Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving Raspberries

Just a few weeks ago, when a seemingly extraordinary heat wave allowed us to keep the pool open well in to October, I wrote about a potential Thanksgiving Pool Party. OF course, I wasn't exactly serious, as we closed the pool just two days after the note... though it might have been warm enough to swim on Halloween.

It wasn't warm enough to swim, but things stayed alove. Leaves stayed on trees. And without a hard freeze, many plants continued to grow.

It snowed a bit Wednesday night. And, no, we didn't go swimmimg yesterday on Thanksgiving. But we did go out and pick raspberries. We had cousins visiting. From Florida. And, when brunch was over, I just asked, "who wants to go pick raspberries?" They may live in Florida, but they still understand that something about raspberries in Michigan in late November just seems a little... weird. So, out we went. A nice full basket later, we were satisfied. Elianna ate all the raspberries, of course.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Bruce in Michigan, November 5, 2007

A quick show, so a pretty quick review.

The band is so tight now that they're wonderful every night, it seems. Last night's setlist certainly wasn't as exciting as Sunday night's in Cleveland, and perhaps I felt a few too many moments where Bruce was playing a role... but it's a really good role -- that of "Bruce Springsteen."

The setlist highlight was "Jackson Cage," which I don't think I've ever witnessed before. It was flawless to my ears, and the transition in to "She's the One" was perfect. The low-light was "Working on the Highway." A good friend of mine tells me that song is a "girl thing."

The line-up for the pit was an extraordinary sight. After 1140 wristbands for 250 pit positions in Cleveland, it was 754 wristbands for 570 pit spots yesterday. Good thing for us, we were 524/525 from the lottery winner. But that's not what made it extraordinary: what did that was that Jerry and Palace personnel lined up all 754 wristband holders on the indoor entry steps by the box office. It looked like the high school class of 1980, from a really big high school, all neatly lined up for a group photo.

Before the show, was talking to Lauren, who mentioned "I'll Work For Your Love." Lori came over, and immediately said how much she hates that one -- as in, she has the CD in the car and hits the skip button when it comes on. I didn't prep Lori for that. So, clearly, Bruce dedicated that song to me: So says my friend Chris. I will concede this: they played it competently. And this: it has dangerous potential to evolve in to "Leap of Faith" lite, including the shtick. And this: Chris has a wicked sense of humor. And so does Bruce.

During the encores, Bruce asked a 6-year old kid up front what happened to the sign he'd been holding. The sign was retrieved, and Bruce held it up for the audience. The sign was a song request, and Bruce played it: "Ramrod." The scene made for a highlight moment for any night, even though it replaced "Kitty's Back" in the setlist. The kid (name is Noah) was in major fist-pump mode (both arms) throughout. Later, Bruce let him play the guitar during "Born to Run," and he ended up with Max's drumsticks. I suspect it's a night he'll never forget.



The crowd was a little weak by comparison to the previous night. There were large sections of the upper bowl sitting empty. Among those who showed up, song recognition was also a bit weak. Those of us on the floor chanted out the audience participation portion, but for "Girls in Their Summer Clothes" it seemed like we were nearly the only ones who knew the words.

The show barely made it to 2 hours, and for all I've defended short shows, it felt short this night.

The 5-song suite at the end was superb; Bruce's solos in Devil's Arcade and Badlands rocked (I think Badlands was Stevie's on some previous tours, but I noticed Bruce took it last night for all it was worth). And, at least from where we were, the sound was great.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Discography and Amazon, 2007 Q2

In late 2005, I established an associates account with amazon, going primarily from my discography page. Any amazon.com sales generated by people navigating to amazon from my site generates commissions, that amazon eventually sends my way.

As I noted at that time, anything that comes my way from amazon.com will be turned over to charity, on a quarterly basis, doubled by a match from me. All selected charities will be from the set of charities documented at http://bruce.orel.ws/charities.html.

