Here, There be a Writer

Friday, December 21, 2012

What Your Hear on the Radio...

This is a personal look at Christmas songs that I have heard and listen to every year. I wanted to share some of the less main stream music out there that I have come across that I feel is just as good. First we look at the “genres” of Christmas music out there (is that correct?), styles maybe, or types. Okay, types of Christmas music then!

There are several kinds of Christmas songs that play on the radio, and as I have the pleasure of having a radio at work, I get to hear them played ad nauseum since about two weeks ago. I admit that it not as bad as those that work retail They will often have to listen to this music from Halloween until after the 25th. It strikes me as odd that with the increase in the music out there, that the same old tired songs are played, some even multiple times during the day.

I am just a tad sick of the same old repetition. I propose a solution. This week’s blog will feature the worst Christmas songs to come out of the radio airwaves and possible alternatives to those same old tunes. Maybe a bit of history tossed into the mix too. You should learn something new every day!

Let’s see what type of songs we have first; there’s the standard Christmas carol, a traditional song that has been around since time began. These come in two kinds; first the religious songs/hymns, something like “O Come All Ye Faithful”, “O Holy Night”, or “God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman” comes to mind. You hear them every year; most musical artists will cover one or more of these at anytime. Now, I am not going into the implications of these songs. My beliefs are NOT the focus here, but what we hear being played during the Christmas season. Most time when I listen to the radio these are the one in a constant rotation on the radio. But, I have found that I get less irritated with them, usually because there are hundreds of versions of these Christmas carols that are recorded and therefore you will get less repetitive with these. Although I am not vindicating them, there are guilty parties here too!

The other side is the traditional, but the secular Christmas songs, such as “Silver Bells”, “Here Comes Santa Claus”, or “Santa Baby”. These songs are not based on Jesus’ birth, but focus on the non-religious aspects of Christmas. Many of the songs in this category are the ones that I usually can’t stand, because, at least with the radio, they are the ones that get very repetitive when you listen longer then 30 minutes. Mind you, there are songs I like in this category, but after having subjected myself to the radio for the last few weeks, I have come to the conclusion that a number of songs from this category are just overdone, terrible, or both.

Then you have your story songs, these can be both secular and non-secular. Here the song tells a story. Plain and simple, right? Not so much. Songs of this nature are harder to do, because you have to either know a story already, or can make one up that sounds legit. Trying to write a story into a song isn’t always easy when you have to factor in meter and rhyme, although not all the time. (Oh geesh!) They can be quite touching and inspiring, or they can make you want to take a sledge hammer to the back of your hand. Over the last 10 years there have been a few Christmas story songs that have left a few nasty tastes in my mouth. I won’t lie, I loath “Christmas Shoes.” (I put the link for those who are actually interested in hearing this song) This song is the biggest reason that I could ever think of hating Christmas on the radio. It is over played and sorely over exposed. The premise doesn’t make sense. A child wants to buy shoes for a dying mom, so she can look pretty for Jesus. It just feels like the writer was trying too hard to find sad things to put in his song. It's cliche! That’s not how you write songs! I kid you not, “Christmas Shoes” is just a terrible song.

Then you have your silly Christmas songs like “Grandma Got Ran Over by A Reindeer” performed by Elmo and Patsy (a recording duo from California who had one other major hit, “The Doomsday Waltz”. Elmo was a veterinarian turned folk singer with his wife Patsy.), “The 12 Pains of Christmas” by Bob Rivers (The funniest way to deal with this Greek epic poem disguised as a Christmas carol other than the Muppet version), and the popular radio choice of “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas,” performed by Shirley Temple. These songs are certainly not meant to be taken seriously, but they lighten the mood of a somber time of year. I think Sesame Street’s take on this song is a tad better, “I Want a Snuffleupagus fro Christmas,” sung by Big Bird and Anne Hathaway. In many cases, these songs are a way to break up the monotony of some of the other deeply religious or sentimental songs. Some of these are good and some are not so good.

