Sunday, May 5, 2013

Part 3: What an Actual Show Is Like: In This Generation

More discussions about the Bleeker St. scene.  Name drops John Sebastian (Lovin Spoonful) and Jug band music, which had its origins in the 1920's.

11) "If I could Shimmy like my sister Kate"  Got me dancing in my seat!!

12) "Come On In" Which he does softly and beautiful!! The best and sweetest song he has in his repertoire. (even if he forgets a line or two)  He shows the cover of an early 1960's album of Miss Alix Dobkin (Songs of Macedonia, etc).  Apparently he heard this song from her, and not from its writer, whose name even I can't remember. (Jo Mapes, listen to her original )

And then he tells the story of WHY he left for L.A.  "One day, when I was walking in the Lower East Side,  I was suddenly "struck & formed" and given information from on high to get out of town!!"  He added,  "I used to not tell this story, now I don't care what you think!"

He then rushes through the L.A./Huntington Beach, Golden Bear Scene.  Mentions Big Brother & Holding Company (people want to clap!!). Lenny Bruce!! Lynn Hughes, Stone Ground. Buffalo Fish.  (This is the history I've always wondered about.  I wish he would do a whole night on his NYC influences and one on the pre-Monkees scene)

Audition!! His "Personality test" appears on the screen.  Rare footage (on Youtube) and the great opportunity to watch him watching himself (he doesn't react at all or comment on it, so it wasn't as great a moment as it could have been).

He mentions that it was the worst rated pilot, but that it was later re-edited, to include Davy/Mike tests (he said at the end-like it was in the later reruns.  Actually, the show was saved by having it done at the beginning, to introduce the Boys.  A confusing story, made more so, by Peter's off the cuff remarks.)

He had met Mike as "an Open Mic MC"  (Hootenanny is not a familiar word to today's audiences?? Also,  was "Open Mic" ever used in the 1960's?)

They try to play the Kellogg commercial (them driving across the desert and posing with the cereal boxes)  to introduce the "Davy Jones salad story".  The audience anticipates it, he told it at the DJ Memorial at BBKing's last year.  Yet, he reprimands the audience before they react, "Don't spoil it!"   And then, when the laugh isn't as big as expected, he says, " I laughed much harder than you did, I must say."

Let me interrupt the running commentary to again note that he doesn't seem to be in control of the audience, like most (theater) performers.  He doesn't sculpt the moments to let the audience release tension.  They WANT to clap or get to a big LAUGH, it's all about the timing.  It's almost a big part of his act, and where he got the "dummy" character from.  Yet, it seems to be something that he finds befuddling and quite often gets annoyed or distracted by.  It always astounds me that for a man of so many years of experience onstage and of such solid technique, doesn't LISTEN to the responses of the audience. He doesn't seem to predict their laughter, or understand when they want to applaud. (This show also seemed to throw him off more, a full house, the first show in a new venue, technical errors.  The evening show showed a more relaxed performer, yet this is a repeated observation, having witnessed him over several years)

13) "Clarksville"
He begins it straight, mentions Shoe Suede Blues, points to Pam who is waving the newest CD. He plays it bluesy (and ballsy).

He goes into a major digression into negativity (which matters NOT A BIT to most people today!) "The charge was made..." that the Monkees didn't play their own instruments.  Tells how he brought his guitar to the first day of recording, Boyce & Hart (!!!!!) were the ones to ask him why he brought it.  Judged by the standards of the Beatles.  Fake integrity, fake that and you've got it made; I've heard it attributed to Quincy Jones.

Don Kirschner's photo appears, someone hisses, he encourages "boos". Someone says, "Booze, I'll drink to that!!". He has no retort....  (really, Peter?)  The complex story in detail about how Kirschner got fired. (He released a single in Canada, etc.)  He mentions "She" when talking about Donny. Reveals its in the title of his next song. I don't see him checking a set list. (Not an issue with his aging mind, btw, normal performer confusion. Especially since this is not scripted)
This digression ends with him admitting that Donny was a human. With a good ear.

14) "She hangs out" At first, the traditional way, and then the way he does it with his band now.
He says out loud, "I'm changing the plan", which is odd for a non-scripted show.

15) "Shades of Grey" at the piano. Recognition applause when he begins, and perhaps he plays louder than required.  Hearing it done live, with a single voice (his), on a grand piano, is amazing.  Even when he screws up a line or two, you are willing to forgive anything.

He introduces Andrew, again and talks over the spontaneous applause that would be natural. When he allows the audience to clap, it's no longer spontaneous. And he had to ask to clap more. Because he hasn't finished tuning his guitar. And then he turns it into a game, of cueing the audience.  It's a matter of knowing that there is applause, and he CAN control it with a wave of his hand.  (Not in the more subtle "timing" method, I mentioned earlier)

16) "For Pete's Sake"

17) "Where I'm going /leaving in the morning Blues"
His first song, he played it for his brother Nick, the genius in the family. Who suggested words.  In Venezuela, btw.  Early 1960's!!  Another story I want to hear much more about!!  Instead, we get, " It goes something like this . . . No.  It goes exactly like this."

It pleased our lord & master Bob Rafelson, I think he had a girlfriend. While filming, they faked a breakdown at the Arc de Triumph. When he lifted up the hood, it came off in his hands! Excellent material!! He wrote 2 songs in Paris, one which he says wasn't very good. The other has a complex & unrecognizable opening ("Holy Cow!" he says). It turns into:

18) "Lady's Baby", which was also a legendary beast in the recording studio. (And it's no "Come on in")

19) "Tear the top right off my head" There is a nice clip of him playing & Micky singing it from the "At sea" episode, which he immediately picks up and makes a perfect transition.  (Wish more of the songs could have gone this seamlessly.

20) "Alvin". He does this acapella at his solo shows already, a fun, quick little number.  But he sings "Sewer Pipe" instead of "Water Pipe", and ends with "And now I'm getting lonesome since he's mine", instead of "gone" like on the recording. "Mine" doesn't make sense, Peter!

21) Peter Percival.  The audience wants to sing along, but again, he won't let them.

Micky said you can't go back. So Peter quit. Peter had a band called "PT and/or Release". He heard that Raybert was getting together a movie and he brought them a theme song he had written.

22) "Easy Rider" (??!! )We watch it along with the opening of the movie. I can see why it wasn't chosen. Too bouncy, no real "sense" of what an "Easy Rider" is, just the repetition of the words.  Not a good choice.

He talks about how The Blues don't require a membership card, it's just a matter of practicing scales. 23) "Crashcourse in the Blues" off his new album.

24) "Gettin in" with the album cover from "Stranger things", which came before the reunion album, Pool It.

5:03 ends the show. No encore, but an announcement about the purchasing getting you to be first in line.

By 5:10, the ferocious herd descends and I am trapped. I try to offer help to Pam, but there is an awkward bottleneck because the signing area is the opposite side of the exit and it means that audience members have to leave by the rear entrance. I abandon all plans to say hi and escape before I am smothered.  And glad I have a ticket to the evening show.

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