Songs For Japan – Benefit Album

Released on iTunes on March 25, 2011, Songs For Japan features 40 tracks for $9.99 with the artists and labels waiving their royalties and fees so the proceeds can go toward relief efforts for the March 11th Japanese earthquake and tsunami.
If each song was purchased individually from iTunes it would cost nearly $40 so for a quarter of the price, you get some great music and help out a worthy cause.

Charity singles and albums have been around for a while gaining major popularity in the 80’s with We Are The World and Tears Are Not Enough to aid Famine Relief in Ethiopia. In North America we don’t seem to have an many dedicated charity singles, unlike the UK where charity singles are routinely recorded exclusively for the charity event and regularly make the charts. Artists in North America more commonly donate the proceeds from an upcoming single to a charity.
Does a charitable connection prompt you to purchase?

 

Bon Jovi – Live 2011 Tour

Bon Jovi – Rogers Arena – March 26, 2011

Bon Jovi’s latest tour “Bon Jovi Live 2011”, rocked into Vancouver for a two night stand.
Vancouver and Bon Jovi have long had a special bond, this is where they recorded their breakthrough “Slippery When Wet”, “New Jersey” and post breakup “Keep The Faith” albums, which feature some of their best loved hits.
Much to some of my friends dismay, I’ve been a big fan of Bon Jovi since high school and although some of my musical tastes have changed I’ve held on to a affinity to this band. Perhaps the fact that they have managed to evolve and stay relevant by adapting to the public’s changing moods has kept them from fading into the ‘retro’ catagory.  My friends May, Brian and I hadn’t planned on attending but just last week a super discount on behind the stage tickets prompted us to  the Jovi Bandwagon and we got tickets for the second night at Rogers Arena.  I don’t know why but I’ve never seen them live until this, I wasn’t disappointed.

Jon Bon Jovi kicks off the show amongst the fans

After a couple of over-anxious cheers due to dim lights in the arena the house lights actually went out and from our behind the stage seats we saw the band assemble on stage behind the giant video screen. As the screen parted the band jumped into action, minus Jon Bon Jovi himself. We could hear his voice but he wasn’t onstage, then we realized he was performing on his own on a mini stage amongst the fans at the opposite end of the arena. What an unexpected treat for the fans who had those seats!
At the end of that song Jon came to the main stage, crossing the floor through the crowd, to

David Bryan and Tico Torres

join bandmates Richie Sambora, David Bryan, Tico Torres, (unofficial member) Hugh McDonald and Bobby Bandiera.

Songwriter's Hall Of Fame Members - Jon Bon Jovi & Richie Sambora

Since this tour is in support of their latest Greatest Hits compilation all of the requisite hits were performed as the band took us on a trip through their catalogue of great songs. (Considering how young they all look and the energy they’re putting out it’s hard to believe they’ve been doing this for nearly 30 years!)
Even though they’ve probably performed these songs endless times over the decades they still make them sound fresh and vibrant and there is very little tinkering with the classics. This is just straight ahead rock & roll and, as the case with some of the more recent singles, a little bit country, and the audience loved it.  The crowd energy lulled for some of the lesser known singles but the setlist didn’t allow that to go on for very long as another great hit was always just around the corner.

Everyone Sings Along To Living On A Prayer!

Huge crowd participation followed the BIG songs, “You Give Love A Bad Name”, “Bad Medicine” (which featured a great interlude of the Rod Stewart classic, “Hot Legs”), “Lay Your Hands On Me”, “I’ll Be There For You”.  The encores of “Wanted: Dead Or Alive” and “Living On A Prayer” really had the crowd in a sing-along mood, nearly overpowering the band at times.  It was amazing to see such a cross section of society and ages bonding over a common love…one of the favourite moments doesn’t feature the band but a few small children who seemed so excited to be at the concert and were singing and dancing all night long (or at least until bedtime)

Jon 'reaches' out to the behind the stage fans

The amazing staging, lighting and monitors were very impressive and built to allow everyone to feel close up and included in the show.  A VIP pit was encircled by the stage, risers behind the stage allowed Jon to ‘reach’ that audience and the band even got out from behind their instruments to move out middle of the floor.

Coming out into the crowd to display their musical prowess

We all commented on how the band really connected with the audience, even those of us behind the stage were acknowledged often throughout the evening.  The attention to the fans and details might also be a reason why they had the best selling tour of 2010, with this “Live 2011” tour still in the early stages there’s a good chance they’ll have the top 2011 tour too.

Jon in a custom Canucks jersey given by a fan

CelticFest Vancouver

Coinciding with Saint Patrick’s Day the annual celebration of Celtic heritage, CelticFest Vancouver brings Celts from all country’s, not just Ireland, to downtown Vancouver. With a wide range of ticketed and free events on offer throughout the downtown core from March 16 – 20, 2011 CelticFest is Western Canada’s largest Celtic Festival.
Dozens of concerts, dances, pub & restaurant specials happen all over the city most of them are free to the public. Check out the schedule to find something nearby and of interest to you!  The Celtic Village & Street Market runs Saturday and Sunday on Granville Street with entertainment, food and vendors sharing the Celtic experience.
The Highlight of the weekend is the CelticFest Parade on Sunday March 20th.  Running from Howe & Drake Streets north to Georgia, ending at Granville & Georgia near the Celtic Village.
Even if there isn’t any Celt in you, head out and get your jig on!