There are few other miscellaneous categories that I also thought of while writing this blog. There is the generic Christmas pop song about Christmas (usually involving love or a significant other), like “Mistletoe” by Justin Beiber, “Christmas through Your Eyes” by Gloria Estefan, or “My Only Wish (This Year)” by Britney Spears. These songs ooze a sentimentally that is over trite even before they sing the first notes I like a little variety in my Christmas songs, because as others have pointed out, Christmas music gets old fast: Todd in the Shadows: One Hit Wonderland - Grandma Got Ran Over by a Reindeer.

There’s your Christmas charity songs and the covers of the said charities singles (BAND AID, LIVE AID, FARM AID), which aren’t much better. “Do They Know its Christmastime?” The purpose of the song, a valiant effort by musicians in 1984 to help the famine relief in Ethiopia. It has become a regular culprit to the  Christmas homicide on the ears of many, myself included. Barenaked Ladies did a cover of this song and it didn’t help the song. The song is a condescending tribute to how Africa won’t have snow for Christmas. And the Christmas bells that ring there/ Are the clanging chimes of doom/ We'll, tonight, thank God, it's them/ Instead of you.” Don’t they realize that a good portion of Africa doesn’t celebrate Christmas? I mean, about half of the country is Muslim (45%), that logic doesn’t make sense, but what do I know?  Anyway, the song feels overly preachy about Christmas and the people in Africa.

Then there's Christmas songs from movies/TV specials that have just become that popular that they get their own air play, such as “Silver and Gold” or “Holly Jolly Christmas” by Burl Ives.

Also, there are the Christmas songs that are not really Christmas songs, but they fit with the feel of the season so they end up getting air play because somebody said so, “My Favourite Things”. There a number of Christmasey versions of this song. It actually fits with the feel of Christmas and winter, “Rain drops on roses, whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles, warm woolen mittens, brown paper packages tied up with strings…”

Right, I also forgot the songs in foreign languages category! Remember “Feliz Navidad”? Well, now you have that stuck in your head. Your welcome!

So, what does this mean to me? Well, I have come to uncover a number of artists that have released Christmas albums or single tracks that are just as good as many of the standards that you may already love and listen to or are part of the current crappy Christmas playlist on your local radio that clutter up the airways nowadays. I would like to bring to light some of these tracks to the forefront. After all some of you may agree that Song A or song B is a terrible Christmas song, or are sick of hearing it ALL THE TIME, and decide to try song C or D out. If not, that's fine. To each his own...

Let’s start with the Traditional Songs (both secular and non-secular). These are songs that I feel are basically better left on the shelf. It’s time to expand your horizons. ~cracks knuckles~ Now, I will point out that there are versions of these songs that I truly love. Some of these songs I prefer a certain artist’s rendition that is not main stream, while others are tried and true and played continuously on the radio. While others I just find are terrible songs, much to my chagrin.

What songs do I find terrible? Well, as I pointed out earlier many of the non-secular Christmas songs are fine. They are based on old traditional Christmas hymns. There is beauty in many of the lyrics to these songs. What bothers me is the badly produced versions of these songs. I really can’t stand any version of “O Holy Night” that doesn’t try to utilize a soprano or high tenor here. This song is so beautiful, so pure that you need a pure voice. Don’t give me Christina Aguilera or Mariah Carey! I want Celtic Woman or Jewel singing this. What about the secular songs? Well, “Santa Baby” is the prime culprit here. There is no version of this song that I can enjoy. It’s all selfish crappy materialism. Eartha Kitt, the original singer tried and failed. It’s the tone of the song I don't enjoy. Madonna ruined it. And every other version just makes it worse.

Now, what would I listen to, or recommend to others in this category? I have always been partial to versions that tweak the song while retaining the true meaning. Barenaked Ladies did a version of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman,” with Sarah McLachlan using “God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman” and “We Three Kings”. It’s very touching and brings tears to my eyes; which is what I think Christmas songs are supposed to do, at least in part. There’s also “Silent Night” by John Denver and the Muppets, and most anything the Muppets touch is gold, there are exceptions though. On the secular front, I love the track Sean McCann of Great Big Sea recorded a few years back, “Merry Christmas Everyone”. It’s not currently available online unless you were lucky to download it free from Sean’s website, but recently Great Big Sea played a charity concert and performed this song with members of Moxy Fruvous, Barenaked Ladies to name a few. There is a CD available to purchase and it’s on iTunes. I would recommend getting the track at least. It’s a solid song. There’s also “Christmastime is Here” by Hannah-Rei, a soulful rendition of the classic Vince Guaraldi Trio version. Another one is “Ding Dong Ding Dong” by George Harrison.

