saw it coming. My heart leapt and I was a 17 year old boy again, full of Clark Kent gosh-wow. It's such a huge number. The outro transitioned deftly into I Don't Remember. Gunn and Cozzi caught my attention with their interplay. Rhodes wove in and out of the sonic tapestry confidently. The wonderfully caustic No Self Control followed with Jameson's keyboard textures underpinning Marotta's massive drums. Rhodes threw in a positively stellar emotional delivery.

Humdrum was up next. Rhodes' vocal led the way , caressing the air over Jameson's keys as the others built toward the massive ending. Buzzes and bugs meant Mother Of Violence. Cozzi's guitar was the bed here. Gunn was subtly compelling. Rhodes nailed it. Goosebump-inducing! And now for something completely different. I had to laugh at Happy Rhodes as she grabbed at the air greedily just behind a waiter as he passed by. A perfect set up for the ever-creepy Intruder. If ever there was a perfect showcase for this ensemble, it's Lead A Normal Life. Huge moments, subtle moments. Propulsion. Simplicity, yet not. Bigosity to coin a new word. A fun, energetic I Have The Touch closes set 1. Great vocal and lots of movement. A break on a high note!

Set 2 began with the ever-exotic The Family And The Fishing Net - headless chickens included. Trey Gunn was splendid here, his low- end work oozing through the piece. David Jameson even pulled out the Eigenharp! Jerry Marotta took lead vocal on a sledgehammer take of On The Air. Bursting with energy from front to back! This was my 3rd time hearing the band cover Kate Bush's Mother Stands For Comfort. Every time it has been different. This time musical notes and phrases shimmered in and out behind the bass and vocal leads. Mesmerizing once again. Family Snapshot, in contrast, struck me as sticking fairly close to the album arrangement. As they say - if it ain't broke, don't fix it!

Marotta spoke for a bit with us about working with Peter Gabriel for 10 years and working in this band. He then introduced Wallflower as being what he felt was one of Gabriel's finest. An emotion-charged vocal by Rhodes and impeccable performance by the band proved his point. Back, back went the clock to the days of Genesis and the perfect pair of Fly On A Windshield and Broadway Melody Of 1974. The tail end of the latter morphed into Games Without Frontiers - one of two tunes to feature the whistling talents of the band (the other being Intruder). The outro extended into an improv piece that I believe the band calls Of These, Hope. A brilliant finish to set 2!

But wait - there's more! During the encore break, the establishment served us all free chocolate cake! I kid you not. It was some of the best cake I have ever consumed. Marotta once again talked about the band, Gabriel, the venue, the crowd, then introduced a solo spot for David Jameson. Jameson took the stage and left me speechless as he ran through hunks of the Genesis catalogue: Supper's Ready / One For The Vine / The Musical Box / Watcher Of The Skies / Blood On The Rooftops / Firth Of Fifth / A Trick Of The Tail. The latter being the first time I've ever heard so much as a snippet of that song live! This all seamlessly flowed into The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway as the rest of the band rejoined him to blaze through the tune. The final encore was the tribal number The Rhythm Of The Heat. The Security Project proves night after night why they are a must-see band. Don't ever put off seeing them again! Nothing short of astounding!

Steve Hackett - Tarrytown Music Hall, Tarrytown, NY 02/18/18

I hadn't seen a show in Tarrytown in far too long, so it was a real treat to return to this 1880s venue. Steve Hackett and the gang were in town to take us on a journey for a few hours and I was a ready and willing passenger. Please Don't Touch was a fantastic opener. On bass was old pal Jonas Reingold and he fit in perfectly. I was already feeling that spirit of adventure. Every Day was a beauty. Hackett's guitar was swooping and screaming. Roger King threw vast swaths of sound as a vivid backdrop for the long solo outro. The poignant Behind The Smoke added a "world" sound to the mix thanks in no small part to King, Rob Townsend, and Gary O'Toole. As an I aside, let me mention that when the players are this good, it allows you to relax deeper into the show. Into the emotions of the material. Everyone got frisky on El Nino which exploded off the stage! Powerful.

