Long Live the Lemmy… The Sunset Strip, and Rock n’ Roll 

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The metal community world wide has been in mourning since the loss of rock icon Lemmy “Motörhead” Kilmister, who passed away at the age of 70 on December 28,2015 shortly after a terminal medical diagnosis.  Metal fans from around the globe began paying their respects, sharing stories, sending thoughts and prayers and even petitioned for a statue of Lemmy to be erected at his favorite watering hole and home away from home, the world famous Rainbow Bar & Grill. After such an enormous and passionate response to his passing, not only will that statue indeed be commissioned to be built and displayed at The Rainbow, but it was decided that the bar would host a 12-hour memorial for Lemmy on Saturday January 9, 2016 in honor of this rock legend. Admittedly, I am not a giant Motörhead fan, but as a former rocker chic and lover of all music, knew this was an event not to be missed. After leaving the comedy club in Hermosa last night (with a guest appearance by Arsenio Hall! Woot woot!) I headed out for Hollywood, naively thinking I would stop in for a drink and see if any rock stars showed up for the cause. As I approached The Strip, I couldn’t help but laugh at my ignorance and GROSS UNDERestimation of the magnitude of this event. The Sunset Strip was on FIRE last night. I am betting you they haven’t seen crowds like this in 20+ years. PACKED TO THE GILLS. It was AWESOME. As if Metalheads had taken over the world…or at least West Hollywood for a night. Fuckin cool, man.  Rockers of all varieties, sizes, shapes, get ups and ages jammed the sidewalks for blocks. Traffic was bumper to bumper (think Las Vegas), I am not kidding you. The line outside The Rainbow was at least 500 people long. More long haired dudes, black leather jackets and smokers than I have seen in many many moons.  Unbelievably impressive turnout. I just shook my head and laughed at myself for thinking I would just “pop in” and see who was there.  

  
The clubs of The Strip all joined in for a night of Lemmy love and madness where hoards of people loitered outside The Rainbow, The Roxy, The Whiskey and The Viper Room where, knowing I would not get in to the Rainbow anytime soon, I got in line. Little did I know just what I was in for. A magically short wait and $40 later I made my way in to the dark, steamy and overcrowded room where we all stood shoulder to shoulder and rocked out with our devil horns (and iPhones) to the BAE All Star Band. Ahhhh just like the old days when weekends on The Strip was THE place to be.   

 This mega band and their special guests blew the crowd away. Picture Steve Stevens (Billy Idol, Vince Neil),  Billy Morrison (Camp Freddy, The Cult, Billy Idol), Billy Sheehan (Mr Big), Simon Phillips (Judas Priest), Chris Chaney (Jane’s Addiction), Brett Scallions (Fuel), and Fred Durst (Limp Bizkit) all on one stage doing what they do best. You gotta love live rock n’ roll. There’s nothing else quite like it. 

   
    
 Playing everything from Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell,” and “Dancing with Myself,” to David Bowie’s “Suffragette City,” to Van Halen’s “Girl You Really Got Me,” to a mind blowing version of Motörhead’s piece de resistance  “Ace of Spades”. No matter where we all are now in life, or where/how/if we have drifted away from the rock star lives we once lead, we all came together last night to raise our glasses to Lemmy (thanks again to The Rainbow for creating this event), the man who personified the concept of sex, drugs and rock and roll, and toast what is and always will be forever in our hearts… The undying love for rock n’ roll. Lemmy may have passed on, but his music and the legend that he left behind will live on forever. What. A. Night! 

 

The Good ol’ Boys of The Marshall Tucker Band 

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Doug Gray and the members of The Marshall Tucker band just want you to get down have a good time at their show. And that I did. The stars  aligned as I was finally able to catch them live last night at The Canyon Club in Agoura Hills. I’m really digging that venue after 4 or 5 shows. Yes, it’s a bit of a hike up the 101 but they get some super cool bands, offer plentiful free parking, awesome sound system and generally super laid back, fun-loving crowds. I feel like I’m on a field trip out in the country somewhere every time I drive down the dark, winding road approaching this place. They offer dinner seating at most shows, but realistically speaking, it would be a virtual impossibility to get there by 7pm, so I just opt for the standing room only tickets and aim to get there by 9pm to allow traffic to die down a bit. Where there’s a will, there’s a way! 