That’s a lot to take in, but seriously, there are songs that are just begging to be on the air, but are not played because they are not main stream. There are songs that are on the radio that don’t hate. To be fair, “Christmastime is Here” by the Vince Guaraldi Trio is played regularly, but I cannot get enough of this song, “Silver Bells,” “It’s Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas,” or “Jingle Bell Rock.”

Onto Story Songs, as I pointed out earlier, “Christmas Shoes” is not a favourite, and it’s played far too much on most radio stations, which is another reason that I am not a fan. Anytime a song is overplayed, I will be less likely to enjoy it. There are other story songs from the very common “Rudolph the Red Nosed” by Jewel, “Frosty the Snowman” Jimmy Durante or “Little Drummer Boy” by Bing Crosby. Some of these are of the common variety story songs, but they are classics nonetheless. “Huge of the Luge” a lesser known story based song by Moxy Fruvous is a story song about a luge lovin’ Grandpa. It’s Fun! There is another one I would like to mentioned, “A Spaceman Came Traveling,” by Celtic Woman, its a little known song originally done by Chris DeBurgh. It tells the story of the Nativity with the Angel being a Spaceman watching over the earth. It’s touching and beautiful. I have never heard of it until Celtic Woman covered it on the album “Believe.”

Now the miscellaneous categories; when you think of Christmas pop songs, you normally think of “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” by Brenda Lee, which is one of my classic favourites, a light country rock song about dancing around the festive tree in jubilation or Wonderful Christmastime” by Paul McCartney (more synthey sounding), both very common and to some extent over played, but I enjoy them anyway. But for consideration in the pop category we have “Christmas Eve” by Blackmore’s Night, “The Christmas Song Song” by Rocky and Balls, or “The Christmas Waltz” by She and Him. Each has a different take on the Christmas song ranging from the sentimental to the silly.

There are the songs from movies/TV specials. I’ve already mentioned two of the biggies, from the Rankin Bass’ “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.” There are others that make made their way into my Christmas heart. Those have become staples in their own right. It would be cool if “Bah, Bug, and Hum” from “Olive the Other Reindeer” a jazzy little number about the pitfalls of being a postal worker during the holiday season or “Where the River Meets the Sea” form Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas was on the radio. Heck I would settle for a soundtrack from either of those specials.

Songs that are not Christmas, but get played at Christmas, I mentioned earlier, “My Favourite Things.” There’s not much else to say. It’s a good song. I have heard crappy renditions that are over produced, but when they get it right it a great song. And I want to point out that I am involved in a yearly Christmas show that goes up the first weekend in December where we write and perform a Christmas show in 2 weeks that often utilizes non Christmas songs in a Christmas-like manner, “I’ve Got Love to Keep Me Warm”, “I Get By with a Little Help from My Friends”, and “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” So, anything can be a Christmas song, when in the right context.

And finally, the Christmas songs in foreign languages, which run the gambit of languages used and usually focus on the birth of Christ, but “Feliz Navidad” is the most common, most used, and most irritating (in some opinions). It is fits more in the Christmas pop songs, a good nature tune about wishing you a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year in Spanish, “Feliz Navidad/ Feliz Navidad/ Feliz Navidad/ Prospero Año y Felicidad”. There not much to the song itself and that’s why many people find it annoying to listen to. After all it’s the same verse/chorus repeated for almost 3 minutes.  I don’t really hate this song, nor do I find it terrible, it’s more of an annoying song. I do sing long to it, but after 2006 (when I put it on a Christmas mix CD), I realized that I could take it or leave it. What would I recommend to replace it? Well, I wouldn’t take it completely out, as I still enjoy hearing it at Christmas, but I would consider additional foreign language tracks to add a bit of variety.

