Julio Iglesias: The Original Latin Lover

Standard
After so many moons, I finally got to see Julio Iglesias live. What a deliciously seductive treat!

After so many moons, I finally got to see Julio Iglesias live. What a deliciously seductive treat!

I am not ashamed to admit that I have had a crush on this man since his song “Moonlight Lady” came out in 1984 and hold fond memories of watching as he guest starred on The Golden Girls in 1989 as Sophia Petrillo’s secret Valentine’s date. Julio Jose Iglesias de la Cueva has been swooning women and capturing hearts in over 14 languages on over 80 albums for over 40 years now. If nothing else, you have to give him props for those numbers. I have always wanted to see him in concert and was finally presented with an opportunity to do so that I simply could not pass on. Even with the daunting logistics of traveling to the not-so-picturesque town of San Bernardino, being exposed to the bizarro vibe of the San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino, and having to endure the Russian cheesemeister opening act singing Steve Miller’s “Abracadabra,” it was all worth it to realize my long held dream of watching this sexy Spaniard sing his songs for me, live and in the flesh.

Looking dapper as always, Julio appeared in a suit amongst a stage filled with band members, Brazilian back up singers and a world class Latin ballroom dancing duo. Really impressive production. I loved how he spoke to the crowd, sharing comical and touching background and personal stories related to the songs. This man knows exactly how to seduce his crowd into complete submission. That sparkling smile, the thick accent, those boyishly charming English grammar mistakes and his undeniably talented voice all made for a mesmerizing concert experience. So much action happening on the stage, it was like watching Cirque du Soleil, Julio style. Singing way too many songs to keep track of, some of the best being “Begin the Beguine,” Wham’s “Careless Whisper,” the Cars’ “Drive,” Willie’s “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before,” and my favorites of the evening being “Amor,” “La Carretera,” and “Me Va Me Va.” Tragically, Julio did NOT play “Moonlight Lady” much to my heartbroken horror. Such is life. Regardless, I was totally entranced and easily could have listened to two more hours of Julio’s sensually exotic voice. I only wish I had seen him play at the ginormous arenas back when he was really flying high in his heyday. Nevertheless, my crush continues while my respect soars for this incredibly gifted, legendary and prolific singer songwriter. 

The stage was as vibrant as a burlesque show. The lights, the dancers, the singers, the band and the man of the hour, Julio!

The stage was as vibrant as a burlesque show. The lights, the dancers, the singers, the band and the man of the hour, Julio!

Boston and Cheap Trick, LA Forum, July 29, 2014

Standard

I had “More Than a Feeling” that I was going to “Surrender” to some serious classic rock tonight at the wonderfully refurbished and recently reopened LA Forum in Inglewood, CA. Kudos to the team that brought this place back to life. Easily accessible, tons of on site parking and well staffed. Nice job! Now, on to the main event.
From the moment they took the stage, it is very clear that Cheap Trick still maintain their status as true veterans of rock and roll. Robin Zander, decked out in his vintage white police hat and uniform and Rick Nielsen with his crazy collection of guitars including the 5-headed monster, were simply phenomenal. High energy, spot on vocals and riffs, and just having fun … exactly what being in a legendary band is all about. They served up the audience their most tasty nuggets such as “Ain’t That a Shame,” “Dream Police,” “I Want You to Want Me,” and my personal favorites, “If You Want My Love,” and “Surrender.” We sang along and ate it all up. Every last guitar lick and lyric. Cheap Trick left us wanting more. And that’s a good thing after forty years of making music.

Boston is another band that I grew up listening to. So many memories of high school parties with this band blasting in the background. Oh the good old days. This hard rocking melodic group that I’ve been waiting to see for many years definitely did not disappoint! They sound just as good as I had hoped. I know that some people feel Brad Delp can never truly be replaced as lead singer, however long-time fan Tommy DeCarlo’s heartfelt passion for Boston backed with his impressive set of pipes and mixed with the über talent of founding father Tom Scholz is as close as you’ll ever get to the original sound of Boston. We were treated to the full array of this band’s greatest hits as well as a couple of tunes off their latest release. “More Than a Feeling,” “Don’t Look Back,” “Rock and Roll Band,” “Smokin’,” and “Peace of Mind” just to name a few. Boston is a group of musicians’ musicians with endless talent and they still have what it takes to deliver a show worth seeing. This was such an outstanding night of music. Another successful night of musical therapy for this concert addict!

20140730-072810-26890601.jpg

Cheap Trick is still very much on top of their game. Note the black and white checkerboard. I love them!

20140730-072810-26890031.jpg

The LA Forum is back and better than ever! This venue is a dream … easy access, plentiful parking and well staffed with friendly employees.

