Wednesday, April 4, 2012

March Madness - My Version

Wow! March came and went in a blink of an eye. When you talk about March Madness most folks think of college basketball. My version has to do with seeing and shooting 6 shows at The Coach House. When I looked at the Coach House Schedule earlier I figured that I would get to about 3 shows during the month. Little did I know that things would work out the way they did.

March 2nd - Javier Colon
For those that do not know, Javier Colon was the winner of "The Voice" last year. I was fortunate to see him perform at the Taylor Guitars Booth during Winter NAMM so when I saw that he was performing at The Coach House I was anxious to see how he would do in a true concert environment. First thing to note. When the warm up acts on the bill go from 2 to 3 it usually means the show isn't selling well. There were maybe about 250 to 300 people that showed up for the show that night. I was really expecting a better turn out but sometimes that happens. I had a hard time sitting through all 3 opening acts. None of them stood out or got the crowd really pumped up for the headliner. What a relief it was when Javier finally came on. He was warmly received by the audience. This particular night he seemed to have the chorus from the Taylor Swift song "Mean" stuck in his head which they performed for us several times throughout the show. The band backing him up was top notch. The bass player was the most fun to watch as he mouthed and wiggled to every bass line he played. A show in itself. Although Javier has a great voice, the "Wow Factor" just wasn't there for me this night. I enjoyed the show but when it was over I didn't have that "Can't wait to see him again" feeling. Check out the review that appears at this link and also features photos I shot that night. Click here to check out photos from this show.

March 3 - Lee Rocker
Lee Rocker. Former Stray Cat. Current Laguna Beach resident. What more can I say? First check out Robert Kinsler's  review of Lee's new CD. Lee and his band totally ripped up the Back Porch stage during the 2011 Doheny Blues Festival. I was really looking forward to seeing him play at his home away from home, the Coach House. The openers tonight were Space Rocket and Graceland Mafia. I think that Space Rocket was a bit more rock than rockabilly. Quite a bit of energy came off the stage during their set. I really enjoyed them and I think based on their response, the audience did too. I would love to have a bit more information to give you about this band but I didn't ask them at the show and when I did a little research the only thing that came up was their Faceebook page. All I can say is that they rocked it pretty hard and I hope that they get booked again soon as an opening act. Next up was Graceland Mafia who bill themselves as "The Undisputed Kings Of Non-Rockabilly". This band is high energy entertainment and just pure fun! This particular night the lead singer Melvis Dupree (yes Melvis) proposed to his long time (30+ years) girlfriend during their set.  They were a perfect fit as an opener. This brings us to the main course. Lee Rocker. I have seen the Stray Cats several times and have also seen Brian Setzer with the Nashvillians. I can say that I am really glad to have seen this show. The band with Buzz Campbell, Brophy Dale (on Guitars) and Jimmy Sage (Drums) was just incredible. Throw the slap bass style that Lee Rocker plays in that mix and KABOOM! The crowd was up on it's feet from the beginning to the end of the show singing and dancing anywhere space permitted. He played all of those old Stray Cats songs along with a mix of his own current and past songs. This show was so much fun it's too bad it had to end. Click here to check out photos from this show.