Here’s one for you, “Riu Riu Chiu”. Bet you haven’t heard of this song before? Well, if you are a Monkees fan, then you have.  In 1967 the Monkees performed this on a Christmas episode of their show. Done in acapella this little song appeared. Riu Riu Chiu is a villancico, musical poem style from the 15th through the 18th centuries in the Iberian region (Spain/Portugal) and Latin America. It’s a song about the Nativity, so it’s basically an older version of what became a Christmas carol, “Ríu, ríu, chíu, la guarda ribera Dios guardó del lobo a nuestra cordera (Ríu, ríu, chíu, the river guards her; God kept the wolf away from Our Lamb.” It’s a beautiful little song. Acapella is a wonderful way to go with this song and the Monkees have amazing harmonies that absolutely blend together. Other artists to cover this song have been Bruce Cockburn, Sixpence, None the Richer, and David Archeleta to name a few. You should check them out.
There is the “Panis Angelicus” made more famous by Celtic Woman’s Chloe Agnew. Panis Angelicus the first part of a hymn written by St. Thomas Aquinas an Italian Dominican Priest, a theologian philosopher and father of modern philosophy. “Panis angelicus/fit panis hominum;/Dat panis coelicus/figuris terminum (The angelic bread/becomes the bread of men;/The heavenly bread/ends all prefigurations). “Panis Angelicus” is the beginning of the Sacris Solemniis which is the hymn proper for the Feast of Corpus Christi. It’s a prayer, but something about the Latin and sung by a High Soprano or Tenor turns it into a beautiful song that I thoroughly enjoy listening to at Christmas. Other renditions to check out Luciano Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli, José Carreras, Plácido Domingo, and Placido Domingo with Yo-Yo Ma, each version has it amazing points.

I think this is why I prefer to utility my MP3 player and listen to the Holiday music of my choice. Then I can control what I listen to. That is the price one must pay if you listen to the radio, especially all day, everyday. There are good Christmas songs out there, not hard to look and play your own playlists, which I wholly endorse.

As a side note, there are also songs about the other holidays that fall in December; Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, Yule/Solstice, and Festivus. I will feature a greater look at these holidays in a future blogs.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Meditative Thoughts: just a little thought....

I have an idea....lets spread love this year, and next year, and the follow year. Let's not worry about the guns, but in turn focus on the people, ALL PEOPLE (not just those we consider weird, disabled, frightening, or just different), but ALL PEOPLE. It's a true task of anyone who is HUMAN to love and love unconditionally. I ask you, this year, and every year after this, to LOVE and be LOVED! I think that's better than worrying about guns, mental illness, and the like. The violence in Connecticut, at Sandy Hook, or the mall incident, these are things that have happened, but that's it, they happened, life is still going on. Love your neighbour, you fellow man, woman, and child. Everyone needs Love and Kindness. This time of year is no different than any other time. 
It was Jesus who said something like "Hey, yo my peeps! Let's love and treat ours as we would want to be treated." Okay, maybe not said it THAT way, but I think he had a point! 
Buddha also said,  "You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection." - Buddha
 All 3 had really lovely and amazing messages. I hope that everyone can see that and learn from it. You don't have to be a Christian to believe that Jesus, or the Dalai Lama were a wise teachers. Now more than ever people need to really that it's more important to love, than to hate. Fear is only going to breed hate. The Dalai Lama also said, "If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion." --Dalai Lama

I understand the world is a messed up place, but at the end of the day, we are all still people, human, home sapiens, right? I am sick of the negative, the hate, the fear that is present in the world, but I for one refuse to fall to it's charisma. And that is what  is going on. People are falling into the fear and the hate. I know that bad stuff happens , but it doesn't mean that it has to rule your life. You are alive!!! Go out there and enjoy life! Go ice skating with your kids. Make snowman in your yard (if you have snow).  Tell someone you love them. Hug your kids. Hug your spouse. There are SO MANY beautiful things in this world. The bad will ALWAYS happen. It's the nature of the beast. The equilibrium of the universe. The important part is that whatever happens, you remain true to yourself and love, love unconditionally, because in the end that is really what's most important. John Lennon, said it best, "All you need is Love...." (ba ba bah bid da).

Merry Christmas and Blessed Yule to you and yours for I LOVE you all equally! And I BELIEVE in EACH and EVERY one of YOU!!!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Spotlight: Hannah Rei

Spotlight: Hannah-Rei

If you’ve been on the internet and I figure most of you have, especially if you are reading this. The internet is full of music, comedy, silliness, weird shit, and countless other things. The facet of the internet that fascinates me the most for this blog is the music. Anywhere you go on the internet now a day you can find music.