Since 1972, Doug Gray and a myriad of others have been making music. And not just any music, but soulful, bluesy, jazzy, Southern-fried rock music. After hitting all time professional highs, as well as sustaining the tragic loss of Tommy Caldwell in 1980, The Marshall Tucker Band is still kicking and they are here to entertain you. 

Opening the show with his deep southern drawl, Doug Gray says,  “Let’s get on down to it,” and I knew we were in for a treat. 

  
Their sound is so deliciously 70’s. The guitars, bass, drums, the FLUTE, ohhhh the amazing flute. Being a flute player myself, I was always a fan of the brilliant use of a flute in a rock band. And can this guy, Marcus James Henderson play a flute or what? As well as the saxophone, keyboards and outta sight vocals as well! And how can you NOT love any band whose lead singer plays the tambourine? The whole band jams and sings and are clearly loving what they do, and even said so… “We’re not afraid to stand up here and have a good time.” And you believe it too! You can just feel the good vibrations.

Playing hit after hit,  “Dog Eat Dog World,” “Take the Highway,” “Fire on the Mountain”. The crowd sang and cheered along. A quick side  note about the audiences at The Canyon Club, a bit older than the LA crowds, with a few bikers and cowboys thrown in the mix. Just another reason why I know I’m not in LA proper anymore. Love it!

  
“Desert Skies” resonated like a lonely cowboy singing beside the campfire. So so good. Gray explained it was from 1974, an classic country song while traveling around in an old dodge van. A new favorite of mine! 

“Heard it in a Love Song,” I recognized it in a millisecond. God I love that song! The PERFECT country roadtrip tune, with just a hint of a beers on a beach in Mexico. 

As the crowd hollered and begged for more, they left on a high note with a sincere, “Thank you very much for keeping us around all these years,” and broke into “Can’t You See.” Now this is a band worth seeing over and over again. Talent, showmanship, grace, good times and great music… Now that’s what I call a show! 

Dwight Yoakam & Eric Church: Dwight Ruled the Night

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Eric Church may have been the headlining act at LA’s Staples Center on January 23, but Dwight Yoakam roped that baby calf with undeniable ease and rode away with the trophy. Regardless of the fact that today’s youth seem to view anyone over 40 as completely insignificant, Dwight has been honing his craft over the past 30 years, which yields a powerful performance highlighted by an understated confidence, knowing that he doesn’t have to prove a damn thing to anybody. He’s been there, done that and he just wants to play his music for you. Oh and do a little boot scootin’ and twistin’ here and there in those oh so well fitting tight jeans of his.

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Dwight has deservedly earned his title of reigning king of contemporary Honky Tonk music. With 21 albums under his belt, 12 of which are Gold, and a staggering 25 million records sold, this wrangler ain’t no one-hit wonder. Outfitted in a sequined jacket and his signature low-riding, wide-brimmed cowboy hat, Dwight simply sparkles inside and out. He has that one of a kind appeal that youth or money just can’t buy.

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Although his set was sadly shorter than I had hoped, he gifted us with his iconic “Little Sister,” a beefy rendition of the Johnny Cash hit “Ring of Fire,” his twang filled “Honky Tonk Man,” yodel-icious “Little Ways,” the always crowd pleasing “Guitars, Cadillacs,” and my personal all time favorite, “A Thousand Miles From Nowhere.” His music is raw, unfiltered and sincerely genuine. He oozes talent and he lets his hillbilly star shine for all to see. He doesn’t have to TELL YOU he’s an outlaw or a bad ass. He just IS his own unique person. Period. Love it. Love Dwight Yoakam. Always have. Always will. He put on a phenomenal show.

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Which leads me to Eric Church. I will start by saying that I saw him open for Kenny Chesney two summers ago at Angels Stadium in Anaheim and he put on a totally outstanding show. He really did, and I was a solid fan from that point forward. However, watching him headline this show nearly two year later, I couldn’t help but feel as though his bad boy attitude is somewhat contrived and unnatural. It struck me as over the top and dare I say, egomaniacal. This photograph is a perfect example of the level of self-adoration I’m speaking about.

