Paul McCartney In Madison

We accompanied the Lady de Gloves, our sister, and a friend to see Paul McCartney at the Kohl Center in Madison.  Wow! it was worth the trip.  Paul gave a three hour tour (just like Gilligan) of 38 songs from the Beatles, Wings, and his solo work.  You need to see him before this musical treasure is gone.

Paul’s voice is not the instrument it once was but he is still a joy to listen to.  What make it a great show is the songs, the organization, his presence, and his musical skills.  Paul is onstage for all three hours playing a variety of guitars, keyboards, and a (baby?) grand piano.  It makes three hours fly by.

Paul is a star and he knows it because he can still connect to us. At one point amidst all the applause he says (approximately) I think I’ll take a second to drink it all in.  It wasn’t a talk-fest like some concerts (Donovan) we have been to but he did have some great stories.  The one we liked was very brief and concerned writing Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite and the relationship we saw with expertise.  Paul related, as many knew, that a substantial part of the lyrics came from a poster of John’s.  Paul made a self-depreciating comment something like, “After that there wasn’t much to writing it.”  Of course there was much to it.  The first step was to see the germ of the song on the poster.  The second step was to flesh it out.  Several steps later there is a song worth including on Sgt. Pepper.

The organization of the show starts with the brass section showing up in the third (?) song in the audience in about section 105.  Shortly after they closed off part of the stage to do some of the older Beatles songs as a small group.  Later, Paul did a couple of solos on a cube that rose up (15 feet?) from the stage.  The pyrotechnics in Live And Let Die scared the bejeezus out of us.  The video content was interesting.  We especially liked the tribute to George.

And there are great songs even without playing Yesterday!  We could list a half dozen songs he should have added.  Paul is still the popular rocker he was with the Beatles so his library is 50 plus years of joy.  Sure there was a song about bullying and another about segregation (Blackbird) but it was not a woke show.  It was fun.  It was great fun.  You should see Paul while you still can.

 

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Generational Awareness

Recently The Donald called Pete Alfred E. Neuman.  We thought Pete feigned knowledge of the What – Me Worry kid when he said he had to look it up.  As the cite says, Alfred has shown up in various places in public view.  We have, however, changed our mind about generational awareness.

One of our alumni magazines recently had a cover story on a young woman with the title Fearless Leader.  To us that term only mean one thing, this guy, the dictator of Pottsylvania and employer of Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale.  The cartoon series about Rocky and Bullwinkle (it had several names) led to several movies.  Fearless Leader was once played by Robert De Niro.  It (now The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle) is even an Amazon Video series.

Sidebar One: We know we are going to go to Amazon tonight to see the new version.  It will be easy to be disappointed because the old version was so great.  Our expectations relate to our cultural awareness.  The original reflected our culture.  It is unlikely that the new one will.  End Sidebar One.

The publication lists lots of alums on the editorial masthead with graduation dates.

Sidebar Two: We were going to say we needed an editor but were  pretty sure that the phase had mast in it.  When we tried editorial mast we got a result.  So we will do without an editor for a little longer.  End Sidebar Two.

Only one person on the masthead (1997) is from the last century.  We have come to the conclusion that cultural memory doesn’t last because culture is so fractured and changes so fast that old stuff goes down the memory hole increasingly quickly.  It is no surprise that recent graduates would make such a faux pas.  We can’t keep up with the current culture.  It is not surprising that Pete and the rest have such little recollection of ours.  We should be understanding of each other’s lack of knowledge.

Bag Rock

We escorted the Lady de Gloves to see the Red Hot Chili Pipers.  They are sometimes confused with the Red Hot Chili Peppers but only the former has bag pipes and wears kilts.  In fact, if you search the Pipers you will find several news stories on folks getting the wrong tickets.  We got a warning before the show not to be confused.  In case you are wondering, the Peppers started first in 1983 with the Pipers formed in 2002 and really came to notice in 2007 when they won a BBC talent show.

We completely enjoyed the show at the Ordway in Saint Paul.  Like many other places the Ordway has more than one theater but we can’t find out how many.  This was a smaller venue that was just right for the show and crowd.

Sidebar.  Yes it was awhile ago.  We figure that if you are going to see the Pipers then you will wait until they get in your neck of the woods.  We try to take our time with the reviews to get a full story.  End Sidebar

It was different from most rock concerts where you go to hear the big hits and perhaps something new.  We have seen Jackson Browne twice and neither time did we hear Load Out/Stay. We were disappointed about that. The Pipers play mostly covers and you go to hear the version with the pipes and the drums added to the usual guitars. keyboard, and vocals.  They have an excellent vocalist but he is on stage probably less than half the time.  Besides the vocalist they have three pipers, guitar, bass guitar, keyboardist, and two drummers.  Instruments dominate the performance.  First the pipers are front and center, then the guitar, and a real highlight was a drum duet with the drum set and snare drum.  The guy on the snare drum, Grant Cassidy, is listed as a many time (8?) world champion.  He is great and great fun although we never knew that there was a snare drum world championship and we can’t seem to find it or him.

Watch for the footwear.  Five members of the band wear these strange (to us.  they are Scottish, we assume) shoes that seem to have no tongues and what we see as extraneous laces up the calf.  The other four wear black Chuck Taylor hightops.   When they all (or most) are lined up on stage you should expect footwear to alternate.

We are not sure about the Peppers but the Pipers are worth seeing.  Bring your Saltire or Rampant Lion (or they will sell you a t-shirt with the latter) and enjoy seeing the Pipers pipe.  You kids might enjoy it, especially if they have seen How To Train Your Dragon with music from the Pipers.