“If music be the food of love, play on, Give me excess of it; that surfeiting, The appetite may sicken, and so die.”  -William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

I think Will said it best. Music at its core is food, something that we inherently need, or we die. I have had many moments in my life that music has touched me, have helped me through a speed bump or three, or just made me smile.

“Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.” –Victor Hugo, Hugo's Works: William Shakespeare

In this day, when the internet plays such a critical role in our lives, something as important as music becomes easier to access, from iTunes and Amazon mp3 to youtube and spotify, music is everywhere. There is very often a song for every mood. I know with myself, that I will pick music to listen to that reflects my mood; when I am happy, I will listen to Great Big Sea or Katie Perry, often when I am angry I will listen to Meatloaf or Weird Al, and when I want to write it’s anything instrumental (Celtic or classical), Celtic Woman, or Katie Perry.

In the last few years, I have taken to the internet in search of music, sometimes to just listen to my favourite tunes on youtube, Pandora, or Spotify (which I haven’t tried yet, future Blog idea?), or to discover to some untapped music.

You see, there are dozens, no, hundreds, wait, thousands of musicians and bands out there trying to make it in the world. I’m sure if I listed some here you would probably think, ‘who the heck is that?’ right? Well, that’s the idea! Have you heard of Lindsay Stirling or Hannah-Rei? No? Well, some of you have, but the point is that some of you haven’t. I want to bring to the surface some of these artists that you may have not heard of, or have only briefly heard of.

In the main stream music there are so many artists, genres, and styles of music, that I could blog everyday and not repeat. In this year 2012 there's Justin Beiber, Taylor Swift, Carly Rae Jepsen to name a few. Many of these artists I could do without, personally, but also I could discuss the inherit benefits of Katie Perry (you know you listen to ‘Last Friday Night’!) But here I would like to spotlight artists that are certainly not mainstream or even signed, yet, that is.

This week (hopefully on a regular basis), I would like to spotlight an artist that I think deserves a bit of press who is from the other side of the pond (well depends on where you are from). Hannah Rockcliffe is from Wakefield, West Yorkshire and goes by the moniker, Hannah-Rei has recently release her first full LP “Time to Play,” she was kind enough to let me interview her about life, music, and the future.

Born to a highly musical family, Hannah’s father played piano, so she was surrounded by music at an early age. At the age of 11, she wrote her first song. “I had a Music homework assignment to write a song and I enjoyed it so much that I didn't stop.” It wasn’t the best song Hannah admits, but it certainly had form and rhyme. A soul singer from the onset, Hannah finds influences from Stevie Wonder and John Legend. Soul music is the music that really resonates the most with her; and her first love musically was Michael Jackson.

She studied math, science, and music in school. She continued her music studies at University where she studied songwriting. It was there; at Bath Spa University that she met Sophie Ball and for a class wrote “The Beard Song”, this was to be the first of many that the comedic duo would write as the internet team “Rocky and Balls.” They wrote songs and made videos on youtube and gained quite the following, with songs called “The Skills Song”, “Love Cake”, and “I <3 U Online”  also they were building solo careers.

Hannah graduated from Bath Spa University with a MA in Songwriting and began her musical journey to building her own musical following. She released her first EP “Reminisce” in February 15, 2010, a 5 track EP of heartfelt soul songs with her singing and playing the piano. I will admit that I discovered Hannah through the Rocky and Balls videos, but then I checked out Hannah’s personal youtube channel, Here she posts original content and covers. I was so very impressed with her voice and skills on the piano. It was like her fingers danced across the keyboard. After a while of following her video I purchased “Reminisce” and was wonderfully surprised and thrilled with the music and the production value. Stand out tracks are “Another Chance” and “Do It All Again”. It’s just Hannah and her piano, but you can hear everything. It’s piercing, pure, and positively (I love alliteration) a great listen.

Two years later, she released another EP, “Heartstrings” a 4 track EP which I feel has a rawer, yet purer sound. It’s like she pours herself out there for her fans. It is truly touching and awesome. There’s piano and guitar here. Stand out tracks, “In the Beginning” and “Baby Baby Baby”.