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I struggle to connect with people anywhere who are obviously going out of their way to impress others and show everyone what an anti-establishment rebel they are. Over-self promotion tends to grate on my nerves and I was unable to escape the feeling that Eric Church purposefully makes a point to prove to his audience what a renegade bad ass he is. Frankly, I find that kind of attitude to be yawn-worthy and quickly lost interest in the show. Undoubtedly, he has his own style and is a talented singer and played some of his cooler songs like “Talladega,” a banjo-pickin’ “Give Me Back My Hometown,” “Creepin,” and a far out version of a “Bruce Springsteen/I’m on Fire” mix, I can’t help but be a little turned off by his seemingly obsessive self-love.

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I dig his music, and I honestly hope that Eric Church will grow out of this phase and into a more unpretentious and humble performer as he progresses in age and experience. With all that being said, this is just my two cents worth. You can take it or you can leave it. Music is my passion and being the passionate and animated individual that I am, I like to call the shots as I see and feel them. Nothing more. Nothing less. And on that note… Happy trails to you, until we meet again.

Penn and Teller: A Night of Mind Bending Fun and Magic in Las Vegas

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When I told people I was going to see Penn and Teller last Saturday night at the Rio in Las Vegas most were very positive saying I would have a great time. Of course, as always, there are the weirdos and haters out there who will tell you why they don’t make the cut or how this trick was fake and that one was fixed. Come on people, lighten up… this is a fantastic show! It is what it is. Entertainment, humor, wit, mind benders, jokes, and some super cool illusions and tricks.

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I LOVED all the audience involvement and never knew what was going to happen next. What about the CELL FISH? Or Teller inside the helium balloon? I totally lucked out and was chosen to be a part of one of the tricks and I was SO PSYCHED. And I am NOT a “plant”, I assure you. My friend and I were completely absorbed and having a blast.
What a pair these two guys are and they sure know how to keep a crowd engaged for their 90-minute show. They have been performing together as business partners since the late 1970’s and their on stage presence is very well orchestrated. While Penn is the host and raconteur, Teller “speaks” volumes in an almost mime-like fashion. Brilliant! How about Teller the Little Teapot? That was ADORABLE and HILARIOUS! Sawing the girl in half was totally scream-worthy and the bullet act was even better through binoculars!  I am not a fan of trying to ruin the fun by figuring out the tricks. Don’t ruin your own night by being one of those people. Just go with the flow, enjoy dinner before the show and have a cocktail or two (we ate dinner at the Royal India Bistro inside the Rio and it was DELICIOUS!), then watch Penn and Teller put on a sensational show and enjoy your evening! They aim to amuse you and they do a damn good job of it!

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How many performers are cool enough to come out after the show and host a meet and greet selfie party for every single person who wants one? Every single person?? I am really pleased that their network show “Fool Us,” has brought about a resurgence of interest in them and magic as well. And now of course, next time I’m near Hollylwood Boulevard, I will be searching for their well deserved star on the Walk of Fame!
I would DEFINITELY recommend seeing this show and would see it again without hesitation!

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Saturday Night Special: Dave Grohl’s RocknRoll Birthday Bash

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A few days ago all was abuzz online about a special announcement of a last minute show the Foo Fighters were putting on Saturday night at the Forum in Los Angeles to celebrate Dave Grohl’s upcoming 46th Birthday. Tickets were all set at the fair (!!) price of $50 with $10 from each ticket going to charity…Impressive! They were set to go on sale that night at 7pm….and I was gonna try like hell to score one.

As per the usual Ticketmaster clusterfuck whenever something big goes on sale, I got repeated error and “sold out” messages but kept trying. And….I got one!! 1st level off the floor, 5th row up. Yes!!
It was a rainy Saturday in LA, so needless to say, the traffic to get into the parking lots was a nightmare. I was hoping and counting on the show starting late. Got to my seat about 8:15 and was ready for a night of the Foo Fighters.
The band came out about 8:30 to wild applause and excitement. Dave welcomed us and explained that because it was HIS Birthday show, he had invited some special friends and guests to help him celebrate. He warned us that we were going to be there for a while. Sounds good to me!
Turned out to be a Who’s Who in Rock concert. What a party!