Noxshi (Pronounced Knock-she)

Noxshi Mercury Lounge – March 7, 2011

Part performance art, part grunge, part psychedelic band, Noxshi are a hard to define, five piece from London. Known for their innovative and a bit off the wall live performances the band did a showcase at the famed Mercury Lounge in New York recently.
Singer Yoriyos Adamos (son of Yusef Islam aka. Cat Stevens) leads the band with a commanding stage presence.  Not to be outdone his bandmates do their damnedest to make their presence felt as they rip through the wall of sound they’re building.
If you’re in Austin at SXSW this week they are playing a showcase at The 512 on March 18th head over and check them out!

48Hrs In The Big Apple

Recently, my friend May & I had an opportunity to make a quick getaway to New York City.  After our recent daytrip to LA for The Ellen Show, she applied for a variety of other talk shows that we thought might make good excuses for excursions and adventures.  This time she got tickets to The Martha Stewart Show in NYC.  While we could have done this as a day trip too we decided that we’d stay overnight and have an extra day in the big city.
The timing of the Cathay Pacific flights from YVR to JFK are perfect for a quick getaway as being red-eyes, they maximize your time in the city.  We headed out on Sunday night at 10pm PST and arrived in NYC at a bright an early 6am local time (if you are able to sleep on the plane, which I rarely do, it’s even better).  Luckily we both have NEXUS so can speed through customs and were out on our way immediately.  Taking public transit from JFK to midtown Manhattan is easy, in less than an hour we were off the subway at Penn Station and walked the four blocks to the Fairfield Inn Manhattan/Chelsea which was super convenient located in the Flower District on the edge of Chelsea and Midtown.

Flower shops line 28th Street

  Being so early we expected to just leave our bags and then head back out to the city but happily the room was ready and they allowed us to have the complimentary breakfast too. Bonus!!
After a quick change, shower and bite we were recharged and ready to go.
This was only May’s second trip to the Big Apple and my 4th so we pooled our experiences to show each other parts of the town that we’ve found and liked. First we headed uptown to Columbus Circle and the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, the lobby lounge has one of the best views in the city. Located on the 35th floor and open to non-guests it’s a great spot to take in a (reasonably priced for NYC) refreshment and enjoy an amazing view of Central Park. 

Central Park from the Mandarin Oriental Lobby Lounge

After a pot of tea and some star spotting…Ian Somerhalder of The Vampire Diaries was having breakfast at the next table…we were back on our adventure.
Walking along Central Park towards The Plaza Hotel and Fifth Avenue, we tried for some more star spotting as Gossip Girl was filming in The Plaza but just saw a big group of extras and none of the cast. Wandering down Fifth Avenue browsing in the boutiques and shops we ended up at Rockerfeller Center, we’d both done it before

Skating Rink at Rockerfeller Centre

and we’d highly recommend visiting the Top Of The Rock and taking in the amazing views from the roof the the Center. We stopped in at the nearby branch of the famed Magnolia Bakery for some mid-morning sustenance. Then over to Times Square for the true tourist experience and the amazing hustle and bustle.  While there we checked at the box office of The Palace Theater to enquire about tickets for that evening’s preview of Priscilla Queen Of The Desert, we’d seen discounted tickets on Travelzoo and luckily the box office was able to honour the discount and save us the $9.50 Ticketmaster service fee!

Marquee at The Palace Theater

It was now midday so we thought we’d venture into a new area of town and headed downtown to the FI-DI (Financial District) to check out Wall Street,

In the Fi-Di

I’d told May a few times about Stone (Pearl) Street and what a great place it is too hang out…in the summer it’s better as the street is filled with tables and all the restaurants serve in the street. In the frigid winter everyone is indoors.
From the FI-DI it was a short walk over to Century 21 for some discount shopping, if you don’t know about it check it out next visit…it’s madness!
After a few purchases we meandered through SOHO and into the West Village for more boutique browsing and bargain purchases at Uniqlo and Marc Jacobs.  All the while on our ventures the sights, sounds and smells of the city filled our senses, people watching is a major sport in a city like New York.
While roaming the West Village a friend emailed to say he had us on the guest list to check out a band showcase at the Mercury Lounge at 7pm. Since it’s an iconic venue we jumped a the chance but it was already 5pm so we needed to hurry back to the hotel to drop off our shopping and again refresh for the rest of the evening’s adventure.  Catching a taxi to the Mercury was a classic New York moment, from standing in the street to hail it to the ‘edge of your seat’ drive through heavy traffic to the lower east side.

