Neil Diamond, Periscope and Changing the Concert Experience

From the comments I hear from others I’m certainly not the only person ambivalent in my feelings about social media and the advancing charge of technology. I have bought into it with full commitment, yet fairly often look back with a bit of longing for the ‘good old days’ less than a decade ago when I didn’t even have a Facebook account.

I am not as connected as I could be. In most areas I think I’m primarily a dabbler, but more and more I’m realizing that many of the news outlets and local radio personalities I enjoy are teasing and throwing out incentives to connect by apps that seem to be proliferating at a rate that far exceeds my learning curve.

I’ve been thinking more about this since Jay and I enjoyed a May evening with Neil Diamond at the Hollywood Bowl.

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I am sorry I didn’t write down the names of these two very enthusiastic fans. This was NOT their first Neil Diamond concert.

At one point Jay did comment, “Where are the young people?” His sincerity in the question did strike me funny, so what did I do? I immediately posted his comment to Facebook, which then started a conversation with friends all over the country. I don’t post that often, but I must admit I enjoy the potential for immediate connection.

As we found our seats and settled in for the evening the large video screens invited the audience to participate in tweeting messages at #tweetcaroline.

Some of the messages were hilarious. “The guy in front of me has a big head,” or “Older crowd tonight. Forever in Mom Jeans, ” and “Wait!…This isn’t the Slayer concert?”

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Then 74 year-old Neil Diamond took control of the stage, and backed by his incredibly strong (they’ve been together a long time) 12-piece band, delivered an almost 2 1/2 hour non-stop, intermission-free show.

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The only “senior moment” appeared when Neil stumbled upon announcing the Bowl concert was LIVE on #Periscope, the very new video streaming app purchased by Twitter in March of this year. Even a septuagenarian performer recognizes the value of social media in replenishing an aging fan base.

This aging fan temporarily downloaded Periscope, but I wasn’t sure what to do with it once I had it!

I guess even the telephone was once eyed with suspicion–and now look at us! I’ll keep sharpening my skills and try to keep up!

 

Cautionary tales with a side of singing

A recent book review sparked my interest. Some publishing houses are really pulling out the stops and know just how to attract readers! Take a look at this!

I was intrigued and did what I do far too many times–took a quick jaunt over to Amazon. I like to support businesses that acknowledge me on a first name basis. Then, a big surprise to me and probably a shock to my family as well as the guy who drives the Amazon delivery truck right up to our door, I did NOT purchase…not yet anyway.

The temptation is there, but then temptation is a key element of many cautionary tales, and the Brothers Grimm are perhaps our most familiar purveyors of warning.  One source notes that unless  you’re reading the “lightened up” fairy tales, the Disney-fied condensed versions, some fables should only be read “to kids you hate.” A harsh statement? I think perhaps they got it right.

Even Disney can be too much for me–think of Bambi or Dumbo.

When Sophia was in preschool I would read to her from a beautiful book that told the story of Bambi. It was not a “baby book’ but geared for young children with a well-developed attention span. I had a problem reading it to her, however, because I had to be lightning fast with story substitutions. She loved the flirtatious play between Bambi and Faline, but I couldn’t manage to read the parts involving Bambi’s mother and the hunter. Mothers don’t fare well in these fables.  Come to think of it, neither do fathers.

The truth is that I do find the brothers rather “grim,”   but I’ll admit I’m fascinated.  Then again, fascination is one of the major pitfalls in the majority of cautionary tales. Beware!

Musical entertainment is always my first choice and generally a lighter way for me to absorb a dark story.

I hope that many of you will make the effort to see the current release of “Into the Woods.” If you are not familiar with the original play, let me assure you that although older children might enjoy the movie, it is not primarily for children. Familiar fairy tale characters enter other stories in the most unique and creative unfolding to remind us all to be careful what we wish for, what we dream about, what we run after…temptation and lust and greed–and so much more. The brilliant Stephen Sondheim allowed some changes to make his wonderful work more cinematic, with some scenes less graphic and violent than the stage play. Disney has experience in this area. Nothing replaces live musical theater, but this is a good adaptation.  Read what Variety has to say for a much better review than I can provide. I’d see it again simply for Meryl Streep’s performance.

And my granddaughters are now ready to begin enjoying some of the live performances that are plentiful in Los Angeles.

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Two grandmothers, two mommies and four cousins went into Hollywood to see the stage production of Wicked at the famed Pantages Theater. Their oldest cousin had previously attended, but for the younger three this was the first time to see a performance of this magnitude. They were so excited and I don’t think Karina, the youngest at five, even moved. I did have to tap her lightly when at one point she started to hum.

I won’t admit how many times I’ve seen this play, but it grows in richness each time and like much of what we enjoy in theater, music or literature, there are deep layers of story to stimulate thought–or, as in the case of the children not quite old enough to catch those cautionary themes, just sit back and take in the music, and wonder, as Sophia questioned, “What do they use to get her to fly?”

