Local Rhythms – Don’t get fooled at the Super Bowl

Pete Townshend once wrote, “I hope I die before I get old.”

I won’t go that far, but I wish he’d retired, sparing me the agony of having to watch him and Roger Daltrey perform Who songs at this year’s Super Bowl halftime show.

It’s wrong on a few levels.

First, why has the Super Bowl become the venue of choice for every dinosaur rock star aching for a second look?  The game itself now seems to be just one ingredient in a bloated media stew, with every attention junkie in the world jockeying for screen time.

A better food analogy is a baked potato – fattening enough with butter and sour cream, loading it up with bacon, cheese, chili and anything else you think to chop up is overkill.

Why does this game have to be a conduit for a million other distractions? How about just 60 minutes of football and a few overpriced beer commercials?

Isn’t that enough?

There is true athletic drama on the field this year.   The city of New Orleans has never produced a world champion in professional sports, and it’s been just a few years since Hurricane Katrina. The whole world is pulling for the Saints.

The other Super Bowl team is led by Peyton Manning, one of the most gifted athletes in the world, who happens to be the son of the Saints’ former star quarterback.

How much more drama do you need?

Make no mistake – I love rock and roll as much as anyone. But what does the music of the Who have to do with any of that?  Besides, they’re English – when someone says football, Pete Townshend thinks of soccer.

In any case, the Who isn’t a band – it’s a brand name, now owned by two surviving members of the legendary group.  A case could be made that it ended when Keith Moon died in 1979; John Entwistle’s passing left no doubt.

If Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr tried to tour as the Beatles, would anyone believe them?

This whole mess began when Whitney Houston sang the National Anthem before the 1990 game and turned it into a hit record.  A few years later, Michael Jackson appeared with 3,500 kids (isn’t that ironic?) and three body doubles to sing “Heal the World.”

It’s been spinning out of control ever since. Let’s call an end to the ridiculous excess.

Just play the game – please.

On to the rest of the week:

Thursday, Feb 4: Lannen Fall, 802 Music – In a world of minimalist pop bands, Boston-based Lannen Fall bring a big sound to the stage, influenced by modern rockers like Blink-182, Fall Out Boy and A-list producer Butch Walker.  The five-piece band plays tuneful songs with memorable choruses, tight harmonies and solid instrumentation. This is a good excuse to hit an off-night show at the downtown Springfield venue.

Friday, Feb. 5: Saylyn, Salt hill Newport – Saylyn is the area’s hometown reggae band, an authentic sound that always makes me think of summer. The band is best enjoyed under the stars on a hot night, but since the elements have other plans, at least for the next few months, indoors at Newport’s most bustling nightspot will have to suffice. Fronted by two brothers born and raised in Jamaica, this band is the genuine article.

Saturday, Feb. 6: Steve Gillette & Cindy Mangsen, Plainfield Blow-Me-Down Grange – Folk music in Plainfield – what a treat.  Check out Gillette, a                terrific songwriter, performing “Darcy Farrow” on YouTube with Mangsen, and see if you don’t wonder like I did – where’s the other guitar?  When Gillette and Mangsen weave their tapestry of music, with deft playing and lovely harmonies, the result is spellbinding.

Sunday, Feb. 7: Celia Sings Sinatra, Canoe Club – The Super Bowl plays on a 91 inch high def screen in the bar, while one of the area’s most popular doppelgangers performs on the other – a pleasant schizophrenia, indeed, especially when factoring in the Chinese box effect of the game broadcast, with half of the viewers wondering how far the Go Daddy Internet ad will go and the other focused on Peyton Manning’s passes

Tuesday, Feb. 9: Open Mic, One Mile West – The Sunapee restaurant recently changed ownership, and plans to expand the music offerings are in the works.  The weekly open mic continues, hosted by a rotating crew of the Moore family, George Johnson and Steve Currier. The beer menu and the vibe of the room, covered with old concert posters, are both great.

Wednesday, Feb. 10: Jason Cann, Salt hill Pub Hanover (Grand Opening) – The Tuohy dynasty expands into downtown Hanover with a formula much like the Newport and Lebanon locations, comfort food, perfectly poured pints of Guinness and a great music lineup.  Opening night features one of the area’s best singer/songwriters – Cann, who will continue to appear every Wednesday.

This Week’s Compass

Beyond – Worth driving out of town

What: Slam Free or Die with feature poet Diane Haas

Where: Bridge Café, corner of Bridge and Elm Streets, Manchester

When: Friday, Feb 5, 7 p.m.

Tickets: $3

More: www.myspace.com/bridgepoetryopenmic

Distance: 70 Miles

There’s a growing poetry scene in New Hampshire, and not the kind that one time resident Robert Frost could have comprehended.  Every other week in downtown Manchester, poets gather to read, or rather perform, their work.  It’s slam poetry, where words and attitude receive equal emphasis.  This is also competitive verse – each month, poets vie for a chance to attend the national slam poetry event, to be held this August in St. Paul, Minnesota.

