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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Joseph Hall-Elvis

   Third time is a charm as Joseph Hall's Elvis returned to The McPherson Opera House this past Saturday night. Hall was in fine form, as always. His show is high energy and he covered Elvis Presley from three different eras and even sang a couple of songs that I had never heard before. I'd provide the titles of the songs, but it caught me so by surprise to hear unfamiliar Elvis songs, that I just went with the flow and enjoyed them.

     There was Elvis of the 50's, clad in white slacks and a silk print shirt. Hall's second song, he sang "Teddy Bear" and tossed bears to the audience. At the end of this song he tossed a giant teddy bear up into the second balcony and an enthusiastic fan reached out way to far over the banister to grab for it; after a few tense minutes while Hall and his announcer waited for the inevitable that thankfully didn't happen, she didn't fall over the railing into the crowd below, the show continued on at a fever pace. McPherson takes Joseph Hall as Elvis very seriously, especially if you're willing to risk your life for a teddy bear. Of course, no one knew about what had happened. My photographer found out this little tidbit during intermission. Hall also sang a variety of other songs from this era which included "Don't Be Cruel", and of course, "Blue Moon".

     This lead to Elvis of the 60's, clad in black leather. Check out this photo of Joseph Hall, yes, Joseph Hall not the actual Elvis, hard to believe. I think he must have channeled him because I swear it's Elvis reborn. Hall sang "Satisfaction" "Heartbreak Hotel", "All Shook Up" and one of my favorites, "Stop, Look and Listen". While Hall sang there were photographs of Elvis, his fans, places he recorded at and a variety of other pictures on a screen at the back of the stage which added to the overall effect of the show. Hall does a terrific rendition of Elvis and his entire show causes you to suspend belief that this is someone other than Elvis performing. Before you know it you're drawn in and that's Elvis on stage.

      After a short intermission, where Hall met his fans and had pictures taken with them, it was time for Elvis of the 70's in the infamous white jumpsuit. "CeCe Rider" started off the set and then it was time for "Suspicious Minds", which is one of my favorite songs. I always feel like I've hit the trifecta when he sings "In The Ghetto" Suspicious Minds" and "Kentucky Rain". My only complaint, is that Hall always puts his all into "Suspicious Minds" and it's always way to fast. I know that he puts his own spin on the songs and he always comes off a fast up-tempo song when he moves into "Suspicious Minds" and that's probably why it's always so fast, but I wish he'd slow it down a little bit when he sings that particular song.

     All in all it was a terrific show, Hall always does Elvis proud. In December, Joseph Hall returns to The McPherson Opera House with his Elvis Christmas show. What a treat! He's never performed Elvis Christmas tunes in McPherson, so I'm eagerly awaiting this show. Check with The McPherson Opera House regarding when tickets will go on sale for this show. I also found out that Hall's Branson show has come to an end, so if you want to see him perform live, The Opera House is one of your best bets. Check out Joseph Hall's website to learn more:

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

CFTC-A Benefit for St. Rosa Lima

     Concerts For The Cause-Hutchinson kicked off the first concert of their 2016 season, on Saturday, April 23 with a benefit for the St. Rosa Lima Society at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church. The show was held at The Flag Theatre, the new venue for CFTC this season.

     Riley and Kathy Withrow started the show out with a variety of popular cover tunes that spanned all genres. These two always get the crowds warmed up and excited. People know their tunes and sing along, and of course, a show with The Withrow's always have a fair amount of seat dancers, you know those folks who just have to move to the beat but don't want to get up and draw attention to themselves. Hey folks, it's O-Kay to get out of those seats and actually move to the beat. There is no judging of dance moves at a CFTC event. Truly people are paying more attention to The Withrow's and what they're playing than they are to your dance moves.

     During the change out for the next band, The Soapbox Troubadors, the ladies of St. Rosa Lima took to the stage to talk about their organization and just where the money was going and whom it would benefit. There were two deserving families in the community who had unexpected expenses so all monies donated on Saturday night were going directly to these families. Donations were accepted and there were a wide variety of raffle items available to choose from this year. Thank you to all those business's that donated to this worthwhile cause. And thank you to those who participated by buying tickets.

     Then The Soapbox Troubadors took to the stage. The fellas were in fine form on this evening. Their rendition of "Alterbridge" was superb. Of course, I like everything they play. Frankie Shayne's voice is just so smooth. It grabs you and draws you in, combine that with background vocals provide by the band and the excellent instrumentals that always go along with a Soapbox Troubadors show, how can you go wrong. If you missed their performance tonight, it's going to be a while before The Troubies will be performing again, as after the concert, Frankie Shayne and his family were off to Ghana for some missionary work.

     The next Concert For a Cause Event will be held on May 27 and will be the annual School's Out bash at The Rusty Needle. The afternoon is an all ages show which runs from 2 to 5 pm and the evening show is 21 years and older and runs from 7 pm to midnight. The bands that will be featured are Artifas, Seven Days Lost, Small Town Titans, The Space Between and Moral Deficiency. The charities that will benefit are: First Call For Help and Concerts For The Cause. Check out CFTC's Facebook page: dates and additional information.