For the next 3 1/2 hours, we were surprised and entertained over and over again in addition to a killer Foo Fighter concert of old and new hits, some of my faves being “Hero,” “Everlong,” “Monkey Wrench,” and “The Best of You.” This year marks their 20th anniversary and I will always hold such fond memories of the early days of their career. The Foo Fighters are just really cool guys who happen to be spectacular musicians. It would be impossible not to like them. And in between their sets and Dave chatting with the crowd just like we were hanging out at his house, we were graced with sooooo many awesome and memorable guest appearances. I would almost hold my breath each time Dave would announce his next “special friend”. SO COOL!

In order of appearance:
**Paul Stanley of K. I. S. S.
He sang a hard edged, guitar heavy “Detroit Rock City” that was deliciously crunchy. Sounded damn good and he isn’t looking too bad either.
**Jack Black & John from Tenacious D along with SLASH from Guns N Roses joined in to sing Happy Birthday to Dave in Jack Black fashion, then burying him in a shower of brightly colored balloons. AWESOME.

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Followed by a full on Jack Black version of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song.” TOO MUCH! Loved it! Dancing and gyrating on stage. Punctuating his vibrato. He is one talented nut! Omg he cracks me up!!
**Alice Cooper came out, cool as a cucumber, and had the crowd reminiscing about the last day of school each Spring while singing along with “School’s Out”. Rock on!! I’ve always heard good things about Alice Cooper as a person and we all know what an intelligent individual he is. Who would have thought all of that coolness was hidden behind the makeup all those years ago? Only one thing was missing tonight… the snake.
**Nick Oliveri from Queens of the Stone Age graciously entered, giving Dave a big Birthday hug, and belted out “Two Headed Dog” like no one else could possibly do. His voice is like no other, but I was secretly hoping Josh Homme would make an appearance!
**And then came Zakk Wylde from Black Label Society…this dude isn’t fucking around. He is HARD CORE. Channeling Ozzy circa 1970 as he knocked us on our asses singing “N.I.B.” As Dave Grohl said, Zakk Wylde is one Bad Mother Fucker. And he’s not kidding.
** The one and only Perry Farrell of Jane’s Addiction who was looking extremely dashing as he skipped around the stage singing “Coming Down The Mountain,” and playfully stumbled through his part of the lyrics to Rolling Stones’ “Miss You.” Hey, give him a break, they had like two days to prepare and Taylor didn’t know his part either. Haha! But we all whistled/sung along with the chorus anyway. It was all in good fun.

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During a Foo Fighter segment Dave Grohl wanted to see everyone’s cell phone lights. The audience complied immediately and virtually lit up the venue. He then told everyone to turn them off and BAM! Just like that…lights out. He even had us repeat the pattern…just because. Can you imagine wielding that kind of power? Even if just for a second. Mind boggling.

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But I digress…back to the list of special guests and friends.
**Trombone Shorty comes out and starts a jam session competition with Dave. Trombone vs Guitar. Oh my God. That guy is the most insane horn player I’ve ever heard. INSANE.
**Dave Grohl’s Bucketlist guest was none other than….THE DAVID LEE ROTH, AKA DIAMOND DAVE. Holy shittttt!!
At this point I was out of memory on my iphone (grrrrrr….) but I was screaming my head off as he pranced around kicking and dancing while he sang “Panama” and “Ain’t Talkin ‘Bout Love.” Damn. I love Van Halen! Was David Lee Roth THE ULTIMATE Rock God of the 80’s or what?? He’s a TRIP.
LOVE HIM!!
**And last but definitely not least… Dave’s dream of playing on the same stage as Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead came true! And the almost mythical character known as Lemmy appears on stage wearing his typical Lemmy gear of western shirt, cowboy hat and skin tight jeans tucked into his bright white cowboy boots. What a sight!! He sang Chuck Berry’s tune “Let It Rock,” which ended the show on such a high note!

What a dazzling night of outstanding talent, camaraderie, and musicianship… all for the love of Foo Fighter Founding Father and all around good guy, Dave Grohl.
The Birthday celebration of a lifetime, for certain. As Dave said, it even beat out his birthday spent at Medieval Times five years ago. Hahaha!! Happy happy Birthday Dave! Keep on ROCKIN and loving life!! Thanks for the invite to a once in a lifetime birthday party! I may have lost a little more of my hearing last night, but I had a damn good time!

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Blake Shelton: God Bless This Okie!

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Blake Shelton kickin’ up dirt at the stunning Hollywood Bowl.