I’m listening to my personal warnings–my own cautionary tale. About that Princeton University Press release of The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm– I am really tempted. But then, how many books can one stack about the house before they become a physical threat? I DO live in California Earthquake territory.

Maybe if you share your favorite cautionary tale I’ll be distracted and forget about my Amazon wish list? Help me out, please!

The Laurel Canyon Sound at the Los Angeles Grammy Museum

 

I haven’t been reticent in telling you about the concerts I’ve enjoyed this past season and by now it should be clear that whenever possible I enjoy a bit of nostalgia mixed in to round out the experience. There are particular periods in my musical memory that I have always found intriguing, and this summer I was able to really jump into one of those periods by way of a very interesting and entertaining  exhibit that opened earlier this year at the Grammy Museum in downtown Los Angeles.

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I previously mentioned how much fun it was to meet one of the local Disc Jockeys I listened to throughout my teen years. The more I mused over the memories of my “radio days” I recognized that my curiosity about the story behind people, places and events has always been a part of my entertainment. Wouldn’t I have enjoyed blogging in the 1960’s!

The music associated with Laurel Canyon, represented by many of my favorite artists, isn’t just the songs I heard on the radio, but a much larger story that has fascinated me for decades. My bookshelves show my interest with several volumes specifically dedicated to the Laurel Canyon artists of the 1960’s and 1970’s and the mystique that continues to surround this particularly unique portion of the Hollywood Hills.

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The exhibit does not allow for photography, so unfortunately I can’t show you Jim Morrison’s writing chair, Frank Zappa’s drumhead,  Mama Cass Elliot’s hand-painted chair, or dozens of amazing Harry Diltz and Graham Nash photos from that era.  According to Michael Walker’s “Laurel Canyon, The Inside Story of Rock-and Roll’s Legendary Neighborhood,” Laurel Canyon is described as where “Pot and sympathy at Cass Elliot’s, Crosby, Stills and Nash in the living room, Eric Clapton in the backyard, [and] California dreaming’ becomes a reality.”

Joni Mitchell, Graham Nash, Stephen Stills, David Crosby, Carole King, Judy Collins, Glenn Frey and Don Henley of the Eagles, Mickey Dolenz of the Monkees and John and Michelle Phillips and Denny Doherty of the Mamas and the Papas as well as Jim Morrison and other members of the Doors all called Laurel Canyon home during Laurel Canyon’s golden era.

 

IMG_4011One of my favorite photos is Joni Mitchell at her Laurel Canyon bungalow, the inspiration for Graham Nash’s “Our House,” the home they shared together “with two cats in the yard.”

I didn’t know about Laurel Canyon when I was a teen, but it wasn’t unusual to hear stories about the artists playing in the Los Angeles area, and although I didn’t know anything substantive about the private lives of these 60’s music rock stars, the mystique surrounding the Whiskey A Go-Go on the Sunset Strip and other night clubs just down the hill from Laurel Canyon was common knowledge–the local Dee-Jays kept those stories front and center.

Here’s a little piece of trivia you may not know. In November 1966 Buffalo Springfield started playing as the house band at Whisky a Go-Go. Huge crowds of teens congregated on the Strip in order to be a part of the vibrant and exciting psychedelic era music scene. When local residents began demanding a curfew the teens protested the curfew, and fueled by announcements from local rock radio stations thousands of teens flocked to Sunset Boulevard.

The protest erupted with demonstrators clashing with police, and Buffalo Springfield band member Stephen Stills composed “For What It’s Worth,” not as an anti-war song as it is typically regarded, but in response to the “Sunset Strip riots.”

“California Dreamin': The Sounds of Laurel Canyon” continues until the end of November and if you’re in the Los Angeles vicinity I think you’d thoroughly enjoy stepping back into a musically rich era and seeing some of today’s still wonderfully prolific and entertaining artists captured in photos with expressions of youthful exuberance.

I can’t share the photos, but I can send you on a tour. Ray Manzarek and Bobby Krieger of the Doors have a blog tour you might find interesting. You can hop on board the bus right HERE. This is just a very short tour of “Love Street,” where Morrison and his girlfriend Pamela Courson lived in Laurel Canyon. Parts of the home are still there, but a fire, new owners and more than four decades have erased all but the nostalgia.

If you have as strong an interest in the music and the stories of the 60’s as I do, you might enjoy this rather extensive look at Laurel Canyon history. Access the wealth of stories HERE and you’ll be able to answer any possible Jeopardy questions related to Laurel Canyon and the music of the 60’s and 70’s.

Next time I’m in the area I’ll stop and take a few photos of the “old neighborhood.” Once a year , Laurel Canyon residents gather at the Canyon Country Store for a portrait–without the countercultural “loitering and countless drug deals in the parking lot.” At least that’s what I hear!