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Glenn Miller Orchestra

     Whenever I think of The Glenn Miller Orchestra, I think of "Moonlight Serenade".  This is their signature song and has been since the band began.  Although Miller composed this piece long before he organized the band.  It was an exercise he did for a course in arranging.  But no matter.  It's so beautiful and just thinking about this song causes me to begin to hum it, which I was doing not so silently to myself as the band took to the stage this past Tuesday night at The Stiefel Theatre in Salina.

     After Miller's signature opening song, it was time for "The Chattanooga Choo Choo".  The whole place was dancing in their seats.  That's pretty impressive because the house was nearly sold out and all anyone had was a little bit of elbow room, so imagine an entire theatre operating as one as everyone did their best to move with the groove.  I think the orchestra probably enjoyed watching the audience as much as we enjoyed listening to them.  This song was the very first in history to sell over a million copies and the first to earn a gold record from RCA. Three band members as well as Nick Hilscher, the band leader, and Jenny Swoish, the female vocalist, sang this song on stage. And talk about 40's glam, Nick and Jenny were glammed up to the max!

     Just what is The Glenn Miller sound?  What sets this orchestra apart from others you may have heard?  That sound is created by the clarinet holding the melodic line, doubled or coupled with the tenor sax playing the same note; and the harmonies produced by three other saxophones, while growling trombones and wailing trumpets add their oo-ahs.  So simple a child could do it, or maybe not.  One thing about it, if I liked it, and I did, you know there has to be a saxophone in there somewhere.

     Janes Gates at The Stiefel Theatre had been so gracious to allow me to view Keb" Mo" last Friday, and The Glenn Miller Orchestra on Tuesday; she even let me bring along my photographer to Keb' Mo' where we got some amazing photos and then my videographer to this show to interview Nick Hilscher before the opening curtain.  Thank you, Jane!

     To learn more about The Glenn Miller Orchestra, check out their website: And check out their music on YouTube.  You'll love it!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Keb' Mo'

     Friday night at The Stiefel Theatre in Salina and it was Keb' Mo" on stage singing The Blues.  His new CD, That Hot Pink Blues Album debuted on this night and he was here to sing a variety of selections from this new CD.  Keb' Mo' even showed up to the concert sporting a brand new hot pink tie for the occasion.

     The evening started out low key as Keb' Mo' accompanied himself on the guitar and sang a soft, sweet song, "Do It Right".  However, the stage was full of gear; a drum kit, an accordion, a couple of basses, an organ, a piano, and a synthesizer.  And Keb' Mo' didn't disappoint as he went from song to song an gradually with each song, members of his band joined him on stage.  On the song "City Boy" the organ came into play as Keb' Mo' accompanied himself on both guitar and harmonica, singing lyrics in an around the instruments he was playing. "Am I Wrong" brought the drummer up on stage and an audience sharing in the magic with rhythmic hand clapping.  One of my favorite songs of the evening was "Suitcase" and this brought the final member of the band on stage to play base.  If you haven't heard this tune, look it up on YouTube, you'll love it. 

     This evening wasn't all about the blues.  There was also a couple of Zydeco tunes; "Don't You Know" and "I'm Telling You Now".  At this point, the accordion joined in on the fun.  "Life's Beautiful" had a bit of a Western Swing style to it, which was unexpected but amazing in the middle of a Blues show.  It blended beautifully with the songs that came before it and after it.  At this point Keb' Mo' left the stage briefly as the band began tuning up to play some Jazz licks on organ, drums and bass; then Keb' Mo' joined the band back on stage and played "Rita" and another Jazz tune entitled, of all things, "Government Cheese".  There was also a bit of a '70's feel to this song, with extra synthesizer, organ and theramin licks thrown in through the middle of the song.  Check out this link to hear the song:

      Keb' Mo' played straight through the entire concert and never took a break.  He has amazing endurance, playing and singing on every song through a variety of tempo's, never slowing down once. The show was high energy and covered a wide range of musical styles that went far beyond just singing The Blues. 

      As a side note, as I was waiting for a table at Martinelli's Little Italy, before the show and across the street from the theater, I was people watching.  I began to notice a few people who were shall we say, not like the others.  There was a little different look to them.  I began paying more attention to those around me.  There were the usual Kansas folks; the Blues and Jazz people, an aging Hippie here and there, the regular folks, people dressed up and dressed down, and then these "others" who were dressed the same as everyone else and yet I couldn't quite put my finger on it. 

     So, the show starts up at The Stiefel Theatre and it suddenly dawns on me as various band members take to the stage, the stage hands replace guitars and various instruments and they move items around the stage; I've seen all these people before.  They were walking up and down the sidewalks outside before the show.  Another people watching mystery solved!  Check out Keb' Mo's website to find out more about him and his music: