The Trick Is To Keep Going

Archive for April, 2010

Karla Bonoff’s timeless songcraft

by on Apr.16, 2010, under Music

In the 1970s heydey of the singer-songwriter, southern Californian Karla Bonoff emerged as one of the genre’s brightest lights. A gifted songwriter, whose melodic and well-structured tunes were often made more famous by other artists, Bonoff also produced a string of memorable albums and toured with her own band extensively.

Karla Bonoff Live 3She never achieved the kind of recongition some of the artists who covered her material did —  Linda Ronstadt, Bonnie Raitt, Aaron Neville, among many others — but her interpretations of her songs often struck home much more profoundly, as she displayed a beautifully crystal clear voice that could handle all of the demands her compositions make of a singer.

Although she has toured frequently, I never remember her coming to Connecticut. Happily, she stopped in Norfolk Thursday night at the Infinity Music Hall, and along with longtime collaborator Kenny Edwards and the remarkable guitarist Nina Gerber, Bonoff presented about an hour-and-a-half of truly inspired performances of some of her most well-known songs and some even her most avid followers were probably not that familar with.

I always associate piano with Karla Bonoff’s songs, but for most of the night she played one of two acoustic guitars and used the baby grand on about five or six tunes. Edwards alternated among mandolin, acoustic guitar and electric bass and Gerber played a white Fender Strat, often bringing to mind the style of the late Clarence White, from one of the last incarnations of The Byrds, who made his Tele sound like a pedal steel much as Gerber does with her Strat. (continue reading…)

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Time machine called the T.A.M.I. Show

by on Apr.06, 2010, under Music

I caught snippets of the T.A.M.I. Show in the ’60s when a short segment would turn up on network television or a smaller local station. I didn’t make it to the theatrical release at one of the locations around the country, which started  just a few weeks after the show was filmed.

TAMI show posterSo watching the newly released Shout Factory DVD of this rather amazing collection of eclectic talent was an almost entirely new experience. But it certainly brought back memories of how pop and rock music was presented in the early ’60s. This show was filmed in October, 1964, at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in front of a group of mostly high school students over a two-day period, performed twice for a live audience and once without.

What made it into theaters was the second filmed performance. The lineup is truly inspired and included, among others, hosts Jan & Dean, Chuck Berry, Gerry and The Pacemakers, Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, Marvin Gaye, Lesley Gore, The Beach Boys, James Brown and the closing act, the still rising Rolling Stones, before The Last Time, before Satisfaction, before worldwide acclaim. You see what I mean about a varied lineup spanning several genres.

It’s all presented in a style you would never see today. All the acts performed live, a big plus, and all acquitted themselves quite well. The camera work is steady, not choppy. There are no quick cuts with nonsensical flashes of scenes that have no relation to the music as we’ve become accustomed with music videos as well as film. The action stays on the entertainers and for that the film is greatly enhanced.

The one novelty that you might object to is the presence of dancers throughout most of each of the artists’ sets, giving performances that can only be described as filled with over-the-top exuberance, literally all over the stage. In back of the artists, sometimes in front, next to, working out in the dance moves of the day or borderline modern dance/entertainment style choreography. These are pros though and it’s remarkable the energy level they keep up. (continue reading…)

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