 When asked how she feels she can best promote herself as an unsigned artist, she comments that doing her live shows on “I have found that my BlogTV gigs are the best way to promote my music so far. I think that when people get to see me play live it makes a difference.” Turning into Hannah’s weekly BlogTV: show has given me a greater view of her talents and learned more about her as a person. She has covered artists the likes of Adele, Ed Sheeran, Emeli Sande, Beyonce, and John Legend. She cites herself as a soul artist and highly influence by R & B and Soul, she also says, “I am quite in awe of people who have a really eclectic taste in music, because I wish I could find a wider range of artists that excite me.  I would say however that I can find lots of songs that I like from many different genres but not so many artists.”

There is a sincerity that Hannah exudes in her music. I have never been a HUGE R & B fan, but there a number of her covers that I find myself enjoying her take on these songs.

“The internet has definitely opened up my fan base globally,” says Hannah. This year has brought some awesome changes to Hannah as she has been able to write and record her first full length album, “Time to Play” released in November. The 10 track album which has been released digitally features a number of tracks that Hannah has featured on her live streaming web shows, in fully produced and epically amazing tacks (okay, I’m a tad biased). Bias aside, Hannah has stepped it up with “Time to Play” with new fully produced tracks and yet retaining her powerful voice and passion for writing. Stand out tracks include “Superhero”, “Elastic”, and “Upside Down.” The best part is the she returned to previous songs and revamped “In the Beginning” from “Reminisce” with an edgier sound.

When asked what she has planned for the next 5 years, 10 years, Hannah responded that she hopes that she will have been signed and release one, if not two albums. She is currently playing gigs in the UK, with hopes for greater tours and even coming to the US. 

May the great muses dance in your head to aid you, Hannah. I hope that you, Internet will be a bit curious to check out her music at: The not to be put down artist and great all around person, Hannah-Rei. You can follower her on Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace: and,

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Monkees in Buffalo, 2012


I have not gone to many concerts in my life, and only after college did I start to see the bigger headlining acts. My very first concert was with Savage Garden during the “To the Moon and Back” tour about 1997 or 98. My best friend bought tickets for her, her cousin, and myself. It was at the Erie County fairgrounds, in Hamburg NY. The seats were pretty far back, but I was so happy to be able to see them live. I had such a crush on Darren Hayes!! That was the year that I had discovered Savage Garden, I was the ultimate fangirl. It was also the first time I saw a band live; it made an impact on my desire to see more concerts. Back then, I truly preferred to listen to the album and that was it, live was just a word back then. Since that concert, I have seen Meatloaf, Paul McCartney, Fleetwood Mac, Barenaked Ladies, Crowded House, Moxy Fruvous, Dady Brothers, Town Pants, and Great Big Sea live. Great Big Sea tops all others, having seen them a total of 6 (soon to be 7 in April 2013), but every concert I have seen it like a patch/medal/tattoo of honour).

The live experience is a unique one. While we (as a collective of people) tend to love the studio version of the songs and albums that make our lives special, there is something truly amazing about hearing our favourite artists sing live. Something else is equally important when attending a concert, which is the stage banter. Ever wonder what Meatloaf, Paul McCartney, or Neil Finn are thinking? I gather from the shows I have seen that the banter is a little window into the artist’s mind. They are saying, ‘Hey, how’s it goin’? Wanna hear a funny story?’ To me, that’s endearing.

So, what’s all this hype? Well, last week I got to see the Monkees live in Buffalo with some friends. That’s what! It’s a pretty important concert for many reasons, not all the reason will be mentioned in this blog. The reason I mention it, simply, is that after all of my pre-conceived notions, this concert was one of the best to date. That is saying a lot. After all, it’s the Monkees, right? Well, yes, it’s the Monkees, but something else…

When David, (my husband) first heard about this concert it was after Davy Jones had passed away and the failed attempt to see the Beach Boys concert up at Darien Lake. David is THE Monkees fan, hands down, I am less so. This is not to say that I don’t like/love the Monkees, but he eats, sleeps, and breathes Monkees,-I eat, sleep, and breathe Great Big Sea (that’s another blog, for another time-this concert meant a lot to him on so many levels. I was more than happy to join him, I mean after all I grew up with the Monkees TV show, I knew a number of songs, I thought Mickey was the grooviest (yes, I said that), but I also wanted to support David’s passion. I love the chance to go to any concert, as I said before; I don’t go to concerts that often (something about this thing called money).