20140730-073204-27124676.jpg

The boys of Boston will knock your socks off!

The Wig Wam Motel: My Introduction to Route 66

Standard

 

An absolute treasure trove of hidden gems that were once bright and shiny diamonds along America's favorite highway

Route 66 roadside motel built in 1949. Fabulously creative architecture!

An absolute treasure trove of hidden gems that were once bright and shiny diamonds along America's favorite highway

An absolute treasure trove of hidden gems that were once bright and shiny diamonds along America’s favorite highway.

 

 

The Wig Wam Motel is quite a sight! Resembles a Native American community smack in the middle of old town Americana.

The Wig Wam Motel is quite a sight! Resembles a Native American community smack in the middle of old town Americana.

 

19 individual teepees make up this kitschy Route 66 Motel

19 individual teepees make up this kitschy Route 66 Motel.

Another concert, another city, and so it began … my introduction to Route 66. Headed out to San Bernardino to FINALLY experience Senor Julio Iglesias live in concert! I chose the Wig Wam Motel based on reviews, for its historic status and charm. This dog-friendly motel is a true gem of the road, a real blast from the past. This would be my home base for a weekend of roadside research. They gave the option of staying an additional night upon check-in. What a perfectly campy little compound. Nicely manicured and lush lawn. Nineteen individual teepees standing loud and proud for all to see since 1949.  A small pool area and further back is an open lot that apparently was at one time filled with orange trees. What a find! The prices are unbelievably inexpensive, though they do tend to fill up fast with so few rooms. Got settled in to our teepee. Miniature antique bathroom, small sitting room and a double bed. Very cute! Elliott rolled and played in the grass and then we lounged by the pool for a bit. Just a lovely afternoon in the hot dry sun. Left little furry man at the teepee and drove over to the San Manuel Indian Bingo & Casino to listen to the ultimate Latin Lover, Julio! Fantastic concert, slightly strange crowd, slightly weird vibe in the area in general. Sidenote: San Bernardino from first glance is an incredibly depressed area with a lot of poverty. While driving around looking for Route 66 sights I saw people literally roaming in the middle of the street, countless closed businesses, abandoned houses and even one house that had BURNED DOWN and was left there to continue to rot. There is a relatively prominent “druggy”/tweeker vibe in this town. Such a shame.

But I digress … Julio looked and sounded MUY CALIENTE! Please see my review of the show for more details. Returned to the Wig Wam and jumped in bed for a good night of shut-eye before a full day of exploring ahead. Around 4am … I was jolted awake by … A KNOCK AT THE DOOR? I wasn’t even sure I heard what I thought I heard. I looked at Elliott. He was sitting straight up and we were just looking at each other like … what was that? A few seconds later…ANOTHER KNOCK?! This time somewhere along the wall of the wig wam. Elliott started barking like a maniac. He brought it with a German Shepherd style bark, which was impressive for a 12-pound Yorkie. I was FREAKING OUT. Do I call the cops? What could I use as a weapon? I finally reached for my cell phone and called the front desk. The man who answered did not seem fazed even one tiny bit by my call and said he would come take a look around the outside of my teepee. A few minutes later he rang the room and said he didn’t see anything and he was “sure” it was fine. Needless to say, Elliott and I were SCARED. I basically didn’t MOVE, BLINK or SLEEP until the sun came up a few hours later. Sheesh! So much for a restful night at the Wig Wam Motel. Needless to say, I lost any desire to stick around for a second night. Upon checkout an older woman, presumably the owner, asked me how my stay was and I said, “well other than having a stranger repeatedly knock at my door at 4 in the morning, it was fine.” TO WHICH SHE ANSWERED “oh, that’s good.” Whoa. Ummmm … while I would absolutely love to give two thumbs up to The Wig Wam Motel in San Bernardino, I honestly cannot in good faith do such a thing. Cool, historic and vintage feel, but a few too many shifty characters roaming the streets to really enjoy our stay. Thankfully I didn’t lose any steam on my quest for historic Route 66 sites…stay tuned!

Barry Manilow, Greek Theatre, June 16, 2013

Standard
A night of sing alongs with the one and only Barry Manilow at Hollywood's Greek Theatre.

A night of sing alongs with the one and only Barry Manilow at Hollywood’s Greek Theatre.

No matter how old or young you are, everyone knows Barry Manilow. And there isn’t any better way to reminisce through his songbook of heartfelt ballads than to sing along with 6,000 other people who feel the same way you do. “Somewhere in the Night,” “Looks Like We Made It,” “I Can’t Smile Without You,” “Copacabana,” “Mandy” and on and on and on. What made this night even more special was that Barry was celebrating his 70th Birthday. 70! He sounds incredible and still has the energy of a 30 year old on stage. So gracious, good natured and chatty with his audience, the show was sensational! He is a true performer in every sense of the word. I’m not sure if it was the wine or Barry, but I left the concert feeling very warm and happy inside. A pure feel-good show. Loved it!

Kenny G, Anaheim Grove, July 7, 2013

Standard

 

Smooth jazz saxophonist Kenny G at the Anaheim Grove

Smooth jazz saxophonist Kenny G at the Anaheim Grove

Laugh if you will, but Kenny G’s music could calm even the most angry beast out there. Beautiful lullabies comfort your ears and ease your nerves as all the stress just melts away. Every single song is a mini-meditation session. “Songbird”, “Silhouette”, “Going Home”, “By the Time This Night is Over”, “Don’t Make Me Wait for Love”, as well as his touching rendition of “What a Wonderful World. You cannot deny this man’s supreme talent on the soprano saxophone. He creates a soothing and peaceful atmosphere for his listeners and let’s face it, we could all use a break from the pressures of daily life. The Anaheim Grove is a really nice venue in a good area and a decent, well-behaved crowd. By today’s standards it would be considered “cozy” at 1700 maximum capacity. Every seat is a good one and the sound system is exceptional. Plenty of easily accessible parking, as long as there isn’t a game at the Anaheim Stadium at the same time. A truly enjoyable evening.

Sergio Mendes and Herb Alpert, Hollywood Bowl, July 17, 2013

Standard
Fabulous night of jazz at the Bowl. Herb Alpert blew me away.

Fabulous night of jazz at the Bowl. Herb Alpert blew me away.

What could be better than a warm summer night at the Hollywood Bowl, listening to Jazz great and trumpet master Herb Alpert followed by Brazilian legend Sergio Mendes. It was a sheer eargasmic experience. I have enjoyed listening to Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass Band since I was a very little girl riding around in the car with my Dad whistling along to playful hits such as “Whipped Cream”, “Taste of Honey”, “Zorba the Greek”, “Tijuana Taxi”, “Spanish Flea”, and one of my all time favorite love songs ever “This Guy’s in Love with You”. Herb Alpert had been on my Must See list for a very very long time and I finally got to treat myself to his mind blowing talent. He and wife Lani Hall are a musical match made in heaven. Their version of “Puttin’ on the Ritz” was too cool for school. Made me want to run out and take modern dance lessons. His entire set was pure gold.

To top off an already perfect evening, Sergio Mendes took the stage and the magic continued as the sensual Bossa nova sounds enveloped the crowd. “The Look of Love” and “Mas Que Nada” wowed the crowd as Lani Hall stepped in and reclaimed her role as lead vocalist for the band as she sang “The Fool on the Hill” and other hits. Such a world class talented performer.

Definitely an A+ night at the Bowl. Just remember, it gets chilly at the Bowl, regardless of how warm it is during the day, traffic is a guaranteed nightmare and your parking options are basically either stacked parking lots or Park n’ Ride busses. Once you come to terms with the slightly messy logistics, you can relax and enjoy the splendor of the Hollywood Bowl.

Stagecoach Music Fest April 2013, Indio, CA

Standard
A massive 3-day country music bash under the blazing hot desert sun in Indio, CA.  Yee haw!

A massive 3-day country music bash under the blazing hot desert sun in Indio, CA.
Yee haw!

Starting from the very beginning of my Los Angeles adventure was the Stagecoach Music Fest 2013. Imagine 50,000 of your closest country music loving friends gathering together in the desert of Indio, California to frolic under the blue skies and fiery hot sun while two-stepping the days and nights away to an endless list of legends in the Country Music world. Some of my favorites were Toby Keith, Thompson Square, Trace Adkins, Zac Brown Band, Don Williams, Dwight Yoakam, Hank Williams Jr, Lady Antebellum, Lonestar, Charlie Daniels Band, Charley Pride, Darius Rucker and Dierks Bentley. UN-believable! The key to survival is to douse yourself in sunblock and drown yourself in water, staying far far away from alcohol. Booze + 113 degree heat = serious trouble. Food and retail vendors galore. Misting spray machines, water fountains and random water gun angels throughout the field. A rare patch of shade. Spectacular people watching. Prepare to sweat a LOT and be covered in dirt. An impressively well behaved crowd as compared to Coachella where everyone is drugged out of their skulls. For someone who is there to fully enjoy the live music I would say, pace yourself and plan carefully according to lineup schedules. Note to those interested in attending, advance sale tickets are available as early as June for the following year and you better reserve a hotel room as soon as possible unless you have desert connections or want to sleep in your car. Yes, I’m a bit of a concert freak but it was a totally outstanding festival of live country western music and I had a blast!