Visiting Santa Barbara

BEHIND THE SCENES Entertainment Reviews

by Christopher Walker

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Philadelphia was definitely in the house for Daryl Hall and the Daryl's House Band with special guest Todd Rundgren at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inducteesmet during their hometown’s flourishing music scene in the late ‘60s to early ‘70s, and Rundgren produced Hall & Oates’ 1974 untypical hard-edged War Babies album. Afterwards, the duo returned to their successful “blue eyed” soul. Rundgren continued as a versatile artist, producer and engineer to amass an impressive body of work solely, with his band Utopia, and collectively with artists such as the Band, Meatloaf, Patti Smith, the Tubes and XTC.
A crowd of mostly baby-boomers reveled as Hall showcased a mixture of H&O hits and lesser-known songs from his solo projects. The format, without guest artists, was similar to his popular internet show Live from Daryl's House that debuted in 2007 and his restaurant/performance space, north of New York City, established in 2014.

Without Oates and backed by a hard driving band, Hall was not as soulful sounding for classics “Out of Touch” and “Say It Isn't So.” His R&B roots shined brightly for “I’m in a Philly Mood” and church organ laden “Everytime You Go Away.” He masterfully kept the audience in the clouds with “Sara Smile” and “I Can't Go for That” as everyone sang along and danced. Referring to his web show, Hall spotlighted songs he performed with his guests, such as prog-rock styled “Babs and Babs” with Robert Fripp, and poppy “Here Comes the Rain Again” with the Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart. Rundgren who opened, joined Hall for encore songs, H&O’s “Wait for Me” and “You Make My Dreams,” his own “Can We Still Be Friends” and the Delfonics’ (also from Philly) “Didn’t I.” For more info go to: darylhall.com, www.todd-rundgren.com and www.broadwayinhollywood.com

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Rita Coolidge

“The Delta Lady” in the late ‘60s and the ‘70s did superb backup singing for classic rockers Delaney & Bonnie and Joe Cocker’s “Mad Dogs & Englishmen” celebrated tours. Additionally, she worked on Eric Clapton, Leon Russell and Stephen Stills’ sessions.  Afterwards she became a solo artist and also recorded duet albums with her then husband Kris Kristopperson. In the ’80, ‘90s and early 2000’s she recorded albums in a variety of genres, and explored her Native American heritage with sister Priscilla.  Excluding a Christmas CD in 2012, Safe in The Arms of Time is her first recording in 13 years.

At the Troubadour with a sold-out mixture of fans, friends, Blue Élan Records label mates and music industry people, the two-time Grammy winner and now author had a CD release party. While telling stories, Coolidge began with hit “We’re All Alone” by Boz Scaggs, shifted to contemporary jazz “Late Again” by Kristopperson, and sang ballad “Superstar” about Clapton. From the new record special guest Keb’ Mo’ played slide guitar and sang backup for “Walking on Water,” and guitarist David Grissom was featured on country/gospel flavored “Satisfied.” Wrapping up the comeback show was R&B hit “Higher And Higher.”   

On Your Feet! The Emilio & Gloria Estefan Broadway Musical is currently on tour. It will be at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre through July 29th, 2018 and is must-see event with something for everyone, especially those who love Latin music. The musical chronicles Gloria (Fajardo) Estefan and mainly her relationship with Emilio before and after their musical connection, marriage and hits, with a few bumps on the celebrated path. Also incorporated into the storyline are the singer’s sometime turbulent interactions with her mother and memories of her father who was a soldier/bodyguard for Cuban president Fulgencio Batista before he fled Cuba after Fidel Casto’s 1959 coup. 

Prior to the advent of the Estefan’s’ band The Latin Sound Machine, Latin pop, rock and disco music were strictly relegated to Spanish speaking audiences, except for Carlos Santana a riveting rocker with some jazz explorations. The Estefans changed all that with the 1985 mega hit “Conga” and the following decade Gloria shifted to the Adult Contemporary category and Emillo became an Executive for Sony Records. Through it all the couple have won numerous Grammys and Latin Grammys, and along with many other awards they have become an extremely influential and powerful musical force.

Opening Night Celebration Video July 10th at Hollywood Pantages Theatre and After Party at Avalon Hollywood:
https://spaces.hightail.com/receive/sGM8tJR71J
Pantages Theatre • 6233 Hollywood Blvd • Los Angeles, CA 90028
pantagestheatre.net • 323 468-1770

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ERIC JOHNSON

During 2017 guitarist/singer Eric Johnson released EJ a collection of 13 acoustic guitar and piano songs, mostly originals, while also covering Paul Simon, Jimi Hendrix and Eugene Lockhart tunes. Since then the Austin, Texas-based musician has toured to support the recording. Johnson a very soft-spoken and somewhat withdrawn person seems well suited for acoustic music, instead of the hard hitting, blues and fusion wailing he is known for.

At The Rose in Pasadena he played a tantalizing mix of country, blues and rock that sounded somewhat like Chet Atkins (one of his influences), Mark Knopfler and John Renbourn to display crafty fretwork. Not on EJ were nonchalant vocals for  “Gift of Love” “Debonair” and “If I Do” featuring zesty guitar. In fact, Johnson’s playing alone thoroughly dazzled the audience and increased when he played Led Zeppelin’s acoustic classic “Black Mountain Side,” and Simon and Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson.”

On piano the guitarist/singer played moody, somewhat jazzy instrumental “Song For The End,” with more of an optimistic outlook “Over The Moon” with vocals and the same for “Nothing Shall Keep Me From You.” Johnson finished the show back on guitar with several encores and a burst of electric guitar as a bonus.

Seven Decades equates to a lot music from the British folk/rock/prog band Jethro Tull, headed by singer/songwriter/flautist Ian Anderson. When the band formed in the mid ‘60s Anderson played guitar and sang. After the musicians decided to name the band after an 18th century English farmer/inventor, Anderson introduced flute to their sound and most importantly to their identity. A few other groups during that celebrated era, such as Traffic, theBeatles, Rolling Stones and John Mayall, along with Californians, the Beach Boys and Canned Heatfeatured flute in songs as well. However, Jethro Tull’s unique intermeshing of blues, English folk, hard rock, classical and prog rock set them apart, and remains an appealing element. Additionally, Anderson is a charismatic performer, who dons ravaged clothing, and often dramatically plays and sings complex/arcane lyrics on one leg. Needless to say, the band’s live performances became legendary, while the recordings, especially during the ‘70s and ‘90s were top sellers. 

At the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, a multi-generational audience, spanning old hippies, their children and new discoverers were treated to selected songs from Jethro Tull’s colossal 30+ recording catalogue. As would be expected, Anderson and clan mostly stuck to their hits, along with a few esoteric and political songs. Among them were “We Used to Know” (Anderson claimed the Eagles stole its chord structure for Hotel California), “Hunt by Numbers” a tribute to cats, Xmas classical styled “Holly Herald,” new “Hammer on Hammer” warned of Putin’s quest for world dominance, and eminent domain focused “Farm on the Freeway.” Lightening things up was the flute soaring 1969 classical/rock instrumental “Bourrée in E minor,” and prog mega hits “Aqualung,” and encore “Locomotive Breath.” Greatly accentuating the concert was the technical crew’s spot-on synching of videos for every song. For more info go to: jethrotull.com and www.lagreektheatre.com