What were my expectations?
Well…I'm sure that before the concert, even before that weekend, I was thinking, ‘Yes! I am going to Buffalo to see, Laura (friend from college), and then to Monkees concert with some friends.’ It’s not that I wasn’t stoked to see the Monkees, but had you asked what I was looking forward to prior to that week, it would have been visiting Laura. As it goes, the closer the concert got, the more excited I become to see Mike, Mickey, and Peter. I mean, this was the first time in FOREVER that Michael Nesmith was PERFOMORMING as a MONKEE! 

Look! It's the Monkees!!!

While I am a Mickey girl, I have a soft spot for the Wool Hat. There are a number of songs that are Mike’ s that I can’t help but turn the volume up on, such as ‘Door into Summer’ or ‘Listen to the Band’.


I was hoping to hear ‘Last Train to Clarksville’ or ‘Shades of Grey’ at the concert, beyond that I was just excited to be at a concert with David, Sara, Marie (Sara’s mum), and Amanda. David had gotten third row seats, orchestra left! That’s the closest I have been to a stage since Barenaked Ladies in Houston, fifth row, orchestra left, again (of course when Sean McCann came to the Town Ballroom in Buffalo last year, and I got to meet him, Laura and I were right up to the stage, also orchestra left). Seems I am an orchestra left kind of gal! That was definitely an eye opener that I was going to see the Monkees, see the sweat on their brows.

The highlights:
Peter Tork’s rendition of ‘Your Auntie Grizelda’ and his little stage dance while he sung it. Probably the dorkiest Tork moment, but he was having so much fun on stage. You could see it on his face. I couldn’t help but enjoy this song, even more then I normally do. My friend, Amanda loathes this song normally; even she was even impressed by Peter’s live rendition of it. 

(Thanks to rcornnell on youtube for the video)

Mickey singing ‘Randy Scouse Git’, that says it all. There is something truly AWESOME about a timpani drum on stage and a poncho wearing Dolenz. This song makes less sense than ‘Your Auntie Grizelda’ but it’s so catchy, I cannot help but love it. It also proves that Mickey has stage presence. There was A LOT of Mickey presence during this concert.

The audience sing-a-long with ‘Daydream Believer’ with Monkee back up. It was simply touching to see how the boys couldn’t sing a Davy song, but yet they couldn’t ignore the fact the ‘Daydream Believer’ exists. I could see that they enjoyed playing the song, but Mickey said it best, ‘we don’t own this song anymore, but you do…’ tears, my friend, tears…it was touching, nonetheless.

Hearing songs that have NEVER been performed LIVE. (sourced from David): ‘Daily Nightly’ and ‘Early morning Blues and Greens’. These two are songs that I am less familiar with, but I enjoyed watching Mickey sing the lyrics from a binder and Mike do his impersonation of a Moog Synthesizer. It was EPIC and a hoot!

Hearing Mike Nesmith sing and play with his old band mates. There were a number of Mike songs that were performed: ‘Listen to the Band’, ‘The Girl I Knew Somewhere’, ‘Tapioca Tundra’, ‘You Just May be the One’, and ‘My Sunny Girlfriend’. He actually looked like he was having fun onstage. I remember thinking that he was a poop for not enjoying the Monkees more, but I think time has mellowed him, and he may appreciate the Monkees for what they are now. He was cracking jokes about checking his email while waiting for Mickey or Peter, or seeing him dance a bit on stage. It made me smile.

Monkee Walking!
Post concert glee!!!

I couldn’t have asked for a better first experience seeing the Monkees live than this concert. I mean when you can Monkee walk into the venue with your friends, stand in line waiting to get in and crack jokes Monkee jokes-even knowing that each of us was in a different location in the audience-it was still AWESOME. Also, seeing my beloved husband thoroughly fanboy during the show made it that much more enjoyable. He even got to meet Andrew Sandoval, (Monkee historian/chronicler). It was a moment that I will never forget, even knowing that my left ear was getting the brunt of the sound from the giant megalith speakers. Oh, well! ‘Here we come/walking down the street….’

David and Andrew Sandoval :-)