Monday, June 16, 2008

Of Floods, Funk and Glam

Apologies for the blog slack of late, and for missing the first Friday Funk in a while. But Iowa is flooded, I'm traveling, and the former altered the latter significantly. Fortunately my building wasn't affected by the flood, but large portions of Iowa City were, not to mention our sister city, Cedar Rapids. There are literally hundreds of people from Iowa City alone without Internet, power and sadly, homes. It's been a hell of a week, and my only point of comparison is the tornado of 2006. Midwest weather can be crazy and catastrophic, no doubt. So if you know anyone that lives in the area, give them a ring to see how they're doing, and if it's within your ability to help out in someway, go for it.


So I initially planned to leave town on Friday for a wedding in Pittsburgh. I ended up spending thursday night in Moline to escape the floods (of course when I arrived in Moline, I was greeted with a wicked storm and tornado warnings).

This weekend also happens to be the annual Three Rivers Arts Festival in Pittsburgh. Artists selling their wares, more food on a stick than should exist, and my main interest year after year - free music. Years past have brought Sonic Youth, Wilco, Patti Smith, and others I can't recall at the moment. I happened to be in town on the right weekend.

On friday, I dragged my family to see Maceo Parker.

This is especially well timed, because a friend of mine gave me The JBs Anthology for my birthday. I saw Maceo once maybe 6 or 7 years ago. It was still funky as hell. He played some classic James Brown grooves (Make it Funky, Lickin' Stick, Papa Don't Take No Mess, Soul Power, Too Funky in Here, among others) and JBs classics (Givin' Up Food for Funk, Pass the Peas) along with some of his solo work. It was a funky time indeed, and he played for a good 3+ hours.

But the real musical highlight of the weekend was the New York Dolls, for their first Pittsburgh performance in 35 years.

I've been trying to see the Dolls since they got back together a few years ago. It never worked out. They were always in Chicago when I was in Pittsburgh, in DC when I was in Iowa, etc. So I was stoked to finally catch them, and for free!

One thing I noticed both with the Dolls and Maceo - I love being outdoors, and I love free shows. But as a fan, I think I get more amped up being in a club or other venue for a show. There's just a certain vibe that being in confines creates (not to mention better sound).

Anyhow, the Dolls were great. My one complaint is that they played far too much from their new album, One Day it Will Please Us to Remember Even This. Now I like the album, and especially for a 'reunion' set, it's pretty strong. However, they played 8 of the album's 14 tracks, when I (and I assume most of the audience) was more interested in hearing the early stuff. Of course, they only have three albums worth of material anyway, but I would have liked to hear some of my neglected favorites, like "Subway Train" or "Bad Girl." Along those lines, I thought "Gotta Get Away from Tommy" (one of my least favorite songs from the new album) was a pretty poor choice for a closer. Still, they hit most of the bases, they played great, and I wasn't disappointed by any means. The set (in no order):

Personality Crisis
Can't Put Your Arms Around a Memory/Lonely Planet Boy
Jet Boy
Puss N Boots
Human Being
Looking for a Kiss
Private World
We're All in Love
Fishnets and Cigarettes
Dancing on the Lip of a Volcano
Plenty of Music
Gotta Get Away from Tommy
Rainbow Store
Dance Lie a Monkey
Punishing World
Piece of My Heart (Janis)

The Dolls are one of my top 10 favorites, so I'm glad I got to see them even in this incarnation. I don't think I have any other shows lined up for a while. Medeski Martin & Wood are slated to play Iowa City's Jazz Fest, but who knows what kind of shape the city will be in by then. Mother nature can be a bitch.

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