In The Skeleton Gallery was highlighted by some excellent harmonica acrobatics from Hackett as he did a call-and-response with Townsend's sax. Quite a highlight. Next was a slice of magic in the form of the GTR hit When The Heart Rules The Mind. Is it sacrilegious to say that this version far outstripped the original? Nad Sylvan came to the stage to add his considerable vocal might to the piece. Sylvan was also the key to a soulful Icarus Ascending that featured nice bits from everyone. Beautiful. A positively otherworldly Shadow Of The Hierophant closed the solo set. Reingold added a unique new flavor to it and melded seamlessly with King. More to come!

Dancing With The Moonlit Knight opened the Genesis set. Plaintive vocal from Sylvan. Killer rhythm section. Fast sailing. A highly emotional One For The Vine touched me deeply. As did the sad story of unjust punishment that is Inside And Out. The "Out" section was especially celebratory and lush. The crowd went crazy! Well, in fairness, the crowd were in a frenzy for the entirety of the show & one cannot blame them. This ensemble delivered the goods with power and finesse. The Fountain Of Salmacis hit all the right notes - no pun intended. Reingold and O'Toole were blazing.

Roger King's keys ruled court on Firth Of Fifth. Townsend & Hackett's solos were magic. The stuff of dreams. Sylvan's interpretation of The Musical Box was duly theatrical both vocally and visually. He's really mastered this. Time for the biggie. Strap in. It's Supper's Ready. I always get a chill when I see Steve Hackett sit with an acoustic 12 string guitar. There's just a sort of emotional guarantee to it. It transcends time. So many highlights here. Every player had their moments. Sylvan's steampunk glasses and coat at the end were brilliant. Hackett's insane extended solo at the end was a wonderful coda. Standing ovation! The encore was a dazzling Los Endos with bits of Myopia and Slogans in there as well. The word that fits the evening is triumphant!

The McCartney Years And Fleetwood Macked - Ridgefield Playhouse, Ridgefield, CT 02/16/18

A double tribute night. First up was Fleetwood Macked. They were a Buckingham / Nicks era Mac.The Chain led off the show. The vocals harmonies were tight and smooth. A fine start. More tight vocals on I Don't Wanna Know. The crowd was loving it. Say You Love Me was another crowd pleaser. Gypsy was an early highlight. Dancing in the seats was already starting to break out!

You Make Lovin' Fun kept the ball rolling. Always a Mac favorite. Strong vocals once more dominated Dreams. A Buckingham fave - Second Hand News was next. The moody Rhiannon had a dark amber feel to it and the acoustic Landslide was a study in fragility.

Sara showcased another spot on vocal. Gold Dust Woman showed the full potential of this band. Strong vocal. Solid harmonies. Tight playing by all. The crowd responded wildly & deservedly. Go Your Own Way was a bit looser than I would've preferred, but the band got the crowd singing and stomping to the set closing Don't Stop! Break time!

From the opening bars of Jet, The McCartney Years grabbed my attention and kept it all night. Lightning in a bottle. A vicious powerhouse of a Let Me Roll It had me in awe. This band was deadly! Next was as perfect a take as you will ever hear of Band On The Run that saw all 6 players playing as one. After the song I heard a guy behind me say This is Heaven. I could not disagree! Next we got Silly Love Songs with that buoyant bassline and creamy harmonies. Of course I sang along. Over to the piano for a gorgeous reading of The Long And Winding Road It had such a stately sort of power to it. Quiet in a way, but gripping.

The keyboard generated sax solo on Listen To What The Man Said brought a huge smile to my face. The wonder of it all, baby! With Maybe I'm Amazed and Lady Madonna, the band had the audience in the palms of their hands. Cartoonist boy Wilcox pretty much shouted along to every line of Magneto And Titanium Man with its fine Fender Rhodes playing. Nineteen Hundred And Eighty Five was an unexpected surprise. Sometimes one needs to be reminded of just how many gems reside in the Paul McCartney catalogue.