Blake Shelton. Women want to be with him, men want to be him. Our favorite hick from the sticks. Tall, good looking, charming, witty, down to earth and really really talented. You can’t help but like him. He’s a real country crooner…like a countrified, chicken fried version of Dean Martin. I just love this guy!

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Blake’s Ten Times Crazier Tour. Love him!

I bought my ticket for Blake’s 2014 Ten Times Crazier Tour at the Hollywood Bowl the day they went on sale. It seemed like forever ago. And before I knew it, the date was already here, October 4, 2014!

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Blake Shelton at the Hollywood Bowl!! October 4, 2014.

Unfortunately, before we were graced with Blake’s impressive presence, we had to endure to a whole lot of other music before finally getting to see the man of the hour.
Dan + Shay = awful. I know nothing about these two other than what I saw and they are pretty much Disney kids who said they want to grow up to be musicians.
They are just not good. I’m sorry. They’re just not. And country? I didn’t hear one single twang that made me think these two have anything to do with country music whatsoever. Their sound is a flat, contrived, generic teen pop version of Rascal Flatts. The highlight of their performance was their karaoke rendition of Def Leppard’s  “Pour Some Sugar on Me.” Their set was…not enjoyable for me. Well, at least now I know of the wonders of Dan + Shay.
Next…please!

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Beautiful night for some good ol’ country music at the world famous Hollywood Bowl.

On to Neal McCoy, the emcee for the evening, and a personal friend of Blake’s.
I’m not sure he’s the best singer I’ve ever heard, but he is such an amusing and outgoing entertainer. He is really funny. Cracking jokes, twerking, covering all sorts of songs and making us laugh. He was a great addition to the show. Definitely got the crowd riled up.
The Band Perry followed with a rather long set. I was past the point of feeling antsy and quite honestly growing weary of “country” bands that aren’t country. I like The Band Perry, don’t get me wrong. I think they are talented. But I have a hard time labeling them as country music? I do love their song “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely,” but when they covered Kesha and Pitbull’s song “Timber,” I ran out of patience. I’ve read articles about how country music is no longer what it used to be. And I would have to agree 100%. It’s hard to find good commercial country music anymore. Most of what’s out there is really just rock. And I like rock. I do. But not when I am wanting, expecting and paying to hear country music.

Thankfully…after 2+ hours, Blake finally took the stage. HOORAY!!! NOW THIS IS COUNTRY MUSIC. How many hits does this man have?

Blake is such an extraordinary performer and all around entertainer. He really connects with his crowd. Tells jokes and stories, sings his heartfelt country tunes with that alluring country voice of his and openly shares himself with us. It’s no wonder he has won numerous awards, has countless singles on the charts and is a repeat favorite coach on NBC’s The Voice. He playfully put on a cowboy hat complete with a mullet while making fun of his stylish look in those early days of “Austin” circa 2001.

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Blake sportin’ his cowboy hat and long locks while he sang his smash breakout hit “Austin.”

It seems as though every single he puts out is pure gold.  “She Wouldn’t Be Gone,” “Doin’ What She Likes,” “It Would Be You,” “Don’t Go Lovin’ on Nobody But Me,”  “Who Are You When I’m Not Looking,”  “It’d Sure Be Cool If You Did,” “Neon Lights,” “Drink On It,” “Home,” “Honey Bee,”  “God Gave Me You.” Hit after hit after hit. Different moods. Meaningful lyrics. Superb vocals. Downright good music. And… quite yummy to look at.

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Blake chattin’ it up with the crowd.

Sang a chilling acoustic version of his song “Over You,” that he wrote in memory of his big brother and hero Richie Shelton who tragically died in a car accident and the pain that loss has left in his heart.

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Singing “Over You,” the song he wrote in memory of his brother Richie who he lost tragically in a car accident when he was 14 years old. So touching.

Whether love songs like “Who Are you When I’m Not Looking,” or “It Would Be You,” or playful diddies like “Hillbilly Bone,” or “Some Beach,” or drinking songs like “The More I Drink, or “The Boys Round Here,”…Blake can and does sing it all.

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Blake and Gwen Sebastian sing a duet “My Eyes”.

A sensual duet of “My Eyes” with his backup singer (former contestant on The Voice, Gwen Sebastian) and an encore send off with the theme from “Footloose” to send us off with a smile. He was so gracious and appreciative of his fans. A genuinely likeable guy! What a memorable show he gave us. Blake, baby, I’ll be your Honey Bee any time!