American Players Theatre 2019 Season

It is American Players Theatre’s (APT) 40th anniversary this year.  You should visit APT and Spring Green, Wisconsin this summer.  It has terrific actors in great plays in a lovely setting.  Tickets are now on sale for returning patrons.

If you haven’t been there then you should know that there are two theaters.   The Hill is a beautiful outdoor theatre on, no surprise, the top of a hill.  Don’t worry the seats are very nice and the theatre has recently been redone.  Transportation is available for those who can’t or don’t want to walk up the hill.  We recommend the walk.  Touchstone is a smaller indoor theatre that is a great place to watch an intimate play and get out of the summer sun.  There are many picnic tables to have a meal before or after the show.  Check the APT schedule as they have some outside organizations bring in food on certain days.

There is other entertainment in the area as well.  You can go all cultural and add Frank Lloyd Wright’s Talliesin.  Or you can try more popular culture and hit the House on the Rock.  The affiliated House on the Rock resort has a nice golf course and is across the street from APT and a few miles from the actual House on the Rock.  You can laze around the Wisconsin River or make a short drive and see the Great River and its road.  You can learn how to pronounce Mazomanie.  While you are there you should eat at the Old Feed Mill.  There are lots of hotels and places to camp but don’t wait until the last minute to make reservations.  As we said, APT has terrific actors in great plays in a lovely setting.  Make the trip.

 

Talent And Success

We are in Nashville to watch the Patriots play the Titans.  While in Music City we decided to take in a little music.  We went to the Five Spot to see some live music.

Sidebar: We were talking to the manager of the Brooks Hubbard Band and he said he was from MA.  It turned out that he and one of the band members both went to the same high schools as MWG.  It can be a very small world.  MWG would recommend BHB even without the high school connection.  End Sidebar.

The four bands we saw, and especially the Brooks Hubbard Band were really good.  They were talented to try to be more specific.  Of course, the exact dimensions of talented are murky.  Does talent include drive to succeed?  Watch Tin Cup to see some of the subtle distinctions that come into play.  Tin Cup brings up the point that athletes and musicians face a similar problem of talent and success.

On the other hand, if you are a talented accountant, your probability of success is really high.  There is much more risk for athletes and musicians.  Risk, as we know, has both upside and downside elements.  The Rolling Stones make more than their accountants even though both are near the top of their professions.

Talent and risk make it a complicated world for making decisions about careers.  It is hard to evaluate your own talent.  It isn’t easy to evaluate others talent.  And very few of us understand risk very well.  And then there are all of the human issues.  It is easy to see why folks have difficulty with career decisions.

 

SiriusXM Error

We are big fans of SiriusXM.  Well, make that almost always big fans.  We love to listen to Classic Vinyl and variety of other music stations.  On long trips the sports are great for keeping the driver alert and it is joy not to look for new radio stations every hour.

Aretha Franklin recently died.  We are not super fans but the announcer on Classic Vinyl (Meg?) brought it up.    She said she couldn’t play Aretha on Classic Vinyl.  Be serious Sirius.  Aretha is the first woman in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Play one song and send the fans to the other stations.  Classic Vinyl does it all the time.  If you want to hear more (blues, soft rock, folk, Billy Joel, Grateful Dead, etc) like the song that we just played turn to this station.

It would have been easy and appropriate to for the announcer to play the rebel.  It is rock and roll.  Aretha deserves some RESPECT.

Born Yesterday – The Play

We accompanied the Lady de Gloves to see the opening night of Born Yesterday at American Players Theatre (APT) in Spring Green, Wisconsin.  We encourage you to go to APT any time you have a chance and especially to go “up the hill.”  Up the hill is to the Hill Theatre cut into the top of a hill in the woods.  Some evenings when the lights go out the stars are spectacular.  Other evenings, like ours, it gets amazingly black.  You do have to worry about rain but it is worth the chance.

APT has developed a talented Core Company over the years.  We got to see two of the stars shine despite the clouds: Colleen Madden as Billie Dawn and David Daniel as Harry Brock.  Colleen was wonderful as the ditzy show girl turned into an intellectual with a ditzy touch by a writer at The New Republic.  She gets to wear great styles to stunning effect.  The late forties must have been when The New Republic drifted away from the Progressive cause because the reading list he prepares pays homage to the Founders.  David is the most disgusting cut-throat capitalist you could imagine.  He is ill mannered in speech, manners, and behavior as well as poorly educated and dishonest.  Every moment he is onstage you loath him.  Compared to him The Donald is a model of decorum.

One interesting part of viewing Born Yesterday was the audience.  Spring Green is close to Madison and Madison has a well deserved reputation.  Our first take was that it was a typical bad businessman story was influenced by the audience.  Make no mistake, Harry is one of the most antagonistic antagonists but the play is much more than that.  We think is makes important statements about rights, education, and power.

The first point is that even folks as loathsome as Harry have their rights.  We forget if Billie or the writer is responding to the legality of Harry’s project by saying we’ll change the law.  Here the protagonists have forgotten their principles, specifically rule of law.  Rights are not rationed by niceness.

The second point is about education.  Billie’s education is a classically liberal one with documents from the Founders and classics from writers Charles Dickens.  Billie’s education compares well to most university curriculums today.  We think that important point was missed by the audience.

The third point is about power.  At the end Billie has Harry in her power.  Is she any better than Harry?  We don’t want to resolve that point but as a point of comparison go see Shakespeare’s The Tempest.  Prospero is more magnanimous than Billie.  It doesn’t mean that Billie is bad it just shows her humanity.

It is an excellent play in a great place with wonderful performances.  Go see it.