Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Groove Is Dead And Gone

The King of Pop died today. I wasn't a huge fan...didn't own any actual records, downloaded a few singles of my favorite tunes of his and the Jackson 5. But he was undeniably a masterful musician and performer, and since I'm at least tangentially in the same business as he was, I must pay my respects.

I grew up with Michael Jackson. He was 3 years older than me, so I was about seven when he hit the charts with the J5. "ABC" was my favorite at the time and remains so. Back then I liked the shout-out chorus, I guess. Nowadays I love the bass line and the exuberant groove.

I really started listening - as a musician - when "Off The Wall" came out in 1979. I was a junior at Mauston Area High School, and was way into The Cars, UFO, Van Halen and hard rock. But the radio played "Rock With You" and 'Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" and "She's Out of My Life" a lot and there was no denying the brilliant songs, performance and production. I really liked the vocal phrasing on "Rock With You", especially the way he says "girrrll" as an aside on the outchorus. It was cool.

Three years and a ton of awards later, we got "Thriller", the most succesfull album ever made, with estimates of world-wide sales to be between 47 and 100 million copies and 28 million in the U.S. alone. Seven Top Ten singles. "Billie Jean". "Thriller"."Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'". "The Girl Is Mine". "Beat It". "Human Nature". "P.Y.T."

He mastered the music video art form, ushered in the extended video re-mix with the title track, and became the King of Pop with that record. He never needed to do anything else.

But he did.

After that came "We Are The World", the re-united Jackson's massive "Victory" tour, and the Paul McCartney collaborations. The follow up album "Bad" (imagine the pressure!) had five number one singles on it. After that I lost interest and only heard bits and pieces of his output.

RIP, Michael. I hope you find the peace you sang about.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

O Breather, Where Art Thou?

Hmm...well talk about being caught up in the fable. It finally feels like I can take a breather and it's been six weeks since I posted last.

The Keith Urban tour has been going great. We've been to the East coast and Canada, then St.Paul, Chicago and Green Bay (where I made a pilgrimage to Lambeau and the Pro Shop). Then a week off, which I spent in Wisconsin, and then shows in West Virginia, Virginia and Alabama.

Here are a few shots from the rehearsals we had in Nashville:

Ken "Cubby" McDowell, Audio Tech

There's about 80 of us out here putting the show together including carpenters, lighting guys, video guys, audio guys, back line techs, tour management, trainers, masseuses, catering people, bus and truck drivers, etc.

Trace Foster, Guitar and Keyboard Tech

Joe Keiser, Monitor Engineer

Mark Dobson, Pro Tools Guy

Dobson, Steve Law (Front of House Engineer),
Chris McHugh (Musical Director/Drummer)

The Rehearsal Set List

We've had some great opening acts so far: Little Big Town, Jason Aldean, Zac Brown Band and Dierks Bentley. We'll be seeing Sugarland, Taylor Swift and LeAnn Rimes in the future.