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Yes, I wasn’t front row, but with all the giant screens I was still able to see this hunk up close!

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Sea Starry Night Jam: More from the Back Door Please!

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Me and THE ROBBY KRIEGER! Very nice guy and incredibly awesome and legendary musician.

The Sea Starry Night Jam, billed as a charity fundraising event for the Roundhouse Aquarium of Manhattan Beach Pier at the lovely oceanside Strandhouse, starring Robby Krieger of The Doors and his band Jam Kitchen with members of Frank Zappa’s band.
Good cause. Great location. And I get to hear Robby Krieger play? I’m in!
A few thoughts on the night.
It was not exactly the “gala event” I had pictured in my mind. I dressed up to the nines with matching purse and heels, yet ended up surrounded mostly by other guests wearing shorts, jeans, tshirts and flip flops. Slightly disappointing but certainly not devastating.
Two free drinks to loosen us up was a good thing. I got to socialize a bit and peruse the small silent auction items including a few Doors-related gems while sound check was taking place. The Strandhouse is a beautiful restaurant and bar located just steps from the sands of Manhattan Beach. The moon was out and the waves were crashing. I even got a quick photo op with Mr. Krieger himself. I was SO PSYCHED. This was going to be a great night!!

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The Strandhouse in Manhattan Beach was the setting for the evening’s charity event. Very cool place to be.

Unfortunately as the show unfolded, what wasn’t clicking for me was the abundance of Jam Kitchen songs, including one called “Coffin Dodger” about how Robby has outlived all the others who passed away at such early ages, namely Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Janice Joplin and others. There was a blinding lack of Doors tunes. We waited in desperate anticipation after each song, some drawn out way past what was necessary, hence the name Jam Kitchen, hoping and praying the next one would be a Doors hit. In all, I think they played maybe five Doors songs?

After opening the show with “You’re Lost Little Girl,” I was so pleased that I immediately began fantasizing and planning in my head all my favorite Doors songs they would play. They regained our attention with “Back Door Man” which got the crowd really fired up. Sensational! Can’t you just picture Jim at the mic? Rocking those tight black leather pants? Mmmm…
Oh Jim!! Why’d you have to leave us so soon??
Yet here I was, 50 years later, standing three feet away from ROBBY KRIEGER of THE DOORS watching him skillfully play these songs as if no time had passed at all. Kind of insane when you think about it really.
The music was spot on, fantastic, excellent…but the vocals were, well… a bit weak to be honest, as different people in the band chimed in at random times. Clearly and understandably, Jam Kitchen is not wanting to be known as a Doors cover band and therefore a lead singer is not necessary, though for the Doors songs they did perform, it left a bit of a hole in the sound.
No disrespect to Mr. Krieger whatsoever, but I feel I speak for the other guests that night when I say we all wanted to hear more of The Doors!
They ended the first set with “Riders On The Storm.” Such a splendidly dark and psychedelic song. The keyboardist looks like he is straight out of the 60’s. Must be from the Frank Zappa Army. He plays his keyboard like a mad scientist. Really talented dude sitting there behind his small, round dark tinted sunglasses, sporting his soul patch and wildly unkempt hair. Perfect picture. The unforgettable bass, guitar and keyboard runs. Perfect sound. I wanted to digest every single note as I would a delicacy at a five star restaurant. Delicious.

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Robby Krieger in the flesh. So talented!

The second set was mostly Jam Kitchen jams and the crowd thinned out considerably. While not really my style of music, I for one could not tear myself away for fear of missing anything else by The Doors.
We got serenaded with an interesting saxophone driven, slower version of “Love Me Two Times” and “Roadhouse Blues,” with vocals heavily aided by the remaining crowd.
I feel so honored to have been in the presence of, listened to and had a brief meet and greet with incredibly talented Robby Krieger live and in person. I am so very happy to have heard a few precious Doors songs played by THE ORIGINAL GUITARIST himself. I will not be greedy or ungrateful. Of course, I am just a little bit. While not the event that I dreamt it to be, I am oh so glad I made it.
“The men don’t know
But the little girls understand…”

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Jam Kitchen doing what they do best…jammin’.