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Monday, February 18, 2013

Bill Medley- The Righteous Brothers

The Stiefel Theatre
Salina, KS
© Lydia Lowe 2013
Bill Medley of The Righteous Brothers
Bill Medley of The Righteous Brothers . . .performed at The Stiefel Theatre this past Sunday night and what a treat!  The beginning of the show featured a video reel of clips from Medley's career, hitting all the high points.  The band took the stage while we all watched the video and at the end of the video, Medley came on stage to open the show with A Song For You.
McKenna Medley, Bill Medley's daughter
The hits just kept coming from that point on.  A number one hit, (You're My) Soul and Heart's Inspiration, Rock and Roll Heaven and no Righteous Brothers concert would be complete without Unchained Melody.  This song was featured in the movie Ghost and proved to be a hit twice for Medley, with two different generations, which is something that has never happened before in music history.  Then he sang (I've Had) the Time of My Life (featured in the movie Dirty Dancing) which he sang with his daughter McKenna Medley.  McKenna sang a few of her songs while Bill took a break, including one she wrote called Silk Flowers.  She also sang Give Me One Reason made popular by Tracy Chapman and  Bring It On Home made popular by Sam Cooke.

Bill and McKenna Medley perform together on stage
It was truly a very special night at The Stiefel Theatre. After the show, Bill and McKenna signed autographs in the lobby which is something that major name acts seldom ever do.  The line wound around in a giant S throughout the lobby as people waited in line to get their programs, CD's and 8 X 10 glosses signed.  No one expected this so it was a great bonus after a wonderful concert.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Harlem Quartet

The McPherson Opera House
McPherson, KS
© Lydia Lowe 2013
Ilmar Gavilan, Melissa White, Matthew Zalkind, Jaime Amador Medina

The Harlem Quartet . . .this group has a lot of spunk!  When you go to a Harlem Quartet concert you are going to get a high energy performance.

The show opened with classical selections that only a string quartet can play.  They were restful but upbeat and held your attention.  The group plays with an upbeat, energetic style on every selection that they play whether it's classical or jazz or something else altogether.  I could tell that they really enjoy playing for an audience, although I imagine just playing is the thing for them.  The audience was held captive from the very first note. 

After a brief intermission, the musical numbers did a change up and it was all about jazz.  The group has their first album out now, entitled "Take The A Train".  (It is currently sold out on Amazon.)  The audience heard violins, a viola, and a cello really put through their musical paces with exciting sounds that one would never thought could be brought forth from these simple instruments.  Some of the more memorable for me were: Mating Calls and Delta Rhythms, Creole Contradanzas and my personal favorite, Hellbound Highball.  The later tune mimics a train that appears to slow down briefly but never stops and then takes off again at a fevered pace.  The title track, the groups version of Take The A Train is amazing.

This group played background music for a couple of CD's that Chick Corea recently recorded.  (In fact, The Harlem Quartet played background music for a recent performance that Chick Corea played in Wichita at The Orpheum.)  Corea was up for three Grammy awards at this years event and won in two of the three categories.  The Harlem Quartet mentioned the fact that should Corea win, it would be a win for them as well, as Corea's back up band.  The running joke was that should they win Grammy's, their concert booking price was going to go way up!

If you get a chance to hear this group play in person, do check them out.  They are worth the price of admission, no matter what that price may be.  Also, buy a copy of their debut CD.  The music is terrific.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Then We Came to the End

Monday Night Book Discussions
(written by Joshua Ferris)
Salina Public Library
Salina, KS
© Lydia Lowe  2/11/2013

      I started out by reading some of the blurbs written about the book and when I came to the one that said that this book was “As funny as The Office”, I almost put the book down and gave up.  I can’t stand that show.  Fortunately, I didn’t let a blurb dictate what I was going to read.

     This book was really hard to get in to and I would read for a while and then put it away.  As I did, I would see the title of the book and wonder when I would finally “come to the end” because it seemed to me that this book was never going to end.  Yet there it was every time I put the book down, promising me that I had come to the end.  

     Everything about the book was pointless and appeared to be a waste of time to read.  There were a few humorous points in the book.  There was Chris Yop who continued to show up for work after he was fired to make copies of his resume so he could find another job and then later on, when he dismantled the office chair; Tom Mota and the gun that turned out to be a paint ball gun; Brizz’s totem pole that he left to Benny and the ever increasing storage bills.

     But it was hard to read about Janine Gorjanc and her kidnapped daughter who was found dead; Lynn Mason and Martin Grant who both finally realize something about the other during Lynn’s breast cancer scare; Carl Garbedian who self-medicates with disastrous results.

     Clearly, Joshua Ferris, the author, has talent.  He writes with passion in a believable style and parts of this book were true gems.  My hope is that he finds a different editor who tightens up his prose so that the book isn’t so unwieldy. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Matisyahu - Featuring Levi Robin

The Stiefel Theatre
Salina, KS
© Lydia Lowe 2013

Levi Robin
Matisyahu - Featuring Levi Robin . . . The crowd expected to see Matisyahu but we got an extra treat when Levi Robin, an acoustic guitar player who at one time was in Matis backup band, took to the stage as the opening act.

Robin sang about five different songs and they were all great.  Robin is just starting out on his solo career and it was great to hear his songs.  He's a very quiet fellow and didn't talk much.  However, His music is spot on.  The final song of his performance was entitled, "No Worries" and you can download it for free from Robin's website.  The link to his site is listed on the "Links" page.  Go check out his music.  It's worth a listen.

After a brief intermission, Matisyahu took to the stage.  I was not familiar with his music but I am now.  The audience was comprised of some very dedicated and vocal fans who didn't hesitate to call out song titles they'd like to hear as well as interact with Matis in between song breaks.

The songs were a blend of Jewish tunes that no matter who you are you will recognize the rhythms, as well as Reggae beats and the two blend perfectly together.  Who would have thought that would be possible.  There was even a bit of Bob Marley thrown in for good measure.

Matis has a very distinctive voice that pulls you in and grabs your attention.  You really want to sit and listen to him sing, it's almost hypnotic.  He took a break to give his band a chance to stretch and rest, during this time he took questions from the audience.  Many of the audience members had been traveling from concert to concert to see him.  Also, he won some converts to his music and they asked him when he'd be playing in their area.

The only problem that I had with this concert was the stage lighting.  It was a bit avant garde to some extent, but the theatre was so dark most of the time with bright splashes of rolling color that you couldn't see the performers clearly on stage.  It was a bit disconcerting.