March 15 - The Young Dubliners
Pre St. Patrick's Day Party!  Hard to believe that this band was formed in Southern California in the late 1980's.  I heard so much about them over the years but, now it is 2012 and I'm just getting my first look at them. Opening for them tonight are Sam Smith and Sixstep. Sam is a local 19 year old female singer song writer. My first exposure to her was back in December when she opened for Dick Dale. Sam's voice has a soulful purity reminiscent of Taylor Swift & Sarah McLachlan. I thought it was a bit odd that she would open for someone like Dick Dale, however she managed to hold the crowd's attention and they seemed to enjoy her set. The Young Dubliner's audience was a much better fit for her style. Click here to check out some tracks recorded at The Coach House. Sixstep is another local Southern California band. These guys are interesting to say the least. Along with their musical talents they bring a bit of comical satire to their show. Their style is pooled from many resources among them Frank Zappa, King Crimson, Pink Floyd and Radiohead. Click here to learn more about Sixstep.
When the Young Dubliners took the stage and their music started to fill the room I was immediately whisked back to a local Irish pub back in Michigan we would sometimes hang out at. I fought back the urge to order several Guinness and shots of Jameson and immersed myself in the music.  What a great show these boys put on. It is really a shame that it wasn't St. Patrick's Day, but after looking around the room it really didn't seem to matter. Although I only recognized 2 songs during the entire show, I was so blown away by their talent it really didn't matter. I am looking forward to the next time I see the Young Dub's!!  Click here to check out photos from this show.
March 23 - John Waite
John Waite. Former front man for the Baby's and Bad English. He had a big hit in the 80's with a song called "Missing You". My wife Karen is one of his biggest fans. Too bad she wasn't feeling well that night because I know she would have loved this show. The opening bands for this show were Waldo Bliss and my friend Connie Rae. I'm not quite sure what to say about Waldo Bliss. I've always been told that if you can't say anything nice then it's best not to say anything. Waldo plays acoustic guitar and sings. That's all I can say. Click here for information about Waldo Bliss. Next up was Connie Rae. She's a veteran of the Coach House stage opening for some huge folks over the years. She sings rock, gospel and blues. She is a very talented lady with a great voice. She did a real nice job getting the crowd ready for John Waite. Click here to get a little taste of Connie Rae. 
Every time I have seen John Waite perform I have never been dissapointed. This show was no exception. John always seems to surround himself with such high quality muscians that are able to perform his songs with their original passion. He also has quite a fanatic fan base. I met several people at this show who had attended the previous night's show in San Diego and were going to see him again in the next night in Corona. He played a good mix of his own material entwined with songs from his time with the Baby's. The only thing that he left out were songs from the Bad English period. When it was all said and done it was a high energy rockin' 90 minutes. Click here to check out photos from this show.
March 29 & 30 - Jonny Lang
Since January 2010 I have had the chance to see Jonny Lang 5 times. 6 if you count meeting him at Winter NAMM. I will gladly see him every chance I get. Opening the show for Jonny Lang both nights was The Michael Williams Band. Sometime I do a little research on the openers just to have an idea of what I'm in for. The Michael WIlliams Band totally took me by surprise. This band could easily headline their own show. From the first notes I knew I was in for something special. Michael Williams style is a bit of Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Santana, and Buddy Guy all mixed together. I might have missed a few but I think you get the idea. He put on a phenomenal show. I will say he was the best opener I have seen so far this year. Next was this kid named Jonny Lang. It's hard to believe that he's only 31 years old. He's been around for about 15 years or so. This kid still blows me away every time I see him. He's had the voice of an old blues man since the first time I heard him sing on his "Smokin" CD released in 1997. He only seems to get better with age. He not only has the voice but he is a great guitar player. He is the total package. I have never seen anyone who puts so much energy and emotion into his entire show. Start to finish. Two hours non stop. There is nothing like it. His band is one of the best I have seen. This year he brought a little surprise with him. His little sister came along to sing backup vocals. She is just as amazing as her brother. It must be something in the Lang family gene pool. During the second show Jonny let a 19 year old guitarst from San Juan Capaistrano get up and play with him during the song "Rack em Up". (Click here to check it  out) The kid was pretty good. I talked to him after the show. He said that he wrote Jonny Lang a letter and gave it to him after the show on Thursday night. The next afternoon he got a text asking him to come down and play with him that night. How cool is that? If life was like the movie "Ground Hog Day" I would gladly choose to relive either of these two nights.
March was awesome! 
On deck for April Squeeze on the 11th and Ted Nugent on April 26th
Who knows what might pop up in between - Stay tooned!


  1. Awesome idea of March Madness. The more music the better! Especially when you're talking about Lee Rocker. Great post.

    1. Robert,

      Glad you enjoyed the post. I get a lot of my writing inspiration from you. Thanks!

  2. Some very expressive photos! Wish I could've made it out to see John Waite.