During Q2 2007, a total of 43 items were sold by amazon off links from the site. Total commissions for the quarter were $32.19. With rounding, this quarter's donation+match is $65.00. This brings the total raised for charity since the inception of the amazon account up to exactly $1000, to 11 different charities. To see a list of the beneficiaries to date, please see http://bruce.orel.ws/donations.html.

The donation for Q2 is being made on November 7, 2007. This evening, Bruce Springsteen is appearing at an event titled Stand Up For Heroes: A Benefit for the Bob Woodruff Family Fund. To commemorate this event, the Q2 2007 donation is being to the Bob Woodruff Family Fund.

The Bob Woodruff Family Fund for Traumatic Brain Injury assists service members injured while serving in the United States Armed Forces. Special emphasis is placed on the "hidden signature injuries" of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – traumatic brain injury (TBI) and combat stress injuries including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The Fund works with private industry and government to develop public awareness and excellence in research, education, prevention, diagnosis, treatment, support and resources for the injured and their families as they reintegrate to duty or civilian life.

To donate to the Bob Woodruff Family Fund, please click here.

If you buy things at amazon (doesn't have to be Bruce stuff), please consider going through one of the links off http://bruce.orel.ws/discography.html, or the left panel link on any page within the sub-site "The Songs of the Seeger Sessions". Or, if you're viewing the blog, just click to amazon logo above. You'll get the same prices as ever, and a percentage will end up with one of the charities. If you have any recommendations for the next recipient, please contact me at matt@orel.ws.

Thanks to everyone who has participated!
Results for Q3, along with the next recipient, will be up in a couple months.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Burst Just Like a SuperNova (Cleveland, November 4, 2007)

One great thing about seeing many Bruce Springsteen shows is, the next show just could be the best yet. It's one of those euphoric feelings that comes from sharing the space during one of those evenings when all I can say is, "he's on fire." Tonight was one of those nights.

As I was in General Admission, I arrived early for the "pit lottery." And, since the arena is connected by an indoor walkway to my hotel, I left my jacket behind.

The walkway was closed, the lottery was outside, I was wearing a t-shirt, and though it was reasonably nice out, it was still November in Cleveland.

Just behind me in the line was a man with 3 young girls, ages 9, 10 and 12 ("almost 13," she said). They had made signs and the oldest had one rolled up in her pocket, so I asked them to show me. The best of them said, "Dance With Me." There were 1100 people lined up for 250 pit spots, I had no jacket and the temperature was dropping.
The setlist was a powerhouse. Attack, attack, attack. Perhaps the only exception being the rap leading in to "Livin' in the Future." Every song just sizzled, from the very beginning. "Radio Nowhere" and "Night" set the tone, and it went from there. "It's So Hard to be a Saint in the City" was incendiary, with a guitar duel between Bruce and Steve that surpassed their duel just a few songs earlier in "Gypsy Biker." As that song reached its climax, with Bruce signaling Max with head nods and going ever faster and harder, the folks near me were going in to a frenzy. The band didn't quite get the ending… but no really cared.

The middle of the set featured a "women's section," starting with Patti taking lead for he song "Town Called Heartbreak" (from her album "Play it as it Lays," which I'd recommend to anyone). Patti seemed to be in a very good mood, and her interactions on stage with Bruce almost had me wishing for them to go get a room already… except that it'd interrupt the concert. Then, "Tunnel of Love," again featuring some strong Patti harmonies. And, a tour premiere of "Be True," maybe the first time since it was part of the "Tunnel of Love Express" setlist. By the end of the song, Bruce was egging on Clarence to play his solo as it was on the original b-side; every time Clarence would play, there Bruce would be, saying, "play a high one!," until Clarence relented and played one (and got it, too).

Whether Bruce's message reached the audience, I can't be sure. Too many were just having too good a time.

"Kitty's Back" sparked the encores, and, after "Born to Run," it was time for "Dancing in the Dark." The girls were front and center (yes, we "won" the lottery!). He saw the sign. Cameras were ready… and… no dance (if he had danced with them, it would have been posted by now). Judging from their smiles afterwards, I think they were ok with that.