This week features a Valentine-themed erotic poetry open microphone, capped by a feature reading by Diane Haas, whose appearances are equal parts poetry, burlesque and rock show.  Haas is building a big regional buzz for her often-provocative work – double entendre laced poems like “Honey,” “Not the Girl Next Door” and “Jessica Rabbit.”  The Derry poet is a Lady Gaga of verse, too – wearing outfits to match her R-rated words. The Bridge Café is an intimate venue, so patrons are encouraged to arrive early – it fills up fast.

Players – Local Music Spotlight

Who:  Last Kid Picked

What:  Covers, with an emphasis on modern rock

Sounds Like: Third Eye Blind, Matchbox 20, Goo Goo Dolls

More: www.lastkidpicked.com

You have to love a band that owes its existence to a Warren Zevon song.  On Halloween night 1996, they played first show, performing as the Werewolves of London. The following year, the band became Last Kid Picked, building a steady following with a set list of classic and modern rock songs. In late summer 1997 they had a big night opening for Mountain and Blue Oyster Cult.

The band has had a few lineup changes over the years; original members Mark & Deb Bond met and married while in the band; Carey Lee Rush was also a founding member.  Last Kid Picked front man John DeGange is a LKP constant, bespectacled and given to occasional rubber chicken stunts.  Their set list ranges from Aerosmith to Buckcherry, with an odd Neil Diamond or Dixie Chicks song tossed in to mix things up.

The band’s crowd-pleasing antics make their annual hometown Halloween party at the Newport Opera House a certain sellout, and they have been the feature band at Winter Carnival for several years running.  Current band members include DeGange on lead vocals, guitar and harmonica, Kyle Flewelling playing drums, Jason Ricci on guitar and vocals and bass player Mike Sherman.

Upcoming gigs are:

Friday, Feb. 5 at Electra Nightclub in West Lebanon

Saturday, Feb. 6 at the Derryfield in Manchester

Saturday, Feb. 13 at Newport Winter Carnival

Saturday, Feb. 20 at the Rusty Nail in Stowe, VT

Horizon – Mark your calendar

What: Mike Gordon

Where: Lebanon Opera House, 51 North Park St. in Lebanon

When: Sunday, March 14 at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets: $35/$25

More: 448-0400 or go to www.lebanonoperahouse.org

After a concluding a massive reunion tour, Phish bass player Mike Gordon embarks on a brief 8-date swing through the Northeast that includes a rare Lebanon appearance.  Gordon’s solo projects have been quite eclectic – a pair of duet albums with acoustic guitar virtuoso Leo Kottke, and a tour with the jazz-fusion Benevento/Russo Duo which yielded a 2-disc live set containing a few significantly rearranged Phish songs.

He also played for a while with the Dead spin-off Rhythm Devils; typically, when Gordon strikes out on his own, it’s a left turn into uncharted territory.

But Gordon’s Lebanon show will likely draw from his most recent release, The Green Sparrow.  The 2008 album is a more straightforward affair, with funk, groove and jam elements, along with guest help from Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann, Chuck Leavell (Allman Brothers, Rolling Stones), Ivan Neville and fellow Phish member Trey Anastasio.

Gordon’s band includes Max Creek guitarist Scott Murawski, jazz drummer Todd Isler, UVM teacher and pianist Tom Cleary and percussionist Craig Myers.

Today’s Hippo – Marky Ramone coming to Tupelo Hall

Marky Ramone wasn’t the first drummer of the seminal punk rock band the Ramones, but he played a key role in the early New York City music scene prior to joining them in 1978. The former Mark Bell, who changed his last name to replace Tommy Ramone, made his first record with the proto-metal band Dust while he was still in high school.

“I was going on 16,” the drummer said recently from his home in Brooklyn. “We could play on the weekends but we couldn’t tour … my parents wanted the diploma on the wall, ya know. I mean, education is important.”

After graduation, Marky dove into to emerging punk milieu. “I started hanging out at CBGB, and that’s where I met Wayne County, Richard Hell, Dee Dee Ramone, Joey Ramone, Debbie Harry. I auditioned for the New York Dolls.”

After a stint in County’s band, Marky joined Richard Hell and the Voidoids in 1976, playing drums on the band’s first EP, which included “Blank Generation.” The song eventually made the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s “500 most influential” list.

Read more…

Today’s Hippo – Not your father’s poetry

Friday night, Feb. 5, the Bridge Café in downtown Manchester will be a destination of choice for playful romantics seeking an early Valentine’s Day mojo, at an evening of erotic poetry along with Slam Free or Die’s regular slam poetry competition.

Poet Diane Haas will round out the relatively packed night with a feature reading of her often-provocative work.

Read more…