Acoustic takes of Blackbird and Yesterday were as engaging as they were intimate. The Hofner bass plugged in for Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band which segued into a steam engine of a Back In The USSR replete with those Beach Boys- esque vocal harmonies. Get Back had this confidently punchy groove to it. Joy joy!

I loved the band interplay during Day Tripper. This ensemble was feeding off the raw energy & love the audience was emitting. Back to the piano for a totally primo Let It Be that reminded me of listening to a beautiful hymn. An energetic Live And Let Die followed and the set closed with an extended singalong of Hey Jude with lots of audience participation and interaction. The Hofner returned for the encore medley of Golden Slumbers / Carry That Weight / The End. The McCartney Years delighted my ears and heart. These are the sorts of evenings we can never get enough of to enrich our lives.

Arrival From Sweden - Ridgefield Playhouse, Ridgefield, CT 02/02/18

It was absolutely frigid as I headed to Ridgefield. I caught a bite at an Albanian pizzeria before heading to the Ridgefield Playhouse. It was 19 degrees. Ouch! After picking up my tickets and photo pass, it was time for an ABBA infusion courtesy of Arrival From Sweden. Singing the Agnetha parts was Tove Lind Mckeever. Singing the Frida parts was Victoria Norback. Jakob Svensson played guitar in the Bjorn role, and Lalle Larsson (who I last saw with Agents Of Mercy & Karmakanic!) played keys in the Benny slot. Joining them were Mark Hogan on bass, Mathias Backstrom on sax, keys, and guitar, Pontus Engborg on drums (on loan from Glenn Hughes), with Malin Malm and Elisabeth Andersson on backing vocals.

With lights playing over the stage and the sound of helicopters over the system, the band launched right into That's Me. The sold out crowd was ecstatic! Knowing Me, Knowing You was absolutely spot on. Another ABBA chestnut in the form of When I Kissed The Teacher led to a buoyant medley of I've Been Waiting For You / Honey, Honey / He Is Your Brother. Norback introduced an uplifting version of Fernando as a song about freedom and even sang the first half of the song in Swedish. Quite an emotional moment.

As the women went back to change outfits, the quintet tore into the instrumental Intermezzo No. 1 with Larsson's keyboards to the fore. The 4 women returned with SOS and a version of Money, Money, Money that was one of the highlights of the evening. It was then back to the days of the Eurovision competition via Waterloo. Everyone was singing at full throttle, then all but exploded during the set-closing Mamma Mia. Lots of dancing from everyone took us to break.

The singing and dancing of the audience continued as the band opened set 2 with a kickin' Voulez-Vous. Svensson took the lead vocal on Does Your Mother Know with all 4 women contributing flawless backing vocals. The energy kept building with the 1-2 punch of Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight) into Super Trouper. I dutifully sang the su-papa trou-papa vocals along with the band! Next came a medley of often overlooked ABBA pearls: Kisses Of Fire / Angeleyes / Lay All Your Love On Me that was splendid. The Name Of The Game transitioned into a looooong version of Eagle with heavenly solos from Svensson, Hogan, and Larsson that was another unforgettable highlight! This is a good time to mention the powerhouse drumming of Pontus Engborg. He fierce precision added depth to every song.

Norback took lead on the melancholy One Man, One Woman. Her vocal was tender and winsome. No less emotional was Mckeever's lead on The Winner Takes It All. The set closed with Take A Chance On Me. Scientists have confirmed that no human can resist singing Take a chance, take a chance, take a take a chance chance once this song begins. This night was no exception! As Norback thanked the crew and the venue, Larsson tinkled Thank You For The Music behind her before launching into Dancing Queen. Kids were brought up from the crowd to join the band. A Swedish flag was grabbed from a fan to wave onstage. Everyone was smiling and singing and dancing. The Playhouse was alive with high spirits. A night of undeniable joy!

Table Of Contents