Noxshi at Mercury Lounge

The band Noxshi, was late coming on so we only got to catch a couple of songs of their showcase but still interesting and entertaining even in that small of a dose.
The next taxi was again a thrill ride as it raced it’s way up the east side to get to Times Square, but the driver made up twice the distance we’d gone earlier in less than half the time.
Getting to The Palace Theatre with time to spare we found our seats for Priscilla Queen Of The Desert.  Still just in previews the

Priscilla Queen of the Desert

musical, based on the 1994 movie of the same name, is an amazing spectacle: over-the-top costumes, outstanding vocals and choreography plus a big pink bus onstage…what more could you ask for?
After a great time at the show we met another friend at Junior’s in Times Square, famed for it’s cheesecake, we had to try a slice! Yum! Besides the tasty food and good company, people watching was the order of business as all walks of life cross through the Time’s Square area.
Finally after lingering at Junior’s for a couple hours we made a quick trip into Times Square for a ‘tourist’ pic under the lights

Alex, May & Jay in Times Square

 and a quick jaunt into the massive Forever 21 branch so I could get a second opinion on a jacket…shopping never sleeps either!
Back to the hotel for a little shut-eye, morning came too soon as we quickly packed up again after breakfast and then made our way a couple blocks to the Chelsea Studios for The Martha Stewart Show taping.
An incredibly organized experience (would you expect any less from Martha?!), even waiting for the show was an experience. 

Martha Stewart

Well known stand-up comic, Joey Kola, is the warm up guy and also tells us what we should expect and what’s expected of us during the show.  Quickly we are whisked into the studio where we are still able to take photographs right up until the taping starts. Martha’s celebrity guests for this live episode were Joan and Melissa Rivers, they were a fun duo for Martha to cook for/with. Other segments of the show were about Allergies and Sensitivities, featuring specialists in these fields.  After the taping we were again allowed to take pictures while Martha answered questions from the audience members. We were quite amazed at how unexpectedly interactive and accommodating Martha was to her audience. We really enjoyed the show, we’d do it again.
After the taping we roamed around the Meatpacking District,

Chelsea Market

through Chelsea Market and the East Village on the way to Union Square.  From there it was a quick subway uptown to Grand Central Terminal and again to sit and people-watch in Times Square before making our way back to the hotel to grab our bags and head out of the city to our flight home from JFK.  Overall we packed a whole lot of seeing the city into our 48hour trip, we were worn out but would probably do it again in a heart beat!

David Gray – Foundling Tour

David Gray -The Centre For Performing Arts In Vancouver – March 4, 2011

David Gray brought his tour supporting his latest album “Foundling” to Vancouver.
Before a sold out crowd at The Centre For Performing Arts he performed a 2 hour set including a selection from the new album plus a variety from his past discography.  This tour he’d put a post on his website to ask fans to write in and request songs that he would perform in this setlist.  David stated that the fans had requested 136 different songs, which shows the dedication of the David Gray fan base.
Playing with a full band the stage set up was very intimate, interpreting a lounge or sitting room, even though it was a large auditorium.  Most of the crowd sat throughout the show but that didn’t dampen the enthusiasm at the start and finish of each track. The fan in front of me screamed herself hoarse by the end of the night and the fellow beside me audibly sighed at the start of a few songs.  With just a little bit of banter from David and quite a few “I love you David” exclamations from the crowd the night was mostly about the music.   He moved nimbly between the baby grand piano, guitars, keyboard even mandolin as he performed extended arrangements of his hits.
At the end of the two hours, I’m sure most of the audience was hoping for another two hours and David seemed to have the energy to keep going to but all good things must come to an end…at least until the next tour.

Top 10 Concert Etiquette Do’s & Don’ts

As you may be aware, I attend a lot of concerts and over the years have noticed many concert-goers demonstrating a lack of respect for the other patrons and the artist by display poor concert etiquette while watching the show.

don't be a Tall Guy blocking people's view!

Before you go out to check out your next gig you might want to consider some of these pointers to make sure everyone has a good time!

1. DO temper your drinking before the band starts so you aren’t ridiculously drunk and falling down while the band plays.
2. DON’T block others behind you if you’re tall or at least don’t stand directly in front of someone shorter.
3. DO smoke pot (c’mon…this is Vancouver, we all know it happens) in the middle of the crowd, not the edges, security is less likely to hassle you.
4. DON’T carry your drink into the middle of the crowd or mosh pit…it will splash on someone, probably yourself!
5. DO pay attention to the volume of your voice if you must talk throughout the performance. Yes, the band is loud, you are still louder.
6. DON’T shout out requests or quotes from different bands/artists, remember what band you are seeing.
7. DO dance all you like and while it’s lovely and spiritual to dance as tho no one is watching…in reality we all are watching especially if you’re bouncing all over and tromping on our feet!
8.  DON’T need to travel in packs, ladies, holding hands as you push your way into and out of the crowd. It’s not the Red Sea, it will not part for you.
9. DO-udes, keep your fist pumping & high-fiving to a minimum…you may think you’re from the Jersey Shore…but really you just look like a douche!
10. DON’T be ‘that guy’ who shouts out “I LOVE YOU” “YOU ROCK”,  if the artist is trying to play a quiet acoustic tune, interrupting the intimate moment does not make you cool and no they will not love you back!